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The Time Master

True Grave

Jun 30, 2010
Where The Fight Takes Me
Author’s note: Half of the credit for this story and these characters goes to eva maria. She helped to flesh out most of the female cast and was an excellent partner and sounding board. This wrap-up is dedicated to her.

Alex Kane sat at the desk of the company president of Nanari Enterprises. He had ousted both the former president and his own father to become sole owner of Kane Enterprises, of which Nanari was an offshoot. Although he was now the richest and most powerful high schooler in Japan, business power was not what he sought. Alex wanted absolute control over time. Although he himself was a Time Master, the power he held was far too limited for his purpose. To control the entire world, he would need the other five Time Artifacts that his rivals held.

To call them rivals, however, was not entirely accurate. They were friends, people he had fought alongside. His position right now was partly thanks to the help of other Time Masters like Ken Toyama. But none of them had his vision. None of them were willing to use their power to shape the future of the world. Alex would have to do it for them.

The wooden double doors across from his desk opened and Erika Nanari strode in. She was the daughter of the former president and Alex’s beloved fiancé. She had supported him through all of the struggles and even understood his seizing of the business. Today, however, she had a look of disapproval on her face. Alex could guess what she had come to say, his eyes watching her as she sat on the edge of his desk. The two were silent for a time.

“You don’t need to do this, Alex,” she said sadly.

“I do. Humanity needs guidance and no one else will do it.”

“But why does it need to be you? We’re getting married next month. Why does world domination matter more than that?”

“It’s not world domination. I’m saving humanity from itself.”

“With an iron fist? You’ll never achieve true peace that way.”

“True peace can only be achieved with force. Reason and understanding will fail endlessly and then war will break out if I don’t do something.”

Erika began to cry.

“Please, Alex. You are a great man. Don’t squander your potential as a petty dictator.”

Alex got up from his desk and began heading toward the door. Erika jumped in front of him.

“Alex!” she yelled, tears falling from eyes burning with determination.

The man who sought godhood reached out and placed his hands on her shoulders.

“My mind is made up. Only I can save humanity now.”

Erika lowered her head, her eyes shaded. Suddenly, she grabbed his arm and was moving like the wind.

Throwing her leg over his arm, she was wrapped around his arm like an anaconda. Not long after, she hooked his neck and took him down into an arm bar. Alex sighed.

“You can’t stop me this way and you know it.”

Erika said nothing. Alex reached into his pocket and pulled out the Time Pocket Watch.

The Time Pocket Watch looked like an ordinary brass pocket watch. However, it possessed extraordinary power. By opening one latch, time could rewind, and by opening the other latch, time could fast forward. Alex opened one latch and time began to rewind. Once they were back to a certain point in time, he closed it. Time resumed as normal, and this time, Alex did not put his hands on Erika’s shoulders.

“My mind is made up. Only I can save humanity now.”

Erika dropped her head so that her eyes were shaded. She then raised them and took a Karate stance. Alex’s face softened.

“Erika…Don’t do this…”

She looked into his eyes with tears streaming from hers.

“I won’t let the man I love walk this path. I’m sorry, Alex.”

She pivoted and threw a high kick aimed at his head. With sadness, Alex caught it at the ankle with his hand. With a twist, he put her face down on the floor while keeping hold of her leg.

“Alex! Don’t do this!”

He reached down and pinched a nerve in her neck.

“I’m sorry, Erika.”

With a twist of the nerve, he rendered her unconscious. With her head turned to the side, she would be able to breathe.

Crouched down, Alex ran his hand through Erika’s hair.

“Trust me, Erika. When we get married, you will be the queen of this world. It will become a better place with our guidance.”

After standing up, he pulled out his smart phone and made a call to the crew of his private jet. Their first destination would be Italy.

After the jet touched down in Italy, Alex began texting Ezio Balducci, the Time Master in possession of the Time Hourglass.

[I just arrived in Italy. Let’s do lunch at Trattoria Balducci.]

Five minutes later, Ezio texted back.

[Sounds good, mi amico.]

With the time and place set, Alex got into a black limousine to head there.

On the way, he couldn’t help but feel the absence of Erika. She had always been with him from the moment he had come to Japan. She was there during the search for Ken Toyama, whose power had drawn him to Japan in the first place. She was there when Ezio threatened all of them. She was there when the other three Time Masters were found and the Devourer of Time tried to kill them all. She should have been here on his quest for ultimate power.

Putting that sadness aside, he focused on the task at hand. The limo pulled up to Trattoria Balducci and Alex got out. After heading inside, he sat down at a table near the center of the restaurant. After asking for a glass of mineral water, he kept an eye on the door. Ezio would be here soon. That was when the hard part would begin.

Five minutes later, a young Italian man in his twenties came walking in. He had a cocky swagger and an easy smile. His clothing was very hip and current. Despite his youthful appearance, however, Ezio Balducci was over one hundred years old. By using Time Essence collected in his Hourglass, he could keep himself perpetually young. It was almost like immortality, though the process that kept him young was not without limits.

The biggest limit was that Time Essence did not build up instantly. It could take years or even decades for Time Artifacts to replenish themselves. If he used only the Hourglass, Ezio could extend his life, but not perpetually. The solution to this problem was to extract Time Essence from other Time Artifacts or Time Masters. By collecting it within the Hourglass, Ezio could draw from it whenever he wished. It was his desire for immortality that saw Ezio come after Ken and Alex.

This was the first time in his life that Alex had been up against a truly dangerous opponent. Ezio was fast and difficult to hit. His Time Hourglass could break the power of his Time Pocket Watch. Their first battle went even more catastrophically wrong when Ezio drained the Pocket Watch, making it essentially useless. Alex would have also been drained of his Time Essence had Ken not intervened. This was the first time that he had been forced to team up with another Time Master to combat a larger threat.

Ezio was a persistent threat for a time. Alex had a few run-ins with him and barely escaped each time. It took joining forces with a third Time Master, Michael Delahunt, and his Time Stopwatch to finally defeat Ezio. Alex took possession of the Hourglass for a time and used it to power up his Pocket Watch. Some time later, he returned the Hourglass to Ezio in order to fight the Time Devourer. That entire event had created deep friendship and camaraderie among the Time Masters…things that Alex was about to break.

He stood up as Ezio came to the table.

“It’s good to see you, my friend.”

“Alex, you should have told me that you were coming to Italia! I would have rolled the red carpet out for you.”

The two shook hands and Alex looked serious.

“I couldn’t risk anyone knowing where I was going.”

Ezio looked concerned.

“Is someone after you?”

“I don’t know,” Alex lied, “I’m in trouble and need your help.”

“Of course, mi amico. Sit down and tell me about it.”

Alex shook his head.

“This place is too public. Can we talk outside, in the alley?”

“Follow me,” Ezio replied with a nod.

Alex followed him outside and to the alleyway behind the restaurant. He faced away from Ezio, steeling his resolve for what he was about to do.

“Who is after you, Alex?”

Without saying a word, the larger man reached into his pocket and opened his Pocket Watch to fast forward time. Ezio felt the sharp pain in his right temple that came with another Time Master using their power near him.

“Alex, what—“

Before he could say anything more, Alex whirled around and planted his fist in Ezio’s face. The force of the blow combined with the momentum of racing time to slam the smaller man into the brick wall. Ezio was unconscious as he slid to the ground.

Guilt welled up in Alex’s heart as he looked at his crumpled friend. It felt terrible to betray his honest friendship, but he had to for the sake of the world.

“I’m sorry, Ezio,” Alex said, his voice filled with sadness.

Crouching down, he began to search him. After finding the Hourglass, he took it in hand. Alex would now have to do something that broke his heart in two.

Standing up, Alex twisted and opened one end of the Hourglass. Like a vacuum, it began sucking the Time Essence from Ezio’s body. As it did, he began to age rapidly before his eyes. The youthful and handsome young man became old and decrepit as he laid there. It was a pathetic sight and hard to witness. Once all of the Time Essence had been extracted, Alex closed it firmly.

After placing the Hourglass in his pocket, Alex regarded the old man lying there. This was the true form of Ezio Balducci, the man who had used a Time Artifact to cheat both death and aging. Standing over him, Alex felt an even stronger sense of guilt.

“I’m sorry, Ezio. I promise that I will use your power for the good of humanity.”

Reaching down, he scooped the man into his arms like a small child.

Alex walked out of the alley and onto the sidewalk where people were. This got the attention of everyone around him. Ignoring the buzz of the small crowd, Alex approached a young Italian man.

“I found this old man passed out in that alley. Please take him to a hospital.”

Ignoring any questions the young man asked, Alex walked away.

After returning to his limo, Alex got inside.

“Where to, sir?” the driver asked.

“Back to the private jet. I have what I came for.”

“Very good, sir.”

As the limo pulled away from Trattoria Balducci, Alex became lost in a world of plans and schemes.
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Ken Toyama came out of a haze of sleep as his phone rang on the bedside table. Barely able to open his eyes, he reached out to try and grab it. After two missed attempts, he finally got the phone in his hand. Putting it to his face, his vision was still too blurry to read the caller ID. After rubbing his eyes, he looked again. It was from Lauren Rose, the second oldest and mother hen of the Time Masters.

After answering the call, Ken put the phone to his ear.

“Hello?” he croaked.

“Ken? Oh, thank god. I was scared something had happened to you.”

The frightened tone of Lauren’s voice made Ken wake up immediately.

“What’s wrong, Lauren? Why would something have happened to me?”

“It’s Ezio. He…”

Lauren began sobbing. Ken was alarmed and quickly sat up in bed.

“No! Ezio didn’t…”

“He is not dead, but he was badly hurt.”

“What happened?!”

“I don’t know. He was brought in with a broken nose and head trauma an hour ago.”

Ken was stunned.

“Who would have attacked Ezio?”

“It had to be either the Time Keeper or another Time Master.”

The Time Keeper was the goddess of time that watched over all of existence. She had become alarmed when the Time Artifacts were being used frequently and feared that it would destabilize the space time continuum. To prevent this, she attempted to destroy them with a beast called the Devourer of Time.

Ken couldn’t believe either possibility.

“Why do you say that? Couldn’t he have just gotten mugged?”

“His Hourglass was the only thing missing. He is also entirely bereft of Time Essence. Could a simple mugger do such things?”

Ken had no immediate answer for that. He didn’t want to think that any of the Time Masters would betray their comrades.

“We’re on good terms with the Time Keeper, so it couldn’t have been her.”

“That means the other Time Masters are the only suspects. I know that the traitor was not me and I know that you didn’t do it, Ken. That means that either Alex, Jin, or Michael attacked Ezio.”

“Jin would never do that. He’s an incredibly gentle guy.”

Jin Hyuga was the boyfriend of his half-sister Toroka. She was a very gentle and sweet girl and would only respond to a guy of similar personality. It was impossible to even imagine Jin betraying them.

“Then it had to be either Alex or Michael.”

“Wait a minute. You said that Ezio was without Time Essence earlier.”

“Yes. If this goes on, he will die. The doctors…say that he’ll be lucky…to survive the night.”

Lauren began to sob again.

Ken said nothing for several moments. He couldn’t imagine losing Ezio. The situation was far more grim than he had expected. Gripping the phone, he finally found his voice.

“Don’t worry, Lauren. I will save Ezio.”

"Thank you, Ken. Please report anything that you learn to me as quickly as possible."

"I will."

After hanging up, Ken got out of bed. After showering and putting himself together, he put on a pair of jean shorts and a T-shirt. Sitting down on his bed, he began to think about where he would need to go first.
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