Part 2 - 7
My mind was clear as a crystal. I saw things more clearly, acknowledged them in my brain better than before. But it was still human blood that wet my blade; it was the bright red blood that soaked the ground – that was something that did not change.
I lunged my sword. The twins evaded them with ease and attacked from the sides. Their sword danced over me as I ducked to dodge. Wind screamed where the blade has pierced and it was enough to prove their strength. The other one tried to stab me just when I avoided the first attack. I quickly moved my arm and deflected with my sword.
The two blades vibrated violently. My hands became numb for a second. And without a single moment, another attacked from behind and I had to desperately throw my body over to evade it. Their consecutive attack was too perfect to break.
I had used my ability, and not by a small amount, only very recently. I never thought I would have such problem leaving the city after all I’ve done. But the entire companies of Ravens were not something I expected; nor did I foresee the twins with much more strength than I originally thought. If I were to unleash my power again, it will only exacerbate my physical status. It may not be fatal – maybe just some minor lags in the body, but it was certainly going to hinder my effort to the final destination in the near future.
The twins leaped onto me. Phill dived with his blade’s tip against me and Dill struck from above. I turned my body sideways and bashed my fist onto his face with all my might. When Phill was knocked to the ground, I swiped my sword against Dill. The swords clashed and the impulse was only greater. I couldn’t move. Neither could he. The two of us stood unmoving with swords crossed, pushing each other to overwhelm the opponent. Meanwhile Phill stood back up and dashed towards me. He brandished his sword and blue force of energy was released. I had just the moment to block it but the power had me thrown into the air and crashed onto the ground some distance away.
A small flicker of blueness lingered where the sword had passed through. Phill snickered as if impressed. He swayed his sword in circle and charged right at me with the other one. His – their – face was filled with wicked smiles; they were enjoying all this. Considering how they weren’t normally ‘born’, I guessed it wasn’t entirely their fault.
I skillfully evaded their brainless charge. Their energy was undeniable – infinite, to be a little exaggerative and the eagerness to kill were just as mad as their creator. But that was all there was to them. Like all Ravens, they start at a complete different starting line compared to the Crusaders. But like all Ravens, the twins were arrogant enough to think they are unbeatable. If innate ability was just the starting line, practice and experience was from the starting line all the way to the finish line, including the process of racing down the course.
I unclipped my sheath and held it with my left hand. The twins rebalanced themselves and dashed in from two sides. Time was against me with all the Ravens ‘watching’ us three. I had to show everyone enough shock and awe if I wanted to leave the city with less murder because sooner or later, I will have to fight all of them to win my departure.
Silver energy force sliced through the atmosphere making a clean line so thin that was nearly invisible. My sword found my way through Dill’s shoulder, dissecting through his sword arm while my sheath was inhibiting Phill from bothering me. The slash also reached the edge of the circle of Ravens and killed two as their heart pierced.
I didn’t hesitate to finish Dill off. And soon enough, his soulless… his empty body collided onto the ground with blood pouring out like fountain. I expected some hesitation and turned around.
“Kill him!” Phill ordered in his boisterous voice. There was no remorse, no pain, no sorrow in his voice; only decisiveness and coldness. He didn’t even look at the corpse of his so called twin. His beastly eyes focused only on me and, as I feared, everyone else’s eyes were as well.
An enormous concentration of energy collided with the enemies. A flash of light was blinding and when it calmed down, dozens of Ravens laid dead around me. The Ravens looked reluctant, but Phill knew nothing of giving up. He brandished his sword barbarically and blue force shadowed its movement. I fought back with the appropriate amount of power and the earth shook whenever the two blades kissed its cold steel with another.
Then, a projectile flashed past my left shoulder, scratching the skin open. I screamed out in pain. Phill didn’t lose his chance and struck his sword from above with devilish might. I quickly tackled his leg and escaped from his sword range.
“What the fuxx are you doing?” Phill demanded. “OPEN FIRE!”
My armor was not the newest version, but it at least was designed to be at least 90% bullet proof. But somehow, their bullet managed to penetrate the only shield I had. I gritted my teeth. The Ravens had already backed up some distance away and their rifles directly pointed at me. Phill made the most disgusting crooked smile I’ve ever seen.
“Wait,” Phill said, raising his hand and pointing his sword at my neck. “I’ll give you a choice, Leon Veridi. You can either die nobly under my sword or die in vain under my men’s gun.”
A choice I was to make was none of them.
Then I heard a rattling noise of an engine. Instantly, I understand what was happening and covered myself by lying low on the ground and covered my ears.
And red flame exploded in the middle of the city.
Ground instantly turned into an ocean of ashes. Smoke covered the sky like volcanic ash. Those survived were disoriented.
I saw Scarlet’s helicopter and a ladder coming down from the sky. I ran toward it, finishing off any survivors. More blood stained on my sword.
“LEON! LEON!” Phill yelled from behind. His armor was all burned up. His face was monstrously damaged, yet his movement was enraged, showing no sign of pain.
I had just the time to block his strike. The force pushed me down to the ground on my knee.
Blue energy burst in power and I desperately rolled over. I managed to survive but the attack left a serious cut on my leg. I have to get out of here…
Prima drew a semi-circle against Phill. He blocked it with his sword. Blue and silver energy collided with each other and both of us were staggered backward.
Consecutive usage of ability was new for me but I had no time to think. I felt the heaviness drawing my energy away but that was least of my worries.
A silver line penetrated Phill’s armor in a blink of a second. He staggered but roared towards me again. Steady… I concentrated on his movement. His madness made him predictable.
Silver lines and curves of slashes and swings severed the atmosphere.
And Phill did not move further. His sword shattered into several pieces and his body was horribly dismantled. I refused to look at the remainder. Adrenaline allowed me to grab the end of the ladder. The ladder elevated and I was soon inside Scarlet’s bird, on my way back.
“Lucas!” Tyson shouted as he entered the Eye. “We have a message from the Dominion.”
“Is it about Leon?”
“What does it say?” he asked. “They’re asking us to arrest Leon Veridi and Scarlet Dare for murder.”
“Tell them –“ then he paused. He scratched his head. “Does anyone else know about this? Mia, Numen or –“
“Mia, Numen and Kale are out scouting the perimeter like Leon told them to,” said Tyson. “Should I contact them to…”
“No,” Lucas snapped. “Does it specifically say what he did?”
“This file was also sent to us, along with a note from... Director Rick. I haven’t seen it yet,” Tyson handed him a digital tablet. Lucas tapped onto the linked file and instantly, a paper-scanned printing popped up.
FILE NO. 1 LEON VERIDI – ULTRA CLASSIFIED
I woke up.
I was in the middle of the woods. I looked around and saw a small wooden shack surrounding me. I felt the ground; soft. It was dried grass and some hay.
I tried to stand up, not know what I was doing. Then, pain struck me down. I cried in pain and instantly, Scarlet ran inside.
“You’re finally awake…” she said. Her voice sounded exhausted. In her hands, was a handful of fruits. She handed some for me. “You better eat.”
“Where are we?”
“While you were busy running your kingdom, I spent time making… this,” she shrugged. It wasn’t exactly an ideal wooden cottage in picture books but it does seem to serve as a fine shelter. “You were out for nearly three days.”
“Then why are we here?” I asked. Her expression was rigid. “Did something happen to the helicopter?”
“No, the helicopter is fully operational, but I’m afraid the there is no proper landing zone for it to land,” she said with a sigh. “You should ask them when they come back. They’re more informed than I am.”
“…” It was my leg that was injured but my head started to ache instead. “Who is ‘they’?”
Scarlet glanced outside the shack.
I looked out. Three of them: Numen, Mia and Kale were walking toward us with a boar on their back.
“Looks like we’re not going to starve today,” she murmured.
The three of them acted so casually that Scarlet seemed strange when she had acted like something very unfortunate happened. Night came fast in the forest and Numen made the fire while Mia and Kale readied the boar for supper. I watched them cook our meal blankly.
We hardly spoke a word with each other, as if we all met each other for the first time. When we were eating the meat, nobody dared to speak up.
“So…” I broke the ice that was extremely irritating me. “What happened? Why are we – and you guys – out here in the middle of the forest?”
They nudged each other as if avoiding saying something themselves.
“Eden is lost,” said Kale finally. “Taken.”
“By the Dominion? Their forces are not fully –“
“No, not by the Dominion but… “ he stammered. “Lucas staged up a revolt.”
“You and those who follow you,” Mia said instead. “There were more of us… if that helps you…”
I lost my words. The feeling was indescribable and what was happening was unimaginable. I never, not even once, thought of Eden self-destructing from the inside, let alone from the most trusted adviser. All the planning, all the work and achievement, and all the legacy and sacrifice I’ve done were swept away like waves washing away the sands. I laughed cynically. Without realizing how hungry I was, I left the small cottage with others behind. Thankfully, nobody followed me.
I sat on the grass, leaning onto a thick oak tree. The forest was dark and the only light was the dim moonlight, squeezing its way through the leaves and the warm flame from the shack. Silent was the woods. Cold was the air. Despite the peacefulness, I was not able to stay calm. Somewhere outside the forest, Eden was being ruled by someone I never imagined to revolt against me. The one who counselled me all these days, right by my side. And the Dominion… they should be searching for me by now, since they know I’m injured, they assume it’s the best time to kill me.
“Leon,” Scarlet’s voice startled me. Her face was unrecognizable from the dark. She handed me a bundle of file printed in paper. “I’ve read it while you were out. It’s your turn.”
“I don’t think it’s the best time, really,” I said reluctantly.
“Now may be the only time for you to read this without any disturbance,” she said. Then she slowly sat down beside me. “Besides, this very file was the cause of Lucas’s coup’s success.”
“I can guess why,” I said solemnly as I flipped open the cover.
It was perhaps the greatest facility Eden had and the worst. One could maintain a bird’s eye view of the town and its surrounding. The cameras are so sophisticatedly installed that they are very hard to find, yet provide vision to the necessary.
Ultimately, it was Leon’s biggest mistake to have Lucas in charge of such technology.
Even after Lucas took hold of the town, its people and its military power, he did not show himself to the public for long. He went inside the Eye, as he always did, and watched.
Suddenly phone rang from his side. Lucas picked up immediately as if he expected it.
“How’s your day, old man?” a low voice of a man was heard from the telephone.
“Never better, director,” said Lucas.
“You don’t have to act all formal. This line is secure,” he said.
“Great. I was sick of acting like this to my son,” spat Lucas.
“Well father, it’s almost over. Once the Dominion takes over Eden, you’ll live the rest of your lives in prosperity beyond that you experienced in the Ark,” the man said in confidence.
“We’ll see. I don’t want you to disappoint me again,” Lucas said.
“Dammit! That was totally not my fault. The stupid Ravens –“
“You were always good with excuses. I don’t care what those new freaks did. You failed to kill or capture either of the two even though I taught you the exact plan to do so. Instead, you lost much of your stupid Ravens and two of your best ones. I call that an absolute failure. What do you call it?”
“…” the man on the other side was furious but did not say more.
“Anyway, what is done is done. Do this job correctly and maybe you can prove yourself somewhat useful to me,” the old man said.
“I’m counting on you Rick. Don’t be a disgrace to our family.”