“I must be going insane” Alice had an unnerving smile on her face, staring blankly at the far wall.
“Hmm? Why so?” Dark enquired, her tail waving from side to side. Alice looked at her.
“Because a cat is talking to me” Alice drearily replied, emitting a slight giggle.
“Actually” Dark began. “You replied to my question, thus are in fact speaking to me and so not only am I talking to you, you are talking to me. You are holding a conversation with a cat.” She winked.
Alice stared at her in disbelief, then sighed heavily, and continued. After all, this was all a dream, right? What could she lose?
“So you summoned me here for what purpose?” Alice spoke assertively.
“Well, I simply wished to fill you in on what has occurred in the period you were comatose.” Dark leapt up onto the bed and looked down at Alice. “Is that so bad?”
“I… I guess not, go on.”
“Your mind was trapped in your body. That you already know. The acolyte who was sent to help you did his job well – you were out of the coma faster than we expected.”
“How long have I been out?” Alice asked hesitantly
“A mere matter of weeks.” Dark’s response seemed unusually positive.
“WEEKS?!” Alice would’ve fallen over had the door not been in the way. “But… what happened here?”
“You’ve no doubt seen the destruction. It started slowly. You know about the assassins being killed of one by one? Well it escalated. For years the public had been in fear of the assassins, and rightly so, since they held up the government. Well once this ‘Sect’ as they call themselves started killing assassins, the public moved in, no longer fearing them. They protested to the government and forced military action to exterminate them. Fearing a military coup, the government gave in. They began their attack on the base a few days ago”
Alice sat there, trying to take in the events. She’d been raised on the idea of the assassins being the agents of the government, the agents of death. The city lived in fear, and that stopped them arguing against the government’s policies.
“So how come we’re still here?” She enquired carefully, peering out the window to see the combat outside.
“A combination of skill and luck.” Dark replied. “…Mostly luck, although we’ve had relative success in the assassination of multiple high ranking officials of the campaign.”
Alice got up and wandered over to the window. The city glowed a dark red as combat and fires raged on below. She turned to Dark, who was curled up on the bed. “So why am I here?”
“To help” She bluntly replied.
“Um… okay, so what do I have to do?”
Dark opened one eye and peered outside. “Duck”
“What?” Alice instinctively replied, before realising. She dropped down, hitting the floor hard as glass flew around her. Rolling onto her back, she saw a dark figure standing over her, holding onto an iron girder. The figure looked around, surveying the room, before it turned its head down at Alice. The hood was complete black; Alice could see no features inside. She breathed sharply as the figure reached out a hand towards her. It held it out as if it wanted her to grab it. Alice lay still out of fear, her eyes wide. The figure let out a long sigh.
“For God’s sake Alice come on!” The figure pulled the hood down, revealing a face that Alice had seen before.
“O-Owen?” Alice hadn’t seen the man before her in years. She’d been told he’d gone AWOL on a mission, back when she was an acolyte. She hadn’t ever expected to see him again, but neither had anyone else. And here he was, standing before her.
“The very same” he called out, winking. “Now, get on this thing, we need to go” he cried, gesturing to the girder. Alice complied, leaping up onto it and grabbing tightly. Owen smiled at her, then rushed into the room, grabbed the hissing Dark and depositing her on the beam.
“Look after her Alice!” Owen shouted over his shoulder as he vanished into the building.
Alice looked down at Dark, who was looking straight up at her. She sighed and patted her head. Dark gave her a disapproving look between pats. Looking down, Alice could see the chaos and destruction below. Skeletons of buildings stood precariously, fire raging within, rubble strewn along the streets, abandoned cars lying still. At the base of the tower she could vaguely see combat occurring between assassins in shadowy outfits and the uniformed military. Tanks were breaking through the perimeter and beginning to fire on the base, while a few helicopters flew over the main battle providing support fire. The tower was the largest structure in view, dwarfing all other visible buildings, and was one of the few that still had walls. It seemed the military had simply formed a wave of destruction across the city. Alice looked back at Dark, who’d curled up into a ball and was purring softly.
Suddenly the girder shook violently, and Alice had to quickly grab onto the suspension cords, and to Dark to stop her falling off. Slowly the girder began to rise away from the window, and Alice started yelling upwards to the crane operator to stop and wait. The girder rose faster, and she began yelling at the window for Owen. He appeared, looked at the retreating girder, too far to jump. He stopped at the window, smiled at Alice and saluted, before running back into the building. Alice groaned and punched the girder, wincing and sucking her knuckles.
She heard the whistling before she saw the projectile, grabbing Dark and curling into a ball, shielding her from the imminent explosion. Hearing the rush of air she felt the back of her outfit burn away and her back burn. Crying out in pain, she desperately held onto the support cable and Dark. When everything had settled, she looked back at the tower.
Most of the top floors lay in ruins, support beams creaking and dust floating around. The top floor was almost completely gone; with fires burning up what little remained of the furnishings. On the floor below she thought she could see two black, vaguely human shaped forms lying on the ground enveloped by flames. She desperately tried but was unable to stop the tears flowing. She sat still, sniffing every few seconds as tears fell on the girder. The pain didn’t matter to her, the loss of her old friend, and of those that she saved was too much.
The girder continued to rise above the city, above the destruction; a bubble of calm in the eye of the storm.