Eclipse Star: Chapter 25
Recap: Last time, after being captured, Jack, Lindsey, Chris and Kyle underwent interrogation by the Regime general, Atlas. Seeing that Jack wasn’t going to talk without some persuasion, Chris was injected with a sample of Project Locust and given a prognosis of only a few minutes to live. Despite this, Jack didn’t have much to tell them and as a result Atlas proceeded to beat them all senseless, ending with Lindsey. Finding this to be all he could take, Chris snapped and in an explosion of light that only Jack was privy to, over half of the Regime’s base was wiped out instantly. Having finished this task, Chris passed out, leaving Jack near speechless.
Jack: (Runs over to Chris and shakes him). Chris? Chris! Wake up! (Runs over to Lindsey and shakes her). Lindsey?! (Runs over to Kyle. He kinda tilts his head and shrugs). Kyle…? (Looks around in desperation. The extent of the complex is engulfed in flames. He’s unsure whether there are any Regime members left around or if they’ve all jumped ship at this point). No point to stick around here anymore guys, I say we exit. (Walks over to Chris and puts his head down on his chest). He’s breathing…but not easily. (Looks him over). I don’t know what you just did and frankly I’d rather not see you do it again. (Hoists him onto his shoulders).
-Meanwhile, in the ridge nearby…
Commander: (Looking through his binoculars, aghast). Did you just see what I just saw?
Subordinate: (Somewhat frightened). I…I don’t think we were just seeing things.
Commander: Have any of those troops I ordered for arrived yet?
Subordinate: Yes, a few along with some helicopters, but I doubt it really matters now that there’s no base to conquer anymore.
Commander: Tell them to take the chopper and set it down in the middle of the wreckage, over there, where the beam came from. (Points to where he saw the light originate from). Someone’s down there.
Subordinate: But sir, is it wise?
Commander: I don’t give a damn if it’s wise anymore; I want to know what happened.
-Back with Jack…
Jack: (Trying to wake Lindsey up while carrying Chris on his back). Wake up Lindz, we need to get a move on.
Kyle: (Groggily sits up and rubs the back of his head). Ooh… Feels like someone wanged my head pretty good back there… (Looks around and notices that utter chaos has befallen the base). Umm…did I miss something crucial here?
Jack: Lindsey, wake up! (Shakes her some more).
Kyle: What happened to our buddies, Jack?
Jack: We’ve suffered through our first interrogation.
Lindsey: (Coughs a bit as she rolls her head back and forth before opening her eyes widely). Ung…Jack! (Sits bolt upright). Jack?! What happened?!
Jack: It’s difficult to say.
Lindsey: (Notices that Jack is carrying Chris). Chris?! What happened to him?!
Jack: He’s suffering from some effects caused by the Locust Virus.
Lindsey: Is he gonna make it?
Jack: I can’t tell. He hasn’t woken up yet after getting knocked out.
Lindsey: Give him here. (Jack lays Chris down in front of Lindsey. She rubs his forehead). Are you alright? Wake up Chris! (Presses her head against his chest to listen for a heartbeat). Wake up dammit! (Pounds him in the stomach).
Chris: Gruuuh…. (Winces heavily, but proves that he is indeed alive and conscious).
Lindsey: (Extremely happy and relieved). Chris! You’re alright!
Chris: Uh…? Sure…
Jack: (Raises an eyebrow, cautious). Chris…you remember anything…?
Chris: Needle…injected me and then…Lindsey got pistol whipped…then…that’s it.
Jack: No light show or explosions or anything?
Chris: Blinding pain…that’s it.
-A helicopter comes out of the sky and lands in the middle of the building that once stood there no more than ten minutes ago.
Commander: (Hops out of the chopper and looks at the scene, very confused). Jack…?
Jack: (Squints to make sure he’s seeing this properly). Commander…?
Commander: (Turns around to the soldiers in the helicopter). Alright everyone, we’ve got some wounded men that need medical attention! I want them on this chopper and heading towards HQ immediately. (Turns back towards Jack and runs to him). Jack, what happened?
Jack: We were interrogated by Atlas, formerly of the Demon Regime.
Commander: And how did you get from there to…(looks around the area)…here?
Jack: Chris has been injected with a sample of the Locust Virus, part of something called Project Locust that they planned to unleash on the city. He needs to be taken to a hospital as soon as humanly possible.
Commander: And that’s why the Regime’s base has been leveled?
Jack: No, the Locust Virus didn’t do this, at least I don’t think it did.
Commander: Then where did the explosion come from?
Jack: (Looks around at Chris, who’s still drifting in and out of passing out and just nearly passing out). I was able to create a diversion. (Turns back towards the Commander). When the opportunity presented itself I was able to make use of some unstable chemicals around the area. I wasn’t sure exactly what would happen but with my team unconscious I felt that drastic measures were called for and my diversion worked better than I could have hoped, resulting in one hell of an explosion and then some.
Commander: Well then, good work Jack. (Pats him on the back, though still more serious than endearing). I’m glad that you could make it out alive. I just wish there was some of those unstable chemicals left to take a look at. If we could get a hold of them, then we could be the ones making the super weapons and whatnot.
Jack: All of it was destroyed sir, I’m sorry.
Commander: No matter. (Points towards the helicopter). I want this thing lifting off within the minute! (Turns back to the four). Ready to go?
Lindsey: Yes, yes, oh God yes!
Kyle: Yeah, she about summed it up.
Chris: (Lindsey and Kyle are helping carry him between the two of them. He is hardly breathing. As they pass by the Commander he looks up briefly as the Commander looks down at him). We were never supposed to make it out of here…
Commander: (Quite shocked to hear such a thing). Wha, what?
Chris: We were supposed to die…weren’t we…? (His head drops as his strength runs out).
Lindsey: I’m sorry Commander; he’s been through a lot.
Commander: You all have. (Watches them get into the helicopter). My God…they’re just kids…
-Elsewhere, hovering above the smoking remains of the base…
Syrus: (His mouth is hanging open in astonishment). How could this happen? (Grows serious once more). Damnit… (Flies off unnoticed).
* * * * *
-A solid two weeks go by. And although one group has suffered a great deal of hardship, another has improved upon themselves in every way…
Hermit: (Excited). Congratulations to you three! You’ve passed the desert hermit’s training school!
Derek: As if you had any doubts? (Crosses his arms and smirks in recognition of his own greatness).
Danny: (Almost surprised). You really mean it? We passed?
Hermit: Of course. Why wouldn’t you? After all, I was the one training you.
Kevin: (Bows). I thank you.
Hermit: Nope, no thanks is necessary guys.
Kevin: (Frantically trying to convey his gratitude by waving his arms around). But you’ve done so much for us, I mean, when we found you we hardly knew anything, and now we can fly! Fly, of all things!
Danny: Yeah, and use real energy combat!
Derek: And we’re a hell of a lot stronger than we would normally have been.
Hermit: All I ask is that you make sure to teach your friends everything I’ve taught you as soon as you see them again.
Kevin: We shall.
Derek: If they can handle it of course.
Hermit: Well, this is the last I’ll see of you guys for a while. Kevin, you’ve got an incredible amount of devotion. You’ll need to spread this notion to your friends.
Kevin: I’ll do my best to make them listen.
Hermit: (Smiles and nods). They’ll listen. (Turns to Danny). Danny, you’ve got an amazing heart in you. It’s certainly bigger than your head! (Laughs). Spread this kindness to your friends.
Danny: (Smiles, somewhat shy). Um…heh, thanks. I’ll do what I can.
Hermit: (Turns to Derek). And Derek.
Derek: (Almost doesn’t’ care). Yep?
Hermit: (Nods). I understand.
Derek: (Confused). Understand what?
Hermit: Let’s just say I understand. You’ve got some unbelievable power, just please, please, (Waggles his hands in a praying pose), use it for the right things at some point or another.
Derek: I’ll make sure to use every bit that you’ve taught me.
Hermit: Good. The city’s due north from here. (Points). No more than a day’s trip at half-speed. You’ve got the gifts I gave you, right?
Derek: (Flips his sai around and puts it back in his belt). Got ‘em.
Kevin: (Pulls the dark amber stone out of his pocket and clutches it tightly). Yes, I shall remember to take good care of this.
Hermit: (Waggles a finger). And don’t forget how to use it.
Derek: (Growing impatient). If we want to get back before nightfall we’ve got to get a move on.
Hermit: Don’t let me keep you three any longer then. Go, go. (Shoos them away). Away with you!
Kevin: (He, Derek and Danny take to the skies and wave back at the Hermit). We’ll come visit when we get the chance!
Hermit: Don’t worry about it! I’ll see you eventually! (Watches the three fly off into the distance). Ah…it’s good to get a chance to teach again. (Strokes his beard as he sits down in his lawn chair). I just hope that Derek can control himself. (Shakes his head). Ug…I better not be underestimating them…
-During this same day, yet another group is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Austin: Hey is that…(Squints off into the distance, putting his hand over his eyes to shield the sunlight). It is! (Grows excited). Hey guys! We made it!
Leena: (Jumps high up into the air with supreme joy). Oh happy day! Hooray!
Willy: Does this mean I don’t have to carry you anymore?
Leena: Nonsense, we’re almost there! (Willy puts her back up on his shoulders). Atta boy. Now onward! (Kicks his sides). Yah!
-Austin, Leena, Willy, Scott and Clinton are all dirty, ragged, but otherwise unscathed as they make their way out of the woods and onto the rolling hills outside Trillium City boundaries.
Scott: (Takes a long drag on his cigarette). Ah, civilization at last. And good timing, too. (Throws his cigarette to the ground and steps on it). I was about out of Luckies. Damnedest thing; couldn’t find a convenience store anywhere in that forest. What’s the world coming to?
Clinton: That only took us, what, (thinks to himself and counts on his fingers), thirteen…fourteen days?
Austin: Depends if you’re counting the days we spent in the desert prior to the separation.
Clinton: Nope. We spent two weeks in a forest and none of us are dead. When we get back to HQ we deserve a celebratory welcome.
Leena: I agree! (Impressed with herself). Ug, we were pretty amazing to make it all this way by ourselves. And without a map or a radio or anything!
Austin: Well, we did have the advantage of the stars and such.
Clinton: Good old North Star.
Leena: Good thing we were just going north you mean?
Austin: That, too. So guys, most missed luxury? What is it?
Leena: Indoor plumbing, by far.
Scott: I’m gonna have to agree with that.
Willy: Chairs. I miss chairs. Chairs for sitting. And sleeping. First chair I come across is going to be sat on so hard…
Clinton: Heat. Real heat, not just general heat from campfires. Super powered heaters blasting thousands of BTU’s. I can’t wait. I might just cover myself in gasoline and light myself on fire.
Willy: Ooh, I forgot cars. They’ve got nice seats…for sitting.
Austin: I’m more anxious to see the others than anything else. Nothing beats the luxury of good friends.
Leena: Pff, that’s lame. And are you implying that we’re just replacement friends until you can get back to that boy-toy of yours?
Austin: No, no. I’m just saying that we haven’t had everyone together to just relax in a long time, so I can only assume that we’ll get a break once we get back.
Scott: And you’re also under the assumption that the others are alive.
-The group becomes solemn and stops walking momentarily.
Willy: Well that’s kinda a downer…
Austin: (Shakes his head and smiles). Nah, the others are fine. I’ve told you guys over and over, they’re fine.
Leena: (Desperately pleading for this to be reassured). How are you sure?
Austin: (Smiles warmly). I just know. Besides, no use worrying about them. Might as well hope for the best. If they really are dead, then we’ll have time to get depressed later. (Continues on, the others are even more depressed and worried and motionless).
Leena: I miss Lindsey. Nothing beats having another female to talk with and complain to and have listen to me complaining…
Scott: We hear you complain all the time.
Leena: …And care about what I’m saying.
Scott: Oh, nope, thought you were talking to us for a second.
Austin: C’mon you four, I bet we can make it into town before nightfall if we run!
Scott: Run? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Austin: Team Austin, away! (Runs off with his arms outstretched).
Clinton: (Keeping even with Austin). Team Austin featuring Clinton.
Willy: (Takes off after the two while still carrying Leena on his shoulders). Ah come on, wait up, I’ve got to carry a whole lot more weight than you guys do!
Leena: (Smacks Willy in the head). Hey!
Scott: (Casually walks behind at his own pace). Home sweet home.
-At the Legion’s HQ…
Lindsey: (Sitting next to Chris at a hospital bed. She looks tired). Jack, it’s been two weeks. No sign of the others. No improvement in Chris.
Jack: (Sitting in the corner of the room, his arms crossed, he’s slumped down, also very tired). We’re not doing much good just sitting around. You’ve got to get out, gets some exercise like I’ve been doing. We need to keep active, practice every chance we get.
Lindsey: We need to recover. We need to rest. (Looks down at Chris). We need to get better…
Jack: Lindsey…(sigh), he’ll be fine, I promise you. The Legion is taking good care of him and I’m sure they’ll find a cure for him any time now.
Lindsey: He’s getting worse Jack, can’t you see that?
Jack: Show some faith.
Lindsey: (Angry). Show some sympathy!
Jack: (Gets up in a huff). That’s it; I’ve got to get some air. I suggest you do the same, otherwise you’ll just make yourself sicker than him. (Walks out of the room).
Kyle: (Walks into the room sipping a juice box). What’d I miss?
-Coming in from the southern airs…
Derek: Hah! Check that out, we made it back even before the sun had a chance to set!
Kevin: It’s amazing! Who would have thought that we’d be capable of this a few weeks ago?
Derek: We were capable, we just hadn’t been shown how to do it properly. If Jack had bothered to train us the right way…
Kevin: He did the best he could with what little time he had and with what little patience we had.
Danny: (Completely oblivious to the conversation, just staring dreamily off into space). Yeah…I can’t wait to see chairs again…
Derek: Regardless of Jack’s incompetence, we’ve excelled beyond our potential and now we’ll be the ones leading the pack, not him.
Kevin: Perhaps. (Sets down on the ground again and starts walking. Derek and Danny follow his lead).
Derek: What are you doing?
Kevin: We really shouldn’t bring so much attention to ourselves. If we go flying around, then we’re likely to cause a disturbance and things could escalate in a bad way.
Derek: Meh, for now you’re right. But once I get home I refuse to keep my feet on the ground for longer than I have to.
-And in the southern part of Trillium City…
Austin: (Throws his arms up in joy). Trillium City, we have returned!
Passer By: (Walks by with his dog). No one cares.
Austin: Hello man with his dog!
Passer By: Go suck a lemon. (Walks off).
Leena: Home…(tears roll down her cheek), oh home, how I’ve missed you!
Austin: (Gesturing to everything). Hello buildings! Hello pavement! Hello yellow fire hydrant that should really be red but who’s keeping track anyway? Hello world! Hello…(Squints his eyes in astonishment of the three he sees ahead of him)…Derek?
Derek: (Equally astonished). Austin?
Danny: Willy! (Breaks into a run towards Willy).
Willy: Danny! (Throws Leena off his back and takes off after Danny, colliding with him in a massive bear hug).
Leena: (Lying on her back after being thrown off). Sky?
Derek: (Not particularly warm and inviting, rather just curious). You guys made it?
Austin: Yeah! You guys, too?!
Derek: Apparently so.
Clinton: We just got back.
Kevin: Us, too. We have so much to share with you!
Scott: I’m sure we’ll have a chance for story time later.
Austin: He’s right, let’s just get back to headquarters. We’ll have time to catch up later.
Derek: Back to headquarters? I don’t think we’ll be needing the Legion anymore.
Austin: (Baffled). What?
Derek: From now on we do things my way. (Clenches his fist and smiles coyly). Forget the Legion.
To Be Continued…
Eclipse Star: Chapter 24
“Cracking Under the Pressure”
Recap: Last time, Jack lead Lindsey, Chris, and Kyle on a desperate rush back through the Demon Regime’s military complex after the alarms had been triggered. Finding themselves way over their heads, they were trapped with nowhere to go and finally taken down by a swarm of the Regime’s soldiers.
Commander: (From his vantage point high up in the ridges near the complex). It is done.
Subordinate: Commander, have they been taken care of?
Commander: As far as I can tell, they separated into three groups. Two of the groups made it out, although I doubt they’ll make it back to the city any time soon. The third group has been captured. You’ll be happy to know that Jack is in the third group, so we won’t be seeing him again.
Subordinate: Should we return to headquarters?
Commander: We don’t have any rush. We know the whereabouts of the Regime’s base; it’s not going anywhere. We’ll leave when our troops get here.
-Night falls. Meanwhile, inside the main building of the complex, Jack, Lindsey, Chris and Kyle are being held by guards as Atlas and a number of other high ranking officers pace back and forth.
Atlas: Are they awake yet?
Soldier: They’re finally coming to sir.
Atlas: Excellent. (Walks over to Jack and taps him on the cheek). Welcome back.
Jack: (Groggily coming to). Uhn, where…?
Atlas: It was impressive how many members it took to take you four down, but rest assured, you have all been thoroughly beaten.
Jack: (Shakes his head and looks around the room. He notices that Lindsey has a black eye, Chris is bleeding from the nose, and Kyle has a gash on his forehead. They are all covered in painful looking bruises). Leave them out of this.
Atlas: (Amused at Jack’s request). What was that? Leave them out of this? You must be joking. They did almost as much damage as you did; I don’t think they’ve got any right to just walk out of here.
Jack: I made them do it, they’re innocent.
Atlas: They’re members of the Legion; they can be held accountable solely for that fact.
Chris: (Chris comes to). Ahh…Jack…
Atlas: Aha, another mighty warrior has awoken. (Walks over to Chris). I suppose you want to be let free?
Chris: (Weakly raises his head). Let her go…
Atlas: Her? (Looks over at Lindsey). You should worry more about yourself.
Chris: Just let her go… I don’t care about myself… (His head droops down again).
Jack: Let the three of them go, please.
Atlas: No I don’t think I’ll be doing that. You see, I have all the bargaining chips. What have you to offer me?
Jack: I have nothing.
Jack: Which puts you in a dangerous position.
Atlas: (Raises an eyebrow, curious). How so?
Jack: I have nothing to lose.
Atlas: (Continues pacing, feeling powerful). Oh you have something to lose alright. Three somethings. You’ve already made it clear that you highly value their lives. You’re not about to make any rash choices.
Jack: (Struggling to keep calm). What is it that you want?
Atlas: (Spins back to face Jack up close). Information.
Jack: Information about what?
Atlas: Any piece of information is useful. (Gets up and starts pacing). Maybe, something about the Legion? Or perhaps the purpose of the mission?
Jack: We don’t know why we were sent here.
Atlas: I think that you do.
Jack: I’m a little surprised that you’ve been elected to lead the interrogation.
Atlas: (Angry). What’s that supposed to mean?
Jack: Interrogation takes wit, intelligence, and a fine knowledge of how to push people’s buttons. (Narrowing his eyes at Atlas, challenging him). I doubt you possess any of those talents.
Atlas: Push people’s buttons, eh? (Walks over to Jack and smacks him hard across the face and laughs). I think you’ll find that I can be quite persuasive if the need presents itself.
Jack: (Shakes his head and spits out blood). Touché.
Lindsey: (She finally wakes up, squints her eyes a few times and shakes her head out). My head… Jack, what’s happened?
Atlas: You have been beaten my dear.
Lindsey: (Looks up and finally sees the room clearly). Ah crap.
Kyle: (Wakes up and looks around). Huh? Oh, so I’m the last one? You guys could have been nice enough to wake me up before the trial started.
Atlas: I am certainly glad that you are all awake now. Maybe we can get down to what I want to know.
Jack: (Angry, retraining his anger as best as possible). We don’t know anything.
Atlas: I’ll repeat my first question: Why were you trespassing on the Demon Regime’s property?
Chris: (Shakes his head). We really don’t know. We were told to come looking for a base hidden somewhere out here and we stumbled upon this complex by luck.
Atlas: Why did the Legion want you to go looking for this base?
Jack: I’m assuming they felt threatened there was a rogue military base hidden in the area surrounding the nation’s capital. There, now you know as much as we do.
Atlas: What did you find out since you’ve been here?
Atlas: (Sneers, annoyed). Quit lying to me. You found out at least something, did you not?
Jack: No, we did not.
Atlas: What do you know about the Eclipse Star?
Chris: (Getting agitated at the mention of the Eclipse Star). Why do you want it so badly?!
Atlas: (Smiles). Oh, I see that I’ve hit a hot word.
Chris: We don’t know anything about it; I just want to know what you plan to use it for.
Atlas: You personally? Or you as a group?
Chris: Both but mainly me.
Atlas: Hmm, well I’m the one asking the questions. What do you know about the Eclipse Star?
Jack: (Finding it harder to restrain himself). Obviously he doesn’t know anything, nor do any of us. We’re all curious as to why that rock is so damned important.
Atlas: (Getting serious and in Jack’s face). That rock is more valuable that you could possibly imagine.
Jack: So, you understand that we’re clueless?
Atlas: (Backs off). Hmm, apparently so. Back to the Legion.
Jack: The Legion has done it’s best to keep us out of the loop. They hate us. I can only imagine that the purpose of this mission was to get rid of us for a while until they can officially transfer us to another branch.
Atlas: Why do you think they hate you so much?
Jack: (Very annoyed). I. Don’t. Know.
Lindsey: I think it has to do with how fast we’ve progressed.
Atlas: (Turning around to listen to Lindsey). What?
Lindsey: You saw yourself how strong we were at the tournament. Well, we couldn’t do anything like that no more than a month ago.
Atlas: Who trained you?
Jack: I trained them.
Atlas: Who trained you?
Jack: I trained me.
Atlas: (Laughs). Hah! That’s ridiculous. You’d had to have learned it from somewhere.
Jack: I’ve overheard techniques from higher-ranking officers in the Legion and did my best to create what I’ve heard them describe.
Atlas: What kind of techniques have they talked about?
Jack: Nothing more that I’m sure you teach your new recruits.
Atlas: What does the Legion plan to do now that they know where this base is?
Jack: Communication was lost with the Legion before we found the base. There’s no way they would know where it is.
Atlas: Then why did they know to send you here?
Jack: They dropped us in the middle of nowhere and only God knows how we found this place instead of dying first.
Atlas: How did the Legion know that there was a base in these ridges at all?
Jack: They never told us.
Atlas: No, there must be a reason.
Jack: There is no reason.
Atlas: (Angry). No excuses! (Punches Jack).
Jack: (Spits blood again). You can beat me for as long as you’d like, but you’re not going to learn anything new.
Atlas: I’ll have to test that theory. (Continues pacing). What more did you find out while you were here?
Jack: What part of nothing don’t you get?
Atlas: Maybe I haven’t been hitting you hard enough.
Jack: Go right ahead.
Atlas: Fine. (Looks towards some men behind him and nods to them. They walk over to the other three). I’m using my leverage over you to make you speak. (Snaps his fingers. The three men punch Chris, Lindsey and Kyle repeatedly).
Jack: (Panicked). Wait wait wait! Leave them out of this, they don’t know anything!
Atlas: (Puts his hand up, the men stop). So what have you learned?
Jack: (Grits his teeth and winces as he speaks). I heard about Project Locust.
Atlas: (Smiles). Aha, that would definitely be something that you could have learned here.
Jack: But all I’ve heard about it is the name; that’s it. I don’t know how it works or what it entails or anything like that and the others know less than I do.
Atlas: You don’t know anything about it? I can show you. (Walks casually over to a table. He picks a large needle up off the table and walks back over). This is a sample of Project Locust.
Jack: (Squints in disbelief). A needle?
Atlas: A virus. Let’s see, you’ll only talk if someone is in danger…(Points around at the other three). Eeny, meany, miny…(points at Chris). Moe. (Walks over to Chris).
Jack: (Worried). What are you doing?
Chris: (Also worried). Yeah, what’re you doing?
Atlas: Where is the Legion’s headquarters located?
Atlas: We know it’s somewhere in Trillium City, but we don’t know exactly where. It would seem a bit overkill to decimate the entire city, so where should we centralize our primary attacks?
Jack: I can’t tell you that.
Atlas: That is the wrong answer.
Jack: (Angry and panicked). Thousands would die if I told you!
Atlas: Fair enough, then just one dies. (Stabs Chris in the chest with the needle and injects the solution into him).
Chris: YAAAAHH! (Screams with the pain from a large needle piercing his skin, closing his eyes and tilting his head back).
Lindsey: (Worried). No!
Jack: (Clenching his teeth, pleading). Stop this now!
Atlas: (Smiling to himself, almost laughing). Too late, the Locust Virus is already in his system. He should be dead in the next few minutes.
Chris: (Slumps over, his body convulsing, his speech deteriorating already). What…what did you do…?
Atlas: A taste of Project Locust. Sorry to say but there is no cure to the virus. Too bad he wasn’t giving me much useful information. (Shrugs uncaringly). Hopefully the rest of you can think of something.
Jack: (Frantic). But we don’t know anything!
Atlas: Well then what does it matter whether we kill you or not?
Kyle: We could be used as a ransom! The Legion is sure to pay big money for our return!
Atlas: Money is not an issue.
Jack: Then let them go!
Kyle: Yeah, let us go!
Atlas: Hmm…seems that you’re not helping much either. (Walks over to Kyle). Unless you can tell me something useful of course.
Kyle: (His eyes frantically shift around as he thinks of anything to say). Project…Eclipse…tournament…Legion…um…no, I’ve got nothing.
Atlas: Too bad. (Snaps his fingers. The guards behind Kyle clock him in the back of the head, knocking him out cold).
Atlas: You should thank me. That one is just unconscious. The Locust Virus costs too much in its current form to kill everyone I’d like. (Looks back over towards Chris). Him however, he doesn’t have much time left. (Chris is completely gone. He is quivering and no longer coherent of what’s going on, eyes rolling around, unable to focus).
Jack: (Freaking out, eyes closed in a panic). Why?! Why why why?!
Atlas: (Fully enjoying this, smiling and getting in Jack’s face once more). I could ask you the same thing. Tell me everything about the Legion. Tell me their secrets. Tell me who leads it. Tell me everything you know.
Jack: I don’t know anything worth telling you!
Atlas: Yes, we’ve established about that much. Here’s the part of interrogations that I find rather fun. (Walks over to the table and picks up a handgun). If you don’t know now, maybe this will entice you to know later. Where is the Legion’s headquarters?
Jack: Trillium City. (Atlas shoots him in the leg). GAHH!!!
Lindsey: (Extremely concerned). Jack!!!
Atlas: (Unamused). Don’t be cute, more specific.
Jack: (Trying to hold it together). Eastern portion of the city. (Atlas shoots him in the other leg). RAARG! That’s as good as I can describe it!!!
Lindsey: Stop it, he’s telling you everything he can!
Atlas: How did the Legion find out that we were here?
Atlas: Surveillance? What kind?
Jack: (Sweating hard, and panting through the pain). They just…kept track of all the activities going on in the area.
Atlas: That’s the best you can think of? (Cocks his gun again).
Jack: They never told us during the mission briefing how they knew you were here!
Atlas: (Raises an eyebrow). Is there a spy working for the Legion? Someone from our camp?
Jack: I have no idea!
Atlas: Hmm…you’re out of legs to shoot. (Turns towards Lindsey and shoots her in the leg. She screams).
Jack: NOOO!!! (Wrenches with all his strength to get free from the guards holding tightly to both his arms). Leave her out of this, I’m begging you!
Atlas: Aha, so you’ll talk?
Jack: The Legion’s base is located ten miles West from Trillium Park!
Atlas: Good to know. And?
Jack: The Legion didn’t know the exact location of the base, they had heard from an inside source that there was one out here and scanned the area from the air dozens of times without finding anything!
Atlas: Well that still doesn’t tell us anything. Where did the others in your group go?
Jack: We split up; I have no idea where they are now.
Atlas: Where would they be going?
Jack: Trying to get back to Trillium City and from there the Legion’s HQ.
Atlas: And when is the Legion going to make a strike on our base?
Jack: As soon as one of us gets a chance to call them. That’s all we know!
Atlas: (Turns towards Lindsey). You’re not lying to me, are you?
Atlas: Because if you are, she’ll die. (Grabs her by the face and shakes her around).
Chris: (Looks up weakly). S…stop…
Jack: I swear to you, I’ve told you every last bit of information that I know.
Atlas: How did the Legion train you all to fight like you did in the tournament so quickly?
Jack: I already told you, I trained everyone.
Atlas: (Beginning to grow rather angry at hearing this). That’s just not possible. (Points towards Lindsey). You! Tell me the truth!
Lindsey: (Lindsey is trying her best to maintain through tears). Jack taught us everything!
Atlas: (Cocks the pistol and points it right at her face). Not good enough!
Jack: Don’t do this!
-Chris pulls his head up, his eyes are completely white. The ground begins shaking slightly. The guards holding him are unsure of what’s going on, growing afraid as they look back and forth between each other.
Atlas: (Furious). Why not?! Tell me where you got this power! You have the Eclipse Star, don’t you?!
Jack: No! We don’t!
-Atlas pistol whips Lindsey in the face with a KRATAK! She slumps over, unconscious.
–The ground is shaking violently now. Chris points his hands backwards and blasts the two guards in the face, leaving them without heads, yelping slightly before they go.
-The ground all around Chris explodes as he begins screaming uncontrollably. A powerful white light begins radiating from all around him.
-He looks upward and the roof blows off as the light tears into the night sky. The building is disintegrating all around them.
Atlas: (Backing up, horrified). What’s going on?! You should be dead by now!
Chris: (Chris is struggling to breath. The entire complex is shaking and the rest of the guards have run off in fear. An alarm has been triggered again). I’ve…had…ENOUGH!!!
Atlas: (Beyond terrified now). No! You should be dead! (Opens fire on Chris. The bullets have no effect. Chris moves slightly forward and instantly he is in front of Atlas). HOW?!
-Chris screams once more and lets loose a blast that incinerates Atlas instantly.
-His blast doesn’t stop there. It keeps going, wiping out half of the Regime’s complex and rocketing out over the desert.
-Jack stares on in awe, being the only person to actually see what’s happening.
-Having accomplished all this, the light around Chris fades as he falls forward onto the ground, his eyes rolled back, completely unconscious.
Jack: (Shocked beyond all reason with his mouth hanging open). Oh my God…
To Be Continued…
Eclipse Star: Chapter 23
“Through the Fire”
Derek: I’m not following you any more!
Jack: Fine, go get yourself killed! (Jack starts running back through the complex).
Derek: See you on the other side! (Takes off in the opposite direction).
Jack: (Grabs Lindsey by the arm and pulls her along). We’ve got to hurry; even if this plan works we’ll only have a few minutes before they realize what’s going on.
Lindsey: (Nods). It’s okay Jack, I trust you.
Chris: (Following closely behind Lindsey, dragging Kyle by the arm). Jack, I don’t think this is such a great plan.
Jack: (Angry). Start destroying everything you can! (Begins blasting everything around him).
Chris: (Also angry). This is just going to give us away!
Jack: No, it’s part of the mission briefing and-
Chris: Forget about the mission briefing! The mission is a failure if we die!
Jack: We’re not going to die! (Blows up an entire building with a single blast. It is apparent that Jack is still the best with energy blasts and can actually be lethal at this point).
Lindsey: (Pleads with them). Chris, just trust us for now! It won’t do any good arguing! (Shoots numerous energy blasts as she runs alongside Jack while he does the same).
Kyle: (Places his hand on Chris’ shoulder). Just do what we need to do to survive this, okay?
Chris: (Nods, serious). Right. (Blasts along with the group as they run).
Distant Soldier Voice: The blasts are coming from over there!
Another Distant Voice: They’re coming from all over! They’ve split up!
Jack: It sounds like the others are doing their share of damage as well.
Chris: We should go back to them. They could need our help.
Jack: No! We’re in no position to help them!
Chris: I have to try!
Lindsey: You can’t help them Chris! Try helping yourself first!
-Chris becomes immediately silent and goes back to his orders of destroying everything in sight.
-The four continue running and shooting with absolutely no talking from anyone.
Distant Solider Voice: C’mon everyone! We’ll cut them off up ahead!
Lindsey: Jack, that sounded really close.
Jack: Cease fire everyone. (Looks around for a place to hide). Over there in the alleyway. (He and Lindsey run into the alleyway).
Chris: (Shakes his head, looking for a better solution). This is just…
Kyle: This is the best we can do right now. C’mon. (Pulls Chris along towards the alleyway. The four hide quietly and wait).
Soldier: (Numerous soldiers, all heavily armed, march their way down the streets). Check everywhere. They have to be around here. Use your detectors to locate them.
New Recruit: (Looks down at his watch). I’m not getting a clear reading from this thing. There are just too many signals coming from all over.
Solider: Give me your watch. (New Recruit hands it to him. He looks down at it). They’re in three groups, each running in different directions.
Jack: (Silently giving orders to the others). Everyone just remain calm. Don’t think about anything exciting or stressful. Don’t even breath right now.
Solider: (Looks back down at the watch). No…just two groups it seems. One disappeared from view.
New Recruit: They rejoined one of the other two groups?
Solider: No, their signal fell off the radar entirely. They’re up to something. The reading last tracked them going that direction. (Points towards the alleyway). You three, go check it out.
New Recruit: (Salutes). Right. Come on men! (They rush into the alleyway).
Jack: (Holds his hand out, keeping them down). Steady…
Chris: Should we attack?
Jack: No, just remain still.
Chris: Right… (Presses himself as close to the building as he can get).
-The three soldiers make their way down the alley, carrying their rifles in position to fire at the slightest thing. They run all the way to the end of it without noticing the four hiding near dumpsters and trashcans. After running out the other side, they look in all directions and two of them run off. The new recruit runs back into the alley.
New Recruit: Sir! They’re not anywhere to be-
-Jack clotheslines him in the face, sending him onto his back.
Chris: (Freaked). Jack! What are you doing?!
New Recruit: (Coughs as he struggles to understand what is going on). It’s…it’s you guys! The ones that everyone is looking for!
Jack: And we’d like to keep it that way. (Kicks the guy in the face, knocking him out).
Chris: What was the point of that?!
Jack: Every solider that isn’t conscious is one more soldier that isn’t chasing us. We’ve got to keep moving now that the crowd has run off in another direction.
–Explosions can still be heard coming from all around the complex.
-Jack puts his arm in the air, charges a blast, and fires it straight into the air where is explodes, showering the buildings in the area with smaller explosions and setting them on fire.
Jack: On your feet; we’re moving again.
Chris: (Becoming frantic and angry again). We’d lost them! What was the point of all that?!
Jack: (Getting in Chris’ face). We’re creating more diversions for everyone else! In the end I’m the one who can get us out of any situation. None of the others could manage to escape if they’re backed into a corner, so we need to give them as much help as possible.
Chris: Then we should just go back and help them!
Jack: That won’t do any good. Now follow me. (The four run out of the alley). Keep blasting upwards! It’s harder for them to pinpoint a location if the blasts are coming from above!
–The group continues blasting into the air, energy balls raining down all around the buildings and anyone unlucky enough to be caught in them.
Chris: (Hears something). Jack! Hold fire for a minute!
Jack: Why? What is it?
Chris: (Shushes him). Just listen. (The group listens intently).
Jack: I don’t hear anything.
Chris: (Nods). Exactly. The others have stopped blasting things.
Jack: Okay, hold fire from now on. (Runs towards a rather large building). Everyone, we’ll hide out in here until things settle down.
Chris: Why this building?
Jack: It’s a good hunch.
Kyle: His hunches have been pretty accurate thus far. (As they rush headlong into the building, they are greeted by a squadron of soldiers getting ready to head out the door). Looks like your hunches are broken.
-The four stand completely still, unsure of their next move. The soldiers are too baffled to do anything since they’re still putting their boots on and loading their rifles.
Jack: (Quietly). Run.
–They book it back out the door. This instantly triggers the soldiers to figure out that they should be going after them. They all get to their feet, regardless of the status of their boots or weapons, and flood out the double doors after the good guys.
Lindsey: Jack, what do we do?
Jack: (Gritting his teeth as he runs). Keep blasting!
Chris: We’re going to run out of steam soon! We’re not conditioned for this!
Kyle: (Panting heavily). Huh, huh, I agree!
Jack: Well I don’t, so push harder! (As they keep running a soldier with a shotgun appears out of nowhere).
Shotgun Soldier: Freeze!
-Jack runs hard at the solider. The soldier tries to fire but Jack is too quick for him, grabbing the gun out from his hands as Jack jumps into him, kicking him in the face.
-The solider stumbles backwards as Jack lands, spins the shotgun around his back, and clocks the solider in the face sending him to the dirt.
Jack: Here! (Tosses Chris the shotgun). This should help with your stamina issues!
Chris: I’m not about to use a shotgun on these guys!
Kyle: (Grabs the shotgun from Chris and aims it backwards). I am. (Fires into the oncoming soldiers).
Chris: How are we going to make it out of here alive Jack?
Jack: (Turns around and slaps Chris in the face). Shut up already!
Lindsey: Chris! Just be quiet and listen to Jack, okay?!
Jack: Keep moving everyone!
–A rocket shoots past them and hits the building in front of them, felling it into their path and cutting them off from running in the direction they were going.
Jack: Damnit! (Turns around to see dozens of soldiers coming for them). Guys, just keep move-
–The building comes down and produces a cloud of smoke that envelops them, making it impossible to see. They start coughing and shielding their faces.
-When the dust clears they are surrounded by a legion of soldiers, all with their weapons aimed at the four.
Jack: (Coughs). Well Chris?
Chris: Well what?
Jack: Aren’t you going to ask how we’re getting out of this one?
Chris: The thought had crossed my mind briefly.
Soldier: (Cocks his weapon). There’s nowhere for you to run now.
Jack: Everyone, huddle close to me…
Soldier: You have no choice but give yourselves up.
Chris: (Hesitant). Jack…
Jack: Just do it!
Soldier: Soldiers, ready to fire. (More sounds of weapons being cocked).
Jack: After this I’ll need you to be in charge of the ideas…
Soldier: What are you deciding?
Jack: (Points upwards in a heroic stance). For the pride of Zanretha! (Stops). Ah man, that sounded really stupid. Hey! Can I have a second to think of something better to yell?
Soldier: Men, open fire!
Jack: Crap! (Weapons fire upon the four. Instantly Jack closes his eyes and throws out his arms, creating a barrier around his team).
Lindsey: (Surprised and impressed). Jack, how long can you keep this up?
Jack: Not long…start thinking of a way out…
-With every bullet that ricochets, Jack’s shield ripples and shimmers. Every passing second the barrier keeps getting smaller and smaller and becomes more and more visible to the naked eye. All the soldiers seem to be firing at once, most not realizing that they are doing no damage to their targets.
Soldier: Men, get in there and finish them off!
-Several soldiers rush at the four, throwing their guns down and pulling out knives.
-The first jumps at the group, getting knocked square out from the force of running straight into Jack’s force field.
-The others hold their position briefly.
-The shield begins blinking and disappearing.
Jack: This is all I’ve got left guys. Brace yourselves!
-Jack pulls his arms in close and shoots them out again, launching the barrier outward and knocking everyone in the area to the ground, Chris, Lindsey and Kyle included.
-Having finished this, Jack falls to his knees, exhausted.
Jack: Okay guys, your turn.
Chris: (Quickly gets up and looks around, deathly scared and unsure what to do). But…I’m not…
Lindsey: (Gets up and looks around, her fist clenched, determined). We’ve got to stand our ground. Believe in your abilities or else you’ll get killed.
Kyle: (Gets to his feet, still shakily though. He’s more confused than anything). You know, it would have been useful to learn some fancy crap like that instead of the exploding hoo-ha that we’ve got.
Lindsey: You ready?
Chris: (Looks over at Lindsey, remembering why he’s crazy about her in the first place. He smiles and clenches his fists). Let’s do this.
Kyle: (Feels around for his pockets). Wait, where the hell did my shotgun go?
-The group of soldiers are finally getting up and clearing their heads.
-They look at the three standing firm and a few start rushing them, then more and more.
-One dives at Chris, he side-steps out of the way and knees the guy in the gut as he falls next to him.
-Another takes a swing at Lindsey, only to get his hand broken and an elbow to the face.
Kyle: (Drops to the ground and starts feeling around). Shotgun, shotgun…where is it?
-A soldier slashes at Chris’ throat with his knife.
-Chris swiftly dodges the attack, knocks his hand back, and punches him in the face, sending him backwards into another soldier.
-Lindsey head butts one soldier, grabs him by his jacket, and flips him over her back and into yet more soldiers.
Kyle: Aha! (Finally finds the shotgun and hoists it up. Does his best Scarface voice). Say hello to my little friend. (Clicks the trigger and nothing happens. He hangs his head in shame). Empty. Figures. Oh well. (Uppercuts a soldier in the jaw as he rises to his feet).
-The three, although doing their best, are still getting swamped by shear numbers. It seems that the entire complex has now found them out and is coming down on them.
Chris: (While being strangled by an attacker). Ack! Persistent, aren’t they? (Pulls the guy’s arms off his throat and head butts him).
Kyle: (Struggling against some attackers). We could really use your help about now Jack, you know, if it’s not too much trouble. (Punches someone in the gut, then rams his shoulder into their face as they bend over).
Jack: (Still on his hands and knees, panting). I’m wiped out guys; I can hardly keep myself conscious right now…
-Jack keeps nearly passing out and falling face first into the dust.
-A soldier pushes his way through to the front. He is much larger than the rest and is wearing a fancier uniform.
Atlas: (Points at Jack). You! You are the one who defeated me in the tournament!
Jack: (Squints and thinks for a moment). Atlas, was it?
Atlas: So, you remember my name? As well you should. Unfortunate that I should be removing your head, so the memory shouldn’t be doing you much good. (Stomps over towards Jack, picking him up by the top of the head. Jack cringes).
Lindsey: (Looks over in panic). Jack! (One of her opponents sees this as the perfect time to grab hold of her from behind while another attacker comes in from the front and decks her hard).
Chris: Lindz! (Blasts the guy in the back of the head, knocking him forward into her breasts).
Lindsey: This isn’t helping much!
-Lindsey draws her foot back, directly into the crotch of the guy behind her. He yelps and falls backwards, grabbing himself.
-Her arms free again, Lindsey grabs the guy that had fallen into her and breaks his nose, then throws him to the ground.
Atlas: (Laughing as he begins strangling Jack with one hand). I have to admit, I’m enjoying this.
Jack: (Holding on to the gorilla-sized paws of the man strangling him). I’m sorry to have to ruin your fun again then.
-Jack chops Atlas in the throat. His grip is instantly released and Jack falls onto the ground with a thud, rubbing his own throat and gasping for air.
-Atlas’ eyes bulge and he starts choking on his own words and he stumbles backwards.
Lindsey: (Runs over to Jack). Are you alright?
Jack: (Rubbing his throat and coughing). Kah, I’ll be fine.
Chris: You ready to fight again?
Jack: No, but I don’t really have a choice there.
-The four all square off with their backs to one another. They haven’t even made a dent in the numbers surrounding them.
-Action is erupting all around them, with some soldiers trying to fire random shots into the fray, only to hit their own kind with them. Still others are trying to push to get to the front, only to get a fist in the teeth or a foot in the stomach.
Chris: (Grabs the helmet off of one soldier and smashes him in the head with it, creating sweet irony. He turns to punch another in the gut, and then chops him in the nose. He looks down at his knuckles, which are bleeding pretty badly now). These guys may not be well trained but they’re well armored.
Jack: (Pulls back and lets fly a serious haymaker. He looks down to see his knuckles bleeding, too). I agree; they’ve definitely got us outclassed when it comes to protection.
Kyle: (Breathing hard and rubbing his also bleeding knuckles). I hate to sound like a whiney bitch but we’re not doing much good.
Jack: Just fight as hard as you can for a long as you can!
Kyle: I don’t think that’s going to be much longer. (Sure enough, Kyle turns to be dealt a powerful boot to the face, courtesy of Atlas. Kyle finally goes down and stays down).
Atlas: So, you can be beaten, it’s just a matter of how hard you have to be hit when you’re not looking!
Jack: That was dishonorable!
Atlas: You’re on our soil; we decide where the honor is!
Jack: (Dives at Atlas headfirst, the two go rolling to the ground). I’m still the better fighter!
Atlas: Yes, but you’re tired! (Kicks him off with both feet. Jack goes sprawling off in the distance).
Chris: Jack, we need you over here! (Turns to get pelted in the face by one punch, then two, then three, all coming from different directions. After getting knocked senseless, he is piled on by wave after wave of Balobynian soldiers, all showering him with a lack of mercy).
Lindsey: Chris! (Runs over to help him. She pulls one attacker off, swivels him around and breaks his nose. As she reaches down to do the same to another, she is grabbed from behind by Atlas). It’s you!
Atlas: Yes, as a matter of fact it is me! (Grabs her by the upper arms and hoists her into the air and into his head, knocking her out. He throws her into the fray for the others to continue the assault).
Jack: (Jumps at Atlas). Lindsey! (Atlas turns and backhands Jack, knocking him to the group where he is instantly covered by soldiers willing to pummel him).
Atlas: Take them to the main building. Syrus will be pleased with us! (A cheer goes up from the crowd).
Commander: (From some distance off in the ridges, looking through binoculars. He can see the Regime’s entire complex and all of the destruction that has been caused in three lines going off in different directions; one towards the desert, one towards the forest, and one that stops somewhere in the middle. He puts his binoculars down and turns to his associate). It is done.
To Be Continued…
Eclipse Star: Chapter 22
“Mission Officially Ruined”
Recap: When we last left off, Austin was taking his group of Clinton, Scott, Willy and Leena through a deeply forested area west of the Regime’s complex and away from the soldiers following them as best he could. Unfortunately for them, Syrus had decided to follow their group as well, so after hours of straight out running and dodging, they found that they had all but escaped when Syrus appeared directly in front of them and decided that the day was over. Before he was able to attack them, a beaming light rocketed into the sky and forced him to retreat back to the base to see what it was. Austin led his team deeper in the forest as fast as he could, not missing the opportunity to continue living.
-The next day, the group has finally let its guard down and decides that Syrus has indeed left them alone for the time being. Still, they trudge deeper and deeper into the wilderness, tired and hungry, but at least they’re not overheated.
Leena: (Exhausted and miserable looking, scuffling her feet as if she could fall over at any moment). Wondered what happened to the others…
Scott: (Walking with his arms behind his head, a cigarette in his mouth). We know you’ve been wondering that; that’s all you say anymore. (Mocking her right-out). “Gee, wonder if the others are dead by now?” “Golly, maybe they’re alright?” “Do ya think they’re thinking of us?” (Serious again). Let me end this now: Yeah, they’ve been separated from us, yes they’re running for their lives, yes they’ve probably seen better days, and yes they wonder where the hell the others are.
Leena: (Annoyed but defeated). You don’t have to be a jerk about it; I’m only making conversation.
Scott: (Coldly to himself). You don’t have to be an annoying bitch but you seem to do that pretty well.
Austin: (Snaps at Scott). Scott! Shut up already, you’re not helping. (Turns to Leena to console her). Leena, for the last time, the others will be fine and it doesn’t do us any good to keep asking ourselves what happened to them.
Clinton: (Contemplating everything). What I’d really like to know- not so say that I don’t care about the others- but what was that crazy white light last night?
Leena: (Very bothered). So he’s allowed to ask inane questions but I’m not allowed to act like I care about our friends?
Austin: (Shrugs). I’ve got no clue what the heck that light was. I’m not a scientist, I’m not a meteorologist, I’m not a military expert. (Smiles). I’m baffled and I like it that way.
Leena: (High and mighty). I think it a miracle.
Austin: (Nods and points to agree with her). I can agree with that. It did save out lives, assuming that Syrus really did intend on killing us.
Scott: He had the crazy look in his eyes that a guy gets when he’s about to ice a group of teenagers. He woulda killed us all and walked away feeling just dandy. (Estimates with his fingers). We were literally inches away from death.
Leena: (Annoyed at Scott once more). There’s a happy thought…
Austin: You know, it really is. (Happy). We’ve got a second chance at life!
Willy: (Corrects him). Third chance actually.
Scott: (Throws down his current cigarette and takes out another one, lighting it up and taking a puff). Technically still only a second chance for me.
Leena: (Gives Scott a dirty look). We just got a new lease on life and you’re still intent on smoking?
Scott: (Waves her off). Don’t try to change me baby.
Leena: (Narrows her eyes). Don’t call me baby.
Scott: Don’t bother me when I’m in flavor country. (Takes a long drag on his cig and puffs smoke blissfully into the air). The simple things in life…
Willy: (Points ahead of them). Hey, what’s that up ahead?
-Up ahead is an odd looking statue of a hooded figure just staring intently at the ground.
Clinton: I’d say it’s some ancient statue of some sort.
Leena: What’s it doing in the middle of a forest?
Austin: (Claps, really excited). Oohoo, more mysteries!
Scott: (Thumbs towards Austin). At least you’re in a better mood today.
Willy: (Walks up to the statue and looks up at the face while running his hand over part of it). It is kinda cool looking.
Scott: (Points near the base). Check it out, something’s written down there. (Crouches down). What’s it say?
Willy: (Kneels down and rubs off some dirt and moss from it). It’s written in a language I don’t understand.
Scott: Out of curiosity, how many languages do you know?
Willy: Well… (Counts on his fingers). Okay, English gets me through the day just fine. (Gives Scott an annoyed look). I totally didn’t plan on having to read some other language in the middle of a forest next to a desert.
Scott: (Puff). Touché.
Clinton: (Walks up to the inscription). I can’t make out any of this. It’s not Latin; it doesn’t look like anything to me. Just a bunch of random symbols and such.
Leena: (Standing with her arms crossed). Too bad Jack isn’t here. I bet he’d have some sort of idea as to what it says.
Scott: You mean he’d guess?
Leena: Yeah probably, but he’d look good doing it.
Scott: (Puff, sitting back, relaxing a bit). What is it that you girls see in him anyway?
Leena: He’s got passion, that’s what. It’s more than the rest of you can say, except for maybe a select few.
Willy: Who’re the select few?
Leena: Well, Austin for one fits in that group.
Austin: I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve got passion as much as I like seeing new things.
Leena: (Shrugs). Girls like spontaneity and new things.
Clinton: Who else?
Leena: (Smiles). Kevin’s pretty cute.
Scott: What? (Throws down his cigarette). How’d that pansy Jesus freak get lumped in?
Leena: (Angry at Scott). He’s got convictions and believes strongly in them. Girls like guys who have reasons for doing things.
Scott: I’ve got plenty of reasons for stuff I do.
Willy: Any one else? Like me?
Leena: Willy, sorry to say, you’re just cute in general, but not datable.
Willy: (Almost hurt, getting excited). What?! Why not?!
Leena: (Rolls her eyes upwards as she thinks for a moment). Well, at least you’re not my type anyway. I can’t speak for Lindsey.
Willy: Oh so she’s into me?
Leena: (Shakes her head). Nope, she’s not into anyone.
Austin: (Jumps up and points at Leena). Lies! She’s totally into Chris!
Leena: (Laughs and scoffs). Hah! Yeah right! As if. Pff, if she likes anyone it’s Jack. (Smiles and tilts her head, looking upwards again). Heck I’ve even got a bit of a schoolyard crush on him.
Austin: (Waves in disbelief, still smiling). Oh whatever. Her and Chris will totally hook up by the end of this year, I guarantee it.
Leena: Maybe if Chris can grow a spine. As of now he’s just a pushover. I don’t know why you all seem to like the guy.
Austin: (Defensive). Hey, he’s my best friend, alright?
Willy: (Also defensive). And one of my closest friends.
Clinton: (Raises an eyebrow to Leena). What have you got against him?
Leena: (Backs off). Whoa, geez, I didn’t know you guys all had man-crushes on him.
Scott: (Shrugs). He’s an attractive and likeable man, what can we say?
Leena: (Thinks to herself). Eh…nope not seeing it.
Austin: C’mon, the guy’s a complete sweetheart; don’t girls love guys like that?
Leena: (Becomes matter-of-factly). Not if that’s all they’ve got. Any guy can be sweet. A girl wants a guy who can take care for her as well, show her what a man really is.
Willy: That is totally me. Put me on the list, I demand to be on the list.
Leena: (Sighs, annoyed at everything). Fine, we’ll put you on the irrelevant list that doesn’t exist. In fact, you can be at the top of this imaginary list.
Willy: (Smiles and nods). Okay, good.
-Leena rolls her eyes and the five keep walking on. They start passing more statues nearly identical to the first one. Soon they find themselves staring at an impressive stone palace in the middle of the forest.
Clinton: Where the heck did this come from? It looks like it practically just sprouted up from the ground.
Austin: From the looks of it it’s been here for ages.
–The ruins are completely overgrown with plant life and practically falling apart with rubble strewn all over the place.
Scott: (Can’t figure anything out). Why build anything here? What possible reason can anyone think of?
Willy: It’s quiet?
Scott: Okay, you’ve got me there.
Austin: (Super excited). I love this! The mystery just keeps getting better! (Breaks into a run towards the ruins). What should we call this place?
Leena: (Shrugs). The forest temple?
Leena: You have a better name, pretty boy?
Willy: (Thinks hard to himself for a second). “Silva Templum.”
Leena: Okay, what does that mean?
Clinton: That would be Latin for “Woods Temple,” kinda.
Leena: How the heck would he know that?
Willy: Oh hell, I just guessed. Heh, that was pretty good then.
Austin: (Runs inside). C’mon guys!
Leena: (Nervous). Is that even safe?
Scott: Lighten up and have some passion for it.
Leena: (Not amused). Oh ha ha.
-The group walks into the ruins. It’s fairly dark inside, even more so than you’d think possible since the clearing is extremely bright.
-Scott grabs a torch from a wall mount and lights it with his current cigarette. They walk deeper into the ruins.
Austin: (Points at the wall). Oh wow, guys, check this out!
Clinton: Hmm, more of the strange writing.
–There is a whole wall full of writing, pictures, symbols, and more crazy crap that does little more than bring more questions to everyone’s minds.
Austin: (Walks over to one picture in particular). Hey, does this look familiar to anyone else?
Clinton: (Walks up really close to it and squints to get a better look at it). A little. It looks kinda like…I don’t know.
Austin: Doesn’t it look like the Eclipse Star?
-This prompts the others to come in closer and take a look at it.
Willy: (Nods). Yeah, I can kinda see that.
Leena: (Unimpressed). Just looks like someone drew a star.
Austin: But they filled the carving with black paint or charcoal or something so it looks all dark. (Conclusion reached he points intelligently). An interesting coincidence I’d say.
Leena: (Hugs herself and shivers slightly). Whatever, this place just freaks me the heck out and I want to leave.
Austin: Let’s check some more rooms! (Starts walking off into another room deeper in the ruins. Scott casually follows with the torch and Clinton and Willy walk right behind Austin).
-Leena looks in closely at the star drawing. As the light is leaving the room it shimmers eerily. Leena shudders and runs to catch up with the group.
Austin: This room is huge! (His voice echoes a bit). Huge I say!
Huge I say~
Huge I say~
Austin: What’s this over here? Scott, hand me the torch.
Scott: Knock yourself out. (Throws the torch at Austin who catches it and brings it close to what looks like a wick).
Leena: (Nervous). Hey, watch out, you have no idea what that’s to!
What that’s to~
What that’s to~
Austin: Well let’s find out!
-Austin lights it and the thing sparks as a light travels all along the wick and takes off up the tall walls and ignites a few large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
-The room is now completely lit up in magnificent light.
Leena: (Lets out a sigh of relief). Well at least we can see now.
-The room is massive with a tall ceiling and walls completely covered with more hieroglyphics, paintings, symbols, and more mystery than the group knows what to do with. It’s scattered with stone furniture all around and one small pedestal that seems out of place sitting off towards the corner all by itself.
Austin: (Walks up to the pedestal). And what have we here?
Leena: (Standing back, afraid to take any more steps into the room than needed. She reaches out and points nervously). Don’t mess with stuff; we don’t know what it is and it’s best not to disturb this place any more than we already have, so let’s go.
Austin: Check out these gems here. (Picks up a small, shiny red rock). There are four over here. (Turns around, holding up his and smiling). Who wants one?
Willy: Hey, a green one. (Picks up a green stone from the pedestal and pockets it).
Clinton: (Picks up a bright yellow one and inspects it). These could be worth a fortune.
Leena: (Wanders cautiously over to the pedestal and looks down). We really shouldn’t be taking these. (Something catches her eye). Although that dark blue one is pretty cool… (Slowly picks it up and looks at it admiringly).
Whoever dares steal my treasure shall meet their end!
Meet their end~
Meet their end~
Leena: (Flips out and frantically throws the blue gem back at the pedestal and huddles near the ground covering her head). OH MY GOD I’M SORRY I’M SORRY!!!
Scott: Wahahahaha!!! (Holding his sides laughing).
Leena: (Realizes that Scott was screwing with her and screams at him, furious). You BASTARD! I’m going to MURDER YOU!
Scott: (Wiping tears from his eyes from laughter). Oh loosen up a bit Lee, that was funny and you know it. (Leena flips out and pummels Scott relentlessly. The others are all laughing at this and clutching their stomachs).
Austin: Who’s up for more exploration? (The torches slowly burn out). Ahhhh. Oh well, maybe another time. Let’s go everyone.
Leena: (Nodding emphatically). Yes yes yes!
-The group all starts leaving with Leena staying close to Austin who’s got the torch.
Austin: Oh hey, you dropped this. (Hands the blue gem back to Leena).
Leena: (Grabs it and the torch out of Austin’s hands). Why did I have to get stuck with a bunch of men? (Storms off).
Leena: (Upon walking out of the ruins spreads her arms out and hugs the sunshine). Sweet glorious natural light!
Clinton: Well Austin, where to now?
Austin: Where’s home?
Clinton: (Points North). That way a few hundred miles, give or take.
Austin: (Smiles). Well then we’d better get a move on, wouldn’t you say?
Leena: I’m starving. Could we maybe scrounge a bit for some food?
Austin: Sure. (Starts walking towards some trees, knocks on the trunk of one, then walks on towards a rock and kicks it over). Hey, found some!
Leena: (Skeptical). Some food? Under a rock?
Scott: What’re we having? (Bends down next to Austin).
Clinton: (Shrugs and sits down as well). Could be worse.
Leena: Ug, can’t we just go find some berries or something?
Austin: (Already eating bugs). Be my guest.
Leena: (Looks around for a while until she comes across a bush full of red berries). Alright! Found some!
Austin: (In between mouthfuls of bugs). Those are poisonous.
Leena: Says the boy eating insects. (Grabs a handful and the group walks on).
-A set of eyes gleam from the unnatural darkness of the temple as they walk away, the eyes vibrating with laugher.
* * * * *
-By that night as the group walks on Austin is carrying Leena over his shoulder. She is periodically vomiting as they g).
Austin: So, how were the berries?
Leena: Screw you and your passion; you’re off the list. (Vomits again. The group laughs). I hate you ALL!
To Be Continued…
Eclipse Star: Chapter 21
“Into the Forest”
Lindsey: Jack, what’s going on?
Jack: No time, everyone just run! (The entire complex is ablaze with noise. Sirens are blaring, alarms are flashing, and soldiers are rushing around). C’mon, follow me!
Derek: No! We got into this by following you!
Jack: Trust me on this one!
Derek: That way leads back through the complex!
Jack: They won’t expect us to do that!
Austin: We don’t have time to be arguing!
Derek: I’m not following you any more!
Jack: Fine, go get yourself killed! (Jack starts running back through the complex).
Derek: See you on the other side! (Takes off in the opposite direction).
Austin: (Looks at Jack running off, then back to Derek running off). Idiots… (Shakes his head and turns to run his own direction. Scott, Willy, Leena, and Clinton follow close behind).
Willy: (Looking all over). Where’s Danny?!
Austin: If he’s not here with us then I don’t know.
Leena: (Smiling to herself). Those two are always following each other, eh Lindz? (Turns around to looks for her response, only to see that Leena’s bringing up the rear alone). Lindz? Lindsey?! (She begins to panic). Austin, we’ve got to go back!
Scott: (Cold). We’re not going back that way unless we want to die quicker.
Leena: But my best friend is lost!
Willy: And mine!
Austin: And mine, but they know how to take care of themselves, so let them be and worry about yourselves right now! (The group is taken aback by how serious Austin has gotten all of a sudden). Now shut up dammit and run like hell!
-They all shut up and run harder. Guards and soldiers and whatnot have started catching up in their pursuit of the five.
Scott: (Thumbs behind him). Hey chief, we’ve got company catching up.
Austin: (Looks around and quickly leads the group down a narrow alleyway between a few taller buildings). Scott, blow these things to hell!
Scott: Done. (Turns around and blasts the bases of the two buildings, causing the two of them to sway and crumble into each other, providing some cover for the small group). Badda-bing, etcetera.
Clinton: Where to now?
Austin: You looked at the mission briefing more than I did, don’t you have some ideas?
Clinton: (Panting while he thinks). If we head north we hit a desert. But if we run westward, then we’ll have a dense forest for some cover.
Austin: (Nods). West it is. (Looks at the sun as the groups runs). Which way’s west?
Clinton: (Looks up and quickly points west). That way.
Austin: Then let’s go!
–Everyone follows Austin’s lead once more as he takes them around the back corners of the complex. They circle around and continuously double-back, firing energy blasts straight up into the air, allowing them to fall wherever they may and creating a fair deal of confusion. After a while, most of the soldiers have become too confused to keep proper pursuit.
Willy: Have we circled enough yet?
Austin: Probably. Have we lost ‘em?
Scott: Negative. We exit here. (Throws an energy ball past the others at the cement wall in front of them, blasting it open and revealing a forest not too far in the distance).
Austin: Keep each other in your sights but spread out and keep your distance. We’re harder targets to hit if we’re not clustered.
Scott: And here’s where the fun part begins…
-The soldiers have now realized where the five are going and have regrouped to follow into the woods. The group makes it past the first few trees, sparsely spread, then the trees get thicker and thicker and soon the sunlight has been dulled down to almost nothing.
Leena: (Yells off towards Clinton). How many of those guys are following us?!
Clinton: (Looks back and counts quickly). At least three dozen, maybe four! (Gunfire starts).
Leena: (Covering her head as she runs). AHH!! They’ve got guns!
Austin: Of course they’ve got guns! What did you think soldiers would have?!
Leena: (Frantic). Maybe tazers and nets or something, but not guns!
Scott: What the hell kind of army do you think we’re fighting?! The boy scouts?! The Mounties?! Who the hell would use a net in this day and age?!!!
Austin: Shut up, you’re not helping!! (Bullets whiz by and bark explodes off a tree trunk directly in front of him). Dammit! (Ducks and covers as the rest of the trunk is torn up).
Clinton: We’ve got to fight these guys!
Leena: No, we’ve got to run!
Austin: Leena, Willy, run! Scott, Clinton, follow me!
–Austin scrambles to his feet as gunfire still erupts all around his shoes. Leaves are fluttering around him as he leads Scott and Clinton to a clearing of massive trees. He thrusts both his arms out and points to two of the largest trees, to which Clinton and Scott rush over to them.
Austin: Cut ‘em!
-Austin runs ahead as Clinton and Scott hack down their trees, falling in a cross formation into the clearing. As they begin falling, Scott and Clinton rush past Austin while he starts firing a few beams at the trees. They quickly ignite and the flaming logs crash down, blocking off the Regime’s soldiers.
Leena: (Her and Willy run out from hiding and over to Austin and the others). Sweet! We’re home free!
-A huge wind hits them and knocks them off their feet. The flames are slowly being extinguished by the powerful gust.
Deep voice: It’s nothing more than a damned tree! Blow it out of the way!
Austin: (Petrified). Shit, I know that voice…
–Catching Austin’s message, the five all rush to get up and tear out as fast as they can possibly go. The forest is hit by another gust, the flames now out, although the five aren’t about to look back to see who extinguished them. They keep running again, frantic and now deeply afraid for their lives.
Soldier: Sir, do we continue after them? (The soldier is instantly blown away, nothing left but charred remains where he stood).
Syrus: (Walks out into clear view, commanding and serious). Does anyone else have a stupid question?! (They also tear out running, equally afraid for their lives).
Leena: (Breaks into tears now). He’s going to kill us! There’s nothing to stop him from doing it this time!
Austin: Don’t think like that and it won’t happen!
Leena: But it will, it will! (A tree is incinerated right next to her. She breaks down and starts crying uncontrollably, stopping in place and huddling close to the ground).
Austin: Dammit Leena… (Quickly turns around and picks her up, slings her over his shoulder, and keeps running). Scott, carry her!
Scott: (Still incredibly cold). She’s got legs; remind her how to use ‘em.
Willy: (Runs over and offers his hands). I’ll take her.
Austin: Thanks, Willy.
–Willy grabs her as they continue running as Austin stops and begins firing madly at the ground and the bushes and the foliage and anything he can think of shooting at, blasting the hell out of the area and creating a decent diversion that from the sounds of things confuses their followers. Except for one.
Syrus: Keep moving! (Austin looks through the mess that he’s created and sees Syrus forcing his troops on, picking them up off the ground and pushing them forward, then he tears off after the rest of his gang).
Scott: What’s the plan?
Austin: Why am I the one who has to have a plan?
Scott: We started following you, that’s why.
Austin: (A look of extreme worry hits him as he desperately thinks of something to do to get them out of that situation alive). We need to…we need to… (Looks up towards the treetops). Treetops! Head up!
-Austin thumbs upwards to the others. They hardly get the message but start hopping up branches and begin swinging their way through the forest.
-Syrus’ group continues to follow on foot, although a few of them are having trouble keeping up and either fall over or run smack-dab into a tree while trying to follow their prey.
-Syrus, however, hops easily up into the trees and follows just as would be expected of him.
Austin: (Half rolls his eyes, scoffing at the situation). Well if I knew he could do that I wouldn’t have brought us up here…
–Syrus hurls a blast that takes the branch right out from under Austin. With the sudden loss of footing, Austin tumbles back down to Earth with a thud.
Clinton: Austin’s down! You guys keep going!
-Clinton turns around and starts running back towards Syrus as the other three hop down from the trees and continue on the ground.
-Clinton thrusts his arm out and performs the same rapid blast that he performed no more than a few days ago.
-Syrus narrowly manages to dodge out of the way, but the few soldiers that attempted to take Syrus’ lead in the trees get hit and fall out of the trees and onto their backs.
-At this point Austin has gotten back up and is running on again. Clinton hops from the trees and catches up with Austin.
Austin: (Smiling). Not a bad tactic.
Clinton: (Serious). We both got lucky.
Austin: (Serious again). We’re trained better than these guys.
Clinton: Much better. Syrus is the only one we have to worry about.
Austin: (Looks around). Then we need more cover. (He leads the others into a much thicker area. The tree trunks are getting closer and closer together and creating a very difficult path to manage along with all the other bushes and plant life).
Willy: (Really breathing hard as he carries Leena). Huh…huh…I don’t think I’ll be able…huh…to outrun them in here.
Leena: (She’s somewhat regained her composure). You could if you don’t have to carry me anymore.
Willy: Oh, awesome. (Willy basically drops her as she rolls to her feet coughing).
Leena: Kah…well I’m glad to know I’m loved…
Austin: (Hopping over logs and ducking surprisingly nimbly under branches). We’ve got to pick up the pace! Do some weaving and zig-zag and crap like that. Anything to try and lose these guys!
Scott: Sure, weave. I can hardly fit between half of these trees and I’m supposed to weave.
-Scott decimates a good portion of the trees he’s trying to get through by just blowing them up. Luckily this works in their favor by adding more distractions and abnormal obstacles for the soldiers.
-Periodically, Austin pulls back some of the larger branches and let’s them fly, thwacking a pursuer each time.
-The Regime’s soldiers are indeed having an increasingly difficult time managing the thicker forest.
-After hours of pure running, the group chasing the five has been whittled down to only Syrus.
Leena: (Nearly out of breath). Hah…have they left us alone yet?
Clinton: (Surprisingly not too winded). Syrus is the only one still following us.
Leena: (Dry). Oh good, that makes it better.
Syrus: (Finally speaks up after letting them run on for hours on end). You’re all probably tired by now, aren’t you? The rest of my group is either unconscious or dead, but you should probably know, at this point I’m merely playing with you.
Austin: (Yelling back with cupped hands). That’s not helping!
Syrus: No I doubt not, but you know what comes next.
Leena: (Claps her hands together in a praying fashion and looks up towards the sky). Oh thank God, you’re going to give us the chance to give up already.
Syrus: Yes, technically, but this time I’m killing you afterwards..
Leena: (Freaks). What?! What happened to the nice Syrus we’ve all come to know and love?!
Austin: Leena, shut up and keep running.
Syrus: Here’s the ultimatum that you’re waiting for: Either stop running now and let me end this quicker, or I’ll have to make it harder on each of you and it’ll wait time. So please, just let me get this done with.
-Night has completely fallen. The group can hardly see anymore but have begun running in a less densely forested area near a river.
Austin: (Speaking quieter to his group). You guys, run on ahead, I’m going to try and distract him for a while.
Leena: (Worried). But if he catches you…
Austin: If he catches any of us we die. Now go.
-The other four run on ahead while Austin slows down a little and fires an energy blast right at Syrus.
Austin: (Sticks out his tongue and gives Syrus the finger). I bet you don’t have the balls to kill any of us! You’re just stalling for time before you let us go or something!
Syrus: (Almost confused). What are you going on about? I have to kill you all at this point; you’ve used up your second chances already.
Austin: (Nodding along in a patronizing manner). There you go stalling again.
Syrus: (Nearly aghast). You’re belittling me for stalling when you’re the one trying to distract me. (Nods). Fine, so I’ll kill you first and give them a chance to run ahead before they have to die.
-Austin turns and jumps into the air, expecting Syrus to have caught up with him to meet him as he knees the air.
-Syrus eludes this by simply ducking backwards and once Austin lands Syrus is right there, punching at his face and sending Austin into a tree.
-Splinters fly but Austin rushes to his feet and keeps running, following closer to the river now.
Austin: Just how long have you been fighting?
Syrus: (A smile briefly flashes across his face). Long enough to know that you’re outmatched. (Teleports in front of Austin and gives him a haymaker to the cheek. Austin hits the ground but spins to his feet, running again). Now do you want me to finish this like a gentleman or do you want me to drag it on like a barbarian? (Knees Austin in the back of the head, Austin falls face first into the dirt. As he’s getting up he digs some energy balls into the earth and keeps moving).
Austin: (Smiles). I’ve never been much to just let myself die, ya know?
-Syrus continues running and steps on the ground where Austin had placed his makeshift landmines, getting blown into the air in the process and receiving a mouthful of soil and foliage.
Syrus: (Spits leaves out of his mouth). Blah. (Smiles). I must say, even at my age I’m happy that I can be surprised with what I see from the current generation. (Serious again). But it’s still nothing more than a minor nuisance compared to what I’ve done and had done to me in the past.
-Austin continues running and dives into the river, swimming underwater in hopes that Syrus won’t be able to hit him as easily. Syrus flies overhead, shooting blasts as he goes, each one narrowly missing Austin each time.
Syrus: How long can you stay down there, huh? (Fires three more blasts in rapid succession). I doubt much longer, even more so due to the waterfall coming up.
-Syrus isn’t bluffing of course since most rivers do turn into waterfalls at certain points and it so happens that this one turned into a wicked waterfall right about now.
-The others have already jumped off the sudden cliff, landed more or less gracefully, and are still running; sadly there are much fewer trees for covering now.
-Austin keeps swimming, hopping to hit the waterfall and go over the edge without Syrus seeing this.
-Syrus stops in the air, hovers a few inches above the water, and raises his hands in the air. His hands crackle from electricity and he plunges them into the river, lighting it up with electrical shocks.
-Austin takes the full effect and nearly passes out from this, losing a few minutes off of how long he’d normally be able to hold his breath.
-The first wave stopped, Austin swims on and right as he’s about to go over the edge of the falls, he grabs a rock jutting out and hangs with one hand over the falls as he catches his breath finally.
-Another wave of electricity hits him and he nearly loses his hold of the rock.
-Austin clenches his teeth and with the last bit of strength he has, he forms an energy blast in his free hand, throws himself out into the open, and hurls his blast at Syrus, clipping Syrus in the side of the head.
-Austin falls out of control downwards towards the jagged rocks at the bottom of the falls because there are always jagged rocks at the bottom of falls in situations such as these.
Clinton: (Leaps into the air and catches Austin). Gotcha! (Lands on the other edge of the bank and keeps running while carrying him). You okay?
Austin: (Weakly speaks). I just got the hell shocked outta me. (Smiles). I’ve never been better.
Scott: (Clinton runs up to the others). You done playing hero?
Austin: I got my fill.
Syrus: (Appears in front of the five in the clearing). As have I. (They all stop dead in their tracks and freeze, their bodies motionless. Syrus is extremely serious at this moment, without a hint of playing around). I’ve been chasing you all day; let me end this with a small bit of dignity.
Austin: (Weakly gets to his feet, flips Syrus off and yells back). Go to hell!
Scott: I’d like to point out that this man does not represent the opinions of the rest of us. (Leena, Willy and Clinton franticly nod back).
Syrus: Brave until the end I see.
Scott: (Rolls his eyes). Ah hell with it… (Gets into a fighter stance and starts yelling and powering up. The rest follow, deciding to look cool when they die).
Syrus: (Also gets into a fighter stance. Now he’s smiling again). This is more like the good old days…
-The ground starts shaking. The six in the clearing look around confused, even Syrus, not knowing what the hell is going on.
Scott: (Pointing at Syrus). Is that us or you?
Syrus: (Confused, looking back and forth between the group and the ground). I was about to ask the same.
-The ground shakes more and more, and then a piercingly bright light explodes into the sky, seemingly ripping it in half.
Austin: What is that?!
Clinton: It’s coming from back at the base! (Turns to Syrus). Is this Project Locust?!
Syrus: (Stunned). No, I don’t know what this is!
-The first light fades, then they can hear another explosion of light from in the distance.
Scott: The hell?!
-The light fades away as the earth stops shaking.
Syrus: (Looks at the five, then in the direction of the base, then back at the kids). D…damnit. (Starts to take to the air but turns back around at the group). Damnit, I’ve got to stop giving you children second chances… (Flies off. The group looks around confused, searching for an answer, then remembers all at once to breathe again and gasp for air).
Austin: Phew, I knew he didn’t have it in him. Let’s just hope that whatever just happened, the others are alive and safe.
Clinton: We’ve got to keep moving. I don’t really want to stay here until he gets back. We’ve gotten lucky with that guy too many times.
Austin: Agreed. Let’s move! (The group takes off at a run again deeper into the forest).
To Be Continued…
Eclipse Star: Chapter 20 and a Half
“A Quick Explanation of Pulse Abilities”
Hello Eclipse Star fans and foes alike! Desert Hermit here, (some of you may call me Joshua if you wish), with an important announcement for everyone trying to figure out certain aspects of the series but just can’t wrap their mind around the most important and abstract feature it has to offer. I’m talking about ‘Pulse,’ the name given to the energies and powers the various characters that inhabit this world have come to possess. Now, trying to understand Pulse powers requires a leap of faith in accordance to the sustention of disbelief. Is sustention a word? MS Word is telling me it is, so it must be. Oh well, assume it makes complete sense, much like the rest of what I’m about to say.
In the simplest terms, ‘Pulse’ is the term given to the energy that every single item in the universe generates. Everyone and everything has a certain amount of electromagnetism in their being as a result of electrons zooming around at rapid rates. Much of the time, this creates an electromagnetic pulse, hence the term ‘Pulse.’ This is even true of the standard world you’re familiar with in your everyday life. It’s even fact that one can generate an electromagnetic pulse strong enough to disrupt other electronic devices with the use of…well with the use of something that can generate one heck of an electromagnetic pulse. I’ve seen movies that call a bomb like this a ‘Pinch.’ Doesn’t matter, there aren’t any pinches used in any of Eclipse Star, at least not to my knowledge.
Since everything in the world has this energy within it, it’s only a matter of learning to control it properly. Much of the time the energy is latent, especially in people who don’t even realize they’re capable of such feats to begin with. The kids in Eclipse Star have figured out that they do have this energy and as such, they have begun honing their skills with its use. It all comes down to manipulation. With training, they are able to learn more and more how to control the energy they have stored within their being. By focusing their minds, they’re able to cause the electrons within their bodies to vibrate faster and faster to create stronger and more radical ‘Pulses.’ That’s the basis of everything to follow.
If someone with these abilities, let’s take Syrus as an example, were to focus his concentration to one aspect of his body, such as his fists, he could force the electrons in his fists to vibrate fast enough to build up energy needed to inflict a far greater punch than his fists could do alone. In the same way, were he to focus his concentration on his stomach, he could strengthen the muscles there so that they may withstand an attack better, at time even repelling attacks completely.
Remember, it all boils down to manipulation on the subatomic level. When taught to the kids, believe me, they were given much more simplistic reasonings. The problem is, the more you think about how to do this, the less likely you’ll be to actually pull it off due to your inability to take the concepts seriously. The kids are able to do most things because they’ve seen firsthand that it is indeed possible. No on e tried to explain Pulse in fancy mumbo jumbo like this because then they would keep second-guessing everything. Oh, now that I think of it, I’ve probably just caused it so that none of you will be able to do this sort of thing now, haven’t I? Haha, sorry about that. My mistake!
Anyway, I’m sure you’re wondering how all this relates to the more advanced techniques, such as flight and energy blasts, right? Sure, it’s understandable to believe that people can make themselves stronger by focusing their strength correctly. Martial artists have been doing for years now. But energy blasts? Ridiculous. Well, not exactly. Same concept of focusing on one specific group of electrons within your control and causing them to generate enough energy to create, er, an energy ball of sorts. With the ball formed, it can then be thrown and directed assuming you have enough know-how to remain in control of the energy once it technically leaves your field of ownership. This is all done, more or less, with a push/pull effect that you see with magnets. Positive/negative relationship sort of thing. You fire an energy ball formed with tons of negatively-charged atoms, reverse the polarity of the atoms used to charge it in the first place, and naturally it will be drawn back allowing you to create completely reversible energy blasts. Everything comes down to this concept with energy ball manipulation. It sounds complicated to anyone unfamiliar with Pulse manipulation to begin with, but you know how your own energies feel. That ball still contains some part of you, and on a subconscious level you know exactly how to make your body and brain work in conjunction with that energy ball. You don’t have to think about how to make your hands open and close because it’s second nature and happening faster than the speed of light. The thought-process involved with Pulse manipulation is the same sort of second nature implementation as that of opening and closing your hands. You just know how to do it with enough practice that it feels completely natural.
This isn’t of course to say that everything is incredibly simple to do right off the bat or that once you learn how to do one thing you’ll instantly learn how to do everything. Just because you can shake hands does that mean you can juggle? No, you have to learn how to do new things. It works the same with Pulse. Beams are slightly different, though follow much the same concepts as the energy balls. It’s all about focusing the energy in the right places and discharging that energy build-up, though in this case you’re attempting to replenish the energy lost with equal or greater energy while maintaining the flow. It’s rather complicated and extremely tiring to get the hang of. In the story, it’s a concept the kids haven’t quite grasped. Derek is convinced that because he can fire a beam it must be deadly. He hasn’t learned how to apply follow-through, but he’ll learn.
So flight. How is that possible? In the same function as the energy manipulation, flight is achieved by means of concentrating your Pulse in opposition to the polarities that the Earth is itself generating. You align yourself against the Earth’s own magnetic pull. Extremely complicated, and not something that happens without a fair amount of difficult practice, but once more, once you learn the concept, the application just involves more training to advance further, get faster, become more agile in the air. It all matters how good you become at controlling your Pulse energies. The stronger you get, the easier it is to repel gravity at a more rapid progression to the point that gravity ceases to exist for you.
All of these concepts deal with learning how to manipulate energies that come from deep within you and are thus usually only understandable within your confines. Each person has their own unique pattern for generating Pulse. This is how the Pulse readers work. Jack has a fairly standard model that can locate a Pulse energy within a nearby range and even tell you roughly how rapidly the Pulse is vibrating. However, it’s possible to learn the specific vibration of a person. This is a concept that will occur much later as the series progresses along with the kids’ abilities. Some of them will learn how this works much quicker than others. Chris has been gifted with a heightened awareness of patterns, and thus finds it easier to hone in on specific members of his party when he needs to or figure out where an enemy may be attacking from. All of it is very complex.
Now, I’ve gone on and given a scientific explanation of Pulse and its practical uses, but don’t expect me to let everyone off the hook that easy. How do people generate fire? Or water? Or teleport? Or any number of seemingly unexplainable things? Faith! Some things are just beyond our comprehension and a lot of times it’s best to keep it that way. You’ll learn to enjoy life more when you stop worrying about why something is the way it is and just learn to except that something is and move on.
Thus concludes my quick explanation of Pulse. If you have any more questions, I suggest you keep them to yourself. Haha, and stay tuned for what happens next! Sometimes the best explanation is to just wait and see. And don’t forget to believe!
Eclipse Star: Chapter 20
“Never Underestimate the Usefulness of a Hermit”
Recap: Last time, after finding themselves in a very bad situation, the group split up as they began trying to escape from the Regime’s base. Derek lead Kevin and Danny successfully out, although his route wasn’t entirely pedestrian friendly and they soon found themselves skidding down a steep incline with soldiers and tanks chasing them as they made their way into the desert. Luckily, they managed to get away but they still have no idea what happened to their friends. All they were left with were tired feet, anxious minds, and a mysterious white light originating from the base that lit up the night sky.
Danny: (The three have been walking all day. They are nearly ready to pass out from lack of sleep, no food, and heat exhaustion. The sun is still being relentless since, let us not forget, they are in a desert). Can we stop and rest yet…?
Derek: Where would we rest? If we stop here all we’ll do is bake.
Kevin: Walking aimlessly in the sun isn’t helping much better.
Derek: We’re not walking aimlessly, we’re heading…North.
Kevin: How do you know we’re walking North?
Derek: I have an excellent sense of direction.
Kevin: Where does the sun set then?
Derek: (Looks up into the sky). It sets… (Points left). That way, I think. Regardless, I know where we’re going.
Danny: How long have we been walking now…?
Derek: Only about half of a day, now quit your bitching.
Kevin: You know, you never got around to finishing your story yesterday.
Derek: Which story?
Danny: The one about why you’re such a jerk all the time.
Derek: Oh yeah. (Thinks for a moment). Well, as I had said before, my dad didn’t put up with people disappointing him, so he and my mother divorced and I went to live with him in the city.
Kevin: At least your dad seemed to be a good influence…right?
Derek: He was my hero when I was a kid, but that changed not long after we moved into the city. We were on our way home from something or other, I can’t remember what, but as we were walking a group of assholes started walking next to us, harassing me and my dad.
Danny: (Corrects him in an astute manner). My dad and I.
Derek: Shut up. Whatever, so my dad didn’t pay them any mind, just let them talk on like the fools they were. Eventually they weren’t content with just talking and shoved my dad. He didn’t react and just kept walking, so they beat him inches away from death and in that moment he changed. Once the danger became real he changed, every bit of him. His face was no longer solid, his voice began cracking, and he cowered on the ground after the first series of punches, now begging them to leave him alone. They stole his dignity, these men took from him his pride and his dignity, and left him there for me to witness. A broken, sad sight.
Kevin: That’s terrible.
Derek: It taught me how fragile talk really is. These jerk-offs took my hero away from me, so I had to rely on my own personal strength alone. Failing would no longer ever be an option. I had seen what it did to my family. It wasn’t happening to me. The first and only time I can remember actually failing would be back in elementary school, when I first met Chris. Funny kinda, when I showed up as the new kid I was harassed by a group of older guys. I just let ‘em talk on and on, and then they began getting violent, so I knew I’d have to fight back. But before they could actually take a swing at me, this kid named Chris showed up and stood between me and the older kids. He turned to me and tried to get me out of there, thinking that the other guys could actually hurt me. I told him to mind his own business and pushed him aside. When I did this the douche bags saw a chance to start something and the three of them began wailing on me, taking cheep shots and whatnot. I was caught unaware, but Chris stepped in again, got his own ass beat pretty good alongside me. We weren’t hurt too badly, but when the older group left us alone, I was extremely pissed at this kid, told him that I would have been fine if he hadn’t stepped in the way.
Kevin: At least Chris defended you, right?
Derek: (Annoyed). I didn’t ask for his help and if anything I spend more time trying to keep him from getting hurt worse than what he got instead of just kicking the crap out of the older guys. But it didn’t end there. Oh no, these guys would not take my dignity the way I’d seen happen to my dad. The very next day I walked right up to them and without saying a word I settled what they started the previous day. The three were made fools and I was on top, but Chris just couldn’t stand for that. After I fought the three he came up to me, tried to convince me that what I did actually showed how weak of character I had. I used a few words that caught the schoolyard off guard, then told Chris to either leave or I’d personally beat him the way I did with the other kids. He refused to fight me, so I took a swing at him, knocking his ass to the ground. He got up, but wouldn’t fight back. Still, he had to learn his place, so I hit him again. Every time he’d get back up, look off towards his little crush, then refuse to fight me.
Kevin: His little crush?
Derek: (Rolls his eyes). It was still Lindsey back then. It’s always been Lindsey. I could tell that more than anything all he wanted to do was show off to the girl, so he just kept taking my punches. Still, he’d get back up and refuse to give in. I let off after I realized that he wasn’t just all talk; he was gonna stand by what he said. I respected that about him, and so I apologized to him and helped him to his feet and to the nurse’s office so that he could get his face bandaged up. Since then we’ve competed in just about everything from academics to sports to theater and just about everything in between. Except for women, but that was mainly because he was hung up on Lindsey and I had no attraction to her. Otherwise he and I became close friends through our mutual desire to surpass one another.
Kevin: How often did he beat you?
Derek: A fair share of times, but never in anything hugely important.
Danny: (Dreamily reminisces). Willy and I met when we were just little tykes, still in diapers…
Derek: (Angrily gives Danny a sharp look). What does this have to do with what I’m talking about?
Danny: (Snaps back to the present). Oh, I thought we were just talking about our childhoods. My bad.
Kevin: (Gently encourages Danny). No, please continue Danny, I want to hear this.
Derek: (Sigh). Sure, let’s hear this story.
Danny: Well, we were just toddlers, Willy and I, but it was obvious that we were to be best friends.
Derek: And then what?
Derek: Isn’t there more?
Danny: (Genuinely confused). Why does there have to be more than that? We grew up next to each other, my parents knew his parents, we were always playing together in the yard, why do you think that there has to be a huge back-story to our friendship?
Derek: (Rolls his eyes again). I have no idea.
Danny: (Excited). Oh, there was this one time when we were about three or so and we got it in our heads that we should breed a new kind of animal, so we took my cat and his dog and-
Derek: (Puts his hand up, turning away from Danny). I’ve heard enough.
Danny: What? We tried to get them to hatch a bunch of eggs that we stole from the fridge. What’s so bad about that?
Kevin: Well did it work?
Danny: Hah, no, I’m not stupid, we were three. (Thinks). No six, we were six.
Derek: (Smacks his head). Only you Danny… (Looks up ahead and sees a palm tree). Wha-zat?
Danny: (Dry). ‘S a palm tree.
Derek: (Annoyed). I know that, what is it doing out here in the middle of nowhere?
Kevin: (Pointing). Providing shade for that tent apparently.
Derek: Tent, what tent…? (Looks more carefully. He gets excited). Crap there’s a tent over there!
Danny: (The gears in his head begin turning). Tents mean people…people eat food…therefore tent must equal food! Hooray! (Takes off running towards the tent followed by Derek and Kevin).
Derek: There’s an entire oasis here! Oh how I’ve missed you dear sweet water!
Danny: Hello~? Anyone with food around here?
-As the three get closer they finally see the owner of the tent. He’s an older man with long graying brown hair and a moderate beard of the same color. He is wearing cargo pants and a baggy, raggedy shirt as well as a blanket draped around his torso. As the three run up he looks over at them as he rocks back and forth in a rocking chair.
Hermit: (Casual yet warm, all smiles). Well hello there.
Danny: (Extremely excited). My name’s Danny and I’m starving do you have food ‘cause I like food it keeps me from dying can I have it now please?!
Hermit: Hmm, I think I can scrounge up a bit of food. Let me see what I’ve got hidden in the old tent here. (Slowly stands up and walks into the tent. He shortly returns with a few loaves of bread and a pitcher of water). You’re all in luck, I just happened to have enough to feed you three and myself. Fancy that… (Derek and Danny pounce on the food offered and begin gorging themselves). Wow, you really were hungry, weren’t you?
Kevin: I must apologize for these two, we’ve been wandering around the desert for the past few days without eating or drinking anything.
Hermit: Yeah, I know how wandering goes. It can be a handful if you’re not entirely prepared. Also, wearing comfortable pants is key. (Points at their pants). Jeans are a bad choice.
Kevin: (Smiles). Hah, this is quite true. My name is Kevin, and these are Derek and Danny.
Hermit: And a very warm how-do-you-do to you three. Here, eat, drink, be merry. (Thrusts the food and drink in Kevin’s face).
Kevin: Oh, I don’t want to impose, especially since these commodities are so hard to come by out here.
Hermit: No worries my friend, there’s plenty more where this came from. I insist.
Kevin: (Smiles and bows). Thank you.
Hermit: (He sits back down in his chair as the others sit cross-legged in the sand). So what brings you to this particular desert, other than wandering of course?
Derek: We were part of a much larger group that got separated way back along the ridge.
Hermit: Back at that military base?
Derek: (The three stop eating and stare at the Hermit). Yeah, how did you know?
Kevin: (Hopeful). Did any of our friends already come by here?
Hermit: No, I’ve just done my share of exploration, so I’m pretty familiar with the area. Also after seeing that light show last night I figured something must have happened over there. And plus, you’ve all got military jackets on, so that’s a dead giveaway that you came from there.
Derek: (Goes back to eating his food). And why exactly are you out here in the middle of this God-forsaken desert?
Hermit: Well, I wouldn’t exactly say that God has forsaken it. Take a look at that oasis there. With the cool water there and the bountiful palm trees, I’d say that he’s blessed it fairly well; you just have to keep your eyes open to see the blessings.
Derek: Point taken. (Burps).
Hermit: I came out here to get away from the city for a little while and because I felt like it’d be worth my time to set up camp here. Turns out I was needed after all.
Danny: (Finishes stuffing himself and sprawls out on the ground). Thank you very much. My name’s Danny by the way.
Hermit: Haha, yes I know, your friend already said so.
Derek: (Skeptical). Well we haven’t heard your name yet.
Hermit: Me? I’m just an old hermit.
Kevin: You don’t look very old though.
Hermit: Aw, well thank you. I guess you could say that I’m just a wise hermit then, old in the mind, but strong in the body. (Notices Derek’s unzipped flack jacket with his sai sticking out). Those are some pretty shabby weaponry there. Standard issue where you come from?
Derek: What? (Pulls out his sai). These? Nope, I had to bring these along myself. I stopped off at a pawn shop before we were shipped out here, but with my current funds these were the best I could get.
Hermit: I may have something you might like. Hold on a second. (Gets up and walks back into his tent).
Derek: Who is this guy…?
Kevin: I don’t know… (They look over at Danny who shrugs).
Hermit: (Comes back out with a plain looking bag). What I’ve got here are a few things that you all might find useful. (Empties the bag onto the sand. A pair of dark black sai fall out along with a small amber stone).
Derek: (Instantly picks up the sai). Ah man, these are really nice. (Stands up and swivels them around in his hands). They feel a lot smoother and more balanced than the crap I bought.
Hermit: You can have those if you want. I don’t have much need for fighting.
Derek: Jeez, thanks! (Starts swinging the two sai around in formations that he’d been practicing).
Hermit: You’re welcome. And be careful with those, they’re a bit different than what you may be used to.
Derek: They are sai though, right?
Hermit: Yes, they are known in some circles as the “Sai of the Demon’s Laugh.” (Looks astute). Not to be handled foolishly.
Danny: (Laughs). Heh, we should probably take them away from Derek then.
Derek: (Sarcastically not amused). Ha ha, shut up.
Hermit: Do me a favor. Turn that way and try a rubbing the two together during a cross strike.
Derek: What, like this? (Derek brings the two in close to his chest and upon unsheathing them, hits them together. As a result, a sonic boom tears up the ground in front of him. Derek is amazed). Crap, what was that?!
Hermit: (Smiles). That would be why they’re not to be used foolishly. Any time they come in contact with each other, expect basically the same result.
Danny: (Picks up the amber stone). What’s this?
Hermit: Hmm…if I remember correctly, that is the Venus Stone. Very powerful when used right. (Thinks to himself). You know, most things are pretty powerful when used right…
Derek: What does it do?
Hermit: (Snaps back). Oh a variety of things. (Thinking to himself again). Such as…actually it only really does a few things. Mainly it lets you shrink to just about any size imaginable.
Derek: What’s the point of that?
Hermit: I’m sure you’ll find a use for it eventually. But I’ll have to teach you how to use it first.
Derek: Thanks but I doubt we’ll need to shrink any time soon.
Kevin: If it can shrink things, can it enlarge them as well?
Hermit: With practice it may be possible. Most things are possible with practice.
Derek: Unless you know how to teach us how to level mountains and such, we’re not interested.
Hermit: Well then you’re in luck.
Derek: (The three look inquisitively at the Hermit). How so?
Hermit: I may or may not know a few things that could come in handy for you three. (Playfully rolls his eyes and starts to trot away).
Derek: Wait wait wait. (Runs after him).
Hermit: Oh I do think you’ll have to catch me first.
Derek: Don’t be lame!
Hermit: (Shrugs). Hey, you gotta learn to make the most out of these little moments in life.
Derek: Fine! (Runs at the Hermit and dives to grab him. The Hermit jumps up in the air and floats there. Derek looks up stunned again). You can fly?!
Hermit: What, you can’t?
Derek: (Annoyed). Ah, no, we can’t.
Hermit: Oh well then I should probably start training you in that first before I teach you how to actually use energy combat.
Derek: (Blinks rapidly in confusion). What? You know energy attacks, too?
Hermit: I know how to teach it. I refuse to use it though. It’s unnatural, it’s dangerous, it’s hard to do when you want to do it correctly.
Derek: Whatever, we already know how to do energy blast and the like.
Hermit: Oh really? (Crosses his arms and floats back down to the ground). Show me.
Derek: Alright. (Puts his new sai away and thrusts his arms out in front of him, begins charging his attack, then after a lot of heavy breathing and strain, he fires his biggest and best blast to date).
Kevin: (Clapping and rooting for Derek). Ah wow, Derek that was amazing!
Danny: (Pumps his fi9st in the air). Yeah!
Derek: (Panting and already winded, but still smiling). Heh…thanks.
Hermit: (Unimpressed). Meh, I’ve seen better.
Derek: What? You’ve got to be kidding me. That was my best.
Hermit: (Smiles, excited again). Oh good, then you’ve got plenty of room for improvement. For starters your technique is all wrong for your body shape.
Derek: (Almost bothered). What does that mean?
Hermit: You need to find a style that fits you best. It’s different for everyone. Also, (bobs his head back and forth searching for the words), you think that you can create something ridiculously powerful as a beginner. You have to earn it.
Derek: (Now he’s bothered). And just how do I earn it?
Hermit: (Stands proud with his arms crossed behind his back, chin up). Welcome to the Hermit’s School of Miracles.
Derek: (In disbelief). Why are you helping us?
Hermit: (Shrugs). I’m a hermit, like I have anything better to do?
Danny: How long will it take to learn everything?
Hermit: As long as it takes.
Hermit: Haha, probably not. I bet that I could teach you three in under a week. (Does some quick calculations in his head and on his fingers). Yes, I’m certain of it.
Derek: (Finally letting his guard down). That easy, huh?
Hermit: Oh heavens no, but I need a challenge, too. Otherwise what fun would it be for me?
Derek: (Smiles). A valid point.
Hermit: Well then we don’t have time to waste. Your training begins right after a nice relaxing swim. First one in the water loses! (Runs off towards the oasis).
Kevin: Perhaps we’ve finally stumbled across some good luck for a change.
Derek: Perhaps we have.
Danny: (Yelling back to Derek and Kevin as he’s sprinting towards the oasis with an ear-to-ear grin). You guys are loooooosing!
-Derek and Kevin look at each other for a second before sprinting off as well.
To Be Continued…