Tk. Tk. Tk. Tk. Tk. Soundman's steps made a light tapping sound as he evenly paced away from the buildings of Electown's central areas, and the network itself continued to grow quieter and quieter as he walked. The wires on Soundman's jumpsuit flopped around slightly as his legs moved, tapping against his thighs, and he resisted the urge to tug at them. His speakers wobbled a bit on his shoulders, shaking back and forth. He'd have to tighten their bindings later.
These sensations weren't new to the navi, however; far from it. He was well used to this outfit, to these trappings and the abilities he possessed. But the color was reminiscent. A strikingly faded yellow, offset by a creamy blue stripe that ran up the insides of his legs and the middle of his torso. The colors of his old self. Those days were pretty long gone, though.
The wind blew through him as he continued his walk-- but he suppressed the code that would make him shiver, tightly clamped down on that automatic response that would bring his arms up to rub against his sides, and trodded on, unfazed. He was getting close. Time for a costume change.
Soundman's outfit palette-swapped in an instant; faded yellow was replaced by deep blue, and the speakers scattered across his body shined as their electronics were replaced by brass horn-bells. He kept walking. Whether he didn't care, or was simply unaware of the change was uncertain-- it was clearly a conscious action, as any Cross was, but his pace didn't change at all.
A long, brass heralding trumpet sprung outward in the grip of his right hand as he continued forward, his destination clearly in view. It's not like it was hard to miss. Completely surrounding Soundman in every direction sans one was an empty, featureless expanse; in the real world this was all abandoned or unused server-space, a requiem for just how wasteful the networks could be sometimes. Looking back behind him, he noted that he had walked so far now that even the tall buildings of Electown Net's business sector seemed small, fragile, and frail. Twin giants lurked on the edges of his vision as he stared at the buildings on the horizon, threatening to crush the city that he had left not so long ago, but Soundman simply closed his eyes and shook his head. A memory.
When he opened his eyes, the giants were gone, and the city remained exactly as it had been. A small smile threatened to crack the flat expression on Soundman's face, but it too was contained as he turned, finally, to face his destination.
Soundman grew still as his eyes traced over the massive chasm that stretched out before him, threatening and wide, like the maw of a giant beast, stretched wide to end the life of its' prey. It was a lot smaller than it had been in years past; after the Net War, the network administrators had, with help, gone to great lengths to repair Electown Net back to its' former glory. This pit had once nearly consumed this entire network-- had stretched all the way back to that town that looked so small off in the distance. But those days were gone, and things were back to 'normal'.
The only remnant of that day now was the patch of panels that stretched before him. The network admins had tried to fix it, of course, just like the rest of the gap, but this particular spot... this particular spot refused to be returned to normal. As if it were screaming out in defiance. As if that day refused to be erased entirely, refused to disappear quietly so the survivors could simply forget about it.
Soundman sighed wistfully and brought the trumpet to his lips.
The song that he and his 'speaker'-bells played was mournful. It was morose, and desolate. A somber requiem for everything that had been lost, that had been changed that day. It was a song that came in waves more than breaths, each note seeming to be caused by the last, each blow of the trumpet signaling the dying wails of another Netpolice officer, or another Netmafia grunt, or another innocent citizen simply in the wrong place at the worst moment possible. There were subtler, underlaying tones to it, as well. Small swells, small builds and upbeats of victory, small battles won in a war that was completely pointless.
His feelings for this place churned within him, nearly breaking the concentration that kept the song going. But he bade them still, and they complied, drifting into the song itself.
After a while, Soundman stopped playing, his song finished. He pulled the trumpet down and away from his lips, and the RuneCross broke off and away from him, scattering into pieces in the wind. Soundman's normal appearance returned, and he continued to stand there for a great, long while, taking in the stillness and the death of this hole in the ground.
The thought came to him-- was brought, by his memories-- that the pit might even still lead to Rogue Electown. Might still be an open door for anyone stupid, or brave, or malicious. But he doubted it. The administrators had gone to great lengths to legalize a process for getting access to the Rogue Networks, and it made little sense for them to not at least break this place's connection, even if they couldn't fix the hole itself. And even if it was still active... he doubted it would be as smooth a ride as it was back then.
"So." Trenn finally spoke, his image standing next to Soundman and staring into the pit. "What brought this on all of a sudden?"
"Nothing." Soundman replied, unmoving. "Just remembering the past for a while."
"Really?" Trenn wasn't convinced.
"Nobody comes here anymore." Soundman continued, unbidden. "They say the Net War was a great tragedy, a horrible mistake... but nobody comes here to honor the dead, or to see for themselves the place that it all occured. This place is a dead spot in the networks, forgotten completely by everyone who wasn't there."
"That's how people cope." Trenn replied simply, shrugging. "Scary things like wars used to happen in the human world a long time ago. Lots of people died. Lots of places were completely destroyed, or demolished... but then they were built up again, and people went on with their lives."
"Isn't that wrong though, Trenn?" Soundman asked. "Shouldn't they remember the sacrifices made to get them where they are now?"
"They do." He didn't elaborate.
So the pair continued to stand there, one present, one not. Continued to stand and stare at the pit.