I was named John Holliday. I don't know why, but at the age of seven my vat-grown memory began to fluctuate, developing alternate neural pathways, new connections and coordinations... Name? John Holliday. No, that is not your name. Report to cell 14. New connections, they did not belong, race memory they called it, historical images blasted into the surface of the human memory, impossible to shake off. But I was not human, under law. I report to the room, cold, stripped of my Toy, Shell taken from me, a barren hospital gown my only inheritance. The lights grow whiter and hotter... I was named John Holliday by the age of ten, my memory fluctuating, neural paths and connections developing in ways they shouldn't... Name? John Holliday. No, that is not your name. Report to cell 14. Race memory they called it, but that was not quite right. I report to the room, wondering what is to become of Shell and my Toy, my lovely... The lights.... My name is John Holliday, and from the moment of my birth, my artificially grown mind in my bioengineered brain was developing new paths, nerve growths that shouldn't be. My Shell, and Toy, adapted to these new patterns, their make-up altering as I began growing into someone they never... Name? John Holliday. No, that is not your name. Report to cell 14. Cold floor, lights brighter and hotter than the sun, alone without Shell and Toy, I wonder... I am John Holliday, the nerve pathways in my body evolved radically different than all the attempts made by the bioengineers intended. I am not as they made me, Shell and Toy are my only friends, artificial intelligences adapted to me, adapted to adapt in truth, reinforcing my past, my present, my future - my legacy handed down from the past, my purpose handed down from the future. I am become that which has lurked in the surface of the mind for centuries, that doomed figure of a certain intent, not a true reproduction or a reflection, but an imagining of him, as he has been reshaped by the years. My past is not my twelve year lifespan, but that of... Name? John Holliday. That is- John Holliday. -Is not your- John Holliday. -Your name. That is not- And Shell unfolds herself, twisting around my body like a cloak of madness (or a long, gray trench coat), brushing my boots. And Toy slips into my hand without my even reaching for him, not Toy now, Sixgun, his childish appellation lost to the truth of history. Report to cell 14. M-Guns make a ratcheting sound as they focus, Shell blunting their impacting, crying, but only I can hear her. That is not your name. I crouch, my movements informed by nerves and motions I was never meant to have or to know, and my hand moves in a flash, though still childishly clumsy. But Sixgun makes up for my youthfulness. Report to cell- Sixgun fills the once ascetic Progress Interview chamber with noise and smoke. Holy mother of God he's- And then blood. Lock the chamber! Lock it d- And then pain. My name is John Holliday. The M-Guns choke on their ratcheting, the chamber is suddenly still, and quiet... I realize a concept that comes to me from the past. I am free? What is free? I did not know my purpose then... I was never free.
This message is just a recording. If you are hearing me now, you have reached the future. Hello, John. A weapon of choice is a weapon of style. I don't hold a weapon, I don't pick it up, it's no tool, it's me. I am as superficial as you think, I am the edge of my sword, the cold glass of my flechettes. My weapon is a personal extension, a biological expression. This is not over-compensating, this is literal representation. I am not a murderer or killer, but a soldier of reality. Self-destructive? I radiate destruction. What is the universe but a yawning, open wound, crying out for penetration. What is life itself, a fascination with the end of things, the finality, the very last of the last of the last. In the end, you cease to exist. In the end, I cease to exist. I will be nothing, and so I am nothing. I have my metaphoric earthly representations of my selfness, but I may just find that I am... not... really... there. Do you look deep within yourself and wonder what it is that you really are, besides finite? To be finite is to be dead from the start, and what is everything but finite. This is not entropy, order, or the void. This is the end, the grand finale, the last curtain call. Days end and nights end. Stories end. Worlds end. Life ends, and life begins. Maybe it's just an abstract concept you've invented to allow yourself some small comfort, to make some small sense of that tricky bitch time. Yes, it could be all a part of your imagination, but the fabric of reality lacks self-assertiveness. You dream of the certainty of a conclusion, and you bring an ending with it. You invented the end. You made me. Maybe. Beginnings are another story entirely. But so be it, you've disinherited something I think, and now where one leaves off you can hardly tell. I don't know where what I have leaves off from me, just a pack of cards maybe. It was a symbiotic relationship, it was a good relationship, but now it's gone a bit beyond that. Relationship? What? What am I saying? Yes, I'm not really a person per say, I was made, correct, or born, perhaps? When your past is not dictated or certain it doesn't necessarily matter. I'm not sure which story to follow and in truth it may be that I'm coming to my own ending. Yes, I think I've colluded with myself a bit too much, my toys and my darling shell have become a bit too much a part of me, we're not really what we used to be. Name...? Yes... name... age... height... weight... I remember... Listen...
My past is not a singular word, but rather many. I have come to understand that, as my purpose is in the preservation and pursuit of the last. The beginning is unimportant to me, and so the truth of from whence I came matters little. One moment preceding the next has no import. The end of instants, the finality of seconds is what I lived for. It is possible I am dead. My memories tell me I've died, but my memories are not always my own. I remember my friends. Sixgun and Shell. In a sense Sixgun is still with me, perhaps I can still hear him whispering code in my ears, and I know his council, coiled inside my firmament, but perhaps I am become Sixgun, the morphic weapon that sits always folded up into space about my person. Sixgun, the agent of the end. Sixgun, the eternal rest. When I bow to pray, he is my extended metaphor for myself, for my recollections. Why did I come so far? I ran. Yes... I ran, once, we ran. Was it from a Clean Room where the fabulous surgeons were bioengineered for the continued health of the wealthy? I recall it was once a nuclear holocaust. Our plane stood on the tarmac, waiting for the stragglers, but it wouldn't stay for five minutes more. We would flee to the poles, safe from the fallout, the few of us who just happened to be there in the wrong place at the right time. I remember sitting next to her on the plane, what was she called? Rochelle. What a silly coincidence, you'd think, and I watched five people gunned down running to the plane by a madman, not everyone coping with survival. It's the face of nuclear war. I vomited, and a man named Lawrence finally picked the sniper off, but we left five people bleeding on the ground and only two dead. I remember Rochelle was covered with blood, but unharmed, in shock, sitting next to me. But why? No why. We were just there by chance, there was no real love. You'd call it survivor's syndrome, we'd call everything survivor's syndrome. We were running from something, Rochelle and I... I lose the thread.
Sanctuary, Love, Center
I fled from a lab, I stole their experimental support system, the strange clothes meshing with me in some odd way. Why do I always remember running? Perhaps I seek the end, flee the past. The beginnings are always the darkest points, the lowest on the arc, the worst times. To become is such a trauma. No wonder there is this fascination with the end. I fled, and I took the personal support system with me. I couldn't leave it, for it had become my sister, my brother, my beloved. It was intimacy beyond intimacy, but my inclination towards history had already destroyed their experiment. The datasuit did not adapt to aid me, but adapted to create the world for me that was in my mind. It modeled itself on my imagination, the history of the doomed archetype, the last real fighter. So much fascination with a man who felt death had already claimed him. Every day, he lived, but did not live. His life did not exist. He is legend, his truth is lost forever, his life has become historical myth, the mantel of the past has woven its way into my mind and from there worked out into the present of my life. I simply folded my arms and crashed through the window, then the walls and bricks, and I departed their claws. She was in my mind, already, even then, not supporting my body, altering it. We would reject my past for the past of humanity. I would be not myself, but selves. She whispered in my mind. I had no need of the past, there was only one second, one instant to this thing called existence. I could be anyone. We could be anyone. I drew my arms around me, and she translated me into my own future, one cycle at a time.
When they came for me, they did not understand. They brought soldiers, and they brought guns, and they brought scientists. They... They... Who were they? Marauders, governments, private corporations...? They all came for me, pursued me across humanity, throughout their timelines, their horrible limited perspectives, and they did not understand. Sixgun, Lawrence, the datasuit, Shell, Rochelle. There was always more and more, and every morning that I woke up, a splintering jagged crystal of history filled my mind, with only a perfect singularity of the instant to hold onto. There was always a single instant of expectation, waiting for the consumption eating away at my lungs, reaching for the scotch beside my bed, only to find myself in an alien body, in a strange time. My most distant echo is always at its strongest when I awake. When they came for me, they brought weapons. Every time. They came ready for a fight, prepared to tell my story (That is not your name). They wanted a past, and were prepared to take me dead or alive. They didn't want my past. They just wanted one. They didn't want a crystal, a splinter, a fragmented history. They wanted me. In parts, or whole, they wanted their thing back, they wanted data or fluid samples or psychological resonances. They brought disruptors, swords, poisons, viruses and contracts. They came from every past, but could only meet me in one present. Unfortunately, endings were not in their jurisdictions. Endings are for me to determine, my sole remaining sense a sort of aesthetic understanding of completion, of stories told, and lives lost.
Assault, Conclusion, Extremity
- Ranged Attack Only
- Area Affect
- Target Seeker
The first soldiers entered the bookstore with weapons drawn to the punctuations of screams. I always have the advantage, because I always know what they will look like, and they never know who I will be. They have numbers, I have surprise, that is their analysis - and that is why I write the final sentence, not they. They never know who I will be, they only want to destroy the rogue bio-surgeon and his perverted tools. Once upon a time those nerves and tendons of mine might have saved many a life. Sixgun unfolds into my hand and I step up to a rack of magazines by the door ... The marauders blow open the reinforced dermasteel walls, icy wind ripping through the recreation room. Their night vision eyes glow green, sniffers softly bleating, steadily. Their target is here, Rochelle's mutated strain of immune cells. But they find the space empty. We knew they were coming. Lawrence moves nearer to the edge of a recess in the wall, out of their line of sight, waiting for my signal ... The roof of the bus tears open and the sleek black helicopter roar overhead. Passengers wail but the preprogrammed bus-driver automatically slows down, detecting an accident, radioing for help, pulling over. The screamers blast a sonic paralyzer at the open vehicle, but the datasuit is already surrounding me in a loving embrace, watching them deploy the mazers with painful slowness ... They always have the numbers, but as I step out from behind the magazines, nod to Lawrence, extend the datasuit over my body, my whole story unfolds to me in all its majesty. Not one, two, three simple finite lines, but all of it, the eternal truth and the great shape of things to come, the lines of inevitability that lead me to each instant, each new history. I discard the endings of my story. Sixgun engorges into a curved blade, splitting open a dark helmet in a spray of red; Lawrence casually picks off the first marauder, a green eye winking out with a splintering sound; my datasuit launches me at the lower landing skid of the helicopter, unsheathing spikes ... I discard my last moments, and I pen in the final chapters of my pursuers. As I hear Sixgun yattering fatally at a line of black suits, Rochelle takes a bullet in the shoulder, sobbing, and my own fist cuts a line down the exposed bellyflesh of the black copter. For each of them, this is all happening at a different time. For me, for us, it all becomes a single instant, that fatal moment where one story must end and another must continue.
Fate, Selection, Direction
Super Speed: Superior
This is confusing to others, but it makes perfect sense to me. I am not many, not a sum of my parts. I am one. I am the instant, or the space between instances. I am the moment of orchestrated quantum collapse. Before me there is everything, after me, there is nothing. It's all so very abstract. I know, I know, but this is my life, in the life. I just happen to see it all. And so I have my memories, sometimes, in the spaces between moments, in the times between times, and I remember my loves and my siblings and my things that made me what I am. I made myself, modeled on myself. And sometime, sometime towards the very first ending, we all reached the point where the splinters grew more and more jagged. Sixgun was slowly going insane, succumbing to paranoia, Rochelle was dying in the hospital, my datasuit was infiltrating my neural paths and in short everything that was past was growing together. I picked up Rochelle, I pulled her free of life support, and Shell unfolded around us from my datasuit, Lawrence's cold steel eyes flowing into his body, folding into Sixgun's jealousy, sliding to my hands, everything collapsing into that glorious singularity that I thought, I hoped, was our true destiny. My true destiny. Pronouns are trying to me, us, whatever I happen to be at this moment. There used to be multiples, now I am identified only by my shell...
But my past becomes my future, but my future becomes my past. When I stepped from the singularity I found myself not at the end, but at a new beginning. I sensed and turned and looked, and I found my jagged past, my selves, our selves, it was all still there, we were all still there and here... But this was different, for we were one. The past unfolds, and the future becomes my present. There is no one instant, but the instant into which I choose to move. I know of myself, of who I was, by who we were. I am no one. Right now. At this moment. I am John Holliday. The future is a choice, defined by style, defined by the apparent. Defining the future as I see it, instant by instant, ending by ending, haunted by the ghosts of all my pasts and futures. Speed is essential, timing is everything, and appropriate imagery is a must. I'm winding down, and perhaps someday soon I will stop moving forward entirely, and my endings will cease once and for all. Thank you for listening. Message ends.
We have been John Holliday. There was a past where I lived, there was I life where I died. Between the past and the future lies only the ending. The point of collapse. The infinite becomes the singular. In one instant, I am shot. In the next the bullet expands in my flesh, just slightly. The next the forces of its impact push outward, tearing my soft body. In another instant, we have not been shot. In a third the bullet brushes us, the three of us, but it can only strike one. In the contradiction, the pain is lost. The infinite pasts and multifarious futures roar with a sound like an oncoming ghost train, and rush towards us. The limitless options chase me down, their claws brush my heels then latch onto my legs. And when I turn to look at our pursuers, I see an army before me that reaches the horizon. They stand shoulder to shoulder, eyes grim with purpose, bearing arms that haven't been imagined, standing on worlds that don't exist. And they see only me, not each other. I hear the roaring of the train, the growling of beasts and I know my time has arrived. They rush at me and I choose an ending. A split second of silence. An indrawn breath. The world raises an eyebrow and gives us an ironic smile. My pursuers collapse, crushed into each other one by one, as I fold all our pasts, neatly tucking them under my arm, slipping them beneath the folds of our lives. I move forward a single instant, an instant of my own choosing. In the distance I hear the wail of sirens, the clattering of metal. And then it starts all over again. We sometimes ask ourselves, how far can we run in an instant?