Final Chapter

Something Feels Strange - 55

Something Feels Strange…

By Tiffany B. Quinn

Eventually, I join my Dad in the land of nod. The morning will start my journey back to what I was born to be.

I shall really miss life as Tina.

Chapter 55: The Aftermath

9 Postscript Links and source material used in the development of this story:

--SEPARATOR--

9 Postscript Links and source material used in the development of this story:

Once the Hero Part 14

Once The Hero
Part 14
By
Grover
Chapter 58

    Colonel Randolph Hodges felt his guts twist, feeling ill. It wasn’t suppose to be like this! He had ships down all over the place, and the carnage on the ground among his troopers was even worse. This far exceeded his worst-case scenario, and to make matters perfect, he’d totally lost command and control.

    Comms were completely out because, impossibly, the ultra secured system was virused. All he had command of now was his own aircraft and the three ship special munitions flight with him.

    His vantage point from above the battle told him his boys would succeed but the price would be high. The pride of ULTIMATE’s armed forces would be a spent unit afterwards. The biggest problem would be if their cover story would hold up in the face of such casualties.

    Hell, he would be lucky to command a desk after this was over! On the other hand, Area 61’s boil would finally be lanced. Its abominable research into creating and empowering these gene-warped freaks ended forever. After it was gone, the world would be a safer place for the human race. Even his career, as much as it pained him, wasn’t too great a price to pay.

    Signaling the special munitions flight, he directed his pilots to get into the fight. One of the advantages of his boys being in power armor was they had full NBC, nuclear, bio-hazard and chemical, weapons protection. Normally Area 61 would be protected from such weapons too, but the smart bomb bunker busters these three ships carried would take care of that. They could crack even those heavily shielded elevator shafts, letting the deadly cocktail of chemicals and bio-weapons in to do their business. Next, the radiological bombs would make this whole place too hot for any living creature for the next several hundred years.

    As a finishing touch, if the freak was still alive, there was a special present just for Number Five of SRT-One. The special armor piercing munitions would crack even that mutant’s hide, letting the freak’s radioactive blood add to the contamination. It was fitting that the mu-tainted served humankind’s future with its death.

    “Let’s do it!” the Colonel ordered, his troops going into the valley of death.

***

    Courtney hugged herself, knowing the truth in her heart but so afraid of admitting it. She, Techie and James had reached the elevator that even now was ascending. However her thoughts were of the man they’d left down there all alone. She might be a blind and selfish bitch, but never a coward. Full of second thoughts, her telepathy reached for her patient.

    “Why hello there,” he answered her. “Are you three safe yet?”

    Still denying that she knew the answer, she asked, “Why?”

    “Why am I asking or why I misled you?” he asked for clarification.

    Her silence told him which it was.

    Capt. Blazzar replied, “All my life I’ve tried to do the right thing; for my brother; for my friends; and even for the world. What happened? I failed them all!”

“I turned into some kind of monster and killed the very ones I loved the most. All I remember are only flashes, but those along with no one wanting to tell me what happened, makes me certain it’s me who’s responsible.

“Val told me that it was Doc and La Dirty Feet that’s guilty, but it was still me who did the deed,” the teen sent to her full of anguish.

    Courtney devoted her life to understanding how the human body and mind worked. Her doctorates in genetics and psychology, among others, were proof of her drive, but it wasn’t because of any desire to heal. She’d helped and aided many with her talents and knowledge but that was secondary to her control freak mania to manipulate those about her.

    She, the master manipulator, met her match in Alan Glenn. Somehow he, with a deft touch any surgeon would envy, made her take a good hard look at herself. Over the past few weeks she found herself questioning everything that she once sought to achieve. Looking into that mirror, and seeing what was reflected therein, made her turn her face away.

    Here, now, touching this young man who was in such pain, not only from his terminal injuries, but of his heart and soul, she saw just how far she’d fallen. Reaching out with her abilities again she looked not to heal his body, but his spirit.

    Most importantly of all, she did it out of no other reason than compassion. That was something that only a few short weeks before would’ve been beyond her.  

    Without words, but a communication at a deeper level than she’d ever dared before, she showed him what his inner-most self looked like and that it was nothing to ashamed of. Next came what she knew of General Lafitte and what she’d scanned of Doctor McClellan. Of their willingness to sacrifice others for their own causes whether it be because of misguided nationalism or the altar of science. Not pulling any punches she gave him all she knew of Project Meridian. The fate of his teammates and what had happened since.

    He took all that she gave him without incrimination or finger pointing. Then he asked about his sibling, Alan, who was now known as Val.

    Courtney wished she knew more, but she hadn’t even known Val’s name until Techie told them. She showed him of her first meeting with Alan Glenn on a hot summer day in Charlotte. Of how he took a group of kids taken from their parents and helped, protected and nurtured them. His courage in facing down General Laramie with his ready wit and humor.

    She showed Gus her own discovery of Alan’s hidden femininity when she object-read his battered racing jacket. In truth she’d never seen Val’s face but had only the impressions that Alan made upon her. Ones that had made her question her motivations and her life.

    He then answered her question of why. He hadn’t lied but he did mislead her. His mutant power of energy manipulation was the only thing keeping him alive. However, Gus’s energy reserves were seriously depleted by his recent ordeals. The energy field could be recharged, but like a battery, a trickle of energy worked best. Gus could moderate nuclear reactions in a controlled setting but that was orders of magnitude different from trying to stop the out of control chain reaction that was a nuclear explosion.

    It was remotely possible that he might’ve lasted long enough for her to remove all that shrapnel and begin healing, but the Bomb changed all of that. He was the only one that might be able to save all of those people topside, but he honestly doubted that it would change him back into Kiloton. Then, his own energy field was literally so overcharged that it’d gone into a kind of critical mass of its own causing him to transform. This time the heat and radiation would finish killing him long before that happened again.

    Besides he was a hero and this was what heroes did.

    Even timeless moments must end and Courtney opened her eyes to see Techie watching her speculatively. James was lost in his own thoughts worrying about his own survival.

    Courtney found a tear rolling down her cheek and then another followed. Most women dreamed of finding their soul mate. The one man that more than any other fulfilled and complemented them, that knight in shining armor. Being a telepath she’d always scoffed at such silly notions. She knew what men were really like.

    Gus Glenn wasn’t her soul mate or even the perfect match, but he was closer than any other she’d ever met. And he was going to die. There was nothing she could do that would change that. She felt such an irrational jealousy of that teenage girl, Kat. She’d died so many years before, but had called Gus hers and loved him.

    Once she started, she couldn’t stop the tears from flowing; for herself and her wasted life. For Gus Glenn who could’ve been able to help her redeem herself and the life they might’ve had together.

***

    Maggie wrapped her arms around the crying woman, trying to comfort her. She suspected something like this when she’d seen how intently Dr. Hathaway tried to save Val’s brother. The look in the woman doctor’s eyes when he’d urged them to flee confirmed that suspicion.

    Smiling sadly, she knew all too well how quickly one of the Glenn boys could steal your heart. Even when one of them was really a girl. That’d so confused her when she’d first met Alan. Maggie had always known she was bisexual, leaning more towards other women rather than men. With this man, it was different with lust, love, and everything else all rolled into one. From their first meeting, what she felt defied everything she knew about herself. When Alan revealed Val to her, things began to make sense.

    The more they found out about each other the more they found things they had in common. From the beginning, Maggie found Alan Glenn a complex person. Like an onion, the deeper you went, the more layers you found. For nearly twenty years she’d peeled away Val’s layers, and although frustrating at times, she never regretted one moment.

    Holding the sobbing scientist, she’d never been more thankful she’d taken that chance. Her life might have many regrets yet in store for her, but not daring to open her heart to love wouldn’t be one of them.

    Maggie’s heart ached for her own love, and the pain she knew was coming. Val had just found her brother and now he was going to die. Part of her wondered if things could get any worse, but was afraid to tempt fate any further. So much had happened in this one night, who knows what other bad news waited around the corner. They were trapped on top of a Bomb by the one group of people that would cheerfully kill them all without a second thought, out numbered hundreds to one and cut off from the outside world without any chance of calling for help. It did not look good.

    The only positive thing she could see about this mess, is that in the long run, this would help their cause. Twenty years ago the writing was on the wall for anyone who cared to look. Sentiment even then was starting to rise against mutants. Now there were laws restricting and limiting their basic civil rights.

    ULTIMATE turned from an international agency designed to keep mutants from being used by the world’s nations as weapons, to become Gestapo-like Sturmtruppen, enforcing those laws pushing mutants into 2nd class citizenship for the crime of being born different.

    It was ironic that the very political forces that caused ULTIMATE to come into existence were the very ones that might save mutants now. Area 61 sure as hell wasn’t the only place on earth where research on mutants was still being conducted. The power Supra-humans represented was simply too great for any nation to ignore. It came down to National Security interests versus the fanatical human purists and supremacists.

    How those fanatics must have crowed at what they thought was a golden opportunity to strike at those interests. Still it’d taken big brass ones to attack a not so secret US military base. The USA was still a superpower and wielded immense political influence.

    For this to succeed, not one word of what really happened could get out.  They had to make absolutely sure no one would be able to poke around here looking for clues to punch holes in their story. The arrogance was astounding but typical.

    Maggie thought she might be able to make certain that the word got out no matter if she survived or not. No doubt ULTIMATE’s uber-fuhrers had a cover story prepared just in case things fell apart, but every little bit helped. Just curbing the mutant haters’ power for a few years would help, because every year there were more and more mutants being born.

    Not that long ago, there weren’t even enough to count as a minority. They were just oddities like in some sideshow. That’d changed, and was still changing as mutants became more common. If you thought the minority demonstrations during the sixties were something, baby you ain’t seen nothing yet, Maggie promised herself.

“But first things first,” she thought as the elevator’s doors opened.

***             

    Gus Glenn laid his head back, concentrating on keeping calm. His breathing really didn’t matter at this point because he knew only his energy field was keeping him alive. If he wanted to last long enough to try and stop that Bomb, he needed to keep expenditures to a minimum.

    The waiting was always the hard part. His studies here at Area 61, back when he was being groomed as the perfect little soldier, had gone over many accounts from conflicts spanning thousands of years. They all said the same thing. Waiting was the pits. His own experience as a teenage supra-hero taught him that much was a universal truth.

    Pushing his thoughts away from that, he recalled his telepathic conversation with Dr. Hathaway. He too felt the attraction between them, but his heart still belonged to Kat. The perky minx who could get him to smile no matter how bad things got. Who was dead, he mourned. Dead because of him, along with everyone he had held dear, except for his brother who was now his sister.

    Courtney Hathaway had helped him with his grief and guilt. He and his friends were ruthlessly used by their country. In spite of knowing that, it still hurt, and maybe him trying to be the hero one more time was his way of making things right.

    However he couldn’t help thinking how Doug and Jeff would’ve reacted seeing his little brother Alan now. The dirt smudged face and battle scarred uniform she’d worn couldn’t disguise the fact his sister was all grown up as well as beautiful. Yeah, the guy’s mouths would’ve hit the ground. Not to mention Kat and Joyce would’ve gone nuts over their newest recruit to girlhood.

    He knew he wasn’t suppose to know, but the girls had kidnapped his little brother from time to time for makeovers and fashion shows. He and the boys studiously ignored Alan’s absence as they got on with serious stuff like sports and the trouble teenage boys always got into.

    Smiling at the memories, he felt someone come into the room.

    The man had the scent of cigar smoke on his Air Force uniform, but even though haggard and older, Gus recognized him at once. “Hey, it’s Lt. Laramie,” he rasped.

    The much older man growled back, “It’s General, Cadet Glenn.”

    Gus had to smile again despite the pain. He could still pull this man’s chain, General or not. “Still sore I outranked you since I was Captain Blazzar, Lieutenant?”

    A vein pulsed in the old man’s face. “You did not! It was a courtesy rank. You were a Cadet after you signed the papers enrolling in the Air Force.”

    Still smiling Gus replied, “Only after you lied to me saying I was going to be kicked out of here as well as separated from my brother and friends if I didn’t.”

    Pulling himself up straight, Laramie brought up the pistol he had in his fist. “I did what I had to do, to fulfill my duty. Just like I am now.”

    His eyes on the gun, Gus rasped out, “You might want to hold off on that. I might be able to fizzle the Bomb down here.”

    Lying-to-me-Laramie cocked the hammer of the pistol back, “Why? So you can turn back into that monster? I don’t think so!”

    Gus knew he didn’t have the energy to spare to defend himself. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. No way I’ll be able absorb enough energy fast enough to reach that point before it kills me. Last time it only happened because my energy field was somehow overcharged from that last Zap by Doc, and went into critical mass myself.”

    Holding the pistol steady Laramie asked, “Why would you do that, and why should I believe you?”

    If it didn’t hurt so much to laugh, Gus would have, but he replied, “Because there’re people up there that are trapped and can’t get out. If this Bomb goes off they’re going to die.”

    Fighting to get out his words, teen whispered, “I don’t lie, never have. You know that. After all, You gave me such a great example of what not to be.”

    Showing every one of his years, the old man tiredly let his arm drop. “You don’t understand. You never did.” Taking a deep breath he let it out. “Save them if you can, but I warn you, if I see any sign you’re changing I won’t hesitate to put a bullet between your eyes. You understand Cadet?” he said, trying to regain his old bluster.

    Closing his eyes in weariness and pain Gus breathed out, “Yes sir, four bags full. You do know that you’re a mite close to ground zero, right?”

    Laramie may have grunted, but Gus knew the explosion was coming soon. He didn’t have any more time to waste arguing with Laramie of all people. Stretching out with his depleted powers, he began the meditation that helped him visualize a world invisible to most humans.

    He could literally see the energy about him. Streams of electrons flowing through the wiring; heat radiating from the light fixtures, and down below them, the Bomb. Despite its shielding, he could sense above normal background radiation coming from it.

    Gus considered for a moment of trying to mess with the electrical ‘web’ his sight showed supplying the Bomb. Deactivating the damn thing would be preferable. However he decided against it. Doc was just too damn tricky for him to risk it because as weak as he was, there would be only one shot at this. Better for him to use it against the one process Doc couldn’t influence once it’d begun.

    He’d waited to the last minute because all he would be able to do was temporarily affect the particles, hoping to prevent a full critical chain reaction, turning it into what physicists called a ‘fizzle.’ Still releasing a hell of a lot of radiation and death, but falling short of a fission reaction.

    In his tests, Doc Mac told him to see it like dominoes; one falls over knocking over two more, which makes four others fall. What he’d had done was push some of those dominoes out of the way so the falling one had nothing to hit. It sounded so easy, but there were millions of these particles suddenly flying about, sending billions more loose. He’d managed to disrupt the process in that test but it hadn’t been easy.

    Now here he was, injured and dying, about to try it again. Gus Glenn wasn’t a quitter and in those last moments he gave all he had to give. More intuitively than consciously, he touched the radioactive materials and started trying to keep the energetic particles stable.

    The amount of radiation the bomb emitted plummeted as he dampened the reactions. Then it detonated.

***

    Pushing the pain away, Val didn’t dare put any weight on her leg for fear of it collapsing. Not being able to use her supra-speed on the ground was really going to cramp her style. She’d crashed through the shields on another of those damn saucers, taking it out, but one of the survivors blasted her leg, but good.

    She’d found out the hard way that supra-fast running did not translate into supra-fast flight. She might not be all that slow in the air but it was a damn sight slower than the Mach 1 plus she could push with her boots on terra-firma.

    What she did still have was Slow-Time, letting her make the most out of every last millisecond on the ground or in the air. Back during the invasion she hadn’t had this hard of a time with these things. Accelerating to supersonic, she’d used a contraption of Maggie’s to redirect her momentum from horizontal into the vertical. Zooming pass the defensive patrol of saucers, she went right through the shields of the bombardment ship. Once inside it’d been a turkey shoot. Grays just weren’t prepared to repel a boarding action.

    Maggie by radio directed her where to go and what to wreck. It’d gotten a little hairy in places. However, she’d gotten clear before that big mother popped the great granddaddy of all circuit breakers and went down. All of their fighter-craft flying air cover dropped out of the sky when Big Mama bit the big one.

    At the time, most people thought it was because they used some kind of broadcast power, but the real answer was simpler. The internal explosions killed a lot of the invaders. The aliens were telepathic and had that group mind thing going. Overloaded by a good portion of their group mind dying, the rest went comatose from the trauma. Maggie said it was much like the cascade effect of a power grid burning out once the mother-ship in orbit blew, starting the process.

    The captured Grays were almost to the last, from the warrior caste. Losing their superior supporting brainpower from the rest of the group-mind, the warriors either stayed in a coma or became lone wolves. The latter were dangerous on a individual level but not a serious threat to humanity as a whole. Lacking the correct nutritional supplements, they too passed away after a year or so, unlike Ollie who’d learned how to formulate his own. All the invasion left behind were a lot folks grieving for their lost loved ones and loads of alien wrecks full of technology.

    Dancing away from another volley of green destruction, she wished that ULTIMATE had been a little less quick to pirate the captured booty. Maybe they weren’t able to reliably duplicate it, but they sure as hell learned how to use it!

    Pulling herself into a tight ball, she bounced off one passing SPAD’s shields, careening nearly out of control as her enemies came closer and closer to boxing her in. Her maneuverability had kept her alive so far, but the ULTIMATE pilots had numbers and faster machines. Listening to her Luck, she let gravity help her, diving straight down at the ground again.

    Her friend Jeff Fortune was much better at riding the luck, as he called it, than she’d ever been. Perhaps it was just an unwillingness on her part to throw herself completely at the mercy of chance. Even still, she’d learned to listen to the song it sang even if she didn’t lose herself in it.  For the last few minutes it’d sang of something momentous getting ready to happen. She was like a character in a movie being able to listen to the soundtrack as it foreshadowed some oncoming event. 

    Out of nowhere, she slammed into the Rocket as it zoomed in underneath her! The old silver and red paint job was scorched and burnt from all the near misses but the old machine was still giving ULTIMATE a run for their money. Val scrambled like crazy to keep from being thrown off, trying to use her own flight to link her to it.

    In the pilot’s bubble, Ollie flung up a thumbs-up before sending them back into a near vertical corkscrewing climb. The pack of pursuing saucers dodged madly as Ollie manically charged through them, heading into the blue on the other side of the stormy clouds.

    She could see her friend’s insane tactics bought them some time but looking down at the fighters, pulling hard turns and climbs of their own, she knew it wouldn’t be enough. The first SPADs were already climbing back onto their six.

    Hanging on for dear life, as Ollie put on a dazzling show of acrobatics inspired as only running for your very life can, Val heard her Luck’s song nearing its end. Tears ran down her face inside her helmet, but suddenly splashed against the face plate as Ollie rolled The Rocket like a spinning top, throwing off the aim of more green energy beams lancing all about them.

    There were just too many of them for an unarmed old rebuilt saucer and a wounded one armed, one legged woman, no matter how powerful she was. Knowing her end was upon her, Val gave herself at last to her Luck, sinking into Slow-Time as deep as she could. Just maybe Ollie would abandon this hopeless fight with her gone. Perhaps he could even save the kids she loved so much too.

    Letting her talent guide her, she let herself slide almost off the edge, a bolt of Gray-made green lightning struck her but most of the power of the blow glanced off her screen. Looking behind them, she saw one SPAD that so caught her attention it seemed to almost have a spotlight upon it. In slow motion, it lined itself behind them, and she knew that this was the one. Turning to face Ollie in his bubble, Val smiled, sending off all of her love for the friendship they shared.

    Even the speed of thought crawled, this deep into Slow-Time, as she felt his puzzlement and then his alarm. At her Luck’s cue, still smiling, she released her grip upon The Rocket and threw herself into the path of the emerald volley of death meant for her friend.

***

    Ollie felt his heart skip a beat as he saw his friend shielding them with her body. Then he felt Val’s message. There were no words. Just the love and friendship they’d shared for so many years. At first he was confused by it, as he was busily trying to fight them free of the pack of vicious predators snapping at their heels.

    Then his heart stopped altogether in horror when the Gray saw her slip free and fall into the oncoming blasts.

    He slammed The Rocket into a hard bank, looking for signs of his friend. The pack of killers had split to the left and right, spiraling down after her, leaving only two to go after him. It was clear that Val was their target and they meant to make sure of her death.

    He discarded one plan after another for rescuing her as the numbers told him the truth he refused to acknowledge. As a child he could do nothing, as his parents died in this very same saucer. Later, he was helpless to stop Gus from transforming into Kiloton and murdering his own friends. Even worse he, the telepath, was unable to help Jeff as he destroyed himself with guilt. Now it was happening again.

    Big Mac over their interface queried, “Ollie? There is nothing more we can do. We must think of the others.”

    The grief-stricken Gray was about to reply when suddenly a huge ball of light erupted from the ground, racing upwards towards his friend! The Rocket’s gravitics went haywire and Ollie was abruptly fighting for control. A part of him noticed the ULTIMATE killers were even in more dire straits, as their pilots fought the same battle without the aid of his direct neuro-interface.

    The gravitic anomaly unerringly homed in on Val’s falling body, impacting her in a blinding brilliant explosion of light.

    “Ollie!” A worried Big Mac warned, as their malfunctioning drive threw them across the sky, out of control .

***

        The explosives crushed the fissionable material into a dense ball. What would had been a carefully calculated fireball designed to take out Area 61 was instead a much smaller one. The radiation and EMP of this bomb was enhanced to kill any life forms and wipe all forms of electronics within the base. That too was much reduced in part due to the nature of the Vaults themselves. Meant from the start to be the most secure storage possible for the most dangerous kinds of projects, they were built as strongly as possible. The only danger to them was the self-destruct device, whose yield was more than enough to take out the vaults and the rest of the base. At the much reduced explosive power caused by Gus Glenn, they were stout enough to contain much of the resultant damage.

    The decades worth of accumulated dangerous devices as well as the fusion reactors were untouched by the fireball and so failed to add their power to the explosion. Although smoky and more than a little ‘hot’ from radioactivity, Area 61 survived. 

    The refugees trapped topside were thrown off their feet but otherwise unharmed. The same could not be said of General Robert Ulysses Laramie. He was vaporized by the still powerful atomic fizzle. Gus Glenn’s body was also flashed to steam, but even so, he almost survived as a disembodied energy field. Energy and matter are after all only different forms of each other.

    Gus had estimated his chances of survival without taking into account his last exposure to the Z-Ray 9 and the abilities he’d received from Joyce.  It wasn’t quite enough to transform him back into Kiloton but it gave him a few extra seconds the deceased General did not have.

    Gus Glenn in his moments remembered how he’d felt when Joyce’s essence had come to him when she’d died. He’d experienced all her fear and pain as if it was his own. She’d been just a scared, frightened young girl, who he’d loved as his little sister. Knowing and feeling how she’d died enraged him to the point of madness.

    Somehow he knew that Alan, Val now, would receive his essence now in the same way. He was certain he didn’t want his beloved younger sister to feel more pain or hurt. With all of his heart, he gathered all of the love and affection he felt and held it tight to him as his final gift to her. Unable to maintain a stable matrix, his energy field flickered and power roared out of him as he died.

    Rather than cause yet another explosion, it was promptly sucked up into an indescribable vortex of inter-dimensional limitless potentials, as strange and dark matter swirled like batter in a cosmic mixing bowl. Like lightning drawn to a mountain top it flew, ignoring mere solid matter as inconsequential obstacles to Valentina Zarya Savitskaya.

    Multi-dimensional energies raged as potentials and probabilities ran wild. Captain Blazzar’s energy powers and Sensation’s physical powerhouse abilities merged with the ones the person once known as Alan Glenn already carried; The Cat’s speed, acrobatics, and grace; The Sharpshooter’s heightened senses, hand eye coordination, and the precognition/recognition no one knew he had; Fortune’s Luck and probability control, as well as all of their mutant boosted physical characteristics.  All of those were added to Alan’s own supra-speed, healing and physical prowess. Each and every one of them enhanced by Dr. McClellan’s Z-Ray, not once, but many times, making The Rocketeers some of the most formidable supra-metas of their time.

    Last but not least was the young girl with no name. Saul Simpson’s clone of Elizabeth Tyree. A shadow made whole by the energies pumped into her by the Z-Ray, she’d died when the device’s full power had been turned upon her, striving to make her even more powerful. It was an attempt to make perhaps one of the most powerful mutants of her generation even more powerful. One that’d failed and the more powerful setting added her matrix to the mix along with the others.

    All of that poured into the woman who had made many life changing choices during her life, the decision to be the woman her heart told her she was, the resolve to help others avoid the same fate as herself. But perhaps the most important choice of all was giving every last bit of herself to her Luck in order to save her friends and companions.

    The most likely outcome was for her to simply cease to be. It was just too much for anyone, anything to handle. She would unravel like rotten cloth. The next possibility was to almost contain it and explode, dwarfing the one Kiloton had so recently caused. However all of that hadn’t reckoned on the probability-slaying power of Fortune. Valentina had at last surrendered to That-Which-Mangles-All-The-Odds. Then like the song said, Anything Goes.

    The seven different patterns merged into one. No more would they be bits and parts, separate from her, but now one single archetype that is so much more than the sum of their beginnings. Her years of going back and forth between Alan and Val in a kind of pseudo-shape shifting gave her yet another gift. Now she really did possess the form changing talent, but unlike Billie, her choices of physical form were limited to mixing and matching those characteristics of her power donors. 

    All this happened as she fell to earth. The Gray-built drives powering the craft about her teetered near failure as the fabric of multidimensional space itself was disrupted by the event.

    Still blazing with a corona of transformational energy, Valentina Zarya Savitskaya fell to the earth strangely gently, as the fading power warped the physical laws about her. As the last glimmers of that eccentric light vanished, she opened her eyes.

***     

        Val found herself in nearly a perfectly smooth circular depression that gleamed with a mirror’s perfection. Her armored black uniform was in torn tatters. The smell of ozone wafted about her as she blinked away her confusion. Pulling off her ruined helmet, she shook her head, trying to shake away her cobwebs. A wistful sadness filled her and she tried to remember why.

    Memories not her own came to her. Of the activated nuke ticking away under their feet. Of her brother realizing that he couldn’t stop it, but might possibly be able to keep it from hurting others, like a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save his comrades. The final gift of caring and love that he sent to her knowing he was going to die.

    Tears welled up again. So much had happened in such a short time. It started as a tiny grain but grew in strength and power until it filled her to overflowing.

    “My brother is dead!” Valentina Zarya Savitskaya screamed her grief to the stormy heavens. 

    Power flowed out of her, lifting her into the sky on a pillar of incandescent fire. Anger and sorrow tore out of her as she blazed like a new star. The storm clouds above her spontaneously vaporized, clearing a halo of crisp blue sky crowning her grief.

    The saucers that’d so persistently hunted her came for her yet again. Wobbling in the air but stubbornly persistent, they opened fired. This time it was their blasts that splashed uselessly upon her defenses, unable to get past her blazing corona of fire.

    A wave of her hand sent a scorching ball of super heated plasma at one, turning it into a flaming wreck. Fury filled her! They wanted to kill her? She would show them killing! The energy burning about her blazed white as she gathered even more power to her.

“Val, no!” A voice tried to reach her. “Don’t give in to your anger! Don’t make Gus’s mistake. Don’t let it control you!”

    She shook her head, wanting only to hurt those who’d cause her pain.

“It’s Ollie, Val,” he pleaded with her. “Please don’t do this!”

    Val could see exactly how to do it. All she would have to do is twist the energy just like so.

    Lost in her pain, she didn’t notice the flying object until it was almost right on top of her. In reflex she almost lashed out at it.

    “Miss Val?” Lizzie asked worriedly. “Are you all right?” The little girl hovered in front of her.

    The simple caring question made her stop doing something that would have harmed friend and foe alike. Oh Gawd she hurt. All these years, and now after finding her brother alive, she’d lost him forever. A whisper reminded her of the love Gus sent along with this latest quickening. He would always be with her.

    Lizzie continued on. “I’ve been help’en stop the bullies from hurting anyone but there’re so many!”

“Val?” Ollie asked mentally.

    The grieving woman managed at last. “I’m okay Ollie. I’m not about to go blowing up everything, but Lizzie has a point about these bullies of hers.  If you would excuse me, I think she could use some help.”

    Smiling wanly at the 6 year old, she replied, “I’m alright Lizzie, but you’re right about all those bullies. Why don’t you and I do something about that?”

***

    The V-22c Tilt-rotor roared towards its targets. Turbulence from the unnatural weather jerked the lead ship around, as the flight of three specially armed dropships followed.

    Colonel Randolph Hodges stared at his instruments as they counted down the range. His ground forces had forced the mutie scum back to the very gates of Area 61. The next step was for his special weapon birds to make their deliveries. The Bio-weapons and gas had to be put precisely on target due to the local weather conditions that damn mutant girl had stirred up. Being heavier than air, the deadly agents would sink down into this gene-tainted demon’s lair of traitors to the human race.

    He wasn’t sure what had happened behind him when he’d lost contact with his SPAD interceptors. Their superior equipment let him have some contact but now he’d lost that to.

    With a loud pop, an electrical shock threw him back into his seat, his panel died!

    “No!” he yelled. He knew his career and reputation were going to be trashed because of this, but let it not be for nothing.

    “Launch!” he commanded in panic.

    His pilot yelled back at him. “We can’t! Everything is out. Power and both engines are dead! Brace for impact!”

    It was an axiom that pilots never use the word crash. Auger in, impact zone, and every other word in the dictionary, but not crash. The crushing blow as his V-22c impacted knocked the breath right out of him.

    Wiping the blood from a cut to his head away he staggered out of the wreck. It was too damn bad that he couldn’t wear a Peacemaker. Although a talented operator could do just about anything an unarmored man could in one, the fine dexterity necessary to use the Command, Communications and Control, C3, equipment was impossible. Not only for him but for his staff as well. If he’d been wearing a suit he wouldn’t have suffered a scratch. Up ahead, he saw a few hated mutants come out of their hole in the ground. They were looking skyward and so he followed their gaze.

    A flying woman and a girl mu-tainted were sweeping across the battlefield. As they flew the woman sprayed crackling beams from her hands at his brave men in their machines. They didn’t explode or burst into flames but their war machines fell into useless heaps as they ceased working.

    Another ‘NO’ echoed from deep in his soul. This couldn’t be happening. They’d come so close!

    A choking sound made him turn around. His aide, Major Baka, had fallen, his face locked into a mask of pain as he suffocated.

    Panicked the Colonel looked around him and saw to his horror that the special mission aircraft had all crashed around his. Oh my Gawd, the Bio-weapons! One of them must have gotten damaged in the crash. Turning, he made not three steps before he too fell, gasping for precious air. Then there was only darkness and the fate he’d earned.

***

Shimmy 32-the end

This is the conclusion to Shimmy. Laura and Ricki get to talk to
their dad. They meet their Mom in New York and say goodbye to their
Dad.

Shimmy

by

Paula Dillon

Chapter 32

Sunday, Ricki got up early and took a nice long bubble bath, before
getting dressed and fixing everybody’s breakfast. Susan came down
wearing a robe and began helping. She and Ricki had been sleeping
together (all they were doing was sleeping together) every night, since
the attempted rape. They could hear the other girls moving around from
the kitchen.

Susan was just setting the table, when the condo’s phone rang. Ricki was nearest, so she answered it.

Nat and the Telepath (part 2 of 2)

(c) 2008 by Trismegistus Shandy

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. I.e., feel free to repost or mirror it unmodified on any noncommercial website or mailing list.


Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Montreal... They rarely spent more than two days in one place. Every few days they would find a poker game or sell their last vehicle for more than it was worth and buy a new one. In St. Louis, they cleaned up at a riverfront casino; in Cleveland, Timothy had Nat use her power to make Mary and Carla into men, so they could come with him to join a men's poker game. None of them won suspiciously much by themselves, and they had all come in separately and pretended they didn't know each other. Timothy was getting more confident with his powers, and gave Sarah and Nat, waiting in the van parked two blocks away, full sensory linkage to the players. Janice could listen in on her own, but preferred to listen to the radio.

Unpresentable Heroes (part 3 of 3)

(c) 2007 Trismegistus Shandy

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. I.e., feel free to repost or mirror it unmodified on any noncommercial website or mailing list.

This story was first posted to the tg_fiction mailing list in mid-2007, then to Shifti.org.  It's the first of at least five stories about Nat Holcomb; I'm serializing the fourth on the tg_fiction list at the moment, the first draft of the fifth is finished and awaiting revision, and I have some ideas about a sixth story I haven't really started yet.

Pretty Please -6- Kobayashi Maru

rose

Pretty, Please!

Chapter Six ~ Kobayashi Maru

By Sasha Zarya Nexus


Will Josh come to his senses after finding out Rose's secret?

How Could She Refuse -21-28-

Hertz So Good


"Frankie
Al Nez will pay my rent, pay for my schooling, give me an allowance and
all I have to do is dress like this" --Davey gestured at his tight
leather dress-- "and read to him?"

"Or whatever else he wants," agreed Larry.

"That part scares me."

Larry shrugged. "It's going to be better if you take the deal."

"I don't have a choice, do I?"

"Not really."

"What else might he want?"

"No idea. But the boss isn't a bad man."

"Could have fooled me," Davey muttered. Still, he hadn't been hurt -- except for the waxing, that did hurt.



Would You Believe?



"What do I tell my folks?" asked Davey.

"Tell them as much or as little as you want," said Larry. "Whatever you say, they're going to find it hard to believe."

Davey nodded. He noticed a phone hanging from the wall in the kitchenette. "Can I use that?" he asked.

"It's your phone."

Davey spoke wih his mother for a few minutes, telling her only that he'd found a new place to stay in a nicer part of town.

Larry went to answer the door. Davey had just hung up when he heard Little Ruby's musical contralto, "Baby, Mommy's home!"



So Fine


"What are you doing here, Ruby?" Davey wanted to know.

"Sugah,

Blue Moon 14.5 - Coda

Blue Moon 14.5
Blue Moon
by Donna Lamb