Chapter 5 - Making it up on the spot!  How to improvise an escape.

Chapter 5 - Making it up on the spot! How to improvise an escape.

A Chapter by TOF_Matt
"

With the alarms blaring, the Luppitans in hot pursuit, and a princess in tow, suddenly every corner of the villa turns deadly for Noal. It's a race to escape! But why is it that Priscilla is so adam

"

Threads of Fate


Chapter 5

Making it up on the spot!  How to improvise an escape.


Noal burst through the prison door but, besides the still-unconscious guard, found himself alone on the other side.  The princess was gone, no doubt scared off by the high-pitched alarm that was even now drilling deep into his brain.  Unfortunately, there was no time to search for her.  After briefly leaping and flailing for the out-of-reach duct he’d come in, Noal continued down the corridor to a spiraling staircase on the other side.  He moved up quickly but cautiously, then stopped dead at the sight of a soldier’s shadow, rifle in hand.  How many were up there now, waiting in ambush; one or a hundred?  Either way, there was no escape behind him and surprise was his only advantage.  With any luck, maybe he’d frighten them into confusion; those professionally-trained, war-hardened, heavily-armed soldiers.  If The Power ever wanted to make itself useful, now would be a great time.


Noal squeezed his eyes shut and burst out of the entranceway with the most ferocious roar he could muster.  However, when he reached the top there were no hurried shouts or cracks of gunfire.  He forced his eyes open just a crack and his roar shrunk to a mere squeak.  Before him he found not professionally-trained, war-hardened, heavily-armed soldiers waiting in ambush, but professionally-trained, war-hardened, heavily-armed soldiers lying in a heap with a vigilant Priscilla de Mak standing over them, holding a rifle like a club.


                “Oh dear, the elders are going to have a fit,” the princess muttered to herself. 


                “How did you "?” a dumbfounded Noal uttered.  She looked at him blankly.  There were at least a dozen things wrong with this scene, but since that seemed to be the norm in the last twenty-four hours he decided to just toss it in with the rest.  “Never mind.”


It wouldn’t be long before the corridors were swarming with guards, assuming of course that Priscilla hadn’t already knocked them all out.  He needed to find an exit and fast.


                “I take it your audience did not go well?” she asked, trotting behind him.


          Noal looked back over his shoulder, disturbed at the accuracy of her assessment.  “W-What would make you say that?”


                She looked at him with a pitiful frown and pointed.  “You’ve been crying.”


Noal whiplashed his face away from her and felt around his eyes - his face was tender and swelled.  He was now suddenly aware that his hands were still shaking and his heart was still pumping furiously.  It seemed the session with the bartender had affected him more than he even realized. 


                “It’s… It’s been a bad night,” he said, intentionally vague and wishing for a distraction.  His wish was filled when they rounded a corner right into plain sight of a group of soldiers.  “…And it’s getting worse!”


Noal grabbed the princess’ arm and dove back just as the soldiers unleashed a hail of gunfire that tore apart the adjacent wall.  Splinters of wood and wallpaper rained down on them as they scrambled to their feet and took off in the opposite direction. 


                “This way!”


The ear-splitting rattle of gunfire eventually gave way to hurried heavy footsteps of soldiers in pursuit.  Noal pulled Priscilla around one random corner after another.  The identical hallways that had merely been a nuisance before were now a deadly labyrinth where any misstep could hide a dead end, or worse, a Luppitan patrol.  The pair stopped when they reached a stairwell, the sound of heavy boots having dissipated behind them.  Safe or not, Noal needed a moment to catch his breath.


                “I think… I think we lost them…”


Noal struggled with every word.  His lungs burned and his vision was spattered with bright spots.  Priscilla squatted down and looked at him in that same quizzical glance he’d come to expect from her.


                “Are you alright?”


He stared at her in disbelief.  She was completely unflustered, without so much as a bead of sweat on her perfect forehead or a single out-of-place breath.  Wasn’t he the rugged traveler and she the dainty princess? 


                “I’m… fine,” he humored her between pants.  “Aren’t you…tired?”


                She smiled.  “In Lapetus, I was the star player on our Cero team.”


Unbelievable.


“Princess, I think you should return to your room.”


“What?  Why!?”  Her face contorted in a way Noal had yet to see; the first genuinely serious look she’d had all night.


                “This is a little different than a game of Cero.  It’s too dangerous.  I’d feel better if you were somewhere a little safer.”


                “Oh that.  You really needen’t be concerned with my safety.”

She was stubborn, like a child latching onto a parent.


                “Look, you don’t know.  People call me the Human Hurricane for a reason you know.  If things get out of hand, I could very well bring down this entire city".”


                “There he is!”


A young guard popped around the corner and immediately set the hallway ablaze with gunfire.  Without a thought, Noal grabbed the princess, pulling her to the floor and crouching over her protectively.  The weapon roared like a jackhammer as banisters and vases exploded around them, bathing them in a shower of debris.  Noal squeezed his eyes shut, ready for the intense pain when one of those killer bees found its mark.  Sure enough the pain came, but not from where he expected.  His eardrums cracked as a high-pitched shrill filled the air " but it wasn’t his.  His blood froze as Priscilla suddenly tore herself away from his grasp.  Had she been hit!?  No.  With a banshee’s cry she did the unthinkable and grabbed a round banister decoration from the ground, leapt up, and chucked it as hard as she could.  It clunked the young soldier square in his forehead.  His weapon immediately fell silent as he fell to the floor, knocked out cold.  Noal could only stare in disbelief, his voice cracking as he tried to squeeze words out of his mouth. 


                “I played pitcher,” Priscilla remarked, offering a helping hand.


She yanked him off the floor and they were off again, but this time she was leading him.  Noal stumbled over his feet, pleading with her to slow down, but she was intensely focused and single-minded.  As they ran down the hall, Noal caught a last glimpse at the shredded surroundings where they’d once sat, prompting him to feel around his body.  He didn’t have so much as a graze.  How in Fate’s name had they survived that?

 


The patrol they’d outwitted was hardly their last.  In fact, as the pair raced through the halls they picked up a sizable entourage.  Byy the time they burst through the heavy double doors of the main hall, there was a veritable stampede of soldiers closing in.  Noal only just managed to slam the doors shut and lock them in time for the mob to barrel into it. 


They found themselves in a lavish atrium, at least two stories high - easily the size of the entire casino from earlier that day.  The vine-like carvings that snaked around the walls mimicked those he’d seen on the doors of Priscilla’s room, before they opened up into a huge glass atrium.  Here the deep black of the night sky fused with the ghostly golden hue of the two massive chandeliers hanging inside, creating an ethereal plane where night and day seemed to exist simultaneously. 


Another bang against the door hurried Noal from his admiration.  The patter of their footsteps echoed loudly as they rushed down the front stairs.  Freedom was just beyond those massive glass windows.  For the first time since he’d gotten into this mess, Noal actually found himself believing he was home-free.  Of course, he should have known better. 


No sooner did their feet meet the tiled floor, when massive flood lights erupted behind the glass, blinding them.  The two stopped at the base of the stairs, and through his squinted eyes Noal watched more than a dozen silhouettes burst into the room in double file.  They streamed along the perimeter, and took up flanking positions around them.  Noal turned and tugged Cil back to the steps, but the double door at the top cracked and broke, allowing a second flood of reinforcements to stream in above them.  Was every soldier in Luppita here or something?


                “Stop right there!  Don’t move,” one of the soldiers shouted.


They were completely surrounded.  One by one, rifles cocked and loaded; he could practically feel each part of his body being targeted. 


Noal had to feel some pride; after all, it was nothing short of a miracle he’d made it even this far.  If there was any consolation to this, at least now he would have a chance to hand over the princess willingly and end this with a clear conscience.  Slowly, so the soldiers would know he wasn’t about to pull anything funny, Noal raised his arms in surrender.  Of course, things were never that easy for him.  Not even defeat.


Noal felt a tug on his left arm and suddenly it was down around the princess’ neck, prompting all thirty-something soldiers to tighten their grips on their rifles.  Without hesitation she pulled back his cloak, displaying the Providence Eye for all to see.  The army gasped in harmony as they looked back at each other with unsure and shocked faces, though none quite as shocked as Noal’s.  He wrestled to free himself, but the princess wouldn’t budge, keeping his arm tightly wrapped around her slender neck, prolonging the stalemate.


                “What are you doing?” he whispered under his breath.


“Trying to get you out of here!  Don’t tell me you’ve already given up!” she hissed.


“Princess, we’re surrounded!  It’s over.”


“Stop calling me princess.  Call me Priscilla, or better yet, just call me Cil.  And it is not over.  Come now, you’re the Great Destroyer, the Human Hurricane.  What is this compared to all the other things you’ve done?”


                “Princes… Cil, why is this so important to you?” Noal asked.  “How can you possibly be a fan of the things I’ve done!?  I’m a menace!”


Cil turned to him with a pair of the most deadly serious eyes he’d ever seen, particularly jarring coming from her.


                “Did you mean to do all those things?”


                “I… what?”


                “The boat, the bounty hunters, the marketplace, did you mean to do them?” she asked, nay, demanded again.


                Noal scanned her face, but every ounce of her earlier whimsicalness was erased, replaced with an almost dire seriousness.  “No.  No I didn’t mean to do any of it.  That kind of stuff just… happens… to me.”


                “We are, all of us, prisoners of circumstance.  I do not believe in you because of the things you’ve done, Noal Kai " I believe in you because of the things you do in spite of them.  A great man once told me to define people by how they handle circumstance.  Millions of platinum in damage, yet not a single life taken " that is why you must escape.  Because if you can live your life with the hand Fate has given you, then there is hope still for the rest of us.  Unless you are saying I am wrong.” 


Noal looked into those great round eyes and nearly lost himself in the endless abyss again.  He could already feel the weight of this new legacy upon his shoulders, but for the first time he felt not the chains of stigma holding him back, but an energy of hope spurring him forward.  That was when, past the unsure murmuring guards, Noal spotted the small door underneath the staircase - perhaps to a cellar?  Even if it led them back into the house, there might just be another way out down there.  Now if he could just get to it.


                “Stay close to me,” Noal whispered, hugging Cil closer to his body.


                “What’re you going to…?”


He’d already pulled this trick once today, so why not give it another go?  Noal focused on the chandelier above the soldiers in front of them.  The Power was temperamental, but today it seemed to be pretty active.  If he could just clear his mind and focus on the chandelier, maybe, just maybe, there was a chance he could put a leash on it just this one time.  Cil’s words echoed in his mind.  “If you can live with the hand Fate has given you, then there is hope still for the rest of us.”  If there was any chance he could ever be something more than a walking disaster, a Human Hurricane, it needed to start right now!


The image of a chandelier materialized in his mind, white shining threads wrapping around it, a few at first and then more and more.  He tugged them in his mind’s eye and the chandelier swayed from side to side.  That was it!  He opened his eyes and smiled slyly.


                “Gotcha!” he yelled triumphantly.


Noal grabbed his brace, ripped the lower portion off and held his arm up for all to see.  The expressions on the soldiers’ faces turned to dread as they stared into the Providence Eye, and recoiled in horror as its coils sprang to life and snaked around Noal’s forearm like some sort of rotting disease.  Some of them had to trun away while others broke into full retreat.  Yet for the first time ever, all Noal could do was smile…


*Snap*


…as the chandelier fell…


*Crash!*


…and with it their hope.


He should’ve expected it really.  The Power had never cooperated with him before, why would he expect it to now?  While the soldiers in front of them remained unscathed, Noal and Cil simultaneously turned slowly to find the impassable wreckage of the wrong chandelier, blocking their path to the cellar door. 


“Son of a…”


                “I am somewhat confused.  What benefit does this afford us?” Cil asked.


                “It’s… It’s not my fault!”


Suddenly the sound of another crash sent the soldiers leaping back reactively.  However, the second chandelier remained firmly suspended.  A distant droning filled the atrium, quiet at first but growing steadily louder, soon followed by another crash.  The outside flood lights flicked black, plunging the foyer back into dim candlelight.  Tinny shouts of panic and random pops of gunfire echoed ominously from beyond the glass walls.


                “Perhaps we should move aside,” Cil whispered to him, tugging on his arm as the droning intensified.


“Yeah… I think you’re right.”


The two of them slowly retreated from the center of the hall while the soldiers were distracted.  Two tiny lights appeared in the distance, like eyes of a great beast, opening wider and wider until they filled the atrium with intense white.  The distant drone turned into a fierce growl, and then a roar that shook the entire room.  


*CRASH!*


A massive armored military truck smashed through the front door, bringing down the entire front of the atrium and sending glass flying like a hail storm.  It leapt up off the front stairs, casting its shadow over the lobby like a meteor as it hung suspended above all of them.  The soldiers underneath dove for cover while those on the upper floors opened fire on its steely hide.  The truck slammed into the ground with a shockwave that knocked men off their feet, before fishtailing around.  Its spinning wheels hurled marble tiles like ammo from a machine gun, sending men diving to the floor.  Noal and Cil leapt behind a table, narrowly avoiding decapitation. 


The truck finally lurched to a stop and settled about thirty feet away.  Noal snuck a peek just as the back ramp fell hard to the ground, and as the dust settled he recognized Ella staring straight at him in irritation!


                “Well!?  What are you waiting for!?” she yelled.


                Noal looked over at Cil, flabbergasted.  “That’s my ride.  I guess gotta go.”  She nodded sadly and Noal suddenly found himself at a loss for words.  “Thanks… for everything.  I’ll make this up to you… really I will.  If you ever need anything from me…  just… uh.”


He never finished the thought, let alone the sentence.  Cil pushed herself on him and he felt a warm softness on his lips like he’d never felt before.  She did all the work, and by the time he realized she was kissing him, it was over.  She pulled away and smiled sweetly with that same innocent smile they’d first met with.  Noal felt like he was about to float right up to the ceiling.



“Oh..kay… I’ll um… see you later.” 


For the briefest instant, Noal completely forgot where he was, but the rattling of machinegun fire snapped him back to reality.  He emerged from behind his cover almost falling over himself before breaking into a sprint for his life.  A flurry of gunfire erupted from the floor above, sending a trail of bullets nipping at his heels like a rainstorm on a hot summer day.  When he was within a few feet of the truck, he leapt into the rear hold just as the shower of bullets caught up and splashed across the open doorway.


                “GO GO GO!” Noal yelled.


The screeching of the tires nearly deafened him as the cab bucked.  Noal grabbed hold of a divot in the floor and held on for dear life as burning rubber filled his lungs.  The tires finally grabbed hold and the truck peeled away.  Noal leapt to his feet, but the hold kicked like a mule, launching him forward.  He grabbed one of the nearby hand holds but the force of the next skid sent him hurtling into one of the side-facing seats that lined each side of the compartment.  Making the best of it, he fumbled with the seatbelt but couldn’t figure out how to fasten it.  He looked up to see if any of the buckles on the opposite side were fastened, and only then did he notice the stacks of unanchored weapons.  The cab banked again sending hundreds of pounds of equipment barreling straight at him.  He rolled free at the last second and when he looked up again there were three bayonets impaled in the chair.  Taking a moment to hold down his lunch, Noal forced himself to his feet and marched straight towards the front cab.  Ella looked back from the driver’s compartment as he stumbled his way clumsily to the cockpit door.


                “Oh man, I owe you one for".”


                “Who the hell is that!?” she yelled, cutting him off.


                “Who"?”


Noal turned around and there, struggling to maintain her balance in the swaying cab, was Cil.


                “What the"!?  Cil what are you doing here!?”


She wobbled her way to him and then fell to her knees, clutching his waist.


                “Hello!” she smiled at Ella.


Noal quickly crouched down and put himself between the two girls, well aware that Ella was ready to explode behind him.


                “Cil, what are you doing here!?”


                “I’m coming with you of course,” she smiled.


                “I thought you were helping me escape!”


                “I was helping us escape.”


                “You didn’t say anything about ‘us’.  What was…”  He looked over his shoulder at Ella’s fuming mug, then turned and whispered.  “What was that kiss goodbye for then??”


                “Kiss goodbye?”  Cil pondered as if she didn’t remember it.  “Oh!  Don’t be silly.  That was a kiss for luck.”


Rolling his eyes, Noal turned back to Ella who looked ready to kill before coldly turning her attention back to the road.


                “I thought you were there to find that old man, not a girlfriend.  If I’d known you were on a date, I would’ve left the two of you alone,” she said, grudgingly.


                “It wasn’t like that!” he pleaded.  “I just ran into her!  She helped me out of a few tough spots, that’s it,” he explained, not entirely sure why he had to justify himself.


                “You know, I don’t even know why I came to save you.  I told you to be careful around those soldiers didn’t I?  I knew you’d get in trouble!”


                “Excuse me?” asked Cil from behind him.  “I don’t understand.  Was it not Noal’s power as the Human Hurricane that drove the events of our escape?” 


Noal’s jaw dropped as he braced himself for the inevitable return fire.  There was no doubt the lioness inside Ella would be awake now.


                “Excuse me!?” Ella roared.


                “Ella, the road,” Noal tried to interject.


                “Is it not the Human Hurricane’s ability to will destruction and chaos?” Cil outlined calmly.  


                Noal was sweating buckets now.  “Cil, that’s not exactly…”


“Did I not just mow through an entire front lawn full of guards, smash through the front door, and pick you and this idiot up!?” Ella fired back.


                “Indeed, that you did.”


                “Ella, I really think now’s not…” Noal pleaded.


                “So, please explain to me then, how it is that he should get all the credit!?”


                “Ella seriously this isn’t…”


                “The explanation is obvious.  Your reckless action was simply a product of Noal’s ability.  In essence, you were a tool of his power.”


Noal could’ve sworn he felt time stop as Ella sucked the air out of the cab.


                “Y-You can’t be serious!  You think he’s responsible for my actions!?  That’s it"!”


                “Tree!  Tree!” Noal shouted.


Ella quickly corkscrewed the wheel, swerving the truck onto a new road and throwing Noal against the side of the cab. 


                “Who the hell does she".  Who the hell do you think you are!?” Ella raged.


                “Now Ella, I don’t think that’s important right no-“


                “I am Princess Priscilla de Ma".” 


                 “Princess!?  You kidnapped a princess!?  Oh that’s just great Noal.  What are you collecting felonies now!?  You aren’t happy enough with the list you got going!?”


                “Kidnap her!?  I left her back in the foyer!  How was I supposed to know that she’d"?” 


He stopped in mid-sentence when something in the distance caught his eye - two silhouettes standing directly in the path of their barreling truck.  They didn’t even flinch as they grew large in the headlights.


                “What in the world…  Ella… I think we need to change roads.”


“What?” she asked, turning back around.


“We need to move, now"!“


Too late.  The air cracked with an ear-piercing explosion before the world went into a muffle.  The back of Ella’s seat punched Noal in the jaw as the entire cab lifted into the air.  Before he knew it, the interior was pirouetting around him.  He floated there, weightless, for a few brief seconds before gravity snatched him and slammed him hard into the ground again.  Noal felt the wind knocked from his lungs as he fell hard onto the roof, now the floor, while the rest of his senses were overwhelmed by the screech of grinding metal on dirt and glowing sparks biting at his face.  Finally, the cab came to a creaking halt.

 


                “Ugh.”

Color returned to Noal’s world in fuzzy spectrums.  He lifted himself up woozily and immediately felt a stabbing pain in his neck.  He moved his hands about the cabin but felt only dirt and dust.


*Cough* *Cough*


The sound of rasping drew Noal’s attention to the cab where Ella hung upside-down in the driver’s seat, wheezing as she too came around.  He slowly crawled over to her, wincing all the way as he stepped around broken glass and metal shards.


                “You alright?” he asked.


                She groaned.  “Next time, you’re driving.”


He smiled weakly.  Beyond a few superficial cuts and bruises, Ella looked fine.  He turned back to the rear hold, now a bent and misshapen mess. 


                “Where did Cil go?” he asked.


                “How about we focus on getting me down from here first,” Ella responded, annoyed.


Noal squatted under Ella as she reached for the seatbelt buckle, but kept his eye firmly on the rear hold.  What incredible force could have done this?  Were they landmines?  But this was a public road and he doubted even the Luppitan military had enough sway to convince Fortune Town to let them plant those.  When would they have even had the chance?  And what of those two silhouettes in the road?  Had they been caught in the blast?


                “Hey, look alive!”


Noal didn’t even have a chance to stabilize himself before Ella unbuckled and crashed into his arms, sending them both to the floor.  The pain swept through him " it felt like his entire body was one big bruise.


                “Nice catch,” she said sarcastically as she rolled off him.  “Let’s get out of here.”


Noal followed Ella as she crawled out of the cab through one of the shattered side windows.  She caught him scanning the interior one last time.


                “Who knows how long we were out Noal,” she told him in a not-so-reassuring tone.  “If we’re lucky, the Luppitans just took her and left us alone.”


Noal didn’t want to believe that.  Truth be told, he was actually kind of elated when he’d discovered Cil had stowed away, but as it so happened, that wasn’t something he’d have to worry about.  The moment they exited the cab, they found her standing just outside, staring off blankly into the distance. 


                “Cil!?  Are you alright?” Noal asked reflexively.


One look at her answered his question.  While Noal was bleeding in multiple places, nursing a sore neck, and fighting off a nasty concussion, he was hard pressed to find so much as a scratch on Cil’s body.  He did a double-take back at the wreckage of the compressed truck cab.  How had she emerged with nary a scratch?


                “What in Fate’s name!?”   Ella pushed Noal aside and grabbed Cil by her nightie.  “How in the".  I don’t know how you made it out of that but were you were just gonna leave us there and save yourself!?”


Cil could muster up only wide eyes and an empty pale stare. 


                “How quaint.”


A familiar voice froze both Noal and Ella in their place.  There, standing between them and the gates of freedom, was the one person Noal would’ve given anything to avoid. 


Captain Uwei Dalmasacus.


Threads of Fate



© 2011 TOF_Matt


Author's Note

TOF_Matt
The real crux of this scene is Cil's moment of genuineness. I've done my best so far to paint her as an almost disturbingly naive character (one might even say caricature) lacking traditional common sense that prompts the reader to keep their guard up a bit (think of it as though the most popular girl in school suddenly showed interest in you). Given that history, it's my hope that in her first real moment of genuineness, the reader will let their guard down for just a moment - and in that moment to realize they now fully believe in her as a real character. Please let me know if you felt that really was the case.

My Review

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For me it held a fantastic quality that is hard to decode. Perhaps the same could be said with great writers whose pen is might and skill mightier yet. ^^* That probably doesn't help you out. Well it was a good chapter, better than good, and I did let my guard down. ^^* Still though it was a pleasure to read.

Posted 8 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This was an exhilarating chase scene and yes I was charmed. Since this is my first read of your book, I am impressed by your enthusiasm. The descriptive and emotive style is very visceral and you maintain it throughout.

Cil's naivety comes through by her action and reaction. She talks about her skill at games while the protagonist worries about what is around the deadly corner. This was demonstrated clearly.

There was a consistent style and energy in this chapter. Without knowing more about the characters they are not wooden and present themselves as fictional beings in a complicated fantasy.







Posted 8 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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I love how she keeps mentioning that she plays the 'cero' game, the middle felt pretty awkward to me... but then the only "romance" of any sort that I can handle is poetry, so you might not want to listen to me. I like the end, because I was waiting for some kind of determinism to come into this somehow..

I think she is more complex than she was and you did a fair job of introducing her knack for staying safe.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

For me it held a fantastic quality that is hard to decode. Perhaps the same could be said with great writers whose pen is might and skill mightier yet. ^^* That probably doesn't help you out. Well it was a good chapter, better than good, and I did let my guard down. ^^* Still though it was a pleasure to read.

Posted 8 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on July 27, 2011
Last Updated on July 27, 2011
Tags: Threads of Fate, tof, Fate, fantasy, steampunk, anime, manga


Author

TOF_Matt
TOF_Matt

Canada



About
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..

Writing