Read Ascension Online

Authors: Christopher De Sousa

Ascension (3 page)

The water guardian brushed back a fringe of long black hair from out her face, and extended her webbed hands into the air. He licked his lips in response, and stood before her with his wings in full extension and his black marble body fully exposed.

“What a day. First to enjoy such a feast, and now to find myself challenged by a guardian,” he smiled, baring his blood covered fangs before her. “I also applaud your ability to anticipate my arrival. Now remains the question of whether you can stop me?”

In that instant, and with a whoosh of the water guardian's palm, liquid water writhed and solidified. She grasped at a newly formed javelin of ice, and prepared herself to impale Rabisu with one timely strike. Rabisu simply jeered back at her gleefully and heavily beat his wings. Fierce winds then thrashed up and about the rooftops, knocking many an armed operative off his or her feet.

“You only waste my time with such inept toys,” he roared.

But he soon learned that his attentions should not have wavered from the water guardian; for he felt a splinter of ice in his side had left him with a nasty gash. He cupped the wound; dark, oily blood trickled like a stream down his clawed fingertips. For Rabisu, such pain was negligible, but his pride had been tarnished.
I am one of Namtar's Reapers, one of his very finest
, he thought to himself.
And yet a mere water guardian has challenged me, even drawing of my blood
.

Enraged, Rabisu charged toward the water guardian and pierced her cold and fragile body. At least, that's what he thought had happened. But as he gazed down at his drenched marble exterior, he realised that the water guardian had at the very last moment stepped out of the way and left a mirage in her wake.

Such a useful skill
, he thought to himself. At least, this was the only notion that could make sense, for he was sure he'd dealt the water spirit what otherwise would've been a fatal blow.

He pivoted around on the balls of his feet; the guardian stepped out from behind another copy forged from water, holding yet another javelin crafted of ice.

Only now did Rabisu question that perhaps he'd underestimated this water guardian's strength.
Is this the true power of a Corrupted when one has made a bond with an Indigo?

He could only imagine what it would be like. He glanced back and forth between the armed operative's above; his red eyes came to rest on a cloaked man amongst their ranks.
It must be…yes, I am quite sure of it
, Rabisu decided.
This young man is indeed her Indigo
.

The water guardian then hurled the javelin, and it shattered into a thousand pieces against the coarse concrete floor. He hadn't made it easily, but Rabisu had again evaded the brunt of her attack. He pounced high up into the air and took flight.

Once again he found himself soaring through the night sky; only this time not as the hunter, but as another's prey. He often took the time to cautiously glance back, to ensure they'd failed to pursue him. Eventually, having travelled more than a mile through the sky, he believed he could finally let out a slight sigh of relief. Rabisu then sensed he was safe, albeit hardly unscathed. With significant discomfort, he hovered toward the city's centre, clasping his side. It seemed the wound dealt by this water spirit had caused him more damage than he'd anticipated. Had he stayed and fought any longer, he knew he'd have lost his life, almost certainly.

Anabasis: a small city in the southwest, surrounded by vast expanses of desert, was over the horizon. It was where Asag, one of Namtar's lowly ranked minions, had recently taken up residence under the guise of a local police chief.

As he drew nearer a large block of tall buildings, Rabisu searched with his sights set upon finding a very specific address. Given his impressive senses, it took little time to find it. Fifteen Anabasis Way soon lay before him, and he landed atop the railing of its small balcony. Before him now was a wide set of glass sliding doors, and an elderly gentleman he noted, slowly approached the balcony. The old man, with a grizzled beard and balding head, slowly parted the doors so that he could enter.

“So, you've finally arrived,” the elderly man stated bitterly, his shoulders hunched.

Rabisu promptly reached out and clutched the scruff of his neck, and intently examined every feature of his face. The man looked back at him with a twitch of his dark brown eyes; a dust-like substance streamed down over a liver spot on his forehead.

“This look really suits you Asag,” said Rabisu. “It conceals your grotesque features and you can now masquerade within such a skin. Although, I'd have recommended you choose a little younger, one less bereft of life.”

Asag trembled before his gaze. “Please lower your voice. I'm not sure if my secretary has left yet.”

“What concern is that of mine,” said Rabisu, relinquishing his grasp.

He reached out, tearing away at the nearest window blind. He tugged at the fabric, ripping it into fine strips, and wrapped the strips about his open wound. With his focus returned to Asag, the old man appeared to have lost some of the colour in his face. Rabisu wondered what was going through this minion's mind, and he shared a wicked smile with Asag while he envisioned the many possibilities. It would seem his reputation had preceded him, for Rabisu was notorious in their circles as being a
‘troublesome'
Corrupted; one with the tendencies of a deceitful trickster. Rabisu figured that Asag was anxious about what he might, or might not do next, and so he commenced to disrespectfully toil about Asag's office examining many a piece of artwork that hung on the walls, and chucking them carelessly about with reckless abandon.

“Randall Waite,” he sniggered, upon snatching a name plaque from off Asag's work desk.

“Yes, that is the human name I go by.”

This too he frivolously tossed; the plaque crashed and shattered through a nearby glass cabinet door.

“Where is my Lord,” Asag questioned. “Are you all that he's sent?”

“If our Lord were here, I'm afraid you'd no longer walk among us,” said Rabisu, feeling somewhat spurned by the suggestion that alone he might somehow be insufficient for the task. “He has grown impatient with you Asag, of that much I'm aware. By now it was expected you'd have stunted the growth of this rogue organization.”

He watched as Asag's complexion crumbled in response to his words speaking of Namtar's expectation; shards of stone and sand fell in streams from his face onto the office's carpet. Rabisu peered down at the carpet, and at what remained of Asag's human guise. He let out a dry cackle, before he resumed his foraging about the desk to further entertain himself.

“They are more resilient than we had first projected,” Asag replied, now frantically clawing away at his face. “The numbers of my Golem brethren, reduced to dust when faced with their guardian…”

“Cease such excuses! I had my first encounter with their water guardian a little over an hour ago. Once we dispose of the guardian, our Lord expects that you will rid us of the rest.”

Asag lurched forward. “Our Lord has sent others?”

“Both Lilith and Alu have also surfaced,” said Rabisu, as he juggled a table top clock he'd taken off the desk.

“He has sent three Reapers in total?”

“I'm impressed you know how to count. What are you like at keeping track of time?” Rabisu asked him, chucking the clock. “Namtar demands that there be no further mistakes.”

Asag whimpered and his eyes bulged. “If only he'd finished them off when the chance first presented itself.”

“I'm sure he'd like to hear your opinion on the matter. Apparently his own Indigo walks among the local populace,” Rabisu replied, as he trudged past the frail police chief and pounced back up onto railing of the balcony.

He lingered a little while longer, casting a piercing glance back at Asag, in time to see more fragments of stone fall from the police chief's brow.

“Pull yourself together. You best heed my words. Do not test Namtar's patience.”

Chapter 2

Dawn had broken to usher in a new day of warm weather in the city of Anabasis. Winter was near its end. Flowers were in bloom, and the odd tune of songbirds had returned to echo in the air. This was a welcome change in Anabasis and there was that hope had developed the frequent tremors might come to an end with winter's passing. This had become the plight of the city with which was surrounded by sand: a higher than normal frequency of earthquakes.

The change in the season had not gone unnoticed at eleven Delphi Crescent, where a young woman by the name of Katherine Munroe peered out from her bedroom window and off toward the front yard. She observed Duncan, her father, strolling about its centre, clutching a bag of bird seed. She watched him pull off a bird feeder's lid and pour the bag's contents inside until it reached the top. Duncan was a fairly rugged and muscular man, hardly surprising given his passion for manual labour. He often relished putting his body to the test, by accepting any and all physical tasks asked of him by the local people. For Katherine, it seemed comical seeing him carry out menial household chores; particularly some of the more gruelling and onerous tasks she'd seen him perform over the years.

Once he'd finished filling the bird feeder, he glanced up at her bedroom window. But before his eyes had made contact with hers, she had swiftly shifted herself away from his line of sight. She knew, had he seen her, he'd have been up there within a second to knock on her bedroom door and demand they start their morning routine.

Suffice to say their morning routine, or training for lack of a better word, was both physically and mentally draining. He'd often tell her there might come a time when she'd need to use what was learned each morning to one day save the world, and their training had only become more arduous as she'd grown older, but his expectations for her too had grown. At seventeen years old, Katherine was at a difficult age, and she found herself at a crossroad. She believed that the world now demanded her to act as an adult, and that she burden of greater responsibility. But at the same time, she felt the world still viewed her as a child.

She scanned her bedroom. One would not be able to step foot inside without walking on crumpled paper and wet paint. Inside her head, she could already hear Duncan's booming voice telling her to clean up and hurry to join him down in the garage. But rather than take heed of such foresight, she chose to gaze up and about her bedroom walls at the residing artwork. From one sketching to the next, she examined her artwork intently for misplaced strokes or blotches. That was, until her eyes came to rest upon one sketch which she'd often found sucked her into its most peculiar and fascinating world.

The sketch was of Atlantis. An illuminated metropolis of crystalized architecture lay upon the paper surrounded by the world's oceans. There were so many buildings reflecting the sun's rays from above and directing them about and around the ancient citadel, she had thought. These beams of light, which acted to geometrically fragment the drawing, ran like surging charges of energy toward many strange and romantic technologies; technologies such as elaborate airships propelled solely by the winds and solar power, of gem-encrusted water mills which funnelled the seas and yielded of potent electrical currents, and of ancient vessels docked about city ports that glowed with an inexplicable aura. She felt it truly was a sketching that showcased the inhabitant's fascination and profound knowledge for all things symmetrical.

Aside from the enchanting imagery, this sketch was also very important to her for more sentimental reasons, as it was a piece drafted by her late mother. Duncan had said it was drawn to hang up over her bassinet, and her mother had often said it was to
‘cultivate both ones imagination and dreams'
. But the sketch had gone unfinished, her mother unable to complete it before her death, shortly after Katherine was born. For Katherine, the picture was her most prized possession: a memento of one most dear, whom she'd lost.

She also vehemently believed that one could learn a lot about a person in life from studying what they'd left behind. As Katherine was but an infant when her mother had died, she'd often gaze up at the sketching to try and see if there was more she could learn about her mother's personality; about her temperament, and even her dreams. Naturally, she'd often ask Duncan to tell her more about her mother over the years. But more often than not, Duncan found it too painful to reminisce. What he had told her of was how they'd first met, and their time together in service of the military. He'd also commented upon how incredibly athletic her mother was; how talented a soldier she'd been to rise up the rank to Captain, and her forever developing passion for fine arts.

Absorbed in the artwork, it eventually crossed her mind what she should be focussing upon. A rush of anxiety took hold her. She wandered over to her desk, and gazed down at a blank piece of paper. This anxiety stemmed from the fact she'd yet to come up with any unique and acceptable ideas of her own for a suitable high school mascot.

Naomi, her best friend, and also the captain of the girls' basketball team, had recently lobbied for their high school to pursue the designing of a new mascot. And knowing that Katherine had a certain passion for the arts, she'd convinced the school to let her design it. So there was Katherine's predicament, for she still had so little to show for her efforts. Noticeably, the numerous articles scattered about the room did possess many strange and unusual creatures from her imagination. But she had thought to herself time and time again that none of them were quite right. She wanted her submission to be perfect.

Interrupting her musings, she heard the loud and sharp clanging of an alarm clock, its sound relentlessly echoed up and about the walls. It was now time to train, and she knew Duncan mustn't be too far away. She thumped her hand down on top of the alarm, bringing its incessant ringing to an end and climbed back into bed. She wanted to feign sickness, to somehow avoid her morning training, and ultimately the prospect of facing yet another day at school. In truth, she hated school. Aside from the joys of hanging out with Naomi during the day, she found all her classes to be meaningless, and felt that the teachers specifically went out of their way to pick on her. Katherine also figured that if she could find a way to stay home, she'd have more time to concentrate upon what was most important: the designing of this new mascot. The mere notion of skipping school to work on the mascot was a most pleasing thought; to get lost within her artistic endeavours, to spend the day sketching and painting. But she realised it wouldn't be long before reality kicked in, and Duncan had insisted they get started.

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