Well, after delaying this a couple times, I've finally finished the "movie", which is what I call it. To those old Blazing Dreams readers, this should answer few of your questions, and create a few more. I'm evil like that, aren't I?
First of all, I would like to say this. To those people who have not read Blazing Dreams before, don't worry. I've done my best to make this perfectly understandable to new and old readers alike, although of course if you read Blazing Dreams: Legends of Sinnoh, things should make more sense. But whatever.
A few more notes, then I'll let go ahead with the fic. One, this take place a week before the events of LoS, so try to keep that in mind while reading.
Second, the title. For the past two months, I merely used a working title, Blazing Dreams: The Eternity Crystal. Only a couple of days ago did I change to this title, so I'm not entirely sure that I like it. But it is what it is, so whatever.
Okay, almost done. Lastly, the third saga of Blazing Dreams, The Eternal Night, is of course, still on. Someone thought I canceled it for this, so I'm just letting everyone know.
So, without further meaningless blabber, Blazing Dreams: The Phantom Overlord. Enjoy!
~~~~Blazing Dreams: The Phantom Overlord~~~~
T~h~i~s F~i~c~t~i~o~n i~s r~a~t~e~d P~G - 1~3, f~o~r e~l~e~m~e~n~t~s o~f V~i~o~l~e~n~c~e, M~i~l~d S~u~g~g~e~s~t~i~v~e T~h~e~m~e~s a~n~d P~r~o~f~a~n~i~t~y.
The steady beat of the rain echoed in his ears. The wind howled, pounding water droplets onto his back.
A teenager, no more than seventeen, sat on a gnarled tree stump. Water poured from the sky faster than the ground could absorb it, and the surrounding clearing was quickly becoming a swamp.
He took no notice of the arc of lightning over head. His long, sodden brown hair fell down over his closed eyes. He ignored it, concentration unbroken.
The teenager opened his mouth, taking in a slow, deep breath laced with small droplets of water. The outside world raged and stormed, but the brown-haired boy ignored it. Deep down, he was at peace for the first time in nearly two years. The fury outside was nothing compared to what had been happening as of late, but at last he had found some, albeit small, peace.
Time seemed to disappear. He might have been there for a second. A minute. An hour. The only thing that mattered was the long awaited moment of peace.
He opened his blue eyes, breathing in deeply. He raised a pale hand, pushing his long brown hair out of his face. Water continued to cascade from the heavens, but the teenager took no notice.
The water flooded off his body as he stood up, gazing around at the scene. His white T-shirt was completely soaked through, clinging to his muscled chest. A faded pair of blue jeans clung to his waist.
A sudden gust of wind blew into his face, but instead of looking away or shielding his eyes, he smiled. “About time...” he said softly. The words were quickly swept away by the ferocious wind.
The teenager stepped off of the stump, setting a bare foot into the several inches of mud. Duncan McNeil looked up, smiling like he hadn't in nearly two years.
“Here you go, honey,” said a woman, setting down a bowl of soup on a table. “Careful, it's hot.”
“Thank you.” said a girl, smiling at the waitress. The waitress nodded and walked away. The girl laid her head on the table, absentmindedly watching the steam pouring out of the bowl.
She yawned, rubbing the back of her neck. Her long blond hair ran down past her shoulders, spreading out on the table. She looked to be seventeen, with a heart-shaped face that was currently frowning.
Sighing, she sat back up and picked up her spoon dispassionately.
The girl looked up and gasped. “Duncan! What happened to you?”
The teenager smiled, looking down at the trail of mud and water he had brought in. “Oh. Nothing. Just went out for some peace and quiet.”
Michelles' eyes widened. “What the hell? It's a freakin' hurricane outside!”
Duncan smiled, a genuine smile that hadn't made an appearance on his face in quite some time. “What can I say?”
She continued to squint suspiciously at him, then shrugged and returned to her soup. “Nothing, I suppose,” she said. “Just don't do that again, okay? The weather men are telling everyone to stay indoors right now.”
The brown-haired teenager shrugged, ignoring the stares of the surrounding patrons. He sat down in the chair opposite Michelle, glancing around at the diner. It was very small, with only eight small, wooden tables and a bar where the waitress sat. “What are you having?”
She shrugged, resuming her vacant seat. “Cream of Mushroom. I'm not really hungry. Just came here to pass some time...”
He nodded. “Yeah, I know. I'm really sorry about this,” he motioned toward the window and splattered it with mud, much to the dismay of the waitress. “I thought Lilycove would be a nice place to spend your birthday. Didn't think there would be a hurricane...”
The girl smiled, patting the teenagers' hand. “I know. It really is nice here usually. You know, it really was sweet of you to do this.”
“Thanks,” said Duncan. “Ah well. We better head back to the hotel and pack back up. We can catch the ferry back to Eterna tomorrow.”
Sighing, she nodded and picked back up her spoon. “Yeah...”
He smiled. “Cheer up. It's your birthday!”
She shrugged, swallowing a spoonful of the soup. “Heh. I'm another year closer to wrinkles and sagging.”
The teenager laughed. “You're seventeen!” he exclaimed. “Are you serious?”
She smiled, taking another spoonful of soup. “It's true, you know. Guys have it so much easier than us girls...”
Duncan continued to laugh, clutching his side. “You've got me there...God, if I did thirty minutes of make-up every day my face would fall off...”
Michelle smiled, rubbing her cheeks thoughtfully. “Yeah, whatever...you know, I'm not hungry anymore.”
“Yeah, okay...” he said, still grinning. “The hotel is like, twenty blocks away. You don't mind getting wet, do you?”
She frowned, plucking at a strand of hair. “I guess not...”
“Okay then,” said Duncan, standing up. “You have any money?”
“Yeah,” said the girl, standing up and reaching in her small black purse. “Erm...seventeen dollars...”
Duncan winced. “I thought we had more than that. Pay and we'll get out of here, okay? I'll wait by the door.”
“Sure,” she said, walking over to the glowering waitress. Duncan flashed a smile at her and walked over to the door. He gazed out the rain-soaked window. A full fledged hurricane was bearing down on Lilycove City. Duncan sighed. It was sunny and warm three hundred days a year. It had to be today, of all days, for a hurricane to come in and ruin all of his hard planning.
Duncan sighed. “Too bad we don't have an umbrella...”
Michelle grabbed his hand, and pushed open the door. “Just pretend it's a shower.” She winked at Duncan.
He grinned. “Works for me.” said the teenager.
Duncan rolled over, yawning. The alarm clock shone brightly in the pitch dark room, but he kept his eyes closed and attempted to go back to sleep. The soft beat of the rain was very calming. He felt himself drifting back off to sleep.
A small noise interrupted him. He opened his eyes again, grumbling something indistinct and rolling back over. The silhouette of Michelle against the diffused light coming from the curtains made him smile. They didn't have much money for this trip, but there were advantages to that. Such as having to share a bed.
The teenager grinned. Now who said that was a bad thing? Not him, for sure.
Pow! Pow Pow!
He snapped awake, sitting bolt upright. “Michelle, get up!”
“Michelle, get up!” he said sharply. He tossed the blanket off the bed, rushing over to the chair.
“Didn't know it was a full moon tonight...” muttered the girl.
“Quit being stupid!” he exclaimed, pulling on his pants and sliding his holster around his waist. “There's gunfire downstairs!”
“What?” she asked, propping herself up on her elbows. “What do you mean?”
“I heard shots being fired. Come on, get dressed and let's go!” said Duncan, throwing on his white T-shirt.
“Yeah...” she said. “Crap, it's 3:11. Do you really think that was gunfire? Couldn't it have been, I dunno. Something else?”
“No way,” said the teenager. He slid his pistol from its holster, examining it. “I've heard plenty of gunfire before. Get out of bed; we need to leave.”
Michelle sighed, pulling off the blanket and groping for her clothes on the chair beside the bed. “It's dark...I can't see anything...”
“Neither can I...” said the brown-haired teenager wistfully, staring at the girl's profile. “Why the hell isn't the light on? Don't I deserve something? Anything?”
Michelle laughed, pulling a shirt on. “Eh?”
“Never mind...” said Duncan, chuckling at himself. “Grab our bag and let's go.”
“Duncan, this is stupid! We don't even know if there's anyone downstairs,” moaned Michelle, climbing down the seventh flight of stairs. The walls were covered by a faded gray paint, with an ancient looking red carpet covering the stairs and floor.
“Shh,” said Duncan, kicking open the the door to the twenty-third floor. It was empty and quiet, just like the rest. “I need to concentrate.”
She sighed. “What's going to happen when we get to the lobby?”
“I'm going to see what's going on,” he said, turning toward the next flight of stairs. “And be quiet. They'll hear us.”
“This is a real way to treat me on my birthday...” sulked Michelle, hefting a duffel bag over her shoulder.
“Technically it's past midnight. Your birthday was yesterday.” he said, grinning as he checked the twenty-second floor entry door. This door, however, was not like the others. Just as the teenager was about to pass it and move on to the next, a loud bang was heard from down the hallway.
“Here,” he whispered, pointing toward the door.
The girl nodded, a shot of adrenaline waking her up instantly. Could there be something to this after all?
He stepped through the door, his eyes scanning up and down the hallway. It wasn't very large, with about twenty rooms to each side. Faded red carpeting lined the way from end to end, masking the sound of all footsteps.
Duncan pressed a finger to his lips, motioning for Michelle to follow. He entered the hall, walking toward a door that was ajar eleven doors down the hall.
He slowly crept up to the door, poking his head around the door to see what was inside. It was a small room with gray, concrete walls. Long, silver ducting ran floor to ceiling, and a man was standing in front of it. The hatch was open, and the man was inserting something in it.
“Back up and put your hands in the air.” said Duncan loudly, cocking his pistol for added effect.
It didn't work. The man whipped his head around, simultaneously withdrawing his pistol. Duncan didn't hesitate. He fired once, twice, three times into the man.
“Oh my God,” breathed Michelle, rushing into the room. She looked down at the dead man and gasped. “What did you kill him for?!”
“He pulled a gun on me,” said Duncan gruffly, lowering his gun. “Or tried, I should say. We need to get out of here, now.”
She nodded, wincing at the sight of the man. “This is horrible...”
“I know,” said the teenager, his face a mask of indifference. “Go wait out in the hall. People will want to come see what's going on.”
“Okay...” said Michelle. With one last look at the man, she walked out of the room and closed the door.
Duncan released the breath he had been holding. He looked down at his trembling hands as if they were covered in blood. He knew that they had to leave, but he needed to compose himself. A sudden memory flashed through his minds' eye.
“Very well, Dusek,” said a curt voice. “You may leave. But let me warn you. Should this ever happen again, I shall not hesitate to terminate your employment, as well as your life.”
“Yes, of course.” said another voice. The sound of chairs moving alerted a boy who was eavesdropping right outside the door, to quickly get out of the way. He turned around, trying to act inconspicuous. The boy was no older than nine, with brown hair that was already getting long and untidy. A navy blue T-shirt and brown shorts was his only camouflage. The door opened, and a tall man walked out.
He was dressed entirely in a black jumpsuit, accented by black Pokeballs on his waist and a large pistol in a holster across his chest. A black helmet lay in his sweating hands and a pair of black sunglasses and short black hair completed the look.
He began walking down the hallway for a moment before noticing the boy. “Duncan!”
Duncan jumped. “Oh! Erm...hi Mr. Dusek...” he said nervously, fidgeting his fingers.
The man squinted at Duncan. “Hello Duncan,” he said, attempting a smile. “Been listening to any good conversations lately?”
“What?” exclaimed the boy. “No, no way! I wouldn't do that...”
Dusek smiled kindly at Duncan. “Aren't you supposed to be training right now?”
“Yes sir...” mumbled Duncan, looking extremely embarrassed.
“Well, let's just keep this between us, okay?” said Dusek. “No need to let your mother know, is there?”
“Really? Thanks...” said Duncan, smiling widely at Dusek. Laughing, he continued down the beige hallway.
“Whew,” said Duncan. “That was close. I better get back to work.”
Suddenly the door opened again and there was nowhere for Duncan to hide. A tall woman with greenish-brown hair walked out of the room, a folder in one hand and a box in the other. She also had a jumpsuit on, though hers was a deep purple. She looked down and scowled at Duncan.
“What are you doing here?” she asked sternly, squinting at the boy.
“Um...my instructor let me out early...” lied Duncan. What was the harm, he reasoned with himself. One little white lie wouldn't hurt anything.
The woman scoffed. “Pathetic. That is the final straw. Come in my office, Duncan. I'll give you a lesson.”
Duncan swallowed. “Actually, I'm okay now. Really, Mom.”
The woman gave him a fierce gaze, and Duncan knew she meant business. He followed her through the door.
It was a small office, with nothing but a desk and two small chairs on either side of it. Not luxurious by any standards.
“Um, Mom?” asked Duncan, nervously looking around the empty room. “Can I go now?”
“No.” said the woman. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a large cellphone. She dialed a number, tapping her finger against the desk, clearly annoyed.
“Hugh, get in here now!” she barked into the phone. She slammed it down on the desk and sat in the chair behind the desk.
Duncan swallowed again. He really wished he had a cup of water right now. His stomach was churning with guilt and anticipation for what was about to happen.
He didn't have to wait long. Only a few moments later, the door opened and a man entered.
The man was only about five feet tall, with a long brown trenchcoat on and thinning hair. He nervously rubbed his mustache, looking to the woman. “Yes?”
“Don't give me that!” yelled the woman. “You are being to easy on Duncan! Letting him out in the middle of the day!”
“But I didn't!” protested the man. “He snuck off!”
“Is that true, Duncan?” asked the woman, looking at Duncan. The boy rapidly shook his head.
“So now you lie to me...”
“No, of course not!” exclaimed the man, but fell silent with one look from Lily. She was furious.
“That is it. Duncan, I'm going to teach you a lesson today,” she said. The woman reached down and withdrew a pistol from her holster. She flipped it in her hand and extended it, butt first, to Duncan.
Duncan hesitated, then took it. “Mom...”
“This is a real lesson, Duncan,” said the woman. “He deserves it, you know he does. He has been a useless teacher to you.”
“Please!” cried the man. “Have mercy!”
Duncan looked down at the pistol in his hands. His heart was racing and his palms were sweating, but he steeled himself. He raised the pistol and fired a shot into the man's head.
The mans' mouth opened, as if to scream, but no sound left his lips. He fell backward to the ground and remained silent.
The woman smiled. “Very good. This is the first time you have killed someone, no? Get used to it.”
Duncan shook his head. That was one memory he had not thought of in years. He swallowed, walking over to the man. Something was wrong, though. A black strap ran around the back of the mans' head.
He flipped his over and gasped in horror. The strap was holding a gas mask. The teenager quickly scanned the room, looking for some reason for the gas mask. Then his eyes fell upon the vertical ducting and his jaw dropped.
There was a square hole that had been cut in the ducting, and a black device taped to the back of the duct. Duncan's eyes grew huge as his mind put it together. He rushed over to the duct and stuck his hand in it. It was a ventilation shaft.
“You've got to joking me...” he said, sticking his head into the shaft to get a better look at the black box. It was about six inches square, with a black metal housing. Vents ran along its' sides and front. Duncan ran his hand across it, searching for some sort of panel. He found a latch and popped it open.
It was a maze of jumbled colored wires, running all around. Two features stuck out, however. One was a small silver box with two phials of green liquid in them. The other was a red timer. It was ticking backward, showing 0:48.
“Holy s***!” exclaimed Duncan, leaping backward. He turned around and flew out of the room, nearly knocking over Michelle, who was waiting outside. The pair went tumbling into the wall with a loud THUD.
“What the hell?” cried Michelle, disentangling herself from Duncan.
“Don't ask, just run!” yelled Duncan. He grabbed Michelle and sprinted for the end of the hallway.
“It's a dead end!” exclaimed Michelle. “What are you doing?”
The pair made it to the end of the hallway, but did not stop. A loud hissing noise sounded from behind them, but Duncan did not slow. The pair barreled straight out the window, falling twenty-two stories down in the process.
The girl opened her eyes slowly. Duncans' face drifted above her own, ebbing and flowing like the tide. She felt every drop of water glistening off her face, the cool breeze blowing gently on her. The hard, cold surface she was lying on did nothing to comfort her, but she didn't mind. What was going on?
“Up you go...” said Duncan, placing a guiding hand on her back and helping her to an upright sitting position.
“Thanks...” she said softly. The girl gazed into Duncans' blue eyes, so filled with concern for her. He reached his hand for hers', and the moment seemed perfect. His fingers grasped hers and she closed her eyes, utterly enjoying the moment.
“Come on, let's go!” exclaimed Duncan, yanking her to her feet. So much for romance.
“What's going on?” asked Michelle, looking around. They were beside the pool outside the hotel, and seeing as the pair were totally soaked Michelle thought it was safe to assume that they had fallen into the pool. The conspicuous lack of them being dead also strengthened this notion.
“There was a biological bomb in the hotel. We had to jump out the window to dodge it, but we really need to go.” said Duncan, grasping Michelles' hand firmly and leading them away from the pool.
A short gate encircled the pool, but it was easy work for the pair to climb over it. They started walking away from the hotel, towards the parking lot.
It was still early morning and the sun had not yet reached the horizon. The grass was already thick with dew and the dull street lamps illuminated the parking lot that stood right on front of the hotel.
Michelle and Duncan made a brisk pace toward the parking lot, but the girl couldn't help looking back at the hotel. It was still quiet, and nothing seemed out of place. Then, like a punch to the chest, she saw two bellhops sprawled out on the floor directly in front of the clear glass door. One had his hand mere inches away from the door, and salvation from the deadly gas that had already filled the hotel.
Suddenly she felt faint. She looked up and down the hotel, but all was quiet. That could mean only one thing.
“Duncan, stop!” said Michelle.
“No,” said Duncan gruffly. “It's too late for them. If we go in there we'll have the same fate as them.”
She nodded slowly, her heart fit to burst with sadness. Then something happened to make even Duncan become overwhelmed. One of the bellhops, the one closest to the door, raised a quivering hand at the pair. Already he was covered in red sores, but he had enough strength left to shout one last word.
With that last word, he collapsed and spoke no more.
Michelle broke down right then and there. She fell to the pavement, crying harder than she had ever in her life. Duncan dropped to one knee, staring at the dead man with a silent look of prayer.
Then he stood back up, dragging Michelle with him. “We need to go.” he said. Michelle said nothing, still crying loudly, but she allowed herself to be steered to the parking lot and to an awaiting rental car.
Duncan reached into his pocket and pulled out the key, opening the door and sliding Michelle inside it in one swift motion. He walked around to the other side if the car, pausing one last time to look at the hotel. With a silent vow of revenge, he got in the car, leaving the hotel behind.
The thrum of the engine did nothing to calm Duncan. Though his eyes were trained on the wet road, his mind was far away.
Screams...pain...death...it was all he could think about. He squeezed the steering wheel, his knuckles whitening. The world had been out to get him from day one, but he had just blocked it out. He refused to surrender, and he would not now.
He shook his head, looking over at the passenger seat. Michelle was sleeping, as she had been for the past three hours. Duncan smiled softly, turning his attention back to the road.
The horizon was a reddish hue, the sun about to rise. He settled into the seat, gazing at the scene. How beautiful it was, the rise of the sun. A time when the day conquers the night, only to be overtaken by the inky blackness once more. It was an endless chain, never to be changed or forgotten.
He sighed. It was very similar to what has happened in his own life. Forever changing, at some times light. Other times, dark.
Michelle breathed in suddenly, and Duncan roused himself from his thoughts to look back at her. She opened her eyes slowly, looking over to Duncan.
She nodded. “Yeah...”
“Good,” said Duncan, looking down at the clock. “We'll be there in about thirty minutes.”
She yawned, rubbing her eyes. “Where are we going?”
“A safe house. I don't know what happened back at the hotel, but I'm not taking any chances.”
Michelle cringed, closing her eyes. “What did happen back there?”
He blinked. “I don't know. It might have been a terrorist attack.”
“I don't believe that,” said Michelle. “We've been hiding from Dusek for two years now. The second we leave, this happens? I just can't believe it's a coincidence.”
“It's not.” said Duncan harshly. “Just, leave it alone, okay?”
Michelle frowned at Duncan. “Do you know something I don't?”
“Damn it Michelle, drop it!” exclaimed Duncan, pounding his fist on the dashboard.
“Don't take this out on me,” said Michelle quietly. “I know you're hurting right now. So am I. Just don't take it out on me.”
Duncan fell silent. “I'm sorry.”
Michelle nodded, patting Duncan gently on the shoulder. “Do you want me to take over?”
Duncan opened his mouth, then shut it. His eyes were squinting at the rear view mirror. “S***!”
“What?” exclaimed Michelle, twisting her head around. At first, it looked just like the rest of the dark road that laid behind them. Then a pair of headlights lit up, revealing a black sedan was approaching rapidly from behind.
“Hang on!” said Duncan, down-shifting the car and flooring the throttle.
Michelle began smiling in spite of herself. “This reminds me of one of those cheesy car movies you're always watching. What's it called? Gone in Sixty Seconds?”
Duncan swerved into the other lane of the freeway, passing a slow car. “That is the best car movie ever!”
“Uh-huh,” said Michelle, buckling her seatbelt and grabbing a hold of the door handle. “It's so stupid.”
Duncan slammed on his horn, causing a car in front to swerve out of the way. “Now is not the time.”
The car bucked violently, and Duncan jammed the shifter into place. Even though the speedometer was exceeding one hundred miles per hour, the black sedan was still gaining.
“Do something!” exclaimed Michelle.
“What do you suggest?” he asked waspishly.
The girl opened her mouth, but a shot was fired that shattered the rear glass. Glass fragments showered the pair.
The girl screamed, ducking down. Duncan reached a hand over to keep Michelles' head down, swerving the car out of the line of fire.
It was futile, however. The black sedan pulled right up to the rear bumper of the car, ramming it and causing Duncan to lose control. The car slid around, lifting up into the air and flipping multiple times.
Instantly Duncans' head collided with the dashboard, and he blanked out for a moment. When he opened his eyes, he found himself sprawled out on the roof, covered in debris from the crash.
He coughed loudly, trying to sit up. The second he tried to sit up, a wave of pain swept over his body and he fell unconscious.
A whirl of color swirled in front of Duncan's eyes. Vivid blues, greens and reds flashed across his eyes. He breathed in, but his chest felt constricted, as if something heavy was lying on it.
Slowly he became aware of the pain coursing through his body. He tried to block it out, but it overcame him. Wave after wave of the red-hot sensation swept over him. His breathing became more and more ragged and his muscles began contracting.
Block it out... The thought circulated his tired mind, moving alongside the life-giving blood and helping to calm him. Block it out...
Gradually his heart rate began to slow and his chest didn't feel so restricted. He opened his eyes by a crack.
A totally dark scene met his eyes. He tried to wave his arm in front of his face, but his arms were numb and wouldn't move.
With a feeling of dread, Duncan pulled down on his arms. No good. He attempted to twist loose, but all he got for his trouble was a sharp pain in his wrists.
There could only be one explanation: His arms were shackled, well above his head.
This brought up a whole new set of problems. He took a deep breath, trying to gain composure. Where was he?
Duncan groaned softly. Whoever had wrecked them had not wanted to kill them, at the very least. He closed his eyes in concentration, though it didn't matter. It was much too dark to see anything anyway.
This and the hotel were certainly connected, but how? There was a major difference between the two events. In the hotel, whoever it was had no discretions about killing everyone in the hotel, Duncan and Michelle included.
This enemy was different, however. Though he felt like he had been through a car crash (which he had to keep reminding himself was the cause of the pain), he was certainly not dead.
So there were two enemies. Who were they? The teenagers' heart skipped a beat. It couldn't be...
His minds' eye flashed back.
“RUN!” cried Duncan. All color was drained from his face and his eyes were nearly bulging out of his head.
He grabbed Michelles' hand, running down a white corridor. The footsteps echoed loudly, bouncing off of the immaculate white tiles. A rumbling sounded from behind them, shaking specks of dust from the ceiling.
Suddenly a burst of wind blasted their backs, and Duncan turned his head backward. What he saw forever changed him.
A tall boy, no older than fourteen, ran only steps behind Duncan and Michelle. Duncans' heart nearly stopped as he saw a huge wave of translucent blue energy fly toward them, devouring everything in its path.
Time seemed to stop. The energy caught up with the tall boy, engulfing him. His eyes widened with shock as he fell, reaching out a hand to Duncan.
He fell right through the wave. Duncan was horrified to see the boy ejected out the back of the wave, entire body on fire.
Then he felt himself swept up by the energy, and everything went blue...
He clenched his fists. Perhaps one of the enemies was Dusek. Just as he began unraveling this train of thought, the sound of a door opening filled his ears.
The sound of a door closing soon followed, and he froze. The sounds were coming from behind him.
Slow steps in his direction soon followed. Duncans' heart began pounding in his chest and he gave another tug on the shackles. Nothing.
A dim light turned on above him. Before he could look around, a bag was put over his face.
Duncan bucked, trying in a last futile attempt to get free. Soon, however, he was dropped to the ground.
“Urgh...” grunted Duncan, the fall made all the more painful by his bruised and battered body. He was grabbed by the shoulders and lifted forward.
Duncan took a large gulp of air, tensing his body. He expelled all thought from his mind, concentrating on keeping his cool.
A hand was slammed on the back of his head, pressing it forward. An icy cold feeling enveloped his head, forcing out all air.
Duncan tried to remain collected, but the fact that his head was being held underwater did nothing to calm him.
Slowly the seconds ticked away. His chest began to tighten as his reserve of oxygen began to give out. The uncomfortable feeling gave way to a burning feeling as his lungs tore the last particles of oxygen from the air.
Finally he could hold it in no longer and released the air in his lungs. He began to shake, gasping in water. The world began to swim as his mouth filled with water. At the point when he thought he could take no more, he was pulled backward and flung unceremoniously onto the floor.
Duncan rolled over onto his knees, expelling the water in his throat. The first breath tasted sweet, but before he could get a second breath a crashing blow slammed the side of his head.
The teenager collapsed on the floor, still gasping for breath. He was still disoriented by the lack of oxygen, however. A pair of hands grabbed him by the arms, pulling him upward. Duncans' head lolled down to his chest as his arms were chained back up to the ceiling.
The hood was pulled off, and Duncan squinted around at what was happening. A thin trail of blood ran across the floor, leading straight to him. A blurred shape approached him and the soft scrape of metal coming from his hand did nothing to calm him.
“Where is the Eternity Crystal?” rasped the man, his knife glinting in the light. “Or do you want more?”
The world began swimming for Duncan, but he focused his eyes on the man for just a moment. He was dressed in dark blue swimming gear, with a skull and crossbones emblem across his chest.
“E-eternity...Crystal?” he mumbled before the world dissolved around him.
Duncan opened his eyes slowly. His arms were still shackled to the roof and the same man sat in front of him, swinging his long knife back and forth. Duncans' eyes followed the knife back and forth, watching as the pale light glinted off the knife.
He grinned at Duncan. “About time. Didn't want to miss the show, did you?”
The teenager frowned. “What?”
The man twisted around, motioning at someone behind Duncan. “You'll see.”
Another man, dressed in the same blue diving suit with skull and crossbones, walked up from behind Duncan, dragging an unconscious Michelle behind him.
“Michelle!” exclaimed Duncan. He began pulling back and forth on the shackles, straining to be free. The first man silenced him quickly by pointing his knife at Michelle.
Duncan froze, examining Michelle. Her hair was disheveled and streaks of mud and grease were all over her face and hair. Her clothes were ripped and she sported many deep cuts all over her body.
“Here's the deal,” said the first man, waving the second man away. “You tell me about the Eternity Crystal, or I carve up this pretty little girl with my knife here.” He emphasized the threat by sliding his knife across Michelles' cheek,
Duncans' mind lit up. He thought hard, running through all of his options. Try as he might, he couldn't truthfully say he had ever heard of the Eternity Crystal. That left only one option.
“Fine.” said Duncan, screwing up his face in resignation.
The man smiled, pulling the knife back. “I'm listening.”
“I have the Eternity Crystal,” said the teenager. “I hid it.”
The man frowned. “You hid it, eh? Where might it be?”
Duncan swallowed, feigning fear. It wasn't very difficult. “In the Eterna Gym. I-I hid it behind the Gym...”
The man tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Pretty pathetic,” he said, spiting on the ground. “You're lying.”
Duncans' heart skipped a beat. “How do you know that?”
“Heh,” said the man. “Your going to bury the Eternity Crystal behind a Gym? S***, pretty pathetic.” With that, he lifted a hand down and picked up one of Michelles' limp arms.
“NO!” cried Duncan, straining to get loose.
Right as his knife touched her soft flesh, a low rumbling sound shook the room. The man pulled the knife backward, frowning.
The low rumbling grew louder, and the metal around them began to creak and shutter. Duncan felt his teeth begin vibrating in his gums, and knew this was the time to act.
With one strong pull of his arms, he swung his legs in the air and landed a crashing blow on the back of the mans' head. He staggered, falling forward into the wall, unconscious.
The brown haired teenager seized his chance. He pulled his legs off the ground, desperately trying to break the shackles.
Again and again Duncan pulled on the shackles binding his arms to the low roof of the room. The rumbling grew louder, and cracks began appearing on the metal walls of the room.
“MICHELLE!” cried Duncan, abandoning his futile attempt at breaking the shackles. “Michelle, wake up!”
There was no response from the limp girl, as the vibrations picked up in intensity once again. The noise, now deafening, combined with the massive force of the vibrations were tearing Duncan apart from the inside. The entire room was breaking apart, and with a sudden leap of horror he saw dribbles of water leaking out of the cracks.
At first, it was almost imperceptible. Then a small spurt of water exited from another crack, then another spout of water began spraying into the room.
There could only be one explanation. They were underwater, and the room was about to collapse.
Instead of fighting it, Duncan relaxed. It's over, he thought calmly. No more having to worry.
The cracks began widening, and water was already covering the floor. Duncans' eyes slowly gazed around at the room, and at the water that was creeping up over Michelles' face.
His heart was wrenched from his body. “NO!” he cried. It couldn't be happening...no. Michelle could not die on his watch. No. It just wouldn't happen.
With this thought firmly in mind, Duncan pulled his legs off the floor and prepared for one last pull. By now, the deafening noise had caused him to go nearly deaf, and the vibrations were so bad that trickles of blood were leaking from his ears.
With one huge gulp of air, Duncan pulled down on the shackles, which broke instantly. He fell to the wet floor. Knowing there were only seconds remaining, the teenager knelt down and picked up Michelle, throwing her over his shoulder.
He was working off of pure adrenaline now, but he hoped that he could hold for long enough. Turning to his free shoulder, he rammed the crumbling wall. Instantly the wall collapsed, and the contents of the room rushed out, Duncan and Michelle included.
Everything was a vicious cycle of water and debris for Duncan, but he knew that the only way out was to swim up. Michelle was weighing him down, so he had to paddle that much harder.
After a moment, they were free from the churning water, and the teenager made for the surface. He looked down, and nearly lost his held breath. They were escaping from the massive underwater base, which was now collapsing at an amazing rate of speed. Huge walls fell faster than their size would suggest, and a huge tower fell down and exploded, sending a rush of water toward Duncan.
He knew that he couldn't look back again, and continued paddling furiously toward the surface. His breath was already running out, and his lungs were screaming for air for the second time that day. But Duncan continued on, finally breaking through the water.
He panted heavily, hefting Michelles' head out of the water. She was incredibly pale, and was clearly not breathing.
Duncan looked around, only to see Lilycove harbor a couple of hundred yards away from where they had surfaced.
He began paddling furiously toward the shore, his mind filled with the events that had just taken place. It all seemed so surreal.
He shook his head. That could wait. He had to get Michelle to shore, fast.