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May 11, 11 at 7:29am ^re: The Chronicles
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“Wow is this the same man from this morning”
Johnathan could hear them clearly now, he could feel his consciousness returning to full. He could also feel a massive weight, a weight that was his own body.
“What happened to all the burns?”
Heavy as stone, Johno tried in vain to open his eyes but they would not budge.
“It's the same for that odd man with that cross thing in his arm”
'So that's how they knew where I was... Ion, he's still alive'
“It's amazing what people put in their body, still it doesn't explain how the two have them have recovered so quickly.”
With intense amount of strain Johno tried to move his fingers, even they felt like lead.
“What do you think they are? I mean do you think they are both aliens.”
It was only slight but his right pinky clenched.
“Well the Selgar Space station isn't to far away and miss Christelle the one who saved the crew and this man does work there so it could be very possible. However This one's blood test came back as human.”
Johno's entire hand was now curled into a fist, sweat itching the back of his hand forehead. The mention of Christelle's name had caught his attention, what was this about her saving him and some crew?
“Yeah we owe her a lot, it was bad luck that the helicopter would have electrical problems but it was a miracle to have Christelle on board to correct it before it crashed.”
'...Christelle' He'd remembered hearing her voice in his subconscious.
“Yeah had she not have been on that helicopter, Roy could be dead. Amazing we went to save them and she ended up saving everyone.”
He needed to know more!
“It almost makes you feel useless even as doctors, especially with the way this guy and the other are just healing themselves, it's hard to believe he was only put in emergency ward six hours ago. Especially for a human”
Light penetrated underneath the lids of his eyes, it was bright but it was fading into visibility.
“So what is with that chunk of rock that is sitting there?”
Slowly the room came into focus as his eye's opened completely.
“Not a clue honestly. It was on him at the time we found him and it's been glowing black ever since. Actually I wouldn't even say it glows, it seems to eat light rather than emit it. The only thing I do know is it's as hot as hell. Possibly how he got the burns in the first place”
His burdened shoulders were hard to raise but he pushed himself up anyway.
“Is that why it's still there, I thought it odd for you to just leave that sitting there on the table like that, mind if I test what you say?
Lying flat on his back Johno just couldn't rise himself up, he didn't have the strength.
“If you really want to but I wouldn't recommend it, check out my palms.”
Stretching his left arm out he felt around till he found a metal bar running along the side of the bed and gripped it. Now all he had to do was pull himself up.
'Can't even get up? Pathetic!'
Johno froze. Who's voice was that?
“Those are scorched, you reckon you will heal as quickly as this guy here”
The voice didn't seem to have anything more to say. Where had it come from? Johno held his breath in case it spoke again.
“The monitor, he's not breathing!”
'huh,' He'd forgotten all about the two doctors. Calmly he exhaled to let them know he was okay.
“He's alright, hey your eyes are open.” the doctor addressed Johno as he noticed Johno was awake, “can you hear me?”
It wasn't easy for Johno to speak, everything felt constricted “Yeah... I can, your as loud... as a kookaburra... it would be hard... not to”
“Oh my god -” exclaimed one of the doctors cut off by the door slamming open.
“Johnny you're okay!” Soon Christelle had Johnathan in a bear grip. He screamed out in pain
Frantically jumping back Christelle inspected what had just occurred “Oh no what did I do”
'Every time I look at you, I see him dying.'
“Yah just.. leaned on the.. needle is all” Johno stated trying to ignore the familiar voice in his head.
Needles were stuck in each of Johno's wrists connected via tubes to strange machines. Johno disliked doctors in white coats he loathed them. 'wait what?'
Doctors had saved his life on many an occasion why would he hate them?
“Oh I'm so glad your okay!” Christelle shouted with joy.
She was jumping up and down with excitement, Johno couldn't understand where she always got all her energy from, after all she herself hadn't had an easy morning at the amusement park.
“Hey Christy...” Christelle leaned forward and gazed at Johno as he started to speak, “I.. I wanted to thank you.”
At this Christelle seemed confused returning to full posture with bewilderment across her features “what do you mean Johnny?”
It was strange really, aside from himself and a handful of doctors nobody had ever really saved his life before. He was at a complete loss for words. It was strange but Johno had a strange new sense of admiration for the beautiful lady standing before him. Odd, he felt warm.
“I heard,” Johno looked at the two medics “you saved me.”
Christelle leaned back, her smile growing larger giving release to a small giggle. The action highlighted a pair of dimples at each corner of her mouth, something Johno found strangely attractive.
“Well I kind of saved my own life as well” she pointed out still grinning “but yes I guess the knowledge of how to both fix and fly a chopper is handy to know.”
Johno rolled his eyes and with more strength he pulled himself up. He only got half way before he screamed. Gripping the bars for support had put strain on the needles within his wrists causing them to stab him in a way they weren't intended. The smile faded from Christelle's face as she shrieked in concern. The two doctors were just as quick to his side, informing him he needs to lay down and rest. Johno however would have none of it and defiantly ripped the two sharps from his arms with grunts and sat upright. The two cords were now dripping two different sets of liquids to the floor.
“Sir you must rest, you've only been here for six hours!”
Johno couldn't explain it but he didn't want to be in this small room with the two white coats any more. Abruptly he turned to the side of the bed and dropped off the side till his feet touched the floor. Both the men gasped in shock.
“Sorry but I'm feeling a tad claustrophobic right now.” He stated as he stood their in his hospital gown, “Also if yah don't mind could yah bring me my clothes, this is a bit too breezy for my liking.”
“Please sir at least let us take a couple of x-rays to make certain your alright.”
Giving it a bit of thought Johno decided if it meant the only way for him to convince them to let himself out of this building he'd have to agree. “Fair enough mate.”
Returning from the X-ray room he'd been deemed fit to leave, much to the bewilderment of every doctor and nurse within the hospital. He was glad to be handed a new set of clothes. It turned out that his suit had been scorched and burnt to insane degrees and for the doctors to clean the wounds they had to tear and the cut the garments off him. Now he was dressed in a black pair of trousers and a white and grey pin strip button up shirt that Christelle had gone out and bought for him. The clothing was tighter than Johno was used to but it felt much better than the airy one-piece of the hospital garb which he now handed one of the doctors.
Reaching out Johno grabbed for the stone dagger nearby.
“NO WAIT” shouted the doctor with burnt hands.
He was a bit shocked when Johno picked up the dagger with no fuss. Not only was he surprised by the fact Johnathan's hand hadn't been burnt but the strange shadow glow evaporated adding a new brightness to the room.
“What's up mate?” Johno questioned confused, unsure as to what he was meant to be waiting for.
Even Christelle was staring open-mouthed.
“What... what are you?” The doctor seemed horrified, another thing Johno couldn't grasp.
“Well I'm an Aussie!” He stated casually “fair Dinkum!”
Choosing to ignore the strange looks Johno turned to Christelle. “Wanna grab a bite tar eat? I'm bloody starved.” Johno paused before adding; “My shout.”
Johno and Christelle sat in a fancy restaurant, the kind with flowers hanging from pillars and burning torches illuminating the room. The Torches also gave of a light fragrance of mint and pine that combined with the acoustic guitarist providing music a very peaceful feeling was apparent in the large area. People all about at tables of varying sizes sat talked openly and freely unconcerned of being in public. It was strange but the place had a vibe of freedom to it. A place where you could say what you wanted, and yet nobody was rowdy. Not something Johno was used to, most Aussie restaurants were connected to bars and often loud.
“You know you didn't have to bring me to the most expensive place” Christelle stated in awe “I would have eaten anywhere.”
In all honesty Johno had no idea this had been the most expensive place, it was the first place he spotted and decided to go to. It was a good thing he'd gotten a tonne of money a few days before. Of course they'd had to go back to the Selgar Space Station so he could retrieve his suitcase from where Christelle had stashed it. Still the torches weren't the only things that smelled good, the aroma of food was making his mouth water like never before. Judging by the smell the price was worth it. “It's no worries” he said as he brushed his fingers through his hair.
Johno didn't have his Fedora any more, having lost it after the fight with Ion. Now his dark hair was tied up behind his back, only a few strands hanging loose.
“Still you didn't have to go to all this trouble.”
Before long a waiter approached the table wearing a tux and bearing a hand towel laid across one arm, a sight that Johno couldn't help but find amusing letting many bellows of laughter escape his belly. “Ah good day to you sir and madam, are you ready to order this evening?”
“Technically it's still afternoon” Johno just couldn't help himself.
“Of course sir, my apologies”
It sounded almost robotic if it wasn't for the hint of laughter in his own voice. Clearly the man had grown too used to stuck up snobs.
Rather than answer the man's origional question he faced Christelle with a sinister spreading his arms towards the waiter “ladies first.”
With furrowed brows and tilted head Christelle glared Johno dead in the eyes with a look that said 'oh yeah you want to go?'
“I will have the Mushroom Mignon Fillet Medium Well done thank you.” she ordered with a smile
“And you sir?”
“Ah” Johno hadn't honestly decided as he didn't know what half the things were. He wanted steak that's all he knew, “If I wanted a great chunk of steak what would be the best meal to order?”
“I would recommend the Cedar Flank Steak”
At this Johno raised his eyebrow “Isn't Cedar wood not meat?”
The man seemed to respond casually as if prepared for the question “Yes it is, The Cedar part relates to the cooking method of being done in a barbecue style over the top of a piece of Cedar. It is spiced with paprika however if you are not a fan of the hot we will most graciously spice it with something other”
Honestly Johno heard Barbecue and was satisfied, the idea of it being spicy just heightened the desirability of it. “Sounds great!”
“How would you like that cooked sir?”
Johno was slightly confused by the question “what yah mean by that, cooked would be good.”
“My apologies sir I meant would you like it medium, well done, rare?”
“Cooked but not black, no blood don't my food growin' legs and pissin' off on me”
“As you wish” The waiter couldn't hide his grin at Johno's last comment, “and for the wine?”
Yet again Johno turned his gaze to Christelle, Johno wasn't much of a fan for wine, he preferred his spirits.
“Red, something sweet please”
“Of course right away”
After the waiter left Johno cracked up in laughter resting his forehead against the table in futile attempt to compose himself.
“I'd be rooted if I had to act like that everyday” he pointed out between laughs.
Christelle nodded her head in agreement “I don't think you'd stand a chance!”
When the wine arrived Johno guzzled the first glass to cool his throat from the laughing. He had to admit the wine was sweet to the lips almost like true grape juice with barely a tint of the alcohol in it. That didn't mean it wasn't strong it just meant it wasn't highly noticeable. Johno knew otherwise though he could feel his cheeks warming already. Christelle on the other hand drank her glass with a lot more elegance, shaking her head at Johno as she did so, hiding her smile behind the glass. The food surprisingly wasn't too long to follow.
The enormity of the stake met Johno's expectations, it was a good three times the size of Christelle's small fillet, hers on the other had a lot more side dishes while Johno had only a small amount of Mashed spud. To Johno though it didn't matter much he preferred his meat. Slicing a chunk large enough to fill his mouth he shoved it into his gob. Even his eyes could taste the juices of the steak as they expanded open in amazement. He almost dropped his knife and fork. Christelle on the other hand was unable to even take a bite as she giggled at the expression on Johno's face.
“Do you like it sir” the waiter said with a slight smart snicker.
With a toss of the head back he swallowed the chunk of stake before before exhaling in satisfaction before responding without restraint “It's bloody brilliant!”
“...and the wine sir”
“This time Johno didn't even bother to swallow “eah why is ood tah”
“I shall take that as a yes. How about you ma'am?” The waiter turned to Christelle who was still giggling sporadically “hopefully you will get to enjoy some of the meal yourself" he again said with a humorous tone.
With a bow he left, leaving Johno and Christelle to eat and laugh to themselves.
|posts in thread|
May 12, 11 at 10:51pm ^re: The Chronicles
Part 1 - The Shadow Duels - Part 2 - Part 3
Post-The Real Us
The Investigation, Part 3: The Cord is Cut
31st January, 2252
Laboratory 15, IPR
Connor was roused from an uneasy sleep by a thin, high-pitched whine. Blinking and rubbing his eyes, he rose from his seat and followed the lights of the Web to the corner of the room. As he moved, the lab’s lights flickered into life around him, casting a cold white light on a detector that was going crazy.
“That’s not right,” he murmured, trying to hold back a yawn as he examined the machine. “That’s not right at all...” Finally losing his battle with the yawn, he turned back to the computers and brought them back to life, pulling an output wire out of one and plugging it into another and frowning at the screen.
‘Start believing in magic...’
Connor turned away, shaking his head, and pulled the back of the detector off to examine it. Occam’s Razor, after all; the most likely cause for this sudden spike in activity was a wiring problem, or maybe a bad connection. The lights of the Web didn’t react in the slightest to it, though, and he couldn’t find any problems after a superficial examination. Sighing, he put the cover back on and resolved to get one of his assistants to check it over more thoroughly in the morning.
Fine, he thought irritably, going back to his main computer and exporting the detector’s readings. The whine continued, but Connor blocked it out as best he could as he reattached the output to the correct computer. Something was about to go horribly wrong. He didn’t even need to be psychic to know that.
New message from Dr Connor (email@example.com)
Re: (no subject)
Attached: 1 file(s) (det1.tts)
Have a look at this. It seems a little fantastical to me, but after checking the machine over three times it looks like the data is telling the truth. Anything strange going on at your end?
2nd February, 2252
“I’m sorry?” Roshea asked, surprised. Ion glanced at him, unamused.
“I said no. Does it require repeating?” he inquired. Roshea flinched.
“It’s not-” he started, but Ion held up a hand and cut him off, mid-sentence. The rest of the staff on the Bridge were making a very careful show of working very hard and not overhearing a thing. Roshea looked tense, and stressed, and Ion did not care in the slightest.
“Don’t waste your breath,” he suggested. “I have made up my mind and I do not intend to change it.” He crossed his arms and leant against the wall, looking at the viewscreen, which was showing its customary view of the earth below. Cities were twinkling lights. It looked quite beautiful.
“...It’s not my order,” Roshea finished quietly. Ion sighed, not looking at him.
“If it’s from the IPR, they should know better than to try and tell me what to do,” he responded, dismissing the idea with a wave of one hand. “And if it’s from the Tower, tell them to try and stop me. If it’s from someone else, why do you bother relaying these things to me?” Roshea slumped, defeated, and sat heavily in his chair.
“I don’t know,” he muttered, shaking his head slowly. “I honestly don’t know. Dr Connor listens to me, you know?” Ion chuckled.
“You don’t tell him what to do, he tells you,” he replied. “Why the sudden interest in Ensign Johnson, besides?” Roshea continued to just shake his head, resting it in his hands in despair.
“I don’t know,” he repeated. “Why your interest, Ion? I didn’t think you-” He cut himself off, a pointless act when Ion could see into his mind. He raised an eyebrow, surprised that the IPR hadn’t told him why they wanted Ion to stop talking to the young Ensign. Ion considered it to be selfish, and also wondered why the Tower hadn’t interfered yet. They usually jumped on unpaired psychics like they were going out of style.
“I’m hurt,” he remarked, not even bothering to pretend that he was telling the truth. “I don’t care about him. I’m teaching him.” He smiled slightly. “You could perhaps do with learning how to close your mind as well. True, it won’t win you any arguments with Dr Connor, but it could be useful in other ways.”
“Don’t patronise me,” Roshea muttered, before seeming to realise what he’d said, or to whom he’d said it, and stuttering out an apology. Ion bore it, knowing he wouldn’t be able to talk to Roshea properly again unless he did.
“Tell the IPR I said no,” he suggested once Roshea had subsided, looking back to the viewscreen. “And tell them if they press the issue, they owe me danger money for how many times I’ve got myself hurt on their account.” Roshea cringed, shivering slightly just from memories of the sight of it.
“Is it so hard to just do what they want?” he asked weakly.
“Yes,” he replied. “Because it’s not what I want. Was that all?” Roshea followed his gaze to the viewscreen, and bit his lip.
“...Yes. That’s all,” he agreed, sounding tired. Ion wasn’t too surprised. “And tomorrow they’re releasing the official report on what happened to the Vindictus. I... I’d appreciate it if you stayed off the upper decks for a while. Emotions will be running high, and with you-”
“I understand,” Ion cut him off, more curtly than he’d at first intended. “It’s a short-term solution and you know it, but I don’t desire to deal with them any more than you do.” He turned away sharply and walked off the Bridge. An uncomfortable silence followed him until the door closed behind him.
3rd February, 2252
Ion could feel the tenseness of everyone on the Station just from where he was sat in his room. The Web was shivering, reacting to the heightened emotional states of most of the crew. Ion wondered if he should be feeling guilty. The official death toll stood at 1603 people, the entire crew of the ship. There were exactly three more people than that on Station 9, not counting himself. It hadn’t been his fault, though; he hadn’t told Roshea to send that ship and he hadn’t known what Ama... what she had built her country on.
But he’d led to it. He’d been there and he’d been stupid and he’d as good as pulled the trigger on those men and women by telling Roshea that she was dangerous but not how dangerous. If he’d been stronger, he...
No, if he’d been stronger he would have given the order himself, in his anger.
He’d wanted to believe that it was the fact that he’d actually been doing something that had kept out her voice. Wanted to believe that he was in control, that he was superior to her. Wishful thinking.
He’d never be rid of her voice.
Someone knocked on the door. He looked up at it and sent a mental come in and smirked slightly as his visitor jumped in surprise. Ensign Johnson opened the door and peered in nervously, Ion not immediately acknowledging him. He was surprised the boy had come down here, at least today. Maybe that was why.
“Can... Can I talk to you, sir?” he asked uncertainly.
“You are doing,” Ion responded, rising from the bed and going over to the door, gesturing for the ensign to enter properly as he did so. He closed the door as the boy shuffled past him.
“I... I heard about the Vindictus...” he started. Ion sighed heavily, leaning against the door. “Did... did it hurt?” he asked suddenly, managing to surprise Ion. “What those aliens did to you?” Ion scowled.
“It shouldn’t concern you,” he replied, leaning on the door. Johnson was upset about something else, Ion could see that on his face. He was dancing around the subject because he was, at heart, a coward. It annoyed Ion a little, but there was no point trying to change him at this point.
“But...” Johnson started, glancing down nervously as Ion began to tap his foot on the floor. He wasn’t guarding his mind at all. Wasn’t learning. Then again, perhaps it wasn’t feasible to expect him to pick it up so quickly. It had taken Ion himself nearly five years, after all.
“I am sorry about your father,” he muttered, not a particularly sincere statement but probably enough to make Johnson feel a little better. “What she... what they did doesn’t concern you. It hurt, but you can get used to pain.” He glanced over at him. “Why did you come? Just to talk?” The boy flinched at the tone of Ion’s voice.
“N-no, I...” he started, cringing away automatically as Ion walked over to him.
“Tell me why you’re afraid of me,” Ion demanded. Johnson looked away from him.
“I’m... I’m not, sir, I...”
“You are,” Ion disagreed snappishly. “I’m not a fool. Don’t try and hide things from me when you come to me for help.” All the colour had drained from his face.
“I... I...” he stammered, shaking his head quickly. “I’m so-”
“Don’t apologise. Answer the question,” Ion cut him off abruptly. He didn’t dare to look up.
“B-because... Because you’re so... so powerful. Because of the things you’ve done. The things you started. Everyone knows your name, sir. Everyone. I... I don’t see how I c-couldn’t be afraid,” he answered eventually, his voice barely audible. Ion raised an eyebrow, not having expected such a thorough honesty when he seemed so terrified.
“Call me Ion,” he suggested as Johnson sank shakily into a sitting position on the bed. “I don’t believe I deserve a medal for mass murder. Not many do, either, but they are too afraid to disagree.” The boy nodded mutely, not daring to argue. “I commend you for your honesty. I would suggest you try not to be so terrified of me in future. It will only slow down your progress.” Finally, Johnson looked up at him as began to pace the room. “I’m not going to kill you,” he added, smiling faintly. The boy paled again, nodding uncertainly, and Ion chuckled. “I get into trouble when I do that. It’s bothersome.” He leant back against the wall, trying to stop himself pacing. It showed poor self-control. “You came to me, not the other way around,” he reminded him. “Trembling and terrified, but you came all the same. You’re afraid of me, but you’re also impressed. Remember that,” he suggested, before walking over and putting one hand on the boy’s head. His Web pulled at Ion’s, an almost irresistible urge to try and reconnect a broken Web, but Ion fought against it. Johnson closed his eyes.
He wondered absently what would happen if he told Connor the boy’s name was Peter.
New message from Ion (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Re: (no subject)
I’ve seen nothing. Perhaps that’s far more unusual than the alternative, wouldn’t you say?
14th February, 2252
Ensign Peter Johnson, 17, was in bed, but not asleep. He was supposed to be, but he’d been finding it harder lately, with all the things that had happened. He was worried, constantly worried, that after the inquest into the Vindictus and the way his father had died that he’d be discovered as underage. He’d be jobless as well as fatherless. He wasn’t certain he could cope with that.
He was reading, in the hope that it would calm his mind enough to let him get enough rest for tomorrow.
He glanced up from his book. Had he heard something? He thought he had, but it was the middle of the night. Who would it be?
Are you listening?
“H-hello? Is someone there?” he asked uncertainly, but his voice just echoed back at him from the walls. He bit his lip. Something felt wrong, but he couldn’t place what. Maybe he was just being paranoid.
You’re not listening. Listen!
“...Who is it?” he asked again, voice quieter now. Something laughed. The mocking tone in its voice reminded him of Ion, but there was no way...
Slowly, Peter put his book down and slid out of bed, walking over to the door. He put his hand on the open button, hesitating, before shaking his head and pressing it down.
Good boy. This way.
“I-Ion? Is that you?” he called, but received no response. All he could hear was the background noise of the Station; the faint hum of the engines and the working of the machinery needed to keep the people who lived on the satellite alive. He could feel a pull, like he knew where he was supposed to go. Maybe it was a test... Somehow. He didn’t know. He was too tired to concentrate properly.
Just follow me.
Peter started walking, following the direction of the voice. It felt like it was whispering inside his head, but he could still feel where it was. He went down twenty-five floors, ending up in a maintenance shaft on floor 3. There was nobody there. The corridor was empty.
“Hello?” he called, voice bouncing back at him and trailing away, teasing him. He heard something laugh, a laugh that didn’t echo.
Peter screamed and fell to his knees as something razor-sharp dug into his back, all the lights in the corridor going out. Blood welled up around the cuts as the pain traced its way down his back, four lines like claws on each side, yet his clothing didn’t seem to tear. It hurt, it hurt him more than anything he’d ever felt before, an ache inside as well as outside. He tried to crawl away, but it didn’t stop, burning down his skin until it was level with the small of his back before it stopped as suddenly as it had started. He could feel blood on his skin, his blood, and he retched.
So nice of you to join me.
“Who... are you...?” he whispered, tears of fear and pain staining his cheeks. The air around him seemed to shiver.
It touched him, and he could see lights appear from nowhere to outline it, the way they occasionally outlined Ion. It was vaguely humanoid, quite tall, and even though he couldn’t see it, Peter knew it was grinning maliciously.
He screamed as it pushed itself into his Web.
Laboratory 15, IPR
Both Connor and the brave assistant who’d volunteered to work late were deafened by the blast of noise from the detector. His assistant collapsed to the floor, clutching his ears, and Connor ran over as fast as he could and kicked at the power cord, barely able to stand the noise even with his ears blocked, until it came out and the noise slowly trailed off.
“The hell was that?” his assistant asked weakly, slowly getting to her feet.
“No idea,” Connor replied, carefully taking his hands from his ears and going around to the monitors. One of them seemed to have whited out, but a little careful encouragement got the system up and running again. “Signal overload, at a guess.”
“How?” she murmured, steadying herself on the wall. Connor, rubbing his aching head, studied the monitor and went pale.
“That’s not good. That’s really not good,” he muttered to himself, going to the main computer before pausing and looking into the centre of the room. “...Keep an eye on it for me. Wear some earplugs,” he told the assistant carefully, before booting up the teleporter.
“Dr. Connor?” she asked, confused. He looked over at her, his mouth a thin line.
“I need to warn Station 9, and I need to warn them now. I’m going in person,” he explained, strapping a wristband similar to the one Ion always wore to his wrist. “I can’t trust the messaging system at this time of night... morning. Plug the detector back in and if it goes haywire again, contact me.” She nodded uncertainly, going over to the cupboard for earphones, and Connor stood in the centre of the teleporter. It felt decidedly odd. He found it strange that Ion had never said anything.
Here goes nothing.
He pressed a button on the wristband, and with a flash of lights he disappeared.
Ion woke, blinking in confusion in the darkness. It was quiet, apart from the soft background noise that was ubiquitous to the Station, and entirely normal. He frowned. Something must have woken him, and for once it hadn’t been his dreams. So what?
Ion. Wake up.
Connor? he asked, surprised. Why are you here? He could feel the concern from the younger man, and frowned. Something was clearly up, not even after Amadeth had Connor come to Station 9 in person. He practically lived in his lab. Something must have gone horribly wrong, perhaps the same thing that had woken him, but... what?
Something’s up. The detector just went mad, even worse than that time I let you know about. Come up to the bridge and we’ll talk.
Sighing, Ion slid out of bed and threw on some mildly respectable clothing, fixing his cuffs as he walked up to the lift. The air was still quiet, unresponsive. Normal. It was disconcerting. He found himself missing the faint red tinge in the Web. Not the constant fighting, or the injuries he always seemed to sustain, but at least things had happened then.
Roshea was on the bridge, as well as a tired-looking navigator who was trying to stay awake enough to listen to Connor. Roshea looked... terrified, but he’d looked like that after Ion had been brought back in from Amadeth’s Australia, so it wasn’t much of a detector of urgency.
“I see I’m late to the party,” Ion remarked. Connor shrugged, not turning, but Roshea walked quickly over to him, face white with fear.
“He says it’s moved,” he managed, voice sounding strangled. Ion raised an eyebrow, glancing up at Connor.
“The detector went crazy,” he repeated. “I think the first time this happened the shadow detached from you. This time...”
“It’s attached to someone else,” Ion finished. Connor
“Yes, but not in the same way,” he agreed. “With you it was just following. This time, it seems to have... merged, somehow.” Ion actually frowned at that.
“Merged...” he repeated. “Interesting. I think...” He tapped his chin thoughtfully with one hand. “I have done something similar in the past, when I fought against it. I... threw myself at it. Just touching its Web hurt.” Connor looked amused for a few brief seconds at the concept of Ion physically tackling anything, before the frown quickly settled on his face again.
“But it didn’t leave the Station,” he murmured, tapping his fingers against his arm. “Because I’ve only got sensors on here, and on you yourself.”
“So the Shadow has merged with someone on the Station,” Ion finished, frowning himself. “But why? Why would it...?” Roshea looked from one to the other, quite clearly out of his depth but still ready to do whatever he had to. Ion quite admired his ability to lie so well to his subordinates.
“I have no idea,” Connor admitted, shrugging. “I can’t see why its goals would have changed so suddenly. I assume the overall goal is still your death. Perhaps it needs a physical vessel for that. Either way, I’d recommend you don’t go near it.” Ion shook his head slowly.
“No... It can still hurt when it’s not properly corporeal. It tore my arm open, after all,” he disagreed. “It’s something else. It wants...” The navigator, half-asleep at his post, jumped as the comm. beeped insistently at him, before glancing up at Roshea. The captain nodded once, so the navigator took the message.
Roshea made a noise of shock at the sound of the voice. Connor, who didn’t recognise it, got out a notebook and pen.
“...Ensign Johnson,” Ion murmured, everything suddenly clicking into place. With a sigh, he went over to the comm. and took hold of it, the navigator willingly relinquishing control.
“You will come and find me.”
“Like hell are you leaving the bridge,” Roshea disagreed instantly. Slowly, thoughtfully, Connor started to write.
“You will come and find me, or people will die.”
“Where is he?” Roshea demanded of the navigator, who ran over to another desk and set a search running. Ion sat in the vacated chair. Over the comm., he could hear the sound of metal hitting metal.
“I’m going to kill you,” he murmured. He was surprised it wasn’t talking with Katrynne’s voice again. No, maybe it would once he got to it, with Johnson’s job done.
It all made sick, twisted sense.
“He’s on maintenance route B,” the navigator told Roshea eventually. “Moving up to a higher floor. The transmitter isn’t working well though, I can only get a patchy signal.” Roshea brought a map of the Station up on his screen, studying it with a frown.
“Seal it,” he ordered, which made Connor raise an eyebrow in surprise. Ion shook his head.
“No,” he disagreed. “You can’t do that.” Roshea gave him a look that, for once, wasn’t dominated by fear.
“This thing is a threat to my crew. No matter who it might be using, I can’t let that continue,” he told him firmly. “We’ll seal it off, we’ll find out how to deal with it and we’ll send some people down there to do it. It’s after you, so you can stay up on the Bridge.” Ion looked back down at the communicator.
“You’re willing to sacrifice him over me?” he asked idly. Roshea did pale slightly at that, but gathered his wits together again and nodded once.
“Yes,” he replied. “If I have to, although I’d rather not.” Ion laughed softly under his breath.
“How foolish,” he murmured. “Trying to contain the shadow will not work,” he continued, turning from the console and walking back to the centre of the room. “It will get out. It does not care how much it damages Ensign Johnson in the process. If it feels truly trapped, it will cut its losses and become incorporeal again.” He glanced at Connor, who nodded curtly. “Give it what it wants.”
“You’re just going to let it kill you?” Roshea protested, looking distraught. “I can’t let you do that, Ion! This is my ship, the decisions are mine to make. Greene, seal the area. Now.” Ion caught the navigator’s hands with a grab at empty air and a spark of angel-lights.
“No,” Ion disagreed. “This ship is yours, yes, but what I do about the shadow that is chasing me is my decision to make.” The navigator desperately tried to pull his hands away from the position they were fixed in, but the Web held firm. “What you are going to do is this. You are going to wait until I have gone down there, and then you are going to seal the area.”
“But-” Roshea protested.
“Do not argue with me,” Ion told him thinly, voice cold. The navigator hissed in pain as Ion’s grip tightened angrily, eyes not leaving Roshea’s.
“Do as he says,” Connor cut in suddenly, smacking at Ion’s hands to break his hold on the navigator. Ion jerked away before he could make contact, but he let go of the man all the same.
“But, Dr. Connor-” Roshea tried again, but Connor shook his head.
“No. Ion’s right,” he disagreed. “If demanding.” He gave Ion a frank look, which Ion turned away from dismissively. “The Shadow’s here for him, and out of everyone on the Station he has the most chance of surviving it. Do what he says. And trust me, you’d rather lose him than this ensign of yours.”
“Your love is returned in equal measures,” Ion told him sarcastically. Sighing, Roshea relented.
“...Fine,” he murmured. “Go.” Ion smiled faintly, heading for the exit of the Bridge. When he reached the door he paused, turning back to Connor thoughtfully.
“You know, I found this amusing at first, but... Don’t you think it slightly ironic that the boy’s name is Peter?” he remarked, turning away as Connor stiffened behind him and heading for the lift.
Ion felt the corridor seal behind him after he’d taken a few steps, the heavy steel shutters rumbling shut and sealing with a hiss of hydraulics.
Just what the Shadow wanted.
Ion could give it that.
Come and find me.
It had been waiting for this. Of course it had, it made sense to. Waiting until Ion formed some kind of bond with someone it could use. Waiting until Ion was shook up enough emotionally that this one last thing would push him over the edge.
Ion had been waiting for this ever since Amadeth had finished with him.
Do you dare?
Of course teaching the boy had been a mistake. He’d known that from the beginning, especially when the Tower had told him to stop, but he hadn’t cared then and he didn’t care now. His life belonged to him. He made his own decisions now.
Of course I dare, Shadow. I’ve bested you before and I will best you again.
I’m sure you’d like to think that.
Ion’s footsteps echoed back at him in the corridor, along with the steady clink-clink-clink of fans in the ventilation shafts. The Shadow wouldn’t hide from him, not this time. It wanted to meet him face to face, to destroy him and then kill him.
Ion found himself feeling oddly calm about the whole thing.
The clinking got louder, and more out of sync.
Ion refused to let the horror show on his face, setting his jaw and staying entirely neutral. Johnson was bleeding, there was blood drying on his hands and streaked down his clothes, and his skin was a deathly white from the blood loss. But his Web... Oh, it still connected to the Station’s Web, just, but the Shadow had pulled itself around it, fused with it, into a horrible, flickering mockery of a real Web.
I will save you.
The young ensign grinned, a malicious, hate-filled grin, and took a step forwards. The thick, metal pipe in his left hand dragged across the ground, and Ion’s Cross began to hum in reaction to the Web.
Ion! I have an idea, Connor told him telepathically, sounding troubled but surprisingly composed. Ion folded his arms.
I’m listening, he replied. Johnson took another grating step.
“Run,” he whispered, still grinning with manic glee, and lifted the pipe off the floor. Ion tried to push him back, but he swept his free hand and him and fought him off with an explosion of angel-lights in the air. Ion staggered backwards from the force of it, and he kept walking.
For a change, he took the shadow’s advice and ran.
Are you scared?
“You’re going to die.”
I love it when they run.
“I’m going to kill you.”
It’s more amusing when they run.
“You cannot kill the dead.”
I love playing games.
“I knew you were scared.”
I told you I was going to kill you.
It had been a very long time since Ion had been faced with someone with stronger psychic powers than him. It was certainly the first time since he’d got the Cross. The Shadow, despite its fusion with Johnson, was clearly infesting the entirety of the Web down here, making the Web-lights shiver as Ion ran back through them.
It was only a matter of time.
“It’s you or him!” the Shadow called from behind him. It was simply walking, knowing that Ion would hit a dead end eventually, and Ion bit back the urge to curse at it in response. “One of you is going to die. Maybe both of you. Can you kill him?”
If I have to.
“But you care about this one, don’t you?”
Ion did curse at it that time, hissing through his teeth as he did so. With a clatter of shoes on metal walkways, Ion came to an abrupt stop. The shutters. End of the line.
“So which is it?” the Shadow asked, Johnson stepping into view around the bend, still carrying that ugly metal pipe. “You or him?” Ion straightened up, folding his arms, refusing to be cowed by this collection of the dead.
“Neither,” he responded. “I’m going to kill you.” The Shadow threw back his head and laughed, sounding honestly amused. It was disconcerting to see that coming from Johnson, especially when he raised his head again and it was painted with the blood from his hands.
“You pathetic fool.”
Gritting his teeth, Ion raised both hands and pushed against him. With a flicker of annoyance passing across his face, the Shadow held out a hand and fought back, the Web beginning to glow and shiver. The Cross became hot on Ion’s arm and the lights became visible all around him, an angelic outline, but, inevitably, he made no progress. Clearly not exerting as much effort as Ion was, the Shadow slowly took a forced, jerky step forwards, followed by another, smirking as Ion growled through gritted teeth and put all his strength into holding it back, only to continue to fail.
“And you are going to kill me? You can’t even hold me back. What makes you think you can best me here?” Ion shook his head slowly, not wasting any energy on speaking
I can and I will, Shadow.
You are going to die here!!
It seemed angry. Annoyed by something, perhaps Ion’s resistance. Ion knew what it wanted to see, and he refused to give it what it wanted. He would not kill this boy. He would not break him and leave him dead or scarred forever. He would not!
“Weak-minded, foolish little man.”
With one swift movement, Ion drew his hands back. The shadow staggered, not expecting the sudden removal of the force holding it back, and its own power pushed Ion up against the shutters. He hit them at a high enough speed to knock the wind out of him, and he gasped.
“Giving up?” the Shadow asked, sounding somewhat disappointed. Ion looked back at it with defiant eyes, but made no other movement, so, with a grin slowly drawing itself back across his face, it closed the distance between them.
It hurt. It hurt as though he’d been set alight, to get so close to that deformed Web. A fire of angel-lights licked their flames up his arms and across his body, deep, purple bruises already forming under his skin. He managed to hold back everything except a slow hiss of pain.
The Shadow – Ensign Johnson – met his gaze. Ion thought he could see fear behind the sheen of malevolence in his eyes.
“Seems I caught a mouse,” the shadow mocked. Ion’s face remained passive and neutral right up until he swung the pipe. Then, and only then, did he let himself smile.
Both of his hands shot up to grab the boy’s head, and he pulled, despite the attack, despite the pain that he knew should be there, but that he hadn’t yet registered. The Shadow screamed in rage and pain as Ion tore his hands down its Web, his own lighting up with a bright red glow as they cut through every join, every contact, every light that clung to Johnson and poisoned his Web. The lights didn’t just drift apart, they burst apart, like they were being crushed.
Ion could pinpoint the exact moment when it was Johnson screaming, not the Shadow, but he didn’t stop.
“I told you,” he managed, hearing his voice shake yet still managing to hold the triumphant, mocking tone in it, “I told you... I was going to kill you.”
Everything of the Shadow that he’d been able to sense winked out, like a switch had been thrown of the Web.
“S-sir Ion,” Ensign Johnson whispered, sounding horrified, tearing his hand away and taking a step back, looking like he was going to be sick. Ion could feel the blood, welling up and staining his shirt a deep red, and glanced down. The Shadow had forced the pipe straight through his abdomen, yet, oddly, it still didn’t hurt.
He started to laugh, honestly amused. Was that it? After almost a year, that was it?
Ion? What’s going on? Connor demanded in his head.
“S-sir Ion? Sir?” Johnson asked, torn between supporting him and outright throwing up. Ion just continued to laugh, unable to stop himself.
It’s dead, he thought, blackness starting to creep into the corners of his vision, threatening to take over. It’s dead, just like that.
He faintly heard Johnson scream as he collapsed.
25th February, 2252
The infirmary, Station 9
“...And probably bleed all over the infirmary floor again. No.”
Slowly, Ion opened his eyes.
“But, Dr. Kaur-”
The angel-lights glowed a soft gold, dancing around his vision almost cheerfully.
“No means no.”
Both the doctor and the captain looked over in surprise at the sound of Ion’s mental voice, the doctor pursing her lips unhappily. Ion turned his head – that hurt more than he’d anticipated – enough to see Roshea regarding him with worry.
“Thank heaven,” he murmured. Ion made an amused noise, an action which he almost immediately regretted.
“See? Already overexciting the patient,” the doctor complained. “He’s been in worse shape than this before. He’ll get over it, even if he is a leech on our finances while he’s doing it.”
Charmed, I’m sure, he told her sarcastically, leaning back and closing his eyes. His stomach didn’t hurt, which implied large quantities of targeted pain medicine, and he had no desire to push his luck and try actually moving.
“Dr. Connor says you’re an idiot,” Roshea reported, voice faint with relief. “And Ensign Johnson is... doing ok.” Ion cringed at the last part.
Dr. Connor has always thought me an idiot, he replied frankly. And... I will talk to Ensign Johnson at a later date. Roshea nodded slowly, and Ion sighed. Tell me if anything of vital importance comes up. Once more, the captain seemed taken aback by Ion’s ability to ignore his invalid status, as if he didn’t know that he’d been subject to far, far worse before.
“W... Will do,” he agreed. “I... I’m glad you survived.” Ion smiled thinly.
You are perhaps the only one who is, captain.
Ensign Peter Johnson was in bed, but not asleep.
The air around him seemed to shiver, and with a frightened squeak he buried his head under the pillow and willed himself to sleep.
|posts in thread|
May 14, 11 at 2:03pm ^re: The Chronicles
"To You I Bequeath My History."
Siobhan "Faol" O'Connors
He laid there, his age now apparent after all this time. As she remembered him, he had been a man in his early fifties: graying and lined, but not frail, faded and yellowing as he was now. He had heard her enter, and knew she was stood beside the door, wringing her hands uncomfortably. She wasn't sure what to feel; whether to scream at him with hatred for making her or to comfort him in his hour of death. He decided for her.
"Siobhan... I knew you would come..."
Her Lord and Master, Faoladh. They had only ever addressed him as such, and it was the only name for him she could remember after so long. Seeing him like this unnerved her. As a young wolf, he had terrified her; he had been hugely strong and ferocious. He had been the one who had bitten her, the one who made her an outcast; and yet... She viewed him as a father of sorts. He had always been there, watching over her in the early fights that had made her his second in command, ready to prevent her opponent from killing her. She respected him, but didn't particularly like him.
"Please... Come closer my child. My body is failing... I can no longer raise my head to look at you. I would talk with you, my dear."
She moved to the battered, leatherbound chair placed beside his bed, and gingerly sat in it, hair tumbling around her as she leaned back.
"You look so.."
"Old?" He barked it out as a laugh, before coughing wildly for a few moments. Her fists clenched spasmodically in her lap and she leaned forwards, concern plain on her face. He waved a battered, wrinkled hand at her, the skin translucent and upon closer inspection by her keen eyes, like paper. He was so weak.
"I can't regenerate anymore, Siobhan. I'm too old. I've used it all up. 1,500 years of life have taken away the wolf's strength. It wants to leave this old bag of bones. I can understand why: I've been taking Wolfsbane-"
She gasped, claping a hand over her mouth. Wolfsbane was like poison to the wolf side of a werewolf. It sapped their strength, and made it harder for them to take control and transform. It was like signing your own death warrant.
"Why, Faoladh? You could have lived so much longer-"
"That's the problem, Siobhan. I don't want to. This modern world has no place for old dogs like me. I started taking it so I could reduce the risk of dying when I transformed: at the age my bones are, they can't take being bent and reformed like that every month anymore. It'd kill me."
They sat in silence for a while, the only sounds Faoladh's laboured breathing and the wheezes as he exhaled.
"Why did you call me here, Faoladh?"
He looked at her through his ancient, wrinkled eyes. Her chest panged when she looked at him like this, for he wasn't who she remembered from when she was last there, 50 years before hand, in the sixties, when she'd been into the concept of sex, drugs and rock & roll. He hadn't looked like this then, and the change was horrifying.
"I called you here for two reasons. I have two things I wish to give to you."
She nodded slowly. "I'm listening, Faoladh..."
"The second can wait, but first Siobhan... To you I bequeath my History."
|posts in thread|
May 19, 11 at 4:03pm ^re: The Chronicles
Chapter 3: Humanity
Waking up on the side of the street Clief quickly realised he was no longer on Gaia. People stared at him as they walked past, bumping into each other. Some dropped money for him as his clothes were tattered and he was dirty. His Crystal sword was still in his right hand next to him but no-one seemed to notice anything. He stood up slowly, his entire body aching from the stress that had been put on it. Barely able to move, he sheathed his sword and stumbled down the street, leaving the money behind. People continued to stare at him as he struggled to walk but none offered any help to the strange looking boy. Getting weaker as he continued moving, he stumbled down a back alley and fell to his knees. One man observed this and thought it a good opportunity to potentially mug the boy. Scurrying towards Clief and soon realising that he had nothing of value on him, he saw the sword on his hip. Brushing away his curiosity at how the boy came across such a weapon, he knelt over to try and take it. Clief, however, quickly stood up and pulled out his sword. In his culture it was disrespectful to touch another's weapon without approval let alone attempt to and it was expected to kill the person. Unfortunately for the man, this is exactly how Clief reacted, cutting him in half. The man's body slid off itself as he screamed out in pain. After this occurred however, Clief's body had caught up with the sudden movement he had just made, causing him to collapse in agony.
“FREEZE!” yelled a man in blue pointing a gun at him from the end of the ally.
Clief turned his head to see who it was. Seeing the weapon pointed at him he could only assume it was a projectile weapon. He didn't have the kind of strength to dodge whatever it would shoot at him so he did as the man yelled and stayed where his was. Not to be completely defenceless he gripped his sword a little tighter, prepared to do whatever he must to survive in this strange surrounding.
“Push your weapon away from you, kid,” the man said this time as a crowd started to gather behind him.
Clief didn't comply, instead choosing to continue to hold his sword.
“Push it away now!” the man now demanded.
Irritated by this request, Clief held his hand out towards the man, feeling a surge of heat in his palm.
“FIREBALL!” he yelled as he shot a flaming fireball directly at the man's head.
It was too fast for him to react, incinerating his head into flames. He dropped to the floor instantly, causing the small crowd to panic and scatter. Thinking it not to be a good idea to stay here any longer Clief mustered up the strength to ignore his pain and get away from this place.
Waking up in what appeared to be a massive shed, Clief tried to sit up. His body still ached from the amount of stress put on it, but not as bad as before. He looked around and took in his surroundings and then began to break down and sob. He had no home and was in a strange place with unfamiliar people. He didn't know how he got here, or what happened to his people. He had no knowledge of anything after the elder put him to sleep until he woke up on this world.
Hearing a voice come from outside the large shed he looked up, eyes all red and watery. He rubbed them to see more clearly as a large door opened up. Two men walked inside wearing suits and dragging a large sack behind them. Clief sat there in the corner hoping to not be seen; he didn't want to bring harm to more people on a planet he knew nothing about. He watched as the two men struggled with the sack; they had managed to drag in to the centre of the building. One man untied it as the other left to go grab a chair. He placed the chair under the only light in the entire building and then proceeded to help the other man. They bickered amongst themselves until they finally got the sack open revealing a young woman. She was a blonde woman, slim and wearing a white dress. She looked to have been beaten a little. They forced her to sit in the chair and tied her hands up behind it.
“Hael?” Clief murmured to himself as he sat forward, listening intently.
“Where is it you scum?” yelled one of the men.
The only response this got from the woman was a spit in the face. They laughed as he wiped the saliva away, confusing Clief slightly. He then watched on in horror as the man punched the woman so hard that she and the chair fell sideways. The woman began to sob slightly, but kept her composure. The man then picked her up again and sat her upright.
“You can make this easy or hard for yourself pretty lady. Just tell us where it is?” The other man questioned more calmly.
There was no response from the woman this time, clearly still hurting from the last punch. Clief, unsure whether or not to step in on the woman's behalf kept watching the events unfold. The first man proceeded to pull out a gun and point it at the woman's leg.
“Tell us where it is or get shot!” the man put bluntly.
Again, the woman did not respond to him, making it clear she was not going to open her mouth. The man shot two bullets into her left leg and laughed at the screams she made. Clief could no longer watch this any more as he stood up. The pain he felt only moments before had disappeared as he dashed towards the men, sword in hand. Hearing the footsteps of Clief, the two men turned and pointed their guns at him.
“Freeze!” they yelled as Clief continued to run towards them.
It reminded Clief of the man he had killed before, but it didn't stop him. Realising the boy was not about to comply and noticing the weapon he held, they began to open fire on him. The woman saw him coming and tried to scream for him to get away, but Clief was determined and ignored everything but his current goal. Bullets whizzed past him and the ones that looked like they were going to make contact he deflected with his sword. He then cut the air, creating a shock wave aimed at the two men which travelled faster than their bullets. It very quickly reached them, cutting them in half. Clief made it to the woman who now feared death more than anything after witnessing what he had just done. She was shaking as he stood in front of her.
“I wont harm you, I'm here to help. I'll protect you from people like this, okay?” Clief gestured.
The woman was still in shock over what had just happened but nodded at his gesture. Clief then sheathed his weapon and proceeded to untie the woman.
|posts in thread|
May 20, 11 at 3:06pm ^re: The Chronicles
“Ion? Dr. Steel wants to talk to you.”
I don’t want to talk to you.
There were two men stood at the door to Ion’s room. The one who’d spoken, Director Gray, simply folded his arms and sighed softly. The other, Dr. Steel, looked severely uncomfortable.
“His voice is... surprisingly loud,” he offered weakly. Gray chewed his lip unhappily.
“Mmm,” he replied, a passive noise that neither agreed nor disagreed. “Will you at least let us in without making a fuss, Ion?”
Do whatever you wish. It won’t make any difference.
“Better than normal,” Gray decided, keying in a code and sliding open the manual bolts on the door, before pushing it open. Dr. Steel regarded the heavy security warily. He’d been a doctor at the Institute for nearly five years now, but this was the first time he’d ever been required on the basement floor. In fact, it was possibly the first time they’d even had a patient on this floor since he’d started working there.
The patient sat in the middle of the room, exactly the middle, and looked down at his knees. He was still a boy, not even in his twenties if Dr. Steel’s estimate was right. He was restrained, heavily restrained, wearing both a straightjacket and an extra set of bindings on top of that. Straightjackets were something else Dr. Steel hadn’t seen for a long time, even in St. Leon’s. The boy looked...
He looked sane. Mentally composed. Thinking, considering. Currently unconcerned by their presence. They were the most frightening ones, by Dr. Steel’s reckoning; the ones that seemed so nice and calm right up until they stabbed someone six times with a kitchen knife. But St. Leon’s didn’t take on that kind of patient. They were an institute for aiding civilians, not rehabilitating dangerous criminals.
I am not insane.
Dr. Steel jumped. His mouth didn’t even seem to have moved.
“Ion...” Gray started, moving forwards.
“Don’t touch me!” the boy spat, head shooting up to look at him venomously. His voice was hoarse and raw, much like his skin seemed to be. Criss-crossed with tiny cuts, and black and blue with fading bruises. His eyes were terrifying. Gray stopped, looking scared despite the restraints, as Ion kept his hate-filled gaze on him.
“I’m not going to,” he assured, kneeling down to his level a couple of metres from him. The suspicion and hatred didn’t leave Ion’s expression, until he twitched, a look of pain passing fleetingly over his face. The suspicion faded, but the hate remained. “This is Dr. Steel. He’s been put in charge of your case.” Dr. Steel baulked as the patient turned those eyes on him, no longer hateful but passive, mocking. He took a step back.
“He is a fool,” Ion rasped. Dr. Steel started to protest, but cut himself off as Gray held up a warning hand.
“He is the most qualified psychiatric doctor in the Institute,” Gray disagreed.
“He doesn’t understand!” Ion returned, not backing down. Gray closed his eyes, looking frustrated, before sighing softly.
“Ion... Please. Just let us-”
“I don’t need your help,” Ion replied, looking haughty despite the restraints and the injuries. “I don’t need your doctors. Get rid of them, stop them, if you really want to help me.” Dr. Steel raised an eyebrow. Paranoia, perhaps. Interesting.
“I can’t,” Gray told him, sounding saddened. “It’s on their orders-”
“Then you don’t want to help me,” Ion spat. Confused now, Dr. Steel looked down at the file, scanning it. He’d been admitted by a group of three people, who visited often. Strangely, there were no names, nor indeed any information on Ion at all except his first name, age and everything the Institute itself had discovered. Did that mean ‘they’ meant his visitors? Perhaps he could cross off the paranoia.
You don’t know anything.
He jumped at the sound of Ion’s voice, no longer raspy, but the young man hadn’t even turned to look at him. He chewed the end of his pen nervously.
“I want to help you, Ion. We all do,” Gray disagreed. “But there’s only so much we can do. And right now, you’re not letting us do anything.” Ion narrowed his eyes.
“You don’t understand,” he repeated, voice condescending and angry. “You know I’m telling the truth, but you don’t understand so you refuse to believe it!” Gray flinched. “Even they hate it down here. You’re lucky. You can’t hear the screaming. All the time, the screaming. And they’ve told you it’s here! You are not helping me, Director, you are torturing me!” Gray looked away. Dr. Steel made a mental note of ‘hears voices’.
They’re real, doctor Steel. Just because you can’t hear them doesn’t mean they’re not real.
This time it was Dr. Steel’s turn to flinch.
“Don’t, Ion. Please. We’ve already had one nurse leave this week,” Gray asked wearily. Ion grinned, a manic, dangerous expression. He looked almost feral.
“Good,” he whispered. “I hated her.” Gray didn’t seem to question how Ion knew which nurse he was talking about despite no names being mentioned, but it confused Dr. Steel.
“Don’t touch me!” he hissed a second time, jerking his head. Something around him... sparked, like static electricity, and Gray was lifted by an invisible force and flung to the right, landing heavily on one side.
“What in heaven...?” Dr. Steel whispered, not daring to move as Ion fixed his eyes on him again. If he didn’t know better, he would have sworn there were two kinds of brown in his eyes, like someone had mashed two irises together to make a single one. Slowly, groaning softly in pain, Gray pushed himself back up to his feet. Ion made an amused noise.
Just because you refuse to believe it, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
“I can see you’re not in a helpful mood,” Gray remarked, rotating one shoulder with a grimace. Ion just laughed softly. It was oddly sorrowful, and pained. “We’ll come back tomorrow.” Ion made a dismissive gesture with his head, unable to move anything else. “Please be nicer to nurse Hector in future.” Ion’s amused expression morphed into a scowl, mirroring his look of hate from before.
I don’t like him. He thinks I’m a monster.
Gray said nothing. Dr. Steel couldn’t help but agree with Hector’s assessment.
You are a fool.
Curtly, Gray turned and walked from the room, Dr. Steel following. He felt like there was something inside his head, leafing through his thoughts like a book... he shook it off. That was foolish.
“So,” Gray remarked, closing the last bolt on the door. “That’s Ion.” Dr. Steel glanced down at the file, and the notes he’d made.
“I have no idea what’s wrong with him,” he admitted frankly. “He doesn’t seem... well, to be all that insane, quite frankly. Perhaps a little disturbed, but... If I may, how did he get those injuries?” Gray looked pained, and he began to wring his hands together.
“...Every time they come to visit him, we have to bring the doctors in,” he admitted with a sigh. “His hatred of them is entirely valid. I have no idea what they do to him, or why, but it’s... it’s horrific.” He shuddered. “We can’t say no.” He smiled faintly, no joy in the expression at all. “Now you’ve met him, I suppose I should tell you the truth. I thought it would be better for you to go in blind, since it never went well before, but...” He shook his head, looking distracted. Dr. Steel glanced from his notes to the door.
“How did he...?” he began. Gray didn’t seem to be able to look at him.
Ion sat in the exact centre of the room, listening to them talk. He wanted them to leave him alone, to stop trying to help him as if they even could. Fools. Every one of them.
Softly, Ion began to laugh.
Director Gray put his head in his hands and let out a long, trembling breath as the alarms for the bottom floor began to sound.
Not this again.
He pushed himself to his feet, walking out of the office. He was passed by two members of staff who’d put on an impressive, if slightly dangerous, sprint, and none of the others looked at him. Nobody questioned it any more. The first time, there had been surprise. Maybe the second time, too, and perhaps the third, but now? Nobody batted an eyelid, just got on with their work and hoped it wasn’t serious this time.
His heart sank as one of the doctors stopped him with a hand on his arm and a shake of his head. No words. That was never good.
“Who?” he asked quietly. The doctor sighed heavily, looking tired.
“Nurse Hector,” he replied. “We warned him, again and again, but did he listen? No.” He tapped one
foot against the floor, wincing slightly as he heard something breaking on the floor below. “I don’t think he’s coming back from this one, Director.”
“Ion...?” he started, honestly surprised this time. The doctor shook his head quickly.
“Not dead, no,” he clarified. “But...” Gray looked away. This was the second time this had happened, this badly. He’d had staff leaving, he’d had staff changing their rota, but without fail anyone who looked after Ion for more than a few months ended up worse off for it, somehow. Especially now. He’d tried telling the nurses to be more tolerant, but none of them seemed to realise that they had to guard their thoughts just as much as their speech.
“Let me see him,” he requested. The doctor grimaced, but waved him through, not one to get in his way.
“We tranquilised him,” the leader of the response team told him. “Both of them. That young man screams like the devil sometimes, doesn’t he?” Inwardly, Gray cringed.
“You shouldn’t have tranquilised Ion,” he muttered. “He’ll be angry when he wakes up. Then he’ll scream even more.” There was not a single jot of sympathy on the medic’s face.
“Hector’s going to need committing, Director. It’s just like what he did to Georgie, and nearly did to Simon. Why do we still care about this man?” he asked. Gray made a frustrated noise, looking away.
“Because it’s our fault he does this,” he muttered. “And I warned Hector. He refused transfer. He did this to himself; Ion’s just a weapon.” The medic glanced back at the heavily bolted door, looking wary. Everything about him, from the tenseness of his stance to the expression on his face, was asking how does he do it?
Nobody ever believed him when he told them the truth.
“Sir, it’s the people from the Tower again. They want to talk to you.”
Gray pinched the bridge of his nose wearily. Dr. Steel glanced up at him from the corner, and he waved at him to continue working.
“Sure. Send them up before they start threatening legal action,” he agreed, putting the phone down and turning to Dr. Steel. “We’ll move this afternoon’s session to... Ah, next week, say,” he told him, distracted. Dr. Steel put the cap on his pen.
“Why?” he asked, frowning in concern. Gray sighed.
“His admitters have come for a visit,” he responded. “Have you ever wanted to meet the Controllers?” Dr. Steel went very pale, and Gray smiled faintly. “Me neither.”
“Why do you let them do this?” Dr. Steel asked softly. He and Gray sat on the stairs up to the ground floor, a long corridor and a heavy door separating them from Ion and the Controllers. Occasionally, Gray flinched as the screaming echoed in his head.
“Would you like to try and stop them?” he returned. Dr. Steel swallowed nervously, looking down at his notes as if it would make what was happening go away. A pen was tapped on the top of a clipboard. Gray closed his eyes.
“Don’t you have power of veto?” Dr. Steel tried eventually. Gray sighed softly.
“Tried that. I’m not trying it again,” he replied, steepling his fingers and shaking his head. “I hate it. This is a place meant for healing, and yet...” He shrugged helplessly, at a loss. “They’re using us for convenience, but I can’t say no. I’m bound by the law as well as their threats, and I don’t want to get on the wrong side of the Tower. I’ve got a wife and daughter to think about.” Dr. Steel nodded in wordless agreement. “It doesn’t mean I like it. It doesn’t mean I endorse it. I’m just powerless to stop it,” Gray continued, his voice quiet, regretful. “And I think... I think that makes Ion hate me even more than the alternative.”
Report: Patient 115
Report Type: Emergency Assessment [NOTE: full clearance is required to access this file]
Presiding Expert: Dr. Steel
(Photos attached, click to download)
After several months of observation, it has become apparent to me that the cause of Ion’s madness is both real and untreatable. I have heard only rumours of the Controllers, and the things they sometimes have to do in order to protect the city we live in, but sometimes...
Patient was found screaming and was tranquilised for his own sake; the medics were surprised he was still conscious at all. He showed a precise, neat pattern of lacerations covering his entire body, as inflicted with a scalpel. Scars have been observed there before, it seems likely the older wounds were reopened on purpose. He also exhibited a heavy bruising, currently yellow-green in colour but fading to black and blue, in perfect circles all over his body. I have never seen so much of one person’s blood on one floor, at least not when they have survived the encounter.
Whatever the Controllers do to him, I only pray that their reason is one of utmost necessity, for otherwise this is torture, nothing else.
Ion stood on the top floor of the Tower, the toes of his shoes level with the edge. He closed his eyes, feeling the bite of the cold wind, and the slow, steady thrum of power through his Web. Even with his eyes closed, he could still see the lights. Beautiful; shining and beautiful.
“Of all the places I thought I’d find you, this isn’t one I was anticipating, I’ll be honest.”
“Go away,” he muttered. Connor laughed.
“Don’t jump, you have so much left to live for,” he suggested, his voice heavy with sarcasm. Sighing, Ion turned away from the edge and walked over to where Connor was stood, next to the door back inside. “Right, ok. So we’re having a little trouble with the CCPD.” Ion made a weary noise, folding his arms and tapping his fingers. Connor pointedly ignored it. “This girl’s trying to get them to look into St. Leon’s. Annie Gray.”
“Why should I care?” Ion inquired. Connor looked... troubled.
“Because you murdered her father for no reason, and we’re still trying to protect you from the law?” he suggested, his tone biting. Ion just made an amused noise. “She saw what you did to him, Ion. Don’t you think she at least deserves some closure?” Ion leant against the wall, listening to the Cross humming softly on his wrist.
“If your guilt trip was ever going to work on me, I wouldn’t have killed him,” he remarked. Connor made an irritable noise, waving a dismissive hand.
“We’re going to give her your name,” he told him.
“Be my guest,” Ion agreed. Connor didn’t respond immediately, a silence filling the gap. Up here, so high above the city that even the skytrain’s tracks were further down, the only noise was the wind, and a faint echo that hinted of the life going on in the city below. The Web glowed.
“You do feel guilty,” Connor remarked eventually, hands in his pockets. Ion frowned.
“No. I don’t care.”
“I never said you cared. I said you felt guilty.”
More silence seeped in, heavy and unwelcome. Ion realised he’d clenched his fists, and forced himself to relax.
“Tell her he had to die,” he murmured eventually. “To bring them down.” Connor raised an eyebrow.
“He didn’t,” he replied frankly. “That’s a lie and you know it. You know you just snapped, in your-”
“Then lie to her!” Ion snapped, making a noise of frustration and looking away. He could feel the anger bubbling up inside him, all of the hate and the rage that he’d taken out on the people there... And maybe guilt, maybe now. When he’d gone back there, when he’d killed him, it had seemed... reasonable, through the haze. It had felt like a calculated move, with a defined benefit. It was only after he’d stood there, with the man dead at his feet and his blood dripping slowly down Ion’s fingers, that he’d thought that maybe it wasn’t as beneficial as he’d imagined. Maybe it had just been stupid, pointless revenge on someone who’d done nothing. But he couldn’t bring back the dead.
“You do feel guilty,” Connor repeated. Ion hissed through his teeth.
“Go away,” he snapped. Connor smiled faintly.
“Just playing the messenger,” he remarked. “Don’t jump off, it’d be a mess to clean up afterwards.”
“Your compassion moves me, truly,” Ion muttered, not watching as Connor shrugged and went back inside, the door shutting with a soft click. He walked back to the edge, looking back out over the city. The lights of the Web continued to sparkle, but now all Ion could see was the ones that had glowed maliciously at him, spat at him and broken him down until he really had needed their help, and had still refused it. The wind blew, sending a chill through him, and he looked down at the ground countless storeys below.
“I’m sorry,” he told it, his voice sounding faint even to him. “I was wrong.” The words felt foreign and distasteful in his mouth, bitter like the taste of blood. “But so were you.” He turned away from the edge once more and walked back into the Tower, the Web shivering around him as he went.
Scream, the way you listened to me screaming.
|posts in thread|
|Tiger of Wu||
May 22, 11 at 1:55pm ^re: The Chronicles
"And that's it?" Danog asked, somewhat confused.
"Yes." Malali answered. She held a large weapon which could best be likened to a bazooka, of a bright silver colour and of a slightly wacky design. "Not this one."
"Maitrey still doesn't like making decisions because she thinks someone may still be in her head." Danog explained, taking the large bazooka-like weapon and carefully laying it on the ground next to the other guns from Arimus' old lab.
"All due respect," The Nightelf picked up a smaller, rifle-grip weapon. "She is not like my kind. For her New Australia was a traumatic event." Malali held the weapon up to eye-level, aimed into the open air with it, tried to get used to its weight.
"For her," Danog repeated, almost angry at how little things seemed to affect Malali. If only he knew. "And that's really it?"
Malali sighed. "Yes, for the last time, that is it. We need discuss it no further." She played around with the gun she held again, before nodding. "This one." She placed the gun on the ground and then both she and Danog moved all of the others about twenty paces away, for safety's sake. Danog walked half-way towards the city and gave a thumbs up. Malali shook her head and he sighed, then distanced himself further. Are the skies clear? Suvi looked downwards and chirped loudly, signalling that they indeed were. Get to safety. The bird loyally dove down into Emote's city and landed near to the large, wooden stables which housed the city's horses; it was temporary accommodation for him until Malali finished Suvi's nest. "And you're certain this is the one?" Malali asked once again, for finality.
"Are you sssaying we're liarsss?" Firine replied. Malali spat onto the ground next to her, aimed the rifle-grip gun towards the open skies and squeezed the trigger. The energy beam produced could only be likened to that of the IUA's cannon which had tore into The Deathknight's dome almost a year ago, and as she struggled to stand beneath the power of firing it, Malali pitied whichever star got in its path.
After the end of the beam trailed off into the sky Malali fell to one knee and dropped the weapon. Danog ran towards her. "Are you sure that was it!?" He yelled whilst running. He'd been asking about her well-being all morning, with great futility, so didn't bother to do so then. Malali stood grimacing, her right arm limp and blood running from her shoulder.
"Yes," She replied, looking down at the kama on her belt. "They know better than to lie when asked twice."
"That really was it..." Danog repeated distantly, picking up the weapon. "That was the weakest of his guns." Malali nodded.
"Get your men to take these weapons back to my bunker, carefully." She held her limp arm and blood trailed over her unharmed hand. "I'm going to go lie down."
The door knocked. "M'lady," A pause. Another knock. "M'lady,"
"She's not here." Malali called in reply.
"Oh, right. I'm sorry, I'll-"
"What did you want?"
"I wanted to speak to her about... about..."
"Come in, Maitrey." Malali interrupted. Maitrey entered the bedroom. She was a Human, tanned skin, no hair, small nose and mouth, bright green eyes. They used to be blue. She looked at Malali, the purple Nightelf who currently held some form of relationship with her goddess; she lay on the couch at the side of the room and in her free hand she held a book, something a citizen had lent to her about a man who travelled through galaxies. She wished to find and punch the one named Zaphod.
"Why aren't you on the bed?" Maitrey asked casually. Malali shrugged.
"I dislike to be in it alone." She answered half heartedly.
"And what is that on your shoulder?" Currently on Malali's shoulder was a writhing mass of black.
"They are healing me. Did you come here for a reason?" She continued. Maitrey nodded then looked down towards her own left arm; metal of a clinical white colour and circuits and wires and cold, unfeeling, inhuman robotics. A constant reminder of New Australia, and as Maitrey looked at it something happened to her face. Malali cleared her throat and Maitrey looked up at the Nightelf, and the same horrified expression flashed in her features. "You cannot talk to me about it, can you?" Maitrey shook her head. "I remind you too much of her, don't I?" She nodded.
"You have no reason to apologize." Malali replied, ignoring how much she wanted to throw the book at her. Another pause, longer and more awkward than the others.
"Have you seen m'lady?" Maitrey finally asked. Malali shook her head. Without another word, the maid left. Atop the bed at the head of the room a figure came into view.
"Thank y-you." Fear said, shaking at the thought of being caught.
"Technically I didn't lie," Malali replied, returning to her book. "Though be sure to speak with her when you change again." Fear hesitantly nodded, her actions even seeming to stutter, before disappearing from sight again.
"Aim..." Emote spoke quietly, softly. "Breathe..." Malali watched her from a short distance, mostly making sure her bow wouldn't be damaged. "Align..." Anger held the black bow, her arms shaking, and she unleashed the nocked arrow. "You piece of shit!" It flew far wide of the target and hit the wooden wall behind it. A few people had originally gathered to watch the practice but Anger had quickly sent them away in a flurry of insults. She held up the bow, seemingly ready to break it, but Malali stepped in.
"If you cannot even use that, one of your own would be useless." On the other forms' collective advice (demands, tomato, tomato) Anger was trying to expand her arsenal. She couldn't make her own arrows as her energy disperses when not in contact with her but she could form her own bow and use normal arrows like Malali's. If she could learn how to properly make a bow, or even use one, that is. "I am amazed you have never done this before, all the time you have had." The Nightelf snatched her bow from Emote before the goddess could break it.
"I've never had to learn it," Anger replied with a growl. "And I still don't!" She then yelled.
"No need to shout sis', we can hear you."
"Obviously the others think differently or we would not be here." Malali stated. Grabbing Anger, she turned her so she was aligned with the target correctly. With her foot she shuffled Anger's legs, which caused her to growl again, and then she placed her bow back into the goddess' hands. Malali pressed up against Emote's back and matched her stance, then wrapped her arm under Emote's arm, over her chest. "Nock an arrow." She stated, no emotion, all business. Anger plucked an arrow from the quiver on her back and trembled as the arrowhead stroked the face of the Nightelf. She placed the arrow onto the bowstring and gently, somehow gently, Anger pulled it back. "Stay calm; remember the steps," Malali whispered, her warm breath kissing the goddess' neck. "Aim with your vision and focus on your target. No distractions." Her outstretched arm brushed Emote's hand which held the bow. "Breathe deeply and calm your mind and spirit, if for only a few moments," Anger breathed deeply and her chest outstretched into the Nightelf's hand. "Predict the movement of the target and the trajectory of the arrow, an-"
"Can we just go have sex now?" Anger finally asked with a slight grunt. Malali pulled her arms from around the goddess and stepped back, causing the arrow she had nocked to fly free and miss even the wooden wall behind the archery targets. Malali walked back to where she had originally been.
"No." She stated, taking a drink of water from her flask. "Aim, breathe and align. You know how to do it." She set the flask down and then sat on the ground, watching as Anger frustratedly continued to use the bow.
"Emote, I..." Malali stopped, not sure how to continue. Sorrow lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling. "I want to test Arimus' guns but they're unstable." Sorrow lay and stared, silent and cold. "I wish to... to use your force-field, in order to test them securely." Cold silence. Malali looked down at her feet, then back up at Sorrow. She hadn't moved; she hadn't said anything. Malali let out a deep breath. "Okay, that's fine." She exited the room.
Malali turned, hoping to head back into the room and apologise for imposing upon Sorrow, but when she reached for the door knob she found herself unable to touch it. A force-field blocked her out; she didn't attempt to get through it.
"Don't be ssstupid, she can teleport, Mal' will lossse." Firine spoke strongly, sitting atop the black cloud with her knees crossed, legs dangling off of the side, and watching the two beneath them. Firinar stood behind her, arms folded and scowling. Though usually united by their need for confrontation the demons had no-one to focus it on at that time aside from each other. Sibling rivalry, as it were.
"Fool. Master is a hunter; the child stands no chance." The sister chuckled at his words.
"She'sss older than usss." Her snake tongue shot out from between her lips, taking a long hiss as she stretched her back with pleasure.
"If you're sure, you would be okay with a wager." Firine turned her head back and looked up into her brother's eyes, beaming with joy as he spoke. "Usual stakes?"
"Marrrvelousss." Silently the cloud moved at their will, following Malali as she ran after a screaming Emote.
"You can't catch me, you can't catch me!" Joy taunted, skipping through the city streets at sprinting speed. If the term 'kawaii' could be turned into a facial expression, she was wearing it. With a grin of her own Malali quickly moved to her left, running through an alley between buildings. Kicking off of the wall she jumped over a young couple walking the opposite way, landing behind them with a roll before continuing. When she reached the other side she quickly observed the area before seeing a set of crates set up like a pyramid outside of a small building, like most of the others only having one floor. Deciding they were sturdy enough the Nightelf used them as steps to get to the roof. At this point, like Emote, she had a small group of children and teenagers running after her in the hopes of seeing the action, struggling to keep up for obvious reasons.
Malali ran across the roof tops, jumping over gaps between them and following her senses towards Emote. With the help of her magic she jumped from a building on one side of a street to the other, the people underneath watching and cheering. Within seconds she had caught up with her target, seeing her standing in the middle of a path and looking around with confusion. Silently the Nightelf jumped from the building down to her, yelling tag as she was mere centimeters away. Before she touched her, however, Emote had vanished to leave her foe to crash and tumble on the ground. She stood with a proud grin a few foot away.
"We agreed on no powers. You cheated!" Malali stated, Joy pulling her up whilst still grinning.
"Nuh-uh, you used your magic so it makes us even." She put her hands on her hips in the stance of Superman. "That makes five, meaning I win!" Seeing her disappointment, Emote gave Malali a long and hard hug, one which would have crushed a normal person. When she released the embrace Malali started a new game, gently slapping her face and proclaiming the Goddess as 'it' before running away.
"Fantassstic." Firine exclaimed. Silently Firinar moved them towards his punishment. After descending to the ground, the black cloud fading away into the floor, they were standing at the edge of the mountain atop which Emote's city stood, various forms of vegetation behind them and a long, jagged and painful drop before them. "Do ittt." The sister commanded. With a growl the brother walked up to a gathering of bright, beautiful flowers near the edge and he picked them. He brought them to his nose and took a long sniff, the sweet smell causing him to stumble back as if hit in the face. He then held his stomach before vomiting a thick, dark substance. In between his coughing and hacking he tried to speak.
"I... hate y-" He vomited again. "... you."
"Yesss, I know." Firine replied with a grin. "Now, my prizzze." She turned her back to the mountain's edge and jumped off, screaming with satisfaction as her body tumbled.
Malali slowly stalked through the trees, eyes firmly set on her prey. She held in her hand only a knife made of bone and covering her armour was a long, black cloak, a hood over her head. Both were of these were gifts from Enicrih, god of the hunt, and his followers were only allowed them when hunting Doclu. Doclu were similar to deer in appearance and designed by Enicrih himself as the perfect prey for a hunter; their bones made for fine jewellery, decorations and arrowheads, their furs held a quality making them cool in the heat and warm in the cold, their meat was delicious and filling and would last a modest tribe for a month and that which couldn't be eaten could be given back to nature, to fertilize the ground and nurture the crop. As the Doclu grazed, pleased with this new, humble area of grassland between the trees, a black cloak flew towards it. The Doclu struck at the cloak and sliced it apart, its antlers as sharp as the hearing of the hunter, and it cried in pain as a blade struck its side.
Malali kneeled next to the beast, no longer cloaked, and it seemed to regard her with pride before falling, dead. From the trees emerged a humanoid figure wearing fur clothing and armour crafted of bones, nailed into his body so it wouldn't rattle as he walked. He picked up the torn black cloak and looked at Malali, unamused. The Nightelf pointed towards the Doclu and spoke. "The prize was worth the sacrifice." She stated. The man tilted his head, then threw the torn cloak aside. He walked towards the Doclu and knelt next to it, holding a chalice of bone and fur, and he pulled the knife from the creature's side; blood ran into the chalice until it was almost full, then the man pulled a large piece of bone from his armour and he used it to plug the Doclu's wound and stop the bleeding.
Waste not a drop, young hunter.
He stood and passed the chalice to Malali, who took it and looked at the red liquid inside and the steam which rose from it; Enicrih rose his hand in a hurrying gesture and Malali drank, slowly, enjoying the blood as it slid smoothly down her throat. Once finished she slowly pulled the chalice away and licked what little remained on her lips. Enicrih took the chalice and immediately turned and began to walk away, not waiting for thanks or praise. Before long he disappeared behind the trees, and then even his aura vanished from the ether, leaving only Malali and her Doclu.
"That was a bit gross." And Emote, who wondered out from the trees, pink hair and white dress.
"The blood of the Doclu is like a fine wine," Malali replied, walking towards the Doclu's head and then carefully, very carefully, taking hold of the base of its antlers. She rubbed the crystalline substance between her fingers. "You'll see when we return."
Emote raised an eyebrow and smiled. "You expect me to drink it?" She asked. The antler which Malali was rubbing broke off and tumbled to the ground, leaving cuts along the back of the Doclu's head as it fell.
"How will the others learn if the goddess of the feast doesn't show them?" Malali asked in reply, rubbing the other antler.
"The goddess of the feast?" Love repeated in wonderment. The Nightelf nodded.
"The feast of the Doclu. There is usually a prince and a princess, but a goddess and princess will have to do." The second antler fell in a manner similar to the first. Emote giggled. "What is it?"
"No, it's just..." She giggled again. Malali repeated herself, and Emote continued. "It's just that, if I'm the goddess, then... who will be the princess?"
"Maitrey will," The Nightelf almost immediately replied, carefully picking up the Doclu's antlers and moving them away from the creature itself.
"I..." Emote hesitated. "I thought you would be the princess." Malali looked at the goddess and then laughed, louder than Emote had heard her laugh before, and her grip on the antlers tightened; they cut through Baelria and sliced into her fingers causing her to drop them, then they cut through her boots and sliced into her feet, taking a few toes with them. Malali cursed and Emote shook her head and walked over to her. "Why Maitrey and not you?" She asked, kneeling at the Nightelf's feet and healing her wounds.
"I'm hardly princess material," She replied, somehow failing to see the irony. She grimaced uncomfortably as she was healed; it felt so different from when the Firins did it. "And she has been upset recently; this could make her happy." The words and the way she said them had the straight forwardness and innocence of a child. Love grinned.
"I suppose I can't argue against that." She stated, waving off Malali as she looked confusedly at her grin. "There, good as new. Or at least, as of a minute ago." The Nightelf chuckled, and Love knelt next to the Doclu. "So how are we carrying this thing?"
"You're okay to carry a corpse?" Malali asked, eyebrow raised. Emote shrugged.
"I'm Love, not benevolence. Besides you told me this was made to be hunted and used by hunters; its death was, if anything, beautiful." She replied, and this time Malali shrugged.
"I suppose so. No, I will carry it. You bring the antlers."
"It does seem safer for me to carry them."
"I thought so."
"There is a dilemma." Emote stated, walking into the huge kitchen of the palace. Malali was in there alone, slicing the meat of the Doclu using its own antlers; regular blades, even Kaavel, couldn't cut through the beast's flesh; it was a shame the antlers were two fragile to be made into melee weapons.
"Since when did you come to me when there was a dilemma?" Malali asked in reply, not looking up from what she was doing. "Or for anything else?" She added.
"No-one will listen," Hatred continued. "No-one will see sense. She's still not thinking straight and that son of a bitch is using it against her."
"Which son of a bitch," Malali cut another piece of meat and then placed all that was on the chopping board into the boiling pot next to her. "Is manipulating who to do what?"
"Danog!" Hatred shouted. "He asked Maitrey to marry him, that weasel. She's vulnerable, she-"
"Is a grown woman who can make her own decisions." The Nightelf interrupted, causing Hatred's eyes to widen and her fists to clench. "Surely the others aren't going to let you try and break this up, are they?" She asked, placing more meat into the huge pot.
"They can't stop me from getting somebody else to." Hatred was getting angry. Hatred tended not to get angry in general, she was more reserved, keeping her malice calm but brutal. It was only around Malali she would get truly angry, and when she did, things never ended well. "You will help me stop this marriage or-" With a clean swipe, the Nightelf slashed the goddess' throat. Emote fell back as blood trailed from her neck.
"I cannot be sure on whether you can hear me," Malali yelled, slicing meat once again. The body of the Doclu had been drained of its blood earlier and the meat was being added to a sauce made with half of its blood, water, hard fruits and various herbs and spices; the other half of its blood was being kept for drinking purposes; the maids who had logged the kitchen inventory had almost fainted upon seeing how much blood one Doclu could produce. Malali pushed the pot next to her onto one of the fires at the back and pulled the fourth pot onto the fire closest to her, then proceeded to put the meat within it as she spoke. "But I am sorry about that, and we will not start the feast until Love resurrects you." She paused, looking at the blood which pooled around Hatred. "I suppose I should get someone to clean this up."
The band played and the music echoed in the cold night as people sat beneath the stars, seated at long tables surrounded by warm fires. Malali wasn't entirely comfortable with the band; where she was from music was sacred, the purest form of expression, a deep secret reserved for only the closest of people, but she was uncomfortable with openness in general. Still, the melody was sweet and the instruments worked harmoniously and the music ran along the atmosphere like a trickling river, calming and gentle and somehow far away, yet right in front of your eyes.
People spun tales of hopes and dreams and those who weren't greatly acquainted learnt more of each other, and spoke and loved the night away. When Emote had come back around things were immediately set into motion and from preparation to execution she had remained as Love. When it came time to sit and eat Emote traded her designated seat and declared that there wouldn't be the original plan of goddess and princess, there would instead be Danog and Maitrey, prince and princess. In spite of her disconcerting appearance and a few mishaps to do with metal cutlery and unexpected magnetism in her robotic arm, people treated Maitrey as if things were as they had been before Amadeth had taken her. As a subject, Amadeth had been officially banned from the feast entirely. Over the night's fires and beneath the glimmering stars, when people were absorbed in their merriment, Maitrey caught Malali's eye and she mouthed the words, 'thank you', to which the Nightelf smiled and nodded. Danog saw but pretended not to, instead standing as new guests arrived.
"Attention please, attention," He called out over the buzz of the people, tapping his glass with a fork. "We have guests." In the centre of the city stood two faces only familiar to Malali and Emote, and one familiar to everyone in the city. "Welcome to... what was it called again?"
"The feast of the Doclu."
"Welcome to the fe-"
Basis had already ran past everyone and dived atop Malali and both of them flew from her chair and tumbled across the ground. When they stopped Basis had Malali in a hug which would have crushed a normal person. "Hi Challenge!" He screamed right into her ear, apparently paying no attention to the pain the scream must have caused him.
"Hi Basis," The Nightelf shouted enthusiastically. "I've really missed you." She grinned.
"Mally... Mally did?" Basis replied quietly, confused.
"Oh yeah, remember, I'm your wife." She grinned wider. "I can't wait until we have sex."
"Until who does what!?" Basis yelled, even more confused. He had heard of the sex but only passingly. Malali whispered something which only Basis could hear and immediately he jumped off of her and ran back to Blitz and Ashley who stood where they had first appeared, having come through the portal in Basis' wardrobe. "Basis is not letting Mally do that to his sensitive parts!" The child shouted, holding onto Ashley's clothes, causing her to try and push him away. Calmly Malali stood and walked over to her seat, setting her chair upright before sitting on it and taking a mouthful of Doclu meat. Everyone was staring at her.
"What?" She asked with a full mouth. "I had no intention of actually doing it."
And so the night wore on and the guests remained, with Basis tentatively avoiding his fighting wife whilst Blitz and Ashley caught up with Malali and Emote, and got to know more of the city's inhabitants. People ate, people drank, people drank a lot, and people danced and sung and lived and loved. The children and those who remained sober took it in turns to ride Suvi, the sober rule coming into affect after the first drunk rider unfortunately left the poor Rukh a mess. Once the food had been given time to settle Malali opened the first bottle of Doclu blood. "Think of it as wine," She had said, being very specific about not letting any of the children have any. When Basis poured himself a glass, she moved to intercept him.
"No, Mally stays away from Basis." He ordered as she approached. She shook her head.
"I am sorry, Basis. I just had to make you leave me alone for a while; I promise you I had and have no intention of sticking anything into your ears." She replied.
"Does Mally really promise?" His voice was a quiet whine.
"Triple promise." She confirmed. "Now, I need you to put down the blood." Basis looked from Malali to the blood and grinned, ready to drink it. "I have Seery's Hard Liquor." The Nightelf showed Basis the bottle she was holding behind her back, a somewhat redundant act in itself. The child put down his glass and took the bottle then ran away like a Crysis with a nut. Wandering over, Blitz picked up Basis' cup; why let it waste, right? "Do you have a girlfriend?" Blitz paused.
"A girlfriend. Wife, fiancé, casual sex partner."
"I... no, no I don't." Blitz finally answered.
"Do I count?" A voice resounded from Blitz' back; a large creature which looked like a stick insect had spoke, a creature named Willow who was of a species called Wisps.
"Does Blitz have sex with you?" Malali asked.
"I hope not." Willow replied, causing Blitz to frown.
"Trust me, don't drink it." She said with finality. Blitz put down the cup. On the opposite side of the table, just beyond Danog and Maitrey who were practically sucking each other's faces off and not really caring who saw, Emote sat with Ashley. They both drank the blood of the Doclu and were speaking about what it was like to be with someone who had superpowers, both seeming to forget that they themselves fell into that category.
"Why can she drink it, then?" Blitz asked, gesturing towards Ashley. Malali took a sip from her own cup.
"She has William," She referred to Ashley's fiancé, half-smiling. "When he asks tomorrow tell him he can repay me another time." Now fully smiling the Nightelf finished what was in her cup and left a bemused Blitz alone. She walked around the table, past the Danog, Maitrey, saliva hybrid, and she grabbed Emote by the arm and pulled her away from Ashley. Love quickly apologised for the conversation being cut short before she walked alongside Malali, arm around her shoulder, mostly leaning on her.
"So... this Doclu blood, right... I mean..." She had clearly had her fill.
"It's a very potent combination," The Elf replied, not quite as far gone as her girlfriend but certainly on her way. "It makes you drunk, and energetic, and..." She made sure no-one was close enough to hear her. "Very, very horny."
"... oh, that's what that is." Love laughed loudly. When the two of them reached Emote's bedroom they pushed Malali's wardrobe out into the hall in case any of the visitors wanted to go home, then they went back inside and locked the door behind them. Other had been told explicitly to keep Basis away from the palace, considering his field of sight, but after reuniting with Seery's Hard Liquor and going for an impromptu ride on Suvi the child was laying unconscious on a roof for most of the night anyway.
After a night, and most of a day, in bed with Emote Malali had slept off the strange mixture of Doclu blood and alcohol and she headed towards the kitchen. Faithfully those who hadn't succumb to the drinks, and were thus actually able to, cleaned up what they could of the city without disturbing everybody else. The leftover food and drink had been put into storage and Malali opened one such storage device, seeming to glare at it in wonder. "They create ice in a small box using heat, yet are still puzzled by simple magic." Firinar said in bemusement from the corner of the room.
"You can manipulate darkness, both literal and figurative, in ways even gods cannot understand, yet are still puzzled by simple science." Malali replied, taking out a plate of Doclu meat, a jug of Doclu blood sauce and a bowl of salad.
"Sssimple?" Firine repeated as the Nightelf took a clean plate from one of the many cupboards. "Like you underssstand it yourssself!"
Malali laughed, placing a few cuts of Doclu onto a plate and adding salad around it. "No, I suppose I do not." She poured the sauce onto the meat and drizzled some around the salad. Firinar and Firine looked to each other, confused, then they glared at their master. When she finally caught onto this she stopped what she was doing and raised her eyebrows. "You expected me to argue further? Or is it the laugh which worries you?" The Firins glanced at each other awkwardly again, and again Malali laughed. She put what she had taken out of the fridge back and then picked up her plate of food, whispering Fiiat under her breath. A small fire came between her hand and the plate, warming the food as she took it into the dining area.
The large dining hall was practically bare, all tables and chairs currently still being outside. Malali would have ate out there but the last time she had went outside was to check the damage her small feast had caused; it was vastly minimal, comparatively, but when she had done so a still-drunk Basis had awoken and tackled her to the ground after diving from a building. After a relatively insane game of hide and seek the Elf shook the child off and retreated back to the relatively safe palace, since it seemed Other was still following his orders. And so Malali sat on the ground, placed down her now-hot plate and began to eat. She had forgotten to get cutlery so she instead used the knife from her boot, oblivious to the damage she would now doubt cause the plate.
The Firins stood not far from Malali, arms crossed. She looked up to them. "What?" She mumblingly asked, accidentally spitting out a bit of tomato. They nodded towards the door, in front of which was a pile of guns. The Nightelf swallowed what she was chewing and then stood, walking towards the guns; upon reaching the weapons she found a few pages of paper with font she recognised from Arimus' computer.
"He stored those on your tomcuper," Firinar explained. "The one in your bunker. They have information which you can use with those... guns." Malali picked up one of the pages and scanned it, then another. They would indeed tell her how to use the alien weapons, change power inputs, get a hold of ammunition and so forth. Of course, she still had to safely test them...
"You did not do this for me." She stated.
"Sharp asss ever, Mal'." Firine made an amused noise. With a confused frown Malali moved towards her food; she intended to take it with her to see Danog about who may have done it, and been so careless as to pile them in the dining room, but she found herself unable. Something invisible blocked her path, something she recognised...
The force-field took a black tint showing Malali exactly where it was; it surrounded the room so as to block out the walls and then had a small box around Malali, the guns and the door. An open hole was in the wall facing the room. The Nightelf picked up one of the guns, the weakest (which was still ridiculously strong), and rested it in the hole; the hole tightened around the gun. Malali looked towards the door and knew Emote was behind it. She wanted to open the door, to hug her, but she knew the goddess would just walk away. Instead she placed a hand onto the door and rested her head on it. "Thank you, Sorrow." She quietly stated. With a smile, in spite of the goddess' acting form, Malali turned and looked into her firing range. With Sorrow's force fields she'd be able to test the guns safely, and Emote had even brought a small, Human tool box in with them, which the Nightelf found adorable. She didn't find many things adorable; she silently thanked the goddess again.
Knowing what she already knew of the guns Malali would have to read Arimus' notes and tinker with them before she could test them properly... but of course, currently standing in the firing range were Firinar and Firine. The fact they hadn't disappeared already meant Sorrow had them trapped.
Malali could be sensible later.
"We hate you." Firinar stated venomously. Without a flicker of emotion the Nightelf pulled the trigger on the gun held in place by the force-field, and as the gargantuan beam struck the Firins she couldn't help but giggle a little.
"What's the pwobwem?" Firine was getting more nervous the closer and closer her master got to the answer. "Come onnn!" She whined.
"I'm doing it!" Amadeth yelled in reply, a chunk of her cheek flying away as she did. Upon the opposite side of her face a wounded patch of flesh slowly regenerated. "I just need... fuck." In frustration, she picked up the body on her operating table and launched it into the wall. Gore flew out of its open wound and it slumped into a pile with the other bodies. "I don't get it!" The zombie shouted again, striking the operating table. "It was an exact replica of what they did to me, just block out what was beyond Krad and it should have," Her words trailed into gibberish and Amadeth dived atop the open, dead bodies piled at the side of the room. She furiously punched at them, her harrowed cries finally returning to coherency. "Why won't you show me!?" Her punches turned into weak slaps. "Why won't you come back?"
The sound of a door opening echoed through the large laboratory and the small tiger cub called Arimus sauntered in with something in its mouth. It looked at Amadeth and the pile of corpses, all of them being the same, purple Nightelf who he had once called Malali. Amadeth quickly stood. "Hi Kitty," She greeted, brushing corpse blood off of her lab jacket. "Just playing with my toys again." Finally Amadeth noticed what Arimus had in its mouth, some kind of tube with what appeared to be paper inside of it. She took it, opened it and read the words on the piece of paper. "Dear Laytra..." She looked at Arimus, then out of a small window almost mournfully; they were stationed amongst the half-destroyed Mars of Malali's universe. "So you do know?" The cub nodded. She continued to read in silence.
"I'll never be her." Amadeth stated after finishing the letter. "I'll never be the Laytra that you knew as you'll never be the Gala that I knew." The cub nodded. "I'm pretty focussed on my own shit. If you run off to chase a mouse, I won't follow you." Again, the cub nodded. "Alright then. Help me get another clone; I think I'm close to figuring this out.
"Next stop, enlightenment."
[color=#666666]This message was edited on 2011-10-05T04:55:41-07:00.
|posts in thread|
May 22, 11 at 2:05pm ^re: The Chronicles
Adventures in Hammerspace pt6
Nezia Knew that I'd Run Out of Jokes, So He Made this a Serious Chapter
"Something feels weird, d00d," Maxwell said out loud. He and Selena had entered Nezia's castle and they were now in a wide, open chamber. The walls and floor were made of smooth, seamless granite and unadorned, an oddity considering that most final bosses were at least courteous enough to roll out the red carpets and giant pictures of themselves during a castle storming.
"I can't get rid of the feeling that we're walking into a trap," Maxwell continued.
The bronze amazon princess glanced at Maxwell. Ever since he'd spoken to Plot Convenience Man, he seemed...serious.
"Of courthe there'th going to be a trap. Nethia would be a crap villain if there weren't at least one," Selena said brightly, trying to spur Maxwell into a lighthearted argument, but the prinny plushie just sighed.
"Yeah, d00d, I guess you're right."
"Makthwell, what'th wrong?"
Maxwell sighed again, "Well, d00d, I'm having a case of plot-induced depression. It'll probably take the rest of this chapter for it to clear up. If I'm unlucky, it might even take two chapters wherein you are placed into mortal peril and your impending death snaps me out of my slump just in time to save you."
Laughter cut through the conversation and Maxwell looked up and found himself staring at the strangest creature he'd ever seen, and he'd seen himself in a mirror! The man directly across from Maxwell and Selena was clad in a long, black overcoat that fanned out like a cape; he had long, silver hair that covered one eye, though that did not detract from the man's incredibly handsome features: he had a perfect smile and a perfect face, though his expression was dark and brooding, trying to hide deep emotional hurts; his right arm was a tangled mess of robotics and his left arm was bare and was, in fact, a bear's arm; at his waist was a katana.
"Hey..." Maxwell started, "Aren't you the villain guy I met a few posts ago, d00d? The paragraph's even copy-pasta'd."
"Yes," the man responded sinisterly, "But that post doesn't take place canonically until after this."
"Nethia!" Selena hissed, "Makthwell, be careful. That katana at hith waitht thootth out latherth!.
Nezia laughed again, "Ah, Princess Selena. I knew you would be here, and I knew you would bring a champion with you. So I prepared this room specifically for you and him." the villain cleared his throat. Maxwell tensed, hand-things drifting toward the Pouch of Infinity.
"RELEASE THE MOOKS!"
The prinny plushie almost fell over.
"Mookth?" Selena guffawed as holes opened in the floor around her and Maxwell, "You're thending Mookth at uth?" Dozens of lightly clothed soldiers came rumbling out of the holes in the floor. Each soldier wore black pants and a black shirt emblazoned with Nezia's crest - an ornate 'N' - in the center rather than on the chest. They bore no weapons, no armor, and, to Maxwell's shock, no faces, though he supposed that made sense, considering they were Mooks.
"I knew you would say that," Nezia responded, "So I made this special room. Mooks, restrain them."
Selena shook her head pityingly at the Mooks as a bright emerald green aura flared up around her. Maxwell stopped midway to his Pouch and gaped in surprise as Selena gathered her aura in her hands and threw it at a congregation of Mooks conveniently grouped together. The blast of energy hit them head on and then exploded outward, enveloping the rest of the Mooks.
"What?" Selena asked in amusement as Maxwell continued to stare, "You thought I wath jutht a pretty fathe?"
Maxwell opened his mouth to respond, but stopped when the smoke cleared and every single faceless Mook stared(?) at him and Selena.
"Uh oh," Maxwell said, "They don't look happy, d00d."
"They don't have any fatheth!" Selena retorted in frustration.
"Yeah, well..." Maxwell shrugged and delved into the Pouch of Infinity, "Don't worry, d00d. I'll handle this." The prinny plushie yanked out...
"Well that's no good," Maxwell muttered, chucking the peanut aside and reaching in again. The Savior of Mankind froze, eyes widening in surprise. He dug deeper into the pouch, but no matter what he did, he found nothing. He stared at Nezia, who merely watched passively.
"I knew you would do that when Selena failed," he said, lips curling into a smile, "So I cockblocked you from hammerspace."
"How the hell did you do that?" Maxwell demanded.
"Well I knew that your powers stem from possessing a Bag of Holding. And I knew that Selena is an Action Girl. So I created this room that inverts tropes. In this room, your Bag of Holding, Maxwell, is a regular bag," Nezia replied.
Maxwell gasped, "Then that means that these Mooks..."
"...Are unstoppable," Nezia finished with an evil chuckle, "Yes."
"If that'th the cathe," Selena responded, "How come thethe Mookth thtill lithen to you?" She turned to the Mooks slowly closing in on her and Maxwell, "I'd rebel. If tropeth are reverthed here, that meanth that he'th really weak right now."
Nezia shook his head smugly, "I knew you'd do that. So I found a way to make myself immune to trope reversal. My Mooks aren't foolish enough to rebel against me. Any other ideas?"
Maxwell racked his brain. They were going to be captured if he didn't do something! There had to be something...!
But try as he might, his mind did not offer him any solutions, since it was still in the middle of angsting about not knowing how to save the world.
"Mooks," Nezia commanded, waving his bear arm, "Take Selena to the Giant Paintings of Me Room. I wish to interrogate her. Send Maxwell to the dungeon or something. I don't care about him."
"Makthwell!" Selena cried as the generic enemies encircled the two and captured them. Maxwell didn't bother struggling. There was nothing he could do. Nothing. He couldn't even save one person! He just...didn't deserve to be a hero. And as that fact hit home, the prinny plushie allowed a single tear to drop from his eyes. He felt like dying just then.
"Get ready to run, d00d!" Maxwell yelled, "I hope you Mook d00ds put up a decent fight!" And with that, Maxwell began to struggle against his captors. The Mooks faced one another - seeing as they couldn't actually look at each other - and one shrugged its shoulders and then chopped the back of Maxwell's neck to knock the Savior of Mankind unconscious. Maxwell smiled as he promptly exploded in a burst of energy that completely destroyed the Mooks around him and threw the others holding Selena to the ground.
"Makthwell!" Selena screamed.
Run, d00d, run!
The princess of Elinia did as Maxwell requested. She turned and bolted back out the door the two had come through.
Nezia watched. His smile widened as he said, "I knew he would do that." He walked over and claimed the Pouch of Infinity, "So I set up this entire chapter to get my hands on this." He gave a final villainous chuckle before the chapter ended.
|posts in thread|
May 23, 11 at 7:28pm ^re: The Chronicles
In the realm of Oblivion the Collector dreamed.
An old man sits against a tree in the woods. The shadows cast by the forest shift constantly and in that sea of darkness a face appears. "Your getting old, you won't be able to escape us forever." I remember that voice... "It doesn't have to end this way, I am always willing to make a deal." Of course you are. You were always fond of your deals bastard. You died screaming, they all scream eventually.
The world shifts to a blinding light. A man in his 30's is crying out in fury, "I've killed more of them than any of your Hunters. How can you say that I am not worthy to enter!" You were naive. It was never about killing. A voice fills the mans head. Your soul is stained with darkness. There can be no redemption for the likes of you. Go and be purged by the fire. The man hurls his power into the white void and screams to no avail.
"I have come to collect." The man now appeared to be in his 20's, the woman he spoke to cowering in his presence. "Please sir anything but that." Foolish woman it is far to late. "Anything you say? Perhaps I should return your child to the brink of death and when he succumbs I'll take him as my payment." The woman begins to sob. "Please no." The man places his hand on her head. "Please..."
He was surrounded by fire, the heat was unbearable. He opened his mouth to scream, but there was no sound. To his horror he realized he couldn't breathe, couldn't move, couldn't see. He could hear though, the horrible sound of laughter, somehow more unbearable than the fire. Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop. MAKE IT STOP! He tried to lash out, tried to fight but he was trapped by his immobility, the laughter grew louder.
And then silence. The fire went out, his body went cold. A voice arose, it sounded like millions of people trying to talk in different languages at once, some of them far from human. But in his mind there was but one voice. I can let you out little one.
Of course little one, of course. You will be free, but you will serve us. You will help us. You will save us.
In the realm of Oblivion the Collector woke.
"I have been inactive far to long. It is time that I uphold my end of the bargain."
|posts in thread|
Jun 2, 11 at 4:05am ^re: The Chronicles
Adventures in Hammerspace pt7
In Which Maxwell Denies A Character Development Opportunity
Maxwell let out a groan. Waking up after exploding was just like waking up with a hang over. He always had a pounding headache, he'd rather stay in bed, and he usually woke up next to somebody he didn't know, all of which were true in this case.
"Erm...hey, d00d, who are you?" he said to the lump beside him. A man sat up wearing a dusty straitjacket and squinted at Maxwell.
"My label is one of many. It reeks with the odor of a tummy of jello. Time decides what I am, and for now, I am...Mr. Squeegee!" Maxwell's companion spoke in quick, jerky spasms.
"Uh...are you okay, d00d?"
"My skin burns with the germination of a thousand angry flowers!" Mr. Squeegee responded, spasming violently as he tried to free himself from his bonds in what Maxwell assumed was an attempt to scratch his apparently burning skin.
The prinny plushie sighed and took in the rest of his surroundings, ignoring both the pounding in his head and the verbiage spewing from the mouth of his compatriot. The very first thing he noticed was that the Pouch of Infinity was not around his waist. Scrambling to his feet, the Savior of Mankind searched frantically around the room he was in. The room was well-furnished, much to his surprise. He had been sitting on bright red carpeted floor that seemed almost to fold around him to fit the form of his tushie. The room was painted an inviting light blue color with little puffs of white splashed across the blue that were meant - Maxwell assumed - to be semen. You could never really tell with artists.
The rest of the room was barren save for a message tacked onto one wall. There was no sign of the Pouch anywhere. Maxwell sighed again. His heroic sacrifice had hopefully bought Selena her freedom, but what now? What could he do? HOW could he do it?
The prinny plushie glanced at the message on the wall, almost not wanting to read it. It would no doubt be just a lengthy taunt from Nezia about how much Maxwell sucked, but curiosity overwhelmed him and he read,
Welcome to the Dungeon Room! If you awaken to find yourself in this room, it means you have been kidnapped, captured, or are otherwise detained. We here at Nezia Inc. firmly believe in customer satisfaction. We are constantly working to make your prison a better place so that, with any luck, you won't want to leave. If there is anything that we can do for you, just press the button located to the right of this message. Receptionists are standing by to cater to your needs 24/7! Want a nice, comfy pillow to sleep on? No problem! Got a craving for high-quality fine-dining? We deliver only the finest! Need to work off some sexual tension with a romantic interest? Due to the nature of prisons, we cannot provide such companionship, but we DO provide blow-up dolls that can be shaped and painted in the likeness of your romantic interest!
If you need anything of the above and more, please do not hesitate to give us a call!
Thank you, and enjoy your imprisonment!
"That's really nice of them," Maxwell said, cheered up somewhat by the thought of such great service, "Hey d00ds. I could really use an escape route right now. Could you provide me with one?"
A feminine voice could be heard as a microphone...somewhere...clicked on, "We're sorry. We at Nezia Inc. do not provide means of escape."
"Yes," Maxwell replied, "But let's say that there was an escape route built into this dungeon, so you don't have to provide it. You just have to tell me about it. It's okay to do that, right d00d?"
"...You must really think I'm stupid, don't you?"
"More like hoping, d00d..." Maxwell sighed, as the voice clicked off, "Well that didn't work."
"I weep for the sighs of the malignant tree monkeys," Mr. Squeegee responded.
"Yeah...me too." Maxwell slumped against the bright blue wall behind him and stared at the ceiling.
"D00d, you ever have something that was really important that you needed to do at all costs, but you had no idea how to do it?" the Savior of Mankind asked out loud.
"Fate is a many-fingered cabbage. Watch out for its tail."
"It is like a cabbage," Maxwell agreed, "but are you saying that I'm worrying about stuff that isn't there? Cabbages don't have tails, d00d."
"The truth is a lie that beats us with hair fetishes. What is real is illusion."
Maxwell frowned, "I'd never thought of it that way, d00d. Maybe I am imagining problems that aren't there...I mean, I am...me. I'm immortal and generally, the Pouch of Infinity and my afro follow me around everywhere. And I can pull anything out of the pouch. How could I fail?"
"Irony is more powerful than fate. Imagination is the reality that drives the hamsters," Mr. Squeegee replied, "they rally to vanquish the evil overlord of wheels."
"Alright, that one didn't even make sense, d00d. Could you give me another one?"
Just then, the message on the wall exploded. Maxwell leaped clear of the rubble and stared at Selena as she walked over the debris.
"I finally found you, Makthwell!" she said with a smile.
Maxwell returned her greeting before saying, "Could you hold on a second, d00d? I'm in the middle of a Plot Epiphany."
Selena rolled her eyes and folded her arms, "Well hurry up." Despite her words, she grinned. Maxwell was going back to his old self.
"So...I may not know what it is I have to do, the important thing is that I just help out people and trust that fate will keep me on the written path," Maxwell stated out loud as he paced back and forth over the rubble, "So really, I'm right back where I started at the beginning of this story. But that's okay. Stuff was working fine for me then any way. Besides, a threat to all of mankind will be pretty hard to miss, I figure."
Selena began to tap her foot, "Hurry up, Makthwell!"
"Wait a second before we go, d00d," Maxwell replied, searching the room for Mr. Squeegee only to find, oddly enough, that his insane companion had disappeared completely. "...Huh. Well that's weird."
"What ith?" Selena asked.
"There was a guy in here with me, d00d. He helped me reach my Plot Epiphany."
"...Makthwell, all of the prithon roomth are one-perthon only. It'th a rule."
"Well, maybe he ran by while you weren't looking," Maxwell decided, "Come on! Let's go save your...uh...what was your plight again, d00d?"
"My kingdom hath been taken over by Nethia," Selena replied, clearly not amused.
"Right," Maxwell nodded, "And the panties. But your kingdom first, of course."
Selena shook her head, "But your pouch, Makthwell. How will you fight Nethia?"
Maxwell waved away her question as the two began to make their escape, "It'll be easy, d00d! I'll just tactically outwit him!"
|posts in thread|
Jun 2, 11 at 6:29pm ^re: The Chronicles
Adventures in Hammerspace pt8
What Villains do Before You Get the Boss Key
Also, the Maxwell is a Lie
"So how'd you manage to rescue me anyway?" Maxwell asked. He and Selena were running down a long corridor filled with smirking paintings of Nezia.
"No, no. I'm not letting this crap happen again!" the Writer interrupted.
"Wait, what?" Maxwell asked.
"This entire story has been all about you. I've barely been it! Hell, Ray's barely been in it!"
Maxwell nodded slowly, "Yeah...what's your point, d00d?"
"My point is," C replied, "That it's time that some of the other characters in this story got some screen time while you're off doing...who the hell cares."
"The audience cares, d00d!" Maxwell insisted, "You can't just deprive them of me! I'm the main character!"
The Writer scoffed, "Well why don't we ask them what they would prefer? Audience! What would you rather read more? A droll and predictable escape in which Maxwell and Selena battle the Dragon-"
"D00d! We're going to have to fight a dragon!?"
"Excuthe me, but doethn't thith entire converthathion terrifically break the fourth wall?" Selena asked.
"Yes, it does, but I don't care," C responded, "Now shut up. Anyway. You could read about that OR you could read the thrilling tale of character development in which I feature most magnificently! Oh, and that little kid I beat the shit out of at the end of part four will be in it too...I guess."
"D00d. Everybody loves action much more than stupid character development," Maxwell snorted, "It's simple physics."
"Makthwell, I don't think that-"
"Oh really?" the Writer glared at the readers, "Well? Why don't you answer my question? And remember..." he opened his Book and chuckled darkly, "Your very existences are riding on your answers."
One by one, hands went up and answers were given, all in favor of the Writer.
"Ha!" the Writer crowed, "You see? They'd prefer to read about me."
"You thleathy bathtard! You can't jutht threaten the audienthe!"
"Alright," C said, facing Ray and Cele, "This chapter is going to be our time to shine! So just give me a moment to get back into character and we'll really wow the readers!"
Ray eyed the Writer with intense dislike. "Why do you follow him around?" he asked the young girl next to him.
Cele smiled, "He's so kind to me. He took me out of a place that hated me. He's given me so much. My clothes, a book...everything. C is like a father to me. A real one. Not..." Cele shivered, "Not like my other one."
"He's a psychopath," Ray insisted, "He's ranted at least six times about killing everybody, and that's only since he's kidnapped me. He's evil to the bone."
"Then...why hasn't he killed me, I wonder?" Cele asked.
Ray sighed, "Who knows? But that just means he could turn on you at any moment."
Cele shook her head, her long dark hair swaying back and forth as she did, "The Writer wouldn't do that. He isn't a bad person."
"Then what is he?" Ray demanded, frustrated by Cele's defending of the madman. Couldn't she see he was nothing more than a killer?
"He's a good person who does bad things," Cele replied.
"Are you sure you aren't a little biased?" Cele asked.
Ray looked her in the eyes, "Maybe it's you who's a little biased. Have you just completely ignored all of the things he's done for people who aren't you? He ruins lives, Cele! He's not a good person who does bad things! He's a bad person who, for some inexplicable reason, is doing good things for you! He's manipulating you!" The teenage boy had begun shouting near the end, trying so hard to convince Cele.
"He is not!" Cele shouted back, "Why would he? He doesn't even know that I have any power!"
"He's probably-" Ray stopped, "Wait, you have powers? Is that how C knows where to find Maxwell?"
Cele smoothed her dress and turned away from Ray pointedly.
"Come on," Ray pressed, "You can tell me about them. Can I get them?"
"No..." Cele had begun shaking, "No, I can't." she finished in a whisper. Tears had begun to streak down her face.
Ray could only watch as the girl who held his heart fell into a fit of weeping. Not knowing what else to do, Ray put his arms around her in a hug, "I'm sorry, Cele. I didn't mean to make you cry...I was just curious about what sort of power you have."
"...Why are you so interested in power anyway?" Cele asked after a moment.
Ray tensed, "What are you talking about?"
"I've seen it," Cele said, "The way you stare at C's Book. The way you want to know about my own abilities now. And the way you talk about your friend, Maxwell. Like he's a tool, a weapon. Why do you want power, Ray?"
"...You really are something special," Ray muttered, "Unfortunately-"
"Get your hands off of Cele!" the Writer snarled, brandishing his pen like a sword as he lunged at Ray.
At that moment, the scene changed in order to create suspense.
"Do you think these paintings make me look fat?" Nezia asked. He and a tall, bald man in black robes were conversing in Nezia's throne room observing a massive circular chamber with larger-than-life paintings of Nezia.
"Not at all," Bald Man replied amicably, "They really bring out the color of your...uh...eyes. Is it really necessary to have so many of them?"
"When you've got power, you've got to squander it on frivolous, pointless things," Nezia replied, "Like I made the perfect toilet. And it's-"
Bald Man held up a hand, "That won't be necessary, Nezia. I didn't give you your power so that you would waste it on that."
Nezia frowned quizzically, "But you got what you wanted. It's an even trade. As long as we both get what we want, what do the details matter?"
Bald Man chuckled, "Yes, I suppose you're right. I've figured out the workings of the pouch. It didn't take as much study as I thought it would.
Nezia eyed his conspirator sideways, "...Why do you need more power anyway? Isn't that strange book of yours enough to defeat anybody?"
"The magic I took from the pouch isn't meant for defeating anybody. It is to help me escape this worldly prison."
Nezia frowned, but otherwise he showed no sign of being surprised by Bald Man's words. A worldly prison? What could that possibly mean?
"So anyway, can I get you anything to eat?" he asked after a moment.
Bald Man shook his head, "I must politely decline. I estimate that you will have guests very soon."
"Ah, yes," Nezia glanced at the grandfather clock framed over the large double-door entry into the room, "It is about time they got here. Quickly, we should start talking about important plot-things to make them think they just missed something important."
Bald Man rolled his eyes, "No, I think I'll be leaving now. Try not to die." A strange rip in the air opened in front of him and Nezia's provider disappeared through it just as one of the double doors opened and in strode the Savior of Mankind and Selena, looking as though they owned the place.
Smiling to himself, Nezia turned to begin the Final Boss Monologue leading up to the Final Boss Battle.
|posts in thread|
Jun 3, 11 at 1:26am ^re: The Chronicles
Adventures in Hammerspace pt9
This Chapter Contains Spoilers
"So let me make sure I've got this right," Maxwell said as he and Selena stepped onto the escalator that would take them to Nezia's throne room. It was really nice to at last see final bosses adapting to new technology and replacing the Ridiculously Long Staircase(TM) with more modern conveniences. There was even some out of place elevator music playing in the background. "Everybody in Elinia has a Gift. A magic of some sort that only they can use, right d00d?"
"Yeth," Selena nodded, "That ith exactly what I jutht finithed telling you offthcreen in the latht chapter."
"Right," Maxwell said, "And your Gift is the Gift of Aura, which you can basically use to manipulate energy itself," the prinny plushie shivered, "I hope none of the bad guys ever get that ability."
"And Nezia's Gift is the Gift of Foresight, meaning he can see the future. Which is how he knew all of those things before."
"Ath long ath you don't make eye contact, he can't uthe that ability," Selena finished.
"A convenient flaw," Maxwell said, "But one we can exploit, d00d. As long as we avoid that, the only thing we'll have to deal with are the rest of his supernatural powers granted to him by the panties."
Selena smiled as she and Maxwell topped the escalator and stood before two massive steel doors, "Exactly." She had gained a lot of offscreen respect for Maxwell in the last chapter and had really begun to see him as a warrior. A savior. And a friend.
Maxwell returned the smile, "Come on, d00d. Let's save your country." The two of them opened the door to Nezia together.
The man himself turned to greet the two companions, and Maxwell just barely caught a glimpse of another man departing through...a hole in the air? That made no sense, but he didn't pay it any mind. He focused his gaze on Nezia.
"Heroic resolve heroic resolve! Resolve, resolve heroic!" he said.
"Philosophy," Nezia replied, "Philosophy, philosophy. Flawed logic, logic flawed. Logic logic, philosophy logic flawed."
"Righteous anger!" Selena retorted, "People, people, righteous anger!"
Nezia waved her away dismissively, "Selfish desire. Taunt, taunt, selfish desire taunt."
"NO U!" Maxwell replied angrily.
Nezia laughed and shook his head, "Pointless bickering, overconfidence, confidence bickering pointless."
Maxwell and Selena nodded in unison.
"Very well then," Nezia said, "Now that the formalities have passed...let it begin. Oh wait a second."
Maxwell and Selena almost fell on top of each other as they stopped their lunges. "I'll be with you in just a moment." Nezia walked into a side room. Maxwell and Selena allowed the villain to go, knowing that he would do them the courtesy of not fleeing or setting up a trap. That just wasn't the way things worked.
When Nezia returned, he was holding the Pouch of Infinity.
"Here." He let go of the Pouch and the utility belt of hammerspace flew toward Maxwell and wrapped around the Savior of Mankind's waist, master and weapon reunited at last. "Now. As I was saying," Nezia began, "Let it begin."
If Maxwell or Selena found Nezia returning Maxwell's main supply of weaponry strange, they said nothing about it. Before Nezia could even begin his attack, however, Maxwell and Selena each flashed a pair of sunglasses and put them on.
Nezia raised an eyebrow in amusement, "You don't actually think that will work, do you?"
"No, d00d," Maxwell responded, "We just want to kick your ass in style is all."
The fight began in a burst of energy as Selena flared her Aura. Green energy exploded outward from her body and sped toward Nezia as a flurry of bright green bolts of energy. The evil overlord danced through the barrage with ease, unsheathing his katana and firing his own laser barrage out of its tip in a single fluid movement as he did so.
The lasers all disappeared into Maxwell's afro, who had anticipated the move and bent over and used his afro as a fully body shield. There was an itch in Maxwell's back as he dove into the Pouch of Infinity for a counterattack. The plushie couldn't quite explain why, but there was something coming. Something far bigger than panties.
He shook the feeling away and lifted whatever he'd grabbed out of the Pouch of Infinity. What was unveiled was a very angry giant crab. On fire. Maxwell, having grown used to this sort of thing after possessing the pouch for many, many millennia, just shrugged, but Selena and even Nezia could not help staring at the flaming crustacean.
Maxwell threw the fire crab at the stunned Nezia who managed to come to his senses in time to slice off one of the crab's pincers. The infernal menace made whatever sounds that giant crabs on fire make when they're in excruciating pain and a jet of fire burst from its mouth. Unfortunately, the flaming death hurtled toward Selena rather than Nezia and the Princess of Elinia was forced to gather her Aura in front of her as a shield.
In that space of time, Nezia had disappeared and reappeared behind Selena, katana poised to end her life. The Savior of Mankind acted quickly, not even bothering to look at whatever he took out of the pouch.
Nezia sliced the projectile instinctively, an action he quickly regretted as thousands of angry bees stormed out of their destroyed home and began to sting the nearest fleshy being they found. They had a particular animosity toward Nezia, perhaps because of his bear arm, and as a result, the usurper became a mass of angrily buzzing insects. The air was occasionally pierced by Nezia's girlish screams, which irritated the already very disgruntled giant crab on fire. The crab sent another blast of fire, this time at Nezia, who managed, somehow, to see the oncoming threat and spin his katana like a massive propeller. The fire parted around Nezia just enough to singe the bees without hurting the man himself.
Selena took the opportunity to strike out with her Aura, this time as a spear of energy. Nezia swiped at the energy with his katana and deflected the attack at the crab. The crustacean gave a final twitch before collapsing as the fire around it extinguished to reveal a giant hole through its side. Nezia became a blur as he fired laser blasts at Maxwell from every direction with his katana. The Savior of Mankind barely managed to evade the deadly projectiles - mostly by ducking and allowing his afro to take the harm - and screamed in frustration. This was just plain ridiculous! Not making eye contact with Nezia wasn't helping! He was moving faster than Maxwell could follow. Shutting his eyes would just be a deathwish!
"Well, well. This does look like trouble."
Maxwell gasped. That voice...!
"D00d! It's Plot Convenience Man!"
The Deity Ex Machina descended from out of no where, landing in the middle of the destroyed throne room.
"Having difficulties?" he asked Maxwell with a knowing smile.
"D00d! This is just like the time you fight Mithos in Tales of Symphonia and he's unbeatable no matter what!" Maxwell told him. Nezia let out a bloodcurdling scream as his assault stopped and he ground to a full halt.
"Wh...what did you say!?" he demanded.
"Err...I said this is like the time you fight Mithos - you know, Yggdrassill - where he's unbeatable. After you fight Kratos."
"Nooooo!" Nezia screamed, "No, I haven't got that far yet! Don't spoil it!"
Maxwell stared. Could it be...? Nezia could see the future of anything that he made eye contact with. But books and video games had no eyes to make contact with. Could it be that Nezia's weakness was...spoilers? He looked at Plot Convenience Man who nodded and then winked.
As completely stupid as it sounded, Maxwell didn't have anything else to go on, and so he said, "Murtagh is Eragon's brother!" Nezia let out a howl and recoiled as though struck by a particularly strong blow. That confirmed it.
"Selena, be ready! I'm going to weaken him and you do the finishing blow, d00d!" Maxwell called. Selena nodded. She looked confused, but she nodded. Maxwell turned back to Nezia with fiery fury in his eyes.
"Gandalf isn't really dead!" Nezia convulsed.
Maxwell took a step toward the fallen ruler, "Darth Vader is Luke's father!" Nezia took a step back, agony all but etched into his face as Maxwell advanced.
"Einhorn is a man!"
"Bella chooses Edward!"
"Mid-Boss is Laharl's father!"
"Auron is an Unsent!"
"Tommy is the White Ranger!"
"Zero was created by Dr. Wily!"
By the time Maxwell was inches away from Nezia, the once mighty foe had furrows in his face from where his fingernails had dug in and he was glaring at Maxwell with wide-eyed, unbridled hatred. Maxwell leaned in close and met Nezia's gaze, preparing to deliver the final blow.
"...Snape kills Dumbledore."
"Noooooo!" Nezia began to thrash, swinging his katana violently, swiping at the air as though to ward off the spoilers. Maxwell watched in grim satisfaction as Selena's Aura slammed into him.
"Finish him, d00d!" Maxwell told Selena in his best Mortal Kombat voice.
"Hurry!" Plot Convenience Man added. Maxwell frowned. Why was he so tense? The threat was over now. They'd won. But then...why was his heart racing? It wouldn't stop. Maxwell shivered. It wouldn't stop. His heart pounded. Why? The itch on his back was stronger than ever. Something...something was coming.
The ceiling overhead cracked and shattered. Maxwell's gaze snapped upward as the stony walls began to crumble and fall. Selena's aura spread over Maxwell, though she had to release Nezia to do it. The green energy cut and sliced the stone apart until the only remnants that reached Maxwell were harmless pebbles, but the Savior of Mankind didn't even bother brushing them off. His gaze was held by the man who stood among debris with an open black book in his hands. The man's eyes flitted toward Selena and Plot Convenience Man, the latter of whom was gritting his teeth and looking extremely apprehensive.
"Non-entities..." the man said, "Kill them."
|posts in thread|
Jun 5, 11 at 1:43pm ^re: The Chronicles
Adventures in Hammerspace pt10
Super Epic Srs Bsns Finale Troll ENDING
Selena barely had time to react. She threw up her Aura as a shield just as a bolt of lightning struck. The air resounded with a loud crack as it struck her Aura, but the shield held. Barely. Real lightning shouldn't have even come close to damaging that. The old man standing beside the one with the Book had his arm upraised. Was the lightning his doing?
"Who are you!?" she demanded.
The man with the book forced out a laugh, "Well isn't that ridiculous," he said, "Mere words, making demands of me!?" He scribbled something into his book.
"Run!" Plot Convenience Man shouted, but Selena had a different idea. She concentrated her Aura on the roiling ground beneath her. The earth gave way as Selena dug beneath Nezia's palace.
She and Plot Convenience Man landed in a surprisingly vast underground cave. The only light came from the crumbling ceiling above them.
"Well thith ith convenient," Selena remarked, "Who knew there wath an entire network of caveth beneath Nethia's cathle?"
Plot Convenience Man raised his hand, "I did."
Selena rolled her eyes. "Where'th Makthwell?"
Plot Convenience Man's eyes sharpened, "He didn't come with us?"
The Princess of Elinia took a quick look at their surroundings, "I don't thee him anywhere..."
"We've got to hurry and get him away from that man," Plot Convenience Man said, "Come on!" The Deity Ex Machina began to take flight when a figure plunged down the opening Selena had created.
It wasn't Maxwell.
It was a man, tall and lean with short black hair and wearing light leather armor. His hands and feet gleamed in the dim cave and Selena saw that contrary to the light protection he wore, he was wearing what appeared to be very heavy gauntlets and greaves. The man did not appear to possess any weapons, though.
His mouth stretched into a feral grin, "Hi. Call me the Killer. Pleased to kill you."
Selena hurled her Aura at the man, the green energy forming into a lance. The strange man raised his arm faster than thought, stopping the energy lance from impaling him. The lance did, however, pierce through his gauntlet. Blood sprayed from the hole Selena's Aura had drilled into his hand, but the pain only seemed to make his grin wider. With a quick jerk, he sliced his hand clean open, freeing it from Selena's Aura, and followed through with a powerful kick. Selena dodged and the Killer's leg smashed into the rock wall. The entire cavern trembled with the force of the blow and a wide-eyed Selena came to realize just a part of what she was truly up against.
"A little help here!" she called to Plot Convenience Man.
The Deity Ex Machina could only shrug sadly, "I'm not allowed to directly interfere. I can give you a magic super weapon, give you a hint about what needs to be done, or tell you his weakness but you have to be the one to actually finish him."
"Fine! I'll jutht deal with him mythelf! You go find Makthwell!" a frantic Selena shouted as the Killer let loose with a flurry of precision punches and kicks while Plot Convenience Man turned and ran back down the passages connecting Nezia's castle to the surface. Selena thanked her Stars that she'd been conveniently trained in hand-to-hand combat and was not a Squishy Mage archetype. She took extreme care to avoid the Killer's blows completely, knowing that even if he managed to so much as nick her, the power behind his attacks would likely be enough to rip apart whatever he managed to touch.
Finally, the Princess of Elinia got an opening. The Killer threw a wide blow which she ducked under and then threw her Aura at the Writer's avatar once more, this time aiming for his heart. Her Aura struck no flesh and she heard only the Killer's laugh. His body had...stretched to the side as though it were made out of gum or rubber and making him look almost cartoonish. His fist flew toward her. Selena grit her teeth. She was too close to dodge now...
She forced the energy in her aura outward in an explosion, the resulting blast throwing both her and the Killer backward. A deep groan pushed past Selena's lips. She squeezed her eyes shut, hoping it would also shut out the pain. It did not. The explosion had ripped apart her right arm, which was now a bleeding mess. A few tears managed to force their way out of her tear ducts and run down her face. Stars, the pain! She tried to calm her rough and ragged breathing. He had to be dead. That had to have killed him. Overhead, there was a loud crack and then the cave walls rumbled again as bits of stone crashed down from the ceiling.
She had to get to him. Selena opened her eyes and stumbled to her feet. She didn't dare to look at her mangled right arm, fearing that if she did, she would almost certainly collapse once more.
"That was fun!" A wave of cold washed over the Princess of Elinia. She shut her eyes and uttered a curse in her native language - "Bleep!" - before ignoring both her body's and mind's frantic protests and facing the Killer once more. To her credit, the bizarre creature was far worse off than she was. Her Aura's explosion had torn a very large chunk of flesh out of the Killer's torso and completely blown off his left hand. And yet despite that, he was still grinning manically.
"Y...you do know that there'th a hole in your left thide, right?" Selena asked tentatively.
"What about it?"
The two stared at one another for a moment; a moment that Selena was grateful for. Her tired mind worked frantically to think of a way to defeat the monster before her, but all that her brain could come up with was: "STAY THE *bleep* AWAY FROM HIM!" He was a melee fighter. He had to get close to attack. If she could keep him on the defensive, all she would have to do was wait for an opening and take it. If she could manage that, she'd be-
The Killer hurled the enormous rock at the Princess of Elinia as though it were a pillow. Selena's Aura burst into existence and she wrapped it around the flying rock of death and swung it around her in a full circle, finally sending it flying back toward the Killer. The man barked a laugh, balled up his fist, and punched the boulder. Like everything else he had touched, the giant clod of rock and earth exploded into tiny pebbles and stone. A cloud of dust was kicked up in the wake of the stone's destruction. Selena squinted into the dust and debris, waiting for the Killer's movement.
A pebble flew out of the dust and ripped straight through Selena's left leg. She cried out in pain as stone after stone flew from within the dust cloud like a machine gun. Selena gathered her Aura around her in a tight shield, the impromptu bullets bouncing off of it harmlessly. And then another giant rock came hurtling toward her. Selena squeaked and lashed out with her Aura, this time destroying it completely, and then retracted her Aura completely. The green energy dissipated and faded into nothing. Selena was completely defenseless. Just as planned.
The Killer took advantage of the lull in her defenses and lunged out of the dust and closed his fist around Selena's throat, slamming her against the rock wall.
"I'm not one to monologue about how much I'll enjoy doing this," the Killer told her, "but I will really enjoy doing this. Time to die."
"I agree!" Selena choked. The Killer's eyes widened. He looked down at the gaping hole in his side and saw Selena's Aura coursing into it. He had time to look back at the Princess of Elinia in outrage before her Aura forced its way out of his body and he was blown apart from the inside out. Selena slumped to the ground, silently congratulating herself. The Killer's flaw was that he could not feel pain and thus could not know the condition of his own body, or whether there was something inside it.
"You beat him." Selena turned to see Plot Convenience Man approaching her, looking quite impressed.
"Of courthe," she said as though it had been no effort at all on her part, "Why aren't you up on the thurface with Makthwell?"
Plot Convenience Man shook his head, "It wouldn't do any good now. It's too late."
"We need to get out of here. Now."
How did it come to this?
Maxwell distinctly heard Plot Convenience Man yell, "Run!" And yet...he couldn't. Not that he didn't want to. He did not need a scouter to know that this new enemy's power level was definitely over nine thousand. And yet...something held him there. Something drew him to that man. His speeding heart quickened even more. He could feel the ground shaking. Rumbling. Roaring.
He took a step forward. And his heart beat faster.
There exist beings who live outside of the Plot. Beings I have no power over. Those who drive the Plot itself.
Someone was shouting. Maxwell wished he could hear them over the rhythmic pounding of his chest. His arms twitched. Not toward the Pouch of Infinity. Toward his afro. Why there? Why...?
He took another step.
Maxwell, you're hurting me...!
And Makthwell ith one of thethe beingth?
Fire danced around him as he advanced toward his foe. His fear was gone. Was the fire around him...or inside him? It consumed his emotions. Fear, doubt, confusion...all burned away until there was only himself left. Maxwell could feel something. Something was trying to escape. He looked down at the Pouch of Infinity. There. That's what it was. He opened the pouch.
What's going on? How is he doing that!?
No. He is the antithesis of those people.
There was nothing to take from the Pouch of Infinity. Energy exploded out of it, pure strands of red and white energy swirling and gathering around him, all coming from the Pouch. The glow became brighter and brighter. His arms felt at his head and pulled off his afro. The hair was twisting, melding, and absorbing the energy being emitted from the Pouch of Infinity. His afro became a sword whose blade spanned all the colors of the spectrum. A godly weapon of unmatched power.
Tho he ith a weapon?
He looked at his opponent, watching him with a mixture of surprise and interest.
Writer The word pounded through his mind. That's what the man was. A Writer. Just then, everything felt right. This was what he had been born to do.
And that was the end of rational thought.
No...at least, I do not think so. What's happening to him now is more like...a defense mechanism to keep him safe. He won't stop, no matter what, until that man is gone.
C stared at the strange...thing advancing toward him. This was it? He had thought that at last, he had found a clue that would take him to the next Writer, but this creature was too strange to have come out of the mind of a Writer. All of the trouble he'd gone through and it had turned out to be a waste of time that he did not have!
"Beast, destroy him!" he screamed in fury. Somewhere behind him, the boy - Ray? - began to protest as the Beast bounded down the ledge they were on and threw himself at Maxwell with a piercing screech. "You have no room to complain!" C snapped, rounding on the boy, "I was led to believe that this 'Savior of Mankind' would be much more than this."
"D...Don't take Psyduck lightly!" Ray said, "He'll win!"
The Writer scoffed, "I doubt it." He turned to stare down at the battle and his eyes widened in surprise..
The Beast had reached the bottom and was a speeding blur headed toward Maxwell. But the creature himself was surrounding by red and white energy. THAT was all the confirmation he needed. More than enough. He wrote quickly into his Book and ripped a hole in the air.
"Knowledge, take Cele and get out of here," he ordered, unable to stop a gleeful smile from spreading across his face.
"As you command," the Knowledge said obediently - for once - "Cele, it's time to go." The teenage girl stared at Maxwell for a moment; the afro on his head had been pulled off and, apparently, become a sword; and then she followed the Knowledge through the rift C had created.
The Writer turned back to the battle, "Now then..."
Maxwell had stopped and was eyeing the Beast with...disdain? The Beast pounced with unrivaled speed and the prinny plushie did nothing to protect himself, nothing to save himself. He just turned and punched the Beast in the face then followed through with a swipe of the strange rainbow sword that cleaved the Beast in two, but his eyes never left the Writer.
C ground his teeth, "I will not back down! You are nothing more than words on a page! You are nothing to me! Nothing!" he screeched. Maxwell stared at him silently in response. A chill ran down the Writer's spine, but he shook it off. Fear? No. No! The boy! Yes! He could take the boy hostage and...!
Maxwell had leaped off the ground and was rocketing toward C. The Writer screamed in rage and raised his book as Maxwell brought down the Pringer Sword. The unstoppable force and immovable object collided with the force of a small explosion.
The Writer could only stare in wide-eyed disbelief. This wasn't happening! No! Nonononono!
The prinny plushie glared at him and finally spoke, "You don't deserve life," he hissed.
Finally, it settled in. Fear. It shook C to the bone. Maxwell leaped off of C's Book and to the Writer's furthering shock, a long, jagged scratch had been etched onto the cover. Reckless rage overcame fear.
"You..." he hissed, "Unforgivable!" He opened his Book and wrote the words that would erase the creature from existence.
Maxwell turned his gaze upward as the sky opened up to reveal a swirling mass of red and white energy collecting, gathering at a single point before exploding out of the tear in the sky in a beam. C watched in grim satisfaction as the Light of Creation sped toward Maxwell, but the prinny plushie watched silently for a moment and then raised his sword. The beam split around the sword in a brilliant flash of light, for no more than a few seconds, and then it was over.
C could only stare. No. That was purely and simply impossible. Nothing should have been able to do that. Nothing. Not even he himself could manage what this creature had done. There was no doubt now that Maxwell was definitely a creation of the Writers. But who? Which one could have created such a monstrosity!?
C lost time for thought. Maxwell had raised his hand and was gathered energy from his strange pouch in front of it.
"Psy-Psyduck!" Ray cried out from behind C, "You're not gonna use Pringer Beam here are you!? You'll kill us all!"
The prinny plushie silently continued to gather more energy. The Writer ground his teeth. No! No! Nothing would work! The creature clearly didn't care about his companion; taking him hostage would be pointless - and besides, C would NOT hide behind words. There was no way out. No way out!
C looked up. That woman was back? That meant she had beaten the Killer. Not that it mattered at this point. What did matter was that it made Maxwell pause. He glanced in her direction. The Writer reacted immediately, shoving Ray toward the prinny plushie and writing another gateway in his Book. The Writer did not spare another glance as the hole in the air opened up. For the first time since he had entered his own world of fiction, C fled. The air behind him became electrified and the monster fired the energy he'd been gathering. Light flooded C's senses as he plunged through his rift. The gateway closed behind him. He was safe. He was whole.
He was furious.
What Lies on the Horizon
"Hey, he's waking up!"
Maxwell's eyes flitted open. Ray and Selena were standing over him.
"Hey d00d," Maxwell said to Ray. He got up, making it a point not to look at Selena's battered body. The sun had just begun to set and the sky was a messy haze of melded colors flowing into another.
"Psyduck, you were SO cool!" Ray gushed, "You were all, 'Rargh.' and then that guy went, 'Kill him' and then that other guy was all 'Imma bite you!' and then you were like, 'bitch, please' and-"
He had done that to Selena. He could still see it in his mind. He had prepared to fire the Pringer Beam, even at the expense of Ray, when Selena had appeared. Her Aura had flashed around him in a tight cage as he fired the Pringer Beam. The energy had completely shattered her Aura and the recoil had sent energy back at Selena and pierced her body. Though thanks to her, enough of the Pringer Beam's power had been diverted so that instead of killing them all - like it should have - it had merely knocked them unconscious. But...still.
Why couldn't he have forgotten about it like in all of the stories about heroes with magic berserk buttons? Knowing what he had done hurt. It hurt a lot.
"I'm really sorry, Selena," the prinny plushie said, interrupting Ray's adulation.
"It'th fine, Makthwell. Plot Convenienthe Man patched me up before he left. It'th okay."
"No, it's not, d00d," Maxwell said, "What I did then is something that's never happened before. Ever. And I've been alive for a really long time, d00d. I've gotta understand why that happened."
Selena didn't speak for a moment. Maxwell glanced at her. She wasn't looking at him either. He couldn't blame her.
"Plot Convenienthe Man told me a few things," she said at last, "He thaid that you were made for a very thpethial purpothe and that what happened to you wath a defenthe mechanithm to prevent you from being dethroyed."
That was interesting. "Did he say who made me?" Maxwell inquired.
"...No. He wouldn't say," Selena said sadly.
Maxwell shut his eyes. That figured. Of course Plot Convenience Man wouldn't say. But...well, that was okay. He didn't think Plot Convenience Man was the only one who knew.
"Tho what are you going to do?" Selena asked.
Maxwell shrugged, "I don't know, d00d. I think I have to find that guy again."
"Are you inthane!?" Selena demanded, "After what jutht happened, you want to go after him now?"
"No, think about it," Maxwell said, "Plot Convenience Man told me that the person who knows about my purpose and what I am is a woman, but if I want to find out, I need to see the knowledge. And that guy had another guy who was called the Knowledge! Do you see it now, d00d?"
"...When did you thuddenly thtart making tho much thenthe?" Selena asked.
Maxwell chuckled, "Well, this is serious, d00d. And I've always known what to do when things were serious. Problem is, I don't always know when things are serious."
Selena smiled and put a hand on the Savior of Mankind's shoulder, "Don't worry. I'll go with you, to help you out."
Finally, Maxwell turned and stared at her, "D00d, what about your kingdom?"
Selena shrugged, "Have you even actually seen anybody from my kingdom besides me since you got here?"
"...Good point, d00d."
The Princess of Elinia chuckled, "Thee? It'th no problem. I owe you for helping with Nethia anyway. Don't worry, Makthwell. We'll find your creator."
The prinny plushie nodded, "I know. I can feel it, d00d. It was distant before, but it's getting closer now. My destiny is waiting for me. By the way, d00d, whatever happened to Nezia?"
"Who careth? We beat him. He'll never be heard from again."
"-And then you were all 'You don't deserve life!' It was AWESOME, Psyduck!"
Maxwell walked back into the hotel. He'd been gone for quite some time, having accidentally tripped and exploded twice on his way back. He hoped that Ray was still here.
He jumped the final step that took him to the third floor of the hotel and rounded the corner to where he'd left Ray waiting in that girl's room. He wondered if the other him had found those panties yet.
When he entered, the room was completely empty. "D00d! Where is everybody!?"
"Director, what are you doing standing out here all alone?" The woman closed the book she had been staring at so intently as the words inked themselves onto the pages. Maxwell was safe and she had managed to prevent him from killing his friends as well. That was all that mattered. But...was it truly a victory? Just briefly, Maxwell had seen someone she knew very well. And it only served to reinforce just how little time she had left.
"Director...?" She collected herself in an instant, not turning to look at the man who had spoken, her other creation.
"Just star gazing, Kalek."
"Star gazing? You don't strike me as the sort of person to do that sort of thing, Director." the young man said.
The woman laughed, "Believe it or not, I used to do this sort of thing all the time with someone very special to me. We'd watch the stars come out one by one. But, for the longest time, I just haven't been able to get out here anymore to see that happen, what with running this organization and all. And this could very well be the last night to so much as glimpse the stars."
"I'm not sure I follow, Director."
"Please..." she said, "call me Ambellina."
"Th-that would be a breach of protocol, ma'am!" Kalek responded, "Everyone knows not to say your name."
Ambellina shook her head, "It doesn't matter anymore, Kalek. I cannot afford to hide now. It's coming."
Ambellina turned back to the sky as dark red inked over the yellows and oranges and set the sky ablaze in a fiery wrath.
"A Blood Red Summer."
|posts in thread|
|Tiger of Wu||
Jun 9, 11 at 3:55pm ^re: The Chronicles
A man, a man who had been around for a while now and had made a name for himself (however reluctantly), stood at the edge of a rather large cliff-face. It overlooked a luscious landscape of rainforest which the morning sun lit up in a calm and delightful way. He wasn't one for wasting time, this man, but he found himself simply fixated on the view. It had been Connor's idea for Ion to go down to this planet at this particular time, at that particular place, and Ion immediately waved it off as nonsense. He could see no reason to go there from the gathered intel, and the fact that Connor had suggested it made him all the more wary of the idea.
"You're correct, there is no greater purpose in your being there." Connor had stated through a video communicator, once told how truly pointless his idea was. "As there is no purpose in you CCing my old e-mail address and as there is no purpose in the macaw now in your possession; perhaps we should rid you of those things?" Ion's face twitched, as if about to scowl, but he stopped himself. Connor, though not even looking at the screen of the communicator as he spoke, smiled with amusement. "Tell Roshea it is important and then go, or would you rather spend your day buried beneath paperwork with no company but your tormenting voice?" Ion's face twitched again then he turned off the communicator.
It was... strange. Standing at the edge of the cliff Ion found himself agreeing with the lie of importance, however reluctantly, and for a few moments he pondered why exactly Connor had sent him there. He then realised that he had been standing there for almost three hours, looking down at the forest and watching, feeling, the blanket of Web-lights shuffle and move; he realised he had been standing there for almost three hours and for the entire time Katrynne's voice had been completely silent.
As Ion pondered this he felt something, someone, swiftly approach. Turning his head he noticed a bird flying towards him; huge, white and afraid. I must approach slowly, was the thought implanted into the bird's mind. Sure enough it slowed and landed a fair distance away from Ion, even back-winging gently so as not to cause too much of a gust. The white bird landed and then stared at the man who turned his body and stared in kind. I must approach slowly, was repeated and so the white bird, taller than the man himself, shuffled its legs towards him.
"A rukh," Ion stated, brushing over the bird's mind. "Named Suvi, semi-sentient," the bird cocked its head, and Ion nonchalantly waved a hand away. "No offence intended." Merrily the bird chirped and shuffled its feet, causing Ion to step back, before it regarded a leather bag hanging from the saddle wrapped around its body. Tentatively, Ion moved closer and took the leather bag before stepping away again, eyeing the bird suspiciously the entire time. He knew the bird had something to do with Malali but Ion still couldn't exactly pry why it was there.
Looking into the leather bag Ion found a wooden board and thirty-two wooden pieces, half of them stained darker than the rest. He picked one out and saw what appeared to be a tall Elven man wearing fine robes and a crown, brandishing a sword; putting it back he pulled out two others, this time getting a Human woman, also with a crown, holding a spell book along with an Orc soldier holding a throwing axe in one hand and a knife bigger than his own head in the other. After looking over a few more pieces Ion plucked out a letter which came in the bag as well, reading it aloud.
"'I thought sending Mally's bird would be better than me showing up myself, after what happened last time,'... is this meant to be a smiley face?" Ion looked to Suvi, eyes squinted. The bird let out another merry chirp and the man continued to read. "'I've been e-mailing that Connie guy to help him better with what he called my majick. I prefer superpowers, but whatever.'" He looked to the bird again. "Can I just skip to the end?" Suvi chirped, very helpfully, and Ion shook his head. "'Mally has been making a chess set,' blah, blah, blah, 'Connie said you enjoy chess,' blah, blah, blah, 'I'm giving it to you; Mally can make another one later.'" Ion looked from the letter to the leather bag to the rukh, who couldn't quite smile with his beak but was most certainly showing something akin to happiness.
Ion continued to read. "'The offer still stands if you ever wish to have a mind vacation,'" he squinted, holding the letter closer to his face and reading slower as the writing became scribbled and harder to decipher. "'But if you don't... play nicely, I'll rip out your,'... charming." He screwed up the letter and shoved it into his pocket then waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. Suvi, the white bird who had delivered him his new chess set, chirped happily before turning and flying away.
Ion looked out over the rainforest again, at the blanket of lights between, beneath and above the trees. With a sigh, he teleported back to Station Nine.
I love you, Senny <3
[color=#666666]This message was edited by Tiger of Wu on Jun 09 2011.
|posts in thread|
Jun 11, 11 at 7:40pm ^re: The Chronicles
In the dungeons of a castle a small girl cried on her bed. Witch, that's what they called her. Why couldn't mommy be here? She would make everything all right. She felt a presence in her room. "Who's there?"
"Don't worry child, I mean you no harm." The voice was spoken as if a whisper seemingly coming from the shadows.
"Wh-wh-what do you want?"
"I want to help you little one."
"Yes, I can take you away from here where none of the bad men can hurt you."
"Really. And all you need to do is give me just one little thing, you won't even miss it."
She shuddered. "My mommy warned me about things like you. You're Evil."
"Evil? You wound me little one. Surely it is the bad men who put you in here that are evil?"
"They are not bad men! They just made a mistake, they'll see I'm not a witch and then they'll let me go."
"Oh you poor, poor child. Can you not feel it inside you? You are a witch."
"That's not true!"
"Why do you think I'm here child?"
"No no no NO!" A white light filled the room and the shadow man was gone. Sobbing into her pillow, the little girl fell asleep.
"Mommy please don't go!"
Her mother sighed, "Honey you know I have to go."
"But whyyyyyyyy." The girl was bouncing up and down as she stretched out the word.
The mother laughed and gently pressed down on her daughters shoulders. "Remember what I told you about evil sweetheart?"
The little girl nodded, "Evil is bad."
"Well I have to make some evil things go away."
"Isn't evil scary?"
Her mother's face became one of seriousness and she bent to her knees so that she could see into the child's eyes. "It's terrifying honey, but you can't let that stop you. It's my job to make sure the bad things go away. Do you understand?"
"Yes mommy." She watched her mother walk out the door leaving her all alone. The world began to grow dark.
"She never came back did she?" It was the shadow man's voice. "It must of been hard being alone for so long."
"Why do you care?"
"I suppose I don't. Still it takes a lot of courage to be by yourself. It would be a lot easier if you just asked for some help."
"I'm not going to give you my soul. That's mine"
"I promise it wouldn't hurt, if you want I'll even let you keep it for a while. I have all the time in the world to wait. Just say 'yes' and you won't even see me again until your an old lady. That's not so bad is it?"
"Are you trying to be nice? I didn't think evil could be nice."
"I can be many things child, and I wish you wouldn't call me evil."
"But you are evil aren't you?"
"Sometimes, but aren't we all?"
"I'm not evil."
"No, I suppose you're not. So what do you say little one, I can save you, just ask for my help."
"No." The little girl woke up mouthing the words.
This game played out between the two for several weeks with the shadow man visiting her cell and constantly raising his offer. Fame, Wealth, Power, Eternal Youth, he offered her everything and every time she would tell him, "No."
The next time the man payed a visit to the girl the situation was more dire. "No, don't do this. I'm not a witch. I'm not!" She tried to struggle as the guards tied her up, but her little arms were nothing compared to a grown mans. The guards dropped their torches underneath her and time stopped.
The shadow man revealed himself in the light. "Child surely you can see that there is no hope for you. I promise you that you will not regret my help, I will make your every dream come true."
Looking upon the man she couldn't help but be enthralled by his eyes, they were magnificent. She could see strength, hope, love, beauty, innocence, and so many other emotions she didn't even know the words for. She could also see fear and sadness and her heart ached to see it in such a pretty place. "I won't give it away."
"Damn you girl! Do you think I will not just rip it from you if you don't give it to me? Ask for my help or I shall steal away everything you are and leave you as nothing but a husk."
The girl looked at him for a long time, tears running down her face before she whispered,
|posts in thread|
Jun 13, 11 at 10:16pm ^re: The Chronicles
Learning to Walk
14th March, 2252
Ion sat at his desk, his head resting idly on his right hand. In his left, he spun a pen between his fingers, but he had no intent to actually write. He wasn’t really even taking in the words on the page he was staring at, eyes only half-focussed.
He was listening.
In a large cage on the opposite side of the room was sat a macaw. Technically it had been a gift from Connor, but neither of them particularly thought of it as that. To Ion, it was recompense for the stunt Connor had pulled a week ago. To Connor... Ion wasn’t certain. The doctor was becoming less and less predictable as time went on. It was mildly irritating, much like the few phrases he’d taught to the bird were quickly becoming. Much like everything Connor did, the only things the bird seemed to know how to say were subtle digs at Ion, in a variety of ways. Ion had spent an entire hour listening to the bird on the first day and, in a fit of momentary masochism, had decided to call it Alastor. It fitted. Alastor had hated him almost as much as most of what the bird said implied, although he’d kept it mostly tempered.
With a heavy sigh, Ion tossed the pen on to the desk and stood up, not bothering to correct it as it fell to the floor with a clatter. That set the macaw off chirping again, this time about rain.
“It is a shame you were a victim of Connor’s poor sense of humour,” Ion decided, walking over to it and opening the cage. He didn’t really need to keep it in there at all, his powers being more than enough to keep a bird under control, but it made Roshea feel better about the flagrant disregard for the rules Ion was displaying by keeping a pet in the first place. With a squawk, the macaw climbed up the bars and sat on the top of the cage, one eye on Ion the entire time.
Ion sat on the end of his bed, considering. He’d attempted to get the bird to say things with his telepathy, but after the initial success it was practically guaranteed to bring, it had never repeated what he told it. If he wanted it to learn some new words, he was going to have to teach it the hard way... the conventional way.
“Alastor,” he began. The macaw didn’t outwardly react. “Alastor.” That is you. Still no reaction. Ion drummed his fingers on his thigh, looking at the bird still. “Alastor,” he repeated.
“Hello,” it replied, a stock parrot phrase if Ion had ever heard one.
“Alastor,” Ion tried for the fourth time, and in response the macaw took flight and landed on his shoulder. Ion sputtered and attempted not to inhale feathers as it settled.
“You’re a cold, unfeeling bastard,” it informed him. Ion rolled his eyes. Connor wasn’t even trying.
16th March, 1014 hours
Station 9, Meeting Room 2
“The IPR are going to give me hell if they find out about that bird,” Roshea complained as Ion walked in, the macaw flying past him to settle on top of a screen with a screech. The captain winced, but Ion just closed the door with a wave of his hand.
“Tell them to take it up with me,” he suggested, sitting down. “They can hardly blame you for failing to control me. They can’t do it themselves.” Roshea grimaced at the wording, looking down at the table weakly.
“It’s not...” he began, before trailing off as he realised how futile it was to protest. “Look, Ion, it’s not that I-”
“Hello,” the bird chimed up, making Roshea jump a couple of inches in his seat, before settling back with an irritated shake of his head.
“At least leave it in your room,” he muttered. “It’s... I don’t even know what it is. I never do, with you.” One corner of Ion’s mouth quirked upwards into a faint smile as Roshea shook his head once more, running a finger absently down the screen in front of him to scroll. “Doesn’t it distract you?” he asked helplessly, looking entirely at a loss. Ion glanced over at the parrot. It tilted its head at him, then began to preen a wing.
“Not as such,” he responded. “Is this entire meeting going to be about the bird?” Roshea sighed, shrugging.
“It wasn’t supposed to be,” he murmured, almost to himself. “Some of the things it says-”
“Do not bother me in the slightest,” Ion finished, cutting him off. “I have put up with Connor for long enough, and he has said far worse to me than he could ever teach the bird.” He smiled faintly. “Words do not have sharp edges if they are just thrown around, Captain. They can only cut when aimed at the weak.” Roshea opened his mouth to respond, then closed it again, at a loss for suitable words. “Besides,” Ion added, watching the macaw idly, “I have stopped letting it bother me. It is the truth, but it is also in the past.” The macaw squawked. Murderer. Manipulator. Madman.
He kept his face entirely level.
“Shall we talk about what I actually came here for?”
Level 22 was busy, bustling with people who were mostly fixated on their work. An area of quiet grew around Ion as he walked through the corridors. People paused in their duties to watch him pass, normal conversations turning to whispers of awe and fear. Ion did not bother to listen.
The volume of noise in the duty room also dropped noticeably as Ion walked in, the woman in charge looking as nervous as all the rest.
“May I borrow Ensign Johnson, please?” he requested, aware of the way several heads turned from him to the embarrassed boy as he said it and also entirely unconcerned.
“Wh-what for, Sir?” the woman responded. It was to her credit that she didn’t just nod immediately and hand him over.
“A brief chat,” Ion informed her pleasantly. “Captain Roshea’s suggestion. You will have him back before the shift changes, I assure you.” The woman swallowed nervously, then nodded, gesturing hurriedly to the boy. He got up and walked over, nearly everyone in the room watching him. He couldn’t meet Ion’s eyes.
“Sir,” he mumbled. Ion frowned and turned to leave without a word. Johnson followed, now rendered entirely mute, and Ion could heard the burst of conversation returning as the door closed behind them.
“Sir, I... I don’t understand,” Johnson asked in a barely audible voice as they walked along the corridor. “Why...?”
“As I said before, the suggestion was Roshea’s,” Ion responded, unhappy with the return of the meek, terrified boy Johnson had been before he had started tutoring him. “Has anything changed? You seem afraid of me again. I would have thought it would be the opposite, after last month.” The boy flinched as though he’d been physically struck, a string of fearful and wary thoughts running through his mind. At least Ion had to try to read it this time, which was progress of a sort. Not enough, though.
“I-I thought that... After what I did, you...” He began, uncertain.
“You did nothing,” Ion snapped, regretting his tone almost instantly as the fleeting confidence the boy had shown disappeared like a shot. He couldn’t blame Johnson for the Shadow under any circumstances. Even he himself had been too weak to get rid of it. “Just because it used your body does not mean it was you. A man told by a telepath to commit murder is not a murderer.” Johnson looked at his feet, saying nothing and thinking far too much. “Are you afraid of me?” Ion asked, before raising an eyebrow as walls built themselves up almost instantly around the boy’s mind. Interesting. He had never shown even an inkling of mental defences before.
“N-no... sir,” he murmured, voice soft. Ion stopped walking; Johnson stumbled to a halt behind him in surprise.
“Then what are you afraid of?” Ion inquired, reaching out a hand to touch his head; he stepped backwards to avoid it. Ion lowered his hand, frowning slightly, although he tempered his expression when he saw the uncertainty on Johnson’s face. “The Shadow is dead,” he added, somewhat pointlessly. A shiver ran through Johnson’s body.
“It always was,” he whispered. Ion’s mouth became a thin line at that, and he cast an eye over Johnson’s Web. It still connected to the Station’s, making it hard to differentiate between where he ended and everything began. There was no visual difference.
“I think we are going to need to talk for a little longer than I anticipated,” he muttered
“Hello,” the macaw chirped as they walked into Ion’s room, making Johnson jump in surprise.
“You... you have a bird?” he remarked, looking partially stunned. The macaw cackled, and Ion waved a hand at it to quieten it down.
“He was... a gift,” he responded, hesitating over the words. “I would advise you don’t listen too carefully to him. Connor taught him to talk.” Johnson looked at it, apparently enthralled.
“Dr. Connor is a good man,” he murmured. The macaw, mixing its sentences, informed them that they had killed a flood. Ion sat at his desk with a sigh, bending to retrieve his pen from the floor as he did so.
“With a surprising capacity for cruelty,” Ion agreed. “Sit down, Peter. Talk to me.” Johnson regarded him warily, remaining on his feet. Once more, the macaw laughed. If he hadn’t known better Ion would have credited it with intelligence.
“You want to...” Johnson started, looking hesitant and uncertain, hugging his arms to his body as if to protect it. Ion shook his head, turning the chair to face him.
“Talk. With words,” he reiterated. “I want to know what makes you so afraid. Getting it out of your head might satisfy my curiosity, but it will not help you. And that is why we are here, is it not? To help you.” Slowly, carefully, Johnson sat on the very edge of the bed. He had a look in his eyes like a terrified animal, ready to bolt. He was shaken up. Ion made an idle hand movement, the web-lights sparking, and as he’d expected Johnson flinched. The macaw... Alastor... clambered out of the cage and flew over to sit on the bed.
“I...” Johnson mumbled, glancing behind him at the bird. “I don’t...” Ion stayed silent, waiting. He had plenty of time, and it would be him that took the flak when Johnson returned to his post late. Alastor hopped across the bed with a squawk. “It still talks to me,” Johnson admitted, his voice barely a whisper. “I can hear it, it whispers to me, in my head... At night. When I’m trying to sleep. Like it did the first time, and I... I can’t... I can’t...” Ion frowned, watching as Johnson’s shoulders shook. He needed comfort, but Ion certainly wasn’t the one who was needed to give it to him.
“Hello. How are you?” the macaw asked, hopping onto Johnson’s leg. He froze for a second, terrified, then suddenly burst out laughing. The macaw took off and settled on Ion’s shoulder, perturbed by the sudden noise, and Ion absently stroked his feathers.
“It is gone,” Ion informed Johnson softly, changing his wording for the boy’s benefit. “What you hear are its echoes.” He paused, considering, as Johnson looked up at him. He didn’t look a huge amount better, but at least he was more at ease. “But echoes can hurt,” Ion continued, sighing even as he said it. It wouldn’t help him. He knew it wouldn’t help him, but he was saying it anyway, and he didn’t really know why. “I have my own. Try not to become like me, hm?” Johnson opened his mouth to respond before closing it again, smiling weakly.
“I-I’ll try my best,” he promised faintly. The macaw’s beak bit into Ion’s ear, in what it probably thought was a playful way.
“Hello, Alastor,” it remarked, and despite everything, Ion smiled.
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