Grinning, Alec took a cigarette from his coverall pocket and lit it,
forming a high-energy arc between his fingertips to provide the heat. He
snorted his amusement and puffed away. And people told him his power was
no good for anything! Packing away his tools, he turned and bumped into
“Oh, alright mate?” he said, a little surprised.
“What are you doing?” DJ asked, peering behind Alec into the cab of the street rover.
Alec turned and looked also. “Oh, nothing. Just making sure everything was kosher, y’know.”
DJ nodded and picked up Alec’s toolkit. “I take it it’s all five-by-five?”
“Yeah, no worries.”
DJ grinned to himself as he walked with Alec back to the lockers. “I have a question for you though.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that then?”
“How do you know they’re gonna take the street rover?”
Alec’s smile faded into nothing as he realized his error. He turned back and glanced at the dozens of vehicles, civilian and otherwise, that filled the bay.
“Oh, Uh. Just a guess, I suppose.” He dragged nervously on the cigarette, wishing he’d thought about that same thing.
DJ smiled and nodded. His relationship with Alec was difficult to describe. It wasn’t a love-hate relationship, but the two had a strange rivalry, or difference of opinion that was hard to define. They were a little like the odd couple, he supposed. Alec was a true genius, in every sense of the word, but was so excitable and absent-minded that sometimes his genius was for nothing. DJ, on the other hand, was paced, sensible and almost plodding in his work methods. One thing was for sure though, if Alec thought of something, and DJ built it, it was going to work and work extremely well. True, all the in-depth technological work would be done by Alec, but all the fabrication, assembly and maintenance was DJ’s responsibility. He would work slowly, methodically, and deliberately, knowing each action was performed perfectly. In matters where they worked separately, each would doubtless scorn the creations of the other. For instance, DJ built and maintained the Diesel Rover, but it’s sheer lack of anything high-tech infuriated Alec every time he drove it. Alec had built the Vector, and DJ hated to have anything to do with it. There were too many unnecessary science fiction like gadgets in it for his taste. Alec secretly supposed that DJ was scared to break something on it.
Alec extinguished the cigarette in a half-empty soda bottle that sat
on the breakroom table, sat down and put his feet up.
“So they’re gonna do it, are they?”
DJ nodded half-heartedly. “Yeah, I was just there and Alethia says that they are leaving today. I hope she can help him find some answers, I really do.
Alec frowned, “You know, I thought he was supposed to come here to help her, in some way?”
“So did I, man.” DJ sighed. “But if you ask me, it’s him that needs the help. Sometimes I wonder what a guy like Azelin can do for anyone. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy, but he’s spent who knows how long helping people, and he’s still this confused. I’d be for sorting myself out first.”
“He’s a good person.” Said Alec, taking out another cigarette and tapping the end on the arm of his chair. “I met him a while back, when he was here for Hunter. Didn’t see much of him though. He kinda comes and goes as he sees fit.”
“I was going to ask you about that. Can he teleport or something? He just sort of appeared behind me the other day. Scared the bejeezus out of me, I’ll tell you that much! It was like he wasn’t there, then he was there. How does he do that?” DJ tugged at a flap of rubber hanging from the sole of his boot.
“I think he can do something like that. There have only been two reports on him in any kind of combat, and I read them both myself after I first met him. He moves so quickly that he can seem to be in a lot of places at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t appear here, then appear there, but he moves quickly. The reports say he doesn’t use any firearms or anything like that, just whatever is available at the time. Sounds like he uses telekinesis to move things when he’s fighting, and I’d believe that he uses it to help himself to move too, assisting his jumps and such. I’ve never met a real teleport, and I’ve never heard about one. But I’ll warrant that he can’t do that. What I’m pretty sure he does, is..”
“Why are my ears burning?”
Alec and DJ looked to the source of the voice. Azelin stood in the doorway, flanked by Alethia. Azelin grinned slightly to himself, as if to some great inner joke. The light shone off the lenses of his sunglasses and lent him a strangely menacing demeanor for a moment. DJ and Alec exchanged confused looks.
“Oh, well, you see..” Alec began, only to be interrupted by Alethia:
“Is everything ready?”
Alec flustered for a second, then stood up, and looked briefly at DJ. “Yeah.” He said
“Yeah, everything is ready.”
DJ scratched behind one ear and looked at Alethia again. “Are you gonna take the Street Rover?” He asked.
Alethia shook her head. “No, it’s too conspicuous, we’ll have to take a regular vehicle.”
DJ shot Alec a sneaky, knowing look and then looked down, thinking.
“There’s a couple of cars that would be good for the drive.” He said, “A Crown Vic, a Monte Carlo, and couple of other cars. They’re all ready to go whenever you are.”
“Ok then.” Alethia picked up her small bag and followed DJ into the hangar. Azelin frowned at Alec for a moment, and seemed on the verge of saying something, then picked up his bag and followed Alethia.
Azelin closed the trunk of the Buick, got in the driver’s seat and started the engine. Alethia closed her door and put on her seatbelt. She reached over and put her hand on Azelin’s arm. He started a little, then looked at her. She looked concerned.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” She asked. “If you change your mind,
we won’t think anything less of you.”
“I really think it’s for the best, besides, I’m past the point of no return now. I have had so many questions and worries raised recently, I have to put this issue to bed, once and for all.” He hung his head a little and sighed. “I am so weary of this, you know? I am just so desperately tired of fighting this struggle and wondering who and what I really am.”
“That’s what this is all about. Finding answers.” Alethia consoled. “I know you think you were supposed to help me, but you weren’t, you were meant to help your own heart. Maybe this is God’s way of telling you that your wandering days are over, that it’s time to start a new life?”
Azelin looked a little dazed, then nodded. “What I wouldn’t give to
have a new life.” He started the car and put it in gear. Alethia stopped
Azelin looked blank for a moment, then fumbled for the belt. “Sorry,” He said, “It’s been a while since I’ve driven.”
Azelin pouted and nodded. “A little while.”
“Like how long?”
“Oh, I don’t know.. A year?”
Alethia looked shocked for a moment. “Maybe I’d better drive.” She said.
Most of the highways were empty or sparsely populated at best. Inside the Buick, Azelin and Alethia exchanged stories, musings, jokes and opinions. The mood of the conversation belied the fact that the trip was not likely to be a pleasant one. In his stomach, Azelin felt the stress that he was trying his best to conceal from Alethia. Her presence was a true Godsend, true, and there was no way that he would ever have tried anything like this on his own. However, he still was worried and darkly concerned about the trip. What if they should discover something disturbing about him during the trip? What if he was proven to be the dark, evil creature that he feared he might be? What would she think of him then? Azelin groaned quietly and put his seat back a little more.
“Al, what makes a person evil?” He asked.
“Hmm.” Alethia thought for a moment. “I believe a person is made evil by his or her choices. I believe you choose to give yourself over to the evil, wicked part of your nature, and that is what makes a person evil.”
“But what if you have knowingly let yourself slip into darkness from time to time? Does that make you evil, even if your intentions were for the good, ultimately?”
“Not if you do not allow the evil side of your nature to be the stronger half.” Alethia replied. “Everyone is made up of light and dark, good and evil. They are always warring within us. All of our personalities have that Jekyll and Hyde nature to them. Only when someone gives himself completely to the evil side of himself, does he become evil. Even then, the good will fight back from time to time. There are a lot of people who are good, who have given themselves to good, but still fight against their darker sides.”
Azelin pondered her words for a moment. “That makes perfect good sense to me.” He said, “I’ve not looked at it that way before. I always thought that you were born, or in my case, created, good or evil.”
“Or in my case, created” Alethia shuddered at the words.
“I can’t imagine what that must be like.” She said, quietly.
“What must be like?”
“Being created, grown instead of born.” Alethia was still quiet.
“I don’t really think about it that much.” Said Azelin. ”I do regret not having parents, and never having known a different life, but this is my life, this is my history. I know I was an experiment, but it doesn’t hurt me to think about myself that way.”
“It’s still very sad.” Alethia said. “I don’t know of any canosapiens who are like you, created as a canosapien, and not born as a dog.” She paused. “Are you a particular species of dog?”
“I’m mostly wolf.” Azlein replied “But there are markings, colors and traits of many different dogs within my genetic code. Sometimes I have these strange dreams, about living in the forests of the north, as part of a pack, hunting for food and things like that.”
Alethia looked over and studied Azelin for a moment. “Yes.” She nodded. “I can tell you’re mostly wolf. You don’t have all the markings, but the shape is there in your face. It’s kind of a shame you wear your hair long, and wear those glasses most of the time.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it hides your face, like you’re hiding behind it, trying to escape yourself.”
Azelin chewed the inside of his mouth for a minute, then took off his sunglasses, which the brightness of the sun had forced him to wear, and pulled his hair back with his hands.
“Hey.” He said, quietly.
Alethia looked over at him, taking her eyes off the road. “See? That’s a lot better!” She exclaimed. “You should cut that hair off!”
Azelin smirked a little. He couldn’t see himself cutting his hair off, not after all the time it had taken to grow out. Still, to please Alethia he reached into the unused ashtray of the Buick and pulled out a rubber band, which he used to tie back his long, off-white hair. He rubbed his eyes and smoothed out the fur on his neck.
“You dream about being a wolf?” Alethia asked.
“Yes, I’m sure that’s what they are about. Maybe it’s something stored in my genetic memory, I don’t know. It’s good to dream, especially for me. I’d love to live free like that. It seems so peaceful. Not to have to worry about things.”
“Shame that wolves are endangered, really, isn’t it?” Alethia added. Azelin only nodded.
In the silence that ensued, Azlein relaxed, listening to the steady purr of the engine and the hum of the tires on the asphalt. He closed his eyes and cleared his head. After a few minutes of silence, Alethia looked over and Azelin was asleep.
The mist swirled thickly around Azelin’s ankles, a strange, milky vapor
that boiled up from the ground beneath his feet, and sometimes seemed to
flow out of him. It stretched off in every direction, thick banks of fog
that hid so much from him. He was asleep again, yet this place was so real
to him. It was a strange, twilight place, full of mist and darkness. It
seemed to have no substantial boundaries. He could see the mist at his
ankles, but he could also see mist beneath him. He could feel firm ground
under his feet, yet there was none to see. It was the mist-place that he
had seen in his dream before. The place he had seen the ‘other’. In the
distance, the clouds of fog were lit suddenly with a yellow-green flash
light summer lightning. Azelin jumped and found himself to be floating.
Before he could panic, he became aware of the presence of another being
in this place. An unusual awareness caught hold of him, a strange omnipotence.
Almost instinctively, he reached out with his own mind, and ‘felt’ it brush
against the mind of another, for a brief moment.
“You again!” He thought.
“You again?” Mocked the Other, the strange, will-o-wisp voice echoing in Azelin’s mind. “Hardly a way to treat so beloved a friend!”
Azelin scowled. “I do not know you, but I fancy you are no friend of mine! Begone!”
“Begone? You give that command as though this place were yours to lord over!” The voice of the Other was threatening.
“I know this place! I feel it and I can control the goings-on within it!” Said Azelin with a degree of confidence. “And I feel that you do not belong here. This is my mind, I may be asleep but it is still my mind, mine to control!”
“You? Feel and control the Everspace?” The Other’s mocking laugh “Oh Ha! If you truly understood this place, you would know that it cannot be controlled.”
Azelin fumed inwardly. Who was this creature, this person that seemed to know him? And why did it treat him with such derision? He willed himself to drift forwards, towards the clouds.
“What is the Everspace?” Azelin asked, rather angrily.
Immediately the reply came back: “And you say you know this place! This is the Everspace, my friend, The one place that is everywhere!”
Azelin was confused. “How can one place be everywhere? You’re talking in riddles!”
“This place, this can be anywhere. It can be a train station in Bolivia, or it can be the most inner rooms of the pentagon! It can take you anywhere, and you can do anything here. It is everything, it is Everspace.”
Azelin listened to the words, and tracked the ‘voice’ through the clouds and fog. Again there was the distant flash of lightning. He frowned. “Sounds like someone’s imagination.”
“Picture a place, a person, and you will see what I mean.”
Azelin stopped himself and thought for a moment, he considered thinking of DJ. Before he knew it, the mist had faded into the image of the inside of a large pickup truck. Azelin started in sudden shock and the image faded.
“Ah, so you see! You can see these places, these people, through the Everspace! Mastery of this place comes easy for you. That is good, as we are to be so close.”
“Again you talk of closeness and friendship!” Azelin exclaimed, “Yet you will not show me who you are! How can I trust you or your words if I do not know you?”
There was a silence, after which: “In time.”
Azelin felt himself about to say something, when the image of the Everspace began to fade. He opened his eyes lazily. It was dark outside.
“Are you awake?” It was Alethia.
“Yes, I’m awake now.” Said Azelin dreamily “I just was dreaming about.. Where are we?”
“A couple of hundred miles north of Socorro.” Said Alethia. “I’m tired and you’ve been asleep for a few hours. Could you perhaps drive for a little while?”
They exchanged places, and Azelin drove while Alethia slept. After a number of hours of steady driving, they reached the safe house. While Alethia slept in the parked car, Azelin took her passcard from her bag and used it to open the door. He took the bags inside and returned to the car. Alethia was still asleep, so he gently picked her up and carried her inside. She was light, and the way the light from the moon shone on her face made her indescribably beautiful. For several long moments he stood there in the moonlight holding her and looking at her. A strange sadness overtook him, and he carried her inside the house, to a bedroom and laid her down on a bed to sleep. He closed the bedroom door behind himself and went back outside into the moonlight.
The safe house was a medium-sized log cabin, built in a clearing of a light evergreen forest. A very safe, out of the way place. Its western side was covered with clinging ivy, making it a very picturesque location. Azelin locked the car and sat down on a tuft of grass. He looked up at the moon and thought for a long while. He thought about his life, about the things he remembered, about the adventures he had lived. Then he thought of how his life could have been. All the things in life that he had missed out on, the simple pleasures that so many people enjoyed. It seemed unfair to Azelin that he had been created to live a life full of pain, sadness and questioning. He sighed, and held his head in his hands and cried. He cried the tears of a man who was tired of a lifetime of pain and sorrow, a man who wanted so little, after doing so much. His tears warmed his skin through the fur on his face, and as much as he wiped them away, more came.
Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. He didn’t jump, but turned to look. It was Alethia, of course. The moon lit her from behind, causing her hair and the white and yellow of her dress to glow. Azelin blinked away tears to see her more clearly.
“You are an angel.” His voice cracked.
DJ pressed the ‘seek’ button on the radio of the big Ford F-350 and waited as it tuned to another station. He listened for a moment, then turned up the volume. It was a country station. A good one, playing a familiar song. He was used to long drives, in this, his personal truck, and also in the diesel rover. The road was part of him, and driving was his life. No-one looking over his shoulder and no one to question him, he liked that. He glanced at his map for a second. He was about 3 hours away from the safe house. A good distance to be. Close enough that he could catch up to Azelin and Alethia if anything went wrong, and far enough away to be inconspicuous. Packed in Azelins bag was a small hand-held radio, which would be used to call for help if anything went wrong. DJ had a strange, gut feeling that he would be needed, but he couldn’t say exactly why. To settle him a little, he took a drink from a cup of coffee in the cup holder next to him. Coffee was a trucker’s best friend. He’d been told that cigarettes were too, but DJ tended to leave the smoking to Alec. God knew he did enough of that!
Alec flipped on the autodrive on the Vector and put his hands behind
his head, letting the car’s computer take over all the driving. Through
the heads-up display projected onto the windshield of the Vector, Alec
could see the heat signature of DJ’s truck, a few miles ahead of him. Alec
was running the Vector in stealth mode. All the lights were off, and the
noise suppression system was keeping the car absolutely silent to anyone
who might be standing by the road. The glass of the windshield was black
outside, but inside he could configure it to display either a nightvision,
infrared, or thermal image of the road ahead. With the lights off, Alec
found it best to use the thermal imaging. He pulled a cigarette from behind
his ear and lit it. Alec hated long, boring drives like this. But in this
case, he was willing to make an exception. Something told him that there
was trouble ahead, and he didn’t want DJ to have to face it alone. He would
surely need help if something went wrong. Now that his plan to install
a tracking device in Alethia’s car had backfired, he had been forced to
“Computer?” Alec asked out loud.
“Yes Alec?” replied a female voice.
“Do me a favor. Keep following the target vehicle and let me know if he stops or anything, ok?”
“Sure.” Came the un-computer-like reply.
“You can handle that?” Asked Alec.
“Alec, I’ve flown this vehicle through air traffic control at JFK in New York and Gatwick in London, I think I can handle following a Ford, don’t you?” Alec snorted in amusement and shrugged.
“I guess so, Just wake me up if anything exciting happens.”
With that, Alec put out his cigarette, shut his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Gravel crunched under the tires of the big Ford as DJ slowed his truck to a halt on the road leading to the safe house. He pulled off the road (or what passed as a road) and drove a little way into the woods, to keep the truck out of view, should anyone come down the road. He shut off the engine, climbed from the cab, stretching his legs a little, then took a bundle of camo netting from the bed of the truck and set about pulling the net over the truck to hide it. He would camp here for the night, then continue to follow Azelin and Alethia when they left the next day. After the netting was in place, DJ followed the road up to the safe house. The house was still and silent, and placing his hand on the hood of the Buick, he noted that the engine was cold. They’d been here for a while, apparently. He did a quick recon of the area, walking around the house and grounds. Once satisfied, he walked the road back to where the truck was parked.
“Wake up Alec, we’re at grandma’s”
Alec opened one eye and sat up. “What?” He opened his other eye and looked around the inside of the Vector. It was slowing to a halt near a turn-off at the edge of a gravel road.
“I said wake up.” Said the computer again. “You told me to wake you up when DJ stopped his truck. He pulled off down that road there a while ago.”
“How far down the road is he?” Asked Alec.
“Eight point three kilometers.” Came the reply.
“Why didn’t you follow him?”
“Alec, I’m a sports car, not a Jeep. I can’t go off road. I don’t want to bottom out on some rut and get stuck. I’d look like a right idiot.”
“Ok, ok, launch a drone and get me a map of the terrain ahead.” Alec said, tiredly.
“I’m a step ahead of you.” Replied the computer. “According to the feedback from the drone, there’s a spot on top of a hill seven clicks from here, you can park there and do a recce of the area.” The view on the heads-up display changed to show a three-dimensional computer generated map, with a red dot indicating a raised clearing.
“Ok, switch to flight mode and give me manual” Alec pulled his seat to the upright position and took hold of the control column that rose up from under the drivers seat. The steering wheel of the Vector shrank in on its-self and retracted towards the dash. Outside, the Vector took flight, the wheels angling themselves downward as the anti-gravity system activated. Alec pointed the Vector in the direction the computer had shown, and pulled back on the throttle. Instantly pinned back in his seat by the acceleration, Alec grinned.
“I love this car.” He mused.
“Unfortunately that feeling is not mutual.” Came the computer’s reply.
As DJ unrolled his sleeping bag in the bed of the Truck, he fancied he saw a dark blur fly overhead, distorted by the trees. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, arranged the camo net so he could look through a small gap in it, climbed into the sleeping bag and drifted off to sleep.
A short time later, Alec stood next to the truck and peered down at
DJ, fast asleep in the bed, under the camo netting. Alec grinned and shook
“Amateur.” He chided quietly, switching on the camelioline of his armor and silently walking back to the clearing where he had landed the Vector. Alec’s outline became blurred as the material of his armor took on the approximate color of the woods, and he vanished into the darkness of the trees.
DJ opened one eye and smirked as Alec ghosted away into the forest.
“Punk.” He thought, and went back to sleep.
The sun shone in through the window and into Azelin’s face. For some reason it irritated him, made him itchy. He blinked awake, looked around the room and then shut the drapes over the window. Alethia was still asleep. Azelin scratched his head and pulled the sheets back over his bed. He then turned and pulled the corner of Alethias blanket over one of her feet, which was sticking out from under it. Making his way downstairs to the kitchen, he checked out of all the windows to be sure nothing was amiss outside. Finding nothing, he opened the refrigerator and looked inside. Azelin grinned and set to work.
Alethia squinted in the dimness of the room. She looked over at Azelin.
He was sitting on the edge of his bed, smiling at her. She sat up and frowned,
“I made you breakfast.” Azelin grinned. Alethia looked over at the bedside table between the two beds. Sure enough, Azelin had cooked breakfast. She looked at him wide-eyed.
“You can cook?”
Azelin almost looked hurt. “Of course I can cook! I may be a military-trained mutant animal with powerful psychic abilities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t cook bacon and eggs!”
“Looks like you can cook more than just bacon and eggs!” Alethia wondered, lifting the first of the trays onto her lap. “You really shouldn’t have! This smells great!” She started eating.
“I thought it was the least I could do.” Azelin shrugged. “The conversation we had outside last night really helped me clear up a lot of things.”
“Oh?” said Alethia between mouthfuls.
“Yes, I look at it this way now, so what if I’ve done bad things in my past. That’s not for certain, but if it turns out that I did do those things, I’m a different person now, I can put that behind me and know that I’ve started a new life.”
“Well, I’m glad your mind is at rest now.” Alethia smiled.
“You won’t think less of me if it turns out that I did anything.. Unsavory in my past, will you?” Azelin asked.
Alethia shook her head, sending her snow-white hair flying. “Of course not, that’s not the Azelin I know. I know a different one. I know one who is caring, kind, emotional, loving, one who cooks me breakfast in the morning.” She smiled. “Are you still going to the place today?”
Azelin nodded. “I thought we’d leave once you were ready. I’m going to take a shower. You finish your breakfast and I’ll do the dishes while you get yourself ready.”
“Ooh! You do dishes too? You’re a keeper!” Alethia joked. Azelin blushed and walked into the bathroom.
A short while later, Azelin put his bag into the Buick and waited for
Alethia to come out of the safe house. He started the car and shortly she
came and got in. As the Buick crunched its way up the road, Azelin asked:
“You sure you’re not coming in with me?”
“I don’t know. I’ll think about that when we get there.” Alethia looked down.
“Please don’t come if you feel you don’t want to.” Azelin said. “I mean, if there’s any doubt at all, please don’t go.”
As they talked, neither of them noticed the large, camo-net covered truck sitting off to the side of the road. DJ saw the Buick drive past though, and waited until it had passed, then uncovered the truck and started after them. Neither Azelin, Alethia nor DJ noticed the small, disk-like shape that hovered close to a tree at the side of the road. After the vehicles had passed, it sped silently away.
Alec watched the video feed from the drone. Unimpressed, he waited for the drone to return to the Vector, started the engines, and took off, keeping the car at an altitude of 500 feet, about a mile behind DJ’s truck.
The impromptu convoy drove for about two hours before the Buick stopped at the edge of the road. A safe distance behind them, DJ stopped his truck, set his radio on the seat next to him, and waited. High above him, Alec set the flight controls on the Vector to ‘hover’, tuned in to the frequency coming from the radio in DJs truck, lit a cigarette and waited.
Alethia waited in the drivers seat of the car, reading a book about cats, as Azelin made his way through the woods to the collapsing perimeter fence of what was once Perris Park. As he approached the fence, he noticed a vertical cut in the chain-link, the resulting flaps had been pulled aside and secured with metal hooks, forming a three-foot tall triangle. A typical military style opening. Azelin shuddered, as, in black and white, he remembered cutting similar openings. He crawled through the opening and continued walking to the gray, run-down shadows of buildings. They loomed ahead of him, gaunt and daunting. There were a few depressions in the ground, shallow yet out of place. Blast marks from fragmentation grenades, he rightly assumed. He remembered kneeling next to one such crater during the attack, it was filled with water at the time, and he remembered seeing his reflection in it.
Azelin stopped for a moment and sat on a tree stump. He cleared his head, then allowed all his memories from this place to come to mind. Being a mentalist, Azelin had a very good memory, almost photographic. He stood again and headed towards the main forecourt of the institute. The flagpole was rusty and faded, a silent gray sentinel, keeping guard over this place that had become the graveyard for so many innocents. Knowing the way, Azelin headed towards the main doors of the building complex, looking at the ground as he went. Here and there were still empty cases from pistol rounds. He picked one up and continued walking. He stopped and remembered the doors. By now they would be rusted, hanging off their hinges. Azelin dropped the spent case and then looked up at the doors.
But saw nothing but a pockmarked concrete wall.
He turned his head this way and that. Where were the doors? The wall
continued in both directions. He followed the wall left, expecting to see
the doors any second. Still he saw nothing. Nothing but the gray concrete
wall, marked by bullet holes and grenade blasts.
He turned around and looked for a door, saw one and staggered across the forecourt towards it, his head reeling. A pair of shattered glass doors lay in pieces in the north wall, and Azelin toed the shards on the floor. Several long, razor sharp fragments of tempered glass from the doors lay on the cobbles of the forecourt, while the majority of the glass was inside the reception lobby of the building. Azelin frowned and thought back about the doors. They had been metal doors with simple, safety-glass windows, surely? Also, since when had the institute had a hotel-style lobby? He thought back. Inside the doors had been a security desk in a gray-marbled waiting area. He looked around him at the rotting red-pile carpet and mildewed chairs. It wasn’t like this? He collapsed into one of the chairs and concentrated, thought until it hurt about the way that the place had looked. He remembered how the forecourt had looked, with the lights above the walls shining down on the flowerbeds. He remembered how the Perissians had barricaded themselves behind the doors of the main entrance, the lobby. He remembered seeing grenades tossed at those doors, seeing them buckle inwards from the force of the blast. He remembered the withering crossfire from the windows surrounding the forecourt. He remembered hearing the thud of mortar rounds exploding as the rest of the teams stormed the military and scientific areas of the institute. He remembered the light of the fires, the screams of the wounded and dying, the mixed stink of cordite and burning fur and flesh. He remembered it all.
But he did not know this place.
This was.. This was a tourist attraction to him, it was like visiting the beaches at Normandy in France. All he was doing was visiting a battleground. He had as much to do with this place as he did with Gettysburg or Dunkirk. He stood, staggered to the doorway and looked out into the gloomy, gray courtyard. The gray, silence of this place echoed in his mind as he looked out at the flat, dank courtyard. This was a strange place to him. The ghosts here held no malice towards him. He was not the one that had sent them screaming into the arms of death. He sank to his knees, then threw back his head and howled a single, one-syllable word.
And the word was:
Azelin collapsed to his hands and knees and panted. Tears of agony and
joy coursed down his cheeks as he regained his breath. He climbed almost
painfully to his feet and looked once again out into the courtyard. He
wiped his eyes and stepped out of the doorway. As he made his way across
the yard, he noticed a figure standing near the west wall of the forecourt.
Azelin reached into his backpack and took out the radio DJ had given him.
“DJ, that you?” He asked, happily.
As if in reply the figure’s hand moved, and a red energy blast shot across the courtyard, missing Azelin by inches as he twisted aside! Azelin spun on his heel and bolted for the door as more blasts came by him, he dove inside the reception area, sending DJ’s radio skittering across the floor, he scrambled after it, but was driven behind the wall for cover as more blasts came. Azelin poked his head out to see three figures, a human and two canomutants, running across the courtyard.
“He’s in the lobby! Hold your fire until you’re sure of a clean shot!”
The human was yelling.
Azelin jumped behind an overturned couch, and looked franticly for the radio. It was nowhere to be seen! His heart pounded in his chest as Azelin sank behind the couch and quickly considered his options. He looked across the floor, out of the doorway towards the attackers, then back to the remains of the doors.
The three entered, covering the room with their weapons as they did so. The two canomutants, a Labrador and a spaniel, sniffed carefully.
“He’s close.” Growled one of the pair.
As he spoke, Azelin stood carefully from behind the couch, faced the attackers and raised his hands, palms upwards. The long, jagged shards of glass on the floor of the lobby rose up as he did so, hovering at chest height. Azelin brought his hands inwards and then flung his hands towards the dumbfounded trio. The glass shrapnel shot towards the three, propelled towards the group by the telekinetic force! One of the three was pierced in the upper chest by a long sliver, and another caught two daggers of glass in his arm as he raised it to protect himself. The human threw himself to the side, avoiding the glass shower by a fraction of an inch. Before they could react, Azelin leapt into the air and almost flew over the reception desk, then ran off at an incredible speed through some swinging doors into a long hallway. Azelin reached the end of the hallway and turned, looking back towards the door. Through the glass, he could see the two remaining attackers. As they reached the door, Azelin pointed at it with two fingers, slamming it shut in their faces with another telekinetic field. It would hold, for a short while
A few minutes earlier..
“DJ, is that you?”
DJ scrambled to pick up the radio, and listened. Silence. He thumbed the ‘send’ button. “Az? You there?”
Again, nothing. DJ scowled and looked at the radio. He knew Alec was listening, so..
“Alec, I know you’re on this frequency, did you hear that?”
There was a silence that lasted for about a minute, then:
“How did you know I was here?”
“Forget that, did you hear that just now over this channel?”
“I heard something, but I’m not sure what. My reception isn’t good.” Alec answered.
“I think Azelin just called.”
“If he needed you, he’ll call back.” Alec sat back in his seat and waited. DJ put the radio down again and cursed.
Azelin peeked out of the broken glass of the window of the room he was in, and scanned the grounds. Nothing. He carefully broke out the remaining glass and climbed outside. Looking about, he decided he was a few hundred yards west of the courtyard. Sticking close to the walls of the building, he made his way back there. He crossed the entrance to the courtyard at a run, and then loped across the wet field to the woods and then to the road where the Buick waited.
Alethia gave a start as Azelin jumped into the Buick.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, afraid.
Azelin looked at her, scared, and said:
The engine in the Buick screamed in protestation as Alethia floored the accelerator and the Buick pulled away in a cloud of exhaust gasses and tire smoke. She drove straight ahead, and didn’t turn around to retrace their route. Azelin had his head down, but looked up every so often to see if there were any vehicles in pursuit. Neither of them said a word until several miles had passed. It was Azelin who broke the silence.
“Ok, drive normally now.” Azelin adjusted his seat and exhaled.
“Now will you please tell me what the hell happened back there? Who was chasing you?”
Azelin shrugged. “I don’t know. I was almost done looking around, and some goons showed up and started shooting at me. I got out of there and ran back to the car.”
“Goons?!” Alethia shouted, “What do you mean? Humans? Canosapiens? Canomutants? Who was it? Parvo? Storm? Dogstar?” He voice held true fear.
“A human and two canomutants. I don’t know who they work for. Didn’t seem like Parvo, and I know they weren’t Dogstar. But they seemed to know me, that’s for sure.”
Azelin slapped his pockets “Damn! I lost the radio!” Alethia didn’t
seem to hear.
“How do we get back to the safe house?” She asked.
Azelin took a map from his backpack and studied it for a few minutes. He told Alethia the route to take, and then put his seat back. His heart was still racing, and he felt sick.
“I have such a headache.” He whined.
“No.” Azelin said, “It always happens when I use my talent.”
Alethia looked puzzled. “Your talent? You mean you have a power of some kind?”
Azelin rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t think of it as a power, I think of it as a talent.” He started rooting through his backpack for some aspirin.
“DJ said you do something with memories, is that right?”
Azelin swallowed a handful of pills and groaned a little. “Yes, but
that’s not all I do. I’m a telekinetic, and I do some other things.”
Alethia nodded in understanding. Most Rovers don’t talk about their powers. I think it’s a privacy issue. So you’re telekinetic? You can move things with your mind?”
“Yes.” Alethia felt a strange kind of tension in Azelin as he answered. It reminded her of the way he had been when they had met, a few days ago. So cold, one-worded. She changed the subject.
“Did you find anything about Perris that brings back any memories?”
“Nothing? What does that mean?”
Alethia looked over at Azelin where he lay with the seat reclined. He peered at her as though he was looking over the top of his glasses, then smiled wanly.
“It means I don’t know who you are.”
Alec frowned and looked at his heads up display as the Buick drove wildly
away from it’s parking spot at the edge of the road. He flicked on the
radio link to DJ.
“Deej, did you catch that?”
There was a moments silence, then: “Catch what? What’s happening?”
Alec brought up an image of the area of Perris park on his display, and zoomed in on the courtyard area. “Azelin just legged it back to the car and took off in a hurry. I wasn’t watching what was going on at the time, but I’ve got a bad feeling about it. I’m looking at the courtyard area, but I can’t see any activity. I’m too high up to use thermal or anything, so I don’t know if there’s anyone inside.”
“Where are you now?” DJ’s voice crackled over the radio.
“About five hundred feet about your head.”
“Why don’t you land that contrivance of yours and we’ll see what’s going on in there?”
Alec said nothing, but switched off the autopilot and began to bring
the Vector to the ground.
“Hey, as soon as we get in range, see if you can scan that area for any life signs.” Said Alec to the Computer.
“I’m one step ahead of you.” The Computer replied. “There doesn’t seem to be anything on the surface, life-sign wise, but there is a military Humvee concealed in the trees about a mile away. I’ll try scanning the interior of the facility.”
Alec looked over at the display, where a red circle marked the position of the Humvee. Alec switched on the radio again.
“DJ, it looks like we’re not the only ones keeping an eye on those two.”
DJ was waiting when the Vector touched down a few seconds later. As
the door opened and Alec got out, DJ got straight to the point.
“Show me what you’ve got.”
Alec showed DJ the images of the area, the Humvee and a map of the area. “I couldn’t get any readings of the inside of the buildings, but we can go to this point here and watch for someone to go back to that Humvee.” Alec stabbed the display with a finger.
“Ok, suppose we do that? Now what if they drive past this point? You don’t think that this vehicle of yours looks a little out of place here? They’re bound to think something is up if they see this thing sitting along the side of the road.”
Alec closed the door and looked at DJ, irritated.
“It’s not going to be here.”
Alec began walking away, and the Vector took flight again and accelerated away from the two. DJ caught up with Alec in a moment.
“Any ideas about who could own the Hummer?”
“Not a clue. Could be Parvo. He uses military-issue crap like that. Still, I guess we’ll know in a little while.”
They walked away from the road, into the trees and underbrush, towards
the perimeter fence of Perris park. The morning dampness was beginning
to lift, steamed away by the sun. DJ and Alec picked their way along the
fence line, through brush, water and thorns, until Alec stopped. He motioned
that DJ should get down, and they crouched next to the bole of a huge old
tree. Alec reached into a pouch on his web belt and took out a small monocular.
He raised it to his eye and studied the surrounding area. DJ strained his
eyes, looking where Alec looked, but couldn’t really see anything. After
a few minutes, Alec put the monocular away and turned to DJ.
“Ok, the Humvee is still there, and the engine is still warm. I can’t find any trace of the owner though. We’ll just wait here and see what happens.” Alec laid down on his front, propped himself up on his elbows, and waited, watching the area intently. DJ didn’t say anything, but took up a position next to Alec.
“So, why did you follow them?” He asked
Alec didn’t move. “I thought you might need some help. Had a feeling that something was going to go wrong.”
“Well, I guess you were right, huh?” DJ took out his knife and began to clean the dirt from underneath his fingernails. Alec still didn’t move, but continued the conversation in a hushed tone.
“This whole thing seemed suspect to me. I mean, I know he was doing it with the best of intentions, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea.”
“I guess I have a pretty unique perspective, being as though I know exactly what he’s been through.” Said DJ, emphasizing the word ‘exactly’. “I know how bad he feels inside, and how much he wants to put things right, and I’m sure I know how badly he wants to know the truth about his life. Imagine it, that you spend your life looking for someone, and when you finally meet them, they tell you that your whole life is a lie, and that your history is nothing like you thought it was.”
“Yeah, that could really mess a guy up. Don’t get me wrong DJ, I know why he’s doing this, but I could just feel that something wasn’t going to work out with it, you know?”
DJ nodded and stared ahead strangely.
“Don’t be surprised. You are a dog, after all.”
Alec was about to inquire as to what DJ meant, when he heard the low rumble of diesel engines. They turned to look in the direction that the noises were coming from, and after a moment, a small convoy of camouflage-painted military vehicles came into view. It was about a hundred yards away, in the forest, along a crude trail. The vehicles drove out from the wooded area, and into the clearing that DJ and Alec were watching. A dozen armed soldiers, human and canomutant, climbed out of a personnel truck at the rear of the convoy, and began to establish a perimeter.
DJ and Alec looked at one another, then slipped away into the undergrowth.
When they were a safe distance away, Alec stopped and put on a small
“Hey, did you find anything in the building?” He asked in a hushed tone.
DJ looked on, puzzled for a moment before he realized that Alec was talking to the computer in his car. He shook his head. He’d heard of talking to one’s vehicle before, but most of the time when he did that, he was cursing at a stuck nut, or an engine that wouldn’t run properly.
“I see.” Alec said, nodding. “Ok, stand by.”
Alec turned to DJ, with a concerned look on his face. “No clues as to who our friends are. Az and Al are out of range now, but it looked like they were heading back to the safe house. I’d not worry about them, but I’m thinking we should do a little reconnaissance on our visitors. Let’s keep tabs on them. When they head out, we’ll track them, and maybe we can find a base camp of some kind. That ought to give some answers, don’t you think?”
DJ nodded. “Yeah, have your computer keep a trace on the vehicles we just saw. We’ll go back to the truck and withdraw a little ways. Once they’ve stopped, we’ll see if we can find someone to get some answers from. I take it you don’t mind doing a little black op?”
Alec grinned strangely, and relayed the instructions to the Vector.
They withdrew to the safety of DJ’s truck, and then drove a safe distance
away from the area. Alec busied himself by making some notes on a small
computer attached to the right forearm of his body armor as DJ drove. To
DJ he seemed fidgety. It was either nicotine withdrawal, or nerves, DJ
decided. Alec twiddled his fingers and watched DJ drive for a while, then
“Don’t you ever get tired of that?”
“Shifting gears. You’re always having to shift. Don’t you get tired of it?” Alec asked.
DJ thought for a moment. Driving the Diesel Rover required a lot more shifting than his personal truck He was so used to it he didn’t notice anymore. “No, not really, I’m used to it.”
“Have you ever thought about having a shiftless transmission put in this?”
“You mean an auto-mistake?” said DJ, using a derogatory term for an automatic transmission.
“No, I mean a tranny with no gears to crunch.”
“No. I like driving this way.” DJ seemed offended. “I know they played about with the idea of a gear-less tranny back in the sixties, but they were abandoned as a complete waste of time.” There was a silence for a moment, then DJ finally asked: “Why?”
“I just designed one.”
“What?” DJ was puzzled.
“I just designed one back then when I was watching you drive. It might take a little fudging to get it to go in this truck, but I can make it work. If you want, I could build it in, what? Half a day?” Alec seemed sincere.
“You just designed a transmission in your head?” DJ’s voice echoed with incredulity.
“Yeah. I might need to change a few things depending on the amount of torque you want at your duals back there, but I’ll build it if it’ll get used.”
“You just designed a transmission, in your HEAD?” DJ repeated his question.
Alec nodded and went back to twiddling his fingers. DJ’s mind boggled as he struggled to reason how a person could design such a complex mechanism in a matter of minutes. It was inconceivable! He looked at Alec, who was now staring out of the window of the truck. Was he the genius he seemed to be, or was he showboating? DJ spent the rest of the drive pondering that question.
As soon as DJ parked the truck, Alec jumped out and lit a cigarette. DJ climbed out of the cab and dropped the tailgate. He sat on the gate and watched Alec smoke.
“Why do you smoke?” He asked, innocently.
“Because I’m addicted.” Said Alec, taking another drag.
“Aren’t you worried about getting cancer or something?” DJ cocked his head to the side. Alec looked at the cigarette butt, and then shook his head.
“No.” He grinned. “Hey, you, you want to know a secret?” DJ nodded, interested.
“Every time you go through the transdogmafier, the process resets your physical profile to match an original blueprint. Because of that, Road Rovers age very slowly, and are immune to a lot of illnesses. You could grow a tumor in the canosapien form, and when you went through the transdogmafier, and you go back to being a regular dog, the machine scans you. Then, the next time you go from being a dog, to being a canosapien, the computer in the transdogmafier will rebuild your canosapien body according to an original blueprint, altered by the scans taken when you last went through it. Because of that, the tumor you had the last time you were a canosapien, would be gone. The computer would filter it out.”
DJ’s eyes bugged. “Are you serious?” He asked, incredulous.
“As cancer.” Alec grinned.
“How do you know?”
“I read the Masters notes on the machine.” Alec was nonchalant. He stubbed the butt out on the sole of his boot, then took off his coat, armor and web belt, and began to prepare his equipment for the mission to come.
“When? How did you get access to something as secret as that?”
Alec didn’t look up.
“I can’t tell you all my secrets, mate.”
Azelin climbed cautiously from the Buick and motioned that
Alethia stay in her seat. He quickly scouted the area around the safe house,
and both floors, then motioned she should come in. They quickly gathered
their belongings, and then left. Once they were on the road again, Azelin
“I’m sorry things turned out so bad, Al.”
Alethia shook her head, sending her gleaming white hair flying. “It’s ok. We’re safe, and you found out some important information.”
Azelin looked down. “Yes, I did, didn’t I.”
Alethia pressed him. “So, how do you know you were not at Perris? What made you realize that?”
Azelin ran his hands through his hair, forcing it back. He re-tied his ponytail and exhaled, not quite sighing. “Well, it didn’t look like I remember. I have an almost photographic memory, and I know now that the place I was just at, is not where I remember being. There was something else too, somehow I wasn’t scared of the place. I thought, after what I think I did, I would be terrified to go back to that place, because of the violent memories, but that place wasn’t terrifying to me.”
Azelin saw Alethia smile. He had noticed how her eyes lit up when she smiled. It was absolutely beautiful. He smiled to himself.
“I’m glad that some of the answers are coming out. Now, maybe you’ll believe me when I tell you that you weren’t there?” She smiled again.
Azelin just smiled and nodded. Alethia continued: “As you were not at Perris, you need to find out where the memories you have, came from. Maybe they are memories from a different place, a different time, but I doubt it. I know you’re not the killer that your mind would have you believe you are.”
Azelin bit the inside of his mouth. It was still a source of concern for him. He changed the subject. “So what do you suppose those guys wanted?”
Alethia noticed the subject change, but said nothing about it. “I don’t know.” She said. “I’ve been attacked a lot on missions, and it’s not always by groups that we know. This could be a new group, or it could be that we were seen somewhere along the way, and whoever saw us, tipped off an enemy of ours. With a description of the car, I doubt we’d be that hard to find.”
After a time, they traded places and Azelin drove. Alethia slept, and Azelin allowed himself to reflect on the development. For one reason or another, his memories of what he had always assumed to be Perris Park were false. They were memories of a similar place, apparently. Or were they memories at all? If they were real, then he had to search out the place that he remembered, and discover the truth. But if they weren’t real, then where had they come from? How many of his other memories were false, if that was the case? The realization slowly dawned on Azelin as the miles sped by. The knowledge that he had not been at Perris solved nothing. He still did not know if the things he knew to be real, were real or not. The step forward, had really been a step back. He laughed, but there was no joy or humor in it. Also, what was he to make of his dream about the strange, otherworldly ‘Everspace’? At first, he had passed it off as a strange dream, but as the ‘other’, the voice in the dream, had been in another dream, the memory of it played on his mind. It has seemed so real, but what did it mean? He remembered the misty, gray-clouded surroundings. It was almost like being in the middle of a cloud at night. The voice, taunting him, but at the same time, teaching him. Was it part of his mind that was trying to tell him something? One thing could not be denied now. Something felt very wrong. Not only with the dream, but also with the world as a whole. It reminded Azelin of the feeling he got when he thought he was being watched. No matter how much he looked around, and even though he saw that everything was as it should be, there was still the feeling that something was wrong. He couldn’t put his finger on the trouble, but he knew it was there. Like trying to remember a word, every time he thought he remembered it, it would slip away, mockingly.
“Azelin! Watch out!!” Alethia’s voice snapped Azelin awake. He saw the
edge of the road rapidly approaching, and swerved away. The Buick fishtailed
as Azelin fought for control, and soon steadied. Azelin stopped the car,
and shook his head in shock.
“What on earth happened? Did you fall asleep?” Alethia’s voice was angry, and slightly panicked. She stared at Azelin, who squinted, and shook his head again.
“I-I don’t know. I don’t think so. I was just thinking, and, maybe I did.” Azelin felt embarrassed, and a little scared after the close call.
Alethia unfastened her seatbelt and got out. She walked to the driver’s side door and opened it. “You’d better let me drive. I’ll find a motel or something and we’ll stay there for the night. I’m too tired to drive a long way, and you’re obviously in no condition to drive, after taking all those painkillers earlier.”
Azelin felt like a chided child. Begrudgingly, he unfastened
his seatbelt and moved to the passenger’s seat. Alethia put the car in
gear and pulled away. Azelin felt himself shrinking down into the seat
in humiliation. Under his fur, he was flushed and blushing. Alethia looked
over at Azelin, who looked like he was about to be swallowed by the seat.
“What’s the matter?” She asked.
“Nothing.” Azelin kept his head down.
“Yes there is, now what is the matter?” Azelin could tell that Alethia’s patience was being tested, so he came clean.
“I’m embarrassed. I just nearly got us into a wreck, and I feel like a damned idiot because of it. You probably think I’m useless because I can’t seem to even drive a car.”
Alethia looked shocked. “I don’t think that at all! You got drowsy, it happens to everyone! I can understand you feeling embarrassed, but don’t try and put words into my mouth!”
Azelin sat up in the seat, but hung his head. “I’m sorry.” He whispered. “I wasn’t trying to put words into your head.”
“Please don’t do that, Azelin. I hate that more than anything.” Alethia said, shaking her head. “Now, I’m not mad at you, and I don’t think you’re an idiot. A little thing like that is not going to ruin my opinion of you, believe me.
The clerk looked hard at Azelin, scrutinizing him. It wasn’t a suspicious
look, but it served to make Azelin feel uncomfortable. He was a short,
slightly overweight man, with a shock of black, greasy hair that hung down
almost into his eyes. The clerk scratched behind his ear and pulled a wry
“Ok” He said, taking the registration form from the counter and filing it neatly away in a pile of others. “You’re all set. Room 303, take a left out of the office here, and go all the way down to the end of the building, up the staircase to the third floor, and it’ll be the third room down. There’s no one else in that area, so I don’t think you’ll have any trouble.” He handed Azelin a set of keys and started to turn away, then turned back.
“You’re a Road Rover, aren’t you? I’ve heard about you on TV. I mean, I’d heard about your type. You’re good guys.”
Azelin stared at the clerk through the dark of his sunglasses, and then spoke.
“Yes, we are the good guys.”
The room was Spartan, with only two beds, a small dresser and a table
and chair in the main room. On the counter in the bathroom, there was a
coffee maker, some mugs, and the ingredients for coffee. The décor
of the room was all done in a faded blue color, with gray carpets and blue
sheets on the beds.
“Home sweet home.” Said Alethia with a touch of sarcasm as the entered the room, and Azelin set their bags in a corner. Azelin said nothing, but looked around the room and then flopped back on one of the beds.
“Did the counter guy give you a hard time?” Asked Alethia, taking off her jacket and hanging in on the back of the door.
“No, not really.” Azelin answered. “He seemed a little weirded out though. I guess he doesn’t get too many Canosapiens coming through.”
Alethia nodded, understanding. “We’re still treated as second-class citizens in a lot of places. It’s sad.”
“It’s in their nature to hate anything that is different from them. Look at how they treat others like them with different skin colors.”
Alethia sat down on the other bed. “I know” she sighed. “Are you still tired?”
Azelin sat up and wriggled out of his overcoat. “No, not really.” He got up and tossed the coat to one side, then went to the bathroom counter.
“Do you want a drink?”
Alethia nodded. “Yes please, if you don’t mind.”
Azelin filled two of the mugs with water and handed one to Alethia, before taking a seat on his bed. He drank deeply, and then sighed a little. Alethia sensed something was troubling him. She cocked her head to one side and looked at him.
“Are you alright?”
“I feel alright, but I can’t help but think that what happened today solved nothing. I mean, I know that I wasn’t at Perris Park, but I don’t know where I was, and I don’t know why I remember the things I remember. I’m back at square one. Only now, I have these military types to worry about. I don’t even know who they are or what they want.”
Alethia looked down at her mug, sadly.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to upset you.” Azelin mumbled.
“It’s not that, I just feel so sad for you. This is going to be a problem for you right up until the moment it is resolved. I just wish I could help you more than I am helping you now.” She put the mug down on the table between the beds, and let out a little sigh. Azelin felt the situation was rapidly devolving into misery, so he changed the subject.
“You wanted to know what I can do?” Alethia looked up.
“As long as you don’t feel uncomfortable talking about it.” Alethia shifted her weight on the bed and leaned forward a little. Azelin finished his water, stretched out his hand flat, with the palm up. He placed the mug on his palm.
“Take the mug from me.”
Alethia looked sideways at him, then smirked a little, expecting to see something unusual. Her hand crept closer to the mug, but Azelin never took his eyes off of hers. Alethia’s fingers brushed the ceramic of the mug. Suddenly, the mug leapt into the air, and hovered, spinning in place, at Alethia’s eye level.
“Wow!” Said Alethia, after a few moments silence. “You’re doing that with your mind?”
Azelin nodded slowly. Alethia was still mesmerized by the spinning mug. She reached up cautiously and plucked the mug out of the air. It offered no resistance. It was just as though she had picked it up from the table. Azelin was smiling his razor-thin smile.
“So what else can you do? How much can you move?” Alethia was asking.
“I don’t know. When it comes time to do something, I just know in my heart if I can do it or not.” Azelin rubbed the back of his head.
“Do you use it to attack if you’re in a fight? I imagine it could be useful, being able to do things like that.”
“Yes, I do. It is somatic telekinesis. I have to use my hands, or a motion with my hands, to make it work. I can’t just stare at the cup and move it, I have to touch it, and keep my hand under it to move it. Despite the somatic portion of it, it’s still quite useful. I will use it to throw things at attackers, help me put more power behind an attack, or help me jump. I can propel all sorts of things telekinetically. I don’t use it to kill though. I don’t do that.” He paused. “Anymore.”
“That really is incredible.” Alethia said, putting down the mug. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” She was genuinely fascinated. “You do things with memories, too don’t you?”
“Azelin nodded.” I can.. Show people things.”
Alethia sensed the hardship in his voice, and left it at that. “You’re an incredible person, Azelin. You are fascinating. You have a good soul, and you’re in a lot of pain because of your past. I want to help you discover the truth.” She reached out and took his hand. Azelin felt the coolness of her touch, and smiled. Alethia looked deep into his eyes as he relaxed. Then she saw him frown.
“What is it?” She asked.
Azelin looked past her, at the door.
The door split in half, rammed in by two soldiers carrying a steel battering
ram. Alethia threw herself onto the floor as two of the soldiers rushed
into the room, pointing sub-machine guns at Azelin.
“Get your hands up!”
From her vantagepoint on the floor, Alethia saw Azelin slowly lift his hands above his head. As the soldiers approached him, she rolled under the bed and out the other side, so she was by the far wall. One soldier kept his weapon trained on Azelin, as the other reached into a pouch on his web gear and took out a handful of zip ties. He stood with his back to Alethia, let his weapon hang by his side, and began to cuff Azelin with the zip ties.
Alethia leapt up from behind the bed, and rabbit-punched the closest soldier in the back of the neck. He went limp immediately, and before the other soldier could react, Alethia had leapt across the bed, and kicked him in the stomach. As he fell, he let off a single shot that punched uselessly into the ceiling. Azelin jumped to the doorway, and caught the barrel of the next soldier as he entered the room. He forced the muzzle of the weapon down with one hand, and used the heel of his other hand to smash the soldiers nose. He made a strange gurgling noise, and slumped to the ground. Azelin pressed himself to the doorframe, and glanced over at Alethia, who stood next to him, ready to spring.
The muzzle of another SMG came cautiously through the doorway. Azelin watched it. Then, he reached out, snatched the weapon up, and pulled the owner of the weapon into the room. Azelin released his hold on the muzzle of the SMG just as the soldier tried to yank the gun out of his grip. This served to throw the soldier off balance. He spun around, and as he righted himself, Azelin sidestepped and kicked the man in the back hard enough to shove him through the plasterboard of the wall, and into the neighboring room.
“Come on.” Said Azelin, quietly. He snatched up an SMG from one of the
unconscious soldiers, and poked his head out of the doorway, just long
enough to check if the walkway was clear. There was no one on the walkway,
but Azelin saw furtive movement in the shadows outside in the parking lot.
“Damn.” Hissed Azelin as he ducked his head back inside. “We’re pinned down pretty good. The outside must be crawling.”
“What are we going to do?” whispered Alethia.
Azelin looked down at the floor. “We go room to room.”
Azelin scurried to the back of the room. He handed the SMG to Alethia,
then side-kicked the wall. The plasterboard caved in easily, and with a
second kick, he had broken through to the other side. He wrenched the scraps
of plasterboard away from the studs, and pulled out the insulation. Between
the studs there was enough of a gap to let them through to the room that
backed onto this one. Azelin took the gun back from Alethia, and she crawled
through. Once she was in the next room, Azelin crawled through also. Immediately
Azelin ran to the window, and peeked out from behind the curtains. There
were more soldiers in the parking lot on this side of the building, also.
“Crawling?” Asked Alethia.
Nodding, Azelin walked to the wall on his right, and kicked it. As he did so, the window shattered, and a canister fell to the floor.
“Gas!” Shouted Alethia, tearing the covers off the bed and thowing them over the gas grenade. There was a muffled ‘crump’ as the small charge in the grenade detonated, then a white cloud of gas began to billow out from under the pile of bedclothes. Azelin kicked furiously at the wall, but hit one of the steel studs. He cursed. Alethia ran to the other side of the bed and flipped the mattress over onto the pile of bedclothes, which were starting to smolder from the heat of the small explosive charge. She coughed hoarsely, and ran over to where Azelin was trying to kick through to the next room. Azelins head swam, and he staggered. Already the gas was starting to take effect. Another canister crashed through the window. Azelin kicked it under the bed, then grabbed Alethia and held her in front if him, with his back to the grenade, in order to shelter her from any shrapnel.
The grenade detonated with a bang, and poured more gas into the already
clouded room. Azelin felt Alethia’s legs buckle under her, then his vision
faded and they both sank into unconsciousness.