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Author Topic: The Third Wave | Chapter One: A Change In Routine  (Read 5021 times)

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Offline Keeponkickingkid

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The Third Wave | Chapter One: A Change In Routine
« on: August 07, 2017, 09:55:50 PM »
Well, this is the first chapter of my series! You can find it on Wattpad (https://www.wattpad.com/346127323-the-third-wave-chapter-one-a-change-in-routine), but I figured it'd be easier just to post here. Here it goes!


  A ray of light surpassed the narrow gap between Aiko's curtains, shining down upon her face and rousing her from her slumber. Her eyes fluttered for but a moment as her vision straightened out, and with a grunt, Aiko lifted her tired head, sitting at the edge of her bed. She started staring at herself in the mirror just a few feet away that she had propped right next to her door. Every morning she would gaze into the mirror, studying her face and eyes as if they were brand new, and she had done this since she was no older than five. Her mother had always told her to do so, insisting it was, 'to accept the way you look' and, 'to face yourself before you face the world'. She didn't really understand it when she was younger, and now that she was eighteen, the reasoning behind it never really mattered. All she knew was her daily routine: get up, get in the shower, get dressed, then find some shred of excitement to make the day seem less repetitive.

        Aiko sighed as she marvelled at her own face. Many had told her it was her most prominent feature, but after so many years she had almost become desensitized to it. She got her narrow blue eyes from her mother and father, the former being Japanese, the latter being of mixed Haida First Nations descent. Many had told her that her eyes were so mystifying and that they contrasted her complexion in such a beautiful way. All Aiko saw were two broad, blue eyes with epicanthic folds that made it look like she was perpetually tired. Her shoulder length ebony hair would often be brushed to the left, partially concealing that side of her face. Her chestnut skin was her father's— a mishmash of Haida and European —and its colour was so alien to her noticeably round face, which she inherited from her mother. Aiko often thought back to her birth certificate when regarding the topic of her complexion. Under the race category, it read, 'mixed', which she always thought was just the politically correct way of saying 'who the hell knows?'.

        She was not the tallest girl in the world, but Aiko— to her relief —was not too short. Aiko was around five foot nine, and she sported an hourglass build with ample hips and an extremely generous chest; she had the women on her father's side to thank for that. Though, Aiko always believed her feet were far too large and oafish for a woman of her form; most of her shoes she bought in sizes far too small, as she wished to hide the feet she so detested.

        Aiko stretched, yawning as she grabbed the cup of water off of her nightstand. She took a long drink from the glass, relieving the harshness in her voice, then with a long groan, she walked across the hall to the bathroom where she would have her morning shower. Her shower session ranged from five to seven minutes on average, and her shorter hair was to thank for that. There was a time in her mid-teens that she would take almost twenty to get out, to which her father would often give her a lecture about saving water. It wasn't until her father actually made her pay a water bill when she was thirteen that the message really sank in.

 After drying her hair, Aiko put on her work clothes, or in her case, day-to-day clothing; a white tank top with her usual brown leather jacket overtop, coupled by a pair of dark blue jeans. It wasn't very fashionable clothing, but she always felt comfortable in it, and she had a love for aesthetic simplicity. As she sat down on her bureau, she applied a little blush and some eyeliner, leaning over to take a peek at herself in the detached mirror by her door. She was not the kind of woman who enjoyed attention from most— not because she didn't care or wasn't flattered, but because she lacked the time and patience for such trivial things like small talk. Admittedly, she was aware that notion was sort of hypocrisy in itself, as makeup is a tool often used for attention, but she didn't mind; she applied makeup simply to satisfy her need for routine. Besides, most of whom that were interested in her weren't her type anyway. Admittedly, she wasn't even certain what her type was. But if she did have a type, she definitely knew it wasn't anything like the kind of people who would pop in and out of the convenience store where she worked.

        Checking the time on her phone, Aiko descended the spiral staircase down the hall on her right, entering her living room. It was 6:34, work wouldn't be for another hour or so. Aiko moseyed over to the kitchen, waving to her father, who was sprawled out on the couch watching the news as she poured herself some cereal.

        With a low grunt, Aiko's father lifted himself off his seat and shuffled over to the kitchen as well, setting up a toaster on the island right next to Aiko's cereal for his usual BLT. "Hey, Koko, how was your sleep?"

        Her father was the same as ever. Rain or shine he would wear the same Hawaiian shirts and tan cargo shorts as if he were some kind of beach volleyball referee. His face was taller and a little darker than Aiko's, and his nose came at more of a point than a rounded end like hers. His jaw was pronounced and his chin was somewhat broader, but his eyes were narrow, though, not quite like Aiko's. He was very large, a little more than a head taller than her, and he was well-built, getting most of his bulk from his German side. And like a vast majority with German blood in their veins, like Aiko, he had striking blue eyes. He would often call their eyes 'The Schmitt Gaze', as his father, and his father before him all shared this trait.

        "Pretty good," Aiko replied as she crunched on a spoonful of Cheerio's.

        "Any dreams?" Her father asked.

        "Nah, nothing tonight..." Aiko sighed as her eyes gravitated to the clock above the refrigerator on her right.

        "Again?" He scoffed, grabbing a tomato from the windowsill above the kitchen sink. "Man, you really need a little excitement now and then, Koko. You'll start gettin' nightmares if ya keep dancin' to the same tune all the time." Aiko silently scooped another spoonful of cereal into her mouth. "All I'm sayin', Koko, is that you need to spice it up now and then. Yeah, you're takin' this first year off to learn a little about yourself, but you can't do that if all you do is work, sleep, and eat. You can get into any university you want, but you're still undecided. Try to live a little if you want to learn somethin' about yourself."

        "So what do you want me to do?" Aiko had heard the speech hundreds of times.

        "You can't get hung up on the past, Koko. You're a grown woman, you need to let go and get out there."

        "And you know all about letting go..." Aiko muttered to herself as she averted her eyes, staring at the floorboards.

        "What was that?" He said as he raised an eyebrow at her.

        "Nothing, dad..." Aiko shook her head as she placed her bowl in the dishwasher. "Are you off work today?"

        "Yeah, they give me Saturdays off now, remember?"

        "Oh, right..." Aiko nodded as she grabbed some orange juice from the fridge and filled a short glass to the brim. As she downed the glass, her attention was grabbed by the television still yammering in the living area about the recent Mark-user incidents in Victoria.

        "Marcusologists are still baffled by the recent anomaly on Vancouver Island, and the population of Mark-users is growing at an alarming rate. In response, The League of Thirty has made their decision in Geneva to send in our own Canadian IMOP Task Force just this morning. Meeting with them will be Canada's top IMOP agent, Victoria's own Northstar." The anchorman on television reported.

        "Northstar?! Damn, this must be serious. I was still in university last I heard of an anomaly like this, but I never thought there'd be one on our own island." Aiko's father munched on his sandwich as he turned down the TV. "What do you figure, Koko?"

        "I think this recent spike in new Mark-users will bring some old ones out of the woodwork..." Aiko ruminated on the idea. "Maybe the IMOP might need some more-."

        "Oh no, don't get any ideas, Koko. We talked about this before. You aren't going to that academy. You have no Mark of your own."

        "Dad, why can't you let me go?! Mom-!"

        "Please, don't bring her into this, Koko. I know what happened to her." Aiko's father set his hands on the island to prop himself up, bowing his head as he took a deep breath. "This is what I meant by fixating on the past. You can't keep sitting in your room reading those books of yours on Mark-users like you did when you were twelve. I won't have you go to that academy. You're out of your league."

        "But I want to help people, dad!"

        "And you can do that doing some other job, Aiko! I won't lose you like I lost her!" Her father exploded, resting his head on the table as his rage fizzled. "It's-... check the time. You'll be late for work here quick."

        "Yeah. Sorry, dad..." Aiko bit down on her quivering lip as she marched over to the door, squeezing into her red runners. "I'll see you later."


        Aiko walked down the same path her mother always took to the city; she called it the "Sukoshi Path", after a similar road she would take to school when she was a young girl living in Okinawa. She often shared stories on their long walks down the winding road through towering spruce and arbutus trees, stories about Japan, about life before the Marks showed up. Aiko would laugh and sing with her mother as they made their way down the hill, watching as ravens flew in the treetops and deer pranced about in the thickets. She felt so much older now; it had been four years since their last walk together from the cabin. Solitude and time had whitewashed those beloved stories, and she only retained fragments of them, like loose shards of stained glass left behind after a pane had been shattered.

        Aiko eventually reached the bottom of the hill and turned onto the highway, adjusting her satchel; the added weight from the heavy books inside had dug into her shoulder, to which she would often switch shoulders to combat the discomfort. Eventually, she just gave up and held the bag in her arms, keeping it close to her chest. Since high school, she had always kept a journal and marcusology encyclopedia close at hand to study and identify all the various Mark users that popped up around Vancouver Island. She had become an expert of sorts, though, she never really shared her knowledge on the subject with anyone else besides her mother.

        Work wasn't very far at all— just some dinky convenience store just a mile down the road on the right side not too far from Port Renfrew, a fairly touristy town a few hours north of Victoria. The shop wasn't too lively in the winter; only the occasional drifter or trucker would come by, maybe for a pack smokes or some junk food, typical items one would buy at such a place. In the summer one would see more tourists than anything else; perhaps a few local hippies here and there looking for a place to rest before they headed out to China Beach for some surfing. Aiko greatly preferred winter over summer in terms of business, but in the case of weather, Aiko despised the eternal grey sky of a Vancouver Island winter.

        The exterior of the convenience store wasn't all that pleasant to look at. It was mostly made of sun-bleached wood, and the windows, though clean thanks to her diligent care, were somewhat scratchy and translucent from age. There was only one Helium 3 pump by the parking lot about the size of an air compressor— a replacement for the old gasoline pumps that had all but vanished just a few years ago. Fusion power had become all the rage since China had set up mining operations on the Moon. However, all the rage or not, with rumours of a Third Wave of Marks approaching, Marked One incidents made everything else seem like old news. What news could possibly top superpowered humans attacking a school or a governmental building?

        Aiko opened the ancient wooden door, cringing a little as it let out its horrific creak, like one of those doors you would see in a bad horror movie with exaggerated sound effects. Aiko sighed as she looked to her workspace on the right, stepping into the tiny cashier's booth. She set her satchel on the desk behind her, grabbed the large encyclopedia out of it, then sat down on her stool, placing her elbows on the front desk as she opened up the book.

        "Aiko? Are you here?" A voice called out to her a few meters away, right next to the soft drink fountain— in the right corner of the store, concealed by a shelf full of protein bars and other health food for the hippies.

        "Yeah, Sal. I'm here." Aiko replied, flipping through her encyclopedia as she checked the cash register.

        "Nice to see ya, niña. I was wonderin' when you'd show up." Sal said with a usual grumble to his tone, replenishing the shelves with new product. "How've you been?"

        Salvador was from Spain, and he bought the store off of the previous owners a few years prior, when Aiko started working. Salvador was a thin man with olive skin, and he was around an inch shorter than Aiko. He was totally bald, and he sported a clean shaven, black goatee. His usual attire consisted of mainly classic rock t-shirts or flannel button-down shirts. In this instance, he was wearing a black "Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon" shirt with the signature beam of light through the triangular prism, forming a rainbow on the other side. Along with the shirt, he wore a pair of blue jeans and red loafers. He was your average classic rock fanatic, and he would often play Led Zeppelin or Rush on the old as dirt CD player he had set up on a chair in the corner of Aiko's booth.

        "I'm alright, Sal..." Aiko nodded unconvincingly, still looking through her textbook.

        "I dunno. You're lookin' a little edgy today, eh?" Sal said, playing air guitar as his favourite riff in Kashmir came on. "C'mon, cheer up! Listen to the sweet sounds of Jimmy Page!"

        "Geez, Sal..." Aiko chuckled as she watched Sal ham it up, strolling over to the second aisle of the store, stocking the shelves with beef jerky and other road food, still strumming an imaginary guitar. "You're lucky no one is here to see that."

        "The only one who'll get embarrassed is you." Sal snickered as he ceased his miniature performance, returning to his work. "So, you've got any plans yet?"

       "I'm working on it..." Aiko shrugged her shoulders as she flipped to the section on Mark types.

        "Ah, you thinkin' of bein' a marcusologist?" Sal looked over the counter at Aiko's reading material. "You always read those books of yours."

        "Yeah, well... not really. I dunno..." Aiko shook her head as she continued reading.

        "Ah, you'll figure it out, Koko. Don't fret." Sal insisted as he turned over the 'closed' sign on the window to read 'open'. "Another day..."

        "Yep..." Aiko muttered to herself.

        After around a half hour of meagre activity, it was clear that it was going to be a very slow day. Barely any cars stopped on their way to Port Renfrew, and Salvador became anxious like he always did in the winter. He'd occupy himself with crosswords or counted the tiles on the floor to pass the time; he was somewhat like a child. Perhaps that was why she stuck with him after so many years. He knew how to let loose once in a while, and Aiko had lost that part of her. She had always been so tense and introverted, it was hard being without her high school friends, and Sal was sort of their replacement. Although, Aiko knew this little world of hers couldn't last. She was eighteen, she had a plan for the future, but it seemed so distant and impossible. Whether she had a dream or not, Aiko knew she had to leave Port Renfrew at some point. She just needed to find a way to get back up on her feet.

        "Hey, Koko. Can you pass me my water bottle? I think I left it under the desk there." Sal gestured over to Aiko's booth as he walked over, avoiding the arrangement of potato chips on the cardboard shelf by the front door— all stacked in a neat display. "Should be on the top shelf down there."

        "Huh?" It took a moment for his instructions to echo in Aiko's head. "Oh, yeah. No problem."

        Aiko got off her stool and crouched down, searching for the bottle. She leaned over a bit, going down on her knees to get more comfortable. There was a mess of other junk under the desk; CDs, cassette tapes, all old junk only Sal would have. After a minute or so of rummaging around, her hand touched something plastic. Aiko moved the old newspapers out of the way and grabbed the plastic container, placing it on the desk. However, Aiko paused before she got back on her feet.

        A subtle noise emanated from the empty space where the bottle once sat, drawing her closer. She listened carefully, perceiving them as muffled whispers of some sort. Aiko squinted, peering into the deep shelf to see what the source of the disturbance was. Hidden within the darkness was an odd symbol that shone a grey light. The symbol appeared to have two parts; the first looked a lot like a pedestrian one would see on road sign, however, behind it was the next piece— a larger, much more rigid humanoid. The whispers faded as she reached for the strange rune, and it vanished suddenly. Aiko recoiled in response, feeling a sharp sting on the back of her right hand; it felt like it had been doused in boiling water.

        "Ah!" Aiko grimaced as she inspected her hand, her eyes going wide with shock. On it was the same exact symbol she had just examined. And sure enough, as she checked underneath the desk, the symbol had disappeared.

        "What? What is it, Koko?" Sal moved closer, checking to see if she was alright.

        "N-nothing! I'm fine! I-... I just thought I saw a rat is all. Must've just been my imagination..." Aiko lied as she hid her right hand behind the desk, quickly flipping backward through her encyclopedia as she deterred Salvador from coming any closer.

        "Alright..." Sal nodded slowly as he took his water and walked to the row of coolers at the back of the store, assuming Aiko just had a moment.

        "If I'm right... then..." Aiko assessed what had just happened, recalling every detail of the experience as she came to the page in her textbook on 'Mark Acquisition'. "Here it is!"



        Based on information gathered from interviews with Mark-users, Marks will typically etch themselves into any conceivable surface in order to be noticed by a human. Once visual contact is established with a Mark, it will vanish from its point of origin and instantly latch itself onto the viewer's skin.(It is unknown if the area on the body in which the Mark appears contributes to the power of the Mark in any way). While the true nature of mark acquisition has yet to be revealed, marcusologists have narrowed down possible contributing factors that may lead to a person obtaining a Mark.


#1: The parent of the new Mark-user was also a Mark-user. (This scenario has been proven to occur almost 80% of the time amongst children of Mark-users).

#2: The new Mark-user has recently experienced psychological trauma (This has been known to yield extremely powerful and volatile Marks).

#3: Danger is imminent, and the Mark appears to protect its new user.

#4: A Mark-user is in close proximity.


        Starting with number one on the list, Aiko began to calculate. "Alright. I know my dad isn't a Mark-user, but mom was in the IMOP, though, she didn't have one." She then came to the second bullet on the list. "No... I haven't experienced any real trauma recently. That fight with my dad wasn't anything close to a trauma." Then she moved down to the third and fourth bullet. "These two are both equally likely. Maybe it's both. If a Mark-user is close, then perhaps they're the imminent 'danger'."

        Aiko closed her book as the front door swung open, ringing the bell hanging right above it, alerting Salvador. The stranger looked homeless; he wore a torn red sweater with the hood done up, sported a shabby beard, and he seemed to drunkenly shuffle towards her booth, grabbing a pack of cigarettes from the basket on the desk. Without paying, he tore into the pack with his unusually long and sharp fingernails, dropping shreds of plastic and cardboard on the floor. Aiko spoke up after a few minutes had passed, clearly seeing the concern in Salvador's eyes. If this man was a Mark-user, she had to handle the situation herself. She couldn't let Salvador close to him. Quickly Aiko raised her hand to halt Salvador, insisting that she had the situation under control.

        "E-excuse me, sir... you haven't paid for those..." Aiko swallowed nervously, watching the shifty man snarl, gnashing a set of razor sharp canines as he tossed the cigarettes on the table. He scratched the wood countertop as a threat, indicating he had no intention of paying. "S-sir, I'll call-. Sal, no!" Aiko was too late. Before Sal could knock him on the back of the head with his elbow, he reacted, slashing Salvador across the chest with his right claw, knocking him into a nearby shelf with a savage backhand. "Sal!"

        "You should've let me have a smoke, girl! You ain't callin' the cops! I ain't goin' back!" The man's claws extended even more, and excess hair began to grow around his eyes as he took a swing at Aiko.

        "Those claws! He must be a Cellularum-type Mark of the Beast Class! " Aiko's eyes widened as she ducked, shimmying under the counter to the other side of the booth. "These guys are prone to irrational thoughts and actions! The most violent of all Mark-users! There's no way this guy can be reasoned with now that he's pissed off! I've got to deal with him now or he'll kill us both!"

        Aiko grabbed the in-case-of-emergency mace from under her desk, waiting for the right moment. Then, as the raging man sliced through a section of her desk with his claws, Aiko sprung into action. She let out a spray of burning liquid from the can of mace into the man's face as he let his guard down, blinding him.

        "Arraaghhh!" The man growled as he slashed wildly in Aiko's general direction, smashing her booth to pieces with his supernatural strength.

        Aiko vaulted over her desk before she was caught in the flurry of claws, making her way over to Sal to make sure he was still breathing. Luckily, he hadn't sustained too severe of a laceration, but he had been rendered unconscious by the beast man's brutal follow-up. Switched into survival mode, Aiko grabbed Sal and dragged him into the back room, letting the blind beast growl and roar by himself. Though she was given enough time to get Sal to safety, the homeless man began to pick up on Aiko's scent in the air, using his nose to see. Realizing this, Aiko moved away from Salvador, running into the middle aisle, right in front of the glass door of one of the various drink coolers at the back of the store.

        "C'mon! I'm right here!" Aiko shouted over to the man, a rush of adrenaline coursing through her. "Come and get me!"

        Annoyed by her confidence, the man charged forward, lunging at Aiko. But at the last second, Aiko strafed to the right, letting him run right into the glass door, shattering it to pieces. Though he was now grievously injured, the man still removed himself from the fractured remains of the cooler, his rage heightened to an even greater extent. He ran at Aiko while she was on the ground, glass lodged in face and chest, claws extended even further. This time Aiko was helpless, and in a last ditch effort, she brought her fist up, attempting to punch her attacker. To her surprise, she was not claimed by his claws. Aiko didn't feel her fist connect at all, and yet the man was thrown back with such force that he flew through two aisles, stopping only once he impacted the drink fountain, launching liquids around the room in wild, sticky geyser of browns, oranges, and reds.

         Utterly speechless, Aiko's mouth hung wide open as she found out just what had hit the beast-man. It was an arm about the size of her own, perhaps a bit larger. Its fist was clenched tightly like her own, and the whole arm appeared to be composed of the same material as the floor; tough ceramic tile and hardened grout.

        "Whaa....?" Aiko gawked as the fist retracted back into the floor, returning the ground to its normal state. The Mark on her hand flashed brightly before fading back to its more tattoo-like form, indicating its power had subsided. "That was... my Mark's ability?"


       I hope you enjoyed! Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!  :D