Flame and Shadow

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Chapter 38

I stood over her unconscious supine body, panting with fatigue. Damn Nephilim are really tenacious. If she got up from that, I don’t know what I’d do. Finally, I could continue on with my mission. The black GPS device that I was using not only led me to the location of Nahalore’s headquarters, but it also gave instructions on how to enter, and where to go in order to obtain the section of the book of prophecy, once inside.

I stepped around the girl’s body, and walked toward the door. Then, I heard a voice from off to my right.

“S-stop right there! Don’t take another step!”

What now?! I was starting to get absolutely infuriated. Every second counted. I wanted to complete the task for Razo, so Tsalderek could begin giving Dani the procedure that she needs. Every one of these pathetic creatures getting in my way and delaying me decreased her chances of survival.

My blood boiled hot as a scrawny boy scampered in between me and the door.

“GET OUT OF MY WAY!!” I snarled lethally.

He shook his head.

“No…no way. I…I can’t do that. Sera put her life in great danger to stop you. This…is what she would want me to do.” The boy clenched his fists. “I’ll put my life on the line for what she believes in because…I love her.”

His words startled me at first, then lit a conflagration of anger. This Nephilim dared to talk about love and such, while the one that I loved was slowly dying as he impeded me.

“Stay out of my way.” I growled. “Or I’ll kill you.”

This little obstacle stood defiantly as I approached. Then, when I was just a few steps away, he leapt forward to attack. I observed a dripping purple liquid coming from his right hand, and knew that he must have been a poison-caller.

With one quick tilt of my head, I dodged the attack he had intended for my face. Then, I carried his fist through, and smashed my forehead against his skull. The feeble opponent fell to his hands and knees, but still attempted to stay in between me and my goal.

The constant obstruction from Nephilim finally pushed me to my breaking point. In a blind rage, I came upon my kneeling enemy, grabbed his head in my hands, and snapped his neck.

That breaking noise was a sound I would not soon forget. I released the boy’s head, and his body fell lifeless to the ground. This burst of lethal violence curbed my ire, and I looked around at what I had done.

The weird girl that had bravely kept fighting, with no regard for her own safety still lay on the ground. I may have broken her jaw. Then, the realization of what I had done to her companion set in. I killed him. I had never killed anyone before. I’d fought many times before, but actually ending a life?

He was just an evil Nephilim, so it was actually a good service, right? As I turned my attention to the unconscious girl once again, my mind flashed back to the vision of Dani, laying helpless on the floor of the control center, with no one willing to give her aid. Was she really that much different? Then, I looked down at my own hands. These hands had just extinguished the lifeforce of a living being. Nephilim or not, he was fighting for what he believed in, and he obviously loved her. How much different was he from me?

I took a step backward, still holding out my hands, palms up. What had I done? I was becoming someone that I had never intended to be.

“I’m sorry.” I whispered. “I’m sorry.”

Then, I heard voices coming from the other side of the door. More Nephilim were coming into the garage. My time was up. I had failed. I turned to retreat, but I suddenly considered the boy. I knew that the girl would be OK. She was severely hurt, but I didn’t kill her. However, for her companion, I was afraid that it was too late. I had gotten carried up in the rage of battle, and certainly killed him. Without even knowing what I was doing, I scooped up his body, and sprinted up the ramp and out of the garage. In a flash, I jumped onto the motorcycle I had stolen from Tsalderek, and held on to the boy’s limp form as I sped away from the underground city.

I traveled back to Tsalderek at high speed. During the trip, my mind churned though the situation. I probably had no home waiting for me at the organization where I had grown up. I had been a part of breaking the rules during the final exam, and failed the remedial mission of infiltrating Nahalore. The love of my life was in critical condition, and there was nothing I could do to help her. Then, there was that Nephilim girl that just wouldn’t give up. What was she even fighting for? And finally, I had committed a murder.

Even though I had been trained for the past six years to kill Nephilim, actually doing it just felt…wrong. I had seen the determination and passion of a living soul in his eyes, and felt my hands rip the life right out of him with the snap of his neck. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand the thought of having his body on the bike with me. I knew there was no hope for him. With a shove, the body went tumbling off into the woods. What had I become? What was Tsalderek turning me into?

Even though I knew it was probably a mistake to return to Tsalderek, I had no place else to go. Like it or not, it was my home. My head was very good with directions. Despite the thick woods and unmarked paths, I could easily find my way back to base.

After traveling for nearly an hour, I pulled up to the fence which surrounded the compound. The guard recognized me (and must not have heard that I was kind of a criminal now), and opened up the gate. I nodded a thanks to him. I proceeded to park my vehicle, and head inside the building. I wasn’t sure what to expect, or how to face anyone in the organization, especially Sagar. Somehow, the people I saw didn’t react negatively toward me. Perhaps the news of how the test went hadn’t reached here yet.

“Hey, Milo!” A voice called from a distance to my left.

I flinched immediately, and turned toward the sound. It was Sagar. Brilliant. He made his way over to me, but before he could say a word, I struck first.

“Sagar, I…I’m sorry. I know you said that I could never disappoint you, but I did. I can’t imagine anything worse I could have done. I’m sorry I let you down, but I know you can’t forgive me.”

Although my head was bowed, I could tell by his voice that there was pity in his eyes.

“Milo, there’s nothing I could hold against you. You did what you thought was right, and you did it with all your strength. That really is all I could ask for.”

I looked up to see if he was joking, but there was no mocking attitude on his face. He looked genuinely accepting of me. I didn’t even know what to say, so I remained silent.

My long-time teacher and friend continued.

“Milo. Six years ago I promised that I’d tell you everything when the time was right. Well, I don’t want to wait any longer. You need to know.”

I already had in my head what I thought he would say. Something about me being his long-lost son, and that was how he knew my name and where to find me. But, I stood quietly and patiently waited for him to relay his story.

“19 years ago, there was a forbidden love. A Nephilim from Nahalore fell in love with an agent from Tsalderek. They knew it would never work between them, that their differences were too great, and their organizations were at war. However, they loved each other too deeply to let anything break them apart. So, they both ran away, and began a family. That’s where you came in.”

I could hardly believe what I was hearing. For the past six years, I’ve been told that the purpose of my existence was to eventually purge the earth of these evil Nephilim, and now he’s telling me that I am one?! What the hell was this!?

“Milo, you have Nephilim blood in your veins. I think it’s so strange how-“

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me this before!” I forcibly interrupted.

“I didn’t want tell you before because I was afraid you would run away. You needed to have a strong foundation in the organization. And, I wanted you to be absolutely certain of who you were.”

“Apparently I had no idea.” I scoffed, my voice cracking.

“I wanted you to have confidence in your identity, but I had to tell you this before you were ready. It’s because now, you’re in a situation that demands a big decision, and I want you to know all the information that you can.”

“Why would you-“ I choked on held-back tears. “Why would you lead me on for so long?! Making me believe in some prophecy…when I’m the very one I…”

I couldn’t talk any more for the risk of breaking down.

Sagar gently continued.

“I don’t think this changes anything, Milo. You’re still very much a part of the organization here. And I still believe the prophecy is talking about you. Maybe you’re not what you thought you were. But it isn’t what you are that matters. It’s who you are.”

I couldn’t even speak. Everything I had ever known was a lie. What could I possibly do now?

“I know this is a shock to you. I understand. But there’s one more thing I have to tell you. It’s even more important.” My teacher paused. “Um. You see, I-“

Suddenly, he was cut short by a gruff shout.

“Hey! There he is!”

Two burly agents had turned their heads, and started running toward me. Honestly, I wasn’t certain if I should bother running. Maybe I deserved everything they had planned for Nephilim. I stood stupidly in one place, and waited for them to approach. Sagar was between them and me, standing idly by. Just as they went past him to get to me, he jerked out his arm to deck one of them, and grabbed the other by the collar, gave a low kick to the legs, and threw him to the ground.

“Milo! Go! Get out of here!”

His words snapped me to action. I didn’t know what I’d do, but I had to keep living. If for no other reason, then for Dani. Before making any reckless actions, I needed to see her. I had to make sure she’d be OK. Sprinting back the way I came, I reentered the garage and started looking for another motorcycle. I hopped on the first one I saw, and took off out of the building.

Hm. I’ve stolen so many motorcycles, it’s a wonder they haven’t increased security or something. They really needed to make a change if they wanted to keep any old Joe Schmoe from just rolling off with one. These were the lightest of my thoughts as I rode toward the town of Bindmont.

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