Brand wasn’t the name my father gave me. Not even close. I was supposed to be named Calrey Dovar. His family name was Dovar, and his father’s name was Calrey. He told me stories about his bravery and strength. The frequency he told stories always grew around war times. He was a “Di-knight.” A man trained in the ways of the blade. A class of individual who devoted their souls to the art of death whilst taking a vow of protection. To stand up against boundless evil for the weak and timid. Justice, that was the theme of his stories. My father could never bridge the gap between his stories and reality. They sounded hopeful to the ears of a young impressionable boy. But after each tale ended, the crushing present would fall from the sky, crashing into the dead soil below. Waking me from my sleep to watch the horror.

Everyone says war terrible, evil even. Yet its gears never stop turning. To think a hopeful curve on a piece of paper could foretell humanities course in time, is laughable. My father died in the snow when I was still quite young. It took a freezing night—a special night that can only emerge from the dry corpse of winter—to realize there is nothing but hunger and pain in our future. A darkness that would devour every soul and a white compass that would direct justice to a painful destination. Joy is a fleeting feeling that is named after the minuscule gaps between pain. Much like I was named after my grandfather, whom my father perceived to be his own joy. I was a small new ray of light for him. A gap in pain. My grandfather fought in a rebellion, giving people hope. His order of Di-knights rose up against the governing forces of the land, as oppose to dolling out justice under it. But like my father told me, “He died because he was honest and true. We avoid the jaws of the world. He broke its teeth.” My father was a good man as well. He died on our war ravaged farm, and I became an inner-city vagabond.

Within the blinding bright city I moved like a locust. Steeling, hurting and clawing my way through the city people. I wasn’t unique and was actually quite amateur really. With multiple scars to prove my inexperience. The truth was there were millions of people like me. People who lacked the highborn status. Those who couldn’t stay relevant in the rapid evolution. I held a lot of disdain for the city people. Shinny faces, fat bellies, dangerous minds. They were a maxim of my hatred. But those I held in even greater disdain were the Di-knights. Men and woman wearing hard armour, carrying swords and walking with greater superiority complexes than ministers. At this point I didn’t even fault them for their mind sets. The public hated them. Labelled as monstrous freaks. I could sympathize. It’s even easier now since I’m one of them.

The captain who trained me was a man named Jera Fulken. He belonged to the “White Sun” order. He found me being beaten in an alleyway by three large men. I didn’t think they’d miss their unattended meal scraps, but they took some offence to it. They had the advantage in the fight. I was Fourteen. Jera was patrolling a subsection of the city when he spotted me. He immediately noticed, amongst the scuffle that I was anatomically pure. One of the three jerks had a hard carbon arm he was using to rail into my ribs. Felt like being stomped on by a bull. If not for Jera, my lungs would have surely imploded. With the wave of the Di-knight’s hand, the nanochips in the bastard’s head started to scream. The other two hit the ground swiftly. Then their augmentations were acting up, getting a little stiff. One guy’s metal legs went haywire and started bouncing off the pavement like they were made of rubber. The asshole who was determined to stick his arm through my chest and see his hand wave to him on the other side, started clawing at the back of his head turning to Jera in a frenzy.

Attacking a Di-knight is a death sentence. There is no law that gives them punitive rights or shields them from due process. The simple fact is that they operate outside of the world. They only answer to their gods. Chances are 99% of humans have some sort of augmentation. Once babies are born, they receive a neural synapse connector. This paves the way for an infinite number of nanochips that can be installed into one’s brain. They can range from encyclopedic knowledge to performing computational calculations in seconds. They are the foundation for installing prosthesis and altering human biology. We exist at a point in time where AI is ahead of people. In order for each squishy biological hunk of meat to stay relevant, they’ve had to incorporate pieces of inhuman material, 99% in fact. So where do the Di-knights fit in? As I mentioned, anatomically pure is a prerequisite for the order. So augmentations or nanochips are forbidden. The next and most important requirement is to be magically attuned. That’s right. The reason the three guys beating me up just got a wicked migraine, is because of magic.

If AI were to gain sentience and begin surpassing humans, it would also begin surpassing itself. In other words, the singularity. However, as AI created a colossal ramp in runaway technology, an ancient technology surfaced swell. Magic, a fantasy lost to imagination became reality. The catch was only a few could wield its power. Machines were not of them. This is why Di-knights operate outside of the law. They simply can’t be touched. A man with super intelligence, who can predict each strike and lunge of an attacker, has his nanochip disabled and is cleaved in half by a giant broadsword. A man who is almost entirely made of metal, has it transmuted to lithium and set on fire. Every technological break through is stripped of its power and is instead reduced transformed into a weakness.

Jera was demonstrating this. “Carbon-fists” wasn’t going down easy and pounced on Jera. Shinning sword drawn, Jera sidestepped and spun to his left. Letting the man dive head first into blade. In one clean motion he decapitated the assailant. The other two, had brains bigger than their balls and sprinted in the opposite direction. I was still wincing on the ground. But my senses quickly perked up when the long silver blade was pointed at my throat. Jera stood over me. He wore tarnished silver armour, with a muddied white cloak. His chest plate had a crest carved into it. A dazzling white sun, with arms spiralling clockwise around it. He had a rough beard that covered his dark complexion. I grit my teeth, both in fear and anger. Moments passed by like hours. His eyes starring deeply into mine. The sword suddenly lowered towards the filthy alleyway. A silver gauntlet appeared from under the white cloak. He extended his hand to me. I reached out and took it.


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