2011 NANO Part 20
It is a good thing too because John is effortlessly tearing through everyone. Stephen is a tough bastard. His body, fundamentally changed by the things he communicates with, he bones are not easily broken, he isn’t easily slowed down or frightened, unfortunately, these are all side effects of his studies though and while John flits about cracking him to and fro with his cane they can see it is a loosing battle. Meanwhile up in the tree Wilson, knife clenched in teeth is up in the branches, as he cuts open one sack nothing but a pile of bones fall out turning to dust as they hit the groiund. Frowning Wilson tries another bag with the same result. Going higher up into the tree he selects another one and lets out a yelp of surprise as everyone’s favorite not a virgin goes tumbling out towards the ground below. Wilson leaps to grab her but nearly looses his own grip on the tree, opts to take the better part of valor. Jerimia rushes to save her but is cut off then brutalized by John. Then with literally no time to spare Stephen dives for it and snatches her out of the air just before she hit the ground, head first. Is momentum sends them both into a tumble as they go bouncing down the hill. He does his best to shield her body from the falls but after awhile he gives up and lets them free fall. There is only so much he is willing to do for the not a virgin. When they finally come to a stop about half way down the hill he stands up dizzily trying to get a sense of what’s going on around him. Repeated head blows will rattle you, no matter how tough you are. Today Stephen learns this. Wilson and John are currently locked in combat. While most of them don’t have much in the way of practical, real life combat experience Wilson does. Give Wilson a knife and he can seriously ruin someone’s day. For such a big guy it is pretty astounding how fast he can move. No matter how fast John ducks, spins, whirrles, feints, then strikes Wilson is right there with him parrying his blows with nothing more than a dagger and dertermination. Jerimia gets up and attempts to tackle John while he thinks John is distracted. It ends almost predictably badly. Alexander is rushing about tending to the wounded, one of whom is now Alexander. At first he can’t find her but then after a moment he spots Rebecca climbing up the tree Being a bit of a heavy hitter himself Stephen gets up to go lend a hand and help smite the forces of evil. As he goes to scamper off he hears a hissing behind him. Turning he sees the not a virgin getting to her feet, she looks alright, her hair and skin are more than a little dirty but that is to be expected. She stared at Stephen with blank looking dull eyes. Then from somewhere deep in her chest there is a sickening clicking sound. It keeps up almost like there is some sort of great beetle inside of her. Head lolling to the side drunkenly she steps forwards not unlike a zombie. Then with blinding speed very much like a zombie she lunges towards him. He bounces off the side of the tree and lands heavily on the ground.
Startled by the sudden flying Stephn Deven comes to an abrupt halt, “Jesus are you okay? What happened t-” He is cut off as he sees the not a virgin leaping through the air at him. Dimly he is aware that he should do something like dodge or something similar. Instead he just stands there, staring, which suit’s the not a virgin just fine as she lets out an inhuman clicking sound before smashing into Deven, knocking him to the ground, slamming the wind out of him. It is then that they notice on her arms is a tattoo of the tree. Those weren’t there before and that’s no good. Deven doesn’t have much time for analysis though as there is fighting for his life to be done. Rebecca looks down at the scene just as she is about to cut another bag open. She thinks better of it as, despite Stephen’s best efforts, she watches as the not a virgin pick up Deven and hurl him at Jerimia who is currently doing his best to hold off John. Stephen goes charging after John hoping to keep him tied up long enough so that Deven can get patched up via Alexander or Jerimia. She can’t help but admire Stephen. He’s a brave young boy. Him and Jared both are the youngest of all the world shakers and she can’t help but wonder what brought Stephen to such an extreme. Most of the time he seems sweet and tender. Always willing to lend a hand or, like now, to face down impossible odds while the others run to get help. He deals regularly with things that turn a normal person bat shit insane and yet he always seems to have a joke ready and a smile. It is almost shocking to see him take a swing at John and it is equally shocking to see John coldly side step then counter attack sending Stephen sprawling.
No one is sure how Stephen’s body works. Everyone is sure that it is creepy and so when the strange yellow one-dimensional ooze starts flowing from his headwound even John seems to be relieved that he has to dodge both laser beams, and hurled magical blasts from the combined forces of Alexander and Jerimia. Up in the tree looking down she sees why the two of them don’t work together that often. When they do the results are terrifying. Attacking from two different but complimentary angles they time their shots so that John has no room to breath what so ever. As soon as one shot passes another one is fired. Both doing their best to herd John away from the tree and possibly stop him for good. Both are master tacticians they deliver their shots with percision making increasingly harder for John to both dodge the attacks and keep his balance. It looks like they finally have the upper hand until the not a virgin breaks free from Wilson and rushes Jerimia. Jerimia sees her charge and isn’t about to take that lying down and with a snarled, “Bugger this” he turns and fires on her, and misses, once, twice, then just before she is on him, just inches away from his hair he hits her dead on in the chest. Stunned she collaspes. However, the damage is done and now before Alexander is able to cast any spells again he is going to need some healing. John has seen to that and is about to see to Deven. When Stephen regains his feet and gets in a lucky tackle.
There is nothing elegant about a tackle. Wilson rushes to help and what was once a graceful dance of dodging ,feinting, and pain is now nothing more than an undignified roll in the dirt complete with kicking, biting, and struggling. Rebecca sighs inwardly. So many fights end up that way. While she wasn’t around to see it she would of given anything to be around during the days of the duels. Where men fought with foils and fights were stately little affairs. So tidy things were thing. She would of loved it. Men would duel for her honor, leave no heirs and she could amass a tidy fortune just by being herself before rising and army and striking at the heart of a kingdom or something equally fun like that. The world was smaller then and while it is true it was much less worth ruleing and she didn’t have the event at her side which would of catapulted her abilities into the stratosphere. She would have had more than a modest set of abilities from which to work with and she could of lived with that she thinks. Looking around she tries to make sense of it all. The strange bone colored grass, the apocalyptic tree which she is now comfortably sitting in, the strange bags, the not a virgin, what did it all mean. She feels lost. She knows that they are between the layers of reality. That some the world we see is one of many layers and the more you pull back the more you get to see. Just about all the world shakers can do it to some degree or another. They all seem to lead to different places though which is something she likes but she can’t really explain. Climbing down from the tree she wonders if Jared is in one of them and if he is safe. She doesn’t know exactly where they are in the cosmic scheme of things but she definitely knows that they are closer to death than life. A place where one is supposed to be if one is already departed. She often times wonders if John isn’t half spirit or something similar. As she climbs down the tree they finish up putting the restraints on him, then they break his feet. Nothing hobbles a get away like a hobble. Jerimia wants to cut them off completely because nothing hobbles a get away like scar tissue ladden nubs but as everyone just learned that putting bodies together is easier said than done they decide against it. He is off the wagon not a light bringer and he should be treated with some respct.
Increadibly the not a virgin stumbles to her feet, the gaping hole in her chest shows as anyone recently hit by her suspects, that she is no longer human. Her body is full of sticks and leaves. Every time she moves leaves fall out of her. She tries to picks some up and put them back in, but as she bends over to pick more up more leaves fall out. After a second she just collapses crying pathetically. Rebecca goes over to help her put the leaves back in her hole whatever the girl once was is gone now. John looks around him smiling like he’s just had the best time in the world, “Well then gentlemen I see that my little planet hopping extravaganza didn’t do anything to stop you from finding my secret base of operations. Well done. Well done indeed. You all have bested me far more thoroughly than any of my light bringers ever did. Then again those poor sods were just square john who stumbled into a much smaller part of the much greater mystery that is me and me alone. I am surprised you all managed to stop me though. That doesn’t happen to me very often I must say.”
Wilson gets down on one knee in front of John, grabs his face forcing him to look right into Wilson’s eyes, “John. John come on now snap out of it. We’ve all been here before, each and every one of us. Remember back when. When you found me in Hobo’s Alley. That random place where I was rolling around in garbage naked, having bitten off the head of a snake and using its blood to make a place of power for myself. Do you remember that? Remember how you saved me? Remember what you said?”
John’s eyes narrowed, “Did you think that the year 2000 was the only eventful year? 2012 is right around the corrner and believe me that is where it is at. That is where the show begins, my show. The big one. I gathered you together to learn your strengths and weaknesses. To weaken you, to make you soft in the head, but mostly to learn from you. To learn from ALL of you. I wanted you to believe me so I could use you forever. To take your power for myself. I am-” Wilson slaps John. It isn’t a light “hey wake up slap”. Nor is it a “your talking crazy talk and I need to wake you up” slap. It is the slap of distain. It is the slap you receive when you deserve ever so much more but the person who should be dolling out the punishment has decided he can’t be bothered to dirty his hands. He didn’t want to believe it but it is something that all of them considered at one point or another deep down in their minds. They all knew it is possible and they all knew that if they were to form the group they would all do it for that very reason but it always seemed different with John. It always hurts the worst when the one you least expect it betrays you. Some of them had second in commands that tried it. Deven still wakes up shivering because of it. It feels just like that only so much worse. John starts laughing as Wilson backs away looking like he is on the verge of tears.
Stephen takes his place, “Well you are captured now. So tell us where Jared is. We’ll get Jared, then we’ll patch you up, then oh I dunno maybe we will put you in that interdimesional holding cell Jerimia whipped up when I got possessed by some stupid thing that came as a result from Deven and I screwing around together and we needed a place to stick me so I wouldn’t go a mass murdering. We’ll get you through this but first. First you gotta tell us where Jared is.”
John chinned at the tree. “He’s in there. Not in the bags, he’s feeding the bags. He is the tree now. I needed him. His strange souless body that still holds life. He became the ultimate seed that grew the apopaclypse tree that will spread across the world turning the land to bone as it bears the fruit of dust. Isn’t that something? The fruit of dust. God I love the sound of that.”
Everyone sits shocked. Everyone except Jerimia. He’s on his feet running towards the tree wrist mounted flame thrower at ready. He never did work out the bugs on the thing and now he doesn’t care. Screaming in anger he lets loose first incinerating his hand and then the tree. John’s paniced cries of protest can be heard over the blaze as the tree lights up with unnatural quickness. Within seconds the whole things is a whirrling firestorm and Jerimia is out of fuel. Alexander is on the scene in an instant, “Jesus Jeri look at your hand”. All that is left is charred bone that is now crubling as the once organic material starts to cool and loose cohesion.
Jerimia grimices through the pain, “I told you I didn’t trust that god damn tree”. As the form of the tree starts to disperse they see it, Jared’s form, his spirit, the thing that he supposedly lost, thinking quickly Alexader starts going through Jerimia’s pockets pulling out anything electronic. Catching on Deven does the same, but it is Stephen that has the real prize as he happened to have Jared’s special cell phone with his mental back up on it. Putting them all together, they look to Rebecca with hope.
“In the spotlight once again” she smiles to herself as she starts to sing. Like she did for Jerimia before but this time it is much different. This time the stakes are even higher as no one knows what is waiting for Jared of how to get him back should he ever go for good. She can feel his latent energy from the electronics and from the tree and as she sings she draws them out over the cell phone. She feels not only his energy but the energy of this entire place. Tugging with her voice she feels it come loose like pulling up a tarp that has been staked down. The grass turns green first starting with the tree then spreading outwards. Jared’s body starts to get more distinct but incorporeal. She can feel herself loosing it and in a last desperate creshendo she peaks and the sea green skys above shatters returning the world to normal and then there he is Jared stands, reconstituted once again.
Everyone rushes him in a group hug and it is only John and Jared who see Rebecca pass out from her efforts. The air of pure ecstasy is rampant and Jared becomes dizzy with people welcoming him back, asking if he is okay, or if he is really him. After a few moments Jared gets them to settle down and he makes a path from them to John. By now Rebecca, recovered, looks on fearfully as she sees him standing over John. To their surprise Jared gestures at John, “You must not blame him. We was just trying to make me whole again and he got a bit carried away”
Wilson asks, “He was trying to renuite your soul and your body. To restore you as you once were before your acident?”
Jared nods, undoing John’s bindings, “Unfortunatly, from what I can gather he had to go deep into the sort of thing he’d previously forbidden himself from doing. As a result he went just a smidgen off the deep end. Do not hold it against him. He was just trying to help.”
John nods sadly, then to their surprise he starts to cry. Over and over again all he can repete is, “Forgive me”
Three days later is the next scheduled meeting. Wilson is there first arranging the chairs. Then Jerimia with his coffee. Then the other show up taking their seats, talking nervously, wondering what is going to happen. Mental wounds still fresh and tensions high they wonder. Time ticks on agonizingly as the time for the meeting to start draws near. Then with an unaccustomed meekiness John enters the room. The all stop, look, and wonder. John hesitates, and is about to leave when Deven smiles and offers him a doughnut. Jerimia claps him on the back and they sit down for a meeting. Not everyone is perfect and everyone deserves far more than a second chance.