The Blessed

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Chapter 2

The man sighed as he scrapped a hardly sharpened knife over his chin. He didn't wince as he scrapped a little too hard. He looked at his face, cold hard lined with frustration, as he eliminated the salt and pepper covering his chin. He looked at his face; the lower part was covered by scraps of metal drafted into his bone.

"Hurt just as bad then as well," he muttered to himself, pushing back a few gray strands. His long, dust-covered hair was a stringy mess. Then he was as well, long and stringing and half dead. He walked through the wooded home he had built; the clang of his right metal leg pounded on the wood as he came to a chair and sat down in a twined-up wooden chair. He looked out a broken window, a small stick lined in a mound of dirt.

"Dad?" came a voice. He frowned and turned over to look at his boy, her boy. Daean Noncure, his mother's boy, all the way to his heart! He opened the door cheerful as usual. He sat down and dug into his breakfast; he smiled as he bit into his food and flashed his warm brown eyes up.

"Ignorant fool," muttered the man, a small smirk lining his face as he pushed the cracked plate into a rusted sink and went outside to work what little farm he could keep alive.

"I was thinking of, you know, working in your workshop if that's okay?" asked Daean. The man turned a moment and frowned.

"Fine, stay out of trouble," grunted the man as he shut the rusted door behind him. Daean's father grunted as he grabbed a brown work vest and took a stained and worn black hat over his head. Straightening out his gray long-sleeved shirt, he stuffed a pair of gloves in his back pocket as he went out to work. He turned back at his house, grabbing a worn and pink-stained black cowboy hat. He looked at it in his hand and gave a small smile. "He's too much like you." He sighed as he put the hat over his head.

Daean watched his father leave. He adjusted his holy black shirt and walked outside to the shop in the backyard. Daean looked around. His father was watering the small area he had planted what few crops he could manage every year. They had one source of water: a small rusted metal pipe connected to the town's reservoir. Each person was given limited water, and the whole town pooled their food together in a rather successful attempt to keep alive.

Daean gave a small smirk as he looked over at a small workshop where his father kept all the junk he had collected over the years. He opened the small shed as he looked at all the bits of technology he had found over the years. He adjusted his black fingerless gloves and got to work. The boy played with the computer gear slowly as he looked over the metal chip. The small workshop consisted of all sorts of knickknacks to play with. He sat down in a wood chair as he looked over a battery. He tossed it in his hands as he looked over all the little bits of tech.

"Having fun?" asked a female voice. Daean looked over as he leaned back in the chair

"Alicia, fancy meeting you here," the young man said smiling as he tossed the battery onto the pile of junk. He pushed his black hair out of his eyes. "So you here to see me?" he asked, spinning the rusted chair around childishly.

"Well, I think that was the point of coming here," Alicia replied as she put her hands on her hips.

"Not to see my half dead old man. I swear he gets more and more hollow with each passing season," the boy replied. She gave a sad smirk as she let her hands drop.

"True, but what does he have to live for?" she asked as she pushed back her long brown hair.

"Tomorrow?" Daean shrugged as he threw up his tanned hands. "Wouldn't know- he's been like that as far back as I can remember."

"So three seconds ago," she joked as flashing her hazel eyes at him. She looked back as her olive complexion seemed to shine in the blistering heat. She straightened out her brown vest over her white shirt. Daean turned his head a moment as he looked at his brown pants and shoes in a desperate attempt to avert his eyes.

"Like what you see?" she asked as she swayed her hips a bit.

"No," said Daean as he got up and dusted of his black shirt and turned away. She rolled her eyes as she looked at the battery he was playing with. She picked it up, then tapped the positive side.

"Ouch!" she yelped as she dropped the battery, where it rolled off her chest to settle on the floor.

"Stay out that stuff," commented Daean as he turned to see her stumbling over the battery. She tossed the battery back up, back onto the desk of the old shack. She put her hands behind her back and mustered up an innocent smile.

"Sorry," replied Alicia as she walked out,

"Must you get into everything?"

"Yes," she answered. He shook his head as he escorted her out, then closed the door behind them.

"What am I going to do with you," he asked giving her an amused glance.

"Let me know when you figure that one out."

The father was working in the field when he watched the two walk out together. "Just like we use to, so blind that boy. My boy, you really are ignorant. This is hell on earth, yet you find a reason to be happy." the older man scratched at his chin, stripping the rust off the metal bits on his face. "There's a moral in that," muttered the man as he watched his son trip and fall on the hard ground. "Then again, maybe not." The father shook his head as he dug his shovel into the ground. He watched the pair walk down the dirt road into the town.

"Excuse me, sir," asked a female voice. The man whipped around and swung his shovel. The figure was there one moment then gone the next. "Relax if I wanted you dead, you would be. Now where is your son?" asked the figure, the brown cloak concealing any features. The figure held both hands in a motion of surrender.

"You ain't getting anything out of me," muttered the man as he swung again, but the figure vanished again. "Damn it, a blessed, just what I need to deal with," the man muttered

"I will find him," whispered the brown cloaked figure as she disappeared into the wind. Slam-the figure dropped as the shovel came down on her head. The father picked the figure up, and a picture dropped to the ground. Slowly bending down as the metallic limbs creaked, he picked it up. It was an old and worn picture of his son and his only friend. He took out the same picture taken days ago. He looked at her, then with a quick adjustment, walked back to the house.

He dropped the figure on his bed and inspected the photo. He set it down on the nightstand. He went to the kitchen, and walking over to the counter, he quickly pulled out a safe. The metal was pristine and had a shine to it. He quickly turned the knob, opening the small safe. Wiping his hands, he took out a small file containing the picture he had paid for him as well as for Alicia and his son. He re-entered his room, tossing the picture next to the other – a perfect match.

Alicia and Daean walked together along the dirt road in silence. As they walked closer to town, passing more and more people with all manner of clothing and metallic parts, they saw that most people used metal to help cover wounds that wouldn't heal. In a cataclysmic event sent by Kami about a hundred years ago, the western half of the world was wiped out, and since then, those closer to the point of origin would lose skin, bones would go soft, and one would feel extremely weak, followed by death. Most people had taken to using technology that Kami had given to the world to replace limbs and cover up wounds that wouldn't heal.

Dirty looks became apparent. Both friends were unharmed by the environment. Some believed that those who believed in Kami and his ways were blessed and unharmed by whatever was causing the losses. These people were called blessed. Most that were blessed were allowed into Eden, the home of Kami himself and the biggest city in the world. Eden was called a paradise, rumored that the world was served to perfection and misery was an emotion not a state of feeling. As such the opposite was true. The uglier you were, the farther you were pushed away from the great city, thus being forced to live closer to what people called the origin point. As such made it worse Daean heard his father and mother had seen Eden, but they were kicked farther and farther away. Each time they were forced to move, the two got worse and pushed farther away. He had heard that he was the reason for his mother's death, her coming so close to the origin point in such a weak state and then childbirth. He and his father never spoke on the matter, but he felt that his father blamed him for it.

The town itself was of no name and no origin; it seemly existed and always had been. No names since people were more concerned with living or drowning their sorrow. Made of wood and rusted metal, it was a one-street town with no hope. Everything was either moving or covered with dust. The echo of metal and wood came to life as they started to walk among the porches of the town buildings.

"Hey, you okay?" she asked, snapping him out of his thinking; he turned to his friend and gave her a smile.

"Just fine," he lied, as they passed by the small inn and the bank. The two walked up to the wood planks and walked past the small-town folks. The group got close to the bar at the other side of the town almost finishing their first lap. Daean look ahead to see a small group of his peers. He lowered his head and tried to walk past unhindered. He braced himself when he felt two hands push up against his shoulder. He was pushed against a weak rail and then he collapsed into the main road head over heels. Landing on his back he looked up at the five individuals.

"Well, it's the weak little pretty boy," taunted one as he flexed a large mechanical arm in pride –a replacement limb that was clumsy but strong.

"Playing in the dirt again, you little boy?" commented a second, wincing from some static from his mechanical arm. The three older men howled with laughter as their attention turned elsewhere.

"Come on, what's a pretty girl like you hanging with a weakling like that?" they howled on as he made a come on. Daean's eyes flashed with electricity as he glared at one of the three idiots.

"Sorry, I don't date immature fools," she growled, and she flashed a quick glare at one. Daean got back up to his feet. The man with the new arm used his finger to push him back in the dirt as the machine hummed.

"Whatever, but if you feel like hanging out with real men for a change, you know where to find us." The three men laughed as they walked off. She held out her hand, as Daean took it to get back up, as a jolt of electricity shocked her. Daean fell backwards then stumbled back to his feet. He gave her a questioning look as she sucked on one of her fingers.

"You always gave bad jolts when you were mad. With you around, it wouldn't be hard to find any lost socks," joked Alicia. He gave her a mocking smile. "Damn, that one really hurt, you know," she said, shaking her hand to numb the pain.

"Sorry," Daean apologized. Alicia smiled as she waved it off. The pair walked on as more people brushed into them. Daean felt the scraps add up as metallic limbs scratched up against him. His arms were scratched all to hell. As it is his legs were almost always bruised. The metallic parts always give an increase of strength; some people got the attachments simply for that reason. Those with a pretty face, especially the boys, were usually the ones teased. Daean wasn't the only target around here, for a few others were blessed, but Daean was sure the reason he got more attention was because of Alicia. Women left unmarred were usually subjected to being hit on by every single guy in town and hated by every woman, and most usually left for cities closer to Eden.

"Now that I think about it why do you stay here, putting up with the constant idiots?" asked Daean.

"What do you mean?" Alicia answered as the two walked on a bit further, passing a barbershop. "That's just something I ignore on a regular basis. Besides, they're just ticked I hang out with you no matter how 'manly' they get. Besides every town has its jerks."

"That's not what I meant. I know what holds me here – its family, but you don't have any as far as I can remember. Well, I don't know where you live, come to think of it," Daean mused as Alicia started to slow down. "I am a really bad friend if I don't even know where you live," he growled to himself as he shook his head. Alicia seemed to relax a bit.

"That's because you never asked."

"'Cause you always found me before I started looking, and you always seemed to know what I was right about to do."

"That would be a woman thing."

"Maybe either that or I'm gullible enough to believe any excuse you can come up with," the young adult said, laughing. She chuckled halfheartedly as the two walked on, up one side and down the other, one talking the other listening. The two joked as they walked up and ran into the only law enforcer in the area.

"Morning, Sheriff Tom," greeted Daean.

"Staying out of trouble I hope," sighed the old man.

"Yes, sir," Daean answered, giving a mock salute.

"I have heard a band of bandits been causing some trouble in the area, so keep to the town and your home, okay?" the sheriff advised, lighting a pipe. "They still giving you trouble?" asked Tom, as he looked over at a small group laughing and pushing each other around.

"Nothing worth throwing them in slammer over," Daean answered.

"Wish I could do more than make it worse for you," said the man as he tossed away a dead match.

"About those bandits, you sure it's not just rumors? Sounds odd they usually keep to the nomads," pondered Daean.

"Smart, it's been subtle, but they have been getting bolder. It's got the few law men out there worried," said the man frowning. "With the druids hiding in Europe, and the MRF and Angels keeping to their respected cities, well, never mind. There is no sense in you kids worrying over rumors. Get out of here, and go enjoy yourselves."

The two walked away back down the one-street town.

"You know what seems odd?" the young man asked his friend. She smiled and shrugged.

"There are always rumors about that sort of thing. What I have heard," she looked around a moment and continued, "Angels, they say, there is a group in the area." Alicia had a grin on her face.

"Now that's a rumor if I ever heard one." Daean chuckled as he started to walk away.

"It's the truth," she pleaded. "It's true. Hey, look a guest!" Alicia said pointing out. A man with a long black trench coat walked past the two, wearing a pair of really dark camo pants and leather boots. The man had long scraggly brown hair, and a short beard covered up most of his face, He had piecing green eyes. A stranger like him got more eyes than the two ever did. He walked past down then crossed over to the other side of the road. What stood out the most was his sheathed katana and his holstered gun. While the gun was a normal .45 caliber, its opposite katana was a work of art, even sheathed. The hilt was gray and styled similar to a broadsword: the grip was grooved into cylinders as well as a grooved area for better grip. The sheath started where the hilt ended; metal started the base but soon met a dark glittering blue. It ended with the metal forming around the very end in two "U" like shapes bottom to bottom, the blue glittering between the metal shapes.

"Hello," Alicia shouted as she waved at the man. The man turned to see her, giving a small wave back, quickly going back to his own thoughts.

The pale and unmarked man met with the sheriff, an unusual combination in an area filled with a burning sun. The two glanced around before turning to go inside. The young man waved his hand "let's go, no sense in staring at him. Want to hang out at the mountains," offered Daean. Alicia nodded and smiled as the two walked on.

The mountains were a structural anomaly. A hundred years ago, the land in the area was greatly twisted, and the small range was perhaps the only thing of beauty in the area. Daean leaped up on a rock, walking along, leaping from one to the next, the sun still high in the sky above.

"That stranger was very pale. Wonder why he was so white," said Daean, "Kind of like Dad."

"You're white too you know," Alicia reminded.

"Really?" he asked looking down at his hands. Daean blinked. "Well, what do you know? So that means that there are three white people I know now."

"Congratulations," Alicia said clapping with a bemused grin on her face.

"Thank you." Daean bowed.

The two sat down on the cliff; the sun was just setting as the earth glowed under the sun. Alicia rubbed her forehead as the two looked down at the town below. The rocks gave off a soft green glow as the rocks became warm. The two sat down there, feet dangling of the cliff; a grave was not too far away from the two.

"I wonder who he was," said Alicia as she looked over at the cross stabbed into the hard rock.

"She was my mom," Daean replied. "She died the day I was born, and this was where my father buried her. I think because of the amazing view."

"Really?" she asked giving him a soft smile.

"Yeah," said the boy nodding. The two stood up, and as the boy smiled at her, she leaned in a little closer and hugged him. The two separated when Daean's attention disappeared. "What is that?" he asked as a reflection caught his eye.

"Looks like armor, very shiny armor, Angels!" Alicia shouted.

"No way, that's impossible! What in the world would Angels be doing so far from Eden?" Daean said in disbelief.

"Come on, they're heading to town. We may never see Kami's angels again. Let's move," Alicia said smiling. She had a big grin on her face; Daean took a deep breath, the town not being his favorite place to hang.

"Fine, let's go," Daean huffed.

The two dashed down the mountain, Daean half sliding as the pair ran down. The two got into the town as a large parade of people appeared, in full military uniform.

"Oh boy, what do the men in military want now?" asked a random townsmen. The Angels were one half of Kami's army, the other being the MRF. The Angels usually operated as peace keepers in Eden, leaving the MRF with the majority of the military operations.

Shining in the sunlight, armored figures marched on; the figures were so out of place that most were a bit concerned. The uniforms were made of an unknown material that kept out whatever was eating away at the flesh, each geared with long-range firearms and close-range blades. The steel itself was far more amazing; plates protected each part with no area to clip on or off, seamless as skin. The joints were protected by a scale metal that even when bent didn't wrinkle. Black visors started at the chin, creating a dome shape around the head and ending where the hairline would normally start.

The man leading was huge or outfitted with mechanical limbs far too big the only explanations for his inhuman size; his weapons were a war hammer that ran the length of the great man, the hammer head bigger than most men's head, one end a flat the other an ax-like point.

The second to his right appeared male as well; he seemed to slow a bit as if relying on some unseen force to keep him moving. Outside of all the others he had no weapon.

Then to the left was a female only noticeable by her distracting curves the armor gripped to all too closely; her weapon was the most unusual; a thin blade weapon far too thin to be a sword in anything but appearance.

Nothing could be seen through the visor of the first or any man; the group kept walking and the crowd watched in mild curiosity as the group marched shining in the sun.

Daean watched as the group turned and set up camp not a mile outside of the town. Daean pushed past as the group watched them make a large camp surrounded by rock, the area once called the Desert's Mouth. Daean watched as the group quickly set up small homes and a generator. The boy watched on as the interested men and woman became less and less until the sun had long since gone. A small circle appeared around the encampment as the people became scarce and the area became a small area of small white homes shining in the high moon. Lights lit the place up as the group soon vanished into their homes. Soon, little was seen as small containers were passed out, then the area was barren with the exception of the small homes.

Alicia had to shake her head as the two were now the only ones there. A small group formed up in the center, the most notable from the march and walked down the road. The pair leaped after them staying behind the rocks. Daean hesitated as one with an average height seemed to take interest in them. The man looked at him for a moment before returning forward, clearly uninterested in the darkened figures in the moonlight.

"So the rumors are true. Those suckers have a radar built in. I always dreamed of being in the military," Daean smirked. "I wonder if they can hear us as well," the young man pondered.

"I would prefer to get going, ask them tomorrow. Me, I'd rather leave them to rumors," Alicia answered.

"All right, meet me at town tomorrow then," smirked Daean and dashed off; the girl watched the four closely before vanishing into the early moon.

The boy closed in on his one-story home, his thoughts drifting back to the military. The armor itself seemed reason to join; he slipped in under the creak of the house and the snoring of his father. He looked to his bed, slightly disappointed that this was all he truly had. He slipped into the dirty blanket and looked up at the ceiling. An image popped into his head, and he saw himself in that armor, the visor down and a confident grin on his face.

"That would be awesome," He smiled as he closed his eyes.

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