Eclipse Star: Chapter 77
Recap: Last time, Chris returned to the Northern Lodge utterly distraught, Derek and Syrus formed an alliance after discovering Derek’s father’s dead body, and Lindsey uncovered some secrets about Chris that she’s about to share with the group. The Legion is heading to the North, today, on Eclipse Star!
-Lindsey and her group are gathered around in their new dorms as they pass around an unmarked videotape.
Austin: So this thing shows that Chris’ mom started the Legion?
Lindsey: That’s what the Commander said.
-Tape passes to Scott.
Scott: It’d make sense, what with all the other coincidences that keep happening.
-Tape passes to Leena.
Leena: Do we really want to watch this thing?
Kyle: Absofruitly. Gimmie.
-Kyle snatches the tape from Leena. It is then snatched immediately by Kevin.
Kevin: I don’t mean to be “that guy” right now-
Scott: Yes you do.
Kevin: -But I don’t feel comfortable watching this if Chris isn’t here.
Jack: (Massaging his neck). Then you don’t have to watch it. You may have moral reservations, but we need to know everything, and if Chris’ been keeping secrets, then I’m not happy.
Danny: Technically he didn’t keep a secret since we…haven’t really…talked with him much…
Glitch: If anyone feels the need to watch that tape, I say we do so after heading north.
Lindsey: Right. That’ll give us some time to think.
Austin: Bigger question: What do we do when we get there?
Kevin: You think Chris is actually up there?
Austin: Yeah, but so’s Max and Joshua. Shouldn’t we maybe…warn them or something?
Jack: Why would we do that?
Leena: Yeah Jack, why would we warn the guy who’s come peacefully after capture and the other guy who clothed us, fed us, housed us, trained us, and generally loved us for the last fourth of the year?
Kyle: And healed Jack from being a cripple, don’t forget that.
Leena: Yes, exactly, thank you. Well then?
Jack: Anyone want to field this one for me?
All: Because you don’t trust them.
Jack: Hey look, you have been listening to what I’ve said.
Lindsey: I think we should tread lightly on this. The Legion knows just enough but not enough to really “get it.” I don’t want to see anything happen to Josh, regardless of how little you trust him, Jack.
Jack: Fine, we help if we can, but I seriously doubt we’ll need to.
-The Commander and a small squad pass by.
Commander: C’mon Wunderkind, let’s go.
-The group falls in line behind the soldiers and march out.
-Meanwhile, up at the Northern Lodge…
-Chris is resting with his back to the door up in one of the bedrooms. Max knocks and walks in.
Max: Mind if I speak with you?
Chris: Now might not be the best time…
Max: I’m not angry about you threatening to kill me, just in case you were wondering. (Sits down near Chris in an armchair). Truth be told, I’m actually pretty impressed. Not only do you now have the power to make a real change, you have at least some semblance of control over it. That’s more than my father could understand.
Chris: My father’s dead.
Max: Yes yes, let’s make this all about you.
Chris: (Turns over and lays on his back). Boy, now I really want to know what you came here to say.
Max: I’ve fallen out of my family’s good graces a bit for getting captured, but you have the ability to get me back in.
Chris: And why would I do that, exactly?
Max: Are you familiar with the state of crime here in Trillium?
Chris: It’s bad, but no worse than anywhere else.
Max: It is bad, and the strange thing is that it’s harming the Regime’s ability to do business and function properly while in the city. Go figure.
Chris: Right, competition equals bad in the crime world, that’s simple.
Max: (Responding positively). Yes, see, you’re one of the smarter ones. This is what I’ve been trying to tell my father. Do you know how he reacted when I told him to wipe out the crime in Trillium?
Max: Precisely. He didn’t get it, particularly what it would mean if someone else were making the city a safer place.
Chris: Which is what exactly?
Max: Whose job is it to protect the city?
Chris: The Legion’s.
Max: And if someone else did it for them…?
Chris: (Epiphany). Then the Legion would become obsolete.
Max: Yes! See, (sigh), it’s like we’re brothers.
Chris: (Sits up, thinking). Without the Legion, then there’s no need for a war, no need for us to fight anymore. (Turns to Max). Who’s the most prominent criminals in the city?
Max: Wait, as in mob bosses, drug lords, human trafficking, what?
Chris: All of those.
Max: (Laughs to himself). As you can clearly see, I’m stuck here somewhere north of the city, otherwise I’d gladly help you.
-Chris knocks Max clean out, grabs a few things, throws Max over his shoulder and leaves out the window.
-The scene shifts to the Demon Regime’s Hidden Plateau base far south of Trillium, beyond the Forever Desert.
-Syrus and Derek appear, keeping their distance.
Derek: (Looking around, confused). What are we doing here?
Syrus: If I’m correct, this is the first time Chris transformed.
Derek: So we’re…?
Syrus: At the Regime’s base in the Kantirian Ridge roughly eight months ago, give or take.
Derek: (Shocked). Wait, what? How’re we-?
Syrus: The Eclipse Star. There are some powers I’m just now getting used to.
Derek: (Starts to move but winces from his stomach wound). Why don’t we…ungh…why don’t we-?
Syrus: Oh, my apologies, it must have just been a few minutes ago in your timeline that I stabbed you, right? (Reaches into his chest plate and pulls out a small PEZ dispenser). Here, take what you need.
Derek: Thanks. (Pops a few PEZ and waits. After a half moment he stands straighter and takes a relaxed breath). Alright, so what you’re telling me is that in a few minutes, Chris is going to kill my father down there?
Derek: And we’re just going to stand here, doing nothing?
Syrus: No, we’re going to observe and see if we can learn anything.
Derek: Maybe you’re going to stand here, but I’m not about to let my father die.
-Derek jumps forward, only to get casually pulled back by Syrus.
Syrus: It won’t work like that.
Derek: Won’t work for you maybe, but-
Syrus: Won’t work for anyone.
Derek: Yeah but-
Syrus: (His voice is finally getting short with Derek, despite not taking his eyes off the base). I’ve already tried changing things. Meeting you in that cemetery wasn’t my first stop.
-Flash for a moment to the group arriving at Chris’ house, only to get blasted out by the battered Syrus.
-Derek remembers this for a moment and says nothing, only nodding.
Derek: Then why doesn’t it work?
Syrus: Time is strange, and I don’t understand it enough to preach it, but I can say this: Whatever has happened has already happened and cannot be undone. We can pass through the timeline at different points, but the timeline cannot be broken.
Derek: As far as you know anyway.
Syrus: True. (Tenses). Do you feel that?
Derek: Yeah. It’s happening, isn’t it?
-A pillar of blue light explodes from the center of the base, spiraling upwards toward the heavens. The light dissipates but almost instantly another explosion of blue light vaporizes the surrounding area, carrying off for miles and miles over the desert.
Derek: Oh God… (Derek chokes back tears). And we can’t…?
Syrus: We can’t change anything. I assume we can still be killed, though.
-The energy blast fades, leaving the unlikely pair a skewed view of a golden figure passing out and losing his shine. A few other figures rush up and help the first.
Syrus: Who are those with him?
Derek: (Clears his throat). Lindsey and Jack. And Kyle, I think. (Rubs his face). Please, no more of this.
Syrus: Agreed. We won’t learn any more here anyway.
-Syrus places a hand on Derek’s back and the two disappear with a quick pop.
-Back in the present time, the Legion is flying toward the Northern Lodge in a handful of helicopters.
Commander: Just how far north is this place?
Austin: Ya just keep heading north until we say stop.
Commander: Lindsey, can you give us more specific directions?
Lindsey: I don’t- (Quietly). Head between those two mountain peaks there in the distance. It’s past that another twenty miles or so…
Commander: Thank you. (Taps on the pilot’s shoulder). You get that?
Helicopter Pilot: Yup.
Commander: What are the real chances that Chris will be up here?
Scott: Pretty fuckin’ slim, if he’s smart enough.
Austin: And pretty high if he’s not.
Lindsey: (Gently nudges Glitch, whispering to him). Can you locate him there…?
-Glitch pauses for a moment. His eyes betray a quick look south.
Lindsey: (Smiles). Thanks…
Commander: What about Max? He still under your control?
Jack: Should be.
Kyle: (Aside to Scott). Ten says he and Chris scooted…
Scott: Hmm… (Takes a breath and pounds Kyle’s fist).
-South, somewhere in the city…
Chris: C’mon, wake up.
-Chris nudges Max, rousing him from unconsciousness.
Max: Hmm…? (Grabs his head suddenly, wincing). Oh my, where are we and why is my head throbbing?
Chris: We’re in Trillium.
-Max looks up and sees a church.
Max: Well I suppose if you were looking to convert some criminals…
Chris: I came here months ago after the Hex-Duo attacked. We can’t be tracked while we’re inside.
Max: What, really? (Touching the doors). Are the walls built with some dampers or anything?
Chris: No, the building just eclipses stars…
Max: Well isn’t that convenient…
-Chris walks forward and pulls the door slightly open with some difficulty.
-The pair walks inside and find it in perfect shape, though dusty and dark.
-Outside this same church half a year ago…
-Syrus and Derek pop into existence suddenly. Derek stumbles down, panting.
Derek: Ha…ha…that really takes a lot out of you. (Looks up). A church?
Syrus: This is where Chris trained before fighting with Hex-Duo 6. Something in here gave him unbelievable strength in a mere three days.
Derek: Bullshit. I knew him before and after, he didn’t gain any more power, not really. He just figured out how to use it.
Syrus: I’d figured as much, but what in here helped him work things out…?
-Syrus reaches forward and touches the door. The sound of flesh being seared becomes apparent and he recoils his hand instantly.
Syrus: What is this?
-He looks at his hand and sees it glowing black.
Syrus: A true place of worship…?
-Syrus becomes suddenly furious and punches the door with everything he has. Nothing happens.
Derek: The hell are those doors made of?
-The door slowly opens just a bit. Joshua pokes his head out.
Joshua: Who’s pounding-?
-He sees Syrus and stops. Syrus’ wrathful expression drops and converts to a sorrowful one.
-Joshua keeps the door firmly held as he steps a foot around it.
Joshua: You shouldn’t be here.
Derek: Wait? How the fuck do you know Josh?
Syrus: Watch your tongue.
-Joshua steps forward as Syrus reaches out his hands. Joshua gently takes them and looks them over.
Joshua: (Darkly). So, you succeeded.
Syrus: This is all for the greater good.
Joshua: I am the greater good, and I can tell you this hurts me deeply.
Syrus: (Stone cold). No, this is the one part of it all that you can’t clearly see. It is blind to you.
Joshua: Nothing is blind to me. (Turns to Derek). And I suppose you’re helping perpetuate the cycle then?
Derek: Is Chris in there? With his father?
Joshua: Yes, and you two need to go.
Syrus: (Serious). I wish for the boy here to see what is happening inside.
Joshua: No. I will not allow him to interfere with their privacy. And you, you know that you’ll be engulfed in flames the moment you step foot inside.
Derek: (Half laughing). Look, Josh, you’ve helped me before. I need you to do me another favor. Help me out here.
Joshua: Be gone, both of you. Stay as far from this church as you can get.
Syrus: No, we must-
Joshua: (Cuts him off, getting in close to Syrus’ face). Did I stutter? You have chosen your side, and it breaks my heart every second. I’m pained to see you turn your face to me, and I weep for what will happen to you. Now be gone from my doorstep.
-Joshua steps back inside and closes the door.
-Syrus and Derek stand for a moment in silence.
-They look at each other briefly before Syrus reaches out and disappears them both.
-Present day, at the Northern Lodge…
-The Legion moves through the lodge, clearing rooms as they go.
Commander: (Sighs). Well, there’s no one here. Want to tell me why that is?
Lindsey: I have no idea, honestly.
Commander: (Clicks her ear communicator). Alright, if everything’s clear, leave the place alone. No need to upturn everything. (To the group). We’re heading back. Go ahead and grab any possessions you may have left behind here so at least this trip won’t be a complete waste.
Danny: Can’t we just stay here?
Commander: I’m sorry, no. All of you are a serious threat left unchecked at this point, so it’s either you’re under our watch, or you’re fugitives. I can’t do it any other way.
Jack: Since when did you determine that?
Commander: Since teenagers capable of leveling ten square city blocks fell under my command, or did you make that Legion armor yourself? (Points at Jack’s attire).
Kevin: It’s okay; we just need some time to collect ourselves.
Commander: Right, I’m sure you’re all still processing everything. (Clicks her ear communicator again). Teams three, four, and five, you head back to Legion HQ. Teams one, two, and six, we’re staying the night. (Back to the group). 7 AM’s checkout time. Do what you have to do here, but don’t leave the immediate area.
-Lindsey reaches out and touches her forearm.
Lindsey: Please, don’t mark this location on a map. Once we leave here, we can’t have a trace in any computer system.
Commander: You know, that’s a hard bargain, but I see your point. (Walks outside). Remember! 7 AM! No later!
* * * * *
-Late in the evening, the group has huddled together in Lindsey’s room as Glitch hooks himself up to a small TV.
Glitch: Everyone situated? Got your popcorn and soda?
Austin: Yeah yeah, just roll the film.
Glitch: Here we go and…play.
-The TV flickers a bit but then the video of Chris’ mom begins to play.
Chris’ Mom: I…I don’t expect any of this to make much sense to you, but please believe me. Chris…(sniffs back a tear). I’m sorry I’m not around to explain this personally, but circumstances have forced me to do it this way. I’m…I’m your mother.
Austin: She looks a lot like him.
Chris’ Mother: Listen closely Chris. There’s a lot I need to say and I don’t have a lot of time to say it. I don’t know how much your grandma told you about me, because I don’t think she really knew much. I kept a lot secret from her. For start, I haven’t been going by our last name for years. I’m sure you go by Chris Collins, right? You won’t find my name in any documents anywhere, because I’ve been going by Sharon Duke, but your last name is Morgenstern, from your father, James, my husband.
Kyle: Oh that had to confuse the hell out of him.
Leena: Confused the hell out of me, too.
Sharon: For the last several years, I’ve been in command of an organization I established as a counter-terrorist group to resist any threats the world falls under. I’ve named my organization Legion, after the Biblical demon.
Kevin and Sharon: “For we are many.”
Sharon: It seemed only right to combat Octavious’ new regime.
Lindsey: I had no idea it was founded specifically to stop the Demon Regime.
Sharon: I did my best to do everything I could to better the world, and eventually I got the chance to do that on a grander scale than I could imagine, but I think it’s about to come at a price. Decimus, if you’re watching this, I put you in command of Legion. I hope the idea of continuing the fight against your cousin isn’t something you can’t handle alone.
Jack: Decimus…? That must be the original Commander.
Sharon: Chris…(another tear rolls down her cheek). I’m sorry, I’m not usually so emotional. Hmm, you try for years to fight the stigma of being a woman and here you go weeping like an idiot… (Shakes her head).
Scott: What has got this woman so scared…?
Sharon: I was offered the chance to fight alongside some of the greatest individuals ever to exist on this earth, one of which was your father. We did our best to save this world, and it seems we did as best as we could have been expected since the world’s still here. It just looks a little different.
Austin: What’s she mean by that?
Sharon: We stopped the Eclipse Star from accomplishing its purpose, but that wasn’t enough. Most of the others are dead, or they will be soon. I’m going back to protect your father, but before I do I want to leave you with something…to remember me by… (She turns away, tears streaming down her cheeks).
Leena: Okay, this is really freaking me out now.
Sharon: (Regains her composure, serious and stern). Chris, you’re the son of a good commander and a wonderful man. If you’re anything like your father, you’ve made yourself a handful of close friends, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve accumulated a handful of guilt. Whatever happens from now on, it’s up to you to keep them safe. Even if the world goes to hell, even if everything else is lost, keep them safe. Never, ever give up. That’s an order. I know that it isn’t going to be easy and I know you aren’t going to want to, but you have to. (Starts to break again). You have to.
Danny: Is that why he’s been so serious around us?
Sharon: (Shakes her head). No…I can’t help you any more than this. If you ever meet a man named Syrus, for God’s sake be careful. He’s extremely dangerous, but you couldn’t possibly begin to understand his motives. Just stay away from him if you can.
Sharon: Chris…I love you. (Kisses the tips of her fingers and presses them against the screen). I always will. Your father does, too. We wish we could help you through whatever it is you’re about to face, and we’re sorry we can’t. Just hang in there. (Sniffs). Good…goodbye. (Fumbles to turn the camera off).
-Static plays as the group sits in silence for a beat.
Kyle: We’re thinking them, yes.
Jack: Specific thoughts?
Kevin: We screwed up, big time.
Scott: How so?
Kevin: After everything Chris went through, just think of what something like this could do to him.
Lindsey: At least now we know.
-The video cuts back in suddenly, showing Commander Raiya.
Commander: Well, by now you’ve all watched the “secret” tape that I gave only to Lindsey. Now there aren’t any more secrets from my end. You didn’t have to get a lecture, and I didn’t have to try and convince you to trust me. If this doesn’t do it, oh well. Further briefings about what Commander Duke could mean happen in the morning. Commander Raiya, out.
-Tape cuts out.
Austin: …Well I like her.
Jack: Damnit, me too.
-Syrus and Derek appear outside the doors to a bunker amidst hills of grass.
Derek: Where did we end up this time?
Syrus: (Casually walking toward the door). Nowhere, one year in the past.
Derek: Are you being cute or are we literally in a place beyond definition?
Syrus: Seventy-eight miles south-southwest of the Liminal Providence of Balobyn. There are roughly fifty square miles of sheep and cattle around here, but not much else. (He enters some digits on a keypad).
Derek: Is there some great truth I’m going to learn out here?
Syrus: That depends. I’m giving you an extra year over the others. (The door beeps and slowly swings open). Whether you fail is entirely up to you.
Derek: (Smirks). Then let’s get started.
-Some months past the present time…
-A dark nightclub’s basement. About a dozen men are sitting around tables getting lap dances and snorting lines of coke. One guy is clearly in charge and sits at a larger table with two women around him.
Boss: (Casually to an associate as he’s stroking the woman next to him). Anton, any word from the South-Side Triangles?
Anton: (Clicking around on a laptop). Not yet.
Boss: Doesn’t that seem a bit odd, considering we delivered our half of the bargain this morning?
Anton: I’m not seein’ a single bit of news about it, and no contact from Triangle’s ringleaders.
Boss: (Half disinterested). That…is a bitch. Maybe we should send some men over and remind them why we’re so generous?
Anton: Just say the word.
Chris: Your part of the deal fell through.
-Chris’ face is obscured by a red mask. He’s wearing a thick jacket and gloves and holding a pair of sai. His hair is glowing gold, save for a little shock of dark brown hair in the middle.
-The gang members react rather slowly and confusedly to his appearance.
Boss: Some one want to tell me how a kid in a Halloween costume got through our bouncers?
Chris: You North Side Eagles boss Alejandro Vasquez?
-The gang members have all pulled out weapons and sent the strippers away.
Boss Alejandro: And who the fuck are you supposed to be?
Chris: I’m the Eclipse Star.
-Before anyone has a chance to laugh at this, Chris has already leaped straight forward and plunged a sai deep into Boss Alejandro’s face.
-All hell breaks loose.
-To Be Continued…