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The Gathering Speed, Car Twenty-Five
Tettra awoke to the shock and pain. Every breath caused a lancing of pain from her leg. She was still on the train, the screeching of gunfire rang out alongside the cries of digitally distorted voices.
Laser fire. Pulse fire. Cannon fire.
All of it echo around her as an orchestral din.
A shrieking scream cried out and was silenced by a roaring brrrrt of tempest cannon fire.
“Knights Hospitaller. Pyron.” Tettra mumbled.
She looked up towards the car that had Marlene and her body seized in pain, causing her to shriek. The pain of it was intense, even moving her head disturbed the ankle. It was bent at a ninety-degree angle, a pool of blood had formed. A human possessed demon flew through the smoke and ash, crashing against the bulkhead, going still. Marlene ran through the smoke, where arrogant madness was before, only terror remained on her face. She turned, firing several rounds into the smoke before leaping over Tettra, ignoring her. The imps in the hall had all become ash from the spell wind she cast.
“Stay away you devil traitor!” She shrieked.
A man sauntered through the smoke. Medium height, yet imposing. He wore Church vestments, in a similar fashion to Lazarus except it was all black, with hints of internal armor. He held a phthalo blue cane in one hand adorned with a blue polygon cut sapphire. He walked with what appeared to be a limp, favoring the cane. He wore long armored cloth boots, with his hands covered with thick armored cloth gloves, the sleeves of which went past his wrists. What was most striking was the white mask he wore. It looked like a long bird’s beak, completely covering his face. There were goggles built into the mask, made of black glass. He wore a black flat top round brimmed hat. He walked with a nonchalant limp like this woman was nothing to him.
She shrieked at him and fired again.
Tettra heard him say a word in a bored fashion,
The mask distorted his voice, giving it a digital edge to it. He leaned on his cane with both hands as the rounds Marlene fired, all of them winking out as they got close to Pyron Dethos, the Suffering.
He said nothing apart from that. He simply walked forward, slow and ponderous with his limp, favoring his left leg.
Pyron stopped to survey at Newman. He still didn’t move. Pyron continued and stopped as he made eye contact with Tettra. The round black glass eyes staring at Tettra was disquieting to her. She felt his gaze pressing on her. He saw her broken ankle, the demon ash and blood covering her. He trailed the massive gash in the cart, the car ceiling had fallen in, like an enormous blade sliced through the train. He cocked his head to the side. All the while Marlene was firing at him.
She could have been throwing bread crumbs at him for all the good it did.
Pyron turned and continued his slow advance towards her. She was blocked in by the roof collapse. She dropped her worthless pistol and began to charge violet energy through her hands. Pyron said another word and snapped his finger. Tettra wondered how he did that with gloved hands.
The spell backfired, electrifying Marlene with the violet feedback. It brought her to her knees, shrieking in pain and fear.
Pyron had simply stopped her from casting magic. How he did it, Tettra had little idea.
Marlene was still stunned from the magical feedback, trembling in place on her knees. She recovered and reached into her maid pouch as Pyron got ever closer. She rose up and produced the bloody dagger from before, charging the man with a shout. Pyron grabbed the dagger-wielding arm, leaving the cane balanced in place. His free hand gripped her by the face and with a push, slammed her to the ground, the wood flooring squeaking. She hit the floor with a gasp, rattling the train cart from the force of the blow. He gave out a soft kick, sending the dagger flying into the wooden wall, sticking it. He casually grabbed the still standing cane.
Marlene rolled on the ground, stunned and in pain. It wasn’t a fight, but a beating.
He kneeled down softly inspected her.
His voice was as a zen garden, like the peaceful silence of a grove.
Like a crushing finality of a black hole.
“You betrayed the Church. You betrayed Adonai. You betrayed your husband.”
He nodded at his own words, letting them hangs as men on the gallows.
“How does it feel knowing that if your loved one were here, he would be cheering for me?”
“Please…” She barely got out. He rose up, picking her up by the neck. She struggled with her depleted strength, Pyron responded with a jab to her side, causing her to go limp. He gently placed her on her knees, grabbing his cane.
“By the authority of The Third Advent Church, I find you guilty of treason. Heresy. Destruction of life. Collusion with demons. For your crimes, you will be met with total soul depletion and imprisonment until the time of Christ’s judgment.”
He pulled back his cane.
“May Adonai have mercy on your soul.”
Marlene wept softly as Pyron walked behind her, cane raised. The cane transformed with a flash and a flick to becoming a silvered phthalo blue rapier, with a silver filigree basket hilt that blossomed from the gem. Tettra’s eyes widened.
All Tettra could focus on was the agony of her ankle. Her trembling body and teary eyes made her words come out shaky.
“Wait… What about a t-trial?” Tettra rasped, already beyond her limits.
Pyron stared directly at Tettra, his gaze unfathomable behind the mask.
“But there was a trial. I have judged her, found her guilty, and now I will execute justice,” Pyron explained matter-of-factly as if the question were an odd one.
He gazed at Tettra, refusing to break eye contact. He then ran Marlene through the back with the rapier. He continued to stare back at Tettra as if making a point.
Blood began spilling from her, painting the cart floor. She let out a weak gasp as she was pinned to the train floor by the rapier’s blade. Marlene wept as she grabbed at the blade running through her chest. Her arms went weak and then went limp. Her face was etched with agony.
WIth an unfathomable regret.
Red crimson flowed down the blade, her eyes staring, but not. Marlene’s body was wracked with tremoring as she slowly faded away. Tettra couldn’t look away. The pain of her ankle was agony. She was trembling from head to toe in shock, and just witnessed a Church sanctioned execution.
Tettra no longer heard gunfire, signaling the battle had quickly ended. Pyron nodded at seeing Marlene pinned to the cart. Pyron walked up to her and knelt down to her with a strained grunt, leaving his sword where it was. A pool of crimson formed under Marlene. Tettra was a terrified captive audience.
“Did you do this?” He gestured towards the ceiling and carved out walls with his beaked masked.
“Mm.” Was all she could say under the duress. She was dizzy and would trade anything for a sedative.
Black pixelated light filled his hands, revealing an auto-injector. He injected Tettra with capsaiphine, the pain immediately ceasing.
Pyron nodded at that, saying nothing.
Tettra simply stared with a blank look at Pyron. She felt sick as her face paled.
“Was anyone else with you?” Pyron queried as he limped to Newman and inspected him.
Tettra opened her eyes wide. She realized everything was quiet. Especially the pain.
“Rich, Newman, Mike, Stug, and Lod! Where were they? Are they alright?”
Pyron materialized five Gnats from black pixelated light, in the shape of black-purple octahedrons. There was no verbal command as they made digital grumbling sounds, floating to check the rooms. Pyron made his way to Newman and checked his status. Pyron injected Newman with something else, unknown to Tettra.
“Newman is stable, the bleeding was stopped in time. Depletion should be minimal.” Pyron announced.
The Gnats returned to Pyron’s side and disappeared in black pixelated light.
“The Anforms are damaged, but still functioning. Who else was here?” Pyron queried.
“Rich. He was in the room near the entrance over there.” Tettra pointed towards the room where she remembered the room Rich rushed to.
Soldiers began pouring into the cart; Knights Hospitaller. They wore black power armor with white trimming. They stood tall at close to eight feet; needing to duck to enter the car. They were adorned with black tabards sporting a white cross. Their helmets were all different; giving them an ancient medieval knight appearance with glowing red eyes. They began checking the rooms, two of them marched to Marlene to keep an eye on her.
“Rooms are clear. Four victims found.” Their voices had a hard digital edge to them, sounding more Anform than man.
Tettra’s stomach dropped.
“Rich was in that room, where is he?” Tettra asked, terrified of the truth that she knew.
“Sergeant, get a shuttle to scan the ocean, he was most likely pulled outside. Check for others that were dumped as well.” Pyron ordered calmly. There was a slight edge of regret to his tone.
“Yes, Cardinal.” The soldier began radioing in rescue.
“No…” Tettra mumbled. They were high above the ocean traveling close to five hundred miles per hour. If he survived the fall it would be a miracle, even with his healing ability.
Other support teams came in with hover stretchers. The medical teams were dressed in black robes with red crosses. Many with cybernetic augmentation. Newman was placed on the stretcher and pulled out.
Several other individuals entered and began using strange magic to entrap and seal the possessed humans.
“My lord, all possessed humans are accounted for, what shall be done with them?”
“Imprisonment for interrogation,” Pyron stated plainly. Tettra heard this and protested.
“But they were possessed by force!” Tettra shouted hoarsley. A medical team was getting her ankle set in a cast, she could feel none of it, but looked away as it was disquieting.
“And that is yet to be found,” Pyron answered with a calm final edge, staring at her; into her. What she said against gave him no pause, no moment of fluster. He was used to such protests.
“Take them all to my ship. Announce to all medical staff and use my personal physicians for the men, women, and children. Bring out our best cybernetics and engineers for the Anforms. Keep the search for the rest of our brothers and sisters in Christ.” Pyron ordered.
Tettra was placed on the hover-stretcher, but not before seeing Stug and Lod being carried out.
Stug had lost an arm at the shoulder, his frame was bent and punctured in many areas and he was covered in ash and blood. Half of his blockhead was gone, the blue eye had gone dark.
Lod wasn’t much better. All of his legs were a crumpled mess of twisted metal, his sphere sporting a massive dent from the impact. The top arm manipulator was gone; bare cables remained.
The medical crew began to cart her away to the locomotive exit.
“Lazarus…” Tettra murmured. She had no idea how well their group went. The medical were chattering about vitals and calming her. It didn’t do much good. She felt her body reach the end of the adrenaline dump as she felt the fatigue set in. The limits to the ascended body were met as whatever magic she called upon took everything from her. Including her beloved memory. She thought of the city of Saint Peter. She just wanted to be there right now.
She had just met her first Cardinal and the experience was crushing.
Tettra let the tiredness take her.