The Hallowed Spires Of Eamon-Ra
The two friends looked out over the glittering city… in the distance, the ever shifting, ever wondrous, hallowed spires of Eamon-Ra.
To one, the streets far below looked like a billion shining bytes of data; information, commerce and communication zipping along the brilliantly lit circuit board of what used to be New York City, back before the Reconciliation.
To the other, they still kinda looked like busy roads full of hurrying cars and people, eager to get to nowhere important so that they could rush on from there to somewhere even more mediocre. It was difficult to get worked up enough to hear a symphony in the sounds of beeping horns and frustration rising up to them.
“You know, it doesn’t look all that different,” he stated, flatly, “people are still people are still people. They still fight and fuck and live noisily and die quiet.”
“Oh, man, haven’t you come down off that, yet?” Came the infinitely more perky reply. “Look, Ed, I hate to hit you with the fact hammer yet again, but people are happier than they’ve ever been before. Statistically, there’s practically no violent crime, hardly any disease (certainly, nothing that serious), and recent studies show that stress related illness is becoming a thing of the past…”
“Yeah, yeah, I know… and the homeless have all been relocated and elevated to housing as good as everyone else, and the evil landlords have been all but eradicated, so people feel safer and happier, and we all love the French, and it’s all so fucking … dandy!” He sighed, hands in pockets. An outfit with pockets, if nothing else, was a perk of the new run of things. Hardly anyone bothered with the capes and spandex anymore. “President Lucas has the highest approval rating of any leader anywhere ever, and all our previous crimes are forgiven and forgotten. The aliens all love us; this is the dawning of the age of Sol, the golden era, etc etc.” He looked down and away.
The Accomplice patted his friend Liquid Eddy on the back reassuringly. “Come on, Ed, it’s party night… even you can’t be that much of an ass that you can’t celebrate the anniversary of the heroes going into retirement…” He indicated the distant, glittering edifice with a casual wave. “You ever been to Eamon-Ra’s place? He has an indoor rollercoaster that runs through the whole building, penthouse to basement, and if you’re on it when the place shifts, weird 5 dimensional shit starts to happen… the thing goes up at the same time as going down, and you suddenly find yourself becoming other people… your father, your gramps, your daughter, even…” Looking straight at Eddy, serious suddenly, he says, “Last time, when it came to a halt, I suddenly realised I was two seats back from where I was when the ride had started… I thought I’d lost my date until I saw the back of her head, back at our spot. She hadn’t shifted, but she’d seen something…”
“Oh, man. That doesn’t sound like fun at all. I don’t even want to go to this party. What the hell kind of name is Eamon-Ra, anyway…?”
The Accomplice rolled his eyes. “Come on, you know the story, Ed. Everyone does.” He nodded his head gently in time with the tempo of his own voice. “Eamon was an archeologist of Irish extraction working in Egypt who found…” Eddy shot him a wry grin. “Ah, screw you, man.”
He took a step nearer the ledge, testing his weight against the wind, eyes closed, head raised.
“Anyway, like him or not, he always throws a great party, you know that.
I don’t know, Eddy, it’s like you’re always so down. Life’s easy, now. No more schemes, no more prison, we’re all looked after and we can pretty much do what we want, long as we don’t hurt anybody.”
Liquid Eddy settled on his haunches, and scratched his thigh absently. He was certain that he was contracting some kind of stress rash again.
“I didn’t mind it so much, before,” he said sulkily, looking at his trainers. Then, “I mean, I’m not a person who flourishes within their comfort zone. I’m bored shitless, man.”
The Accomplice looked back at his friend, momentarily uncertain of what to say… there was no talking to some people. It was with relief that he noticed a sudden brightening of Eddy’s features.
“Hey, do you remember the time with Desperator, when we managed to pull a hostage/negotiator trade-off switcheroo on El Bandido, and had him trussed up like a damn pinata?”
“Yeah, happy times.” He replied, an impatient edge to his tone. It was turning out to be a hot summer, and the Isobar Twins were going to be pulling some cooling cloud cover across the city like a fresh blanket before bedtime. It was their gift to a district that was being very kind to them and their peers, and the people on the ground would be grateful for the cooling drizzle, but if the cloudbanks rose high enough to obscure the tallest spires of their distant party destination, navigation would be an absolute bitch. It was time to wrap this nonsense up.
“Do you remember how the Desperator fucked it up by beating on old El so bad that he dislocated the grizzled bastard’s shoulder, and let him pull himself free? And then how El beat twelve different dimensions of shit out of us with his fucked arm?”
Liquid Eddy looked downcast. “Well, yeah, I suppose it wasn’t all laughs.”
“No, it certainly wasn’t. Did you hear what happened to Des?”
“Yeah… he kind of lost his way after the changes…”
“He escalated his MO like some kind of psycho on a crack bender. It took DreadLord, High Bastion 2.0 and some of their hangers-on to stop him, and the only way to bring him down was to shut off his higher functions permanently.” Fuck-a-duck… the clouds were coming in. Eamon-Ra’s was still visible, poking through like a distant beacon, but if they didn’t get moving…
“Now he’s drooling in a special ward somewhere, incapable of a ‘comeback’ or anything like. And Jesus wept, it took the volunteers nearly a week to clear up the bodies… Lost his way is a bit past the point!”
“I suppose. But don’t you think… Aren’t things all a bit… Organised and cozy now?”
“Oh, you incredible, dumb bastard. What the hell is so great about chaos? Do you remember how much time we spent in prison, or in traction, before?
And now I’ve got the fucking Flagbearer coming round to my office, begging me to let him do my taxes, and El Bandido’s wife is cleaning my apartment for pennies while I do what the fuck I like! How crazy stubborn do you have to be to think things aren’t better now?”
A few moments of silence after his outburst, The Accomplice looked over at his friend. He realised that this was a regular argument, and he had lost his temper over it yet again. It wasn’t like he didn’t understand… the thrill of pursuit and evasion, the danger; sometimes he missed it too.
But really, things were so much better now.
“Look, I’m sorry, Eddy. But think about it. Remember how shithouse poor we were back then?” He indicated Eddy’s shoes. “You couldn’t have afforded those, most of the time, back then. Remember how badly the soles of those old outfits used to rub after they started to wear through?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Eddy started to rise to his feet, patting roof dirt off the backs of his legs as he did. “Can we still see the spires? Maybe we should get gone, now.”
The Accomplice patted Liquid Eddy on the arm fraternally, then stepped away. Looking out across the clouds, he tensed his body for a fraction of a second, and then he shot up into the air and off, toward the distant promise of the party.
His companion regarded the lip of the building for a moment, considering. He muttered something.
“Same shit. Different age.”
Then he poured himself over into the night, the clouds conducting him to what he was certain was more disappointment, down the line.
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