San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Phoenix Rising: Part 4

Editor’s Note: Phoenix Rising is an ongoing series for The Back Page. Click here to read the first three parts in the series.

“Six months.  That’s how long it took for Faust to pull the greatest magic trick off that the world never saw.  And he did it using my idea.  My stupid plan to democratize the system by giving everyone access.  People across the globe received augmentations.  And when the time came, they felt the pain and suffering of refusal—refusal to obey Faust.  Leaders of state, religion, and countries all saw the writing on the wall.  Some of them even had augmentations of their own.”

The man in the chair shifted.  The icy voice chilled his blood. The woman the voice belonged to was even more terrifying. He could only see the outline of her features in the shadow.

“Just one loose end to tie off and his victory will be assured.  Eliminate everyone who knows the truth.  Five people.  Four of them went into a building one night six months ago.  Two came out alive.  Now we know that there’s one left that’s not accounted for.”

The ice voice paused.

“Anya Dos Santos.”

The man in the chair’s breathing became noticeably sharper.  His heart rate accelerated.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…I just—”

“I know.  Nobody really knows where Dos Santos is hiding.  But I’m not asking that.”

“Then why are you—”

“I know someone is hiding her here in Istanbul. She’s got a guardian angel.  And I also know you work for the type of people who work for angels.”

The man in the chair froze.  He unconsciously let slip a single word.

“You can’t mean…”

She whispered into his ear.

“I want Azrael.”

He felt his bonds cut.  A door scraped opened and bright light poured into the cell, blinding him.  Covering his eyes, he was shoved out and fell into the streets, barely glimpsing the non-descript van as it pulled away.

Parking in a small garage, the woman’s companion, a tall man with Asian features tugged off his gloves.  The very act of doing so brought on an intense pain at the base of his spine and head.  An image came to mind: a chair, blood on his hands, and voices in his head.  He snapped back to the present with a gasp.  Exiting the vehicle, he opened the back door for his friend.

“You okay?” Yu Long Zhou cautiously asked.

Grabbing the back rail bar, Karen Forrester hoisted herself out of the van.

“I could ask you the same thing.”

Zhou shrugged.

“Nothing new.  Just memories.  Better than being Faust’s puppet though.”

Abandoning the van, they strolled outside into the busy street, arm in arm as they had practiced countless times to blend in with the locals.

“Do you think he’ll get the message back to Azrael?”  Zhou asked slowly.

Forrester shrugged.

“I hope so.  Azrael is our only link to Dos Santos.  He’s hiding her somewhere in this city.”

Heading to their safe house through a busy alleyway, Zhou’s mind was buzzing with danger signs.  A man on a balcony watching the street, a woman sitting down at the café, and a vendor shouting in Turkish—it all seemed so familiar…

Zhou clenched his eyes and flinched.  Instinctively grabbing Karen, he redirected them away from their safe house, into a smaller road nearer to their car.  Forrester, sensing the danger, tensed up.

“We need to get out of here,” Zhou muttered.

Breaking out of his grip, she walked faster toward their car, pressing the Unlock button on the car key.

“Wait, Forrester NO—!”

The resulting explosion rocked Zhou and Forrester to their feet.  Slamming into a dumpster, Zhou looked up blurrily.  A car squealed as it pulled away.  Men and women screamed. He needed to find Forrester.


There were bodies lying in the street, none of which were Forrester.

Turning around, he slowly came to terms with the truth: Karen was gone.

Sirens screamed as emergency vehicles began pouring into the street.  Zhou desperately began to look around, possibly to catch a glimpse of Forrester.  But she was gone.  The sirens piercingly invaded his ears.  Closing his eyes tightly, he covered his ears.  When he opened them, a man was shaking him.

“Sir, please let us take you to the hospital!  You’re bleeding badly!”  A paramedic grabbed his shoulder and ushered him into a seat with other wounded.

The makeshift ambulance bumped along as the wounded were slowly transported.  Looking into the window, he saw a bloodied, battered, and bruised version of himself.

He traced his finger on the reflection.

“Who are you?” he asked.

He vaguely remembered an old saying he had once heard.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Right now, he didn’t even know who he was.  Smoke rose from the bombing.  As it curled towards the sky, he saw a shape form: a phoenix from the flames.


Activate Search
San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Phoenix Rising: Part 4