Chapter 51:


From Nowhere to Sender

Whether it was the day it all ended or the day it all began, Guell couldn't say. And not just because saying things in general continued to be a trying prospect for him. The truth was he was still searching for the answer to that question.

What he did know was that the day the trumpets sounded and the sky quaked, was the same day the mighty chain fell from heaven alongside any designs tied to the great project. Perhaps they'd pulled too hard, or maybe the gods saw fit to put an end to this nuisance. But the event took nearly half of the plateau with it. Thousands died, ranging from the spent workforce up top to the docile citizens down below.

Guell just happened to be standing at the right place at the right time. Even the chain had missed him when it was pulled to earth by the weight of its other half. This was of little consequence to him at the time, he'd simply stared up at the sky seeking out the source of the noise. It was then a different thought struck him.

Had the sky always been this big?

They'd first been introduced the day he was taken from the apartment and brought to the worksite. Since then, Guell found that his gaze frequently needed to be directed downwards in order to do daily tasks and interact with people the few times required. Seldom did he have a reason to look up, but now that he had so many things came to mind. The chain for example, considered large by their meager standards but paled in comparison to the sky stretching out before him now.

Then as soon as they'd started, the blaring of the trumpets came to an abrupt end. Or maybe the beings playing them had just stopped to take a breath, so that they might gaze upon this world like Guell gazed upon there's.

From that day onward he always made sure to make use of the time between those breaths. So when it came time for the next performance, Guell could return to that sky and take a breather of his own. This time was no different.

And so in spite of the dangerous implications it wrought, Guell's gaze drifted back towards the sky and a deep steady breath filled his lungs. For this to happen now...before things could reach their conclusion. Surely this must be the world's way of demanding silence. And so he obeyed, but the voices inside his head persisted.

"I'd ask that you remove your hand and leave this place!"

"You did such a good job staying quiet again today..."

"Your disposition reminds me of an old story..."


Those voices were interrupted by the sound of a powerful explosion that rang out from somewhere ahead of him, momentarily canceling out both the wind and trumpets. In that moment the world was silent, the sky was blue and all was at it should be. No place for the voices of the past, nor the voices of the future he sought to snuff out.

But one of those voices had contributed to this silence. Brought forth a rare demonstration of one of the world's ancient truths. Something he'd been chasing ever since that night around the campfire all those years ago. For the first time since then, Guell found himself pondering the fate of that woman. Had she been among the countless casualties that day? Would the person he is now be capable of asking her what was wrong?

The blonde sharpshooter responsible for his sorry state reminded him of her in some odd way. Cut from the same cloth perhaps, shortsighted when it came to the things that weren't directly in front of them. Guell had never been the one in front of that woman whenever she told stories. Sure she was looking at him, but she was most assuredly speaking to someone else.

The sharpshooter wasn't paying him any mind now either. He'd become an afterthought once another rocket entered the field. Not that it upset him. In many ways Guell had taken on the role of Murn, although he'd lost his bucket somewhere during combat. Shame he couldn't have it with him now, he'd have tried collecting a small portion of this silence.

That silence was gone just as quickly as it had settled, punctuated by the sounds of two bullets piercing the space between his shoulder blades. He was thankful they hadn't aimed for his head. This way he could continue in his admiration of the vast space above him in his final moments.

He vaguely felt his back strike the surface of the bridge but the pain signals being sent to his brain had ceased at some point. Save for a warmth spreading beneath him, Guell felt nothing outside of gratitude. For the trumpets had seen fit to mark both the beginning and end of his story. His beginning could only be the day the chain fell.

It'd taken him until these final moments, but he'd figured it out. Because what was life without a view like this. A view impossible to witness from behind the shelf of that small apartment.

His only regret. That he'd never found things precious enough to occupy space on that shelf. A shelf with nothing on it was rather conspicuous after all. Turns out he was the hypocrite. That sharpshooter may not realize it yet, but she possessed far more than he ever could. Far more than a single shelf could hope to handle. Should that shortsightedness of hers ever abate, she'd see it too. The answer to the destination she sought.

A new silence took hold of Guell Quay then, a silence that would never let go. A silence as old and present as the world itself.


"That's one issue taken care of."

"Feel free to take the credit in the report."

"In that case your bullet definitely killed him, I'd expect nothing less of my superior officer."

Evan turned towards Heenan and threw up a mock salute.

"Your sharpshooter did the heavy lifting, but it doesn't seem right to award that effort with more paperwork."

"Doubt she even knew the guy she was fighting was the freaking party leader."

"Were you even aware the man you killed was the vice party leader?"

Evan looked over in the direction of the deceased Tiberius, still leaned up against the railing.

"Boy they'll make anybody a vice party leader these days huh."

"I'm headed off to the bridge to speak with Ms. Prentice, I want you to rotate with the officers downstairs. I'm sure they're exhausted, see to any injuries they may have while you're at it."

"Yes sir."

"And see about getting that body down from atop the bridge before we reach New Kantler. Have the gentleman with the crowbar assist you. It'd be in poor taste to leave it where others can gawk at it."

"Did you get the vibe this Quay guy was ready to die?"

"It's not about being ready to die, it's about being unprepared to continue living."