034 Those Who Watch the Sky - 34


 34 – Children Seeking Their Own Sky 1


“Sir! We’ve identified the service lift for the dam’s supply tunnel.”

“And here I was wondering if anything would justify me being out here instead of staying involved with those kids. Now that we know that they were telling the truth about finding a dam out here.”

“Sir?”

The soldier garbed from head to toe in form fitting armor of a cream color peered out at Bird questionably from behind his helmet’s slotted visor. Bird looked back at him quizzically.

“Something the matter soldier?”

“Well, sir, it’s just that we’ve known about this dam for some time. We use it as a training destination once in a while so hearing that those kids came through here shouldn’t be surprising.”

“Yeesh. You really are just muscle on a job like this aren’t you? Well not your fault, you’re a soldier, not a member of Choir. Fortunately for you I’m with Choir and I get to explain to you why I’m out here. Let’s start with you leading me to the entrance.”

“Sir.”

Stifling a yawn as he let the soldier lead him to the service entrance where Link, Elliot, and Melody had emerged nearly two ten-days prior from the dam into the surroundings woods, Bird pulled a folder out from under his arm. Sifting through the papers within he made sure to be fully up to date on what he needed to know about the situation. As he reached the entrance to the dam along with the soldier who led him there, they met with several more soldiers. Having the whole deployment of soldiers who accompanied him to the dam present Bird decided to remind them of who he was.

“So, what do you fine soldiers know about Choir and why I’m here?”

“Sir. Choir is a branch of the Cardinal Church tasked with monitoring the spread and use of technology to assure that mankind will not again tempt the Foreigners to burn us from the face of Icarus. Your presence would imply that there are those who have veered from the path in the territories of Foothold.”

“That’s a nice summation you’ve got there soldier. Knowing that then, you should all be questioning what you’re doing out here at an old training sight that otherwise doesn’t see any use.”

“Because the dam is active sir?”

“Bingo!”

Awarding the soldier who spoke with a single word cheer Bird allowed himself a slight smile.

“Now, I took an interest in those kids while in Foothold on other business because I was hearing reports of a Dolmen walking through the farms without a care in the world. Then their interviews revealed that they turned on the dam’s Artificial Gate Generator and the monster they dragged with them to Foothold supposedly came through like it was a portal or something. Sounded like a lot of nonsense really, but I’ve had some people I trust looking into it before I got here and that’s were things get really weird. The dam’s Artificial Gate Generator is on, the monster is real, there are numerous monster corpses throughout the dam that seem to be entirely Nectar based, and there isn’t any sign that those kids were anywhere near the actual control room. All of the damage up there can be attributed to the monster they brought us like a pet cat. Their actual fight with it seemed to take place entirely in the supply corridor below us.”

As Bird finished up one of the soldiers pestered him with a question.

“Sir, forgive me for inquiring, but if we already have a full report of what happened out here why are we here?”

“Now that question is the starting line soldier. Why are we here instead of interrogating the three kids? Unfortunately for you that answer is classified. What you do need to know though is that there is a possibility here that will open up some avenues that are in the best interest of mankind. If we can fail to find anything then things will start to get very interesting and this whole trip might be worth the paperwork.”

“Sir… you almost sound like you want to find nothing.”

“Is it that obvious? Shucks. What can I say? Those kids have been awfully intriguing so far and I think they can be a help to me involving some of my other ongoing investigations. To that end not finding anything today will help me out big time. But don’t worry soldiers, I’m not the only one benefiting from this little escapade. All of humankind benefits from Choir’s work. …and those kids will probably appreciate what will happen if things go my way…”

A close up of a logo

Description automatically generated

~ Sa·B·ers.
The servants of the Cardinal Church and the fate of the survivors of Foreigner infection.
Adventurers and guardians by nature.
Held in bondage by the ever-present threat of still becoming the monsters they face.
They have no true home, yet are welcome everywhere though never fully trusted.
Even bearing the tri-cross of the Cardinal Church they are not fully trusted.
It is with good reason as well due to those Sa·B·ers who do not trust the church.
They turn their back on the Light of her Eminence, the Lady Cardinal.
I have seen that light however and would never willingly walk away from it.
Even as the church bearing her name is full of those who would exploit it. ~

Some days before Bird had found himself out at the dam and the lost shrine of Ocia, he had led the three who had passed through it on their way to Foothold into the city by way of the Cardinal Church’s underground labyrinth. Link, Elliot, and Melody consequently did not set one foot in the city proper as the steam-powered lift that took them to that labyrinth was within the entry tunnel. Unlike the town of Cross there was not a plant under the city and the brick walled corridors were hewn entirely with modern hands and the lighting was oddly less sterile as a result. Conversely it was far darker and murky as well as crowded as pipes for steam, water, and electrical and radio wiring covered the walls and ceiling of the underground corridors. It was far from anything to marvel at though Link, Elliot, and Melody were not provided the opportunity as they were soon separated from each other and led to separate interrogation cells. Melody had to be reassured that everything would be fine so as not to make a scene but was terribly uncomfortable attempting to answer the questions that came her way.

“What exactly are you?

“Where are you from?

“Who are your parents?

“How long have you been infected?”

“I don’t know.

“I don’t know.

“I don’t know.

“I don’t know! I don’t have any memories from before I met Link and Elliot and as far as I know I’ve always been like this!”

Elliot’s questioning was along similar lines to Melody but were perhaps less intrusive.

“Where did you learn to pilot a Dolmen?

“How did you activate the AGG?

“Where did you receive your combat training?”

“The wife of my hometown’s engineer provided me access to an inactive Dolmen’s training simulations. Thinking about it now I realize my training was a direct violation of church protocol.

“I didn’t. The Dolmen had already been activated by my icaran traveling companion who also remotely overrode the pilot recognition systems allowing me to synchronize with the Dolmen. I’ve no idea how she accomplished either feat however.

“There was a nigh retired Sa·B·er in my hometown when I was growing up who trained me in swordplay and firearm use. I also received further instruction in swordplay from a retired adventurer who resided in my hometown.”

Though Elliot was mostly forthright with most of his responses he had taken to obscuring the details of his answers to not endanger Link by revealing her relationship with her father. He had no idea if his efforts would have any merit however as he was certain, and fully correct, that Link would be interrogated thoroughly due to her invoking her father’s name.

“You claim you were experimented on by Hazel Sycamore?”

“Yes and no.”

“Elaborate.”

“I’m the daughter of an engineer craftsman but I’ve always dreamed of being an adventurer, so I made myself a suit of chainmail when I was younger for when I began adventuring. He offered to make my chainmail be able to grow with me and I took him up on his offer.”

“Where is this chainmail now?”

“Probably in me. I know it was when I touched the chainmail that I became infected but it disappeared at that time. I’m still trying to make myself whole so I don’t quite get it yet.”

“What exactly do you mean?”

“Hmm~… It’s kind of hard to explain. I used to be one me and then I was two but I might have already been two and became three. I’m still trying to figure it out but sometimes it’s like I’m slipping away from myself and I have to reach out and interact with me so I can be me in a more complete way.”

“Do you believe this loss of self to be a result of Sycamore’s experiments?”

“Maybe? Yes? No? At least partly? I didn’t really notice until I tried to turn on the Artificial Gate Generator at the dam.”

“Then you have no idea to the nature of your infection?”

“Just that somehow Hazel Sycamore bonded a Foreigner to a suit of chainmail and that it transformed me into this so far since I touched the chainmail.”

The answers that Link provided were not particularly useful, but even in spite of her efforts to avoid revealing more than she desired to she honestly did not know the full nature of the Foreigner that possessed her. In regard to her father however there was one question that she was willing to answer in greater detail.

“When you announced your relationship to Sycamore you said you had a solid idea to his whereabouts?”

“That’s correct. I intend to track him down myself once I’m at least no longer in danger of being consumed by my own chainmail. You will help me with that if I tell you where he should be won’t you?”

“We can assure you that regardless you will remain in the care of the Cardinal Church until such time that you are either no longer human or have been deemed fit to serve as a Sa·B·er.”

“I’ll take that as a yes then. Well, to keep it simple, if you follow the river all the way to where it ends in a small pool under a waterfall and then keep traveling west, you’ll come to a huge scar in the face of Icarus. That was caused by a Foreigner city dipping down to the face of Icarus. That’s where my hometown was and the last place where I saw Hazel Sycamore. I’m guessing if you find that Foreigner city then you’ll find him. If not, then you can track down a rogue Sa·B·er in red mechanized armor who he should have been traveling with.”

“Did you just say a rogue Sa·B·er in red armor?”

“Yeah. Is that important?

Link did not receive an answer in return and the church agent who was interrogating her left the cell she had been isolated in. She would not see them again but like Elliot and Melody her interrogation persisted for several more days. During that time the three of them were also made privy to the blood tests that were conducted on them to confirm their status as Sa·B·ers. Not surprising to Link her blood was still red marking her as human yet rejected any introduction of the blue blood of the Foreigners. Melody however was quite surprised to learn that her own red blood also rejected any introduction of Foreigner Blood.

“Huh–? That doesn’t make sense… Does it? I know I don’t have any memories from before I met Link and Elliot, but…”

Disconcerted by the revelation of being a Sa·B·er, Melody withdrew more into herself for the rest of the interviews and the lack of contact with Link and Elliot was slowly driving her into a depression. Elliot meanwhile was proving to be a lot more troublesome than either Link or Melody despite his best efforts to be cooperative.

The blood test for Elliot proved far more difficult than it had traditionally ever been for the medical staff of the Cardinal Church. When Elliot was approached for a blood sample, though he offered no resistance not one drop of blood was drawn into the syringe. The medical technicians could not comprehend what was going on.

“Could you perhaps re-elaborate on the nature of your infection.”

Smiling sheepishly Elliot realized that he was likely at fault.

“My apologies. My infection was the result of the blood of numerous Foreigners mingling with my blood through injuries I had already sustained. I’ve been resisting the Foreigner’s effect for ten-days on end and at the advice of Link have attempted to gain control of the Foreigner’s power as my own. After finding my faith in the dam and being tested by the last leg of my journey here I discovered that I could control my own blood. Let me show you.”

By his will Elliot allowed a single drop of red blood to enter the syringe and float within before returning to his arm to complete his demonstration. Whether the medical staff was amused or not by Elliot’s display they eventually received a proper blood sample and were further shocked when his blood consumed the sample of Foreigner blood before returning to Elliot at his command. Elliot did not take any pleasure in unsettling the medical staff but had his own reasons for desiring to keep all of his blood present within himself. He did not share these fears with the church however and instead focused on complying only insomuch as to be granted the right to be saved by Cardinal’s Light.

Kept locked away within the labyrinth under Foothold, Elliot had no way of knowing how long it actually was until he was granted leave of his cell. When the time came however, he was escorted by the armored soldiers of the church and a pair of white robed members of the clergy of the Cardinal Church. Led through the twisting tunnels of the labyrinth he eventually arrived within a simple stone walled chapel with naught more than a few pews and an alter under a massive, three bladed air circulation fan built into the wall. The need for the fan in the sterilely bright chapel assured Elliot that he was still underground, but that mattered little to him at the time.

Led to the altar Elliot was commanded to kneel. Obeying humbly, Elliot bowed his head as he put his right knee to the ground and supported his left arm on his left knee. In this position Elliot would remain motionless for several minutes as the priests waved about ceremonial scepters and recited prayers in a tongue long forgotten to the general masses. Eventually they ceased their prayers and took up positions flanking Elliot to either side and raised their scepters high above him. At last they spoke in the modern tongue and presented to Elliot a question.

“Child of Icarus, tainted by the foul and unholy Foreigners, her Eminence, the Lady Cardinal, Saint of the church which bears her name and unifier of the Sister Goddesses and Father Icarus has cast forth her light. Are you so ready to be judged by her divinity and accept the judgement her light casts upon you? Speak now child and know that you are within the presence of she who will save mankind!”

“I am.”

“Then raise your head Child of Icarus, and look unto her light!”

Raising his head as beckoned Elliot peered unto the space between the heads of the two scepters held above him. Between them a golden light began to form and at first to Elliot it felt hollow, but then something changed. The priests appeared confused and the soldiers startled, but Elliot knew the change well. It was a sensation he could never forget. A light so soft and so warm, gentle as a mother’s hand caressing his cheek. And as before he could feel the goddess’ hands upon his face and he looked up into her radiance and smiled.

“By your grace your Eminence, I have at last returned before you, grateful for your aid and your compassion. Though I may not be worthy, I am ready to receive your light if you would be so kind as to share it with this selfish child.”

~ Tested your heart and love I have child, and I have seen how dark and how bright both your heart can be. ~

The words of the goddess before Elliot were not for him alone to hear and the priests broke into tears and fell to their knees, scraping the ground with their hands while pressing their heads it. Their scepters however remained aloft in the air and the soldiers were panicked before the divinity that transformed the quaint chapel into one of an opulent golden cathedral not of the world they knew. Panicked as the soldiers were there was nothing they could do with their power and seeing the reverence that the priests showed the goddess before them they too fell to their knees if only to not anger so powerful a being. Angering the goddess seemed an impossible task and as they looked upon her in terror she washed them in the warmth and kindness of a smile before continuing to address Elliot.

~ That I appear before you should tell my judgement though child. I have heard the pleas of your heart and know the ferocity of your loyalty. I have seen the darkness of your pain and observed the depths of your fears. I am knowledgeable in all that you are and all that you desire to be. And so child, I bestow unto you my light and name thee my Silver Lance, the Knight Prince. Stand beside your darkness and face it. Seek your dreams and banish the fears of mankind. ~


Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

025 Those Who Watch the Sky - 25

022 Those Who Watch the Sky - 22

001 Those Who Watch the Sky - 01