The elevator ride seemed unnecessarily long. The three of us stood in awkward silence for what seemed like hours. The twins were blown away at what their past contained, and I had no idea what anyone could say in a situation like this. So, I didn’t say anything. They both wiped tears from their eyes and pretended they were unaffected by the news. After a long pause, Milo had recovered enough to speak.
“So…you won’t be able to get into R-rated movies for another-“
“SHUT UP!! I swear I’ll make sure you make good on your bet! The whole icy-underwear-clown-teapot thing! Enjoy your gloating now, but you won’t be laughing after we get out of here!”
I knew the pair well enough to understand that their fighting was all good-natured, but sometimes they worried me a little.
“Hey, guys? Why does it really matter who’s older? I mean…”
They both glared at me, and I could see that they wouldn’t be listening to reason on this particular subject.
“Gotcha. Very important. Yes.”
A short time later, the elevator opened. We walked through a short passage and pushed open a large door. A scene of horrible carnage awaited us. The Bowden twins, Eli and Raphael, both lay dead and partially dismembered on the floor. There was blood everywhere, and there were signs of a struggle.
Milo crouched down to take a closer look, and shook his head sadly.
“These were Razo’s bodyguards. What could’ve happened…”
Although sickened by the sight of the room, I had an idea of what may have occurred.
“Um, the scorpion guy was chasing them earlier. Maybe he-“
“Takeji? He’s down here? How’d he get past…”
That didn’t matter. The three of us hurried through the morbid landing into the next room. There was no way to know what would lay ahead. This room was empty, so we dashed onward. With a crash, we blasted through the next door into a huge room. To our shock, it was a near replica of the chapel back at Nahalore where we had fought Doshi! I doubted this was part of the original construction of the cookie factory. A man with a dark cloak that completely veiled his features stood in the center of the room. Off to one side lay the battered body of the cyborg, Takeji. Milo glanced with pity at him, before turning back to the commander.
“You…You’re working for Teklos…aren’t you Razo?”
The man didn’t say a word, but with excessive slowness, he reached up and began to remove his hood. I wasn’t sure what he was doing. He hadn’t left Tsalderek for years, why would anyone care who was hiding beneath the cloak for all that time? I had no idea why he would bother to reveal his identity. That is, until I saw his face.
Milo and Sera both gave me strange looks, but I hardly noticed. I was absolutely dumbsmacked. How…
My father ignored me.
“No…Shadowy One… I am Teklos!”
“Pleased to meet you Teklos. I’m Sera.” The girl sarcastically introduced herself, holding out her hand.
My father glared at her.
“He said you were an idiot, but I never expected this.”
“Doshi.” Milo guessed.
The robed man nodded.
“He was our informant. Although his allegiances laid elsewhere, I was able to use his position of authority to influence Nahalore’s activity.”
“And Cardinal Hobbes?” Sera asked. “Was he your puppet too, feeding people doctrine that turned them into self-righteous hateful boobs?”
My father made a disgusted face.
“No. He was polluted enough by thousands of years of Nahalore’s ridiculous teaching. I just let him continue to deceive them until we had no more use of him.”
My father nodded again.
“I had Urlacher put a bullet in his brain as well after he finished Doshi.”
“You do like killing people, don’t you?” Sera pointed out.
“It doesn’t matter. All of you are going to die soon anyway.”
“How long have you been in control of Tsalderek?” Demanded Milo.
“Around 20 years, now. Every mission and every action taken by either side was under my orchestration, until you two came along. I was constantly using each side to keep the other in check. When it seemed that one side was growing too strong, I would instigate a purge to even it out, just as my fathers have done before me for thousands of years. Tsalderek hasn’t always been ruled by someone from Teklos. Sometimes Teklos has ruled Nahalore, or neither side at all. But we were always there, observing, making sure the prophecy would never be complete.”
“How is that possible?!” I questioned. “You lived in Teklos’ headquarters with Tabal and me, and all the men…”
“My idiotic daughter.” He addressed me without endearment. “Didn’t it seem like I was gone quite a lot? Where did you think that I went? Las Vegas? I had to make appearances here every so often. My specially chosen advisors usually kept an eye on things for me. The past six years it’s been the Bowden twins. They’ve served me well.”
“They’re dead, by the way.” Milo mentioned.
“I can always get new ones.”
“I don’t understand.” Sera still pressed for more information. “Why is Teklos so obsessed with stopping the prophecy from becoming true?! It’ll bring nothing but good for everyone!”
“Hm. You always want answers. Fine. I’ll give you a little history lesson. This will give an answer to every question you’ve ever had.
“Over 3,000 years ago, a seraphim fell in love with a human woman. Their relationship was forbidden by heaven and earth, but they didn’t care. She conceived a set of twins, a boy and a girl. The girl possessed elemental powers, an earth-caller according to the legends. The boy did not. He, however, was an incredible combatant and revolutionary inventor. These children eventually grew older and started families. I suppose there’s no need for me to say that they became Nahalore and Tsalderek. Yes, everyone within both organizations is a Nephilim. Every once in a great while, someone from Tsalderek randomly develops elemental powers, but I’ve only seen one in my lifetime.”
“Rachael.” Milo realized.
“Yes, Rachael. Have you killed her yet? No? Too bad. Well, I’ll get her later. Nahalore and Tsalderek are all brothers and sisters, which is what makes the hatred between the two so hilariously amusing.
“A rivalry grew between these siblings and their descendants, which eventually matured into all-out war. My ancestors found a mysterious text now known as the Book of Prophecy. No one knows who wrote it or when, but the book is said to have contained the secrets to unlocking ultimate power. It was then that Teklos was founded. The sole purpose of our existence was to prevent the prophecy from ever being completed. If either Nahalore or Tsalderek got ahold of it, they could rule the world. Unfortunately, one of our own became corrupt with greed for the power, and attempted to follow the words of the prophecy to complete it.
“That’s when my forefathers decided to strip the words from the Book; so no one would ever be able to obtain such power. We couldn’t destroy the book though. The thing about a Prophecy is that it is destined to be complete. Early Teklos came up with a way that the words could be resummoned if the need ever came for us to read the prophecy, and determine exactly how to stop it. No human being had read a word of the prophecy for thousands of years.
“However, certain bits and pieces have been passed down through the generations. That’s how we knew of the eminent coming of the Fiery One and Shadowy One, and the conditions of their appearance. I never dreamed it would happen in my lifetime though. Everything could have been fine, Teklos keeping the earth at peace forever. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with humans here.
“At the coming of the Christ, my forefathers feared that if the two organizations learned the truth, they would cease fighting and together, crush Teklos out of existence. Then all would be lost. Instead, they fed each side twisted versions of the truth, intentionally turning them into elitist self-righteous snobs who would further hate everyone apart from their own organization.
“In like manner, we distributed the prophecy. We told each side lines of the prophecy to give them false hope. It would also assist Teklos in finding the Prophesied Children when they were born. Now, all I have to do is kill you, and all will be finished. In a way, the lines that said ‘When the Fiery One appears, the world will soon be purged’ and ‘When the Shadowy One appears, the world will soon be cleansed’ were true. Soon there will be no Nephilim left in the world. You see, I’m on the side of God here. You are all evil abominations. And you will die.”
Sera crossed her arms.
“Wh-what do you mean?!” Father thundered. “Everything I told you is 100% historical fact! I did not lie!”
“Yeah, ya did. You said all of my questions would be answered, but they weren’t. I still have one.”
“Oh? What is it?”
“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”
“I hate you.”
“Father.” I began. “Is that why you wanted Tabal to reveal the prophecy? So you could use the information to kill Milo and Sera, and stop the prophecy from being completed? Is that why she had to die?”
His look softened slightly.
“I never wanted her to die. If only she could have understood that I was only working for the good of mankind, she wouldn’t have had to be killed. However,” He glared at me. “I don’t care for you at all. At first I wanted to recapture you to reveal the words for me, but then I decided to have Doshi try to figure it out, so I could just kill you and be done with it. But he failed.”
Father raised his voice.
“Everyone always fails me! Part of the prophecy that made it through the years said that the Prophesied Children would be born of a union between Flame and Shadow, Nahalore and Tsalderek. I knew Eva and Thomas had the potential of being the parents, and tried to have Sagar kill them, but he failed! I’m surrounded by idiots!”
“I don’t believe one bit of this.” Milo muttered. “You’re lying.”
“Milo, look into my eyes, and see if I’m lying. The truth speaks for itself.”
“Hold on. Lemme see for a second.”
Sera butted in, and walked up very close to the man, gazing directly into his eyes.
“Hm…wait a minute! Wait a minute! I think I see something! I think I-“
She used the opportunity to blow a puff of air into his eye. He blinked frantically and pulled back quickly like a snake.
“DAMN YOU, you piece of filth! That’s it! I’ve had enough of everyone failing me! I will take care of this myself!
He threw back his robes to reveal…nothing special really. He just wore what appeared to be normal undergarments beneath, including a plain white t-shirt and a pair of green boxers.
“Hm. It would appear I left my awesome battle gear in my other suit.”
Just then, the teleporter woman from before walked into the room from a back entrance. Huh! A secret way down. Maybe that’s how my father got in and out without anyone knowing. She was accompanied by another scorpion cyborg, this one looking more machine than man. He still had the familiar metallic tail. He also had claws, unlike Takeji.
“Geoffrey?” wondered Milo. “What have they done to you?”
“Excuse me, sir.” The teleporter inserted. “The preparations have been made. It’s time for you to go.”
“Ah, excellent timing. I assume you’ve met Mara Thomas?” Father introduced. “She’s the commander of my forces. Dorian Peterson is her direct subordinate, and Zachary Urlacher is just below him in rank. Now, Mara, will you please exterminate these three? And don’t fail me, OK?”
“Yes sir. You know no one has ever fought me and survived.”
“Right. Come on, Geoffrey. We have some things to take care of.”
“Hey!” Milo yelled. “Where are you going?”
“It no longer concerns you. I won’t be seeing you again. Goodbye, Hal. I wish I could stay and watch you die, but unfortunately, I have business to attend to.”
In a moment he had left through the door where Mara had entered.
The teleporter drew her Katana, and calmly turned it over in her hand.
“I can hardly believe my brother’s kids are the Prophesied children. That makes me your aunt. Keeping it in the family, I guess.”
“Hey, didn’t Sagar say that all of our family died, except for the two of us?” Sera asked.
“And me. I was able to escape. Why do you think I joined Teklos? I want to get revenge on Nahalore for exiling my family, and Tsalderek for killing them all! They will all pay, starting with you.”
“But, we are your family.” Sera reminded her, but it didn’t look like the woman could be swayed.
“There are sacrifices one must be willing to make.” She stated, then disappeared.
“Heads up, guys!” Sera called out. “She’s extremely dangerous!”
Suddenly, Mara was directly behind us, and swung her sword as swiftly as a guillotine blade. I put up a force field in the nick of time. The woman took a step back. The instant I dropped my shield, Milo sprung forward with a flying side/back combination kick. His target had disappeared though, and reappeared across the room.
“Huh. Force field girl. Where does your power come from?” Mara enquired. “Are you a Nephilim?”
“Um… not that I’m aware of. I have no idea where this power comes from. I just…do it.”
“Ah. Thank you. I was just wondering.” She then disappeared again.
I put up the defensive bubble, and looked around to see where the woman would reappear. Suddenly, she appeared within my force field!!
“Yah!” I shouted, and jumped backward as she attempted to cut me with her deadly sword.
Milo took a swing at her, but she blocked, hit him with the handle of her sword, and teleported behind him, still within the shield. She kicked low, and was about to stab him when Sera rushed forward. The woman teleported outside of my force field, causing Sera to crash into its wall. She then teleported back inside with a downward chop toward Milo. I dropped the large shield, and formed a small one between my two hands to block the attack. Then, I quickly increased its size, sending her flying backward.
How is she getting inside my shield!? What am I even supposed to do about that?! Milo activated the electrical stun weapon on his semi-broken Survivortex and charged in on the attack. She ran to her right for a few steps, then teleported. She reappeared behind him, but he was expecting that. He swung his fist toward where he knew she would appear, but her reflexes were fast enough to allow her to dodge. Then, she swung her sword, but he blocked with his wrist device. Unfortunately, the blow destroyed what systems were still operational, and with a flick of her katana, Mara tossed its remains across the room.
Suddenly, she appeared next to Sera and me. Sera quickly retaliated with a series of whirling flame attacks. Surprisingly, Mara did not teleport, but dodged and flipped backward. I thought I saw her flinch to move, so I put up my shield. The woman looked at me, then took two steps back, and teleported again, appearing right behind me in my shield. I withdrew my shield, and ducked under her horizontal attack. In an instant, she was gone again.
Huh. I think I’m getting this…
“Hey Milo!” I called out. “She’s technically your aunt, right?”
“That would appear to be the case!” he replied, barely dodging an incoming attack.
“I think her teleporting works like your shadow-caller strength! She can only teleport through shadows!”
The twins thought about that for a second.
“Ohhh…that makes sense.”
Then, Sera got excited about something.
“Guys! Stand by me!”
We all got near Sera. She extended her hands out, and released a burning flame, with which she traced a large circle around us.
“There! Mara was using shadows from pillars and stuff to teleport wherever she wanted. But within this circle, she can’t use her power!”
“Nice!” I complimented.
Just then, the woman jumped and did a corkscrew flip-twist through the flames, and faced us.
“Not bad, guys. I wish my orders weren’t to kill you. Even though I’m your aunt, we’re only a few years apart. We could be friends. And I really hate to kill my boss’s daughter. But orders are orders.”
She pulled her sword out again, and slowly walked toward us. Sera formed a fireball and whipped it at the woman. She sliced through it with a calm slash, and kept approaching.
“Any ideas?” I asked.
“Ah, we got her where we want her!” Sera confidently declared.
Mara quickly thrust her weapon forward, and then across when we dodged. I formed a force field, but she was so fast that the shield formed around the sword, catching it just inches from Sera’s stomach.
“Are you sure about that?” I imitated John Cena’s voice.
“Aw yeah. She doesn’t really want to fight anyway. We just have to rough her up a little.”
Before Mara was able to remove her katana from my shield, Milo rushed her, so she had to let go of it and defend herself barehanded. I grabbed onto the sword and released the bubble, so I ended up holding it. She obviously wanted it back, because she came on the attack. Sera stood in her way, and engaged her with flaming strikes. Mara attempted to block, but the fire burned her. Instead she just dodged around her, and continued coming for me. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I threw the weapon across the floor, until it skidded to a stop just inside the ring of fire.
Suddenly, I had an idea.
“Hey Sera!” I cried, running toward her. “Gimme a boost! Milo! Service!”
“Ah! Gotcha! Set point!”
She interlocked her fingers and held her hands out in front of her. I hopped one foot onto them, and pushed off as she tossed me up into the air. It was surprised how high she could throw me. I tucked myself into a cannonball shape and created a tight bubble around myself as Milo jumped as high as he could. Then, he punched the shield with all his strength while Sera coated it with fire. This sent me careening diagonally at the ground toward our adversary as a flaming projectile.
Mara dodged, but the explosive impact sent her flying some distance out of the ring of fire. When we followed outside, she was nowhere to be seen, but she had left her sword.
I held out both of my hands to the twins, and they simultaneously gave me a high five.
“Oh yeah. That was good.”
Just then, Milo remembered Takeji. As fast as he could, he sprinted over to where the man lay. After a quick examination, the boy determined that he was still alive.
“Takeji, what happened? Stay with us!”
One of Takeji’s eyes opened.
“Hey! Is that you, buddy? Don’t leave me! You’re alright! You’ll be alright!”
“Liar…” The mortally wounded man smiled slightly.
“You’re back! You’re in control again!”
“I don’t know what happened. I…I saw the bastards that killed Trinity…back then. And I remembered…everything. So I sent them to hell…piece by piece…and I’m gonna join them…and kill them some more…”
“Is Trinity there waiting for you!?”
“No…she’s…too good to go to hell…but I’m not…”
“You’re right, Trinity’s not in hell, but it’s not because of how good she was. It’s because of what she believed! Do you remember what she believed?! What you used to believe?!”
Takeji looked thoughtful for a moment.
“Yeah…something about saved by grace…because of Christ’s death. What a…bunch of shit.”
“TAKEJI, listen to me. You’ve gotta believe it. Whaddaya have to lose?”
The dying man didn’t respond.
“Let’s say you believe it, and she’s wrong. You aren’t out anything. You’re already heading for hell, and you didn’t lose anything. But if she’s right… and you can be saved by what you believe, then you can spend eternity with Trinity, and be forgiven of everything you’ve done, both what you remember, and when you were under Teklos’ control.”
“Just believe that Jesus Christ already died for all of your sins, no matter how bad they were, and you can be forgiven at last!”
“OK. I believe. I guess maybe…I always knew did.” He choked, and closed his eyes, too decimated to even move his head. “Trinity was right. She was always right.”
“That’s great, man. Say hi to her for me, will you?”
“Before you go, who did this to you? What happened?”
“Well…after I took care of... those…guys, I went for…the commander. But he…turned off my cybernetics…and I was done. He said he…had… a new attack dog, one with improved technology and less reason…to fight back. And he sicced him on me.”
“Yeah. Poor kid.” Takeji swallowed, his eyes still closed. “Anything else…?”
“No. No that’s good. Thank you my friend.”
“No, thank you.”
A smile slowly came to Takeji’s lips. “Hey…Trinity…”