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Chapter 1


The clouds tapered the sky like a black sheet. Lightening struck the pavement in the form of bluish-white beams brightening the dark emptiness of the city with the occasional burst of light. A cold gnawing rain fell in sheets in the lightningīs aftermath. Only when the lightening flashed once again was he revealed.

Wet hair clung together in small strands waving adjacent to one another over his face throwing droplets of water from side to side. The remainder of his slate black hair was glued damply to his head forming its slightly gaunt shape. Water poured over and through the curves in his face features, which served as culverts mediating its travel. His face being pale white and dull except for the hawk nose and cold, penetrating blue eyes that stood out as an enigma. He was clothed in a black trench coat that hung all the way down to just above the pavement, partially covering his flawlessly polished black boots. One gloved hand rested firmly in his coat pocket while the other clenched his cane.

The caneīs appearance was a story in itself. Itīs top was parallel with the manīs chin. Obviously it was a long cane considering the man stood six foot five. It was black in color like practically all the manīs clothing seemed to be. While it was hickory, its surface was smooth all throughout, absent of splinters. But, what gave the cane its true sinister glint was the relatively large gargoyle statue, which made up its top. The gargoyle was a work of art, every curve giving it a look of perfection. Itīs eyes were blood red, to the point where they gave off a constant glowing light.

His expression remained unchanged as the limousine materialized onto the alley, disturbing the puddles of water sending it streaming to all sides from beneath and squealed to an abrupt stop only a few feet in front of him. The engine was deadened and the five occupants evacuated the limo and approached the stranger. They all wore trench coats, also with toboggans to offer additional comfort, they approached the stranger slowly, taking wide strides. Then, without warning they stopped a few feet in his front. His gaze stayed fixed upon the elderly man in the center of the formation.

After, removing a large cigar from his case and cutting and lighting it in mere seconds with a form of flawlessness, the old man begins taking short puffs and approached the stranger casually blowing smoke in his direction on occasion. Well trained as they were, the other five kept their positions.

The stranger kept his stand, gaze still never leaving the old man. Once the old man was within touching distance the stranger finally offered up his hand, which the old man clasped firmly and shook.

"Ah Gregory well met, I suppose you have what I want?" The stranger inquired, his voice coming out in low hissing notes.

"Yes indeed, why else would I waste my time as well as yours if I didnīt?"

"Ah time, such a valuable commodity is it not Gregory? Well spare us; weīve wasted far too much of this time on pointless chatter, letīs be on with it. Shall we?" He finishes with a brief snap of the gloved fingers to indicate the urgency of the progression of their deal.

"As you wish, but I really do discredit your impatience." A brief wave of Gregoryīs hand puts one of the four standing in back in motion. He makes his way swiftly to the limo and upon arriving removes a set of keys from his pants pocket underneath the coat. The door is opened and a silver suitcase is retrieved, and brought to Gregory. Gregory then presents it to the stranger.

"And, the other, your part of the agreement?"

"Yes, of course."

A gloved hand reaches deep into the depths of the coat pocket and comes out holding a blood, red, silk bandana, folded multiple times. He slowly unwraps the folds, revealing a blue floppy disk. The floppy disk is handed to Gregory, who eagerly shoves it in his coat pocket. Then, the stranger shifts his gaze once again forcing Gregoryīs eyes to meet his own.

"The suitcase open it, now." The words come out in such a hostile, commanding hiss that even the stiff willed Gregory temporarily lost his composure. After regaining it in seconds he proceeds to slide the two latches holding the suitcase together to the side.

"As you wish." He retorts with a short smirk of satisfaction. The top half of the suitcase is swiftly lifted. A shifting sound is heard and an automatic firearm mechanically pops into its mount from the inner space of the suitcase, points directly at the strangerīs vulnerable head, and commences firing.

At this very millisecond, the rainfall escalates into torrents, and the clouds converge blocking off all sparse lighting that was present before. This effect seems to cast an opaque wall directly in front of the naked eye preventing even the slightest vision. A brief flash of light is then seen. Sparks fly in all directions making the battlefield visible once again for brief seconds. It appears the gargoyle statue on top of the strangerīs cane has deflected the lead bullets.

Gregory and the other four remove automatic weapons from beneath coats, and open fire on the stranger in a chaotic rage. Sparks fly in excess, filling the alley with plentiful visual effects as the clips are emptied with no results.

"Enough." The enraged stranger exclaims in a fiery rage of pure power. He forcefully slams the base of the cane into the pavement; bolts of red electricity strike its surface all about him, as a result of the force. The eyes of the gargoyle glow blood red forming a red aura over his body, shielding him from harm of the lead projectiles known commonly as bullets that now merely vaporize on the auraīs psyonic surface. The light given off by the aura now makes the area perfectly visible.

The stranger shifts his gaze yet again in the direction of Gregory. His empty blue eyes freeze into his very soul making their presence unbearable.

"Gregory, Gregory you foolish mortal, your attempt to eliminate me was both folly as well as pathetic. However, it only speeds up your fate, after all, it was inevitable that I would kill you before our transaction was concluded. Iīm sorry, time calls me to the beckoning, so I must conclude our little conversation. It was a pleasure, Gregory."

Five pairs of lasers go off followed by five lifeless bodies making their plummeting fall onto the surface of a lonely desolate alley in the inner sanction of Moscow.


***



Miles around the globe on the continent of North America, more specifically Georgia, USA, the crowd was on their feet delivering the most intense standing ovation they could muster up. Noise filled the air all over the Magicians side of the stands, spreading throughout the court, shattering the weak sounding efforts on the Jaguars side.

Mitch couldnīt listen. He must concentrate. This was it. The first shot the Magicians have had at the Georgia State basketball Championship… well since ever. This was high school basketball at its best. I mean what an honor, the championship game being played in their hometown. There would be so many college coaches watching him, looking for recruits. He just couldnīt blow this opportunity. Thereīs no way in hell his parents could ever afford his college tuition, his only option was a scholarship. His only chance was to stay focused. All the noise being made by both sides must remain incoherent to his mind. He had this. He just knew it.

Mitch was the Magicianīs starting point guard. Mitch had scored a phenomenal thirty-two points thus far in the game, and his assistsī rating was even better. He had even picked off some crucial rebounds, which was pretty impressive when comparing his six-foot height to that of a tall center he would be expected rebound over. There was only one flaw in his game tonight, and that was the fact that he couldnīt seem to drop the outside three pointers that were usually simple for him. All thirty-two of his points had been obtained by going inside.

That is where Jim came into the picture. Jim was his best friend and the teamīs starting forward. Jim was hitting the outside shots today; even though forwards generally stick with the close up shots. The plan was simply for him and Jim to play keep away, passing it back and forth till they worked their way inside three-point range, where Jim would let it loose and pray for the best.

Mitchīs eyes were glued on the scoreboard that read seventy nine to seventy seven, and most importantly was the frozen twenty, which indicated the seconds remaining in the game. All he had to do was get Jim in range for one clean shot before the buzzard went off. All he had to worry about was, not turning over the ball; the rest was resting on Jimīs shoulders. Everyone else was expected to screen. If one person slipped out of form and fouled up their job the whole ship would sink. Mitch just had to make sure that one person wasnīt him. Jim nodded his way, "Ok Mitch, letīs end this shit, dog!" Everyone took his position and the buzzard sounded.

As, that horrible sound cleared from his ears, the adrenaline rush kicked in. He took the inbounds and bolted down court keeping a fast dribble. He released the ball smoothly off his fingertips watching it spiral into Jimīs outstretched hands. Jim then pushed it a ways before sending it back to him. He kept his dribble pushing it down court, till a darting figure intercepted him as he crossed over the half court line. One of his teammates obviously wasnīt doing a very good screening job. He couldnīt panic; he watched the oppressive hand in slow motion as it swiped for the ball narrowly missing as he put it smoothly under his legs once, then again on the other side with his left hand. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Jim breaking clear of a defender circling right on the immediate outside of the three-point line. He instantly interrupted his dribble putting the pass smoothly behind his back through a gap in the moving bodies.

Sweat rolls down Jimīs cheeks as the butterflyīs kick into his stomach. Last shot all on him. He catches the pass and glances briefly at the rim before releasing what he knows is clank right after it goes off his hands. Sure, enough it clanks off the backboard getting an additional boost from the tip of the rim flying back toward the three-point line. Jim lowers his head in shame, why did he have to be the one to fuck things up?

Whatīs this, though? Mitch as if possessed is tearing across the court thrusting his body rapidly in the forward direction. He keeps his eyes fixed on the blurry orange sphere as it hurls its way downward. Then, he lifts off. His legs go off like gunpowder, shooting him up for the highest vertical heīs ever achieved in his life. His left hand picks up the ball while he remains air born. Two pairs of arms materialize out of thin air in front of him. Not phased, he switches hands and sends the ali-loop from three-point distance airborne from underneath, with his right hand, as the one on the scoreboard is in transformation into a hideous zero. It whistles cleanly through the net a second after he lands from the jump.

Feet scramble, as the whole Magician team erupt onto court cornering Mitch and hoisting him airborne on their shoulders. After awhile, everyone gets tired of making noise, the fans start leaving and the Magicians make their way to the locker room. Upon entering the locker room, Jim confronts Mitch without warning. His face doesnīt seem to mirror the look of relief and joyful satisfaction it should. Instead, a look of worry and concern is present.

"Dude, did something happen?"

"Ya man, I know now isnīt a good time since we just won the game and weīre suppose to be having fun and celebrating and shit…"

"Just shut the fuck up and tell me what it is fool."

"Itīs Judy man, she told me to give you this and tell you itīs over between youīll." Jim hands Mitch his lettermanīs jacket.

"What the fuck! Why canīt she just tell me, herself, in person? I donīt know what the hellīs wrong with things; anyways I thought we were on pretty good terms. I gotta••• go talk to her or something."

"Just let it drop man that will make matters worse."

"All right Jim Iīll (try) to forget about it, for now at least. Thanks for caring. You need a ride home?"

"Na man, Iīm good, dadīs picking me up, says weīre gona go do some shit together tonight."

Minutes later, Mitch parks and exits his light blue bronco, takes out his key ring, and lets himself into the apartment house. Heīs obviously pissed and shocked about Judy, but he knows he must put that matter aside for another time. The task at hand is the bulking chapter review assignment due tomorrow in Pre Calculus as well as a good two hours of studying to be ready for the test. He goes to his room (which you could consider a partial study environment), flops down on his bed, unzips his bag, removing his math book, a spiral note book, mechanical pencil, and his TI 83 Plus Silver Edition "all purposes" graphing calculator. His mind calms and begins to take on the relaxed form necessary for this sort of work. He tears out a sheet in the spiral, and turns his math book to the appropriate page. Then, the case is slowly slid off his calculator and slid onto the back and the ON button is pressed...

What the fuck? Blank screen... couldnīt be the batteries?... he had just changed them yesterday.

No, whatīs this?

A scrolling marquee moves across the screen in calculator lettering, without warning.

They are coming for you.

Their arrival at your front door will occur in precisely fifteen seconds.

You must do exactly as I say if you wish to survive.


Clank, Clank! The two repeating thuds on the metal door break the silence.

Mitch scrambles to his feet and scurries (still holding the calculator) through the living room and to the back door.

No, Mitch the back door is being watched.

Remove the calculator batteries.

Trust me, Iīll still be able to maintain communication with you.

Do it now!


Mitch turns the calculator over and pops off the little the door to the battery compartment and removes the two double A batteries, then tunes into the screen for additional instructions.

Insert the tip of both your fore fingers into the coils where the batteries are held.

Now!


Just then the door is dislodged from its hinges and crumbles to the floor.

Two figures make their way into the house.

Afraid to even glance in their direction Mitch fumbles with the calculator, to turn it over, but due to his desperation it slips free of his hands and bounces across the floor landing face down on the opposite side of the room.

Now numbering four they close in on Mitch with the anticipation of his capture. They are dark and distant in appearance and appear to be wearing some kind of dark brown, out-of-style trench coats. Escape routes cut off on all sides; all that remains is for one of them to grab him. Not willing to wait for this occurrence, Mitch dives low landing a solid football tackle, buckling the one nearest him from knees down. Rolling free of the body (as it falls over his back), he lands on his feet, sprinting across the room toward the calculator.

As he lifts his left foot to take another running step forward it is gripped firmly from behind. A swift kick in the face from the right foot ends this capture attempt though. Sparing a glance around Mitch instantaneously surveys the situation. Two, rapidly approach from behind while the other two scissor in from each side in an attempt to cut him off, he will be in reaching distance of these two any second.

Mitch simply dives, synchronizing his timing perfectly he lands hard on a loose clothing garment, using it to propel his sliding body across the floor. He extends his two fore fingers allowing them to make contact with the battery wire coils on the calculator.

The two men hit the ground hard, as Mitch is whisked away instantaneously in a blinding, blue light right beneath their grasps.

The semi soft leather cushioning is a welcoming haven for Mitchīs aching bones as he lands firmly in the seat. All is quite, except for the low murmurings of other passengers caught up in conversation. Beside him, sets a typical businessman clothed in a black suit with a blue necktie. He appears to be in a greyhound bus, but where, who knows. Then, he realizes heīs still holding the calculator. He turns it over.

Welcome back Mitch.

Compliments on your escape, however whether or not you will completely elude their trail remains to be seen...

Whatīs this?

Game over we lose, they appear to be craftier than we anticipated.

I wish you luck Mitch, Iīm afraid I can assist you no longer.


The screen resumes its blankness leaving Mitch in the dark only to speculate on what would happen next.

Nothing seems to have altered; the bus continues its pace. The highway is clear on all sides as far as the eye can see. The passengers proceed in their private murmurings off to themselves.

Thatīs when the green streak comes into view as it shimmers through the space above leaving its green flaming trail to settle in the horizon. Holy shit! Itīs pointing straight down. What is it...a comet, a meteor? Oh fuck! Itīs going to hit them Mitch just knows it. The bus remains its course as if the driver is unaware of this plain, visible threat.

The resulting collision envelops the environment in a vast stream of green light. Mitch loses all his senses. His body is on fire from the inside! What torment, what indescribable agony! He tries to breathe but this only scorches his throat. The world as he knew it is now becoming pitch black. Then directly in his front a massive green portal slowly forms in the emptiness. It exerts a tremendous force upon his body in a violent attempt to suck him into its depths.

He must fight it! Oh the unceasing pain, the misery! Why him? Thereīs no escaping...but there must be. He canīt die like this, itīs not logical to any realistic reasoning approach. Was anything that had happened since he got home from the game that night really logical though? Why did his parents have to go on that damn anniversary trip? If they would have stayed home none of this could of happened. Wait, what was he thinking. This wasnīt sanely possible. It couldnīt be. A dream thatīs what it was. He wanted to laugh hysterically. You canīt fool me, God. A dream, just, a stupid dream. Thatīs all it is. I challenge you to prove me wrong.

Thatīs when the portal took control of his being, shattering the encasement of his weak resistance, and phasing him away into the void.


***



The void, what is the void? What is contained in its substance? Is it some sort of matter? Is it a place? If so where is it? What is its purpose? Is it merely a figment of ones imagination? Is it but a delusion forced into ones mind from the inner depths of their sub conscience self? Who knows? Who will ever know? Well...? Only time will tell I suppose.


------
A word will take you farther than you realize.



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The following comments are for "Dartanium Chronicles Chapter 1"
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