A/N: I am NOT HAPPY with this chapter. At all. I think I moved stuff too fast. Whatever. At least it only took me about three weeks this time – pretty good, considering my track record. Or was it four? I think it was three. Whatever. Enjoy.
In which we begin from the Point of the View of the gifted Artemis de Fole, and he wields a hidden power that he bears. Later, it shall be so that the Last Maitreya still to live on this side of the Veils of Death shall awaken.
At once, Artemis was targeted by at least ten separate Neutrino blasts, which fired at him simultaneously. Somehow, though, He dodged, and they shot the ground behind where he had stood.
The moment of truth had come. All the lies must now be cast off, the truth to be revealed. He held out his left hand as the second set of rounds shot at him and a silvery, translucent barrier appeared in the air before him and his party. The lasers bounced off of it like a mirror.
As he did this, he formed his right hand into a shape like a claw. A spark of silver light appeared in the cage his fingers made. It grew until it was like an orb of silver flame and then he threw it through the shield at the LEPShadow agents. It exploded at one of their feet, throwing the special-ops. trooper to the ground.
The LEPShadow agents were all wearing some sort of black jumpsuit, with plates of green armor anywhere that there wasn't a joint. Their Neutrinos weren't the typical pistol-shape, but instead were as long in proportion to their bodies as a human's sniper rifle was to a man.
Not that it made any difference. Artemis smirked like a vampire as he knocked out two more of the fairies with a silver lightning-bolt. Then, suddenly, Constance ran past him and out of the shield. Before he could stop her, a pain ripped through his skull. He screamed wordlessly and fell to his knees, his eyes squeezed. He felt slight stings as the Neutrino bolts hit him, but they were no more than an inconvenience.
Suddenly a voice spoke in his mind, and pain racked through every fiber of his being with each syllable. A child? A mere child thinks he is strong enough to use the power of Intelligantis? Fool. He is long dead – and so now will you be. I thank you for giving me this chance. Look now uponthe ending of the world.
Artemis' eyes opened of their own accord. His body picked itself up. His mind still burned so badly that he couldn't do anything, but something else was doing it all.
His hands came together and formed an orb of energy. He launched it at a LEPShadow agent. It seeped into him and he fell like a marionette with cut strings.
Artemis couldn't think. The pain was too great. As the world darkened, the voice spoke again. Yes, it whispered. Yes. Go to sleep and give me your body. Give me the strength of Intelligantis!
9:28 AM, California, inside the Hall of Frond in Mount Whitney – Point of View of Constance Contraire.
Constance ran forward toward the massive diamond that stood right in the center of the hall. That was it; it had to be – the Diamond Tomb of Temporaiat Maitreya. Suddenly, the strange things Artemis was doing changed. He was doing them a lot more rapidly, and they felt more dangerous. Somehow Constance felt instinctively that she was running out of time.
She came up to the Tomb and touched it. Nothing happened. She beat on it with her fists, screaming, "Open up! Wake up!" The cold crystal stayed cold and unmoving.
Foolish child, said a voice behind her – like Artemis', and yet not Artemis'. She whirled. Artemis' hand was alight with silver flame and his eyes – not blue any longer, nor hazel, nor even human eyes, but looking like orbs of solid silver metal in his sockets. He is dead, hissed the horribly altered voice. He fell in the Cataclysm, and your hope is an illusion. He reached out his burning hand. Constance glared at him, fighting her fear. Die, Mortal! screamed the thing that had been Artemis, and flame shot forth from his hand.
She heard her friends shout, 'No!' behind him as she squeezed her eyes shut. I'm sorry, she thought. I couldn't wake him up.
And then, instead of impact, there was a sharp crack! followed by a sound which, were it written down, would look a little like fzztssss… Constance opened her eyes slowly. There was a glowing blue barrier around her, rippling like water. She turned slowly.
The Diamond Tomb had split cleanly in two, and the jackal-like body that had been sealed within had one spur-bearing paw held out, holding the strange shield in place. It was blinking its red eyes rather rapidly and its mouth hung slightly open. Then it opened wider in a yawn. Not the best wake-up call, a deep, gruff voice said, seeming to pass into Constance's mind without bothering to go through her ears. But I have had worse.
Temporaiat looked down at her with something like a smile on its canine face. Any idea how long I have slept? She could only shake her head in reply. Pity, murmured the Maitreya. I suppose such is the way of it. It – or rather he, for its voice was clearly male – looked across the hall at Artemis. Hello, fiend, he said, and how his voice and face were filled with hatred. Now, I see two ways in which this can be resolved. You way choose which is taken. Release the Mortal and be gone from this place and this land forever, or I will destroy you.
Artemis' teeth bared. "The strength of Intelligantis is mine! It dwarfs your own!"
Temporaiat snorted. Even at the height of his power and the waning of mine, I could have swept the halls of the Citadel with him, he said. I am the stronger in battle.
Artemis frowned. He was of the order of Elemeth, the highest of the Maitreya. His power—
Lay in the strength of his mind, Temporaiat finished. A strength you do not possess.
Artemis didn't reply with words. He – or rather the demon behind his eyes – merely hissed and charged.
In an instant, a strange blade of bright blue metal in the shape of a flattened double helix appeared in Temporaiat's paw (though how he carried it was a mystery, considering his lack of a thumb). He leapt forward and met Artemis halfway with a sweeping uppercut. Artemis' hands burst into silver fire and he caught the blade as it swung. Sparks of electric energy flew as the silvery energy met the blue metal.
Temporaiat leapt back and spun, swinging his blade in a deadly arc at the perfect height to decapitate Artemis. The boy-demon blocked it with a wrist which flowed with energy and struck forward with a lightning-fast punch. Temporaiat blocked with his palm and whirled, slamming Artemis in the face with a spinning kick – not the kind that shamed martial artist everywhere to use, but veritable steam engine of rotating force.
Artemis flew back into the wall, and there was a sharp snap as he hit it. The wall cracked around him, but he seemed nearly unharmed. He stood up, teeth bared. Curse you, Lord of Time! Today you die!
He moved his hands in a way that described a line and silver energy flowed from his fingers, coalescing into the linear shape and forming into a blade of silver metal. Artemis' right hand grasped the hilt and swung the blade about so that its tip pointed into Temporaiat's chest. It is over, Angel! he screamed and leapt.
Temporaiat ducked and rolled under the strike with a practiced ease that belied centuries of practice and swung. The helix blade sank into the small of Artemis' back. The boy screamed, and the demon in his screamed with him. Constance clapped her hands over her ears as the horrible, shuddering cacophony of noise – it was like the pained screams of a hundred cats slowly roasting.
Then Artemis fell to the ground, quaking spasmodically. Temporaiat stood up. Constance ran forward.
There was no blood on Artemis' back, nor could she see any sign of the place where the blade had gone in. She knelt down beside the shaking boy, looking, trying to find any mark to show what was happening. She was joined there by Holly almost instantly. "What happened?" The Elf asked, her voice shaking, but only slightly – she was, after all, an Elf, and Constance knew she didn't want to lose her air of practiced calm in front of the Society.
He tried to wield a power above his station, said the Maitreya above them. And a demon of the Void crept in and claimed it. The backlash has nearly destroyed his mind, but the boy is strong. He may very likely pull through this darkness.
"You didn't kill him?" Reynie asked. Constance stood up and saw that he was looking up at Temporaiat questioningly.
Nay, young one, said Temporaiat, and a strange growling sound issued from him. Constance almost flinched, but then she realized he was laughing. I doubt I could in any case. Intelligantis' strength always lay, after his mind, in his abilities to cheat death. He was one of the last to fall.
"Who was Intelligantis?" Sticky asked. He seemed to be standing a little ways away, watching both Artemis and Temporaiat warily. "Was he a Maitreya?"
Aye, said Temporaiat, nodding his canine head. Angel of Thought, he was. And a greater Maitreya I have seldom seen. He was very powerful, and took the form of one of your kind. His color was silver, and his Codex was Thrӕlin.
Codex… Constance thought. She ran over to the Tomb and read the engravings upon the pedestal. Again she was able to read them. "Yours was Diraia, right?" she asked, turning to him.
Is, not was, he said. The Codex of a Maitreya is one of our greatest sources of strength. It is a weapon, a tool of magic, and an archive all at once. This, he said, throwing the helix-shaped blade into the air so it flipped once before landing back in his palm, Is Diraia, the Timesword. In reality it can be any weapon I choose, but my choice is a blade, just as my opposite chooses a spear.
"Your opposite?" Reynie asked quickly. "What do you mean?"
As I am Angel, said Temporaiat, So Time also has a Demon. Tham'Lar, he is called. I wonder if he still lives after these many Ӕons. I hope he does.
"Why?" asked Constance in surprise. "He's your enemy, isn't he?"
Indeed, said Temporaiat, But as a wise man once said, 'Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer', and as another said, 'Is not a noble friend the best thing in the world, and a noble enemy the next best?' We Angels and Demons fought for many ages of the world – one does not live in extended contact – even if it be conflict – with another for that amount of time without bonds forming. He was not a friend, but he was an enemy who was near to my heart.
"I don't get what you mean, and I've lived longer than anyone else here," said Holly.
A century is but the passing of an hour to a Maitreya of the ages, said Temporaiat simply.
"I'm sure we all have questions," said Artemis suddenly, eyes still closed, "But, Maitreya, I might suggest that now isn't the time to answer all of them."
"Maybe you can answer one of mine, Mud Boy," growled Holly, holding her Neutrino to the Irish genius' forehead. "What the D'Arvit was that about? You tried to D'Arvitting kill Constance!"
"An error in calculations on my part," Said Artamis flatly. "And worse, one I should have foreseen years ago. But I am not a traitor to this team, Holly. That I can promise you."
Indeed, said Temporaiat. He did not create the darkness, nor did he knowingly wield it. Such traps have ensnared even the greatest of men, and even the mightiest of other, greater races. The boy is not to blame. And he is quite right – we must leave this place with all haste that may be contrived.
"What's the rush?" Reynie asked. "The LEPShadow agents are all down, thanks to Artemis."
Temporaiat blinked. What…? he muttered quietly. Then his crimson eyes blazed. By the Hand! Get out of my head! The Maitreya shook his jackal's skull form side to side, and suddenly, a strange black mist crept from his eyes, nose, and ears. Everyone except Artemis, who was still laying down, stepped backwards and away involuntarily.
Temporaiat drew Diraia and pointed it at the mist which was holding together in an indistinct shape. And what is the great hurry, Demon? he snarled.
That, hissed another voice, seeming to emanate from the mist. Is far from the greeting that befits an old friend. I am ashamed of you, Temporaiat. I have come through thought and time to meet with you this day, and left my body broken and dying on the stairs of iron that I might aid you now. Some thanks this is.
Temporaiat's brow furrowed. Name yourself! he demanded.
Fool, said the voice, and it sounded like a low, almost feline purr now, deep as the sea and unmistakably male, You ought to be able to guess. I am he that fought by your side against Thundalin in the battle at Tartarus Alpha. I am he who you fell in battle to protect at Ginnungagap by the Eye of Odin and who later breathed life back into you with that Codex's power. I will not name myself. You name me.
Diraia clattered to the ground as the Maitreya dropped it. Tempraiat rushed forward as though to embrace the mist-creature, but then seemingly remembered it's lack of solidity. I feared you fallen, my old friend. It has been far too long, Fӕrin Maitreya.
Yep! Here's another one of my little wee Angel people. Now, a little answer to a question you probably didn't even know you had:
Q: Why is Temporaiat supposed to be the 'Last Maitreya' if, actually, there's still, Thundazi, Fӕrin, Majusri, and a few others left?
A: Well, they're dead. None of them are, in the strictest sense, alive. They're ghosts (or possibly AIs, if you watch Red vs Blue). This stuff all went down in the Cataclysm which will probably get mentioned a lot more from here on. Who knows – it may even get explained!
Now, please review after you read! I need people to tell how good/bad I'm doing to fix it! I'm planning two novels right now, and since I don't want to do that at anything but my best, I'm taking CC more seriously than ever. I need as much help as I can get – and you can all help me get that by just taking a few moments out of your day to review. I'd be much obliged if you did so.
Even if you don't though, thanks for reading!