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October 12, 2012
A face from her past reappears...
The man held Chryseis's wrist tightly. He had only been holding for a few moments, but she already felt as if there would be a bruise left. "Rys, what is he talking about?" Lihua faked a calm disposition; however the panic was visible in her eyes.
"How... are you alive?! I watched you flat-line! I—we—the instruments, they never lie!" His hair was a disheveled mess, with wild eyes staring at her from behind thick-rimmed glasses, further adding to his maddened look.
Without response, Chryseis simply shook her head. Her expression, however, was as insane as his. Their mutual recognition of each other was enough.
"Look, mister, you must have the wrong girl..."
A crash resonated throughout the street. The other men with the one holding Chryseis's wrist literally flew from the alleyway which they had turned into. It was only then that the man they were chasing made his appearance. He was far away—too far for any features to be made out—however judging from the glisten of the sun against some metallic device on his arms and legs, he was a Distorter. From their distance, they could just barely see the non-Distorters try to get up. The Distorter made a motion—a stomp of sorts—and the earth beneath his assailants cracked, and flew upwards, once more sending them flying.
Sirens whirring in the distance broke through their silent observation. "We have to help him!" Chryseis tore off the man's grip, and began in an awkward run toward the scene. She was not exactly in the best clothes for running, and thus she almost had a 'wardrobe malfunction', one might call it, as she neared the Distorter.
"What? Chryseis!" The falangmei called desperately after her comrade, to no avail. Holding her skirt in a somewhat elegant fashion, Lihua started in a run behind Chryseis.
The police were closing in around the Distorter despite his efforts to throw them off. On a totally insane notion of justice, Chryseis leapt over the nearest wall of law enforcers. Pushing her back foot just a bit harder, she created a small gust of wind to propel herself over and directly into the Distorter. Her foot literally collided with his face, knocking the man backwards so that Chryseis landed just in front of him. Before her back leg could fully hit the ground, she spun around and created a circular strike of air which would knock all of the police backwards, and give the two a bit more space.
What few of the police chose to stand again would be met with a great torrent of fire from Chryseis's fists. They were warning shots, intended for nothing more than to keep the distance.
"Can't you get us out of here or something?" Chryseis asked the other Distorter. He grumbled something unintelligible through gritted teeth. But his meaning was clear, or at least apparently clear. In a swift, circular motion, he ran his hand along the ground. The street turned to sand, sucking the two down underneath before turning to stone once more.
They were in some sort of dank tunnel. Chryseis created a tiny flame, just enough to shed some light. A few rodents scurried away. With the new light, she could clearly see the other Distorter's face. His most prominent feature at the moment was his great, crooked bloody nose courtesy of Chryseis herself. However, underneath that he appeared to be quite an attractive individual: fairly pale, with light brown tangled hair atop his head.
Emerald green eyes assessed Chryseis, quickly deeming that she was not a threat. "What you did back there was stupid," he noted simply while trying to deal with his nose.
"I get that a lot."
"I can only imagine." The response was mumbled, and sounded like he was congested through the torn fabric cleaning the blood off his face.
For a moment, there was silence. With the centralized light, Chryseis could only see about three feet in each direction. The walls appeared to be stone, with an apparent moisture build-up. At a glance, Chryseis would guess that he had dropped them into a sewer. "So how much time before the police follow us down here?"
Now the Distorter looked at Chryseis as if she was crazy. "Not long," he answered her question, but with a slight pause afterward. "Why did you help back there? It was probably the stupidest thing I have ever seen someone do. You do understand that the authorities will be after you too, now?"
"Oh, that's nothing new," Chryseis shrugged off his concerns, still casting her light around. "I'm Chryseis, by the way," she added.
"Eli," the Distorter returned awkwardly. "Back there... you distorted two elements?" The manner with which he addressed the issue made it sound as though it had only just occurred to him.
"Then the authorities are already after you."
Another silence followed their conversation. "I can't say I exactly know how to get out of here..." Eli trailed off, admitting the flaw of his plan. "Honestly, I just expected to get arrested again, but I didn't want you—a stranger—to get messed up in the drama of my life too."
"Well, my friend was just showing me around. I'm sure I could lead us back to Madam Lao's barbershop if you can get us out of the sewer once we're there."
Her suggestion was returned with a nod, and the two began their trek down the sewer system.
"No," Madam Lao spoke as soon as the two ascended from the ground of the barbershop. "No." She repeated once more. Lihua and a stunned version of the man from earlier were in the back corner of the room.
Startled beyond words, it took Chryseis a few moments to register. "No to what...?"
"Professor Eiramo here told me everything." After saying this, Madam Lao paused. "I don't want either of you bringing the police into my business. As it is we have to pay a fat margin of our profits for them to turn a blind eye."
"But Madam, it's only—"
"No, dear," she repeated this response again. "Think of how the story would look to the public: police arrest two criminals in a brothel but let the illegality of the business slip. No amount of money would make that worthwhile to the police."
Chryseis glanced back at Eli, who was shooting her a look of distaste at the failure of the plan. "Madam Lao," the young woman began, turning back to the madam. "The police are on high alert for both of us. We won't last ten seconds out there..."
"And that is why you have to leave," Lihua interjected. The falangmei crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes at Chryseis. "The professor told us that you can both distort two elements. One way or another, someone will give you up whether you're here or out there. And in one of the ways, you don't ruin the lives of about a dozen women."
"Both of us...?" Now, Chryseis's attention was directed towards the Distorter whom she had just rescued. Even so, she knew now was not the time. "Please Madam, you know how horrible I am in the city..."
Madam Lao pursed her lips. "'No' means 'no', dear." However, after saying this she paused. "I can give you some money, but I doubt it'll buy you anonymity, my dears."
Once more, Chryseis opened her mouth to argue, only to find another hand grasp her wrist. "Come on Rys, if we leave now we can still get a head start," Eli pulled back on her, fiery eyes watching the others in the room. They did not argue.
Initially, Chryseis blushed. Not because of the suggestion, but because someone she had just met was already calling her by a shortened name. She wanted to deny his offer, but as she looked over the faces of the people she had foolishly come to trust, she knew that Eli was the only way she'd make it anywhere. "All right..." Chryseis mumbled her response while turning away from the others. None of them argued as the two started into a run into the street.
Eventually, the two found themselves in an abandoned warehouse with a couple hour lead on the police. The sun was setting, and the moon rising over the hazy city. Neither knew their way around the city very well, but their senseless ducking and turning was enough to throw off the authorities. Fatigue was setting in, and they knew that they could not run for much longer.
Everything happened so fast... They were sitting on old scaffolding, leaning against large wooden beams so as to keep their balance. Now that they had a moment to rest, Chryseis thought it time to bring up her concern with Eli: "You can distort two implants."
"Yeah," he replied simply.
Chryseis narrowed her eyes. "So... what's the story behind that?"
"I could ask you the same thing." Eli sat up a little bit and gestured towards Chryseis. "You don't even have any control implants!"
"Well, I asked first."
Eli sighed and leaned backwards. "I suppose you did." Preparing to tell a tale, Eli shifted a bit to make himself more comfortable. "Both my parents were Distorters. Water Distorters, to be exact. I was born with the ability to distort water, but I was never able to control it." He rubbed the control implant running along his arm. "To keep me from destroying things, they fitted me with control implants and have adjusted the size whenever I grew out of a pair. Needless to say, this means I wasn't exactly in my parents' custody."
"When I was thirteen they decided to give me a real implant: an earth distortion implant. It was pretty successful, and they were about ready to implant me with fire distortion before the Professor Eiramo talked them out of it. Said that he worked on an experiment where they tried the same thing and the subject completely shut down. Now, seven years later, they tried to give me another implant and so I just made a break for it." After explaining this, Eli sighed again. "Now then, I have a hunch you're this subject who shut down, and I think your story will be far more interesting."
Chryseis shifted uncomfortably, nearly falling off the scaffolding. "Well, when I was a kid I got really sick. My parents called in a doctor friend, who turned me over to the military. They experimented on me, some people helped me escape, and now I'm here."
"You're skipping an important detail," Eli smiled mischievously, pointing at her accusingly. "In between the experiment and being saved, you died, and somehow the people who saved you brought you back to life. Who saved you, how did they save you, and why did you come to a hellhole like this if someone obviously saved you and kept you in a safe little place for quite some time?"
"Fine," the response was reluctant. "But my story is a lot longer than yours."
"I expected as much."
Chryseis slowly took a deep breath before speaking. "Eleven years ago, I died after some scientists tried to implant me with a third distortion implant. They sent me to a crematorium, but my body rejected the flames. I don't know how, but apparently my inner ability to distort fire saved me. And so their competitors couldn't use their work, they removed my implants and dumped me in a ditch. A normal civilian found me, connected the dots, and there was public outrage. In the midst of everything, a monk took my body back to a monastery in the East. The monks used some technique they called 'Energybending' to bring me back to life. Apparently it was completely unheard of and caused quite a stir within their community, but here I am. "
"At least that's all stuff that they told me after I woke up. When I woke up, I found myself in the monks' temple high atop a mountain. They were all male, and dressed in strange clothes. As anyone would have been, I was confused. They told me that they called themselves the 'Air Acolytes', and were the primary drivers behind bringing back bending."
"Bending?" Eli interjected, confused. It was apparent he had heard the term somewhere and thus felt the need to clarify.
"Bending. It's like distortion, except people were born with the abilities. It's what caused the war which lead to The Rebuild in the first place." Chryseis took a deep breath to continue, "They told me that the ability I was born with was bending, and not distorting. That was all they told me at first. I found out that almost the entire East has outlawed distortion and embraced bending, leaving only this island here in the West. Of course everyone is so isolationist here that they haven't even realized this. "
"Just before they left, they told me I was the center of some prophecy. It got really weird, and so I took one of their pet air bison and left. The beast took me to the Red Light district and then left without me. I almost got raped, got saved, helped you, and now I'm here."
"Prophecy? What sort of—" In midsentence, the room grew extremely hot. Both looked down to see the old wooden floor of the warehouse ablaze. "The police must have sent fire distorters to burn us out of here!"
Standing up on the scaffolding, Chryseis rushed over to Eli and grabbed him by the collar. She shot a fist behind her, creating a gust of wind to propel them out a nearby broken window. Glass tore at their flesh, but they made it out alright.
And into the trap set by the police. They were surrounded again. Just like before, Chryseis fought them off while Eli turned the ground to sand for them to sink through. They were halfway down before the ground suddenly hardened again. A police earth distorter had slammed his foot on the ground, and now three other distorters of the same element were keeping them stuck in the ground. Both their arms were submerged, and they were rendered helpless.
- Brain vomit chapter...
- For lack of a better name, I named Eli after a Korean pop singer...
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