Gosh, this isn't even the halfway point of my story yet! Chapter 18 is. This is going to be a super long story. The longest I've ever wrote. Well, that Ugata person becomes a very prominent part of the story starting this chapter, and he makes everything get so complicated. Haha, hope you enjoy.
They stared at her as she hovered in the doorway. Her breaths came fast and her brown eyes were filled with panic, her hands clutched the frame like she was supporting her life, holding up her weight. "R-Rosalie's gone," she whispered, leaning up against the wall, her forehead resting heavily upon it.
Jason turned to her, his hands disappearing inside of his cloak. "What do you mean?"
"She's gone! I found broken glass in one of the rooms," she stuttered, shaking her head. "I-I think someone might have broken in when we were helping Isaac… I saw Brynn in the room. He had a deep cut on his face. He was just staring outside, no emotions in his eyes," she trailed off, hitting her head against the wall. "He-He wouldn't talk to me, acknowledge me, nothing. It was almost like he was frozen – he didn't even blink… I think Moray might have come back and- and- and-"
"What room was it!?" Melina stood up, shoulder's stiff.
Ada flinched away from the teen's voice, then replied quietly. "The closet inside the last room on the right. W-why?"
"Brynn!" Melina called into the house, rushing passed Ada and into the hallway.
Jason watched her go, confusing lighting up his eyes for the shortest of moments. "I'll get Aquilla," he muttered before heading out of the room, leaving only Anton and Ada within it.
She looked at him, staggering over to the table and collapsing on the cushion next to him. She laid her head down onto the wooden surface and let out a sob. "I shouldn't have let her stay there for so long," she cried, "I should have went right to her when everything was over. I'm such an idiot. An idiot… Rosalie, come back!"
Anton forced his sore muscles to relax and awkwardly touched her shoulder. "Ada," he whispered, keeping his words down to a soothing tune. He didn't know what else to say, so he left her name hanging in the air around them.
Just as the silence settled down Melina reappeared, carefully pulling Brynn forward. Without her tug he stood there, like he was soulless, his eyes staring out at absolutely nothing. She sat him down then moved next to him, and the quiet came again, crushing them.
Anton glanced over at Ada, watching as she gazed dumbly at the table. Rosalie was everything to her, and finding broken glass in the room she almost knew her sister was hiding in, Brynn standing in some sort of daze, it must have been hard for her. Is being hard for her. And he wished he could do something to give her something to hold onto, something that would give her at least a scrap of hope to believe in. But he wasn't sure that Aquilla would even go after Rosalie, because of what had happened to Isaac. Because he was sure that he had made his old teacher mad with his words of refusal.
He glanced through the doorway, at his bad which hung on a hook. Could he prove himself to be a loyal friend and use that Katar to Ada's behalf? He sighed, knowing the answer. Maybe Aquilla was right: he didn't belong there in The Phoenix. Not having the guts to help even his own friend was proof enough.
He clenched a fist. There was nothing he could do to help hi friend, he was too weak, too cowardly. Fighting against Isaac was another event that could add on to his list of proofs. If anything, that night told him that he was the most pathetic person Ada could have ever chosen as a friend.
Anton tried distracting himself from those painful thoughts, those pride smashing thoughts, gazing at the pool of light cast along the low lying table. He yearned for the sound to Aquilla clumping up the steps, for the dark skinned man's deep voice to ricochet off the walls and into their ears. It was hard, to do such a thing. The regret and shame kept bounding back, again and again, each a blow to whatever dignity he held inside him. He hated the feeling, and that anger toward himself nearly made him stomp over to his bag and yank it off that hook, so her could prove to be strong and worthy of The Phoenix's title and Ada's friendship.
The only thing keeping him from doing just that was the wanted appearance of Aquilla's sturdy form – Jason sneaking up behind him. His eyes rested on Brynn briefly, soon turning to the others. Jason must have told the man everything, as he seemed to have everything already set up at his disposal. "Ada, I'm going to send Adam to look around for your sister. Do you approve?" He asked, quietly, expectantly. His brown eyes gazed gently at the crumpled girl, and to Anton's surprise his old teacher was beginning to look himself again. Caring and concerned for the behalf of the teen who was once a prized student of his.
Ada remained, unmoving and somber. The light from the window lit her back in patches, showing the scars on her neck off to whoever was watching. "Let me go, too," she murmured, her words muffled by her arms. "Rosalie's my sister, my family. I should be the one to find her. Ever since my parents kicked us out I've been promising to protect her. I don't want that promise to be just some written words, to be a lonely echo." She glanced at Anton as she spoke, the smallest of smiled twitching on her lips.
With the sun gleaming off her clothes and hair, she really did look like a goddess. The goddess of loss and sorrow, and everything stubbornly loyal.
"Ada, I don't want you to risk yourself against the U.O. I-"
"Screw what you say!" She shrieked, startling them all. Even the infamous demon of death took a step back, eyes widening a margin. "She's my sister and I'm going to get her back! So far all I've gotten from you were false promises, and I'm not going to let you ruin another part of me, Aquilla."
"A-Ada…" Anton stared up at her. Somewhere in her fit she had stood up, hands clenched tightly into fists. Anton burned in her eyes and she trembled with it. He had never seen her so worked up before, and it scared him. Cautiously he rose and put a hand on her shoulder, the words coming without him having to think them out. "Ada, it's okay. Calm down, we'll get everything-"
"No! It's not okay!" She smacked his hand away, whipping around to face him. "She's my sister and I was careless enough to leave her alone! Nothing is okay anymore! Don't even dare put on the tough guy act, Anton; you won't be able to do anything for me. You never have been able to!"
Her words stung. They cut through his heart like a sharp blade, piercing through his lungs and sucking out all the air inside. It turned off his mind, where only hurt moved about.
A second knife was thrust into him when he realized that every word she said was right, and he found himself diverting his eyes, watching as the color drained from the world.
"Ada," Jason broke in, taking something from his cloak. It flashed green in his hands as he moved toward her. "Take this and make sure nothing happens to your friend while I'm gone. I can't let you come with me, but I promise you that I will bring Rosalie back." He held the object out to her. It was a green necklace, which confused everyone in the room. "Do you want me to pinky promise? Or do you happen to be older than five?"
She growled, but lifted her hand and took the necklace from his grip. "How do I protect someone with some freaking necklace?"
"It's Esmeralda's Necklace. According to the side of it when it's extended. Twist that little bit there and the chain will unwrap and become a really, really thin bō like weapon. It's surprisingly long and hard. It saved me the last time I checked up on the U.O at Grand Traver."
"Why are you giving her a bō?" Aquilla questioned with an impatient sigh.
"What, did you not see what she did to Moray? She's freaking awesome," Jason laughed. "The poor guy, wasn't expecting her to beat the crap out of him."
"All the reason not to, right?"
Anton jumped, turning to see Isaac leaning heavily against the door frame. A hand hovered where he was wounded, and pain glazed his eyes.
"Isaac, you should be resting," Aquilla said, no irritation floating in his voice.
The quiet man gave a weak smile. "Insomnia. It never does me any good." He coughed and let out a moan, closing his eyes for the shortest of moments. "You know, you're right. I think I am going to lie back down. Wish you luck, Adam." And he left, limping and gasping when he jarred his wound.
The air was heavy and thick, pressing down on Jason as he passed across the broken ruins of Grand Traver, eyes wearily glancing at the shadows that draped the town like a blanket. He sucked in a breath, slowing his breathing. The night was almost there, and when people are submerged in blackness they look to their ears to lead them through the night.
He didn't want to be captured by ears – that would be pretty pathetic on his part – so he held his breath and crossed his fingers under his cloak, wishing the last rays of the sun would hurry up and fade to leave him in total blackness. That was the night wouldn't reflect off of his contacts.
With that thought in mind he nearly stopped his leisurely stroll, wondering if it would be more productive to ditch his cloak and contacts.
If he wasn't on a mission, and without Isaac or Selena there to watch his back, he would have burst out laughing. He fingered the gray spots on the hood, continuing his walk. Once the last ray of light disappeared, he would be harder to find than a needle in a ten mile high haystack. Stripping the almost magical cloak would be a bad idea on his part.
But his contacts… his contacts would prove to make things difficult until he could turn transparent. They were a bright magenta, which pretty much screamed, "Here I am!"
He rolled his eyes. It hadn't deterred him before, so why was it now? Because Isaac wasn't there. Jason sighed. He didn't like doing missions by himself. The last time he went to Grand Traver with no acquaintance by his side he had failed miserably, and Aquilla had been furious with him for so long after.
Shrugging it off he hurried through the rubble, quickening his steps as the light vanished to where he ran through the deserted streets of the once fabulous city.
It didn't take much longer to get to the abandoned mall on quiet feet, though he was out of breath by the time he reached the guard. He pressed up against the wall, pulling his hood up, careful not to touch it with his back so the wall didn't gain his heat signature and turn invisible with him. And he stood to catch his breath, observing the people as they passed back and forth between the mall and the ruins.
He flicked some sweat off his forehead, moving in a way were light won't glint off the cloak's glass like surface. There were so many downfalls with the invention he currently wore on his shoulders, it was crazy. When the U.O created a better version, of he was going to swipe the thing so easily. Using an invisible cloak to steal another invisible cloak, just genius! Nobody would ever know!
Until it was already gone, of course.
A grin grew on his face, eagerness pumping through his veins.
Stepping away from the wall he hurried to the entry way, placing each swift step carefully. He didn't want a flash; to be noticeably visible to all with working eyes.
The guard sat boredly, playing with a pin on his unique blue uniform, gazing out at space in hopes his shift ended soon. Jason felt no pity for him, only a rush of relief when he saw the easy entrance. Ad he took off running, slowing only when he threw himself into the mall.
Heat submerged him, and the sudden burst of light sent black spots to his vision. He staggered, blinking rapidly. Giving his head the slightest of shakes he made his next steps slow and cautious; this bright light would prove difficult to maneuver in.
He glanced down and up and to the sides, moving gingerly. He felt almost that he was playing one of those old fashioned laser-tag games from fifteen years ago, twisting to avoid laser beams. Though in reality he was shrinking away from the light that would make him shine like the strange fixtures above him. Then he snapped his head down, his magenta colored eyes picking up something curious.
The heat was making the floor go invisible underneath his feet.
He scrambled over to the wall, wishing there was a shadow he could hide inside, but the artificial lights the U.O had upgraded to gave him no such thing. The cool darkness of the night sounded pretty good right about then. He couldn't think of anything he could want more, except for maybe an improved version of this stupid cloak of his.
Glancing around the halls and up at the ceiling he searched for cameras and anybody who could see the tiles disappear under his feet. Somebody entered the building and set down the hall, reading a paperback as he walked yet knowing which hall to turn down without looking.
Jason held his breath, waiting for the man to look up and see some of the floor tiles gone with nothing underneath them. It didn't happen, and the guy walked right back, hairs away from brushing up against him. Looking down the hall quickly he followed the distracted guy, knowing people who entered would be more focused on the person who was reading than the disappearing plates.
He gazed closely at the name tag on their shirt – Adrian – and down the hall. Maybe he could steal the uniform they held under their arm and replace it with the misfortunate cloak, as with the U.O's new improvements it was rather useless to him.
The man stopped and turned to the wall. A black box with a red stripe through the center hung there, of which he opened. Inside, written in bold red letters, was the word: ALARM
Adrian pushed the button, and the bright flashing lights kicked in, accompanied by an ear splitting siren. He looked over his shoulder at Jason, staring directly into his eyes. "Hello, Adam. Seems you like the cloak I made." His words were nearly drowned out by the scream, but Jason got the point.
Stupid inventors. They always outsmart you, don't they?
Jason backed up, preparing his muscles for the escape he was going to make.
Hands grabbed his shoulders, and in seconds he felt himself being pressed up against the strong chest of Moray, struggling feebly. The man's eyes stared coldly down at him, and he felt a shiver pass down his spine.
There was a huge bruise on the man's arm – a beautiful work of art Ada had painted onto his skin with surprising force.
Jason's ears were starting to ring, and adrenaline suddenly surged through him to drown the sirens out with the pulsing of blood in his ears.
He bit the bruise, twisting out of Moray's slackened grip and darting down the hall. The shouts of Adrian's and Moray's grunts sounded above the screech, and in seconds they were pounding after him.
And both in far better shape than he was.
Jason threw open the first door that came into sight and ran through the room, rushing passed people who were still on duty and to the luckily placed door on the opposite side. They jumped from their seats, but he was already into yet another room and crossing out to the next hallway.
And the siren came to a sudden stop.
He jumped, startled by the sudden silence that radiated outward like the water of a pond after a rock is dropped into it. For some reason he felt like that rock, and that the water was crashing down around him, ready to catch him under its weight.
He wasn't about to let that water submerge him. He was a rock with wings, and he was going to fly away from this new found danger.
If only rocks could fly.
A huge weight crashed into him, and they both slammed into the ground. Pain raced through his shoulder, and hands were choking him before he could recover.
The grip around his throat was tight, crushing it and sending his head spinning. Within seconds black spots swarmed, blurring his attacker's face. It wasn't Moray, but another man wearing the stripped tags of a guard.
Struggling through the haze he grabbed at the hand, digging his fingers in to pry it from his throat. The pressure lessened and he gasped in a deep breath, summoning up his strength to shove his assailant off.
It didn't work the greatest, and Jason found himself in an awkward position, legs sprawled out to the side with his opposite hip pushed painfully into the tiles. He man was stronger than him, and the added weight led to no advantage on his part.
That was when he saw the guard's belt and all the wicked stuff if carried.
Being the skilled thief he was, it should be easy snatching something up and using it to his advantage. And hopefully soon, because dizziness was setting in, making the room spin haphazardly.
He didn't get much further than his thoughts, the reminder of the fact that rocks can't fly was the last thing his mind registered before the world went black.
"Say, Aquilla," Anton started, glancing up at his old teacher. His new leader. "What's- What's with my parents? Did you talk with them?"
The man looked at him, lips pulled into a thin line. A moment passed, and he let out a deep sigh, putting a hand up to his face. "There's something I need to tell you, Anton," Aquilla admitted, his words grave. "We didn't find them."
"What do you mean?"
"They weren't at your house. We don't know exactly where they are, but judging by the damage-"
Anton jerked, snapping his head up with wide eyes. "Damage!?"
Aquilla nodded and continued, avoiding the boy's eyes. "Judging by the damage, I believe the U.O are responsible for the cause. Hopefully Adam can unknowingly learn about their whereabouts while he is out, but until we learn more we are to stay put and let everything unfold before us. I'm deeply sorry for how out of options we are right now, and how useless we are toward the clause. I promise, though, that everything will be put back together soon. We'll find them and be on top in no time. You just watch. I refuse to let them win."
Now he knew how Anton felt when he choked him into unconsciousness.
He opened his eyes, giving a strangled moan. It hurt to make the sound, and he almost groaned again. His neck felt bruised, and his back burned terrible. Sitting up was the worst decision he had ever made, as the blood rushed from his head and sent his vision to tilt.
He almost fell back down again, and was just able to stay upright enough to look as if he were sitting.
Shadows ran across the call in thin stripes, and when he looked up he could see the wall of bars that encaged him. He pushed his back against the cold stone wall, fingering the ugly bruise at his throat. It stung to the touch and he put his hand back down to the stone floor, never feeling so pathetic before. Or at least, since his time on the streets.
Shadows passed down the hall, and within moments he could faintly see the forms of three people. One was carried between two guards, and when they came into view Jason wanted to shrink back and become one with the wall behind him. The man they manipulated was limp, his skin charred around his neck, his clothes caked in dried blood.
That was when fear decided to roost on his mind, sending cold fingers down his spine. Since the last time he had failed and found himself locked up in a cell, they had really kicked it up a notch.
When the prisoner was pulled into the furthest cell, he released a small breath, shifting nervously on the cold floor. He no longer had any thought that he was going to get out all in one piece, not after seeing the condition of their other prisoner.
Struggling against the pain, he craned his neck, trying to see through the bars. He recognized the style of the walls and hallways, and he instantly knew that he was in the same cell as before.
How stupid of them.
A grin made its way to his lips as he forced himself onto all fours, crawling over to the door of his cage. The strain of doing even such a simple movement told him that a daring escape would be futile, but not entirely. One, two, three. . . He ran a hand along the bars, waiting to feel the one that spun on its hinges.
His last escape from the cell had proved easy, as when the guard opened the door a bar fell loose. One successful hit to the neck, and he had been out free.
Twelve. The bar didn't budge. None of them had.
He fiddled with it, and he heard a crack, making him look down at the base. A white liquid had been fitted in the space – glue. Glue!
Jason laughed, almost unable to keep the sound from flooding the hallways. The U.o probably wasn't the smartest organization, but they were definitely brutal, and he didn't want to see their scary side. Escape was the one and only thing on his mind.
At least for a moment.
He almost banged his head against the bars.
Rosalie! How could he have forgotten?
He fell back onto his haunches with a sigh. This trip into the base was no longer fun and games for him. Remembering the damage Ada caused to Moray, he knew that if he failed he would have more to face than simply Aquilla's wrath.
Pah, he was scared of a fifteen year old girl. What kind of man was he?
He pulled his hands away, watching as a lone guard passed down the hallway. He wiped his hands on his cloak, as if-
Head snapping down, he saw thin colorless pants. Not at all the wonderful black cloak that he was once wrapped around his shoulders.
One thing after the other. Oh luck! How could you have abandoned him so cruelly? What happened to the amazing surprises you had always left him around every corner?
He lay down with a moan, defeat resonating in his bones. There was no cloak for him to sneak around with in whatever shadows the place provided him with and he had no bō to hide in his pockets. Not that it would help much in the position he laid in now, with all his stuff gone and in the position of some other person. At least, if he had it there would be a lower chance that he would be lying in a cage, having been swallowed by the water that wet his wings and prevented him from flying to a safer place.
Well, he might as well start thinking a way to get out of the cursed cell. He had a job to do and he wasn't going to fail again. He was a member of The Phoenix, and he was not going to tarnish his reputation by allowing himself to be captured and tamed.
"A-Adam…?" Jason jumped, pushing himself up to his elbows. The voice was raspy and weak, but the name it spoke… He looked across the hall, eyes training on the beat up form the guards had dragged through not too long ago. Had that man spoken his name? "Is that- Is that you, Adam?" The man spoke again, hope tinging his tired words.
He didn't give a spoken reply, but hesitantly nodded his head. Even from where he sat, he could see the man's eyes widen, a pained smirk twitching at his lips. A croak came from his mouth, making his erupt with hoarse coughs.
"I feel so pathetic, sitting here before you, Adam. After all I said, here I am locked up. You probably don't even recognize me anymore."
The prisoner nodded, closing his eyes. His brown hair fell into his face, each strand stuck messily together with dried blood. Jason's old leader was a sorry sight, but seeing him there sparked a fire in him. Pushing himself back up to his knees, he fiddled with the bar again, jerking it back and forth. The glue cracked some more, and seeing the new crevices he knew that it was coming loose.
He spat out into his hand, rubbing the saliva onto the white, attempting at turning the glue once again into its watery form.
And it came loose.
Luck had finally rejoined his side. A grin split his face as he pulled the bar out and laid it gently onto the stone floor, careful not to let it clang and warn the young guards that he had broken out.
Now, to put his thieving skill to good use.
Standing up shakily, he leaned down and hefted the bar up where he held it parallel to his body. The space between the bars wasn't large, but he stuck a leg through it, slowly creeping his shoulder and side through the tight space. It was a hard squeeze, and his head nearly got caught, but having a thin frame helped immensely.
Baking up a few paces he turned and set his sight on Ugata, who continued to sit exhaustedly in his cell.
That's when the guards saw him. Yells erupted from behind, and he twisted around, holding the heavy bar across his chest.
"Adam, what are you doing?" Ugata hissed from his prison. "Get out of here! I trust you and Aquilla are doing the right thing, so don't think at all about me."
Jason glanced over his shoulder. The Phoenix's creator had his jaw set, and he instantly knew what the man was thinking. Ugata's eyes told him all he needed to know.
I'm not going to survive long enough to be any use to you. Getting me out of here would probably be your death wish anyways, with me being in the condition I'm in.
Everyone deserves a second chance, and you're one of those people. I've already used mine, so now it's your job to make everything right.
I wish you the best of luck.