Artana: Part 2

She made her way to a towering grey brick building, and went through the glass doors into the lobby. She nodded to the receptionist as she walked by, and pressed her purse up against a black panel adjacent to the elevator. A light on the panel turned green, and the doors opened up. She repeated the process on a panel inside the elevator, and hit the ‘7’ button.

She sighed with relief as the doors opened, and went for her apartment. She once again repeated the ritual with the black box on her doorknob, and the black box once again complied. She had previously questioned the idea of having 3 layers of security that are effectively the same thing. If someone finds a way around one black box, they have their way around the whole system. However, the landlord wasn’t particularly interested in talking security.

“Hey, Ash! You home?” She called into the apartment, but received no reply, as expected. She sat her purse down on the couch, and plopped down next to it.

She relaxed for a moment, before removing the necklace and book from her bag. The book was reminiscent of one of those pocket bibles they gave everyone at school, the ones that everyone threw away. It was dark red, and on the front it just had an eight-spoked wheel, like the necklace.

She opened it up and began reading. Immediately she noticed the book was written in Cyrillic, most likely russian. She thumbed through some more, to see if there were any pictures or anything comprehensible. While she could run the whole book through a translator, she would really rather not.

She eventually found an image of a man making hand gestures, while wearing the necklace. She looked briefly around the apartment, to ensure she was alone. She wasn’t about to start doing weird Russian yoga poses if someone was going to jump in on her.

Once she was confident, she put on the necklace. It was a regular necklace chain, with a latch on the back. The pendant was a simple eight-spoked wheel of some kind of metal. She glanced back down at the book, and struck the pose. She went to a comfortable standing position, into a lunge. She held both of her arms straight out. One of her hands was open palm, facing forwards, while the other was closed fist with her index finger pointing. The open palm was on top of the pointing hand.

A fine red beam of light erupted from her finger, and went forward onto her wall. This was physically impossible. She didn’t have any kind of powers, but she was doing something like this. She held the pose for a moment, in awe, but a small flame erupted where the light was hitting.

Arte swore, and leapt into action. Adrenaline coursed through her veins, and her heart raced. She grabbed a towel, and set about to beating the flame into submission. There was a charred black spot about the size of her spread hand. Upon further examination, it appeared that the light had burned a hole in the wall. She tried to clean off some of it, but she couldn’t make any significant progress, so she gave up.

She couldn’t believe what had happened. Ashley was gonna kill her. That security deposit wasn’t cheap.

Arte waited another half hour, until she began to feel hungry. She glanced down at her phone, and saw Ashley still hadn’t replied to her texts. She began to feel worried. This wasn’t like her, to be so late with no communication. She pressed the call button. The phone rang for a moment, then went to voicemail.

“Hey Ash, it’s me, Arte. Where are you at? You’re running kinda late. Give me a call. Love you.” She hung up the phone and sighed.

She waited five more minutes before deciding to make dinner. She rummaged through the cupboards, pantry, and fridge for a moment, then decided on pan-fried chicken with some macaroni and cheese. Real food wasn’t too expensive, if you were willing to put in a little effort. She decided to go ahead and make enough for two. Worst case scenario she gets leftovers for tomorrow.

About twenty minutes of cooking later, she was finally done. The chicken was a little on the done side, but it still looked edible. The notification light on her phone flashed in the corner of her eye. She ran over, but it was just an email. Another company wanting to offer her a ‘deal’ on car insurance.

She decided to give her another call. She was more than an hour late now, and radio silence wasn’t like her. She pressed call, but was met with the same result.

“Hey Ash, it’s me again. I made dinner, and there’s enough for you. I’m getting a little worried, so give me a call. Love you.” She hung up the phone.

She sat down at the table and began to eat. There was no sense in letting both of their dinners go cold. She pulled out her phone, to browse some good distracting social media. It quickly became apparent that there had been some kind of shooting.

Her mind immediately rushed to the worst possibility. She reassured herself that it was basically impossible, and set about doing some research as to what happened.

She began to gather some bits and pieces of what happened. Evidently it was an attack on an office, in her city no less. She finally found a decent article about what happened. That was Ashley’s office.

Tears welled in her eyes. She wanted to scream, but she couldn’t make a sound. The world fell to pieces around her.

She jumped to her feet and ran out the door.

 


 

< Previous Part ——————– Where’s Superzeroes?

 

Hope you enjoyed. That’ll be it for this, for now. It will be back, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

Artana: Part 1

Arte was walking home from her internship. It had been a grueling day, and she just wanted to get home. She knew engineering would be hard, but this was something else. Not even hard problems, just stupid stuff wearing her down. Then again she didn’t actually expect to be entrusted with anything of importance.

No matter how much she wore, she couldn’t get warm either. The sky was grey and crappy, and the crowd of people did nothing but bump her around. The streets smelled like sewage all around today, for whatever reason. It matched the tone of her day.

She looked over in an alley to her left. There was a pulsating neon sign, which she didn’t remember seeing before. She broke through the throng of people, and got a closer look. The sign looked weathered and dirty, despite the fact that it had to be new. Arte had an eye for detail, and this wouldn’t pass her by. The sign read simply ‘PUB’.

She was curious, but not stupid. She pulled up her phone to shoot a text to her girlfriend.

Hey Ash, I’m stopping in at a new bar. I’m sending you my location in case I get snatched, lol. I shouldn’t be long, but if it looks good, I might grab dinner here. I’ll text you if I do.

Satisfied, she turned to the door. It was a faded green metal door, with a stainless steel handle. She pulled it open, and stepped inside.

As she entered, she was astonished. It looked like something you might see in a fantasy movie. There were neat wooden floorboards, with sturdy wooden tables and countertop. The bar was devoid of people, but for Arte and the barkeep.

The barkeep was actually cleaning out a metal mug with a rag. He smiled as she approached. “Welcome to my pub! What can I get for you?” He spoke in a heavy Russian accent. He was thin, dressed plainly, and had a thick mustache and beard.

“Hey, how long have you been here? I swear I’ve never seen this place before, but it’s very nice.” She laughed.

“Well, I suppose I have lost track of time.” He put the mug down and stroked his mustache. “It hasn’t been very long, by your time.”

“Well do you have food here, or just drinks?” She looked around behind the counter, and saw a stove and fridge. All of the older aesthetic meshed pretty well with the newer equipment, much to her surprise.

“We have food, but if I’m honest, I am a bad cook. This is something of a hobby for me.” He looked below the counter for a moment, and pulled out a glass, setting his cleaning mug aside. “Now, one drink on the house. What would you like?”

“Oh, just a whiskey and coke please.” She smiled as he made the drink. She debated for a moment if she should really drink it, but decided it would probably be too rude to refuse. “Thanks.” She nodded as he slid it towards her.

“Now,” He placed a bottle of clear liquid on the table. “Let’s get to business.” He opened the bottle, and the smell hit Arte like paint remover. He drank straight from the bottle. “If you have found me here, that means you are probably my chosen one.” He reached out his hand. “If I may have your hand?”

Arte obliged. She was definitely glad she hadn’t drank yet, as this man was clearly crazy. Then again, in a world of supers, was a chosen one that farfetched? Although, her being a russian barkeep’s chosen one was pretty unlikely.

“Ah yes.” He rotated her hand in his. “Definitely the chosen one. Judging by your face, however, you don’t believe?”

“Not quite, no.” She took her hand back, and ensured her rings were still there. She angled herself slightly away, preparing to bolt for the door.

“Very well, I’ll show you.” He crouched down under the counter.

Arte debated running now, but she elected to just stand. The man did have her curiosity, after all. She fingered the gun in her purse.

“There we are!” The man slammed a wheel as big as her on the counter. It was eight-spoked, and made of some kind of metal. He looped a chain around it, and beamed.

Arte backed away slowly. Her heart was racing. She supposed she wasn’t necessarily in danger, but she didn’t like it nonetheless. This wasn’t like the kind of stranger danger they tell you about. What are you supposed to do when a russian guy in a sketchy pub slams a wheel on the bar?

The man snapped his fingers, and the wheel and chain vanished. Arte looked closer, and saw that it was actually still there, just smaller. The man tossed it to her, and she barely caught it. “Alright, since you want to leave, I have manual.” He pulled a phone sized book from his pocket and tossed it to her as well. “Popular request. It makes the learning phase go quicker.”

Arte backed a little more towards the door and booked it. She just wanted a quick drink, not whatever he was pedaling. She crammed the necklace and book in her purse.

“Oh, by the way!” The man called after her. “Learn quick, someone else wants it!”

She sprinted out the door, and out of the alley. She moved as quickly as she could manage through the throng of people, but she was still slowed. Once she felt safely away, she pulled out her phone again, and texted Ashley.

That was WEIRD. I’ll be home soon.

She noted that Ashley hadn’t responded to her previous text, but wasn’t alarmed, as she was probably still at work. It was still a little unusual, since she usually answered at work, but it wasn’t unreasonable to think they got busy. She caught herself overthinking and giggled.

 


 

Where’s Superzeroes? ——————– Next Part >