aSG: Chalandra Harkness: The Bloodchip Matrix #5
Gary W. Olson
swede at novitious.com
Tue Apr 27 04:29:38 PDT 2010
THE BLOODCHIP MATRIX
(a tale from altiverse 998SUPERGUY)
Gary W. Olson
Chalandra Harkness stood in front of the darkened building,
watching silently as the faceless crowd poured by. Overhead, a blue
neon sign sparked intermittently, flickering across the eyes of those
walking past. A few stopped, and considered the dimly-lit entrance.
Fewer still ventured inside.
She hesitated, and closed her eyes, remembering. It had been a
long time ago, by mortal standards. Just yesterday, by her own.
Already, the time she had spent seemed like a dream, a shallow image
of a distant land. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes and
stepped into the entrance.
Through the haze, she could see several patrons, clustered in
groups of two or three, scattered at different tables, shifting
restlessly, while a dark, sultry jazz recording drifted from hidden
speakers. They were ranged around a stage, all waiting for the show,
drinking foul-smelling liquors and occasionally mumbling to their
Chalandra took a chair near the back, and placed her elbows on
the chipped plastic table, interlacing her fingers and resting her
chin atop them. The other patrons looked her over with no interest,
and returned to gazing at the stage, while a waiter drifted past them
"Would you like something to drink?" the waiter asked, his thin,
ruddy face puffing as he spoke.
"Tea," Chalandra replied, placing a twenty-yen bill on the table.
The waiter's cheek jerked a bit, but he showed no other reaction. He
nodded, took the bill, and departed, weaving into the darkness.
She closed her eyes again, and inhaled the scent. It was
virtually the same - the pungent odor of strong drink, mixed with the
mood stimulants that seeped in through ventilation ducts, slightly
diffusing the sparse, blue lighting. The stimulants didn't faze her -
they were very mild, and took the edge off of her mind.
The jazz music faded softly from the speakers, and the patrons
immediately ceased their fitful attempts to pass the time, and focused
their eyes on the stage. Chalandra turned her eyes to the slightly
faded red curtain, as it parted.
A Japanese woman, dressed in a tarnished silver g-string and
matching bikini top stepped out, moving purposefully to the center of
the stage. She stood only five foot five, though her trim, well-
conditioned build made her appear taller. Raven dark hair swept
around her neck, just touching her slender shoulders. Her skin was
pale, though not quite as pale as Chalandra's was.
The edge of her mouth curled up as she began to move, bending
with smooth, practiced ease, allowing her body to get into sync with
the tropical rhythms that faded in from the speakers. Some of the
patrons leaned forward. Others just narrowed their eyes, and slowly
sipped their drinks.
Chalandra watched her dance, followed the natural weavings of her
muscles, the forceful gyrations of her hips, the hypnotic way she
glided across the stage. The beat increased in pace, slowly, and her
eyes flashed in the jaded air.
Slowly, the patrons faded from Chalandra's gaze, disappearing
into the haze on the periphery of vision. She focused on the woman on
stage, as her dance grew more complex.
The kinetic song of her body was taking on a life of its own,
merging briefly with the tropical music before surpassing it. Every
strutted step whispered its own message, every sinew pulsing with a
tale of centuries. Her hand brushed her abdomen, and Chalandra felt a
tingling sensation on her skin.
In the dance, the woman merged with a song older than time, every
movement, every shift, every touch telling a story without words,
about the dark underbelly of existence, the savagely sweet taste of
hot, fresh blood, the stillness inside every moment, the cold,
penetrating joy of dying forever. The images swirled about her, spun
off from her skin by the force of her movements. She danced inside
the images, letting them sink into her once again.
Her body began to crescendo, as the music tapped deep inside her,
thicker than the blue haze in the air. Chalandra suddenly thought of
an electric blue rose, the woman's dance superimposed over the rose's
soft, wet petals, blossoming, exploding into existence from a nascent
state. Chalandra closed her eyes tightly. The woman disappeared, but
the rose remained, a solid image in her mind.
The music ended, and Chalandra heard the sounds of muted applause
from the scattered customers. She opened her eyes, to see the woman
standing up from the kneeling pose she had finished in, looking around
the stage. She paused, just before stepping behind the red curtain,
and glanced at Chalandra. Chalandra watched, impassively. The edge
of the woman's mouth curled a bit, and she vanished.
Chalandra regarded the other patrons, as their focus drifted back
to the glasses and bottles in front of them, to the half-mumbled
comments of those with them. They seemed vaguely dissatisfied with
what they had seen. The movements had been too frenzied, too fancy.
Not enough gyrations, or brandishing of body parts.
They had only seen a body on stage, albeit a very beautiful one.
They had not seen the dance, and had missed the symphonic ecstasy of
the dark tale it told. There was no mystery as to why.
One had to learn how to see, to appreciate the dance of a
More people had drifted in by the time she emerged from the small
door near the stage. While they watched the new performers on stage -
a male and a female, swaying to a light, synthesized beat - she
glided, casually, to the table where Chalandra sat, finishing her tea.
Chalandra looked up at the woman. She was still glowing from her
performance, a hypnotic radiance that few could see or understand, and
appeared to be in her mid-twenties, as Chalandra appeared.
"Your performance was beautiful," Chalandra told her.
"Thank you," she said, as she slid into the black chair next to
Chalandra. "My name is Akane." She smiled, showing her delicate,
"He taught you well," Chalandra said.
"It's my own variation on Sufi dance," Akane said. She paused,
her dark eyes looking down. "I'm not as good a dancer as he is,
"How old are you?" Chalandra asked.
"One hundred twenty four," she responded.
"He has over fifteen hundred years on you," Chalandra said.
"Give him some credit."
Akane smiled. "He sent me to bring you to him."
"I know," Chalandra said. "That's why I came here."
"How did you know I would be here?" Akane asked.
"I knew someone would," Chalandra said. "And that I would
recognize that one when I saw him...or her." Chalandra paused, taking
a final sip of the tea. "We used to come here often, he and I. Not
to see the show, but just to feel the energy. The place used to be
livelier, then. Now, it looks like it's barely hanging on."
"He has told me about those times," Akane said. "He speaks of
you often." She paused, her eyes flicking back up to Chalandra's.
"You're even more beautiful than he has said."
"I'm flattered," Chalandra responded, setting her drink down.
She took a deep breath, and looked towards the stage again. "I knew
that, somehow, he would know that I was back in Tokyo."
"That is his way," Akane said. "Shall we go?"
"Yes," Chalandra said, standing. She followed Akane out of the
building, the clearness of the night air slicing into her senses. The
flow of dark, jagged passerby had become a crush, as night descended
with full force on the glistening heart of Tokyo.
They walked towards the Shodani buildings, which loomed above all
else, dark spires touching the heavens. The smells of fish and
bizarre chemicals drifted past, mingling with the garish pink neon of
the mall block and the electric hiss from the tech shops. The heat of
the day, absorbed into the concrete and steel that was the foundation
of the city, seeped back into the night, caught by the endless flow of
pedestrians and woven into the fabric of the city again.
"We're being watched," Akane said, abruptly.
"I know," Chalandra said. "I felt the eyes on me before I
Without another word, both increased their pace, with Chalandra
watching Akane for guidance towards their destination. She was
angling outward, again, away from the Shodani towers, heading east.
"They're getting closer," Akane said. "They want to capture
A pale, muscular man stepped from a kiosk towards them, lunging,
his mouth slightly open, revealing glinting, sharp teeth. Chalandra
hammered her knee to his stomach and brought her elbow hard up against
his chin, snapping his head back.
"Let's go!" Chalandra told her companion. They dashed into the
thick crowd, pushing startled pedestrians aside, forcing their way
deep into the throng. Akane twisted to hit a vampire who was pushing
forward from a different direction, knocking him aside but not
stopping him. Chalandra glanced back and saw several vampires, using
their strength to force their ways closer.
Akane grabbed her elbow, and pulled her into an occult bookshop,
racing down the narrow, blackened aisles, past the surprised shop
owner. They burst through the back door and slammed down the
alleyway, dodging and weaving through the barely lit back avenues,
little pockets of calm choked off from the massive city by the glass
and neon towers that ringed them.
Chalandra heard the footfalls behind her, but did not turn back
to see her pursuers. She pressed hard, taxing her considerable
vampiric strength to its limit, as she and Akane burst into another
compressed mob, cutting across the shattered pavement into a crowded
She saw Akane raise her hands, her left hand extending her index
and middle finger, her right slashing the air behind her, as the
bouncers approached. They saw the signal and nodded, parting to let
Akane and Chalandra past. One of them pressed a button on his belt.
The happy electronic music that was gurgling from the towering
speakers faded, replaced by an angry, snarling pound of technopunk, to
the delight of the dancers.
They slipped through the dancing mob, which parted as they came,
closing behind them, as though they knew what was happening.
Chalandra saw several pale faces in garish, glittering clothes as she
The vampires pursuing had just entered the club as they emerged
from the throng. Chalandra dared a glimpse back at them, and smiled
as the roaring, drunken, dancing mass refused them entry, the vampires
scattered in the crowd enough to pull them down. Akane tugged on her
wrist, and she followed her into a darkened room, and up a flight of
badly repaired stairs. The window at the top was closed, and Akane
"Jump to it," Akane instructed, pointing to the brick building
ten feet over. Chalandra leapt, landing on the opposite ledge with
practiced ease. Akane shut the window tight, and leapt, the light
from below playing spectrally on her frame.
"Now, we climb," she said, pointing up. They scaled up the side
of the building, on the drainage pipe, moving with surety and purpose,
never looking down at the darkness below. Near the top, Akane slipped
through an open window, motioning for Chalandra to follow. She did,
and collapsed on the floor.
"We've lost them," Akane said, after several minutes had passed.
"They really want me bad," Chalandra said, smirking just a
"I suppose Fekesh does," Akane said.
"Perhaps," Chalandra said. "I was thinking of Red Sky."
"Always a good subject to ponder," a musical voice said. Both
Chalandra and Akane turned their heads, to see a third in the room,
barely visible in the light from the window.
His thin, graceful body was delicately androgynous, cloaked in
black. His late adolescent, Indian face smiled, showing his gleaming
teeth. His black hair hung around him, sweeping around his neck,
framing his eyes, eyes that looked back at her with the full force of
one and a half millennia on the edge of life and death.
"Teacher," Chalandra said, feeling the ground around her reel, as
her eyes locked with his. She glided forward, body moving of its own
volition, as his arms opened to receive her. "Symon," she murmured,
wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him close.
Symonachadra Mataphouri smiled, and kissed Chalandra, dark
passion boiling on his lips.
(to be continued...)
Copyright (c) 1993-2010 by Gary W. Olson. All Rights Reserved.
Gary W. Olson
swede at novitious dot com
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