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by Matt Dempster
Seekers 2

ThudThud ThudThud ThudThud ThudThud

Jason listened to his heart beating slowly and easily as he accelerated around the turn. He was already topping 100 mph according to his wrist speedometer and was just warming up. He took the turn smoothly and easily, and as he relaxed into the rhythm of the run, his thoughts turned to the years of training and work he'd done, to the people he'd met, and to the person he'd become. He let his mind range over his life of the past four years, and his memories took him back to when the agency had found him.... ....He had been at a track meet. The starters pistol had gone off. He took off at his top speed, the speed that had already assured him a place at the Nevada State Track Competition. He gained speed, and smiled as the other runners were left in the dust. As he accelerated around the turn, though, something strange happened. He started to speed up more and more. In fact, he couldn't slow down! He made the next turn and then began to careen all over the track. The small corrections he had made to his stride became huge yaws from side to side. The turn came up, the wall was rushing toward him, he was going to hit....

And suddenly, as quickly as it had started, the speed left him and he stumbled and rolled into the high jump pit at the end of the track. He lay there for a few minutes, shuddering and shaking. The crowds in the stands were yelling and screaming. A short black man was standing over hiim, looking at him with a faint smile. He squatted down and said, "Boy, it's a lucky thing we found you. Coulda been pancake time otherwise."

Jason gasped, "Who are you?"

The man answered, "I'm Don. Don Riley. When you think you're up to it, why don't you meet me by the concession stands? You and I have a lot to talk about."

"What's this all about? What happened to me?"

"Jason, have you ever heard of an Omega?" The man asked.

"Omega? Yeah I... Madre de Dios......"

"Meet me by the concession stand."

...that had been Jason's introduction to SIRECOM. Since then, he had learned to control his speed, and had discovered that crashing to that wall at the track, while unpleasant, would not have harmed him seriously. They had paired him with Riley, who had coached Jason on the use of his powers. Riley was a nice guy, but Jason, who was young and impatient, hated the four years of training he had had to do. He was anxious to get out into the real world, to do the job he had been trained to do. His ability to detect Omega signatures made him the perfect person for that job; the task of finding, and training other Omegas, like himself.

As he ran he felt his Omega sense begin to awaken. Normally, Jason couldn't tell the difference between Omegas, or their powers. But with long exposure to their particular signatures, he could differentiate. The pattern he felt, similar to a pattern of hot and cold you could feel, told him Riley was approaching. He skidded to a stop at the entrance to the track, and stood there with his arms leaning on the fence railing.

"How's the workout today, boy?" called Riley.

"Just fine," he replied. "70 laps at 100 mph average."

"Doing good. You done for this morning?"

"Yeah. What's up?"

"It's time. Our new CO is here, and we got our first mission."

"Mission? All right!!!! What's the plan, what are we doing,...."

"Calm down, son." said Riley. "There's a briefing in 30 minutes. Enough time for you to get cleaned up and ready. Briefing's at 1200 hours."

Riley turned and walked away. Jason's thoughts were spinning. 'A mission! Finally, some action! All right! Wonder what it is? And the new CO, who is this?' He grabbed his bag from the benches, and sped off towards the locker rooms to get changed.

Jason walked into the briefing room, and sat down in the swivel chair at the far right hand corner of the table. Next to him sat Chris Josephs, the youngest member of the group, and across the table sat Terry Yung. Terry gave him a smile as he settled down to listen to the briefing. He nodded and then focused his attention on the head of the table, where Riley and the CO were speaking in low tones.

Riley took his seat. and the CO turned to face the table. He smiled and said, "Welcome ladies and gents. For those of you who don't know, my name is Wes Hickman, ex-sergeant, U.S. Army. I'm your commanding officer. I know you have already trained with one another, and I know you are ready to get out into the field.

"My personnel file is available to you all. I suggest you acquaint yourselves with it. I am new to your group, but I do not want that to in any way affect your attitude towards me as your commander, or as your comrade. I'm one of you, an Omega. It is our job to contain and train rogue Omegas. That is our purpose, and that is what we shall do."

Hickman moved his hands over the panels set into the conference table, and a terminal port rose out of the table surface. He plugged a cord leading from his right wrist into the port, and instantly a wall section began to slide into the ceiling, revealing a large display screen. A color graphic of the SIRECOM logo appeared on the monitor.

"Three days ago, a new Omega was spotted in St. Louis," said Hickman. "Reports indicate the Omega is young, about seventeen, and powerful. Apparently photokinetic..."

Chris interrupted, "Photokinetic? What's that?"

Wes grinned and said, "Haven't been paying attention in your Metabiology, have you Chris? Don, would you be so kind..."

"A photokinetic is someone who can manipulate photons telekinetically," said Don. "This includes pyrotechnic effects, like Lightshow produces, or in more extreme cases, energy beams. There is even the possiblity of full photonic transformation."

"Transformation to a laser beam?" asked Jason. "Heavy stuff. I thought there weren't any Omegas who could pull off that sort of transform."

"There aren't. At least as far as we know. but we also know that Omegas are getting more powerful. Look at the news reports. We here mentions of Omegas almost all the time. There was that battle in Detroit just yesterday, between that Tempest character and the other Omega. Look at the power levels there. Who knows? This kid may actually have photon transformation."

Wes said, "Well if he does, he's keeping it a secret. So far, all the reports say that he projects laser beams from his hands, and emits a bright aura as he does so. Apparently, he can also emit a bright flash, bright enough to blind a normal human."

"Sounds like a barrel of laughs." drawled Chris. "So how are we gonna catch this fella?"

Wes turned to the screen. As he turned, a map of St. Louis came up on screen. "The Omega only operates during daylight hours. We assume he requires direct light to use his powers effectively, although we aren't certain. However, it has been twenty-four hours since the last position report from our agents there. They seem to have lost him. This is where you come in, Jay."

Jason leaned forward with interest. Wes continued, "We're going to split up into two teams. Michelle, you, Jay, and Chris will be the primary assault group. In full armor, you'll be impervious to the Omega's blasts. Jay, your job is to find the Omega. St. Louis isn;t that big, and at speed, you should be able to find him with your senses. Chris, you are there to back Jay up, and help locate the Omega."

"How'm I supposed to do that?" asked Chris. "I have no special senses."

"No but you have your eyes. The Omega is easy to spot when he's using his powers. If he is, you'll havea better view from the rooftops than Jason will."

Michelle asked,"How am ah supposed ta keep up with these two? Mah max speed, even in full armor is only 60. I don't know if it's such a good idea ta remainin mah armor foah thet long."

Wes looked at her and said, "I understand your concerns, but I have to ask you to put them aside. You are the only one of us who can hold off this Omega till we can get Don to the scene. That means you have to try and keep up with Jay. The three of us; Don, Terry, and myself, will be following in the van. You are to keep him occupied until Don can get to the scene and neutralize him. Use whatever means are necessary, but do not harm the boy. If you can talk him down, great. but otherwise, keep him from doing any more damage. Is that clear?"

The table chorused "Yes sir!"

"Good. The jet for St. Louis leaves in eight hours, at 2000 hours. get some rest, eats and such. Dismissed."

The members of the squad got up, and went on their way, all their thoughts occupied with the mission to come.

Jay sat in his room, examining the new headgear that had arrived today. All the team members had been assigned one. It consisted of a metallic band that was worn about the head. Atteched to the band was a radio headset and mouthpiece on the right side, and a bulging metal case on the other side. A red visor completed the set. All the squad members were supposed to wear them, so they could keep in contact with one another.

However, that wasn't the main feature of the headset. The visor projected a heads up display for the wearer, including whatever info was requested by the user. In Jay's case, it had been pre-programmed to display a speedometer in the upper right hand corner, a targeting reticle in the center, and his teammates call signs arrayed on the left. All he had to do was glance at the name and a position report was ordered. he could also set it for automatic radio contact.

The whole system was wired through Hickman. His Omega made it possible for him to coordinate all of them this way. Jay had gone through Hickman's personnel record. The computer had reported that Hickman was a telekinetic/telepathic. He had an instinctive knowledge of computer systems, on a binary level. He could access any system, read any file. His arms were lost in an accident long ago. The records weren't explicit about it, and Jay didn't feel right about probing deeper; he figured it would all come out in time. He controlled his arms through his TK, and they lent him increased strength; he could lift up to 15 tons. That wasn't in Michelle's class, but it was pretty hefty. His arms contained all sorts of gadgets, mostly stuff to allow him to connect to various computers. He also had a small cutting laser and a couple of other goodies in there. But his onboard systems allowed himto continuously update the team as to position and situation. the perfect communications link.

Jay put down the helmet and got up off the bed. He paced about nervously for a few minutes, and then left the room. He wandered down the hall, to Michelle's room. The door was closed. He knocked, and from inside he heard her call, "C'mon in."

She looked over at him as he entered, and smiled. "Hey, Jay! What's up?"

"Not much," He replied. "What're you doing?" "Checkin out the latest news stories. You heah much about the new Omega, Tempest?"

"No, not really."

"People are makin him out ta be almost a god."

"Really? He's that powerful?"

"That's what the media says. They say he's the strongest Omega ta date. Wonder who he's workin foah..."

"Working for? What makes you say that?"

"Aw c'mon Jay! You don't thing SIRECOM would letan Omega lahk thet run around with no checks t'all do you? Nah, he's somebody's pet..."

"So what about this mission?" Jay asked.

"Ah'm nervous. Actually, Ah'm scared outta mah mind. But, Ah got a job ta do. Ah spose Ah don't have much choice bout it, do Ah? Ah know he can't hurt me, but Ah'm still scared."

"Me, too. It's nice to know someone else is worried too."

"Yeah. We'll get through it. We know what ta do. We just gotta do it."

"You hungry at all?"

"Yeah. Jitters always gives me an appetite."

"Let's hit the caff. I burned a lot of fuel today...I need to fill up. 'Sides, we can take each other's minds off being nervous"

Michelle smiled, got up, and said, "Lead the way."

The next morning, the team met at the St. Louis branch of the agency. The head of the branch there, Stephen Gregory, led them into a conference room and outlined the local situation.

"We still haven't located the Omega, but we know he hasn't left town. We have agents looking for anyone meeting his description leaving by bus, train, plain, or boat. So far, we got squat. So, we've been monitoring police band radio, and have advised them to notify us if they spot him. We've told him we were bringing in a team of specialists to take care of the problem. So, what do you need from me?"

Wes said, "Well, for starters, a map of St. Louis streets and buildings. We'll also need a communications van, and a driver. We'll need you to get the police to cordon off the area when we find the boy. We don't need civilians getting in the way. Also, I don't think we really need the press. Try to make sure they are out of the way as well. Other than that, I tink we've got it covered."

"All right," replied Gregory, "I'll get right on it. Van should be ready in under fifteen minutes."

"Good." As Gregory left, Wes turned to the group. "All right. Last minute reality check. What's the plan? Chris?"

"Jay and I find the Omega. Michelle follows us, and keeps him busy."

"All right. Phase two, Terry?"

"You, Don, and I come in. Don drains the boy, and I subdue him, with as little injury as possible."

"All right. Let's do it."

Jay dodged through the streets, avoiding the people and the cars as if they were in slow motion. He looked at the map that Wes ('Interface,' he thought, 'have to remember on mission to call him Interface') was updating for him. So far, he had scanned over one quarter of the city, but with no luck. Oh, he had detected Omegas. Plenty of them. But almost all of them were latent. He could tell by the strength of the pattern. And he hadn't found anything in a triggered Omega resembling the boy he was searching for.

He glanced over at Ricochet's name, and called up a position report. The map in his display rotated to show a 3-d version of the city. The dot representing Ricochet was shown bouncing from rooftop to rooftop. The map showed him to be very close to Jay's current position, and as he looked up, he caught a glimpse of the red streak that characterized Ricochet's KE field.

Returning his eyes to the road, he swerved out of the way of a taxi that was moving at a relative snail's pace, and contined the search. He rounded the corner, to begin the search of the next quadrant of the city, when his senses suddenly reeled. Jay lost control of his footing and careened into a wall. The impact shook him and he lay dazed for a second or two. Mentally, he added smashing into a wall at 120 mph to his list of least favorite pastimes.

There was a thump next to him, and he looked up to see Ricochet standing there, looking concerned. Ricochet leaned down and helped Jay to his feet. There was a crackling in Jay's headset, and Interface's voice came on. "Trax, report. Are you all right?"

"Fine sir." He replied. "I just was knocked off balance for a minute. There is a very strong Omega nearby. I believe we may have found our boy."

"Michelle is en route to your position now. Locate and contain the Omega. Interface out."

Jay looked at Ricochet. "You ready, 'mano?"

"The fun never stops."

As Ricochet sprang for the tops of the buildings, Jay sped off again. He navigated his way to the source of the power he had felt, and there he found the Omega. He wasn't particularly hard to find. He was glowing brightly, and people were running away from him as fast as they could. He could hear the kid shouting "Leave me alone!!!" The Omega fired a few beams into the pavement to scare off the stragglers.

Trax skidded to a halt, about 50 feet from the boy. "Hey kid! Calm down, relax, we're here to..."

The boy whirled and lifted his arm. Trax dodged left, and even so, the laser beam from the kid missed himby millimeters. 'I can't outrun it. Not a laser. I can't outrun a laser,' Trax thought despairingly. 'I can't..'

Then, from the air came a red streak of light, as Ricochet landed behind the boy. He bounced high, and as the boy turned and fired at the spot where he used to be, Ricochet came down on the kid, knocking him flat to the ground. He bounced again, and executed a perfect landing next to Trax. "Not bad, huh?"

"Yeah. 'Course you know, that that just pissed him off even more."

"Yeah, but what else was I sup..."

Both dodged as a bolt shot between them. Ricochet jumped high, and exectued aerial manuevers to put the world's greatest acrobats to shame. He twisted and flipped, miraculously avoiding the lasers as they shot past. Trax ran toward the boy trying to distract him. The boy fired into the ground, creating a trench in the pavement. Trax tripped over the debris, and skidded into a building. As he was picking himself up ('I need a new set of tires' he thought) he caught a glimpse of a bronze figure behind the boy. Armor came barrelling down the street, and as she came to a hat and lifted her arm, Trax could see some sort of dart gun attached to her suit.

The boy heard her, and wheeled about. He brought his hands together and launched a powerful bolt at Armor. She stood there calmly as the bolt splashed off her. The look of dismay on the kid's face was almost comical. Bolt after bolt followed. All were deflected harmlessly. Armor took careful aim, and fired her dart at the boy. The dart entered his aura and was burned up instantly.

The boy smiled. He couldn't hurt her, but she couldn't get him, either. A stalemate. Armor moved in, perhaps with the idea of grappling the boy. Beam after beam splashed off her as she closed the distance. She reached out to grab the kid's arm, and then yanked her hand back with a yell of pain.

"What happened? I thought you couldn't be hurt.." Ricochet began...

"Heat, electricity, and stuff like that can still hurt me." said Armor in a monotone. "I thought maybe I could get through his aura, but I apparently was incorrect."

Jay asked, "Armor, are you all right? Your voice sounds odd."

"I'm fine, Trax. The others should be arriving any second."

As she spoke, the commo van carrying the other three Seekers came screeching around the corner. The Omega pumped a couple of lasers in the direction of the car. Blockade's enhanced reflexes allowed him to grab the wheel and swerve out of the path of the beams. The driver jammed on the brakes and the van shuddered to a halt. Interface, Counterpart, and Blockade all piled out of the van, and Interface assessed the situation. He turned to Blockade and said, "Do you think you can drain that?"

"Won't know till I try, will I." Blockade replied with a small smile.

He stepped towards the boy, whose attention had been drawn back to Armor. He closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them with a smile. "Connection." he whispered in a soft voice. The energy began to flow from the boy. First, his aura dimmed, and then began a glimmer of light. He raised his arm again to fire more beams, and nothing happened. He began to back up with a look of fear on his face. Blockade's face began to pale with the strain of holding so much power in. He turned some of it to reflexes, but, even so, the amount of juice he had drained was staggering.

Counterpart moved in, slipping past Blockade like a night breeze. Armor drew the boy's attention to his right, and Counterpart slipped in from the rear. She set herself, and struck the base of the boy's skull quickly with a knife hand. The boy dropped like a sack of potatoes, his aura fading to nothingness.

The team came together and stood about the prone form of the rogue Omega. "Nice work, team." said Wes. "For a first outing, that went surprising well. I..."

He turned around suddenly as he heard the blades of a helicopter. He watched it land and shouted, "What the hell are civilians doing here? I told Gregory to keep this area clear!!"

There were no marking on the side of the chopper to signify where it had come from. The side door opened and four people, dressed in jumpsuits hopped out. The one in front, a woman, yelled over the roar of the chopper, "Dynamax Security. We are here to take the Omega into custody."

"We are federal agents." shouted Interface. The chopper was beginning to look decidedly odd to him. "We have jurisdiction here. On whose authority are you taking this boy into custody?"

As they spoke, the chopper was shrinking and folding. Trax watched unbelievingly as the helicopter paled, shrunk, and collapsed into the form of a seven foot tall human. The erstwhile helicopter grinned.

"Governmental authority." said the woman. " From SIRECOM, more specifically. We are to take the boy into custody." "And if we refuse, and take him ourselves?"

"Then we have no choice but to eliminate you."

Next: Seekers #3
Connections revealed, choices are made.

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