Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 13
Ch.13

“Settle down kids, settle down,” Mrs. Bailey said.

In the sub levels of the Tower, a nursery room was going about its planned schedule. The children ran around in circles causing adolescent chaos.

“Kids please settle down, its lunch time.”

All the little kids had their toys out, bursting with energy.

“Kids, that's enough now the-”

There was a knock at the door.

Mrs. Bailey walked to the door and opened it halfway, a failed attempt at detaining the runners, as one little girl escaped. “Maria, stop right there.”

She giggled and looked back, expecting the teacher to chase after her. Before Maria knew it, a stranger held her high in the air. She squealed at the sudden surprise and bubbled with glee.

“I got myself a little one,” the man in black said. He gave the little girl a smile to let her know everything was okay.

Maria looked down at the man and said, “You have whiskers,” as she reached for his goatee.

 “Hey now, these here whiskers are very sensitive. I’ll tell you what you can play with.” The man put her down and took the fedora from his head. “Here.” The hat consumed her dome and fell over her eyes. She tried to adjust the hat, but it wouldn’t fit any which way.

The woman walked over and picked Maria up. “You know you’re not supposed to run out of the room.” She placed the child back in class and took the fedora. “Now stay here while the adults talk.” As she left the room, the lock’s tongue hit against the hinge stopping the door from completely closing.

“Good afternoon Ma’am. How are you doing this fine day?”

“Call me Jess. Are you from the board?” she offered his hat and he shook her hand.

Ignis smiled and said, “That is correct. How could you tell?”

“It’s not often that such a well-dressed man comes down this way.”

“I do dress to impress. I prefer this suit better than my khaki uniform, looks more professional don’t you think?” The Jacket, vest, slacks, gloves, and suede shoes were made darker in contrast to the white long-sleeve undershirt he wore. “Enough about me, though. How have the little ones been doing?”

“They’re fine. This set usually does pretty well at behaving themselves. As much as five year olds normally behave that is.” Ignis took a step back and looked into Jess’s eyes. He placed his hands in his pockets and left his thumbs sticking out. Now that there was an awkward distance between the two, she took a step forward and continued. “Is there anything you particularly want to know?”

Ignis looked at the ceiling and then down the hall. He took another step away from the classroom and said, “I’m new here and I was trying to get a feel for how things operate. I believe it’s best to start from the bottom, or should I say, first base.” He winked at Jess smiled, exactly what he wanted. “From what I understand there’s heavy segregation that takes place in this building.”

“You could look at it that way but it’s more of a cycle.” She took a step forward. “Because of the special nature of the working environment we all have to live here. These levels and below are where the staff live and the newborns are taken care of. This is also the beginning of the education and training process.”

The classroom door opened silently.

“About ground level is where you can find the middle school and high school environment.”

Ignis readjusted his hat, quickly tipping it forward then placing it back in its normal spot.

“After that you have the Ascending members and advanced telekinetic training rooms slash laboratory facilities.”

Jess was unaware to the silence that fell upon her class of children.

“I’m not sure what happens above there. There’s always something going on that someone higher knows about.”

“That is true,” he said. Ignis took his shoulder off the wall and took his gloves off. Jess continued talking, but he heard enough. He tossed his left glove on the ground and she stopped talking. His grey, metal hand alarmed her.

“Sir?” then the kids started screaming.

She turned towards the classroom but Ignis grabbed her, placing his metal hand across her mouth. Jess kicked and threw herself around, but that was as pointless as her muffled cries for help. Ignis found himself a nice grip with his free hand, and in one quick motion, snapped her neck. He let her body fall and pulled out a cigarette.

He opened the door and said, “Take your time Gulo, just pass me a chair,” as he reached inside the classroom. The children that were still moving retreated to the back corner and huddled together as they cried. Ignis got his request, the back of the seat blood stained. “This will do.” He closed the door and wedged the chair beneath the knob if any child made a final run for it. He sat on the chair nonchalantly and smoked his cigarette.

At the same time, one of his comrades was making their way down the same corridor.

“Smoking’s bad for your health,” Senium said.

“I’ve already lived long enough. How’s your tasking?”

Senium pointed at his backpack with his thumb. “Still have to find some more info about this joint. I located a few servers but this place is divvied into a unique digital hierarchy. Looks like I’ll have to go up to find more of what I want.”

“So why are you down here?”

“From top to bottom is how I’m skinning this cat. No need to go any lower if you haven’t yet. I smoked the place out.”

“I thought you looked a little pale. Your yellow hue is not as toxic as I’m accustomed to seeing.” Ignis heard tiny hands scratching at the other side of the door.

“Looks like you two are having fun.”

“Little ones always give you a good scream before the rattle,” Ignis said with a twinkle in his eye.

Senium nodded and said, “Later.” He left down the hall as a light cloud of gas followed him.

Ignis finished his cigarette and flicked it on the ground. He entered the nursery and saw Gulo in the back of the room. “All done? That should hold you over until we get to the next course.” The beast grunted. Gulo’s jaw-like contraption stained with blood and thick splotches covered his shirt. His claws dripped scarlet raindrops.  “Who’s a good boy?” Ignis asked.

 

The samurai was making headway to the top of the Tower, jogging with a wide gait, easily traversing the floors on each level. Magnus would run past labeled rooms and recreational lobbies alike, searching for his targets. He understood which doors held access to the ones he was after. Ten minutes ago, he came by a room full of dead plants and one former Ascending member.

“There is another who slays these beings,” he said to himself.

Down the hallway, a man walked out in front of Magnus’s path, wrapped in his notebook. The white coat blinked and then his face was forced into the wall, shattering his glasses and breaking his nose. The poor bastard fell to the ground unconscious.

Slowly regaining his awareness, the scientist woke in the room he previously departed, sitting at his desk. The ceiling then came into focus by the firm yank of his hair. Magnus leaned over and brought his face into view.

“I need information,” the man’s wallet lay on the table, “Ericson.”

He reached underneath the table and fingered for his rescue. Magnus placed the emergency switch on the desk then slammed the button with Ericson’s head. “Perhaps another nap will make you compliant.”

Before he could give Ericson another concussion, Ericson said. “What information do you want? I’ll tell you, just ask. Please don’t kill me.”

“Where is the closest Ascending member, beggar?” Magnus strained Ericson’s neck, still pulling on his hair.

“One resides on the floor above us. His room occupies most of the floor.”

“Anything else I should know?”

“I don’t know anything important. I just run tests on the fields of air molecules around the subjects when they use their powers. I don’t affiliate myself with them any more than that.”

He heard nothing but truthful desperation. “Take your life and leave. I haven’t any use for it.”

The time between each step filled with mental preparation for his fight. Two mahogany doors signaled the entrance to the battlegrounds, and the beginning of his first fight with a real Ascending member. Inside, auburn wood walls and honey colored floor tiles covered the setting. Two couches sat in front of a fireplace that encompassed most of the right wall. To his left was a divider that separated the dining room, and past that another divider that hid most of the recreational parlor.

His honed senses told him of an easy stream of liquid, pouring into a container full of ice cubes, twenty feet away. Magnus investigated the noise and found the parlor and all its holdings. The noisemaker sat on a bench, two feet in front of a concert grand piano. He slowly swirled his drink in his hands and sat with his legs crossed. After clearing his throat, invisible hands began tapping away at its keys. Gradually the pianist sipped away at the liquor without missing a note.

A sword plunged into the piano with a clang noise, and interrupted an almost perfectly executed piece of Rondo alla Turca.

He looked at the sword for a moment then finished his drink with a long pull. The man then stood and adjusted the tie on his three-piece brown suit. “Not a fan of Mozart are we?”

“Are you the one that inhabits these quarters?”

“You shall address me as Bloodsaw, William Bloodsaw. Know this, savage, gentlemen introduce themselves whilst they first meet, but I expected that from a coon.” Ironic as his slurs were, the umber skinned Bloodsaw continued with, “Come now darkie, hurl your name not your weapon.”

He drew his second sword and said, “I am Magnus and I have been sent here to cleanse this Tower of your people’s presence.”

Bloodsaw shook his head and walked across the room to the bar, keeping out of blades reach. “How about we share ourselves a drink?” Two bottles came to the counter and uncorked themselves. “I don’t have any Hennessey, but would you care for some Brandy?” The dark brown bottle poured into Bloodsaw’s glass, as another decanter came from underneath the counter filled by the bottle of clear liquid. The clear glass then slid across the bar, closer to Magnus. “I feel like there is unnecessary tension between us.”

Before the glass touched his lips, Bloodsaw said, “Hold on.” He placed his glass on the counter as the two containers switched positions. “That’s a better age.” After a drink he said, “I assure you it’s not poison. This is my personal reserve. It would not do me any good to pour myself my own last drink.” He set his drink down then reached underneath the bar. “This is poison,” pulling out a light brown, unmarked bottle. “That’s why it’s down there.” When Bloodsaw replaced the bottle, he flipped the silent alarm switch.

After another sip from his drink, he said, “What is that silver you have on your shoulders? It seems to be on your elbows and knuckles as well. Moreover, that clothing you wear. You look like a weapon, some combat vested commando.” Another headshake followed. “So it’s destruction you’re after?”

“I walk upon an honorable path, which has made our roads cross.”

“You are vermin scuttling about. No doubt, there are others like you.” He placed his half-empty drink on the counter.

“Prepare yourself, Bloodsaw.”

The Ascending member adjusted his top and said, “Watch carefully.” As he threw his right hand out, four metal pieces came from his sleeve that formed a spinning, circular saw blade in midair. The serrated teeth of the blade bit at Magnus’s sword before they could reach his body, an almost bloody surprise attack. The blade continued to spin along the edge of Magnus’s sword, creating a loud whine as the two metals fought for supremacy.

Magnus swatted the saw away and jumped back.

Bloodsaw mentally retrieved the blade, making it whistle at his side as it spun at different speeds. “I gave you a chance to talk this out, gentleman to dog.”

“You speak only lies.”

“You’re right.”

The glass near Magnus left the counter and spread its liquid, forming a thin wall in the air. Magnus dashed towards the piano as the square piece of liquid followed behind him. He jumped over the piano, just as the clear fluid hit the instrument and melted through its hard wood. The piano caved in and the acid continued to eat through the floor.

Magnus encased his off-hand sword and pointed his main hand weapon at Bloodsaw.

“Let’s try a bigger batch.” The bottle of acid on the counter shot towards the samurai.

He picked the piano bench off the ground and tossed it at the bottle. The two objects collided in an explosion of glass and acidic compound. Magnus leaped over the dissolving seat and swung his sword down on his enemy.

Bloodsaw brought his blade up and held off the attack, staggering a bit from the force of the blow. “Heathen.” He put his left hand out and another blade came from his sleeve and ripped through the air. Magnus leaned to his left and let the blade graze through half an inch of his side.

The pain stung, but he knew failure would sting more. Magnus sent his iridium-alloyed knuckles across Bloodsaw’s jaw in three rapid successions, and then withdrew his blade to elbow his opponent in the face. The whistle of the returning saw came at Magnus’s back so he drew his second blade and kicked Shawnee in the stomach. He deflected the rouge saw from behind and then stabbed for the Ascending member’s heart.

Bloodsaw rolled out of the way before he was squired, pulling another set of circular saws from his sleeves. He stood swinging wildly at his attacker, spitting more racial slurs. The blades would reach out to eviscerate Magnus, but every deflected swipe pushed Bloodsaw into a deepened rage.

Catching sight of his loose, flailing pattern, Magnus gave an aggressive slash at one of the blades and broke it in half. The broken blade was unexpected by Bloodsaw as his powers sent the two halves into opposing directions, shooting into the walls. Magnus then caught Bloodsaw’s left hand swinging down at a wide arch and shoved his right blade into Bloodsaw’s stomach.

The Ascending member shouted as he reached out to the ceiling and took hold of the chandelier with his powers. Magnus looked up at the giant decoration piece as the gaudy light fixture detached from the ceiling to descend upon them. With a backflip, Magnus avoided the chandelier and landed on his feet to view the explosive crash of his flattened adversary. The soon to be bloodstain grew on the floor, and the metal rods of poor decisions perforated Bloodsaw’s body. Magnus sheathed both his swords and walked over to the glass of alcohol that used to be Bloodsaw’s.

“I would have this drink for you and your last fight,” he then threw the liquor on Bloodsaw’s body, “but you do not measure such condolences.”

 

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