Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 42

“Who are you?” Ben asked.

Behind Ignis, he could see the rest of Bio-Machina. The purple eyes of Sagitta, the wings of Corvus, Senium’s sickening skin, and the massive size of their leader, Deus. Ben couldn’t help noticing the absence of Trisha, Samael, Neko, and Magnus.

Why did they leave me? he wondered.

Two metal hands took hold of Ben, underneath his arms, and lifted him off the ground. He looked over his shoulder and, “shit,” started to struggle against Gulo’s grip.

Can’t avoid this. His upper body strength received a boost from his telekinesis as he fought Gulo. The beast roared and squeezed Ben’s sides to subdue him.

“Calm down, boy. His bark is much worse than his bite. You’re far away from home now, aren’t you? I remember my mom would be vexed when I left the house unattended.”

“Ignis, it seems we have stumbled upon the anomaly,” Deus said, making his way towards the three. “He may be able to answer a few questions that we have.” The video recorder in his brain activated.

“Looks more like you’ve got that little pup scared,” Sagitta said.

It didn’t take long for Ben to accept Magnus’s appearance, but the rest of these nightmares appearing all at once was overwhelming. I have to get the hell out of here. He began to charge the cycle of energy inside his body.

“Introduce yourself, young one. We know who you are but let us all take the same steps at the same time,” Deus said.

“My name is Benjamin. Are you people the Bio-Machina?”

Deus nodded his head slowly. “I hope word has not traveled too far.”

“Boss, this kid is the free bird mucking around the Tower. Let’s be done with him,” Sagitta said.

“We have time, my child. I will give you the order to dispose of our friend Ben here soon enough,” Deus said. “What brings you to this Tower, Benjamin? You have come here from the outside yet you wield all the powers that the Tower’s occupants possess.”  This pseudo interrogation will do well on the report, he thought.

“I’ve come here to get someone out of this Tower. If I knew that you people were going to show up then I would have come a week earlier.”

“It seems we have a comedian. Tell me where you grew up Benjamin.”

“What’s with the questions? If this is a formal event maybe you should let me go get my tie.” Ben tried his hardest to stare back at Deus, but the fear was there. “And why are you people trying to kill the Ascending?”

“Supply and demand really. If we cut out the competition, then Bio-Machina will be the only one to supply. Enough about us answer my questions.”

If all of them made it this far in the Tower, then any one of them could hold their own in a fight. Where in the hell did everyone go? he thought.

“Why do you have powers like the Ascending?”

Ben hesitated to respond. Each second he stored more and more energy into one telekinetic push. “I was born here a long time ago, but escaped. Now I’ve come back for a friend.”

Deus snapped his fingers and Senium said, “He’s either lying or has been lied to. Sifting through the data I found that there were no successful escape attempts, and only two failed attempts in the Tower’s existence.”

Deus snapped his fingers again and Gulo squeezed hard on Ben’s ribs, the tips of his metal claws digging into his skin.

“Do not try to insult my intelligence, Benjamin. You have a choice in your death, and assisting your executioner will save you from most of the pain. Are you aware of the other facilities under Chen’s command? Perhaps if my child dug his claws into your sides we will find out about which you originate from?”

“There’s more Towers?” Ben could hardly fathom the possibility.

Deus laughed softly then said, “Perhaps there is more mystery than man in your tale.”

The cycle of energy inside Ben reached full charge. “As far as I know I’m one of a kind. Grandpa told me so.”

Deus’s optic implants saw past Ben’s false pretense of courage. His heart rate increased and tiny beads of perspiration formed on his brow. Deus snapped his fingers a third time. Sagitta raised one of her bows and a bolt cocked back against the string.

“You’re afraid, Benjamin, but that is fine. My condolences go to your unfortunate predicament. To miss the chance of receiving my gifts with the rest of the world, just short of a few years from now, is highly undesirable.” Deus stepped aside. “Sagitta, fire.”

“Yes boss.” The bolt jumped from the bow and soared towards Benjamin’s head. Inside his mind, his subconscious shrieked in terror from the company it was about to have.

His eyes closed tight and he shouted, “Stop.”

Ben opened his eyes, unintentionally exerting the heavy flow stored inside, and realized that the projectile- while still moving- was drastically slower than before. Ben’s confusion altered his hold over the bolt as it increased in speed. He reapplied his energy output and the bolt decelerated again.

No way.

Ben took this moment to grab the bolt with what little telekinetic energy he had to spare and redirected its trajectory. The bolt regained its initial velocity and passed Ben to plunge into Gulo’s shoulder. The beast grunted in pain, one of very few human like reactions it still possessed.

Ben thrashed to break free of Gulo and fell to the floor. Corvus came down with a swing of his war scythe to finish him, but Ben crawled backwards underneath Gulo’s legs as the scythe struck where he sat moments ago. Sagitta loaded another bolt and took aim.

Ben ran for the edge of the stage. He glanced back at his opposition and saw the many ways his life could end within the next few seconds. For an instant, time slowed down, but it was not Ben expending any of his telekinesis. Ben took note of Ignis’s behavior in this particular instance.

The arsonist simply stood in the same spot he had been during the interrogation, smoking a cigarette, but when their eyes met, Ignis gave Ben a wink. An almost instant feeling of disgust seated itself within Ben. Though they never met before, Ben’s mind acquired an insight to the man from making his acquaintance.

Ben faced forward, leapt over the handrail, and took to the first set of stairs. Just as he reached the second step, his vision filled with small black dots. The next breath of air he took logged in his throat. His legs weakened and his senses dulled as he fell to the stairs. His vision nearly left him but gradually returned with an intense barrage of physiological turbulence. A firestorm of pinpricks rattled every fiber of Ben’s skin, and then onward to the inner nasal cavity and throat. His brain felt like it shrunk inside his skull, squeezing the cerebrospinal fluid down the back of his neck. A blossom of heat and numbing cold brushed against his temples, ruining any chance of focus.

What’s happening to me?

His brain’s violent reaction to his high level of telekinetic output left him beyond defenseless.

Gulo stood over Ben, picked him up by the neck with a single arm, and threw him back on stage.

Ben hit the ground and tried to gather his bearings. The world was still out of focus and the enemy surrounded him. Corvus came from behind Ben and pulled him up to his knees, holding on to Ben’s arms for good measure. Sagitta kicked Ben across the chin and split Ben’s lip open. Deus, Ignis, and Senium stood by letting the rest of the team accomplish the mission.

Their assault was suspended as they talked amongst each other on who should kill Benjamin. He sat there still trying to regain full consciousness as he heard them laugh and joke back and forth.

How can these people enjoy this? What did I ever do to them?

You’re alive Ben, and that’s a crime, he heard.

What do you want with me? Leave me alone Baal.

I was really hoping you would have made it to the top. There’s much I wanted to tell you. Your parents’ whereabouts should have been enough incentive to keep you going.

Ben looked up at his captors. He saw Sagitta raise her hand. You were the one that brought me into my mind. It’s your fault that I didn’t run away while I had the chance.

Is it my fault? I had no idea they were entering the room, Ben. I was busying talking to you, honest. I wonder where Trisha and Samael ran off to, Baal thought.

Ben closed his eyes. What are you trying to say?

Stop being so naïve. Trisha and Samael had separate agendas in following you up the Tower, Ben heard Baal’s laughter dance around his head. You mean to tell me you didn’t see it there? Right in front of you?

Sagitta readied a bolt.

Trisha was secretly plotting to turn you in, and Samael didn’t like seeing her and you get closer so he wanted to get back with her. It’s obvious what would happen here. How many times does Benjamin Woulms have to be told that he’s running into a brick wall. Even Lilly mentioned how pointless it is for you to come here, you know, the person you are here to save.

You’re just trying to get in my head.

I suppose you’ll be leaving me shortly. Have a nice afterlife.

He opened his eyes and saw the crossbow across Sagitta’s arm cut in half. The bolt fell to two pieces on the ground and her crossbow was broken. They all looked at Benjamin, expecting him to be the culprit, but there was another there.

Corvus’s head jerked to the right with a smack sound and he fell to the ground with a bloody nose. Ben felt himself rise off the ground and draped over a boney shoulder as the stage beneath him became shady.

“Magnus,” Deus said.

Magnus became visible, now running off the stage with Ben in tow and a sword in his right hand. The group of people heard, “Come on. Come on. They’re going to get us, sensei.” Neko stood by one of the exits holding the door open.

“Some more assistance would be appreciated. Stall their counter attacks.”

“Can do.” Neko closed her eyes and channeled into the perceived environment of Bio-Machina. The stage fell through the floor and walls surrounded the entire team. Corvus flew upwards to catch the rising ground, but smacked against the now invisible ceiling. Gulo roared at the cage that formed around him. Senium and Ignis stood beside Deus, feeling indifferent. All of them mislead except Deus, he simply stood there recording the way Neko used her powers.

“Calm yourselves my children.” After a few seconds of the walls rising, they dissolved and the exit door shut with a click of the lock engaging.


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