Authors: Christopher De Sousa
“The perks of being a boss. If only this was true. But no work done means no money,” she heard Sidney chuckle, as she reclaimed her seat. “I'll see you this afternoon.”
“Right Kat, let's get going,” said Duncan, as he hopped back inside the jeep and started up the ignition. He then reversed back along the gravel driveway and they resumed their journey toward school.
As they travelled, Katherine dared not look at Duncan, fearful that he might revisit his enthusiasm to learn more about Justin. Having been only back at school one week, she'd grown tired of so many people asking questions about her new relationship. Over the winter break she'd started dating Justin, and the last thing she wanted was to become the topic of gossip. Least of all, she didn't want her father to start making a big deal of it.
Duncan gently prodded her arm. “So this Justinâ¦When am I going to meet him?”
“Dad, just leave it be.”
“Fine,” he said. “Let's just listen to some quality music then, shall we?”
He flicked the Jeep's old cassette player back on and resumed humming along with his favourites. Katherine offered a brief scathing glance of disfavour, before she again focused on the passenger side window. She stared out through the glass, her eyes panning from one property to the next: from the large palm trees that gently swayed in the wind at the end of each block, to the finely cut lawns which ran alongside each concrete footpath, and then to a bright pair of eagle-like eyes that momentarily glared back.
She cocked her head. What she saw was from out of this world. Far from what she believed was possible. Katherine figured it had finally happened, that she'd gone completely insane. There soaring at a distance through the air, was a winged creature that only existed in legend.
Just look at them, they waltz about within a state of ignorant bliss
, Rabisu thought to himself, as he peered down from the rooftop at the many students scurrying about below.
What I wouldn't give to taste them all; each a fine wine to quench my insatiable thirst.
This state of affairs felt like a competition to him, as he stood atop the school block between both Lilith and Alu.
To the victor go the spoils
? He wondered.
“That is a nasty wound,” said Alu, looking down at his side. “It seems you bit off more than you could chew.”
Rabisu simply sighed, refraining from his own urge to pounce. “I suggest that you relish this moment while you can. For soon I shall feed. And once I do, even Namtar himself won't be able to stop me.”
“Such insolenceâ¦,” Lilith replied with a scathing look. “One day that tongue of yours will be your undoing.”
“Judge me all you want, but you know well as I that lord Namtar is not so strong as he once was,” he told her, and having come to believe the realm was now his for the taking.
“Every word that leaves your lips is hollow; lacking of any validity or substance,” Alu grunted. “It's astounding how you can keep convincing yourself of such tripe.”
“And it is this attitude that will hinder your own ascension amidst his ranks. For I can sense his power wane, and there will be others like me that will aspire to usurp his rule.”
He watched as Lilith looked down upon the students, licking her lips. “I feel like a hungry cat; looking down upon so many mice dangling there from the ends of stringâ¦, and it's making my mouth water just to think upon the endless possibilities,” she said. “I pray that he rewards our patience.”
“Pray all you want,” Rabisu said, hardly surprised to see he was not the only one craving after sustenance, especially with such a selection within their reach. “But you know well as I he'll only claim the best for himself, and leave us with the scraps.”
“And yet he sent us here to confront their best,” Alu was quick to remind him.
“Then what are we even doing here?” Rabisu asked, his patience running thin. “Why have we not begun the reaping? Even your sister is salivating at the prospect, and yet we remain idle upon this rooftop.”
“Can you not sense it? This is no ordinary school,” Alu told him, as he leapt down from the roof.
Lilith too followed after her brother. “Make sure that nobody sees you,” she had said, before she jumped.
As if any of them could
, he thought to himself.
No matter how âspecial' these students might be; I've yet to sense one of an Indigo's worth.
Out of sight and sound, they darted inside the school block and along a corridor filled with lockers. With each passing shadow: from beneath a number of small tables and chairs, or overhead lights, and any other source available to Alu's keen senses, they pressed forward while cloaked under the guise of one of his many spells. For this was but one of the masked Corrupted's many powers: the ability to use, and manipulate shadows to serve his bidding.
Effective in this case, but nothing more than a series of cheap parlour tricks,
Rabisu had decided, as they further coasted before those few eyes that lingered within the halls at this early hour. Soon they came to a halt outside a sealed door; there was a plaque on its front that read
Principal David Heathgate.
“So this is where you intend to start?”
“Yes, it'll be easier to find those we are looking for upon school grounds,” Alu replied, before they slid beneath the door. “And this office here shall do nicely as our base of operations.”
Once they emerged upon the opposite side, his eyes came to rest upon the principal of this school: a rather plump man, balding, with a long beard, and soft blue eyes. Rabisu instantly felt the desire to lurch forward and bare his fangs, hoping to see if the man would squeal. Only, Alu beat him to it; the masked Corrupted had been quick to approach the desk, and unveil himself before this chunky morsel of energy.
“This is a convenient illusion you have going here,” he heard Alu say, and as he watched the colour drain from the principal's cheeks. “But not nearly so creative when compared to my own talents.”
“Who are you, what doâ¦,” the principal blurted out before Lilith had gagged him.
He looked on as Alu lurched forward, his gloved hands planted about the principal's face. “Hush; there is no need for you to speak. For I can see in you all there is to know.”
“Why are we wasting our time with this old man?” Rabisu asked him, and as he scavenged about the principal's desk to quell of his boredom.
Lilith turned to face him, the horns upon her forehead twitching. “Can you not sense it? This man is one of them.”
“One of whom, do you take this man for an Indigo?” He retrieved a set of papers from off the desk and sifted through them. “Because all I see is a vessel bereft of quality energy, and certainly not enough energy to warrant such a waste of time. I could have already consumed twenty of himâ¦, perhaps more.”
“Are you so dense that you cannot recognize it?” Alu asked him, his voice oozing contempt. “For if you paid closer attention to the flow of his energy, you would know he is, or at least was, a part of this rogue organisation.”
Rabisu moved in closer, examining the man intently, and looking to find what they'd seen in this man that he had not. A familiar scent soon reached his nostrils, for he could smell a celestial energy which had once ascended to the surface. But what drew his surprise was another quality he sensed, a smell that lingered of death.
So this man must have once fought with lord Namtar,
he realised, for there were few who'd confronted the lord of shadows and who'd lived to tell the tale. And with many of those
comprising operatives belonging to this rogue organisation, it was probable that this
was one of them. Still, he saw this not nearly enough to warrant the time they'd spent.
He looked to Alu, his curiosity piqued. “What exactly is it you intend to do with this one? Have you some idea to use him as a hostage? Or are you going to infiltrate his mind, and learn the whereabouts of this specific Indigo and his guardian?”
“A combination of both,” Alu replied. “There is one Indigo and guardian that belongs to this organisation, of this much I am now sure. But lord Namtar had said nothing about the rest. I intend to scour about this school, and much like you, I desire to seek out those richest in energy; for I too possess similar cravings.”
If you think I'm willing to share precious energy; then you do not know me very well,
Rabisu had thought, believing it the ideal time for them to part ways.
“Sir, is everything alright in there?” They heard a receptionist ask over an office intercom, derailing his train of thought.
Rabisu glanced over at the Principal; Principal Heathgate's face was pale, and his eyes were wide open as if he was incapable of blinking.
“Everything's fine, just trying to concentrate and ready myself for the day ahead,” he heard the principal mumble as though he were Alu's puppet.
Rabisu sighed, his eyes focused upon the office's window. “Nicely done, but I have little intention of sharing in this faÃ§ade. From this point onward, I believe I shall do things my own way.”
“Do what you will,” said Lilith. “Just remember, both of you, we've been ordered to eliminate the Indigo, his guardian, and the rest of this rogue organisation. And you mustn't forget that lord Namtar is not the only one party of the
We must be on our guard at all times; for we never know when they might choose to intervene.”
It's not like I can forget this fact,
he thought, and feeling as if he were being talked down to like a child.
Only, I simply don't care.
that Lilith referred to, was not something he knew a lot about. As far as he understood it, there were few who knew much at all of their behaviour and beliefs. But what he did know was there were seven in total who sat upon their board, and that Namtar had been appointed as the sixth. For as the lord of the underworld, he'd claimed this as his right. Only, he didn't exactly share in the other's good will, and had often found himself in conflict with their ideals.
Rabisu had also come to suspect that former Naacal made up the majority of their bench; a collection of deified figures who oversaw the earth's protection since the fall of Atlantis. Ironically, and although Namtar was the cause of the destruction to their homeland in the first place, once he'd resurfaced and recovered his strength, the others had quickly acted to appease him through the offer of this position.
“It's never really made much sense to me why they'd let him stay upon their bench,” he said. “Especially when the organisation we're charged to hunt down is likely the product of this supposed â
. Clearly lord Namtar doesn't care, so why should I?”
“Because we don't want to act in excess of our assignment,” Lilith huffed, glaring back at him. “And we don't need to draw their ire, for we have no idea how they might respond. As for our lord, he exists upon a different level in both power and wisdom, and thus he can afford to have little concern. We on the other hand, have no such security.”
Rabisu flexed his wings and parted the office window open. “You might not, but I'm confident I could hang with the best of them.”
“There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and you tend to cross it at each and every turn,” Alu grunted.
“What you see in me is arrogance, but what I see is confidence,” he replied. “And when it comes to the pursuit of my ambition, I shall require them both. For if arrogance is a quality that shall serve to bring me up, and in turn bring you down, then this will be sufficient for my plans. Because when I inevitably rule, I will need those like you to remain submissive. Like you are now, content to stand in Namtar's shadow, never willing to grow.”
Once they finally reached Anabasis High, the beaten and battered Jeep slowly pulled up alongside the curb.
“Nice wheels Mr Munroe,” boomed an obnoxious voice that echoed about the space as quickly had the vehicle parked.
Katherine glanced outside the window, her eyes coming to rest upon the stocky build of a young man wearing a red and gold basketball singlet, and with a sport cap of the same colours on back to front. She watched as he crept past the jeep, spun round to face her and stuck out his tongue in a mocking fashion.
“Will that boy ever grow up?” asked Duncan through a wry smile.
“Not likely,” she said as she leapt out of the jeep. “After all, this is Albert Foster we're talking about.”
“Very trueâ¦okay honey, have a good day. And please try to pay attention in class,” called Duncan, as he departed back along the road.”
Still within earshot and having heard her father say this, Albert burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. A group of his peers also showed up in the distance, and proceeded to lend their support to his childish escapades. Along with Albert, they all sung a crude song at her expense, and followed in the rear as she made her way across the pavement and toward the school's front atrium.
At this point her cheeks were bright red, yet she refrained from offering a reaction to their taunting and jeering. She couldn't exactly even make out what they were singing about, but she did hear the name
uttered frequently within the odd verse. What had also become more noticeable, and despite the fact she'd often find herself the subject of this young man's teasing, was the evolving of his relentless and condescending pursuits. It took all her concentration and self-control to block this from her thoughts the closer she drew to the school's front archways. She sought to focus her attention on trying to rationalize what she'd just witnessed. For Katherine believed she'd seen a Gryphon of all things, or at least that is how it had seemed. With the imposing body of a lion, and the proud head and powerful wings of an eagle, this creature had stood there in some suburban yard, and restlessly gazed in her general direction. She found it difficult enough tackling the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. Now she questioned her own sanity.