Location: The Tower
Timeline: 23rd January 2018
Tags: Ushebti, Silvestra, Dominic
Ushebti had waited patiently in the quarters given to him. He wasn’t a prisoner, that wasn’t the way of the Defender, unless she became desperate. But her desire to speak with him had been communicated back, and he had been asked to stay until she woke up.
Whenever that was.
In the meantime, he had taken steps to reduce the amount of premonitions he was having. Such a thing was merely a matter of time, and preparation. He had not expected to be surrounded by so many meta humans and being caught by surprise like that had triggered more than he expected.
Now, he was ready to get some rest without them for a few days. Or so he thought.
He’d been walking around the tower, getting to know the place, when he’d come around a corner and bumped into him. Tall, pale to the point of white, and completely bald, the man was covered in a kind of crackling scar that spread from his eyes.
Instantly, it hit him. It wasn’t a faint tremble of a vision like he normally got, or the vivid images, that he seemed to recall as if they had already happened. Instead, it was like being smashed in the face by a freight train.
Ushebti dropped to his knees, his form dissolving as he stared in disbelief at his own hands. He dripped over the floor, his true form becoming darker, taking on a black, sinister hue. Around him, the corridor span and changed, becoming darkness. No, not even darkness, the absence of darkness itself. Void.
Around him was everything, and yet nothing. He was filled with a sense of being watched, as someone, or something, became aware of him. He looked down again and his hands were changing, from peachy skin to a pain white, and he felt the pain of ages rippling through his skin.
In the nothing, something stirred. It seemed to reach towards him, though he saw nothing. He felt its impatience, then its glee, warping into a sense of pure, unfiltered destructive joy as a split opened in the black. In the split, he saw the man, he saw himself, changing and becoming what he now was. He could sense her, the Protector, through the rift.
The potential threat of her presence spilled over and displeased him. There were more. The man out of time, a spirit given form, and along with, dozens of potential vessels for his will. And then, a link in the chain. He reached towards it hands groping for purchase in this bright world, filled with light. He would blot out the skies and snuff them out.
With a wrench, he was torn back into his humanoid form, still staring at the pale man, who wore a face that said nothing. He could hear something, an awful, inhuman noise that pierced his ears. It rang out across the corridor of the tower, reinforcing his terror.
He was screaming.
He had always been screaming.
Then a woman was there, her presence seemed to counter the void and it retreated, with her hand on his shoulder, his vision blurred again and this time, he was surrounded by sorrow and sadness, in a dimly lit, large cave. He could hear a noise from behind him, and as her turned, he saw her. The white dragon, locked in chains.
He knew her. Had seen her before, the forgotten woman. Her mind trapped between time and her body imprisoned for decades.
But this was different. He walked towards the dragon and it turned its head, aware of his presence.
“You should not be here.” It spoke, tears rolling down serpentine cheeks.
Ushebti had not stopped walking forwards, and as he reached the dragon, he reached out to touch its face. It did not recoil, or change in demeanor, but the eyes seemed to register something, an understanding.
“Neither should you.” Ushebti spoke, his words carrying the kind of finality that you would expect from a parent.
It was silent for a moment, the only noise the raising and lowering of the great beasts chest, and the pitter patter of salty tears as they hit the damp cave floor.
“Your body is released.” He said finally. “Why torment yourself in your sorrow?”
For the first time, the creature showed an emotion other than sorrow, it's anger apparent in its voice. It was clearly not directed at Ushebti, though it pulled away from its reach. The great chains heaved, cutting into the creatures thick, scaly hide.
“I have made too many mistakes in the past, mankind must progress by themselves. They are better off by themselves.” The lidless eye focused on the Priest. “And whilst I am locked away, my knowledge is safe. The betrayer must not possess it.” She growled dangerously.
“Your knowledge may be needed.” Ushebti probed. “Something is coming. Something from outside our universe, outside our understanding.”
“Measures were taken a long time ago to protect our world from outside threat. I am the last of my kind, it is better we die out.”
Ushebti smiled at the creature. “You are not the last. There is another. She fights, with all her will, she fights. She will not rest until this world is free of darkness.”
The eye drew back, chains creaking against their mounts. A claw reached out and grabbed him, pulling him closer to the eye as it gazed at him dangerously.
“Speak again, I would know the truth of your words. I have been alone for aeons.”
Ushebti looked into the eye, no hint of fear in his voice. “She lives.”
Again, the chains rattled and creaked, screaming for release as the dragon pulled back its arm and threw Ushebti towards the far end of the cavern, her voice echoing in the darkness that quickly enveloped him. “Tell her to find Serenity!”
He was awake again, looking at the man and woman. One was white of skin, the other white of hair. They looked odd together. He sat up.
“It’s okay, you’re safe.” Silvestra asked, still holding on to Ushebti’s shoulder.
Ushebti got to his feet, his form a little wobbly, but otherwise okay. He was used to dark and disturbing images. “I will be fine, thank you, Ms Whitewind. I am glad to see you out and about.”
Silvestra froze, her eyes briefly glancing at Dominic. “How do you know my name?”
“In this tower, it is statistically likely that there are several meta humans with the ability to know your name without being told it.” Dominic commented, his voice impassive.
“We met, sort of. I...guided you, when your body was trapped.” Ushebti explained.
She blinked a few times before leaning back, her arms resting across her chest. She had the look of a woman who had been caught by surprise, but hadn’t immediately dismissed the possibility that he was telling the truth.
“I saw you, surrounded by water, and yet standing on it, trying to find a way home.”
The woman started, her hand reaching her mouth, before catching herself and shaking her head slightly, as if to clear away her thoughts.
“Nevermind that now.” She stated, sounding as if she was saying it more for her benefit than his. “You were screaming bloody murder. Are you alright, are you in pain?”
“No, I am not in pain.” Ushebti closed his eyes for a moment before looking over at Dominic. “I saw the being that watches you. It’s taint is still upon you, like a shadow.”
The pair didn’t know it as they both looked at Dom, but for the first time since his awakening, he showed fear in his eyes, just for a second. It spread ever so slightly to the pause before he spoke.
“I do not fear the shadows.”
“You should. We all should.” Ushebti replied ruefully. He had closed his eyes again, but was unable to do so for more than a moment before the horrors he had felt started to intrude upon his thoughts. He had a hard nights work ahead of himself.
Both of these visions were powerful, so powerful as to overcome his ordinary stalwart defences, honed over the decades. He resolved to talk to the Defender about this. Both of these individuals needed help, in their own different ways. A single tear rolled down his cheek and he wiped it away, frowning slightly. His physiology was incapable of crying unless he manufactured it so. He turned back to Silvestra.
“The part you seek, it wants you to “find serenity. I can’t tell you more than that.”
“Serenity.” Silvestra looked thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t think you’ll need to. For some reason the phrase ‘serenity’ comes up consistently in the research Absynthe did on me. I’ll have to ask her more about it when she’s awake.”
“Will that be soon?” Ushebti enquired.
“I hope so, but her injuries were extensive. She’s lucky to be alive, even she has limits, apparently.” There was a pause as Silvestra regarded Ushebti. “Are you sure you don’t want to go to medical for a checkup?”
“Quite certain.” Ushebti replied. “Thank you both, but I must return to my room, I have a lot to consider.” He scurried off, muttering to himself.
Silvestra looked at Dominic for a moment, the young man replying with a stony expression, before she offered a hand, which Dominic shook as they introduced themselves. “Was he from the group brought in from Shady Side?”
“I am uncertain. The computer will be able to tell you.” Dominic replied.
Silvestra had known that, of course, and was just making idle conversation, but it only just struck her how odd Dominic was. There were a few mutants here with odd looks, one of the boys, Aiden, for example, had wings, but Dominic was truly odd. Far more alien than anyone else she’d seen here, and his mannerisms only seemed to reinforce that.
As if he had heard her thinking this, the man added; “I will return to my studies now. Thank you for your timely assistance.”
“No problem. I’ll keep an eye out for him in future, get him to medical if it seems he needs to be there. Take care.”
He promptly carried on, walking in an efficient and mechanical manner, as if the very threat of acting more human would hurt him. She pinched the bridge of her nose and shook her head slightly, trying to clear it of thoughts. This was hardly the strangest thing she’d experienced walking the corridors of the tower, these few weeks, but she knew it would stick with her. Like a thorn, caught in her clothing, to be carried until she resolved to do something about it.
Find serenity. She mused again, before heading back to medical.