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by Matthew Rossi
Caught up in emotion
Goes over my head, Goes over my head
Sometimes I got to think to myself
Is this life or death
Am I living or am I dead?
Suicidal Tendencies, How will I laugh tomorrow (When I can't even smile today?)
Danny looked at the hastily cobbled together screen in the bunker. James had worked his magic, his strange knack for invention and electronics having provided them with a superior sensor and communication station out of busted TV's and old Atari 2600 parts, but that was the problem. Knowing what was out there made Danny feel worse.
Daniel Anderson was, as the media had taken to calling people with abilities that most people didn't possess, an "Omega," the last evolutionary step in humanity. He thought that the newspaper reporter who came up with that particular classification should be beaten severely, but he and his were stuck with it. It had caught on. The Daytime TV talk shows bristled with "Is your child dating an Omega?" topics, Maury had covered the "Omega Crisis" in a two part special,and there were rumors tht Oprah and Phil both had their own shows planned. Danny hated it, hated what he knew was coming.
People hate and fear what they don't understand. People don't understand other people who can fly, or read minds, or bend things with a glance, or who can lift battleships. War was coming, and Danny knew that he and his, the blessed few that might have been able to HELP humanity would be killed by it. He sat down in the chair they'd scavenged from an old WWII Mustang fighter and for a second, looked like a seventeen year old again.
The base was secure for now. Angela and Thomas were on patrol, and between his pyrotic gifts and her inhuman speed and accuracy, no "feebs," the name the two hundred colonists had taken to calling those who were not Omegas, could get in. Danny wondered how he'd gotten to be the leader of all this.
"Dan? It's Miranda." The mind touch was as familiar as the sensation of waking. He and Miranda spent a great deal of time together, in each others minds and bodies as much as his position as leader and her position as Medic allowed.
"What is it, Mir?"
"It's Eric. He's awake." A jolt ripped through Danny, joy mingled with fear.
"Just now. I think you should get down here."
"On my way. Warren?"
"What, Danny?" Danny was a non reader, but his ability to touch an object and then bring it back to him any time he wanted had caused his family to try to kill him when he was sleeping. Of course, they WERE a bit extreme in their reaction, but Warren was proof of the war Danny knew was coming.
"I have to go to the Sick Room. Take over on Monitor."
"Okay." Danny got up and headed out the door. Buried underneath the junkyard that Miranda had inherited from her father, the colony provided James with all the parts he needed and Danny felt it was defensible enough for now.
And with Eric awake, maybe we can take the offensive.
He walked the corridors, listening to the sound of his boots clicking on the metal floor. What they'd done since they arrived was amazing, Danny thought. I wish we had time to be proud. But we don't. They'll begin registering us next, and then rounding us up into camps and neutralizing our powers or killing us. I can't let that happen, and I don't think I'll have to. We won't go quietly. They want to exterminate us, they'll have to get really bloody.
Miranda was standing next to a flat bed mounted on a swiveling armature. The Sick Room, in a fit of inventive brilliance from James, was a model of automated medicine. Diagnostic tools built into a special computer console, all far beyond what the feebs could have built. And they want to destroy us, Danny wondered. We could give them so much.
On the bed, sitting up, a thin man/boy sat. His exposed chest rippled with muscle. He was hairless, except for the mane of black hanging all the way down his back. Danny walked next to Miranda, and sucked in his breath as he saw his adopted brother's face.
The eyes blazed green
"Eric, how you doing, buddy?"
"Good. Your chick here doesn't believe me, though."
Had Miranda told him? He looked at her, and she shook her head.
"Danny, Eric has gone through the most powerful awakening I've ever seen, almost more like a larvae going through its pulpae stage. His muscles have become an organic material I've never seen before, All his internal organs have become denser and hard to read, even on the MRI scan, and apparently while he was out he psionically scanned all our minds, yours and mine included."
He went through them like paper. Also indicated is some extreme telekinetic and telelectromagnetic control, and other stuff I've never even seen before. Looks like your guess was right."
Danny smiled, a feral smile, the smile of a trapped animal that sees a way out.
Eric ripped the leg off of the turkey that the group at Danny's table was eating. The group was Danny and Miranda at the head of the table, Eric next to them, James, the large jamaican inventor next to him, and Kimberly and Erica at the far end. The two twins giggled at a private joke shared through their unified consciousness. That, and their ability to supercharge their skins with electricity, had gotten them kicked out of their house.
"So, Eric, hoas it feel to graduate from the ranks of the feebs?" James at 22, with his accent and ebony skin, and the fifteen year old Eric made an odd couple, but even before the beginning signs of Eric's change they had been close. Danny wondered what he'd have done if Eric hadn't manifested like he did: There had been no guarantee at all that the NATURAL brother of a psi would be a psi, and Eric was adopted out of the foster program. Luckily, he didn't have to worry.
"I told you I would, man. Don't see what all the fuss was about."
"Boy, don' you remember going into a fit in the middle of Danny's boring ol' speech about unity breeding strength? I swear, if I hadn't thought you were dying, I'd ha thought you were doin' it just to annoy him."
Kimberly looked over. "Yeah." Erica said. "It was freaky."
"This from the girls who engage in a conversation that don't stop." Eric smiled as Kimberly tossed a roll at him. Danny felt that strange fatherly feeling that he'd developed. When did I get so old? finally, after watching them laugh and jape a little more, he cleared his throat.
"Have you had any other telepathic impressions since you woke up? Sensed any thoughts, felt your own thoughts project, gone astral, that sort of thing?"
"No, man. Just the one that happened while I was down. But Mirry told me she can't read me anymore, so maybe I'm shielding myself or something."
Danny himself, the most powerful peeker at the base, had tried several times to get through the shield that had slammed down over Eric since he woke, and with no success. It concerned him, but not overly. Danny wasn't the prying type anyway. "What have you been able to do?"
"Well, I can fly...we found that out early enough...and nothing so far has been able to hurt me...not even that thing Jimmy here cobbled up that fires lightning."
"Yeah, Danny, should have seen it! We started at the static level, and I had that baby cranking enough voltage to charbroil a tank by the time we were done. Nothing. Bullets don't work either." Testing the emergent powers of one of them had become one of the most dangerous aspects of life at the colony. That's why Miranda was always on hand when it was being done, to heal any injuries the testing may cause. Danny squeezed her hand gently under the table, and she smiled at him.
Eric took another bite of the turkey, swallowed it with little chewing, and washed it down with a can of coke. "I'm strong."
"Stronger that Jarod."
"WHAT!? Jarod can lift a tank!?" Danny suspected that Jarod's strength was psionically assisted, but it was still impressive. If what Eric said was true, he could now lift at least eighty tons!
"Well, all I know is that when James and I use that machine he built for Jarod, it broke and I didn't even feel any strain. I was doing the lifting one handed, too." Eric polished off the second drumstick. Danny linked to Miranda.
"What do you think?"
"Definite telekinetic enhancement. His new muscles should be strong, but there's no way he could be this tough without some sort of protection. Plus...from what my scans this morning indicated, his body is processing that food in ways no human has ever done."
"So, now what, Danny?" Eric's question tore Danny's attention away from the link. "We know what I can do...when do I get a chance to do it?"
"I've got a few ideas about that, Eric."
Danny knew otherwise. Dynamax was the bane of his existence, the one thing he wanted to destroy more than any other. It kidnapped young Omegas and in an attempt to learn how their abilities worked, performed ghastly tests that even the doctors at WWII concentration camps would blanch at. It infected them with horrible diseases, tortured them with implants, performed vivisecton and dissection.
To Danny and the Colonists, a few of which were survivors of Dynamax's Black Labs, Jarvin Tazakles was the embodiment of Satan. And Danny had his own private reasons for hating the man, as well.
Unfortunately, somehow the man had developed effective defenses against Telepathy and Telekinesis. They couldn't just kill him from a distance. And all attempts to assasinate him more conventionally had failed, sometimes spectacularly.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the man was a reader himself. Somehow, he keeps a step ahead. He and his can't find US, and we can't get HIM. Stalemate. Goddamn, I hate that smiling butcher." Danny turned off the screen and turned back to his brother. Eric hadn't managed to process all the information he'd recieved during his nap, and so the presentation had been needed.
"Definitely someone who needs killing."
"Do you think you could be his executioner?" Danny didn't have time to be subtle or coddle his brother. In war, boys grow up fast, and Eric had the potential to be a powerful weapon of war.
"Do you mean am I powerful enough, or do you mean am I ruthless enough?"
"Well, I think I have the power. I'm not sure if I'm ruthless enough...hey, waitaminute. Something about the name Dynamax rings out."
"Mom worked there." The tone in Danny's voice was flat, even. He wasn't sure he could play the trump card: Turn his own little brother into a killing machine with the news. After all, for the whole time they had been building the base, Eric had blocked out the events of their parent's death. Two years, and Eric had never remembered. Did he remember now? The hesitation showed in his face.
Eric wondered what Danny was thinking. This whole set up must be hard on the guy. Maybe if I could think about some of the stuff I learned while I was out...then, Eric hit a node of memories in his own mind he had sealed. The smell of fire, men in yellow and black metal, Biohazard patches, running as the boiler exploded, Danny using his power to get them to safety... and the information Eric had read while changing clicked.
"They're dead. That son of a bitch had them killed when he was trying to get you. Get us, I guess. Didn't he?"
"I remember. Danny?"
"I can kill him." The glowing in Eric's eyes filled the room, so bright that the monitor screens were dim in comparison. "I'll tear out his heart and bring it back here as a friggin' trophy."
"First we have to make sure you're up to it, Eric." Danny went over to the main console and typed in an access code. The screen begand rapidly scrolling, too fast for a normal human to follw: But Danny had reflexes and perception both enhanced by his will, and Eric seemed to have no trouble either. "This ought to do."
"A raid on a Dynamax lab we suspect of being where they warehouse their Guinea pigs. Jarod and Agony are going. You can go with them."
"Jen DuPries. She refuses to answer to anything else, so we humor her. Admittedly silly, but she's powerful and skilled, and we need all the combat ready bodies we can get." Danny motioned for Eric to follow and walked out the door. The two of them walked down the twisted lengths of tunneled out earth and metal plates.
"Still haven't finished the lower levels, huh?"
"You were only out for a month, Eric."
"How much room we got down here?"
"Enough. We could fit three times what we have, according to James, but I'd like to have more." Finally, they came to a large double door that came from a battleship. As it opened, more automation from the mind of James, it revealed a few people training with rifles and pistols. None of the guns matched, and a couple were really bizarre aggregations of tubes and wires.
"Jarod!" Danny called out. A large man walked over from a complicated device that was built in order to challenge his superhuman strength. Eric hoped James had fixed it by now, otherwise he'd never hear the end of it.
"Daniel. Eric, you're up and about."
"Nothing gets by you, Jarod." Jarod had an air of authority about him that both Anderson's disliked. He was forty-eight, and disliked the fact that the colony was run by a seventeen year old, but Danny had the support, and Jarod didn't. He was autocratic, and a bit uptight, Eric thought.
"What can I do for you two?"
"Eric's going on your mission tonight."
"What?" Jarod felt his pulse rate shoot up. "For God's sake, he just got out of the med lab today!"
"Miranda gave him a clean bill."
"He's a BOY! Hell, You are a boy! He's the same age as my son!" The large man wiped at his coffee colored skin with the back of his hand. He'd shaved his head to save his vanity, but at times like this the sweat ran into his eyes.
"If your son had shown any signs of being an Omega, he'd have to go on a few missions too. We all have to pull our weight around here. Hard times are coming. Besides, he broke your weight machine this morning, with one hand." Jarod looked aside at Eric, and Eric smiled at him.
"FINE then...just as long as you both understand that I am in charge of this raid."
"I gotcha, dude." Eric leaned back against the wall. Danny had been about to say something about that, and wondered why Eric was being so concilliatory. "Not here to make waves, just wanna help out and learn the ropes and all."
"We leave from the staging area in one hour. Be there." With a curt nod to Danny, Jarod walked back over to the lifting machine. Danny turned to face his brother.
"What are you up to?"
"No reason he should hate both of us. Besides, I kind of agree with him. I mean, I know we don't have the luxury of waiting until we're older, but still, it kinda sucks for the others to lose their childhoods. Me, I bounced around from foster home to foster home until mom and dad took me in, and you just are this way. About as fun as a colostomy bag." Eric smiled again as he said it.
"I'll give you a colostomy bag. C'mon, I'll get you a radio and a uniform."
First off, she broadcast a message telling everyone of the proper sexual orientation that they desired her. Eric remembered it well from before, but apparently the same thing that kept his mind from being read shielded him from that, too. Just as well, really, as it'd be hard to get through the mission with a perpetual hard-on. The second was general physical ability, just about everything was past human norms. She wasn't in Jarod's class, but she could lift a car easily enough, and was trained in martial arts before she joined. Finally, she could "Switch On" a person's pain receptors, all of them, at once. This is where she got her Nom Du Guerre from, Eric supposed. He wondered if he was immune to that, and decided not to try and find out.
"Allright, here's the plan. Originally, we were going to break the fence and storm the place, but Anderson here can fly and he says he can carry me, so he'll do that, and you'll jump the fence, Jen. You have the codebox James made?"
"Good. You'll go for the main lab we saw on the blueprints, and Anderson and I will go to their Mainframe and destroy it. Once we do that, alarms will be set off, so we'll smash our way to you, and together we'll set any victims free and get out. You two all clear on that?"
"Yessir, Jarod sir."
"Cut the sarcasm, Anderson. Let's go." Agony slipped out of the bushes and flipped over the fence easily, clearing it by twenty feet. She then ran across the thirty yards to the main door in seconds and slipped inside. Jarod, while stronger than her, didn't have the ability to leap higher than a human. Eric grabbed his wrist.
"This is Race Bannon, your stud pilot, and thank you for flying Eric Air. We'll be cruising at a..."
"Cut the shit."
"Spoilsport. Just for that, no peanuts." Swallowing to keep himself calm, Eric hoped that the jokes made him seem unconcerned as he lifted up and over the fence and swept over to the top of the lab and the skylight that Jarod had drilled into his skull thirty minutes ago. They landed on the roof next to it, and Jaron pulled it open. No alarms sounded.
"This is too easy."
"I told you, Anderson, they didn't secure the skylights in the initial contractors plans." Jarod dropped down and Eric flew in after him. Something in him wasn't convinced by Jarod's explanation, and he didn't think Jarod bought it either, but having nothing else to go on, he went along.
They walked out of the office they entered the building through and headed down the halls. Three lefts later, they were at the Data Storage room. Jarod smashed the door down, and the alarms went off.
"Destroy as much as possible!" Jarod picke dup one of the large computer units, about the size of a refridgerator, and smashed it into another. Sparks and shards of metal and plastic flew out of it. Eric followed suit, and in seconds the room was in ruins. Eric looked at the devastation.
"Well, I guess we won't be invited to the Christmas Party."
"C'mon!" Jarod ran out the door and began running through the walls to get to the main lab, and Eric just flew behind his trail. Sometimes subtlety isn't required, he thought as chunks of wood and plaster flew past him.
They came out through a cinderblock wall. Three men and two women were unconscious on the floor, and Agony was unshackling a woman strapped to a modified table out of the office of an OB-GYN. But no OB-GYN ever had a buzzsaw and a drill attatched to his table. Eric looked at some of the others, and felt like he was going to vomit. There was a man, still alive, with his head cut open and pinned down like a frog in a science class. Three others were dead, and five more had been waiting for their turn. They sobbed in relief or swore with joy or panic as Jarod began breaking them out.
"Jesus. This is..this is.." Suddenly, floodlights snapped on. Eric whirled around and saw four people standing in the hole Jarod made in the wall.
"Hold it right there, terrorists." Ther man speaking was of average height, obviously oriental, with no hair. He wore a modified military jumpsuit with a Dynamaz patch where a military blazon should be. Next to him was a small man, bowlegged, with short blond hair, skin so sunburnt it was almost orange, dressed in jeans and a button front denim shirt. Behind them was another man, unremarkable, wearing the same uniform as the first. The blond woman behind them with the hatchet face was wearing it too. "Dynamax security. You're under arrest."
"Give me a break." Jarod walked up next to Eric. "You people do this and then evoke the law? We don't think so, you f*&%king filth." Agony came up on the other side of Eric, and Eric was glad these four had shown up and given him something to think about besides the poor bastards on the tables. She spoke up. "You want us, you'll have to take us."
"Fine by me, girl. Crush them!" The cowboy suddenly vanished. One second he was there, next second he wasn't. Then the speaker of the group waved his hand, and Jarod was caught by a telekinetic blow that sent him across the room. Eric's mind reeled. They were Omegas, and they allowed this to happen to their own kind! His eyes flared. The rest of the security force had spread out, but the telekinetic was in his line of sight. Before Eric could do anything, the cowboy reappeared behind him and thrust a knife into his back.
It's blade broke. Eric lashed out and smashed the bastard off of him. The impact snapped his spine, and his scream rang out thin and reedy. "Shit! Smasher, Larry's down!" Jarod was going toe to toe with the woman, who was apparently protected by some kind of forcefield. She was the one talking. "The kid's not a gimmie! You take him!" Agony had the other man rolling around on the floor as she played with his pain receptors. The man that the woman called Smasher looked at Eric.
"Say goodbye, kid." He made a fist. Eric felt the force hit him, but didn't move. Instead, he smiled. Smasher was taken aback, and it showed on his face. Eric smiled.
"Not bad. Try one of mine." Suddenly the gree light flared, and a blast of heat smashed into Smasher. His uniform burnt off him, and he fell to the ground as his teke shield collapsed. Eric walked over as his enemy struggled to get up.
"Say night-night, moron." He crushed the prone man's head with his foot. Turning, he saw Jarod drive his opponents head through the reinforced cement of the outer retaining wall. With her force field, she may have survived that.
She didn't survive the punch that drove the rest of her through. The captured Omega's looked at the bodies of their captors and then began kicking them, hitting them, pounding them with debris. Jarod looked at Eric and motioned to Agony, who walked over to him, as did Eric.
"You kill yours?"
"Definitely offed the leader there, I don't know about Pecos Bill."
"I overloaded his pain threshold. His heart stopped. And I got mine, too."
"What about that poor bastard?" Jarod gestured to the man on the vivisection table. Eric didn't want to look back over. "Can he survive that? Should he?"
"I don't know. Maybe. What do you think, Eric?"
Eric swallowed down a chunk of nausea balling up in his throat. He didn't want to make the decision, but he had to say something. He doubted that the man would survive another five minutes, no matter what they did. And if he did, surely he'd be a vegetable. "No. I think we shouldn't let him suffer any more."
"I'll handle it." Agony walked over. Eric heard the crunch of bone, and unlike his own brutal actions of a minute previous, he thought he was going to vomit when he did. Somehow, he didn't. Jarod put his hand on Eric's shoulder.
"It doesn't get easier, but you get used to it."
"Just saying it in case you needed to hear it."
"Thanks, but I'm frosty."
Agony walked back."Let's get out of here."
Tazakles sets a trap. Eric discovers his limits. The Government takes action.
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