Dr. Yuuko Kouzuki walks toward the elevator leading to the restricted lower levels with a small girl in tow and a twenty-something woman bearing Captain bars and a 9 mm pistol at her side. Their destination was a small sealed TSF hanger were four of the most unusual of all prizes ever kept sleep in cryostasis.
"XO, please forgive me for saying this but I don't see why you want me to go to a hanger that has never been commissioned since the base was constructed. May I ask what it is you hope to find in a mothballed TSF hanger on the lower levels that requires me to arm myself?"
The doctor glances down at the datapad in her hands for a moment before pushing the call button for the level she had never been authorized. "In that order, you will see why soon enough; yes you may ask; and if I need you to use it but not before I ask you."
The young woman fell silent. She understand all too well that if the XO did not find it essential for her to know something then no more information would be forthcoming. She was already tense having received this bizarre and cryptic order delivered by Kasumi to arm herself and report to the XO's side ASAP. At this time of night, she should be sleeping with her Valkyries at the barracks recovering from her last mission for the XO.
With no other choice left to her, she inwardly resigned herself to be ready for anything.
They departed the elevator and went toward an abandoned hanger door which had been torn off and discarded down the corridor.
A bright bluish light emerging from the access outshone the rust colored orange glow of the sputtering emergency lighting.
Acting on instinct, Isumi pulled the gun from its holster and gently indicated the XO and her aide behind her, Isumi took up a position to the side of the open access.
The XO rolls her eyes. "Geez, you really need to learn how to relax. I have the specimen safely contained for the moment. " Specimen? Contained? "Don't worry! I will tell you when to I want you to shoot if it comes to that but for now put that gun away and go on inside, Isumi. It makes for a bad first impression. He's well behaved considering...well you'll see..." The last was said with a coy smile that made Isumi's flesh crawl.
Isumi swallowed hard. It took an tremendous effort for her to consciously disregard all of her carefully trained instincts in the face of the unknown but she forced herself to obey the confusing order and put her gun back into its holster.
"Yes, ma'am." She dashed inside the door and ducks to her right beyond the entry point. Her hand itches to draw the weapon as she falls into a crouch.
The sight that greets her utterly shatters her sense of reality knocking her to the floor. There surrounded by a strangely shaped dome pulsing with blue light maintained by six pylons arrayed in a hexagonal pen. This traps the "specimen" who appears to have walked fully formed right out of some ancient Christian fairy tale.
A pale skinned man of medium build in his early to late twenties with honey brown eyes and hair down to his shoulders that frames a very hard and intense looking face. Dressed in a solid black uniform without any identifying marks or insignia, he returns her scrutiny with sharp and growing interest. A resonant hum spreads through the air surrounding him like musical chimes. A pair of magnificent bio-luminescent wings composed of achingly pure white energy emerge from his back...
"(Japanese) Welcome back, doctor. I see you've brought me someone new ah...and Kasumi too." He starts speaking a language she recognizes but only dimly understands. "(Russian) Hello, my little songbird. Have you been eating your carrots? Has this cruel and evil woman been feeding you something better than that synthetic swill they dare call food in this godless world? Will you eat something before a strong wind blows you away? Tsk! You are as skinny as a toothpick!" The pair share wan but knowing smiles and nods before the Angel's gaze takes in the sight of the gun clutched in its holster with her nerveless fingers before those intense honey-dipped light brown eyes return to almost casually peeling back the layers of her mind and soul. He is scrutinizing her in a way that leaves her trembling on the ground.
"Its only been two hours since she last ate so no-one is starving here...unless its you." The XO's voice is dimly heard over her tremulous heartbeat. "Is that it? Are you finally hungry enough to eat synthetic food now?" The XO said seemingly amused.
The man's lips curl in distaste that doesn't seem to stop his scalpel like gaze from finishing its dissection of her soul. "(Japanese) Ugh! No, thank you doctor. I'd rather endure a few more hunger pains than eat the synthetic paste your kind somehow amalgamated into something engineered to deceptively approximate real food." The sharpness recedes and she can finally releases a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. "Ah, Lady Captain. You don't have to remain on the floor for my account, Lady Captain. My name is Christopher of the Celestial House Tenebrae and you are Captain Isumi Michiru of Yakamoto Base currently deep underground within the darkening island nation-state of Japan." He inclines his head and shoulders within the narrow confines his wings curling inward away from the bars of energy supported through thick cables fed direcly from the massive ceiling and along the hanger floor to the conduits. "A pleasure...even under these less than ideal circumstances."
"He's a Telepath and an incredibly potent one at that. The very first Telepath if you can believe it. It was his gene sequences that allowed us to help bring our own telepaths into the world like Kasumi here...making him a sort of grandfather to all Telepaths..." The XO giggles before catching herself. "Ah!...Relax, Isumi. Its a joke. Oh, I've retroactively upgraded your security clearance to the level you needed to meet our new friend here but as he is one of our most carefully guarded secrets for reasons I'd rather not go into right now; please keep his nature along with whatever else you learn here related to it carefully to yourself. I trust you shall behave yourself too, Christopher."
A grim smile appears on his face as he regards Mikuru. "I hope you'll forgive me if I don't help you up, Lady Captain." He indicates the curtain of energy surrounding him. "As I was telling your Superior, I am an emissary and a scout not an invader. One made to feel decidedly unwelcome and ill-used despite my arrival at this precarious time in your world's history. "
The Angel turns back to the XO. "Children are a gift...one whose Creation marks the beginning of human existence. The very first step in that greater chain in fact and consequently one quite precious to my kind. I trust your superior understands that fact well enough to concede the point that all involved will repay their debt in blood and tears before we consigned them all to burn to ashes in Entropy's Flames. Whatever Cultural or Religious differences exist between our worlds, our viewpoint gives parents only one intrinsic value: providing a biological shell for souls to experience the mortal world. Therefore, parents do not create children. They merely procreate a vessel into being that calls a nascent soul to Life...nothing more, nothing less. They shouldn't be rewarded for fulfilling a basic human instinct by abusing their children physically or mentally anymore then they should be murdering their children or using them as slaves. Of course, there are still quite a few of the monsters guilty of abusing my trust as well as plundering the lives and innocence of my grandchildren without my knowledge or consent in hiding somewhere that I shall need to call to account once the larger issues have been settled between us. Pater et Mater Familias especially in extremus is Anathema to my kind, doctor."
The XO grins. "Blah, blah, blah." She waves her hand blithly. "All tedious philosophical mumbo-jumbo tangents aside, this Angel wants us to permanently hand over all territory 'tainted' by 'Void's Legions' to his 'Celestial Order' to 'cleanse it' and build something positively utopian atop the ruins to 'balance' the 'scales of Life' in exchange for an multi-dimensional alliance." She laughs. "Oh my God! Have we just entered the Twilight Zone? Someone please pinch me! Ouch! Kasumi! Not like that!"
When the Captain shakes her head her eyes still glued to the Angel unable to believe her senses. The XO mistakes her expression for a question. "Legion is obviously their name for the BETA. Apparently our name just sounds incredibly stupid to him that he can't quite bring himself to call a spade a spade."
"That name your kind gave them is stupid...self-evidently stupid." He glares at her his wings twitching as if in irritation. "You might as well call them the letter 'B' and attach the number '002' on a string then throw it like a bola to trip people up. Still, its even worse to waste so much time over meaningless semantics when so much more to do here. Have you spoken with your leaders yet or shall I simply strip the answers I need from your mind and fashion my own way to the surface? Is it so hard to believe that I need to see what you idiots have done to yourselves when you weaponized a highly toxic form of Gravitational Entropy wrapped in a thin leaky can and unleashed Void's intestinal byproducts everywhere!?"
The XO ignores him and speaks almost casually to Mikuru. "He's insisting to be taken to the surface to inspect the damage himself. Apparently," The look she gives him is similar to one she would have given a pet. "Apparently, Life in a cage doesn't agree with him." The doctor whispers loudly. "It seems to make him really cranky."
"You'll find that those like myself are better suited to a life on the surface world in areas open to the sky, doctor. Is it strange that I prefer the heavens above my head with the earth firmly below my booted feet? Is it so odd that I'd rather be in the skies than incarcerated deep within the subterranean recesses of your earthly incarnation? Doctor, I've had more than enough of pandering to your pathetic power fantasies by tolerating this ridiculous and insulting cage!"
The air around the Angel turns dark as an aura blazes forth into the world surrounding the Angel in a ring of cold light that illuminates him. The aura spins outward crackling against against the curtain of blue energy shorting and melting down the inwardly placed pylons channeling that energy around the Angel. His magnificent wings spread wide lifting the Angel up into the air a long two handed staff forming in his right hand upraised in judgement. Resonant harmonies cast by his wings sharpen chimes into daggers that carve the very air apart.
"You've wasted more than enough of my time, doctor. You will now-" He japs a finger at her his face waging a civil war between anger and irritation. "-answer my very simple question. What is your faction's decision now that they control this ridiculous U.N. Security Council? I have already delivered Alternative V and their supporters into your hands. Its membership on the U.N. Security Council have been culled from power and disgraced within your cradle of power. I can only assume that supporters of your faction have taken their place within your world's corrupt power structure. Recognize that they only do so at my sufferance and then for the one and only purpose that I've made painfully clear from the beginning is absolutely necessary to protect and develop humanity. Surrender your temporal power to embrace a higher Calling, mortal. Embrace the Path of Ascension. Pursue Empathy and all the virtues of Humanity in a way that transcends your baser natures. Join us and we shall help you rebuild your world. Restoring its delicate ecological balance and harmony. Help me to usher in a New Age where each Life might find its true purpose through application of Reason, Balance, Free Will, and Virtue. Honor the Will of Heaven manifested through a Life untainted by such fears and doubts as plague you constantly."
The humming resonance builds as a growing cascade of strange energies builds in both intensity and strength. A strange unnatural wind circulates outward from the Angel sealed in the ruined hanger bay sending chills across her skin.
"For my part, I have been honest and more than patient with your tiresome Cabalist ilk, mortal. As I told the controlling faction before yours...and the one I removed before that...all who wish to reign in the Hell in this dying world shall pay the price for betraying Heaven with much more than your Lives. Void itself shall consume you. Before that happens, I shall seal the Rivers of Souls and the Waters of Life away from this mortal incarnation of Creation forever! I will do so in order to save the other worlds of mankind along this dimensional chain that may yet prove themselves more worthy of Salvation and Ascension than this one has proven after so many of your years striving to convince you to surrender the least of what you are to become greater than you can imagine."
"I now promise you and yours here and now that no more children shall be born into the Hell you will have created for all who live if you can't make your decision right now. Do you understand? Heaven will cast you aside! You shall be completely alone and childless left to await the gathering Twilight of Humanity! All of this world shall fall upon the bleeding edge of an Eternal Night that you can not!...will not!...escape even in death!" The powerful and authoritative voice calms the Captain despite its harsh words and fearful intensity. Its odd but she feels at peace...safe.
Why is that?
"The terms of our Alliance will not allow you to return to what came before Legion. Your people have seen and suffered more than enough of oligarchs and conquerors. Heaven has come here through me to offer you one last chance to unite under its Standard. In return we shall return your world to life, your people to prosperity, and our mutual enemy back to the Void that spawned it. Do you and your superiors agree to forever hand all Void-soaked territory over to my Order starting here and now? We shall restore it in time so people can live there again as per our agreement. Do you and yours swear to strenuously honor the other terms of this Alliance?...without any further delays or equivocations?...or shall you cling to your pathetic worldly power that you'll condemn your world to die for your own selfish desires. If so, I shall 'cut my losses and go home' once I've gathered all the nascent and living souls worthy of Ascension and left your world to die with you. The Choice is yours, doctor; now what say you?"
"Mikuru." The XO's voice was as soft as a whisper with a small smile on her face that carried more sadness than anything else. Isumi's heart quickens its beating in her chest and time seems to slows down. "Mikuru..." The XO pulls the gun from its holster wrapping Isumi's fingers around its handle and tightening the Captain's grip her voice taking on a hardened tone. "Kill it, Mikuru."
in your narrative statements be consistent with verb tense. Use present tense or past tense, but don't switch back and forth.
I'll present below a different take for roughly the same setup but different story with some additional contextual differences seasoned throughout in the harder to do correctly first person viewpoint this time from the mind of the Other. Which one is the better angle to take and why? This time there are four others and they've been...conscripted since early childhood and they have a lot less power over events and their own lives...essentially they are slaves who rebelled and were taken, frozen, and 'acquired' by the scientist in the above. A lot more weakness and even fear from the others here. It has a much more horror centric take on the protagonists (four of them) since they are essentially trapped in this world enslaved by those their Order sent them to save through a Harrowing (reborn into the world, grow up to an early childhood age, kidnapping by state-sponsored terrorism and good old fashioned desperation, forcibly experimented on by amoral scientists desperate to clone or distill their powers down into a mass-producible package (aka the child telepaths of the series) in this parallel universe ultimately come from the gene-splicing body horrors these self-regenerating Angels were forced to endure as mortal children and so on...a lot more distrust and anger obviously but that's the thumbnail synopsis of the prior setup to this chapter which is hinted at but never fully explained (mostly to avoid angsty characters as much as possible). Also the scientist in the above gives him a entropic poison that twists the principles mental state by altering their brain chemistry to prevent the activation of virtually all their supernatural powers making him and the others more violent and callous but also more tractable to certain types of hypnotic suggestion and mind rape by their human-Angel telepath hybrids.
Let me know which execution is best, as well as any strengths, weaknesses, or omissions if you can find them. Hopefully there aren't many problems with spelling or grammar but I'll confess that its difficult to find them all even with multiple proofreads as well as spelling and grammar checks
My kin and I followed our silver haired rabbit down to our quarters amid this artificially constructed warren of cold steel and soulless concrete. As the five of us walked down the vacuous empty steel corridors in silence, I wrap my inner thoughts within layers of random thoughts and fey feelings not born of this world. I have no reason to make it easy for the rabbit to nose through my thoughts and feelings.
The shield for the inner layers of my thought revolves around a cascading litany of otherworldly rhymes from home coupled with of rabbits and other assorted small woodland creatures at play in a Celestial forest glade. The good doctor and her lovely retainer left us to go sleep or whatever after we left that abandoned mecha hanger bay. Fading orange lettering just outside the door proclaimed Hanger 90. Whatever other purpose that dusty cavernous room served is best cast aside along with those horrid little grey coffins. Good riddance.
Our 'savior' is strange. On the surface, it appears that Dr. Kouzuki has chosen to trust us implicitly.
Why else would a 'mother' leave her 'daughter' alone with the likes of fey creatures from other planes of existence? That takes guts or an ambivalence rarely seen in a parent; even a foster parent. I'm not really that much of a silver-tongued angel capable of charming and beguiling women with little nothing more than a few bits and pieces of poetry coupling with the fey melodic tenor-like quality of my voice. Why did the Betrayers replace all their female guards with a bunch of frozen faced steroid addicted musclebound nitwits endowed with less intelligence than God gave the shovel and about as much humanity as a base-borne parasite.
Those curs had cast aside their divine protection along with whatever value their spirits held from the first moment they were presented to us. Low creatures such as them could only hope to hide the weight of their sins under the shadows of the tyranny of their masters. The curs were merely hounds broken upon their Masters Will. Those vermin were unworthy of the effort taken to kill them all. A holy task as those deaths were the greatest boon those existences could render unto this world and its people. As it was...their deaths were too light a punishment for festering stink of their crimes. They all deserved to die. My one regret was not making them suffer as much pain as they brought into the world...into us...before I burned their souls to ashes and grinded their bodies to dust.
No. Enough. Too much Tainted Blood colors my thoughts already. Whether by the late hour or the nigh crippling loss of what these mortals would only call 'extra'-sensory perceptions, the marks of the fey sanguine lethargy scours my soul as surely as the poison leeches the power flowing in my veins. What's worse is that this predatory lust for blood appears to have spread from me to my kin already. The shock and frustration of having to deal with yet another grasping scientist fresh on the heels of the deleritous effects wrought by a distinct lack of proper sleep has left us quiet as ghosts with only our unbooted feet as they chaff at the sterile lifeless touch of cold steel at our feet. The leaden grey silence appears to suit our floppy haired rabbit guide very well. Her impassive face seems to bask in harsh glow of these cold and unnatural surroundings seething with a thinly veiled quality evincing both my pity and my sorrow with equal vigor.
Bah! The degree of pathos surrounding these mortal women has turned overwhelmingly thick I'm shocked it isn't physically dripping down the walls! Its thick enough to swim in! How can this pathos not drive them all mad?!? How can they be so blind!?
Garrett breaks the silence with a wry chuckle that draws a confused look over the shoulder from Kasumi and equal parts grim exasperation and even irritation from my sisters who were both far more attuned to my thoughts and feelings than the girl attired in the manner of a simple small woodland creature. That girl continues to poke and prod around the antechamber of my mind looking for insights shunted from her perceptions. I will still say that my brother always did have the best sense of humor...not that either of my sisters seem to share that opinion. A pity.
The quarters at the bottom of the proverbial rabbit hole did come as a bit of a shock. The silver tressed rabbit had led us to an extremely well appointed suite. The whole place looked more appropriate to a high class four bed two bathroom apartment in that corporate arcology I knew from a past life than anything befitting a secret underground military base. Great care and expense had obviously been shown in the furnishings. Imported Mohagony Tables and Onyx colored Oaken Bookcases lined the walls loaded with classical works of literature and science from a bygone era. What really surprised me more so than all the rest were the four hauntingly beautiful paintings next to the doors to our rooms.
The bedroom I ended up choosing for myself was one that held the most haunting and beautiful painting of them all.
The was an otherworldly almost ethereal beauty to this painting that transcended simple words. It was like the artist herself had to have tapped herself beyond the physical limitations and reached as far as she could into the aetherial medium to create such a thing of tragic beauty. The echos of my Holy Order lay captured within the strokes underlying the conceptual foundation of her masterpiece. The singular angelic figure of a woman clad all in flowing aetherial hued white and blue light stands upon a rocky shore amid the grey leaden wash of a tumultuous storm. The woman glares with such beatific graceful defiance at the onrushing tidal force of a mega-tsunami as it hurtling toward her world intent without intention of wiping everything she knows from existence.
In sharp contrast she lays her hand gently upon the head of a much smaller figure shaped into a small child. This boy clearly no older than maybe five solar cycles relative to this world has buried his small head seeking the false comfort and hope of safety found by clutching his mother's skirt. The child expects even in the most hopeless situation to find both safety, comfort, and reassurance in the mothers love - a expectation truly and completely born of a child's natural innocent confidence that the parent he loves shall drive from their tiny world the frightening otherworldly destructive force hurtling down to drive both of their precious lives to a violent watery grave.
That this woman could face such an overwhelmingly destructive force of nature in this way gives her a form of transcendence over the force that would destroy her. To face a living wall of calamity devoutly bereft of any meaningful awareness, empathy, or humanity for the vast and unimaginable swath of destruction and chaos it would invariably leave in its wake with such refined dignity, courage, and grace. as it would inevitably cast this woman and her child into stillness as the very rock beneath their feet would be torn away from them forever. This painter whoever she was...had so minutely captured those last few precious moments of life that it sharpen the focus to this singular woman forced to face the end of all she loved and valued. No-one would remain alive to remember her as both mother and child would be swept violently into the aetherial realm. The beauty and pathos of this masterpiece was nothing less that the beauty and pathos writ upon this angelic woman's grace, strength, and dignity in the face of her untimely end.
The remaining bedrooms were as tastefully decorated and appointed with small mahogany desks complete with polished oak chairs painted a dark earthy nutmeg brown color. Each bedroom also held their own signature masterworks of art that all varied in tone and texture and emotional subtext. The beds within each bedroom was itself extremely remarkable in that each were mounted upon a mahogany bed-frames with real down feathered mattresses and pillows. Whatever her other flaws, our hostess doesn't skimp on her VIP guests. The walls everywhere were painted in soothing colors of chestnut brown accented with red which contrasted nicely with the other furnishings and painted walls.
The scale of everything was all the more impressive in light of what we had previously experienced at mortal hands. The bedrooms alone were easily more than double the blocky four foot by four foot empty grey cells we 'enjoyed' during our prolonged visit within that thrice damned mountain complex in the middle of the Nevadan desert which in this world somehow bizarrely included a small but sizable portion of the Rocky Mountains within the lines of its state boundaries.
Kasumi left us after delivering fresh set of clean neatly folded clothing for the night. Meanwhile between studying the paintings and our other furnishing in sullen weary silence, the four of us wasted little time in using the bathroom showers to wash away all lingering traces and smells of the cryogas clinging to our skin. The white robes befouled by the faintly foul stench of the cryogas were discarded in a pile in the farthest corner from our side of the two airlock chamber pneumatically sealed seven inch titanium doors opened from the far side by retina and hand-print scanners to our new underground luxury suite however many levels down we are within the subterranean reaches of the Japanese mainland.
I doubt she will let her prizes go freely into the world now that she has us exactly where she wants us. As long as she doesn't inflict greater suffering, she is safe from our retribution. Simply weakening my power isn't sufficient to damn her and allowing to retain the essence of who and what we are redeems her somewhat by making her sin one of ignorance instead of malice. For now, she is content to give us a few carrots but she also knows wants us to know that she knows where the sticks. This is how she means to control us. A gentle yoke with the implicit fear of a much heavier yoke if we invoke her displeasure. Carrot and Stick coercion. She can't kill us but she can always drain us of the tools we need to defend ourselves. Our souls will not allow our bodies to die but neither can our souls shield us from pain and torment. The Harrowing prevents us from killing those who have not cast aside their humanity.
Our very blood would rebel against so much as scratching anyone Heaven herself would view as innocent or redeemable. We can spar with them. Train with them. Argue and Cajol and even Punish them in ways both various and mild. Yet we can never ever hurt them even if doing so would serve 'the greater good.' Heaven takes a dim view on that particular mortal fiction. There is no greater good when it comes to wars of survival. There is no justification for sacrifices that negate humanity for the pursuit of 'saving' it - no matter the circumstances. In the end, the individual must make the choice to sacrifice themselves. Only Heaven herself is exempt out of necessity and then only with those who have sworn themselves to fight to the death in her defense. It is unthinkable to hurt someone you have sworn to protect up to and including the cost of your own existence. In this way, the fact that she sent Kasumi alone is a message in and of itself. She knows our 'peculiar' limitations. She knows our 'weaknesses'. Her unspoken message seems simple enough: serve me or die. Well...she will find us very hard to kill if she tries...
At least, slaying the already Damned is not a sin that requires redemption. She gave us the eyes to see the Enemy in every form it exists; She gave us the will to find them; and above all she gave us both the power and authority to summarily annihilate them from all planes of existence.
This is just...tiring. Whatever surveillance cameras, motion sensors, heat sensors, gas canisters, or guards lay secreted throughout this extreme upscale prison ward will have to await their destruction for another day. Escape if it prove necessary will have to wait. Salvation will have to endure another night for its empty pewter cup to be filled with our souls' lifeblood. For now, the four of us savored our first night of natural sleep in real beds after being trapped in a medically induced coma in those cryopods for the past seven years.
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