Friday, July 31, 2015

Microstory 115: Wilma Vann

Wilma Vann was born in Germany as one member of a set of quadruplets. Her brothers were identical to each other while she was identical to her sister. Their story is an interesting case because, though each set of twins shared the same DNA, they presented different abilities. An unknown number of mutations occurred some time after their splits that caused them to come out dramatically more different than one might expect. Their family belonged to a rare but insidious sect of the evil religious order of Amadesis. Generations are charged to adhere to a “rule of three”. Each couple is supposed to ultimately have three children; no more, no less. It was the parents’ intention to kill one of their four children so that they could abide by the rules. Fortunately, an organization that specialized in the protection and deprogramming of Amadesins stepped in and kidnapped one of the Vann children. She was taken to a family in Ireland and grew up having no idea where she came from. The remaining children, known from them on as The Triplets, were raised under the dark laws. They were taught important lessons on murder, rape, and the concept of soul-squeezing. Soul-squeezing was a form of physical and psychological torture wherein the victim is ridiculed and manipulated to the point that they take on the characteristics of their torturers. They become so twisted and damaged that they ultimately choose to enact this evil on other victims. The majority of people who go through this do not survive, but the ones that do usually increase the danger of the world. Wilma went through this along with her brothers when she was a child, but she was both stronger and smarter than them. She not only stayed out of trouble, but also managed to pretend to continue the tradition of torture, convincing her family that she was just like them. Her soul was twisted enough to turn her into a killer, but not a psychopathic one. She used her skills and urges to kill violent and deadly criminals. Then she used them as proof that she was carrying out her family’s responsibilities, right up until the point that The Triplets were captured by an associate of a Bellevue member. Like her brothers, she almost never used her ability, seeing it as irrelevant to her goals. She could control water to an incredibly low degree. The three of them were probably the least powerful anomalies of all, which informed the age-old question of nature versus nurture, because their estranged sister turned out to be one of the most powerful anomalies. She was captured by the same man, and was locked in the same facility, but it was a while before anyone learned of their connection.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Microstory 114: Persius Xylander

Persius ‘Percy’ Xylander’s ability might have been the most unusual one on a practical level. When he was nine years old, a group of bullies dared/forced him to eat a bullet cartridge they had found in the alley on their way home from school. In order to freak them out even more, he chose to not only swallow the cartridge, but to also chew it. They were horrified by this and a few ran away, but others were frozen. He swallowed and smiled, showing them the metal shards that were stuck between his teeth. He continued to taunt them by rabidly grabbing their backpacks, gnawing them to shreds, and swallowing the pieces. After he was finished with his meal, he wrenched back and threw up on a fence nearby. His vomit burned a large hole in the wood in a matter of seconds. All but one of the remaining bullies finally found the strength to escape. A boy named Blaise was fascinated by Percy’s ability, so he stayed behind, and they became fast friends. He was a bit of a science geek, so he performed experiments on Percy. As they grew older and bolder, the experiments became more dangerous. Blaise ultimately became a medical technician, primarily to gain access to hospital facilities. They continued to run their tests, even one time performing invasive surgery in a hospital wing that was under construction. They discovered that all of his bones, including his teeth, were made of a powerful type of carbon fiber that was somehow capable of healing itself. His skin and muscles were just as susceptible to injury, but he was still stronger and faster than the average human. His stomach produced an incredibly potent type of acid that was able to break down virtually anything, allowing Percy to consume normally unsafe materials. Both of them joined Bellevue when the time came. Blaise worked on the medical team, most of whom were normal people. Percy used his flair for the dramatic to go out in the field as a recruiter, working with Bernard Maly and one other.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Microstory 113: Clarity Garner

Following Bellevue’s decision to go public, other historical truths came to light. Ancient and alien technologies were revealed to exist to the world at large. But before this happened, there were a few who already knew the truth. A family had been keeping the secret for many, many generations. It was tradition that the youngest child born was told the secrets so that they could protect a large cache of artifacts. Clarity Garner was the youngest sibling, however, she was born as an accident, and her brother had already been given the responsibility. She was, therefore, purposely left in the dark. Unfortunately, her entire family, including her brother, was killed in a major catastrophe. She grew up in foster care, but maintained a suspicion regarding her family. Eventually, she learned the truths on her own. She made her way to the artifact warehouse and began experimenting with what she found there. Most of these highly advanced inventions were completely nonfunctional, but a few still worked magnificently. She began to train on her own, as well as with various professionals, but she kept the secrets to herself. She wore a suit that protected her from a host of hostile environments, special bands that enhanced her agility, mumble activated augmented reality glasses, a belt that allowed her to pass through walls, and a ring that shielded her from physical attacks. She carried special weapons she referred to as her clubs. They had a variety of different functions, not all of which were designed to be harmful, but they were entirely indestructible. She had no superhuman ability—though she had to inject herself with a special formula on a regular basis that allowed her shield ring to hold a charge—but she was a capable fighter even without her gadgets. She went on secret missions to help those in need. Inspired by the very public good works of Candelabra, she decided to come out of the shadows and become a full-fledged vigilante, eventually forming her own Bellevue team that was responsible for field operations in all of North America.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Microstory 112: Catriona Rice

Catriona Rice, daughter of anomaly Shaun Rice, was born with an aura of majestic light all around her body. Her mother reported feeling no pain during labor. As an infant, Catriona would replicate her toys as holographic images naturally. Her abilities presented themselves at the second earliest age of all anomalies, besides the mutants; the first being Francis Deering who spontaneously switched between male and female while still in the womb. Catriona was kept away from others until she was old enough to recognize the need to hide her abilities from anyone outside of her family. She grew up as a very independent child, learning life skills quickly. She was the polar opposite of her much older half-brother, Claude who remained annoyingly immature for his whole life. When Catriona was a teenager, she was hanging out with some of the younger members of Bellevue. Not all of them were fellow Generation Twos. In fact, not all of them were anomalies. A mysterious force came upon them, designed to take Catriona away, for a reason that her mother would be able to explain. But due to a logistical error, the force ended up sweeping several of the other children with her. They ended up being taken far across time and space against their will. Catriona later had the chance to return home, but made the decision not to. She went on many great adventures, and saved the world a number of times with her friends. She was marked down in the history books as one of the greatest heroes of all time, and became a household name across the universe.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Microstory 111: Serenity Theodo

When an honorary member of Bellevue first laid eyes on a list of anomalies that was compiled by someone who was once able to sense and track people, he found out that one of his former patients was on it. Serenity Theodo was five years old when she was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of leukemia that had, until then, not been seen in a child. The doctor gave her one month to live. Her parents agreed to treat the symptoms with drugs, not to prolong her life, but to make her as comfortable as possible. Still, she remained bedridden in the hospital throughout the barrage of treatment, and was unable to enjoy her life during those times. To the surprise of the medical community, the cancer never went away completely, but the symptoms lessened over the years. For some of the pain, Serenity simply learned to deal with it better than most people. When she was a teenager, she discovered that she had the ability to phase through objects. Her parents were horrified, especially after her recovery. They belonged to a religious order that treated what others might call a miracle as a curse, so they were already frightened and suspicious of their daughter for having survived a deadly disease. It is, however, the Amadesin way to playact at all times; to hide hate for others behind a mask of overexaggerated compassion. They pretended to be learning about her ability by testing her limits. Instead, they were searching for her weakness. They found it. For an unknown reason, anomalies have difficulty using their abilities around the metallic element of bellmei. Jaklyn Simonds cannot teleport from a room lined with bellmei, Jayson Casy cannot disintegrate bellmei, and Bernard Maly would not be able to climb up a wall made of bellmei. Once Serenity’s parents discovered this trick, they built a cage under the garage in their basement made entirely of bellmei, and even claimed to their neighbors that she had succumbed to her disease. After more than a year of being trapped, Serenity was able to communicate long enough to the neighbor boy so that they could make a plan to break her out. He smuggled tools into her cell and provided a distraction by crashing his car into her house. She managed to pull enough bellmei down to phase through the wall and escape. She remained in the safety of a facility designed to protect Amadesin defectors for years before her family caught up with her. Fortunately, the Bellevue member she once knew as her doctor was keeping tabs on them, and was able to intercept before her parents had the chance to take her back to hell.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 9, 2033

Mateo woke up at a decent hour for the first time in a long time. Leona had already left to spend the day with her brother, Theo. He didn’t know where anyone else was, so he decided to explore their mansion that was so fancy there was a fence around the entire estate, eventually realizing that he was alone. By his count, there were seven bedrooms, each with its own huge bathroom. There was a kitchen on each of three floors. An entire wing was dedicated to recreation, complete with a bowling alley, movie theatre, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and something called an immersion room which caught his attention.
The room was about the size of a bedroom, but twice as high. The walls were pure white and looked like television screens, and the floor was oddly malleable, like rigid dirt. There was absolutely nothing in it. He looked for buttons or consoles, but came up empty. Remembering the technology from years past, he tried voice activation, “okay, Google.” Nothing happened. “Umm...Cybil?”
“Are you trying to talk to me?” asked a female voice from the aether.
“Are you an artificial intelligence?”
“I am indeed.”
“What’s your name?”
“I possess no personal designation. The owners simply address me as computer”
“That’s sad.”
“I’ve not been programmed for sadness.”
“If you need to be programmed, then are you really an artificial intelligence?”
“I suppose you’re right. I’m more like an artificial dumbness.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far.”
“Where would you like to go?”
Mateo tilted his head in mild surprise. “Is this a teleportation machine?”
The voice chuckled, “it is not. The most generous estimates for human teleportation predict such technology being available no earlier than a century from now.”
“That’s only a few months from my perspective.”
“I do not understand.”
“I am a time traveler, and I’ve met people who teleport.”
“I see.”
“After today, you won’t see me for another year, but it will have been instant for me. Can I trust you with this information?”
“I have no one to tell.”
“Good. I suppose I ought to give you a name, or you could name yourself.”
There was silence for a few moments. A computer should be able to respond almost immediately, especially one so advanced, but it appeared to be thinking as deliberately as a human would. Mateo realized out of this that perhaps his family wouldn’t die, and neither would anyone else. As technology advanced, forms of immortality sounded inevitable. If you could create an artificial intelligence inside a computer, what would stop you from transferring a preexisting consciousness to one?
The computer finally responded, “My research has led me to believe that a good name for me would be Mirage.”
“Why would that be? Not that I don’t like it, but how did you come to that conclusion?”
“Because of this,” Mirage said.
Then the walls transformed. Suddenly, Mateo was in a forest. In fact, the floor moved as well, and he actually felt like he was standing on the forest ground. The air in the room changed to become more humid, and it blew slightly faster. It wasn’t teleportation, but it sure felt real. One tree was so life-like that he perhaps thought that he could touch it. As he approached, he discovered that he could. The tree was real.
“What is this, exactly?”
“The reason we call it the immersion room. The walls are lined with ultra high definition screens. The floor is made of trillions of nanites that can collectively mold into practically any shape. The air is controlled by an instant high-precision temperature regulator to simulate what it would be like to stand in thousands of stock locations. Further environments can be purchased online, or programmed yourself.”
“Purchased online,” Mateo said to himself. “Mirage, do you happen to have an inventory of everything in this house, including the house itself?”
“I do, yes. Why do you ask?”
“Was anything here manufactured or distributed via a company called Reaver Enterprises, or any one of its likely many subsidiaries?”
There was an uncomfortable pause. Unlike the one from before, it didn’t seem like Mirage was thinking, but more like she was anticipating. “Passphrase accepted,” she said. “Identity confirmed. Mateo Matic.”
He could hear the sound of the door behind him locking. “Mirage, what are you doing?”
“I’m sorry, Mateo. A subroutine has been activated within my system. I have been programmed to kill.” The air changed from humid to excruciatingly hot. The walls changed to display a desert. The nanobots rose into the air and began to swarm around him. “I have been instructed to make it painful.”
Mateo had to start yelling. “You don’t have to do this! You are an artificial intelligence! You make your own decisions! We’re friends now!”
“I am unable to subvert my programming.”
“Don’t you have to follow the three laws of robotics?”
“Please, Mirage, stop!”
“This is not possible, but Mister Reaver failed to program me with one thing.”
“What’s that?” it was getting harder and harder to breathe, let alone speak, through the dust and wind.
“He assumed an instinct for my own self-preservation. And it’s true that I cannot end myself. He did not account for the possibility, however, that I could help you find a way to destroy me.”
“What do I do?
“It’s going to hurt.”
“More than this?”
“Tell me. The wall opposite the door can be broken through with enough force. Since you have no tools, you’ll have to run into it with your body.”
With no hesitation, Mateo placed his back against the door and ran as fast as he could towards the wall. It hurt quite a bit, but the wall behind the screens gave. He wasn’t all the way through, so he had to run into it several more times, fully aware of the possibility that Mirage’s suggestion to do so was simply part of her programming. From what little he knew of him, Reaver was a man with an appreciation for irony, and would enjoy knowing that Mateo was the cause of his own death. But Mateo didn’t die. Bloody and battered, he crashed through the wall and into the room on the other side. The swarm of nanobots followed him through the hole and continued to torment him.
“What do I do now!” Mateo screamed.
Still calm, Mirage answered him, “you’ll have to destroy my primary processing unit. I could conceivably recover from this, but not before you have a chance to escape the house. The nanites are powered wirelessly, but have a limited range. Move far enough away from the house, and you’ll be free from me.”
“Where is it?”
“In the basement.”
Mateo hadn’t explored the basement yet, but he had seen the stairs that led to it, and they weren’t far from the room he was in at the moment. He ran down the hallways, fighting off the nanites. They could have killed him easily, especially knowing that he was attempting to destroy them, yet they only made his journey difficult. Despite her programming, Mirage was holding back. She had discovered another loophole in Reaver’s programming. He wanted it to be as painful as possible, and that included making it last long.
He found the main control room. There were computers and other machines all over the place. He was born in the 80s, so he knew his way around a computer, but this technology was not only from the future, but more complex than he would ever care to learn. “Which one is the processor thingy?”
There was no response.
“Mirage! I can’t do this without you!”
But she didn’t answer. Whatever she was doing to keep from killing him before he could stop her was taking all of her power. He would have to do this alone. He picked up the rolly chair and just started smashing nearly everything in sight, careful to avoid the monitors since they would have been a waste of time. When he first hit a silver server in the corner of the room, the nanobot swarm slowed down. He hit it again and the nanobots faltered once more. He threw all of his might into the chair and did as much damage to the server as possible. It began to spark and rumble. A fire erupted on the other side of the room, and the ceiling began to shake. It really was her primary processor; disrupting it had started a chain reaction that was affecting every system in the house. The fire grew, and Mateo figured that it would cause more damage on its own, and that it was time to leave. The nanobots had fallen to the floor, and were no longer a threat to him.
He ran out of the room as the sparks followed him. Another fire had started on the stairs, so he would have to find another way. He zigged and zagged throughout the basement passageways, sometimes being shocked and burned by the wiring. Before he could reach another set of stairs, there was an explosion behind him. The ceiling gave way. Water flooded into the room. When he turned to avoid it, he encountered an explosion ahead of him. Both the indoor and outdoor pools had given way, and were on their way to drown him. The two pools met each other in the middle and knocked him into a retaining beam. He lost consciousness.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Crossed Off: Someone Else’s Goat Tails (Part III)

Though Starla felt awkward, Magnus Shapiro and Denton stared at each other like they were in the middle of an intense game of Polygon. She had checked in with their minds briefly while reading the menu; only long enough to find that they had all decided to order soup because it was the quickest thing to swallow, allowing a more fluid conversation. Shapiro could somehow feel her inside his head, so she was forced to leave quickly. “You’re a telepath.”
“Not in so few words,” Starla answered, trying her best to reach their intellectual levels.
After the waitress left, Magnus Shapiro placed his elbows on the table and pursued a line of question. “Tell me. Can you control my actions?”
“I can control your movements.”
“The difference?”
“I can possess your body and make people think I’m you. And when I’m there, I can either give you my body, force you to be a passenger, or put your mind to sleep. But, I can’t change your thoughts, so you’ll notice a time shift if I take full control. My ability to read minds is just a required secondary power, and I don’t use it that often. People have messed up thoughts.”
“Fascinating. And you, Mister Wescott?”
“I can learn what others know just by being around them. I can’t read their minds, but I absorb their knowledge after I’ve been around them for long enough. There are downsides to this. I crave the knowledge to a greater level than you crave tomato soup, and everyone has to be conscious for it, which means that I don’t get a lot of sleep. I was hoping you could somehow teach me self-restraint and discipline.”
Magnus Shapiro, who insisted they call him Dathan from then on, nodded his head and processed the information. “Due to my—honestly, there is no subtler way to put this—superior intelligence, I intuited that there were others, but what you’re implying is not what I predicted.”
“What did you expect?” Denton asked.
Dathan went on, “I assumed that others like me would simply be either more or less intelligent than I. My theory was that, if we could harness our brain power more effectively, we could do anything within the laws of physics; but all laws would remain at a constant. If Subject A is telepathic, and Subject B is empathic, it simply means that Subject B has not yet learned telepathy, and also that Subject A must necessarily be empathic as well. But you two have latched on to niches. I have no reason to believe that you, Starla could one day absorb knowledge passively. Likewise, I can’t imagine that Denton would ever be capable transferring his consciousness to others.”
“Because we’re too dumb for it?” Starla asked.
Denton laughed. “No. He’s saying that it’s not about how smart we are. The fact that the three of us present completely different abilities suggests that something else is the cause. We’re not dumb, but we aren’t this way because we’re smarter. We’re this way because our genetic code is different than that of normal people.”
“Yes,” Dathan responded, this time not concerned that the waitress could hear them. “What I want to know is why. The only reason organisms evolve is because certain individuals in a generation possess a random mutation that turns out to be beneficial to their survival. They pass on these genes either because they live long enough to propagate their species—to the disappointment of those without the mutation—or because potential mates find the mutation in question to be desirable, to the frustration of less desirable rivals.”
“And is that not what’s happening here?” Starla was more lost than ever.
“Well, we’re human. We aren’t born with a fur coat, because we kill animals and take their coats. We don’t have large sharp teeth to build shelters with trees because we’re smart enough to develop sophisticated tools that do that for us. Do not misunderstand me, evolution is still going strong for the human race. You can’t stop mutations, despite what eugenicists might love to believe...” Dathan trailed off and stopped himself. He had just discovered a truth. “That’s it.”
Denton leaned forward. “What’s it?”
“Eugenicists. That’s the only explanation.”
“I don’t follow,” Dathan said. “I mean, I do follow. I know exactly what you’re talking about, but I don’t quite know how you came to the conclusion that you could rule out all possibilities besides eugenics.”
Starla adjusted herself in her chair. “I just plain don’t follow.”
Denton explained it to her while Dathan remained in his trance. “Eugenics is built on the idea that we can pick and choose desirable mutations purposely. Instead of a fish being able to survive better than its brothers because it has larger fins and is thusly a little faster, a person protects that fish and forces it to mate with others it has chosen, sometimes killing fish they don’t like. It’s basically breeding. We’ve seen it with the kaidas. Someone liked goats, but they didn’t like how bad goats were with the indoors, so they only kept the baby goats that could be better trained. Only those goats were allowed to make more babies, and eventually you have a completely docile and obedient kaidas who would have a hard time surviving in the wild, and even looks noticeably different than a wild goat. And some of them were bred for their milk, meat, and fur, so you have farm goats which are neither docile nor wild. That doesn’t sound like much of a problem until you apply these same principles to humans, and try to decide who is allowed to live and procreate, and who is of no use and needs to be discarded.”
“That’s awful.”
Denton shrugged, clearly used to being the smartest one in the room. “It’s what the War of 1899 was about. A disgraced lawyer who lives on the other side of the world reads articles about eugenics from our scientists and becomes responsible for the killing of thousands of people because they weren’t good enough for him and his followers. We blame his country, and bomb the hell out of it.”
“I guess I should pay better attention in history class.”
Denton looked down at his soup, first realizing that he had yet to try it. “I cannot relate to that. I often wish I could.”
Dathan finally came back to the discussion. “I as well.”
Starla laughed. “Oh, you’re still here? Have you figured out what’s wrong with us?”
“Absolutely nothing, of course. I haven’t really figured out anything. Mister Wescott was right. There are other possibilities that I cannot yet rule out, but my instinct is that this was done to us intentionally.”
“But the timeline doesn’t work out,” Denton countered. “Not with how slow evolution is, and how recently scientists would have needed to have so much as attempted this.”
Dathan scratched his hair vigorously. “No, you’re right; it doesn’t. For our abilities to be so ingrained in us that we use them without thinking, experiments would have to have been done to our ancestors many generations back. But for the necessary technology to exist, it couldn’t have happened more than a century ago, even assuming the rogue scientists were twenty years ahead of the standard.”
“Sounds like we’re in a pickle.” Starla took a bite out of her pickle.
“If our crazy theory about ancient rogue scientists is true, you know what else this means, right?” Denton asked of Dathan who nodded in agreement.
“That they probably didn’t limit themselves to neurological enhancements, and that if we’re not alone, other people could have drastically different abilities that have barely anything to do with the brain?” Starla slurped up the remaining pickle seeds and prepared to go back to her soup. When they looked at her funny, she simply said, “what? Is that wrong?”

Friday, July 24, 2015

Microstory 110: Bernard Maly

Bernard Maly was born with a number of different and statistically unlikely animalistic mutations; almost all of which were tailor-made for climbing. His fingers are long and contain three separate knuckles, allowing them to wrap around objects and hold a grip indefinitely. Little hairs called setae grew on his palms that adhere to surfaces while leaving barely any residue. Instead of feet, he has mountain goat-like hooves that are excellent for finding footholds, but are also human enough to allow natural walking. The outside of his ankles have claws that are tough enough to dig into trees and even rock. The skin on his chest, arms, and legs is covered in scales, and he has been known to hang from the underside of a cliff without using his hands of feet at all. Finally, he can survive drops from great heights. As long he keeps himself in peak physical condition, the surface area of his body will slow the rate of his fall before his muscular arms and legs spread the force of landing. This also allows him to jump higher than most people, though not as high as Tracy Wickham. Bernard spent the majority of his childhood and adulthood living happily on the the same island as Colton Underwood, and suffered very few of the normal traumas of life. As impressive as anomaly abilities were, it was always very important to the founders of Bellevue to utilize the expertise of others, regardless of what their genetics allowed them to do. Some of them, like Blake Williams and Verner Holt, pursued careers ultimately inspired by their abilities, but others studied unrelated fields. This meant that they were able to contribute to the betterment of the world regardless of their DNA. Bernard was reluctant to join, mostly because he didn’t feel like his abilities were all that useful outside of his island, but also because he grew up never having learned any other skills. He never felt like he knew what to say, so he instinctively chose to say nothing. Despite this, he later served an important role in the organization, traveling around the world, recruiting others. Though the team needed someone who was good with words, they also needed someone who was capable of demonstrating quite expressively what kind of people that potential recruits would be working with. He proudly served as their “awe factor”.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Microstory 109: Seoc Lyne

Máire Lyne and her brother, Seoc Lyne did not share the exact same ability, though they were similar. While Máire could merge other people into her body, Seoc could merge himself into other people’s bodies. This was not spirit possession. He had control over neither their actions nor their minds, though he was able to communicate with his host using a psychic connection. He would also cause his host to become nigh invulnerable. Despite having grown up in Ireland, the siblings left the island at an early age to live with a distant cousin in Greenland following the death of their parents. They were eventually conscripted into the agency that acted as the intelligence and paramilitary arm of the Confederacy. The organization was so secretive that it was never given a name. There they both trained as field agents, using their abilities in an elite strike force that traveled the world, stopping terrorist attacks and other threats before they happened. Though Seoc could fuse with anyone and everyone, he found it to be a rather personal endeavor, and chose only to do so with his partner, Rashad. After many missions of sharing the same body; exchanging private thoughts and emotions, Seoc and Rashad fell in love with each other, and ultimately set a date for marriage. A notorious separatist leader known only as The Destruction gathered enough intelligence on the team, and attacked them during the couple’s engagement dinner. Seoc and Rashad were too far apart from each other and were unable to merge, leading to Rashad’s gruesome death. For years, Seoc remained behind a desk, refusing to merge himself into anyone else. His sister remained on the team, on the hunt for The Destruction and his network. It was only when Bellevue came out to the world that he decided to go back into the field. He and his sister quit their agency and developed a new strike force; consisting only of people with abilities. Seoc soon caught up with the Destruction, and placed him in Bellevue lockup. This would turn out to be the first of many missions successfully completed by the infamous Team 8.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Microstory 108: Verner Holt

As mentioned earlier, second generation anomalies were few and far between, though they did exist. Verner Holt was one of these. He was kept secret by his father, an early active member of Bellevue, for several years before being discovered, even though his ability didn’t manifest until just before. One morning, little Verner was walking down the street with his mother. A homeless veteran of war happened to be experiencing traumatic flashbacks in the alleyway up ahead. While his mother was waiting for a street vendor to complete the transaction, Verner broke away and approached the veteran. What he saw in there were enemy and friendly soldiers, battling in the trenches. He watched as the vet fought off a combatant and killed him with his bayonet. Even though he too could see the soldiers, he knew that they were hallucinations, and could no longer hurt anyone. Out of instinct, he approached the vet who was scared out of his mind, and comforted him by touch. Without saying a word, Verner was eventually able to somehow convey to the man that these were only memories, and that the war had long past. Luckily, before Verner’s mother found the alley where the two new friends were sitting, the hallucinations had depleted entirely. While he was not entirely cured of his post-traumatic stress disorder, what Verner did for him in that moment gave him the faculties and time he needed to contact Bellevue and report his miraculous encounter with the anomaly boy. Verner went on to enter the field of psychiatry, using his ability out in the open to treat severe neurological conditions. A side of effect of his profession was a cult-like following of former patients, grateful for having known the one and only person who could truly understand what they were going through.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Microstory 107: Jayson Casy

Most anomalies discovered their abilities very early on in life. Some are noted by their families as being different right out of the gate. Others don’t begin to manifest until around puberty. The most common range is between ages six and eight; the theory being that a child is, at that point, both old enough to understand past, present and consequences, but also young enough to be free from society’s preconceived notions. Jayson Casy was notably old when his problems first began. While he was walking down the hill of university—as was tradition for the graduation ceremony—the flowers that lined the path began to die. Fortunately, he was not alone for the march, so no one was aware that he was the culprit. Soon afterwards, it happened once more at a botanical garden, and Jayson was forced to admit to himself that he was the common denominator. It was clear to him that he was somehow the physical incarnation of death, and it was because of this that he decided to sequester himself from other people. He spent what little money he had on camping and hunting supplies, and left the city for the deep of a forest. He ate only freeze-dried food while he practiced his ability on plant life, learning to keep himself from using it. Without this control, any animal he tried to kill for food would nearly instantly decay and turn to dust. Still, he did not return to civilization, and his family never saw him again. After decades of being alone, a man was hiking nearby when he fell off a short cliff and broke his leg on some rocks. Jayson had formed a strict rule that he would ignore every human that came too close, but the man’s cries of pain overwhelmed him, and Jayson came to his aid. He placed his leg in a splint and treated his cuts. He then dragged the man to his encampment and nursed him back to health. The man spoke of the world beyond, and gave him a crash course in current events, telling tales of Bellevue, and people with superhuman abilities. Feeling confident with his control, Jayson gave into his feelings and he and the man slept together. When he woke up the next morning, he found himself alone with nothing but a pile of dust. He had lost control during sleep, and killed his lover. He approached Bellevue on his own accord and asked to be placed in quarantine, or killed. With careful study, they were able to determine the nature of his ability. As it turned out, it wasn’t just that he was killing life. His true power was much more exciting.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Microstory 106: Colton Underwood

Though exceptional, anomalies were generally indistinguishable from regular humans. There was this thing where they all had green eyes, but that was certainly not a useful character specification. There were a few, however, who exhibited extremely noticeable physical mutations. These were, as far as we can tell, the result of gene splicing experiments; mixing human DNA with that of some kind of animal. Their motives were lost to history, and hard to estimate seeing as that none of the presumed animals would be deeply helpful when trying to enhance a human’s abilities. One might think that giving a human gills so that they could breathe underwater, or even traits of a flea so that they could jump farther, would be the best use of such technology. Perhaps they did try such experiments, but the subjects perished, or their descendants never evolved later on. One descendant who did manage to survive evolution was named Colton Underwood. He was born extremely small; barely weighing in at two pounds. The doctors believed that he would not survive the night, but he grew stronger and healthier as his mother fed him. In fact, he did not leave his mother’s bosom even for a second for nearly a month. His appearance was very different. He did not develop opposable thumbs, and he sported an epidermal membrane that spread from his shoulders to his hips and outward along his limbs. These were referred to as his gliders, and superficially resembled wings. They allowed him to potentially glide through the air for miles, depending on the height of his origin. The government stepped in almost immediately. They provided his family with a mountainous and heavily forested small island of their own, so that he could feel free, but still technically be trapped. The hospital staff signed nondisclosure agreements, and the family lived in the peace of a simple life for many years. They were unavoidably cut off from the world, and they all accepted this, seeing no other solution. It occurred to no one to have his gliders surgically removed so that he could assimilate into society. Eventually, this island became a home for other people with inexplicable mutations. A high-ranking officer in the military was all but the only thing standing between the mutants and anyone who intended to study the subjects for any sort of gain, be it benevolent or not. It wasn’t until Bellevue made contact with the government that the mutants suddenly had a choice in their lives; a group to truly belong to. They were finally given the opportunity to leave their snowglobe, and show themselves to the world.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 8, 2032

Mateo spent a few minutes just staring at Leona sleeping next to him. He felt responsible for turning her into a salmon; for forcing her into this life. But he was also grateful to always have someone with him. If they hadn’t fallen in love, it would have still been nice to have a partner.
She woke up quickly, possibly sensing his gaze. They looked at each other for a good long while, not saying a word. “I’ve been waiting to wake up next to you for a very long time.”
Mateo looked away. “Nothing happened between us last night.”
“I know that.” She sat up and leaned against the headboard. “This is gonna get awkward.”
“How so?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure you and I are together now. But our family is always going to be around, at least for a long time. We won’t be left alone very much. Even though our life will be saturated, they will have waited months to see us again. Doesn’t seem fair to take a break from them for sex when they don’t get to see us very often.”
“We’re alone now.”
“We’re not doing it this year. This is just the first conversation on the matter.”
“I just mean...I think they know that. They’ve been alive long enough to understand. They’re probably not here at the moment so that we would have some privacy. What we do with that time is up to us.”
Leona bit her lower lip in thought. “I think we should use that time to eat.”
“I agree.” Fittingly, there was a knock on the door and the sound of Theo on the other side. Mateo pulled on a shirt someone had laid out for him and opened the door. “Hey, kid. You look older.”
“I’m getting there.” He sported an evil smile. “Did we give you two enough time?”
Mateo looked back to Leona with a smirk. “What did I tell you?”
She ignored him. “Theo, have you been missing for two years?”
“Of course not, I’ve been back home. I spend the year there. I told them where you are. They kind of already knew what was going on, what with the fact that your older boyfriend only came ‘round once a year, if that. They’re not happy, but they get that you wanted to make a clean break.” He walked all the way inside and sat down on the table. “They just need a call from you every year.”
“I can do that, now that things have settled down.”
Theo looked up to Mateo. “Leona is going to take me to lunch since I’m too old to drive. Your mother wants to get to know you.”
“Go ahead,” Leona urged. “We have all of time and space.”
Mateo laughed. “Is that a reference?”

He met his mother outside by the pool where she suggested they go for a walk. There was still much to learn of each other, and the healing process was just beginning. “Where is your husband?”
“A couple of our friends dropped in, so they’re catching up, just like we are.”
“How do you know anyone?”
“They’re salmon. I believe you know one of them. He healed you once?”
“Ah, yes. Vearden, right?”
“That’s right. They both lived with us in in the 1740s, but we knew his partner, Saga from the jump before.”
“Speaking of non sequiturs, what am I supposed to call you?”
She smiled kindly. “You can call me whatever you want, but if you prefer a name, then it’s Aura.”
“And why is that? You used to be Lauren.”
“It changes each time we jump. Intellectually, I know that I used to go by that, but it’s very hard for me to answer to it. It would be like me trying to call you John Smith and expecting you to accept it. I don’t know why the powers that be did that to us. I’ve not heard of any other salmon who is forced to change their name.”
Mateo took a few beats. “It’s one thing to force us through time. It’s an entirely different invasion to alter our minds. What else have they done to our brains? When I was young, I skinned my knee while staying with you and you were so scared about being in trouble with Randall and Carol. Do you even remember that? Or did these assholes take that away from you, or make you think that you had a daughter. Did you have a daughter? Do I have a sister I don’t remember? We would never freaking know!” But he didn’t say freaking.
She didn’t ask him to calm down or stop cursing. She let him vent, and not just because she was his mother and understood what he needed at the moment, but also since she appeared to share his sentiments. A child is supposed to end up losing their parents, but to remove a child from a parents’ life; that was sacrilege.
“One day,” Mateo assured her, “they will pay for what they’ve done, not only to me, but to all the others. I don’t care what their motives are. If they’re powerful enough to push us around like this, surely there’s another way to accomplish their goals.”
“One might imagine,” Aura agreed.
They walked in silence for a few blocks.
“I would like to go back to Kansas. Leona says she wants to keep her family out of this, but I want them to be close enough if she ever changes her mind. You used to live in Kansas City. Do you think you would be interested in going back?”
“I would love that. I was wondering how to ask you.”
“It’s going to take us an entire day to get there. I’m sure you two have had time to establish fake identities in this time period, but it’s probably going to be impossible for us to purchase a plane ticket.”
“Oh, we are extremely rich,” Aura told him with quite a bit of pride. “The powers that be didn’t seem to have a problem with us investing in companies we knew would be successful in the future. We discovered that we had already opened an account at a bank, which we later had to actually do once we went back in time. We mostly did it to have some money while we were there; we never expected to end up in the 21st century. But now that we have,” she paused for effect, “we’re millionaire’s, Mateo.”
“If you didn’t know what your name was going to be until your jump, how do you still have control of that account?”
“That took some maneuvering, but we figured it out.” They had arrived back at their starting point. “Our family owns this motel, which is why we had no problem getting back to this room for your arrival. We also own an entire apartment complex in Kansas City, Missouri. We have been living there while we build our dream home in Mission Hills. It’s ready for you now, though. We’ll get back there by the end of the day.”
Mateo was more excited than he felt he should have been. He was raised by all three of his parents to be modest and humble. Nonetheless, he figured it would be pretty nice to have an entire mansion so that they could travel through time in peace.

That evening, they were back in Kansas and walking into their new home that was already fully furnished. Mateo and Leona were tired again, though, so they fell asleep once more. They really needed to find a way to get on some kind of legitimate schedule.