Chapter 3 - The science of Fate.  What the textbooks don't know!

Chapter 3 - The science of Fate. What the textbooks don't know!

A Chapter by TOF_Matt
"

Barely escaping the bar with their lives, Noal and Ella run into a contingent of troops from the militaristic nation of Luppita, one of the very nations responsible for the bounty on Noal's head.

"

Threads of Fate

Chapter 3

The Science of Fate.  What the textbooks don’t know.


It was amazing the regularity with which things went from bad to worse and it was for that reason alone that Ella had her next move planned well before that rifle clicked.


“Twenty million plats.  I like you kid, but our impromptu friendship is definitely worth less than that.”


“Impromptu friendship?” Ella whispered to Noal.


“It’s a long story. I’ll explain it to you later.”


“You won’t have a later,” the gruff voice interrupted.  “Any last requests?”


“Where did you get that tattoo?” Noal asked, deadly serious.


“My tat... what’s it to you?”


“Where did you get it!?”


The old man paused for a moment.  “Both of you, turn around.”


Ella and Noal did as they were told, turning face-to-greasy-face with Graceys’ bartender. 


            “Just who are you, anyway?” he asked.

“Noal duck!” Ella shouted.


Ella kicked forward, yanking the Fate thread she’d hooked earlier with her foot.  High above them on the remains of the balcony, the chamber of a teetering rifle popped open, spilling gunpowder into a wall-mounted kerosene lamp directly behind her.  The lamp flashed hot white, blinding the bearded man.  He screamed and swore, firing wildly into the air as Noal and Ella dove behind some overturned tables and scrambled for the door.

                “What’d you go and do that for!?” Noal yelled.  “I needed him to talk!  You could’ve just jammed his rifle or something!”

“Look, next time you save the day you can do it however you like!”


Stray bullets streaked randomly, cutting holes in the already mangled decor.  Noal and Ella weaved their way through the maelstrom, straight toward the main entrance. 


“Jump!” Noal yelled.


The two burst through the opening just as the swinging doors behind them were shredded.  Ella tucked and rolled, shielding her eyes as piercing sunlight overwhelmed her senses.  She hit the ground running, immediately searching around for Noal, but she could see only dark patchy silhouettes.  Even flailing her arms in front of her, she almost smacked headlong into a couple of passerbys.

“What’s going on here?” one asked in a proper tone, steadying her in his firm grip.


“Run!  Quick!”


“Excuse me?”


A table crashed through the shredded saloon doors and Ella turned just in time to see the enraged bartender emerge from the opening.

“Get back here!”


Ella pushed herself out of the passerby’s arms but tripped, bringing them both tumbling down.  As she met with the dry, dusty floor, an immense wave of guilt washed over her.  She’d just killed an innocent man - or had she?

                “Lieutenant!” he yelled.

In an instant the young man’s traveling companion, a towering figure that she would have just as soon assumed was a statue, leapt in front of them and leveled her pursuer with a clothesline so bone-shattering that the force resonated like a tremor.  The shocked bartender hung off the ground in suspended time, rotating nearly ninety degrees around that massive arm, before finally crashing to the floor in a limp heap.  Ella was flabbergasted into silence.  She rubbed her eyes until they adjusted to find the helping hand of her dark-skinned savior. 


“Ahem,” said a voice from underneath her.  “You would do well to remove yourself from me.”


The mountain-of-a-man lifted Ella off the ground by the scruff of her shirt and gently set her down before helping his companion up.  They were a starkly contrasting pair.  One was a giant, perhaps in his forties, with a body built like a brick house.  The other was about Ella’s size, leaner and more toned, with slick black hair adorned with red streaks.  He must’ve been in his mid-to-late twenties at most.  They both wore identical overcoats, which for some reason looked very familiar to her. 


“Good work lieutenant,” the smaller man commended.


Ella suddenly realized those were uniforms - Luppitan uniforms!  What were Luppitans doing here!? 


“I trust you are unharmed?” the young soldier asked.


Ella was about to respond before realizing he wasn’t talking to her, but rather to a stunning young woman with rapturous blonde hair.  She answered him with a barely perceptible nod. 


“In the future, I suggest you take caution in those you assault,” he said, actually addressing Ella this time.  He spoke in an elegant tone, suggesting he was a ranking officer, though Ella had never seen one this young before.  His stone expression betrayed only vague irritation.


“Assault!?  I was trying to protect you!” she lied, just a bit.


The officer raised an eyebrow.  “I assure you, I am not one who needs protection.”  The soldier walked past her to the unconscious bartender, and turned the body over with his foot.  “Tch… amateurs,” he muttered with disdain.





-

As if on cue, a distinctly familiar voice cracked hoarsely from the bar.

                “Captain!  Captain Uwei!”

To Ella’s surprise, a flustered Pellegri came hobbling out the door as fast as his broken-down body would allow him. 


                “Corporal Pellegri,” the captain responded.

Corporal Pellegri!?

                “Sir,” he said, gulping down some blood in his mouth as he struggled to raise his arm for a salute.  “I’ve delivered the target as you’ve requested.”

The captain shot him a raised eyebrow.  “What... happened to you corporal?”


The man was in shambles, his clothing torn, his face bruised, and his left leg looked about ready to buckle.  Ella grinned sheepishly as she sidled up alongside the captain.

                “Yes, do tell.  What did happen?”

Pellegri’s eyes widened through his broken glasses.  Well this explained the lack of security in the casino.  A neutral town like Fortune Town would never want to agitate a nation as large and powerful as Luppita.

                “W-We ran into some unexpected difficulty!” Pellegri stammered. 


                “From?”

Pellegri looked back for moral support, but found only his men leaking out of the building in soundly beaten fashion.  Ella was curious to see what explanation he could come up with that did not involve him and his posse being beaten up by, as Pellegri had once put it himself, a couple of kids.

                “H-Him!  Over there!”

Pellegri pointed past Ella to Noal, who was currently half-buried face-first in the sand with his buttocks suspended in the air. 


                “Sir, that boy.  Th-that’s him!  The legendary monster, the Human Hurricane!  He took down the entire platoon!  There was nothing we could do!”

The fear in Pellegri’s eyes was genuine, but Captain Uwei could only raise an unbelieving eyebrow as he watched Noal pull himself off the floor.  He grabbed the flustered corporal by his jacket and dragged him toward Noal.

                “You there!  Are you responsible for this?”

                “I-I’m sorry?” Noal asked, still a bit dazed.

                “It was him, I swear!” Pellegri blabbered.

                “Oh would you just shut-.”

The captain raised a single finger and Ella immediately shut up.  She wasn’t usually one to pander to authority, but something about this guy gave her a very bad feeling.


                “Let me ask you again.  Did you, or did you not, just single-handedly inflict this absolute defeat upon the corporal and his trained men?”

Only one thought went through Ella’s head: deny, deny, deny.

                “Actually… no",” Noal responded, almost disappointedly.  Ella exhaled a sigh of relief.  “"It was kind of a team effort,” he said nudging Ella.

                “Why?”  Ella whispered out of the side of her mouth.  “Seriously, what have I ever done to you?”  Ella looked awkwardly at the captain and forced an apologetic grin.  The captain’s face might as well have been chiseled in stone.  “Look, I can explain.  It’s true we kind of roughed up your men a little.  But, I mean, they had it coming!  If I hadn’t caught them cheating then none of this...”

                “Cheating?” the captain asked.

Pellegri’s face went ghostly white.

                “You know… in the casino… playing cards?”

                “Really,” said the captain, his voice suddenly more lively.  “This information is of much greater interest to me.”

                “B-But, but,” Pellegri stammered.  “The boy!  He’s the Great Destroyer!  I’m telling you!”

Noal was noticeably irked by the Great Destroyer remark, but Ella held him back.  This was almost too entertaining now.

                “Yes, of course.  And I suppose it was he who threatened you to gamble when you were supposed to be minding your duty?  Please forgive me if I am not convinced.  Was it not you and your men that sung drunkenly of his exploits as a seven-foot mountain of muscle?”  Despite the fact that he was easily several feet taller than his own captain, Pellegri shrunk with each word.  “Do me a favor, corporal.  The next time you fail, and believe me you will endure many failures in what Fate has predicated to be a very brief career, don’t you dare show your face to me.  When you place the blame of defeat upon a child, you shame yourself and every officer above you.  And as I am the one who holds that position, know that I will have no qualms about crushing you under my boot like the worthless insect you are.”

Pellegri swallowed nervously.  Noal, meanwhile, was ready to burst at the quip about being a child, but Ella wrestled him back. 


                “Now, fetch your men and get back to the villa.  I should like for our stay here to be as brief as possible.”

Pellegri saluted and ran off to gather his men.  The captain just sighed and looked back to his towering associate. 


“Bloc, we shall take the prisoner to the villa as planned.”


The giant nodded silently and slung the bartender’s body over his massive shoulder like a sack of potatoes.  Ella let out a sigh of relief.  They’d dodged military attention not once, but twice in the same day.  Now they could set their sights on finding a nice place to stay for the night and… 


“Wait!  I can’t let you take him.”


Ella’s jaw almost fell off as Noal stood defiantly opposed to the Luppitan captain. 


                “Excuse me?” Captain Uwei asked, calmly.

                “Are you insane!?” Ella muttered under her breath.

                “That man and I have business,” Noal announced, ignoring Ella’s pleas.

Ella suddenly found herself in the crossfire of the two glaring men. 


“Really,” the Luppitan chided with a fake sort of surprise.  “And, if I may ask, who are you to ask that of me?”


Noal remained steadfast.  “I could ask the same of you!”


The Luppitan smiled.  “Very well.  You may address me as Captain Uwei Dalmasacus of the fifty-first division of the Luppitan Empire.  And you are?”


Ella squeezed her eyes shut and braced for Noal to say the dumbest thing possible given the circumstances…

“My name is...”


Yet by some mercy of Fate, he dropped off in mid-sentence.  Like an angel descending from the heavens, the blonde girl from earlier peeked out from behind Uwei and looked straight at Noal.  Her rich peach skin glowed in the midday sun and her frilled skirt danced in the desert breeze.  With one innocent little smile, she hijacked his train of thought and turned him into a stuttering pile of goo.

“How quaint,” Captain Uwei derided.  “It matters not.  Your name is of no consequence to me.”


Uwei placed his arm on the young girl’s back and guided her to a waiting steamobile as Lieutenant Bloc stuffed the bartender’s body into the trunk.  Even as the captain closed the door, the young woman and Noal kept their gazes locked through the window.  Uwei himself was about to step into the passenger seat when he turned back to Ella again.

                “Oh and miss?  Despite my subordinate’s ineptitude, he was right about one thing.  The tattoo on your companion’s arm is all too misleading.”

He shut the door shut and the steamobile rolled away.  The sound of the engine jump-started Noal from his daze.  He leapt to pursue but Ella tackled him to the ground.

“Let me go!  I can’t let him get away again!”


                “Noal, they’re military!  Just let it go!  They’re gone okay?  Give it up!”

She and Noal struggled a mite longer until panicked shouts erupted behind them.  They turned to watch Pellegri and his not-so-merry men scatter seconds before Graceys creaked, moaned, and gave up, imploding in a spectacular cloud of dust.  Noal used the momentary distraction to break free of Ella’s grasp and pursue the already out-of-range car.  As Ella watched him run off, she was struck by a disturbing realization. 


Noal had hidden his arm behind his cloak the entire time.  So, how did that captain know about his tattoo? 


* * *


“You had no right!” Noal shouted. 


“What, you mean no right to save you from getting arrested and going to prison!?” Ella retorted, stirring the pot of glop on the old fire stove ever more vigorously.  The lamps in their dank motel room flickered as the decibels increased.


            “I could’ve handled it!”

            “Oh, right, just like you handled things at the bar?” 


“I had him!  Six years Ella!  Six years and I had him!  I was literally holding him in my hands!” Noal paced furiously.  “And now he’s gone, holed up with some soldiers!”


Ella threw the spoon down into the bubbling stew.  Some soldiers?  Noal, those weren’t your everyday foot soldiers!  They were ranked Luppitan officers!”


“So!?”


“So?  So!?”  She smacked him.  “You do remember the Luppitans don’t you?  I mean, they’re only the biggest, most powerful nation on the planet!  So what if you’re at the top of their most wanted list, right!?”


“I could’ve handled it,” Noal mumbled.


Ella raised her arms in frustration.  “Even assuming you’d escaped with prince smells-a lot’s unconscious body - not that you could have - where exactly were you planning to go?  That captain would’ve had the town crawling with Luppitan troops before you even made it to the outer wall.  If anything, you’re just lucky those men in the bar weren’t Luppitan fortune tellers.  If even one of them got a good look at exactly what makes The Power tick, they would’ve locked you up in a lab for the rest of your life!”


“Oh right, because I’m such a freak, is that it!?” he shouted.


Ella buried her head in her hands.  “Fate’s Loom Noal, you know that’s not what I meant.  I was talking about the way it changes Fate!”


“What are you talking about?  Fate changes all the time!”


“Yeah, but not the way it does around you.  Fate doesn’t just change on its own.  Come on Noal, you know that.  It’s Motus Totalus, the law of Conserved Momentum!  Don’t you ever listen to me when I’m explaining this stuff to you!?”  Noal turned his back to her.  “No?  Okay, let me spell it out for you then.  The way you can manipulate Fate, the things you can do, no one can do them Noal.  No one is supposed to be able to do them.  According to Motus Totalus, they’re impossible!  Don’t you get it?  Your very existence practically disproves all scientific progress made in Fate mechanics in the last century!”


Noal’s tone suddenly turned gravely somber.  “You keep talking like I’m the one that’s doing all this!  It’s not me.  It’s this… this thing!  I never asked for any of this.”


Ella rubbed the bridge of her nose.  “I know, Noal, I know.  I’m sorry, it was a bad choice of words.  But the fact is that the things that happen around you aren’t supposed to be possible.  They’re unpredictable and destructive, which is why we’ve got to step twice as fast to avoid those Luppitan soldiers.  You know me, I’m all for marketing ourselves, but the last thing we need is undue attention from the likes of them.”  Noal nodded somberly and she went back to stirring the soup.  With all their yelling it was a wonder that every other room in the motel didn’t know who they were by now.  “I swear, whenever you think you’ve finally found him, all your common sense goes right out the window.”  She’d meant that as a nonchalant quip, but in retrospect it was exactly the wrong thing to say.


“Whenever I think I’ve found him?  He had the tattoo!  He knew about Azraelia!  I wasn’t born the Human Hurricane, Ella.  This is a disease, and he was the one that gave it to me.  And I swear I’ll make him take it all back, or at least wish he did!  The golden thread led us here for a reason, and he’s got to be it!”


“He had a tattoo, Noal!  And it’s not like this is the first time you’ve supposedly found the guy.  I just thought after all the disappointment up until now you’d at least show a little more skepticism.”


“Oh, so now this has all been a disappointment!?”


“Look, all I’m saying is that you’ve been following this golden thread for five years, but have you ever once actually encountered this mysterious man you keep talking about?  I mean, even if he was there the night that - well you know what happened, how do you know he has anything to do with it?  I mean, it’s been so long, how do you know that he’s not already�"?”  Ella trailed off, realizing the folly of ending that sentence.


“That he’s not already what Ella?  Already dead?  Is that what you were going to say?  Well thank you for that revelation!  So I guess the last five years of my life have been a complete waste of time!?  I wish you’d told me sooner, then at least I could’ve saved myself the last two years of traveling with you.  I guess there’s nothing left for me now other than wander aimlessly from town to town, losing bets and living like a nomad!  You’d know a lot about that now wouldn’t you!?” 

Without even giving her a chance to retort, Noal stood up and stormed away from the table towards the bedrooms. 


“I’m getting tired of this Ella �" the city-hopping, the bounty hunters, the disasters, all of it.  You saw how that girl looked at me in the bar today.  A normal sixteen-year-old should be sitting in classes and hanging out with friends, not collapsing buildings and running from the military.”


Ella heaved an exasperated sigh.  “So that’s it then?  You just want to be like those kids in the pub?  Noal they don’t have even one ounce of the gift that you do.  You’re special.  They’re boring.”


Noal sighed.  “I guess I can’t ever expect you to understand then, can I?  After all, you’ve spent all this time running away from your old life, while I’ve spent all of it trying to return to mine.  Maybe this whole partnership was just doomed from the beginning.”


With that, he slammed the bedroom door shut, leaving the room dead silent save for the bubbling of boiling soup. 


Well, now she’d gone and done it.  Ella couldn’t figure out if she wanted to apologize or strangle him, so instead she moved the pot to an unused burner and plopped herself down at the table.  Unhooking her waist pouch she dumped her tarot cards across the cracked wooden table and fingered through them.  The Magician - transformation through will, The Hierophant - keeper of secrets, Temperance - reconstruction and harmonization; all these cards had a meaning in the grand scheme of life.  At the center of the pile was the Wheel of Fortune, the invisible force, the guiding hand - Fate.


Every event, from the morning dew dropping off a leaf to a tornado on the plains, was the work of Fate threads stretching and tightening, pulling subjects together or apart.  These invisible threads bound the world together.  Every seemingly chance happening or coincidence was actually pre-planned by this force.  On inanimate objects, the force was absolute.  The future of an object was fully and unquestionably tied to its Fate.  On living creatures, Fate manifested itself more as a mental suggestion, something one might call gut-instinct or intuition.  For animals of lesser thought processes, these suggestions were as good as law, as these creatures lacked the mental capacity to act against instinct. 


Not so for humans.


While ninety percent of the human population didn’t know exactly how or when they were doing it, their ability to make simple everyday decisions and act against intuition ruined what would otherwise be a perfect system.  Every decision against Fate’s script caused changes in future events which, in turn, caused threads to rearrange themselves.  Those threads triggered changes in other threads and those in others still until, dozens or hundreds of shifts later, Fate realigned to a new script. 


Scientists wrapped this phenomenon up with a neat little name: Motus Totalus, the Law of Conserved Momentum.  Motus Totalus stated that the momentum of Fate’s progress would persist unless changed by an active decision against it.  Understanding this law ushered in a new age of understanding and enlightenment.  Motus Totalus was considered absolute and unquestionable.


The thought of that cracked a wide grin on Ella’s face. 


If only they knew Noal the way she did.  If only they’d seen his power at work.  Human Hurricane?  Great Destroyer?  If only they knew how right they were.


Ella frowned.  Now that she thought about it, in the two year’s since she’d met Noal, she’d seen Fate do some crazy things around him, but even she had to admit they had a tendency to skew towards the more sinister.  Two years, when she thought about it like that it made her wonder where the time had gone.  To think that he’d lived with this ability for four years before that, with his nearly non-existent understanding of Fate �" maybe he had every right to be angry with her.  If there was a chance he could be free of it, did she really have any right to deny him that?  But the very idea of this tattooed man still made her wary; was the one who did this to him really just a man?  Was this kind of ability really within the grasp of a mere human?  But on the other hand, what if it was true?  She would most certainly like to meet such an advanced fortune teller.  After all, if she could hone a technique like that…


Ella spooned some stew out of the pot and put it in her mouth, but immediately spat it back out.  Well, if they were caught and sent to prison, at least she’d get a decent meal.  Throwing the spoon back into the slop, she got up, walked over to the bedroom door, and knocked.


“Noal?”  She opened it, bathing the bedroom in soft light.  “I thought maybe we could compromise and…”


The cloth drapes rippled in the wind and a string of sheets tied to the bed frame fluttered in the open window.


Noal was gone.

Threads of Fate



© 2011 TOF_Matt


Author's Note

TOF_Matt
Again, playing off chapter 2, I've added more of Noal's sense of longing to belong to normal society and also hint that Ella once had that life but has thrown it away. What do you think? Does it work?

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Okay, finally getting to this! Sorry it's taking me so long - life decided to intervene, and I swear, I'm not blowing you off on purpose. =(


"Ella kicked forward, yanking the Fate thread she's hooked earlier with her foot." It should be she, not she's (but I'm pretty sure that's a typo).

I'm not sure if I skipped over something from last chapter, of it's because I read the last chapter a while ago, but I'm a little fuzzy on the geography of the bar. I don't know the layout, and that makes the runaway confusing. Again, this might be my fault; I haven't reread everything, but I wanted to bring it to your attention on the off chance that it's not me.

"…And as it is I who is currently above you…" I know this is grammatically correct, but it sounds awkward. I think a simple "Since I am currently above you" would work much better. I see what you're aiming for - Uwei's perfect, haughty way of speech, but that just sounds cumbersome. And is it pronounced oo-way or You-way?

Personally, I approve of using ?! as legitimate punctuation, but I know a lot of other people think otherwise. I don't often see it in published manuscripts, but I'm not saying you need to delete each instance of it. I just wanted to, again, bring it to your attention.

You did a great job explaining Fate without infodumping it all over your readers, so thanks for that.

I enjoyed the slowed down part, surprisingly. I always find them the hardest to write, despite the fact that they include so much raw information, but you did a very good job. I don't have many complaints with this chapter, and I might've said this before, but I really love the idea of fate threads - I think it's a beautiful description of commanding force behind why and how things happen.

Again, sorry it took so long to review this and chapter 4, but I want to do that before I look at Chapter 5, so no, I'm not ignoring you, I swear =D

Keep it up!

-Lou



This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

It works great. Love where this is going. Good work got lost with fate

Posted 8 Years Ago


Okay, finally getting to this! Sorry it's taking me so long - life decided to intervene, and I swear, I'm not blowing you off on purpose. =(


"Ella kicked forward, yanking the Fate thread she's hooked earlier with her foot." It should be she, not she's (but I'm pretty sure that's a typo).

I'm not sure if I skipped over something from last chapter, of it's because I read the last chapter a while ago, but I'm a little fuzzy on the geography of the bar. I don't know the layout, and that makes the runaway confusing. Again, this might be my fault; I haven't reread everything, but I wanted to bring it to your attention on the off chance that it's not me.

"…And as it is I who is currently above you…" I know this is grammatically correct, but it sounds awkward. I think a simple "Since I am currently above you" would work much better. I see what you're aiming for - Uwei's perfect, haughty way of speech, but that just sounds cumbersome. And is it pronounced oo-way or You-way?

Personally, I approve of using ?! as legitimate punctuation, but I know a lot of other people think otherwise. I don't often see it in published manuscripts, but I'm not saying you need to delete each instance of it. I just wanted to, again, bring it to your attention.

You did a great job explaining Fate without infodumping it all over your readers, so thanks for that.

I enjoyed the slowed down part, surprisingly. I always find them the hardest to write, despite the fact that they include so much raw information, but you did a very good job. I don't have many complaints with this chapter, and I might've said this before, but I really love the idea of fate threads - I think it's a beautiful description of commanding force behind why and how things happen.

Again, sorry it took so long to review this and chapter 4, but I want to do that before I look at Chapter 5, so no, I'm not ignoring you, I swear =D

Keep it up!

-Lou



This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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I loved the end of this chapter, with the idea of people 'ruining an otherwise perfect system.' I don't really have much to say on this section, the explanations are shorter and more elegant in this chapter and I thought the dialogue was nice.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 8 Years Ago


I had to stop right in the middle of this chapter because my computer went weird on me but as soon as it behaved I was right back at reading this wonderful story. In this chapter you could use a bit more description but then again maybe it is better without it. I cannot make up my mind. ^^* Regardless it was a good read and I enjoyed it.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 8 Years Ago


you could use a bit more dicription after dialoge in the beginning other then that though this is well done.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 8 Years Ago



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Added on June 28, 2011
Last Updated on July 30, 2011
Tags: Threads of Fate, tof, Fate, fantasy, steampunk, anime, manga
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TOF_Matt
TOF_Matt

Canada



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Matthew Chan grew up in the harsh Tundra of Ontario, Canada, braving freezing temperatures, taming wandering polar bears, and helping the local populace battle the occasional giant ice spider - in ot.. more..

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