Search and Seizure
Torii Station, Okinawa, Japan
Mason Ford watched the men and women march into the courtyard for morning line-up. Stationed in the military base, they would return home for an unknown span of time at the end of the week. He didn’t like how quiet his home in Tennessee would be. No one lived there while he served outside of the country—he didn’t need hired help after the elementalists collected Luana from his home at age seven while he served on active duty.
At eight, he received word of her classification of Rogue, and her untimely death.
While he called the city, and the house, his home—it no longer felt like anything close. It remained a place to exist for months at a time.
“Alright, soldiers.” Mason’s voice echoed across the yard. “We’re running drills for the first half of today. This afternoon, we are on cleaning duty.”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
The days when they complained about their duties vanished, instead, on the blow of his whistle, they immediately went off to do as told. Mason followed behind them to watch their drills and participate himself. He needed a good workout to keep his mind off his inevitable return home to the states.
Key West, Florida, United States of America
“What is it you want from me?” Ryan slid into the chair across from Kim in the small café. His own lunch sat in front of him while the latter casually finished off a small bag of chips and typed into his computer with the other hand.
“I’m looking for help to destroy the elementalists.” Kim didn’t need to hedge around his plans. The willing ones would fall easy.
“Why?” Ryan swallowed a mouthful of his soda. “You’re only one man—there’s no way you can achieve a lofty goal without some high-ranking backers. I understand you’re upset about losing your child, it took me several years to accept my son couldn’t live in either world. That understanding cost me my daughter as well. I think it’s better if you let go now. Move on. It’s what we all want to do.”
“My daughter is still alive. I want her back.” Kim hissed. He nearly spilled his coffee across the table.
“You have no guarantee standing up against them is going to give you your child back. They’re removed from our society for a reason. They’re dangerous. If they don’t have anyone to teach them to control their abilities, they wreak havoc on the world around them. If they wanted to, they would crush you like a bug before you even get any kind of momentum against them.” Ryan took another bite of his sandwich and around a mouthful of bread and meat, he continued: “It’s better they’re separated from us. It may sound insensitive, but this is from my own personal experience.”
“What would you say to me if your son is still alive today?” Kim leaned back in his chair; his own food lay forgotten as he watched the older man.
“If my son is alive, my daughter might be as well.” He shrugged. “I’d rather not put my focus into hypotheticals.”
“What happened to your daughter?”
“She contracted pneumonia shortly after my wife’s passing and Scott’s removal to Elementōrum Patriam. The disease regrettably took her because of my neglect.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your loss—but it does mean you’re alone.”
“I’m not sure what that has to do with anything.” Ryan leaned back in his own seat. “I’m used to it by now. I came to Key West to disappear and I succeeded. I don’t need to be out there in the real world.”
“I think it’s time you faced the real world.”
“You’re asking me to be a key player in genocide.”
Kim couldn’t deny his goal. “Look, I need you. Your knowledge on biology from your career is indispensable. I need someone who can mess with genetics and find a way to end the mutation.”
“It’s been years since I did anything related to biology—and as it is, I worked with plants. Plant genetics are one-million times easier to mess with than human.”
“So, maybe we look at poison which infects them instead of trying to fix their genetics.” Kim offered the solution on the fly with no idea if it would be feasible.
“Because I’m sure a poison is going to completely eradicate the genetic mutation.” Ryan rolled his eyes and pushed away from the table. “If you’ll excuse me. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my day.”
“I’ll follow you.”
“What?” Ryan turned around. The tray in his hand lilted sideways and the trash edged toward tumbling to the floor.
“If you don’t agree to help me, I’ll follow you until you do. I don’t have anything on any other geneticists. I know you work here, and I will show up every day and wait for you. I’ll find out where you live. If you try to run, I’ll find you again. No matter how much you want to disappear, you won’t be able to—not from me.” Kim’s eyes hardened and his jaw clenched.
“Is that a threat?”
“I’m not sure you have to ask that question.”
Ryan chewed on his tongue and weighed the options. He hated wondering if the man had enough on him to really blackmail him into helping him. His debt a potential candidate. “Where are you staying?”
Kim scribbled the address of the hotel onto a napkin. “Room three-o-five.”
“In an hour, we’ll look at options. I don’t think poison is your best bet.” Ryan ignored the pleased grin on the man’s face.
The Academy, Elementōrum Patriam
“Kgosi, incoming request!” Dwayne yelled down the hall as he saw a tube shoot across the ceiling. They didn’t find a particular need to upgrade the archaic system. Luana’s thanks echoed back to the Motswana. Ethan, caught in the middle of the exchange, looked around in surprise.
“What do you think it’s about?” Eilene materialized behind Dwayne. Ethan let out a small grunt of surprise, but the taller male didn’t react as he heard her approach.
“Only one way to find out, Dickens.” He jerked his thumb in the direction of the main conference room. She stuck her tongue out at him and pulled him down the hall with her. Dwayne’s laughter caught on the walls; the blonde laughed along with him as they bounced their way to the meeting.
They arrived last in the conference room; the others, quicker to react, slid into their chairs and waited politely. The Council had a seating chart according to the order their element order—updated after their discovery. Luana sat at the head of the table, Eilene on her right hand, and Hans on her left. Scott followed after Eilene, with Series next to him and Dwayne on the end. Scarlet sat next to Hans, an empty seat for the missing Supernatural elementalist, and lastly Ethan. Ethan didn’t like how he sat next to an empty chair. It made him lonely and exiled on the end of the row.
“Alright, we have a few things we need to cover. The incoming request is merely added to the docket. Dwayne, you’re in charge of minutes for this meeting.” Luana stood from her chair.
Dwayne immediately pressed a button under the table and a hidden panel slid to the side. A computer emerged from the hole and he opened a blank document to type in.
“First up, I need to turn time over to Series. She experienced flashes of the future which are important to us continuing to run the country. I would like to hear what she saw and then open up a discussion on our proactive actions to the floor.”
Luana returned to her chair and Series stood instead, but her height didn’t change much between the two.
“To be honest with all of you—the visions started a while ago, but I couldn’t connect them to any events and decided to wait until the situation presented itself. The time is now, and we need to address everything I saw and things I haven’t.” Series didn’t waver under the intense stares from her comrades. “The first vision I saw involved Scott. In the dream, I landed on a battlefield. It was pouring rain and as I pushed through the throngs of soldiers, I found Scott in the middle of a huge white ring. People rushed him from all sides, but no one could touch him.”
Scott’s brows crinkled. He didn’t think he made a particularly prolific warrior—especially against hordes of people.
“That’s scary enough on its own—but his eyes glowed stark white, and he wielded all nine elements at once. A feat I’m not sure anyone ever achieved successfully. Not even Vasha could withstand it. Scott didn’t have his robes on either—that’s how I identified him.”
Luana’s eyes narrowed. Wearing no robes didn’t bode well for them.
“Then, I saw myself. A group of enemies surrounded me. When I tried to approach myself, I tripped and turned up on a beach. The dreams felt so vivid I could sense every part of the environment. The sand sticking to my skin and the smell of the sea air—except everything I touched passed through me.”
“What was on the beach, Junior?” Dwayne paused his notes.
“An encampment. It pressed up against the line of trees where we have more shelter. Luana and Hans walked along the beach and they talked about seeing someone they didn’t expect on the battlefield—though it came from Luana’s side. I don’t know who they saw, but they startled her. I saw Luana cry. When I tried to enter the tents to find out more information, the vision brought me back to the Academy. We stood on the steps overlooking the grounds and none of us wore our robes.” Series finished recounting the first set of dreams.
“That’s a lot to unpack.” Eilene leaned back in her chair and rolled her shoulders.
“It doesn’t end there.” Series took a shaky breath. “Three nights ago, I started to have visions while awake.”
“Is that possible?” Scarlet’s brows furrowed together.
“Apparently—I never heard of it before.” She licked her lips. “It’s terrifying. They can hit at any moment and I collapse because my body wants to go into a sleep state, but I’m also still awake through all of it. The visions from the other night—they showed a main contender in the upcoming war. We’re fighting against the humans and the father of the child we retrieved the other day is at the front of the fight.”
“Did you garner any information we can use to stop him?” Luana’s hands formed frustrated fists.
Series shook her head. “In the vision, he wielded a sword-like object like our Lūcis Lāmina Gracilis. It’s different, but I can’t explain how since I didn’t get a good enough look at its functions. I do know it had a gold coloring, and it generated flames not extinguished by the rain. Rolfe fought someone I didn’t recognize—because of the rain, mud covered everyone. I could make out brown hair. I couldn’t get close enough to look at his face, but the humans put him at their mercy. He lost his weapons, our Lūcis, during the fight because of the unknown weapon. I didn’t get to see anything else because something jolted me back to the present moment. I do know he planned to kill them. The vision didn’t continue until I went into the bathroom where I collapsed and hit my head on the shower—before I called Dwayne.”
“What did you see the second time around?” Luana scratched her nose.
“More of the same fight—the man ended up with one of his weapons destroyed, supposedly by the human. I didn’t see the brunet die, but it felt fatal. The third vision, after I first texted Dwayne featured him, and it’s one I’m uncertain about. Apparently, he knew someone getting married and asked them if they wanted him to essentially stop the wedding. Dwayne said he thinks that one is a more legitimate dream, but I don’t feel certain.”
“Talk of weddings aside,” Hans chuckled at the eye roll Dwayne provided the table with, “Is there anything else we may need to know to progress?”
“Someone dies. I don’t know who. We never mentioned a name. They are male, however, and we are left with a limited number of options. I managed to catch a glimpse of the map of our country with battle plans pinned to it in various places. I know the war ends up here and we will lose someone important to us. I can’t change the future.” Series’ lower lip trembled. She stared around the table at the faces of her friends, Scott, Hans, Dwayne, and Ethan (though newly acquired). She couldn’t imagine losing any of them.
“We don’t have any control over who dies.” Scott spoke up. “I don’t think any of us will hold back even if we know we could die—that’s a part of war. I’d be more surprised if we made it out unscathed.”
“Scott makes a fair point.” Hans nodded firmly. “Even if I knew I’m the one who dies, it wouldn’t stop me from participating in this war. If my death is a part of what saves and brings peace back to our people, I’d die one-hundred times over.”
“I think,” Luana started, “it may be best to avoid wars until we’re confronted with the force coming at us in the form of an irate parent.”
“It’s disappointing to think one person could cause so much chaos.” Scarlet sighed. “Are we going to pull our current troops out of the field?”
“I think that is the best course of action.” Eilene sucked on her teeth. “We can fortify here if we bring them home. We can make a call for people to join the army publicly. The more prepared we are, the better it’ll be for our people in the long run. We should try to prevent as many casualties as possible—except our inevitable one.”
“Then, in response to this request,” Luana set the tube on the table and the group fixated their gaze on the scroll inside. “I have a feeling, it’s a war request. This will be our first refusal.”
“Open it,” Dwayne’s smile dropped from his face. For all they knew, it could be an official declaration of war which would catapult them into the war with no preparation.
Ethan held his breath as Luana pushed the lid off the cannister. She pulled out the notice and read it aloud to the group. A request from Qatar for help in an upcoming war against the United Arab Emirates, and a letter for the opposite.
“Our first rejection letter.” Eilene cleared her throat.
“I’ll write the rejection letters.” Scarlet volunteered.
“Since we know this war is coming, we need to prepare the best we can.” Luana grabbed a stylus out of the cup at her desk and slid back a slim panel of wood on her desk to reveal a screen. She powered it on and when she put the stylus to the glass, her writing appeared on one of the nine wall panels in the room. “Things we should actively think about: Food Supply, may include rationing current food output. Write your own ideas down and we can comment on and discuss them.”
Scarlet leaned over to show Ethan how the panels worked and how he could flip to different ones and comment on them while someone else also wrote on the same panel. Series shared her writing pad with Dwayne, so he could keep the computer open. Eilene borrowed Dwayne’s computer to pull up the census database and find the name of their suspected threat. On her wall, she wrote:
CONTACT FBI/CIA: PERSON OF INTEREST KIM ROLFE
The Council flipped through panels and made notes until the walls resembled bad graffiti art. Stars and arrows marred the writing as it connected points together and put emphasis on ideas or needs. Once satisfied with the content, Luana exported the files into a single panoramic image file and sent it to their phones.
“Hans and I will compile this into an easily read file with order of events. I’ll send it out with your personal work assignments when we’re done.” Luana collected a few papers and books scattered around the room she thought she would need. “For now, relax. If you find some work to do, feel free.”
Hans took what she carried and nudged her out of the door first. Once they disappeared, Scarlet sighed. “Are those two ever going to admit their feelings?”
“Probably not.” Series laid back in her chair. “I wish I could get a handle on these waking visions. If I could control when I see them, it’d make our lives easier.”
“You’re asking for a miracle.” Dwayne chuckled.
“Can Council members date each other?” Ethan doodled absentmindedly on the pad in front of him and watched the little drawings come to life on the wall behind Dwayne’s head.
“Yeah—though we don’t usually.” Scarlet fluffed up her hair with her fingers.
“Dating usually leads to marriage—which isn’t bad, but who are you going to invite? So, you have a small ceremony with the Council—great now you share a room with each other even though you could before. Now you’re married, you might think about starting a family, but if you have a child you don’t get to raise it. The Council is full of ‘dead’ people—if any of us have children, they must go outside the academy and be adopted. It’s easier to stay single for your entire life. It doesn’t complicate anything.” Dwayne leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the table. “I’m proud every day I’m an Ace. Makes my job here a-hundred times easier.”
“You’re asexual?” Eilene’s eyes snapped to him. Her face shaded several different colors of pink.
Dwayne’s mouth parted as he realized he revealed his sexuality without talking to her first. He didn’t mean to break her heart—not this way in front of practically everyone. He swallowed hard and dropped his feet back to the floor. The chair thudded down with him.
“It slipped.” Dwayne whispered.
Scott put a hand on Eilene’s arm, but she shook him off.
“I’m the same as Dwayne, sorry boys.” Scarlet quickly tried to cover.
“I’m only half-Ace, demisexual.” Series pulled her legs up into her chair and curled into the fetal position. “I have to agree, it’d be hard to be a normal sexual person with this job.”
“I need to go take some ibuprofen.” Eilene headed for the door. “I’ll see you guys later.”
She took off running once in the hall. Dwayne stood and headed after her with a shout of, “Dickens, wait!”
“I’m going to compose the rejection letter.” Scarlet pushed away from the table. She left with the request tube tucked under her arm.
Series sized up the last two Council members left in the room. “Neither of you are going to flip out and cause drama, are you?”
Scott shook his head, and Ethan held up his hands in a gesture of forfeiting.
“Do you wanna play some video games?”
Key West, Florida, United States of America
“I don’t think poison is the right way to go.” Ryan said as Kim let him into the hotel room. “It’ll be too hard to create considering you need someone who can read the genome of the homo elementa. The poison would need to target their deformities and weaknesses. I only understand a base premise of the idea, but I can’t read the genome.”
“Take a look through my research first. We might be able to come to a firmer conclusion on how to proceed.” Kim offered Ryan a stack of copied papers from his luggage.
He took the proffered research hesitantly and seated himself in the small chair by the window. Ryan knew Kim made up his mind about what he wanted to do, and he hoped he could find a flaw in Kim’s research which he could exploit or steer the man toward a better alternative.
It took him several hours to pour through the comprehensive papers; the amount of information Kim compiled without any help fascinated Ryan. He wrote out notes on a separate piece of paper he believed to be of note before he set the research down.
“What led you to looking for a poison to use against the elementalists?”
Kim’s research had a lot of open holes, including how to identify a child as an elementalist prior to the manifestation of their powers. Someone would pay a specialist to examine the thirteenth chromosome to identify the mutation on a connection-by-connection basis. The process came with an exorbitant price tag and only the one percent could afford it.
“I thought it would be the most logical. Find their main water-supply, or supplies, and poison them. People slipped into the country before. It’s not impossible and it’s the quickest way to spread the effect.” Kim shrugged and set his laptop next to him on the large king-sized bed.
“What do you plan to do with the children who are born with the mutation after you eradicate their country?” Ryan flicked through his notes again. “Unless you find a cure for the mutation, or a way to fix it before they’re born and while they’re an embryo, I don’t see how you can keep them from resurfacing.
“Kill the children who show signs of the mutation.” He said it with a dead pan expression; it drew a shiver out of the older man.
“Parents aren’t going to agree to have their child killed when they find out it has a mutation.” Ryan’s eyes narrowed.
Kim gave him a knowing look. “Won’t they? Are you trying to tell me the habits of humans are going to change when it comes to the elementalist race? Have they yet to stop themselves from aborting a child when they find it has some other kind of genetic disease? Down syndrome? Autism? Other learning disabilities? Have they ever stopped to think about rearing a child when it is born with blindness or deafness, instead of seeking a cure? No. Humans always look for cures to everything. They are obsessed with having a generation with no ‘mistakes’, no ‘deformities’—they don’t want anything wrong with a child which could affect the world they live in. If an elementalist child is born, they will seek to get rid of it. It’s part of their nature. I’m sure once they know their child cannot live separately or receive training over their powers, they will no longer allow them to exist. Our cure is simply death to all who do not fit our human race.”
“You’re exploiting the fear and weakness in humans and encouraging genocide for generations to come.” Ryan cleared his throat—aware of the severity of what Kim wanted to achieve. He stared down at his notes.
Alcohol and tobacco kill elementalists.
He folded the note in half and tucked it into his pocket as discretely as he could. “And you didn’t find anything in your research which would assist you in destroying them?”
“I didn’t. Nothing I could use. That’s why I came to you—we need a poison and I think you can find it for me.” Kim’s sinister grin filled Ryan with dread—but he also felt a momentary fleeting leap of hope. Kim didn’t know the elementalists’ weakness. He could work from the inside and protect the elementalists and stop the genocide as much as he could.
“I’ll try to find a poison.” Ryan turned back to the reading. He prayed Kim would remain blind to the information in front of his face.
The Academy, Elementōrum Patriam
“Dickens,” Dwayne caught up with Eilene using his gangly strides. His strong arm wrapped firmly around her left bicep and drew them both to a halt. The blonde yanked her arm away from the taller man and frowned. She didn’t turn to face him. “I never mean to blurt it out in front of everyone. That’s the last way I wanted everyone to find out.”
“And yet, it happened.” Eilene’s voice choked with tears. “I assume you thought about it lately. Did you intend to tell me?”
“It’s a part of who I am, Dickens, I can’t not think about it.” Dwayne reached out for her hand, but she slapped him away. His own throat felt blocked. He couldn’t remember how many years passed since she acted like she did when she first joined the council—scared of her own shadow. The remnants of what her uncle did to her. “I know how you feel about me. I thought about telling you—I wanted to tell you for a while, but I could never come up with a good way to not break your heart. I didn’t want to hurt you. You’re always there for me and I wanted to return the favor—turns out I’m not as good at it as you.”
She folded her arms and shivered in the dim lighting.
“I never said you weren’t there for me.” She picked out the flaw in his speech. “I don’t think you couldn’t break my heart as soon as you knew I liked you in that way.”
“I’m the jerk here, aren’t I?” Dwayne took a steadying breath. He reached out again and pulled her into a hug so her back cradled against his chest. “I’m sorry, Eilene. You’re going to find a better guy than me one day, you know?”
Hot tears spilled down Eilene’s face and dripped onto the man’s arms. He kissed the top of her head. She tilted her head back into his chest, touched he used her real name to express his true emotions.
“I’ll never find anyone like you.”
“And that’s a good thing.” A smile crept back onto Dwayne’s face. “I’d be pissed if you fell in love with someone else and then they broke your heart like I did. You’ve gotta find someone better than me—there’s tons of men out there.”
“People I don’t know.” She sniffled. “I don’t exactly want to date Ethan.”
Dwayne pursed his lips, surprised she didn’t recognize Scott as a viable option. “If Junior’s visions are true, you might be able to meet a whole world full of people.”
“I hate you, for what you did to me.”
“I can accept that, Dickens. Although, if you tell me you hate me for anything else, I’m not going to believe you.”
“Shut up.” She gently pulled away. “I’m going to spend some time alone.”
November 4, 2316
Milan, Tennessee, United States of America
Mason tiredly pushed open the front door of his house after a long, eighteen-hour flight from Japan. He took a deep breath and immediately regretted it when his lungs filled with the disturbed dust. It floated through the air until it settled again on the unused surfaces. He pulled his luggage over the threshold and wheeled it through the halls to his upstairs bedroom. The wheels of the suitcase and his feet left behind their own tracks across the floor. He left the case in the doorway of the room and shook out the duvet on his bed and fluffed the pillows to get rid of most of the dust. He couldn’t ignore his jetlag, even for a load of laundry he desperately needed.
He would spend the next six months, minimum, off from active duty. He didn’t know where he’d be stationed when his next assignment came in, but he put in a request to be transferred back to the base in Tennessee. He wanted to take better care of his own.
Mason slept past the recommended eight hours and awoke when the morning rays of sun broke through the closed curtains of the bedroom. He climbed out of bed and pushed the suitcase out of his way and set off down the hall. As he passed by a closed doorway before the stairs, he knocked on the wood door out of habit with a whisper of:
“Lu-bear, time to get up.”
He stumbled the rest of the way down the hall knowing he wouldn’t get a response. The elementalists took Luana while the army stationed Mason in Israel. During his time there, he received an apology letter from the Council and from the nanny. Luana never liked the nanny.
In the back of his mind as his foot met the top step, Mason could see five-year-old Luana racing past him on the stairs for the kitchen. Her excited shout about pancakes echoed across his memories. Several steps later, Mason opened his cupboard and found it bare except for a couple boxes of stale and expired crackers and cereal. He remembered he didn’t have any food stock to pull from, the fridge emptied before his last assignment, and he briefly considered heading out in the early morning to buy something from a fast-food joint.
Instead, he grabbed the box of cereal and pulled it out of the cupboard. He opened the box and removed the plastic clippie on the bag before he reached in and shoved a handful of dry cereal into his mouth. It’s cultural for us born in good ol’ ’Murica. He vainly opened the fridge and found a couple Sobé Life Water bottles resting on the bottom shelf. They still had a good date and he cracked open the plastic lid.
The mix of stale, sugary, fruit and a fruit water didn’t have the most pleasant taste, but it gave him some energy to run on for grocery shopping. He couldn’t keep living on his limited food storage.
Mason stared blankly out the window and considered the what ifs. Luana would be twenty-five now, quickly approaching twenty-six if the Council didn’t kill her at eight. He considered the possibility of her married and with children—he could be a grandfather. Even if he would never meet or see them. He wondered if he could send them gifts.
He took a couple hours to get ready for the day. The hot water in the shower and the minimal tidying of his bathroom and bedroom took time. The quiet relaxed him compared to the bustle of the base.
Mason buckled himself into the driver seat of his sedan and hoped the engine would run after the months of disuse. The engine grated as it struggled to turn over, but on the third try, the hover car roared to life. He programed in the address for the nearest grocery store and spent the next couple hours traipsing up and down the aisles as he restocked his entire kitchen. He didn’t have the will to cook, but Mason knew buying fresh ingredients and fixing his food would be healthier for his body in the long run.
The checkout lines long as expected for a weekend. He found he didn’t mind, even with perishables in his cart. The moments outside of his empty house felt like paradise. Once checked out of the store, he headed home as quick as he could. The weather outside felt cooler as the calendar moved toward winter, but he didn’t want the perishables to be exposed to the warmth longer than necessary.
After putting away the groceries, he had no desire to watch anything on the television. He didn’t want to clean either and remaining homebound made him miserable; he decided to go for a walk through the nearby park.
On his third lap of the walkway, he noticed two adult men standing near each other and pointing and whispering. He didn’t see anything immediately odd about their behavior, but he felt something off about them on instinct. He slowed his pace and diverged onto the path which crossed behind their bench. If two parents talked about their family, his concerns would be misplaced; as he passed by, he knew his gut didn’t steer him wrong.
“How do you tell if they’re an elementalist, though?” The younger of the two kept a notepad in front of him and several messy scribbled notes in blue pen. Mason’s eyes narrowed.
“My son used to send little blasts of wind through the house when he got upset, but I didn’t recognize it when it happened.” The older man shrugged.
Mason scratched the back of his neck. He figured what the man said could be a valid sign, but even after having Luana, he realized he didn’t know how to tell an elementalist child from a human one.
“That sign is too narrow to apply to an open environment like a park.” He spoke without thinking and the two whirled around the on the bench. “Sorry, Mason Ford, my daughter was an elementalist. Why are you looking for them?”
“Kim Rolfe, the elementalists took my daughter recently.”
“I’m sorry to hear—I hope for your sake she isn’t identified as a Rogue like mine.”
“Ryan Everton—they took my son several years ago. He was a Rogue as well.”
“Sorry for your loss,” Mason nodded along.
“Do you know how to recognize an elementalist child?” Kim rested his arm across the back of the bench.
“I’m not terribly familiar with it—I didn’t spend much time around my daughter. I assume the signs you look for are different in a public setting. What are you going to do with the information?”
Kim shifted on the bench to open a space for him to sit down. “Take a seat, Mason. How upset at the elementalists are you?”
“Not as much now as when I first received the notification. My empty house tells a different story.” He shrugged.
“Then you’re still upset.”
“Perhaps—I don’t understand their policies for killing Rogues. It’s a part of their society. As hard as it may be to accept, her genetics dictated her death as her right—an unfortunate end.”
“You call it a right?”
“A birthright. It may not be a correct interpretation from our perspective, but we’re not a part of the elementalist world. I don’t pretend to understand their government, and I don’t want to be in a position where I make a judgement call.” Mason gathered his thoughts as he spoke. Ryan momentarily distracted him by turning on the bench and tracing letters, unseen by Kim, bravely into his shoulder.
H-E-L-P M-E. T-R-A-P-P-E-D. E-V-I-L.
“What would you feel like if we say there might be a way to rid the world of elementalists?”
“I would say it’s similar to a war I fight almost daily.” He didn’t smile, concerned about the message from this man’s partner. “I’d hate for other parents to feel the same pain as me.”
“Ryan and I are working on a way to destroy the elementalists. Are you interested in joining our cause?”
“Curious, more than interested.” He admitted. Evil. Definitely. He felt trapped. “How do you plan to remove them?”
“Ryan is graciously helping me formulate a weapon. We are still in disagreement about how to do it.”
“You’re still in disagreement. I know I cannot formulate a poison which targets their mutation.” Ryan muttered—his gaze fixated on the children in the park. Kim cleared his throat and ignored the start of another argument.
“I have some research I would be willing to show you—only if you promise to help us in our cause, of course.”
“If I decided to leave now or halfway out?” Mason turned his gaze to the park to where he could see Ryan’s firm jaw.
“I kill you.” Kim’s face reflected his seriousness.
Mason believed he could outrun them if it came to it—but he also felt Ryan formulated a plan. Of course, he didn’t want other people to experience what he did with Luana, but he knew genocide would never by the right answer. Even if he did run, he felt Kim would hunt him until he agreed. His own pain, however, didn’t extend far enough to do what the man asked. Ryan sat in a fast-sinking ship, and Mason had one-foot in the middle of boarding. Their unfortunate meeting with Kim became the final goodbye to their free will.
He licked his lips and hesitantly agreed to the man’s terms.
How to Identify an Elementalist
1.Do they fall from high places without getting hurt? Reference: Scott
2.Do they have some knowledge on basic pyro techniques? Reference: Luana, Aideen
3.Are they able to control an element, no matter how basic?
4.Do they have a high core temperature?
5.How strong is their breathing?
6.What is the highest point of heat they can withstand?
Their list disappointed them to say the least. They only managed to compile a few basic facts based on their own children. Originally, they hoped their collective knowledge would give them an advantage, but they knew too little about their kids.
Ryan looked over the list again and considered adding a seventh item; he could tell Kim didn’t fully read or comprehend his own research. He decided to leave it off. He would leave it up to their captor to find the information himself.
When Kim left the two alone, Ryan explained his plan to work from the inside against Kim to Mason and he agreed to follow the same plan. The two owed it to their children to try their best to stop the insanity of a single man. They both prepared themselves to participate in activities they didn’t want to, to spare their own lives.
Mason reluctantly offered his home to them on the premise they helped clean it. They agreed since it would save them money to move out of their hotel room.
Ryan offered the list to Kim who accepted it greedily.
“Alright, let’s see if we can get ourselves a child.” Kim’s smile unhinged from his face.
Mason oversaw driving their getaway vehicle and Ryan would help load the child into the car before the parents noticed. Kim would be the one putting his hands directly on their first subject and escorting them out of the park.
Kim wandered around the park and called out Aideen’s name to make parents feel at ease with him there.
“Aideen, make sure you don’t fall.” He smiled at another mother with a baby in a stroller and she nodded at him.
As he rounded the corner of a large playground feature, he heard the not so hushed whisper.
“You can’t tell anyone what I can do, okay?” A boy whispered to a little girl playing near him.
“Never tell,” she drew an X over her heart.
“Watch this,” one of the boy’s fingers lit up with a bright red and orange flame. The little girl gasped and ran off.
Kim approached the disappointed child quietly and wrapped his hand around the boy’s mouth. He yanked the child off the ground, fought against his kicking, and rushed out of the park before the parents took an opportunity to notice. The few parents he passed, he pretended to be disciplining and unruly child before he reached the car and handed him off to Ryan.
Mason peeled out of the parking structure and disappeared into the crowded city metro.