In the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns...
Multicolored light glittered slowly across the stone floor as the sun’s rays shone through the stained glass windows that lined the otherwise unlit room. The dazzling display would have captivated most beings, but the sole inhabitant of the room paid them no mind. He had walked these halls all his life, and the beautiful lights no longer captivated him as they did so many others.
No, he was there for a different reason. One much more important then to admire the lights as they danced across the floor.
The robed being knelt at the edge of the stone dais for a full minute before stepping up onto its smooth surface. The being’s bare feet made no sound as he walked swiftly across the raised floor, towards the far wall. Or rather, the thing resting against the far wall. The thing covered with a white sheet.
The robed being reached the covered object and paused, as if having second thoughts about what he was about to do. Then he reached forward and grasped the sheet with cold, metallic hands before pulling it off with one, quick motion.
Lying on a small table was a plain, wooden box with a rusty steel lock.
The being reached into the folds of his plain brown robes and pulled out an old steel key. With great hesitance the being placed they key into the keyhole and slowly turned. With a groan the ancient hinges swung open. A blazing light filled the room, forcing the robed being to look away, shielding his eyes with his robed arm.
Mere seconds later the light dissipated and the robed being slowly lowered his arm. For the first time in millennia the contents of the ancient wooden container was viewed by living eyes.
A flawless sphere of diamond rested in a small indentation in the bottom of the box. Raw energy flowed over its smooth surface, arcing at random. The artifact was said to radiate power like the stench of death. The robed being now saw the truth of that rumor.
With slow, precise movements the being reached into the box, grasping the orb with both hands and lifting it from its makeshift pedestal. Instantly the energy that pulsed along the sphere’s surface jumped up his arms and over to the rest of his body. He winced, sharp pains shooting up wherever the energy touched, but he refused to let go of the diamond in his hands.
The being turned, obviously intending to vacate the room, taking the orb with him. It was the last action he would ever make.
A single gunshot shattered the silence that existed for almost as long as the orb had been hidden. The robed being looked up to see a figure in the doorway, holing a smoking handgun with both hands. Then he turned his gaze to his chest, no home to a hole no bigger then his little finger.
He was dead before he hit the ground.
The orb fell as well, hitting the stone floor at the exact same time as the body. Undamaged by the impact, the sphere began to roll. Slowly at first, but gradually gaining speed, rolling and rolling towards the door until it hit something.
That something was the killer’s foot.
With a demented smile on his shadowy face the newcomer reached down and plucked the orb from the ground, seemingly unaffected by the energy it sent pulsing up his body. Placing the orb in a pouch on his belt the killer turned and retreated to the shadows, leaving only the body behind.
The rut-filled forest road was one of Knox’s least favorite trade routes in all of Destria. The blasted stretch of dirt was infamous for its nasty habit of trapping carts in its ruts and mud puddles.
Knox called out a command, ordering his Kikanalo to move faster. He wanted to spend the least amount of time possible on this god-forsaken road. It had been incredibly inconsiderate of the Council to have the main road ‘fixed’, forcing him to travel trough this hellhole.
Suddenly the cart was jolted roughly to the side, throwing the Jungle Agori forward. His head hit the front of the cart with a sickening thud, slamming his helmet back into his face. Knox felt blood begin to trickle down his forehead.
Woozily the Agori looked over the side of the cart to see that the left wheel was shattered, ripped apart by an inconveniently placed rut. With a sigh Knox jumped from the cart and began to examine the damage more closely. A quick look-over confirmed what Knox already knew; the wheel was irreparable. Shards of wood lay scattered over the road like an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle. Knox was going nowhere.
Then unmistakable ‘click’ of a handgun made Knox freeze in place. He had almost forgotten about the robbers that roamed the forest, waiting to stumble upon an unsuspecting traveler. He should have been more careful.
“Stay down!” The voice was rough and deep, like stone being scraped against stone. Most likely a Rock Agori. Or a Bone Hunter. Either was a possibility.
“Take a chill pill,” Knox replied calmly. “I’ll cooperate.”
“Good,” his captor responded. “It’s less messy that way.”
“What do you want? I’ve got a schedule to keep.”
Knox imagined the other Agori’s eyes narrowing at his apparent fearlessness. “We want your widgets,” the robber replied, “and no tricks.”
Suddenly the forest was full of the sound of guns being cocked. Knox estimated that there were at lest ten of them. That’s going to be a problem.
With an exaggerated sigh, Knox slowly rose from his crouched position, reaching into his armor as he turned to face his captor. His original assumption had been correct, it was a Rock Agori. “You’re not going to shoot me when I give this to you, right?” He asked suspiciously.
“We’re not savages,” the Agori snapped. “We just want the widgets. Now.”
“Ok, ok,” Knox’s hand closed around the object in his armor. “Here you go.”
He whipped out the handgun and pulled the trigger, sending an iron projectile into the robber’s forehead. Blood squirted from the wound as the Agori’s back arched from the impact. The body fell to the ground, hitting the dirt road with a dull thud.
Almost immediately the remaining robbers opened fire, sending a hail of bullets in Knox’s direction. The Jungle Agori dove to the side, the shots passing mere inches away from his head. He hit the ground hard, knocking the breath from his lungs.
Another barrage forced Knox back, rolling towards the trees on the opposite side of the road. Dust and dirt sprayed up at his face the bullets tore up the road behind him. The robbers were poor shots and had probably never been in a real firefight all their life.
But then again, neither had Knox.
The Jungle Agori reached the grass, dropping into the ditch on the side of the road. The dip, originally intended to catch rainwater, was still damp from the previous day’s downpour. Knox landed face-first in mud. The Agori swore under his breath as he wiped the mud from his helmet. The robbers had advanced to his cart and were preparing to fire again. Even for lousy shots like them, it would be hard to miss him.
Knox brought up his pistol and fired twice before ducking back into the ditch. He heard a scream and then another round of shots. Dirt, grass and mud rained down on his back as the projectiles shredded the earth above him.
He lifted his head to see one more of his assailants down, hit by his shot. One lay slumped over the side of the cart, unmoving. His second shot must have gone wide. His Kikanalo had somehow broken free and was nowhere to be seen.
Ducking back into the ditch, Knox popped the cartridge from his weapon. Four shots left. Eight Agori to go. He did not like those odds.
Another round pounded into the ground above him, a little to close for his liking. Either the robbers were getting used to their weapons, or they just got lucky. It really did not matter though; whether by luck or by skill, he would still be dead.
Knox managed to squeeze off another shot before being forced back into the trench. He heard the dull thud as the body hit the ground. Three down, seven to go. And those seven had him outnumbered and outgunned. The robbers would have used up five rounds by now, leaving each of them with a single shot left. They would have to reload soon, and that was when Knox would make his move. Shoot, run, hide. That was his plan.
Knox rose once more, aiming for the closest robber. His finger closed around the trigger.
Suddenly the Jungle Agori’s shoulder exploded with searing pain. Knox fell backwards, the handgun falling from his grasp. His body slammed into the back of the ditch, sending another wave of pain across his slumped form.
A red haze descended over Knox’s mind, obscuring his thoughts and his vision. He began to drift out of consciousness, his brain slowly shutting down. Strange noises came from all around him, as if the firefight was still in progress.
Then the noise stopped, replaced by a deafening silence. Then a pair of hands slipped and under the Agori’s prone body. Knox felt himself being raised into the air.
Then he slipped into unconsciousness.
Ice-cold water splashed onto Knox’s face, violently rousing him from his sleep. He jumped to a sitting position, gasping for breath as he did so. His eyes quickly adjusted to the minimal lighting, and the Agori took stock of the situation.
His shoulder and head wounds had been bandaged and his helmet removed. He was sitting on a cot in a large hut made from branches and woven grass, something common where Knox came from. But this one was different. The doorway itself was over six feet tall, and the roof another foot taller then that.
“What the hell…?” he whispered to himself, water droplets shaking off his chin as he spoke.
“Good, you’re up.” The voice came from behind Knox’s cot, its tone different then any Agori that Knox knew. “You were so boring just lying there asleep.”
The Jungle Agori turned, sending waves of pain across his shoulder. Wincing, he stopped, twisting his neck back to see if he could catch a glimpse of his mysterious savior. What he saw surprised him.
A six foot tall warrior, clad in red and orange armor, stood casually near the wall behind Knox’s cot, reaching for something on a shelf above his head. A massive rifle was strapped to his back, and a small machete was held in a sheath at his waist.
The being grabbed a canteen off the shelf and turned to face Knox, allowing the Agori to see his face for the first time. A strange red helmet rested on his head, a helmet that seemed to be fused to his face, moving as any natural face would.
“Here,” the warrior said, tossing the canteen to Knox. The Agori caught it in his hand. “Drink up.”
Knox shook the container lightly, causing its contents to swish around. It was definitely a liquid and most likely drinkable. If the warrior in red wanted to kill him, he had had plenty of time to do so earlier.
Lifting the canteen to his lips, Knox took a large swig of the drink. It tasted strange, but not too bad. Shrugging, the Jungle Agori finished off the rest of the beverage, gulping it down rather noisily. He dropped the empty container onto the table next to his oversized cot and swung his legs over the side, turning his gaze back to his host.
“Who are you?” the Agori asked cautiously, hoping the warrior was willing to talk.
“Name’s Agnos,” he replied, leaning against the wall as he spoke, “Toa of Fire. Pleasure to meet you…?” His voice trailed off questioningly.
“Knox,” the green armored Agori finished for him.
“Quaint,” Agnos said absently, turning to a set of wooden cupboards hanging on the wall opposite of Knox’s cot. The Toa began to sift through the contents of the three shelves within the pair of cabinets, occasionally moving something to another shelf for no apparent reason.
“If I may,” the Jungle Agori began. “What’s a Toa?”
Agnos paused in the middle of moving a crudely made mug from the bottom shelf to the top, cocking his head to the side as if he was confused. Then his other hand shot up in a fist, index finger pointing upwards as if he had suddenly remembered something. “Of course, my bad,” he said, resuming his rearranging of the contents of his cupboards. “You don’t have Toa here. You couldn’t really. Not without…well, never mind that, it’s not important.”
Knox stared blankly at the red warrior.
“To answer your question,” Agnos continued, not bothering to look back at his guest, “Toa are peacekeepers, defenders of all things good in the world. Similar to your Police Force, but better.”
Knox nodded, though the Toa’s ramblings were a bit… confusing to say the least. “Ok then,” he continued. “What are you doing out here in the Great Forest? It’s forbidden by the council to cross the border.”
Agnos spun around, spreading his arms wide for effect. “Well, isn’t it obvious?” he asked. “I live here! Why else would there be a hut sitting smack in the middle of the largest forest on Terra?” He turned back to his cupboards, sighing in exasperation. “Besides, you didn’t seem to have a problem traveling through said forest on that pathetic excuse for a road.”
Knox opened his mouth to protest, but quickly thought the better of it. “As it happens,” he replied, “I have a permit, a signed piece of parchment allowing me to be out here. I’m a trader, traveling from town to town to earn what widgets I can. And I’m assuming you aren’t a trader.” He gestured to the nasty looking weapon strapped to the Toa’s back.
“Pfft,” the Toa huffed. “It took you that long to figure that out?”
Knox remained silent as Agnos finished his sorting, closed the doors and spun around, clutching something in his right hand. “Anyways, we need to get you to one of your…‘hospitals’, I believe is the correct term. This isn’t a Mask of Healing, and that’s no professionally cleaned wound.” He gestured to Knox’s right shoulder.
He tossed the object in his hand towards Knox. The Agori caught it, and opened up his hand, letting the small item rest in his palm. It was a box of ammunition for his pistol, about thirty rounds still left inside. Knox shot Agnos a quizzical look.
“Technically I’m not supposed to arm civilians,” the Toa said, “but I figured that if we were going to have a little stroll through the Great Forest I could make an exception.” He shrugged innocently. “Now get some rest, we’re leaving in the morning.”
The Citadel of Lights had never seen this much publicity before, not even when it was opened to the public for the first time almost an eon ago. Fortunately for the priests inside, the Destrian National Police Department had arrived first, blocking off the entrance with bright yellow traffic barriers and a squad of Agori trained in crowd control.
Unfortunately, the paparazzi came in greater numbers then anticipated. The body of the deceased Priest had to be airlifted from the scene of the crime by a Helicopter for the autopsy instead of being driven away.
Not that we need one, Mezak thought spitefully as the black body bag was lifted into the belly of the aircraft by the pulley system.
The cause of death was obvious. The priest had been shot at close range, and by a skilled marksman. The location of the shooter when the shot was fired had already been determined by their technicians, and a vast array of pictures had been taken to preserve the crime scene.
It was almost time for Mezak and his crew to back up and go home. There was nothing more they could do here, and the Jungle Agori was really starting to tire of the fancy designs on the windows. He had never been a fan of the arts.
A blue armored Agori exited the building, striding purposefully towards Mezak. She stopped a yard away, stiffly saluting her commanding officer.
“At ease, Thalia,” he said, shifting his gaze from the throng of reporters to the officer’s face. “This is a crime scene, not a battlefield, so just cut to the chase.”
“Understood,” she replied, her voice stiff and formal. Mezak sighed with exasperation, but Thalia either did not care or pretended not to notice. “The third sweep of the Citadel is complete. Nothing turned up.”
Mezak snorted. “Not surprising.”
Thalia ignored him. “The analysts are finished at the crime scene. They’re awaiting your orders, sir.”
“Tell them to pack up,” he replied, turning back to the mob outside. “We’re done here.”
Thalia nodded, saluted and spun on her heels, reentering the building without another word. Mezak sighed again; there was no getting through to Thalia. Shaking his head, he descended the steps to the courtyard below where the barriers were set up.
“What’s your status Lieutenant?” he asked, addressing the orange armored Agori who stood a few feet away from the barricades. The officer’s name was Paux, and had served with Mezak for years. The two had been through hell together, and were closer than most other partners. Well, former partners.
The Iron Agori winced, as if the question itself was as bad as the problem. “Not good Mezak,” he reported. “They aren’t leaving, despite our best efforts. I’m worried we may have to go to more…extreme lengths, but then we’d have a lawsuit on our hands.”
Mezak smiled grimly at his old friend. “Can you really blame them Paux? It’s not everyday someone gets murdered in Destria.” He stepped up onto the soapbox that had been set up to communicate with the growing mob, grabbing a megaphone out of the hands of a nearby officer.
“This thing on?” he spoke into the handheld amplifier, his voice resounding across the courtyard. The multitude of voices grew silent, all eyes focused on Mezak. “Cool. It appears I’ve got your attention.” He took a breath and began to speak. “I’m Detective Mezak of the DNPD, and I’m running this investigation. I’m going to have to ask you to leave these premises, or I’ll have you all arrested for obstructing governmental administration in the third degree.”
That should do the trick, he thought, tossing the Megaphone back to the officer he had taken it from before stepping down from the soapbox.
“Paux, can you stay and monitor the barricade until the crowd disperses?” Mezak asked as he turned to face the Iron Agori once again. Paux nodded crisply, turning back to view the crazed sea of Agori and flashing cameras. The green armored Agori knew Paux despised crowd control work, but they both agreed it was a necessary evil in this case. If the reporters got into the Citadel, the crime scene would be ruined.
Mezak quickly ascended the stone steps, right hand reaching for his radio as he did so. “Hurry up, we’re leaving,” he ordered, letting go of the transmit button as soon as he was finished. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
The stench of death filled the laboratory like a disease, much to Mezak’s dismay. The Jungle Agori had come down to get the Autopsy report, not that he needed it. What could cutting the Priest open tell them about his death that they did not already know?
And yet here he was, nose wrinkled in disgust as the Ice Agori poked through the deceased’s innards with a long and rather sharp looking knife. The same Ice Agori who had requested that he come down himself.
“So what was so important that I had to come down myself Tyro?” the investigator asked, bored of watching the pathologist work. “You know I hate in here.”
“Well,” the Ice Agori began, ignoring the detective’s second statement, “in a nutshell, our friend here was indeed killed by a bullet-”
“Obviously,” Mezak interrupted.
Tyro shot an angry glance at the Jungle Agori, but continued his report without saying anything. “But, there is something peculiar about his upper body, particularly his hands and arms.”
The pathologist waved Mezak over, allowing him a better view of the corpse. The Ice Agori rolled up the priest’s right sleeve, revealing a vast array of black burn marks that traveled all the way from the finger tips to the shoulders.
“As you can see, there are dozens of these lines on our friend’s arms and hands, all stemming from a central point on his palms, this circular burn here.” Tyro pointed to the spot, turning the hand so Mezak could see. “There is an identical mark on the opposite palm, as if he was holding something between them. But the question is, what was it that he was holding, and why was he holding it if it was doing this to him?” The pathologist gestured to the burn marks.
“Perhaps he didn’t feel it?” Mezak suggested.
“Not likely,” the Ice Agori replied. “There are only two things I can think of that could cause such injuries; intense heat or a powerful charge of electricity. It would have taken immense willpower just to stay conscious, let alone ignore the pain. Whatever our mystery object was, it must have been of a great importance for this priest to even think about touching it.”
Mezak slammed his fist down on the examination table, an expression of worry and frustration on his face. “Damn.”
“What is it?” Tyro asked anxiously.
“We didn’t find anything when we swept the Citadel,” Mezak reminded him. “That means that whatever this Priest was holding, it’s in the hands of his killer now.”
“Oh.” The Agori’s voice was solemn, having grasped the enormity of the situation.
Mezak nodded and began to walk towards the double doors that former the entrance to the lab.
“Wait, where are you going?” the scientist called after him worriedly.
“Back to the Citadel,” Mezak replied as he pushed open the doors. “I have some questions for the priests.”
The reporters were still swarming the barriers when Mezak’s helicopter landed, nearly two hours after he had told them off. At this rate he was going to have to make good on his promise and start arresting people. Stubborn bastards, don’t they ever listen?
Covering his face and bending over, Mezak cleared the rotors and marched towards the entrance to the Citadel. He quickly reached the two massive double doors; both made out of giant wooden planks and held together by large iron screws that looked older then the Council.
A trio of priests was there to meet him, quickly ushering him inside and casting angry looks at the media circus outside. They appeared relieved to see him, much to his surprise. Nearly three hours ago he had ordered his men to tear the place apart for any evidence, and they had not been happy about that. What, did the cleanup crew do that good a job? He thought sarcastically.
“Thank you for coming,” the first priest said. “I am Faux, the Minister of the Citadel, and these are my assistants, Soliad and Ferios. We are grateful that you have come to rectify the situation outside. The noise is disturbing our meditation.”
Mezak sighed. So that was why they seemed so happy to see him. “Look, I’m not here to get rid of that mob out there.” The three Fire Agori looked at him, confused. “I’m here to figure out why your friend was murdered.”
The priests exchanged worried glances, before the one called Ferios stepped forward and began to speak cautiously, as if he was trying hard not to say the wrong thing. “We…we don’t know why Raymon was killed, it is a much of a mystery to us as it is to you.”
Mezak glared at the assistant, who stepped back and let out a frightened squeal that sounded suspiciously like a Brakas’ cry. “I’m not in the mood to play games,” the Jungle Agori said angrily, “so I’m going make this very easy. You tell me what Raymon was carrying, and I’ll take care of the reporters. Deal?”
Soliad and Ferios watched Faux expectantly, waiting for him to make his decision. The Minister gulped, and then looked the Investigator in the eye. “Come with me.”
He turned and began to walk through the maze of corridors, expertly navigating his way through the tapestry filled halls. Mezak followed him, wondering what Faux could possibly want to show him. The object had been stolen, right?
The Fire Agori led Mezak into a large natural cave, a high ceilinged chamber with stalagmites hanging precariously from the uneven roof. “The builders of the Citadel found this cave while they were excavating the halls,” Faux began. “They were astonished by it; one rarely finds air bubbles in the middle a mountain. But even more spectacular is what they found in it.”
The Minister walked to the center of the cave and pointed at the strangely shaped hole in the floor, a three inch dip down to the flat bottom of the indentation. Ancient Agori script was carved into the top half of bottom of the hole, which, to Mezak, looked strangely like a tablet.
“And this is…?” the detective asked skeptically.
“The Prophecy,” the three priests said in unison, scaring the hell out of the Jungle Agori.
“Look,” Mezak said, taking a step back. “I don’t believe in magic and prophecies or any of that junk. I want to know what it was the killer took.”
Faux looked offended by Mezak’s words. “You don’t understand,” he protested. “The Prophecy is the reason for the murder. When the builders examined this cave, they found an orb of the purest diamond, a flawless work of art, resting right behind the prophecy. But when they carried it out of the cave and to the newly constructed entrance, the worker who had been carrying it dropped dead, his body covered with strange burn marks.
“When the priests took up residence in the Citadel, we hid the orb in a box in one of the empty rooms in the back. Then, yesterday morning, Raymon had an omen that the Prophecy had been set motion. So, I granted him permission to remove the orb from its box and study it in hopes that it would give us a clue to how to prevent the prophecy from coming to pass.”
Mezak listened with mild interest. “So let me get this straight,” he said, even more skeptically then before. “You think someone knew Raymon was going to open the box, and he stole the orb because it has something to do with this prophecy?”
The priests nodded.
Mezak sighed. “It’s extremely unlikely.”
“But not impossible,” Faux persisted.
Mezak threw up his arms in exasperation. “No, but the chances are so small, it might as well be impossible. How many people know about ‘the Prophecy’?”
“Counting you, nine.”
“The council, you, and us three. The other Priests think that we are only here to worship the Great Beings.”
Mezak shook his head, fed up with this nonsense. “You realize no civilized being would believe anything about a Prophecy these days. We live in an enlightened world, mystics are little more than stories for children now. The Council probably feels the same.”
“The Council believed us,” Faux pointed out.
Mezak took a deep breath and turned to go. “When you’re ready to talk about something other then your silly fairy tales, give me a call.”
“But the Prophecy is not a fairy tale,” Soliad jumped in. “It is the truth! It predicts the end of the world unless we find the savior, the Son of the Suns!”
Mezak stopped in his tracks, gaze shifting from the Minister to his assistant. “What?” he asked, images of the burn marks on the priests arms flashing through his mind. If the orb was connected to this Prophecy, and some lunatic out their believed that such a thing was true, then he needed to be stopped before he could unleash whatever power he now possessed.
Soliad gulped, as if he had said too much. “The Prophecy speaks of a time of greatest despair. That can only mean the end of the world as we know it.”
The sun had barely risen when Knox and Agnos left the latter’s dwelling, trekking through the dense greenery at a vigorous pace. The Toa of Fire led the way, chopping away at the low branches and brush with his machete. He looked completely out of place amongst the lush green plants, his red armor painfully visible from all directions, but from what Knox could see, the warrior was not bothered by this at all. He simply marched onwards, slicing through the natural barricades that barred their way.
“You know, we would have made better progress if we had taken the road,” Knox pointed out, pushing a branch that the Toa had missed out of his way.
“And we would have run the risk of being seen,” the red armored warrior pointed out.
“Ah,” Knox replied. “And why, exactly, is that bad?”
“Because it is.”
“No, seriously. What’s so bad about being seen? Are you scopophobic or something?”
Agnos sighed in exasperation. “Have you ever seen a giant, six foot tall warrior carrying an oversized rifle and a rather large machete in Destria before?”
“Precisely my point.”
The Jungle Agori had nothing to say to that, and the pair walked in silence for a moment. The silence of the jungle around them was eerie and unnatural, and it sent chills up the Agori’s spine. It was not right for a place so full of life to be so empty. Knox had never liked the Great Forest, and now he knew why.
He glanced upwards, blue eyes scanning the green canopy for any sign of an avian presence. The trees stretched upwards, reaching towards the cloudy blue sky with leafy branches, reminding Knox of a painting he had once seen. But despite the peaceful serenity of the scene, the absence of birds, or wildlife in general, felt wrong.
Agnos’ voice cut through the silence like a knife. “Scopophobic?” the warrior asked, rather hesitantly, as he sliced through yet another branch that blocked his way.
Knox shrugged offhandedly before realizing that the gesture was useless at the moment, seeing as he was behind the Toa. “It’s the fear of being seen or stared at,” the Jungle Agori answered.
Agnos nodded. “There’s a word for that?”
Knox managed to stop himself from shrugging a second time. “Yeah. There’s a word for everything these days.”
The silence returned, and with it the cold chill, the sense of wrongness that was beginning to get on Knox’s nerves. This was his element, his home turf. He belonged amidst the trees, so why did the Great Forest cause him such discomfort? Knox had no idea. All he knew was that he needed to keep his mind off the eerie silence.
“Where are you from?” he asked as he stepped over a fallen tree limb.
“The outside,” the Toa responded simply.
“Ah,” Knox said. “I’m assuming you mean outside of Destria and not outside as in, well, outside.”
Agnos’ only response was an agitated grunt, which the Jungle Agori took as a yes. So there is life out there.
“Are there other Agori where you come from?”
Agnos sighed heavily, obviously annoyed by Knox’s pestering. “Look, all you need to know about me is that I’m a Toa, and that I’m here to help. Knowing anything more could put you in harms way, and that is not acceptable. So drop it, for your own good.”
“Fine,” the green armored Agori muttered, frustrated with his failure.
The pair continued to trek through the dense foliage, Agnos relentlessly chopping away at anything that crossed his path while Knox followed in silence. Neither said a word, despite the chill that the lack of noise sent up their spines.
Knox massaged his injured shoulder worriedly as he walked, a pained expression on his face. He knew the contact was probably not helping, but it eased the pain that had begun to flare up again. Whatever painkiller Agnos had used was beginning to wear off. Soon it would be too much, and Knox would collapse again.
Suddenly the trees disappeared, replaced by a short stretch of grassy earth that ran forward about five yards before the soil gave way to paved road. Knox let out a sigh of relief, but his rejoicing was cut short by another wave of pain emanating from his wound. His sigh turned into a gasp, and he stumbled forward. Agnos turned just in time, and the red warrior caught the injured Agori before he hit the ground.
“You okay?” the larger being asked calmly as he helped Knox to his feet.
The Jungle Agori nodded, but he had to keep telling himself that it was true. The walk had strained him, and he needed medical attention badly. But there were no carts or cars in sight, and the sun was beginning to set in the western sky.
Agnos looked up, yellow eyes scanning the road for any travelers before reaching into the pouch on his belt. He pulled out a small black device, no bigger than the Agori’s palm, and pressed it into his hand. “Look,” he began, stepping back from the now upright Knox, “I’m usually not one to maintain contact with people I meet, but it’s lonely out here in the forest. So if you ever need me, just push that button and I’ll come after you.” He turned to go, and then glanced over his shoulder. “But don’t use it unless it’s urgent. I’d hate to waste a day walking through the Forest for nothing.”
Knox grinned weakly at the comment as the red warrior ducked back into the trees. The Agori watched him go until he was out of sight, and then opened his hand. Resting in his palm was a small black fob, smooth as a pebble and perfectly symmetrical except for a single, fingertip sized button in the center of one side. He slipped the device into his belt and then staggered towards the road.
It was not long before a pair of yellow headlights appeared down the road, just as the sun began to sink below the earth. The Agori at the wheel had quite the shock upon seeing the ragged Knox waving weakly with his good arm, but he pulled over anyways.
Knox clambered into the passenger seat, collapsing into the soft leather after closing the door. “Venox Memorial Hospital,” he breathed to the startled Water Agori before his face contorted in pain once again.
The blue armored Agori nodded vigorously, slamming his foot down on the gas. The vehicle launched forward into the night, leaving twin skid marks on the graying pavement.
They broke at least half the rules in the Driver’s Manual on the ride to the hospital. The Water Agori was clearly disturbed by the injured stranger sitting next to him, and they did not slow until they pulled up to the Hospital.
Knox thanked the Water Agori, tossing a widget onto the passenger’s seat before staggering inside. The nurses rushed the injured Agori into urgent care, plugging him into their humming machines and whatever else they thought necessary. Normally Knox would protest such treatment, but he was spent, and it was all he could do to block out the pain, let alone speak. So he lay there in a daze, the activity around him blurred an unclear.
The Agori did a double take. Why was his vision clouded? Why was everything so…convoluted? The answer came to him instantly. The Doctors had sedated him. He would loose consciousness in the next few second and then the surgeons would do who knows what to his shoulder.
Dammit all, was the Agori’s last conscious thought before the drugs kicked in, and his world dissolved into blackness.
- The character of Knox was created by BobTheDoctor27, who graciously allowed me to use him in my story. Additionally, the names Agnos, Soliad and Ferios were given to me by users -woo- and Jahoan17 during the Son of the Suns Naming Contest in May, 2013.
- An unnamed Agori assassin
- The Destrian Military
- Priests of the Citadel
- Raymon (Deceased)