Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chapter Nineteen - Encounter

 In the swamps of southern Louisiana stood the small community of Twinbrook, home to the most eccentric inventors and illustrious designers in the entire United States. 

This was also home to the most sinister of villains, scoundrels, and monsters from across the entire world.
 Situated on the upper hillside of the town, a small cottage stood, withstanding the elements. Inside was a simple homely atmosphere, with couches, kitchens, beds, the works. Hanging on the wall were a variety of small artifacts collected from across the planet, such as in the Sahara of Egypt and Champs Les Belle of France. 

As the thief who had stolen the potion from the Hidden Springs science lab was investigating this house, as he was told to go inside, one of these particular artifacts struck him as being rather odd. He recognized the symbol as the Eye of Horus, from Egyptian Mythology.

 The thief pressed the button on the center of the Eye and he was suddenly pulled into a bright light. When the light dissipated, he took a few moments to collect himself, and he realized he was no longer in the calm, serene home but had been taken to a dark, dingy, and desolate place. An ominous red light shone across the room as the thief tried to make out the people on the other end of a table. 

"Thank you for coming." The man at the end of the table said, not looking up from his computer. "I see you finally brought me what I had asked for three months ago. My buyer will not be happy because of this delay."

 "Well you can tell your buyer that he can be happy now. I finally got your potion for you, my Benefactor." The thief said.

"Ah yes, that title. 'Benefactor'. I don't really like being referred to by that name. I am one of many around the world. In fact, I'm working for one that is above me. I'm not really what you would call a 'Benefactor'."

 "You aren't? Then what are you?" The thief asked. 

"Call me... a doctor."

"Dr..." the thief squinted his eyes and looked closer, recognizing the person across the table from him. "Wait a second... you look familiar... aren't you-"

 "Dr. Xan Vu? Yes. I know you're surprised, a lot of people are when they hear my name whispered in the wings."

"But I thought you died, years ago! You burned to death in a fire, in Sunset Valley!!"

"No, that was merely what I wanted the police to think. You see, the original Benefactor, Jack Toomes, made a deal with me. He would continue funding my research, if I was the fall-guy for him."

"Oh really?" The thief asked. "And how did you manage to fake burning alive?"

"Well, Jack needed someone to take the blame for the meteor strikes, and we concocted a plan for me to escape. I used a special spray that made me fire-proof, and when the police ran out of the house to escape the explosion, I hid under a floor board. Unfortunately, the spray was a mere prototype, and parts of it wore off seconds after the fire touched it."

"Heh, looks like you got burned on that deal, huh Vu?" Tobias Corvan said. 

"Yes." Vu said. "But listen... I applaud your work in Shangri-La, Corvan. BUT, if you make one more joke about my scar I will have Miss Dawn here crush your insides."

 "I'll do it, too." Aurora Dawn, an associate of Dr. Vu's, said. "It would be fun, oh so much fun."

Suddenly, a hovering object located behind Vu started beeping.


"What?" Dr. Vu asked. "A placement beacon? Are you sending a signal to some allies of yours, thief?" 

 "No, I'm not! I don't know what that... thing is talking about!"

"That 'thing' as you put it is an artificially intelligent robotic device. He is named Vazir. I respect him more than you."

Vazir suddenly came back to life, beeping rapidly. He began calculating things at blazing speeds, following the signal from the thief to it's source.





"I am NOT a police officer! That robot or whatever the hell that is, it's lying!" As the thief pleaded his case, he did not notice that Aurora had stood up and walked over to him.


"Well then." Aurora said. "If the robot which we trust more than this thief is telling us that this thief is not a thief at all, who are we to disagree with it?" Suddenly, Aurora lifted her arms, causing the thief to lift off the ground.

"And by the way, I like doing this. I love magic, just as much as I love killing two-bit double-crossers." 

Aurora continued to lift the thief as he begged for forgiveness, telling the group that he was not a cop. Unfortunately, Aurora was not in the best mindset it seemed, as she continued to lift him off the ground, suspending him in thin-air. 

Eventually, she got tired of using her magic on him and let him drop to the ground, smiling as she did so.
"Is that honestly supposed to kill me? Lifting me off the ground for a few moments? I honestly thought you were going to set me on fire or something, witch." The thief goaded. He thought that perhaps she had come to her senses, and let him live.

"Something like that... and by the way..."

Suddenly the ground gave away below the thief's feet, revealing a group of small outlets. Before he could run, the outlets charged, sending thousands of volts rushing through his body. He looked through his quickly-melting mask and saw Aurora give him an evil smirk, almost smiling. 

She was enjoying this.

 "Don't call me a witch."

The thief's last bit of life left him as he slumped to the floor. Dr. Vu was distressed. He was hoping to get information from the thief or cop, whatever he was, before he either killed him or sent him on his way randomly through the teleporter. 

Aurora, however, changed that plan.

"Ugh." Dr. Vu said. "Guards, get his body off the floor. Get him out of here. Dammit Aurora I told you, don't kill people unless I tell you to. We won't get anywhere if you keep killing everyone that comes through that teleporter."

"Sorry. Finger slipped. My bad. Whatever."

"Grr... okay. Whatever you say. Look, we are on the verge on the discovery of a lifetime. The artifact Tobias had recovered from the dealer in China is a small part of the puzzle. We need to collect the rest of the objects: one is in Hidden Springs, and the other is in a location that I have yet to discover. One of you, get ready to go to Hidden Springs."

Tobias was relieved when Vu said "one of you." He didn't want to say it out loud, but he had no intention of traveling with Aurora, anywhere.



 "It has been TWO WEEKS since MY potion prototype was stolen, and you STILL don't have any leads?!"

John was on the phone with the people who work with him at the Science Lab, and they all still had trouble figuring out what was behind the theft of the Young-Again potion John was working on. Luckily, he still had the formula for the potion but it wasn't the same for him.

"Okay, just keep me informed. Bye."

 "I need a drink." John said while hanging up the phone.

After a short walk, John found himself outside the Alpine Hill Bar, a small dive joint located near his house. Tonight, Annabelle was the bartender, taking over for a friend who had a family emergency. John turned around and saw Tom and Scarlett at the bar too, playing a game of pool.

"You come here often? You look like a regular." John heard a voice to his side and looked to his right to see a man in a business suit looking over to him.

"Yeah, this isn't far from my house, and I know people who visit here on a regular basis. You new in town?"

"I'm only staying for a couple days. Downtown has become too over-stuffed with tourists because of the concert, so I needed a small place to relax and unwind before my trip back to Appaloosa Plains tomorrow."

  "Well this is a nice place, as long as you don't bring trouble here. Name's John."


  "Hey John!" Annabelle said, emerging from behind the bar. "I thought I heard you come in."

"Yeah, I'm having a bad day. After two weeks they STILL have not found out who stole my Young Again potion. It was there then... poof."

"How could something vanish like that?"

"I don't know, John. It's odd."

 "Well, luckily I do have the formula, and there are other versions... it's just depressing because that's the first prototype I made. Me. I know there are others, better versions that last longer, but... that was MINE. Why would someone steal what was MINE?!"

"Maybe... they thought your prototype was the only potion?" Annabelle said.

"That's true...." John replied. He realized that the one that was stolen, his prototype, was the only one lifted because the others weren't as "easily accessible", meaning they were classified and locked up. He thought over this for a few moments, then got up to talk to Scarlett back near the entrance.

"Hey Red. Are you doing alright?"

"Yeah, I'm just waiting for Tom to FINALLY make a move!" Scarlett said, putting very extra emphasis on "finally".

 "Yeah speaking of moves, this guy's putting some on Annabelle, isn't he? I don't like him." Tom said, watching the one-sided conversation between Annabelle and the guy at the bar. "He's too... neh."

 "He's been like that all damn night. Tom won't move from that spot because he thinks Jimmy Slick there is trying to flirt with his girlfriend."

"She is NOT my girlfriend!" Tom said, trying not to make Annabelle hear. "Besides, he IS flirting with her!"

"Well she damn well should be your girlfriend. You aren't the only one that thinks that." Scarlett replied, then she turned to John. "Though for some reason Kelly doesn't seem to think Annabelle and Tom should get together. I don't know why. So let me guess... No word on who stole your potion?"

"No, it's like.. a ghost came in and took it. I don't understand."

"Well a ghost stealing a potion wouldn't be the first odd thing to happen to us. Remember the evil unicorn Annabelle saw? John?"

 "Why is that man so familiar?" John asked himself, aloud.


"I don't know... I've seen him before. I just don't know where."

 "Wait, he's moving behind the bar. I think he's going to go for it... how long until Annie breaks his arm? Five seconds? Two minutes? I would have had him on the ground bleeding before he moved behind the thing."

"Grr... I am going to break his-"


  "So, lady... Annie, is that your name? How about you show me around town, personally?"

 "I'd rather jump off a cliff into shark-infested waters. At least they would be more appealing to talk to than a pompous drunk moron. But hey, you're not the first snobby piece of s- well, person to proposition me."

Suddenly the man dropped the glass he was holding and threw his hand up in front of Annabelle's face, bringing his pointed finger within a foot of her face. Annabelle could DEFINITELY tell he was drunk.

 "You will not insult me, girl. I am ROBERT MATHEWS! I am the richest, most powerful horse-rancher in Appaloosa Plains! I will not take any threat against me lightly!"

 "I don't CARE if you're the richest person in Appaloosa Plains, this is NOT Appaloosa Plains! And if you put your finger in my face again, you won't have a finger in that socket anymore!" Annabelle angrily yelled out. "GO AWAY. NOW!!"

 "Robert Mathews?" John asked. He was about to leave the bar, but the argument between Annabelle and Robert coerced him into staying. "The same Robert Mathews who rose to fame in 2000 by winning a horse race with his stallion? That Robert Mathews?!"

 "The same. What of it, boy?"

"You are the same Robert Mathews who met a girl, fresh out of college, got her pregnant, and left her when you became rich, am I correct?"

"Why do you ask?"

"John, who is this?" Annabelle asked. "Who is he?"

 "He is my... I don't even want to call him this... 'father'."


"Don't lie, Boy." Robert said. "Only lie if it makes you more rich. That's my motto."

 "WELL YOU'VE DONE PLENTY OF THAT!" John said, running back behind the bar to confront the man he called his "father". "You lied to Maria Kethrin! You made her think you loved her, and when you got fame, you left her, pregnant, alone! You are a monster! You're worse than a monster! You're just... EVIL!"

 "I should punch you, right now. I should kick your head in, repeatedly, for what you did to Maria Kethrin. But I am not you. I am not you, and my mother wouldn't approve."

 "And that bartender, the one you put the moves on. She's my sister. But not from you, no, not from you and I am thankful for it. I am thankful that she she doesn't have to have the knowledge I have, that I was the son of a purely pathetic pompous jackass!"

 "I REALLY want to punch you... but hey.... my mom gave me express permission to do something. In fact, she asked me to do this in case I ever saw you."

 Suddenly, John grabbed Robert and, using all of his strength, physically threw him over the bar. Robert tried to grab hold of the wooden surface but was unable to, flinging wildly over the stand.

Robert stood up limped to the door. "I'm suing this bar and I will put everyone in this place in JAIL! You made a mistake injuring me. I don't care if you're my son!"


  "No." Annabelle said, interrupting their argument. "You sue, Robert, because you can't. You have absolutely no proof of what happened here. This bar, it doesn't have cameras." She said.

 "My injuries will be proof enough!" Robert said, angrily.

 "Oh, you mean the injures you sustained when you got drunk and fell? That's what I saw."

 "Me too." John said. "Everyone in this bar will agree with me and my sister here."

 "Yeah." Tom said. "I didn't see anything. I just walked in. Did you see anything?"

"Nope." Scarlett said. "I didn't see anyone injure you. You fell and injured yourself."

 "Then I lose. I guess I'm done. Take care, and... whatever."

"Yeah. You take care too... now get the hell out." Annabelle replied. Robert then collected what little dignity he had left and walked out of the bar, leaving everyone behind.

John never saw him again.

 "That... just happened, didn't it? I lost it... I never lose it. I'm not hot-headed, or anything."

"Sometimes things just burst out, John." Scarlett said, walking up to him. "With people like you it happens all at once, with people like me it happens all the time."

 "I'm glad that's over with, Johnny." Scarlett said, hugging him tightly. "I didn't like seeing you like that."

 "Yeah." Annabelle added, "It was like you were a different person."

"I felt like a different person. And I know why. He was never there for me, never. I didn't even know he was still alive until he said his name, I just never looked him up because I was afraid of... THAT, that whole thing that just happened. This made me think something over. I don't want to be him."

 "What are you talking about? You're NOT him."

 "I mean... I don't want to make any of our possible future children go through my life. I never had a father to look up to, with the exception of your uncle Elliot. He and Mei raised you with all the great intent, you are the best person in my life, and that life is something I want to continue to share with you."

"What are you-"

"Hold on a moment, I need to ask you something but I need to... um... tie my shoes first. Okay?"

 "John, what are you doing? Why are you-"


"Oh my... oh... wha... what? John? What? John? John!?"

 "Red, will you marry me?"

 "OH MY GOD!!!!"

"I uh... kinda need an answer there." John said, awkwardly. He had wanted to propose to Scarlett in a more romantic environment, and under more romantic circumstances, but this was a perfect time to do so after all he had been through.

 "Yes. Of course, John. I would give anything to be Mrs. Scarlett Kethrin!"

  "I am going to plan a wedding right now!" Annabelle yelled out, temporarily forgetting the regrettable events of the night aside from the romantic engagement right before her eyes.


 "We should be together forever and ever and ever." Scarlett said as they hugged each other.