Authors: Christopher De Sousa
“Did you manage to learn anything more about what happened last night?” She asked, sensing she'd grown uncomfortably quiet and now uneasy with the prospect of Monica questioning her.
Monica smiled. “We did. Naomi proved most helpful. You did really well last night Kat.”
“What did she say?” Katherine asked, nervous about what might come next.
“Although reluctant at first, Naomi was relaxed about speaking to us knowing you were a part of the organisation,” said Monica, still smiling. “She told us about another young man who arrived at the party later. It turns out too, that this young man is not among those who fell victim to this Corrupted.”
“Do we know him?”
“We do,” Monica responded firmly. “Apparently Mr Foster timed his arrival perfectly. He's either incredibly fortunateâ¦or in some way involved.”
She gasped in disbelief. “Involvedâ¦, Albert?”
“I admit that it's difficult to believe the Corrupted would look to form a celestial bond with a human, but we can't rule that out as a possibility.”
“What are you saying? Do you think Albert has ascended?” She asked. “Do you suspect him to be an Indigo?”
She thought it all sounded quite bizarre, and yet it didn't seem impossible. Albert, like her was a student at Anabasis High, and might have been selected long ago by the organisation as a possible candidate. And if a guardian was willing to form a celestial bond with a human, then why wouldn't a Corrupted? After all, she knew from her brief experience about how forging such a bond brought unrealised new powers.
“It's possible he may have ascended,” Monica agreed. “But as for becoming an Indigoâ¦In the past, the Corrupted have always proven too proud to form celestial bonds with humankind. However, some have taken upon human form and walk among us.”
This much was true from what she'd recently experienced when fighting the earthen Corrupted; she'd witnessed many a golem dressed in police attire, and from a distance they'd appeared human before her eyes. But for Albert to be a Corrupted in disguise seemed a bit farfetched.
“So when are we going to try and find Albert?”
“The organisation has already located his whereabouts. Both Blake and the Senator have headed off in pursuit,” said Monica. “You need something to eat, then, we've got more work to do.”
The thought that Albert Foster might have ascended, and even become an Indigo from forming a celestial bond, was rather perplexing. Albert in partnership with a great and powerful being â and such as Namtar didn't seem likely. But then again, prior to forming her own celestial bond, she would never have believed herself capable of such feats with the elements of wind and fire.
Then there was the
. There was so much she wanted to find out about its history. She was convinced there were other facets of this organisation they'd decided to keep hidden from her.
What if I already knew too much,
she thought to herself.
If they had let me go, not insisted that I stay, would they have also used Kishar to erase my memories? And would it have even been the first time they'd done this to me?
She had so many questions to which she wanted answers. She was now determined to expand her knowledge of this organisation, its history, and the war with this Namtar before she was even born. In the meantime however, Katherine knew she needed to work on making both herself and her guardian stronger. For she now found herself sharing her guardian's main priority of defeating the Corrupted. But she also saw it her main responsibility to protect those who were unable to defend themselves â whether that be protection from the Corrupted, or protection from any evil within this strange organisation.
First it was Katherine Munroe, and now it could be Albert Foster
, thought Blake, appalled by the prospect that there might be yet another unfit Indigo out there in the world.
As Blake sat in the back of the utility, he frequently glanced over at his guardians' damp, scaly skin. He felt dehydrated, and as they swept across the desert. The heat of the dry Anabasis weekend was clearly getting to him.
“You don't look too well,” said his guardian.
“It's this infernal heat,” he muttered, his sweat collecting about the bridge of his nose. “Why on earth would he flee all the way out here?”
“Quit your bellyaching,” he heard Margaret say through the utility's intercom. “How about I put the radio on and see if we can still pick up reception.”
“Fine by meâ¦,” he replied, thinking that at least the radio, no matter how annoying, might distract him from his discomfort.
“It's a morning to be thankful for, the recurrent tremors of Anabasis have ceased for the time being,” chimed the voice of a local reporter. “However the question still remains. Is this just the calm before the storm? Here at Anabasis AM, our hearts go out to all those who have experienced loss during these difficult times.”
As the reporter continued to speak, his voice often muffled by a sudden loss of reception, Blake couldn't help but mull over his choice of words.
The calm before the stormâ¦
, he pondered, his eyes resting upon Kulullu.
Is this what it has come to?
Since his earliest days in this organisation, he'd sensed that all its members moved about as if a dark cloud was looming overhead. He'd heard tales over and over again about the wraith of Atlantis â this grim creature dressed in black robes, with a skinless face of pale blue crystal. This Corrupted's steps would leave a trail of ice and decay in its wake. He believed everyone's feelings of dread spawned from this Corrupted â a celestial being who'd been powerful enough defeat all the organisations first generation Indigo, and who would someday return to finish what had been started.
On that precipice,
he'd heard Walter say so often, more than he dared to count,
was when I witnessed all elements converge in a nova of fire, ice, and thunder.
Blake had often been told that he was personally selected, the last bright hope. He'd often been told that this organisation would one day end the suffering caused by those many Corrupted, and he was to be the one who'd lead them. Yet here he now found himself, searching for a classmate considered to be a blithering fool.
“Well now, it seems like we're getting somewhere,” said Margaret, seated in the front. “I can see a truck trundling along up ahead over the next dune.”
“Just get us a little closer,” Blake responded. “Kulullu and I will stop it from there.”
“Very well, just make sure you act with due care. We know nothing of this young man's capabilities, or even if he's involved in any way.”
Soon after, the utility pulled to a halt. Both Blake and Kulullu climbed out of the back and walked down into a ravine of sand. As he peered up ahead, attempting to shield himself from the flecks of sand that whisked about his face, he found that the truck they'd been pursuing was now stuck in front of an embankment.
“I suppose there's no need for me to spike his tyres now?” Kulullu asked.
Blake channelled his energy. “Probably not, but we'll do it anyway for good measure.”
Kulullu crafted a couple of icy spears and flung them toward the trucks tyres. A loud banging noise quickly followed, deafening the placid sounds of the desert's winds. They watched as Albert leapt out of the front seat of his truck and sprinted up the sandy slope.
“I suggest you stop running,” Blake called out, his voice carried by the wind.
Albert gasped, struggling to catch his breath. “Mathiesonâ¦, what are you doing all the way out here?”
“I should be asking the same thing of you,” Blake replied, watching the young man stumble forward while clutching the waist of his jeans.
With his baseball cap on back to front, his sleeveless shirt soaked at the armpits, and his jeans now hanging about his bottom; Albert slowly waded through the sand and back toward his truck.
“What have you done to my ride?” He yelled, when he saw the shards of ice lodged in his trucks' tyres.
Blake looked on as Albert tried to tug the shards free. “I'd say I've made some much needed alterations, wouldn't you agree? Now you can pawn it for scrap metal.”
“You're a dead man, Mathiesonâ¦”
“Was that really necessary?” He heard Margaret suddenly grumble from above the ravine. “The next time you want to pull off a stunt like this, perhaps you'd warn me first so I can knock some sense into you first.”
“I would expect from you nothing less,” said Blake. “And that is why I didn't tell you. You have no idea how much this kid annoys meâ¦, and almost anyone else within a thousand foot radius.”
“What did you just say?” Albert snarled, bustling toward him.
With her master threatened, Kulullu immediately stepped forward and propelled a series of ice picks toward Albert's feet; Blake sneered on seeing Albert gawk at Kulullu with his bottom lip trembling.
“You're one of themâ¦, Albert responded, stammering. “Please, I don't want any trouble. Why won't you leave me alone?”
Margaret trudged toward him with Kishar atop her shoulder “Mr Foster, we only wish to speak with you, there is no need to feel alarmed.”
“Who are you peopleâ¦? What are you peopleâ¦?” Albert stuttered, his eyes darting back and forth between both Kulullu and Kishar.
“Do you even need to ask?” Blake questioned. “After all, you've seen a somewhat similar spirit before, haven't you?”
Blake wasn't entirely sure what to make of Albert's reaction next. Perhaps this could all be an elaborate act to catch them off guard. But on the other hand, Albert looked so terrified that Blake thought his eyes might pop out of their sockets. If this was an act, then it certainly was a good one. For now Albert, rather than offer a response or dwell on his fear from meeting these guardians, chose to turn his attention back to the wheels of his truck.
“My ride,” he cried. “Do you know how much it cost me, how much effort it took to get her fully customised?”
“We will repair or replace the vehicle if necessary,” Margaret assured him, as she moved forward and tapped the trucks' bonnet. “But that will only happen if, and when, you are willing to cooperate.”
He blubbered back at her. “Replace it? Do you not know an Albert Foster custom classic when you see one? You cannot replace a truck like this!”
As he continued ranting about the intricacies of his custom job, Blake looked on while feigning to listen, seeking to detect if there was anything Albert might be hiding from them.
“What's that on your shoulder?” Albert soon murmured, the subject of his gaze having returned to that of the guardians.
“This is Kishar,” said Margaret. “She is my guardian. Now if â
“-So, all these things are aliensâ¦right?” Albert interrupted.
“They are in a senseâ¦,” Margaret replied, seemingly taken aback.
“They are inter-dimensional beings; spirits who have entered our world from another celestial plane.”
“Well, that would make more sense,” Albert nodded in agreement, and much to Blake's incomprehension. “At first I thought I was running away from some kind of vampire or a gargoyle, which is why I kept driving until sunrise. You know, since vampires can't survive within the sunlight, and since gargoyles just turn to stone. And now I find myself looking at a fairy and aâ¦fish lady?”
Upon his utterance of the word
and with her jagged teeth bared, Kishar instantly pounced from off Margaret's shoulder and rushed toward Albert's ankles. She clung at his jean leggings, gnawing away at the fabric.
“What is it doing?” He screamed. “Get it off me.”
“Kishar, that's enough,” Margaret snapped. “I'm sorry; she's normally a warm natured spirit. But she hates being referred to as aâ¦, well you know.”
He rubbed at his ankles. “What do you want with me?”
“Believe it or not, we're actually here to help,” said Blake, his hands over his mouth to refrain from chuckling. “We have a few questions we'd like to ask, as we're trying to hunt down what attacked you.”
He spluttered in disbelief and glared back at the damage caused to his truck. “What? Here to help meâ¦?”
“Would you stop overreacting? The only damage I caused was to your tyresâ¦, the rest you did all by yourself,” Blake said with a frown, and as he glanced over at the trucks' chipped paint, the dents about its driver's side door, and its hanging bumper. “We need to know about what you saw last night.”
“Give me one good reason why I should tell you anything?” Albert questioned, his eyes narrowed.
“If you don't help us, then I can only fathom you must have something to hide,” said Margaret, bringing out a cigar from her jacket pocket.
“Look I've already told youâ¦, he replied, his eyes cemented upon Kishar. “One of those alien thingsâ¦one with wings, started to chase after me.”
“It wasn't from a party by any chance?” Margaret asked.
“Yeah, but I arrived later,” he said emphatically, averting his gaze. “When I finally got there, everything was already a mess and everyone was lying about the place unconscious. So I got out, as quickly as I could.”
Although Blake would be the last to admit it, he was genuinely impressed that Albert had actually seen the creature, and then escaped. But he was also in doubt over the truth of what Albert had told.
Why would the winged Corrupted even bother chasing after him in the first place
? He wondered.
Is it possible that Albert has ascended, and this winged Corrupted had tried to form a celestial bond?
“I then saw this winged alien chasing after my girlfriend,” Albert continued. “So I tried to draw its attention away and make it follow me to my wheels instead. Then I jumped in and sped away as fast as I could for the desert.”