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Levon remembered his first time over, it was not something he could easily forget. Not only had it changed the course of his life, but it had saved him from a circumstance which would’ve consumed him. He had stumbled down the rabbit hole, not out of curiosity or on any noble quest for change; but in running away. Fleeing from an unending grief, a void which was swallowing his life.
Levon had come to understand his place in the world. Growing up, placed on the bottom rung, abused just by what was housed in his genetics and what stained his face. His family, his friends, all suffered the same; it was the system that was rotten; but it was the system that was in place. Then someone came into his world that changed it all, turned the dark to light and the bitter to sweet. Made him move, question, life and love. But it was not a happy ending, for it was never the end for them, only one. Robbed so quickly out of the material realm. The science that bubbled under their skin had more ways to poison than just S.I.N. Things that science should have had a hold over by now, it played havoc on a body so pure.
So he ran, he escaped all he could see or touch, anything that would remind him of them and the gaping hole of their absence. In his flight he stumbled down the path that led him to the door of the Teacher. Fate usually puts us where we need to be, and for Levon; that was in the hands of the one who held a pass to the land that could give him a gift. A gift he would come to battle with himself, but at first was one which took the pain away. Levon was shown the way over to the Altered, his teacher saw something in him that was different. Maybe a broken heart allows more light in to fuse the bits together. But for Levon it seemed, he was able to maneuver through the Altered as if he was a part of it. His S.I.N was erased, his body seeming to evolve around a state that few had seen. He could manipulate and conjure the magic, it bent to his whims and flourished in his cells. Stepping over for him was easy, but Levon remembered the first time. The great revelation of light, like stepping out of a darkened room into the sun. It burnt, it hurt. Like a radiation scorching away his history.
He knew what Jess could see when she had gone over, he knew at all times who was present in the Altered. He felt it within him like a tickling thread. He had known for some time a gathering shadow, closing in on the world like a coming storm.
“I thought you didn’t know anything.” Jess said to Levon, confused.
“We know, but we can’t go around telling everyone. There’s levels of trust in this thing. Take a look around, it’s not amateur hour.” Levon said, casting his hand around the room. Jess looked around, but was hurt also.
“I know that, but you made it seem like you didn’t.” She said.
“I’m sorry for that, forgive the tiny deception.” Levon said with a grin. “But there is a plan…”
“One which we could use help with.” Karen added, seeing how Jess was a little upset.
“But wait, first tell me what you know. What’s the darkness there? What is really happening?” She asked.
Levon and Karen looked at each other before Karen went on.
“As you know, the Altered is a realm that has a different makeup to our own world. Magic if you like, though some of our science is beginning to understand it. We can enter the world through certain rituals, or incantations. Levon and others can get there by different means, but that’s another tale. In the Altered there is the ability to reverse S.I.N, as you’re aware. We’re working on something which will rapidly expunge S.I.N in all individuals in our own world, using a combination of matter and a reciting of a series of incantations. We have an essence, one we’ve come to call Holy Water, which has the ability to reverse S.I.N in subjects and evolve their genetics beyond to what we have at the moment.” Karen said.
“So, you have a tonic that cures and the ailing and makes everyone equal. Great, why aren’t we using it? Why aren’t we giving it out to people? Levon is still going around with his magic bag of tricks, what are we waiting for?” Jess said, more agitated now; walking around flaying her arms about.
“Jess, hear us out. It’s not that straightforward.” Levon said.
“Levon is right, for a change Jess. It’s not so simple.” Karen added. Her disposition seemed to imbued calm and trust, she was The Bishop after all. This seemed to calm her a little.
“So…..” Jess said.
“What we have come to find is that the Holy Water does help most of those who suffer with S.I.N, but not everyone….yet. And we’ve found that it actually has a negative effect on the Others. Those without it.” She said.
“What, so they turn back?” Jess asked?
“No, I’m afraid not. It kills off those cells in those without it. So we cannot release it on a mass scale as it will kills thousands.” She was keen to see how Jess would react to this. Jess hung her head.
“I see the problem then. No one should be suffering. But what is the darkness in the Altered?” She said, moving on.
“Well, that is something we do know something about and I think we can stop it too.” Levon said, looking to Karen for some approval. She nodded her head. “Your friend Aiko…”
Jess sighed and shook her head. Levon continued.
“Your friend there seems to have access to the Altered also. He’s been robbing it for his own needs for years now. As you’re aware it is a very mercurial place, reactive to what goes in and out and what takes place there. Aiko has been pillaging it without any of the offerings, without any of the respect we in the order give it. He is like a toxin that leaches into the world and pollutes it. The darkening is his presence, ever encroaching and snuffing out the light there. It’s beginning to erase and alter the Altered…if you get my meaning.” Levon said.
“So it’s another thing we have to deal with.” Jess sighed.
“Yes, but now we have an increased timeframe.” Karen added.
“Why?” Jess asked.
“Because Aiko is about to unleash something on the city in the next few days which will change everything forever.” Levon.
“Fuck.” Jess said. Karen nodded.
“And what he doesn’t know is that it will not go how he expects. He cannot control the magic or the essence of the Altered in the ways he thinks he can. And it won’t just mean the end for those with S.I.N, but for everyone.”
“So double fuck.” Levon added.
“Indeed.” Karen replied, making her way over to a small cabinet in the corner of the room. “But, like you say Levon…..there is a plan.”