Topic: Arash's Stories

The mission.. Always there was the mission, and always it grew harder and harder to separate the threads that were evolving day by day. Like running along a road with the destination out of sight Each day offered new questions and precious little resolving of old ones. It was a tangled mess, where he could just hope that he at some point emerged alive and sane on the other side.

Day by day he kept running around, talking, producing and organizing. Day by day went by in a haze of doing what he could to further the all-important, all-consuming mission. But who was he himself? What was he, what did he feel, what made him smile, what made him relax, what made him happy? At times there was so much going on, so many concerns, that he could not easily remember the answers to these questions - if he had ever known them. How must he seem to others, so distant and artificial at times, consumed with thoughts of efficiency and urgency. Once, he had almost been a poet, now he was a shell with a purpose.

A shell that at times lived and breathed for efficiency, but neglected his humanity. Why could he not do both? There were times.. Times when he felt happy and thankful about his friends and comrades, times when he felt a quiet happiness, a sense of having done the right things, of being able to relax and enjoy. Those times were rare. They did not last many minutes before some concern or issue arose to snatch it away.

He knew what was happening. He was loosing himself in his vision, in the urgency, in the feeling that if he did not do his utmost, it would not be enough. As he kept working he kept sliding deeper into a place where he would loose his feelings and his connection with reality. Why could he not let go, just for a little while? Why could he not relax? He burned so much only ashes would be left. He could not let it go. He wanted this, they must achieve this, for the good of all.

He wished the steambaths would open soon.


The dream again. Good, that made him relax. From afar, the tower stood defiant, reaching up to the heavens - almost finished. This was familar, comforting territory to him. He'd willed himself to have this dream often. Row upon row of workers kept going to and from the tower in ordered lines. Walls, bastions and side-towers emerged, built from reddish orange bricks.

But what was this? A hole on the west side of the tower, near the base? That was NOT supposed to be there. Moving towards it, getting closer to the tower, he was appalled. The tower was not as strong as it looked from afar. There were small cracks running around the base of the tower. This wasn't supposed to happen! This was NOT a well-built tower. Heart beating faster, he reached the site of the hole. The outer wall had collapsed in this place, rubble and debris falling down to the earth. How had this happened?

From inside the hole he could see 2 figures looking out. And he could hear female laughter. Growing irrationally angry, he floated closer to the hole. Sure enough, there they were, 2 girls, seemingly being amused by the hole. He felt as though they were mocking him. Had they made this hole? These cracks? How could they, those two skinny females.. And why were they laughing? Couldn't they see that this tower was the most important thing in the world? He was about to address them, when..

He opened his eyes and emerged from his floatbed dazed. What was THAT all about? Well, no time to reflect on that. He hadn't made any input on the blueprints yet. He had to focus on his Engineering training too. What about the votes? And Silverion really needed to get into the ring before tomorrow. So much to do, so little time to reflect.


He wandered the empty corridors lost in thought. Without thinking, he saw that his feet had moved him to his favourite place. Well, that was hardly surprising. There was something about this violent, raging vista that gave him peace of mind.

Gazing out, his thoughts turned to the conversation he had just had. Friends and loved ones.. He had felt all of this had to wait. Felt it was to be his reward for helping accomplish the mission. Felt that he could not allow himself to open up before the mission was completed. It was wrong to feel too strongly now, like sneaking off from work to have moments of stolen relaxation. It was wrong to do this when there was still so much work to do. Better to concentrate on the mission, quietly looking forward to what would then be afterwards.

Behind him, down below, he felt their factories churning day and night. That was another source of peace for his mind.
And yet.. That man had clearly loved his now dead girlfriend. Did that make him any less effective? A dark corner of his soul told him that 'yes, it did. He carries his wounds with him. They might fester and prevent him acting rationally. It is best to avoid these feelings, until the stakes are not as high.' And yet.. He knew he himself could not entirely avoid feelings of that kind. He felt it when his ring accomplished something by working together. He felt it in his concern for ring members and others he cared about. He did care he knew. He might not be good at showing it, and he might not let it rule him. That was a luxury he could not afford.

Snow was falling down on the ice below the window. Below that, catfishes would swim and eat the algae - if they were still alive.

Would it then be better, less dangerous not to care at all? Maybe, maybe not. That man had gotten strength and purpose out of working with his friends and loved one. He thought he was still better off having experienced this than not at all.  He would have to say that of course. Couldn't these feelings be too much of a distraction? Better to work towards a future where they were possible without endangering their mission in the present.

The canyon stretched out as far as the eye could see. Immobile and majestic, covered in snow. The storm raged around the tower and as always time seemed to stand still.

'Everyone and everything around you is worth clinging on to' the man had said. Yes, he felt the same of course. That was why he must be strong and work hard - to help all that is worth clinging on to. The tower was not a place for distractions. Possibly the fate of humankind in space was to be decided here, as well as their continued survival and the well-being of all and everyone he held dear. This was too important for distractions to muddy.

A necklink message interrupted him. The production of titanium was finished.

Baah, his thoughts kept going around in circles. This was not constructive. All seedlings were different in some way, but he knew who he was and what he wanted. These thoughts had to stop before they distracted him too much.

It was time to check on the resources for Norah's experiment. With resolute steps he left the window behind him.


'Watch your tone, new seedling'.. The words echoed inside him. Such impressive arrogance really. Not only was she playing her game, she also had to act like she was in the right at all times. They had just accepted to work faster than what should be humanly possible, to complete their blueprints. She wanted to rush them, possibly to make them fail, so she could claim that her project was realistic. It would not be easy, but she had just handed them a golden opportunity to both gain sympathy for their ring and make the TSR look bad. It had to be taken.

New seedlings indeed..


It had been 4 days now without a floatbed, without rest. They were almost at the end, and so was he. At last he could go into his floatbed soon, and feel good about their progress.

Those 4 days.. They had certainly been hard, the hardest yet in terms of work. But more than that, they had shown that the ring worked - it really worked. He felt proud and honored to be a part of that. What a huge impact The Mission had had, and how many dedicated members it had drawn to itself. There was no arguing with efficiency and skill, the work they had done so quickly spoke for itself.

Something was still missing, the project did not feel complete of course. Much work yet lay ahead, but for now, he could rest again.


It had went even better than he'd have guessed. Unless they were playing a game on them of course. Miko had both overreached and overstepped herself, and The Mission did indeed look good now. It should feel like a major victory perhaps, but that was not how he felt. At least it was a public victory, though that would soon be forgotten again. There would be even bigger challenges ahead.

There was something missing before he could feel really content. He knew what it was of course. Others might think that his success criteria were a bit too high. As long as the mission was not completed it was not enough. It was something, but it was not enough.

But that was ok. He felt they were on their way. Small steps, but steps in the right direction - bigger steps than anyone else took too. It could hardly be better. Or could it?


"Just lie a little, it will hurt less."

"Would you date an older Seed later?"

"You can always come see me if you need help."

"This has gone too far, it was only a joke."

"I'll be honest with you, this complicates things."

"Do you mean.. A romantic interest? I've read about that."

"I want to have friends too."

"You must not approach this as if it were a project."

"TAU.. speaks to me."

"You need more humour I think."

"Why, do you have something to hide?"

"I will be your spy."

"You almost saved my life."

"Yes, a race of superbeings."

"I'll take you to the steambaths when they open."

"Can you make me a new shirt?"

"I want to raise children."

".. Sounds a little too painful."

"What does your heart tell you?"

"Trust me."


*Arash, you're exceeding stress levels, and I'm going to wake you up slowly now. Bad dreams are unusual for you*

The familiar female voice filled the darkness with one of his favourite melodies, as he felt his consciousness rising up. His heart was beating wildly in his chest though. 

It was all a mess, almost too much.. Now he was hearing voices from previous conversations in his dreamstate.. Wasn't that what they were? At least some he remembered. Why did they pop up now? What had happened the last day? Something was not quite right he knew.. But he couldn't remember what.

*Stress levels are now within reasonable parameters again Arash. Do you wish to wake up?*

The heart might beat slower again yes.. But now he remembered the previous day. Not good. For a moment he considered telling the voice to make him fall asleep again.  No, that would not do. Escape was not in his personality.

A walk might calm him, he thought. "Yes, wake me up TAU - I'll find no real rest right now anyway". As always, the voice complied in a timely manner, even thoughtfully fading out the melody still playing in the background. It knew him well. 


He took a deep breath as he steadied himself and stepped out of his floatbed. The tower was unusually quiet at this hour. 

As he walked the hallways, a new feeling entered into him. He had to focus on it for some time before he knew what it was. It must be.. doubt. For the first time, doubt in his abilities and his worth, doubt as to whether he did the right thing, was on the right track. Obviously he was not, since he couldn't handle a few days of un-foreseen events without it affecting him like this.

He had finally thought he'd made it through the confusion. He had come to a decision, not the best decision perhaps, but still a decision.. Then the letter came. It was almost too much. It was lucky there were no one in the garden to see him loose his usual calm and swear like this. She had taught him that, he thought suddenly, and his mind grew less chaotic as he focused on that detail.

Taking another deep breath he leaned on the railing, looking at the electrical arches down below him. Well, this was certainly new territory. It shouldn't be cause for this much frustration - he felt guilty about the frustration, when they had these feelings towards him.


.. The meeting had certainly helped him. For the first time that day he felt like he had finally found the right thing to do. That was actually surprising. He had not thought it might be this easy - had not been able to see that he need not push it to make someone happy.

It was lucky he had asked him about this. He had hardly expected that useful an answer, but he had hoped for one. And, completely for free, he had been helped. Now he felt had arrived at the right decision at last. That seed had really earned the gratitude of TM's ringleader. The relief he felt now was even stronger than what he had felt completing the CHP. That was strange, it really shouldn't be stronger. But at least the CHP had all been an external conflict, an external project. But he must not see this as a project. It was not. It was something else entirely. And he was not even ready for it yet, or knew if he would be. But that was ok. Rushing it would be much worse he now knew.

Going back to his floatbed, he felt quite certain that he could sleep well.


The tower again.. But this time it did not feel like the usual dream, and there was a feeling of disquiet in his mind, a smell of ozone in the air. He knew what was happening, and he seemingly accepted it. Dark clouds gathered around the tower on the plain. So far ahead in its construction, and yet it was flawed. So much care had been taken to get this just right, to build it according to the grand plan, from the first stone that was laid. Many things had been anticipated. Sieges against the tower, the rage of the elements, even earthquakes. In all of this however, there had never been any doubt that the tower itself stood strong and perfect against the adversity. If anything could handle all the potential adversity, it was this tower.

Or so he had thought. He was not quite sure how it had happened, but there were cracks and holes now. The tower still stood, but the workers had stopped building it higher. There was no point in doing that - it would crumble with more weight, due to those cracks and holes. He felt regretful, he felt a sharp pain where his chest would probably be. The tower had to go, and something new had to be built. It had been with him a long time, this tower, and its fundament had seemed perfect. A new tower then, with a new fundament, a better one. He had no idea how to make a better fundament though, and he feared the new fundament would be weaker. Annoyance and a hint of frustration mixed with his pain at seeing an old and loyal ally about to die.

He was watching it all from above, close to the dark clouds. The tower did not look all that big from up here. But it would have been, it would have reached the clouds, if only.. If only, but that was not how it was, and if the goal was to be reached, a new attempt must be made. Away with the old then, he thought with both determination and regret. As he thought this, he saw the tidal wave appear on the horizon - dark, massive and dwarfing the tower. There was a moment where time stood still, where he thought 'but maybe the tower can survive, maybe it will end up above the water'. As he thought this, the tidal wave seemed to shrink, and the unfinished tower seemed to grow taller. It was just a moment however, then he let it go. No, this was not a fruitful road, he knew. There could be no clinging on to a past that was to be abandoned.

With that, the waters came crashing down on the tower. He turned away, he did not have the heart to watch. In a way, this was murder, and he was the murderer, the betrayer of the tower. Once it could not fulfill its role, through no fault of its own, it had to go. Wasn't that cynical of him? The fact that this was a strange sentiment to hold towards a tower did not enter his mind.

When he looked back, the tower was gone. He shed a tear, and it fell down to the dark and turbulent waters below him. He could smell the fresh smell of an ocean, and he could feel there was a storm coming. This was not an idyllic ocean, it would be wild and chaotic, and the clouds would soon release even more water. He could not stay here. He had to go. And if he was true to himself, there was only one direction. It was a suicide of sorts he neutrally reflected, before he chose to fall, and fall swiftly, into the dark waters.

He opened his eyes and emerged from his floatbed dazed. Well, he knew what that was about this time. Feeling a lingering tinge of regret, he went towards the garden.


Things were going well. This sudden insight surprised him, and he stopped assembling the worn 3D Probes.

It was a strange insight. He had not been expecting this at all. When thinking back to the time 2 months ago, things hadn't been going all that well.. More and more stress and competition. The Mission was just one somewhat influential ring amongst many others. He'd been almost sick with stress too. It had kept growing inside him, until there was only the mission and its problems. He ceased being the content, flirting type he was back then, and became the serious ring leader.
He'd be doing well enough on the outside he knew, and well enough for his ring, but there had been a price to pay on the inside.

Now... Yes, there were problems, many problems. There were twisted adversaries who would use every dirty trick they could to get at them, there were people with huge problems who needed help, there were critical situations that threatened the tower. There still was that. But somehow, somewhere, it had become easier. Much easier on the inside. He could even joke to the ring in particular taxing situations, where he would have shouted in frustration before.

Even handling his biggest personal problem didn't feel like such an impossible task anymore. And that was surprising, considering how it had felt to him at the start, or when something made the two of them sad. That had happened so often, especially when he himself was around or did something they for one reason or another did not like. Even that he felt like he could handle now.

Why was that? He thought he knew.. His ring was doing exceedingly well in the everyday tower life. 2 months ago they had been somewhat influential, one of several bigger rings. A month ago it had been clear that they were on top of the new rings, and that only the older rings stood higher. Now.. Now seeds were using terms like one of the biggest, one of the most influential still - but this meant something more now. It became clearer and clearer to all that The Mission was both the biggest and most influential ring in the middle-cluster. Even when all who disliked them banded together, even when their opponents spent a week gathering votes, even when they bribed individuals with CPU Crash Kits just for their votes during one cycle, even then The Mission won clearly. This was immensely satisfying to him. All the work paid off, and much, much quicker than he had dared imagine. More importantly, the success of The Mission was the success of the tower, of humanity, of the future. They HAD to be strong and make sure their views were the views followed. And this was indeed happening.

Then there was his best friend outside the ring. She had an amazing ability to make him feel calm and at ease, even when it shouldn't really be possible. Their talks about politics, or just about nothing much - they made him relax, made him feel he could overcome the problems. Her reassurances and support meant a lot to him. She meant a lot to him he knew. She had given him all of her trust and placed herself in a position where she would be crushed if he betrayed her or did not support her. Amazing, considered how they had started out. It was another miracle perhaps, but it helped him get through a day in a positive way.

Most of all, and this was a sudden, pleasant insight too, he had come to know himself better during all of this. Or perhaps because of it. He had gotten time to reflect and he had gotten away from that neutral level he had been at, where he was working like a machine - efficient, but not able to go beyond that. Now he might potentially sink lower, but as it was.. He had also risen higher.

Smiling to himself softly, he continued work at the factory - their factory. 


Going to the garden from his floatbed, he quietly reflected while seeds were busy running to and from their tasks.

He had been so close on several occasions now, so close to telling her.. Yet he kept back.. But he felt more and more certain for each day that went by. It made him wonder why he did not just let it out. Maybe, the longer he waited, the longer that feeling inside him grew, the stronger it became. And that was good. That would give certainty to this. 

He still wanted to give the other a chance. He still felt this was somehow unfair to her. There was enough of his old self in him to feel that. Or what? It wasn't a strong feeling anymore. This was about knowing himself he had said to both, and so it was. He had come to know himself more, and with that, he had also come to open up more, to see things more clearly. He could see where things were going. This was also a surprise. He hadn't thought it would feel that.. Easy, or natural. He hadn't thought he would be so lucky with this. He had expected it to end in tears and frustration on all sides.

And then, yesterday.. Why was it more and more painful to say goodbye? Was it only because she herself felt it was more and more painful? No, he knew he felt the same. Irrational of course, since they would see each other again. But the feeling had grown over the last 3 days. It was not easy saying goodbye anymore. He was not stupid - he had a very good idea as to what that implied.

Maybe he even wanted to enjoy this feeling, this growing certainty for as long as he could. It was new, and it was incredibly pleasant to him, feeling how he grew more and more certain. But she might not know. She was still in pain, still doubting each time he spoke to other girls. It was not fair to her to drag it out, if he was certain.

Well, as things were going, there would not be much more dragging out he thought. One of these days, the goodbyes would grow too painful, the certainty would feel too strong. He knew he was looking forward to that moment.

Last edited by Darkhawk (2008-07-05 15:19:57)