Time of the Gospel Chapter 10
I impossible! Javen nearly fell off the black Gears shoulder. Climbing down to a platform he took a deeper look. With a thin, glowing blade he removed a panel of its skin and searched amongst its wires, cords, and metal parts. His hand felt cold steel, his eyes saw black. This cant be the surgeon tried his scalpel again, it broke. Placing his own metal finger against the impenetrable bow he pressed, testing its strength. This is it then this is the slayer of God.
Javen nearly fell again. Is this your Gear?
Yeah Taran was half-confirming and half-confused.
It should be finished soon. Javen took the removed plate and welded it back, forming a smooth face, as if never apart. There. Hes all ready for you. Whats his name?
Yes, of course.
Wait! Both turned as Lieutenant Jacob and three more Phalanx soldiers approached them. All were in a huge, dark chamber. Daylight shined in only through cracks in boarded windows. A few electric lamps gave adequate illumination, but it was less than desirable. A series of catwalks circled this dusty warehouse and surrounded a unit of Gears.
Taran jumped off the scaffold and joined Elly behind his Gear. What is it?
Why are you here, Taran?
Oron wants me to pilot this Gear
No, not Lieutenant En Voy. Taran, why are you here. She gestured to the Gears, to the soldiers, to everything Phalanx.
Elly in Guard I was the best. I had everything. At least I thought. But I didnt have you
~ Im lucky. She kissed him.
Eventually an officer interrupted. If you dont mind, we should be leaving now.
Youre right. Lt. Jacob turned to face five soldiers (Noah had joined them.) Alright, Im the head of this mission. Lieutenant En Voy will be piloting the black Gear, Wetall. The rest of us are to hold a tight formation behind him until we reach our destination. You two soldiers take the Alloy Imperials, you and I will take the Tetras behind them. I believe you all know Noah? Everyone turned to the man standing in the back. Indeed, everyone knew who he was: Noah, the Hand of Oron. Although he had no official Phalanx ranking, his orders were as good as the highest commander. It was not so much rank, but true power that backed his position. Hell be piloting the Gazeleon behind us. Each of you should have had a chance to pilot Kislev One, the Gear Phalanx got operational. Thats why you were chosen. These Gears are much more difficult than Kislev One, so well take .5 hours to practice with your Gear after we clear the Nortune city limits. Are there any questions? None. Then board up.
The six climbed into the Gears. A section of the roof slowly cranked open, pulled by a set of rusty chains, and they flew out. Hovering above the wide warehouse roof was a thick haze that concealed the giants from Nortunes populous. In broad daylight, the huge, noisy titans rocketed from the metropolis unnoticed.
Five giants hopelessly chased the already fallen sun. Heavy darkness can encroach in just two hours. However, as they sped over the curve of the world, that darkness fell increasingly behind and visions of the sun came closer into view. The main force would have departed from Bledavik by now, so they only had only a couple of minutes to reach Gimiea. Their goal of catching the sun sunk far below the city and they were forced to abandon the chase. Gimiea: a port on two seas, one of sand and dunes, the other of water and waves. In the older days, it was not needed, for all transportation was done in the skies. But now, just as in Dazil, transfers needed to be made between land and sea travel. The merchant fleet was far smaller than Avehs Desert Navy, but was very important and imperative for trade with new or revived nations such as the quickly growing Teveth or Iyyar.
The five Gears landed on a flat, metal platform, a thin layer of sand scattered off and outward, pushed by their jets. As the Guard Elite, and the rest of the Guard Gear Force, dismounted
Several young men drove out of the citys Guard Headquarters in a small truck with a load of materials and dumped them in a pile before the Gears. Three of them began to work with the parts while another half went back for more. Soon, some sense could be made out of the hurried work. A scaffold of some sort was being erected around one of the Gears. Since Gimiea was built after Deus defeat and after Gears ceased to function, there was no Gear hangar; they were forced to make one.
One hour later, when the main force finally arrived, each of the Gears had taken its turn in Gimieas new restoration chamber and had been completely refueled. The Captain ordered them all to depart. A unit of fifty Guard soldiers transferred from sand cruisers onto a large sea barge that floated them across to Duneman Isle. The Gear Force took flight again and quickly crossed the sea to the island. Each pilot had one fifth of the island to investigate and made their scans fast, but carefully.
Leon gazed up at the night sky, perched up on a tall rock lance. An object appeared in the sky, reflecting light of the stars and moon. So far away, it appeared to be a small, stretched out red blob, floating up in the dark. He let it pass by. Its presence, however, disturbed him, and he became more alert as he glimpsed the horizon. Nothing but quiet. Then, again, the intruder. This time it was closer, and he could tell it was humanoid. A light shone down from its chest and swept across the desert. The searchlight came over the camp, shone down upon a tent, but was still too far to distinguish a sand colored tarp from sand itself, so it continued. Next, light reflected off the small pool, and the figure came closer. It, a Gear, lowered down and looked around the circle of stones, realizing what it truly was. Leon shouted into the night air as loud as he could to awake the Aether warriors and charged at the steel titan. He blasted forth a ball of energy at a long, metal, chainlike sword. His shot hit at the same time as Alchins, and together they broke off the weapon.
Xolis, in his Gear, radioed the Guard Force coming across the sea. At the same time, he fended off a horde of fighters. It was as if he had stepped into a beehive. They swarmed around him, trying to take him down as he tried to pull himself back into the air. His remaining sword lashed out and cut through one annoying insect, but for every bug he crushed so-many-minus-one gave him a sting. After his right-hand weapon, his jets were the next to go. Wasp after wasp took a clip at his own wings. A particularly large man leapt high and grabbed his foot. Normally this would be insignificant compared to the Gears own mass, but with his fading rockets the man seemed to be a first weight passed the equilibrium, and Xolis fell down, cracking a stone ring, leaking shallow water across the desert sand.
Fray, in triumph, continued to hold him down by lunging into the metal monsters shin, nearly tearing off its foot. Rifles fired repeatedly from the armed soldiers while the more physically able kept the titan distracted. Celer was particularly annoying but could also escape from Xolis whipping blade. Finally, a group of three stronger Aether climbed up the Gear and prepared to assault the cockpit.
Xolis spotted them. No way! Im a Guard elite! Only one thing They dont like Ether huh? He focused on his Ether within and let it loose, pouring into an inlet of the cockpit. Around the Gear a great wind swirled. Each of his attackers were flung in aerial circles about him. Lightning cracked and sent quick shots that contacted the spinning targets. Thats more like it. I can see why they dont like Ether so much, theyre helpless against it! Heh. Well, one last push should do it. He focused again, prepared to send out a final burst of tempest magic. Instead, his burst had the opposite effect, wind died down completely and the warriors landed on the sand. Xolis stared in shock. What the ~ ? He searched his controls. Ether Machine off-line
Vangard crouched behind the towering giant, Ether Machine shrapnel scattered about him. Visually he was blind, but if that hindered his performance as a warrior then granting him sight would be granting him skills beyond all others. He was quite content with his crippling attack, but did not let that cloud his mind of what was ahead.
Forty-five Guard soldiers (five not surviving the trek across the predatorial island) approached a circle of tall rocks. In the center was a circle of mud around a wet concrete plate. On it stood two men: one quite healthy looking, ready to put up a fight, the other old, blind. There were no tents, no mass of soldiers as Guards radio transmission had indicated. But they had the rebel, which was all they needed. The Captain ordered the attack and the unit rushed forward. No bullets were used, for the leader was to be taken alive. It cost several soldiers a heavy beating and many broken bones to capture him, but eventually, the tide poured over the man, and he was put in chains. Guard left with their two captives, Leon and Vangard, and with knowledge that Aether was dead. A detachment remained to search for Xolis and the missing Gear, but other than them, Duneman island was void of all outside contact, returned to its natural state, silent except for the sifting sand, and occasional dragons roar, and the pounding of the night.
Dusk made its periodic rounds over the planets surface, sweeping over the sphere, past deserts and onto oceans, encompassing any islands that lay in them. Night reached even over Zion, and it was seen clearly on a high rooftop. There, Solus knelt in prayer until someone approached him. It was a man, cloaked in a brown, hooded robe. I thought youd be at the anointing.
The man nodded. Yes, but Azule came out of it, decided he would at least want his wife at the ceremony. He might even have given up the idea, if others didnt encourage him. And he wouldnt even have considered, had it not been for you. Who are you anyway? Far from hypocrisy, he removed his own hood. He was the Pointiff, Nicolas: a young man, but mature, thick features.
I already told you at the Council, I am Solus Veritas.
Do you claim to be the hero?
But you are.
I see. You said you would teach us how to fight. I am willing to learn.
Nicolas, this will be hard for you to understand, so you must put aside most everything youve learned in becoming a Pointiff.
I fight well as a Pointiff. Why not build on that?
Can you fight the shadows?
Nicolas pondered for a moment, then let a light streamed from his hand, illuminating the night sky.
Not the night, the Shadows.
What are you talking about? The Legion?
No, deeper than that. They own this world. They are the ones that oppress you.
No. There is one here, in Zion. I will call him. Solus closed his eyes. A wind brushed over the rooftop, planted a chill deep beneath Nicolas skin. A dark figure appeared, blacker than the night.
You should not have summoned me. You will not teach this man! The void enveloped Solus, but the man blasted free with a white glow. The two forms, black and white, took to the sky. They clashed together, then fell back, clashed together again, then fell back. Head on collisions continued, Nicolas trying to keep track of the fight.
Black wind blew over white lightning; Solus was overtaken, plummeted towards the rooftop. During his fall, he went through some type of metamorphosis. Hair shrunk and was died blue, dirt melted off his clothes and skin and he began to glow, like a firefly. Inches before crashing into the stone roof, his direction was reversed, and he soared back to the sky. He again clashed with the shadow, this time knocking it back. The shadow flickered, beaten back by the light, then deepened its void next to Nicolas. Sword already drawn, the Pointiff attacked, but his sword passed through the darkness as if nothing was there. Blackness consumed him.
Nicolas seemed to be floating in an intense darkness. He stood naked in an immense nothing. Trying to walk, swim, or fly took him to the same place, nowhere. Solitude. All was bleak, he could feel it taking a hold of him, cementing its bond of confused haze to his mind. Struggle. He had to fight it, resist. He poured forth all energies he had to escape, shot forth every blast of white light that spewed out of sight. Committed to one direction he pushed himself, continued onward, onward forever. Whether he was not moving, or if all surrounding were identical he could not discern. It seemed to him a long while until he finally abandoned his trek across the void, but time was irrelevant in such a place. When all strength was gone from him, he gave up movement, gave up his squirming, let his head sink down.
A lightning bolt streaked horizontally in the far distance. Perhaps Nicolas had become disoriented, no longer recognizing north and south, up and down. But he could still measure depth. He knew the depth of this abyss was measureless, but he knew that when the next bolt struck, it was closer. A third bombardment of electricity tore a seam in a black sheet, Nicolas was allowed a window back to his world. Still however, he could not move. He could only wait. Gazing upward, he saw a star. It grew larger and larger, until the circumference of its aura would completely surround him. The Pointiff realized this was another bolt, one that completely covered him.
Sueg dove down after the shadow and fired three consecutive blasts. Flicked away by the shot, the blackness attempted to fly away. Sueg shot out a rippling lightning bolt that took a sharp, lashing, jagged hairpin turn and doubled back upon itself. Sparks flew in all directions as the bolt struck itself, like a waterfall crashing on a rock halfway down. The light whipped around, then slowly took shape of a massive sword in Suegs hand. With this weapon he continued his offensive until the shadow retreated far into the horizon. Solus gently landed on the rooftop.
Nicolas stared at him with awe and disbelief. How how how were you able to hurt it? My attacks were no good.
Are you willing to learn?
Throw your sword off the edge of this building, and then I will teach you.
The Chosen is stronger than we anticipated.
How was he able to defeat us?
We were not used to our body. Things will be different next time.
You may be right. But what if he is the One.
Are you suggesting that this is the time?
Look at the Ethos. They are already planning to anoint their hero.
We can take care of their hero. He does not concern us.
He is strong too.
Not strong enough.
The resurrection is about to happen.
Yes. Then we will have power.
Then the Ascension will begin.
We shall once again return home
What of the time?
Do not worry. He shall fall. He has to fall. They all have.
We will be sure to arrange another challenge with the Anima
Is Lomon prepared to go to the Altar of the Resurrection?
Yes mLord. I will send him immediately.
If the resurrection is successful, our power shall shake the pillars of heaven.
Well, for those of you who already know what I'm talking about, I hope you gathered many of the parallels in this chapter. My shortest yet, but important nonetheless. If not, keep waiting. Anyway, the "Resurrection" is on it's way. This story is preparing itself for a dynamic change. It's gonna be big! Hopefully I'll finish the next chapter sometime soon, and then we too will be prepared
Hope you enjoyed this surge of chapters. They've been lying dormant on my computer for a while now. I'm always critiquing myself, that my writing is not good enough. I know that writing is a continuous process, and I'm always going to find something that I can improve. I guess tonight I decided that I'm no longer going to wait until my work is perfect to post it up here, because it's never going to be perfect. Still, it's nice to look back on "The Search for Schala" and see how far this story has come in comparison. In terms of my writing of course.
Note of Hiatus