Thursday, May 17, 2018

Blue Nexus #86 - Men of Yesteryear

Previously on "Blue Nexus": Kyle met an alien girl named Ven while defending her from an anti-alien task force at school. He was forfeited from attending any major school events, despite having asked her to prom. Still, they've remained close since then. At the same time, Kyle's responsibilities with the Zanderia continue to increase, with threats constantly escalating. 

            The Zanderia Moon base’s central meeting area had expanded due to recent acquisitions of the team, as well as some resources that Riko managed to secure following a mission to the far reaches of some southern galaxy. Apparently he had a cousin that was royalty out there or something, and was able to hook them up with a sweet deal on a fresh set of monitors and security equipment, one that didn’t rely so much on surveillance of individual people but applied some kind of algorithm to assess a situation in progress, rather than one that’d already happened.
            Kyle didn’t really get it until he saw it in action, where a couple of maniacs were rumored to have some kind of a weapon. Riko went to investigate, and while it turned out to be nothing, at least they were there to see it through in the first place.
            The monitors blinked through various monitors and screens while Kyle sat at the computer screen alongside Phoenix, who had his head braced against the resting place near the keyboard. They were the only ones in there. Kyle didn’t have his Nexus energy activated around him, since it was so much easier to see something in front of him without an aura to bug him.
            Kyle’s eyes fell to his phone, where he had zero reception, but accidentally forgot to leave it back on Earth. He watched the battery percentage tick down, and he stared at the text message from Ven, one he wasn’t able to respond to even if he tried. Or, if he did, he would totally expose the Zanderia’s communication waves to whatever company was spying on Kyle’s phone.
            “Yeah, I’ll be in that area around eight, I can meet you there!”
            Kyle smiled, but it was a dry smile. Meeting Ven at the park seemed less and less feasible. They weren’t meeting for anything serious, just to catch up after a long day of school. Kyle figured that they should get to know each other a little better after both he saved her life and then proposed they go to prom together, regardless of it was in the heat of the moment. Still, they were picture-dates at least.
            Kyle leaned back in the seat. Phoenix glanced over at one of his screens.
            “You actually paying attention or are you thinking of what you want to text back?” he asked.
            “I can’t do both?” Kyle asked, his eyes falling to a drone that Red Sun had thrown up over Los Angeles. Kyle flicked his wrist and it returned to a view of the globe, with what looked like heat signatures indicating the level of criminal activity going on, and to what extent. Phoenix moved to the communicator when something lit up in the Mediterranean Sea.
            “Prism, you there?” he asked, and then touched his earpiece and the conversation shifted to a private one.
            Kyle eased back and kept an eye on the rotating globe, focusing in particular where his hometown was. He strummed his fingers along his seat and the globe rotated to show the Western portion of the United States.
            Phoenix’s voice lowered. Kyle opened his mouth to ask a question, but stopped. Phoenix instead glanced to the one showing a multitude of planets and several icons indicating where other members of the Zanderia were. Brenda was off planet, Kyle noticed, but Sandy wasn’t. He looked to the globe, where there would be far more icons to keep track of. Where was she? Brenda seemed to know, but, for all he knew, one moment she could be in Japan, and the next, somewhere in Hawai’i.
            “Listen, you don’t have to take monitor duty so seriously,” Phoenix said. “You can walk around and stuff. Sound notifications are instant, and none of this is going anywhere.”
            “It’s nice to sit for a little after practice,” Kyle said.
            “Oh, right, lacrosse,” Phoenix said. “How’s that going?”
            “Pretty well, we won our preseason tournament,” Kyle said. “We’ll probably make the playoffs this season. Made them last season, but, it was a little tough to focus on all of that after what happened with Black Nexus.”
            “Damn, it’s been a full year you’ve been with us, hasn’t it?” Phoenix asked. “Man, I almost forgot.”
            “Over a year, yeah,” Kyle said. “And I still have the same phone.”
            “Same,” Phoenix said. “A flip phone.”
            “You have a flip-phone?” Kyle asked.
            “Yup,” Phoenix said. “I don’t really have time for anything else.”
            “What do you do when you’re not out being a superhero?”
            Phoenix grin. “I chaperone proms. Not that you would know.”
            Kyle rolled his eyes, and Phoenix chuckled. The Zanderia got quick wind of what Kyle did in order to help Ven and despite Phoenix even trying to plead with his principal, she wouldn’t budge. So, some of them messed with him. Most of the aliens didn’t really get it, since they had gatherings that were quite unlike prom, and some members of the Zanderia didn’t really have a school dance back where they were from. Prism, Phoenix, and the Sentinel, though?
            The only one that didn’t seem to care was Brother Time, but his level of apathy toward most things was astounding. Eclipse wasn’t around enough for Kyle to notice, but he often asked how his week or day had been going and made an effort to empathize with the Zanderia heroes. Brother Time was no doubt still strained from the Dark Soul incident, and just the general fluctuations the power dynamic of the world that’d occurred over the last year.
            “You guys dating or what?” Phoenix asked.
            “I, we, I mean, I barely see her,” Kyle said. “We see each other at school sometimes.”
            “Are you tongue-tied?” Phoenix asked. “Is this a crush?”
            Kyle shrugged. He really couldn’t answer. He liked being with Ven, and she seemed to reciprocate the feelings, but, neither flirted with the other all that much. Or, quite probably, Kyle just couldn’t notice it.
            “Listen, much as I appreciate you being up here, all of us do want you to have a social life,” Phoenix said. “Don’t let her pass you up, or don’t pass her up. Got it?”
            “Yeah, I hear you,” Kyle said. He scratched his chin and looked to the globe that rotated by the Eastern seaboard again. Kyle tapped his wrist against the computer desk, and stood.
            “Hey Phoenix do you mind if I—”
            Kyle got immediately cut off, though, by a low alarm that pinged from California. Phoenix sat up, and Kyle stood straight up.
            “Pacific City?” Kyle asked.
            Phoenix shook his head. “San Fransisco. What the hell is going on there?”
            “A disturbance.”
            Both Kyle and Phoenix nearly jumped out of their skin. Kyle managed to let out a breath when he saw the familiar garb and face of Brother Time entering from some kind of vortex. He had a bit of a casual spin on his usual attire, but his serious expression looked same as ever.
            “We have a door,” Phoenix said.       
            “It’s way more convenient for me to come in through my own door,” Brother Time said. He gestured to the screen. “Computer A14. Enhance alarm.”
            The image magnified down to San Francisco, not taking a moment to load up and reveal four strangely dressed, burly men milling about the San Francisco suburbs. They each had matching, wide hats upon their heads and long sleeve shirts, tattered up, with jeans. All of them, too, seemed quite perplexed and quite dirty.
            “They’re the disturbance?” Kyle asked. “We’re sure they aren’t just a few drunk dudes that aren’t supposed to be in that part of town?”
            “Designate location of disturbance,” Brother Time requested to the computer.
            The computer did so, revealing part of the port leading into the San Francisco bay. A large rock formation had been opened up, just so that a few people could either enter or exit.
            "I'll take a look into it," Brother Time said. "I'll go down and talk to them directly."
"You sure you don't just want to go to the source?" Phoenix asked, and Brother Time shook his head no.
"I'll be able to gleam more information from them this way," the time-wanderer said. "I'll report back as soon as I can."
"Well, Kyle, guess you're on call, then," Phoenix said when Brother Time dissipated from teleportation. He reappeared on-screen by the odd-looking men.
"Does that mean I have a few minutes to go back home and talk to someone super quick?" Kyle asked.
"Talk, or hang out?" Phoenix asked.
Kyle gritted his teeth and gave him a cautiously optimistic grin. "Yes?"
"Go, hurry up," Phoenix said, and leaned over to begin the teleportation process. "But we'll need you in San Fran at any second."
"Right," Kyle said, and felt tingles crawl all over his body. A bright light flashed and the tingles stopped when his bum touched down on the ground, and he looked around to his surroundings.
He stood in another flash. Ven, wearing jogging shorts and a cut-off shirt, raised a perplexed eyebrow. She was morphed into her human visage, one that hid some of her more alien qualities. Her expression softened when her eyes settled on him and she morphed into her actual form. Kyle smiled.
"Hey, what's up?" he asked, brushing himself off.
"What's up with you, you literally just showed up out of nowhere," Ven said. she slid her phone into a little pouch on her arm, then removed her wireless earbuds.
"I ran here," Kyle said, feigning breathlessness.
"I know," Ven said. "But you..."
"What, you think I teleported?" Kyle asked.
"Not really," Ven said. She leaned back, against a swingset. The park was empty save for the two of them. Nightfall began in Adelita, and the sky transformed to its darkened state. The stars weren't out quite yet. Kyle felt the weight of his Zanderia communicator when he saw the Moon through some thin clouds. "Not unless that Demon magic or whatever lets you teleport."
"Reality and Deception magic lets you do that, I think," Kyle said, speaking fast. "I think."
"You know," Ven said.
Kyle blushed. "Yeah."
"Who told you?" Ven asked.
Kyle looked to the stars once again. "A woman, one that tried recruiting Andreus. It's the reason we fought."
"I remember that," Ven said. Her voice was soft, for some reason, as if it were some somber memory for her.
"Yeah that sucked," Kyle said.
"Even if you won?"
"Even though I won. Guess you didn't hear about that guy, the Combat mage, that came by and kicked my ass up and down the gym hallway?"
"Yeah, nobody mentioned that."
"Wasn't my shining moment."
Ven laughed. "I mean, I did get to see those weird government guys throw you around. Was it basically like that?"
"No! Those guys were chumps."
"Chumps? For real?"
Kyle bit his lip. "Sorry, I get a little excited sometimes."
"Yeah, your ego starts to show a bit."
Kyle rolled his eyes, then lulled his head to look at Ven, who just laughed again. Her voice made him laugh as well; not because it was funny, but because he just couldn't help it around her. He tried sucking in a breath to control himself, but the laughter burst free again, although this time from just sheer joy.
Ven smiled back at him and crossed her arms, managing to control herself a bit more than he. She shook her head. "Ah, you're such a weirdo."
"I'm the weird one?"
"Yes, you, magic-man."
Kyle raised his eyebrow and Ven blushed, but just shook her head. "None of that. But see? Weird! You're weird!"
"Oh, gosh. Pictures with you is going to be a nightmare."
"Yeah, imagine if you were actually taking me to this dance."
Kyle fell silent for a moment. "Yeah, imagine that." Before Ven could say anything apologetic, Kyle spoke up, "But look, I'm just glad you can go in general. It'll be fun, I know you're going to have a blast."
"But this is your prom, this only happens once!" Ven exclaimed.
"So does meeting someone like you."
A hush befell them, and Kyle's stomach did a backflip. Ven froze, too.
The pocket with the Zanderia communicator buzzed and his phone went off as well. Kyle snapped to attention and slammed his hand on the communicator, looking to his phone as well, checking the time.
"Shoot, I have to go."
"You serious?"
"I'll call you in a few hours, this...this is serious, Ven. It's my friend, he's on the way to the hospital, I asked for his parents to let me know when he got there."
She hesitated but nodded, and Kyle took off. He shook his way until he was out of eyesight from her, and still didn't swipe his hand over the Nexus bracelet.
"Teleport me there," he said into the communicator and stopped when he felt the familiar tingles running all over his body. Kyle shut his eyes and could only see Ven's shocked expression staring right back at him. His heart and stomach sank and a blinding light removed him from Adelita, and into the faint light of day.
Kyle braced himself on the ground and took in a look of his new surroundings. Tall two-story buildings surrounded him on both sides, sloping down toward a massive body of water with a big town at the end of the road. Ah, San Fran. He made it.
He tapped his earpiece. "Where's Brother Time?"
"Head by the bay, he's with the miners."
"Miners? Seems like I missed a lot."
"Yeah. Yeah you did. And we might be missing a lot more if my wild imagination is gonna come true."
"Then stop imagining bad things."
Kyle took one look around, darted for a tree, and while he passed behind its trunk, with nobody around, swiped his fingers over the Nexus bracelet and burst toward the scene. He maintained a reasonably low altitude until he spotted the four men all hanging out by the edge of the bay with Brother Time, who was in his true, reaper-like outfit, the same one his father used to wear.
Kyle broke free of his flight and touched down on the edge of the pier, where they were. Some small boats were loaded up along the pier.
The bay was absolutely massive. The Golden Gate Bridge seemed like little more than a thin line against it. How big was this city? East city was quite large, by Kyle's standards.
The waters were quiet all around, save for the boats milling about it. Some people walked about but none of them seemed to notice the two superheroes and four strange-looking men. They glanced out to the bay as well, particularly to a rock formation that'd formed as a seawall over time. A small crevice had been carved into the rocks, possibly by themselves. It was the same that was on the monitor image from before.
Brother Time turned and nodded to Kyle. One of the miners, the best dressed of the bunch, turned. He held out a large hand.
"You is the friend, yeah?" he asked. His voice had a definite twang to it. Kyle gripped his hand.
"Sure am," Kyle said.
"Wallace's what they called me," the miner said. "My friends." He gestured to the others, captivated by the rock formation. "Pretty darn tired of this place."
"This place?" Kyle asked. "Where're you from?"
"Here," Wallace said. "That the scary thing. That and..."
"And what brought them here," Brother Time said. "He hasn't come out yet, but I fear these men had an encounter with a Starlan."
"A Starlan?"
"A being born of pure stardust, pure cosmic energy, one that floated beyond the constructs of time and thought," Brother Time said. "One of my kin."
"Wait a second, what? How could these dudes wake that thing up?"
"We are dudes?" Wallace asked.
Brother Time shook his head to Wallace, who nodded knowingly. "This temporal energy stems from about one hundred and seventy years ago. These men were gold diggers in their time." Brother Time gestured at the bunch. "And they came across a Starlan nesting place."
"It was resting in gold?"
"It was resting in the mines, deep below the Earth," Brother Time said. "I would show you, but it would appear that we wouldn't need to wait long for the Starlan to arrive."
"Why's that?"
"The Starlan sent them forward in time, to the time when it would awaken to properly deal with its intruders," Brother Time said. "Once it wakes, it shall not sleep again until it finds another proper resting place."
"So we find it a nice bed at the bottom of the ocean, right?" Kyle asked.
"I would like to see you convince it," Brother Time said. "Our only better option is to return these men to their proper place in history. Only I can do that, but it will cause serious strain on myself."
"Anything I can do to help?" Kyle asked.
"You are the only one that can help," Brother Time said. "Your Nexus energy is similar if a little older, than we Starlan. You'll be able to communicate with it. Combatting this monster is futile, it is living energy given mass and shape. Its form shifts given the beholder; Blue Nexus, this is not a fight you can win, only a fight you can survive should it come to that."
"I'll try to talk smoothly to it, then," Kyle said, and saw Ven in his mind's eye. Oh, yeah, great idea. "How long will you be gone?"
"It's difficult to say," Brother Time said. "When I leave, the Starlan will awaken, sensing a temporal shift at play. Everything, then, falls to you."
"So, no pressure," Kyle said.
"You am troubled, boy?" Wallace asked.
"Not yet, apparently," Kyle said, loosening himself up. "You boys just make sure to get home safe, alright? Don't go bugging any more cosmic horrors."
Wallace nodded, and clapped Kyle on the shoulder. "No fear. Adventures still wait, and gold still waits."
"We can certainly hope so," Kyle said. He and Brother Time shared a glance, both of weary expectation, then Brother Time held things in place around the five of them. Wallace, in what time was left, tipped his hat toward Kyle, who just tugged on the cowl of his hood before they blinked out of existence.
Kyle took that moment to blast into the sky, raising his aura around him, and hover over that small inlet they'd been hanging out in. He eyed the crevice the miners crawled out of, watching, waiting. The Starlan would appear any second...
A massive shadow towered from behind him, and ice ran through his veins. It seemed to shift as it swayed and rose until it consumed the entire portion of the city that was near this inlet. Kyle turned in the air, rotating, and bringing his eyes up to the massive body of the Starlan.
He could only see it through the lens of his aura; any flickers in the ether and he saw nothing but a wild mess of shapes and colors, some of which Kyle had never seen. The Nexus filtered the Starlan's appearance into a five-armed creature glowing with irradiant light, with little skin and a wavering form. It didn't appear to have any legs, so it either floated underwater or floated above water. The Starlan had seven eyes of different colors: gold, blue, red, purple, black, silver, green. The eyes spun, examining the surroundings.
A plume of smoke rose from the crevice at the monster's bottom and shrouded the beast in some sort of mist until the Starlan banished it away and an aura wafted around it.
Kyle's instincts took over and he flared his aura around him.
The voice, translated through the Nexus, didn't speak to Kyle's mind, but rather his soul. That noise reverberated throughout his entire body, and it transformed to fear. Kyle almost lost control of his power and plummeted to the ground.
"THIS WORLD YOU CLING TO SHALL FALL BEFORE MY AWAKENING. BEHOLD MY POWER AND FEAR." The Starlan said his name, but the Nexus couldn't translate it beyond just a menagerie of sounds even Kyle's mind could not comprehend. The Starlan raised its hands and all seven eyes glowed. Kyle's body pulsed and he wanted to move but couldn't.
Kyle didn't even realize he was falling until he was halfway down the bay. He blinked and crashed to the bottom of the sea. He tried to stand but couldn't, under the sheer weight of the monster's presence. Kyle stole a look at the Starlan's legs and saw that it wasn't floating at all: it's form was embedded in the world, and it seemed to be growing from it, as if a tree gaining energy from its roots. He heard a boom from around him and the ground opened up beneath him. Thousands of lights and colors filled his vision once again, and everything within him began to sway and shift. Kyle anchored himself and enhanced his aura, but the uneasiness of it all made it difficult to focus.
And each time he did try to focus, all he saw was Ven's shocked expression. No! Why now? It was so meaningless, wasn't it? She and he were just two people in the cosmos, a cosmos ruled by monsters like the Starlan. The lights swirled and began to consume Kyle. He resisted, and felt some invisible, ethereal hand grab him and fling him up.
Water plunged from all around him and Kyle tried to keep control of the Nexus, but even it wavered in the presence of the Starlan.
"YOU HOLD THE BEFORE ENERGY." The Starlan's grip tightened, but Kyle couldn't even see what it was gripping with. His aura faded around him, and the Starlan turned to floating dust in the sky. "BUT YOUR INFANT HEART AND SOUL CANNOT CONTAIN IT. INFANT! KNOW TRUE POWER. KNOW TRUE ANGER. NEVER AWAKEN ME, FOR YOU SHALL FORSAKE THIS WORLD. I AM BEFORE MAGIC, BEFORE SCIENCE. I AM OF COSMIC TIME, A TIME BEYOND WHICH NO INFANT CAN UNDERSTAND."
Kyle fell through the sky, his energy drained, or just hidden from him. He heard the wind whipping all around him, the flapping of his cloak. He wasn't breathing. His eyes remained open, but locked on the beast before him.
Beast? No. This thing was something far beyond a monster. It simply *was*.
Kyle hit the water, still protected by his strength from the Nexus, and felt himself drawing in toward the lights below. His eyes finally closed, or was that the darkness of the water consuming him?
He touched the base of the bay and his body lay flat. Myriad shapes and forms floated around him. Time itself consumed the San Francisco Bay, as it would soon the world. The Starlan stood, untested. Kyle tried to see it, tried to conceive of it, but was blocked by one thing, and just one thing:
What had she wanted to say? What could she say, after Kyle just opened himself up like that? Thoughts clashed in his head. Now was not the time for that! Everyone would die if he kept thinking about her. But why was she the constant? Why was she there, among the horrors the Starlan projected, among the horrors Kyle and the world could not conceive of?
"Ven," Kyle muttered. He closed his eyes. There, too, in his mind's eye, was Aequitas. Brenda. Sandy. Kip. Luke. Kyle clenched his fist. What was this? Why could he see them, and not the monster? Not the Starlan?
He gasped a breath. No, he knew. He knew exactly why.
"Get up, boy!"
Aequitas stood next to him, his form ethereal, the world warm.
"Get up and face this monster," Aequitas said. "You'd throw the lives of your friends away?"
Two other appeared in Kyle's mind's eye, and Kyle's power magnified. "The people you love are out there depending on you. You only need a few more moments. Hold out."
The two forms exploded into definite blue light and Kyle's aura intensified around him. Kyle shut his eyes and concentrated on the power within him, then let it run free, allowing the bay to glow the Nexus blue just before he burst free of the water.
His Wave 2 aura allowed him to see the Starlan perfectly as it continued to grow and cast its shadow over more than just San Francisco. Kyle couldn't have been more of an ant to the thing, now.
"I can't die yet," Kyle said. "I have to find out what she wanted to say. I will find out."
"Doesn't matter!" Kyle said. "I'll be the one to put you back to sleep, too!"
He blasted through the sky, moving with the speed he would through outer space, and blasted against the Starlan. The cosmic entity was surprisingly light, but did not tear from its place on the Earth. still, the Nexus energy seared into it, and two flashes of blue light appeared upon its chest. Kyle unleashed energy at it, but the bolts stopped and Kyle was flung back toward the ground.
He increased the magnitude of his aura around him and held steady just before he hit the ground. The Starlan's five arms coalesced into one and a ball of energy started to form in its hands. Kyle held his hand out and his spear formed in his hand. He lanced it across the sky, watching as a straight blue line sliced through the air and straight through the ball of energy. The Starlan then held its hands out and tried to stop time itself, but Kyle's Wave 2 form generated enough Nexus energy to displace him from even that.
"Funny," Kyle said. "Same could be said to you!"
Blue lightning arced off of Kyle's aura as he blasted across the sky. He held his fist back, generating more energy than he ever had in his single fist. Aequitas would probably be proud of it. This would be enough, too, to hold off the Starlan until Brother Time returned.
"Let's find out!"
Kyle unleashed the energy upon the Starlan, and a blue explosion erupted between them, but also caught Kyle up in it. Time and space itself warped between them, like it were some sort of a wormhole. Kyle held steady, blasting his energy as much as possible while the Starlan cried out in pain.
He had no idea how long that lasted for; it could have been seconds, or it could have been hours. When the explosion stopped and the tear sealed itself, Kyle felt a pair of hands brace against his back, and his Nexus bracelet slid from his wrist down to his fingertips.
"You did well," Brother Time said. Kyle's eyes opened, and he saw, just over Brother Time's head, that the myriad colors and shapes was still there, strong as ever.
A series of sounds and feelings welled within Kyle. They were oddly familiar,, could it be the Starlan, speaking?
Brother Time lowered Kyle to the ground, which was surprisingly even after the explosion, and placed him gently on the ground. He then whipped around and faced the Starlan, which disoriented Kyle's view of the sky enough to confuse Kyle where it stopped and where it ended. Brother Time reached behind his back and pulled free a small dagger. He sliced through the air with it, creating another display of lights and shapes.
"STARLAN OF EARTH," Brother Time said, in English and to speak directly to the beast. "I AM STARLAN OF HUMANITY. YOU SHALL FIND SOLACE WITH ME."
The world shook around Kyle and anger rushed through his body, but he was too weak to move. He clutched the bracelet in his hand, but it did not activate.
More anger, and the colors barrelled down upon them. Brother Time, Kyle heard, sighed and then ripped another cut through space-time, but this one made an "X" with the other. Brother Time then punched through it, and the "X" expanded toward the flourish of lights. Kyle could only watch as the world between what was the Starlan and whatever Brother Time did warped and bent in on itself. Blood poured from his nose and mouth and he momentarily went blind before thing settled back to normal, and the crevice in the rocks sealed up, holding back a tiny rumble and explosion beneath the ground.
The air hissed once and then hushed, allowing the world to settle to a normal state where seagulls called out to one another overhead and the waters gently brushed against the seawall.
"What the hell just happened?" Kyle asked.

"Well, you effectively broke the universe there for a second, so that's interesting," Phoenix said, though his voice was different. His eyes, too, were cloudy: the tell-tale sign of an Eclipse in the brain. "These readings you two put off are nothing short of astounding." He turned to Kyle. "Did you notice the black hole you momentarily created, and then *blocked* access to?"
"Yup," Kyle said. He gestured at the colorless bracelet on his wrist. "It's also what completely drained this thing."
"How long will it be out of commission?" Eclipse/Phoenix asked.
"No idea," Kyle said. "It's never happened before."
Brother Time stepped forward. "Killing the Starlan was one accomplishment, yes, but I fear we still are not done with all of this."
"How so?" Eclipse/Phoenix asked.
"A Starlan awakens by either its own volition or by some sort of shifting in the cosmic scales in its environment," Brother Time said.
"I believe we've caused enough problems on Earth, what with the Magus War and Dark Soul incident."
Kyle shook his head. "It really only seemed to recognize the Nexus energy."
"So, what are you saying?" Eclipse/ Phoenix asked.
"That there is a being headed for Earth soon that has equivalent power," Brother Time said. "We would know if it were here. Blue Nexus would know for certain, but, there are only two forces in the universe that have this sort of power. A Nexus wielder..."
"Or a War God," Kyle said.
"Likely, the Starlan awoke anticipating a battle against the War God and wanted to gain power to stand against it," Brother Time said. "And you saw what it took to defeat it. Not even a black hole was enough."
Eclipse/Phoenix nodded. "We'll continue to study the readings. Brother Time, if you don't mind staying, I'd like to look over these with you and Riko when he arrives. Blue Nexus you're more than welcome to stay."
"No thank you," Kyle said, smiling. "I have to be somewhere, if you wouldn't mind teleporting me."
Eclipse/Phoenix nodded and waved Kyle off. The tingles ran over his body and in a blink he was back in the park, alone, night having fully settled in. The park, however, was not empty.
Instead, three kids stood idly by the swingset, frozen in place, gawking at Kyle. Kyle blinked. The four of them stood in abject confusion before Kyle simply said,
"Surprise. I'm a mage?"
One of the kids just took out a smartphone, raised it up, and Kyle dashed away before the picture could be snapped. Kyle grunted and let his Demon magic flow and coat him in shadow. He dove between a pair of houses and let the kids run by.
Kyle, once the kids were gone, took out his own phone and checked it for messages. There were none there. His heart sank a bit, but he steeled himself and went to his latest text from Ven, and hit the Call button. He gulped.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
"Hi, this is—"
Kyle groaned through the voicemail. "Come on, Ven." He waited for the beep, then said, "I'm sorry for running out on you, and, I need to meet with you again. I really do. If you can't, that's okay, but, just...please, Ven. I need you this time. Meet me at the school."
Adelita at night was quite peaceful. Kyle had forgotten the simple sounds of the town as cars rolled by and people talked amongst themselves while out for a nighttime stroll or to walk their dogs. Kyle had his hands in his pocket, occasionally eyeing the dead Nexus bracelet on his wrist, while he moved toward the school. His right hand clamped hopelessly to the phone in his pocket.
He reached the front gates of the school, marred in shadow, and sat upon a bench, and waited. He rested his back on the lonely metal and sat through the dreadful silence that permeated his surroundings.
Exhaustion finally caught up with him. He held a loose grip on his phone and each time it almost slipped free of his fingers he would flinch, wake up, and be alert. This happened twice more before a familiar chuckle echoed around the hallow entryway to Adelita High School.
"Long night, huh?"
Kyle got to his feet, sliding his phone in his pocket. ven approached in sweats and a long-sleeve shirt. It was a relatively warm spring evening. Her hair was down, and dark. This was her, truly her. Kyle approached, sweaty, bruised, beaten, but elated.
They stood apart from one another. Ven stopped before he did, prompting him to match her. her hands were at her side and Kyle's were trembling.
"Ven, I...I'm sorry," Kyle said. "I shouldn't have treated you like that."
She said nothing. Did he expect her to?
He opened his mouth, but, what could he say? I had to leave to go fight an ancient cosmic horror that was trying to fight off a being beyond any of our understanding that has more than enough strength to muscle through a black hole? I had to leave to go be a superhero?
"Tonight, I almost died," Kyle said.
He couldn't get another word out before Ven flung herself at him and embraced him. "I'm so sorry, are you okay?"
Kyle felt tears welling in his eyes and he wrapped his arms around her, squeezing her hair pretty tight. The exhaustion hit him again and he dropped to his knees, but she escorted him to the ground. He braced himself and couldn't meet her eyes while she looked at him, confused, worried.
"I almost died, and at first, all I could think was how I just left you there," Kyle said. "That alone almost killed me."
"Oh my gods," she muttered. "Kyle, I swear, I didn't...I can't believe I would've gotten you killed. That's so messed up. Why would you even say that?'
"Because I had to see you, and that's what kept me alive," he said, closing his fists on trembling hands. "It wasn't you that almost killed me, it was doubt. You know what kept me alive? This conversation, right here. Getting to talk to, facing fear. God, this is dumb."
"No, it's so cheesy," Ven said, and let out a small chuckle. Kyle raised his head and she was on him before he knew it. Her lips met his and they were in each other's arms. Kyle leaned back and braced them against the bench.
His mind melted for the second time that day, but this time, he gladly let it. Their fingers interlocked and Kyle let his whole body just relax in her arms. He sighed when they parted, but Ven kept her head tapped against his.
"My first Earth kiss," she said. "That was pretty awesome."
"Thank you," Kyle said, though not for the reason she, or even he, thought. "But now it really sucks that I can't go to prom."
"Your fault," Ven said, and leaned into him again, kissing him once more.

Kyle shut his eyes and while his vision turned to darkness, he felt his body and soul alight once more in Ven's presence. He could get used to something like this.

Next time: Kyle and Ven explore their relationship a bit more as lacrosse season begins in earnest. And with the Nexus bracelet disabled, there can't be any villain interruptions..right? Find out in "Blue Nexus #87 - A Toxic Relationship"!

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