Introductory post for one Wren Shaltis, another RP character. I forgot I titled this one. Suffice to say Mr. Shaltis has a complicated history.

A Small Light

"Good morning, East Coast! You're looking even more chipper than normal on this bright Sunday morning, and let me tell you, the fishing out here is fantastic! Don't believe me? Just come on and drop a line in -- even if you bait it with a stick, they'll swarm you! But down to business, radio fans. There's some trouble a-brewin' on this fair coastline, and I don't mean the type you want tickets to see. That's right, folks, the Resistance Radio Network is gonna be movin' on again, back to the rolling hills of the Great Plains. It'll be a hefty walk, I know, but I've felt this yearning for the home fields ... but more on that later. For now, we've got two beautiful hours of Oldies comin' at ya -- and I do mean old. I found these cartridges down in New Orleans -- don't know how that happened! But these are a real piece of history, so sit back and enjoy."

He flicked the transmitter over to the tape deck and punched play on the cartridge, glancing out of the small cave at the steady drizzle that plashed noisily down onto the beach and into the mud-blue waters of the ocean. Sadly, he reflected, it wouldn't do a whole lot to slow his pursuers unless the lightning got much worse. It was a damn shame they didn't use dogs to track people anymore.

It was also, however, time to hit the road. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds drummed its way lazily across the wires as he gathered his meager possessions together, packing them into what little space was left in his backpack after the transmitter and its essentials were in place. Investing in waterproofing had been a good idea after all. Once packed, he slung his backpack over his shoulders and slipped out of the cave, his stomach growling once or twice to remind him that he hadn't eaten yet.

He patted it absently, peering through the sheets of rain for any sign of pursuit. "I know. We'll get you something later."

It had crossed his mind once or twice that he was a being paranoid.. the pursuits had dropped off quite a bit, and his most recent encounter with the Maverick forces hadn't seemed like an attempt at capture. But the fact remained he'd been seen, and some of them were still alive.

"Pity, really," he murmured. "I do like the scenery around here.." And without further comment, he struck out toward the west.

Two hours saw the rain end and the cartridge wind down with no sign of Mavericks, so, with a certain lazy cheer, he tugged out his headset and clipped it on, going live just as Bridge over Troubled Water wound down, the last track on the disk. "Hello again, folks, hope you enj--" He broke off abruptly, killing the transmission with a flick of his finger as he caught movement on the road ahead.

Humming very softly to himself, he squinted ahead into the fog and stood stock still. "Humans," he breathed, just before a wary shout rang out in the fog.

"Who's there?! You'd better not move, or we'll shoot."

Wren blinked, grinning a little crookedly and raising both his hands into the air. "I wouldn't dream of firing on members of my own species."

This made them pause, then three men stepped out of the fog, two of them with plasma rifles. The lead man, who appeared to be in his mid-thirties, paused on seeing Wren clearly. "Who.. are you? Did you escape from the camp, too?"

Wren shook his head, arms still in the air. "I'm afraid the camp I escaped from was destroyed fourteen years ago, gentlemen."

He relaxed, but only slightly, waving an arm to indicate that Wren could lower his. "And you've survived this long?"

The cyborg shrugged comfortably. "In my own way. It'll be a little harder for you."

"I know," the lead man said, looking suddenly as if the weight of a hundred years had settled on his shoulders. "We're.. headed for a settlement in the mountains."

He eyed Wren questioningly, and the black-haired man shook his head. "I don't know a settlement there. I didn't go past the mountains on this trip."

The other looked somewhat crestfallen and was about to speak again, when another figure came out of the fog and tapped his elbow, looking concerned. "Jim, who is it?"

"Mariah --" He turned to her, then looked back abruptly when Wren took a few steps forward.

"I don't want to slow you down," he said. "The Mavericks are actively chasing me, and just by being here, I'm bringing you honest trouble."

The woman, Mariah, gave him a frightened look. "Jim --"

"It's all right, really.. I was just asking if he knew where it was."

"Well, he doesn't, so we should go, right?"

Wren, about to agree, fell silent when a younger voice broke through the crowd again. "Daddy! Mommy! The music stopped and it hasn't come back --" A little girl burst into the open, catching Mariah by her ragged skirt and tugging at it with her left hand, as the right held a small, half-broken device. "Why did it stop?"

The woman gave a ragged sigh and scooped her daughter into her arms. "Rebecca, honey, this isn't the time --"

Adjusting his glasses, Wren cleared his throat, a sort of puzzlement in his tone as he spoke. "Music, ma'am?"

The little girl turned to look at him, then, suddenly shy, she buried her face in her mother's shoulder. "We.. have an old radio," the woman explained, eyeing him warily. "It doesn't get many frequencies, but we found one.. with actual music playing."

He had the strange sensation of his heart -- replaced as it was with an artificial one -- jumping into his throat. "This music.. it was.."

"Old stuff," the man, Jim, said slowly, "hundreds of years before our time."

Wren tapped the headset again, then spoke. "This frequency, was it?" The device in the girl's hand crackled and echoed his words, startling her so that she nearly dropped it. She released her mother's skirt with a shout and pointed at him. "You're the man in the radio!"

"I suppose I am," he grinned at her, tapping himself offline again. "You were listening to it? You listened to my radio station?"

She nodded shyly as her mother and father exchanged a glance over her head. "We aren't allowed to, so I turned it on at night really quiet while I was in bed.. are you going to play more music?"

"Yes.. yes, I will," he murmured, crouching down in front of her. "Would you like to talk into it?"

Her eyes widened for a moment. "I can? You'll let me?"

"Of course! It's easy. Here." He took the radio from her and handed it up to her mother, who took it from him with a faintly stunned expression on her face, then tapped the headset online again. "Hello again, Resistance Radio listeners, my apologies for that rather abrupt disappearance. To make up for it, we have a special guest on the show today.."

With exaggerated care, he removed the headset and settled it over the girl's head, fitting it comfortably. "Go ahead," he grinned encouragingly. "Say something."

She paused, brushing a lock of her brown hair out of one eye. "Um.. .. .. but I don't know what to say ..."

"Well, you could start by telling them your name."

"Oh, okay.. um, hi.. my name's Rebecca.." She paused again. "Was that good?"

He nodded. "If you like, you can tell them where you're from and what you like to do."

She considered this for a moment, then nodded and began talk again, words tripping over themselves, as if he'd released the floodgates of her mind. Wren glanced up at her parents, both of whom were watching the radio out of which their daughter's voice was echoing, crackly in places, but for the most part quite clear. He remembered someone telling him once that if even one person was listening, it made the entire business worth the effort.

Whoever it was, he'd proven himself right. And he wasn't even hungry anymore.