Just Drive...

I have watched and waited for the man who calls himself Gabriel Martyn to come to his senses, but he is still trapped in the memories of another man. When will he realize his true nature, will he ever return to what he was? These questions have haunted me as I've watched, waited and guided him down the road that leads to his destiny. A road that, I hope, will bring him home once again.

I am Lei Yung, Celestial Guardian of the Gate, or some such lofty sounding title. I am a doorman, nothing more, nothing less. But Gabriel is something special. He was lost unto his brothers during the great battle. When his brother Auri was injured, he held back the enemy so the others could see to his brother's safety. After that, he was lost to all of us.

It took me many years to find him, for not only was he lost to us, but to himself as well. Even in the life he had assumed, he was out of place, at odds with the life he knew, and the parts that were missing.

He became a part of society, only to shun it later. He drifted into the city, drifted into the shadows, and ended up here. So far from the safety of his father's home, so far from the family that is waiting for him, so far from what he was born to do. Time will tell if he ever returns to us.

In the meantime, I will watch, and wait, and guide my charge, my friend, Gabriel Knight.

Just Drive - Gabriel Martyn's story

She closed the door behind her and fell back against the seat. "Just drive," she said. "Take me away from here, I don't care where, just drive."
I nodded as I pushed the lever and pulled out into traffic. The meter started rolling by as the miles passed beneath my wheels. She didn't say anything for a very long time, then she asked me, "Have you ever reached a point in your life, where you just wonder, what am I doing here?"
"Every day," I answered. "Every day."
"Have you ever found an answer?" she asked. As I looked at her in the rear view mirror, I could see the despair in her eyes.
"Not yet, but each day, I figure I'm one step closer to the answer," I say with a nod.
She snorted and shook her head. "Me I figure I'm getter further and further from the answer."
She looked up at me and our eyes met in the mirror. Ice blue, I could feel the chill. Her eyes were searching desperately for an answer that I knew I couldn't give her.

"You just keep trying," I told her. "And someday, maybe, it'll all make sense.

She nodded, she may have even thought about it for a while, but she finally just sat back and watched the city pass by. I'd seen her kind before, it shouldn't have bothered me, the city was full of lost souls. But she was in my cab; my realm; my domain.
"You want to talk about it," I finally asked. I'd been driving her for over an hour by then.
"No," she answered angrily, but I could see the need in her eyes.
"Fine," I answered with a shortness I didn't really feel. This was part of the game. Get the fare to talk to you, confide in you. Do your job, then move on, but what ever you do, don't get personally involved.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "So sorry for everything." Her voice was lost in the rumble of the tires on the road. It was another hour before she spoke again.
"Can you take me to the bridge?" she asked, just like he'd said she would. My heart started to race. She was closer to death than she knew.
The bridge loomed up ahead. It was the bridge where they had met, Claudia and Mikhail. He had proposed to her on the spot. But that was long ago, water under the bridge, water and a lot of blood. Claudia was determined to add hers to the mix, cement their bonds, but there was so much more out there. I had to get her to see that, but how?
"Miss," I asked again, and again our eyes met in the mirror. This time her eyes widened, did she recognize me? I couldn't tell in the darkness, but I knew something had happened. "I know its none of my business, but..." I stop. How do I tell her that if she goes to the bridge she will make the biggest mistake of her life. This is not the ending, it must be the beginning.
I had been the one that drove her to the bridge that day, so long ago. Claudia Vanderholt, heiress to the Vanderholt estate. I'd known then that she'd meet him, and that they'd fall in love. That had been one of the better 'assignments'. But now, to drive the same lady to her doom, it wasn't right, it wasn't fair.
The boss calls us the agents of fate. We provide the opportunity, nothing more. He said that this was a turning point in her life. What he hadn't mentioned, was that one turn would have a very quick, very bitter end. I'd seen her in joy, and now, I found I couldn't blindly allow that joy and beauty to die within her.
The boss claims to know it all, that all the rest of us are searching for who and what we are. Even the 'agents of fate.' He plays us, like he plays them, I just haven't figured out his game yet. As we pull up to the bridge she asks me to stop.
"I'll only be a minute," she says as she starts to open the door.
"No," I countered as I made up my mind. Its no longer about her flailing blindly, its about me. Am I master of my fate, or merely a passenger. Its time I find out. "You aren't leaving, not like this," I told her as I locked the doors. "You want to know what its all about? Well, I'll show you."
"You can't do this," she objected. "I have rights."
"And responsibilities," I countered. "We're going to go on a little bit more. An hour, then I promise, I'll bring you back to the beginning, let you make up your own mind. But you have to see!"
Our eyes meet again, and this time, I knew she's recognized me. "Gabriel?" she gasped in disbelief. "Gabriel Martyn? But you..."
"Disappeared," I answered. "Faded into the shadows."
As I pull away from the curb I look at her. For the first time, in a very long time, I remember the pain and fear I experienced that fateful day. The day I almost joined the dearly departed. The day my world turned upside down. Maybe if that experience can help this one woman, maybe then it was worth the loss. I don't know, but I know I have to try.
"Just give me a chance," I urged. "A chance to change your mind."
I can see the darkness in her eyes, the emptiness, feel it in my core as she nods. I have one hour. One hour to convince her of something I'm not even sure I believe anymore. I head back to the city, back to the shadows. Its not much time, but I know how long an hour can be in the shadows of the city.
As I parked the cab, I thought about our options. 'Give her a reason.' I heard a voice say. 'Give her a reason to go on.' I got out and opened the passenger door for her. She hesitated as I offered her my hand.

I watched as Gabriel reached out his hand and she took it. It was the first wilful act I had seen him make since I'd found him. They had hurt him, hurt him so bad that it blocked out everything from his past, even the will that had held him to the battle, the will that had saved his brother's life, perhaps even his soul. The will that had made him strong. It was faint now, but it still flickered against the darkness of the shadows that threatened to consume him..

'It was a start,' I sighed.

'I can't tell you what to do," I told her. "You have to make that decision, but let me introduce you to some people I know."
Its a risk taking her here, I know, but I have to get her to think instead of feel. I'm fighting for her life here, but she's the one who has to decide. Is her life really worth it? Nobody can make that decision for her, but maybe I can give her a reason.
I let my eyes adjust to the light, or lack thereof. Its depressing here, but even when I longed for the emptiness to end, it fed me, clothed me, gave me a chance to stand again. I pulled myself up from this pit, but I never forgot the people who helped me.
They were family. I felt a sudden chill and shuddered as the thought rolled through me. 'Family. Why now? Why did this have to happen now?' I remember the thoughts rushing through me like the wind. Before I knew it, I was on my knees screaming. "Auri!" I had no idea who Auri was, but I knew that he was one of the missing pieces in my life. I saw his face as it twisted in pain, then faded. I gasped, the pain and emptiness closed in on me again, blocking the vision I'd seen. Now at least I had a name to work with.
Claudia was kneeling next to me when I returned to my senses, but she could see the pain, the pain I had lived with for seven years. Seven years of not knowing, seven years of emptiness, of barely hanging on.
She looked at me and nodded. "Do you want to talk about it?" she asked me gently.
"Not much to tell," I stated as I tried to get back up and failed. "I don't even know how I ended up here."
"We found him," a voice whispered from the shadows, then he moved into the light. Even in the shadows, it was hard not to recognize the man. His lean frame, his long legs, the misshapen hands that marked him as different. It was Shambler. "Gabriel?" he called.
I looked at him as he watched my face. "This is 'Shambler," I told Claudia. "He watches over the people who live here. He can tell you more of how I got here, I really don't know..."

He moved closer, but I could see he was still watching me, waiting for my permission to continue. When I nodded he sat down next to us. I could feel the others nearby, staying just out of sight, staying within the protection of the shadows, waiting and listening.

"There was a fight in the city," Shambler stated evenly as he adjusted his legs and took up a more comfortable position. "The sirens roared and fires burned. They ignored us, as they always do, but then they came here. Not to fight us, but to rid themselves of their baggage, Gabriel. We overheard his name as the dumped him by the river then left."
Shambler pointed towards the blackness at the end of the city. "They were laughing as the rain started. It was as if heaven itself was mourning his loss."
I closed my eyes as he told her. I was all but dead and had nothing to offer but still they took me in, healed me. I was nobody, but they named me, made me a part of their lives. Even in this place of hopelessness I'd found hope. They nurtured it here, even as they nurtured each other. I prayed that she would see. There is always hope, as long as you keep breathing, there is hope.
Shambler had fallen silent as I returned to the present. She was watching us now. Trying to make up her mind. "He was everything to me," she whispered. "And they killed him..."
I knew the story all too well. Claudia had been the golden girl with money to spare, Mikhail, the artist with a soul that filled his work. They were happy together, and he brought his magic into her life. But her family was greedy and saw him as a threat. The boss says they were trying to scare him away, and things got out of hand, either way, it was such a waste. Intentionally or not, they had destroyed two lives that night. It had just taken Claudia more time to realize it.
"If you have no reason to live, only then are you truly dead," Shambler told her their creed. "But as long as you can find one reason, one cause to fight for, then you will live forever."
She watched as the others drew closer, encouraging her. The children of the shadows were bathing her in their own special light. The light of unyielding hope. I prayed it was enough. I knew I was asking a lot. They had saved me once, now I hoped they could do the same for Claudia.
"Hope never dies," Shambler whispered. "She only sleeps, waiting for the right time to awaken in all of us."
Claudia smiled at him then, and I knew she'd be alright. I could feel it in my heart and suddenly I saw a glimpse of my past, then it was gone. "Auri", I thought as I tried to piece things together, but now was not the time.
When she was ready, I led Claudia back to the cab and opened the door. She stood there for a moment, then shook her head. "I'm not going back," she told me as her eyes locked with mine. "I'm going forward. Thank you."
I watched as she started to walk away, then turned back to me.
"We are all agents of fate, if we allow ourselves to be. Who are you, why are you here?" She asked me the questions, then turned and walked away, not waiting for an answer. I realized, the answer to those questions, have always been mine. I see that now.
I watched her walk back to the others and smiled. It had been a long night, but I still had fares to make. As I drove back into the city I thought about the night and looked up at the moon as she cast her glow upon the city, I felt as if I could fly. Then the clouds closed in and I was mortal again.
As I slipped around the corner a man flagged me down and I stopped. "Where to?" I asked. So the night passed away.
I stopped by the newsstand and picked up the morning paper. The headlines read "Heiress Claudia Vanderholt FOUND ALIVE!" I nodded to the man as he ran my cred-stick through the machine.
"They say it was a miracle," he told me as I rolled the paper up and headed back to the cab.
"I don't believe in miracles," I told him as I closed the door behind me. The man was right, I knew he would be. But sometimes, I still wonder... 'what am I doing here?'
I pulled the cab into the garage and locked up. As I turned in my receipts for the day, I looked at the boss and smiled. It had been a long night, and the sun was creeping up the skyline. "This was my last run," I tell him. "I've had enough."
He looked at me and shook his head. "You're the best," he told me. "Its in your blood, and blood doesn't lie."
"Believe me, it lies like a big dog," I told him. "And I'm just too tired to fight it anymore. Mail my check to me, I won't be coming back."
With that I slipped out the side door and headed down the alleyway where my car was parked. As I slipped into the back seat of the limousine, I looked at my driver and nodded.
"Just drive," I said. "Take me away from here, I don't care where, just drive."

I look in the rear-view mirror as he settles in and I pull away from the curb. Auri is waiting for you Gabriel, they all are. Someday, you will ask me to take you home, then, only then will my job be finished, and yours truly begun. Till then, I will wait, and watch, and guide...

Copyright 1998 - M.T. Decker
Return to Shadowrun Page