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soh6 [2011/07/07 18:54] (current)
doan created
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 +They were on their third bottle of Jalapeno Juice each and there was still nothing happening.
 +“Now I'm starting to wish Jack was here.” admitted Garian's suicidal doppelgänger, laughing bitterly, “Stupid bird.”
 +
 +“You lost your Jack too?” It hadn't actually occurred to Garian that his avian assistant was no longer following him around, hovering just over his shoulder, always out of reach of any sword swings aimed in his direction after one too many snide comment. Jack was always there in the same way as his sword was always there. How could he have simply forgotten the bird ever existed?
 +
 +“Well, its more that I finally managed to hide from him.” he said, taking a swig straight from the bottle, “Thought I was so clever. Now I have no idea what the hell's going on. Jack, he would have known everything. He would know so much about the whole mess that he makes you suspect he's the one who plans it all out in the first place. How'd you lose your Jack, anyway?”
 +
 +“No idea,” he said truthfully, “I haven't seen Kaiser for a while either.”
 +
 +He laughed again, “Now that's someone I haven't visited in a while.”
 +
 +“Not sending a report back is stupid. Nobody knows where you are, nobody can come to rescue you, Jack can't come reconstruct your timeline when you screw up.”
 +
 +“Yeah, 'cause that's something that matters so much to me now. Besides, you must have heard the rumours going around. Not sending your report back is part of the way out of here. We've been too weak, relying on that thing. And everyone knows Kaiser's a spy.”
 +
 +“A 'spy' for who? The Agency employs us! Of course they bloody well know what we're doing!”
 +
 +“They do? Because I don't think we do any more...”
 +
 +The door swung open and then slammed shut, blowing in a draught of air that had grown much colder while they had been drowning their sorrows. Both Bounty Hunters turned around at once.  The newcomer walked up to the bar.
 +
 +“Yo, Richie, a Jalapeno Juice on the rocks!”
 +
 +“Ya already on the Rock, my friend.” said the bartender, laughing at his own joke. He cracked open a bottle of the fiery red spirit and passed it to the young man. He was short, skinny and unassuming, an oddity for the dangerous inmates of the world's toughest prison island, his dark hair spiked untidily in random directions. He had customised his prison uniform but was still bothering to wear it, making him at least someone in the unwritten hierarchy but probably not anyone that high up. He had a nervous air about him as he drank his Jalapeno Juice.
 +
 +“Kubota?” asked Garian, remembering him in a sudden flash of competence. He wasn't one of Garian's marks, or anyone in the Agency that Garian knew. He didn't think Kubota was really dangerous enough to warrant a bounty hunter being hired, he was probably someone who landed here for reasons other than a tendency to kill the entire population of any other prison you put him in. //Wasn't he a hacker or something?//
 +
 +“Don't see you around these parts. Get kicked out of J.J. City?” asked the other Garian.
 +
 +“Just sheltering from the storm.” he said, “Its bad out there. Isn't that what you're doing?”
 +
 +“Oh, is that shit happening again?” asked Richie, “Wish I'd taken my sign in. Its gonna get wrecked.”
 +
 +“What storm?” asked Garian.
 +
 +“You guys new off the boat or something?” Kubota asked him.
 +
 +“You could say that.”
 +
 +“Just don't go outside for a while.”
 +
 +“Why?”
 +
 +He just grinned at them, flashing perfect white teeth, then stared lopsidedly at the stage as though waiting for a show to come on. The two Garians downed their drinks and looked at each other.
 +
 +“Its a thing and its happening. C'mon.” said the suicidal Garian, lifting the latch on the door and dashing outside, sword already drawn. The other Garian followed him. Kubota turned around, his expression suddenly a mask of panic. He stretched out an arm, shaking his head, but Garian was already gone.
 +
 +---------------------------------------
 +
 +The door slammed shut behind them under the weight of the gale. The two bounty hunters were almost blown back inside. Biting, icy winds made them avert their eyes. A heavy blanket of snow covered everything. Not just the ground and smaller buildings but even the prison complex itself looked as though they had been over-enthusiastically painted white.
 +
 +It took Garian a while to realise that the main door had been torn off its hinges and was lying on the ground. Behind the snowdrift that had fallen to obscure it, the door was open. Right now, the guards should be going ape shit and all the prisoners making a break for it - not that there was anywhere to run unless they could swim all the thousands of kilometres to the mainland while beating up passing shark packs – there was always a chance that the boat had been late departing, though. Except that there were no prisoners. There were no guards. It was like he had wandered into the Siberian wilderness except that would probably contain more prisoners and guards. He couldn't even see the other Garian any more. The man had been standing behind him but now everything behind the walkway between the port and the prison proper was concealed by the snowstorm as though cut out of existence by a large white guillotine, every noise drowned out by roaring winds. As he stared at the winter scene, it began to look more and more as though he was thoroughly alone in a plane of pure white, untouched, the fresh, crisp air purged of impurities. The motes of snow that still fell, thick and crystalline, were like wisps in some fairy glamour.  Was this some mirage, messing with his vision, or had Jailer's Island really... changed?
 +
 +Suddenly, he realised he wasn't entirely alone. There was one other person he hadn't spotted before, sat on top of the snowdrift where the door used to be. A woman. Her night-black hair like a raven's feathers, her skin as white as bleached bone, her eyes a black cat's, she was a Goddess in chains, lounging on a throne of ice. She wore a simple pink blouse and a black denim skirt. Around her neck was a  studded leather collar. Her expression as she perused Garian's confusion was one of predatory joy.
 +
 +As Garian realised who she was, a chill went down his spine that was nothing to do with the weather, especially as he sensed just how much power overflowed from within her. She snapped her fingers and the sky darkened.
 +
 +“Meg?” he whispered.
 +
 +“Welcome to my domain.” she smiled at him.
 +
 +“What have you done?”
 +
 +“Taken over,” she said, laying a hand on the back of her throne.
 +
 +“You killed the Warden,” he guessed, “No... this is you we're talking about... you killed everyone.”
 +
 +“No, it isn't that kind of takeover, its a proper takeover. I changed the rules to make everyone gone. There aren't supposed to be any people in Parallel Zero.”
 +
 +“Parallel Zero?”
 +
 +“I'll show you around, once its finished,” she said, “You're very early, you know. I recommend you wait there for a while.”
 +
 +She snapped her fingers again and there was a loud creaking noise, as if the world itself was under pressure. Blue light flashed rapidly, together with a surging noise – he remembered it from somewhere, very distantly... - and suddenly the cold air became even colder, more painful, solid. He yelled out and tried to move but couldn't. His legs were encased in ice. No matter how he strained with all his strength, it didn't even budge. It was as if he was stuck in the scenery of the world itself.
 +
 +“I just remembered,” she said, “I promised to hand over all the impostors I found to the Dark Savior. It was payment for all the help he gave me, to remove all the obstacles to this realm's existence. He was very useful. Unfortunately, I can't allow him into Parallel Zero – nothing is allowed to exist there – so I can't show you around after all. I suppose I should go and find him. He's always off somewhere, doing something. Don't go anywhere, will you?”
 +
 +Her mocking laughter filled the air as she floated from her throne, then disappeared from sight. He was alone, stuck and freezing to death in a land that was soon to become Parallel Zero, whatever that was. It sounded unpleasant.
 +
 +“... Jack?” he asked hopefully. Annoying though the bird was, he often came out of nowhere to save Garian from the worst of scrapes. His voice echoed through the growing ice floes to be swallowed up by the darkness of the night sky, an unanswered plea in a world where the only remaining deity was an angel of death, a hollow mockery of the words he dimly remembered seeing fill the same sky.
 +
 +There was a small noise in the snow. Interference, like the crackle of a radio. He looked around. He saw nothing but snow. Then something darted out from under the snow like a rabbit, except rabbits didn't look as though they were made of a solid clump of static that rose and bobbed above the ground like a wisp.
 +
 +Another shape – a human figure, also covered in static – pulled its way out of the snow. The first object immediately sprang to its side, hovering at its shoulder like...
 +
 +Like Jack...
 +
 +The humanoid thing opened its mouth and gave a static hiss before running at Garian. With no way to resist, the bounty hunter could only watch as it collided with him, knocking him to the floor with the same force as if a man his own size and shape had bull-rushed him. There was another hideous snapping sound. He suddenly realised that his feet were free of the ice, which was now a fine coating of dust.
 +
 +Garian shook himself off, hoping that he could find some place to warm his feet before he lost them from frostbite and rendered his escape pointless. He examined his rescuer. The humanoid was staring back at him, the air of a wild animal about him, poised to move out of danger as soon as it struck. Static filled the air around him, making the hairs on the back of Garian's neck prickle. The Jack-shaped object moved with him, keeping pace with him instinctively. It was difficult to look at it for long. Garian saw shapes, even words, in that maelstrom of chaos, as though, if there wasn't a tiny amount of order left in there, at one time there had been, and its shadow still remained.
 +
 +Then it whirled around, dropping into a fighting stance. The static became denser and fiercer. Garian saw why it was agitated – from nowhere, Meg appeared, floating just above the ice.
 +
 +“I thought I felt something a bit wrong. What the hell happened to you?” she commented, “Oh well, you're still a...”
 +
 +Cutting her off mid-sentence, the figure spread out its arms and fell through the ice without breaking its surface as though he was diving into a pool of water. He accelerated until it looked as though he was yanked down into the floor. Then he reappeared out of another patch of ice behind Meg. Momentum flung him up into the air. As he passed Meg, he struck out with a sharp blade-shape that seemed to extend out of it as though it was hidden in a fog. Surprised though she was, Meg was far faster. She drew her foot back for a reverse kick, then spun around and followed up with a roundhouse kick. The figure was thrown back but Meg also yelped out, snapping her foot back with pain visible on her face. Jagged sparks of electricity crackled across her leg where she struck him. Garian could have sworn he saw her leg go through him.
 +
 +The bounty hunter decided it was a good chance to press his own advantage. Sword in hand, he crouched down and made his way across the ice. Conditions were too treacherous for him to make a charge – he would probably fall over and break his neck – but he could make some distance if he took his time. At least he had more cover to sneak up on her, even if she did have aerial vantage.
 +
 +Reforming parts of himself that had broken off, the figure stood up again. He was poised for another attack. Meg looked at him as though he was a black mark on a wall that she had only just painted white. Then, with lightning speed, she somersaulted backward and landed a flying kick on Garian. He was bodily thrown almost the entire length of the walkway. His chest burned in agony. He was sure he had felt one of his ribs crack.
 +
 +She jumped back out of reach and rose up further into the air until she soared above the roof of the prison. To Garian, she looked like a hawk circling its prey, waiting for the best moment to move in for the kill.
 +
 +“I'm sorry if this seems like cheating but I'm not getting in the way when there's two of you at once.” she said, “Not again. Let me show you why I'm called the mistress of this Parallel. Now, Garian... think carefully...”
 +
 +“Aww, an exam? I hate school.” he said, choking back laughter that felt like knives stabbing him in the chest. Blood flecked his lips. Garian wasn't some kind of perfect warrior to whom pain meant nothing but pain did make him very determined to win his fight to ensure that the immediate future didn't contain any more pain.
 +
 +“Oh, but this is a fun question! Which Parallel do you think this is?”
 +
 +“How should I know?” in the corner of his eye, he saw his companion repeatedly trying to use his floor-falling trick to launch himself high enough to hit Meg. He wasn't succeeding, “Its changed beyond all recognition.”
 +
 +“Oh, come on, Garian, think,” she said, “Its not THAT difficult! Here, let me give you a clue...”
 +
 +She raised her arms to the heavens and threw her head back, her eyes closed in some kind of dark rapture. One by one, the pillars that lined the walkway toppled over like bowling pins. He could feel the ground rumbling. Cracks were forming in the ice. The prison building was shaking. Masonry from the higher, more delicate parts of the Silver Castle clock tower was falling to the ground. He could feel the island sinking...
 +
 +“Ninety seconds, Garian.” she said, then began cackling.
 +
 +Garian turned to run. Then he remembered that he had a... no, two companions to look out for. He dashed over to the strange static-covered person.
 +
 +“RUN!” he yelled, making a grab for him. A sensation that felt like an electric shock made him jerk his hand back. The man shook his head, then turned to Meg, ready for another attack. Garian gave up. For all he knew, the man, clearly not human, couldn't even die. He turned to look for his other companion but couldn't see any sign of him at all. Maybe he had already made a run for it. Maybe he still wanted to die. I can't save them, realised Garian, not in the time I have left.
 +
 +He sprinted away from the prison, away from the bar and the little village built up around the port, towards the pier. Mercifully, Meg didn't do anything to block his way.
 +
 +Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Meg dash towards the other man, hands outstretched like claws.  Screaming in homicidal fury, she grabbed him by the throat. In response, he grabbed her by the collar with one arm, held the other arm up to the sky and dropped down, dragging her with him like a murder victim dragging his killer down to hell with him.
 +
 +Garian heard the boat's foghorn. He ran towards it. Screaming at it to stay there, to just wait a little longer, he made a jump for the boarding plank.
 +
 +A thought crossed his mind. The two Lavian submarines weren't there. Either Kay and Tracy hadn't left the island or they had never arrived. Usually, they loaned him a submarine while they boarded the other one. Usually, the boat wasn't there, so he had no choice to accept the offer.
 +
 +The boat wasn't supposed to be here.
 
soh6.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/07 18:54 by doan
 
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