Aw yeah did you hear the news from Comic Con? Batman and Superman! In the SAME film! Zounds, that almost never happens! Well, maybe once a year in each of their comic titles. And the “Worlds’ Finest” one-shots. And every issue and episode of Justice League of America ever. But otherwise this is new and exciting!
Yeah, right. What’s with these people, recycling material all the time!? There’s a Suicide Squad movie now too? Forget the comics; DC just released an animated version with most of the same team. How will this film be any better now that we have Will Smith playing Deadshot? Oh. OH. But THIS Joker has tattoos. Gosh, I can’t WAIT for the Inkmaster tie-in this season.
I’ll probably go see it but man, I can’t even get excited about movies anymore. My friend Matt told me he was going to see the latest Terminator the other night and I didn’t even blink. Okay. Whatever. So there’s another one. It’s just absurd. For crying out loud–I live in a world where they’re still making Star Wars films. Yeah, I saw the trailer. The ‘making of’ video. “We’re using real actors with practical special effects.” Oh, you mean like when you made these movies with the same cast members THREE DECADES AGO!?
I’ve mentioned this before, but this is one of the reasons I decided to write the Abandonment Party books: I needed something original to experience. So enjoy this chapter where the main heroes gather together against Shirka for the, um, what is it? Third time? Eh, ha,ha,ha,ha….
21 – Fracture
Tyle dropped his crutch, leaning on the car as his hands shot into the air.
“Hey, don’t shoot! I’m just a private businessman!”
“I can’t move those rifles,” Mean muttered to Dark. She rose her arms and Dark did the same. Vornis cracked his neck. Someone was approaching from behind the soldiers, pushing his large body around a moss-tinged trash can.
“Steve!” Darrow cried out. “Get back!”
“We don’t have fights here,” Steve commanded. With a flex of his three-fingered hand an arc of lightning flashed from it: it struck the first rifle barrel turned toward him and looped in several directions to catch the others’ guns. Every soldier gave a reflexive jerk and let their weapons fall.
“Don’t go reaching for anything else, either,” Steve warned as one woman started to go for a knife. “I don’t want any more fighting; we’ve had enough.”
“That is Steve,” the man in green goggles said. “Clance’s MIA bodyguard.”
“Let’s just stand down and observe,” the commander said.
“Thanks, man!” Darrow shouted over. “You guys at the casino all okay?”
Steve gave a thumbs-up with his marred hand. “Yeah, they’re a bit shook up but they’re fine. I’ll try to get them back home. You should probably get back to your planet, too. Don’t like the looks of this.”
Tyle let out a sigh. “Alright. Trisk, use that ring. Finally.”
“Tyle, can you just drive us back through?” Mean asked. “I still need to look for one more person.”
Tyle tossed his crutch into the driver’s side. He pulled himself up with one arm into the seat. “You’re kidding.”
“Please?” Mean asked. “I’ll look along the way.”
“Oh I don’t know,” Trisk said. She pulled up her robe’s sleeve to admire the ring’s gem. “Tyle’s car looks pretty dented. I don’t think it has good mileage either. King’s hex door—”
Tyle started the bus. The engine cut off the rest of her words. “I had enough fuel in here to go to the pyramid, back—wherever!” Tyle shouted. “Get in. Jesian ingenuity is getting everyone home!”
“Woman’s ingenuity,” Trisk chuckled. She reached down to help Mean and Dark back into the bus.
“Everyone in?” Tyle asked through the speaker. When he saw that they were all seated he steered the vehicle around the ruined kiosk.
“I wonder where Mackaba could be,” Mean said.
Dark shrugged. The bus turned a corner and moved down the street; the casino and cliff at their left. “If Hellzoo captured the rest of her siblings then he could be running free anywhere.”
Mackaba and Beebee skirted along the shore of the lake, following the path that was now cut short by the Nameless’ wreck. Freed from the ivory adornments on its hull, the main body of the ship now lay outstretched as a solid, sleek cylinder. The true name of the vessel was painted across the side in large font; a faded marking resembled a nation’s flag. A slope of rubble ran along the side of the ship: pieces of the woman’s statue could be distinguished in places.
“Alvy, I think you should go back to your own world,” Beebee said. Her hair and clothes were dusted with white debris. “I need to get to my sister; I need to talk her out of this.”
The far side of the cliff that encircled them was lit by the sun. Shirka’s ringed chandelier had lowered on the other side of the Nameless; leaving buildings and chains bright beneath the black, starry sky.
“This looks as much like my home as any other place,” Mackaba answered. “I’ll get you to her.”
Mean hovered above the bus as it moved eastward through the dilapidated streets of the park. She looked north, across the tops of the concession stands where they came to an abrupt end upon a rocky, staggered slope swarming with people. The crowd was on its feet, staring and pointing in all directions. The downed Nameless sat on the other side of these people, and the middle of the pond could be glimpsed beyond the curve of the cylindrical hull.
“I bet those scouts back there are so jealous,” Dark said as Mean dropped back down.
Mean settled into one of the seats. “I’m not sure about that; I still can’t find him,” she said. “There’s a whole crowd of people next to the crashed ship; they look like they were in the middle of a concert or something.”
“Beebee—did you see Beebee?” Elder Sain asked.
Mean ran her fingers through her hair to straighten it from her flight. “I don’t think so; she’s pretty big, er, tall. I can zip over there real quick when we get closer.”
“Is there even a way through?” Tyle asked over the speaker. “What’s all that smoke over there?”
“That’s Pladomir’s world: the atmosphere is toxic to you.”
Darrow watched the thick sheet of blue gas draped around the factory.
“What’s it look like over there, Mean?” he asked. “Is it spreading?”
“I don’t think it was,” Mean replied. “There’s a giant space around the building: it’s like the hall Parlay made. There’re lights like a city below it.”
“If that gas is denser than oxygen then it shouldn’t be able to get up here,” he said. “Not too much of it, anyway.”
“Is. There. A way. Through?” Tyle repeated.
Mean took in a breath and let it out. “Yes. It’s at the far east end of the ship. I might have to clear some of that wreckage but we should be able to make it.”
She caught a glipse of more people gathered amid an overgrown playground. They all wore military uniforms and their gaze was already on Tyle’s bus as it came into view. Their weapons were held ready.
Mean stared back, seeing them positioned next to rides for children: formed in the shapes of unfamiliar animals and caked with rust. A small building broke line of sight as the bus rolled on.
“This was our place,” Elder said. “Arsiling: it was supposed to be our home.”
“Listen to you!” Jelk said. “You invaded our world, left the frickin’ door open, and now you’re whining that someone decided to repay the favor? Why didn’t you guys just go back where you came from? You said Zonzabee—if it really was her—was dead. Why risk everything by screwing around with all the planets?”
“It’s what we were made for,” Elder Sain said. “I wish they could have learned to live together, alone, but they just weren’t built for it. I had to do all of this for them—it’s my fault they’re here.” He reflexively wiped at the visor covering his face.
“What a crock!” Jelk said. Vornis glared at him with white eyes.
“Don’t be so quick to judge them,” he grumbled. “You don’t know what it’s like to be trained; programmed for a specific purpose.”
“What, are you defending this guy?” Jelk asked. Tenny spoke up.
“I think it’s strange that you’re getting so riled up over this,” he said. “I’ve seen you masquerade as the worst villains in history. Every tournament you strut out to the arena as some killer or psychopath.”
Jelk pulled on his tuft of hair, pacing over. The bus hit a bump. “Oh. Oh. You think I idolize them or something? You wanna know why I dress up like the bad guy?” He tapped his chest. “Because I always lost. Every match. Every time. So I figured, hey, why not dress up like people I hate? People that nobody likes? That way—that way when I lose everyone watching gets to see them fail too.”
Tyle’s voice came in over the speaker: “There’s a bit of a drop ahead; hang on back there.”
Everyone found a handhold as the bus’s front wheels left the grounds of the park, dropping a short distance to the cave floor. A warm wind swept over the vehicle as it entered the zone, touching down with the back wheels, bouncing, and continuing on.
“I’m going to check the crowd before we get to the ship,” Mean announced. She patted Dark on the shoulder before rushing off through the air. Small groups of people had broken off from those that remained on the theater stands, and they noticed Mean approaching with stares and gasps.
“That girl is flying!” one concert patron observed.
“Aliens! Flying aliens!” a woman in a cowboy hat screamed.
Mean ignored them, gliding over their heads.
“Mackaba! Mackaba!” Mean called out.
“What language is that?” someone asked. A man with bloodshot eyes shook his head.
“Guys, calm down,” Mean told them. “Did you see a man wearing bright orange clothes? Has a snooty look on his face?”
No one replied. A teen wearing an illuminated necklace spoke up.
“Where’s Beebee? Is this part of the show?”
“That woman up there in the sky said she took her; I told you!” a man with a ‘Beebs 4 Life’ shirt said. “I’m going over there. I’m tired of people getting kidnapped while the governors sit on their hands.”
“It’s not part of any show,” Mean shouted down. “Just stay put and don’t go near that tower. It’s dangerous.”
She sighed, gave the group one more look over, and doubled back toward the bus.
Mackaba peered around the large chunk of the statue’s broken forehead. He eased Beebee back into cover with his arm. Tyle’s bus was churning through the smaller pieces of wreckage that littered the far tip of the Nameless. Beyond it the wall of blue gas blurred Pladomir’s exposed world.
“I told you I didn’t need your help with this!” Tyle shouted over the loud speaker. The tour bus rocked to the side, winding out onto flat plain again. It took a wide path around the wall of smoke.
“Alvy, do you know those people?” Beebee asked, watching them go. Mackaba shook his head.
“It isn’t from my world, that’s for sure,” he told her. “Look—there’s some huge guy in the back. Cheez, he must be as big as one of those bears. And what is that!? There’s a tiger riding around on it too!”
Beebee nodded. “That’s an Enpo, from Slabby’s world. If they’re loose then something really did happen to her!” She clung to Mackaba’s shoulder. “Alvy, can you use your magic? Can you make that water to carry us there?”
Mackaba looked back at her as Tyle’s bus continued around the shrouded factory. “I forgot; you can see all of that,” he admitted. “I used it to glide on before, but I don’t think it will really be that much faster.”
“I can see what you did when you got away from Clance’s,” Beebee said. “You made a long path of water up to the window.”
“I know we can walk faster than we can swim,” Mackaba said.
“No,” Beebee began. “You did something different. You made a current that helped you along. You may not have even realized it yourself.” She pointed past the shattered face of the statue to the curved hull of the ship. “Try it. Make the water again.”
“Like a river?” Mackaba mused. “Okay, I’ll see what I can do.”
He stretched up his arm and a bubble expanded out from the hand. Odd water gushed out from his fingers to fill the space as it flexed outward to encase his body as well as Beebee’s.
“Oh! This feels strange,” Beebee said. She let out a shiver, holding her breath as the liquid washed over her. She gasped after a moment. “Sorry, I knew we could breathe in it; it was just a reflex.”
“It’s fine,” Mackaba told her. He chuckled. “Had a similar experience myself.” The odd water extended upward in an arc, above the jagged ivory and the cylindrical hull. “I teleported right into a room full of this stuff. I had no idea what it was.”
He sprang up into the column, letting his body drift.
“I used to swim and catch fish all the time back home,” he said.
Beebee swirled her arms; her legs got away from her. “Well I never learned how to swim!” she admitted. “So you’d better find some way to get me over!”
Her hat was lifted from her head and she grabbed at it. Her long hair bobbed about her round cheeks. Mackaba twisted around in the water. He smiled, swishing his legs to propel himself higher.
“C’mon, Beebee!” he called down to her. “You live near a lake—how can you not know how to swim?”
Beebee flailed her thick legs and ended up on her side. “Alvy, I didn’t even see a lake for years! I was too scared! Alvy—oh no! We need to get out of here! Someone’s coming down!”
“What?” Mackaba looked to the cliffs, then to a figure being lowered from the chain that crossed above Beebee’s castle. She had her bare feet set into oval links that coiled into a tether, stretching down toward the site of the crash. The veil over her face fluttered as she reached the curved hull of the Nameless.
“It’s that scallop girl,” Mackaba said. “Is she one of your sisters?”
“Calm!” Beebee called up. She thrashed at the water until she was upright again. “You better not have helped Shirka do this!”
Calm dipped her head, humming to herself. “I did.”
“Calm,” Beebee said. “What Shirka’s doing isn’t right. We’re going to go tell her to stop, okay?”
Calm hopped off the tether and her feet tapped on the metal of the exposed ship. She looked over at Mackaba. She began to tear up.
“Oh no,” Beebee uttered. “Calm? Calm, you shouldn’t cry. Why are you crying?”
“It was you,” Calm told Mackaba. “You made me smack!”
“Hey I’m sorry, alright?” Mackaba said. Calm shook her head and her balled-up hair wobbled. She blinked her eyes.
“You need to be careful with her,” Beebee said. “Zonzabee did something to her–”
Calm’s eyelids snapped open. “The small lady. The small lady!” She stamped her foot and the metal rang out. “The small lady!”
“Uh, what?” Mackaba uttered. Calm wobbled in place for a moment. She broke out of her trance, sprinting down the side of the ship toward Beebee. Mackaba made a hurried motion with his hand, cupping the water nearby and dragging it to him. Beebee found herself caught in a sudden current; she rushed up through the column of liquid, passing Calm, colliding with Mackaba, and sending them both out the top. Mackaba flailed his arms, sputtering as they left the boundary of the odd water grid. He rushed to expand the water below them, making a slope down the other side of the ship. The splash cushioned their fall. Mackaba righted himself to see Calm tearing over the hull of the ship with a long chain swirling in her hand.
First Draft Notes:
Tyle drives Mean and all her homies around –
Well, this is another part that isn’t going as planned. In my head the trip back to the Jesice “portal” was going to be a bleak ride. All the siblings’ buildings would be broken or leaking gas with alarms going off. I had the music planned on my playlist and Elder Sain would be looking at the wreckage all like “Oh no our beautiful home what have you done Shirka boo hoo hoo.”
HOWEVER–as my previous blog entry stated–I changed everything to more of a “Convergence” feel. Now there’s all this crap in the way and all these people to talk to. As a result most of this chapter was made up on the fly.
Mackaba and Beebee head toward Shirka’s tower –
Now here’s one part I planned: Mean’s group ISN’T supposed to meet up with Mackaba and Beebee. In my original “empty” vision of the story that would have been much tougher to pull off. I guess Mackaba could have hung out on Beebee’s world a bit longer but geez I’d like to get to the finale sometime.
I think the part where Mackaba hides from Tyle’s bus is funny. He hasn’t seen the Enpo or even Vornis before so of course he’d want to stay away from such scary monsters.
Jelk gets angry! His motivations are finally revealed! –
I was talking about cutting Jelk but I kind of like the little conversation he has here. Vornis can relate to the siblings, but Jelk just sees them as another villain like Pinada or Sing. Shoot, I should have had him bring up Pinada during the argument. Gee, Brad, think you might want to make use of your own characters?
Mackaba tries to learn “Hydro Pump!” But he must delete another move first! –
Ha,ha,ha, Pokémon jokes never get old.