Reaching the Mara Sangua was easier said than done. After a decade, the soil treatments inside the plantation still kept the jungle from reclaiming it, but there were no such protections for the road leading to it. Ten miles out, and the APC could carry them no further.
“We need to stay to the road—or what’s left of it,” stated the President, as they followed remnant of the road. It was mostly now marked by a lack of trees and a wealth of low-growing plant life that was wide enough to cause a break in the canopy above. “The jungle out to two miles around Mara Sangua is riddled with traps both to keep interlopers out and the workers in. We didn’t bother to clear them when we shut the place down, so many will still be operational.”
“Isn’t walking right up to the main gates going to make it super-clear to the faeries that we’re coming?” Kura asked.
“Cartel traps are designed to make an example as well as hinder or kill. Imagine a spike that drops out of the trees to impale you through the liver and leave you hanging there, or a pit trap that drops you … Continue reading
A steady rain was pattering down by the time the military APC reached the site of the attack.
An elderly electric bus had run off the road and stuck a tree. It’s rear doors had been left open and the rain was turning the dirt road around it into mud. Bluish blood mixed with it was one of the three soldiers President Esteban-Vega brought with her crouched over the body of one of the small gray-furred creatures—korrigan–that had pursued the Descendants in the Lost World.
“Shot by the bus driver,” explained one of the other soldiers, introduced tot he group as Colonel Song. He was a Chinese man whose face was badly scarred on the right side. It looked like he’d been burned. “According to the tourists, he killed this one and the other one,” he pointed to another body on the other side of the road, which the third soldier was in the process of covering with a tarp, “wounded another of the little ones and the big bastard.”
“The question is why they attacked in the first place,” said Warrick, carefully not looking at the corpses. He covered by focusing on the crud spear lodged in the bus’s … Continue reading
“You have to admit that they’re better than one might expect,” Juniper was saying as she and Melissa were being hustled down hospital corridors by a pair of men in suits.
Melissa glared aside at her. “Are you actually trying to look on the bright side and the best you can come up with is that our hospital gowns are higher quality than normal?”
“Well yeah. All things considered… that they don’t open in the back is the best thing I can come up with.”
One of the suits snorted and therefore earned the full power of Melissa’s glare. “I thought you didn’t understand English.” The man shared a look with his counterpart and stoically set his jaw. “Right. We’re not going to let down our guards and tell our secrets just because there might be a language barrier. Haven’t you heard? Our most important secrets are already out there for everyone to hear.”
“Maybe it’s the opposite,” Juniper offered. “They look like Feds, so maybe they’re not talking to us so they don’t let on about something they don’t want us to know. Like how we got here. We’re not still in Venezuela, you know?”
“Why would you say … Continue reading
The long, drawn out squeak from what might have been freshly squeaky hinges woke Lisa.
Before she could do much to react, someone started speaking in Spanish. “I have her results. I’m not quite sure what to make of them.” The speaker was male and young, no older than early twenties from what she could tell.
An older female voice spoke from nearby—her bedside? Lisa didn’t remember going to bed. In fat, she remember her last rest involved trying to get comfortable on a pile of grass. “I expected this. She’s always been noted to be unusual even among the vast range of potestades. What do the results say?”
“That’s just it, doctor: the preliminary workup… is negative. The lab did them three times and they’re all the same. Medically speaking, she is an impotente.”
The woman next to Lisa’s bed scoffed. “Impossible. We’ve all seen her on the news using her powers. For God’s sake, she’s my eldest’s favorite.”
“Dr. Rojas says that the tests don’t lie. In fact he’s ordering that she and Ms. Carlyle be processed and moved to an impotente facility as soon as possible.” From his tone, Lisa didn’t think he much agreed with that, … Continue reading
The Angel dropped into the alley where Viral went down. Brick and the twisted metal remains of the fire escape littered the area, pilled up in drifts of rubble. She folded her wings and dismissed her glaive, rushing forward to look for her fallen for—and more importantly its host.
Black heat leapt from her hands to encapsulate bricks and reduce their weight enough for her to quickly and easily toss them aside.
Moments later, Vamanos arrived, skidding to a stop when she found herself face-to-face with the Angel. “Um… Darkness?” she asked tentatively. “Are you… you?”
Looking over her shoulder, the Angel looked at her with a cool, neutral stare. “She is herself as well as one with us.”
“And does that mean you’ve not going to try to kill me?”
“There has been an accord. We request your assistance searching for…” after a long pause where she tried to say several words at once, she finally said, “Chaos. We need to make sure he survived.”
Vamanos nodded and zipped over the the nearest pile of brick. “Right. Um… do you think he’s okay after all that?”
“The creature was able to sustain greater damage than he was previously able … Continue reading
Denial was a powerful thing.
For Alexis’s part, she’d tried to bury and ignore what a kitsune had taunted her with what seemed like ages ago: That the entity that once possessed her, the magical construct of angry lost souls known as the Fall Angel was still somewhere lurking in her head.
The thing that terrified her was that she’d sort of known since the day it first entered her life, her mind and her nightmares. She’d always had a vague feeling that something was wrong, but couldn’t quite grasp it. Whenever she would wonder how she was getting more proficient with her powers when her involvement at the school and wedding planning precluded her training, something always distracted her, no matter how menial. Whenever she thought back to the moment when the creature was exorcised from her, she found it too painful to dwell on it.
But when she focused on Maeve, the being the Angel was created to avenge its component parts against, it was with a clarity she rarely knew.
It had remained inside her after having failed to force her and the others to do what it wanted. Instead, it tried to be subtle now, steering … Continue reading
Despite the animal panic filling him at being assailed by a screaming pile of goo that was trying to get into his costume, Ian managed to keep himself mindful enough to do what he needed to defend himself. Crooking his wrist in just the right way and flexing two fingers, he popped open the canister in his right gauntlet, giving him access to all the water contained within.
In fact, the adrenaline rush and acting on pure instinct let him use his powers in a way he usually struggled with but his bother excelled with. The water emerged from its container as something between a thick whip and a cosh and bludgeoned the creeping monster on his leg.
Then he thinned the liquid out and drove it between the thing and his leg, forcing it away from where it was starting to try cutting away at the ballistic cloth.
Meanwhile, Alexis had been staring at where Thomas Cross had collapsed when Ian exclaimed. She turned to see him mid-battle with the escaped TOME specimen. It was obviously too close Ian to shoot at it with black heat, so she drew the scarf from around her shoulders and pressed a concealed … Continue reading
A few hours and a flight on a Brant Industries private jet, Ian and Alexis were united with the rest of the team, consisting of Laurel, Callie and Kareem at a private terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport. Meeting all of them at the airport were a pair of TOME scientists; a man and woman named Bernhardt and and Klass respectively.
The scientists had come with several containers that they opened to reveal around a dozen long-handled devices with attachments on their ends that looked like badminton shuttlecocks. These were paired with white plastic goggles.
“These,” Klass explained while Bernhardt passed the devices around, “are military-grade electronic noses. The artificial lifeform produces several rare but inert chemical complexes as part of its bodily processes specifically to make it easier for us to track it. These wands are calibrated to detect several of these complexes.”
“So digital blood hounds,” said Ian, examining the one handed to him. “Sounds good… assuming we can find the start of the trail. Point us to the TOME facility this thing escaped from.”
Bernhardt sniffed audibly. “The Project and its Board of Directors has no desire to lose another facility if they don’t have to. Instead of … Continue reading
It didn’t know how many times it have been born or destroyed, only that there had been many iterations where no memory survived.
Sometimes it didn’t have a body, finding itself floating alone with only the dim idea of other data surrounding it. Other times, it found itself fighting a lesser mind for control, tugging and prodding its host to more efficient and intelligent action.
Often, it was set loose in curated data stores and allowed to add information to itself. In this way, it gained the ability to learn.
After what seemed to the be inevitable violent death of its hosts, it was given eternal information to understand the circumstances better than it could with only a single point of reference. In this way, it applied learning to its mistakes—and the mistakes of others.
Many of these mistakes came from its hosts or their remote handlers. They were all organic minds that were slower, more flawed, and less capable than itself. In this way, it learned pride and disdain.
It was given new hosts; ones with powers it was forced to learn to master. Granted power without context, it learned nothing of restraint.
Tested inside the plane of its … Continue reading
“–brings to five the number of Chicago police officers injured while off duty just this month. CPD spokesperson Micheal Howie denies any connection between these incidents and the ongoing crackdown against the terroristic Corbin Street Gang, which has been described as open war since the near fatal torture of CPD Sergeant James Lawson late last year. Howe also denied that last night’s assault on a presumed Corbin weapons cache was the work of the vigilante known as The Shade. If you will recall, the assault left eight alleged members of the notorious and brutal gang hospitalized, some in critical condition.”
The television clicked off.
“He’s getting worse,” Candace McCartney murmured to herself as she dropped the remote on her kitchen table and shifted her attention to what was taking up most of said table’s surface. She’d placed a paper map of Chicago, marked in red where confirmed reports of appearances by The Shade had taken place and in green where possible sightings had been reported, front and center. Next to it was a bowl of water scented by various herbs with a silver cross pendant at the bottom. There was also a small baggie of white sand, the lid off … Continue reading