Midnight Sun #2
Written by Matt Hamilton, Edited by
Part 2 of "Ebon Dreams and Ivory Prizes"
Pain. It buzzes through my nervous system like an electric shock. In truth, it may be that much of my body now is little more than electrical wiring and circuitry, and that the analogy is no coincidence.
One strike from the inhuman known as Karnak was enough to floor me. My ribs, though unbroken, are bruised to the point where I can barely move. And yet, he did not strike with much force - he merely knew where and how to land the blow.
This is one of the lessons he has taught me in the last few weeks: Know when to strike, and where. Memories of the same lessons learnt a lifetime ago are slowly leaking back into my consciousness. On Earth, it seems, I was one of the most formidable martial artists alive; and the skill still remains, though buried deep in muscle memory.
The pain subsides. It is time again to fight.
Karnak stepped back as Midnight Sun flipped himself back to his feet. Amazing, he thought to himself. That blow would have felled Gorgon himself! Perhaps even the Thing would have fallen! Yet this man stands as if simply tripped! Once more the Inhuman raised his guard, and began circling his sparring partner.
"Your armour cannot account for the speed with which you recover from impact, Midnight Sun! You shake off blows that would level a building!"
Midnight Sun felt sure that Karnak was flattering him, yet some sixth sense told him that the punch he had just taken might indeed carry such power when delivered by this Inhuman. He nodded thanks, and raised his hands in turn.
The two traded a few ineffectual blows. A sweeping leg kick from Karnak; a spinning backfist from Midnight. Several punches were thrown and deflected, while others were dodged, missing their intended target by millimetres.
After a minute or two, Karnak's timer buzzed, and the pair bowed to each other in respect. "Your skills are unmatched by any human I have faced, Midnight Sun. Such accomplishments cannot be bestowed by Kree technology - it must be learned from a young age. Whatever your history, I am sure that it is rich in the eastern arts of the terrans."
Midnight nodded once again, and turned to the corner behind him. Cerabel sat on a short stool, mesmerised by the spectacle of the two masters sparring. With a start, she caught herself, and rose to face Karnak.
"My Lord; Midnight Sun wishes to thank you for the training, and for your compliments. He asks if this is the end of today's session."
Karnak allowed himself a smile. It was so strange to encounter a being other than his cousin Black Bolt who relied on a third party for communication! Ignoring the girl, he spoke directly to his sparring partner. "Yes, my friend. I think both of us have earned a rest! Go and enjoy the rest of the day!"
The Inhuman watched as Cerabel approached the cyborg, took his arm, and strolled out beside him. Karnak sensed the bond which had developed between them since he had joined their community. Your weakness is very easy to spot, Midnight Sun, he thought to himself. You are human on the inside. Far too human.
Cerabel sat opposite her quiet companion in the peaceful surroundings of one of Attilan's artificial parks. It was a miracle that the plants could survive at all, here on the moon; but they were supplied with plenty of synthetic sunlight, and cared for by gardeners who were genetically suited for the task.
Often she felt it was necessary to cut herself off from the thoughts of others. Not only did it comfort her, but somehow those around her knew that they weren't being read, and felt more at ease. Cerabel found herself doing this more and more often since she had been partnered with Midnight Sun. His thoughts were alien to her. Perhaps because she had never met a true human before, or perhaps because of something the Kree had done to him. After nearly half an hour of quiet reflection, he looked up to her, and she opened her mind to his thoughts.
«Cerabel, I need your help.»
Startled by the forthright request, Bell paused for a moment before answering. "My help? Of course! Anything! What do you want?"
«I want to remember my past. When you first entered my mind - when I was asleep those weeks ago - I think that something was "unlocked." I believe that with your help I can surface the memories of my life before . . . before the Kree. Somehow I need to piece together the fragments, and see if my past perhaps holds a key to my future.»
Once again Bell caught herself simply staring into the solid yellow eyes of the man before her, rather than responding. Quickly, she spoke. "Yes! Yes, I will help! Be aware, though, that any memories you discover will be shared with me. It's not something I can control when we merge like that."
«It does not deter me. I trust you as I have never trusted anyone before. Despite my amnesia, I can declare that with confidence.»
Taken aback by the compliment, Cerabel looked at the grass before her, and lowered her voice. "Then let's begin."
Medusa rested both hands on the platform in front of her, bent over a viewscreen. Next to her stood her cousin Gorgon, head of the Inhuman royal guard. On the monitor they could both clearly see a cluster of objects heading towards Attilan from outer space.
"What are they, Gorgon?" Medusa asked, her voice sounding tired.
"Undoubtedly starships, my lady. They weren't visible to our scopes an hour ago, so the best theory is that they dropped out of hyperspace." Gorgon looked over to Black Bolt, who stood with his back to them, staring through a large circular window at the starry sky. He lowered his voice, as if hiding his feelings from the king. "If we are to prepare, I'll need to know soon, cousin."
Medusa straightened herself, and walked over toward her husband. "My lord, Gorgon requires advice regarding the incoming vessels."
Even now Gorgon could not discern how his king conveyed messages to Medusa. The queen insisted that telepathy played no part in their relationship, yet Black Bolt appeared to make no gesture before his wife turned back to the hulking general. "Black Bolt has decided to wait. Discretion is always the better part of valour. When we are sure that these vessels pose a threat to Attilan, or indeed to earth, we will take action."
Gorgon didn't like the king's decision, and he absent-mindedly scraped one of his cloven hooves on the floor as he mulled over his reaction. "As you wish, my lord," was all he said, and he turned and left the chamber.
Black Bolt turned and walked to the viewscreen. He reached out and tapped a button, magnifying the view. While he studied the outlines, his wife rested a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Always you make the right decision, Blackagar," she said.
The king tapped the button again, and once more the image magnified. The enhanced image, coupled with the distance the ships had covered in the last minute or so, was enough to clarify just who it was they were looking at. Black Bolt looked at his wife, his eyebrows furrowed behind his midnight blue mask.
"Yes, I know," Medusa sighed. "They're Kree."
Flashes. Images. Earth.
An old man, wrinkled skin, long flowing moustache. A young man, with such intensity in his eyes. Looking at me.
We fight. Sparring, training. The old man watches over us.
The young man has betrayed the old man, and I am taking revenge.
We fight again. Not sparring now, but fighting to the death.
I am hanging from a girder by my cape, my neck broken.
Names flash into my mind:
Fu Manchu. The old man;
Shang Chi. The young man;
Cerabel snapped awake, and almost fell backwards onto the grass. Something was wrong. Her telepathic abilities may be limited to reading one person at a time, but still she could sense it. She opened her eyes and checked on Midnight. His mind was clearly awake, but outwardly he gave no indication. Perhaps he had seen something in their shared dream that she had not, and was reflecting on it.
Quickly she stood, and looked around. Everything seemed normal, Inhumans were going about their lives as they had been when the two had arrived at the park. Except one. One figure was racing through the crowds towards them.
A messenger from the royal family! Obviously the urgency of his message weighed heavily on his mind, for Cerabel had been able to sense him even while merged with Midnight Sun!
She watched him as he approached. Bright red skin, etched with crisscrossed lines. It was hard to judge exactly what power the Terragenesis had given him. As a royal messenger, it was surely related to memory, or speed. Abruptly he stopped, and stood bolt upright while he delivered his message.
"Cerabel! I have word from Lord Gorgon! You and Midnight Sun are to accompany me to the royal chambers immediately!"
Cerabel didn't speak, knowing that the messenger would not expect a reply. Instead, she offered her hand to Midnight Sun, who was still sitting cross-legged on the grass. He took it, and stood without using her for balance.
As the three ran to the nearest walkway, she whispered to her friend. "What did you discover?"
«My name,» was the only reply.
Continued in Midnight Sun #3! Now leave us your comments below!
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