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By Matthew "Badger" Rossi
WHERE WE WAKE UP ELECTRIFIED
We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the
We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the day-break.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always-
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.
Thomas Stearns Eliot, Burnt Norton
Michelle Thomas is one of the strongest people in the world.
But you don't hear about her as much.
That's okay with her. Michelle gets to go out to dance clubs and mingle with the people a lot more than other, more famous Omegas do. Like right now: Michelle is at a dance club called LAST WAVE, an eighties retro extablishment full of yuppie lawyers and powermongers-to-be.
Hmm. Maybe it isn't so great to be anonymous after all.
Michelle leaned up against the bar and tried to decide if she should ditch Neuwraith or not. The kid was almost pathetically eager to get along with the other Seekers, especially now that he was up from Antarctica and hoping to get into the main squad. Karl was a good kid, and an accomplished long distance telepath who'd been trained by Phillip Bailey in the more esoteric uses of clairvoyant senses...but he seemed to have developed a crush upon the entire Seekers organization. Michelle'd thought the kid was going to pass out when Wes shook his hand.
"So, what's it like to be in line for the top spot, Michelle?"
"Ahm shoah I don' know what y'all mean." Shit, he must be making me nervous...I'm pouring the accent on. Michelle looked over at Karl and hoped he hadn't been scanning her mind when she thought that. "You've worked wit' some big guns befoah."
"Yeah, but that was just garrison duty. Now, I actually get a shot at the big time! Do you know I own all of the unauthorized biographies of every Seeker that's been printed?"
"God, Karl, don't tell me things like that." Michelle was just about to move when her wrist-com went off. Thank the lord for Omega menaces. "This is Thomas."
:Michelle, it's Wes. Who are you with?:
"Uhm, I'm with the new guy from Antarctica, Neuwraith. The Clairvoyant/Telepath." Please don't tell me to bring him, please don't tell me to bring him.
::Bring him along. We've got a bug hunt, another guy in powered armor. You, my loveable self, and Miller are heading to Providence, RI.::
Michelle really hated Wes sometimes.
Battery pointed his hands and fired a stream of jacketed electrons off into the slowly awakening sky, creating a lightning stroke amidst the cloudlessness. The sound of it was the bones of a giant breaking, and inside the new black and blue armor he smiled. Black and blue...was I trying to tell myself something?
Next to him his sister test-fired the plasma cannon mounted in her right gauntlet. Each of her gauntlets had two weapons systems: the right hand had the plasma cannon, a high-tech version of a flamethrower, and a series of micro-teargas grenades. The left hand held a powerful blue-green laser and Jacob's personal favorite, a turbine that would spin at supersonic speeds and generate a needle-sharp blast of air that could penetrate a tank. He liked that weapon because it was entirely his design, uninfluenced by DeLeon or the Wrexakt.
::I'm liking it, Jake. I'm liking it a lot.::
::I'm glad. I was afraid you'd prefer the old suits.:: He dipped into a banking dive, getting low over the hills of Westerly and buzzing the gravel pit. He came in so low he could see his sleek reflection in the water filling the pit, and he slowed himself to a hover using the suit's Magnetic Force Field to hold himself in place. Heather followed him in, and soon the both of them were silently standing in the air.
::Are you kidding? It's whisper-quiet, it has weapons all internally housed and cybernetically linked, and you built me my own power supply. What's not to like? What gets me is that you managed to diverge so rapidly from any of the previous designs. Why'd you do it?::
::Narcissism.:: He reached down into the water, and found the metallic hulk he'd suspected was down there by its magnetic field. ::The Wrexxakt suits are all super-hydraulic, they all use that fluid-based artifical musculature, and Jimmy used small myomer-sheath enhancement-pods. Both were bulky and cumbersome. The Harrakin armor was my model...but I can't do what they do with nanites. I can't build that small. But I can use the force field to duplicate the effect. From there, all I had to do was build the generators and install them inside the armors. They link, create the force sheath, and the armor can move and lift just like a human being, but stronger and faster. Manipulate the sheath, and you can fly. Magnetic simulation of TK fields.:: He yanked, and the metal skeleton of a Lorain 75 Ton crane slid out from underneath the water. ::And using my own powers, I can even amplify the field and extend it, to create distance manipulation. I'm like a pocket Electromag now.::
::Showoff.:: She lifted her arm and a sudden SHRRRING tore the crane apart. Rusted shrapnel showered the surface of the pond-sized puddle. ::Woooh. That air-blaster of yours has more kick than I thought.::
::Well, that's pretty good for a test run. Let's get ourselves home.::
They slid upwards into the dawning sky and sliced noiselessly towards Quonset, and the Warehouse.
Wes briefed them on the plane.
"Okay,Armor's going to take you two with her to Irene Chevalier's home. If she's there, you question her while Neuwraith probes around. It's all legal...I've got the warrants already issued and waiting for us at the airport." Wes was already in his battle mode, and to listen to it made Michelle kick herself up into it, so that she'd be ready.
"Warrants?" Miller sounded somewhat incredulous. "We're actually bothering with them?"
"Yep. This isn't the same old SIRECOM, not while the Seekers are here. I know you're more used to fast and loose, Reflex, but this armored thief might not be Chevalier. We've got some reasons for supposition, nothing more. However, since OVERTECH was hit as well, I figured that this was a good idea. I'm not sure that DeLeon isn't involved somehow, so while you three take the Chevalier house, I'll be questioning him." The plane hummed quietly as he finished. "Armor, anything to add?"
"What're this thief's powers? What can he oah she do?"
Wes smiled. Michelle was shaping nicely into the field commander role he'd envisioned for her. He wasn't really ready to relinquish the job yet, but when he was, Armor'd be there to step in.
"Okay, here's a holographic projection of he, she or it." Wes thought, and the plane's holography system kicked on. A projection of a blue and gold metal figure, in vague human shape, came into resolution. "We actually got two reasonable scans of Target one, as well as a name designation. Whatever is inside that suit calls itself Battery. "
"Do weah know that it's not a robot?" Michelle was looking at it carefully, memorizing the joints and connections that would make for weak spots. "That'd make oah job a lot easier."
"We don't yet know for sure what it is or isn't. All we know is that it seems to have a major mad-on for ex-Dynamax facilities...not too surprising...and maybe for SIRECOM as well. If it's Chevalier, there's a reason. According to our own records, and the thief would just have learned this, David Chevalier's death was faked, and he was re-assigned to covert duty. And then he vanished. All of the raids might be attempts to learn his whereabouts."
"So we know nothing?" Neuwraith spoke up for the first time. "I mean, we have a lot of leads, but very little concrete fact. We know something that looked like that attacked SIRECOM Atlanta and Aegis. We know that whatever it is, it was probably involved in the thefts. We know that it accessed the Chevalier file and copied our database. And that's all we actually know."
"Good point, Neuwraith."
Michelle was surprised to hear herself echoing Wes' sentiment. The kid might be a bit overeager, but he wasn't stupid.
"But that's what we're doing here...checking on leads. And I have a hunch...it may not be psi, but I've learned to trust them."
James DeLeon is twenty-three years old, and the head of a growing company that makes the best hardware in the world. He knows this. There isn't anyone who can make a better processor than him, and only a few can equal it. The OVERTECH HyperDrive. James, or Jimmy as he's more commonly known, doesn't even really understand how it works. That's why he ended up embroiled in the matters of Jacob and Heather Chevalier...he'd needed someone to tell him.
Jimmy leaned back in the peeling gray naugahyde chair that he'd brought to Providence from Detroit, when the Colony broke up and he'd needed a new place to live, away from everyone else. He'd loved the group, and had no regrets about his time with them...but it was his time now. His hand slid under the desk to the archive he'd painfully constructed and re-constructed to hold the Wrexxakt Archive he'd downloaded from Shiva's vessel, the long buried Wrexxakt craft in the Newfoundland Tundra. Despite his Omega, Jimmy was no closer to understanding what the files inside the flat black laptop meant then he had been. The fact was, his Omega was the only thing that had allowed him to make use of the information. Scowling, he pushed a button and the file editor came up, the suspend-resume warm under his fingertips.
Jimmy had no idea how his Omega worked. All he knew was that when he concentrated hard enough, his brain would make intuitive leaps, hopping over his understanding and guiding his fingers as he built without any real knowledge of what it was he was making. Somewhere, Jimmy'd read a biography of Satchel Paige that said he played ball the same way. Jimmy hoped it was true. Satchel Paige was one of his heroes. There weren't too many heroes for a black jamaican growing up in Miami. He needed the connection he felt with Paige, even if it was an invention.
Once, Jimmy'd tried to hack it out in the world the way Jacob and Heather were now. He'd designed a suit of armor that seemed massively cutting edge at the time and he'd rode out to right wrongs and be a hero. Now, the suit seemed primitive compared to the stuff he was building now, or the stuff Heather and Jake were designing. Jimmy'd looked over the file Jake'd downloaded into his computer, and he'd felt his Omega spinning in his head, almost angry somehow that he hadn't come up with it himself. But he couldn't. The fact was that while Jimmy was an intuitive inventor, he was a packrat when it came to ideas to invent. He didn't built a transporter until he'd seen Warren teleport things. He hadn't improved it until he'd let his Omega chew on the Wrexxakt archive, and their own point-to-point transmat. The thing he'd invented had been a strange muddle of the two. He was bitter to see that Jake had understood the point of the Wrexxakt design, and while using none of their components he was generating a field that could create point-to-point transmat effects. He was bitter to see that Heather'd invented a whole new programming language for the cybernetic linkages...a better one, with less command pathway ambiguities. Unlike his first armor, they'd never have to double-check to make sure they weren't activating the wrong system. They'd done away with jet engines or rockets...they'd mimicked the TK enhanced strength of most Omegas...and they were accessing teh full potential of Jake's EMG Conversion. They'd abandoned his design entirely.
God, they were smart kids. He remembered being hunted by Dynamax back in the day, when he'd been stupid enough to call himself "Ille Leo" and ran around in that garish red skeleton armor. It wasn't a life. He'd needed to find the Colony to get himself a life, and there wasn't a Colony.
There was an alternative, however, if he could make them take it. It would require a sacrifice on his part...and he'd wanted so much for this to be his time.
He rubbed the Wrexxakt Archive with his right hand.
Kevin Marshall had been under a lot of strain lately. For the past three months, he'd been stalling his superiors, and they were beginning to get antsy. Yet that didn't seem to matter as much now as it once would have. Shuddering, he ran his hands through his thinning hair, wondering when it had started falling out like that. And then he looked down at the black shape on the table.
He dreamt about the damn thing sometimes. Huge, glowing shapes would rush screeching through his dreams, as he sat in the icy void surrounded by stars. He was powerful in the dreams, and never alone. There was always a mind there with him, guiding him, advising him, part of him. The black armor was his skin, and it knew him, and together they would n'tirsitlath de Wrexxakt marranath tisarid nor morrigeth Lokar D'agn nigheth...
He jerked upright, his head pounding. Reflected in the eerie green of the monitor console, he saw a fisheyed copy of his face staring back at him. He wasn't sallow anymore; he'd moved straight onward into ashen. His face was dotted with the beginnings of a beard, and there were two infected blackheads above his right eye. He couldn't remember what color his eyes were. His fingers trembled as they pulled his wallet out of his back pocket.::Spectrographic Analysis - 127:: ::Temperature Analysis - 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit:: ::Radiation Analysis - Unable to determine:: ::MRE Scan - Negative results:: ::Infrared Laser Probe - Negative results:: ::Psion Scan - Active Psion Profile, .81 Megapsion Range.::
As he opened his wallet and looked at his drivers license (Brown, they were brown, why did he think they were Green?) he realized that the Psion Scan results were going to get out sooner or later. Either a Sh'ugguth-ka ne Harrakilli doreth manaxadran K'krikantiar nore...
He turned away from the table and sat down, sweat running down his face and sticking his collar to his skin. His lab-coat made him hot. Without really paying attention, he removed it. And then his shirt, yanking impatiently at his tie like a zombie. What could the psion levels mean? At that level, they were half as high as the ratings off of the unarmored Green the Seekers had captured last year, Tatris, the one who'd wrecked New York. Too bad he hadn't been wearing his armor. It would have given me more to study...
Kevin was tugging at his shoes when a possibility occured to him. What if the armor really was a living thing? So far, the brass at SIRECOM had assumed that the Harrakin were exaggerating when they called the suits N'Allatath Har'Kanadran. Living Metal Brothers. But maybe they suits had an intelligence. Which would explain the near Megapsion power output: The suits helped the non-Green Harrakin to extend their powers so that they could survive in vacuum! The average Red Harrakin, or Orange, or Yellow has NO telekinetic abilities. A bullet will kill one of them the same way it would kill a human. And the average Violet, Indigo or Blue is absolutely non-telepathic. What if the armor allows them to join the 'link' Tatris babbled about before they took him to Glowglass? The armor is the great equalizer of Harrakin society. It allows everyone to simulate, if not equal, the Greens.
[Bond. Alone. Empty. Bond.]
Kevin's head whipped around and looked back to where the armor was lying on the table. It had been slowly draining english out of his skull, he knew this now. And it had been feeding him Harrakiel. Now, he understood that the suit was waiting for him.
His naked feet slapped off of the metal floor, cold and suddenly trembling. He looked down at the armor, and the slow increase of Green light rising out of the helmet. He felt a draft, somehow, in the climate controlled lab. And then he felt a twisting in his head.
[Bond. Keep safe. Protect fleshbrother Sh'uggurth-ka Wrexxakt come.]
He reached down his hands to take the helmet.
And the helmet took him. Black metal melted and flowed up his naked arms, pouring over his skin, covering his body in thick viscous shiny metal skin. Slowly he was swallowed up in it, and then, it began to harden, forming a spiky carapace over his body. The green glow from the helmet increased.
[ninharak norverth Tir Tislath nok Harrakprill niminialk larak...] The words became images. The images became a flood, a fire of light inside his mind. The second skin was a special suit, although Kevin Marshall had no way of knowing that before. It was not the mere skin of a common low-caste. It had been the armor of Harra Sheel'ka Harrakin, grandson of great Harrak itself. It was Green Caste. It had been worn by Dy'Tariexen'ka. Harra passed it to his great-grandaughter Minharrath, who passed it to her son Moorivak, who was replaced by Obrantir, who then surrendered it to Obran'Ka, and finally Li'Tarrak Obran'Ka Harrakin, the Dy'Tariex of two thousand years ago. When she died at the hands of her cousin Hallatiris during their Tisaridron, the armor she wore became forfiet, and Hallatiris gave it to his son, Tatris. Who gave it to Sharra, to give to SIRECOM. This armor had bonded with six Dy'Tariex. It had powerful thoughts, as each suit grew to match past wielders. It was dangerous to wear such a suit. If you were unprepared, it might overwhelm your thoughts with its own.
Kevin Marshall learned this, when the armor blotted out his mind in a sea of memories. He quivered, the green glow blazing from his eyes now. He was no longer Kevin. He was Harra Sheel'Ka Harrakin. This was the second Wrexxakt war. He had been captured.
His eyes blazed, and the black shape knew what it had to do.
It had to kill.
Wes Hickman had come to Jimmy DeLeon's home on a hunch. He'd expected evasions, prevarications, outright lies. In short, he'd expected everything except what he was getting now:
"You did what?"
"I screwed up. I got them into this. It was like the Colony at first...I forgot what the stakes were. It was such a rush, bein' da one dey turned to." As he spoke, his Jamaican patois began to thicken. Wes looked around the room, sensing the raw computer power behind the walls and in the floor and the desk. His cyberbnetic limbs flexed. "I was dey one who suggested raidin' all o' de old Dynamax plants, and I was de one who told them to raid SIRECOM. Jake was desperate...he was burnin' up from the insides, his Omega was frying him and he need equipment he couldn't get any other way."
"He could have come to us!" Wes stood up. "Hell, we're helping your old friend Strang, we've got her speed powers stabilized with the right equipment, we're training her to achieve slowdown state...why the Hell would you tell them to go on wild raids against Government Installations!? People could have been killed, DeLeon. They could have been killed!"
"Why d'ya tink I'm tellin' you all this, Revenuer? I know. They wanted to help Jake, and they wanted to find their father, and I steered them wrong. It's my fault, Hickman. Mine. Not theirs. You've got to cut them a break. And even if you don't take my side of it, look at this!" Jimmy twisted the laptop on his desk, showing Hickman the screen. "Interface with this, see what Heather and Jake have done without any help from me."
"If this is a trap...if you were going to do it, you already would have. Trying to trap me with a computer's too risky. You'd have just built another Kali if you wanted me dead." Hickman wasn't in the practice of talking his thoughts, but he was a little shaken by the naked desolation on DeLeon's face.
"I just wanted to be the Danny for once. But I'm not. And I'll never be. Just look at the files, Hickman."
Wes reached out and touched the console lightly with his metal fingertips.
A rush of fractal thought, and Wes rolled into Cyberspace. This one was high-resolution to the tenth power, more realistic and impressive than anything he'd experienced before. The towers of light were almost palpable, beating with electric light. The computer he was interfaced with was at once powerful beyond all reason, and responsive to thought on a scale beyond his understanding. Anyone else might have stopped.
Wes Hickman, as the ruin of his original arms can attest to, doesn't stop easy.<Computer: Explain environment.> <<Environment produced by linkage between your mind and that of the Heather/Jacob Chevalier Trinary Driver, as redesigned from the original prototype built by James DeLeon.>>
<This is Trinary?> Wes looked around him. There were no strange pulsating forms. No bizzare squiggles or semi-sentient code-beings. There was a crystalline symmetry of form and light, but it was intelligible to him. <I was expecting something from Escher or Dali, but not this. How is this possible?><<The H.Chevalier code takes advantage of the Trinary Chip, but is designed to smoothly interact with Binary systems and drivers. It lowers itself. And you are experienced in Trinary systems, so that it is unneccesary for it to make much adjustment.>>
<Thanks for the complement. I think.> Wes smiled grimly, looking at his cyberspace 'Icon' more carefully. The truth was in the telling, apparently, because it looked more like the real him than it ever had before, right down to the texture of his metal hands. <Well, time to download the file DeLeon wanted me to look at.><<Accessing File JCCHEV.SHG>>
The computer environment flashed as the information was extracted from the glowing towers and then an image, nearly Wes' size, appeared in the air in front of him. It was a black and cobalt blue metallic suit, made from armored sections that connected as neatly and symmetrically as the muscle groups of the human body. The faceplate was a seamless blue with no features, and the hands, feet and shoulders all had blue trim. Schematic information began pouring into Wes' mind as the document opened.<He designed and built this without DeLeon?> <<Affirmative. Basic principle, execution, and even metallurgic work all done by Jacob Chevalier, based on original ideas. The command pathway programs designed by Heather Chevalier, based on Jacob's unique electromagnetic signature. Armor is optimized for him and him alone. Cannot be worn by anyone else, due to its lack of an integral power supply, although it has capacitors in case Chevalier is unable to provide power due to psi-suppression.>>
Wes jacked out, snapping back into reality with a fluid ease. DeLeon was looking expectantly at him. He raced his mind over his few options.
"Are you willing to take full responsibility...even criminal responsibility...for their actions? I'm not willing to walk away from this, but I think those kids were just acting as best they could, considering the bad advice they were getting and SIRECOM's past track record with Omegas. But someone has to pay for the crimes committed here."
"I knew that when I told you, Revenuer. I'm willing." Besides, you've got a boss, Hickman...and I've read enough of Brenda Washington's files to know that she'll take any weapon she can get against Owen...especially one who'll cut Stormkillers technological lead down to the bone. "If you agree to let Heather and Jacob slide, I'll come quietly."
"I'll do better than let them slide, DeLeon. I'll help keep them alive."
Michelle sat awkwardly in the large townhouse's living room, uncomfortable in her Seeker's uniform and link visor, but they were on a mission, and procedure counts for something. Neuwraith was standing in the corner and trying to look official. What he looked like was an underfed coonhound ready to pounce on something and call it dinner. Miller was standing at the door. He looked official...and a little menacing, if you wanted the God's honest truth. But Irene Manden-Chevalier was taking it all in stride.
"Thefts at various former Dynamax facilities? What would I know about that? I admit to working in Cognitive Science, but my field is more the understanding of mental processes. The development of same in artificial forms is a little out of my line. Actually, Heather or Jacob could probably help you there...I believe that Jacob was doing some consulting work for OVERTECH...that is the firm you mentioned, yes?" Irene's conversational style and her lecturing voice were remarkably similar. Michelle looked at the narrow-faced woman, so vibrant with barely concealed distaste, and thought hard at Karl.
You getting anything out of her?<She's telling the truth. And don't worry, I didn't even have to probe her. Her doctorate in Computer Science was earned off the backs of her children: They're the ones with smarts in those areas. She's a shrink...a damn good one, if she thinks so herself, but she knows barely enough about computers to work as a professional programmer. No way could she raid SIRECOM.>
That's twice in one day you've impressed me, Karl. Keep it up.Karl suddenly shifted where he stood. <That's odd. What was that?>
What was what? Michelle hated it when Telepaths thought things at her like What was that? or Did you feel that? because it left her out of the loop and anxious.
Miller shifted towards the room, responding to the look on Michelle's face. Irene plowed on with her remarks, having practically abandoned the idea of answering questions.
"And although I understand that you're just doing your jobs in asking me I have to tell you that I feel like this is just another SIRECOM stall tactic. Well, I'm tired of them. I'd appreciate it if you could tell your employers that I will gain access to David's file, legally, and that all of this smoke and mirrors..."<There's a presence outside. Two of them. They weren't there before. One's a girl, the other...he generates some kind of interference...I can't read him. Not without a direct probe, and the warrant says...>
I don't especially care what it says right now.
Before Michelle could think any further, the door opened. In stepped a young man, wiry, with brown hair beginning to grow too long for his face, and a woman who looked like what she was, his twin. They stopped dead as they took in the room. Their mother was sitting on the couch, chatting with the Seekers. SIRECOM's elite Omega team, created to stop rogue Omegas.
Like Jacob Chevalier and his sister Heather, who may not have had the powers, but in her armor was all over that 'rogue' half of the equation.<ARMOR! He's the one! It's him!>
Even as Michelle whipped around, calling her power up and surrounding herself in a metal shell, Jacob's eyes narrowed. A beam of tightly focused Microwaves erupted out of his head, although no one there could see it, linking him from the house in Providence to the warehouse at Quonset Point. The Microwave beam oscillated at the exact right frequecy and contained the exact code to access a very special suit of armor.
One with a built in point-to-point Transmat system.
As did the suit next to it.
The Seekers might have expected a lot of things at that moment. After all, Miller was schooled in the hard streets of Belfast, running with an IRA cell before he turned them in and joined the Seekers. Michelle was a veteran of battles against Tempest, Shiva and Metro. And Neuwraith...well, Karl wasn't really expecting anything at that point. But all three of them were surprised to see two young kids standing in front of them one second...and two black armored refugees from a japanese animation festival, or the AMAZING REBIRTH version of Steel Man, suddenly standing in the room.
Jacob, for his part, did what he does best.
"GET AWAY FROM HER!" He pointed his hands at Miller, who'd managed to recover his composure and was now between the kids and the rest of the Seekers. Irene sat there with a look of terror on her face as she realized that events were spinning rapidly out of the usual orbit.
But before anything could escalate, Armor's com-link crackled.
::Armor, this is Interface.::
"Wes, ah'm jus' the tiniest bit busy here..."
::Tell the kids that DeLeon and I are coming and tell them to stay calm. Do it now. I'll explain when I get there.:: Underneath her metal skin, Michelle nodded to the air. Then she stepped around Miller, putting her arm on his chest to restrain him. He looked up at her with surprise practically glued to his expression.
"Stand down, Reflex. Lissen, you two, let's not get hasty here."
"Back away from us. NOW." There was a bright corona of sparking electricity around Chevalier's armored hands. "We can fight this out, but not here. I'm not going to hurt mom with a missed shot. So..."
"Shut. Up. And. Listen. To. Me." Michelle leaned in, putting all of her not inconsiderable presence into her words. "DeLeon and our commander are on their way heah. If you don' believe me, try channel seven, SIRECOM command frequency. I assume y'all know it?"
The twins looked at each other. For once, neither of them knew what to do. It was a rather novel experience for them. Slowly, with a great deal of reluctance, Jacob allowed the energy he was building up to dissipate back into his natural electrokinetic field.
"So." Michelle looked at Reflect and Neuwraith, who looked just as puzzled as she felt. "I don't know about y'all, but there's an awful amount o' people in black standin' here looking stupid to me."
Harra Sheel'Ka Harrakin/Kevin Marshall had no idea where he was, or how he'd gotten there, or why his natural power wasn't responding. He could not tap the Link...he could not even feel it without the Living Metal Brother being telepathic for him. And when the brother did so, he felt a hostile presence that would not, could not respond as he needed. He was not among the Tistlath De Harrakiel. And he was injured somehow. The room he was in was a shiny metal vault of some kind of manufacture completely alien to him. Was it a prison? Could the Wrexxakt be responsible for this.
The black form walked up to the SIRECOM computer in the diagnostic array. Somehow, he had memories of that device. It was primitive, but it contained information, if you knew the right buttons to push. Without caring where the numbers came from, he opened the archive retrieval program. Which squiggles would mean Wrexxakt? That rose, and he pushed the squiggles. Up on the glowing glass box dots spelled out a pattern that took him a few seconds to decipher.
<<Wrexxakt: Possible name of alien group responsible for the manufacture of Shiva's ship and the Metro encounter (See duty logs, Seekers #112187 and 992341.>>
The Hated Ones Who Must Be Killed At Any Cost were here.
They must be the ones who put me here.
They must be the ones responsible for the corrupted link. Pitiable Lokar traitors and D'agn cyborgs must be engaging in the Link! Keeping him from calling the Armada and annihilating...wherever he was, anyway.
He quickly decided to escape. Even though his natural powers were gone, he still had the armor of the Dy'Tariex, and that would succor him. He walked to the door. It was made of some metal.
He dug his hands in and felt it give way, and tore it open. It dropped to the floor with a clanging sound, and a screeching noise began to ring out along the hallway. Somehow, he knew it was a containment breach. It didn't concern him much. He stepped through the portal and began walking down the hallway. The Wrexxakt were here somewhere, and he intended to kill whatever got in his way between himself and them.
Even if that meant killing every living thing on this planet.
Wherever it was.
Unfortunately for them, SIRECOM Security Detail Beta, consisting of Seekers Carlos "Firedevil" Hasseen and Tethya "Clamour" Meridith, arrived first on the scene. Both of them were assigned to the Grotto temporarily, as the San Francisco Base they were intended to serve at was not yet completed. The detail served usually as just a make work assignment. Firedevil took point, his Omega ability to assume the shape of a burning monster straight out of Heironymous Bosch gave him at once tremendous strength and agility and the ability to influence the flames that continuously burned on his shaggy skin. He leapt at the black armor, kicking with a cloven hoof. He looked exactly like a Lokar shockbeast to the befuddled Harrakin mind inside the human body within the black armor.
The armor grabbed his foot in mid-jump and slammed him into the floor. And again. And again. The leg snapped with the fourth impact, but the armor didn't seem to realize that, lifting the unconscious and battered man above it's head to smash him down again.
Clamour arrived at that point, rounding the corner and looking on in shock at Carlos' beaten and bloody face, and the wrong angle his hoof was bent at in the metal grip of the attacker. It looked like a Hak, but all the Haks were dead...weren't they?
It drove Carlos into the floor again, and she snapped out of her confusion. If he wasn't dead yet, he soon would be unless she did something. She gathered up the sound of the impacts into herself, intensified them. She screamed, and a shockwave of amplfied sound set the metal walls to ringing as it blasted down the hallway, catching the armor by surprise and knocking it back. It let go of Carlos as it staggered. She sucked in her breath, trying to gather enough air to attack again. Even though her instructors Backstop and Sonic told her over and over that he power was telekinetic, and the breath didn't matter, she needed that big yell to make her power work.
The armor waved a hand, and another shockwave, this one silent, slammed into her own scream and smashed her aside like a small toy. Only the power of her sonic blast muffled the impact enough to keep her head from squashing like an unripe fruit on the wall. The armor stepped over the downed Seekers bodies and kept marching down the hallway as if it had never been attacked.
They were just distractions.
The Wrexxakt were what mattered, and it was sure that they were there somewhere.
It would look for them.
"Let me see if I'm hearing this correctly." Irene was slumped against her fireplace. Standing around her in a kind of expanding circle were her two children, both incased in some kind of armored suits (Although Heather at least had removed her helmet: Jacob claimed he couldn't, because he'd 'burned out his mesh'; she had no idea what that meant) which made them look like futuristic knights, the members of the Seekers, including the large man with metal arms who'd told her his name was Wes, and a dredlocked man in a long grey coat and raggy jeans. "My son has an uncontrollable Omega power. Rather than telling me about it, he decided to entrust this information to the man who runs the company he's been consulting for...and who turns out to be a terrorist? Then he and my daughter begin a spree of break-ins into various companies who my not-really-dead-after-all husband worked at in his cover identity, using their theft of classified technology as a cover for their theft of classifed information?"
Heather was a bright crimson color. Jacob, who had his face safely behind a helmet, spoke up first.
"That's basically it, yeah."
"Take that fucking thing OFF!!!" Irene sprung to her feet and grabbed at the helmet, but Jacob's hands locked around hers before she could try and do anything. "TAKE IT OFF!"
"I CAN'T!!! IT WILL KILL ME TO BE OUTSIDE IT WITHOUT A NEW MESH!"
As Irene dissolved into enraged sobbing, Heather came up behind her. "Mom, I'm sorry....he's telling the truth. When Jimmy and I noticed that Jacob's powers were building up to the point where they'd fry his nervous system, we should have told you..."
"Why didn't you? Why did I have to learn like this?"
"Because I didn't trust you." Jacob let her hands go. She stared up at the blank blue metal of the helmet. "You worked for Dynamax. A lot of other people told their relatives that they were Omegas, and ended up on a Dynamax vivisectioner's table."
"How...how could you think...that I'd do that to you?"
"Your opinions on Omegas haven't fallen on deaf ears, mom." Jacob turned from her. "Yeah, it was stupid. We were stupid. I actually did a stupid thing. It feels weird to say it. Jacob and Heather Chevalier, super geniuses, managed to brilliantly execute an idiotic plan. I'm...I'm sorry you had to find out this way. I tried to tell you...but all I could let myself do is joke about it."
"Why?" Irene was more composed now. "Why didn't you just say it, once, without adding an 'I'm kidding' or 'April Fool?' How could you do this?"
"I didn't want to know what you'd do. I didn't want to test your reaction." His voice, even through the armor's scrambling protocol, sounded husky and anemic. "Not enough of a reason, I know. God, I know."
Irene turned to Wes.
"And you can help him? So he doesn't have to wear that suit all the time?"
On the plane, forty minutes later:
Jimmy was in the back, wearing a psi-suppressor harness and staring out the window. One of the Seekers, the big Irishman, was making sure that Jacob didn't try and break him out of there.
"So...why'd you do it, Jimmy?"
"I had to, kid. You'll understand. I'll explain it. But right now, mon, I need to get some sleep."
"And do yourself a favor, Jake."
"Go along with them. You're made for better things than I got you in."
Jacob gave him one last look from inside his armor and then walked up the plane, feeling somewhat like a small insect one would rather see squashed under a shoe than moving around.
Past the swinging curtain his sister was sitting next to Michelle Thomas, the woman who made her own armor and was even code-named that. Jacob had been about to make a snooty remark when he realized that while Thomas had to have a code name, he'd chosen Battery for himself. And Rewire for his sister. When you weren't facing down her metal self, Thomas was actually really friendly, and Heather looked a little more at ease...if still somewhat shell-shocked.
Jake laughed to himself at his own bad inadverdent pun, but it sounded too much like a lie to him, and he stopped. He hated himself.
"Jake. Are you all right?"
"Hey, sis. I'm fine, I guess. Except for needing to pee. I opened the access flap and went, but it wasn't the same, you know? Hey, Miss Thomas."
"Y'can call me Michelle, Jake. Ah'm sorry about your problem."
He opened his mouth to answer her when Hickman strode into the room.
"Bad, bad, bad news, people. That Harrakin armor the lab-boys in the grotto were studying? It's up and about and thrashing downtown Washington...and half the team is in London, turning over the base there to the ODD." He looked directly at Jacob. "I can't believe I'm about to say this, but..."
"Harrakin Armor?" Jacob interrupted him. "When do we get there? I'd kill to open up one of those things!"
"Let's just hope you don't die for it, kid."
Go Read Seekers #13
(Ooh...Bad Luck) as the Seekers and the Chevaliers go toe to toe with the Harrakin Armor!
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