Eclipse Star: Chapter 70
Recap: When we last left off, the Hex-Duo army was finally put down for good. All Charles Robotics facilities in Trillium City were wiped out and every robot was turned to scrap. Even the Octa-Rangers and their Super Octa-Zord didn’t stand a chance. Now the group flies back to the Northern Lodge to meet up with Iess and his group, though they’re two members larger: Chris’ grandmother and Octavious’ son, Maximilian!
-The group lands outside the Northern Lodge, setting Chris’ grandma down but keeping a firm grip on Maximilian.
-Jack greets them, walking out the front door on his own.
Jack: Mission accomplished, eh?
-Lindsey’s eyes grow huge as she realizes Jack is walking again.
Lindsey: Jack! Holy cow, you’re walking! (She dives at him and gives him a big hug). When did this happen?
Jack: A few hours ago. Joshua helped.
Austin: Hey, great to have you back on your feet.
Joshua: (In Jack’s earbud). Glad to hear you finally trust me!
Jack: (Surprised, holding his ear). What the heck? How are you…?
Joshua: Hey, you made these earbud things sound so cool, so I made one for myself. Sounds like it works great!
Jack: Yeah well, the others are back.
Joshua: Oh good! I’ll be out right- (Walks out the front door). Now. (Opens his arms wide). Welcome back! How did the mission go?
Kyle: If I may speak for everyone, and I will, I’d say this was a smashing success.
Chris: We even managed to nab Max, too.
Joshua: Max? New team member?
Leena: No, we don’t need any more of those.
Jack: Max is Octavious’ son. (Smiles). This is great. Now we have leverage.
Chris: Should we wake him up?
Joshua: Bring him into the couch room.
-Everyone follows Joshua as he leads them into the main sitting room with all the comfy couches.
Joshua: Go ahead and put him there on the blue couch. And who broke his arms?
Lindsey: (Sheepishly raises her hand). Uh, that’d be me.
Jack: (Whispers). Nice.
Lindsey: (Whispers back, giggling). Thanks, those elbow blades you gave me really helped.
Jack: Glad to hear it.
Joshua: First then, we fix those arms. (Joshua pulls out a first-aid kit and bandages Max’s arms, then moves his hands over the wounds while humming). Okay, now we can wake him up.
Derek: Wait. (Walks up to Max and grabs his belt, pulling it off). There, now he’s fine.
Danny: Uh, should we all start taking parts of his clothing off?
Derek: No you moron! What do I look like? Some sort of gay dude?
Joshua: Hush Derek.
Austin: Danny, Max has one of those belts that can teleport him somewhere. The other Octa-Rangers had those, remember?
Danny: Oh yeah!
Jack: So let’s wake him up. Who’s doing the honors?
Scott: (Walks up to Max, pulls some smelling salts from his pocket, and waves them under Max’s nose). Wakey-wakey, eggs and bakey.
Max: (Slowly comes to). Wha…? (Realizes where he is). Whoa! How did I get here?!
Leena: Where did you get smelling salts…?
Scott: I’ve found it’s always a smart idea to keep something like that around, knowing my habits and all.
Jack: (Sits himself down in front of Max). Do you recognize my face? Do you remember me from the Legion?
Max: (Squints). …Yes, Jack Voss. (Looks around). And the other kids famous for ruining my father’s plans. I assume this means I’m your captive?
Chris: It would sure seem that way.
Max: Oh, and then it was you that beat me, again?
Chris: Nope, it was her, again. (Nods toward Lindsey).
Lindsey: (Waves). Hey Maxie.
Max: Ugh…my father will never let me live this down…
Jack: You’ve got bigger problems to worry about. We need to know a few things, the first concerning the Demon Regime’s next plans.
Max: May I have a glass of water.
Jack: (Acting tough). You haven’t earned the right to have water.
Kevin: I’ll go get him some water.
Jack: Hey, no, you’re undermining my interrogation here!
Willy: Jack, he’s completely docile. I think some water is fine.
Max: I’m severely outnumbered, I don’t know where I am, and at the moment I’d rather not see my father, so I’m your prisoner as much as you’d like me to be. Tie my hands if you don’t believe me.
Barbara: He seems like a pretty nice boy. You should ask him to join your little club!
All: (Annoyed). No.
Kevin: (Hands Max a glass of water). Here you go.
Max: Thank you. (Drinks). So, you wanted to know what the Regime does next?
Max: No idea. That’s father’s business, not mine.
Jack: Where is the Regime stationed in Trillium City?
Max: What makes you think we’re stationed there?
Jack: Your attack came from within the city and the others escaped via those teleporter belts, which couldn’t have let you travel very far.
Max: So you know about the teleporter belts? I mean specifics and the like?
Jack: A friend of mine gave me some prototypes to play with about a year ago. The tech wasn’t all there, but the application showed that the best hope was short-range teleportation. Long-range wasn’t possible.
Max: True. There’s a base in Trillium, just like there’s a Legion base in Brooksboro.
Jack: How much do you know about that?
Max: I was in charge of the Legion for a brief few days; I know about the fallback plans. (Takes another drink of water). And no, your next question regards my level of control over the Legion and the answer is no, I’m completely disconnected. The Oca-Ranger stunt a few months ago insured I was shamed away from that position, thankfully.
Derek: Wait, “thankfully?” If I were in charge, I wouldn’t be so happy to let it go.
Max: Yes well, I assume you’d be in charge for legitimate reasons, right? See how loyal everyone acts when you gain a leadership position by happenstance.
Jack: Family-related conspiracy isn’t what I’d consider happenstance.
Max: It is if you’re not the one planning it.
Kyle: This is getting boring. I’m getting a sandwich. Anyone else want a sandwich?
Max: Look, use me as your bargaining chip or whatever, but I’m in no hurry to leave, so tie me up and plan this rationally. You have my father in the perfect position for your side, so don’t waste it.
-At this moment, the sound of four new party members landing just outside can be heard.
Chris: That sounds like Iess and his group.
Joshua: I’d better go speak with them. Glitch?
Glitch: Yes Josh?
Joshua: Could you take our new guest up to one of the rooms on the top floor?
Glitch: Sure thing.
-Joshua leaves the room. Glitch grabs Max and takes him upstairs. Jack, Chris, and Derek follow.
Lindsey: I think I’ll join them up there. You coming?
Leena: Pass. I’d rather not be around all your various crushes at the same time.
Lindsey: What? I’m only dating Jack.
Leena: And toying with Chris and now you’re fawning over Max. Whatever.
Lindsey: Yeah, whatever indeed. (She walks upstairs).
Leena: You forgot your bladey things!
Lindsey: So go sharpen them or something! (Gone).
Leena: Oh she’s funny.
Chris: (Walking down one of the upstairs hallways with Derek). Hey Derek, you feel like going on a totally reckless mission, just the two of us?
Derek: (Sees Chris holding up Max’s teleportation belt and smiles). Progressive action. You’d think you were a whole new character.
Chris: Sooner we get this whole larger thing over with, the sooner we can focus on finding your dad.
-Chris and Derek nod to Glitch as they run into a side room and leap out the window, taking off at full speed to the city once more.
Lindsey: (Joining Jack and Glitch in Max’s new room). Hey, where’d Double Dragon just fly off to?
Max: (Settling in). Double Dragon?
Lindsey: Oh right, a girl can’t make geeky references? Also, shut up.
Jack: They’re taking care of any loose ends from the Hex-Duo fallout, which is surprising. Chris isn’t usually the assertive one, but that’s what I like to see.
Lindsey: Feeling jealous?
Jack: Right now I’m just happy to walk again. (Smiles). Hey, come outside with me.
-Lindsey smiles and follows Jack as they hop out Max’s window.
Max: Does anyone around here use stairs and doors or are you all a bunch of savages?
Glitch: (Shrugs). Savages, mostly.
-Jack grabs Lindsey’s hand and flies into the woods a bit with her.
Lindsey: So where we going?
Jack: There’s something I want to show you.
Lindsey: It isn’t in your pants is it? Because this isn’t the sexiest way to introduce me to that.
Jack: No, nothing like that. (Thinks). No, nothing like that.
-They land in between some trees a ways from the lodge.
-Jack grabs her and presses his body against hers, throwing her up against the side of a tree as he begins to make out with her. She doesn’t put up any sort of a fight.
-After a few moments of non-cool non-superpowered-action stuff, the two can’t help but smile at each other like idiots.
Lindsey: You should really tell me stuff like that more often.
Jack: Wait, bigger surprise.
-Jack grabs Lindsey’s hand again and places it on his chest.
Lindsey: Uh, I still stand by what I said earlier…
-Jack closes his eyes as he begins breathing heavier. The hairs all over his body prick up as a current of energy rushes to Lindsey, prickling her hairs as well.
-Jack’s chest glows intensely bright, enough so that Lindsey has to shield her eyes with her other hand.
-The ground starts humming from the output of Jack’s Pulse.
Jack: So, what do you think?
Lindsey: Wow, I don’t get it; you haven’t been training for months, so how are you this strong now?
Jack: I’ve been paying attention. What you guys did wasn’t purely physical. I noticed a lot of it was mental and did the exercises myself at night.
Lindsey: This is just…I don’t know.
Jack: You sound disappointed.
Lindsey: No, I’m really not. (Smiles). I just can’t figure you out.
Jack: I’ll try and help more.
-They continue to engage in really boring, high school romancy make out sessions with cooing and ahhing and blah, ugh, forget them, making-out’s gross! More plot!
Barbara: (Back with the plot in the sitting room). What’s all this about toying with Chris?
Austin: It’s a long story.
Barbara: So Chris finally said something to her?
Austin: Not exactly. (Thinks). No wait, I think he did. I forget how it happened. Anyway, things are out in the open but nothing got resolved.
Barbara: That’s a shame; I always thought they’d be cute together. She’s dating this Jack guy?
Danny: Yeah. He’s sort of a jerk.
Barbara: Ah, so that’s why she’s dating him.
Leena: (Slumps down). Pretty much, yeah. (Picks up Lindsey’s elbow blades). Jack even found her some weapon things.
Kyle: Oh yeah! I forgot something! (Runs up to Leena and pulls out some bladed throwing objects). I got these for you yesterday from the same place Chris got those elbow blades for Lindsey.
Leena: Hold on, Chris got Lindsey those stupid things? (Pause). And you’re just now giving me my gift? Gimmie.
Danny: Why didn’t Chris use his sword today?
Austin: What, the Rachel Blade? (Snickers). Probably better that way.
Barbara: The Rachel Blade?
Kevin: Last night a number of us found a cave a few miles north of here. One of the larger rooms was filled with weapons of all sorts, so Chris selected a sword and named it Rachel.
Austin: He seems to love that name.
Willy: Probably just a placeholder for “Lindsey.”
Barbara: No, I don’t think that’s it.
Austin: I know he’s your grandson, but you’ve got to understand, he’s still kind of a goober about Lindsey.
Barbara: Oh I understand that he’s a goober, but this is something else. Has he ever mentioned Rachel before?
Leena: He tries to name things Rachel all the time.
Barbara: No I mean the actual Rachel.
Austin: (Intensely curious). Actual Rachel? No, never.
Barbara: (Sigh). Rachel is a friend of his from childhood.
Barbara: No, very real.
Leena: And what, she wasn’t in love with him, either?
Barbara: No, she passed away.
-The room is awkwardly silent.
Barbara: He was around seven when it happened…
-The scene fades to white as Barbara continues talking, flashing back to Chris’ childhood.
Barbara Narration: Rachel was a neighbor girl who lived just down the street. We went to church with her family every Sunday and the two of them would usually play when they got home. They were also very cute together. Chris didn’t really have any other friends at the time. It was hard for him since he liked to stay indoors if he could help it. He just wasn’t the adventurous time back then.
-The scene shows Chris lying on the living room rug playing with action figures as a knock comes at the door. He runs to it.
Chris: Who’s there?
Rachel: (From the other side). It’s me! Chris, come out and play!
-Chris opens the door and reveals a seven-year-old girl about his height with brown hair hanging past her shoulders. She’s dressed in outdoorsy clothes.
Barbara Narration: Rachel was the only one able to get him to do anything. Her parents let her run around all the time and she felt the need to drag Chris around with her to the woods and stuff. It was good for them.
-Rachel leads Chris by the hand into a heavily forested area across a field.
Rachel: C’mon! I wanna show you something!
Chris: What is it?
Rachel: Something cool!
-Rachel stops running and begins coughing.
Chris: Rachel? Rach? What’s wrong?
Rachel: Just a cough. (Stops coughing and smiles again). Now don’t lose me!
-She takes off running, leaving Chris in the dust. After running a ways they come across a church in the middle of nowhere, completely rundown and abandoned.
Chris: (Entirely out of breath). This…this is it?
Rachel: Yeah! Isn’t it cool?!
Chris: It’s just a building.
Rachel: It’s a church! Isn’t it weird that there’s a church in the middle of the woods?
Chris: I guess?
Rachel: What do you think it was for?
Chris: Sunday School?
Rachel: Ew, who would build a church out here for Sunday School?
Rachel: Or bandits! OOH! Bandits!
-Rachel takes off running into the church, completely disregarding how dilapidated it is.
Chris: Hey we shouldn’t be here!
Rachel: But I wanna check for bandit gold.
Chris: Bandits don’t go to church though.
Rachel: They go to bandit church. Who else would build a church out here?
-As Rachel starts to look around, she begins coughing quietly again. She takes a few steps forward and trips as a few floorboards give way.
-The sound of hissing instantly begins coming from everywhere as it becomes apparent that Rachel has stepped into a den of snakes.
-She becomes silent as a large snake sits up, ready to strike.
-Chris slams a chunk of wood down on the snake’s head. He grabs Rachel’s hand and runs her out of the church.
Rachel: I don’t think bandits went to church there.
Rachel: Because bandits hate snakes.
Chris: Jesus hates snakes, too.
Rachel: Only bad snakes. Those were good snakes.
Chris: How can you tell?
Rachel: Because they let you smash them. Bad snakes bite first.
-The two run back home as the scene fades into the next, showing Chris and Rachel seated next to each other at church.
Barbara Narration: The two of them always sat together during Sunday services, and afterward they’d sit and try to make sense of whatever the pastor said that morning.
Rachel: So do you think Heaven is really that bright and shiny?
Chris: I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. Why would he lie about all that?
Rachel: Well, he’s never seen it.
Chris: I haven’t either, so I don’t know.
Rachel: I think I saw it once. It was really nice. (She starts coughing again).
Chris: Do you think killing that snake is going to keep me from getting into Heaven?
Rachel: No, God knows you did it because you were scared.
Chris: I wasn’t scared!
Rachel: Then why did you kill that snake?
Chris: It was gonna bite you!
Rachel: Maybe. Oh well, God will forgive you. He knows you didn’t mean it.
-Rachel begins coughing again. It sounds worse than the previous times.
Barbara Narration: At one point Chris and I went to church but Rachel wasn’t there. We asked the pastor and he told us her family was in the hospital with her. I took Chris over after the service but when we got there things didn’t look good.
-Barbara walks Chris into a hospital wing to see Rachel. She is hooked up to a number of machines with her mother and father looking distraught.
Barbara Narration: Rachel always suffered from coughs but it just seemed like she had asthma.
Chris: What’s wrong with her?
-Rachel’s mother begins crying. The father holds his wife and turns away.
Doctor: Who are you?
Chris: I’m her friend! Tell me what’s wrong with her!
Doctor: Look, if you’re not family, you need to leave.
Barbara: Tell the boy what’s wrong with his friend. What’s so wrong with that?
-Rachel looks over from the bed and sees Chris. She starts waving at him as she takes off her ventilator.
Rachel: (Extremely weak). Chris…c’mere.
-Chris walks over to Rachel’s side. As the doctor starts to say something, Barbara grabs his shoulder and gives him a dirty look. He shrugs and walks away.
Chris: Why are you in the hospital? Did you go back to see the snakes?
Chris: Then what’s wrong?
Rachel: I don’t know… It hurts to breath…
-The scene elapses over time showing Chris coming and going day after day, month after month as Rachel gets progressively worse.
-Things stop for one last scene.
Rachel: Do you think I’m gonna die…?
Chris: No. I’ve been praying for you, so God won’t let you die.
Rachel: You think that’ll work…?
Chris: It should.
Rachel: Then why am I still sick…?
Chris: Because…maybe because I killed that snake. This is all my fault I bet.
Rachel: (She weakly shakes her head). You saved me…
Chris: Then I’ll save you again! (Chris dives onto Rachel’s bed and starts praying over her). If I pray hard enough, it’ll work! God will help! He has to!
-Rachel begins coughing again.
Chris: He wouldn’t just let you die! He can’t! He’s not like that!
Rachel: Do you think Heaven looks really nice…?
Chris: No! I don’t! And you don’t need to see it! (He closes his eyes and keeps praying as tears stream down his face).
Rachel: What if God doesn’t fix me…?
Chris: He always fixes people.
Rachel: What happens if He doesn’t…?
Chris: He will. I know He will. He has to.
Rachel: You can’t help me…
Chris: Yes I can!
Rachel: God isn’t going to help, either…
Chris: He has to! He has to…
Rachel: I can’t see anything anymore…
Rachel: I…I can’t breathe…
Doctor: (Walks into the room). You need to give her some time to rest.
Chris: She’s going to be okay!
Doctor: Come back tomorrow and you can see her again.
-Rachel’s eyes flitter closed as she struggles to breathe. The doctor takes notice and starts checking her.
Doctor: Rachel, hon, is everything okay?
-She doesn’t respond. Suddenly all her monitors begin going nuts as she begins seizing.
Chris: What’s happening?
Doctor: (He hits a call button next to the bed). Code Blue! I need some help in here!
Chris: What’s happening?!
Doctor: (Trying to help Rachel wake up). You need to get out of here.
Chris: But I can help-
Doctor: No you can’t! Now go wait with your grandma!
-Chris gets shoved out of the room as nurses flood in to help Rachel. He stands right outside as she cotinues convulsing and eventually stops moving altogether.
-After a few minutes of desperately trying to resuscitate her while the monitors blare a flatline tone, the doctor finally stops and checks the clock.
Doctor: Time of death, 3:18 pm.
-Chris stands dumbfounded, looking at his lifeless friend lying there.
-The doctor looks up and realizes Chris is still standing in the doorway. He walks over and tries to pull him away.
-The scene plays in silence as Chris breaks free from the doctor and rushes to Rachel’s side, crying and screaming as he tries to do anything to wake her up.
-The doctor and some nurses restrain Chris and pull him away as the scene fades out.
-The scene fades back in at the Northern Lodge.
Barbara: Rachel died from a terminal form of lung cancer. There was nothing anyone could do.
Austin: I never heard about this…
Barbara: I don’t suppose you would. Chris hasn’t brought it up since he was little.
Kevin: Is that why he stopped coming to church?
Barbara: We had a few shouting arguments when he was still young, but ultimately I agreed with him that there was clearly no point to go back. All it did was make him miserable to go to church without his best friend. It wasn’t helping his already strained relationship with God to associate his place of worship with awful feelings.
Kevin: I can understand that much.
Scott: Uh, I don’t want to sound like a jerk…no more than usual…but was it, uh, (he coughs and pulls out a pack of cigarettes, pointing at them quietly).
Barbara: No, Rachel’s family never smoked.
Scott: Oh good. Well I mean, not good, but at least, yeah…
Leena: Well then what caused the cancer?
Barbara: No clue.
Danny: The moral of this story isn’t that God causes cancer, right?
Austin: Well, He sure as hell doesn’t cure it.
Barbara: The moral of this story is that Chris is kind of a goober and he doesn’t handle death very well.
Kevin: (Thinking to himself). That’s why he hates being in a leadership role.
Kevin: Well isn’t it obvious? He doesn’t trust that God has his back in any situation, so whenever we push him forward he feels that he’s standing completely alone.
Leena: May I point out this also explains his obsession with Lindsey’s well being?
Austin: (Smacks his head). Oh man! Of course! He’s using Lindsey as a substitute for Rachel! Since he couldn’t save Rachel, he has to save Lindsey. Or at least, he thinks he has to. This makes so much sense!
Willy: So do we tell her?
Leena: No. Absolutely not.
Kyle: Wouldn’t that solve everything though? Lindsey’s a girl and girls melt at that sort of sentiment, therefore she’d leave Jack and be with Chris, making him and by proxy all of us very happy.
Danny: I like this plan!
Leena: Well I don’t. It’s manipulating emotions and we don’t even know if this is really as deep-seeded as it sounds.
Willy: She at least deserves to know.
Austin: Not until we talk to Chris about it.
Barbara: Please, don’t make Chris talk about it if he doesn’t want to. I’ve seen it shred him up inside and I’d rather not see it happen again.
Kyle: So this is going to wind up being one of those “Keep it under our hats until it has to be said” sort of things, huh?
Austin: I Guess so.
Clinton: I don’t buy it.
Austin: What don’t you buy?
Clinton: I don’t agree that this explains everything about Chris. If he’s driven to save everybody, wouldn’t he want to be in a leadership position? It only makes sense.
Leena: Nothing anyone ever does makes sense to anyone other than the person doing it, and usually not even that. End rant. I’m going to bed. (She walks up the stairs and into one of the rooms).
Joshua: (Walks into the room at this point). Well that was a total waste.
Austin: What was?
Joshua: Oh nothing. Iess and his group are gone though, so you don’t have to worry about them anymore for a while.
Scott: Hey, that’s good news. (Unsure). That’s good news, right?
Willy: (Also unsure). Uh, I think so.
Kevin: So what do we do now?
Joshua: Leena has the right idea with sleep. There’s not much anyone can do until Chris and Derek get back from whatever they think they’re doing.
Barbara: Where did Chris go?
Joshua: Fighting the good fight. He’ll be fine. You’re welcome to stay here if you’d like, by the way.
Barbara: Thank you. I might as well since my house is in splinters.
Austin: You know, we can help you rebuild that when we get the chance.
Scott: Better idea: We get the Legion to build her a new house.
Barbara: With the shoddy work they’ve been doing lately, maybe not.
Kyle: Hahaha, I like Chris’ grandma.
Barbara: Alright, I’m picking a room and setting up camp. Goodnight everyone. (Walks up the stairs and into a room).
Austin: Well Josh, what’s the most important thing we need to know?
Joshua: Hmm…you need some sleep. Badly.
Danny: Ah! That means something really bad is going to happen! …Right?
Willy: I think it means we need sleep.
-Everyone seems to filter out of the room. Only Austin and Kyle remain.
Kyle: Who talks to Chris about Rachel?
Austin: I’ll do it. Just not right away. I’ll give him a few nights to recover, then I’ll approach the subject gently.
Kyle: (Leans back into the couch). How long you think it’ll take the Wonder Twins to wrap things up?
Austin: (Leans back as well). Probably close to morning. It takes about three hours to fly down and three to fly back, assuming they aren’t exhausted. Plus add a couple hours for dealing with…whatever they’re heading into. So yeah, morning at the earliest if everything goes well.
Kyle: Then let’s hope it goes well.
-The scene shifts to Chris and Derek flying south toward the city.
Derek: I bet this belt’s gonna teleport us underground.
Chris: I’d be disappointed if it didn’t.
Derek: Chance we’ll be severely outnumbered?
Chris: Pretty high.
Derek: Good. I was worried this might be boring.
Chris: Do we have a specific plan on what to do when we get in there?
Derek: Take out the base, head back north, victory Sundaes. That’s my current schedule.
Chris: Sounds good to me. (Pulls out Max’s belt). Shall we?
-Derek claps a hand on Chris’ shoulder as they near the city.
Derek: Let’s do this.
-Chris presses the button on the belt, causing he and Derek to vanish without a trace.
–To Be Continued…