Watching Sean and Roy spar can be satisfying — or disturbing. It depends on what Roy is during the bout.
When Roy is… Roy, Connor can see traces of Tenacity’s combat training in him. He’s quick and uses dirty tricks, anything to bring his opponent down as quickly as possible; he leads with his right, despite being left-handed, keeping the left — gloved — for technomancy; his right hand holds whatever weapon he’s chosen for the day.
Sean dances with his staff, discharges in various ways: a wave, an arc, a ball of lightning — and clearly, to mutual satisfaction: Sean can use as much charge as he wants and not worry about causing Roy serious harm, and Roy in turn can use the full range of his tricks. Roy is a survivor, he shrugs off injuries like nothing and dispels charge well.
Connor wonders whether Roy’s being Sean’s brother makes the renegade his and Ian’s son.
Like that, they dance around each other tirelessly, equal in ferocity, sometimes exchanging taunts, sometimes wordlessly. Balanced, aware of each other.
Connor, for the first time in years, sees Sean complete and at peace in his own body and mind, at peace with the world and himself. They love each other, mirror-images: a rogue and a renegade.
“Twin-Kings”, the Aurorans call them.
Connor wonders whether Sean realizes he’s navigating his relationship with Zach and Andrew the way Roy navigates his trine.
They have found an understanding in each other, and Connor is glad for that.
But that is Roy.
The Conduit is different.
The Conduit brings that strange staff, ceramic but somehow carrying charge. The Conduit fights in a way Connor hasn’t seen even among the Aurorans (those who prefer staves to short sticks).
The Conduit makes lunges and slashes with the glowing white staff that slices the air and sounds.
The Conduit is fast — very fast, a human body physically cannot be so fast.
It doesn’t matter whether the Conduit is fully geared — blue robes, golden claws and the mask; doesn’t matter whether the Conduit even wields the white staff. Roy is the Conduit, but the Conduit is…
The Conduit is.
The Aurorans think there is something to it, a certain thing that all Conduits have had that makes them all into one. There is a string of people over the ages who were Conduits — but there is only one Conduit, too.
A deity, not only in the way people see them, but in the way they are. Different beyond the difference between technomancers and non-technomancers, between humans and mutants.
Sean and Roy are brothers, but Sean and the Conduit are…
The Conduit walks, and the ground trembles, unable to bear them.
Sean topples to the ground, staff rolling away, and the golden sole presses to his chest and the tip of the white staff — sharp, Connor suddenly realizes — pricks under his chin.
Connor clenches his fists. He wouldn’t be able to fight against them, but hopes he’d be able to draw their attention away from Sean enough to…
Sean says something quiet and short, looking up at the Conduit in awe (fear and admiration mixed). Though unmasked, the Conduit’s mismatched eyes are as though the mask’s, distant and serene in a way that speaks neither of peace nor of indifference.
“Roy,” Sean says louder. “Brother.”
The Conduit blinks — and it’s Roy again. He moves the staff away from Sean. Sean reaches out a hand, but Roy looks at it as though he doesn’t understand. Then finally pulls Sean up.
He doesn’t say a word, only turns away and leaves, shoulders hunched.
“Sometimes I want to break that staff,” Sean says, running a hand through his hair. Connor notices it’s sweat-slicked, notices that Sean’s breathing is heavy — that Sean is pale.
For a moment there, the Conduit scared Sean. They scare Connor, too.
The Conduit is.