The Blessed

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Chapter 4

Darius looked at the coals as he rubbed his beard going over the past events he opened up a glasses of Brandy. The two kids he picked up resting peacefully near the fire, The sun was starting to rise he stared at the warm sun slowly coming back up giving a warm green color, He raised his glasses as his mind returned to yesterday.

"Why am I even doing this?" Darius grumbled as he strode towards the town. Although only 24, He appeared older due to his full beard and long hair which hung past his neck. Darius continued to grumble as he dreaded his talk with the Sheriff. "Darius, Can you fetch this? Darius can you take out these bandits? I'll pay you this time! Honest!" Darius mumbled sarcastically as he walked past a couple of buildings. For 3 years he had been wandering the wastes and for 3 years he found himself playing the Good Samaritan despite his better judgment. So far Snake has been his only ally in information, him and the recent string of attacks in the area. Tom the local sheriff, along with the small allegiance the law men of dead lands had formed, agreed to help if acted for mussel. Frustratingly between the two, the man has been high tailing it around the dead lands one step behind his targets only able to at best help with evacuation even, if he was ahead of the group.

It wasn't that he didn't like helping people, it was that it was always things they should be doing for themselves! Was it that hard to have a standing police force? A Farm? How about some damn compassion for each other! But always somewhere in the back of his mind, Darius knew why. How could anyone have hope and desire for more in a place like this? A place where law was powerless and the weak suffered under the strong. They were all dead people in a dead land and Darius would be too if he couldn't get any leads on his quarry off 3 years.

3 years ago Darius was a soldier for the Military Remnant Forces, The MRF. The MRF or "Murf" as people called them was all that remained of one of the old empires in the before times. When Kami appeared a hundred years ago a good portion of the military joined him The Military Remnant Forces joined the religious figure along with the Angels. Its symbol was a pit with a snake hovering above it to it which the scholars said represented its desire to take the snakes of the world and put them in pits to protect the innocent from harm. All hogwash and rot as far as Darius was concerned as if anybody really knew, but as a kid he believed it.

Darius had grown up in the Murf's shielded base of fort Dallas on the western continent. It was a place where the healthy and powerful lived and where everybody else wished they could live. In Dallas Fort the Military was life and as soon as you were tall enough to drive a vehicle and not crap your pants you were drafted into the children's corps where you were honed into proud bearers of the MRF . At least that was what it was supposed to be. they mostly stayed in one of several bases on both continents or made small excursions to keep the surrounding villages in line and safe from those who would threaten this growing city of Eden.

Truth was that as much as they desired to rebuild the world they were also afraid of it. Afraid of the mist and afraid of losing what they already had. For Darius it was no different. He only touched the outside world once when he was still in the base and it changed him. He became one of the blessed but to him it was more of a curse. A curse that started with whispers that became words and eventually he realized he could tap into people's thoughts and memories. More than that, He could also move things with his mind which normally would be a blessing. He soon heard rumors of people like him being taken away. Feeling very frightened and very much alone, he suppressed his powers as much as he could but he could not change my effectiveness in the field.

He was good, very good and people knew it. He was a legend and rising up in the world. by 20 leading a squad of men mostly older than me on missions most men would piss their pants at and I relished it. But times changed and mistakes were made. Darius lost control of his powers and nearly killed a man. The man was a superior who had been doing some nasty things but Darius was too well known to simply disappear.

The council of Generals, The MRF's men up stairs blamed him for the superiors death gave him two choices The chair or bring in some escaped criminals who supposedly stole a shipment of equipment and fled to the western continent. He chose pursuit.

But after 4 years of almost nothing on my quarry, He had more or less turned to mercenary work. A job that led him to what was left of the Middle East and the town he had been servicing for the last couple of months. The town although of decent size was mostly poor with few being able to afford even decent wood to make their buildings with. The streets were mostly just earth with the occasional wood bridge leading over large cracks in the earth no one bothered to fill in.

When he had first arrived he had reached out with his mind to get a feel for the population who eyed him from windows curiously. The people he could feel were mostly dead inside due to harsh conditions and the hard truth that most had no real future. It sickened Darius that people could let themselves get like this. It sickened me that people could give up on making a better future just because they thought they'd never get beyond their status and to think these were his customers and although they warmed up to him, I never let my guard down because the dead lands were not a place for dreamers. No place for dreamers…

Darius walked over a wooden path and past a couple of shops before something caught his eye. looking to his right, Darius noticed a pair of Teens hanging around outside a building. One Teen was a boy with blond hair in baggy black pants who looked no more then 17 and the other a girl, With Dark hair and a brown vest over a white tee-shirt who seemed about the same age. They didn't feel like the others. 'Naïve fools, Enjoy your positivity while you can. Before time beats it out of you...' thought Darius.

Darius turned his attention back to the sheriff who waited outside his office. The Sheriff, A man in his late 30s and dressed in a simple shirt, overalls and work boots came over and shook Darius's hand. The Sheriff was one of the few people Darius would call a friend and had connections with the MRF and the new Roman empire that dominated well Rome and parts of southern Europe. It was these connections that usually employed Darius's more "unique" talents. Darius returned the handshake and followed the Sheriff into his office.

The Sheriff's office was sparsely adorned with a simple desk, weapon cabinet, filing cabinet and a couple chairs. Nearby doors lead to several jail cells. Darius studied the weapon rack while he waited for the sheriff to take his seat. "So what do you have for me, sheriff?" said Darius as he turned his gaze on the sheriff.

"Nothing good, my contacts tell me that the 'Bandits' is planning to sack the village" said the sheriff soberly.

"Even so, what do you expect me to do? I'm not invincible," said Darius. The Sheriff nodded in agreement

"I know that and attack is not my plan. My plan is evacuation and your the key. see, I know your one of the blessed. don't give me that look, kid. Nobody looks as good as you do unless their just born lucky or blessed. And knowing you don't have much luck" said the Sheriff who leaned back in his chair.

"I would still prefer to keep that on the down low," said Daius, considering wiping the Sheriff's mind and leaving but thought better of it. "And what mumbo jumbo do you think I have?" said Darius with his best poker face.

"I'll be straight with you, I'm close with the MRF recon in these parts. They told me all about you. How you were secretly a blessed with the power to read minds and how you were tasked with the impossible: taking out the Bandit leadership in these parts. That's why I believe you can do this job" said the Sheriff grimly.

Darius looked at the sheriff sternly and said "Great they did know about my power, that might explain why they sent me out here," Darius mussed as he played with his bears. "And I'm going to be clean with you, I didn't set up shop here to play hero. Job like this, you pay up front."

"I know, I got your payment here" said the sheriff who walked over to the weapon cabinet. The Sheriff reached into the cabinet and opened a secret compartment. Inside the compartment was a small diamond and a handgun with ammo. The Sheriff took everything from the secret compartment and put it on the desk in front of Darius who promptly took the diamond and examined it. "This will do nicely, But you can keep the gun. I have my own" said Darius who pocketed the rare gem.

"Suit yourself, now on to business" said the Sheriff who returned to his seat and continued: "We both know that simply asking people to flee won't work and would draw attention. That's where you come in: Use your power to "encourage" people to leave". Darius thought for a moment before answering "Sound plan, But I'll need a place to hunker down and concentrate. I'll also need beer. Is 'Willie's Canteen' still open?".

"Sure is, Anything else?" asked the Sheriff. "Where are they camped?" asked Darius.

"The slums on the eastern side" replied the Sheriff sadly.

"I hear ya, They'll be the first to fall and how. But we can't worry about that now" said Darius who stood up and moved to the door. The Sheriff followed Darius and said

"I wish you luck son and I hope we both survive to see each other again". The Sheriff shook Darius' hand as he opened the door.

"Take care of yourself and stay out of trouble" said Darius as he stepped out into the warm air. Darius considered the job before him and decided to head to the local bar: Willie's Canteen.

"Willie's...Willie's...Ah! There we are!" said Darius as he walked into the canteen which looked like a saloon Darius once saw in a history class long ago. The place had two levels: A main one filled with tables and chairs and the bar itself and a second level that was used as an inn. Darius walked up to the bar and took a seat. Darius ignored the stares from the drunkards inside as he ordered a drink. 'Now comes the fun part' thought Darius as he began to concentrate on the area of the town farthest from the bandit camp. He could feel the minds of the people and took a swig of beer to keep his cool. Although more well off then those on the other side of town the people were still just as empty inside. Darius decided to work with that and began filling the people with fire and an urgent need to find a better town and to hurry.

Darius could feel the gears shift in their heads as they gathered family and belongings in their arms or carts if they had one and began to leave. As he was doing this, Darius continued to drink his beer and shot out calming feelings to those he hadn't got to yet.

In a few hours he had gotten almost a quarter of the town to safety. It was then that Darius had begun to feel a bit woozy. He asked the Bar tender for a room and he was directed to the upper floor and to a shabby room towards the back. The room had only a bed, a chair and a table with a lamp on it. Darius tossed his coat and sword on the chair and laid on the bed. Closing his eyes, Darius began focusing again and continued until nightfall when he was promptly woken up by noise coming from the street.

He looked out a window and saw soldier's in black armor gathering people into the center of town. Darius cracked the window carefully to hear what was going on and saw a giant of man in black armor step into view. The Giant wore a large hammer on his back and two smaller ones hung from his waist. In one hand the giant held a Gatling gun. The Giant was apparently the leader and was flanked by men in officer's uniforms and trench coats.

"Mabush," Darius muttered as he looked out at them man, grabbing his Katana and his pistol.

Darius listened as the giant demanded they hand over a certain man. Darius soon realized that he was being described and quickly returned to the window, Darius saw soldier's dragging a couple into view. Darius recognized the man as Willie, the owner of the bar. Darius began to get nervous as Willie and his wife were asked for Darius's location. Willie was hesitant but after looking at his wife said no. Willie looked up at the window were Darius was at. Darius struggled with window. Willie mouthed "Go" at Darius.

The giant aimed his weapon at the woman and repeated his question. Willie again said that he knew nothing and watched as he is wife was torn apart by Gatling rounds. The Giant sneered and told Willie he could go. William knelt by his wife and hearing the giant's words lunged at him in rage but he too was cut down. One of the officer's spoke to the giant: "Pity, He could have lived" but the giant only huffed and said

"He was already dead Captain. Let this be a lesson to any who stand in our way. Give us

what were looking for and we'll leave" and one that looked more like a puppet than a human.

"Phylor, shit, that's why," mutter Darius as he walked away from the window, "Mabush the Giant, Elleana Hadley a former hunter, and Phylor his powers were just like mine only much stronger,"

Darius felt like falling to his knees just then but decided to take advantage of his savior's kindness and ran from the room but was stopped by one of the inn workers who whispered "Willie sent me to show you the way out. Its the least we could do for all you've done" Darius felt he could cry at that point but now wasn't the time.

Darius was led to the storage room at the back of the canteen and ushered out the backdoor into an alleyway. Darius turned to the person who led him outside and said "I'm going to cause a distraction. You get yourself and anyone else to safety and...thank you" Darius then ran to the edge of the alleyway behind the canteen and yanked a soldier back into the alley with him. "As long as Psylor is around I can't make a mess but running away will just get me spotted," Darius muttered, The few towns people left were being rounded up.

"Let's see anyone blessed, or at least have all the body parts in one peace," asked Phylor, The man walked around the group his body seemed to stumble even in the signature armor of the Angels. The man raised his hand and a small group of people were pulled out. A military truck soon drove in as the small group were pushed onto the truck. Phylor got on last, "you know what to do with the rest. Darius is here as well I hope you find him,"

"Coward," Mabush called back "You could kill him easily, why do you run away?" asked The giant of a man.

"Mass murder is your job, mine is the completion of the mission," said The man, so devoid of emotion he seemed more like a robot.

The Fake angels quickly pilled in and drove off as a small group stayed behind. The silver armor suddenly shifted as the butt of a gun formed from the armor, each grabbing it and pulling a silver version of an AK-47. Darius acted using a quick blast of his telekinetic abilities the crowd was shoved away as he pulled out his pistol.

The Soldier's returned fire while Darius continued to back down the gap between the bar and the general store. Darius, rested his back against a wood wall, as he mentally reached out with his mind and tapped into their conversations. The Giant was communicating to the entire military presence in the city. The spoke "Alpha has the target. I'm linking up with them and the rest of you are to light this city up. Create a wall of flame as a cage for this asshole. Anyone gets in your way, kill them". The bastard's would pay in time but for right now, Darius had to survive.

Darius darted out from the small ally and continued to fire, as he ran backwards. Bullet's couldn't touch him as he concentrated butting up a small burrier. One bullet found its mark piercing the black visor. The group suddenly reached behind themselves, a small cylinder and soon blue energy fields appeared around each one. The weapons soon re-absorbed into the armor and each drew out a sword and started to walk towards him. Darius holstered his weapon as his hand went for his Katana, Mabush drew his war hammer. He looked around and found young woman who was trying to crawl behind a wagon.

"hello there, how did she avoid getting found?" The question went un answered as his attention returned.

Darius drew his blade when he noticed the smoke rising in and around the town. Darius backed away hoping to lead the group away from the girl. Mabush charged at him swing wildly with his hammer. Darius rolled as the weapon created a small creator were Darius was one standing. The other soldiers quickly charged Darius used his power to block some blows and strength his own. Slicing one armored man in half, the rest started to circle around him. Darius summoned up his powers and blasted everything around him away in mass surge of power. Everyone but Mabuish was thrown away as the town started to glow orange around them.

"Bastard! Stand still," shouted the giant under his helmet as the bearded man ducked again.

"Above average military armor, below average human intelligence," muttered the man. "Just my luck" The Bearded Man continued as he leapt above a second swing and fired another round as he flew over using the force to get free of the Giant's reach. The girl seemed to be nursing a wound from the blast as the town was completely on fire now.

Soon the girl's friend arrived ignoring the fact that he had a sword the boy's emotions were going from one extreme to the next. Not one to give up on help "Keep back, this man is far too dangerous, I'll deal with him, you handle the followers" ordered Darius as he drew his blade and then a 45 caliber hand gun from under his coat. The Giant smirked as a helmet shifted up from within his armor to cover his face. As the Giant swung his hammer around; Darius leapt up onto the poll of the hammer. Darius slammed his knee into the Giant's helmet. The Giant stumbled back as he growled in frustration, Darius then shot at the Giant's head. The iron was even scratched. Darius only growled in annoyance as he landed behind the Giant.

The giant tossed his hammer back over his shoulder as his fist became spiked. The Giant charged forward his fists growing spikes aimed at Darius ' head. In one motion, Darius grabbed the Giant's hands and flung him into the air. Darius then leapt up after his opponent and unloaded a round of bullets at the Giant who slammed into the earth creating a small crater. He roared at Darius stood in front of him as he took out two smaller hammers and charged Darius who dived under them and slammed his fist into the Giant's armored gut. The giant's helmet shifted back as he spit up blood while glaring at the smaller man.

The Giant noticed Daean and Alicia attempting to run past him and grinned. The Giant tossed his hammers into the wooden tower of the burning town hall. The burning building started to collapse after a moment as the burning wood gave way. Alicia screamed in fear as the flames started to drop around. "Look out!" yelled the boy. Darius turned to see a building falling at him.

The Giant pointed at Darius and after giving a quick motion with his hand across his own neck, He turned to run as one of the other buildings collapsed blocking any attempt to follow…

Darius dosed as the memories went over in his mind when he heard one of the teens get up. Looking to one side, Darius stored his drink as he became aware of where he was. It was then that he felt someone watching them and used telepathy to draw attention from himself as he got up and got behind the figure now standing in the camp. Pulling his sword from its sheath, Darius rose and brought the sword to the throat of what now recognized as the older woman from before. "Hello Lt Darius Hennison," she smiled, as the boy looked at him in shock. "What the hell is going on here?" said the boy.

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