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Chapter 6

The ex-hero, ex-Onami Strike Force member navigated the dizzying twists and turns of the underground passages growing frustrated. He was lost and fuming at the inaccurate ancient map. His Rogue Isle Protector contact had never steered him wrong in the past and even though they were on different sides of the law, he sometimes felt they had common goals. Maybe Brian was more like the Protector then he thought, a cold-blooded killer that had merely fooled everyone surrounding him into thinking he could be a hero, including himself.

He reached under his black trench coat to the inner right breast pocket grasping the metal flask waiting there. He popped the cap and took a small swig. Wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his multi-million dollar uniform fresh from Icon, he leaned against the nearest outcropping his night vision monocle over his right eye pulling back the darkness of the cave. The monocle also had displayed the GPS position, and had a directional north arrow indicator, but since GPS signals did not penetrate the earth well, Brian was lost. Even the north indicator had a habit of locating pockets of lodestone. After walking in a circle for another thirty minutes, he pulled out the map again only to hurl it to the stone floor with so many obscenities.

Cursing Norman’s name, Brian took off his black duster hat and mopped his brow with a handkerchief. The hat was fitted with a headband he himself had made. It was enchanted with the spells allowing him immediate empathic access to people’s minds so he could mesmerize, dominate, confuse, or just plain hypnotize them with a simple thought. The cape covering his trench coat was the Cloak of Crowely. It was midnight black and allowed him to blend in with his surroundings at a moments notice. The breastplate he wore underneath was the finest body armor the military possessed and matched the dark color scheme.

His belt held eight cylindrical canisters the size of large cigars containing a weaponized form of nectar he acquired through Pocket D, from DJ Zero. That alone was the single most expensive acquisition. The nectar was purportedly distilled ambrosia from the gods which when sprinkled upon a person turned them into your best life-long friend for a time. He paid some shadowy contact from the Tsoo to weaponize it into an aerosol spray. Tapping a very secretive contact from the remnants of the Fifth Column, he paid for the design and creation of the pressurized canisters to deliver it.

With a thought Brian activated his black leather boots causing a yellow and a pinkish light to coalesce from the cave floor. The illumination wrapped around his legs imbuing him his signature super speed. The boots also were another creation of his allowing him to use fewer verbal spells when in the heat of combat. They also allowed him to jump up to fifteen feet in height and scale almost sheer inclines. Actually, the footwear contained Crowley’s Bracers and Joule’s Grieves sewn into the shins.

Brian focused his mind, causing dark lavender tendrils to rise out from his cloak and grow around his form. The stealth spell melted his form into the shadows and dampened the radiance of his traveling powers.

The ex-hero tightened his fingerless gloves, which were the second most expensive item he wore. They were modified Joule’s Gauntlets, imbuing him with a hastened demeanor, which he bought from a museum at considerable cost. Adding a telekinesis enchantment the eldritch power of the gloves allowed him the ability to rapidly and forcibly remove anything standing in his way.

The sole purpose of this final uniform was to free his mind and energy for the strongest modified telekinetic spell he could research. He spent the last three months memorizing every verbal inflection. He tested the results in Boomtown days earlier verifying he could achieve the goal of destruction. He brought down one of the remaining severely damaged buildings left standing from the Rikti War. The building was completely obliterated reducing it to a large pile of rubble and twisted steel.

Brian raced around the underground caverns for another half an hour at blinding speeds. He randomly chose passageways hoping sheer luck would deliver him to his location. After hours of crisscrossing paths, he finally stopped and collapsed to the ground giving in to despair. Unable to do anything right, Aaron’s and Aura’s memories assaulted him cursing his name.

Brian sobbed.

The option of returning to Paragon City crossed his mind, but he could not, even in failure. He could blame the Protector, but the truth was everything bad that happened around him he had caused himself. His actions killed Aura and Aaron. The flask in his trench coat again offered and supplied a way out. He smacked his lips, capped the metal flask, and stared at it in the low light amplified by his monocle. His parents would be disappointed in him for he was not the man they tried to raise him to be. Missing them greatly tears streamed down his face hidden by the mask he wore to hide is identity. If he failed to find Oranbega then he would disappear in the depths underneath Paragon City.

A slight murmur arose in the distance echoing chants throughout the tunnel. Brian paused and stopped breathing to listen and ensure his mind was not playing trick on him. He gradually got to his feet and made his way down the passage. Eventually, he turned his monocle off, dim lights in the distance now illuminated and bounced down the widening tunnel. He recognized the chanting, for it was all too familiar. Believing he neared Oranbega, he enacted the stealth his cloak offered.

Little by little, he crept closer to the source; almost sure it was a summoning ceremony of some sort. He could make out one voice in particular; his eyes winced because the throated growl hurt his ears and scarred his soul. The voice was deep and spoke in a strange tongue so raspy the bass of the sound reverberated off the walls. He crept ever closer and fear shivered its way down his spine almost freezing him in his tracks. He could not stop now; he must put two dead souls to rest. If anything to silence their wail of vengeance demanded of all murdered victim’s spirits.

He passed boxes, crates, and cargo containers, as the passage grew ever wider. They had been marked in various languages from all over the globe. Closer still, he dared to approach finding the large massive chamber from which the chanting had been originating. He stood for a moment overcome by its size. The floor had been carved flat and inscribed with ancient symbols. A couple hundred Circle members prostrated themselves purposefully around the etchings and markings. To Brian it appeared to be a huge pentagram inscribed in the floor. In the center about fifty yards away, stood a large figure with purplish green iridescent skin and bald reptilian head. It spoke into a large emerald fire center consuming the middles of the chamber. With violet faceted eyes, the alien-like creature appeared to be creating a summoning portal. Large pointed teeth glistened every time the monster opened its mouth. The sight of the humanoid froze Brian in his tracks. He felt like he should look away because he was not worthy to view the horrible creature.

Transfixed, Brian watched the events before him unfold. So enthralled he was he barely managed to notice and avoid some latecomers to the ceremony. They were dressed similarly to the Circle of Thorns, but the truth was they were not, well not completely. They dressed in the colorful green, blue, red, or black colors one expected of the cult members, but all wore a black triangle patch down the front of their robes. When the eerie light reflected off their clothes just right, a black crescent moon appeared to be sewn into the patch.

A large metallic hand reached out from behind Brian jerking him into a darkened alcove. The metal hand clamped his mouth shut and he froze again in terror staring at two yellow eyes. Not sickly yellow, more like... the blazing sun, an eternal determination fueling never-ending flames. The mouth sneered and curled revealing small fangs. Brian tried to talk, but could only mumble. The captor held him against the wall his feet dangling above the cave floor so he could not run.

“Please accept my humble apologies for startling you stranger. I know you do not belong amongst these… Nightcasters.” The voice was soft, almost soothing to Brian’s ears. He immediately recognized his assailant.

“Occam?” he whispered afraid his voice might interrupt the ceremony. "Occam’s Razar?”

 The drake let his startled sightseer go confident he would not scream and bowed a salutation. “It is I, but I am not blest with the pleasure of your name Oh’ Lost One.”

Brian knew of the drake well, he had been present when the hero known as Occam’s Razar fled Crey with the help of Hero Corps. He got many great shots for the paper that day. None of them made it to print though. They ended up going into his rather large Crey Industries file. A few innocent bystanders had been injured during his escape. It was the day his eyes were truly awakened to the true dealings of the corporation.

The ex-hero pulled his black facemask down, “It’s me Brian… Brian Sutter.”

Razar brought his right robotic arm up to his chin and looked into the face of the human. He did recognize the hero, but he also saw pain and despair etched into his face. “News Flash, Onami Strike Force.”

“Uh…” Brian said repelling from the revulsion he felt at those names now. “Sure.”

Razar noticed felt the emotion in the response and became vexed. “Nonetheless News Flash-“

“Brian,” the ex-hero demanded. “My name is Brian.”

“Okay, Brian.” The viral poison in the response was not lost upon the half-human. “The Dark Lord is summoning an Envoy and you cannot be present.”

The term Envoy caused Brian to instantly panic. The drake could see fear and terror dance behind his eyes triggering the memory of PhoenixHawk dying to the Envoy. They were among the worst creatures imaginable.

“Are you well?” Occam’s Razar asked.

“Fine.” He whispered all the life draining from his voice. He slowly crept over to the entrance of the large alcove and peered out. “Doesn’t there have to be some sort of cosmic alignment for a ceremony like this to happen?”

Occam walked silently to the frightened man. “Yes, but the Dark Lord is a god. God’s do not necessarily follow the rules.”

“We… someone must stop him.” Brian stammered.

“Yes,” Occam nodded. “There will be a point in the ceremony, right before the actual summoning that I will strike. The Dark Lord will fail tonight.”

Brian turned from the ceremony and looked up into the blazing suns staring back at him. “You’ll die. I am sure even a lone drake cannot stop a god.”

Occam’ Razar turned his sight back to the ceremony. “No, probably not. From my time it was not unheard of for a single drake to stop such a powerful being. Usually that responsibility fell to the dragons. Usually they were the ones that did the one-on-one fighting, but the Dark Lord is cursed.”

“How so?”

“It has recently been revealed to me the Dark Lord cheated Oblivion by sacrificing a part of his divine spark. He may still be a god, but not like he was previously… more like a demigod now. Therein lays the true irony of his sacrifice.”

Brian shrugged unable to grasp the half-dragon's innuendo.

“The Dark Lord hates the human race. He despises them with every essence of his body. He will regain his status if he can gain followers to worship him. The process will no doubt will take thousands of years, but there are no dinosaurs around this time so he must use humans. And use them he will.”

“Why sacrifice yourself? Who will succeed if you fail?”

“I do it because I must. I have sworn an oath to the dragons to protect humankind at all costs. If I fall, undoubtedly one of your kind will take my place. Maybe even you.”

Those words echoed and tore through Brian exposing his betrayals once again. Instinctively reaching for his flask, he took another nip. He was sure if Occam’s Razar were to fall, it would be by the hands of Brian Sutter. He would kill the last drake, forever removing the species from Earth.

“Brian Sutter, you must now lea…”

Occam and Brian both sensed the intrusion into their minds. The words to a lullaby rang reassuringly in their heads.

TO CHAPTER 7 >






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