The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Three, 1:00pm

By JKolasch

“As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this book is unique.”  Rochester leafed through the pages.

They were in an empty room of the underground complex.  There was a small, wooden desk, and a few chairs.  Grace and Fin were sitting close to the desk.

“And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there are other forms of magic and creatures you’ve never heard of.”  Rochester slid the book over to them.  It was open to the page on Elementalists.  “When the order of Conduits was created, the original Magister thought this knowledge would prove dangerous, and undermine the authority he had won with his Conduits.”

“Why would the knowledge of other magic be dangerous?” Fin asked.

“Magic had always been at the fringe of society.  Yes, it was accepted, but it wasn’t until the defeat of the Soulless that the general populace understood that magic could be used to protect them.  Older magics are more primal.  They didn’t have a governing society controlling them, and people were afraid of what would happen with individuals possessing that much power.”

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Three, 7:12am

By JKolasch

Fin woke to a room dimly lit with red lights.  The dull thuds of explosions echoed against the walls, causing them to rattle.  He felt a body next to his, and turning his head he saw Grace sleeping next to him.  He sat up slowly, careful not to wake her, and his body tensed against the pain from the abuse he had put it through.  He had pushed himself to the absolute limit, and the constant concussive forces he had been exposed to had not been kind either.  Across the small room, in another bed next to the wall, he saw Xander.  Xander stirred, and slowly sat up, looking back at Fin.

“Looks like we’re in a bunker.”  Xander glanced around at the concrete walls.

Fin nodded.  “Just a question of where.”  He stretched, trying to work the kinks out of his back and neck.  “Any idea how we got here?”

“No idea.  Maybe faeries whisked us away.”

Fin smirked.  “I swear I remember a dog,” he muttered.

“Hmm?  A dog?  I think the faeries are more likely.”

Fin slid to the edge of the bed and let his feet rest on the cold concrete floor.  “I think it was a German Shepherd?  Someone saved us.  Had a dog that attacked a Soulless about to kill me.  And then the guy burned the Soulless and killed it.  Pushed the rest of them back.”

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Two, 6:36pm

By JKolasch

Three silver smears appeared on an empty street strewn with rubble.  Fin drew his sword, and the other two followed suit.  They walked silently across the broken street, alert.

Fin touched the diamond in the hilt of his sword.  <Times Square is just past that building.>

What was left of the building.  It was half collapsed, and littered the street with broken bricks, wires, couches, office desks, chairs, beds…  Fin’s boot stepped on something crunching and he almost slipped.  Looking down, he saw a hand.  Just a hand.  The skin was charred and crisp, and it had slid off of the ragged muscle and bone.  He froze.  Looking closer, he saw that burned and bloody corpses littered the debris, intertwined with broken beds and sheets torn apart.  He retched as the smell finally registered.  Cooked meat and the rancid, almost sweet, smell of death.  He closed his eyes, trying to keep his head from reeling out of control.  He felt hands grab a hold of him and steady him.  He opened his eyes and saw violet.  Grace’s face was smooth.  Her lips were pale and tight, almost like they were drawn on.

Her lips moved, mouthing words he almost didn’t catch.  We’ll get the bastards.

Fin nodded, and followed Grace across the rest of the debris, trying his best not to look at what was crunching and snapping under his feet.  Xander had gone ahead, and was crouched near the wall that was left, facing Times Square.  As Fin knelt down next to them, he remembered what Matthias had said.  There had been no evacuations.  Not even any attempts.  They…no, we, didn’t do anything to save anyone, he thought.  He didn’t have long to dwell on that thought.  A distant rumble, like thunder, echoed from the distance.  The jets were getting close.

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Two, 5:47pm

By JKolasch

The command room was a flurry of activity.  Soldiers, Conduits, and police were running back and forth between the General, Commissioner, and Magister.  Live satellite feeds, maps, videos, and Damp Field indicators flickered across the screens.  In the middle of the room, the leaders gathered around a large desk, a digital map of New Brooklyn sprawling across it, with dozens of red lines running outside of the city.

“It’s too late to think about evacuation.  Over half the city is dark, and skirmishes are everywhere.  Every time one ends, another pops up somewhere.  Those pale bastards are everywhere.”

“Then what do you suggest we do, General?  Allow civilians to be massacred with no hope?  No chance?”  Commissioner Wallace’s arms were crossed tightly over his heavily decorated jacket.

General Matthias tapped on the screen, and pulled up a feed of New Harlem.  It was desolate and barren.  Burning rubble and debris filled the screen.  So did bodies.  Arms, legs, hands.  Not attached to anything.  Carnage and blood littered the ruined section.

“I know what happened in New Harlem, General.  Why are you showing me this?”  Wallace covered his mouth with his hand and turned away.

“That,” Matthias said, switching from feed to feed, showing more and more death and carnage, “was a victory.  The Conduits won there, remember?”  He glowered at Magister Rochester.

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Two, 1:23pm

By JKolasch

“Is this real?” Grace was sitting next to Fin, flipping through the delicate pages of the book.  She brushed a stray, blonde strand of hair aside, tucking it behind her ear.

“It looks so old.”  Xander scratched at a page, bits of parchment and ink flaking onto his chipped fingernail.  “It wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t real, though.  The archivists are very particular about what they keep in here.”

The illustration of the pale figure with flaming red hair stared at them from the page.  Fin could feel the coldness of those black eyes staring into him, the same half smile as it had created a Thief out of the ash and vanished.  “It is strange.  There are creatures and magics I’ve never heard of.  And the Soulless are right here with them.”

Grace’s brows furrowed.  “How did this get into the archives?  Different magic?  There aren’t any other kinds of magic.  Just us.”

Xander grunted, sitting down.  He pulled the book toward him.  “Well, let’s see what it says, and if anything lines up with what we do know.”

“Here.”  Fin pointed.  “The Soulless are former humans, typically Conduits, that used Soul magic.”

Xander shrugged.  “Everyone knows that.  Wait, what the hell is this?”  He pulled the book over.  “There’s a note in the margin: Soul magic.  What a bloody twisted sack of lies.  They wanted people to burn their souls.

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Two, 8:29am

By JKolasch

Xander was sitting behind a mountain of books.  His scarred face peeked out as Grace and Fin walked into the archives.

“About time you two showed up.  I was wondering if I was going to have to read all of these on my own.”

“Did you find anything?” Grace asked, plopping down into an overstuffed chair.

“Well, did you know that the first Conduits were chosen to battle the Soulless?”

Fin sat down in a chair next to Grace.  “Uh, yeah.  We learned about that in school.  Long before we were tested to see if we could become Conduits.”

Feigned shock spread across Xander’s face.  “What?  We did?  I must’ve been sick that day!”

They continued to joke around and laugh for a bit, before settling into serious reading and browsing.  Occasionally, one of them would get the attention of the others, but most of their discoveries seemed to only be dead ends.  They were momentarily interrupted when the archive clerk brought them all lunch.  After thanking her, they ate silently, pouring through book after book.  They neared the end of their stack of books without finding anything of value.

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Two, 7:42am

By JKolasch

Fin woke to silence.  He lay in bed, staring at the white ceiling.  It was a small room, white walls and white carpet.  His blankets and sheets were white.  In the corner was a small black marble desk next to a black dresser.  There were no windows in the Conduits rooms; the quarters were located within the command building, using the surrounding building as protection against outside attacks.  His alarm clock told him it was morning.  He stretched, his body tensing against the strain of yesterday.  A thin, pale scar crossed him, a reminder of his fight against the Thief.  A soft knock at the door startled him, and he sat up.

“Fin?  Are you awake?” Grace’s voice drifted through the door.

“Yeah, what’s up, Grace?”

The door opened, allowing Grace to slip inside, and it shut again.  “How are you feeling?”

“Sore.  But alive.  Trying to wrap my head around what all happened yesterday.  And what today will bring.”

Grace was dressed in the black of the Conduits, the silver crossed sword and lightning bolt embroidered across her breast.  Her blonde hair half hid her face, leaving a violet eye to peer at Fin.  “There were a few more skirmishes last night.  The Damp Fields over Central Park and Queens fell.”

“We’re not going to be able to hold the city are we?”

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day One, 3:24pm

By JKolasch

Fin sat in a plush, overstuffed leather chair, waiting outside of Magister Rochester’s office.  The reception room was fairly large, filled with twenty or so of the same chairs.  There were several paintings on the walls, abstract pieces that mainly consisted of splashes of red and black paint.  In the center of the wooden floor was a large circle of dark marble, inlaid with the silver insignia of the Conduits.  The large, double oak doors to the Magister’s office clicked open, and Xander and Grace walked out.  Their faces were taut, lips thin and straight, and their eyes were distant.

“How’d it go? Fin asked.

Xander shook his head, and he and Grace left the room.

“Conduit Grayson Fin, please, come in.”  Magister Rochester’s voice was flat, neutral.

Fin stood and walked through the double doors.  They closed silently, except for the soft click of the latch.  The Magister’s office was just as impressive as the reception room, only slightly larger.  Bookshelves lined the wall, filled with books of all sorts.  There were books on old wars, books on the theory and practice of magic and science.  There were even recreational books, like the popular series Moonlight.

“Have a seat, Fin.”  The magister motioned to more of the overstuffed leather chairs.  They were arranged in a half circle, facing the immense, car-sized, black marble desk.  It had the Conduits insignia inlaid in silver in the front.

Fin shifted his sword, and sat down.  “Sir.”

“Do you know why you’re here?”

Fin leveled his grey eyes at the Magister.  “I disobeyed you.  And insulted you in front of the mundane forces and the other Conduits.”

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day One, 3:07pm

By JKolasch

“What the hell were you thinking, Fin?”

Fin felt his head being picked up, warm hands cradling his face, and then the back of his head was resting against Grace’s soft thighs.  “I had to save them.  I had to…”

“You could have turned into one of them!”  Grace’s voice was angry, but she was gently stroking his hair.

“Are they okay?”

He felt Grace sigh, his head gently rocking.  Bursts of gunfire reached his ears, and he could hear the whirling rotors of helicopters.

“Damn it, Fin.  Why do you care so much?”

“I took an oath…”

Grace’s hands trembled.  “Enough of your damn oath!  It’s not worth your life!”

Fin looked up, starting into Grace’s violet eyes.  Her hair had fallen around her face.  The way the sun glimmered through her blonde hair, she almost looked like she was in a golden cage.  Fin shifted, slowly sitting up, letting Grace’s hands fall away.  “If it’s not worth my life, then what’s the point?  Who else can fight for these people, if not the Conduits?  We were chosen to wield this power; it would be selfish to keep it to ourselves.”

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The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day One, 2:13pm

By JKolasch

The helicopter flew low, sweeping between buildings and fighting against updrafts that were swelling from the fires burning in Harlem.  Fin watched the streets.  People were out of their cars, pointing towards the pillars of black smoke.  Sirens filled the air from emergency vehicles weaving through the stalled traffic, snaking toward Harlem.

A voice cut over the radio, “ETA, 30 seconds.  We’re going in hot.  Be ready to bail.”

“If you guys can cover our exit, we’ll get grounded and protect your retreat,” Fin yelled back to the pilot.

“Negative, sir.  We’re not going anywhere.”

Fin looked around at the rest of the soldiers.  They wore grim faces, but their eyes were steeled.  They gripped their guns a little tighter, and got ready for the landing.

“Understood.  We’ll get grounded and provide support while you guys get clear.”  Fin unsheathed his sword and waited.

“Approaching clearing.  Get ready…  Now!”

Fin leapt from the chopper, sword stretched out in front of him.  His coat trailed behind him, billowing like a dark cloud.  The ground raced toward him, magical projectiles and bullets racing back and forth across the clearing below him.  He landed, sword point first in the ground.  A blast of energy erupted from him, arresting his fall, as the shockwave ripped through the ground scattering debris.  He felt a shock wave wash over him from the right, and then the left.  Xander and Grace had landed.

Fin spun around, pointing, a brilliant beam of light shooting from his sword.  He opened his hand, and the beam turned into a wall, shoving Soulless tumbling down broken buildings.  Similar blasts of energy came from Xander’s and Grace’s swords.  Fin touched the diamond on his sword.

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