Fate and ArmageddonbyIronDragon©
This tale is set at what should have been the End of Days, or Armageddon. Some even call it The Apocalypse. It is a tale of betrayal, love, and salvation...
I give full credit for inspiration for this tale to Jon Shaffer and Iced Earth from the following albums:
'Something Wicked This Way Comes'
'The Crucible of Man'
Prologue: Framing Armageddon
"You know your task, Bazael."
"To eliminate the one foretold to give birth to the Redeemer."
"Yes, my friend. How you do so is up to you."
"Because we trust your judgment. All of your assassinations are flawless."
"No, Lord Elder. Why must she die? She has done no wrong."
"You know why, Bazael."
"Because she was born into Mankind? Her soul is pure like a Setian."
"Because if she lives, Mankind will find the path to Redemption."
"Would that not be the correct course of action? Let Mankind be redeemed."
"What has gotten into you, Bazael? You have been flawless from Christ to Kennedy. Your assassinations have been written into their history books."
"Because I tire of this, Lord Elder. My infinite anger is at an end, and I have seen that these men and women today are not those who committed Genocide on us millenia ago."
"Know your place, Bazael. You have served the Thirteen and the Ten Thousand for ages with no remorse. You do what we cannot."
"I do, Lord Elder. I also know that if I kill her, then all hope of Redemption for Mankind dies with her. They have great evil among them, but they also have great love. Who are we to judge these descendants of the Murderers?"
"We are the Chosen of Earth Mother, Bazael. Have you forgotten your own wife and child murdered in the Scourging?"
"No, Lord Elder. I remember them as if it was this morning. I see my wife's face. I see my son's face. I see them look upon me with horror in their eyes at the acts I have done in the name of Justice."
"It is unpleasant, Bazael. But it is also necessary."
"Is it, Lord Elder? Give your Order, then."
"Bazael, the Order is given. The Mother of the Redeemer will die by your hand, or not at all."
"Yes, Lord Elder."
Chapter 1: Harbinger of Fate
I stepped from the subway into the station and headed up the stairs to street level. It was raining hard that night. My tasks are always grim, and they have worn on me over the centuries and millenia.
The rain hit my trenchcoat and it felt as if each drop was a hammer, beating me down. I had grown tired. I looked at the diner where she worked, and I sighed. In my sigh, anyone passing by might have heard the regret and frustration inside me. I had been a good soldier. I had done the Council's bidding since before the Dawn of Time. Now our victory was within our grasp, and all it would take would be to snuff out the one candle of hope that Mankind had left.
It must be done in secret. It must be done without the knowledge of anyone close to her. I saw her through the window, taking orders from her customers at their table. They were rough looking men, and they leered at her constantly. I let the rain fall over me as I watched them and her. I looked at their Souls, and I saw they were darker than my own. I looked at her soul, and I was blinded by her brilliance. Those four men would snuff out her light without my intervention. I could let them do what they were planning and leave her to die. I would not have to slay her, but the mission would be fulfilled.
I looked for traffic, but there was none. I stepped into the street and made my way to the diner. I looked at my face in the window and saw what all men and women saw. My short black hair was plastered to my head by the hard heavy rain. My green eyes were clear and bright, and seemed otherworldly, even to me. It was a form that I preferred over others, simply because it was the most unexpected. I looked non-threatening. I looked like most other people, except for my eyes. That was the one Setian trait that I would never lose. I could change my face and hair at a whim, but never my eyes. I looked at the reflection and into my own eyes. I could see the love I had, and the pain of devastating loss. I closed my eyes and turned away from my reflection. I walked up the steps and into the diner. I looked around. The cook, the four demons in human form, and the woman were the only others in the diner at this time of night. I stepped to the counter and sat down on a stool.
"What can I get ya, hon?" I was roused by the sound of her voice, the Brooklyn accent not masking the softness of her voice.
"Coffee, please. Black. No cream or sugar."
"Comin' right up, sweety." She said and flashed me a radiant smile. I nodded slightly and showed a thin smile that didn't reach my eyes.
She poured a mug for me and set it before me. I handed her two dollars. "Thank you. You may keep the change."
"Thanks, sweety." She flashed another brilliant smile at me. and her blue eyes gave me soft feelings inside. I looked down as I felt my face flush. No. She is the target. She must die. I resolved to make her death as painless as possible. She would feel nothing as she passed from this life.
I looked at her nametag. 'Sharon' was engraved in black upon the gold painted tag itself.
I could hear the men whispering from their booth. The four men who wished to rape and kill this angel in human form that it was my sworn duty to slay. They were actually just planning to rape her, but they knew that if she lived, the police would hunt them down. She would die by their hands to hide their crime.
No. She deserved a better death than what they would do for her.
One of the men stood up and straightened his jacket, and I saw the tell-tale bulge of a firearm stuffed into his belt on the side.
"Hey, homie. You're out kinda late in that fancy suit. You lost?" I realized that he was addressing me.
"No, friend. I am exactly where I need to be." I looked up at him from my sip of coffee. I looked in the mirror above the counter and saw his friends readying their weapons as well.
He was black, or African American, as they were called now. His ancestors had landed in Africa before it was even called Africa, and had destroyed all traces of Setian culture there. Of the Ten Thousand Setians still surviving, none had come from Africa.
We were not always immortal. We lived and died as God and Earth Mother intended. We lived for hundreds of years, but we died eventually. Of old age or by accident. Death takes us all. It was only the Prophecy and the Magic therein which now coursed through us and made us what we were.
"Why you even here, then?" He asked. His tone had become belligerent very quickly. He started to raise his jacket to reach for his weapon.
"For a cup of coffee." I raised my mug and smiled before taking another sip. The coffee tasted bitter, as it should. It reminded me of life.
I glanced at Sharon, my target. She had a look of apprehension on her face. She recognized these men for what they were. I would not let them have her, though. She looked from them to me, but she couldn't say anything. I saw her reach into her pocket for her cellphone. I caught her eye and slowly shook my head No.
Her eyes grew wide at my gesture, and I smiled at her before turning back to the man still standing there looking down his nose at me. He was trying to intimidate me. I was not intimidated, but continued to smile at him in a friendly way.
He raised his head and chin in a quick gesture. "Enjoy your coffee, homie." He turned and walked back to his friends.
"How'd you do that, hon?" She asked in a low whisper.
"He saw that while I posed no threat to him, I would kill him if he had acted." I explained evenly to her in a lowered tone.
"Well, we need you around here every night, then." She smiled at me, and I returned her smile with a nod.
"This is good coffee. Thank you. May I have a refill?" I had finished the mug and was ready for some more.
"Of course, sweety. On the house." She winked at me and I felt my heart skip a beat. I considered her for a moment as she went to refill the mug. Her hair was short down to just the nape of her neck. Her hair was as black as mine, but her eyes were the most brilliant blue I had ever seen. They seemed to glow with her inner light.
She returned with my mug. "Thank you, Sharon." I smiled and nodded.
"You have a name, sweety?"
"Is that short for something?"
"It's a nickname." My 'real' name among humans was Alec Bastion.
"What's your real name, hon?" She smiled at me again, and again I felt my heart skip a beat.
"Alec. Alec Bastion." I smiled back at her, and this time the smile did reach my eyes.
"I'm Sharon Summers. It's a pleasure to meet ya, Alec." She held out her hand.
I took her hand and felt her soft skin on the back and the callouses on her palm and fingers. She had worker's hands. I kissed the back of her hand. "A pleasure to meet you, Sharon."
She blushed as I released her hand. "The pleasure's mine, Alec."
I nodded in acknowledgment.
The cook came out from the back. "That's it, folks. The diner's closed for the night. Ya don't have to go home, but ya can't stay here." He turned to Sharon. "You can go, sweety. I'll close and lock up." He smiled at her as a father to his daughter.
"Thanks, Jerry." She replied with a grateful look at him.
"No problem, Shar. See ya tomorrow." He said as she gathered her stuff. He came out from behind the counter and approached the four men. "Time to go, guys. It's closin' time."
"Yeah yeah. We're goin'. Keep your pants on," said the one who had confronted me. They got up and left a twenty on the table, then headed for the door.
He came back towards me. "Time for you to go too, fella. We're lockin' up here."
I finished the coffee in the mug and stood. "Very well, Jerry. Thank you for the coffee." I nodded and left by the same exit as the men. When I got outside, I closed my eyes and sensed them close by. I stood on the street corner as if waiting for a cab, but they didn't approach me.
"Hey, sweety." Sharon came out the door and Jerry locked it behind her. I turned and smiled at her.
"I hate to ask, but can you walk with me? Those guys in there made me really nervous." She smiled at me, and I felt my resolve wavering. I knew she had to die to fulfill the Prophecy of Setian Life Returning. But if she went the way where those men were lying in wait for her without my protection, she would suffer greatly before she died. I would not allow that.
"Certainly, Sharon." I nodded and she smiled broadly.
Those men must have cased her route already, as they were waiting for her when she walked around the corner to head home. I stepped to her left to intervene if they should attack her.
"Well well. Hey, Sharon. Hey, homie. What you two doin' walkin' down this street? It can get dangerous at night, ya know." The man from the diner was now holding a pistol in his hand and aiming it at us sideways.
"Jimmy, we don't want any trouble. I'm just going home and Alec here is walking with me." Sharon knew them, but was obviously afraid of them.
"Sharon, it's about time you gave up that booty, baby. I think we needs to have us some of dat! Now, come on, or...." He stopped talking.
I moved without moving. I was gripping his throat and squeezing the life from him as his gun clattered to the pavement. I held him aloft with my left hand and squeezed until I felt his windpipe collapse and heard his neck snap.
I looked at his friends, who were carrying knives of various lengths. They moved in at once to attack me, but I was no longer there. Jimmy's body hit the ground and so did theirs. I crushed one attacker's throat with an open handed chop, and snapped another's neck before he could blink. The last attacker got behind Sharon and put his knife to her throat.
"Yo, man! Fuck this shit! You move, I'm gonna cut her!"
"Then I won't move," I said from behind him and grabbed his wrist. I pulled it away from her neck, and the knife slipped from his hand as the bones in his wrist snapped under my grip. He went to scream, but I silenced him with my fist in his throat. His windpipe collapsed from the blow and his spine snapped just below where his neck met his cranium.
I dropped him and turned to Sharon. "Are you hurt?"
Sharon was in shock at the violence. "N...no, Alec. How'd you do that?" She was looking at me wide eyed.
"Long years of experience, Sharon. Do you need me to walk you the rest of the way?" I asked.
"Y... yes, please. I.. I'm not feeling very.. good...." She passed out, and I caught her as she fell. Now. I could do it now. We were alone on the street, and I could slay her now before anyone came. It would be done, and Setian life would be assured.
I hefted her in my arms and carried her to her apartment building. I set her down by the door and reached into her purse for her keys. I found them and unlocked her door, then picked her up and moved inside with her. I laid her on her couch and locked her door. Once that was done, I moved over to where she was lying and sat beside across from her.
The Elder's words rang in my ears. "Bazael, the Order is given. The Mother of the Redeemer will die by your hand, or not at all."
I recalled the Prophecy again. 'Mankind will find Destruction or Redemption by their own hands. With their Destruction, Setian Life will return to the Earth, and we shall thrive again.'
That was the end of the Prophecy, though. What would happen if they found Redemption? The Council thought we would die off completely. Seeing Sharon as she was, both at work and now, lying unconscious, I had doubts. For the first time in my long life, I had doubts about the Prophecy and how Mankind's Destruction would be better than their Redemption.
Chapter 2: A Charge to Keep
The Order had been given. The Mother of the Redeemer would die by my hand or not at all. Sharon Summers was to be the Redeemer's mother. But that made no sense. If she was the Redeemer's mother, who was the father? I checked her Driver's License from her purse. She was only twenty-two years old. I reviewed the information about her that I had been given. She had just graduated college, and was working her way through law school with the help of government grants and student loans. She came from a poor family, but had rose up from poverty to make something of her life.
Who was to be the Redeemer's father? That question nagged at me. Why had the Prophecy said nothing of the Redeemer's father? It was unlike any other Prophecy the Elders had received before. When I had first seen her the previous day as she arrived for work after class, I had scanned her soul and saw only the purest light. It had been then that I had returned to our sanctum beneath the streets of New York City. I had to question the Elders of the Council. It had been their wisdom and Prophecies that had guided us throughout the countless human generations of war and violence. We tried with all our might to stop Mankind from gaining a foothold on the Earth. Twelve thousand years of clouding their minds and erasing their memories. Twelve thousand years of guiding them down the path of self-destruction.
For what? They continued to thrive even now, but the Prophecy was Absolute in the minds of the Elders. 'Mankind will find Destruction or Redemption by their own hands. With their Destruction, Setian Life will return to the Earth, and we shall thrive again.'
We had to protect the rest of the universe from their destructive ways. That had been the Elder's explanation for stranding them here instead of simply letting them leave after their massacre had been fulfilled. They had been here for our Magic. Once they had it, they would leave our world and we would have been able to thrive again. But we wouldn't let them leave. We disabled their ships and clouded their minds with a great spell that cost many Setian lives. We few who remained were immortal. We could not die until the Prophecy had been fulfilled.
I closed my eyes and bowed my head as I thought of Jarielle and Brenael. My wife and son. I took myself back to that day when Mankind had landed. We had been curious about the large stone ships they flew in. Then they had attacked in force. Their weapons had laid waste to our cities and towns. My wife and son had been amongst the first casualties in this long long war. We were driven underground. I was chosen for my skill in combat as one of the Ten Thousand. I was chosen because I wanted the same as the others. To kill every last one of Mankind who walked our Earth now. The Prophecy had been clear, though. We would not kill Mankind. Mankind must kill itself. We would kill key figures in Mankind's development. Christ had died due to my poisoning of his own people's minds against him. Julius Caesar had died due to my manipulation of the Roman Senate. John F. Kennedy had required a more active role. I had been able to subvert Lee Harvey Oswald, but he was a terrible marksman. I had waited in the storm drain for Kennedy's limo to come into view, and had waited until Oswald started shooting before I fired the one round through the President's forehead for the killshot.
All of them would have been Father of the Redeemer. I also had to sabotage the plane of John Kennedy Jr. to make certain that he was not the Redeemer himself.
I had killed good men. I saw into their souls. Some were evil, but some were good.
Now I gazed at Sharon as she slept the sleep of pure exhaustion on her couch. I picked her up and carried her to her bed where I laid her back down. I removed her waitress's dress and pulled the covers over her. Then I sat by her bed and watched her sleep.
She looked like an angel. Her face was beautiful as she lay there with the street light shining in softly through her window. 'Mankind will find Destruction or Redemption by their own hands. With their Destruction, Setian Life will return to the Earth, and we shall thrive again.'
"Why must she die?" I whispered as I watched her breathing. "She has done no wrong to anyone, and her life will herald a new age of Redemption for Mankind. She will give birth to the Redeemer."
I sat and watched her sleep. I memorized every detail of her lovely face. Her lips were full and lightly made up with her favorite shade of lipstick. Her cheeks had no makeup on them, nor did her eyelids. She was a natural beauty both inside and out. She reminded me of Jarielle.
I lowered my head to my hands and closed my eyes. I made my decision, and I felt no more guilt over what I had to do. I felt sorrow and regret, but no guilt. I would never feel guilt over that decision for the rest of my life.
I was lost in thought when she awoke. "Alec? Where am I?" She asked, taking me by surprise. I smiled ruefully. I had been that lost in thought as to be taken unawares by her awakening.
"You are home, Sharon."
"My home? How did you...?"
"Your purse, Sharon. I saw your Driver's License and found your keys. You are safe now." I smiled at her. I had made my decision.
"Alec, why did you help me?"
"Originally, so you would feel no pain when you died. You deserve better than what they would have done to you."
I saw the look of fear in her eyes as I uttered the words.
"Sharon, you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Suffice it to say that I won't let them, or anyone else harm you for as long as I live."
"Try me, Alec. I've heard stranger things." She laughed musically.
I couldn't stop the smile that came to my lips and eyes. "I doubt that, Sharon."
She raised her eyebrows in disbelief at my words.
I sighed. "Sharon, do you really wish to know?"