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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 1 Pt 1

05/17/2017

AEGIS Agent Amelia Van den Broeke appears on scene to witness the wreckage caused by fight between individuals with extraordinary abilities. There she finds Everett Howard, an ordinary old man, unconscious, the only living witness to this attack. What follows will change both of their lives in ways neither could have ever foreseen and forever intertwine their fates.

Author's Note

Here it is! The first part of my weekly serial. I do feel I should warn folks that the titular character and protagonist starts out as a particularly hateful and racist bigot,  but needless to say he will be singing a different tune by the end of his ordeals.

I avoided using any overtly offensive terms or slurs, but Everett’s opinions are offensive in and of themselves. His views DO NOT reflect my own, so please don’t take them as so.


Official Report
February 15, 2016
Corner of 200 N Massachusetts Ave
New Hebron, California

A woman stepped out into the cold night, frost blowing out from her mouth as she surveyed the scene. A flickering street light gave off enough light to illuminate the street. Bricks, from a collapsed building had been scattered all over the place, and the wrecks from at least half a dozen cars. Those buildings that remained intact were ramshackle affairs, with boarded-up windows and doors which were no doubt havens to squatters and the like.

It wasn’t the best part of town, but then again in New Hebron there weren’t many good areas. The recession had hit the city hard and even after many parts of the nation had seen a turnaround New Hebron had never recovered. When the economy takes a hit, there are always higher crime rates, and the same was true of exemplar related criminal activity. That’s why AEGIS had such a strong presence in the area.

With a long sigh, she massaged the crest of her nose and stepped away from the car. It was rare enough to get a Friday night off, but when she did, it was, as usual, interrupted. This time proved no exception. Alex, her partner, had been furious, but in her line of work saying ‘no’ wasn’t an option.

She looked around and shook her head. It was better to keep her mind on the task at hand than to let it get clouded with personal issues when danger may be lurking in the shadows. When she considered all the wreckage, her first impression was that there had been a natural disaster or a particularly bad automobile accident, but Amelia knew better. They wouldn’t have called her in if either had been the case.

Red and blue lights flashed, casting the surrounding area in an unnatural glow, and she moved toward their source with furtive steps. They must have only just beat her as none of the officers on scene had put up crime tape. “Ma’am, you’ve entered a crime scene. You need to leave the area immediately.”

She cast a reassuring smile as she stopped dead in her tracks. “I’m Amelia van den Broeke with AEGIS. I’m here to investigate reports of an exemplar attack.”

The officer nodded and glanced back over his shoulder, toward a cluster of his fellow. “Sorry, but I’ll have to see some ID.”

Amelia slipped a hand inside her jacket and produced a badge which she flipped open with a flick of her wrist. Satisfied that the officer had gotten a good enough glimpse she slid the badge back into her coat and dropped her hands.

“Sorry, Agent you can never be too careful. Last week I stopped a spook who claimed to be looking for UFOs. He said he was with the FBI, but turns out he was just some crazy asshole.”

“Officer Harris, is it?” Amelia said leaning in to glance at the name badge on his shirt. “Why don’t we get down to business?”

Amelia jumped when she caught movement out of the corner of her eye, but when she turned to investigate, it proved to be nothing more than a pair of officers putting up caution tape. She gritted her teeth and stepped forward, her cheeks burning as she met Harris’ gaze. His featured remained blank, and he didn’t say a word as he stepped into sync with her, but somehow she got the impression it amused him.

“There’s, uh, something over this way, that you’ll probably want to see,” he threw his thumb over his shoulder to a portion of the street drowned in shadows. “One of your AEGIS friends is already on scene.”

“Thank you, officer. I can find my way.” She stepped forward, moving into the shadows with quick and furtive steps. She didn’t glance back or give Harris any more thought. The police knew to keep out of AEGIS’ way and to keep onlookers out of a crime scene.

“Van den Broeke,” a steady voice called out from the darkness and she stepped toward it her eyes adjusting as it enveloped her. She stepped through a cloud of dark mist that floated through the air like ink through water, but after a few steps it cleared giving way to a portion of street dimly lit by moonlight.

Another person, might have found the experience disconcerting, but Amelia knew what to expect. The darkness was not natural. It was a projection created by Matthews abilities.

“Sir,” she said kneeling down next to him.

He didn’t speak, instead allowing his subordinate to survey the scene. She did just that her breath catching in her throat as she took it all in. A figure, or perhaps a sculpture, composed of ice lay on the ground, one hand gripping that of an old man. Breathtaking, exquisite in every detail. So lifelike was her countenance that Amelia had trouble believing any human hand had sculpted her, but she neither could she accept she was anything beyond a simple lump of frozen water.

She looked into the sculpture’s eyes, taking in every minute detail, from her long and delicate eyelashes to texture of her iris. Amelia reached out with her mind, sensing a faint connection to the past. The woman was beautiful in a terrible, unearthly way, but there was just something so innocent and appealing about her wide-set eyes that Amelia wasn’t able to turn away. Even once she’d come to the startling revelation, supplied by her abilities, her eyes remained glued on her frosty visage.

The woman had once been a living thinking being. She was looking at a corpse. Whether that had to do with her current icy condition, Amelia couldn’t say, but regardless she was dead.

Swallowing hard, looked away and turned her attention to the old man. Ordinary in every sense of the word, he would have blended into a crowd in just about any part of the country without drawing attention. She had no idea what part he might have played in the confrontation, but something told her he might still be of some importance.

“Any impressions?” Matthews whispered on the wind.

She nodded, bit her lips and opened herself up. The world disappeared with a suddenness that might have been startling if she hadn’t experienced so many times before. The same could not be said for what followed.

 

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 1 Pt 2

05/23/2017


Official Report
Corner of 200 N Massachusetts Ave
New Hebron, California

Bright images stuttered, blurred and quavered. The night itself seemed to shake as Amelia’s mind touched a presence so brilliant she almost lost her concentration. At the last moment, she gritted her teeth and steadied her breath. The vision solidified with one last brilliant flash before resolving itself into an image of the same street where they had found the old man and the ice sculpture.

She was looking upon past events, and despite being muddied by the strange amber hue that addled her perceptions of those incidences witnessed through the lens of time, they often proved an invaluable tool to her work as an investigator. A slow repetitive intonation, which Amelia recognized as laughter, distorted by the vision, wafted through the air as the agent navigated through the debris. Sound, was often garbled and always unintelligible altogether when Amelia was ‘viewing’, but she had used her abilities on such a regular basis she’d learned to distinguish certain sounds with a fair amount of ease.

A figure, far taller than any human had the right to be, hung back in the shadows. Dozens of eye-shaped lights gave off just enough illumination to reveal the being’s hulking mass, but little else. At first, Amelia jumped to the obvious conclusion, that this creature, or whatever it was, had caused the chaos and destruction of which she had witnessed the aftermath. When she, again, heard the distorted sound of laughter and turned to gaze on the source she knew she’d been wrong.

A second figure, this time an otherwise ordinary-looking man in an AEGIS lab coat, sent out waves of destruction with a simple flick of his wrists as he hovered in the air above. A third person raced toward him, her form illuminated by a soft glow which seemed to radiate from her skin or perhaps even deeper. She came closer and Amelia shook her head as she took in her features.

She was beautiful, but in an ethereal and elemental sort of way almost as if she were a force of nature itself. Her sea-green hair cascaded down her shoulders like waves crashing against an embankment of rocks and her eyes glowed like two sapphires cast into the most brilliant light. She moved with a fluid grace as if dancing to some silent tune and each step she took was so perfect it must have been choreographed.

A cold chill trickled down Amelia’s spine when the woman turned her body and she got her first good look at the woman’s shoulder and arm, which seemed to be made of ice. Her face was the perfect likeness of the ice sculpture from the crime scene and when she saw her Amelia could only come to one inescapable conclusion, the carving and the current subject of her attention were the same.

Before the agent, ruminating further, her feet lost purchase, and she screamed out believing she was falling, but as her arms and legs flailed about she realized that she was moving in the wrong direction. She zoomed above the wreckage at a dizzying speed before stopping in mid-air and came face to face with the visage of the hovering man.

Amelia had no tangible form within the visions and could not interact with anything she witnessed since she was an observer to events that had already passed. The people she saw were shadows of the true person imprinted upon an item present during those events, in this case Mr. Howard’s clothing. They were not living, breathing, thinking beings who were aware of anything besides the events that were playing out. There was no way they could be aware of her presence, but as she looked into the man’s eyes she swallowed hard. This time it was different.

He held his hand out then closed it, drawing it in so it was just a few inches away from his chest. Amelia floated toward him, gasping for breath as she felt her chest tighten. The amber-tinged cast of the vision faded away, replaced by the tones and colors of the real world and she squirmed to break free.

The man’s face contorted into a smile so tight it gave him an inhuman, almost ghoulish, appearance, and when a high-pitched shrieking laugh pierced the air. Amelia shuddered as she drew closer to the man’s skeletal frame.

She caught movement out of the corner of her eyes, but couldn’t turn her head to get a good enough view. She suspected that it was the old man, but she had no way of knowing for sure.

“Have you been enjoying the show?”

He clenched his hand tighter and her chest constricted until she could barely draw in a breath. His grin stretched even tighter, and she turned away unable to gaze into those eyes. There was an intensity, a hatred, so deep, so overwhelming that it was far beyond any level of malevolence she would have never believed possible. She let out a scream, squirming in his invisible hold as sweat and tears cascaded down her face and from her pores.

“GET OUT!”

His voice was so loud that covering her ears did little to block out the sound. When he threw his hands out, the vision blinked out, and shattered with enough force to send Amelia hurtling across the empty street.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 1 Pt 3

05/31/2017


Official Report
Corner of 200 N Massachusetts Ave
New Hebron, California

Amelia gasped sitting bolt upright as Matthews came rushing toward her. “Agent, what happened?”

She grunted as she climbed to her feet and returned her gaze to her superior. “I-I’m not really sure. There was a strong enough imprint on the old man’s clothes I was able to get a fairly clear viewing, but…”

She trailed off, pulling her hair away from her face, and bit her lip as her hands brushed against something damp… blood trickling from her ears.

“Agent?”

She let her hair fall back into place and glanced over her shoulder at the sculpture of the woman. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. There was a man in a lab coat, one of ours, a woman who looked remarkably like that sculpture, and something big lurking in the shadows. I caught movement in the background. It might have been the old man.”

“The man in the AEGIS lab coat seemed to have some sort of telekinetic abilities. He was sending out waves of destruction with his hands. He saw me, sir.”

“Saw you, how?” He asked raising a hand to his temple. The ribbon of darkness that surrounded them, swirled and accelerated in a dizzying spin before dissolving into the calm night air.

“I-I don’t know, sir. Nothing like this has ever happened before. I’ve never been able to interact with the subjects of the vision until now. I think we’re dealing with a powerful exemplar. Maybe a precog of some sort.”

Matthews nodded and turned back to the corpse and old man’s unconscious form. “I checked him for ID, looks like our friend here is one Everett Howard. An ambulance should be on scene any moment now. We’ll need keep an eye on him until I can get a guard rotation set up with the local PD.”

“Is that really necessary, sir?” Amelia shuddered and slipped her hands inside her coat pockets.

“We’re not operating with a lot of information, agent. This man is only survivor and our best chance at finding out what the hell happened here. If we’re dealing with the perp I think we are, this person or persons don’t often leave survivors. This man’s life could be in terrible danger.” He said climbing to his feet and turning to cast his eyes around the crime scene.

“S-sir?”

“It’s damn near time you found out, anyway. For some time now AEGIS has been aware of a number of events associated with the name Chemosh. We don’t know if this is one person or a collection of individuals, but this incident coupled with the one at our research facility earlier in the night fits the established MO.”

Chemosh? Amelia blinked why did that name sound so familiar?

“Sir, if there was an attack at one of our facilities why wasn’t I told? I may not have been able to get a good read on this particular attack, but—”

“Agent,” he said bring a hand up and rested it on her shoulder. “The existence of the facility is on a need-to-know basis and until this moment there was no reason for you to know be aware of its existence. Besides, I won’t risk one of my best agents when it’s abundantly clear that your retro-cognizance isn’t going to be of use when dealing with this threat. If you try to view again, there’s no telling what might happen.”

“Sir, I’m willing to take the risk sir if there’s even a chance I can get to the bottom of this.”

He looked her in the eyes and shook his head. “I’m not sure I am, agent. We’ll have a doctor look you over and if I’m satisfied there is no risk to your health, then I will consider it. Until then, you will follow my orders. Is that clear, agent?”

“Crystal clear, sir. What about the old man? Do you think he’s just a bystander or is he involved in this… shit fest?”

“My gut tells me he’s just an innocent, but it never hurts to be cautious. I’ve got some of our boys back at the field office running a background check now.”

“And if we need to contain him, sir?”

Matthew spun around and met her gaze before shaking his head and turning away again. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Our medical facilities adjoined the lab that was attacked and are in disarray. Best-case scenario, they won’t be available for several weeks. I’m having him taken to the County General. If it comes to it, I’ll contain the whole damn hospital. He just needs to be kept safe and, if necessary, in line until this mess is puzzled out.”

Matthews moved away, to talk with the officers on scene and Amelia shivered against a new onslaught of wind. She folded her arms across her chest and bit her lip, feeling her teeth chatter as she waited for her superior to finish up. She grimaced and looked down at her dress and wished she’d chosen something a little warmer.  She’d wanted to look good for her date and hadn’t been expecting to spend much time in the cold.

It would be one damn long night. She slipped her hand inside her coat and reached for her holster to ensure that the button was unclasped to allow for a quick draw. She may have been safe at the moment, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that things might take a sour turn in the blink of an eye and she intended to be ready if they did.

As Matthews returned, she zipped her coat back up and turned to meet him. He approached, giving no sign of discomfort even as a torrent of wind blasted through the street strong enough to threatened Amelia’s modesty. He continued on, giving no outward sign he noticed.

“I want you to ride with Mr. Howard. The sooner the doctor’s have a look at you and make sure there were no ill effects from this incident, the better.” he said his eyes trained on something behind Amelia’s shoulder.

She turned to follow his gaze, just in time to witness the ambulance pull up to the edge of the crime scene. She glanced back at Matthews ready to protest, but stopped short when she looked into his eyes. There wasn’t any doubt in her mind, that his statement had been an order, not a request. She nodded, bit her lip and moved toward the pair of rescue workers as they arrived on scene. From there the night descended into tedium and as the paramedics did their work, first with the old man then herself. Amelia sighed and let them at it. She’d been right in at least one respect, it was turning out to be a long night.