Chapter 1 - Nothing But Good News
Cape Central, an endless cluster of impressive skyscrapers, reflecting the mighty rays of the sun throughout the city.
Billboards and posters of teenage pop sensation Ivy Rose, are scattered on buildings everywhere, informing her countless fans of the next big concert.
Her long, gorgeous red hair seems to sway as the wind blows, as if brought to life by the images.
Hundreds of miles above the ground, electrically charged vehicles carrying passengers are seen travelling at great speed, hovering through several transparent tubes connected to buildings all over the city, while the streets below are littered with smut guzzlers.
The Council House looms over all the other structures.
Central Defense Force Soldiers stand guard outside the massive front doors, flanking government officials on each side as they enter, making their way to the meeting hall.
Inside, two women stand at the center, dressed in long white coats, each carrying a large intertwining ‘SS’ symbol on the back.
Restless government and military officials are lined off in their seats on either side of the pair, mumbling amongst themselves in anticipation of the latest public scolding.
The beautiful Marie Stanislaus seems completely relaxed, her soft milky skin still managing to glow amidst all the tension.
While Vanessa Terrell, not renowned for her abundance of patience, frowns at the large podium directly before them. Her smooth dark skin, intimidating stare, and faded, spiky hair style being her most distinguishable features.
On the podium sits Chancellor Rowan, a miserable looking man in his late 50’s, with the younger, more pleasant looking Vice Chancellor Voller sitting beside him.
Also seated on the podium are the representatives from the ten member states of the New Alliance: Gallia, Neustria, Larvos, Novalia, Ibonia, Somaria, Pyrus, Glacia, Necroma and Damoria.
Virtual labels are seen before each respective council member depicting their titles and the nation they represent.
Standing alertly behind Marie and Vanessa are their trusty bodyguards; Striker, a young man wearing a peculiar pair of gloves with a smiley face imprinted on the left hand, and a frowning face on the other, and Ghost, a young woman wearing a hood hiding most of her face.
Chancellor Rowan strikes the table with his gavel signaling the commencement of the meeting, bringing the entire hall to complete silence.
“About God damn time,” says Vanessa, much louder than Marie would have liked.
“By now I’m pretty much convinced the two of you like being summoned here,” says an annoyed Chancellor Rowan. “It seems over the years the Silent Storm has forgotten that their one and only mandate is to ensure the safety of the citizens of the Alliance, in the face of any and all abnormal threats.”
“We try to keep everyone safe Chancellor, not just citizens of the countries in the Alliance,” Vanessa rebuts.
The Chancellor pauses then responds, “That’s right, of course, forgive me my lady.”
“Take it easy V,” whispers a worried Marie.
The Chancellor looks on at Marie and Vanessa with absolute disgust as he begins to outline the reason for their summons to Council.
“Is it not a fact, my ladies, that in the past 12 months, The Silent Storm has failed to contain over a dozen ‘Awakenings’, as you people like to call it?”
Vanessa opens her mouth to respond but is hushed by the Chancellor, which angers her.
“And in each of those cases, is it not a fact that the individuals concerned have disappeared without a trace?”
The Chancellor pauses and stares at Marie and Vanessa once again, as if attempting to unearth their thoughts.
“Prior to that, disappearances had been few and far between, and you both assured us that everything was under control, but it’s starting to seem to us that your job is becoming a bit too much for you to handle alone.”
“Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn Chancellor,” says Vice Chancellor Voller. “These are trying times for us all,” he continues, much to the annoyance of the Chancellor, who stares him down into complete silence.
“Chancellor, if I may, without the help of the Oracles it has been truly difficult to pinpoint the exact location of Awakenings fast enough,” Marie interjects. “But we now have a device that can help us with that,” she continues with a proud smirk. “In fact, one of our best field teams is currently in pursuit of an Awakening as we speak.”
* * *
Five Storm Cycles hover around a deserted field with electrically powered engines operating silently in the background. Their sleek design almost entirely concealed by the tall grass.
Riley Stanislaus, a handsome 17-year-old with jet black hair, darts out of his cycle. “Brain, buddy, we’re wasting time here, how much longer are we supposed to chase our own tails?” he asks.
The scraggly haired Brain, tilts his horned rim glasses, sticks his head out the window, and whispers, “Riley would you please be quiet, I need to pinpoint the exact location of our new friend using my device, we can’t afford to just rampage through the field until we find him, we’re here to help, we can’t be seen as a threat.”
“Sorry Brainiac, but the rain man don’t wait on nobody,” says Riley, as he hurries back into his cycle and speeds away.
Brain tilts his head upwards, examining the sky as rain clouds suddenly begin to envelope the sun. He continues to stare at the sky as the smell of the petrichor floods his olfactory system and heavy rain fall descends upon him.
A loud continuous crashing forces him to refocus his gaze towards Riley’s direction. “Imbecile”, he says as he wipes his glasses, and races toward the commotion.
He sees Riley reveling in his element, the heavy rain serving as the perfect ammunition for the impatient buffoon.
With a simple flick of the wrist, Riley scatters beautiful spheres of water in every direction with high velocity, all with the intent of flushing out the new awakening.
“What the hell is that stupid jerk doing, he’s gonna mess up our mission, again!” yells Gale Radcliffe, a spunky blond, with wedge hair, as she positions herself alongside Brain and exits her cycle.
Not far behind, Muscle, a mountain of a young man sticks his head out of his cycle. “This dude never learns, does he?” He says, in his usual goofy tone.
A spiky haired mulatto, Jason Terrell, exits his cycle and exclaims at the others. “Don’t worry about Riley! I’ll make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid; you guys just form a perimeter around the field in case our target tries to make a run for it!”
Gale and Muscle agree with the ever-rational Jason, and begin to spread out as instructed, while Brain rolls his eyes and mocks Jason under his breath.
“Did you say something Brain?” asks Jason.
“N-n-n-o, of course not, Brain responds clumsily, while fixing the positioning of his glasses with an index finger, eventually complying with Jason’s initial command.
Gale raises her hands like a maestro leading an orchestra, summoning a strong gust of wind, lifting her above the ground.
As she prepares to hover into position, a concerned Jason interrupts, “Gale please be careful, we have no idea what this guy’s capable of just yet.”
Brain looks on in disgust as Gale acknowledges Jason’s warning and gives him a loving smile before hovering away.
“We’ll be careful too, just so you know,” says Brain.
Jason gives Brain a blank stare, before quickly being enveloped by streaks of electricity, then darts with great speed in Riley’s direction.
Muscle and Brain both start to move into position in their vehicles.
Jason races alongside Riley’s vehicle trying to convince him to calm down, but as is often the case, Riley ignores him, and continues to blast water bombs in every direction.
One of the blasts eventually manages to connect with something.
The force of the impact causes a young woman to roll out from the tall grass and into the open.
“Please stay back, don’t hurt me, I can’t control it,” the young woman says.
Riley examines her from head to toe. “It’s a chick, wow, and she’s pretty.”
He slowly moves toward her in his cycle, “How about we avoid an unnecessary fight and you come back with me. We can talk over dinner, your treat of course, I’m nontraditional like that.”
The young woman grabs her head in pain and lets out a desperate cry, shooting acid from her mouth, directly at Riley.
Jason stretches out his hands and summons a gust of wind to blow the acid away from Riley and onto the ground.
Jason and Riley turn to look at the ground where the acid fell and see a hole with thick smoke emanating from it.
Riley stares at the hole, then glances at the young woman, “Yea I don’t think we’d work out,” he says.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I can’t make it stop,” says the young woman, who is clearly terrified.
“By the way Jason, when the hell did you learn wind control?” asks Riley.
“It’s called practice brother, you should try it sometime,” Jason replies.
The young woman, unable to control her actions, fires a barrage of acid at Jason and Riley, which Jason manages to skillfully dodge with lightning speed.
Riley’s cycle is hit and begins to melt with him inside.
The young woman attempts to make a run for it and heads in Muscle’s direction.
Jason doesn’t pursue her and instead stays back to free Riley from the melting cycle.
He alerts Muscle through his wrist pad that the young woman is coming his way. “Keep your guard up Muscle, she shoots acid from her mouth, don’t let her get past you,” he says.
“She does what? You gotta be kidding me dude,” responds a concerned Muscle over the wrist pad.
Jason urges Gale and Brain to head over to assist Muscle, and they quickly move towards his position.
As the young lady speeds towards Muscle, he sees a giant boulder, and grins with intent. He then punches it, breaking it up into smaller pieces which he hurls at her with great force.
The young woman spits out acid and disintegrates each piece hurled at her while Muscle watches in awe.
Gale arrives at the scene and quickly summons a strong wind to blow the young woman off her feet.
Becoming increasingly flustered, she begins to spew acid in every direction, but Gale and Muscle manage to dodge her attacks.
“Hold her down so I can get a clear shot,” says Brain as he arrives at the scene.
Muscle charges, using a boulder as a shield as the young woman continues to spew acid wildly.
He manages to get close enough to hold her down, allowing Brain to line up a tranquilizing shot from his cycle.
The young woman passes out within seconds, after which Riley and Jason arrive.
“I’m glad everything worked out according to plan,” says Riley, to everyone’s chagrin.
“Let’s get her back to the Academy, says Jason.”
A terrifying chill suddenly grips Riley, as he senses a dark and intimidating aura.
“What’s wrong with you brother?” asks Jason as he stares at his clearly disturbed brother.
“I don’t know, I’m getting a really bad vibe all of a sudden,” Riley responds.
“Huh?” gasps a confused Gale, at which point, a young woman, wearing a black hood, accompanied by three young men, appears ominously out of nowhere.
The hooded woman slithers toward them, clapping in derision. “It seems congratulations are in order; The Silent Storm has actually made it before us for once.”
She glances at Brain’s device. “I see you’ve finally wised up. Anyhoo, just hand over the girl and I’ll consider only killing one of you,” she says.
“And who the hell are you?” asks Gale as she stares her down.
“I’m pretty sure they still teach you kids about me at the Academy darling.”
The hooded woman laughs devilishly and removes her hood, revealing her face. “Cordelia darling, the one and only,” she says with a bold smile.
The team, with the exception of Riley, lets out a shock filled gasp.
Riley looks at everyone with a most confused look, “Am I missing something here? Who the hell is this chick?”
“Damn it Riley that’s one of the Oracles,” says an agitated Brain
“Really?” responds Riley, as he examines her, cringing at her running mascara. “she’s not as pretty as the other one though.”
The look on Cordelia’s face turns to one of utter annoyance as she begins to exclaim at Riley. “We’re twins you little bastard!”
“Aww, is that what mommy told you?” says Riley, whose knack for getting under anyone’s skin is on full display.
Cordelia approaches him while raising her hands in his direction.
However, the three boys quickly dart in front of her.
“Let us take care of this,” says the first boy, “You might just end up killing all of them.”
“Smart boy,” Cordelia responds, “Alright then, carry on my darlings.”
The first boy races towards Jason and begins to circle him with frightening speed, which he is unable to keep up with.
Jason quickly becomes disoriented, and the boy punches him to the ground, knocking him out with ease.
Thick, beautiful white wings extend from the back of the second boy, as he leaps into the air and flies toward Gale, who, just like Jason, is easily overpowered and knocked unconscious.
He then flaps his wings to cause a strong wind to send Muscle and Brain flying through the air and away from the battle.
The third boy shoots blasts of bright red energy from his hands at Riley, which he dodges and counters with a blast of water from his mouth and knocks the boy to the ground, at which point the other two boys quickly charge him.
“Ok if Jason could do it so can I,” Riley says to himself, as he attempts to manipulate the wind.
He fails miserably, leaving himself open as the other boys attack him, knocking him off his feet.
He bravely attempts to get up but sees Cordelia standing over him.
As he stares into her cold dark eyes, he is suddenly gripped by the fear of death, and all traces of his usual moronic whit disappear.
Cordelia extends one arm towards him, and a Dark Rune Circle with a Scythe symbol at the center appears on the ground below Riley.
He lets out an agonizing scream as he is suddenly stricken with unimaginable pain.
The third boy approaches the unconscious young woman and places her body on his shoulder.
“Remember this day boy,” taunts Cordelia. “Remember how miserably you failed. You’re not yet worthy to be in your father’s presence. But you will be.”
Cordelia glances over at the unconscious Jason. “You both will.”
She laughs devilishly as Riley passes out, then vanishes with the three boys and the young woman, leaving behind a Dark Rune Circle with a Crossroads symbol, scorched into the earth where they stood, which subsequently vanishes.
* * *
“The Chancellor gazes at Marie and Vanessa with an unconvinced look, “One of your best teams you say? Does that include your bastard boys? The offspring of that psychopath the two of you allowed to almost kill us all.”
“Two things to note Chancellor,” Vanessa interjects. “One, we’re the ones who stopped him, and two, I won’t have you referring to our boys in that way in the future,” she continues, her patience growing thin.
Lorianne Couture, President of Gallia, wearing the most extravagant of robes, intervenes. “You’ll do well to remember your place when you stand before us,” she says, with her deep Gallic accent.
“And you’ll do well to kill whoever designed your outfit,” Vanessa claps back, angering President Couture, who belts out a derogatory term in her native language. “Femme Brûlée!” she exclaims, much to the ire of both Vanessa, and a woman wearing a luxurious head wrap, Esther Desir, President of Neustria.
Restless mumbling begins to emanate throughout the room.
“You insist on degrading us? Even now? You vile, pathetic woman,” says Esther to Lorianne, in a Gallic adjacent accent.
Marie grips Vanessa’s wrist, restraining her from escalating the situation further.
Vanessa regains her composure, and signals President Desir to do the same, with a mere glance.
Marie focuses a stare at President Couture, “Madame Couture, this is not what our people stand for, not anymore” she says.
President Couture submits, “My apologies Lady Stanislaus,” she responds.
Chancellor Rowan slams down his gavel repeatedly to regain control of the room.
The room goes silent once again, and he continues. “The people have lost so much faith in you, they didn’t even bat an eye when we decided to cut your funding; which, correct me if I’m wrong, is your main source of income, but somehow it doesn’t seem like that had any effect on you,” the Chancellor probes.
“We do private work now Chancellor, you know that,” Marie responds.
“Private work is it? Must be working out quite well for you seeing how you managed to refit the Academy with such state-of-the-art technology.”
Marie and Vanessa refrain from answering, and the Chancellor continues. “From its inception, The Silent Storm has pleaded for autonomy, but the people are beginning to question the freedom that has been afforded to you for so long. Some are even suggesting we don’t even need you anymore.”
The Chancellor pauses and rubs his temple.
“You people are no closer to finding Aurelia or the new Quin of Fire than you were when you initially assumed command at the Academy. On top of all this, you’ve also been unable to apprehend not one single member of Delilah’s Coven—
General Reece, a figure of perpetual depression, who had been completely uninterested in the previous exchanges, perks up as mention is made of Delilah.
Marie and Vanessa both notice his sudden interest and glance at him for a moment.
—As such, calls are rightly being made for the implementation of a joint operation with the Central Defense Force,” the Chancellor continues.
Vanessa, clearly activated by the Chancellor’s statement, responds, “The Central Defense Force? Those corrupt pigs?”
A nervous Marie whispers to Vanessa, “V your mouth is gonna get us in trouble again.”
General Kross, a stocky man seated next to General Reece, wearing a decorated Defense Force uniform, looks at Vanessa and intervenes, “You better hold your tongue you pretty little bitch.”
“Maybe you should come and hold it for me you fat piece of---”
Marie quickly ushers Vanessa to calm down, which she unwillingly does.
General Kross replies rather sarcastically, “I wouldn’t dare my Lady, not with those two scary looking bodyguards of yours. I must have a death wish.”
Striker whispers to Ghost, “Man I hate that guy.”
However, Ghost is keenly focused on the exchange taking place before her, ready to strike without question if the situation required her to.
The Chancellor resumes his public scolding, “It is understandable that without the help of the Oracles, locating new Awakenings has become a lot more difficult, but you also have to understand I have to do what’s best for the people, and if there aren’t any immediate improvements, some difficult decisions will have to be made.”
“We understand Chancellor, we’ll do everything in our power to get to the bottom of this; we’re expecting nothing but good news when we get back to the Academy,” says a hopeful Marie.
* * *
Muscle and Brain return to find Riley, Jason and Gale lying unconscious on the ground, and the new awakening nowhere to be seen.
“Guess we’ll have nothing but bad news when we get back to the Academy,” says Muscle.
“That’s the understatement of the century buddy,” Brain replies.
They both let out a disappointed sigh.
“Let’s get these guys back to the Academy,” says Brain.
Muscle puts Jason and Gale on his shoulders and carries Riley under his arm.
He then places each of them in their respective cycles.
Brain activates autonomous mode on the three cycles using his wrist pad, as well as a protective covering made of tinted glass.
“All set, let’s go,” says Brain, as he hovers off.
Muscle follows, with the other three cycles in tow.