A little later than usual, due to me watching anime online and losing track of time (for the record, here’s a question to anyone watching Re: Hamatora–WTF was up with that ending!? Way to finally explain almost all the problems I had with the series… and then ruin the whole thing with a resolution completely pulled out of your arse!)
Ahem. This is the third and final part of Chapter One; after this we move on to more planning, backstory, solidifying ideas, and all that technical shit. Before that you can have the pleasure of another one of my book deconstruction lites, next time will be a dystopian tale of what happens when an author feels like commentary on a topical issue should form the basis for their novel, but doesn’t actually seem to have anything to say about that issue. Ladies and gentlemen–prepare yourself for XVI, coming in a few days or something.
When we last left our own heroes, Amy and her friends were leaving school, talking about what they were going to do that afternoon. (Wow, that sounds like a real page turner, doesn’t it?)
But surprisingly it was Jocelyn who nixed the idea with an annoyed groan.
“I’m tired of watching other people’s stories,” she complained. “Junior year is half over, so we’ve only got another year and a half of being ordinary high school students. Everyone knows that’s where the best opportunities come from, and at this rate we’re just going to end up being a group of girls Hero McProtagonist crashes into as he runs after Badman Von Death. Maybe one of us will get taken hostage for about a minute, but that will be it!”
“Oh, Jocelyn,” sighed Amy.
“I’m serious! At this rate I won’t even warrant a hair-colour description; and I worked hard on my stupid hair!”
Amy sighed again, a dozen scoldings Dr. Solus had levelled at Jerry running through her mind, and all on the same theme. ‘He who goes looking for trouble, finds it’.
“You do have nice hair today,” Hannah assured Jocelyn. “Very Marilyn Monroe. Except, you know, purple.”
“Sunset Violet was the colour I got from the catalogue,” Jocelyn said indignantly. “The point is that if nothing happens before we get to college we’re just going to end up knife-fodder in a slasher story, and if we survive that then assuming we don’t go into law enforcement we’re pretty much doomed to Chick-Lit.”
Audrey frowned. “That’s… a very simplistic view to take, Joss. Not that I should be surprised, I suppose—coming from you and all.”
“Besides, what’s wrong with Chick-Lit?” asked Hannah. “It’s where the least bad things happen!”
That was true, probably—Amy wasn’t a fan so she supposed she wouldn’t really know. On the other hand, bad things had already happened in Amy’s life. Even now she sometimes found herself keeping an ear out for the station-wide emergency alarm, and she always made sure she knew where the nearest evacuation route was, no matter where she was on the station.
Rhea was her home, her second home, but no less precious to her than her first now she knew what it was to lose one. If she had to, she’d have liked to have known what it would take to protect it, so she could maintain her life on board.
“Law enforcement wouldn’t be awful either,” she mused.
“Yeah, but you’d have to study on Earth or one of the A-classes,” said Jocelyn, “But you can be an ordinary high school student anywhere; and you’re more likely to find your true love.”
Amy snorted. “Not at this school, if the guys I know are—”
Just as the four girls were passing out of the gate and onto the street, a boy on roller blades crashed right into Amy, sending both of them and Audrey crashing to the floor. Amy yelped as her knee scraped against the paving stone while Audrey managed to break her own fall somewhat with her satchel, but the boy was jarred into an impromptu midair spin, landed awkwardly and skidded a foot or so along the curb before falling into the road.
Jocelyn and Hannah darted forwards.
“Oh my god, are you guys okay!?” cried Hannah, diving to Amy’s side.
“For Christ’s sake watch where you’re going!” Jocelyn shouted.
Cringing, Amy sat up and clapped a hand to her knee, a large part of which was now mottled with little half-torn away pieces of white skin, welling up with tiny trickles of blood. She clasped her hand against it with gritted teeth and looked angrily to the boy who had knocked her over.
He’d rolled onto his back, and with his knees drawn up she couldn’t see his face, but he was dressed all in black and, somehow, was utterly silent.
“Amy, you’re bleeding!” Hannah whimpered, biting her lower lip at the sight of the small amount of blood on her knee.
“I’m okay,” said Amy. In actual fact her knee hurt like hell, but for the moment she was more angry than in pain. Who skated so fast when they couldn’t see what was coming around the corner?!
Whoever he was, he sat up a few seconds later and crawled back to the sidewalk, although he was hardly in any danger on the road. Very few small vehicles travelled the streets of Station Rhea; with the Monolifts in between the various layers of the stations and said layers only supporting little more than fifteen thousand people, there wasn’t much need for personal transport on the station—the only vehicles that did go over the roads were the public services vehicles, and that wasn’t that often.
Safe from such perils, Amy was able to get a good look at the guy, and was surprised to find what a good look it was. Black hair—bottle-black, by the look of it—silver-grey eyes, pale skin; the two bandages on his face and the one wrapped around his upper left arm, disappearing beneath his t-shirt, did almost nothing to detract from the fact that he was beautiful—like, mythical godly being beautiful.
But they did make her wonder if this god made a habit of crashing into things.
“Jesus,” snapped Jocelyn. “No wonder they call you ‘Harbinger’!”
Blinking, Amy looked from Jocelyn back to the boy for confirmation, but he just sat there, staring at them.
Harbinger. She’d heard that name before around the High School—’I hear they took Harbinger off the bench last week; five people died!’, ‘Did you hear Harbinger was at a club last night? He used it to put half the staff in traction’, ‘You know we haven’t heard from Harbinger lately—maybe the government finally weaponised him and he was deployed to the roving fleets’.
With stuff like that she’d thought ‘Harbinger’ was some famous sports star or internet celebrity, not a student at her school! Was he really as much of a walking disaster as all that? She tried to take a closer look as if just by looking at him she could somehow come to a conclusion, but…
Such amazing eyes… they have to be modified, no one has eyes like that!
Suddenly she realised he was looking right at her. She averted her gaze quickly, but he didn’t say anything.
“Hey, are you listening to me!?” Jocelyn yelled at him.
Amy looked back and saw the boy still staring right at her. She felt a shiver ripple over her shoulders and for a moment the pain in her knee was forgotten. There was something odd about the look he was giving her, something odd about him in general, come to think of it.
There was just this feeling…
Without a sound he stumbled to his feet, shaking slightly on the unsteady row of wheels. She saw his left leg flinch when he put his weight on it, but the intense expression on his face didn’t change at all, he just put the leg down again, more gently.
No one said anything for a few moments. Then the boy turned, and skated away.
“Hey!” Jocelyn yelled again. Audrey stood up and dusted off her jacket and Hannah relaxed a little.
“Was that really Harbinger?” she asked.
Jocelyn just sneered so Audrey filled them in.
“Yeah, that’s him,” she said. “He’s super into athletics; I see him sometimes when we share the field with the boys’ teams. Even when he’s not playing team sports though, the accidents that happen are crazy—I saw him trip himself and two other runners up once, one guy almost broke his arm. No wonder people think he’s cursed.”
“You’d think they’d throw him off the team by now,” said Jocelyn, huffing.
“No way,” said Audrey. “He’s the best we’ve got by a long shot.”
“I heard he does it on purpose though. Remember the collision that totalled the equipment shed last semester?”
Amy remembered it. “That was him?” she asked.
“They got their hands on a Transpod somehow,” Jocelyn told her. “And everyone else in the pod was drunk except old Harbinger, that’s why he was the one driving.”
“They must not have found anything suspicious about it though,” said Hannah. “I mean, if they’re still letting him come to school and all. Maybe one of the others did something stupid because they were drunk—yanked the steering wheel or something.”
“Transpods don’t have steering wheels,” said Jocelyn with a roll of the eyes. “I’m telling you, he crashed it into the shed on purpose. There’s no way he couldn’t be doing this stuff on purpose. He’s crazy.”
In the distance, Amy could still see Harbinger getting further and further away, skating on the road now and seemingly going nowhere. Somehow, even after what Jocelyn had said, there was only one thought in her mind.
What’s his real name, though?