Chapter 10:


Setting Sun Story: Beta

Southern Main Road - Taron and Zalach - 11:03 AM

The world’s darkest and most foul beasts are those that hide under society’s nose, there in the Light for all to see, and none to notice.

Such an ideology was preached to Taron long ago. It’s easy to understand. Power held in the fists of the mighty do not determine any good or evil. Strength is nothing more than a tool, and a patriot serves no purpose apart from their bidding. The laws of righteousness are bound to the subjective eye, and the actions of any good man may kill another.

However, as he stands, his spear interlocked with the ax head of the commander, watching as the eyes of a young man behind them curl upward into his skull, an outstanding fear breaking every inch of the poor man’s being, the words of the Deacons inspire a meaning anew, and Taron understands in the least, the definition of evil.

Taron pumps the trigger of his spear twice, expanding the head to throw the commander’s clashing ax flat in Taron’s direction. The second pull releases the pressure, and thins the spear.

Pulling back and thrusting at the flat ax, he slams the commander’s weapon into his own helmet. It breaks Taron away just in time, as the metamorphosis is now complete.

The follower that once stood before him is no more. In his place, falling down from a bipedal stance to its four muscular legs, a behemoth of a beast: an Angel Monstrosity.

Before it drops to its paws, two large wings erupt from its back, showering out the thick blue ooze that drenches its newborn body.

His old partner, his greatest ally all throughout childhood, through the toughest years of military academy, the shoulder he once sobbed on when he was denied status as a Prodigy, the second follower stands in paralyzing shock of his buddy’s new form.

“Ted?” He asks, as a trembling feeling races through him, turning him as well.

He looks down at his hands. Just beneath his skin, his veins bulge and pop, nothing as it should be. As he feels his nervous system fire off in a hot burn everywhere at once, his vision turns to vibrant blue.

Zalach runs up beside Taron as the second Monstrosity bursts from its human cocoon.

“Some kinda dog!” Zalach taunts. “You gonna sic these two on me as well? Maybe you’ll find a god right outside the gates!”

The Monstrosity formerly known as Ted finally descends, but only enough to get its wings in position. Hitting just the right angle, it flies forward, taking off toward Taron at top speed.

No humanity remains in the Monstrosity. As it passes its old commander, it lashes straight through his thick exoskeleton into his face with claws larger than his head. Taron decides to play the game, rushing in as well.

Close enough, Taron gambles. He stomps his left foot into the ground in front of him, arching his back and right arm, and lifting his back leg as he hurls his spear with his entire body, right into the Monstrosity’s head.

Its body stops dead, and proving the strength of the spear, limply barrels its head into the ground like a doll, the spear locked in place and bouncing along its lodging with every stone the Monstrosity bumps.

The street is dragged up by the weight of the beast’s slide, and as it reaches Taron, still sliding at a high pace, the thrown dirt and stone rushes around him.

He squares up and grabs his embedded spear, pounding the trigger once more, driving deeper and deeper while wrenching the beast over top him in a massive suplex throw.

With a dramatic flourish, Taron rips the spear from the beast’s head, spilling more of the ooze, and thick, bright red blood, out onto the ground. It seems as though the Monstrosity is dead.

“Look out!” Zalach calls.

The second beast ignores Zalach entirely, clomping past him with giant legs, and slamming him aside with a slap of its wings. It scoops Taron up in its giant claws, pushing up into a house, and punching him into a wall.

In the bathroom of this home, clinging to bathing curtains, a teenage girl is cornered by one of the enemies. She brandishes a cooking knife, holding it out at him.

The soldier sheathes his blade, grabbing the girl’s helpless arm, and pushing her down against the bathroom floor. Twisting her wrist to release the knife, he puts his other hand on her neck.

A loud crash is heard by the two, as Taron and the Monstrosity break through the front wall of the house, toppling the roof onto the beast’s back, and destroying the wall of the bathroom. Taron glances over his right side, seeing through the living room to the bathroom, and in a heartbeat becomes instilled with every father’s rage.

Bursting out from the center of his form, a manifestation of his heart. An exertion of dark-red Chaos, forming in a ball of thin energy that encapsulates Taron, powerful enough that as its walls expand, the clawed hand of the Monstrosity breaks, its paw-like fingers hyper-extending and snapping on contact.

Taron drops from the death grip, plopping straight down onto a red couch. He leans his arm over the back of the seat, and signs a Chaos symbol with his right hand. In a straight face of disappointment, he taps his first two fingers through it.

The orb of Chaos explodes on the soldier’s head, smashing his face against the wall. The girl cowers as the body falls over her, the dead hand still holding her throat.

With no time to spare, Taron pushes himself over the sofa back, flipping behind it and dodging the incoming lash of broken claws from the trapped Monstrosity.

It fluffs its wings, pushing the roof out of the way to reach farther into the home, biting at Taron with long teeth that reach past its chin.

He jabs his spear into the roof the beast’s mouth, and with a trigger pump and a push, lifts the beast enough to find his way beneath it. After pushing through Chaos to suspend the beast in an explosion, he dives at its underbelly.

His spear cuts into the Monstrosity’s raised center, keeping it like a tent from falling down onto him.

As he runs down its body, Taron feels the spear chip on something, and hears the sound of broken glass. Pulling his Chaos symbol to his front, he taps it yet again, creating an explosion that lifts the beast’s hind legs, allowing him to escape out into the street.

He reemerges into a battle.

The back line of the coming forces is lit up in the blue of their summoned glyphs. They too sign the same infinity symbol that brings about the crimson of Chaos, but the difference in hue implies a unique presence, Light.

Over the cobble road, the invaders fire blue orbs of Light into the Baustians, who struggle to keep the fight deadlocked at Taron’s position.

Training Hall - Julian - 11:42 AM

“Eradicate them! These fool rats are a plague on the face of our lands, we let them fester in their disease ridden cage no longer! Leave not one standing! Burn this place to the ground!” Screams the muffled, deep voice of an enemy commander.

Battle cries ring, and hideous orders of petrifying commands see to it every man, woman and child are cut down where they stand.

Echoing in the chamber of panic that is Julian’s head, these visions, the violent slaughter of his allies, friends, and neighbors, an abhorrent truth of this world, will remain.

Pushed back through the East End, the entirety of the fledging guard units find themselves at the hall, where everything started for them.

There is nowhere left to go, as the Northeastern connecting road up to this point has been completely overrun. The Eastern third of Baustas is forfeit in a little under an hour.

With smoke blotting out the sky, the city’s red is coated in a black haze. Shadows circle over-top the thick fog, and piercing down from it, the heart-stopping call of some many unimaginable beasts.

The voices of these monsters rain a hellfire so potent that even the age-old stone and steel melt away beneath them. Up and down the main roads, pushing into the heart of Baustas, war machines of unknown technology carry on, toppling buildings and creating an unbreakable siege.

Outside, warriors clad in white wage war on the walled city, yet here, all is quiet.

Using the winding side streets and what is practically a small town in the Eastern barracks district, they’ve outrun the enemy soldiers, allowing the more veteran fighters to establish a perimeter, and barricade any civilians to be protected by the younger units inside the training hall itself.

Leaving everything in the hands of others, and simply waiting for the next order has left the young soldiers, including Julian, in a state of total unrest while attempting to calm the masses.

The normally bearable aura of such a place as the training hall, filled wall to wall with sweaty, unprepared people, raising the level of heat to a sauna, is not an ideal location to deescalate the moment, but something needs to be done.

Julian pushes through the crowd. The many talk over the many, uttering cliché and expected responses that in thought may feel too obvious, yet here and now, cries of the fear of coming death, painfully understood loss, or even something worse, continue to be blathered and parroted across the floorspace, emitting an absolute terror.

His body shakes and his jaw clenches tight as he reaches the center of the formation.

C’mon Julian, show everybody above you what you’re capable of…

His mind seeks any memory of escape to pull him out of this, before he rests on one memory.

‘No matter what it is, you have to give it your all, right? If that’s what you want, you shouldn’t let it go for anything. That’s the choice I’ve made, sorry,’ sound the words time and time again spoken by his best friend.

Believe it or not, Julian thinks, that’s what it takes to have guts. Drawing himself away from the dark landscape of the battle, the remnants of a smile begin to form.

“All of you, listen up!” Julian orders.

Not a single pair of eyes fall on him, the chatter overpowering his voice.

As dense as the room is packed, Julian didn’t notice until just now, the sandbag, beat to absolute shit, still hanging from the rafter.

This oughta do it!

He grabs it, and tries to lift it. He can barely get it raised, not nearly enough to unhook.

Looking around once more, he spots another soldier.

Being grabbed, hassled, and tossed about by a screaming mother, tears flowing like a waterfall down her face, Mikael tries his best not to be rattled. Julian squeezes through to him, barely brushing him with his fingertips.

“Mikael!” Julian calls out to him.

His eyes shoot over with lightning quick reaction time.

“Yeah!” He squawks, putting up a trembling finger to the poor woman, begging her to wait a moment.

Mikael trudges through the crowd to assist. Behind him, the woman falls to her knees.

“What do you need?” He asks, his head darting around in circles at every sound.

Julian loses his train of thought momentarily, a sorrow filling him at the sight of the woman, sobbing surrounded, yet all alone. His eyes drift up to Mikael.

“R-right, help me get this thing off,” Julian says, beckoning Mikael to the bag.

“Now is hardly the time for a little practice, don’t you think?” He responds in all seriousness.

Julian whacks him upside the head.

“Fine, fine, whatever you think’ll work,” Mikael says, caving.

“Together now,” Julian announces.

On the count of three, the two of them manage to get the sandbag up from the chain.

“What in- Savior’s name is she… putting in this damn thing?” Julian groans to himself in his pain, his body giving all of its strength.

On another three count, they prep to drop the sandbag and get the attention of the room...

It sounds off, pushing out the dust below it, and shaking the entire hall. Julian and Mikael look at each other wide-eyed as most go silent, the crying woman letting out a scream.

Mikael holds up his hand to her in apology, his eyes wincing.

With the floor, Julian is easily able to take control, and manages to get everyone moved into the locker rooms. More apologies are given out for the questionable scents and dark environment, but given the city is masked in darkness, it’ll have to do.

For now, the general populous is out of the way, and the soldiers are left alone, one burden off of their shoulders.

Minutes later…

The air is tense in these few minutes of silence, though it won’t be for long. Silent, that is.

This intensity will reverberate for hours to come, as the enemy forces have begun to pass through the southern side of the outer rim, an outlining wall just beyond the dormitories.

With nothing to do but listen, the young soldiers sit themselves along the edge of the training hall, playing over and over the fresh sights of war.

In a voice caked with fear, Mikael turns his head, leaning pressed against the wall, to Julian.

“Hey. Realistically, what do you think are the odds we make it out of this?” Mikael asks, his throat dry and voice cracking.

Julian thinks while taking inventory on his comrades. Suddenly, that confidence of his returns.

“Now hang on just a second!” He says. “What is with all of you?” He lifts himself from the wall, and steps forward.

“We’re the Savior’s people! We were chosen for this! Blessed! Are we really gonna stand down and let them walk all over us?!” He tries.

It raises morale a little, but doesn’t make too great an impact. Some eyes float his way shivering with dread, some wet with stifled tears. Mikael however, is pumped, and tries to get his back.

“Yeah! Let’s get out there! They need our help!” He yells excitedly, throwing his arm and pumping his fist from the ground.

Julian’s crimson eyes are thrown over his shoulder at Mikael, as he silently shakes his head.

“Maybe that’s a little too far,” Julian admits. Mikael drops immediately.

“Then what do we do?” Mikael asks.

Julian’s heart drops and his mind numbs, a feeling Adam has described to him many times, but until now, he could never understand.

As the first boom of the encroaching battle fires, Julian stands still in the center of the hall, the empty hook rattling on its chains, and everyone watching.

From behind, a small girl with short brown hair, an archer in his unit, taps him. She nods to him in support.

“The most we can do is what we’re told, right?” She states, looking over to Mikael as well. “That was smart, what you did earlier,” she says to Julian reassuringly. “A couple more of those and maybe we get out of this.”

Julian can feel a spark in his heart, and as more of his peers chime in together, the room begins to lift.