Monday, November 14, 2011

The Meta Corps: Dream of the Youth (Part 14)

  Chapter 19

             Juno Osbourne watched the levels on her controls tick beyond their limit as Anne’s power levels escalated. Florence and Clark looked up at the eye, the three of them and the equipment sitting in the middle of the street by a condemned red masonry building. The area of activity crept toward the rest of the city, taking up any debris that wasn’t laid in foundation on its outer perimeter. Water, cars, twirling power lines dependent on their connections and large chunks of building in the epicenter were gobbled up. The vortex was getting stronger.
 “Florence, I have no idea how to handle this. I have no idea how she can for that matter. Anne’s’ power is miles off the charts.” Juno said, her nasal voice whining.
 Florence nodded.
 “Is it possible that her vortex can grow large enough to eat the planet?”
 Juno flipped her lengthy braid across her shoulder.
 “No, Anne would die in the process. Even then, the power would need to go somewhere, and the inhabitants of the earth would feel the psychic effect of a dead little girl for years to come, provided that we survive, that is.”
 Florence nodded.
 “Can we get anyone near her and subdue her?” Clark asked.
 Juno shook her head.
 “We already lost our current EnWol, and any further hope of more EnWol with it. I’ve kept any ancillary metas from approaching the vortex so that we don’t lose more lives. As of now, Dogpatch is quarantined.”
 Florence wrinkled her nose.
 “This game is all about risk; that’s how it goes. We just need to find the right way to take advantage of the situation and act on it.”
 Levan came up from behind them.
 “I’m risky, I’m heroic and expendable. I could go up and save the little girl from the dastardly vortex.”
 “She’s causing the vortex.” Juno said without looking up at him.
 Levan’s brow furrowed.
 “Excuse me? That can’t be right.”
 Juno nodded.
 “I know. It violates the laws of conservation and mass. She shouldn’t be able to do this.”
 Levan held his hands up and chortled.
 “Okay, look, I know that, Juno, you are the smartest person in the land…”
 “Who other?”
 “…but that can’t be right. I don’t know anything about physics, but if Hollywood has taught me anything, it’s that that vortex should be bigger.” He pointed at the swirling mass above him. In the context of a Hollywood movie, it was very small.
 Clark shook his head and Florence hid her face to moan.
 Levan pulled on his spandex as if he were wearing suspenders.
 “In any case, I can still rescue that girl up there. Perhaps that’s just what she needs to end this storm; a hero with good PR.” He rocked on the balls of his feet.
 Clark walked up.
 “Levan, don’t. Lora and Sarra are gone. We don’t want you to go either.”
 “No please. Levan don’t. Listen to the veteran.” Juno said. There was no emotion in her voice.
 Levan ignored Clark.
 “It is too late my lady, Osbourne, for my decision is made. I shall, nay; I might rescue the little girl from her own peril.”
 Juno rolled her eyes and mouthed the word ‘might.’
 “No, don’t. The world needs you and your special sarcasm detecting abilities.”
 “What?” Levan asked and then flew away without regards for an answer.
 Florence shot off and left as quickly as Levan did. Juno quietly got back to her readings, adjusting them to compensate for hitting the maximum levels. Clark crossed his arms and glared at Juno. She shot a glance at him.
 “I’m not sure if his use of the word expendable back there was deliberate or not.” Juno muttered.
 “Why did you have to feed him?” Clark asked.
 Juno held her thumb and index finger close together.
 “He gets his egging on from a pea. He hardly needed my help, Clark. Without me, it would have just delayed the inevitable.”
 Clark pursed his lips, defeated.
 “That may be so…”
 Florence readied her arm to catch Levan. The gap closed in between them and she threw. Her arm sailed past Levan, and then it was violently pulled on by the vortex. She gasped and pulled it back, thankful that she did not lose it. She wiggled her fingers and watched Levan approach Anne. He seemed unaffected by the vortex. Watched as parts of her body bubbled in and out like a lava lamp; the vortex was teasing a craving for EnWol silver.
 Florence curled her lip and looked up at Levan. His hair remained motionless as he hovered in front of Anne. Levan was being his ‘heroic’ self, apparently unaffected by the vortexes pull. Florence decided to leave him be. She flew back to her husband and Juno.
 “Young Anne, I have arrived to rescue you and relieve you of your misery.”
 Anne’s face was ablaze in distress. Her eyes were shut and she was trying to regulate her breathing. She shuddered out every breath. She opened her eyes a crack and stared at him.
 Levan grimaced behind his smile. He cleared his throat, unsure of what to do beyond what he was taught about dealing with meta children. Usually they had some degree of control over their powers.
 “Well, young Anne, we should get going.” He reached for her hand. Anne held her breath and mewled, trying to talk. She found that her intangibility was failing her. Levan grabbed her hand with a smile on his face, and then his expression went slack.
 “Oh cheese…”
 Levan felt Anne’s powers loop up his arm like a flash of numbness and into his head. He saw flashes of Anne’s pain, her fire, Morgan and Garner, Clive, and reserves of hope and trust buried away so that she could recover from her torture. Levan’s head felt like it would split open. He grabbed it and shouted.
 Anne gasped, her headache gone in an instant. She looked up at Levan and covered her mouth.
 “Great Apple Trees, Mister, I’m sorry!”
 Anne looked up at the eye of the vortex, its power being shifted from her to Levan. The eye shrunk and inside, she saw the unconscious forms of Pink Lemon, Crimson Cherry, The Electric Beaulieu, and cousin Tench very slowly falling out of it.

                               Chapter 20

             “What is this?”
 “What’s going on?”
 “Sarra? Is that you?”
 “Which one of you is Sarra?”
 The four people saw only a dark void. They touched the void, heard the void, and knew only both the void and their own thoughts.
 Clive spoke up.
 “Well, whatever happened, it’s a stark, and bloody better change from the babes in toy land.”
 “Well, I would rather be in toy land as a person instead of fuckin’ …nothing!” Sarra yelled.
Color faded in, a view from someone’s eyes. Yellow-gloved hands held onto a jar of sand. Its contents moved like water.
 “Oh no…” Clive said.
 “Who’s this?” Tench asked.
 “Me, who else, you tart? This is 1970…”
 The younger Clive walked briskly through the cave with Maximilian Doom by his side. He was swearing.
 “How could the heroes have found Bronson? We’re a mile underground!”
 “I don’t know! He must have a beacon of some kind.” Clive said.
 Doom looked shocked.
 “A beacon that can reveal our precise location in the middle of England?”
 They saw the younger Clive throw his arms up in the air; Doom watched them, slightly panic-stricken.
 “I don’t know; he’s a silly alien! Who knows what sort of tricks the gob has. ”
 Max snatched the jar of oddly fluid sand from him.
 “You be careful with this stuff! Bronson got this stuff for us, and it’s going to be used properly.”
 The younger Clive scoffed.
 “Yeah, we tortured the bloke to death; why not have him give us the stuff?”
 Doom gave him the jar and looked back in the opposite direction. The hallway beyond had the sounds of crackling electricity and cries of pain. Young Clive looked back and saw flashing lights around the corner.
 “That’s EnWol silver!” Tench blurted.
 “What?” Lora and Sarra asked in unison.
 “Look Clive,” Doom said. “You get that stuff to Slade. I’ll go back and handle the situation with that Pink Lemon and Crimson Cherry.” Young Clive watched Doom run off for a moment before hovering down the corridor.
 “Clive, what is this?” Tench asked with a tone that suggested that he was disciplining a child. “You ingested the silver, didn’t you?”
 The current Clive did not answer.
 “What will that do, Tench?” Lora asked.
 “The mirror with the perfect shine reflects the dim glare back tenfold,” the current Clive said.
 The metaphor immediately clicked with Tench.
“…you took too much.”
After several minutes, the younger Clive slowed; the distant sounds of a fight were only a vague suggestion. Young Clive checked to see if he was alone, and then bent down to the ground with the sand.
 “Oh Gaia, why did this have to come up?” The current Clive bemoaned. “Of all the dinky memories in this plot, why this?”
 Young Clive undid the cap and took out a handful of sand. He let it go through his fingers back into its jar and grabbed another handful.
 “It’s so strange…” Young Clive said.
 “Don’t do it…” Current Clive moaned.
Young Clive looked up after hearing a distant click. He shrugged and looked back at the gleaming sand.
 “Couldn’t hurt.”
 “Yes it could! Don’t!”
The younger cupped his hands, and poured the sand into his mouth.
 “What was I thinking? Stop! Stop! Stop!” The current Clive pleaded.
 “That was fifty times over the normal dosage, Clive. That’s way, way too much.” Tench said.
“You shut your gob!”
 The younger smacked his lips.
 “Oh bollocks, it’s like sugar, but worse!” He wiped his mouth on the spandex sleeve.
 “Hence, Pink Lemon.” Sarra said.
 Young Clive caught sight of his hand, and stopped cold when he saw his reflection in it. He looked at the back of his hand and it started to melt. The younger Clive bolted to his feet and looked at his body. His reflective hands dribbled from the sleeves and squeezed out from the fabric. He melted to a heap on the floor before he could let out a panicked scream. His vision spread to a one hundred and eighty degree dome. He tried to move, but he simply jerked left to right, burying his yellow costume in himself.
 “I stayed like that for four days… I wasn’t sure whether I was dead or not…” Current Clive said. “Serves me right for doing something stupid…”
 “So why are you still evil? You could have come to Florence for help afterward.” Tench asked.
 There was no reply. The younger Clive quivered, unsure of how to deal with the change.
 “Normally, the gauntlets would take a snapshot of the person beforehand to help them keep their shape, but the sand itself just seems to make a straight conversion to silver. That explains your dynamic looks, Clive.” Tench said.
 “You’re dead, ice man.” The current Clive did not sound sure of himself.
 From the other end of the hall, a figure approached. He slowed at the puddle that was Clive and saw the jar of sand.
 “Sergei Slade…” Tench said.
 “Scary…” Sarra retorted.
 He had a dark mane of hair and wore a silver jacket.
 “Dammit, he was probably killed. How did this get unscrewed?”
 “An idiot ruined her life with it, that’s what,” the current Clive croaked.
 Slade screwed the jar back on and left, the younger Clive screaming for help without a sound to make.
 “Clive, does Slade still have the EnWol sand?” Tench asked.
 “Max Doom died at the hands of the Steel Atom here… his neck snapped when he was punched in the head…” Clive said. A great remorse filled his voice.
 “Does Slade still have the EnWol sand?” Tench asked again.
 There was no reply.
 The full view of the corridor faded to black; and the four were immediately spit out from the eye and back to San Francisco.

                               Chapter 21

             Anne held her hair back in the wind, scared for herself and the suffering Levan. If she was unable to subdue the extra power when she had it, than what could she do with someone that had literally absorbed it? Even worse, Anne felt obligated to do something since her main caretaker had betrayed her, and she was the only one of her kind. Levan was the “second.”
 She looked down at the small camp in the middle of the road on 20th Street. She could recognize Florence, Clark, and Juno, a trio of her most intimidating authority figures. Anne was reluctant to ask for help with her obligation because she was terrified that she had done something unfathomably wrong.
 Levan wailed again, bringing Anne out of her train of thought. She looked around.
 “Mister, I’m sorry!”
 Levan jerked his head left to right, his face flushed. Anne held her hand out, her mind reeling for an answer to this problem.
Nothing was coming up…
…nothing was coming up!
Anne had no idea what to do. She knew that she would probably get in very deep trouble for doing that to Levan, even if he had started it. With her fear focused more toward the topical events instead of Morgan, Anne felt the hollow pain of both terror and frustration ring through her tummy. It resonated up through her chest and out the top. She started to cry.
 Tench fell from the vortex. Neither Levan nor Anne noticed him, but they were the first thing that he saw on exiting.
 Is that Anne? Anne! Toyland! That makes a bit more sense.
Anne felt something large and wet brush her shoulder. She looked down to see Clive falling to the earth. Anne looked up and gasped. Lora and Sarra trailed after them, along with a surprise.
Anne took Levan’s hand and pulled him away.
“Come on, come on, please. This things gonna barf!”  Anne said. Levan didn’t register as Anne led him away.
 “Flo, the gale force has slowed tenfold since Levan took over and that gave us our missing heroes; all are alive and whole.” Juno yelled.
 Florence straightened her posture and grew another two feet in the process.
 A light blinked on the console.
 “We also have rubble and all kinds of crap being ejected along with them. I just hope that you got everyone out of there unharmed.”
 Florence and Clark exchanged glances.
 Tench and Lora were disoriented to the point where they were convinced that the cloud was the ground and the ocean was the sky. They were unable to figure out why the world was spinning as they tumbled.
Florence and Clark exchanged glances. Florence nodded.
“I’ll grab Tench, you worry about Lora.” She said. Clark nodded and the two shot off like lightning.
 Lora was starting to realize that the ocean was not, in fact the sky. She saw Clark fly up alongside her. He looked up to see the rubble pour from the vortex. Clark swore. He matched Lora’s velocity to prevent her neck from being broken by the whiplash. Lora felt herself being grabbed before she could conjure up a greeting. Clark arced above the remains and Lora’s stomach dropped along with the rest of the junk that the vortex had sucked up.
 Lora didn’t feel saved. She felt sicker than she did coming out of the eye. The two heroes were brought back to Juno.
 Clive had relived the moment where he became far, far more EnWol than EnWol. He barely cared about where he was. He lost his shape and fell to Dogpatch, splashing to the ground not a few feet from Morgan where the old, decrepit test building had once been. He was rained upon by the former structures turned to sand.
 Sarra did not recover until she landed. She could not make out anything coherent as she fell, swearing along the way. She hit with a wet splat and went everywhere, her body spreading out and then retracting back to a familiar shape, upside down and in the middle of a rogue I-beam. She saw her predicament, and then the rain of rubble that landed nearby her. She started to run, but she was pummeled before she had a chance to escape. Sarra felt dust cover her and shrapnel pierce her as a deafening roar from the impact filled her ears.
 As the dust settled, Sarra was thankful that she was only coated in small flecks and that she was still out in the open as opposed to being buried under the fallen debris; smaller rocks had just bounced right off of her. She looked up and saw how her body had been split by the piece of steel. She removed herself from it, creating a hole similar to bubblegum being stretched three ways too far. She stood up to dust herself off and reform.
 Clark put Lora down, to which she leaned on him for support.
 “Oh, cheese and macaroni, but do I feel hurfy…” Lora said. She hiccupped.
 “Three G’s will do that, you’ll be fine.” Clark said.
 Florence landed, depositing Tench. He broke off and pretended that his own g-forces had not affected him.
 “Okay, what’s going on?” He stumbled across to lean on Juno’s console.
“Hey, that’s sensitive stuff.” Juno said brushed him away. Tench almost fell back when Lora rushed up to him.
 “Oh Andy!” Lora latched herself onto him, and Tench dropped his formal attitude. His face flushed.
 “I’m worried about Anne up there.” Florence said. “She hasn’t come down.”
 “A… Anne? My little cousin?” Tench sputtered. He couldn’t think straight. Lora broke her hug. Florence glanced at Tench and nodded, a curt smile gracing her lips from his handling of received affection. Tench cleared his throat.
 “I… I knew that, I saw her as I fell. What happened?”
 “We’re not sure in the slightest.” Juno said.
 Tench nodded.
 “I can tell you that Clive Ogden is involved. He was sucked up with us.”
 Everyone looked at Tench, suddenly very interested.
 “What would Clive Ogden want with Anne Redford? How could he even over saturate Anne’s powers anyway?” Clark asked.
 No one had a good answer.
 Lora stepped up.
 “Where is Clive then? Gee, and Sarra too?”

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