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August 15, 2022

Demonspeaker 04

By Josh Brown

Jesse stared at Malcolm Xavier as if he'd never seen the man before despite the last couple of years they'd worked together.

Stars poked through the darkened sky, visible above thin layers of pollution. All around dilapidated buildings teetered on the brink of destruction. Two deaths had occurred mere moments ago. And this stranger that Jesse once thought he knew wanted to talk.

"Dude," Jesse said. "Dude--what the hell, dude?"

"I understand your confusion."

Confusion? Aha! If only he were so lucky.

The Order of Darius was swore to protect humankind from the creatures of the dark--creatures like Malcolm Xavier. By all rights and common sense, Jesse should be on the two-way right now reporting Xavier and his inhuman actions. Still, he didn't feel the compulsion to try to take down this man even though all his training said otherwise. No, he actually felt the need to talk, as well.

Vaguely aware of Lacy just behind him, Jesse continued to stare at Malcolm. "So tell me why I shouldn't turn you over right now."

"Several reasons, honestly. One--you wouldn't be able to even if you tried. Two--not everything is as it seems. The Order of Darius is, and will always be, on the front lines protecting humanity from the dark creatures. But that war is not only fought by humans. Many people--some like me, some different--work within the ranks of the Order. We hide what we're capable of, sometimes what we are, so that we can continue to fight against the darkness."

Reeling. More reeling. There are others right under the Order's nose? This has to be a sick joke. "That's impossible," Jesse sputtered. "The Order doesn't allow para-humans in their ranks. Our holding area is filled with them, but they aren't allowed to wander the streets!"

"Open your eyes, Jesse. Look around you. Before you knew what your father did, before you found out about this whole other level of reality--right under your nose, I might add--you would have said the same thing had your father just up and said one day, 'By the way, son, there are demons and other creatures wandering around try to destroy the world.' Is it so hard to believe that deceit, that hidden world ends there? There are always layers. More and more layers than any of us can fathom."

"What are you?"

"That's not important. What's important--"

"Bullshit! Man, you are not going to pull that shit on me. I'm in this now. The gloves are off. No more pussyfooting around. I want to know everything or I'm going to have to tell the Order."

For a moment--and one long moment at that--Jesse thought for sure Malcolm, the one he had trusted implicitly, would strike out and kill him to protect the secret layer. Small favor that that didn't happen.

"Fair enough," Malcolm said.

So, standing there next to the van with Vince Raines body still lying where it fell from the fire escape and Lacy still standing there shocked at the turn of events, Malcolm Xavier weaved his tale.

"Several thousands of years ago, the creatures of dark grew to such a number that humanity edged dangerously close to extinction. Humans were not prepared to deal with these monsters. They lacked the ability and the knowledge to fully comprehend and battle the deadly creations that preyed upon them. So God sent His angels to the Earth to seek out warriors.

"These warriors were selected from all of humanity and given special abilities that would allow them battle the creatures, to destroy them, to save humanity from impending doom.

"For the next several centuries, these warriors fought back the hordes, drove them into the dark, removing them from the minds of the masses--eventually turning them into the subjects of myths and fairy tales.

"This was a never-ending battle, though. None of the warriors, together or apart, could fully destroy the creatures. These monsters were just as much a part of life and the world as the humans and they, too, fought with vigor to protect themselves.

"Things changed slowly, though. The creatures' numbers had dwindled so low that it seemed a possibility the warriors might actually be able to destroy them. This never happened, obviously.

"Some of the warriors received the ability to pass down powers to other others. This was necessary for many reasons. The enhanced humans were not immortal, nor were they indestructible. Many fell in battle with the creatures and many others were killed by accidents and other means. So this ability to enhance new humans was, in fact, needed.

"As more time passed, several generations of warriors rose and fell. With each new generation, attitudes changed. Views and concepts altered. The warriors began to wonder why they hid--why they battled. They were just as much a part of the dark as the creatures they attempted to kill. Corruption set in. These guardians of humanity fell from their origins of holy splendor, some becoming allies with the creatures. Others just abandoned their cause, using their gifts for greed.

"This was around the time the creatures began to grow in numbers again. The growth was slow but steady. Soon skirmishes with the humans brought back the fears and reality of the other side of the veil that covered their eyes. Before the numbers grew too large to handle, the humans, now much more equipped and willing to deal with the threat, formed the first incarnation of the Order of Darius.

"It didn't take long for them to discover much about the guardian warriors and their fall from humanity. It was then that they decided--an order that remains even today--to not allow any unnatural human to be a part of the Order for fear of corruption filling the heart of any enhanced man that may at first be willing to help.

"Not all of these guardians, however, grew cold and indifferent. Several remains loyal to the original cause. Perhaps it was luck, perhaps it was divine intervention--either way, both sides of the new guardian warriors were equipped with the ability to create new warriors. Neither vanished because of this."

Jesse ran a hand through his hair before asking, "I'm assuming you're one of the good ones?"

"You assume correct. Thirty years ago Gregory recruited me into the Order. He trained me. He mentored me. He prepared me for my rebirth."

"Gregory? He's one of them?"

"No. Gregory is not one of them."

Jesse frowned. "But he knew about them?"

"Yes. It was his job to find potential warriors. He saw such potential in me that he trained me personally."

"How high up does this go?"

"It's not my place to tell you this--"

Jesse threw his hands in the air. "Not the runaround again! Just tell me."

"It goes fairly high."

"Who rebirthed you, then?"

"Your father."

***

Malcolm Xavier knelt beside Vince Raines crumpled body.

After shocking Jesse with his last tidbit of information, Malcolm brought Lacy over to Vince and left Jesse at the van to contemplate all he'd said. Almost immediately, the young man jumped into the driver's seat and just sat there, staring out the window. Occasionally the horn beeps as Jesse pounds his head against it, but for the most part he seemed to be taking the news well.

Malcolm didn't tell Jesse that his training led him toward a guardianship role, as well--he'd heard enough for now.

"Is he dead?" Lacy asked, unwilling to look at Vince's body.

Blood seeped out of the bullet holes in each of Vince's hands. The fall did him in, though; his body lay twisted, wrecked by the impact with the concrete.

"Not if I can help it," Malcolm said.

He placed his hands on Vince's chest and closed his eyes. The power inside of him grew stronger, oozing from his palms and into the body of Vince Raines. Outwardly, nothing visible happened. Inwardly, though, Malcolm felt the raw energy leaving him to reconstruct the mangled bones.

Vaguely aware of Lacy's eyes slicing through his skull, Malcolm concentrated, willing the energy to fully repair the damage it had sustained. In his mind's eye he witnessed the shattered fragments of bone pulling together. He watched as shards fused together, returning the bone to whole. New skin grew over the holes in Vince's hands. Then the power binding the two men together heated into a powerful frenzy as it drew from Malcolm's soul in order to pull Vince fully back into his body. He had been dying, his soul leaving to venture into the afterlife.

When finished, Malcolm sat back on his haunches and sighed. Such healing tore years from his life, but the necessity was there. Vince's body and mind after this would be much stronger, able to deal with the voices.

A soft gasp escaped Vince's lips. He sat up into the arms of Lacy as she dove at him, sobbing.

Malcolm turned away to give them privacy, walking toward the van. The horn beeped a few times and he saw Jesse once more banging his forehead into the steering wheel.

At Malcolm's approach, Jesse jumped out of the van.

"How could he not tell me?" Jesse asked, his face a contorted mask of confusion. "All these years! Does this mean..."

"Yes," Malcolm said. "You're being prepped for eventual rebirth."

"What did you do to him?" His eyes shifted behind Malcolm toward Vince and Lacy.

"I reinforced him. He'll be recruited into the Order. His link to the demons is something the Order has sought for a long time."

"You knew he'd flip out? You knew he'd go berserk and I'd have to shoot him. You needed me to shoot him?"

Malcolm nodded. "Everything happens for a reason, Jesse. Sometimes we don't know that reason, sometimes we never find out that reason--but always we do what needs to be done."

Jesse just shook his head, either unable to deal or unwilling. Malcolm didn't know which. The only thing did know, however, was that this young man was destined for great things. The final battle lurked on the horizon and his generation would be the generation that concludes it.

For now, though, Malcolm had much to teach him.


THE END
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-08-14
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