The wind rushed past Tutors hair as he jumped from a precarious edge towards an impossible ledge. He tested the limits of this so called blessing from Keter. He has been able to do incredible new acrobatics. His legs felt far stronger and his arms lasted longer holding him up. This was amazing, invigorating and limitless it seemed. His foot hit the edge firmly and pushed him upwards again towards a maintenance shelf. He made the bound quickly and wrapped his hands around the edge of the shelf. He pulled himself up and looked down.
The streets began to darken and lights started flashing by at an awesome pace. The setting of the sun warranted a much higher traffic as the populace, free of basic employment since before the war, began to head out into town or the countryside to enjoy any number of hobbies or pastimes. Any normal teen would stare down at that and nearly faint yet it gave Tutor a surprisingly calm and serene feeling. The now small amount of whirring wheels on pavement and humming of hover vehicles was pushed up by the high winds rushing into vortex’s around buildings. The hot desert air wafting inward for a final push into the heart of the city and the salty taste of the not far off Mediterranean and Nile licking his lips made him stop where he stood. The setting sun crested in between two buildings ahead of him.
The two coiled cobras rising over the highest buildings of the city with the great green beam pulsing from the very centre of the city held the sun in their teeth. For a brief moment it seemed the sunlight split into a slew of colours that Tutor had no name for as it hit the beam. He took the moment to marvel at the city he had only heard so much about back in Rhakotis. It was a vastly different experience compared to standing on ancient Greek architecture. Standing on the latest creation of man kinds genius. Towering skyscrapers shooting up into the sky reaching for the stars and innumerable vehicles darting about in every direction below him.
The sensations seemed more vivid, more alive than before. Its as if he could understand the world better than before. His senses picked up on more and his own awareness had risen since last he ran. Sounds carried with them small vestiges of colour. He couldn’t understand that part. what was the point of such a sense? As the sun slid past the high cliffs that made up the border the Qattara depression he looked over to see a full scaffold ran the side of the building he stood on. He pushed off jumping from a standstill across a small gap to the scaffold.
It creaked Under his weight as he used the momentum to roll down a ramp onto a second layer of the scaffold. He passed many bars and panes of glass where construction workers hurried to finish a few small tasks before the automated, which could be seen on the adjacent balcony inside, came to finish the floor overnight. Tutor stood staring at the bots working faster and harder than any man could. He noticed one of the human crew staring at them too with a small pang of longing in his eyes.
Both were of the same company signified by a small SIE embroidered on their backs and emblazoned on the bots' chests. The man must have been one of the people replaced by that automation, yet he didn’t stare at the bot with resentment. Only longing as if he missed doing its job. Before too long a younger worker tapped the man on his shoulder and the two walked away laughing. They were probably only needed for a small task like cleaning up a broken panel or some such.
As the bots continued their job Tutor turned and ran down the rest of the scaffold jumping toward a pole hanging off the edge of a corner. He swung around with his feet dangling over nothing but passing traffic. He landed next to a large bright billboard with an advertisement for a sleek black car with a dragon like symbol as its hood ornament. Atlast was plastered along the bottom of the board with a saying in quotes, “At least its us. Welcome to enjoyment and say goodbye to employment.” Tutor didn’t spend long on that before making his way further down to the ground below.
As he slid down a pipe into a dark rooftop alley the thought crossed his mind that the last time he ran was with Dad. Back In Rhakotis across much smaller cobble paved roads the running was simpler. It felt much more free and open ended. This was immensely different and more complex. The rooftops themselves were more slick and hard to keep a grip on yet he never slid. The traffic and people were so different. Its as if the city itself hummed with some kind of energy that was different then anywhere else he had been.
He began to notice, as he climbed nearer to this Ptah's park, that other Chasers were nearby. Probably keeping an eye on the outsider. They darted back and forth overhead and to both sides. He quickly began to take a less visible route back down to the streets to enter the park properly. He ducked into a small opening into a rooftop structure and darted through an electrical room and slammed a door open back out into the open air. He slid down a sloped glass ceiling for a good thirty feet and landed in a dark alley with a nimble roll. He dusted himself off and made his way out onto the street. The buildings on either side were lined with innumerable signs for any number of entertainment and luxury locations. Most were arcades or stores for luxury goods not provided by the city.
The streets were abustle here in the very outer circle of the city. Many people lined the streets and walkways here. They went on their own ways paying Tutor no second glances. Tutor stopped to look into a store window to see what a group of teens were gawking at. Seemed to be some sort of newer device like an implant. Tutor had a couple himself but they were outdated and faulty so he had them shut off. He turned towards the park where several younger individuals hung around the entrance eyeing him as he strode out of the dark alleyway. Tutor stopped next to a woman with an easel and canvas sitting across from a store front. She was simply dressed and held her palette delicately in her palm as she measured from a distance some part of the store with her brush.
He watched as she brushed paint across the plain white canvas mimicking, in a surreal style, the store she was transfixed upon. He noticed it was a book store. Odd to see actual books in such an advanced place. Even in Rhakotis the only place to find real pages to turn was the former “great library” which held few books now. The store probably carried more. Tutor spent a small amount of time peering over a stack she had next to her. Several philosophical texts and art books. One stood out among the rest. A thesis right on top with a strong looking black man in a lab coat sitting on a multi-coloured throne. Within his large afro was a picture of the cosmos in the form of an eye. His attention was pulled away from the scene by a sound near the entrance to the park.
An older man stood out from the rest. About 20 or so. He was dressed in only a simple hoodie with a long tip on each side of the hood where a zipper ran up its length and thin breathable pants. His shoes were small bur Tutor could tell they had great grip. He found himself looking to his own bedraggled outfit with its torn American jeans and worn out shoes before returning to the man. The man motioned towards the others who promptly ran off inside and then walked towards Tutor. Tutor strode to meet him pretending not to notice and instead to marvel at the city lights. He noticed many things about the outer city. It was designed much shorter and simpler compared to the taller offices and embassies within the inner circle. They grew closer and suddenly the older man leapt forward yanking at Tutors belt and ripping off his data pouch before sprinting away and over a tall wall near them.
Keter immediately highlighted the mans last seen movements before Tutor bounded over the wall with ease and darted towards the man now standing momentarily stunned by the boy’s skill. He quickly regained his composer and darted up a corner wall onto an AC unit and onto the low roofs of the city. Tutor was quick to follow instead leaping directly up to the AC and pulling himself up quickly before pushing off after the man. They bounded leapt and rolled across several varying buildings. The speed at which Tutor chased the man enthralled him in the moment. The thrill of the chase rushed into him as he kept a steady pace behind the man. The man slid down into a hallway from an open window locking it closed as he did. Tutor was close behind but didn't miss a step.
The faint highlight immediately changed course to send Tutor over the building by springing off of a small metal crate and onto a higher ledge running just outside the halls windows. He could see the man sprinting inside a crowd of people hindering his progress. He pushed and shoved past several men and women trying to make good time through the hall. A gutter pipe hung on the corner that Tutor was coming up on. He used it to swing around and land onto the ground at the other end of the hall. As he landed Tutor spun and swept his foot in front of the mans path out the door. The man spun around the corner and front-flipped over Tutors attempted trip. The spin-flip landed him facing Tutor as he swung his foot around and tried to trip Tutor.
Tutor swept his foot upwards catching the mans calf against his shin causing the man to lose balance and nearly fall. Instead he rolled backwards landing on his feet again before looking up at Tutor. “how are you able to?” He questioned down to himself before sprinting off down an alley and into an empty room.
“Keter I need to end this. Any suggestions?”
“Yes take this path,” A green highlight showed up “He seems to be heading back to the park.” At that Tutor took off at first following the man through the dark building. It was a small storage shed with a few miscellaneous items inside and a window on the opposite wall. Instead of continuing, the path turned into a back room and ran through an open sky light onto its rooftop. He sprang off a table and pulled himself up into the dim lighting. The path ran forward over a leap onto another building and across a flowing arch standing over a street market below.
He could see the man fumbling with shoppers and merchants below him. The man seemed to have an air of experience about him but he kept fumbling through crowds and running into obstacles. He clearly hadn’t been doing this long enough in dire situations. Either that or something else was going on. Tutor steeled himself against the possibilities and took the time to speed across the arch and onto the opposite side of the street. The buildings here began to slim down and grow sleek as they crept towards the park. The path shot straight up the side of one building that glistened like oil was rubbed along its surface. Unsure on the pathing he looked for another way up the side of the building to no avail. All there was was a simple line running up its length barely thick enough for his fingers to fit in.
Seeing no other alternative Tutor sprinted for the side and leapt up towards the crevice. To his surprise the line grew slightly in thickness and a panel below where he gripped opened and swung up to make a small lift pulling him up onto the roof. After a quick second of marvelling at the useful contraption he looked forward to see Ptah’s park rising slightly in front of him with an open window across a gap over the highway. A thin cord ran from this building to the park with the green highlighting it. “these have been placed all across the city by the chasers. It may seem weak but it will hold your weight Tutor.” Keter chimed in assuring Tutor against his fears.
With that assurance, and no reason to distrust the mysterious voice so far, he raced toward the line and leapt into the air suddenly remembering he had no gloves. A pang of fear gripped him as he thought of the flesh burning off his hands and falling to the stampede of vehicles below. As if reacting to the thought a small drone that was hovering nearby wrapped around the cord and created a handle just at the peak of Tutors climb into the air. His hands grasped the drone for dear life as his momentum pushed himself along the length of the cord speeding toward the open window.
The wind rushed past him as he flew down the line and through the opening in the wall. With a roll he sprang back to his feet and rushed towards the door of the room. The room was a sort of meeting hall with a wide long table and many chairs. He pushed the door open and found himself on a raised walkway that surrounded the lower public portion of the park. He quickly realised why it was so popular for the civilians in Sphinx.
Opposed to a park it was more like hanging gardens. A tall structure rose in the centre of the complex pyramidal in shape. It had long staircases running up and down its sides. The entirety of the structure was coated in green foliage and large aqueduct shaped flooms. The water flowed from these flooms down into a large pool surrounding the garden where one would cross via long arching bridges. Surrounding the central structure were smaller versions of it lining the inner wall of the complex. The foliage was world-wide. Everything from palm trees to pine trees stood stretching for the sky. Hanging fruit and vegetables dangled above the heads of passer bys. Ripe for the picking and made available for the public. A true paradise and oasis in the midst of human development and parched desert.
He took a long moment to take in the scenery and smell the amazingly clean air. The purified air of Sphinx was a large difference from Rhakotis’ that sat upon the Mediterranean and smelled of fish, sea and other oddities. But even here the air seemed almost pure and tranquil. The plants themselves seemed to hum a pleasant tune to him. Was it this blessing of Keter's or reality? Either way the area was entrancing and somewhat hypnotic. He even noticed animals were abundant here when he heard chirping and the distinctive call of the Ibis. He broke free of the spell when he glimpsed the man he was chasing dart into one of the structures adjacent to the one he stood on.
Looking down Tutor noticed several long vines stretching down to where a crowd of people frolicked in their happiness. He could also see several security officers patrolling around. They didn’t seem to mind the Chaser's that littered the crowds in equal numbers to them. In fact as Tutor stood watching them he saw several openly converse before the runners took off. Odd that what was illegal in Rhakotis for the most part was openly explored here in Sphinx. Inside the city felt like an entirely different world. The people were happier and more pleasant, the way of life was healthier and more inspiring. The plants themselves seemed happier. Everywhere there grew a small bright yellow flower that radiated light bouncing off it.
He leapt down and used the vines to guide his feet freely down. Surprisingly they grew untangled as if they were regularly cared for. The surface they grew connected too secreted a sort of slimy mixture from anywhere near the plants. Possibly the nutrients they would need? He hit the ground and rolled sprinting forward towards the other building. Several guards took note and informed their superiors. A group of runners split up and disappeared into the foliage presumably keeping an eye on him. He decided to duck underneath some tree branches and go off the paved path to lose the security before they started attempting to apprehend him.
The foliage was strange. It almost let him through and moved to his passing. He found it to lead right into a hidden runway of sorts. It zig zagged underneath the walkways the civilians would use and spun around many structures hidden right under their feet. He looked around to try and find a path into the building the other man sped into before Keter showed him one. It shot around a corner and up a narrow slope most other runners probably couldn't fit up. He immediately lushed off towards it and clambered up the tight space.
The door the man entered lay just before him now. It was left open into a black expanse o. The other side. Tutor carefully entered and found bright light explode around him as lights came on from his movement. The room was another meeting room like the one he entered the park through. This one had instead another doorway on the opposite side. In place of the window was a large screen with nothing on. He leapt over the table and sprang for the door.
Before he reached it the door slammed open and in rushed several other runners in hoods including the one he had been chasing. Tutor stopped and looked at the men and women surrounding him with no escape route. There were many from different backgrounds and ages. From behind the group still at the door came a sleek pronounced voice.
“You run pretty good for one as young as yourself. Especially to keep up with Jacob.” In stepped a man with a deep black thin combat suit on and a hood with a long point cresting over his veiled face. As he did so the one Tutor had been chasing tossed the drive toward the new entry. The man looked at it before tossing it back to Tutor. “especially for an empty drive.” Tutor decided to play it safe and converse with the odd man.
“I enjoy the run. It's refreshing.” Was the only reply that came to Tutor's mind. There wasn’t much to say that wouldn’t give off his cover of unknown. These runners were far more advanced than any group he ran with back in Rhakotis. They had to have some huge backing.
“you must have been doing it for a good while to be able to keep track of my best runner,” The man came to sit at a table in front of Tutor. “lets have a chat shall we?” The name Phantom creeped across his mind. Didn’t Drexx say something about a sister company to the one that he hired?
An air of unease washed over Tutor as the door was closed and a guard stood at the other enjoying the fresh air. The atmosphere wasn’t warm but Tutor felt a drop of sweat roll down his neck. He felt as though he may be getting into something more than he wanted. He took a seat opposite the mysterious man and perked his ears to listen to what he had to say.
“My name is Ptah. The park is named after me and I represent a new direction in your life young runner.” The man started simply probably expecting a similar gesture. Tutor felt compelled to comply.
“I’m Tutor. From Rhakotis' groups” he let only that small bit of his past get out for now. A wave of exasperation quickly came and went within the room. “I ran against the Riser's a lot. I always thought it exhilirating.” Tutor noticed his vocabulary has grown since the blessing as well.
“We have not heard from our brothers in Rhakotis for a long time,” the group became noticeably fidgety save for Ptah and Jacob. “We thought them lost. Tell me what you know.” They seemed immediately curious towards the information.
“The last I knew the Riser's had taken control of communications in and around Rhakotis. That was to be my next job retrieving the info from Thoth's towers. They had been assaulted and taken control of.” At the news one of the women exclaimed out and ran out the door to the park. Tutor followed her as she ran out crying and distraught.
“Jacob go to her please,” he turned back to Tutor as Jacob escaped the room her sobbing entered from the closing door. “Thoth is her husband you see. If his towers were toppled then that explains our missing contact but we should have heard through other channels. He must be gone then. That is a sad and displeasing thought.” Ptah stood and strode over to one of his runners and whispered in his ear. The man quickly ran off out the door they all came in. “Well thank you now I know what to do. But lets get onto that opportunity,” The way he looked over at Tutor suggested this wasn't going to be an invitation. Even though his face was hidden behind that visor Tutor knew the mans eyes were strictly resmting on him. “I could use a good runner like yourself Tutor. Especially now that I know what has happened. And with the attack on the sepulchre today things are going to heat up. The Risers are getting desperate or feel ready to face us. And the United Corporations will not let them interfere in what we have accomplished. I would like to introduce you into Phantom corp. Tutor.” The name startled him even though he had a feeling thats who they were. First he receives a blessing from Keter and now a new family of Chasers? The world was spinning around him faster than it has ever before.
When mom died all Tutor thought about was revenge. Then went dad and the whole world seems to be rushing around him. Revenge seemed like the least od his issues now. If he was to accomplish anything he couldn’t do it alone. And now a whole company is offering to help him. The feeling was that of excitement and wonder. How could all this be happening his entire life flipped upside down. With reluctance Tutor agreed to the thought. Ptah turned and walked out of the room after a short “welcome to the family.” Tutor noticed a small trinket hung from his belt. As the light in the hall swallowed the mans silhouette.
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The doors sat slightly ajar and a foul wind rolled out of the hallway into Drexx’s nostrils. A faint light poured out into the courtyard as he watched Tutor leap over a wall and run off. He reached his hand up to push the doors open when someone touched his side. He turned to see two people standing behind him. Darlex and the woman that had been kneeling over him. The swelling around Darlex's throat had lessened considerably and he stood straighter then Drexx thought he could after seeing him so beaten.
“They were too many. I’m sorry,” Darlex bowed his head before lifting it back up and staring into Drexx's eyes a moment “they had a clear purpose to get to Neith, I have no idea why but that was definitely their goal. They shouldn’t have known of the ceremony at all...,”he paused and looked away. Drexx saw a glimpse of sorrow in the mans well chiseled face.
“It's ok. You did your job and you did it well. You saved everyone else and drove them back as best you could.” Despite the anger he felt towards the event Drexx couldn't place blame on the man. A tugging in his heart removed the pang of anger that was there for Darlex.
“They had a Gibborim with them sir Drexx,” The small cleric called up to him, “they came in a force even we couldn’t handle with how fast they poured in.” Her thin blue veil left little visible save her eyes that were still glowing a faint teal hue.
“This was probably the fiercest fighting we have seen since the war.” Darlex trailed off before anything else. He lost himself in thought and looked away. Drexx could see him disappear into the past.
The gunshots rang out all around him. What was once a small village in the countryside now was a pile of rubble and ash. The explosions and death tolls of war echoed through the night. Right beside him lay a young man barely old enough to grow a beard. He had been drafted from somewhere in Nevada just as the war broke out. Noone knew it was coming when the first explosions glassed D.C. They were hopeful having been stationed here. “it's a small town not even on the map. This station is gunna be cake.” The boy said as the settled in last night. Their heads barely hit the pillow when the sirens went off.
The whole battalion saddled up and headed into the fray. They had no idea it was going to be this bad. Darlex sat holding that boy in his arms the life whisked from him after a promise to find his family. The Russians stampeded through with no mercy. Almost as if they Weren't human. The whole town levelled before any defence could be mustered. A classic blitzkrieg. Small groups of survivors hung to the thin shread of hope. The blood dripped down off his hand when in the night sky bright lights and huge craft appeared from thin air. Fire rained from the sky in an unceasing onslaught and dogfights darkened the thin beams of light from the stars. The first real battle in the war began and ended on just a few hours. The United Corportions quickly began their defence of their greatest asset. Humanity.
Tears streamed down his face as he clenched the corporal to his chest. The only squadmate he could find was dead and his entire battalion gone. It seemed the world was ending around him as rubble sprayed the area he was in from a grenade going off not too far from him. A Russian soldier sprinted into view and saw him holding the boy in his arms. Darlex froze and turned his head away as he saw the man draw up his gun. The echo of a gunshot crushed his soul before he realized he was fine. He looked up to see the silhouette of his saviour. A womanly figure clad in black stood before him with an outstretched hand.
Drexx tapped him on the shoulder startling him out of the episode. Darlex looked to him with fear disappearing from his eyes. Whatever Darlex just remembered was truly tragic. So many people have been through a lot in the last hundred years it raises Drexx's spirits to see them still fight on.
“well other than you Darlex the only person who might know anything is the priest Krish,” He looked down to the woman. “he would be through here correct miss...?” ending with a questioning glance.
“Judea sir. Of the Chesed sphere of influence at your service,” She curtsied slightly before looking back up to him. Drexx had only just noticed her hand still on Darlex's side. Maybe another injury still lie there. “and yes through here are some living quarters and meditation chambers. Krish is of the Gevurah sphere and is probably speaking with our leader here in sphinx.” I noticed him lead a full score at least of others in with him. They seemed noticeably upset about something more than the attack.
Darlex flinched from a sudden pain and Judea looked to him concernedly. “I hope you find out something. I've gotta head back to the embassy and debrief.” The two walked away at that and left Drexx standing at the doors. The pungent smell wafted up into his nostrils again peaking his curiosity. He has smelled it before. A sort of wasting smell that seemed to permeate the crevices and crags of the scar. Why would it be here? In a place of worship and purity. Something was heavily wrong and he felt deep in his soul he needed to be swift.
Acting upon that urge he pushed the door open and began to sprint down the hall. Before he took so much as three steps inward he was stopped short by a gruesome sight he loathed to see in this place. Crippled bodies lay strewn across the smooth glass floor. Their blood illuminated by coloured lights running along the ground and splintering off into different sections of the complex. Burnt and broken wall panels hung from their bolts and wires sparked a constant din of electricity down onto the scorched bodies below. The lights flickered incessantly and a thick smoke wafted along from deep inside. A light in the centre of the hall dimmed and pulsed between Yellow and black-light.
Following his instinct he sealed the doorway behind him punching in a quick series of numbers that were highlighted by Keter. It seemed to be a lockdown sequence shutting him inside with the deadly smoke and sealing the entire effected area off from the outside. He turned back around as his helmet wrapped around his face and an oxygen level metre appeared in his display. At that he again began his decent into the madness before him following the flashing light on the floor. As he made his way deeper the smoke began to envelop up to his knees and blanketed the ground hiding anything below from his naked eye.
As he strode through the halls he could feel a presence fall upon him from all around. Shadows now enveloped all around his small circle of light as he stopped by instinct to get ready for whatever was encroaching upon him. From below and just ahead of him rose a body, mangled and chewed with deep wisps of energy whisking off of its body. The man, no creature that stood before him rose a foot taller than himself and opened its eyes in his direction. They were a deep crimson with gemlike reflections reaching out from an immense depth. It shrieked loudly before charging forward with frightening quickness. The black robes it wore loosely were tattered and barely hanging on by the muscles around its gaping neck.
The creature lunged for him in a single bound covering several paces. Before Drexx could react he was quickly slammed into the ground and assailed by hands reaching out from all around him. He struggled with his new captures as he felt himself somehow be dragged into the ground beneath him. With renewed strength he pushed hard against the ground forcing himself to rise and throw the creature off of him. Wherever he was being pulled to was not anywhere he wanted to be. The hands that had gripped him now had full bodies in several different coloured robes rising around him. He slammed his body into a wall beside him loosening himself from the black robed creature and began to run at full speed.
The screeching that rose up around him rang in his ears as more bodies rose as he passed them. The faint yellow line on the ground was the only guide he had in the darkening abyss. As he began to dodge more clawed fingers and fireballs thrown at him he began to hear faint arguing in the distance. The yellow disappeared down a dank staircase filled only with smoke and bloodied corpses. How many people died in these halls and what happened?
The thoughts crossed Drexx's mind as he leapt over a blue robed man clawing at his own skin. Still alive and in desperate need of help Drexx couldn’t give. The stairs withered away as hell descended into another hallway. This one was littered with far fewer bodies and more damage to the walls and flooring. The man at the top of the stairs suddenly screamed before a splatter of blood hit the wall beside Drexx. With that he immediately ran off down the hall. Loose panels fell down into the floors below leaving large gaps in his way. The yellow line broke of in patches making it difficult to find his way deeper.
Luckily the sounds of battle echoed towards him from a room just ahead. Flashes of light and loud explosions shook the walls as the voices of two men yelled out at each other. Both verbal and physical arguments seemed deadly. Each time a phrase was uttered some clash of force pushed against the door. As he reached the door he could make out what they were yelling. To him it seemed nothing more than random words and phrases. Yet he was sure there was some purpose to it he couldn’t understand. He peered around the gap in the door to see an awesome sight.
Two men were in the room. One garbed in extravagant yellow and silver robes and another in a deep crimson exo-suit with brighter red robes hanging tattered about his waist. The man in yellow hovered several feet off the ground and threw a slew of attacks at the other. Apparitions rose and dissipated as the red bolstered against them and fire rained incessantly from the ceiling as electricity sputtered across the ground. The one in red slung attacks straight back in between dodging his adversaries. His attacks bounced back at himself or simply vanished before touching the man in yellow.
Which one is Krish? The thought raced across his mind as he stood staring at the battle of energies. The two danced around the room casting different attacks at one another for a good while before the roof started to cave in around them. The red began catching pieces of it and easily flinging them towards the yellow who dodged or began having to skirt the edges of the room. For an instant the thought of the demons in the halls washed over Drexx's mind. If that room collapsed then they could escape into other parts of the complex.
As if responding to the return thought of them he was pushed into the room by a deadly onslaught of the creatures. He stumbled forward and barely missed an arc of electricity that sprang up from the ground. The two momentarily paused their advance against each other before the red immediately turned away from his foe raising a thick steel wall from the ground and slamming it against the doorway.
“And with that I take my leave. It is refreshing to see how far you’ve grown Krish. We shall have to finish this training another day.” The yellow garbed man disappeared into thin air with a resounding boom that knocked Drexx over . He fell beside a painting that lay torn on the ground. The same man in yellow stood above a crowd with arms outstretched and his mouth open in a speech. The people below cheered and seemed to be praising him.
“Damn,” Krish stood panting where he was a second ago not even phased by the rush of sound that pushed Drexx over. “That traitor.” He turned to see Drexx staring down at the painting. Drexx felt as if he has seen the man before but couldn’t place it . “That was our illustrious leader. He led us all astray and now demons are running amuck in sphinx. The very thing we promised to protect the people from.” He now stood over Drexx holding out his hand.
Drexx took it and pulled himself up. “no actually. I’ve sealed the complex. I know that smoke he used. It seeps from underneath the scar in places where the creatures brood.” He looked Krish up and down. The battle must have been intense he stood slumped over and his face was sunken in. His robes lay tattered on the ground probably blown off by the shockwave and his suit was battered and chipped.
“Well that’s a lead I suppose,” His middle eastern accent shown through now. “And who might you be to have entered here against anyone else’s better judgment?”
“Drexx. I was told you helped defend my departed wife Neith.” He looked around the destroyed room and began to believe in the power of the Followers. The destructive force they held in their veins but never used. It must take great discipline to live a monks life with that power. The ring of columns that circled the room were either completely gone or only half standing in a pile of ash. The mosaic tiles from the ceiling lay scattered all over the floor and moonlight poked through the holes left behind.
“Ah yes,” he stopped looking down toward his hands. “I am terribly sorry the order failed you this day. But none of us were ready for what happened here. The Risers were all over the chapel and courtyard. Shield Corp did their best but all of us priests were either away or being led astray by our own leader.” He seemed genuinely upset about the failure.
“No no its ok. I think there’s more to this then a random attack. Especially after seeing that battle you were just locked in.”
“There most assuredly is more to this. Our father would not go rogue for a paltry sum of money. There is more at stake here.” At that Krish looked around as Drexx noticed a scratching at the walls. “can you fight Drexx?”
“Yes although Keter hasn’t reached me telling me one way or another since I locked it down.” He knew Keter had something to do with the priests from studying their scriptures a while back. He mentioned the name to see of he could learn more.
“You are blessed child? Then we have a fighting chance if we can tap you into the Chokma’s meditation lines.” That was a new response. Before when Drexx asked a priest about Keter they refused to help as if it were some secret. He learned all he could about the enigmatic figure in his head but could only find that he was some sort of worshipped being that introduced the priests as a new order.
“Chokma?” He also knew that word from his studies into religion. The wave of automation that opened most peoples lives from the stupor of labour introduced a whole new wave of innovation and learning. In his youth he spent much of his time in libraries learning everything he could. Chokma was Judaic in origin.
“yes step here my child. I will give you access to the Chokma. I will be acting as my late leaders replacement until another is chosen by Keter. I can make the decision and here is coming a threat I cannot defeat on my own.” Drexx hesitantly stepped forward and Krish placed his hands on Drexx's temporals.
Instantly Drexx felt a calming and pulsing warmth rush through his body. A prickling tingle stood the hairs all over his body on end as his eyes no longer saw the room around him. The room shifted away from solid to a plasma pulsing with the sound of every scratch. Even this dissolved away from him and his vision was filled with a blinding light. He looked around himself to find he was now floating within a void of light with innumerable dots twinkling in various colours all around him and spanning into the void in every direction.
As he found himself searching among these dots he heard a familiar voice echoing from around him. “So you have been chosen by Yesod to receive more of a blessing.” Keter wrapped around him with his voice squeezing him tight. Drexx's eyesight shot forward and became fixed in place. The colours around him shot forward into the expanse and began swirling in a spiral mass mimicking the galaxies in the night sky. As it spun he felt a faint pulse shooting through his body and saw the dots begin to coalesce into something near the centre of the spiral.
The form that began to take shape in front of him was that of a man. Yet it shifted and changed in ways that would say it was alien. The most distinguishable form Drexx noticed was one of a scientist with a bright swirling galaxy as an afro over his head. Within the hair he could see innumerable objects and events transpire. A lab coat of thin light sat over the mans body. Spinning around him in twirling patterns were words from every language Drexx knew, as well as many he didn't. The one he could pinpoint were of knowledge and intelligence. As he stood staring at the apparition it spoke in the same chiming voice. “I am Keter. The father of the order and of all that will come. You are different than what has stood before me yet.”
“Different?” Drexx asked as he broke out of the hypnosis he was put into by Keter’s appearance. How could he be different then anyone else? The figure ahead of him shifted and changed in colour to one of more a yellow hue. The enigmatic figure said nothing but stepped forward and reached his hand up to Drexx’s head. Its finger touched his forehead and an explosion of light ripped the vision asunder. With a bright flash of the symbol adorning the large craft and the U.C soldiers the vision all cracked and vanished revealing again the reality around him. Krish held back a horde of vicious creatures and his old allies with an odd force of plasma warping and pressing back against them.
Drexx stood staring down at his hands. He could swear he saw something moving under his skin. A million little microscopic creatures or bugs crawling underneath. Yet it didn't itch or feel terrifying instead it was calming and soothing. He looked up to see Krish on one knee fighting to keep the strange barrier up. “damn what do I do?”
Krish looked up to see the faint yellow glow around Drexx's eyes. He reached out and touched Drexx's leg. Instantly he rose stronger and more determined. “So your the latest of the yellow of Yesod. Put your hand forth and attempt to conjure anything that would be help here.” Krish stared back at the plasmic force surrounding them.
Almost instantly Drexx realised that the plasma was formed of Hydrogen from the air around them. He walked up and touched the plasma thinkin of a flame. The instant his finger touched the plasma it became engulfed in flames. He then pushed against it with his mind forcing the explosion outward around them burning the creatures closest to them to a crisp. Only a few more stood beyond the infernos wrath behind pillars. They stepped out to face their adversaries. Being released of his conjuring Krish fell to his hands and knees without a word. Drexx felt an itch in his hand. He clenched his fist and a great curved sword appeared in it. After a moment of staring transfixed at the blade wrought of thin air he charged for the nearest enemy.
The first he reached was the same man in black robes. It reacted to his movement before he even made it and blocked his first attack. Drexx did the same as it attempted to strike him with sharp clawed fingers. The two moved in unison anticipating eachothers movements for what seemed to them a few minutes. Drexx decided this took too long as his blade swept down and immediately back up and an air of unease washed away from directed at the creature. It stumbled that instant and his blade sunk into its chest and cut deep up its chest rending bone and flesh as one. The only other in the room was a the blue that had been killed on the stairs. “you didnt help...” it said to him in a broken raspy voice.
The thought never change Drexx’s movement. He charged toward the creature now raising its hands and causing Drexx to feel noticeably bit faintly weaker. The blade disappeared and he sent the creature flying through a wall with a quick bright beam of superheated particles flying closely behind. At that last moment Drexx returned to himself staring down at his hands marvelling at the ferocity he had just fought with. He couldn’t have known how to do all that so quickly his mind didn't seem his own until now after the fight. It was as if some other force guided him through the battle but with his own instincts and willpower.
“Lets get back to the courtyard. The other priests will need to meet their new leader.” Krish said despairingly as he stood leaning on a pillar.
“I’m no leader Krish. I didn’t come here for power. You have knowledge that I need and your clearly far more deserving.,” Krish cut him off with a wave of his hand.
“Either way I need healing and you need to learn of the order and its powers. Perhaps you are not our leader but your the only one that may be able to defeat that traitor. Lets be off then shall we?” He started toward the broken doorway limping and holding his side.
“If I am powerful enough to lead you all cant I heal you?” that stopped Krish for a moment before he started off again going slightly faster.
“We have little time and healing is an art like those of the creators. Fighting is different and in our blood it will come naturally. But arts take time to learn let alone master. Hurry now I have a feeling we aren’t alone still.” Drexx followed quickly before sensing something standing in the shadows watching them. It had a snake like feel to its presence. Whatever it was they weren’t ready to face it. They headed straight back to the courtyard through the mangled and burnt halls. All the bodies had gone and the fumes of the vapour no longer assailed their nostrils.
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