ANNO DOMINI ~Allium~ [Beta version]
Greetings, fellow Honeyfeeders! Thanks for reading! Now that the zany holiday week has passed, things are settling down on my end. Remember, if you enjoy this story, pounce on that unsuspecting "Like" button like a tiger (your badge ranking will be happy that you did). If you wanna tell me something, load up that comment box and fire away (your badge ranking will be VERY happy that you did), and I'll do my best to respond!
On a side note, I've updated this story's details. I've removed the "Adult" listing, as I don't think this story has, or ever will, cross over into an adult-only territory (which I'm assuming is for very explicit, profane, or pornographic material).
BOOK 1, CHAPTER 6: LIMITLESS SOURCES OF ENERGY
Sister Farrah stood at an intersection a block away from Revere Park, letting the resounding silence and stillness punctuate themselves. With a loud exhale, she lowered her meteorite-carved measuring rod and looked around. The streets were devoid of all traffic and people. She had a strong distaste for using her abilities to manipulate human behavior. However, crowd control was highly important for hiding the millennia-old secrets from the general population, and this was nothing more than part of her typical procedure.
Now that the area was ridded of all bystanders, as her prayers’ answers informed her, it was safe to proceed with any activities that were forbidden to be shown to the public.
A guttural rumble and distant explosion caught her attention. Upon seeing a large stream of earth shooting into the air over a block away, she noted that her evacuation magic was completed just in time. The eruption of dirt and gravel was familiar to her, recognizing it as Al’s Terra Geyser spell, although it was much smaller than usual. Sister Farrah concluded Al must have reduced Terra Geyser’s output to conceal it, as well as spare the life of the target; a very good call on Al’s part.
Not wanting to waste another moment, the young nun hurried toward the park. Although she was planning to remain on the sidelines and out of sight, she was poised to take action if she deemed it necessary.
The very air itself seemed to tingle as the emerald green yo-yo whipped around, glowing much brighter and whistling far louder than the previous ruby red body. An unnatural wind ebbed and flowed, changing direction every second while a visible aura of yellowish energy surrounded Al, who grinned cockily. Chris and Robbie hesitated to approach him, fearing what kind of damage the new weapon could inflict.
“C’mon,” Al said provokingly, not slowing his yo-yo’s movements, “show me what ya got.”
Robbie began to sweat, feeling like the fight had taken a dangerous direction. His best countermeasure against Al had been understanding and predicting the yo-yo movements. Now the yo-yo was moving too fast to keep an eye on, and the tricks had become significantly more advanced … the reactions of the wind were evidence of Al’s advanced techniques.
His desperation growing, Chris wielded Gunnhildr, took aim at Al, and pulled the trigger. Expectedly, there was no response from the holy handgun. Al noticed and laughed.
“Your gun is useless,” he said, mocking Chris. “That sucks for you!”
With a swing of his yo-yo, Al whipped the green body at Chris. The attack was so fast that Chris couldn’t react, and it struck him on the leg, bringing his feet off the ground. There was an audible clack when the attack hit, and Al was perplexed as he watched Chris immediately get back up.
Robbie ran to Chris’s aid.
“Chris! You all right?”
“Yeah,” Chris replied, standing defensively and watching Al. “It didn’t even hurt.”
Al tensed up with aggravation.
“How can that be? That should have busted your leg!”
Not sure himself, Chris felt his leg where the yo-yo had hit. When he could feel his smartphone in his pocket, he removed it. The yo-yo had been blocked by his phone, which Lavi had upgraded to be very durable. It was unharmed without a scratch or crack.
“A phone blocked it?” The heat in Al’s face was rising as he gripped his green weapon. “That’s impossible. My attack should have crushed it and broken your femur.”
“Well, it didn’t.” Chris was unable to keep himself from smirking.
“Rrgh!” Al twirled his yo-yo, its movements appearing angry and violent, stirring the air into a frenzy. “See if you can block this next one!”
The second attack was much quicker, but Chris was able to catch a glimpse of its trajectory. His hand moved too fast for him to comprehend (he assumed his “powers” had something to do with it), and he successfully blocked the incoming weapon by holding up his phone as a shield. Had he been too slow, or misinterpreted the trajectory of the attack, it could have ended very badly. The shockwave from the crippling strike travelled up his arm, rattling his bones and joints, but his posture remained solid and uncompromised.
Consequentially, most of the shockwave reflected back into the weapon, where it shot through the taught string and into Al’s hand. The sound of multiple bones fracturing and knuckles splitting was accompanied by three fingernails being torn completely off.
Al screamed from the pain as his aura faded, but the horror of seeing multiple broken bones piercing through the skin of his wrecked hand was the incentive for the rest of his breakdown.
“My hand!” he cried, falling to his knees. “What the hell did you do?”
The smartphone slid out from Chris’s numbed fingers, but he could clearly see his opponent had received the largest portion of the shockwave. Al cradled his bloody hand, the yo-yo string dangling from a misshapen finger that was barely still attached. The emerald green body of the weapon rested in the grass, sizzling with power and dimming by the second.
“Give up, brat,” Robbie said. He hid his concern from his tone, although he was disappointed the fight had come to a tragic end. “You’ve clearly lost.”
“We’ll call the ambulance,” Chris said, reaching for his phone on the ground. His hand was still numb, but functional.
“No, don’t bother.”
Al straightened himself up, shaking and breathing heavily from the pain. Blood dripped from his damaged hand as he put his good hand into his hoodie pocket. What he removed looked like a small crystal with cloudy white translucency, no larger than a pebble. He put it in his mouth and bit down, crushing and grinding it between his teeth rather than chewing, then swallowed. After wiping the sweat from his face on his baggy hoodie sleeve, he continued to cradle his busted extremities.
Chris held his phone and looked around for anyone who could assist them, but there wasn’t a single person in sight. He felt pity as he watched the young boy, thinking his and Robbie’s Pyrrhic victory was ill-deserved.
“We need to get him medical attention,” Robbie told Chris. “He’s in bad shape.”
“I know,” Chris replied dully.
“I said don’t bother!” Al barked. “I’ll be okay.”
“How can you say that?” Robbie asked, flabbergasted. “Your hand is ruined. You’ll need to treat it or it’ll get infected.”
“Just shut up.” The young boy glared at the two teenagers. “This isn’t over.”
Gritting his teeth, Robbie looked away. Something felt odd to Chris, though. What was that crystal Al had eaten? It seemed very strange for a child to have sustained such an injury and insist on being okay.
The answer to Chris’s questions came as Al’s hand began to move and twist unnaturally. The broken bones slid back inside the skin as the wounds closed without any scarring, and the missing fingernails grew back out from the cuticles until they were of normal length. After nearly a minute, Al wiggled his fingers, opening and closing his unhurt fist.
“There we go,” he said triumphantly. “Good as new.”
He gave a thumbs up with his restored hand. As Chris and Robbie gawked at what they had just witnessed, Al stuck out his tongue and put up his middle finger.
“That does it!” Robbie snapped. “You’re gonna get it!”
Robbie took three angry steps toward his opponent, but Al quickly flicked his yo-yo and whipped it.
“Prometheus Incarceration!” he yelled.
Flames burst from the ground and surrounded the three of them with an inferno of walls. The eruption was nearly instantaneous despite the size of the flames, and it was impossible to see through them.
“You haven’t beat me yet!” Al told them over the roar of the flames, throwing his yo-yo onto its string to perform a combination of elaborate tricks. His concentration didn’t break as he continued to talk. “I was once interrogated in Syria for two days straight. A measly broken hand is nothing capable of stopping me.”
There was no escape from the walls of fire. As Al performed his yo-yo tricks, it was obvious he was the cause of the burning prison.
“This needs to end!” Chris was direct and stern. “I don’t care what your goal is here, or what you’re planning to do. This is pointless and dangerous!” His voice was being drowned out by the roaring fires that grew hotter.
“Like I said,” Al said collectedly, “this is not pointless. And I can’t stop, it’s a direct order from my superiors.”
“To hell with your orders!” Chris shouted, squeezing his indestructible phone. “None of that matters to me!”
“If you’re so insistent,” Al sneered, tossing his yo-yo into a series of dancing loops, “then do something about it!”
The emerald green yo-yo body shined like a verdant beacon in the orange glow of the encircling flames. Al snatched the brilliant weapon in his hand with an arrogant grin as the flames encroached, moving in closer.
“Chris, we need to stop him,” Robbie said shakily, doing his best to remain calm, feeling his cool waning rapidly as he watched the raging walls inch inward.
However, Chris had nothing to say. The flames were intimidating, but there was something else burning much hotter in Chris’s heart. Something was searing his soul from the inside, and Al’s stubborn game was fueling it like a starved, rabid beast tasting flesh for the first time in ages.
“This is another one of my most special magical abilities,” Al explained, still clutching his shining weapon. “I call it Prometheus Incarceration. It’s actually really genius. Flames this high and this close would normally burn up all the oxygen, but I have several magical formulas in place to prevent that. Only the oxygen outside the circle gets used, sparing anyone trapped inside from suffocation, all to allow them a nice, crispy demise. Pretty good, right?”
“That’s stupid!” Robbie shouted. “You’ll get burned alive with us!”
Al laughed. “No, that’s another thing that makes this ability so awesome. It doesn’t hurt the caster.” He stuck his arm into the fire, which rolled right off him. “I’ll be fine.”
“This isn’t what you said you’d do.” When Chris spoke, his quiet voice was all but soft. He stared at the ground, trying to stave off the burning swells in his soul, which burned ever hotter than the physical flames around him.
“Huh?” Al asked. “What do you mean?”
“You said you’d let us go, even if we lost.”
“Oh, did I say that?” Al replied mischievously. “What are you gonna do about it?”
That’s exactly what I said, Al thought. I meant it, too. I just need to push a little more. That Caucasian boy is giving me some promising vibes. I need to keep pushing, just a little ….
The flaming walls of Prometheus Incarceration reached higher. However, the light was dimming. Robbie was the first to notice. He looked up, and what he saw startled him. A darkness was obscuring the view of the overcast sky, and it was moving downward upon the three of them.
Al saw Robbie’s distress, alerting him to the approaching danger. He saw the black mass forming above him like shadowy condensation, feeling half nervous and half excited.
“Heh,” he chuckled, “looks like it found us.”
Chris, who had been repressing the burning energy building inside him, also noticed this new visitor and came back to his senses.
“What is that?” he asked.
“That,” Al said with a smirk, gripping his shining emerald yo-yo, “is the end of our fight.”
The glowing green body of Al’s weapon went dark, and the flames of Prometheus Incarceration were immediately snuffed out. With the lack of firelight, the darkness of the nearing threat covered Revere Park with a veil of nightly presence. That particular darkness was unlike a shadow cast by blocking light, and was more akin to having the light itself gobbled up and taken away.
Chris was unable to explain it, but he could tell this was what Lavi had warned him about: an inhuman and otherworldly predator fixated on its prey.
He clutched Gunnhildr and took aim at the evilness. Surely, a being of malevolence would be negated by an absolving bullet. Wishing with all his willpower for the holy handgun to work, Chris pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.
“Why?” Frustrated, Chris looked at the inoperable gun. “Why won’t it fire anything?”
“Chill out, noob,” Al told him, sleeping his yo-yo which accelerated on its own. “I’ll take care of this.”
Al cracked the glowing yo-yo like a whip upward at the obscurant foe, which didn’t seem to have a physical body or single point to target, as it moved like frozen smoke and had elastic liquidity in its motions, conforming with the air one second just to revolt against it seconds later.
Suddenly, a small lightning bolt shot out from the blackness with sharp thunder, striking the yo-yo and blocking it. As Al kept attacking, more electric bolts continued to deflect the weapon.
Robbie covered his ears due to the thunderous cracks of the enemy’s lightning. Chris watched the action, his mind racing to think of something he could do, but he was clueless. If he had so much power, and if he was capable of filling such a grand role as being a protector of mankind, then why was he suddenly thrust into the center stage so abruptly? He felt frustrated by his lack of knowledge and training, like a recruited soldier who had skipped boot camp and was handed groundbreaking equipment with no explanation before being deployed deep across enemy lines.
Chris clenched his fists, feeling more scared and more angry than he ever had before.
Sister Farrah stood atop the same building from which she and Al had spied on the teenagers. The darkness engulfing Chris, Robbie, and Al was not a powerful one, far weaker than the recent intruder at Saint Baptiste Monastery, so she felt no need to intervene, but supervised the encounter nonetheless.
“This is going to be interesting,” Lavi told the young nun as he stood next to her.
The nun looked at the blonde young man dressed as a business casual vice principal for one of Chicago’s top public schools.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
Lavi was smiling, although the smile had flattened considerably.
“I neglected to tell Christopher the details of his gifts,” Lavi said pensively. “He’s about to find out firsthand what he can do,” he crossed his arms, “and it’s going to give him much distress.”
“Christopher?” Sister Farrah asked. “I’m curious to ask, but I can already tell which of the two boys you’re referring to.”
“Is it that obvious?” Lavi asked, looking down toward Revere Park.
“My prayers have answered me.”
“As have mine.”
“Well, this is crappy,” Al muttered after having every one of his attacks deflected by the enemy’s lightning.
“You can’t do anything?” Robbie asked nervously, eyeing the encompassing shadows.
“Funny story, really,” Al said with a chuckle. “This enemy is kinda weak, see? But there’s a problem … I didn’t anticipate on this thing possessing lightning abilities. I’m not equipped with the right weapons.”
“So, you can’t beat it?” Robbie ruffled his hair with both hands in desperation.
The look on Al’s face became serious.
“Not with my current equipment,” he said. “My organization was aware of this thing and had anticipated its arrival, but it’s so rare for these types of beings to have electrical abilities.”
Another lightning bolt shot from the darkness, lower to the ground, moving horizontally before hitting Chris. All of his nerves tingled as he stumbled, doing his best to keep from falling over. Either the attack wasn’t as powerful as a regular lightning bolt, or Chris’s powers were protecting him … possibly both.
“Damn, we gotta get out of here!” Al yelled.
Robbie helped Chris maintain his balance. The darkness was now all around them, seeping into the ground and filling the atmosphere, draining the strength from the three humans.
A bluish glow came from every direction, and the trio knew what was coming just by the static sensation in the air.
“Oh no!” Al shouted. “Brace yourselves, guys!”
Chris and Robbie stood in place. They had no other options.
An electrical discharge surged through the park as the entire area was electrocuted. When the blinding flash cleared, Chris, Robbie, and Al were lying on the ground. The pain was debilitating, and the lasting numbness and tingling made it difficult to regain bodily movement.
Chris realized he wasn’t standing anymore, his vision blurry and body in pain. The odor of singed clothes and hair mixed with the pungent smell of ozone created by the high voltage electricity, creating an unpleasant atmosphere that invaded his nostrils.
Dizzy and hurting, Chris pushed himself back to his feet, not at all thinking about his actions. As Robbie and Al remained on the ground, he understood his muscles were being powered by some sort of internal energy … an energy that was keeping him from going unconscious; an energy that had protected him from the full brunt of the electrical blast; and an energy that shut down the empathetic and negotiable part of his brain as he looked at the vile foe concentrating itself around him.
Robbie and Al both sat up, unable to exert themselves further than a simple seating position. They saw Chris standing with a sturdy posture, wondering how he was able to recover so quickly from the electrocution. They watched Chris slowly stretch his arms outward at his sides, his eyes like lucid glass filled with coldness.
“H-hey.” Robbie tried to speak, but it hurt to do so. His jaw ached and vocal cords stiffened. “What … are you … doing? Chris?”
The lack of strength in Robbie’s voice might have made it difficult for Chris to hear him, but even if Chris had heard, it wouldn’t have mattered. There was no reaching the boy where he was.
Another static feeling filled the environment as the darkness glowed electric blue. The nearby free-roaming electrons sped up, increasing in number as the ionization of the air took place. The atmosphere’s electrical breakdown approached its insulating limit as the protons prepared themselves for the pouncing electrons. The army of negatively-charged particles increased their ranks within the shadowy foe, and the ground and three humans accrued positive charges as a welcome receiving party for the electric strike.
Chris observed all this, a waltz of subatomic denizens, not needing his eyes to witness it, but with a language-less knowledge that his consciousness pulled into itself.
And the most disturbing thing Chris observed was the rising power supply of the evil shadow. Somehow and from seemingly nowhere, the foe was acquiring its necessary energy for this forthcoming lightning strike. Much like the “super special” ball bearings in Al’s perpetual energy yo-yo, this enemy was channeling its energy from somewhere besides the physical universe … a limitless source of energy bundled into a malicious sentience, poised to inflict harm on Chris and everyone else in its way.
However, Christopher Findale could do this also.
With his arms outstretched, his hands began to burn with power. An aura formed around his body, creating a soothing light that repelled the voracious darkness.
Feeling exuberance pressuring every part of his body and soul, Chris detonated his powers. He forcibly expelled his energy outward in a brilliant display, like a bomb of light and heat without temperature. The concussive force pushed Robbie and Al back onto the ground, and the otherworldly wave crashed into the wicked foe, cancelling its lightning attack a split second before the air would be riddled with deadly levels of voltage.
“Whoa,” Al said in awe, looking at the shining Chris.
“Did Chris do that?” Robbie asked, finally getting the feeling back in his legs. He got on his feet, wobbly at first, helping Al back up as well. “What’d he do?”
“I don’t know,” he said, “but I like it.”
The shadowy entity fluxed and contracted, as if startled or upset, then rushed toward Chris … but Chris wasn’t done.
His mind no longer active, Chris instinctively lifted his hand, creating a massive surge of energy in the form of a large vertical band, tearing a wanton trench in the ground and splitting through the foe. The trees in front of him were stripped of their bark and leaves as the upward band of energy cut like an unbridled guillotine through the park before hitting the row of buildings across the street.
Asphalt, signs, cement, powerlines, poles, glass, and metal were messily carved away as the buildings’ faces were nearly removed by the blast that had heavily dissipated at that point (and was aimed mostly upward, away from the surrounding environment). Overhead, the overcast clouds were forcibly sliced and parted by the energy to reveal the blue sky. The split clouds reflected the flash of Chris’s attack, then returned to normal as the light-eating creature of malevolence was eradicated.
Robbie and Al stumbled over and fell back, not because they were pushed, but because the sheer act they had witnessed literally blew them away. Once excited by the events, Al was now frightened.
“No way!” Al shouted as he trembled on the ground. “That shouldn’t have happened!”
“What was that?” Robbie asked breathlessly.
“I have no idea!” Al replied, looking through the dust and smoke to see the extent of the damage — a gut-wrenching sight. “That sort of attack is something I’ve only seen high-level magic users do … and that wasn’t even magic he used!” He clutched his head, trying to calm down, saying to himself in almost a whisper, “Humans … can’t use these kinds of powers without magic, so how …?”
There were too many questions Robbie and Al had at the moment, but he was unable to ask them due to the circumstances. As Chris continued to shine brightly from his inner energy, in his heart there was sorrow from what he had just done, but his humanity had been put on hold, and his ability to cry or scream was on lockdown.
“Whew!” Lavi stared at the breadth of destruction from the rooftop with Sister Farrah. “Sure glad he aimed that the other way from us!”
Through the years of tribulations and experiences, Sister Farrah had developed the grit to remain calm during the event. Despite her grit, as she gazed at the aftermath of Chris’s attack, there was an unsettling feeling stirring inside her. It was not the most destructive attack she had ever witnessed, but it was an entirely unique attack. More unsettling was it had been completely unexpected, and was something her prayers should have informed her of, yet they had not.
“How can this be?” she asked quietly. “The answers to my prayers did not tell me of this.”
Lavi looked at her.
“Is that so?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “Such a use of power … no matter what sort of power … should have been detected by my prayers. I should have seen this coming … but I didn’t.”
“Huh, maybe you messed up?” Lavi said.
“No.” The nun shook her head. “My prayers are a flawless ability that I have mastered, so this is very fearsome.” Her voice remained calm, but her hand shook as she gripped her meteorite cubit rod. “In addition … even now that the boy has already done it … my prayers still aren’t telling me that it happened, even though I know it did, seeing it with my own eyes.”
“If that’s the case, then it’s simple, really,” Lavi said brightly with a smile. “This is something above your caliber.”
The young nun looked at Lavi with disdain.
“Above my caliber? What do you mean by that?”
“Exactly what I said,” he said straightforwardly. “This is beyond you. This is something that extends to the next level. It’s a form of truth that encompasses and surpasses what most people consider to be the truth. An ‘ultimate truth’, have you.”
Sister Farrah looked at the cleaved overcast clouds starting to close up, then sighed.
“It must be,” she said. “Just during this event, I’ve already been exposed to several things that have overwritten the previous truth I thought I knew.”
“I’m sure you have many questions,” Lavi said softly. He understood the human condition well, and how fragile it was when those “truths” were broken down or debunked.
“I do have questions,” Sister Farrah said. “There’s one that’s been on my mind for a while.” She brandished her cubit rod, positioning it for attack, concentrating her full offensive attention on Lavi. “Such as who are you?”
With his hands behind his back and a half-smile on his face, Lavi gave the nun a sideways glance.
“I’m just somebody who’s on your side,” he told her. “That’s the truth. Oh, just a suggestion, you should disengage your evacuation magic, it’s beginning to cause some dissonance.”