[Book] Villainous (WIP)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction & Creative Writing' started by Grimoire, Aug 1, 2018.

  1. Grimoire

    Grimoire Well-Known Member

    Jun 15, 2018
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    [Strong Graphic Imagery, Vulgarity, Sexual Content, Drugs and Alcohol Use:
    Viewer Discretion is Advised]
    Thank You

    Setting is the year 2000, five continents situated in three oceans and archipelagos litter the seas in between continents, one of the continents is known as De Leona governed by a meritocratic republic in control of twenty-five states. The United States of Delamas is the ruling government body with the Consul of Merits acting as the Senate and Congressional Parliament as the Executive and Legislative powers. Each state is given five representatives to present the ideal candidates to represent the states as their Merit Counsilman in all facets of their contributions to society of their provinces. Representatives convene in Sierra Demas, the capital of the United Nations and of the United States to determine actions and measures for the longevity of the country and their foreign powers. Through the Consul, representatives make proposals based on the Three-Fifths Accord which pass to the Congressional Parliament where Congressman will follow the same Accord on the varied proposals and pass into legislation.

    In opposition to the United States is the Directorate of Socialists Republics, a rival superpower on the other side of the world with two oceans separating them from both the east and west. The Soviet Directorate, as they were deemed, are a strong nation driven by an overwhelming expansionist campaign that controlled half of the first world in 1940 until the United States of Delamas founded the United Nations as a deterrent for Trans-Horizon campaigns. During World War 1, the Directorate were stopped in their plans in developing nuclear weaponry as soldiers in the United Nations’ classified: “Atlas Project” were sent to defuse the tensions in the Duvali Armament Incident off the coast of De Leona’s southern coastal archipelagos ran by Soviet inspired Banana Republics.

    With the Atlas Project revealed to the world, these super soldiers became the embodiment of what real heroes were aspired to be. The leader of these heroes was Atlas, the Armstrong hero, who was sent across the globe seeking out others who had the potential of possessing special abilities. When word got around of Atlas’s pilgrimage, many people across the world also reveal their existences in hopes to be accepted into society. With the United Nations overseeing the Atlas Project, ambassadors settled on a solution to the growing population of meta-humans littering the globe. Using the United States as a proving ground for developing and training meta-humans in honing their abilities to better serve their respective countries, the UN along with the Directorate agreed to an Armistice and a Diplomatic Agreement in lieu of the existence of the meta-human population within their own borders.

    In 1985, forty years after the signing of the Atlas Initiative, countries fought over the use and training of meta-humans and many of them resorted to small skirmishes battling over resources and espionage campaigns starting a Cold War era between countries retreating from the Soviet Directorate. Multiple countries formed in the eastern block of the Soviet capital of Kremia flagging new republics, democracies and theocratic patronages with one taking the mantle of the Holy Empire of Genova. The Holy Empire, or coined as Imperial Genova, is settled as a strong naval nation with both aerial and naval supremacy on the borders of many countries masquerading as a neutral power. In 1998, the Imperial Genova has since come under fire for their many corporate espionage and monopoly on most overseas businesses between the two sides of the world often supplying both the United States and Soviet Directorate while lining their own pockets with resources and influence in scrupulous circles of power.

    Now in Present Day, The United States and Soviet Directorate are in talks over a Peace Agreement with the Imperial Genova delegates relief and exchanges to both countries during this transition. With tensions even higher than ever before, the world continues to watch as the two countries are a few years closer to resolving a century of bloodshed and war. But behind closed doors, figures opposing this reality grow even bolder and have their own plans for the future of the world. With the Armistice being fragile to the United States, the Soviet Directorate prepare for a continuation for open war should the the agreement failed to deliver fruitful futures and the US still serving as a hub for all meta-humans is posed to strike hard and fast in retaliation of failed negotiations.

    In the United States of Delamas, the central state of the southern region of De Leona hugging the coastal seas of the Revy’s Republic is the metropolis of New Haven. New Haven is a huge expanse of land encompassing the entire state Damascus with small towns and hamlet dotting the outskirts of the city in rural areas heavily industrialized for agriculture. The metropolis is one of many cities that cater to the Atlas Initiative and the acting Silicon Valley for all technological wonders of the world. Flying vehicles, particle accelerators, wireless phones, 3-D printing, cold fusion, customizable augmented suits and fully integrated schools outfitted with prototype technology to improve generational growth of the populace and their education with their use. In the era of Information, technology is rapidly expanding with scientists and researching stumbling upon new and invigorating discoveries in bot meta-human and human advances. With meta-humans at the forefront of most discoveries, medical advances have even achieved the level of miraculous recovery from even the most severe case of injuries and diseases with the inventions such as stimulated healing packages (stimpacks) and cybernetic enhances.

    But the metropolis is not without it’s dark side, with unemployment dipping further as mechanized machinery take most of the manufacturing positions and agricultural aspects, people riot in the streets against the overdependence of technology for both job markets where education is stacked heavily against those without specialized degrees or meta-human levels of abilities. Crime increased as the result of the widening gap of the rich and well educated versus the uneducated and poverty stricken with many resorting to the black market, manufacturing of illegal copies of goods from the companies that once employed them. Aside from the crime rate, citizen are expected to find their businesses to be destroyed or missing from conflicts between Heroes and Villains battling the streets of the metropolis as meta-human also face the same issues.

    New Haven is a tarnish jewel that once stood brilliantly, shadowed by corruption and risks living in this city but also a place where anyone can be anything they want to be should they brave the untamed city and the adherent principles it stands for.
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    #1 Grimoire, Aug 1, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
  2. Grimoire

    Grimoire Well-Known Member

    Jun 15, 2018
    Chapter 1: Growing Pains

    Undisclosed location within New Haven, isolated from the outside, the building below the surface is a series of corridors and separate rooms with separating partitions and checkpoints cordoning each section. Fifteen levels of the facility houses: three labs, a large individualized containment cells layering four levels, a medical ward, three operation theaters, recovery wards and decontamination levels. Of these rooms, housing within them are the researchers, scientists and security guards of unknown origin as well as imprisoned test subjects.

    One the Containment Level, two individuals are walking along the catwalk overlooking the individual cells within the sterile white walls, stainless steel and plastic coated railings all seamlessly integrated into the design of the level’s architecture. Each cell is a five by five cubicle with a tempered scratch and blast resistance glass casing with holes at the tops of each venting recycled oxygen coming through centralized air conditioning units somewhere on the level. A prisoner is given a ceramic cots with white sheets and a metallic utility sink and toilet and a single fluorescent bulb lighting fixture barred by the same casing as the doors running along the ground at ankle level. On the catwalks, guards are dragging heavily sedated prisoners to and from each cell to their respected areas while the two individual stop to observe one of the prisoner in particular.

    Stopping at Cell A-8 on the fourth level of the containment facility, one individual turns to the other holding up a tablet like device moving research data and video logs between screen tabs.

    Scientist: “We must proceed with the next procedure”
    Researcher: “Subject Eight’s threshold can’t sustain another session”
    Scientist: “Put him in Quarentine and limit the inhibitors to every ten minute intervals”

    Another individual enters the conversation as they take a brisk walk towards them, they hand the scientist a tablet with readings and analytical data with a graphic fluctuating.

    Researcher #2: “Dr. Serano, they’re ready for you in Operating Theater two”
    Dr. Serano: “I’m on my way”
    Researcher #2: “There’s also a message being sent through Communications, it sounded urgent.

    As the three individuals speak, a prisoner is carted through the level on a crash cart strapped to the support guards holding them in place rushing them to the cells below using the crate elevator at the end of the corridor.

    Researcher #1: “Was that Subject Eleven?”
    Researcher #2: “Yes, Subjects three, five and nine perished along with our data at Blacksite X-ray this morning.”
    Researcher #1: “They’re the only survivor?”
    Dr. Serano: “Survivor? She’s what caused it”
    Researcher #2: “Should we follow the same containment procedures for eleven?”
    Dr. Serano: “No, Eleven broke containment. We will have to make an invoice to the Retention Bureau recover samples of the site to determine our next course of their containment procedures should our temporary measures fail.”
    Researcher #1: “How could they have gotten out? They were submerged in solid concrete, nobody can escape a five feet thick slabs of concrete without drowning.”
    Dr. Serano: “Maybe that was the point”

    Dr. Serano takes the two tablets and folds the plastic and velvet coverings over the screens and tucks them under his arm, taking his leave. Exiting the Containment Level, the scientist passing into a checkpoint cordoned off by the tempered glass in two sections. Entering the checkpoint and passing through the various scanning devices and scanning his keycard on the kiosk, he’s let into the next area of the facility. On his way up one level he meet another checkpoint only to enter the security booth and through a restricted area labeled “Com Center”. Entering the room is a strip of desks with a touch screen tablet in individual cubbies and a partition separating at least twenty-four inches above the sides, on each desk is a plastic case embedded within it holding a pair of earphones which loop over the ears. Dr. Serano sits as one of the desks and setups up his screen to establish an outside line, the screen rings as another person picks-up the line with a voice modulator masking their voice and default Anonymous profile taking full screen.

    Dr. Serano: “Callsign”
    Anonymous: “Foxtrot-Echo-Lambida-Indigo-Xray”
    Dr. Serano: “Callsign Approved”
    Anonymous: “Central wants a status update at site Charlie”
    Dr. Serano: “Data recovery is at a crawl, intake of subjects from site X-ray with no prior biometric data, no identification chips and surviving researchers to confirm our latest intel.”

    Anonymous: “What do you have recovered?”
    Dr. Serano: “X-ray is responsible for extraction of genetic material from foreign dignitaries, as such, the value of their genome is priceless should the research they couple with turn up. Files extracted from the servers are partially corrupted, holotapes, phone records, audio logs have been corrupted or perished in the fire in the site’s ignition.”

    Anonymous: “And the subjects question”
    Dr. Serano: “Eleven is temporarily contained as ordered. As far as their condition is concerned, minor bruising and burns on thirty percent of their body between mid section of the their torso and upper right arm. Analysis of the wound determined that the burns resulted in close proximity to explosive rounds, Eleven poses a risk if the shrapnel isn’t removed before the next step in our procedure stated in the addendum prior to the start of experimentation.”

    Anonymous: “The others?”
    Dr. Serano: “Bagged and Tagged for disposal on-site as ordered”
    Anonymous: “Central will want a full debrief on the intel packages you’ve recovered”
    Dr. Serano: “What of our request for aid in the construction of a new containment cell for Subject Eleven?”
    Anonymous: “Follow Section Five in Amended Clause Eighty, read carefully and proceed with utmost caution.”
    Dr. Serano: “Yes, sir”

    Someone enters the room and stands by the door tapping away on their keyboard with their fingers ever so lightly as to not disturb the conversation between the two individuals. Dr. Serano ends the call and leans forward rubbing his temple.

    Observer: “So what are we going to do now?”
    Dr. Serano: “Follow protocol, prep the stasis chamber and keep subject eleven there for the time being. Have subject eight brought to operating theater two, immediately and debrief the staff on Section Five-Eighty.”
    Observer: “Five-Eighty? Too much of our time went into-”
    Dr. Serano: “I know, but that’s what Control wants done about our predicament.”
    Observer: “This is years of our work, is it a definitive order or a suggestion?”
    Dr. Serano: “I don’t like the idea of purging this place neither, Hodgins, but we have our orders!
    Hodgins: “Yes sir”

    In Operating Theater Two, Dr. Serano partakes in the sterilization routine for all participants of the surgery by preparing his gown, cap, mask, long cut resistant gloves and a second layer of latex to cover over the long pair. Stepping through the sterilization chamber to decontaminate him, Serano enters the theater with five other colleges. In the corner an archivist is documenting audio files using their observation of the operating table. The anesthesia specialist is on standby putting the patient under while two others are preparing the tools of the trade on the drip pans to sterilize them then three of them open a plastic sealed casing to remove various mechanical devices and metallic frame from the containers to display them on the counter behind them on sheet cloth.

    Archivist: “Ready for the audio logs, Dr. Serano”
    Dr. Serano: “Subject Eight is a young male, age between twelve and thirteen years of age. No identifying marks, birthmarks, or scar tissue save for the identification chip implanted upon processing through Blacksite Alpha. Ethnicity is caucasian, fine coarse hair with a dirty blond tint cut to half an inch, eyes are a hazel hue with astigmatism in the right eye while suffering minor blindness in the left after injection of serum T-34 into the optical nerve. Facial features are a narrowing bridge with an inward septum and narrow nostrils ending with a stoic tip, previous alterations with rhinoplasty have allowed the broken bones to mend and repair the damage prior to their processing. Subject’s mouth is pencil thin, pale hue color, small curvature on their smile lines with a strong angular jawline, the notes from Oral and Maxillofacial were wiped from the record as instructed by the Directorate.

    As they start peeling away skin and hearing the sound of hollow tearing like a wet towel being laid on top of flesh. Serano begins using forceps to clog the veins and arteries circulating the skin and exposes the bones of their patient. The assistance bring the metallic frames in pieces and hands each part carefully the next assistant who places them as specified by the doctor’s orders. Other assistant is swapping out the surgical tools with clean ones and then joins in the effort to speed up the process of surgically implanting the frame into the body.

    Archivist: “Attempting to reconstruct the skeletal system to accommodate Exo-Frame apparatus: Model D4RK-S0 and the final solution of serum T-35 with refinement.”

    The sound of drills and scraping is bone chilling as the metallic frames are layering the bones within the patient. After four hours of surgery implants, the finishing touches are being added with the arms being sewn back into place and stabled for good measure. Within the wrists of the patient is a syringe port where they attach IVs to them and allow the serum to trickle down the tubes into the patient’s veins. Dr. Serano turns to his assistant behind him to start running a program on their computer in the corner, who then runs said program. Archivist starts reading the data stream and drops down her notes to add to the session.

    Eight hours later, back in the containment level on the fourth level in cell A-8, the patient is awaken by the sound of a lower clearance scientist with a name tag designating him as Dr. Avo. He taps on the glass and stirs Subject Eight from their drugged stupor only to realize their arms are scarred and stapled following the rest of their body as they start lifting up their prison issued uniforms to search for the scar only to jolt into a fetal position in pure agony and shock of numbing pain shooting throughout their body.

    Dr. Avo: “Subject Eight, time to wake up”
    Subject Eight: “I can’t move”
    Dr. Avo: “You have to, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to adapt to the harness. Come on, we don’t have all day to lie in bed”

    Subject Eight tears up and curls up on their cot and smothers their painful expression into their latex like pillow covering.

    Subject Eight: “I want to go home”
    Dr. Avo: “What home? You don’t even exist”

    Subject Eight rolls back out of bed and crawls towards the door slowly climbing the glass in panic fright.

    Subject Eight: “What, nonono, what about my mom and my dad? They‘ll be looking for me!”
    Dr. Avo with a snarky grin: “They’ll be looking for someone else, but you? We’ve rebuilt you, my boy, and I don’t think anyone will ever look for this young man anytime soon”

    Avo pulls up his tablet showing a reverse imagining of the camera shot of the Subject’s face to reveal the half blind teenager with facial scars and bandages wrapping his face.

    Subject Eight: “What did you do to me!”
    Dr. Avo: “Get up, boy, you’re wasting my time prattling about. We have to get you prepped for your next surgery”
    Subject Eight: “No, I won‘t let you do this to me anymore!”

    Subject Eight crawls away from the cell door and huddles into a fetal position under his cot.

    Dr. Avo: “Subject Eight, do you want the collar again?”

    Subject Eight: “I’m not going!”
    Dr. Avo: “Have it your way”

    Avo gestures for two security guards to drag out Subject Eight from underneath his cot and they pin him to the floor with a syringe whisked out of a capsular case in Avo’s coat. Avo approaches Subject Eight with syringe in hand and inject a sedative and reaches his belt to detach a metal collar with wires feeding through it and attached the collar to Subject Eight’s neck and clasps the locking mechanism shut around him.

    Subject Eight screams wildly at the guards: “Let me go!”
    Dr. Avo: “Behave yourself and maybe you’ll get to eat two meals a day, if you can find it anyway”

    The guards starts picking the patient up and carrying out of the cells and Dr. Avo nonchalantly strolls behind them as Subject Eight is hugged under the arms of two guards looking back at Avo with wearily eyes slowly drifting off.

    Subject Eight: “What are you doing to me?!”
    Dr. Avo: “Be grateful, you’ll be the first human being to get a pair of new eyes even before those hacks in Genova Tech!”
    Subject Eight: “Eyes?”

    Subject Eight passes out from the sedatives, Dr. Avo smiles brightly and tucks his hands into his pockets while humming a tune in his head as they move to another area.

    Entering a secluded room somewhere within the Medical Ward, the guards drag the unconscious Subject Eight to a chair where they proceed to sit him up and lay him into a the seat, strapping him in. Upon closer examination, the chair that the patient is in is a variant of an ophthalmic seat used in eye examinations only the apparatus used for eye examination is replaced with a optical surgery device. The headgear that would be attach to the forehead of the patient will have two circular frame piece encircling the sockets of the patient where the tubular pieces will extract to line perfectly with the socket frame for optimal precision. Of the apparatus, behind the spherical lens into the device are small tools to engage utility diagnostics and sterilization while the tools that perform the surgery are in the tubes that extract and retract in the front of the device. Within the tube are the scalpels, orbital forceps used to hold open the eyes and a suction cusp for latching onto the eyes.

    Dr. Avo watches from the phoropter, which is the chair for examining depth perception of eyes, looking through the varied lens as the guards start finishing the restraints for Subject Eight. He exclaims he would need to get his own specs replaced the next time he’s above ground as he see the results of the dials on the optometrist’s side of the apparatus. Sorting through his pocket he takes a small capsule about the size of his hand and cracks the casing, raising the contents of the capsule up the patient’s nose stirring him awake.

    Dr. Avo: “Wakey-wakey”
    Subject Eight: “Where am I?”

    Subject Eight moves but realizes he is strapped to a chair and looks up to see the faint blur of the apparatus before him and hearing Avo’s voice to his right as he walks over with a desk chair in hand. Taking a seat beside the device, Avo sits in the chair backwards leaning into the back of the seat resting his chest on the backrest with his arms resting on top of it.

    Dr. Avo: “Now that we’re alone, I will ask you something and I want an honest answer”
    Subject Eight, nervously anxious: “What?”
    Dr. Avo: “What does it feel like to have that blood coursing through your veins?”
    Subject Eight: “What are you talking about”
    Dr. Avo: “Surely you noticed something different about you.”
    Subject Eight: “You people keep putting sharp things inside of me!”
    Dr. Avo: “So you have no clue what they’ve done to you”
    Subject Eight: “No”
    Dr. Avo, snickering: “Unbelievable! You are the one, my dear boy, the one we’ve been ever so close to finishing our projects. Never mind the countless failures to make these implants works, but YOU.”

    Avo chuckles at the tantalizing thought of his peers. He springs to his feet, excited and pulls open Subject Eight’s shirt revealing the torso scars trailing down his midsection the ones on his kidneys and the underling of his stomach.

    Subject Eight: “What did they do to me!!”
    Dr. Avo: “Progress, my boy!”

    Laughing hysterically, Avo traces his finger down the chest scars and taps his finger on the sites on Subject Eight’s corresponding body parts.

    Dr. Avo: “When you were brought to us, you were a feeble miscreant. Always crying, moaning and groveling like an animal, but Doctor Lamb chose you for our first series of implants. A new artificial heart with synthetic fibers stronger than your old one and it grows as you age, a defibrillating unit and a layer of the same synthetic fiber melding to your lungs. Removed your kidneys in place of the artificial ones, much better for removing toxins, but the most exciting part is your skeleton!”

    Taking his fingers and pressing hard into the ribcage, Subject Eight winces slightly at the pressure on his ribs. Avo smile brightly.

    Dr. Avo: “And you barely felt that at all. Think of it as a gift from Doctor Lamb, we wouldn’t want you to break so easily when we’ve accomplished so much progress with you.”
    Subject Eight: “What are you going to do with me when you finish?”
    Dr. Avo: “Hmm, unfortunately, I wouldn’t know about the endgame. BUT”

    Avo claps his hands and slides the surgical device over the patient’s eyes. Avo walks around the patient and tightens the neck brace fastening around his neck, coming back around and adjusting the socket frames just ever so slightly to fit perfectly on the patient’s forehead. Subject Eight struggles against the doctor’s advances to progress through the headgear.

    Dr. Avo with a smile on his face: “I’d started counting backwards from a hundred minus three, this will hurt very much!”

    Flipping the switch on the back of the device, the frames latch onto the patient’s eye sockets with a strong pressure then the tubular receptacles slide across to press on the sockets. The machine begins whirring and humming with the small orbital forceps forcing his eyes wide open, a separate pair of orbital tools slowly scooping underneath the eyeballs. Feeling the trans-orbital tools sliding under his eyes, the patient grips the armrests at his sides and digs his nails into the leather.

    Subject Eight: “No-nononononon AAAAAAahhhhhhhh!!”

    Avo looks into the spherical lens of the device watching the tiny vestige of blood tricking out of the tubes and the small sterilizing equipment begin sucking out the excess and draining into a cartridge on the side of the device. He looks below to see blood trickling down the patient’s neck while they scream an octave above normal pitch out of sheer agony.

    Dr. Avo: “Almost done, kiddie! Ooooo, that’s a healthy nerve. Well, good news all around, we won’t have to rip these out too.”
    Subject Eight: “Stop, please!! (screams) Stop it, make it stop hurting, please”
    Dr. Avo: “Hold still or you’ll make me nick something permanently”
    Subject Eight: “Please … stop the screaming”

    Avo stops the machine and sees the tubes slowly creep out the back and he retrieves the tube and removes them. Beside him, Avo reaches down to open a refrigerated cooler with a pair of transparent tubes with a single eyeball with the sclera being ink black and the iris being a ruby red. Smiling at the beauty of the eyes, Avo turns to the apparatus and replaces the extracted tubes with the transparent ones in their place. The device being the implanting process by accepting the replace tubes and revs up once more. Avo walks over to the computer sitting on a counter top by cabinets of preserved eyes and medical tools sterilizing, begins to remotely program the apparatus to accept new perimeters of the surgery. Looking at the real time x-ray screen, the machine slowly welds the optical nerve back to the spheres of the new implants and runs the extending nerve slowly back into the patient’s skull while small pens poke and prod the eyes simultaneously with precision adding synthetic material to the optic nerve and the merging flesh of the eyeballs. Within the device ad large syringe extends towards the iris and begins impaling the lens of the eyes then electric welds the inner cornea with the optic nerve from inside.

    Avo is admiring the process of the optical implants from his computer while the patient wailing and writhing in his seat. Avo turns to the patient with a scornful expression of anger as they ruin his moment of admiration with their sounds of pain.

    Dr. Avo: “Now we just insert these beauties in and hopefully they work”
    Subject Eight: (quietly weeps)
    Dr. Avo: “Don’t cry or you will get a nasty infection. We wouldn’t want gangrene now would we?
    Subject Eight: (weakly moaning)
    Dr. Avo: “Fine, I’m giving you another small dose of morphine. Aren’t i nice? Say thank you when someone gives you something.”

    Subject Eight is silent with his arms dangling at his side.

    Dr. Avo: “You’re welcome, now let’s get the rest of your eyes synchronized and connected.”

    Subject Eight goes limp from the shock of the surgery

    Dr. Avo: “If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought these were specially designed for you. What could be hiding in your feeble little body that has everyone rushing to find the answers for?”

    Avo goes to a medical cabinet to pull open a draw removing a box of gauze and scissors, he walks over to the patient and starts removing the apparatus from their forehead. Seeing the eyes being closed, Avo takes the gauze from their box and opens the plastic bags off them and starts padding down the bloody sockets and presses them gently over the eyes. Taking a set of ace bandages and rolling them over the gauze pads, he layers over the already present bandages from previous surgeries and scissors the trim of the wrappings and tucks the end pieces into the seams of the layer of bandage.

    Dr. Avo: “There we go, off to the recovery ward for you!”

    Two weeks later​

    Lights snap to life with a metallic hum, rattling of the rafters and the support beams of the ceiling echoing the sound of metal on metal creaking. Lights focus one by one on a lone figure at the center of the room, restrained by a straitjacket with belt straps lashed to the wall behind them, securing them in place. On their head is a visor that keeps them blind to their surroundings, a strap holding their forehead to the wall with a device arching over their skull and curving around the ear and attached to the base on the neck. The ground is pulverized and destroyed with small craters made by something hard and thick enough to crack solid concrete, metallic debris of shattered balls and bits of ceramic disks litter the area. The wall opposite of the room is a one-way mirror with an suspicious audience behind the glass, above the glass is an intercom. When the intercom turns one, a muffled voice and a voice modulator is heard coming from it.

    Voice: “Subject Eight, can you hear me”

    The lone figure strapped to the wall begins groaning.

    Voice: “Subject Eight, can you block the next object for us?”

    The lone figure moves their neck and grits their teeth, struggling in their harness.

    Voice: “Subject Eight, can you show me your power”

    The face moves to look up as if they were looking in their general direction.

    Subject Eight in pain: “I don’t know what to do!”
    Voice: “Then explain the nature of your power. How does it work?”
    Subject Eight, repeatedly: “I’m not one of them.”
    Voice: “Subject Eight, your mind and body is capable of manipulating objects without touching them. I believe you are a gifted telepath.”
    Subject Eight: “I can’t do any of that. You’re wrong!”
    Voice: “Do you believe this occurrence happens only in your sleep?”
    Subject Eight, distressed: “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!!”

    The floor in front of the glass mirror retract and extend four pitching machines with a basket holding four different material balls. The room lights up to reveal a large ballistic range with Subject Eight being at the end of the range with thirty feet between them and the mirrored glass window behind the waist high partition separating the range from the walkway. The intercom goes silent for a few minutes as the pitching machines whirring as power from the power coupling in the lining of the floor. The intercom turning back on but without the voice modulator, a female voice chimes in.

    Female Voice: “Ethan”

    Subject Eight stops struggling and goes limp as he listens to the voice.

    Female Voice: “If you want out you, think about the wall of your cell. Think of how hard and sturdy it is, picture a shape of the wall as if you were building it.”

    The voice changes to a modularized one in its place.

    Voice: “Releasing he first volley”

    The first pitching machine fires off a large wooden ball polished that hurdles across the room and slams into the wall just shy over the shoulder of the subject. Subject Eight shouts, startled by the loud clacking of the wood splitting into pieces leaving a dent in the wall about a centimeter in diameter with bits of cement flaking to the ground. The machine adjusts aim and angles it towards the subject and the voice chimes in.

    Voice: “Three inch wooden sphere, velocity: sixty-five miles per hour over thirty feet in range. If you do not use your ability, we will continue to use other means to force you to use it.”
    Subject Eight, panicking: “Wait, I swear I don’t know how to do it!”
    Voice: “You have five seconds to figure it out before the next volley.”

    After five seconds of fidgeting, the pitching machine fires. The ball curves downward and collides with the subject’s stomach, the subject jolts in shock spitting out their stomach’s contents onto the floor. The five second counter ticks from the pitching machines with a beeping sound sounding off the moment time is up. Then the next volley comes and strikes the subject in the shoulder, they retort in anguish. Crying out in pain, grunting heavily as they continue to vomit onto the ground below them getting the excess all over their jacket and straps. Gasping for air as the next volley strike the subject in the chest, but when the sphere contacts the chest, the ribcage dents inward then bounces the sphere back. Rolling off the chest on to the ground, the ribcage that was hit begins vibrating before crackling inside the subject’s skin.

    Voice: “What was that a moment ago?”

    Subject Eight unable to respond.

    Voice: “Subject Eight, respond to my question. What was it you did on the fourth volley?”

    Subject Eight begins sobbing, whimpering form their painful ordeal.

    Voice: “Loading Ceramic”

    After a slow recovery, the subject weakly speaks up.

    Subject Eight: “Don’t break”

    The machine stops whirring up in anticipation of the next volley, the machine ceases and the voice goes quietly before return to repeat their inquiry.

    Voice: “What did you mean by that?”

    Subject Eight: “I just kept thinking about my bones not breaking. I can take this so long as I can still walk”

    Voice: “This was … just a thought you had?”

    Subject Eight: “I braced myself when I did”

    Voice: “Interesting”

    Subject Eight: “A-are we done, yet?”
    Voice: “Not quite, but I think we are for today.”

    On the other side of the one-way mirror, four people stand poised observing the experiment. Doctor Avo, Serano, Hodgins and the booth operator are present, Serano turns to Avo.

    Serano: “Project Mephistopheles is not progressing. Why is it not working?”
    Avo: “I don’t know. The reaction time on the fourth volley should have been deflected the moment it had impacted, but it just absorbed the kinetic energy. It should have killed them”
    Serano: “D4RK-5O is the only prototype of the recent endoskeleton frames Dr. Lamb gave us to work with. We have to make do until Subject Eight can merge with T-34 and T-36”
    Avo: “His body is rejecting the implanted endoskeleton, the tissue build-up in his spine is turning a darker color and showing signs of gangrene. The bone melding processes is beautifully done and looks completely seamless, but it isn’t agreeing with the muscle fibers and blood lining.”
    Serano: “What else can we do? I’m a surgeon, not a miracle worker!”

    Serano slams his fist onto the computer consoles and tosses his tablet on the ground out of frustration. He spins around, throws his hands up into the air and yells. Avo, staying collective, picks up the tablet and places it on the desk behind him. Leaning into the desk crossing his arms in the process, Avo rubs the side of his face in contemplation.

    Avo: “He claims it took a thought and reactionary response.”
    Serano: “Who?”
    Avo: “The subject. He couldn’t do it at will just on thought alone, what if it has to be both a physical response and a mental one?”
    Serano: “Instinct?”

    Avo: If thinking wasn’t enough for the second volley, the threat of the first to kick in the fight or flight response, the third for retaliation but the fourth … it was expected.”
    Serano: “Explain”

    Avo: “The reason behind this is to test his response of the abilities we see in him. At least the amount we were debriefed on. It could be that it triggers when the response from a proxy like a duplicate intervenes in the defense of its host. But with Subject Eight, putting him intense distress doesn’t work as effectively as we’d hoped but we do know that we have a reaction.”
    Serano: “What reaction?”

    Avo: “You saw it as clearly as I have. Surely, you’ve noticed the bones cracking from the impact”
    Serano: “Yes and the sphere failed. What of it?”
    Avo: “Are you sure about that?”
    Serano: “Come again”

    Avo: “Look here”

    Avo bring his own tablet to Serano and shows the monitoring of Subject Eight’s internal vitals before and after impact of the fourth volley. In the after shot of the x-ray, the bones of subject eight’s ribcage catch the ball as it impacts and crackles into fractures of bone before the bone reforms and retains the shape. The bone then slowly shifts making tiny barbs that pierce and attach themselves to the muscle fibers.

    Serano: “What is it doing?”
    Avo: “Appears to be adapting to the fracture and fortifying the ribcage.”
    Serano: “Is that the work of T-34?”
    Avo: “I believe so, if not then we’ve got some questions to give to R&D on this new type of metal they’re not informing us of.”
    Hodgins: “It isn’t metal”

    Hodgins, sitting next to the intercom microphone looks back at them in his seat.

    Hodgins: “T-34 is a compound synthesized using Subject Eight’s blood and Subject Two’s ability to manipulate the genetic material. T-35 is a variant of that compound only meant to be used in the circulation of the blood to prevent rupturing to the veins, hemorrhaging is the last thing we need when using blunt force and ballistic tests.”
    Avo: “This is the first I’m hearing about this”
    Hodgins: “Subject Two is classified on all levels, we’re not even suppose to talk about it but this is giving me a bad vibe”
    Avo: “Then why bring them up?”
    Hodgins: “This isn’t the first time the brass asked us to do more testing on the outlier test subjects, but this is different than our other tests. This is much extreme, none of the other subject had to receive this many surgeries and even less the amount of genetic remapping that went into this particular subject.”
    Serano: “A self-repairing skeleton, redundant nervous system, capillary and artery fortitude, optical spectrographic implants. It sounds like another super soldier project.”
    Avo: “We have many of them since the 90’s, why is he different?”

    Hodgins to Serano: “It does, but why not make one from scratch? Plenty of synth flesh to make an android with everything versus a human child. My theory is on compensating for weaknesses.”
    Avo: “I don’t get it. Where are you getting this from?”
    Hodgins: “It’s a half baked super soldier project, what else could it be? Whatever the higher-ups have in mind, they need this subject to durable and sturdy for future endeavors, something that a synthetic biomechanical android wouldn’t suffice. The synths lack personalities, no motivation outside of orders, they wouldn’t make good infiltrators nor replicas of real people; too many variables to account for.”
    Avo: “You suspect that they need Project Mephistopheles to be a discreet application.”
    Hodgins: “In theory. There’s too much redacting on their file suggests it would be something greater than a conversion project like so many others from Blacksite Alpha and Omicron.”
    Serano: “While I was in the operating theater I did notice something else when putting them under that I think could use some clarification.”

    Avo and Hodgins both turn to face Serano with an intrigue expression on their faces. With their attentions rapt, Serano walks over to the desk where Avo placed his tablet and retrieves it only to see a lot of broken glass but still operational. He swipes his finger over the screen, typing his key codes and opens an executable file to play the audio file from one of the operations. The audio file plays:

    "Time is 12:56pm on (redacted) with Dr. Lamb and Serano presiding over Subject Eight’s installation of the model D4RK-5O endoskeleton framework.

    A strange abnormality currently takes place in the operating theater as test subject eight appears to have growths forming along their spinal column that have tendril like formations. The growth appear to be centimeters in length acting independently of the host, upon further inspection, the growths have a substance of T-34 excreting from the tips which look like dark color pus. T-34, as noted by (redacted) who is present, is a compound used in the melding of skin tissue and bone, the side effect of the substance is of course unknown. The reaction of T-34 on subject eight appears to have made these strange growths on their cornea and optic nerves, as time progressed throughout the procedure, more growths appear on the nerve endings of their finger tips and toes that merge itself with skin and muscle fibers.

    When attempting to lance the growths from subject eight, the growths react by becoming firm and sharp to the point like thorns. Assistant (redacted) is removed and sent into quarantine after experiencing a reaction from being pricked by the growths. Their status is to be determined. Dr. Serano lances a piece of the growth with much effort as the growth is resilient with incredible tensile strength. Using a plasma cutter, the growth if lanced and sent to the genetics lab for further analysis.”

    Serano’s audio file cuts off, he looks up to his colleagues to get there opinions on the matter.

    Serano: “If T-34 is a melding compound then what made the growths?”
    Avo to Hodgins: “T-36?”

    Hodgins ponders on the thought for a moment. His colleagues anticipate his response.

    Hodgins: “That’s the final phase, but it’s too soon”
    Avo: “Perhaps a hidden ability of subject eight?”
    Hodgins: “I wouldn’t be able to say. My area of expertise is application, Serano’s ability to make it work and your administration, the only person with further insight into that particular chestnut is Doctor Lamb.”
    Avo: “How does that old hermit get such a prize in the first place?”
    Serano: “I think Central has him working on other projects outside of Research and Development.”

    Entering the booth with the other members of staff, a gruff elderly man in a sterile white zip-up lab coat with matching skin tight trousers beneath it, stands in the doorway. He speaks up in a raspy voice and clears his throat to sound more appealing.

    Man: “Sorry about that. How is the subject performing?”
    Avo: “Your framework is reacting but their ability aptitude is non-existent. I’m questioning the legitimacy of your thoughts about this boy having any ability outside of our work.”
    Man: “You think he’s human, he isn’t.”
    Avo: “Then enlighten us on the nature of what exactly are we even testing for. The T Series of implants are working as expected with minor tissue build-up from rejection, something we can adjust accordingly. But the Board didn’t specifically inform us on what the subject’s abilities are.”
    Man: “Matter conversion and manipulation”

    The three colleagues pause in contemplation. They look to each other and cross their arms out of habit and look to the man with confusion. Hodgins speaks up on their behalf.

    Hodgins to the man: “Doctor Lamb, if they can convert matter, why use a ballistics range suitable for Titan Class meta-humans?”

    The man referred to as Doctor Lamb closes the door behind him and puts his hands into his coat pockets and looks to the ground before scratching his long graying hair.

    Lamb: “What I’m about to say doesn’t leave this room”

    They await patiently for his response.

    Lamb: “Subject Eight is able to create an unknown substance that exists but not visible to the naked eye, with aid of spectrographs, we’ve determine that the substance is a malleable type of polymer that self-replicates. When applying the substance to other materials, it can convert into the same material as the substance. When subject was captured and processed at site Alpha, they warped the vehicle they were transported in en route to this site. The ‘Cleaners’ analyzed the vehicle and found the same substance coating the entirety of the transporter in such as fashion as if it were being constricted by a large snake. The board wants to know the nature of Subject Eight and the abilities they have as our theories are only compounded by the fact that we’re running out of time.”

    Hodgins: “What do you mean running out of time?!”
    Lamb: “As of now, this facility is dedicating all of it’s remaining resources and time to the development of Subject Eight. All other test subjects are being transported to another facility while this site continues their efforts to develop Project Mephistopheles.”

    Avo: “What, but why?”
    Lamb: “According to the Site Omicron’s findings, they’ve classified him as a Nuclear Class meta-human”

    Avo: “You can’t be serious, that brat is a Nuclear Class meta?”
    Lamb: “Looks are deceiving, Omicron analyzed the substance and compound mixture of the T Series and found that Subject Two’s involvement with our process drastically altered Subject Eight’s genetic material. What was meant to suppress their abilities, made them extremely lethal, as evidenced by our assistant earlier this week during their procedure.”

    Serano to Lamb: “What happened to them?”
    Lamb: “Even a small prick from subject eight’s altered substance can re-write the genetic code of those who aren’t protected. The victim of their defense mechanism was morphed into a gelatinous form of the substance, when the substance is mixed with the host’s native substance, they merged and cohesively work.”

    Hodgins speaks up on his thought about “manipulation of the matter”

    Lamb: “As mentioned in your reports, the substance is self-replicating. We may not see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Subject Eight is capable of manipulating the substance to act as a weapon of shield depending on circumstance, evidenced by their transport. if the substance can be replicated, manipulated, convert other materials into the same, there is a good chance they can spread this to other facilities and other test subjects. Therefore the Board reclassified this place a Blacksite outside of the network, all assets are to be transported immediately following the final phase to contain the subject’s self-replication process. T-36 is the last attempt to contain Subject Eight’s substance and sterile the substance’s ability to reproduce while maintaining its conversion ability.”

    Serano: “T-36 isn’t due until after the D4RK-5O framework is recovering and stable enough!”
    Lamb: “As I said, gentlemen, we’re running out of time. We are beset by all sides by forces working against us. Sites Beta and Delta were hit by an unknown group, Site X-Ray was just a recent delay in our progress. If we do not contain Subject Eight before this site is hit, we run the risk of exposing the Directorate and the Collective. If Subject Eight breaks containment, that boy will doom us to extinction if gone unchecked. Once T-36 is installed, Subject Eight will be render inert and safe to transport for further experimentation into their application in the field.”

    Avo: “What is our time table looking like?”
    Lamb: “After a few days in Recovery Chamber, he should be prepped for another surgery to implant T-36 within ten days. In the meantime, have your files transferred to the mainframe and dump the original drives and files relating to our work here. Keep all relevant data on Subject Eight on site and encrypted, I rather have something here for someone else to pick-up our contingency plan should they break containment or we fail in our endeavor to contain them.”

    Avo: “You want to leave a trace for outsiders to use? That’s against our directive!”
    Lamb: “If we fail, there will be no stopping them. If we leave our contingency, humanity might stand a chance of surviving.”
    Avo: “Or it can blowback on us”
    Lamb: A risk I’m going to take. I won’t rest until Subject Eight’s replication process is inert, if anyone interferes with the procedure of installing T-36, the Board authorized all sites to terminate anyone involved. Myself is included in that statement. Understand?”

    The three colleagues nod in agreement. Lamb turns to the window to look out to Subject Eight and see that their restraints are off and no personnel are present. He walks over to the control console and stares closely at the subject and sees that they are just standing there. Lamb turns to Avo.

    Lamb: “Did any of you restrain the subject?”
    Avo: “Of course we did”
    Lamb: “Then what am I seeing here”

    Avo rushes toward the console and sees the close up view through the screen below him. Seeing the camera angles, Subject Eight is indeed not restrained to the wall. Hunched over with the weight of the belts and the long sleeves of his jacket dangling in front of him.

    Avo: “How did he get free?”

    Avo looks down to see Hodgin’s hand is still holding the microphone key that allows them to speak into it. Avo slaps Hodgin’s hand off the microphone and yells at him.

    Avo: “You idiot, how long have you been holding that on?!”

    Subject Eight speaks up as they raise their head towards them.

    Subject Eight: “I’ll do it”

    Avo and the others turn to their test subject amazed by their response. Lamb walks over and disables the voice modulator and speaks directly to Subject Eight.

    Lamb: “Do you understand what you’re asking us to do?”
    Subject Eight: “I don’t. But if it stops me from losing control, I volunteer for the surgery.”
    Lamb: “Do you know what’s going?”
    Subject Eight: “I think I do, I don’t know what I’m doing or how. If I’m capable of doing such a terrible thing, I should do everything I can to stop it from happening. Right?”

    Lamb holds the microphone on and sighs in relief but also in a worrisome fashion. He shakes his head disapprovingly as the subject insists on going through with the procedure.

    Lamb: “Subj-”

    He shakes his head disapproving the term to be irrelevant at this point.

    Lamb: “Ethan, I know this is not what you want but if something isn’t done now, there is a chance you won’t able to control it.”

    Subject Eight being revealed as Ethan crouches down and sits on the ground.

    Ethan: “Doctor Lamb, if this works, will I be able to go home?”

    Lamb hesitates to answer but reluctantly does to Ethan’s question.

    Lamb: “I’m sorry, Ethan. Even with T-36 installed and adapts, you still pose a danger to people outside of this place. If someone makes contact with your substance, it’s game over. There is no undoing the damage. Even if there was, our bosses won’t let you leave with what you know about our work.”
    Ethan: “What is going to happen to me?”
    Lamb: “I wouldn’t know. But if your abilities are anything to guess … a super weapon. One able to be deployed anywhere and blend in with the population, activate remotely and create much devastation.”
    Ethan: “They’re going to use me”
    Lamb: “It will be years down the road, your powers only manifested prematurely because we forced them to. If you cooperate with us, Ethan, we’ll do our best to make your time here better and perhaps develop your abilities naturally.”
    Ethan: “I want to know more about them, what can I do to control it.”
    Lamb: “I can make that happen”
    Ethan: “I want to go to school”
    Lamb: “You mean, learn to better yourself”
    Ethan: “I can’t read or write, too many big words that I don’t understand.”
    Lamb: “Sounds reasonable, anything else?”
    Ethan: “Real food”
    Lamb: “Done”
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #2 Grimoire, Aug 9, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
  3. Grimoire

    Grimoire Well-Known Member

    Jun 15, 2018
    Chapter 2: The Atlas Project

    A tape recorder is set on a table in an isolation chamber, two chairs and a stainless steel table which is bolted to the laminated tiled floor. Sitting one seat: Ethan or Subject Eight. In the second seat: Jacque Jean-Gusto, researcher and head psychologist who will be presiding over the meeting. The tape is pressed, starting with Dr. Jean-Gusto recording his analysis with a group of observers looking from an auditorium rapt in the details of the subject in question:

    Greetings, everyone, my name is Jacque Jean-Gusto.
    Today we’ll be talking about Subject Eight, as known as Ethan, Meta Class: Type 7 Nuclear
    The subject is a thirteen year old, male.

    Height: 5 feet 4 inches (imperial) or 162.56 cm (metric).
    Weight: 100.0 lb (imperial) or 45.3 kg (metric)
    Ethnicity: Caucasian.
    Birthplace: Unknown.
    Meta-human Ability: Matter Manipulation and Organic Conversion.

    Subject Eight containment procedures:

    Subject is to be contained in a cell surround in a 6 feet by 8 feet with reinforced solid concrete reaching to the depth of 10 feet with laminated tiles laced with polarizing agent 88. The cell will contain a ceramic fixed cot with standard bed sheets: sterile white, and a cotton material pillow with tear-proof non-powder latex material. A stainless steel utilitarian toilet with sink and soap dispensary which dispenses non-alcoholic soap which can be remotely removed without entry into the cell. Subject is to not have any contact with any organic materials within 3 feet of their confinement cell under no circumstances with special exceptions to meals served in a sealed ceramic material coated with Agent 88 to prevent conversion properties. As per instructions in Addendum 1: The subject is not to be harm, instigated into, threaten or provoke any sort of aggression that may elevate the situation as such stimuli can cause the subject to show signs of fluctuation which in turn manifest the subject’s hidden abilities in retaliation. Security personnel are to escort in two pairs to and from sessions when accompanying the subject with another site personnel. Each security personnel will be equipped with Agent 88 infused rubberized rounds that nullifies the abilities of the subject; should they break containment, the standardized issue SCAR-FN anti-personnel rounds will be issued as well as Agent 88 grenades with anesthetic gas to either incapacitate or terminate subject. Under no circumstances are security and staff are permitted to wear any organic material or possess inorganic materials that can be used as a weapon when in the company of the subject during transit.

    As dictated in Memo dating August 30, 1999:

    Subject Eight is designated to participate in the Mephistopheles Project which is authorized by Administrator Hodgins and access approval through Dr. Lamb. The subject was examined during processing at Site Alpha prior to the transportation to Site Charlie with instructions from the Collective Board to register and contain the subject under Phase 3. Subject has extensive tissue damage from the upper torso to the muscles in their legs and a fragile bone structure due to a calcium deficiency either hereditary or malnutrition is yet to be determined, deformity in the face from violent confrontation from site personnel and transportation with an incident resulting in injuring four security personnel and the disposal of one armored transport vehicle.

    With here me today is Subject Eight: Ethan, who I will be evaluating on the psychological and mental faculties of the subject as per as rescinding Code 34 of the Containment Procedures authorized by Doctors: Avo, Hodgins, Serano and Lamb in conjunction with Meta Classes 4-7. New procedures will be reformed and adjusted to accommodate the needs and requests of Subject Eight in their treatment and rehabilitation.

    Jean-Gusto: “So, Ethan, tell me about yourself. What do you know about your abilities?”
    Ethan: “My name is actually not my real name. The name Ethan was given to me by Doctor Lamb who was my assigned doctor at Site Alpha when I was woken up from stasis.”
    Jean-Gusto: “So you were on ICE during your stay during the time of your process”
    Ethan: “Yes”
    Jean-Gusto: “Tell me about where you’re from”
    Ethan: “I don’t know”
    Jean-Gusto: “What do you remember?”
    Ethan: “I know a had a mother who worked as a pharmacy and my father was never around, but she would tell me that he was someone who worked in sales. Because he moved around for work, I never got to see him. How true that was, I wouldn’t know.”
    Jean-Gusto: “Do you know what happened to them or where they’re from?”
    Ethan: “We lived in a big city, we use to go for ice cream on the waterfront where we lived and she would tell me stories of people from work. She lost her job and we moved around to different apartments whenever we had money, she took me to a boarding school and I stayed there until the summer where I would come home.”
    Jean-Gusto: “But you have no idea of what country or what they were like?”
    Ethan: “Mom was from the city and dad traveled so, I don’t know. Mom was kind to me and she raised me by herself but she got worse when mean people came looking for money. She couldn‘t pay and we‘d move again.”
    Jean-Gusto: “Can you describe the incident where you were found?”
    Ethan: “I skipped school and I went to a junkyard that wasn’t far from there. I go there to play with old cars and pretend I was playing with my friends.”
    Jean-Gusto: “You didn’t have friends?”
    Ethan: “I don’t get along with my schoolmates. Every day they would bully me and call me a weirdo, and then things go dark and I would wake up not remembering how I got there.”
    Jean-Gusto: “And you didn’t think that was strange?”
    Ethan: “I don’t know what is normal, do you?”
    Jean-Gusto: “I suppose not, what with the technology and Metas such as yourself pushing that boundary further and further.”
    Ethan: “I was playing until the late afternoon and the bullies came there to drink beer and smoke cigarettes. They beat me up when I was alone and when the adults aren’t around, then I get headaches and my back hurts.”
    Jean-Gusto: “they weren’t caused by the beatings?”
    Ethan: “No, this was different”
    Jean-Gusto: “Continue”

    Ethan: “Every time I get angry or scared, they happen. When they took my books, I screamed at that to give them back and then they burned them. After that, I blacked out when they hit me with a brick.”
    Jean-Gusto: “You’re a strong little boy”
    Ethan: “Huh?”
    Jean-Gusto: “When the Collective found you, the students found there were disposed of. But in reality, they were minced as if cut to piece by some strong sharp objects.”
    Ethan: “They’re dead?”
    Jean-Gusto: “You didn’t know?”
    Ethan: “No”

    Ethan’s hands start rattling in his handcuffs which are barred to the table before the psychologist. Jean-Gusto begins writing down his notes and jots down a detail of Ethan’s fidgeting

    Jean-Gusto: “Did you know you could use your powers at the start?”
    Ethan: “No, I only found out after getting out of the truck when the security people were pulling me out. I saw the truck rip and tear like plastic.”
    Jean-Gusto: “What was your first impression of your abilities?”
    Ethan: “I remember watching TV with mom when a special came on and the Ying Yang twins using their minds to lift cars and use force fields. She called them ESPers. I thought I was one of them. But then I … uh”
    Jean-Gusto: “Go on? What did you discover?”

    Ethan: “When I got food for the first time, I hated the taste of it. I thought about ice cream and milkshakes, hamburgers and Genova fries and I took the food paste tubes they gave out and imagined the taste of it being something else and when I squeezed out a stripe. It tasted like ice cream!”
    Jean-Gusto: So you changed the taste of your food? Was that it?”
    Ethan: No, so I thought if I could change the taste, what about the shape?”
    Jean-Gusto: “How?”
    Ethan: “I remember seeing what a hamburger looked like once and tried picturing that, but when I tried do it to the tube, nothing happened. I tried getting the paste out and try it that way, it was just a large blob of black goop.”
    Jean-Gusto: “Black … goop”
    Ethan: “So after that, I tried the taste and it tasted like pennies and not very good at all”
    Jean-Gusto: “Would you say that it was thick or watery?”
    Ethan: “Thick, like glue and it tends to stick to everything. I didn’t eat much after that, I just kept tasting the pennies and the food would make me sick.”
    Jean-Gusto: “When we had to pump your stomach, the food had alkaline too high for consumption and the Zinc in your blood was also making it difficult for you to be immune to some of our treatments."
    Ethan: “Then Doctor Lamb said I shouldn’t do it any more so I stopped.”
    Jean-Gusto: “Can you do anything else?”
    Ethan: “That’s it”

    Jean-Gusto finishes writing down his notes and puts his pen down, he reaches down to pull out the ink blot test and a few brain teasers using cubes of wood and metallic rings bundled into a mess.

    Jean-Gusto: Okay, Ethan, I’m going to show you a series of cards, you just tell me what do you see”
    Ethan: “What am I suppose to guess with these? They don’t look like pictures”
    Jean-Gusto: “The point of ink blots is to use your imagination to make up an image, I take my notes of what you think you see.”
    Ethan: “Ok”

    The psychologist brings up the first picture.

    Ethan: “Two bears giving each a high five”

    The psychologist takes his note and nods approvingly. The next image was shown, Ethan squints and tilts his head to the image.

    Ethan: “Blood dripping off a lamp shade”
    Jean-Gusto: “Good, next
    Ethan: “A butterfly spreading its wings”
    Ethan: “A black mask”
    Ethan: “A hand making a bat shadow puppet”
    Ethan: “one of those … machine guns?”
    Ethan: “A web of some sort”

    The psychologist scratches his temple at the few suggestions before dropping his notepad and looks up and hands Ethan one of the brain teasers made of wooden blocks.

    Jean-Gusto: “Now with these I want you to try and separate the blocks without breaking them and not force them out with brute force, can you do that?”
    Ethan: “Okay”

    Ethan takes the cube and starts looking it over as the psychologist takes out a notebook with sheets of loose leaf paper and starts reading out what’s one there before giving his instructions. Ethan finds a block to remove and pushes it through one end only to snag on the end piece and he flips the cube over and searches for a way to remove the adjacent piece.

    Jean-Gusto: “What I’m going to be doing is checking how well you can answer these questions to evaluate your mental acuity and critical thinking.”
    Ethan: “while I doing these puzzles”
    Jean-Gusto: “While giving you time to assess the correct answer using the puzzles, you’ll be multi-tasking”
    Ethan: “Multi-tasking?”

    Ethan is too keenly focused on the puzzle that he repeats the words coming out of his evaluator’s mouth.

    Jean-Gusto: “Okay what I have in mind would be situational. I want you to imagine what you would do in the instance you are experiencing these scenarios. I’ll be looking for your response in dealing with each and taking note of your answers. Begin.”

    Ethan pushes out a block and it drops to the table. Jean-Gusto reads off the scenario describing an alleyway where someone is in trouble and there are three men attempting to steal and possibly kill the person in question. One man is pinning the victim to a wall by the shirt, the next person is standing behind them observing the two talking. The third man is armed and watching them as people pass by ignoring the situation.

    Jean-Gusto: “How do you respond?”
    Ethan: “What do I have in my possession? Any weapons, money, am I free or a prisoner?”
    Jean-Gusto: “You would be a free person who is just watching from the side as this happens, as far as items you have on you, just an empty wallet and the clothes on your back.”

    Ethan finds another opening and disassembles three blocks from the cube. Ethan ponders on the situation and then pops another block out of the cube’s crevasse.

    Ethan: “I’d find someone to come with me any way that I can. I get them to take the attention off me, I sneak by while the random person would be inclined to disarm the man and take his gun. What happens to the random person, I don’t see the need to use them any further. While the armed man is distracted and disarmed, I shot him in the leg and turn the gun on the other two men. From there I get them up against a wall and threaten them, should they refuse to leave I kill them and if they do, no harm needed.”

    Jean-Gusto: “What about the person being attacked?”
    Ethan: “What about them?”
    Jean-Gusto: “Do you intend to harm them along with the men you have hostage?”

    Ethan’s cube is reduced to a pile of separate pieces as he comes to his conclusion. He looks up and folds his hands on top of the table pushing the puzzle as far as his cuffs could allow him to.

    Ethan: “As far as the people involved, they’re free to go. I don’t really need the person I brought over except the occasion of them acting as a distraction. The attackers would be punished though, it just seems unfair they would pick on someone they can easily hurt or take something from them.”
    Jean-Gusto: “So you feel that your actions were justified?”
    Ethan: “Appropriate force, appropriate measure. I would think”

    The psychologist hands Ethan another brain teaser and he would have to remove the three rings from a rod attached through the holes in it as well as the rings themselves. Ethan sees a solution and manages to get the puzzle done before Jean-Gusto could even get done with his next scenario. This back and forth interaction would happen over the course of an hour to three and a half hours. It was at this point in time, the psychologist ran out of puzzles for Ethan to solve and eventually he leaves Ethan with just the series of questions of topics for him to discuss his thoughts.

    Jean-Gusto: “Okay for this last one, I think we can call it a day”
    Ethan: “Okay”

    Ethan is starting to feel the strain of being stuck in a room being asked with too many questions and problems to solve, the burnout was wearing him out and the cuffs on his wrists are starting to chafe. Anxious to finish Ethan moves around a bit to adjust his seating before he continues.

    Jean-Gusto: “Would you say that you are a kind person?”
    Ethan: “I don’t see the point”

    The psychologist drops the notebook and stares at him curiously and laced his fingers between each other in front of him then leaning forward assessing Ethan’s response to the question.

    Jean-Gusto: “What you mean?”
    Ethan: “The point of whether or not you’re kind. It’s subjective.”
    Jean-Gusto: “That’s a bit different from your usual responses”
    Ethan: “Why is that?”
    Jean-Gusto: “Over the course of a few hours you see yourself as pragmatic, doing only what’s necessary and not one to do something out on a whim. Your practicality approach to each experience tells you that you’d prefer taking an active role rather than accepting what has occurred or will occur. But you motives usual have taking care of those you familiarize with or have favor with over those that are malicious or terrible people.”
    Ethan: “What’s the word you used before to describe the sense of attachment?”
    Jean-Gusto: “Sentiment?”
    Ethan: “I don’t understand the ‘sentiment’ of having kindness as opposed to mutual benefit.”

    The psychologist takes his notepad and flips over his notes and goes back to the first few pages and scans over the statements and points to a previous conversation. He looks up and asks Ethan about the books he reads during the bullying incident that lead to his incarceration.

    Ethan: “Atlas Shrugged was my favorite, I read my history book back and forth trying to understand the significance of each war but they all seem too one-sided. I had an antique novel from a library that closed down called: “Catcher in the Rye” it wasn’t very popular and the pages kept falling out but I felt connected to the main character, I was almost done reading before it was burned along with my bag.”

    Jean-Gusto leans back into his chair and gets a tongue in cheek reaction to Ethan’s choice of literature. He smiles and nods approvingly.

    Jean-Gusto: “Ayn Rand and J.D Salinger. Interesting choice of books you chosen, why those in particular?”

    Ethan leans forward and plays with his chains and stares at them before answering.

    Ethan: “Like how they portray their work, they lack the sentiment of attachment to others and it shows in their sentences and the way they make their own points while demonstrating their philosophy through metaphor and repetition. The two faces of personalities, like good and evil but with subjective and objective points."
    Jean-Gusto: “You see them as the Duality of Man?”
    Ethan: “Catcher in the Rye is all about innocence, belonging and building a connection. Atlas Shrugged is about the individual, detaching the notion of subjective thought and instead be objective and logical.”
    Jean-Gusto: “I see. Well, I suppose that just about ends our today’s session.”

    Jean-Gusto stands and looks to his on looking observers who are also feeling the strain of time slipping pass the fourth hour mark. He turns off the tape recorder and Ethan is escorted out of the isolation chamber back to his cell.

    The next day, Ethan returns to the isolation chamber with another experiment with researcher Jean-Gusto and Dr. Avo presiding over the session with security personnel standing by outside the containment area. On the table set are various sphere used during the ballistics range testing stage, each sphere is composed of materials made of either a metallic substance or organic material such as ground beef or ballistics gel. Avo and Jean-Gusto stand while Ethan remains stationary within his seat without his restraints as they present the materials in attempt to decipher Ethan’s manipulation abilities. From the observation auditorium, more researcher have attended the meeting to take their notes while Dr. Avo will be illustrating the session with holograms which appear on the spherical dome surrounding the isolation chamber. Jean-Gusto narrates his role in the analysis as well as the demonstration Ethan will perform under this session’s purpose to establish a baseline study.

    Good evening, everyone, today’s briefing well discussing Subject Eight’s conversion abilities and the perimeters and limitations they present. With me today is Doctor Avo, who will be giving all of you an in depth analysis into the subject’s physiology and Meta human genetic structure as it pertains to our session. Given the nature of the Meta genome within humans, we can establish that majority of the human DNA and Meta RNA are both dominant traits passed on from parent to child while Meta RNA is a mutagen introduced to the DNA when the cells within the child mature over time. What we’re fixing to establish here today is to understand how the RNA sequence interacts with the subject under isolation with control substances and within the presence of personnel. With our first test, we’ll be working with both inorganic and organic material compose purely of a singular material fabricated using 3-D printing to take the shape of a sphere roughly three inches in diameter.

    Passing the mic over to Dr. Avo:

    Now on to the subject’s physiology, we’ve determined the Meta RNA mutagen presents extremely different reactions to each subject differently. Some of the mutagen will produce varied results which can drastically change the internal functions of certain organs, the external features or in extreme cases vastly alter the body to mutate into polymorphic entities. On the cellular level, the RNA and DNA co-exist supplying equal portions of red and white blood cells which carry the genetic material to the circulatory system. On the molecular level, when the RNA interacts with the DNA, the mutagen produced by the RNA merges with the DNA both cells reproduce a combination of genetic material compose of entirely of a new substance which we refer to as Reunium Lipids. As the substance acts as the body’s subset of lipids, which repair the body’s damaged cells, the Reunium Lipids adjust the body’s internal mutagen composition with aging until maturity. Upon maturity, the Reunium Lipids will evolve allowing mutated cells to genetically harden, solidifying the steady flow of the Reunium preventing further development of other mutations.

    Avo passes the microphone over to Jean-Gusto

    Proceeding with our first test, Subject Eight will begin to attempt to manipulate a sphere of wood to a desirable form. From further testing, we’ll be referring to the subject as Ethan until the end of our session.

    Jean-Gusto: “Okay, Ethan, are you ready to begin?”
    Ethan: “Yes, sir”
    Avo: “Begin the test using your mind to manipulate the object”
    Ethan: “Um”
    Avo: “Is something wrong?”
    Ethan: “I don’ really know how to do that?”

    Jean-Gusto taps his cheek with his finger and points out a point in his evaluation that may help. Referring to the point of Ethan’s first use to alter the taste of his food and the make on his first attempt to change shape, Jean-Gusto suggests starting with that event and adjust his method accordingly by using it as a mental exercise. Taking the wooden sphere into his hand, Ethan looked upon it and focuses keenly on it before giving up on the first attempt. Taking the sphere of metal, Ethan makes a valiant attempt but ultimately fails to even make a dent. Moving on the plate of raw ground beef rolled into a ball of meat, the first attempt is a success. Watching the ground beef mold raise and flatten before it raises once more taking the shape of a hamburger with bun and all the fixings but lacking the consistency nor color. Placing the ground beef sculpture back onto the plate, Ethan returns to the wooden sphere. Using the same method of shaping the ground beef, he changes the shape of the wood into a small tree with the pines being barren of leaves. Returning to the metallic sphere but the method doesn’t react to anything. Jean-Gusto calls time and takes the three sculptures and examines them and passes them over to Avo who both nod approvingly.

    Now that Ethan has proven our assumption about the nature of his ability to manipulate organic materials, the limitations are limited to the manipulation of inorganic materials that are refined and unrefined. While the organic material in the wood is processed and refined into a solid mass, the composition is still a material that can be broken down to lesser forms. After seeing the structural change, it would appear that the amount of material is equivalent to the amount of material produced. In a one to one ratio, the mass provided can only be manipulated within the confines of the same perimeters as the material provides. While adding to the overall mass can be plausible, in theory, to increase the size and use of the excess material to make additional details to the shape composition. The material will remain in the same state of composition instead of a different composition using a different material. Now on to the second part of the experiment. Our currently running theory is if the material is capable to structurally change, we hope that our next test can change the composition Ethan, I want you to change the quality of the materials the same way as the taste in the food you made before.

    Ethan takes the plate of ground beef and focuses on the ground beef’s integrity and composition. Imagining the ground beef as wood, the hamburger begins changing the color to a darkened brown and laminated to a shiny polish to which stuns the people watching. Avo walks over and picks up the hamburger and attempts to separate the bun top from the ‘meat’ of the bun and finds that the entire thing was completely solid. He places the burger down and nods to Ethan who moves onto the wooden tree sculpture; the wooden tree shrinks and decays into a dark pile of sticks before secreting a liquid which dissolves the wood and reduced to a pile of black goo. Ethan lets the black goo slide off his hand and onto the table with a hard, wet, thud. Avo pulls a latex glove out of his lab coat and wraps his hand up with it and picks up the strange mass and examines it before moving his hand over to Jean-Gusto then places it back to the spot where he picked it from. Ethan puts his hands in his lap and waits. Jean-Gusto clears his throat as his disgust washes over when Avo nudges him.

    Jean-Gusto: “Ethan, can you tell us what happened?”
    Ethan: “At first I tried to change the wood but every time I tried to do anything to it, I would get a migraine. So I stopped, I tried the metal but I felt my brain turn into a wave of really loud ringing and my face got numb, eventually I just stopped because I was getting a headache and the loudness got worse. But the meat was smooth, something about it was relaxing and calming, like rubbing your fingers together but smoother. I liked the feeling so I thought about the hamburger when I felt the texture in my hand, then it started to change shape.”

    Jean-Gusto: “And the material?”
    Ethan: “Well I improvised. I don’t want to taste the ground beef or wood, who know what disgusting trash is on your hands so I thought what about changing the ground beef into wood and the wood vise versa.”
    Jean-Gusto: “Then what happen?”
    Ethan: “Then I remembered something about the food paste and how I changed the taste and I was reminded about how bad the goo was and it sorta became … this”
    Jean-Gusto: “Can you try the metal sphere next?”
    Ethan: “I’m not willing to attempt it if it makes my head explode.”
    Jean-Gusto: “We’ll not ask you again if you try. Please, we’re learning more than before”
    Ethan: “Fine, but I’m going to need something for my head afterwards.”

    Ethan takes the sphere into his hand and tries his best to change it. But the attempt cause Ethan to drop the sphere onto the table, it rolls off the table but he climbs out of his chair and make another attempt while it. He swears and grits his teeth to the point where blood runs from his nose as the sphere hums loudly, but Jean-Gusto stops Ethan before he hurts himself further. Ethan stops and drops the sphere onto the table and sits down, he feels the blood running from his nose and wipes it from his upper lip and stares at it before wiping it onto his prison issue shirt.

    Jean-Gusto: “Seems like that’s as much as we can expect from the attempt. I believe that’s all we can do for today. Ethan, we appreciate your cooperation, security will return you to your cell and I’ll have someone bring you some aspirin for you.”

    Security enters the isolation chamber and takes Ethan out of the cell. Avo and Jean-Gusto continue to with the session as he directly interacts with the researchers in observation. Taking a turn down a corridor into a stairwell moving up to three floors into Containment Cells and walking up to the fourth level and eighth cell. Ethan enters the cell and security asks him to return to the meal port of the prism shielded door where they remove his shackles and the handcuffs placed behind his back. He takes a seat on his cot and lays down into his pillow. As his head touches the pillow he looks forward to see someone sitting on the toilet in front of him.

    Dressed in the sterile white prison seat, his hair is a dark black color shoulder in length, standing around 5’7 feet tall and in well-toned shape filling out his uniform well to express his musculature features and defining attributes in his nether regions. They look over to Ethan, who is shocked to see them.

    Unknown Prisoner: “Hello, Ethan”
    Ethan: “Who are you, how did you get in here?”
    Unknown: “Relax, kid”
    Ethan: “How do you know my name?”

    The figure sitting now stands and crouches in front of Ethan, they look into his eyes which resonate with a red glow in his irises and the prison who also has the same eyes but resonate an ice blue glow.

    Unknown Prisoner: “You can call me Helix”

    In the city of New Haven, the center of the city is the Pantheon of Heroes, a monumental structure the size of a football stadium takes up the circumference of the plaza surrounded by mega corporations and skyscrapers leveling the height of the largest statue placed at the center of a large fountain of a statuesque man holding the world above his head while standing on a memorial stone with the name of war veterans that took part in the first World War. At the top of the memorial plaque is the name Atlas engraved in to it in bold capital letters along the bottom of the “Pantheon of Heroes” whose name are also written in the stone tablet and the dates of many who are no longer alive to this day.

    The Pantheon of Heroes site is a twenty story building with many facilities to accommodate the many heroes who work and train there. The first floor of the Westward wing of the Pantheon are the many small classrooms suited to house fifty students that stretch to all around forming a “wing” shape with the feathered branching paths leading to lobbies and recreation areas for relaxation. The Eastward wing of the first room are the training class room that can accommodate a total of twenty five students in each with the feathered branches reserved for equipment storage and locker rooms.

    The second floor up to the fourth floor for either side of the wings are for dormitories to house the heroes and students that reside there for their training and tutelage. The fifth floor is for the offices of the heroes who participate in investigations and case work that can be assigned to heroes base on ranking from the Amateurs Tier 1 to God Tier 7. The east and west wing of the sixth floor are reserved for the middle class heroes in active duty that serve the city of New Haven and are rewarded with accommodations fitting of their performance.

    The seventh floor is built for range and large scale combat arenas with a large room spanning the entire ring and walls covered in shock absorption proof material that can withstand a megaton bomb. The eighth and ninth floor are more spacious dormitories for top performing students that excel in their academic and athletic abilities. Having a much more luxurious dormitory and better access to the more advanced training and classrooms on the floors above encourages and motivates the student to be better heroes. Tenth floor and eleventh floor for both east and west wings are larger classrooms that can hold one hundred students with an auditorium style seating arrangements.

    The twelfth floor is the interim corridor that encompasses the entire facility surrounding the monument and reaching other parts of the building as well as the upper floors of the center structure’s coliseum that extend inward to the seating arrangements for large scale events open to the general public. Thirteenth through fifteenth floor is the entire medical facility built like a hospital with advance equipment to cure and fix many injuries ranging from chemical and radioactive to broken bones and fractured psyches with a functioning psychiatric ward.

    Sixteenth and seventeenth floors are the upper class heroes that take care of the more difficult and dangerous assignments that are far more riskier than the fourth tier and below tasks suited for middle class heroes. While the luxurious housing for these floors are suitable for even for the wealthiest patrons, each housing contains their own laundry and healing units which used standardize nano-tech stasis tanks unique only to the Pantheon. Eighteenth floor are the personal offices of the heroes to conduct their own businesses or meetings, the nineteenth floor is the final floor holding the largest indoor arena suitable for personal and subtle place to perform training exercises with complete discretion.

    Following the corridor for the twelfth floor to the express elevator to the eighteenth floor. A hero wearing a fur-collar coat with a hexagon pattern walks through the corridor passing other office workers and fellow heroes while combing their fiery orange hair spiking up their hair. With younger heroes moving out of this heroes’ path they nod their heads out of respect and the hero stops before the elevator chuckling with a grin smiling ear to ear. The elevator props open and the hero steps in turning around to reveal the face of a grizzled man in his middle thirties with a 5 o’clock shadow and a makings of a decent chin strap beard with black Goth eyeliner and a tattoo “Infirius” printed straight across the cheek under his left eye. Swiping his Hero badge, issued to all heroes, the elevator close and he throws up a middle finger to the heroes passing by.

    Inside of an office fitted a window overlooking the front of the city plaza facing the back end of the statue out front, a conference table sits in the middle of the room with a desk sprawling between one side of the room to the other displayed in front of the window. At the desk sits a giant of a man who dons a white skin-tight suit with a red racing stripe on the sleeve with gold bands on the wrists and neckline. The man runs his hands through a stack of cases and rubs hs temple in frustration before hitting the table with enough force breaking a hole into it but the table regenerate and the piece reformed into the solid foundation with a techno colored shielding system static flashing before disappearing into thin air. The titan hears a known on the front double doors as the sound resonates loudly throughout the room echoing, the man bellows a hearty voice telling the visitor to come in. The badboy hero from before enters the room and followed by a woman wearing a dress that sparks small red flames every time she moves in it. The woman sits on the end of the conference table while the badboy hero takes a seat leaning back in the chair.

    Infirius: “Took you long enough”
    Temptess: “Where’s Slinger?”
    Atlas: “Busy on a case. Let’s get this meeting over with, I have a meeting with the secretary of state.”

    The titan stand at a whooping 6’7 as he towers over his desk and stretches his long legs over the desk and stomps the ground with a loud thud ponding the pavement which echoed around the room with each step making a less audible reaction. As the titan takes a seat with his fellow heroes, he folds his hands and looks up at the woman who catches his eye.

    Temptess: “Any word on Detective Noir’s investigation?”
    Atlas: “Nothing”
    Infirius: “It’s been three years, he’s wasting his time searching for dead leads. I say we take him off the case and start finding the missing kids.”
    Temptess: “Noir hasn’t let go of him. You promised we‘d go and find him together.”
    Atlas: “He’s right, Temptess, it’s been too long since he went missing. We have to assume the worse.”

    The woman, Temptess, stands and flips around and stands beside the man sitting, Infirius, who rocks in his chair. The titan, Atlas, raises his enclosed fists up to his mouth with concern while Infirius looks up to his companion and shakes his head and looks down raising an eyebrow to Atlas who met his eye.

    Infirius: “I’m sorry, Celeste”
    Temptess: “Don’t call me that”
    Atlas: “I know we have to keep looking but we need his helping finding the kids, Temptess. If Helix is still out there, he’ll want us to prioritize the children before his own safety.”
    Infirius: “I’ll leave the Detective to you then. There’s the problem with the Red Skulls, Laughing Corpse and the Black Hand”

    Temptess crosses her arms and lets out a huff while lowering her head in disappointment.

    Temptess: “Yes, we know they’re at war with each other.”
    Atlas: “No, there’s a new player in town pulling the strings.”

    Atlas press his finger on the table which scans and brings up a pop-up display with the room darkening to showcase a holoscreen with files that he moves around with his massive fingers, he swipes one screen over to Infirius and Temptess. The picture of a blank masked figure with a question mark flashing on the screen.

    Atlas: “They call him the Shadow Broker.”
    Infirius: “What we know about him is that he’s an information broker working in the city”
    Temptess: “Any known associates?”
    Atlas: “No, Noir only gave me the dossier on the few he suspects. Any guesses on his link to the three gangs?”
    Infirius: “Red Skulls deal in stolen goods, illegal tech and trafficking. A few of their less savory business entail were taken by Laughing Corpse who specialize in wetwork and the ‘disposal’ business working closely with the Butani Mafia. Then there’s the branch of the Black Hand, international arms dealing, terrorism and assassination who just got into the scene with all the local criminal syndicates."
    Temptess: “Why would the Black Hand be this close to central? Don’t they know we have a higher density of Heroes than other cities?”
    Atlas: “My thoughts exactly but we don’t have the luxury to speculate when there’s too many fires to put out. Not too long ago, the three gangs just declared war with each other and tipping off the local police to the activities with the crime syndicates, now they’re out for blood as much as the Black Hand’s other branches.”

    Atlas shows many videos of the many gangs fighting with heroes across the city and a fire fight between two gangs who exchange high grade military grade firearms near the pier and nightclub districts.

    Infirius: “All the more reason we should remove the Black Hand once and for all”
    Temptess: “I agree with Infirius”
    Atlas: “You know we can’t.”
    Infirius: “What’s more important? They kill innocent people every day, the moment we hold back is one someone else will be dead. We can’t keep holding back, Atlas”
    Temptess: “Atlas”
    Atlas: “Enough!”

    Atlas slams his fists down on the table only to have it regenerate and display a readout on strength percentage before zeroing out.

    Atlas: “Don’t you think I know that? If we step out of line, we are through. All the work we’ve put in to make us what we are now will be for nothing if we turn back to our old ways.”
    Infirius: “Forget the Initiative, Atlas, we have to do what we have to do to keep this city safe”
    Atlas: “You can’t be serious”

    Atlas shakes his head disapprovingly knowing that they mean killing the criminals and putting down the villains lurking in the city.

    Temptess: “We have our principles, Atlas, you have yours.”
    Atlas: “You two are crossing a line that shouldn’t be crossed. We aren’t the executioners we once were in the World War, we have to abide by the rules!”

    The room got awkwardly quiet as they echo can be heard in the hallway. Infirius stands up with his hands drifting into the beltline of his pants and staying on his exposed torso covered in tattoos.

    Infirius: “The only one whose gone soft here is you, Atlas, you were the vanguard of the meritocracy and the symbol of power. When you asked us to follow you into battle, we never questioned it”

    Infirius walks closer to Atlas and paces around him to stare up at the picture frame of the three of them in United State military uniforms. He moves from one picture to another of years of service dedicated to the cause for justice and world peace.

    Infirius: “we never questioned your orders and we followed you into hell itself. But this? This isn’t any different then the Gulags we sprung from the Soviets. We’re risking our lives to save those people from being slaves to those tyrants, we can still do that for those people out there who can’t be saved.”

    Temptess steps towards the table and leans forward and shoot her death grip stre at Atlas and her eyes are lit with a hellfire passion.

    Temptess: “If you want to hide behind your precious mask, pretend this was just another day in the life of Atlas. We won’t stop you, Dane, but sooner or later you will have to make the choice to either save lives the safe way or the harder way.”
    Atlas: “You step one foot outside the law, you’ll end up like the other Vigilantes. Is that what you want?”

    Infirius turns around with his boots clunking against the pavement and pulls his hands out and plants them on his waist and tilts his head to the side as he slowly walks pass Atlas.

    Infirius: “Maybe the Vigilantes have a point, ever think about that?”
    Temptess: “We always thought they were just ruthless, but seeing as how they cracked more cases and broke up the eastern coast syndicates every day - why aren’t we doing the same”
    Atlas: “What are you getting out of this, Celeste? Berrett? Why now?”

    Infirius plants his hands on Atlas’ shoulders and grips them with a sense of tense and hardened muscle filling his hands that don’t bend or fold much like tempered steel.

    Infirius: “When they asked us to join the Initiative, you said we’d be the champions of justices, peace and order. I told you that I wasn’t interested in shaking hands, dedication ceremonies and sponsoring fucking shampoo commercials. We’re pulling our weight and not one of us has our own statue, not recognized for our bravery.”
    Temptess: “We’re sick of living in your shadow, Atlas. I think you lost touch of what it means to be a hero, we’re not street performers.”

    Atlas jumps out of his seat and storms slowly towards Infirius and raises his hand towards him and pokes him in the chest.

    Atlas: “What do you do exactly? I’m out there searching for answers, the whole world looks to me to keep the peace between Metas and the Humans. The UN wants us to work for the military exclusively against the Soviets, I said no! I’m trying very hard to shoulder the burden while you two try to convince me that breaking our laws is necessary to kill criminals! Don’t you see we’re on a short leash? If we step outside those boundaries, we’re finished. The US can’t have a civil war when we’re so close to peace between the Soviets, if the Metas get pulled into military service there is not chance of us ever returning to our normal lives.”

    Infirius stares at the hand that keeps poking him in the chest and his eyes glow an ominous orange glow as a hexagram patterned surface of his entire body begins to create a barrier around him.

    Infirius: “What are we doing… I’ll show you what we’re doing”

    Infirius digs into his coat and tosses a darkly colored vial with blood coating his hands.

    Atlas: “What did you do”
    Infirius: “A kid was killed, his father drugged him and stabbed him repeatedly.”
    Temptess: “The kid was a Meta”
    Infirius: “Street drug is called Refrain, it disables our abilities temporarily. There are people out there ashamed of being one of us, some killing others, we’re not the heroes they want us to be. So I‘m taking matters into my own hands.”
    Temptess: “Too bad you’re up here in your tower to really notice all the wrong out there.”
    Infirius: “We’ve watched a lot of people out there dying, police looking the other way and no one bats an eye when one of us gets taken out. This is what we have to greets us when we go out there risking our lives.”

    Infirius steps forward with the barrier making a wall that pushes Atlas back and the force field makes Atlas jolt from the burning sensation the barrier does to his skin. Temptess steps over from the left and raises her hand to Infirius and crosses her arms as he stops.

    Temptess: “I watched a group of young men beat and raped a young girl, she didn’t make it in time when we brought her in to the hospital. She’s pregnant with a Meta.”
    Infirius: “We had a good run, Atlas, twenty years of crime fighting was fun but its changed from the simple bootlegging and gangland wars.”
    Temptess: “We’re joining the Vigilantes, we’re putting an end to these bastards”

    Infirius drops the barrier and he calms down and the glow from his eyes dies and he shakes off the rage building up inside him.

    Atlas: “I’m not going to stop you. But know this, there will be a reckoning if you kill within my city. Friend or no, you will face the judge for your crimes. Am I understood?”
    Infirius: “I guess that’s it then”
    Temptess: “I suppose it is”

    Infirius and Temptess walk pass Atlas and storm out the double doors into the hallway. The two of them look back at Atlas who storms in the doorway with a an anger fuel rage deep inside him boiling with his own arms crossed with his muscle flexing.

    Atlas: “You leave, there’s no turning back”
    Infirius: “The League is obsolete, Atlas. It’s about time we join our next generation of heroes and help them grow as Vigilantes. You should retire while you can still breath.”
    Temptess: “It’s not too late to come with us”
    Atlas: “Someone has to stay behind, in case you’re wrong”

    Infirius storms off giving Atlas the middle finger when he does, but Temptess stands there with her hands crossed and walks towards Atlas and a tear runs down her face and it evaporates away when she looks up to him.

    Temptess: “Goodbye, Atlas”

    Temptess takes her leave as she doesn’t look back when she does. Atlas stands there with his eye glowing with a rage fit for a man his size and career stature, he stares down and shakes his head disapprovingly before dropping his hands down at his side and walks back into his office and a sadden expression.
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