Katjia crossed the street and stood in front of the burned out husk of a building, staring up. Her collar was turned up against the cold and damp, but it was out of habit more than desire to block the elements. It wasn’t so much that the cold drizzle didn’t bother her, nor that she didn’t notice it. No, Katjia wasn’t worried about the cold wind or the icy rain; because they were a part of her, and she of them. She grew up here on these streets, and just like the blood in her veins kept her meat body alive, the cold winds and icy rains running through her veins kept her soul alive. Mind you, Katjia wasn’t sure if she believed in souls anymore, not after everything that had happened; but as a mage, she knew there was something else beyond the meat that made her who she was.
She felt that something shift as she began to call up the mana around her. Even a drek-hole like this place had a manasphere; and she tapped into it now, feeling the energy flow into her body and electrify her aura. Without a good spot to stash her body, she couldn’t go full-astral, so she just sent a bit of herself out to poke around. She knew before she did it that it wouldn’t be pleasant; what remained of the neighborhood held nothing but darkness. Even knowing this, expecting the heaviness, the full weight of it still came as a shock.
The astral here was full of pain. The despair, despondency, and grief were as palpable on the astral plane as the cold and rain were on the physical. Hopelessness and loss clung to her like slimy wet leaves blown in the wind. She shuddered and tried to focus; the faster she did what she came to do, the faster she could leave.
She sent her astral vision into the building, approximating distances since the rubble gave her little to go on. It didn’t matter though; she’d spent years in this building, and knew it better than she knew herself. Then again, she knew a lot of things better than she knew herself; nuclear physics, for example. Katjia didn’t know a fragging thing about nuclear physics, other than it was complicated and dangerous; the same, she thought, could be said about herself. She shook her head again, trying to clear her mind and focus on the task at hand. Where the eyes in her body saw what was left of the building, her astral eyes searched the rubble for auras, or more accurately, the traces that remained after the people that had left them were gone.
She had almost given up hope when she saw what she was looking for. There were only traces left, looking like little flecks of paint on the astral overlay of the jumbled steel and concrete; but the traces were all she needed. Her sister had been here. Katjia breathed a small sigh of relief. The bits of Sera’s astral signature weren’t the muted, fading colors of someone who was dying; Sera was alive, somewhere.
She brought all of her vision back to her body, gave one final nod of farewell to the place she had once called home, and turned her back on it for the last time. This place held nothing for her now, and she felt some small relief that she would never have to return. Sera wasn’t here, thank Ghost; but now there was work to do. Katjia pulled out her commlink and got down to business; she was going to find her sister and bring down the fraggers who had taken her.
Parts 2, 3.1, and 3.2 can be found here https://jtonicwriting.wordpress.com/