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Catching Hell Part 2
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-433-0
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 283 Pages
Published: November 2018

From inside the flap

The second part of this epic duology! A critical blow has been dealt to the robotic Army of the Old, but at a great price. Broken and weary, best friends Johan and Aryu have been separated while chasing forces from the distant past that they both fear.

Aryu, the man with wings, pursues the enemy while he slowly slips into the enticing magic and mystery of the Power, led by the great phoenix Nixon Ash.

Johan stands on the steps of Bankoor, a futuristic city full of wonder and mistrust. Here he must make his stand to avenge his destroyed home and find his friend.

As the gap between the brave warriors closes, the worlds of technology and magic will clash!

Destination (Excerpt)

Cutting Away a Piece of a Hole

There was once a beautiful tower here. It rose from the flowery meadow and stretched so high into the sky some swore that it had no end; a creation of the ancient, powerful ones.

They were wrong, of course. It had an end, and at that precarious top was a room of solitude where the sprightly entity known as Crystal Kokuou had sequestered herself for more than eight hundred years, seeking a place of peace and zen in order to find an answer to the question her beloved father had given to her: how can mankind maintain and serve the balance?

After her lover Ryu had finally passed away by playing chicken with Death and actually winning, she had seen the true extent that humans were capable of reaching. She had seen Embracers reach unimaginable levels of power, be it for evil or good, and all the time she had been assured that in the end, everyone still dies. Death had been the great equalizer. It was the balance keeper in all the universes.

But then Ryu had played the game against the Dark Stranger, and Death miscalculated both her lover's power, and his resolve to end things, regardless of the consequences. Yes, Ryu was still dead after all was said and done, but it was on his terms. Reason didn't matter to someone so determined.

She remembered that day so well. She had been in her Haven at the time, not in the tower that existed in the real world. Her Haven was her most perfect place in the world. It was so close to where she had been raised and loved so purely by her mother and father, where she had been taught to be a warrior in service of the balance.

Her Haven was also an unwitting protective shield against the horror Ryu had created with that gross and destructive wave of power that erupted from his mind.

The wave of unbridled Power swept the world, and suddenly the rules didn't apply. A man, a human man, had become more powerful than the governing forces of the universe. He had battled Death, and Death had flinched in a most spectacular way. The lives it cost were immeasurable. If not for the dumb luck of being in her Haven at the time, she had no doubt that she, his oldest friend and most trusted confidant through all the ages, would have been one of them.

After that point, when her period of mourning was over and every tear she'd ever cried was multiplied a thousand times, she returned to the tower to feel the real world for what it was, hide herself and her feelings, and shield everyone from her Power. After all, with the death of the original Ryuujin, wasn't she now the most powerful Embracer that there was? Although Ryu's son may argue that point, she knew that she could very well become a threat to everything she loved. Eventually, she was simply alone in the sky.

For centuries she sat; wondering about life, love, and everything in the universe. She never feigned herself smart enough to figure it out on her own, but she knew she was the best candidate left alive in the whole world to try.

She focused the Power more and more. She listened frequently to the Omnis, determining the waves Ryu had made and how far they stretched. She was shocked to learn just how much damage he'd done.

With the Omnis came the Est Vacuus. That was a truth no Embracer could escape when they reached her level. At first she fought it. She tried to shield herself from its awesome nothingness, but she failed, damaging her psyche to the point where it took days of agony to recover.

Then she attempted to understand it, but willingly accepting it into her mind and spirit was incredibly costly. At times it felt as if it was trying to consume her from the inside out, which it likely was. She was so full of the Power and the glory of the Omnis that she was particularly susceptible to the pain the Est Vacuus caused.

And then the epiphany struck her like a kick to the gut: she was being ravaged by the Est Vacuus, and yet she was still whole. Her voyages into trying to understand and balance the Est Vacuus in her life were a failure, but she was still successful in dancing close to it and coming out on the other side.

Slowly, methodically, the plan formed. The way to find the balance she needed. Within her was the strength to make it happen. It wasn't going to be easy, and it may kill her in the attempt, but she could no longer sit in the tower and await another force like Ryu to arise. She would either stop it, or she would be dead and leave the fate of the world on its path.

With more focus and strengthening, she began the journey into the depths of the warring factions of the universe. Using what she had learned with the countless years studying them, she became powerful enough to graze just enough of both the Omnis and the Est Vacuus to get what she needed: an encapsulated microscopic hint of the Nothing, bent to her will by her strength with the Omnis and the Power. Within her hand the war was fought, and so long as this fraction of a particle was warring with the Omnis around it, it didn't dissipate, or worse, react with the real world and suck a piece of it away.

Bit by bit, it came together. Soon, it was almost visible to the naked eye. A shimmering, translucent pocket of non-reality.

Eventually, after years and years of work and personal sacrifice, she felt it happen: the thin, imperceptible slice of the Est Vacuus she had stabilized in the world coalesced and became encapsulated. She no longer had to fight to keep it from imploding. It had balanced itself enough against the Omnis that naturally occurred in the world that she could finally breathe. She dreaded to think what she looked like after all of this work, or what would happen to her if she didn't have the Power in such large amounts to shut out the maddening feeling this hint of Est Vacuus would cause if she was to look at it.

Buoyed by her unprecedented success at a task that she doubted even Ryu could have completed (not that he would have ever been stupid enough to try), she used her new skills with the Power to mold the Omnis at war around this infinitesimal Est Vacuus into the only logical shape she could. The universe was cyclical, and she had her plan.

The long, thin blade of shimmering nothing took shape. From the sacrifice of an ancient item of focus, she was able to craft a handle that could manipulate the Est Vacuus like the weapon it was.

When it sliced, the outer Everything forced aside whatever it came in contact with, exposing the Nothing inside. When it met something real, it would eliminate it. In essence, she had created a hand-held portal into the worst kind of Hell anyone could ever imagine. Doing something like this willingly was almost certainly a sign of madness, but she still felt sane in her resolve. Her father's voice echoed over and over: we serve the balance.

So with the tower gone save for a few reminders of her time there in aged bricks in a circle on the ground, she set out with the weapon she'd made. She knew full well who was going to get it. There was never a doubt. All things were cyclical. That wasn't important.

What was important was not the enemy she needed to find, but the champion she needed to make.