Posts Tagged ‘Ellen’

“Ellen, you are truly pathetic,”  ranted Trauma to herself, marking the wall with a pen.  “What was your plan, lie down and just take it?  Hide me away in the City?  Hope nobody comes?”

I’m sorry…

The hallway was the same, confirming yet again the only inhabitants of the wall were Trauma and Ellen.  Trauma passed through here several times in an attempt to escape, an attempt to be free.  Tally marks covered the walls, painted on with cooking supplies from kitchens, pens from offices and whatever else she could find.  The total count for this particular hallway she was in reached to twenty-seven, and she marked it again.

“You know, I’m glad we can talk.  We can just chat.  I’m really happy we can just have a nice long conversation, because I really, really need to get my own plans in order, Ellen.  It’ll be so mu-”

Please stop, I’m sorry…

“Sorry!?  You think you are sorry!?”  snarled Trauma, enraged at the comment from Ellen.  “I’ll show you true, real, physical regret, you pathetic bitch.”  Trauma licked her lips, exited.  The conversation was almost too much, she couldn’t contain her enjoyment.

No no please n-

“I’ll fucking find that love-struck retard who followed me and I’ll grind him into fucking dust,”  she cursed, exaggerated hand movements illustrating her point.  “He’ll be so happy when he finally fucking kills himself.  I’ll make him enjoy it, do it slow.  I’ll ma-”

Shut up! I don’t want to lis-

“I’ll fucking make him shred his goddamn friends apart, with a grin!” Trauma interrupted, furious at Ellen’s indigence.  “He’ll pay a nice long visit to his mommy and da-”

Don’t you dare!  You’ll be so-

“He’ll turn to realize what he just did right as the bitch chokes out her last fucking breath!”  laughed Trauma, grinning wildly.

She opened the door at the end of the corridor, finding the one corridor she was looking for hours and hours on end after running away from the fight.  The corridor with poorly washed the orders from Taker, still attached to the entrance.

“He’ll be so happy when he finally guts himself!”

She smiled at her handiwork.  Taker may have written the orders, but Trauma was the one to deliberately fail to erase them correctly.  Feeling Ryan’s heart slowly sink as she walked down the corridor was delicious.  The tension and heartbreak as Bloodwitch slowly had to steel herself knowing she was going to fight her old mentor to the death?

To die for.

You can’t get away with this, they’ll kill us!  You’ll be stopped!

“I know,”  replied Trauma, grinning.  “It keeps me going, by the way, knowing that as long as I breathe you wish you’ll die.  That feeling I got when you were just begging Sacrifice to take notice of what I did and kill us both, even though it was merely futile because I’m in total control?  Simply Orgasmic,”  said Trauma, groping herself to provide emphasis as she grinned wildly.

Ellen was silent.

“I can’t wait,”  she continued, almost drooling at the thoughts in her head.  “I’ll ses mothers convinced to smother their daughters like it’s the only thing left on a chores list, I’ll meet single men and women ready to grieve over lost loves and end it all, there will be widows who wish to join their other halves that I’ll gladly aid…”

Catching her breath, she slowed down, her breath panting.  “I can’t contain myself, Ellen.  I almost want to skip the family reunion.”

Trauma stopped her hands from moving any further under her clothes, blushing in embarrassment.  Taker may have given her control, but she still has her own issues with self control.

“I can’t wait to make you watch,”  she finished, walking to the less damaged van.

She opened the doors, happy that the keys were still in the ignition.  She sat in the front seat, hands on the driving wheel and feet struggling to reach the gas and brakes.  She imagined for a moment the pure unfiltered sound of loss that would cry out if she plowed through a group of children crossing the road.

Stop that, hands where you can see them, thought Trauma.

Ellen all but gave up.  Trauma had enough time to work on her.  After all, Trauma knew everything about her.  She knew everything about Everyone.  She knew who people were cheating on whom with, she knew the size of your debt, she knew how unrealistic your dream job is…

She knew what to say to crush people as painfully and thoroughly as possible, in as few words as necessary.

Taker was kind to her for that reason,  because she was ‘fun’.  She’d have to visit taker sometime in the future.  She’d love to see how fun Taker was to her.

“Taker was like a father,”  she lied to herself, starting the ignition and reversing the car slowly.  It was harder than she thought, really.  She had to exert so much effort to drive, just because she was so small.

“I guess that means I have more of a family than you, right Ellen?”

Please, she’s your mother t-

“She’ll be nobody’s mother soon enough, sweetie.  Just sit back and let me take care of it.”

The Car reached the road, turning slowly and clumsily.

Don’t do this to me! You’ve done enough alr-

“The fact that I’m not hearing you say ‘kill me’ over and over again suggests that I’ve not done enough!”  shot Trauma, trying to adjust the side mirror of the van.  “Just sit back and enjoy the show.  I will.”

The van was difficult to drive with her height, but she figured she was going in a mostly straight line anyway.  She’d worry about it when she got to the city.  When she got to people.  Happy people.  People with families, jobs, friends and so much more.  People who will just go crazy with despair when it is yanked out right from under them.

People who just can’t handle dealing with trauma.

 

 

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6 | 1 : Wall

Posted: 07/31/2014 in Wall
Tags: , , , ,

The drive was calmer than it should have been.  We were merely catching up with Taker’s group, driving by farms and empty streets.  I had the displeasure of seeing Sacrifice make a new mask out of a cow, tearing it apart with her bare hands and covering herself in the blood.

I also had the displeasure of throwing up at the smell.  She reeked of death.

The van stopped.  We got out, Sacrifice almost dragging me.  I’m glad my legs work again, she’d probably have done so anyway.

“We’re here,”  said Bloodwitch, looking up.

There was a massive, giant wall in our way.  There was also a message written in blood.

DOOR 3 MILES THAT WAY –>

YOURS TRULY,               

                          –TAKER

P.S  :  BOSS, WE’LL MEET IN NEW AUSTIN

 

Sacrifice sighed, pulling me back into the van.

We drove to the tunnel door in relative silence.  I had nobody to talk to apart from Ellen, and she only responded to members of the Hunting Party, for the most part.

We got out again, seeing the second van and the door, wide open.

“Trauma, check it,”  Ordered Sacrifice, pulling on me again.

She looked inside, felt around the door and turned around.

“Not many lights, boss.  It’s also a maze in there,”  she said, taking a step back.

“I see.  We should find a way through it,”  said Sacrifice.  “We’ll split up if we can’t find an exit.”

“We will go first,”  said Ellen, taking Bloodwitch by the hand.  She pulled her in, closing the door.

Sacrifice flinched.

“Ryan, tell me what you notice about this situation here,”  she said slowly.

“I’m being dragged around by a naked chick old enough to be my mother?”  I blurted out.

“Not that.  We got a message from taker, right?”

“Yeah, so?”  I looked at her and saw that she was clearly stressed.  The pressure of Taker’s betrayal has wormed its way into her.

“Why didn’t we get one here?”

She’s overthinking it.  “You’re overthinking it.”

I pulled her into the darkness of the wall, and turned to foll-

Sacrifice tugged back and pointed at one of the walls:

KI                          

                            ICE  

                      ER

 

I swallowed deeply, terrified.  Sacrifice was right.  Something was up.  She gave me a knowing look, glancing at the pair up ahead.

She began to speak.  “We sho-”

“Hurry up,”  shouted Trauma, interrupting her.  “We’ll lose sight of you two at this rate!”

 

***

 

The walk was tense.  We took turns, walked up and down stairs and entered several dead ends.  The sounds were mainly of our footsteps and the hum of lightbulbs.

Sacrifice provoked a mix between hate and fear.  I was scared because she had more experience than I did in everything, and she acted overtly like a predator.  She does horrible things casually, and she acts like she could kill me at any time.  I hated her for what she did, and I’m scared of her for what she might do.

This situation however, was different.  I was as scared as she was stressed; playing along when we both knew they’d kill her.  She also knew I’d never help her, even if she begged.

If I was a hostage out of the necessity of Sacrifice’s plans, then she was a hostage out Taker’s.  We were enemies in an inescapable trap.

“Hey Ryan,”  said Trauma, glancing back.

“Yeah?”

“I was wondering about that time a few years ago,”  she said.  Another left turn.

“What about it?”  I said.  Sacrifice tapped my arm.  Stress.

“Well,”  she began.  “You still like me, right?  Isn’t that why you ran away from Maxine and Derek?”

More taps, harder.

“What?”

“You ran, didn’t you,”  she sounded cross as she said it.  “You really shouldn’t abandon your friends.”

“Look, I could help,”  I explained, weakly.  “I can make spaces where yo-”

“At what cost?  That chick who followed you might die.  I bet that it was her blood that was used to write those messages.”

She admitted it.

“What do you mean, ‘messages’?  Was th-”

“It isn’t exactly like that!”  yelled Sacrifice with anger, interrupting me.

“Looks like you figured out, Ryan,”  said Trauma, turning around with a massive grin.

“Your powers, right?”

“No, I am her power. I’m that little voice that says ‘go on, do it’ over and over and over and over! And I never lie! It’s so great!”  she giggled.

Sacrifice charged as Bloodwitch took several steps forwards.

“Don’t listen to it! Ryan, stop her!”

I felt for my baton.

“Ryan, your powers don’t work properly,”  she said, taking a step away as Bloodwitch threw up a wall of blood.  Sacrifice punched it with all her might, creating a shockwave that knocked Bloodwitch over and down the hall.  Trauma ran down a side entrance.

“Maybe I’ll have a nice long conversation with Mom!  She’ll be glad to see me again!”  she laughed, growing fainter.

Sacrifice charged at Bloodwitch again, punching into the floor as she rolled away.  The lights went out.

Sacrifice yelled in the dark.  “Ryan, you know how to use your ac-”

“Yes!”  I interrupted.

I made a space, and began to envelop the hallway with ‘normalcy’.

The darkness was terrifying.  I spread it out more, filling wherever I could.  I could only picture a general shape, unable to picture who occupied it.

“Ryan?”  asked Sacrifice.

“I’m covering the who-”

“She’s gone,”  she interrupted me.  “They’ll attack us later.”

I fell to my knees.  I couldn’t bear it.  Ellen betrayed me again.  She tried to kill me.

“Fuck!”  I yelled, a futile gesture.  Tears welled up and ran down my face.  “This is all your fault.  I’m blaming you.”

Sacrifice didn’t react.  She got closer, as far as I could hear.

“Ryan,”  she began, slowly, calmly.  “We’ll die if we don’t put in our effort.”

“I don’t care anymore!  She was a friend and you bastards did that thing to her and changed her and she was taken away and she tried to kill me!”  I couldn’t hold it in anymore.  It hurt, everything about this hurt.  “Why would you do that to us!  We were just kids!”

I knew Sacrifice would give no sympathy.  Her reply was just as I expected from her.

“We didn’t do it to kids before.  I would have been interesting to see your development.”

Rage built up again.

“That’s why!?  To see what happens!?  Curiosity!?”  A lump in my throat formed.

“Yes,”  she replied with ice.  “It was exactly like that.”

She sat down.

“I think I should explain what Taker is trying to do.  What I was trying to do.”

“I’ll kill you,”  I muttered, under my breath.  “‘I’ll fucking kill you.”

“Help me and I’ll offer myself up on a silver platter,”  she said.  “I’ll let you kill me.”

 

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“You are taking the Motorbike? Why?”

Bloodwitch looked at Ellen and gave a massive grin.  “I loved these things back in the day.  Look, this bike has been modified to hell and back.  It’s all cape tech, and Texan cape tech, too.”

“That doesn’t answer why,”  replied Ellen, with dull inflection.

“It does. I want to try it, and I know how to ride it.  Ryan won’t do anything stupid, anyway.”

Sacrifice looked worried.  I loved it.  She was actually stressed, her usual confidence and her theatrics are gone.  Taker was nearly heroic in my eyes, but he was still scum like her.

“Bloodwitch, We sho-”

“We’ve delayed too long, Sacri-

 

***

 

I woke up, face in the wet dirt.  I motioned to stand.  I couldn’t feel my legs.  I figured that the dirt was probably soaked in blood.  I’m dying, and I don’t know why.  Ellen stumbled into my field of view.  She’d been hit by whatever it was too.  Maybe that kil-

Sacrifice walked into my peripheral vision from the other side, grabbing Ellen by the arm.  She pulled her away.

“Bloodwitch, check up on our little pet,”  said Sacrifice.

She was okay, Bloodwitch was okay.  Why do they get away with everything?  I hate this.

A pressure on my neck, then I was flipped over painfully.  I couldn’t stop myself from screaming.

“He’s crippled, I don’t think we can carry him,”  said Bloodwitch, looking at me.

She was smiling.  Why was she smiling?  I’m supposed to be necessary to Sacrifice’s plans?

Was Sacrifice being betrayed already?  This soon?

“Heal him,”  ordered Sacrifice.

“Can’t.”

“Fine, give me a second.”

Everything went black again.

 

***

 

I woke up, dazed in the back of the van again, laying on the floor, not seated.  Bloodwitch was driving, Ellen sat calmly in the passenger seat, bandaged up.  Sacrifice lay in the back, reading her book again.

“He wakens,”  said Sacrifice, not even bothering to look away from her book.

“What happened?”  I asked, still sore.  Correction; freshly sore.  The adrenaline and shock wore off, and Bloodwitch must have fixed me up while I was out.

“Merly’s bike was rigged to set off his toys.  His toys, if you didn’t realize by now, were small explosives.”

Ouch.  I must have been hit by shrapnel along with Ellen.

“Where’s Glutton?”  I asked, not seeing him anywhere.

“Dead.”

“And knocking me out?”

Sacrifice put her book down and leaned over.

“You read up on us.  We had to knock you out to work on you,”  she spoke.

I gave her a look.  What was I supposed to do, nothing?

“Don’t you ever fucking act like you did back there again, got it?”

I looked away, moving my head to the side.

She grabbed my chin and pulled my face back to hers, forcing me to look at her.  “Got it!?”

The pet remark she made was becoming really apparent.  All I’ve been doing is rebelling and hoping for a chance to do something, and all she does is punish me for it.

“Fine,”  I relented.  “I’ll behave.”

She let go.

“Good,”  she remarked.

The pause and quiet was unbearable.  I had to talk.

“Can I ask some questions?”  I said, swallowing my pride.

Sacrifice put her book down again.  “Go ahead, you can ask three.”

“I was in the van when I got hit, how was the van okay?”

“The bearings were secretly placed on our clothes, according to Trauma’s recollection.  She was hit by one nestled in the collar of her shirt.  Only I got away with no injuries because, well…”  she gestured to her lack of anything that could be called clothing.

“I see.”

“Two questions left.”

“What is Kingmaker’s powers, and what is it with all these kings and stuff?”

Sacrifice shot me a look of utter bemusement.  She barely held a laugh in.  “What?”  She asked, shaking her head slightly, thinking she didn’t hear.

“What is this Kangmaker and King of Texas thing all about?”  I repeated.  It was a good question that allows me to gauge what exactly the Hunting Party was or still is after.  If Taker had usurped Sacrifice in all but name I’d suspect they both are after the same thing, and maybe I could prevent them both from getting it.

“I don’t believe it.  How stupid are you?”  She said bluntly, bursting out in a fit of laughter.  Bloodwitch was also laughing from her seat in the van.

Ellen turned around.  “He’s not joking.  He actively ignored cape related stuff for years,”  she explained.  “He only knows that there is a Texas, a Scotland and a few more nations influenced by kingmaker, like the former Japan.”

Sacrifice wiped a tear off her face.  “I see,”  she said.

“Let me tell you a story.  Kingmaker was a low level cape on his own, but he had one of the strongest powers ever.  You see, Powers can be simple, like Bloodwitch’s and Undertow’s and that girl we caught with you, or they can be complex.  Complex can mean complex, here.  I’ve seen people whose powers work only under a full moon, or they dissipate if you say your name in french three times backwards.  I’ve actually encountered those capes,”  she said.

You probably killed them too,  I thought to myself.

“Kingmaker was the granddaddy of needlessly complex powers.  We still don’t know how they work, we just assume they work off a theme, like most powers.  Alliance needs friends and support, and he gets stronger.  That’s why he’s called Alliance.  I need to bathe in blood, as you’ve seen; thus my moniker.  Truama influences people to kill themselves as quickly as possible.”

She paused.

“Your powers punish your ignorance, leaving a very unfitting name there,”  she smiled at me.  She saw that news cast, too.  Hell, she might have seen it in person, lurking in Oklahoma, under my nose the whole time.

I wanted to hit her so badly for mocking me.  She was right, and I hated her for it.

“We don’t know how Kingmaker did this, but he created nations.  Nations where the king gains powers over his or her people, and they have invincible borders as long as they avoid war, and they can do many other things as well.  You know capes who become kings have their powers increase to godly levels,”  she said.

I figured it out, to my horror.

“You want to be a queen!?”  I blurted out.

“That’s three, and I-”  she paused, looking at Trauma who was watching her explain to me.  “Yes, I wish to be a queen.”

Liar.

“Can we get back to the second question?”  I asked,  trying my best to steer her away from giving up her counter-betrayal too soon.  Just you wait, I thought.  I’ll get you yet.

“Sure,”  she replied.  “Well, the guy who is the King of Texas is a former villain called ‘Contractor’.  His powers are complex, but the jist is he could teleport animals back to himself as long as he wrote their names in blood.  I don’t know what that says about naming things that can’t speak, but that happens with powers.”

I didn’t press the issue any further, I was actually tired, with the pain shooting throughout my body.

“I understand,”  I said.

 

 

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The trip made me feel miserable.  The drugs took their sweet time wearing off, and during the whole time they did I had to sit there, looking at the Hunting Party.  Bloodwitch, Sacrifice, Jawbreaker and Ellen were the only ones in the van with me.

Bloodwitch was in the back, leaning over into the passenger seat.  Sacrifice was busy reading a book, occasionally glancing at me, to see If I was trying anything funny.  Jawbreaker was driving, and Ellen sat in the passenger seat, looking out the window.

I had to do something.  I thought about my powers.  I took my sweet time and read up on their powers whenever I could.  I read everything I could about them.  The NHN Database, fan forums, Wikis and everywhere else.  I was convinced I could beat them.

Honestly, I was a fool.  I was younger and weaker than all of them except Bloodwitch and Ellen, and I didn’t want to fight Ellen at all.

The bleeding stopped a while ago, and I’d wiped everything off my face with the sleeve of my suit.  My helmet and my Shield lay next to me, freely sliding along the floor of the van as it took turn after turn.

A faint whizzing sound filled the air, distracting us all.

“Everyone get down!”  yelled Jawbreaker, Swerving the van.

A bullet penetrated the front window explosively.  Sacrifice toppled over, the shot just missing her.  When the van landed on its side and skidded uncomfortably along the road, stopping after several long seconds.

Sacrifice picked herself up first, along with Ellen.

“Wow, you look great up there,”  she laughed at me as I dangled from the side of the van in my bindings.  “A chandelier.”

“Let me down,”  I said sternly.  She gave a look and I added “Please.”

“One second.  Friends before foes,”  she replied.  “Jawbreaker, Bloodwitch!”

“JB is KO’d,”  replied Bloodwitch, checking up on Jawbreaker.  The airbags were deflating, slowly.

“Good, take this one down from here,”  said Sacrifice as Ellen opened the door.

“Truama, dearie?  You stay as a hostage.  I’ll need you.”

Bloodwitch roughly unbound me and let me fall too the floor.

“Up,”  she ordered.  I got up quickly, grabbing my helmet and shield.

I looked around and the sun hurt.  Another van was on the road, parked perfectly.  The rest of the Hunting Party was here, I assumed.

Sacrifice was quick to action.  “We have company, Guys! Get out!”

Fractal had already teleported Kumo, Glutton, Taker and Druggie out of the van, along with Event Horizon, who was in handcuffs.  She caught a glimpse of me, and her face told me what I didn’t want to know.

She followed me and got caught.  I turned away.

“Well, now we are all here,”  began Sacrifice,  “We should be taking cover, although it may not help at all.”

She turned to the tipped over van as another thud rumbled through it.  A ball bearing less than a centimetre in diameter stopped inches away from her mask.

“Ryan, use your powers,”  she ordered me.  I didn’t comply.

“No,” I murmured, “I don’t ne-”

“Your friends will die here,”  She interrupted as she turned her head.

She looked at me.  She looked deep into me.  The Ball bearing was so close.  If only it started moving again.

“Start thinking, now!”

I hate her.  I hate her so much it hurts.  I hate how she’s using them; using me.  Still, I have to do this.

“Fine,”  I said.  “It only attacked the van, and isn’t going for you.”

The ball bearing quickly darted towards me, striking my facemask that is attached to me helmet.  I fell backwards, stumbling.

“Ryan, no!”  shouted Event Horizon.  Nobody else moved, not even Ellen.

“Sounds like its owner was mad at hearing that,”  said Sacrifice.  “You think its owner is hiding or nearby?”

I didn’t care, blood dripped from a shard of plastic in my cheek.

“Fuck, don’t as-”

Sacrifice ran over and kicked me in the stomach.  “Answer me!”  she shouted.

This was a game to her.  Another way for her to assert her dominance.  She knew exactly what was going on.  I hate her so much.

“I think they are hiding or something!”  I shouted in response to her interrogations.

“Good, good,”  she replied, smiling.

I got up as she walked over to Event Horizon.  The ball bearing floated aggressively between her and Sacrifice.

“You were the team leader for the Juniors, weren’t you,”  she smiled, stroking EH’s hair back gently.

“I still am,”  she replied.  “Don’t touch me.”

“Lock that ball down.”

“Why should I?”  asked Event Horizon with a smug but scared look.

“Well, if you don’t I’ll just give a pledge to Texas here and now, and in about two hour-”

Event Horizon reacted before she could finish.

“Okay!”  she said, panicked at the thought of Sacrifice’s threat.  “I’ll do it!”

The ball bearing stopped moving.  Event Horizon winced a little.  Sacrifice walked away, into the open.

“It’s pulling hard,”  she complained.

“Suck it up, dearie,”  smiled Sacrifice.  She turned around to face us and yelled directly into the sky, arms outstretched and her body showing.

“Show yourself!  You can do it!”

No response.

“We’ll fight honestly!  Come on!”

Still no response.  Event Horizon’s foot dragged a little along the ground, prompting Bloodwitch to snigger.

“Fractal, get everyone but the leader in the van and dri-”  She was cut short with a loud fizzing sound behind her.

A young man with long, flowing golden hair stood right behind her, holding a motorcycle helmet in one hand with hos bike between his legs.

“I figured you’d have to show yourself if Event Horizon held onto your toy,”  gloated Sacrifice.  “Get lost or I’ll kill you.”

The young man smiled.  Event Horizon dropped to her knees in exhaustion as the ball bearing she held with her power fell to the ground.

“Don’t expect the King’s guard to be so pathetic,”  he smirked, sticking one hand into his pocket and placing his helmet on with the other.

Sacrifice was about to move, but Taker took control of the situation, much to my surprise.

“Sacrifice, don’t do that,”  he pleaded gently.  “It’s not fun that way.”

I looked at them and noticed that everyone was staring at Sacrifice, waiting.  Were they judging her?

Even Ellen did so.  I looked at Event Horizon as she groaned.  Our assailant huffed.

“War is not fun.  Protecting our King is a privilege.”  he stated with pride.

“Fine,”  said Sacrifice, after such a long stare down against what was the entirety of the Hunting Party.  “We’ll do it the fun way.”

She turned around, bowing.  “I bid you welcome, I am Sac-”

“Dear god woman! Put on some clothes!”  Interrupted the man, shocked.

“Who the fuck are you anyway?”  I finally asked, annoyed.  Just fucking kill her, or get out the way and let somebody else kill her.

He gave pause and looked at me, glad to be distracted from Sacrifice’s bosom.  Sacrifice gave me a nasty look.

“Why,”  said the man in full theatrics.  “I am a member of the king’s guard, Merly.”

 

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“Ellen! Ellen!”

Ellen turned around, giving one last look before running down the street.  I ran out the bedroom and bounded down the stairs after her.  She was faint in the distance but I was closing in as she ran away.  I can still catch her, I thought.

Ellen was nearly running out of breath as I finally caught up to her, grabbing her arm tightly and pulling to make her face me.  I caught Ellen.

“Ellen, it’s me,”  I said, barely audible as the rumbling increased around us.  “I can help, lis-”

Pain suddenly struck my neck both sharp and quick.  Ellen looked at me without a single flicker or any tell as I felt the metal of something pierce deeper into me.  I turned my eyes to look at what happened with care not to move my head too much, and I saw her slowly push the last few inches of a golden liquid into my veins via a syringe.  I knew exactly what happened.  Druggie’s formula pulsed through my veins yet again.  I looked on in horror as its effects hit me all at once, making me collapse to my knees with weakness.

Ellen caught me by the armpits, holding me up as I raised my head to face her.  I felt my vision blur slightly, with each heartbeat pounding in my chest painfully.

“-ot to follo-”

I couldn’t make out her words as the sounds became faded, distorted.  She looked nice from this angle.  I bet she was staying healthy.

“-at the he-”

Another voice.  Event Horizon.  I tried to raise my hand in an attempt to communicate, but it was no use.  I looked up at Ellen.  What was she saying?

“-ive this- -out he-”

More words, faint, barely audible.  Rumbling faded away with the finer details of Ellen’s face.  Ellen moved to my side, still holding me up.  I was nearly blind at this stage, the outside world was almost entirely gone.  The rumbling was a whisper, along with the faint sound of crying behind me.  I took a hesitant step into the blurry darkness, nearly falling over.  Ellen helped pick me up.

Wait, wasn’t Ellen kidnapped?  I soon took a turn somewhere, I think it was a left turn.  Was I still even on the pavement?  I hope Event Horizon if following me, I might need help.  Ellen needs help.

“Ellen,”  I murmured, dazed and confused.  “I missed you.  Derek missed you.”

Ellen continued walking me to somewhere.  Who was it that took her?  Did she leave?  My legs felt heavy, sluggish.  Everything seemed unreal as sounds came out heavily muffled and my vision distorted with each passing step.  A quick glance showed everything looking the same as I could only make out the sky due to the colours, and even that was difficult.

“I want to return, I hate this.”

I nearly tripped over rubble.  Ellen picked me back up, slowly.  She was gentle.  Our pace picked up.  More muffled talking.

“I want to go home, don’t you?”

A finger against my mouth silenced me.  I didn’t know if the words reached her.  I don’t know if I was even speaking, my body was numb.  My movements were rehearsed, less walking and more remembering how I would walk if this stuff wasn’t in me.  I need to ask her what that was.  I bumped against a wall as Ellen led me on.  Where was I?  I’ll find out later.

I finally stopped after a timeframe I can’t comprehend, and the weight of my body and my exhaustion made me fall over into softness.  I was unable to move.

What was I doing?

***

Still dazed, still weak.  I was moved to somewhere different from where I landed when Ellen let me go.  I took a moment to gather my bearings.  There were sounds, and it was dark.  Was I blindfolded?

“-kill her-”

“-fun tha-”

More muffled voices.  I could tell them apart.  The rumbling faded consistently.  I was being taken somewhere, quickly.  A car?  A train?  I tried to move my fingers.  No response.  I tried to speak.  No response.  Fuck.

“-ello, Ry-,”  said a familiar voice.  “-at’s your na-”

I let out a groan.

“Wow, -at stu- -as quite a – D-  -ook at -”  I could almost pin it down.

“Sacrifice?” I asked, dragging the ‘a’ and drooling over my chin.  I could feel my fingers, and move them.

“-ats out o- -ag now,”  she said, pulling my hood off.  I could smell the rancid stench of rotting meat.  My vision showed splotches of brown, red, peach, yellow and green, with red and black around me.  I assumed I was in a van, and the brown and peach was Sacrifice.

“Whats that phrase?  Fool me once? Fool me twice?”

Shame on me.

I tried to move my fingers.  Sacrifice grabbed both of my hands and brought them together in her lap.

“Listen here,”  she began.  I moved my head a little.  “you are going to help me and all my little buddies here, you understand?  Now, I’m not going to te-”

I spat on her face, straight through the mouth of the sheep’s head she was wearing.  It was hard not to smirk with my accuracy.

“That’s pretty dirty,”  she said, her tone changed.

“Fuck you,”  I replied.  “You ruined ev-”

I was struck in the face before I could finish.

“That’s dirty,”  she said again.

“Go fu-”

Another punch, harder, twice.  Blood trickled down my nose.  The softness of where I sat softened the blows.  Sacrifice got up, leaving me to realize I’m on the floor of a delivery truck.  I moved my arm to feel my face, but she stood on my hand as I raised it, twisting my fingers into the floor.

“Say that you are sorry,”  She said slowly and sternly.

“Fuck you, bi-”

This time she kicked me in the face.  My head hit the wall harder.  I spat out blood, and thankfully no teeth.  She walked across the van, away from me.

“Bloodwitch, over here,”  she said.  Bloodwitch stood up.

“Fuck you!”  I yelled, blood stopping me from articulating without spraying it everywhere.  “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!”

“When I give the order, kill Trauma.  Make is painful.”  Sacrifice ordered.

“Just when I was getting along, too.”  Bloodwitch remarked, sighing.

My heart sank.  I tugged at the belts tying my torso down.

“What!?  You can’t!”  I yelled in shock.

“Exactly. Say that you are sorry or I will kill her.”  Sacrifice hissed.

I paused, staring into her eyes.  They were a deep blue.

“Ten,”  she began.  “Nine, Eig-”

“Fine,”  I shouted, looking away.  “I-I am”  I hesitated.  Fuck this woman.

“I am what?”

“I’m Sorry.  There, I said it!”

“Not good enough,”  she replied.  “Seven, Si-”

“I’m sorry I spat in your face!”  I yelled, interrupting her.  I’m not losing a friend for this.  Not for her.

“Good,”  she said, smiling.  She brought my face up to look at hers.  “You now understand what your relationship truly is.”

She spat in my face and laughed, turning back to the others.

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Waiting was boring.  Screw that, waiting is boring.  I’ve been waiting for hours, tense as all hell.  War is going on out there, and we are supposed to just sit?  I groaned in frustration audibly.

“Christ, this is awful,”  said Stacker, still watching the news broadcasts as helicopters filmed the fights and newscasters pointed at diagrams of how the war is going.  The invasion was actually going nowhere, and Mexico was losing territory, fast.  “I don’t think there was a kingmaker war this bad before.”

“The first few were the worst,”  said Pivot, tinkering with a small thing made of metal, held together with a single metal wire.  “Especially Asia.”

I heard about it in World Politics. From the upper half of Australia to the southern Mongolian border was the largest, most dangerous Kingmaker nation ever.  When the Emperor of Asia was finally killed, many nations were irreparably altered.  Japan got it the worst.

“Ugh,”  said Unperson, figiting in her seat.  “Not a good thing to think about.”

Alliance was knocked off a Tower in the middle of nowhere.  A large wall constructed itself, leading to another tower that was being built nearby.

“Looks like the Texan capes are powerful,”  said Maxwell.  “What is that, it looks like that guy can make buildings out of nothing.”

Event Horizon sighed deeply.  The camera cut to another helicopter over the coastline.  A single Texan cape was holding back many others.  Jesus, these guys were stronger than I thought.

“So why are we even dressed up anyway,”  I finally asked, leaning back in my seat.

“The Seniors for the Oklahoma team are busy with the war effort,”  explained Event Horizon.  “Most capes are.”

“Doesn’t answer my question.”

“You think crime stops when the big guns go away? We are waiting for the first case of looting or whatever.”

“Shouldn’t we be patrolling at least?”  asked Unperson, mirroring my thoughts.

“It’s not just that. We are also reserves.  If too many capes die initially th-”

“They send us in as fodder, right?”  Latency said bluntly.

“Shit.  Yes,”  sighed Event Horizon, getting up.  “It’s fucking boring, but that’s the thing; we are too young and weak to be on the front lines.  Fuck, we are too weak to even be in this damn building.”

She paced across the room.  “God dammit, this is the worst.”

Pivot got up.  “If it’s about,”  she paused.  “Well, she’s okay.  Look.”  She showed Event Horizon the thing she was tinkering with.  It was a monitor, for a camera.  I thought about getting up to see what she was on about.

“She’s nowhere near the fight, see?”

“Family?”  asked Latency, getting up to see what they were crowding around.

“Yeah, I’m worried about her,”  replied Event Horizon, weaving her hands through her hair.  She quickly took a look at Pivot.  “Where is she, anyway?”

“She’s in the city, setting up barricades.”

“Why?”  asked Unperson.

“One of the Texan capes is coming towards us.”

Latency was shocked.  “And we are still dicking around in here? How the fuck would you know?”

“Cameras and news,” she replied, pointing at the screen.  A large bridge formed itself bit by bit as a single man ran across, carrying a metal spear in one hand.

The alerts turned on yet again.  “Attention all capable Junior Group members,”  the announcement began,  “The front-lines now cover Oklahoma City. You must aid in the evacuation and protection of the citizens of Oklahoma City at all costs.”

“Time to go,”  said Event Horizon.

 

***

 

We spread out throughout the town, directing civilians away from the fighting as it drew nearer.  The sound of rumbling was faint, but audible from the suburbs I stood in.

“Everyone head up north to the southwest expressway, then keep going.  There will be buses and other vehicles to help if you do not own a car,” I said, speaking into a megaphone.  A child tugged on my trousers.  “Who left the blonde haired boy with the green T-shirt and blue jeans?”

His mother ran across the street and picked him up in a single swoop, before apologizing and backing away slowly.   I felt a buzz in my ear from the earpieces Pivot gave us.

“Yeah?”  I asked, pressing it on.

“It’s me, E-H.  How’s the progress?”

“Not bad, a few more families to go.  This place is run down badly,”  I said, making sure the megaphone is off.

“Don’t whine about that.  Good luck, we’ll be done in an hour with the police helping us.”

“Ok, see ya.”  I said, letting the earpiece go.

I walked to the next area, a few streets away.  Run down buildings were guarded by unmown lawns.  A bike cassi lay in the middle of the street.  I couldn’t see many families, but so-

Ellen crossed the street in front of me.  Why was she here?  I walked up to her, reaching out instinctively.

“E-Ellen?”

She gave an aside glance, turning away and speeding up.  I followed her, my pace matching hers.  She quickly broke into a run and darted down an alley, myself following.

“Ellen, wait!”  I yelled.  She hopped over a garden fence, and another.  I ran round the other side of the alley.  There was a front door open in a nearby house, I charged into it hoping to cut Ellen off.  I burst through the door and saw Ellen perched on the fence.  She looked terrified.

“El-”

“Don’t follow me!”  she yelled.  I didn’t listen, reaching out to pull her down.  She jumped into the alley at the other side of the fence and broke into a run.  I climbed the fence, falling over into the alley before picking myself up.  I lost the earpiece, but it didn’t matter.  I could see Ellen again.

I ran in her direction, looking around.  The streets were all abandoned, the rumbling from the combat with Texas even louder than it was before.  A front door swung.  I ran into the house.  The back door was locked.

“Ellen!?”

A crashing sound upstairs.  I charged into the hallway, tripping over a wire for a plugged in lamp.

“Fuck,”  I muttered, picking myself up quickly and racing up the stairs.  I entered the main bedroom and began pulling open the cupboards.  She wasn’t there.  Why was she hiding?  I could help.  I could help her easy.  I wouldn’t let her go into the Cit-

The pitter patter of feet racing down the stairs.  I looked out the window and saw her running onto the road.

“Ellen!”  I screamed out the window.  “I can help!”

 

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4 | 2 : Problems

Posted: 07/20/2014 in Problems
Tags: , , , ,

I sat down next to pivot and watched as Gunsmith continued his lecture with Maxine and Derek.  I wasn’t really invested in what they were doing, as I knew they’d be fine.  I’m the one who finds it hard to learn, not them.

“So, Pivot,” I began, passing time.

“Yeah?”

“We still actually don’t know much about this whole Oklahoma thing.  I mean, there’s us, the rioters, there is that issue with Texas and that’s it.  What else is there?”

Pivot thought for a second, glancing at Gunsmith and Maxine.  They were busy talking about Actives.

“There isn’t much,”

I looked dumbfounded.  “Not much? Like just us and the rioters?”

“Yeah.  There are three more minor gangs laying around that’s it for the big groups.  Most people moved out since there are more capes working for companies and such here, and a few UN capes too, because of Texas,”  she said, shifting in her seat.

“Why?”

“Kingmaker’s powers have a weird timer for each war.  Three weeks from now, and the borders open.  We’ve basically been conscripted for a war against the king of Texas,”  she looked down while saying it, avoiding eye contact.  There was no doubt in my mind that this was the reason as to why there were recent openings in the junior group roster.

“Damn,”  I said to myself.  “Are we the front lines or is it not that bad?”

Pivot looked up at me.  “If the borders open, they’ll open everywhere. Mexico, USA, plenty of companies and whoelse will probably be involved.  It’s not like a real war in that regard,”  she explained.

“Not like a real war?”

“Well, the Kingmaker nations that have opened up and got ‘conquered’ for lack of a better term had a lot of interesting technology and other things inside.  It seems to be a passive effect of the borders, because everything gets mucked up like ecology, and stuff like special strains of crops and such are made to fix those issues,”  she took a pause, calmer now.  “They say a Kingmaker war could end world hunger, if it wasn’t for all the politics with the EU, UN and other groups trying to take it all for themselves.  It’s sad, really.  There is a lot of good that could happen but politicians still want everything the can get.”

She looked a little tense.  I decided to interrupt and cut the conversation down before anything happens.  That and she was beginning to distract Derek, who was glancing at us with Event Horizon.

“So it’s a scramble, then?”  I asked.

“Yeah, it is.”

I got up.  “I’m going to get a drink, Maxine and Derek can handle themselves better than me to be honest,”  I said.  Pivot relaxed even more.

“Yeah, whatever.  Do what you want.”  she said.

Honestly, Oklahoma seemed boring.  I wondered how Micheal and Ricky were doing.  I also wondered about Ellen.

 

***

 

“Ryan,”  said a voice.

“Yeah?”  I replied.

What was this dream again?

“You didn’t have to give me your jacket,”  said Ellen, standing beside me.

Oh, now I remember.

“It’s raining though, You’d not want to catch a cold.”

Ha ha, how stupid of me to forget this.  This was a year ago.  My stupid mistake.  Honestly, I couldn’t remember what I said at the time, mostly out of sheer embarrassment.  At least it didn’t ruin my friendship with her, I think.

There was a pause, a long heart rendering pause in time between us.

“You like me, don’t you?”  she said.

I looked at her and saw Sacrifice, wearing my jacket.  She was naked, smiling up at me through the mask she had made of Ellen’s face.  Blood trickled down her neck and over her breasts. I took a step back and she approached me at the same pace.

“Don’t lie, Ryan.  I like you too.”  she said.

I woke up in a sweat, wiping my forehead with my arm while contemplating seeing a shrink.  It was 6 AM.  Too early.  I looked around and the room I was given was bare as it was the day I got here.  I’m starting to hate Oklahoma.

I got up and walked over to the desk next to my bed, picking up my toothbrush and toothpaste.  I walked over to the bathroom in a sleep deprived daze.  Three knocks, no response.  I opened the door and walked over to the sink, splashing my face in cold water and beginning to brush my teeth.

God, I really hate mornings.

Once I was done, I put everything back in my room and looked about for a towel of some sort, and walked to the male shower room once I found one.  Stacker was busy in there.

“Hey, Blocker,”  he joked, massaging his golden, curly hair.

“Don’t call me that, I have enough problems as it is,”  I replied with a yawn.

“Yeah, but still.  I’m sure people warned you.”

I smiled at that.  I hadn’t smiled in a while at anything, really.

“Yeah, they did.  Better than what I could ever come up with,”  I said, starting to wash my hair.

“What would you have chosen?”

“I don’t know, Equalizer?  I’m sure most of the good names are taken anyway.”

“Yeah, that was taken.  Us poor newbies have to deal with legacy names or shit,”  Stacker said, turning off his shower.  “See you later.”

I think I forgot that guy’s actual name.

 

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Quiet.  Silent.  Everything was Nothing and she was alone with her thoughts.  Who would want to talk to you?  It’s all your fault.  You’re going to cause nothing but misery, forever.  It’s all your fault.  You deserve this.

Ellen’s mind raced, and it could only hurt her.  She was not allowed to talk to anyone, not after what she did.  The guards were blocked from even seeing her, she was that horrific.  Confined to a nearly impossible degree, with gags, blindfolds, chains, cuffs and straight-jackets all supported with a complex metal contraption suspending her in place.  All that was was all her thoughts; all her thoughts were all that was.  She waited and hoped for the occasional jolt of the van as it took her to the city kept her awake. Anything to make the Ellen in her mind go away, or be distracted for a moment.

You don’t deserve to live. You killed them.

Ellen couldn’t escape her own thoughts for even a single second.  It hurt.

Did it feel good?  Having her die because you didn’t want to hear me for just a little longer?

A thousand accusations, a thousand spiteful words pierced her with precision that proved to her it was her own mind doing this.  Her very soul was trying to drive her insane.

She loved you, and you said those filthy, evil words.

It was working.

And guess what?  You get to go free.  I’m sure Uncle Jonathon will be proud.

A violent jolt of the van changed her mind for a second.

Oh my.  It appears you’ve caused even more death.

Metal tearing, shouting, screaming, gunshots.  Nothing.

They had kids.  Both of them.

More metal being torn, louder, more pronounced.

And now it’s your turn.  You’ll spread misery forever, without fail.  You disgust me.

“This her?”  a ragged voice asked.

“Yeah, this is the one,”  answered what sounded like a young girl’s.  “Taker, take out the bits we don’t need once I’ve tapped her.”

Pain.

 

***

 

Ellen woke up to find herself alone.

No voice.  It was gone.  She got up and realized he was free.  She was free, and there wasn’t that constant voice in her head telling her how horrible she was every second she wasn’t near Ryan, and she could move and walk and speak and-

“So you took out her will to die?”

Ellen shot around and saw them. Seven Humanoid figures and a giant spider.  She’s seen weirder teams of capes before.  Unlike Ryan she actually bothered with reading cape news and gossip, rather than instinctively sneering and going for the remote.  She recognized them already.  The Hunting Party.  She was back in the clutches of the hunting party.

Sacrifice, Druggie, Fractal, Glutton and Jawbreaker stood in a group.  They were finished off by three of their other members whom the news reported as visiting Asia at the time they attacked Norfolk.  Taker, Bloodwitch and Kumo.

 

“Why are you here?”  she asked.  Or more correctly, that is what she meant to ask.  What she actually said was “Ahh, Munroe.  You think you can save this little girl, too?”

A brief moment of horror crossed Ellen’s face as Bloodwitch slapped her across the face, sending her across the room.

“Taker, she told you to take out all the bits we don’t need,”  Bloodwitch snarled at Taker, her veins visibly popping from her powers.

“Now now, I was only having a joke.  It’s not like you’d kill yourself anyway,”  replied Taker, adjusting his glasses.  “Though if you let me take something of similar value, I’d give you back your death…”

“Back off, you fucking creep,”  Bloodwitch replied, a spear of blood shooting out of her arm and touching Taker’s neck.

Glutton suddenly jumped and bit down on the blood spear, breaking it.  He shot a look at both of them and resumed eating his burger.

“Enough,”  ordered Sacrifice calmly.  “We have many experiments to run in the future.  Taker?  Take these things,” she handed Taker a note of paper.  He smiled while looking at the list and walked over to Ellen, who just managed to stand up.  Ellen turned to run and began to look for a door or a window.

“It’s no use, dear.”  said Taker, slowly walking towards her.  “I took away the exits.”

“Clara, help me!”  Ellen cried.  Bloodwitch clenched her fist and looked away.  “Don’t let it happen!  Don’t just stand there watching again!”

Taker got even closer.  Ellen tried to make another run for it but she froze.  She suddenly fell to her knees and put her hands behind her head.  Bloodwitch was using her powers on her.

Ellen panicked, struggling to speak.  “Clara, please!  I didn’t mean it! You said you’d prote-”

“You aren’t her!”  shouted Bloodwitch, visibly angered.  Ellen shut up, reduced to sobbing.

Taker reached her, and placed his and on her head.

“Loyalty to your friends, family and everyone else bar us.”

A surge of blood rushed through Ellen’s head.

“Please, Danny… It wasn’t their fault,”  she whispered to Taker.

“Your ability to use your power on us.”

Another surge of blood.

Ellen could actually say what she wanted to.  “Please, stop this.”

“Your ability to betray us or rebel against us in any form.”

Another surge of blood, heavier than the last.

“And finally, your will to leave us.”

It was done.  As the last pulses of blood ran through her head and she heard the tinnitus slowly pass by.  Even her thoughts changed.  Ellen was still scared, still frightened, but now she feels no need to escape, to try and run away.  She looked up at Taker as he took his hand away.

“Why?”

“We always take a new member from each experiment,”  smiled Sacrifice.  Ellen remembered a small detail about her; she used to be a well known metahuman researcher.  Her experiments have come to this?  Awful.

“It’s a way to keep on having fun.”

“I see.”  Ellen wasn’t disagreeing.  Only loyalty to the Hunting Party remained.  It pained her to admit so, just a little.

Sacrifice walked closer to her, wearing a bull’s head instead of the goat she last saw.  She placed her hand on Ellen’s shoulder.

“You are now Trauma,”  she said gently.  Ellen got up, allowed to move again.  Sacrifice turned to the rest of the Hunting Party. She clapped her hands and spun around in a mischievous manner.

“Who wants to see the current situation of Texas?” she asked.

Kumo was the first to reply.

“Why go Texas?”   the spider hissed.

“Because, Kumo, I want to study the Effects of Druggie’s formula on a Kingmaker victim.  The King of Texas is conveniently nearby, and he’s going to open up soon anyway.  Kingmakers need to wage wars and Texas hasn’t had one in 15 years,”  she replied.

Kumo didn’t respond.

 

I was woken up at roughly 7:00 AM.  Not the time I’d normally get up, but I had no real complaints.  I needed every second to think.  Breakfast was served at 8:00.  Sorta okay-ish factory food.  Light and fluffy.

At 10:00 AM, everything changed.

The intercom in my cell buzzed.  “There is a visitor for you, Ryan,”  said Alliance.

I could only guess as to whom it was.  My parents.  I’d only given them a brief thought when I’d been caught in Norfolk.  I guess I didn’t want to have them see me.

The cell door clicked and a pair of guards led me to an interrogation room.  I couldn’t hear or tell if any of the others were in their cells as I was walked by.  In the Interrogation room was my Mother, Father, Alliance and two others.  One was wearing a NHN badge woven into his blazer.  The other was a bald, fat man seated next to my mom, wearing a suit and holding several folders next to a briefcase.

“Mr. Anderson,”  said the man whom I guessed was a lawyer,  “It is a pleasure to meet you.  I’m Sterling Washington, your lawyer for now.”  He offered a hand to shake.  I did so.

My mom stood up from her seat from between dad and Mr Washington and grabbed me in a tight hug.  “I missed you, I thought you were…”  She trailed off and squeezed tighter.  I couldn’t breathe.

“Mom,”  I tried weakly.

“Susan Anderson, your son is turning blue.”  said Sterling.  She let me go and grabbed my head, giving me one last kiss on the forehead.

She nearly broke down.  “I’m sorry, it’s just…”

“I understand, I just didn’t want the boy to faint,”  the lawyer joked.  Mom smiled as she sat back down.  I noticed that my father had been tapping his fingers on the table the whole time, impatiently.

I found a seat at the table and sat down and the NHN agent began to speak.

“Good morning,”  he began,  “I’m Agent Williams of the National Heroes Network.  I’m sure you all have an understanding how serious this situation is for the young Ryan Anderson here.  He is not only going to have to be held for Analysis and Risk Assessment according to the Incontinent Powers Detainment and Analysis Act, but he may also be charged with one account of vandalism, one account of hijacking and five accounts of complicity with Indefinite detainment with a Power.”  Dad looked at me.

“Um,” I stuttered, interrupting Williams. “Can I ask a question?”  I was asking my lawyer more than the NHN Agent across the table.  Washington gave me the go ahead.

“Yes, you may.”  said Agent Williams.

“Does indefinite mean it’s forever?  Like you can’t end it?”  I asked.  Agent Williams looked at me funny.

“Yes, why do you ask that?”

Alliance jumped into our conversation.  “Sources tell me young Ryan here has a form of neutralization that can free the five victims.”  Williams shot a surprised glance at Alliance and then at me, before clearing his throat to bring the discussion back to what he was saying.

“Well, I guess those circumstances may have to be considered.”

My lawyer broke into the discussion this time.  “I do suspect that if you already know about his powers, you’ll have no need to do any analysis,”

“We are actually considering a compromise for Ryan and his friends.  It is the same we offer to every metahuman under 18 we have encounters with; a probationary contract with the NHN Junior Group,”  replied the Agent.

I cocked my eyebrow.  “Was Ri- Plural offered this?”

“Yes, he was.”

“And if my son does?”  my father finally spoke.  “What then?”

“As I said, it’s merely a probat-”  my father interrupted the Agent.

“Not that.  What about the fact that he’s known, that Micheal is known, that all of his friends are currently on the internet and on WANTV?  You do know that one of their classmates was talking about them.  Personal details about my son.”

The agent took a second to compose himself.  Most people did, my father was very threatening when he spoke, and the idea that me and my friends had become famous overnight was actually daunting.

“Nothing can be done, I’m afraid.  Sorry about that, Thomas.”

Dad was stunned, a little.  Reputation wasn’t much for him, but he liked to preserve what little he had gained.  becoming one of the parents of  ‘those kids who became incontinents from a supervillain’ wouldn’t bode well for him.  It wouldn’t bode well for anyone’s family.  Revenge was still in my heart.  I didn’t know why, but hearing dad reinvigorated it.  For the worst reason possible, I wanted to do something.

“I’ll do it.”  I said.

Agent Williams tried to hide his smile.  He nearly failed.

 

***

 

After a discussion with both my lawyer and my parents I’d agreed to join the NHN Junior Group if my results from the Risk Assessment test came back with a number lower than 4.  From my interview and the few tests I’d received I’d only gotten a 2. They also asked me to explain what I knew of my friend’s powers. Maxine and Derek in particular.  I’d stated a little about them, like how Derek’s loops stopped nearby me and Maxine’s power fails when I go near her, and they did a lot of comparing and discussion in some committee while I waited back in my cell.  I was still unsure of where everyone was, but after two days I was brought back for the second test and saw them.

I’d ended up wearing the issued clothing put in our cells.  Shirt, trousers, boxers, and socks.

The Powers Analysis test was mainly a feedback discussion.  I’d been brought to a large round table with chairs along with Mr. Washington.  Micheal was here, I could tell by the glowing.  He was wearing something that made it dimmer, but I still couldn’t look at him.  I sat down on a seat that had a piece of paper with my name on it.  Ellen was nowhere to be seen.

“Hey,”  I said to everyone.  “I missed you guys.”

Maxine looked in my direction.  I noticed her and Derek wore the same grey clothing as me, but Maxine wore a pair of goggles over her eyes.  They probably did something to help her with her powers.

“Good to see you again,”  said Micheal.  He was still loud, regardless of how his new clothes dulled down is piercing glow.

“Good evening,”  Agent Washington began,  “Again, I’m Agent Washington, the Proctor for this discussion.  Your lawyers are here with you because of the nature of what we are about to talk about.  As you already know, we have taken and assembled notes and summaries of your powers and placed a copy of the penultimate revision on the folders in front of your chairs.  These files are the subject of discussion for today.  You all may each ask as many questions as you like.”

“Where the hell is Ellen?”  asked Maxine.  She looked cross, or I thought she did.  The goggles hid her eyes too effectively for me to tell.

“I can not legally tell you.  I’m sorry.”

“What can you tell us?”

“Ellen… failed to meet the qualifications we asked for you all to meet.  On the Risk Assessment test, she scored a 7.”

A seven.

“What?”  I blurted out in surprise.  “How could she get a seven, she had no powers at all!”

Sterling gave me an odd look and put his hand on his chin.  Agent Washington sighed deeply, his head held firmly in his hands.

“I understand your concerns, Ryan.  It’s just that she did manifest powers and those powers did have a dangerous effect.”

Maxine slammed her hands on the table, causing her lawyer to jump slightly.  “I can fucking erase people from memory when I look at them and Derek freezes people in time! What the fuck could Ellen do that’s worse!?”  She was angry.  I would be too.  Alliance tensed up slightly.

“I can’t tell you right now.  I apologize.”

Maxine’s lawyer put her hand on her shoulder, calming her down.  She begrudgingly sat back down, looking at her folder.  My lawyer had spent the meantime ignoring the commotion and reading mine.  He offered it to me.

I looked at the file.

PROFILE OF NATIONAL HEROES NETWORK JUNIORS PROBATIONARY MEMBER

I looked further down, skipping personal details like my age and name.  They were all correct.

Power(s): DETECTION BASED POWER NULLIFICATION.

Activation Classification: INCONTINENT PASSIVE.

Detection based?  I decided to ask.

“Um, Agent Williams, Why does it state my powers are Detection based?”

The agent was relieved to see people actually discuss something other than Ellen’s unsure fate.

“It appears that you can only nullify aspects of powers you are aware of or have been told about.”

“I see.”  The discussion went back and forth several times, with no real changes made.  None of us had made a mention to the fact our powers had grown stronger, or that we were unsure if they’d stop.  I had a feeling they already knew.  I also had a feeling we were too afraid to say it out aloud.

five minutes had passed.

“I see we have a unanimous agreement on the penultimate iterations of the profile folders given, am I correct?”

The lawyers and us all nodded and gave murmurs of agreement.

“Well then,”  he said.  “Congratulations to everyone present.  You are all official members of the NHN Junior Group under probationary contract.  Tomorrow you’ll all be given your assignments and meet with Public Relations.  You can leave now.”

I got up first.  I needed time to think.  To think about Ellen.

 

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There was a circle of disdain and fear around all of us.  They had distanced themselves enough to be out of reach but they had still clearly formed an impressive mob.  If I was in their shoes, I’d have done exactly the same thing.  Incontinents are dangerous.  We are dangerous.

“Lets go,”  I said to everyone.  We walked out as they pierced us with their eyes.  I looked over to Maxine.  She wasn’t taking it well at all.

We saw Derek in the car park outside the motel.  He’d caught up with the robbers and he’d frozen them just like his parents at his house.  One drew his gun over and over. The one who had grabbed the cashier was turning around, with her over his shoulder..  The one holding the bags of loot was still running.

We all half jogged half walked over to Derek.  He turned to see us and began to speak when we reached him and my power turned him to normal again.

“Look, I know thi-”

Maxine struck him hard in the face.  He fell right on his back.

“Holy shit, you knocked him out!”  yelped Ellen in surprise.

Maxine kicked Derek in the stomach.  He began coughing.

“Why the fuck would you do that!?”  she screamed.  Another kick, this time to the crotch.  I squirmed internally. Micheal gave a small grunt.

“What the fuck is wrong with you!?”

Micheal grabbed Maxine and pulled her off Derek, who was clearly trying not to throw up.  I didn’t move.  If anything, I wanted to kick Derek myself.  He’d fucked everything up for us, after all.  Maxine struggled relentlessly against Micheal’s hold.

“Max, calm down,”  said Micheal.  “This isn’t worth it.”

“Let go of me Micheal!  This fucker is only causing problems!”  Maxine screamed at everyone, tears welling up.  “First Ricky gets caught in Norfolk, and now this!”  Ellen slapped Maxine hard across the face.

“Shut up.”  she ordered.

Several seconds passed.  Maxine finally broke down in tears, no longer struggling to break free.  She stopped after five minutes.

Ellen was the first to break the silence.  “We should just go to Virginia City.”

Maxine picked herself up.  “I’m not going,”  she said softly.

“What?”

“I’m not going, Ellen.  Why should I?”  It was clear the toll was too much for her.  Her powers, Ricky, the mall, the motel…  it all culminated in her.  “Why the fuck should I go and do something I never really wanted to do?”

I couldn’t respond.  This whole revenge plan was poorly thought out, by both me and Micheal.  Ellen was the first to try and convince her otherwise.

“You want to spend the rest of your life locked up?”

Maxine only gave a curious glance at Ellen in response.

“We’re all going to be locked up regardless of anything,”  she explained, shrugging.  “It’s the law.”

“I don’t fucking care anymore!”  yelled Maxine as she turned and ran for Larry’s truck that we had stolen.  I quickly recalled we had forgotten to take the keys with us. That, and she was about to leave my range.

“Shit,”  I muttered to myself, running for Maxine.  Micheal and Ellen reacted too slowly and a glow shot out of nowhere from behind.  Maxine reached the door and was about to open it when I tackled her to the floor.  She punched the side of my head as I held onto her stomach.

“Stop it,”  I said while she pounded me in my temple with her fist.  She hit me one last time and I grabbed for her arm with my left hand, missing entirely.  She struggled free.

“Fuck off Ry-”  she yelled before a look of shock came across her face.  “Fuck.”

I got up and grabbed her by the arm. She pointed behind me to where I guessed Ellen and Micheal still stood.  I turned around and saw them.

Alliance and Queen ware behind me.  Queen tossed a pair of handcuffs at the ground in front of us.  “Put them on.”

Maxine picked them up instantly, and then hesitated.  I just looked at them, almost reaching.

“Put them on.”

Maxine clicked the cuffs around her wrists.  I tried my hardest to refuse, but a deep feeling of dread was building up within me. I reached again, slowly, and picked up the second pair.

“Put them on, Ryan”

If I don’t put these cuffs on, she’ll kill me.  I snapped the handcuffs around my wrists and suddenly relaxed.  Queen’s power is the most unnerving thing I’ve experienced.

I looked over to Ellen, Derek and Micheal, squinting to get the glow out of my eyes.  They’d been caught too.

 

***

 

We’d all been thrown into a convoy of vans.  Me and Maxine in one, Derek and Micheal in another and Ellen all by her self.

There were two rather well masked guards in each van holding funny looking guns, and from what I could guess from our situation, a hero from the National Heroes Network sat on the bench the opposite side of us.  Our van had the grace of Alliance with us.  I turned to look at where the driver’s compartment was and noticed the LCD monitor embedded on the wall.  I could see our reflection in it.

Both I and Maxine looked like shit.  Her face was red from crying, her shirt dirty from falling over and punching Derek in the face and her denim skirt was both ripped and covered in white paint.  I was both covered in dirt and tired.

“Hey, you know you might not get locked up,”  said Ricky as both of him took off their riot masks.

Ricky was both the faceless goons.  Maxine shot a look of surprise.

“What the fuck,” she exclaimed with shock.

I looked at Alliance.  He smiled.

“You can tell them, Plural,”  he said to Ricky.  No, not Ricky.  Apparently he’s called Plural now.  They are called Plurals?  Clones are weird.

Both Plurals looked at me and Maxine.  “You should know the Incontinent Detainment and Analysis Act only covers the procedures of what will have to happen when someone gets powers they can’t control,”  said both Plurals simultaneously.  “After that, what happens is essentially up to the National Heroes Network.”

Maxine didn’t say a thing.  She didn’t need to.  This is what we all needed to hear.

Alliance crashed the celebrations early.

“That’s if you are not deemed dangerous,”  he said.  “If any of you are deemed a passive threat there is the NHN Containment City.”

I could feel Maxine’s heart shatter.  The City.  Even I heard of the stories.  The only place in the universe with true power nullification.  I thought about my own powers for a second.  Maybe I’m immune, or I have a similar power as to the Mayor of Containment City…

“But first, you’ll have to be evaluated,”  Alliance stated, breaking my train of thought.  “We’ll be going to Casen City HQ for that.”

I looked at Maxine again.  I’d been paying a lot of attention to her after Norfolk.  She’d taken a lot on her and to be truthful, I’d not be surprised if she was sent to the City.  She probably thought it was all but guaranteed to be her fate.

“What if one of our powers is bad, but not that bad?” I asked while gesturing.

Alliance thought for a moment.  “That’s not my place to decide, but I’ll put in a good word.”

The rest of the trip to Casen City was silent.

 

***

 

As everyone got out of all of the vans in the convoy, we looked at the National Heroes Network HQ.  It was big, imposing, had a front made almost entirely of glass with two statues.  Alliance, Queen, six Plurals and a final cape I could not remember led us through the doors of the building. Me, Micheal, Ellen, Maxine and Derek were all walked through the main lobby, which had a sizable population of civilians and Grunts working for the NHN everywhere.  Some were in a gift shop, some were at reception.  Government sponsorship get you places,  I thought to myself.

Civilians saw us still cuffed as we walked to the other end of the lobby and a few whispers managed to creep into my ears.

“Aren’t those kids from the video?”  said one voice of curiosity.

“Can the heroes handle them if they go berserk again?”  muttered one voice of fake concern.

We were walked downstairs to a temporary holding area.  Probably the jail cells many villains spent their final days in before being moved to the City, Lotus Island or the Basin.  We were given a cell each.  There weren’t any other occupants.

“You’ll sleep here for the night,”  said Alliance to us all.  “We’ll do the analysis in the morning.”

I looked around.  The cell was lit, but not blindingly so.  Just enough light that we’d see.  There was a bed with a pile of clothes on top. I walked over and picked them up.  Cheap prison clothes, dyed an ugly shade of grey.  There was a small desk nailed to the floor and a monitor embedded on the wall.  A shower was in the corner.

I shoved the clothes onto the floor and lay in the bed.  I needed the sleep.

 

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