Eclipse Star: Chapter 62
“Time Keeps On Slipping”
Recap: Jack rallies the group to be ready to turn against Chris, Derek and Jack discuss the Super X form, Chris and Lindsey exchange another painful series of blows, and the day ends with Job entering the Lodge with what looks to be a near-death Chris. So what happened? Better read to find out!
-The group is still in somewhat shock after seeing Job run by carrying Chris’ limp, bloody body. No one speaks before Austin becomes the first to move toward the stairs, followed by the others.
Danny: (Terrified, near tears). Austin, did I just see what I thought I did?
Austin: I have no idea. Why d’you think I’m running up the stairs to find out?
Lindsey: (Actually in tears). No, no no, I did this, I did this…
Austin: Will somebody shut her up for a moment?
Leena: Lindz, get a hold of yourself.
Lindsey: No! I just know I did this somehow!
Leena: Calm down, alright?
Austin: Look, if you’re going to freak out, you have to stay out here. Leena, stay with her.
Austin: Scott, no smoking.
Scott: (Snuffs his cigarette). Right, right.
-Everyone rushes up as Job and Joshua huddle around Chris in a room upstairs.
Joshua: How did he get like this?
Job: I showed up right before anything worse happened.
Joshua: There’s not much more that he could have done at this point.
Joshua: Austin and company, please, this is very serious and I can’t get distracted at the moment.
Willy: Anything we can do to help?
Joshua: Right now? Just stay outside the room and wait for me to come talk to you.
-The group waits anxiously, no one speaking, except…
Kyle: Okay, what the hell did that to him?
Austin: I have no idea.
Leena: We might as well wait downstairs, you know?
Austin: Yeah, you’ve got a point. If we can’t get in there and help, we don’t have much business standing up here.
Danny: But, he’s going to be okay, right?
Kyle: Chris? Pff, yeah, he’ll be fine. He might be dead, but he’ll somehow still be fine. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Austin: Yeah well I didn’t see him look this bad.
Scott: The robots effed him up though.
Willy: This one’s worse. I can tell.
Clinton: Yeah, it’s a downer but with the last one he didn’t look to be a mangled body right before we stopped seeing him.
Lindsey: EVERYBODY SHUT UP!
-They all look at her.
Austin: Lindz, jeez, calm down.
Lindsey: I am calm!
-The group looks at her for a moment to contemplate what she may have done.
Austin: (Raises an eyebrow). What did you last say to him?
Lindsey: (Flustered). What? Why does that matter?
Kyle: Last time, if I’m not mistaken, you told him you were with Jack and totally happy. Now he’s almost dead again and the last person to see him that’s here in this room is you.
Leena: Oh man, Lindz, he’s got a point.
Lindsey: Stop assuming I said something to make him go off and…I don’t know what, alright? I didn’t do that to him. Go ask Glitch. I was talking to him right before Chris came back.
Austin: Well, for now, we wait in the lounge.
-And wait they do. Meanwhile, in the “operation” room.
Job: I don’t know how I let this happen. I was supposed to be watching him.
Joshua: Blaming yourself isn’t solving anything. You saved his life and that’s enough.
-Joshua continues to bandage Chris as he talks. Chris’ entire body appears to have been heavily tenderized from severe blunt-force trauma. His eyes are still semi-open, completely blanked out. His jaw is nearly hanging from his head while his body convulses with twitches and jerks, coughing every so often.
Joshua: This somewhat disrupts the plans we had going.
Job: (Remorseful). I’m so sorry.
Joshua: No no, none of that. We’ll find another way. I hate to resort to this, but it’s the best option.
Job: What do you intent?
Joshua: He can’t remember this, even if his brain is still somehow functioning.
-Joshua places his hand over Chris’ eyes and begins glowing as Chris’ body tenses all over while the scene fades to white.
-Downstairs, however, there is probably as much tension happening.
-Derek walks in the room with Jack following behind on his crutches.
Derek: What’s everybody look so unhappy about?
-Lindsey leaps up and runs over to Jack, burying her face in his shoulder.
Jack: (Genuinely confused). What’s going on?
Scott: Where have you guys been?
Derek: Out in the woods talking about things that don’t concern you.
Austin: Derek, just tell me you didn’t do it.
Derek: Do what?
Kevin: He didn’t do it. He has no idea.
Jack: Someone explains this to me right now. (Points). Clinton, no-frills explanation.
Clinton: Chris was brought in by Job in a condition loosely dubbed “Meat Sack.”
Lindsey: (Weeping). I did this, I was me…
Jack: (Hardly giving her any sympathy, not even looking away from the others). It wasn’t you. Where is he right now?
Austin: Upstairs with Job and Joshua.
Jack: I told you we couldn’t trust those other four.
Kevin: No, Job brought Chris in. I don’t think he did anything to him, at least, nothing to harm him.
Willy: Right now Josh is the only one that knows how to help.
Jack: I’d go offer some PEZ but I’m all out.
Kyle: That stuff’s a bunch of crap anyway.
Jack: When it gets past the prototype phase you’ll be happy we have some.
Kyle: So go get some.
-Derek starts heading up the stairs.
Austin: Hey! Josh doesn’t want us bothering him.
Derek: Forget that, I want to know what’s going on.
-Joshua comes out of the room with Job. Everyone instantly gets to their feet with bated curiosity.
Joshua: Hmm. (Pause). I don’t want to talk about it.
-General outbursts of frustration.
Austin: Is he okay at least?
Joshua: Yes, he’ll be alright. He’s just not going to be up and about for a while.
Danny: How long is that?
Joshua: Usually a while like this takes roughly three weeks, give or take.
Kyle: Wow, that’s a hell of a while.
Austin: I need to know here, who did this to my best friend?
Joshua: Why? If you knew, wouldn’t you just go right out and try to beat that guy up? I’m not going to send you to go get hurt.
Lindsey: Please Josh, tell me I didn’t do this.
Joshua: (Speaking ever so kindly). Lindsey, of course you didn’t do this. (Slightly serious again). Right now I have things I need to deal with though.
-Joshua starts to leave but Austin grabs his arm and pulls him back.
Austin: What happened?
Jack: It was one of those four strangers, wasn’t it?
Joshua: Look, it’s unimportant who or what did this. Chris will be fine, but I don’t want anyone going up there for a few days.
-Joshua once more tries to leave, getting pulled back.
Austin: What. Happened?
Joshua: Enough! There’s been some change to some of the plans we had going, so tomorrow I want all of you to be ready for me to train you.
Jack: Thanks, but I think I’d rather work with Chris when he’s better.
Joshua: He’s not going to be better for a while.
Austin: (Nearly growls this). Why?
Joshua: Because he just tried to kill himself, alright?!
Joshua: (Sigh). I wasn’t supposed to say that.
-Derek shoots Jack a threatening glare.
Austin: (Letting go of Joshua’s arm and smoothing out his sleeve). Josh, I’m sorry.
Joshua: It’s okay. Tensions are high right now, but I’ll be taking over your training in Chris’ absence. I’d rather he be teaching you everything he’s learned, but I know everything he’d end up saying already so we’ll have to make do.
Jack: I’d rather not-
Joshua: (Instantly cutting in to Jack’s speech). Jack! I’m not trying to lie to you, okay? I realize you don’t trust me, or anyone else, but you’re out of options, unless you know how to do what Chris has been doing and can walk around enough to show us. Can you? Hmm? Let’s see you tap dance a bit. Well?
-Silence from Jack.
Joshua: I thought not. (Rubs his eyes). Six in the morning I want to see everyone outside and ready to learn. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Granted, you’ll get a more complete version than Chris’ three-day crash-course, but we don’t have any time to waste. Any complaints?
-Everyone shakes their heads.
Joshua: Good. See you in the morning. (Exits).
Jack: I don’t know about this.
Derek: Anyone care what Jack thinks?
Derek: All in favor of Josh’s training?
Derek: Good. See you in the morning.
-As Derek leaves, he kicks one of Jack’s crutches from under him.
-Lindsey grabs it for Jack as everyone else quietly disperses.
* * * * *
-Scenes play out as the characters describe them, showing roughly what they’re talking about.
Austin Narration: Dear journal entry. Today was the first day of Josh’s training.
-Everyone stands in a line in the woods raising their Pulse energies to max as Joshua paces back and forth, giving pointers here and there.
Austin Narration: It was about what we expected it to be. In one simple word, it was harsh. No breaks, no rest. The entire first day was sun up to sun down, but you know what?
-The camera pans by everyone one by one as they look exhausted, hunched over, breathing hard.
-When the camera pans by Austin, we see him smile.
Austin Narration: It’s gonna work exactly like he wants it to. We began with the basics of Pulse-maximizing and already I can see how difficult things will be, but if we don’t push ourselves like this, we’re never going to get any stronger.
-Continued energy practice.
Austin Narration: This is what Chris really wants us to do, and this is what I want to do for him. It’s time we took the pressure off him for a while and learned to do things on our own for a bit. When he’s feeling better, he can slip right in and join us, but for now, let him rest. He’ll be fine. Everything gets better after a good rest.
-Training ends and everyone heads into the Lodge, collapsing as they go in.
Austin Narration: Speaking of which, it’s bedtime. There’s another early morning ahead of us and if I’m not in bed, it’s gonna be a pitiful day.
* * * * *
Derek Narration: Journal entry. We’re a week into training and we’ve all nearly figured out the secret to staying at max power for extended periods of time: Nut up.
-We see Derek struggling with an intense grimace as he’s pushing himself to max power, refusing to give in.
Derek Narration: I have got to hand it to Chris. This isn’t easy to do, and it’s sure as shit not easy to do without complaining.
-While Derek stays at max, Leena throws a fit and falls with a frump nearby.
Derek: Leena won’t shut up long enough to do anything while in max state. Then again, what’d you expect from her?
-Derek continues pushing himself to increase his Pulse output, yelling each time. As he does this he looks up at the Lodge while the camera slowly zooms in.
Derek Narration: No signs from Chris, yet, though I saw him this morning before heading out.
-Flashback of Derek sneaking into Chris’ room to catch a peek, wincing from the sight but remaining stoic.
Derek Narration: He looks like hell. Whatever he did to himself last week was astonishing.
-Derek is seen eating at the table while Jack hobbles by. Derek shoots him yet another wicked glare.
Derek Narration: Jack has been real quiet about our little conversation in the woods, but I can tell, he knows he’s had a hand in this. I told him Chris tried this before, and there’s only one reason he’d try it again.
-Camera pans back over to just Derek’s face as he stops eating, transitioning to the woods where Derek continues to push himself.
Derek Narration: All the more reason why I need to be stronger than Chris. He doesn’t need to do anything else as far as I’m concerned. Not until we settle things between us, and when that happens I intend to show him what I’ve learned.
* * * * *
Kevin Narration: Journal. Today has been a spectacular breakthrough! Josh asked us to stay at full power from the beginning of the day to the end.
-Scene of Joshua telling the group about their next task as they give him faces of aghast.
Kevin Narration: I didn’t think it’d be possible, but most of us managed to pass his test.
-Various scenes show the group walking around the Lodge at full power, eating, doing laundry, pacing.
Kevin Narration: I’m thankful the day is done, but to have made it! I couldn’t believe myself!
-Kevin smiles and shakes his head. He looks up towards the stairs leading to Chris’ room with a warm, understanding look.
Kevin Narration: It gives me new insight as to what Chris was experiencing and more. He has yet to wake up, and Josh has been careful to lock his door every day so as to detract from visitors, but he’s promised we can see Chris again soon. I do not doubt he has great plans for us in store, and even greater plans for Chris. What plans these may be I do not know, but I find myself waking up with a renewed excitement. How much stronger will we be in a day? In a week?
-Kevin jumps out of bed with a smile on his face, arms stretched in the air, laughing.
Kevin Narration: I can hardly wait to see the new surprises!
* * * * *
Lindsey Narration: Dear diary.
-Lindsey sits alone in the main lounge room as she scribbles in her notebook.
Lindsey Narration: Today is three weeks since Chris tried to…since our talk.
-Joshua speaks with Lindsey, quietly shaking his head.
Lindsey Narration: Josh said he’d wake up today, but he hasn’t. He’s let us go see him though, and that’s nice.
-Lindsey slowly walks into Chris’ room, pained to see him lying in bed, slightly less bandaged than before.
Lindsey Narration: He’s looking much better. You can hardly tell he’s been beaten up. He definitely looks better than after the whole business at the Regime’s base. I just wish he’d get up already. I miss him. Oh! But big news! I totally overheard Kyle writing in his journal about Leena! Can you believe it?!
-Lindsey looks over at Kyle and Leena while she writes in her notebook, smiling.
Lindsey Narration: Those two would be so great together, it’s funny. I’ll be nice enough to keep it between the two of us for now, but you know me and secrets. More on that as it develops!
* * * * *
Kyle Narration: Dear journal.
-Kyle saunters at his own pace down the upstairs hallways.
Kyle Narration: Okay, not going to lie, I walked by Leena’s room as she was getting out of the shower, and I forgot where I was for a minute.
-Kyle walks by Leena’s room and pauses, unsure of what he’s seeing. We see the back of his head covering Leena, also unsure of what to do, dripping wet with a towel on her head.
Kyle Narration: She was quick to remind me that I was “In her room” and to “get out” or something with more expletives and energy blasts and such, but for those three and a half seconds, things were awesome.
-Austin walks down one of the adjacent hallways, suddenly turning around as energy blasts fly by with Kyle fleeing to safety. Kyle runs past Austin and begins walking, seeing Austin. He gives him a thumbs-up and starts laughing as he walks away.
Kyle Narration: No developments on the Chris front, but hell, if I get a chance to go visit him as an excuse to pass by Leena’s room more, good on him. It’s ask her out and all, but you know, there’s no where to take her. Where would we go? The woods? The kitchen?
-Kyle walks around the Lodge peeking in every room he can, passing the movie theater as a number of the group are watching a movie, laughing and talking.
Kyle Narration: Yeah, there’s a nice movie room here, but everyone’s always there anyway. Plus, I’ve already gotten to second base with my eyes, so I’m fine for the moment. Oh shit! Totally forgot!
-Outside in the woods during training.
Kyle Narration: Figured out how to start developing our own signature moves! It’s gonna take a while to get right, but I’ve got a doozy up my sleeve. Think The Dammit Blast, but add a train.
-Kyle fires a small train-shaped beam off into the trees before turning toward the camera and smirking.
Kyle Narration: Oh yeah, gonna be big.
* * * * *
Scott Narration: It’s been about a month since I’ve had a cigarette now and two things have happened.
-Scott is seen running around in a jogging suit.
Scott Narration: My stamina has increased, and I got into a fist-fight with Derek. At max Pulse strength.
-Derek shoves past Scott, Scott freaks out, and the two begin slugging each other like idiots.
Scott Narration: That shit’ll happen when you give up something as wonderful as smoking.
-Scott daydreams about home.
Scott Narration: My plans for getting home require me to consume three cartons on the finest cigarettes money can afford.
-We see Scott run up to a convenience store counter, looking nervous and pointing out the door. The clerk rushes off to see what’s up. Scott laughs and walks behind the counter, grabbing handfuls of cartons.
Scott Narration: I’m not paying for ‘em, but still the finest.
-Scott is once again jogging around the woods.
Scott Narration: There aren’t many vices one can be into up here in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere.
-Scott jogs past Lindsey and Leena talking and laughing.
Scott Narration: Only three girls up here, expect one’s “taken” (someone explain Jack and Lindsey’s relationship already), one’s a prude, and one is never here long enough since she’s running around with the other three mysterious guys that come and go too randomly to even strike up conversations with.
-Scott jogs past Grid and the other three mysterious strangers as they quickly come and go back into the air and take off. Scott shrugs.
Scott Narration: There’s nothing wrong with that though, so whatever they’ve got to do, let ‘em do it. Next time I catch one of them I’ll ask ‘em to bring back some smokes, though. Worth a shot.
* * * * *
Danny Narration: Uh, Josh wanted me to help out with teaching Pulse Tracking today.
-Danny stands in a line of the group as Joshua points at him, calling him forward. Danny looks surprised.
Danny Narration: I tried, but I got too shy to do much.
-Danny smiles and blushes, stumbling over words.
Danny Narration: He thought it was kind of funny.
-Joshua starts laughing.
Danny Narration: I thought it was kind of funny, too.
-Danny also starts laughing.
-Later on, everyone seems to be concentrating on how to sense Pulse energies with the camera panning to Derek and stopping.
Danny Narration: Derek figured it out, but everyone else is still working on it. Josh promised us ice cream if we can get Jack to play with us, but he’s been too grumpy to do much.
-Danny looks over at Jack standing off to the side, watching carefully but not participating.
Danny Narration: Still on his crutches. He visits Chris a lot.
-Jack walking into Chris’ room and sitting on the bed, just staring at Chris, unsure of what to say or do.
Danny Narration: Chris is still sick. It’s really easy to track Chris’ Pulse. It doesn’t go anywhere.
-Danny smiles and keeps practicing.
Danny Narration: I like that.
* * * * *
-Chris finds himself looking around a broken street, watching as Syrus fights with his friends, stabbing Clinton in the chest and back with spikes, and pinning Scott to a building with a metal pole. He looks down and sees Lindsey’s body in his arms at the moment where her arms go limp and her eyes fade out.
Syrus: I told you I’d bring Hell with me.
Chris: No…this isn’t how it ends…
-Chris wakes up, calmly, in his room.
Chris: …This isn’t how it ends.
Lindsey: (Startled). What?
Lindsey: Oh my god! Chris! You’re awake!
-She jumps up from her chair and gives him a hug.
Lindsey: I was so worried about you! I told you not to do that again! And what did you do? You got yourself into a coma again! What am I going to do with you?
-Despite scolding him, she smiling. He’s smiling, too.
Chris: Sorry, sorry, I hate to keep scaring you like this. How long have I-
Lindsey: Eight weeks. Josh said you’d be out in three, so, you know, where the heck were you?
Chris: Resting, apparently. (Massaging his head). Hell of a nap.
Lindsey: You don’t, uh, remember anything, do you?
Chris: Let’s see…I remember waffles…they were really good…and then we were talking…? Hey did we have a conversation that I should remember?
Lindsey: No, I don’t think so.
Chris: Are you sure? I could have sworn we were talking about something.
Lindsey: Oh! Yeah, I remember now! It was about Kyle and Leena. You didn’t think they should be together and I thought you were absolutely wrong.
Chris: Really? Yeah, I’d definitely be wrong then. Those two would be great together.
Lindsey: Well good, because I’m right in that matter.
Chris: He ask her out yet?
Lindsey: No! You mean he told you first?
Chris: Of course he did. Guy’s obsessed with Leena.
Lindsey: I know! But don’t tell him I told you.
Chris: Same here.
Lindsey: So you don’t remember anything else?
Chris: Nope. Should I?
Lindsey: Nope. It’s just good to have you back.
-Lindsey hugs Chris, a look of guilt on her face unseen by Chris.
* * * * *
Jack Narration: It is the 15th of June and Chris finally woke up today. In no time at all he is out and about, ready to jump right into training.
-Chris walks out into the woods with the others as they all respond with a hearty welcome.
-Jack continues leaning against a tree just outside the group.
Jack Narration: I don’t understand it, but everyone’s attitude suddenly got a whole lot brighter. I suppose the thought of losing a valued member of the team is too much for them to handle, so when they don’t have to retain a serious thought forever it brings them more joy than I can understand. Makes me wonder how excited they’ll be when I’m off these crutches.
-Jack looks down at his legs and crutches.
Jack Narration: Probably not the same response.
-Scenes of the group sparing, particularly Chris having fun fighting with Austin, Danny, Willy, Kevin, and Kyle.
Jack Narration: What’s fascinating is that despite being in that bed for over eight weeks, Chris is still right at the point where he left off, if not slightly stronger. It’s as if he never left.
-Chris is almost making sport of his friends until Derek comes along.
Jack Narration: A similar effect occurred during our fight with the Hex-Duo, though other circumstances compensate for his gain. However, his fight with Derek was something that still has no concrete explanation.
-Flashback into Jack’s head of witnessing Chris fight with Derek in his Locust Virus-infected state.
Jack Narration: He couldn’t get up to walk around for a month and suddenly he was up and about, matching moves with Derek who, at that point, far exceeded everyone else.
-The flashback concludes with Chris hitting the Super X form.
Jack Narration: Perhaps there is more to him than I’m able to grasp at my current level. Shame that my legs aren’t working better as I know I’m slowly losing my place as a dominant member of the group.
-Scene of Jack trying to walk without his crutches at night.
Jack Narration: I’ve secretly been putting myself through a form of physical therapy at night in an attempt to speed my recovery. Chris has shown unrealistic recovery periods at the hands of Joshua, but I believe there is something more to his tricks than just what he says.
-Jack stumbles while trying to walk, struggling to get to his feet again.
Jack Narration: It doesn’t matter. I refuse to ask for help. It’s been said, but the only one I can really trust is myself. This is just something I have to do on my own. When I recover, I have no doubt I could push myself to the Super X form if the conditions are met.
-Scene shifts back to the present with Chris and Derek sparing.
Jack Narration: But now I bide my time. My lack of participation aside, I have been learning more than they realize. I just have to wait until the moments are right to implement everything.
-Derek slams Chris to the ground.
-Chris gets up smiling while panting, waving his hands to say “no more.”
Chris: Dang Derek, you’ve been doing some serious training, haven’t you?
Kevin: Ha, we all have.
Chris: I can tell! It’s awesome being so far outclassed right now!
Austin: You kidding? I wouldn’t say “outclassed.” You’re keeping up with us, and we’re not sandbagging with you.
Derek: Heh, I was.
Chris: Figured he’d say that. (Turns to Joshua). ‘Scuse me guys.
-Chris walks over to Joshua as he’s in the middle of instructing Leena on some techniques.
Joshua: You see how much more natural that feels? Remember to breathe in and out at regular intervals when firing, otherwise you’ll just tire yourself out and give yourself a headache.
Chris: Hey Josh?
Joshua: Yes Chris? (Leena goes off on her own). I’m glad to see you hard at work again so soon! Well, technically not too soon. Actually rather late, but neither here nor there. What can I do for you?
Chris: I hate to ask, but I have a favor.
Joshua: You never did get the chance to ask me before you got hurt.
Chris: The day we arrived here I had gone to make sure my grandma was okay, but when we got to her house Syrus nearly killed us. I need to go make sure she’s alright.
Joshua: Hmm, (thinking), I suppose I could justify a break like this. Yes, sure, you’re free to go check on her.
Chris: Thanks, Josh. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.
Joshua: Well, things have been shifted quite a bit lately, so my natural talents of prediction are way off. It’s like the timeline’s been skewed recently.
Chris: I have no idea what that means.
Joshua: Haha, I don’t suspect you would. I just have one condition for this.
Joshua: You’ve got to leave immediately. No stalling. Is that understood?
Joshua: Good. Get going then. You’ve got plenty of catching up to do!
Chris: (Running toward the Lodge). Thanks Josh! I’ll be back before you know it!
Derek: (Hearing this while sparring with Austin). What’s he talking about?
Joshua: Oh dear. I do hope things correct themselves soon.
To Be Continued…