View Full Version : Guru: Paragon
01-26-2006, 03:01 AM
Thunder split the air with a roar, challenging anyone that could hear it to come into the storm. Deep in Moth cemetary, rain beating mercilessly upon her long black hair, one person answered that challenge. She knelt by an unmarked grave, one hand clutching a bouquet of flowers, the other rested on the green grass. It was hard to tell in the rain, but there may have been tears streaming down her face. She knelt in silence, the only movement was the soft rise and fall of her chest. So lost in her thoughts that she failed to hear the approaching footsteps. When the hand gently clasped her shoulder reflex kicked into full gear. Her sword was at the stranger's throat in a fraction of a second.
"Is that anyway to greet an old friend?" The stranger said, his voice deep and strong. She knew his voice instantly and the katana was sheathed in a single fluid movement. Then in another flash of movement, her arms were around his chest in a strong hug. His arms slowly came to rest across her back. For a moment they said nothing, just stood there in the rain holding each other, then she pulled away.
"I should have known you'd be out here as well. At your wife's grave?" she knelt back down and carefully arranged the bouqet of flowers by the headstone. Then she bent and placed a kiss on the grave before standing back up.
"Yes, I always come here when I need to think. Being near her makes me feel stronger." He looked off into the distance, his eyes scanning the graves. "How are you holding up Jade? It's been awhile since I last saw you. You haven't aged a day."
"And neither have you, Alistair. We're two old souls, never aging, always getting older. How long has it been since we all stood here?" She looked down at the ground and pushed a wet strand of hair out of her face.
"40 years. 40 long years." Alistair sighed. "And not one of them has been kind on this city."
"I know. I stopped counting the passing of years and started counting the passing of friends." She turned towards the grave and then back to Alistair. "He was just the first of many. I still can't believe they're all gone. I never thought that we could all die. It was like a fantasy back then. No matter what happened you always came back. Always. It was just a quick trip to the hospital and then you were fine. He..they.. oh Alistair!" She threw herself into his arms and began to sob. He held her tightly and comforted her.
"I know Jade, believe me, I know." Another clap of thunder bellowed its fury to the world, the shattered remains of the warwalls echoing its cry. "We should get inside Jade, you might have a healing factor, but I'm just an old man. It would be a shame if afterall I have survived, I was taken down by a cold. I can see the headlines now. Mighty Imperial overthrown by common cold. Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"
"Yes, let's get you inside old timer." Jade smiled at her old friend as she turned to find the path. Together they walked down the cobblestone walkway, past the old mauseleums and graves. Moth Cemetary had been relatively forgotten since the destruction of the Banished Pantheon and the Circle of Thorns disappearance some ten years earlier. Here and there some scrap lay,proof that there had once been hordes of zombies in this area, but now what was dead was dead. Above them the rain let up some, giving the two soaked heroes a spot of relief. Now and then lightning flickered, but otherwise the storm began to break up. "How's your leg doing?"
"It's seen better days. Once upon a time I actually believed that nothing would ever hurt me like this, but I was proven wrong. The scimitar sliced clear through my knee, almost severed my leg. Still don't know how I held in long enough for the rest of the Icons to get there. Sometimes wish I hadn't. That was a-"
"I know, I was there. Let's try and talk about the present. It's best to let the past sleep. Come, I can make us some hot tea back at my place and we can catch each other up on what we've been doing." Jade forced a smile, trying to block the images of that bloody day from her mind.
"That would be nice. Where are you living these days?"
"I live in Alice's old apartment. She doesn't need it anymore, barely visits at all these days. She's so busy at her hospital in New York. It's in old Galaxy City at any rate. My cars by the old security gate, we should be able to make it ba-"
"You drive?" Alistair interrupted. "Now that's news to me." He let out a hearty chuckle.
"The times change Alistair. And with your leg I don't think walking back would be a good idea anyway." She paused. "Speaking of which, how did you get here?"
"Why I flew my dear. Call me old fashioned, but there just isn't anything like a good flight to clear your head."
"Would that I could share in your favorite pastime. Ah there's my car no- Hey! Hey you creeps! Get away from my car!" She unsheathed her katana and sprinted towards her car. Whispering the ancient words of power she caused her katana to ignite in a pale blue witch fire, which in turn cast strange shadows on the ground around them. The bandits at the car looked up, their eyes glowing green in the shadows of the old gate. "Damn scavengers! If you've so much as scratched it I'll make you pay!"
The scavengers took another look at the sight of this woman and her blazing sword and scattered in all directions. By the time Jade and Alistair made it to the car, the scavengers were gone.
"I almost pity those men, they've fallen so low." Alistair said as he got into Jade's car.
"I don't. They're barely human anymore. They just take and take, not even needing most of what they steal, they just take it and make junk out of junk."
"Still... I guess it's the old hero in me talking, I don't know. I feel like I should be able to help them." The two drove in silence for a ways, Jade concentrating on the road, Alistair staring out the window. At times, as they passed through what remained of Talos Island, it seemed that he could see those familiar faces flying by, smiling and waving as they all gallantly sallied off to fight the good fight. But then a crumbling building or flickering sign would bring him back to the present. No the days of the Hero were long gone. Now was the age of shattered dreams. Alistair closed his eyes and thought.
Jade's hand one his shoulder woke him up. "I'm sorry, are we there?" She nodded. "I must have dozed off."
"Yes you did, about twenty minutes ago." She gave a wry smile. "Still in the mood for that tea?"
"Can't think of anything I'd rather have." He looked at her apartment building, it was one of the few complete buildings left in the city. As they walked through it's halls, he could her peoples voices, even children laughing from some doors. In this building it was as of none of the terrible things had happened to the city, here life went on. They walked into Jade's apartment and he sat down in one of the chairs at her table. He gently massaged his knee as Jade went about boiling some water. She left the pot on the stove and came over and sat down in a chair across from him.
"So." She said.
"So." He replied.
01-27-2006, 02:21 AM
Alistair sipped at his tea. The hot liquid ran down his throat, spreading warmth through his body like the roots of a tree spread out into the earth. He had missed simple pleasures like this. "It's funny, you and I both live in the same city, but we haven't see each other in over six months now?"
Jade nodded agreement. "Times are hard here Alistair, you should know that. You live in one of the most devastated parts of the city. Your mansion is the only building left of note in Founder's Falls. How many people live there with you now?"
"Half a dozen families, twice as many kids." He smiled as he thought about the children laughing and playing in the old mansion, filling it with a joy it hadn't known since the days he was a mere child. There hadn't been children in that house for close to a hundred years. "It does my heart some good to see that I can still make at least a few lives better. What do you do to pass the time Jade?"
"I meditate, I read and I work as a guard for the monuments. There aren't many monuments left, but these people are intent on keeping what few of them are." She took small little sips of her tea.
"So the old tiger still prowls from time to time then, eh?"
"If you are going to call me old, then I guess I am going to have to call you ancient, oh wise elder. I was going to offer you some of these apples, but now that I am reminded of your age, I'll have to get you the applesauce from the fridge. Wouldn't want you losing any of those precious teeth now would we old timer?"
"I give, I give. You have obviously handled the years better then I have." Jade smiled and picked up one of the red fruits. He caught the apple as she tossed it over to him. Someone down the hall started laughing and the happy sound echoed down the hallways. Alistair grew wistful. "People used to stare in aww at the strength and fortitude of the heroes, but listening to that man reminds me of how strong the citizens of Paragon City were and still are."
"I agree, these people have been through nearly every kind of conflict imaginable. World War III, not one but two Ritki invasions, the Hellfire war, and the Ice Age conflict were only a few of the things the people went through, and that isn't half of the battles that have been fought since Statesman died."
"Yes the past forty years have been long and hard, but the future looks bright. The city is more peaceful then it has evern been. I mean, aside from the occasional conflict between a worker and those scavengers, the city is rebuilding, shops are opening, there are actually new people moving into the city. I bet within a couple years, this city will become what it used to be. A city of hope and a city of dreams."
"You and your sappy dialogue Alistair. You've been reading those old poets again haven't you? Or, and I'll laugh if this is the case, you've started writing it. Have you? Have you sta-" There was a loud banging at the door to the apartment. "I'll get it. Coming."
Jade walked to the door and peeked through the eye hole. She seemed to freeze for a moment, then she fell back from the door with her hand across her mouth, covering a sharp intake of breath. She hovered there at the door, unsure whether to open it or to leave it shut.
"What is it Jade? Is something wrong?" Alistair stood up abruptly and rushed over to her side. "Who is it?"
Slowly Jade unlocked the door and slid it open. A man in his mid fifties, black hair peppered with gray, stood in the door. He was an average looking man, until you looked into his eyes. His eyes were like two green lazers, piercing and unrelenting.
"How are you Jade? Old man?" His smile came naturally to his face and lit it up with a youthful look that defied the rest of his aging physique. He reached a hand out in greetings to Alistair, who took it and felt the strength that remained in the grip.
"Annoying as always Luke." Alistair tried to sound stern, but instead ended up letting out a strong laugh. "I have to admit, you were one of the last people I expected to see." Luke smiled while he released the Old Man's hand and accepted a hug from a solemn Jade.
"I was hoping you would be happy to see me Jade. It's been awhile since I got up her for a visit." Luke said as he stepped out of her embrace.
"I'm sorry Luke, it's just that when I saw you there without Alice, I was worried that you were coming with bad news. I never see her anymore, I barely talk to her." She lowered her head.
"The missus is okay Jade. She's just so busy with this hospital of hers. It's been awhile since the last major conflict, but people still keep coming in from remote areas with injuries and symptoms from it. She sends her apologies, this lovely gift basket, and of course... me, the best gift of them all." He let loose a grin that stretched from ear to ear.
"I'm surprised that girl let you out of her sight. forty years have done nothing to cool your fires." Alistair remarked as he messed the shorter man's hair.
Jade merely smiled. "Please, come and join us for some tea." She gestured towards her kitchen.
"I'd be delighted milady. Absolutely delighted." He shut the door behind himself and followed them into the kitchen.
01-27-2006, 08:14 PM
The three old friends went back into the kitchen. Jade hurried to the cupboard and found another glass for Luke, as he and Alistair took their seats. She brought the kettle of boiling water over to the table and set it down on a hot pad, then handed the cup to Luke.
"So how do you like life in the Big Apple?" Alistair asked, leaning back in his chair. Luke set his cup of tea down on the table.
"It's nice there. Always something going on in some part of the city. Alice has dragged me down to broadway at least a dozen times in the last couple months. It's like, when she isn't at the hospital, she lives down there." He shook his head. "I just can't get too into it myself. Musicals are not my thing."
"It is good to hear that she is enjoying herself though. She has a tough job. Things like that are good relaxers after a tough day." Jade sipped her tea. When she looked up she saw Luke's green eyes starring at her. "I thought that they said that was only a temporary effect?"
"What? The eyes?" He paused as he remembered that day. "Well, you of all people should know what happens when you mix magics. Green eyes are a small price to pay for your own life. And I have my lovely wife to thank for that."
"Now I remember that fight. Baron Zoria had us all pinned to the wall by some spell, his servants were readying us for the sacrifice, and then you yell something about your grandfather and your gauntlets snap the spell on you. I don't think I've ever seen a super villains eyes open that wide in my entire life." Alistair reached to pick up his tea.
"Yes, however, then the Baron recovered his wits long enough to catch my fists and shatter my gauntlets, releasing the magic stored in them, into myself. I hope I never have to experience that again." Luke sighed and looked out the window. The clouds had mostly cleared and the sunlight glimmered on the wet buildings.
"Yes, but because of you Luke, Zoria lost his grip on the spell holding the rest of us. Because of you we were able to defeat him, for the last time. With us free, whatever magic he had been planning failed and took the entire city of Oranbega with it." She reached across the table and placed her small hand on his. "You saved us. You saved the city."
"I could care less about that. The only reason I remember that day so well, is because I met Alice that day. When she used her magic to heal me.. I'm not sure how to say this. but.. it was like her soul.. and my soul.. they touched. We both knew right then and there that.. well you know what." He grinned at the other two.
"And we are very happy for you. Speaking of, where are the brats?" Alistair asked.
"I left them with Hollis. She and Amoeba Man love watching the kids. And in my opinion," he paused and smiled, "there isn't anything better then a shapeshifter to entertain your kids." He turned his thoughts towards the children and imagined them riding around on blue horses and climbing on blue bears. "Although, if I leave them there too long, I may actually have to start paying those two for Amoeba Man's medical bills. Those children are relentless I tell you what. In fact, I have a photo from the last time we left the kids with those two." Luke pulled out a small photo from his wallet. In it were his two children, hanging off of the arms of an orangotang as Hollis laughed in the background. Jade and Alistair laughed at the picture.
"Poor Amoeba Man, he's going to be exhausted when you get back." Jade said in between giggles over the picture. Luke started to respond, but Jade happened to catch a glance at her clock. "Oh no! I need to be at work in five minutes. Shoot I'm so sorry you two."
"It's allright Jade, why don't we come with you. It would be like old times to go out on a patrol." Alistair said with a smile.
"I agree. It has been awhile, it would be nice to walk the streets again." He picked up his jacket. "So what do you say Jade? Are we a team?"
"Nothing could make me happier. But we need to hurry. I don't want to be late." She grabbed her sword and they rushed out of the apartment and to her car. Behind her car a green and black motorcycle was parked. "She let's you on one of these things?" Jade asked in shock.
"That will be our little secret. The missus doesn't know about my little toy here." Luke smiled. When Jade gave him a look he responded, "It's not anymore dangerous then fighting super powered villains you know. If I can survive being throttled by a giant octopuse, battered with alien technology, and Alice's cooking, I can handle a motorcycle."
"Just get in the car you." was all Jade said.
Within a couple minutes they were at the site of the old Hero Corps building. There a man was waiting impatiently, arms crossing his chest. Jade and the others hurried up there.
"Where have you been WT? You were supposed to be here five minutes ago."
"Sorry chief, I had some unexpected guests show up, but look on the bright side, you get two extra hands at no extra cost."
"Just get going. Who knows what the scavengers could have done in the time it has taken you to get here." He stormed off into the building.
"He always get so worked up over a few minutes late?" Luke asked.
"Yes, but he really isn't a bad boss. It's just the scavengers have been getting worse and taking more and more parts off the statues. If it weren't for our dailey patrols, there wouldn't be a single memorial left in this city."
"I still don't see what the scavengers want with all this material, I mean they just pile it up into small stacks throughout the city. They don't even do anything useful with it." Alistair pointed out.
Jade shrugged. "Who knows. I don't. I just do what I can to keep them from tearing these things down. Let's get going." She started to walk towards the first statue.
"We're walking?" Luke asked in surprise.
"You got it. It will be..'just like old times'." She said with a wicked grin. Luke and Alistair sighed and followed after her.
They'd been patrolling for about an hour with nothing more then a couple scavengers here and there to show for it. Heading towards the statue of Hero 1 in Steel Canyon, they were talking about old fights when they heard the sounds of a scuffle up ahead.
"Sounds like it is coming from Hero 1's statue. Let's hurry." Following Jade's lead, they rushed towards the statue. As they got closer, they began to see the hordes of Scavengers attacking the statue, but the real shock came when they saw who was defending it.
Luke and Alistair fell silent in shock, but Jade was outraged. Letting loose with one of her ancient battle cries, Jade unsheathed her katana and leapt into the fray. Even as she moved amongst the thrall-like Scavengers her sword ignited into its signature blue flame, burning flesh and lighting clothes. She barely payed attention to the Scavengers, but instead focused on the two heroes that were pushing back the horde of scavengers. One wearing a patriotic costume, the other a black eye patch, silver hair shining in the sunlight. Together they fended of the scavengers through a series of highly refined martial arts. The one in the patriotic costume saw Jade charging them, whispered to his partner, and together they leapt into the swarm of Scavengers, and quickly vanished from sight.
Getting ahold of themselves, Luke and Alistair jumped into the fray and started stemming the tide of Scavengers. Jade, her anger having lost its focus, turned to the Scavengers and soon, they were all downed or fled.
Luke and Alistair made it to Jades side. Luke started to say something, but Jade held a hand up, silencing him.
"Someone has alot of explaining to do!" Was all she said.
01-31-2006, 02:24 AM
"Allright men. We've got the area secure, move these Scavenger's to the containment area." The Security Chief turned towards Jade and her friends. "Now can you explain what happened again? Slower this time." Jade sighed.
"We were on patrol, we'd just entered the Steel Canyon vacinity. As we made our way down the route, we heard the sounds of a scuffle, so we came to investigate. When we got to Hero 1's statue, we saw it besieged by a large number of Scavengers. We were about to attack them, when we found the source of the scuffle. THere were two her... strangers wearing costumes that resembled those of former Heroes of Paragon Sonic Star, and The Widowed. Before we could get to them in the fight, they had run off." She wrapped her arms around her shoulders and hung her head. Alistair stepped forward and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry Jade, we'll figure this one out." Luke said. "It's probably just two wanna-bes trying to imitate past heroes. You remember how it was back in the day. There must have been half a dozen Twilights. Twilight., Twi-light, and my favorite, T0w1l1ghT0!" He emphasized the last name by throwing his hand in the air and giving the heroes old signature battle cry, 'Its all good now'
Alistair chuckled, but Jade frowned. "It's not that simple Luke. These two were more then simple imitators. Their moves. They were so similar, same speed, same style."
"Common Jade, you've seen one martial artist, you've seen them all." The security chief remarked offhandedly.
"Chief! Of all people I'd have thought yo-"
"Look, I'll send a few guys to take a look, but I'm telling you not to think too much of this. It's most likely exactly what your friend said. Two imitators or possibly even fanboys. Now I'd say you and your friends took care of these Scavengers, they won't be able to cause any real trouble for a little while. Why don't you go with your friends and I'll check into the incident here."
"Fine... I'm sure there is something at home I need to get done. I'll be in tomorrow then." Jade looked up at the chief.
"Yes that will be fine. Now go before I change my mind." he dismissed them with a hand.
"Allright you two, lets go get some dinner. I'm starving." Jade grabbed the men and led them back to her car. A few seconds later they were on their way. The security chief watched them go.
"Sir, it's over here. Just like you said it would be." One of the officers called him over. He took one last glance to make sure Jade and the others were out of sight, then he moved to join his men. They were situated around one of the feet of the Hero 1 statue.
"This is not going to make the boss happy. You men know the drill. Pack up and move out." He started to move over towards the Scavenger prisoners, but something caught his eye. He bent over and picked it up. "Strange, they've never left anything else behind before." He turned it around in his hand. It appeared to be a piece of cloth, possibly from a costume. Something wet touched his hand. He flipped it over and saw the blood patch in a small corner of the fabric. Seeing this a wide smile spread slowly across his face. "On second thought, the boss may be extremely pleased with me."
In the ruins of flooded Faultline, in a small wornd down building, he sat near a flickering flame. He rubbed his hands together constantly, like a nervous animal, constantly twitching scanning the area. Now and then he would react to something unseen, jerking back in fear, as if someone or something was about to strike him. "Dead.. Live.. Dead.. Live" He repeated the same two words over and over again, mumbling them to himself like a mantra. "Dead... Live...Dead...Live" The fire began to dim, having grown low on fuel. Without looking down, he snatched a piece of wood from a small pile next to himself and set it on the fire. "Dead...Live...Dead...Live...Live...Live.." He said the last word quieter each time and his hands slowed their nervous twitching. "Live..Live...Live!"
Alistair, Jade, and Luke rode back to Jade's apartment in silence. Each was lost in their own thoughts. They pulled up to Jade's apartment building and got out of the car, then Luke's cell phone broke the silence.
"Hello? Alice? Hey honey. How're you doing? Good? That's good. How's the hospital? You're off early? That's great. You wan.. What? Honey you're breaking up.. You want me to come back? Why? I only jus-.. What about the children? Honey I can't hear a word you're saying. You got tonight and tomorrow off for her what? Oh.. OH!! That's tomorrow? I thought that was next weekend! Yikes... one sec hon." He pulled the phone away from his ear and covered the speaker with his hand. "Shoot, I'm really sorry you two. I've got to get on my bike now. My daughter's recital is tomorrow, and my wife wants to take her out tomorrow. That means I better leave now if I want to be in any shape to be up all day."
"That's allright, it was good to see you, if only for a little bit." Jade said as she gave him a good-bye hug.
"Nice to see you again Luke. Stay safe on the way back." Alistair said, shaking Luke's hand.
"Right, don't you two worry about me. I'll try and get back up here the day after tomorrow. Be sure to call me if you get any leads." He put the phone back to his ear. "Allright honey I'm on my way back now. I love you to, see you in a while." He put the cell phone up, walked to his bike and unhooked his helmet. "Remember, the minute you get an update, I wanna know about it."
"You've got it." Alistair said. Luke waved one last time, and then revved his bike's engine, and took off down the road. "Look's like it's you and me for dinner Jade."
"That will be easier. I don't carry food for all of you people you know. I would have prepared, but I got caught up in so many things, I just forgot you all were coming today."
"No worries. I'm not much of an eater anyways. Now let's get inside, it's getting a bit chilly out here." He motioned towards the door and Jade nodded, leading the way.
Luke was halfway through Skyway City when he first noticed it. Something following him, almost hidden, but close enough to keep him in sight. "Probably just someone else heading south." He mumbled to himself. He picked up some speed on his bike, putting some distance between himself and the thing. However, when he picked up speed, so did it. He slowed down and it did as well. "I thought these days were said and done." Luke sighed. He pushed his bike to its limits, speeding up well beyond 160 mph. The thing behind him accelerated even quicker, this time making no effort to stay just in sight. It started to close the gap between it and Luke. As it came closer Luke could see it in more detail. It seemed to be liquid, amorphous in shape. In the dim light of the street lamps the thing shimmered, reflecting a color like that of the night sky, or the glistening black of a beetles shell. "Crap. There's nowhere to go but straight on this road, it will catch me in no time, unless..." Up ahead on the side of the road he saw it, an abandoned trailer hitch, the back in down. "Gotta love abandoned property!" He steered towards it, aiming straight for the ramp. Behind him the thing picked up more speed, seeking to cut him off.
Luke hit the ramp at a little over 180 mph and launched into the air, aiming for another overpass. He had almost made it when the thing caught up with him and engulfed him and his bike. The evening fell quiet once more.
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