Chapter 4:Mystery and Debt Collectors
Incarnate ran through the jungles of Carzonia, trees and branches hitting him as he fled from the hovering ships above. They circled the jungle overhead, floodlights lighting huge circles of revelation in the undergrowth.
The Carzonian jungle was home to thousands of species, which were mainly dangerous, such as the Carzonian Bull, which is possible the most dangerous, non-planet-eating beast. It is considered a delicacy on many worlds, but right now, Incarnate could not see what was so delicious about it. It's slobbering jaws, which were somewhat hypnotising, lay open in front of him, directly blocking his path. This was all he needed now. Best to dispose of it quickly, then.
The beast lowered it's horn and charged at him, snarling as it did so.
For a demi-god of gravity, it wasn't particularly hard to solve both problems with one stone, even if the stone was a ten-tonnes bull. Reversing the gravity around the bull sent it shooting into the air. A crash and an explosion alerted Incarnate that his plan had succeeded: the bull had destroyed at least one of the Hoverships. Incarnate continued running through the jungle and kept catching glimpses of a figure unlike those of the Shadow Elite, who manned the Hoverships. This thing was jet-black, whilst wearing worn golden armour. Incarnate stopped, after glimpsing it in front of him, darting between trees. "Come out!" Incarnate yelled, drawing a sword from a crudely-made leather sheath.
"Ah...Incarnate." came a voice that sounded as if it had originated from the ethereal reaches of time itself.
"Show yourself!" Incarnate yelled, unsteadily brandishing the sword.
"Who do you think I am, Incarnate?" the voice came again, this time from behind. Incarnate twisted around, but there was nothing. "The one who identified you after reports of suspicious activity. I did." There was muffled laughter.
Incarnate hated being laughed at, as the assailant found out when the area of jungle around him was crushed into the ground, thanks to a sudden rise of the gravitational force. The Warrior stood there, the gravity seeming not to affect him. "Come at me, bro!" yelled The Warrior defiantly, but with no shirt to tear, the effect was lost.
Incarnate paused as he drew closer. "Is that really you?" he asked slowly.
"Of course!" yelled the warrior, before unleashing a bolt of lightning from his fingertips. Incarnate, unable to block, dropped to the floor and fell slowly into unconsciousness. The last things he heard was The Warrior ordering the Shadow Elite to take him away.
As he looked deeply into the crystal ball, Naarl saw the future: marrying a handsome man in a pinstriped jacket and have three kids with them. He then looked at his client: a male of about twenty three, with a T-shirt proclaiming the man as "Gay and Proud". Naarl nodded respectively, before clearing his throat and telling his client his fortune.
When the client had left, Naarl sighed. He was getting old. Not old, he thought A different word. Ending with er. Older. Thassit. It was true indeed that Naarl was old, and wasn't really getting any older: a weary man, almost bent double with age, he sported a wiry white beard and was completely bald atop his head. His hearing and eyesight were appalling; almost on par with his memory. Since the Andromeda Disaster, Naarl had set up shop as a Fortune Teller on Earth. Working mainly alongside circuses, he had plenty of happy customers. As a forbidden form of entertainment, he had to be extremely careful. The government had banned fortune telling because Cinradahs knew of Naarl's existence: the only slightly accurate fortune teller in the galaxy, hell maybe even the universe. Now, all he need do is search for one fortune teller and bam! Goodbye Naarl. However, Naarl needed the money for food, and he refused to just steal like Maria, Tao and Cody. He had to provide at least one less charge against his name and he had no other talent, in his own opinion.
The bell rung as the door to his shop (for now) opened. "Be with you 'n a minute!" Naarl called, cleaning his crystal ball: a curtain separated this room from the waiting room, which had never been filled. He hobbled out, slowly moving the curtain aside. "How can ah help ya?" Naarl asked, his teeth sliding about in his mouth.
The man halted for a second, not quite expecting this response. "Naarl, don't you recognize me?"
Naarl eyes widened and he bent down behind a counter. He emerged with a shotgun. "'Ere, you ain't one o' dem debt collectors, are ya? I told em 'gain and 'gain I pay em back. I bin tellin' 'em ah say!"
The figure held his head in his hands. "Naarl, I'm not a debt collector."
"'Ats what the lass what one say. But 'e still try an' take mah money. It's a disgrace, is what you are." Naarl cocked the shotgun.
"Watch it, Naarl." The figure said cautiously, "Put the gun down."
"I say no!" Naarl fired the gun at the man, who quickly drew a blade, leapt into the air and sliced the bullet in half.
"Naarl, stop this." the man said, sword at the ready.
"Hmm." Naarl said, putting the gun down. "So it is you. Consider that a punishment for being gone for a year."
The man smiled. Naarl wasn't as senile as he made out.
"We need to talk, Naarl."
"Indeed. Anything in particular?"
A glint crossed the man's eye. "Titans and Tartarus."
Cronus, the titan king, sat upon his throne in the pit of Tartarus, drumming his tree-like fingers on the edge of his seat. Or the armrest, if you are so inclined to call it so. Cronus was a Titan God, meaning that he was extremely massive, or mahoosive, as some would call it, being that large. People would gaze up at Cronus as he strode across the land, flattening villages beneath his boots, and they would say, "Oh lordy Lou! It's that mahoosive beast of a god again! Ready the sacrificial lamb, Jeeves!" Of course, that was a long time ago, back when it was not frowned upon for Greeks to walk around in togas and kill lambs in the glorious name of Hades.
Now, however, Cronus felt slightly let down and even more slightly betrayed. He and Hades had a deal, and Blue Cloud shattered it, before spitting on its rotting carcass. Hades was dead now, but so was Blue Cloud apparently, which had amused Cronus for a few weeks. Although, Blue Cloud had killed Cronus's favourite son in the process, which sort of pissed him off.
And apparently, the blasted Trexor and Pandora were searching for him and the Titans, who were currently residing in the pit of Tartarus. The pit used to be a prison of the Titan's, bar Prometheus and Typhon, who were sealed elsewhere, until Blue Cloud broke Cronus free. Cronus returned after the Andromeda disaster and freed the rest of the Titans. It was only when Uranus was brutally beheaded when Cronus decided that the First Children were after the Titans and others involved in Blue Cloud's plan.
Cronus sighed monumentally. He was alone in the darkness of the pit, yet all he could think about was Hades and his death. No-one knew if Hades was truly dead, but Cronus believed it inevitable. Even Gods cannot live forever.
A knock rapped on the door, the sound of knuckles cracking on the rotting wood. Without waiting for an answer, the door swung open, rusted hinges creaking as it did so. In the doorway stood the thin, frail form of Prometheus, a Titan made entirely of quartz.
"Cronus. There's someone here to see you." Prometheus stated, before pausing to watch Cronus's amusing look of bewilderment. "What do you desire, milord?"
Cronus thought for a second. Well, it can't be Trexor or Pandora, as Prometheus would've recognised them. It must be someone with access to Tartarus...Oh please, let it be him. Cronus grinned broadly, before he said, deep voice booming, "send them in!"
A normal sized humanoid figure entered the room, head held high out of sheer confidence. Upon this head perched a mass of hair, topped off by a sweeping fringe that covered one perfect water-blue eye. He wore a black sleeveless shirt, red buttons marking the centre of his muscular chest. Black trousers matched his shirt, but were more like skinny jeans, following all of his muscle contours on his legs. At his waist was a large sandy-brown leather sheath, within which was a huge sword. Not as large as the Blade of Olympus, but large nonetheless. He smiled thinly, none of his perfect white teeth showing. He had a scar on his left cheek which ran the entire length from chin to eye. "Hey Cronus." he said.
Cronus squinted down to the insect beneath him, working out all of its features. He leant down, not believing what he was seeing. "You!" he roared, "You dare enter Tartarus?" He swung around, house-sized fist coming down on the figure, who jumped, drawing his blade and slashing at Cronus's wrist. A burning sensation mingled with pain jolted Cronus away and back into his throne.
The figure landed once more, sheathing his blade. "I come to talk, Cronus," he said, smirking, "and that is my reception? How rude."
"What...is this?" asked Cronus, observing his wound on his wrist. Cut, it was, like a knife cut, yet seared around the edges like a burn from a solar flare.
The figure drew the blade and turned it over three or four times in his hands. "This is the Terran Blade. Made from the souls of Earth borne creatures, animals and humans. Every single person that is on Earth this minute is inside this blade."
"Wait...what?" Cronus asked confused, "if they're on Earth, how are they in the blade?"
The figure sighed. "That's what I came to see you about. This blade is from the future."
"I guess everything dies eventually. What has that do with anything?"
The figure braced himself. "They're from exactly one week in the future. All eight billion souls came from Earth next week."
"But- no!" Cronus roared, "I am the king here now!"
The figure shook his head. "Even you must understand the folly of being a king, when there is no kingdom to rule."
"Earth matters not. I'll just relocate to another planet." Cronus smiled triumphantly.
The figure placed its head in his hands. "This is bigger than you realise, y'know? Charon made me this blade-"
"Charon?" Cronus asked, "where is the weasel hiding?"
"Me, Charon, Gold and Incarnate have been very busy, Cronus. At the Pillar. Next week, everything in this universe shall be destroyed. Charon is fashioning swords from all of the souls that will end up there. When we stop this, the swords will disintegrate and all will be well. But, we will need an army."
"And that is where I come in, is it not?" Cronus asked.
"Yes. If you do aid us, I will personally ensure that no-one will ever hurt you Titans again." He was sincere.
Cronus groaned. "Is Gold who I think it is?"
The figure hung his head. "Yes." he muttered, inaudibly.
"Well, no. He killed my son-"
"No, he hasn't." The figure retorted quickly.
"What?" barked Cronus.
"Hades is alive. And we need his help."
"How? How is he alive?" Cronus gasped breathlessly.
"He was sealed in a black hole. Aren't no black holes anymore." The figure explained. "The Hades Gate is no longer in a black hole, but on a moon like structure near the AUN. Namely, Aran's fortress."
"Aran? The so-called Lord Of Death?" Cronus chuckled, "Fuckin' idiot, he is."
"Yes, well...when we get there, you can crush him all you like."
Cronus smiled, teeth bared, "I look forward to it."
"Good. There's just a few things I need to sort out first, but then we can move out." the figure explained. "I'll need to take down Xaos, which I need you guys for, but first, I have to take down the Ten Lords."
"Why?" rumbled Cronus.
"The Ten Lords each possess one of the ten soul rings of legend, and I think that gaining these, and a Titan army, will be the only way to take him down."
"I see." Cronus concurred, "I will raise the army while you do your stuff."
A loud crash came from outside the huge wooden doorway. Cronus and the figure turned just in time to see the thousand foot form of Prometheus to fly through what was now splintering remains of the wooden door. They threw themselves to the ground as Prometheus sped towards them and fell to the ground with an almighty crash which shook the very foundations of the room. "Prometheus!" Cronus yelled as he ran over to Prometheus's prone body. "What happened?"
"He's here." Prometheus grunted, blood spilling from his teeth.
"Who is?" asked the figure urgently.
"Trexor." Prometheus gasped.
The figure drew the Terran blade again. "I'll see to this." he said.
"Indeed you shall," growled Cronus, "you probably lead his right to us!"
"Perhaps. But he thinks I'm dead, I would imagine."
"Cronus!" came a commanding voice from in the doorway. "Show yourself!" And with that, Trexor came round the corner. Black as the darkest night, his skin was not truly skin, more of a plasma matrix that constantly shifted and moved, yet still keeping within a humanoid shape constructed by the crimson armour he wore around his body and limbs, topped off with a crown-like helmet. A leather sheath was at his hip, filled with some sort of blade.
"Trexor," Cronus rumbled, "how dare you enter my domain?"
The figure held one arm out, a signal for Cronus to stop. "Stop Cronus. I'll deal with him."
Trexor chuckled. "You? What can you do? A pathetic human corrupted by Titan lies? Even Cronus would have a better chance at winning and, quite frankly, he has none."
The figure shook his head. "Ah, Trexor. Modest to the end, eh?"
"Don't talk as if you know me!" Trexor spat. "Turn and face me!"
The figure did.
Trexor gasped. "You! This cannot be!" he turned to Cronus. "This is trickery! Titan trickery!"
"It isn't their doing, Trexor." the figure explained. "I'm back."
Tahkshi brandished the Terran sword, tip pointing at Trexor. "And if you are against my new Titan army, you are against me."
"Your Titan army? What is this madness?" Trexor shrieked.
"I need them to save this reality and kill Xaos." A glint crossed Tahkshi's eye. "And if it must come down to it, if you stand in my way, I will kill you too."
"I came here to kill the Titans for their crimes against the universe. And you, Tahkshi, have also committed crimes against reality. I have Incarnate. Now for you, then Gold." Trexor drew his blade, a relatively large blade, as in it looked large even against Trexor's build. "I will not kill you, Tahkshi, but I shall take you in for execution."
"If that's how it is Trexor." Tahkshi lit his fists on fire with a blink. "Then this is how it shall be."