Dark Reflections

Chapter 7: The Day the Earth Stood Still

          Tory and Meilin had been running for who knew how long.  They had long since lost track of time, and since time technically wasn’t moving that was understandable.  At some point during the day Tory had ceased to think of Meilin as Rae.  They were being chased by crazy bikes for crying out loud! What did formalities matter?

          “T-tory? Why are they chasing us?” Meilin’s eyes were wide with fright, her voice caught.  He could hear the terror setting in… and it worried him.  She had always been so strong.  His grip on her hand tightened, but he didn’t dare look back.  They had to keep going.

          “Just keep running. Don’t stop!” He was careful to keep his own growing worry out of his voice.

          He risked a quick glance over his shoulder – the bikes were gaining on them.  He returned his focus to the street ahead.  At least they were away from all the people.  Remembering all the frozen townspeople they had passed he almost shuddered.  In fact, he probably would have had it not been for Meilin.  He had to be strong- for her. He glanced back once more. They were still gaining.  The bikes definitely had the advantage on flat ground.  Come to think of it, maybe it would have been better to be in a crowded area.  The bikes had speed but they lacked maneuverability. He quickly dismissed the idea.  The bikes would probably just plow through the crowd.  People would get hurt - innocent, unsuspecting people who had no way to protect themselves.

          A thought struck him.

          Why were he and Meilin still awake?

          And he was almost certain the voice he had heard earlier was Madison’s.  Why were they, of all the townspeople, awake? This was clearly the result of some sort of magic, and only those with strong magic of their own could withstand such a powerful assault.  And they had no magic, not Meilin, not Madison, not even him (who had once had magic).  They should all be frozen.  Unless…

          Unless the spell-caster had specifically chosen that they be exempt.  So the attacker had singled them out.  Why?

          He remembered the still faces of Rita, Nikki, Chelsea, and Zach.  They had been different from all the others hadn’t they?  He focused on the memory, deftly jumping a hedge, his body running on autopilot while his mind wandered.

          They had been walking through the school, searching for Sakura, but he was also looking for Madison – he was so sure it was her voice, but it had vanished.  Everything was so eerie, completely still and soundless.  Like the calm before the storm.  Even their footsteps failed to echo – there were too many bodies to absorb the noise.   But they were all frozen.  As if someone had taken a snapshot.  The clock on the wall read 1:05, but it was later than that…wasn’t it?

          They had entered Sakura’s math class, escaping the crowded hall.  <It must have been passing period> he catalogued this automatically, already focusing on the few people in the room.  In one corner was a group of teens that he recognized <Sakura’s friends> He almost ignored them, turning to leave, Sakura obviously wasn’t here.  But Meilin’s hand on his arm stopped him.  His gaze flew to her face before following her line of sight.  They were…glowing.

          No one else had been glowing.

          “Sakura” He exclaimed softly, jumping over a ball, frozen unnaturally on the sloped street.  Only Sakura’s friends had been glowing.  Only those who knew of her card capturing adventures were awake.  The realization shook him to his core.

          Whatever it was, it was after Sakura!


          Madison and Eli were running now, as if they knew time was running short.  Madison pulled closer to Eli as they passed through another crowd of frozen people. Madison was suddenly very glad she had never been awake when Sakura used the time card. It was very unnerving to be walking through frozen people, living statues.

          This group was at the park. There was a woman there, a mother, poised at the end of the slide; a laughing child was frozen midway down the slide, ready to crash into her arms.  A boy and a girl were on the swings, frozen mid swing.  A little girl was building a sandcastle, her hand frozen over her bucket, the sloping sand looked unnatural as though she had just turned the bucket over and it was still settling.

          She winced as a loud hum filled the air.  She reached her free hand up to rub her ears. Then she felt Eli squeeze her other hand.  Looking up she saw movement! Someone was coming toward them.  It was Yue and Keroberos.  Madison almost cried out in relief.

          The guardians noticed the two teens as well, and came to a stop before them. 

          “Where’s Sakura?!” Eli was yelling, straining to be heard above the strange whining hum.  Where was that sound coming from anyway?  Wasn’t everything frozen?

          Yue’s eyes widened almost imperceptibly, “We assumed she was with you.  Weren’t you all in school together?” as soon as he began to speak the noise diminished.  Eli was grateful, but somewhere in the back of his mind this seemed strange <whatever it was, was it affected by moon magic?> he pushed the thought away.

          Eli shook his head, “Sakura and Li disappeared after lunch.” He answered in his normal, soft, tone.

          “You LOST Sakura!” Kero roared, he was in his true form.  “Clow would never-”

          “And the other girl?” Yue asked, interrupting without sparing the sun guardian a glance.

          “She wasn’t in school today.” Madison clung to Eli’s arm, but her voice was strong.

          “Then we’ve no way of knowing what happened to her.” Yue mused.

          “She has no magic! She’s probably frozen stiff!’

          “Not true, Keroberos,” the silver haired guardian contradicted, “Madison is also without magic.”

          Kero stopped short at Yue’s words and peered at Madison closely.  She resisted the urge to back away.  Having a lion in her face was… slightly unnerving.   

          “How are you still moving?” he asked her.

          Eli positioned himself in a more protective stance.  Not that he thought Kero would actually hurt her.

          “How would she know?” he asked coolly.

          “I think I saw Tory.” Madison said timidly, “Maybe everyone connected to Sakura is still awake.”

          Yue nodded solemnly, “It is possible.  Julian seemed unaffected by the spell.”

          “Speaking of Julian…” Kero turned to look at Eli once more, “where are your guardians?”

          “I do not know.” And though he sounded unconcerned, deep inside Eli was frightened. He couldn’t sense them.  Something was very wrong.


          “Sakura!” Li pulled her out to the side just as she was about to plow into a frozen car.  Sakura was nearly panting- she was athletic, but running through more than half the city was ridiculous.  She should have used dash, or fly.

          “Thanks.” She responded in gratitude.  Then she stopped.  She could still use fly.  They had to get to the top anyway.

          Li stopped as well peering at her curiously. “Sakura?” he questioned softly.

          Sakura didn’t respond.  She pulled off her necklace and summoned the staff. Pulling Fly from her pocket she considered her options.  She could ask Fly to give her wings, but she wasn’t certain she could carry Li that far.  Then she would have Fly give the staff wings – like it used too.  Then they could both sit on it.

          She tossed the card into the air. “Fly!” she summoned the card and it gave the staff wings.  It was amazing how the cards could sense what their mistress wanted.

          “Come on!” she called to Li.  The two hurriedly took their seats on the staff and took off.  Though time for the rest of the world was not moving, it was running short for them.  They could sense it.


          Madison shifted uncomfortably.  They were still standing in the park, and she was starting to get a bad feeling. It was time to get moving again.

          “You know,” she pointed out, “we didn’t actually lose Sakura.  We know where she was going.”

          “Where?!” Kero shouted.

          Madison rubbed her ears and looked at him in reprimand.

          “Sorry.” He grumbled.

          “They were going to the radio tower.” Eli supplied.  “But there’s no guarantee they’ll stay there.”

          “Still,” Yue reminded him, “It is a place to start.”

          Eli nodded, turning back in the direction he and Madison had been headed in earlier.

          “Eli,” Madison asked, “Can’t you just transport us there? Like earlier when we left the school.”

          He shook his head.  “I wish I could but-” he was cut off by a sharp twang and something whizzing past him. He moved out of the way just in time.  Yue picked whatever it was up off the ground.

          “An arrow?” he arched one graceful brow. He held it out to Eli who studied it closely.

          “But who would be shooting arrows at us?” Madison asked. “Only Sakura and her friends are awake.”

          “And whoever is responsible for this.” Yue stated.

          Madison’s eyes widened.  She had forgotten about that. “You mean,” she whispered, “they’re here?”

          “Possibly.” Eli told her. “But not necessarily.”

          Another arrow shot past them.  This one caught the edge of Madison’s skirt.

          “This isn’t good.” Kero dodged as more arrows came flying at them.  A few moments later a full barrage of arrows came flying toward them.  It would be impossible to escape.  Madison closed her eyes and raised an arm, waiting for the pain.  Yue and Kero dove in front of her using their wings as a shield.  They too braced themselves.  But the arrows never reached them.  They stopped in mid air and fell to the ground.

          Madison looked up in surprise and saw Eli.  His staff was raised and a faint glow shone out from it.  Gradually the glow faded.

          “Run!” Eli instructed.

          Madison took two steps forward before Yue yanked her back.  A bolt of lightening hit the ground where she had been standing.

          “Th-thank you.” She stammered.  She turned to Eli a question clear in her eyes.  What could they do?


          “Mr. Avalon?” Ms. Mackenzie was well into the University’s science wing now.  Would he be here in the lab? She had already checked the history wing without success.  Where did archeology fall anyway? History or science?

          She ducked her head as she passed a group of students, frozen with their arms in the air, handing something off.  She had long since grown used to the frozen figures.

          <Don’t Tory and Julian go to school here?> she wondered.  She knew they did.  Were they somewhere in the frozen crowd? She doubted it.  After all, she was still able to move.

          “Mr. Avalon!?” she cried again.  Why did she bother? Even if he was unaffected by whatever magic had caused time to stop, he was probably frightened, at the very least confused.  She approached a door on her left, not really certain why.  It seemed to beckon to her.  She leaned closer to read the plate on the door.  ‘Professor Avalon: Archeology’.  This must be his office then. 

          She knocked lightly on the door and then pushed it open a little when she got no answer.  She stuck her head inside.

          “Mr. A-” she saw him now, his head bent over a microscope.  At first she feared he was frozen and then she noticed his hands…

          They were moving.  He was sketching something.  She smiled and pushed the door open wider, stepping confidently inside.  She closed the door firmly behind her. 

          He still hadn’t heard her.

          Her smile widened then fell. He probably hadn’t looked up from that microscope in hours.  She was almost certain that he didn’t even know what was going on.  She approached him and touched his shoulder lightly.

          He jumped slightly and turned around.

          “Ms. Mackenzie, isn’t it?” he asked in surprise, taking off his glasses and rubbing them with a cloth then looking through them again, as though uncertain they were telling him the truth.

          She smiled seriously (if you can imagine that), “Yes, Mr. Avalon.  I am your daughter’s math teacher, and we have a problem…”


          They had almost reached their destination.  Tory prayed the bikes wouldn’t follow them into the library.  He increased his speed, pulling Meilin along behind him.

          “Tory!” she yelped as he caught her off guard and she stumbled.  Quickly he reached to steady her.

          “Sorry,” he said loudly, not turning around.  This turned out to be fortunate for him, because at least he missed her glare.

          “A little warning next time would be nice!” she snapped.

          “Fine, speeding up!” he called, shooting forward once more.

          She stifled another yelp of surprise and gave him the mother of all glares.  Her eyes were boring into the back of his head.  If looks could kill…

          “This way.” He pulled her to the left.

          “Where are we going?” She panted, they were both getting a little tired.

          “To the library.” He told her.

          “Oh, good idea.” She said sarcasm dripping from her words, “They’re probably terrified of books.  Or maybe the ‘no bikes allowed’ sign will remind them that bikes shouldn’t move on their own!” she yelled the last part in frustration.

          He cast her a withering glance, “Will you shut up now?” he asked.

          She grit her teeth but said nothing. 

          He sighed, “Look, we both need to rest.” He explained, “And I know how to lock the library doors.”

          He turned back long enough to see her answering nod and then focused on the street before him.  <Just a half dozen blocks to go.> He jumped a hedge, remembering just in time to warn Meilin.

          Something whizzed past his head.  The sound was familiar - and deadly.

          “Shoot!” he ducked yanking Meilin down just a little too hard.

          “Ow!” she exclaimed, rubbing her knee, “What was that-” another shot passed through where their heads had been a moment before. “Oh.” She acknowledged weakly.  Tory had saved her life yet again.

          Tory cursed under his breath.  Man, they just couldn’t catch a break!  This reminded him of his sister’s Shot card.  But that was impossible.  Wasn’t it?  He eyed the approaching bikes warily.

          They couldn’t stay here for much longer.  His only option was to make a break for it. If they could reach the library they should be alright.  But Meilin was already having a tough time.

          He only had one option, and Meilin wasn’t going to like it.  Mentally bracing himself for her explosion he picked her up and ran.

          “What are you doing!?!” She screeched.

          “You’re too slow.” He explained curtly. “You’re legs are too short, they’ll catch us.”

          She glared at him, and at such close range it was truly frightening. “You had better put me down Tory Avalon!” she warned.

          “Or what?” he shot back, “I’m being chased by crazed bikes that are now shooting at me! What could you possibly do to make this day any worse?”

          She frowned angrily.  He was right, much as she hated to admit it. 

          “Look,” he forced himself to be calm, “We’re almost there alright.  You can survive a few more seconds.”

          Sure enough with a few more steps he turned a corner and the library came into view.

          <Almost there> Racing up the steps he slammed through the library doors, dropping Meilin gently to the floor, then grabbed the key from its hiding place in a nearby plant and locked the doors.  The bikes whirred angrily on the steps, but they were unable to get in. <At least they aren’t shooting at the doors.  That’d shatter them> Tory thought. They stayed in the entry way for a few moments, watching the scene outside.

          “Come on,” Tory got tired of watching them and tugged on Meilin’s hand. 

          There were very few people in the library and he led her to the study room.  It was empty. He walked inside and closed the door behind them, locking it as well.  If they made it through the glass doors hopefully this door would hold them long enough for Meilin and himself to escape through the back window.  Meilin sank wearily against the wall, and he came to sit beside her, resting his head against the wall.  Soon he could hear Meilin’s rhythmic breathing – she was asleep. 


          They had almost reached the top of the tower.  And not without great difficulty.  The wind seemed to gust with increasing strength as they approached the tower.  A result of their increased altitude? Or was it an intelligent force working against them?

          Whatever it was they had managed to fly through it.

          Landing on the top floor of the radio tower Sakura recalled Fly.

          “Well?” she turned to Li, “Now what?”

          He shrugged, he really wasn’t certain.  At lunch it had seemed so imperative that they get here, and now…

          Now there was nothing.

          “I guess we should look around.” He offered.  She nodded her agreement and stepped closer to him.  It was oddly dark and shadowy here. He placed an arm around her, drawing her against him as they moved forward.

          A noise sounded below them.  Their eyes caught and held.  Sakura slowly pointed to the floor.  Was the noise coming from the level just below them?

          Li nodded and indicated the elevator.  Sakura shook her head. Whoever it was might hear.

          She withdrew two card and showed them to him.

          Float and Through.

          He nodded.  Yes, that should work.

          Calling on Through she quietly commanded the card to allow them to sink through the floor then quickly she summoned Float to lower them to the ground of the next level, preventing them from falling the twelve foot distance.

          Their eyes widened.  This floor was much larger than the one above due to the architecture of the tower.  But at this moment it appeared much smaller.  Of course, that was probably due to the fact that there was a wall right in front of them. 

          That in and of itself was odd.  At this level the sides of the tower should still have been open.  They should have been able to see the sky, and the street below.  Instead they could see nothing but dark purple walls.

          That ruled out remodeling, dark purple was definitely outside the radio tower’s color scheme.

          Sakura turned to see another wall on either side of them.  They appeared to be in a narrow corridor, and this was a dead end.  She exchanged glances with Li and they wandered down the corridor.  At the end they had a choice of two directions.  They went left and soon came to another branch.  Going left again they came to another dead end.

          “Maze?” Li asked, tentatively touching one wall.

          “Not my maze though.” Sakura replied, fingering the cards safe in her pocket.

          Li nodded. Of course not her maze.  Why would she trap herself in a maze?

          “Do you think we can cut through it?” Sakura asked softly, pressing closer to him.

          “I don’t see why not. Here.” He took off his necklace, summoning his sword.  Sakura withdrew another card, summoning her own sword.  Li kept his eyes locked with hers. “One, two, THREE!” together they slashed through the wall.  It worked! They took their stances and sliced through the next wall, but it reformed.  Sakura felt something was familiar about this.

          A blue haze formed around them, filled with stars.  It was now very dark.

          Li groaned.

          “Illusion.” They said in chorus.

          Sakura looked at Li, a little disturbed, “Two at once.  Again.  This happened the other two times as well.”   

          Li nodded, was there something significant about that?  He filed it in the back of his mind to think about later.  Right now they needed to get out of here.

          “Whatever it is, cutting through isn’t an option any more.”  He recalled his sword and reached into his bag.

          “What are you doing?” Sakura asked timidly, trying to peer over his shoulder.

          In response he withdrew a rectangular, colorful object.  It was his lasin board.        

          Closing his eyes he focused his energy into the board, “Sources of light with ancient spin send forth the magic power within. Oracles of gold, wind, water and electricity. Force, know my plight! Release the light!”

          The board glowed briefly and then a thin but steady beam of light shot out from the board, following the maze, tracing the proper path.

          “Come on.” Li took Sakura’s hand and they started through the maze.


          Tory watched the sleeping girl beside him.  She looked so peaceful- he almost laughed.  Meilin? Peaceful?  What an oxymoron, the words were practically antonyms.  She was so fiery in her waking moments.  She was a brat!

          She stirred in her sleep and turned her face toward him.  A lock of hair fell over her face and a strange sensation stole into his heart.  She was so strong, but she still needed him.  He brushed the hair away, laughing softly on a sigh.

          “Gaki.” He whispered, before settling into sleep himself.


          The guardians and the two teens stood with their backs pressed together as the lightening struck the ground all around them.  Whatever it was didn’t seem to want to kill them so much as distract them.  Eli’s grip on his staff tightened.  <Where are Ruby and Spinner?> he questioned yet again.  They should have sensed his need and come to him by now.  But then, Yue and Kero obviously couldn’t sense where Sakura was right now, otherwise they wouldn’t have been headed in the wrong direction.  Something was clearly interfering with their connection to their mistress.  Perhaps the same was true of his own guardians.

          “Eli,” Madison was struggling to keep the fear out of her voice, but he knew it was there.  He reached a hand out and clasped one of her hands.

          “It’s going to be alright.” He assured her. “I promise.”

          Lightening struck very near him and he flinched.

          “Now would be the ideal time to take action.” Yue spoke to the dark haired magician without looking at him.  He was concentrating on the lightening, his eyes darting back and forth.

          “I know that.” Eli ground out.  He considered his options carefully.  Raising his staff he called more lightening to the sky.  Purple clashed with white as his bolts intercepted the others. 

          He concentrated on eliminating the threat and as he did he found other thoughts wandering to the surface of his mind. There was something familiar about all this.  The thought nagged at the back of his mind.  What was it?  Where had he seen this before?  Or perhaps he had heard about it.


          Read it! He had read about something like this in one of Clow’s old books.

          “We need to get to the mansion!” he raised his voice to be heard above the thunder that cracked due to the enormous amount of electricity in the air.

          “But Sakura!” Kero protested.

          Eli shook his head vehemently, “No!” he said firmly, “For now we need to get to my mansion.  I must find something. Then we can find Sakura.”

          Kero looked as if he would refuse, but a look from Yue squelched his opposition.

          “Very well.” He growled. 

           And with a whispered spell Eli sent them all out of the park and into his yard.

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