The Plan

“It must be tonight.” Omega’s voice broke the silence Stepney and Harlow had fallen into, shaking them from their contemplations. Those of Stepney concerned the girls, missing and scared, his responsibility. Those of Harlow were beyond comprehension.

“Why?” Stepney found himself lost in her eyes for a moment, dazed. He shook his head, as if trying to dislodge some blockage. “What would you have us do?”

“It happens tonight. We must be there to stop them. Whatever the cost.”

“We are three.” Stepney stared into her deeply. “We ought to be four.”

Omega inclined her head slightly. “Do not worry. All is in hand. Their base is in the outer reaches of the city. We must reach them, infiltrate the building, interrupt the ceremony before it is too late.”

“Ceremony?” Harlow’s voice came up, inquisitive, filled with energy once more.

“All will become clear. Trust me.”

Stepney smiled weakly. “We would hardly seem to have a choice.”

“There is always a choice, Stepney.” Her voice soothed him, reassured him. As his eyes closed, he saw her still, outlined in stars, raising a hand in benediction. He nodded gently.

They rose and made their way from the bar. As they moved, the girl on the stage paused for a moment. She stared into Stepney, freezing him to the spot, his body aflame. Almost imperceptibly, she winked at him, blew him a tiny kiss. Good luck, Stepney, came her voice, almost lost amid the rumble of the assembled patrons.

And with that they left, making their way out of the bar and suddenly, without warning or notice, finding themselves in an empty street in the city of Celestis. Stepney wrapped his jacket around him for protection against the cold. Weather rarely troubled the people of the beautiful city, yet tonight it seemed invasive, intrusive, almost aggressive. The street was empty of life, the buildings looming above, somehow threatening, intimidating. It had been morning, yet now the stars were out, the sun disappeared, the moon shining down on them. All was illuminated with an unworldly light. He shuddered and made his way forward, Omega and Harlow beside him.

They turned and Stepney beheld the hall. It was filled from within with a glowing, blinding light, its spire reaching into the clouds, an enormous letter G emblazoned on its front. Voices emanated from within, chants unending, without life, without feeling. He paused, thrown for a moment. Something about this place, in the city yet locked away from it, its scale, its mass, conveyed a sense of absolute power. A power beyond reason or regret, a power beyond control.

He glanced about him. Harlow had sunk to his knees, weeping bitterly. Omega cradled his head in her arms. She kissed his forehead once, softly, the mark of the carer. As Stepney watched, a thick black mist began to pour from the mystic’s open mouth, vanishing into nothingness. It lasted but a moment. Harlow returned to his feet, glowing, the picture of health.

Omega turned to the two of them and nodded once before making her way into the base. They followed her in silence.

As they entered the building, Stepney tried to take in his surroundings, yet it was too much. He felt as though he had been plunged into some lost city, deep under the water, surrounded by shapes which approached familiarity yet skirted on the edge of identification. A building, a desk, a man. Posters on the doors. Little else.

A man. Omega approached him. He stood silent, enraptured, as the crimson woman filled his vision. For Stepney, around her the world came in and out of focus, shimmering lightly. The scene was surreal and mundane in one. Her beauty seemed to transcend the world around her, made it more crisp, more clear. More real. The man, dressed in his single garment of grey and white, stood spellstruck.

He let out barely a moan as Omega stepped forward and, in a single motion, snapped his neck.

Published in: on June 22, 2009 at 7:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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