ditch_gospel: (Default)
[personal profile] ditch_gospel
Haha, I'm terrible at coming up with AU names. In the end, I decided not to worry too much about it. (Have edited the first chapter to reflect name changes.)



Spitting Shadows

Chapter Two

“Are You Bastards Ready?”


Minus Wave was, at first glance, nothing more than a local amateur band. On the surface, they were simply a group of musically talented young people using their creative energies to perform for the entertainment of others while exercising their artistic expression. It would seem to the observer like an innocent endeavour fueled by the passions and lofty dreams of youth.

But look again. Look, and listen. First impressions float easily upon the shimmering ripples and reflections of a surface that conceals hidden depths of an unfathomable kind of darkness, a darkness that pulls down the unwary and leaves them breathless upon the bottom of a sea of despair.

And the waves were beginning to rise.


***


After midnight.

There was a small, clandestine performance taking place. The venue was simply a secret gathering at the abandoned warehouses on the edge of the city, a derelict spot where the weeds and brambles of an adjoining empty lot had begun to encroach with insistent vines and roots into this lost realm of broken glass, forsaken interiors, fire-gutted remnants of concrete and steel.

The audience was small, but enthusiastic, and Minus Wave was burning up the night.

Skill, charisma, style. Energy and good looks. Notoriety. Certainly, the five had brought these ingredients with them to their performance and made spirited use of them to the very best of their individual and collective abilities. Neither their influence nor their reputation was as yet very widely spread. Their resources were not great. But their vision was as dangerously far-reaching as it was frighteningly single-minded. The dark intent of the wish contained within each and every note of their song resonated with a restless sort of certainty that seemed to be building up towards a crescendo of explosive finality.

Their music delivered their message, a transmission carried out upon the sound waves like a drug. They had turned their backs on the world in exchange for a chance at revenge. And they drew their intended victims closer with the seductive beat of rhythm and sound. And yes, they were good at what they did.

Standing that night upon the dusty loading ramp, with the dark expanse of the empty warehouse gaping behind them like the mouth of a beast and the endless void of the sky hanging heavy with a thick cloak of clouds above, their music flowed around them with an invisible power. Their cobbled-together set of amplifiers and lights, the feel of the instruments at their fingers as they gave shape to their music, the driving beat of the drums, the voice that bound everything together and lent it the final spark: all of these things fueled the purposes that burned within each of them with a swelling ecstasy.

They were Minus Wave. There were here. They were the future. They were inexorable. And nothing would get in their way.

The midnight performance was winding down.

The frontman, seventeen-year-old Gen, weaved his soul into his words as he sung the final verse. All of his reservations were released in this moment. His voice penetrated like needles into the hearts of the crowd, stitching his message in bloodless lyrics laced with sweet and invisible poison.

“Fall on your knees and beg for the end.
Fall on your knees and bleed!”


The last line of the song tasted of a threat-laced prayer upon his lips, like a promise of something dark and deadly-beautiful yet to come. Adrenaline and dark exhilaration rushed through his veins in a chemical explosion of expectation and bliss. As the final note died, he threw back his head, his eyes more than a little wild, drunk on the energy of the music, the night, and the effort of channeling his message to the crowd. The gathering, an assorted flock of riled-up teenagers and impressionable youth, began to cheer even louder than before. And then the small crowd began to chant in a rhythmic incantation of appreciation.

“Mi~nus! Mi~nus! Mi~nus!”

Gen was fueled by the spectacle of the small mass of human bodies swaying as one as they mindlessly expended their energy for the sake of the music, like lambs entranced by the beauty in the wolf’s hungry call. And he felt the resulting wave of disgust wash over him like a revelation. This was almost too easy. The people were gullible sheep, so easily influenced by anything and everything outside of themselves. They lapped it up like children accepting sugar from a sinister stranger’s proffered cup. A feral feeling curled his lip in an imitation of a smile. He cupped his hand around the mic and spoke in a low voice that resonated out into the night, filling the void created by the loss of the music.

“Kids…”

The crowd swooned. He swallowed back another wave of contempt and his eyes flashed with determination. The weak-willed would become his personal army and unwittingly lend him their strength.

“Go forth and turn this town upside down. Chaos is within your power!”

The four musicians behind him, his band mates and close accomplices, responded to his cue by crying out in unison: “Feel the wave!” It was admittedly cheesy and theatrical, but effective.

The crowd whooped in response, the swelling cheer exploding into even more robust vocal applause. Gen raised his fist high, held the pose for one triumphant moment, and then he and his group turned on their heels and quickly exited the ramp-stage, brushing through the makeshift tarp curtain and disappearing together into the depths of the warehouse beyond.


***


Once out of sight, separated from the dispersing crowd, Gen regrouped with the other members of Minus Wave. One of them switched on a battery operated lamp, illuminating their faces and casting shadows upon the high walls. Facing each other in circular formation, they each removed their trademark half-faced masks. Gen took this moment to reassess each member in turn, reading the solidarity and resolve in their hearts through their eyes, their efforts, the value of their contributions on this night.

Hawk Tempest, bespectacled keyboardist, the collar of his neat button-down shirt only slightly askew, carefully removed his green leafed mask. He was Verdant Ivy, polite but toxic, deceptively gracious, and deadly. He deftly tugged his collar into precise order with elegant fingers, and rolled his shoulders back, flexing his neck with a slightly audible pop. The small smile poised upon his lips had taken on a sharp edge, and his brilliant green eyes glinted with an almost fevered brightness, the secret corners of his mind no-doubt freshly painted in torrential visions of red. He met Gen’s eye and revealed the tiniest flash of teeth, like a strike in the dark, the kind that draws blood before the victim realizes they’ve been hit. But it wasn’t targeted at Gen.

Gen nodded slightly, a silent acknowledgement of a shared determination. Hawk was dangerous, like a razor blade hidden in the polished green apple. But Gen could trust him reasonably well enough. Hawk was the band’s housekeeper and secretary, taking care of the finicky details, making sure everyone was punctual and fed, soothing disputes and filtering their growing popularity through his attention to every last detail, even if getting things done sometimes meant revealing the tips of his claws, just a little. But more than that. He and Gen were on the same side. They were of the same mind.

Hawk had passed his assessment tonight.

As for the others…

Joe Kenway, their guitarist, stripped off his red, horned demon mask and flung his arm out to the side as if to feign a triumphantly careless tossing away of his artistic identity. The movement had a casual flair, making it hard to tell whether it was natural or practiced. He was Crimson Devil, radiating passion and heating up the stage, his raw physical magnetism concealing a playful sensitivity that was guarded by shameless affectations of carnality. A sheen of exertion glistened on his exposed chest as he shook back his long red hair and delivered Gen a carefree, rakish grin.

Gen did not return the smile. His eyes narrowed. If he judged any among them more harshly than the rest, perhaps undeservedly, it was Joe. Whereas Hawk and Joe were best friends and shared a common loss through Hawk’s murdered twin sister, Gen and Joe had always butted heads. But Joe’s fire, his unreserved ability to cater to the female members of their fanbase and his knack of connecting with the crowd and encouraging their reciprocation, were genuine and added a welcome zest to their performances and a touch of warmth to the otherwise primarily introverted personalities that made up the rest of their group.

What Joe lacked in cold resolution or deadly resolve, he made up for with his heated contributions to their cause. And though he did not have Hawk’s predator-like sense when it came to exacting recompense, he compensated with his loyalty. But although he was loyal, to what was his loyalty directed? Was it really to the mission, or just to the band, or even just to his bandmates? It seemed to Gen sometimes that Joe was just going along for the ride, and he could not fully place his trust in a passenger who might balk at running a red light.

Gen reluctantly accepted Joe’s offering of camaraderie with a nod. And then he turned to the next.

The fourth stood a little back from the others. Tall and pale, imposing yet refined, the bass guitarist slipped off his silvery dragon mask, the cross pendant he wore perpetually on a chain around his neck glittering briefly as it caught the light. His long white hair, fair skin, and pale eyes gave him an eerie, spectral appearance. He did not smile, but nodded once, steadily meeting Gen’s eye with his own stern gaze. That gaze was always silently judging Gen, boring into him with a strange mix of conflicting accusation, admiration, and disappointment that tinged his eyes with the slight guilt born of hypocrisy. Gen would not give him the satisfaction of bending beneath such a gaze as that.

He was Yin Hailong, the Silver Dragon, a college student and the oldest among them. He was faith-bound and dutiful, with a penchant for getting caught up in the waves of those around him. And he would inadvertently sink his own ship in the effort to calm those stormy seas.

He had found his place amongst them through his association with the Tempest siblings, and the church that the twins had attended up until Kestrel’s murder. This gave Yin a legitimate reason to be here amongst them. And yet the cloak of distance and reluctance that Yin wore like a shield made it difficult for Gen to consider him a full-fledged member of the band. It was only a second-hand trust, a referral from Hawk, that had admitted him to their little circle. Gen had to admit that Yin was a useful ally who had so far proved to be reliable, with a steady dependability that was as smooth and as understated as a well-camouflaged reptile basking in the sun. Yin was a legal adult, unhindered by the restrictions that law and society had placed upon himself and the other younger, teenaged members of the band. Yin had a vehicle, independence, access to more resources. Thus Gen accepted and tolerated him, albeit warily. After all, even friendly serpents have fangs, and they can strike when least expected.

Finally, Gen turned towards the fifth and youngest member of the band. Fifteen-year-old Naotaka Hyoudou, the one-armed drummer, had already removed his white doll-face mask and was standing very still, in contrast to his animated performance but a moment ago. Smooth, dark hair framed a face expressionless but for his glittering eyes, eyes that were as black and as deep as an invitation to oblivion. In his small hands, one of flesh and one of high tech, light weight titanium alloy, he held the drum sticks in a light grip that Gen knew to be more formidable than it appeared. Gen had the beautiful bruises, tucked quietly out of sight, to attest to that.

Naotaka was Blank Doll, and his quiet support and sharp talent, unexpected strengths packed into a small frame, gave a beat and rhythm to the band that drove their message home like a stake to the heart.

If there was one member of the group whose participation should have come under scrutiny, perhaps Naotaka would be that member. Yet Gen showed him an acceptance bordering on leniency. Even though he and Gen had known each other since early childhood, in some ways, Naotaka remained an outsider to the core of their mission. But perhaps it was this refreshing coolness of his steadfast presence that helped give Gen a sense of balance. Perhaps Naotaka’s own stint at the psychiatric hospital, their place of unplanned reunion, had cemented in them a new bond born of darkness shared. Or perhaps the reason was something else, something more hidden. Whatever the reason, Gen’s trust in him, and him alone, was implicit.

Gen allowed himself to partake of the deliciously soul-sucking chill of those eyes for one tantalizing moment before reaching to remove his own mask, its tarnished gold sun motif slipping away from a strikingly pretty face highlighted by golden hair and violet eyes that burned with a fatal determination.

He was Gold Sun, the force behind the Wave, the instigator, the holder of the dark secrets which would unlock their success.

Victim, or suspect? Cold-blooded killer, or unfortunate orphan? He was any of the above, depending on whom you asked. After all, the circumstances of his father’s violent murder had never been conclusively solved. But with these four, he had solidarity. He had a connection and an understanding. There was no blame here. They had all experienced their own share of hell on earth. And together they would spread the fire where society’s impotent system of justice and law had utterly and miserably failed. They would unlock the door behind which their wildest dreams would become reality as they unleashed a cleansing fury upon this world of filth.

He extended his arm straight out, fist clenched. The others responded in kind, reaching out to bump their fists together with his. Gen nodded at each of them in turn. Standing now in close proximity, they shared a moment of silence as they caught their breaths in the wake of a performance well delivered.

Gen looked to each again, holding each gaze with the full intensity of his own, as if challenging any one of them to dare disagree with what he was about to say.

“Are you bastards ready? It’s time to begin.”

Singing about chaos and destruction had been satisfying, but it was no longer enough. They had an agreement, a promise forged in darkness, a pact to be signed in blood. It was time to level up. Their song, A Prayer for the End of the World, was a wish that they themselves would grant.

Date: 2016-03-19 04:17 am (UTC)
kirathaune: (Sanzo-RedShirt)
From: [personal profile] kirathaune
Oooh, I like what you've done with the band members, both in their alter egos and their "real" selves.

It's interesting to see them on the flip side.

*cheers you on*

*waits patiently for more*

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Ditch Gospel

June 2016

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