As a boy of eight, Seth finds his life changed by a dark secret … something that he can’t possibly understand.

Years later, old faces, memories, and an envelope, draw Seth back into the web.


37. 37 - Ashes

37  -  Ashes



May 16, 2383


Seth stares up at the white ceiling of the cell. So, Tristan was still looking for him or, at least, she had been two weeks ago. Jax had seen her on Pegasi. That’s where he’d seen her. It seemed so long ago.


The lights in the cell dim suddenly and the vid-screen goes dark. Seth sits up on the bed, looking toward the door. Through the window, he sees the lights are still bright in the hallway beyond. He lies back again, realizing that it must be the signal for bedtime.


He thinks about Jullian. He feels tired and drained, but his mind buzzes. Sleep seems far away …


he sits up from the bed …  it’s dark … a strong, burnt smell fills the cell …a strange, blue light comes from the screen, mounted in the wall …


he moves to the door and takes hold of the bars … the loud squeal of rusty hinges echoes through the hallway beyond as he pulls the gate open … he steps into the blue hallway … ahead, it turns left …


the man who was his companion in the Creed’s tunnels stands by the corner, his dark eyes, wide in his bruised and swollen face … the man disappears around the corner …


he follows … the burnt smell grows stronger, and the smell of paper … ahead, the man stands by a large door with a crudely painted symbol… the man raises a hand to the door, slowly pushing it open … the man’s hand makes a sizzling sound as it burns … he steps past the man, through the door …


the room is burnt out … he wades through waist high ashes … he looks up … three, dull orange moons glow in the distance …


he stops suddenly, plunging his hand and arm down, into the ashes … a cloud of ash rises and he holds his breath, blinking it from his eyes … he pulls his arm up… in his hand is a small, white square … a small, square piece of paper, pristine and unsoiled … he stares at the paper as the ash cloud settles … there are words …





Dinner at seven




a dark, red stain appears in the center of the paper … it grows slowly, washing over the words …



May 17, 2383


Seth wakes to the sound of the cell’s door sliding opening. He lifts his head to see a large figure, filling the cell’s doorway.


Officer Ganther steps in “Mister Tarot.”


Seth sits up, swinging his legs over the bedside. He wipes the small beads of sweat from his forehead.


“Detective Bresh is ready to talk to you.”


He follows the officer.


The office door slides shut. Bresh looks across the desk at Seth.


“Mister Tarot.”


Seth blinks as he catches a rare glimpse of emotion in the detective’s eyes; disappointment.


Bresh turns to the screen. “We have the results of some tests. The ash and flash-burn traces are at least two weeks old. The Creed symbol has been there at least that long. The footprints were yours, but they were quite recent.” Bresh touches the screen, bringing up more information. “There were two small flecks of human blood found on the carpet in the main room. They were matched as belonging to Carry Mattice, who, according to our records, is perma-dead. They’ve been there for at least two weeks.”


He turns to Seth. “Carry Mattice’s body was found eighteen days ago, in a deserted part of the northern sector of Aquatica. She was cut up pretty badly.”


Seth stares at the office floor, remembering Carry, and her plea for help against Dolly Incorporated. He looks up as he feels the detective’s gaze.


“I suppose that this, Carry Mattice, was the old friend of your mother’s you were visiting?”


Seth nods. “Yes.”


Bresh takes a long, slow breath. “So your mother’s old friend had some dealings with the Blood Creed, leading to her death. You’ve had some dealings with the Blood Creed, and you just happen to visit an unregistered penthouse to visit this old friend concerning some ‘legal advice’.”


The detective turns his head up, staring at the ceiling for a few moments. Seth shifts in his chair as Bresh looks back to him “Quite a coincidence Mister Tarot.” He stands from his chair. “Of course, I can’t hold you here on a coincidence, can I? You may go, Mister Tarot, until we meet again.”


Bresh touches the desk’s com pad. “Ganther …”


Seth takes a breath. “Detective Bresh, I don’t believe that Carry had any dealings with the Blood Creed.”


Bresh glances at Seth. “Hold on Ganther.” He sits back in his chair.


“Detective, I don’t remember a lot of what happened while the Creed held me prisoner. From time to time, memories come back …” Seth swallows. “When I was captured, I had a piece of paper with me. It had Carry Mattice’s name and com number on it. I remember them asking about her. I told them she was a friend. I think that’s what led them to her.”


Bresh is silent for a few moments “Her com number? That wouldn’t explain how they would get the access codes to an unregistered penthouse though, would it?”


Seth shakes his head. “I’d written the access code on the back of the note.”


“If it was you the Creed had a problem with, why would they murder Carry Mattice?”


“I don’t know.”


Bresh stands. “In any case Mister Tarot, I expect you to pass on any more of these returning memories you might have.” He fixes Seth in his expressionless gaze. “Your friend is perma-dead, let’s stop this here.”


Seth follows the large officer through the LED headquarters. He glances around, thinking he might see Jax. They reach the exit doors. Seth moves to the doors quickly, seeing the bright sun of a Brooklyn morning beyond them.


“Mister Tarot.”


He stops, turning back to the sound of Officer Ganther’s voice. Ganther steps into a door on the right of the long entrance hallway. He emerges a few seconds later, carrying a brightly colored box.


He hands the box to Seth “Your sushi.”

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