Title: Fury’s Revenge
Nathan had examined the young man and did as much as he could for the injuries the man had received from the desert’s wraith.
He had informed the others that he was basically sunburned, dehydrated and malnourished. He did not know how long he had been in the desert, but it must have been more than a couple of days.
Once they had JD fed, re-hydrated and all his injuries taken care of, Chris decided it was time to hear the boy’s story.
JD sat in front of the five men, appraising them. They were so diverse and so unique in their own rights.
It seemed to him that the one named Chris was the leader, although Nathan kept calling him Connell and it sometimes was confusing.
JD had also found out that Christopher Connell Larabee was the Lord Marshall’s son and heir to the throne of the Necromonger city. He did not seem to be like all the stories he had heard about the man, but then again he had only known him for a few hours.
They had explained that they were on their way to New Mecca where they had some business there. Although JD looked young, he was not stupid. He could tell there was something ominous about this business that they had in New Mecca, but he could sense it was not up for discussion.
JD explained to them how he was on his way to New Mecca with a caravan that he had paid to ride with. He was escaping the Vicar who had attacked his village. They were trying to create converts and when his people refused they killed them all.
All that is except his mother and himself who had escaped. He and his mother had made it to Jaron City and there his mother had died of Sand Fever. Her last request was for him to journey to New Mecca to start a new life without her.
At first, JD had refused. He did not want to believe that his mother was dying. But once she had finally succumbed to the fever, he had no one and decided to seek his fortune in the great city.
The caravan’s last stop was to be New Mecca and after dropping off most of the passengers, he, three men and pilot were heading through the desert to his final destination.
It was about three days into their trek that they were attack. It had come without warning and during the daylight hours. Sandmen had popped up out of the sand to surround the caravan and they were armed. They blew away the metal ship piece by piece with lasers that they should not have had.
In the end, JD and the pilot were the only ones left and the pilot had pushed JD out of a hatch under the ship, which dropped him into the desert and told him to run as fast as he could away from his position. While he, the pilot diverted all the Sandmen attention to himself and the ship, JD had done exactly what the pilot had requested. He ran as fast as he could.
The pilot had died that day saving his life. As JD ran further into the desert away from his attackers, he heard a loud explosion and knew that the pilot had blown up the ship’s generators, sacrificing himself to protect his only surviving passenger. JD felt ashamed at running away and leaving the man behind. He should of stayed and fought by the man’s side. He told this to the five men listening to his story, his pain clearly evident to one of them.
“Yeah, and you probably would now be a meal for the Sandmen,” retorted Chris. “Listen, son, you did the right thing. Don’t make his sacrifice in vain by wallowing in guilt.”
“What the hell do you know?” yelled JD. He was hurting from the guilt of his actions and this man had seemed to see right through to his soul.
Chris just looked at him, shaking his head. JD watched as Chris got up and walked back to the co-pilot seat of the ship.
Josiah had watched the exchange and knew that Chris had hit it on the head about the boy wallowing in guilt. He knew that this was one of the abilities of Chris’ heritage. The Ether Elemental side of him could see into the young man’s soul and what would otherwise be hidden to someone else was a window to Chris. He had to talk to the man immediately. It was evident now that he was showing signs of growing into his power.
JD astonished by the silence of the man looked to the others for an explanation. He could not understand how the man could know what he was feeling when he had not even admitted to himself.
“Listen, little brother. Chris is right. That pilot knew it was a no win situation. He probably figured you being the youngest of them would have a better chance of survival and if you did survive you would at least let his people know what happened to him and your travel companions. Not letting them die in obscurity. Let it go. There is already too much guilt in the universe,” said Josiah.
JD did not know how to answer. Instead, he sat back in the chair and closed his eyes, physically and emotionally exhausted.
Knowing that the conversation was at an end, Vin and the others went back to the own seats to continue their journey. They hoped that the young man had understood what Chris and Josiah were saying, although they were also amazed at how Chris knew what was in the young man’s soul.
As Vin took his seat in the pilot chair again, he looked over at Chris and found the man’s eyes closed. He looked to be sleeping, but Vin knew better. The man had rarely slept since the day he had met him, and from what Ezra told him and Josiah, it was no different since his stay in Kovar. The man was definitely a puzzle. But Vin knew sooner or later he would figure it out.
They arrived in New Mecca two days later with little complication except for a broken drive belt. It was fixed with some finagling by Ezra and some merchant nomads, but that was a day ago. Now they were in the city of New Mecca and it seemed their journey was at an end.
As they walked through the streets, they found merchants and vendors of all race, color and religion, trying to sell their wares to visitors of the fair city.
It was nothing like Chris remembered it, but of course, he had not been in the city for over ten years. The city seemed to be thriving and commerce was exploding, far from the way it was when Chris had left. He knew it was due to his mother’s rule that the people prosper so.
His mother. Chris walked through the streets as memory after memory invaded his mind. He remembered how his mother would take him into the city while she did her usual tour of the people. She would personally make sure that the hungry were fed and the homeless had a place to stay.
And while she played benevolent ruler, her ruling council seethe with anger and disgust at her audacity. They conspired to unseat her from her throne. But it had backfired. And in retaliation for losing to her, they turned to the son. Who better to be their scapegoat but the heir to the throne? In secret, they planned and plotted and when they finally put it into action, Chris found himself shackled, accused and tried and sentenced to spend the rest of his life on one of the worst prison planets in the universe, Crematoria.
But they had not counted on him escaping, ever. They had not counted on him surviving and now he returned under cloak and disguise, requested to save the same people who had condemned him. Life was ironic and his life was the biggest joke there ever was as far as Chris was concerned.
He pulled his cloak tighter to his body, his eyes concealed by his dark glasses and tried to look inconspicuous among the bustling populace.
This had not gone unnoticed by Josiah and Vin. They knew how uncomfortable the man felt in this city. It was the last place they knew Chris had ever wanted to be.
As they went by the houses and the buildings, JD noticed that the streets had taken a pattern. It seemed to him that the streets were getting narrower and narrower. It occurred to him that they were going deeper and deeper into the city.
He had never been to New Mecca. His mother had spoken about it often before she died and he always wanted to see the great city. He was told it was where a person could make their fortune and he believed it, seeing what he saw now.
Nathan was amazed at the amount of people they were coming and going in the city. Kovar was just a pimple compared to New Mecca and Nathan knew he was just a small town healer as he walked through the maze-like city, taking in the sights and sounds.
Ezra walked quickly with his companions, noticing all the different establishments selling entertainment to all types of individuals. Ezra, himself had not been to the city since he had accompanied his mother in her dealings with such establishments. He wondered if they would remember his mother and if there might be something to be gleamed from this adventure.
They had just passed the last building when the area started to open up again. They found themselves in a large square and in the center of it was what was known as Necropolis, the flying city of the Necromongers and the home of the Lord Marshal, herself.
Ezra, JD and Nathan stared in awe at the immensity of it. There was at least 200 golden stairs on the platform that led up into the city. The city itself looked to be at least 500 feet high and at the top was the four-faced idol of the worshipped God of the Underverse, his grim face staring down at them.
Chris glared with anger and hatred at the sight of the city and at the sight of its emblem. It was the bane of his existence for over the past ten years and now he was returning to it like a dog to its master. It made him ill and although he could feel no cold, his soul was slowly turning into a block of ice.
Vin could sense the turmoil that was coming from Larabee. Whatever happened here had a bad affect on the man. Vin hoped one day to find out what that was.
In the meantime, he would just guard the troubled man’s back. He did not know why this man invoked such loyalty from him. It was as if these feelings were always there.
He wondered if it was some part of his Ether Elemental ability, to be able to invoke loyalty from complete strangers. But for some reason, Vin did not think so. He thought it was more and figured in time he would find out.
“Welcome to Necropolis, brothers. The city and home of the Lord Marshal, Ailya Riddick Larabee,” said Josiah opening his arms wide towards the doorway into the city.
At the mention of his mother’s name, Chris winced in annoyance. “Stop the theatrics, priest and let’s get on with it,” retorted Chris motioning Josiah to lead on.
Josiah noticed that Chris had resorted back to referring to him as “priest” and knew it was not a good sign of his mood.
“You are absolutely right, Chris. Follow me and I will take you to Councilman Travis’ chambers.”
Josiah then proceeded up the stairs, the others following with Chris and Vin bringing up the rear.
As Chris finally approached the huge doorway when it was his turn to pass under them, his hand dropped to caress his sidearm.
Since entering the city and now Necropolis, his nerves were on edge and he was fighting every instinct that was telling him to run. He sucked in a heavy breath and walked through the doors, hearing them shut soundly behind him, almost making him jump in trepidation.
Josiah glanced at Chris as they walked through the beautiful halls of the city towards the place they would find Councilman Travis. He saw the look on Chris’ face and his body language and knew the man was on the edge.
He hoped that Chris would not change his mind at this late in the game. They were almost to their destination and once there, Travis could explain to him just exactly what was the threat to the universe and what was required of him. But until he delivered the man to the Councilman, he needed to keep a tight rein on Larabee, otherwise the man might decide it was best that the city was punished for its transgression against him and Josiah had no doubts that this man could succeed in that task.
They had reached a corridor that led to many apartments within the city. Chris was glad that they had taken this direction. He knew the other direction would lead to the royal chambers of the Lord Marshal and a meeting he was not really interested in having.
The party had stopped in front of two huge golden doors. Josiah stood in front of the doors and the automatically opened.
JD and Nathan were impressed by this event but Chris, Vin and Ezra were not. They knew it was because someone was watching on the other side.
Josiah walked in first, followed by JD, Nathan, Ezra and Vin in that order, with Chris bringing up the rear hesitantly.
Once pass the doors, they immediately closed and the group found that they were looking an elderly man dressed in white robes sitting behind a large desk.
Behind the man, was a great window looked upon the city of New Mecca. The buildings of the city were majestic with their tall spiraling towers and roofs.
JD and Nathan had never seen the likes of it in their lives. Even Vin and Ezra had to admit it took even their breaths away.
Chris alone stood solemnly looking at the view, his face grimacing in anxiety. He wanted this meeting to be over with and he wanted to be away from this city. It had too many bad memories for him and he was dangerously close to losing not only his sanity, but his life as well, if he stayed too long.
Josiah kept a close eye on heir to the throne. He knew the man was getting antsy and he knew if he were not careful in the way he dealt with him, he would definitely bolt.
Councilman Travis gazed on the six men who stood in front of him, appraising them. These were the six of the seven men that would form the alliance that would save the universe. Or at least that was what the Air Elemental representative had told him. How much was to believe, he did not know. But there were no options available at this time.
He knew the tall, thin blond with the dark sunglasses was the heir to the throne. There was no mistaking his memory and even if he had forgotten, there was no mistaking the features that was definitely that of Miel, his father. He was the one. He would just have to proof to Larabee that he was.
The bounty hunter was next. Travis knew his people were of the Ravakar. They had little patience or tolerance for the people of the cities. Travis would have preferred to do without him, but the Elemental had said that he was an important piece to Larabee finding his abilities.
Next was the merchant, although Travis would have called him a gambler and con artist by trade. From what Josiah had sent on the communication disk he had sent ahead, he and Larabee had some sort of partnership and tag along to see if he could gain some profit from it. But Travis knew the man had no control over his fate, as did the others. He too had an important part to play. But the Elemental could not see it yet.
The healer was another story in itself. He believed he was running away from Vicar and what they would do to him, but he running towards something more. He just hoped it would not scare him away as they Vicar did.
Josiah, the ex-priest, did not know it, but he too was also an important piece of the puzzle. While he was away, the Air Elemental had divined that he was needed. What he was needed for was still hidden by unknown risks and the Air Elemental’s calculations were not complete.
As for the youngster, he was not on the program. Josiah and the others had rescued him from the Sandmen, which was a feat in itself. It was truly a miracle that he had survived considering there ever did. That made him quite unique. He would have to see what the Elemental had to say of this boy.
The last piece to this group would be here soon. Travis had sent for him as soon as he knew the others had arrived at Necropolis. He knew for Chris it would be a bittersweet reunion. He just hoped it would not change the man’s mind about listening to what he had to say or helping them.
“Well, old man, we’re here,” said Chris eyeing the man behind the desk with amusement.
“Yes, you are, Connell. It is good to see you again,” said Travis nodding to the Chris. He did not offer his hand to the heir, as he knew Connell did not like to be touched without permission first.
“It is good to see you alive, old man. I thought they had killed you.”
“I am very hard to kill, Connell. You should know that by now.”
“So am I, old man. So am I,” said Chris smiling.
“Gentlemen, please take a seat while we wait for our other two guests.”
Josiah, Ezra, Nathan, JD and Vin all took seats that were positioned in front of the man. Chris shook his head, refusing the Councilman’s offer.
“What? You don’t like my company anymore, Connell?”
“I don’t like anyone’s company too much anymore, Councilman. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll stand,” answered Chris taking a position by the door.
“Very well,” said Travis standing up from his desk walking so that he stood directly in front of the men. “I believe Josiah here has told you of what he knows about my request.”
“He says that there is a threat to the universe,” replied Chris leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms in front of him.
“Yes. You all have heard of the Vicar?”
“Yes, we have. Some of us have even have had some dealings with them,” answered Ezra, specifically looking at JD. “They are the threat that you are speaking of?”
“Yes. They are. But it is bigger than that. The dealings you have had with those little groups are small in comparison to their real numbers. It is unknown of their true size, but my spies, at least the ones who have survived, have estimated that their numbers have grown during the past ten years. In fact, it is possible that they outnumber our combined military forces of Helion Prime.”
“Including the Necromonger high guards?” asked Chris now curious.
“Including them. Your mother has been under pressure to recruit more men, but that is not the way of the people of Helion Prime or the other Helion outer planets. We are a peaceful people and have never had to fight a physical war in the past five hundred years,” explained the councilman.
“Then I say you’re in trouble alright,” said Chris snidely.
Travis eyed him angrily. He knew Connell had much hatred of his people, but he had not realized how deep it went.
“Connell, the people need your help. They need all of you.”
The others looked at Travis bewildered by this statement.
“I don’t understand,” piped up Nathan. “I came here because Josiah here said it would be better for my health, that you would find a safe place for me from the Vicar. I ain’t no soldier, I’m a healer.”
“Yeah, I just came along because they offered me a free ride,” said JD pointing to Chris and Vin. “They never said anything about joining some army.”
“Please, please, gentlemen. I have someone that will be able to explain everything,” said Travis trying to keep the men calmed.
“Who might that be?” asked Vin.
“That is me, gentlemen,” came a woman’s voice from the other side of the room.
They all turned to see the ghostly shape of a woman in a white glowing gown and cloak emerge from the wall.
Once through the wall, her body seemed to become more solid and real.
Most of the men in the room stared in awe, except for Chris, Josiah and Travis. They knew this woman was an Air Elemental.
“Did…Did you just come through that wall?” stuttered JD.
“Yes, I did, young sir. My name is Lyra,” said the young woman. She removed the hood of her cloak and they could see she had white hair that flowed lightly down her back.
“Ya an Air Elemental, ain’t ya?” interjected Vin knowingly.
“Yes, I am,” she said turning blue eyes towards Chris. “And how have you been, Connell?”
“Lyra. Why am I not surprised,” replied Chris.
“You shouldn’t be, young heir. I told you before you would return to what was once yours.”
“This ain’t mine anymore, Lyra.”
“That is yet to be seen, young heir.” Lyra then turned to face the others. “You are all here because you have a purpose. My seers have calculated the percentage of success and it was deemed that you are the only ones that can restore the balance of the universe.”
“The balance of the universe? Pray tell, what does that mean?” asked Ezra.
“Since the beginning of time there has always been a balance between good and evil in the universe. Aereon the previous Air Elemental, who held my position during the time of Riddick the Great, also predicted this.
Neither side has ever gained enough power to destroy the other. Until now, of course.”
“And why is that?” questioned Nathan.
“That is because the Vicar have a seer that is working for them. This seer can see the future and go past calculations and risks. This seer has predicted that there will come one who shall lead them back to the ways of the Underverse. One who carries the power of fire, the power of darkness and the power to the soul.”
“Fire, darkness and the soul? They’re talking about Chris, aren’t they?” suggested Josiah.
“Yes. They are.”
“But why? How come him?” asked JD pointing to Chris.
“Fire, Furian. Darkness, Necromonger. The soul, Elemental,” said Josiah.
“But not just any Elemental, Josiah,” added Lyra. “Ether Elemental. The power to the soul.”
All of a sudden, Chris started laughing. At first it was a soft laugh, but quickly turned into hysterical howling.
“Me?” said Chris shaking his head, wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes. “You know, Lyra, I thought you were crazy when I lived here, but now I know you are.”
“It is the truth, Connell and I know deep down inside your heart, you believe it too.”
“No, I don’t, lady! I believe you’re sprouting a bunch of shit! You want these people to believe that you know what’s good for them, that you are the only one who holds the power to save them.”
“Connell, please…” said Lyra walking towards him.
“No!” said Chris quickly moving away from her. “Don’t you see,” he said turning to the others. “This is all about control for her. If you believe her, then she has control over everything you do!”
“And you are afraid that you will loose control if I am right,” said Lyra.
Chris stopped and glared at her hard. Yes, he wanted to keep control. Control of his life and of his future. Elementals never asked anyone anything. Elementals, like his father. They only predicted and calculated and ordered.
Travis gleamed from what he heard what was really bothering Connell about the Elemental. It was not the fact that he was asked to save a people who had condemned him and deny his right to his life. It was the fact that Lyra was an Elemental, like his father and he presumed that she wanted to control him, like his father tried to when he was alive.
“Connell, please, you must listen to Lyra. There is more at stake here than just you,” pleaded Travis.
“Well, old man, it’s the only thing I know how to do for the past ten years. That is take care of me. You expect me to give up my life for these people? The same people that left me to die in the awful prison ten years ago?”
“Connell, I did not realize your anger was so deep. But it will not help you to find those who have taken what you loved the most from you,” stated Lyra simply.
Chris staggered at the comment. He knew she was referring to the death of his wife and son.
“You must help them, Connell,” she continued. “If not for the sake of them, at least for the sake of those who cannot seek revenge.”
Travis stared at Lyra hard. He knew she was playing on his emotions and he disappointedly realized that Connell was right. Lyra was trying to control him. Her statement was wrought with manipulation and she knew he knew. But Lyra forgot that she was playing with fire and was soon about to get burned.
Travis was about to object to her tactics when the door opened and in strode one of the Necromonger high guards.
Dressed in his full metal body armor, the Necromonger’s face could not been seen since the guards usually wore helmets that covered their face, except for the area where the eyes needed to see.
Chris immediately pulled his sidearm out from its holster and trained it on the high guard. He knew he was taking a chance considering how ineffectual weapons were against their body armor, but he would take his chances.
The high guard also pulled his weapon out and held it targeted at Chris. Chris knew it was a sonic laser and could easily knock Chris across the room and through the wall. But he be damned if he did not go down fighting.
Each man stood stoically still, not moving an inch as they trained their weapons on each other.
Vin was about to intervene on Larabee’s behalf, when Chris motioned for him to stay where he was. Vin trusted Chris’ judgment and did as he was requested.
“Whoa, boys,” came Travis’ voice from off to the side. Chris refused to turn around to meet Travis’ eyes for fear of giving his opponent an opening to get the drop on him.
“Connell, put your weapon away, please,” came Travis’ plea.
“Connell?” came the shock voice of the high guard. “Chris, is that you?”
Chris eyed the high guard suspiciously, but the voice did sound familiar. He just could not remember why.
“Chris! It’s me. Buck Wilmington,” said the high guard, lowering his weapon and reaching towards his head to remove his helmet.
Chris eyes widened in surprise as the helmet came off and revealed the face of one Buck Wilmington, the only person Chris considered a friend when he lived in Necropolis.
“Buck? What are you doing here?”
“The old man asked me to be here. Said he had someone special he wanted me to meet,” said Buck smiling broadly. “You ole war dog. I thought you was dead.”
“I was, for a while,” said Chris introspectively.
Buck then unceremoniously grabbed the thin man into a hug.
“Better quit, Buck. People will talk,” said Chris jokingly. He had missed his old friend and had often wondered what happened to him.
“Where you been, Chris?” asked Buck after releasing the man.
“Here and there. You know. People to see, places to go, things to do.”
“Yeah, sure do, Stud. We thought you died on Crematoria.”
“There ain’t much that can kill me. You should know that by now, Buck. But what I’m trying to figure out is what you’re doing here.” With that statement, Chris turned towards Travis and Lyra.
“He is also an important piece to the solution, Connell,” interjected Lyra.
Chris was becoming annoyed at her little revelations. “You know, you’re starting to piss me off, Lyra. First this bullshit story about me being the one to save the universe and now you say Buck is part of that also. I don’t know about you guys, but I think it’s time we left,” said Chris turning towards the door.
“You know she misses you, Stud,” said Buck. It stopped Chris in his tracks. He knew whom Buck was referring to. “She cried every night after you left and then when we thought you was dead, she cried some more until there were no more tears.”
“Then why did she stop looking for me? Why did she leave me on that hell forsaken hole of a planet?” exclaimed Chris.
“She did look for you, Chris. She never stopped trying to get you freed from that place. She finally got your pardon. But when we went to go get you, we were told that you were already dead.”
“Yeah, Stud. I went with her. We took the fastest ship there and a company of high guards. We were going to bring you home, Stud. But the prison warden said that you had died out on the planet surface.”
“Hmph! The prison warden wouldn’t know shit if it bit him in the ass. The guy was a jerk.”
“How did you get away? And unscathed, I might add,” said Buck smiling.
“Oh, I wouldn’t say freedom did not have its price,” replied Chris, removing his sunglasses.
Buck gasped at the sight of his eyes. The green emerald eyes that he had remembered were now green mirrors and reflected nothing of the soul of the man that use to be Christopher Connell Larabee.
“What happened, Chris?”
“Don’t want to talk about, huh?”
“Enough already!” exclaimed Ezra getting up from his chair. “Nothing has been explained to my satisfaction and I left a very reputable and profitable business to come here.”
“Give it a rest, Ez. Your place was never reputable since the time it was built and as for profitable, if it was that, you wouldn’t be here,” said Chris.
“He got ya there, Ezra,” interjected Vin, a smirk gracing his face.
“Gentlemen, please. Chris you can’t ignore the fact that your people need you,” said Travis.
“My people? Where were my people when I was falsely accused? Where were my people when I sat in that prison, praying it wasn’t my turn to get eaten by the Tigercats? Where were my people when I lay in that scorching heat of that planet while it burnt out my eyes? Tell me that, old man!”
“This will avail us nothing. Connell, I am asking you and your friends to accompany me. I want to show you something that I think will change your mind,” interrupted Lyra.
“Why? Why should I go anywhere with you?”
“Because I asked,” answered Lyra simply.
Chris looked at her silently. It was the first time an Elemental asked anything of him.
Lyra could not read the man’s face and did not know if he would agreed, although she hoped he would.
“Alright, Lyra. Since you asked,” said Chris reluctantly.
Lyra nodded and hid the small smile on her face.
“But if I don’t like what you got to say, I am out of here,” said Chris.
Lyra walked towards the door and waited until it opened, glancing back ever so often to make sure they all were following her.
As the last of the group passed him by, Chris turned to find that Travis had not left.
“You ain’t coming, old man?” asked Chris.
“No. I have an appointment with someone I must keep.”
“That someone wouldn’t happen to be my mother, would it?” asked Chris, his eyes gleaming like two green pearls.
“How did you know?”
“There’s only one person that I know of that you would never dare miss an appointment with,” answered Chris as he smiled and then walked out the door too.