Today marked four years after my husband's death, and the 18th birthday of my son. Unfortunately, it marked something else, too. Throughout the party I kept my eyes open for him, but never saw him. It was that night after the party that we had our talk. "David, do you remember the day after your father's death? In particular the man that talked to me that day?" I asked gently. He appeared somewhat confused but answered "Yes." I sat down, motioning for him to do the same. "There is something I've been meaning to talk to you about since that day. It partially involves the martial arts training I had you go through over the years with your friend Gavin." "Okay…" I sighed before continuing. "I am an Assassin. I work for that man, I have for many hundreds of years. Since I was nine. He saved me from an abusive father after my mother died giving birth to my baby sister, who also did not survive. I am part of his personal guard. His name is Chrysus Vola. I am one of five of his Guardians and Assassins. You were conceived during one of my long-term solo missions, which ended nine months after it should have. I had to leave the day after your birth. I had six-week vacation after that and then I started preparations for my next operation, Operation Blackheart. That is, in fact, the operation I was on when I was re-united with you and your father. Chrysus is like a father to me, he raised me, he trained me, and he stands by my side when I need it most. But I have to return to my work. As such, he has given me two choices regarding you. Either I can leave you here, and you will have the necessary finances to comfortably live the rest of your life here, or you can go with me and train to take up any position you wish in his kingdom, except that of Guardian. You can become a guard, but not a Guardian. Guardians are chosen, not the other way around. And even then, it requires hundreds of years of training to become a Guardian. As your mother, though, I have to try and dissuade you from joining the Army of Aurelius. Chrysus has agreed to take you through and show you Aurelius before you make your decision if you want. If you choose Aurelius over Earth, then I could still visit you on my off weeks, but if you choose earth then I would not be able to visit you unless it was related to the mission. You have until morning to make a decision. That is when he will be here to pick me up, and possibly even you."

7:00 AM. The doorbell rang, and I went to answer it. Chrysus's massive frame bent down to get through. David was already standing next to me. I assumed he had made his decision. "Hello David, Rebecca. David, I understand that you would like to see what you're getting into before you make your decision?" My son stepped forward confidently, saying "Yes. I would like to see this place called Aurelius to understand what I may or may not be doing here or there."

We popped out into Aurelius just behind the east wall. Chrysus gave David the full tour, showing him the castle itself, inside and out, and the villas surrounding it. He even took him to the top of the castle by air, which either scared David or delighted him. Four hours later they walked in together while I was sharpening my blades. "So? How'd it go?" I asked more to Chrysus than David, but David answered. I saw a glint in the pair of golden eyes before me, telling me Chrysus had some kind of plan for my son, what it was I didn't know yet. "It was awesome. Mr. Vola showed me the whole castle, the houses out in the town, and the walls, the secret tunnels, and even snatched me up and took me flying!" It was like he was little boy again, giddy. Chrysus said "I will leave you two alone for a little while, I must go receive Charlie and Ian from their mission. Be back in a bit." As he stepped through the wall I saw that glint in his eyes again. My son turned towards me with a smile. He started to talk but I stopped him. "David, if you choose to work here, you will work hard. It will not be easy, I want you to understand that. It's not all fun and games. Very often we are under an extreme and very real threat of death from our enemies. Luckily most of them are taken care of by Chrysus alone, only for some does he need us. Only the time when this kingdom was under threat of utter annihilation did he actually prepare the people to evacuate. Even then he did not call upon the help of his armed forces. Understand that if you do choose to be part of the armed forces, you will be ordered to kill people. You will have to train for at least 50 years to be chosen as a recruit for the standard infantry. And you will still train almost every day of your life. You will be given eternal life, but you will not be given a magic defense against being killed. You will not die of old age, but you can still die from being killed, such as in combat. Which is why he gives us the training we have, so that we can defend ourselves against the best fighters in the universe. He does not, however, teach you how to use a gun. Before I re-united with your father I had never even fired a gun before. For some odd reason he cannot shoot a gun in the general direction of the target to save his life. But he does teach you how to defend against someone using a gun, using only knives, swords, bows, and your fists. Most importantly he teaches you how to kill without a weapon. He has turned myself and five others into living, breathing, walking weapons. We have yet to suffer a defeat. Just remember that if you choose to stay here, then whatever you choose to do here will not be easy. You will get time off occasionally, but you will work hard for it. And if you don't do your part, if you don't carry your own weight, then you will be kicked out of the castle. You will get a warning, but after that you will not get another chance. Around here, it is an eye for an eye. But I will warn you now. If you ever hurt, or, if you could manage, kill someone that man cares for, you will experience the deepest fires of Hell. So just remember that when making your decision, okay?" He nodded, a bit dazed.

An hour later David approached me. "Hey Mom?" "Yeah?" "What is it with Chrysus? He seems… Off. He seems like he isn't human, disregarding the wings and all that." I sighed. "David, Chrysus Vola is a very powerful man. Even I, as close as I am to him, have yet to have seen even half of his true power. I have only scratched the surface of what he can do. I hope you never have to see him when he is fighting to the death, because he is brutal. You can hardly see him fight when he does. He once took out over 750 heavily armed and armored men in 28 seconds. He, with our help, took out an army of 600,000 men in 13 minutes. His feathers are deadly sharp, his eyes able to instill fear with a glance, his fingers able to kill with a touch, his sword able to mentally break a person from a distance, his other sword able to cook you from any distance. Not that he needs a weapon to kill. He is the best of all of us and has seen more than anyone. Sometimes I can hear him crying late at night when no one else is around. He has a wife back on earth, and a daughter, and sometimes I hear him tell himself to just stop and go home. One time he told me what he really and truly wanted. He said that he wanted to just go home and try and forget everything he had seen, and just relax at his wife's side. To make a man like that outright cry is something I cannot even imagine, yet alone experience and live through. So next time you see him, think about what he has been through. He has seen every terror that exists. Every internal demon that we face ourselves, he has each and every one of those ten-fold, and then some. He may appear big and strong on the outside, but inside, he is broken. Fighting is just one way he deals with the stress that he has, along with flying. If he is ever hard on you, it is for the better, and if he is ever mean to you, then the reason is that he is broken, he misses his family, and that he has seen too much to sleep soundly ever again. And yes, he is not human, at all. Most of us aren't. Myself included. Supposedly Chrysus and I came from the same place. On the scientific side of things, we are from different parents and times, but the matter that makes us up is from the same place. Since we are not usually in violation of the Law of Conservation of Mass, we have always existed, since the Mover created the Universe. But I cannot legally tell you anything more than I already have." "Thanks Mom. I think I'll be staying here. With you. I think I want to become a blacksmith, have my own shop, and make the weapons that you and your team use." He responded. "Oh, I think he has bigger plans than that for you, my child. Much bigger and much more important."

My name is Rebecca Amund, and that is Operation Blackheart.