Chapter 4- Captured!?
600 AD, Truce Village
The trio of weary travelers hung over a table in the main room of the Shanghai Inn. They had already confirmed with the owner that there was a girl named Lucca registered with a room there, now they could only wait until what seemed like Jack and Sarah's shot at getting home decided to show up. Until then, the three decided to play a little game of cards, a little game of cards that had been going on for nearly two and a half hours, that is.
"I'll see you, and raise you three hundred gold," Jack said with a smirk. Jack took a swig from the bottle in his hand, both surprised and happy that there wasn't a drinking age in the year 600. The pot had gotten rather large, but the night had turned one-sided about and hour ago. Aragorn already had most of Jack and Sarah's money.
"I'll see that," Sarah said, pushing her last pile of gold into the pot. "And I'll raise you my…" she rummaged through her pockets until she came upon something that was of high value. "I'll raise you my cell phone."
"What is a 'cell phone,'" Aragorn asked, looking over his cards.
"Let's put it this way," Jack said, leaning over the table. "It's worth a hell of a lot more than three hundred gold." He sat back down. "Are you sure you want to bet something like that?" he questioned Sarah with hopes of her showing some sign that she was bluffing.
"Oh, your mighty tricky Mr. McKlane," she said with a grin, "but you can't get me to break that easily."
"Trick you?" he said, playing innocent. "If anything, I should be trying to trick Sir 'what is this poker game that you speak off?' over here!" It was just at the beginning of the session that Jack and Sarah 'taught' Aragorn the game of five-card draw.
"Yeah," Sarah said, staring Aragorn down. "Your awfully good for someone that just learned how to play two hours ago." Sarah started thinking about anything else that she could bet. "I'd say we've been hustled, Jack."
"And I'd say your right, Sarah," Jack said. The two of them look menacingly on Aragorn. "And we lost all our money to someone we met in the forest just this afternoon."
"Beginners luck?" Aragorn said with a shrug.
"Yeah, my hairy…" Jack started, but Sarah cut him off.
"Cool off Jack. Let's just make this the last hand and then come up with a different sort of entertainment until the guest of honor decides to appear." They did end up making this the last hand, a hand that went on for another half an hour. Before someone called, the pot had grown to all of the travelers money, Jack and Sarah's TAGs, the keys to Jack's car, Sarah's cell phone, Aragorn's sword and half of his armor, Jack's custom made Swiss Army Knife and Sarah's ring which had been passed down through about ten generations. It was getting intense. Everyone was sweating, bluffing or not. At last, when everyone equally had nothing left to give, the results came out.
"Full house, eight's and jacks!" Jack exclaimed, slammed his cards on the table and got ready to grab the pot.
"Not so fast hot shot," Sarah smirked. "I also have a full house," she displayed her cards with glee, "nines and queens." Jacks mouth dropped open as the two waited for Aragorn to show his hand. Jack and Sarah stared at the knight, waiting for results.
"Well?!" the two almost screamed at the same time. They did scream when Aragorn showed his cards.
"A pair of twos…" he said bitterly. While Sarah started jumping for joy and scooping the large pot over to her, Jack stared at Aragorn for a while.
"You went that far with a pair of twos?" Jack asked, dumbfounded. Never in his life had he ever seen someone do something so stupid and daring, and he had been in a lot of card games. He was reminded instantly back to a time in High School at a poker game. One of his friends had bet everything he had earned that year at his job and lost it all. He at least was holding three fours, better than Aragorn's play, but stupid none the less. Jack continued to stare blankly at Aragorn, who simply shrugged just as he had done earlier.
"Jack, catch!" Jack spun around as Sarah tossed him his TAG, keys and knife. She also gave Aragorn back his sword and armor. "We can't have you two unarmed if we run into trouble. Besides, your mom would probably kill you if she ever found out that you lost that car." Sarah laughed at the entire situation, not really caring about the items, but still happy with the hefty amount of cash she had won.
"You are truly kind, madam," Aragorn stood up and bowed. "Such is conduct I would have followed myself should I have won, it is hardly honorable to steal in the manner that I did. I only play for fun." He looked down to Jack, who was still sitting there. "Would you have done the same?"
"Hell no!" he exclaimed. "I would have given Sarah back her stuff, but anyone who hustles me doesn't deserve to get back his losses." Jack crossed his arms over his chest, put his feet up on the table and took another swig of beer. "But anyway, we've got more important stuff to discuss. Get your stuff together and head up to the room," he directed the two others, who obeyed quickly, surprising Jack.
"Whatever you say, fearless leader," Sarah grinned at him and started up the stairs, with Aragorn in tow. Jack pondered that for a minute. Fearless leader, huh? He knew that fearless leader was the title that they had playfully given Sean. I never really thought about myself being in charge. I wondered if Sean would have wanted it this way? That forced him to think about Sean though, and how much he wanted to get home. Was his home even there anymore? All his family, all the people he loved, did the beast Sean called 'Lavos' kill them all too? He heard Sean's voice in his head, repeating his last words, "you are one of 'hope' Jack, you must survive to find the 'truth.' You must seek out the boy Cro." What did it mean? Who was this boy Cro? Or was that all Sean could managed to say, was there more to this mystery? Jacks head was filled with the image of Sean's battered body, and then the voice that mocked him as he failed to even scratch the beast. Tired of viewing pain, he decided to head upstairs and discuss their next move, it was already past midnight, they would find this Lucca girl in the morning.
-Elsewhere in the same time- (I might start jumping around now so expect the time labels from now one)
"Yes sir master, I's saw 'dem, I's saw 'dem wit' my very own two eyes," the little mystic said to his superior. It was obvious that he was doing whatever he could not to aggravate the large behemoth of a creature that he had to report to. Keltar was known to take his anger out on his subordinates. "Dey's was usin' swords 'dat was made of magic!"
"Magic you say?" the large mystic that was called Keltar pondered the thought for a second. At nearly seven feet tall, he was a mammoth among the small mystics running around him in the Denadoro camp. He had scaly blue skin and beady black eyes that look out of proportion to his large head. He was fingering the grip of a two handed sword that was slung at his belt. "And how do you know such things about magic and these swords?"
"I's told you's already sir. I's seen da magic swords, dey's was glowin' in da forest where's I's saw 'dem." The little mystic tried to explain it quickly so he could get as far away from Keltar as possible. "Dey's is swords made of magic!" Keltar just stared at the mystic for awhile until he turned and left, cape billowing in the light breeze. "Probably gonna take da credit fo' 'imself," the mystic muttered under his breath. As quickly as it was said, Keltar spun around and at some point in the spin, he managed to throw a small knife at the little mystic. The crowd around the area all turned to watch in silence as the little mystic dropped dead, knife between the eyes, as Keltar turned around and kept walking.
Keltar walked at a quick pace, he would tell Ozzie, no, Magus himself of this new development. All he had to do was arrange a plan to capture these magic swords, find what makes them tick before the humans make more of them, and then bring his prize forth to Magus himself. No more serving under Ozzie, oh yes, wouldn't his dear brother be surprised when he gets promoted. All he had to do now was arrange the plans.
Same Time, Truce Village
Jack made his way into the large room with Sarah and Aragorn already waiting for him, as expected. There were three beds against one wall and a table with three chairs in the center of the room. It was adequately furnished for the seventh century, so no complaints could be found. He took a seat in one of the chairs, the only one unoccupied by his companions.
"So where the hell is this Lucca person?" Jack asked, is a surprisingly clear voice considering the amount of alcohol that he had drank that night. To both of the others surprise, he didn't appear even slightly drunk.
"I don't know," Sarah pondered, "might she be traveling, possible camped out somewhere on the road?"
"It could also be possible that she's still at the castle," Aragorn suggested. "If she truly had business there, the King might have given her a quarters, depending on what she was going there for."
"I don't know," Jack propped his feet up on the table. "I guess that leaves us with the only option of waiting here, and waiting really isn't my cup of tea. There's got to be something we could do to find her."
"Not likely," Sarah said, "I think…" she paused, and put her hands by her temples as she cringed with a shock of pain. "God damn headaches…" she browsed through some pockets until she found some painkillers and swallowed them dry.
"Are you okay?" Jack said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "I thought you kicked those things."
"Yeah," she said, "I haven't had any since we got here. I'm just happy we had some painkiller. Anyway, I was saying that our best bet would be to play it safe and at least wait in town for a few days. We don't have anything else to do right? And, maybe while we're not doing anything, we can find someplace to take a bath." Aragorn decided it was time to speak.
"Actually," the knight said, "if we don't have anything better to do, can I ask a few questions? Like, what are those weapons that you used in the forest. I've never seen a blade like it before."
"That's because technically, they can't exist. It's based on…" Jack to start to explain but he was soon cut off by Sarah.
"Actually, that's one of the problems I had to talk to you about Jack," she said, grabbing her TAG off her belt and putting it on the table. "These things are running low on power."
"Oh shit, that's right," Jack muttered. "The tritanium core has to be constantly charged. I forgot about that." He grabbed his TAG and put it on the table with Sarah's. "I guess we should pick up some local weapons tomorrow, for the time being anyway. Aragorn, can you recommend a good weapons store?"
"Can I?" Aragorn said with a smirk. "I'll show you the best weapons store in Truce tomorrow, after breakfast, of course."
"Great, that's good because at the low power levels these things are at, a normal sword would be just as good." Jack said. "Now that one problems out of the way, getting back to how the TAG's work. Sarah, do you want to start?"
"Yeah, why not," she said, picking her TAG up to use as a model. "I'll cover the confusing part better than you anyway, you'll just end up confusing all of us with your weird physics crap." She smirked. Jack opened his mouth to say something, but Sarah started to talk before he could get a chance. "Basically, what you saw when we turned these on is a projection of a special type of wave called an arc wave. Now, as Jack was about to say, arc waves should be able to exist, and in nature, they don't, but instead, they were synthesized in a lab. The entire concept is based upon the use of a substance called tritanium. The tritanium is kept in the lower portion of the handle," she motioned to part of the TAG, "and serves two purposes."
"I'll cover this," Jack jumped in. "When kept charged, the tritanium produces charged molecules possess odd properties in the ways the electrons are arranged. It also acts as a battery for a mechanism that sits just above the tritanium core. The charged molecules are channeled into that mechanism and are spun around really fast. Once they reach a specific rate of spinning, they are sent through the next part of the system, a small crystal, that when cut in a certain shape, can send the energy through a series of stabilizers, creating the arc wave." Sarah decided to step back in, even though Aragorn looked like he was totally lost.
"The crystal is the most important part, if it's not cut in the exact right shape, the arc wave doesn't come together and the TAG can't work. The color of the crystal also corresponds to the color of the blade. Further more, the molecular structure of the crystal determines the resonation of the arc waves, therefore determining the power of the blade. Our blades are actually only about as powerful as a sword."
"I think I get the general idea," Aragorn said, scratching his head. "But, does that mean you still use swords in your time?"
"Not quiet," Jack said. "The ones that SSAF uses in real combat use different crystals for more powerful blades. Also, the most common weapon in our time is a gun, and with the trained use of Force Tech, you can use the TAG's to block bullets, essentially incinerating the bullets in the intense heat existing in the blade. They also make handy locksmiths for opening up sealed doors and stuff like that."
"Anyway," Sarah said, "the arc waves get sort of split up and refracted back onto themselves inside of the crystal. When they leave the handle, they're angled so that they spiral around each other, keeping the others in check. Finally, as the impulse gets weaker near the end of the blade, they just kind of die out, creating the tip of the blade."
"Did you get all that?" Jack asked Aragorn.
"You people talk way to much," he said, looking puzzled. "I'm starting to wish I hadn't asked. I'll just let you do what you do with those things and not worry about how they work. Now, what's next on the list?" Jack stood up and put his TAG on the stand next to his designated bed. Since he was he last one to go up to the room, he got last choice on beds, leaving him with the smallest one. He turned to Aragorn.
"Sleep," he said bluntly. "It's almost two in the morning, and I'm exhausted. Let's just to bed."
"I'm all for that," Sarah put in walked over to her bed, which happened to be the biggest (ironically for the smallest of the three), and collapsed with he face in the pillow. "Just turn off the light when you decide to go to bed." Jack jumped on his bed, landing in sleeping position and then blew out the candle on his bed stand. Aragorn did likewise and the room went dark.
The unseen forces moved swiftly through the night until they came to their targeted destination. Intelligence forces had been positive that the holders of the magic swords were staying at an inn on the eastern side of Truce. After silently entering the Shanghai Inn through an open window on the ground floor, the crept up the stairs. Jack was the first to notice as he snapped awake to the barley audible noises coming from outside the room.
"Who's there?" he asked to anyone who was listening. Sarah and Aragorn were both sound asleep. Quietly Jack climbed out of the bed sheets and crept towards the door but was knocked back when the door swung open, hitting him in the head.
"Hey!" he said as the room started to fill with shadows. "What's the big idea?!" He quickly leapt to his feet. "I'll show you not to try that again." He started to glow a dull green but the glow quickly subsided as a dart hit him in the neck. He grabbed at and pulled it out but the weapon had already taken its effect. Collapsing to the floor, Jack felt one of his assailants pick him up as he saw others going towards Sarah and Aragorn, just as his vision faded and he lost consciousness. Without saying a word, the kidnappers fled the room, baggage in tow, to proclaim a successful mission to their masters.
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