Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chapter Thirty-Three - The Human Condition

Mirabelle was listening to Kelly when suddenly she turned around and saw a white light approach her. She didn't know what it was, but seconds later she was gone. Kelly, who wasn't looking at her and still talking, turned around and was shocked to see her missing.

Mirabelle opened her eyes and found herself in a strange white room. Standing not five feet in front of her was some kind of blue ghost wearing old-style clothing. She realized ghosts were something she hadn't seen in her life yet, and mentally checked that off. 'Oh goody, all I need to see is a plant humanoid and the Loch Ness Monster to get the full set.', she humorously thought to herself. After this Mirabelle turned to the ghost and looked him in the eyes. "Who are you? What do you want?" 

"My name is not important, Mirabelle Joanne Kethrin,. What is important is the future of the human race. If you do not bring your family to the library, if you do not let them get their items, humanity will fall to them."

"Them? The people trying to get the genie lamp?" 

The ghost shook his head. "No. Those are merely your first obstacle. What I am speaking of are your true test. THEY are the ones you need to face with all your might. If you do not, then the end of the world will occur." 

Mirabelle was confused. She figured the villains who tried to kidnap Tom and are trying to find a genie lamp to take over the planet were bad enough for this ghost, but to something else being worse... she had no idea what to comprehend. "What do I do?"

"Go. Tell the one named Johnathan Michael Kethrin, the one named Scarlett Ruby Keene, the one named Kelly Jane Coen, and the one named Keera Anne Kethrin to go with you to the library basement. Your destiny awaits."

Another flash of light enveloped Mirabelle and she found herself back in her bedroom. A quick look at the clock revealed that barely a few seconds have passed since she was pulled into the light in the first place. When the shock of the teleportation faded, she looked at her girlfriend.

"Get John, Scarlett, and Keera: We need to get to the Library!"


"So let me get this straight, you were teleported into a spectral realm where the ghost of someone told you you needed to bring us here?"

Keera, John, Kelly, Scarlett, and Mirabelle were at Starlight Shores' public library, having been brought there by Mirabelle who was ranting about a ghost who supposedly expressed urge for her to go there and bring the members of her family that were at the house at the very minute. Everyone in the household, having had things happen to them that were a little more than off-the-wall, obliged, though Keera was the one who slightly objected. However, this was simply because she was asleep at the time Mirabelle forcibly came into her room and told her to get dressed.

"I know how it sounds. I don't even believe it, but it happened. I met a ghost, he told me to come here with you all, but he didn't tell me why, or where to come to. I just thought this basement was appropriate because I was here yesterday."

"Oh goodie." Kelly said, "Well even if this is a dead end I can still read a book. I found this great mystery book about a hidden room in a castle behind a bookcase, it was right here."

"Yeah, this one too." Scarlett said, "this book also talks about a hidden bookcase, hiding a magical artifact. Kelly, didn't we get both of these from the same case?"

"What?" Keera was shaken out of her angered state and instead was more intrigued. "That's a bit of a coincidence, unless 'hidden door' is a new book genre I didn't know about."

Mirabelle was also intrigued, and after remembering which bookcase the two ladies got the books from she walked over to it and started to investigate. Something seemed off about it, and she quickly remembered she was also standing in front of this same one the day before. After a few minutes, she finally found a book that didn't belong with the rest, and was more dusty than any other book in the basement. She tried to pull it out of the case, but it wouldn't budge.

"Interesting." Mirabelle said as she instead pushed the book inwards. She felt it hit something behind it, and suddenly half the bookcase started to slide backwards, revealing a strange room lit with torches.

"Well that's new."


"You were shot, of course it will hurt!" Deacon and Isobelle held themselves up inside a store building far away from the graveyard. They hadn't returned to the Kethrin house because it was too far to run while Isobelle was injured, so they took refuge in the safest place they could.

"Yeah but I didn't expect it would hurt this much." Isobelle said as Deacon applied a cold rag to the burn mark on her face. "I guess I'm not used to pain. I thought I was."

"Used to pain? No one is used to pain, Isobelle. I'm not. I'll never be." Deacon sat the rags down and walked away to the other side of the room. "I thought I would be used to it when I lost my parents, when I got betrayed by the one father-figure I had, when I was thrown off a building. I thought by now I'd be used to pain but now I know humans aren't meant to be used to it, they are supposed to defy it, be stronger than it. I've spent years trying to be stronger than pain. Tell me, why did you think you were used to it?"

"I had a glimpse of humanity, and it was taken from me." Isobelle said as she stood in place. He looked at her, and her face was drawn out, she looked so upset and so out of sorts that he at first didn't even recognize her. "When I left Annabelle and the family four years ago, I became a lone wanderer, an outcast, a sad shell of myself. I was walking towards the casino here in town when I fell down a hill and was hit by a car. The owner of the car happened to be named Richard Avalon, the proprietor of the casino I found myself drawn to. He was kind, he took me in and cared for me, showed me the true humanity in the world. He didn't care about my past or my heritage... all he saw was a wayward soul looking for her destiny, and he gave me that destiny."

"And what happened?"

"He was old. One day I found him in his bed. He died in his sleep. Turns out he knew he was going to die, and left me a letter saying I owned the casino, and that I should see the good in humanity. I took this to heart and became a better person... He told me to smile more, to see the world as a good place than bad."

"I am so sorry, Isobelle." Deacon said. It was then he realized that she and him were almost like kindred spirits, two lost souls with dark pasts looking for a purpose in life. Both of them had done things they regretted now, with the only difference between them being that she found someone to instill a sense of hope and understanding of humanity into her, while he was taken in by someone with no humanity who had spent years building a cold shell around his shattered heart.

"Don't worry about it." Isobelle replied. "It's fine. He's gone, but what he told me remains in my heart. I'll never forget him, or his influence on me and my human instincts."

"Maybe that's all you need to do." Deacon walked up to her and put his hands on her shoulders, trying to cheer her up. Even though she never outwardly said it, Izzy thought to herself that this too was a good example in the idea of human benevolence. From the first time she stepped foot on this planet, when she killed a known murderer in hiding simply because she knew of what he had done somehow, Isobelle had seen the worst the planet had to offer.

 Now, with her late friend Richard's advice and the warm hand on her shoulder from a redeemed individual, she was truly starting to understand the basics of the human condition:  every single person is different despite being the same. Some are evil and some are good, and some are neutral. It's understanding that and not grouping them all together based around the actions of the few she had encountered for the past nine years.

Isobelle looked at Deacon and, taking this all into account, said two simple words as she gave him a friendly hug.

"Thank you."


Annabelle opened her eyes to see a Chinese man standing in front of her next to a robotic device. She assumed this man was Dr. Vu, because of his heritage and that he was severely burned in the past by something which could be seen across his face. She mused that the man was burned on the same side of his face as Keera, but didn't speak it. 

Annabelle couldn't speak if she wanted to. Her eyes were weak, her voice was harsh when she tried to talk, it was as if she was waking up from a deep sleep. For a few moments the sound was muffled, but she could still hear them talk. 

"Damn that Thompson." Vu said, angrily. "I told him I wanted Thomas. I wanted to know what he knew about his father! Still, if she's close to Jameson he'll come to rescue her, then I'll figure out what I need. We need to keep her safe, secure, and alive."

"THIS UNIT UNDERSTANDS YOUR DESIRE TO KEEP THE ALIEN-HUMAN HYBRID ALIVE. IT WILL MAKE ALL ATTEMPTS TO KEEP HER SO.", the robot said, which surprised Annabelle when it said "Alien-human hybrid", meaning it must have deeply scanned her and figured out she wasn't entirely alien... but human as well? She wondered about this, but at the same time was worried about the villains in front of her. 

Vu turned around and started to leave. "Vazir, change her clothes and put the monitoring devices on her. But only do so AFTER I leave the room and make sure it's secured. I do still believe in dignity, after all." 

The robot acknowledged this, and when Dr. Vu left the room it began to glow, shooting a laser at her shirt's collar to cut it. This was when she passed out again...

"Please, stop! Please! I'll do anything!"

Tobias Corvan fell to the ground. His clothes were torn and his face was burned. Standing above him was Tom, who had just finished a one-sided fistfight with the man. For twenty minutes, Corvan was Tom's personal human punching bag. It was only just now that he said "Tell me how to get into the Mausoleum! NOW!"

Corvan heaved backwards "I don't know! I just walk in there! They have... cameras that track your movements! Motion sensors, everything! That place is a fortress! You'll never get in! Don't you understand? You'll never get in!"

Tom stood in the rain with anger surpassing every other emotion in his mind. The raindrops hitting his hat and coat and making them feel heavy but the adrenaline rushing through his body was more than enough to keep his strength up as he slammed Covan's face into the concrete ground. "Is there any type of entrance that isn't monitored? You know if there is one... now TELL ME!"

Tobias stood up and spit blood, looking at him. "No... your girlfriend's lost to you."

Tom lunged forward and punched Tobias, saying "WRONG ANSWER!"

When the fist connected, Tobias stumbled backwards but didn't fall, and took this opportunity to run. Tom gave chase, trying not to let his one chance of getting Annabelle back get away. "GET BACK HERE YOU LITTLE PIECE OF-"

Suddenly when Tobias reached the end of the street, he vanished into thin-air. "DAMMIT!" Tom yelled, stomping into the street, but he decided to try and get into the tomb anyway despite what Corvan had told him.

Tobias, who had teleported himself into the tomb just seconds before, ran over to a computer and set up a program called "Defense Protocol 4".

 Just as Tom made it to the graveyard, he was shocked to see that the entire place was now covered in some kind of shield that popped up spontaneously. He moved towards it with the attempt to breach the shield but the Vazir drones situated at the front of the graveyard started shooting strange red lasers at him, forcing his retreat.

"I'm sorry, Annie.", he whispered as he ran away, realizing he now needed to recuperate and work up a new plan. However, he thought to himself that he would surely return to help Annabelle. It was only a matter of time and energy that he needed to recover.

 Corvan smiled as he saw Tom retreat. "Thank you, Vazir, for constructing that shield network generator. It worked wonders."


"I was trying to keep myself from getting killed!" Tobias protested, "I'm sure Vu would have done the same thing if he were in my shoes. The same damn thing."


"Yeah, we will see. But perhaps when this is over, you'll end up in the scrapyard where you belong, robot." Corvan turned around and walked into the other room. He knew there were some medical supplies somewhere in this base, it was only a matter of finding them. When he was out of Vazir's sight, the robotic device turned an even darker red, and spoke inwardly.



When Tom returned to his house, he walked sadly into the main room and sat down on the couch. Strangely no one seemed to be at the house, as not a single person found themselves in the main room to talk to him. He knew Deacon's sister Cassie was asleep, as she fell out before they left, but no one else seemed to be around. 'Perhaps they're all asleep too.', he thought. He also thought it would be best to tell them when they woke up. Defeated, Tom lied down on the couch and fell asleep, his thoughts focused on Annabelle as he drifted.


"Something about this room is very strange." Mirabelle said as she stood into the hidden room in the back of the library's basement. The bookcase that hid the door had been moved at this point so the family could easily access the room. "I mean, aside from the obvious magical stuff. Though to me it's not strange. I've seen magic before. No, what's strange is the fact that these magical wands here are each color coded. One red, one blue, one black, and one blue and black. It's obvious, isn't it?"

"Each of us get one of these." Scarlett said while looking at an old lectern, "But who put them here?! And why?"

"I don't know." Mirabelle replied, "All I know is that the ghost who told me to come here and bring you guys told me to get here as soon as possible. Perhaps he was the one who made these. Maybe he was..." Mirabelle turned around and looked at something on a pedestal. It was a crystal ball that gave off a mystic feeling, "...maybe he was psychic."

"I believe it." Kelly said, "I believe in psychic abilities. I'm sure why I do, I just do."

"Me too." Keera said, but the group were surprised to find that she wasn't actually in the room. Instead she was outside looking in. It took Scarlett and Mirabelle all of five seconds to realize the torches in the room were deterring her. Ever since Keera's accident, she was terrified of fire, to the point that simply looking at it would make her freeze in fear.

"I can extinguish them." Mirabelle said, worried. "Just come in here."

"No." Keera replied. "I'm going to go outside... the main entrance to get some air. This room's too dusty I think. Yeah, too dusty. Allergies are a pain." Keera left before anyone else could respond, and Mirabelle was upset to see her leave, but after a few seconds turned around to look at the wands.

"I don't see one for Tom, or Annie, or you, Mirabelle." Kelly said. "None of them match up."

Mirabelle smirked: "Well, I can explain why myself and Annie don't have one. If this is real magic, we know how to use it already, without the use of a magic wand. When I read that book that woman Nightmare had, I learned a few magic spells, all of which could be used offensively. I used them when I battled her."

Suddenly Mirabelle caught herself. "I mean, when Annabelle battled her. I'll have to see if I can remember how to use them."
Kelly, John, and Scarlett grabbed their appropriately-colored magic wands and put them away in their pockets. Kelly also grabbed Keera's and placed it in hers as well, saying to herself that she can give it to her when she sees her next. After some time, Scarlett, John, and Mirabelle left the room to investigate the basement some more, in case there were some books instructing them on using the magic wands. Kelly decided to stay in the room and take a quick look at the crystal ball that was the centerpiece of the area.

Kelly sat down in front of the crystal ball and started moving her hands over it. She couldn't get it to do anything, but when she was getting up to walk away she heard a slight whisper from the object. The whisper only said one word, and Kelly could barely make it out.


Kelly shrugged this off, realizing it had been a while since she got any sleep and she never did get her morning coffee, perhaps her hearing things was merely a side effect from it. Kelly walked into the main room of the library's basement and continued to search for books on magic spells with them, still thinking of that single word...


Keera stood in the Library's main plaza, looking out to the city under the rain storm. She wondered to herself if she was ever going to have a "normal" life, which to her was a privilege that was shared by those who weren't associated with aliens or were half-alien clones. This humorous thought slightly amused her, bringing a smile to her face, but that smile quickly faded when she saw someone approaching her. "You."

  Collin Lyons, the man Keera had met the night before, was walking through the library towards her. "Please listen to me."

Still angered, Keera yelled out "Hell no! I thought I gave you my opinion on you last night, Collin. Get the hell away from me!"

"Please Keera!" This stopped the girl in her tracks. She never even bothered to wonder if he knew the name of the person he scarred so terribly. "Keera, right? That's-that's your name, right? Please, before you deservedly punch me in the face and kick me through the window, I wanted to tell you something. Please listen to me, for one second? I promise I won't take up any more of your time after this, I promise! I actually sought you out to give you something."

Keera looked at him angrily and said "Whatever. Go ahead."

Collin half-smiled, but stopped himself after some time. "To find out your name I researched the accident, and as I did so, I looked at the pictures of the destruction that I caused. I saw a picture of them carrying you out on a stretcher, and when I did, I had to wipe the tears from my computer keyboard. I couldn't stop crying. When I found out that I had harmed someone through my carelessness, I froze."

"The day after being fired from my job, my family... my own children... told me I wasn't good enough for them anymore. I had a mental breakdown, and came to Starlight Shores to check myself into a mental hospital. But when I stood there, waiting to go in, I couldn't. I knew I had to do something to redeem myself. The sad part is, I'm not sure what I am destined to do. I know you probably never want to see me again, and I know what I've done to you, and your family."

"I know you'll never forgive me for what I did, but I wanted to tell you... I am truly, deeply, genuinely sorry for causing that accident. I am so sorry for all the pain I caused you. I am so sorry for the darkness that has veiled your life because of my recklessness. And I... I wanted to give you something. It's a trinket, an armband my mother gave me when I was younger. She told me it was supposed to represent strength with weakness. I never knew what that meant. I've worn it quite a bit since the accident I caused, and I never felt stronger by it."

Colin handed Keera the box, and turned around. "You can sell it or, whatever. I just wanted to give it to you, as a token of my deep apologies. Again, I am so sorry." With those parting words, he left the library. Keera was tempted to open the box, but instead decided against it. A thought came to her that she would open it when she knew it was the right time, and right now wasn't it.

She walked outside and placed the box in the family car, looking around to see if she could still see Collin. She couldn't. After a short time, Keera walked back inside and looked around the library, this time more focused on things than she was a few minutes before.

When Kelly, John, and everyone else walked upstairs and out of the main plaza, Kelly approached Keera and gave her the magic wand. Keera told the group about the encounter with Collin Lyons, but couldn't tell them about her feelings regarding his apology. She internally worried that she was losing her ability to feel sympathy, a base human emotion. Maybe, perhaps, she was still just trying to think things through.

 The ride home was silent, no one had any words to describe what they found. They realized they could ask Isobelle or Deacon if they knew anything about magic, or even Cassie. Finally, when they got back, they saw the aforementioned two walking into the house at the same time. They looked defeated, and Isobelle had a burn mark on her face. It was obvious they didn't complete their little "mission". Finally Keera walked into the living room and saw Tom standing in front of the couch, having just woken up from his nap.

"Hey Tom, what's up?"

Tom was silent. Keera noticed that he was wearing his outfit that he wore before, his favorite one, but something about him was sad, depressed. Then Keera noticed the absence of someone. "Where' Mom? Tom? Where is she?"

Tom remained looked right at her. "She was taken." He said, his words coming out in cold breaths as opposed to his usually confidence. "She was kidnapped by the villains."


Annabelle woke up and looked around. She was in a small cell, no more than the size of a small bedroom. She saw a couple air vents above the bed she was lying on, and on the other side of a glass window there was a dark room with a chair and television set. She stood up and noticed that her clothes were different, there was a ring on her middle finger and a brooch around her neck that had a glow to it. When she yanked at the strap of the brooch that gave her a small shock, which didn't hurt, it just annoyed her. 'I guess my captors thought it would be painful.', she thought.

Most notably, when she caught her reflection in the glass window, she saw that her bruises were healed completely, which led her to assume that the Doctor Vu person made the robot heal her. Annabelle wondered why this was as she walked over to a metal door and tried to pull on the handle, and that was when she heard a voice.

"No please, don't try to escape. Not like you could anyway." Annabelle turned and saw Jacob standing on the opposite side of a window, having silently walked into the room next to the cell. "That room is sealed. Any attempt to break the door will induce a vaporous poison into the air vents behind you... really nasty stuff.

"What do you want with me?" Annabelle asked. "What did I ever do to you, Thompson?"

"Isn't that the million dollar question?" Jacob smiled with an evil look to his eye. "To be honest, you've been a thorn in the side of every 'evil' person this side of the western hemisphere. Needless to say you've made some enemies, more so than anyone else in your household."

"Well that's good." Annabelle replied sarcastically. "Especially with the Benefactors, yeah? I remember Jack Toomes, that disgusting, putrid, scruff-faced neanderthal whose biggest accomplishment he ever made in his life was achieving a level of intelligence slightly higher than that of the average amoeba."

"He had the intelligence level to kidnap you!"

"Yeah. Like I said, 'low intelligence'. You must share that intelligence level with him. I mean, because you kidnapped me too, and that's usually a bad idea. In fact you seem to share a lot of traits with Jack." Annabelle stepped just to her left and started to pull on the door again, prompting Jacob to get angry.

"Don't try to escape I said! That ring on your middle finger is a monitoring device. It will track your every movement, and if you try to take it off it will simply teleport you back to this room, where the poison would begin to vent into there."

"Oh you mean this ring?" Annabelle lifted her hand, and her finger, but ONLY the aforementioned finger. "This ring right here? This one? This ring on this finger riiiight here? Is that the one? Look at it very closely because I am really wondering if this is the ring. Look at it."

Jacob turned around and looked on the opposite wall. "How very mature of you. I can't believe you were able to defeat Jack Toomes at seventeen years old. You and Tom."

"Well when Jack Toomes is a complete, total, absolute moron it's surprising I didn't defeat him at eleven. Then again I suppose I needed to give him a head start. I damn well know he needed it."

 "SHUT. UP!"

Annabelle laughed and said, "You know you weren't very secretive about hiding your true identity."


 "Yeah! I figured it out from the moment I saw you in the Museum. I've just been goading you on these past few minutes. Then again, plastic surgery and the untested Young-Again potion you stole from my brother can only go so far. You still have the ticks, the inflection in your voice, your angered look when I make fun of Jack Toomes... but the color of your eyes is a big giveaway. They were a different hue when I saw them before."

Jacob turned around again, and looked at her contemplatively. "When you saw them before?"

"When I met that drone that stood in at the prison. The one that got blown to hell because you used Vu's device to summon a meteor to hit the ground at the exact spot it was. I knew it was a drone because when it stood up in that surveillance video, which I lovingly lifted from the police station, and said 'it's time then', presumably a pre-programmed phrase to make people think it was crazy and talking to itself, there was a bit of radio feedback and the only source that it could have possibly come from was one of the drones you stole from the science facility in Sunset Valley and altered to look like someone else."

"You are smarter than the average person, I'll give you that."

"Thank you! I used to think you were smart too, but with you and your personality, the young again potion that was stolen a couple months ago, the robotic drones that were lifted a few weeks ago, and the simple fact that you seem to hate me for no reason has led me to believe that you aren't the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to simple things like 'keeping your identity secret.' I guess I hit the nail on the head when I said 'absolute moron', didn't I..."