He could sense life, the warmth of a body.
Consciousness switched on like a warning light. Suddenly, there it was. A circle of light in a world of darkness and non-being. Something had happened. Something had called him to life.
The Guardian stirred.
Bandages cracked. Dust flew up in little puffs. The Guardian knew that he would need to leave this shell. This had been prepared for the aeons, but it was a resting place, not an active body in which he could walk around. He didn’t think like that. There was no thought, really. There was only a will. An urge. He needed to get up. He needed to get going, to do what he had been destined to do thousands of years ago, when the world was young, when only the gods roamed the stars.
He felt a presence nearby. He couldn’t see with the dried-up eyeballs of this body, but he didn’t need to see. He could sense life, the warmth of a body, the life force that flowed through its veins. A new vessel was waiting for him.
He rose. He was no more than a current of air that briefly flickered above the sarcophagus. He hesitated, briefly moved in a circle around the room, around the place he had been lying in. There it was. A warmth, a presence, a place for him to occupy. A new home.
The body did not offer much resistance. He flew in through the nostrils, following the rhythm of the man’s breath. He spread inside the body, through its arteries and veins, to every fibre of muscle, to every synapse in its brain. Minutes later he had the body under control. He evicted the previous owner, a worthless thing that didn’t deserve the gift of life.
He pulled the body up. It was an effort at the start. The Guardian had not moved in five thousand years or more. He needed to get a feeling for this body. The body rolled off the bench and fell to the hard floor. It didn’t matter. The Guardian felt no pain.
The body twitched. Then it rolled to the other side. He pulled its legs into a fetal position. Lay there for a moment. Tried to flex the fingers, one by one. Moved the toes. Bent the knees. Everything worked.
Pete the caretaker knelt, then sat up. Then lifted himself up. He stood, swaying for a moment. Patted himself down. Checked his pockets. Keys! Good. These would be useful. A pocket knife. A broom. All useful weapons. A flat bottle sat in the back pocket, filled with a clear liquid. He opened it, sniffed at it. Alcohol. Might be flammable. Good.
He bent up and down, stretched and retracted the arms. Started walking. It was quiet here. Too quiet. It was a museum, the Guardian knew. Words came back to him, concepts. Back from where? He didn’t know, didn’t care. He was part of something bigger, something that had woken him. That gave him knowledge too. He would serve it. It was life, his life.
Go, a voice said. Go and find him.
The Guardian saw a face in his mind, a young man with black hair, as clearly as if they’d been standing in front of his eyes. Find him. Terminate him. He saw the Figurine, the Holy Vessel of the Spirit. Return it. Return it, and you will find peace again.
Peace. He would do what the voice had said. Five thousand years he had waited, patiently, for this one moment. Now it was time.
He unlocked the door and stepped out into the corridor.
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