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Incorruptible - A Fiction Work


Writer's note: I will also post a discussion thread for this, so please refrain from posting replies here :)

Discuss it here: Discussion Thread
Watch Thread: Notify Me

Enjoy! ~Mäko

With a dull thud, he landed hard on the edge of the snow-covered ledge. He lifted his head and was momentarily blinded by the sun as it sank lower on the horizon. The piercing rays fell over the rugged mountain terrain that scarred the earth below them. The snow blowing through the valleys moved and flowed, almost as if it were alive.

The two warriors were perched high above the world, the spires of Malaki visible far below. The sunlight caught each falling snowflake, making the world appear as though it were set alight by a cold fire. The breaths he heaved danced in the wind as they were whisked away from his mouth on the swift currents of the biting winter blizzard. But he wasn't concerned with the beauty.

She had to die.

Grunting, he stood with leaden legs and faced his adversary. Again they clashed, their weapons moving with practiced ease. It was a deadly song as old as time itself, threatening and beautiful to the ears of a seasoned warrior. Their silver-white swords clashed, each time emitting a metallic hiss. His hands stung from the reverberation, even through his padded gloves. Sparks jumped through the thin air and were swept away into the forming blizzard. Another icy gust of wind knocked him off-balance. He stumbled but quickly regained his footing and pressed on.

Both of them knew the penalty for failure. It had been drilled into them in the Academy on occasions too numerous to count. But now, hidden from the protective gaze of their mentors, the stakes were much higher. Their blades met again and again; each time the energized metal would rebound with the same odd sound. They matched each other move-for-move, striking with determination, attacking with fervor. Their weapons locked and they drew close, their faces mere inches from each other. Frost began to ice his blade in the momentary standstill.


She had to scream to be heard above the wailing of the growing storm.

"Just tell me why!"

He detached and struck again, ignoring her demand.

She had to die.

Neither of them was capable of ripping the upper hand from the other. He lunged and she parried the blow. She slashed, leaving him barely enough time to counter with his shield. The wind was picking up, the cold tearing deeper into his core. His gloves were stiff with ice, and the hilt of his blade began to freeze to his palm, but he paid the pain no heed. He had one purpose: to kill her. He had to if his plan was going to succeed.

Another gust caught him off-guard and he struggled for firm footing on the ice. She took advantage of his unsteadiness and lunged.

His heart stopped cold.

●    ●    ●

20 years earlier.

Tau awoke shortly before dawn. He sat up slowly, so as to not wake his wife, Tahirah. Yawning, he held his place on the bedside next to her for a moment. He ran his fingers through her long black hair, smiling in affection. There weren’t many things that Tau held dear in his life, but with Tahirah there was no doubt. In his opinion, he was the luckiest man alive to be able to love and be loved by Tahirah. Still smiling, he slipped out of bed and into the washroom.

Tau was a merchant, chosen at birth for his career. He couldn't have argued with the choice, nor did he want to. He enjoyed his life as a merchant; He had constant contact with different people and made frequent escapes from the monotony of life in the capital city of Malaki. No, he thought, the Oracle could not have made a better choice.

Even though he was accustomed to early mornings, he was still tired. He took a cold shower to rid himself of his fatigue and began to shave what stubble he had let accumulate over the past few days. Between the strokes of the razor, he saw Tahirah’s reflection in the mirror. She was leaning in the door frame behind him, holding their newborn son.

Tau and Tahirah were a young couple, relatively speaking. He was twenty-three and she was twenty-one. They had been married for two short years. Their son had been conceived almost ten months ago, only when Tau felt that he was able to support a child. And on that day, Tau became a father. The sheer elation that filled Tau's chest could not have been matched in all of Malaki. But unlike then, today Tau felt apprehensive and jittery. Today was the day that he would take his son to the Oracle of Malaki so that he could be read. It would be what determined the course of the rest of the child's life.

"Are you nervous?" Tahirah’s soft voice had a note of curiosity to it.

"Slightly," he replied quietly as he rinsed his face. "Today does decide his future after all.”

He dried his face with a towel and turned to face her.

“I just want the best for him."

The child began to stir. Tahirah looked down at the tiny baby and smiled. Almost as if he sensed her happiness, he opened his eyes and smiled back at her.

"He's quite the charmer," Tau noted.

“It's because he's got your smile," Tahirah chuckled.

Tau watched the child for a moment, then gently lifted him out of the arms of his mother.

"It's a considerable trip to the Oracle. We'd best get started."

Tahirah leaned close and kissed Tau. "Of course."

He carefully placed the child in a sling and slid it over his shoulder, drawing it tight against his torso. Tau made his way through the darkened apartment and opened the door with a hiss. He hesitated in the doorway, taking a deep breath, and then stepped out onto the street.

●     ●     ●
The streets of Malaki were not full of their usual bustle this early in the morning. Fog drifted above the packed dirt streets and Tau’s breath hung in the crisp morning air as he made his way along.

The Oracle's dwelling was located in the deeper levels of Malaki, a considerable distance from Tau's home in the market district of the city. Fathers from around Malaki would bring their children to the Oracle so that they could be destined when the children were between four and six weeks old.

The Oracle was feared and respected. His only purpose was to determine a child's future profession so that the child's parents could place him in the right learning environment. The Oracle himself was an odd echo of a time before the End War where religion had bound itself to technology. The strange practices and unusual processes used by the Oracle lent skepticism to his reputation. There were many who doubted the Oracle’s predictions. But despite this, the vast majority still trusted the Oracle with their children, and if his predictions were incorrect, no one was the wiser.

As Tau made his way towards the central Vertical Transit System, the announcement holoboards that populated the streets of Malaki caught his eye; one image in particular. The new Emperor was being sworn in this afternoon, replacing Empress Dendera. His name, Tarik, scrolled along the bottom of the screen, accompanied by his portrait. Tau studied him closely. He was a brilliant figure of a man, his bronze tinted face was defined by high cheekbones and a set jaw. His facial hair was neatly trimmed; a well groomed, jet black mustache perched upon his upper lip. He had an air of authority and kindness.

Tau approved of the Academy's choice. Though Tau had chosen not to cast his own vote, Tarik would have been his first choice. Tau was sure that the new Emperor would make a strong leader and that the people of Earth would approve. Dendera, on the other hand, had not been supportive and sympathetic of the people. She had begun her reign well, but had lost focus and interest in the latter half of her twenty year term. This left jurisdiction to fall upon the weak shoulders of local governments. With the lower political systems still very much a bureaucratic nightmare, very little had been done that had been requested. Tau was glad to finally see her go.

As he drew closer to the central vertical transit system, the streets began to fill. The quiet business of the street vendors permeated the morning as they prepared for the coming day. The child stirred in his sleep as Tau stepped into the elevator. The doors closed with a hiss and then the silver capsule began its descent into the heart of Malaki.

●     ●     ●
The district the Oracle lived in was deep in the lower levels of Malaki. Sunlight only reached sparse areas along the inner ring. The rest of the district was lit by faulty pre-war lighting, casting a dim light on the narrow walkways between the buildings. Tau ducked into the Oracle's dwelling, thankful to be off the streets. Though the Enforcers did a fair job of keeping Malaki free of crime, they didn’t catch everything that occurred in poorer districts.

The streets of the district were dark, but the interior of the Oracle’s dwelling was darker still. Tau blinked as his eyes adjusted and cautiously stepped further into the darkened room, scanning for a sign of the Oracle. The low ceiling accentuated the oppressive aura of discomfort, lending the room a faint sense of malice. The walls were bare, save for sheets of black silk suspended from clasps mounted at the junction of wall and ceiling. The sheets flowed downward languidly, bunching together at the bottom, so as to hide all corners. As he continued his scan of the walls, he turned and was met with a pair of sharp blue orbs gleaming from the shadow. They struck him still, seemingly studying the depths of his being.

"Looking for someone?" A metallic voice sounded around him, speaking from the walls as not one voice, but many. The voices were cold, unfeeling, as if they did not belong to man, but machine. Tau instinctively glanced around the room, subconsciously searching for an exit. The orbs shifted and moved forward, accompanied by a shuffling sound akin to cloth rustling in the wind. The sound refocused Tau's attention. The merchant once again found himself eye to eye with the blue orbs, only this time they were less than an arm's reach away. The glowing spheres were sheltered behind the menacing visage of an expressionless silver mask. "Speak,” the voices commanded, “why have you come?"

Tau stammered, startled by the creature that stood before him. "I...I’m here to have my s...son read."

The figure gestured silently as a black pedestal slid up in the center of the room. Tau unslung the wrap from his shoulder and placed the child gently on the pedestal.

"Step back," the metallic voices rang.

The creature stepped up to the pedestal and took a silver blade from inside his slate-grey robes and laid it on the baby's chest. The blade shifted and shimmered like smoke, it's true shape hard to discern. While Tau was focused on the knife, the figure began to chant, the voices echoing eerily. He spoke in the Old Tongue, the words both mysterious and powerful.

"Nuremell, antisnea aukhreoth. Hulmwenai shemnhiell."

The blade was glowing now, and Tau could feel the power it emanated humming in the room.  The figure took the blade in his hands, raised it above his head and struck.

The keen blade pierced the merchant's son's chest, and the child wailed in shock. Tau had thoughts of stepping toward his son, but the power of what was happening held him in his place. Rather than blood, fire poured from the wound. It swirled around the pedestal and covered the child, obscuring him from Tau's view. His shock turned to curiosity as the masked figure underwent a new transfiguration. The figure's mask melted away, revealing a withered man as old as time itself, the Oracle of Malaki. As Tau studied the man’s face intently, it slowly lost its age and became new and young. After a few tense moments, the man sighed and ceased to chant; The transfiguration he had undergone reversed itself in a manner of seconds. His face turned to silver, and became a mask again. The fire receded from around the pedestal, revealing that the blade had disappeared and there was no wound.

Silence fell as the child quieted; one word appeared briefly on the child's forehead and then disappeared.

"Incredible. Your son is one of a special few, and the sign that appeared is one that I have never seen before," the Oracle said.

"Special, what do you mean?" Tau asked, overwhelmed by all that had just occurred.

The Oracle disregarded the question and busied himself recording something in a holobook. As the merchant still stood, bewildered, the Oracle ceased his writing and began to usher Tau towards the door.

"They will come for him in the span of three days. Have a name prepared for him by that time," the Oracle said tersely.

"Wait, what do you mean by special? Who are 'they'?" He frantically asked the Oracle as he was slowly forced through the door.

"If you will, I have more pressing matters to attend to." He placed the child in Tau's arms and abruptly slammed the door.

●     ●     ●


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