The Last of Shadow Templars
Episode-01: Minutes to Midnight
Date: November 23, 3008
Location: New Leaf City
Cause all of the stars
Are fading away
Just try not to worry
You’ll see them someday
Just take what you need
And be on your way
And stop crying your heart out…
The jukebox faded into the background, the drunken voices dominating over the serene song by Oasis. I took in the lyrics as if they were manna from heaven; the melody whispered in my ears, making me smile to myself. Around me, the world seemed to fade away, leaving me in my own personal solace of peace.
“Nova?” A voice came up to me, breaking into my momentary tranquility. I turned around and met Damiver Lazin’s dark brown eyes. He swooped down, planting a quick peck on my lips; I felt his hand enclose around mine and pull me away from the bar, “Let’s get out of here,” he said with a funny-looking grin.
As the door swung open, I felt a rush of cool air meet my face. Taking a moment to let the wind chill me to the bone, I realized fall was over now, and winter was just around the corner, waiting to cover the entire city in its white frost. The nights grew longer and longer with each passing day, and for some reason, I loved it.
Damiver pulled me down the chilly street. A gust of wind brought a cluster of red and yellow leaves swirling around my feet before it sent them off into the distant night. Wrapping my scarf around my mouth, I huddle close to Damiver, feeling his body heat course into mine.
Opening my mind, I let the city’s nightlife take me. I could hear the bustles of fathers and mothers trying to get home in this dreary weather, the cozy conversations of families around the fire as they related stories of their day. Looking up, I noticed it was a full moon. The white orb hung in the air, lazily reflected the sun’s rays down into the night city. For some unknown reason, it seemed familiar to me, like something out of a nearby dream.
We sauntered up the stairs onto the landing where our apartment was. Damiver opened the door for me, and the warm gush of air welcomed me back home. As we climbed up to the top floor, I could hear the clanging of our shoes on the metal rails echo off of the close walls, blocking out the extraneous white noise from our neighbors. Once we reached our floor, the both of us walked out together, hand in hand.
Suddenly, Damiver stopped in front of me. Curiously, I tried to peek into his mind, but found myself facing a brick wall. Over the year, he had learned to block my telepathy, a trait that was both a blessing and a curse. “What’s the matter?” I asked soothingly.
“Nova, do you know what tomorrow is?” He asked, still facing away from me in that frozen state.
“Um…” I pondered for a moment, but then suddenly remembered. “We’re going to Zipangu right?”
“Which means,” he continued, acknowledging my answer, “This is the last night we’ll be here back at home.” He turned around with a wide grin upon his face, “Nova, my darling, you’re in for one wild night.”
The lock on the door unlatched and swung open, and I felt as if someone had just punched me in the stomach. A burst of roars and shouts, topped off with blasting music clawed jubilantly at my eardrums as the party met the hosts. Instantly, I knew they were throwing a going away party for me and Damiver. Moreover, I immediately knew Damiver had planned this all along.
I let myself be pulled into the mob of friends. On one hand, it made me gloomy that we would be leaving all of these loving people, but on the other, Zipangu was somewhere we had always wanted to go to. A few weeks without our beloved friends couldn’t hurt, and besides, our home would never up and leave.
“Nova!” A voice roared from behind me. Strangely losing Damiver’s hand amidst the party, I whipped around and broke into a smile. It had been months since I had seen Michael Reinhart and Maldran Argali. I had known them forever, and our meeting seemed so long ago that it was irrelevant.
After dispensing two more hugs, I brushed myself off and looked back up at them. “So what have you two been up to?”
Michael glanced at Maldran and burst out into a hearty laugh, “We’ve joined the military again! I guess our little ordeal hadn’t been enough for us.” For a moment, my heart stopped beating. Had I heard them right? Did they join the military again?
“That’s… that’s great, you two,” I managed to stammer out, unsure of how to react. Then, I remembered truly what this day meant. Only a year ago, the world was much different than it was today. The entire planet was ruled by the Nexon Dominion, a corrupt organization that spent most of its funding on military strength and soldier testing. I knew only too well the aftereffects of their horrible experiments.
Pushing my past behind me, I felt a massive hand clap down upon my shoulder, and I found myself face to face with Felix Shadeswalker, whom I had also known from the war. “Isn’t it your birthday tomorrow?” he slurred, slightly drunk. I chuckled as he stumbled sideways, letting out a massive burp as he took another swig of a bottle of champagne.
I had not noticed it before, but tomorrow, the 24th of November, actually was my birthday. It had been so long since I had had a birthday party, that the fact just seemed to slip away from my mind.
Felix seemed to notice my little revelation, and guffawed loudly, “No matter! This party will make up for all of the missed ones!” He reared off course and smashed into the wall, knocking over a painting of the Kerning City skyline. Laughing, Maldran and Michael helped him up and dusted him off.
“Same ol’ same ol’ Felix eh, Nova?” Michael chuckled to me and then led Felix off to the couch where he could sober off.
Suddenly, the ground shook furiously, as if the planet was trying to rid its surface of all inhabitants. I collapsed to the floor, feeling the floorboards creek and groan in strain. The lights went out, dousing the party with a blanket of blackness. Then, as suddenly as it started, everything became still once more. The lights flickered back on again, as if unaware that anything had happened.
“Nova!” I heard somewhere in the distance, “Nova!” Turning around, I saw Damiver just in time as he collided with me, “Are you ok?”
Brushing him off, I frowned and looked around at the frazzled spectators, “Yea, but what was that?”
The TV clicked on in the living room, and we found our way up to it. The news had just started, interrupting the channel’s usually scheduled programming with a special breaking news bulletin.
“We interrupt you’re show for this breaking news story,” the female anchor reported, shuffling papers around; they had also been hit with the quake. “New Leaf City has just experienced a minor earthquake measuring a 3.9 on the Ludi Scale. There are reports of some minimal damage to infrastructure in the area, but no major harm has been done. We go now to Dest Won who is near the epicenter of the quake. Dest?”
The camera faded, revealing a man dressed in a black trench coat and wearing a large fuzzy hat. “Thank you, Aliyah,” Dest chattered through his teeth, “I’m here at the epicenter of the blast, where you can see the earthquake has left a massive crack down Main Street directly into the harbor. We do not know what the status of the city’s sewer system is at the moment, but we will keep you updated… Waitaminute what was that?”
The camera shook, as if the floor was actually shaking. In my mind, I knew this was no quake.
“You see that?” Dest stammered as he pointed down the street towards the ocean, “There’s something moving over there!” I could hear the camera man breathing heavily. Somehow, I felt his fear creep into my own heart.
“Fleo, you see it?” Dest asked the cameraman, which shook up and down in acknowledgement. “There seems to be some activity going on down there by the docks. We’ll try to make our way closer… HOLY SH**!” The microphone on the camera registered a last, deafening, and very unearthly bellow before the screen fizzled out into static.
“Dest? Dest!” Aliyah called out, but to no avail. “I’m sorry, something must have happened to the reception…” But the rest of the report didn’t matter anymore.
“Come on,” I pulled Damiver with me, “Let’s see if we can see anything from the roof!” The both of us lead the party of people up to the top of the apartment. I could hear police sirens reverberated off of the walls of the skyscrapers in the distance as they sped towards the docks.
“See anything?” someone called out from behind. Michael, who was beside me, whipped around and answered a negative.
“I dunno, something might be there,” Maldran exclaimed as he hugged himself for warmth. I could see his breath flow out and mingle with the cold air as he breathed. “It’s too hard to tell.”
“Looks like you guys should have left town a bit sooner eh?” Felix growled, surprisingly much more sober than barely ten minutes ago. It was now just minutes to midnight.
All of a sudden, a muffled bang met my ears. The world to the east lit up as if the sun were rising at an amazing pace. Whipping around, I felt my heart drop to the ground and my emerald eyes dilate; I covered my mouth in horror.
A vicious fireball tore through the first skyscrapers closest to the ocean as if a nuclear weapon had been detonated. Fragments of concrete and steel soared out into the air from the epicenter of the blast in all directions, leaving smoky trails behind as they made their way back down to earth. They screeched out like burning missiles, aimed for massive destruction.
And that was when I realized one was coming exactly for us. Breaking into a sprint, the party fell back into the stairwell just as the first block of concrete hit the building, instantly shooting straight through the roof where we had just been on directly onto the ground floor, piercing through all ten floors of the apartment complex. I felt the stairwell suddenly lurch indignantly, and then found myself falling.