Survivors Part V: The Army of Petra

Note: This is the fifth part to a fictitious series based off of the threats the world faces from a looming “Great Reset.” Read part I, II, and III here.

We made our way out of the room and moved down the maze of corridors once more.  Angels held many more suspended in visions everywhere we went.  That made me feel a little less special now.  I guess I should be grateful that I’m still alive, even though I have no idea why I’m here or what I’m supposed to do.  After I gave my account to the scribes, I struggled to determine why I would play a role in something so big with the little knowledge I had of all that was happening.  Although Levi never divulged much, he always made sure that I was aware that my presence in Petra was no accident.  The week was grueling, leaving me tired and poking at questions that had not been answered.  Levi, upon seeing my weariness, suggested we step inside one of the rooms along the corridor so we could get some much-needed rest.  Two women greeted us with familiarity and warmth that soothed my nerves and brought some reprieve from all the thoughts spinning around in my head.  Both women were middle aged.  Their heads were wrapped in linen, like you might expect to find in a Biblical account. Most of what I have seen here reminded me of accounts from the children’s Bible.

My mother often used that colorful Bible to ease her boy to sleep.  As an only child, my mother always had all her attention fixed on me.  Her words and every embrace ensured that I never stood wanting for love or care.  With a lulled tone, expertly employed to draw the mind of a young boy into the space where sleep overwhelmed the events of the day, she carried me to slumber.  Those flickering landscapes painting the wall of a child’s imagination was displaced by a gentle song, every night without fail.  She passed away before the first pandemic struck in 2020.  Sometimes I see it as a small mercy.  She was spared the events that followed on the heels of the occasion orchestrated to pry freedom from the hands of fearful individuals comprising the previous world order.  Her name was Mary.  Whenever she fell ill with the odd cold or flu, I would offer my version of “Mary had a little lamb” in lieu of a bowl of soup a toddler could not conjure up for such an event.  She never failed to remind me that “Eli is my little lamb, the light of my life.”  By the time the Nuhatradem came around, and the clinical fourth industrial revolution was installed, I knew my mother was better off in a place far away from this present madness.  After she died, my father stepped in to take care of everything a young boy required.  He was stoic, always pointed, and thought the only resolution to emotional distress was found in your ability to discard the memories of the occurrence as if it never happened.  He referred to depression and sorrow as “head worms.”  Something easily dispensed with if you had the strength to move forward, giving no time for those memories to draw you into any state of pity.  In essence, his method of resolution was no resolution at all.  Treating trauma like a figment of your imagination is no answer, but it was his solution to all emotional turmoil.  He was not unloving by any stretch of the imagination.  He just thought that love is only a gesture.  To him, leaving someone to ponder the roots of their distress, was ultimately uncaring, as if you were aiding the despair instead of burying it and moving on.

One of the women pointed to a room across the hall. “You will need some rest before tomorrow. We have a room prepared.”  Her motherly demeanor disarmed me, and I moved into the room as instructed. She pointed towards a bed covered in fresh linen with a duvet that soothed the eyes of a weary traveler.  “I’m Martha, and this is Deborah,” she pointed to the other occupant of the room, who held up her hand in greeting.  “We have prepared warm broth and fresh bread.  After a nice, warm bath and proper sustenance, you should be able to rest your head with some sense of satisfaction.  Rihaar made every attempt to cut us off from necessities, and some of the homely comforts were well used to regain strength in preparation for the next day.”  I was more than just a little surprised, which was obvious from the expression on my face.  Martha put her hand on my shoulder, smiled, and gave me her final greeting for the night.  “Just because we are deep in the bowels of a mountain, doesn’t mean we have to be slumming it.  Deborah will be along with supper as soon as you have your bath.  The food here is heavenly.  That’s not an exaggeration.”  She smiled again before leaving the room.  This brief encounter gave me new strength.  I felt something I didn’t feel in quite a while, and it was more than just reassuring.  I felt the hope of victory.  This was not just some fleeting sense or a jolt of excitement.  Somehow, I knew we would see the day where Rihaar and his genetically modified hordes would lie face down in the dust.  Reduced to shadows as his legacy faded along with his decomposing corpse.  For the first time since I set foot in Petra, I felt assured that I belonged here, that I was needed here, and that I will see a great triumph here.  Levi stood in the doorway, brushing crumbs from his beard.  “You have had to endure a lot to get here, and your presence is an answer to prayer.  There are no coincidences in this world, my friend, just oddly timed occurrences.  That is one thing I learned after decades of service to the Lord.  I also learned something else about my Lord today…”Levi paused as he awaited my reaction. “And what was that?”  I asked, knowing the response would probably be some mockery at my expense.  It is undoubtedly another reminder of my inexperience to keep me humble.  Levi grimaced.  “I learned that God has a good sense of humor.  In my prayers, while asking instructions from Him, I asked the Lord to send us a man who is fit and capable to carry out the task that would ultimately ensure our survival.  Instead of fit and capable, the Lord opted for another criteria.  He sent you, dispensing with the ‘fit and capable’ and opting for ‘a breathing man’ instead.”  Levi chuckled and nodded his head before leaving me to get some rest.  There were many firsts I encountered in the last couple of days.  The last one of the day even surprised me somewhat.  Before I got into bed, I kneeled beside the bed, lifted my hands to the air, and did something I hadn’t done in 30 years… pray.

The next morning, Levi shook me out of a pleasant dream.  “Come.  I have something spectacular to show you.  You have seen our capability to keep safe from the evils outside the mountain, but there is something greater in store today.  We are not planning on hiding forever, we are going to push back.  It’s time to show you the army of Petra.”  I was pleasantly surprised by all the community Petra had to offer, yet I never considered that they had more than just a method of survival, they have a plan to win.  I shook the sleep from my limbs then looked at Levi with more than a little surprise.  “The army of Petra?  You have an army?  How is that possible?  I understand the scribes and the few who found safety here, but you live among halls and corridors, how can you keep an army in such narrow spaces?”  Levi didn’t bother to answer my questions.  Instead, he gestured, and I followed.

We came to a staircase at the end of a long corridor.  “This way,” Levi motioned before descending the staircase.  The symbols adorning the walls glowed bright yellow and red, removing the need for a torch or any other additional source of light.  The atmosphere thickened as we continued our descent towards the bowls of the mountain.  Levi came to a stop in front of a flaming door.  Unlike the halls and other doors I have seen, this door was not covered in emblazoned symbols, the door itself was alight.  Purple and blue hues drifted off the gigantic frame.  I felt comforted for the first time since I set off in that tram.  Levi looked back at me, “you can feel it, can’t you?” he asked.  He was no stranger to this either.  “You are feeling holy fire,” he offered with no question being asked.  Strangely, I didn’t want to move any further.  I wanted to stay there.  These flames were not puzzling, they were comforting.  Levi touched the door, which opened upon his gentle request. 

I stepped through the doorway.  Stone balustrades covered in gold and diamond crust curled down another set of stairs, just beyond the door.  From my vantage point at the top of the staircase, I saw a large hall.  The hall was immense, filled with thousands upon thousands of men.  Some stood in rank, affirming orders issued by their commanders, while others were training with all manner of weaponry.  We descended the staircase, soldiers lined the walls, clad in immaculate breastplates that gave off a subtle glow.  Every soldier manning a station held a long spear, their heads fitted with gold lined helms.  Long swords were sheathed on their backs, and they had short swords fixed to their hips.  They were sporting golden greaves; lighting crossed the greaves every so often.  Large shields hugged the left shoulder of every soldier.  Unlike the other weapons and armaments, these shields did not have gold crusts or lightning curling around the surface.  They were pure silver.  Liquid metal moved about in the shield frames.  I approached one of the soldiers to take a closer look at his shield.  Before the soldier could call out, pure white light stung my vision.  I fell to the floor, blinded by the shield.  Panic creeped along my spine.  “I’m blind!” a shout pushed past my lips.  Levi ran back and put his hand on my shoulder.  When I felt his touch, my heart was stilled.  Just like the angel who greeted me, his hand brought immediate peace to my racing heart.  “Your sight will recover.  Stay calm,” Levi said with a sure tone.  After a minute or so, I started to regain my sight and I let out a sigh of relief.  “What just happened to me?”  Levi reprimanded me before answering my question, “don’t go wandering off.  You are new to all of this, stop acting the fool and follow my instructions.  If I lose you to your own curiosity, I will have to answer for your foolishness.”  Not quite the answer I was expecting.  “Answer to who?”  Levi fell silent for a bit, then added. “I’m to be your guide in here.  Don’t stray.  If you need answers, ask me.  Clear?” Feeling thoroughly embarrassed now, I repeated “clear.” 

Levi pointed to the soldiers in the hall before ushering in some clarity.  “This is the army of Petra.  Remember the whips of the fallen ones?”  Levi asked rhetorically.  “They are not the only ones with supernatural weapons.  We have a few of our own.  You just made acquaintance with one of our toys.” Levi chuckled a bit, then continued.  “Our shields are empowered to blind the enemy.  Get too close and…. well, now you know what happens.”  One of the soldiers smiled, clearly entertained by my inexperience.  “You will not be fighting in this war.  Your role is more important, and I can’t have you die beforehand because your curiosity gets the better of you.”  Levi knew something he wasn’t telling me.  “Come,” he beckoned again.  This time I stayed close, silencing my curiosity for the time being.

The hall had various sections.  Each section had a group of soldiers training for a specific aspect of war.  I didn’t have time to process what Levi just shared with me.  My cheeks were still flushed with embarrassment.  Eventually, I shook off my red glow as sanity returned to me.  What was my part in all of this? Hardly a couple of days ago, I was just trying to escape the tyranny of Rihaar and now I’m being told I have an important part to play by someone I thought I met per chance.  Between the lion heads and floating symbols, my head started spinning.  I tried to pull on the mess of threads in my mind, something must fit somewhere.  Levi was clear about his position as my guide, yet he has not divulged anything to lift the blinds and just give me a clue.  We came to a halt in front of a dozen soldiers.  They were training with the greaves I saw earlier.  Levi took a pair of greaves from a shelf nearby.  “Put them on.  You need to learn how to use the armor.”  Puzzled, I said “I’m no soldier.  I never had any training before.  I know I look like a hardened warrior, but I have never even held a gun before.”  Levi stared blankly after I offered another bit of dry humor.  “Put them on.  You won’t be fighting with the army, but you will need armor when they arrive.”  Somewhat shocked, I asked “when they arrive?”  Levi, still stern, answered, “Rihaar and his army.  We can protect you from the men in his army.  The Nuhatradem… not so much.  You will need the armor when the time comes.”  Now thoroughly perplexed I pushed for more answers. “You said that I will not be in the battle, so why would I need protection from the Nuhatradem?” Levi started losing his patience and addressed me like a teacher dealing with a difficult student.  “Take the greaves and put them on.  You are here to learn.  You will learn how to use the greaves first.”  The lack of answers and barking orders became a little bothersome, nonetheless, I did as I was told.  The greaves handed to me were massive.  “They won’t fit me.  I was joking about the hardened warrior thing.”  Levi pointed to the shelf filled with greaves.  They are all the same size.  Just put them on.  I followed the order and the greaves changed shape around my hands when I finally put them on.  The shining metal reformed to a perfect fit.  Levi had a pair of his own.  “Clench your hands into fists” he illustrated while guiding me through the process.  The moment my hands clenched, electrical current folded around the greaves.  Blue veins of electricity engulfed the greaves, emitting a buzzing and crackling sound, like sounds you might expect from a power station.  I opened my hands, currents jumping between my fingers.  Like a kid with a shiny new toy, I turned my hands, looking at the bright blue currents running between my fingers and palms.  “This is so cool” I couldn’t help but express my fascination with the armor.  “Now we have the spectacle behind us, it’s time to learn how to use them.  Levi was a bit more relaxed now.  He pointed to one of the soldiers nearby “show him” he said, sounding like a commander now.  The soldier approached, barking “ready yourself.”  He was a big dude.  My only option now, was to ready myself, whatever that meant.

The soldier was big, fully covered in battle raiment and more than a little intimidating.  He removed his sword from the sheath on his back then placed his short sword and spear on the ground.  Levi took a weapon familiar to me from another rack and handed it to me.  The long sword had a glowing red blade, it was the same weapon I faced at the entry to Petra.  “I thought only the fallen angels had swords like this?” Levi, a little more relaxed now explained. “Let’s just say we had issues with fallen angels before and they lost ownership of their weapons.  We use them to test our armor and improve our own weapons.”  When I took hold of the hilt, the blade shrunk slightly.  Apparently, they conform to the person or the being wielding it.  The soldier told me to flick my wrist and I copied the movements of the angels outside the mountain.  The blade changed shape immediately, no additional manipulation required.  The sword I held a second earlier changed into a flagellum, just like it did in the hands of the fallen one.  I started to feel very uneasy.  My mind was filled with hopelessness and fear.  Initially I thought it was just the realization that my circumstances changed so rapidly over the last couple of months, that the weight of the events only caught up to me now.  Levi noticed my change in mood.  All hope drained from me now.  “It’s the weapon, Eli.” Immediately his explanation clicked in my mind as Levi continued “that weapon was forged in darkness by forces devoid of love and hope.  Weapons forged in the heavenly realm take on the characteristics of their makers.  The greaves filled you with purpose and wonder.  The exact opposite is true for weapons forged in darkness.  Try to put those negative feelings out of your mind.  You must learn how to defend using greaves.  You will feel much better when your exercise is done.  Focus on your instructions to alleviate the dread produced by the flagellum.”  With a heavy heart, I asked the soldier for instructions, and he obliged.

The soldier in front of me had a wry smile on his face as the first instruction came.  “You will learn to use all the armor defensively and offensively.  Our weapons are forged with both capabilities, unlike the weapons of the enemy.  Always keep at least two strides between yourself and the attacker.  Greater distance gives you more time to react.  First, you will learn how to disarm your opponent, using only the greaves.  Sometimes a single piece of armor is all that stands between you and your last breath.  Now, turn your body slightly and hold your left arm ready, your elbow to the ground and fist in the air.  The angle of your body reduces the size of the target available to the attacker.”  The soldier turned his body, with his left side facing me.  His left leg was in front, distancing the rest of his body to any attack.  He had his hand facing the air, level to his left shoulder and his elbow was a few inches away from his waist.  I took a mental picture of the pose and got into position, then flicked my wrist again, turning the flail back into the shape of a sword.  The soldier took a striking position before further direction followed.  “The greaves were designed to absorb any strike.  The wearer feels no impact, even from a bullet.  The first strike will be aimed at your ribcage.  Don’t flinch.  You have only one objective, stay alive.”  With that, the first blow fell.  The soldier held the longsword with both hands.  He frowned in the effort to swing this massive weapon through the air.  I panicked but stood in resolve to learn what I came here to learn.  Just before the blow landed, I could feel some kind of pulse racing through the greave that faced the soldier.  The blade struck the greave.  The loud crash of metal was exactly what you would expect from such a strike, yet I felt barely any impact at all.  The soldier didn’t hold back in his swing, and I did nothing to mitigate the velocity of the blade.  Such a strike would surely send the average man reeling.  The soldier resumed his stance in rest.  “Good Eli.  The first lesson was to diminish your fear of impact.  Next, you must learn how to block properly before we move on the offensive capabilities of the greaves.”  And so, for the next couple of hours, I learned every kind of block I would need when the time of their need arose.  I buried my need to know my role in all of this to concentrate on the lessons at hand.  One thing in this world is sure, you will face danger.  It might not be as part of a battalion or to escape the minions of Rihaar, or in any combative posture at all.  Most often, the attack comes in a form you would not have expected.  Learning the skills I’m being taught at present, will serve me well either way.

After a few hours of rigorous training, drilling every block into my mind and sharpening my reactions to be more a part of my movement, and not in addition to it. My trainer looked at me for a second before offering his next instruction.  “You are a quick learner, but I expect you to practice everything you learn during our lessons for a few hours every day.  You must focus your imagination on every possible avenue of attack and response.  Our bodies retain training much better when it is in tow with our imaginations.  You will see enemies with the visage to drive any man into a frozen heap of flesh, but you have to look beyond the obvious power and capacity a creature holds to harm you.  Our victory will be determined by your ability to render attacks useless and stand despite glaring teeth and sharpened fangs.  Deflect every attack and you will survive.  Absorb every blow and all of us will see a brighter day.”  Levi stared at my trainer with some scorn.  That gaze was meant to silence words offered out of place, so the soldier broke with their stare and turned back to me.  “The greaves can block any blow and nullify the power behind the most powerful swing, but they are also offensive in nature.”  I was stunned at the efficiency of these Heavenly greaves.  The soldier never held back in a swing.  He came full force every time, and every time the greaves turned his strength to a soft touch.  I had so many questions.  The constant mentions of my survival as paramount kept spinning through my head.  Still, I was here to learn now and everything else must be put out of my mind.  The soldier stepped over to the weapons rack and claimed a pair of greaves for his use.  After the metal expanded to fit a hand much larger than mine, the soldier stepped towards me again.  “To activate the offensive properties, you have to clench your hand into a tight fist” he illustrated, and I followed suit.  The moment my fingers touched my palms, strokes of blue lighting moved over and around the grieves.  The crackling was loud and intimidating. The source of the power was wholly unknown to me.  “Excellent, but your new toy has more to offer.  Twist your wrist clockwise.”  As with every other instruction, the soldier made sure to show me exactly how to wield the greaves.  I did as I was told.  The metal took on a liquid state, flowing underneath the blades of lightning that creeped across the shining, liquid metal.  The soldier took a striking stance and gave me another wry smile. I grew to dislike those smirks because a blow always followed.  “Position yourself and stand ready for a high block.  When you feel the impact, slide your greave along the blade of the sword until it takes hold.”  Well, that’s not confusing at all.  “Takes hold?  What takes hold where?”  My trainer showed the same patience he displayed on every other occasion. “Your armor will take hold of the sword.  When that happens, pull your arm towards your chest, wait for the lightning then thrust your elbow down until the sword is taken out of commission.  We will start slowly and get you used to the movements before we work on your speed.”

Only a few days after I stepped into a mountain, beyond the grasp of ferocious dark entities, I found myself among hardened warriors.  If someone told me this a week ago, I might have reconsidered my trip on the tram.  As it stood, I had to look beyond my curious circumstances and absorb everything I was being taught.  Outside of this mountain, a world lay in ruins.  The promise of a global utopia turned out to be a lie, a trap perfect for a world hungry for peace.  Within the span of a few short years, we learned that we were not alone in the universe and humanity parted with sound thinking at the promise of peace and healing.  The exact nature of unfolding events was still unclear to me.  Even so, I had a new hope.  I stood alongside a holy army, a great multitude of men and angels readying themselves to take on the global dictator who enslaved their loved ones with false promises.  Rihaar was no mere mortal.  His supernatural capabilities only surpassed by his hatred and a cold disregard for life and freedom.  I’m sure my role would be made clear soon enough.  Until that happened, I had to make sure that I absorbed every instruction and learn all I needed to know if I was to play a part in the survival of my fellow human beings.  If my mother was right in her belief that this life is only part of an eternity and we would spend an era of timelessness in Heaven or Hell, then there is a chance that I might see her again.  I had to make sure that I did more than play a part in this life.  I had to make sure that I would make my mother proud if I were to see her again.  The rest of my family, including my father, pledged their allegiance to Rihaar.  The fear of starving to death and being secluded from majority of humanity proved too much to bear for most.  On the day Rihaar bestowed his mark on humanity, fear drove everyone to their knees.  My suspicious nature kept me from kneeling.  I knew that survival would be near impossible, but I saw what that mark did to my friends and family.  The very moment that mark was emblazoned on their palms and heads, they lost everything that made them human.  Yes, they would be able to live in society and sleep with full bellies, but they lost everything good humanity had to offer.  When Rihaar had his zombies, their first instruction was to hunt down everyone who dared refuse the mark.  Skinned bodies hung from bridges.  The camps that held the rebels was filled with torturous screams from night to day.  A couple of armies attempted to rid the world of this monster, but the power of the Nuhatradem was unmatched.  Bullets could not penetrate them, and bombs barely scratched their skin.  Within a week, Rihaar had full control of all the systems and logistics that made life possible.  The captured soldiers, who stood against the ruler, were hunted down, and tortured mercilessly to make an example of them.  Unspeakable horrors engulphed the planet and those who dwelled on the evils they witnessed, lost their minds in short order.  I thought there was no hope left and humanity was lost to eternal servitude.  Instead of giving in, I called the words of Jacob to remembrance.  It was his words that brought me here.  Maybe I could play some part in the defeat of the dark lords that subdued humanity so effortlessly.  There was only one way to find out, so I will set my mind upon victory now.  I had no idea that there was an army still set in defiance, so there must be more I need to be made aware of.  If there is any chance that Rihaar might be defeated, I want to be part of it.

My trainer saw me drifting away to some place in my mind, then drew me out with a sharp shout “Eli!”  I returned to the mountain with that shout.  My resolve strengthened with the recollection of the evils that stole the world.  I looked at the massive soldier in front of me and readied myself for the next lesson.  “Good to have you back.  I need your focus here and now if I’m to prepare you.  Take your defensive stance, ready the greaves and brace yourself.  Once you master disarming your attacker, you will no longer fear any weapon.”  I stood ready, taking a defensive position with my greaves lit up.  “I’m ready.”  The soldier swung his sword around his waist.  The impact was absorbed as expected.  I drew my arm across the sword and the liquid metal greaves came to life.  Once the metal rolled around the sword, the lightning moved along the liquid metal as it made its way to the hilt of the sword.  The greaves of the soldier rebounded the electric pulse from my greaves.  With the living metal securely around the sword, my trainer shouted, “drop your elbow!”  I pulled my arm towards my chest.  The electric current surrounding my arm issued a loud crack.  I lowered my waist and dropped my elbow.  With no effort at all, the sword cracked in several places before the blade shattered into pieces.  The liquid metal withdrew back into my armor.  As I deactivated the electric current, shards of the former blade fell to the floor.  Useless and irreparable.  “That’s so cool.”  I couldn’t hide my boyish amazement.  My trainer looked pleased, but he didn’t offer congratulations.  Instead, he made sure I knew that I have not mastered anything yet.  “Good.  You remembered a simple instruction.  You need more practice.  I will increase the speed of my attack until you are able to deal with your attacker properly.  We will continue practice for a few hours before we move on to the shield.”  I stood amazed.  I just broke a sword into tiny little pieces.  Instead of boasting, I resumed my defensive stance.  While the soldier made his way to the weapon rack to pick another sword, I cleared my mind of any distractions before offering “I’m ready.”  My trainer resumed his offensive stance with a shiny new sword.  “Not yet, but you will be ready soon enough.”        

1 thought on “Survivors Part V: The Army of Petra”

  1. Avatar
    Carli Burgess

    Fantastic story thus far my dear brother Jacques. Whilst reading, it’s like I’m there, it’s fully engaging & one can’t help but immerse themselves right in to the storyline. I take my hat off to you for this remarkable work. God bless you!

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