Xin Jiang, Grade 9, James Ruse Agricultural High School
1st in the '2002 Schools Short Story Competition - Superheros and Superstars Theme' competition
She watches him, violet eyes wary in the cloaking shadows of the dim-lit cavern. He seems to bend over, adjusting his creation with parent-like care. The Master-Machine. The object that will purge all life in City Cronos. In mere minutes it will be ready for activation…
She takes in a soft breath. Time is more precious than the priceless sea-jewels, but she knows she cannot afford to be sensed. Surprise is all she has – he is stronger than her tenfold. And if he defeats her… all will surely be lost…
Closing her eyes briefly, she grabs a tendril of magic from the power-pool within and floods her work-calloused hands with the tingling inner-force. Prepared, she steps from the shadows. A faint breeze of artificial air brushes against raven hair. It is time.
Taking another step forward, she focuses the power in her hands, instantly forming two balls of fire. Pushing all energy into them, she flares her hands, launching them forward…
It is as if they have hit a brick wall. Two balls of fire bounce off the invisible mage-shield and dissolve harmlessly into the air. Her quiet exclamation of surprise is cut off as a low chuckle bounces eerily through the dim cavern. He turns. Amber eyes meet unblinking violet.
“Well, well, well.” He chuckles again. “Greetings to you, mysterious Light-Watcher. I have been expecting you.” With unpredictable force, she is hurled backwards, her body hitting a crumbling surface with a sickening crunch. Gasping in pain, she tries to struggle against the grip of his power, but to no avail. He is too strong…
Failure! Failure! You have failed us all! Ghosts of her past taunt her; their mocking chants filling her with new despair. Images of her past flash by. Her first lesson in Control… the bitter aftertaste of the cough tonic… her mentor drowning in his own blood…
The last memory grows bright before her eyes. She can almost smell the metallic tang of fresh blood pouring out of her mentor’s side after the raid he had performed… Something within her snaps. Dormant, unknown power rushes to flood her body, healing her, breaking his power-hold upon her and sending dagger-stabs into his unprotected mind.
With a ragged howl he staggers back, hands clutched at his head in open pain. She smirks. Perhaps City Cronos will survive after all… Focusing her power into one single beam, she thrusts it towards his fast-weakening mage-shield. It shatters with a growling boom. The beam continues, piercing through him and his accursed machine. It is finished.
Before her, nothing remains except a pile of charred bones and ash. The smell of burnt flesh makes her gag, and she turns away, relieved but not proud. Muttering a few words in desperation under her breath, she hears the familiar high whistle of transmission-travel… and disappears.
It is another threat undone. Another victory won. Another day in the life of the Light-Watcher.