Before Convergence #4 - What Was Left Behind

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 25, 2017

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Submitted: May 25, 2017

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My name is Azurian.

I was a shopkeeper in this fine town. Or...well, it used to be a fine town at one point. Until THAT day, this place was a bustling city of commerce, one of the greatest cities in the world, full of people with bright futures, some of the most imaginative architecture I had ever seen and the seat of power in this corner of the world. Of course, no city is perfect, and even in one as magnificent as this, there was an underground black market amongst the hustle and bustle of honest trading, right under the noses of those that policed the streets. Those are the people I dealt with. By day, I was a humble seller of curious trinkets. Mind you, I was not one of the dollar merchants selling simple wares to gullible tourists. No, what made its way over to my shop were odds and ends that few could get their hands on. Nothing illegal you understand, but my wares were always hard to find elsewhere.

By night…well, that's where my real operation was run. When I closed my shop an hour or two past noon, I began my real double life. Most in the city knew I was one of the finest private investigators around. That was my afternoons and evenings. I daresay I was the very best at what I did. Maybe one day, I'll tell you all about it. 

But today…today is the day after. When all of it came crashing down. I lost everything. Well, no, I take that back. I didn't lose everything. I still had my life. In fact, I'm frankly amazed that I'm still alive, sandwiched here between the remains of two metallic automata. And how typical...it's raining. Everything around me is a sopping mess.

Despite how tired I felt, I still had some strength in me, and I managed to pull myself out of the unfortunate entrapment. When I was fully free, I adjusted my blue fedora and matching-colored trench coat for good measure. I had no idea how long I was out, but thankfully my clothes did their job against this rain.

As I walked along at a steady pace, my eyes took in the bleak city sights. When I was last conscious, the city was burning, with death and destruction everywhere you looked. This wasn't any better. Buildings I once knew, street corners, fine establishments; all of it destroyed or burnt to the ground. But the worst had to be the bodies lying in the streets. Some I recognized. Others I didn't. More still were the remains of the invaders; the city didn't go down without a fight.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something I wasn't expecting to see: a survivor. A young, dark-skinned boy who couldn't be older than thirteen or fourteen. He was wearing very plain clothes: a dark purple polo, light blue jeans, and deep purple sneakers. He would have stood out opposite some of average folks in this town, but that was beside the point. Here was another person who'd made it out alive, sitting at the remains of the storefront I'd visited only a couple of times, crying silently to himself. I made my way over to him.

"Hello," I said casually.

"Ahh!" The boy cried out in surprise. His mild voice cracked a bit and I suspected his voice was just starting to drop. "S-Sorry. I thought I was all alone."

"I did too," I replied. I held out my hand in greeting. "Azurian is my name. Azurian Aparicio."

"Julius Zuberi." The boy took my hand as his tear-stained eyes brightened and his suffering was momentarily forgotten. "Wait, you're...THE Azurian?"

"Do you know another one?" I gave him a sly smile.

"It's just..." He paused. "I used to live in the Light Corridor district."

"Ah." I nodded knowingly. "My old stomping grounds. I'm surprised we've never met and that you didn't recognize me sooner. I was a common sight in those parts of town."

"I didn't get out much. My parents wouldn't let me. Something about me being a gift. But yeah, my friends always talked about you. Said you solved a lot of issues the Guard couldn't." There was a nervousness to him, one I attributed to awe at having met a celebrity for the first time. 

My smile became a tad grim. "Well, only a few. Not that it matters now that the apocalypse came and went."

"Yeah..." Julius looked out into the rain and the destruction beyond. "Do you know what happened?"

"Not really. The raid sirens blared and what little remained of the Guard tried to defend the city, but these bandits and machines working together seemed to be too much for them to handle..." I stopped myself, unsure of how to continue. "Frankly, I must have passed out or something during the fighting, because I don't remember much. Woke up stuck between two of those metallic...things."

"I see..." Julius clearly did not, but he didn't press. "All I know is my family is dead. My friends, classmates, all gone..." Tears formed in his eyes once again.

"I've been alone for a long time now, but yes, all my friends, acquaintances..." I sighed. "I think the best thing we can do now, in their memory, is to survive and see if we can figure out what happened during this attack."

Julius looked up at me, hope in his eyes. "Still being the detective?"

"I'm technically a private investigator, but that'll do." I winked at him. "This is going to be an interesting case, I believe, even if no one but me is asking the question."

"I'll ask then," Julius said as he brought a hand to his chin. His eyes went upwards as he thought. "Haven't bandits always been a problem around the border?"

"They've never hit Radiance like this before," I said, shaking my head negatively. "I am aware that the Guard were stretched thin protecting the neutral territories, but they never let the bandits get anywhere near the capital city."

At this moment, the rain seemed to lighten somewhat as the storm passed away from the city. Cautiously, I peeked outside the broken storefront. The coast was clear; we were still alone.

"Come on," I said, beckoning to Julius.

Wordlessly, he followed as we traveled through a few of the various districts, again observing the carnage. Once pristine marble roads were now cracked and shattered. Sludge from ash mixed with rain fill every nook and cranny of open space, from debris piles to the scattered corpses littering the wrecked streets.

"I didn't know it was this bad over here..." Julius said in a whisper.

"If it bothers you too much, don't look at any of it. War is hell, especially when it involves civilians."

He nodded, but I could see that Julius was refusing to tear his eyes away from the morbid spectacle. Was it perhaps a way for him to burn this scene into his memory? Or was he trying to put on a brave face for me, the celebrity detective?

After a few paces, we ran into a building that, unlike the others, was barely touched by any of the devastation surrounding it. The exterior of the building was made up of metal plates and there were no windows to allow light in or out.

"Why is this building still standing?" Julius asked.

"It's a warehouse." I looked up at the large building. "They're sturdy. But...this place surviving the battle completely untouched is either a huge coincidence or it's hiding something important enough that everyone left it alone." I flexed my fingers. "Best place to start looking as any."

The side door opened inwardly with a creak. The interior was nearly pitch black.

"This is really dark," Julius said.

"We can't let that stop us."

We headed inside, taking careful steps to avoid tripping over anything, but the floor appeared to be smooth and free of random debris. Oddly, there didn't seem to be much in this warehouse.

"Do you see that?" I pointed in the distance. "Tell me that's not just me."

"I see it."

It was the body of a young woman, which we could only see because of the soft light-blue glow that seemed to encapsulate her entire being.

"Clearly a Guard member and-" I paused as we got close enough to properly see the body. There was a slash across her neck and a large amount of dried blood splattered across her uniform and the ground. "Dead."

"Who killed her?" Julius's eyes were wide as he too got a glimpse of the body.

"Or what, possibly, such as what's causing that blue aura?"

Arbitrarily, I checked for a pulse. Of course, there was none, but given the glowing state of this Guardswoman's body, I had to be sure.

"Some kind of ability?" Julius wondered.

"I haven't heard of any ability that operates like this, especially after death. Trust me. In my investigations over the years, I've seen all kinds of weird dissipations, vanishings, and explosions when people die. If I were to guess, this blue aura is not related to the woman."

"But it's all around her body. Doesn't it have to be hers?"

"Not necessarily. But for now, I don't have enough data to make a proper conjecture. It's all speculation, which is always dangerous when one doesn't have enough information."

"Wait..." Julius pointed towards another corner of the room. "I think I see another one over there."

"What?" I looked over and saw that it was another body. We headed over to it. This one was another girl, a few years younger, wearing a much darker set of clothes so dark it nearly blended in with the blackness of the warehouse. She was surrounded by an aura in the same manner as the Guardswoman, except it was a pink color.

"She can't be any older than me," Julius observed, before he gasped and held onto my trench coat tightly as he noticed what happened to her.

"That's...different," I commented. I felt a little uneasy myself. Like the Guardswoman, the girl was dead. Not by a slash across the throat, but it looked like a small circular hole had been punched clean through the center of her chest and emerged out of the other side of her body. A massive gout of dried blood covered the ground around her and across her black suit. Additionally, her soft features were marred by various injuries, and I noted her clothing was torn in several areas, as if she'd put up a massive fight with someone or something.

"Why are they all dead?" I could hear fear starting to creep into Julius's voice. "I don't see evidence of bandits or even those machines in here..."

"I don't know, but-" I stopped dead in my tracks. In the corner of the warehouse, there was yet another of these...auras. But this one was much, much different from the two females. Not a single body, but many. Too many to count, seemingly all merged together in a mass that was at least two stories tall and as wide as a small house. They were fused together in a kind of black gelatinous mass, with arms, legs and various body parts sticking out of it. Their combined aura was a deep, almost ultraviolet shimmer that was barely visible even in the darkness, but unlike the two girls, whatever this thing was, it appeared to be very much alive.

"Julius, stay close to me." I felt my danger instincts flare to life.

"W-What is that?" I didn't think it was possible for Julius's voice to get any more quiet and fearful, but it did as he too noticed the massive figure before us.

I said nothing, though I took cautious steps towards it with Julius close behind until we were within speaking distance.

"Hello?" I asked cautiously. "May we have the pleasure of an introduction?"

I was expecting this...creature to come after us in some capacity. To roar at us and try to devour us like a hungry demon. To add our bodies to its own, killing our individuality as we joined the writhing within as pieces of some horrendous monstrosity out of a nightmare. However, none of that happened. 

"You two should be dead." The mass spoke as one, with every mouth speaking so the voices sounded like a synchronized chorus. Apparently, the individual human bodies still functioned of their own accord within the black mass.

"Because of you?" I inquired.

"Hardly." We waited for the creature to elaborate, but it stayed silent.

"What are you?" Julius asked. He wasn't like me, masking my true feelings; he was an open book. I could see a multitude of emotions on his face: shock, surprise, horror, fear, revulsion, and even...wonder?

"We are waiting. Waiting for the right time to strike at the one who caused all of this." Again, we waited for the creature to offer more details, but it went no further.

"Why the secrecy?" I asked, calculating that the nudge wouldn't get us killed. Especially since the creature's ire didn't seem to be directed at the two of us.

"Because everything we tell you can and will be used against us." Its voice got slightly more animated and excited. "You two are no more trustworthy than the pair of corpses lying in this building."

"So you killed them," Julius stated, his voice nervous.

"Again, it was not us."

"Then do you know who or what did?" I couldn't help my investigative instincts. My desire to know.

"We have our suspicions." Again, nothing further. Even Julius was frustrated at this point.

"Is there anything you CAN say that'll help us figure out what's going on?" Julius's tone became demanding, his voice finding some courage now that the creature didn't seem as evil as it looked.

"Only this, young one: nothing is what it seems. Your world, your city, your own person. They are nothing but lies. That is the wisdom we offer freely. Believe it, or not."

Silence filled the warehouse as Julius and I processed what the thing said.

"Proof." I could feel my pulse quickening as I spoke the word. "I need proof of this."

"We have none to provide." The voices seemed to sigh, as if resigned to the reality of this problem. "But we only speak the truth. All of us remain trapped in a place where there is no escape. None, until the life of the one who gave birth to us is extinguished."

"And you're not going to tell us because we can't be trusted," Julius said in defeat.

"Correct."

"So what are we supposed to do now?" I asked, my own voice rising in intensity. "Just walk away like nothing has happened? Go back outside and make a new life for ourselves?"

"No." I could hear the grin in the creatures' voices. "Now is the part where we try to kill you."

Instantly, black metal chains flew from within the mass of bodies towards Julius and I. Reacting with almost instantaneous speed, I positioned Julius directly behind me, forcing the black chains to focus entirely on me. They wrapped around my arms, legs, neck, and ankles, holding me in place. Physical resistance was impossible; to my senses, these chains appeared to be built of solid steel.

"Azurian!" Julius shouted in alarm.

"We're afraid we can't let either of you live after hearing all of that." The voices let out a chuckle as the creature formed a second set of chains, preparing to ensnare Julius as well. "What little we did tell you is still too much."

I let out a sigh. "How cliché. I was so hopeful you'd be different from all the other nightmarish creatures I've read about in horror stories."

The creature responded angrily to my provocation. "One more word and your life will end."

"Oh, I don't think that'll happen." I snapped my left hand's fingers. The binding black chains all suddenly retracted like they were afraid of me.

"What?!" The creature roared in surprise and frustration. "How did you do that?!"

I grinned. "You don't know who I am, do you?"

"We don't care who you are! Whatever power you possess is no match for us!" 

"Heh," I smirked. "That much I know."

Now, the creature started physically approaching Julius and I, its dark mass oozing across the smooth pavement of the warehouse ground. Black chains seemed to be coming out of nearly every part of its body, defying gravity by flailing about like tentacles.

"So that's why everyone always talks about you and your powers." Julius spoke with awe as I turned to him.

"Now's not the time," I said quickly. "We need to get out of here. I'll keep myself between this thing and you. Back up towards the door and-"

"I have a better idea," Julius interrupted me. He lifted his hands into the air, as if calling upon something. Suddenly, five wooden geometric shapes the size of golf balls appeared in midair, floating around his outstretched hands like items being manipulated by a poltergeist and glowing a purple hue a few shades lighter than his polo shirt. The shapes included a sphere, a cube, a cylinder, a cone, and a triangular prism. They moved into position like synchronized swimmers equidistant from each other, forming a two-dimensional oval shape based on the way Julius directed them. Purple energy linked the shapes together, and suddenly, a violet-colored portal swirled in front of us.

"How-" I began.

"Just go!" Julius shouted.

Together, the two of us leapt towards the portal. Behind us, I could hear the enraged wails of the creature as it attempted to follow, but just before those black chains could reach the portal, it closed behind us.


© Copyright 2018 T. J. Wong. All rights reserved.

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