The sun was high overhead as Neith Meryt stood staring over the city. The large structure she stood upon was the central point of worship of the new world religion. She herself found she was a follower of it’s teachings far before they reached into her home country. No one knew from where it sprouted but many people have flocked to its all encompassing banner. Resistance did of course spring forth against it especially amongst Abrahamic religions.
No holy war started. It all ended peacefully in this very complex. A treaty signed by the leaders of each religion stating a remarkable end to the bickering that forsook many of their teachings. A new age of peace sprouted amongst spiritual believers you could often see Muslims conversing with Christians without too much thought about their differences. Neith knew that was largely a facade though.
Old connections keep pulling information about hate crimes. Racist bickering and false pretences. These thoughts vaguely crossed her mind as she stood-garbed in a deep crimson veil and shawl draped over a new age exo-suit designed to accent her womanly figure-watching the highway below. Today was her wedding day and Drexx hasn’t turned up. It’s not like him to abandon anyone.
Something didn’t feel right in her heart as the captain of security Drexx hired on stepped up to the railing beside her. Darlex stopped beside her looking out over the city as well. Drexx wouldn’t have this celebration without hiring a security force for some reason. Kept going on about something happening.
“So where’s the groom to be ma’am?” He looked over towards the large craft hovering over the city centre. He was equipped with a heavy suit of blue and gray. His helmet hid his face from her but she could tell he must be well seasoned.
“I don’t know Darlex. He wouldn’t be late without good reason.” She turned back towards the bustling crowd that has gathered in the chapel. Family from both sides. Mainly her own most of his family has gone missing or was killed during the war. Security lined the perimeter each one with a shiny silver shield locked onto their chest.
“well hopefully he isn’t hurt. I can’t do anything without knowledge of...,” on that note a ding chimed in from his helmet. “Excuse me ma'am I have to take this.” He brought his hand up to answer as he stepped away. Neith looked back towards the highway to see many different coloured cars and drones pass by.
A small commotion could be heard from the foot of the building below her as several of Darlex's forces ran off into the hallways. Several airships whizzed by too fast to make out who they belonged to. The Large craft making its way to the centre of the city began releasing smaller craft. He immediately returned to her.
“Ma'am please follow me we need to pull everyone into the atrium. Risers are on their way up and I’ll be damned if they ruin this wedding. I’ve contacted the priesthood and they’ve pledged their support to us.” He grabbed her hand and led her through a small doorway leading into a large atrium lined with pillars of many different gods ranging from ancient Anubis all the way to representations of God. The rest of the celebration started making their way in. It didn’t seem they knew of the threat they were about to face.
The officers that had lined the entrances outside closed the twenty foot tall double doors and stood casually near them. Seemed that they were doing their best to avoid a panic. Why the Risers would attack here is beyond her. There was no reason and they risk international attention because of the religious centre being their target. Darlex rushed Neith towards the opposite end of the atrium. Directly underneath an odd sculpture of a man dressed in a lab coat with short cropped hair and digital patterns etched all across the body. Around him hovered holographic words and phrases, in every language known, meaning knowledge or wisdom or truth.
“Keter watch over you ma'am,” an odd fellow stepped from the shadows startling them both “may his truth lead you home.” He was garbed in a red robe with swirling fire designs licking the bottom. His black hair hung around his shoulders where a cape was draped from his left shoulder. The cape had the priesthoods symbol embroidered in bright silver with several designs embellished around it
“thank you priest” a touch of distaste in Darlex's voice. “Were all going to need it tonight. Are you ready to help defend these people?”
“Defend? This is holy ground, no man would dare step foot in here with intent to harm!” the priest seemed serious and wholehearted though he didn’t seem to have received word of the threat. “we have shown before not to attempt such an act. But if the need arises we will defend any following the truth.”
At that moment, almost as if they were waiting for a signal, the risers blasted through the doorway causing widespread panic among the people in the room. Thick black smoke filled the room before automatic ventilation activated. As the smoke cleared Neith saw all the security safe behind a line of shields. Large kite shields that they crouched behind with a bladed stand right at the tip of the bottom. They fired at who knew how many Risers outside the doorway.
Darlex immediately ran up into the fray pulling a large shotgun off his back and barrelling into the dark smoke on the other side. Two other security personnel started ushering the civilians into a safer spot away from most of the stray fire whizzing around the room. Neith followed the order as well. She was in no condition to fight wearing only a thin wedding exo-suit that would offer little protection.
Her mother quickly grabbed hold of her and hugged her. “thank the gods your safe my flower.” A thick African accent rolled from her tongue. Their native language was Swahili as they were from Uganda farther south in Egypt.
“Yes mother I am thanks to the captain and his men. We all owe them our thanks.” Her parents both disagreed with having security at this ceremony but Drexx convinced them of the need.
Situational awareness pinged on as he pushed up over his defense line. Easily a hundred red outlines appeared in the chapel outside the thick smoke. He explode through the fire ripping through into the atrium several marring the surface of his armour. He landed on one Riser and pushed him to the ground blasting a round into his skull before dodging a second Risers attempt at hitting hit him with the butt of his gun. A second blast ripped through the mans stomach before he rushed towards a third.
He tackled this one, a woman, to the ground and broke her neck without second thought before blasting another’s knee off and looking towards the door to the courtyard. More Risers continued to pour through the doorway as Darlex began to push through the frontline to reach outside. As he did so several more of his squads pushed inward from several side passages. The Risers were stuck in a deadly unending and impenetrable crossfire.
It wasn't long before Darlex reached the doorway to the courtyard. As he pushed against it to swing it further open the tumultuous sounds of battle exploded inwards. It was as if he was back in the war battling for his life in the US military against adversaries from around the world. Explosions ripped downwards from the sky from a Riser fleet dogfighting with UC forces in the air. Full blown war erupted as three parties participated on the ground. Shield Corp fought hard from all fronts against the Risers that landed dropship after dropship unloading troops. Risers pushed hard against the defensive with unheard of strength.
The third party erupted from within the Sepulchres interior. Priests of various nationalities and wearing various colours pushed forward into the fray. Darlex stood transfixed in the past and present marvelling at the ferocity of the priesthood. Here a man in red spewed fire from his hands, another woman there in golden gilded purple robes glowing as she hummed and chanted with several tendrils of power reaching out to other priests. The ones touched by the woman’s meditation exploded in prowess such as a man in white raising the ground from underneath Risers and squishing them against walls.
A man garbed in deep perpetual black ran through the Riser force with impossible speed and strength punishing the Risers with great force. It seemed as if he knew the enemies movement before they even did. Darlex snapped out of his entranced mind as a woman wearing a simple orange outfit and a face veil touched his shoulder. He felt a great surge of courage and inspiration rush through him. He looked to her confused before raising his gun and rushing into the fray leading his force against their adversaries.
The fight between the two groups lasted a long while with casualties on both sides and the defensive line dwindling. Darlex rushed back, his armour plating broken and shattered, talking with someone on his communicator as he moved toward Neith. As he turned to speak to his men from seemingly nowhere a huge man barrels through the defensive line creating an opening for the Risers. They barrel through with staggering numbers and charge straight for the crowd of people.
The priest stepped out in between them and raised his hands. Immediately the Risers stop in their tracks and stare at him, the big man stepped forward rising up a full three feet taller than the rest in the room. He was hulking mass of muscle and stood with his muscles in a permanent flex. He was bald and layered in combat armour.
“Where the hell did they find a gibborim?” the captain reached for his hip and gripped a pistol but before he could even draw a strange spectacle began before their eyes. The priest started humming and chanting in a strange tongue as he held his hands up towards the enemy line. The pores on his hands began bleeding and with each word chanted more began forming on his outstretched palms.
As the droplets fell to the floor they began rushing towards the Risers. Only Neith had noticed this as all the others were too occupied with their impending doom or the two strange humans standing before them. The blood drops stopped short of the Risers before coagulating and forming a thin red line along the floor from wall to wall.
The priest fell to one knee as he continued chanting yet to Neiths ears it seemed more calm. He lowered his hands to touch the ground and look down. Tears of blood ran down his cheeks and began falling as well. The instant these tears hit the ground a boom resounded through the chapel and shook the walls. The ‘gibborim’ ,as Darlex had called him, sprang forward and led a renewed assault on the people. As bullets rang forth and boots hit the floor a great beam of light shot up from the bloodline set before the attackers.
Each Riser that strode through that beam was vaporized and each bullet turned back upon its master. The room quickly became a bloodbath of bodies and piles of ash. The only adversary left standing was the tall figure now holding Darlex in a chokehold with one hand up against a pillar opposite the group of survivors. Darlex struggled with his hands around the mans wrist.
The Gibborim's hand began clenching and Darlex quickly started losing the ability to breath. Neith watched from across the room helpless as the captain began getting the life forced out of him. The gibborim stopped and stared over towards the door before tossing Darlex’s seemingly lifeless body to the ground with a heavy thud. After that he trudged out of the room and disappeared into the chaos outside. No more Risers entered the atrium instead an atmosphere of silence crept over the crowd. The priest stood after he was over with the pain he was under and darted out of the room.
Neith stared in amazement that the deadly confrontation had ended with that. Simply a walkout. Something was wrong. As she stood thinking of the dreadful few moments they all just witnessed. Several security forces charged in guns ready. Reinforcements called by Darlex. Two came up to Neith where she stood next to her trembling parents. They were shield operatives but of a slightly different caliber.
“are you alright ma'am?” the first to reach her questioned before the rest began ushering others out. “we need to get you to safety before they show back up”
“but why did he just...?” before she could finish the question a sleek see through silhouette fell from the ceiling in between the two men. They didn’t notice until it was too late and both their necks were broken and they lay on the ground in broken heaps. Neith quickly found herself swept off her feet and falling from the rooms stained glass window to the littered streets far below. She couldn’t help but to scream even though she knew it would do her no good. She covered her eyes before the ground came too close.
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Drexx barrelled through the littered bodies on the floor of the chapel. Risers and his security lay dead or dying all over. A huge battle scarred the inside of the large room. Priests in blue robes leaned over surviving members of both sides tending to their wounds. He wanted to smash a few visors in on their owners eyes. But he knew better than to anger these priests. They were followers of the one.
A haughty bunch that took no insolence or hatred within their hallowed halls. They all had otherworldly powers blessed to them by their almighty. A being of truth and all encompassing glory, so he has been told. The doors to the Atrium where the final vows were to be said lie on the floor completely blown off their hinges. The Risers came in full force to get in there. A large footprint was pressed into the ground and the walls were scorched by gunfire.
He entered the room to find it nearly empty save for the captain lying on his back off to one side with several guards left standing around him. At the far end, near the altar, stood a couple more with their shields shining bright against the lights flooding in from the life of the city. The light flooded in through a huge broken stained glass window. Drexx saw it once before when they were here at a recital. It depicted a woman standing holding her arms upwards toward a great shining dial casting a shadow directly down her naked back to where a great energy flowed up her legs. One of a new age of “gods” that the followers have come to believe in.
Her name was Zeranni and she kept watch over time. They chose this room so she could watch over their marriage for all time. The shattered glass lay scattered about the area in front of the hole several more bodies lay strewn in the area. Neith was nowhere to be seen.
His heart sank as he searched the broken bodies and battle scarred room for any signs of her. His eyes fell upon the captain he hired for security. He was from a company called Shield. A subsidiary of Caution corporation the head of the U.C. He walked over to the man lying on his back with his head lulled to the side. Anger flooded through him but he held it back. It would do no good to show it now. A priest kneeled over him with a bright light emitting from her hands. She wore a modest blue robe
“can he talk?” he asked her as he came up. She was a young Indian woman wearing A face veil with her priestly garb. “I have questions for him.”
She looked up at him with deep brown pained eyes. She moved her hands away from his neck to reveal a swollen artery and thick red finger marks. “I don’t think so kind sir,” she stands and bows to him “you must be the would be groom. I’m deeply sorry for your loss. The priesthood did everything we could to hold back the onslaught. We were spread too thin I’m only glad that one of our number was here.” She looked around at the bodies and Drexx saw a tear rush down her face.
“Its fine ill get my answers,” He patted her on the back before turning to the door. The anger turned to remorse. The priest was clearly broken to see so many dead and injured “If he recovers can you send him my information? To start who was the priest in here at the time?” He needed to know as much as possible to get to the root of this sudden onslaught.
She seemed glad that Drexx wasn’t angered by the failure of the priests. “That would be Krish sir. He is in recovery at the moment. He used a new skill to defend your people. I’ve never heard of anything like it.” She knelt back down beside Darlex and put her hands back around his neck. The pain in the mams unconciouss eyes vanished as his body relaxed under her delicate touch. Drexx turned to leave the atrium when Neiths mother ran into him. Oh great here we go.
The instant she saw him. “Drexx! I told you not to hire any damn security,” when she reached him a hard smack slammed into his face. Little does she know he is the reason the Risers attacked. They learned who he was somehow. The imprint in his armour should have blocked intel on him but somehow they bypassed it. At least that’s the logical thought. “and here the Risers come to kill my baby girl!” She turned and leaned into her husbands arms tears streaming down her face.
It hurt Drexx not only because he lost the only woman he’s ever loved but because her mother hated his guts now for sure. He was trying so hard to win her favour. For years all he could do was bring in as much money as possible and bring them out of the slum they were living in. Her mother was convinced he dealt in illicit activities. “ It isn’t your fault Drexx,” Neith’s father spoke. The first time in years since Drexx offered his hand in marriage so long ago. “this was going to happen anyway. I...,” he stopped momentarily. “Somehow knew it would end this way.” The usually noble and chiselled complexion distorted in a pang of sadness.
“I have a feeling it is...I have to go. There’s some people I have to speak to...they’re not getting away with this.” He looked to Neiths mother with guilt washing over him before he stepped away. Her sobs filled his mind as he stepped back into the destroyed chapel. Her father consoling her Drexx couldn’t bring himself to turn and say anything else. It would fill his mind more hate and anger. And it would serve to only make the situation worse.
He looked around more thoroughly this time and saw the full extent of the damage. Pillars lay shattered and broken. The large amount of chairs and tables set up for the festivities were strewn about the entire room. Several bodies still lay in pools of blood. The banquet that had been laid out and barely touched was completely destroyed and littered across the ground near the long dining table. Windows’ glass lay shattered about the ground.
All the time and careful planning they put into this event completely obliterated. He almost couldn't believe it. This just cant be happening. Thoughts of Neith shot across his mind. Her beautiful mid African complexion and composure. Her soft tender voice. Her short cropped hair and her gorgeous almost black red eyes. He remembered meeting her that day far back. He was on a job mapping out the Ugandan countryside when he found a town that wasn’t supposed to be out there. It lay separated from all the woes of modern day corruption. He entered the town alone, without his team to avoid an altercation. There she sat in the centre of town pulling water from a well. He came up and she addressed him. He remembered her face shining in the bright sunlight and the wind brushing her slightly longer hair aside.
The first thing she did was hold out her bucket of murky and dirty water as if saying, “have a drink traveller.” Despite his better judgement he took some cupped in his hand and drank some tasting the earth on his lips. Even though it wasn’t purified it did feel refreshing. She had smiled at his gesture of trust and asked what he was doing in their small dying town. He was shocked to learn she spoke English. They spoke for a time and he was forced to leave due to time. The following months had filled his mind with her. Even now standing at the broken gateway to the chapel everything he thought about was her. There’s no way she had been snatched away so easily and suddenly after everything he had done for her people.
Drexx found himself just outside the chapel in a large courtyard filled with greenery from around the world, mostly African foliage could be found though. Many statues of saints and religious figures from around the globe stood in different shaped platforms floating raised off the ground. A large Riser ship lay smoking on the far side and priests ran to and fro. It seemed more damage was done than to the chapel and Drexx’s life. Bodies littered the courtyard and defiled the sanctity of the Sepulcher. He walked through the mangled masses and looked at the bodies around him. Men and women both lay dead at his feet and he couldn’t help but wonder why this had to happen. From all the history he remembered learning about the last few decades one would think this wouldn’t be happening anymore. Even priests, speakers of a new holy truth, lay amongst the dead.
He sat down on a bench near a woman that was in the crowd in the chapel. She seemed hysterical and distraught. Her head was lulled in her hands and she rocked back and forth. A man stood in front of her attempting to console her. A large deeply dark skinned man with a deep scar on his arm, he seemed to know who Drexx was he shot him a look of anger. There was a bandage wrapped around her own arm. This was all his fault. Why didn’t I just leave the Risers to their business. He leaned forward and covered his face with his hands trying to forget the sacred building having been so desecrated. Thoughts of guilt fluttered about in his mind. He couldn’t ever conceive he would have brought such pain to those around him. Something in the back of his mind told him it couldn’t be his fault.
He felt the couple leave after hearing a taxi land in the courtyard. Soon after that he felt a different body sit down next to him. A lighter body, must have been Tutor. Drexx looked up at the boy. He was extremely curious but Drexx could see the sadness in the boys eyes too. “How you holdin' up Tutor?” Asking himself the question more so than the boy. He didn't know how to answer it.
The boy stopped looking around at the scenery of the great structure they sat in and looked to Drexx “I’ve never been in a church before. Especially not one so,” he seemed to not know the answer either. He looked over towards the blasted doors to Zeranni's chapel. “huge.” He finished with a chuckle. His eyes were aglow with amazement and wonder. Drexx almost couldn’t see the sadness hiding behind it in the boys eyes. Even though it was in ruins the Sepulcher was astounding. A true modern marvel.
“I never had been either till real late in life.” Drexx stood up with his shoulders sunken. The thought that the first time he heard Keter was in a small church that was burnt to the ground by anti-unifiers. His parents always thought that it was some imaginary friend. “lets go look for someone. He was here during the attack and might be able to tell me something.” He tried to forget about what happened and to just focus on the task at hand.
“perfect maybe we can get these bastards.” The boy perked up a bit and stood next to Drexx. He gave off an air of enthusiasm over the prospect of revenge. He was looking over toward the broken down Riser dropship for a moment before looking away. “hey da-Drexx. Lets go over to that thing real quick. I bet it still has navigation data.” Letting the slip go he looked over to the ship. The boy knew a lot for his age. Especially about tech.
“How do you know so much,” Drexx questioned him. If they were to work together he needed to know more about his past. “you grew up outside the city right?” For someone to have lived his entire life outside of the United Corporations and learn so much about higher society was an amazing feat.
Tutor looked off. He didn’t seem ready to think about his past yet. “yeah I grew up in a small town outside of Qattara. Nearer Rhakotis.” When the new age of Pharaohs began Menes, the first and current Pharaoh renamed Alexandria after what the Egyptians called it in ancient times. Him and many other people of the world learned to see the city as a sign of corruption and darkening our past. The great library was moved here to the new capitol before it was even finished being built. The first major construction project.
“we did a lot of chasing back then,” so they were chasers huh? No wonder the Risers were after them. The data on that drive must be worth quite a bit if both his parents died over it. “until mama died. Then it was all about revenge.” Chasers were a group of agile smart individuals that ran errands for the populace. It was a sort of underground network for package delivery and data thievery. They mainly worked for large companies and the coalition. The Risers were often a target.
“so then you think something useful is in its nav computer eh?” It makes sense that he would have the thought. Giving no time to his problems except to get revenge can make you think of amazing things.
“at least the location of where they were sent from.” Given the amount of Riser presence in Sphinx narrowing the search would be immensely helpful.
“Lets give it a shot then.” At that the two started toward the dropship. Before they reached the ship several shield corp. soldiers appeared from around it on a patrol. “hmm if there was anything those guys probably have it already. Keter?”
“yes Drexx?” the voice chimed in right on cue.
“Do you know anything about the attack on the sepulchre?” Drexx watched the group of guards. Only four patrolling the area.
“It would seem the Risers were after information on Soto Industries.” A quick thought crossed his mind. Could they have come either way? Even if they did he still should’ve been here to defend his wife.
“Neith worked for Soto. But she was only an accountant...” He lost himself in thought thinking of strange things Neith had been doing the last few months. Leaving early and returning late. Always tired at home but almost never sleeping. She always accounted it for the others in the Soto embassy disappearing or quitting. Could she have been working on something more?
“That is quite likely Drexx. I am not allowed to delve any deeper for you at this time. I am sorry Drexx but you must find this on your own.” With that Keter pinged out.
“well that’s interesting. Lets see have any ideas Tutor?” As he looked down to the boy he came to find the boy gone without a trace. “What?” How could have the boy simply disappeared without him noticing?
He looked around wondering where he could be and espied a shape moving inside the cockpit of the dropship. The group of shield security was nearing the other end of the ship before stopping and turning around weapons raised. Shit. Drexx rushed over to them and struck up a conversation about the attack. It lasted just long enough with each officer turning away and describing what they could, nothing new of course, that Tutor slipped out of the ship opposite them. One did say that a priest in red ran into the meditation and living quarters with a full score of priests of every colour. Something seemed very wrong and not a one h as exited the hall. Shield has given orders to let the priests be so no-one has investigated yet.
Drexx looked over at just the right moment to see Tutor hide behind a pillar not too far off. With a firm “thanks for the information,” he stepped away from the group and headed casually over to the bench Tutor now sat in. That man in red had to have been Krish. Leading a full force of priests? What could have happened?
Upon reaching him Tutor tossed another drive his way. Drexx caught it and looked down. A faint red light shone on its surface. As if replying to his curiosity Tutor said the data was encrypted. “there’s nothing I can do with it.” He was good at getting data but there was always a third party involved if there was encryption to crack.
“I know a guy. I say we head there after I find this Krish fella. He was among the last to speak with Neith and I have questions.” Krish was his best lead and he has dallied long enough. Sorrow has begun to turn to anger and Drexx knew to use it as fuel for his flame.
“I can head there now give me the location and ill update you with info.” The boy stood up shoulders raised and ready to run. He bounced slightly as he looked up at Drexx
“no. Lets stick together for the moment and see what comes up for us. But if you are itching to run I know of a great place to. It was actually built by the U.C to compromise with runners. And they’re constantly updating it with new requested features.”
“Really? Solely for running? I didn’t think any of those damn corporations cared for vagrants like that.” Tutor looked over at the group of shield operatives. The thought pushed itself in that all the companies that ran the world had been corrupt. But seeing how hard Shield fought for his wife that couldn’t be the truth. “Ill head there then. Where is it?” Tutor scanned the structure around them as he stretched his arms.
At that Keter chimed in again. “Ptah’s park is not far from here Tutor. The address has been uploaded to your link.” He chimed back off soon after that. The enigmatic figure seemed to always be listening. And always knew what to say in situations like this. It always had the answers.
“Its best to introduce yourself to the owners they have a home right out front of it I believe they're part of Phantom corp. A sister company to Shield kinda. Have a good time and blow off some steam,” Drexx got down on one knee and looked Tutor in the eye. A familiar glow now shone in his iris's. They've both lost someone dear now to the same people. Drexx wasn’t going to let that bond go. Tutor was all he had left and vice versa. They’re in it together now. The two locked eyes and nodded at each other. Tutor wrapped his arms around Drexx and hugged him tightly. Drexx returned the favour and couldn’t help but think he promised to keep him safe even though the words never escaped him.
With that the two split up and went their separate ways. Drexx watched as Tutor ran off. He thdn followed the walkway towards a doorway opposite that of the chapel. The door itself was decorated with numerous good luck charms or prayers. Along the border of the door hung numerous idols of several deities and gods. Inside was the hallway that led to private quarters and meditation chambers of the priests. He hopes to find this Krish inside recovering.
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