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Bamboo sticks and African masks lined the walls and several ferns were hanging from weaving on the ceiling. Most of the furniture was lightly colored to blend in and be unnoticeable, despite the ugle brown shag rug. In one corner, a TV, small CD player and desktop computer had their own little technological hiding place. In another was a book shelf that covered subjects from Freudian Theories to Australian Aboriginal belief systems. And of course, a picture of Brad Pitt hung on the bedroom door.
Allen looked about, somewhat enviously, and noted aloud, "Pretty nice place for a poor college student."
"It was your idea to get the 'Tarot' stuff trademarked for marketing." Rene was busy setting cusions for Allen's wounded foot. "Sold my soul for rent and tuition..."
"Hey, you're better off than me. The only offer I've had lately came from Hot Scoop! And they wanted me to sell out the Eye of Justice." Allen walked over the love seat and plopped down, setting his bandaged foot up on the makeshift stool Rene had fashioned. He began twirling his cane about nervously. "Anyways, how's school going?"
"Good. Two weeks into classes and no evil supervillian has tried to stop me from getting a degree." Rene sat down on the couch opposite of her uncle. "But that's all going end now, isn't it?"
Allen didn't bother to confirm. "The Mass Mind has chosen a new avatar, and the Black Circle's out to find her. According to one of Harold's sources, so is a faction of the Vitalongae. We've got to find her first."
"She should be able to handle herself."
"'Herself?'" Allen looked at Rene quizzicly.
Rene squirmed uncomfortably. "Well, yeah. The Mass Mind seems to have this weird thing for young women, preferably ones who are easily maniplated. Her power is probably symbolic in its nature, also, with no clue as to how they work. That's about the best profile I can come up with."
"And you think this weak willed girl who probably doesn't even know what her powers are can handle herself?"
Rene just tapped impatiently on the arm of the couch. "Sure. And if not, that's one less avatar the Mass Mind will have to toy with."
"Rene!" She was alread hanging her head in shame at her words. "You'd just feed her to the jackals of the Black Circle becasue of your own dislike for the Mass mind? I don't belive what I'm hearing."
"And I don't believe I just said that. Guess we both have sides we hide from ourselves and others." She bent into a contemplative position over the arm. "Ok, who else is coming along?"
"Harold's wife won't let him near me when things get dangerous," Allen answered, still a little shook. "Threll won't be much help in work like this."
"He'll make three. Its not like he's got anything else to do."
Rene stood and walked over to Allen to help him up. "Fine then. Where can we get a hold of Issac?"
"Got the phone number to his apartment right here. Could I borrow your phone?"
Isaac could hear the phone ringing as he closed the door, but he really didn't want to let anything stop him. It was probably just some PWI wonk trying to get a hold of him for another interview. As far as he was concerned, the whole pro wrestling community could go jump off a cliff.
He walked down the stairs from his apartment, a far cry from his old home in Pheonix, but had been intending to be on the road most of the time. When he reached the street below, Cathy was there waiting for him in a green Corsica. The trunk popped open and he threw his suitcase in along with a travel bag. He got in the passenger's side and kissed Cathy on the cheek. "How ya doing?"
"Great. You got everything?"
"Yep." Isaac looked straight ahead and smiled. He had been in heaven for the past week, enough so that the little voice in the back of his head screaming that he was moving too fast was totally drowned out. Of course, he thought, how many guys actually listen to that little voice?
"You sure that no one's going to need you for a week?"
Visions of the dead rising from the grave and serpents falling from the sky flashed through Isaac's head for a moment. "No. Who could possibly need me? Let's go."
"God, I wish Isaac were here," Threll muttered under his breath.
Jimmy had been thrown into jail. Threll, being the only remaining celebrety working at Overtech, was left holding the bag. A new intern had arrived and he was supposed to "entertain him" until Jimmy got back. Apparently that meant deify himself with old war stories as the kid just kept asking questions, especially about the SEEKERS. Isaac was always good at that, especially when it came to scaring people into shutting up.
The intern's name was Josh Laurence and he was part of the Anne Benson Omega scholarship program. Apparently the kid had some lame power over the color of flowers, but was an overachiever in every other respect. He also claimed to be an "Honorary SEEKER," whatever the hell that was.
"What about that whole Fix thing? I thought I saw you on TV for that, too. Weren't you protecting Allen Covenant from some other cyborg?"
Threll winced at the memory of his defeat at Nicola Dare's hands. He didn't exactly do well against the Harrakin, either. "Yeah, I was there. I'm afraid that cyborg technology is a little too much like the computer industry. You come off the shelves as top of the line but in six months you're outdated."
Josh looked a little disappointed. "Is that why you don't carry weapons anymore?"
"Yep, but I don't mind." Threll pointed to the jacks on the end of his arm where a laser cannon used to be. "This is the Information Age. Cyborgs will never be short of work in the computer industry, and you can't beat the retirement plan."
Threll smiled. "Not in the immediate future, but yeah, I'm looking forward to retiring. I may be more machine than man now, but Jimmy said that he and Miranda Anderson may very well be able to get me back to being human in a year or so. It may cost my Omega, but that'll be fine."
Josh considered Threll's words and looked him over. His entire body was a metal casing, with the exception of his face, and even that had a plate just over the forhead. He had seen a web page once devoted to Threll that had quite a few statistics. Only 35% of Threll's body was still organic, and most of that were useless organs that he had refused to get rid of. Things had begun breaking down in the human body and the only truly operating part left was his brain and nervous system. If Jimmy and Miranda Anderson could fix that, he'd begin calling them gods.
By the look on Threll's face, it was obvious he knew the truth deep down, but the little lie he had been fed seemed to give him hope. Josh decided to play along for his sake. "Lose your Omega? Are you kidding? All I can do is change the color of plants and I wouldn't give it up for anything. You're a hero to the world and you're happy to just slip away into obscurity?"
"Yeah. No more hero stuff for me. You'll understand when you're older."
"When I'm older? Threll, you're only a few years older than me! And how can you simply say, 'No more hero stuff?' You said yourself that danger always finds you, not the other way around. You ARE a hero, Threll, because you can rise to the occasion when the need arises. Just like I did three years ago when the SEEKERS came to my school. Even if you become a normal human again, even if you lose your Omega, you'll forever be rising to the occasion."
"And what makes you the expert on being a hero?"
"I'm new to it all," Josh said with confidence that Threll had only before heard from Harvey Hauptmann. "I still know what the ideals are."
Threll didn't know what to say to that.
Allen slammed the receiver down. It was all too much like trying to track Bob down so many years ago. "Dammit, he's turned off his pager too. What the hell is Isaac doing?"
"Maybe he's on a date. People Magazine did rate him as one of the top one hundered elegible bachelors last year." Rene was sitting at the kitchen table with her cards sitting in front of her. "And Uncle, please, take it easy on the phone."
"Sorry." Allen walked over to the table and sat down across from his neice. "Let's get on with the reading, then. You ready?"
"Sure thing. Are you asking the question?"
Allen shook his head. "No, you're closer to the subject. More likely for you to get a vision."
Rene nodded and cut the deck. This was a reading to identify someone so a simple nine card layout would do, at least for granting her a vision. She set out the cards in three rows of three, signifying past, present, and future.
She turned over the first three cards. The four of cups, the Magician, and the five of swords. A period of discontent, followed by a meeting with a creative force which led to an empty revelation.
The next three cards were the ten of wands, the eight of swords, and Justice. A test by fire, or perhaps the results of ill-regulated power, followed by a period of bondage and a spiritual revelation.
The last three cards were the Moon, the Tower, and Death. Unforseen perils followed by a fall and change. Three major arcana in her future, none of them good. She could see the face in her mind, and girls future trials began appearing.
"No!" Rene knocked all the cards from the table. She had seen something, but she couldn't remember what it was or why it had disturbed her so. She was tied to this girl's future somehow, and Allen to her past. None of it was good.
Allen was already trying to comfort her when she began speaking. "Uncle, do you remember ever meeting an Indian girl, one who you taught something that didn't do her much good?"
He thought for a moment. "Yes, actually. Her name was Lakshmi Natajaran. I told her the truth about the Shiva incident and also found out she was an Omega, though exactly what her powers were was unclear. The more I think about it..."
"We have to find her," Rene was now insistant. "She's in more danger than I could have imagined... and somehow I've got to save her from it."
"Fine, I'll track her down. Meantime, get some rest."
The both walked into the living room and Rene plopped down on the couch, still looking uneasy. Allen plopped in a similar fashion on the love seat and began digging around. Within a few moments he pulled out a remote and pointed at the TV. It clicked on and a grainy picture of a alien fleet in space appeared on the screen. Overtop, Dr.Nakamura could be heard telling the truth about the oncoming Harrakin fleet.
"Sweet jesus..." Rene muttered.
Allen was speechless. He knew who they were. There was only one race that would assemble a massive fleet like this for technologically backward planet like the Earth. A race that once called this planet home. The Harrakin.
"Do we forget about Lakshmi now?"
"No," Allen said in a flat, tired voice. "Alien invasion isn't our strongsuit. We have to stop the humans from screwing the rest of us over during whatever the hell happens next." He paused as a disgusting tast filled his mouth. "They knew this was coming."
Chapter 2: Grandfathers · Chapter 4: Convergence
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