A/N: This update is part of my celebration for being on the site for 5 years! That's right; on April 30 5 years ago I made this account, so today I have decided to update all of my stories that are in progress. This does not mean that more updates will be coming soon if ever though.
It's time for UCBH, part of my massive fantasy series that I stopped writing about a year ago. Is it back for good now, or just a glimmer of hope for me that will soon fade? I honestly don't know. Still, with a world and story this big, with probably hundreds if not thousands of hours put into this story, from daydreaming to writing to making each chapter as good as I could, it seems a shame to stop now. I let this story grow too big I fear, but that doesn't mean I can't still fix it. No promises though...
Thanks to Wyntirsno for betaing
Chapter 18: Every Sunrise starts with the Night
It's funny how time passes.
One day you live every moment, enjoy every breath, embrace every word with a friend. Even though the day may be hard, the challenges great, and the enemies insurmountable, it doesn't matter. It's these very challenges that push you harder, that let you see what life truly is.
And then there are those days where you just want it to pass. Where you let the world go on without you. Where the tragedy becomes too much.
For Sydney, today was such a day.
One he tried to wipe from his memory.
He couldn't even remember how it happened, there was talking to Cole, helping Sarah and Max with some of the wounded and learning the importance of double checking blood types. Sure, it was hard, and he was still in pain from the battle, but he saw how they were able to turn back the destruction, and that while those who lost their lives would not be coming back, there was still hope for many.
Then he was called to meet with the other Guardians, some generals were there too, and they were talking about what they'd do from here. Though he didn't remember any of it, only the news about Kensei.
How his body was found among the streets of London.
How the strongest person he had ever met was killed.
And Sydney knew that it was his fault; he should have stayed near his teacher. That even though he wasn't that strong yet, that maybe he could have made a difference.
Why was it that every time death seemed to take people away just when he was growing close to them?
First it was Noah, a person he hated with all his being for so long. But then he saw the wounded heart that lied beneath his rash exterior. A person beaten to become stronger, where only perfection was good enough. He thought of his own mom, one who only asked that he did his best, and that even when he didn't do as well as he wanted to, she had nothing but love for him. This was his life, all he knew, and he only assumed that the rest of the world was the same way.
And then, when he saw the truth about Noah, he wanted to make things right. But he was only moments too late.
Though now Kensei was the one to fall from Sydney's failures. Sydney wondered if there was any way he could have done something different, gotten stronger, not gotten his butt kicked by Trey and maybe stopped whoever it was that killed Kensei.
His bodied shivered as once more the tears fell.
Was this any time to cry though? When there were people still dying in the city, when wounded filled the hospital. This wasn't the time.
Though as logic demanded he take action, his heart continued dwelling in the pain, wanting to have nothing to do with this cruel war.
Night had begun to fall, and Sydney thought of the Nightwings that had come, how there were so many, how even with the other Guardians beside him, they were barely able to live. And of what little he remembered from the meeting after learning about Kensei's death, he knew that the Guardians sent some of the Ancients who had aided them in the battle into the Nightwing realm to close the portal that they had opened. If they failed, then things would be getting even worse.
Sydney held his hand up against the window, focusing on his light, letting a glimmer of it rest in his hand. It seemed strange, how the light could be so bright even against the darkness of night. Maybe that meant there was some kind of hope still against this. Soon Sydney fell asleep, hoping that when he woke up, this day would be nothing but a memory.
After waking up and slightly confused about where he was, he knew that he was in a middle of a war still, and while the day seemed calm, he knew he was just a matter of time until he found himself in another battle. He made his way through the hospital, noting at how orderly the military had made everything. After asking a few of the doctors, he found Max and Sarah sitting in the cafeteria, making the best of the mediocre food.
"You doing better today, man?" Max asked as Sydney took a seat beside him.
"As good as can be expected, I guess."
"Death really hits hard, doesn't it?" Sarah asked.
"I'm guessing this isn't something new for you?"
"Our parents were both part of a militant organization on our world. We were born into it," Sarah explained, and Sydney could tell she was thinking about the many comrades they would have had to see fall.
"It was for the good of the world, that death of a few would bring salvation to many," Max said, him too thinking back to that time long ago. "I remember; it was one of my first missions with Lord Botta, it was supposed to be a simple mission, keep the Chosen one out of their grasp. I wanted to go, to prove myself, knowing that this was what I had been training for. I'll never forget having to leave Dad behind, knowing that there was no way for him to survive."
"Before becoming Guardians, we saw the world restored though, but sadly many of our friends did not make it that far," Sarah added, and Sydney thought of his own mortality. He knew Trey could have killed him, but he hadn't thought what it would be like to actually die. Would it be painful? And what happened when he took his last breath? And then what?
"What do we do now?" Sydney asked, not wanting to dwell on the past that filled him with so much sorrow.
"Without Kensei, we'll need to get stronger if we want to be able to fight Hakalahs and the other Nightwings. James said something about asking the other Guardians for help, but it will probably take a while for them to get here."
"Wait, there are other Guardians?" Sydney asked, though he knew it was foolish to think that he knew all of them.
"Yeah, the different groups are led by their elders, Kensei in our case, but there are dozens of different groups. They rarely interact though, except for the elders or in extreme circumstances," Max said.
"If the Nightwings fully break out of their world, I'd say that's an extreme circumstance, so hopefully we'll get help sooner rather than later."
"Have you guys ever met the other groups?" Sydney asked.
"Toshino and Ken came from another group to meet with Kensei and James about something a while back, but I don't know what it was about."
"We didn't even get to talk to them; they left as soon as they came."
"I guess not even the Guardians know everything then," Sydney said, it seeming strange how for so long they seemed to be so wise, so all knowing, and maybe Kensei was, but maybe the others were as lost as he was in all this. True, they had more experience and knowledge, but there seemed to be so much that he didn't see, and an uncertainty that plagued them all.
"Nope, especially not Max here," Sarah said with a smile even as she had an apple hit her in the face.
"You want to come training with us? I'm sure you could use the practice," Max said, gathering the trash from his breakfast and getting up from the table.
"It's better than doing nothing I guess."
The courtyard was no longer filled with guests of the sick, so it made a perfect place for the Guardians to practice without fear of others getting in the way. Though they knew they couldn't unleash the full might of their destructive powers, but even so, just sparing would keep them ready should danger find them, and would help Sydney get some more experience fighting where it wasn't a life or death situation.
Max and Sarah called upon their powers, the red and blue armor encasing them respectively. From his back, Max drew his twin rapiers, fire instantly dancing upon them. "Call upon your armor too," Max ordered and Sydney did. It felt strange that he was calling upon this power at a time when he wasn't in danger; he didn't have the adrenaline of a coming battle to fuel him. This time he could take in the calmness of the light, the comfort and protection it brought him as he felt his body wrapped by the cool white force.
Pulling his own sword out, he barely had time to react as Max ran at him, raising his blade. Sydney tried blocking it, but the force was too great, their swords clashed and Sydney's fell to the ground.
"Swords are made for offense, not for defense," Max said as Sydney scrambled to pick up his blade. "They are made to slice, and trying to use it as a defense puts a great strain on it, possibly breaking it, or at the least, making it hard to hold on to."
Sydney grabbed his blade, letting Max's words sink in. That made sense, despite all the TV shows and movies where one would block with swords, what he felt told him that this wasn't the case.
"In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that your blade is infused with light, doing that would have probably caused it to shatter."
"Then how do I defend?" Sydney asked, brushing the dirt off his blade and taking a battling stance again. He was so new with fighting with the weapon, that even as the light guided him, he knew how inexperience he was, and how that could cost him greatly in battle.
"You must learn to use your armor and light to protect yourself. Let your sword focus on offense, cutting down your foe when you've found an opening, or channeling your light through it to break through their defense."
"You guys have fun, I'm going to go have fun by shooting arrows inches from some military guys' heads," Sarah said, never too interested in swordsmanship. Sure, she knew how to wield a blade should she need to, but for her sitting back, letting her arrows and ice handle combat came much more naturally to her.
"That can't end well," Sydney said while Max shrugged his shoulders, deciding now was not the time to worry about things like that.
"You want to try that again."
Sydney held his blade out, seeing that Max had taken the same stance, one blade held back and one forward. If he had to guess, it would be a double strike, the first to drill a hole through his defenses, and the second would try to exploit that hole.
Sydney held his own sword out, knowing that if he could put Max on the defense he could win. Max held a sword in both hands, which would mean he'd limit his defensive options. It made him dangerous, but at the same time it was his weakness.
Max ran at him again, and Sydney called upon the light in him, fired a beam of it at Max, who cut through it with his front blade, but that meant both of his swords were on his left side, and before Max could adjust it, Sydney ran at him. However, Sydney being right handed meant that he'd be attacking where both Max's swords were and he was sure his opponent would be able to counter. Still, if what Max said was right, Sydney might be able to get through his defenses.
However, with a smile and speed faster than Sydney could follow, Max readjusted his weapons, and sliced across Sydney's chest with enough force to send him flying onto his back.
Sydney didn't even notice he was on the ground for a few seconds, the world still spinning with the dirt next to his face.
"Nice trick," Max said, holding his hand out for Sydney. "That's what I was talking about."
Sydney got back up, tried brushing the dirt off his armor, his head hurting a bit from that one. It seemed like no matter what he tried, whatever opponent there was just was able to overpower him. "Then why did it end up with me on my back, and in pain?"
"Because you couldn't use an attack strong enough to truly throw me off balance here, and I've learned to readjust quickly to incoming attacks."
"Is there a way to beat you then?" Sydney asked, wondering if just everyone was much stronger than him. It seemed like all he did was stay back or get his butt kicked.
"That armor, it must be them!" a voice called out.
Sydney and Max looked up to the roof and saw about half a dozen people standing around it, various ages, mostly guys but there was also a girl there.
"What are you doing up there?"
"Oh, we know that you're the ones who destroyed our homes, with your magic powers and stuff. They said that we should run, but we ain't letting some folks destroy our lives without a fight."
"What are you talking about?" Max asked.
"Just that we need you to die."
The one who appeared to be their leader jumped down from the roof, and landed unharmed despite the fact that he fell over 5 stories. "You think you're so special." At that, the man's hand filled with fire. "But He told us about that you weren't the only ones with a gift."
The man shot a fireball at Max, thought it harmlessly collided into his armor. The others on the roof also jumped down, revealing that they too were fire elementals.
"What's going on here?" Sydney asked, readying his blade though not wanting to use it on those who seemed so lost and confused.
"The Nightwings or Hakalahs must have gotten to them." The strangers began firing at the Guardians the heat of the flames filling the air. However, as Sydney prepared to face the attack, the fire harmlessly collided into his armor as well. Max ran into the group, a white flame sprouting from his sword. It went out the brightest flame Sydney had ever seen, and while some of them ran or tried to deflect it, it consumed them just the same, and all of them fell to the ground unconscious.
Despite the shock at such an attack, Sydney walked over to them, wondering if Max had killed them. Looking down, he saw that they were still breathing and appeared to be unharmed from the attack.
"They'll be unconscious for a while, but we need to make sure they step up security around here," Max said.
Sydney agreed and followed his friend through the halls of the hospital he had finally started to learn his way around. He knew more than ever that things were going to get worse before they got better.