This is the result of my musing one night – what if, said I, in my sleep-deprived state of mind, what if Saavedro seriously meant that he and the Stranger were stuck together behind the shields? What sort of chaos and madness would ensue, then? And, more importantly, how are they going to get out of this situation? Well, here's my little take on it. We begin as any normal story concerning the ending of Myst III: Exile might, only this time, things aren't so simple.
I came up with this idea at about one in the morning, so don't expect the best job. This is meant to be a little snack to tide over the Myst fans who are already clamoring at my door for Locusani: Saavedro's Tale. To those who are impatient for it: I know it's hard, but I promise you, the wait will be well worth your while. So, here's an alternate universe fanfic to whet your appetite until I finish Locusani. Said tale should be done by the end of this year, by the way.
Disclaimer: I don't own this. I don't own any of this. I only own the idea for this story.
A/N: Be aware that Saavedro may seem a little… er, eviler than normal. Let's just call it poetic license and say nothing more of it.
The Stranger looked out at the icy shield and sighed. So much trouble, so many journeys, so many tests to pass to get here. Finally, she had made it. After everything that happened, she had finally made it to the man who had stolen her friend's book, the man who wanted revenge on Atrus for his sons' actions – and now it would seem that he was angry at having his plan go wrong.
No, she obviously wasn't Atrus, and no, she certainly wasn't able to fix Narayan as Saavedro wanted. Even if she did know the Art, she could never fix what had already been broken – and she certainly couldn't mend the angry shell of a man that now stood there, glaring at her with cold eyes full of hunger and devoid of hope.
She tensed as Saavedro neared her, feeling his stare drill into her very core.
"We're stuck here, you know," he growled, a manic grin playing about his lips.
Was he toying with her? Or just trying to scare her? Panic her, so that she'd go just as crazy as he had?
"I don't believe you," the Stranger said, defiant and more than a little angry. "How do I know that you aren't just playing with my mind?"
"You don't believe me? Take a look around, girl. Look! Do you see anything behind that ice? Well, I don't – and if I have to be stuck here, I'm not going to be stuck here alone.
"This chamber -" he paused his speech to demonstrate by jumping – "Is the only way in, and Atrus installed some kind of shield. And I have never – not once in all these years – been able to get past it. What makes you think that you can?"
"Maybe the fact that I haven't lost all of my firemarbles yet."
You fool. You're messing with a man who is half-insane with grief and has a blunt weapon in his hand at this very moment. Unless you can somehow smooth-talk your way out of being clobbered, you are in some very, VERY deep –
At this moment, Saavedro launched himself at her and pinned her to the ground, hammer poised to strike at any given moment.
"Do not mistake my insanity and lack of hope," he hissed, "For a lack of strength and will. I will hurt you if I must."
"Get off of me!"
"You might have been clever enough to get through Atrus' little mind-maze, but are you clever enough to escape here? Because unless you manage to find some way out, you're just as stuck here as I am."
He stood up, hammer still in hand, and eyes still holding a mad sort of gleam. He was about to turn and leave, but suddenly stopped halfway and walked back to the Stranger, who had picked herself up by now and was trying to escape unnoticed.
"If you do find a way out," he said in a dangerous tone, "I suggest that you think very carefully before using it. Because if it's one thing that I do know, it's this – the doors that you open don't close behind you."
There, I've opened the inner shield. What's down here?
The Stranger had since opened the inner shield, and was now exploring what lay beyond it. More of the same, mostly. A gondola hung from a steel cable, dusty from years of disuse. A glance to the left showed a set of stairs leading down.
Time to check some things out… Maybe there's a clue down there… why do I suddenly feel watched?
A quick glance upward confirmed her feeling. On the ledge above, she could see Saavedro's metal bunker… and was that a window?
Feeling nervous, she beat a hasty retreat down the stairs. Once there, she noticed a green linking book with Tomahna stamped on the cover. She took the book and carefully slipped it into her pack for later. Another glace around revealed several more tapestries like the ones upstairs.
These must have the symbols I need.
Carefully, she leafed through Atrus' journal and soon found the appropriate page.
Balanced Systems Stimulate Civilization. I have some of those symbols already written down… and the rest must be here!
Quickly, she found the symbols she was looking for and made her way back upstairs, zipping into the main room as quickly as she could.
Okay, here goes the final symbol…
Nervous and shaky, the Stranger began to enter the symbol, one bit at a time.
Balanced… Systems… Stim–
A sudden zapping noise was heard from the mechanical code entry mechanism, and the Stranger barely had time to react before the whole thing blew in a shower of sparks.
Damn… This adventure is just getting worse every second…
All was silent for a moment as the acrid smoke cleared, and by then the Stranger could see that it was hopelessly fried.
"Oh, God… how am I going to fix this mess?"
"What… did… you… do?"
Saavedro's voice was heard from behind her, and from the sound of it, he was staring in wide-eyed horror at the charred remains of the symbol entry mechanism.
Oh, please, let him not be too angry!
The Stranger turned, nervously facing Saavedro.
"It… um, it… sort of… broke…"
"What!? You broke it?" His anger seemed to melt, and fear took its place as he began to pace around the room.
"Oh Weaver have mercy… Please, please tell me that it's not too broken…"
"Um, it looks pretty broken to me..."
Saavedro only stared at her, then at the broken machine, then back to her.
"It's certainly not going to work anymore, then..."
"Oh dear God… we really are stuck in here, aren't we?"
"I… guess… we are…"
"So, now what? I'm stuck in here with some crazed Narayani who not five seconds ago threatened my life."
"I've been doing this for twenty years, girl. I'm not sure how much longer I can stand this…"
"Well, what do you want me to do about it? Call your mommy and give you a teddy bear to hug?"
Saavedro's eyes flashed dangerously, and his hand instinctively went for his hammer, but he stopped himself.
"That would be a good idea, Saavedro," the Stranger said, "unless you want to be stuck here forever. I have the final symbol, and the only way we're getting out of here is if I'm alive and well."
"As much as I hate to admit it… you're right. Just don't cross me like that again. I'm already annoyed as it is."
"I can see that. So, any ideas?"
"On how to get out of here. There must be some way."
Saavedro laughed bitterly.
"Oh, you don't think I've tried everything possible?" he said, giving the Stranger a scathing glance. "The shields are made of ice – in Narayan, we never even put them into our drinks to chill them, because the ice here becomes so hard that it would break your teeth."
"So? That's only one way out. What about the vines over there, can't we just break them down or something?"
Saavedro looked horrified at the mention of this.
"What? Is that like, taboo or something here?"
"Very. The vines are considered sacred… I can't."
"I see… Maybe you could climb down from the platform above?"
"It's a twenty-foot drop, girl. I'd surely die if I fell from that height… On second thought, that might be better than being stuck her with you."
The Stranger looked incensed at this, but said nothing.
"So… what are we gonna do? Just sit here for the rest of our natural lives?"
Saavedro grabbed the Stranger roughly and turned her to face him.
"Do you see," he said menacingly, "What I've been through? Do you see what being alone with the uncertainty of if your family survived or not and no hope of getting home can do to a person? I don't think I can take much more of this, girl – either I'm going to go even crazier and kill one of us, or I'm going to wind up taking you down with me. You'd better find some way out of here, or the end result isn't going to fare well for you."
The Stranger's eyes grew wide with horror at the thought of possibly dying at this man's hands - or worse. She had to act quickly, and she had a plan – but Saavedro sure wasn't going to like it.
Finally, she straightened up, wrenched her arm out of Saavedro's grasp, and stared him dead in the eyes.
"There is one way," she said, making up a lie as quickly as she could. "There's a book down in the other room. If you go out there and bring it back, we might be able to ask Atrus for help."
"Atrus? I will never ask for his help, not after what he and his sons did to Narayan."
"Only his sons did something, actually. Atrus didn't even know that his sons were here. But that's another story – right now the only way to get out of here is to get that book. Now, go out there, and -"
Saavedro's eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"And how do I know that you won't just reactivate the shield and leave me out there? How do I know that you don't have the book with you at this very moment, and you're just hiding it somewhere?"
Saavedro leafed through her pack, looking to find some evidence that the girl was lying, but found none.
"Now do you trust me?"
Saavedro pondered this a moment.
"No. But I have no choice. Do not let me have cause to find you untrustworthy."
He turned to enter the downstairs room as the Stranger walked upstairs, sliding the book out from under her shirt.
The ice shield froze, sealing the doorway to the main room, and trapping the angered man behind it.
Saavedro ran onto the platform from downstairs, looking first at the shield, and then up at the Stranger.
And howled in rage.
The sound was pitiful; it absolutely broke the Stranger's heart to listen to. But she had to keep him back there – it was safer for both of them if they were separated.
The Stranger watched Saavedro curl into a little ball, whimpering and muttering to himself, then blinked back tears of pity before going back downstairs to speak with him.
He looked up at her through the window of vines, eyes pleading and disbelieving.
"You… trapped me."
"Yes, I did."
"You liar! You told me it was down there!"
"Well, it wasn't. I have it. And if you want to get out of there, you'd better start treating me a little nicer and stop threatening to kill me."
Here the Stranger pulled the linking book from her pack and held it defensively, cradling it as Saavedro cradled Releeshahn.
"This book is the only way out of here, Saavedro, and I have it. But if you won't help me, then I'm not going to help you."
"Please, don't leave me like this!"
"Give me Releeshahn and your word that you aren't going to thwack me, and then I'll let you out."
Saavedro shoved the book through the wall of vines and gave the Stranger another pleading look.
"Get me out of here…"
"I will. I promise. Just give me a second."
The Stranger ran upstairs, leaving her pack behind her on the floor.
The shield opened with a loud humming noise, allowing Saavedro access to the main room again.
The Stranger looked down onto the platform to see what he was planning to do.
The Narayani looked up at her, as if he couldn't quite believe that she had let him go, and then at the now open door. He gave her one more glance, then walked through the open door, his hands firmly behind his back.
Once upstairs, he gave the Stranger a disbelieving look. Their eyes locked for a moment, neither daring to make the first movement or speak a single word.
The Stranger broke the silence suddenly by saying "Now do you trust me?"
Saavedro looked at her, then at Releeshahn, his face expressionless.
"Do you trust me?" he challenged, giving the Stranger a small smirk. He finally revealed a hand from behind his back.
The Stranger held back a cry of horror as she saw that he was holding the Linking Book to Tomahna.
"Give it back."
"Give it back!"
"I will not. You have to give me something first."
"And how can I trust you? How do I know that you won't double-cross me behind my back?"
Saavedro grinned dangerously. "But that's precisely it – you can't."
The Stranger held Releeshahn fast against her, as if it were the only thing that she had left.
"I'm not giving you Releeshahn back, you know that?"
"Oh, you will, with the right incentive in place. Think of it as bartering. You either give me Releeshahn, or you pay with your life. It's up to you to choose which one."
"Fine! I'll give you the Goddamn book. But you have to give me the Linking Book first."
"No, you give me Releeshahn first!"
"The Linking Book!"
The Stranger tried to ignore the growing unease that she felt from the stare of his eerie ice blue eyes and walked towards him.
"How about we try this?" she asked, stopping about a foot from him. "We'll slip each other the book we want at the same time. That way, there's no room for either of us to try anything."
Saavedro gave her an unreadable look, then said "Okay" in an equally unreadable tone.
"Fine, then. Right. We'll go on three. One…"
She loosened her hold on the book, holding it with one hand now.
Saavedro did the same. The Stranger gave him one last defiant gaze.
Saavedro whipped out his hammer from behind his back and struck the Stranger in the head.
The Stranger staggered back, then fell to the ground, dropping Releeshahn in the process. It slid across the metal grating, stopping mere inches from Saavedro's feet. The Stranger watched as he picked it up and walked over to the unrailed side of the platform.
"You… tricked me…"
Saavedro flashed another manic grin.
"Welcome to my world, girl. You can't trust anybody here, least of all a man who was desperate enough to resort to vengeance. Now, it would seem that the tables have turned – I'm going to finally, finally be free – and you? You'll be staying here for a very long time…"
"And why not? You only betrayed me when I trusted you. Why shouldn't I return that little act of kindness? It just wouldn't be fair if I didn't."
"I'm not… your… enemy…"
"Should've thought about that before trapping me."
"Who… trapped you first?"
"Sirrus and Achenar. Atrus sent them to Narayan, you know that? He sent them to wreak havoc and cause my world to fall. And now, Narayan lies dead. The Shield is the only thing that prevents me from seeing the true damage."
"Warped… Atrus didn't… wreck…"
Saavedro scowled at her and opened the book, holding it out above the abyss below.
"it's too late for apologies, girl. You really need to plan things out."
He dropped Releeshahn over the edge of the balcony.
"You know how they say that revenge is best served cold? I think I'd like to disprove that little theory. I think I'd rather like to say that it's sweet – very sweet, indeed."
"Saavedro… don't do this… please…"
Saavedro placed his hand on the panel, and the only sound heard was the roar of the link, accompanied by the Stranger's desperate cries as she watched him fade away.
That was vaguely disturbing… O.o Hopefully you all have enjoyed this little random thoughtlet. No, I'm not adding more to it, not unless everybody really wants me to and the mood suddenly strikes me to try it. Tell me what you think worked – and what didn't – by sending me a little love note (AKA: A review). Who knows? I might just surprise you with something neat later. But only if I get at least five reviews this month (I'm being lenient here, since the Myst section can be a bit slow). Saavedro will be waiting to catch up with you later in Locusani: Saavedro's Tale, which is coming either this Fall or next Spring. I'm sure he'll have many a tale to tell you about the things he's gone through and just how much rage can build up in twenty years… And hopefully, all of you will be there to listen to it. It's gonna be a doozy! Until then, keep your eyes and ears open – and try bugging Miss Halley, who still won't update her hilarious and delightful Myst III fic entitled "Between the Lines." If you haven't read it, do! You won't regret it. Help me bug her into finishing her tale!