Chapter 4:

Guardian Souls of Eden

Setting Sun Story: Beta

The Deacons’ High Tower - New Special Tasks Group: Liberators - 7:12 PM

“Liberators huh? What do you think that means?” Asks the high pitched and excitedly shaky voice of Jun. 

Above the walls of the city, the dark world outside is erupted in red haze. From the ground looking up, the sky is clear, red, but clear. Looking outward from the tower’s front platform however, the North blocked by the ovular building itself, a strange effect bars the eyes, like a gaseous form of layered glass, forcing the viewer to only make out vague shapes on the horizon. 

A staircase, reaching from this place in the heavens down to the central square of Baustas, descends at the South end of the platform, dropping down to a marble fountain, spitting crystal clear water, day and night. 

Massive stone doors, upon which is an etching and design found nowhere else in the city, slam shut behind a group of five soldiers. In fact, the entire building looks out of place, with a smooth, and almost reflective material in its make, with the aerodynamic etches surrounding the shell, perhaps to keep it standing over the windy plain the city was once built upon.

Three younger soldiers are all dressed in uniform, the two boys, Erin and Rain, wearing black and red jackets over white dress shirts with dark neckties and black slacks, and Jun in a buttoned up heavy sailor jacket, sewn with numerous pockets, a neck-bound cape, and a skirt that reaches down to her knees. 

Upon the cape and the backs of the jackets are a symbol of the Savior, over a red flag bordered in gold. 

They are followed out of the building by two men, one significantly older than the other, Taron and Zalach. 

The two of them are dressed in the same combat garbs they’ve worn for years, sleek metal frames, tailor made to wash perfectly over their bodies, Taron’s styled in a motif of the wolf, and Zalach’s pressed flat and pointed to resemble the brush strokes of the wind.

Under his shoulder, Taron carries an arm-length object, wrapped in cloth.

Erin rips the buttons open on his uniform, and with his index finger, pulls at his tie, loosening it around his neck. 

“They really made us wear uniforms for that? Drag it out more, will they?” He complains in a calm manner, running a hand through his red hair, which appears flaming under the Savior’s light.

“That’s it though!” Jun yells, practically leaping over to Erin, the two small buns in her hair, bearing great similarity, but an increased precision to Arrabelle’s, bouncing uncontrollably, almost falling apart in the wake of her rabbit-like trembling happiness. 

“Oh man, I was worried I wasn’t going to make it!” She says, smiling with thin lips and a small, upturned nose. 

Her features are unique to the city of Baustas, her name being obviously exotic, but her eyes remain the same red. 

Erin has always been inviting of Jun’s curiosity and excitement, accepting her clench on his wrists as she pours out her excess energy, dangerously spinning him around the platform. One misstep could send him hurtling into open air.

“We were handpicked for this, though,” Rain says, looking out over the city below, and tilting his head to lay one eye on her, letting his neck-length black hair fall out of position over the side of his face. 

“There would’ve been no possibility of failure, only if you were to change your mind at the last minute,” He says in a lecturing tone.

Jun releases her grip on Erin, losing her confidence, and running her hand up and down her arm. 

Erin spins into Zalach, who helps him to stop. Putting a hand on his temple, Erin reaches out with the other, trying to balance himself in the nausea.

“Well, unlike you guys, I’m not Bau-” She starts, but noticing her fault, her eyes widen and point at Taron for forgiveness of the faux pas. 

He remains unspoken, with emotionless eyes pointed right back at her. Unlike most, she’s come to see those as eyes as a commending, almost happy look from Taron. 

She breathes, calming herself.

“Huh?” Erin asks, pulling his face in front of her’s to get attention. 

“What did you just say?” He presses.

“I mean, unlike you guys, I don’t feel good enough sometimes- is all…” She says, trying to cover for herself. 

Anger pours out onto Rain’s face. He approaches, creating a pseudo argument triangle with the other two.

“You’re joking right? Taron raised you himself, even if we weren’t Chosen by the Deacons, you’d be a sure-shot,” He argues.


“Well nothing, some of us had to work hard to get here. The least you can do is try not to be so pitiful.”

Erin puts a hand out to Rain’s chest as the conversation escalates.

Zalach flicks at Taron’s ponytail, which sits higher on his head than Arrabelle keeps hers.

“Probably better shut this down,” He whispers. 

The murderous intent so clearly defined in the Special Tasks Commander’s figure and straight face fades the moment he responds.

“I don’t know how, I’ve never led kids this young.”

“That’s bullshit, I was this age when you took me in, just act like you would normally,” Zalach presses. “You’re the commander, just be loud, it’ll shut ‘em right up.”

Taron clears his throat, and as the three come right to attention, a subtle nod and satisfied surprise crosses Zalach’s face. He crosses his arms, issuing superiority over his peers some fifteen years younger. 

He leans over to Taron once more.

“Even easier than me, I woulda never snapped to like that,” Zalach says. 

Taron stifles a chuckle, nostalgic for his early years as Captain.

The three stand embarrassed, waiting for an order.

“At ease,” Taron commands with a deep and powerful voice.

They drop form.

“Today marks a new chapter in each of your lives, I’m sure there’ve been harrowing years,” He shouts, eying Rain. 

“But from here on out, you’re the best of the best, and you will act like it.” 

Rain looks to the ground, out of the eye contact from Taron. Jun, a few feet away, feels as if she might explode.

If she wasn’t excited before, anytime Taron leaves his shell to make a speech, she goes off the wire.

“The Baustian Special Task Force has a tainted past, the Deacons have surely made you aware of this,” He starts again, Zalach and Jun both taking it to heart. 

“So it is of our highest priority that the Liberators carry the legacy of our former brethren, the Patriots,” Taron says, hanging on that name. 

With the reminder of the Patriots, Taron is plagued with the faces of a long lost history, turning a moment of political redemption into an endlessly swirling pit of remorse. Nothing can make up for what he allowed happen. Those men will never be redeemed, and I should never be forgiven, he thinks to himself. 

Zalach notices the cloud forming in Taron’s head, and like rewinding a toy, elbows him back to reality.

“There are things that I expect from you three,” Taron continues suddenly, turning to face Zalach. 

Zalach watches a bead of sweat drip down Taron’s face, and a cry for help filling in Taron’s eyes. 

He smiles at his Captain with a smug wink.

“Cooperation, and mental stability,” wiping the sweat and looking at Rain and Jun respectively.

“Failure to maintain both, will find you killed.”

Taron finds himself walking to the stone railing where Rain sat moments ago. He plants his hand down on the wall, as a rush of air comes rolling over the platform.

“Those who remain outside the wall are savage, they care not about your feelings, nor your satisfactions,” Taron lets it sink in.

“Now go home, and get some rest. I know better than anyone that the Deacons love to keep people long.”

Taron turns back to his fledgling warriors with something that may or may not be a smile. 

They nod back, and salute, punching a fist on either shoulder, and running it down the front of their chest, one after the other.

Taron and Zalach wait as the young leave.

Zalach watches them descend with a smile. The wind running along his dark buzzed hair sends a chill down his spine.

“Yyy-ow,” He vocalizes, before throwing around his shoulders and turning to Taron. 

“See? Look at you. You’ll make a fine boss-man for these kids!”

“I can’t keep a grip on all of them.”

“Come on! Look at Jun! Look at your own daughter. You’re gonna be okay. Besides, you managed us just fine back in the day,” Zalach says, trying to pull his master together.

After sitting on Zalach’s words, Taron furls his eyebrows, looking Zalach in the eyes.

“Uh oh, what did I say?” Zalach asks, backpedaling.


Zalach walks to the edge of the platform, leaning against the small stone wall.

“Yeah, now’s as good a time as ever, I guess,” He says reluctantly.

Scratching the back of his head, he turns around, and leans down on the railing.

“You’re leaving,” Taron concludes.

Zalach responds with a nod, looking up into the red dots lining the dark sky.

“Why, Zalach?” Taron follows.

“You know, we’ve done a lot of questionable shit over the years.”

“What we do-”

“I know, I know. It’s all for the Savior-” Zalach starts, pauses, but decides to be out with it.

“For the Deacons,” he finishes.

Taron is confused, his wrinkling face in unmoving questioning.

“I know what we’ve done is necessary,” Zalach rants. 

“But I can’t help shaking this… this feeling. Like if I don’t make up for some of it now, I might never get the chance.”

“I can’t say I follow,” Taron says, trying his best to make sense of Zalach’s will.

To Taron, it’s strange that a soldier would ever lose his will after triumphing what Zalach has.

“Well, I guess you wouldn’t,” Zalach says, shutting him down.

“You’ve already done more than leave your mark,” he continues.

Zalach looks at the object bound in Taron’s hand.

“With even more to show for it. You got a beautiful kid, you know that?” Zalach asks, a depressed look weighing on his eyelids.

His desires pull him in two opposite directions. On one hand, a bond stronger than any friendship, any blood can give, a surrogate family, and the opportunity to teach of the world to budding life.

But something draws at him. Freedom, finally, from a life he deems fully lived. If another one might wait just around the corner, maybe he can be someone else entirely, not just the amalgamation of his past wars.

“This is really all I’ve ever known. I’ve never had the opportunity to do something nice. Meet someone. Normal, human shit. You know, I’m worried Arra’s headin’ the same way. Maybe we should team up,” Zalach finally opens, waving his finger around and chuckling as Taron wraps his head around everything.

“You underestimate the weight of your actions, you’re a hero already,” Taron tries.

“Nice try boss,” He fires back, approaching Taron, and putting a hand on his shoulder. “But I think this is it for me.”

He puts his foot on the first stair step down, and descends. A fire lights in Taron’s heart, he even nods to himself before turning to face his brother-in-arms.

“ZALACH!” He shouts out in the powerful and booming stature that earned him his communal title of Howling Wolf. The young comrade turns and looks up with a smile. Always with a smile.

“See? Just keep using that voice with ‘em.”

Taron’s eyes are alight with passion, Zalach hides how off-guard it puts him.

“Good luck,” Taron utters softly.

“You know me, I don’t need it!” Zalach shouts back, throwing his hands behind his neck, and cocking his head to the stars, walking down into the city. 

He thinks to himself.

Anything and everything that man has ever spoken to me… it’s always been about fighting, the Savior, the City.

Zalach laughs at the air, once again confusing Taron, who stands watching over him. Maybe the spirit of adventure is alive in you yet, Boss.