The Author's Tiny Preface

Hello there! Sazu Taoi speaking. I'm glad you've come to read my fanfic, who knows how sad I would be if no one read this little beauty. For those who remember, this was previously titled 'New Adventures of Will and Crew", but upon running out of ideas, I pounced back to make this more canon and plop the stars of Illusion of Gaia into modern day California. Why California? Well, not to be a spoiler, but watching the map at the end puts South Cape at the southmost tippity tip of South America.

No way, I thought, Not with my story at least.

So I plopped them in the nearest place, and got California. And that makes it easy for me, because I know California at least somewhat well enough for the first chapters.

Okay, I bet I'm boring you now. Onto the fic! Niaa!

Chapter One: Sunday

The beast threw its claws down in fiery anger, a force that shook the ground until the bricks of the golden temple threatened to give way with eerie creaks and crumbles. A young man, in his mid teens at least, dove from the monster in desperate panic, his vision blurred for a moment as he tumbled clumsily to the ground, banging his head hard but feeling no pain. He looked at the beast, a fearsome creature that could only fit its massive head and fat, clawed fingers through the pit in the floor that seemed to take up most of the room. Its mouth was lined with jagged teeth that covered and hid his lower jaw, and glowing green eyes looked down at him with no other emotion than wicked malice. The boy looked down at his hands, and found that what he held was not a noble sword or brutal ax, but a flute. His heart stopped in fear as he looked up hopelessly. His jeans, cotton shirt, and backpack would not provide any protection against the creature's attacks, and before he could dodge to escape, his world was enveloped in flames.

Will sat up with half a scream. Tangled bed sheets were caught around his feet, and his pillow rested across his stomach, his hand still holding it in a death grip. He looked around his room, the visions of the golden temple gone, replaced with his computer, posters, and furniture. The monster was gone, and the fire it exhaled left no burns. A dream... he thought, Only a dream. He had begun to kick the blankets off when a plump woman, wearing a emerald green bathrobe and her hair up in curlers, burst through the door with an expression of pure worry and shock across her aged face.

"Will!" She gasped, bumbling into the tiny bedroom, "My goodness, are you okay?" She knelt down and gave him a look over.

"I'm okay, grandma." He took a deep breath and brought his hand up to his head, "I just had a bad dream, is all." He slowly stood up, followed by his grandmother. He knew that this wasn't the first time he had woken with a wild shout or desperate cry, and he well knew that his grandma knew the same and was growing concerned with his constant nightmares.

She sighed in relief and laughed, "Goodness gracious! You scared me half to death! Well, I'll get started on breakfast since I'm up. Get dressed and I'll have some oatmeal ready for you." She smirked and trotted off to the kitchen with tiny steps. 65 year old Grandma Lola was one of Will's guardians, his parent's having had an unfortunate car accident 8 years prior. She was a chubby, jovial woman with short, tightly curled red-brown hair and knack for 'exotic' cuisine. Her world travels in her younger days had given her an extensive, and sometimes vaguely frightening, menu. The other guardian was Will's grandfather, Bill. His short hair was a faded blueish silver, with lightning streaks of solid gray, which matched his mustache that hung over his lip with wispy hairs. He was a tall man with an athletic frame, who was once an architect for the city, and before then had worked in construction, but now filled his day with nothing more than tinkering with the household electronics and jogging all across their neighborhood, keeping in the best shape Will had ever seen for someone his age. They all crammed themselves into a relatively tiny two-bedroom apartment in the center of the great city they lived in. The old wild west had lost most of its great plains, hot deserts, and green forests to the concrete jungles that were making their way across the nation. Something about this made Will upset, and he wasn't sure why. He loved where he lived, but his heart would occasionally grow heavy as he looked out his window at the ever busy.

Will dressed himself quickly in a plain outfit that consisted of a blue printed t-shirt, a pair of mangled jeans, and some old tennis shoes, threw on his backpack and ran a comb through the halo of stringy gold bed-head before throwing on a baseball cap and skidding down the short hallway, planting himself on a dining room chair when he finaly stopped. Resting his elbows on the table's edge, his mind raced about the dream. Strange dreams had plagued him for almost a month, all the same; him fighting some strange creature or escaping a strange place with only his flute, which he used more for music class than brawling with beasts, to protect him. He'd never know what to do in these dreams, and would often wake up just before getting smashed, hit, electrified, eaten, or anything remotely similar to being killed. He couldn't figure out the bizarre dreams, and knew only that they woke him up every morning with a thundering heart. Creatures of fantasy thrived in them, and the mysterious dream-world consisted of vaguely familiar but compeletely different cultures.

"Will? Eat your food, honey. I at least want you full before you go running around causing trouble with your friends all day." Lola laughed.

She still remembers that... Will sighed. It wasn't his fault Lance got them arrested for shoplifting. Every weekend, he and his friends would hang out in one of their rooms or at the mall, and it was Lance's apartment that they were all heading to that day. Kara, Will's crush, was tagging along behind the group, wearing her favorite pink dress and a ribbon headband that contrasted noticeably with her long, wavy black hair. Will had only known her a few months, ever since she came to California the long-distance from New York, but just looking into her brown eyes brought some odd pang in his heart, one of familiarity. She was more plain than other girls, without a particularly stunning face or body, but she mesmerized him into a trance every time. She was sometimes a little stuck up, and was richly treated at home. She had never lived anywhere but a city, and it showed. As Will emerged from the door to the apartments, he swung over the railing near the steps, and landed and lept off one of the many trash cans in a single, fluid motion. He darted across the street, timing to avoid the cars with honed precision. The vehicles zoomed past harmlessly as he glided from curb to curb to meet with his friends. He was always the daredevil sort. Not enough to consider killing things with a woodwind, but enough to sit on the outside sill of his window and preform acrobatics across trash cans and parked cars. His friends greeted him warmly as he bounced into view, although he spotted that Kara didn't approve of the near-lethal show of skill.

Lance was leading, as per usual. He was the local pride in archery contests, and was an amazing athlete all around. He and Will had been friends since they were young, and stayed together loyally through thick and thin. Lance had short, scruffy red hair and green eyes, and was wearing a white shirt and black pants with a dark coat covered in buttons and pins in true punk fashion, and somewhere within the mess of metal Will spotted a loose black tie. He certainly didn't look like a jock from a first glance, but he certainly looked like a troublemaker, always wearing a fox-like grin on his face. Then there was the youngest of the group, the bright eyed and naive Eric, who had adhered himself to the ring of friends years before. He was the only son of a big business CEO, but never spent any time at home despite the numerous comforts he had there. Even through the hottest days of summer, he was clad head to toe in every winter appropriate garment his mother had bought him. She had an unreasonable fear of him getting cold, it would seem. Just behind Will was Seth, who was born here, but had some unknown ethnicity that gave him an exotic appearance of a natural tan and grayish-purple eyes that almost matched his bright purple hair. Will had never gotten around to asking if it was dyed. He was the oldest at 16, and smart as a whip. His parents couldn't care less about his academic achievements, however. They fought continuously, and he'd be caught in the unfortunate crossfire. Will could sometimes catch a deep red mark on his face or a dark bruise on his arms, most likely inflicted by his drunkard father. Seth never awknowledged them, too used to it by now.

"Eric, what took you so long?" Kara leaned over his shoulder, a long, loose curl of hair following, "I thought you had ditched us again." She hugged her bag up against her chest, making sure none of its precious contents of make-up and magazines fell out.

"Hey, I had to get dressed." He motioned towards his clothes with a struggle. It had to be insanely hard to move with so many sweaters piled on his small body at once. His arms stuck comically outwards for comfort, and his chin was held high over his scarf to prevent suffocation.

"Your mom is lucky you don't get heat stroke in that." Seth said as he sped up to walk by Eric, "Did you try telling her it gets to almost eighty degrees out here in afternoon?" He drew back some unruly violet hair behind his ear and tugged questioningly at the end of Eric's scarf, which had to be nearly eight times too large for winter even.

Eric shook his head, "Why do you think I hang out with you guys all day? So I can get out of this stuff." He tore the scarf from his neck and started working on his sweater. The group chuckled at the flailing display as they neared Lance's apartment complex, a short building compared to most, and not to the fancier side of housing. One could spot alley cats lazing on the balconies and wilting flowers in the window sills. Cheap stained glass ornaments reflected the sun in brilliant color from their spots behind drawn curtains. The red brick work was patched over and covered with paint, making it look ancient amongst the office buildings and shops.

The group continued on, a low murmur of giggling a talking amongst themselves filled the air. Will had his mind on something else, though. A few feet away, Will saw the oddest looking people he had ever seen. His pace slowed, but went unnoticed by the rest of the posse. The two strangers were standing, no, hiding in one of the many dark alleys that lined the main streets like pathways in a maze. He couldn't make their faces out in the shadows. That was, until they looked directly at him. Their gazes sent a chill up his spine. He could make out two pairs of eyes, green and blue, but both giving off an odd and strange, somewhat surreal, feeling. He slowed to a stop, his eyes meeting their own. They were done up in rags; cloaks, most would say. Certainly an uncommon dress. They continued to watch, like vultures anxiously awaiting something to happen. He finally turned away, back to his friends, and called for them to turn around and wait up, and the pairs of eyes followed his calls to the group in curiosity.

Will opened his mouth to speak, but the minute air came from his lips, his head filled with a sharp pain that slowly spread across his head and face in ebbing waves, "Ah..." He stopped mid-breath, causing everyone else to stop, too, "God, my head..." He groaned as he rubbed it softly. Kara rushed over to aid, but was stopped by Will, who thrust his arms out in sudden, wide-eyed suffering. He screamed loudly as the pain grew enormous, like a his was being split by an ax, only slower and less merciful. He dropped to his knees and fell to his side, drawing the of attention of the hurried crowds around them. The concrete below him felt ice cold, like chilled metal against bare flesh, and then nothing as a frightening numbness overwhelmed every part of his body that wasn't driving him mad with pain.


Will threw himself about on the ground like a dying fish, his friends circling in worry around to help him up. With each hand that shot down to raise him off the ground, though, he'd reply with an aimless, target-less kick, "Stop it! Stop it, please!" He felt a few of the kicks meet with something, but human or not, he couldn't tell.

"Will... you... needed... You are needed, Will!" A voice rang sharper in his head, making the pain all the more worse. Will turned his head up to look at Kara's whitened, horrified face as she screamed wordless pleas. His friends trying to calm him, their mouths forming words that had no sounds beyond the voice in his own mind.

"What? What is it, stop it!" People had flipped out cell phones to call 911 and rushed to his side to try and diagnose him. His screams had run dry, and were now replaced by loud moans and whimpers of sore agony. The voice boomed again in his head, each word draining more and more energy from him. He felt his own eyes go dim, despite his sight already being fuzzy and blindingly bright. A white sheet of pain now hid his friend's faces, nothing left to tell him that there was someone there.

"Forevermore, a hero you will be. Find me... find me within..." This harsh voice-- Was it female?-- slowly became a mere murmur, and as it faded, a new sound came into play. The shrieks of the thousands of people as a low rumbling made it through the through the throbbing in his head. His sight was still the horrid light, and voices seemed to be noise, not language. He felt the ground shift and turn wildly beneath him, and the crumbling and crashing of demolition. He wanted to turn and see, but remained a paralyzed body splayed out on the sidewalk he couldn't feel. Screams! They made his heart jump as the people ran by his head, what felt like only inches away from trampling him. Then the most sickening sound. A roar. One that couldn't belong to anything on earth. It was a fantastical sound that soared above him and brushed him with heavy gusts of wind each time it passed by.

Kara couldn't make anymore noise for Will to hear, anyway, after her next sight.