So, some people might have noticed I missed my update last week. Short explanation is “I’m an Idiot”.
Longer explanation: I agreed to help a friend run demos of his game at Gencon.He’s the creator of the game “Ear of the Ninja” and head of “Mythical Eras of Wars LLC”. Link to his site here, in case your intrigued. We’re scheduled to leave Wednesday, no big deal, running practice demos monday, packing and transporting things tuesday… and by about 4 pm on Wednesday I realized I never updated the blog Tuesday night like I intended because I was too busy worrying about what I had packed.
Anyways, I’m sorry about that. To try and make it up a little bit, I’m posting all the rest of Watcher’s that I have written out. After this… I’m not sure. Everytime I think of writing I end up worldbuilding for future role-playing games, so maybe I post some world info for my newest game or maybe I’ll post another old work of mine. Either way I hope people enjoy.
Part Two: Knights of the Broken Chain
Luke leaned against the warm lamppost and considered all the things that weren’t adding up. Like the fact that the metal beneath him was only warm; from what he had seen they were in the desert, everything should be scalding hot. Luke wondered if it had something to do with the massive amount of energy being sent to the outside that he had sensed while charging at the generator. Luke sighed, there were too many problems and mysteries for him to confront them all at once, so he focused on the most immediate one.
“Any sign of them?” Luke asked his self-appointed lookouts.
“It’s not Jack.” Erika purred flexing her claws “I can smell exhaust and hear the engines. They’re really noisy you know.”
“I can see them,” Ethan said his golden eyes flashing in the sun. “It’s a convoy of armored trucks, definitely from Gale.”
“Okay,” Luke said “Remember; no trouble unless they start it first, bloodshed only works against us.” For now, Luke thought darkly I doubt we can end this nightmare without bloodshed eventually.
“I know, I know” Erika sighed “But ever since I got out of that stinking cell I’ve just been itching for an excuse to hit them back.”
“You ain’t the only one Little Miss Kitty-Cat.” Ethan said
I’ve told you,” Erika growled her hackles rising “Unless you want me to claw out those super-eyes of yours, don’t call me that.”
“You think you could take me pretty kitty?”
“In a heartbeat you-“
“Why don’t you two just go ahead and get a room?” Patrick said from his position against the wall. Luke had thought he had fallen asleep.
“Wha-What are you implying?” Erika sputtered
“I’m an Empath now.” Patrick replied without opening his eyes, “I can read emotions easier than you can read a newspaper, and the love in the air is about to make me barf.”
“You shouldn’t say things like that Pat.” Carrol said from the nearby shadows.
“Maybe you should come out and bless us with your scintillating presence” Patrick replied.
“That’s not really- I mean I would but-“ she stammered quietly.
“You shouldn’t be embarrassed Carrol,” Luke said soothingly “It really isn’t that bad, in fact you’re rather pretty.”
“Yeah, you just sparkle” Patrick cracked.
“Shut up Patrick” Erika growled.
“Carrol, please come out.” Luke said “We can’t show these people any weakness, if your hiding in the shadows then they’ll think we are afraid of them. Then they’ll just walk all over us, but if they think we’re strong then they won’t push their luck.” Hesitantly Carrol stepped into the light… and the sun struck a dazzling pattern on her crystalline skin.
“Honestly, I’m jealous.” Erika said, walking over and laying her hand on Carrol’s shoulder.
“Of what?” Carrol replied venomously “Looking like some billionaire’s lawn ornament.”
“Of having flawless skin,” Erika replied running her hand down Carrol’s arm. “You have no idea how much time I spend brushing all of this fur.”
“It’s not flawless anymore.” Carrol muttered sadly rubbing a spot on the opposite arm.
“What happened to you?” Ethan asked, horror coloring his naturally jaunty voice.
“Carrol, where did those holes come from?” Erika asked quietly.
“I’m surprised you guys haven’t noticed them until now.” Carrol replied tracing the holes in her upper arm with her fingertips. “The people in charge here are really persistent. They not only developed a special drill-syringe hybrid to get through my skin, they spent hours trying to find a vein. This new skin of mine is pretty amazing you know. It makes me practically invincible, but it doesn’t do anything for pain. The bastards didn’t even bother to knock me out or anything. They just held me down as I screamed and drilled away until they found a vein. They kept using the same hole at least, I don’t heal all that quickly now a days, so they just shoved the needle in to break the crust. They still hurt too; all the time, they just throb and throb.” Carrol stopped, wrapping her arms around herself. Luke didn’t want her to continue, but she did, with a sad smile. A smile so forlorn and yet so glad; it cut Luke, it tore him to pieces.
“They’re getting smaller though, in another week or two they should be completely gone. Also did you know my blood is still red, just like everyone else’s; and I still need to eat and breathe even though it’s so much less. That’s all good, it means I’m still a person, right? I’m not some sort of monster or freak, right?” Carrol finished hysterically, tiny tears sparkling down her cheeks like gems.
Gems that should never have been unearthed. Luke thought savagely, the beast inside of him screaming for Gale’s blood and the blood of his scientists.
“Th-That’s great news Carrol,” Erika choked hugging the other girl tightly “But we already knew you were still you. Nothing could change that, nothing at all”
“They’re here,” Patrick said walking up to Luke.
“Okay. Are you going to be able to help, I know that had to be tough on you.” Luke said trying to bury this rage with all the others. It wasn’t time to call in these debts yet, he would have to keep waiting.
“Thanks for your concern,” Patrick said sarcastically “But you obviously don’t understand the situation as well as you think you do. It’s like a miasma back at the hotels; all the pain, despair, and anger. Some hide it better than others, like you for example; sometimes you even actually feel happy. But I can still feel all of it pressing down on me, like I’m slowing being buried alive. Her finally letting it out is like lancing a boil and getting rid of the pressure. It hurts for a little while and then feels so much better. Not that it will make a difference really; we’re all too scared to start putting ourselves back together.”
“Well,” Luke said with a grin “I’ll take that as a very long-winded yes.” Luke dropped his voice to a whisper “I’ll think of something, we’ll give them hope.”
“I doubt it”
“Come on Ethan.” Luke called behind him, “time to welcome uninvited guests.”
The first vehicle to pull up was one of those army humvees, with a machine gun mounted on the back. Luke smiled at the shocked mercenaries as they spotted the teens and screeched to a sudden halt. However, the smile died when the gunner swiveled around and leveled his gun at them.
“You might want to rethink that decision.” Luke said coolly as sparks popped off of his body.
“Unless you’re planning on killing all of us, and think you’re fast enough to pull it off.” Ethan and Patrick spread out to Luke’s sides, and a low growling from behind them told Luke that Erika and Carrol had noticed what was happening. The gunner’s eyes flickered between them, like he was cornered by a pack of wolves and was trying to see which one would come at him first. The other mercenaries quickly pointed their rifles at them, the clack of their weapons like thunder claps in the silence. Luke wondered, briefly, if they could take the soldiers. He, Erika, and Ethan were much faster than an average person now, but Luke figured it would just be Carrol standing in the end. This wasn’t good. One of the large, armored transports stopped behind the humvee.
“Oh, you are not going to like this Luke.” Ethan called.
“What could possibly make this any worse?” Luke muttered.
“Greetings and Salutations my young and uncivilized patients.” Doctor Rotwood called out as he stepped out of the transport vehicle.
Why did I have to open my big mouth? Luke thought dryly Everyone knows that it’s bad luck
“You’re not giving my escort a hard time now are you? They’re a little jumpy at the moment; we’ve spent hours searching for your “home base”. Please don’t hurt the test subjects men, it will make my job so much harder.” Rotwood walked over to Luke, his bald plate shining in the sun. As the scientist stepped into the open something changed.
Patrick swayed, his face draining of all color, as a single heartrending word floated through the morning air.
Luke spun around. Carrol was staring at Rotwood, her face a contorted mask of terror and despair. Luke could see the screaming horror in her gaze, but all she managed was to repeat the same word.
“You, you, you…”
Erika made the connection an instant before Luke did. With a feral scream she charged Rotwood, inhuman speed blurring her movements. Luke didn’t stop to think how much he wanted Rotwood dead, how it would feel to release some of his rage at one so deserving. All that filled his mind was the bloodbath that would ensue if he didn’t stop this. Charging his limbs with a flurry of power he twisted and grabbed Erika as she blurred past. Her fangs snapped closed inches from Rotwood’s face as Luke jerked her back.
“Let me kill him,” Erika hissed “He deserves it, you know he does, let me go.” She strained against Luke’s hold, but Luke’s enhanced muscles were more than a match for her own.
“Well, this is most unpleasant” Rotwood said taking a few steps back “I would suggest-“
“Shut up!” Luke snarled, and an arc of lighting exploded from his back to strike a nearby lamppost. Erika stopped struggling; Luke was trembling with the effort of controlling himself. He stared at the scientist, a demon with blazing eyes held back by sheer willpower. “If I hadn’t forced them to swear not to cause trouble, if I didn’t have to honor my own vows, you would be dead now. What you have done is unforgivable and make no mistake, one day you will pay for your actions.”
Silence met the end of Luke’s declaration, broken only by Carrol’s sobbing. Rotwood stood stunned, visibly shaken by the young man before him.
“Erika,” Luke said quietly as he buried his raging demon once more. It wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t permanent, but it was all he could do for now. “I’m going to let you go now. You’ll go to Carrol and help her back to the hotels, then you’ll tell everyone about our visitors so there won’t be any more trouble. Okay?”
“Okay,” Erika said quietly “but only for Carrol.”
“Of course.” Luke said letting her go. She shot Rotwood one last hate filled glare then bounded over to Carrol. She knelt down and picked her up, murmuring to her in a quiet voice. The crystal girl clung to her friend as Erika used an abandoned car to jump a top the nearest building, and head directly to their new home.
“Are you okay Patrick?” Luke asked as the empath straightened.
“Yeah…it just…caught me by surprise. I’m fine now. Where’s Ethan?”
“I’m over here.” Ethan called from the humvee. He was standing at the gunner’s turret pointing the machine gun at the soldiers. The original gunner was lying on top of his companions, looking quite dazed.
“Since you had Erika under control, I decided to make sure these guys didn’t start a ruckus.” His gold eyes flashed in the morning light, “Though, come to think of it we have no idea why they’re even here.”
“We came for your first weekly inspections. Also to deliver supplies such as food, unless you think you can survive without eating.” Rotwood said, trying to reclaim his dominant position.
“Fair enough,” Luke responded “But on my terms. The first of which is that you leave the soldiers here.”
“No, I need them for protect-“
“You think they’ll protect you? They couldn’t do anything against three of us, and there is ten times that number where you’re going. Bringing soldiers will just increase the chances of you being attacked. You have my promise that I’ll keep you alive, as long as you do not harm anyone during your check-ups. Because then I will kill you, have we reached an understanding?”
“Very well,” Rotwood grumbled “We’ll do things your way for now, since I seem to be at such a disadvantage.“ Luke just smirked and turned back to Ethan.
“I want you to take the rear position in case there are any more uninvited guests following them.”
“What, you don’t trust us?” Rotwood asked as the transport vehicles rumbled past the Humvee.
“No, I don’t, but I’m not concerned about Gale’s soldiers.” Luke said as he started walking down the road. Rotwood glared at the young man, but followed him as he guided the trucks. “Someone attacked us last night, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?”
“An attack…” Rotwood said thoughtfully “No, I wouldn’t say I know anything in particular about that. Was that what caused the buildings to collapse over all the other roads?”
“You might say that. I talked to the head of our defensive unit after the attack last night. You’d be surprised what skills a bunch of high schoolers can pool together.”
“I’m sure.” Rotwood said deep in thought. Luke hoped his ploy was working. He wanted to convince Rotwood they were a highly skilled force, then they would be much less likely to come after them.
The truth was Robert had been frantically tearing the wallpaper from his room when Luke had barged in. They had had a long discussion about the best possible ways to prevent another attack. In the end they had agreed to block all but one of the roads, and some sort of sensor field to warn of anyone approaching. The collapsed buildings were actually intricate force walls made to look like a collapsed building. The plan was that Jack and his people would just go down the easiest path instead of trying to force his way through the other roads. It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it was a start. Luke smiled as the picture of Robert running up the street, hair flying out all over the place, surfaced in his mind. He had been shouting that someone was coming and had actually looked ridiculous, like on of those homeless people proclaiming the end of the world. It had also been sort of funny seeing everyone scrambling around looking for places to hide, but it meant that there was still a lot of work to do.
“Are we almost there?” Rotwood asked sounding like a petulant child.
“Yes,” Luke replied as they rounded the corner “Welcome to our home away from home.”
Patrick couldn’t stand being at the hotels. The despair and terror bogged him down, like the time he had been stuck in the mud in his Grandfather’s pond. Still even with all their emotional baggage, they had done a fair job at starting to fix up the hotels. Most of the mold had been removed, and the dustiest rooms were being aired out. Given enough time, they could make these two old places feel like home.
Home. Patrick thought bitterly As if I ever really had one of those. The sunlight sparkled across the glass windows as they stopped in the middle of the street. Luke and Rotwood were discussing something up ahead; Patrick couldn’t quite make it out.
He’s amazing. Patrick thought forcing the past back where it belonged. He took control of the situation like he had been doing it for his entire life. And his emotional control… Patrick had gotten a very good idea of a person’s emotional limits. He could feel everything around him, even if the person couldn’t feel it themselves. Like Rotwood, he was angry but even deeper than that he was frightened and jealous. Luke had moved inhumanly fast earlier, and as close as he was Rotwood knew he could do nothing to stop him. All that held him back was a promise, words seemed a flimsy thing to hold back the monstrous fury Patrick had glimpsed. And they rarely showed on his face unless he let them, it was crazy.
The strain of keeping the emotions at bay was becoming too much. Patrick layed against the wheel of a transport and let down his barriers. The collective emotions of over forty people, most of them teenagers, swarmed across his brain. They blurred his vision with tears, chilled his bones, and roared in his chest. The street and hotels were replaced with a dark forest as the emotions overloaded his brain. The visions were different every time, but always the dark despair, helpless frustration, and sullen anger were the same. They darkened and twisted the landscape, but like earlier Luke’s fury was a blazing bonfire in the darkness. Patrick wondered if he could explore that anger, like he had done with other emotions, or if it would consume him before he reached its depths. Patrick let go, allowing his mind to wander the tangled emotions of his fellow captives. He touched the ancient trees built of despair, and they shrank out of his way. He cut through vines fed from frustration and tamed the roaming anger, but those were things he was intimately familiar with, emotions he’d always dealt with. He was searching for something, following a silent song that beckoned him, but he wasn’t quite sure what it was he searched for. Something was different this time; there was a freshness to the air that he hadn’t felt before. Then he spotted something unusual, a bright spot of color, and he rushed towards it.
There growing on two weeping willows were tiny flowers and nearby a low-lying bush bursting with colorful blooms. They were beautiful but so fragile. Patrick had never seen anything like them before. With great caution, he knelt and reached out to them, trying to figure out what these strange plants were doing in this forest of despair. Hope, determination, love, pride, they warmed him in the chilly darkness.
Patrick briefly saw a vision, this forest covered in such flowers and full of warmth. These lights could spread across this dark place, healing them.
Healing Patrick thought awed We can come back from this, be happy he lightly touched the first flower, and it began to grow beneath his touch.
I-I’m changing their emotions he thought in a sudden revelation. I’m lessening their despair and strengthening their hopes. I can heal us; I can actually make someone else’s life better.
Patrick crouched before those delicate blooms, and broke his ten-year vow. He cried, sobs shaking his entire body. He did not cry because of the looming darkness or his cruel past. He wept because for once he saw hope and knew it could not be taken from him.
Luke couldn’t see anyone; Erika must have spread the word. Though he had thought that Amelia would have come out to confront them, maybe she hadn’t gotten the message yet.
“You said we were here, so where is everyone?” Rotwood asked. Luke smiled.
“I sent someone ahead, and we knew someone was coming before that. Where do you think everyone is? They’re hiding.”
“Well then, I guess I might as well get set-up.” Rotwood said gesturing to the transport. With a hydraulic hiss, the side opened up to reveal a mini-lab. “These should be all I need for today.” He said grabbing a huge folder and a small, black bag. “Your food and other supplies should be in the other transport. Please have it unloaded before we leave.”
“I’ll see what we can do.” Luke replied sarcastically, “So what exactly are these weekly check-ups all about?”
“Well, for right now I’m just going to test out those whose powers we have yet to determine and any other urgent cases. Speaking of which, I need to see Ms. Dawn Smith first. The nanobots in her bloodstream read an unusual energy spike last night. I’d like to investigate its cause. I’m assuming that it has something to do with that attack you mentioned.”
“You may be right about the attack,” Luke said cautiously, “but I regret to inform you that Dawn is unavailable-“
“Nonsense,” Amelia called from the hotel doors “We’re just a little slow getting out here, what do expect from a pair of teenage girls.” Luke turned and saw Amelia and Dawn walking towards them.
“Carrol?” Luke asked
“She’s resting in her room. Erika is guarding the door so she won’t be disturbed by anyone.” Luke sighed in relief, they would be fine for now and he would try to talk to Carrol later.
“So,” Amelia said, “What do you think?”
“Of…?” Luke started, but a glare from Amelia set him straight “Course, it looks wonderful Dawn. Where did you find those clothes?” She was wearing tight Capri jeans and her green top looked brand new.
“Elizabeth stitched everything back together.” Dawn said uncomfortably “Are you sure it looks good? She insisted on completely remaking my jeans and I think it might be too much.”
“You look great.” Luke insisted, then he continued in a more serious tone, “So everyone is hiding inside?”
“Yea,” Amelia said, “figured it was the easiest place to defend if things fell apart. But Robert insisted on leaving, he wouldn’t let anyone go with him either.”
“Worried?” Luke teased.
“Yes, I am. Got a problem with it? Jack or his goons could be out there, and we have no way to know if he’s hurt or not.”
“Dude,” Ethan said from the direction of the transports, “Are you okay?”
Luke, Dawn, and Amelia all turned while Rotwood stood off to the side looking more and more annoyed. Ethan was helping a dazed looking Patrick to his feet.
“I’ll go look for him.” Patrick said, with an odd catch in his voice, “I need a walk anyways.”
“You sure you’ll be alright?” Luke asked.
“Yeah, I just need some space to think.”
“I’ll keep an eye on him.” Ethan drawled, “Not like I’d be much use sitting around here for the next few hours.”
“Okay, just make sure to get back before sunset. It’s safer that way.”
“You got it.” Ethan called as they headed off.
“Okay,” Dawn said tremulously as she faced Rotwood again, “What do you want me to do?”
“Well, according to our nanobot readings- oh don’t look surprised, you couldn’t have possibly forgotten about them yet. Anyways, they registered an immense energy signal, similar to the one we detected when we first brought you in. This one was probably much stronger than that flimsy shell though-“
“Y-You knew I could create fields?” Dawn stammered.
“Of course,” Rotwood replied, “the first one seemed to be a subconscious attempt at protecting yourself. I would assume this one was in response to Jack’s attack last night. Do not think I’m stupid children; you can’t hide such things from me. Now then, can you reproduce the shield or not?”
“No.” Dawn answered her voice growing firmer. Luke wondered how much support Eve could give before her presence was revealed. “I’m still working on it.”
“Then show me what you have achieved.” Rotwood demanded.
“Why should she?” Amelia asked glaring at the scientist, “Why should any of us listen to you? In fact, why should we even let you stay here?”
“Many reasons.” Rotwood said coldly “First off Mr. Gale ordered it, and you do not wish to cross Mr. Gale. Next,” he continued gesturing at the transports, “we are your only source of food, water, and medicine and you couldn’t last a week without our supplies. And if those reasons aren’t enough for you, I’ll let you in on a little secret, something even Gale is not aware of. The nanobots in your systems can be remotely directed. What do you think would happen if they all were sent into your hearts or brains? My staff can kill you at any moment, and you can do nothing about it.”
“Bastard!” Amelia shouted searing flames billowing from her body, “I’ll kill you!”
“Calm down Amelia.” Luke said, cold fury slicing through her passionate flames. “Killing him will not solve this problem; it will just make life harder for all of us. I was able to deactivate the nanobots in myself, so I can do the same for everyone else. And there is nothing he can do to stop me.”
“Oh really,” Rotwood said unfazed by the two immense forces before him, Luke wondered if his earlier attitude had just been a ploy to lower their guard. “and how do you plan on saving those allied with Jack. Will you just let them die to save yourselves? You are too soft to abandon even your enemies aren’t you?”
“You, you… heh heh, Ha ha ha.” Luke laughed startling Rotwood and the girls. It echoed off the buildings and furtive eyes risked glancing outside to find its source. It was harsh, cynical, and slightly hysterical, but it was laughter. Though tainted as it was by pain and fear it spread, clear and cleansing, through all of them.
Rotwood stared in horror at the laughing teens finally coming out of hiding.
“They’re all crazy.” Rotwood muttered to himself.
“Fine, Professor,” Luke shouted above the laughter, “We’ll play your little game, it’s not like it matters anyway. You’ve stolen our lives and families, and we’re constantly afraid. Will Jack and the Reapers descend upon us? Will Gale send his soldiers? We could die of starvation or these powers could destroy us from the inside out. What does it matter if your little toys can kill us as well? You don’t want to kill us, if you did, you would have done so long before now. We’ll play the obedient test subjects; we’ll wait and grow stronger. Then, when the time is right, we’ll take control and I’ll make good on all my promises. Have fun waiting.” Luke taunted, and then all three of them vanished.
“What? Where?” Rotwood puttered looking for the children amidst the echoing laughter.
“What?” Eve laughed from within the invisible bubble, “I thought you wanted to see how far I’ve gotten. This is it, impressed?”
“So you can spread the invisibility effect.” Rotwood observed trying to recapture his sense of authority. “And that is all you can do?”
“So far.” Dawn replied letting the shroud fall, “So are you done with me or do you want another demonstration?”
Luke stared at Dawn, thinking Eve must still be in control, but when she turned to leave, he saw the truth. Her eyes were completely hazel and as hard as steel. She was angrier than he had ever seen her, but when she saw him, her eyes softened and grew misty. By the time she reached the hotel, silent tears were running down her cheeks.
“The next person I’d like to see is… Jessie Calland, unless that is a problem for you.” Rotwood challenged.
“I’ll go get him,” Amelia said lightly, “You two play nicely, alright?”
“Why sister!” Luke said feigning hurt, “How could you possibly think I could do otherwise? This noble man is our guest I could never lay a hand upon him.” Amelia rolled her eyes.
“I’ll remember that when you start threatening boyfriends I bring home.” She said walking off.
“That’s totally different!” Luke shouted after her, “They’re just asking for trouble.”
The wave of laughter had died out and everyone had gone back into hiding. Accept the situations you cannot change, and then you will begin to change yourself. A voice from the past whispered, That will allow you to survive any hardship and overcome any trial.
“You won’t escape. “Rotwood said in the silence, “You will lose and Gale will win. Why bother fighting it?”
“You know,” Luke said thoughtfully, “I don’t hate you people for taking Amelia and me here. We’re orphans so we’re used to being suddenly uprooted and taken somewhere else. She has been the only constant thing in my life for so many years, so many changing faces and places we’ve had to face together. We would protect each other with our lives and never let the other die for us. I wonder if you can understand that, understand how far I’ll go to protect the people important to me. Probably not, most people can’t until they experience someone precious being taken away, their whole world crumbling beneath their feet. I want to keep the vow I made three years ago; so please stop pushing me, stop testing my limits.” Luke turned to Rotwood lightning dancing in the pupils of his eyes. “Because I will snap and show you how far I go to protect my world.”
“Found him.” Amelia called leading out Jessie. Luke remembered him now; he was the only kid in school to constantly get in trouble. He seemed fascinated with “homemade disasters” like stink bombs and smokescreens. Most people wondered why the Reapers didn’t bother him; Luke just thought it was a miracle the hyper-teen hadn’t blown himself up yet.
“So Mr. Calland, have you discovered what your ability is yet?” Rotwood asked in a snide tone.
“Actually,” Jessie said rubbing his buzzed head, probably cut so it wouldn’t catch on fire Luke thought with a smile, “I have. It was so simple, I couldn’t tell you before because I needed to touch it, and when I did, Wow, it was like having a whole cookbook and encyclopedia in my brain, not a cookbook like food because that’s boring, but it would be tasty if I could-“
“Enough!” Rotwood said the veins in his baldhead bulging, “Please just demonstrate your ability.”
“Oh, you want me to show you. I didn’t think about that, I wonder if I still have any left.” Jessie started searching through the pockets of his vest and cargo pant. “I thought I had kept a little for emergency purposes, but maybe I left it all in my room, it’s safer there where no one will freak out about it, it’s not dangerous anymore since I modified it. Aha!” he cried pulling something from his pocket, “Here it is!”
“Ew!” Amelia said,” That is just disgusting, why are you keeping that stuff.”
“Well,” Jessie said studying the moldy bread in his hand, “It’s part of what I can do, you see it has a really simple construction so it’s a piece of cake to manipulate, no spores or anything, but since it is so simple I’m having a hard time making it into anything else, the mutation channels are just so narrow, now if I could get my hands on a tree or something, that would be so amazing, I could make so much from that, of course it’s all still a lot to handle, couldn’t do anything drastic yet, need to take baby steps till I know the limitations, I want-“
“Demonstration!” Rotwood yelled, “Now so I don’t have to hear anymore of your inane chattering.”
“Fine, fine, jeeze man you are really uptight, oh… that’s a perfect idea, you’ll love this.” Jessie carefully held the mold between his hands. Luke thought he saw green script scrolling across the young man’s eyes before Jessie shut them. “Okay start with coloration, add the spores, we don’t want that one, or that one, there it is, okay now.” Then Jessie started humming.
Luke was stunned; he recognized that tune. He had heard the same tune every morning since he had woken up in this hell. It was the same kind of music that had floated in the darkness between here and the hill. Had Jessie heard it as well? Was he the person who had been singing all this time?
“Where did you hear that!?” Rotwood demanded grabbing Jessie by the shoulders; his eyes flew open revealing strange green text dancing across them. Startled Jessie dropped the mold, now hot pink, as Rotwood screamed at him to reveal what he knew.
“I-I heard it, someone was always singing it in the mornings. It was really pretty and it helps me focus on what I’m doing, rearranging this and twisting that, it’s a lot to see all at once and the song just makes it seem… easier I guess.”
“So, you have no idea who was singing?” Rotwood asked calming down.
“N-no, I’ve asked almost everybody, we all heard it but nobody knows who was singing it.”
“Let him go.” Luke said quietly placing his arm on Rotwood’s arm and letting a tiny bit of static escape him.
“Of course,” he said slowly letting go of Jessie, “I’m sorry for losing my composure. We have… a vested interest in finding the singer of that song. Well then,” he said turning his attention back to Jessie. “It seems you can control fungus, but what you said earlier about trees… perhaps fungi are similar enough that a power over plants would have some effect on them, unless you can affect flesh?” Jessie shook his head, “Well, that will be all for now I guess. I shall have an assistant research what similarities might allow this. I’m done with this one, send Patrick Williams.”
“He left a little bit ago to assist someone else; he might not be back today.” Amelia said daring Rotwood to make a fuss.
“Oh very well, then send me… let me see here. Then how about Chester Fieldings?”
“I’ll go get him.” Amelia said.
“Come on Jessie.” Luke said turning to the hotel.
“Luke, that song…” Amelia whispered.
“Yeah, I know. I’ve heard it too and it seems Rotwood and Gale know about it as well.”
“Do you think he was telling the truth about looking for whoever sung it?”
“I don’t think so,” Jessie said catching up to them, “A few people remember hearing a similar song on the hill, right before they passed out and even more know they heard something like it sometime in-between the hill and here. Whoever was singing was doing so before they even found us, maybe it’s connected to our abilities.”
“The winged girl…” Luke breathed as the memory surfaced.
“What?” Amelia asked staring at her brother.
“When everyone was collapsing on top of the hill, you remember the lights in the sky?”
Amelia nodded slowly.
“Well, I thought I saw a girl with wings in the middle of that display.”
“So you’re thinking….”
“She’s responsible for our powers and I’d bet good money that Gale and his goons know that as well.”
”Do you think she’ll try to rescue us?” Jessie asked.
“Maybe,” Luke said, “but Gale and Rotwood are definitely worried about her.”
“What are we going to do?” Amelia asked as they entered the hotel.
“What all great people do in times of crisis,” Luke said lightly, “We’re going to call a meeting. This is a democratic society after all”
“That should be fun.” Amelia said sarcastically as she headed up the stairs.
“I hope so.” Luke said grinning, “I really do.”
“Oh, Chester.” Amelia said from above them, “You need-“
“I know, I know,” a deep, tired voice said, “The stupid scientist wants to pick my brain, this is really getting tiresome.”
Luke smiled eve wider.
“Sir, Professor Rotwood is here to see you.”
“Alright,” Gale said leisurely,” Please allow him in.” The soldier allowed the scientist to step out of the elevator. It was a petty slight, but though he looked rather pathetic with his bony arms and thin body, Gale knew the man was crafty. Reminding him of his place occasionally was just the natural process of things.
“So, how did your little foray into Mr. Rockwell’s camp go?” Gale asked staring out across the cityscape.
“As expected,” Rotwood said waving off the question, “They are rebellious, but I’m confident they won’t try anything. I did learn one interesting fact though.”
“Oh really?” Gale asked disinterestedly, “What would that be?”
“She’s been singing to them.”
Gale felt his entire body fall still.
“What did you say?” He asked slowly.
“She has been singing to them, one of the children was humming one of her songs.”
Well, the little one still has some fight in her does she? Gale thought half-amused, half-furious.“I’ll handle this personally.” He told Rotwood as he stood up.
“Very Well.” Rotwood said cowering from the madness in his master’s eyes.
The prisoner of room #114 stirred tiredly as the door slid open. The harsh brightness scorched her eyes, which had so long seen only darkness. But that was not what caused her to cry out; for pain was something she had come to know very well.
The Demon has come. The discordant one.
“Well my dear,” It said stepping into her prison, “It seems you’ve been meddling with my subjects. That is very naughty of you, so now I’ll have to punish you.” He spread his wings and they glittered with false light, grinding against her nerves. “Anything you wish to say, choose carefully because it will be the last thing you speak for quiet a while.”
“You… will… not… succeed.” She said her beautiful voice ragged.
“But you can’t stop me.” Gale said.
She tried to gather her remaining strength to protect her, but it was not enough. Its power was greater than her own, and Its song cut through her meager defenses. She screamed, her lungs, her throat, everything burning under Its assault. She screamed, but a small, rational part of her mind knew that no one would come to save her.