The Red Hand Part 39
by Shane MIgliavacca
The Red Hand Part Thirty Nine From Darkness to Light
There’s blood on my hands. The body of one of the VIP’s bodyguards lie at my feet. He made the foolish mistake of breaking ranks. Trying to charge us. Elon and the rest of them block the steps up to Hagen. Below us, at the base of the temple, the guardians. That once secret group made up of the various races of lizards. They’re fighting off the Imperium forces. Giving us a shot at ending Hagen and his ceremony. One of these guardians, a blue lizard Des, is at my side. Maebh is behind us. Des picks up the fallen bodyguard’s sword. Replacing his small ass dagger.
I look over the VIP’s and bodyguards. They all look formidable enough. “Can we take them?”
“There’s no can. We have to.” Des replies.
He’s right about that. We have to get up those steps. I can hear Hagen continuing chanting up there. Just how long is this ritual? Do we have time?
We rush forward. Des slicing open the nearest guard. Elon and the VIP’s join their bodyguards. Forming a wall of well-armed bodies. One of the VIP’s comes at me. I show no mercy as I dodge his clumsy attack. Crushing his skull with the blunt side of my ax. He staggers away before crumpling with a sick thud. Another bodyguard springs at Des, knocking him to the ground. Before I can move to help him, I’m cut off by an orange lizard holding a curved dagger. He slices at me. The blade whistling through the air. I feel Maebh rush past me. Grabbing a fallen guard’s mace. She rushes over to help Des. Using the mace one-handed, she brains Des’ opponent with a sick thud. Shit. That’s a bad-ass old women. My opponent tries to keep me at arm’s length with his dagger. I take a chance, lunging in close. Bringing the hilt of my ax up into his gut, breaking bones with a snap. I Forcefully push him out of my way. A bodyguard lets out a painful scream as Des cleaves off his arm. Maebh pushes one of the VIP’s over the side of the temple with a swing of her mace.
The enemy appears quite shocked by the brutality of our attack. Elon does his best to rally the remaining bodyguards and VIP’s. They try a counterattack. The rest of the battle is short, bloody and savage. The last few bodyguards fight to the end. Not so, though for their charges. The last few VIP’s flee, running up the last flight of steps towards Hagen. The only one left standing is Elon. Despite his fancy getup, he’s no push over. He doing a good job of fending the three of us off.
There’s a loud crash of energy. Like the loudest thunderclap I’ve ever heard times ten. I can feel the air around me start to vibrate. We’re running out of time.
Any time of us try to pass Elon, he cuts us off. We decide to rush him all at once. It’s a risk. He may get one of us but we have to try it. None of us know for sure what will happen when that tower is activated. The three of us spread out, Des on one side, me on the other and Maebh in the center. Elon is momentary confused by this tactic. We charge forward.
Elon hesitates, not sure who to strike at. I see him start to turn towards me. His sword reflecting the noon sun into my eyes. Blinding me. Stopping me in my tracks. This is it. It’s up to Maebh and Des to get him when I go down.
If that’s the case, so be it. Any second his blade will cut into me. Ending my journey here and now. But it’s not his blade that hits me, it’s a body.
I go down. Feeling the stone of the temple dig into my hands as I stop my fall.
I look up confused. Bright splotches dancing in my eyes. My sight returns in time to see Elon stabbing the old woman in the stomach. I lie there frozen not believing what’s happening. Before Elon or I can react, Des lops Elon’s head off. His now headless body spasms before tumbling down the steps of the temple. Like a broken doll.
I crawl over to Maebh who’s fallen to the ground. Lying on her back, clutching her stomach.
I touch her head. Brushing hair from her face. “Why?” I stammer.
“Had to.” She smiles at me. “So much you don’t know. What’s ahead. What you are. You’re just getting started. I’m just an old woman. At her end.”
“No. No you’re not.” Tears burn my eyes.
I feel a strong hand grip my shoulder. I look up to see Des. Looking down at me. “Come. We have to go.”
There’s another explosion in the distance. Just outside the city. It’s followed by a loud war-cry. Looking down, my heart lifts a little. A mass of purple surges into the city streets. Pushing against the enemy forces. The reinforcements are here!
I look down at Maebh. “They’ve come.”
She smiles weakly. “Yes, good.” Taking my hand in hers. “Go. Stop Hagen.”
“I want to stay with you.” I sob deeply.
“No. I’m beyond helping now. Save this world. They need you. Don’t grieve for me child.” Her hand squeezes mine and then goes slack.
I let go of her. Standing, I wipe tears from my eyes. Looking up at Hagen’s tower, I see the sky starting to darken. “Go, join up with the others.” I tell Des.
“No, I should be with you.”
“I’ve got Hagen. You get the others. If I fail, they’ll need you.”
Without looking down at Maebh, I sprint up the steps towards Hagen, towards the end. Halfway up, I can see him standing there. Arms outstretched. His tunic pulled open, exposing the Red Hand. The eye was glowing bright blue. Nearby the remaining VIP’s cower.
A pulse of energy emanates from the eye on the hand, hitting the tower. In the process vaporizing the cowering officials. A bubble of energy emerges from the tower. Engulfing the top of the temple. Light bends around the bubble. Making it hard to see Hagen inside. If he still is. I can feel the steps under me start to vibrate. Chunks of the temple start to break off. Floating up into the air.
Making my way to the top of the steps, I stop. I take one last look back. Below the battle appears to be going our way. I turn back to the bubble. I can see myself reflected on its surface. I hesitate. What happens if I cross into this thing? Can I even enter it?
The bubble begins to expand. Smashing through bits of the temple. The stairs beneath me crumble. There’s nowhere else to go now. I lunge forward towards the unknown.
It parts as I touch it. Swirling around me. I pass through the membrane of the bubble. Entering into a pitch-black void. Before me, at the center of the void is the tower. Hagen standing in front of it.
“Welcome.” Hagen says. He points up into the darkness. “It’s here.” His voice filled with reverence. He staggers towards me. Looking a little drunk, or perhaps tired. The eye of the hand glows a dim yellow.
I look up at the blackness. It parts, there a lone giant eye looks at me. It encompasses the whole of the darkness. Its gaze goes through me. Turning me inside out. I feel the whole of my being, leafed through like someone’s old book.
“How does it feel? To look into the creator?” Hagen babbles in my ear. “What do you see?”
I look into the eye. The walls of reality fall away. All around me are versions of this moment. Versions of me. Versions of others. All at this point. In one I have an eye-patch. In another a teenage boy stands in my place. In yet another, it’s Tenth instead. Still another Sixth survived the final test instead of me. The imagines at first appear one at a time. Then they begin to appear faster. Till they overlap, becoming a blur of realities. My brain reels. So many outcomes. Every bit of it fights for space in my head. I turn away, closing my eyes. Trying to block the flood.
“Do you see now? How wondrous it is? The crux of all realities.” A cold hand touches my shoulder. “Serena. My child, help me. We can show them all. Just take my hand.”
I open my eyes. Hagen’s offered hand a few inches from my face.
“No.” I push away from him. My head still spinning. “This…showing people this, it’ll kill them.”
“It didn’t kill you.” Hagen walks towards me, his hand still offered. “Those that deserve to survive. Those that are strong enough, will. The weak are the ones that bring us down. They’re the corrosion that eats away at society. The simple minded. The ignorant. They’re what holds us back from true perfection. Let them die.”
“No. That’s not gonna happen.” I swing my ax at Hagen. He stops it with a motion of his hand.
“Serena. I would have let you go home. To Earth. I would have given it to you. To watch over.” He shakes his head. “You disappoint me. After seeing the whole of creation. You would still act so ignorant? Be like them? So be it.”
From the darkness, I hear a skittering sound. Coming from all around me. There a grotesque wheezing chuckle. Then claws digging into my shoulders, as something jumps on my back. I fall to the ground. A clawing, biting fury on my back.
I struggle to turn over as the thing attacks me. Finally managing to roll over. Pushing it off me. It’s Hagen’s twisted creation. The Boy. I kick at it. The thing snarling back at me. Gobs of drool drip from its mouth. A shiver runs down my spine.
I’m not gonna die by this thing’s hand. That’s for fucking sure.
I let my energy flow into the ax. The crystals burn so bright, they light the darkness around me.
“Come on you little shit!” I taunt. “I’m going to fuck you up.”
It comes at me. Running on all fours. I clutch the ax. Waiting. Closer you little turd. It pushes off the ground, taking to the air in a single pounce. It’s claws and bared as it leaps at me. I swing. The ax humming through the air. It connects. Slicing off one of the boy’s misshapen arms.
The thing lands behind me. Letting out an inhuman shriek. I spin around. The misshapen child crouched like a wounded beast. A stump where it’s right arm had been. It hisses at me. Before taking to the air again. The thing grabs hold of my arm with it’s one remaining arm. Digging in its finger nails. I let out a pained scream. Opening up its mouth, it tries to bite me. The stench from its breath smells like rotten meat. I can feel vomit in the back of my throat.
Desperate I drop onto my back. Using the thing’s momentum to send it tumbling off me. It lands hard on the ground. Headfirst. I roll over, scrambling towards it before it can recover. Burying my ax into the back of the thing’s head. Splitting it in two. A gray, clay like matter oozes from its head.
Getting back to my feet, I turn. Limping towards Hagen. “What now?” I ask.
He laughs. Raising his right hand. “You die.”
“Wasn’t talking too you, big boy.” I answer. There’s only one person that can end this. I hope this works. “You’re not this jackasses’ slave. I know you’re in there. Fighting him.”
The cocksure smile starts to fade from Hagen’s face. “What are you-”
“Shut up!” I bark. “You don’t want to be used you said. Well don’t be! Fight! You were created to be a weapon. You weren’t given a choice! I’m giving you one!”
Hagen stands there, fighting a battle against his own body. “Serena! You don’t know what you’re doing girl!”
Energy starts to swell around him. Behind him the eye watches us Watching this little drama unfold.
Hagen raises both his hands. The tips of his fingers glow with blood red energy.
I hold the ax in front of me. Channeling my energy into it. Creating a barrier. Trying to shield myself from what’s to come.
“Fight him!” I scream. “Don’t let Maebh die for nothing! She took you away from the ones who wanted to use you. Gave you a chance to grow. Make your choice. Are you a slave? A weapon? Or a living creature?”
Hagen laughs. Daggers of energy shoot from his fingers. I hold the ax tight. As the beams hit the barrier.
The world explodes in a ball of white hot energy and pain.
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