YAY Chapter 5 is up and the plot moves forward! Not sure if anyone is still reading or not but regardless I will plow on. Again I don't own any of characters, except my own, and Square-Enix owns the rest. No purple cats or angry warlocks were hurt during the making of the story, or at least the weren't hurt too much :) On with the show!
Note: The story looks much better formatted in word and I'm not quite sure why, mayhaps someone can't elighten to me why it does not make a good transition from Word to the fanfic story format.
Chapter 5: Let the past remain buried
Schala stood poised, overlooking the Zeal valley below, with a young Janus at her side. The wind playfully blew across the veranda of the palace, more a balcony since it sat so far above the rest of Zeal, and tugged at their blue robes and hair. The vista below was stunning as the sun began its’ descent, turning the clouds an orange tint that transformed the normally white sea into an orange fire-field of multiple hues. No view in the known world could match it.
Janus, the much older and jaded version, stepped up along side his younger self and long missed sister. The two had seemed so happy back then, Janus noted. Even he was smiling, tugging at Schala’s robe and asking if they could go eat. Schala smiled as well, making mock excuses to delay the hungry youth, and watch the last tendrils of orange vanish from the cloud field.
Schala; how he missed her so very much. So much that it hurt to watch the scene unfold, hurt to be reminded of something they once had, and what would never be his again. She was dead, and he’d changed too much. While he once would have marked the sunset as beautiful, he now passed over such grandeurs with a grunt and slight annoyance. The Janus that Schala had known was just as dead as she was.
At last Schala left with the smiling Janus, holding his hand, as Alfrador trailed behind, the cat’s constant mewing signaling that he too agreed with the young prince’s stomach. Zeal, the veranda, the clouds, the approaching night; all of it vanished into blackness. Save for the small figure of a young girl, long purple hair and long sleeved pink pajamas, who thoughtfully walked towards the warlock.
“What is this Lana?” Snarled Janus, not only at the girl but at the tumult of emotions he felt at the moment. The young girl stopped, examined the Warlock with scanning eyes, and laughed aloud. Finding mirth, in what Janus knew not.
“That explains so many things,” Lana spoke just loud enough for him to hear, “I was wondering why you had blue hair in these memories but when I saw you it was brown. You should have left the hair, it’s a nice color. I can see why you covered up some of your… sharper features.”
Janus groaned in aggravation, of course his illusions didn’t work here in her mind. Here you appeared how you subconsciously pictured yourself, and Janus wasn’t surprised to see himself donned in Magus’ familiar battle gear. He may go by his original given name now, but it seemed he would always be more Magus than Janus.
“Come on, you can speak up,” coaxed Lana. “You’ve taken all this effort to get here after all.” She didn’t seem cocky, or playful, but was simply stating the truth. A chair immediately appeared next to the warlock, a perfect replica of the white and gold ornate chairs from the palace, and he immediately backhanded it away. The offended chair simply vanished as easily as it appeared.
“We are leaving now.” commanded Janus, the ice and venom in his voice taking no hold here. This was Lana’s mind, he reminded himself, and it would take a tremendous effort to force her back in a conscious state from this position. She was willful he had to admit, not like the other’s he’d saved. He wouldn’t be able to force her out, instead he’ have to rely on his less subtle negotiation skills. Unfortunately, with Janus, most negotiations ended with someone getting Dark Matter cast on him or her.
“You didn’t have to hit it you know,” commented Lana in a scolding voice, “Just simply thought of another one.” Lana created her own, a simple wooden rocker, and seated herself in the chair that was much too large for her small frame. “I can see why you miss her so much, your sister I mean,” Lana continued after Janus showed no signs of creating a chair to his liking “She was a beautiful person, inside and out.”
“That is not the topic at hand, right now we are leaving. We have much training to complete if you hope to make it as an Observer.” wheedled Janus, though it was the most commanding and forceful wheedle in perhaps all of time.
“No, I waited for you so we could talk. I had a feeling that eventually you’d show up, and I was right. So now, let’s talk.” simply said Lana. “Living in Zeal, it seems so surreal and magical.”
Janus involuntarily stiffened up, it wasn’t from surprise though; just pain. Whatever ability Lana possessed was strong indeed to be able to read his mind and play old memories back. He would not be goaded into answering questions about his long lost home. Janus wasn’t one to stand being manipulated, verbally or otherwise.
“Very…interesting, the ability to make me view past memories,” commented Janus “Even more interesting is the fact that you can see them as well.”
“It’s more than that,” silently spoke Lana, sorting out exactly what words to use. “I did something that, in a way, copied some of your memories into me. The scene you just saw was from my mind, not yours.” Her eyes closed slightly as she recalled the scene again, this time viewing it without showing it.
“I remember how impatient we were when Schala wouldn’t just leave and take us to eat and Enhasa. It was the Nu’s night to cook, and only the fools missed a Nu’s food, or so we told Schala. We didn’t go for the Nu’s food, but Masa and Mune would show up and then we’d play. They weren’t like the other kids and didn’t care if we could use magic or not,” Lana laughed and continued before the pause could let Janus interject any thoughts. “She just laughed and said the food would be there for us when we got there because we’re royalty and they’d leave it open just a little longer.” Lana sighed and fully opened her eyes again “I truly envy your childhood.”
“Enough of this nonsense, there is nothing to envy,” angrily exclaimed Janus as he marched quickly to stand over the small girl in the chair. “You are coming with me before you speak further beyond your bounds, my past is not up for discussion.” commanded Janus as he lifted Lana up by the collar of her pajamas.
“I don’t remember everything though,” continued Lana as if nothing was happening and manage to crane her neck to look Janus in the eyes. “Why do you hate your childhood so much, it seems so happy?”
“Then you’ve seen only a shadow of the whole,” calmly said Janus, reeling in his anger, and slowly put Lana back in her big chair. “We are leaving and going back to the Chronopolis.”
“I could simply get the rest from you right now,” stated Lana, and Janus could find no hint of a threat in her voice, just calm certainty. “But I want to hear it from you. Would talking to me really hurt so much?”
“Why do you care,” glared Janus. “There is nothing to tell but a story about people too blind by their own pleasure to see their imminent destruction. There is no happy childhood, no happy ending; only delusions of happiness paid for by the toil of others. The rest is pain, a tale of blood and killing.” Janus stopped, shocked by his own outburst and quickly resumed his un-emotional façade. “What exactly do you hope to find in my memories, a good bed-time story?”
“I’m sure there is a connection between you, me, the black wind, and why it’s blowing now. I’m not sure how, but I just know,” explained Lana. “That and… because they are my memories now too.” Embarrassment was written all over her face and Janus couldn’t quite bring himself to say something rude at her confession, still he managed a grunt at least.
“Here just sit awhile, it won’t be for too long.” asked Lana as she rematerialized the assaulted seat. For a good, long, moment Lana hoped he would take it and sit down. Deeper down somewhere, she knew he wouldn’t. He would knock the seat back over, and leave. Departing and running away from her, the questions, and his past. Still she had to try.
“I suggest you come back to reality,” commanded Janus “Because if you do not, then you might find yourself out in the wilderness alone.” With that Janus left, as Lana had predicted, though the chair HAD been spared.
Lana turned back to Fnorm who was only now appearing out of thin air beside the young girl. Fnorm had agreed that it would be best to confront Lana’s teacher without having to explain the mysterious goblin. The green goblin was more accustom, it seemed, to moving around in other peoples heads and had been able to disappear easily and spy on their conversation.
“Well miss, this seems it will prove a might harder than I reckoned,” shrugged the goblin. “Would he leave ya in the wild nowhere?”
“He means what he says,” smiled Lana, “But it seems he does not always say what he means.” Lana hoped of the rocking chair, sending it back to nothing, and bowed to Fnorm before the modest goblin could object.
“Thank you for your guidance, and for the truth about my mother. It explains some things,” Lana stated thoughtfully “And gives me more questions as well. I better get going though, my teacher seems to be quite angry and I don’t doubt he’d leave me here if I stayed too much longer”
“Ain’t nothing youngin, just don’t make yourself a stranger. I liked talkin to ya and I hate to see ya go and never know what became of me friend’s half-breed of a daughter.” Fnorm joked, and Lana laughed slightly.
“How will I contact you again?” Asked Lana before leaving.
“You’ll know, ‘member you’re the one on a leash and it’s held by the same hand as me own. Bound to get us together again sooner or later, eh”
Zack glanced around at the other ex-Observers that had been gathered here, in Belthasar’s room, and gave each a questioning eyebrow. They all shrugged, just as unsure as he was to the obvious question “What were they all doing here?” Zack hoped that soon some answers would be forthcoming, he hated waiting.
Like all the others gathered here, Zack was a time violator, but unlike everyone else here he really had no idea what he’d done. Some called in selective amnesia, others called it a blessing in disguise, but the council had called it a good reason to take away his gate access but still keep him around. Zack was thankful for the work, a poor street waif as a child, and appreciated the money and other benefits it supplied even more.
Most others donned the grey teaching robes, a few with the tan archiving robes like Zack, but none of them donned their long lost Observer badge with them. The badge was more to Zack than just a piece of rare metal, imbued with magic and technology alike; the large C with both clock hands pointing up also represented a duty to something much higher than the Chronopolis. It was a duty to Time itself.
Yet they prevent me from doing my duty. Zack brushed his hands through his spiky grey hair as the thought cross his mind, not shame, but he’d always felt just a little short-handed that he’d no idea what his crime was. Having no idea why his honor was revoked, the thought always brought more than just a little anger to his normally calm surface.
Several more minutes of waiting, and after several more ex-Observers piled in the room, Belthasar at last slowly strode through the large doors. That made ten time criminals and the old man of the Chronopolis himself; suffice to say Zack was just a bit puzzled. He wasn’t the only one.
“You may all be wondering why I’d sent a message bot requesting your presence here.” spoke Belthasar once he’d been helped to his seat by his robotic Nu, a presence that had been all but unknown until the construct had moved from its’ corner. Zack remembered seeing a real life Nu once, in a mission to Zeal, and he mentally applauded Belthasar on the remarkable likeness; large round body, spindly arms, short legs, and huge face.
“Suffice to say that the Chronopolis is in need of your great expertise and skills once again,” continued Belthasar. “At one point we took your gate access card away, yes to some it may seem undue, but recognize that this is a facility to uphold the law of time; The law of non-interference. Unfortunately we have those that wish to exploit time for their own selfish gains and that is why we do what we do.”
“It is my pleasure to say that some of you will be given another chance at gaining your gate status back, another chance to serve the Chronopolis, but it is fraught with peril and danger,” explained Belthasar as several eyes lit up, others arched their brow in interest, and still others kept their non-caring façade until they’d heard specifics. Zack smiled, glad at the slightest opportunity to get out of his boring desk job and back into the field where he felt he belonged.
“Due to the increase in time crimes, the station’s personnel are being taxed beyond what they can accomplish. So now we turn to you, for help, in dealing with a particularly hideous crime. I will understand if some of you decide to turndown this offer, it will not be easy, but for those that succeed comes reinstatement.” Belthasar finished and scanned his audience for their reactions. A smile, born of excitement, slowly crept onto the Guru’s face; they all wore expressions that said give-me-my-chance. That chance, thought Belthasar, would be given to all of them though some would not survive to reap the benefits.
“I ask that you speak to no-one about this except for me or the operations staff when you go to receive your orders, it is still classified. Any rumors I hear of this will cancel the mission, and any further opportunities, for all of you. This is a grave threat, I say this again so you know how much this means to the station. If you are willing to carry this burden then come tonight, at 2300, to the operations sector. Bring your wit, courage, and battle hardened skills; you’ll need them.”
Belthasar bowed deeply to the gathered crowd, a rare honor, and the artificially created Nu ushered the group out with pleasant goodbyes. Once the room was empty, save for his Nu and himself, Belthasar let out a long sigh of relief that no questions were asked. It had been a risky move to call this meeting without further advice from the council, several were sure to find fault with his decision if it became more than the rumor he was sure it already was, and Belthasar had no time to deal with that right now. Right now he had to assemble a group that was battle proven, and loyal to only him.
He had to use the window of opportunity while it was still open. It was possible, for a while at least, that Belthasar could still play this off as further tests for ex-Observers. The council would find out eventually though, but by then it would be too late. By then Zeal would be restored to its’ grandeur.
Finally,Belthasar thought,all my years of waiting have paid off.It was becoming harder, lately, not to get lost in the past. Scenes of Zeal, of his home, of the Blackbird, of soaring above the skies; each day his desire for these increased. He had already established the Chronopolis by then though, ironically preventing himself from doing anything rash, but now he had a way around the system. He just had to act quickly and quietly.
“Janus?” Asked Lana as the two continued there journey through the wilds of the bio-dome. At first Janus didn’t answer, occupied by what, she didn’t know, and the silence stretched further between the two.
The path Janus lead them down didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason, it seemed only to matter to him that they were moving. Fortunately they seemed to be walking into further greenery, trees could actually be spotted in the far distance, and hopefully they would get a chance to take a bath soon since there was likely to be a lake, or at least a small pond, further ahead.
The extended sojourn in her own mind had refreshed Lana and she felt alive and well; though still hungry. Everything seemed so much clearer now, she didn’t even need to see aura’s to know how Janus was feeling, and the world in general just seemed to make sense. It was as if someone had suddenly turned the lights to reveal the piece of the puzzle that Lana had always been missing.
It seemed to have the opposite effect on her teacher; he still looked as if he’d been on the losing end of a spell battle. Several days without proper food and water would do that to someone but it had never affected Magus, and Janus was really no different. He marched on stoically, letting sheer determination win over a lack of nutrition, and paid no attention to the growls that would periodically come from his stomach.
“What?” Janus answered at last, not trying to hide the annoyance in his voice. Lana’s inquisitions continued to annoy him, as well as her new confident and certain demeanor, and he almost wished she was yelling and accusing him again. At least then he could vent his anger in a response or justify his actions with verbal debate. Now all he could do was glare, and she just smiled at him whenever he turned back to do so. Stupid girl!
“Just wondering where we are going.” Lana asked. They had packed quickly and with few words exchanged between the two since they’d started, but Lana could sense the emotion turmoil that threatened to overwhelm him. A destination would be nice but she was pretty sure he had none in mind.
It was all because of what she’d done, the memories she’d made him revisit, and it hurt to know she was the reason for his pain . If only she’d stayed to collect the rest of his memories, perhaps then she could help him through whatever it was that must have been so bad. The whole morning she’d been debating whether or not to just look at Janus’ past anyway, but a deeper feeling, and his self-made barrier, said that it would be better to wait until later. Lana had no desire to violate Janus personal life, but she also felt a certain right to see the rest of his memories and know the rest of the story.
“Somewhere.” grunted Janus. He had no idea where they were going, at the start of the trip he had planned to test her survival skills through the various environs of the dome. Now he didn’t really care. Janus just had to keep moving, anywhere would do, as long as it wasn’t just sitting still. An idle mind invited past reflections, something he didn’t want right now. Maybe once he was in control enough to block out the memories they would get on with her training, but now was not that time.
“It would seem so.” agreed Lana. Calm understanding took the place where Janus had expected a smart-ass answer or angry rebuttal.
“What do you suppose the black wind was trying to tell us earlier,” thoughtfully asked Lana after several minutes of silence. “I think it was probably something important.”
“Of course it was important,” scoffed Janus, “It does not matter though, we won’t be getting involved.”
“Of course we won’t,” agreed Lana, surprising Janus, but it was said in an I-know-something-you-don’t tone that also irritated him. Whatever, the stupid girl could think what she wanted.
Deep down Lana did know something he didn’t. Something that even she didn’t understand, it was becoming clear what Fnorm had meant by knowing things without wanting to. Tonight would be the last night she would see her teacher for awhile, that much was clear to her, but how and why she didn’t know. Something told her it would work out in the end.
She didn’t doubt the fact, believed it with all her heart, but it was that lack of doubt that worried her. Things were becoming clearer and her choices seemed easy, but were they choices she’d made or ones that had been made for her?Fnorm’s ramblings make more sense as time goes on, thought Lana,maybe I am being pulled around by a leash. How can I be sure that any of my actions are my own anymore?
That thought and any others along the same path died as more reassurance flooded into her being and she once again knew that it would work out in the end. Regardless of whose actions they were.