Friday, October 4, 2013

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Eleven // Escape and Capture

 Friends and Enemies

Chapter Eleven

Escape and Capture
by Willow Silver Black
   The dark passages of the fortress hadn't been so foreboding before. Now the damp darkness was cruel and uninviting. Willow, Killian, Teclemith, Kadesh, and Shemesh all ran as fast as they could through the eerie darkness. Their pursuers were too far behind to catch them now. We might make it! Willow thought, gasping for breath as she lagged behind.
   "Hurry!" Teclemith hissed, grabbing her wrist and pulling her forward.
   Finally reaching a small escape gate on the side of the wall, Killian unlatched it and beckoned them through. Thick trees and underbrush crowded the way as the raiders tried to slip through them. The sound of hooves hitting the ground reverberated though the silent forest. They were being chased!
   "Quickly!" Killian ordered. "We must reach the horses before we are overtaken!" There was no time for answering him, as all of his cohorts were saving their breath for the life-or-death sprint. Willow didn't want to think about what the bad guys would do to whoever was caught. It wouldn't be pretty.
   Twang. A black arrow smacked the tree to her left, startling her. Instinct pricked her mind, and she drew a blue-feathered arrow from her quiver as she ran, strung it, turned back, and fired a deadly shot at the now visible against the foliage goblin archer. The shot proved accurate.
   She was the last to enter the clearing where they had left the horses. Teclemith grabbed her wrist, swung her into the saddle behind him, and kicked the horse into a canter as fast as he could. Because Willow hadn't originally intended to come along for this part of the trip, she double-rode with Teclemith because there were not enough horses to go around.
   Muttering under his breath. Teclemith dug his heels into the horse again. He was a older animal, and wasn't as urgent as the other horses. He also wasn't keen on carrying two people. Willow cast a worried look over her shoulder. Their pursuers were gaining on them.
   "Teclemith..." she warned.
   "I know, go, you idiotic animal!" Teclemith ordered the horse, digging his heels as hard as he could into him. He broke into a tooth-jarring gallop, clearing fallen logs with uncomfortably close jumps.
   The air was now full of black arrows, some whistling dangerously close to the duo as they thundered through the woods. Willow certainly didn't fancy getting shot with a goblin arrow, and whatever nasty substance they'd rubbed on the arrowhead. Letting go of Teclemith, she used her previous horse experience to hold onto the horse with her knees, which alone proved almost impossible. But managing to keep her balance, she slid another arrow from the quiver on her back, and started neatly picking off the bow-wielding goblins. But she didn't take out the people. Emmeth had insisted on not hurting the people unless absolutely necessary.
   Then without warning, the horse reared high, whinnying wildly. Willow tumbled backward, landing with a painful thump on her back that knocked her breath away. Teclemith managed to somehow land on his feet, and now tried to pull her to her feet. Half-dragging, half-carrying her, he slid to safety behind a grove of trees.
   Several horsemen pounded by.
   "Whew!" Willow whispered hoarsely, gasping for breath. "I didn't mean to fall," she apologized.
   Teclemith grinned. "I don't think you could have helped it. I fell off, and I've been riding since infant-hood!" She giggled. He motioned for her to be quiet, then pointed.
   Nodding silently, she slid an arrow out and laid it on her bowstring. Then mentally estimating the distance, she stepped out of hiding, and picked off several goblins while striding for the cover of another tree about fifteen feet away. Flattening herself against the rough tree bark, she grinned across the clearing at Teclemith. We might make it!
   Stringing her bow once again, Willow counted the hoofbeats of the approaching horses. Two, she estimated. Taking a deep breath, she stepped out from her hiding place to take out the goblins. Unfortunately, she hadn't counted on them being non-goblins. And seeing her first.
    "Got you, Rebel!" cried a guard, using his sword to knock Willow's bow out of her hands. Not thinking, she dove for it on instinct.
    "No!" Teclemith yelled, leaping into the clearing to defend her. Jumping off his horse, the guard's sword flashed in the early morning light as it collided with Teclemith's. Willow had by then grabbed her bow and was now reaching for an arrow. But as she did, she didn't notice Tajoreth galloping up behind her.
   He leaped down, darted forward and grabbed her wrist as she reached for an arrow, and twisted her into a headlock. Pressing his long sword against her throat, he called to Teclemith. "Drop your sword!"
   Teclemith had no way not to comply. He dropped his sword, and the guard tackled him. Willow struggled against Tajoreth's iron grip, while he used his sword to point to a nearby tree.
   "Tie their hands to that tree to await my brother," he ordered the guard. Nodding the guard shoved Teclemith roughly against the tree and ordered him to raise his hands. After he complied, the guard nodded for Willow. Tajoreth pulled her over, and the guard tied their hands above their heads to the tree.
   "A fine fix we've gotten ourselves into," Willow whispered, trying to twist her wrists free. Teclemith looked grim.
   "We're in for it now," he muttered. "Kedemeth and I are not on the best of terms."
   "Well, at least least I'm a girl, and they can't do anything that bad to me, right?"
   "I suppose. Unless Tash gets a hold of you. I'm sure he would love one of the Four to show off."
   "Great..." she trailed off, looking worried.
   Sudden hoofbeats dashed the silence, and Kedemeth and a really ugly goblin rode up, each on a jet-black horse. Swinging down from his saddle, Kedemeth smiled cruelly.
   "Well done, brother!" he complimented, slapping his brother on the arm. "Ah, Teclemith! It has been a while, brother-in-law," he grinned.
   Willow twisted around to stare at Teclemith. "Brother-in-law?!"
   Teclemith looked pained. He nodded slowly, staring at the ground.
   Kedemeth raised his eyebrows. "You mean that he hasn't told you? We are future brother-in-laws. I am betrothed to his lovely sister, Hyaline."
   She choked, but said nothing. Poor Hyaline. Poor, poor Hyaline.
   Kedemeth mockingly bowed to her. "My apologies, dear lady. It appears that you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. A pity indeed."
   Willow lifted her chin defiantly. "Even darkness must pass. A new day will come.And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. That was a quote by Samwise Gamgee the Brave, sir. And I believe it with my whole heart."
   Kedemeth's face twitched slightly with annoyance. "Take them back to the fortress. I don't want them to escape, do you hear me?" he demanded, glaring at Zeeb the goblin. Zeeb nodded shakily.
   With a swift nod, Kedemeth swung himself back onto his horse. "I shall go inform my father and lord Tash about our unexpected visitors. I shall be back by sunset."
Stay tuned for Chapter Twelve // A Failed Escape

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Watchmen Files // Chapter Four

Yes, it's me, Darrion, with yet another chapter of The Watchmen Files!

   This chapter will be more explanatory than the others, as you will read... 

The Watchmen Files
File One
Chapter Four
The Family Business 

    Jason left the Captain (who had other business to attend to) in the bridge and lead them down various halls which had been empty when Mason first ran through, but now was filled with people scurrying back and forth in their uniforms, giving him (who had old ripped-in-all-the-wrong-places jeans and a worn blue T-shirt) a suspicious eye. But they were all respectful to Jason, who he guessed was a pretty important guy with the fancy title and all.
   After a short time, they reached a door that was labeled B.R.D.
   "This is it, the Briefing Room D. It's a tad bit larger than the others."
   It (like everything else on the sub) was more than large. It was absolutely humungous. The structure was much like a movie theater, but each row had leather seats and one long clear counter in front of them with a file-folder placed neatly on top.
   "Go ahead and take a seat, and we'll start the show," Jason gestured to the numerous rows and headed up to the stage. Standing behind the clear pulpit-like stand, he tapped twice on the microphone and the first slide came up on the enormous screen.
   "Every picture that'll come on the screen is in the file-folder that you should take with you when you leave. But for now, just leave it alone and watch.
   So the first slide is of Heinz Kruger, transferred in 1940 from Gestapo to Hitler's science division, Hydra."
   An old black and white image came on the screen of a man that had black hair and looked suspiciously like Mason's dad, Hans. "Did you say Kruger?"
   "Hold your horses, I'm getting there. Anyway, in 1941, he was given a very delicate and important mission. Have you ever seen the Marvel movie Captain America?"
   Mason thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Enlighten me."
   "The movie was based on real life advents*.
   You see, America had been working with Dr. Abraham Erskine on the Super Soldier Serum, which would enhance all the physical and mental abilities, working in conjunction with Vita-Rays to trigger the effects on the subject's body chemistry. The subject would be superman strong, maybe even stronger. America wanted to make an army of such soldiers, thereby winning the war.
   And of course, Schmidt wanted that serum for himself, so Kruger was disguised and sent in. After Erskine subjected Rogers to the super-soldier treatment, Kruger made his move. He set off and explosion, shot and killed Dr. Erskine, and made off with the serum. Rogers went after and captured him, but Kruger committed suicide by a cyanide capsule before he could be interrogated.
   But that wasn't the end of the Krugers. Heinz had a son, Ulrich Kruger. He was devastated when he heard of his father's death, and vowed to avenge his blood."
   Mason was perplexed. "But I thought you said he committed suicide?"
   "That's what the report said, but he probably thought they were lying. And when Hydra broke off of the German Empire and was crushed by American troops led by Captain America (Steve Rogers), Ulrich, now an adult, secretly continued to run factions of Hydra himself. He sold out-of-his-time weapons to the highest bidder, and grew Hydra factions in many different nations.
   But, back to World War Two (when we still believed in private business, small government and it's limited powers) a group had been privately formed, but with the government's funding. They were called The Watchmen, and their job was to watch over potential threats and protected important people from them. They worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. and still do. They were requested by the U.N. and assigned by the U.S. to watch over and disperse Hydra before it became too powerful. But Kruger was smart, and he was very careful to get away without giving them any captives to interrogate.
      In the meantime, he got married and a year later, she had his first son, Jens Kruger. He sent him private tutors, since he was next in line to inherit the chair of Hydra. And two years later, Hans was born."
   "Wait... Hans?" Mason sputtered. "Like, my... my dad?"
  Jason shifted his stance and continued, "Mason, your father Hans was a smart kid. He was trained by some of the best scientists of the day, and he created ingenious machines at a very young age. But Hans lived to serve his older brother, Jens, who took full advantage of that. From childhood, Hans' dream was to recreate the super soldier serum, and on his death bed, Ulrich charged him with that very thing. He promised that he would.
   When he died, Jens wasn't kind to his little brother. He worked him day and night, not much sleep, no weekend breaks. He didn't believe it was possible to re-create the serum, and thought it was foolish to even try.
   But Hans did make the serum. It took him many attempts and a lot of outside help, but he finally did it.  And he needed a test subject. After speaking with his brother, Jens finally gave him a dozen of them. But the serum was very precise, and it needed the right DNA to work properly. And Jens hadn't let Hans have anyone else's but his own. So when he tried the serum on the subjects that Jens gave him, they went wrong.
   Jens finally figured it out, and he accused Hans of treason. He thought that Hans was trying to make himself a super soldier and take over Hydra. He of course said that was not the case, but Jens didn't believe him and had him thrown out.
   Now it was Hans' turn to be furious. He knew he had to do it, even if his brother got in his way. He had made a promise, and one he intended to keep."
   Jason pause and took a sip of water.
   "Well?" Mason urged from the edge of his seat. "What did he do?"
   "He did it. Himself. To himself." He observed Mason, who looked like a child waiting for his favorite story to be told. "And it worked. Sort of."
   "Sort of?"
   "There were... side effects that weren't anticipated."
   The overhead screen showed a blob (who he was assuming was his dad, you know how old footage pixelates) burst through a wall and began smashing everything in its path.
   "Every scientific breakthrough has its side effects," Jason shrugged and winced as the blob overthrew a tank. "The serum didn't change his size or stature at all, but his body had five times the capability of a normal one. But it effected his mind and emotions far more than intended. He had two fazes of his reaction:
   The first was anger. If he was provoked, he could get so angry it would take control. He would become unpredictable and dangerous, as seen on this video. But there was a visible warning if he was about to go into that stage: his skin would pulse a glowing red color. Odd, but effective.
   The second was fear and helplessness. As you will see in a moment," he gestured to the screen as Mason observed tanks and large machinery rolling in and making his dad run. "When the fear kicks in, he can (and will) run for miles on end without stopping. That stage also had a visible warning: his skin would pulse blue instead. He would do anything to get out of there now, which is what he did."
   The camera changed views so he could see his dad running away through the woods faster than anything he had ever seen.
   "You see," Jason continued, "the Hydra facility was deep in the woods, away from all attention. But just outside the forest was a Watchmen safe-house, which they knew was occupied at the time.
   Jens sent tanks after Hans, wanting to kill and be rid of his brother. But Hans' skin was also five times stronger, which mean he was only pushed by the blasts. Jens thought he was dead, so he called off the team."
   "Jason?" Captain Barton had soundlessly joined them and was now strolling up to the stand. "May I?"
   "Of course."
   He took the stand and looked to Mason. "I was the Watchman staying in the cabin when your dad was running from Hydra."
   "You?" Mason looked puzzled. "But you're the Captain!"
   "I wasn't then. Everyone starts at the bottom of the chain, and you've got to work yourself up.
   Anyway, Hans eventually ran out of energy and hid under some bushes, where he slept till I found him. He wouldn't wake up even then, so I just dragged him back to the cabin. He was freaked out of his wits when he woke up, but I calmed him down and finally got him to turn himself in to the the Watchmen.
   But we worked the system, and he only had to serve in community service. In other words, he had to build us those ingenuous machines and become a Watchmen. And he was okay with that. In fact, I think he enjoyed himself.
   Then he was made a Watchman in the field, an agent, and I was his co-worker. We had a lot of missions, and a few assignments. And on one of the assignments, he met Jackie."
   "Mom? Why was he watching her? She's not a Watchmen too, is she?"
   Barton laughed. "No, no, she wasn't. Only men are allowed into The Watchmen. But he never told her about his past."
   "Never told me, either. I didn't know he worked for The Watchmen. He said he was an inventor!"
   "And he was. But when they had you, he didn't want to attract unwanted attention. You could get hurt. Keep in mind, Hydra was still out there looking for him."
   "So that's why he was gone all the time!" Mason shook his head sadly. "He didn't have to go. Why did he leave Mom?"
   "That's a more complicated answer. You see, when you were born, he didn't know if the serum would be in your blood too. Would you have the same condition as he did? He didn't want you to have to live like that. So when you were nine, he began experimenting on himself. He hoped that he could find a way to at least lessen the effect."
   "Didn't he learn about not experimenting on himself?" Mason questioned. "Obviously a bad idea."
   "He didn't exactly tell us about it. But they didn't work. They only made it worse. It made him very contentious and even more angry than usual."
   "Yeah, Mom and Dad fought a ton around that time. But the experiments didn't give him the right to just leave us like that."
   "And I'm not saying it did. He had no right to tear your life apart like that. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate, Mark 10:19."
   "Exactly." Jason nodded enthusiastically.
   "Come on guys," Mason shrugged with a slight annoyance in his tone, "not everyone believes in that stuff, ya know."
   Jason shrugged. "Not saying you do, but it's the truth."
   "Anyway...?" Mason brushed it off.
   "Yes, in the past your mother had run across illegal work the printing company she was working for had done, and that's why we were called in the first place."
   "Illegal? Like what?"
   "Sorry, that's confidential at the moment. But when your mom disappeared, we really didn't (and still don't) know what happened.
   We lost contact with Hans 13 hours after her disappearance was called in. As you know, it has been speculated that he was the kidnapper. That, I believe, is false. I wanted to prove this, but S.H.I.E.L.D. took everything from the safe house he was staying at. They still haven't released what was in it. But it must not be incriminating, or they would have let it out to us."
   "I knew he wouldn't do that!" Mason smiled confidently, but then changed to a more concerned look. "Where is he now? Is he here?"
   "We still don't know what happened to him. But we believe that Hydra has captured him because of all the new weaponry that they've been pumping out for millions of dollars at a time. Hydra scientists are smart, but they're not that smart. It's obviously your dad's handy-work."
   Mason leaned forward and put his chin in his hands. "How are they making him build? Why would he do anything for them, if he's a Watchman, a good guy?"
   Jason took the mic to explain. "They're most likely forcing him through threatening to hurt you. Ever since he left, there's been a cloud of Hydra and other interested parties circling you. We've kept them off. There's always been at least two teams assigned to watch you, making sure you're safe. They've got pretty close to capturing you.
   Other Watchmen have been keeping an eye on your family and associates. We're watching your aunt and cousin, Jenny and Annie, your former co-workers, your boss, and even your old girlfriend, Jessie."
    His eyes lit up. "Really? Wow, you guys are sure busy. Um..." He blushed slightly. " is she?"
   "Oh, Jessie?" Jason shrugged casually. "She's fine. Low pay, but fine."
   "Oh good," he sighed, then snapped back to attention. "So what happened at the apartment? Who were those guys?"
   A new slide came up, this one of the young man who had grabbed Ava, with other shaded characters around him. "Team Auszurotten, which means exterminate in German. Their leader, Sven Kruger, is the youngest son of Jens Kruger, your Uncle. He has an older brother, Dominik."
   "Where's Ava?" He had finally got to the most important question that had been on his mind ever since the attack on apt. 34. C.
   "We're not certain."
   "Not certain?" His brow narrowed with growing frustration. "What's that suppose to mean?"
   "Sven escaped into a getaway car with the little girl held at gunpoint, threatening to shoot. We tracked the car and found that they dropped him off with Ava and a helicopter picked them up. We followed them for twenty-five mile and then they opened fire on us, and we had to hold pursuit. We lost them. But, when we fired back, we hit them and found a plate of a rare type of Titanium mixed with another unknown metal that was shot off. I hope to try and track them through what information we can get out of that."
   "So you're basically telling me that you have no idea where Ava is?"
   Jason thought a moment, then nodded. "Well, I guess that's basically it. But we're going to figure this out, don't worry."
   "Don't worry?" Mason felt a surge of blood come to his face as he shot up out of his chair. "My cousin is out there with some Nazis and you expect me to just... wait?! No, I've got to find her! Now!"
   "I'm sorry, but there's nothing else we can do."
   Mason leaned back in his chair, running his hands through his dark hair stressfully. The only thing he cared about in the world was gone. This can't be happening. He looked up with determination. "Let me go find her."
   Jason's jaw dropped with surprise. "What? No, no."
   "I have to. You can't expect me to just sit around any longer."
   Jason was defiant. "I can't, in good conscience, let you go out there after one of the most dangerous groups of all time, alone, to look for one little girl, with no training whatsoever."
   "Then let me be on the team that breaks her out! I wanna be there!"
   He now looked uncomfortable and had a slight glare. "What are you saying?"
   "I'm saying I want to be a Watchmen."
   Jason nearly fell off the stage. "You what?" He gaped.
   "I wanna be a Watchmen. To get my cousin back."
   "I don't think you know what that means. A Watchmen is tough, he must have a certain level of skill that far exceeds what you've got. The cadets go through intense training-"
    "Where do I sign up?" They stared at each other, waiting for the other to give in. Jaw clenched, he stood his ground.
    Captain Barton, who had been quiet for the last few minutes finally broke the silence with carefully chosen words. "Mason, if all you want is to be there when your cousin is recovered, then I wouldn't suggest becoming a full-fledged Watchmen. But I think we can cut you a deal. How about you go through training and are assigned to the team, like you want, and then if the mission is successful, then you can decide if you truly want to be a Watchmen. One does not simply leave the Watchmen. It's a life commitment. But we are willing to give you this chance to try it out and see. Are you in?"
   He thought for a moment, then nodded. "I'm game."
   "Good, your talents can be a very useful asset to us. But we'll have to commence some tests to see how strong you actually are before you're assigned to a trainer, though I think I know just the one for you. Jason," Captain Barton gestured to him, "would you bring Cadet M.W.K. to his bunk?"
   "Yes sir."

   Ten minutes and a dozen halls later, Jason ushered him into a small, grey room with one bed in the far corner and a trunk at its foot.
   "There's a monologue of the things that were in your apartment, so you can pick and chose what you want. But it'll have to be small enough to fit in the empty space in that trunk. Oh," he handed Mason a file-folder, "you forgot this."
    Fingering it, he muttered, "Thanks," and plopped down on the bed. After Jason left, he opened the trunk and found a newspaper on the top. The headline read, 24-AND-6-YEAR-OLDS KILLED BY GANG in bold letters. The article was all about how a gang had mistaken apt. 34. C. as rival gang hideout and had attacked it, killing both the young man and his six-year-old cousin. And, of course, the gang members had got away. The man's name, Mason Kruger. The girl's name, Ava Ross. "So I'm dead now," he sighed. "There's no going back. Not now. Not now."
   With his old life behind him and his decision made, he slept restlessly, dreaming of poor Ava and what she must be going through.

*Not actually true, Captain America is fiction. I am not a conspiracy theorist, if that's what you're wondering :)

So there we go. Hopefully, I explained it enough for you, and wasn't too confusing :) The next chapter will talk more about the Super Soldier Serum and what it does to Mason and what it did to his Dad, Hans, who will make a short appearance in the chapter. I hope you come back next Watchmen Wednesday!