Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Asael XIV

This is part of my ongoing novel. Think of it as Killer Angels taking place in a musket and magic fantasy world with characters that combine the religious sensibilities of American revivalism with Beowulf-like blood feuds. All this while engaging in Talmudic style dialectics. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” is about to take on a whole new meaning.

Asael opened his eyes to find that he was still in the dream. The scene had changed from the shootout through the undercity and the flight over the rooftops to some ruins outside the city. Caxton was walking among some marble columns of a temple. Hundreds of years old and abandoned by its believers to wind and moss, the thirty or so feet that remained from even the smallest of these columns still evocated a sense of majesty. Gin sat at the edge appearing bewildered. Caxton shouted at one of the columns in agitation. “So what is your game now Vorn? Whatever it is, I am not laughing.” There was silence. Caxton kicked a column.

A mocking voice came out from the column behind Caxton. “And to what may I owe the honor of this vexation?” Caxton and Gin turned to see a glowing human form appear in the darkness at the top of the column, slithering down toward the base of the column hands and head first like a reptile.

“I just got word on the wire that the Senate raided the undercity with an above par scorn for human life even for them. Word is out that they have Marcellus and most of his crew.” The statement made Gin wince. Caxton glanced at her as if just noticing her. “One thousand sists says that Helvetius Tyranaco managed to slip the net and will resurface in a few months, pardon in hand and at least fifty-thousand richer for selling us all out.”

“Helvetius is not the traitor,” Gin called out as she made her way toward them. Caxton turned on this new object of his frustration. “And on whose female intuition do you base that on?”

“Mine,” said Vorn, leaping to another column. “I warned you this was a trap and that for the sake of the anonymity of this organization, you should skip the appointment. I was under the assumption that my orders were to be obeyed.”

Caxton appeared to have put on more weight since the previous vision and his hairline seemed to have receded over so slightly more as if the previous vision was brushed up version of Caxton, more Caxton than even Caxton. “I was not there,” he shouted defiantly. “You said the sale was off so what possible motive could I have had to go against you.”

Vorn took out a device from his pocket which showed a series of moving pictures upon which could clearly be seen the form of Caxton as he jumped down with Gin onto the back of a moving train as their pursuer leaped toward them. Caxton opened his mouth to speak but only managed a gasping sound. Vorn smiled and tossed the device toward Caxton.

“And so you were not. I trust you implicitly; if you say you were not there recklessly pursuing your theory that Helvetius was our rat and the vids say you were than the vids lie.”

“Thank you most graciously my lord,” said Caxton.

“Notwithstanding the good men now sitting in prison waiting to see if some human rights organization will actually object to the Senate’s reintroduction of hanging to the realm, this has been a productive night.”

“We still do not have our rat,” mumbled Caxton.

“Keep your eye on the bigger picture and count your blessings. You performed marvelously for someone who was not there. You bugged Helvetius so we can now be certain that he was not our rat.”

Vorn eyed Gin. “You rescued a beautiful damsel in distress, at great personal risk, and you even decided to field test those deaccelerator clamps, Virido wanted us to try out. I hate to think what might have happened to the fem if they had not worked. Personally I would not have minded too much if you had ended up as train-kill.”

“You are forgetting about the Shifter. How does he figure into this?”

Vorn let out a howling laugh. “Oh yes, so you saw the pale faced hunter. I admit that he was an unexpected twist, but the greatest bonus of all. It tells us so much.”

“You care to run with that one?”

“My dear Mr. Bragg; we have been left off wondering as to the nature of our opposition. We took it as a given that the Senate was after Marcellus. We suspected that someone from the Council may have given them the go ahead or even encouraged them to take such extraordinary measures to deal with our noble friend. We theorized that perhaps the Council wished to get to you.”

“And Pale Face?”

“Ah. If Pale Face came into this than there could have been only one purpose.”

“And that purpose being?”

“Me! He certainly would not waste his time chasing after you unless he suspected that you are with me.”

Caxton groaned. “That was what I was afraid of. This ties me to you a bit more strongly than I would have liked. I guess there can be no more of me just happening to do a job for you on occasion.”

“Forty percent pay raise plus benefits in keeping with the longer hours of service and increased risks.”

“Risks that just happen to include being most holy barbecued by a fanatical Shifter, who does not believe in a god, but believes in using humans as burnt offerings just in case.”

“And this is supposed to be a bad thing?”

Vorn’s excitement at this proposition failed to wash over to Caxton. “I know all about you and him being pals from when you worked with the Council and all, but when are you going to just simply remove him from the equation.”

The small lights carried by Caxton and Gin and pointed upward seemed to vanish into the light that emanated from Vorn like a halo. “The time is not yet ripe.”

“And when will that be?”

Vorn lit up a smile. “The world is going to burn and there is nothing that you or I can do about it. When it does those who have been loyal may rest assured in the knowledge that there will be a new world order that they may live to see. In the meantime they will have the privilege of sitting back to watch this burning world’s final gladiatorial combat.”

Vorn ran a finger along his fangs. “It will be these jaws of mine against Pale Face’s hands. And in the despairing embers of this burning world, his hands shall falter and we will see him fall.”

“You are like him, like the pale faced one,” stammered Gin.

Vorn, suddenly turning, launched himself at her, his eyes turning demonic red. His fangs continued to sprout from his open jaws as his chin split open. He landed right in front of Gin as she clicked her shotgun inches from his face. “I have nothing in common with any mere Shifter assassin,” said Vorn before bursting out into laughter. It was a high pitched animal-like laugh. “I like this one Caxton. Who is she?”

Gin responded for herself. “Lady Ginna Ciurbs.”

“You are Marcellus’ sister?”

“Actually his older sister and it is my job to keep him safe while he plays revolutionary.”

Vorn giddily shook his head from side to side as the two parts of his lower jaw swung lazily in the air before clamping back together. “I am in the hiring mood. Seeing how you got Caxton out of trouble, how about I bring you on board as Caxton’s security with a fee to match his.”

“I still fight for Marcellus’ revolution.”

“My dear fem. Your brother and his revolution are in prison awaiting execution, along with what remains of your family name and protection.”

Gin considered this for a moment, before finally lowering her gun. “You get my brother and his people out and you have a deal.” Vorn smiled and stretched out his hands. His left forefinger slowly extended itself. With a whip-like motion, Vorn slashed open his right palm; grey blood oozed from it, turning a human red in the air. Then, with a second motion, Vorn slashed open Gin’s palm and shook it. “It is signed upon oaths and blood,” said Vorn in a language that neither Gin nor Caxton could understand. Vorn, his benediction finished, returned to Lingruscan. “The name is Eryn Vorn. Welcome aboard.”

“So you are going to help?”

“Ah. Now here is the difficulty. As far as we know, Pale Face and the Council have no concrete evidence that I am involved in these affairs. At the moment they likely just suspect it. If I were to personally launch a breakout attempt they would know
for certain.”

Gin frowned. “So there goes nothing.”

Vorn did a back-flip, catching a column with his legs. “I did not say that I would not help. Caxton, since you and Gin, seem to work so well, I was wondering if you wanted to expand your horizons into prison breakouts. Tell Virido to give you the full compliments.”

And with that, Vorn disappeared into the darkness and Asael awoke.

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