Book 2: Chapter 1

The Concert

Vault laid down in her bed. Her mind was restless ever since the move, and even though she wanted to, she could not bring herself to fall asleep. Her eyes traced along the edges of her ceiling in sullen boredom, and as she rolled to her side, she fixated on the posters on the wall. They were for a band she’d never seen nor heard of before. She was a girl of seventeen, and even though the room was for a girl her age, it didn’t feel like hers. Her tired eyes turned towards the window behind her bed as she pondered what she was missing.

Just then, she heard a rock hit the window. She smiled and shook her head as another rock banged against the window.

She pulled open the window and looked down at Key , standing outside alone forty feet below. He stood out there alone, with shorts, no shirt, and an amused smirk that seemed to always grace his face.

Vault looked down, folded her arms at Key and whispered, ‘Hi’.

“Hey Vault!”’ Key shouted. Vault gestured for him to be quiet. Key nodded his head and said slightly quieter, “You’re going to miss the concert!”

“I can’t go out!” Vault said, “My aunt and uncle won’t let me!”

“But you know you want to go!” Key said, frustrated. Vault looked away. “V” Key stated, “We were in those comas for six years. There’s a million things we’ve missed out on. I don’t want you to regret missing one.”

Vault started to say something, but she heard noises outside of her door. She quickly closed her window and rapidly pulled the covers over her body as she heard the door creak open.

“Hi”, her uncle said, peeping around the door.

“Hi!” Vault answered, trying to hide her panic.

Her uncle entered her room. He was a man of about forty-five years old. She could tell by the way he walked towards her bed that he was uncomfortable with this situation. He wore a dark blue bathrobe over his pajamas, and his mustache provided dark contrast to his otherwise soft face. He had a disarming wholesomeness that made her trust him implicitly. It wasn’t a feeling she was used to.

He sat at the foot of her bed. “I couldn’t sleep tonight.”

“Me neither.” Vault answered.

“It’s the new rooms.” he smiled, “The safer rooms. It’s important that we’re in the same building as team Order if we’re going to keep the family safe.”

“There’s a lot that’s different.” Vault said in a half-whisper.

He paused and looked down thoughtfully. “Now I know I’m not your father. I’m not like him. I never was. And I know I can’t replace him, but we have to stick together as a family. Which is why, obviously, you can’t go to that concert.”

“I was never going to go to that concert! Do you not trust my judgment?”

“It’s not that I don’t trust it. It’s just that you’re still a kid! And there’s so much at stake! I know you have friends who ran off with Chaos , but so did all those gang members. If anyone got a hold of you, I’d never forgive myself!”

“That wouldn’t happen.” Vault said.

“We don’t have the police anymore to look out for us, or anyone else … that could help you get out of things.”

“And you think that without that, I’m not capable enough to make my own choices?” “I didn’t say that.” her uncle answered.

Vault pushed her head against the pillow. “We should both get some sleep.” she snarled.

Her uncle got up and started walking towards the door. He turned back for a moment to find her head turned away from him. He shook his head and walked out the door.

Vault turned towards the window with a furrowed brow. She opened the window a crack. She waited five seconds until she heard the quiet ping of a rock against the glass.

The booming pulse of electric base vibrated through the air. The ground itself began to shake as the interwoven sounds of the viola and electric guitar mixed together in a euphoric harmony, as the earth itself seemed to boom in accordance to the synchronized music.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Vault said, trailing behind Key , as they both walked up a steep hill.

“Of course!” Key smiled, “You’ve got to let yourself live a little!”

“I never understood why you joined the Order side. It’s not really like you.” Vault said.

“Maybe I thought you could use some company.” Key smiled and they shared a glance. “Come on.” he said, “We’re almost there.”

The pair progressed forward to the top of the hill, and could see the stadium several hundred feet away. As they continued forward, Vault started breathing more heavily, and her hands started sweating. Eventually, they neared the entrance where two of Key’s friends, Valentine and Glasses stood there to greet them.

“My boys!” Key smiled, shaking hands with Valentine and patting Glasses on the back.

“Hi guys.” Vault smiled politely. She looked towards the entrance and saw a man standing there with a dark purple jacket and fangs on his screen guarding the entrance.

“You good to head in?” Glasses asked.

“Let's do it! First concert of Nozomi!” Key grinned. Valentine and Glasses nodded their heads in excitement.

Vault quietly turned to Key, “I think I should go back. This is Chaos territory, and I uh…”

“Don’t let the tough exterior scare you.” Key said, “These Chaos guys are all about freedom and not listening to anyone. Most people joined because Order -” he started.

“-is a jackass” everyone said in unison.

“Thank you.” Key said. “But most of all, I know you V. And I know you’ll regret it.”

She looked down and took a breath, “Okay” she nodded nervously, “Let's go.”

The synchronic booms of the electronic music pulsed through the entire stadium as all around, people were dancing in harmonic motion. Bright lights from the stage shone across the dark crowd. On stage, EDM dj-ed his interwoven beats to the rhythm of the crowd. Rapid pulses played in succession as his music grew quiet and quieter still. That was when a man walked onto the stage in a red coat.

“That’s Wolfgang.” Key said to Vault .

Wolfgang lifted his Viola and placed it under his chin. He drew back his string and waited for the beat to drop. Once it did, he wove several notes together in artistic contrast to the melody. His classical harmony played well against the booms of the electric background rhythm. His notes ebbed and flowed, scaled and quieted, all while giving a classical hymn new life while contrasted against the electronic base. That was when another man entered the stage. He had a black screen and a dark leather jacket with tattoos stretched across his neck. He walked next to Wolfgang and they turned to face each other. Wolfgang drew back his bow. The man in black picked up an electric guitar, and after a breath, they both started playing. The electric guitar roared across the stadium to loud fanfare and a powerful rock and roll sound. Wolfgang matched his sound and played loudly and with vigor. The two instruments clashed in perfect harmony as the electric music pulsed loudly in the background. As the crowd cheered and danced to the music, Valentine and Glasses were facing forward fifteen feet behind Key and Vault .

“Do you think he has a shot?” Glasses asked.

“Only if he takes her into his arms, pulls her close and tells her that she is his flower! And every moment he spends apart from her presence, is a moment that is less fertile and abundant with life!”

Glasses turned to Valentine with a deadpan stare. “Does that line ever work?”

Valentine gazed towards Key and Vault . The pair stood next to each other, but avoided facing each other. He relished their cute tension. “No.” Valentine answered, “No one’s used my lines yet.”

A hundred feet above, in the top floor of the stadium, Chaos loomed over the concert occurring below him. He watched hordes of people dancing below, like ants scurrying across the earth. He could see them dancing with vibrant emotion, while Coder , standing by his side, had his hands on the controls.

“Is everything going as planned?” Chaos asked him.

“Yeah. It looks like a great concert!” Coder said. “To be honest, I never thought you would plan something like this. They really seem to like it!”

“And why didn’t you think that of me?” Chaos turned to Coder.

“Well, I used to work for Order before this. He disliked the gang for the way they did things, but my gut said you would be the better leader.” Coder said with cautious optimism, “That’s why I joined your side.”

Chaos ’s eyes turned towards the crowd. He scanned across the blinking lights for brief glances of their faces. He closed his eyes and smiled with his back to Coder . “You were both wrong.” Chaos stated to Coder’s surprise. “Power’s a funny thing. When people see me, they project their deepest hopes and their worst fears. It’s true that I can create a concert, and it’s true that I can destroy everything these people hold dear, and you look at me like these things aren’t the same.” Coder stared towards Chaos with concern echoed in his eyes. “Look at these people below us. The way they cheer and raise their voices. They are living the peak of their existence. The very height of their emotional crescendo. This is what I live for.”

“Then keep doing this.” Coder insisted, “We can keep having concerts! There’s no need to destroy anything.”

“Have you ever been to a concert?” Chaos asked, turning towards the crowd, “Have you ever been to a concert every day?”. Chaos looked over the dancing crowd, drinking in their heightened joy. “These people will tire of this euphoria. Takahashi’s serum works because it changes the stimulus of happiness infinitely - something concerts can’t do. I’m no chemist, but I know that.” Chaos turned away from the crowd and walked towards Coder and smiled. “And so it falls to me to give their lives meaning and watch the fire in their eyes burn as their souls awaken from the dire conflict around them.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Coder asked him, trembling. “Are you going to kill me?”

Chaos laughed. “Haven’t you been listening? The same reason I do everything else,” He walked away towards the door. “For the look on your face.”

On the bottom floor of an apartment building, Order sat alone at a table with both palms resting on its surface. He closed his eyes and thought carefully. He adjusted his fingers so that each of them were approximately five degrees apart and his thumbs were parallel to the adjacent index finger. He took a deep breath, and turned back time to a memory, an old memory where he could channel all of his focus and adrenaline.

He felt a kick against the table leg. He opened his eyes and saw Kitsune standing before him with her arms folded. He blinked his eyes as he regained his sense of the present moment. They were on the bottom floor of an apartment building. The interior was ornate with mahogany tables and marble floors, but everything appeared to be covered in a thick layer of dust. Order sat at a small table towards the center of the lobby, while Kitsune stood before him and Hero and Superior stood close to the door.

“Hey!” Kitsune barked, “Are you still with us!”

“Waking him from his meditation…” Superior noted, “that’s ironic.”

“Don’t pretend that you don’t know what meditation is for!” Kitsune shouted towards Superior , “It’s to grow your inner focus for when you need it! But we need it now. The time for growth has passed!”

“Yet what you fail to understand is that I need focus!” Order said. “We need to plan everything perfectly if we’re going to survive as a faction. I need to prepare for every situation, and you need to do exactly what I tell you to do! Otherwise, this doesn’t work.”

“Well we need to do something.” Kitsune said, “ Chaos is evil. I could sense it when I first saw him at the festival. I won’t wait to see what he has planned. Between Hero , Superior and I, we have more than enough strength to take him out.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.” Superior said.

“Fine, then just Hero and I.” Kitsune answered.

“You’re going with that traitor?” Superior asked.

“Didn’t you also switch sides?” Kitsune retorted.

“I was never on anyone’s side.” Superior said.

“Right.” Kitsune said with contempt, “You never had any ideals to start with.”

“I don’t burden myself with catchphrases on what should work - only what does.”

“Children!” Order shouted and everyone grew quiet, “Brute force isn’t always enough. As soon as we stop planning, we surrender the advantage. We need to plan first and act at my own discretion!”

“If we plan forever, we can’t win at all. My brother and I won’t fight together, but even he and I agree on this. I’m going to bring back Chaos dead or alive.” Kitsune turned to Hero , “Hero! Are you ready to fight the forces of chaos?”

Hero unfolded his muscular arms and walked towards the door. “There’s nothing I’d like more.”

The music boomed as the sound of the guitar raged across the entire stadium. Kasumi , Vine, Birdcage , and Athlete all jumped up and down to the beat of the electric pulse and interwoven viola.

Birdcage threw both her arms in the air and cheered wildly, “Whooo!” she roared.

“whoo” Vine meekly echoed with her hands up to her shoulders.

“Come on, get into it!” Birdcage shouted enthusiastically. “This is it!” she said, as tears formed in her kind eyes.

“Hey” Kasumi said, turning to her, “Why are you crying?”

“I’m sorry.” Birdcage said, wiping her eyes, “But this is it! All the protests I went to. Everything the resistance did. It was all for this!” she gestured towards the stage, “So we could all be free and enjoy a moment like this.”

“Aww” Kasumi smiled and gave her a hug. Vine also smiled politely.

Then the music slowed to a stop. Athlete and Vine began to look around. Then the sound of steel rang across the stadium.

Kitsune sprinted through the crowd which began to spread to the edges of the stadium in her presence. Kasumi , Vine, Birdcage and Athlete stood still in the center of the crowd.

“I’m here for Chaos !” Kitsune shouted to the crowd and walked towards her friends, “Do any of you know where I’ll find him?”

“Why would we tell you?” Birdcage said.

“Excuse me?” Kitsune replied.

“Why are you here?” Kasumi asked.

“I’m here to make Chaos answer for his crimes. I’m going to send him to prison where he belongs.”

“What has he even done?” Athlete insisted, “He’s a scary guy, but he hasn’t done anything bad. And you’re sending him to prison?”

“I’ve got him!” Hero shouted all the way from the entrance, with Chaos standing by his side. Kitsune began to walk away.

Kasumi tugged at Kitsune’s arm. “Why are you doing this?” Kasumi asked. “Why did you join Order ? You fought for a world where we can be free. Why won’t you let us be free?”

“I fought for our world to be a better place. That can never be if we allow evil men like him to roam free. I’ve made my choice.” Kitsune said, and walked away towards the entrance.

“What are we supposed to do now?” Vine asked.

“We’re so close to the world we want.” Birdcage said, “I don’t want to think about what Order has planned next.”

“I think we should also fight for the world to be a better place.” Kasumi said, “I’ve been suspicious of Chaos from the start, but I can’t stand the thought of Order winning.” she paused, “That’s why, the first chance we get, we should break Chaos out of prison.”

“What the hell! What the hell! What the hell!” Vault shouted as she, Key , Glasses , and Valentine ran down the hill away from the stadium. “You said this would be safe and fun! She had a sword she was swinging around! Did you see that sword?!”

“I’m sorry. I did not see that coming.” Key said, then looked back at her smiling, “but we made it out though, right?”

“Well, yeah, barely, but I don’t know. That could have turned violent.” Vault said as they reached the bottom of the hill, gasping for air. Glasses and Valentine smiled at each other while Key grinned and glanced at Vault .

“I haven’t felt that much adrenaline in a long time.” Key said with a smile.

“Yeah, well, that was about enough for me.” Vault said, glancing down.

“Are you glad you came though?” Key asked.

“Maybe.” Vault answered.

“Did you have fun though?” Key asked.

“...yeah I had fun.” Vault said, looking away.

“Then let's get you back home.” Key said smiling.

Vault tiptoed through the dark apartment, past her aunt and uncle’s bedroom, each of her cousins’ bedrooms, then finally towards her own. She slowly opened her door and gently nudged it closed. Then as quietly as she could, she pulled back her sheets and nestled under her covers. Her heart was still beating rapidly from the night’s adrenaline, yet she couldn’t stop herself from smiling.