Eclipse Star: Chapter 74
Recap: Last time, as the group fought to suppress Syrus’ loyal soldiers, Chris, Jack, Austin, and Glitch made their way to the chamber housing the Eclipse Star, a chamber that was empty save for a single pedestal. Syrus arrived to challenge Chris to a fight but during the scuffle, Chris hacked the pedestal in half, revealing the Eclipse Star inside. Syrus immediately grasped the all-important item and brought the temple down on Chris’ group. Everyone on the outside watched helplessly as the structure fully collapsed while Syrus flew off for Trillium City. Is this really the end?
-Lindsey and the others frantically grab rubble and throw rocks to the side, desperate to clear as much out as possible.
Lindsey: C’mon, we’ve got to get them out!
Leena: Hon, I don’t know what to say. I don’t think it’s happening.
Scott: She’s right. Structurally speaking, that much debris falling all at once is enough to crush anything, even Jack’s barrier thing.
Lindsey: Shut up! (She continues to dig as tears well up in her eyes. She gradually begins to take on a more liquid form as she loses control of her emotions).
-The others continue throwing debris aside, partly to placate Lindsey, and partly because there is always that strange hope.
-Meanwhile, deep underground…
Glitch: You guys okay?
-Glitch clicks on his chest, illuminating the now very small space.
-The other three, all huddled close together, are surprised to see a barrier field surrounding them, easily sustaining itself and keeping the structure from crushing the four.
Jack: I’m not doing that. Who’s doing that?
Chris: I have no idea.
Glitch: Oh? The energy field? I saw you do your technique enough, plus I have some of your memories and DNA on file in my data. It wasn’t until just now that I had a viable reason to implement my findings.
Glitch: I suppose I could turn it off and crush you guys. How ‘bout that?
Austin: Haha! No, that’s perfectly fine!
Jack: You have no problem holding that shield up?
Glitch: Nope. My energy recycles itself, so I could keep this field up for as long as I need to.
Chris: Well great, I guess we can set up a nice life at the bottom of a caved-in pit. That sounds like a great plan.
Austin: Ah c’mon. There’s always a way out.
Chris: Do you see one?
Austin: Nope, but I’m not the guy who just sees stuff and pieces everything together. That’d be one of my roommates from this caved-in pit I live in.
Chris: Okay, it’s worth a shot.
-Chris begins scanning all around the protective bubble, looking for anything that could help them.
Chris: Glitch, you said your energy recycles itself?
Glitch: Yes. I recently gave myself a few modifications.
Chris: What happens if we fire energy blasts from in here?
Glitch: They’d bounce around inside the shield, most likely striking us and compacting into a denser, more powerful explosion.
Chris: Can you generate more than one field at a time?
Glitch: I suppose it wouldn’t be impossible.
Chris: Which way is north?
Glitch: Er…that way. (Points).
Chris: Okay. (Chris cups his hands together and starts charging an energy blast).
Austin: Uh, what are you doing?
Chris: You mind adding to this?
Austin: I’m not great with science, but I heard something about explosions inside our little bubble getting bigger.
Chris: Jack, you too, please.
Austin: (Shakes his head and starts charging something as well). You’d better know what you’re doing.
Chris: I never know what I’m doing.
Austin: Which is where all the fun happens.
-Jack also charges an energy blast. The three meet their hands together as they charge.
Chris: Glitch, I’m gonna need you to shield this stuff in about three seconds.
-Right as the three are about to discharge their blasts, Glitch creates a field around the explosion. The energy begins surging within the little bubble, growing brighter and brighter.
-Chris grabs the energy ball and forces it into the ground near their feet.
Chris: Jack, you might want to throw up an energy shield of your own.
-The four huddle closer together as the ground begins glowing. While Glitch shrinks the energy field around the four, Jack throws up his own. At this point they are barely separated from the glowing explosion waiting to happen.
Derek: We need to call it. Syrus is only getting further and further away at this point.
Lindsey: And you’re just going to let your friends die?!
Derek: In those words: Yes. If I get to stop Syrus, then yes.
-The ground once again begins quaking violently.
Leena: Great, what now?
-The backside of the Forest Temple blows wide open as a spinning ball of death hurls from the explosion, landing just a few feet from everyone.
-Everyone hits the deck as more debris begins raining on them.
-The spinning ball of death stops spinning and comes to a stop nearby. Chris, Austin, Jack, and Glitch are inside, reeling but okay.
Chris: Glitch, could you drop your shield so I can throw up properly?
Glitch: Yeah. (Click).
Chris: Thank you. (Sick).
-The others run up to see what the commotion is.
Kyle: Well holy shit. You guys aren’t dead. Pay me. (Scott pulls some cash from his pocket and reluctantly hands it to Kyle).
Lindsey: (Grabs Jack). Are you guys crazy?! I thought you were dead! You can’t just DO that to me!
Jack: Calm down, we’re okay.
Chris: Syrus didn’t harm any of you, did he?
Derek: No, he left straight for the city.
Chris: Damnit! Even at full speed we can’t catch him!
Jack: I think I can do it.
Derek: Yeah, I’d like to see this.
Jack: I’ve been playing with the electricity abilities and I’m sure I can transform into a bolt of lightning, similar to how Lindsey and Kevin can change into water.
Chris: How much energy would that take?
Jack: I haven’t had a chance to really use this yet, but I’m pretty sure it’ll get me to Syrus with enough Pulse left for one good smash. After that, I’m completely worthless.
Lindsey: Then it’s not an option.
Lindsey: (Smacks him). No, you don’t. How badly do you want to get killed?
Derek: We don’t have time to argue. You either go now or the city’s a crater.
-Jack quickly kisses Lindsey and waves to the others.
Lindsey: Jack wait!
Jack: (Points at the group). You better be right on my ass for cover.
-Jack converts himself to an electrical form, zapping across the sky toward Trillium.
-The others instantly take to the air as well, following the trail left by the energy bolt. In mere seconds, Jack is no longer visible.
-Meanwhile, Syrus continues flying by himself, looking over the Eclipse Star as it glows in his hand.
Syrus: I find it rather odd that so many have failed to use this properly. I hardly feel any different at all. (Looks over his arms). I feel a power surge, yes, but I’m still in control of my actions. Were the others just too moronic to perform simple tasks?
-As Chris’ group flies, once again, no one is speaking.
Leena: (Quietly nudging Kyle as they fly near the back). What, no Eye Spy?
Kyle: I’m not really good at that game, truth be told. Kind of runs in the family. Also diabetes, so we’ll have to get our kids checked for that.
Leena: I don’t mean to sound all weird or anything, but, uh, if I were buried under a whole structure, let’s say an ancient temple or something, would you be freaking out like Lindsey did?
Leena: (Annoyed). No, I’m really buried right now. You’re just suffering from a diabetic coma.
Kyle: That would explain a lot…but if you were trapped, yes, I’d be freaked. I mean, our kids need a mother and all.
Leena: Okay, those kid jokes? Don’t make those.
Kyle: Can’t you just turn into air or something?
Leena: I’m not following.
Kyle: Lindsey’s got that water thing going, Jack’s a spark of thunder right now-
Leena: Thunder is the noise, lightning is the thing.
Kyle: Whatever, you’re really good with those wind abilities; can’t you change into wind?
Leena: Haven’t tried, so I have no clue.
Kyle: Well, if you get buried alive, give it a shot. It might just work out.
Leena: That’s…actually that’s pretty smart.
Kyle: Our kids will definitely be smart.
-This is the last anyone speaks until they get to the city. Inner monologues, however, those are still just as talkative as ever.
Chris’ Monologue: I can see everything happening in my head before we even arrive. I see Syrus standing before so many of my broken friends, and I…I don’t know what I’m expected to do. We’re walking into something horrible, and if we manage to get out of this, we’re not going to be the same people that went in.
-The images of Syrus breaking his friends plays over and over in his mind, speeding up faster and faster until Chris finally shuts his eyes tight before reopening them, a look of intense anger on his face.
Chris’ Monologue: I’m not letting that happen, no matter what.
-Syrus views Trillium as he approaches.
Syrus: It is time.
-He flies to the center of the city, tucking the Eclipse Star into a fold in his clothing. He hovers above the buildings, staring.
Syrus: With Trillium gone, the war ends. And then everything else becomes so simple.
-He throws a hand out, pointing his palm down at the city as energy begins to accumulate around his hand.
-The sky starts to cloud as a rainstorm becomes inevitable.
-Syrus’ hand shakes every so slightly as he reaches maximum strength.
Syrus: All so simple…
-Right as Syrus unleashes his blast, Jack pounds him with his body’s full force, bowing Syrus backwards and hurling his energy blast into the air.
-It sails up, up up…
-Syrus centers himself as he turns around, seeing nothing.
Syrus: Now where did he run off to…?
-Jack brings both feet down onto Syrus’ head, throwing him sailing down to the pavement below.
-He lands with a smash before standing completely upright.
-Jack is once more gone.
-As the group continues flying a ways off, Lindsey becomes flush with goosebumps.
Lindsey: Jack’s in trouble already.
Derek: That soon?
Lindsey: We’ve got to hurry.
-She takes off at a speed that has her screaming across the sky, distancing herself by a wide margin with the others.
-Back in the center of the city…
Syrus: Alright Jack, is that it? Are you out of lightning tricks? Couldn’t have been so easy to follow me at that speed, could it?
-People on the street are looking around, extremely confused as to why a man in black clothing is yelling to a person they can’t see.
-Around a corner, Jack peers around silently, panting deep in his chest.
Syrus: You’ve done quite well delaying me, haven’t you? So are you ready to keep fighting?
-Jack starts running around the building to strike again.
Syrus: I don’t think so!
-Syrus leaps straight through the building, looming overhead Jack in an instant.
-As the building starts swaying, the crowds of people on the street suddenly realize everything is very wrong.
-Jack grounds himself and throws a strong punch straight up at Syrus.
Syrus: Oh Jack, poor Jack.
-Jack looks up to see Syrus holding his fist without any effort.
-Syrus sweeps a kick underneath him and boots Jack in his entire body, knocking Jack down the block.
-Following this, Syrus imbeds his fist into Jack’s stomach up to the wrist, pinning Jack to the ground.
Syrus: Would you like to call out for help maybe? I’m somewhat curious.
-Jack grabs Syrus’ head with both hands and discharges a jolt of electricity.
-Syrus recoils as Jack slips away, kicking Syrus in the head as he moves.
-With eyes closed, Syrus catches Jack’s foot.
Syrus: Foolish boy.
-Syrus throws Jack into the air and points straight upwards.
Syrus: I hope you’ve made your peace with God.
-An energy blast soars up at Jack. He has barely enough time to throw up his barrier technique, and even that provides minimal relief.
-He plummets back to the ground, hitting it hard and trying to roll to his feet.
-Syrus’ boot comes down on his back, keeping him held firmly in place.
Syrus: It feels good to be the hero again, doesn’t it?
Jack: (Weakly). More than you know…
-Syrus points his palm down at Jack, energy forming around it again.
Syrus: And who am I do deny you a hero’s exit?
-Lindsey tackles Syrus from behind with a solid punch.
-As she lands next to Jack, she points her index and middle finger at Syrus and fires three quick energy blasts, all three hitting their mark in the distance.
Lindsey: Don’t do something that stupid again, you understand?
Jack: (Smiles). And just how loudly did Chris yell when you sped off alone?
Lindsey: Pretty loudly.
-Syrus returns with a haymaker to Lindsey’s face, tossing her aside as Jack leaps back up with another punch.
-Jack’s punch connects as well, this one hitting Syrus in the ribs.
-Lindsey snaps right back, hitting Syrus in the head with a roundhouse kick.
-As Syrus rolls to a stop, Jack and Lindsey each start charging elemental attacks.
-Lindsey begins spraying Syrus with a jet of water as Jack plunges his hands into the stream, discharging a current of electricity.
-Syrus is hit with the full effect of this, bringing him to his knees as the attack ceases.
Lindsey: Good teamwork, no?
Syrus: (Laughing in his throat). And that’s it, isn’t it?
Syrus: (Looking up at her, smiling). That’s supposed to be enough to cripple me, right? And now I’m helpless? (He stands up, unharmed. Lindsey and Jack take a step back). Both of your Pulse energies are hard to read right now. Could that be because you’ve gotten so very good at hiding them? Or is it perhaps because you’re already so tired?
Lindsey: We’re not afraid of you!
Syrus: Hm, I’d assume not, what with the reinforcements arriving just in time.
-Syrus turns back to see the rest of the group landing in battle stances.
Chris: You guys hurt badly?
Jack: We’re tired, but we’ll be fine.
Syrus: Oh joy of joys. Will I be treated to a series one-on-one battles, or just a chaotic free-for-all?
Chris: We don’t have to do anything. All you have to do is put the Eclipse Star down and walk away.
Syrus: It’s too late for that; I’m too far gone.
Chris: No one’s ever too far gone.
Syrus: I am.
-The entire city block is shook to pieces beneath everyone’s feet as Syrus powers up, screaming as he does.
-Innocent bystanders too stupid to leave are caught in this chaos with few being saved as the teenagers quickly move to pick them into the air.
Derek: (Not holding anyone). You guys deal with the morons rubbernecking; I’m taking him on headfirst.
-Derek speeds into Syrus with his arms out, slamming into him and starting a volley of punches and kicks back and forth as the two wrestle through the air at high speeds.
Jack: Glitch, go start protecting the crowds. They’re your only priority.
-The others drop off their passengers a good ten blocks down.
Kevin: Everyone, please, you need to get as far away from here as possible!
Austin: Seriously, this whole area is about to keep shaking apart.
-Derek fights on even ground with Syrus, straining hard with every move to keep up. Syrus just smiles and plays along before grabbing Derek’s next two punches and headbutting him while still gripping his fists.
-Derek recoils but can’t break away. Syrus repeats this a few times.
-As Chris and Austin fly in behind them, Syrus turns and tosses Derek to Chris.
-As Chris catches Derek, Syrus punches him in the face, then kicks Austin.
-Danny and Willy come up behind Syrus, one attacking from high and the other attacking from low. Syrus simply spins sideways between them before firing two small energy blasts into their backs.
-This repeats multiple times as people attack from obvious angles, each getting countered and thrown to the side.
Chris’ Narration: We’re not hitting hard enough. We need to hit harder.
-He and Derek look at each other and nod before taking off in completely opposite directions.
-As Syrus blocks punches thrown by Scott, Chris comes up at his face.
-Syrus knocks Scott aside and throws up a block to Chris.
-Instantly, Chris moves to the side and darts in another direction.
-Syrus turns and sees Derek coming from his other side, once more throwing up a block and once more seeing his attacker change course and run in another direction.
-This continues happening over and over again.
-Eventually, as Derek is rushing towards Syrus, Lindsey comes from behind and clobbers Syrus with a double kick.
-Syrus turns to attack her but as he turns, he spies Chris running up again.
-Covering this new attack, Syrus leaves himself open for Kevin to elbow him in the side.
-Soon Syrus discovers that Chris and Derek aren’t actually attacking, meaning when Danny runs up to strike for the side, Syrus attacks his blind spot instead, tossing Danny aside, then Willy from the other side, and Leena from behind.
Syrus: Clever trick, but it still isn’t working!
Chris’ Narration: Harder then.
-Chris and Derek strike Syrus at the same time, one from either side.
-Syrus lets slip a painful growl as the two disappear just as quickly.
-Syrus is caught off guard yet again, this time getting struck in the back of the legs by Chris and in the head by Derek.
-He stands up, shaking this off, right before-
-He receives a slam in the hip by Derek and a punch to the head by Chris, spinning completely in the air.
-The tactic doesn’t work a fourth time as Syrus strikes both kids at once, knocking them back.
Syrus: Is that the best you can throw at me?!
-Syrus throws a haphazard energy blast in no particular direction.
-The attack levels a few buildings and rips up the street all around.
-All of the teenagers land, unharmed.
-Everyone converges on Syrus at once, slashing and firing energy blasts as fast as they can charge them.
-Syrus dodges and blocks as many as he can, knocking attackers aside when he can, but he’s still taking a lot of heavy shots in between.
Syrus: ENOUGH OF THIS!
-Syrus powers up, creating a shockwave around him that throws everyone away.
-The shockwave stays up as he starts charging energy in his hands.
Syrus: Can none of you deliver a true challenge?!
-Austin slams against the energy barrier, ricocheting off.
Austin: Can’t get through!
-Lindsey comes speeding down the block at full power, hitting the barrier with everything she’s got.
-Syrus looks up just as she punches through, her eyes ablaze, as she hits him full-force, carrying him with her down the strip.
Lindsey: How’s this for a challenge?
-Syrus smiles and taps acknowledgement to her.
Syrus: Well done indeed.
-He strikes her back, sending her head-over-heels into a painful faceplant.
-Syrus looks over his shoulder and tosses a quick energy ball as Derek sneaks up to attack.
-Derek brings out his sai just in time to create a sonic boom that bounces Syrus’ energy right back.
-As Syrus comes out of a hasty block, he looks to rush up at Derek, though doesn’t counter the kicks from both sides, one from Chris and one from Austin.
-Syrus reaches out and grab the two, but still gets hammered in the face by Jack.
-Syrus claps Chris and Austin against Jack before force pushing them away, right as he turns around to uppercut Kyle.
-Leena catches Kyle in the air and throws her other hand out, kicking up massive wind gusts.
-Syrus is forced to shield his face as the debris attempts to sting his face.
-With this as cover, Lindsey zips in with an energy blast charged.
-Syrus drops to his back and kicks her into the air.
-Lindsey spins like a top as she soars higher and higher.
-She finally comes to a stop, screams, and fires every ounce of power she has straight down in one explosive discharge.
-Syrus brings himself in tightly as the energy beam hammers down from above.
-Lindsey remains airborne and maintains her beam’s strength, trying to force Syrus down.
-Chris recovers from his last injury and quickly charges his Pulse before firing his own blast.
-His beam collides with Syrus, now struggling heavily under the force of two full-powered beams.
Chris: HELP HER!
-Derek joins with an energy beam at another angle.
-Everyone else fires their biggest and strongest energy blasts at Syrus, combining their powers together.
Chris: DON’T HOLD BACK!
-Syrus finally shows the slightest bit of fear as the dozen energy beams shred the area around him and push him lower and lower, breaking through any defenses he may still have.
-The massive combined energy attack detonates, blinding everyone in an instant.
-As the noise dissipates, the teenagers land, coughing from the smoke.
Derek: We get ‘im?!
-Everyone waits for the dust to clear, revealing a crater the size of a city block where Syrus once stood.
-They hardly have the strength to stand anymore, but they all begin laughing and celebrating.
Jack: (Kissing Lindsey). Not bad out there.
Lindsey: Oh shut up, that was awesome and you know it.
Chris: Glitch, what’s the status of the bystanders?
Glitch: I managed to clear the area. There were very few casualties.
Austin: Hey, we’re okay though! We did it guys! Mission accomplished!
Derek: (Claps Chris’ hand in a tight handshake). We weren’t too bad working together there.
Chris: No kidding.
Derek: (Motions to the crater). You a little disappointed you didn’t get to go one-on-one with him?
Chris: No. Not even a little.
Derek: To each his own I guess.
-The group goes about limping around, checking on each other’s statuses. All the while, Chris keeps staring at the crater.
Kyle: Yo Chris, you’re kind of freaking me out here.
Chris: (Keeping his eyes fixated). Yeah.
Kyle: Uh, that wasn’t the reassurance I was looking for there.
-Chris continues watching the crater, starting to twitch a little.
-Everything becomes really quiet all of a sudden.
-The others take notice and also become silent.
Chris: (Breaking the eerie quiet as the camera zooms in on his face). It’s not over.
To Be Concluded!
Eclipse Star: Chapter 73
“The Eclipse Star, At Long Last”
Recap: Last time, Chris and Derek returned to the Northern Lodge after obliterating the Regime’s final Zanrethan bunker, but not before witnessing both an ominous red light to the south and feeling a sudden energy spike where they last left Octavious and Syrus. After discussing the situation with Max, Jack, Glitch, and Austin, they came to the realization that the Forest Temple, previously seen by Austin’s escaping group during the Hidden Plateau plotline, was in fact the default resting place of the Eclipse Star. It took this revelation to jog Chris’ thought process and piece together that Syrus had been knocked south after seeing the red light and, therefore, must be after the Eclipse Star. The group hurries to ready themselves against Syrus as he and his group of loyalists tromp into the ruins in search of the titular MacGuffin at long last: The Eclipse Star appears today!
Up North in each of the rooms, each of the teenagers collect themselves one final time within the past few days, getting ready to fly South and face whatever they find in the Forest Temple.
Derek pulls a leather jacket out from under his bed and reads the tag to himself. “Marshall.” He pauses on the name before throwing one arm through, then the other. He picks up his black sai and slips them through his belt.
Danny and Willy take turns stretching each other’s arms out, grasping their partner’s arms and slowly pulling them behind their back.
Clinton goes through the motions of suiting up in each piece of Legion armor he still owns, clipping boot clasps down before doing the same to thick glove clasps.
Scott sits by his open window, eyes closed, breathing deep as he nurses a cigarette. His eyes have dark bags under them but his face has a smile.
Jack stands before a mirror in his bathroom, fully suited in Legion SWAT gear, as the water runs. He begins going through the process of quickly dying his hair a golden blonde, flicking his head back to get a clear view in the mirror once the dye sets.
Leena checks her belongings one after another, picking pieces of clothing carefully. She sees the throwing discs Kyle gave her just a day ago, picks them up, and smiles. A note flicks under her door reading “Do you like me? Yes. No. Maybe?”
Leena’s door is thrown open, just catching Kyle at the end of the hall.
Leena: One date. You got it? And only if we come back. That sounds fair?
Kyle: (Immensely happy). Oh I am gonna charm the pants off you…er…figuratively speaking of course.
Kevin sits alone in his room, sitting with his legs up in the armchair. He has a Bible in his hand as he flips through pages, stopping every so often to smirk at passages he finds inspiring or topical. He hits one page and taps a finger down.
Kevin: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”
Austin goes through the kitchen preparing sandwiches in a hurried manner. Numerous pieces of bread lay open with various ingredients strewn about them. Joshua walks in and smiles, going into the fridge to pull out a whole turkey. Austin laughs and continues making food as Josh joins him.
Glitch sits in the corner of Max’s room, his arm casing open as he makes minor adjustments to his wiring. He catches Max looking dully at this. He looks up as if to say, “What?” Max just shrugs and looks away, leaning back on his bed to rest.
Barbara is bundled up in front of the fireplace in the main sitting room, gingerly sipping a cinnamon-flavored drink as she stares intently on the flames, never looking up. We keep catching glimpses of her conversation with Syrus within the flickering fire, further causing her focused and worried gaze.
Lindsey moves around her room, whipping her elbow blades around, practicing how best to use them, a look of incredible seriousness on her face. A quiet knock taps upon her half-creaked door. She stops, somewhat annoyed and breathing strong, as Chris pushes his head through the door as it hangs low. He can barely make eye contact with her.
Lindsey: (Dry). Yeah? What’s up?
Chris: I’m sorry.
Lindsey: You’re sorry?
Chris: I haven’t been fair to you and I know it. I’m crazy about you, but I should know that you’re with Jack. I have to accept that, and I haven’t done a very good job of doing just that.
Lindsey: Don’t say that you’re in love-
Chris: (Holds up a hand). I know, I know. I’m not here to push that. I just wanted to say that I…I’m okay with you and Jack.
Lindsey: (Somewhat sad). No you’re not.
Chris: But I want to be.
Lindsey: (Lets out a sigh and smiles). Then thank you.
-Chris walks up to her and grabs her, pulling her in for a tight hug.
Lindsey: (Still in the embrace). Thanks for not kissing me just-
Chris: (Interrupting). I’m scared.
Chris: I don’t know what’s going to happen with Syrus but I’m scared of what it could be.
Lindsey: We’ll be fine. We have him outnumbered by over a dozen and out powered by who knows how much.
Chris: I’m still scared.
Lindsey: (Looks Chris in the eyes). Tell you what: You make sure to watch my back and I’ll make sure to watch yours.
Chris: And what happens if Syrus is too much for either of us?
Lindsey: Then we let Derek play warrior instead. Besides. (Flexes her arm in a sarcastic manner). How is Syrus getting past these bad boys?
Chris: (Smiles weakly). Things get bad, you get out of there, okay?
Lindsey: Hmm. You get to freak out on my behalf once without me being annoyed. That sound fair?
Chris: I suppose.
-She quickly leans in and kisses him on the lips for a few seconds. Chris is speechless.
Lindsey: Stop. That wasn’t to screw with you; that’s to give you that strange morale-boost that you need. Now go get ‘em, tiger.
Chris: (Smiles, holding up the hilt of his sword). Let’s do this.
-Everyone gathers in the main sitting room of the lodge, their preparations complete.
Lindsey: (Noticing Jack’s hair). Whoa! You changed your hair!
Jack: You like it?
Lindsey: Bold, impulsive, nothing like Jack at all. (Running her fingers through his hair). I like it, yeah. (She kisses him a few times).
Austin: (Walks up to Chris, noticing that he’s watching Jack and Lindsey). Sandwich? (Holds up a tasty-looking sub packed with all sorts of meats and cheeses).
Chris: (Looks at Austin, then the sandwich, and back and forth a few times). Yeah alright. (Grabs the sandwich and takes a bite).
Barbara: Chris, you know I’m going to tell you to be careful.
Barbara: So be careful.
Barbara: And I love you.
Chris: I love you, too, grandma.
-They hug as Joshua walks to the center of the room.
Joshua: You’re all welcome to come back once you’re done with today.
Jack: I won’t be coming back. It’s time to regroup with the Legion and build again.
Derek: And my father’s still missing.
Joshua: Let this place always be a home for you when you need it then.
Kevin: Josh, thank you, for everything.
Chris: I doubt we would have made it this far without you.
Joshua: Eh, you don’t know that for sure.
Leena: What’re we doing with Max?
Jack: I don’t want him coming with us, and he seems content staying here, so we’ll leave him here for now. I’ll be back in a few days with a Legion escort.
Max: I’m okay with that. (Falls back into an armchair and continues ignoring everyone).
Jack: Glitch, we’ll need you to direct us to the proper coordinates.
Glitch: Shouldn’t be a problem.
Jack: Then we’re off.
Chris: Bye grandma. I’ll be back soon.
Barbara: Bye then.
Lindsey: Bye Josh.
Joshua: Take luck.
-Everyone says their solemn partings and walks out into the snow. Daybreak is upon everyone as the snow falls heavily around their feet. Jack walks to the front of the crowd and powers his Pulse energy up before taking to the skies. Everyone follows him.
-Elsewhere, hundreds of miles south…
Ranking Soldier: Syrus, we’re having a hell of a time navigating this place.
Syrus: Most of the structure is underground and doubles-back on itself frequently.
Ranking Soldier: Figures we’re get bogged down by a maze of some sort.
Syrus: Keep notes. Map this place as you go in case we ever need to come back.
Ranking Soldier: Will do. (Joins the others in the hunt).
Syrus: (Wandering through the main hall with the hieroglyphs). Amazing. I started to doubt we’d ever get to see this place. Just think, the probability of finding the Eclipse Star’s shrine twice in a year? That’s nearly impossible. Unless… (Continues walking and notices the four empty pedestals). Those stones they had. They must have been from the counter-set. (Places a hand on one pedestal and laughs). In trying to defend themselves against such a thing, they’ve managed to remove the only defenses this place had.
-The group continues flying south, no one really speaking as they finally fly over the city.
Derek: There’s Trillium. That should be the halfway point, right?
Chris: Glitch, what time is it?
Glitch: Little past 1.
Jack: I figured we’d be further along by now.
Chris: Going slower conserves energy, energy that we may need should Syrus pose a serious threat.
Derek: Yeah but the trade-off is that we can’t get there fast enough to stop him from grabbing the Eclipse Star before us.
Chris: It’s not a great choice to make, but I’d rather be prepared than rush into this.
Lindsey: Chris is right; we don’t know if Syrus found anything or not, but tiring ourselves out before even knowing won’t help.
Kyle: Anyone want to play the License Plate Game?
Chris: If you can see license plates from up here, you can play.
Kyle: (Pause). Anyone want to play I Spy?
Kyle: Alright then, I didn’t want to play anyway.
Leena: (Sigh). Fine, I’ll play.
Kyle: Okay! I spy with my little eye…something that is hot.
Leena: Too soon.
Austin: (Flies in close to Chris). Hey, buddy, what’s up?
Chris: I’m nervous, that’s all.
Austin: You don’t look nervous; you look like you’ve seen dead people.
Chris: I have an extremely bad feeling about today.
Austin: Damn, your feelings are usually right, too.
Chris: I just…(Images flash of Chris’ vision. Syrus fights with the group, easily dispatching them. Lindsey dies and Chris is left alone as Syrus laughs).
Chris: I don’t think I’m ready for this.
Austin: We’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?
-Hours pass as the group flies south, searching for the proper coordinates. By 5 o’clock the sky is starting to cloud, but the Forest Temple is within range.
Glitch: Two miles to destination.
Jack: Okay. Everyone on foot. We’re walking in.
-They land in an area with heavy tree covering.
Leena: So weird being back here. I can still remember half the trees.
Scott: I remember you took a leak behind that one over there. (Points).
Leena: (Turns insanely red). Yes, thank you, we all needed to know that.
Jack: Quiet. (Everyone freezes for a moment or two). How close are we right here?
Glitch: 1.7 miles from the coordinates.
Jack: Clinton, do you remember the forest being this quiet when your group came through here?
Clinton: It was oddly quiet, but nothing like this.
-Jack clicks his Pulse-reader watch on. It starts beeping.
Jack: Yeah, we’ve got a number of Regime soldiers lurking about a mile and a half to the southwest, and they aren’t the sort that we usual fight.
Derek: How strong we talking?
Jack: They’re just walking around and even then they’re up around what the Higher Ups of the Legion would be clocked at.
Chris: What’s Syrus reading at?
Jack: I can’t differentiate by person.
Chris: Then the blip with the lowest rating.
Jack: Little over 2000.
Chris: Keep us away from that blip.
Jack: Okay, let’s move out.
-The team trudges in two uneven lines forward through the brush, Jack and Glitch leading the way, followed by Chris and Derek, and then the rest.
-After a short hike in silence, Jack holds up a hand and stops them.
Jack: Clinton, we close?
Clinton: (Moves to the front). Yes. See those trees up there? (Points to a row of trees with the tips sliced off). Just past those is where the temple sits.
Jack: Okay, I’m seeing anywhere between 40 and 50 enemies out there, so we need to start taking them down one-by-one in silence.
Chris: Won’t work. Any one of those soldiers goes unconscious and Syrus is gonna know.
Derek: He probably already knows we’re here.
Kevin: We could try overloading his ability to sense where we are.
Derek: And how would you propose we do that?
Kevin: If one or two of us shoots our Pulse energy to max, it will become harder to focus on anyone running around at a minimum output, similar to what Joshua said about the churches overshadowing individual energy patterns.
Jack: It could work.
Clinton: The more distractions we can manage, the better.
Jack: Glitch, you, me, Chris, and Austin, we’re going into the temple. Lindsey, you’re able to kick up the most smoke when you power up, figuratively speaking, so you’re in charge of the main diversion.
Jack: Derek, you can focus better, but your Pulse still gets pretty high. You do the same thing she’s doing, but do it within the middle of the enemies.
Derek: (Pulls out his sai). Nice thinkin’ Pony Boy.
Jack: Everyone else, clear those other soldiers and keep them busy.
Chris: Let’s go.
-Lindsey runs off into the trees as the two groups split off and go their separate ways.
-Syrus continues slowly walking down the wall, reading it as he goes. He suddenly stops.
Syrus: They certainly got here fast.
-He turns around as one of his soldiers runs up.
Ranking Soldier: Syrus, they’re here, aren’t they?
Syrus: Take the majority of your men and exit the temple.
Ranking Soldier: To meet them head-on?
Syrus: Yes. Send five to accompany me while the rest hold the entrance.
Ranking Soldier: Absolutely.
-The ranking soldier salutes and runs off to gather his men.
-Outside, Lindsey gets to a high point nearby the temple and begins charging her power to absolute maximum. As a result, the ground begins quaking violently.
Jack: Wow, she’s really putting her best foot forward.
-Derek rushes at the front entrance and cranks his Pulse energy to a staggering amount as well.
Austin: The front entrance is going to be swarming, but I know there’s a side way in. I saw it when we were leaving.
Glitch: On the north face?
Austin: Yeah. Forgot you’ve got those memories, too.
Glitch: Must be mind blowing, huh?
Austin: Hah! Absolutely!
-Clinton and his group run around to the opposite side as Regime soldiers rush out of the temple.
Clinton: Do it.
-His group charges energy blasts and fires them at their opponent’s feet, causing a wave of dust to explode up, covering the entrance completely.
-Energy blasts start firing haphazardly through the dust cover, only to be met with more potshots from Clinton’s team.
-While the fighting begins, Chris’ group slips around back while led by Austin.
Austin: Should be what looks like a crack back here…there.
-He points at a small opening mostly covered by foliage. Austin rips the bushes aside and allows the others to go in first.
-Once inside, the four slink along the wall, careful to peer around corners for any sign of Syrus and his soldiers.
-A few shadows dance across the floors from the hallway as Syrus rushes deeper into the temple.
Jack: Where to next?
Austin: I don’t know; I never went in this far.
Chris: (Seeing the hieroglyphs). What are those?
Austin: Just some designs on the wall. There’s a picture in another room of the Eclipse Star.
-Chris moves his hand slowly over the images, seemingly useless swirls chiseled into the rock.
Chris: Any of this make sense to anyone else but me?
Chris: Just my luck, then. C’mon.
-Chris takes them in the opposite direction as Syrus’ shadows, instead into a small side room with nothing in it save for a water basin.
Chris: Okay, gotta be somewhere…
Jack: We looking for a switch?
Chris: Nope. (Pushes a section of the wall to the side, revealing a tunnel and causing a sudden draft). Well? We’ve got nothing better to do.
-The four dive into the tunnel and beat feet down as fast as they can follow Chris’ lead into the enveloping darkness.
-Outside, Clinton’s team has spread out and taken cover as they shoot back.
Clinton: Danny, can you sense any Pulse readings from within the dust cover?
Danny: Nah, Derek and Lindsey are way too distracting.
Clinton: Then at least they’re doing their job well enough.
-A shockwave resonates from within the dust cloud, clearing it up to reveal Derek standing in the middle, his sai outstretched after being struck together.
-Three soldiers rain down right by the group’s covering, disoriented and confused. Willy, Scott, and Clinton rush from cover and strike each of them in the face once, knocking them out. They turn and sprint into cover once more as Derek slams the ground, throwing up another cloud of dust.
-Up on the high ground, Lindsey proceeds to keep her fighting power at max. Energy blasts begin shooting toward her as seven soldiers try to take her down.
-She throws up a half barrier attack as they continue advancing, ricocheting energy off her shield.
-One rushes up and attacks her from behind. She grabs him by the leg and flips him onto his back, knocking him out with an ax-kick to the jaw. She turns back to the advancing group, keeping one hand up as a barrier and fires back with her other hand.
-Inside the temple, Chris and his group snake through narrow corridors and low overhangs. Chris seems to know where he’s going, but the others can hardly keep up with him.
Jack: You sure this is the best way to go about this?
Chris: Hey, you saw the map, too.
Jack: What map?
Chris: Let’s hope Syrus said the same thing.
-As Clinton’s group continues firing, a mass of soldiers dive out of the dust and fire all at once in the direction of the group’s covering.
-Clinton and the others are left coughing and covering their eyes as the soldiers rush in, getting in a few good strikes to the head.
-One soldier reaches out and grabs Clinton by the face, charging a blast in his palm.
-Derek launches into the fray, starting with the back of Clinton’s attacker’s head, knocking him clean out.
-Clinton instantly claps his hands together, forms the shape of a gun, and fires a fast, hot blast right behind Derek.
-Several enemies are thrown all over the place from this blast, skidding into the side of the temple where various members of the good guys run up and deliver the final blow.
-Lindsey continues suppressing fire to her attackers but they’ve begun to surround her. As one from behind her throws an energy blast, she turns to liquid.
-The soldiers seem extremely confused as all that remains is a puddle where Lindsey once stood.
-As a solider steps forward, the puddle reaches up and wraps around his leg, hurling him into a tree.
-The other five soldiers regain defensive stances as the puddle whirls around, whipping them in the faces.
-Lindsey reforms in the center, spraying torrential spouts of water in all directions, washing the soldiers away.
-Kyle and Leena run around collecting the unconscious soldiers from the battlefield, moving them to the edge.
Leena: Haven’t they found the Star yet? Any time now would be great.
Kyle: Yeah, but aren’t you enjoying this?
Leena: Not particularly.
Kyle: Oh. Well then, what sort of food do you really like? You know? To eat when on a date?
Leena: Seriously, not a time I want to talk about that. (Cough). Especially with all this dust.
-Leena pulls out her throwing disc and hurls it at the center of the fray. She points her first two fingers at it and swishes them around before flicking them above her head.
-A hurricane-level gust of wind shoots up from the middle, instantly clearing the dust and lifting everyone within it into the air, including Derek and Willy.
-She throws her hand open and the pillar of wind tosses its debris, people included, in all directions.
-Her throwing disc returns to her hand as she pockets it.
Kyle: That was pretty cool.
Leena: (Lets out a sigh). Thanks.
Kyle: I was thinking like pasta or something. Can’t go wrong with pasta.
Leena: Shh. Not now. Later.
-Chris suddenly comes to a halt at the end of the tunnel, the other three in his team looking confused.
Austin: This it?
Jack: It’s a dead end.
Chris: No way this is a dead end.
-He places his hands on the solid rock face and pushes. Nothing happens.
Jack: We’ve got to turn around.
-Chris fires an energy beam, blowing a gaping hole in the rock.
Austin: Very nice work.
-As the smoke clears, all they can see is darkness. Glitch clicks a panel on his chest, instantly beginning to glow, illuminating the area. They get a view into a large chamber with a single pedestal in the center of a pool of water.
-The four take a few steps forward before looking around at the rest of the chamber.
Austin: How far down you think we are?
Chris: I’m not sure.
Glitch: My geographical sensors are going haywire right now, but I know we can’t be that deep.
Jack: The good news is, that door hasn’t been opened yet. (Points at the chamber’s main door, still closed).
Chris: C’mon then.
-He takes off at a run, splashing through the shallow pool as he makes his way up to the center pedestal. The others follow him.
Chris: This is- (Gets to the pedestal and looks down. It’s empty). No. That can’t be right.
Jack: Nothing? (Turns to Austin). You guys never came down here before, right?
Austin: No, we didn’t.
Chris: I don’t get it. (Slams his fists down on the pedestal). Where is it?!
Syrus: Fancy meeting you lot here.
-Jack, Glitch, and Austin swivel around to face Syrus, standing in the doorway with five soldiers. Chris doesn’t move.
Jack: How’d you make it down here?
Syrus: You three make a helpful energy pattern to follow.
Chris: It doesn’t matter anyway. Nothing’s here.
Syrus: (Somewhat surprised). What?
Chris: (Turns). The pedestal, it’s empty.
Syrus: That can’t be right.
Chris: We both wasted our time.
Syrus: I’d hardly call discovering this location a waste of time.
Chris: The Eclipse Star isn’t here, meaning we have no conflict with you.
Syrus: Is that so?
Chris: I’m asking you kindly, please, let it be done.
Syrus: But I- (Somewhat stunned, looking from Chris to the others, resting his eyes on the empty pedestal as well). How can it not be here?
Chris: You’re the one with the innate knowledge of the subject; you tell me.
-Syrus quickly trots up to the pedestal, grasping it with both hands, slumping upon confirmation.
Syrus: Was it all a trick?
Jack: (Whispering to Austin and Glitch). I don’t know what’s about to happen, but we need to get out of here as quickly as possible.
Austin: The plan?
Jack: Glitch, when I tell you, off go the lights.
Syrus: You. (Turns to Chris, chuckling). You’re trying to fool me, aren’t you?
Chris: No. We’ve both been made fools.
Syrus: (No longer chuckling). How can it- How can she- No!
Jack: Lights, off.
-Glitch clicks his chest panel again. The chamber instantly becomes pitch black.
-Several quick thumping sounds can be heard.
-A dull light shines from Syrus’ eyes, showing his five soldiers on the other end of the pool knocked out, Jack and Austin standing over them, nursing their knuckles.
Syrus: So I am forever shamed? No, I won’t have things end like this. I can still get at least one thing I want. (Points his gaze toward Chris).
Chris: (Reaches behind his back and clutches the hilt of his sword). Don’t. I don’t want to do this.
Syrus: You don’t have a choice.
-Syrus’ eyes glow intensely bright as he lunges toward Chris.
-Chris pulls his sword from behind his back, swishing it in an arc above his head. The blade glows as brightly as Syrus’ eyes.
-Chris starts slashing madly, trying to hack Syrus in half. Syrus sidesteps each attack, throwing his arms out and parrying the sword swings with his forearm armor, knocking the blows to the side.
Jack: Let’s go.
Austin: Not without Chris.
-Jack waits a few seconds as Chris and Syrus dance around the pedestal. As Syrus takes a step back and touches a foot into the water, Jack dunks his palm into the pool and fires an electrical current through the water.
-Syrus’ body tenses for a second as his winces from this. He turns to face Jack.
-Chris leaps into the air, spinning his sword in his hands, bringing it down with full force at Syrus.
-Syrus looks up and sees this. He brings his hands together while turning, clubbing the side of Chris’ sword as hard as he can.
-Chris’s swing is knocked off course, carrying him into the pedestal.
-The sword cleaves the pedestal at the middle, causing an unnatural light to explode forth into the room and throwing Chris across the chamber into the wall.
-Once everyone’s eyes adjust, they can clearly see source of the light: The Eclipse Star.
Syrus: How is this even possible?
-No one dares move for a moment or two. Chris shakes his head, getting up from his slumped position. His sword is no longer glowing.
-Syrus slowly walks up to the Eclipse Star, entirely focused on it.
-Jack and Austin sprint at Syrus. He waves a hand behind him, causing the water to shoot up and blast the two with a water jet.
-Chris leaps up and hurls his sword at Syrus.
-Syrus touches the Eclipse Star and time instantly slows to a crawl all around him..
-He breathes in and looks up, seeing the sword point mere inches from his head.
Syrus: Amazing. Simply amazing.
-He grabs the sword firmly in his hand and throws it back at Chris.
-Time resumes its normal flow as the sword’s hilt collides with Chris’ forehead, knocking him spinning head over heels.
-Syrus firmly clasps the Eclipse Star in his hand and looks back at Jack and Austin.
Syrus: Nice try boys. I’ll admit, you beat me to the punch, but you didn’t seem to know the secret. (Stares back at his prize). And for that matter, neither did I. (Looks up). We have no further business here.
-He reaches his other hand out and closes it while pointing at the walls. They instantly start crumbling.
-As Jack, Austin, Chris, and Glitch scramble to get away from the walls, Syrus vwings to the door.
Syrus: You requested that I let it be done. And so I shall. Trillium’s time is done, and so is yours.
-He exits as the room obliterates itself.
-Outside, the rest of the group have reconvened outside the main entrance, every one of Syrus’ soldiers lined up, unconscious.
-The ground begins shaking fiercely.
Lindsey: This isn’t good.
-Parts of the structure start toppling over, landing all around the group.
-As they dive backward from the temple, they see Syrus casually walking out, a dark aura surrounding him.
Kevin: Where are the others?
Derek: Take him out!
-Syrus stretches his arm out and clenches his hand, throwing up a barrier of earth as dozens of energy blasts rain down on him.
-He pushes and sends debris flying in all directions. The group stops firing and hides in cover.
Syrus: Those four you sent in after me? You might want to go check on them. (Points at the shrine). They were in the lowest levels when I brought the ceiling down on them.
Lindsey: You bastard!
Syrus: Good luck with that.
-Syrus takes to the air and flies off at full speed.
Clinton: He’ll be heading for Trillium.
Lindsey: I don’t care; Jack and the others are in there.
-She sprints toward the entrance as the structure finishes collapsing, sending a puff of dust out every crevasse.
-The teenagers shield their eyes and try to see anything. Leena starts blowing the dust away with gusts of wind, but they don’t see anyone emerging from the rubble.
Danny: They can’t be dead. Can they?
-Lindsey runs up to the entrance and starts throwing rocks aside. The others join in.
-Syrus continues flying, looking over the Eclipse Star.
Syrus: All that trouble, just for this little stone. (Tightens his grip on it). I can’t let it consume me like so many others. (Shuts his eyes). They were all fools, but I. (Opens his eyes and smiles). I shall make her proud. And together we shall make Him pay.
-To Be Continued!