The Assignment

Captain Von Delgo is a man who is lost. He is known as a turncoat, a hero and a mass-murderer. He has no beginning, and as far as he can see he has no end. Which makes him just about the most dangerous man alive. After the completion of his last job Captain is on his way out to receive his payment and rest up. His plans are delayed when a religious sect known as the Ravens pull him in with an offer. Captain faces a dilemma, he has never once failed in his assignments. But accepting this one and succeeding would change the way of the world, change everything that everyone has ever known, plunge it into chaos. But he has also never once turned down a job, and with his life quickly descending into a chaos of its own despair, he can see no reason why not to accept. After all, how hard can it be to kill an immortal?

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26. Chapter 26

Just as 01 had almost caught up with the Captain, but then the man had disappeared. A loud rumble echoed across the sky as 01 screamed, energy burning through his body. Flames sprayed from his fingers and he stifled the urge to sink the whole island. The Captain was taking too long! 01 was caught in a tight spot between his mind hammering for dominance over his desire. The Captain had to stay alive, but he had to die. Things had to happen in order, but it was taking too long!

For some time 01 had been behind the Captain, perhaps only an hour or so behind him. Now he stood on the sandy beach watching the waves role in. For once they did nothing to sooth his anger. The sand made him feel itchy. Beneath his feet it slowly turned to glass. It cracked under his weight.

The trail was cold. The Captain had never reached the other side of the island. Was he still lost in the jungle? He turned around in a circle, judging by lack of footprints on the ground he was the only on that had come out the other end. The Captain was lost, and 01 couldn’t stop himself from laughing.

He was about to turn round and head back in when he heard the sound of yelling and punches being thrown. A fight in the jungle? So who else had been after the Captain, and managed to find him? That angered 01. How had he failed to find the Captain but someone else had! Following the sounds of the fight he ran back into the jungle. The fight was only about dozen meters away, but even so he missed it. He arrived too late. By the time he got there whoever had had the fight had cleared out. He stopped in the middle of the clearing and looked round. There was the sign of a fight on the dirt, and some of the trees in the jungle looked like they had carried a heavy weight.

He searched round on the ground and shortly found what he was looking for. Foot prints that led off back into the jungle. The jungle -he was starting to hate it. It felt like he had always been in the jungle. He wanted to get out and stay out.

Following the prints in the soft dirt he traced them to a small opening that went under a tree. He made the hole wider and jumped in. Rock lay beneath him and he felt his ankles twist and snap. He snarled, feeling the pain. Then he stood up and they snapped back into place, healing instantly. The air was cooler down below; the cold stone made it that way. He looked around. It was a tunnel. Not that wide, but it stretched on. He could smell once again the Captain, and now the scent of what ever had found him and was now traveling with him. Back on the trail once more he started to run.

He ran for a while. Just on and on, not stopping. He wouldn’t stop until he had caught up with them. He realized as he ran that something was happening with the ground. It was shaking. Then there was the thundering sound of rocks falling and crashing to the ground. The air filled with dust and he began to cough as it filled his lungs and stung his eyes. He was reminded of his time in that place. When he would cough and he would hurt.

The pain and memory encouraged him to surge on. Eventually the noise of the fall died down and the dust finally settled. And then he found himself falling and crashing into the ground. He lay there stunned for a minute, before rolling onto his back; he wasn’t hurt, though the fall should have killed him. He realized shortly after climbing to his feet that he had stopped breathing. He placed his hands to his chest to see if his heart was beating. As he placed his hands, he felt straight away the bones that were jutting out and the stickiness of blood. His ribs had broken and stabbed his heart. He pulled the shredded pieces of clothe he was wearing for a shirt off and examined the damage. The bones that had broken had pushed through the glass case that held his heart. The case must have broken when he landed.

Reaching inside, he began pulling the shards from his heart. As he threw the final shard to the ground, he rearranged the squished and batted heart and placed it back inside the broken case. After a moment he began rummaging around in his chest until he found a selection of wires that had been attached to his heart. He plugged them back in as best he could and closed his chest. It all felt weird, and he felt slightly weak and dizzy. His ribcage was connected, but it was barely holding together. How was he feeling the pain? He didn’t know. Pushing the question away he continued down the passage, time was running out.

He found the exit at last into sunlight. It reflected off a still lake, a reverse image of the sky above. There was a polite cough from behind. 01’s ears picked up the noise and he turned slowly, his breath rasping slightly as it rattled through his lungs on its way out.

‘If you’re lookin’ for your mates, they went that way,’ the polite stranger offered, raising a finger to point in the direction the Captain had taken.

01 nodded in reply. Time slowed, he stepped forwards, reaching out as he did so for the man’s neck. He gripped it with his hands and twisted sharply up and around. There was a crack and the man turned limp. 01 let the body fall to the ground, he stepped over it and continued walking. He didn’t need the man to give him directions, he knew already.

Following the line of the sun he set out, determination marking his walk. The sun was quickly setting, faster than he had ever seen it set before. Before long he reached the strange crop of circles and climbed on top.

All night he stood, watching

He stood facing the rising sun and wondering where the Shadows had gone. They had not seen him as he had walked along the tops of the rocks, he was so high that they would have had to crane their necks all the way back and still not be able to see him. But he saw them, and the Captain. At first when he saw the Shadows he was afraid. Which was such a strange feeling for him to have. He hadn’t felt this afraid for years. Not since before he became what he was now.

His mind went back to a day in the sun. Playing as a child with friends in a forest. Hide and Seek. He had been the Seeker, and he had been awful at it. All his friends could read the ground and tell who had walked on it and if it was who you were looking for, but he always read it wrong. He would follow a path looking for his friends for hours and then find out that he was following the tracks of a cart that had come through the forest months ago. Or else, he would follow a fresh trail that belonged to one of the night beasts that roam in the forest. Then there were times when he would follow something even worse.

You might think it cheating to track the ground to find your friends in a game of Hide and Seek, but it was all part of growing up. Hide and Seek wasn’t just a game, it was part of training. It honed your mind; it allowed you to find things in the forest that no one else could. Find food and water, or friends and foes. You couldn’t survive if you couldn’t read the forest. And he had always failed. That had brought about a fear that scared him. A fear that he wasn’t a part of his family because he was so different, a fear of what they were going to do to him. They couldn’t always look after him, he had to do that himself. His inability to do that was quickly turning him into a danger for everyone. So what were they going to do to him? What they did do was something that had never crossed his mind as an option.

As soon as the city appeared 01 saw it, the brightness blinding him as if he wasn’t already blind to the world. The first thing that registered in his mind was how it didn’t look solid. It looked to be made of light, and he knew deep down that all logic said that you could not enter light. You merely stand where it falls and it falls around you. Yet the Captain had clearly disappeared into it, and so therefore perhaps you could enter light. The City started to fade, parts of it disappearing from sight as the light of the sun washed over it.

As the sun neared the final stone on the outside and was about to pass over, 01 made up his mind. You could enter anywhere you wanted so long as there was a door, and for this there seemed to be a door. He jumped from the rocks, tumbled across the stone and through the sun just as it passed the final stone.

A gate made of the same colour and texture of the stone on the edge of the ring towered above him, it spread from where he stood in a gigantic circle. It looked ancient, as strong as iron, able to withstand the force of many an army. He felt he could break it like a block of sandstone. But that, he knew, would be tampering with the past, something he knew was wrong and should never do. But, he gritted his teeth, that was why he was here in the first place. He passed through it instead. Being part of the future meant that he technically didn’t exist in the past and therefore the boundaries did not apply to him.

No one noticed him as he walked through the cobbled streets. It felt strange to be walking where no one besides a Shadow had ever walked. He knew the reason why they couldn’t see him though a few days ago they would have been able to. It was because life was starting to come to an end. He was starting to not exist, which made him smile. It was going to work. The closer he came to the Captain the less of him there was to see and notice. The less of him there was to exist and be real.

He heard the news as he walked. Someone had committed a dozen murders with his bare hands and had eaten the murdered Shadows’ dust. He smiled at this news, and knew what it meant. The Captain. 01 hurried through the streets. He knew where the Captain was going now, he knew it before but this time he knew that he would succeed. He raced through the first gate and then through the next one. The bodies had already been cleared from the streets. There was a panic as he ran. Someone was killing Shadows and all the Shadows knew that was impossible.

He slowed to a walk once he was inside the Palace grounds. He looked around and then jumped into the air. He could get a better view of all the arias of escape from the sky. From up here he could see all of the city, but he only payed attention to one thing that caught his eye. It was a man, he was moving along the outside ledge of a wall, checking into each window he passed and counting under his breath. At last the man stopped and opened a window and climbed inside.

01 stopped watching the window and flew down to the one next to it. He pushed it open and climbed inside. He walked to the door and kicked it open. To his right there was an open door and standing just inside of it were the High Lord’s two guards. They were staring at the pile of Shadow dust on the floor. The Captain was the only one to notice 01 as he moved behind the guards. Pushing his hands inside their backs he pulled out what they were shadows of and destroyed them. The guards fell to the floor dead. The Captain didn’t seem to notice them fall, he never took his eyes away from 01. 01 seemed unaware that he had killed the Shadows so intent was he on staring at the Captain.

The Captain shook his head in surprise; shook was on his face and with it a touch of fear. 01 could tell that he was having a hard time coming to truths with what his eyes were seeing.. At last the Captain managed to speak out a word. It would have been a question, but his mind worked fast, and he didn’t need to ask the question because he already knew the answer. So he just spoke the name.

‘Holin.’

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