A/N – Hi. Welcome to the second installment of The Eternal Divinity...The Axis of Power! Luckily, during this last month I was able to come up with a fully formed outline for the entire second part. If you could see me right now you'd probably be freaked out about how I'm fiendishly rubbing my hands together right now, but I'm just so totally excited about this story. So much awesome crap is gonna happen! Okay, I'll shut up and let you read now :)
Talia wasn't sure what the appropriate reaction was upon hearing about one's imminent death. Taking a nap probably wasn't it. Nonetheless, that's what she tried to do during the flight.
A few hours earlier, she, Kade and Pauletta had collected their things at the base and said goodbye to Nari before they got into the small aircraft that was parked along the small coast of Lake Ashi. Talia had never been on a jet before, but it was a nice one as far as she could tell. Very shiny.
Thea had been waiting for them aboard and she filled them in on her vision. She had seen Duskar pushing Talia off of an endless looking precipice of some sort. Unfortunately, it wasn't really clear where they were.
At the moment, they were headed toward London to talk to the Divined Quorum. The Quorum was composed of a group of elders who had been the leaders of the Divinity since Talia's parents died. Thea had already been in London to give them a report on the Iowa base when she had her vision. Then, due to the very recent disaster at Izo's house, the Quorum decided to get Thea to pick them up in Japan so they could meet Talia and decide on a future action plan. Talia really couldn't say she was looking forward to it.
Several hours later the jet landed on a desolate strip of muddy field. It was the middle of a rainy afternoon in London and Talia was about ready to conk out. The hours she had spent fake sleeping while her mind replayed the horridness of that evening over and over again hadn't refreshed her in the slightest. She had so many questions she needed answers to, but then she'd have to ask Kade. And currently they were avoiding speaking to each other as much as possible.
When they disembarked, a large black old fashioned car was there to pick them up. They rode toward the main part of the city and Talia flitted in and out of sleep, missing the sites of London. She thought she spotted a red double-decker bus through the fogged up car window at one point, but that was it as far as attractions went. Talia finally fell into a dead sleep, but what seemed like two minutes later they'd arrived at a fairly big redbrick house in a dreary looking neighbourhood. The house was probably the most well kept on the street with an immaculately green front yard and a surrounding fence of tall rectangular bushes. It was an uninhabited Divinity property according to Thea. The house had a very 'For Sale' feel to it. The walls were all a boring white and there was a stagnant quality to the air inside. There was furniture, but it was mostly covered in sheets to protect from dust.
Thea told them they'd go and meet the Quorum at the Divinity Headquarters at nine that night so they had a few hours to relax. Talia quickly headed up the tall winding staircase to the second floor where she found herself a large stuffy room with old granny-ish wallpaper. She stripped off her dirt caked new clothes and promptly fell back asleep.
When she woke up the fancy old multi-dial clock on the wall told her it was 7 o'clock. She dropped groggily down from the high four poster bed. Her head hurt a bit, but she wasn't feeling nauseous anymore. She threw on some sweats and she clomped downstairs in search of food. She made it down the staircase and then she followed her nose, which had picked up a spicy savory scent. The smell led her to a sparsely decorated white kitchen. She found Thea unpacking a bunch of take out boxes and spreading them out on a big counter in the center of the room that took up most of the kitchen. Kade was seated at a stool at the far end of the counter eating.
Thea looked up at Talia hovering in the doorway and smiled. "I just went out and got some Indian for dinner. Come have some, you must be hungry. Have you seen Pauletta?"
Talia shook her head as she went over and climbed up onto a stool at the edge of counter. She perused the boxes of food and selected some chicken curry and rice.
"Ahhaw," she gasped after she took her first fiery hot bite.
Thea handed her a glass of water. "Sorry. I probably should have warned you about that."
Talia nodded quickly before she gulped down half the glass.
"There's some milder ones…" Thea started when her cell phone started to ring. She got it out of her pocket and answered it. She said a few "uh huhs" into the phone and then held up a finger, signaling Talia to wait a minute, and headed out of the room. Talia looked over the boxes of food again and chose one with the letter m penned on the lid, hopefully for "mild." Happily, it turned out she was correct. She ate and didn't say anything and Kade didn't say anything either. It seemed to be getting quieter by the second and she seriously considered getting up and taking her chicken to go.
"Talia," she heard him say after a while.
She finally looked at him for the first time since she'd sat down. He'd changed into his ops uniform and his hair looked damp like he'd recently taken a shower. Which reminded Talia she badly needed one.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Yep," she answered dully.
"Well, obviously not, but I'm sure I'll be just fine," she said with fake cheer.
"Okay, 'cause, um…." He looked uncomfortable. "You should know something. Zac can make people do things they wouldn't normally do. So, you know. Don't feel bad."
Talia stared blankly at him for a moment before she got it. Her face started to flame. "Oh. Oh my God, do you think that – do you think that he forced me?" she asked incredulously. "Do you really think he would do that?"
"I don't know, you tell me."
She covered her eyes with a splayed hand. "No. He didn't. It was definitely a very distinct feeling that one time he used his powers on me, so…no."
"But you still had no idea who he really was…" He kept talking, kept making more excuses for her. She knew she should have just nodded in agreement and let Isaac take all the blame, but she just couldn't do it.
"Kade," she stopped him quietly, as she stared down at her food. "He told me."
"Before we…" She grimaced and shut her eyes. "He told me he was in the A.S."
He was silent and after a minute she risked opening an eye to see his expression.
It wasn't good.
"Listen," she started, leaning toward him over the counter. "I'm so so sorr –"
She stopped at the sound of the kitchen door thudding open. Talia sat back in her seat as Pauletta walked in and made a beeline for the food.
"Oh thank God," she said as she took a seat on the stool between them and grabbed a box. "I was starving."
Talia looked sorrowfully down at her chicken again.
After a moment Pauletta raised her eyes and looked between them. "What the hell crawled up your asses?"
Around quarter to nine, they were back in the car on the way to Divinity Headquarters. It was raining so hard Talia couldn't see anything a foot beyond the car window. The car stopped after a few more minutes, and when they got out she could see they were in an old run down part of town. The street was flanked by shady looking taverns and the area was deserted due to the torrential downpour. Thea lead them down a dark narrow alley that Talia would have never stepped foot in if she were alone.
Thea bent down near the end of the alley and started to lift a grated manhole cover. Even through Talia knew they probably weren't actually headed into the sewer system, she still wasn't too thrilled as they started to make their way down. There was a ladder, but it was short so they had to jump the last couple of feet down. They were in a small wet concrete room and the far wall had the usual metal card slot base opening that Thea swiped to reveal a wide hallway with an arched ceiling. Talia thought the place looked a bit like a courthouse because of all the big pillars and wood paneling. There were people in full dark blue Divinity uniform walking around looking serious and official. At the end of the hall there was a double wide carved wooden door that Thea knocked on.
A guy in a blue uniform opened the door a bit and when he saw Thea he nodded slightly and opened the door fully, letting them in. Talia half expected to find herself in a courtroom, but instead it looked like an office board room. There was one long table in the center of the room. Seated facing the door, was a line of about fifteen older looking men and women. Instead of the regular blue uniforms, their uniforms were a dark gray. There was a bit of quiet chatter which stopped just when they entered the room. Fifteen pairs of somber eyes focused on Talia. She wasn't sure what to do with her face. Smiling seemed wrong so she tried to copy their grave expressions. They walked over to the empty side of the table and right before Talia started to sit, the elderly man in the center chair stood with some effort, and everyone else followed. He started to say something in a language she didn't recognize and when he was done everyone else said a foreign word in unison before they all sat down. The chairs were tall with high backs and when Talia sat her feet barely brushed the carpet.
"Talia Perenglow," the old man in the center seat said in a slow craggily sounding voice that people on the cusp of death tended to have. "Welcome to the Quorum. We have waited a great while to meet you. I am Godfrey Peeble, the leader of the Quorum." He went on to introduce the rest of the Quorum members, even though Talia had no hope of remembering all their names. "Due to the chaos that ensued in Japan last night," he continued, "we are now completely unsure of how much information the Ascendant Sons have acquired. We do not know if they have discovered the intel Izo Wakahisa had for us. Furthermore, we do not know if Wakahisa revealed the location of the Paradox segment that was under his protection. We need to determine the Ascendant Sons progress so that we can devise an offensive strategy." He turned to the woman on his right who looked like the youngest of the group in her mid fifties. "Yes, Joan, go ahead," he said like she'd asked him to speak, even though she hadn't.
Joan had blonde hair streaked with silver and she would have been much prettier minus the pinched expression on her face. "I think that it would be best to arrange a meeting with Duskar and try to figure out what he's acquired," she suggested.
"And how exactly would we do that?" asked the short man on Godfrey's left who Talia thought might have been named Martin something. "We haven't had a face to face with Duskar since before The Assassinations. I highly doubt he's going to speak to us now."
"It's possible he'd arrange a meeting," Joan said. "If we had something he wanted."
"True," Martin conceded, "but what would Duskar want from us?"
Joan looked across the table and smiled thinly at Talia. "A Perenglow."
A/N – Terribly short, I know. But don't worry. I don't really have anything to do for the next couple days so I'll spend my free time writing the next chapter. Remember, it hasn't yet been scientifically proven, but there may be some correlation between me writing quicker and receiving reviews. Just a theory :)