Judge's Note: I'm not sure I completely followed what was going on in this story, but it definitely had a moody, interesting...well, style. Good story! Winterhawk would never say "Drek!", but that's just a small point. :)
The delay of a strike, the quickness of an action, the deadliness of a blow.
That was what would set him above everyone else. Not power, because power was blunt and throughout time had been blunted more.
Style lived on.
He looked at pictures, flashing strobe-like on a screen, blurred tapes from around the world. It had taken him years to finish his collection. Yet, now it was complete. He would have allowed himself triumph if he had not another job to do. He looked at the pictures again, each imprinted itself before him.
Winterhawk was sure that he had experienced worse days.
But, thinking back, he couldn’t really remember any.
“But that doesn’t really matter right about now.” He thought bitterly, pushing back the sun glasses he was wearing and tugging at the collar of his suit. “Damn it’s hot in here.”
It had started with a call from Harry with a rather interesting job, Winterhawk remembered with chagrin, good pay, minimal time, and, as a bonus, a chance to meet some of the greatest astral space theorists in the Americas. Hawk had been interested.
Unfortunately, three of the four had come from down south. ‘Hawk tugged at his collar again, grimacing against the 40 degree centigrade heat. He looked over to see the eldest member of the group, a quiet Bostonian professor from MIT&M, similarly pulling at his jacket collar. He glanced at the other three, all wearing heavy coats and talking lightly with guests at the reception. ‘Hawk grimaced from the heat and the strain it took to keep up his masking spell.
“How bloody kind of them to be so easy in this sort of heat.” He thought uncharitably as he continued his detached observation of the party.
He laughed as he watched. This would be his finest hour.
He relaxed, slipping through the crowd like a serpent. “Style.” Smiling here and there, so smooth, so easy, no one would suspect...
The person who he approached mouth’s moved, and he smiled in return, his hands feeling the magic, the power, as he knew that this would do it. He would show them. “Style...” He reached out his hand...
Winterhawk spotted the charge of magic around the professors and he moved quickly to intercept, he saw a well tailored elf reaching out to the Bostonian, an enigmatic smile flickering over his features. Glancing down, he could see the slight haze of destructive magic gathering around the man’s fingers. “Physical adept.” ‘Hawk almost cursed to himself as he quickly fired a powerbolt at the man’s hand.
He felt the magic grow in him, simply shaking a hand, only shaking a hand... Suddenly he felt a disturbance... odd, his hand wouldn’t function any more. He looked down to see his fingers bloodied, broken, twisted in the wrong direction. “No.” He said as he looked at his mangled hand.
Glancing up, he saw the figure that had disrupted him, distracted him. The sounds, the voices all faded away, there were only the target, and the man.
“No,” he detachedly said to himself as time slowed down, he could feel the magic streamline his focus and consciousness, and he ran... ran...
“Bloody hell!” Winterhawk said outloud as he watched the elf turn, grimace, and then run. Damn, he was fast! The Bostonian glanced around, still not sure about what happened. Most of the guests hadn’t even been aware of what happened, but those nearest by began to clear the way for ‘Hawk to come through. “Gentlemen.” He said, looking around for other would-be attackers. “I think we should leave, before a co-hort of that adept comes.” The men quickly gaped and nodded, filing out, bodyguards surrounding them.
Looking around in astral as the crowd began to clear the floor, a bright, glowing object caught ‘Hawk’s eye. It was in the front pocket of the Bostonian’s jacket. Hawk shivered and followed. What was going on?
He was enraged. The meddler, the fool! Destroying a perfect plan...
He would try again, again, and again. He would show them, show them all. Style....
He smiled at himself in the mirror, reflecting glasses over his eyes, his smile a line of pearl white teeth. Pulling up his glasses to show yellow-cat eyes, he winked at the mirror, and...
Winterhawk paced around the lounge of the hotel, waiting for the bodyguards to finish their paranoid crackdown. ‘Hawk cursed as even he was shut out of the professors’ room. The glowing object in the Bostonian’s shirt pocket continued to hum in the back of his mind, despite everything he did.
Glancing at his watch, he found the time. “Only 7pm.” He sighed, and shook his head. He just hoped it wouldn’t get any worse.
He heard the call. It was the presence of life... it called to him, and pulled him. He followed, and was there.
The professor was sitting in his chair, distractedly examining something, when he saw who had entered. The elf smiled, and grabbed his hand. The elf watched as the professor turned white, as he channeled destructive energy into the man. “Style...” He could here the beating of his heart, fill the thrill of a dying man. Smiling, he felt as the man began to dissolve before his glasses coated eyes...
‘Hawk was waiting, arms crossed in front of the room door when he felt the slight pressure pull around him. Glancing about, ‘Hawk began to look in the astral... to see another metahuman in with the professors. “Damn... open these doors!” He demanded, pulling himself up and looking square into the eyes of the ork guard. Flustered and intimidated the ork opened the door... to reveal a tall elf bending over the bostonian.
“Guards!” Came the yell from his mouth almost without realizing it, as he channeled the energy necessary for another powerbolt. “Damn,” he thought as the elf turned towards him with a manic, toothy grin and a blank stare. “Where did this guy come from?”
Once again, he felt the energy hit him, distorting his existence. “Style...” ruined. He looked down, once again, at his hands, and saw them mangled, twisted. He let go of the professor, and looked up. “Style...” disrupted. There again was the man with the white hair... he had had an illusion around him before... but his aura was the same. Same, same, it was him.
Ruined again, he felt the professor drop to the ground, groaning, the man still lived. Fail... he had been foiled. “Style...” He felt magic twist his senses, and he ran again.
“Drek!” Winterhawk blurted, the word forcing itself out of his lips as he watched the form fly past him, and down the hall, seeming to run faster than anything ‘Hawk had ever seen. ‘Hawk turned to run, but his eyes glanced over a small, golden object on the ground, impulsively he scooped it up in his hand, and placed it in his pocket. He glanced at the professor, purple patches covered his cheeks and arm... internal bleeding. ‘Hawk shuddered, and a professor approached, voicing the obvious. “Adepts don’t do this... it’s impossible!” Winterhawk looked down at the nearly dying bostonian that he struggled to heal and winced as he glanced at the professor. “Then what the hell was that?” The other professor’s jaw dropped, and he knelt down, watching his comrade.
He could feel another mind touching it, caressing it, running over its curves. “Style... soon,” he thought. “Soon I will make the possible impossible, and the impossible possible.” He watched at the picture of a man leaping hundreds of feet... impossible and possible... “Style...” He gave a toothy, almost impish grin to the screen, and he waited, as he felt the mind caress... Soon he would be there.
“I will not look at it...” As he paced around the compound, looking for another magical intrusion, the golden object knawed at the back of his mind. Hours ago, the object’s incessant place at the back of his mind had driven him to calling Ocelot. Cursing himself as he picked up the phone, he knew he had to tell someone. Hearing Ocelot’s voice brought him no comfort, as his lips couldn’t form the words necessary to explain what had happened. Something was holding him back.
He could hear the voice chiding him from the back of his consciousness, “just look at the pin, and you’ll figure it out.” This was too quick, too sudden, ‘Hawk’s mind was beginning to wear. “I encounter an Elvish Phys-Ad who can supposedly break the laws of astral physics, according to our esteemed professors... disappears before we can assense and find out what he is, and then...” Winterhawk’s hands shook, as his mouth moved ineffectually, and his hands balled and tried to work out the syllables that would not come. “Controlling my actions...”
‘Hawk slammed his hand against the wall, he would not bear to have this have power over him! Of course, he would find out what the cause of this was. He pulled the pin out of his pocket, saw the inscription in Latin, and read, hungrily. He would take control!
He could hear his name. It was as if a voice had spoken directly into his mind. He smiled, he would be there.
The words fit together, as Winterhawk’s lips began to sound out the syllables of something... a word, long, convoluted... he could feel magic building as he spoke the name, something was coming...
He had been called.
Hawk felt a suction... as if his soul was being pulled from his body by a thousand immaterial hands... and then he was inside himself again.
In time to see the Elvish figure, with blank stare and toothy smile in front of him.
‘Hawk almost leaped backwards in surprise. And quickly summoned the power for another powerbolt... and let go.
He had felt the power of the magical projectile before, but those times he had not the attention to respond, now he had his goal, and he felt his consciousness focus, and then bleed away the energy from the magical blast. He smiled, placing his glasses from his pocket, to his eyes. “Style...”
‘Hawk continued to backpedal down the hallway... seeing the elvish wight lift his hand, he could hear the slamming of a door behind him. “God!” Winterhawk charged forward, and tried to dodge past the elvish figure, but a strong hand caught him by the throat, and threw him across the room. Awakening afterwards, he could feel his bones grating against each other, every part of his body in agony. He looked up to see the elf a few meters away. The elf’s eyes bored into his, and he felt helpless... “Damn it ‘Hawk!” He murmured between blood loosened lips. “He’s messing with your mind.”
He stood in front of the cowed mage, and placed both hands around the wounded adversary’s neck.. He began to feel the energy build up in his hands, felt the sinking of energy in the human, and his mouth opened, sucking in air in sensuous pleasure. “Style...” He knew that he had won.
Winterhawk could see red and black close in on the edges of his vision, his mind ferverntly raced, battering itself against the walls of the influence spells the elf had placed him under... flitting from thought to thought, his mind once again caressed the words on the pin.
He stiffened, he heard his name again. Looking down at the mage, his hands loosened. “Style...” No, he couldn’t....
‘Hawk almost grinned as he saw the elf stiffen slightly. “I’ve got you, Jack.” He murmed with oxygen deprived lungs., and then his foot lashed out into the elf’s midsection. He felt the elf being pushed back, and smiled as his lips caressed the word once again.
He felt himself called, his form wished to come... but he was already there... what, what happening? “Style...” Was it finished was he... he heard the spoken name and the command, but... this had never....
Winterhawk pushed the elf’s arms open, and rolled through the legs of the confused form, and his lips continued in the phrasing, the Latin he had heard so many year ago....
“No...” He thought, he could feel himself being pushed away, his body stripped from his form here... “No!” “Style...” The impossible... not, no... “Style...” He had failed....
As he completed the words of binding, using the spirit’s true name as part of the spell, he saw the astral plane intersect with the metaplanes, and watch as the elvish form of the free spirit dissappear to the meta-ether where it belonged. Picking out his phone from his pocket, he turned it on. “Hello? How is Mr. Perriwhether doing? Good! Oh, the reason I called, yes, I’m canceling the contract, I don’t need any compensation, I’m out of here... No... goodbye.” With a click of the phone, ‘Hawk was already calling up Ocelot for a ride out of this nightmare... at least it was over
Hawk wandered through the streets, shaking his head as he remembered how he had tried to explain the aborted phone call with Ocelot. “Mundane,” he said half-jokingly. “At least it’s resolved.” He stopped himself as he saw a bus flew down the street in front of him, but he did not see the ork, grinning toothfully, almost impishly, behind him.
It had been quiet for a long while, while the white one had sent it away, but it had waited for another. It had felt one try to bind a spirit to its will, and had pulled itself along the ether to approach. It was forced to kill the summoner.... shame, it had been a powerful one, but had managed to take possession of its comrade, and made death quick in exchange for a part of its soul.
It was stronger now, but not by much. It still had much to learn. He couldn’t approach now, not while the white one had its true name. No, he would wait, like the white one, he would strike when he was least expected. He saw the white one cross the street, and the impish grin widened.
He had failed before, but the white one would teach him... yes... his enemy would teach him how to win. He would watch, and someday, he would win, the name would be his, and he would taste terror again. But now he would wait, and learn, learn from the white one about how he had lived. “Style...” Eyes framed Winterhawk’s confident walk, “Style....”
(c) 2000 ArcAngel. Used with permission.