Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Theme 10: Breathe Again

Alton's chest rose with an audible intake of breath.


Where was he? He had been so comfortable. So safe. No worries. Somewhere else. It was fading so fast, like a dream. Where was he?

He opened his eyes. Whiteness. Bright. Blinding. Too bright. More pain.

He blinked a few times. Whiteness resolved into a room. There was a man in a white coat sitting in a chair across the room. He was older, maybe in his forties or fifties. He had fallen asleep, slumped in the chair. Alton was in a bed. He was breathing. Why was that strange?

Then he remembered.

Because he was supposed to be dead. That was why. He was dead. Had been dead. He died. How long ago? It felt like life was a long time ago.

He sat up. More pain. Beyond stiffness. Like he had been sleeping for years. He tried to speak, but only a strange croaking sound emerged and devolved into coughing. It was enough to wake the man in the chair.

"Ah," he said. "You're back with us. Good. Try to take it easy. You're going to need to get used to your new condition."

Alton's coughing finally subsided and he found his voice. It was scratchy from disuse. "Why? How?"

The man smiled sadly. "I'm afraid you're not ready for the how just yet. But I will tell you why. You're going to save the world, Alton. And I'm afraid you're going to have to die several more times doing it."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Theme 9: Drive

Quentin sulked in the back seat of the car.

"Come on, Q," said Jesse from the driver's seat. His best friend was grinning.

"Look, I don't expect you to get how important this is to me," snapped Quentin. "But I do expect to be taken seriously. Come on man."

Brigit chimed in from the front passenger's seat. "Ease up, Quentin. Of course we take you seriously."

Quentin rolled his eyes at his twin's comment. "Whatever. Look, it's important that we get this drive out of the hands of Ardcorp."

"Yeah we know, " said Jesse. "End of the world scenario. Well here I am driving you to this shady drop-off thing you've got going. Just don't ask me to take it all that seriously. You know your cloak and dagger stuff just comes off as hilarious sometimes. Especially since we're doing this in broad daylight."

Quentin's frowned deepened. "See that's what I'm talking about. Obviously I'm not gonna do a shady deal at night when there's no one on the road. The important thing here is to blend in."

"Right," said Brigit. "So we're blending. Teenagers laughing is pretty blend-y, Q."

"Yeah," said Quentin. "Well so is teenagers sulking."

Monday, January 09, 2012

Theme 8: Innocence

Harmony surveyed the life-size clay figure stretched out on the table before her. She consulted her diagrams one last time, and then quickly began inscribing several runes in strategic places on the figure's body using her violin's bow. Normally, she would have employed a ceremonial stylus for the task, but this particular operation would require a speedy transition to her other talents. Her music would be required while the runes were still very fresh. Once she was done etching the runes into the figure's body, she picked up her violin. She took a brief second to ensure it was still in tune and then began her song.

Harmony played the Aria of Innocence. It was a song of her own composition, one that she had never played before and yet knew every note and rest of. The music poured from her soul into the violin and then into the clay. The runes began to glow, softly at first then growing brighter.

Harmony was a rarity among rarities. In fact, she had reason to believe she was the only one of her kind alive on the planet at the present time. Willworkers like herself were vanishingly rare to begin with, only a few thousand existed worldwide. And spellcasters were also quite rare, though not as rare as the Enlightened. She was one of the most rare beings in creation: A Willworker who could also cast more "ordinary" magical spells. Her research on the Dreamtime network led her to believe that the phenomenon had happened less than a dozen times total in the whole of recorded human history. This unique combination of talents allowed her to achieve effects unattainable by either magician or Dreamer.

Her Willworker's music mingled with the spellcraft of the runes and the glowing reached a crescendo as she finished her song. As the last note of the aria faded into the air, the glow of the runes likewise diminished. After a few tense moments, the clay figure's chest rose with a sharp intake of breath and the figure sat up.

The clay girl looked at her creator, confusion on her face.

"Welcome to life. My name is Harmony, but I guess you can just call me 'mom.'"

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Theme 7: Heaven

They cast me aside.

They broke their promises. They used me until I was no longer convenient and then I was discarded. But I will not be quietly resigned to my fate. I will make them pay.

My life began simply, as a proud samurai warrior serving my lord. When he fell in battle, I thought to join him, but Heaven had other plans. I was approached by a Seraph, a divine arbiter who offered me a choice. I could end my life now, stained as it was with the blood of the innocent and the guilty alike, or I could work for her. Either way, she said, I would die. The only variables were time and how much good I could do for the world first. I took her offer.

I traded my dou-maru for the protection of divine fire, the latent power of my own soul made manifest and amplified by the Seraph's gift. She sent down a pair of Principalities to instruct me in the use of my new-found power and school me in the laws I was now sworn to uphold.

Only the most effective of killers can become a Warden's Hunter. Only a mortal already so bathed in blood as to be beyond ordinary redemption can be offered the chance to turn that deadly instinct to divine purpose and in fulfilling that mandate find salvation. And what a killer was I.

My daisho shattered in the struggle with my first Edict-breaker. I wrenched the pitchfork from the demon's hand and destroyed his mortal shell with his own infernal weapon. And it is that weapon I still wield to this day. It is not the primitive hay fork of human folklore. My weapon is sleek and built for battle. Forged with cunning artifice by the techno-gremlins of the pit. Black steel prongs, carbon-nanotube haft, and a blood red jewel where the prongs meet the haft that glows as it drinks in the life-energy of my foes when they fall. It is a good weapon, a delicious irony when used to slay a demon. And on the rare occasion one of the Celestials breaks an Edict, well. . .it does what it was built to do.

For six hundred years I served my heavenly master. For six hundred years I killed who they told me to kill. For six hundred years, I was their faithful tool.

Until now. After six centuries of loyal service, I am now told my services are no longer required thanks to an "incident" that occurred relatively recently. And the Metatron has reneged on his offer of entry into Heaven.

But the Fallen and the Host are the same basic beings. There is one thing I have been trained to do very well over the past six hundred years. And that is to kill angels.

Tonight, for the first time since the Rebellion, there shall be sorrow in Paradise. And I shall be its author.