"What's the status?"
"They are currently unaware."
"And the target?"
"We're preparing a strike team. We shall acquire several others along with the primary target."
"Excellent. Are the holding cells prepared?"
"For the primary target, yes. As for the others, it'll be case by case, but nothing that we can't handle."
"I don't want a repeat of the same mistakes again."
"Yes sir, we have several telepaths conditioned for this occasion."
"You know the price of failure?"
"Carry out the order."
"Will this succeed?"
"There are no guarantees, however the prospects are in our favor."
"Capture success rate at 87.57%, increasing with each day, by point zero-zero-three."
"Let's begin planning the next stage then."
spent a month (my birthday passed without any fanfare, thankfully) in the
The orphanage wasn't like anything I had ever seen before, or even come close to experiencing. Bones was the closest one to my age, so despite her misgivings (translating into annoyance) with my presence, she put up with me. That helped me more than anything to adjust to life there. She put up with me, and I put up with her. It worked out well for us both.
So, every day, when Bones went off to uni, I'd start my work around the place, stopping only to tuck Kathy in for her afternoon nap, and be there when she woke up. I'd stop about an hour after Bones got back, letting her get started on her homework for the day before going off to annoy her. Kathy would come to help sometimes too.
Kathy had forced her way into my heart that first day, making me sit with her every Sunday while the other orphans watched a show I could have cared less about. I watched her when I got the chance, seeing the other kids shy from her because of how she looked and how she acted. It broke my heart , it hurt something warm inside of me. I hadn't found out what it was by then. I sat with her when she was going over her own lessons, struggling with the words at times. That was another reason why the other kids made fun of her , she had trouble reading and spelling, something the other kids found hilarious. They didn't laugh when I was around her, but I could tell by Kathy's looks at them that the words were still being spoken, and they still hurt.
Bones walked in on the two of us going over a book one day, surprised to see me working so hard with Kathy. She asked me why I was doing this, being so nice to Kathy. I told her the truth. That I didn't know. I truly, honest to God didnít know why the little ray of sunshine stole a piece of my heart. But she did. Bones didn't need to hear about that part at the time.
"Cole, you down there?" Bones called from the top of the stairs. She had taken to calling me by my last name, since I refused to use her first.
I was commissioned by the Madam to clean out and refurbish the basement.
After I nearly broke my leg going downstairs the first time (It went right through a step.) I decided the stairs were the first thing to be fixed. I fixed the necessary steps first, and left the ones that could hold my weight.
"I'm working, aren't I?" She normally didn't come home before I was finished with work, and I never bothered her before her homework was done. I thought that I could at least be extended the same courtesy. "What do you need?"
"There's someone I'd like you to meet." I didn't like him already. Didn't need to see him, didn't need to hear him. I didn't like him. And that bugged me, because I usually got along with everybody well enough not to hate them before they even opened their mouths.
"Can't it wait?" I put a few nails in my mouth before placing the plank of wood where I wanted it. Taking one nail out, I began to hammer it in place, trying to work out a little frustration.
Hearing someone walking down the stairs I stopped working and moved back out from underneath them. I had been working on the lower steps support where I had been having a lot of problems and almost finished with it. There were a few boards higher up that weren't quite stable either, but for the most part, they could hold my weight, so I wasn't worried about them yet.
A loud snap echoed through the basement, and I heard someone grunting behind me. I turned to see someone's body dangling beneath the staircase, feet kicking wildly.
"You're shitting me, right?" I muttered, watching this guy try and pull himself back up. I took out the nails from my mouth, and placed them next to the hammer.
"Aren't you going to help him Cole?" Bones was annoyed. So I got blamed for this idiot's mistake. 'Brilliant.'
"Tell him to drop," I yelled back.
"What do you mean drop?" The man's voice whined. I picked the hammer up again, and began to work on reinforcing the support again. I looked over my shoulder, staring at the half foot distance beneath the man's feet.
"I mean, let go. How many definitions of Ďdropí are there?"
"Cole!" Bones stomped down the stairs, causing dust to fall from the steps.
"What?" I yelled, stepping out from underneath the stairs. She turned to yell at me some more before she got a glimpse of the guy dangling from step. "I told him to drop, and he won't, that's his problem. My problem now is fixing the damn step he broke."
"You can let go now," Bones said, still glaring at me. The man dropped to his feet, a foolish look beginning to cover his face. "Cole, I'd like you to meet Jonathon. He and I are working together on a project for one of our classes."
I finally took a good look at the guy who had to be at least five years older than me, if not more. He was about the same height as Bones, maybe a bit shorter. Other than that, he was probably above average in looks. He had brown hair and brown eyes which were trained on Bones, rather than me, despite me just being introduced to the man.
"Why didn't you warn me?" He asked her.
"How was I supposed to know that he didn't fix it yet?" Bones shot back. Now, Jon's glare turned to me, which I matched with one of my own. "Cole, Jon, relax, both of you." I shrugged my shoulders before stepping back underneath the stairs. "I brought Jon here to help you, Cole."
"Help me? With what?" That threw me for a loop. "Not with construction, I hope." I looked back at the broken step, which was probably going to add another hour or so to my work. 'Brilliant.'
"No. With your elemental abilities." I raised an eyebrow with this.
"What makes you think I need help?" I didn't use my powers a lot, choosing to do things by hand.
Life was... easier for me if I didn't use my elemental abilities. Every time I did, they reminded me of what I had done. For the past month, I had a dream of the man I killed, drawing his water from him. I couldn't bring myself to even mold the water anymore.
"Since I saw you use them, you haven't done anything else," Bones said, crossing her arms. Jon took a step closer to her as she spoke.
"That would be my choice," I grumbled. I felt the waters inside me thrashing about. I didn't want to use them, I just wanted to forget. But not matter what I did, I couldn't. I can't forget. "I can handle myself."
"Look, Temperance, if he doesn't want your help, why bother?" Jon said. Both of us glared at him, before Bones spoke again.
"I was just trying to help." she turned from me, a hurt look obviously upon her face. There was a sharp pain in the center of my chest because of her look. I didn't mean to hurt her, and now I felt like a total ass for doing so.
"I do appreciate your help, but this isn't something that I need help with." She didn't look up at my words, and to be honest, I didn't believe them myself, so why should she? "I really don't need help with control."
I flicked my hand towards the water bottles I brought down earlier. My hands began to tremor at the thoughts running through my head, but I dove through them, trying to concentrate on the task at hand. At the time I thought I was lucky because she didnít seem to notice. As one, the tops popped off, the water growing into a wave as it left each bottle. I split it into three streams, letting the water flow around both Jon and Bones for a moment. Jon just rolled his eyes at the display, but Bones seemed to be fascinated by what I was doing.
"Big deal, I can do that," Jon said, still sneering at me. I shrugged my shoulders, holding back a smile as Bones smacked Jon's arm.
"That may be, Jon, but I could care less about doing any more," I said. I directed the water back into the bottles, watching them wobble for a moment before settling on the stack of planks. "Thank you for the offer." I directed my words to Bones, who just nodded. She was trying to dissect me with her eyes, as if I was a pile of bones for her to tell a story from. I ignored it and turned toward Jon and held out my hand. As much as I didn't like the guy, I was still polite. "It was nice meeting you." Jon just shook my hand and moved toward the stairs.
"You coming Temperance?" Her gaze finally broke, but it was still hard, indicating that she hadn't figured everything out yet.
"Yes, we need to finish up the presentation," Bones said. She gave me another look before following Jon up and out of the basement. That look told me enough. She would listen to me if I wanted to talk about it, but she wasn't going to bring it up again. Even if she had no idea what it was.
I finished the final support before moving to the broken step. By that time, I had been a little over my usual quitting time. But since the genius Bones brought by broke my a step, it was going to take me more time. I don't recall how long I spent working on the step, just that it took Kathy to come and find me.
"Donny?" I looked up from my work, a hammer in my hand, ready to strike the nail in. Kathy stood there, holding a book in her hand. "What about story time?"
"Is it that time already?" I ran a hand over my face, trying to wipe away the fatigue. 'I can't believe I forgot' I dropped the hammer to the basement floor, taking the nails with me to put in my room. "I'm so sorry, sunshine."
"Why didn't you come up? You missed dinner," She asked as I stood up. She had a small pout on her face, but there was fear there. Fear that someone who was there for her would then suddenly be gone. Fear for me breaking apart, bit by bit. I could see the same fear breaking in Bones, but in her, there was also a bit more pain there. And it was going to take me longer to break through their fear.
"Itís because the jerk Bones brought by broke a step," I said. She giggled as I lifted her up, taking the book from her. "Green Eggs and Ham?" She nodded, the smile making the pout disappear. "Haven't we read this one before?"
"But it's my favorite." She pouted again, wrapping her arms around my neck.
"Okay." I never put up a fight with her, or at least on the things that didn't matter. The few times that Kathy needed to be disciplined, Madam had asked me to take care of it. I spoke with Kathy about the problem, and put her in time out for a while, or took away her television privileges.
It was strange for me, being in the position to give out discipline. I was a seventeen year old kid. There weren't any other children that Madam asked for my help with, in anything. Kathy was the only one Madam asked me to look after from time to time. She never explained why Kathy had quickly become my responsibility, but I never complained. There was a strong attachment between Kathy and I, one that made me want to be a better person, a better man. At the time, I was beginning to feel like a father. To say the least it scared me.
Kathy played with some of the other children, but for the most part, she was teased by them. I could never find out why, as the Madam didnít know either. Bones seemed to know, but she said nothing about it. She'd just give me this odd little smile and thank me for something. At the time I had no idea what she was thanking me for.
"Do you want to eat?" She asked.
"Maybe later. It's story time right now." I wasn't hungry, there were too many other things going through my mind.
I carried her up to my room, and sat her on my bed. In the month that I had been there, I had managed to 'buy' a couple of shirts and boxers. I never wore the shirts, though, and still hadn't found any shoes that would fit my large feet. I had several books lining the small desk, one about basic construction, the others a spread of classic literature. I had Bones pick them up for me, with what little money I had gotten for working here.
I flicked the light on, letting the room fill up with the dull glow of a cheap bulb. Kathy immediately squirmed out of my arms and dropped to the floor. She ran to my bed and jumped onto it. Every time she came into my room, she did that, no matter what I said.
"Ready?" I said, moving to sit next to her on the bed. She sat up and took the book from me.
And thus, we began to read. When we first started this, it took me forever to get her to read along with me, to follow my finger with her own as I spoke. But now, she was beginning to sound out the words. It was slow going but she was getting there. It was great watching her learn so much.
"You're finally up here?" Bones stood in my doorway, leaning against the frame.
"Only for a while," I said, still looking at the book in my hand. Kathy was off the bed, and already hugging her. "Sure, leave me with the book." Kathy just giggled, still clinging to Bones.
"Where have you been? Normally youíd be bugging me by now," Bones said. She took a step into my room, something she normally didn't do. She hadn't entered it before, usually I had found my way to bug her first.
"I was working," I muttered. I moved back on the bed, leaning against the pillow.
"You never work late," she said.
"Someone made more work for me." Kathy looked between us, Bones with her head down, and me trying to figure out what she was thinking.
"I'm sorry, I thought that it would help." She looked up, trying to give me a small smile. "But I guess you don't need help." She was offering me an olive branch but I could tell she didn't mean her last words.
"Oh, I need help alright," I off set the words with a smile of my own, before muttering, "but you can't give me the help I need." I looked away, not looking at Bones or my desk. I had to avoid both at the moment, both would just dig up memories that I wanted to suppress. The same memories, but for different reasons.
"Youíre sending this letter out?" Bones asked. She had stepped into my room and was at my desk.
"No, I'm not," I said with a groan. I didnít want that, I didnít need the memories to surface right then.
"It's addressed to you," she said, picking up the letter.
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't touch that," I took the letter from her forcefully. She took a step back, shocked at my behavior, but she still glared at me.
"What's your problem?" She snapped.
"My problem is that I am currently trying to forget the hell I had to go through, and what I had to do to escape it!" I yelled. The letter crumpled in my hand as I towered over Bones. I hadn't felt an anger like that since I escaped. And I was yelling at the one person that was trying to help me. 'Brilliant.'
She just glared at me before turning toward Kathy. Lifting the little girl up, Bones grabbed the book from my bed and walked out of the room. She turned back and I felt like an idiot under her gaze.
"You can't run forever, Donovan," she said. She then walked away. She never used my first name like that, and it shook me to the core that she did.
I fell back on the bed as my knees gave way . Sitting there, I just stared at the letter in my hands with Jonas' office address written in the upper left corner.
I wanted to open the envelope and read the letter. I wanted to go after Bones and apologize. I wanted to talk to my mother, to my father. I wanted to cry over what I had done, what had been done to me, and what still could be done. I wanted to do so much.
But I just sat there.
"Do you think he got the letter?" Angie asked, for what had to have been the tenth time. She looked back at Jenny as they sat in their hotel room.
been rushed to the
"I'm sure he did," Jenny said, not looking up from the magazine she had found. It wasn't anything special, just to try and keep her mind off of things.
"Then why hasn't he responded?"
"I don't know, love, but you have to be patient," Jenny said. She got up from the bed where she had been and walked over to Angie. "He's been through a lot. He might just need some time."
"I know, but I need to see him," Angie said. She felt so lost, out of control. She was used to having enough power to make a difference, to make the right decision. Now, she could barely concentrate on anything but her son. A son that was probably alone on the other side of the world.
"If it took this long for Jonas to find him, then you know he's safe." Jenny said. She wrapped her arms around Angie, pulling her woman closer to her.
"That's not what's worrying me," Angie said. She stared out the window and down onto the street below. "What worrying me is that this isn't over."
"Whatís your status?"
"We are ready to proceed, sir."
Just beyond my conscious thoughts, the rain kept me up that all night. I listened to the rhythm of the falling raindrops, trying to let it coax me to a light sleep. Nothing. My thoughts weighed upon me so much that I couldnít relax. Too much weight rested upon my shoulders.
Kathy and Bones didn't come back. Given how late it was when Bones first visited, I wasn't surprised.† I had hurt them, but I wasn't quite sure how.
I got up from the bed, making my way up to the roof. I had fixed all of the stairs and checked the boards on the third and second floors already. At the time, I told myself I was doing it for safety reasons, but now that I needed to be out of this room, out of this crumpled hallway, I came to realize that I did it so that I could escape freely. I almost stopped by Kathy's room to check up on her, but I couldn't even find the courage to do that, and checking on Bones was going to take more courage than I had at the time.
The stairs didn't make a sound as I walked up to the roof. I didn't need anyone else listening to me, or watching me then. I wanted to be alone. The door didn't make a sound either as I opened it, and stepped out into the rain.
The sky was crying. I could feel it speaking to me as it rained down upon the world. The rain filled my senses, even the one I gained as a WE. Every drop was mine, even before it was released from the clouds.
Ever since this all started, I felt as if my world was on fire. Like something was burning inside of me. The memories boiled to the surface as I let the rain wash away the pain. Or at least I tried to.
I first arrived in this place, it was raining, but I didn't get the chance to
go outside like I had planned. Now as I stood on the roof then, the rain
crashed upon me, I felt rejuvenated. I felt.... something. The rain splashed
against the roof, against me and the burns receded. Nothing would ever take
them away from me completely. And time wouldnít heal those wounds that scarred
me. I would carry them, for the rest of my life. I would earn more scars as the
years went by. But the rain.... The rain, though, was
making it okay.
I felt the wave of water rush over me, washing some of the guilt away. I held my hands above my head, imagining a large bowl in my hands. The water began to fall into that form as the rain quickly filled it up. I held it out, letting the water splash over the sides, even drip onto me from the bottom of my umbrella of water. The water shifted above me, and I moved with it, the bowl growing into a globe that rested upon my shoulders.
The water swirled around the globe, rolling over my shoulders in waves. Gravity and friction should have brought it down, but I held it, the weight pressing against my body. I was Atlas. I held the world on my shoulders. The globe grew and soon passed beyond my hands. But I held it. I still hold it.
My mind wasnít content with just the globe of water. Once it had settled into a weight that gave me discomfort, my subconscious mind took over. My problems were deeply rooted, and decided it was time to come out and play.
I felt small burst shuffle the weight of the world on my shoulders. In the dark, I watched several dark forms appear in front of me. Darkness hid their faces, if they had any, and it was only the shape of the men that I could see.
I closed my eyes, the fear flowing over me as the rain poured down on me and the men now on the roof. Still I didnít drop the globe. It may have started small, but now the amount of pressure it pushed against me, the size of the burden was so great, I couldnít just let it go.
I felt the first blow against my ribs. The forms had moved closer, and one swung hard against me. I grunted in pain, and stumbled, but I quickly regained my balance. My sub consciousness wouldnít let me fight back, or drop this globe.
The next attack came from behind, landing just above my hip. I felt the shift of weight and pain flow through me as another form took a swing.
The pain varied, in location, in depth on my body, and in force. I didnít know how long I stood there, taking the physical beating my mind had been putting me through. The rain poured down onto the roof, the forms poured down their attacks upon me, and the tears poured down my face.
The world froze. I could feel the rain threating to fall, but I must have reached out and stopped it. The resistance was strong, but there on the roof, I had stopped the torrents of rain. The globe shuffled above me, my arms straining to hold onto the world. There still was an arm in my gut and I could feel the one that had just finished punishing my left leg.
She stood there staring at me. She looked confused, which she had every right to be, but sad as well. As she stepped out into the rain, I regained my senses. The rain began to fall again, and I felt like I was in control of my life again once more.
Pushing up against the roof, I lifted the globe up higher, drawing the water men back into it. With another push, I felt the weight move off my shoulders, and the pressure from my head. Until it was gone, I hadn't even felt the strain I had placed my mind under.
"Donovan? What were you doing up here?" Bones stepped closer, the rain now coating her body. I waved my hand above her, concentrating on a dome. The water moved away from her, the rain no longer hitting her. She just stared at me, and I took the moment to draw the water from her clothes and hair. No reason for her to get sick because of me.
"I was releasing some pent up anger," I said. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to say, or admit, but there wasn't much else I could say. I felt the taste of blood on my lips and wiped it, knowing that it hadnít come from the blows the water men had dealt me.
My power had grown, but the beating I gave my body and the pressure I exerted to control it was too much for my mind, and it responded how it used to, by giving me a tremendous headache and a stellar nosebleed as well.
"You were..." I let out a hollow laugh as she trailed off.
"Yeah..." I scratched the back of my neck, feeling sheepish at being caught. "I deserved it though."
"What?" Her eyes snapped back to mine. There was that gaze again, boring into me. I gave her self-deprecating smile. "You were...."
"I remembered what I did, and I didn't like the me my memories hold." She stood there for a moment, still staring at me. I shifted under her gaze, already uncomfortable and embarrassed. The feeling just grew. "I'm going to go back inside." I took a step around her and toward the door. The stare was still on my back as I walked in pain I had caused myself.
"Do...do you want to talk about it?" I stopped at her words, the door knob resting in my hand.
"Not tonight," I said. I looked back at her, the calm in the storm. She stood there, on the roof, in the mist of the storm that I felt gravitated to me. Yet she was untouched. It was my doing but still she stood there, unafraid of the rain around her, her eyes expressive and welcoming. "Maybe never, but thank you."
"I don't want to see you doing that again." There was a fierceness to her words, and it startled me. "You have to promise me to never do that again."
"I can't put down the burden," I said. She stomped over to me, staring up at me as if daring me to defy her that moment.
"I'm not asking you to." Bones was inches from me. I had been closer than this to my one girlfriend but somehow, this felt like it meant much more this time. And it scared the hell out of me. "I'm asking you to promise me that you'll never do that again."
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to tell you about all this," I said. I motioned out to the rain, my hand passing through the dome I had made. She looked at the water dripping from my hand before reaching out of the dome, towards me. I think she just realized that she wasn't wet anymore, but I was never sure with her. "But I can try."
"I'd like that." It was her turn to place a hand on me, this time on my arm. I gave her a smile, a charm smile, that she didn't reprimand me for. But I managed to get her to smile back at me. "Now, promise." Immediately the smile faded and she was glaring at me again. I let out a sigh. I wasn't going to get off the roof until she got that promise out of me.
"I promise that I wonít try and kick the crap out of myself," I muttered. I felt like an eight year old caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
"Good." She nodded her head firmly. She walked around me, giving me only a backwards glance, as if to ask if I was going to follow her down the stairs, before heading down herself.
Looking up at the sky, I felt a sense of relief overcome me. The pain settled around me as my muscles began to fill up with blood, yet something felt lighter in me. I couldnít tell what had happened, what I had done. Not on that night at least. The storm inside me had calmed, if but for a little while.
"There may be a problem, sir."
intelligence reports that Number
"No word on his power level, there were fluctuations this past week."
"Proceed with caution, donít actively engage. We arenít prepared at the moment for his capture."
"And the other? If he protects her, what should we do?"
are prepared to take as much as we can. We will strike tomorrow, once our
intelligence is in place. I want you to take as many as possible. Should Number
"Capture as many as you can. However, I donít want any unnecessary losses. Is that understood?"
"Chances of success?"
"94.06% chance. The unconfirmed presence of Number
The next day, I worked in the basement and Bones worked with Jon again. I hid from Bones for most of the day as well. It had to have been a Saturday, because she was there, working on the project with Jon, instead of at her classes at university. She didn't say anything to me about the previous night, and I sure as hell wasn't going to bring it up.
I carried those bruises silently, thankful for the dark complexion I had, as well as the shirt that managed to fit me. Moving around was painful at times but hiding the bruises hid the problem from everyone else. I thought that I could deal with it by myself, and for the most part I was correct. The burden had lifted enough for me to finally open the letter from Jonas that morning. It wasn't from him though, it just came through his office. I barely could read my mother's writing through my tears. She was worried about me but thankful to finally be able to hear from me. "I love you son. Stay safe." She was warning me. I knew enough about my mother, about my family, to recognize that there was still something going on.
I knew very well that I was probably a wanted felon. I had no proof of identity, and if anyone thought that I posed some danger to him, I would be carted off to prison. Away from this place. Away from my mother, from Kathy..... from Bones. At the time, that thought scared me so much that I had to block it out. I didn't need to worry about all of that while trying to figure out the mess I was in.
"Donny?" I looked up from the wires and wire cutters in my hand. I wasnít great at electrical work, but I could do it well enough that I only shocked myself a couple times before figuring out what I needed to do. My hand was sufficiently numb when Kathy called down to me.
"Yes sunshine?" She was standing at the top of the stairs, waiting for me. I had told the Madam that no one was to go down the stairs until I had finished and she must have relayed it to the rest of the house.
"You coming up for lunch?" I looked at the wires, debating about giving up the task altogether in favor of lunch. "Pweeease?" She pouted, trying and succeeding in getting her way. She quickly found out that it worked against me rather well.
I groaned as I stood, the crouched position doing wonders for my bruised muscles. I caught Kathy as she jumped into my arms while I walked up the stairs. I added a mental note to make a banister or something to prevent people from falling down the stairs. It also was much safer for me than electrical work.
"The helpís eating with us too?" I turned to see Jon next to Bones, glaring at me. I opened my mouth to say something, but stopped. It wasn't worth commenting on.
"Jonathon, leave him alone," Bones said. "Cole has as much right to be here, if not more than you. WE can meet some other time, if you arenít comfortable here." She glared at him, and I got the impression that this wasn't the first time that she had brought up going somewhere else. That struck me as odd, that he wanted to be here, when the library at the university was in all likelihood a better location.
Jon looked uncomfortable, and began to flicker his gaze between me and Bones. "No, we can stay." his voice squeaked at the end.
"Bones, did you suggest coming here?" I asked her still keeping my glare on Jon. Something wasn't right. I could feel it. It scared me.
"No, Jon asked if we could meet here," Bones asked. "Is something wrong?" I watched Jon flinch slightly, shuffling around a bit. He crossed his arms before dropping them back to his side.
"That depends, is there Jon?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Jon said
"I think you do Jon, why deny it?" I asked again. Part of me hoped I was wrong and there wasn't going to be trouble, that Jon was really only interested in Bones. That part of me was taking a metaphorical beating from the side that seemed to stand up and defend her. "You know who I am don't you?"† Jon looked defeated at this, like I had figured it all out.
Kathy was the only thing keeping me from throttling him. She clung to my neck, holding back the storm inside.
"Cole, what is this all about?" Bones looked between us again, but she moved closer to me. The children were clumping together and moving around to stand behind me.
"You want to tell them Jon? Or should I?" He finally found a backbone, staring me down.
"Tell them what, how you're a murderer?" The gasps filled the room. I looked at Bones for a moment before handing her Kathy. "How you escaped a from the treatment facility?"
"Is that what they're calling it nowadays? Because I could have sworn that I was being held against my will, at gun point." I took a step closer, glaring at him. I felt a shift in the water, like he was trying to build a defense. "That they forced drugs into my system that could kill me if I didn't remove them. That they beat my mother, my Aunt Jenny. That they held them against their will. Held me against my will."
Jon just glared at me, trying to hide the fear I saw in him. "You harm a child in this house, Mister, and you will have to answer to me." The Madam spoke, standing in front of the youngest ones. A mother bear protecting her cubs. Her glare though wasnít directed at me, but rather at the man before me.
"So tell me, Jon, why are you here? What do you really want?" Jon glared at me, his face getting redder as he became angrier. I felt the water beginning to move violently around within the walls.
"You can't stop them, no one can," he muttered.
"Not now, Bones," I said. I balled my fists, taking control of the waters that Jon tried to steal. He stepped back in shock as I calmed them down, letting them continue their flow.
"How...how did you...."
"Cole?" My anger at the situation overflowed.
"What?" I snapped at her, but she didn't take a step back. Her eyes were glossed over as if she was seeing something I couldnít. Her psychoperception...
"Who's after you?"
"Shit." I muttered. I reached out with my own mind, grasping past Jon as I tossed a glass of water at him. I felt his power crashing up against my control, trying to break the bonds that now held him. "How many Bones?"
"I don't know, at least a dozen, maybe more," she whispered. Jon tried to break the water chains that now held him, but I just tightened them around him.
"Madam, would you?" She already was ushering the children away.
"What are you going to do?" Bones asked.
"I don't know, Iíll hold them off for as long as I can, I guess." I leaned over to Kathy and Bones. Kathy wrapped her arms around Bones' neck as they both stared at me.
"You're going to do what?" Bones glared at me.
"Protect you two," I muttered.
"You can't stop them, no one can," Jon said as he struggled against his bonds. I waved my hand, causing the water to flow over his mouth. His cries were muffled, as I turned back to Bones.
"They most likely arenít here for me." Jon met me shortly before they came. Even if he had relayed it to his boss, if my assumptions were correct, then they knew what I could do. They knew that if pushed, if pissed, I'd let loose again.
"We've planned for such actions," Jon said confidently. He removed the water gag I had placed on him , I didnít have a strong hold on that, my concentration divided between Bones and the chains
"You have?" Bones said. "What would that be?"
"They after the little one," Jon said, motioning with his head toward Kathy . The world froze for a second, enough for the shock to pass. I watched Bones tighten her grip on Kathy as my fists tightened. "Something about her power."
"Her power, what power?" I looked over at Bones and Kathy. Bones looked ashamed, while Kathy was hiding her face from me, something she had never done.
"We were going to tell you," Bones started, but I waved her off. My eyes stayed on Jon, burning a hole into him, demanding an answer.
"They going to get you, you can't stop them," Jon said. "They have at a small army at their disposal for smaller operations than this. What makes you think that you can stop them?" I shrugged my shoulders, before turning back to Bones.
"They want her, and I'll be damned if I let them take her," I told them. Kathy looked at me for a moment, a fleeting smile on her face before burying her head back into Bones' neck.
I looked up, toward the sky. I felt everyone looking at me, as I concentrated on the storm clouds still above us. They were heavy, filled with the water I knew how to control. I felt their weight against my control, begging for a release which I had been unknowingly holding back.
I thrust downward, letting the rain fall. The sound of the rain against the roof echoed through the house. At the time, I believed Madam had gotten the children to safety, so my only thoughts were to protect Kathy and Bones.
"How many men are outside now?" I directed the question to Bones, but wasn't surprised when Jon answered.
"You counted a dozen, yet there are probably three times that many out there, just waiting for the order to attack," Jon said. I held back a smile, realizing that getting the enemy to 'monologue' wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
"Well, that shouldn't be too difficult to take care of," I said, scratching my chin. My ego took a downfall a few moments into plotting my next move.
The sounds of gunfire echoed through the halls, and I shuddered at the screams. Bones had her hands over Kathy's as they were held against the younger girl's ears. My eyes found hers, and they begged me to make it stop.
"You're too late!" Jon said, his voice trying to pierce the gunfire outside. I crossed the hall toward him, drawing the water from the chains holding him and shaping it around my fists. Quicker then he could respond, I swung at him, the force of the water shattering his jaw.
He slumped to the ground, quiet as I tried to calm my rage. There was an ache in my hand, the water not cushioning the blow as much as I hoped. I shook it a few times, trying to get some feeling back into it. I looked over at Bones and Kathy, who both looked scared. Walking over to them, I tried to give a comforting smile.
"Donovan, what's going to happen now?"
"I don't know, Temperance," I said, my tone just as serious. Kathy held out her hands, reaching for the one I struck Jon with. "I can take care of a few at time, maybe more if theyíre not expecting me, but I can't do that while Iím worrying about you two." I let Kathy take my hand in hers, her hands rubbing over mine. "But I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
"You can't promise that," Bones said. She looked worried, her eyes still glazed over, watching the action outside.
"I'm the guy who brings the rain," I said cheekily. I reached upward with my free hand, working my pull upon the water in the skies. I felt the clouds open up, the torrential rain pouring down upon the land, muffling the sounds of gunfire.
"How's that going to help?" Bones asked. She hadnít turned to look at me, rather focusing on the events outside. She didnít need to see them, yet she was forcing herself to watch what was happening. I grabbed her chin gently, turning her to look at me. Staring down into her eyes, I waited until she stopped using her perception to speak. "You have a strong structure."
"Thank you," I said, keeping my hand upon her chin. I needed her to concentrate upon me, not on what was happening out there. "I can stop them, but I have to become a man that I hate." I paused there, the ache in my right hand surprisingly gone. "We shoulder burdens that we were meant to carry." My hand felt better and I looked over at Kathy who suddenly looked tired but pleased with herself. Whatever was wrong with it, she must have fixed it. I ran the hand through the young girl's hair while my other stayed on Bones' face. "I can carry this burden because I know that you two will be safe."
"Why do we matter to you?" Bones asked. I opened my mouth to respond but stopped as I felt the water moving quickly aside. The pipes burst as I made the water gravitate around us.
"GET DOWN!" The dome sealed as I felt a mortar shell collide with it. My arms were wrapped around both Bones and Kathy, holding them as close to me as possible. The momentum of the shell and explosion dissipated through the watery dome, yet I still felt the pressure build up against my mind.
The dust from the explosion filled the watery dome, blocking my vision. I dared not to stand so I held my arms around Bones as Kathy trembled between us. Bones had her free arm wrapped around my waist, but she was pulled back far enough to stare into my eyes.
The gaze pierced into my soul, burying deeper than I dared tread on my own. Her eyes didnít beg me to save them, her gaze didnít say she trusted me with their lives. But in her eyes, I found something worth fighting for, worth dying for.
I strengthened the shield of water as another shell impacted against it. The pounding against my skull fell to a murmur as my mind began to stabilize at that level of exertion. Kathy's cries echoed between Bones and me. My arms were wrapped around Bones and one of hers around me while the other around Kathy.
The water continued to pour out of the broken pipes and out into the wreckage of the room as the storm poured even more down upon us.
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.
I reached outward, looking through the water as the soldiers walked through the streets. The tears upon the faces of innocents met the skies as they combined with the falling rain. I could see them crying, in pain and in fear. I could see it. I still can, sometimes.
I could see the men covered in rain as they stood, some shouldering weapons, other balling their fists, the water moving around them, evaporating. Flame elementals. Several of them with enough control to give me problems. These were probably the same men that tried to attack me at the hotel.
"You think you can get yourselves to the Madam?" I asked. Bones just gave me a long, hard look before staring out into the water† around us. "Bad question." I muttered, feeling Kathy tightening her grip on my neck. She had managed to place herself between the two of us. Now even Bones was clinging to me with the water rising up above our heads. I reached through the house, finding where the Madam had taken the children. They were holed up, and I hoped they were safe. I forced the water away from the entrance to their hideout, stopping my own foolishness from killing them.
The water already filled the lower level of the house, and the basement. The storm outside began to rage, and I felt the shift of it all. I felt angry, at the world, at the company doing this, at my father for leaving me to all of this, unprepared and unwilling. I felt a torrent of pressure building up inside of me as the fury of my storm grew.
"We need to get out of here," Temperance said. There was steel in her voice, a certainty that made me stop using her funny nickname right then and there. A steel that stopped the raging storm just enough for me to get to the eye of it, and I felt a little calmer.
I nodded, looking past the rain and out into the street. I had to concentrate beyond what was happening to those I couldnít help. Temperance and Kathy were my priority. Kathy because they were after her and Temperance because she wouldnít let me do this alone.
"When we move it's going to be fast." I asked Temperance to focus on the area in front of us, as I felt a ripple of water reach the area where the Madam had taken the children. I could see them shuttering as waves of water cascaded around them... and their attackers...
"I can protect us only from so much, and with the amount of heat theyíre generating out there, my sight will be limited."
"I can see for you." her eyes were glazed over, her sight still activated. "There are six men approaching, three women." I couldnít help the smile that spread across my face. I squeezed her hand, before turning around and staring into the sea of death that surrounded us.
"Ready or not," I pushed the water outward, pulling Temperance and Kathy with me, "Here we go."
"The reports are in...."
"I believe you are worried; now, why is that?"
"Was it not a success?"
"We captured over thirty subjects, Sir."
"Was it not a success?"
"Over half of them show a potential to generate a level 3 or higher threat, Sir."
"Was it not a success?"
"We were also able to shut down the transportation operation they had going for the Resistance."
"Was it or was it not a success?"
"It is a simple question. One that I expect even you could answer. Now, was this mission a success or was it not?"
".....The extraction team failed to retrieve the primary target..."
was that so hard to answer? I suspect you'd agree
for with me if your
vocal chords still worked and your throat wasnít on the floor. But that's
enough of that."
success rate 56.23%. Escape of Number
"Three different levels? Interesting..."
continue on as planned, however, I want an extraction team to follow Number
My chest ached from lack of air as Kathy clung to my neck and Temperance to my hand. I had pushed our way through the initial force, the storm providing us with sufficient cover.
We stood about waist deep, for me at least, in the muck that ran below the city. It wasnít dignified, it wasnít pretty, and our actions could hardly be considered courageous, but we survived. I could only pray that the others were safe, and they may forgive me one day. But in my mind, the attackers would follow us, and give the others a chance to escape. For us, I was that chance.
"You...think...we're...far enough?" Temperance asked, looking up at me. She didn't grimace as the sludge moved around us, and I tried to smile. She was leaning against the wall, her face red with exhaustion.
"It stinks," Kathy said. She hid her nose in my neck. I gave Temperance a weak smile before tugging on her hand.
"It won't once we're out of here." We began to trudge through the mess of the sewers, toward an exit I had already mapped out. As soon as we entered the sewer, I let my sense follow the grimy water until it reached a point far away enough that I could get us to edge of the city.
you know anyone outside the city?" The lights were dim, but I could hear a
shuffling behind us, and the water moved as if something, a beast upon all
fours was moving. Temperance didnít respond, so I assumed she shook her head.
"That letter you saw me with, the other day... that was from Jonas, my
mother's lawyer. My mother is out of the country, in
"You really haven't thought this through, have you?" I felt the slight glare coming from her, but I shrugged my shoulders.
"Not like I had much time." Kathy tightened her grip on my neck as the water level rose.
"Can't you push this stuff out of here or something?"
"And move it where?" I pushed it away a little though, not enough to cause a big problem because of the displacement, but enough to at least let us move a little more. Temperance squeezed my hand giving me a small smile.
We had been walking for nearly four miles, or rather, I carried us most of that distance as both Kathy and Temperance clung to me as we surfed the muck wave. We walked in a silence only broken by our breathing and Kathy's sniffles into my neck. "We're almost outside the city." I looked back at Temperance, giving her a reassuring smile. "I'll grab us some food or something and we can find a place to hunker down for a bit."
"Is it safe enough?" The water level was dropping around us as we walked, and I could feel it lapping up against the sewer gates at the end of this line. I pulled Temperance a bit closer before answering the question. I had to carry both Kathy and Temperance the last mile. They were too tired to go any further, I was tired too.
we do it right. Most likely I'm still a wanted criminal, so whatever I try, I'm
probably going to be seen." Temperance looked
out at me for a
moment before her look turned into a soft glare.
"I knew the first moment I saw you that you'd be trouble," she said. Her eyes betrayed her words as I saw a hint of mischief, not a lot, but enough to stop the sting. "You'd think to warn a girl before you make her into a felon."
"What can I say," I shrugged my shoulders, and gave her a smile before looking down the path we were going, "I know how to show a girl a good time." Temperance tried to glare at me, but I caught the smile underneath the stern look.
"I told you not to do that," she said, in reference to my 'charm smile.' I lifted the water up, carrying us over to a platform.
I took us about as far as we could go without running out of space to flee. There wasn't any threat around us, but at the time, I couldnít take that chance. I knew that there was one person, moving along with us, but she wasnít a threat to us.
"Are we there?" Kathy said. She had fallen asleep on the second mile of our escape, and I had been thankful that she remained asleep, if only so I had one thing less to worry about.
"Rest stop." Temperance let go of my neck, a slight flush to her face as she put her feet on the ground. She took Kathy from my arms and the young girl wrapped her arms around Temperance's neck in turn
"You'll come back?" There was a pain in her voice.
"Of course." I gave them both a small smile before kissing Kathy lightly on the forehead. "But Temperance is going to take good care of you." I looked over my shoulder into the dark, staring at the person there. I knew that she wouldnít harm them, not if she wanted answers.
"No, you're going to take care of her," Temperance said. She stood back up and glared at me, with the same intensity I first saw in her returning now. "I'm going up there."
"No, no way, I won't let you," I stepped in front of the ladder, trying to block her.
"You won't let me!?" She raised her voice at this, and I quickly realized that it was the wrong thing to say to her. "You won't let me?" I would have taken a step back, but the ladder stopped me from going any further.
"You just said I was going."
"That was before I realized that you're an idiot," Temperance said. "You're six and half feet tall, and black as the night. You think you won't be noticed in the middle of the day." She pointed to the light streaming down from the street above us. "And your picture is going to be plastered all over the city. What makes you think that you can waltz around unnoticed?"
"I don't know, okay? I don't know," I nearly yelled back. I felt the water rushing around us, and then I felt Kathy gripping my leg tightly, her eyes closed. I knelt down and lifted her into my arms. She was mumbling but I could make out the plea for me to not be angry any more. "I know that you two are important to me, enough that I'd risk my life for you two. And logically that doesn't make any sense because I've known you a little more than a month. But I want to, no, need to protect you two." I stared at her, to which she only responded in kind . It felt like eternity, but in reality only several tense moments passed before she nodded.
"Good, then you're starting to figure out how we feel," Temperance said, poking my chest. Kathy nodded into my neck, holding herself tighter to me. "Now, you got us out of there, let me do something for you." There was a pleading look to in her eyes. She needed to do something, to feel useful. It was the same look I saw in my eyes in the mirror when I first entered that orphanage. I nodded, stepping away from the ladder as Temperance climbed up it. She gave me a smile as I drew the dirty water from her, as well as the chunks of dirt that had been clinging to her. Her clothes were clean and the smell was removed for the most part as well. I had forgotten that it was there. I gave her what money I had in my wallet before watching her climb the rest of the way up.
I sat back down, letting Kathy fall asleep against my chest. Interesting young girl. [Give some indication that itís Joeís telepathy here.] I looked into the darkness, where I knew Joy to be waiting.
"She is," I looked back at the ladder where Temperance had left. "This little tyke is too." I wrapped one arm around Kathy, causing her to snuggle closer.
Do you know about my.... Joy's question trailed off. I had a hunch, it wasn't a strong one, and I couldnít back it up with much. Yet it was something. I had managed to sneak a look at the records of the children one day, specifically to see when they were brought in. I just looked at the names and the dates of births, or estimated dates of births, of the girls at the orphanage. There was only one Buffy, but that didnít mean anything. It didnít have to be that orphanage that Joyís child was dropped off at, still the thought clung to me.
"I have a hunch," I said, still not too sure of myself. "I can't be sure though, without DNA proof."
Please, tell me. Joy pleaded with me, asking for something that I couldnít guarantee. A truth that could make or break her. Is she safe?
"I believe so." My thoughts went to Temperance, and that she was taking too long. As I began to worry about her, I felt a light touch against the sea in my mind before it pulled back.
Her? She's my...?
"I don't know, I think so." I reached out, following a pipe upwards to street level. I tried to reach out and follow her, but there were too many people and I hadn't completely memorized her build. "I don't know for sure though."
No, I'll know. I heard shuffling and for a moment I thought she had left us, but instead, Joy had settled down.
It was several long minutes before I heard the scraping of the manhole cover. Looking up, the sunlight blinded me for a moment before I saw Temperance climbing down the ladder. I gave her a smile as her feet touched the platform. "That didnít take long."
"You stopped right outside a convenience store." She sat down by the wall leaning up against me. "It's almost nightfall."
"No wonder she's so tired." I muttered as Temperance looked over at us. "So," I turned my gaze from Kathy and onto the bag that Temperance got, "What did you get us?" We spent nearly half an hour, going over what she got.
While several water bottles and while MRE supplements weren't the greatest, they weren't bad either. If we got close enough to the sea, I might be able to grab us some fish.
"You two worry about water," I said, grabbing a single bottle. That left the rest of the dozen for them. Temperance raised an eyebrow, questioning my sanity. "I'll be able to filter anything I can drink better then you two would."
"You sure?" She had packed the rest of the food and water into a waterproof bag, hopefully to keep it dry enough as we worked our way out of here. "We might be able to get some more."
"We might or we might not." I shrugged my shoulders, resting against the wall. "I'm still working on how to get out of here."
"You don't need to do all of the work." I held back a laugh as she crossed her arms in a huff. "I'm more than capable. I can hold my own."
"We'll see," I gave her small smirk as it got her riled up again.
"See what? I can handle myself Mr. Cole, I don't need you or anyone else looking after me."
"Ah, but isn't it nice when someone is?" I countered, causing her to lose all her steam. "I'll be honest, as much as I don't like the fact that I dragged you into this, I feel a little better knowing that I'm not alone." She blushed at this before nodding. Even in the dull light, and the dirt that had started to coat her again she was still pretty to me.
We sat there for a while, Kathy on my lap and Temperance leaning up against my side. I stared into the darkness, trying to find some way out of there.
"Do you know where we're going?" She broke the silence first, looking up at me.
"I'm heading towards the sea, but to be honest, I'm trying to find a way to get in contact with my mother." He scoffed a bit. " I really don't know what the hell I'm doing."
"Relax," she pushed her head into my shoulder. "You said it yourself. You're not alone. I'll help you." Her left arm moved to wrap around both Kathy and me while her right wrapped around my back. "Now, sleep, weíve to head out in the morning."
"Yes, ma'am." She gave me a slap on the stomach before settling back down.
It was several minutes, maybe even an hour, hell I didn't know, before she spoke again. "Donovan?" I looked down at her, and there was just enough moonlight for me to see her eyes sparking a little with tears. "We're going to get out of this okay, right?"
"Yeah," I pulled her closer to me, as I stared into the darkness. "We'll be just fine."
"Excellent, proceed with caution."
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/