Chapter 1

The Day my Father Died

Fire rose slowly into the heavens, ash filling my nostrils. I wandered through the debris, watching the scared faces of people flitter by as they ran, or flew in many cases. I didn't run. I wasn't afraid. This was what life in the slums had done to me. I made my way around the wreckage of building, now on its side. From there I could see the sentinels hunting down the last of the resistance.

"Jeremy!" a voice ahead of me came faintly.

"Jeremy!" there it was again. It was my father. "Run!"

I felt like I was in a dream, I couldn't help but watch as the sentinels cut through our ranks. My, father had come back to where I was and prompted me to follow him back to warn the others. I quickly snapped out of my trance and followed.

From what I knew, this war had gone on for tens of thousands of years, some say even as far back as the day of awakening. That was the day that my ancestors escaped from the prisons of the sentinels and exposed both our races to humanity. In the first battles the sentinels had won, taking rule over the humans.

We continued to run; the skies were to full of patrols hunting us down to even consider the idea of flying. We passed a statue of the Leader of the Seraphim Court that had been defaced, literally. Some of the soldiers had taken their swords to it and carved its face into a menacing grin. I always remembered this point, knowing that we were just a block away. As we turned a corner from one street down into an alleyway full of graffiti, I noticed something down a small alley to my left.

It was a girl. She looked young, about my age, with dark hair and a white dress. She looked scared as she tried to hide herself behind a trash bin. Suddenly two soldiers came in from the other side of the alley and grabbed her. They covered her mouth, but not before she gave a loud scream. And then I noticed something I should have seen from the start, she had white feathered wings. She was a sentinel.

My dad had already continued on, probably not even noticing I had stopped. I considered following my father, but as I watched the men take this girl away, I couldn't help but do something about it. She may be the enemy, but she's just a child. Then again so was I, and I had seen so much of war already. Either way I needed to do something. So I ran after them.

They entered a small room in the front of a deserted building. As I entered the building, I noticed one of the leaders of the resistance, Captain Tusken, Sitting in the empty room welcoming his soldiers and their "guest". I hid behind a partially collapsed wall waiting to see what they were up to.

"Well now," Tusken said in a smooth voice, "Who do we have here?" He smiled; he was a tall man, who appeared almost gentleman like even in his armor, black wings flowing behind him like a cape.

The frightened girl gave no answer, but one of the soldiers spoke up, "Sir, we believe this to be the daughter of Orion. We found her in the streets, we're still not sure why."

"Well isn't that something? The key to our success has arrived!" Tusken seemed to be more menacing now than I had remembered. "Oh, I'm sorry miss. I almost forgot my manners. My name is Tusken. And darling, I just want you to know, that if we have to kill you, it's because your father is too stubborn to value your life over control of the city. Food for thought."

The girl burst into tears and was mumbling to herself, "When my father finds you you're going to be sorry—"

"Sorry!" Tusken screamed back now enraged for the mention of her father. "I'll tell you what. I'll be sorry when in his last breath; your father gets to hear all the torturous things I've done to you! And then, only then will I say I'm sorry." He paused, and then whispered in her ear, "Sorry he wasn't there to watch."

He stood from his chair and still clutching it threw it at the girl, hitting her in the shoulder. The soldiers now stood by the door, not wanted to watch what was about to happen. Tusken had backed the girl into a corner, and had on his right hand a gauntlet, the fingertips crafted with fine obsidian. I made my move. Running I made my way between the two of them and spread my arms and wings.

"Stop!" I cried, "You don't have to do this!"

"Get out of my way boy!" He yelled as the gauntlet came in contact with my face.

I could feel the skin slicing open as the obsidian blades crossed my face and knocked my aside. My face stung, and my vision was blurred from the blood. As I got back to my feet, Tusken had turned back to the girl, and now had her by the arm. I pulled my knife from my side, and through blurred vision jumped onto Tusken's back and plunged my dagger into his right eye. He howled and then swirled around trying to grab me or throw me from his back while trying to find the dagger in his face with his other hand. The guards came into the room as I managed to pull it out and catch the side of his lip with my blade causing him to scream once more. I couldn't hold on any longer, and crashed to the floor behind him. The guards rushed to their captain, writhing in pain on the floor. I rushed to the girl, whose arm was cut and bleeding, and helped her up.

She looked astonished at me, and could only say, "Your wings. They're different from theirs."

"Yeah I said. You're welcome, now come on!" I said somewhat annoyed that she didn't even manage a thank you.

We ran out of the building with one of the guards close on our tail. Out of nowhere my father appeared and tackled the soldier behind us knocking him out.

"Dad?" I almost asked him what he was doing there, but realized it was probably a bad idea.

"What don't you get about the word run?" he said a little too seriously, "And who is she? What is she doing here?"

"Dad this is—" I stopped realizing I didn't know her name, "the daughter of Orion. Tusken would have killed her."

"And maybe for good reason—"

"She's just a girl!" I screamed back. "Have you forgotten what you taught me? About this war being for freedom not revenge?"

He looked at me very seriously, and then finally said, "You're right son. Now that the others have already been warned, we need to get her to safety. Come with me."

We started heading back down one of the streets, going back past the defaced statue and headed towards where the front lines had been. Without warning several of the sentinels stepped into our path and surrounded us. Their armor was a white metallic color, the plates covering most of their body, showing only in a few places a black more fabric like armor material underneath. Swords drawn, they closed in around us.

"Your excellency," the leader said speaking to the girl, his voice coming from his helmet like an old radio, "Come with us and we will dispose of these traitors."

She took a few steps forward and said, "Wait, they saved me from the men who kidnapped me. Let them go."

The guard paused then said to the others, the girl now at his side, "Exterminate them."

"No! You can't!" she screamed as they closed in on us, the main guard holding her by the arm, "they saved me! You can't! Please!"

My father raised his broken sword, and I pulled out my dagger. It was one that my father had given me when I was very young. Protect yourself, he had said. And I had. It was of a rather curious craftsmanship, being from the ancient sentinels, and passed down through the line of my mother. She had been a sentinel, which made me… well I'm still not quite sure. All I knew was the sentinels, or angels as they used to be called, had white feathered wings. My father and the rest of the Hoods, or demons, had black bat like wings. I was something different entirely.

"Remember what I said earlier?" My father asked.

"Run?" I asked back with a bit of a smirk?

"Now!" My father said as he swung his half sword behind him catching the soldier behind us off guard, and clearing a path through which we ran, fleeing from the sentinels.

We ran for what seemed like forever. I couldn't think of anything but running, watching the buildings to either side of me flashing by. We were going to make it! Then we hit a dead end. No way out but up. So, up we flew. Once we cleared the roof the full extent of the battle revealed itself. Squadrons had attacked the prison from every point of entry within the city, attempting to free those left inside. The city looked ravaged. Above us hundreds of sentinels and hoods were fighting for their lives. We landed on the roof and continued on foot, only gliding long enough to move from building to building. Suddenly a group of sentinels funneled down surrounding us on the roof. This time there were dozens.

One of the sentinels seemed to be their leader, clad in a much more elaborate armor and helmet, and with a strange metal disk floating around the top of his helmet like a halo. He spoke through his helmet with a voice like thunder.

"So the prophecies are true?" he said pointing at me with his sword. "Well, we shall see if we can't change that. Kill them both. Before any of them could react, a group of rebels circled up from below and started to attack. They lost focus on us, and I ran as my father had told me before. Only after making it away from the group did I realize my father had not followed. He had stayed back to fight with his men. I wanted to go back, but he saw me and signaled me on. So I left. That was the last time I ever saw my father.

I traveled to our meeting point, the house of an old friend of my father. His name was Conrad. It was there after about three days that I received the news that my father had been killed, so I decided to stay with Conrad. That was twelve years ago. The battles ended, and those left have had to fend for themselves on the outskirts of the city, hiding from the patrols, and living in ruins.

Nothing had changed in those twelve years, until today.