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by Matthew Rossi
How many ways have you shown me that you hate me
And then you wonder why what have you done to me lately
Biohazard, Human Animal
Heyare you talking back to me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Offspring, Come Out and Play
The young boy trembled as two men in copper colored armor guided him into the private office of Jarvin Tazakles. Ever since he had developed his Omega ability to "Split" by creating a psionic illusion of himself with tactile reality, he had been taught one thing: Jarvin Tazakles is the enemy.
But they'd thrown Bill out of the Colony for dealing Heroin, and last night the fourteen year old had been found by the two gorillas in metal flanking him. They were mondo pissed off, too. So he'd gone quietly. The room was a cavern, with black walls made out of some sort of flecked stone, a desk carved out of a glassy black something or other...Obsidian, Bill remembered from his science lectures. The chair was turned away from him.
"Sit down, Bill." The voice was as measured and refined as it was dangerous. Bill did as he was told, his legs obeying automatically, his throat dry with panic. "You two may leave."
"Yessir." They walked out the double doors, and Bill heard a click. An electronic lock of some kind. He thought he might wet himself.
"Oh, don't do that, Bill." He can read my mind! He IS a traitor to the Omegas! "Now, Bill, that's a rather...provincial attitude, let's say." The chair turned, and a man with the face of a kindly priest or a social worker faced Bill. His grey hair framed a slightly fat face, a tinge of red in the cheeks, merry blue eyes. "I seek to do what's best for ALL, not just a fortunate minority. You understand, Bill?" Bill found himself nodding. "Good. I thought you would. Now, there's a part of your mind shielded from me, so I'll ask you a question. You'll answer it truthfully, won't you? Because we can help each other." Bill nodded again. "Good. Tell me Bill, where can I find this so-called Colony?"
Bill moved his lips to tell him...and realized he didn't know. He had been there as soon as last month...but the answer wasn't there. As he tried to remember the others, a face, a landmark, ANYTHING to give his new friend the answer, he realized it was all gone. "I...I can't remember."
"That's what I was afraid of, Bill."
"I'm not lying...really, I can't remember."
"Oh, I know that, Bill." Bill relaxed. "But just in case whoever edited your memory wasn't thourough enough...I'm afraid you have to die slowly now, Bill." Jarvin peeled every thought from Bill in a hour. The boy never stopped screaming until his heart stopped, and the smile never left Tazakles' eyes the entire time. Then he picked up the phone and dialed a secure number, which routed the call over a thousand times on several secure transmitters.
"Tazakles here. I found one of the Colonists...but his mind had been selectively wiped. Quite an expert job, too...he left no evidence, whoever he or she was. I ripped the prisoners mind apart and found no trace of a signature. Our enemy seems to be a powerful telepath."
"That is not what I wanted to hear."
"Still, they've been no more then an annoyance so far. I think I can safely say they'll be out of the way soon."
"They had better be." Tazakles replaced the phone and smiled. His life so far had been like that of a chessmaster in a building full of lobotomized opponents. He'd been a mental Kasparov, and now, at last, he had a worthy opponent.
Fisher had entered play.
Eric had given up on being able to spar with anyone. Jarod was the only one there who even had a chance, and after their first match, which had lasted for two hits (Eric hit him, he hit the floor) the teenager had decided to just hit the reinforced metal target head that Jimmy designed for him.
"Now, this is made of what?"
"Eric, yoah head is so thick', why don' you listen now? It's made o' Titanium Steel alloy with a Carborundum micromolecular coat, to make it energy resistant. It's five feet thick, so feel free to pound on it. Ya can't hurt it." Jimmy sat back and waited, confident his new invention could survive anything.
"I don't have to pull my shot?"
"JUST HIT THE DAMN THING!"
"Okay. Here goes." Eric took a step and swung a fair, if unenthusiastic punch. The impact rattled the walls and floor of the room, drawing everybody's attention, but the slab of metal seemed to hold up.
"I told ya, man."
"Wait for it..." A split suddenly appeared and inched it's way down, and the block split in half and fell into two pieces. "And THE KID WINS AGAIN!"
"I flipping can't believe it! That's the THIRD one this WEEK! And how'd you make it crack instead of shattering?"
"I don't know how to explain it, exactly...I just kind of feel how it is inside when I touch things, and I can direct the force of the impact that way...by thinking it along the way I want."
"Well, I'll have to get back on the drawing board. Happy Birthday to you, by the way. That WAS gonna be your present..."
"I know what we can do! We'll go see the sights in Chicago!" Eric began to get excited as the prospect. "I can go pick up that copy of that album by Offspring, and maybe get a new jacket..."
"Eric m'lad, Danny says we ain't supposed to be leaving the colony without his say-so."
"Ahh, what he don't know won't hurt us. C'mon, I'm SICK of being all cooped up in here, aren't you?" Jimmy thought about it. As the older of the two, Eric being just sixteen today, he WAS supposed to be the voice of responsibilty...but he was bored, too.
"Yeah, alright. How do we get out without being seen?"
"I can handle that...I'm gonna go take a shower. Be in your room in half an hour, and I'll show you."
Jimmy finished the last connection on a personal force field he had made out of an old TV-remote and his TMNT hand-held game, Sewer Revenge, and slid it into his pocket. Hey, you never know when you'll need one, he reasoned.
Sitting down at his desk, he checked his clock...noon even, one half-hour gone by, so where's the kid? Then he noticed an odd discoloration at the wall over his bed. He looked at it...it looked like ripples...what is that?
Then Eric floated through his wall like a ghost, his thin body oddly transluscent, and landed next to him. "Hey, Jimmy."
"Oh, that's something I learned how to do last night. I can take someone with me, too."
"THAT'S how you want to sneak out?" Jimmy didn't like that idea. "I'm not gonna let you do that to me! How do I know it will work? What if we get stuck?"
Eric tilted his head and his long black hair fell in his face. He was wearing a pair of sunglasses to cover his glowing eyes and one of Danny's old leather jackets, the Grand Prix styled one with the padded shoulders and elbows. "We won't. Trust me, Jim."
"Oh, I just KNOW I'm goin' to live to regret dis. Fine," He stuck out his hand and covered his eyes. "Do it, but I don' wanna watch." He felt Eric grab his hand, and then it seemed that they stood there for a minute. "Well, do it, already!"
"I already did. We're topside."
Jimmy took his hand off his face as Eric released his other. Sure enough, they were in the junkyard, surrounded by cars and other junk, smashed appliances, the cast iron Bulldog statue that Jimmy set one of his scanners in. "We'd better get moving before they see us. How we getting into town?"
"We could fly..."
"Danny'd flip out if you were that blatant. It'd be inviting attention that we don't need, my friend."
"The bus, then. Let's go." They headed out the gate. Jimmy was nearly a head taller than Eric, who was a respectable 5'10 at 16, but Jimmy was 6'4, and they looked almost like a comedy act, Eric in black leather and denim and Jimmy in a multicolored pullover poncho and striped bell-bottoms. After a few minutes walking, they got to the bus stop just in time to catch one headed downtown.
"Next time, we take the train in."
"Eric, what makes you t'ink there's gonna BE a next time?"
"I hate it when you say that."
Eric grinned like a shark.
Danny Anderson sweated when he slept, because his dreams were not the kind that most people have. When he slept, his powerful telepathy ranged free, projecting him all over the globe. One thing remained constant, however. It always sought out another sleeper, one having a horrible nightmare...and put Danny in it.
Like now. The thing that chased the little blond girl looked to Danny like a distorted version of a man carrying a belt. As usual, he hesitated before doing anything. He'd made things worse before. But when the man-shape forced the girl onto her stomach and began to remove it's pants...
"SON OF A BITCH!" In the mind, Telepathy can do a lot of seemingly unrelated things. Danny visualized a sledgehammer and charged the bloated, fishbelly white husk, which moved like a sloth as he sped himself up. The hammer caved in in the head and drove it back into the funhouse-mirror shaped alley wall, and Danny put himself between the girl and the shape. "I don't know if she's the dreamer or you are, but either way, kiss your knee goodbye." Slamming the hammer forward, he crushed the kneecap and splintered the leg back. Doing that snapped the dream, and as Danny woke up, he sensed a flash of gratitude and renewed hope from the girl.
"Guess it was her dream, then."
"Danny?" Miranda sat up in bed, rubbing his back. "You went walking again?" Walking was the name they gave his occasional trips through the minds of others.
"Yeah. What time is it?"
"Half past noon."
"Night duty sucks, doesn't it?"
"Well, at least we get to sleep in." Miranda got out of bed and pulled a sweatshirt on over her head. "I'm going to take a shower, and check on the injureds that Jarod brought in Monday."
"Alright." Danny got up. "I have to talk to Eric anyway." Getting out of bed slowly, Danny walked to the sink in the room he shared with Miranda. He dreaded the chat with Eric...since the mission with Jarod and Agony, Eric had become moody and withdrawn. Plus, his birthday always made him tense, reminded him of his years in the foster care system. Pulling on his clothes, Danny steeled himself. Eric had to begin to re-enter Colony structure, his power was needed. He'd have to get over his funk.
"Get Eric on Com for me." It rankled Danny that Eric's mind shield had, if anything, gotten MORE solid. He couldn't send or recieve through the damn thing. It was, in fact, the ONLY mind shield that had even defied him, and Eric was quick to point that out. Little brothers!
"What is it, Warren?"
"I'm not sure you want me to tell you this..." Danny had no patience for Warren's diplomatic nature. He read the thought out of his mind.
"HE LEFT THE COMPOUND!"
"Danny, my head! Don't yell!"
"Sorry." Danny broke the connection as Miranda walked over, her link with him having already told her what was wrong. "Can you believe he'd do this?"
"You know he's young, Danny. But there are some things about him you don't seem to understand."
"Let's go to my lab, and I'll show you. Don't read me on it."
"Alright." They walked out the door.
In a small office building in Central Chicago, Texstar Travel did a small and exclusive business booking trips for the very rich. This made them a lot of money...but couldn't, of course, pay for the ten story sized underground bunker. Never mind the Armored Personell Carriers, the Armory, or the hundred government agents. No, the tab for all that was picked up by the American Taxpayer. At that moment, Special Agent Dan Carter was yelling, through a secure phone line, at the bases commander, Billy "Vulpine" Moulder.
"So, you haven't found LEAD ONE on these Colony terrorists? NOT LEAD ONE! Do you have any idea what a FAILURE you are? How pathetic and useless you have made yourself? WHAT DO YOU THINK I SHOULD DO WITH YOU!?"
"I can find them, sir...I can do it. I just need a little more time, that's all, time." Billy was sweating profusely...It was bad enough, in a gung ho agency like SIRECOM, to get called out on the carpet...but Dan Carter had a certain mystique. Actually, he was, in Billy's opinion, a dangerous psychotic. Which is another good reason not to piss the man off.
"You know what? I'm going to let you have it. Just so, when I come out to Chicago next week, I can PERSONALLY reprimand you! How do you like that idea?" Moulder thought he'd wet his pants. "Carter out." The line went dead, and Moulder staggered over to his wet bar...I have one week, and then I think getting fired will be the most pleasant possible option left to me. He poured himself a double scotch, downed it, and poured another.
"Sir?" A voice came over the intercom.
"Yes...YES?" He tried to stop his voice from quavering, and failed.
"The front music store in the Heritage Mall has registered two Omega contacts."
"Good." That had been Billy's idea, setting up a dozen front businesses that catered to youth culture tastes. Since many of the genetic Triggers that made one an Omega triggered in adolescence, and those Omegas would be more likely to run away or attempt to live on their own, it made sense to screen for them. Plus, the so- called Colony was apparently, from their three observed strikes on Dynamax labs, composed of young adults, mostly.
"Should we move?"
"Wait till they leave the store...follow them and when they get in an open area, capture them alive."
"I SAID ALIVE! I want them ALIVE! Bring Carlinton with you...he can handle most of their kind. I need to know everything I can from them." His voice began to crack again at the thought of Carter coming out to Chicago.
"Eric, my boy, do you always have to buy these 'Kill me momma wit' a spoon' albums?" Jimmy shook his head as he looked in the bag Eric had carried out of the tape shack. "I mean, these names...Biohazard, Kyuss...where do they come up with them?"
"Oh, yeah Jim. I'd much rather listen to 'I'm gonna rock down to Electric Avenue' all day." Eric smiled. "Half the fun of music is buying something that everybody else will hate."
"You've succeeded, then." The two of them left the mall and began walking downtown, to the railway station. Eric wanted to fly back, but Jimmy insisted they keep a low profile. People's faces seemed to pour past the two of them, and Eric wondered what they would think if he did something...impressive. Maybe just the Green Fire. Eric liked the Pyrokinesis he had developed the most out of all his power, and was always looking to use it. The green color of it was the part he liked the most, the strangeness of the flames and their intense heat. Eric just got off on being powerful.
Jimmy, meanwhile, was fidgeting. He didn't have the typical 16 year-olds belief in Immortality that Eric's powers fed right into. He had been horribly wounded before he had retired from combat roles, and had no intention of getting into a firefight. Not in this life.
Imagine his consternation, then, when he and Eric turned to cut down an alley and were facing three men in black suits and mirrorshades who practically gave off the smell of bacon. Eric stopped walking and looked thoughtful, then popped a tape into his walkman and pressed play. Jimmy looked behind them...three more.
"No sweat, Jimmy. Let's see what they want."
The man directly in front of them stepped forward and presented a badge. "Federal Agent Carlinton. You are hereby under arrest. Come with us." Jimmy noticed there was no PLEASE at the end of that, the usual John Bull way. These guys didn't NEED to be polite.
"What's the charge?" Eric took his walkman off and put it in his jacket pocket.
Jurgen Hunyadi was very old. That much, everybody in the Polish community of Chicago was certain. He walked with his whole body stooped over, a vague dreamy look on his face. He said very little to the people he lived near, and his apartment was a spartan and tiny place. He had no family. They were all killed in the war. The war known today as WWII. They were killed by a madman, a man who could draw the life from another with his bare hands, read a persons fears and use them as a weapon. They were killed by Hitler's favorite, the creature known as Deathbringer.
They were killed by Jurgen. Jurgen did not remember that...his skull had been crushed by the American assasin Harvey Hauptmann, in whose mind Jurgen saw the image of the foolish comic character "Overman", a twisted caracature of all that Nietzsche had taught the Fuhrer, when the killer dared to come into the very sanctum of Nazi power. Despite his gifts, his power to drain the life from a man, Jurgen had not been able to stop the butcher from killing his Fuhrer...not that he remembered that, either. His powerful and evil mind was trapped inside a body that barely functioned, and saddled with a memory that bled out onto the cement floor and mixed with the blood of his leader.
If Jurgen remembered, he would have assasinated all of the people who had taken care of him over the years...his powers were still there, even if he knew nothing of them. But he did not.
The old man hobbled down the street to his apartment, cradling a bag of groceries as if they were his only possesions. He turned to go down the alleyway to his home, and bumped into a man wearing black.
"The charge is being a smartass. Don't mess with me, you little b@$tard." The man took off his sunglasses. "Davis, get rid of that old man."
"C'mon." Davis gripped the tiny arm and began to steer Jurgen away. Eric looked at that massive hand and his face hardened.
"Leave the guy alone."
"Don't tell me what to do, kid. Johnson, cuff 'em." Johnson moved forward with a pair of oversized handcuffs...and unnoticed by the others, Jimmy reached into them with his mind and de- activated them. But it was only a diversion, as suddenly he felt his own mind under attack. He felt the sneering presence of the man named Carlinton as his body stiffened.
"Let him go."
"All right." Eric reached out with his mind...and grabbed all the agents, grappling them, and slammed them into the various walls and ground. Jurgen felt an odd sensation in the back of his brain as the boy lifted off of the ground and hovered before Carlinton. "Last chance, man."
"Screw, kid." Carlinton reached out with his telepathy, intending to humiliate Eric before subduing him. His mind slid over a massive wall, black, rising up in front of him. He tried again, and nothing. Harder, he pushed against the surface of the shield, but couldn't get through it. Jimmy gasped as his thoughts were cleared.
"Not even close, dude."
"We'll try something else, then." Carlinton used his teke to grab Jurgen, who felt the buzzing in his head increase...so familiar. Where? "How about you two agree to come along nice and quiet, and I don't waste the old man?"
"Moan. Dat's dirty, even foah a cop."
"Well, kid? I may not be able to get in there, but there's no way you can stop me before I off grandpa here." Eric had no doubt that the man would do it, too...what options were left?
Jurgen felt the sensation blossom in his skull. The VERDAMNT American. The crushed body of his master. The destruction of his beloved Germany. Humiliation. Pain. Loss. Rage. He knew who he was. He knew what he could do. Reaching back along the connection, he grabbed hold of his oppressor's mind.
Carlinton was smirking when the images hit him. Flames, demons with pitchforks, the hell of his southern upbringing tore into him. His family mocking him, his country abandoning him, hate, burning at a stake while his mother copulated with the demons below him and smiled as he writhed and withered and died. "RRRAHIGH!" He collapsed, his hands cradling his head. Eric looked at Jimmy.
"Did you do that?"
"I tought you did."
"<<Actually>>" came a voice like sandpaper on bone. "<<I did.>>" They turned to see the old man, floating in the air, younger-looking now. Long brown hair span around his head in bizarre patterns. He was wearing a black uniform.
"When did my birthday become an episode of The Outer Limits?"
Eric vs. Deathbringer. Danny learns some interesting facts.
And something hostile is coming...and the advance man lands in Australia.
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