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#midnight dawn

Midnight, Dawn.

The moon is full

I can see the bright light, shining

Upwards I pull

I use all my strength

Just to scale these walls

It’ll all be worth it

Until I fall.

I can see the light

Shining, through the darkness

Of night

Singing me my memories.

I can hear the wind through the trees

I can smell the air.

I pull myself out of the hole

A pit

I filled with pitty and despair.

I fill my lungs with the fresh air,

I can finally see a sunrise once again.

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My spirit lays faded—
Addled and uncompleted. Strapped and seated.
Saddled astride the horizon’s shadowed hilt.
Held as hopeless witness to the unsheathing.
Sol’s crescent sabre; Cosmic and commanding.
Blade so blinding as it slaughters the sky.
Darkest nights of woe, doubt, and shame;
Slain by scimitars of celestial light.

My soul bleeds humors—
Spilled out and splattered. Bottled and filtered.
Aged with my will then distilled for my quill,
To ink out existential stanzas as lyrics somehow sung.
A requiem for the even; by bells of twilight rung.
Achlys’ hushed tongue on a blighted sigh.
Luna’s tide slighted with oceans so confused;
Yet, refusing to diffuse, desist, or abide.

My mind sails adrift—
Riding the flux of film, frost, and fog.
Currents clogged by filthy blame and excuse;
‘Til I cascade over all sides with bereft stars for eyes.
Seedlings of solace below; drowned and waylaid.
Pandora’s plants immersed in boxes betrayed.
Forsaken by naiveté and Nirvana’s timeless silt.
Flooded and weeping. Waking and perceiving.

© C.J. Lightbourn 2014

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((Part three at last.  You can find the first two parts by doing a search in my blog for the Midnight Dawn tag))


Commander Kusanagi,

Consider this my letter of resignation. I have served under Ki for eight years, and with you for the five years since TECH purchased Ki. We have both borne witness to many battles, including the Magi Wars.  But when we learned the identity of Mjollnir’s leader, I knew that my service under you would come to an end. It is not out of disrespect towards you, your family, or the president that I leave you, but out of loyalty to my friend, Aekir Cadel. He is not simply a friend; he is a brother to me. I sense that you will not like my decision. In fact, if I know you like I think I do, you’re probably sending your men to find me at this very moment.

I am sorry, Commander.  I hope that when next we meet, it will be under better circumstances.

Regards,

Lt. Cdr. Setzer Alke


The general store was what Midnight expected it to be.  It was a tiny building that looked as if it had seen its best days decades ago. Everything was covered in a layer of dust, suggesting that few came here regularly, and all of the machines were outdated. The goods carried by the store were spartan, at best. Food, ice, the occasional magazines, and the like.  Nothing terribly extravagant.  To the left of Midnight was the proprietor  an elderly bespectacled man tending an old-time cash register.  He looked up at Midnight and nodded in greeting, and Midnight nodded to him politely, hoping that his physical description wasn’t that well known in Quidley. Small town or no, Midnight was still a wanted criminal.

It only took a minute for Midnight to find what he needed, and he returned to the shopkeeper with a stack of dried meat and a case of bottled water.  As he put a few sterlings on the counter to pay for his goods, he spoke to the shopkeeper.  "I need to get to the east coast fast,“ he said, careful not to precisely state his destination.  "Who do I turn to?”

The shopkeeper adjusted his glasses as he counted Midnight’s money.  "Well, son,“ he said, "there’s a bus that’ll take you to Laguna, but it doesn’t come for another two days.  And the bus to Portova takes even longer to get here.”

“I don’t have time,” Midnight stated.  "Isn’t there another way?“

"I’m sorry son,” the shopkeeper said as he put the money in the cash register and handed Midnight his change.  "But I doubt you’ll find anyone from here willing to give you a ride. Folk here got enough problems as is.  Still, you’re not the only outsider to show up here today.“

This news came as a huge surprise to Midnight, after all, Quidley was a pretty insignificant place.  Midnight had worried that perhaps TECH had already found him.  Still, he cautiously asked "What sort of person?”

“Some noisy red-headed fellow at the bar,” the shopkeeper said.  "Said he was coming in to get a few drinks before meeting up with some woman elsewhere.  Forgot what he called himself, but he’s probably still there. Maybe you could ask him to give you a ride.“  Well, that didn’t match the description of anyone from TECH that Midnight knew, though he did know some noisy redheads. He didn’t think it likely that Setzer was indeed here in Quidley, but he didn’t want to hang around if he was.

"Thanks,” Midnight said, picking up his goods.  "And keep the change.“ With that, he waked out of the general store.  He wondered if Andrew took his advice and walked back to the motel. It did not take long for Midnight to see otherwise, as he saw that Andrew was in front of the bar, speaking to a tan skinned man with long red hair and a woman wrapped around each arm. The redhead was having considerable difficulty staying on his own two feet, and it was clear that the giggling women were there to support his balance just as much as they were there to listen to his stories.  Sure enough, that was Setzer Alke. Along with Midnight himself and Aekir Cadel, the three were known as the "Three Daevas of Ki” back in the days when the three of them served TECH. Nowadays Setzer was a lieutenant of Mjollnir, the enemy of the company he once served.

“Let me tell you something kid,” Setzer said rather loudly to Andrew, “they used to call me Dead Shot Setzer.  Maybe if I got time I’ll give you a little show, eh?”

Same old Setzer. Very loud. Very full of himself. Very dumb. “Just walk away,” Midnight thought to himself. “Maybe he won’t see you.”

“Hey! Michael!”

Midnight winced. Too late. The next thing he knew, Setzer was hanging off of him, using his shoulder for support. Much as Midnight guessed, his breath stunk of alcohol.

“Midnight,” the man in black said. “Call me Midnight.”

“Man,” Setzer said as he looked up at Midnight with a drunken gaze. “What are you so on about with this ‘Midnight’ nonsense? You trying to act like Mr. Hunt doesn’t know who you are? You trying to hide your identity or something, bro?”

“It’s none of your business,” Midnight said, trying to push Setzer off of him.

“Well let me tell you something, bro. If you want to hide, you’d probably be better off laying low. And blowing up Lab Gimel? That’s not laying low. Man, do you have any idea how pissed off Vera is at you right now?”

“Good,” Midnight said. The Vera that Setzer was referring to was Vera Leart, another lieutenant of Mjollnir, and widely considered to be Aekir’s second in command. Midnight had only met her once, in passing, though he’d heard a lot of stories about her. By all accounts, she was the best fighter that Mjollnir had. She was also instrumental in Mjollnir’s victory in the Battle of Delacroix, the first major battle that Mjollnir won against TECH, and the point in history that TECH President Hunt Vasci Antoire started taking Mjollnir seriously.

“Seriously,” Setzer said, still trying to get a word in.  "We got a good word in that they were researching that Tranquility Engine there. We were going to see if we could learn anything but no! You had to go in and blow it all sky-high, didn’t you?“

"Look, I thought we made this clear,” Midnight said. “I don’t do favors for Mjollnir. What you guys do is your business, and what I do is my business.” With that, he shoved Setzer off of him and into the arms of the two women he was talking to earlier, then turned and walked towards the motel with the intent to get a room for the night

“Hey!” Setzer shouted.  "Don’t just walk away from me!“ Midnight ignored him.  Fortunately, Setzer lost interest pretty quickly, and went right back to telling Andrew stories about himself. Midnight wondered if leaving Andrew with Setzer was a good idea, but if what the shopkeeper said was true, it didn’t seem that Setzer would be leaving to meet Vera anytime soon. Not in the drunken condition he was in.

Midnight supposed that perhaps someone who didn’t know any better would look at Setzer now and see him as a shell of his former self.  Midnight knew better.  He knew Setzer was always an idiot.

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((Actually had to do some research on this one.  I also intended to introduce another character here, but I got so sidetracked in the narrative that it had to wait.  Just as well.  Now you know a little about the world of Midnight Dawn.))


“My home is gone. My family is gone. Everything that I ever knew–all gone. They tell me that a surge of arcane mana flowed through the leyline under the reactor unexpectedly, resulting in an arcane flux that wiped out all of Lazaranth. Ever since the Disaster of Windham in 2210 they’ve been taking great measures to prevent such a thing happening again.  Why Lazaranth?  Why us? My people, the spiritfolk, wiped out so suddenly. I want to see what remains of Lazaranth for myself, but Hunt, my husband, tells me it is for the best that I don’t. He has spent these last few hours comforting my loss as best he can, but what can heal the hole in my soul now? My husband tells me that I must live on, but I fear that I am not strong enough.”

–Final Entry of the Diary of Esmerelda Antoire née Deja, ELD 2219, 9/12, three days before her death by suicide


Quidley was a small town that seemed to serve little purpose other than providing a rest stop between Montavi and Laguna. Looking around downtown, Midnight saw a fuel station, a general store, a meager hotel, a doctor’s office, a post office, and little else beyond the bare bones of a small town.  The residential areas were most likely outside the city limits.  Most of the buildings were old; some looked in desperate need of renovation.  It wasn’t a ghost town; the man in black took note of the occasional car passing down the road; but it seemed on its last legs.  It was nothing Midnight hadn’t seen before. This had become a fairly common occurance following the resolution of the energy crisis.

To sum it up, traditional energy such as coal, oil, and natural gas had been in dangerously short supply for quite some time, to the point that global war over the world’s resources seemed imminent. With world peace in jeopardy, attempts to find alternate sources of energy became a key issue of the time. Then in ELD 2203 (that was seventeen years ago, it was 2220 now) a man named Dr. Arsene Antoire discovered surges of powerful energy under the earth’s crust that he named “leylines”.  This energy, later named “mana” proved extremely useful due to its abundance, ease of conversion, ability to be refined into solid form, and ability to regenerate itself quickly.  TECH quickly purchased Dr. Antoire’s patent and spent the next few years working on a way to harvest mana for use as an energy source. In 2206 the first mana reactor was created in what is now known as Hunt City, and it proved to be an enormous success. The energy was cheap and efficient enough that the city experienced a growth that was practically unheard of at the time, nearly tripling in size as people from all walks of life left their homes to find new fortune in the new city.  As TECH’s influence grew, more and more mana reactors were put in place in cities around the world.  Some were large and important cities that could not afford not to have access to this new energy. Midnight’s current destination, the port city of Laguna, was one of them. Others were given mana reactors as a result of convenience and circumstance, as they sat on leylines that allowed for easy extraction of mana. Delacroix, current base of the anti-TECH insurgent group Mjollnir, is an example, as it was considered largely unremarkable until the discovery of a leyline underneath.

Of course, as people began to flock to the new cities, the old ones were left almost completely empty to fend for themselves.  Quidley was simply one example; in fact it was one of the better examples.  Midnight had seen quite a few old cities that were reduced to ghost towns. At least Quidley had some activity, little as it was. Most likely, Quidley was running on a coal power plant that was on its last legs. In a few years, it would probably suffer the same fate as all the other small towns: abandoned and forgotten.

“I don’t think we’ll find ice cream here,” Andrew said quietly. Indeed, Midnight figured he’d be hard pressed to find any luxuries here. If any goods were being shipped to the general store, they were necessities and little else.  Midnight, however, had other worries.

“We need to find a vehicle,” he said.  "We can’t just walk to Laguna. Not with TECH after us.“

Andrew mostly ignored Midnight’s concerns, as he was still taking in the sights (or rather, the lack of sights) of Quidley.  When Midnight mentioned Laguna, however, a thought occurred to him to ask a question he’d never bothered to ask since he met Midnight at the Lab Gimel incident.  "Why are we going to Laguna, anyway?”

“That’s none of your business, kid,” Midnight said in a dismissive tone.  "And I am going to Laguna. You are out of my hair as soon as I find a way to get rid of you without getting you killed.“

"Hey, you don’t have to be that way!” Andrew protested.  "I can help out a lot, you know.“

Midnight sighed and shook his head.  "Listen kid, you may be a spirit-folk, but you’re young and you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.”

“But we took out that LLAMA mech, right? You couldn’t have done that without me!”

“Yes I could,” Midnight said, still refusing to budge on the matter. “In fact I have before.  If anything you were a liability. And besides, I don’t want anyone getting involved in my business anyway, especially not kids. This is TECH I’m dealing with. And they’re not going to stop coming after me until I or they are dead. And if you get involved, they’ll be coming after you too, and I’m not going to babysit you the whole way.”

At that last statement, Andrew stopped walking.  Midnight took notice and looked back.  The young boy wasn’t crying, though he looked at Midnight with a bleak expression on his face that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on a young child being told he wasn’t tall enough to ride the roller coaster he’d saved up all his money for a chance to ride. Midnight sighed and shook his head as he tried to explain things in a less coarse manner. “Listen, kid,” he began in a lower voice, “I know just telling you ‘go home’ isn’t going to work here. But still, you know who I am. You know what it is I do. You seem like a good kid, Andrew. That’s why I don’t want you getting mixed up this.”  He paused, waiting for Andrew to say something.  When it was clear that the young boy wouldn’t, he shook his head and turned back towards the general store.  "I’m going to get some supplies,“ he said.  "Look around town if you want.  I’ll meet you at the motel.”

And with that, Midnight walked inside, leaving Andrew alone. Midnight didn’t know at the time that Andrew had much more to do with TECH than it first appeared, although even if he knew, it’s unlikely his stance would have changed.  What happened to Andrew and his people was unfortunate, sure, but it was no reason for one as young as he to recklessly put his life in jeopardy.

“He reminds me too much of myself,” Midnight mumbled under his breath.

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((This is the start of a remake of an old story I did a very long time ago.  I’m gonna try to make this a thing.  Hope everyone likes it.))


High Command has issued an all-points alert after the destruction of Lab Gimel in Montavi concerning class S criminal, “Midnight”, real name [REDACTED]. Suspect was last seen heading due east in a stolen black Manyu Cheetah that he procured during the confusion that immediately followed the destruction of Lab Gimel. We have reason to believe he may be heading towards a port city, such as Laguna or Portova, with the intent to flee to an area outside of TECH jurisdiction. Units are advised to exercise extreme caution, as Midnight is heavily armed and extremely dangerous.  He has been seen in the company of a small child, approximately ten to twelve years old.  At present, we do not believe this child is a hostage.

Midnight must be brought to Hunt City at once. Alive or dead, it matters not.

Cdr. Akira Kusanagi


It would have been nice to ride in a car.  The day was hot, and the road had no end in sight.  As the man in black walked along the part of the highway where the asphalt meets soil, he wiped the sweat from his brow and cursed himself.  True, he did take a vehicle.  Unfortunately, it only got him and his companion halfway to Quidley before it died.  He wasn’t certain what was wrong with it, nor did he take the time to find out.  After all, he wasn’t a mechanic.  He might as well have tried reasoning with a tretu.

He wasn’t exactly wearing an outfit suitable for a hot day such as this, either.  He wore a black jacket over a navy blue shirt, along with dark grey trousers.  The dark colors were a poor choice in the hot sun.  The fact that he carried a rather heavy leather case five feet in length did little to help his stamina, as did the backpack hanging from his back.  Still, as bad as it was for him, he imagined his companion, a young boy who couldn’t have been any older than twelve, had it even worse.  The older of the two wiped the sweat from his hair, which bore a shade of blond that made it look as bleached as what he imagined his bones would look like if he were to die here.

It wasn’t the heat that would prove fatal, mind you.  After all, the man in black had been through harsher conditions.  No, it was the fact that TECH could be following them.  Being on the road was a risky venture, but he needed to get to Quidley (actually, he needed to get to Laguna, and then Galan, but Quidley was on the way and he needed supplies) and he didn’t know enough about the area to risk a trip through the backwoods.  Not like hiding in the underbrush was going to save them anyway, especially if TECH sicced a tretu on them.

“How far is it now?” the young boy asked, looking up at the man in black with his unusual blue eyes.  Deep azure pools surrounded by light blue sclera, a clear mark of one of the spirit people.

“Damned if I know,” the man in black replied without turning back.

“But Midnight,” the young boy said again.  The man in black did have a more proper name, but all he ever called himself was Midnight, and hardly anyone knew him as anything else. “We’ve been on this road for hours.”

“Well, we were halfway to Quidley when our ride broke down,” Midnight said in a reassuring tone.  "Shouldn’t be too much further.“  He hoped.  He worried that he’d either taken a wrong turn or he was much farther from the town than he’d realized.  Midnight was a lot of things.  Good in a fight?  Yes.  He definitely was this.  But he worked best with someone calling the shots.  For as far back as he could remember, he always took orders.  He never had a problem with it, as he understood his limitations.  He wasn’t stupid; far removed, actually; but he wasn’t very good at planning a strategy. Midnight’s approach to a problem had always been to kick the door down, which is why it was Aekir, and not Midnight, that was made the leader of his unit in Ki. Much (or more appropriately, little) as Midnight thought of Aekir, this was one time when he would have liked to have his wisdom.

Fortunately for Midnight, fate was somewhat kind to him today.  After another ten minutes of walking, Midnight made out a sign in the distance.

QUIDLEY

NEXT EXIT

"We’re almost there, Andrew,” Midnight said.  "Let’s hurry up and find a place to eat.“  Perhaps it was the sense of relief, but Midnight felt the weight of his struggles becoming considerably lighter, as did Andrew, who almost ran ahead of him in his haste.

"You think they’ll have ice cream there?” Andrew asked.

“We’ll know soon enough.”

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