The Guardians / Chapter 23: Eclipse Seeker
Posted May 30th, 2019 by Codename-X12
in a secret bunker finishing the Guardians
The Guardians are back in chapter twenty-three of The Guardians!
If you’re new to the Guardians or just need a refresher on what’s going on, be sure to check out another post which has links to all the chapter in order. You can find that post here: https://www.kidpub.com/book-page-or-chapter/guardians-back-3035162865
You can find the previous chapter here:
Previously on The Guardians:
“Hey Brandyn, you think we could turn the Vespers to our side somehow?”
Brandyn stared coldly at me for a second before answering, “No way. They’re heartless murderers. They killed my best friend and probably one of my only other friends. They don’t deserve a second chance. They should pay.”
“They could be doing it against their will. It might not be their fault.” Was I really arguing this for the sake of Katalia Veris, or was it for my own sake? Doubt burned inside me like toxic acid melting my heart. I knew I could never escape my past life. Even if I tried, I knew it would haunt and plague me forever.
“Well, they still did it,” Brandyn said angrily. “Everyone has a choice, and everyone should be paid back according to what they choose.”
“You really believe that?” I muttered. “How many people have you killed?”
“But...I’m doing it for the greater good,” Brandyn sighed. “What we all do this for...to make the world a safer, better place for the innocent.”
“How many people will you have to kill before the world is perfect? The world is always screwed up, and nothing we can do can change that.”
“I know that, but then why are you even doing this?”
“I know why I fight, but you need to come up with that answer for yourself,” I said, calmly tapping the mouse so that the screen instantly changed once more.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Brandyn sigh miserably and put on hand to his forehead as if it hurt to think. He noticed me watching, and I quickly flicked my eyes to face the screen.
And now...we’re back!
POV: Brandyn Lorensen
“Well, let’s get a move on already,” I replied venomously. If he wanted to get out a white flag and try to make peace with the murderers who had killed my best friend and torn my life apart, then I would have to take Shane down with them.
But Shane’s words echoed my own doubts. Was the only reason I fought to get my revenge for the murder of my dead friend? No matter how many I stopped, no matter how many I took down, I could never bring her back to life. Eventually I would run into someone more powerful than I and my violent past would die with me. Nothing gained from my entire existence except pain and doubt. Was it really worth it?
That would make anyone’s brain hurt.
“This is the last one,” Shane told me, breaking into my prison of twisted thoughts. Was it just me, or did he hesitate slightly before pulling it up?
Name: Amber Smith
Empowered Alias: Shadow
Age: Deceased (died at age 15)
Abilities: Shadow (deceased) once possessed a various range of inhuman abilities. Some of these abilities are common side-effects of darkmatter cellular contamination. This included her ability to leech off the fear of nearby targets. If fear is exhibited by these targets, her physical strength, speed, agility, and possible endurance were increased dramatically, based on the level of fear exhibited. She could also place nightmares and dreams of her wishing into the minds of those who are sleeping.
Other of her powers are extremely rare or completely unique. Shadow had the power to animate the bodies of nearby sleeping humans and control their bodies as if it was her own. The exact reason and other effects of this are unknown. One ability thought to be unique was her ability to raise undead corpses through an unknown reanimation technique probably associating with darkmatter contamination.
Other weapons: Unknown
Combat Style: Unknown
Danger Level: N/A
Defeat Strategy: N/A
“Was this the friend you were talking about?” Shane asked me.
I nodded, feeling the ghost of tears stinging my eyes.
“She was killed by the Vespers,” I snarled. “They murdered her.”
“I’m sorry,” Shane replied carefully.
“Yeah, well a fat lot of good that does me,” I replied bitterly. “That’s the main reason I’m in this crazy mission. I want to pay back those bastards for what they did.”
“Vengeance is your reason for being a hero?” Shane asked.
“For now it is,” I replied doubtfully. Was Shane trying to expose my guilt and doubt that I had shoved down deep inside and tried to forget about? I felt myself glancing out the cockpit at the blue, sunny sky. “But Bleeding Edge going to kill a hell of a lot of people without my help.”
“I understand,” Shane told me carefully. “It sounds to me like your reason for being a hero is to pay others back what they’ve done wrong. My reason for risking my life every day is to pay others back for what I’ve done.”
I looked at him, surprised.
“I’ve done some bad things in my past. Things I’m not proud of. So that’s the main reason why I’m in this,” Shane finished. I knew it wouldn’t be wise to push for more information. What had Shane done that filled him with regret? Suddenly what he had said earlier made sense. They could be doing it against their will. It might not be their fault. Empathy suddenly bloomed within me. It turned out Shane wasn’t totally unfamiliar with my suffering.
“I’ve only had one goal all these years: find the Vespers and cut them down. But I’ve known that when I’ve done that, what will my purpose be then?” I asked, trying to reach out for a word of advice.
“I can never stop paying for what I’ve done. I’ve caused hurt that can never be forgiven, never repaid. Taking out Bleeding Edge will help, but I’m not going to stop once they bite the dirt. I’ll keep going until someone does actually manage to kill me.”
“Evil will never be gone,” I said, not looking at Shane as I stared out the window. I had asked this question of myself many times, but I’d always pushed past it.“No matter what we do, how many criminals or gangs we take down, there are always more. And two more will rise up wherever one is put down. We can’t win. Why even try?” It was an honest question that I had wondered for years.
“Not everyone can cower. Someone needs to stand.”
“Not everyone can,” I cried. “My best friend tried to stand up for what’s right. She was killed for it.
“That’s why we stand up for those who can’t,” Shane said. Of course the Empowered who could survive almost anything had less regard for his own safety. I sighed in frustration and sank down into his bed, staring up at the bottom of the higher bunk.
“I’m in this until the Vespers are dead,” I said slowly. “I’ll help you until then, okay? After that...I dunno. I’ll have to decide when we get to that point.”
“I can’t build a team on an ‘I dunno’.”
“Take it or leave it,” I sighed. “Not everyone’s willing to die like you are.”
“I thought I had something going here.” Shane closed the files with an angry stab of his finger against the computer mouse.
I didn’t reply. Shane swiveled his chair to face away from me. With a few keystrokes against the keyboard, he was soon staring intensely at a brightly-lit web page
"Hey, Brandyn," Shane said a minute later as he checked another message. I sat up and looked at him quizzically. "Do you know anyone named Devon Palamara?" Shane wondered.
“What?” I asked, crossing the small interior to peer at the computer screen.
“He just sent us a private message,” Shane replied as he scanned the brief message. “He wants us to meet with him at the Palamara residence. At noon today. What should I reply?''
“I'm not sure,” I said slowly as my eyes traced the lines of text. The short block of text pretty much just said that Devon had something important to tell us. It didn't really give us much to go on.
“He took you in for a few weeks, right?" Shane said.
“Yeah. He's a pretty nice guy, despite his plans getting stolen by Bleeding Edge,” I answered. "I think we should trust him on this one. Maybe he found something out that could help us with the Vespers."
"Sounds fine with me," Shane said, turning his computer back on. "That leaves us about four hours until we need to be there. What do you want to do until then? There's a post here about a robbery 'bout ten minutes ride from here. Want to check it out?''
The hovercraft swooped cheerfully through the puffy white clouds like an enormous bird. Even I couldn't keep a smile from my face as Shane skillfully maneuvered the aircraft between clumps of the drifting clouds. The sun glowed down warmly from above as we speed nimbly across the sky, far above the city below. The dozens of skyscrapers looked like glittering daggers from up so high, sparkling in the sunlight.
I glanced at a digital clock reading on one of the craft's control panels from where I sat in the co-pilot's seat. It was 11:49, only eleven minutes before we were supposed to be meeting with Devon.
The armed robbery had taken us less time to put down than we had hoped, and we had waited around for a few hours before setting out. Basically we had shown up, the enemies had gotten one look at my freaky death powers and Shane's creepy regeneration, and pretty much all of them gave up immediately. A few tried to make a break for it, desperately firing their firearms at us as they scrambled away, but they didn't get very far.
In a few minutes later as we soared over the suburbs, the sprawling lawns and woods surrounding the Palamara's mansion came into view below. From above, the mansion looked like an orderly group of white wooden blocks. The exotic trees planted about the yard looked like mere dots of bright color from so high up in the air, and the luxurious garden looked like a bright mosaic from above. I made out Devon’s private cottage, merely a single speck in the middle of the vest garden. The Olympic-sized outdoor pool shimmered like a large, rectangular diamond. It was surrounded by three outdoor gazeboes and a fence to keep the area private for pool parties and such.
A few seconds later I noticed the helipad in back of the mansion on an elevated platform not far from the pool. I had been shown it by Luna during my time recuperating there, but had never seen it from the air before. The pad was connected to the large back patio of the mansion by a walkway that was elevated a few feet off the ground. The railing that surrounded the patio also ran up the walkway and ringed around the helicopter pad.
Shane, eyeing the helipad careful, eased up on the controls, slowing down the hovercraft for a slower descent. Drifting down through the air, I watched as the mansion and the surrounding yard grew larger and more distinct. I could make out the tiny ant-like shapes of servants and gardeners here and there. The helipad expanded in our view as well, until the aircraft touched down on it smoothly.
We jumped out through the hatchway and Shane closed it behind us with a tap on his controller. I took a quick glance to survey the yard from the panoramic position of the helipad, noting the perfectly trimmed, weedless grass, blooming flowers, and the lush gardens that I had become used to during my lengthy stay only a few weeks ago.
Shane was looking toward the house, and when I turned, I saw Devon Palamara standing there. He no longer dressed in his black scientist's lab coat he had worn when I had seen him last, but a dark grey sportcoat and black smart watch that fit in with the grand setting of his mansion. His face was stern and unsmiling, seeming to defy the ignorant sunshine. As he approached us with calculated steps, the folds of his jacket rustled in the July breeze.
"Hello, Shane Corvo and Brandyn Lorensen," he began. "It is with a heavy heart that I invite you here. Witnesses saw you battling the masked assassins who attacked the hospital. So you know as well as I do that my daughter has been kidnapped."
"I'm really sorry," I said. "I understand how you feel." Devon smiled sadly.
"I didn't know who to turn to," he continued. "The police were baffled about where she could have gone...but I finally knew that you would be able to save her. You're both very powerful. More powerful than you know. And...Shane? Thank you for saving Luna. She would have died if you hadn't stopped and performed necessary first aid."
Shane opened his mouth to speak. Probably to ask how he knew, but Devon answered his unspoken question before he could voice it, "I studied the security camera footage after the attack. Also, I knew when I saw you wreck those robots that you would be more than capable of handling a rescue mission."
"Bleeding Edge was behind the attack," Shane said. "They're a-"
"Yes, I know, a crime syndicate," Devon replied. "One of the deadliest and most well-armed I've ever seen. The attacks have been increasing. I've been monitoring them after Luna was kidnapped, and I've decided to triple my personal security and put the mansion on lockdown. But after the attack last night, and the attack at the military base, I don't really know if any security will be able to hold them off." He paused as if in thought.
"We were there," Shane blurted out. "We broke in to steal info from the inhuman file."
Devon's eyes jerked open wide. "How did you survive!? Just breaking out of there would mean certain capture, sneaking in and stealing files...that's a whole other matter. I've never even seen the file, just heard of it, and I thought I had a good security clearance, working for the military and all. Whatever did you use it for?"
"We needed the information," I said, "to create a team. A team of Empowered, to take down Bleeding Edge and rescue your daughter." Devon was breathless for a moment as a relief drifted onto his face. It made both Shane and I smile. Then his face lapsed into seriousness again.
"I will be ever grateful," Devon said, reaching out to shake Shane's hand. Outlaw firmly grasped his hand and the two shook hands. "I, however, did not summon you here simply to ask a favor," Devon told us. "Convinced as I am of your trustworthiness, I also wanted to ask to come along with you."
"Are you sure, Devon?" I asked. "It's going to be pretty dangerous."
"I'll do anything to get my daughter back," Devon said, complexion stern once more. I thought I saw a glimmer of a tear in one eye, but it could easily have been a trick of the sunlight.
"You can come along," Shane decided after a moment. "But my ship might get a little cramped." Devon Palamara burst out laughing like it was the funniest thing he had heard in awhile.
"Don't worry about that," he said cheerfully. "I have some tech that may prove useful in your little endeavor. Well, our little endeavor now. Rev up your hovercraft and I'll show you it. It's a little ways out from the coast."
"It?" I wondered. "What is it, an island?"
"Something a little more mobile," he replied, heading for the hovercraft. Shane and I followed curiously. Shane caught my eye and shrugged unknowingly. A few feet from the aircraft, Devon stopped, and turned to face us. "Just need to make a quick call," he told me and Shane, raising his smartwatch to his mouth.
"This is Devon," he spoke into the watch. "I'm going to be gone for a while. Clear the next few weeks and put Marclay in charge until I get back. And yes, do leave the security on. Call me if there are any unauthorized visitors." He lowered the watch. "Sorry about that," he said. "Well, let's get on with this!"
When we were inside the hovercraft, Shane asked Devon, "So where is this thing you want to show us?" Devon was busy looking around and investigating the high-tech hovercraft in fascination.
"What? Oh yes, it's just a few miles off the coast. About north-west from here." He strode over to the computer and typed in a few coordinates. The computer screen lit up and a map zoomed in on the exact spot, a few miles from the bustling city of Washington D.C.
Let's get going," Shane smiled, sitting down in the pilot's seat and seizing the controls. The coordinates appeared on a control panel screen in front of the steering handles. Shane flipped a switch and adjusted a lever, and the hovercraft's rotors began spinning outside the cockpit. Devon sat down beside him in the co-pilot's seat as the craft began hovering a few feet above the helipad. I remained standing, holding onto a handle mounted to the ceiling like the ones on subway trains.
The mansion and expanse of the yard grew smaller and smaller as we zipped away. Streets and houses in the suburb below whizzed by underneath us. Soon the buildings began getting larger and larger as we passed over them, growing up from houses, shops, and libraries into skyscrapers, apartment buildings, and office towers. In five minutes we were flying high above city of Anthem.
Then I noticed a charred spot of destroyed buildings and ripped-up blacktop down below, like a gruesome scar blemishing the otherwise beautiful city. Devon had noticed it as well, and he looked upon it with eyes full of sorrow.
"I can't believe something I created caused so much destruction and killed so many," he said. I looked at him, confused, until I remembered the destroyer-class assault robots which had come so close to finishing me off at the mansion.
"They self-destructed and lit the whole place up," Shane explained.
“I never designed them to have that destructive of a function,” Devon said sadly. “The military wanted me to add it, but I knew that if I did more people would unnecessarily die in our wars. Bleeding Edge must have modified the destroyers.”
In another minute we were passing over the green landscape of Delaware, until we left the coast behind and were zipping above the Atlantic ocean. We spent a few minutes soaring above the sparkling blue waters. Every few seconds I would spot some kind of boat, which looked like toy boats in a bathtub, floating across the waves. The sparkling reflection of the hovercraft down below followed us across the waters. I glanced at the computer reading in front of Shane that told him where to go. The dot on the map that represented our destination was almost directly next to another dot that told us where we were.
The distance between the two dots on screen diminished until they were directly on top of each other. I began searching the waters below, eyes straining as they scanned the surface. Nothing. I was about to turn to Devon in confusion and annoyance. Then I took an involuntary step back as Devon began laughing at our confusion. Shane turned to him in anger, but Devon, smiling at him, raised one finger and placed it on his smart watch.
Suddenly the waters below us began bubbling and churning like a volcano was erupting just beneath the waves. I stared through the computer screen as something large and dark grey began to surface directly beneath us.
"I present to you," Devon said dramatically, “the Eclipse Seeker.” Shane and I stared in awe as we realized what the floating grey mass was. It was an enormous battleship!
End of chapter twenty-three. As always, any constructive criticism is greatly appreciated!
The Guardians will return on Sunday, June 2, at around 4:00 PM (CDT time zone).
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