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P-132

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P-132 is a rewrite of Project 132 (beta) and, therefore, also a reboot of The Resolutions of 132 and Typical Tragedy. It has its basis in those stories, but does not take place in a world related to users or wikis, though it includes many of the former as its cast.

The story takes place on Trine, a planet with two moons housing a single, whirlpool-shaped supercontinent in an otherwise empty galaxy, devoid of all stars except the sun.

Two characters- Christopher Lockheart, based off the author, Tabuu- and Maximilian Cynd II serve as the primary narrators.

This story is written with the assistance of Tucker Wooley.

- Part 1: Golden Fang

Navigate by clicking the tabs.

No such thing as...

January 3rd, Year B-263

Have you ever tried to imagine an empty universe?

Oh, God, you’re probably thinking, He’s starting this off with a question about life, the universe and everything. Too pretentious for me. Fuck this.

I’m not pretentious, there’s a reason I asked you that.

Okay, maybe I am a little bit pretentious. Or a lot.

Look, just stick with me for a second. Don’t be like that.

The reason why I started with asking you a question like that is because, well, I’ve tried to imagine an empty universe. When I was a kid, my pops asked me to and I shut my eyes, put my hands over them and said “It probably looks something like this”, because you aren’t born a pretentious asshole, you’re raised to be one.

He told me I was wrong, because I saw darkness. Like absence-of-sight is sight, right?

Well, he explained to me, it is. There’s apparently no such thing as nothing, and that still really, really confuses me.

There are two elements above all the rest in this world. Light and Darkness.

Everything you’ve ever touched, felt or saw is made from some combination of the two. Earth, for instance, is a perfect balance of them.

Neither of them create on their own- they need each other for that.

Creations can destroy, though.

A lot of people have learned that the hard way.

That aside, hey.

My name’s Maximilian Cynd. The second. Just call me Max, Maximilian’s my dad, and he’s a pretty great guy all around.

I turned twenty today. Being a prince among the only known humans on Trine made for a pretty great celebration, as it does every year. My father wasn’t able to turn up, though, since he and my mom have been off nobody-knows-where trying to find things outside of the valley these humans were born in.

My mother’s name is Meiro. She’s not even technically human like my dad is, she’s apparently a goddess. Her true form’s a great, white snake and she’s a creature of Darkness. She has siblings, though- the Great Beasts- and they created this planet we live on, Trine, before my dad came from Lum, the second moon in our sky.

On yeah, moons. Two moons. Sol, the first moon, and Lum, the second moon. No stars in our sky except the good ol’ sun.

I wish I could tell you a bit more than that. Why everything’s so weird.

But even my dad doesn’t have all the answers, and the dude’s a couple hundred years old.

You see, we- as in me and my dad- we’re the Cynds, and for some reason we live quite a lot longer than most humans do. My dad found the people we’ve started to rule over in this valley almost three hundred years ago after he descended from the moon, because unlike us, they aren’t immortal.

They have power, though, and my father has taught them how to use it. Maybe they aren’t as strong as us, but humans are apparently just as adaptive, because they’ve really started to figure out this stuff. At my party in the castle you had guys spitting fire and doing all kinds of crazy stuff.

It was sick.

Sick as in great, I mean. You know.

So I guess you could say I’m a bit of a spoiled, pampered prince. Son of a god among men and a literal goddess- pretty sick, if you ask me. I pretty much have everything I could ask for, and according to what they say I’m actually stronger than them, since I have both their powers and apparently magic just kinda adds up when it comes to frightening semi-bestiality.

Here at the bottom of the valley, we’ve gone from a little village to a huge friggin’ city, and we’re pretty proud of it. When you got people who can pretty much summon and control everything you need to build stuff with their minds, urbanization really isn’t much of a difficult task. It’s been two hundred years since my mom and dad came down here and we’re expanding into something bigger all the time, which is part of the reason why they’ve been outside of the city so much.

They’re trying to find the Great Beasts so that we can get their a-okay and assistance before we exit the valley, since the other Great Beasts- Cyria especially, the Wolf- can be very territorial according to my mom.

I’ve been told not to worry too much about it, though.

I mean, why would anything change?

Back to chapter select.

Time flies.
Masafumi Takada - Do Not Destroy

March 2nd, Year P-132
Christopher Lockheart’s Point of View.

Hey. My name’s Christopher Lockheart- it’s a few lines above this one.

Just making sure you knew that.

I am pretty much the definition of a failure. I dropped out of school and spend pretty much all my time playing video games and engaging in a variety of dumb activities that can only be summarized as “shenanigans”, because there’s really only one way to describe the actions of some slacker thinking he’s clever while doing things that blatantly scream otherwise.

Despite that, today’s my twentieth birthday. March 2nd, year...something. I kinda stopped counting after a while.

Hah, kidding.

The year is P-132. P stands for “Post”, as in after, and it’s the 132nd year since the beginning of the Fall of Blusk.

Blusk was our first city, at the bottom of the valley. Over the course of the year, battles between the human population and the Great Beasts raged on, and among the casualties included Maximilian Cynd, our first king. His son, Maximilian II, succeeded him, and under Max’s rule the humans militarized and expanded rapidly out of the valley, meeting opposition from the Golden Fang (a pack of divine wolves composed of Light energy, headed by Cyria, the Great Beast of Light) and the other groups of magical creatures the Great Beasts headed.

The war raged on for months until Meiro, our first Queen and the strongest of the Great Beasts, gathered them together to negotiate with her son, Max.

An evacuation of Blusk was ordered so that if the negotiations went south, nobody in the city would be harmed. Max’s most trusted lieutenant, a man named “Cecil”, took over for him while he was away, and at the bottom of the valley, Meiro met her estranged son and the negotiations began on December 31st, B-263.

On the day that would’ve marked the beginning of B-264, a great flood overtook the valley holding Blusk and the city itself was frozen in impenetrable ice. Nobody knows what happened- who survived, if anyone did- but years later, another Cynd- Max’s son- ascended to the throne and oversaw the extermination of the kin of the Great Beasts. His name was Hector, and he remains our current King.

I live on an island. It floats, but not in water.

Thousands of feet above the Great Lake of Trine- the name of our planet, supercontinent and country- the island of Urlo floats, powered by an unknown source.


Chapter One

Do Not Destroy



The morning started with my alarm clock screeching in desperation at 9 am, which I responded to by reaching for where it rested on my nightstand- even though I intentionally put it out of my arm’s reach so I’d be forced to get out of bed in the mornings- to the point where I lost my balance on the edge of the bed and just fell out of it.

My floor is wooden.

My older brother- Patrick Lockheart- he’s a bit of a celebrity. Our family, the Lockhearts, we’re pretty much the best Darkness users on Trine, and we have yet to meet a person or group of people to contest that title. My brother leads the Cynd Royal Guard, who serve as both protectors from the occasional monster attack and our world’s police force. In his spare time, he’s a musician, and he makes a good bit of cash from that on the side.

So our family’s pretty popular and rich, basically, but after I dropped out of High School and proceeded to not do anything with my life, Patrick took a tough love approach and kicked me out. I was given a sizeable amount of money- enough to provide for myself for maybe a few years in a one-bedroom apartment- and I was allowed to take as much of my stuff with me as I wanted.

Rich boy life dictated I had plenty, and from the cold mountain town of Palacia Nevoso (located north of the Great Lake) where the Lockheart Mansion resided, I took a plane ride to Urlo to live with my eternal best bro, Tucker Lane, who I met on the Internet.

Thing is, I got kicked out when I turned eighteen. I’m twenty now, I have no job, and I’ve pretty much used most of my money already. I’m not even sure if I can make my rent this month.

The thing about a world where everyone has wicked magic powers is that there’s not much in the way of manual labor you can do, especially if you aren’t an Earth user- the bastards have that market cornered so hard.

As a Lockheart, I should be a Darkness user...except I still have yet to awaken any kind of power over the Darkness or any other element. Pretty much the only jobs available to me without a decent education are shitty service jobs and male prostitution, and apparently I’m not attractive enough for the latter.

So, shirtless, I pushed myself off my floor, punched my clock until it stopped making noises and proceeded outside, into the hallway and then into the bathroom just by my room, where I proceeded to stare blankly at my own reflection in the mirror and show my teeth to determine whether or not I should consider brushing them today.

After a horrible, boring morning routine that I won’t continue to recount, I vaguely did something involving a brush with my dark hair and put on a shitty jean and T-shirt combo, which has pretty much never led to anybody getting hired, now that I think about it.

Oh yeah...like a good birthday boy...I have a job interview today, and it’s going to be great.



It wasn’t. They’re not interested in hiring, they said, even though they were doing applications and interviews on-the-spot today and I was the first person in the door.

It was this local barbeque place owned by this family of Fire users who creatively used their powers for cooking (which I thought was a gimmicky and stupid way to use those powers, but let’s face it, I’d probably do the same thing if I could) and everyone in the little town on Urlo swore that they were the best in terms of local food you could ask for.

Fraglans Family Grill, I thought, Always hiring except not.

The streets aren’t particularly crowded before noon, so I was mostly able to proceed on my way home as lost in thought as I wanted to be.

I stuck to the right side of the street and proceeded down the sidewalk, taking in my surroundings with relative apathy until I found the one other person out walking at this time of morning.

Our paths met before the entrance of a park, where a large, spiral fountain was being illuminated by the red light of the sunrise.

The guy was about my height, but thicker and wearing a sleeveless shirt, made expressly to show off his admittedly-impressive set of arm muscles.

Despite the douchebag’s choice of wardrobe- though I’m really not one to talk- he was wearing a pair of glasses that emphasized a pair of ice-blue eyes that betrayed a kinder demeanor that I expected. He looked up at me with a vague look of acknowledgement before reaching up and scratching the top of his head through the curls of his brown hair.

“Hey.” I said, suddenly and awkwardly for reasons I didn’t understand at the time, “Where ya headed?”

He raised an eyebrow and his expression remained mutual as he responded, “Why’re you asking?”

Um...

“I was just, uh...not many people are out here in the morning!”

The stranger smirked. “If you say so. Headed to Fraglans Family Grill for a job interview. You know the place?”

I just left. “No,” I said, shaking my head for reasons related to anxiety and wanting to end this conversation as soon as humanly possible, “But good luck!”

I started to make a move to walk past him.

“What’s your name?” he asked, casually moving into my path.

“Christopher Lockheart.” I said, momentarily brightening at the mention of my own name.

“Wyatt Cen.” he said, holding out his hand, “Pleased to meet you.”

Jeez, this guy is weirder than I am...

I gulped and reached out to shake his hand.

The moment our skin made contact, I saw a bright flash of red and flinched in response, pulling out of the handshake.

“What’s wrong?” Wyatt asked.

I shook my head and rubbed my right eye. “Something in my eye.” I guessed.

“Oh, alright.” he looked slightly deflated, “See you later?”

“Yeah.” I said, “Sure.”

Wyatt nodded and walked past me, brushing his left arm against my right as he did.

I turned to the point of contact instinctually, my eyes meeting the fountain in the distance.

I felt like I wanted to say something then, to call out to the person I’d just met and apologize, but the words died in my throat before they left my mouth, leaving my jaw hanging ajar.

What just happened?



Later that night, I crashed into bed and stared at the ceiling after a long day of assorted video gaming and internet-purveying.

On this day that’s supposed to mark the end of my extended adolescence, I have done absolutely nothing to exit the sophomore slump I’m in.

No powers. No job, no money, no future.

I sighed and wished, for a moment, that tomorrow I’d wake up and everything would change.

That...wasn’t a good idea.

Back to chapter select.

Mad dance.
Rodrigo y Gabriela - Tamacun

January 5th, Year B-263
Maximilian Cynd II’s Point of View.

So a few days after I turned twenty, I heard reports of a man teaching people how to use Fire magic, assuming they were born with an affinity for it. As a Cynd, I lack an elemental affinity- which means I can use all of them equally. Since I have very little skill with Fire manipulation, I decided that a good way to learn would be from the guy they’re calling the best.

So I left the palace that night in casual clothes- white sneakers, blue jeans and a white T-shirt- and set out on a leisurely walk through the city of Blusk, happily greeting whoever happened to walk by as I made my way to the place where the Fire training was happening, the Arden Pit.

The Arden Pit was a bit outside of town, away from the big buildings and grassy suburbs. It was closer to the point where the valley began to steep upwards, and as a result the ground around it was mostly clay. It was a fairly large pit, too- you could pretty much fit a good-sized house in it, and for whatever reason people liked to use it to have cook outs and stuff.

My directions were somewhat vague, but after I spotted a pillar of smoke in the distance I put two and two together and chose to head in that direction.

When I got there, I discovered the source of the flame.

It was coming from coals in this huge pit that had been dug out of the clay, and there was this guy standing in front of it, in his bare feet, stomping and shouting and spitting fire. Every other move he made made the fire rise or glow brighter.

Vulc! Vulc! Vulc!” the people around the Arden Pit screamed, cheering the man on and, surprisingly, not paying much attention to me. You know, me. Royalty.

So is this what a normal person feels like? Watching the spectacle instead of creating it? I scowled to myself. This is boring.

The man named Vulc stopped for a breather and laughed, his eyes wild and his face alive with joy at the recognition he was making for himself. He was a brown man, muscular and wearing nothing but a pair of baggy, loose-fitting jeans with a belt wrapped around them, but there was a charm in his expression, behind the short, curly black hair, a man who spoke, felt and breathed passion as hot as his flame.

Men on the right side of the pit manned a pair of drums plugged into electrical amplifiers, hammering a heavy rhythm for Vulc to writhe to. Also plugged into amplifiers, except on the left, was a guitarist.

He put his hand up in the crowd respectfully went silent. “Okay,” he called out to them, “Who’s ready to try out the dance? If you can make this fire rise, perhaps you have the ability to create it!”

That madness of his was a dance?

I pulled my shirt over my head and tossed it to the ground beside me. “I’ll do it!” I called boldly, tired of this Vulc guy stealing my thunder.

The music the people on the drums and guitar were playing stopped immediately as the attention of Vulc, the musicians and the crowd snapped to me.

His expression changed when his eyes met mine and he realized who I was- and I, too recognized him.

It was an expression of fear and respect, completely unlike the cheer and passion he’d been exuding not a minute earlier. I recognized that expression from the guy at my birthday party who breathed fire, the way his face looked when he met my eyes.

A face that said please don’t be angry, your highness.

We- as in us, the Cynds- have blood-red eyes and white, feathery hair. We have a very distinct physical appearance as compared to our peers. Our skin is either ebony or ivory- and mine is the former, so we kind of stick out in a crowd.

He’s scared of me, I realized.

“Hello, your highness.” he called, in a lower voice, as the fire behind him began to gradually shrink, “I apologize if we’ve displeased you.”

I sighed. “Of course not!” I responded, flashing my trademark grin as I started to walk toward him, “I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about! What’s your name, son?”

I stopped a few feet in front of him, the fire blazing to our left from the pit. I saw the look of hesitation on his face, so I decided to start with mine, even though he already knew it. “Maximilian Cynd, Junior.” I said, holding my hand out for a shake, “But call me Max. You?”

He grabbed my hand uncertainly, but when his eyes met mine he grinned and the fire glowed in response, “Vulc,” he said, “My name is Barchetta Vulc.”


Chapter Two

As It Intends



Barchetta took a deep breath and exhaled, and the fire beside us lowered to the point where it was nothing but glowing coal at the bottom of the pit.

“So how does this work?” I asked.

“Take off your shoes.” he said, nodding at my feet, “Um, your highness.”

“Call me Max.” I said. “And why?”

“You need to feel the ground to know if the fire is becoming too hot,” Vulc responded, “There is a such thing as too much flame. Everyone else here’s barefoot, too.”

I nodded and kicked my shoes and socks off into the pile of coal, setting my bare feet on the hard, hot ground beside the fire pit.

“So how does this work?” I asked him.

The two-man band started playing again and Vulc flashed the same grin he had when he was dancing. “Fire,” he said, “Comes from the mouth. You have to breathe and scream and shout for fire. You want a dance for passion, and you want to breathe in that so you can make flame. Are you ready, your high- Max? It won’t be easy.”

I tilted my head and smirked. “I like a challenge. Let’s do this. Mirror your moves, correct?”

“I’ll start so you can get an idea on the rhythm,” Vulc said, “Watch.”

The man continued his frenzy, but this time I watched him carefully. He stomped with the rhythm of the drums and moved his body to the strums of the guitar, breathing in and out between every pause in the song.

“Max!” he said, “Come on!”

I nodded and started as the song increased in pace, mirroring his moves as best as I could, deep in concentration.

The fire wasn’t rising at all, and I scowled in irritation.

Breathe!” Vulc said, “Breathe it in! Don’t hold your breath waiting for fire!”

I exhaled and started to stare at his chest, matching the rising and falling of it as he danced and sang.

The embers glowed a little brighter.

“Yes, yes!” Vulc shouted, “Go, Max! Come on!

I grinned as I started matching his steps and breaths, moving like a reflection of the man before me as the fire started.

This is...this is great!

I showed my teeth in a wider grin and he laughed. “Here I was, worried princes didn’t know to live a little! It’s gonna speed up, Max, don’t hold back!”

He stuck out his tongue as the dance intensified, displaying a tattoo of a flaming, red salamander on it.

As the dance increased in intensity, I found it harder to keep breathing but I kept on anyway, despite the smoke and heat and sheer energy in all I was doing, the feeling of the crowd shouting Vulc and Max as we danced by fire.

The ground was hot, I was hot, but nothing ever felt quite so right to me as that dance in flame. It was a new beginning for me, I felt, and when Vulc challenged me to roar I wasn’t even scared.

“Are you sure?” I shouted over the raging flame, “I might just embarrass you!”

“You’re welcome to try, Max!” he shouted back, “Bring it on!”

The song became a brutal pounding of drums, and we stomped the ground to match it, pulverizing the hot clay at our feet as it intensified.

It hurt, but it was a good kind of hurt, the kind that just made the high I was on that much better.

I realized that this man in front of me was a friend- I had a friend now- and we were having a hell of a good time, dancing and shouting for a crowd.

The song neared its end and we started a rapid march back from each other, ready for the final pounding of the drums before we gave it all our all.

The song ended and, as one, me and Max stomped our right feet forward, leaned with them and roared into the sky, releasing white-hot twin columns of flame that illuminated the night sky.

The fire I summoned...I’d never seen anything like it.

I slumped in exhaustion with the end of the dance, putting my hands over my knees and realizing I was drenched in my own sweat but simply hadn’t noticed or cared over the duration of the dance.

Vulc, however, looked he wasn’t tired at all.

Geez, I thought, He’s been doing this all day, hasn’t he?

“Check it out, everyone!” he shouted to the crowd, “Our future king knows how to party!”

Max! Max! Max!

I gave a little laugh and pushed myself into standing straight, still panting with exhaustion. I put a sweaty arm over my equally sweaty forehead and rubbed in some vain hope of eliminating the perspiration, but it was no use.

I desperately needed some water, but at the moment I didn’t care.

“I’ve never done anything like that in my life!” I said, “That was awesome!”

Barchetta just laughed. “I’m glad you enjoyed yourself! Do we have any more volunteers?”

A young couple squealed from the crowd, the chick looking wild, sweaty and excited and the guy pretty much matching that.

“Come on, then!” he beckoned, “Let’s see how hot you burn!”

I made my way into the crowd as the couple walked up together to take my place and the music began to change to some song about a ring of fire that I blocked out.

I was just about ready to leave until a guy with blue-rimmed glasses offered me a bottle of water.

“Thank you.” I said, starting to open it, “What’s your name?”

He was shorter than me, maybe five feet tall. He had long, brown hair and looked a bit skinny and pale for this kind of thing. “Name’s Cobold Vaten,” he said, panting excitedly, “Wild night, right? Barchetta’s my friend.”

I smiled at that. “You have a good friend there.” I shut my eyes and started to drink from the bottle, exhaling softly from my nose after the first gulp of water went down, filling me with the strange kind of euphoria only a drink can give you after a long period of exertion.

“Yeah, he’s great. You know, I’ve been outside of the valley!”

I raised an eyebrow at him.

“I’m serious!” he said, “Me and my family used to live up there!”

I shrugged. “Why didn’t you stay?”

He frowned at that. “The Golden Fang drove us out. We had nowhere to go but down.”

“I see. Sorry to hear.”

He shook his head. “It’s no problem. But hey, a friend of Barchetta’s a friend of mine!”

He held out his hand for me the shake, and I couldn’t help but admire his confidence. “I guess so.”

We shook.

“It’s nice to meet you, Cobold.”

“Thanks, your highness.”

“Just...call me Max.”

Back to chapter select.

Untitled.
Interpol - Untitled

???
Christopher Lockheart’s Point of View.

I woke up on a sleek, hard surface, laying on my stomach and pushing myself against the ground whenever I exhaled.

I was laying on...diamond?

I pressed my hands against it and pushed myself up, getting into a standing position so I could look around where I was.

The walls and ceiling, like everything else, was just...diamond. Every surface was perfectly flat and through the reflections in the diamond, I saw that I was wearing an unfamiliar pair of black robes- and, judging from the sensations the rest of my body provided, nothing else.

I seemed to be suspended in a cube chamber inside a giant diamond, and that’s pretty much the weirdest thing I’ve ever had go through my head.

I noticed a glint of red in my reflection on the wall and walked over to investigate, finding that my eyes were glowing blood-red for...some reason?

I remembered the flash of red I’d seen when Wyatt and I touched hands, and I quickly added two and two together.

Jeez...what did this guy do to me?

“It’s not that simple.”

I nearly jumped out of my fucking skin.

I sharply turned to the source of the voice, seeing a figure in white robes with gold patterns across the chest standing in what seemed to be the center of the room.

The fuck are you?” I spat, “The fuck is this?

“You have more pressing issues to be concerned about, Locked Heart.”

Lockheart.” I sighed, “Get it right.”

“I knew a man named Lockheart once,” the man in white said, “And he had a Locked Heart until he found his Lane.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You talking about Edo Lockheart and Xzelion Lane?”

“But of course. They are the first known men to use those surnames.”

“Those guys died two, three hundred years ago,” I said, waving my hand, “There’s no way you know them. No human being lives that long.”

“Did I say I was human?”

HIs voice echoed in the chamber we were seemingly trapped in, and for some reason his question made my heart sink.

What are you?” I whispered.

“This isn’t about me, Locked Heart. This is about you...and choices you will make.”

I sighed and shook my head.

“Would you choose a long life of boredom or a short one of adventure?”

“What’re you saying?” I demanded.

“Just answer the question.”

“Adventure.” I decided.

“Interesting. Would you choose vengeance over forgiveness?”

“Depends.” I shrugged, “What happened?”

“You will know soon enough.” He reached his hand out to me, “Now, tell me...do you want to build or destroy?”

The world shook and the diamond around us cracked.

“What kind of question is that?” I shouted, twisting my head around to survey my surroundings.

“An important one. Will you answer or not?”

The cracks in the diamond around us multiplied and the world shook again, so hard that I barely kept my footing.

Fuck no!”

The man in white sighed.

“Then you have left this world to Ruin.” He turned his back to me and started walking away, “Farewell, Locked Heart.”

“Get back here!” I shouted, running after him.

My feet met the center of the room and the world shattered.


Chapter Three

Untitled



March 3rd, Year P-132
Christopher Lockheart’s Point of View.

If I were interested in theatrical embellishment of an already absurd tale, I’d tell you I woke up screaming that morning, shaken to my core at the revelations I’d been exposed to in sleep.

Doing so would be classified by my conscience as a Grade A Fucking Lie, and typically I can only handle transgressions of Grade C or lower, meaning I can’t lie to you about this one.

Yeah so I just kinda groaned when I woke up because my alarm clock is loud and I had left it on the floor the previous day so I was forced to lean over the side of my bed and reach for it.

I touched the big fat reset button and then allowed myself a moment to mull over what I had dreamt about.

Diamond-place. Man who is not a man in white. World left to ruin.

Yup, I’ve definitely been playing too much RPGs.

With that mystery dead and buried, I decided to completely disregard whatever ominous feelings I had on the matter and proceed to bother my tenant/roommate/best friend, Tucker Lane, who lives upstairs and does not take kindly to people knocking on his door when he’s asleep.

Unless they’re me.

“Tuck!” I called, obnoxiously beating on his door, “Wake up!”

I heard his groan. “It’s nine, Chris! It’s fucking nine!”

I could picture him in my head very easily at that moment. From the muffled sound of his voice, his face was still in his pillow and the combination of his blanket and dirty blonde hair likely completely concealed human skin.

“Yeah, nine!” I said, “You know what that rhymes with? Shine! Like rise and shine like wake up, dude!”

I heard an incredibly loud, exasperated sigh that told me my sick rhymes had convinced my best friend to wake up from his slumber.

“What’re we gonna do?” Tuck called.

I momentarily considered telling him the job thing from yesterday hadn’t worked out, but I thought against it. “Training session!” I called back, leaning against his door, “I’m gonna go get ready!”

I heard him sigh. “Fine. You’re on.”

After running through my morning routine- haphazardly showering and tossing on the jeans, T-shirt, sneakers and black jacket combo I’m so known for- I strapped an old claymore in its sheath to my back and set out, meeting Tucker on the way.



Tucker Lane’s Point of View.

My entire body felt tender and filthy. I hadn’t bothered to shower in a couple days. Clearing the morning crust from the corners of my eyes and watching Chris descend from his personal womb, I feared he would say the thing he always d-

“You look like shit, man.” he remarked, my suspicions realized.

“Okay,” I responded, “Early-morning training session? We could do anything else.”

“It’s fucking nine,” said Chris, “Do you want me to drop more sicknasty rhymes on you?”

“Don’t get cocky,” I answered, “Only fuckin’ business people wake up at nine.”

We exited the Lane Residence- a large three-story house far outside of town, in its own section of the woods- and set out from the back door to the field comprising our massive backyard.

“Well, bitch,” Chris retorted, giving my shoulder a playful shove before running ahead of me, “It’s business time.

I gave a dry laugh and watched Chris jog ahead, slowing to a walk when he thought I couldn’t see him anymore. We had been friends for years over the internet, but it wasn’t until he’d turned eighteen two years back that we’d been able to spend extensive amounts of time together.

I watched his waiting figure standing over the dew-soaked grass in the distance and thought The sooner he gets his powers, the better, as I jogged ahead to catch up to Christopher Lockheart, Doubt I use mine any better than he could use his.

“So,” I began, giving Chris the same shoulder-shove he gave me a minute ago, “Whatcha been up to?”

“Just doing my thing, I guess,” said Lockheart, not meeting my gaze and scowling, “Had a weird-ass dream last night.”

“Oh man, I did too!” I said, trying to relate, “I dreamt I was riding a horse, but the horse was my kindergarten teacher. I had to solve math problems while we got swallowed by a supermassive black hole. It was pretty great.”

At that moment I noticed Chris’ concerned stare and decided not to tell him about the part where I had sex with a bear.

We came to the center of the field, where the grass was cleared for a rectangle of plastic-y all-weather terrain track measuring two yards diagonally, and without words, we came to the center and turned to face each other.

“You sure that old sword can withstand another one of these?” I asked, “Don’t wanna destroy any Lockheart heirlooms.”

Christopher Lockheart shrugged. “If a blade breaks, it’s a shitty blade.” he rationalized, placing his right hand on the handle over his shoulder.

“Alright,” I said, stepping back while he did the same, “You ready?”

“You bet.”

I outstretched my hands and flexed my fingers, a little bolt of electricity dancing between them.

Chris stared directly into my eyes. “Draw!” he said.

In the same instant, my best friend brandished his claymore before him while I conjured the twin cutlasses that my Lightning Affinity powers manifested in.

Both our blades glowed with the dark blue aura of Mamoru, a shielding charm, which would prevent the possibility of us actually cutting each other in this session but wouldn’t do much for blunt force trauma, which a heavy claymore is particularly good for inflicti-

I blocked his downward swing for the top of my head with an X-shaped guard with my cutlasses, something that certainly would’ve damaged their edges had Mamoru not been applied to them.

I stepped back as he pulled his weapon back and prepared another slow, predictable swing for my right side, which I was forced to block again.

This time, as he was pulling back his blade, I stepped forward and swung my left arm, crashing my cutlass against his claymore. He scowled at me as I did this and I slashed my right-handed blade for his unguarded side, planning to put an early end to this training session of ours.

I saw his eyes widen as he realized my plan, and there was a faint flash of red as he...dodged?

With speed I’d never seen from him, he pulled back, completely dodging my right swing. The aura of Mamoru on his blade was replaced with an aura of the kind that had appeared in his eyes- blood-red- and he lunged forward with his arms over his head, preparing for another downward swing.

I realized two things very quickly.:

1. That is not Mamoru. He’ll actually cut me if that attack lands.
2. He just awoke his powers and he doesn’t even know.

I dispelled Mamoru from my cutlasses and they crackled with lightning as my best friend swung the claymore he’d inherited from his grandfather, Amadeus Lockheart, who had inherited from his own grandfather, Stane Lockheart, who had inherited it from his own grandfather, Alexander Lockheart, son of Edo Lockheart, who had obtained it from a battle with a creature of Darkness.

I slashed my cutlasses in a scissor pattern that bisected the ancient weapon before it finished its swing, sending the top of the old sword flying upward as the rest continued downward, uninterrupted.

Christopher Lockheart blinked, the red aura disappearing from his eyes as he looked down at his broken sword and sighed.

“Man, I knew this thing was a piece of shit.”

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