When those words left the past Jury’s lips, Frost and the Archivist stiffened like statues. The air rushed from their lungs as their minds went blank. Seconds later, as Jury wondered what was wrong with the two, a plethora of interpretations filled the void of their mind like Pandora’s Box had just opened.
“Elysia… That’s your name?” Frost blurted out loud, causing Jury to blink, pouting slightly. “How come… wait no, that was the name of your Corrupted self. Jury’s name never changed.”
“I thought Jury was called an Unhung Jury.” The Archivist pondered, flickering through the pages of her notebook, expecting to find valuable information. “Uuhhh… Nothing?”
“That was her title. Her name was just Jury when I realized her. It didn’t come up as Elysia. But then again, you remember the book she gained from your library?”
“… The Book of Elysia…” The Archivist gasped as Jury… no, Elysia cocked her head, her tail wagging left and right like an excited dog.
The bulbous tip was nowhere in sight. It was thin towards the end unlike Jury’s which contained an organ, needle, and… maybe a sexual organ? In short, the current Jury’s tail was more robust compared to Elysia’s simple one.
She wondered if Realizing Jury caused this unique growth to occur.
That being said, Frost then added:
“Elysia. I thought it might have had something to do with the truth or nature of our world. It never occurred to me that it was her book.”
“Maybe it’s both?” The Archivist suggested. “I… haven’t read through it. But I remember Jury! She was bubbly. Kind. But also kinda scary, I think? She looks different – H-hey-!? U-um –! Down! It’s showing! Don’t look up, Frost!”
Elysia snatched the Archivist off her feet. Her tail coiled around her waist as she held her overhead, the girl desperately concealing her undergarments with little resistance.
“Are you two done speaking retrospectively? Reciting a eulogy about me? Here. Come close. Take some healing!”
She pouted, placing both hands on her hips as she leaned close to Frost’s face, suddenly grinning to reveal rows of razor-sharp teeth. Then, much to their shock, pale particles of light bounced off their bodies as Elysia casted healing magic of all things.
“And what’s this about a Corrupted!? You think an Angel like me is like one of those synthetic ones? Or a Demon? I thought you thought higher of me! Well, I guess you can’t have everything. Did you bring anything to eat by the way~?”
That gluttonous side of her never left. A-ahaha. Why am I mentally cracking up at that?
“Nothing. Sorry. We ended up getting caught up in some trouble.” Frost said, concealing his laughter, finding comfort in this version of Jury.
“Trouble tends to find you. Nothing’s changed about that! Bet negotiations failed again. Even when backed by the Pillar. Kind of sad that we aren’t deployed with you. But I guess that’s because you get to do your own thing.” Elysia complaint, squeezing the cheeks of the Archivist.
“Mmm! Glad you’re also here to help! Recoding things still? Have you got something written down about me? Anything about the steaks – I mean, stars!?” Elysia drooled at the thought, her eyes glistening like stars. “Real meat is hard to come by for an Angel. Everything tastes the same. But I guess that’s what our teeth are designed for. Cutting through synthetic angels. Or Faux Angels. Whatever you want to call them!”
Aside from her tail, it felt like the Jury they always knew was standing right here. He was curious about their relationship. Were they close? Were they lovers? Even though it was a memory, he was a little wary to ask.
That didn’t stop him, however.
Because if there was a time to gather answers, it would be now. Such a prime opportunity could not be ignored.
“Ahem. Elysia.” Frost began as the woman dragged them up the flight of stairs, her pale-military-eqsue garbs blending with the world of white.
“Don’t be so formal! You’re here to visit ‘that’ place again, right? To take your mind off your work. I kind of wish you’d rely on me for that instead of treating me like a child. I’m only one of seven, you know!” She grinned; her voice joyous as ever as spirals formed along the eyes of the Archivist.
The poor girl struggled to keep up with Elysia’s pace.
Above the staircase they were greeted with a concrete expanse, marked with hazard lines, and sealed, mechanical hatches. Surrounding them like a circular wall were interconnected building complexes. When viewed from afar it seemed like everything meshed into one, like a hedge made of concrete thorns.
They were in the intermediary part.
“I’m missing a few memories. Do you mind jogging them for me?” Frost asked.
Elysia made a concerned expression, but realized it was a joke, and interpreted his request as wanting to ‘stop treating her as a child’.
“Mhm~! Fire away like how we’re fired out!”
And so, Frost began questioning Elysia as they approached the Pillar, which impaled the center of the city. Or perhaps this world as he knew it.
* * *
A flat land where armored vehicles roamed, hauling massive containers, each marked with a designated code. It vaguely resembled ImpulseWork’s naming scheme. This alone raised red flags. The major difference between both, as labeled along the lengths of 20-meter-long trucks, was the prefix.
GEN, followed by a number ranging from 01 to 12.
Elysia explained that each number corresponded to a Body located around the world, or the city. Anything beyond the city’s reach was largely inhospitable due to the state of the world. But it brought into question how this world lost its stars, sun, and moon.
And how even without them a meadow stretched as far as the eye could see.
Historical accounts never accurately recorded what had happened. Elysia went as far as to claim that people have stubbornly refused to believe in the stars. Talk of the past was suppressed to thwart the aspirations of many, driven by Bodies and Arms alike who would rather shine as the stars of this city. Something tangible, with a gravitational pull that erased the hearts of their followers, merging them into one collective metaphorical heart.
This was why books were burned. But ironically –
“You don’t remember the Body you’re working under, ______?” Elysia kindly poked the Archivist with the tip of her tail.
She shook her head.
“The Collective Compendium of All Knowledge. Don’t you have some sway in there? It’s the same thing ____ here helped you start up! Really, what’s wrong with you two? GEN-06? Does it ring a bell?” Elysia spoke like they should have known all of this, but the two glanced at each other, causing her to sigh.
“You have one of the Pillars there. For a library holding all kinds of pieces of knowledge. It was your way of preserving the world in case anything happened. Your way of wanting people to know that we existed!” Elysia added, becoming increasingly giddy. “That’s the ideal!”
Giddy was an understatement. Elysia was an entire bundle of happiness.
The people here, and the complex surrounding the Pillar were never dressed extravagantly. Each seemed to be hard wired to their jobs. White coat scientist rushed with clip boards. Black-metal armored personnel with hazard masks delivered the codenamed cargo, as though it were a highly dangerous contaminate.
Following them was an array of heavily armed individuals, fitted into compact vans. No one carried a single firearm. In fact, it was only ever found on certain workers. The Archivist elaborated on the sight.
“I was only allowed to visit this place once. That’s when I met Jury… I mean, Elysia. I think? This is a deployment area. For Angels and people working directly under the Pillar. I… vaguely remember the Arbiter now. She was heavily involved in this.”
“We met once? Once here is right. But we’ve seen each other a bunch outside! Not formally because we’re not supposed to interact with people.” Elysia hummed.
“Why is that?” Frost asked.
“We’re not exactly good in urban areas. Any time we’re deployed means a few hundred thousand were already erased. If we arrive early, then that’s a hundred thousand gone from the impact alone. Another few tens more when the cartridge falls.”
“… that’s normal to you?” Frost asked as he stooped in his tracks, causing Elysia to solemly turn her head, her gaze falling off to the side.
“The world is too big to be in two places at once. I’m not thrilled to admit it. You know why as well. We pick the lesser of two evils. Arms can get out of hand. People can get wrapped up with wishes. Those that believe in the stars can have miracles happen thanks to one of the Bodies. Then there’s Faux Angels.”
As she said this, one of the colossal, sealed hatches opened, revealing a semi-pale gargantuan egg-shaped object labeled ANG-03. Steam violently cascaded along the floor, as a low rumble and whine eerily emitted from somewhere within. It was not quite like the egg Ber had found herself in, but it was similar enough that again, Frost couldn’t help but to make a note of.
As soon as the hatches locked open with a crunchy snap, the roaring sound of a broken chain blared. This alarm was identical to the one used in the ImpulseWorks Sites. People fled its immediate vicinity after going through various checks. When all seemed well, golden strip lights appeared along the ground as the ‘canister’ was suddenly ejected with a deafening explosion.
“It’s the three-tailed Angel. She’ll save a million more lives. I bet it’s another Faux Angel attack. Hey! I’m happy to report that I’ve been using my wings to get around instead of those!”
Elysia’s pale, fluffy wings sprouted from her back. There were exactly 12 in total, each casting an exalted light that banished shadows. They ranged from as small as a finger to three times as large as themselves.
Jury did not have this ability. Yet at least. Suffice to say, both Frost and the Archivist were enthralled by Elysia’s beauty. Delighted, Elysia concealed her wings and began walking off, humming to herself.
“Why do they look like eggs?” The Archivist asked.
“A bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy an egg… It’s symbolic of where we came from. How we’re born. How things work. It’s a saying with Angels, because… we’re not born normally. Put it like this, what came first? The chicken or the egg?”
“Chicken?” The Archivist uttered.
“Egg.” Frost said. “Eggs were around longer than the chicken even existed.”
“Mhm. The egg. Or more like from the eggshells. It’s an unnatural birth, but that’s what makes us unique, yet when we bleed, we’re reminded that we’re all the same! The egg serves as a metaphorical point of origin, or a person’s world. Soul. Whatever you want to call it.” Elysia spoke cryptically with enthusiasm. “You get it, right?”
“Sort of. Can you elaborate?” Frost corrected himself.
“At this point I wonder if it’s even you in there!” Elysia laughed.
Frost moved to several heavy hitting questions as vehicles and crews of dozens moved to the steaming hatch left behind. The spherical object soared through the skies unnaturally. It was certainly fast. So fast in fact that its exterior caught alight, but the metal itself remained untouched.
“What are Faux Angels? What about people turning into monsters? The Corrupted? Advents? The Nexus?”
“S-Slow down! You’re speaking all kinds of weird things now. Well, people have been using a piece of GEN-03’s power to wish things. I’ve never seen it for myself, but they say that deep inside the ruins underneath the Pillar of the World lays a dormant star. You should know, since you’re one of the only people allowed in there.”
“Why is that? What about the Faux Angels?”
“Faux Angels are just big monsters looking to snag a Body. Angels. Demons. Those things – we’re actually forbidden from entering that place.” Elysia stared at the rising Pillar.
She didn’t elaborate or entertain any following questions, as if this one order given to her by some higher figure was absolute.
They were alone all of a sudden in this vacant field of concrete and metal. The closer they approached the Pillar, the more the floors morphed into a similar material. During this silence Frost then asked another small array of questions, the world seemingly… distorting along the way.
One was the Genesis Stones.
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A person wanting to share their imagination.
I post mainly here on Royal Road, although you can catch my story on Scribble Hub.