CB Notes: Well, sorry for no notes on the last chapter, weren't any reviews and besides Fuse is mostly self-explanatory. Thank you James for the review, glad you liked it. In this chapter we get introduced to one of the 3 ancient Shevat Sages and learn a bit about Sean having an obvious past. This one is a little longer but it does deal with an important event.
Chapter 9: Slayer of God
Sean looked around him, the darkness of the cavern enclosing everything in sight. He saw the pilot of the red Gear get out of the cockpit and walk towards Weltall.
"Alright you, get
out!" ordered Bart. Sean decided he may as well so that this guy
could see once and for all that he wasn't a soldier of Aveh. As he
stepped out, Bart's right eye widened. "You….you ain't a
soldier!" he exclaimed. Sean rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"I TOLD you that before, but no, why don't we just attack first and verity our target later. Yeah, that's a REAL good strategy." He said sarcastically.
"Hey! If you had just given me the Gear from the start, we wouldn't be in this mess." Bart explained, looking around him at the cavern.
"Wrong! If you hadn't impulsively attacked we wouldn't be in this mess." Sean replied.
"Yeah well, judging from the looks of it," Bart said, changing the subject. "we're in some sort of excavation site." Sean looked around him and it did appear to be true. They were in some sort of massive pit, with rusty machinery such as cranes, diggers and rock crushers lying around them in haphazard formation. "My Gear got a little banged up in the fall. Looks like it'll take two of us to get out of here though. Now that I know you're not a Shakhan crony, truce?" asked Bart, extending his hand. Sean thought a moment.
"Well, alright, just don't be so impulsive next time." He said shaking Bart's hand.
"Bartholomew Fatima, leader of the Yggdrasil pirates, you can call me Bart, and this here's my Gear Brigandier." Sean's eyes widened a bit.
"Fatima? You mean you're….related to the royal family?" asked Sean. Bart looked down at the ground.
"Pfft, yeah I guess you could say that. I'm next in line for the throne of Aveh, at least now I am since my father, the last king, was killed by that bastard Shakhan, and you?" Bart asked, looking back at him.
"Sean Athanasios. I'm….well, just a guy from Lahan Village. That's my Gear Weltall. Well, I guess you could say I'm borrowing it from the Kislev Empire." Sean motioned to Weltall.
"Borrowing it eh? Heh, you know, I hate this stupid war. Aveh and Kislev have been at each other's throats for as long as I can remember, and Shakhan isn't helping the situation at all. The war has only gotten worse ever since he took over, plus he has those Gebler geeks backing him up. Say, what's that?" he asked, pointing toward a shaft of light. Sean gazed over at it.
"Looks like…a dwelling…someone lives down here?" asked Sean in wonderment.
"Heh, well whaddya know? Why not check it out, whoever it is may know a way outta here." Bart sauntered off toward the crudely built hut. Sean wasn't so sure if it was a good idea, but he figured he may as well anyways since there weren't really too many options. As he headed over, he noticed a giant, rusted iron gate on his right. The thing was easily as tall as the cave itself. He wondered exactly what it was for. The hut was small, carved into the side of the cavern and also built with some metal parts, probably scavenged from the machinery lying around. Bart banged his fist on a metal sheet plate.
"Anyone home? I see some lights on but…" he called into the hut. An old, cracked voice called back from inside.
"Yes, come in, I heard your Gears fall from above. I don't have many visitors these days, please, come in." Bart looked at Sean, shrugged, and headed inside, followed by Sean. Sean looked around. The hut was dug into the cavern wall itself, and was pretty much a tunnel. Some tapestries hung from the walls, and there was a cast iron stove in a niche off to the right. At the far end of the tunnel Sean could see shelves and a desk and what appeared to be a small cot. An old man sat in the niche next to the stove. This man looked incredibly ancient to Sean. He had a cracked, wrinkled face with big, bushy white eyebrows. Thick, messy white hair flowed down from his head to his mid-back. He was dressed in a brown tunic type suit that had some sort of blue design emblazoned on it. He turned towards them and rose slowly to his feet, his eyes showed much wisdom in them, and his haggard face took on a smile. Sean noted that his face was quite hawk like, but he could tell this man had great knowledge within him.
"Welcome travelers, welcome, to my humble home. I haven't had visitors in oh.." he paused for a minute, thinking. "35 years. Yes, so good to see you. Please, I was just about to serve my afternoon meal. Oh, pardon me, nearly forgot, my name is Isaac Balthasar" He said, coming over to them. Sean and Bart both introduced themselves.
"Say old man, you sure got an impressive collection here. Where'd it come from?" asked Bart as they followed him towards the back of the tunnel.
"Oh this? Heh" he chuckled, waving his hand. "It's nothing really. I've been alive for a long time you know. Oh! Speaking of which, these skulls that you see." He gestured toward one of the shelves. They stopped in front of it. The skulls seemed to show the evolution of humanity, as they went from near ape like to far smaller and more humanoid in shape. "Don't you know? It's very strange. These skulls only go back 10,000 years or so, and then they just stop. Why do you think that is? It's almost of if humanity didn't even exist on this planet before 10,000 years. According to the creation myth, God created man in his image, and placed him in a paradise, the Garden of Eden. Man however, came to be sinful, even to the point of creating giants to rebel against God. These giants, or Gears, were supposedly made so that humanity wouldn't have to rely on a god anymore. God of course cast man out of Eden, and placed him here, on this rock. Man paid for his depravity, but the legend goes that God was forced into a sleep, and still lies in paradise, someplace at the bottom of the ocean. Of course, it's just a myth, and I'm sorry if I'm filling your head with such rubbish. Myths like these should hardly ever be taken seriously." He told them, as they arrived at his desk in the back.
"Hey old man, what's that crest on your tunic?" asked Bart, pointing at it. Balthasar looked down.
"Oh this? Eheh, it is the crest of Shevat your highness." He said.
"You knew? Man, guess my name is pretty well known in these parts. Say, you wouldn't happen to know anything about the Treasure of Aveh would you?" he asked.
"Mmm, the Treasure of Aveh, it is a great treasure, said to be of much power, supposedly buried somewhere. I believe you need the Fatima Jasper to find it, am I correct?" asked Balthasar, eyeing him.
"That part you are correct. It's gotta be a Gear! I just know it! My ancestors sealed off that treasure until it was needed but…I've been searching for it forever. Oh, what's Shevat by the way?" he asked, coming back to the subject.
"Oh…just a far off place. Say, you wouldn't mind letting me have a look at your Gears would you? I admire them so much and have spent a good deal of my life as a Gear savant. I love the sound of a good Gear walking across the desert up above." He said, a happy expression on his face.
"I don't see why not, do you Sean?" asked Bart, turning to him. Sean shook his head, coming back after his head was filled with all this information.
"No, no, not at all, be our guests." He said, smiling. A gleam came into Balthasar's eyes.
"Good! It won't take but a few minutes, while I'm gone, please, make yourself at home here." He got up from his desk and headed past them.
"Oh!" spoke Bart. "Can you help us get out of here?"
"Oh! Yes of course! I'll open the old floodgate for you. Pass through the gate, you'll come to a long tunnel, follow that to get out, it'll lead you straight to the surface." Balthasar said with a smile, and continued on his way.
"So….what do you think about all that that he said?" asked Sean.
"Heh, who can say for sure. My main concern is finding that treasure. I mean, I've been battling Shakhan nearly forever, but I've never held the upper hand. My ancestors left that treasure for the Kingdom should it ever be in strife, and well, now is sure as hell as good a time as any." As Bart and Sean talked, they heard the rumbling of the floodgate being opened.
"Guess that means we can leave soon. What's your take on the old man, what's he down here for?" Sean said as they started walking toward the entrance of the hut.
"Who knows? Old people are batty if you ask me. I mean heck, look at old Maison." Before Bart could continue, a blood curdling scream came from the cavern, and they both knew at once that it had come from Balthasar. Sean drew his sword, and together they took off into the cavern, heading to where Balthasar was standing, looking up at Weltall.
"Whose Gear is this? Wait! It's yours!" he said in an acid tone. His right arm shot out and grabbed Sean's chin in an icy grip, jerking his head around to Balthasar's face. Sean was staring into Balthasar's now cold eyes. "You! You have his face! It IS you! You're the Slayer of God!" he let Sean go roughly and turned around, facing both of them. "Leave here, and NEVER return. Don't EVER let me catch you around here again! I went ahead and tuned up your Gears and opened the gate for you, now go!" He said, pointing at them in an almost demonic way, his warped fingers thrust out before him. He turned and stormed off for his hut.
"What in the? Slayer of God? What…what did he mean?" asked Sean.
"Don't know, don't wanna know, let's just jet out of here man! That guy gives me the creeps." Bart responded and headed for Brigandier. Sean got inside Weltall and together they headed into the tunnel. Sean took the time to familiarize himself with the controls, and after 15 minutes had gotten everything down, including the jet thrusters. As they neared the exit to the tunnel, they could see daylight from the far opening. As they headed forward however, a loud roaring noise came from behind them. Both turned their Gears around to see a massive metallic colored Gear heading toward them, massive jets on its back belching out flame as it slowly landed in front of them. Balthasar's voice shouted from over the cockpit speaker.
"Slayer of God, you will not escape! For the sake of this planet, I will destroy you!"
"It's that crazy old man again!" shouted Bart, getting Brigandier ready for combat.
"Don't bother to resist, my Gear, Calamity, is far superior to both of your Gears combined. I will make this quick" he said, smashing Calamity's two massive fists together. Sean could see that Calamity was going to be no easy pushover. The thing was twice the size of both their Gears, had heavy metal plating all over it that had to be several feet thick, and in general looked pretty impervious. Sean couldn't see any weapons, but Calamity's fists were easily the size of Weltall's chest, and they'd probably have no problem punching clean through both Brigandier and Weltall.
"Come on Sean! Let's teach grandpa here some manners!" Bart shouted as he dove at Calamity. Sean brought Weltall into play as well. They split up, coming in from two sides, but Balthasar brought up Calamity's short, stocky arms and swiped Weltall aside, knocking it on it's back. Brigandier fared no better. Dodging the shot, Bart next found himself up against Calamity's torso. His thick whips shot out and impacted across Calamity's front. The attack would've shattered any normal Gear, but Calamity had not a single scratch on it. Balthasar then brought up Calamity's right arm, and a small rocket engine fired, shooting off the hand. It headed straight for Brigandier and struck it right in the center, throwing it too to the ground. The rocket fist returned to Calamity's arm and reattached itself.
"You see! Your attacks are pointless! Calamity is truly one of a kind! There is no hope for you!" Balthasar cried as he started walking towards them.
"Dammit! What are we gonna do!" Bart called out to Sean. Sean knew that in about 10 seconds they'd both be dead unless…
"Stand back Bart! I'm…gonna try something!" Sean shouted, and brought Weltall back to its feet.
"You crazy! We both saw what that thing can do! Its armor is so damn thick that nothing we have will harm it. On top of that, it uses its bulk and weight to make its attacks more effective. There's nothing we can.."
"Shut up and watch!" Sean cut him off and powered up the boosters. He clenched his teeth. He had only one shot at this. He knew if he failed, he and Bart would be as good as scrap metal. Calamity lumbered toward him. He just had to wait for the right moment….THERE! Sean felt as if he wasn't himself anymore, and he launched Weltall straight at Calamity. As Calamity's fist came up, Sean caught it as it came down.
"What's this! Not possible! NO ONE is able to stop an attack like that!" Balthasar exclaimed in shock. With a strength he didn't even know he had, Sean twisted Calamity's arm, and to Balthasar's horror, it shattered before his very eyes. "No! This…this can't be!" he cried out as Sean swept around Calamity. He concentrated hard, building up this inner strength within him. With one, mighty blow, he threw a hook at Calamity from Weltall's right arm and to his amazement, punched clean through Calamity's armored torso. Balthasar let out a cry as Calamity exploded spectacularly under him, his seat launching itself out of Calamity's cockpit in time to avoid the awesome fireworks. A parachute opened up on Balthasar's back, and he glided to the ground, next to the flaming ruins of his Gear. He collapsed to the floor of the tunnel and before he could move, Sean was standing over him, his sword to Balthasar's neck. Balthasar closed his eyes.
"Just as I thought….I could not defeat you. You truly are him. Make it quick, I've lived far too long in this world, I do not fear death now."
"Tell me something old man, why do you think I'm a threat? I would never intentionally hurt anyone. What's this Slayer of God business?" Sean asked, feeling himself return to normal. Balthasar opened his eyes.
"You mean…you don't…wish to destroy this planet?" he asked, confused.
"Of course not! I don't know what your problem is but I am not what you seem to think I am." He responded.
"I…I….perhaps you're not like him. Perhaps maybe this time…look." He said with finality. "You're heading back with Bart, to his sand cruiser, I want you to pass a message along for me. Tell Veemon, he's a blue, very short dragon type thing, you'll know him when you see him, tell him, how very sorry I am for not being there when he needed me the most. Will you please tell him that for me? I'm sorry for attacking you…but you are clearly him, I..I just couldn't risk it happening again! The world was very nearly destroyed the last time it happened…I…I…oh, never mind. Just please tell good old Vee that for me, will you?" a tear glistened in Balthasar's right eye as Sean sheathed his sword and allowed him to come to his feet.
"I will old man" was Sean's simple enough response. Balthasar nodded, tears falling down his cheeks now.
"Thank you, thank you so very much. I…I hope we meet again." He said, and turned, hobbling off down the tunnel back to his hut. Sean watched him for a bit, before turning around.
"Dude, that was AWESOME! How on earth did you do that?" asked an amazed Bart as Sean climbed back into Weltall.
"I…I don't know….it was like that wasn't even me doing the fighting….I can't explain it." He said.
"You….can't explain…what? Well, whatever, man, you've got some serious moves." Bart said as they came out of the tunnel back into the glaring sunlight of the Aveh desert. Sean squinted, looking off in the distance. "Those two mountains….Doc told me about them…is that….Bledavik?" asked Sean, gazing at the two mountain peaks in the distance.
"Yep, that's Bledavik alright. Where I was born. The royal capital, we'll have to head there later, but for now, I picked up the Yggdrasil's signal, I think they're comin to get us, let's just hold tight here for now." Bart said.
"Sure" Sean replied, thinking about the mysterious Isaac Balthasar and his message.