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Fabula Imperium (Story of Power)
Author's note: This is an idea that I've been kicking around for a while. I hope you get a few laughs out of it, at least.
Prius (Chapter 1/Prologue)
This is a story of fire and ice, of light and darkness, of water and lightning. You ever heard the saying, ‘Knowledge is power’? Well, I’ve got a lot more than knowledge.
My father died when I was little, so I had to grow up as the leader of the household. I developed a façade of cheerfulness, while on the inside I was hollow with grief. I eventually came to terms with his death, but I would never forgive those who caused it. Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘If you want to test a man’s character, give him power’. Let’s just say that my character is about to be tested.
However, as you read this story, I think you’ll find that there are some forces in the world that should not be disturbed. My name is Arcus Wheeler.
And I’m an Imperial.
Occursus (Chapter 2)
Arcus Wheeler strolled through the mall, his hands in his pockets and whistling. To tell you the truth, he almost looked like someone who had just committed a crime and was playing dumb. His slightly uncooperative blond hair was sticking up a little in the back, but otherwise it was perfect. His sharp electric blue eyes scanned the hallway, presumably looking for something in particular. He was wearing his trademark Areopostale sweatshirt over a blue t-shirt, along with jeans, of course. He looked down at his watch. “Twelve thirty already?” he murmured to himself. He knew he was going to be late, and there was nothing he could do about it. Then again, he would probably be fine. It was the ‘probably’ part that gave him unease. He kept looking. Twelve thirty-one. After a couple minutes, he finally found the food court. He spotted his target, and leisurely walked to the table. He sat down.
“Where have you been?” asked Mila Aquis, his friend-who-happened-to-be-a-girl. Her short dark hair did a small swooshing motion when she moved her head. She brushed one side back behind her ear. Her softer blue eyes bored into his. Luckily, she didn’t seem to be angry about it.
“I… slept in.”
“Of course…” she sighed.
“What?” Arcus replied defensively. “It’s a Saturday! I usually don’t wake up this early anyway.” He smiled in spite of himself.
Mila sighed again. She seemed to be fond of doing that, but he had the feeling she was hiding a smile too. “Well, everyone else will be here pretty soo-“ She got cut off, and as luck would have it, it was by the one guy Arcus didn’t want to be here.
“Hey guys, how’s it going?” yelled Max Incendia. Girls at school seemed to swoon at the sight of his long red hair, and he wore red colored contacts to fit his red outfit. Hmm… there seems to be a theme here.
Arcus didn’t see the appeal. He face palmed. “Pfft… Why does HE have to be here anyway ?”
Mila shot him a look. “Don’t be like that, Arcus. I thought this meeting needed a… party atmosphere,” she explained. She said ‘party’ as if for lack of a better term.
Max muttered “Loser,” under his breath. Arcus glared at him, but kept quiet for Mila’s sake.
“Yeah, some party.” Remarked a deep voice from somewhere behind them. They whirled around to see Shadix Umbra. (Author here: What can I say? I like original names.) He was the goth (sorry: that was politically incorrect) guy Arcus knew. He saw him hanging out in school hallways most of the time. His black hair went well with his black jeans and a black t-shirt… you get the idea. His eyes were a dark brown. It was obvious he didn’t like the sun because his skin tan could use some work.
“Hi Shadix, thanks for coming,” Mila said politely.
He shrugged. “Not like I had anything else to do today,” he said, folding his arms nonchalantly.
Mila looked around. “I wonder where… ah, there they are,” she said smiling. Sage Adficio was looking uncomfortable walking next to Annie Sonitus, who was jamming out to heavy metal on her earphones. They approached the table and sat down. “Hey guys! How’s it going?” asked Mila.
“Now you’re starting to sound like Max,” Arcus mumbled. Mila and Max both elbowed him simultaneously.
“What?” Annie shouted over the noise of her earphones.
Sage looked around uneasily. “Mila… you know I don’t like crowds… Can’t you see that they’re looking at me?” she said looking around nervously.
“What?” Annie shouted over the noise of her earphones.
Mila comforted her, “Oh Sage, you’ll be fine. We can go shopping later…” she teased. Sage’s face brightened at the mention of shopping.
“What?” Annie shouted over the noise of her earphones.
Arcus went over and pulled the earphones out of her ears. “She says you guys can go shopping later,” He repeated.
“Cool!” she said. She talked a bit louder than everyone else because she was slightly deaf. “That means I can buy a new pair of headphones, the speakers in these are about to blow,” she remarked happily.
“Yo, Arcus! What’s up, my man?” said Leo Levis, the one guy Arcus was happy to have here. His hair was so blond it was almost white, and his outfit matched it .
“Leo! Hey, man, how’s it going?” Arcus replied.
Shadix chuckled. “Now you’re starting to sound like Max,” he remarked. Arcus and Max elbowed him simultaneously.
“Glad you’re here. Can we eat now? I’m starving.” asked Arcus.
“Sure… but you’re paying,” Mila said with a straight face.
Arcus was confused. “Wait, wha-“he started. Mila giggled. Arcus grumbled. “Oh sure, try to make me do everything. Would you like your shoes polished, my lady?” Everybody laughed at that.
They all went to the different mini restaurants within the food court, ordered their food, and brought it back to their table. They chatted about school, how hard it was, and asked each other about their grades, blah, blah, blah. Arcus had already finished before the others. He was kind of thirsty, so he considered his options. Buy expensive bottled water at one of the restaurants, or go to the water fountain next to the restrooms for free. It was a no-brainer. Arcus stood up. “Hey guys, I’m gonna go grab a drink. I’ll be back in a sec,” he said as he strode to the entrance.
As he bent down to drink at the fountain, he felt a little dizzy. He straightened up and leaned against the wall, holding his palm to his forehead. That was when he felt it. A strange sort of… gravity, for lack of a better term, was pulling in the direction of the doors. He didn’t know why, but he started walking in that direction. He went out into the crisp autumn air, and felt the gravity shift to his left. He felt obliged to follow it. He had the feeling it was leading him somewhere. He kept walking towards it, until it led him to a small, dark alley in between two local stores. The gravity was stronger now. It seemed almost… insistent that he keep walking. He didn’t see anything. He was confused. The gravity, it seemed, had lead him to a dead end.
That was when he noticed it. It was a life-altering, all-powerful, mind-blowing… metal box. No, not a box. It was more of a cube shape.
He went over to it and picked it up with one of the two handles. Nothing seemed to happen, except… was it a dark red color before he picked it up? He shook his head, attributing it to his imagination. For some reason, he didn’t know why, he took it back out of the alley, and walked backed to the mall. By this time, there were crowds and crowds of people. It was a pretty popular mall. He walked back through the doors to the food court, found his friend’s table, and sat down. They were still there chatting until he showed up.
“You must’ve been really thirsty, man. You took like ten minutes just getting a drink!” Leo said in mock anger. “And what’s that thing you’re carrying?”
Arcus looked at it like he was seeing it for the first time. “I… don’t know exactly. I found it outside,” he admitted. Now that he was back with his friends, the cube seemed brighter. He held it out for Leo to inspect. Leo tried to take it from him, but when he and Arcus were both touching it, it lit up like the sun.
Leo jerked his hand back. “What the…” he breathed. He touched it again, and the same thing happened. He was having fun grabbing it and letting go, seeing it light up and fade, until Arcus stopped him. The force seemed to be back, only now it was telling him…
“Guys, everybody grab onto it,” he said. Mila looked skeptical. “Why? It looks almost dangerous when you two are holding it. Who knows what it is? It could be radioactive or something,” she said nervously.
“Trust me, I know what I’m doing,” Arcus assured her.
“Well, THAT makes me feel a whole lot better,” she said sarcastically, but she complied hesitantly along with everyone else after a few seconds.
Now the cube was hard to look at, it was so bright. For some reason, Arcus noticed that the crowds had grown since he came back. The entire food court was full. His hands gravitated to the two handles on the sides. He instinctively knew what to do. He gathered all his strength, and pushed inward as hard as he could. He felt an exhilarating sense of speed. Then next thing he knew, there was a thunderous explosion, and he blacked out.
Novo (Chapter 2)
Arcus came to about thirty seconds later. He groaned, rubbed his head, and sat up. He felt sore all over. His entire body was tingling. When he opened his eyes, he didn’t believe what he was seeing. He was in a completely different place. He stood up and looked around. He saw trees all around him, and he was standing in what looked like a park. He recognized this park… no, it couldn’t be. It looked like Venustas Park, in Arcis City. But that was across the country! It didn’t make any sense. His blood chilled. He remembered something else. This was where his father… Stop it, Arcus said mentally. Don’t think about that. He decided not to focus on that right now.
Mila, Max, Leo, Annie, Sage, and Shadix were all about ten feet away from each other on the ground. Arcus seemed to be fine, but the concrete around him was messed up. There was a giant crater around him to the point where it looked like a bomb had gone off, except he was standing on what looked like a short pillar of untouched concrete. He noticed something else… there were people all around him, lying on the ground. There were so many it was hard to count them all. The park he was standing in must have been a popular destination. The people were probably unconscious, he reasoned… although he knew he was just trying to reassure himself. He slid down the edge of the crater and eventually woke each of them up.
“Ugh… my head. What WAS that?” asked Leo.
“Search me,” grumbled Arcus. He finally got them to their feet. They climbed up over the edge onto the pavement. That was when HE showed up. What looked like a small black hole suddenly opened in front of them. They all backed up quickly. The hole collapsed, and a strange figure appeared. The man was wearing a white hooded cloak, like something from Assassin’s Creed. (What?... yeah, yeah, yeah, breaking the fourth wall and all that.) He spoke.
“Hey guys, what’s up? ...Isn’t that what you kids are saying these days?” His deep voice sounded friendly.
Shadix, Max, and Mila elbowed Arcus before he could say anything. Mila stepped forward. “Who are you? How did we get here? Why are all these people unconscious? …And why is THAT there?” she said, pointing at the crater with the pillar in the middle.
“All in due time… Mila,” Aston said.
She stepped back. “How do you know my name?” she demanded.
“Oh, I have been watching you all for a very long time. I have to say, it’s been fascinating. But to answer your first question... My name is Aston Exitium. How did you get here? Well… that’s a little harder,” The man we now know to be Aston admitted. “As to why they are unconscious… well, they aren’t. I have the answers to all your questions, and more. No doubt you feel stronger than before… you do, don’t you?”
Arcus knew what he was talking about. There was no way he should’ve survived an explosion powerful enough to blow a ten foot crater in the walkway. There was DEFINITELY no way he should’ve just gotten up and walked away after. He felt stronger as well. His mind was more… acute than it was ten minutes ago.
“Yes… you are feeling the effects. You are also stronger than you were in a different way. For example, Arcus… you remember your parents, of course,” Aston said.
Arcus clenched his fists until they turned white. He silently seethed at how this person seemed to know about them. “You remember your father, don’t you? He left you, abandoning you and your mother, didn’t he?” Aston continued.
Arcus was infuriated. “Don’t. Talk. About. My. Father. Like. That.” Arcus hissed. “Yes,” Aston continued. “He never really loved you, of course. He was HAPPY to be stationed here.” Aston goaded. Arcus was about to punch him in the face, when Aston dared to make one last comment. “He couldn’t stand you… EITHER of you.”
“That’s IT!” Aston shouted. He sprinted toward him, fist raised. He was going to rearrange that jerk’s face, when he noticed something. His fist… it was… “Electrified?” He whispered, uncomprehending. He stopped. Miniature lightning bolts were running up and down his arm. In fact, they were running THROUGH his arm, almost like he was conducting it. Obviously Arcus knew that the human body could conduct electricity, just not on THAT level.
“Ah yes… elecrokinesis. I should’ve guessed,” Aston mused.
Arcus stopped staring at his arm and looked at Aston. “What… what happened to me back there?” Arcus took another step toward him.
“You know what this is, don’t you?” he asked angrily, shaking his electro-fist at him. “Oh, yes. In fact, I’m very much like you,” Aston looked around to Arcus’ friends. “ALL of you,” he said. “You don’t know it yet, but each of you has powers of their own. You just need to figure out what they are. I myself could increase your power tenfold,” he boasted. “But only if you join me. With your power combined with mine, we could take control of this planet, and wipe these unworthy humans off the face of the earth! We are the future. We are… imperials ,” he concluded .
Arcus didn’t know what to think. What he was saying sounded insane. But then again, he would sound pretty insane if he told someone that he could make electricity come out of his arm. Max looked at the group, then back at Aston. Max started to walk in his direction, until he was at Aston’s side.
“Well?” Max demanded. “You coming or what? World domination seems like a pretty sweet idea to me.”
Sage took a deep breath, and went out to Max’s side. “He’s right, you know,” she said. “It does sound pretty sweet.”
Mila was shaking her head. “Sage, think about what you’re doing!” she said insistently. “I already have,” Sage replied, “and my answer is yes.”
Arcus heard police sirens in the distance. Aston looked annoyed. “Well?” he asked.
Arcus was the first to speak. “No.”
Aston looked quizzical. “No? What do you mean, no?”
“It’s not right,” Arcus argued. “What have they ever done to us, that we should wipe them off the face of the earth?”
Aston clenched his jaw. “Consider your decision, Arcus. If you are not with me, then you are against me ,” he said tightly.
“I’ve already considered, and MY answer is no. I refuse,” Arcus declared. The police sirens were close now.
Aston seemed to be disappointed. “So be it,” he said. “Next time…” he remarked ominously. He snapped his fingers, the black hole appeared again. Max, Sage, and Aston disappeared.
“Friggin’ showoff,” Arcus muttered. Police cars swerved around the corner, and barreled towards the friends who were left. Just as it seemed it was about to hit them, it screeched to a halt. Two officers climbed out of the car, pulled out their pistols, and yelled “Freeze!”
They froze. One officer said, “Sir, put down the weapon if you know what’s good for you!” Arcus didn’t know what they were talking about. Then he realized his arm was still electrified. It must’ve looked like a cattle prod or a tazer to them.
“Stand down, Williams,” said a woman’s voice. She must’ve been pretty influential, because he obeyed immediately. She got out of the other police car and walked up to them. “Sorry about that, he’s not the trusting type,” she said, while she glared at the officer. She turned her attention to Arcus. They were about the same height. “We got a call of suspicious activity, involving someone named Aston Exitium,” she said. “He’s a wanted fugitive from the government,” she continued. “My name is Mariam Dolosus.”. She offered to shake Arcus’ hand. He just cocked an eyebrow at her. She pulled her hand back. “Right. Bad idea. Don’t want to get electrocuted. Anyway, I know what happened to you, and I also know someone who can help you. I have a friend named Mark Callidus. He’s a forensic scientist, very involved in police cases, and he studies mutation as sort of a side project. The only reason I know about it is because he spouts off about his discoveries to anyone he meets. He has answers for you, for example, like why you have fifty thousand volts running through your arm right now,” she proposed.
Arcus looked at his friends, and then looked back at her. “How do we know we can trust you?” he asked skeptically.
She shrugged. “You can’t,” she admitted.
Arcus paused. “Seems legit,” he said.
“Get in a car, and I’ll take you to him,” she said, gesturing for the drivers to unlock the car doors. “He knows all about people like you.”
Conscientia (Chapter 3)
Thankfully, Arcus’ arm stopped spitting out voltage just as they got in the car. He had a feeling he would blow the engine if he sat in it while electrified. He was with Leo and Shadix in one car while Mila and Annie rode in another. Now that his adrenaline had worn off, he felt absolutely exhausted. No, not tired… more like drained. He rested his head against the window, and slept almost immediately. He began to dream…
He dreamt that he was with his parents again… before the tragedy. His father looked happy to be with them. Then his dream changed. He was running in slow motion. His father was in his police uniform, cuffing a gang member on the hood of his cop car. It was strange seeing it, as he wasn’t even there when it happened. He saw the gang member on the car smile evilly as another crept up behind his father with a knife. Arcus couldn’t cry out, and he couldn’t run any faster to warn him. The other gang member thrust downward-
Arcus woke up, and almost punched the officer in the passenger seat with those fifty thousand volts. He stopped at the last second, breathing hard. Leo and Shadix were napping as well. He quickly willed his arm to stop doing the electric thing, and it worked. Apparently he didn’t have enough power yet to blow the engine. He laid back in his seat, thinking. What must his mom be thinking? He should probably find a phone or something and contact her, tell her that he was okay.
The car stopped in front of what looked like a laboratory. He remembered what Mariam said about Callidus, and he figured that’s exactly what it was. She rushed Arcus, Mila, Shadix, and Leo inside. It was your stereotypical laboratory, with beakers full of chemicals. It reminded him of his science class, really. He saw a man with a white lab coat on holding a jagged piece of some red material. When he saw it, he began to feel dizzy again. He supported himself on the lab table. The others seemed to be in a similar situation.
The scientist stood up straight, and looked at the strange group of high schoolers. “Ah, so these are the test subje- ahem, people you were telling me about, Mariam?”
“Yes indeed,” Mariam affirmed. He put the shard down, came over to them, and started looking them up and down. He seemed like your stereotypical mad scientist, except without the spiky white hair. He seemed sane enough, though.
“How’s it going?” he asked.
Mila, Shadix, and Arcus all elbowed each other. “So, you may be wondering what happened to you. Well, I can tell you. It’s a long explanation, though. You may want to sit down,” Callidus suggested.
He took them over to what looked like a lounge area where there were several couches. Arcus thought they looked strange in a place like this, however he wasn’t complaining. They all sat down. “Why don’t you tell me your story,” Callidus inquired.
Arcus began at… well, the beginning. Mila and Annie jumped in to add some details if he forgot anything. Callidus didn’t seem surprised at what had happened. “Okay, let me explain what the cube is first. The official name is the Mobius Cube. How you found it is irrelevant, however I have an interesting idea how. Basically, all of you have a specific gene in your DNA. It’s called the Imperium gene,” explained Callius. “Imperium is the Latin word for power.”
“I remember Aston Exitium calling us… imperials?” asked Shadix.
Callidus nodded. “That’s the term for the people who have the gene, yes.
When you pushed in on the handles, Arcus, it activated the function of the cube. It’s an extremely advanced device. Why or how it teleported you here, I have no idea. Anyway, what it does is drain the neuro-electric energy from normal humans in a wide radius, depositing it into all Imperials in the vicinity, giving them superhuman abilities. The activation, however, creates an extremely large concussive force that no regular human could survive,” he explained.
They stared blankly at him.
“Oh, all right then,” he said, annoyed. “Think of it like this: it drains the life force of normal humans and gives it to you, so you get superpowers, and a side effect is that it blows up. Got it?” They nodded. Callius became serious. “Like I said, it’s extremely advanced. It was created by the owners of multi-billion dollar corporations, of which Aston is one… probably CORRUPT multi-billion dollar corporation owners. I am reasonably sure that this was not the only Mobius Cube out there. They wouldn’t be stupid enough to only make one; after all it explodes when you use it. It would be logical to assume that Aston has been exposed multiple times, increasing his powers exponentially. Anyway, even I don’t fully understand how it works, but rest assured that it works.”
Arcus got a sick feeling in his stomach. “So… the people lying in the crater were…”
“Dead, in fact,” Callius finished.
“That’s terrible!” cried Mila.
“I’m inclined to agree with you, however there’s nothing we can do about it now,” Callius said firmly. “What you CAN do is figure out a way to increase your powers, and defeat Exitium. If he’s still around, and some of your friends are with him, the city is in danger,” Callius warned. “One other thing…” he continued. “When the Mobius Cube detonated, it split into tens, possibly a couple hundred shards,” he said.
“Like the one you have over there?” inquired Leo.
“Yes, very much like this one,” Callius said, standing up and walking over to it. He picked it up and brought it back to the table. “Arcus, why don’t you hold it?” he said.
As Arcus touched it, he felt that strange guiding force coming back to him. He held it in both hands out in front of him in a vertical fashion, and dumped at least a couple amps into the thing. It disintegrated in his hands. No, literally, it disintegrated INTO his hands.
“Aha! I thought that would happen,” Callius declared triumphantly. He became serious. He looked Arcus in the eye. “The more shards you collect, the more energy storage you will have. The more you use your powers, the more powerful they will become. Think of it like this: You have a battery. More shards increase the capacity of the battery. Draining and charging the battery will let the current flow easier, and faster. Get the picture?”
Arcus nodded. “So…” Arcus said. “Our to-do list: 1. Find out what our powers are. 2. Collect Mobius shards to improve our charge capacity. 3. Practice using our powers as often as we can. 4. Find and defeat Aston Exitium, probably the most powerful Imperial in existence. Yeah. Yeah, we can do that .”
Doctrina (Chapter 4)
“I have a question,” Annie offered. Arcus noticed something strange about her voice, but he couldn’t quite pin down what it was. “Ask away,” Callidus offered. “I remember something from my history class. Were the people the ancient Greeks and Romans considered demigods actually Imperials?” Annie inquired. Callidus’ face brightened, as if he was happy someone mentioned that. “Yes, in fact,” Callidus said. “Of course, they didn’t need a complex machine like the Mobius Cube to bring the Imperium gene to full power. It was a much more dominant gene back then. For example you, Arcus, would be considered a son of Zeus/Jupiter, lord of the sky. You have control of lightning, after all. It took thousands of years, but eventually the gene began to recess. Of course, the ones who still possessed it were powerful figures in history. Leadership came naturally to them. They didn’t have abilities like yours, though.” Callidus paused. “The probability of seven different imperials coming together, however, is astonishing,” he murmured. “No wonder Aston wanted you on his side. With you, doubtless he would’ve taken control of the city, most likely the world.” Arcus assumed he meant the entire group, however Callidus seemed to look at Arcus specifically when he said it. He felt a shiver go down his spine. “Wait a second,” Shadix interrupted. “If these supposed demigods existed, did mythological monsters exist too?” Callidus’ face darkened. He looked like a weight had just been put on his shoulders. He stood up and began pacing in front of his chair. “I find that most myths are based on a single grain of truth,” he began. He stopped and looked at the group resolutely. “Why should this one be any different?” he asked darkly. He began pacing again. “I have a theory,” he continued. “I believe there is another gene in the human population, similar to the Imperium gene. Those monsters you were talking about? Let me talk about one in particular. You know about the Minotaur?” he asked. Arcus didn’t see how this was relevant, but he decided to humor the scientist. “Half man, half bull,” Arcus volunteered. Callidus nodded. “And what does that sound like to you?” Callidus pressed. Arcus had to think on that one. Then, he thought of something that brought another chill down his spine. “Mutation,” he said slowly, the truth dawning on him. “Exactly,” Callidus affirmed. “I call it the Turpis gene.” Arcus felt a stab of fear go through his heart when he heard the name. The strange thing was he didn’t know why. Callidus continued his story. “The gene is rare, mind you, but it exists nonetheless. A rivalry… no, not a rivalry. A WAR between the Imperials and the Turpisians has been going on for over seven thousand years. The gene is recessed, yes, but like the Imperium gene, it still spreads its vile influence. Adolf Hitler is a good example.” He paused and looked at us. “What, you think the gene hasn’t been involved in recent events? Why do you think terrorists exist in the first place?” he asked. No one volunteered an answer. Callidus cleared his throat. “Thankfully, my theory would suggest that the gene has recessed even more since then. If someone built a machine to bring the Turpis gene back to full dominance, the effect would only be temporary.” He clapped his hands. “Well! That was depressing. I have a couple beds in the back in case I’m here late working on a project, which is pretty often. You all should get some sleep.” Arcus realized how tired he was now that the adrenaline of the day had worn off. He stumbled to the back room. He laid down on one of the beds, and passed out before his head hit the pillow. He began to dream again.
He dreamed that he was listening to a conversation between his parents through his bedroom door. This memory was an old one, so old that he had almost forgotten it. His parents’ voices were slightly muffled, but he could understand them well enough. He heard his mom talking. “-can’t go. You know you can’t go, it’s too dangerous,” his mom pleaded. “It’s just for a couple days, Mary. Just until we can get things to settle down over there,” his father’s voice soothed. “Please, John, I can’t lose you,” Mary begged. “You won’t. I’ll be fine, I promise,” John said, gently but firmly. Arcus didn’t know it at the time, but now he knew that was the only promise his father couldn’t keep.
He woke up disoriented at first. It all came rushing back to him in a flood. All the stuff about genetics, powers, and myths seemed like some crazy hallucination to him now. He snapped his fingers, and watched the orange-red sparks fly outward. He was warming to the idea of having superpowers. He was having fun creating sparks and miniature lightning bolts between his hands, until a spark landed on the bed behind him. He felt something hot on his back a few seconds later. He leapt backwards and yelled “Whoa!” He looked frantically around for a fire extinguisher, until he was suddenly doused in cold water. He coughed, and rubbed his eyes. “Where did that come from?” he wondered aloud. He opened his eyes, and saw Mila standing a few feet away from him. “Sleep well?” she asked with her arms crossed, a smirk on her face. Half his brain thought she was cute when she did that. The other half told it to shut up. “Did you…” he started. “Yep,” she affirmed. “I figured out what I could do when I took a shower,” she continued. “There are showers here?” he asked incredulously. Mila looked at him like she didn’t know whether or not to take him seriously. “Really? We just found out you activated a sci-fi device, that we have superpowers, and that Aston Exitium is trying to kill us, and the strange part about that to you is that there are showers here?” she asked, tilting her head to one side. Arcus shrugged. “Point taken,” he admitted. “Anyway,” Mila continued. “I was awake instantly, and all the cuts and bruises I had yesterday started closing up. After that, I found out that I could manipulate the water,” she concluded. Arcus regarded her with a newfound respect. “So, water and electricity, huh?” he asked. “Not just those two,” Mila corrected. “You might want to come out into the lab,” she offered. Arcus followed her out of the back room. He didn’t see anything, though. That’s when he heard it. Footsteps. That didn’t make any sense, though. There was nobody except Mila and him in the room, and she was standing still. The footsteps continued until they stopped right in front of him. That was when Leo decided to magically appear out of thin air and yell “Boo!” at the top of his lungs. Arcus jerked backwards and banged his thigh on the metal counter behind him. “Ow.” He said, exasperated. Leo was grinning. “Pretty cool, huh?” he asked. “How did you even…” Arcus started. Leo walked to one of the tall windows on the left wall. Morning sunlight was streaming in. “Watch this,” Leo instructed. He held out his hand to the sunlight, and Arcus had to rub his eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. Light was condensing (for lack of a better term) into Leo’s outstretched palm. He held it out for Arcus to look at. It was too bright to look directly at it, so Arcus shielded his eyes with his hand. He stared at Leo. Leo stared back. “Light?” Arcus asked. “Light,” Leo confirmed. He lightly flung the miniature sun into the air and watched as it made a little fireworks show as it dissipated. Arcus crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Okay, if you’re trying to make me jealous… it worked,” he admitted. Leo grinned again. He seemed to be fond of doing that. “Oh, and that little disappearing trick you saw earlier...” Leo snapped his fingers, and light almost seemed to split where it hit Leo’s skin. After a couple seconds, Arcus couldn’t see anything. Leo faded back into existence. “I can bend light around myself, along with other objects or people, creating the illusion of invisibility,” Leo explained. “I take back what I said earlier,” Arcus said. “Now I’m really jealous.” Leo shrugged. “Don’t take it personally that I’m more awesome than you are,” he said airily. Arcus punched him lightly in the arm. Leo yelped and leapt back. “You okay?” Arcus asked, concerned. Leo winced. “Yeah. SHOCKING *wink* how hard you punch, huh?” he asked jokingly, although he looked to be in some pain. Arcus rubbed the back of his head ruefully. “I’m going to have to learn to control that,” Arcus said. “Well, this is a perfect opportunity to show you what else I can do,” Leo said. He walked back to the window and gathered light in his hand again. This time, he rubbed it on the bruise Arcus had given him. After a few seconds, it was gone. Leo grinned. “Again… pretty cool, huh?“ Arcus nodded absentmindedly. He looked around. “Where’s Shadix, anyway?” he asked. Leo gestured with his hand. “Oh, he’s around,” he said airily. Arcus stared at Leo. “He’s behind me, isn’t he?” Arcus asked. Leo nodded. “How long has he been there?” Arcus inquired. “Oh, since we started talking,” Leo said. Arcus turned around. “Come out, I know you’re there,” he called. A shadow melted out of the wall in front of him. When it hit the ground, it turned into Shadix. He was grinning. Arcus stared at him. Shadix stared back. “Shadows?” Arcus ventured. “Shadows,” Shadix affirmed. “How did you know where I was?” Shadix asked. Arcus hesitated. “I’m… not sure exactly,” Arcus admitted. “Hmm…” Leo hummed. “What?” Arcus asked. “Let me try something,” Leo suggested. He turned invisible again. “Try and follow where I’m moving,” said his disembodied voice. Arcus didn’t know why, but his eyes traced a path winding through the maze of counters. He stopped in a particular spot. He pointed to where he was looking. “That where you are, Leo?” he called. Sure enough, Leo appeared where he was pointing. He put up his hands in mock surrender. “Guilty as charged,” he called back. “Have any idea how you do it?” Leo asked. Arcus rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Then he had an idea. “You were in science class, right?” Arcus asked. Leo nodded “What do you know about the nervous system?” Leo pondered for a second. “Well, it’s the line of communication between the brain and muscles, right?” Leo asked. Arcus nodded. “It sends messages by way of…” Leo’s eyes widened as he made the connection. “Electrical impulses,” Arcus finished. “Dude! You can sense my nervous system! That is SO cool!” Leo gushed. “Oh, don’t take it personally that I’m more awesome than you are,” Arcus said airily. They stared at each other. They both burst out laughing. When they stopped, Arcus looked around. “Where did Annie go?” he wondered. “Oh, she’s at the private testing facility,” Leo said vaguely. Arcus cocked an eyebrow at him. “It’s the fancy term for indoor firing range,” Shadix interrupted. “Indoor firing range? Do we HAVE an indoor firing range?” Arcus asked incredulously. “Yes, but not like what you’d think. Just follow me,” Shadix offered. He walked to a relatively large door to their left. Arcus glanced at Leo. “Did you know about this?” Arcus asked suspiciously. Leo shrugged innocently. Arcus shook his head, and followed Shadix through the door.
Arma (Chapter 5)
The room beyond the door made the lab seem tiny. Arcus didn’t know what he had expected, but it hadn’t been something on this scale. The dome-shaped structure seemed to stretch on forever. There were short metal walls arranged in lanes going to the back wall. There were targets at the end of each lane, basically a human torso with a bullseye painted onto it plus a head on top. The targets got closer the further to the right you walked. “How much time did it take to build this?” Arcus breathed. “Two hundred thirty six days, thirteen hours, six minutes and about fifteen seconds,” said a familiar voice from behind them. Arcus spun around. Mark Callidus was standing behind them. “Sleep well?” he asked, amused. Arcus looked back in wonder at the spectacle. “Why would you need something like this in a lab?” he asked. Callidus cleared his throat. “Well, apparently I’m the best scientist in my field of study, according to my record.” He coughed. “Best twenty bucks I ever spent. Anyway, let’s just say the government had me testing… experimental weaponry and leave it at that,” he said with a gleam in his eye. He snapped his fingers. “That reminds me. I have a project I’m working on, so I must be off. Annie over there has some answers for you.” Callidus walked back to the lab. The sound of the door echoed in the large space, which was ironic in light of what was to come next. Arcus, Leo and Shadix walked over to Annie. She was in front of one of the lanes, and seemed to be concentrating on her fist. Her back was to Arcus. He started to go up to her, but Leo put his hand on Arcus’ shoulder and shook his head. “Just watch,” he whispered quietly. Leo and Shadix shielded their ears with their hands. Arcus decided to follow their example. That’s when it happened. Annie lifted her fist into the air, still concentrating, and brought it down with all the force she could muster on the steel floor. Even though he was covering his ears, it was the loudest thing Arcus had ever heard in his life. A solid ripple of pure sound ricocheted across the walls and smashed into the target. Arcus thought it would be obliterated, but it seemed to be fine. The thing was, it didn’t sound like a high pitched whine, or a deep reverberating note. It sounded like the world’s loudest metal guitar chord. Arcus tried to smile, but it came out as a grimace since his ears hurt so badly. Figures, He thought. Annie turned around. “Hey guys!” she said, ever cheerful. There was a flurry of elbowing in the group. Arcus realized what he had noticed about Annie’s voice before. “Are you not deaf anymore? You talk quieter,” he said. Annie shrugged. “Guess not. It’s probably a side effect,” she said. “So, your power is sound then,” Arcus ventured. “Yep,” she confirmed. “I didn’t notice it yesterday, with power-hungry psychopaths trying to recruit us and everything, but when I woke up today I could hear stuff that I never could before. Plus, my music doesn’t seem to be loud enough anymore,” she complained. “Anytime I turn it up, it stays the same.” Arcus looked thoughtful. “You know, your power probably regulates it to the loudest it can get within the zone that’s safe for the human ear,” Arcus suggested dryly. Annie shrugged. Arcus clapped his hands. “Well! That’s number one on our to-do list down. We know what all our powers are.” Arcus’ eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “Number three is ongoing, of course. Now we just have to find some Mobius shards…”
Admonitio (Chapter 6)
“If you want to go get some Mobius shards, there are some things you need to know first,” Callidus began. It looked like an interrogation with Callidus sitting on one side of the table and Arcus, Annie, Mila, Leo, and Shadix on the other. It was a large table, it goes without saying. Callidus continued. “First: You do not officially exist. The government refuses to acknowledge the existence of Imperials. If the public knew that someone like Aston possessed such power, there would be widespread panic,” he explained. “It would be wise to search at night. This makes the search easier as well; you may have noticed the shards glow with a considerable amount of light. Plus, you won’t have to worry about civilians getting in your way. Next: Since the government refuses to acknowledge your existence, it also forces the media to downsize the problem of numerous gangs throughout the city.” Shadix intervened. “That shouldn’t be a problem. We could easily take any gang member,” he scoffed. Callidus nodded. “Yes, I’m sure you could,” Callidus said patiently. “However, there are three in particular that may cause problems for you. They are the Specters, the Loyalists, and the Elites. The Specters control the northwest island, the Loyalists control the northeast island, and the Elites control the south island. And before you ask,” he said hastily. “Normally, they would pose no threat to you. However most of them carry firearms, and there are Imperials in their numbers as well. Two of the three are led by Aston’s minions. The Elites are led by Aston himself. No doubt their Imperials have been exposed to a Cube before. You must take care. Don’t take any chances around them.” Callidus leaned toward Arcus. “You, I believe, have a skill that could become useful later. You were the one closest to the blast; therefore you are the strongest of the group. If your power is elecrokinesis, then you should be able to drain neuro-electric energy from a human manually. However, neuro-leeching a regular human would be fatal to them. If you are careful, you should be able to leech just enough energy from an Imperial to absorb their power, without killing them.” He stood up from his chair. “Come out into the lab. I have something to show you.” The group filed out of the office and into the laboratory. Callidus walked over to one of the counters and picked up a container. Apparently, it was very heavy. He grunted as he lifted the package onto the counter in front of them. “Arcus, why don’t you open it,” Callidus suggested. Arcus lifted the lid, and saw the most incredible, life-changing, mind-blowing-
“You already used that joke,” Leo called.
The others stared at him like he was-
“Hey! I’m talking to you!”
They started to- wait, you mean me?
“Yeah, you! You used that joke already.”
News flash: I’m the author here.
“Well, you’re not doing a very good job of it, are you?”
When did you get so impertinent? I CREATED you!
“I’m impertinent because you suck at creating things!”
Alright, that’s it. Time warp! *snap*
Arcus opened the box, and saw what looked like… “A tuning fork?” He asked incredulously. It was shaped… well, like a tuning fork. The handle and arms were about an inch in diameter. It was a grey-black color with numerous wires attached with what looked like duct tape. Callidus scoffed. “This ‘tuning fork’ is the most advanced piece of technology in this building. Pick it up,” he ordered. Arcus complied. Arcs of electricity immediately began flashing between the two arms. Arcus didn’t see why Callidus was struggling earlier. It seemed pretty light to him. “I created this device to focus and manifest your powers,” Callidus said. “It only works at close range, obviously. However, I think you’ll be satisfied with the results if things get messy.” Callidus reached back into the box and brought out another device. It looked like a sheath for the ‘tuning fork’. Callidus set it on the counter, and gestured for Arcus to place the weapon into it. Arcus complied. The electricity stopped flashing. “This sheath serves another purpose as well,” Callidus said. He reached into the box again, and this time brought out a long black strap. He connected it to opposite ends of the sheath, and handed the entire thing to Arcus. Arcus slung the weapon onto his back. He found that if he reached his right hand up, he could grasp the handle and draw the weapon quickly. He nodded to the scientist. “Thanks. This’ll be useful,” he said. Callidus nodded back. “Only took a couple thousand dollars to create that, but you’ll bring it back in one piece… I hope.” Callidus looked to the windows. The rusty golden rays of evening were already beginning to stream through the glass. He turned back to Arcus. “If you want to go, now would be a good time. I wish you luck.” Arcus nodded again. “I’ll make sure to bring it back in one piece… more or less,” he said with a ghost of a smile on his face. He walked to the doors. He turned back to Mila, Annie, Leo, and Shadix. His jaw was set. He cocked his head. “You coming or what?”
Invenio (chapter 7)
Arcus didn’t think he was in great shape. He thought wrong. He had been running for a while now, and didn’t even feel tired yet. Mila, Annie, Shadix and Leo seemed to have the same endurance. Arcus kept looking around, but he didn’t see any shards. The problem was he didn’t know where to look. A minute passed. Still no shards. He was starting to feel frustrated. Surely they should’ve run into at least one at this point. That’s when he felt it. He stopped, and the group came up to him. “Why are we stopping?” asked Leo. Arcus was looking around, trying to locate the thing, but he wasn’t having any success. The whole mess was giving him a headache. He pressed his index and middle finger to his temple to make it go away. That’s when things REALLY got weird. He gasped. It took his brain a second to process what was going on with his vision. He could see THROUGH the walls of the buildings next to him. Now, this wasn’t your average x-ray vision. He could see the power lines connected to houses, security systems on office buildings and warehouses, along with street lamps across the entire block. Or, more accurately, the electricity powering those things. Annie, Mila, Shadix, and Leo backed up when Arcus turned to them. “Dude!” Leo said. “What happened to your eyes, man?” But Arcus wasn’t paying attention. He looked up. There! He could see through the ceiling of a tall building about a block away. There was a small glowing shard of red material embedded into the brick. He took his hand away from his temple. Everything faded back to normal. “What? What’s wrong?” Mila asked. Arcus turned toward them. “Nothing. Follow me.” He raced off in the direction of the shard. The others kept close behind him. Arcus stopped in front of the building. He could see now that it was a large apartment complex. The problem was he didn’t know how they were going to get up to the roof. He knew the door would be locked, especially at this time of night. “I’m pretty sure there’s a shard up there,” Arcus said. Leo huffed. “Just great. NOW what are we going to do?” Leo complained. Arcus noticed something. Were those power lines running up the side of the building? Just to make sure, he tapped his temple. Sure enough, they lit up like a Christmas tree in his electro-vision. He needed to come up with a name for it eventually. He turned to Mila, Leo, Annie, and Shadix. “Wait here, I have an idea.” He walked up to the brick wall. He jumped as high as he could. He just managed to grab onto a window ledge. He started climbing. As the others watched him, Arcus realized he was better at this than he thought. He eventually reached one of the cables. It was surprisingly thick, actually. Probably reinforced withstand the elements. He grabbed onto it, and pulled himself upwards. He drained power from the cable as he vaulted up it. As he reached the end, he used the stored power to launch himself up the building. He tried to grab the roof as he flew up, but missed. He had overshot it! He was at least twenty feet above the roof at this point. He started falling back down. Arcus was desperate. He saw the roof coming up at him, closed his eyes, and braced himself for impact…
Only that impact never came. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes. He was above the roof, and looked to be… hovering? He looked down. His palms were facing towards the ground, and two orbs of energy were right below them. Well… this is new, Arcus thought. Okay, let’s see… down, He ordered mentally. He started drifting towards the roof. He landed lightly on his feet. He wiped the sweat off his forehead. Arcus walked over to the shard. He pulled it free. “Lot of trouble to go through for such a little thing,” he mused. He carried his prize to the edge of the roof. Okay, let’s try this again, he thought. He managed not to kill himself gliding down onto the street. Mila and Annie looked anxious. Shadix looked apathetic, leaning on a street lamp. Leo had his arms crossed and was tapping his foot. “Okay, Mr. ‘I fly like an eagle’. When did you learn that you could do that?” Leo asked in mock anger. “About thirty seconds ago,” replied Arcus. “I don’t think I can fly just yet, but I can glide. I’m pretty sure I use the earth’s magnetic field to slow me down.” Arcus inspected the Mobius shard in his hand. “The question is… who do I give this to?” He asked. “Well, I think the answer’s obvious,” Leo said. They all looked to him. “Give it to me, of course!” Leo said with a grin. Mila gave him a shut-up look. She turned back to Arcus. “I think you should have it,” she said. Arcus raised an eyebrow. “Me?” he asked. “Well, duh. You found it, and you’re the strongest of us all. You’re our best shot at winning,” Mila said. Arcus shrugged. “If you say so.” He held it out, and ran a few amps through it. This time, however, it didn’t disintegrate. It split into five smaller pieces. Arcus looked surprised. “What the…Well, that solves that problem.” He gave a piece to everyone. He took his piece, and repeated the process. It disintegrated, and Arcus absorbed it into his body. His vision immediately became sharper, and he didn’t feel as tired. He looked up. Everyone had already done the same. Leo looked at him expectantly. “What now?” he asked. Arcus turned around. He put his finger to his temple again. He spotted another shard a couple blocks away. He took his hand away, and turned back to the group. “One thing’s for sure,” Arcus declared. “We’re going to have a busy night.”
Macto (Chapter 8)
Arcus and friends had collected a few shards before they encountered him. He was a gang member, that they could see. It was pretty obvious for two reasons; 1. He was carrying an SMG and 2. He was wearing a red sweatshirt with a scythe on it. He had the hood up on his sweatshirt, so they couldn’t see his face. “Seriously, who wears hoodies anymore?” asked Leo. “What are they, standard issue for the Scythes or something?” They were about a block away from the guy, taking cover behind the corner of a building. “Leo, do me a favor,” Arcus said. “Yeah?” Leo inquired. “Shut up.” They could’ve easily avoided him, but the problem was he was leaning against the building where the next shard was. “Well, here goes nothing,” Arcus declared. He started walking towards the building. “What are you doing?” hissed Mila. “You’re going to get yourself killed!” Arcus raised his right hand over his shoulder, gesturing for them to stay back. He approached the building. When the man saw him, he instantly raised his SMG up to his shoulder. “Whoa, buddy,” he called. He smiled in a sinister fashion. “What’s a kid like you doing out at this time of night?” he asked in mock concern. “I’ll make you a deal; drop your wallet and phone on the ground, and nobody gets hurt,” the Scythe promised threateningly. “Yeah, no,” Arcus said. He threw a shockwave in the Scythe’s direction. It blasted the guy into the building. The gang member fell to pavement, unconscious. Arcus turned around, gesturing for Annie, Mila, Shadix, and Leo to come to him. Arcus turned around to see the supposedly unconscious gang member holding a pistol in his direction. Arcus barely had time to register the wild look on the guy’s face before the Scythe shot him.
It was painful, that was for sure. Arcus opened his eyes, gasping. He coughed. He grimaced, and held his rib cage. He saw Mila, Annie, and Leo kneeling over him. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Shadix lift the Scythe by his throat and slammed him into the cement wall. The Scythe crumpled to the ground. Arcus felt he must be having a pain-induced hallucination. His electro-vision thing was going crazy. He wasn’t even touching his temple, but he instinctively felt drawn to a street lamp a few feet away. He got onto his hands and knees, and tried to stand. He managed to get to his feet, but almost fell. Leo supported him. Arcus limped over to the lamp with Leo’s help and held out his hand, his palm facing upward. Immediately, several arcs of electricity linked with his hand. The pain instantly began to fade, and strength surged (heh... surged) through his limbs. He took a deep breath, and his vision snapped back to normal. That was good. He didn’t think black-and-white with red around the edges was the best way to see the world, anyway. He straightened up, and Leo stepped away. His eyes were wide. “Did you just…” Leo began. “Survive a bullet to the chest?” Arcus finished. “Yeah, I think I did.” Mila looked confused. “How were you still breathing after that? It doesn’t make any sense.” Arcus thought about that. “I think that activating the Imperium gene makes you tougher to kill. I mean, have you heard those stories about George Washington? After battles with the British, he would have bullet holes in his coat, but he would be perfectly fine. We know he was an Imperial, if what Callidus said is true.” Arcus looked at his watch, then up at the building. “Anyway, we need to grab this shard. We can head back to the lab after that. The sun’s about to come up.”
Demonstro (Chapter 10)
Arcus and friends walked into the area that was Mark Callidus’ lab. Arcus reached into his pocket and brought out six shards. He dumped them onto the center table. Callidus walked out of a back room. “I see that you’re back,” he said cheerfully. “Now, what have we here?” he asked, seemingly excited. Arcus pointed out the spread of jagged red fragments on the table. “Let’s just say we had a busy night and leave it at that,” he said dryly. Arcus picked one up and inspected it. He felt the power radiating from the piece. He looked back up at Callidus. “So these are pieces of the Mobius Cube?” Arcus asked. Callidus nodded. “How does it give us more charge capacity then? Isn’t it just a piece of metal?” Leo scowled at the ceiling. “I can think of a reason,” he muttered. Callidus shook his head vigorously. “Oh, no. It’s much more than that,” he began. “The material itself is a marvel of technology. It’s riddled with circuits, nanochips, and more micro-machinery than you could think of. It’s also extremely advanced in the biology level as well. I won’t go into details, but that’s how you can absorb them and increase your powers. The Cube was designed to work in an enclosed space, that way the device can dump all its power into an Imperial at once. The shards, when they’re in a close proximity, automatically embed into the Imperial, that way they don’t have to go looking for the shards. Unfortunately, that’s what you have to do.” Leo stared back up at the ceiling with grudging admiration. “So, you managed to come up with a somewhat reasonable explanation, huh?” he said, looking thoughtful.
Hey, I can be pretty good at sealing plot holes. Don’t underestimate me.
Arcus looked at him strangely. “Are you feeling okay, man? Maybe we stayed up too late.” Leo waved him off. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about it,” Leo said impatiently. “Just talking to… never mind.” Arcus shrugged. “Okay.” Callidus picked up one of the shards. “Mind if I take this one for study? I still have a few things I need to know,” he requested. Arcus spread his hands. “Go ahead. We only need five, anyway.” Callidus thanked him, and rushed off with the shard. Arcus looked at the one in his hand, and charged it. It shattered, and the red dust seeped into his skin. Arcus threw one to each friend. He realized that he hadn’t seen how they consumed a shard. He watched in semi-fascination as they did so. Mila’s shard froze over, and then the ice shattered. Only the ice was left, and the shard itself had disappeared. Leo’s grew so bright it was hard to look at, and then melted into his hand. Annie’s shattered like Arcus’ had, but he could see the fractures moving across the surface in a web-like pattern. Shadix just crushed his with his fist, and leeched the remains with coils of darkness. Arcus yawned. It was like a chain reaction. Everybody felt tired all of a sudden. “I’m going to sleep. See you guys in the morning,” Arcus said. “I call a bed,” Leo declared. “You were in a bed last time!” Annie complained. Callidus stuck his head out from a doorway. “I set up beds for all of you, by the way,” he said. Arcus was surprised. “When did you have time to do that?” he asked incredulously. Callidus shrugged. “Let’s just say government funding has its benefits,” Callidus said with a gleam in his eye. Arcus walked to the ‘bedroom’. Sure enough, there were five single beds there. Arcus turned to Annie, Mila, Leo, and Shadix. “I’m ready to crash. How about you?” he asked with a grin.
Valde (Chapter 11)
Again, Arcus was asleep before his head hit the pillow. He started to dream.
Arcus was running. He didn’t know why he was running, or from what. He just knew to keep going. He was in the city still, but there were no people. It was nighttime, so the sky was dark. The street lights were on, beacons glowing in a sea of darkness. He felt a presence behind him. It was massive. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. This wasn’t just any presence. It was dark, full of fury, malice and destruction. It was evil; there was no doubt about that. Arcus finally mustered the courage to look behind him. He couldn’t see anything, it was so dark. However, he still felt the presence; it was stronger than ever now. Arcus steeled himself. He stopped. He turned and faced the invisible monstrosity. He was in the middle of a street, with buildings on either side of him. All of a sudden, he heard a deep ear-splitting roar of fury. Two enormous eyes, seeming to burn with black fire, opened in the sky above him. A colossal shadowy hand slammed into the street in front of him, cracking the pavement. Arcus felt fear like nothing else in his life. He stood frozen on the spot. Then he heard a tiny, quiet voice in his mind. It was insistent. It was whispering for him to move. He decided to follow the instruction. He dive-rolled to the left just before a shadowy fist crashed into the place where he was just standing. He looked up at the malevolent eyes in the sea of black. He desperately wondered how he was supposed to defeat something like this. Then the tiny voice was back. He listened for a second, and then spread his arms out, palms facing downward. He concentrated hard, and slowly lifted them. Cracks appeared in the concrete, and two giant chunks of road lifted up into the air. The chunks, along with the ground below them, were crackling with electricity. He knew he couldn’t keep this up for long, so he gyrated them in a circle around him. Arcus waited until they were going fast enough, and flung them with incredible speed at the eyes of the creature. He heard the ear-splitting roar again, but this time it was in pain. He could feel the presence retreating. Arcus’ vision became blurry. He blacked out.
Arcus woke up in a cold sweat. He was panting hard. He wiped the sweat off his forehead, and wondered where that had come from. It occurred to him that he still remembered the dream. It wasn’t as terrifying in his memory, of course. He got up, and walked outside. The sun was shining through the large glass windows. He leaned against one of the walls, thinking. What does this mean for me? He questioned mentally. It was cool at first, but now I have to face the long-term. I’m in a different city, I have superpowers, and I have to stop a power-hungry psychopath from destroying the human race. Lot of responsibility. He chuckled. Kinda like that old saying, actually. Arcus thought. Then, he heard a strange sound. It started as deep echo, and slowly became higher pitched. Then it stopped, and he heard a sharp pinging sound. Arcus looked around. It seemed to be coming from the shooting range. He walked to the doors, and opened it quietly. He saw Shadix there, in front of one of the ‘lanes’. Shadix manifested some dark energy between his hands. It started as a sphere, but Shadix moved his hands across its surface. Arcus heard that deep echo, and as the sphere smoothed, the echo became higher pitched. The sphere lengthened, and developed a point on each end. When it was sharp enough, Shadix flung it side-hand at the target. It impaled itself directly in the middle of the bullseye, and made a sharp pinging sound. Arcus walked into the room, clapping his hands. Shadix turned around. “Morning… well, afternoon actually,” Shadix greeted. Arcus came up beside him. “Think you can do better?” Shadix challenged. Arcus cocked an eyebrow at him. “You kidding? Check this out.” Arcus repeated the process Shadix had done. He fashioned a bolt of pure power and flung it at the target next to Shadix’s. It hit the bullseye. This quickly evolved into a competition between both of them to see who could land the most difficult shot. Arcus made his bolt ricochet across the walls and floor before hitting the target. Shadix created two shadowy circles on the ceiling. He shot his bolt up, and it hit one of the circles. It came down out of the other and impaled the head of the target. Arcus’ bolt conducted through one of the metal walls to hit a target in the chest. Shadix created a small orb of shadow and lobbed it toward a target. Just as it was going to overshoot, Shadix shot a bolt at it. It exploded into black and green fire, engulfing the target. Arcus did the same thing, but his orb stuck to the target’s surface like a sticky grenade. It exploded and electrified the entire lane. Shadix paused. Then he lobbed two orbs into the air, and shot a bolt through each. They detonated like fireworks. Arcus upped it to three, and nailed each one. Shadix was forced to do four, and almost missed one. Arcus decided to go for broke. He concentrated for a full ten seconds, and then lobbed eight into the air. Shadix had a you’re-not-going-to-get-that-many-and-you-know-it expression on his face. Time seemed to slow down for Arcus. He lifted his hand, and sighted down each orb. He waited for one heartbeat. Two.
He let loose.
Eight bolts of electricity flew out from his hand. Eight orbs of electricity detonated. Shadix looked speechless. He opened his mouth and shut it a couple times. Arcus looked at him and grinned. “How about we call it a draw?” Arcus offered. Shadix regained the ability to speak. “Yeah, sure,” he said absentmindedly.
Sidus Bellum (Chapter 12)
Arcus and Shadix stumbled back out of the range. Arcus’ eyes were drooping. He yawned. “I feel tired already. Must’ve been from using all that energy.” They looked at each other. “Worth it,” they declared in chorus. Arcus somehow managed to get to his bed before passing out. He started to dream (Again)…
Arcus was in the city, but there were no people. It was nighttime, so the sky was dark. The street lights were on, beacons glowing in a sea of darkness. Arcus looked around. “Oh come on. I had this same dream like five minutes ago!” he yelled indignantly.
Hey, don’t blame ME. This is part of the entire plot!
Arcus stumbled back. “Wha- Who-“he sputtered.
Uh, nothing! (Memory wipe! *snap*)
Arcus shook his head. He blinked a couple times. “Uh… lost my train of thought there.” He turned around. He immediately tensed up. He felt that presence again! He was about to stand his ground when he heard that little voice in his mind. This time, it was telling him to run. He shrugged. Not hard, considering what was chasing him. He dodged through alleys, ran through side streets, and jumped a couple fences. No matter how fast he seemed to go, the monstrosity seemed to be getting closer. Apparently fate (AKA me) thought that would be a good time for him to hit a wall. It towered over the entire city, and it looked to be made of solid darkness. Figures, really. Arcus slid to a stop, and looked desperately for an opening. There weren’t any. He tried blasting through it with a pulse grenade. No effect. He tried cutting through it with a blade of pure electricity. No effect. He was beginning to feel frustrated, to say the least. Then the small voice in his mind started speaking again. Arcus stopped and listened. He collected energy in his hands again, this time particularly in the right hand. This time, instead of just letting go, he aimed it at the wall and slowly let the energy drain out. This meant it was concentrated as a beam, instead of an explosive. It slowly but surely began to penetrate the barrier. He moved it around in a circle large enough for him to slip through. The creature was almost on top of him. Arcus urged the beam to go faster. Just as the creature was about to flatten him into an Arcus-cake, the beam carved a hole through the wall. Arcus leapt through.
He woke up with a headache. Go figure. He blinked a couple times, and then sat up. He didn’t know if the dream was accurate, but if it was… He held out his hand, and focused. Sure enough, that same thin beam slid out of his hand. He caught himself just before it cut a hole in the wall. He shortened it down to a couple inches. He inspected it. He could see a blue haze around it, but the beam itself was white. He lengthened it to about three feet, and made it about an inch wide. He swung it like a sword, and it made a soft humming sound. He froze. “No freaking way… a lightsaber?” he asked incredulously. “Man, Leo would love this.” He laughed. He shut the beam off, and walked out into the lab yet again. The sun was low in the sky, and the rays streaming in from the windows were a rusty yellow. He stopped dead in his tracks. He felt that force guiding him again. It was pulling him in the direction of the front double doors. Arcus considered his options. Sit in the lab and be bored, or actually look at the city for the first time. He had almost been in shock when he found out about his powers, and the others had been at night. He strode over to the doors, and swung them wide open.
Indico (Chapter 13)
Arcus walked along the sidewalk, his hands in his pockets and whistling. (Seem familiar?) He was still following the guiding force, just at his own pace. People were passing him on either side, and the road was filled with cars. He had to admit, the skyscrapers around him were pretty impressive. Most of them were standard four-sided buildings, but he could see a couple that were a weird triangle shape. He figured it must be for some design purpose, though he couldn’t think of a reason why. As Arcus walked, he thought about his current position. As far as he could see, he wasn’t COMPLETELY screwed. He figured that if he didn’t reveal where they were staying, Aston wouldn’t be able to find them. Arcus just needed a way to intensify his power. The problem, he reflected, arises when I realize that I have no idea what I’m doing, he finished. He was still deep in thought when he heard tires make an ear-piercing screeching sound on the pavement. He heard someone yelling, “Hey! That’s my car!” He whipped around, and saw a red Chevy Volt zipping through traffic at an insane speed. Afterward, he thought it was ironic the car was a Volt. Anyway, continuing. He paused for a second. Then he tensed. Man, this is like the most generic event ever. I suppose I have to, he thought before taking off running.
*groan* Why do I even bother creating these characters?
Arcus was sprinting with all the strength in his legs. He must’ve been going at an amazing pace, but it still wasn’t enough. Let’s be real here; it was a car, and he was on foot. He slowed down, frustrated. He was about to throw a pulse grenade as a last-ditch effort, and he had even formed it in his hand, but he caught himself just in time. Even so, a small amount of energy escaped from his hand, and seemed to shadow the car as it weaved in and out of traffic. It eventually caught up with the vehicle, and stuck to it. It made the ascending pitch that the pulse grenade always did before exploding, and the sound seemed impossibly loud to Arcus since the car was already a few blocks away. He tensed up, waiting for the explosion.
It never came.
He eventually relaxed. He started to wonder what had happened. But then, he noticed something at the edge of his vision. He moved his head to one side, and then the other. It was a small bluish-white dot that moved as he turned his head. Just as a hunch, he tapped his temple again. He could still see the little ball of energy sticking to the back of the car about seven blocks away. He took his hand away from his head. He looked around. He realized that all the people were staring at him. He saw a couple cell phone cameras, and realized there were probably going to be a million videos of him throwing that little sphere of energy on YouTube within an hour. He shook his head, and sighed. “So much for staying unknown,” Arcus muttered, before sprinting to a nearby building, vaulting up the side via use of a convenient power cable, and disappearing over the roof.
Praeteritus Sonitus (Chapter 14)
Annie was sitting on her bed. She was so lost in thought, she didn’t notice Arcus get up and leave the room. At least, she didn’t give any sign that she had seen anything. Her hand was resting on her leg, palm facing upward. She was staring at it intently. It looked almost like she was willing it to do something, but it wasn’t responding. She sighed. She couldn’t resist the urge anymore. She snapped her fingers. She saw a spherical ripple echo out from her hand, and rebound off the four walls. It was loud, but not too loud as to make her flinch. As she did this, she was thinking about her family.
Her dad was your stereotypical rock fan. He and Annie were close, and often did things together. He taught her how to play guitar at the age of four. Drum set, bass, acoustic, keyboard, even singing (a little bit). You name it, she could play it. She recalled a song that she liked. She waved her hand in an intricate pattern, and the resulting sound waves mimicked the tune exactly. She chuckled softly. She was her own mp3 player, as it were. She held her left hand out to the left, and brought her right hand to the low center. She pressed her index, middle, and ring finger onto what seemed like empty space, and whipped her right hand up and down a couple times. A perfect E chord rang out in the small space. She took her right hand, and cupped it to her ear. Her vision changed. She could literally see sound. Not only current sounds, but long-passed echoes. She saw sound ‘footprints’ all over the room, but there was a trail of dull rapping sounds going from Arcus’ bed to the door that seemed… fresh. Don’t bother asking how she knew that they were dull rapping sounds. She couldn’t tell you. She put her hand down, and started playing her air guitar again. She thought about her mother.
Her mother was more of a classical music fan. Symphonies, to be exact. She liked subtle music, not loud. The kind that would form a base for other, more prominent instruments. Annie’s air guitar shifted form, until it resembled a violin. Her mother had taught her how to play such instruments as well. Woodwinds, brasses, strings… Annie’s parents definitely had similar interests. Whenever it came up in conversation, that’s the reason they would give for marrying each other. Annie looked up at the ceiling, and farther. She saw the cries of small birds in the sky, the roar of airplanes, and the slight flapping sound of a kite. She looked back down. She dissolved her air violin, and kept thinking.
She had many friends at school. Rock ‘n’ roll was universal, apparently. When she had met Mila for the first time, they were instantly friends. Now that she thought about it, when she had met Sage, Leo, Arcus, Max, and even Shadix, they were instantly friends. Well, Max was an exception. He wasn’t exactly the easiest to get along with. Annie thought about that. She wondered if the Imperium gene was attracted to others of its kind. She shook her head. That would be a question to ask Callidus. She decided to stretch her legs. She got up, and walked out into the lab. As soon as she stepped foot into the space, she sensed something. She cupped her hand to her ear again. Across the room, she saw echoes of footsteps leading to the doors. She saw the soft slam that the doors had made after they had shut. But if they had been shut, someone must have opened them. That didn’t make sense. She knew Callidus was busy studying the shard, and she had just been in the bedroom with Shadix, Mila, Leo, and… The pieces fell into place. “Why would Arcus decide to leave?” she whispered, slightly confused. “Who knows why he does what he does? He’s impulsive, that’s for sure,” said a voice from behind her. She spun around. Shadix was leaning against the doorframe. “You think so?” Annie asked. Shadix had a grim expression on his face. “I’ve known him for a while. He’s a good guy, but he has his moments,” he said. Annie turned back to the entrance. She sighed. “I hope he knows what he’s doing,” she said, hoping against hope.
Praeteritus Umbra (Chapter 15)
Meanwhile, a few minutes earlier…
Shadix was laying in his bed, his feet crossed and his hands behind his head. He stared up at the ceiling, thinking. He knew immediately when Arcus decided to leave the room. Shadix didn’t really pay attention, however. He was too absorbed in his thoughts. Unlike Arcus, he didn’t really have a tragic past. He didn’t have any family members that died, his parents were still together, and he was content. He had friends, but not too many. He preferred to be alone most of the time. He was self-sufficient, and responsible. Some might even call him wise. Shadix didn’t know about that, but he knew many things from experience. He wasn’t like most people, that was for sure. He made a stirring motion in the air with one finger. Miniature tendrils of darkness swirled around. He and Arcus went way back. They had first met in middle school. They weren’t exactly friends, but they weren’t anything else either. It was a sort of pseudo-friendship that they shared. They helped each other occasionally, and asked each other for favors. Leo, on the other hand, was downright annoying the first time they met. Over the years however, Shadix began to appreciate his annoyingly cheerful attitude. So far, Leo was the only person that had succeeded in making Shadix laugh. He thought that Leo should get some kind of reward for that. He opened his palm, and black fire blazed to life. He stared in fascination as it seemed to consume the light around it, making the flame grow bigger. He closed his fist, extinguishing the flame. He sent his train of thought in a different direction. He closed his eyes and focused. Gray lines began etching themselves on the inside of his eyelids. Before long, the entire room had been mapped out, and he could see it with his eyes closed. His vision was still black, but the outlines of shapes were different colors. He moved his head, and he could see through the walls to the street. He saw people walking outside outlined in white. He turned his head back. Annie was sitting on her bed, and she was outlined in green. The walls themselves were outlined in gray. He opened his eyes. His vision snapped back to normal. He could also see Mobius shards while doing that, and it was a good way to see in total darkness. As he was thinking about that, he saw Annie get up and leave the room. His sense of drama would not be denied. He got out of bed, and walked silently to the doorway. He had mastered that particular technique, by the way. He leaned against the door frame. “Why would Arcus decide to leave?” Annie whispered. Shadix knew what she was talking about. He had known Arcus for a long time, and he could guess what he was up to. He spoke up. “Who knows why he does what he does? He’s impulsive, that’s for sure.” Annie turned around. “You think so?” she asked. Shadix’s face became grim. He thought about all his experiences with Arcus. “I’ve known him for a while. He’s a good guy, but he has his moments,” he said. Annie turned back around. She sighed. “I hope he knows what he’s doing.” Shadix was pretty sure that Arcus had no idea whatsoever, but he didn’t say it out loud.
Praeteritus Levis (Chapter 16)
Leo was lying in his bed, thinking. Not about the present, but the past. More specifically, his childhood. Leo had been bullied for most of his life. He had developed his cheerful personality for a reason. He knew from experience that sometimes if you crack a couple jokes, the bullies keep you around for laughs. His parents kept switching schools, trying to find somewhere better for him. It hadn’t worked. That is, until he switched to an unsuspecting-looking school in Initium city. Honestly, the first time he heard the name, he wondered who came up with this stuff. They were in third grade, and it was recess. Unlike a normal kid, Leo viewed the playground like a minefield. It had been his first day here, and he had already seen a couple potential threats. Sure enough, a few idiots had him cornered against a wall within a couple minutes. They were making fun of him, until another kid started towards them. He came up behind Leo’s torturers, and snapped his fingers. “Move,” he said. Leo still remembered the sound of his voice. It was deep, quiet, and held an undertone of sheer fury so great that Leo shivered. Apparently, he held some power around that place, because the tormenters quickly ran off. The new kid watched them run away, and then coughed a couple times. “I really shouldn’t do that so often, it hurts my throat,” Arcus said, and offered Leo his hand. From then on, they had become best friends. Now that Leo knew about the Imperium gene, he thought maybe the fact that they were both Imperials had something to do with their instant friendship. He shook his head. That would be a question to ask Callidus. He heard guitar sounds coming from the other side of the room. He figured that was Annie playing her air guitar again. He held his hand in front of his face. He widened his eyes, and his pupils dilated. Suddenly, he could see through his hand to the ceiling above. Everything in his vision was a shade of yellow. He could see through his hand, but he could also see his own veins, bones, nerves, muscles, and tendons inside. The bones were almost pure white, with a small gold tinge. His veins were an orange color, and his muscles were closer to maroon. He knew from experience that if any sort of injury occurred to him, it would show up in bright red. Useful information, to be sure. He looked out to the street through the wall. Cars were speeding by en masse, but he noticed one man in a red Chevy Volt. He saw a small red spot in the man’s chest. When he was looking at the back of the car, he could swear he saw some sort of neon blue sphere. Leo blinked a couple times, and looked again. By that time, the car had already gone beyond his vision range. He willed his vision to go back to normal. He looked around the room, and saw that Shadix was leaning against the doorframe. He heard Annie whisper something. He heard the words ‘Arcus’ and ‘leave’. He quickly looked at Arcus’ bed. He switched on his light-vision, but he didn’t see Arcus in the building. He turned his attention back to the conversation. “- impulsive, that’s for sure,” said Shadix. A second later, he heard Annie reply. “You think so?” she asked. Shadix paused. “I’ve known him for a while. He’s a good guy, but he has his moments.” Leo heard Annie sigh. “I hope he knows what he’s doing.” Of course, Leo knew that Arcus had no idea whatsoever. He didn’t say anything.
Mila was trying to sleep, but her thoughts kept her awake. She was trying not to think about her past, but eventually she couldn’t resist. She was engulfed in a flood of memories. Before she moved to Initium city, her family had no money. Her father would get odd jobs here and there, and her mother kept insisting that things would get better eventually. Mila hadn’t bought it at the time, but now she had to admit her mother had been right. After years of being poor, they finally had enough money to sell their one-story ‘house’ and buy a new one in Initium. Really, their previous ‘house’ was just barely big enough to be classified as one. Anyway, her dad found a job there that would pay the bills, put food on the table, and give them a respectable savings account. When Mila went to the school for the first time, she was a bit nervous. She didn’t have any friends in Initium yet. She was walking down a hallway, carrying her ridiculously large books, when some jerk decided to ram into her. She fell to the ground, her books scattered everywhere. The guy continued walking, chuckling like an idiot. She blew her hair off her face, and started gathering everything again. When she looked up, she saw someone holding out her history textbook to her. “Drop something?” Arcus had asked, smiling. She took the book from him. “Thanks,” she said softly. He held out his hand. She took it, and he pulled her up off the floor. They were both late for their classes, but Mila thought it had been worth it. She still thought of that day. She heard music coming from the end of the room. She knew it was Annie playing her air guitar again. Mila lay in her bed for a while, thinking about other things. That is, until Annie got up and walked out. “Why would Arcus decide to leave?” Annie whispered. Immediately, Mila was wide awake. She rolled around until she could see the door from her bed. “Who knows why he does what he does? He’s impulsive, that’s for sure,” Shadix said. Mila grimaced. She knew just how impulsive Arcus could be at times. “You think so?” Annie asked. Mila couldn’t see Shadix’s face. After a pause, Shadix spoke. “I’ve known him for a while. He’s a good guy, but he has his moments.” Mila could see Annie turn around and look at the front doors. “I hope he knows what he’s doing,” Annie said. Mila knew that Arcus didn’t have a clue, but she also knew Arcus could surprise even himself sometimes. She hoped that this was one of those times.
Praeteritus Fulgur (Chapter 19)
Arcus ran across a rooftop, and jumped off the side of the building. Just as it looked like he wouldn’t make the other roof, he mag-lifted himself just enough to clear the edge. He kept running, maintaining his momentum throughout the entire thing. It was nighttime now. He was following that force again, but he had decided to use the rooftops. It was faster, since he didn’t have to deal with pedestrians or cars. As he ran, he was thinking. More specifically, he thought about his childhood. He remembered that time in third grade when he had met Leo for the first time. He remembered the time in sixth grade when he had met Shadix. He more keenly remembered the time a couple years ago when he had met Mila… and not just because it was more recent, either. He remembered the look on her face when he handed her that textbook. He cracked a smile. She had an amazed expression when she saw him for the first time. Their friendship had grown rapidly after that. He had talked with her, and asked her about her family. She had told him her history, about her parents and relatives. He remembered telling her about his cousin Jason. Mila had a couple distant relatives that she talked to occasionally. She also had a couple cousins, though she mostly talked with this guy named Percy. Arcus thought about the others. When he had first met Leo, he chased a couple bullies away from him. Arcus grimaced, and rubbed his throat. He had done ‘The Voice’ thing one too many times that day. Now, he could do it easily. When he tried to recall him and Shadix meeting, he couldn’t think of the exact situation. His early memories of Shadix were… fuzzy. He thought it might be because of their ‘friendship’. However, Arcus couldn’t shake the feeling that that wasn’t the reason. They weren’t exactly friends, but they weren’t anything else either. They knew each other, and occasionally helped each other out, but that was about it. They didn’t hang out with each other, not like Arcus and Leo did. He jumped off another roof, and landed on a thick power cable connecting two buildings. Since the incident, he knew that he could do acrobatics and balance way better than he could before. However, when he landed on the cable, his feet slipped out from under him with a strange zapping sound. He flailed desperately, and managed to grab the cable with his hand. He grunted, and slowly pulled himself back up to the roof. He rolled over the edge, relieved. He got up, and looked back at the cable. Okay, he thought. Let’s try this again. He backed up, and ran to the edge. He jumped, and this time he went as straight as possible. He landed on the cable, but this time he stayed on. He slid forward on it, his shoes creating sparks that rained down on the alleyway below him. The cable and his shoes were crackling with electricity. He bent down, making himself as aerodynamic as possible. He went even faster. He was having fun… that is, until he reached the end of the cable. His momentum propelled him forward, and he was too disoriented to mag-lift himself. He locked up, and braced himself for impact.
This time, the impact actually came. He practically flew across the rooftop at a crazy pace, scraping his knees, elbows, and pretty much everything else until he rammed into a ledge. It was painful, to say the least. He groaned, and sat up. He was pretty sure he’d broken a rib, maybe a couple. He took a ragged breath, and tapped his temple. There was an air-conditioning unit on the side of the building, to his left. He got up, limped over to the edge, and grasped the unit with his hand. Power flowed through his arm, and he immediately felt better. After a few seconds, he could feel his ribs mending themselves within his chest. He drained power for a couple more seconds just to make sure. He straightened up. He thought for a few seconds. He needed a better way to traverse the city… a faster way. He walked over to the edge overlooking the street. He leapt off, and slowed his fall at the last second. He looked at the long street with scrutiny. He knelt down, and touched the asphalt with his hand. He lightly dragged his hand across the coarse surface. Wherever his hand touched, little arcs of electricity jumped from his hand to the street and back. He straightened up. He had an idea. He held out his hand, palm downward. He moved his hand around in a circular pattern. His palm glowed a blinding blue-white color, and a disc began forming under it. It lengthened into an oval shape, and Arcus let it drop to the ground. Just as it was about to hit, it bounced upward on seemingly empty air. It stopped moving, and stayed there hovering inches above the street. Arcus smiled. He stepped onto the disc with one foot.
It slipped out from under his foot, and he did a cartoon-like fall onto the ground. The disc sped forward a couple feet before stopping. He groaned, got up, and glared at the thing. He sighed. Let’s try this again, He thought.
Many yelps, cries of ‘Ow!’, and maybe a couple muffled curses could be heard in the city that night.
Arcus was breathing hard. He was glaring at the disc, floating innocently just a few feet away. He grimaced. He ran up, jumped into the air, and landed perfectly with both feet planted on it. His momentum carried it forward. He positioned himself like he was surfing, one foot in front of the other. He bent forward, urging it to go faster. It obeyed. He cracked a smile. He accelerated, and turned sharply at a corner. The edge of the disc scraped the street, creating sparks. He straightened out. He looked behind him at the corner with satisfaction, and then looked forward again. A wall was coming straight at him. It was too late to slow down. He acted on instinct. He bent his knees down, and the disc shrunk closer to the ground. He waited for the right moment, and jumped. The disc stuck to his feet, and launched into the air. Arcus pushed with his back foot, making the disc go vertical. It hit the side of the building, and repulsed off the surface. Arcus was thrown backwards, yet somehow managed to land with the disc under his feet. He stopped, grinning widely and breathing hard. After a few seconds, he noticed something. It was a red glow coming from the side of a building near him. He tapped his temple, and sure enough, a Mobius shard was almost completely embedded into the surface. He coasted over there on his disc. He looked up at the building, and decided to try something new. He crouched on the disc. It gathered energy with a humming sound. The humming became higher pitched. Arcus waited, and then he released the energy. It launched him upwards, and he grabbed a windowsill. The disc dissolved. He looked at the shard. With normal vision, he could only see the tip. He tried pulling it out with his free hand. After a few minutes, he gave up. It was too far embedded. He looked down, and had an idea. He pulled his feet up until they were on both sides of the shard. Arcus pushed his feet off the building for long enough to form the disc between them. He gathered energy in the disc again, and grabbed hold of the tip with both hands. The disc stayed in place, and hummed again. Arcus released the energy. It hurled him off the building, but this time he was holding the shard. He landed on his back. Painfully. He got up, groaned, went over to a street light and drained some power from it. He breathed a sigh of relief. He looked at the shard in his hand. He tapped his temple, and saw another shard a few blocks away. Another busy night. Just my luck, he thought. He created the disc, and flung it a few feet away. He jumped on, and looked at his watch. I’ve got five, six hours? He thought. I can probably find six, seven… He revved his disc, and it hummed. Maybe ten, he finished, before blasting off into the night.
Invenio… Iterum (Chapter 19)
“I believe I have made a breakthrough,” Callidus announced. Annie and Shadix stopped to look at him. “What sort of breakthrough?” inquired Shadix, crossing his arms. Callidus spread his arms out as if preaching. “It’s a breakthrough concerning the Mobius shards. I believe I now have the knowledge to construct a biological-slash-technological centrifuge powerful enough to synthesize shards into one mass, allowing a power greater than the sum of its parts,” Callidus finished. He looked like he was expecting Annie and Shadix to clap for him. Now, Annie crossed her arms. “English, please?” She asked, exasperated. Callidus looked puzzled. “I’m pretty sure I was speaking English… unless you want me to explain in German, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Russian, Greek, or even Latin? Quam credo-“Shadix interrupted hastily. “Pretend we didn’t know anything about what you just said,” Shadix proposed. “How would you explain it to us then?” Callidus thought for a moment. A couple times he looked like he was about to talk, but stopped himself. Finally, he spoke. “I now know how to create a machine to combine Mobius shards into one, and that one is more powerful than the all the ones used to create it,” he said haltingly. Annie nodded. “Good,” she said simply. Callidus readjusted his glasses. “I’m going to need at least eight shards before I can combine them… plus the fact that the machine isn’t actually built yet, it will take a couple days to accomplish this,” Callidus admitted. Shadix shrugged. “It’s not like we’re pressed for time or anything.”
Arcus was tired. He had found seven shards by this point, and now he was ready to go back to the lab. He was sitting on the roof of a building, staring at one of the red, jagged metal pieces. Every so often, it seemed to pulse with red energy. It was subtle, just a circular ripple sweeping across the surface. It happened every few seconds, and Arcus couldn’t figure out what it was. He gave up, and stuck it back in his pocket. He stood up, and was about to summon his ‘electro-skateboard’ when he felt the force again. He was getting slightly annoyed. Occasionally it would just show up, and then disappear a few minutes later. He resolved to find what was causing it this time. He moved his arm like he was throwing a Frisbee, and ran. His disc flew a couple feet forward, and he jumped on. He crouched, and released. The disc jumped, and he landed on the next rooftop over. He bent forward, and he went faster. He kept on like this for several minutes. As he sped faster, he saw a glimmer in the corner of his eye. He twisted sideways, and leaned to his right to the point where his fingers were touching the roof’s surface. Sparks flew as he came to a stop. He saw someone standing on the edge of the building with his arms crossed. The person had a black cloak around his shoulders with the hood up. The stranger turned to face Arcus. On the inside, the cloak was white. In fact, it was so bright it was hard to look at. The stranger was wearing some sort of tunic-thing underneath the cloak. It was grey colored. No, wait… was it white? Or black? Arcus looked closely at it. At one point it was white, and then next moment it was black. Arcus shielded his eyes with his forearm. Arcus couldn’t see his face, but the stranger’s mouth curved into an amused smile. “Salutationes, filius de fulgur,” he said. His voice was… confusing. Arcus heard a higher, gentle murmur simultaneous to a deep, hateful, malicious growl. Arcus stepped forward, and dropped to one knee. “Fortitudinem et honorem to excubiarum,” Arcus quoted. He stood up, and took a step back. He shook his head, and a strong feeling of confusion washed over him. The stranger laughed a warm, benevolent, cheerful laugh alongside a spiteful, malevolent, cruel one. The stranger spoke. “Since you have deigned to speak our language, I will honor you in yours.” One part of the stranger’s voice sounded resentful, the other sounded pleased. Arcus had a million questions. He decided to ask the most prominent one. “Who, or what, are you exactly?” he questioned. “I am called Excubiarum, or as you say, the Sentinel.” The man we now know to be the Sentinel shot an annoyed look at the sky. “Unfortunately, they do not permit me to say more about such things.” The Sentinel looked back at Arcus. “My purpose is to maintain the dependendum, or balance. This man named Exitium, or Destroyer in your language, has upset that. I have been sent to guide you on the route of stopping him.” Thunder rumbled… which was strange, since there wasn’t a cloud Arcus could see. The Sentinel shot another annoyed look at the sky. “I have said too much already. Just know that I am not your enemy. Farewell, filius de fulgur.” The Sentinel turned back to the edge, and gracefully leapt off. Arcus ran to the edge and looked down. There was nobody there. Arcus rubbed his eyes. Had it all been a fatigue-induced hallucination? Arcus didn’t know, but he had even more questions now. The most puzzling one of all was the one he voiced aloud.
“What the heck does filius de fulgur even mean?”
Target (Yes, that’s actually a latin word.)Chapter 20
Arcus leaned forward, looking at the ground below him. After a few seconds, he stepped back. His foot slid on something, and Arcus hastily righted himself. He bent down, and picked it up. It was a Mobius shard. He squinted at it. Something was different about this one… but he couldn’t quite figure out what. He shrugged, and put it in his back pocket. Little did he know, when it touched another shard, it glowed white for a split second. The other flared in response, and when that one came in contact with another, it flashed as well. Within seconds, all of them had been touched with the mysterious effect. However, Arcus saw none of this at the time. He jumped off the edge, and landed lightly on the ground. He started walking in the direction of the lab.
Echo team had observing the city for hours now, and hadn’t seen a trace. They were on the top floor of one of the major complexes. The leader of the squad shouldered his sniper rifle, and switched on his radio. “Echo leader to Blacklight, checking in at zero-three hundred hours, and no sign of targets so far. Over.” His radio gave static as an answer for a few seconds, and then an answer came. “Rodger Echo leader, keep looking. We need those targets eliminated. Your shift will end at zero-six hundred hours. Over and out.” The leader grimaced under his pitch black stealth mask, and readjusted his night-vision goggles. He disliked the higher-ups over at Blacklight, and the feeling was mutual. However, the reason they kept him around was because of his skill with a rifle. He had been assigned to the north-western island because that was where surveillance said the targets were. He twisted a knob on the outside of his goggles. His vision zoomed in. He didn’t know where Blacklight had gotten all the high-tech toys they had (although he had his suspicions), but he didn’t care much about that. He was playing with the zoom function when he saw a glimmer in a sidestreet south-east of their position. He sat up, and looked through the scope of his rifle.
Mila gasped. She sat up, and put her hand to her forehead. For a moment, she had felt… something. Something bad. She went to her window and looked out at the nighttime skyline. She couldn’t see much. This city wasn’t as active as others at night, but still… she felt that something was wrong.
Blond hair… check. Blue eyes? He’d have to get a lot closer for that. Sturdy build, long strides… check. Even with all those, the suspect was carrying Mobius shards, which would make them valuable to Blacklight anyway. He switched on his radio. “Echo leader to Blacklight, 0319 hours, have visual on the target and moving to intercept, over.” His radio crackled with static. “Rodger that Echo leader, we have Crimson on the ground to assist if needed, over.” The Echo leader knew what they were saying. They didn’t think he could handle it. He cracked a grim smile. “No need, Blacklight. We have this one covered. Over and out.” He took aim, and placed his crosshair right over Arcus’ chest.
Mila was out running. The empty streets lit only by the dim golden light of street lamps looked like something from a horror movie, but that didn’t dissuade her. She was following the impulse, and as she got closer to it, it kept getting stronger. She knew the feeling had something to do with Arcus and his safety. She went faster.
Echo leader held his breath, and let it out slowly.
He took the shot.
A piece of concrete shattered inches from Arcus’ chest. He whipped around, trying to see where the shot had come from.
Echo leader cursed under his breath, and pulled the lever on his rifle. An empty shell was ejected from the weapon, and he loaded another into the chamber.
At the edges of his hearing, Arcus heard a harsh whistling sound. He experienced that strange feeling of time slowing, and saw the moonlight glinting off the small, pointed copper projectile coming straight at him. He dove out of the way just before it would have penetrated his skull. He pushed himself off the ground, and dusted himself off. He thought for a second. Apparently, his reflexes were still as fast as ever. It was just everyone else who slowed down. He started running. He threw his hover-disc and jumped on.
The Echo leader would have been amazed if he hadn’t seen this type of thing before. “Freaks,” he muttered. Blacklight was on the verge of assigning a ‘freak’ to each of the most important squads. The Echo leader was entirely against that idea. Nobody in Blacklight completely trusted the ‘freaks’ anyway, and they were simply forced to work together. However, despite not being human, they were exceptionally good in combat. Even the Echo leader had to admire their skill. He readjusted the rifle on his shoulder, and took aim again. He pulled the trigger.
As he was zipping through the streets, Arcus felt something bite deeply (and painfully) into the back of his leg. He immediately lost his balance and fell onto the street, rolling. As his leg was jarred over and over again, Arcus had to bite his lip until he tasted blood not to cry out. He came to a stop. He was breathing heavily, and had black spots in his vision. His electro-vision seemed to activate whenever he was injured, and he could see power circulating through a street lamp about seven feet away. He pulled himself toward it. He gritted his teeth as his leg dragged on the rugged asphalt. He gasped as he heard the harsh whistling sound again. He rolled onto his back. He shifted his position, and put his hand out in front of him. He waited for a split second, and swiped his hand to the left. A flash of light stung his eyes, and he immediately gasped in pain. The black dots in his vision grew bigger. He looked to his chest, half expecting to see a bullet hole, but something caught his eye. He looked to the left. Molten copper was scattered across the street, and it made a soft sputtering sound as it came in contact with the asphalt. He didn’t think he could muster the strength to do something like that again.
“Come ON already. This guy just won’t give up,” The Echo leader grumbled. He ejected the cartridge and loaded another one. He glanced down to a dark green box next to his feet. “I’m gonna run out of ammo at this rate,” he muttered.
Arcus felt his consciousness fading, and held on to it for dear life. He was coherent enough to hear faint running footsteps off to his right. They were slowly getting louder. His sixth sense was warning him about something. He could guess what it was, and he didn’t have the strength to stop it. He was seriously getting sick of the whole time slowdown. The footsteps off to his right were now almost next to him. He wondered who it could be. He heard that harsh whistling sound again, and waited.
The last thing he heard was a symphony of small pinging sounds before blacking out.
Okay, how to put this...
I'm postponing Fabula Imperium until further notice. Now, before you get all up in arms about it, check out Aegis Infernum on my page. Believe; I hate to splice it in like this, but I really want to get A.I. written. Go check it out(the book version, I mean. The article was just a teaser) and tell me what you think about it. I appreciate your continued support.