Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 29
Ch.29

Magnus had been jogging up the stairs, two steps at a time, for four stories now. He could hear Neko’s labored breathing behind him fading away. She displayed an admirable attempt to keep up with him, but her muscles were aching for relieve.

“Hold on,” she demanded, but he denied her request. “Come on, slow down a little.”

He was a flight of stairs ahead now. Every corner he turned onto another flight, he could see her coming from the floor below.

“I said-” Neko’s foot slipped and her knee came up and hit a step. She fell on the stairs and grabbed her left knee. She held in a deep breath and pushed back the temptation to cry. “I’m not going to let you leave me.” She rubbed her knee a few times then turned to crawl the rest of the way. She climbed to the top of the stairs then jogged the next few steps only to bump her knee again. “Ah shit.” She crawled to the top of the set again, but  sat on the top step. Neko faced the ground, catching her breath, trying to think of a way to chase after Magnus. “I’m going to get you, and you’re going to deal with it, samurai.” She turned to crawl to the next set of stairs, but bumped into Magnus’s shins.

“Why are you so determined to follow me?” He looked down at her with narrow eyes.

“I’m your slave. You’re totally responsible for me.”

Magnus purposely sighed loudly, in the hopes that she would pick up the obvious annoyance he was experiencing from her. “You’ve hurt yourself and you were just following me. If I were in battle I assume you would try and help, yes?”

“Of course I would. Me and you would make an awesome team.”

“So when you get in trouble do you expect me to help you? If you were seconds from falling to your death and the objective was to continue on, you expect me to come to your aid?”

“Yeah. That’s what teams do.”

“Then you would have died without any illusions of my character.”

Neko gasped. “What?”

“The weak perish while the strong survive. That is the way I have been taught, and that is the only way I can live my life.” Magnus turned to walk away.

Neko grabbed his ankle and brought his foot down. “Don't turn away from me.” Her glare emanated her displeasure for Magnus.

“Are you feeling well enough to die? Do not be fooled child. I may have spared your life before, but if you attempt to detour me from my mission I will strike you down.” Magnus slowly drew his right sword from its sheath.

“I'm not afraid of you.” She sat on her right knee and clenched her fists.

Magnus had to complete his mission, and ever since Neko trailed him, his progress hindered. He decided not to kill her before and did not fully understand why. Magnus held his sword high again like last time. “I have to finish the mission,” he said. This little one would eventually die after I turn her over to Bio-Machina. If she fights while I strike her down, she will die like a warrior.

Magnus’s thoughts lightened the weight on his shoulders, as the weight on his shoulders literally lightened. Magnus brought his sword down fast, but Neko blocked with Magnus’s second blade as it came from its sheath and hovered a foot above her.

“You’ve stolen my weapon.” It was more of a question than a statement. It would take some time for the samurai to forgive himself for allowing another to wield his weapon, particularly his opponent.

“I’mma getchya.” She pushed her hands out, and sent a wave of telekinesis into his stomach. Magnus lurched back against the wall as Neko mentally grabbed the sword out of his hand and brought it to her grasp. “Yah.” The girl jumped in the air firmly holding his first sword with both hands, swinging downwards at the samurai. 

Magnus clapped his hands together and caught the blade inches from his face. A small prick tapped against his Adam’s apple and he saw his second sword, telekinetically held, against his throat. She smiled knowing that she was now the one looking down on him. “You rack disciprine.”

A swift kick and a flick of the wrist will solve all my problems, he thought, but the blade pressed harder against his throat.

“Don’t try anything funny. I’ve got you and that’s that.” Neko giggled, took the sword away, and readied another strike if the need arose. The sword she held with her mind came to her side pointing at Magnus. “I shall let you live for now, but you have to promise to take me with you. I told you I want to learn to use these things, and my contract with you isn’t up yet.”

Magnus sighed, and held back a surge of flustered thoughts attempting to dilute his behavior. To come to such an impasse with a fourteen year old, he thought. The samurai folded his legs and took an even breath as he counted backwards from ten in his head. When he reached one, he counted back up to ten in even numbers. After he reached ten again, he repeatedly added thirteen.

“What are you doing?”

Magnus continued to add thirteen.

“Are you trying to ignore me?” Neko drew the sword back like a bat. “I don’t like being ignored.”

He kept track of his number that was climbing into the triple digits.

“Take this.” She swung for his head.

Magnus leaned to his left and laid his left palm on the ground. The sword passed over his head as the second stabbed towards his body. Magnus pushed off the ground with his feet while he used his left hand to hold his body up. The second sword’s point hit the ground where he sat, as he was now in a one handed handstand. Magnus reached out and grabbed the sword sticking into the concrete.

“No you don’t.” Neko swung again from the right at Magnus’s arm. The number was still counting higher in his mind.

He kicked his feet to the left, brought his arm up, and dodged another strike from Neko. His body twirled and he stuck the landing, right side up. Magnus brought his free hand up and made a quick jabbing motion with his fist. Neko flinched and put the sword she held in front of her.

Magnus then picked his left boot up and brought it down on her toes. “Eee!” She dropped his sword and grabbed her foot. “That really hurt.”

He picked his sword up and thought about skewering her with it. “You caught me off guard, but I knew you couldn’t stay in my head.”

Neko rubbed her toes as she took a seat. “I was reading your mind the entire time. You were just counting like an idiot.”

“That’s what I wanted you to think. The other Ascending members might be ignorant to their abilities’ limitations as well.” Magnus sheathed his left blade and sat down in front of Neko. “You couldn’t read my underlying thoughts?”

“I think you’re full of it. I think you also broke one of my toes.” Neko looked at Magnus. “How come you stopped fighting? I’m not finished with you yet. You’d better get ready. I’m super close to beating you.”

“You are close to no such thing. Sit there and mend yourself, Ascending.”

“At least we’re not running anymore.” She wiggled her toes to make sure all of them still worked. “I don’t like you very much. I’m hungry.”

“What makes you follow me?”

“I've told you like a million times already. I have a contract, at least four years, under your command, and while I'm enlisted to your service I want to learn to be as cool as you. These contracts are very common you know.”

“Maybe common in the land of make believe.”

“No. They're very common period. Your sword looks like a Liuyedao sword.”

Magnus glanced at his weapon and shook his head. “I'm surprised you are aware of what a Liuyedao is. My swords however are a variation of the Nandao.” Magnus held the blade up between them. “The hilts are without a guard or any special type of pommel. The leather grip is long enough for both my hands to hold if the need arises.” He held the sword out to his side. “The blade is thirty six inches in length, Single-edged, running straight from hilt to point, and a two inch thick back. The material used to make the sword is the same material you see sticking out of my skin.” Magnus tapped the back of the sword with the metal part of his elbow.

She forgot about the pain in her foot as her mind focused on the sword. “What's that say right there on the back of the blade?”

Magnus tilted the back towards her.

“Power? Does the other sword say the same thing?”

Magnus shook his head. “The other sword is Pride. These are my tools when used in tandem bring forth justice.”

“That is so cool. I want a sword. I want to call mine authority so people will respect me.” Neko smiled bright. “How come you don't use guns?”

“I'm not opposed to using guns but these swords have significant meaning to me. My swords have also become a part of me as much as my own hands.”

“Super. Can I see pride?”

“No.”

“Why not? I handled it pretty well.”

Magnus softly laughed. He forgot he could make such a noise. “You were a tadpole wiggling on top of a lily-pad. You merely swung my sword like it was under your control, and you used your mind to control the other with as much mastery a newborn has over walking. To be efficient with any weapon you have to understand it.”

“But I had you pinned down. I gave you a break so I could still serve my contract with you.”

“There you go again with your fictional contract. The fact that you could put me in such a position is highly upsetting.”

“Don't underestimate Neko.” She put both her thumbs up. “I'm super cool.”

“Duly noted.” Magnus sheathed his weapon and stood. “Rise, child.”

Neko looked up at him blinking for a few seconds.

“I told you to rise.”

Neko got to her feet and brushed her skirt off. “Are we going to fight again?”

“We are done with quarreling. I will allow you to travel with me farther, but I refuse to allow you to slow me down. You will keep up with me or fall behind. There may be more to you than an annoying mouth and a blotch of pale skin.”

Neko started jumping up in down. “So sweet.”

“I wish to know something from you. What is it you fight for?”

Neko stopped jumping. “Uhm...”

“Answer carefully. Whatever it is that you fight for you must be honest with yourself, for it will be the source of all of your strength. When the time comes and your resolve is tested,” the memory of standing over her the first time, blade in hand, ready to kill, flashed in his head, “you will either fortify your believes or find the truth in what you really fight for. Look deep within yourself, Neko. Tell me what you fight for.”

The energy from his speech touched her little heart, as if everything he said was something she had been waiting for all her life. “I fight for,” her mind was empty but her heart spoke for her, “peace.”

 

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