True night never falls on the denizens of the Undercity. How can it, when the entirety of their world exists as it does beneath an artificial sky?

Though it was originally constructed in order to protect the last remnants of humanity from the magnetic storms that ravaged the surface during The Fall, the metallic plate that now sits atop the Undercity was constructed in the hopes of giving the rich and the well to do citizens of SynCity a place to live free from the corrupting influence of their lesser neighbors.

While it is still considered by many to be a marvel of architectural engineering and technological wizardry, it has effectively increased the size of SynCity without needing to expand any of its borders by pushing back the storms. The downside to this however is that it has served to exacerbate the problems already prevalent in a two-tiered society.

Heaven only knows what will happen when we add Chimeras into the mix.

~~The Ethical Architect.

A founder’s vision and guide to SynCity.

Chapter Twenty Three : Doctor Who?

Surrounded on all sides by a bunch of low level street thugs, Kato reveled in the glory of unrestrained violence. Before, if he fell or became injured, he knew the simulation would end. But here, with no such promise of safety to comfort him, he was truly fighting just to survive.

You cheap son of a whore!” Shouted Phoenix from a safe distance. “Someone hurry up and fuck him over.”

Language!” Said Kato as, ducking a blow from a lead pipe, he grabbed hold of the end, and reversing the momentum of the swing, snapped the wrist of the one who held it. And just to add insult to injury he leaned down and said. “You know, someone like you really should have learned when to let go.”

Aaaaaahhhh!”

Sidestepping a charge from a splicer with rams horn’s sprouting from his forehead, Kato stuck out his foot and said. “Ooh. Too much inertia there. Meet the wall.”

There was a loud crack followed by a cry for vengeance. Throwing a decent left hook a splicer who had clearly studied boxing attempted to challenge him.

No, no, no.” Swaying back and forth like a leaf in a breeze as he let the man’s punches go wide, Kato said. “Be more like water, let your movements flow from one to the next.” Acquainting him with a kick he said. “Your too stiff.” Introducing him to his own fist he added. “Next!”

One after another they kept getting in each other’s way in their attempts to be the first to reach him. Kato sighed as they stumbled over their fallen comrades in their haste, all the while shouting meaningless taunts and insults. They were making it too easy to provoke them into attacking him recklessly. But it was just a matter of time until things started to get serious. Because once the weakest among them had finished expending themselves in a burst of uncontrolled fury, the stronger more experienced fighters who had been waiting for their chance would be the ones to face him next.

This moment. It feels as if the time that had stopped during my long year of training has suddenly started moving again. Letting his body begin flowing through the first series of forms the way that he had been taught, Kato suddenly began to feel the rhythm of his own heart beating in his chest. What’s happening to me? He wondered as he let the soft, subtle sound become the focus for his movements. This isn’t anything like what I experienced in the simulator. These are real people, not machines. They feel pain just as I do, fear just as I do. Kato started to tremble. So why am I enjoying it so much?

Looking deep into his own heart, while existing in a world that was all his own, he finally allowed himself to see the truth he had hidden from for so very long. Because this feeling, this nameless sensation. Its pleasant. Almost as if I were being bathed in a warm light. It suffuses my entire being, reminding me that I’m alive.

With his heart beating out a steady rhythm as he laid into all those around him with his fists, the sound of it began to fill him with a nameless thrill. In a way, it felt as if a power that he had long sought to deny had slowly begun welling up inside. Kato started to laugh as that feeling slowly intensified. This is life, this is power. More. Let me taste more of it. Help me feel alive!

Kicking a pipe into the crowd Kato spread his arms. “Come on, come at me! I’m already unarmed aren’t I? What more do I have to do to make things easier for you. Tie my hands behind my back? Come on!

Drawn to the commotion occurring right outside the doors of his club, the owner of The Velvet Room tapped Phoenix on the shoulder and said. “I think this fight has gone on for long enough, don’t you?”

Boss!” Bowing her head, Phoenix managed to somehow look chastised and pissed off at the same time. “You didn’t have to come out here. We can handle this!”

Pushing his sunglasses closer to his face, Zane pointed to Kato with his cane. “Have you even been watching the same fight as I have? All of you, you were hopelessly outmatched before this fight even began.”

Y-yes . . . but . . .” Phoenix cringed as the full weight of Zane’s sightless stare fell upon her. For someone who was supposed to be blind, he often saw things better then anyone.

Take a look at the palms of his hands. He has calluses from holding the hilt of a sword. And the way that he moves. Its a mixture of different disciplines and styles so careful and precise, its obvious that someone has taken time to train him to fight specifically against overwhelming numbers.” In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear that same someone forged him into a living weapon and then simply set him loose. But then, his self-control is much too refined for that. After all, he hasn’t even tried to kill anyone yet, just disabled them in the most efficient, if painfully humiliating way possible. No. He’s acting too much like the chimera that he is. And at the moment, that means he’s only toying with his prey. Drawing a single cigarette from the pack that he kept in the front pocket of his solid blue leisure suit, Zane lit it and said. “You know, if tiger boy over there were to suddenly start taking this fight seriously, this entire area could easily turn into one big bloodbath. And I don’t know about you Phoenix, but I’m old, and I don’t feel up to explaining to the cops how the streets outside my shop suddenly wound up with their new paint job.” Knocking the ash from the tip he added. “Red’s not exactly my favorite color you know.”

Getting the message loud and clear Phoenix stepped forward to try and put a stop to the fight, only to stumble backwards and begin to shiver uncontrollably. “What . . . what the hell is this unbelievable pressure?” Shaking her head she said. “The moment that his eyes turned towards me, I began to feel as if some gigantic hand started to press down on me.” Knowing that he had done it to teach her an object lesson, Phoenix started looking to him for answers. “Zane . . . why can’t I move!

Stepping forwards as if it were no trouble to him at all, Zane said. “The reason you can’t even stand is because the fear you feel from coming into contact with his projection of Ki is paralyzing you. Its not an altogether unusual phenomenon. In fact, amongst many of the martial arts it is considered an essential energy to be able cultivate. Although most people these days simply refer to it as their aura, it is exceedingly rare to see one so young able to use it with such a high degree of skill.” Offering Phoenix his hand, he thought to himself. Now I know who it was that helped him, the only question is, why?

Once she was able to stand on her own once more, Phoenix shrugged off Zane’s help and said. “You actually expect me to believe that new age hippie bullshit!”

Though it may have no physical grounding in science as we know it, the fact remains, it can still be felt. And it is not new age.” Zane added affectionately. “It is far older then you or I will ever be.” But no matter how fearsome he may be able to make himself look, such a technique is useless on one who cannot actually see it. What will he do when his trump card fails I wonder?

His tail lashing back and forth of its own volition, Kato started sniffing the air. In a way he was seeking out the scent of a strong opponent even as he blocked a punch that would have brought him low. Fighting on without the need for conscious effort, he felt the eyes of one who knew the secret to countering his technique looking down on him. Amplifying his presence, Kato focused on sending out a projection of himself in all directions.

Oh my, what a cold and lonely wind I feel brushing against my skin. I suppose it means that he’s finally starting to take notice of me. Took him long enough.”

Turning his gaze towards the sound as the last splicer suddenly fell to the ground, Kato knew in some dim part of his awareness that it was already over, that one old man hardly counted as a credible threat, but then again, having barely been able to exert himself after taking on an entire mob of splicers, was that what he would have considered a fair fight?

Are you the one they call The Doctor?” Said Kato as he stepped over the pile of broken bodies. Pleased to see that there was at least one person who knew how to overcome the fear his feral nature engendered as he closed the distance between them, he added. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of him you know. I asked them politely but, as you can see they weren’t too inclined to answer me.”

And if I am,” Said Zane. “Then what will you do?”

Kato let out a deep breath and relaxed. “I’ve heard that your the best at what you do.”

You heard right. But I only take on jobs if they interest me. So consider yourself to be shit out of luck.” Enjoying the look of utter confusion on the poor chimeras striped face as he turned to walk away, Zane waved goodbye. “Ta ta now.”

His shoulder’s slumping forward in defeat, Kato was incredulous. He had expected there to at least be some kind of negotiation, some degree of bluster and bravado, but this . . . to be outright ignored was something he had been ill prepared for. “But I haven’t even had a chance to tell you why I came!”

Oh I already know why you’re here. You said it yourself earlier, your looking for a way to go Cyberside. Sorry, but helping people commit suicide isn’t in my job description. So if your only reason for coming was to find someone willing to help you commit datatheft, go find a hacker looking to deal.”

I didn’t come here looking for someone who could find the information I want for me. I came to find a way to see it for myself. And if your not willing to help me go Cyberside,” Kato crossed his arms in front of his chest as he watched the old man hobble away. “Then so be it. Recommend me to someone who will.” The threat in his voice was implicit. Either the old man with the glasses told him what he wanted to know, or he would do everything in his power to make his brief visit as memorable as possible.

Leaning heavily on his cane, Zane blew smoke rings into the air as he cocked his head to the side. So, his determination surpasses even death does it? I suppose that it would have to, he has come in search of me all on his own. “Now that, is one of the few things in this world that I still find interesting. What is it about a man that makes him willing to throw his life away in the most agonizing way possible? I suppose that you could tell me just as easily once we’re inside.” Flicking the butt of his cigarette away he added. “And kid, you should know that its not ‘The Doctor’ its Zane.”

Grabbing hold of his jacket, Kato hurried to catch up with him and said. “What is?”

Proving that he didn’t need it, Zane tapped him with his cane. “My name.”

Funny,” Said Kato as he looked around at the multitude of misfits he had just handed a beating to. “From where I’m standing, I could’ve sworn it would be Moreau.”