1780

Blotted Ink with a Broken Quill

United States

13 years old.
In love with books.
Ranger's Apprentice. 1
Dawn of Wonder. 2
Wings of Fire. 3
Warriors. 4
Percy Jackson. 5

ENFP-T

Coldplay.
Beatles.

Guitarist.
Artist.
Screamer.
Lover.
Actor.

Join Date: September 12, 2018

Message from Writer

I have found that what I put here before was very deep.
Nah...
Just wanted to say hi.
So hello.

And remember that whoever you are, however you look, in what way you think, what you drink, how you express yourself, how you write, what music you listen to, and even how long your fingernails are, the only real thing about you is what you decide to be.

Unsouled #psychological

February 2, 2019

FREE WRITING

4
   I had my hands in my pocket as I walked down the Purple Alleyway; the air was coated in Ink sprayings, and this week, they were purple. Last week, it had been Lime Lane; the Dome Lords had made it green last time.
    The air tasted stale, but it was still "Outside," or what the government told us was the Outside. By 2100—it was 2110—everything went underground, and civilization consisted of underground "Pockets". I was in what was once London, and there was zero communication for normal citizens beyond their Pocket. When I was six, I had lived in Los Angeles, but we had moved a year before the disaster, so lucky me. I hadn't seen my parents in ten years, and never would again; of course, they were both dead. I had learned to block out the pain some years ago; there was no reason to feel anymore.    
    I continued down the alleyway towards my destination, WILLD, the War Iron London Laser Dome. Soccer, football, and any other manner of sports had gone to the backlog, and now, WILLD was king. I was quite good at it myself, somewhat of a prodigy; but it didn't matter. All that did was getting enough money to live a little longer. 
    In WILLD, I didn't have to be myself. I wasn't an orphan who almost couldn't cling onto the process of life. I was Xane, the silent spirit. I was Xane, because no one needed to know who I was. They just watched and cheered. They just paid and screamed.
    The world wasn't much anymore, or at least London wasn't anything to talk about. I had heard rumors of other cities being nice, but not this scrap heap. All London was, was just people waiting for entertainment, and doing their jobs to get more money, for more entertainment.
    I continued through the back alleys, following the instructions I had inked in on my hand. I had put in one contact lens to be able to see it; it read: Purple, left, left, right, straight, left, right, right, 3 r d oor, iron maiden. I followed the instructions while skirting around trash heaps and broken bottles. I passed the first two doors, then saw the final one. I pulled my sweatshirt hood over my face; of course, Xane had a reputation to uphold.

    Xane had two tattoos that were visible on his wrists. Interloping snakes that looked liked chains. He had a pair of dark blue ripped jeans on, and a pair of jet black combat boots with adapted souls and bottoms for extra jump height, grip, and speed. The sweatshirt had its arms cut off, and hugged his form tightly, so it didn't cause any accidents. Xane's skin was colored grey; also for appearance, and he had also recently gotten hundreds of purple light Inkings all along Xane's arms and face. Juliet had done them for him; she was a fantastic artist and had come up with the idea, and she knew his real name.

    I knocked, and just like in the movies, two eyes appeared in the open slot, and the hidden mouth asked, "Password." It wasn't a question, but I cooly whispered the correct phrase. "Iron Maiden." The man grunted and I heard the bolt click then the door slid open sideways. I walked inside, looked at the man, and blanched fakely. It was Rohan; he wasn't the usual door guard, specially since he was the best Tank since the beginning of WILLD and had retired soon after making a fortune. Now he just guarded the door 'cause he liked meeting new recruits and old friends. 
    "Xavier! How are you, my boy?" Rohan said, the second person to know my name.
    "As good as I can be with you around here, and yourself?" 
    "Never been better!" Rohan responded with a deep laugh, and came up for a hug, but I quickly ducked under his arm with help from honed instincts, practice, and the shoes. Great shoes.
    Rohan turned around and laughed again, then extended his arm, I took it, and we shook.
    "Have a good time out there," Rohan said.
    "I'll be watching," he finished with a wink.
    I turned away and rolled my eyes. The buffoon. I thought, but a smile managed to breach my face. Every time after he knew I disliked human contact, he made a massive effort to touch me, and it still haunted me, on both a physical and mental level. 
    As I continued down the hallway, I saw various graffiti on the walls. They displayed many things, most of which I tried to unsee. But not much to blame for. After all, people took the chance when they could. Next week, this Dome would be shut down and put out of commission for another eight weeks. The rotation was random and was only given out in ways the police couldn't find.
    I walked towards the locker room and looked out at the arena. Purple light rained down on the stage, which had grooves on the floor to hold laser podiums, which would move during the match. The edges of the arena were empty so teams could walk through, but once they closed, the walls had a teleportation effect. They transported the player to the other side of the arena in the blink of an eye. I looked up to the empty stands, which would soon be brimming with yelling people; what was it for? What had become of this world? (Or just London?) I sighed, then continued down the corridor towards my destination.
    I made it to the locker room after examining more graffiti and saw Talon, our Sniper, and Opal, the Blade. Talon, who had a worried look on his face, spoke first.
    "We don't know where Glitch is, Xane," he said in his heavy British accent.
    I cursed under my breath. 
    "We'll have to make do. He might turn up," I said. 
    "How the hell will we make do without him?" Opal said with none too little moxie.
    I smiled faintly with no humor, lifting my hands in submission. "Nevermind," I said with a quiet dry laugh. 
    "Get ready, Talon, Opal," I said, looking to each of them respectively.
     Talon and Opal weren't their real names. Even though these people were the closest I had to friends besides Rohan and Juliet, they didn't know my name, and I didn't know theirs. We sort of had a mutual understanding, and we all liked it better this way. 
    I nodded to them and we went our separate ways towards our safes. I punched in a code, which was thirty digits long. The security of it was no joke. With many noises that sounded like grinding gears and clicking latches and the sound of my huffed annoyance at the time of the process, the safe swung open. Inside, in a rigid polyethylene orb, sat the power chip. As a Ghost, it was all I needed for the game.
    We each had one, and here was where this sport became dangerous, not inside the game itself, but outside the game on the backstreets of the dilapidated city. These power chips were insanely expensive, ranging in the millions, and people would kill to get their hands on one. They had been specifically manufactured for the game, but it also allowed me to go through walls IRL, or more often, lasers of the opposing team.
    The only thing stopping me from going through the walls of the arena, and, for example, robbing a bank, was the white lasers over the roof. Touch those and you lose. Game over, permanently. I even vaguely remembered a man who got to close, and one of his friends pushed him as a joke... You get the story.

    Opal's chip enhanced physical capability, allowing her to move much faster; conveniently, she also got a massive laser sword to swing at people. Fun.
    Talon's allowed him to pull energy from the chip and put it somewhere, then run somewhere else, then teleport back to the chip; and even more conveniently, if the enemies were in the path of his teleport, they were out—unless one of their teammates ran over to them and touched their paralyzed bodies.
    And Glitch's ability allowed him to convert the enemies lasers to ours, or hack security systems IRL. 
    One thing about our team that theorists in the stands always thought was crazy was that we had no neutralizer; no Shock or a Tank, which each reset abilities. It was a crazy strategy, but we had the training to pull it off. Too much training. Too much of a cost.

    I made it back out after attaching the power chip— which looked like a glowing circle with dark silver edges—to my chest.
    It was odd how they worked. They sort of just attached, and then taking them off would mean killing the person. The owner had to will it off for it to come off. Disturbing, and also the reason for many murders.
   
Talon came out first, and Juliet a heartbeat later. I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker, and it said, Five minutes to appearance. 
    We came into a huddle, and worriedly discussed Glitch's absence. If he didn't make it here in five minutes, we would fight four on three, and then it would be a tough fight. Without a Tank or a Shock, we had no way to stop the opponents, and Opal would be neck deep in lasers. The entire board wouldn't be ours, and that would mean a hard pressed victory or a likely loss. Payment was better when you were well known, and we weren't. If we lost, we would no longer be able to play; so we planned to win.  
    I would be hard pressed to resurrect the Sniper and the Blade if they got stunned, and that would be happening a lot. 
    Conveniently, each chip had specific quirks, which often did different things. Opal's let her lunge farther than Blades I had seen. Talon's boosted his speed when put down his marker, and Glitch could be farther away than most to activate the lasers for our team. My chip was by far the most interesting. Ghost chips normally had a cooldown, just like the rest except for the blade chip. The Ghost chips usually took ten seconds after to use again, but mine took twenty. It might not seem like much, but it was a huge amount of time on the battlefield to not be able to do anything except capture lasers. But the upside was oh so sweet.
    Whenever I resurrected anyone while Ghosting, as it was called, I regained the ability. I was the team medic, and although it doesn't sound to cool, it feels so badass to be able to run through an enemy, dash through a laser that would normally give me an electric shock, jump into a wall sideways, having the ability to run out, then flying by a teammate and tagging them while simultaneously reactivating the ability, flying through another laser, then rolling up to my feet and doing it all over again.
    I laughed at my thoughts. Yeah, I loved this.
    "Gong! Gong! Gong!" The starting bell. 
    "You guys ready?" I whispered.
    Again, nods, but we were still nervous. Without Glitch, we might not win. And if we don't we, we'll be dropped by our sponsor, which would lead down a rabbit hole and end out in a sewer. I let out my breath and shook out my hands.
    "Alright, let's go," This time, I didn't whisper. We walked towards the arena, and as we came forward in a line, I heard the crowd yelling, many of whom were probably drunk or high. But I didn't feel bad for doing this. I had my reasons, and something illegal was all I had.
    A voice rang out over the crowd, which silenced immediately. The Dome Master was speaking.
    "On team Orange," he started. "We have Unsouled!" That was us. 
    The crowd began to yell and stamp their feet, and the Master allowed them, for a moment. We were the underdogs in this fight. Not in skill, in reputation
    "And on team blue!" He began again, "We have, The Crushers!" He shouted out the last word, and the crowd went into an uproar, a deafening cacophony of screaming voices. Ah, so that's who we were fighting. Not the best match. Glitch knew their weaknesses, we didn't. That was usually how we managed to spectacularly beat our enemies. But this wasn't a team Opal, Talon, or I had researched.
    I saw a man on the other team smirk. Time to wipe the smile off his face.
    We walked out under the overhang, and the stadium erupted again, but we continued walking, pretending nonchalance. We had practiced for every part of these tournaments, and we were going to win this year; no distractions. This was the third round before the finale, and we wouldn't go packing yet.
    When the purple spotlight flared over us, the crowd let out an awed breath. The technology of the top dome made it so when it didn't have colored black light on it, it acted as a one-way window. We could see out, they couldn't see in.
    The other team looked the same in the black light, but ours... Oh, we always had something special planned.
    The hundreds of invisible inkings on my skin shone brightly, all of which were random ancient characters.
    Opal had a gas tank built into the sword, which sprayed Ink in a pattern to look like flames.
    Talon had wings that were static gas, a more rigid form of Ink that moved less.
    Glitch usually had code surrounding him, but he didn't matter now.
    The crowd booed after a few moments, but we paid it no mind.
    I heard the metallic sound of the teleporter walls behind me come down from the ceiling, and saw the walls on the other three sides come down. 
    "The match will begin in three!"
    I looked over at Opal and Talon, who both looked ready; of course, I didn't expect anything else.
    "Two!"
    I readied to sprint for the nearest laser node.
    "One!" The man loudened his voice.
    I closed my eyes for a split second.
    "Fight!" He yelled, loudened even further than before.
        The laser popped up from a groove on the floor, and it began to move. I dashed for it as the Blade from the other team ran towards the teleport wall behind him, appearing behind us. I was about to yell to Opal, but she had it handled, reversing her blade and jumping backward, ramming the electric blue light through the man's chest. He let out a yelp from the paralyzing shock and fell into a prone position. He would have to wait to be revived by a teammate.
    I had made it to the laser, and when I tagged it, a bright orange beam appeared that was parallel to two walls and stretched across the arena. The crowd made various cheering and jeering, but in this game, a split second of gloating would lose you the match. 
    From overhead, the arena looked like a rectangle, and this particular arena had two lasers that popped up and connected to two walls. I had activated one, and the other team had the other. Talon saw them activate the other laser, and cursed, divulging from his path of going through the wall behind us. Instead, he quickly headed to the right, putting down a marker and running through the wall, coming to intercept the Thief from activating another laser node.
    The opposing team's Thief jumped back out of the way of the line of connection between Talon and his marker, but then Opal came from behind him, cutting off his route of escape, causing him to stumble, and she launched onto him, slashing downwards, shocking him. 
    The crowd booed, but it was quieter; we had already dispatched two of their team without losing a single man.

    That was when everything went to hell. 

    The opposing Tank had not been idle during the bout, and he activated his ability, surging forward twenty feet and slamming into Opal, even when she tried to dodge. She flew backward, flying through a wall and teleporting to the other side, being thrown straight into a laser the Shock had just activated. Her body went stiff. The Tank's body shimmered.
    Talon, seeing the man in his line of fire, activated his ability, and the line disappeared, Talon reappearing on the other side. Now, all we had to deal with was the...
    The Tank was still moving! He must have been the glitch Tank. "Glitch, you son of a...-"
I had to roll to the side to avoid the Blade, who, out of my notice had been revived and had taken a shot at me. The arena was slowly turning blue and we had nothing to combat it.
    By now, the Thief had been rescued as well and had been converting our laser's into theirs. I knew they still had a good seven seconds before they reset. Seven seconds too long.
    But my ability was ready, and so was I. The blade rushed after me again, but I tagged an empty laser post and dove through the wall, cutting off his pursuit. Talon, seeing my maneuver in trying to save Opal, quickly put down another marker, slipping through a wall and reappearing, making another shock zone. The Tank tailed me, and the Shock and Thief were moving around the arena. I heard a metallic buzz, the sound of a downed player; Talon.
    I saw the lasers closing in, creating a barrier in front of me, and I heard the Tank make a woosh of air. Time for the showstopper.
    I activated, which felt as natural as breathing. In, out, in.
I captured the one small node in front of me that had just cleared of blue laser, and the Tank rushed through me, making static noise. The crowd gasped. The Tank fell into a prone position, but I had no time to celebrate. I launched through an enemy laser, counting down the time I had left in my head. 
Three
The blade, instead of rescuing his teammate as I'd hoped, which would have been the better move for both of us to regroup, continued a mad dash after my shadow. 
Two
Thirty feet away from Opal. The blade was on me and took a swing, met only by empty air.
One
I continued to sprint for her, feeling exertion in my lungs; fifteen feet, ten feet, five.
Zero
I leapt into the wall on my right just before I was sliced in metaphorical half. The crowd held their breath, disregarding the rest of the field.
    The blade, instead of following me, guarded the wall next to Opal's form, making sure that if I came out, even if Opal was freed, I would be shocked. Mind racing, I looked at the sword position, then feinted sprinting at the wall, quickly prompting his attack at empty air, then a split second later rocketing through the wall, flying over the sword, tucking into a dive roll, tapping Opal, then instantly reactivating, jumping through another blue wall to avoid the Blade's counter-attack, then activating a small laser and stopping him, all while Opal slammed her sword through his back. 
    Two left, no more aggressors. We were in the home stretch. Opal and I rushed back towards our side of the field, weaving through blue lasers and turning a few empty ones orange. The crowd was now cheering, changing their mind, chanting in two beats, "UN-SOULED! UN-SOULED! UN-SOULED!" 
    I ran over and rescued Talon, regaining my ability while he laid another line, and a desperate team began to back away, the Shock getting ready to attempt to stall one of us. 
    Looking to a groove, I saw a telltale sign of light.  The laser popped up, and the Thief grabbed it. He had known the position beforehand. Cheating. 
    Opal!
    I rammed my shoulder into her, activating right after, feeling the intense light but no shock.
    She crashed to the ground but quickly got up, making a headlong dash for the Shock and the Thief, prompting the Shock to become wary, and he held his hands out, ready to use his chip. The Thief, sensing an opportunity, quickly turned one of our laser's blue with his ability, but she dodged back, tucking into a roll. Talon drew his own line across the field, restricting the two of them. The laser quickly deactivated, and Opal launched forward, slicing through the Thief. The Shock jumped forward to attack, activating his aura, but he never got the chance. I activated, going inside his body, and Opal lunged for the man's head while Talon secretly did all the work. Talon's laser sliced through the man, shocking him while it looked like Opal's blade had gone through his electric aura, which would be impossible. 
    I followed the man's collapse the best I could, staying inside his form until he became still. Then I slowly rose out of him and rose up a silent fist. I stepped out in front of the man, and Opal turned as well, putting the aura of her blade on the ground to look like she was resting on it. Talon came over, his wings gently flapping behind him. 
     The crowd erupted in screaming cheering, and an ending gong appeared.
     I frowned. There was no gong for the end of the rounds; it was a loud bell. The lasers slowly went back into the grooves, and the other players were released from their paralysis. The bell was a signal. Talon and Opal knew it too. 
    "We have to leave before the ending ceremonies," I whispered, this time out of fear of being overheard rather than reputation. But maybe I just didn't know how to talk normally anymore. Who was I?
    The two of them agreed. The walls would drop in four minutes, which was too long. As we conversed without looking at each other, I noticed men in the crowd who were beginning to stand up, most with their hands at their sides. Firearms. 
    "Blackmail," I whispered. "The Dome Lord sold us out. He must have been offered a high price and no penalty on his head for this.
    It wouldn't matter though. The authorities would most likely still sentence him to a lifetime of prison. 
    "We need to get Glitch to come with us," Talon murmured under his breath.
    "If we knew where in the bloody hell Glitch was, I think he would be here," Opal muttered. "He'll be fine, and besides, he's resourceful. He'll know to get away and stay low."
    We agreed, and I picked up one of the beer bottles that had been thrown down through a small gap in the ceiling laser. I picked it up and handed it to Talon, who had the best aim. No one really seemed to care until he through it through the wall, and since it was un-organic, it flew through, smacking through a plastic case and slamming into an emergency shutoff button. The walls suddenly came down, and the crowd started yelling.
    We all made a mad dash out of the door just as we guards come in from a staff entrance.
    We planned on exiting the building by opening the heavy bolted door, but on the way, I noticed a white slip, and it read, They know everything, have to leave, not just lie low, leave London, get Opal, Talon, anyone else; found Glitch, can't explain, meet at Wellington Avenue, bring your chip block 14. -RSK  Rohan. But who was they? And Glitch?
    I shook myself. We needed to get to him and leave.
    I snagged my bag, which carried all of my belongings. Two pairs of pants and two pairs of shirts, both hyper mesh, which stayed clean for months; a photograph of me and my parents, with my mom pregnant—she had died in childbirth; and a credit chip, which had money—not a lot, but enough.
    We ran back through the purple alleyway as a told Opal and Talon of what Rohan had said.
    We continued for a long time, and at one point, we had to sneak around a police blockade. The London underground was being destroyed.
    Warning: Alert to the citizens of London. This is a mandatory search drill. Please remain calm, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear; we will be searching your homes to check for fugitives, Blared a loudspeaker. A blunt way to put it. Rohan was right. The entire city was caving in on itself. 
    We made it to Talon's car and scrambled in a rather undignified manner. We sped off quietly towards Wellington Avenue, Talon going as fast as he dared. An advantage to hover cars was that they were silent, and they also had a very little light omission. They used a ton of fuel, but fuel was our least concern.  
    We arrived, and I got out. The street was dark, without a street lamp in sight, as if reflecting the night's events.  I saw two shadows. One large and bulky; Rohan, and the other must have been Glitch. Opal and Talon began to head for them, but when they didn't hear me coming, they turned back.
    "I'll be right back," I yelled quietly to them. I threw my three-pound bag onto the pavement, and before I made it inside, Opal yelled after me, "Where are you going?"
    No time, later.
    I opened my apartment, unlocking the door and running upstairs.
    "Tristan?" I spoke as loudly as I dared.
    "Xavier?" He asked. "I heard the announcements! I was so worried, and-..."
    "We have to go," I said firmly, almost creully. Was this who I was now? A dome addict who my brother barely knew?
    "Now."
    He nodded doggedly and went to grab his things. Within thirty seconds, he carried a bag just as light as mine. With a profession such as mine, neither I nor my brother had a chance to have many things; it was to likely we would have to move. I had only gone into laser domes as a means to an end, but now that it was truly over, I realized it had become an addiction.
    It had paid okay, but I had been intoxicated. Not that the game itself was horrible, or even inhumane, but I had neglected to spend any time with my brother, or be anyone other than some silent whisperer in a game of capture the flag.
    I was too much a loner to understand how to take care of a sibling; to do anything for anyone. I was never the older brother he wanted to be. Perhaps I never would be. I would never be the person I should have been.

    We rushed downstairs, and Talon beckoned me hurriedly. I heard sirens in the distance approaching, and I quickly followed his hand. I met up with the rest of the group, and Opal looked to Tristan.
    "You had a brother all these years and you haven't told us?!" She asked incredulously.
    "Yes, but not now," I said in half shame and half vigor. "We need to go." I slouched slightly more after that. 
    "Yes," Rohan said. "We shall leave. Come."
    Stumbling around in the dark, we followed him as he led us a hundred feet further down the block, and we soon came to a massive concrete wall. Rohan searched around for a moment, our anticipation mounting as the sirens grew louder. Finally, he found a spot in the rock.     
    "Xavier, ghost through this wall. There's a passage through here that leads to the Outside. On the inside, there's a lock. Open it, and let us in."
    "So that's your real name," Talon mused. 
    Without a second thought or question about what Rohan knew, I activated Ghost. The chips had been manufactured for the arena, but they worked in ways outside. Feeling odd, I quickly walked through the wall where he indicated. I did not want to find out what happened if the ability wore off in the wall. I groped around in the darkness of concrete, and my hand came into an open space. I stepped into it and then deactivated ghost. It was surreal. I had just walked through a wall... I looked down the corridor, which was lit by faulty and flickering bulbs powered by arched wires that ran with no semblance of order. It wasn't dirty, but there was nothing pleasant about it. I was suddenly cut off from the rest. I was going to the surface. What was going to happen?
 
    I quickly turned around and grasped the latch, pulling out, and then twisting. It took all of my strength, but I managed to undo the work of the rusted seal, and the stone door seamlessly slid open. I gestured inside, and Talon came in first, not bothering for words, just making room for the next person. The sirens seemed deafeningly close. Opal, then Tristan, Glitch. I could see light cresting the corner, and Rohan slipped in just before the police rounded the corner. He turned the latch easily, his bulk and strength far surpassing mine. 
    "Is everyone here?" I asked. I knew they were, but it was still a comfort. I turned back down to look at the seemingly endless corridor that led to the Outside. The real Outside. But what was Outside? Why had we gone "Underground?"
***
    Hours had passed, and not one person in the line had said a word. Not about food, water, or survival above-ground. My brother was walking in front of me, and he was shaking. What had I done?
    I've never been anyone but Xane, the fed up, drunk-on-being-someone-else character. I couldn't blame anyone for anything. I had already made the gravest of mistakes. I hadn't been a brother.
***
In a dark, dimly lit tunnel, walking towards more black, but leaving behind something much darker, I could bear the pain of looking back to look forward. For the first time in ten years, a tear trickled down my hard, grey skin.
     
     

Made for Xavier Nelson for winning my contest.
Also for Xavier Nelson's contest... I don't think it's really the right genre, but it was amazingly fun to write.
(I'm starting to think I want this to be the first few chapters of a book)

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