Damn! I missed her again! John cursed his bad luck. The President of the Drama Club had stopped him again and he couldn’t catch Jessica as she left the meeting. I don’t know when this girl will get the hint that I don’t like her.
Stacy had been trying to get John’s attention ever since he had joined the Club and it was becoming difficult for John to slow down her advances with each passing day. John quickly exited the building, trying to avoid getting noticed by Stacy.
He took the route Jessica had taken, knowing that if he hurried, he may be able to catch up to her. As luck would have it, he saw her walking a few hundred yards ahead of him. It took him not more than three steps to realize that she wasn’t walking and was rather talking to someone. He couldn’t see the person she was talking to, but could understand that she was agitated at something. Quickening his pace a bit too late, John watched in horror as Jessica fell to the ground.
“Jessica!” John broke out into a full sprint and reached the place where she had fallen. He looked all around, trying to spot the person with whom she was arguing. Seeing no one, John knelt down to have a closer look at Jessica and was relieved to find that she was breathing. He nudged her, trying in vain to get her around.
All his ministrations unsuccessful, John rushed to a nearby fountain and filled his hands with ice-cold water. He ran back to where Jessica was lying and splashed that water on her face. Jessica, feeling the sting of the cold water, gasped into consciousness, her eyes wide open.
“Jess! Thank god, you’re all right! Gosh, you had me so worried,” John panted out. “What happened?”
Jessica still had her eyes open into a blank stare and for a few seconds it appeared as though they were lifeless. Then, as suddenly as she had fallen, her eyes snapped into focus. “Wha… Where am I?”
“You’re in the school. I was returning from the meeting and saw you here. Don’t you remember anything?” John asked, now seriously concerned.
“I remember exiting the building and then walking down this path, further than that, I remember nothing.”
“Oh, alright then, c’mon, let’s get you off this cold ground before you catch a cold.” John helped Jessica stand up and then wrapped an arm around her. Jessica leaned into the embrace, glad of the warmth and security it provided.
They walked like this for a few minutes, neither saying anything. Jessica broke the silence stating that she needed to go somewhere. “Where?” John asked.
“Somewhere,” Jessica replied nonchalantly.
“It is Ryan, right?” John asked, although it was more of a statement. When he didn’t get any response, he knew he had been right. “Fine, go,” he said through gritted teeth.
“You’re not comfortable with it,” Jessica stated.
John nodded. “It is just that sometimes I feel that you are closer to him than you are to me. I know it is stupid and I shouldn’t be worrying about it, but I can’t control it. The fact that you liked him at one point also doesn’t help.”
“You’re right, I liked him. But that is in the past, John. It is you who I am with right now, and I think that is all that should matter. I still like Ryan, that is a feeling that would never go, but I like him as a brother now, not the way I like you. I hope you understand that.”
Jessica walked away, leaving John behind with his thoughts. She had a job to do right now and nothing could stop her from doing it, not even a jealous boyfriend.
Ryan and Josh were making out on the bed when Jessica burst in through the door. “Shit! Jess, don’t you ever knock?” Ryan exclaimed.
“I…um…came to…er…,” Jessica said, her cheeks a bright pink. “…I came to say that I think it would be better if you used your powers,” she finished in a rush and then quickly exited the room.
“Wow, that was something,” Ryan said, surprised at the sudden change of heart Jessica had.
“I told you that she would come around,” Josh said smirking. “It was just a matter of time before she saw that I was speaking the truth.”
“Oh you were speaking the truth, all right,” Ryan said. “It was just that I too was not comfortable with using the Libramen for this. But now that both of you say it is fine, and St. Peter himself gave you this suggestion, I think it wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.”
“That’s my boy,” Josh said, beaming. “Now…where were we before we were interrupted? Yeah, I remember all right.” Josh leaned in and kissed Ryan hard on the lips.
* * *
“St. Peter,” the Com Centre technician came running into St. Peter’s office. “I think you better have a look at this, sir.”
“Now what,” St. Peter groaned. He followed the tech into the main control room to the console where the surveillance of the Pondera Custodis was taking place. The tech gestured towards the monitors and St. Peter immediately saw the reason that was causing the young tech’s uneasiness. The com link with Ryan was showing nothing, not even his life signature.
“This can’t be happening. You…,” St. Peter said, pointing to the tech. “…who was on duty after I left?”
“It was a new tech who had just been transferred here,” the tech sputtered out.
“Get him here, now,” St. Peter ordered. He turned towards the console and pressed a button. “Matthew, come to the main control room immediately. It is an emergency.”
A few minutes later, the chief technician came bounding into the main control room. St. Peter pointed towards the monitor with the anomaly. Matthew’s trained eyes immediately saw the glitch in the system and spoke out, “It’s a virus.”
“How can that be? I thought you put in the best antivirus and anti-hack software available,” St. Peter asked.
“Yes, I did. In fact, I wrote the program myself. It is impossible that something could have sneaked through unless…”
“Unless someone bypassed it,” Matthew said quietly.
The door to the control room opened and the tech who had initially called St. Peter came inside. “Sir, the new tech can’t be located anywhere on the premises.”
“Matthew, where was that new tech transferred from?” St. Peter asked.
“From Genesis,” Matthew answered. His face contorted into one of surprise has he realized the implications of his words. “This can’t be good.”
“No it isn’t,” St. Peter said. “I want you to sort this mess right now. Are the other com links working?” Matthew checked and nodded that they were. “Good. You, what’s your name?”
“D…David, sir,” the tech answered.
“David, I want you to contact our aide near Pondera Custodis and instruct them to stop Ryan from using his powers at all costs, even if it means blowing their cover.”
“Get to work, my people. It is going to be a long day for us,” St. Peter sighed. The techs began their work while St. Peter went to his office and locked it from inside. Turning to his console, he powered it on.
Once it was booted up, he called up a link that was seldom used. No one, except for the Council, knew that he was in touch with this person and if ever word of this secret contact got out into the open, it would mean Hell on Heaven.
“Password please,” the computer’s mechanical voice rang out. St. Peter entered the triple security password, giving first his thumb impression, followed by a retina scan and finally a face and voice recognition password. Security was paramount here and he couldn’t risk anything here.
“My dear old St. Peter,” a voice came out from the monitor. “Long time no see. What brings you to me now?”
“Mysh,” St. Peter said the name through clenched teeth. He hated it each time he had to talk to the devil and it left a sour taste in his mouth after every conversation. “I want to know what our dear friend is up to,” he said forcefully.
“I have been expecting to hear from you for quite some time now,” Mysh said in a singsong voice that grated on St. Peter’s nerves. “It is a flurry of activities down here. Our friend is organizing an army and intends to capture one of your kin when he is in his weakened state. He believes that using the Force of Balance would make him vulnerable enough and I think that his intelligence reports are quite accurate.”
St. Peter clutched his armrest in a vice grip, making his knuckles go white. “How does he intend to make him use the Libramen?”
“Oh, he has his ways. In fact, the process has already begun.” Mysh’s voice was filled with a perverse glee.
“You had a mole in our Com Centre, didn’t you?” St. Peter asked.
Mysh laughed at that statement. “My dear friend, if you can talk to a mole on this side, what makes you think that there wouldn’t be one on your side?”
“So you have an aide next to Pondera Custodis as well, then?”
“Of course we do,” Mysh replied.
“How long has this planning been going on?”
“I’m sorry my friend, I need to take leave now. I can’t answer your questions any further,” Mysh stated.
“No…wait!” St. Peter shouted but it was too late; the screen was already blank.
“Damn!” For the first time in his life, St. Peter cursed.
* * *
“John! Can I come in, mate?” Mark called out from outside John’s door.
“It’s open,” John shouted from within.
Mark opened the door and entered the room. “Dude, I was thinking if I could borrow your Comp Science notes for…” Mark stopped in mid-sentence when he saw the state John’s room was in. Everything lay about in shambles and there was even broken glass on the floor.
“Dude, what the hell happened here?” Mark asked astonished. Even John’s physical appearance was a mess, his hair all untidy and his clothes wrinkled.
“Nothing, Jess and I had a little disagreement,” John replied.
“This doesn’t look like a little disagreement to me,” Mark stated. “Come on; tell me before I beat it out of you. You even broke the showpiece I gave you on Christmas and you better have a good reason for doing that.”
John sighed. “I was returning from the Drama Club meeting tonight and found her on the grounds, unconscious. She was talking to someone before that, but I don’t know who it was. When I awoke her, she walked with me for a few minutes before rushing off to meet Ryan. I swear, I am jealous of that guy. It seems that she is more his than mine.”
“You know that is not true now, don’t you,” Mark said carefully. “Ryan and Jess are just very close friends and nothing else. They both see each other as brother and sister.”
“Yeah, that is what she told me,” John said.
“Then, what is the matter?”
“I can’t shake off the feeling that there’s more to it than the sibling feeling she tells me there is,” John answered.
“That is just you being paranoid. Yours is still a relatively new relationship and it is natural for you to feel insecure. Don’t worry, I know that girl quite well, she is yours to keep.” Mark winked and then added, “Now, will I get the notebook I came here for or would I have to take shit from that teacher again?”
John laughed. Mark always knew how to lighten the mood. “It is there,” he said, pointing to his table.
* * *
“Sir…,” David said to St. Peter. “I tried contacting our aide on earth, but there seems to be some sort of mental block that is keeping me from contacting them.”
“Can this get any worse?” St. Peter complained. He had immediately informed God the Father about his conversation with Mysh and as of this moment, He was busy organizing a huge force of heaven’s best fighters. Lord Brahma had immediately answered His call for help and had ordered all Gods, Devas and heavenly warriors to form into a deadly force, capable of repelling the army that was being formed in Hell.
“I don’t think so, sir,” David chuckled, trying to find some positive aspect to this situation. A pointed look from St. Peter told him that his attempt had been futile.
“Tell Matthew to remove it and then carry out my orders,” St. Peter replied grimly.
* * *
“Where are we going?” Scott asked his boyfriend.
“To meet Jessica,” Mark replied.
“John told me that she had fainted while coming back from the Drama Club meeting. I just want to make sure that she is all right.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? Hurry up, then!” Scott said, increasing his pace.
They reached Jessica’s room and then knocked on it. Hearing a faint ‘Come in’, they opened the door and stepped inside to find Jessica lying facedown on her bed.
“Jess, you okay? John told me that you had a black-out on the grounds today,” Mark enquired.
Jessica turned around and sat up on the bed. “I’m fine. Just a bit tired from the day.”
“So how did it happen?” Scott asked. He had sat down on the bed while Mark took a chair.
Jessica got up and started pacing the room. “I don’t know. I mean, all that I remember is that I was walking down the path and the next moment, I was in John’s arms. We had an argument about Ryan and then…”
Jessica went rigid at that moment and before either boy could figure out what had happened, she fell to the floor for the second time that day. Mark and Scott rushed to Jessica’s side and helped her to her bed.
“Go get some water,” Scott said. Mark nodded and ran out of the room, clutching Jessica’s bottle, which he had grabbed from the table, in his hand.
“Jess, Jess, c’mon…get up, hon,” Scott said, slapping her face gently. Mark returned with the water, poured some in his hands and splashed it on Jessica’s face.
Jessica gasped into consciousness again, but this time, there was no glazed look on her face. She stood up immediately and ran out of the room without saying anything to the boys.
It took a few seconds for everything to register in the boys’ minds and when it did, they too ran out of the room following Jessica’s trail.
* * *
Jessica was tired of running so hard, but she knew she had to keep going. She had to stop Ryan at all costs and if she died of exhaustion, it would be a small price to pay in lieu of stopping him. The taxi had broken down two miles short of her destination and she had to get there as soon as possible.
Matthew had been successful in wiping the mind-block out of Jessica and had even provided Ryan’s location to her. Ryan, given the go-ahead by Jessica, had begun the process of using the Libramen and had gone to a graveyard in a deserted part of the city. Ironic it was, the destruction of the world starting in a graveyard. She pushed that thought aside and concentrated on running hard.
Within a few minutes, she was at the gate. She thanked her stars for making her take long distance running in physical fitness class, or otherwise she would have never made it this far. Pushing the gate open, she ran to the area Matthew told her that Ryan was in.
She saw him sitting cross-legged under a tree and rushed over to him. Seeing that Ryan’s eyes were closed, but he had not yet found his centre, she bent down to grab his attention. Just as she was about to touch him, she was thrown back by an invisible force.
“I told you not to meddle anymore, you bitch!”
Picking herself up from the ground, Jessica spun around to face the owner of the voice. “And I told you that I would keep you from succeeding, didn’t I?” She took a deep breath and continued, “Tell me, Josh, why did you do this? Why did you betray Ryan? He loved you so much that he brought you back from the brink of death and you repay him like this?”
“You still don’t get it, do you?” Josh said in a voice full of mirth. “That’s too bad, because I don’t have time to explain anything to you.”
He raised his hand and was about to strike a fatal blow when a shovel hit him on the side of his head. Josh’s face registered surprise for barely two seconds before he slumped to the ground, unconscious.
“Jess, you fine?” John asked, throwing the shovel away.
Jessica nodded and then turned towards Ryan, immediately screaming, “No!”
Mark and Scott were about to shake Ryan out of his meditation and had she not stopped them, it would have spelt disaster for the entire universe. “It is too late now,” she said dejectedly.
“That is right,” a voice said from behind them, causing Jessica to go so rigid that John thought she was being electrocuted. A dozen pops were heard behind them and when the group turned, they almost wet their pants.
Standing in front of them was an army of devils, led by the king of Devils himself. Lucifer stood in front of his army, proud that his plan had succeeded.