The Driven Soul, from Thrum (1997)

Crocuta, another of the side characters, has made a bad mistake. The love of his life is the property, literally, of another who has the power to break him utterly. Croat, as we know him, is a tech-expert, and a rebuilt man -- his beloved Unica saved his life from out of a wreck, and gave him an arm bio-linked and fused to a set of tronics called the array.

He was caught by his enemy, in the night of Kerav City, and his enemy transformed the array from benefit to bane. Then left to seal his own fate.



"While our night is still a reluctant infant, not really too sure about all that parental jive about standing, walking, taking flight ... let me welcome you into it all once again. You're listening to entertainment you have to imagine, to dramas that can't be presented to you pre-digested and full of life's crock. You can imagine me in any shape you like. You can imagine that I am the worst demon imaginable, or the answer to your every fantasy." A long breath, and a chuckle. "Do whatever pleases your soul the most, people. I'm just Vector Jones, and this is your call to join in the nightrise again."


He'd just started to know some things, his mind lifting with slow agony out of the darkness of all the breeds of pain. He knew that the darkness was no longer just a radiation from himself -- that time had slipped into the darkness of the night while he wasn't able to think, and that light was nowhere to be found, except far away. In the twinkle of city lights. In the silent blare of a cred's blatant promotion to the heart, ceaseless beneath the stars.

Crocuta was bent over and shaking like an old street derelict, making it to the chill of a transparent window's view of the outside city with a shuffling semi-crawl. His brain was being hammered all the while by the endless auto-suggestions spilling like hot acid across his senses from his tampered-with arm array.


The window was real easy to open, even with his swollen fingers. Bloody convenient.

The night beyond was so cool. Soothing. Like a comfortable lover in satin sheets, underneath a hazy moon.

Care to remember, idiot?

Yeah. Unica was the property of Jaridian Kairon. Big news flash.

Didn't have to be shown twice, eh? Right in the middle of the ripping, the pummeling, His Regal Graciousness dragged her into the game like a hunk of meat, and pointed out the deep bod marks that Crocuta himself had once asked Unica to explain. This time, today, he'd got the explanation, in technocolour and with sub-titles.

Oh, man, that night air sure smells sweet. Gotta lean out just a little further for a good sniff ...


Oh, golly gee. He'd just bled or drooled or something else staining all over some of Kairon's really nice carpet on the way over here. What a shame. If his bladder hadn't been so damn empty right now, he'd have added something to the cleaner's ulcer attack tomorrow.

Ain't that just like a galactic mongrel, eh? Leaving behind a mess in perfection, marking where his betters walked an' talked an' frakking owned people right through t' th' soul ...


He had one bare fpot on the bottom of the window, toes curled over the edge, his arms braced at either side of the frame. The wild wind this high up the building was combing his hair this way and that; he closed his eyes, letting the chill in the night air caress his aches, cool the skin over his bruises.

One hand slipped a fraction from the ooze seeping between his fingers. Crocuta tipped back his head, and lifted his array arm away from the frame.

He spread his fingers across his chest. Felt the throb of his heart.

Before flinging the array back against the frame. Again, and again. Laughing like a maniac in the bursting fountain of sparks, laughing as pain found new pathways into his head, as his hand went numb, then flopped like that of a mannequin.

The taunting, cajoling voice stopped. Abruptly. Mid-venom.


His arm on fire as he stepped back down from the window, Crocuta used the flames to light his way to a water dispenser just a few feet away against a wall.

He tore a red-hot shard off his burning wreckage with his god hand, and punctured the side of the reservoir, before shoving everything of his dead arm up to the pit into the crystal-clear fluid. Watched the tronic fire fizz and die in the gulping bubbles. Then sank back down on his haunches, cradling the now detached dispenser, letting the water seep across his legs from the ragged rupture, a widening damp pool across the floor.

More mess for you to clean up, Kairon? Oh, good ...


"Feeling a little sacred, at this time o' the world's tired revolution around the poles? You're not alone, my friends. Night children are those closest to the mysteries of the soul, after all. During the day, all we see is clouds and smog an' maybe birds flying in a blue sky. But at night -- aahh, my friends, right now the smog settles down, sunheat gone, and as long as the rain doesn't gatecrash the party, we will be able to see the stars. Even here, in urban hell, there's enough light in heaven to give us a breathless taste of the forever we've known about all of our lives ..."