Destiny Story: A Work in Progress Part 4

The Titans were in charge of security for the City. In addition to the guards at the gate and the guards on the Wall, the Titans were also the policing force. Generally, Hunters did not get along with Titans, and were often the subject of investigation. Some of the old prejudices of the past still remained and when something went wrong in the City, before looking to the Cities minorities, the Exos and the Awoken, the Hunters were often the first place that the Titans looked. As the pilot looked down, he rolled his eyes as one of the Titans began climbing the stairs.

Sev-Dax climbed the stairs to the Warlocks’ conclave and when he saw who was at the top of the staircase, his blood ran cold. As a general rule he treated everyone he came across with equal amounts of respect. This lead to him being a generally well-liked member of the Titan City Security Force, or TCSF, as the populace more commonly called it. The TCSF was the policing arm of the Titan Democratic Council, and was charged with keeping the peace within the City. The TCSF often worked with the Warlock Order in investigating a variety of crimes that happened within the City, and a trip to the conclave was a regular occurrence.

Sev-Dax was the TCSF liaison to the Warlock Order and usually liked coming to the conclave. Coming from modest beginnings, Sev-Dax was the child of a Titan and a Warlock. However, the “Magic” affinity had passed him up and took root in his sister, making him unable to join. By the age of seven he was given, as was tradition, the opportunity to join the Titans and later take his rightful place by his fathers’ side on the Wall. He then entered the “Titan Youth” program. Unfortunately for Sev-Dax, when he had finished the advanced placement course at fifteen, he was tapped to enter into TCSF due to his high marks in forensic science and reading comprehension, among others.

While Sev-Dax was disappointed to enter the TCSF, he had quickly developed a high aptitude in investigative politics, and was the only member of the Titans in the TCSF to ever solve the Soyez Enigma. The Soyez Enigma was named after the founder of the TCSF, the Titan Soyez. Soyez was one of the Titans depicted on the statue in the courtyard. She was a shrewd Titan, who realized that the City needed a policing agent, a group of elite and knowledgeable Titans who could maintain peace within the City. Only those who tested in the ninetieth percentile were selected and put through TCSF training. She also developed an impossible puzzle, which involved saving the entire populace of the City in the event of an attack. No one had ever solved the puzzle until Sev-Dax.

Sev-Dax was fast-tracked to TCSF command, and as part of this, he was tasked to receive specialized training from Task Force Titan Night. While working with TF Titan Night, he had developed a good friendship with the commanders’ protégé. As he continued to ascend the staircase he placed a hand on his sidearm. Even though he was nearly seven feet tall without armor, and weighed more than the Hunter, he had learned a long time ago not to underestimate this man.

As the Titan walked up the stairs, the Hunter remained still. The Titan wore the standard Titan medium armor; colored blue, with red highlights on his shoulder pauldrons, designating his position of commander. It was remarkable on how Titan armor reminded the Hunter of the armor he had seen in Holovids. In the Holovids the armor always seemed to cover the entire body. The Hunter remembered one such vid that was taken from an Old Earth Arthurian legend regarding a legendary sword and the ruler who wielded it. It always amazed him at how they could move in such a heavy contraption and how the heroes had always come out on top. The Hunter preferred his mobility as opposed to strength, so as the Titan lumbered up the stairs the Hunter couldn’t help but smile.

The Hunter well knew however, that Titan armor was deceptively light, and if needed, the Titan could move just as quickly as someone who wore little to no armor at all. As the Titan stepped up the last step, the Hunter quickly checked himself and realized that he had been unsheathing and retracting his hidden blade slightly. Elsibeth turned away as the Titan nodded in her direction. The Hunter remained leaning up against the wall of the conclave as the Titan approached him.

“Why is it that whenever there’s a major problem at the conclave you seem to be the one there?” Sev-Dax said, placing his hands on his hips.

“What no handshake, no ‘Long time no see’?” The Hunter asked as he continued to lean against the wall. “I mean don’t you usually first remove your helmet when you speak with a superior?”

“You’re not my superior Ver’verd.” The Titan replied. “You left the order long ago, and you were never even my superior to begin with.” The Titan then removed his helmet to reveal short cropped dark hair that was graying at the temples, and a lean but strong jawed face. Sev-Dax had a short trimmed beard and two red stripes flash-tattooed down his face covering each eye. The tattoo was a marking that only the top echelon of the Titan hierarchy wore and could be removed when the role they were placed in ended. There were only three stripes that could be worn that signified the role a Titan played in their leadership.

One stripe was for the leader of the Titan Democratic Council and was either worn across the right side of the face, or could be worn down the center. Often the leader would choose the right side of the face, because having the tattoo down the center looked too silly. The second in command had two stripes that could either be worn with one down the center of the face and the other across the eyes in the shape of an Old Earth Christian cross, or down each side of the face covering the eyes like Sev-Dax had chosen. The third leader of the Titan Democratic Council Triumvirate wore three stripes; one over each eye, and the third could either be worn across the lips or over the eyes.

Sev-Dax held his helmet, visor forward, against his left hip so that he could salute junior officers as they entered and left the building. Dropping such salute as a junior TCSF officer left the building. “Are you not going to offer me the same courtesy?” Sev-Dax said as he looked coldly at Ver’verd’s helmeted face. “I assure you that you are safe here.”

“If its all the same to you, I’d rather leave my bucket on.” Ver’verd replied with a shrug. “Half of the Titans idolize me, the other half want me dead, and I’m allergic to both.”

Sev-Dax shrugged. “So what went on here, since I take it that you were inside?” He asked. “Does she know anything?” Sev-Dax nodded towards Elsibeth.

“I don’t know anything.” Elsibeth said; her voice modulated to sound male. “And what makes you think that I’m a female?”

“One.” Sev-Dax said, not looking away from Ver’verd. “You responded when your head was turned. I could easily have been talking about Darmata. Two, Ver’verd’s not the only one to know about you. How else do you think the daughter of our greatest member could have gotten off planet without setting off alarms? Everyone is gene-coded upon first entrance to the City, whether by birth or through customs. The Titans still conscript children who fit a certain genetic profile. Your mixed-blood DNA, and your father, saved us from doing such a thing. Usually, children of Titans are given a choice.”

“Whatever.” Elsibeth turned her voice modulator off. “You-“ But she was cut off by Ver’verd.

“Switch your modulator back on.” Ver’verd cautioned. “We don’t want people looking into why a female is in male armor.” To Sev-Dax he said. “All I know is that the elevator stopped and that’s about it.”

Sev-Dax raised an eyebrow. “Really, well there was also an earthquake, and sensors told us it radiated from this location. Weird thing, since there are no fault lines underneath the City.”

Ver’verd shook his head. “That’s all I know. Darmata was with me; she might be able to shed some more light on it.

“Hmmm.” Sev-Dax said as he placed his helmet back on his head. “I’ll make sure to ask. In the meantime don’t leave the City, and if you do, let me know where you are going.” With that the Titan strode past the two Hunters and entered the conclave.

“He’s still a jerk.” Elsibeth said as the pair walked down the steps. “What about the ‘Hog?”

“It’s a ‘Puma’, and no, we can get it later.” Ver’verd replied as they walked to the nearest public transport station. “I’m sure the TCSF will need to examine it, although I’m also sure they won’t find anything.”

“Hey, when do I get a cool moniker?” Elsibeth asked as they reached the station and entered into a transport. “All I get called is kid. I’m twenty-six now you know.”

“That depends, are you ready to wear female armor, or to have that chest piece modified?” Ver’verd said, as he tapped in the location that they were headed to on a holo-panel in front of him.

The transport began moving. “I don’t know yet.” Elsibeth said, softly. “I don’t know if I’m ready.”

As the transport continued to move through the City Ver’verd said. “Well if you want to you can always choose ‘Bespada’ in honor of your father.” Elsibeth shook her head, and Ver’verd added. “You could say that you admired the man, no one has to know that you are his daughter.”

“I don’t know.” Elsibeth said as she placed her head on Ver’verd’s shoulder. “Where did you get yours?”

Ver’verd stiffened slightly and then relaxed. Ever since Elsibeth turned twenty-two he had a hard time thinking of her as a child. Well your father was a fan of those old books like I am, and he gave me one that had a fictional language which was created in it. Unfortunately the author never finished the narrative, so the language also remained unfinished. In this language the word ver’verd means ‘mercenary’ so when I decided to become a Hunter, I chose that word to go by as my moniker. Several Hunters change their name when they become Hunters because to them it’s like starting a new life and having a new identity to go along with it. Only Darmata remembers my birth name. The others who knew me way back when don’t want to mention it, because to them it’s like a stab in the back. Most Titans never leave the order and those that do are either listed as ‘missing in action’ or are shunned. Only in special cases are former Titans given the honor of being considered ‘Titan for all time’ and most of those that are given that title are all dead.”

As he finished his explanation he noticed that Elsibeth’s chest was rising and lowering slightly, indicating that she was asleep. Ver’verd looked out of the side view screen and watched the City go by in silence.

Destiny Story: A Work in Progress Part 3

The pilot heard the footsteps behind him as he walked down the hallway. He didn’t even turn as the figure strode up beside him.

“What in the name of the Traveler was that?!” Darmata growled angrily. She had moved down the corridor in such a hurry, that her cowl had come off of her head, and her cloak had become unsnapped, revealing a lightly colored, light weight tunic and trousers.

“What was what?” The pilot asked, his head unmoving, picking up his pace.

“You know what I mean. That scene in there with Elder Mon-Krega!” She said, matching her pace with his. “Why did you do that? Half the council was afraid and the other half was ready to attack!”

“I don’t know Mata.” The pilot said, his pace slowing slightly. “That Drega guy just got under my skin is all, and when that kid spoke up, I just snapped.” They had reached the elevator and the pilot slapped the control panel. The lights of the elevator blinked in descending order, showing its decent. The pilot released his rifle and it swung there freely, connected to his armor by a carbon fiber nano-tube strap that the pilot had installed, this way he wouldn’t loose his weapon in a sprint. He crossed his arms across his chest and tapped his foot in annoyance.

“Look.” Darmata said, her voice softening. “I know what you’ve been through with the council. I know how hard it is for you every time you come back here, but you have to understand, this is my life now. On the council I can change things. We no longer conscript children. We have dropped the selective breeding program. We continue to test children up until the time they leave the monasteries. That initiate girl that you so lovingly call ‘Pluck’? Her parents are Warlocks and have only just now reached the position of Master. We even allow inter-species couples to join our ranks and do not ask that they separate. So much has changed since then.”

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. The pilot stepped inside and Darmata followed. Once the doors closed she continued. “I am not saying that the Order is perfect, but it is changing.” The pilot turned to face her and looked into her eyes through his visor. Her original eyes had been a dark hazel and would shift depending upon her mood. These eyes were not her original eyes however, and had lost that color changing effect. While the color of the eyes were still hazel they were only replacements. A pang of regret hit the pilot as he remembered that he’d never see those eyes again.

“Not all of the things that we thought were wrong with the Order has changed.” He said, his voice hollow.

What is that supposed to mean?” Darmata asked, her eyes taking on a quizzical look, the scar tissue wrinkling at the corners.

“You said that the council had dropped the selective breeding program, right?” The pilot asked, his arms dropping down to his sides and his hands balling into fists. ”Then what’s the deal with you and ‘Professor Snape’ being betrothed and all that yotz?” Darmatas’ face turned red, not out of embarrassment, but out of the anger that had sprung up into her face.

“Look buster.” Darmata said, anger in her eyes as she stepped closer to his helmeted face. With his boots and helmet, the pilot was a full head taller than she was, without them, her hairline came to his nose, so she didn’t have to look up any farther than normal. “I’m not even going to pretend to know what a ‘Professor Snape’ is, but what business is it of yours who I’m ‘betrothed’ to?!?” She stabbed a finger into his chest. “You…weren’t… there!” Her voice rose with her anger. “I waited, and you weren’t there! When you stood before the council after the ‘incident’, I was there outside with a bandage over my eyes and using crutches to support myself. I thought, finally the council will see what I had always known, finally they would let you in, finally they would let us…” Her voice began to crack and tears welled up in her eyes. She wiped the tears away with the hem of her sleeve. Regaining her composure, she said. “With your power, it would have been you as the leader and not me.”

Often, when they were children, the pilot would make her cry by playing, what she had thought, was a mean spirited prank. Often, it would be the one thing that would make him feel instantly sorry for what he had done, and he would try his best to cheer her up. When she cried because of her masters death, he would hold her and tell her that it would be okay. The pilot almost felt that way now, but when she had said the word “power,” all of the sorrowful feelings washed away, to be replaced with an explosive anger.

The pilot tore off his helmet and his pale green eyes bore into her. The pilot had brown hair that was cut short and greying at the temples. His nose was slightly bent, mostly because of being broken once too often. He had a square jaw, its muscle twitching as he looked at her. His face always seemed to consist of a five o’clock shadow no matter how often he shaved. He was moderately attractive by current standards, and would look even better if it wasn’t for the scar that traveled from his left ear to the bottom of his jaw. The scar wasn’t that deep, and would only become pronounced if he got too much sun. He was only thirty-five but due to his livelihood, looked much older.

“Power!” The pilot said as he lost control of his own anger. “Power!?” He said louder this time, his voice rising. “Is that all you people think about, ‘power’?!” He spat out the words and Darmata shrinked away. “The Council of Elders, all they talked about was ‘my power’ this, and ‘my power’ that! The entire time I was in there, that’s all they whispered! ‘His power is great! With his power he could help us. With his power we could be victorious. He has minimal affinity, how could he hold so much power? Why was he chosen? Quick, find a record of his birth, there must be something in there. We can’t find a birth record anywhere, all we know is that he was found at the monastery in the night. By the Traveler, how can we make use of this? He’s only twenty-two, but the level he’s shown on…’ They never asked about what happened to your master?! They never asked about what happened to the enemy! All they asked about was ‘my power’!” His voice continued to rise and the elevator began to shake, the lights flickering. “Dammit Mata, I didn’t even know if my best friend was still alive!” The pilot spread his arms wide, the elevator stopped and began to shake even more violently, the lights flickering more and more.

Darmata lept back, as the air around her friend began to charge with electricity, the smell of ozone burning her nostrils. His hair had begun to stand on end, and his eyes began to glow yellow. “I thought I’d lost you when you went to be trained by the Warlocks! I thought I’d lost you on Enceladus! I don’t know what happened then, but I knew that I couldn’t loose you again!” Tears began to run down his face. “I can’t loose you again. Mata I just can’t! When you talked about ‘my power’, you sounded just like them! I can’t loose you again Mata!” A bright light filled the elevator, and then all was dark.

The lights flickered on and there was the pilot huddled in a heap, sobbing. He was curled up in the fetal position, just… sobbing. The elevator resumed its normal operation and Darmata rushed to the pilots’ side and held him in her arms, tears streaming down her own face. The two of them laid there for a while, crying. After a moment, she helped the pilot to his feet and they continued to stand there holding each other in silence.

After what seemed like forever, the pilot spoke softly. “I love you Darmata.” Darmata pulled her head from his chest, tears again in her eyes, and placed his forehead against hers.

“I love you too, you big dummy. The last time you said that to me was on Enceladus.” Darmata looked up slightly into his pale green eyes. “The last time we did this was on Enceladus too.” Darmata smiled coquettishly, leaned slightly upward and tilted her head, their lips pressing together in a gentle kiss. The kiss soon escalated, and their hands began to move, trying to find purchase. In the fray her tunic loosened and the pilot kissed the space between the base of her neck and her collarbone. Darmata gripped the pilots’ head tightly and tugged at his hair, her eyes looking towards the ceiling.

The pilots’ hands slipped under her robe and around her waist as he tried to pull her closer to him. The pilots’ hand tightly gripped her left buttock, the combination of the pressure of his hand and the thinness of the fabric caused a shock of electricity and sent shivers up Darmatas’ spine, causing her eyes to close and a sharp gasp to escape her lips. The pilots’ other hand found purchase on her right buttock and he lifted her up, her legs instinctively rising, her feet hooking onto the small of his back. They slammed against the wall of the elevator as the pilot lost his balance. Darmata winced and rubbed the back of her head.

“Sorry.” The pilot said sheepishly. This brought them to their senses long enough to look at the lights that indicated the elevators’ rising. “How long do you think we have?” The pilot asked as he looked into Darmatas’ eyes.

“Not long enough.” Darmata said slyly. She placed her hands on his shoulders to steady herself and her legs slid off of him, so that her feet could feet touch the floor. The pilot squeezed her buttocks, lifting her slightly. She yelped, and then took a hand from his shoulder to cover her mouth and stifle a giggle. The pilot turned her around, moved her long hair to the side and began to nibble on her neck.

“Like I should care.“ The pilot breathed into her ear, sending another shiver up her spine, coupled with a warm feeling as he slid a hand into her tunic.

“Seriously, you’re going to get me in trouble like last time.” She chuckled. Her eyes closed and a slight moan escaped her lips as the pilots’ hand found what it was looking for.

“Some traditions are best left untouched.” The pilot said as he moved away from her. He began to check over his equipment, as Darmata straightened out her robes and tunic. As he picked up his helmet from the corner of the elevator, he watched her for a bit. “You know the loose fitting look is a good look for you.”

“Ha, ha, ha.” She replied flatly, a smile across her lips, belaying her tone. “You know I wish I could. It gets soo hot with these robes on. The building‘s not as drafty as people are lead to believe either.

“Well you could always, well, you know.” The pilot said, tilting his to one side, a smirk crossing his lips. Darmatas’ eyes grew wide.

“Ewww, no!” She exclaimed, drawing her arms across her body. “That’s like, gross. Seriously, you’re gross.” Her voice deadpan, her lips pursed tightly.

“Something else I noticed.” The pilot said as Darmata turned to primp herself in the mirrored surface of the interior of the elevator.

“Oh what’s that?” She asked as she wiped away a black mark with the sleeve of her robe and began messing with her hair.

“Well, you used to always use contractions, but since you joined the Order you never use them. I first noticed it when we were together on Enceladus.” The pilot said as he watched her. “But when you’re really irritated or when we’re alone together like this, you use them. Why is that?”

“Well.” Darmata said, as she fiddled with her hair. “We have to be pretty formal at all times as Warlocks, it’s like tradition or something…” She stopped and sighed in frustration, as her hair refused to cooperate. “When I get angry, I begin to forget that. This one time… ugh this hair… I almost launched Radiance at this poor initiate who was just doing their job. I was so mad at what happened that I completely forgot that I was supposed to be this super-composed Elder. Anyway, when I’m with you I can be more myself and I don’t have to worry about being all formal and such.” She sighed and dropped her arms, giving up straightening out her hair as it drooped around her head, a tangled mess.

The pilot connected his helmet to a mag plate on the lower back of his armor and pulled out a comb from a pocket on his belt. He stepped towards her and gently took hold of her hair. As he began to work out the tangles Darmata winced. “So how long has that girl been your partner?” She asked, wincing as another tangle was worked through. She’s very pretty.”

“Huh, you can tell?” The pilot asked as he gently tried to remove another tangle. “Oh wait, that’s right, you can tell with your magic Warlock powers.” He removed another tangle. “Well it’s been about twelve years. I couldn’t get to her until I was twenty-three, what with all of the interrogations, psych-evals, rehab and all that jazz. After all of that was done, I spent the rest of the time trying to find her. After I had been to all of the Warlock monasteries with no luck, I finally found her in a back alley. Needless to say she tried to proposition me, and when that didn’t work, she tried to rob me. After I subdued her, I told her who I was, and that her had father sent me. Well, being that she was fourteen at the time, and even though she’d had a year that would make any kid a hardened street thug; she balled her eyes out, wrapped her arms around my neck, and almost choked the life out of me. I took her to the nearest spaceport and we hopped a transport off of Earth. After drifting from place to place for about a year we linked up with Sa’Dar, you remember, the hunter who was with us on Enceladus. Well, to make a long story short, we worked with him for a bit and now here we are.”

The pilot finished with the last tangle and began running his fingers through Darmatas’ hair. “You always did have such beautiful hair. How come you don’t braid it any more?” Her eyes had a lazy look in them as the pilot continued to run his finger through her hair. Darmatas’ eyes closed and her mouth dropped open, exposing perfect teeth. She shivered slightly, a slight moan escaping her lips as the pilot tugged slightly.

“Don’t get me started again.” She said, pulling away from him. “I won’t be able to stop this time.” Her back to the pilot, she settled against his chest, placing his hands in front, her hands clasped on top of his, and closed her eyes. She sighed. “I wish we could stay like this forever. Oh, and I don’t need to braid my hair anymore because I don’t wear my armor that often, except for Open Ceremony.” Open Ceremony was when new Warlock apprentices received their permanent armor and became Journeymen. It is then that they were able to go on missions outside of the City with their masters, and be teamed together with Titan’s and Hunters.

“Wait, weren’t you teamed up with me as a Journeyman? The pilot said as he held her. “That would have meant that you were about two years into it right?”

“No.” Darmata said as she lazily opened her eyes. “I was a special case, I passed my initiate phase just a couple of years after I left the monastery with my master for the first time at twelve. My apprenticeship lasted the standard five years so I passed that at seventeen. I received my mastery when I was twenty-five, a few years after Enceladus. So altogether my Journeyman phase was eight years.”

“So what took your Journeyman phase so long then?” The pilot asked as he looked down at the top of her head. His next train of thought stopped as he noticed a light pink butterfly barrette in her hair. “It was because of me wasn’t it.”

“Not entirely” She said, turning to face him. “Remember, back then marriages between Warlock males and females were arranged through the selective breeding program. My name was selected and Sal-Drega’s was as well. We were paired up when I reached my Journeyman phase. We had several times to meet and then a date was decided. What did you call him, ‘Professor Snot’? Well whatever, he was a grease ball back then too, always looking around like he was plotting something. He was reported to be the child of two long standing Masters, so he thought that he was ruler over everybody. Because he had a high affinity like I did, he thought that made him special, above everyone. It’s only gotten worse since he was placed on the council.”

The pilot stopped her. “Wait, I thought that only the Traveler could choose the next successor to the council?”

“Yes, the Traveler does, although confirmation of council status can take along time.” She continued. “We only announce that a new council member was chosen at the time of appointing. The truth is, that once a council member applicant, is chosen by the Traveler, it can take some time for them to mature as Warlocks. This way we don’t have a five-year-old sitting on the council. Before you stop me again, a person is only selected to join the Order as an initiate after their tenth birthday. A month before that, we receive our ‘final’ test for affinity, to decide if we are fit for Warlock training. A lot of us in the monasteries as kids were taught that, ‘before our tenth birthday the Traveler will test us to see if we are worthy’. The reality is that the testing starts as soon as we enter the monastery. Remember those blood tests we had every six months?”

The pilot nodded. “That’s because they were gathering our DNA wasn’t it?”

“Exactly.” Darmata said, moving her arms around the pilot. She held him close, her head resting on his chest. “What a lot of people within the order don’t know is that the test not only determines ‘Magical’ affinity, but also potential. My affinity numbers were the same consistently as I grew older, except for my final one, along with Dregas’. Our numbers were near identical, with mine the dominant ones. It’s part of why we were paired together.”

“That still doesn’t explain how you dodged the bullet with ‘Professor Snape’ for so many years.” The pilot said as he processed what Darmata had already said.

“I’m getting to that.” She said as she gripped him tighter. “Most human females reproductive organs are prepared to reproduce between the ages of nine and fifteen. This is called menarche. In human females, where an average ‘Magic’ affinity is present, this menarche is delayed until our early to mid twenties. In the past, human females matured enough emotionally to have children by their early to mid twenties. This often changed a woman’s outlook on life enough to complete the emotional maturity by the end of their ability to have children, or menopause. It’s part of the reason that women are less emotional when they are older as opposed to when they are younger. There are exceptions to the rule however; it was just a matter of getting to know a person.’

‘With a female who has an average ‘Magic’ affinity, the opposite of what I said about emotional maturity is true. Because our menarche is delayed, our minds compensate for the bodies imbalance of the ‘natural’ order of things. We now reach emotional maturity between the ages of nine to fifteen. In all honesty when we last saw each other in the monastery, I had completed my emotional maturity, and was ready right there and then, it’s that just my body was not.”

“Okay.” The pilot said, still not fully comprehending. “I think I got it so far, you can have children emotionally, and put up with a man’s emotional immaturity when you reach about nine, but physically you can’t have children until your are twenty, which is why the regular Journeyman phase started when it did. However, your emotional maturity decreases as you get older…” The pilot shook his head. “Wait a minuet, you mean that you’re going to get crazier as you get older?!?”

“That’s okay.” Darmata said, looking up at him. “Males still complete their emotional maturity around forty, so while I’m going nutters emotionally, you’ll be able to handle me.” She reached up and kissed him with a smile. “And I’ll love you for it, you’ll be my rock.” She kissed him again. “Anyway in my case, for females with a high ‘Magic’ affinity rating and a low potential rating, like I have, this delays the process even further to about their late twenties to early thirties. This is the reason that my union to Dregas was held off until five years ago. Because of my high affinity and low potential, I couldn’t reproduce offspring until now. Dregas has a fluctuating potential rating, so the breeding program was counting on a balance between our highs and lows. Now is when Dregass’ potential is at its lowest so they are pressuring a union between us. For all of their talk of balance, they seemed to focus only on the balance of the high and not the low.”

“Ah.” The pilot said as revelation dawned upon him. “So that’s why he seemed all lovey-dovey with you. Because of our past history, he wanted to assert his dominance over me.”

“There’s more.” She said, her voice a little softer, as she nuzzled the pilots’ chest. In a small, soft voice she said, “It’s the best part.” She raised her head, smiled at him, and then kissed him again deeply. When she pulled away there were tears in her eyes, and her lower lip was quivering, she hurriedly buried her face in the pilots’ chest. “I mentioned that the test measured the potential as well as affinity right?” The pilot nodded. “Well,” Darmata continued, her right ear against his chest. “When I was a Journeyman I discovered that on the last day I was tested, my affinity scores were through the roof. No one in the history of the Warlocks had a score this high.’

‘But my potential was listed as, ‘Fails to meet minimum standard, not measurable.’ When I brought it to my Masters’ attention, he told me that while it was unique that my potential rating would be so low, it was not uncommon. He said that when they had first discovered that ‘Magic’ potential was testable too; they tested the DNA of some of the first Warlocks. They discovered that their potential rating was not all that great either. He said that, while DNA degradation was a plausible factor in the reduced potential rating, the findings were inconclusive, so it had been decided that the potential rating would not be an overwhelming factor in the decision of viable candidates for Warlock training. However, it would be a factor within the selection of mates under the guidelines of the selective breeding program.’

‘I asked my master who my chosen partner would be, and he told me that because of my unique potential rating, I would need to be paired up with an individual who, not only met the requirements for my unusually high affinity rating, but also my unique potential rating. The only person who fit those requirements was a young Journeyman named Sal-Drega. My master told me that Sal-Drega had a potential rating that fluctuated and that because of my potential rating, it would need to be at the right time. I met Drega, and it only took one meeting to tell that he was a jerk. I continued to meet with him, as part of my obligation, but he just continued to disgust me.”

The pilot tried to look her in the eye but she held her head fast against his chest as she continued. “I had always worn that barrette, it helped hold my braid together. My master found it on me once and asked me where I got it. I told him that it was, from a ‘friend’. He told me that any link to my old life before the Order would only be a hindrance, but when he saw my face, he told me to keep it. He said I reminded him of the way his own daughter looked when he told her to give up a stuffed animal that he had given her, long before she was to become an initiate. Even thought she couldn’t take the animal with her, he had snuck it into her room late one night.’

‘Of course her master had found it immediately the next day, but when he found out that she was the daughter of my master, he decided to let her keep it, and he said that her daddy was his first master too, and pulled out a ring that he kept on a chain that was once his mothers.” Darmata looked at the indicator of the lift and noticed that they were nearing the top. “This sucks, we have to go.” She said sadly, as she pulled away from him. She took the helmet and kissed it on the forehead. “ A little blessing from a hot Warlock. Hey, will you be here long?” She asked, as she handed him his helmet.

“Don’t know, it all depends on by how much I wear out my welcome with a few choice people within the City.” The pilot said as he placed the helmet on his head and shouldered his weapon. Darmata gripped his hand tightly.

“There’s more I wasn’t able to reveal, I would like the time to talk to you about it.”

“Well there’s always my safe house here in the City, or my fighter Zephyr’s Shadow?” Darmata shook her head.

“No, your safe house is monitored by the intelligence sections of the Order and the TDC. The Zephyr’s Shadow just… scares me.” She thought for a minuet. “I know of a place. Do you know where the ‘Rabble’s Hole’ is?” The pilot nodded. “I have a friend from my initiate days who didn’t make apprentice. She’s sympathetic to us. Traveler knows that I talked her ear off about you for five years straight.” She placed the palm of his free hand against her face, and breathed in deep. “Traveler! I love your smell!”

“What, the smell of leather, old man and lubricant?” The pilot said as he cocked his head to the side. She kissed his hand three times.

“No, it’s just the smell of… you! I don’t care what is, if it’s of you I love it.” She dropped his hand and looked at him. “Traveler! Why couldn’t the elevator have stayed broken?”

The pilot looked at her, cocking his helmet to the left side to indicate his confusion. “What do you mean the elevator was broken?”

“Nothing, never mind.” She said as the chime rang. A chime in the elevator would ring to announce to the occupants that they had arrived at the ground floor. The doors slowly groaned open, not because of any damage that they had took, but because when they did finally open, it seemed as if it would be flooded with bodies from the outside.

Darmata yelped, and clung to the left side of the pilot, as several people lost their balance and fell into the elevator. Quickly regaining composure, Darmata flipped her cowl over her head and smoothed out her robes.

“Make way! Make way!” A booming voice came from the rear of the throngs of people. Sal-Drega came through the crowd, pushing people away from him. Several initiates and apprentices recognized Sal-Drega and hurriedly parted ways. A short distance behind him, Mon-Krega was keeping the people from crowding in behind. When Sal-Drega reached the elevator he was taken aback by the way it looked inside.

The once pristine, gleaming surface of the elevators’ interior, was blackened and buckled in several places. Darmatas’ robe had several singe marks along the hems. The pilots armor however, showed no such marks and appeared as if untouched. Darmata stepped forward and raised her hands.

“Do not be troubled.” Darmata said in a loud voice. “I assure you that I am in no harm. An investigation will be done to see what has caused this incident. Please let us through.” The crowd began to disperse, and Darmata stepped out into the room. Sal-Drega took her by the hand and led her away from the crowd. When the crowd fully dispersed, the pilot stepped out of the elevator and headed for the doors. As the pilot exited the building, he saw his partner leaning against the railing, facing him.

“I don’t know what happened in there boss.” Elsibeth said; her arms crossed in front of her. “But it sure caused a lot of commotion.” She nodded down the stairs. The pilot looked and saw that there were several vehicles within the courtyard, red and blue lights flashing on their roofs.

Destiny Story: A Work in Progress Part 2

As the “Puma” roared through the tunnel, a brightly lit sign announced that they were now entering the City… last bastion of humanity. This was followed by another sign advertising enlistment into the Titans. The pilot knew the Titan pictured on the advertisement and looked towards Elsibeth.
“When are they going to replace that stupid sign?”

“I don’t know.” Elsibeth said, her voice cracking slightly, head downcast. She turned her head away from the pilot and looked down at the road as it went rushing beneath them. The end of the tunnel opened up before them and the City came into view. It was after noonday in the City, and this portion was cast in shadow as the Traveler sat silently above them. During the day, the Traveler cast a shadow over the City at any given point. At night, it cast a faint glow like moonlight over the entirety of the City. It wasn’t like the reflection of the sun that a normal moon has. The light from the Traveler seemed to come from within, like a reassuring night light. Children often found comfort from monsters by relaxing in the glow of the Traveler. Adults often complained that the light was too bright, and ruined any night vision that they had been trying to develop.

The City sprawled out before them as the pilot maneuvered the vehicle towards its center. What started out as low lying buildings grew to become tall skyscrapers, some taller than the wall itself. On these skyscrapers were rows upon rows of windows, each either reflecting an image of the Traveler, or the Wall. The closer you got to City center, the buildings retained fewer and fewer windows, their sides a smooth facade of dull grey, similar to the Wall itself. That was the major way you could tell which part of the City was built first, because the materials were the same.

As they approached their delivery location, the buildings stopped, and a large courtyard was present, with trees and a grand fountain commemorating the first Titans. The fountain had a statue at its center depicting three figures. The figures were Titans in old patchwork armor, not a single piece matching. The figure at the center was standing with his weapon pointed high in the air. In his other hand, a small globe representing either the Traveler or the planet Earth, depending on your point of view. On the right, was a Titan in female armor facing forward in the kneeling position, with one elbow on her left knee, her weapon drawn, looking down the barrel. On the left was a Titan in teenage armor, standing with his back toward the left hand side of the Titan in the center, his head turned to the right. He carried two weapons, one weapon was a pistol which the Titan held, barrel pointing to his right, arm extended. The other weapon was a sword, raised above the Titans head, ready to strike down an invisible foe. All three Titans carried makeshift shields on their backs, protecting them from enemies that would attack the trio from behind.

A short distance away from the fountain, the beginning construction of another statue could be seen. This one proposed that all three guardians, the Hunter, the Titan, and the Warlock, worked together to protect the City. A painting that was displayed next to the statue had the Titan at the center, weapon at the ready. The Hunter was crouched, with two pistols drawn, ready to strike, the Warlock standing a slight distance away. A glowing ball was in his right hand raised high above his head, and a book in his left, held close to his chest. Proponents of equality had proposed that the Titan to be a Human, the Hunter an Exos, and the Warlock an Awoken. These three figures representing the three races that lived within the City walls. However, no matter which way you looked at it, the painting seemed to be comprised of three humans instead.

The “Puma” approached the largest building in the City, it’s top the closest to the Traveler. This building had a flat roof with cargo elevators ascending into the Travelers’ depths. The building had a fifty step staircase, at the top of it was the entrance to the building, it’s doorway approximately five hundred meters high. At the foot of the staircase was a tall statue, the same hight as the doorway. A Warlock was depicted here, covered in a cloak and cowl. The cloak was drawn back slightly, revealing a pistol in a holster on the left hip. The Warlocks’ left hand was outstretched forward, the appearance of lightning extending from his fingertips. In his right hand a book, opened and held out in front as if the Warlock was reading from it and casting a spell. These three things, “magic” represented by the lightning, “Technology” represented by the pistol, and “Knowledge” represented by the book. All were things that the Warlock was attuned to and represented. These things worked together in balance, to enable the Warlock to accomplish what they needed to do.

The pilot drove the vehicle to the back of the building, where the rest of the artifacts that the Warlocks collected were delivered. Several flat-bed vehicles stood positioned near each dock, ready to be dispatched to various parts of the Earth, collecting artifacts for study. The pilot parked the “Puma” near the lowest loading dock, which was reserved for vehicles that were not as tall as the rest. The pilot and Elsibeth exited the “Puma”, walked towards the back, and lowered the tailgate.

A slight female initiate in dirty coveralls exited the door and approached the vehicle. The initiate had abandoned her birth name long ago. She was of slight build and, like all initiates, had a shaven head. The girl looked to be about fifteen years old, and had probably been an initiate for about five years. Most individuals entered the Warlock order shortly after their tenth birthday. There were children younger than the girl, who were either orphans with high “magical” affinity, or were left at the doorstep of a Warlock monastery by parents who could no longer take care of them. Vary rarely were children conscripted into the Warlock way of life, but it did happen.

“Did you bring more wonders Hunter?” The female initiate asked as she reached the vehicle, her eyes wide with anticipation.

“No Pluck.” The pilot said to the initiate as he started up the anti-grav lift. “Just something for Darmata.”

“Oh.” Said the initiate, whom the pilot had nicknamed “Pluck”, due to her attitude when he dropped off a delivery. “Is it something very special, only for her? Do you need me to call her down for you?”

“I am already here child.” A soft voice from the shadows said. “Please bring the item inside Hunter.”

The cryo-tube was lifted from the truck and floated on the anti-grav lift towards the door. As the four people walked through the door and into the next room, it opened up to reveal an opulent room, with vaulted cathedral like ceilings, and statues of important Warlocks throughout history. Each statue depicted a different Warlock. There was the Warlock who had first entered the Traveler, the Warlock who had first displayed the Travelers’ wonders to the populace. There was even a statue of the first Warlock to ever relieve himself within the Traveler, the pilot had to shake his head at that one, and at this the initiate snickered.

Darmata turned to the initiate at the sound of her snickering. “That will be enough child.” She said with a slight sound of annoyance in her voice. “You may leave us.”

“Yes Mistress.” The initiate said, her eyes downcast in embarrassment. The initiate bowed slightly and left, returning to the shadows.

“Must you always embarrass me Hunter?” Darmata said as they continued to an elevator. “I do not see what is so funny about it.”

“Because darlin’, I just think that it’s rather obscure that with all of the seriousness within the Warlock Order, you would have something that reminds you of that.” The Hunter said. “Besides, there was a time when even you found it funny.”

Darmata bristled at the remark. “That was in the past Hunter, things are… different for me now.” The trio approached an elevator, one that led to only the sub-basements below. When they arrived, Darmata pressed a series of hidden buttons and the elevator doors opened. The inside of the elevator was not much brighter than the room they had just left, but it was bright enough that you could make out more of Darmata’s shape.

Darmata was a statuesque woman, and maintained a desirable figure, even though you could barely tell beneath her cloak. When the elevator closed, she pulled back her cowl to reveal long flowing brown hair which beautifully framed her face. She had high cheek bones and a long face. Her nose came to a sharp point, and if she would ever leave the order, she could easily be mistaken for royalty. In her younger days, she had an almost flawless olive complexion, but living within the dark conclave had caused the skin to slowly loose its color.

Years ago, Darmata had been a precocious teenager with wonderment in her eyes and a sunny disposition. Upon the loss of her master however, Darmata had changed. The pilot had known Darmata when she was younger, as they had grown up together. The pilot, an orphan, was raised within the walls of a Warlock monastery. They would often play together, but when Darmata had been assigned to her master, the play had stopped. The Warlock leadership had discovered that Darmata had a great “magic” affinity, and it was decided that she would be entered into the order on her tenth birthday. The first person that Darmata wanted to tell was her best friend since primary school.

“Hey, they want me to be a Warlock!” An excited Darmata had almost run into him as she bounced up and down on the balls of her feet.

“Wow, that’s soo cool Mata!” Her friend said as he took her hands. “I sure wish I could be one, that way we could go together.”

“I know, but the last time you were tested they said that your “magic” affinity was too low to measure.” Darmata said to him. “But hey, we still have about eight years until you have to leave. We’ll get to visit bunches of time before then.”

“Mata, you remember what happened to all of the others.” He said. “Everyone who becomes an initiate is never seen again.”

“Yes but I will be different.” She said. “I won’t let that happen, and my new master is one of the few in the order who has a family. He knows that you’re the closest thing that I have to family, so I’m sure I’ll get to visit lots.”

“That may be, but I’ll still miss you lots.” He said as he released her hands. “Hey Mata, I have a going away present for you. But you have to close your eyes.”

“Okay.” Mata said, closing her eyes and holding out her hand.

“Don’t open them.” Her friend said as he waved a hand in front of her face to be sure that her eyes were closed. Her friend stepped closer, leaned out, and quickly kissed her on the lips.

Mata stepped back startled and opened her eyes. “What was that? It felt funny.”

“It’s something I saw two adults do at one of the space ports. It happened just before the man stepped on the lift.” He said. “It’s something called a kiss, and it is something two people do when they say goodbye… I think.”

“I liked it.” Mata said. “Can we do it again?” She leaned closer, her eyes closed. But just before their second kiss, a voice from the shadows called out.

“Initiate it is time to go.” A deep voice called out.

“On my way.” Mata replied. “Sorry, I have to go but I’ll see you again real, real soon.” Mata waved goodbye to her friend and trotted towards her new master, her steps a lot lighter than they were a minuet ago. That was the last time the pilot had seen her as a child. Five years later he met her again.

“Hey.” Mata said as she skipped towards her friend. “Notice anything different about me?” As she reached him, she spun around like a ballerina on top of an old music box.

“Your boobs finally started to grow in?” Her friend said as he rose and dusted the dirt off of his coveralls. Her friend had been working in the cloister, making sure the garden was well maintained. He beamed her a large smile.

“Five years and that’s the first thing you notice?” Mata said as she lightly punched him on the shoulder. “I meant my armor!”

“Oh yeah.” Her friend said, looking her up and down as she spun around again. “It looks good, what kind of weapons does it have in it?”

“It doesn’t have any weapons.” Mata said. “I get to carry a pistol at all times and sometimes a rifle, but mostly I just use my “Magics”.”

Her friend looked her up and down again, this time with a little more scrutiny. She wore heavy leather boots and metal spats. The boots stopped mid-calf, with no additional armor above them. She wore heavy cloth trousers and a thick leather belt. The holster was also leather and housed her pistol. The pistol was an antique black-powder semi-automatic. If he remembered correctly it was called the 1911 or something like that. Her tunic was also cloth, but was mostly obscured by her body armor. The body armor was of the female design obviously. The front plate was a single piece of metal, that covered her upper body from her waist to her neck. There was a neck protector, but she let that hang loose off to the side of her neck.

The back plate was also a single piece of metal, but had attachments for a cryogenic re-breather. The tank for the re-breather had an oval shape and sat flush against her armor. Two tubes stretched out from the top of the tank and over her shoulders. The hoses connected to two ports on the sides of her helmet at the cheek. The helmet was a visor-less model, and was just as simple as the rest of her armor. The two halves of her body armor was connected by carbon fiber nano-tube straps that held the two pieces together. There was no armor on her arms, save for a pair of heavy leather gauntlets that came to only her wrists. The gauntlets were fingerless, so that she could generate her “Magics”.

No one knew just how the Warlocks used their “Magics”. It had been theorized that Warlocks were secretly genetically engineered humans, created by the Titans to enable them to interface with the Traveler. This was later debunked by the release of a research paper, describing subtle changes within the human genome which was influenced by the Traveler. Several people left the safety of the Traveler and the Titans because of this revelation. Most of them had set up colonies in the depths of the solar system and were believed to have become the first Hunters. The others were never heard from again, and some believe that they had transformed themselves into the Exos.

His examination over, Mata’s friend stood back. “You look fantastic in it.” He said, nodding his approval.

Mata blushed slightly, and then lowered her head in embarrassment. “Th-thank you.” Mata stuttered. She then shook her head slightly, her short brown hair bouncing from side to side. “I-I have to get back now. Have you given any thought to where you are going to go after you leave? You only have a few short years left here you know.”

“I know.” Her friend said. “I had been thinking about joining the Titans or perhaps the Hunters.”

Mata looked her friend up and down. “I think you’d look good as a Titan. Maybe we could be paired up together on a mission sometime.”

“That’d be cool.” He said, a smile growing on his lips. “After all you would need someone to watch your back since you don’t have eyes in the back of your head.”

Mata punched him again in the shoulder. “Hah! I’ve been trained on how to expand my presence so I know what’s going on in all directions.” She stood there, her head down, fidgeting with her helmet. “So uh, this would be goodbye then.”

“Yes, it would.” Her friend said. “What. Do you want another kiss?” Mata’s face grew a deep shade of red and she nodded. “Well close your eyes.” Her friend leaned closer and placed a hooked finger underneath her chin. Lifting her head up, he turned his head slightly. Her lips trembled as his lips brushed against hers. She placed her arms around him and drew him in closer, their lips pressed firmly together. Mata dropped her helmet and it clattered to the floor. She released him and held him at arms length.

“I felt something else too.” She said with a big grin on her face.

“I-I’m sorry.” Her friend said as his face grew bright red. Now it was his turn to be extremely embarrassed. “I-I have to go.” He turned to leave and walked quickly away. When he reached the entrance to the monastery, she called out to him.

“I love you, you know!” Mata called as he hurried away. She put a hand to her mouth and giggled as her friend stumbled over the stoop of the doorways’ entrance. Mata placed her helmet on her head, reconnected the re-breathers’ hoses, and walked out of the monastery.

The elevator reached the bottom of the shaft and the Warlock Darmata raised her hood. “Come.” She said as the doors parted. “The others are waiting.” The trio walked down a dimly lit hallway, with low light torches on either side. In a different time there would be a series of burning torches lining the hall, their lights flickering as the people would walk past. When they reached the end of the hall, the doors slid back to reveal a brightly lit room. If not for the light filters in their helmets, the two Hunters would have been blinded by it.

Darmata blinked, but this was an subconscious response, her eyes had been replaced with bionics after an “incident” long ago. Most times she just kept her eyes closed, using her “Magics” to determine where she was. However, because she was dealing with him she kept her eyes open. It was always difficult to read her old friend, and it was something that had even boggled the leadership of the Warlock Order from the time he was a child. The room was bright and cool. It was cool partially because of how deep underground it was, and partially because of the cooling system that had been put in place.

Rows upon rows of computer banks lined the room, their lights blinking, some in succession, and some randomized as the trio past their locations. Not too many in the outside world got to see this part of the Warlock Order, but the Hunter and his partner were special cases. Due to his past friendship with Darmata and his fellowship with the Warlock Order, the pilot was allowed to see places where the Warlock Order had kept its many secrets. Within the computer banks were all of the Warlocks’ secrets. Everything they had learned from the Traveler was stored within. At the end of the room stood a guard in full Warlock heavy armor. This armor was similar to the armor worn by the Titans, but had the distinction of being developed and equipped by select members of the Warlock Order. These members were so powerful, and had such skill with their “Magics” that they were a threat to the outside world. These “Heavy Combat” Warlocks often had their “Magics” sealed by cybernetic implants and were “released” when the Warlock Order had need of them.

The guard stood a little straighter as the trio approached. He acknowledged Darmata with a salute which wasn’t returned. “I didn’t think there was a council meeting today ma’am.” The guard said in a thick accent. “What are these two Hunters doing here?” A slight tone of disgust in his voice.

“These Hunters are guests of the council.” Darmata said, her voice stern. “This one will stay with you,” She pointed to Elsibeth. “and this one will accompany me further.” She pointed to the pilot.

“What’s in the cryo-tube ma’am.” The guard said, pointing his weapon at it. “I can’t let unknown items in the chamber.”

“That is none of your-“ She began, but was cut off.

“Oh come on Mata.” The pilot stated. “It’s not like he’s going to tell anybody. He’s stuck down here for the rest of his life remember.” The pilot placed a hand on his hip and cocked his head to one side.

Darmata, visibly frustrated with the candor that the pilot was showing in front of one of her subordinates, sighed with frustration. “Fine, but remember-“ She was cut of again.

“Commere bub,” The pilot beckoned. “this’ll knock your socks off for sure.” The guard moved closer to the cryo-tube and the pilot wiped away some of the frost to reveal what was inside. The guard recoiled in fear, the grip on his weapon tightened.

“You-you can’t bring that in here!” The guard exclaimed. “Those things are killers without a soul!”

“It’s okay bub.” The pilot said, tapping a finger on the cryo-tube. “He’s on ice and dead to the world… or at least I think he is. Its been a long trip and this is an old tube.”

“It is alright.” Darmata said, holding up a hand to steady the guards nerves. “We have taken every precaution and you have been made aware of the nature of the item.”

“Yes, but I never thought it would be one of them.” The guard stood back and resumed his place at the door. “You, and your escort may proceed but I’ll need to confiscate his weapons.” The pilot looked as if he was ready to aggressively protest, but Darmatas’ hand on his forearm stopped him.

“It is okay, I am here.” She said through sub-vocalization. “I know that your guns and the kukri blade are not your only weapons,” The pilot relinquished his weapons to the guard and handed him the kukri blade hilt first as was the proper way.

“You got this Kid?” The pilot asked his partner.

“Just get going.” Elsibeth said, angry that she wasn’t allowed to proceed. “I’ll be here when you get back.” Darmata and the pilot proceeded through the door, the cryo-tube between them. As they entered the doorway it was black, the light seemingly swallowed up by the darkness. Even the pilots low-light filters had a difficult time compensating within the extreme darkness of it all. Within other portions of the building, he could see bright as day, but in this place, he could barely make out the shape of Darmata who was only seven feet in front of him.

As they reached what could only be the center of the room, the lights began to fade in. There were several figures surrounding them, all facing toward them in a small circle. The pilots bravado waned a short while. He had grow up hearing stories about the Council of Elders, but he never really believed it until he had met them years ago after a certain “incident”. The individuals within the room pulled back their hoods, revealing their faces to him. When he had met them before, they kept their hoods up, as a means of displaying anonymity. This time however, they pulled their hoods back, both as a sign of respect for their leader, and as a means of acceptance to the man who had done what no other in the history of the Warlock Order had ever done.

There were twelve within the Council of Elders, four of each race that occupied the City. There was always twelve, and when one died, another was chosen. The method of choosing a successor to the council was something that was a mystery to most, but many within the Warlock Order say that it is not by democracy that the person is chosen, but by the Traveler. In addition to the even number from each race, there was also an even number of males and females. The leader of the council was decided by a democratic vote however, and Darmata had won by a “landslide”.

The council members raised their hands and spoke in unison. “Knowledge is truth, through truth we gain enlightenment. Technology is a gift, through gifts we gain humility. “Magic” is grace, through grace we gain acceptance.” This was the mantra of the Warlock Order, and everyone who was within the order received instruction in this mantra from the day they entered. Even the orphans who were raised in the monasteries knew the mantra. They were expected to say it upon awaking each day, prior to each meal, and before bed each night.

The pilot had begun to hate saying the mantra after he discovered that he wouldn’t become a Warlock, but he murmured this mantra out of an old habit. One of the council members noticed this and stepped forward. “How do you know of our mantra outsider?” The member asked, she was a young Awoken female and had obviously not been briefed on just who would be accompanying Darmata to the council chambers.

One of the older council members, an Exo spoke up, his electronically enhanced voice echoing in the room. “This hunter is a friend to the council, and has worked with us many times in the past. He is the one who has done that which we cannot. He is also a personal friend of Elder Darmata, a rarity in times such as this.” The pilot raised his hands up, palms outward.

“Hey I’m just a normal guy.” He said modestly. “There’s no need to make a fuss out of me.” The other members of the council nodded silently.

“Oh I would not say that.” A voice said from the top of the circle in front of them. “We all heard about it from Elder Darmata.” The figure moved from the shadows towards the pilot. The figures’ name was Sal-Drega, a human from the outside colonies whose parents had been visited by a Warlock when he was young and had been talked into letting their son join the Order. He was an imposing figure, standing six-five and well muscled. If you met him on the street, you may have thought that he was a member of the Titans.

Sal-Dregas’ shoulder length red hair was slicked back, his pale sharp features practically glowing ethereally in the low light. His sharp, piercing grey eyes, looked the pilot over with obvious disdain. “We know of your greatness sir Hunter.” He said, faux reverence emanating from his voice. “How you had done a great thing, but upon being asked to repeat what you have done you refused and stormed out.” Now standing next to Darmata, he slipped a hand around her waist. “Why even Elder Darmata here often speaks of you in private chambers.”

For some reason the pilot did not like the idea of this scum-bag touching his childhood friend, and liked it even less that he knew about what she did in private. “Well if there is nothing else I’ll be going.” The pilot said as he turned to leave.

A small young male Exo stepped forward. “How dare turn your back to Elder Sal-Drega without permission you common Hunter.” He said angrily. “He is a member of this council and he is betrothed to-“ but before he could finish the sentence he was cut off, a knife at his throat.

“Look kid.” The pilot said as he withdrew the blade “I’ve done things that would make the milk curdle in your Cheerio’s. I don’t need snot-nosed young punks like you giving me any lip. This could have gone real easy if you had just kept your mouth shut. I bow to no man. That’s part of the reason why I’m even allowed in here.”

“That is alright sir Hunter.” Sal-Drega said, placing a hand on the pilots shoulder. “Elder Mon-Krega is young and looks up to the rest of us. He takes offense when he feels that we are not being treated with proper reverence.” Sal-Drega steered the pilot back the way he and Darmata had come in. When they had left the circle and were in shadow, Sal-Drega dug the fingers of his hand deeper into the pilots shoulder. “Remember Hunter, at a word, I can have everything you love cut down and ground to dust.” Sal-Drega dug harder into the pilots shoulder as he hissed. “With my power I could make you writhe in pain and pray to the Traveler that you had been left as a stain on your fathers’ sheets.”

The pilot shook off Sal-Dregas’ hand easily as he moved through the doorway. When he returned to the guard he angrily took back his weapons.

“That’s an awesome knife you carry.” The guard said as he handed back the knife in the same way that he had received it. “Your partner said that he’d be waiting up top. Nice guy.”

“Thank you.” The pilot said as he sheathed the knife. “You take care. Oh, and what’s your name?”

“I don’t have one.” The guard said. “It hurts too much to try and remember, so I stopped.”

“Hmm, shame to hear that. I guess ‘Magic’ ability isn’t all that the Warlocks try to repress with those implants.” The pilot said as he turned to leave. “See you around ‘no name’.” With that, the pilot began walking toward the elevator.

Within the council chambers, the other members had left through entrances only they themselves knew of. The only two who remained were Sal-Drega and the Exo, Mon-Krega. Mon-Krega was still rubbing his neck where the knife had been only moments before. “How did he move so fast?” Mon-Krega asked, dumbfounded. “And what in the name of the Traveler are Cheerio’s?”

“The Traveler has many mysteries young one.” Sal-Drega said as he approached the cryo-tube. “Needless to say that man is not to be taken lightly.” He placed a hand upon the tube and stroked it gently. “Soon however, many mysteries will open up before us. With this gift we will learn more about the Traveler than we currently know.”

“But how will we deal with what we know about Elder Darmata and that man?” The Exo asked, standing next to Sal-Drega.

“In time, young one.” Sal-Drega said as he removed his hand from the tube and placed it on the young Elders’ shoulder. “Come, we have much to prepare for.”

As they walked to their doorway, the Exo spoke softly. “Yes, my Master.”