Tales of Chroma: Chapters Two & Three

Chapter Two: After

The funeral ends, but the silence does not lift. The car drives through the day’s fog before stopping at the coffee shop. The officer gives Kara one last pitying look, watching the two girls step out of the car. As Kara walks towards the door, the officer waves over the other girl and pleads in a whisper: “Please save her, Emma. This city can’t lose her, too.”

Emma nods once before joining Kara at the door. She pauses briefly, opens her mouth as if to give a word of encouragement, of assurance. But Kara has already walked through the door, still numb to the world.

Her apartment is, in many ways, worse than the funeral. Silence hangs over it, without music or laughter to puncture it. His computer sits, dusty and unused in the corner, as still as his headstone was.

Kara walks over to it, the quiet digging into her, scratching at her. She stares at the computer, as if staring hard enough would put him back in his chair, the same loose smile on his face. It doesn’t. It’s the moment that breaks her. She yells, anguished, the translucent energy encasing her fist as she brings it down, over and over on the computer, demolishing it in the process.

As the energy dissipates, and the computer sits crushed, Kara crumbles, collapsing to the floor and sobbing. Emma joins her, quietly sitting beside her, and putting her arm around Kara, the officer’s words echoing in her head. Save her.

Chapter Three: Before

It is night in the city of Chroma, darkness blanketing the metropolis. But now, more than ever, darkness does not bring silence. The shrill ringing of an alarm pierces the quiet, punctuated by sirens and undercut by the low rumble of a motorcycle, speeding through the darkness.

Kara steers, weaving between traffic, lights flashing by. She rumbles in time with the bike, smiling all the while. As she pauses for breath, Jake cuts in on her earpiece. “As happy as you sound, the alarm is coming from the jail. So maybe careful?”

Kara snorts. “I fell out of a building earlier, so I’m just a tad desensitized at the moment. But I thank you for the concern.” She returns to her rumbling, but starts looking a little more closely at the darkened alleys, just to be safe.

“So I’ve been thinking about that building,” It’s Jake again, his concentration obvious. “There really wasn’t much of a motive to blow it up, and whoever did it didn’t steal anything. Couple that with the jailbreak and the fact that the building is on the opposite side of town, and I’d say it was a distraction.”

“Quite the distraction; whoever we’re dealing with clearly has some resources. I guess he must be building an empire.” Jake groans as Kara goes back to her rumbling, both of their thoughts occupied by their new assailant.

A short while later, the jail looms in the distance, though it hardly looks like a jail anymore. Not only are the gates missing, but there is a gaping hole sitting in their place. As Kara grows close, she slows her bike to a quieter crawl. “It’s absolutely silent,” she whispers into her mouthpiece. “I abhor silence.”

Stepping off of her bike, she begins to make her way through what’s left of the gate, onto the thin metal catwalk overlooking the courtyard. Inside are police officers and the prison guards, standing as if the criminals were still there. None of them move, though many are mid-step. Even their bullets hang frozen in the air. Spotting a security camera, Kara whispers, “Jake, are you getting this?”

His reply is immediate, voiced hushed by the awe of the scene. “It’s uncanny. You have powers, but nothing like this.”

In that moment, the silence is shattered as a door opposite Kara opens, and a figure, dressed in a black, hooded cloak steps out.

Seeing Kara, they stop short, about thirty feet between them.

Kara speaks first, her voice remaining strong despite her nerves. “I like the look. Very supervillain-esque.”

She gestures to the bubble of frozen figures. “You do this?”

The figure begins to speak, the voice low but definitely female. “I’ve heard of you. You’re the amateur, the new one. I didn’t do this, but I’m after who did. I suggest you stay out of my way. Clearly it’s out of your league.”

Kara scoffs before opening her mouth to retort, but stops short as the mystery woman brings her hand behind her head, and then swings it back, a knife forming out of almost pure darkness in her fingers.

It flies through the air at impossible speeds as Kara barely manages to get her shield up in time.

It makes no difference; the knife passes through, the shield shatters, and Kara ends up gasping for breath as if punched in the stomach.

Luckily, the knife isn’t directed at her.

It flies past her head and impacts the shoulder of one of the jail’s slower escapees, his own knife in hand, moments away from Kara’s back. He gasps as the shadow-knife dissipates, as suddenly as it appeared.

The criminal tumbles off of the catwalk, freezing as he hits the time bubble.

For once, Kara is speechless. But she is alone on the catwalk. Where her savior stood, there is now only the vague outline of a door, still barely visible, as if etched upon space in shadow.

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