First On Earth

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Part 2 - 6

Lucas was sitting on his chair in front of two dozens of monitors. He worked in the security office when he was in the city, so it was only obvious Leon had him to monitor the cameras. The Eye looked upon every aspect around Eden with its 20 cameras spread out all over the region. The remaining four was installed inside the community, mostly on major buildings. It was his greatest power and its influence became stronger the Lucas had ever imagined, of course, he didn’t expect Leon to realize that either.

“Lucas.”

“Oh, Tyson, come in,” said Lucas as he turned towards the door. “And Tonilia, it’s great to have some people inside such an isolated place.”

“I can’t imagine how lonely it would be when you’re here all by yourself,” Tyson smiled.

“It’s alright, most of the times. There are plenty of things to see,” said Lucas glancing at his monitors. “So, how can I help you?”

“Well, Mia and Nelson are both out scouting, so with the three major guys gone, we thought we should inform any updates to you,” said Tyson. Lucas raised his eyebrows. “We just got message from the Gamings.”

“They’re quite busy these days.”

“Dominion is – was – under attack,” said Tonilia.

“That’s impossible. It wouldn’t take a small army of Hunters to attack the city and if it does have such number, either of us should have noticed it before the assault,” said Lucas incredulously.

“Apparently, both of us missed it. South, west, east gate were destroyed in the process. We’re not certain but the casualties among the Ravens are smaller than we had expected,” said Tyson. “What should we do?”

Lucas couldn’t help a smile.

“Double the security. And we’ll need to hear from Mia and Nelson as soon as possible regardless of Leon’s presence for now,” Lucas ordered. They nodded and headed for the door. “Wait, do you know more about the attack?”

“Yes. It was similar to the Blackout Incident years ago,” said Tonilia. “Except… whoever the Controller of the swarm is, it’s extremely clever. The Hunters didn’t just randomly raid the city. They attacked in an organized sequence: first the generator near the South gate, then the armory near the West and the Crusader headquarters near the east.”

“And how did they repel the attack?”

“Leon was there,” said Tyson tensely. “Scarlet must have been with him.”

“That’s disturbing,” said Lucas. The two frowned. “He’s been visiting the Dominion quite frequently these days. I wonder why he didn’t come back to inform us that the Dominion was under attack rather than helping them defend.”

“Well, I guess he was urgent,” shrugged Tyson uneasily.

“I guess he was,” smiled Lucas.

“Say that again.”

Han stared at Jerrod as if he had seen a ghost. Scarlet froze where she stood, still clutching my sleeves. I glared at him. Jerrod was probably the only one moving. He went over to his desk and pulled out one bundle of printed papers not that thick.

“I said: Michelle Nathans lives,” said Jerrod so casually that I almost killed him too.

“Vincent said –“

“He did. In a sense. And some people might rather call it ‘dead’,” Jerrod spat. His voice sounded bitter. I thought he never had hard feelings for her, why was he so unhappy when he knew she was alive all along?

“Where is she?” I demanded, almost excited with hope. He handed the file. “What’s this?”

“I… would rather not ‘tell’ you about it. You should just see it for yourself,” said the president. “You can leave now.”

“Wait, I want to know how you knew she was alive,” this time, Han said. “Why didn’t you tell me anything?”

“Let’s just say it was above your pay-grade for now,” he said. “You should leave now. I had enough shock for a day. I don’t want to recite this one.”

“I’m not leaving until –“

“Well you are because if you don’t right now, you’ll have to fight your way out of this place,” said Jerrod looking out from his window. “And… you’re too late.”

I rushed to the window. There was Rick with bandages all over his leg. And a whole bunch of Ravens all ready for battle. There were still debris of buildings and small fire burning in residents but I figured they all left that for the normal soldiers. They practically sieged the presidential building.

“LEON VERIDI. YOU ARE TO EXIT THE BUILDING IMMEDIATELY AND RESIGN YOURSELF TO THE EARTH DOMINION. YOUR LIVES WILL BE SPARED IF SO. IF NOT, WE WILL ELIMINTE YOU UNDER DOMINION’S LAW AND JUSTICE,” Rick’s voice boomed from his microphone.

“Can you help us out?” I asked Han. I snatched the file from Jerrod’s desk and handed to Scarlet to put it inside her bag. Damn it, I wish I have more time…

“No. I think you don’t see how weak we are in numbers,” said Han. His voice was shaking, probably from shock. What did I expect…? I grabbed Scarlet’s hand and went out of the building.

Just in front of the door of the building, I saw a large army of Ravens, reminding me how many of them are still alive and able. Scarlet hid behind me and looked down at them from the staircase, glaring and unmoving.


“You know, you won’t always use your sword against Hunters,” said Lucas. He sat on his chair while I sat on a stool.

“What do you mean?”

“You know well enough that Eden and the Dominion are enemies. That means someday, you will have to kill a human being same as yourself,” he said.

“Michelle would never want that. And I would not do it,” I said confidently.

“It’s not about her – I mean there are sometimes situations where you cannot always consider her wills. Of course, what she want might be important to you, but that’s how life is; some cases are just impossible to control just with your willpower,” Lucas explains calmly. “And when that time comes, I just want you to do the right choice.”

“Like what?”

“The Latin phrase scribed on your sword: Mors ultima linea rerum est,” Lucas said. “It means death is everything’s final limit. And the reason you are so powerful is because you wield a tool that can decide one’s final limit.”

I silently unsheathed my blade. The words meant nothing to me until now; well, only because there was no one that could read it.

“Stabbing a sword through a human like you is never easy at first. But like every human behavior, our senses become dull as we repeat,” said Lucas. “You know how fragile our body is. People die easily. So you need to be very careful when you take other people’s lives. It’s like tipping them off a cliff when they’re standing right at the edge.”

“I don’t get it,” I said bluntly.

“It means, you must have a cause you strongly believe if you are really going to murder a human being.”

“And what might that be?”

“That’s for you to decide,” Lucas shrugged. “But make sure you do have one, because if you don’t, the faces of those that died by your sword will haunt you for the rest of you lives.”


“Where’s your helicopter?” I asked quietly.

“Near the north gate where there weren’t many Hunters,” she said. A smart choice, considering the city was overflowing with Hunters about before she landed – but as a result, the decision was not a good one. The direction we were facing was south and our back was headed to the way we wanted to go. The presidential building did have a back door but with Ravens surrounding the place, it didn’t make much a difference. The only way to get back to Scarlet’s helicopter was to fight our way all around the city. On top of that, the North gate was not breached, let alone destroyed, so it was fully functional.

Fight.

That was my only way out. I imagined people dying under my own hands – the very human beings Michelle willed for me to save. No. This was something beyond her wills. It was beyond her words. It was something more… complicated. She would have understood. Even if she wouldn’t, there’s nothing she can do about my choice.

My decision. My burden.

“Stay close with me,” I said to Scarlet. She grabbed my shoulder and opened her mouth like she wanted to say something, but she remained silent. “You okay?”

“I can help – if I had a gun…” her words were hardly audible. My burden to bear.

“Sorry, Scarlet. This is my burden to bear, not yours,” I said bitterly. I unsheathed my sword.

“Is that your answer?” Rick smiled wickedly. He raised his hands and the Ravens raised their guns. I glanced back. The door into the building was barely a foot far. The armor might be able to stand off the bullets to some extent but I couldn’t afford any risk. I expected a bullet shower and I slowly backed stepped and put my hand on the door knob. At least there weren’t anyone to stop us from getting in.

I dived into the building. And a shower of metallic bullets bombarded the building.

“Shit…” I cursed. I felt pain. I glanced down on my side and found a piece of bullet that penetrated through the armor. It didn’t pierce through completely but blood was squeezing out.

“Leon? Are you shot?” she asked worriedly.

“No it’s just a scratch, it didn’t break through the armor,” I said. “Listen, all they want is me dead, not you. So as far as I stay within their sight, they won’t pay much attention to you. You’re going to stay inside this building.”

“No, but!”

“If I’m right, they’ll have to evacuate people in this building anyway. You’re going to escape among the crowd,” I said. She looked hesitative. I grabbed her “Please, can you do that for me?”

She nodded, looking reluctant. Just before I stood back up, she hugged me by the neck.

“Don’t die,” she whispered. Her voice was shaking. She was hiding it as best as she could. She slowly stood up and ran down the empty corridor.

I bullet wound felt like nothing. I stood up. The gunfire ceased a few seconds ago. They must have noticed the building was bullet proof. Once I step out, they will shower another round. Rick already showed how certain he was into killing me already. He will not regard the millions of bullets as wasted. If I could only get close…

Then a sudden thought pierced through my brain; simple fact that I have neglected just because I never knew it: I was born to kill humans, not Hunters. No. More specifically, I was ‘made’ to kill humans.

The thought depressed me.

I bashed myself out, destroying the door that blocked all the bullets. I knew Scarlet was smart enough to figure out her way out of here – the only thing I should worry about her was if any Raven felt like arresting her.

Gunfire burst out instantly. My ears rang wildly. Faster…

The broken debris of the door provided temporary barricade. Then I was close enough to the rows of Ravens to attack.

My sword pierced through the heart of the Raven in front. World’s time slowed down.

The blood was not green. It was bright red. The Raven’s face was covered with a helmet. I only imagined what the person’s face look like.

Blood slid down my blade, touching just the edge of the grip. Then the Raven’s body went limp. His head dived forward and didn’t move. The gun in his hand dropped on the ground.

And everything was back to normal.

“Shit! Kill him!” Rick shouted. They pulled out their swords. Those just around me still tried to shoot me down. My swords pierced their throat first.

Armors were nothing compared to those of the Hunters. I felt it. I felt how Prima slid smoothly into their fragile body – like slicing cheese with a knife.

Glistening whiteness dismantled Ravens around me. Then, springs of blood followed. When I killed Hunters, I rarely saw their blood flying around in the air. But this was horrible. The ground was already soaked in red. I tried not to see the bodies under my feet. Ravens now challenged me with their swords. They had better chance with a gun in a distance, though. Most of them were not inexperienced with such fights – or perhaps any kinds of fight. They only added the number of corpse on the ground.

Rick’s voice disappeared since some point – in fact, I couldn’t see him around. It was only me and the hundreds of Ravens. About a fifth of them died when they became extremely hesitative and careful to attack. I managed to take a breath.

I just noticed how harshly and hoarsely I was breathing. I glanced down at the bodies. My eyes lost focus for a second. What am I…

The blood and corpses made me retch. I bent down like I was going to vomit. I sensed someone from my back and immediately swung my sword. Another Raven died by my hands. What am I doing here? I gasped for breath.

Then the company of Ravens moved aside. Two figures came out from the hesitating crowd. It was funny why nobody was shooting at me, though.

“Leon Veridi,” said one of the two. He smirked. They didn’t have helmets. They looked completely identical. Twins, I thought. He ducked down to my ears. I clutched my sword firmly so I could attack before him. But his hands weren’t even on the hilt. His blade was still inside his sheath. Then he whispered. “Firstborn – or first-made, might me more accurate. Our father was always proud of you.”

“What…?”

“We were personally ‘made’ our father just like you,” he said. “He always gave you the credit of being the masterpiece…”

“Apparently, you’re outdated. Crusaders are stone age bastards,” said the Raven. “Phill and I are here to take your petty lives and prove ourselves to be the masterpiece.”

“Let’s get this over with, Dill. He looks pathetic,” said Phill. Their conversation was disorienting. But somehow, they helped me get my mind straight. I remembered why I was here.

I was here for Michelle and to buy time for Scarlet so that she leaves the city.

I was here to find the truth and truth was what I found.

I wasn’t here to help Han, Jerrod, Vincent or anyone in this city.

I wasn’t here to kill myself.

I was certain not here to get killed by some two idiotic jerks in front of me.

I had my reasons for murder. The reasons were so justified for me that I didn’t need anything else to prove right. That was all I needed for now.

“Sorry, Leon. I guess you have to die here,” said Dill. They both unsheathed their swords.

“Who’s dying?” I asked and swiped my blade across. They were agile – fast – and they avoided the attack.

“That’s more like it!” Phill smiled slyly. He then looked around at the Ravens. “Nobody intercepts our fight or I will kill him myself.”

Idiot.


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