The Guardians / Chapter 25: Tortured Visions
Posted June 5th, 2019 by Codename-X12
in a secret bunker finishing the Guardians
The Guardians are back in chapter twenty-five 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:
I flopped down wearily on a queen-sized bed, arms and legs splayed out like I was making a snow angel. Even after a whole twenty-four hours since the infiltration, my whole body ached noticeably from the explosion that had nearly finished me off. My leg, which had been broken only a few weeks ago, throbbed worst of all, feeling like a lead weight at my side. And I was bone tired after the whole crazy day. The exhaustion felt like it had sunk deep within me like a boulder settling at the bottom of a lake.
My head sank into the pleasantly firm pillow. It didn't take long for my eyes to close.
Then, as soon as they had drifted closed, they popped open again.
POV: Brandyn Lorensen
The only thing that came to my eyes was the darkness of the dormitory. The queen-size bed that had seemed so soft before now felt hard and cold underneath me. I turned my head to check the alarm clock that sat next to the queen-sized bunk. No reassuring glowing numbers greeted my searching eyes. The alarm clock was gone. Huh.
The darkness pressed on me uncomfortably, and it felt like buzzing beetles against my skin. My eyes whipped around in sudden anxiety, but everything around me was the same black void. The room felt like it was closing in, shrinking, with me caught in the middle of it. About to be crushed. An inexplicable desire for light seized me, and I stood up to turn them on.
Only I didn't stand up. I couldn't. As I moved, I felt something digging into my wrists and ankles. Were they chains? As I twisted, they locked tighter around me with a clicking sound. I felt a numbing sensation spread through my arms and legs. The more I moved, the tighter the restraints became.
The whole thing was a trap! Shane and Devon had set me up! They had lured me to this god-forsaken ship and waited until I was asleep to clap me in irons. I struggled and jerked for a few seconds before jolts of pain from the crushing locks forced me to stop less they snap my bones.
I stared into the wicked darkness that smothered me and leered at my helplessness. My eyes could make nothing out in that black cloud. Anything could be out there, just a few feet away from me, and I would never know it was there. With my arms and legs strangled by the chains, I was utterly exposed. I could be trapped in a coffin feet underground for all I knew. I felt fear and claustrophobic panic slithering down my spine as I lay almost paralyzed, waiting for something to attack out of the shadows.
But nothing happened. I waited there in the pitch darkness. It seemed like several minutes went by, but I had no way of telling how long. Hours could have passed, maybe even days, and I would never be able to distinguish them.
Were they ever going to come back? For the fear that gripped me, my heartbeat seemed surprisingly. I lay there in silence, the soft tapping of my heart the only sound reaching my ears. The chains continued to dig and bite into my flesh, becoming more unbearable each minute.
Then a tiny red light hovering the air nearby suddenly burned to life, spraying scarlet light onto my face. In the dim glow I could hardly see anything, but I tried to sit up. The chains snapped into my flesh and I yelped, falling back against the bed. Then, beneath the red light elevated in the shadows, a heavy steel door slid to one side.
Blinding rays blazed into my eyes though the open doorway, instantly banishing the shadows. They were so bright after so much time engulfed in darkness that they made my eyes sting, a few tears leaking from them. Squinting against the glare, I watched as a shadowy humanoid figure strode into the doorway.
The blurry outline of the ghostly shape was the only thing visible against the sudden brilliance. The figure stood silently in the doorway, head cocked slightly to one side as if trying to decide if it was worth the trouble keeping me alive.
In the sharp, cold glow from the doorway, I could see that the chains that clamped like vices around my arms were in fact heavy steel locks. The glimmering steel restraints were tethered to the room's metallic walls by steel cables thicker than my arm. Instead of the comfy queen-size bed, I know lay painfully on a hard, cold metal slab like a table used for dissections.
The next thing I realized was that I was no longer wearing the black pajamas I had worn when I had gotten into bed. Instead, a ripped and tattered orange jacket and leggings clung wearily to my body. The bright color was dull and faded, and torn so badly and in so many ways that it looked like the clothes had gone through a woodchipper.
Another second and I saw it. Emblazoned on the front of the shredded jacket was a white symbol resembling a fox's face. I stared at it in stunned realization, hardly able to tear my eyes from the patterned canine face. What the heck was going on? With another jolt of shock, I noticed a stream of long, caramel blond hair trailing down from the back of my head. It was tangled worse than a thicket of thorns, matted with dried blood and stuck some places in messy clumps.
This couldn't be another one of my random, and usually disturbing, nightmares Somehow, no matter how crazy it sounded to me, I knew I was dreaming through the eyes of Luna Palamara. It didn't matter if I couldn't explain it. It was happening anyway.
The haunting figure took a few steps into the dark room where Luna lay imprisoned, its footsteps making no sound on the floor. Even as Luna's eyes adjusted to the unexpected brightness, she couldn't make out the face of the humanoid stalking toward her. Against the light pouring in through the doorway, the figure had the appearance of a three-dimensional shadow.
The stranger stopped about a foot away from her, head still cocked slightly as if in thought. Luna strained to hold herself as far away from the figure as the iron restraints would allow. Then the stranger held up something small in his hand, and it caught in the light from the doorway.
It was an injection needle, the razor-sharp tip glimmering wickedly in the brightness.
The shadow-figure, clutching the needle like a dagger, lowered it toward Luna. She twisted to keep away, gritting her teeth as the iron locks clicked tighter.
"You...won't...win," she snarled. "I'll never...give in to you bastards." The figure bent lower over her like a faceless creature from the dark depths of some horrid nightmare. Luna, eyes wide with dread like she knew what was coming next, inched back from the incoming needle. With a vicious snapping of metal, the steel restraints jerked her forcefully back into place in the middle of the metal table.
The stranger lowered the needle closer. Then he paused.
"It looks like someone's watching." The words were as cold and indiscernible as the rest of the shadow-figure. "We can't have that, can we?"
The figure raised a gloved hand and pressed it firmly against Luna's forehead.
A ferocious jolt of burning pain blazed through me. I felt myself falling for a terrifying second, then landed painfully on the carpeted floor of my dorm room. The ghost of a distant scream pounded like blood in my ears for an instant before fading. It was not my own voice.
My forehead burned like a red-hot coal had been pressed against it, in the exact spot the macabre shadow-figure had touched. In a second the sharp pang had faded, leaving a dull migraine-like ache in its place.
As I sat there, bewildered, a sudden rumbling explosion jerked me out of my disoriented state. I whipped around toward the noise, expecting to see the wall collapse onto me in a blast of flaming sparks as terrorists with RPGs attacked. It took my confused brain a long second to realize that the boom was simply thunder roaring across the sky. I knew it must be storming outside the ship. I remembered hearing that it was bad to be in a pool when lightning struck. Hopefully Devon had insured his fancy ship against getting fried by lightning.
Rubbing my aching forehead with one hand, I jumped to my feet, stumbling over a web of blankets I had dragged with me to the floor. Hastily untangling myself from them, I slapped a button on top of my alarm clock. Immediately the lights of my dormitory room blazed into existence. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. The room was the same as it had been a few minutes before. No hard metal table. No iron restraints. No creepy figure. No Luna Palamara.
I darted for the door of my bedroom. It slid open as I approached, and I raced out into the circular room beyond my dorm. I scanned the many doors encircling the room, trying to remember which one was Shane's.
Wait. I foggily remembered that he had went into the one a three doors to the left one mine, to the room with the loft that Devon had first showed up. Counting out three doors, I advanced toward the foreboding steel entry of Shane's dormitory room. Hesitating only a few seconds, I rapped boldly on the door. The hollow metallic pounding almost made me regret knocking. But what I had to say was more important than Shane's annoyance at being awoken after day as long and tiring as this one.
I waited a few seconds. No sounds of someone being suddenly woken up, like curses and yawning, emanated through the door. A patient minute later and I was pressing my hand against the keypad, which Devon had rigged up earlier to recognize our hands. The door popped open, and one look into the dark room told me it was empty.
No Shane. Nobody at all, in fact. The only evidence that someone had been in the room at all were the disorderly bedsheets. They were rolled carelessly aside on the bed as if someone had gotten up abruptly from a nightmare in the middle of the night. My eyes instinctively flicked toward the alarm clock beside the bed. 2:37.
I knew there was only one other place Shane might be.
In another minute I was traveling upward on one of the Eclipse Seeker’s elevators. A buzzer dinged dispassionately as the metal box slowed to a smooth halt. The elevator doors popped open, and I found myself staring down a short hallway lined with clean white walls.
At the end of the spotless corridor lurked a thick blast door with a tiny slit-like window at its top, and I paced swiftly toward it. A blaze of lightning glared through the small window, spraying an eerie glow down the length of the passage. From beyond the doorway came the unmistakable sound of gunfire, mixing in devilish harmony with another crackling pulse of lightning.
My suspicions were correct.
The sound of gunfire grew louder with each step I took down the dark hallway. In another swift second I reached the heavy steel door. I opened the imposing barrier, and stepping through the doorway felt like exiting a spaceship's airlock into the gloom and the unknown. I strode out onto the flat training deck, and was instantly engulfed in the raw power of the storm.
Only when I was outside did I realize how fierce the storm actually was. It was so dark that it almost looked like the ship was floating in a sea of black ink. I couldn't even see the vengeful clouds The only light came from large floodlights on the ship's deck. They beamed powerful circles of light onto towering waves almost as tall as trees crashing like cannonballs against the Eclipse Phalanx's sides. The wind howled across the deck like an enraged banshee, and the rain lashed my face like hundreds of tiny yet sharp whips.
In the middle of it all, Shane Corvo was battling drones.
Gun flashes pouring from his dual pistols lit up his drenched form. In one hand he held an automatic handgun, in the other one of his signature flare guns. The drones buzzed angrily, spinning through the air like mutant wasps. Every few seconds several of them would launch deadly explosive projectiles down through the air toward Shane. There were nine of them in the air, and more destroyed ones littered the deck.
Shane, simultaneously firing his handgun, leapt backwards to avoid another explosion that lit the deck a few feet from him. The burst of rounds cut through one drone with a flash of sparks. The robot, spiraling down through the air, smashed violently against the deck, reduced to a mass of shredded rotors and twisted mechanical parts.
"Behind you!" I shouted as another drone fired at Shane from behind. He whipped around and raised the flare gun just in time to shoot the projectile out of the sky. The two flares detonated when they hit, blossoming into a fireball that made me blink.
Shane fired another flare that knocked the seventh drone out of the sky. I felt my hands blaze with cold as I summoned the darkness to swirl from around me and bring vengeance to the drones that had dared attack our ship.
A beam of crackling shadows pulsed from my twitching fingertips, blending in with the dark air around. It arched through the air just as Shane destroyed another of the flying robots with a well-aimed shot of his flare gun.
The death ray connected with one of the robots and fried it out of the sky. Then it bounced off the falling form of the drone and sprang to another. It exploded the instant it touched the robot, tearing through the remaining drones like a tiny dark supernova. Lifeless robots plummeted out of the sky like falling meteors, clattering against the metal surface of the deck.
“Were those sent by Bleeding Edge?” I asked anxiously, wiping cold rain out of my eyes. Even then it was hard to see Shane through the harsh spray thrashing against my face and stinging my eyes.
“I don’t think so,” Shane replied, barely audible over the ferocious roar of the storm. “I was just doing some training.” I stared at him in stunned surprise.
“In this weather?” I asked him. “Are you a fanatic?”
“It makes me feel alive,” Outlaw replied. His back was turned to me as he faced the magnificent waves pounding like drums against the Eclipse Seeker’s sides. He stood soaking in the primal power of the storm like it was adrenaline churning through his veins.
“I came to tell you something,” I called out. He didn’t answer, but I knew he was listening. “I had this dream. About Luna, and I think I saw was what she was actually seeing, like some sort of live feed.”
At this he turned to face me, face marked with an expression of uneasy skepticism.
“Maybe Luna has ESP or something,” I said somewhat apologetically.
“ESP?” Shane asked. “There’s no such thing as ESP.”
I stared at him incredulously. “Dude, I can control a hypothetical energy field.”
“So what happened in your dream?” Shane wanted to know.
“Well, she was chained on this creepy metal table in a pitch dark room. Then this
door opened and shadowy person holding an injection needle came in,” I spilled out the story in a rush. “He seemed to know that I was seeing what she was seeing, so he touched one finger against Luna’s forehead and that made me wake up.”
Shane stood there silently, an expression of tension taking root across his face.
“The guy, the shadowy guy. Was he wearing a mask?” he asked suddenly.
“I’m not sure,” I replied, taken aback by his forcefulness. “It was too dark to see much. But I’m pretty sure he wasn’t one of the Vespers, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
“No,” Shane muttered, brow furrowed in uneasy thought. His tone of voice seemed more appropriate for someone predicting the end of the world than wondering curiously about a dream. A minute passed, the miserable reality of the pouring, frigid rain and whipping wind seeming worse each second. I was already dripping from head to toe and didn’t want my face to shrivel off from the downpour.
“Do you wanna get inside?” I asked him hopefully. He nodded, still pondering. After a second he followed me toward the still-open door leading back into the ship. A small stream of water was trickling down the length of the hall toward the elevator.
“It’s pretty nasty out there,” I commented as we entered the elevator.
“Nah, its pretty tame for a storm at sea,” Shane told me. “Sometimes the waves can get almost three times as high as they were out there.”
The rest of the descent passed in silence, with me hoping that we would never run into one of the “non-tame” storms. In another minute we returned to the dormitories.
“See you tomorrow,” I told Shane from the doorway of my room.
“See you then,” he said absentmindedly, disappearing into his bedroom. After changing out of my drenched clothes and into fresh, warm pajamas, I climbed back into the queen-sized bed.
I settled down for what I knew would be a long remainder of the night.
End of chapter twenty-five. As always, any constructive criticism is greatly appreciated!
The Guardians will return on Saturday, June 8, at around 4:00 PM (CDT time zone).
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