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7/14/2017 11:19:23 PM

REEF MOB, Ch. 79: Disciples

If you missed the last chapter of REEF MOB, you can find it [url=]here[/url], or if you need to find a previous chapter, you can find them all in the [url=]Table of Contents[/url]. Please give a bump or leave a comment if you enjoy this and any other chapter! ***  There is a saying amongst the Disciples: “Strengthen the body, empower the mind.” Those of us who have abandoned the Tower in the pursuit of truth have learned to live by this code, to dedicate ourselves to this higher ideal. They say that the Guardians are the servants of the Light, that they live to protect the City and the Traveler – yet were it not for the Awoken, they would have failed in their mission long ago. Osiris knew this, knew that centralizing our mission to one people in one location was too tempting for fate not to push back. He knew that war was not only likely, but inevitable. Osiris knew who the true enemy was, as well as who the true Guardians shall always be: “The watcher does not just observe. The watcher defines the observed.” Which is why we find ourselves standing against the enemy the Tower is blind to, an enemy who was once a friend, a servant of the Darkness who was once a Guardian of the Light. I feel the Disciples splinter, half-charging the creature known as the Red Awoken, the other half flanking around to box him in as the infected husks of Djido’s own disciples hold, watching us all warily. I hold my arms up before our target, voice booming as I address him, though I can feel his eyes flicking around, watching the Disciples. “Djido!” I call out, and I can sense the slightest shiver pass through him at the sound of his name. He seems to relax, almost grateful to hear me speak to him. “I’d forgotten what your voice even sounded like,” he tells me, shaking his head. “But then again, it’s not like we ever got to share our farewells…” There’s a change in his voice from what I remember – before he was questioning, unsure, but possessing a generous, caring spirit: a Guardian who never relished in taking life, one of the few who wondered what separated the Darkness from the Light. But now, though I hear the same notes of conflict, there’s a different tone beneath – resolve. “Surrender, Djido,” I command, and after only a moment I hear him chuckling darkly. “Surrender?” he croons, and there’s something new beneath his voice, a grating, cold, electric quality. [i]This must be the SIVA[/i], I think, wondering if Avi detected this change. [i]It must be bonding with him more deeply than we’d anticipated.[/i] “I am a prisoner here, and yet you still command me to surrender?” “You and I both know you’re only a prisoner so long as you choose to be,” I retort, feeling the Disciples holding their positions around him. I hear Djido open his mouth to respond, but then groan slightly, grasping the sides of his head, shaking as though answering an internal question – [i]Maybe it hasn’t bonded as much as we’d thought[/i], I consider, before the revelation hits me. [i]Or maybe…[/i] “Is someone in there with you, Djido?” I hear his head snap up, and can feel him glaring at me. “And what would you know?!” he snaps. “‘It is the blind eye that knows most keenly what it does not see,’” I answer calmly. Djido growls. “Enough with your sayings and mantras! You’re just a blind old cultist, and your Disciples are nothing but thugs!” I can’t help but chuckle as I hear Djido fuming. The Disciples tense around us, and as I hear them preparing for battle, I hear another, smaller body below, different from Djido’s own disciples. “Careful, Djido,” I warn as I continue to listen to the body move stealthily through the cell. “You walk a razor’s edge, but you are not yet lost. Remember the Parables: ‘The courage to walk into the Darkness, but the strength to return to the Light.’” Djido laughs darkly. “But you never believed I had that strength, did you?” “I knew you had more than Avi,” I reply coldly, knowingly as I hear him growl like an animal. “But not more than I.” Djido snarls as I hear the Disciples shift and grip their weapons tighter, as the body below us moves quietly closer – “You all serve this blind old fool,” Djido barks to the Disciples around him. “Why? Do you just like to kill? Do you believe his ramblings? Why? Why are you here? Why do you listen to his lies?” “Why did you?” I interrupt, scowling at the former Disciple. Rather than answer, his own disciples begin moving in unison, stepping closer to the Disciples, who raise their weapons, fingers on triggers – “Because I was a fool,” Djido answers darkly. “You don’t serve the Light. You just serve yourself, ‘Brother’, and so do all the fools who follow you.” “No, Djido,” I say sadly as I feel the body beneath us aiming her weapon secretly at Djido. “Only you serve yourself here. Your…SIVA is merely an extension of yourself – its will is yours alone.” I can hear him cock his head, perplexed as though thinking this for the first time, and in that brief moment the woman below us charges forward, firing and screaming – [i]Fool![/i] I think internally, hissing – [i]Don’t charge forward like that[/i] – The red tendrils, seemingly interwoven into the floor of the cell itself, rise up around the Awoken woman, twisting into her limbs as she manages to pull off a few more shots – – which plink harmlessly off Djido, who I can feel holding still mysteriously, pulling the tendrils back – [i]He knows her,[/i] I realize suddenly as I watch him, see him hissing as the red tendrils recede – The Awoken woman gets control of her gun and begins firing – – and then the Disciples join in, opening fire on Djido – “Hold!” I cry despite knowing they won’t stop – “HOLD!” Djido commands his own troops, and I watch them freeze. “You see!” Djido cries, gesturing to his own army as the Disciples finally cease fire. I scowl up at him as he continues, a crack in his voice. “Just can’t wait to murder! That’s all the Disciples are! Murderers and sociopaths, just killing and killing and killing! Just murder junkies, that’s what they are! That’s what you are!” I feel the vibrations throughout the cell clear as the unhinged tone in Djido’s voice – I hear the sonic map being fed to me through my helmet, and leap up as I feel the tendrils stirring beneath, hitting my boosters and flying up to the higher levels of the prison arena as I feel Djido suddenly seize several of the Disciples creeping toward him with his tendrils and fling them violently against the walls and floor of his cell – [i]Fools![/i] I think of them all as I pull out my hand cannon. “I think you’re only saying this because you know you’re still one of us,” I tell Djido sadly. “That you’ll always be one of us.” Djido hisses violently, reacting with disgust at the suggestion. “I’m not one of you,” he snarls with no trace of humanity in his voice. “But you were,” I retort knowingly as I hear him readying his troops. And as I prepare to do battle, I think upon the sayings of the Allspring with resolve of my own: “Light burns. Light heals. Light blinds. Lights reveals.” I unload a clip at Djido as I rejoin the remaining Disciples and the Awoken woman, all of us emptying everything we’ve got at what used to be our brother – Djido, roaring in rage, hoists his tendrils up, forming a barrier and shoving us all against the walls of his cell, leaving us all dazed as the first wave of his Red Army charges into the Disciples – The Awoken woman shakes it off first, charges forward – [i]A fool,[/i] I think again. [i]But at least she’s a committed fool.[/i] She opens fire on again as infected soldiers take fire from Disciples, careening toward them regardless – hearing their screams in my helmet, I dodge an infected Fallen Captain as it swings its shock blades at me – The woman stops to reload temporarily, and I feel the vibrations of the hulking red Ogre directing its destructive gaze at her – “Move!” I bark warningly as I dodge an attack from another infected soldier. “Move now!” …but she hears me too late. With a cry of horror, Djido reaches forward, extending his tendrils through his cell toward her to knock her out of the way of the beam – “IA!” I hear him bellow as the tendrils launch her upward – Without a word, she turns on him and opens fire. Reacting instinctively, I feel him recoil, his tendrils flinging her upward – “NO!!!” I hear him scream as I feel him reaching for her as she hurtles toward the breach made by the Talons’ initial assault – they race toward her desperately, and for a moment I almost imagine they could… But with the softest thud that I can barely detect, I hear her hand try to seize the edge of the wreckage, fail, and then I hear nothing as she drifts away into space. There’s a pause, and then I hear Djido turn to address me and the remaining Disciples. “Everyone keeps thinking I’m a monster,” he says darkly, the electronic purr of SIVA evident in every syllable. “But I wasn’t. I just wanted…but it doesn’t matter now. There’s only one thing anyone is ever going to see me as anymore. So you win, Disciple. Isn’t that what you love to hear? But by winning you’ve created a monster. And that…woman was probably the last thing I had that was keeping me from letting it out completely. But you win now. You wanted a monster – and I’ll show you a monster.” And with one motion, I feel Djido extend all the SIVA tendrils around him, stiffening them into jagged, deadly needles – With a synchronized crunch, I hear through my helmet the sound of my Disciples brains being punctured – And I run. It’s not the first time I’ve run from a fight in my life, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done so. But the sound I hear as I dive out of the cell and slam the door behind me at least reaffirms my decision: the synthetic remnants of Djido’s voice laughing.

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