Friday, May 14, 2010

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him

Dr Tom Chambers wanted to submit himself to the castigation of an anonymous judge; the hatred of mankind. To that end, there was no better hell than the ESE in the mid 1930s. He laboured under the jungle's veil, hunched under the weight of daily abominations he witnessed. Living and doubting within himself, letting no one into his inner sanctum of suffering. He wadded through horrors hoping to be washed by blood.

Resisting indifference, he sought to feel every tragedy, he thirsted for empathy to quench his pallet for suffering. It took him almost two seasons to get over the nightly vomiting and another season to overcome the shakes in the morning. After two cycles he was no longer plagued by nightmares more visceral than trauma surgery. His penance of blood and sweat, however, never shed a lacrimonious drop. In time, even his emotional masochism gave way to apathy for a war that was not his own.

Two days ago Kain Delacroix walked back into what passed for his life. Nothing had changed; Delacroix was still on his mission, still sure of himself, steeled with unbending resolve and certainty of purpose. Chambers hid the shakes the first night as he kept watch.

The next day, in an ambush, Chambers subjected Sam Tarmalin to an amicable pyre of bullets. Amid the broken ruins of Basal, under the threat of imminent death, there was still time for silent whispers of recrimination. The Doc wanted to blame Delacroix, blame him for Sam’s recklessness, for poor communication and shoddy leadership. No one saw him get sick in the ruins, he blamed everyone and everything; he blamed them for trusting him.

They met a Badlander, one who has rising in the ranks of Paxton, someone who benefited from Gerald Simosa’s new freedoms, brought about in a small way by Chambers’ travails in Peace River. In her he could have seen the achievements of his past. Instead, her smart looks, confident stance and business acumen just reminded him of himself. No one let him forget that no matter how far he run, how low he sunk and how much he eschewed, he remained Tomohiro Chambers.

This morning Chambers woke in a corner of his hotel room, wrapped in rags that used to pass for sheets before the nightmares of last night. The better part of a broken bottle of an Emirate bandy lay in shards throughout his hands and knees. Brown patches of dried blood speckled the floor. His unkempt beard, grown in the two cycles of jungle living and dying, had pieces of his diner which his body had rejected along with the excess of alcohol. He spent 10 cycles climbing up and the last three dinging deep to get away from himself but no matter where he went, there he was.

His whole body was made of ash and nothing but hurt inside kept him from blowing away. He wept, long and hard with the honest fear and pain of a newborn assaulted by the horrors of coming into the world. He cried himself to dust and clay.

When he woke up again he tended his wounds, cleaned his room and showered. In the steamed mirror he looked into tired red eyes and found he no longer hated the face there. He shaved to look under the mask of the beard and still he did not recoil. He ate alone with an appetite he had long forgotten. He used the last of his petty cash to see a tailor and be fitted for some sharp but functional new clothes.

In the full length mirror he took in what he saw: His mistakes but also his accomplishments, his friends and enemies, his loves and hates. His anhedonia had died in the jungles of the ESE, Tom Chambers could feel something other than uncertainty and self loathing. He felt pain, he felt hatred, but also joy and pride, once again, he believed he could feet purpose.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.