“Escape” – Ta’oma’

The cliff is steep and the lands below are bustling in this early spring afternoon. Soon, very soon, I shall rule this world, and with it the universe. It has been over two hundred years since we were woken by Acacius, but  there is still no sign of him Without him, the armies of Aelia will fall and the children of light will be corrupted with the blood of the innocent.

I can taste the iron in the blood of victory in the cool air. My armies are committed and it won’t be long before the final battle starts.

***

After I awoke, I realised that the world had changed in the two thousand years that I was asleep. Humanity had kept itself busy fighting between themselves – we were never even missed. If only we weren’t restricted to meagre fractions of our armies if we are to fight on this world or they could have witnessed a real war.

My awakening meant that the other nine was also awake. The only wildcard was Acacius and his complete absence meant that this was, for the first time in all eternity truly between the armies of the dark and the armies of the light. I knew that to achieve victory, I needed allies.

More importantly, I needed a strong human presence since this was would be fought on all fronts. I sent my team of four to the four corners of the world to build an empire, to make allies and be ready for my call. This works as a good deterring tactic, particularly since Aelia and her armies will be reluctant to spill the blood of the innocent.

It doesn’t matter how powerful my army is if I don’t know where the enemy is. This was for me to tackle.

It took a lot of hunting and a few years ago, I discovered the location of one of their offices. The head of the corporation, Lucia reports directly to Aelia. She was my target, and I got to know her. We fell in love and together, we will rule all that is, and all that ever will be…

***

As I turn around, I can see Lucia’s airship in the distance dropping her off. I changed the plans to move the final battle a few weeks earlier and she is not going to like that. Our preparations finished ahead of schedule and there is no point in waiting.

I don’t like having to walk all the way over there but there is far too much at stake and it is not worth the risk of being spotted by anyone. The ground starts to turn muddy as rain starts to pour down, as if sad to see the world as it is come to an end. I can feel the rain dripping down my face and I can see her now, her long black hair clinging to her face and her black coat. She is walking slowly towards me. I smile. She smiles back, but its different. I haven’t seen this smile before.

She knows something that I do not… not yet and I can feel my gut twisting – I am not going to like what is to come.

The clouds clear, the rain stops and sun’s brightness streams through with a vengeance. She takes her coat off to reveal white, pure pure white silk clinging close to her soft skin. Her hair changes, the water in her hair glistens, for a moment, and slowly changes to gold, dry, and flowing the soft the soft breeze.

The irony of the betrayal made me smile. This was Aelia herself. Now, we are both equal, just on opposite sides, so I know that she would not be here unless her armies were nearby. I know that her lieutenants are engaged elsewhere through my other sources.

She kneels on one knee and picks up the sand, which is now dry and throws it into the air. From it springs beautiful creatures of gold and platinum, thousands of them. in the blink of an eye, there was an army.

The beauty of it brought a tear to my eye as it always did and I took my stand. She smiled a confident smile and I laughed. She mistook it for arrogance and her smile widened in preparation for victory.

Just as they prepared to attack, there was a loud boom through the sky. It was one of my transports, zooming along at mach something or other. Too fast to pick me up but not to drop something off. Not something, but two of my lieutenants. Before Aelia and her army recovered from the surprise, the two lieutenants had already thrown their daggers at her. The three of us are charging towards them all.

I can see the two daggers join together in front of me to form a sword and going right for Aelia. I’m glad there are rules against using “modern” weapons – swordplay is just more fun. The satisfaction you get from plunging it into a body is unparalleled – where is the joy in squeezing a trigger?

Before the sword finds its intended target, one of her soldiers get in front On impact, it turns to dust, but before the sword has a chance to fall to the ground, my hand is around the hilt. She has her sword out as well. To either side, I can see my lieutenants fighting through hordes of the creatures.

As I raise my sword to strike, I can feel the rage, the anger and the desire for destruction boiling to the surface. I want to slowly place this sword into her heart. Just as I was about to bring the sword down and strike, I hear something metallic drop down at my feet. It beeps and sends out a powerful shockwave throwing us all apart. It takes me a second to recover and I hear the noise of a car – who still drives those?

It screams through the space between the three of us and the army. It spins around to separate the army from us. I can see from his manner, the cigarette in his hand, the hipflask on the passenger seat, and the music blaring loudly that its Acacius. He gestures for us to pop in and without hesitation, we jump in. He turns around and speeds to the cliff…

The army of Aelia following behind. Before I can ask him what the hell he was doing, we are flying off the edge of the cliff. Just as I wonder if I should have just stayed and fought, I see an airship – its docking bays are open. We land, race to the end and come to a stop. He switches the car off and after I take a moment to catch my breath, ask him why he still drives around in one of these. “Meh, I still like them”, he tells me.

“Bzzzzz” – Acacius

Ah, of course, now is the perfect time for the phone to ring. My tongue is in her mouth, my right hand on her bra buckle, a step away from unclasping it, my left hand is in her hair. She is sitting on my lap with her hands frolicking through my hair. The curtains are open, its snowing heavily outside.

We’ve both had some nice red wine, the music is perfect, it is tugging at my heart strings, this is perfect, romantic with a hint of filth, the perfect time for my phone to buzzzzz. I know that I have a few seconds before the ringtone kicks in. My right hand changes it mind, moves over to the phone and pushes ignore. At least it doesn’t call for anything more than one arm.

My right arm makes it way to her back. I like the way her tongue feels, particularly the stud she has in there… not sure exactly what word to use to describe it. My right hands feels along the bra strap onto the buckle again…

bzzzzzzttt. Perfect! its important, but thats ok, its not urgent. I wonder what it could be, for a moment, as my right arm repeats the ignore.

My right hand just strokes her back this time round. I need to allow for a minute or two. The phone could ring again but it didn’t. My body is in automatic pilot, keeping the pace but does not have my attention, not yet. One… Two… Three… Four… Five… I could as slowly as possible… Six… Seven… Eight… and there it was, not a ring, not a bzzzzzzzzttt, but a short burst bzztt. I know what is coming… One… Two… and my phone screams… Its not a call, its not urgent, not at all, its an emergency.

Why is my tongue still in her mouth? I roll her over, take my tongue out, grab my shirt, my phone and walk out as I start to button up, As I close the door, I hear her shouting out for me to call her. Ring up the lift, put my headphones on and click play. Music screams. I need to make a phone call but it’ll have to wait until I’m out of the building.

The lift pings, the door opens and reveals and rugged man with long-ish, ruffled hair, tight shirt, jeans. Can’t help but admire the man and his animal magnetism. Now that is why there should be more mirrors in the world!

I have a minute maybe 90 seconds before I need to deal with this, so I dissolve into the music – auto-pilot.

As I scream out of the garage, I call. It rings only once. “The coordinates for the base Aquila has been compromised”, he tells me. “How long do we have”, I ask. “ten to fifteen minutes. The base is already in auto-destruct with 9 minutes”, “I’ll be there in five!”.

Heavy snow, nicely under the influence of a bottle of nice red wine and I have five minutes when it takes me 20 on a good day. Now, this is what I live for. As the phone disconnects, music comes back, loud and and the whole car reverberates with the bass as the pedal hits the metal – blitzing through the traffic, I can feel the adrenaline hit as I reach over to the passenger street to grab the hip flash and bring it to my lips. I can feel it tingling down my throat. The only thing that could make this better is a cigarette, but I have to wait until the next stretch of straight, and then I spot the lights.

Hmmm, I wasn’t expecting them for another 30 seconds. Oh well! as I turn into a corner, I notice the the lights are red and cars a backed up ahead, opposite traffic is trickling down slowly, so I take the only sensible choice I  have, to weave through oncoming traffic and slide through the lights turning right. I pick up the pack of cigarettes from the passenger seat, flick it open and bring it to my mouth so I can fish one out. Grab the lighter and light it.

As I look in the rear-view mirror, the lights are already so far behind that I can’t seem them through the snow.

I have a minute, 90 seconds to relax.

I can see the door opening – no matter how many times I have enjoyed the automations, I still appreciate it – the less I have to do the better.

The car screeches to a halt as I open the door and get out. The door open automatically – you gotta love technology. I walk through and there is a countdown timer projected onto the wall with a cartoon of a smiley face exploding instead of the zero’s. That still cracks me up! Four minutes and thirty seconds to go. I’m thirty seconds early. I hang a right into the kitchen, straight to the fridge to pick up a nice cold bottle of beer.

Walking back into the main space, with just over four minutes to go, I am drawn to the conference table in the middle with all the pizza – I need to pick up a slice.

As I walk over to the table, I am told that the outer perimeter sensors have detected an incursion. That gives us another seven minutes. An extra three minutes. They are getting faster. I’m glad for the pizza – I wonder if they knew that I was in the mood for some pepperoni.

As I enjoy the pizza, I ponder on whether to delay the auto-destruct by a few minutes so that I can catch a few more of them in the blast. My train of though is interrupted by an informational dialog popping up on the wall to tell me that all sensitive information has been wiped clean and that all personnell has been evacuated. Two minutes to go – we are also getting faster, but we are down by one minute.

“Delay the auto-destruct by four minutes”, I tell them. “But that’ll give them a full minute” responded Arin. “Good!” I thought and nodded to arin. The timer was reset.

As the countdown went down to a minute, the building sensors told us that they were just entering the building and I imagined it. They think that they are early, that they beat the timer. I know that they will see the welcome banner as they walk in – I like that! This is the first time that they will have seen that. They have never gotten this far before.

And they’ll meander in, with all their gear, signalling and shouting, the room must be filled with adrenalin and testosterone. For a moment, I feel bad for them, but let it go. As the timer goes down to ten seconds, I wonder if they got to the heart of the building, whether they are trying to bring the dead machines back to life, opening up filing cabinets with cute little messages on them. I wonder if they smiled.

As the counter hit zero, I know that they heard it, the explosion right outside the building. There are no longer any exits to this building. The building no longer has any windows – the explosion blew them out. It’ll take them a second to figure out what happened. All of the walls of the building now light up with a timer, and the soft sweet voice of a girl counting down… Five… Four… Three.. Two… One… Zero… The zero is a smiley face. It teases them for a second, then explodes, and so does the whole building. They didn’t stand a chance.