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Continued from Into Erebus

And A new consulate

[Image: 107D35D4-F7B5-4489-9BE1-8DF3012412C8_zpswifbpgqm.jpg]

Kremlin Clinical, the locals' name for Central Clinical Hospital was guarded by Custody Security Service Alphas group, the brothers of the Barrier Preator agents assigned to the Ascendancy's detail. Viktor's car was stopped by CSS at the hospital gates, but a quick flash of credentials and a retinal scan confirmed his identity as the second most powerful man in the CCD, and he was admitted without hesitation.

The car dropped him off at the emergency entrance, where more Custody Barrier agents waited.

"Where is he?"

"He's in surgery, sir. He was shot in the chest and apparently burned all over. The Sigma was also found injured at the scene."

The Sigma. Why was Marcus DuBois with Nikolai tonight? A question that didn't have an answer. Much like how the hell did intruders gain entrance to the most secure set of rooms in the whole god damn world?

Viktor ground his teeth and peered down the hall. The staff would never betray the confidentiality of the situation, but it would get out. And that was only the least of his worries. The man could still die.

An hour later, Viktor was sipping a cup of coffee alone in a dark waiting room. His jacket had long ago been deposited on a chair, his sleeves rolled to elbows. The news was silent on the wall, so far the story of two ambulances leaving the Kremlin was minor.

Information trickled in over the last hour about the events leading up to tonight. As far as Viktor knew, after the completion of the monument, the Ascendancy retired to rest-fatigued by the feat. But ZARS received an order from the Ascendancy of complete secrecy-that he was going to allow the infiltration of known hostiles in order to capture or kill them. Bound by direct service to the Ascendancy, ZARS awaited his command to enter. When the order to engage was activated, they found the scene in chaos, and everyone in the room dead or dying. Viktor couldn't fathom what possessed him to do something so dangerous.

He looked up as one of the surgeons walked in.

"I'll be blunt, Deputy-Consul, we are still repairing the wound. His blood pressure has dropped three times to critical levels. We already had to restart his heart once. He's weak. Weaker than he should be."

Viktor frowned, thinking back to the fatigue after the monument.

"There is still have a lot of work. We will continue to update you."

Viktor thanked the man and sank to a chair once alone.

What if he didn't make it through surgery? Nobody really believed the Ascendancy was truly immortal. There were all these elaborate plans on what to do with the Custody if he died, but the idea had been so hypothetical it was nearly absurd.

Clearly, the Ascendancy wasn't immortal. He was one of those channelers, yes, but he could be killed like anyone. Channelers died all the time, only by a different name-Sickness. If only there was a way to-

Viktor shot upright.

"Oh my god,"

he uttered and dialed his under-Consul.

"Pull up the magic registration. Filter it for Moscow and keyword search for a man I saw earlier. He claimed he could heal injuries. Get him here. Now."

Middle of the night was naturally slow at Kremlin Clinical. Surgery waiting was empty but for Viktor and the few persons allowed to interface with him. He managed to catch some sleep at one point, but the shirt duration was almost worse than if he had simply stayed awake. He wasn't lacking in things to do, though. He dared not involve the heads of any Consulates yet. If the Ascendancy came out of surgery alive, the road to recovery was a very different path than if the alternative occurred, if the man died. Until they knew one way or the other, the news of tonight had to be contained.

He pinched the corners of his eyes and got up to pour himself a fresh coffee. He would prefer the hand made press from the hospital cafe, but even involving a barista was too much of a risk. Even in Kremlin Clinical, which served only the most wealthy of patients, he was likewise just as wary of every nurse, Doctor, CNA and medtech in sight.

The ceramic mug warm in his hands, he checked for new messages just as one popped up. His Under-Consul had found the man Viktor requested. A name that upon seeing it was familiar.

Jensen James. He quickly reread the rest of the registration. An American in the CCD. Former preacher. Couple years experience. Then he clicked through the attached file dug up on James from CDPS records. It seemed he had a bit of a history regarding his legal presence in the Custody. The rest of the report was quickly skimmed, and Viktor sent a message in return.

'Strike James' record from the registration. Nobody can know about him.'

A quick message back told him it would be done immediately and that CDPS was already working on locating him.
Ivan was mentally tired. It had been a long day. The stuff with Dorian and Cruz. The crowds. Ascendancy's display. And then the meeting. He was just tired. There was a lull, at least. What Ascendancy had done had seemed to put out some of the fires. Too many people were over-awed and had lost their zeal.

Ivan was grateful, despite his misgivings. Ascendancy was not God. A great man. A man to whom he was loyal. But Ivan could not worship him. Still, he was glad of the respitel. He could go home. He needed to work off some of his stress. He headed to the gym in his building and started hitting it. He alternated between sets of running at full sprint and then burpees, followed by box jumps and barbell-thrusters. Sweat poured off him in rivers and his heart thundered in his chest, but his mind was empty and clear and he lost himself to it.

By the end, he felt exhilarated as the rush washed over him, flooding his mind. He felt like he could take on the world. He looked around the gym- it was empty- and he smiled and seized the power, filled himself with it to the brim, and then sent a flow of air to lift the barbell with 4 plates in front of him. He smiled at the sight, could almost imagine the flows as muscles- striated bunches of fibers flexing and stretching- and he pumped the weight, up and down. Of course, those flows were not muscles. They were not getting overworked and injured, requiring they heal up bigger and stronger.

And yet as he used the power to add new plates to each side, increasing to 6 then 8- always making sure that his weaves lifted the entire length of it, not just the center, to keep the bar from bending-, where he felt the control of the threads come from him- the center of his body? His mind? His forehead? It was hard to say- anyway, it felt like it was straining. Like where the muscle heads inserted into the bone. It felt like that was getting a workout. He liked the imagery. He could feel himself getting tired, now. The power raged at him and it took more effort to keep it under control.

Enough for now. Idly he wondered if there would be an equivalent of muscle fatigue tomorrow. That would royally suck. He'd do it again though. And practice other things as well. He started to put the plates away with the power when he felt, off in the distance, the feel of power like he had never imagined. It was more than what he'd felt in the square- it had to be. It was far away, in the direction of Red Square. But there was something different about it. Like a turned milk or something. The power twisted. He felt his stomach turn, as if he'd pushed himself to work out on a completely empty stomach and had hit the wall. His face flushed hot and cold and his stomach cramped. He breathed in deeply at a regular pace, to keep himself from vomiting, his normal way to deal with that.

He wasn't sure how long it went on and then, it was gone. His head cleared a little of the dizziness and he tried to run to the lockers to change. Ok, not cleared enough. He had to walk. But by the time he entered them, he already felt better. Something had happened. He was drenched in sweat and his clothes were soaking. He threw himself into a shower and was out in 2 minutes, dressed in 2 and was at the door, his wallet in his hand already calling the station even as he got to his car.

A quick connection with dispatch got him the Cap to let him know that he felt something happen in the direction of Red Square and he was on his way. By the time he arrived, though, he could still feel the residues of that power. It was not Red Square. It was the Kremlin, or below it. There were already response teams around and he saw ambulances pull away, flanked by police cars. It had to have been something Ascendancy had done. He had thought the man would have been tired after the display in the Square, the Arch shadowed but still visible against the night. What was he doing? In hiding for decades and now two displays in one day? But why was this different from the first?

Soldiers, police and ZARS maintained a line and the ZARS at least, were not letting anyone through. Ivan flashed his badge and told them he was with Domovoi, but their faces might as well have been stone. What was the man doing, he wondered in frustration.

After waiting for what seemed like forever- night air made his head cold as his hair dried-, he finally decided to go home. There didn't appear to be anything he could do. He started for his car when he noticed a few of the ZAR's he spoke pointing at him to someone else. He paused and looked at them, then decided to walk over.

"Seargent Ivan Sarkozy of Domovoi?"
asked a man whose iron cast face made the others look like clay. Ivan nodded and showed his ID.

"Come with us, please."
It was not a request. Ivan nodded. Well, it was something. You wanted to help.

Once inside, he was met by anther man with thin whispy hair and tired eyes. He looked at his tablet and then at Ivan and took a breath. "Seargent Sarkozy. Motya Graber, assistant to the Under Consul. I don't have time to answer all of your questions. Obviously, something has happened. Suffice it to say, this is a matter of national security. Your name came up in connection with Domovoi- and your stay in another of our facilities."
The emphasis was odd.

Ivan blinked and thought. "You mean the Guardian?"
he said cautiously. He remembered alright. It was where he learned what he was, what he could do. And was where he pledged his allegiance to the Ascendancy. He nodded. This was serious.

"We need you to find and bring in this man."
He touched a button on his tablet and Ivan's wallet chimed. He looked at it in surprise as a face appeared.

"But I saw him. Earlier today, in the Square. Did he do something wrong?"
Ivan had a hard time imagining the Padre hurting someone. In fact, he'd healed Ivan the first time they'd met.

The man shook his head sharply. "You did? No, he didn't do anything wrong. But we need him. Unharmed."
He paused and then look resigned. "I know I said no questions, but you need to know this. The Ascendancy has been hurt. Doctors are working on him, but it's bad. From the registration forms, this Jensen James appears to be able to heal."
He sighed and looked hopeless. "Yesterday, I wouldn't have believed it, despite the Ascendancy's announcement. But today....I don't know. It's a Hail Mary. But the Ascendancy trusts you. Trusted you. He sent you out with training in whatever power you have back before any of this was made public. We don't want this to get out. It can't. So we are trusting you with this. Bring him in. Without scaring him. Last known location from his wallet is with what I sent you."

Ivan reeled from the news. Ascendancy was the empire. If he died...But this was no time for worry. There was a job to do. Ivan would not let his city degenerate into chaos. "I will get him. I know Jensen James. And he can heal. He healed me. He will heal Ascendancy too."
The man seemed to take heart.

Ivan had a job to do. For the city. For the empire.

Edited by Ivan Sarkozy, Sep 20 2016, 12:46 PM.

There had never been so much pain in one place. Not even the day her powers had awoken had there been so much pain.

After the blackness had absconded Aria's senses there had been nothing but pain. It had eclipsed the anger and the rage. The fury beneath it all only added to the pain. Everything Martin Borovsky had felt - the Regus had felt. Her own pain. All of it escaped into the blackness.

Dreams of blood. Dreams of pain. Fury. Rage. Deceit. The world was negative. Everything was inverted. There was no happiness, no love, no joy. The world was empty of all things happy. That realization woke Aria from whatever dreams she'd been having.

She was lost in a fog as she opened her eyes. There was no pain just the muddled feeling of drugs. A once upon a time experiment to dim the senses came to mind. A horrid experience.

Aria tried to sit up but there were hands keeping her flat. She looked up and saw a nurse in white looking down upon her. "Lie still. Broken ribs. You need to stay still until we can have a better look."

Aria tried not to resist but the drugs in her system were keeping her from doing much anyway. Aria tried to speak but the words failed to come out. A second try came out only a whisper. "I need to make a call."

The nurse nodded. "After the doctor has seen you and security has cleared you with access."

Aria rolled her eyes but that was the extent of her response before she was passed back out.
Marcus is barely aware of his surroundings. He thinks he feels something brush his arm- and there is a burst of pain. But pain is the only thing he does feel. Sounds filter in and out. He can't focus.

And then he is shaken and feels hands on him- rough to his skin and he wants to cry out but he can't seem to breath. And it is dark. Is it dark? Are his eyes closed? He can't tell.

He feels movement. Out. He feels cold, blessed cool. Out. Out. Out. He thinks there was vibration, but his whole body vibrates as the pain comes from everywhere. He can't think. Tired. Out.

In bed. Dark. Swallowing hurts, sore. New. Can't breath. Panting. Only pain. Malik tries to wake up, to draw on the pain. He's tired too. Tired. Out.


Edited by Marcus DuBois, Sep 20 2016, 01:00 PM.
Tickets in hand, or, well, downloaded on the wallet, Jensen stepped from the metro train onto the platform that connected to Moscow International airport. Years ago when he arrived in Moscow it had been by train, regular train, on the long ride from eastern Europe working his way through temporary, cash-only jobs. He'd been in the CCD illegally at that point in time. Thanks to Jon, the American lawyer, that was no longer the case, but he still never had cause to visit the airport until now.

Jessika bought the tickets, and Jensen cringed to imagine how much they cost her last minute, or even how she found an open seat. It was going to be two days of travel, with at least four plane changes to get to Dallas. Jensen's stomach was tied in knots over the idea. He hoisted his shoulder bag and let the flow of the crowd carry him to ticketing. Even in the middle of the night, the airport was bustling, so busy it was.
Ivan sped through traffic with his lights going. Time was critical and he couldn't afford to be pulled over. Traffic to the airport was always bad, especially now, with the weather warming up. Add to that the exodus of people who didn't want to be in the city with Ascendancy or any others like him....well....

Anyway, he got there and parked out front, flashing his badge to the security. He headed inside at a brisk walking jog to security, met the agent- who, to his credit, made sure to check the ID quickly rather than decide to take his sweet time- and was soon trying to find the gate. The info he'd received en route had said that Jensen James was scheduled to depart from Moscow at gate 58. A long trip. He looked around for one of the cars but there was none to be found. The moving sidewalks were crowded too. They'd be too slow anyway.

He started running, weaving through the crowds. He passed patrons at the various stores and restaurants, all the screens dedicated to the Ascendancy's demonstration, talking heads pontificating about this or that. Ivan ignored it. There was also some brief footage of the commotion at the Kremlin including the ambulances, though, - thank God- he saw nothing about the Ascendancy's injuries. Hopefully, they could keep a lid on that.

He moved fast until, at last, 58 was ahead. He sped up and looked over the crowd, seeking the Padre. There! Finally. His wallet was in his hand- probably with his tickets.

He went up to him and spoke quietly. "Mr. James. We need your help. Your....special help. Someone has been hurt. Can you come with me please?"
It wasn't really a question. This was too critical. He'd tell him more in car. Not here though, with all the ears.
Jensen made it through ticketing, declining to check any luggage. He only had the one small bag and it would fit in the plane cubbies fine. He wasn't intending on staying long in Dallas, and he had a room full of belongings back at Doulou's. He just needed to be in Dallas long enough to see Jessika and talk things over in person. He'd make her understand then. Otherwise, she was liable to have him kidnapped and brought back to US soil. She would never give up once she had her mind on something.

The airport was busy despite the late hour. Moscow never sleeps. Jensen wandered the terminal, vaguely looking over souvenirs, and thought better of himself before buying a figurine of St. Basil's. His family would not want to memorialize this trip. Oh look children, a present from when your father ran out on you. He replaced the figurine and went in search of dinner, having skipped his own.

He ate a hamburger and fries in a restaurant with the majority of people surrounding him drinking and silently watching the tv's. "I was there."
Jensen said, texan drawl thick with introspection, pointing at the screen when the man next to him mumbled under his breath about miracles.

"What was it like?"
Jensen thought better of himself, again, before describing what it felt like. "Incredible. Like I was watching a movie and these were special effects. But I felt the ground move under my feet. You could hear the granite puddle and seep. It cast a shadow on the heads of people beneath. It would make your blood chill."

The man next to him shook his head in near disbelief, but when Jensen thought he was going to drown his awe in the shot of vodka waiting on his table, he surprisingly did the opposite. He lifted the shot high and proclaimed a cheer, "Ascendancy. The center of the world." He slurped the the edge of the tiny glass and gave Jensen an appreciative nod. "I wish I had time to go by today, but the crowds were too thick, even with a flight at two A.M."

Jensen nodded his understanding, and spent the next half hour describing the experience of being there. He soon found himself surrounded by a captive audience as his tale became more and more descriptive. It was like he was at the pulpit again. He stayed there long after the food went cold, until it was time to board.

He was in line at the gate when a quiet voice spoke his name. He turned and his heart lept in his throat. Ivan! He blinked, taking a few moments to comprehend the request. What was Ivan doing here? He wanted Jensen, specifically? To heal someone? Jensen shook his head no even as he shuffled out of the line.

He looked back over his shoulder as the gate became smaller and smaller. Jessika was going to be furious. "Alright. I'll come. But you have to give my wife the bad news."
He chanced a smile, slightly relieved by the turn of events, even if it was at the cost of another.

Ivan led him outside. Funny how leaving an airport was infinitely faster than getting inside one. When the officer's car came into view, lights still flaring their signal, Jensen's brows rose. It must be quite the emergency. How did Ivan find him, anyway? He almost asked, but chillingly decided against it. He didn't want to know.

The Padre's reaction was odd. If Ivan had to put a word on it, it was relieved- in spite of his words! Maybe he and the missus didn't get along or something. The man was soft-spoken most of the time. Or at least that was the impression Ivan had. She might wear the pants in that family. And he might not want to go back to be hen-pecked.

Anyway, bottom line was that he was coming. And willing to help. Mostly. The guy was odd like that. He remembered how squirrely the guy was at the hospital, after he healed him. Guy wanted to bolt or something, just cuz he asked if he could help him learn to control his power. Didn't seem to be anything to get up in arms about. But people were different, you know? Just the way of things.

So anyway (AGAIN) they headed out to the car and jumped in. Ivan immediately pulled away and they were speeding down the road. "Give me a second and I get you up to speed Mr. James."
He messaged the contact Graber had given him, to find out the location the Ascendancy had been taken. Once that was laid into the nav he could focus.

"What I am about to tell you is in the strictest confidence. The Ascendancy was attacked this evening and is in grave condition. He's currently in an induced coma, I guess so the doctors can work on him. I don't really understand the details. But it is really bad."

His face showed the seriousness of things. God, if the Ascendancy died, what would happen? He could only imagine how things would degenerate into chaos. Just picturing it made his heart sick, seeing the smoke and the riots and the fighting as the people at the top tore the empire apart trying to take control. It couldn't happen. He wouldn't let it. "I know you can heal. And so does the CCD. They had you all picked out to find, when I showed up. They need you. The world needs you. Ascendancy can't die. Not now."
Lights along the streets became streaks of white as they sped away from the airport. For all Ivan's calm exterior, Jensen's heart was pounding. So much information at once, it was too much to process. The Ascendancy was hurt, badly hurt. Never mind the infinite consequences his death would inflict upon the world, but the government sought Jensen out to help him. They sent Ivan to find him. That meant they knew he was at the airport, had checked in and passed security. They even knew what flight he was on.

Never mind the chilling thoughts about how traceable he was, but consider the gravity of the situation. The Ascendancy would have the best medical care anyone could possibly have. Jensen had no doubt. But he was in such bad shape, they were willing to put the remainder of his life in the hands of a man based off what he put in a registration form. That's how they knew, Jensen assumed. He remembered writing that he could heal. Ivan probably confirmed it, given that was the mechanism of their initial meeting.

Never mind all that. John Doulou and him spent many a night discussing the prophecies and studying the ancient texts. John was the student of antiquity and Jensen the student of the Bible. Together they came to one terrifying conclusion: Ascendancy was the antichrist.

And Jensen was asked to go heal him.

What do I do?

Stomach in knots, he was silent the remainder of the drive. His thoughts returned to the Bible as his mind poured over Revelation, Isaiah, and Mark.

He will move into the East and dominate the land. Where he walks, the Earth shall crumble at his feet. The Great Serpent shall be torn from his flesh yet his worm does not die and his fire is unquenched. He is an abomination to all mankind.

The worm which does not die and the fire that is not quenched were referenced in both the Old and New Testament, the latter quoted by Jesus himself to depict the final victory over the enemies of the Lord. The number of their corpses shall be so many that the worm that feeds on them, maggots, would never die, and their souls will suffer unquenched in the eternal fires of hell.

The prophecies of the End Times were woven through all the dispensations of the Bible. What was revealed to John, the author of Revelation, was beyond the capacity of human interpretation, therefore the book was filled with metaphors and symbolism. It was incredibly difficult to understand.

Some things were clear though. The coming antichrist would impose his will upon the earth. He would unify the world with peace and charisma. He would perform miracles. He would claim to be God. Months ago, Jensen was unaware of the Ascendancy claiming to be God and performing miracles, but all that changed today.

Did he tell Ivan that Ascendancy was the antichrist? Where Jensen and Doulou differed was Doulou insisting they find the enemies of Nikolai Brandon and stop him. But Jensen believed the apocalypse had to come if the thousand years of peace were to reign afterward. The coming of the second Jerusalem was nigh, but mankind had to pass through fire to reach it.

He kept his thoughts to himself, and wrung his hands together nervously all the way until reaching the hospital.

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