A pale blue sky hung over the tropical landscape of Insula Lacertus. Amara closed her eyes, feeling the warm ocean breeze brush against her face from high atop the balcony of her sixtieth floor apartment. The architect had argued strongly against an outdoor balcony from that high off the ground, but Amara had nothing to fear. Even if she were to fall, she would suffer no broken bones or damage of any kind to her unbreakable body. At most the fall would knock the air out of her and she would have to wait a moment to regain her breath before getting up and walking away clean.
She never let anyone else into her apartment—it was her own personal space and hers alone. She needed a place where she could get away from the pandemonium that came with being the leader of the world’s most powerful crime fighting organization, and she had made her penthouse at the very top of the IAS HQ building that place. If anyone wanted to meet with her in private, they would have to call to schedule an appointment to meet in her office. No one—not even the other members of the High Council—was permitted up here.
There was only one person that she had ever made an exception for. It happened just after the building was erected, and no one ever knew of his visit.
Amara sighed as she thought of Jason and what he must be doing at this very moment. She had been shocked to find that he’d agreed to join Harry on his visit to the island with the new batch of American recruits. Prior to their visit she had not set eyes on Jason since that night he came to visit her in secret. She had told him to stay away—that she needed to concentrate on her duties as Chairperson to the High Council—but he had refused, claiming that he absolutely had to see her—to spend just one more night with her. It was a claim that Jason made far too often in their relationship, but it was one that she never was quite able to refuse. Despite his hard headedness, she loved him very much.
She wondered the next time he would give into his desires and sneak back onto the island to spend another night with her. On the outside she told herself that it made no difference to her—that their relationship was nothing more than an occasional distraction to relieve her of the stress of daily life—but when she was willing to be more candid with herself, she hoped he would be back very soon. It may have only been a distraction, but it was a very welcome one.
He had seemed very taken with that small, powerless girl who was a part of Harry’s group—probably because she, like him, had no superhuman abilities. She wondered what kind of influence Jason might be trying to have on her so that she might bring his points of view back to the Assembly. Though possibly the team’s greatest member, things had been running a lot smoother since Jason’s departure. The last thing she needed was another powerless pain in the neck to throw a wrench in the gears.
She laughed. Harry had always explained to her that those wrenches were what separated tyranny from democracy—that it was important to hear multiple points of view and try to settle on a compromise. “A good compromise is only reached when no one is happy,” he had always said. Still, she preferred when progress came quickly.
A mysterious twin-engine prop plane flew overhead. Flying into the wind, she had not been able to hear it until it was very near. She looked up to watch it fly around the front of the tower. There had been no scheduled visitors to land on the island today. She ran back into her apartment to call the airstrip. She wanted to know who was inside that plane.
As she took her first step inside the sliding door, she suddenly forgot why she had come back inside. Slightly confused, she turned around and stepped back out onto her balcony. She looked right back at the plane as it turned toward the airstrip, but this time she felt absolutely no concern or curiosity.
Bryan stared out the window as he prepared to set down on Insula Lacertus for the second time in just five days. The Insider had explained the plan very clearly to him—they were to infiltrate the city, take control of some of its more powerful inhabitants, and use them to completely destroy it.
“Amara is in her apartment on the top floor of the tower. She spotted us, but I was able to wipe away any suspicion. She’ll never see us coming,” The Insider spoke to Bryan.
Bryan shook his head. He was prepared to do whatever his master deemed necessary to save the world from these false superheroes.
The Insider closed his eyes and began breathing deeply as he searched the other minds on the island. Out the window Bryan could see that they were mere seconds away from touchdown.
As the wheels of the plane hit the runway, The Insider opened his purple eyes. “I’ve found our first target.”
He turned his purple gaze toward Bryan and continued, “I will send his mind to you telepathically along with the others so that you will be prepared to execute our plan.”
Without any warning, Bryan was suddenly looking through the eyes of someone else. The person—a young man—was currently riding his bike through the streets of one of the city’s many neighborhoods. Suddenly Bryan could feel that he was inside the man’s mind, as well as the mind of The Insider, who was also inside Bryan’s mind. It was a bizarre sensation.
The young man on the bike had the ability to create seismic events by vibrating his hands on the ground with ridiculous speed and intensity. The Insider also sent Bryan mental images of four others—one had the ability to create and project fire with his hands, one could exhale with the intensity of category five hurricane force winds, another was able to shoot lighting from her fingertips, and the last was able to generate and throw energy balls.
“Together they form a man-made natural disaster of epic proportions,” The Insider spoke wickedly to Bryan.
A brief moment of clarity came over Bryan as he envisioned the destruction these five would be able to bring to the superhuman society. The Insider meant to take the lives of hundreds of innocent super humans.
“Why are we doing this again?” Bryan asked, suddenly second guessing the whole mission. He didn’t want to hurt anybody—especially when the only reason for killing them was because they were like him. “This seems evil.”
“This is necessary,” The Insider said forcefully. “These people would lead the world to its certain doom and prevent us from saving it. Without eliminating them we will not be able to do what is necessary to save billions.”
As abruptly as Bryan’s doubts had formed, they disappeared. Walter was absolutely correct—he could feel it in the depths of his soul. It may have seemed harsh on the surface, but taking out the Society and everyone in it was necessary to saving the rest of the world. Sacrifices had to be made.
Bryan shook his head and blushed with embarrassment. “Of course, Master.”
A mischievous grin formed on the face of The Insider, similar to that of a child who had just gotten away with eating a cookie before dinner.
The plane came to a stop on the tarmac. Both The Insider and Bryan stood from their seats and made their way to the cabin door.
“While I cause a disruption, you will go to the tower and make your way to the roof,” The Insider instructed. “Remember what I taught you and no one will even realize you’re there. Once you are on the roof use your telekinetic powers to make sure no one escapes. Follow my lead.”
“Yes, Master,” Bryan affirmed.
When they reached the cabin door the pilot had already opened it for them. A set of steps led down to the asphalt on the tarmac.
“Thank you,” The Insider said to the pilot, whose mind he had firm control over.
“Yes, sir,” the pilot responded blindly.
Amara finished her morning tea and went to her room to get dressed for the day. There were very few items on her schedule, and with any luck she would be able to cut out early and spend the evening enjoying the splendor of the city she had helped to create. There was a new restaurant opening, and the head chef was a woman with the power to recognize the desires of any pallet simply by touching a dab of the individual’s saliva. Rumor had it the first thing the patrons were supposed to do when sitting at the table was lick a small piece of paper which would then be taken back to the chef, who upon touching it would immediately know the perfect dish to prepare that person. It was a rather odd ability that would provide little use in the field, but it was absolutely perfect for opening a world class restaurant in the center of a superhuman city.
That was when Amara remembered that they had yet to name their new city. The island had a name and the society as a whole had been given a title, but she had hoped to name the city itself, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. She would have to remember to add that to the agenda for the next council meeting.
As she pulled out her top dresser drawer, Amara felt the ground beneath her feet begin to shake. She closed the drawer and ran back to the balcony. The intensity of the rumble increased as she leaned over the railing to try and see what was happening below. People were beginning to scatter about, frightened by the sudden earthquake. They all looked uncertain of where to head for safety.
Members of the Assembly who had been tasked with security duty were doing their best to direct people into the tower. The basement functioned as a secure bomb shelter in case of emergencies such as this.
Just as Amara was about to head back inside, a sudden bolt of lightning shot across the sky. She jumped back, startled by the sudden release of electric energy. She grew angry with herself for being frightened by a bolt of light, and looked back over the railing. Another bolt—this time much nearer to the ground—came from the eastern edge of the building and hit one of the golf carts in the circle drive of the tower. The two individuals inside the cart collapsed onto the ground, the lightning seizing their nerves and scorching their skin.
Amara quickly ran back into her apartment, the decision of what to wear having been made for her. She ran to her closet and pulled the white field uniform from its hangar. As she slipped it on, she picked up her phone and pushed the green send button next to Eric’s number.
Eric picked up after half a ring. “I see it.”
“Get everyone together and have them meet me in the lobby,” Amara ordered.
“Do you really think we need everyone?” Eric’s voice said over the speaker.
“Everyone!” Amara repeated aggressively before hitting the red end-call button.
It took only a moment before Amara had on her uniform and was making her way to her personal elevator. She pressed the call button and waited. From outside the sliding door she could hear the panicked screams of the people below.
She looked up at the digital floor readout above the elevator. It read “60” but the doors weren’t opening. She slapped the side of her head. The seismic activity would have caused the elevators to automatically shut down.
She glanced over at the door to the stairwell. Another round of terrified screams cried out from the city below. The stairs would still be too slow—they needed her help now.
She took a deep breath before turning and sprinting toward the open slider. When she was able to feel the salty air on her skin, her adrenal glands kicked into overdrive. This was at least the fifth craziest thing she had ever done.
Amara needed only one stride on the balcony before leaping into the air and over the railing. As she saw the roof of the lower tower quickly rushing toward her, she wondered how much damage her twenty-story tumble might cause. The engineer had assured her that the building materials they had used could withstand the impact. At the time it seemed insane that they would even be having such a conversation, and yet here she was.
In just longer than the blink of an eye—which she found herself unable to do—Amara crashed onto the solid roof of the lower diamond. The engineer had been absolutely correct—not a dent—and she had been absolutely correct about the result of her fall.
As she hit the unforgiving surface every molecule of air was forced from her lungs, resulting in a high-pitched squeal. The impact had managed to rattle her a bit, but she was otherwise unharmed. She looked to her left and saw the edge of the roof and the blue sky behind. The commotion on the street was even more audible from this altitude.
She rolled herself over until she was able to lean over the edge of the building and glance into the window on the fortieth floor. There was a large group of people crowding their way into the stairwell in an utter state of panic. She rolled her eyes and let out an audible sigh as she used her arms to flip the rest of her body off of the top of the roof.
The second fall was twice as far as the first, but the result was the same.
Hans Fredrick was a twenty-four year old German who had been one of the society members voted into the Assembly just five days prior. He bounced up and down nervously as he watched a crowd of people flocking to the basement of the HQ building. He and the rest of the Assembly members were huddled together in the lobby, waiting for She-Beast to arrive and give them their orders.
“Alright mates,” The Animal called out to the group. “She-Beast will be arriving momentarily and then we’ll get to work. Guards up.”
Hans felt like he might to throw up. He hadn’t expected to see action so soon after joining the Assembly—especially not while they were still on the island.
The crowd just outside the door suddenly started screaming and shrieking even more intensely than before. All of the Assembly members turned toward the screams and prepared themselves for imminent attack. What happened instead was unbelievable.
All of a sudden a white blur came out of nowhere and crashed into the ground. Whatever it was hit the ground hard, causing the sidewalk around the impact zone to crumble beneath it.
Hans’ eyes widened in disbelief as the figure of a strong woman in a white suit stood up from the crater and began walking toward them.
“The hell?” Hans heard The Animal say under his breath.
In through the door walked She-Beast, no worse for wear after her forty-story freefall. The rest of the heroes stood silently, absolutely stunned by what they had just witnessed.
She-Beast dusted herself off as she neared the group standing near the center of the lobby. She cleared her throat and looked up at them with a confidence that only the She-Beast could convey.
“Alright people, enough standing around. We’ve got work to do.”
Bryan looked on as the lightning girl released electrical charges from her fingertips and the earthquake man pounded his hands on the ground like a tribal drum. The ground shook profusely and the air was hot as a result of their powers. Neither understood the havoc they were creating or why they were doing it as The Insider had them under his full control.
Bryan moved quickly through the chaotic scene. He could feel the minds of everyone around him—half of the population was afraid for their lives while the other half was prepared to fight. In the end they would all fall—there powers being no match for The Insider. Bryan knew these people were special, and it seemed a shame that they were all about to lose their lives because of it, but he knew that their deaths would mean the survival of the billions of non-powered individuals who dominated the Earth. In time those billions would recognize The Insider and Psychosis as the world’s only true heroes.
As he rounded the front of the headquarters building at the center of the city, Bryan saw a flock of Assembly members running out the front door. They all appeared to be in uniform, ready to jump into action and save the day.
The sight of the team froze Bryan in his tracks. He stood in awe, watching as the world’s greatest heroes prepared for battle mere feet from where he was standing. He had spent countless hours alone in his room, dreaming of this very situation—only in his dreams he had been on the other side of the conflict, fighting alongside the Assembly rather than against them. Bryan suddenly felt remorse for aligning himself with The Insider and helping to kill all of those he’d once had endless admiration and respect for.
Bryan suddenly felt a mental tug on the back of his mind as he contemplated changing sides. No, what Walter was doing may have seemed extreme, but it was necessary. He would continue to help the purple-eyed hero achieve his objective and destroy the island without regret.
As he watched Lady of the Sky spread her massive grey wings and take off into the air, Bryan was able to pull himself away from the heroes and continue into the tower. Everyone inside looked to be rushing to a door on the east end of the lobby with a sign above it that read “Stairs.”
In front of the statue fountain in the center of the lobby, the alien Grok Tûn was directing traffic in his bright pink suit. He appeared amazingly calm given the frantic state of everyone around him. The other members of the Assembly had always acknowledged his remarkable composure as one of the alien’s most admirable traits. They claimed that Grok’s cool and collected demeanor rivaled even that of The Eagle’s.
Using the technique his master taught him the day they’d met at the airport, Bryan moved swiftly through the crowd without anyone even noticing he was there. In less than a minute, the young telepath found himself standing in front of the elevators that led to the top of the lower diamond. He looked around to make sure no one was watching him. From what he could sense, no one seemed suspicious of the teenage boy standing alone in front of the currently out-of-service elevators.
Satisfied that he was unnoticed, Bryan closed his eyes and felt for the elevator car somewhere in the elevator shaft. Before meeting The Insider, Bryan had never thought to test the strength of his telekinetic powers. With his master’s help, he found that with enough focus there was almost no limit to what he was able to move using only his mind.
He found the car resting on the twenty-eighth floor. Bryan focused in on the car and concentrated on its position. He imagined the metal box moving itself down the concrete shaft to the first floor. A second later, he heard an electronic tone sound from above the elevator doors in front of him, indicating that the car was in motion. Once he got the car moving, Bryan was able to open his eyes and watch the digital readout above the door change until displayed the letter “L.”
When the car finally reached the lobby, Bryan flicked his right wrist and the doors flew open. He stepped inside the car and repeated the process of focusing in on the elevator car, this time moving it up until it reached the top floor.
With another flick of his wrist, the elevator doors parted and he found himself stepping out into the familiar confines of the fortieth floor. This is where his path to joining The Insider had begun. Inside the conference room to his left was where he’d made the mistake of controlling the mind of the Chairwoman of the High Council, leading to his eventual excommunication for the Superhuman Society of Earth. Now, because of his actions and the decision of the IAS High Council, he would assist in the destruction of the very organization he had hoped to become a part of.
To his right, Bryan saw a fire door—the sign on it reading “Roof Access.” He immediately strode through the door and climbed two flights of stairs up to a second door that led out onto the roof of the lower tower. As Bryan pushed on the second fire door, he found it locked. He did not panic at the unforeseen obstacle—trusting that he was more than capable of overcoming it. Bryan closed his eyes and focused in on the door lock, feeling for the locking mechanism that activated it.
Everything in the tower was controlled electronically, but in case of an emergency power outage everything needed a manual override. Bryan searched, following all of the mechanical parts of the lock to their end until he finally found a hidden lever that would unlock the door manually, but it was located in the back of a hidden safe in the conference room. This presented no problem for Bryan however, as he didn’t need to see or touch the lever as long as he could feel it with his mind. He mentally pulled the lever down inside the safe, successfully unlocking the door to the roof.
As soon as he heard the clunk of the lock disengaging, Bryan sprinted anxiously through the door and onto the roof. He could sense that his master was growing impatient waiting for him.
As he looked out over the edge of the building, he saw that the flamethrower and hurricane blower had joined the ranks of those under the control of The Insider. The energy ball hurler was nowhere to be scene, but Bryan could feel her on the southern edge of the city. The Insider had already reached out to her and summoned her to join them at the epicenter of the destruction. The scene was one of extreme chaos.
The ground beneath the crowds rumbled and cracked, making it almost impossible for anyone to maintain their balance as they attempted to either flee or fight. Lightning struck all around them, often striking buildings, vehicles, or even people. Now flames surged through the city streets, critically burning anyone or anything that got too close, and immense winds added to the difficulty of their movements, blowing people and objects all over the place. It looked like the worst natural disaster the world had ever seen—only there was nothing natural about it.
The oddest part of it all was that no one seemed to pay any attention to the ones causing the destruction. Everyone on the ground seemed confused, unable to understand why or how so much damage was being caused to their home. From his vantage point, Bryan could clearly see his master and the others moving casually through the streets, but everyone else ran right past as if they didn’t even see them.
But the damage The Insider and his puppets were able to cause was limited by the city’s design. Sabrina and Mandy had criticized it when Major Justice’s group had visited several days earlier, but the dome shape of the buildings proved incredibly resilient to the effects of the storm. The materials those buildings were built from also played a large part in their ability to withstand such a disaster. The Assembly’s engineers had been tasked to create and use a material that was more durable than anything ever seen before. Not wind, nor fire, nor electricity could cause it harm. The expense of such a material had been greatly documented in the news, but it was now proving itself to be well worth the cost. Not even the enormous tower Bryan currently stood atop could be shaken from its foundation.
That was why Bryan was such a key element to The Insider’s plan. With his incredible powers of telekinesis, he could use his mind to rip the buildings from their foundation, leaving the island’s inhabitants nowhere to hide.
Bryan closed his eyes and slipped into a meditative state. To accomplish his task he would need complete focus. Somewhere inside he could feel his master’s presence, encouraging him and somehow feeding him energy that made him feel stronger.
Bryan reached out with his hand, feeling one of the larger domes across the street from the tower—it was some kind of recreation center. He felt with his mind, concentrating on its position relative to the Earth. He flexed his mind and body muscles, forcefully lifting his arms inch by inch as he maintained a mental grip on the building.
His eyes were closed, but he could feel the building begin to lift off the ground—first one meter, then two. Before he knew it, the building was a story off the ground. He heard faint screams of shock and terror from the ground below.
Bryan began to rotate his arms in front of him, feeling the building following his actions as it turned over in midair. Once Bryan had ripped it from its foundation, it moved quite easily within his mental grip. He felt pieces of the building detaching and could hear them crashing to the ground below. Once he had completely inverted the large dome, he opened his eyes to see the massive building floating upside down nearly two stories off the ground.
Bryan exhaled as he released the tension on his mind and body, dropping his arms down to his sides. The building crashed to the ground, suddenly released from Bryan’s telekinetic grip. Debris and dust flew everywhere, injuring anyone who had gotten too close.
Deep inside the area of his mind currently being occupied by his master, Bryan could feel The Insider’s satisfaction. He urged his young apprentice to continue.
Indulging his master’s wishes, Bryan again closed his eyes and concentrated on the next building.
Amara winced as a surge of sudden flames burned all around her. Her skin cells’ inability to burn prevented her from feeling any pain, but she could certainly feel the heat.
The flames halted as abruptly as they had come. Amara quickly jumped on her guard, ready for any sudden attacks. She scanned the street for any sign of where the flames were coming from. She found none—just a young man standing in the middle of the street with orange and yellow streaks in his hair.
Whatever was happening in the city right now was the most bizarre thing Amara had ever encountered. The earthquakes, fire, lightning, wind and flames all seemed to be coming from nowhere. Something about that combination of elements felt familiar to her, but she couldn’t figure out why.
“Well that bloody hurts,” Eric said as he came out from behind a nearby wall. The skin on his arms had been charred by the flames but was quickly healing itself.
“This doesn’t make any sense,” Amara said aloud, her feet planted firmly in the middle of the street.
Eric rubbed his arms gently once they finished healing. “Not like any storm I’ve ever heard of,” he observed.
Amara shook her head slowly, her gaze still fixated in the direction the flames had come from. “This has to be an attack of some sort.”
“Judging by that, I’d say I’d have to agree with you,” Eric said, pointing at the sky to his left.
Amara turned to look at where Eric was pointing. Her eyes widened as she saw the Central Rec Center hanging upside down in midair. Tiān was circling above it, powerless to resolve the impossible situation.
Without warning, whatever force that was holding the rec center off the ground vanished, sending the building crashing down to Earth.
“NOO!” Amara shouted in disbelief as she watched a cloud of dust come shooting out from between the surrounding buildings.
Without a second thought Amara took off toward the scene of devastation, cutting through the cloud of dust and dodging fallen debris. She was on the scene within seconds. She immediately began digging through the rubble in search of survivors, unable to comprehend what was happening to her beautiful city.
She dug furiously, hurling hunks of debris of all shapes and sizes away from the crash site. As she lifted and chucked a huge boulder away from the area, she found a man pinned underneath, his leg badly wounded. Without any sort of rational thought, she lifted the man out of the way and threw him to the side as though he were just another piece of debris. He cried out in agony as he flew through the air.
Hearing the man’s cries, Amara froze, confused by what she had just done. Realizing that she had just tossed aside one of the survivors, she dropped to her knees. What was happening? Why would she do that?
At almost the exact same time Amara was able to determine the answer to her questions, she heard a familiar voice speak her name. “Amara.”
Amara’s eyes widened as she slowly got to her feet. She knew that whatever she did, she would have to do it quick.
She planted her right foot into the ground before pushing off with full-force. As soon as she turned around however, her body seized. She was frozen in place, still a full stride away from her enemy.
Walter smiled wickedly as he lifted a finger to point at his head. “I can read minds, remember?”
Every ounce of Amara’s body wanted to tear him apart, but she could not move. Walter had taken control of her nervous system. She was his now.
Each time Bryan flipped a building it became easier. Soon he was causing mass destruction with almost no effort at all. He would simply wave his hand in front of him and a dome would go toppling over. He had never felt so powerful. It both frightened and excited him at the same time.
Lady of the Sky had been fluttering above the entire city, unsure of how to contain the madness below. To her the situation must have seemed hopeless—probably because it was. Even if she had been able to recognize what was happening, she was powerless to stop it. The Insider and Bryan were too powerful.
After Bryan had dropped the first building, he watched as his master managed to capture the mind of She-Beast. Since then Bryan had felt a sense of invincibility emanating from the mind of his master. Apparently She-Beast had been the only one he’d feared might be able to stop him. Now that he was in total control of her body and mind, victory was inevitable.
After nearly a half hour of endless destruction—most of which was now being caused by She-Beast—Lady of the Sky flew over to the roof of the tower, landing right beside Bryan. She didn’t seem to have any clue that one of the orchestrators of this madness was standing right next to her.
Bryan searched her mind as she surveyed the area below. Though composed on the outside, the winged chromey was experiencing a flurry of emotions within. Bryan sensed exhaustion blended with terror and confusion. She had no idea what was happening and it scared the crap out of her. At the moment, she seemed to be searching for She-Beast. Bryan could see the African hero in her white suit clear as day from atop the tower, but Lady of the Sky was unable to recognize her friend in the center of all the havoc below, even when she was looking right at her.
After a few moments of rest, Lady of the Sky took off and flew to the other end of the tower. That was when Bryan heard the echo of his master’s voice in his mind.
“Very good, Bryan. Now I have a new task for you.”
Bryan felt his master turning his attention to a tall Indian woman approaching the tower. She was wearing a grey IAS uniform with the symbol of a red orb on the front.
“Take the energy ball thrower,” The Insider told Bryan telepathically. “Go to the fusion reactor and cause an overload in the core.”
Bryan knew that causing the unstable core to overload would result in a massive explosion five times more destructive than that of a nuclear bomb. He understood why the island needed to be destroyed, but he wondered how he and his master were going to escape the island in time to avoid the explosion.
“It will take a few minutes after the overload begins for detonation to occur,” his master explained, reading Bryan’s mind. “I will head to the airfield and fly over the reactor to pick you up once you’ve successfully triggered the overload.”
Bryan telepathically signaled to his master that he understood. He then closed his eyes and concentrated on his own body. In his brief training with The Insider, Bryan discovered that other objects were not the only things he was able to levitate.
He lifted himself off of the surface of the roof before slowly moving his body forward and easing it down forty-one stories, landing gently on the ground below. Upon landing, he opened his eyes to find the energy ball hurler standing directly in front of him—almost too close for comfort. He reacted by throwing his upper body backward in an attempt to remove the woman from his personal bubble.
Bryan reached into the woman’s mind, feeling the unique sensation of his master transferring control to him.
“Let’s go,” Bryan unnecessarily said aloud to the woman. Completely absent of free-will, the woman did whatever Bryan commanded her to.
Within seconds, Bryan saw a helicopter landing in the street beside them. No one else in the area seemed to notice it. Once on the ground, Bryan noticed the pilot turn his head and look directly at him. With a twist of his wrist the doors of the aircraft opened and both Bryan and the woman climbed inside.
The helicopter ride to the power core lasted only five minutes. As soon as Bryan and the energy ball hurler exited the chopper, the pilot took off and for reasons unknown to Bryan, headed back to the city.
Bryan turned to look at the giant blue orb that powered the entire island. The reactor and the entire structure surrounding it had been designed by Roger Bankman—quite possibly the greatest scientist of the current generation.
The transparent material surrounding the core was supposedly able to contain any blast resulting from a malfunction to the reactor core. The material’s ability to do this did not stem simply from strength. Bankman had designed it with chemical properties that supposedly counteracted those in the explosion, causing it to essentially extinguish itself as it made contact with the glass-like compound.
The two arches that ran over top of the transparent dome like a pair of stone straps also played an important role in containing an explosion, as they prevented the force of the blast from blowing the transparent “cap” clear into the sky. Also specially engineered by Bankman and his people, the effectiveness of the arches was grounded in brute strength. Bankman touted the stone compound as “indestructible.” The arches were also rooted deep into the ground, preventing the force of any potential explosion from pulling them out of the ground and blowing them into the sky.
This structure would simply have to go. Bryan used his mind to feel along the surface of one of the arches. Bankman wasn’t kidding about it being deeply rooted. Bryan could the structure continuing so far into the ground that it reached beyond the depths of the surrounding ocean.
Bryan prepared himself to uproot the immense structure and remove it from over top of the fusion core. Unlike a potential explosion, Bryan would be able to remove the arches using leverage rather than force. He would not try and break the unbreakable material, and he would not try to pull the arches out of the ground from above—he would push up on them from the bottom. The weight of the structure was immense, but Bryan found that weight was barely a factor when it came to telekinesis. All it took was a little focus and understanding.
Bryan focused in on the four bases of the arches, using his mental powers to push up on them from underneath. Deeply concentrated, he felt the arches begin sliding through the earth. He continued to telekinetically push the massive structures upward, able to sense when the bases were nearing the surface. Bryan experienced an almost euphoric sensation as the arches finally freed themselves from the confines of the Earth, both structures surrounded entirely by air and nothing else. He physically pushed outward with his arms, opening his eyes to see the arches responding to his gesture and crashing to the ground several meters beyond the pulsating blue core.
Once the arches were clear, the transparent cap was a piece of cake. Now the core was fully exposed, ready to be used as a lethal force of devastation.
Bryan was incredibly impressed by his accomplishment. He wished someone else had been there to witness the removal of the enormous structure. That was when he remembered the Indian woman standing there with him. He looked over just in time to see a bright red energy ball forming in her left palm.
He had dedicated so much concentration to removing the protective structure that he had inadvertently released control of the woman’s mind. She reared back, ready to throw her red ball of mysterious red energy at Bryan. Quickly, Bryan jumped back into her brain, physically raising his hand and signaling her to stop as he regained control.
Bryan sighed and dropped his hands to his knees after the woman had responded to his telepathic command to stand down. She dropped her hand back down to her side, once again under Bryan’s control.
Bryan looked up and smirked. He threw his arms out to the side in a display of showmanship as he forced the woman to say, “That was very impressive Bryan.”
Bryan took a bow and responded, “Why thank you, my dear.”
He then twisted his wrist, turning the woman around and facing her toward the now fully exposed fusion power core. He then dropped his hand provoking the woman to launch her red energy ball at the blue orb. The core grew brighter for a moment and expanded slightly in reaction to the energy ball.
Bryan commanded the woman to continue throwing her red balls at the blue core while he began telekinetically removing black tubes and other devices that appeared to be hooked up to the core. He had no clue what any of them did but they all looked very important.
There were also a number of control panels surrounding the reactor. He mentally reached inside them and started ripping out wires and computer chips. Soon the combination of Bryan’s telekinetic mayhem and the woman’s energy balls caused an incredibly loud alarm to sound over the entire island. It was a harsh, ear-piercing sound that caused Bryan to cover his ears. Still under Bryan’s influence, the woman stopped tossing her red energy balls and did the same.
Somehow Bryan managed to hear the sound of approaching jet engines over the eardrum shattering alarm.
“Come, my sidekick. Our work is complete,” The Insider telepathically summoned Bryan.
Bryan looked up at the approaching jet. He didn’t especially like the idea of being a “sidekick,” but he accepted the title given that his powers paled in comparison to those of his master.
Bryan looked straight up to the sky and began lifting himself off the ground. He released control of the woman who had involuntarily helped him arrange for the obliteration of Insula Lacertus. Her initial reaction was to crumble to the ground at the sound of the alarm, but soon began to panic hysterically at the realization of what she had done. Though she was not in control of her actions, she remembered every second of it.
Bryan continued to elevate himself, moving into the path of the jet. He began to tremble with fear, uncertain as to how this was going to work—the plane was moving incredibly fast while he was simply floating in place.
As he floated into the flight path of the jet, Bryan felt a message from his master enter his mind. He noticed a black nylon rope hanging out from the side of the plane, and it appeared the cabin door was opened.
Bryan began to move himself in the same direction the plane was moving. He was so focused that he hadn’t even had time to realize that he was flying—though not nearly as fast as the jet. When the plane got close enough, Bryan used his telekinetic power to make sure the rope would end up in his hands as the jet flew past. Somehow Bryan managed to get his hands on the rope and hang on as the much faster moving jet flew by overhead. It took all of his strength to hold onto the rope while The Insider pulled him up to the fuselage door and pulled him inside. Bryan rolled over on his back and panted heavily, recovering from the outrageous extraction.
“Nicely done,” The Insider spoke to him. “There is just one more thing I need you to do before we leave.”
While still on his back, Bryan felt the plane turn back toward the city. In his mind he saw an image of the tower. He understood what his master needed him to do.
Amara regained her senses. Flustered, she looked around at the ruin that had once been her crowning achievement. Everything she had worked so hard for had been destroyed in less than an hour, and she had played a critical part in it.
She cried out in infinite anger. All around her, scattered throughout the rubble were the bodies of those who had been critically injured or killed during her rampage. Tears began to well up in her eyes as she remembered every second of being under his control. She had been nothing more than a puppet—too weak to free herself from his influence. She hated herself—hated him for taking out his anger and revenge on hundreds of innocents who had nothing to do with any of it.
That was when she noticed the screeching sound blasting all around her. At first it only fed her irritation as she wanted to find a way to crush whatever devilish device could create such a god-awful noise, but then she began to recognize the sound as the fusion reactor alarm.
She immediately reached for the comm-link in her ear. “This is She-Beast, is anyone currently near the fusion reactor?”
“Amara!” Tiān responded with a bit of surprise in her voice. “Where have you been?”
Amara paused, confused as to how the flying woman could possibly not have noticed her path of destruction.
She shook it off. “Tiān, can you see the fusion reactor?”
“One moment,” Tiān responded over comm. A few seconds later she came back with a very grim response. “Yes…and the protective shell has been removed.”
Amara dropped her head. Whatever Walter had been doing in the last twenty-plus years, his power had grown considerably.
“Get everyone into the tower basement now,” she ordered everyone on the comm. “I’m going to try and get to the core before…”
Before she could finish her sentence, Amara watched as the tower at the center of the city began tipping to one side. It slowly leaned further and further forward until collapse appeared inevitable.
“Get everyone outside away from the tower!” She screamed into the comm. She started in a dead sprint toward the center of the city, but she was too far away to stop it. All she could do was watched as the building’s foundation uprooted itself from the ground and toppled forward.
Amara could hear screams of epic proportions as the building landed on top of everything and everyone who had been unable to move away from its path. She collapsed to the ground, tears streaming down the front of her face—she had failed so many people. Their blood was now on her hands. She should have listened to Jason. Because of her and her stupid insistence to bring together all of the world’s super humans in one place they were about to become an endangered species.
As she pulled herself back up to her knees, she saw a bright blue and white flash come from the direction of the reactor core. This was it.
She sat on her knees watching—awaiting the inevitable. Perhaps the worst punishment of all was that she would most-likely not perish with the rest of her society. Instead she would have to watch them all die because of her ignorance, and then continue on living with that guilt for the rest of her life.
As she watched the blast radius moving closer toward her location, a woman tripped on a piece of rubble and fell to the ground next to her. She was a member of the Assembly named Sammy. Amara remembered seeing her multiple times while under Walter’s mind control. Sammy’s powers were technology based and did not offer her any physical advantages, but she had been out in the thick of it nonetheless, doing her best to save every life she could. If anyone on the island should be considered a true hero, it was her.
Amara looked at the woman, and then back at the fast approaching blast. They had only a few seconds before everything around them became incinerated.
As fast as she could move, Amara grabbed a broken piece of what had once been the roof of someone’s home. She used her super-strength to shape the specially engineered metal into a shell, then, when the edge of the blast had almost reached them, she jumped on top of Sammy and used the shell to shield them from the ferocity of the explosion.
Amara was larger than Sammy, and attempted to cover as much of her body with her own as she could. She used all of her strength to keep the protective shell planted firmly to the ground—so much so that her fingers actually punched holes through the sides.
After a few intense moments, the force of the blast went away and world around them went silent. The only sound Amare could hear was that of the woman beneath her whimpering in justifiable fear.
When she was certain it was all over, Amara threw the shell off of them and picked herself off the ground. She dusted herself off before offering a hand to Sammy. Sammy accepted the hand, not entirely prepared for Amara’s strength as she hoisted her up off the ground.
They both surveyed the island in stunned silence. Everything was completely destroyed. There was absolutely no sign of life anywhere.
“What do we do now?” Sammy asked.
“Wait,” Amara replied solemnly. “Jason will come.”