Tournament Armoured Hero #7

“Hey, it’s me,” he said calmly, surveying the wreckage of the room about him. “Listen, I’m afraid things didn’t really go according to plan.”

He paused, listening intently to the voice on the other end of the phone and nodding his agreement.

“Yeah,” he murmured after a moment. “The clone didn’t make it, sorry about that. I think that kid our friends sent out bit the dust too, quite literally. It’s a shame but, you know, it’s a battlefield out there.”

There was another momentary pause and then, at last, Randall Kalish smiled warmly.

“Don’t panic so much. Taryse is fine, Amelia’s fine too. They’re just a little shaken up, all they need is for you to ride out there in the desert and…” he paused, the smile fading slightly. “Yeah, I understand that. Well, if you can’t go out there, I guess I’ll…”

He stopped again, suddenly agitated.

“You’re going to send Mitsukai?” he snapped impatiently.

At his side, Joe Hammel anxiously bit his nails, his round face drenched with sweat and his expression one of apprehension.

Kalish opened his mouth to decry the situation and then, apparently listening further to the voice on the other end of the phone, he nodded again, sighing sharply.

“I guess I see your point. Maybe I was a little heavy handed. Still, that kid really ticked me off, you know. Don’t worry, I won’t misbehave in future.”

The scowl turned into a smile.

“Besides, we’re bros, right? Everything’s cool.”

The voice on the other end of the phone seemed to acquiesce and  Kalish’s smile brightened.

“Listen, if you don’t need us out here anymore, then I’m going to lock this place down and head back to base. That cool?”

There came another pause and then Kalish nodded.

“Right. Take it easy, bro. See you when we get back.”

Without further comment, he snapped the phone shut and dropped it back into his pocket, turning once more to look in Hammel’s direction.

“Get your stuff together, Joe. We’re burning this place down.”

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Tournament Armoured Hero #5


The branches of the trees were barren and skeletal, like the digits of fingers reaching up from dead frames and clutching at the grey skies outside of his window.

It had been four weeks since Jaden Stryder’s mother had died, four weeks in which the young boy had grown accustomed to the new status quo in the family home, his back raw with the fresh markings of his father’s belt and his eyes still red with tears.

He knew it wasn’t his father’s fault, he knew that somehow, despite the cruelty and unfairness of it all, his father was just expressing the sorrow they both felt now that they were alone together in the world. He understood that if his grandparents had telegraphed the money his father had requested of them then maybe he wouldn’t have to suffer the older man’s anger. This was the manner in which the world worked and whilst he was only six years old, Jaden Stryder understood this implicitly.

If you were weak, the world took advantage of you. He hadn’t understood that whilst his mother had still been alive but in the four weeks that had followed the car crash that had killed her and left his father with a permanent limp, Jaden had acquired the knowledge that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

“Jaden!” a voice from outside the room bellowed through the house. “Jaden, you little son of a bitch, where are you hiding?”

Upon the stairs, there was the sound of heavy footfalls, one boot falling against the carpet whilst the other was dragged after it, a wooden stick clattering against the handrail.

“For Christ’s sake, you little runt, where in God’s name are you?”

He felt a sickness stir inside him, fear rooting him to the spot as the sound of his father’s ascension grew louder and louder.

“I swear to God, I’m going to beat the living daylights out of you if you don’t give me a good answer soon!”

The boy’s lips parted but his tongue was a lead weight in his mouth, no words able to lift it and spur him into a reply.

Too late, he heard the sound of his father in the hallway outside and then, abruptly the door was thrown wide open to reveal a large, heavyset man in a lumberjack shirt, one hand clutching a bottle of whiskey and walking stick, the thick leather of his belt wound about the knuckles of the other.

The older man’s eyes flashed in his ruddy face, his black teeth visible beneath the coarse hair of his beard.

Jaden Stryder felt the taste of bile rising in his throat, the seat of his trousers dampening with fear as a tremble ran through his body.

Without a word of explanation, his father raised his first, light glistening on the silver of the buckle.

The boy closed his eyes and the older man’s fist descended.

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Tournament Armoured Hero #4

Mikuchi Keitarou stood on his front doorstep, barely suppressing a yawn, his open dressing gown swaying around his bare legs and revealing a faded JAM Project t-shirt and a pair of unassuming boxer shorts. Upon his feet, he wore the most unflattering pair of fuzzy monster feet slippers whilst in his hand he held a cup of steaming black coffee, the side of the mug still emblazoned with the old academy logo.

His hair was dishevelled, his face marked by several days’ worth of stubble and, at the corner of his lips, the stub of a cigarette still smouldered.

The breeze was crisp but not uncomfortable, full of the promises of autumn and the suggestion of spring. The great London plane tree that stood at the far corner of his garden had shed crisp leaves onto the green grass and the blue skies above were cloudless and free of any suggestion of rain.

To his left, his neighbour’s station wagon was absent from the spot it had been warming all weekend, suggesting that not only was Mister Simon Dice out, but also his wife Marisa. To the right, Sean Stemmie loitered at the end of the road, avoiding school and waiting for the arrival of friends.

All over Pittsburgh, the early afternoon sun shone down on quiet houses and places of work alike, autumn illumination highlighting the everyday routines of the joyful and the sorrowful, the content and the resentful.

The day was warm, his coffee was as bitter as his sense of humour and everything was right with the world.

With another yawn, Mikuchi looked down at his watch, staring blankly at the LCD time set as the seconds clicked over perfectly, revealing the digits ’12:12:12′.

A sudden crack of lightning hit the end of the street, a peel of thunder rattling the windows in his house as a colossal silver and white train burst out of the void and tore down the street. Rails of spirit energy fell into line before it as the colossal machine shuddered to a halt, ploughing through several parked cars in the process, a chorus of mechanical alarms calling out in the wake of its motion.

With a wry smile, Mikuchi plucked the cigarette from his lips and took a sip of coffee.

“Never a dull moment,” he murmured and, with the grin still fixed to his face, began a leisurely stroll across the lawn towards the massive train.

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Breakfast Serial x.10

This is it.

This is also it.

This is the archive.

The massive mound barreled through three streetlights — tearing steel from concrete, shattering glass, severing wire — before rolling to a stop.

Black and blue and gray burbled beneath a translucent tan shell. A shell that had cracked, leaving a streak of slime across the evening pavement to mark its trail.

Fastened to the fissured hide with gelatinous ribbon was a parcel. Black and white and cooing a lullaby. A soothing sonnet to pacify. The parcel slipped to the sidewalk, landing on two battered feet. She rested a gentle hand across the shell. “You saved me.”

But, the mound was unresponsive.

His emotional display was fractured and vacant.

Dammit!” The Ten-Second Rule, decked in his AFTA Black uniform, killed his call with the snap of his cell. “Mr. Popular’s line is still busy.”

“And, Grasshopper 1’s homing device is offline.” Deadlift, wearing the same, twisted the dials next to the air conditioning vent with her left hand and steered with her right. “I can’t find a signal.”

“Set a course for Adams’ Orchard.” Gregor perched himself atop the dashboard, his glowing eyes scanning the night sky. “And call Caduceus.”
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