Disclaimers: Slipstream was written by
I make no monetary profit from my fanfic
Summary: Byron continues on his journey.
Rating - PG
As he continued to ascend the rocky waterfall, he looked back to see his new friend Matt, disappear out of sight.
"I'll miss him," he said quietly to himself, "but he has his own path, his own destiny - and I have mine."
Perhaps someday the two would meet again. And he continued on his journey. A gentle breeze blew past him and he stopped to appreciate it, let it stimulate his facial muscles. A simple thing, but yet so many took it for granted, or didn't seem to notice it at all, but to Byron, it was life. It was freedom.
As he continued to climb, the air grew cool and crisp. Although he did not need to breathe, he enjoyed the stimulation. As he was walking, he thought about the name he had chosen and why. It was an old English name which meant, "at the cow sheds" or "barn." The android's first waking memory was standing alone, wearing nothing but a white cotton robe, on a cold, misty winter's morning on the English Moors. Of course the cold didn't bother him, but the mist had intrigued him. It had made all around him, the trees, shed, grassy hills and boundaries in the distance all look like mirages. He had slowly outstretched his hand and cut it though the mist, then the abandoned wooden cow shed had caught his attention. Although he knew exactly what it was, he turned his full attention toward it - it seemed almost mystical, a dark opening, seeming to have no end, among the white mist, as though it was calling to him. He accessed his vast memory banks for information about cow sheds, and found very little, and the name Byron was mentioned. The android accessed more information on this name and discovered that it was the name of a highly intelligent and famous poet, Lord Byron, or more correctly, George Gordon Noel Byron. He learned Byron was a creator's name with an element of romance and passion. The android had chosen his name. He was intrigued and inspired in that short moment and hoped one day to aspire to what he had discovered. A gentle, but crisp breeze blew around him and as hard as Byron found it to believe, it spoke to his mind.
Byron pulled himself back into the present and walked on, continuing his search - his dream - and the Slipstream would take him there. Yes, Androids do dream.
He had no idea how long his journey would take him. He had already come a long way and knew he had a long way to go. Byron became lonely. He missed Ariel and became pained when he thought of her. She had betrayed him, but she had also loved him, and in Byron's mind, that made it all right. She had opened up a whole new world to him. Being an android, he never thought he would be capable of love - what a fool he'd been, until Ariel had showed him. It had been wonderful ... magical ... exhilarating ... even the vast vocabulary Byron was programmed with couldn't describe the mixed feelings he felt, and he wouldn't have it any other way. His feelings were equally strong in sadness when he recalled her senseless death. He had dearly loved her, even though she was not of his kind. And try as he might, Byron could not find it within himself to hate Tasker for what he had done to Ariel - and it was very hard for Byron not to blame himself. He had brought Tasker to Ariel's city - of course Byron had not meant to endanger anyone, and didn't blame Tasker for pursuing him. Byron had killed a man. He had regretted having to do it, but deemed it best for both himself and the man in question - his former master. Byron never knew how to regard the man, but he longed for freedom. At first his master never mistreated him. His master was a highly educated and intelligent man. Byron travelled with him a lot before his master fell ill. He had told Byron things that he would never have told another soul, and Byron had respected that. He was a special thing to his master, but however special his master regarded him, he still considered Byron a thing, not a person. This upset Byron, as he did have feelings - perhaps different from human emotions, but he had them all the same. The man used him. Byron did all the housework, cooking, sewing, washing, and whatever else his master wanted done, and received nothing in return. He was his master's slave. There came a time when Byron's master would not let him out of the large, lonely house. Food and other essential items were delivered. Byron could now only look at the outside world through a closed window. None of the windows in the house would be opened because the master hated draughts. He made Byron do many things the android would rather forget about and slowly took more and more of his already limited freedom away. He had lied to Byron, told him that he owned him and that there were no others like him, but something inside Byron told him differently. Byron asked his master if he could leave, which infuriated the old man. He had yelled at Byron, threatened him and forbade him to do anything of the sort, and always kept a close eye on him. Byron began to write stories and poems in private, about freedom, what he believed in and the Slipstream, and people like him, which he kept hidden from his master. However, they were found. Byron's master was extremely nosey and picky, and he burned all Byron's work and then forbade Byron to write. Byron hid his anger and heartbreak at all his heartfelt literature being tossed into the fireplace, but said nothing to his master, who by this time was confined to a wheelchair and bed, but modern medicine would keep him alive for many years to come.
One night, Byron's master ordered him to put him to bed. Byron obeyed, lifted the old man out of his wheelchair and gently laid him on the bed. The master pulled up the covers and fell asleep in a short while. Byron made sure he was asleep, then pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, saturated with a colourless, odourless fatal substance. He gently placed it over his master's mouth and nose. Byron regretted having to do it, but it had been necessary. No being should enslave another, and had killed the man in the most humane way possible. He never felt a thing as Byron snapped his neck. Perhaps his master would find a true friend in the place humans called Heaven.
Byron walked down stairs, to the front door, kicked it out and walked outside for the first time in many years - to freedom - to search for his own destiny and he strongly believed the Slipstream would take him there.
But the law had discovered what Byron had done. The notorious tracker, Tasker had come after him and eventually caught him. It made no difference to Tasker that Byron was an android. It was black and white. Byron had broken the law and the law was the law, Byron did not resist, as he believed he should be punished for the crime he had committed, but fate had something else in mind. Byron had been kidnapped by Matt, a carefree, free spirited, young fellow, at first wanting the bounty on Byron's head. Reasonable, Byron thought. It was a lot of money, which most humans so highly valued.
Through their journey, Matt and Byron became friends, being pursued by Tasker and his lady companion. They had met Ariel who had taken them to her city. Her people had been welcoming at first, but that welcome had been short lived. Byron had fallen in love with Ariel, though she had mislead him. Who had ever thought that intercourse could be that enjoyable ... Byron smiled at the thought. Ariel had loved him too, despite her people's protests about the strangers.
But Tasker had found them, and had shot Ariel without thinking. Byron had given his condolences to her people, who only now could see his true love for her, as Byron selflessly went with Tasker to face his fate. He did not want any more innocent people to get hurt. This ... mad ... determined ... obsessed man would not stop until he had hunted Byron down.
Tasker flew with Byron back to the city, where he had originally taken him, or what was considered a city in this time, but the plane had lost control. Byron desperately tried to rectify the flight. He could survive a crash, Tasker, however could not. Tasker grew excited that they were going to make it. Byron desperately wanted both of them to make it - for both of them to live and to show Tasker that he was not a cold-blooded murderer. In that moment, Byron felt a kinship with Tasker, but it was short lived as the plane careered into the bottom of a cliff and exploded before Byron could gain sufficient altitude. Byron had survived the crash, a little worse, for wear, but the human did not. Even after what Tasker had done, Byron grieved for the man.
"I could have saved him..." he told himself over and over again, but realized the wind had been too strong. Tasker had not believed in the Slipstream. Byron realized that this was the Slipstream's doing and he could not fight that. He believed in the Slipstream. The cave dwellers they had encountered on their journey worshipped the Slipstream and had tied Byron to a kite to let the Slipstream have him, ravage him, but it had not. Byron respected these people for their beliefs. Like them, he knew the Slipstream was more than just a wind. It was alive. Byron couldn't explain it. No one could. It just was. It spoke to him, not with words, but in feeling. Its gentle caress ... it cared for him, protected him like a mother ... a brother, a father, friend. It had told him that he was not alone. Byron never struggled against the Slipstream. He let it lead him wherever it wished to take him, even when it mislead him. He loved the Slipstream. A very different kind of love that he had for Ariel or his friend Matt, but it was love. A very deep, special and unique love.
Byron continued on his journey, over a long, wide, grassy plain, over hills, mountains, through valleys, gorges, along rivers, oceans and seas. Byron did not fear the rough seas. The Slipstream was leading him in the right direction, teaching him to follow his instincts and playing with him. He laughed as it tickles him. Byron's journey took him through deserts, swamplands, cities, canyons, savannas and rocky plains. He loved it when the winds carried him off his feet and took him into the air. It made him feel as though he were flying. He closed his eyes as he felt the gentle winds caress his body and his soul.
* * *
Byron stopped walking one sunny day, feeling something deep inside him. Something which wouldn't go away. It started as a slight tingling. At first he thought it was a malfunction and ran a self-diagnostic, but everything checked out fine. However, the tingling was still there. It was not an unpleasant sensation, and Byron was now convinced that it was trying to tell him something. He knelt down on the thick, luscious, grass carpeted land and looked around him - a large, grassy hill directly ahead to the North, the grass stretched to the East, rocky mountains to the West and he had come from the South. Byron's gaze turned back to the large hill in front of him. Something was beyond it. He could feel it now. Something special. He stood, walked toward it and began to climb.
When he reached the top, Byron looked yonder and was taken aback. For as far as he could see - people. People like him. He sensed them - men, women and even android children playing. He saw cities, villages, houses, and more people doing all sorts of different things. Tears welled in Byron's gentle large grey-blue eyes. The Slipstream winds circled, protecting the land and these people. Beyond the horizon, a bright crystal, crimson haze began to form.
A gentle wind caressed him, only him, sensing his feelings and loving him.
"Thank you," Byron breathed, his voice gentle, soft and sincere. A tear welled and began to fall down his cheek.
The Slipstream had brought him home.
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