(A/N: This is an outdated revision of the story as I have lost the more up to date revision of it due to computer problems and failure to back it up. Still I hope you enjoy the story regardless.)
In a dark room only lit up by a slew of computer monitors, many people were typing and above them beyond a small staircase somebody sat in a grand chair staring at the flowing data in front of him. The door leading to the hallway abruptly opens letting in more light to the dark room as a man with dark hair in a business suit enters the room and walks up to the individual seated in the grand chair.
"Sir, we have finally found it," reports the man who just walked in.
"The map or the book?" asks an ominous deep voice.
"The map, sir. We tracked it down to a small family in Greensburrow. It seems just last year most of the family in possession of the map died off due to some unknown illness. The lone survivor, Jekyll Hashima, has inherited the map along with his family's pawn shop," continues the employee.
"Good work. What are the boy's powers?" questions the deep voice.
"There is no known reports of him manifesting any abilities."
The voice stumbles, "How...odd. Everyone has one nowadays. Even toddlers have shown signs of their abilities."
The man replies, "We believe he is a rare case of people who don't get powers. A Null if you will."
He flashbacks to a traumatic scene in his life where a voice echoes, His young eyes drift down to a pool of blood occupied by two corpses. When he snaps back to reality he replies holding his head, "One of those, huh. Well, that'll make our job easier." He gets up and struggles to keep himself balanced.
"Sir?" begins the employee before the voice interrupts, "Prep a helicopter to Greensburrow immediately."
"Are you sure sir?" questions his concerned employee.
"Yes, I'm sure. Don't worry about me. I just dug into the wrong past, again."
"Yes, sir," acknowledges the employee before running out of the room. The source of the voice sits back down and mumbles, "Hmm, the past huh. How ironic how I made my career on digging up old wounds."
As the helicopter blades fly off in the distance, we now set our sights on the lush, quaint little town of Greensburrow. A guy wearing a purple hoodie with blue jeans, jet black hair, and amber eyes with ear buds in his ear listening to "Life is a Highway" (Made by Rascal Flatts) is walking on the sidewalk in Greensburrow. His destination: home to a quaint little pawn shop in the town. Once he arrives there, he grabbed the mail from his purple mailbox and walked into his home/pawn shop, a tiny bell signaling his entrance. He walked over to the counter and placed his mail on it. Afterwards, he walked behind it and took off his backpack before grabbing his mail one final time and taking a good look at it.
"Hmm...this one is from the Law Office. It's probably another bill." He opens it up and it's exactly what he thought it was. "Dang it," Jekyll groans as the sound of helicopter blades draws near. He takes out his headphones as a helicopter flies in front of the shop and lands on the street, probably illegally. The door on the copter opens and a guy with shabby red hair, purple eyes, dressed in business attire, with a fanglike tooth prominent in his mouth, around 5'7" with a lean build hops out of the helicopter and walks into the shop causing the little bell to ring. The man walks up to the counter and greets, "Hello I'm Pyro Kinesis, founder and CEO of Ancient Technology Logistics Inc. (He hands Jekyll a business card.) It has recently come to my understanding that you have come into possession of a rare ancient map dating back thousands of years. I would like to see it for myself."
Jekyll is stunned for a brief moment and after that involuntary pause he clears his throat and asks, "Are you really THE Pyro Kinesis? The multi-billionaire who studies archaeology while simultaneously making several scientific advancements?"
Pyro answers unfazed, "That is correct. I get that a lot. Now, may I see this map of yours?"
He answers quickly, "Of course." He opens a panel in the back of the counter and retrieves a small, wooden locked box which he then places on the counter lock facing Pyro. Then, he open up a drawer near the top of the counter and grabs a key. Jekyll turns the box around so the keyhole is facing towards him and he insets the key into it creating a clicking sound. He takes the key out of the lock and places it on the counter. Afterwards, he turns it back around and states with his hand on the box, "I must warn you right now, this map is not for sale. It's been in my family for generations. That being said, I don't mind you taking a look at it." He opens the box revealing an old glowing parchment inside. Pyro picks up the parchment and unfurls it. Words begin to write themselves on the parchment, "Ye who seekth the power of fate, does thou wisheth to find the book?"
Pyro speaks to the map, "Yes, reveal to me the location of the book."
The words disappear and a map draws itself on the parchment starting from the town of Greensburrow going through forests, past a river, and ending behind some mountains. Pyro got out his phone and snapped a picture of it. Unfortunately, the glare from the map's glow was a bit too much thus making it harder to read. He sent the photo to his photoshop team for editing.
"Well, unfortunately the glare is a little too much for my liking," begins Pyro before the glow weakens a bit. He comments "Convenient" as he snaps another picture that is easier to read but not ideal. He also sends that one to his photoshop team.
"Ok, I got a much better picture now. Anyway, this is the genuine article. You sure you're not willing to sell it? I can offer you a thousand bucks for it," offers Pyro Kinesis.
"I'm sure. Thanks for your kind offer, really. But this map has been in my family for generations. It wouldn't be right to sell it," answers Jekyll sentimentally.
Pyro offers bluntly, "Ten thousand, final offer."
Jekyll declines firmly, "No."
Pyro dictates with a more menacing tone of voice, "You should have accepted the offer." He snapped his fingers and the sound of glass shattering could be heard. Jekyll looks towards his windows and sees ninjas hopping into the store gathering around behind Pyro who starts walking backwards into the crowd, map in hand. "You could have easily avoided this had you only accepted my offer. Ninjas annihilate! And burn everything down to the ground."
Pyro snaps his fingers again. One ninja pulls out a sword, jumps, and slashes the counter in half as Pyro starts walking towards the door. Jekyll frantically starts running as two of them throw shurikens (ninja stars) at him. He tackles Pyro to the ground narrowly avoiding the shurikens. He wrestles the map out of Pyro's hands, gets back up, and runs back out the door. A ninja runs out the door at super speed appearing in front of Jekyll in two seconds. "Filthy Null," says the ninja as he grabs the map and attempts to yank it out of Jekyll's hands. The ninja kicks him in the balls causing him to let go in pain. He stumbles backwards as the other ninjas surround him. They each start charging an attack consisting of an element such as lightning, ice, water, etc. As he recovers from the shock of the low blow, they all fired. Jekyll's body is now charred and fried, his heartbeat irregular and faint. He limps towards the ninja, towards the map as if possessed by a madman reaching out for the map. His legs are barely holding on. "I won't...let you..." His legs gives out right in front of the ninja but he still reaches for the map. The ninja backs away slowly and Jekyll plops to the ground and finishes his thought, "get...the map." The map starts glowing even brighter than earlier and a voice booms out of it, "Do you wish to stop the one who seekth the power of fate?" The ninja exclaims in shock, "It talks?" Jekyll mumbles, "Yes."
The map replies, "So be it." The map glows brighter as a strange octagonal symbol with yin and yang in the center appears under Jekyll and in a flash of light, he vanishes. Pyro walks over to the ninja and yanks the map out of his hand. He looks at it and yells, "What was that!?"
"If thou wisheth to seek the power of fate, a counterbalance must be instilled lest human life be squandered."
"Squandered!?" he yells in frustration before he sighs and takes a deep breath. "Since you can apparently teleport people, why not teleport me to the temple?"
The map replies, "No, that is insufficient for passage."
Pyro states confused, "I have no clue what you're talking about, but whatever. Come on guys, pack it up." He gestures for them to board the helicopter. One of the ninjas ask, "Sir, do you still want us to burn the house down?"
Pyro takes a deep breath and answers, "No, it's pointless now. Greg, stay behind in case he comes back. This whole 'counterbalance' thing might be an issue. If you see him, capture him alive. He might be important later."
The lightning ninja who goes by the name of Greg replies, "Yes sir." He runs into the house. "Everyone else come with me to the temple, and call George telling him I need him to come in to work. Mention he will be paid overtime." He starts walking and realizes something, "Oh, one more thing. Greg, fix that window. It'll look suspicious if we don't."
Another ninja retorts, "You mean a helicopter parked on the street isn't suspicious?"
"No, that's business," snarks Pyro before boarding the copter.
The rest of the ninjas board and the helicopter blades whirl creating liftoff. The copter leaves and Greg looks at the broken glass. "First of all, I need to change into casual clothes. I'll raid this guy's closet."
Meanwhile in a faraway place, Jekyll is slowly opening his eyes. His whole body hurts everywhere. He attempts to move his body but fails. Some weird lady with odd blue skin appears and grabs his leg dragging him to a pool of water. Once his body is submerged up to his neck, she stops right before turning into water herself and falling back into the source. Jekyll thought he must be going crazy because water ladies didn't seem plausible even in their super-powered society. He moved his arm to scratch his head in confusion. He then realizes that he can move his arm. He looks at it and notices the damage is slowly fading away. He cups his hands together and splashes water on his face. He looks at his reflection seeing his body slowly return back to normal. The water in the center suddenly rises up and forms a humanoid shape showing a larger version of the blue woman with sea-green hair. She opens her coral eyes and speaks in a tranquil, melancholic voice with a lot of ambience towards it, "You are the one who wishes to stop the power of fate?"
Jekyll says confused, "Power of fate. No offense, I just want to get my map back from Pyro. I would rather not have him control fate but in all honesty, I'm not sure I care enough for that."
She asks him while circling around him slowly, "So you only wish to stop him, not out of valor but out of selfishness?"
Jekyll responds angrily, "I guess you can call it that. No offense, but I got no power unlike the rest of them. That one guy called me a freaking 'Null' for crying out loud! That term has been used to devalue people like me ever since this whole superpower thing started! How do you expect me to possibly stop him from obtaining the power of fate? Which should be impossible I might add."
She smiles and says, "You are indeed the perfect counterbalance." She reaches out her hand and it suddenly stretches quickly with a lot of pressure and grabs a rolled up parchment on a pedestal. Her hand returns to her and she hands the parchment over to Jekyll. "In order to oppose the one you call 'Pyro' you will need this map to find him. When you are ready to leave, just ask it and it will take you to the start of your journey. She dissolves back into the water with a big splash. Curious, Jekyll opens it up and the map begins to write words on itself, "Yo, what's up my homies? Are you ready to beat the crap out of this guy?"
"You have got to be kidding me," says Jekyll unsure of what to feel.
The map responds nonverbally, "Wow, rude much. Sure, people are always after my big bro but does anyone even ask about my well-being or even my existence? Nooooo."
"Why are there two maps anyway?" asks Jekyll.
"Some guy up in the sky said that if there was only one map, it could lead to imbalance or some crap like that. In all honesty, I didn't care. I'm sure I slept through that class," answers the map.
"Oh, I see," says an annoyed Jekyll.
"No comment on a map even going to class? What kind of anti-comedian are you?" asks the map.
An annoyed Jekyll replies, "I see we're going to get along just fine."
"So you do understand sarcasm," replies the map.
"Where are we anyway? Or did you sleep through that class too?" asks Jekyll a little fed up.
The map replies, "Oh, puh-lease. Give me some more credit than that. I live here you know. You're in the Healing Spring of Celestia ruled by well, the water lady herself Celestia. She's a really nice person but don't tick her off. Last time, someone did that. Well, I think you called it the Great Flood of '93."
Jekyll's eyes went wide as he just learned that in his history class just last week minus the goddess actually causing it. Jekyll said, "I thought that happened because the dam burst during a storm."
"And who do you think caused the storm? Fun fact, some of the waterfalls in your world is where she peed at."
"I could have gone my whole life without knowing that one," partially mumbles Jekyll.
"Anyway, are you ready to go?" asks the map.
He looks at himself and notices his clothes are drenched.
He states, "First of all, I need a change of clothes."
"No problem. I''ll change them for you when we teleport," responds the map to his statement.
Jekyll grimaces in disgust and asks, "Can't you just make it appear here and allow me to change them myself."
"Alright, that's cool."
The map glows and in a golden flash a new change of clothes appears that is exactly like the ones he's wearing minus water damage. He asks, "Just to confirm, this isn't your poop or anything is it?"
"Who would want to wear clothes that are literal crap. No, we're just allowed to pull some Dues Ex Machinas if need be. For example, my bro teleported you here to act as a counterbalance for this whacko you call Pyro. Just roll me up first though. I don't want to see you nude."
Neither did he so he rolled up the map and placed it down. The water turns into a giant hand that points east and Celestia's voice states, "There's a changing room over there." The arm drops backs into the water and Jekyll replies, "Thanks."
As Jekyll went to change his clothes, a helicopter flies high in the sky. Pyro is sitting in the navigator's seat instructing the pilot on where to go. Suddenly, an alarm goes off as one of the propellers suddenly starts smoking stopping it. Pyro runs out of the cockpit and sees the remains of the propeller. The map starts glowing and writes, "Your first task begins." The text disappears and goes over to the parachutes. "Everyone, grab one," he orders with absolute conviction his face determined. The ninjas all grab a parachute along with Pyro. He rushes over to the pilot with an extra parachute in hand. "You too," orders Pyro as he hands the pilot the parachute. He opens up the door on the copter and jumps out. He shoots fire out of his hands to propel himself into the forest. The helicopter crashes down nearby at a 35 degree angle exploding on impact. He lands on a tree branch and sees his crew slowly falling down thanks to the parachutes. He sighs in relief and the map starts glowing. He unfurls it and the map states, "Thou hast passed the first test. You must walk on foot from here." The text disappears and the map redraws itself but this time in greater detail.
"Well crap. I guess this is why it refused to teleport me." He closes the map and puts it in his pocket. He walks over to check on his men. They eventually land and unhook their parachutes. "Is everyone all alright and accounted for?" asks Pyro with dignity. Everyone else deliberates with each other on the issue before answering, "Yes, sir Pyro. Everyone is here and accounted for. Injures seem minor given the circumstances. No further medical attention is required."
"Are you a doctor?" asks Pyro nonchalantly to the ninja who gave the report.
"No, sir. None of us are, except possibly the pilot."
The pilot shakes his head no. Pyro stares at his hand, specifically his fingers and states, "Alright then I'll take your word for it. This will count as a workplace injury which is covered by your company health insurance so get yourselves checked up once all this is said and done." He stops staring at his fingers and looks them straight in the eyes and states, "Apparently, this was a test by the map or some other higher being. We have to remain on our toes." He unfurls the map and says, "It looks like it's at least a 3-day trek between here and the temple. How disappointing. Someone call George and tell him that we won't be needing his services today after all. Before we head out, we need to confirm all of our available supplies at the moment."
Jekyll comes out of the changing room looking good as new. He picks up the map, opens it, and says, "Ok, now I'm ready to head out."
The map glows and writes, "Yo, that's what I'm talking about. One magic octagon coming up!"
An octagon like symbol with yin and yang in its center appears below Jekyll and in an instant he finds himself in a forest. The map begins to draw itself and he was quite a long ways from Greensburrow. The sun is getting ready to set and he says, "So that's where he's going. You sure you can't just send us straight there instead of me walking all the way?"
The map responds, "Sorry, but that's a no-can do. Fate dude said that I'm supposed to interfere as little as possible. He's a bit of a snob."
"For a map, you're not very polite," responds Jekyll.
"If you want polite, you shouldn't have lost my brother. Now get walking, you're not going to get anywhere standing here."
He sighs and furls his map. He places it in his backpack that was included with his new outfit and after he zips it up and puts it back up he starts walking. Night falls, owls could be heard hooting in the distance. Jekyll keeps walking as he hears a hissing sound. He speeds up his walking. Jekyll steps on a twig and half-expects a monster or something to attack but nobody came. He sees some bushes and once he gets to them, he sees a camp beyond it belonging to Pyro.
He takes a sip from his cup of coffee and states, "It was very fortunate that our camping supplies were intact despite the crash. I would like to thank John for quickly gathering up the supplies and bringing them here."
John replies, "Ah, thanks boss."
"By the way, you all can take off your uniform. At this point, you're not going to need them unless that one guy shows up but what would be the odds of that?"
His map starts glowing and he unfurls it. It says, "The odds are very likely as he should have been transported nearby by now."
"Ah crap, really?" says Pyro in annoyance and disappointment.
"What did the map say?" asks another ninja.
"It said that he should be nearby," answers Pyro.
Jekyll walks back slowly and bumps into someone. He looks behind him and sees a ninja towering over him. He grabs him by the hood and walks out the bushes with him.
Pyro says, "Excellent job, Sal. Put him down gently."
The ninja puts him down and Pyro walks up to Jekyll. He starts, "Listen, we got off on the wrong foot when we last met. How about I cut you a deal? We just travel together to the temple and when we get there I give you your map back along with a ride home and we'll call it even."
He gets a text on his phone from the photoshop team with edited pictures of the map. He says, "Interesting."
Jekyll demands, "Let me see the map then. I need to make sure it isn't damaged."
Pyro snaps his finger and another ninja brings him the map. He takes it and unfurls it in front of Jekyll where he sees it draw itself in front of him. Jekyll goes over and inspects it. Pyro comments, "By the way, I didn't burn your house down. There was no need when you disappeared."
"Gee, thanks," says Jekyll sarcastically. He grabs one end of the map and closely examines it. He sees no damage, not that he was expecting any. He looks at Pyro trying to figure out his game. Pyro comments, "I know, suspicious right? Well, it's very simple really. This map considers you some sort of counterbalance meaning you're a potential threat yet it sounds like it's a necessary one so I say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Besides, it'll be easier for you traveling in a group and with this deal you can roam around freely amongst our camp and have equal shares in our food starting tomorrow."
Jekyll's stomach growls and he says letting go of the map, "Fine." He lets go of the map. "However, when all this is said and done I want my family's map back."
Pyro furls it back up and says, "Deal. I am a man of my word after all. Sal, call Greg and tell him he can go home. Troy, get our guest some food. I think we got some rabbit left over from our hunt."
As the ninjas go to do that, Pyro asks, "By the way do you know anything about this counterbalance thing? None of the legends said anything about it."
"Legends?" asks a confused Jekyll.
Pyro sighs and says, "I guess I need to catch you up to speed then."
The ninja arrives with food for Jekyll. He accepts the food and starts eating it. Pyro mentions to him, "No sense in staying in your uniform all night long. Go on and get comfy. We move at dawn."
The ninja bows and leaves. Pyro starts, "Now where to begin? In the ancient pyramids of Giza, there are many hieroglyphs referring to a book that can control fate itself, its origins unknown. Many have tried to locate the artifact, many have failed. While Egypt is one of the earliest recorded instances of this artifact, there has been evidence that numerous other cultures have tried to get their hands on the book such as the Sumerians or the Mayans. We looked into various mythologies and the closest thing we could find to it is in the sacred text of the Worldbuilders, a religion dated back to 12th Century England. They say this world is supposedly a stage. A mere show meant to entertain the masses of another world. This almighty creator supposedly put the book in as a means to an end. An object to seek for his sole entertainment. That book is supposed to be our world. Everything written in it becomes true. Utilizing its power could ultimately do anything. Stop world hunger, bring the dead back to life, give the hopeless singles a girlfriend. Not that I have any trouble with that. They say the only way to find it is with a special map dating back thousands of years when the book and the world was created."
"That sounds like a bunch of nonsense," retorts Jekyll.
"I agree. But with so much evidence of the book's existence I do believe that it itself is real. However, this world being a mere stage. That indeed does sound preposterous."
Jekyll finishes his rabbit as Pyro gets up and starts walking away. He states, "I'm heading to bed. Justine, pitch him a tent."
A young woman with long dark red hair says with an old Japanese accent, "As you command, Master."
Justine and Jekyll left to pitch another tent and a black guy with a roundish face and curly hair walks up to Pyro. Pyro whispers to him, "When he falls asleep, search through his belongings and get rid of any weapons he might have, especially firearms."
"Yes, sir. By the way, I've been wondering. Why do you have such a disdain for guns anyway? You don't let a single one into the building even if they have a concealed carry permit, not even your bodyguards," asks Jeff.
Pyro starts and recalls the image of the corpses of the two people he once held dear. The gun's metal shining as its barrel was aimed at him. He came back to reality and said, "Let's just say I have my reasons. I don't think anyone with invulnerability has been discovered yet but even if that is so it doesn't help me any."
Jeff scratches his head in confusion as he states, "I don't know what invulnerability has to do with your hatred of guns but I won't pry."
He just vanishes as despite not having his mask on, he is still a skilled ninja trained in the ancient art of ninjutsu. Pyro walks back to his tent unconcerned about this new situation. Meanwhile, Justine is pitching Jekyll a tent. Jekyll can't help but admire her precision in the task. She moves on to the next bolt. Jekyll grabs a hammer himself and helps out on the opposite side. Justine warns, "If you dare to harm my master Pyro I will not hesitate in eviscerating you."
Jekyll responds while hammering, "Noted. I'm surprised that he even has an army of ninjas anyway. Isn't he supposed to be an archaeologist?"
She finished her current bolt and answers, "His passion for archaeology is indeed great. He has a spark when it comes to researching ancient civilizations. However, he truly wants the book. I think it may have inspired his love for archaeology."
Jekyll dusts off his hands and goes over to the next bolt while asking, "Which brings me to another question? Why does he want this book so badly anyway? His life is great. He's rich, famous, and everyone practically loves him minus a few old coots."
Justine laughs and answers as Jekyll hammers, "True. But he was not always this way. Something happened when he was younger. I don't know what, but the only person he will tell is his therapist."
Jekyll stops hammering and asks in shock, "He has a therapist?"
"Yes, Dr. Hyde. From my understanding, he's been visiting him since he was little."
"Ahh, ok." Jekyll goes back to hammering and finishes pitching the tent.
Justine bows and walks away presumably to her tent. Jekyll walks into his tent and places his backpack down which came with extra changes of clothes and opens it up. He pulls out his map and it starts glowing drawing him his map. The maps seem to be roughly the same but the path isn't exactly alike. "Hey, why are you slightly different that the other one?"
The map writes, "Because we encourage both sides to take separate routes if need be. Usually, these people don't tend to get along with each other. There's usually a lot of stabbing involved."
Jekyll says with a grimace, "You didn't have to mention the stabbing."
The map says, "That's just the PG version. You want the R-rated version?"
"No, I'm good," replies Jekyll.
He furls the map again not wanting to hear its responses to him running into Pyro and teaming up with him. He opens up his backpack and places his map back in there. Afterwards, he takes off his hoodie and replaces it with a plain white t-shirt. After he puts everything back in his bag, he zips it up and crawls into his sleeping bag. He goes to sleep while John watches his tent from the treetops.
A few hours later, he jumps down and zips open the tent. He walks in not making any unnecessary sounds and sneaks over to the backpack. He zips it open and sees Jekyll's map. He picks it up and unfurls it. It writes, "Who the heck are you?" He rolls it back up and places it on the ground. He rummages through the contents of Jekyll's bag looking for anything and everything that resembles a weapon. He found nothing and placed anything he took out including the map back into the bag. He zips it closed and exits the tent. Once he's out, he zips it back closed and walks away. Hours pass until the rooster crows at the crack of dawn.
Jekyll gets up and yawns. He gets up and opens up his backpack and picks up the map. He looks around him and ventures near the entrance slowly. He listens outside but just hears chatter in the distance. He opens the tent just to check if anyone is there and sees a young Asian woman in safari gear with black hair. She asks, "Is fish alright with you for breakfast?"
He says, "Yeah, that's fine. Are you one of the ninjas who was with Pyro yesterday?"
"Indeed. I am Justine. I was trained by the ancient masters of Jueng-shi," answers Justine as she bows.
"Isn't that Chinese, not Japanese?" asks Jekyll.
"I was born and raised in Japan, but I was trained in China. Ninjutsu is quite tough to learn there but I made due. I also mastered several other ancient martial arts long lost to the pages of history," explains Justine.
"Ok, then," says Jekyll now standing in full attention, "Well, I have to get dressed so I'll see you in a few minutes."
She bows and walks away. Jekyll closes his tent and puts his map down. He changes into yet another purple hoodie but with some weird diamond mark made out of several smaller diamonds. He puts it on and changes his pants and underwear to go along with it. Afterwards, he puts the map back in his bag and zips it up. He exits the tent and goes to the fire. Pyro was talking to a black guy with a roundish face dressed in a fisherman's outfit. Pyro nods his head and motions to Jekyll.
"Come on. The fish turned out just fine," states Pyro still in his business suit.
Jekyll sits on a log and he grabs one of the fish on a stick and begins devouring it. Pyro says, "While we're here let's address the elephant in the room." Jekyll stops eating for a moment and looks at Pyro. "Let's see your map." Jekyll swallows and responds, "What do you mean, you got my map." Pyro gets his fingers into a snapping position and replies casually yet menacingly, "Don't play dumb. I already got John to check your belongings last night. I know you got a second map. So, let's see it or do we find out if you can live a second time against them." He gestures towards his ninjas and Jekyll resigns. He opens his backpack and pulls out the second map. He unfurls it and it writes, "Oh crap. Are you the whacko we need to beat into submission?"
Pyro says unamused, "Your map is very rude."
Jekyll nods in agreement. Pyro says, "Show me your secrets."
"Fine, but I don't like it," replies the map nonverbally before drawing itself. Pyro gets out his map and it draws itself too. He puts them side-by side for comparison and says, "Interesting, so the maps have different paths. Yet the destination is the same. This will make it worthwhile. If we do some cross-referencing we could possibly shorten the journey by half a day."
Sparks are flying in his eyes as he looks at both maps in glee. He says to John, "Inform everyone that we will be leaving in an hour. That should be enough time to find an optimal path." John salutes him and goes to inform everyone else. Pyro clears his throat and says failing to contain his glee, "Come on Jekyll, we got work to do. The secrets of the past aren't going to discover themselves." He grabs Jekyll's arm who is a little shocked by his reaction and is dragged with his fish towards another tent.
An hour later, everyone was packed up and ready to go. The ninjas were no longer in uniform and were instead in their casual attire showing a bunch of different people in terms of diversity, personality, etc. John got a phone call. He picked it up and it was George asking how they were all doing and if he needed to come into work today. Jekyll and Pyro were ready too. In a gesture of good will, Pyro swapped their maps so Jekyll is now reunited with his family's map much to the disapproval of the other one. "Ok, everyone thanks to the two maps I've chartered a course to the temple that will only take half the time. There is a small space between the two mountains and while they're displayed on both maps by comparing them side-by-side I have found a safe route between the two. We'll be taking that route," Pyro explains before they leave.
As the group embark on their long journey, Pyro and Jekyll have a conversation with each other.
"You're not as bad as I initially thought," started Jekyll.
"Like I said, I'm a man of my word. I told you I would give you back the map and I gave it back. It just happened sooner than expected since you had this second map, even if it's rude as all heck," replies Pyro.
"I agree. By the way, why do you want this book so badly anyway? I tried asking Justine but she wouldn't say anything."
"I would rather keep that a secret. Let's just say I don't have good experience with Nulls like yourself."
"Now that's just rude. Nulls is a really insulting term."
"Yet, a term nonetheless. However, if it'll make you feel better I'll refrain from calling you as such," responds Pyro.
"I don't know what to say about that. Are you some kind of racist or something?"
Pyro sighed before replying, "Sorry, it's not you it's me. Let's just say there's a reason why I need a therapist."
Jekyll replies harshly, "Ok, but I'm not sure if I trust you or not."
Pyro responds, "That's fine. We're fine."
They arrived at the passage between the mountains. As they were admiring the gaze of the valley, the ground shook. An ominous sound was heard in the distance they looked and saw a boulder heading towards them. Pyro's hands ignited but a white skinny guy in a Hawaiian shirt shot ice out of his hands and froze part of the mountainside. It collided greatly cracking it but not hard enough to break through instantly. "We need to get out of here before the ice breaks." Pyro yells, "You all heard Troy, let's go." Everyone began running to the other side of the passage. Jekyll tripped and his map started glowing. He looked at it and it said, "Thou's next trial is underway." He closed it and continued running. The ice continued cracking. Jekyll kept running. Pyro was considering melting the ice and letting Jekyll perish. More boulders started coming down. Jekyll caught up with them and they ran towards the other side. Pyro is ashamed by his own thoughts. They kept running as the ice shattered and the boulders came rolling down. They made it to safety and the temple is in sight, but their path back is blocked. Their maps start glowing. Map 1 said, "You passed." Map 2 said, "Congrats on passing that test." Pyro asks, "Are you sure you really want that map?" "I am positive," proudly states Jekyll.
They start walking over to the temple. Once they get over there, Pyro started surveying the area around them was completely barren and an ominous wind blows. Pyro starts barking orders, "Ok, everyone. We got work to do. I want a work camp established ASAP. Janice, get some Wi-Fi working over here. Troy, you're on tents along with Samuel. Justine do you know how to set up a portable cellular tower?"
"No sir," answers Justine.
"Ok then. Me and Jekyll will set that up. The rest of you will go over inventory. I want a full list of our current supplies in the next two hours. Come on Jekyll, we got work to do."
Pyro grabs Jekyll and everyone gets to work. Tents are getting pitched everywhere, way more than there are people. Janice is working on a special router to enable Wi-Fi access even in the middle of nowhere. Pyro is teaching Jekyll how their portable cell tower works in conjunction with a satellite network via a famous cell phone company. Once the cells are working, Pyro makes a phone call. "Hello, this is Pyro. Our plane crashed about a day and a half ago so naturally we don't have the proper tools for an excavation. I want you to send another plane or copter over to our location with proper supplies for an excavation. How soon can it be here? A few hours? Good. Send it over straight away." He hung up the phone. He says to Jekyll, "When it comes to archaeology you need the right tools for the job and due to our plane crash earlier we don't have those. We'll need shovels, drills, possibly explosives if the need arises. We prefer not to destroy anything though if we can help it. Rope and hooks are an essential tool when it comes to exploring ancient temples. We will also need a trap disarming kit as well. The ancients were sneaky."
"Does all this effort go into every dig you do?" asks Jekyll.
"Yes. Besides, we can't get you home until the copter gets here anyway. However, I believe you should come with us. You might be necessary for some of the tests that will be in there. Their maps start glowing and they open them. "Ye who seekths the power of fate must topple the counterbalance in favor for himself," states Map 1.
"The counterbalance, I guess, is supposed to fight the fate dude. But wait, we switched owners so shouldn't we be switching lines too?" inquires Map 2.
"It is of little consequence," says Map 1.
"Everything is of little consequence with you. Remember little Jerry's birthday party?" complains Map 2.
"We agreed never to discuss that," lashes out Map 1.
Jekyll proposes, "I vote we leave these maps here to work out their family drama."
"Approved, but we got to at least place rocks on them," agrees Pyro.
They nod in agreement and find a couple of suitable rocks and place them on the maps. They get up and get out of the tent. Pyro goes to announce the arrival of the helicopter to his colleagues. He is handed a list of their supplies and calls his company to inform them of their current status and supplies. Once he hangs up, he goes to check up on how everyone is doing. All the tents they have are pitched up. Their Wi-Fi is operational and all their food is safely stored away. Pyro goes to his tent to have a meeting with the board of directors or as he calls them, " a bunch of hound dogs." Close to sunset, a helicopter arrives with a whole bunch of supplies and additional staff. They set up bases of operations, sleeping quarters, a proper storehouse, etc. Soon, their research camp was complete. Pyro gave it the thumbs up and so did Jekyll to Pyro's amusement.
In the middle of the night, they had a toast to a job well done, "Cheers!" They began drinking their non-alcoholic drinks since alcohol was not allowed on-site. Pyro says, "You know Jekyll, you're not that bad of a guy. Maybe instead of opposing each other in silence we should just team up to get the book. What do you say?"
"I still want to know why you want the book in the first place," answers Jekyll which immediately darkened Pyro's mood. He flashbacked to a woman yelling, "Run!" before a gunshot is heard. A man stands in front of him with his back turned while another man holds a gun aimed at the man. The one not wielding the gun hands ignite but he is shot and his corpse falls to the ground. He snaps out of it and says, "I can't tell you that. Sorry."
Jekyll catches the strain in his voice and just nods. He wonders why Pyro won't say anything, but he figures it must be something traumatic. He thinks back to something Pyro said earlier, "Let's just say I don't have very good experience with Nulls like yourself." He wonders if that's connected to his quest for the book. He goes back to his tent to rest.
The next morning comes and Jekyll wakes up and walks out of his tent. He sees a crowd of people at the entrance of the temple with Pyro in front of them giving a speech. He walks over there and Pyro greets, "Hey there Nu-I mean Jekyll. Gosh, that is hard to do." He scratches his head in contemplation. "Anyway, you should get dressed because we're going into the temple soon. There's already some soup made for breakfast so grab some of that. We'll be going in the next hour or so, and sorry for my slip-up." Jekyll nods and goes back to his tent to get dressed. A tall, black guy with a lean build and curly black hair walks up to Pyro and asks, "Since when were you buddy-buddy with him?"
"We found him on our way here. He's supposed to be some sort of counterbalance so it's better if we keep him around."
"That wasn't my question."
"Essentially, acting friendly is simply a means to an end," he says coldly.
"Is it? Because that didn't seem like acting. But what do I know? Just remember he is a Null. In the end, he'll try to kill us. Just like the rest of them," says the guy before leaving.
Pyro looks down contemplating his words and then he remembers the huge crowd of people there. He clears his throat and announces, "If there's no further question, then get ready for the expedition." He walks away and the crowd disbands. Pyro gets out his phone and calls someone, "Hello, Dr. Hyde?"
An hour later, everyone reconvenes at the temple including Jekyll and they head inside the temple. They use the maps to avoid the traps cross-referencing them to spot unknown traps. Eventually, they stepped on a tile that sent Pyro and Jekyll into different rooms. Jekyll lands on his butt and groans, "Where are we?" Nobody answers him and he thinks, "Ok, it looks like I got separated from everyone. I can probably use the map to find the way out." Suddenly, the room starts filling with scorpions from every angle. Jekyll looks everywhere and sees a vine hanging form the wall. He runs over to it, jumps, and grabs on. The scorpions come from the edge of the wall the vine is attached to. He sees this and starts searching his pockets for something. He gets out a pocket knife that Pyro loaned him before coming in here and he sliced the vine. Thanks to his weight he starts swinging on it and spots a higher floor. He swings back and forth hoping to gain enough momentum to jump before the scorpions fill the room. With only a few seconds to spare, he jumps and grabs on to the ledge. He climbs up and as soon as he gets up he runs down the hall taking a quick second to catch his breath. Meanwhile, Pyro is in a cold room with an icy floor facing some ice monster. He's shooting fire at it trying to melt it but to no avail. It stomps its foot and spikes of ice sprout up from the floor. He jumps and uses his fire to propel himself. He decides to melt the ice on the floor around the monster. He shoots flames from his feet in order to steer himself in the air while melting the floor but this burns off the soles of his shoes. He circles overheads and the monsters breathes an icy breath that freezes anything on contact. He dodges it and it freezes the ceiling and the wall. This gave Pyro an idea. He stopped shooting at the monster and starting propelling himself up and he fired his flames from his hands at the wall. It was cutting it close but he barely managed to break the ceiling before sustaining a head injury. He heard the monster shoot another breath and he jettisoned himself through the hallway before it could freeze him. He flew out of an exit and found himself in a magnificent chamber. He was in awe at the sight and landed. He looked at his shoes. "Aw man. This is why I hate using the flames from my feet. New shoes every week is too darn expensive. That's why I try to reduce it to at least once a month." He takes off the charred remains of his shoes and tosses them. He hears a sound and sees Jekyll tumbling down a shoot screaming.
He lands face-first and mumbles, "I barely got out of there alive." Pyro walks over to him and extends his arm while smiling. "Need a hand?" Jekyll smiles and takes him up on the offer. He grabs it and stands back up. They look at the chamber and see a book. However, the book was pretty thin. They look at each other and go over to it. Pyro grabs the book and opens it. It glows and a beam shoots out of it. Outside, the sky turns into pages not just in the area but all over the world. The beam disappears and Pyro can finally lay his eyes on his prize only to see, "What is this? It's only around 20 pages long I and it starts from when I found the map? What madness is this?"
Jekyll grabs the book out of Pyro's hands just to confirm it and sees that he speaks the truth. He says, "Dude, that's nuts."
"I know, right? It looks I won't be able to use it to change the past even if I wanted to," states Pyro.
Jekyll replies, "Well, unless you write a flashback scene and retcon any contradicting scenes."
Pyro looks at him wide-eyed. "That's actually...not a bad idea. But still, why does it start from when I found the map? Shouldn't it start when the world starts? That should at least be 8000 pages."
Jekyll answers with a question, "Remember that legend you told me about the world merely being a stage for another world's entertainment? What if we're the story?"
Pyro looks at him concerned and starts reading the book for himself with Jekyll looking over his shoulders. After he got done reading it, he noticed the end of it was still writing itself as it went along. Pyro states, "You're right. We're the actors." He pulls out a pen and a giant mound of dirt rose up in the chamber.
"Whoa. It works. So, what are you going to do with that book? Wait," realizes Jekyll.
"Is something the matter?" asks Pyro.
"Who are those corpses in your flashback scenes?" asks Jekyll.
He flashes back to them falling on the ground with the guy in the gun aiming it at him. "You Supers think you're all that. You have the nerve to call us Nulls? Well, a lot of good it does you when guns are still as effective as they ever were." He gets ready to fire before someone tackles him to the ground and yells, "Run, kid, run!" He runs for his life, crackling electricity can be heard in the background. The flashback ends and he feels dizzy. He answers, "My parents. Some Null attacked us in an alley years ago for no other reason than we were Supers. I hated Nulls ever since."
Jekyll apologizes, "Oh, sorry. I didn't know."
Pyro continues, "It's alright, but I believe you taught me something. Not all Nulls are like that. Maybe I can learn to let go."
He begins to burn the book. "I don't need this anymore."
A shadow jumps out of the side and grabs the book. The shadow turns out to be one of Pyro's ninjas. He throws on the ground and stomps on the flames to put out the fire. He says, "I'm highly disappointed in you, Pyro."
"Greg?" asks Pyro shocked by the sudden events.
He takes off his mask revealing the face of the tall, black guy from earlier. "Yes, that's correct. In all honesty, I followed you all this time because I thought you knew what it was like to have to deal with all these Nulls. They are a plague on our world and must be snuffed. Now, I see you all buddy-buddy with one. I will not let this stand!"
He grabs the book and takes out a pen. Pyro thinks fast and launches a fireball but he dodges thanks to seeing it written in the book. His places the book in the same hand as the pen and starts charging electricity. He shoots it at Pyro who jumps up. Jekyll rushes him and tackles him to the ground. He loses his grip on the book and it slides over the floor. Pyro runs to it. Greg electrifies his whole body causing Jekyll to scream in pain thus causing him to fall off his body. Pyro manages to grab the book, but Greg uses the electricity to speed himself up and tackles Pyro. He grabs the book that falls out of Pyro's hands. Jekyll is struggling to get back up. Greg opens the book and jumps on the mound of dirt. He electrifies the way up before jumping into the hallway. Pyro propels himself upwards in pursuit of Greg. He yells, "You know Greg, you're one of the people who gives us Supers a bad name!" Greg is running a lightning speed with Pyro on his tail. Jekyll gets up but is struggling to stay up. Pyro starts creating a massive fireball. Greg turns at a fork in the hall and accidently triggers an arrow trap that he runs past but Pyro can't. He launches his fireball. Jekyll opens up his map and pleas, "Please help."
The map replies, "No can do."
He opens the other one which replies, "I really wish I could, but my hands are tied."
Then he hears a voice behind him say, "I can help just this once."
He looks behind him and sees a glowing figure in a robe with an odd staff. He touches him with the staff and his injuries fully heal. "Now let me give you one last Dues Ex Machina."
Greg is breathing heavily hiding at the corner of the hall. He opens the book once and prepares to write in it. He feels a tap on the shoulder. He looks to his left and sees Jekyll who punches his light out. A while later, he's being loaded onto a police helicopter and doctors were examining Jekyll and Pyro. They were very surprised by Jekyll's lack of injuries. Pyro asks, "So how did you do it? Did you convince the maps to teleport you to Greg?"
Jekyll replies, "No, someone else came and said he was going to provide one last Dues Ex Machina. Next thing I knew I was right next to him."
Pyro wraps his arm around him and noogies his head. "So, want to be friends?"
"Sure, just don't threaten to burn my house down again."
"Deal," says Pyro.
"By the way, sorry about what happened to your parents," apologizes Jekyll.
"It's alright. It's a long time ago. That's why I go to a therapist. It's something you never recover from. However, I'm willing to try."
Jekyll smiles as they watch the police helicopter fly away.