Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crux: Revelation - Finale

Well, thank God for anchoring! And cigarettes. And coffee. And all the bad things that make life good and make me write like a machine. Speaking of which, I’m not particularly fond of this second and last hatrick, but it’ll have to do for now because I simply had ENOUGH of Revelation. It’s time for a break and some meditation on the last part of Crux which surely must be the jewel. Well, I’ll try anyway. So yeah! Here’s the last part of the second chapter of my book and the last piece you’ll get until the book is published or I’m dead! I hope you enjoyed my writing and that, by now, you’re a true fan. If not, get the fuck off my blog! …Kidding. Somewhat. I will see you later with some non-Crux stuff!

Akaba had a permanent facial expression that demanded a certain amount of healthy paranoia from whoever was near him; a rather smug smile combined with a sinister look in his eyes, something you would expect from a serial killer or a politician. The latter being a more adequate description and not an entirely metaphorical one, considering the constant struggle for power among demonic entities.  Even the way he moved managed to keep Kara on the edge, leaving the impression that at any moment he might turn and tear open her ribcage. Maar didn’t feel much comfortable either, but unlike the girl, he was showing no sign of fear, keeping up the pace with the Infernal as they walked at a hurried pace through the tall grass.
“Are you sure we are going in the right direction?” Akaba asked at some point, with Kara burning holes in the back of his head.
“If there were any doubts, I’m completely positive now. The land is becoming alive and I caught the scent of Yama trees in the wind. We shouldn’t be far now – I expect Enoch lies over the next hill.”
The Infernal hummed his approval and turned his head towards the sky. The second sun was almost setting and soon a chilly night would embrace Crux like a vampire lover. The white star that shone a second day over the planet was becoming blue and the point where it would hit the horizon bled in indigo swirls of mist. Akaba narrowed his eyes and grumbled like a silent volcano.
“You can feel it too” Maar said without even looking. “Something terrible is about to happen.”
“Yes. I’m surprised you can… Interesting beings you Nephalem are. Vicious warriors as well… Makes me wonder if I’m not making a mistake by aiding you.”
“Why are helping us then?” Kara asked with a slight tremor in her voice.
“Because, human, despite the fact that Hell will lose so many precious agents when this… cherub is released, I will be the one who brought some rogue forces to their knees. And who knows? Maybe Balittian is right and Innanna does intend to turn this entire race abide the rules of Judgement. My masters will be truly pleased with my actions-”
“Say that again!” Kara exclaimed, her eyes widening at the mentioning of Maar’s father. Even the Nephalem jumped at the name.
“Yes, Balittian summoned me here. What do you think, sport?” Akaba grinned and gave Maar a nudge that would dislocate a man’s shoulder. “Think ‘old dad’ wants to patch things up with ya, eh?” he mocked. “…Nah!” he bellowed and laughed maniacally. “He’s just thinking of himself! He’s just a scared old demon, afraid I would pull out his insides and decorate his temple with them…  Pitiful. But you have to appreciate a hellspawn’s betrayal. Proved he belongs perfectly where he is…”
“Hey, do you mind?” Kara said, frowning and feeling her anger take over. “…You don’t need to be a douche about it” she added and quickly started to regret her words. Her gaze slid toward Maar who kept walking silently, not visibly affected by the words. “You knew?” she asked confused.
“I suspected he had something to do with the whole thing. Why else would he take residence here? It wasn’t like he came to watch over me. But you’re wrong-“ he said to Akaba, without even turning to look at him, his dark face hidden by the mane of blue hair. “He is not a coward at all.”
“Oh? I wouldn’t call him brave now, boy” the Infernal growled. “Selling out his partners and doing a wonderful job of watching out for himself...”
The Nephalem snorted and finally glanced at the hellish warden, a nasty smile dancing on his lips.
“I thought you smarter than that, Infernal” he said, suddenly looking like he was the most powerful of the three. “It took a lot of guts to call on you and… “ He started laughing and kept laughing until Akaba finally yelled in frustration.
“What? What is so funny, half-breed?!”
“Well…” he said, wiping an invisible tear. “I just have the feeling that you were not the only plan he had. Actually that is a certainty. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him.”
Kara sped up and came by Maar side smiling a little. She gave him a supporting smile and added: “He does rule over the land of vice, lies and all other nasty things…”
There weren’t many things that gave pause to Akaba. His mind worked with the speed of light and one like him couldn’t afford to be tricked by lesser creatures, be they demons who cowered in alternative dimensions. But for the first time since his creation, the Infernal pondered the fact that Balittian, a weak entity with petty aspiration, might have indeed manipulated him far more than he ever realized. And then he did something that made both Kara and Maar smile in silent amusement: he looked back.
As they climbed a gentle hill, littered with short trees bearing red pear-shaped fruit, something shifted in the air. It was like a the kind of noise only a dog could here. Or someone with demon blood. Maar and Akaba exchanged glances and rushed to the top, under a patch of foliage, with the girl trying to keep up.
“Oh, no…” the Nephalem muttered. “What are they doing?”
As Kara reached the spot, she froze with the sight of thousands of Fallen Nephalem warriors preparing for war. A massive camp site lay in the valley and giant fires were lit and burning blue in the dimming daylight. There were no shouts of rage or morale-lifting battle cries, but the anticipation of the carnage could be felt clearly. Come daylight, there would be no stopping the force commanded by Mattias; it would crash like a riptide against the walls of the distant white Enoch. Over there, the three saw, the lights of the capital shone brighter than usual. Its towers burning a golden light that enveloped the surrounding area and protected it with their magic beyond the thick tall walls. Although it was not clear from their position, Maar knew they were preparing for the assault as well, and couldn’t help but wonder why the sudden decision to attack directly. Both sides usually met on neutral ground and did battle because neither was strong enough to conquer the other’s city. He instantly looked to the east where a passage broke through the dark-stoned mountains.
“No, no, this isn’t right…” he growled silently. “So many will die for nothing” he added between his teeth in frustration.
A force like no other came slowly but at a steady pace toward the Fallen camp. Clad in their thick armour, some levitating, others using machines that resembled tanks, the Meka advanced with determination to meet their allies. Maar’s fists clenched until it hurt. He turned to Kara with the look of a wild beast in his eyes:
“We need to break into Enoch before they start fighting!”
She didn’t know what to say. His eyes were demanding a solution from the wrong person and the girl felt at a complete loss, managing only to nod slightly and return a puzzled expression.
“There” Akaba said in his low hellish voice and pointed at the demon marching through the ranks, inspecting his troops. “That’s the one I want” he added and started walking towards the camp but Maar grabbed his shoulder.
“No!” he roared. “There will be no killing. If that’s who you want, you can have him. But if you march in there many of my brethren will die trying to stop you!”
“No, little man,” the Infernal replied. “They will all die!”
“You can’t do this! There has to be another way!”
“My patience is wearing thin – take your hand off me! I agreed killing the demons. There’s no clause that says I have to let you live, Nephalem.”
In an instant Maar drew his daggers and assumed the stance, preparing to fight, while Akaba grinned sinisterly and made the spear appear in his hand, but just before they would rush each other, Kara interrupted.
“Look! Look there!” she said, pointing at Mattias. “What is he doing?”
The Nephalem lowered his daggers and realized there was no point in fighting: the demon had prepared a portal and was now walking through its burning ripples, fading slowly out of sight. Akaba grunted and dismissed his weapon, then leaned in: “This isn’t over. When our business is done, you and I are going to have… words.”
“Looking forward to it” Maar retorted and turned towards Kara. “We move now. We’ll go around the walls and find another way in before morning.”
Before she could even agree, he was already walking down the hill and appearing to give the camp a wide berth. Altering their path would make the trek a little more difficult, but among the forested hill they would be safe, yet it would take longer to reach Enoch. Even at full walking speed Kara couldn’t manage to keep up with Maar. She had to jog half the way, while the Infernal followed in disturbing silence, still undecided whether to stick with them or stay behind and hunt the demon.
As the shadows grew thicker at sunset, under the abundant vegetation, Kara had to half-guess where the black clad guide was headed. Nearing a narrow bent over a steep fold, the girl tripped and yelped as she fell to over the side. A strong arm caught the back of her jacket and pulled her back immediately.
“Watch it, human” Akaba said with a thoughtful expression. “You wouldn’t want to die so stupidly after surviving for so long, would you?”
“T-thanks… And no, I wouldn’t want to die at all, if possible. But I can’t see a damn thing.”
He nodded and with a gesture, extending his hand to the side, brought forth his unholy spear. The large spear started glowing immediately but in a manner so odd it made the girl rub her eyes in disbelief: it shone a grey light and everything around her looked like it was being seen in night vision. Everything in a small radius became illuminated in different shades of silver, while being perfectly visible to them and completely undetected from afar.
“If I made a mistake,” the demonic creature said, his molten eyes appearing amused. “I might as well go with it now… “
Palisera stood silent, watching the seraphim hover over a patch of violet flowers. It said nothing since it arrived, but she knew that could mean only one thing. In her wisdom she realized, as the celestial being examined the life in her garden, that Nadir wasn’t actually seeing the complexity of the beautiful plants in front of him but just waiting there lost in thought. The seraphim had an entirely different purpose altogether and, even though they stood on the same side with angels and cherubs, they could never understand creation. They were divine messengers, promoting the ways of Light, driven only by the need to purify everything in the Universe. The fact that Nadir even existed in this dimension was a complete paradox, one which upset the balance of Crux, abnormal as it was already.
He’s here, she said melodically as a portal opened not far from where they stood.
Mattias strolled in proudly, wearing his bloody armour and spiked shoulder pads. His hooves burned the soil and everything in his path withered and died. It made Palisera flinch with pain just by feeling his presence nearby.
I thought we had a deal! the seraphim echoed in its hundreds of voices. What is this, demon? Have you lost your senses?
“This… alliance,” Mattias spat. “Has gone on for long enough! Our children must make war – that was agreed from the beginning. Or have you forgotten?” he added, snorting.
I have not. But there was no agreement about approaching the Meka! This was supposed to be a battle between us alone. Whomever would win would claim this realm and purify it. THAT was what we said then!
“You pathetic, wretched creature!” Mattias growled and his white glare burned hatred. “I helped you banish Innanna, put up with your schemes and suffered your presence for eons, and now you summon me here to bitch about breaking the rules?! I intend to cleanse Crux, make no mistake about that! And I will do it in my own way!”
The seraphim extended its arm towards the demon and an elegant thin silver blade emerged from its hand. Mattias returned the gesture by flourishing his own giant broadsword.
“Come on! Let’s finish it now!” he bellowed and spun the blade slowly.
STOP! Palisera commanded, her voice hitting the rounded ceiling full of stars and planets. This is a place of peace and I will not permit either of you battle here!
Nadir obeyed and dismissed his weapon, throwing a glance from his unseen face masked by the silver hood and the blinding light underneath.
You will regret your actions, you filthy creature! Nadir threatened and disappeared in a white explosion of light.
Mattias turned to Palisera and narrowed his eyes, scanning her for a moment. He sheathed his sword and marched determined towards her. The stench of death came with him and she could barely refrain from showing her disgust as he neared her.
“This land will burn” the demon said.
This land’s fate remains uncertain, she retorted.
“Is this one of your… predictions? Vague as ever. Let me clear it up for you: my army and the Meka will grind Enoch to pebbles.”
Your army… fights for no cause. The Enochians fight out of instinct. And the mechanized beings fight because they are being lied to. There is no glory and no purpose to your conflict, demon. The Universe sees no true outcome to this.
“The Universe…” he growled as he gestured at the air and another portal opened. “Will quake from the fury I will unleash upon it. I will rule this realm and turn it into my own Hell!”
There is no absolute truth, just as there is no absolute force save the Creator.
“Then I will ask for your wisdom and you will obey” Mattias roared, facing her again.
You forget there is still one small factor in your plan for obliteration. The Nilithar still lives.
“The Nilithar!” he said arrogantly. “The Nilithar is a useless concept now, Oracle! It has been since the beginning. A human that could overthrow demons and angels? A human that could change the fate of a world? It is ridiculous! It has only managed to avoid us so far. After we’re done with the High, we will hunt it down and deal with it once and for all! And then… when all lies in ashes, I will come after you personally!” he added and stepped through the portal.
Palisera watched him leave and, for a moment, she pondered the scenario. If Mattias would win, she and all life on Crux will perish, including the Nephalem. The demons cared not about their offspring. If anything they saw them as failed experiments that could never accomplish more than kill each other; having no souls, but being the physical manifestation of their spirits, material reflections as it were, the Nephalem couldn’t ascent or fall. They could never leave Crux and they would not bolster the armies of Heaven or Hell. After exterminating each other, there would be no purpose for them save to amuse the demons by getting tortured and killed in unspeakable ways.
The Oracle turned, shimmering in and out of view, and hovered over to a small pond in the middle of Rhodima. Her bare feet touched the perfectly still waters and her whole body started glowing wildly, as her mind reached out throughout Crux.
Hear me, Valenthar! Hear me, First Born! she commanded and all life on Crux stopped to listen.
Ash spun the wheel and made the ship slide sideways in the gentle waves and roll on the beach with little effort, making Andrew wonder again about the sailing methods of the werewolf sailor. Arlo, Tesla and Thomas hopped over onto the snow covered beach and looked up at the steep mountains in front of them. Not far from where they had landed, a pass could be seen running between the mountains, but the rocky outcrops appeared to be closing in on it.
“Get a move on, Drew! We need to hurry!” Thomas yelled as Arlo and Tesla were already jogging towards it.
The mage sighed and looked at Mona for a moment then turned to his friend and offered a sad smile.
“This is good-bye then, Gates. I can’t come with you. I’ll meet you on the other side then – whatever that may be!”
“What?! You’re doing this now?”
“Come on, mortal!” shouted the Meka. “We have little time!”
“Come with me, damn it!” Thomas said with desperation in his voice.
“Tom, go!” the mage ordered. “I won’t be of any use to you. I am already being drained of power and I would only get in the way. Please, just go help them! I will be fine here!”
“Damn it…!” Thomas conceded and then nodded at the wizard in acceptance before he dashed towards the other two. “Don’t die on me, you hear!” he called out from the distance.
“Will try, my friend! Will try! Good luck!” Andrew shouted back.
Ash came to him and put a giant arm on his shoulder, while Mona took his hand and squeezed it gently.
“Don’t worry, mate. They will be fine and you… Well, you need to put this dying business out of your head. I’ve something special in the hold, I do…” the captain assured him and winked, disappearing below decks.
“He means rum” Mona explained. “Stuff that would make your eyes explode and your lungs boil. Hope you can hold your liquor, dear.”
“Well!” Drew replied with the smile frozen on his lips. “That takes care of one problem. I’ll feel more alive than ever.”
As they followed Ash in the belly of his rundown ship, Arlo, Tesla and Thomas were speeding through the closing pass. The rocks were melting together, like perfect puzzle pieces, and the latter felt the adrenaline pump through his veins like never before. Somehow, he found this mad race very funny. How silly it would have been to die swallowed by a mountain.
“There!” Arlo called, pointing at the exit. “Almost made it! Hurry!”
Tesla lept over a rock coming out of the ground and as Thomas dodged a monolith, he replied loudly: “We won’t make it! Probability is too small! Calculating an alternative route!”
Thomas frowned and roared loudly, making the other two flinch in surprise as he boosted past them with unnatural speed.
“If this mountain thinks it can eat me… It can EAT me!” he yelled leading the way.
As they neared the closing maw, meeting a wall of stone, Thomas focused all his strength and his fist met the obstacle with godly force, pulverizing the rock and pushing the still growing rock to the sides.
“HURRY!” he shouted, trembling with effort and pain.
The Meka reached him first, bouncing over him and landing gracefully on the other side, while Arlo just slid like a baseball player between spread legs. He cried loudly and jumped away, rolling to safety as the passed closed with a deep clunk.
“What happened to your eyes?” Tesla asked as he came close and reached a hand to Thomas’ face. He dodged it and backed away.
“Easy there, fellow!”
“He’s right. They’re orange!” Arlo said, dusting the snow off her clothes. “Why are they orange? And glowing?”
“Vampire blood” Thomas said matter-of-factly.
“Oh,” she replied casually. “Of course. Why not?”
The Meka gazed at him with his green orbs, pondering the scientific uses of said liquid, but without managing to contain his enthusiasm.
“Don’t even think about it!” Thomas warned. “You’re complicated enough as you are!”
“Come on, Tesla!” Arlo called already climbing the irregular slopes. “I can see the top from here. Genesis lies just ahead!”
“Indeed!” the Meka agreed and something about the notion of returning to his home city after so long made him look excited, though Thomas couldn’t tell how that was exactly.
Half of the way up Thomas couldn’t get him mind off Andrew. He felt awful about leaving the wizard behind like that, but it didn’t seem like he had much choice. The need to speak about it was overwhelming, but he doubted Tesla could understand a thing he would say and Arlo seemed way too concerned with her own problems. He was grateful though for Mona being right about the snow. It wasn’t cold at all and it felt quite pleasant to the touch. While trying to focus on this little thing and try to put Drew out of his head for the moment, the Meka broke the silence.
“Something is amiss” he said in his mechanized voice. “The towers!” he added, pointing the three-fingered hand at the peak ahead.
Now, as they approached, they could see the low drill-shaped towers protruding out of the mountain and reach towards the sky. Energy crackled slightly on them and this aspect seemed to bother the green creature greatly.
“This is very bad” he said and looked at Arlo. “Hurry! I must investigate this!”
“Why?” she asked as Tesla was running towards the arched gate that was wide open now revealing the dark tunnel behind. “What’s wrong?”
“They activated an emergency protocol!” he replied still running.
“Not a moment of peace around here” Thomas commented and gestured Arlo to follow as they tried to catch up with Tesla.
He had stopped in front of the massive metal gate, looking confused. Nothing had ever managed to break through their fortifications but there it was: the entryway completely accessible and the bodies of several guards sill scattered in green pools of blood.
“Oh, my…” Arlo muttered as she and Thomas approached the Meka slowly. “That’s terrible…”
“You must wait here” Tesla said quietly now. “Foreigners are not allowed within the city.”
“I think that rule has already been broken” said Thomas, regretting his words immediately. It was no time for jokes and Arlo gave him a grave look. “Sorry. We’ll wait here.”
“That was cold” the half-angel told him when Tesla disappeared in the darkness of the mountain corridor. “He claims he’s all logic and mathematics, but I think he can feel just like any other creature. And your words were… inappropriate.”
“I know,” he admitted bitterly. “I’m just… worried about Drew. I shouldn’t have left him there.”
“Your friend has a lot of faith. You should too. Let’s rest… He will return shortly.”
The last remnants of light disappeared and thousands of stars faded into existence on the dark orange sky, its reflection on the snow making it look like the Grand Canyon. Inside the mechanized city, the smell of hot metal and sound of electricity still floated in the air. It felt warm and artificial and Tesla felt at ease. Along his way he saw more and more bodies of his murdered brethren, but now, strolling through the adjoined science rooms and factories, relaxed his mind. He felt purpose again, he felt the familiar emotion of belonging, but most of all, he felt the burning need to avenge the loss of Genesis. Being cut from the central neural node, he didn’t receive the order to prepare for battle against Enoch, and that gave him the advantage over whoever thought they could control the Meka. His mind raced and analyzed possibilities.
It was obvious that the cyborg creatures constructed weapons and readied for a conflict. It wasn’t however to defend themselves and it wasn’t under the order of the Galileo either, lest he, as a Tolgarim, would have been informed. Logic dictated only one thing: the only creature capable of taking command over the Meka was the other Tolgarim, the one assigned to Babel: Benjamin.
Tesla turned and dashed towards the Galileo Council’s chambers. The room murmured remnants of energy and death. The Meka leaders were dead and so were many of their bodyguards. Green blood stained the polished stone floors and walls. Even the blue light from the core pulsated slowly in apathy. Approaching the thrones of metal, Tesla noticed that the one responsible for these killings lay among the victims as well. A wave of green electricity washed over his eyes as he placed his hand over Benjamin’s face. And then he saw everything.
A golden moon rose over the peaks to the west, shinning on the silent trio sitting in the stone, each struggling with different thoughts. Thomas felt angry and frustrated, while Arlo fought with confusion and the need to help, and Tesla meditating on the course of action. Three individuals could not stop an army.
“Three people can not stop an army!” Thomas finally yelled and slapped the snow.
“Stop yelling, man. You’re not helping” Arlo said and her eyes moved from one spot to another, trying to think of a solution.
“We will go to Enoch and…” Tesla began, but didn’t know how to finish the sentence.
“Okay, go and?” Thomas asked.
“I… I do not know. We can’t warn them in time, we can’t fight my brethren, let alone the Fallen. I see no possibility of success here. I see… nothing.”
Thomas jumped on his feet and yelled a series of curses, his voice making the canyons tremble. He took the air in and faced the other two.
“Had to get that out, sorry” he said softly.
“Hey, mind the language, will you! You Americans are so bloody rude!” came Drew’s voice from behind him.
Thomas turned taken aback by the sight of his friend and the other quickly stood as they saw the mage riding on the back of a huge lion as white as the snow. Slowly, behind them, Mona, Ash and a few other individuals followed at a gentle pace.
“Drew?” Thomas asked stupidly with his eyes as wide as ever. “What… What’s going on?”
The wizard laughed softly and dismounted the massive feline who slowly morphed into his human shape. Nom cracked his neck as he walked on two feet again and offered the three the most gentle smile possible.
“Your friend here can be very persuasive, you know! We-“ he said opening his arms wide. “-decided to… get involved. So… need an army, do you?”
Arlo nodded in silence while Tesla was still coming to terms with what was going on. Nom gestured them to come closer. As they reached the ridge, he pointed towards the shore that could be seen over the closed pass and the low mountain. A few hundred boats of random sizes floated on the pink shallow waters. While they admired the massive force that came to their rescue, Thomas grabbed Andrew and gave him a quick hug, whispering: “Don’t do that again. You’re sticking with me until the end.”
“For such a badass, you can sure be a wimp sometimes, Gates” the mage retorted.
“What did you say to him?” Thomas asked jerking his chin in Nom’s direction.
“Before we all left his house, I told him that they couldn’t avoid war. If the Nephalem were trying to purify the planet, they really stood no chance, being hybrids themselves.”
“Smart observation” said Thomas.
“Here’s another one” said Arlo. “Our army doesn’t have any weapons. Sure, we don’t want to hurt the Meka but there is still a Fallen army to be dealt with… “
“Well, that’s true” Nom agreed. “We banned weapons from Bastion a long time ago. But we can still fight – we have our strengths, no?”
“Won’t be enough” Tesla said shaking his head. “My people are heavily armed and your powers will do you little good. But… I think I can help with that” he added and gestured them to follow. “No other creature but the Meka stepped inside Genesis until now. Sad that it has happen under such circumstances…”
Nom, Arlo and the two earthlings walked through the blue lit corridors in silence as Tesla led them in through the maze of chambers, finally reaching a giant metal gate in a tall chamber. He passed his hand over the crystal panel on the right side and it buzzed electrically. Cogs spun into motion and the door opened with a heavy sound while the blue stripes of light illuminated the depot.
“We have gathered these for study, yet we found them crude and… unreliable” the Meka said.
“Impressive” said the leader of Bastion, then quickly added. “What are they?”
Thomas and Andrew looked at each other grinning like children in a toy store.
“Oh” the mage said. “We know what they are.”
“Dibs on the chaingun!” Thomas yelled and rushed towards the pile of machineguns.

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