Eclipse Star: Chapter 64
“Sense and Sensibility”
Recap: While Syrus busily studies Chris’ technique, the boy himself goes in search of his grandmother’s whereabouts. Finding a Charles Robotics facility where his house used to be, things become more complicated when a team of Hex-Duo 6 robots suddenly attack. The fight is halted by Charles, or rather a robotic version of Charles. He assures Chris that his grandmother is safe but urges him to stay out of the next conflict. Chris leaves for the Northern Lodge once more as Charles tells Syrus of his findings. Things are about to get crazy, today, on Eclipse Star!
-The group is up in the mountains during a normal training session with Joshua. Most of the group is actively engaging in warm-up drills while Joshua gives pointers. Jack, however, remains in his usual spot off to the side, leaning against a tree with his crutches under his arms.
Joshua: That’s good guys, real good. I want all of you nice and loose for today.
Lindsey: What’ve you got for us today?
Kyle: Please tell me it’s not just more hiking.
Joshua: Nope, not exactly hiking. Today’s a test.
Danny: Test? TEST?! I didn’t know I was supposed to study for one of those!
Joshua: Haha, calm down Danny, you should be more than ready.
Scott: So what’s up?
Joshua: Oh it’s very simple. I’d like all of you to play hide and seek.
Leena: That doesn’t sound too hard.
Joshua: Well, all of you are hiding and all of you are seeking.
Leena: Okay, that’s impossible.
Joshua: I work best under those conditions.
Clinton: How will this drill work?
Joshua: First, everyone’s getting blindfolded. After that I count to ten and tell you all to scatter. The goal is to take out everyone else without being taken out yourself. Sound simple enough?
Derek: I assume we’re using Pulse Sensing abilities then?
Joshua: Precisely. This wouldn’t work if you didn’t.
Kyle: Okay, but I see a general flaw with this drill: Even if I attack someone first they’ll still take me out.
Joshua: Hmm, okay, the Kyle Rule is in effect: No one’s allowed to hit Kyle as hard as they’d hit Derek.
Kyle: I like this rule.
Leena: I don’t.
Austin: So any other limitations?
Joshua: Nope. I assume I don’t need to further explain how to play this game best, but just for clarification- (Danny smiles) –you will need to balance keeping your Pulse strength low enough to avoid detection with raising it quick enough to knock out your opponents.
Kyle: Except for Kyle!
Joshua: Right, except for Kyle. Just give him a pink belly until he gives up.
Kyle: I suddenly don’t like the Kyle Rule.
Joshua: Oh, and Glitch, I’m sorry, but you can’t play since you’ve got special scanners anyway.
Glitch: Yeah, I figured about as much.
Joshua: You’ll be the clean-up crew. Bring ‘em back as they knock each other out. Sound good?
Glitch: (Salutes). Sure, can do!
Joshua: Excellent! Ready to get blindfolded everyone?
Joshua: Ooh, no, nope, that isn’t going to work. We need a new group cheer.
-Everyone just stops and looks at Lindsey.
Lindsey: What? I like it. It sounds cool.
Joshua: Might I suggest “Hallelujah”?
Derek: Too religious, not powerful enough.
Joshua: I’ll have you know that it’s very powerful, thank you.
Jack: (Deadpan). How about just “Ha”?
-Everyone is somewhat surprised to hear Jack speak.
Joshua: (Pause, then). I like it!
-Everyone is fitted with a blindfold. Joshua counts to ten as they scatter.
Jack: How long you think before this is over?
Joshua: (Laughing). Oh no, I don’t think you’re just going to sit there and gloat. I’ve got a job for you, too.
Jack: Does it involve my legs finally working?
Joshua: I’ve told you, that is entirely up to you. No, I assume you’ve been paying attention to the lessons?
Jack: To a certain point.
Joshua: I know when you’re lying. Jack, you’re the best with this ability.
Jack: I’ve picked it up but nothing special.
Joshua: Tell me how far away Chris is.
Jack: (Rolls his eyes). I don’t-
Jack: (Pause). Roughly three miles south-southwest.
Joshua: I want you to describe everything as it’s happening to me.
Jack: How does this help you?
Joshua: This helps you, not me.
Jack: Fine, if you say so. (Jack closes his eyes for a moment). Alright, so far Danny’s the easiest to sense since he’s not suppressing his Pulse whatsoever.
Joshua: Oh that Danny. Maybe I should have told him about the test beforehand.
Jack: No one has made contact with anyone else just yet. They’re keeping themselves at a cautious distance. Derek’s making a move toward Kevin right now. And Kyle seems to be making a conscious effort to move away from Derek’s position. He’s almost completely out of range for everyone else.
Joshua: Not a bad tactic. Keep going. Don’t stop updating me. (Closes his eyes and sits down, relaxing, cross-legged).
-Out in the woods, Derek is moving between trees rapidly, keeping low but moving fast. He approaches Kevin rather closely.
Kevin: (Whipping around in Derek’s direction). I know you’re back there, Derek!
-Derek, however, is gone.
-Kevin moves his head around, listening carefully and trying to feel Derek out.
-Derek comes down on top of Kevin’s head with both feet, plowing Kevin into the ground.
Austin: Got you!
-An energy blast shoots at Derek as Austin comes rushing in with more.
-Derek leaps at Austin, underneath the energy blasts, and boots him in the stomach.
-Austin gasps but takes a mad swing with both hands, clonking Derek in the side of the head.
-Derek staggers off for cover.
Austin: Hah, hah, alright then, I see how it’s gonna be.
Jack: (Back at the Lodge with his eyes closed). Kevin was nearly knocked out for a second. He moved clear when Austin attacked Derek, though. He’s moving erratically right now. I think Derek’s hit has him confused.
Joshua: Good though, he’s still got enough sense to get away from the fight. He’s been listening to me pretty well.
-Kevin continues stumbling between the trees, running into a few without meaning to before stopping to rub his head.
Kevin: Man, how’d he hit me that hard without me feeling the Pulse spike first?
-Danny shuffles about, trying to stay busy doing something, but he can’t seem to find anyone.
Danny: Wow, everyone’s doing a really good job right now. I can’t find anyone. Unless…maybe they’re scared of me! (Epiphany). That’s right! I forgot! I’m super strong, aren’t I?! I’ll just let them come to me!
-Danny stands his ground and raises his Pulse level.
Jack: For whatever reason, Danny just decided to let everyone know exactly where he is.
Joshua: Ooh, that’s not a bad idea.
Jack: Oddly, it isn’t, at least in this scenario. I assume Danny thinks he’s really strong but what he’ll end up doing is cause everyone else to meet up and start weeding each other out.
Joshua: And then Danny gets out somehow. Genius!
-As Jack predicted, multiple others begin flocking to Danny’s position, with Derek, Scott, Lindsey, and Clinton moving toward a collision course, each expecting to be the first to intercept Danny.
-Scott is suddenly hurled into a tree, courtesy of Derek.
-Danny hears this and fires a blast at the direction of the noise, hitting Scott pretty hard.
Danny: Aha! I got someone!
-Clinton comes up behind Danny and nearly knocks his head off.
-Derek slams Clinton unexpectedly in the side of the head with an elbow.
-Danny turns around and fires another large blast, pegging Clinton really easily.
Danny: I got another one!
Clinton: (Taking his blindfold off). Of course you got me. I was right next to you when Derek hit me.
Danny: Aha! I can hear you!
-Danny begins firing more blasts at Clinton, believing he’s got him on the run.
Jack: Well, somehow Danny hasn’t completely messed this one up yet.
Joshua: Ahahaha! This is wonderful!
-While Danny is busy chasing Clinton off, Derek moves in for the kill.
-Before he can strike Danny, Lindsey has tackled Derek.
-The two careen off in another direction wrestling about in mid-flight.
-Austin breaks the two up, kicking one and uppercutting the other.
-Lindsey and Derek snap back to take out Austin, managing to hit each other incredibly hard.
-Austin is situated off to the side of the two, having missed being hit entirely. He grabs the two heads and slams them together before grabbing them and throwing them into the air.
Derek: Damn it!
-Danny stops chasing Clinton and turns his attention upward.
Danny: That sounds like Derek!
-Danny charges up and fires another large blast in Derek’s direction, making a direct hit.
-Lindsey manages to move out of the way before Danny can sense that she’s there, too. She drifts silently back into the treetop covering and fades off anyone’s radar, save for Jack’s.
Jack: Danny almost knocked Derek out with that last attack.
Joshua: (Kicking his feet in excitement). Oh isn’t this just fun?!
-Derek turns toward Danny and angrily throws a super-powered beam in his direction.
-Danny stops and begins to suspect something’s up.
Danny: Wait a minute…that felt like Derek throwing something really big and really painful at me. But he’s scared of me, right? Why’d he do that?
-Before Danny is exploded, Willy has pulled him out of the way to safety.
Willy: What d’you think you’re doing Danny? Derek almost killed you!
Danny: Willy? I found you!
-Danny places his hands on Willy’s chest and fires a forceful beam, launching Willy out of the woods and into the air.
Danny: (Beaming). I’m doing really good, aren’t I?
-Willy sails over the trees and into the clouds.
Jack: I’d say Willy’s pretty much done.
Joshua: Yup. Still, he did good keeping Danny safe. He passes the test nonetheless.
-Glitch flies up to Joshua and Jack carrying Clinton.
Joshua: Clinton, you’re out because you looked.
Clinton: I know, I know.
Joshua: Feeling alright?
Clinton: Yup, just kind of stupid.
Joshua: Glitch? You mind catching Willy before he hits the ground?
Glitch: You got it!
-Glitch flies off to get Willy.
-Chris finally shows up.
Chris: What’s up?
Joshua: Ah! Chris! You’re back so soon. How did it go?
Chris: I’ve got news. What’s everyone up to? I’m feeling Pulse spikes everywhere.
Joshua: Training. Hey Clinton, hand Chris your blindfold.
-Clinton gives his blindfold over to Chris. Chris doesn’t quite understand.
Joshua: Well? Put it on.
Chris: Oh. (Puts it over his eyes). Now what?
-Joshua grabs Chris and hurls him into the woods, flailing like an idiot.
Joshua: There, that should give everyone else a slight handicap.
Jack: Well, at least he’s figured out the point of the exercise. His Pulse has already dropped to the “stealth” range.
Joshua: He always was a fast learning.
Clinton: Now that you mention it, there’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask.
Joshua: About how Chris made so much headway in three days’ training?
Clinton: That’s the exact question.
Joshua: I could tell you, but that’d ruin the surprise.
Jack: It was just what needed to happen. Nothing more, nothing less.
Joshua: Actually, I like that answer better.
Jack: By the way, I think Kevin’s about to be out.
-Deep in the woods, Kevin is being hammered with quick strikes from Lindsey and Leena. By the time he turns in the proper direction to attack one, the other is coming up from behind. Still, he’s enjoying himself.
Kevin: Ha, ha, okay, so how should I do this?
-Lindsey comes at Kevin from the right as Leena closes in from the left.
-Kevin shrinks himself instantly to the size of an ant, allowing the two girls to smash their faces into each other at full speed.
Lindsey: Dang it!
Leena: You weren’t supposed to run into me!
Lindsey: Then where’d Kevin go?
-Kevin reappears at quadruple his normal height the very next instant, grabbing at the two.
-Neither can break free, though Lindsey liquefies herself and slips through Kevin’s fingers.
-Leena, literally on the other hand, is launched way into the air.
Leena: This is why you don’t have a girlfriend…!
-Lindsey reforms herself and runs off through the woods again, hiding her power.
-Leena comes down in the middle of the woods while yelling.
Danny: I know that voice! That’s Leena!
Leena: What? Danny? Oh no.
Danny: Ultra Beam Blast Cannon!
-Danny points himself at Leena and fires, hitting her with all his strength.
Jack: Well, Kevin may still be going, but Leena’s out now.
-Glitch flies to the starting location carrying Willy.
Joshua: Willy, how are you?
Willy: (Coming to, rubbing his head). I’m alright. Dumb, but alright.
Joshua: Don’t worry, you did good. Glitch? Leena’s gonna need a catch, too.
-Glitch flies off to grab Leena.
-Meanwhile, Scott has located Kyle and proceeds to track him through the woods.
Scott: C’mere Kyle, I know you’re out there.
Kyle: (Whispering to himself while hiding behind trees). Dang it, how does he know?
-Kyle takes a step out from the trees and steps on a twig.
-Kyle looks down at the twig and then over towards Scott, who’s also noticed the sound.
Kyle: Oh come on, how cliché is the old twig gag?
-Scott lunges at Kyle. Kyle braces himself for something big.
Kyle: Okay, make it quick…!
-A swift flash and Kyle is left alone, still bracing for the attack.
Kyle: Okay, any time now. (Unbraces). Anyone there?
-Scott is reeling through the trees after getting struck by something or other.
Jack: Okay, whatever just hit Scott totally knocked him out.
-Glitch flies down with Leena.
Joshua: Glitch, Scott, please?
Glitch: Sure thing.
-Kyle “looks” around, wondering out loud what happened.
Kyle: Huh. I guess I must have done something unexpected just there, like a secret well of power.
Chris: You owe me. (Gone).
Kyle: Yeah that makes more sense.
-Austin and Derek continue to scuffle every now and then, trading blows as they sneak around one another.
-Derek finally decides to end it by closing the gap between him and Austin and detonating his energy, causing a fairly large explosion.
Leena: (Sees the explosion in the woods). Whoa, what was that?
Jack: (Still with his eyes closed). Derek started to get impatient. He pushed his power up suddenly near max and hit Austin pretty hard.
Leena: Yeah but Austin’s alright, right?
-Glitch comes flying in carrying Scott.
Joshua: Glitch, could you please go find whatever’s left of Austin and bring him in?
Glitch: I’m on it. (Flies off again).
-Kevin stops, having felt Derek’s huge power increase.
Kevin: Great, Derek’s not playing anymore, is he?
Chris: It doesn’t feel like it.
Kevin: That you Chris?
Chris: Yup. Austin’s out. What say we stop Derek from doing something like that again?
-The two fly off towards Derek’s location.
-Danny, however, is as confused as ever.
Danny: Okay, I heard that come from that direction, but Derek was over in the other direction just a few minutes ago. Is he trying to trick me? (Stops and thinks for a second). He has to be. I won’t stand for that!
-Danny pushes his strength up to max, shaking the trees around him.
-The others still participating seem to view this as a signal to close in on Danny once more.
-Derek comes in low and quiet, anticipating Danny won’t notice him while charging up. He gets right up to Danny before talking.
Derek: Alright Danny, game’s over for you.
Lindsey: Think again, Derek.
Derek: The heck?
-Lindsey leans out behind Danny, having hid on the other side while also charging.
-She fires a beam at the same time Danny fires a beam at Derek, with the two beams combining and hitting Derek at the same time.
-Derek throws his hands up to block but is still hurled back against the force of the beam. He struggles to get control again.
Derek: (Through gritted teeth). I thought it’d be obvious I wasn’t playing nice anymore.
-As Derek finally gains control of Lindsey and Danny’s combined beam, another combined beam hits him from behind.
Chris: No way he’ll back down from this.
Kevin: No, I’m pretty sure we’re just making him mad again.
-As the brightness of the four beams colliding fades just enough, Derek appears to be holding the two combined beams at bay, one with each hand.
Derek: Hah! Is that the best you can do?!
Kyle: You sure look like you’ve got your hands full, huh?
Derek: What? Kyle?
-Kyle proceeds to continue charging his own attack in one hand, what appears to be a strange whirl of wispy smoke.
Kyle: Okay just hold still for a moment please.
Derek: (Freaked out, still struggling with the other blasts). Kyle! If you fire that I’ll hurt you so-!
Kyle: (Grandiose voice). TRAIN SUMMON!
-Kyle lets loose what appears to be a ghost train from his hand. The beam hits Derek and carries through him, obviously doing a lot of damage.
-Derek finally loses control of everything around him after getting thrown backward with the Train Summon.
Kevin: Heh, I think Kyle got him.
Kevin: Count to three then go?
-The two leap away from one another before trading blows every so often.
-Danny and Lindsey both let out a sigh, though Danny still doesn’t seem aware that Lindsey is right next to him.
Danny: Wow! I did it! I did-!
-Danny’s eyes slowly close as he falls face forward, still smiling, before hitting the snow and passing out completely.
Lindsey: Sorry Danny, but you’ll just hurt yourself if you keep this up.
-Lindsey disappears after Chris and Kevin.
Leena: So what’s the status report? I just saw a big train shoot out of the woods and now nothing.
Jack: Derek is now officially out, thanks to the other five hitting him all at once.
Joshua: Teamwork! Excellent!
Jack: But then Lindsey knocked Danny out with a simple chop to the back of the head, so he’s out, too.
Joshua: Oh how sad. I really thought he’d win. But oh well, he did pretty good anyway. Glitch?
-Glitch is just flying in with Austin.
Joshua: Please go bring Danny in, but just let Derek sit unconscious in the snow for a while. It might help him cool down.
Glitch: Right. (Flies off again).
-Chris and Kevin continue hitting quick and fading into cover with neither showing significant leverage over the other.
-Kevin sends a punch that collides with Chris’ face, throwing him through some foliage.
-Kevin chases after a bit, pushing some bushes out of the way.
Kevin: I know you’re back there. I can sense your Pulse, Chris!
-Kevin moves some more brush aside, revealing a glowing energy ball.
-Glitch flies in with Danny.
Danny: (Sleepily waking up). Danny do good?
Joshua: (Smiling). Yes, Danny do very good.
Jack: That leaves just Chris, Lindsey, and Kyle left in the woods.
Scott: Alright, takin’ all bets! That’s right, takin’ all bets! Lemme hear a hundred on Lindsey, the girl with the twirl! Any takers?!
Leena: Right here.
-The group huddles around Scott, placing bets. Even Joshua steps up with a few bucks.
-Lindsey finds herself finally having a hard time in the exercise now that Kyle is pretty much untraceable and Chris has been keeping himself hidden.
Lindsey: Shoot, I don’t even know who’s left.
-She starts to feel a huge energy spike as Chris rockets towards her at an alarming speed, his power climbing rapidly.
-He pulls back with a huge punch but stops inches from her face right as she turns around, having felt who’s in front of him.
-The two stand confused for a second before…
-Energy appears between Lindsey’s thumb, index, and middle fingers.
-Chris is hit with a powerful explosion and sent careening through trees, ripping through them when hit.
Danny: What just happened?
-The group hears a faint yelling sound, which soon becomes very obvious when Chris explodes out of the trees, carried through the air from the force of the explosion.
-He skids to a stop in the snow right in the middle of the group as they just stare downward at him.
Joshua: (Points down). Chris, you’re out.
Chris: Good grief.
Jack: That means Lindsey and Kyle are the only two left.
Kyle: Yeah, and she has no clue where I am.
-The group, all without blindfolds now, are staring dumbfounded at Kyle, still in his blindfold, standing quite blatantly among them.
Joshua: Um, Kyle?
Kyle: (Points). Yes, Josh, question.
Joshua: Shouldn’t you be off trying to knock Lindsey out?
Kyle: Not a bad tactic, but I do believe I have a better chance letting someone else knocking her out for me.
Leena: You’re the only one left besides her.
Kyle: So where’s Chris?
Chris: I’m right here.
Kyle: Oh crap, so I really knocked Derek out?
Austin: Heh, yeah, I saw that. That was sweet.
Kyle: (Panicked). Oh jeez, he’s totally gonna kill me now! He’s not right here is he?
Joshua: Nope, I figured it’d be best to leave him alone for a bit.
Joshua: (Deadpan). Is that Derek?
Jack: That’s Derek.
Joshua: That’s Derek. Alright, but he’s still out.
-Derek flies up above the trees to a point where the group can clearly see him.
Joshua: Oh yeah, he’s not even wearing a blindfold; he’s totally out.
-Derek starts to charge something huge.
Joshua: (Facepalm). Dang it Derek, why do you do this?
-Lindsey shoots up from the trees and slams her head into Derek’s chin.
-Derek is sent flying toward the group. Glitch catches him in mid air before he hits anyone.
-Lindsey takes off her blindfold to see what’s happened.
Lindsey: (Yelling to the group). Did I win?!
Leena: Put your blindfold back on!
Kyle: What? Oh! Oh! No blindfold! She’s disqualified! I win by default! (Whips his blindfold off).
Joshua: Oy, I think this training session is over.
-After a short breather, the group has settled down and are ready to hear what Joshua has to say.
Joshua: I’m extremely pleased with how you all handled that last test. Glitch, you were a huge help by the way.
Joshua: And Jack, excellent job as well.
Lindsey: (Nudges Jack). C’mon, savor the compliment.
Derek: So who technically won?
Joshua: Winning wasn’t the point.
Lindsey: Yeah but if you had to pick a winner, who was it?
Joshua: Because I embodied the true spirit of passivity and non-violence. Now enough whining, I have one last thing I’d like you all to do. Is everyone sufficiently rested?
-Nods all around.
Joshua: Good. I want to see who among you is the strongest. I want to see who can top the charts here, so hold absolutely nothing back.
Austin: The usual way? Powering up?
Joshua: Yup, you’ve got the idea. I’ll go down the line here. Danny, you go first.
Danny: Because I’m so strong?
Joshua: Hahaha, yes, because you’re so strong.
-Everyone takes turns pushing their Pulse energies to maximum strength and beyond until only Chris and Derek are left.
Joshua: Alright Chris, could you please do the honors and let these guys know if they’re really past where you left off a few months ago?
Chris: Sure thing.
-Chris crouches low clenching his fists. He begins to make a slight growling sound as his power rises along with the volume of his voice. The nearby trees start swaying slightly and the ground suddenly quakes as sparks shoot from Chris the louder he becomes.
Joshua: Good, don’t stop!
-Chris’ Pulse reaches the state it had been when he fought Hex-Duo 6, signaled when it looks apparent he can’t power up any further.
-He stops yelling and looks around.
-To his relief, instead of the fear he had noticed the last time this happened, the group seems at ease, almost happy.
Leena: That’s it? Are you sure you’re maxed out?
Chris: (Struggling a bit). Yeah, pretty much.
Leena: Okay, that’s not where he was three months ago.
Jack: No, that’s exactly where he was three months ago.
Lindsey: So that means we really did learn how to do what he did?
Joshua: Does this level of power seem strange to you anymore?
Lindsey: No. This is about what we’re doing during intense training sessions now.
Joshua: Good! Then I’ve made a difference, haven’t I?
Jack: He’s still the strongest one here, though, but the difference between Chris and everyone else isn’t as radical.
-The wind picks up suddenly from behind Chris.
Austin: Hey what’s up?
-Intense light momentarily blinds everyone as the quaking begins again, this time blowing the nearby trees so hard some of them crack and split down the middle.
-Everyone, including Chris, is having a hard time keeping their footing, finding themselves at risk of being blown away from the force coming from Derek.
-Pulse discharges surround Derek as he stands maxed out, the snow around him completely melted.
Chris: (Finally gets a good look at Derek. He smiles). Dang Derek, you just couldn’t let it go, could you?
Derek: (Also smiling). You know me.
Joshua: Alright! Enough, enough! Before my house blows away already!
-Derek lets out a sigh and returns to his normal state of calm.
Joshua: I think that’s all for today. Oh wait! Chris, you said you had news, correct?
Chris: Yeah it-
-Chris suddenly stops and remembers what Charles had said to him.
Charles: Wherever you and your friends are hiding, and I don’t want to know where that is, but wherever that may be, just stay there… if you fought right now, you’d expend a lot of units, making the full-scale attack severely lacking and cause me to have wasted my time. I was okay with the Locust Virus being a waste, and the Hex-Duo robots weren’t something I was proud of, but this time it needs to happen. The sooner this is all over…well the sooner this is all over.
Chris: I’ll consider the option for a by on this fight.
Charles: Please do.
Chris: Your robots attack me again, I’ll be fine. I can handle that. They attack my friends or someone else, then we have a problem.
Charles: Stay as far away from the city as you can for as long as you can.
Chris: I can’t and won’t make promises to someone who’s most likely an enemy, however nice he may be at the moment.
Charles: Then you really are perceptive.
-Back to the present.
Austin: Hey Chris, speak up man. Is there anything we should know?
Chris: No. Nothing all that interesting. I’ll tell you later.
-The group heads into the Lodge to rest as Chris continues thinking how easy it would be to just avoid the next conflict altogether.
-To Be Continued…