Deathlift

Author: rust phoenix

Category: Action/Adventure, Romance, Drama, Fantasy, Angst

Rating: T (Pg-13)

Warnings: shonen-ai (slash), shojo-ai (femmeslash), language, violence.

Chapter One

Glass Phantom

A/N: Hey, this is my second non-poem story to be posted here. I don't know how good it is, so if you tell me I will be very thankful. The Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is sitting beside me as I type this (No, I'm not reading it, it's my dad's). I would like to thank Marcus for coming up with the name to this story. I would also like to tell someone in my film class that the apes on the book pwn him.

Yeah, you weren't supposed to get that last part.

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He ran. Grayish slush splashed in through the holes in his shoes each time they hit the pavement, sending a simultaneously jarring and sloshing sensation through him with each step. He increased his speed, spending more and more time suspended in the air between steps. He felt the terrain change beneath his feet, from melting dirty snow to dry red dust. That had to mean he was getting farther away from the labs. At least, he hoped it meant that.

A clamoring of voices behind him. Damn it! His pursuers' footsteps thundered clumsily behind him, and though he speeded up they still outmatched his pace. What had before sounded like just a dull roar had become clear enough to pick out individual voices in. And what those voices said was not encouraging… at least not to the one being hunted.

"He's slowing down!"

"His gait is all weird, he must be injured!"

"We've almost-"

But the last voice never got a chance to say what the mob had almost done, because at right that moment, the chasee leapt into the air… and stayed there. The crowd fell silent and people shifted uneasily from foot to foot. As he hovered in the air, limp and unmoving and strangely innocent, no one said or even thought one word. It was as though time was as paralyzed with apprehension as they were.

Suddenly, the hovering one's head jerked back, and his eyes were wide and piercing red. His hands seized and warped into four-fingered avian claws, and grey wings that seemed to be covered in something more akin to scales than feathers jutted out of his upper arms. His shoes were torn to shreds as his feet underwent the same change as his hands, and they fell to the ground with a soft thump. Some people shifted their gaze away from the birdman and simply stared dumbfounded at the reddish dust that hovered in the air, displaced by the shoes. The dust fell slowly, leaving a crimson frosting on everything it touched.

The terrifying, mesmerizing creature in the sky suddenly threw back its head and gave an inhuman shriek, like a demon laughing. It echoed down the streets, the high-pitched scream reverberating off the facades of buildings. People shuddered and pushed their hands over their ears in a vain attempt to blot out the sound. A few people doubled over and a few cried out.

They started running. The mob disintegrated as the people who had been a part of it scattered in all directions. For the first time, it became obvious how different they were. No longer united by mob mentality, some people called out to friends or family they had lost in the confusion, while others kept as quiet as possible and hid from sight via ducking into alleys. Still others ran about as fast as their bodies would allow them, with no logic to their path.

Only one person did not run. A tall, heavy man in his mid twenties threw his backpack to the ground and in one sharp movement he unzipped it. He hastily grabbed a handful of long arrows, and the clumsy movement caused some arrowheads to slice at his skin. He winced, but otherwise ignored this. Holding the arrows between his teeth, he unhooked his bow from one of the many attachments on his belt. This he loaded with all the arrows at once, pulled the drawstring back, and fired.

The projectiles flew off in the general direction of the birdman. Most arrows immediately fell uselessly to the ground, and still others bounced harmlessly off the hard feather-scales. But one hit the birdman squarely in the side, piercing the too-small shirt that still clung to the creature in a way that would have been almost comical if not for the gravity of the situation. The creature's eyes flashed like hot steel as it suddenly dived at the man. He ducked and rolled across the ground, narrowly avoiding the first strike. But the creature didn't let up, and it dove again, claws held out, this time connecting with him. He was picked up and thrown into the wall of a house, with a sickening crash before falling to the ground and laying still. By then the crowd had mostly fled, but a few people were still in visibility range, calling out names desperately. The birdman was completely frenzied, and it dove at all of them. The next minutes were a blur as the creature went after people at random, destroying everything in its path. Several people were injured, but it never focused on one person enough to be sure if it had killed them. When there were no more people in sight, the bird dove at buildings, fences, garbage cans, signposts, and everything in sight. This lasted for about half an hour, and when it was over, the neighborhood was unrecognizable.

The walls of houses had huge gashes in them, sometimes to the point of giving an inside view of the house's contents. No one could be seen inside, so they had most likely taken refuge in basements. Trash was strewn across the earth, and the man who had fired the arrows still wasn't moving. The dirt that had been red to begin with was now even more so.

The bird landed ineptly on all fours. It's wings folded and melted back into arms, and its claws shrunk to human hands and feet. Where there had previously been a bizarre bird creature, there was now a boy no older than fifteen. He was pale, breathing hard, and shuddering. He stood up shakily and walked back to the place where he had transformed. He located his shoes, and upon picking one up, saw there was no use in salvaging them. In disgust he flung it into the air, aiming for a trashcan. It went in, and with a clang the can toppled over, spilling its contents. The boy sighed. I guess I'll have to walk home barefoot. And I'd better buy shoes before we leave for Sparrow Creek. Darn.

As he began the walk back, he was too exhausted to notice the footsteps behind him.

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That's 100, thought Laurel. I have paced around this room exactly 100 times today. I officially have no life. She was a tall sixteen-year-old girl with short spiky blond hair and black thick-rimmed glasses. She wore a black tee shirt and blazer along with dark jeans and a metal-spiked belt. "How's he doing?" she asked, walking over to the side of the room where her friend Joan was. Joan was half a head shorter than her, an attractive girl with dark hair and skin. She wore a green shirt and faded ripped blue jeans. She was presently glued to a computer screen, her fingers moving with ease across the keyboard of her laptop.

"He's finally coming back," responded Joan, never once taking her eyes off the screen.

"So your tracking device worked," stated Laurel.

"Yes, it worked flawlessly," said Joan.

Laurel scoffed. "Wow, you're modest today," she said sarcastically.

"I know," said Joan, and Laurel decided not to ask if she was serious.

"Can I use the computer now?"

"No."

"Why?"

"I'm using it."

"For what?"

"Checking emails."

"What?" exclaimed Laurel. "I thought you were tracking Zach!"

"I am. I can track him and check my email at the same time."

Frustrated, Laurel flopped down onto the couch and turned on the TV. Joan had been her best friend since childhood, but she was maddening to attempt to have a conversation with. Unfortunately, she was even more exasperating to have an argument with, so Laurel had learned long ago not to even try. As she flipped through the channels it seemed nothing much had changed in the last ten minutes; there was still nothing on but black and white movies and reruns of sitcoms she'd seen half a dozen times before. She would have read something, but the only book Joan had brought with was the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

She decided on watching the news. The announcer was a blond woman with a dark tan, who spoke in a cool, clear voice. Laurel half-listened half-daydreamed until something caught her attention. The screen changed to an image of a neighborhood that lay in shambles. There was trash and bits of debris everywhere, and some houses had had their walls nearly ripped off. The bottom of the screen displayed the location as "HARMONY DISTRICT." She knew that was right by Harmony Labs, where she had sent Zach. The announcer continued speaking "…fight broke out in Harmony District today. Police have not yet released any additional information." That's it? You're not even going to tell us if anyone got killed? She turned off the TV in disgust.

"I think Zach transformed," she said numbly. "That damage in Harmony District… it couldn't have been caused by a normal person." She knew he wouldn't have transformed without reason, which meant he had been caught. Which meant they would have to leave this town as soon as possible.

Joan had already been aware of everything Laurel had said, but she was unsure how to respond. The tracker had shown him up to three-dozen feet above ground, moving about in what seemed to be a series of random attacks. But she and Zach had an unspoken agreement between them that stated neither of them told Laurel if he got into a fight unless it was absolutely necessary. Laurel was a distant cousin of Zach, and she had the most to lose if he was to be captured or killed.

"Hey! What weapons are legal here?" the blond girl called when Joan didn't respond to her earlier statement.

"Anything people can make themselves. The government is really strict, so there's not much of a black market. They don't allow outsider trading because with more sophisticated weapons the residents'd kill each other off faster than the population can replete itself. So mainly knives, swords, arrows… old fashioned things."

"Great. So they're violent and nostalgic," said Laurel bitterly. She was silent for a moment. "Is he close?" she asked suddenly.

"Yes! He seems to be right outside."

As soon as she had spoken, there came three quick raps on the door. Laurel ran over to answer; first looking through the peephole to make sure it was indeed he. It didn't give a clear image of him, but she recognized him from his red hair. She opened the door-

And was shocked by what she saw. His skin, which was usually pale, was ghostly white. His clothes were in shreds and he was bleeding from a wound in his side, staining the entire lower left half of his white shirt. He had no shoes. "Come in, quickly!' she hissed. He complied.

"Hey Joan," he called, rather weakly.

"Did anyone follow you?" she asked. He shook his head.

"No… they couldn't have. There was nobody left. I didn't… I didn't kill anyone, did I?" his blue eyes were wide with worry. He spoke in nearly a whisper. "There was this one guy… I got him pretty good. Like, he wasn't moving or anything."

"You did what you had to do. It's not your fault you lose control," said Laurel, but her voice was bitter and otherwise emotionless.

"Hey, why are you mad at me?" He seemed genuinely perplexed.

"Why wouldn't I be? You nearly got killed. If they get you, they get all of us. The entire rebellion will not only have been for nothing, but it will be a deathtrap for everyone who ever had anything to do with it."

"Relax, I didn't get caught. And…" he smiled wickedly, "I got this." He reached into a secret pocket in his cargo pants, which had held, although it was obvious he would need to throw out all the clothing he had worn while transforming. He proudly held up a disk that shone rainbow as it caught the light.

"Good job, Zach," said Laurel, and the praise seemed genuine. As though not to let him get too conceited she added, " Now that we've got what we need, we'd better get out of this town as soon as possible."