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Thread: Stargazer

  1. #1

    Default Stargazer

    I've had an idea for a story bouncing around in my head for quite some time, and recently I finally got around to start putting it to paper. So I figured I might as well put it up here for those interested to follow along. So, without further ado, let's begin.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 1: Normality Ends
    Spoiler:

    It was during the early evening on the final day of August when Terrence Eaves finally arrived at Marine Cove City, which was to be his new home for at least the next year. As he stepped out of the train and onto the busy platform of Axis Station with his duffel bag, the very first thing he did was to stretch out his arms and back. For nearly the last two days he had been cooped up on that cross-country train, and as a result he was very, very sore. It felt good to finally be out in the fresh air and free of that cramped train seat.

    Terry, as he usually called himself, was a fit young man with green eyes and slightly mussed brown hair that had grown a little bit shaggy towards the back. His outfit was simple, blue jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, and a black leather coat that had been given to him as both a birthday and a going-away present. A week ago he had turned 17 years old, and had come to this city in order to attend the Marine Cove Preparatory Pre-Collegiate Academy, or simply Marine Cove Academy, a moderately well-known and prestigious private school for ages 17-19. He had managed to do well enough on the entrance exam to be granted admittance for the new school year, and so he had left his quiet hometown out in the western part of the country to come to this new and unfamiliar city. He could have simply stayed at home to finish his high school education and go to college the normal way, but he was ready for a change in his life, and this option had struck him as the most readily available way to accomplish that.

    Once he had cleared the platform and entered the station’s fairly grand lobby, filled with people waiting or going to and fro, he found a small corner slightly removed from the crowd and took out his cell phone in order to check the time. It was 5:37. His train had been nearly an hour and a half late.

    He pondered what he should do next in his head. There was a brightly-lit food court stationed right outside the central waiting area designed to entice weary travelers, but he had already eaten a meal on the train. Besides, he only had roughly eighty-five yura left in his wallet, and he might very well need to spend on something more important by the night’s end. No, the best choice for him to make was to find and check into the dorm building that he had been assigned to as soon as possible.

    Of course, that was far easier said than done. This was Terry’s first visit to a city, let alone a major one like this. He was used to quiet country and suburban roads, where life moved at a steady if slightly leisurely pace, not a sprawling urban metropolis filled to the gills with thousands upon thousands of people all of whom moving at a comparatively chaotic pace, with a cacophony of sound and a kaleidoscope of color attacking his eardrums and eyes no matter where he turned. The name ‘’cove’’ implied to him a small, calm, peaceful community. Maybe that name had been appropriate for this city in centuries past, but now it most certainly wasn’t.

    Terry quickly found that the simple map that he had brought with him was becoming indecipherable and useless. He wandered the unfamiliar and busy streets for close to three hours, getting himself hopelessly lost and leaving him both tired and sore. Eventually, he found a small playground park at which he plopped himself down on a bench, completely worn out from all of the walking that he had just done.

    As he sat, he looked up at the sky. Due to all of the light pollution coming from the skyscrapers and the other tall downtown buildings, he couldn’t see any stars save for maybe two or three, whereas at this time back home there would be considerably more spread out across the sky. Heion was visible though, a few specks of light just barely discernable on its darkened rim; it would be just over a week before it was full in the sky.

    He had always liked to stargaze ever since he was a little kid, picking out distant stars barely visible to the naked eye, hoping to glimpse a shooting star, tracing constellations, and discerning the arc of the galaxy’s spiral arm. However, Heion was his least favorite celestial body in the sky. It wasn’t because he thought it blotted out other stars that he could be looking at or looked ugly, in fact it looked like a blue and white marble against the black sky. The reason that he didn’t like looking at it was due to the fact that whenever he did, it caused old memories to resurface, memories that he didn’t particularly care to revisit.

    Terry then took out his phone to check the time again. It was getting close to nine o’clock, and he was starting to get worried that his dorm might be locked for the night or otherwise be under curfew when he finally found it. He was starting to get a headache even, one that slowly intensified to a splitting migraine as he was absentmindedly flipping through his phone’s display menus. He instinctively put his hand to his forehead as an arc of stars briefly filled his vision; it felt as if something was being slowly crammed into a head that was already filled to bursting. But almost as soon as it began, the sensation came to an abrupt end, leaving him puzzled and a little sorer than before.

    ‘’I must really be getting tired…’’ he muttered, massaging his worn-out forehead. He decided that that was a sign that he really needed to get going. He put his phone away and gathered up his bag. As he stood up to leave, however, he heard a voice call out to him, stopping him before he even managed to put one foot forward.

    ‘’Wait a second, please!’’ A boy hurried over to him, panting a bit as he came from his brief sprint. He looked to be around Terry’s own age and height, if maybe just a bit shorter, though his spiky black hair probably made up the difference. His narrowed brown eyes probably meant that he was Oriental, though Terry couldn’t identify at first glance which area he was from precisely. ‘’I’m really sorry to ask you this,’’ he said a bit bashfully in between pants. ‘’Could I, uh, borrow some money from you? I only need like ten yura for train fare.’’

    That wasn’t exactly what Terry had expected him to ask, but the boy sounded sincere and he didn’t feel like it would be very becoming of him to turn someone down after having been asked like that. And also, he could use this person’s help. ‘’Uh, sure I guess.’’ He went to take his wallet out of his pants pocket. ‘’But in return, can you help me find a place I’m looking for?’’

    ‘’Sure, I guess so.’’ the boy replied. ‘’Sorry ‘bout this. I was just more comfortable asking someone who looked closer to my own age, you know?’’

    Terry took the bill out of his wallet and handed it over along with his map. ‘’Here you go. The place I need to go is marked with a circle.’’

    ‘’Thanks.’’ The boy slipped the money into the pocket of the gray and maroon hoodie that he was wearing. ‘’My name’s Akira Kamiya, by the way.’’

    ‘’I’m Terry Eaves.’’ Terry replied in kind. Well, with a name like that, it wasn’t that difficult to figure out which part of the Orient he was from. Terry was admittedly a bit curious if he was a local or not.

    ‘’Ah, I know what you’re thinking.’’ Akira noted, seeing right through him. ‘’Don’t worry, I’ve been in this city for over a month. I know my way around, more or less.’’ He studied Terry’s map for a few moments. ‘’Dude, you are so lost.’’ he said, which told Terry nothing that he didn’t already know. ‘’This is practically on the other side of town, across the river.’’ He continued to scrutinize the map. ‘’Hey, this is a dorm for the school!’’ he exclaimed, brightening up considerably. ‘’Are you going to the Academy?’’

    ‘’Yeah, that’s right.’’ Terry said.

    ‘’What a coincidence, I am too.’’ Akira said grinning as he handed back the map. His voice and tone were a lot more enthusiastic now. ‘’Since you’re lost and have a bag with you, I bet you're not from around here, right?’’

    ‘’No, I took the train in to Axis Station.’’ Terry replied. ‘’I arrived just a couple of hours ago.’’

    ‘’Axis…Station?’’ Akira frowned and narrowed his eyes. ‘’You know you could’ve just taken the bus or the monorail from there to find your dorm. There’s a station marked out right here on the map, see?’’ he said, indicating said mark with his finger.

    That made Terry feel quite stupid and even more frustrated now that he had learned that his trek across the city had been ultimately pointless and completely unnecessary. But he wasn’t about to say that outloud, especially to a stranger. ‘’Well, there isn’t any public transportation where I’m from.’’ he said instead, deciding to be rather stubborn about the issue.

    ‘’Hey, I won’t hold it against you.’’ Akira insisted, raising his hands in a gesture of innocence. ‘’Well, I may just file it away to make sure that you never forget it.’’ he added, chuckling a little bit. ‘’But anyway, you know the monorail?’’

    ‘’Are you talking about those tracks that run above the main streets?’’

    ‘’Yeah, those.’’ Akira confirmed, nodding. ‘’Just get on one of the outbound ones and they’ll take you where you need to go. Since you’re lost, and that dorm’s in kind of a shady neighborhood, I’ll show you the way there.’’

    ‘’That’s all right,’’ Terry said, trying to discourage him. While he was grateful for being pointed in the right direction, he didn’t really feel like going out of his way and risk embarrassing himself in front of his companion again. ‘’I can take care of myself.’’

    ‘’After you totally failed at reading a map, I can’t let you go off alone in good conscious.’’ Akira persisted, with a faint trace of faux-worry creeping into his voice. ‘’I’d feel so guilty, like I had just sent you off to certain death!’’

    Terry let out a barely-contained sigh. ‘’Oh all right already.’’ Well, at least he’d have someone his own age around to talk to, he thought.

    ‘’ Cool, then come on.’’ Akira grinned broadly. ‘’Let’s go!’’

    The two left the park and Akira began to lead Terry through the streets. Unlike Terry’s earlier wanderings, Akira clearly knew where he was going, as he cut through the crowd of people as smooth as could be, with Terry following behind, trying hard not to jostle people with his bag. After a short walk the two reached one of the main city streets and located one of the stations for the monorail line. It wasn’t a long wait before a train slid quietly into the station, and Terry and Akira managed to find a car that was mostly empty, which was unusual for this time of night, but it was an arrangement that would afford them plenty of privacy.

    ‘’You’re really unlucky you know.’’ Akira commented as the train began to pull out, smoothly and almost silently on its maglev tracks.

    ‘’What for, because I didn’t realize what public trans was?’’

    ‘’No, it’s just that your assigned dorm’s the crappiest one of the lot.’’ Akira replied, resting his hands behind his head as he leaned back in the hard-cushioned seat. ‘’I guess it’s not that bad during the day, but once the sun goes down, like right now, a bunch of shady people hang out around there. That part of town has a bit of a gang problem, you see.’’

    ‘’Really?’’ Terry was looking at Akira a bit incredulously. ‘’And they let students live there?’’

    ‘’Yeah, and they’re really mad about it.’’ Akira leaned a little further back and slid down a little in his seat. ‘’From what I’ve heard they raised a big stink about it. Apparently a new dorm building is being built in another part of the city, closer to the school, but until then unlucky guys like you are stuck there.’’

    ‘’Well, if there’s gang activity near where the students live, why don’t the police crack down?’’ Terry asked. ‘’That’s the most sensible response, isn’t it?’’

    ‘’Eh, they’re kinda reluctant.’’ Akira admitted. ‘’I mean, to the gang’s credit they don’t do much that’s too over-the-top and draw a lot of attention to themselves, just enough to keep people on their toes, you know? The rumor is that their leader is a little, well, special, if you know what I mean.’’

    Terry could make a pretty good educated guess as to what Akira meant, he thought. ‘’Is he a…’’

    ‘’Yep, or so they say.’’ Akira said before he could finish, nodding grimly.

    Akira was talking about a Stargazer.

    Terry had never seen a Stargazer before, but that was hardly unusual as most people did not, at least not knowingly. Stargazers were people who, through some unknown means, were said to be able to wield superpowers, and these powers tended to vary wildly from Stargazer to Stargazer. Terry had heard someone once say that the number of Stargazers in the world numbered in the low hundreds, and that while most of them were in the employ of the government, there were still plenty of rogue Stargazers who were either criminals or were otherwise members of society's underworld. This gang leader Akira spoke of must be from that group.

    An awkward silence hung for a few moments before Akira started to chuckle. ‘’Heh heh, why do you look so serious?’’

    ‘’I’m not worried.’’ Terry responded. ‘’But,'' he added. ''there’s really a Stargazer in this city?’’ A criminal Stargazer did not sound like good news to him at all.

    ‘’Well, as I said, there’re rumors.’’ Akira said. Terry got the impression from his sudden reversion to vague answers that he was trying to avoid discussing that topic, in which case he would have been better off not bringing it up to begin with. ‘’It’s got nothing to do with us, at any rate. Come on…’’ He leaned down and peered intently at Terry, and his face broke out into a grin. ‘’…that isn’t fear I see in your face, is it?’’

    ‘’Who’s scared?’’ Terry retorted. Normally he would be a little annoyed by this exchange, but after all that time that he had spent on the train alone, he actually found that he was appreciating Akira’s sarcasm, just a little. He hadn’t known him for very long at all yet he could already tell that he was a very easy-going, cheerful person. There were times when people like that got on his nerves a little, but they were generally good-hearted people, and as they talked about this and that Terry found himself feeling glad that he had encountered someone like him how could help him feel more at ease in this unfamiliar city.

    After around a half-hour or so the train reached their destination station, according to both Akira and Terry’s map. As they descended to the street Terry looked around to take in his new surroundings. Instead of the tall skyscrapers or the other building complexes that Terry had been surrounded with before, this part of town looked more residential, with the roads lined with what appeared to be old apartment buildings and the occasional convenience store, most of which were shuttered for the night. Just as Akira had warned him, a number of the buildings did look rather shady, with darkened interiors and minor signs of neglect showing. There weren’t any cars on the side streets, which were considerably narrower than the roads from before, and there were hardly any people around either save for a few small groups congregating beneath the uneven light of streetlamps here and there. Things probably looked nicer during the day, Terry thought.

    ‘’Well, here we are.’’ Akira muttered, glancing around. ‘’The dorm’s like two blocks away. I’ll go with you.’’

    ‘’What are you, my mom?’’ Terry said as he gripped his bag. ‘’Besides, there are hardly any people around here. I can make my way down a straight path just fine.’’

    ‘’Hey, just looking out for you.’’

    With some consternation Terry submitted himself to following in Akira’s wake. The few people they did pass didn’t really pay them any mind beyond a glance, preferring to stick with their little groups. Terry wasn’t really intimidated at all, he really had no reason to be, but he could tell that Akira was tensed up, and that he had his hands buried deep inside his pockets.

    Akira eventually came to a halt and seemed to be considering something. Terry looked around him to see that he was looking at a group of three people talking and laughing to themselves approximately thirty feet away. They took up most of the sidewalk, but Akira apparently decided that it would be too conspicuous to cross over to the other side of the street, for after some hesitation he continued on down towards them.

    As they got closer Terry could see that each of these three people were anywhere from two to three years older than he and Akira were. Physically, they were a bit large, and with their rather loose attire and slouching postures they looked like stereotypical wannabe urban tough guys.

    ‘’’scuse us.’’ Akira muttered as they tried to pass through. Terry’s bag, unfortunately, was not compact enough to slip through without incident, as it brushed up against one of the people, prompting him to call out to Terry: ‘’Hey, you just gonna leave it at that man? Don’ you got somethin’ to say?’’

    A normal person would have been intimidated and would have tried to apologize and beat a hasty retreat. However, Terry was not the kind of person who would let threats like that faze him. He had conditioned himself to deal with obstacles that were far beyond a few guys looking for a fight. ‘’Yeah, you’re just going to have to deal with it.’’ he said cooly, stopping and glancing back over his shoulder back at the thugs.

    ‘’Hey…’’ Akira started worriedly as one of the other thugs chuckled a bit.

    ‘’Too good for us?’’ the one who had accosted Terry said, a threatening edge to his voice. ‘’Listen, on these streets you got to show the proper respect, you know man?’’

    ‘’Well I don’t care, you can just shove it.’’ Terry said dismissively, and began to walk away.

    The thug grabbed him by his left shoulder. ‘’Well that’s not how things work aro-‘’

    His words were cut off by a gasp as Terry whirled around and buried his right fist into his stomach. He went down with the wind knocked out of him, as the other two cursed in surprise.

    ‘’Dammit, why’d you have to do that?!’’ Akira bit out as he backed up in alarm. His face had gone pale, and his eyes were darting around, searching desperately for a way out.

    The other two thugs quickly recovered from their shock and made their move. One jumped forward and took a swing at his shorter adversary. Terry leaned back with surprising control to dodge the blow and managed to ram his forearm into his opponent’s ribs, sending him staggering off to the side. Immediately afterward Terry pivoted to the side despite still carrying his bag and deflected a blow from his final assailant before nailing him in the solar plexus, dropping him to the pavement like a sack of cement.

    Akira’s fists unclenched slightly as the final thug went down. The altercation had lasted little more than ten seconds, and had been largely silent. ‘’I didn’t know you could fight…’’ he breathed, astonished at both what he had just witnessed and that there had miraculously been no one else close enough to witness what had happened. ‘’But still, what the hell came over you?!’’

    ‘’Hey, if someone threatens me like that, I’m not going to take it lying down.’’ Terry replied, a little too causally for someone who had just come out of a street fight.

    ‘’Ugh, that’s not the point!’’ Akira protested, before deciding to drop it subject for both of their sakes. ‘’Come on, let’s just get out of here before they wake up and-‘’

    He had spoken too soon, for the second thug was getting back to his feet, this time brandishing something that looked like either a small knife or razorblade. Before Akira could cry out a warning to Terry, who had his back turned, the thug sprang forward.

    Everything seemed to slow down as Terry reacted sluggishly, foolishly caught off guard. As he began to turn, way too slowly too effectively counter someone with a weapon, something highly unexpected happened, something that should have been impossible. Terry’s eyes turned a light-blue color and the air seemed to crackle around him. Literally, even, for a bolt of blue electricity shot down his arm and leapt out, striking his assailant in the stomach before he could do any harm, sending him several feet backwards and dropping him to the ground, this time he was rendered well and truly unconscious.

    The electricity dispersed with another crackle and Terry’s eyes returned to their natural color. He had a look of stunned amazement on his face as he tried to process what on Lagoon had just happened. Slowly turning to Akira, he saw that his friend looked just as surprised as he did. But slowly, both of them arrived at the same conclusion, a conclusion that seemed completely unbelievable.

    ‘’Are you…’’Akira said softly, his eyes remaining wide in amazement. ‘’Are you a Stargazer?’’

    A Stargazer… That word echoed in Terry’s head as he looked down at his hands. His brain was refusing to register what had just happened. A Stargazer was something that he’d occasionally see discussed on the news, or hear rumors of. They weren’t anything that had to do with the simple, relatively quiet life that he had led up until now. They were a part of a completely separate world. But still, the display just now, as startling as it had been, was undeniable evidence of the truth.

    Just a few hours ago, Terrence Eaves had arrived in Marine Cove City as a perfectly normal, 17 year old student. Now he had become something more.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    So there it is, the first chapter. The beginning so far is laying down exposition and introducing the setting, so it may take a little bit before the real plot kicks in. At least, I hope it shouldn't take too long to get there.
    Last edited by Crossword; March 27th, 2012 at 12:41 PM.
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  2. #2

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Just three things I've got so far:
    1. Read some of the dialogue out loud, especially the part where Terry mutters 'best get to my new dorm before it's too late' or whatever part that was. One thing I learned from reading in my writing group is that a good story is one that will never make you bored of your own voice, and it can catch mistakes in dialogue.
    2. Terry becoming a Stargazer out of the blue. Cool, but hopefully we'll eventually get an explanation of it some day, and maybe even the immediate consequences of becoming a Stargazer.
    3. I've been in a rough neighborhood, and it doesn't really match what you described. Even though it was only during the day, every shop I passed by not only had bars on the windows, but also signs saying 'this place is under surveillance' or 'smile, you're on camera.'
    That could give a more ominous feeling. I know it certainly gave me one: I never come near that area at night now.
    Bonus Fact: The area I was walking in was quite isolated and a long way from residential areas. Good place for 'nightly activities.'
    Keep up the good work.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Crossword, were you interested in submitting this for the Bi-Weekly, or no? Just curious, because I wasn't sure. (I'll get to reading this once I get some significant free time)

  4. #4

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Once it gets longer and the conflict starts up I might. Right now I have four chapters written out, and I'm still laying out the setting and introducing the main characters.
    Last edited by Crossword; April 19th, 2011 at 08:15 PM.
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  5. #5

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 2: What is a Stargazer?
    Spoiler:

    It was late at night, but even so Gerald Centone arrived at Marine Cove’s 2nd Branch Research Institute twenty minutes after he had received a phone call from one of the staff members requesting his presence. Given the unusual time of day, this could mean only one thing: a new Stargazer had been found. Such an event didn't happen all that often, and it always sent two conflicting sets of emotions through his aging body: one of anticipation, and one of apprehension. What kind of powers would this person have, and what was their situation and story? What kind of person would they be? The decisions that he would have to make within the next number of hours could drastically alter a life, and despite the number of years that he had spent working for Lifeline, that knowledge was something that he had never grown comfortable with.

    He did his best to put aside his worries as he entered the building, as he knew that his meeting would go easier for him if he kept his mind clear, and reached a small reception room where a sleepy receptionist took notice of him and gave him a small file of documents that pertained to the case before leading him to a conference room.

    Waiting for him inside were two people. The first was the woman who was the director of this facility, Dr. Margaret Seedis. She was the type of person who was always on task and dedicated to her research work. Her gray hair was pulled back into a tight bun, giving her the look of a stern librarian or schoolteacher. Gerald had known her for a number of years, and knew that that aura suited her perfectly.

    The second person, on the other hand, was Dr. Seedis’s complete opposite, despite the fact that the military uniform he was wearing might make one think otherwise. The posture of the young man seated across from her at the table, Captain Dennis Ganut, was making it no secret that he was not looking forward to this meeting and that he wished to be elsewhere. Gerald had only crossed paths with him a few times before now, but from those few encounters he had learned that anything involving this man would be an uphill struggle.

    ‘’Good evening Dr. Seedis, Captain Ganut.’’ Gerald nodded to the others as he took his seat at the table and opened up the file he had been given. ‘’May I ask what the situation is at the moment?’’

    Dr. Seedis put on her glasses as she looked down at the set of papers lying on the table before her. ‘’At approximately ten o’clock this evening we received a phone call from Akira Kamiya that someone he was with had exhibited Stargazer powers.’’ she reported. ‘’We dispatched someone to investigate and we admitted the subject, Terrence Eaves, into this facility just after ten forty-five.’’

    ‘’What is the current state of this boy?’’ Gerald asked. This was always the first thing he asked, for the Stargazer’s state of mind was always the foremost concern in his mind. If the subject was stable, that was fine, and he could go forward with his plans, if not…

    ‘’The subject’s mental state seemed stable when I talked with him.’’ Seedis answered. ‘’At first he seemed to be a little confused, maybe even dazed if you will, but he seemed to recover, and understood what I was telling him though he didn’t say very much. I wouldn’t worry about his sanity.’’

    That was quite a relief to Gerald, and he mentally breathed a sigh of relief. There were occasional cases of new Stargazers undergoing disastrous bouts of psychosis due to being unable to process and cope with their newfound powers. Things would be much less complicated for all involved if the boy wasn’t in a heightened state of mental agitation.

    ‘’Well that’s good.’’ Ganut grunted, speaking up for the first time. ‘’I don’t want him snapping on me.’’

    ‘’Have you gotten a Weismann count?’’ Gerald went on, deciding that it was best to ignore him.

    ‘’The lab is working on it right now.’’ Seedis replied. ‘’We should have the results ready by tomorrow morning.’’

    ‘’I will wish to speak with him at that time.’’ Gerald said, adjusting his glasses. ‘’Now, can you tell a little bit about him?’’ he asked. ‘’As you probably know, I only received the file just now, and obviously haven’t had any time to peruse it.’’

    ‘’Gladly.’’ Seedis said, absentmindedly scratching her nose as she brought up her own copy of the file for reference. ‘’Terrence Eaves, 17 years old, born on August 21, 2631, native of Rentune, a small town located in the Severstone state.’’ she began to read off.

    ‘’That’s out near the mid-west, isn’t it?’’ Ganut asked, though he didn’t seem to care one way or the other.

    ‘’It is.’’ Seedis confirmed before going back to the file. ‘’His legal guardian is his uncle, a Dustin Eaves.’’

    ‘’His parents?’’

    ‘’ He was actually rather evasive around that topic.’’ Seedis admitted, steepling her fingers. ‘’And I didn’t think that this was a good time to force information from him. However, it wasn’t too difficult to find their names through census records. That information should be included with the other files you have there.’’

    ‘’Ah, yes, here they are.’’ Gerald noted as he looked at the second page of documents included in the file folder. The names he saw admittedly meant nothing to him at the moment, but he did find Terrence’s apparent reluctance to speak about them interesting. He could think of numerous reasons why one would dislike or be estranged from their parents, but for someone to refuse to even speak of them if even an authority asked, well, there must be some kind of grudge behind it. It was something to keep note of.

    ‘’He did strike me as being rather closed.’’ Seedis continued, once she saw that Gerald was finished reading. ‘’But that may simply be due to the current circumstances. When I talked to him, Akira Kamiya claimed that he more talkative after a little bit. Would you like me to give you the full version of what Mr. Kamiya told me, by the way?’’

    ‘’No, that’s alright.’’ Gerald waved that aside. ‘’I’ll speak to him myself later. I’d rather hear things from Mr. Eaves’s own mouth for the time being. This would be a confusing time for anyone, especially for someone so young.’’

    This was a rising concern indeed. According to the gathered data, within the last twenty years more and more newly awakened Stargazers were under the age of 30, with some even being minors. How many promising young futures had been sidetracked or even derailed by this phenomenon?

    ‘’I think it’s a good thing.’’ Seedis said simply, cutting into his thoughts. ‘’Better for it to happen now when their futures are still malleable rather than later when it’s too late.’’

    Well there’s something we disagree on. Gerald thought to himself, eyeing the doctor coolly. But now wasn’t time for the ethics debate. Not yet, anyway. ‘’It says here that he’s a Gemini Stargazer.’’ he noted as he skimmed the file again.

    ‘’There’s no mistaking it, as both Mr. Kamiya and Eaves himself reported that the power he manifested appeared to be electricity based.’’ Seedis explained.

    ‘’Not too many Geminis out there.’’ Ganut put it.

    They continued to go over the finer details of the incident. Seedis wanted to see if they could find the thug whom Eaves had inadvertently shocked, but as Ganut pointed out, it would be nearly impossible to find him by now. Between Seedis’s almost cold professionalism and Ganut’s snide comments and behavior, Gerald couldn’t say that he particularly enjoyed the discussion. He was quite thankful when they finally began to wrap things up.

    ‘’As I said earlier, I think the best course of action for me is to speak to Mr. Eaves as soon as I can so that I can get things moving on my end.’’ Gerald said to the others as he began to reorganize the papers before him on the table. ‘’Then once I’m finished explaining things, we can send the documentation to Heion to get the final approval for-‘’

    ‘’There’s no need to go through Heion.’’ Seedis said, interrupting him. ‘’The state governor wants Trident up and running as soon as possible, and so he’s already managed to clear most of the red tape. I believe the only forms you need are at the back of that file you were given.’’

    ‘’Oh, so they are.’’ Gerald noted as he spotted a document that he had somehow overlooked hiding at the back of the file folder, feeling a little foolish.

    ‘’ Ganut.’’ Seedis turned to address the younger man. ‘’We aim to begin the demonstration at eleven o’clock tomorrow morning.’’

    ‘’So I’ll be the guinea pig once again, eh?’’ Ganut said, not sounding particularly interested. ‘’Yeah, I’ll get it cleared with my bosses so I can come back down here no problem. Not like they’ll be able to refuse anyway.’’

    ‘’Well, if everything is in order,’’ Gerald said with an air of finality as he reorganized his files. ‘’I will be here at nine in the morning to talk to the patient.’’

    He gathered up his papers and belongings, wished Seedis and Ganut goodnight, and departed the conference room. As he left he noted, rather cynically, that not once in their long discussion had the subject of Eaves’s own wishes and thoughts on the matter come up.

    * * *

    With an effort, Terry slowly opened his eyes for the second time that morning. Once again, the ceiling before his blurred and sleepy vision was an unfamiliar sterile white and not the dull plaster that he expected from a dorm room. He slowly glanced around to see that he was still lying in the bed of a small hospital room. His bag and clothes were set aside nearby, and his jacket was hanging up on a hook attached to the closed door.

    Things slowly came back to him. Last night, against all odds, he had become a Stargazer, or so Akira had claimed. After several moments of confusion Akira had called someone on his cell phone, claiming that he didn’t know what else to do and that the people he was calling would. Before Terry could’ve gotten a straight explanation from him, an official-looking van had pulled up to sweep both of them away.

    They had been taken to this facility where Terry had been both interrogated and submitted to several physical examinations, and had spent the night hooked up to several different machines monitoring his sleeping body, which had only just been disconnected a little earlier in the morning. And during all of this, not once had Terry gotten a straight explanation as to what was going to happen to him. This was certainly not the way he had imagined spending his first night in Marine Cove.

    He looked down at his hand, and it definitely didn’t look any different than it normally did. While it was hard to imagine that just a few hours ago he had shot electricity from it, he didn’t really feel too strongly about it one way or another at this point. He assumed that his brain was perhaps still trying to fully comprehend the reality of what had happened.

    The staff monitoring him had apparently noticed that he was awake, for soon a nurse came in to bring him a meager breakfast of oatmeal and toast, after which he was allowed to shower and change into a fresh hospital tunic and had a few new sensors, thankfully not wired this time, reapplied to his body. By the time he had gotten back to his small room he found someone waiting there for him. It was someone he hadn’t seen before, an older man, whose face was just starting to sag with age, with slightly sunken eyes behind black-rimmed glasses.

    ‘’Oh, hello there.’’ he said, looking up from a sheet of paper he was reading as he heard Terry enter. His voice was a steady and cultured one. ‘’My name is Gerald Centone. Go ahead, feel free to sit, Mr. Eaves.’’ He made a gesture and Terry decided to sit down on the edge of the bed, eyeing the older man with just a hint of suspicion.

    ‘’Don’t worry, I’m not here to interrogate you, nor make you repeat anything that you already told the director last night.’’ Gerald assured, picking up on the look in Terry’s eyes. ‘’I’m actually here to answer some of your own questions, though I wouldn’t mind some answers from you if you’re willing to give them.’’ he added.

    Indeed, Terry had what felt like a million questions and threads drifting around in his head: where was he, who these people were, who did they work for, his powers, when he would stop being treated by the staff like a patient, and most of all, what would ultimately be happening to him. It was best to start simple. ‘’Well, for starters… Where am I, and who are you?’’

    Gerald shifted in his seat a little. ‘’Right now you are in the medical wing of the city’s 2nd Research Institute. As for myself, I am a member of the city’s board of education.’’

    ‘’So, what do you have to do with me?’’

    ‘’Well, you’re probably not aware of this, but what I do ties directly into your situation.’’ Gerald began to explain. ‘’But first I think it is best that I address what exactly a Stargazer is.’’

    Terry gave a small nod. ‘’Well, I know what they are, but only in a very broad sense.’’

    ‘’Admittedly, and this frustrates a good deal of the scientific community, we don’t know all that much about the mechanics either, nor do we know why the people that are chosen are.’’ Gerald began. ‘’What we do know, is that throughout history select humans have been granted extraordinary powers beyond the natural realm, by some unseen entity or force.’’

    ‘’That reminds me.’’ Terry cut in. ‘’Not long before I first used my powers, I got a really, really bad headache.’’

    ‘’Go on.’’ Gerald said, leaning forward with intrigue.

    ‘’Well, it felt almost like something was being forced roughly into my head.’’ Terry recounted. ‘’It was like…like…’’ He struggled to find the words that fit what he was thinking. ‘’It was like something was being installed.’’ he said finally.

    ‘’Hm, that’s an interesting analogy.’’ Gerald mused. ‘’Your experience is hardly a unique one, though. Almost every Stargazer I’ve talked to who was conscious of the moment that they became on have mentioned experiencing the exact same symptoms you just did, some even making almost the same comparison.’’

    ‘’Oh. Well, sorry to interrupt your explanation.’’

    ‘’No, that’s alright.’’ Gerald said. ‘’I suppose I better explain the breakdown in their power.’’ He paused to adjust his glasses. ‘’While the powers themselves are quite broad, encompassing many, many different abilities, and there is some overlap, they can be divided up into seven categories: Leo, Aquarius, Gemini, Taurus, Sagittarius, Virgo, and Capricorn.

    ‘’The first category, Leo, draws its power fire and its derivatives. Aquarius, as the name may suggest, draws its power from water. Gemini, what you are, covers electromagnetism, or in your case, actual electricity. Taurus is rather broad, but often deals with metal or earth. Sagittarius, conversely, is associated with air.’’

    ‘’In fact,’’ he added. ‘’Your friend Akira Kamiya, whom you met last night, is a Sagittarius Stargazer.’’

    ‘’He’s a Stargazer too?’’ Terry’s eyes widened slightly in surprise. No wonder he had been able to get in touch with these people. ‘’He did briefly bring up Stargazers when we were talking last night, but he backed off quickly, making me think that he was worried about saying something that he shouldn’t. I never would have thought that that was his secret, though.’’

    ‘’Well, it’s not a fact that one would want to flaunt about, even for someone like him.’’ Gerald said evenly. ‘’But I’ll come back to that later; I still have two more Stargazer types to explain to you.’’

    He briefly paused. ‘’Actually, Virgo and Capricorn are a little more difficult to narrow down.’’

    ‘’How so?’’ Terry asked.

    ‘’Well, these two don’t deal with a clear-cut element.’’ Gerald began to answer. ‘’How should I put it… I guess the simplest explanation is that they deal with creation and destruction, though not all of their recorded powers reflect this. They can be quite powerful, if you’re lucky. In fact,’’ He shifted in his chair once again. ‘’In fact, the strongest known Stargazer at present is a Virgo, though I don’t know the particulars of his power.’’

    Terry took a few moments to take all of this in. The system wasn’t that difficult really. Most of the classifications seemed easy to associate with their respective powers. But the time had come to get the big issue out into the open. ‘’So,’’ he said slowly. ‘’what’s going to happen to me?’’

    Gerald let out a sigh and geared himself. ‘’Well, in the past the government would take direct custody of any Stargazer that they could find.’’ he began to explain. ‘’Naturally, this caused quite a few problems. Imagine, if you will, suddenly ripping a person from their regular life and putting them into a role that they would never have been put in otherwise, like being a spy, or a soldier.’’

    ‘’So basically all Stargazers work for the government.’’

    ‘’Not necessarily.’’ Gerald corrected. ‘’Some slip through the cracks before SPHERE can discover them, and either end up in the employ of shady fringe groups or simply remain independent.

    ‘’Anyway, in recent decades there has been an increase in the number of people being awakened, especially young adults like yourself, and we can’t just throw children into the armed forces, can we? That’s where I come in.’’ Gerald paused to take off his glasses and clean them.

    ‘’In addition to being a part of Marine Cove’s board of education, I am part of a worldwide organization called Lifeline. What Lifeline does is reach out and discover these young Stargazers, just like you, and find ways to utilize their talents in such a way as to not disrupt their civilian lives. For example,’’ He took a moment to think. ‘’I remember reading about one case not too long ago about a Stargazer who could communicate directly with animals ending up working at an aquarium, I believe. There's another Stargazer on Heion who uses their power to help the scientists run experimental simulations.’’

    ‘’So what do you have in store for me?’’ Terry asked after hearing this. ‘’You do have something planned, right?’’

    ‘’Well, I’m not sure if Akira told you this or not, for he has a tendency to lose track of his words, but this city has a bit of a gang problem.’’ Gerald admitted. ‘’It’s mostly petty crimes in the poorer, more industrial parts of the city, but things have been slowly escalating in recent months. Their leader is a confirmed Stargazer, and we have reason to believe that he is trying to bring a second one into his fold as well.’’

    ‘’So basically,’’ Terry began to put together. ‘’You want us to fight this gang then.’’

    ‘’And any other criminals that local law enforcement cannot tackle on its own.’’ Gerald added. ‘’It is more dangerous than some of the other examples I just gave you, but that is the purpose of a Stargazer cell that I have been put in charge of organizing, code-named Trident. Apart from yourself, it will consist of Akira Kamiya and another young man named Theodore Bown, whom I’m sure you will meet in the coming days.’’

    ‘’You say that like I’m going to join no matter what.’’ Terry pointed out, his eyes starting to become a little suspicious again.

    Gerald’s face visibly tightened. ‘’Well, to be blunt, unless you want SPHERE to take direct custody of you, and if that happens than neither you nor I will have much power over what will happen to you then, you don’t have much of a choice. That is why Lifeline was created, to prevent that sort of thing.’’ He leaned forward, focusing in on Terry. ‘’If you join Trident, in addition to getting paid – rather well mind you – for your services, you will be able to attend school as usual – I know that you came here to attend the Academy – and the government will continue to provide you support as you grow older. Aside from certain obligations that you will be asked to fulfill, you will be allowed to live a normal teenage life.’’

    ‘’Except for putting myself in harm’s way and hiding all of this from my friends and family.’’ Terry said dryly.

    The older man winced slightly. ‘’Yes, except for that.’’

    Terry let out an audible sigh. ‘’Well, I don’t have any friends here, and I don’t have much in the way of family either.’’

    ‘’Speaking of,’’ Gerald began to say, trying to broach this topic in the smoothest manner he could, which admittedly wasn’t very. ‘’would you mind telling me about your family? Dr. Seedis told me that you didn’t want to speak of them when she was talking to you last night.’’

    ‘’And I still don’t.’’ Terry said flatly, and Gerald could detect a hint of bitterness under there. Just a little, but it was there. ‘’I’m sure you can find out about them on your own, but right now, I don’t want to talk about them.’’

    Judging from the boy’s tone of voice and attitude, Gerald decided that it was better for him to not press too heavily. ‘’Very well then, that is your right.’’ he commented as he pushed back his coat’s sleeve to check his watch. ‘’Well, think about what I’ve told you about my offer. I’d really like to have your cooperation on this.’’

    He stood up. ‘’I believe that I should be taking you downstairs now; the time for your demonstration is drawing near, and I still have to pick up some results from the lab in the meantime.’’

    ‘’A demonstration?’’ Terry repeated. He could already make a pretty good guess as to what that would entail, but he still asked Gerald anyway.

    ‘’Yes.’’ Gerald said as he patted some creases out of his suit. ‘’It will be a practical demonstration of your powers. As your power is of an offensive type, and because you can already handle yourself in combat, as I’ve been led to believe, it will be in the format of a mock battle.’’

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Last edited by Crossword; March 27th, 2012 at 12:47 PM.
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  6. #6

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    The only comment is that I'd like to learn more of this world, but I have a feeling we're going to get that if we're patient enough.
    That, and Terry seemed really resigned. I can understand him eventually accepting his fate, but I'd be holding back a lot of anger if I were him.
    That's just me, though.
    Will we find out why there are only seven types of Stargazers and not twelve?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    The reason why there are seven categories instead of twelve is because I couldn't come up with a way to efficiently split what I had in mind across the entire Zodiac without some of the types being stupidly specific and restrictive. Luckily, this story isn't set in the real word, so I can fudge things if necessary.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 3: Stargazer Fight
    Spoiler:

    Terry was led by Gerald through the facility to an elevator that Gerald had to unlock with a swipe of a keycard. ‘’What do you mean they’re going to make me fight?’’ Terry asked as the doors closed behind them. ‘’And what exactly are they going to make me fight anyway?’’

    ‘’You’ll see when you arrive.’’ Gerald replied as he keyed in their destination. ‘’What we’re looking for is a demonstration of what your powers are capable of in a combat simulation.’’

    ‘’Actually fighting someone isn’t a simulation.’’ Terry protested. ‘’And I’ve only used my powers once, on instinct. How on earth am I going to be able to fight something with them when I still barely know anything about them myself?!’’

    ‘’I don’t like how they’re rushing you through the process either.’’ Gerald said as the elevator began to shutter and descend. ‘’Consider this a test of your ability to think and strategize on the fly under duress. You already have some skill in the martial arts, correct?’’

    ‘’Yeah.’’ Terry admitted. ‘’My uncle was a boxer when he was in high school, so he thought that I should know how to fight too.’’

    ‘’Well, then the only advice that I can give you is to draw upon what you have learned from that.’’ Gerald answered, eyeing the young man carefully through the corner of his field of vision. ‘’And your instinct too, of course.’’

    The elevator shuddered to a halt and the doors opened to reveal a slightly dimly-lit corridor. As he was led through, Terry got a glimpse of offices and a few research laboratories down branching hallways and through windows set into the wall. The distant hum of a heavy-duty generator or other such machinery could be heard all around.

    ‘’What is this place?’’ Terry asked his guide as he angled for a better look at the facilities. ‘’Is this where they conduct top-secret research?’’

    ‘’Some of it.’’ Gerald answered. ‘’I’m not exactly privy to all of it, of course.’’

    ‘’This part of the facility is located underground.’’ he went on. ‘’It affords some additional privacy and security.’’

    They soon reached a rather spartan chamber that looked like an especially drab waiting room. There were a few chairs set against the wall, and there was a slight indentation in the wall at one point that was probably a concealed door, but other than that the chamber was bare and looked far from welcoming.

    ‘’Here we are.’’ Gerald announced. ‘’It may be a bit of a wait, but as soon as they’re ready for your trial to begin, they’ll call for you. I have to go to the lab to pick up your Weismann count.’’

    ‘’What’s that?’’

    ‘’Oh, I haven’t explained that?’’ Gerald adjusted his glasses, looking remiss. ‘’You know what mitochondria are, right?’’

    ‘’They’re a part of a cell, right?’’

    ‘’Correct.’’ Gerald said. ‘’To put it simply, these particles, named after the scientist who discovered them, Tessel Weismann, are unique to Stargazers, and appear to be produced by their mitochondria. While we still haven’t figured out what triggers their production, we do know that the concentration per cell correlates to the potency of a Stargazer’s powers.’’

    ‘’I see.’’ Terry looked like he was mulling something over. ‘’Should I be concerned about the results?’’ he then asked.

    ‘’No, you shouldn’t.’’ Gerald said firmly. He could easily tell that Terry was doing a very poor job of hiding the uncertainty and confusion that was inside of him, and so tried to come up with some fitting words for the young man. ‘’Even if I’m not in the same position, I can understand that this is a trying time for you.’’ he began. ‘’But try to keep your spirits up. I believe that you should take pride in your abilities. Out of all of the people living on Lagoon and Heion, you are one of the very few who were given this power, and that means something. I sincerely believe that.’’

    Terry didn’t say a word in response, but he did give a visible nod and allowed himself to smile slightly.

    ‘’Oh, and of course, good luck.’’ Gerald added as he turned to leave. ‘’I’ll be seeing you later on, hopefully.’’

    He left, leaving Terry all alone in this barren room with nothing at all to do but wait. So he sat himself down on one of the chairs and let things stew around in his mind for a bit. Right now, above all else, he felt anxious. What exactly was in store for him at this demonstration? And what about his powers? It wasn’t as if he had consciously used them before. What if he went out there and turned out to have nothing at all to show for it?

    With a tinge of annoyance, something that his uncle had once told him came to his mind. If you approach a fight with the wrong mindset, you’ve already lost. There’s no forgiveness for mistakes once you put things on the line. And that was true, Terry had to admit, not just for fighting someone, but for any sort of conflict one might encounter in life. His uncle may not be the most philosophical or pleasant person, but he did say some things that were definitely on the mark, Terry begrudged. It wouldn’t do him any good to fret over these sorts of things right now. Terry took a deep breath, and began to banish the doubts from his mind one by one as he mentally girded himself for what was to come.


    * * *

    Having picked up his report, Gerald hurried over to the observation room from which he would witness the demonstration. Waiting for him inside were Dr. Seedis and a few assistants who were monitoring the equipment. Beyond a thick pane of security glass was a chamber which was about the size of a gymnasium. Hidden in the walls from the naked eye were multiple cameras and sensors of all kinds, each attuned to a different setting in order to process as much data as possible and transmit all of it back to the observation room for study.

    ‘’How is the subject?’’ Seedis asked as Gerald entered, once again cutting straight to business.

    ‘’Outwardly, remarkably calm, given everything I’ve told him and what he’s experienced.’’ Gerald reported as he took his spot next to Seedis where he would have a good view of the proceedings. ‘’Though inside, despite his attempts to hide it, I can sense that there is some unease and uncertainty.’’

    ‘’That’s only to be expected.’’ Seedis remarked, looking completely unfazed. ‘’He’ll come out of it soon enough. Have you looked at the results of his Weismann test yet?’’

    ‘’No, but I have it right here.’’ Gerald opened up the file to quickly skim it. ‘’Let’s see…the number should be right, about…here.’’ He found the spot and his eyes glanced over it. ‘’A concentration of two-hundred-fifty-seven…’’ he read. ‘’That seems to be within the average range for a Stargazer who has just awakened his powers.’’ That number wasn’t set in stone, of course. As a Stargazer learned how to control their power and harness it more efficiently the number could go up, signifying their growth. As a result, the powers could range from near-uselessness all the way up to the potential to destroy entire cities, allegedly. Gerald hoped to never encounter someone capable of such terrible power.

    But of course, there was no need to worry about that at the moment. One of the assistants announced that the calibration of the equipment was complete, so Seedis keyed a button on her console to signal that things were ready for Terry’s entrance. Now it was time to see what he could do in action. As Gerald watched Terry’s opponent take his spot at the center of the testing chamber, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of eager anticipation rise up within him, as if he were a young child once again, excited, and a little anxious, over the prospect of receiving new presents on Christmas Day. With these feelings, he visibly swallowed and looked on ahead.

    Terry, meanwhile, was still mentally prepping himself when a voice spoke up over a hidden intercom, requesting his presence. The indentation in the wall began to slide open, revealing the large testing chamber beyond. He stepped through, doing his best to suppress his nerves as that feeling of anxiety slowly tried to resurface. The chamber was rather large and dim, with the lighting coming from alcoves interspersed along the walls and ceiling. The only other visible feature was what looked like an observation booth elevated at the far end of the chamber, though it was too far away to clearly make out its occupants in this lighting.

    Terry’s attention was quickly drawn to the center of the chamber, where a man was standing with arms crossed and legs set slightly apart. He looked to be in his mid to late twenties, and was wearing what seemed to be a gray military uniform, only he had stripped off the tunic and was just going with the black undershirt beneath. His other distinguishing feature, Terry couldn’t help but notice, was that his bangs were a lighter shade of brown than the rest of his hair.

    ‘’I am Captain Dennis Ganut, of the 4th Branch of the Founders’ States’ army, under the umbrella of the SPHERE government.’’ he stated in a brisk, military manner. ‘’Though I suppose,’’ he added in a more casual tone, ‘’that I am a captain in name only.’’

    ‘’Um, I’m Terry Eaves.’’ Terry said, eyeing his opposite carefully. That hadn’t sounded like something any self-respecting soldier would say. ‘’Am I supposed to fight you?’’

    ‘’That is correct. What we want to see is a demonstration of your abilities in combat.’’ a voice said, probably coming from another hidden speaker. Terry recognized it as the voice of the woman who had interrogated him the night before. ‘’But, on a person?’’ he said, a little uneasy at the prospect.

    ‘’It’ll be fine; it’s what I’m here for.’’ Ganut said, holding out his palms in a gesture of either reassurance or smugness. ‘’Come at me with your fists, powers, whatever you want. I’ll take ‘em.’’

    ‘’Well then, okay.’’ Terry said, sliding back into a combat stance as the speaker announced the demonstration’s commencement. The only problem was, of course, that he still wasn’t exactly sure how he was supposed to use his powers.

    Well, he’d cross that bridge when he came to it. Since his opponent was offering, he’d oblige by taking any of his remaining pent-up frustrations out on him. He dashed forward and ground to a sudden stop right in front of Ganut, who hadn’t moved at all. Planting his feet firmly to the floor, Terry drew back his fist at incredible speed and threw a straight punch right at the other man’s face.

    Only his fist never connected.

    Well, it actually did, but much to Terry’s surprise, his forearm had gone clear through Ganut, as if he was facing a projection of some sort instead of a man.

    ‘’Hm, I can tell that that was a solid punch.’’ Ganut observed, completely unperturbed by the arm going through his head. ‘’That would’ve hurt quite a bit had it connected.’’

    Terry quickly leapt backwards, noticing that Ganut’s eyes had gone from brown to blue. Only one conclusion then. ‘’You’re a Stargazer?!’’ he got out.

    ‘’Indeed.’’ Ganut confirmed, clearly enjoying the teen’s surprise. ‘’I’m a Virgo Stargazer, who can manipulate my own space. Think of it as similar to how light bends to create the effect of a mirage, or even invisibility.’’ With that said he himself sprang forward and swung his own fist which Terry managed to block with his arm. The blow was all too solid, but when he tried to retaliate the other man was intangible once again.

    ‘’Dammit, I can’t fight like this.’’ Terry growled in frustration as he put some distance between himself and Ganut.

    ‘’Hey,’’ Ganut called. ‘’I showed you my power, time to show me yours.’’

    ‘’But how the heck am I supposed to do that?!’’ Terry shouted back. ‘’It’s not like I’ve done this before, you know!’’

    ‘’Tch, you’re thinking like a human, still.’’ Ganut grunted, tapping his head to illustrate. ‘’You’re not a human anymore, you’re a Stargazer. It should be second nature to use your powers now!’’

    Maybe he was right, Terry thought to himself. He was hung up on that point because his only other usage of his powers had been reflexive, and it was a different matter to consciously draw upon them. By obsessing over that, he was going about this the wrong way and doing nothing but a disservice.

    Ganut, however, was not going to give him the time he needed to collect himself. ‘’If you aren’t going to do this on your own,’’ he said. ‘’I’ll have to take a step up on the pressure and give you an incentive.’’ With that, he held out his hand before suddenly plunging it inside himself, at least that was what it looked like to Terry’s surprised eyes, and drew out what looked like a metal telescoping police baton. ‘’How’d you – ‘’

    ‘’I told you, my power is to manipulate my own space.’’ Ganut said, brandishing his new weapon as he sized Terry up again. ‘’Of course it’s child’s play to create a space inside myself like so. There are many ways a Stargazer can apply his or her powers, you just have to discover them.’’

    He dashed forth and took a series of aggressive swipes at Terry, forcing him on the defensive as he reasoned that it probably wasn’t a good idea to let himself get hit with that. His own punches and kicks continued to be ineffective, and it was difficult to concentrate with Ganut’s fierce attack, which was probably his entire game.

    He himself had studied martial arts since he was 11 years old. One of the most basic things that he had learned, and what his uncle’s words from earlier had alluded to, was the importance of maintaining focus and keeping a clear head at all times, lest his movements become sloppy and easy to read, and he become unable to strategize properly. Once again, he needed to clear his mind despite the circumstances. Don’t worry about whether he could activate his powers or not, just do it.

    As that thought went through his mind, Terry felt an odd sensation in the air around him and was rewarded with the sight of a few bolts of electricity crackling in the air around him. ‘’So you can do it after all.’’ Ganut said, looking pleased.

    ‘’Alright!’’ Terry couldn’t help but exclaim that. Normally, he’d probably be unnerved by that sight, but instead he felt a mixture of excitement and joy. This was his power. His and his alone. Now, all he had to do was harness it.

    He made a bit of a slashing gesture, trying to ‘’will’’ the lightning as he did so. With a crack, the bolts gathered to his arm and jumped off towards Ganut…only to phase right through him like all of his other attacks had.

    ‘’Hah, what a priceless look on your face!’’ Ganut called out, gleeful. ‘’Sorry, but you’ll have to do a little more work than that to land a blow on me!’’

    Terry gritted his teeth, trying to keep the resurging feelings of frustrations down. That power was so unfair. There was no way that he could hope to touch someone who could simply hide behind intangibility at will.
    At will? Terry was struck by a thought and quickly flashed back to earlier in the fight, to each time he had seen Ganut’s eyes go blue and use his powers. Never once had it been when he was attacking…

    And so, Terry knew what he must do. He charged blatantly forward, heedless of whatever Ganut could throw at him. He angled his left shoulder forward, catching the brunt of the baton’s inevitable blow. Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt quite as much as Terry had figured it would, but there was no time to dwell on that, as Terry’s other fist was already moving, with his powers electrifying it. With a shout of kiai, his fist made contact with Ganut’s face, resulting in a satisfyingly solid blow and a small burst of electricity. Ganut yet out a cry and was bowled backwards, though he managed to catch himself before falling completely, dropping his baton to the floor.

    ‘’Are you okay?’’ Terry couldn’t help but ask. He did have some genuine concern, as before this he hadn’t considered the effects his power would have on a human body.

    ‘’Yeah, I’m fine.’’ Ganut grumbled as he regained his bearings and signaled towards the observation booth for the demonstrating to end. ‘’It just felt like I got hit with a taser or something…’’ He picked up the baton and used his powers to return it to the strange space inside his body that he originally drawn it from. ‘’I suppose you pass.’’ he said as a buzzer went off and the intercom formally announced the demonstration’s end.

    ‘’I passed…’’ Terry repeated, finding himself looking down at his hands again. Now that the fight was over, thoughts were flooding his mind once again. But this time, they were happy thoughts. He had just experienced his first trial as a Stargazer, and had passed. There would undoubtedly be many more in the future and even more uncertainty ahead that he would have to face, but this win made him feel confident, and even proud.

    He looked up from his thoughts to see Ganut extending his hand. His expression was stern, his face lightly singed from Terry’s attack, but his eyes were sincere. ‘’Good job.’’ he said. ‘’I mean it.’’

    ‘’Thanks..’’ Terry replied, taking the man’s hand and shaking it. ‘’That means a lot to me.’’

    ‘’You have a good head on your shoulders, since you were able to think like that despite the circumstances.’’ Ganut said when they mutually withdrew their hands. ‘’You managed to figure out the limitation to my power rather quickly.’’

    ‘’Heh, it was obvious once I thought about it.’’ Terry replied, allowing himself to grin slightly. ‘’Why don’t you try fixing that?’’

    ‘’I believe I will, kid.’’ Ganut said mildly. He then stood straight, and snapped into a military salute. ‘’You’ve earned my respect. As a fellow Stargazer, I think you’ll go far.’’

    ‘’Heh, I wonder about that.’’ Terry said, scratching the back of his head. ‘’Say, how do you view your powers?’’

    ‘’My powers?’’ Ganut repeated, eyeing Terry with a bit of a quizzical look. ‘’I view them as a skill like any other. One that is to be honed and used as efficiently as possible in the service of my duties, slight as they may be.’’

    ‘’I see.’’ Terry said. He thought back to Gerald’s words in the waiting room. ‘’I don’t know where my came from, or why I was given them, but I think…I think that I’ll make mine my pride.’’


    * * *


    ‘’And there we have it.’’ Gerald said to himself as he watched Terrence and Ganut talking. Ganut acted abrasive because he knew he would get special treatment because he was a Stargazer, so it was rather surprising to see him act so cordial. ‘’What did you think of him?’’ he asked, turning to Seedis.

    ‘’He seemed to grasp the basics of controlling his power rather quickly.’’ Seedis mused, chin resting on her fist. ‘’I’m sure the data will be quite interesting once it’s done being processed. His growth projection in particular should be a fascinating read. Would you like a copy of the results when we’re finished?’’

    ‘’No, that’ll be all right.’’ Gerald replied. He himself, he felt proud. Proud of this young man who had managed to throw off his doubts, who had found an answer amongst the stormy seas that he had been thrust suddenly into. Or at least, he hoped that he had found an answer.

    ‘’He’ll be turned over to my custody once I file that last bit of paperwork, correct?’’ he then said, turning his focus back to his colleague.

    ‘’Yes, that is correct.’’ Seedis answered, looking out into the testing chamber again. ‘’I think he’ll make a fine addition to Trident.''

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  8. #8

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    I only read the first chapter but I feel it's worth noting that there's this unshakeable sense of detachment I have for the characters. Though you may think your description is adequate and truth is, it does allow me to see everything, there's no depth or life to it. I feel like description, rather than being the words that carry the story, have a life of their own just as the characters do. And that life is tied to the characters. Rather than describing how Terry feels have Terry tell us how he feels through your description. Not once should you ever take your mind out of the characters' thoughts. The perceptions we should be seeing should be from their perspective. Even if it's third person, tie the description to the characters and breathe life into them. I'll even provide an example:

    A: It was obvious that, because of the rain, Mike would need an umbrella. Almost instinctively, he reached towards the back of the door without a conscious thought and to his surprise, his umbrella was not there. "How odd." Mike muttered. "This doesn't make any sense."

    B: On a rainy day like this, Mike would instinctively motion his hand to grab the umbrella behind the door. But when he reached out and felt nothing, it came as a major shock. And in this shock all he could mutter was, "How odd". Why wasn't his umbrella there? "This doesn't make any sense."

    ---

    It may seem subtle or perhaps even unnoticeable but B should have preserved the stream of consciousness whereas A somewhat disrupts it. There should be a natural flow between description and dialogue and the way to obtain that flow is to always remain within a character's mindset. The way your story (or at least, chapter 1) is written now, this flow is disrupted because there's a clear line separating description from dialogue. This forces the reader to constantly shift the stream which is something that should never happen. It becomes tedious quickly.

    Also, by always tying description directly to the characters' perspectives you further develop and breathe life into those characters and even the situation and atmosphere. It's all well and good to tell us however someone is feeling but is that enough to provide empathy for that character? The way one engrosses oneself into a story is through understanding how a character feels and dialogue with padded descriptions just plain isn't enough. The descriptions should lend itself to the characters, not take away from them.

    Also, the text is really small. You should knock it up at least one font size.~

    ---

    That aside, you don't truly suffer from any major mistakes. For grammar, I'd recommend controlling any repetition. You never want to say a character's name too many times. For spelling mistakes, just use the in-built spell check that should be available. Structure is fine. And as for everything else, this definitely seems like it's striving to be a novel. You can tell there's a lot of effort placed into it and that's certainly a good thing.~

  9. #9

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Read the third chapter.
    A couple of parts seemed a little cliche, but we're just getting to meet the characters and all that. Plus, as you develop your characters more, you can always go back and hammer in minor details into their dialogue and mannerisms.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 4: Welcomes

    Spoiler:

    Despite the simulation being wrapped up, Terry still wasn’t allowed to leave the facility. The rest of the day consisted of him undergoing yet more tests and physical examinations, all of which he found highly redundant as they were the exact same ones he had already been put through the night before, and they were just as tedious as he remembered. The whole thing made him wonder if someone up the chain of command was taking some kind of twisted pleasure at seeing him suffer like this.

    And so it was much to his relief that on the afternoon of his second day of being kept in he was informed that he was being released and that someone was here to pick him up. After changing back into his own clothes Terry found himself standing outside of the facility’s entrance, in much the same state he had been upon his initial arrival at the train station, a little dazed and unsure of what to do.

    He didn’t have that long to wait, however. As he tried to get his eyesight adjusted to the brightness of the outdoors, he heard the sound of a horn honking as a car exited the busy street ahead and swung into the parking lot before finally pulling up in front of him. The driver rolled the window down, and a familiar voice came out to address him.

    ‘’It’s me. How are you?’’ Gerald Centone asked as he leaned out of the window. ‘’Get in, I’m here to take you to your new home.’’

    ‘’Thanks.’’ Terry said before going around and opening the passenger-side door. He tossed his bag in and then climbed in himself into the empty seat waiting for him. As he got in, he got a good look at Gerald and was taken aback a bit by his appearance. When he had met him the other night, the older man had been wearing a causal gray business suit, and as such that had gone a ways towards influencing Terry’s first impression of him. Now he was wearing a casual T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of some local sports team, Terry assumed. Just goes to show that people tend to have more sides to them than is usually first apparent, he thought to himself.

    Gerald, meanwhile, glanced back to check to see if Terry was all set. ‘’You’re all buckled in? Good.’’ He revved up the idling engine and his car began to move forward, making for the exit back to the main road. ‘’I’ve arranged for your transfer to a new dorm.’’ he began to explain as he waited for an opportunity to turn. ‘’It’s a special one. ‘Officially’, it’s for students with special backgrounds, but in reality it serves as a base for Trident. As I told you before, you’ll be living with the other two Stargazer members, Akira and Theodore.’’

    ‘’An entire dorm building for only three people?’’ Terry asked, gazing out the window as they began to drive down the road proper. It was taking them past a series of public-looking buildings and offices, and in the distance he could see a bridge stretching off towards the south over a large river. ‘’That sounds kinda wasteful.’’

    ‘’You three won’t be the only ones there, of course.’’ Gerald began to explain as he turned on his blinkers to switch lanes. ‘’My own nephew, Daniel Centone, will be there as well. He helps me in processing paperwork and other logistics for Lifeline. In fact, he’ll be starting at Marine Cove Academy next week as well.

    ‘’In addition to him there are a few administrative personnel, since Stargazer or no, we can’t leave teenagers living unsupervised.’’ he continued. ‘’And in the event that someone else joins Trident, they will move in as well, so I assure you that things won’t be lonely.’’

    That wasn’t too bad, Terry supposed to himself. He already had a decent grasp on Akira’s personality, or at least he thought he did, so they’d surely continue to get along. As for the other two Mr. Gerald had mentioned, he’d have to just go in there and see what they would be like. While meeting new people for the first time could oftentimes be awkward, especially for those whom he’d be seeing every day and be sharing his life with, Terry was secretly glad that he had been given this opportunity, being that this city was completely foreign to him and that now he would be with people that he had at least one thing in common with to relate to and become friends with. That would be worth something, at the very least.

    While he was thinking of all of that he had gone silent, and Gerald was trying to keep conversation going. ‘’So, how was it exactly that you came to learn how to fight like that?’’ he decided to ask. ‘’Did you take lessons?’’

    ‘’Oh, well, after my uncle said that I should learn, I started to study martial arts when I was eleven.’’ Terry began to answer as he gazed out at the river that they were now crossing.

    ‘’Like judo or tae-kwon-do?’’

    ‘’Not exactly.’’ Terry said, thinking back to his years of study. ‘’I did a lot of reading and practice of things covering self-defense, ways to train reflexes, the proper way to throw and take blows, that sort of thing. I didn’t want to restrict myself to just one fighting style since they all have their limitations, so I basically just sampled various bits from a handful of different ones.’’

    ‘’So you’re more freestyle then.’’ Gerald observed. ‘’Hm, I wish I had a hobby that I could’ve put to practical use when I was your age.’’

    ‘’Well, I never thought that I’d be applying them like this.’’ Terry admitted. ‘’A lot of it was to challenge myself and stay in shape. I wasn’t expecting to ever have to seriously fight outside of a sporting setting.’’

    He looked out the window again. They were almost across the bridge and beginning to enter the south side of the city. Terry could see the tall skyscrapers of the north side falling away in the distance as the scenery gave way to lower-rise, more residential buildings and smaller businesses. It would seem that the economic, political, and main industrial centers of Marine Cove was on the north side of the river, while the residential, social, and recreational centers lay on the south side.

    That wasn’t to say that the south side was insignificant by comparison. Before they returned to normal street level Terry could see that it extended quite a ways both east and west. Along the bank he could see an arborway path dotted with trees and people trying to taking advantage of the last few days of summer before the cool September air fully took hold over the city. He couldn’t see all the way down to the ocean bay that the river flowed into, but he was pretty certain that the city extended east all the way down the shoreline, and almost certainly went on further south for numerous miles, even if the buildings thinned out the further they got from the downtown.

    Once they were finally over the bridge Gerald began to pull away from the main road that they had been on and over onto a slower one that connected to the main traffic grid. ‘’How much further is it to the dorm?’’ Terry asked as he turned back to face forward.

    ‘’It shouldn’t take much longer providing the traffic is good.’’ Gerald told him as the car eased to a stop for a red light. ‘’When we get there I’ll give you some time to settle in. Why don’t afterwards I treat you to something to eat? I doubt that the food you’ve been eating here has been very filling.’’ he offered. ‘’Oh, and if Akira or Daniel are around, I can invite them as well and you can get acquainted.’’

    ‘’Thanks.’’ Terry said, his stomach suddenly feeling very empty and impatient now that he was thinking of food. ‘’I haven’t had a solid meal since before I came to this city.’’

    ‘’That’s good to hear.’’

    After what was probably around thirteen minutes of navigating the busy streets they reached a new section of town that was clearly residential. The streets were narrower and less busy than the main ones, lined with brick sidewalks and old brick apartment buildings complete with greenery blocked off by cast-iron fences, giving the neighborhood the air of being well-to-do.

    Gerald turned on to another road and began looking for a parking spot on the side of the road. Finding one, he smoothly maneuvered the vehicle into a parallel parking space. ‘’We’re here.’’ he announced. ‘’The dorm’s only a few steps away.’’

    They got out and took those few steps, bringing them in front of the building that was to be Terry’s new home. It was three floors high, making it roughly a story shorter than most of the other buildings neighboring it, and made out of beige-tinted brick. Judging from the style of architecture, Terry estimated that it was anywhere from fifty to eighty years old, possibly a little more.

    ‘’Unlike the normal dorms, which were built specifically for the students, this one used to be an old apartment building.’’ Gerald explained as he stepped towards the stairs leading up to the door, out of the flow of pedestrians, and gestured for Terry to do the same. ‘’It may be an old building, but we’ve done some extensive renovations on it.’’ he added. ‘’I think you’ll find it rather nice. Come on.’’

    He led Terry up the steps leading to the entrance. The ornately-handled door looked just as old as the rest of the building, which left the electronic card reader set into the wall next to it look incredibly out of place. Gerald held his ID card up to it and there was the click of the lock unbolting. Through the door was a small lounge area, complete with a table and several sofas, opposite a security desk staffed by a bored-looking police officer. Terry was reminded of the hotel lobbies that he had seen on TV, and following the upholstered floor he could see that the far end of the room branched off into two separate hallways, with a stairwell to the upper two floors located at the splitting point.

    While he was looking around, Gerald had gone over to the security officer to exchange a few words and returned with an envelope in hand which he turned over to his temporary charge. Within was a key and an ID card, which Terry noticed was using a picture that had been taken of him at the research facility earlier this afternoon. ‘’The key to your room and your student ID.’’ Gerald explained. ‘’The ID will let you into the building, as well as allow you to ride the city’s public transportation for free once the school semester starts.’’

    Terry turned over the key to see that there was a number inscribed in its head. ‘’What’s this?’’ he asked.

    ‘’That’s your room number.’’ Gerald told him. ‘’Do you need help finding it?’’

    Terry shook his head. ‘’No, I think I can handle that one on my own.’’

    ‘’Alright then.’’ Gerald straightened up in an authoritarian manner. ‘’I’ll be taking my leave, then. Get yourself settled in, and I’ll be back in about an hour.’’

    ‘’And one more thing.’’ He extended his hand, and his aged face took on an apologetic look. ‘’Thank you for putting up with all of this.’’ He extended his hand.

    ‘’And thank you for looking out for me.’’ Terry replied with a little smile, shaking the older man’s hand. ‘’I really appreciate it.’’

    With that, they parted ways, and it was time for Terry to get himself moved in. Since the first number on his key was a 2, he first headed up to the second floor in search of his room. Once up there, he found that the hallway ran lengthwise through the floor, with six rooms on each side of the hall. His own room ended up being at the opposite side from the stairwell, at the front of the building. He unlocked the door, and stepped inside what would be his new home.

    The room, he discovered, was actually a little bigger than the one he had had back home. The bed, currently bare, was located directly across from the door, underneath one of two windows that overlooked an alley. At its foot sat the rest of Terry’s luggage that had been shipped separately from him. At the right side of the room was a writing desk which was illuminated by dusty sunbeams filtering through the half-shaded windows that were overlooking the street below. A decent-sized dresser and bookshelf were set against the near wall, and on the left side of the room was a closet and a cramped bathroom unit. After he was done going around and opening all of the drawers and doors that he could to see what was in them, Terry returned to the center of the room and gave it one last sweeping appraisal. Well, he thought, it was a little barren at the moment, but once he got everything put away made the bed, and maybe even buy some other decorations he was confident that he could make it a cozy little living space. Well, he’d better at any rate, given that this would be his primary home for at least the next three years.

    With first impressions taken care of he began to go about the arduous, but necessary, task of unpacking everything. He was starting to unpack and sort his clothes when he heard a light knock on the half-open door and turned to find none other than Akira standing in the doorway. ‘’Yo.’’ he said, raising a hand in greeting. ‘’I heard someone moving out in the hall and thought to check it out. So you’re one of us now, huh?’’

    ‘’Looks that way.’’ Terry said as he began to fold the clothes that he had unpacked before laying them out for sorting. He hadn’t been thinking about it, but now that he was face-to-face with Akira Gerald revealing that he was a Stargazer as well came drifting back to him. He still found it a little difficult to imagine that he had been hiding something like that when they first met.

    Akira, meanwhile, strode slowly over to where Terry was and leaned against one of the bedposts. ‘’So…’’ he began, his tone a lot more serious than it had been before. ‘’How are you holding up?’’

    ‘’Well, at first things hadn’t really sunk in yet, and I suppose I was simply confused.’’ Terry began to reply. ‘’I wasn’t all that wild about being thrown into this thing either, you know, the fighting that we’ll probably have to do.

    ‘’But then I thought, ‘I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with my life, so maybe this will help give me some answers.’ Plus, Mr. Gerald seems to be looking out for me, and he said that I should view my powers as something to be proud of, so that’s what I’m going to do; make them into something that I can take pride in.’’

    That was most of it, anyway. He did have another reason or two, but he didn’t want to share it. Instead, he turned to Akira and looking him fully in the eyes. ‘’How was it with you?’’

    ‘’Oh, I suppose Mr. Centone told you all about me, huh?’’ Akira scratched his head as he thought back. ‘’I became a Stargazer four years ago. I was back home, playing baseball with some of my friends.’’ he began to explain, looking up at the ceiling as his mind drifted back.

    ‘’And you got hit in the head with the ball?’’

    ‘’Ha, no.’’ Akira said, unaffected by the snark. ‘’I hit what should have been a fly-out, but I managed to push the ball a little further so that it wasn’t caught.’’

    Terry gave him a slightly incredulous aside glance. ‘’You used your powers for that?’’

    ‘’Hey, it was subconscious; I had no control over it.’’ Akira insisted.

    ‘’Actually, I’m curious. What are your powers anyway?’’ Terry asked. ‘’Mr. Gerald told me that you were a Sagittarius.’’

    ‘’Yep, that’s right.’’ Akira said pleasantly, nodding. ‘’I can control air currents.’’ He went over to one of the windows that overlooked the street below and fully raised the shade. ‘’Let me show you. See that guy across the street with that hat on?’’

    ‘’Yeah, I see him.’’ Terry said as he came up behind Akira, peering around him to see the person who he was talking about.

    ‘’Watch.’’ Akira leaned forward, nose almost touching the pane as he focused intently on his target. There was a whooshing noise and the pane rattled a bit as a gust of wind swept the street below, kicking up dust and dirt, ruffling the leaves of the planted trees and blowing the man’s hat off, sending him scurrying after it.

    ‘’Cute.’’ Terry commented simply and started to go back to his sorting. ‘’So how did you end up here?’’

    ‘’Well, my power’s pretty easy to hide, as long as no one sees my eyes.’’ Akira began to answer, now leaning against the windowsill. ‘’The third day after I came to this city was really hot, so I was using my powers to cool myself down, and well, I guess someone saw me. Before I knew it I was being carried off in a van just like we were the other night. Pretty careless, huh?’’

    Terry threw him another incredulous aside glance. He made to say something, but ultimately thought better. To be honest, that didn’t come as that big of a shock to him. Akira had struck him as someone who was half in his own world. Someone who wasn’t really clueless, but was energetic and didn’t always have as much common sense as he could.

    ‘’But hey,’’ Akira was continuing. ‘’I’m grateful that I was able to meet some good people because of it.’’

    ‘’How do you view your powers?’’ Terry asked him.

    ‘’How?’’ Akira repeated. He pursed his lips as he thought. ‘’A challenge.’’ he said at last. ‘’An opportunity to test my skills. That’s why I agreed to join Trident.’’

    ‘’I see.’’ Terry said. So Ganut had viewed his powers as a tool, while Akira viewed them as a challenge to meet. Something to think more about later, for he still had some questions for Akira.

    ‘’What about the other guy that Mr. Gerald told me about?’’ he asked as he finished his sorting and began to set about the task of putting them away. ‘’Theodore, I think was his name. What’s he like?’’

    ‘’Oh, you mean Nova.’’ Akira said.

    ‘’Nova?’’ Terry repeated.

    ‘’Yeah, that’s what we call him.’’ Akira tilted his head a bit and made a slight face. ‘’I don’t know why he’s called that, though. It just sort of happened. I haven’t seen him around much actually. I think he’s living with his family somewhere in the city. But he’s not very…’’ He paused, his brow furrowed. ‘’Oh what’s the word…personable, I think it is. I don’t know what his power is, either.’’

    ‘’Say, after you’re done here, want me to show you around the place?’’ he then suggested after a little pause. ‘’I think Daniel’s somewhere around here too, though I don’t like dealing with him for too long.’’

    ‘’Yeah, that’ll be fine.’’ Terry said. ‘’Actually, Mr. Gerald said that he was going to come back and take us out to eat somewhere.’’

    ‘’Did he? Awesome.’’ Akira said, face brightening at the prospect. ‘’I first thought that this Stargazer business would be all serious and…authoritative, I think it is, but Mr. Centone works hard to help us feel at home and comfortable. I’m grateful.’’

    ‘’So am I.’’ Terry agreed.

    It took him a little while to finish putting most of his clothes and toiletries away and make his bed, since Akira wasn’t exactly jumping up to help. He still had some other odds and ends to organize such as books and office supplies, but those could wait for another time. As promised, Akira gave him a little tour of the building.

    The first thing he showed Terry was his own room, located just down the hall. Since he had been living here for a longer period of time than Terry, his was already decorated and much more full than Terry’s own. Right inside the door was a small mat where he kept his shoes when he was inside, which he explained was a custom from his home as he had Terry take his own off while inside. In the center on the floor was a mat with several seating cushions, and to one side sat a television with a video game console hooked up to it. Hanging from the wall was a scroll with what Terry assumed was an inspirational word or saying written in Oriental script. His bookshelf had a few books and manuals in it, and sitting next to it was medium-sized cardboard box with manga volumes stacked inside. The sheets on the bed hadn’t been straightened since the morning, and there were a few minor things strewn on the floor. While Terry preferred his own things to be keep neatly, he didn’t mind the messier aspects of Akira’s room. It showed character.

    Since there was nothing to see on the third floor but mostly-unoccupied rooms, Akira decided to skip it and take Terry down to the first floor to show what he hadn’t seen during his brief time there before. Beyond the lounge and the security desk was a small dining area set with two tables and a handful of chairs, connected to it was a moderately-sized kitchen, where Akira explained that each week a shipment of food was delivered and a hired chef would come in each day to prepare the day’s meals, though they themselves were free to make their own meals if they were so inclined.

    After pointing out the mailboxes, laundry room, and a few administrative offices, the last place Akira showed Terry was the recreation room. It contained a pool table, a vending machine for both drinks and snack food, several really comfortable-looking couches, a large flat-screen plasma TV, and a glasses-wearing boy who was reading a book.

    ‘’Hey Daniel.’’ Akira said when he took note of him, his voice losing some of the energy that it had previously held.

    Daniel looked up from what he was reading. ‘’Oh, hello.’’ he said, blinking in surprise. ‘’I was so absorbed in this I didn’t hear you come in.’’ His gaze moved from Akira to Terry, where he began to scrutinize the newcomer. ‘’You’re…the third member, right? You must be.’’

    ‘’That’s right.’’ Terry said, nodding. ‘’I’m Terrence Eaves, but you can call – ‘’

    Daniel suddenly jumped up from where he had been sitting, his brightening considerable and he grabbed Terry’s hand. ‘’It’s very nice to meet you!’’ he said, pumping Terry’s hand enthusiastically. ‘’I’ve heard about you! You’re a Gemini Stargazer and you’ll be helping us in our struggle, right?’’

    ‘’Hey, you’re not the one who’s going to actually be fighting, you know.’’ Akira put in, a bit sourly.

    ‘’Come on, we’re all part of this.’’ Daniel insisted, turning his attention back to Akira and giving Terry’s arm a rest. ‘’It’s important that we all learn to foster a sense of camaraderie, yes?’’

    ‘’Alright, alright.’’ Terry said, trying to deflect the conversation from the path it was sure to follow. ‘’It’s my first day, I don’t want to start things off on the wrong foot with us getting into an argument, you know?’’

    ‘’You’re right.’’ Daniel admitted, adjusting his glasses in a manner similar to how his uncle tended to. ‘’I apologize for not introducing myself properly. I am Daniel Centone, Gerald Centone’s nephew, and my job will be to help provide logistical support during your missions.’’

    ‘’Your uncle entrusted you with that?’’ Terry asked. ‘’Mine sure wouldn’t trust me with something like this.’’

    ‘’Well, I am good with numbers and research,’’ Daniel said, in a tone that suggested he was trying to downplay himself. ‘’But I believe his real motive towards taking me on was so that there was another teenager here at Trident to keep you company.’’

    Akira began to open his mouth to say something, something no doubt snarky, but Terry wasn’t paying attention to him. So these were the folks that he was going to be working and living with. Akira was energetic and cheerful, if a little clumsy and lacking in discretion maybe, and Daniel struck him as being very bright and eager to please, if a bit overly-formal and bit of an over-achiever perhaps, Terry thought. But his first impressions were that they were all good people, and that they would all get along well, with perhaps a little bit of vitriol every now and again, just like all friends did.

    He was left wondering though, what exactly Theodore, or Nova as he was apparently called, was like.


    * * *


    As night slowly began to fall across the city and both the north and south sides began to light up, a figure moved through one of the South Side’s less glamorous neighborhoods, aiming for a certain apartment building. This one was dark, and vacant. It had been condemned and scheduled for demolition some time in the past, yet like so many things that order had fallen into red tape limbo, and now was fenced off and boarded up, sitting there as silent and grim as a tombstone marker. Mostly, that is, for in recent times it was no longer abandoned, as its basement and storage level had been secretly taken over by the Beings, one of the street gangs of the city looking to become top dog.

    The individual walked along the graffiti-covered partitions surrounding the building until he found the secret loose panels he was looking for. Making sure that no one was in sight to see him, he quietly moved the panel, emblazoned with an ironic ‘’no trespassing’’ warning, to the side and crept through the gap and then replaced the panel to its original place. With his entrance to the grounds complete, he sought out one of the ground-floor windows, covered by similarly-faulty boards, and slipped inside the dark, dusty building.

    As the gang member descended to the lower levels the sound of voices began to reach his ears, growing louder and louder until he reached his destination. In this well-sized room, formerly for storage, dimly-lit by rechargeable bulbs strung from the ceiling by hooks, a handful of other roughly-looking gang members were lounging around on roughly-conditioned furniture, talking and joking amongst themselves in low voiced tones.

    ‘’Hey, Trigger’s back!’’ someone called.

    Trigger went to the back of the room, acknowledging the other members that called out to him as he went by. He had something important to report. At the back, lounging on a large leather sofa was their leader, Deck, a well-built man wearing a heavy brown leather jacket and a yellow bandana wrapped around his head. Accompanying him was a girl whom he had his arm around, and a rather uncomfortable-looking guy wearing a tank top. Beside them stood the large, imposing Tank, who was effectively Deck’s second in command. Trigger nodding in respect as he approached this group. ‘’I’m back.’’

    ‘’And how did things go?’’ Deck asked as he removed the sunglasses he almost always wore to scrutinize his subordinate. His tone was pleasant, but everyone knew that he was someone that you absolutely did not want to get on the wrong side with.

    ‘’It looks like your hunch was right.’’ Trigger reported. ‘’I staked that place out all day, and I saw that kid people say is the new Stargazer going in and out of that building several times.’’

    ‘’So it’s true after all.’’ the uncomfortable-looking person sitting with Deck said. ‘’Now they’ll start coming after us in full force.’’

    ‘’Don’t be so defeatist, Raker.’’ Deck waved. ‘’I’ve had ears all over the city. We’ve been facing this possibility ever since Nova left us. It’s why we have those backup plans in place.’’ He pocketed his shades and bent down to pick up a handful of magnetic darts that were lying on the floor and took aim at a dartboard that was stuck to a pillar. ‘’And even if they have three Stargazers, it doesn’t matter.’’ He let the dart fly, and it struck the board about two inches left of the center.

    ‘’I’m this close,’’ He put his thumb and pointer finger together to illustrate. ‘’This close to sealing the deal that’ll let us rule these streets. Neither the cops or their pet Stargazers will want to mess with us.’’

    ‘’Man, I dunno.’’ Raker muttered. ‘’That chick, she’s…’’

    ‘’Ooh, you’re trying to get another girl?’’ the girl at Deck’s side said in a playfully whiny tone. ‘’Am I not good enough for you?’’

    ‘’Haha, you know I wouldn’t do that.’’ Deck said, patting her shoulder.

    ‘’That woman scares me, to be honest.’’ someone else in the room said. ‘’They say she’s a total psycho. You hear what she did to those guys from the Sunport district? I heard they couldn’t even be recognized after she was done with them!’’

    ‘’And that’ll be the advantage.’’ Deck said, stroking his goatee. ‘’See, she’s different from us. We’ve got our morals, and never go too far, right? No one will want to mess with us with her on our side, because they’ll know that she’s got no restraint.’’

    Raker was still highly wary. ‘’I still dunno ‘bout this.’’ he said, rather timidly. ‘’What if she turns on us?’’

    ‘’In that case we’ll have to take her out, plain and simple.’’ Deck let a second dart fly, this one landing a little closer to the bullseye. ‘’But as I’ve said before, don’t worry about this. For now, we should be taking measures against a raid.’’ He looked up to address all of those assembled. ‘’Tomorrow morning everyone, get word out to all the boys who aren’t here that we’re closing up shop and going with our contingency plan, and keep an ear out at the usual places until we get more info.’’

    There was a host of acknowledgements from the rest of the room and Deck sat himself back down and picked up a third dart. ‘’What are you gonna do about the Stargazers?’’ Trigger asked.

    ‘’What am I going to do? Simple.’’ Deck said. ‘’With the exception of Nova, they’re all amateurs, probably lived cushy little lives before this completely free from danger.’’ He let the final dart fly, and it landed dead center in the bullseye.

    He smirked, and his expression became one of someone relishing a moment that was yet to come. ‘’I want to see what they’re made of, and give them a nice, friendly gift to welcome them into the world of Stargazers.’’

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hm, even with some extensive rewriting, I'm not totally satisfied with the material towards the end there. I think one of my weaknesses is winding a scene down to its conclusion in a manner that doesn't feel abrupt.

    The next chapter has a fair bit of worldbuilding info-dumping, so I'm having fun writing that.
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  11. #11

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Just putting a placeholder post here. I'll be able to review tomorrow (I don't like it when it looks like I'm ignoring other stories).

  12. #12

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    The ending doesn't feel abrupt at all.
    In fact, unless there's some grammar mistakes or whatever that I'm missing, I was highly pleased with this chapter.
    The other chapters were fine, but this one really makes it feels like the show's getting on the road. I'm looking forward to more.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    And finally, here it is, chapter 5.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 5: Marine Cove Pre-Collegiate Academy
    Spoiler:

    Even after he had moved in to the dorm, there was still much for Terry to do in the week leading up to his first day at Marine Cover Academy. He had to arrange to rent textbooks through the school, get fitted for a uniform, and handle a few other clerical odds and ends as well. Luckily for him, Akira and Daniel were also going through the same process, so if he ever ran into a problem or something else that stumped him, he had others to fall back on.

    For their part, Akira and Daniel had taken it upon themselves to help show him around the parts of the city that they knew. Where the best places to eat were, where the best stores were, where the good places to just hang out were. Daniel was a better guide than Akira was, and occasionally they got lost without him, but it was a good experience, for that way they discovered some little gems hidden in places that they would not have found otherwise.

    And then the day finally came. On that Monday, September 8th, Terry was awoken early in the morning by his alarm. After shutting it off he lay in bed for a few more minutes before finally dragging himself up out of it, still half-asleep, and managed to stumble over to his bathroom to take a quick shower. Afterwards he was feeling more awake, which would serve him well for the challenge of donning his uniform.

    His school back home hadn’t required a uniform, so all he needed to do was throw on some clothes that he had had laid out and be out the door without much hassle. Not so with this uniform. It consisted of a white button-down with gray dress pants, a black-and-silver-striped tie, a belt and dress shoes, and finally a navy-blue blazer. The whole thing brought to his mind, appropriately enough, the old boarding schools in Kingland one would read about, and here he was, attending one.

    It took him nearly three times longer than it normally would have to get dressed in this getup, and afterwards Terry had to gather up the books he’d need into his bag and also stow away a gym outfit in another bag. When all was said and done, his his load was rather heavy, but he’d be able to store some of this stuff at school, he hoped. He slung his bags over his shoulder and grabbed whatever else he thought he’d need. He stepped outside of his room into the more brightly-lit hallway, and just down the way he could see that Akira was emerging from his own room as well.

    ‘’Morning.’’ Akira said, still sounding a little sleepy as they met up. ‘’How’re you?’’

    ‘’I feel overdressed.’’ Terry replied, fingering his blazer’s lapels as if for emphasis.

    ‘’Eh, I’m used to it.’’ Akira replied. ‘’The uniforms aren’t much different from some of the stuff my school back home made us wear. The schedule’s what’s throwing me off. Back home, the school year starts in the spring…’’

    The two went down to the dining room next, exchanging a few bits of small talk as they went. There they found Daniel already there, munching on some toast from a breakfast food spread that had been set out. ‘’Good morning.’’ he said as the other two came in. Unlike them, he didn’t sound tired in the least. ‘’I see you’re all up and ready.’’

    ‘’Yeah.’’ Akira muttered, going over to the table and picking out a bagel from it. ‘’Still used to sleeping in, though.’’

    ‘’Where’s Nova, by the way?’’ Terry asked as he picked out his own food. ‘’I haven’t seen him at all since I moved in.’’

    ‘’Ah, I suppose he must still be at his own home then.’’ Daniel said. ‘’I’ve met him before though, and he’s a responsible person, so he’ll definitely show up at school. Maybe we’ll run into him there.’’

    ‘’Knowing him, I doubt it.’’ Akira muttered as he took a bite of his food. ‘’I think he’s avoiding us or something.’’

    ‘’Maybe.’’ Daniel said, actually agreeing with Akira for once. ‘’I don’t know, I’m sure he has his reasons for not being here with us.’’

    ‘’How long does it take to get to school from here, anyway?’’ Terry asked, grabbing a Styrofoam cup to get a drink from.

    ‘’It’s only about a fifteen minute ride on the monorail.’’ Daniel answered. ‘’Actually, we should start moving now if we want to get there with enough time to spare.’’

    ‘’Yeah, yeah.’’ Akira said as he popped the last of his bagel into his mouth before picking up his briefcase-like schoolbag. ‘’I’m ready to go.’’

    The early morning outdoor air was a little chilly, due to the cool September air starting to set in and the fact that their uniform blazers hadn’t been designed to hold in all that much warmth. It was much quieter outside than it had been in previous days, as at this time most people were either still asleep or just getting started with their day, though the distant sound of rush hour traffic on the main road could still just manage to reach Terry’s ears. The monorail station was located not far from their home street, and once they reached the elevated platform Terry could recognize two other students waiting amongst the crowd wearing uniforms just like theirs.

    As they waited, mostly silent, once again Terry couldn’t help but think how different things were in the city from what he had known. Back home his trips to school had only required a short eight minute walk down a simple suburban street, and the passerby would know who you were and greet you as you walked by. In the city things were much more impersonal; people passed by without a second thought, more absorbed in whatever they were involved with or where they needed to go than pay attention to those around them.

    The ride on the monorail actually took a little less than the fifteen minutes that Daniel had said it would. As soon as they stepped out on to the street, Terry could see a few seagulls drifting in the air above and hear their cries, and thus could surmise that they were near the water. Sure enough, he could see the buildings starting to thin out ahead to the north, and with a few prompts from Daniel, he and Akira spied their destination, a stone bridge marked up ahead at the edge of the block, and the tiny dots of people traversing it.

    ‘’The Academy was built on an artificial island in the middle of a small bay, see?’’ Daniel explained to the two. ‘’Come on, you’ll see.’’

    While it wasn’t all that apparent from the station, as they got closer they could indeed see that the shoreline of the river lay ahead, and that yes, the bridge did connect to a relatively sizable island given the location. The bridge itself was about fifty yards long, and a steady stream of students were making their way across, the boys in their blazers and ties, while the girls wore a simpler blazer, pleated skirts that fell to just above the knee, and in place of ties had a navy blue piece of ribbon tied into a knot at their collars. At the other end of the bridge the paved pathway, lined by well-manicured bushes, continued until it reached the front steps of the main school building and branched off to go around it. Looking out to the left or right treated students to a view of the shoreline and river.

    Terry could see that the school was about four stories high, with the front of the building being lower than the rest. It was an off-yellow color, with large windows to let in plenty of light. Right before the stairway was a stone archway supported by Hellas-style columns, and in the center was installed a fancy clock and below that, hewn into the stone, was the full name of the school and the date of its founding. Terry was a little surprised to see that it was only around fifty years old, since judging from the way people had talked about it and the language used on some of the application forms, he had assumed it to be at least three times that age. Regardless, it was certainly much grander than the single-story high school that Terry had known.

    ‘’This feels weird.’’ Akira was saying as Terry was taking the view in. ‘’Back home when we would start the trees would be flowering with their petal blowing through the air… Just doesn’t feel right without that.’’

    ‘’Well, soon the leaves will turn and fall, if that helps.’’ Terry replied as he continued to look around the courtyard. ‘’Oh hey, is that a map?’’

    And indeed, there was one installed by the side of the pathway that a handful of students were gathered around. The three went over to join them, and just as Daniel had said, they were indeed on an island located in the center of a bay which looked like someone had taken a big scoop out of the river’s shoreline. The grounds were rather expansive, as in addition to the main school building there was a physical education center located to the east, just visible from where they were, and behind the school buildings was a grassy commons area containing two scaled-down baseball diamonds, a soccer/football field, and a free recreational area. Through all of this snaked the pathways.

    Directly through the school doors was a rather impressive-sized lobby, brightly lit thanks to a skylight set above. In the back was an entrance to the cafeteria, as well as a stairwell than led upwards to the bulk of the school building. There were a few other corridors off to the sides, but Terry couldn’t know where those led.
    For now, the main attraction here was a series of three electronic bulletin boards set in the wall to the right, listing the student roster by year and which homeroom each student belonged in. Terry, Akira, and Daniel had to wade their way through the crowd of students already surrounding them to get close enough to read the tiny font on the display screens and find their names.

    ‘’I’m in class 3-12.’’ Terry managed to tell the others once he found his, having to raise his voice to be heard over the omnipresent rumbling and buzz of all of the students around him. ‘’You guys?’’ he asked as they stepped back from the mob.

    ‘’I’m 3-26.’’ Daniel reported.

    ‘’I’m actually in 3-12 too.’’ Akira said as he scratched the back of his head. ‘’At least, if I read that right.’’

    ‘’I would have been nice if we were all in the same class, but I guess it’s lucky that you two are in together.’’ Daniel lamented a bit. ‘’Oh well, we’ll still be seeing plenty of each other. I’m going to go look around for a bit before homeroom starts, so see you guys later.’’

    They said farewell and he departed. Terry and Akira decided that they should get moving as well. While there were some faculty members and upperclassmen on hand to direct any potentially-lost students, the two were confident that they could find their room on their own. It really wasn’t too difficult. In addition to the crowds thinning out a bit once they were off the stairs, they layout of the building wasn’t too complicated. The ground floor of the building appeared to be mostly administrative, with the actual classrooms starting on the misleadingly-named first floor above. Each floor seemed to have a total of thirty rooms per floor, though not all of the marked rooms were classrooms, spread out between two hallways on either side of the building. Lockers were set into the walls by the homerooms, something else that Akira found a little odd since the schools he was used to had them located near the entrance.

    Class 3-26 was on the third – actually fourth – floor. ‘’Geez, walking up all these stairs first time in the morning each day is really going to be a pain…’’ Akira was muttering as they finally stepped through the classroom’s door. ‘’So what do we have here?’’ The classroom was moderately sized, with exactly twenty student desks laid out, six rows of three and one of two at the front, with the teacher’s desk on a raised section of the floor at the head of the room.

    ‘’Is that an electronic touchboard?’’ Terry commented as he looked at the whiteboard behind the teacher’s desk. ‘’Fancy stuff.’’ There still weren’t all that many students present, and thanks to the unfamiliarity that came with the first day of school coupled with it still being the early morning, there wasn’t really any discussion amongst those who were.

    The two decided to snag two empty desks on the other side of the room by the windows, from which they could see out across the grounds to the physical education center. ‘’This is so awkward.’’ Terry said as he tried to settle into his desk, acutely aware of how his voice carried in the mostly-silent classroom despite his efforts to contain it. ‘’I hope we don’t get stuck with a real bad teacher, you know?’’

    ‘’I hear you.’’ Akira said, nodding. ‘’My math teacher last year, Houtsuin-sensei, was a real bastard. We came up with so many names for him…’’ His voice started to trail off as a new girl came into the classroom and took a seat a little in front of them. She looked around and saw that there was company already seated behind her. ‘’Oh, hi.’’ she said, a touch of both nervousness and timidness to her voice as she fiddled with the brim of the shapeless white hat that she was wearing.

    ‘’Hey, I’m Terry.’’ Terry said, raising his hand slightly in greeting. It was best, he reasoned, to leave a good first impression, especially for a girl.

    ‘’And I’m Akira, his roommate at one of the dorms.’’ Akira piped in.

    ‘’Oh, well, I’m Karen.’’ the girl said. From the tone of her voice, it was clear that she hadn’t planned on carrying the conversation past her initial greeting, but at the same time a look of curiosity came over her face. ‘’You two aren’t from here?’’

    Terry shook his head in response. ‘’Nah, I’m from Severstone, out west.’’

    ‘’And I’m from Daiokuni.’’ Akira put in again. ‘’Though, I guess the rest of the world calls it Kamagura after the island, right?’’

    ‘’Lucky.’’ Karen sighed a little bit. ‘’I’ve never been out of the state, let alone the country.’’

    ‘’Well, I’m sure there’s a lot here in the city.’’ Terry reasoned. ‘’I’ve only been here a week, and already I’ve encountered so much stuff I’ve never seen or heard of before.’’ In more ways than one, he thought to himself, grimacing a little inside.

    ‘’Yeah, I guess you would say that, if you were new here.’’ Karen said. ‘’This is the biggest city on this coast, but I’ve lived here all my life, and eventually everything just becomes part of the routine, you know?’’

    ‘’Well,’’ Akira began. ‘’I’m sure one could say that for anything that they’re familiar with. I mean, when I first came here a month ago I was a little lost and overwhelmed, but now I’ve got a better hang of things, the city doesn’t feel quite as unfamiliar, though I know there’s a lot to it that I haven’t seen yet.’’

    ‘’I suppose.’’ Karen said, not sounding all that convinced. ‘’What’s it like where you guys came from?’’

    ‘’It’s nice.’’ Akira said, before Terry could speak. ‘’It’s in the hills, so the view’s great, and there are lots of paths to hike on, with nice little shrines dotting them here and there. It can get kind of muggy and humid during the summer, but there are some small local festivals to attend at night that are nice, and during the day just walking or biking around in the suburbs is pretty fun and relaxing. Everything’s all quiet and still with everyone at work, save for the old housewives and the kids on their break.’’

    ‘’Yeah, my town’s quiet too.’’ Terry picked up. ‘’It got its start thanks to being near a train depot. It’s pretty quiet now, mostly. There’re some mountains nearby that I used to explore when I was a kid, and the view of the sky is great at night.’’ He leaned back in his chair a bit to gaze up at the ceiling. ‘’That’s one of the biggest things I miss here.’’ he said. ‘’You can’t really stargaze in a big city.’’

    ‘’So which dorm are you two in?’’ Karen then asked. ‘’It’s pretty neat that you two ended up rooming together.’’

    There were three dorms for non-local residents located across the South Side, so Terry mentally picked one of them and was about to speak, but Akira managed to beat him to the punch, and not in a way that Terry welcomed. ‘’Oh, we’re not in one of the normal dorms.’’ he said cheerfully, forging on ahead with reckless abandon much to Terry’s alarm. ‘’We get bigger rooms than normal, private bathrooms, and a whole bunch of other perks. Thankfully he wasn’t talking loud enough to broadcast everything to the rest of the class, but him giving away hints to their secret was the absolute last thing that they needed.

    ‘’Really? How’d you get into that?’’ Karen asked, her eyebrows raised a bit. ‘’I hadn’t heard of a special dorm. Are you really rich, or part of a special scholarship or something?’’

    ‘’Well…’’ Akira finally caught the surreptitious death glare that Terry was sending him out of the corner of his eye, the mental equivalent of a kick to the shins. ‘’I guess you could say that. To the last one.’’ he said a little sheepishly.

    While they had been talking more students had made their way into the classroom, to the point where the room was nearly full. It was almost eight o’clock, the time homeroom was set to begin. And right as a series of notes played over the PA system to signify its start, a smartly-dressed woman walked into the classroom and went up behind the teacher’s desk at the front of the room.

    ‘’Settle down, please.’’ she told the class as she set her bag down by the desk’s chair and withdrew a teacher’s planner from it. Though she didn’t appear to be much older than thirty, if even that, she had a stern countenance and a steady, gray-eyed gaze, giving her the air of someone older.

    ‘’My name is Maria Fencen.’’ she introduced herself. ‘’And I will be your homeroom teacher for the next four years. I’d like to first congratulate you all on being excepted into this school, and I hope that our time together will be a pleasant one.’’ All business, she was, cutting right through the fluff and getting to the core of what had to be done.

    ‘’Before we get too settled,’’ she continued, opening her planner to a certain page. ‘’I have a seating arrangement that I’d like to implement. If everyone could please stand I’ll read off your names…’’

    Everyone did and sat themselves down in the new order that Ms. Fencen read off of. Terry found himself seated near the middle of the classroom, while Akira ended up towards the front and Karen was placed where he and Akira had been sitting before, by the windows. Once this task was completed Ms. Fencen began to hand out school policy guidelines and spent the next ten minutes discussing the rules and regulations of the school that the students were expected to follow. There were a number of them, but they all largely boiled down to simply keeping a proper conduct.

    ‘’With that done,’’ Ms. Fencen said afterwards. ‘’Ah, Miss Emerage, please take that off, we’re indoors.’’ Cue Karen scowling as she removed her hat. ‘’I’m sure that some of you are already acquainted with one another.’’ the teacher continued after that little interruption. ‘’But the majority of you are probably not. So, let’s all introduce ourselves to the class, one at a time, and tell us a little about yourselves so that we may all get to better know one another.’’

    During this exercise each student stood up at his or her desk and stated their name, where they were from, and any other relevant pieces of trivia that they wanted to share about themselves. In total, there were exactly twenty students in the class. There was the somewhat nervous, wide-eyed Christian Toole, the son of a city councilman Vanon Hestly, the sporty Adrian Madner, Samuel Conner, whose parents owned a restaurant in the city, Bar Syon-Un from the faraway island nation of Agrippas, Keena Ghent who wanted to be a pediatrician, Lisa Hang who was the daughter of first-generation immigrants, Cassandra Tallow who had been class president in her old school, Steven Match, who boasted that he could eat an entire pizza in five minutes or less, Karen admitted to reading comic books when she was younger, Victoria Meso said that she was on the news once, Justin Danders claimed to be really good at video games and sports, Mefandia Suoni had lived in five different states before coming here, Fendo Hiozy had once broken both of his arms snowboarding before, Sinclaire Fonlarn was a cinemaphile who had watched almost every movie that had come out in the last three years, Elizabeth Judes had actually skipped a grade to come here, Carrie Rush got straight A’s on her entrance exam, and Caitlin Dune who was bilingual. For their parts, Terry decided to mention how he was a freestyle martial artist, and Akira gave an explanation as to the different meanings the Kamaguran characters that made up his name were. Most of the students were local, though a few were from neighboring states. Terry, Akira, and Bar were the only ones in the class who had come a significant distance to be here. For her part in this exercise, Ms. Fencen revealed that this was only her second post after becoming certified as a teacher, and that she taught several levels of history at this school.

    Homeroom came to an end, and they were off to attend a welcoming assembly in a well-furnished auditorium where the headmaster spent a little over an hour congratulating the future class of 2651 on their acceptance and extolling the school’s legacy and prestige that they were now expected to uphold. Terry found it all a little long-winded and pompous, but he supposed that all well-known institutions like this one would seek to puff out its chest to impress the newcomers.

    After the assembly they were finally let loose to attend their classes. There were six periods, each normally running for an hour though today the morning classes were shortened a little in order to accommodate the assembly. Five of these were class periods, and the sixth was a free study period, replaced by Gym on Mondays and Fridays. The schedule for the first years was pretty simple, giving a basic overview of math, literature, and history, with a noticeable emphasis on science, given that they had two periods devoted to it. Once they reached their second year, their class selection was more loose and students were free to select their own courses.

    The first class was Earth Science, dealing mainly with geology and meteorology with a touch of biology as well. It was taught by Mr. Pashni, a somewhat forlorn-looking man who nonetheless was able to spend almost the entire period doing nothing but giving them a spiel on how science helped people in their everyday lives, like how the power that they used to run electricity came from nuclear fusion, or how sporting activities dealt with the laws of motion, and how science was being put to work solving some of the great mysteries of their world, like what was the source of the Stargazer phenomenon, or what materials Heion was made out of in order to have enough mass to sustain an atmosphere despite being only a fraction of Lagoon’s size.

    While Terry did have a fair degree of interest in science, thanks to his interest in astronomy, he found the long, droning speaking style of Mr. Pashni very dull, and as such found himself gazing around the room during the lecture. Unlike his homeroom, this one had been decked out with scientific teaching aids and books and other posters pertaining to the subject its assigned teacher taught. There was the periodic table of elements, diagrams of how chemical bonds worked, diagrams of the layers of the atmosphere, applications of certain equations, and in the center of the ceiling was a large display of the solar system. There was the sun, Al-Shim, a perfectly normal G-type star, then came the barren Har-Ghayh, the perpetually cloud-covered Shabh-Kin, then Alak-Da’erh – known colloquially as Lagoon – and it’s moon Heion, followed by the ringed gas giant Alma-J’sur and its many moons, and finally there was the tiny, frozen Jalid-Aljin. All long, somewhat hard-to-pronounce names, but ones that Terry knew by heart.

    He ended up getting a little too absorbed in observing the poster, for his reverie was snapped by Mr. Pashni reprimanding him for spacing out, followed by his classmates’ quietly suppressed sniggering.

    After Earth Science came Pre-Collegiate Mathematics I, taught by a rather stout woman named Mrs. Beadly. Terry wasn’t exactly bad at math; he did very well with algebra and geometry, and could even hold his own with early calculus, but when it came to complex graphing and higher-end mathematics, things started to go downhill for him. Mrs. Beadly left the impression that she was someone who moved briskly through the material, so he could only hope that he could hold on and that the material didn’t turn out to be as merciless as some of it looked.

    Following math was World History I, taught by Ms. Fencen. Unlike some of his other peers, Terry actually enjoyed history classes. Both Lagoon and Heion’s modern history was rather fascinating to study, given the unprecedented changes that had been wrought by the achievement of spaceflight.


    * * *


    The Stargazer Phenomena had been occurring as far back as recorded human history did, probably even longer. These ancient individuals often ended up as kings, or worshipped and even feared as gods and deities, for what else would an ancient citizen believe if they saw someone’s eyes turn blue and perform such feats as spitting fire, or fly, or read minds? Many of the technological and scientific advances of the day such as gunpowder or primitive flying machines such as gliders in fact came about due to normal people trying to find ways to replicate these abilities and make them their own. As the world steadily modernized thanks to the development and spread of technology mankind was able to stand apart from the Stargazers and study and experiment with them, sometimes humanely, other times not, no longer seeing them as gods, but as chests of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered. Others sought to exploit them and their powers, and so began the governments of the world taking custody of any Stargazers that they could find, and use their talents in the name of national self-interest and as tools of war, during times of battle.

    Fortunately for the world the countries of Lagoon began to by and large outgrow their desire for imperialism by the dawn of the 26th century and began to turn their efforts towards exploring the frontiers that lay before them. Once man had achieved spaceflight through the in retrospect clumsy usage of rocketry, they set their sights on Heion, that blue and green orb in the sky that had long since fascinated those on the ground. In 2524 mankind first set foot on this new world.

    If they had been expecting a fantastical place filled with wonders and mysteries beyond imagining, they were sorely disappointed. While Heion did indeed have a longer day-night cycle than that of Lagoon, its environments and biomes were not all that different, with many species of both flora and fauna analogous to already-found terrestrial creatures. But any such disappointments at how anticlimactic setting foot on a new world may have been were soon swept away by a new discovery.

    The initial survey teams eventually found ruins on the surface of Heion. Completely featureless pyramids and other such structures made from an at-that-time undiscovered material. They dated back millennia, and while there were absolutely no clues left behind as to what their functions might have been, they did prove one thing beyond any shadow of a doubt; mankind was not alone amongst the stars.

    Naturally this triggered a lot of questions and speculations, of both a scientific and philosophical nature. What were these people like? Where did they go, and how long ago was that? Were they advanced, or primitive? What does this mean for humans as a species and their place in the universe? Is Heion somehow the source of the Stargazer Phenomena?

    Amidst all of these debates, the seats of government back on Lagoon realized that if something wasn’t done, the countries of the world would begin to struggle and compete over the resources of this new world, and thus took action. With the lead of the Founder States, after much debate and wrangling and compromise, an umbrella governmental body, made up of a coalition of the willing world leaders named SPHERE was formed in order to help regulate and oversee the settlement and industrialization of Heion and manage political affairs both on the moon and at home. As the decades went on, SPHERE set up the Space and Atmosphere Research Assembly, a worldwide scientific research organization tasked with the study of the two worlds. As a symbolic move, both SPHERE and SARA relocated their headquarters to Helios City, Heion’s capital. Thanks to advances in spaceflight and the breakthrough in nuclear fusion, this arrangement was more practical than it could have ever been, and Heion became settled by civilians and opened up trade with the planet it orbited. And so both worlds were able to grow and prosper more than they had ever been able to.


    * * *


    Ms. Fencen’s brief rundown of the syllabus came to an end, and afterwards came the students’ second science course, Physics I, taught by, once again, Mr. Pashni. Perhaps he was somehow unaware that he had already had this exact same class earlier in the morning, as he spent this class period giving almost exactly the same scientific spiel that he had before. Without question, it was just as boring and tedious to sit through as it had been before, and as Terry glanced around the classroom, a bit more subtly than before, he could see that there was not a single student who was paying attention, instead looking glazed and unfocused, openly yawning, or sneaking glances at their cell phones. The one thing that was probably keeping them from dozing off outright was the fact that lunch was just around the corner.

    ‘’What a relief that’s out of the way.’’ Akira was saying afterwards as he and Terry were joining the mass of students heading downstairs to the cafeteria. ‘’That man is so boring, and we have to deal with him twice each day!’’

    ‘’Yeah, I feel you.’’ Terry agreed. ‘’You could tell that everyone else felt the same way. But maybe things will start picking up when we actually starting doing stuff?’’

    ‘’History was pretty dull too.’’ Akira went on. ‘’Maybe that’s why they hired an attractive woman to teach it.’’

    ‘’You know, give them something nice to look at to keep their eyes up front.’’ Akira started to explain as he saw Terry’s glance. ‘’And at the same time have her have a stern disposition so that they’re afraid of getting her angry.’’

    ‘’Is that so?’’ Terry remarked. Admittedly, he was a little amused at his friend’s explanation. ‘’Well, come on, let’s get something to eat.’’

    The cafeteria was pretty large, seemingly spanning almost the entire length of the ground floor, with scores of tables set out and a number of serving stations in order to feed the thousand-something number of students who attended. The place was already packed to the gills, and Terry was worried that they wouldn’t be able to finish their food in time before the period was up, but it turned out that things were actually moving along at a much steadier pace than he had expected.

    ‘’Let’s get out of here.’’ Akira suggested once their meat-and-vegetable dishes had been served to them. ‘’There’s nowhere to eat in peace here.’’

    The rear of the cafeteria opened out to the outdoors behind the school building. There was much more room out here, and quieter too. In addition there was a nice view of the river and the North Side’s skyline. There were a few other students out on the grass as well, probably with the same idea Terry and Akira had had, while a few teachers also on break patrolled the area, presumably to make sure that the students actually went back in once time was up.

    ‘’So what classes do we have left?’’ Akira asked as they found a spot on the grass to sit.

    Terry tried to think back to his schedule as he began to eat. ‘’Uh, next we have gym, and after that it’s Literature, I think.’’

    Akira frowned a bit as he began to dig in to his own food. ‘’Literature, huh? We have to read and write, right?’’ he said listlessly. ‘’Great.’’

    ‘’What’s wrong?’’ Terry asked, a little puzzled at Akira’s sudden downturn. ‘’You're bilingual, aren't you? You don’t even have an accent.’’

    ‘’Yeah, I know. I can speak Anglosine just fine.’’ Akira said, still frowning. ‘’I just don’t really like reading or writing it any more than I have to.’’

    ‘’How are you going to study, then?’’

    ‘’Like this.’’ Akira reached into his bag and pulled out one of his notebooks. Terry put his plate down and flipped through the first few pages and was a bit surprised to find that, aside from an occasional name or complex bit of terminology, the notes were written entirely in Kamaguran characters, most of which looked like were much more time-consuming to write than the letters in the Anglosine alphabet.

    ‘’So let me get this straight.’’ Terry said, once again giving his friend an odd look. ‘’You can translate and write Anglosine to Kamaguran on the fly, yet can’t, or rather don’t want to, read it?’’

    ‘’Come on, isn’t there an English word for that?’’ Akira persisted as he took his notebook back. ‘’Someone who’s really good at one thing but sucks at something else?’’

    ‘’Idiot savant?’’

    ‘’Yeah, an idiot savant, that’s what I am!’’

    It took a few seconds for realization to dawn. ‘’Damn, you’re snarky sometimes.’’ Akira muttered as he went back to his food.

    ‘’I must get it from my uncle.’’ Terry said off-handedly. He pulled out his cell phone and switched it on to check the time. ‘’I need to get back to my locker to grab my gym clothes, and I bet you do too.’’ he said. ‘’Let’s finish up here and get going to the gym building.’’

    ‘’Yeah, yeah.’’ Akira said, apparently still feeling a little sore over the little jab. ‘’I didn’t really care all that much for gym, but compared to the lectures we’ve had to sit through, it’ll be a breath of fresh air.’’

    After finishing their lunches and discarding their trash and gathering up their things, the next stop was the physical education center, where they were directed to the boys’ locker room to change into their gym clothes. Terry was glad to finally be able to ditch the uniform, if only for an hour, as he felt so much lighter and less stuffy in the easier-to-move-around-in T-shirt, shorts, and sneakers instead of the blazer. Their teacher was one of the school’s three coaches, Mr. Mulver, a very severe-looking man who spoke with a very commanding tone of voice. He had the class run a few laps around the gymnasium, which served to wear out the less athletically-inclined students, and Mr. Mulver barking at them to pick up the pace certainly didn’t help them either. But perhaps he was more merciful than he looked, or just gave up on them, for instead of putting the class through even more strenuous exercises afterwards, he instead took the class outside to the diamond to play a scaled-down baseball game for the remainder of the class time.

    Though they were divided up into teams with Mr. Mulver officiating, no one was really taking things too seriously, save for Adrian being the only girl who wasn’t dead weight and the opposing team’s pitcher. When it was finally time for Terry to come up to bat, his team was being shut out. He himself had played baseball a few times before, but he was still very much an amateur. Once he assumed his batting stance and locked eyes with the pitcher, he knew that he was in trouble. The boy standing on the pitcher’s mound had not been going easy on the opposition at all, and Terry could see why. This boy was a born-athlete, and he could feel his aura of competitiveness all the way at home plate. Well, if he was fighting someone so serious and set on winning, than he had to just do the same. All right. he thought as he girded himself. Let’s go.

    His own spirit of competitiveness was rewarded by having the ball blaze right past him and into Mr. Mulver’s mitt. ‘’Strike One!’’ he called.

    A strike? Terry blinked, feeling a little dazed. He hadn’t even had a chance to swing his bat before the ball had passed him. Still, it was only one ball, he had at least two more chances. He’d hit it.

    This time he actually managed to move into a swing as the ball screamed by him. ‘’Strike Two!’’ Mr. Mulver called before throwing the ball back to the pitcher’s mound.

    Again? Terry scowled and went back into his stance. Now he was starting to get a little peeved. There had to be some kind of way to get past this kid’s pitching. There just had to be. He wasn’t just throwing the ball really hard; there was some else that he was doing to it, there had to be.

    Wait an minute, on that last pitch he could have sworn that he had seen the ball move just a fraction towards the right just as he had started his swing. Okay, now he felt more confident that he could hit the ball. As he squinted out at the pitcher, he could once again feel his aura roll over him.

    The third pitch actually managed to just barely make contact with his bat, blooping off the very edge and falling behind for a Foul, keeping Terry in the game. But now, he had a fairly good idea of where the ball would be coming. All he needed to do now was to make a slight adjustment to his swing…

    His persistence was rewarded with the sharp, audible crack of the bat making solid contact with the ball. Instantly, Terry dropped his bat and sprang down the first base line. He had won their little duel, and as he felt a sense of pride start to surge within his chest he took a glance over at the pitcher’s mound as he ran…

    …and that sense of pride deflated suddenly like a balloon as he watched the ball sail smoothly right into the pitcher’s outstretched glove. Mr. Mulver called him out as his dash slowed down to a sheepish trot as he peeled off and made his way back to the bench where the rest of his team was waiting. He’d failed, but there was nothing that he could do about that. There were others out their more skilled in certain areas than he was. The ones with the real fires in their spirits, like that pitcher, who undoubtably did their hardest to better their skills were the ones to be admired for their dedication.

    Terry’s team continued to be shut out and eventually lost. While he was getting changed back in the locker room afterwards, Terry heard a voice from behind him.

    ‘’Hey, congratulations.’’

    Terry turned. It was the pitcher, a short olive-skinned boy with bright brown eyes and a buzz cut, who he could now identify as Bar, the boy from Agrippas. ‘’I didn’t expect someone here would be able to hit my special curveball.’’

    ‘’Thanks, but, you still caught it.’’ Terry said, feeling both a little sheepish and proud that his former opponent was praising him. ‘’Did you play baseball for a team?’’ he asked. ‘’You were pretty much the only one out there who was actually being serious, and you were throwing really hard too.’’

    Bar nodded. ‘’Yep, I did back home. I want to be a pro-baseball player when I’m older.’’

    ‘’As a pitcher?’’

    ‘’For now, yeah.’’ Bar said. ‘’But depending on how things work out I might be a fielder instead, so that I’d get to bat and there’s less strain on your arm, you know?’’

    ‘’That’s pretty neat.’’ Terry said as he was struggling to tie his tie without the aid of a mirror to guide him. ‘’I’ve never really been into organized sports myself.’’

    ‘’Really?’’ Bar looked a bit puzzled. ‘’You said in homeroom that you practiced martial arts, isn’t that a sport?’’

    ‘’I guess.’’ Terry conceded. ‘’But it was more for myself than for anything else.’’

    ‘’Hey, I’m going to try out for the school’s baseball team in a few weeks when tryouts start for the spring season.’’ Bar said enthusiastically, eyes growing even brighter. ‘’You should join a team too!’’

    ‘’Eh…I dunno.’’

    ‘’Come on, you’d be great!’’ Bar insisted. ‘’I could tell from the way you carried yourself out on the field and the fire that was in your eyes at the plate that you’d make a great athlete!’’

    ‘’I’ll think about it.’’ Terry said evasively with a noncommittal tone. ‘’Why don’t you go ask Akira? He’s played baseball before and to hear him tell it he’s got some really neat skills.’’ Well, if using his Stargazer powers to push the ball where you want it to go counts… he thought ruefully to himself.

    ‘’Yeah, he did look like he had some experience.’’ Bar pondered for a bit. ‘’You’re right.’’ he said. ‘’I’ll go ask him too. Nice meeting you by the way!’’

    He hurried off to find Akira while Terry smiled to himself and donned his blazer. Fire in his eyes, huh? He supposed he didn’t mind that description, for it was true that he could be very motivated when the time came. He’d put that spirit to good use.

    Literature rolled around, taught by the somewhat stuffy and imposing-looking Mr. Matthews, where the class learned that for this semester they would be reading and analyzing five different important works of literature from the past century before receiving individual copies of their first text and given a lengthy reading assignment.

    And then the clock hit three and the first day of school finally came to an end. Terry, Akira, and Daniel all met up at the school’s entrance and spent the whole trip back to the dorm exchanging stories about how their day was, their classmates, teachers, courses, and other assorted anecdotes. Evening and dinner came by, and afterwards Terry found himself alone in his room, still thinking about the day’s events. The atmosphere and setting, of both the school and the city, were very far removed from what he had been used to, but he found that he didn’t mind. Before when he first arrived in Marine Cove he might’ve felt a little intimidated, but no longer. He found that he liked the energy, the colors, some of the noise, and the people that he’d met. There would certainly be plenty of challenges that would lie ahead, especially considering that he was now a Stargazer, but if this was how the next three years of his life would be, he wouldn’t particularly mind that at all. He’d welcome the challenge.

    Since his mother was the one paying for him to come here, he then supposed that it was only fair that he write her something to let her know how things were going for him, and well, he hadn’t talked to her in a long while, even though he preferred it that way for now. So he walked over to his desk, fired up his laptop, opened a word processor and began to get to work typing his message. He couldn’t reveal everything that had happened to him, of course, but there were plenty of other things to tell regardless.

    Mom,

    It’ll probably be a while before this gets to you, but I’d like you to know that today (9/8) was my first day at Marine Cove Academy. Right now I’m rooming with a kid from Kamagura named Akira. He can be a bit of a goofball at times, and some of the things he says makes me wonder how his mind works or makes me irritated at him, but for the most part he’s fun to hang around with since he’s almost always cheerful. I’ve also met one of our neighbors, Daniel. He too can be a bit annoying sometimes because he always tries to act and sound smart, but like Akira, he’s a good guy.

    School today was a lot different from what I’ve been used to. I’ve met two kids in my class already: Karen and Bar. Karen’s kind of normal and plain, but she’s nice, while Bar’s this kinda wired guy who’s really into baseball and tried to get me to sign up for it too. I don’t really know them all that well yet, but they seem like good people and I get the feeling we’ll make good friends, and I’ll definitely meet more as the year goes on. Anyway, the rest of…

    He had intended to go one and describe his feelings about the city and school in more depth, but as he worked be found his enthusiasm for the message getting smaller and smaller with each tap of the keys, until it got to the point that he decided that he should just take a break and come back to it later.

    However, by the time he finally went to bed a few hours later, the letter remained untouched and unfinished.


    Whew, this chapter turned out to be much longer than I had originally planned it to be. Pretty much an opportunity to exposit a bit on the world a few minor characters. Hopefully it won't take me this long to get the next chapter out.
    Last edited by Crossword; September 30th, 2012 at 08:39 PM.
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  14. #14

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Good chapter, just 4 things:
    1. Some of the dialogue are little too wordy, but those can be hammered out should you ever revisit the story.
    2. 'Wait a minute'. That part where Terry realizes how the pitch is done all of a sudden gets way into his head, which isn't quite in the story before. I'd take that out.
    3. When I read my futuristic story to my writing group, they asked me some good questions: Why are there still cell phones, why are there still books? And so on and so forth. It's annoying, but it's one of those things people will ask, and for a pretty good reason. Might want to give a more careful look at the technology of this world and replace anything that would be 'obsolete.'
    4. And, I really feel bad for saying this, but maybe you should tone down the Japanese stuff just a tad. Nihongo, the school bulletin board, the uniforms, a kid that comes from Japan (or this universe's equivalent). It's just a bit much for me, ya know? :/
    Anyway, solid writing here.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Thank you for the feedback. I do want to address these two points though:

    While I know it says that the story takes place in the 27th century, since this is an entirely different universe it's best not to compare it to Earth in regards to the dating system. Some areas of technology have progressed at different rates than others. I know it may feel a little schizophernic (we live on the moon but I still don't have my personal jetpack?!), but how I think of it is that, while in some areas Lagoon is more advanced (like in spaceflight and medicine) than Earth, for the average citizen going about their day to day business, life's still a lot like it is for us, only shinier, and a little more electronic in areas. I'm going for more a near-future kind of setting, rather than say, oh, Star Trek.

    About the whole Japanese encroachment thing, don't worry, I feel kind of the same way (the only reason I made him Asian was because the sketch of what I had in mind ended up looking Asian to me, and honestly I hadn't fully considered the baggage that would come with that at the time). Outside of this chapter though, I don't really plan to bring much attention to it, and to be blunt, compared to Terry and Nova, Akira's not all that important to the narrative of this story aside from being Terry's best bud.

    The uniforms are actually based off of the uniforms at a Catholic school I went to when I was younger just wth added blazers for extra formality. I realize the simularity, hence Akira's comment, but that honestly was not what I had in mind; I just wanted something that would look nice.

    The bulletin board too, though? That, I don't understand.

    Anyway, thank you for putting up with the above, and I hope you continue to enjoy the story.
    Last edited by Crossword; May 31st, 2011 at 08:11 AM.
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  16. #16

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Ah, now the school things makes sense.
    Sorry about the bulletin board thing, it just reminded me of Azumanga Daioh and Love Hina and all that. That time I was clearly being an ignorant weeaboo.
    Also, you're time thing does make sense now.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter 6: The Third Prong
    Spoiler:

    The first week of the new school term meant that Gerald Centone and his sector at the Department of Education had been kept quite busy with the new load of work to process. In fact, it was almost a relief to him when he learned that on Friday afternoon he was being summoned to meet with his superior at Lifeline, Wallace Landsley.

    The Lifeline department in Marine Cove City was rather small, consisting of no more than two small offices tucked away inside the building housing the Public Safety Commission, rather meager accommodations considering the amount of money the organization usually received. Gerald left his own workplace a little early in order to insure that he would make his five o’clock appointment, and on the dot he lightly knocked on Landsley’s office door.

    ‘’Come in.’’ a slightly muffled voice called out, and Gerald stepped inside into the cluttered and tiny office.

    ‘’Good afternoon.’’ he said as he closed the door behind him. There wasn’t much standing room between the desk and the doorway.

    ‘’Good afternoon to you too, Mr. Centone.’’ the other man responded in kind. ‘’Please take a seat.’’ He made a gesture to hold down a stray piece of paper that had been disturbed by the change in air. ‘’I apologize for the mess, by the way. Since we’re finally getting Trident up and running, these papers keep coming in faster than I can file them.’’

    Gerald took a seat in a chair wedged in the corner of the room. ‘’I don’t mind.’’ he said. ‘’My own office isn’t exactly a paragon of cleanliness either, sir.’’

    ‘’Good to hear.’’ Landsley smiled briefly before adopting a more serious expression and he began to tap the surface of his desk with his index finger, a tic that always showed when he was being especially serious. ‘’So, how are the Stargazers under your custody faring?’’

    ‘’They’re doing well as far as I can see.’’ Gerald replied. ‘’They leave for school on time, attend all of their classes, and when it lets out they are free to do whatever they wish as long as they meet the dorm’s curfew. I haven’t heard of any problems being reported.’’

    ‘’I see.’’ Landsley continued to tap. ‘’You don’t think that you’re…being a little too lenient on them, allowing them free reign around the city without supervision?’’

    Inwardly, Gerald felt himself sigh. He knew that this would be coming eventually. ‘’With all due respect sir,’’ he began, trying to choose his words carefully. ‘’They are young adults, not children, and I do not believe that they need to be looked after as if they were.’’

    ‘’Young adults with powers beyond anything that should be natural.’’ Landsley corrected. ‘’No matter, I just thought I should bring that up considering what’s been happening in this city during the past month or so. You’ve been keeping up with your news tablet, I assume?’’

    Gerald nodded grimly. He was certainly very familiar with the incidents that Landsley was referring to.

    ‘’Well, let’s not dwell on that for now; that’s why we’re having this meeting.’’ Landsley went on. ‘’Before you came in I was on the phone with the chief of police. One week from now, on Friday the 19th, we plan to conduct with them Trident’s first operation.’’

    ‘’So soon? Isn’t that unusual?’’ Gerald asked, frowning as he adjusted his glasses a bit.

    ‘’So soon?’’ Landsley repeated. ‘’You were the one who insisted that they didn’t need to undergo any additional combat or psychological evaluations and training.’’

    ‘’Oh, yes.’’ Gerald muttered. ‘’I apologize. I must be getting more absentminded in my old age.’’

    ‘’Aren’t we all.’’ Landsley said ruefully. ‘’As I said, this operation will be a joint effort between Trident and the city police, with the aim of capturing the Beings’ leader. You’ll get more precise outline of things in the near future, but for now here’s a rough outline of the plan.’’ He picked one of the many papers stacked on top of his desk and handed it to Gerald to read.

    ‘’Is this all?’’ Gerald asked as he scanned the document. It was a simple raid, really. The three Stargazers would go in first and sweep the target site and subdue or otherwise incapacitate any adversaries that they came across, with the police moving in afterward. It put most of the burden on Trident, but it was a simple plan nonetheless.

    ‘’For now, yes.’’ he superior said, replying to Gerald’s question.

    ‘’Well in that case, I’ll make sure to inform them of this and to tell them to prepare in any way they can.’’ Gerald promised, tucking the paper into the inside of his jacket.

    ‘’Good.’’ Landsley said. ‘’We’ll be counting on them.’’


    * * *



    The next Tuesday morning came around, and the first thing Terry did after shutting his alarm off was to go back to sleep, as he had been up late the previous night finishing an analysis paper for his literature class. As a result, he came dangerously close to excessive oversleeping and had to scramble in order to dress, get breakfast, and leave for school at a semi-reasonable time. Akira and Daniel had already left without him, leaving him no one to be kept company by during his trip to school.

    Once on the train he had a few moments to spare and he took out his cell phone, only to nearly drop it when he turned it on as it began to vibrate unexpectedly, indicating that he had some new unread messages. One was from Akira, wondering why his phone was off and where he was, one from Daniel saying pretty much the same thing only with a bit more tact, and finally one from Mr. Gerald.

    Now what could Mr. Gerald want with him, Terry wondered. A quick glance at the subject gave him a decent idea, as the words ‘’important’’ and ‘’members’’ quickly jumped out at him. Within:

    To all members of Trident,

    On the 19th of September we will be carrying out our first operation. Don’t make any plans for that Friday afternoon, and needless to say, don’t tell anyone outside of Trident of this. You will be required to return to the dorm directly from school on that day. More details will be given to you then.


    - Gerald Centone



    Terry returned his phone to his pocket and gazed out at the city passing by through the window. So there it was. He hadn’t forgotten the fact that he was now a part of what was in essence a special strike force cell, but with school starting and the new responsibilities that came with it, it had been pushed to the back of his mind. Now that it was coming back to him, he found that he wasn’t really afraid of what was coming and what he might have to do, but nervous? Maybe a little. There were definitely some feelings of apprehension lurking deep within his chest. But no matter, as just as right before his trial against Captain Ganut, he realized that it wouldn’t do him any good to worry himself to death over this. He would just have to take things as they came.

    He made it to school a little later than he would of liked, but still managed to make it before homeroom started. As had become usual, he spent a little time chatting with Akira and Bar, the former of which made sure to rib him a bit for oversleeping, and then Ms. Fencen arrived to take attendance and make any announcements that needed to be made before the students were off to class.

    The morning was rather unremarkable, save for Ms. Fencen snapping at Vanon for falling asleep during History, thereby proving half of Akira’s hypothesis from the first day. Terry managed to lose sight of him while he was standing in line during lunch inside the crowded cafeteria. As a result he was left standing around awkwardly trying to see if he could spot someone he knew or otherwise recognized amongst the throngs of students. He couldn’t spot Akira despite being on the lookout for spiked hair, but he did see Karen across the way, her white hat instantly giving her away.

    ‘’Mind if I sit here with you?’’ he asked once he had made his way over to the table she was sitting at.

    The girl looked up, a little surprised to see him. ‘’Oh, sure, go ahead Terry.’’ she said, scooting over a little to give him a little more room. There were two other upperclassmen seated at this table, but they weren’t paying her any mind, so she was probably grateful to have a classmate to sit with, Terry thought.

    ‘’Where’s Akira?’’ she asked. ‘’I always see you two together.’’

    ‘’Lost sight of him somewhere.’’

    ‘’Oh.’’ A few silent moments passed before Karen got an emboldened expression and leaned in so that her voice wouldn’t carry to the upperclassmen, though with all the background noise she probably needn’t have bothered. ‘’Hey, I’m trying to get a few friends together to go out and do something at the end of the week, like going out and seeing a movie, getting something to eat, or something else like that. Would you like to come?’’

    As soon as she had said ‘’get a few friends’’ Terry had felt a bit of a sinking feeling come over him. Of course something like this would come up on the very day he had received his first set of marching orders, as it were. This was always how these things seemed to play out. He adopted an expression somewhere in between apologetic and downcast, and prepared to let her down gently.

    ‘’Well, I’d really like to.’’ he began. ‘’But unfortunately I already have plans for that night. Certain circumstances and all that. Maybe some other time.’’

    ‘’Oh.’’ Karen looked much more crestfallen than Terry had expected her to. ‘’Oh. That’s too bad. Sorry for asking.’’

    ‘’Nah, I’m the one who should apologize.’’ Terry insisted. The truth was that he’d much rather prefer to spend his Friday night unwinding with friends, but instead he’d be out there doing who-knew-what, possibly risking his life, even, and that was only the beginning, who knew how many other times stuff like this would come up where he’d have to put aside a normal social life due to being led down a different path from most people?

    Terry and Karen didn’t really talk much during the remainder of lunch, both parties feeling differing degrees of awkwardness. Terry turned in his paper during Literature when it rolled around and when the bell rang indicating that the school day was over he hung around for a little bit before meeting up with Akira at the school’s entrance to go home.

    ‘’Where’s Daniel?’’ was the first thing Terry asked when the two met up. Normally, the glasses-wearing boy would already be here waiting for them.

    ‘’Ah, I just got a message from him, actually.’’ Akira said as he absentmindedly scrolled through his cell phone’s inbox. ‘’He said he left to go back to the dorm right away because he already has a test to study for. Can you believe that? We’ve only been here a week.’’

    ‘’Hm.’’ Terry looked down in a slightly pensive manner as they began to walk down the pathway leading to the bridge. ‘’Did you get the…other mail?’’ he ventured.

    ‘’Yeah, of course I did.’’ Akira said, not breaking stride. ‘’Let’s not talk about it right now. Let’s save it for later.’’

    They returned to the dorm, where for the next two hours Terry spent his time in his room, working on his homework. By the time he was done it was starting to get dark outside, and he was considering spending the rest of the evening surfing the Internet when his cell phone began to vibrate. ‘’Hello?’’

    It was Akira. ‘’Hey, you wanna go out and get something to eat?’’

    ‘’Sure, just let me change out of my school clothes.’’

    ‘’Cool. Meet me in the lobby downstairs when you’re ready.’’ He hung up.

    Terry spent a few moments gazing at the home screen before slipping his phone back into his pocket. Akira’s offer to go out was surely a cover for them to discuss the upcoming operation privately amongst themselves. That was fine with him. It would do him well to discuss what he was thinking about with someone who was in the exact same position.

    Once he was changed he grabbed his leather jacket off of his closet’s inside hook and headed downstairs, where he found Akira already there waiting for him.

    ‘’I asked Daniel if he wanted to come too, but he said he wanted to study some more.’’ he said. ‘’I’m actually glad he isn’t coming though. Not to be mean, mind.’’ he added. ‘’We’ll just have more privacy.’’

    Terry nodded. ‘’I understand. Where are we going?’’

    ‘’I actually don’t really know yet.’’ Akira admitted, shrugging his shoulders slightly. ‘’I was just thinking a restaurant or something.’’

    ‘’Two guys going alone to a restaurant together?’’

    ‘’You’re right, that would look odd.’’ Akira conceded. ‘’Well, we’ll find something just by walking around. It’s a big city.’’

    It was much cooler outside now than it had been earlier, and with the sun down and a light breeze blowing in from the east it was going to stay that way. On their street streetlights were automatically beginning to switch on to full power in order to safely illuminate the surroundings, while what was visible of Heion behind a cloud was lighting up the night sky with a soft glow. Terry and Akira spent an hour or two just walking around with no particular destination in mind, making light conversation but still avoiding that one topic that they both knew they would have to touch upon eventually. They eventually settled on stopping at a hole-in-the-wall pizza parlor to have dinner at, and afterwards another hour of walking had them on a street that ran along this part of the shoreline of the river that separated the two halves of the city. It was here that Terry finally decided to broach the topic.

    ‘’So… How do you feel about Friday?’’ he asked, in a tone that felt close to casual indifference. ‘’You know, the operation?’’

    ‘’The operation…’’ Akira repeated, the pace of his stride slowing. ‘’Well,’’ he began. ‘’I guess on some level, I’m kind of apprehensive, maybe a little scared, but I think more than anything else, I’m actually looking forward to it.’’

    That made Terry curious. The few times that he had heard him refer or allude to his own Stargazer powers, he had treated them rather lightly. It was probably simply because he had had them for much longer than Terry himself that on some level he took them for granted, but that had always struck Terry as a bit odd. Akira was comfortable with them on a level that Terry certainly was not, though one day he might reach that same point.

    ‘’So I suppose you’re looking forward to testing out your skills like you told me before, huh?’’ Terry told his friend.

    ‘’I guess so.’’ Akira replied. He stopped walking and spent a few moments studying Terry’s face. ‘’Alright,’’ he said. ‘’I can tell that you want to hear my full story, don’t you?’’

    ‘’What? No, not necessarily.’’ Terry backpedalled, not sure if he should be embarrassed or not that the normally goofy Akira had just seen right through him.

    ‘’That’s okay, I’ll tell you anyway. Get a load off my mind.’’ Akira said, leaning back against the railing that overlooked the river. ‘’Do you have any siblings?’’ he asked after a brief moment of silence.

    ‘’No.’’ Terry said, shaking his head. ‘’I’m an only child.’’

    ‘’Well, I have an older brother.’’ Akira said, his voice getting a bit lower and more contemplative. ‘’His name’s Shigeru. He’s smart, serious, has ambition – maybe a little too much – and manages to do quite well for himself.’’

    So as you can imagine, my parents often compared us. ‘Look at what your older brother can manage to do, why can’t you follow his example?’’’ He gave Terry an aside glance and smiled slightly, his face and eyes brightened by the light coming from across the river. ‘’You know, the old story.’’

    ‘’There was a time when I tried to be like him.’’ he continued. ‘’But nothing ever worked out for me, so I thought ‘what’s the point?’ and stopped. Trying to deceive myself and be someone I’m not isn’t going to work for me. That’s one of the reasons I came all the way out here to go to school; to get away from my family and just do something different with my life for once, instead of having others trying to set me down a path of their choosing.’’

    He turned to fully look out over the water at the lit skyline. ‘’And now look at me.’’ he went on. ‘’Now I’ve got something that only I can do, and no one can ever imitate. That’s why I like having this power and seeing what I can do with it. It’s proof that I’m myself, my own person.’’

    Terry was busy taking this all in. ‘’Well, I envy you on this.’’ he said as he joined his friend in gazing at the lights. ‘’I wish I could be as sure as you about things.’’

    He sighed a little bit. ‘’When I first came here, I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, and I suppose I was just coasting through life. Now look at me, I have supernatural powers and am part of a secret ops cell. Go figure.’’

    ‘’What would you have done otherwise?’’

    ‘’Normal things, I suppose.’’ Terry said as he closed his eyes. ‘’Go to school here, go on to a decent college afterwards, get a girlfriend, a steady job, get married, raise a family. You know, normal stuff.’’

    ‘’You can still do those things, you know.’’ Akira said, yawning a little. ‘’Just because you’re a Stargazer doesn’t mean you can’t live a normal life these days. I mean sure, we face things that normal people don’t, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t do what you want to in life.’’

    ‘’Well, I guess I just wasn’t really sure what to do exactly to reach that point.’’ Terry continued. ‘’I just didn’t have as much ambition as I would have liked. But now I’m involved in something I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be. I’ll have to find a new path for myself.’’

    ‘’Well, is there any one certain thing you want to do?’’ Akira suggested. ‘’Maybe you could start from there.’’

    ‘’Maybe, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with this.’’

    ‘’Aw, come on, tell me.’’ Akira said, nudging his friend playfully. ‘’It’s nothing embarrassing, is it?’’

    ‘’Oh all right.’’ Terry took a step back from the railing and pointed upwards to the night sky. ‘’Just once, I’d like to go into outer space. See what Lagoon, Heion, and the stars look like from up there.’’

    ‘’That’s cool.’’ Akira said, nodding in approval. ‘’You could be an engineer or an astronaut or something. I’m sure SARA would be thrilled to have someone who could control electricity.’’

    ‘’Nah, I’m not brainy enough to be a scientist.’’ Terry said, still looking up at the sky. ‘’But these days, there are plenty of ways for a normal civilian to get up into space.’’

    He shifted a bit and stretched his stiffening shoulders. ‘’But for the present I guess I’ll just have to give it my all, I suppose.’’ he said. ‘’I’m glad we talked about this stuff. I’ll figure out what my path will be.’’

    Indeed. This was really the first time that he had had this sort of conversation with someone. All of his problems hadn’t been solved, not by a long shot, but just by confiding in someone, it felt like a cloud was clearing up inside his conscience. He’d do well to heed Akira’s story and find a way to forge himself a new path and a new personal identity.

    ‘’I’m glad too.’’ Akira was saying in the meantime. ‘’So, uh, where are we?’’

    The mood instantly evaporated. ‘’What?’’ Terry repeated dryly, in disbelief.

    ‘’No seriously, where are we?’’ Akira repeated, looking around a bit. ‘’I don’t recognize this place.’’

    ‘’I thought you said you knew your way around the city!’’

    ‘’I said I knew it pretty well, not flawlessly!’’ Akira retorted. ‘’Does your phone have a GPS? Mine doesn’t have that app.’’

    ‘’Yeah, but I think it’s still in the pocket of my school pants.’’

    Akira let out an exasperated sigh, something that Terry thought was hardly fair given who was uttering it. ‘’Well, let’s go find a street sign, or something.’’

    Once they found the name of the street they were on, Akira brought up a map on his phone so that they could figure out how to find a way back to the dorm. ‘’It’s a bit of a walk back to the nearest train station.’’ Akira observed as his eyes followed their projected route as displayed on his phone’s screen. ‘’We’ll have to cut through Sunport too.’’

    ‘’What’s Sunport?’’ Terry asked.

    ‘’I’ve never been there myself.’’ Akira said. ‘’But Daniel once told me that it’s home to a bunch of small, independent businesses.’’ As he was speaking he was keying a number into his phone.

    ‘’Hello?’’ Daniel’s voice came over the phone.

    ‘’Hey, if we miss curfew, could you cover for us?’’ Akira asked.

    ‘’Huh? Where are you?’’

    ‘’Lost.’’ Akira said simply. ‘’But don’t worry, we’re on our way back now. Just have to cut through Sunport to get to the train.’’

    There was an audible sigh over the phone. ‘’Oh, fine, if I have to, I’ll try to get you off the hook.’’ came Daniel’s voice. ‘’Curfew’s at 10:30, so you don’t have very much time left. Are you sure it’s a good idea to go through Sunport at ni-‘’

    ‘’Thanks man.’’ Akira said, cutting him off and hanging up, much to Terry’s quiet disbelief at his display of rudeness.

    ‘’We’ve got a bit of a walk ahead of us.’’ Akira said. ‘’Let’s get moving.’’

    The two boys once again began walking through the city, this time with an actual path laid out for them to follow thanks to Akira’s phone, which he checked and rechecked every now and then to ensure that they were on the right track. As they went on, Terry began to notice that, despite the small office buildings beginning to line the streets being well-lit and clearly still occupied at this time of night there weren’t all that many people out on the streets themselves compared to the other parts of the city. What’s more, those few that were out seemed to be deliberately moving in groups of at least two, and rather furtively at that. The air was tense, and something was clearly up.

    ‘’You get the feeling that everyone here’s really on edge?’’ Terry asked, a bit of wariness creeping into his voice.

    ‘’Huh?’’ Akira looked up from his phone. ‘’I’m not really paying attention, but I guess there should be more people out now that I am.’’

    ‘’Something’s off with this neighborhood.’’ Terry muttered, turning up the collar of his jacket to ward off the growing cold. ‘’How much farther is it to the station?’’

    ‘’Just over a mile.’’ Akira told him. ‘’Can we take a quick break though? My feet are starting to ache from all the walking we’ve done tonight.’’

    ‘’Alright, but make it quick.’’ Terry sighed. ‘’I don’t like the feel of this place.’’

    They rested at a bus stop, at which no buses were stopping at during this time. Terry was one-hundred-percent certain now – he didn’t like the atmosphere that this part of town was giving off. But he couldn’t think of any reason for it to feel like this. A run-down or otherwise dangerous neighborhood certainly, but not a business district, however some at may be. The people here, it seemed to him, were afraid of something, but what could it be?

    His thoughts were interrupted, however, by the sound of sirens blazing. Looking up, he saw two police cruisers and an ambulance speed down the empty street and take a right at the intersection just down the way, their bright lights and shrill sirens piercing through the still night.


    ‘’I wonder what that was all about?’’ Terry said as he gazed off in the direction that the vehicles had vanished in. ‘’Some kind of crime or incident?’’

    Akira shrugged, apparently done with playing with his phone. ‘’Who knows? Wanna go check it out?’’

    Terry shook his head. ‘’If it was any other time, maybe, but right now that would just make us late for sure.’’

    ‘’Guess so.’’ Akira admitted, pocketing his phone and getting up again. ‘’Well, I’m all rested up now. Let’s go.’’

    As they walked further down the block Terry saw a few more people hanging around outside than he had before. The air was feeling even tenser than it had been before, so he assumed that they had been lured out here, against their better judgment, by the sounds of the sirens from earlier.

    Still though, he wondered, unless it was something particularly he couldn’t imagine a crime being that big a deal in a big city. Then again, what did he know, he hadn’t actually lived in a big city until now. Well, whatever was going on, it didn’t have anything to do with him, and he already needed to be somewhere, so no reason to dwell on that.

    After a bit more walking the sidewalk took them past a small park, similar to the one that Terry had first met Akira in, located on the corner of a block and with a few small lamps to provide illumination. Akira came to a stop and his body slumped a bit as he let out a quiet, exasperated-sounding sigh. ‘’Not again.’’ he muttered. Ahead of them, clustered around a bench were three troublesome-looking kids. They were muttering to each other, and one of them nudged his head a bit in Terry and Akira’s direction.

    ‘’Whatever you do, don’t beat these guys up.’’ Akira whispered. ‘’Just ignore them.’’

    But that, unfortunately, was not possible. As the two came closer, the group fanned out a bit to completely block the sidewalk. Unlike the thugs from Terry’s first night, these three looked to be around his own age. His intent was to go right through them, but he had to stop when the lead punk brought out a small baseball bat that he had been holding behind him, out of sight, and held it out, blocking the way forward.

    ‘’What the hell, man?’’ Akira said irritably, well and truly exasperated right off the bat.

    The punk with the bat ignored that. ‘’I haven’t seen you guys ‘round here before.’’ he said. ‘’You’re not the one who’s been going around knocking off our buds, are you?’’

    ‘’I don’t even know what you’re talking about!’’ Akira exclaimed, bewildered. ‘’We’re just passing through here!’’

    ‘’Hey, we’re not taking no chances no more.’’ the punk said, moving a few steps closer to Akira. ‘’You don’t look like you belong here, you’re on our turf, and from the sounds of those sirens coming from your direction, someone just got wasted. I say you’re plenty suspicious.’’

    ‘’Oh come on.’’ Terry spoke up. Even if this was only the second time, he had to wonder what he had done in the past to deserve drawing this kind of attention whenever he went out at night. ‘’We have nothing to do with whatever it is that has you guys so riled up! So let us pass in peace!’’

    ‘’Are you trying to be a smartass?’’ the punk said threatening, brandishing his weapon and taking a step forward to intimidate. ‘’That’s not how things work around here.’’

    Terry tensed himself, and could feel Akira do the same next to him, albeit for different reasons. These guys didn’t scare him at all, but they also didn’t look like they’d listen to reason. He supposed if worst came to worst he could give the three a little jolt and make a break for it…

    Or maybe not. ‘’H-Hey Mano…’’ One of the other two punks was rapidly going pale. ‘’I-I think I know how that is! You’re trying to start shit with that lightning freak!’’

    ‘’What’re you…’’ The lead punk, Mano, Terry presumed, briefly scrutinized Terry as if suddenly seeing him for the first time before he too went pale and leapt backward as if Terry had actually shocked him. ‘’Holy shit you’re right!’’ he exclaimed in alarm.

    While Mano’s one-eighty from a tough-guy to a frightened child was admittedly somewhat funny to watch, Terry couldn’t help think that this was just great. Did the entire city know that he was a Stargazer now? He had no choice but to feign ignorance, the fat lot of good that would do him. ‘’The hell are you talking about?!’’ he said, sounding as bewildered as he could.

    ‘’Yeah, yeah, I recognize him from the description!’’ the second unnamed punk exclaimed, backing away to join the other one. ‘’A kid in a black leather jacket accompanied by an Oriental kid! It’s him!’’

    ‘’Hey, I’m far from the only Oriental guy in the city!’’ Akira said, sounding genuinely indignant. ‘’You’ve got the wrong guy, I tell you!’’

    Mano gripped his weapon tightly, seemingly unsure if he should foolishly try fighting or just run away and keep his well-being if not his dignity. The decision was made for him though, when a hand reached out grabbed hold of the bat, wrenching it out of his hands. ‘’Who’re – ‘’ Mano began to shout, but as he got a good look at the owner of the arm that they hand was attached to, he shut up and went even paler.

    It was a tallish, built young man with a well-defined jaw line and deep, almost cherry red hair that fell around his shoulders. His face and mouth were set in an expression that was nothing if not stern, and his brow was furrowed into a death glare strong enough to intimidate even the most hardcore of gangsters. This was someone who was clearly not to be trifled with.

    ‘’What do you think you’re doing, Mano?’’ he demanded, his voice a low growl.

    ‘’W-We…’’ Mano began to sputter, wilting already under the glare coming from the young man’s cold blue eyes. ‘’Th-These guys are suspicious, they could be the culprits!’’ he finished lamely.

    ‘’Seriously?’’ the newcomer said. ‘’Do you honestly believe that these two are the ones responsible for what’s been going on here, truly?’’

    ‘’But, but he’s a Stargazer!’’ one of the other punks insisted. ‘’I know he is!’’

    ‘’Please.’’ the newcomer sniffed. ‘’There are lots of other people who could fit that description, and you can’t just decide that someone’s a Stargazer just like that.’’ He then jerked his thumb in Terry’s direction. ‘’And ‘sides, you really think someone with a clueless expression like that’s going to be going around picking fights with the underground?’’

    Mano looked hesitant, as if unsure of who he was more frightened by: the teenager that might be a Stargazer, or the guy who was a good foot taller than him and much more muscular.

    ‘’Well regardless, get out here.’’ the young man said. ‘’I don’t want to see your faces around here again. Oh, and one more thing,’’ he added. ‘’If you’re trying to find the culprit, don’t. It’s a good way to get killed, Stargazer or no.’’

    The three punks finally turned and fled. ‘’Hmph, pussies.’’ the young man sniffed before turning his focus to Terry and Akira. ‘’Now for you two…’’

    ‘’Nova!’’ Akira gasped now that they were free from the punks. ‘’What’re you doing here?!’’

    Terry’s eyes widened a bit. That was the elusive Nova? Akira had said that he was only a year older than they were, but he found that hard to believe, actually looking at him.

    ‘’I should be asking you that.’’ Nova said, taking a few steps off to the side to deposit the club he had snatched away into a trashcan. ‘’I came back to the dorm to find Daniel fretting over you two being late and going through Sunport at night. What the hell were you thinking?!’’

    ‘’What do you mean?! Akira retorted right back. ‘’What’s wrong with Sunport?!’’

    ‘’Have you looked at the news at all?’’ Nova asked, his own temper clearly boiling just below the surface as his voice took on a dangerous tone. ‘’Pay any attention to what we were just talking about? Did you even see those cop cars just now or hear the sirens? People have been getting attacked here at night recently – horribly burned – a few have even died, and I’d bet ten-thousand yura that a Stargazer is behind it!’’

    ‘’So that’s why this entire neighborhood’s on edge!’’ Terry exclaimed. Of course, the answer had been so obvious. Why had it taken him this long, until someone had pretty much spelt it out for him, to realize it?

    ‘’See, this guy has a least some sense of perception.’’ Nova said, pointing in Terry’s direction. ‘’You’re that lightning kid, aren’t you?’’ he asked.

    ‘’My name’s Terry.’’ Terry replied, not wild at being called that.

    ‘’Well, sorry we had to meet like this.’’ Nova told him, shrugging a bit. ‘’I’m Theodore Bown, but you can call me Nova if you like, I really don’t care. Now come on, if you two miss curfew you’re going to get hit with demerits.’’

    ‘’Why’re you after us, anyway?’’ Akira asked as they walked down the street, his voice sour. ‘’We were on our way back anyway.’’

    ‘’I came home to the dorm to find Daniel fretting about how you guys were late.’’ Nova began to explain, roughly. ‘’I asked if he knew where you guys were, and he said you two should be going through Sunport. Again, what the hell were you thinking when you decided that?! You're lucky I still have some clout on these streets.’’

    ‘’Well, what’s wrong with Sunport?’’ Akira demanded.

    ‘’So what if it’s dangerous?’’ Akira shot back. ‘’We’re not babies you know. We can take care of ourselves.’’

    For what felt like the umpteenth time, Terry gave an odd glance. This coming from the guy who had freaked out at him fighting back against some thugs?

    ‘’Maybe, but you don’t understand, do you?’’ Nova gestured towards Terry. ‘’Thanks to the stunt this guy pulling in zapping that guy ‘bout two weeks ago, damn near the entire city underground knows that there’s a significant Stargazer presence in the city and are all on edge.’’

    ‘’And I don’t know about you,’’ he continued. ‘’But I take my job as a Trident member very seriously, so I had to get to you first in case you pulled something stupid out here. If you pull stupid shit that’ll compromise our operations, there’ll be more than Hell to pay, I swear to you.’’

    And that was the end of that. Nova did not say one more word to them the rest of the way back to the dorm, and for their part Terry and Akira also remained silent. While they ultimately managed to get back just before curfew, the rather sour turn the evening had taken towards the end there did not help Terry’s mood, and the upcoming operation was weighing on his mind anew.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I'm an old man when it comes to cell phones. Mine is six years old and can only call and text, the latter function I refuse to use. So about halfway through writing this chapter I realized ''oh, given the setting, they should have the local equivalent of iphones or Androids, or whatever, and solve this stuff on their own'', so that required a bit of on-the-fly revision.
    Last edited by Crossword; August 20th, 2011 at 09:11 AM.
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  18. #18

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    Okay, two small things, one asshole thing and one big thing.
    Small things:
    Hidden:

    1. The conversation at the beginning, the part where he asked why the kids were given free reign. It was kind of pointless because he accepted the caretaker's excuse so easily, but this could be fixed if you gave him just a slightly more convincing argument, like overlooking the Stargazer's shoulder every second would be difficult or something.
    2. The part where Terry thinks to himself. Now what could Mr. Gerald want with him, Terry wondered
    It seems like the narration was speaking for Terry and he was thinking at once. It would probably be best to change it to 'Now what could Mr. Geraled want with me,' Terry wondered.

    Asshole thing:
    Hidden:
    First off, I'mma big hypocrite because I suck at naming things, but 'The Beings?' If you absolutely think they should be called that then okay, but personally I find that gangs/criminal organizations usually name themselves with numbers, street locations and/or really intimidating names. I'd probably go with that last one. Could give The Beings a more miniature terrorist group kind of image.

    And the big thing:
    Hidden:
    The end of this chapter was kind of anticlimatic. Here we spend the chapter with Terry and Akira feeling a little tense about their assignment, and yet when they go to Sunspot Terry just gets a bad feeling and Nova bails them out. Personally, I'd top off all the tension in this chapter with an attack on them. Not a big attack (obviously those must be saved for Friday), but something that gives Terry a 'taste' of what danger he is getting himself into. I could see the two getting jumped because they weren't prepared by two grunts. And once it becomes obvious that those grunts mean to harm them (can't be reasoned with, want their money, etc), Nova comes in and rescues them and the mission and what it will entail can finally start sinking into Terry.

    Despite what I see to be flaws, this was still a pretty good chapter. Just needs a little more of a satisfying ending by my count.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    There actually is a non-arbitrary reason why I named the gang The Beings as opposed to something more intimidating (well, that and I too kinda suck at coming up with names as well at times). Whether it's ultimately a satisfactory one, well, that'll just have to wait until I get that far.

    The ending...I agree with it being anticlimactic, and I'm trying to think of a way to fix that. What I originally had in mind felt too much like a rehash of the end of chapter one, but changing that into an anti-climax wasn't all that good a move, either.
    ~Stargazer~, ~Distance~ original stories.
    3DS Friend Code: 2234-8294-8917

  20. #20

    Default Re: Stargazer - Bestowment and Fetters -

    I can wait for the explanation of The Being's name, no problem.
    As for the rehashing problem, perhaps you could change the circumstances? Like they were followed home and didn't even notice? Perhaps a near breach of security of the dorms if Nova weren't there?
    That's just one suggestion and I admit there's probably better out there, but hopefully as an example of what you could can do it can help.

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