Chapter 23:

The Spark of Life

A Moribund Hero

Leon gasped like a fish out of water, fighting for breath. His natural eyes were momentarily blind, so he reverted to his inbuilt map systems that had only captured the tunnels he had traveled before the virtual reality experience. It faded from his view as his mind reeled through recent conversations. His heart raced, as numbness slowly crept across his skin.Bookmark here

So many pieces of fact were tossed into haphazard piles within his head. Every aching thought landed on spoken truth to be muddled into confusion. Bookmark here

Vedas said the amulet held an emptiness. It would explain the need to fill its magic potential via the enchantment process. But if he was in that man's shoes, would he risk danger to the surrounding environment to empower a device?Bookmark here

Perhaps. The credence of forcefully taking life for a higher power was his House's value. But, those boys back there and their soulless eyes.Bookmark here

His heart pounded irregularly at memories of his time with ACE2. The rare moments of smiles and brotherhood. Could his brother have ended up like them? He had hoped to see him again during his time in the main barracks, but he never did. No one wanted to talk or remember their earlier times. So, he shut out the past from his mind and chose to move forward. Seeing the carefree smiles on civilian faces during city marches was enough motivation for him to keep fighting.Bookmark here

However, the children's soulless eyes confused him. Just as it had confused him when he was tasked to fight and kill the 11-year-old boy straight out of his semantic storage operation. The deep remorse he felt wasn't allowed to be express. He had to keep honing a battle-worn instinct.Bookmark here

Thinking back on the events of his life, it would seem what this Vedas said was true. Humanity was only to bring death. If so, why have a will to live?Bookmark here

What was Gaia? He blindly believed in the kind nurse's words because they carried a warmth he had almost forgotten. He never questioned his promise or her motives behind it, since it felt good to be needed for a purpose aligned with his dreams of fighting to protect and ensure. But he could see this was wishful and naive thinking because he hadn't been protecting anything. Vedas was right. He was only raised to destroy on command.Bookmark here

His chest ached, making it near impossible to breathe; stifling coughs and wheezes.Bookmark here

Tears slipped from his damaged eyes.Bookmark here

At least he saw his true self before he shut down for good; a pitiful and well-honed lie.Bookmark here

"Mother. I'm sorry. I fail..." His eyes closed as his mind wounded down operations across his body.Bookmark here

When he expelled his final breath and tears, his amulet glowed warmly against his chest.Bookmark here

A gentle heat flowed over his still body. A digital image of a motherly spirit, shrouded in a flowing gown, emerged to sit beside him and stroke his lifeless face. She gracefully rose, danced and flowed around his body to raise it mid-air. The heat swelled into a great and powerful magic force of white lights, drawing electric energy from the chamber's walls. Bolts and sparks of lightning struck his body to force energy into him.Bookmark here

The digital spirit navigated the fine threads of the light around his body to enclose him within a cocoon. She then merged herself into the glowing shell to boost the rejuvenation magic.Bookmark here

His body's functions switched on and began operating again. Consciousness returned to his mind.Bookmark here

The cocoon pulsated as healing energy poured into his being until every ache and pain was relieved and healed.Bookmark here

His eyes fluttered open when the power was exhausted, and the cocoon had gently landed to the ground and faded from view.Bookmark here

There was a momentary confusion, for he should've been dead, but he felt alive and restored. Not only that, he felt magic swell within him again. A power to excite electrical energies to his advantage or diffuse them. But the poison in his blood was still present, so it seemed some hurts couldn't be healed. At least this he could manage.Bookmark here

After a while, he felt he could sit up. He nodded, feeling reassured he had made the right decision to believe in Gaia.Bookmark here

"I'm sorry I doubted. Thank you, Mother, for giving me a chance." He reverently prayed, then rose to gather his hat from the other side of the chamber.Bookmark here

He felt a reassuring warmth from his amulet and smiled. Never again would he waiver as he did just then. He was more determined to fulfill his promise.Bookmark here

"Every life has meaning and a will. I understand now."Bookmark here

He opened his internal terrain scanners and began scoping for a way forward.Bookmark here

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