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by Matt Dempster
Gestalt II


"Oh my god..."

Wes eyes cleared suddenly. His face twisted with emotion, he turned to Don, who stood by.

Don looked at his friend and commander. "Wes? What's wrong? What's happened?"

"Teresa..." said Wes softly.

Don stared. "Oh no..."

Wes put a hand to his face, and took a deep shuddering breath. His eyes turned inwards once more as he linked with the visor computers worn by his Seekers. Keying the radio, he said, "Ricochet, are you there?"

[Ricochet here, sir. Oh god, that thing...it ate her! Oh Jesus..]

"Chris! Get hold of yourself. You are the only member of the team that's still functional. Keep the rogue in sight. Do not, I repeat, do NOT engage! I'm sending reinforcements. Clear?"

[Oh god, sir..]

"Clear?"

[Yes...yes sir.]

"Good. Keep it together, Chris. Help is on the way. Interface out."

Wes spoke to Don without turning to look at him. "Don, assemble a team. I want Flux, Arctic, and you in battle gear in 10 minutes. I'll join you in the motor pool. Get a van and be ready to go."

Don nodded. "On my way." He spun and ran out the door.

Wes keyed his computer. Computer: Location/Status operative Avatar.

Location: recroom C. Status: Off duty.

He turned to the intercom. "Hickman to Morgan."

Morgan's voice came back. :What's up, boss?:

"We got a major disturbance at the Post Office Pavilion. I want you on standby in case we need some telepathic assistance."

:Roger. Out.:

Wes stood and keyed open his closet. The panel slid aside, revealing his twin .50 caliber machine guns and his new tear gas launcher. He took out one gun and the launcher, and slid the panel closed. The handles on the guns clicked home in the sockets on his arms, and the barrel of the minigun spun about for a second or two. His eyes glazed for a second as he set up a continuous info feed from his onboard computer, and uplinked to the SIRECOM satellite net and the mobilized Seekers visor units. Keying his computer, he made a mental note. Mission log: Status Upgrade: alert level Gamma: Combat Omega disturbance at P.O. Pavilion; one casualty logged.

Wes strode out the door, and headed for the motor pool.


Chris Josephs lay in agony amidst a scene of chaos.

The creature who had decimated his squad continued to howl defiance up at the sky. Strewn about was the remnants of it's rampage, chunks of rubble tossed here and there, craters and scorch marks charting the battle fought moments before. Across the floor, up against the far wall, Bill Walker lay unconscious. The vital signs monitor in Chris headset display showed him to still be alive, but he was motionless and that was not a good sign. Phase was also alive, but he was out cold, draped across a guardrail near the fountains.

The creature screamed again. Chris could hear Teresa's voice mixed into it's bubbling wail.

His radio crackled to life again. :Ricochet, this is Interface. Do you copy?:

"Yes sir." he answered. He fought back a bout of nausea as the room tilted. When it had returned to normal, he said, "Sonic and Phase are alive, sir. Both are unconscious. One of my legs is broken, I think. The other looks like it's been burned somehow."

:Are you mobile?:

"My field is drained, sir. I don't think I can walk."

:Hold tight, son. We're seven minutes out from your position. Try and stay clear of the creature. Understood?:

"Yes, sir."

:We'll be there as soon as we can. Hickman out.:

Chris looked up, and watched the creature. It roared again, and then tilted it's head back, almost as if it were checking for scents. It turned towards Phase for a moment, and then oriented on Sonic. It began to shamble forward.

Oh shit. thought Chris and frantically keyed his radio. "Ricochet to Sonic! Bill! Respond!" Bill remained motionless. The creature advanced. Fuck, oh fuck what do I do? Chris raised his arms and slammed them back into the floor. He gritted his teeth with the pain of it, but he felt a bit of charge return to his kinetic field. Again, he pounded the floor. Too slow, he thought. Summoning what little energy he had, he lifted his body off of the floor, and levered his legs upwards until they were directly overhead. Then he let himself topple over backward. The pain was intense, but he got a charge, enough for a minor bounce. He let himself bounce once or twice more. By now, the creature had turned away from Sonic to deal with this new threat. A couple of bounces, and Chris began to speed up. Each shock of contact caused his eyes to water with pain, but he was doing it. He was keeping the creature away from Sonic.

He caromed off of a nearby piller and shot towards Sonic. Executing a bounce over the creature, he arrowed for the wall right above his teammate. ToChris, the world seemed to slow, as his reflexes accelerated into hyperdrive. He reached out and grabbed Bill as he impacted the wall, and as he rebounded, he dragged his teammate with him, unconsciously extending his field to cover his limp form. The two took a couple of more bounces, avoiding the bolts of fire the creature released in it's frustration, and landed safely atop the upper concourse.

Bill's eyes fluttered weakly and he tried to sit up as Chris sank to the floor, his eyes closed. He put his hand to his head, and groaned. "Chris? What happened?"

Chris said nothing. He lay unconscious on the floor.


The van screeched to a halt before the police lines, and the Seekers piled out of it. Wes ran to the nearest officer. "Who's in command here, son?"

The policeman stared at Wes for a moment, and then pointed over towards a man in a flak jacket holding a bullhorn. Wes strode over to him and said, "Hickman, Seekers squad, SIRECOM. We're here to deal with this disturbance. Have all the civilians been cleared from the area?"

"Yes. Your other unit hasn't come back out yet. We don't know what's happening inside."

Wes nodded grimly. "I do." Turning back to his squad, he shouted, "All right, kids! Let's go!" and led his team into the mall. Inside the entrance, Wes turned to Andrea. "Flux, convert and wait in the mall's power systems. We might need you for a sneak attack." Andrea nodded, and then melted to her energy form, disappearing into the wall. Wes activated his radio. "Avatar, come in."

:Avatar here, sir.:

"Stand by in case we need a mental helping hand."

:Yes, sir.:

"The rest of you, follow me."

The squad moved deeper into the partially destroyed mall, alert for the rogue Omega. They could hear it's bellowing deep in the building. Wes murmured, "Interface to Ricochet, come in."

:Interface, this is Sonic. Ricochet is down.:

"Bill, are you all right?"

:I'm pretty beat up, but I'll survive. Chris is in a bad way though. He needs medical attention, accelerated healing or no.:

"We're inside the Pavilion now. Can you see the creature?"

:Yes sir. It's carryin on and yellin like there's no tomorrow. It's just wandrin around aimlessly though, staggering a bit.:

"Can you see Phase?"

:Yes. He's unconscious and draped over a railing, but he looks mostly ok from here. His vitals are strong and steady. The creature seems to be ignoring him, don't ask me why.:

"Ok sit tight. We'll be there in a second or two. Interface out." With a wave, he signaled the rest of the squad to move up and spread out. "All right, folks," he said over the team net, "Remember the plan. First priority is to get Phase clear. That's my job. Make sure you cover me. Next, we subdue the rogue. Don, try to link up and drain him. Failing that, Pat, keep him busy, try and freeze-dry his ass. Ok. I've put a call out to the other Seekers, but it'll take time to recall them. We have to hold and subdue this guy before he causes any more damage. Clear?"

A chorus of assents came back. "All right then. No heroes now, I want this by the book. Stay frosty."

The team spread out and moved down the mall.


Sonic stood up shakily and watched as the creature stumbled back and forth, as if unsure of where it was or what it was doing. He winced as bruised ribs flexed and moved. He hadn't taken that kind of beating for quite a while, and was ready to give some back. Just as soon as the room stopped spinning.

Below, he could see the forms of his fellow Seekers begin to fan out and surround the creature, who still hadn't noticed the newcomers. Wes edged towards the comatose Phase, while the others moved to surround the monster. By a silent signal, all the Seekers began to move at once. Don moved forward and to the left, and began draining the creature's power. A strange look came over his face, and he staggered back as if he had been punched in the face. Over the team net, Bill heard, :Blockade to Interface. I can't seem to make a connection. The thing has a melange of Omega signatures. I can't isolate one for drainage.:

:Roger, Blockade. All right, Pat. Do your stuff.:

Arctic moved out of cover and began encasing the creature in solid ice Enraged, the monster bellowed and struck out with blasts of fire. The ice around it's legs began to steam and melt. Arctic began to throw even more power at it and the creature countered, neither giving an inch. Interface's voice came over the net. :Sonic, do you copy?:

"Go ahead."

:Are you up to helping out?:

"I'm a little shaky sir, but I'll try."

:What are the chances of a tremor under that monster?:

There was no humor in Bill's grin. "I think that can be arranged." Still grinning, Bill vaulted over the rail of the upper concourse and dropped to the floor below, absorbing the impact into his KE field. The creature turned and gave a scream of rage. Bill nodded. "Whatever you say, big guy." and pounded the floor. A blue wave of force shot out, and knocked the monster from it's feet. Pat moved in and poured on the juice.

Wes watched the battle as he moved Phase back towards the safety of the entrance. He saw the creature shrug off the pounds of ice that Arctic had deposited around it, and send both Seekers running for cover with a wild spray of fireballs. The grenade launcher on Wes arms clicked and hummed as if in anticipation as he called out over the radio net. "Interface to Seekers. Fall back to cover and deploy gas masks. Launching CS gas grenades."

As soon as his team scattered, Wes layed down a spread of three gas grenades, right in front of the monster. Billowing white clouds hid it's misshapen form from view, as bolts of flame blazed forth in random directions. Then suddenly, all grew quiet, save the hissing of the fountains and the grenades. Wes squinted, and then shifted to thermal sights. "Interface to Blockade, can you see what the target is doing?"

:Negative. I...:

Without warning, a small glowing ball came flying out of the roiling clouds of tear gas. It struck a nearby wall, and vanished in a soundless explosion of light, taking a good sized piece of wall with it. Pat's voice came over the net. :What the hell was that?!:

Wes stared. That was Terry's power. Antimatter projection. How the fuck could this thing be using Terry's powers? More spheres came out of the rapidly dispersing vapor, creating perfect craters wherever they impacted. Wes rolled left, and triggered a burst from his .50 cal. The bullets found a home on the creature, who roared as if stung by a bee. It cast a bolt of fire at Wes, who ducked behind a nearby wall. His radio spoke again. :Trax to Interface, come in.:

"Trax! Where are you?"

:About 5 miles outside of your position. I should be there in just under a minute.:

"Good. I want you to evacuate Chris and Phase as soon as you get here, and then wait for further instructions. This things has been kicking the snot out of us, and I don't want anymore casualties. Understood?"

:Yes sir. ETA 45 seconds.:

"Computer, process data on attacker to date."

Processing. Attacker is pyrokinetic, telekinetic, energy manipulator. Enhanced strength and endurance. Apparent ability to absorb living tissue and add it to mass. Apparent ability to absorb Omega abilities for personal use.

Great, thought Wes. We can't touch it because it could absorb our powers, and we lost our main heavy artillery with Terry. Fuck! A black and red blur streaked onto the battlefield. Before Wes could do much more than register it's presence, it had scooped up the limp forms of phae and Ricochet, and vanished the way it had come. As Wes looked around, Jay Ortiz skidded to a halt in front of him. "Chris and Phase are out of harm's way, sir. Sonic seems to be holding his own, but Arctic is taking a real beating."

Wes nodded. "Let's move out. I want you to hit it on the flank. Don't let it touch you! It's shown no enhanced reflexes so far, but be very careful. I'll work my way around and support Arctic. Armor is on her way back from New York with some new troops, but she's still thirty-plus minutes out. We have to hold it."

"What about SIRECOM troops?"

Wes shook his head. "Too risky. I don't want any hotheads setting off a HE round in here and bringing everything down around our ears. Besides, if this thing tore through us, what chance do you think a bunch of norms has?" Wes hit the radio. "Blockade, status."

:I'm fine. Sonic is keeping the monster busy but not doing any real damage. I still can't lock on to a signature for power drain.:

"How are your reserves?"

:I have enough for about 2 minutes of shielding. Not much more.:

"Ok. I want you to hang back in a support role. Move any wounded out of the area, and back us up if we look to be in deep."

:Roger.:


Bill circled the creature, taking care to stay out of Arctic's freezing blasts. One of his batons had been lost, but somehow he had held onto the other, and it was shaking with controlled power. The creature hadn't used TK on him until he got in close, so he planned to do his work from a distance. With a tight smile, he raised both hands and pointed them at the shambling thing. Blue waves of force arrowed into the rogue, which screamed and twisted to face this new assault.

"Don't like that, big boy? Whatsamatter, hi-freq white noise hurts your ears?" Bill leaped aside as coruscating bolts of fire streamed towards him. He powered up another blast, ducked again as one of Terry's antimatter pellets whizzed by.

:Trax to Sonic.:

"Sonic here."

:Hold your fire. I'm going in for a close range attack.:

"Negative, negative, Trax! Do NOT attempt to close!"

:Trust me, Bill. I know what I'm doing.:

"Jay..."

Bill watched as the blurred form of Trax arrowed directly towards the creature. The monster spread it's arms wide, as if to welcome this new foe. Trax skidded to a halt, and then backpedaled rapidly, leaving the rogue's arms to close on nothing but thin air. Trax swept around to the side, turning the monster this way and that, confusing it. The black streak flowed like a ghost around the slow-moving monster. As the creature turned again, Trax grabbed up a long metal bar, and ran at nearly top speed towards the creature's back. The bar slammed into the monster as Trax let go and streaked on past. A wave of cold from Arctic knocked the monster back even further.

The creature fell to it's knees, and screamed in rage. Firebolts flew everywhere, causing the Seekers to take cover. Bill waded in, fists swinging. A swift uppercut slammed into one of the monster's jaws, and a blinding kick drove it to the ground. The creature roared and swung an arm out. Bill threw up a cross block, and was batted aside like an insect. The creature fixed it's red-eyed glare on Hickman and the cluster of Seekers near the exit. A glowing ball burst from the monster and exploded at their feet, knocking them down like ninepins.

Bill watched as his teammates vital signs went flatline. He hollered frantically into his communcator. "Sonic to Interface! Wes! Come in! Oh shit, WES!!"


The pellet arrowed in.

Explosion.

White light.

A rushing noise.

Blackness.

The world returned in a blast of sound and pain. Wes groaned and sat up. He looked blearily around, and took in the limp forms of his teammates. The crater from the antimatter blast ended about six inches from his leg. A little bit more to the right, and...

"Hickman? Hickman!"

Who the hell was that?

A feeling like and electric shock ran through Wes's head. He started, and looked into the face of Anne Benson. Harvey Hauptmann stood behind her, watching as Sonic and Trax battled the creature. He turned his attention back to Anne.

"Hickman, it's Anne Benson and Harvey Hauptmann. What's going on?"

Confused, he stared at the two newcomers. "What are you two doing here?"

"Helping out. D.C. is our town, too. What is this thing?"

"I wish to God I knew." Anne shot off the the other side of the room in time to prevent Sonic from smashing into the far wall. "It shrugs off all our attacks and it eats people... it ate Teresa! And now it has her powers!"

"Is that Counterpart?" Harvey asked. "What... uh... what could she do, again?" he added sheepishly.

"Create small amounts of antimatter," Wes said hollowly.

The creature pointed its fused, misshapen arm at the group of Omegas. One of the many hands on the end seemed to have a Seekers glove, not yet dissolved. There was a small popping sound —

Harvey grabbed as many of the Seekers as he could and leapt away; Trax swept in and grabbed the rest. Antimatter met matter, and a shockwave pushed Harvey and Trax of further away as another perfect, debrisless antimatter explosion eliminated part of the Pavilion.

Hickman's mind raced as he sorted through options. Physical attacks weren't doing a damned thing, except allowing his people to get slammed. "Damn! None of us can stand up to that, no matter how tough we are. Time to send in the people it can't hurt." Wes keyed his communicator. "Interface to Flux. Hit him now—and for God's sake, don't rematerialize."

:Bout time.:

A stream of light shot out of a nearby lamppost. It briefly looked like a glowing, streaming woman; then Flux turned into electricity, and wrapped herself around the creature. The creature howled, but was only slowed by the attack. Flux switched from electricity to light, heat, and more, but she couldn't stop it. Then the creature used Counterpart's powers to create several antimatter explosions. None of them touched Flux in her energy form, but Hickman noticed she was gradually dissipating with each new blast.

"Flux, get out of there!" Hickman screamed. The energy form slowly pulled away from the monster. "Let's try a mental attack," Hickman said into the communicator. "Avatar."

Thomas Morgan suddenly appeared in front of the creature. Hauptmann nearly ran to his rescue, but Hickman grabbed his arm. In that instant, the creature swept its gargantuan fist into Morgan's head—and right through it, without doing any damage. "Morgan's physical body is back at HQ," Hickman whispered. "I hope to hell this works, because I'm fresh out of ideas."

"Buddy, it's okay, you can stop fighting us," Morgan's astral form explained calmly. "I can see you're in pain. We only want to help you." It was no good; the creature kept trying and failing to hurt him. "Teresa... my God, you're still in there, aren't you? That noble tint of gold inside... Teresa, you can help calm them down... all of you, calm down." It was no good. The creature started making more explosions. They didn't touch Morgan's astral projection, but they did cause massive amounts of damage to the Pavilion. Before long, it would hit a crucial girder or retaining wall and bring the whole thing down.

"Annie!" Harvey shouted. "Annie, can you do anything?"

Wes watched as Anne closed her eyes and nodded to Harvey. The creature shrieked and flailed, launching bolt after bolt of fire. Arctic used his ice powers to shield the Seekers and their new allies from the blasts, but the strain was beginning to show on his young face.

Long moments passed. The creature screamed in what seemed like a thousand voices, all at once, all in horrible pain. Twin bubbles began to form in it's hands, and bulged outward. Antimatter pellets..big ones, thought Wes. Shit... He stood and hollered to the other Omegas. "Take COVER!!!"

The bulge grew, and grew...and then deflated, as the creature collapsed to it's knees and wept like a lost child.

The Omegas came out from behind cover. Harvey went to his grandaughter, who shook her head at him. "I'm fine," she muttered. They walked towards the curled form of the creature, and stared at it.

"Nice work," said Wes. He turned to Anne. "What did this thing want, anyway?"

Anne shook her head slowly, sadly. "Help." She stared at the many eyes of the bewildered creature. "Just help."


NEXT:
Seekers #12!

NOTES: Well, it's back. Seekers took one hell of a long vacation, but it is indeed back, and it's ready for action. I just wanna say thanks to all the other writers in Omega, who hounded me until I got off my lazy butt and finished this issue. Stay tuned sports fans...Gestalt ain't done yet, and there's a hell of a lot more a-comin!

Anne Benson and Harvey Hauptmann and created by and c. Marc Singer, and Legacy House Productions. All other characters are c. Matt Dempster, Eternal Wanderer Productions, Ltd.

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