Eclipse Star Exodus: Chapter 76
“The Long Hush”
Lindsey Narration: Things got out of hand too quickly.
–Images of the fight between the group and Syrus from the previous chapters, all from Lindsey’s perspective.
Lindsey Narration: Syrus was unstoppable, even though we were all working together. I saw him kill Derek.
–Syrus stabs Derek in the stomach and tosses him up before spraying him with energy blasts.
Lindsey Narration: I know he hit Chris with a Pulse blast.
–Chris is knocked into the wall.
Lindsey Narration: And then there was just an intense pain in my chest, like fire was drilling through it.
–Syrus shoots something straight at Lindsey. She falls back and whites out.
Lindsey Narration: I remember a lot of noise coming from all around me, and then my vision just went and I couldn’t breathe.
-Lindsey “dies” momentarily.
Lindsey Narration: And then the weirdest thing…
-Suddenly her eyes shoot back open, though everything is bright and blurry. The camera (Lindsey) looks at the person holding her, and in the hazy state, their facial features are indistinguishable other than blonde hair.
Lindsey to herself: Jack…?
-Her eyes close again.
Lindsey Narration: From there I don’t know what happens, other than waking back up in Jack’s arms while we were running from the battle.
-Lindsey’s eyes open again, this time completely clear, as Jack runs, carrying her.
Lindsey: Jack? What’s going on?
Lindsey Narration: He left me there and ran back to the center of everything. It was kind of brave on his part. Stupid, but brave.
-The scene shifts to Lindsey witnessing a huge explosion and then rushing into the center of the cratered area, seeing Jack, Chris, Austin, and Kevin standing around looking beaten but alive.
Lindsey: Thank God! You’re okay!
-Lindsey runs past Chris and dives into Jack’s arms.
-The scene shifts to the inside of an ambulance as a few Legion medical personnel continue bandaging Lindsey up. Another Legion solider is sitting across from her.
Legion Solider: And then what happened?
Lindsey: Chris left, and you guys showed up.
Legion Soldier: Do you know what happened to the Eclipse Star?
Lindsey: Syrus died with it, so I assume it’s been destroyed.
Legion Solider: (Taps his ear). Commander? Interrogation seems to confirm that Syrus and the Eclipse Star are both gone.
Legion Solider: (Ignoring Lindsey to continue having a one-way conversation on his ear bud). Understood. Right…right. Okay, I’ll have her speak with you when we arrive. (Back to Lindsey). The Commander is somewhat excited to see you when we get to HQ.
Lindsey: The Commander?
Legion Soldier: Yes.
Lindsey: Please tell me I’m not about to talk to a corpse…
-A number of trucks pull up to the HQ and unload. The group steps out and sees what amounts to a simple one-story building that says “Corrugated Cardboard Manufacturers” on the front.
Legion Solider: Please, if you’d step inside with the others.
-The group reforms, keeping silent, as they’re lead into the building.
-Once inside things seem pretty much like a cardboard factory.
Legion Solider: Head into the back room. From there you’ll be taken down to the sub levels.
Jack: (Taking the lead). This is certainly new. (Glances over at a handful of the Legion soldiers escorting them. Many of them are dressed in much higher-quality armor than they’ve seen previously). Glad to see someone’s been taking precautions.
-As everyone heads into the back room, the doors are shut and the lights dim down. Suddenly everyone is hit with the sensation of an immediate drop as they’re lowered a great ways underground.
-Finally the lights flicker back to their original intensity and the group steps through the doors again.
-They have walked into a wide-open area, filled with lights and dozens of specialized buildings, giving it an appearance of an underground city, complete with trees and grass.
Leena: Wow…this is amazing.
Austin: How in the heck did they get this built down here…?
Glitch: From the looks of things I’d say robots were involved.
Scott: Which is just what we need right now.
-A person approaches the group wearing incredibly detailed mechanical attachments and a full facemask.
Legion Solider: (Salutes). Commander.
-The Commander’s head begins moving rapidly from face to face as the helmet makes the same noise as the Pulse sensor watches.
Glitch: Pulse Scanner helmet?
Austin: Nice, upgrades for our side.
Kyle: Allegedly our side.
Commander: Well it’s no wonder they’re still alive; their Pulse ratings are incredible. (The helmet is removed to reveal a young blonde woman). I suppose you’re Lindsey?
-The group is somewhat stunned to see that a woman is underneath all the armor, let alone in a position as the Legion’s new Commander. They stare with their mouths open until…
Lindsey: Uh, yeah, that’s me.
Commander: Great. I’d like a word with you personally.
Jack: You’re the new Commander?
Commander: Yes. (Offers a handshake to Jack). Commander of the Legion, recently transferred from the West Coast Division. Jack Voss, I presume.
-Jack just stares at her hand.
Jack: I don’t like that you’re a stranger. We’ve had problems with spies and such in the Legion previously.
Commander: (Retracting her hand). Yeah, Maximilian, Octavious’ son? Right? We do things a bit tighter on the West Coast. (Somewhat in thought). To be honest I’m a bit shocked anyone from the East Coast Division is still alive after the way things have been run.
Jack: (Taking great personal offense to this). Why don’t you just tell me what’s going on here before you belittle everything we’ve done?
Commander: I’m sorry, I’m aware that you’ve just gone through a lot and I sympathize.
Austin: Hey, not to sound rude or anything, but I doubt you can really walk a mile in our shoes right now.
Danny: (Looks at the Commander’s boots). Can I have shoes like that though?
Willy: (Nudges Danny). Hush, dude.
Commander: (Pulls aside the Legion solider). Have they all been checked for serious injuries?
Legion Solider: Yes, and they all seem relatively fine.
Commander: (Back to the group). If you still feel the need for medical assistance, we have a great medical station right over there. (Points). And if you’re starving, food’s in there. (Points at another building a ways off). Since you’re all from Legion East I don’t have a problem letting you go about your business while I talk with Lindsey.
Kevin: Thank you, very much.
Commander: What’s your name?
Kevin: Kevin Jerome.
Commander: (Points). Kevin. (Nods). Don’t mention it. (Back to Lindsey). Lindsey? If you’d please?
-The Commander begins walking and gestures off to a building in the distance. As she turns Jack grabs her shoulder and pulls her back.
Jack: What do you want with Lindsey?
Lindsey: Jack, just leave it, alright…?
Commander: I’m just curious to ask her a few personal questions.
Jack: I want to be there when you do.
Jack: That wasn’t a request. I’ve been training this group-
Commander: And you can still train this group. This has nothing to do with that, or your relationship with her.
Jack: Don’t you-
Commander: Recruit Voss, could you just stop talking for a little bit? Now, Lindsey, would you please?
-The Commander turns again.
Jack: Hey, I’m talking to you!
-Jack shoves the Commander.
-The Commander thumps Jack in the side of the neck. He becomes a ragdoll and his legs buckle.
-More stunned looks.
Commander: Sorry, but I thought that’d work faster.
Kyle: …I like her. (Leena gives him a look). But I like you more!
-The Commander continues walking and waves for Lindsey to follow.
-Lindsey quietly steps over Jack and keeps pace behind her.
Legion Solider: Are there any supplies you need? We’re trying to stock your rooms properly but we still need to get a sense of your clothes and such.
Danny: Uh…should we talk to him?
Austin: Yeah. (Slugs Jack over his shoulder and smirks). I think this’ll be fun.
-The snow picks up at the Northern Lodge. Inside, Joshua and Maximilian sit across from each other as they play Guess Who? Barbara is sitting in an armchair nearby reading.
Joshua: Is your person a girrrrrrrl?
Max: No my person is not. Does your person have a hat?
Joshua: Yes! Yes they do!
Barbara: (Looking up). Do you hear that?
Max: You’re Maria, aren’t you?
Joshua: Yes! Oh that was great! Okay, next game I’ll win.
Barbara: (Stands up). Hush for a moment.
-The front door slowly swings open. A flurry of snow whips in as Chris stands in the center, tugging in vain at his shirt and hugging himself tightly, trying to keep warm.
Barbara: Oh Chris…
-Chris steps into the room, quivering a bit and looking generally distraught.
Joshua: Oh my. Max, blankets please?
Max: Yeah. (Gets up and walks quickly out of the room).
Joshua: (Steps up to Chris, is arms open). Chris, please, where are the others?
Chris: Derek’s dead. Derek and Syrus. They’re dead.
Barbara: (She carefully chooses her words). Did you…? Are you the one who killed them?
Chris: (Quietly). No. Syrus killed Derek and later killed himself…
Joshua: I’m- What’s happened?
-Chris shuts his eyes and nods his head down, struggling to keep together. The next instant, he’s transformed into the Super X.
-No one speaks as Chris stands, glowing. Barbara covers her mouth with her hands as the look on Joshua’s face looks to be near to tears.
-Max reenters the room with blankets but drops them instantly.
Max: Holy God.
Joshua: (Takes a cautious step forward and holds out his hand). Come with me; let’s get you up-
Chris: I want to see my dad.
Joshua: I can’t. It was a one-time thing.
Chris: (Furious). NO! You can! You just won’t!
Joshua: (Grabs Chris and hugs him tightly as Chris shakes). It’s more complicated than that.
Chris: (Suddenly bawling, detransforming). Why does it have to be?
-Barbara comes forward to comfort as well.
Joshua: Tell me what happened.
Chris: I didn’t want this…I shouldn’t have to deal with it…
Joshua: It’s okay, you’ll be okay.
Chris: (Shoves away from him). Okay? Okay? How can I be?!
Barbara: Chris, you need to calm down.
Joshua: Did James tell you about this? About this transformation?
Barbara: Does it hurt?
Chris: (Extremely quietly). …Yes.
Joshua: I can help you with this, I can-
Chris: Help me?! I needed your help before and you didn’t! I wanted everything to go away… Derek was supposed to be this person, not me! Anyone else!
Max: This is, hah, this is incredible. That’s an incredible gift. I can’t wait to see the look on my father’s face when he sees what you can do.
-Chris shifts his focus over to Max and suddenly throws up his hand, charging a blast.
Chris: You think I’m just letting you run off and tell your father everything? You tried to kill us once, why not again?
Max: (Holds his hands up). Whoa, hold on, I’ve been nothing but cooperative.
Chris: You need to die.
Barbara: Christopher! Stop right now!
-She looks over and sees Joshua just standing quietly, arms limp, watching Chris.
Barbara: Do something!
Chris: No help this time either?
Joshua: This isn’t you. You’re not going to hurt anyone else today.
Chris: (Momentary pause). Else?
-Chris recoils from a hard slap across the face. Barbara stands in front of him, tears streaming.
Chris: (Mouth open). Grandma…
Barbara: So what? You go away and this is how you start acting?
Joshua: It gets better; you have to trust me.
-Chris crumbles to his knees and just weeps. Barbara bends down and holds him as the scene fades out.
-Back at the Legion’s current HQ…
-The Commander and Lindsey have secluded themselves in a quiet spot away from everyone else, including the noise of apparent progress outside as more structures are being built.
Commander: Please, go ahead and sit down.
Lindsey: What is it you want to know so badly?
Commander: Is that an invitation or are you already bored with me?
Lindsey: I’m barely holding myself together emotionally, so quicker would be better.
Commander: Sure. Do you need some Medex?
Commander: Little candies that heal you.
Lindsey: Oh, OH! We’ve been calling them PEZ.
Lindsey: Power Energizers.
Lindsey: Jack came up with it.
Commander: Well, still cute nonetheless.
Lindsey: How hard did you hit him?
Commander: Pretty hard. This suit can really raise a gal’s Pulse Level.
Lindsey: How old are you…if you don’t mind?
Commander: No that’s fine. I’m 23. And you?
Lindsey: Still 17.
Commander: Wow, and you’ve been doing all that fighty-pew-pewing out there?
Lindsey: (Impatient). Questions?
Commander: Right, I’m sorry. I got word that you died no more than an hour ago?
Lindsey: I- wait what?
Commander: I believe you when you say that Syrus is dead and that the Eclipse Star is gone, but I feel like I’m missing something between “shot through the chest” and “full recovery without scars.”
Lindsey: It’s all a bit blurry for me to think about.
Commander: Was it Medex? (Shakes her head). Sorry, PEZ?
Lindsey: I don’t think that would have done it.
Commander: Make sure to stop by the medical office later and pick up some of the tablets we’ve been working on. They’re probably a lot better than the ones you’re used to.
Lindsey: Where again did you say you were from?
Commander: West Coast, located near a small town called Mott. Familiar with it?
Commander: I joined right around the same age you did, though I’d been following the Legion for a while. My dad was one of the founding members right alongside Commander Duke. She was sort of a big inspiration, what with being a strong female.
Lindsey: The Legion was founded by a woman?
Commander: Yeah. She was pretty amazing from what I hear. Firsthand accounts from early soldiers mention that she was capable of a lot more than the standard Legion recruits we typically see around here.
Lindsey: Like us then?
Commander: Yup, even stronger.
Lindsey: And you want to know how we do all the crazy things we do?
Commander: Bigger question. (Pulls out a VHS). Have you ever seen this?
Lindsey: Can I see the label? (The Commander hands over the tape). There’s nothing written here, but it’s pretty rare to find tapes since everything’s on the disk format, unless it just got discovered of course.
Commander: That tape has the last known recording of Commander Duke, or rather, Commander Collins.
Lindsey: Yeah that’s- (Stops). What did you say her name was?
Commander: Where did Chris go?
Lindsey: What does this have to do-
Commander: (Grasps Lindsey’s hands gently). Please, I need to know where he went.
-Lindsey stands up and starts pacing, chewing on the end of her thumb a bit.
Lindsey: Is he in trouble?
Commander: No, but the woman on that tape there? That’s his mother, and because of that I want to know where he went.
Lindsey: (Running her hands through her hair, clearly wrestling with this information). Who else knows that?
Commander: Currently just me, and now I suppose you as well.
Lindsey: How did you find out?
Commander: Collins had a son and then left without a trace. That was just over eighteen years ago. Now suddenly some kid and his friends show up with the same abilities that the Legion’s founder had? That’s not a coincidence.
Lindsey: Couldn’t it be any of us then?
Commander: He’s the only one with two parents that are unaccounted for in any records.
Lindsey: Oh God, tell me his dad wasn’t really the last Commander. (Freaked). Oh crap, he said he’d met his dead father; that totally fits.
Commander: No, Commander Decimus wasn’t related.
Lindsey: Decimus? He had a name?
Commander: Well yeah.
Lindsey: And your…?
Commander: Commander Raiya.
Commander: Please, where is he?
Lindsey: …Probably the Northern Lodge. That’s where we’ve been staying.
Commander: The Northern Lodge?
Lindsey: Okay, I’m getting weirded out now.
Commander: Sorry. (Taps the Legion emblem on her shoulder). Daniels? This is Commander Raiya. We need a team ready to travel in three hours. (To Lindsey). Was Maximilian killed or was he staying with you?
Lindsey; How in the heck did you-?
Commander: I’m much better than the previous Commander; I can say that for sure.
Lindsey: Yeah, Max is there and he’s just fine.
Commander: (Back into the emblem). Make that two teams. Sounds like we’re bringing in a prisoner. (Back to Lindsey). You should go rest for a bit. But in three hours, you’re my buddy again. Sound fair?
Commander: And…could you keep this between us for now?
Commander: I promise; he’s not in trouble.
-Lindsey nods and quietly leaves the room.
Commander: (Into the emblem). Make sure all troops have extra armor on for this one.
-Once Lindsey’s out of sight, she taps her ear.
Lindsey: You get all that guys?
-In the dormitories, Glitch is holding a little flashing symbol on his chest as the others gather around, listening.
Glitch: Read loud and clear.
Kyle: Heh, Jack’s gonna be ticked he didn’t hear that firsthand.
Lindsey: Awesome. You got a tape player in your chest, too?
Glitch: You know it.
Lindsey: Cool. Movie night in five.
* * * * *
In a completely separate part of the world…
-Derek appears out of nowhere and lands with a light scuffling noise in a pile of leaves.
-He looks down and grasps his stomach as an open wound bleeds profusely.
Derek: The hell am I…?
-Surveying the area, it appears that he’s in a misty cemetery, heavily forested and just past twilight.
-Suddenly, the low sound of boots tromping close by can be heard.
-Derek scrambles to his feet and ducks behind a tree to watch.
-A handful of Demon Regime soldiers march past, four carrying a pine box and three following behind with rifles.
-They pay no attention to Derek’s location and somberly trudge past.
Derek: A Balobynian cemetery? What am I doing here…?
-Derek silently begins stalking the group, despite being somewhat wobbly on his feet.
-The three guard soldiers seem jumpy, looking around everywhere.
-One of the soldiers stops and fidgets near a stump, peering around it as his group continues moving forward.
-Derek runs up and slams him in the back of the head while at the same time cupping his mouth.
-The unconscious soldier is drug back into hiding.
-The other soldiers pay this no mind and continue walking.
-Eventually, one of the riflemen looks back and notices the first soldier missing. He does a double-take and slowly walks back in search of his missing teammate, rifle at the ready.
-He feels a slight tap on the shoulder and turns.
-As Derek punches him across the jaw, he grabs hold of the soldier’s jacket and hauls him off.
-The last Regime guard finally notices something wrong and stops the four other men.
Regime Rifleman: Hold up; something’s not right here.
-He looks around, staying close to the others, who begin growing agitated with carrying the box.
-A rock whizzes out from the shadows and knocks one of the box carriers clean out.
-As he falls the other three try to hold onto the casket.
-Three more stones come from all directions and hit their targets.
-The wooden box slides off the now falling soldiers and slams into the rifleman’s back, taking him down.
-The coffin breaks open and a body rolls out.
-Derek hobbles out from the mist and up to the corpse.
Derek: Now then…
-As Derek bends down and turns the dead man over to see his face, he instantly recoils in shock.
Derek: What the fuck is this?
Ragged Voice: Your father.
Derek: What? (Whips around, looking for the voice).
-A very mangled and beaten Syrus limps forward, though all the same retains his dignity and holds his head high.
Syrus: How long has this little charade been going on? Three months? Half a year?
Derek: (Clutching his stomach). What am I seeing?
Syrus: You’ve wanted to know where your father’s been? There he is before you.
-He reaches down and gives his father’s body a closer inspection. There are burn marks all over, but around his neck is a set of dog tags. An added tag has the inscription “Nothing Less Than Absolute; Ruler of the People.”
Derek: I don’t get it; how is it that my dad’s being lugged around in a coffin in a Regime cemetery?
Syrus: Because he was in the Regime.
Derek: (Scoffing at this and turning his head away). Bullshit.
Syrus: (Coughs but remains upright somehow). This can’t be easy for you. Octavious used this knowledge to get information about you and your group since the beginning.
Derek: But why would he-? (Pauses for a second and responds flatly). Of course. I wouldn’t have picked the Legion first either, not if I wanted the strongest side, not if I knew anything about the Legion in the first place. (Looks up at Syrus). How long was he working for you?
Syrus: Since you’ve lived in Brooksboro.
Derek: (Back to his father, running his hands over the scarred face again and again). And how did this happen? Who did this?
Syrus; He was stationed at the Regime’s plateau barracks. Are you familiar with the details?
Derek: All I know is that Chris- (A realization hits him. His eyes widen as his teeth clench. One hand covers his stomach wound while his body begins quivering). I’ll split his fucking skull. (Looks up at Syrus, furious). Okay, you wanted to show this to me; so how are you going to help me kill him?
-Syrus smiles and holds out his hand. Derek grasps it. With a flash of light and a quiet “Zew-whip” the two disappear.
To Be Continued…