Author Topic: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD  (Read 2304 times)

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Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« on: June 26, 2010, 03:16:38 pm »
YOU, CAN YOU FEEL MY SOUL
IT'S THE SPRINGTIME OF YOUTH

This is a chapter from a personal idea for a sequel to Crimson Echoes, featuring King Zeal and capitalizing on the idea of an RPG party of 'villains'. I won't reveal too many plot points; just that King Zeal is assembling a crew and hopes to step into a place few know about, and even fewer can fathom or understand. What he'll do there, only he can guess. His journey so far has taken him through Guardia, Termina, and the 1300s, as well as other eras. His party at present consists of Backer, a character created by Leebot for Project ZEAL that I hope to tribute with this, and Artura Adril, a mysterious woman with an enigmatic temporal affectation. They've just leapt into time to acquire more for their ambition, but something has gone awry...

Note: Looks like I got Backer a little different than Leebot, since I didn't have net access to check his characterization. Ah well.

~

She fell from the oceanic dream with a thud on her right side. The circumstances immediately betrayed temporal dysfunction, but she needed rest, and closed her eyes to time with a slight smile, ignoring the delayed pain in her arm. Within a slower space, she felt the scent of synthetic sterility rise in her nose; the shouting of her companions grew dim and faded like a far ripple. She remained confident that she could wake in a couple hour's time and find the situation neatly resolved, and rise to a more placid setting. The last vestiges of sound and struggle now bounced in her ear ere departing to the ether.

"She's catatonic."

She'd heard it before numerous times and in five languages; each resonated with the same mix of concern, surprise, and confusion. There was no schadenfreude in this particular voice, further comforting her withering consciousness. There were times she could post an inkling of sentience as a lighthouse guard, standing watch for ominous words overheard or the registration of prodding and pain. It was a bothersome presence, and every shout of warning manifested as nightmares in her visions beyond the flow of reality. Lucky was the moment to retreat completely into the void; its currents carried her away, as a response team gently picked her up and moved her to a holding cell. Her companions did not comply so willingly.

"Get off me!" erupted amid the sound of paralyzing charges and frenetic shuffling. A purple-sleeved arm awoke from deadened nerves and smashed the cheek of its captor, but crumpled with another spark of electric security. The blue flashed around the monotnous gray of the complex, illuminated merely enough to facilitate its use without drawing attention to its spartan lack of aesthetics. A shadow from one of the responders crashed against a new prisoner, and both were thrown into containment rooms.

"I don't believe it," spoke a blue-uniformed man.
"Neither can I. Sh..." his partner replied.
"That old kook was right."
"Yeah, I'll be damned. We'd better get this taken care of before he comes down on our asses."

The two guards paused near a transparent projection terminal, consulted an unused manual, and slowly delivered commands to the machine. From within the nearest cell, a regal eye surrounded by tussled, matted hair opened, casting a deadly glance on the computer's display. He could tell instantly that an intelligence lived within its circuits, its pulse measured in light-emitting waves. There was simply no way a civilization only capable of producing an artificial aid as that could ever invent the technology required to subdue his will. For the first time since he had gathered his burning hearts, fear entered his calculations. He dispelled it by rising and sitting on the bench in an orderly fashion, wringing productivity out of his chaotic imprisonment. The voices of those outside barely came in above the buzzing frequencies of the energy field-locks.

"First is the woman. Centra IDs... Porre birth and death records... Jeez, every database is a zero."
"Wait. One hit in Temporal Disorder Index."
"You got the code for that one?"

The guard's beauitfully androgynous companion sighed and spoke a command and four digits. The record of anomalies opened to their gaze.

"Artura Adril... Origin unknown. Some kind of temporal affectation."
"Damn, wonder what they want from her to be lugging her around like that..."
"Yeah, nothin' else on her. Next party..."

The records scrolled at dizzying haste.

"El Nido, Termina Disciplinary Index 23-A396."
"A-class prisoner, eh?"
"Backer. Demi-human... Looks like some kind of damn tiger-bear. There's some kind of involvement with Porre. Listed as extremely dangerous due to proficient Element use."
"We'll have to scan that one. This place isn't designed for those toys."
"Hm... He was 25 at date of imprisonment, but it was for something light. Seems to have dropped off the map after that."
"That's a great lead; we'll have to hit Tempus section for any events around that time."

An image of fierce, intrepid refinement appeared next; the eyes seemed to burn the transparent diodes painting them.

"This guy has to be the ringleader."
"2300, 2200, 2100... Here we go."

A gust of dread swept away their words. They exchanged glances, then read the report with unwavering worry.

"Do you see that threat level?"
"...Yeah."
"It's an N. I thought there was only one N classer..."
"I'm calling in the curator."

Now set beneath fixed, smooth hair of blue and purple, the prisoner's eyes glared with the twinkle of a repulsive, hateful grin; it corroded and browbeat all in its view with uncanniness upon the genteel face hosting its rancor. It had cracked like lightning in a snowstorm, and knew that destruction would come to any one element that tried to weather its desire. He watched them depart, and sank into comfort on the bench, waiting with angry contentment. Something resonated in his fingers, and he commanded it to be patient.

* * *

"Alphard Zeal."

He didn't answer to his name, but drilled a visual hole through the speaker, standing before him opposite the forcefield with a wry smile. The patterns and colors were familiar—gold, blue, and some ornate trim—but the hat's extravagancy had been reined in, leaving a more commanding, shortened cap. The old sage, transformed to the old king of this digital dungeon, raised his voice with a laugh. It echoed through the hollow halls.

"Creating your own Gates is risky, Alphard," Belthasar coyly jibed.
"It's hard to get something right the first time, isn't it?"

He found his mark, sailing through the wounds of the broken Ocean Palace and the failed Mammon Machine plan, culminating with the destruction of Zeal.

"Now, now," smiled the sage. "I'd just like to know why you're here!"
"Define 'here'." The King effected full laconic bite in his utterances.
"Heh... We both know it's a matter of when, and not place. You are in the future. Was that your intent?"
"Really? You're going to interrogate me?"
"I hold the cards. You caused quite a bit of trouble in time; the burden is on you to prove good intent!"

Alphard exhaled with bitter frustration. He was ready to launch volley after volley of eloquent offense on Belthasar's frail sense of ethics, starting with the creation of Chronopolis, then Project Kid, the formation of El Nido as a personal paradise under the watchful eye of an experimental god. His own life was one attempt for power through science after another, channeled for wonder in Zeal by good government but unleashed with extreme danger in the absence of its liege. Zeal wondered what the pieces of Belthasar's mind resembled; surely, they were bits of scattered genius ready to coagulate under the inspiration of opportunism. He understood that he was a target to Belthasar as well, and needed to exert every form of psychological defense to protect his will from the Guru's calculations.

"Come, tell me," the sage politely demanded. "What's the King of Zeal doing falling out of Gates with demi-human muscle and a coma-ridden woman?"
"You tell me," Alphard began, "what a Guru of Zeal is doing standing atop the eras in some glorified time fortress? And the guards? You can't call me a tyrant while you play God in the future."

Belthasar already felt the rush of joy given from feeling more clever than a debate partner.

"Heh! This is not Chronopolis, and dear king, you were one of Zeal's best. I'm sorry for this treatment, but we have to take precautions. Something wonderful's about to happen here! But you'll learn nothing if you don't be civil."
"We are here," Alphard begrudingly said, "to gain a means to an end."
"Ah!" Belthasar alighted. "Future technology? Knowledge? Weapons?"
"...Just a transport."

Belthasar frowned. This would be difficult. There was nothing mundane about Alphard Zeal, nor himself; both knew that a glum answer would seem a fraud. Few kings dared to trade their kingdoms for transports, especially those who were capable of creating Gates.

* * *

They would not shut up.

The old man would crackle with some damned little remark, and Zeal would sit there like a helpless ape in a pressure chamber. This was total bullshit. He could have killed the guards himself if he hadn't been spat out of time backwards on his head. The King really screwed this one up, and now everyone was going to pay for it. Artura was crumped up in a useless ball like always. It was a hopeless situation. And it was time to turn on the mental routines.

/ status
// personal

/// body composition - 100%
/// mental lucidity - 87%
/// sensual readiness - 90%
//// touch sense locally numbed by electric shock
/// physical freshness - 83%
/// magic available - 2%
/// element grid - 98%
//// comet element requires recharging

// personal concluded
/ status concluded
/ analysis
// environs

/// carbon dating - 2415 AD ± 3
/// energy - electricity, load fluctuation commensurate with fusion
/// forcefield - unknown generation; higher than 8th, absorbs elemental energy
/// allies - one incarcerated, one unconscious
/// enemies - four guards, one magic-user

// environs concluded
// destructive potential

/// physical - impossible; alloys non-malleable
/// magic - impossible; overload non-feasible
/// elements - possible; z-plane resonance breakable through gravitational manipulation

// destructive potential concluded
// suggested action

/// apply gravitonne one quarter-length down, right from upper left corner
/// confirm field bending
/// apply physical force to opposite position
/// observe resonance failure

// suggested action concluded
/ analysis concluded

A fortunate analysis, as it lacked anything tricky enough to coax his assistance into gaining a little more independence. He wished the black Element Gravitonne out of his potential and watched the field bend towards the singularity, created with seventh-level energies fed to its mechanism. Backer wound up the punch in his mind and let loose on the opposite side of the field; expecting all hell to break loose. The energy containment wall simply ceased to exist without any noticeable change in electrical load. The guards hadn't even noticed the lights flicker, as they were all concentrated on the interrogation; they too failed to notice the spectral glove forcing them to sleep. Now he'd stop that damn bickering.

"I'm not going to tell you that," Belthasar reminded he King, "until you really tell me why you're here."
"Afraid my ambition isn't going to measure up to your expectations?"

A hulking shadow appeared behind Belthasar, who felt a seething grip on his neck.

"I'll tell you somethin'," Backer growled. "That computer over there says this is 'Temporal Catch and Internment'."
"Hmph! As if you could understand what that means!" Belthasar barked.
"Heh, yeah, I have a little help on that angle. It means you set up some kind of damn reaction to grab anyone travelin' beyond this year and force them right here where your goons can lock them up. Now why would you wanna do that?"

King Zeal raised his eyebrows in sarcastic curiosity, echoing Backer's antagonistically humorous tone. Artura smiled in her sleep; perhaps the lighthouse had activated.

"...We'll trade," Belthasar conceded. "Let us talk in comfort, in exchange for releasing that sleeping woman there."

Backer glanced at Alphard, who shrugged and nodded. Belthasar sighed to feel the grip leave his back; he sauntered carefully to the computer, using every second of walking to deduce strategies, and deactivated Artura's forcefield. She remained stationary, seeming to enjoy her cuddled-up position on the cold, composite floor. Heavy eyelids seemed natural on her visage, hiding irises of violaceum that strained her cheeks with tired circles. Frozen in a dream, they could not care less that her black collar was crumped beneath her neck. Belthasar granted himself a curious look at her before returning to business. King Zeal rose from his cell, allowing a moment's pause to coronate his return to the free and self-driven world. He dusted off the contact points of the stun-guns and cracked a few knuckles. The hands of an orchestra conductor had to be limbre, as do the hands of an orchestrator of destiny through magic-channeled pursuit.

"You seem to hold the cards now, brutish as they may be," the sage complained.

Alphard began a slow circle around Belthasar.

"It was your little team that complicated everything, Belthasar. You stole the Dragon's Tooth; you refused to restore Zeal; and you gave them the means to ruin everything. I was about to save Schala, you know. Would have saved you a lot of trouble, so I've heard..."
"Is it revenge, then?" Belthasar falsely pondered.
"I'm just reminding you where you stand. Given all the trouble you've put me through, I don't think it'd be too tough to explain what's going on here."

Belthasar shrunk to a nearby break counter and filled a glass with rose-tinted strawberry water. There were too many unknowns. The demi-human possessed some kind of analytical genius, completely at odds with his behavior and locution. And the woman... He at last recalled why she had been in the Temporal Disorder Index. She was profoundly special, bred from a gap of terror: falling into a hundred-count time repetition cycle while emotionally grieving. He could only wonder her true origin, and whether she possessed unique abilities. Perhaps even now she was somehow transcending time and predicting his every move and movement, leaving him in a no-win scenario with the mad king and his bodyguard. There must be a way to bring them under control and satisfy these mysteries.

"All right, all right. Dear Alphard, there is a pervasive Temporal Catch in this year because the next will witness the greatest achievement of humanity. We instigated a causal break in this year, like a dam in the river of time. You cannot sail down without hitting the dam, my friend. What lies beyond must be reached by passing through our arch." Belthasar pointed at the ceiling and twirled his finger.
"The greatest achievement of humanity...?"

Ah, the trap had been taken. King Zeal could not resist curiosity. Belthasar heightened his delivery.

"Yes. All history before this shall always be compelled to this configuration. Any who try to circumvent it shall arrive here, where we can process them appropriately."
"Dodging the question?" Alphard threateningly asked.
"Ah, that achievement... Alphard, we exist as matter, as you know. We must travel place to place, constricted by our bodies and physical obstacles. We must make painful and time-consuming physical expressions to relate ideas to one another. We must obey physical laws."

Backer reclined in one of the commander chairs, his attention focused at last.

"There will be an end to that, thanks to me. All our consciousness will be turned to energy."
"And blown out of a chimney as heat exhaust?" King Zeal taunted.
"Baser energy than that, friend. All of this reality is pervaded by temporal energy, linked with to the void of Time Error. Instantly linked, I might add. It is everywhere and nowhere. Our existences here shall be free energy, and the information of our beings shall exist in Time Error, always with us, and allowing us to live time as we wish! Linear or non-linear...! Forwards or backwards! We shall truly be unbound to experience everything!"

The idea coarsed through King Zeal's thoughts.

"Imagine! You want to live as a fish for a while. You are not the fish; no, it is still a physical object, existing under the sea, possessing its own limited mind. But you will occupy the energy of that fish; you will see through its eyes, feel its sensations, and truly empathize with something other than yourself! Perhaps that fish is caught with a hook. Shall you next occupy the hook? How might it feel to be such a pointed object, cast to tear flesh and surge through cold water? How would it feel to be metal, period? Or perhaps you'd like to disperse into the water, mastering serenity as your quantum consciousness permeates all the subtle flows and pulses of the wild oceans... Truly, everything is possible. We shall be everything, and be everywhere. Perhaps some races have already achieved this, and are piggybacking our own experiences! Encounters await on equal terms with these foregoers, and together we shall truly comprehend this universe.

"This is our highest potential, and the highest arc of evolution; we become the universe itself. The great planet beneath our feet has already touched this, binding us through time and feeding our lives here with its dreamy life. It is a hybrid ark, allowing the evolution of physical beings that come to understand their position in the galaxy and their relation to time and dreams. And, seeking to share that feeling and pass beyond to greater existence, they learn from the planet and ascend, all to the great ocean of energies... All accepting their fundamental reality as free beings. Zeal was glorious, Alphard, but this is true perfection! Zeal would have always been limited by the eye tissue dulling its sight and brain matter corrupting its thoughts with noise and rot. How can something physical, like a particle, ever experience a wave existence?"

"What's the point?" King Zeal replied. "What objective is there to all this?"
"Experience!" Belthasar exclaimed. "We fulfill our potential by experiencing all this universe!"
"Becoming omniscient observers... That would mean we no longer create this universe. We aren't the physical people who actually produce works and do things. Who is more admirable, the actor or the audience?"
"Fie on that!" the sage burned. "Who knows what we could create as pure energy? Perhaps our art would be entire timelines sculpted to our arrangement, or orders of expression on a universal scale!"
"Oh, there's your god complex at work! And you know, Belthasar," Alphard continued, "consciousness may be a physical phenomenon, but there is something more to it. Do you dare to say that its ethereal nature, even constricted by the physical medium, can't grasp the universe? A song can trigger an emotion; an emotion can trigger a reflection; and then a grander work, or a scientific theory... These are all empires of air, existing within our thoughts. They are concrete to us and we comprehend them. You are only able to entertain your thought of energy because you can already touch the wondrous in this existence, Belthasar! There is more to 'physical' intelligence than you give credit for!"
"Hah. My dear king, that's like arguing for the construction of Zeal out of rocks, simply because magic would be too much of a shortcut to grandeur. Well, I have no reservations about using what works."
"To accept," King Zeal noted. "You rush into the afterlife because your mind is too small to dream what could be in this one."
"Not all of us have the moral freedom to go around changing history and killing indiscriminately to build our empires of time, Alphard."

The words ringed hollow to both, virtually equal in their ethics. Zeal's words stung in Belthasar's now-sweating pores like immovable barbs. He had heard them before in another form—the doubts of observers and criticisms of spectators. The King knew Belthasar would accuse him of equating the transmutation with death, and that Alphard was afraid to die; the King would reply that Belthasar was afraid to live. Struggling to outpace each other in potential words, the two allowed silence to fill the detention area's unadorned corridors. Backer quietly suffered a moment of awe; he scratched a nonexistent itch on his arm to seem occupied. Belthasar would play the final card.

"I built this Temporal Catch for a reason: processing the lost children of time, and granting them the opportunity to join our ascension. That invitation is open...even to you. Do you wish to join us? Whatever material aim you have here, it is nothing compared to the possibilities of the awaiting freedom. The power you seek may even lie in that form. Consider it..."

King Zeal already knew his answer. He would not stand in defiance of fate, the Sea of Zurvan, and Schala as an empathetic energy form, diluted in the dead constructs of the universe. His physical existence would be an act of defiance itself, entering an ethereal domain with the will and means to conquer it. As energy, he would only be able to feel and enter the realities of other objects. It would be like his final sunset in Zeal, ere the morning of his death. Disturbances of the atmosphere and the placement of the kingdom caused pervasive red to shroud the entire archipelago in the bleeding beauty of coming night. The grass wavered in the breeze, dyed crimson; the blades and plants had known their full summer bloom, and now, before withering in the night of winter, stood fulfilled in the sun's decline. The golden white edifices reflected the blood of the sacrifices made within for Zeal's cultural luminosity; their external walls seeped with the essence of hard work that fell like the magical waterfalls into the grave of dusk. And, standing upon a proud cliff and bathed in red that last eve, even he felt that Zeal would find its perfect glory one day and sink into the sea, finished.

It would never.

"There will be no more sunsets."

The King pushed a flap of his cape back over his right shoulder where it belonged and approached Belthasar, awash with disappointment.

"Guru of Reason, you once constructed a transport capable of travel in both time and space."
"The Epoch."
"No," King Zeal corrected. "The freezes of space; the empty echelons of dead heaven."
"Ah... I'm not even sure when I built that, you know. It might have been a past version of me, in fact... I might know where it is."
"No more bargaining," Alphard commanded. "You don't have any use for that as energy."
"But! What if you try to use it to go beyond this year? What if you alter history again?"
"You've already explained we couldn't. I might be tempted to go outside the temporal lock around the planet and return in the future to claim this energy civilization for myself..." the King smiled.
"Hah. You would be obliterated in seconds. We will not be completely impotent."

The King began throwing one of his old Zeal information orbs into the air, catching it at its highest point. The challenge would have to wait. Backer leaned forward in the chair, eager to receive the next mission location; Artura seemed to stir and yawn.

"Good for you, Belthasar. My aims don't even concern this planet. Thus, space travel," Zeal assured.
"Not going to recreate Zeal?"
"I might make a detour."
"No matter what you did, history would arrange itself into this configuration as of this year."
"Restoring Zeal really wouldn't interest you, sage?"
"What we're doing here will be more glorious than Zeal could have dreamt."
"Yeah. The greatest sarcophagus ever made," echoed Alphard in hateful disappointment. "Tell us where it is, and we'll leave you to your 'ascension'."

Belhasar resigned himself to the situation, but sought to wring out one more curiosity.

"Very well. In my office, access file 5-04 for the temporal coordinates for that old project. But I would ask one thing in exchange!"

Backer stopped, having already begun rushing out of the room. The guru smiled and pointed to Artura, who had sat up and leaned against the wall with a nonchalant expression.

"Young woman! I know you were deposited in 1340 AD, but can you tell me which era you truly came from?"

She stood, cleaning the last time-deposited crud from the corners of her eyes. Purple irises peered at Belthasar, striking him as royal, yet far removed from the refined hue of Zeal's nobility. The look appeared to slow time, and enthralled his attention. Before staring solely at her, he noticed King Zeal raise his hand to his chin and watch.

"All of them."

The words were illogical, and yet made perfect sense in a way Belthasar had not yet discovered. It was to be a riddle for a sagacious beam of energy to solve. Still observing her with intense wonder, Belthasar felt King Zeal shake his hand and thank him, and then sat at the commanding desk with his head propped by a stroking hand. The three seekers entered the main facility elevator and rose.

"Sorry about that. I know you don't like to be caged, Backer," Alphard apologized.
"Hell, jail's usually a step back. We're gonna get what we came for after all!"
"I don't know; he seemed pretty bitter to me," Artura offered.
"He's...bound by his own prior actions and guilt. I'm sure he'd love to go remake Zeal otherwise."
"Maybe he just likes it here, you know? Future's got its good points," Backer thought aloud.

The wall panels behind them gave way to sprawling skyscrapers through the transparent elevator. An evening sun blinded from the west, reflecting off the dome encasing and pervading the streets. The orange glanced off windows and beat the eyes of the citizens below, their destinies now subjugated by the Central Regime's plan. Perhaps a disgruntled dreamer would sympathize and seek departure from this era, but the absence of magic and prevalence of consumerist dallying would leave their combat and mental prowess severely lacking. This was a civilization nearing its death; its few aspirations were scattered and disparate, and now it would fall silent like the planet's own will, revealed only through subtle strokes—unable to even save itself without the help of physical actors whose hearts still beat for more. He felt a pang of thankfulness for the pain he had felt from the electrical shocks; he was truly alive.

"Pickin' somethin' up here," Backer warned.

The doors opened to a corridor full of shields and soldiers with guns ready to blow the lift off the side of the building. They ordered the seekers to freeze; doing so, Backer slowly pressed his fingers and readied a hybrid shielding Element. Alphard undestood they would duck into an anterior room, and began preparing his own fire-element reprisal. Leaping to cover, Zeal felt the crackling of Backer's shield as torrents of disabling laser fire showered upon it. He and Backer rolled into the room and shut the door, but Artura had not followed. Backer smashed the release controls with his fist, but the slow-moving door would take several seconds to allow egress. The shots continued.

"Artura!" he yelled.
"Give yourself up," Zeal ordered. "We'll pick you up soon!"

The shouts continued, but suddenly grew more distant, as if the rest of the structure had fallen off the edge of the earth into a quiet netherrealm. Zeal and Backer exchanged looks, fearing the worst. Hearing the sliding gears, Zeal grabbed the edge of the door and smashed it into its slot. He burst from the room, hands radiating with red force; eyes encircled by Lavoid darkness and the pure intent to kill. The aura faded as he saw Artura, collapsed peacefully on the floor with a hand beneath her sleeping head. All the guards were frozen; objects thrown by the tussle drifted in one-hundred-times slower passage. The ceiling lights and monitors flickered, their refresh rate halted to that of a pulsar. The lives of the paralyzed guards had been reduced to the speed of vengeance. Backer picked up the time-broken woman and hoisted her over his back; Alphard walked through the hallway.

"Scary shit..." emerged behind him. The King agreed, satisfied in his selecting her for the journey to Zurvan. They rounded a corner; a new contingent of guards blasted from an auxiliary elevator, but were little resistance to his royal march. More came at regular intervals from different access points until the sun had faded; having reached the viewport two floors from Belthasar's office, the three were overcome by silence while noticing the bare mountains beyond the domed city. The foliage of Guardia had long withered from inattention. A rumble of steel broke their gaze; two "Iron Maiden" class sentry bots emerged from the central lift.

"Backer..." Alphard began.
"Yeah, I got it. Need to conserve your strength..."

Pausing a moment to allow the familiar glare of analysis to radiate behind his pupils, Backer reached forward and unleashed the signature drone of initial ThundaBolt. Lightning radiated through the robots, causing critical failures and engaging their mutually-assured destruction modes. Zeal leapt forward and laid them to rest with touches of his light-infused hand. They passed the smoking remains and ascended the next floor, which housed a large secretariat for Belthasar's quasi-military post. Its employees had long-since fled down the emergency lifts, leaving the blinking light of the office-transport as the only animated feature. As they neared, it flashed green, opening for the exit of a teenager dressed in Chronopolean blue.

"You guys gonna stop the Ascension?" he asked. The King stepped forward.
"We're on our way out of here, actually. This leads to Belthasar's office?"
"Yeah, and my quarters," he replied. "What, gonna suicide off the top? Got a jet-speeder comin' by?"
"Something a little more subtle," Alphard joked. "You aren't here to stop us, are you?"
"I don't care. I just want to get the hell out of here."
"Yeah, so do we," Backer spoke up. "C'mon."

He started moving for the elevator, but the teenage boy risked placing a hand firmly on his shoulder to stop him. His touch was light and permeating.

"Guess you're a little slow. I want you guys to take me with you."
"Yeah? Y-" Backer stuttered.
"Now," Zeal interrupted, "I'm afraid our ride is a three-seater. As in, another person would break the laws of time and space and send us on a really inconvenient side-trip."
"Break the laws of physics? I can do that... No questions asked. Maybe I'd be safe from your little problem.
"Get your f-"

Backer tried to swat the boy's hand away; an edge of light resembling a beam-sword shot out of the boy's other sleeve and passed through Backer's torso. The demi-human coughed and dropped to the floor, still in one piece. Blood followed in spurts, evaporating with caustic magical energy as they spattered on the floor.

"You—" the boy pointed to Zeal, "Know how Belthasar figured out all this stuff?"
"Hm? The Ascension?"
"Yeah. Me, the guinea pig. I already crossed the veil. I'm not in that other world or whatever, though... My 'life' or whatever's rooted right here, still. I live upstairs."

The boy raised his hand towards the ceiling; it dissolved into a tornado of swirling aura above his elbow joint, then returned to form.

"How does that feel...?" Alphard leaned in.
"It'd feel great if it'd been my choice. But now I got nothin'. Just the unlucky bastard who got chosen for this. Not even a body. I'm just a projection... I'm shooting out of that computer over there. All this energy and nothin' to do with it. But I'm learnin'. I can build up enough to ruin stuff. Walk right through forcefields... Well, if you call that walkin'. Can't stray too far from my host object unless I transfer as pure energy, and hell knows I can't do anything unless I force a connection with a little piece of reality like this. Damned both ways. Now, if someone back in meatspace here were watchin' over me, things'd improve..."
"An energy lifeform, before the the event itself. Perfect," the King declared. "What's your name?"
"Durham."
"I see."
"You gonna take me then?"
"Still a little risk with this," Zeal noted. "On second thought, a planet Gate won't pose any issue from us. But you, I need to know something..."
"Yeah?"
"What's your dream in life?"

Backer picked himself off the floor and strained to listen to the one who had humbled him in one stroke. Artura still lay where he had set her, sleeping on a table with a slightly open half-grin. Perhaps she unconsciously recognized the words that once lifted her own spirits.

"I want my humanity back. If I'm gonna be energy, it's gonna be my choice," he affirmed.
"Very good. There's a damn good chance you'll find a way to get back to physicality with us. But will you be deadweight in our group?"
"Hell no. I just laid out that guy over there. I'm guessin' that's no small feat."
"But it could have been a mere parlor trick. Come at me!"

Durham sprung as fast as the few particles of his constitution allowed, energy slicer at the ready. The King raised his blade, Regret, from its incanted shadow on the floor and prepared to parry. As half-expected, Durham's projected edge passed directly through him; Zeal awaited the same phenomenon that dropped Backer. Slipping into battlefield meditation, he felt the swift separation of all the magic circulation within him, and understood immediately. The energy itself was disrupting every connection of elemental energy inside him, breaking any form of spell preparation and causing collateral damage to physical tissue in which magic was stored and combined for better combat performance. It formed a nasty internal wound, as subtle as a phantom's touch. The King surmised the same ability could literally cut through the constructs of spells in progress. He wondered if the frail particles composing this lethality could be disturbed.

"Well done," he coughed. "Let's see here... number eight."

Darkness shot from his hands; he had been born to release the shadow element, even at grossly-reduced power. The wave of black obliterated the silicon dust Durham used to appear, leaving the room empty with the gravity of expertise. Wisps of particles descended in order from the area near the final lift, coalescing against the window's view of a vibrant cityscape. The lights outside were purple, green, and cool hues of sleek life without geopolitical worry or deathly concern. For a moment, Backer wondered what cuisine the activous places among the throbbing streets could offer. Durham appeared in his field of vision, reconstituted with a blue tint.

"Damn. Looks like I get blown out in one shot."
"Well," Alphard smiled, "One shot is all you need to bring down the opposition. Your ability is unlike anything I've ever encountered. And we might be able to find a better substrate for your physical interaction."
"I'm in?!" Durham jumped.

King Zeal nodded, and motioned everyone to the lift. Backer coughed a final time and heaved Artura on his back; his gut ached with cellular damage to his organs. It was nothing his little engine and some Nostrum couldn't help. The elevator ride was short, and opened with extravagantly rotating doors to show Belthasar's command desk, littered with plans, reports, and a few trinkets from Zeal. Lights approached from outside; Durham recognized them as security air interceptors.

"Damn! ...Damn! How are we gonna get outta this?"
"Didn't you listen? Zeal's gonna take us through the wormhole," Backer reassured as the communication system activated.

Belthasar appeared from the detention block desk; King Zeal and Backer stood in front of the other end. Fire took residence in Alphard's stare.

"Not very nice of you, Belthasar."
"Ha," the Guru bitterly chuckled. "Anything worth having is worth fighting for. I just wanted to make you earn your information."
"I take it these are the coordinates," King Zeal said, retrieving the file.
"Yes. We'll see how you do, heh..."

King Zeal turned, already preparing the cumbersome incantation to create a Gate. Belthasar hastily kept speaking.

"One last chance, Alphard. Join me in the real future of humanity! You turn away simply because such a glory is hard to conceive. Just believe in it."
"Not in the cards. Backer, if you would," King Zeal suggested.

Backer jumped off the desk to his feet, spit out his chewing gum, and readied a crushing blow to the monitor.

"Wait, damnit!" Belthasar yelled. "You're so bent on petty power, Zeal. You're like an arrow shot into a bottomless pit; it strikes whatever it can find and never ceases its spiral. I pity you, who cannot enjoy even the tiniest feature of life. Your obsession for power rules you with impunity and neuroticism. I'd bet you'd like to know how I discovered all this."
"Let me guess: Gaspar told you."
"Haha, your wit is searing, but blunt. No... We successfully transmuted a prototype energy lifeform. Its powers are very unique... They would have made a fine addition to your effort. But that's 'not in the cards', ha," Belthasar ungracefully insulted.

Durham popped into the system's field of vision.

"I'm out of here, you son of a bitch," he spat.

A look of horror came over Belthasar's face; Backer instaneously removed him from the conversation with his spectral fist. The King returned to his activities as warnings were shouted over the air interceptors' speakers. Their tinny sound roused Artura from her sleep.

"Good," Alphard said. "Our new friend here accidentally wrenched my magic, so I'd like some assistance."
"Yeah, sure," she yawned. She placed her hands comfortably on the King's broad, purple and gold-draped back and closed her eyes.
"One last thing. Durham, you're going to need something new to occupy."
"'Bout to bring that up myself," he said with relief.
"Here."

King Zeal tossed one of his Zeal data orbs to Backer, who rolled it to Durham. Still animated through modicums of floating particles, he grasped the orb on the floor, creating a powerful stream of light between his "quarters" (a computerized drawer on the back wall) and the orb. The light completely occupied the sphere, which now glowed with the fullness of potency. Backer picked it up and deposited it into one of King Zeal's interior pockets.

"You'll be able to take a 'physical' form through raw elemental energy now, Durham. Now prepare yourself! We're going beyond the sea of dreams."
"That's so cute. It's like a little person in there," Artura said with joyous curiosity.
"Yeah, now I've seen everything," Backer laughed.
"All right. It'll open across from us," King Zeal warned. "We're going to 2480 BC, somewhere on the plains of the Medina continent."

Artura smirked with dissatisfaction.

"Going to be a bit cold, eh?"
"What can withstand the burning heat of our unstoppable dreams and hearts?!" Alphard announced.
"Yeah," Backer chimed.

The most forbidden spell completed, the aperture opened across from the desk, acting as a small vacuum before opening to reveal the void of temporal flux. The blue and purple waves invited them with the reverie of disappearing into time. Artura Adril stepped in first, happy to be in her most comfortable element once more. Backer hesitated as usual, allowing Alphard to to walk with imperial authority into the dimensional maw. He scurried in behind; the aperture closed, and the world of skyscrapers was left to the will of the Guru of Reason.

Seconds later, Zeal's eyes opened to witness the ocean retract over him with a gust of wind. Standing atop a rolling hill, he rubbed his eyes and watched the scene come into focus. Though they stood in snow, below them was a crater-like depression, with one side accessible by sea. As the hill sloped to the crater floor, the snow gave way to dirt, then verdant grass and greenery. Dots in the distance gathered around the central point, some kind of organic edifice. Backer reacted to the possible threat by supplementing his sight with EagleEye. Among the dots convened were helmeted-figures with wide shoulders and two-tone shrouds; a company of people with youthful white hair and blue-tan outfits; several beasts of different orders, including a few entities resembling demi-humans; gilded treasure-hunters equipped for desert suns; beings of no recognizable origin; and even children with sidearms and sunglasses. Food and drink were distributed from tents, and all parties seemed jovial, if not hurried. Kilwalas and Nu served the refreshments and coordinated the crowd. And...

A wave of peach blasted his vision. He disengaged the focus to find a ghastly clown face and two disembodied hands snapping with delight over his fright. Artura gave them a confused, frustrated look, and Alphard put on a forced look of amusement. The face laughed, removed itself to the front of the party, and snapped again.

"We've been waiting on you guys. The beast upstairs said you'd be around. Now we can get this party rollin'," he laughed with malicious breath. "Ain't had a Juncture Event in quite some time."
"Bekkler," King Zeal noted, shaking one of the hands. "The 'Fourth Guru' himself. Don't let us hold up the festivities."

Norstein chuckled again, and floated down the hill towards the gathering. Alphard brushed his clothes and rubbed where Durham had sliced through his essence. He hoped the wound would heal fast enough. Artura wondered what had caused his and Backer's injuries, but decided she'd catch it during the next extended time leap. The three began their descent.

"'Earn your prize', indeed," the King smiled.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 03:20:57 pm by ZeaLitY »

Romana

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2010, 08:57:24 pm »
Wow, that was honestly a really great read. I'm rarely interested in fanfics, but this has left me intrigued what comes next, and in what shape. Good job Z.

Also, how long did it take to write this?

ZeaLitY

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2010, 09:05:25 pm »
I think 8 hours over 3 days. I've had a bunch of ideas about the grand story that I'm keeping in another file.

Dice.

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2010, 12:07:00 am »
Loved it.  Took a good while; but you definitely tried to dive deeper into the characters and the moment to detail the environment or experience.

I'd love to do artwork of any sort!  If you wanted concept designs or something. =)

ZeaLitY

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2010, 12:10:01 am »
Oh, man, I guess the only request I'd make is for King Zeal. The existing fan art by Chrono'99, tushantin, etc. has him with a beard and whatnot, but in this...his cape wouldn't even be down most of the time; his regal garb would be much more form-factor and figured, like a sharpened person ready to fight rather than some ceremonial monarch. Still purple and blue. And yeah, no facial hair. And the eyes...maybe a hint of red, since he's got a bit of Lavos in him now. The hair, perhaps more like his original CE design, more darkened sleek purple than blue. Definitely not flowing like in the Crimson Echoes sprite; he's cut it down to manageable velocity.

Haha, I normally feel terrible making requests since I understand it's all a labor of love, but King Zeal is just too much!  :kz (Like in this sprite, there'd be much less gold/orange and more simple purple/blue)
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 12:13:14 am by ZeaLitY »

Dice.

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2010, 02:27:19 am »
Brief, rough, sketchy - but perfect in case it's an absolute "ew".

ZeaLitY

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2010, 02:53:30 am »
Oh god~


utunnels

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2010, 02:57:49 am »
Yeah, absolutely amazing. An energy lifeform, I like the idea.
BTW I'm curious about how a tiger-bear looks like.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 03:18:22 am by utunnels »

ZeaLitY

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2010, 03:14:31 am »
Thanks. I forgot, but I intended to use the Project ZEAL spell system for "number eight"; the system is at http://www.chronocompendium.com/Stories/42/41. King Zeal would be on Tier Four right now. The "number eight" spell would have been a level 5 spell, maybe.

I have all kinds of ideas for this sequel, including one that solves the problem of the earth getting old and monotonous as the setting for Chrono stories. The "Juncture Event" would have all kinds of interesting people from around time and space show up, including one of the scientists who developed the Lavos program. Too bad it won't be made, I guess.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 03:26:08 am by ZeaLitY »

FaustWolf

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2010, 11:25:25 pm »
I love the red tinge to King Zeal's eyes in Dice's pic. I haven't had a chance to read Z's story yet, but I can imagine that was thematic.

And for the record, I want King Zeal's jacket. Yeah, only the collar's visible, but it looks like it's badass. Dice has a special talent for clothing design.

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Re: Zurvan Willed - 2417 AD
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2010, 03:32:00 am »
That was fantastic! I love your writing style and i'm completely in awe. I want to know what you havent revealed, and what happens next!

Dice, I heart that picture of King Zeal!