Chapter 6 - "The Unfortunate Circumstances that Bring Us Together"
“ The Unfortunate Circumstances that bring Us Together”
Nathan and Nikki
In the skies above New York
“Alright Nikki, start talking.”
Nikki continued to look down at the “ants” down on the streets below. “You…can…fly!”
Nathan could hear the shock and fear in her voice and shook his head. “Focus, Nikki,” her head turned to meet his eyes at the response to his voice. “Good, now tell me, who are you working for, who’s this ‘Fellowship’?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“And why is that,” asked Nathan. “Did they threaten you? Mika? When are you going to learn that people like that are not there to help you?” Nathan froze a second at the words he was saying, look at me, preaching to the choir about being used.
Nikki turned her head away at the mention of Mika, the thought of her son still thinking she was dead sadden her greatly, but it was for the best. He was better off without her problems. “It’s not like that, we just have to take certain… precautions, to protect ourselves.”
Nathan looked at her with disbelieve. “Riiight. Have they even told you why they wanted the Company man back there? Have they told you anything about them?”
“They helped me get rid of Jessica, they promised to take care of Mika,” she shot back to Nathan. “Both things, I couldn’t do by myself. Ever sense she got into my head I’ve put him in more danger than anything. Now he has a chance for a normal life, better than I could give him.”
“How is it better without his mother? When you’re here instead of there, with him?“ Nikki continued to look away. “Trust me, no matter what you do, it won’t be as worse as not be there for him.”
She didn’t respond to that, letting a single tear roll down her check to be brushed off by the wind. “We’re trying to stop the Company, for what they are doing to others like us,” said Nikki changing the topic.
Nathan let it go. “So you go after Noah to get information.”
Nikki returned to herself by the time she answered. “They have something planned, something big and he hates them, so it was thought that he could help us bring them to down.”
“What are they planning to do?”
“We were hoping that he could tell us,”
The two went silent for a few moments; it was Nathan that finally broke it. “Okay, I want to meet them.”
“This Fellowship, I want to talk to them, if their goals are the same and they’re intentions are good we should be pulling are resources, not fighting each other.”
“I don’t think that’s going to work out.”
“Is there something about them that you’re not telling me, or are they the people you clam them to be?”
Nikki stayed quiet. “Good, when we get to Pete’s, you’ll give them a call and set it up.”
“I don’t think this is going to work, “ said Nikki softly to herself.
Nathan lowered down the side of the multi-storied building, stopping at the only window open on that side; he let Nikki weed her way through the wooden frame. Matt came to her aid, giving a hand to grab hold of to steady herself, once through, Nathan shot up at an angle and rested his feet on the carpet.
Everyone gathered around him, Peter was the first to speak, “What’s our next move?”
Nathan looked over at Nikki, “We’re going to meet some new people that might be able to help us.”
“What new people?” asked Matt. “What’s going on?”
The door to Peter’s apartment door exploded off its frame in a shower of splinters and tongues of flame, sending the group to the floor and crashing into furniture from the concussion wave. The smoke billowed through the room, causing Nathan to cough, burning his lungs, gasping for clean air. His eyes tearing, but from what he could see was two faint shadows from the newly formed doorway, growing darker as they approached. The dust dispersed enough to let the silhouette be seen for what they were, the first one to walk through was Meredith, her hands ablaze, the second was a man he did not recognize. A man of a high-medium build, hair cropped short and features that would allow him to get lost in a crowd unrecognized, the looks of an average “Joe”, but there was nothing average about him. He walked with a confident stride, knowing something that made him certain to take on any threat; his eyes reflected the same look his body gave. It was sublet, not overcompensating, but ever present.
The man followed Meredith in and stood behind her, waiting patiently. “Well, it took you long enough.”
“Meredith? What ar…” said Nathan weakly.
“You have something of ours,” said Meredith. Nathan turned to Nikki, who had gotten to her knees before anyone else. She was as puzzled by their appearance as he was. “Come along, Nikki.”
Nikki complied; trying to stand on unsteady legs, around him Nathan heard the others starting to stir. Matt was calling to the others to see if they could respond, Claire was removing some small wooden shrapnel from her torso and a sliver from her cheek, Peter was nowhere to be seen.
When Nikki got to a stable stance, Meredith turned away to leave, Nathan called out for them to stop as he took in breath of smoke, but they didn’t listen. They were almost free of the room when Peter faded in to visibility in front of the opening. It made Meredith take a step back, the man only stopped.
“You heard him, you’re not going anywhere.” Peter tried to put on a strong front but Nathan knew he was still disoriented from the surprised attack. Never the less, Peter held his ground.
Meredith’s hands ignited out of reflex, but in her mind she knew that with her powers, and many more at his disposal, the best she could do was a stalemate. In that moment she turned to the man behind her. “Well?” Nathan noticed the tone of a subordinate addressing to a superior or someone higher up in the “Ranks” than she was, something he had heard all of his adult life. It also brought something else to mind, if Meredith answered to this man, as powerful as she clearly was, how powerful was her partner?
The man didn’t acknowledge her, only walking a few steps by her to address Nathan’s brother. “Step aside, son,” said the man. “You don’t want me hurting on you, do you?”
“I’m not the one who’s going to be hurting,” responded Peter as his hands sparked flames, burning red hot from his palms, the man could feel the heat from the distance in between them.
“Oh, com’on,” said the man calmly. He was unflinching towards the instant flames Peter had produced and even less concerned about the damage they could do. “Don’t you think you’re a little young to be playing with fire?” Responding to the fire in the hall (better late than never), the sprinklers activated, showering the halls and causing alarms to blare for those few who ignored the thunderous, blasting, tremor which rocked their building, and evacuated accordingly.
Peter continued to stare down his opponent, waiting for his move and wanting to wipe the present smirk off his face, giving only an instant of mind power to contemplate why the water system waited so long to turn on? The answer hit Peter like a fist to the stomach; he tried to react in time but was too late to avoid the wave of water come at him from behind dosing him from head to toe, extinguishing the flames at his hands, only able to produce billowing smoke. Peter brushed away the hair that had fallen on to his face, seeing the man in front of him with globs of water streaming across him a foot away from his body, three thick ropes crisscrossing his body merging were they met only to continue on through on their invisible paths. The smirk from the man’s face was still there, it had grown into a full grown, mocking smile, Peter made a mental note: he really hated this guy. Off to the side, Claire had recovered from her superficial wounds and tried to help Matt up to his feet; the blast had left him dizzy and unbalanced which only made it difficult to lift the large man with the small body she possessed. They came to halt when they saw the spectacle in front of them, seeing the swirling water around the man, Claire knew who her uncle was facing. A man her adoptive father had told her about once before, a man he had supposedly captured and imprisoned, The Liquid Man.
“Cooled off?” said the man.
Peter looked back at him defiantly. “Just warming up.”
The man jerk his head to the side and gave a chuckle, then suddenly threw a arm up toward Peter driving a line of water toward him with the force strong than fire hose, the Liquid Man’s face contorted from mocking to stern, he meant to inflict harm upon his adversary. And he would have, if it had connected, but the line of water had stopped right in front of Peter’s outstretched hand. His will had gained control over the water, his mimicking abilities had copied the Liquid Man’s powers, but the uneasy think was, the Liquid Man was shocked to see this happen. The smirk returned on the man’s face.
Does anything startle this man, thought Peter?
As he took the water, he felt a small twinge start from within him, like the adrenaline flowing in his body was building, growing, overloading. His heart began racing, he could hear it as loud as thunder in his ears, going faster and faster. His hands shaking barely able to hold the water in the air as it lost shape, his breathing became rasping, more and more he rushed air in and out, faster and faster. He had felt this before, a year ago when he was learning to control his powers, but it couldn’t be happening, not now, not this instant.
“Peter! What are you doing?!” called out Nathan who was leaning up against one of the walls trying to gain his balance and clear his head. Peter looked over to him and followed his brother’s stare to his other hand at his side. His left hand began to glow a nuclear shine as he felt the irregular power radiate from within, voices rushed into his head, screaming thoughts from the panicked tenants, worry from the Firestarter, the confidence from the Liquid Man, a combination of dreaded fear from his friends and family; they knew that power, having seen its effects first hand. All at once, it was like pouring the ocean into a closed container, his eyes went white with images of the future, a crater in the middle of Manhattan, originating from the spot were he stood, a blur streaking across the country, four people it the woods together, the Man with the Glowing Eyes standing in front of a charred black wall with a large whole in the thick concrete.
His powers started fluctuating from one to another, he was overloading and if he didn’t stop and get control, the vision of destruction he saw originating from here would come to past. Losing control of the water hovering in the air in front of him, the morphing stream fell to the floor, stopping short of impacting; it gained its linear form and returned to its original creator.
Peter, eyes wide with confusion, looking desperately to his friends for help, at a loss for why it was happening. “I…I’m overloading! My power… I can’t control.”
The Liquid Man shook his head slightly, chuckling. “Silly boy, can’t understand how his powers work. Damn sloppy of ya’, son. You can’t even begin to understand what is happening to you.”
Peter looked to him bewilderedly. “How could (hugh) you know anything about my … power?”
“More than you, obliviously,” said the Liquid Man. He pulled back his right hand and swirling water was drawn to his fist. “But not to worry, I know how to stop it.” A jab into the air shot the water he had collected to his fist into a powerful speeding bullet hitting him square in the chest, throwing him back into the hallway connecting to the wall with a large crack as the back of his head hit. Peter was out cold his lifeless body dropped to the floor, his overload shut down for the moment, crisis averted.
“Peter!” called out Claire while Matt acted. His years of being a cop had taught him to react and not waste breath and time to let the perp turn to take you out as well. He lashed out with his mind, connecting with the Liquid Man’s, but he had never done anything like this before but he was damned if he was letting the guy get away with this.
“Matt, NO!” called Nathan from behind him, but Matt’s mind raced through past memories filed away in the back of his mind of every feeling of physical pain he could recall the bullets he had taken back at Kurby Plaza, every punch that he had taken, the broken bone he got when he was seven. Every feeling went to the Liquid Man, but his attack slammed into what felt like a brick wall over the Liquid Man’s mind, only enough got through to make the man twinge let out a small grunt of pain before he counter with another water bullet that shot him back taking Claire with him, he laid stun on the floor as Claire checked on his welfare.
“Stop!” called out Nathan. “That’s enough!”
“Oh?” questioned the Liquid Man.
“We’re not your enemy, our goals are the same. We should be working together, not fighting each other.”
Claire shot her head around. “What are you talking about? Don’t you see what they did?!”
“There was no choice, he had to knock Peter out or he would have blown up the city, and Matt attacked him.”
“But,” Claire started.
“No!” Nathan finished. “We need them.” Claire didn’t fight back but continued sending a death stare toward him.
“Well, now,” said the Liquid Man intervening into the conversation. “Did I hear correctly that you want to partner up with us?”
Nathan stalked away from wall that was supporting him, a look of stern determination in his eyes. “We’re trying to take the Company down, same as you. Your “Fellowship”, with us, could stop them once and for all.”
“You four?” said the Liquid Man in a questionable fashion. “And how exactly are you going to be of any help? “
“Think about it, a man who can read minds…”
The Liquid Man interrupted. “A poor example of one as I can imagine, a boy who couldn’t lead a horse to water let alone get a hold of his powers, a girl who can’t die, and a flying man. Yeah, real helpful you lot would be.”
“One way to look at it,” said Nathan as he reached the couch hunching over it for support. “Another would be that I know my mother better than you, inside information on the members of the Company could prove useful.”
The Liquid Man was thrown back at the intake of this new information, staying silent for the better part of a minute contemplating his next move. At one point he turn to his head as if he caught the sound of someone behind him, but soon returned his eyes back to Nathan. “Alright, I reckon you deserve a shot.” He nodded to Nikki and Meredith to exit out the door that had been made for them. “ ‘Fer now, get out of here before the cops show, won’t be much good to us in jail. We’ll contact you later,”
With a dip of his head and a tip of his imaginary hat, the Liquid Man left the apartment.
Nathan continued to stay fixated at the spot they where they exited. “Count on it.”
Manhattan, New York
The door to Bob’s Office shot of its hinges, flying back to the large bookcases that stood behind his desk, flopping down to rest beside it. The Man with the Glowing Eyes threw in Noah Bennett into the office by the collar of his suit and turned to address the two heavily armed men who had turned the corner. Their stomp boots were barely audible over the railing alarm and they blended in well with their heavy black-armored clothing despite the present flood lights in the hallway which He had left lit. Raising their automatic weapons at the threat before them. They fired several rounds a second into the air, landing on carpet at there feet. Two fingers of lighting arched out touching the men, through their metal weapons it surged making the men convulse. They dropped when he withdrew the tendrils smoke fumed off their unmoving bodies.
Noah Bennett looked on unable to do anything to stop it. “You’re a monster, you know that?” said Bennett as the Man with the Glowing Eyes walked the few steps back to him.
He looked down at him. “Take’s one… to know one.” He went to grab Bennett by the scoff of the front of his clothes. “Keep in mind, Noah, that what I am, is because of you.”
He hauled Bennett to his feet. “You also said he would be HERE!” The cloth of Noah’s clothing start to burn, his nostrils filled with the smoke of fabric alight. The heat was inches from his naked, unprotected skin.
Noah tried to back away but was allowed to. “I said he might be here, if he had lookouts posted he could have gotten out before we arrived.”
The Man with the Glowing Eyes‘ grip tightens, drawing Bennett in closer to his searing fist. “That bodes misfortune for you then, my friend.”
Beads of sweat streamed down from his glistening forehead. “I … I can check his ACK… computer,” said Bennett in between flicks of heat sting his neck. The Man with the Glowing Eyes simply stared at Bennett for an eternity to him. In a thrust movement that turned Bennett’s back toward him, the Man with the Glowing Eyes melted away the connecting bar that he had fused to the makeshift shackles he had put on his forearm. Bennett’s arms were freed from behind his back but not of the warped iron attached to them.
The Man with the Glowing Eyes turned Bennett back to his face. “Find me something or you’re body will be encased in metal, and I won’t be as careful as I was before.”
Bennett went to Bob’s computer and turned it on. Taking a few moments to start it up, the Man with the Glowing Eyes went back to guard the door, keeping one eye on the hallway for more troops, and another on Bennett. After five minutes of tapping keys, he came to a screen requiring a password for him to gain access. He had know as soon as he had “parted ways” with the Company the first time that they would make sure he would never get access to their business again but in his years of serving the Company he had made sure to find ways around the blocks they had put up. He typed in Bob’s password, accepting the word he pulled up the Company’s filed listings of all know and documented cases of individuals with abilities.
Bennett called out, beckoning him to his side to take a look at the list. “These are some of the one’s we’ve encountered over the years…” the list of hundreds rushed by the screen. “…Do you recognize anyone?”
He did no give an answer as he watched the list scroll all the way through and recycle again. “So many… So many people whose lives you ruined.” He turned away for the list. “How many others have you put through hell,” He turned to face Bennett down, “How many have you tortured?!”
“That’s not… Some… most, have only been observed.”
“So you just decided to put US through it?!” shot back the Man with the Glowing Eyes, which were shinning rage from behind his sunglasses.
“You were too dangerous, too great of a threat…” fought back Bennett, matching his angered tone.
The Man with the Glowing Eyes whipped his hand toward Bennett at the comment he was about to make and a clear blast of pure force rippled through the space in between them, sending Noah to an adjacent bookshelf with a thump, rattling books loose from their resting place, some falling to meat Bennett at floor level. He stood over Bennett, fists clasped to tightly they shook in place. A moment later he went to the computer and down loaded a copy of the list onto a flash drive presently inserted in the designated port. After the flash drive was in his hand he used the other, sparking with electricity, to fry the circuitry of the computer and root out through the entire networked system. Every trace of the Companies files were gone, erased forever, save for the copy in his hand.
Bennett lagged up on his hands and knees, a few books on his back slid off; he hefted a weighed hand to feel the lump at the back of his head. Strong, profound, footsteps came toward him and he was drawn up again by his capture and slammed against the bookcase for a second time, causing another lump. “WHERE IS ROBERT BISHOP!!!
James, Steven, Alex, & Allen
Wooded land, Northern area of California
James pushed aside the thick brush of the forest flora, beyond he saw the other three people he met the other night. The others who had… abilities he had said to himself saying “powers” seems too weird. This isn’t like the comic book Steve and I read when we were kids. This is the real “REAL” world, things like this don’t happen. But it had, despite everything he’s come to know as true, every scientific fact, laws of physics, what the grown ups had said to him when he was a little kid. Every bit of information he had accumulated throughout his life said that this doesn’t happen, things like invisible walls and people turning into gorillas, isn’t possible.
Steve was the first to him come out of the thick forest foliage. “About time, I was starting to worry that you’d leave me here with two complete strangers.”
“You’re worried,” said the other guy, the Indiana who turned from a gorilla to a human last night. He was leaning up against a tree truck at the far end of the clearing. “I’m the one with three complete strangers, two of which know each other.”
“You think we’re going to ‘take you’ or something?” asked James
“I don’t know what’s going on, I’m just being cautious.”
“What is going on?“ asked the girl who sat on the ground to James’ left, James recognized her as the girl from school that always sat off to the side, Alex was her name. She wasn’t against the edge of the clearing but she was close enough to get out if she needed to. She had drawn up her legs to her chest, wrapped by her arms in a defensive posture. She was staring out into space when she ask the question, her eyes turned to them looking for answers with her blue doe eyes, first the Indian, than Steve, then they rested with James. “I mean things like this don’t happen, can’t happen.”
James shook his head. “That’s what I thought.”
“What I want to know is ‘how’?” spoke Steven. “Are we mutants, it this the start of the X-men?” Do we get costumes?”
“What’s ‘X-men’?” asked the Indian.
“Never mind,” answered James, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Look, first things first. We don’t talk to anybody about this outside this group, and never in public areas. Agreed?” All three of them nodded slightly in agreement.
“So how do we find out about what’s happening to us?” asked Alex to anyone who could answer?
Steve rubbed the back of his head, thinking. “Maybe we should go see a doctor?”
“Yeah, that’s great. Why don’t we just walk up to them and say ‘we’re freaks, dissect us please.’”
“I don’t mean some random doctor, Big Chief Ass Wipe, I mean someone we can trust.”
“The name’s Allen, flatfoot!” shot back the Indian moving up from the trunk and taking a few steps forward challenging Steven, who took a few steps forward himself. James came in between them in a hurry, arms spread out at each side to halt their movements. Out of reflex, two semi transparent barriers appeared in front, causing Steve to walk right into his. He let out a ‘yelp’ and placed a hand on his forehead.
“Dude!” Steve called out.
“Oh, sorry,” said James and drew in his arms, sending the barriers back into nothingness. “Look, guys we can’t be fighting right now, we have better things to do.” He turned to Steve, still grasping at his head with one hand. “Good idea to run tests, but there’s no way a doctor won’t keep something like this quiet. It’s too big.”
“So what do we do, then?” said Steve in a raised voice, annoyed with his friend at the moment.
“We stay off the radar and keep our ears to the ground, that’s what.”
“And who but you in charge, huh?” shouted Allen, his frustration growing.
“Um, guys,” said the silent voice of the girl sitting on the ground, one hand raised slightly in the air, not sure where she should or not. “I, umm… I know someone, a doctor; he’s a friend of my family. We could, I don’t know, go see him?”
The three boys stared at the blonde teenage girl, dumbstruck. “Can we trust him with something like this?”
“I think so, I mean yeah,” said Alex. “He a good guy, he’s like an uncle to me.”
Steve turned to James looking for a reason for him to turn the idea down. “Well?”
“It’s a risk,” said James.
“So only one of us goes to see him. Ask him for a physical and see what comes up?”
“You can count me out,” said Allen.
“I will,” announced Alex. “He knows me, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me….”
“And we can back her up, just in case,” said Steve, continuing.
“Have you guys even thought about what you might find if you go through with this,” said Allen. “What happens after that? What if this is irreversible, what then?”
“We’ll know,” said James. “We can decide what to do then.” He looked strait at Allen. “Are you going to help us?”
After a few moments of staring James down, he lowered his head and sighed, in spite of his attitude toward this whole situation, he wanted to know what was happening as much as they did. “This is such a bad Idea.”
To be continued….