These chapters are long as hell, but here we go, the first chapter. Tell me what you think.
-------------------------------Before The End Of Time
Ch.1: In The Nick Of Time
A loud explosion could be heard ringing throughout the building, and the smoke from the blast lingered for a moment, afterwards revealing a large gaping hole in the metallic wall and a man stepping through the opening. He scanned the hallways left and right and judging the coast to be clear, began running forward towards a door at the other end of the hall. Soldiers began to appear from the other hallways and began shooting at him, but he simply continued his charge to the door. When there only remained a quarter of the room left to go, soldiers came in through the doorway, which revealed the area behind the doorway as a stairwell and the soldiers began to surround the man and cornered him against the wall.
They told him to surrender or die, but before they could give him time to choose, he acquired a strange device from his pockets and placed it on the wall, ducking after pressing a button. The soldiers were prepared to shoot, but before they were about to slaughter the man, another explosion occurred where the man placed the mechanical device, though this explosion did no harm to the fleeing man, as the device only sent the pressure from the explosion in the direction parallel to the back of the device, as well as the front. Amidst the confusion and smoke, the man quickly jumped through the second hole he created and began searching for another stairwell he could use to reach his destination. Soldiers began coming from all sides again and the man drew a sword to dispatch and possibly incapacitate the soldiers closest to him in proximity. Once there were no more conscious soldiers, he continued searching the corridors for another path that would lead him to a stairwell.
Instead he found a directory, which was slightly more useful than a stairway, because he could now tell where those stairwells would end up, though he would have preferred to have found a set of stairs. The one he decided to use was around the corner to his left, at the end of the hall, though it was laden with more soldiers, so instead he took an indirect route to the stairwell, all the while eliminating any soldiers he happened to pass on the way to prevent himself from being surrounded again. He did not have very many explosives, and he preferred to use them only in emergency situations, as a diversion to lure the enemy to another location and lower the number of guards in his general area, or to create a shortcut between himself and his destination, though the last one was only occasional, as he enjoyed being challenged and believed that if something was easy, it wasn’t worth the trouble of trying to take it, though others strongly disagreed with him, as they would rather live sitting in a red leather chair smoking a pipe while reading Crime and Punishment or The Grapes of Wrath than be challenged to do anything that seemed too difficult or too complex to complete successfully and be made a fool of.
A few stories higher, a woman heard and felt the rumbling from the echoing blast below her and began to wonder what was happening down there, but she had no time to waste on such matters and ran as quietly as she could down the hallway to attract as little attention as possible. It was all pointless, however, because there were soldiers everywhere she could go. It seemed to her as if they had found her but she decided to travel in the direction that she believed contained the fewest number of armed soldiers and charged the first one she saw, knocking him down and taking his gun to use on the others, and they all fell one by one as she ran past them, firing at every individual soldier, and then looking behind to see if she had left any survivors. She heard another explosion from below, in about the same general area, but this time she couldn’t feel the vibration as much as the previous one. She had no idea where she was going and so far, she had gotten where she was mostly through luck and the commotion the man was causing downstairs.
After the first explosion, she had decided to draw as little attention to herself as possible, because she’d much rather have them chasing after a stranger than herself, though she did feel somewhat guilty for being inconspicuous when there was someone else making as much of a commotion as possible. Her current goal was to find a directory, so she could decide which stairwell was the best to take for reaching the treasury vault on the twentieth floor, but she could not find one anywhere, so instead, she tried to find any staircase that would take her to the twentieth floor, though everywhere she looked there were more guards than usual. She made a fist with her left hand and cursed whoever had made the ruckus downstairs, then she started a fire where there were more soldiers and hid behind a nonfunctional drinking fountain while the heavily armed guards from the other hallways conjoined to put out the fire.
She took the opportunity to run down the shortest hallway and turned immediately, in case anyone happened to pass by. She noticed that she no longer heard the roar of the fire, meaning they had already extinguished the flame and were going to return to their post soon. She noticed a door that led to a stairway in the opposite direction she had turned, and she only had one chance to reach the door without being seen and she started running as fast as she could, but halfway there, she tripped and the guards saw her as she was standing back up. They started chasing her to the door and she slammed the door behind her while beginning her descent down the stairway.
The man entered the stairway and began running up the seemingly endless set of stairs that towered over him with a sense of both awe and simplicity that seemed to be constantly clashing against one another. The stairwell was dimly lit, making the chances of him getting shot less likely, as there was only one light every flight. The man skipped several steps to waste less time and eventually came upon the floor he intended to reach, but a woman bumped into him and knocked him down a single flight of stairs, with the woman falling backwards. The man stood back up and raised his sword against the unknown person he had just literally run into. The woman raised a staff against the man and was prepared to cast her magic the moment the man made a move towards her. Then the two noticed that there were soldiers on either side of them and the man jumped across the gap between the stairs to reach the other side and climbed up. The woman, preferring not to be left alone with all of the guards in the immediate area, followed the man up the stairs and through the doorway. The two ran through the door and barricaded it with a nearby desk. Then they ran until they found somewhere they could hide for the moment, as they realized that they were not enemies if they were both being chased by soldiers.
The two of them chose to take refuge in a large storage closet. The man gave the woman a boost up so she could climb up the boxes to reach the top, and she in turn helped him by pulling him up. Since the lights were on before they had entered the room, they decided to leave them on to convince people that they weren’t there. Several guards had entered the room and searched the area for the man and woman, and after the seventh investigation, the last group of soldiers turned off the lights.
The man felt that it was finally safe to talk, “Hey. Why are they after you?”
“I should be asking the same thing.”
“Well, I’m here to take an ancient artifact for myself. What about you?”
“Same,” the woman replied plainly.
“Well, what are you looking for? If we’re heading in the same direction, then it’ll be much safer if we stick together.”
“I’m looking for something in the east wing of the twentieth floor, but so far, I haven’t been able find a direct route there.”
“That’s because in some areas, it’s impossible to reach the desired destination without traveling through multiple elevators and multiple flights of stairs. Some areas lead to dead ends and if you try to walk from one end of the building to the other without using some stairs or an elevator, it will be quite impossible.”
“It makes it harder for people to steal anything. That’s why I’m here.”
“What do you mean?” she inquired.
“I came for the rush that comes from all of this excitement.”
“You’re risking your life for a simple rush,” she said, bewildered.
“A man’s got to have his priorities,” he said, shrugging. “Anyways, I think it’s safe to leave now.”
“What makes you think that?”
“I’ve been doing this kind of thing for a long time now. I think I know when it’s safe,” he said, emitting an air of expertise around him.
“Fine, but if we get caught, I’ll never forgive you.”
“If we get caught, we’ll die. Trust me… I know what I’m doing.”
“Well… All right. I suppose I can trust you.”
“By the way, the name’s Ezekiel.”
“It’s too bad we couldn’t meet under more desirable circumstances.”
“Let’s just try to get out of this alive.”
The two walked up to the door and Ezekiel pushed it open lightly to check if the coast was clear. There was nobody in sight so Ezekiel motioned for Vivian to follow him, and they walked up to the door that led to the set of stairs they had just come from. Vivian looked behind to see if they were being followed while Ezekiel checked up and down the stairwell for any signs of people. Once he knew for certain that the path was safe, he pulled Vivian into the stairwell and they climbed a few flights of stairs before Ezekiel stopped Vivian. As with the other doors, he made sure that no one was there and they walked into the hallway. Ezekiel ran quietly to the first corner and stopped. He turned to see what was on the other side and he walked back up to Vivian.
“There are an unusually small number of guards in the area,” Ezekiel observed.
“You think it might be a trap?” asked Vivian.
“Maybe. They might just be checking every floor and then cutting them off.”
“What do you mean?”
“When situations like this occur, they search every floor from bottom to top. If they don’t find the perpetrators on the first floor, they lock it up entirely and move to the next one.”
“So you think it’s safe to walk out in the open?”
“No. They always keep a few on every floor just to be safe,” said Ezekiel.
“Where do we go next?”
“There’s an elevator to the right of the next intersection. We have to take that to the twenty-seventh floor and then look around for another elevator that will take us to the twentieth floor in the east wing.”
Ezekiel and Vivian walked towards the intersection and turned to the right. They reached the elevator and pressed the button to open it. The elevator could be heard climbing up the shaft and eventually stopped at the present floor, but the door would not open. Ezekiel wasted no time, and put his fingers in between the space where both sides of the door meet and pulled it open, holding it long enough for Vivian and himself to enter. Ezekiel pressed the number twenty-seven and the elevator lurched upwards as they began to gain altitude. When they reached twenty-six, the elevator suddenly stopped when the cubicle reached the midway point between the levels. Ezekiel immediately realized what had just occurred.
“They’re gonna cut the rope!” he shouted.
“What?” Vivian responded in confusion.
The elevator immediately turned to freefall, and Vivian and Ezekiel began floating. Ezekiel reached the emergency break button with his sword and the elevator suddenly stopped, making the two slam against the floor. After taking a few seconds to recover, the stood up and noticed that they fell ten floors.
Ezekiel looked down and said, “This might be bad…”
“What do you mean?”
“By now, several floors have probably been locked up, which means that there will be a significantly larger number of troops on every floor from here on in. The longer we take, the less likely our chances of success.”
“First things first, we need to get out of here,” said Vivian, looking around the small space.
Ezekiel looked up, “Maybe we can escape from there,” he said pointing towards a square in the elevator’s ceiling.
Vivian stepped on Ezekiel’s hand and he lifted her just high enough to be able to reach the square. She tried pushing it out of the way, but it appeared to be stuck, so she decided to smash it open and began banging on the exit. After a few hits, the square piece flew off and landed on the side and Ezekiel pushed Vivian a little higher so she could climb up. She pulled herself up, then assisted Ezekiel after he jumped and grabbed onto the ledge.
“How are we supposed to get out of here? There isn’t a rope we can use to climb out of here,” said Vivian.
“Don’t worry; I brought a grappling hook with me just in case.”
Ezekiel pointed the grappling hook toward the center of the shaft and pressed the trigger. The first three tries were unsuccessful, but then the hook managed to latch onto a random pipe elbow sticking out of the wall that led to nowhere. They began their ascent rapidly, as they both knew that the longer they held on, the less strength they would have, and the more likely the possibility for falling was. Eventually, they reached the twenty-seventh floor and Ezekiel continued climbing.
“Hey. What are you doing? The twenty-seventh floor is right here.”
“They’ll be waiting for us there. We need to go somewhere where there aren’t any priceless artifacts. That way, we won’t get ambushed by so many soldiers when we leave the shaft.”
“I guess that makes sense…”
The two continued up to the next floor and Ezekiel began swinging back and forth to be able to reach the door. He grabbed the slit between the doors with his fingers and held the rope with his other hand, and then he told Vivian to do the same. Together, they pulled the next door open and Ezekiel pulled them forward and let go of the rope, drawing his sword at the same time, disabling the guns of the soldiers in the next room by cutting the tips of their guns off, as his sword was made out of a material that could cut a diamond with ease, making plain steel much easier to cut. The soldiers raised their hands over their heads and surrendered, but Ezekiel didn’t trust them to simply stand in a corner, so he tied them up with a rope he had been carrying in his left pocket.
“Okay, since we’re not on the twenty-seventh floor, we need to take another route.”
“What about them?” Vivian asked. “What if someone finds them and alerts the other troops?”
“I’ll just cut a hole in the wall and stuff them in there.”
The two of them pushed the soldiers towards the wall beside the elevator shaft and Ezekiel used his sword to cut one side of the wall. He then pulled and held the wall back while Vivian pushed the soldiers into the empty space behind the wall. They then covered the space back up and pressed against it to try and keep it shut.
“I’m guessing we’ll need to find a directory if we’re going to find out where to go next, right?”
“Correct,” confirmed Ezekiel. “Problem is, I don’t know where to find one, so we’re just gonna have to sneak around until we can find one.”
“And we have to hurry, because I can hear more people in the lower floors.”
The two ran back and forth, searching for a directory they could use, but they were having difficulty finding one. Every once in awhile, they encountered a few guards and bound and gagged them to keep them silent, repeating the process they had used earlier with the guards in front of the elevator. Eventually, their numbers reached a hundred, and they knew they wouldn’t be able to continue very much longer, as Ezekiel was running out of rope to tie them up.
They began to hear a large number of footsteps in the area and Vivian began to panic, “What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?” she kept asking herself. Ezekiel scanned the ceiling and then picked Vivian up again. “What are you doing?” she asked, mildly panicked.
“Push the entrance to the air duct open.”
Vivian pushed the cover to the side and pulled herself up, followed by Ezekiel, who had a running start and managed to reach the opening by solely by jumping. Ezekiel covered the opening up again and sat silently, waiting for guards to come by so they could be on their way. Vivian, not wanting to waste time, started crawling away from the opening in an attempt to find a directory and Ezekiel decided that that was probably better than waiting around only to have to return after a few seconds.
They crawled through the air ducts for nearly seven minutes before they managed to come across a room with a directory. There were only two guards in the area, so Vivian and Ezekiel climbed out of the air ducts and knocked them out. As Ezekiel was disposing of the bodies, he realized that he shouldn’t put this opportunity to waste and walked up to Vivian, who was trying to find out which path they should take next.
“Hey, Vivian,” began Ezekiel, “why don’t we take their clothes? If we’re dressed like them, with the helmets and all, they shouldn’t be able to tell who we are.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Vivian admitted.
“But first I have a question.”
“What is it?” Vivian wondered,
“Do you know sign language?”
“Why does that matter?”
“Yes, but why does that matter?”
“When we’re in disguise, I’ll need you to only speak in sign language. You seem to know less about the building than I do, so I think you should let me do all the talking.”
“Very well,” she agreed, somewhat insulted.
The two dressed themselves quickly to avoid detection and went back to the directory. Vivian managed to locate a path that would take them to their destination without much trouble and they immediately began walking towards the elevator Vivian said would be the easiest to take. They passed by several squadrons as they marched through the hallways, pretending to be searching for the perpetrators to prevent suspicion and they held their guns in firing position in case they were discovered by anyone. No one appeared to recognize them, and they began to be more relaxed. They walked into the elevator with little trouble and made it to floor twenty-one.
They were beginning to walk towards the staircase when they were stopped by a couple of soldiers who had been walking by, “Hey. What are doing back down here?” asked the first soldier.
“The captain sent us. There were reports that a man and a woman had been seen on this floor somewhere, so they sent us here,” said Ezekiel, deepening his voice.
“Really? Then let’s hear both of your I.D. numbers,” said the second soldier.
“Mine’s six-seven-two-nine, and hers is six-four three-one.”
“Why didn’t she tell us her own number?” asked the second soldier.
“Oh, well she’s deaf, so she couldn’t hear her number in the first place.”
“Oh. Well can she prove that she’s deaf? Does she know sign language?” The first soldier turned to Vivian and gave her an order, “Do some sign language.”
Vivian nearly moved her hands before she realized it was a trick, so she just stood there, as if she were told to do nothing. Ezekiel made the signs for the command and then she began to do random phrases. The second soldier seemed content, but the first soldier was not yet satisfied. He walked up to Vivian and screamed in her ear, and she struggled to show no pain.
Ezekiel became angry, “What the hell is your problem?”
“If she’s deaf, then she would feel no pain.”
“It just means you can’t hear. It doesn’t mean you can’t feel pain.”
“I apologize, but it seems as if it did no harm. I suppose you’re free to go. Nothing seems suspicious here.”
“By the way, how many floors have been locked down so far?” asked Ezekiel.
“Eighteen,” replied the soldier.
“That means we’ll have much more backup here soon. That’s good news.”
“I agree. I’ve heard that they’ve eliminated over one hundred fellow troops so far.”
“I guess we better be careful then.”
“Good luck,” the first man said.
They walked a good distance away, and then Ezekiel asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, thanks. It’s still ringing a little, but I think I’ll be all right.”
“Good, but I think we better start running. We only have one floor left before everyone’s on the twentieth floor.”
“We better hurry, then,” said Vivian.
The two ran into the elevator and pressed the button. As they were being lowered to the twentieth floor, they both began to feel a little nervous. Time began to pass more slowly, and the mechanical humming of the pulleys and power generators got progressively louder. The trip seemed to drag on forever, for they both knew that the next floor would be heavily guarded, and they wouldn’t be able to waste much time once they walked out of the elevator doors. The elevator stopped, and the doors opened up, revealing nearly fifty soldiers in the next room alone. The two of them walked out and ignored questions from the other soldiers. They heard from a conversation between three troops that the nineteenth floor had just been locked down, which meant that Vivian and Ezekiel only had about seven minutes to find whatever they were searching for.
“Vivian, I don’t know what you came here for, but we’re going to have to split up. I’m personally heading towards sector seven, and if you’re heading in that direction, you can follow, but I can’t afford to help you anymore if it goes against my personal objective.”
“I’m heading there too,” she said.
“Then we’ll have to hurry.”
The two started walking faster, apologizing to everyone they bumped into and squeezing around corners and walls. Everyone was moving in the opposite direction, and some people watched after them as they were walking towards what they had just investigated. After two minutes, Ezekiel and Vivian had reached their destination.
“This is where we part ways. Farewell, Vivian,” Ezekiel said as he began running towards the Chrono and Arium vault. He threw the doors open he threw off the disguise and walked up to the treasure he was after. “At last, the Chrono amulet is within my grasp, more or less.”
Ezekiel put his sword up to the diamond casing and stabbed it into the diamond glass. He pulled down on the sword and pulled it out once he reached the bottom, then he did the same to the other side. In the middle of the second cut, Vivian came running into the room, and Ezekiel turned to see who had entered the room.
“Vivian? What are you doing here?” Ezekiel asked in surprise.
“What? You mean you were after it too?”
“What do you mean ‘it?’ There are two amulets,” explained Ezekiel.
“I’m after the Arium.”
“And I’m here for the Chrono. If you’re after the other one, then go watch for soldiers while I get the amulets out.”
The door flew open and a horde of troops charged in through the double doors. Vivian created another fire and forced the soldiers out of the vault. The fire grew larger in height and width and Vivian began to lose control over the situation. Ezekiel kicked in the diamond glass window and grabbed both of the amulets and threw one to Vivian.
Vivian looked at the amulet in her hands and said, “This is the wrong one.”
“Use the damn talisman!”
“Oh!” Vivian raised the amulet and lowered it again. “I don’t know how.”
“Damn it! Come with me, now!”
She ran over to Ezekiel as he kicked open a hole in the wall, grabbed Vivian and jumped out of the hole. Vivian began screaming very loudly and covered her eyes with her hands, but unfortunately, they bumped into some metallic flying machine, making a loud thud in the process. Vivian opened her eyes and removed her hands from her head and took a look around.
“We’re alive?” she asked in amazement.
“Yup. That’s my main objective every time I do something like this, because I intend to live forever or die in the attempt. I have at least fifty years left, and I don’t want to spend them dead.”
“Well, Ezekiel, where are we, exactly?”
“We’re in a flying hovercraft made by my friends.”
Vivian looked behind her and noticed two people about the same age as her who were dressed in rather strange garments.
The man dressed in green helped Vivian up and said, “Hello. My name is Victor, and this is our friend, Misty.”
Misty grinned, with her right hand raising her thumb at Vivian and then turned back to the wheel and continued driving through the skies of the immense city, with a large number of the soldiers that had threatened Ezekiel and Vivian’s existence a moment earlier amassing at the hole Ezekiel had created in a desperate attempt to escape.
I didn't do any editing, and while the humor doesn't appear yet, it does come back in later.
Last edited by Fievel
on Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:52 am, edited 2 times in total.