Time of the Gospel Chapter 9
Solus, it is time.
Solus saw a spread of light leather hanging above him. Where am I?
We found you last night in the desert, you succeeded.
I did not succumb?
No, but the battle drained you. You are weak now, you need time to heal.
Theres aghh no time. Sitting up shot pain throughout every muscle used to do so. I must, go to them, show them how to fight.
So be it. The blind man placed his hands above the recuperating Aether and a green glow surrounded them. Tension eased, soars relaxed, pain fled. It will keep you going for a time, but you cannot run forever.
Do not worry. Solus grabbed his cousins hand. I will slow after I train them. But for now mphhh. He stood and left a small tent. Outside, the sun was shining bright; he just missed a patch of shade below a wing. Placing his hand across his brow Solus squinted at a Gear. It was floating perfectly still a dozen sharls above the blue water pool. It was the one from his dream, vision, or whatever it had been. It was uncannily similar to Gabe, with new, white paint, a more exact, tight figure, and a pair of wings, delicately fashioned with layers of thin metal feathers.
Welcome Solus It eyes lit up with a light blue energy and a similar field radiated from its form, as if its armor was made of blue neon. Maintaining its calm its position sank toward the waters. The azure aura nudged aside the spring to morph the surface into a liquid crater. Two thick chest-plates evaporated into a glare then solidified a step from Solus as a platform.
Gabe? He placed one foot upon the beckoning welcome mat, then the other. It slowly began to float towards an exposed cockpit until Solus jumped the gap between and settled into the controls. The covering hinged into place and sealed shut with a flash. Is it you Gabe? No. That doesnt seem to fit you anymore. Perhaps, Gabe riel? You like that? Gabriel?
Lets go Gabriel! Without the slightest sound the Gear rose into the bright sky. Water was pulled into a mountain after it, then splashed down again. Cutting through the air by no propulsion detected, simply flying for Solus will, Gabriel stared up at the sun and advanced on it. Higher and higher, ever brighter, strait up until the pilot could no longer see. The angel curved its path, soaring north while facing the sky, twisted around, and glided over the sea.
She shot up and surveyed her surroundings. Where am I? Oh yeah. Jinn set down her blade and scratched Stealths back. It seemed wherever she went, no matter how fast, he was always there. Its already well into the day Im getting tired. Ive got to slow down Dropping her few strips of remaining clothes, she stepped into a shower. For the first time in a long time she cleaned off dirt and blood that covered her body. She wrapped in a towel and went back to the room Oron had granted upon her arrival to Tiber. A comb pulled through knots and tangles in shoulder-length deep chestnut hair. Standing, she let the towel fall as she peered into a full-figure mirror. Is is that me? It had been a long time since she had seen herself. Not since then. Though purified from clinging filth, the warm water had done nothing to cleanse deep cuts, bruises, or a scar within her soul. She forced aside the latter imperfection for the time. Jinn was a ninja, a warrior, a killer, but she was a still a woman. Feeling rough skin she found a bottle of lotion and rubbed a dab on her arm. Having never touched silk, it was hard to make a comparison, but she was sure it was for the better and began to spread the softening ointment. Jinn looked again at the bottle. I thought I hated pink
After redressing into her under-garments Jinn opened a closet and gazed around at a wardrobe. Already clad in more than most of the outfits, she shuffled through them quite quickly. Then one held her eye. She stripped again of her brassiere and pulled on a thin, short, light red dress. It was a tight fit, and barely made an effort to cover her breasts, but it was the only thing besides her ninja gi. She returned to the mirror. Perhaps it is time to be moving on. He cant get me here with Oron all around. Its time to settle down Jinn, live your life. The woman in the glass stared at her. She was beautiful, she was a person, she smiled. Approaching confidence that she was putting her old life behind, she began to leave the room. Stealth opened one eye when she passed, stood on all fours, and circled her, sniffing. Unsure of whom this person was, the lygir began to growl. Stealth, its me. She pet its fur, between the ears, where she liked it. Content, the large cat lay down again. This is going to take some getting used to, for both of us.
Nearly gone, Jinn looked at her blade. She slashed the air, twirled it in her hands, and saw a piece of paper impaled upon it. She read the quick writing and let out a sob. A tear streamed down her new face. She crumpled the note and tossed it to the floor. Stealth smelled it. It reeked of Wan.
Mara, or Karen, or Jinn (depending on which name she gave to each in the room) was allowed into Orons office after her obvious weapons were taken by two guards. Black cloth set on tile floor as she passed the two Griffins. Ah, the ninja. Glad you could finally join us. I take it you found everything satisfactory.
She blushed under her mask, not believing she had indulged in such things. Yes.
Good well discuss further arrangements later. Now Taran, are you sure about your decision?
Yes. Few disagreed with the man.
Very well then. Report to the military barracks in block 03 to register, tell them I personally recommend you for at least a Lieutenants rank. Then show them your ring. After you have been properly briefed, return here. Understood?
Yes sir. Uhm Winx raised an eyebrow. Is there anyway to contact other officers?
Winxs grin grew. Talk to someone in the barracks.
Thank you sir. Taran spun around and stepped into the elevator.
Oron propped his feet on his desk and lay back. One of the girls tried to engage him in erotic play, but he held out his hand and she backed away. His eyes were closed. A faint smile slowly came to his lips. Javen, it was good of you to find those two. They certainly will come in handy.
Thank you sir. It was fortunate that I stumbled upon them.
Your skin is made of steel Javen, so I would not expect you to understand this, and so I do not completely blame you for your failure. Taran will not betray me Javen, because for those of us that posses it, we are ruled by the flesh. With that he engaged a girl in a passionate kiss as well as other erotic displays of affection. Have you ever kissed a girl, Javen? Have you ever ~ a girl? Javens face, as always, was strait. If you had you would know that women are overly capable of spoiling mans dreams. Taran did not enlist in Phalanx because of you, but because some luscious young Lieutenant has captured his heart and he is willing to abandon all of mans schemes for her. Now tell me Javen, what, exactly are you scheming with six operational Gears?
I apologize sir. I will turn them over to Phalanx.
Are there any other Soul Stones that Ase would like to share with its ally at the moment?
In that case prepare the Gears for battle. Make sure they have a full tank of fuel. Contact me once they set off.
It took Taran some time to find the barracks, but eventually he did and was welcomed in. After seeing his ring, the enrollment process went by quickly. He was instantly assigned new living quarters complete with a wardrobe of a Lieutenants uniform, volumes of mandatory reading material for him to learn about the Phalanx organization and its rules and regulations, and most importantly, he was given access to almost all areas of Tiber.
As soon as he found where he was going, he knocked upon a door. Lt. Rachel Jacob opened it with a cry of surprise and joy. The two embraced.
Are you sure?
Yes, go on, Ill be on the next transport.
Okay Good bye my love.
Azule kissed his bride as she boarded a ship harbored at the Holy City. He watched as it passed over the bright horizon then turned back to a golden landscape. A sound caught his interest and he again faced the ocean. A white blaze was rushing towards him from the east. It cut a trench into the seas, waves raising high around it, surface breaking below. Without slow it approached, pulling upward at the last moment, blasting a gust of wind and spray of salt water to crash against Azules armor. He followed the object up. Its glory was beginning to fade as it slowed, but the sun built it back up again. The Pointiff covered his eyes.
A figure lowered to the ocean twenty or so feet from shore, five or so above calm waves. Azule was at first sure it was an angel, but changed his mind. A bright aura flashed out from the creature, but it was the sun shining off polished chrome. Its shape was surely angelic: humanlike, but in perfection, and walking on the air with white wings, but it was constructed, built, a robot. A sparkle of light teleported its metal chest a meter from the Gear, with a man standing on it. The platform floated towards Azule at an angle. The man atop it appeared strong, but he was not dressed as a warrior, a Gear pilot, or anything grand. Instead, he wore a simple, dirty white shirt and faded brown, wide-legged pants. Long hair, pulled into a single strand, squiggled in a mid-day breeze. A thin beard was growing over his calm face. Two eyes looked to Azule; they seemed to burn through the knights armor, cut his flesh, and stare down into his heart. Who who are you?
I have come to meet with the Ethos Council.
I am Azule, Pointiff. You may accompany me to the Cathedral if you wish.
Thank you sir. I am Solus.
Is that your Gear? he nodded. Where did you find it?
It was with me at birth, and has followed me ever since.
And how does it work? Supposedly no Gears are functional. Solus shrugged. The two walked down wide, cobblestone streets, passed tall, smooth stone walled buildings separated by long, thin alleys. Most structures in the area were storage departments for foreign goods until they could be sold, they had many large doors through which cargo was being loaded onto bulky vehicles destined to travel to the citys market. Being such an industrious area, there were few people to interrupt their conversation. So, are you just going to leave it there?
Yes. No one can reach it, and if they could, it still wouldnt work.
What do you mean? Following a carriage hauling a score of filled crates, the two journeyed to the heart of the city.
It doesnt work for anyone else. When Im not around, its as dead as any other Gear.
You certainly are an interesting character. The freight turned left, they continued forward, toward more residential areas. Living with the sages, Solus immediately recognized similarities to Shevat architecture. Even closer ties were Stepping-stones lifting up and down tall towers, letting Ethos into their high homes. For the remainder of their walk they kept quiet. Their path came to a short, but thick wall surrounding a large hill. From the wall rose an almost transparent dome of energy that seemed to make everything within glow. They came to an opening in the wall, the energy field extending to cover that. When the two approached it, the glow subsided and they passed by quite freely before it closed itself again. Houses on the interior were of much higher quality: decorated with wealth, constructed with more elaborate, more delicate arches and design. Most rich and wondrous of all was a colossus home set atop the butte: Cathedral Zion. It was beautiful. The entire monument shined with a radiance all its own.
Before he came over his awe, Solus had been washed, given clean clothes, led to the Ethos council, and now stood before them. Priests, Acolytes, Etones, Pointiffs, and Bishops all waited for him to speak. He swallowed a gulp of nervousness and cleared his mind of all stray thoughts, focusing only on what he had come to say. I am Solus Veritas. I have come to teach you how to fight. The entire assembly broke out in laughter. Men seated high chuckled heartily, knights below could barely contain themselves. I have come to lead you against the shadows.
The massive chamber, filled with Ethos, no longer just the council, but many lower members of the clergy, some paying attention, others immersed in their own conversations, went deathly silent. It was like night, out in an open, but empty field, when the wind dies down, the crickets stop chirping, and all is still. What are you saying? Everything centered on the Arch Bishop and the man he addressed. Are you then, the hero?
I am. His voice seemed to captivate, to control its audience. First he had commanded them to silence, and then ordered them into a mighty uproar. Shouts yelled across the room, people leapt to their feet. Cries erupted, Impossible. Too weak. Unclean. Blasphemy! Sacrilege! Sinner! Hes not even one of us.
Azule, who had shamefully led him here, who had spoken with him, who had trusted him, stepped forward. I challenge your claim. The crowd was hushed. We will fight, and when you die, your lies will be known.
I will not fight you.
Good. Now that youre all here, Ill tell you what this meeting is all about. Most of the lower Guard officers in the room, who were actually very high up in the overall hierarchy, shuffled in their stiff seats and strait uniforms. Through a deal with Ase Inc., we have been able to activate five of our Gears. Their schematics will be available to you later, but they are top secret files now, as is any knowledge of their activation. Understood? Good. Now, as for what we plan on using them for It is now time to eliminate the rebel base. An image of a desert island appeared on a view screen. As you should recall from previous briefings, the isle is still very unstable, which is why we have not been able to launch a massive attack with our machinery. Sadly, our Gears are still too large. They can, however, fly. Thus we can finally locate the bases precise location and eradicate them.
Both the searching Gears and a troop of soldiers will be launched at the same time. The Gears should be able to pinpoint the position and return to the rest of the detachment by the time they arrive. From their, we will march strait to the camp and take everyone as prisoner. If there is resistance, and there will be resistance, kill them. Be warned, this is a dangerous mission, only enlist your most able troops. The island is filled with sand beasts larger than any on the continent. And, the rebels are well trained fighters. Transports to Gemiea leave in two hours. Further information will be given there. Any questions?
One of the Captains elite called his attention. Allys stood. Sir, what is to be done in regards of finding Taran and Solus?
Balis, former elite En Voy will be dealt with at a later time. After we eliminate the rebels, there are several scouts that might have information about him. Then, not to the assembly, but whispered just for Allys Balis, Dont worry, hell pay. Louder again, back to the group. Anything else? Good. Dismissed. All rose up as one body and filed out to the door. The elite, however, as well as two other highly ranked officers, stayed behind, already called for another briefing.
You have been chosen to pilot the five Gears. You have a pre-mission: go out to the desert and start flying. Adjust to the controls and learn how to use them correctly. Consider it practice. Until any further development, you are Guards Gear force. I would say make your country proud, but this is a secret mission still. Do not let yourselves be seen. Odell, Parisi, when our Gear forces are increased and revealed, your founding part will be told and youll find enough recognition to quench your egos then. Balis, Gridge, Lyon The Captain chuckled, Nothing could satisfy your egos, and you get too much praise as it is. Be sure to arrive at Gemiea an hour before the main force, we need to make special arrangements for refueling and such. Ship off in ten minutes. Dismissed.
It was a grand chamber indeed. The structure of it was just as large as any he had seen at Guard. It was finely decorated as well; fine pillars, statues, and tapestries lined the walls. Seated on the main floor were dozens of identical looking soldiers: black boots nearly reaching the knees, white pants, a black jacket that came down to the waist, and then a hint of blue or red or gray depending on rank. Taran was now dressed the same as they were. He was becoming who they were.
He stood on a stage, overlooking the unmoving crowd. On the platform with Taran was a man, clad in the same uniform (his was gray) with a scroll in his hand sealed with a foreign symbol. Above them, Taran noticed, on some type of balcony, stood the man he had met earlier, Oron, along with a host of others. Below, in the front row of the spectators, was Lieutenant Rachel Jacob, a smile parting her lips as she tried to be solemn. The man with him opened the scroll and read it aloud. Taran had long since practiced his Legion dialect, but was still able to make out what was being announced.
Do you, Taran En Voy, pledge your loyalty, love, and life to Phalanx. Do you swear to uphold its code of honor and discipline. Do you promise to submit your existence to the protection of the Legion, no matter what the cost.
And the crowd gave a standing ovation.
Solus dropped a sword forced into his hand began to unbuckle white armor. I said I will not fight.
Then you will die. The Pointiff rushed forward, slashed his sword, and crashed blade against blade. Solus, lightning reflexes having grabbed the weapon from the ground, blocked another several attacks then jumped back even further from the Cathedral. Judgement! Azule raised his blade and a stream of light poured into it. An explosion rushed outward, phasing through everything, even Solus, and died down. What the
You cannot expect to defeat the shadows like that. You must learn how to fight. The self-proclaimed teacher dropped heavy armor to the ground.
You dare think yourself more able than a Pointiff? Insane! Again he charged forward. He swung his sword downward, missed, upward, missed, and downward again for strike three. Come, show me then: how will you destroy Oron? Show me what you can do.
I will not fight you.
In a battle with Oron, not fighting will get you killed! The knight kicked him with a metal boot and Solus fell over. Ha! Your words are filled with lies. You cannot defeat me, let alone Oron. You will pay for your sins. Divine Wrath! A pillar of fire spiraled around his heaven-pointed sword then absorbed into the blade, painting it with a fiery glow like a new weapon ready to be hammered out in the forge. It came down on the fallen, who grabbed the sword Ethos had forced him to take. The molten blade silently split through it, melting and deforming either ends. It drew closer to the now defenseless Solus and neared his head. It touched, dull and cold as a rusty weapon lost for ages in a damp cellar. Not even a trickle of blood squeezed out. Veritas grabbed the edge of the stunned Pointiffs sword and tossed it away.
Insolent fool! You will pay! Repeatedly he kicked him, again and again in the gut as he buckled over. Blood was choked up. I dont even need a weapon. You poor, pathetic man.
Solus was kicked again, then raised up his hand, calling for something. Gab A flash lit the already light sky and a large figure approached. It landed down over a pair of rockets, touched the earth with a black steel toe then settled on two firm feet. Its entire form was black, not white, and had no wings spanning from its square shoulders. Solus was disappointed at its transformation back to Gabe, but did not show that to Azule.
The Pointiff stuttered back as the Gear approached, then ran back to the mob that once was the Ethos Council. We must defeat this upstart.
We cannot do it without our Gears. Perhaps perhaps it is the time. I will resurrect a Gear. He pushed by them and through the purification hall without stepping into the pool. He briskly walked through the halls of the Cathedral and down a long flight of stairs. Around him everywhere were glimmering, noble giants, ready for battle. He chose the most impressive one there and stood before it. It was a knight, with white armor capped with golden plates. A thin, long sword hung from one hand and two robotic wings sprung from either shoulder. No time to waste must let him lay claim to the hero. You there! A rather old man who was polishing a Gear turned to face him. Im sorry. The Pointiff drove his blade into the mans heart. The elder gasped, collapsed, and died. Everything was happening so fast, in a blur from Azules passion to disprove Solus. A Soul-stone was pulled out from his garments, it was dipped in blood, it was offered up to the Gear as a prayer went to God, and the angel came to life. Alright Alkin, lets see what you can do. He quickly boarded, adjusted the controls, and flew out of the hanger.
Solus, in his Gear, tried to reason with the Ethos Council, but they would not listen. He tried to tell them that he could defeat the shadows, but they did not seem to care. His efforts were met by a magnificent Gear that shone bright as sunrays bathed its smooth metal skin. Gabe spoke, I said I will not fight you. Why do you persist?
You desecrate the name of the hero. I will not allow someone like you to the title. The knights Gear advanced and threw its full frenzy into the fight. Fist and sword rushed at him while Solus dodged back and forth. Then a sideways arc cut several sharls into his black metal side. A downward drive tore into his forearm. Gabe threw several punches, each forcing the attacker back, but it rose up on its wings and dove down with a mighty force behind its sword, breaking off Gabes right fist. Azules sword charged through the black Gears gut and spun circles behind him. Solus could decide to face the Gear or its living weapon. The sword came back and ripped another hole just above the first. Now wires and broken parts spilt through warped metal on either side of Gabes midsection.
Solus was constantly switching controls and displays as his Gear overheated. A silver light flooded the cockpit, then passed by. With that quick transition, everything turned black. Silver again, this time with a touch of white, then black, with a touch of distant stars. On the pureock cross third swing, Solus took several steps back. Turning around he saw three Gears exerting all their might in a three way fight. Each were as angels and flew through space with ease. One was white, one gold, and one brown: Gabriel, Alkin, and the Gear of the dark man that had recently offered his power. The black giant stayed calm and temporarily away from the battle. Alkins sword came down, but Gabriel quickly dashed backward. Another attack, Gabriel took it and nearly lost an arm. Wings folded and a brilliant glare swelled from a sun behind him. Alkin was blinded, as was Solus. Next, the dark Gear attacked the knight. The sword came down and the bat-like titan grabbed hold of it. The blade was ripped out of Azules golden gauntlet and twirled so that the hilt lay in the palm of the dark Gear. It was pushed deep into Alkins body, but failed to pierce through the other side. Instead, it erupted inside, fragments spraying out from new cuts in Azules Gear.
The three rose up to Solus, Alkins head shamefully hung between them. Sueg and the dark man stepped out. The latter spoke, I am Id. I will destroy Azule for you, hold true your claim to the hero. The cross swung to cover him.
You only need truth, the other countered, not support of others.
What can he do against the Pointiff.
Id rose his black gloved hand and formed a fist. Alkin crumpled into a rigid iron ball. Ids hand was covered with fire; Alkin burst into flames. Had Solus blinked, he would have missed the glowing fist slam against Ids opposite palm. The burning Gear flew back and was crashed into an invisible field, forced into an explosion.
Solus was dumbfounded. He shook himself, then came back to realization of the choice before me. No I cant let you. Its not right
Azules sword came down, but was stopped by a blinding light. When his sight recovered, there was no Gear before him, only a white bird high in the days sky. He turned back to the Ethos Council. They thought he had caused the flash, and that Solus was dead. No matter. He will be soon enough. The Pointiff walked his Gear back toward them and dismounted. He was congratulated on his victory by all. Friends, the time is right to destroy the shadows once and for all. I think . Yes I will lead you.
Again commotion broke out among them, this time the majority in agreement. Arch Bishop Black spoke up, Azule, clean the blood off your hands, then come into the Cathedral. There I shall anoint you the hero.
Well, Azule isn't portrayed quite the same as he was back in chapter four, now is he. Well, of course there's a reason for that. But again, I'm not here to tell anyone what to take from my story. It's all up to you, the reader. Sorry for the poor quality of these notes. I'm writing this one at one in the morning before I send this batch of chapters off to Icy. Hopefully they make sense. If you happen to be reading this, please send me an e-mail (email@example.com) just so I can know that's it's worth it for me (and Icy) to post it up. Your input and feedback is greatly appreciated.