Gabriel sat on top of the bridge looking down into the water. The thought of jumping occurred to him, but he found himself lacking the courage to do it. The fall might not be enough to kill him, but the weight of his new metal body would surely be enough to sink him to the bottom where he’d likely stay until the next apocalypse. Besides, if he didn’t jump he’d have nowhere to go but back to the facility he just ran off from.
This was a disaster. Worse than a disaster. More than half of his original body was just gone. He had never been much of a ladies man, but he did alright. Now he couldn’t be with a woman even if he wanted to. They had taken that away from him as well as his purpose. Gabriel turned his black and blue eyes towards the water and tried to find the courage to jump.
“It’s a lovely night for the view,” a voice said behind him. Gabriel turned slowly to see a man standing there with thick black hair and a beard to match.
“Who are you?” Gabriel asked.
“I am called Archer Post,” the man said. “I heard the commotion you made leaving and I followed you out here.”
“You didn’t have to,” Gabriel said. “I’ll head back soon.”
“Are you sure?” Post asked. “It seems to me like you wanted to jump off into oblivion.”
“I’m sure if I tried to jump you’d stop me,” Gabriel said.
“No,” Post said. “Your life is yours. If I had the chance I would save it I would, but your choosing to end it is your choice. I only hope you’d reconsider and stay amongst the living.”
Gabriel was taken aback by Post’s reply. Here was a man he had never met, but he was prepared to save Gabriel’s life if need be, but let him end it if he chose to end it himself.
“Why do you care?” Gabriel finally asked.
“I was once like you,” Post said sitting down next to Gabriel. “I was thrust into a destiny I didn’t understand and didn’t want. I would have chose a simpler life with my family, but when it came down to it I was chosen by a greater power for something more. Over time I came to understand my purpose and accept it. I believe you were meant to die in your accident, but you too are meant for more.”
“Meant for what?” Gabriel asked. “To be used as a weapon. To have my body turned into this machine just because some nut job doctor found my mutilated corpse by the side of the road?”
“I don’t think of you as a weapon. What makes a man lies in here,” Post said tapping on Gabriel’s chest where his heart was under layers of armor and electronics. “What you chose to do is still your choice. They can’t turn a man into a weapon or take away his soul no matter how hard they try. What you do with your life is still in your hands.”
“So this is my destiny? This is my purpose in life?” Gabriel asked looking into Post’s face.
“No,” Post said. “Your destiny and purpose will be waiting for you when you’re ready.”
Max Klennon walked into the coffee shop on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. At least it appeared to be Max Klennon. If anyone were to get a view of what was behind his dark glasses they would have seen the dark eyes of the demon Nilas Nil.
Max took the seat across from a tall blonde woman in a red blouse and jeans. He observed the woman briefly before speaking to her. “I really hate when you take the form of these flesh piles,” he said.
“I only take these forms when I have to, my love,” Kasayda Kiz said. “The form you’ve taken lately isn’t much better.”
“It’s not, but he has his uses,” Nilas said.
Kasayda reached across the table and put her hand on top of Max’s. It disgusted her to touch the human with her disguised hand, but she was sure Nilas appreciated the gesture. “It has been a long time since we were together,” she said. “How is your training with the human Deskue?”
“Tiring,” Nilas said. “But necessary. I’ve already let Killian slip out of my grasp once because my mind was too open.”
“You met Killian,” Kasayda said letting her tea cup fall with a clank. “Why did you engage him so early with your mind untrained? You could’ve been killed!”
“There are worse things than death for a demon,” Nilas said. “And I didn’t plan the attack. It seems Killian has business with Deskue as well and we ended up in his building at the same time.”
“What happened?” Kasayda said taking mental notes to return to her master Jano Xing.
“Not much,” Nilas said. “He interrupted my meeting with Deskue, I nearly killed him, and he used a mind trick to sneak away. He’s gravely injured, but it’s nothing a demon can’t recover from in time. I’m sure once he’s recovered he’ll go after Deskue again. I’ll have to be near until my training is complete.”
“What happens next?” Kasayda asked.
Nilas was silent and his facial expression remained still a well. Kasayda knew what this meant. She had asked one question too many and Nilas was trying to purge the thoughts from his head. You can’t be too careful dealing with a psychic as powerful as Deskue or Killian respectfully. Kasayda waited patiently for Nilas to speak again.
“I must go,” he finally said.
“Alright,” Kasayda said. “I must report to Xing. It was good to see you again, my love. Even if it were in these disgusting forms.”
“Yes,” Nilas agreed. “Once the city is ours we shall be together, and nobody would be able to keep us apart. We shall make love in the flames of this burning world.”
Kasayda blushed as Max Klennon’s body got up and quickly exited the little coffee shop. She watched as the short, fat man walked passed the window parallel to the street. She noted in her mind the man in the black coat and hat taking pictures.
“Stay lively, people!” Rock Judge shouted at the group of recruits training the the Wolf’s gymnasium. He had them running in place to keep up their endurance. “You must be faster than your opponents. If you find yourself without a car or bike you’ll have to rely on your own two legs. Slow down and die!”
Rock was very impressed with this latest class of police trainees to chose to become a Wolf. Ever since he took charge of the fringe group of police officers it had flourished. Under Rock’s leadership what was seen as a ragtag group of trigger happy rejects was molded into a martial force unlike any New Millennium had ever seen.
Rock wondered if his father would finally be proud if he saw this force he had gathered. Shortly after his father and uncle were found dead he had given up on the teachings of The Post, but never the principles. When Rock came into this organization he promised to himself and his father’s memory that he would change The Wolves from the inside.
It took him just shy of a decade to be promoted to Captain status and run The Wolves his way. Some of the men had rallied against him at first. Especially when he started weeding out the lazier members and demoting them to janitors or putting them on permanent laundry duty. Once the regime had changed many men washed out, but when it was all said and done Rock Judge was in charge of the greatest group of police the city of New Millennium had ever seen. His cousin Jonah was so pleased with its improvement he doubled their budget and Rock was able to assemble a small army and equip his Wolves with the best weaponry and vehicles. It was just earlier that day he was told from his contact at the DPA of a man wearing some kind of robotic suit that would be joining The Wolves as well.
All for The Post, Rock thought ironically. In separating himself from his father’s vision he had greatly aided it. A smile crept across his stubbled face as he thought of his cousin Jonah exemplifying their father’s dreams as he aided him with his rebellion. Leave it to Jonah, he thought as his recruits switched from running in place to push ups.
The phone at his hip rang and he picked it up Immediately. “Judge,” he said.
“Jonah is here to see you,” the voice of his partner Mona said.
“I’ll be right down,” Rock said smiling as if the image of Jonah in his mind had summoned his cousin. He made his way down the elevator and to the lobby of the New Millennium Wolves headquarters. His cousin Jonah was waiting for him reading the plaques on the wall awarded to fallen members of the NMW even though he had read them a hundred times before. “Jonah!” he said. “What brings you here today?”
“Can we talk in private?” Jonah asked.
“Yeah. Sure,” Rock said taken aback. He rarely saw Jonah this serious. “Is everything alright?”
“Everything is fine,” Jonah said entering Rock’s small office. It was full of awards and decommissioned guns and other weapons that he kept as trophies. “It’s about The Post.”
“The Post?” Rock said sitting down in the seat across from Jonah. “I know I technically work for them, but you know I turned my back…”
“You don’t understand,” Jonah interrupted. “It’s beginning.”
Rock eyed his cousin nervously and for the first time notice he had a long gym bag strapped to his back. Rock remembered these from the days he trained in swordplay with his family and other members of The Post.
“Start from the beginning,” Rock said. “Tell me everything.”
Killian woke up in what looked like a hospital room, but the quiet told him that wasn’t where he was. He closed his eyes and extended his psychic senses, but did not register any trace of thought. Whoever had brought him here had left him alone. He remembered vaguely regaining enough strength between the huge dead heaters to drag himself out of the sewers and begin his search for one of the men he was meant to infiltrate and eventually kill. Jonah Judge.
Once Killian made his way up to the third floor of Jonah’s estate he reached out with his senses and made an astounding discovery. The sword of white fire had been recovered and discovered a new master. Without the strength to run away and go back into hiding Killian broke into his home through the window and collapsed on the floor. As his mind fell back into fevered darkness he sensed Jonah approaching him and felt the sword lust to turn him to ash. In Killian’s current condition it would make easy work for Jonah to rid the world of one more demon. As the darkness won its battle over Killian’s mind he hoped Jonah would do it. It would’ve been much easier than being saved.
But then things are never easy for a demon that betrays Hell.
Killian traced his hand up his arm to where a bag of saline was attached to one of his veins. The slow drip of the liquid would keep him from dehydrating and he would have better control over his healing powers. His hand continued down to his wrist where it seem Jonah had handcuffed him to a metal bar in the wall.
“Smart,” Killian said aloud.
He looked across the room and saw his things set neatly on a small table. His black cloak was folded and his hooked sword lay on top. Killian put the hand that wasn’t handcuffed on his sore abdomen and once again used his power to heal his internal injuries. Invisible force swirled the air as if it were hot to the touch. Killian felt something he had only felt once before in his life while drinking dirty water and eating maggoty meat in the sewers of New Millennium. Gratitude.
Jonah and his cousin Rock rode in silence in Jonah’s limo to the DPA building that was a short distance across town. Jonah thought it might take a great deal of convincing to get Rock to join him in meeting Archer Post, but he came along eagerly after Jonah told him the story of how they had found him frozen in a chamber and had given him the sword. Jonah left out the part of the injured demon that had come into his apartment who was currently cuffed and recovering in the sick bed he had built adjacent to his home dojo. He had built it for the occasion of intense training gone awry, but had never gotten any use until he found the unconscious black demon by his open window.
Jonah put the demon out of his mind for the moment. He planned on telling Post about him eventually and how he felt he posed no threat. He had come to him inured after all. He was clearly desperate for help and Jonah was resolute to help him. He hadn’t dedicated his life to saving others to let him suffer and die. The urge to put the sword through the demon’s heart did cross his mind, but he put it away and sheathed his sword. It might prove to be a stupid move that would cost him his life, but he took the chance anyway. The demon stayed asleep while Jonah hooked the saline drip with some pain killers to the demon’s arm and handcuffed him to the rail.
The car was driven into the back garage and they were greeted by Willow Bowman when they got out of the car.
“Rock,” Willow said giving him a hug. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen you around.”
Rock returned the hug. “You know,” he said. “Work and shit. I’ve actually been meaning to come by and see what you’ve been coming up with.”
“You mean our robotic man?” Willow said.
“Among other things,” Rock said. “I’d really like to see what he’s capable of.”
“It may take a while,” Willow said. “It seems Mr. Cogs is having an issue accepting what has happened to him.”
“Give him time,” Jonah said. “It’s not every day your wake up with most of your body gone and you’re a living weapon.”
“Not this again,” Willow said rolling her eyes and walking down the hall with the two men following behind. “We didn’t turn him into a living weapon. The robotic suit, when enhanced with armor, can be quite effective if used in combat situations. We are hoping Mr. Cogs will be an asset to the DPA and the Wolves.”
“Only if he wishes to be,” Rock said. Jonah and Willow stopped talking. It was the final word on the topic and they both knew it.
Willow led the two men through the halls of the DPA to one of their small training gyms similar to the gym Jonah had at home. Archer Post was inside swinging a heavy practice sword around like it was a feather wearing a tank top and shorts with the DPA logo on them. Jonah once again found himself impressed with the man he waited his lifetime to meet.
“Hello, Jonah,” Archer called laying his dulled practice sword on his shoulder. “And hello Willow,” he added with a spreading smile on his thick bearded face.
Willow struggled to hide a blush. “Hello, Archer,” she said. “This is Rock Judge. Head of the NMW and member of the The Post.”
“Former member,” Rock said shaking Archer’s outstretched hand. “I turned away years ago. No offense, but it wasn’t for me.”
“I believe your destiny intertwines with that of The Post,” Post said seriously. “You don’t have to be part of The Post to do good with your life.”
Rock said nothing while looking into the face of Post. Jonah wondered what his cousin was thinking at that moment. Perhaps the words reflected what was in his heart.
“Are you ready?” Post asked turning to Jonah.
“Yes.” Jonah answered.
“Good,” said Post. “You are trained in the usage of your chakras and fighting. I shall teach you how to unlock the power of the sword and add it to your own. Draw the sword.”
Jonah drew his sword and held it out in front of him as he did the night before when he was by himself. Willow and Rock backed up to observe. He waited for his instructor to instruct him. Post stared at him intently.
“Your sword lusts for demon blood,” Post said. “Tell me what happened after you left here last night.”