Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! Welcome back to another offering of Holy Shards the 13th Age! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and this is Story Time With Tim! We’re continuing on with this novella. We’re halfway through and if you’ve been following along so far, that must mean you’re enjoying the tale! At least, I hope so. Anyhow, If you’re not familiar with what’s been going down before, why not click on the links here and do so now?
Alright, now that we’re all caught up, let’s get to this next chapter!
BEFORE DAWN’S EVE
Jesus, it’s an ocean of people, he thought as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. The complex lay in the middle of the legions of worshipers that seemed to be getting along in a sickeningly peaceful fashion. He couldn’t stand it. A snarl pulled his lips taut as he watched the faithful praying to the heavens; watched the different religious followings stand side by side as if they were brothers. Where’s your God now?
That thought brought a smile to his face as he lifted the binoculars to his eyes. Lights illuminated most of the facility fairly well. Too well.
There had to be a way in where no one would see him. It was night time, so he figured that was a plus. Voices coming from just outside his van caused him to hunch lower into the passenger seat facing the Ark warehouse.
“I just… just can’t believe… it’s judgement day… it really is!” A woman cried to her friend who hugged her warmly as they proceeded to wherever it was they were going.
Judgement day, eh? You have no idea, chicky. He raised his binoculars once again and saw several tractor trailers sitting along the far side of the warehouse. For some reason, the guards were keeping people away from that section, which had a six-foot fence surrounding its perimeter. Should be easy enough to navigate.
He scooted over to the driver’s side and started the van up. Putting it into motion, he drove towards the far side of the complex, keeping enough distance to look perfectly innocent.
Whistlings of awe filled the air as Alexia and Joseph approached the front door. She couldn’t help but to whistle as she was completely astonished by the complex’s size.
“How many stories do you think?” she asked looking up its side that seemed to run on forever.
“I’d say about seven stories, give or take,” Joseph replied as he cast his glance up towards the roof.
They approached a regular looking steel door that wasn’t painted with any Ark relief like the rest of that side of the building.
Five minutes earlier, they had shown their badges to the guards at the front gate who waved them in after calling their presence in to whoever worked inside the facility. Alexia looked back at the thousands of people moaning and casting an uncomfortable sounding din across the darkness beyond the gates separating them from the warehouse. She couldn’t imagine such a crowd if she tried. Her dazzled expression melted as she looked back to see Joseph knocking on the door.
Within moments, a young looking man answered the door and looked at them, puzzled. Joseph flashed his badge prompting Alexia to follow suit, though she was too stunned to speak.
“We need to talk to whoever’s in charge,” Joseph spoke.
“Uh… sure. Follow me,” the man said and escorted them inside.
“What the hell is that!?” Alexia let slip as she saw the massive vessel within, not realizing matters that night could get anymore insane.
“I’ll let the owners explain,” the man said and led them to an open caged elevator that traveled up to the top level.
Bright lights faded beneath them as they saw the crossbeams supporting the top of the structure suddenly below their positions. The young man slid the door open as the elevator came to a lurching stop and slightly swung in a disconcerting fashion.
However, Alexia was entranced by the several stories of open air beyond them and couldn’t find it within her to let go of the metal caging between them and the space. Terror crept into every fiber of her being.
“Alexia?” Joseph came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders.
“Sorry, Joseph. I… should have told you. I suffer from vertigo… from time to time.” She stared down at the floor that seemed like an abyss many miles away.
“Close your eyes.”
“I can’t,” her eyes fixated on the scene taking up so much of the massive complex, as her jaw tightened and her body became stiff.
“You have to. Grab my hand and close your eyes.”
It took every ounce of will power for her to do as he requested and, what felt like an eternity later to her, they found themselves on solid ground. She felt a metal wall with her right hand and opened her eyes to see a long hall that followed the perimeter of the structure. The roof was so close she could’ve reached up and touched it.
Alexia caught her breath and watched the young man smile with a shake of his head.
“Oh, you are going to have a hell of a time getting her down.”
“Noticed that too, eh? I’ll take it from here,” Joseph quipped with a tight smile as the man closed the elevator door and went back down to the first floor.
“You all right?” he asked her and looked into her eyes.
She felt like vomiting but decided not to inform him of that rudimentary detail. Instead, she waved her hand and tried to smile. She wasn’t very successful. “Just… give me a second. I hope you know, though, I’m staying on the inside, by the wall.”
She spoke and motioned to the hall they would have to walk. Two men approached them as they spoke. One was of mid-eastern decent and the other was an African American. She tried to stand straight but felt slightly dizzy at the effort and was forced to place her hand back on the wall.
“Is she ok?” the dark-skinned man inquired.
“She’ll be fine,” her partner replied. “I’m Detective Joseph Spears. This is my partner, Alexia Dawson. We’re investigating a potential terrorist threat against this facility and a possible kidnapping.”
“Alexander Plynie,” he indicated himself then pointed to the man beside him. “Uday Al Hassyn.”
“Wow, more investigators. Just great. Hadn’t heard about a kidnapping yet, though,” Uday said shaking his head with a grimace and wiping sleep from his eyes.
“More?” Joseph queried with furrowed brows.
“Yes. We have two agents from the F.B.I. staying with us within the Ark below,” Alexander motioned towards the ship.
Alexia stayed right where she was, perfectly fine with not looking at the massive vessel taking up so much of that open space.
“Ark, huh? You know, I was kind of expecting a giant boat,” Joseph leaned against the railing and took in the sight of the sleek, futuristic vessel resting within its moorings.
Construction on the ship was obviously complete and its head was pointed out towards the rear exit.
“You should see this ship, Alexia.”
She ignored his smiling taunt. “Already did. Lovely spaceship fellows.”
“Perhaps you’d like to meet with the agents? I’m sure they’re still up,” Alexander offered.
“Actually, that would be a good idea. If the feds are here, they may have heard something we haven’t yet. But if we’re going back down…”
“Back down?” Alexia stared at Joseph.
“We’re going to need to drug her up, I think,” he smiled as he spoke and lightly laughed.
Alexia wasn’t laughing and glared at her partner with a frown of disapproval for his sudden need for joviality. Alexander made a calming motion with his hands and offered up a slightly different solution.
“Perhaps she would be more comfortable with an alternate path to the ship. One that isn’t so… open. We had an extra stairwell built into the offices back here that leads to a small elevator that is completely enclosed and goes down to a ‘gerbil run’ connecting to the main hall of the ship. It’s not quite as nauseating.”
“That sounds… preferable,” Alexia nodded.
“Hurry, Mrs. President, we don’t have much time!” A secret agent demanded, as he, and several others, ushered the woman through the halls and towards an elevator that would take them to a secret underground facility deep beneath the White House grounds.
“I should make a statement to our peoples! Americans depend on us to protect them!” She stammered, wanting just one last press conference before the inevitable.
“If time remains, there is a conference room below, Mrs. President. However, that is the one thing we are fast running out of!” came the response.
Within seconds, she found herself in a heavily armored lift that began its descent into the solid depths of deep Earth. She stood and stared at her reflection in the closed doors as her protectors stood to either side speaking into their mics.
Please, God, protect the people. Have mercy on them… On all of us. Oh God, what have I done? She silently wept as the car continued on its way.
Jean Sommers made her way amidst the throng of the faithful towards the warehouse gates only to be turned away once she got there.
“Please! My son is inside! Please!”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. No one is allowed inside without proper authorization. There are serious security concerns that we must address. Please turn back,” he held out his hand and spoke in a dispassionate voice.
Feeling at a lost, she turned away. She refused to give up, though, and decided to check the crowds once more. Perhaps they were out there after all and she had just missed them. When the detectives had left and told her to go home, she made the decision to come out to the Ark anyway. She couldn’t just wait for word on the whereabouts of her son.
“Oof!” A muffled sound let loose and interrupted her thoughts as she felt herself bumping into someone.
“Oh, I’m sorry!” she apologized.
“That’s ok. Say, I was looking for someone willing to be interviewed, perhaps you wouldn’t care?” Jasmine Eloweise queried as her cameraman, Ryan, grimaced and fussed with the device he held.
“Jasmine, this is hopeless,” he lowered the camera, causing Jasmine and Jean to stare over at him. “The people are just in this crazy frenzy.”
“I know, it’s like some sort of rock concert,” Jean input before Jasmine could comment and felt at a lost. “By the way, I’m Jean. I’m not here to worship. And I don’t care about this ‘Ark’ business. I’m only here because someone kidnapped my son and I think she brought him here. This was where she was talking about coming anyhow.”
Jean looked around as Jasmine frowned.
“Someone kidnapped your son? I’m so sorry. Did you know the woman who did it or you think did it?”
“Sort of. She was at the hospital where they took my son after the bombing of Beckwood elementary.”
“Your child went to Beckwood!?” Jasmine looked at her with a surprised expression.
“Yes. He’s been through so much recently and I will find him. I know he’s here… somewhere. God, why are these people shoving!?” Jean yelled over the ensuing chaos of voices.
“You haven’t heard?” Jasmine asked.
“Heard what?” Jean wondered with mild curiosity and growing annoyance with the crowds.
“An unofficial report came over the wire not long ago. We’re under nuclear attack.”
Jean felt her soul go cold as she stared at the woman who had a forlorn expression yet seemed still determined to do her job. She felt helpless and realized time had just run out.
“All right, now you two stay here. Things are about to get very chaotic,” Kylie said to Jason and Elisa as she hid them in a room near the back of the crew compartments.
They nodded and Kylie shut the door. She felt they wouldn’t be too scared, so long as they had each other. She looked around the vacant halls and decided to make her destination the bridge. She nodded to herself in resolve. This has to be done.
It wasn’t difficult for the man to peel back some sheet metal and enter the facility. However, he nearly passed out when he saw the ship within. What was more unusual than the sight of a five or six story craft the length of three football stadiums, was the fact that all the workers were rushing to get on board the thing.
Something’s going on. Big ship or not, this represents more than anyone knows. Going to get ‘em! He calmed himself and rushed forward to grab a white jacket off a nearby lift truck and the helmet and goggles lying underneath it. Putting them on, he figured that none of the individuals rushing to-and-fro would bother stopping him as he proceeded to the open landing ramps.
Robert and Pam left their quarters in a hurry, hoping to find a television or a radio to see if there were any confirmed reports of the attack. He was hoping for a phone at the very least. What they ended up finding, though, were their hosts and two detectives walking in their direction. He paused and stared at the four, not certain of what to say.
“Mr. Miller, the detectives here would like to have a word with you over your investigation,” Alexander began with a smile.
“Really? Well, that may be a moot point now,” Robert said caustically and cast a glance at Joseph and then noticed Alexia, who seemed slightly frazzled.
“What do you mean?”
Before he could answer Alexander’s question, though, warning klaxons blared throughout the ship and the engines started up.
“What’s happening!?” Pam shouted.
“We need to get to the bridge!” Uday yelled over the growing din of the ship.
Together, they made their way down the rounded, curving halls and towards the main lift that would take them to the bridge.
Hangar doors automatically opened as the guards scrambled out of the way. The craft slowly maneuvered out into the open air, clearing the warehouse bay and slowly crawled skyward. Thousands of people started pushing towards the gates and crying for the ship as it launched into the darkened skies.
“What is that!?” Jean wondered, though no one had an answer.
A sudden and profound silence befell the people as they saw pinpricks of light zooming through the skies heading towards destinations on the ground, somewhere in the state.
Kylie watched the surface of Earth falling gracefully away below the fleeing ship. She viewed the scene on an electronic viewscreen in a detached manner. Behind her, the doors to the lift opened allowing admittance to six individuals. She didn’t bother turning as she felt the eyes of a few of them staring at her back.
“We’ve taken flight,” she said casually, before anyone could question her presence, and continued to stare at the view taking up a rounded curve of nearly half the perimeter of the bridge.
Uday, Alexander, Robert, Pam, Joseph, and Alexia inched forward and stared in disbelief as hundreds upon hundreds of little explosions, followed by billowing clouds of smoke and debris, littered the planet’s surface.
“Oh, no,” Uday muttered.
“What are we looking at?” Alexia ventured.
Alexander didn’t answer as he rushed towards a control panel and hit a switch. “Ajay, are our families on board? Is my wife safe!?”
Moments passed like an eternity for Uday and Alexander before a voice replied to them evenly.
“Yes, Sir. The ship triggered an automatic evacuation alert and we had plenty of time to get them on board.”
Alexander breathed a sigh of relief. Then a curious expression crossed his visage. “You programmed the ship to automatically launch?”
“If I did, I wasn’t aware of it,” Uday stated with just as equal puzzlement.
“What difference does it make? We’re here now,” Kylie said without emotion.
“Somebody tell me… is that what I think it is? Is this real?” Alexia stared at the screen and looked around at those gathered.
Joseph took her by her shoulders and held her against his chest. No one responded as they couldn’t manage to believe what they were seeing themselves. All were quiet as they watched their world in its death throes. The sounds of weeping echoed throughout the command center.
And here we are at the end of another chapter of Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age! Awesome! Hope you’ve been enjoying! Next week will be chapter eight! We’re fast approaching chapter thirteen and I’m sure you’ll enjoy where the tale takes us next! See you next week and read to you again soon!
~Timothy S Purvis
Since you’re here, why not head on over to my author’s page on Amazon Kindle and check out the works I have available even right this moment! Just click on my name and the hyperlink with take you there straightaway–> Timothy S Purvis
Why not check out the complete novella to Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age as well. Who wants to wait for the whole thing when it’s available now? Just click the link below and pay one buck for access to the whole story!