MATURE: Answer The Call

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  1. #1
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    Default Answer The Call

    I'm putting this as mature, just to be safe. The violence is probably going to be pretty graphic, and I don't know how bad the language is going to get.




    Prologue
    Chapter 1: Our Disaster
    Chapter 2: The Choice
    Chapter 3: Thinking Like A Kior
    Chapter 4: Shattered Senses
    Chapter 5: Shock And Generation

    Chapter 6: Focus




    Prologue



    “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

    Mechanical screeching blares from the tiny speakers. There’s one on the railing next to me, about the size of my thumbnail. I’m tempted to brush it off, but I have to continue. Getting rid of it would only waste time. On the lengthy bridge ahead, hundreds of swords swing from the ceiling, still dripping with the blood of trespassers. The Rings do their job well, I’ll give them that. They’ve protected their secret better than anything I’ve ever seen. First the acid, then the grid, then the puzzle, and now this. If I run straight through, I’ll be ripped to shreds. If I try to sneak past, I’ll almost definitely lose my balance on the smooth steel and plummet onto the spikes below. There’s exactly one option, I think, raising my gaze to the low roof. The blades are positioned on a rotating track, absolutely perfect for my plan.
    I lift my axe above my head and thrust it as hard as I can into the dull silver groove. The oversized knives shudder to a stop. Keeping a firm hold on the weapon’s handle, I dash along the bridge, knocking some of the swords into the abyss. I keep my eyes fixed ahead the whole time. Looking down would mean losing my balance, dislodging the axe, and an exceedingly painful death.

    I’m almost to the end of the lethal gauntlet when I realize my mistake.

    There’s not a thing I can do about the blood already on the bridge. I abruptly stop running, but the force of this almost throws the axe out and pushes me off, meaning my sole choice is to lean forward. This, of course, only makes me skid faster. I arrive at the end of the bridge, somehow still moving from the slippery surface. Too late, I am able to see the bright gleam of the guillotine. The blade drops down too fast to avoid.

    No last words. Just silver.



    ~~~




    “Ladies and gentlemen,” he says, just loud enough to fill the silent room. “The Scorpion is dead.”
    Last edited by Pyradox; 17th August 2012 at 06:24 PM.
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Answer The Call




    “We better not get caught for this.” warns IS51, her ears swiveling at the top of her head. “Eyce’ll send us straight to hell.”
    “I’m not afraid of Eyce. We could beat him up.” I retort. I slide out of the room’s window and onto a thick branch. IS51’s already there.
    “Yeah, and if he kicks us out? I hate to tell you this, but violence ain’t going to help us then.”
    I have nothing to say to that.
    “Look,” I whisper. “Just keep your voice down and pray to whatever god you worship no one sees us.”
    IS51 shrugs and drops from the tree. I hesitate, waiting for the near inevitable light to click on inside. Sometimes it feels like nobody ever sleeps at the Institute. We’ve never snuck out like this before for that very reason. I notice my window is still slightly open from our escape. I close it and swing under the branch, hitting the ground with a thud. IS51 shakes her head.
    “I thought you said be quiet.” she grins.
    “I said keep your voice down. Shut up and let’s go.”
    I have to admit it, at times like this I’m a little jealous of her. IS51 is a Breed, a result of the horrific experiments that used to occur in the Shadow City. A political group called the Erits were convinced that humans could never be perfect until they were one with the animal kingdom, which turned out to mean ‘We’re going to fuck up your inner system’. About seven years ago, a serum they were testing made some of the Breeds more aggressive, and they promptly killed their handlers and broke out of the laboratory. The Erits are essentially defunct now, as the ones that didn’t die resorted to less twisted activities. IS51 got off fairly easy though, since the only things hinting to her cat heritage are the furry ears poking out of her dark blonde hair and shockingly green slit-pupil eyes. And probably cat senses. She used to yell at me for walking too loud when we were younger. IS51 wasn’t one of those who got the serum, but she took the opportunity to escape when she could. After almost a month of wandering Voluntas alone, she found the city of Inscipia and the Institute took her in with all the other orphans. We’ve been friends ever since.

    IS51 breaks the silence. “This the place?”
    I squint uselessly at the map, then give up and pass it to her.
    She answers her own question. “Yeah.”
    The vault is filthy blue and encrusted in grime. Doesn’t look like an auspicious meeting place, but then again we don’t know who we’re meeting. I decide to break my own rule and speak; we seem far enough away from any people to have to keep quiet.
    “So... it really just says ‘TD’?” I mutter, staring down at the note. IS51 hands it back to me. I hold the piece of paper up, attempting to use the moonlight.


    Meet us at the vault outside town tonight. We want you two to know you have other choices in your lives. If you choose to come with us, you won’t regret it for a second. When you get there, kick the vault twice. Either both of you come, or neither.
    ~TD



    The handwriting’s really small, with flicks on the edges of each letter. I’m certain I’ve never seen it before.
    “Says to kick the vault, right? How good are your shoes?” I ask.
    “Oh, no you don’t. You’re the one kicking this thing, or I’m going back. Both or neither.”
    I see her point. The vault looks incredibly hard. Still... I’ve got to do this. I don’t know what IS51 thinks about it, but to me it sounds like we can get out of the Institute early. It sounds like they might be able to help us make something of our lives. It’s an amazing risk, but it’s one I want to take. I slam my foot against the door. It hurts like hell, and I almost shout. I bite down on my tongue and try again. Somehow it stings more this time. Sinking back against the wall of the vault, I gasp “Think they heard?”
    IS51 nods vigorously. “I’m pretty sure they heard in Aquilo.” I roll my eyes. Aquilo’s so far north they’re threatening secession from the rest of the country.
    Suddenly her ears jolt straight up, like someone pinched her. “Listen.”
    I sigh, exasperated. “I can’t hear a damn thing. Now do you think TD’s coming or not?”
    Listen. Again.” she growls, the cat overpowering her normally high-pitched voice. But it’s not the sound that gives it away. It’s the smell.
    “Fire.” We say it both at the same time. Cautiously, we peer around the side of the vault.

    It’s worse than we thought.
    Inscipia’s lit up brighter than day with flame. The blaze looks like it started on the opposite end of town, explaining why we didn’t notice it sooner. I can see the withering skeleton of the Institute in the distance, slowly collapsing out of the sheer heat.
    “We’ve got to get out of here! The fire’s getting closer!” I say.
    “Where are we meant to go?” cries IS51. “There’s nowhere!”
    My eyes widen at the sight of the people willing to brave the inferno. My hope is crushed almost immediately. They are the ones setting the fires. Finally, they jump on their horses and speed away.
    “Did you see them? What they were wearing?” IS51 says. I’m straining to hear her over the sounds of Inscipia’s destruction. I shake my head. Cat eyes.
    She draws the symbol frantically in the air, and I almost faint. A circle inside another circle, with an X in the middle. The mark of the Rings.
    The fire’s catching up with us. The flames are pressing against the opposite corner of the vault before I know it. Amazingly, it doesn’t even seem singed.
    “The vault must be fireproof,” I can’t even hear my own words, but IS51 can. “We should be safe in there.”
    I grab the first decent-sized rock I see and bring it down hard against the rusty lock. It smashes on the first try, so we duck inside and use the stone to jam the door.
    We sit there shaking for hours, too scared to do anything but cry.
    Last edited by Pyradox; 4th July 2012 at 04:12 PM.
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Answer The Call

    This is actually updating pretty fast. Gooooooood.

    @Kyumorph




    “You have any idea how to get to Siarax City from here?” IS51 asks. We emerged from the vault just after sunrise.
    “We got directions, don’t we?” I lift the map, tracing a path with my finger. “North, then northeast. If we get going now, we’ll be there by dark.”
    We set off through the sparse fields to the nearest settlement, stopping only for ‘lunch’ - a skinned and burned rabbit, courtesy of IS51.

    Both suns are already low in the sky by the time we reach Siarax. They look like deep red orbs hanging above the city, one slightly lower than the other. Despite the time, the metropolis is full of activity. A length of fabric advertises the event as Kior Day, recruits 100% welcome!

    And suddenly I’m certain what I want to do.

    “Kiors, IS51.” I begin, choosing my words carefully. But before I can continue, a load of food scraps is emptied onto my friend. “Filthy Breed!” yells a woman from a top floor window. I’ve heard that Breeds are hated in some parts of Voluntas, but I’d had no idea Siarax was one of them. Back in Inscipia, nobody really cared.
    IS51 casually flicks a fruit rind off her shoulder. “What an asshole.”
    I nod slowly in agreement.
    “You were saying?” she asks. It appears she’s somehow completely unfazed by the experience, and I find myself wondering what exactly had happened before she found the Institute.
    “It’s just... Kiors. They’re accepting recruits here. Now. We could join them, fight against the Rings. Get revenge. It’ll be hard, but we can do it.” I pause, considering the last issue. “Except we have to find you a hat.”
    The last building on the street seems to be a tailor’s. Perfect. We dive into the massive wooden storage crates outside, digging through the piles of clothes. Finally, I discover a small black hat with a low back, excellent to disguise both her cat ears and her distinct lack of human ones. IS51 fits it in place on her head.
    “So you think we ought to join the Kiors, huh?”
    “Most definitely.” I smile slightly.
    “You’re doing that crazy smirk again. I’d be scared of what you’re pulling me into, but I seriously love this hat.”
    At this I completely lose it, and the smirk breaks out into a full grin. It feels a little wrong, laughing so hard when almost everyone I know is dead... yet it feels a little relieving too. Like it’s taking some of the weight off. And, sure enough, when we finally crawl out of the storage units, it seems we’re standing straighter. Closer to the suns.
    It’s not exactly difficult to find where we’re meant to sign up; the desk is on an enormous dais, with a large amount of people who either want to join or are trying to persuade others to. As we get closer, I decide it’s definitely the latter.
    “You two!” cries a voice from the dais. It belongs to a wide-eyed man labelled Coryn, who appears to be in charge of the process. He’s pointing at us, and looks, well, pretty offended. The new recruits are standing at the foot of the stage. I can count exactly five. “Want to join the Kiors? Fight for the King?”
    I shrug. “Yeah. We do.”
    “Excellent, excellent. Names?”
    At this point my eyes become almost as wide as Coryn’s, though I’m determined not to have him notice. IS51 will be recognized as a Breed almost at once. No normal person has a name like that.
    “IS51.” she says anyway. Coryn turns around to get a sheet of paper from behind the desk, so I mutter “Idiot.”
    He looks back at us, already a little suspicious. “What was that again?”
    “Iszi.” she tries. I think he believes her. He writes it down and repeats the question to me.
    “Your name?”
    I tell him. Thank Irysin it’s not like IS51’s.

    You’re making a terrible mistake, hisses a voice in my head.
    “Shut up.” I mumble, and we go to stand with the other recruits.







    Comments would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by Pyradox; 30th March 2012 at 07:02 PM.
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Answer The Call

    Warning: long chapter. Compared to the other ones, that is. @Kyumorph



    “All right, sockheads,” says an unfamiliar male voice. “We’re here!”
    I unwind my blindfold and toss it to the floor. After the suns went down, they covered our eyes and we left. I have no idea how we traveled, as we’re somehow already in the Kiors’ HQ. The voice belongs to a wiry commander, staring at our line.
    “First thing I want you to do is to pick a weapon.” continues the commander. “Seven of you, seven weapons. Should be pretty damn easy, but if you get fighting it’s a bonus.” He pulls the black cloth off the table in front of us, exposing a sword, an axe, a bow, a spear, a war hammer, a sickle, and a mace. Only problem? They’re inside a gleaming glass case.
    “How’re we meant to get ‘em?” shouts a boy dressed in white from the opposite end of the row.
    “Any way you want.” says the commander with a malicious smile.

    Go for the axe, somebody whispers. I look around, but no one is talking to me. But stay back. Wait and see what others are doing to break in.

    I take a step away from the weapons. The guy in white has a twin, as it turns out. They’re arguing with each other about the best way to get in. As I watch, the twin in black slams his elbow into the glass. He staggers away, shouting and cursing. The case isn’t cracked at all. The one in white is sniggering. There’s a skinny guy too, with sandy blonde hair. He seems to think his boot is a hell of a lot harder than it actually is, because he’s holding it like a sword. I turn to see what IS51 has decided to do. Her cat reflexes means she can kick a lot faster than everyone else in this room, and it appears that’s what she’s trying. The only other girl (besides IS51 and myself) is on top of the case, directly above the sickle. She’s using her full body weight against the glass, but it still doesn’t seem to be working. IS51 builds up some speed and kicks off against the case. She launches straight up like she weighs nothing, her head fingerspans away from the roof. And then I notice.

    Why is there a water canister on the ceiling?

    It’s probably a stupid idea, but I have a policy on those. Stupid ideas must be tried anyway. I have no idea if I can get enough momentum as IS51. I just have to give it a shot. I back up to the wall, keeping my eyes squarely focused on the case. To go right up, I’ll have to kick off exactly from the corner. My feet start running almost of their own accord, and it nearly feels like someone else is jumping for me. I know it’s less than a second that I’m in the air, but it takes hours to soar up to the ceiling and seize the canister with both hands. However, it’s only when I’m up there that I ask myself how to get down. I begin to pull on the canister, twisting it around in its metal socket. And, sure enough, it gives. It’s not a light landing; I end up taking most of the shock in my knees. “Shit,” I growl, struggling to my feet. I press the button on the side of the canister and it pops open. Sliding over to the axe at the end of the row, I squirt a few drops of water onto the case.

    Nothing.

    Don’t give up, instructs the voice.
    “I won’t.” I breathe, and smash my fist through the glass.

    All movement stops in the room. The twins cease their quarreling, the girl slides off the case, IS51’s mouth drops open, an albino boy’s eyes almost bug out of his head, the skinny guy lets go of his boot, and most importantly, the commander breaks out in a huge grin.
    “Nice job, kid.” he says.
    “Don’t call me kid.” I answer, retrieving my new axe from the hole.
    “Fine.” He shrugs and turns to the other recruits. “My name is Larcyan, and it’s my job to teach you fuckpuppets how to think and act like Kiors. If you hadn’t figured it out yet, that was your first test. Want to know who passed? This one-” here he points at me “-did.”
    “Are we allowed our weapons now?” asks the twin in black. He’s standing next to me, and for the first time I get a decent look at him. Slightly older than me, with light brown hair and bright gray eyes. The only difference between him and his brother are their clothes, their hair, and their eyes. His twin’s eyes are noticeably darker, and he has much shorter hair.
    “You are. The champion and I will be waiting in the next room.” And with that, he leads me out.

    The next room is mostly polished steel. The four tables, the three doors, the speaker in the top right corner.
    “This’ll be the meeting room. Where you have meals, get mission briefs, discuss strategies... crap like that. Dorms are over there; two for the boys, one for the girls.” says Larcyan, gesturing around the area.
    The twin in black hurries up to us, breathing hard and clutching the war hammer. I’m impressed - I didn’t think anyone would make it out that fast.
    “Second place. Good work, kid. They all fighting in there?” Larcyan notes.
    “My name’s Jaicen. Not pleased to meet you in any way. And yeah, they’re fighting a little. Nobody wants the mace.”
    Larcyan smiles a little. “No one ever does.” He re-explains the concept of the meeting room to Jaicen.
    “About time, Whinge!” sneers Jaicen as his brother enters the room.
    “Don’t listen to him, Larcyan, I’m the smart one. And the athletic one. And the interesting one.”
    “And the pretentious one, by the looks of things.” I smirk. Jaicen winks at me. Well played.
    “Name’s Wing. Don’t you dare forget it.” says Jaicen’s twin.
    “I think I already have.” jokes Jaicen, and we both laugh. Wing pulls out his sword. The way he’s waving it is a definite safety hazard.
    IS51 creeps along the wall and into the room. I’ll admit it, I was worried about her. She ended up with the spear, though, so I guess she’s a lot tougher than I previously thought.
    “We’ve got, what, four of you out? Screw it, explanations can wait until the rest of ‘em get here.” Larcyan sighs.
    IS51 and I back away from the others, almost subconsciously.
    “How did you do it?” she hisses.
    “Look, I don’t know. I saw the canister, thought ‘Why’s that on the ceiling’, grabbed it, end of story. What I want to know is how you did it.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “I would’ve pegged you to go for the bow.”
    “Kareth, what’s-his-name, the albino, he almost beat me up when I tried. I reached for the spear and snuck out.” I have more questions, but I leave it there. The last girl, the skinny guy, and Kareth drag themselves in, each covered in bruises. Kareth and the girl got the bow and sickle like they wanted, leaving Skinny with the mace. Ouch.
    Larcyan lets off a string of swears, then re-repeats the meeting room elucidation.
    “When you get into your dorms, you’ll have everything you need waiting for you. Dinner’s probably the most important one right now. There’s also armor, clothes, et cetera. Your next test will be pretty soon, and after that will be initiation. You pass initiation, you get full training. You don’t... well, you don’t want to know what happens if you don’t pass.”
    I can feel us all shivering at that last sentence.
    “Now get out of my sight, and don’t come back until I give you fair permission.” Larcyan finishes.
    IS51, the other girl, and I enter the dorm. Actually, Larcyan was right. This place is a little more hospitable than I would have believed. Interestingly enough, our names are already scratched into the headboards. It turns out the other girl’s name is Quera. We don’t waste any time talking; after what we’ve done, all we want to do is sleep. We eat in silence, and IS51 and Quera go to sleep the same way. Soon, all that remains is me and the voice.

    It’s not smart to be here, you know.
    “What makes you say that?” I murmur, so quiet I can hardly hear myself.
    You’ll see.
    “Tell me.”
    I can’t spoil your own life for you.
    “Why not?”
    Because it’s not ethical.
    “Then what can you say?”
    You’ll be in much worse situations than this soon.
    “That’s reassuring.”
    I know.






    Could somebody please read and comment? Please?
    Last edited by Pyradox; 30th March 2012 at 07:22 PM.
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Answer The Call (Chapter 3 Now Up)

    @Devized
    First off, let me just say, this was a pleasure to read. Though not many literary elements are used, your extensive vocabulary and strong tone make up for that, in my opinion. I like how the narrator has a voice in their head, and it's almost used as soliloquy. The fantasy/sci-fi elements - the gauntlet, hybrid humans, as-yet unexplained elements to the story (such as the Rings), these all appeal to me strongly, as I love fantasy/sci-fi literature.

    One error I found is "but if you get fighting it’s a bonus." I am unsure if it's a grammatical error or if it's Larcyan's style of speech.
    Also, Toward the end of the third chapter, when the narrator is describing the others, it was a bit confusing for me. It seemed to be a flood of the characters' actual names and IS51's nicknames for them mixed...it's a bit confusing, when mixed with the dialogue.
    As a note, though, IS51's name is never really explained. It can be implied that that was her name back at the lab in Shadow City, but there's no definite answer there. Again, unsure if you meant it to be implied or if you'd prefer to outright state it.

    All of that aside, I hope this review of mine was what you were looking for; it's nearly 2am and honestly I see very little to be corrected in your story.
    Keep up the writing, I will keep reading!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Answer The Call (Chapter 3 Now Up)

    Quote Originally Posted by Feralize View Post
    @Devized
    First off, let me just say, this was a pleasure to read. Though not many literary elements are used, your extensive vocabulary and strong tone make up for that, in my opinion. I like how the narrator has a voice in their head, and it's almost used as soliloquy. The fantasy/sci-fi elements - the gauntlet, hybrid humans, as-yet unexplained elements to the story (such as the Rings), these all appeal to me strongly, as I love fantasy/sci-fi literature.

    One error I found is "but if you get fighting it’s a bonus." I am unsure if it's a grammatical error or if it's Larcyan's style of speech.
    Also, Toward the end of the third chapter, when the narrator is describing the others, it was a bit confusing for me. It seemed to be a flood of the characters' actual names and IS51's nicknames for them mixed...it's a bit confusing, when mixed with the dialogue.
    As a note, though, IS51's name is never really explained. It can be implied that that was her name back at the lab in Shadow City, but there's no definite answer there. Again, unsure if you meant it to be implied or if you'd prefer to outright state it.

    All of that aside, I hope this review of mine was what you were looking for; it's nearly 2am and honestly I see very little to be corrected in your story.
    Keep up the writing, I will keep reading!
    Thank you! Great to see you like it.
    I'm trying to keep the narrator's name and much of IS51's past a secret as long as I can, though I don't know how long that'll go for.
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Answer The Call (Chapter 3 Now Up)

    I swear these are getting longer. @Kyumorph @Feralize



    Larcyan bursts into the dorm, holding a scythe. IS51’s sitting up, her green eyes wider than any human’s, Quera’s already putting her feet on the floor, and I’m reaching for my axe. Through the solitary window, I can see the first sun rising.
    “Find your armor, grab your weapons, and get your asses in the meeting room! You’ve got some very important things today, and you won’t be late for any under my watch!” he shouts. I’m worried - is this test two? I leap out of bed and follow instructions, and I’m in the room in three minutes flat. Jaicen, Wing, and Kareth are the only others there. I sit myself on a shiny bench by the speaker. Jaicen sits down next to me, offering a half-hearted smile.
    “Problem?” I ask.
    “My halfwit of a brother spent most of the night cutting things up. I just want to sleep.”
    Quera and IS51 emerge from the dorm. IS51 goes to sit with me and Jaicen, Quera perches on a table to the left, next to Kareth.
    Larcyan comes out of a fifth door that I’d never noticed before; it’s painted to blend in with the steel. He stands at the front of the room, tapping his foot impatiently until Skinny blearily exits the dorm and stands near Wing.
    “Okay, dicelickers,” he starts, “Test two’s going to start now. When I call your name, follow me and we can begin. But I’m just going to make this clear for you; there is absolutely no telling what happens in there before everyone has done the test. None. If you do, I’ll make you taste this.” He jabs his scythe against the wall and we all jump. Larcyan pulls out a scroll of paper and lifts it up. “First... Jaicen. Let’s go, kid.” Jaicen stands up, taking his hammer with him.
    “You won’t need your weapon yet.”

    Jaicen and Larcyan both exit through the fifth door, slamming it shut behind them.

    After what feels like an hour, they return. Jaicen’s white as a ghost. Larcyan’s smiling a little as he retrieves the scroll and calls “Ieyax.” Skinny drops his mace on the table and leaves with the commander. I hardly notice the time passing when Ieyax is in there. When he gets out, he looks like he’s been chased a thousand miles by a demon.
    The next one to go in is IS51, or as the Kiors have to call her, Iszi. I’m scared, honestly. Not just for myself, but for her. Every second drags into forever, and when she finally comes back she’s practically leaning against the wall. Quera, Wing, Kareth... each returns terrified and exhausted.

    Larcyan says my name.

    I hand my axe to Jaicen and leave.
    The world beyond the door is less polished than the meeting room. The walls are of a roughly cut green stone. It seems like just a horribly long corridor; if there are any entries or exits, they’re hidden well. Eventually, we reach the only visible door. Larcyan pushes on it, and it opens with a soft click.
    This circular room is fairly empty, with nothing but a mirror on the wall and a high-backed metal chair in the middle.
    “Sit,” Larcyan says, gesturing to the chair. “We’re not going to tie you down or anything, but I’d suggest you stay there.”
    And with that, he leaves the room.
    I place myself in the chair. Almost instantly, the sound of glass shattering hits my ears. The mirror seems fine out of the corner of my eye, though I can't see it properly without getting up.
    Glass again, shortly followed by a scream. I lean back in the chair, trying to take in more of my surroundings.
    Glass, scream, rapidly approaching footsteps. I keep my eyes on the door, though no one comes in.
    Glass breaks, then the scream, then the running, then - most haunting of all - I can hear someone begging for mercy. A girl, probably not much younger than me. “Please,” she says in a thick accent. “Don’t kill me! Please!” Suddenly I recognize her speech. It’s the accent of Tigriça City, where the main headquarters of the Rings are located. This girl may be in training for their ranks, or just a civilian; it’s impossible to tell.
    The glass smashes a fifth time, so close to my ear I almost shout. It’s incredibly loud, like they’re trying to deafen me with the screams of the Ring sympathizer. The running... I’m starting to piece together the story.

    And I know who I should be rooting for.

    Halfway through the word “Please,” the sounds cuts off. I realize I’m smiling. They can see me, and they can see how I feel. It’s exactly what they want.
    There’s a slight rustling noise. Then the air of the room seems... different. Hotter. The heat quickly ratchets up, like someone is turning a dial behind the mirror. I begin to sweat, leaving wet palmprints on the chair. I’m seconds away from giving up and walking out.

    Immediately, the temperature plummets.

    The sweat freezes over, providing relief for about twenty seconds. Until the frostbite. My face can’t actually be turning blue, but it’s near impossible to check in the mirror because of the chair’s angle. Just when I think I’m ready to pass out, the room heats up again. Since this is a test, I must be doing well just to still be here. Or badly, if the test is when to know to ask for help. It can’t be, can it? Larcyan told me to stay.

    It’s all in your head, the voice reassures.
    “I doubt that.” I whisper, my mouth barely moving so as not to tip the commanders off.
    Well, how do you know?
    “How do you know?”
    Touché.
    “What should I do?”
    Nothing.
    “What?” I say out loud. Oops. I cover my mouth with my hand, but there’s no taking it back.
    You should do absolutely nothing.
    “Why?” I hiss.
    Check the heat now.
    I look at the salty water on my skin. I blink a few times. The room is back to normal temperature.
    “What just happened?”
    I needed to distract you. I figured that was one of the easiest ways.
    I thank the voice silently.

    “Stay.” says Larcyan. I’m sure he’s behind the mirror now, and his voice is coming from the speaker slightly above it.
    I flinch as a sharp needle is jabbed into the base of my spine. I’ve handled worse, but it stings all the same. Another one, in my knee this time. They start coming more rapidly. Spine, knee, ankle, forehead, thigh, neck. Like minuscule crossbow bolts dipped in poison. They’re getting closer together, hundreds, no, thousands per second. And stinging more. Nothing can distract me from this, so I don’t bother. I sit there, letting it sink in, biting my tongue so hard I taste blood. The stabs go on for days, months, years... it’s impossible to tell and I never want to know. Finally, they start to slow down. It takes even longer to get them to stop, but once they do I nearly cry from relief. It feels like I’ve bitten off a small part of my tongue.

    “You’re free to go.” rasps the speaker. This is not Larcyan. Somebody considerably older, and most likely female.
    My feet have turned to lead. Getting up is almost as hard as the test itself. I help myself to stand by leaning on the chair, each step hell as I shuffle out of the room.

    Once I’m about two steps away from the door, the dead body of a Ring drops down from the ceiling. I fall to my knees with shock. He’s impaled straight through the heart on a immense harpoon. It’s a extremely fresh kill. I can tell by the blood dripping from both the wound and the corner of his mouth, and by the fact that his eyes haven’t quite misted over from the finality of death. He probably has a head injury too, as his snow white hair is encrusted with dirt and blood. It’s eerie, seeing a person so close to life. I know he’s dead, but I can’t shake the feeling that he might just wake up.
    It must be because I’m used to seeing him alive.
    I’m positive he was one of the Rings that burned down Inscipia. Even through the flames and smoke, there’d be no doubt he was there. If I had my axe, I’d slice him into tiny pieces and set him on fire. See how he likes it. But I don’t have my weapon, so I try waiting for the body to be removed. After a while, I decide they’re not going to get rid of it for me. I force myself to undo the knot tying the harpoon to the roof, working at it until the harpoon falls and the string is pulled back up. Smashing my foot against the Ring’s skull, I yank open the door and walk out.

    Larcyan joins me on the trek back to the meeting room.
    “You did pretty well. There was one kid who passed out.” he says.
    “Who?” It might be wrong of me to ask, but I want to know.
    “I can’t tell you that myself. Confidentiality and shit.”
    “Are we allowed to talk to each other about it now?”
    “You are, though I wouldn’t encourage it.”
    I’ve got one more question that I’m not sure I want to say.
    “Do...” I begin slowly, biting my lip.
    “Yeah, kid?”
    “Do they change the dead body for every recruit?”
    “If they can.” he answers, shrugging the query off like it was nothing.

    If the Kiors have worked out I’m Inscipian, is it possible they did that on purpose? The entire point of the corpse was to shock us, so... I can’t rule it out.
    Once we get back to the meeting room, I slump back onto the bench with IS51 and Jaicen.
    “Holy Irysin.” I say quietly. Jaicen passes my axe back.
    Larcyan leaves, and the seven of us sit in silence. We’re all too horrified to say anything. And, for a while, it feels like I’m not going to speak ever again.
    The commander strides back in with another scroll.
    “Look, eyesmellers--”
    A sixth door swings open so hard it looks like it’s going to fall off its hinges. A female commander hurries through, brandishing a sickle identical to Quera’s.
    “Larcyan!” she screams. “Get the neos out of here!”
    “What’s happening, Scarna?” Larcyan asks, grabbing his scythe.
    “Invasion.” Scarna gasps.
    Larcyan freezes. “Wh-What?” he stutters.
    “The Vitarics. They’re already here.”
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Answer The Call

    Sorry this took so long. .///. @Feralize; @Kyumorph;





    “The what?” we all say.
    “The Vitarics,” Larcyan stammers. “Get your weapons and follow me.”
    We all dash through the sixth door. We’re still not clear on who they are or what this means, but if the commanders are scared, we know we’ve got to run like hell. The narrow hallway brings us to a stunningly lit command room.
    “Listen up,” orders Larcyan, noticing we’ve already formed groups. He points at Jaicen, IS51, and I. “Scar, take these three and head for the power generator. Set off the alarms and shut it down. Meet back here as quickly as you can.”
    Scarna pulls us back through the door, into the hallway, through a different door, up what must be a dozen flights of stairs, and out a trapdoor on the ceiling. We emerge on the cement roof of the compound. For the first time, we’re allowed to see roughly where we are. Siarax is just a hazy gray blob on the horizon, and all that lies between us and the city is a vast, sprawling desert.
    “Where’s the generator?” asks Jaicen.
    Scarna points to the other side of the complex. “Stay down, and whatever you do, don’t let go of your weapon.”
    We creep silently across. It feels like it takes years, knowing Larcyan and the other four are probably battling Vitarics below our feet. But we eventually get there. Scarna swings down over the edge of the roof onto a lower segment. There’s another person there, wearing a hood and dressed entirely in black. I’m almost certain IS51 can see them, but probably not Jaicen.

    And definitely not Scarna.

    The shadowy figure swings a staff into the side of the commander’s head, completely knocking her out. Before we can get down to help her, they kick her off the roof.

    SONS OF BITCHES! The voice snarls so loudly I’m almost knocked over. There’s no wind, thankfully.
    My head whips to the left as Jaicen throws his war hammer at the figure. It hits them squarely on the skull, sending them off the roof with Scarna. The hammer bounces away and lands on the cement.
    We climb carefully down to where the generator must be, dropping the last few feet onto the roof. Just below the edge is a tiny door, just big enough for us to crawl. Jaicen retrieves his weapon, and we start to wriggle through. I start wondering if this generator is protected, since there’s a loud and distinct clicking coming from inside. We squirm out onto the tiles and slam the door behind us.
    The room, and everything in it, is made of the same white stone decorating the floor. The clicking is coming from a sliding puzzle on the opposite wall. Fucking excellent. We place our weapons on the floor and go over for a closer look.
    “All right, is anyone half-decent at these?” Jaicen asks. IS51 and I shake our heads. They didn’t exactly teach us this kind of thing at the Institute.
    “Could we smash it?” I wonder.
    My guess is no. In my experience, smashing something like this is typically not a smart idea.
    “Right...” I say, stepping up to the puzzle. Above it, there’s the crown, symbol of the Kiors. There are four rows and four columns of white panels, each around the size of my hand. All except one has a letter on it. Jaicen pulls the blank one off without a struggle.
    “I think that’s what you’re supposed to do. Now you can move them.” He tries to force off the one marked with an R, but to no avail.
    I stare at the puzzle. Z, Q, M, U. R, T, Y, S. I, X, V, K. H, N, O, hole. And the inscription underneath: ZVAX★.
    “‘Zvax’ is Old Voluntan for ‘guilt’.” I muse. One of the things they did teach us at the Institute. But what does guilt have to do with anything? ‘King’ is ‘Onzt’ in Old Voluntan, which would fit, though has nothing to do with guilt or remorse. I shrug, and move the panels around so the top row says ‘ONZT’.

    Nothing.

    And the star? asks the voice. ‘Star’ would translate into ‘Dyrcha’. So, no. There has to be some other explanation.
    “What if it’s not Old Voluntan?” IS51’s voice shocks me a little.
    “Yeah. Maybe it’s some kind of code, and the star is the key.” Jaicen adds. “‘Zvax’ might mean ‘star’.”
    “Well, what’s the code, Sir Intelligent?” I step away, leaving Jaicen to do his magic.
    “S equals Z. T equals V. A stays the same. R equals X.”
    Something heavy, large, and metallic crashes against the outside. They’re trying to break in.
    “I don’t mean to alarm you or anything, but hurry up or we’re dead.” I hiss.
    “What word should I try?” he snarls back.
    “Kior,” I say without thinking.
    Slowly, agonizingly, he works the top row into ‘RKOX’.

    Another crash, this one so thunderous the puzzle shakes.

    And then nothing.

    The third crash sends us all sliding into the left wall, hands over our ears. It feels like the room’s about to flip upside down.
    “TRY ‘KING’!” shrieks IS51. Jaicen’s clinging onto the panels by his fingernails, barely managing to change ‘OX’ for ‘NM’ before the next quake hits. The wall beside us splits open, and for a second I’m sure the Vitarics will come rushing in with their swords. But when nobody appears, we snatch up our equipment and bolt down the newly exposed hallway. Of course, IS51 gets to the end first.
    “Here it is!” she calls. The generator’s a waist-high sparkling cube of glass and metal, with three gray buttons on top and a large switch on the side. Without hesitating, I smash my palm into all three buttons.
    The alarms roar to life, like some insane animal awoken from its sleep. I swing the handle of my axe down on the switch. The generator fades to black.

    We’ve done our job.

    The job we were meant to do with Scarna.

    Except...

    The sudden sharpness of Jaicen’s voice jerks me out of my stupor.
    “We have to get back to Larcyan. Now.
    We run back to the puzzle, quickly rescramble it, fling open the door, wriggle through, and jump back onto the higher segment of the roof. From there, it’s a wild guessing game as to exactly where we’re going. We hit dead ends several times. Finally, we skid back into the control room, breathing so hard I’m certain I’ll spit out a lung.

    No one is there.

    I carefully shut the door.

    And that’s the last thing I see.
    Last edited by Pyradox; 5th June 2012 at 07:11 PM.
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

  9. #9
    Serenity is key
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    Default Re: Answer The Call

    Answer The Call's getting revived. For now. I'm not sure about updating after this, though, but in the meantime, here's another chapter for my nonexistent readers.




    Chapter 6
    Focus


    “Hey.”
    My eyes are open, but all I can see is a trio of blobs.
    “Hey.” the person repeats. I know that voice. Whose.... whose voice?
    “Ughh... what?” I croak.
    “Get the fuck up!” cries somebody else. I know that voice too.
    “Don’t be an asshole.” says a third. Less familiar. “Here, eat this.” The blob on the far right presses a powdery cube into my hand. I blindly shove it into my mouth, and everything sharpens. I’m still in the control room, thank Irysin. The three leaning over me are IS51, Larcyan, and Scarna.
    “What’s happening?” I force out through locked teeth. “You...” I stammer, staring at Scarna.
    “... are still alive.” Scarna finishes. “Yes. I’ve never gotten to fake my own death before.”
    “People do this to all the recruits?” My jaw has begun to loosen up. I sound almost coherent now.
    “Yeah, to test how well you could carry out the mission without somebody yelling orders at you every step of the way. Doesn’t involve a giant stick most of the time, though. This guy," here she points to Larcyan, "had an electric shock straight to the brain. Which explains his temporary assholery.”
    I frowned. There was still someone missing. Something wrong. “Where’s Jaicen?”
    “Out cold.” supplies IS51, gesturing to the other side of the room. “When we got back here, they injected us with something to keep us quiet while they cleaned up. It works on everyone differently. I’ve been okay for almost an hour. The other squad completed the mission after we did, so we won’t hear anything from them for a while.”
    It works on everyone differently. IS51’s system probably burned through the sedative much faster than normal.
    “So what’s our next step?” I breathe.
    Larcyan shrugs. “Weapons training, if you can handle it!”
    A groan echoes from the opposite wall.
    “Jaicen!” IS51 cries, speeding over to his barely conscious form. I ease myself onto my feet, staggering towards him. Scarna passes me a cube and I place it in his hand.
    “Eat it,” I say carefully. “You’ll feel better.” He drops it in his mouth. As soon as he does, his eyes snap open like a machine. He blinks at the commander a few times.
    “Ghost...” he rasps. Scarna sighs, repeating what she’s just told me.
    “How long until weapons training?” Jaicen asks. I’m impressed. He’s handling all of this much better than I did. Especially working through the sedative.
    “Now. We’ll leave you with some of our older recruits.” Scarna hands us our equipment, seemingly out of nowhere. The three of us exchange looks, and we are led out of the control room.
I don’t even think about all the hallways and corridors this time. Either my brain’s still blurry from the sedative, or I’m finally starting to get used to the compound. Or maybe it’s both. Eventually, the passages open out into a monstrous stadium. Closest to us is the archery range, with the rest of the areas arranged in a circle. Scarna reaches for a microphone next to the door. As her voice explodes through the arena, I slap my hands over my ears. They’re not enough, though, and for a second I’m certain I’ll go deaf.
    “Three... shit, sorry.” She fiddles with the microphone for a few seconds, bringing the volume back to reasonable. “Three of the newest squadron are here for training. Report: Androse Fyll, Eora Thyron, and Ryve Atoir.”
    The trio races up to Scarna, dragging their weapons behind them. As she delivers the specifics of their mission, I begin to assess our new mentors. Androse is skinny but strong, with pale blue eyes and long black hair. He’s got the axe. In other words, I’m stuck with him. Eora’s slouching next to Androse, and the first thing I notice is her hair. Black, red, white, green, and purple. The green, I realize, perfectly matches her eyes. Her clothes are just as colorful, decorated in just about every shade of blue and orange imaginable. She’s holding a silvery arrow between two fingers. Lucky IS51. Ryve leans against the wall behind, completely oblivious to Scarna’s orders. His platinum blonde hair falls over much of his face, obscuring the majority of his features. But even through it, I can still see his pitch black eyes. While Androse’s eyes show the spark of fascination and Eora’s the flatness of boredom, Ryve’s are utterly empty, like somebody carved a pair of endless tunnels into his face.

    The eyes... says the voice, as if lost in thought.

    “Got it?” finishes Scarna. “I’ll go check on my excuse for an older brother and see if he has the rest of ‘em.” I hadn’t actually made the connection before, but thinking about it there’s no way she and Larcyan couldn’t have been siblings. The commander hurries out.
    Jaicen takes the liberty of introducing us, pointing at IS51 and I and saying our names. “And I’m Jaicen. Superior to Wing, if anybody asks.”
    “We won’t.” Eora intones. It takes me a few seconds to work out what she’s said, thanks to her thick Northern accent. IS51 flattens her hat nervously. The Shadow City is just below the north border, meaning the Erits would’ve sounded the same way.
    “So... should we get to work?” says Androse jovially.
    I shrug. “No time like the present.”
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Answer The Call

    I'm existing :p Just catching up now. Good, it sounds like a big battle is going to happen :) (I like battles, lol). Especially ones with weapons. I wonder why Ryves' eyes are so empty though? I am curious to know why.

    I want to know what those cubes taste like too xD
    Exit light
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