“How are the tests coming?”
The scientist avoided the man's steel glare; he felt dirty working on this project. It was not his place to play God, and yet here he was. His gaze turned to the large glass cylinder behind his boss and a look of sorrow crossed his brow.
“Combat testing has proved astonishingly successful,” he finally replied. “The project is coming along faster than any of us predicted.”
“Psych status?” Cold, clinical. The scientist thought his boss would be better in a lab coat than the gaudy chartreuse suit hanging from his thin frame now.
“Mild delusions,” the scientist confirmed, “but compared to the earlier subjects, she is much more stable. No risk of a synapse singularity, unlike the others.”
His boss nodded. “They were a happy accident, though. Excellent foot soldiers once we...removed the offending issue.”
The scientist shuddered. Lobotomies.
The man in green walked towards the cylinder containing the test subject, placing his hand softly on the case. The petite, strawberry blonde woman suspended within snapped her eyes open, her hand slamming against the other side of the glass. She gave him a pleading look and he smiled.
“Soon,” he told her. “We'll let you out again soon...Herald of Omega.”
This Season, on DarkWatch...
“Good morning, 88.”
“For the last time, my name is Elliot.”
“The Darkwatch Institute is the first and last line between the sun coming up tomorrow and Hell on Earth. Sometimes three people stop the world from ending twice before breakfast. In order to do our jobs, we can’t afford screw ups, especially of this magnitude. Do you understand?”
Their jobs are just trapping and killing, she thought as another mouthful of the warm, bitter liquid swished around her mouth. My job is so much more complicated.
“Is it that hard to believe?”
The nurse giggled. “With everything I see day in day out, I believe just about anything.”
“Alright...” Elliot gripped his batons and bent his knees in an amateurish preparatory stance.
He focused intensely on where Imogen was standing as she gave him a malicious sneer, and then she was gone. He tried to follow, but instead he felt a sharp pain to the back of his left knee. When Imogen's foot connected with his leg, he felt a slight tingling sensation as he fell to the floor. He rolled onto his back and saw Imogen towering over him, one of his batons in her hand, pointing it down at his head in a point-blank mimic of a handgun.
“Good, you shifted this time,” Imogen spat, lowering the baton and offering her hand to help Elliot to his feet. He again felt the strange tingling sensation as Imogen shifted them into real-time.
“This must be the rookie,” Genny smiled, eyes still closed, as her hands pointed towards Elliot.
“Something the matter?” Gloria recognized the look, and stepped towards her friend.
“No,” Genny looked Elliot up and down with a measured scrutiny. “Just...something I've never seen before.”
Vesta snarled. “People are dead, Zeb. Dead. These are your own men, and all you care about is finding a stupid rock. What gives?”
“Vesta, please,” Zebediah stepped close to her, putting a tender hand on her shoulder, which she flinched away from. “I do not condone senseless killing, and I was responsible for these men...that's on my conscience.”
“And through the Ark, a man descends/the start of beginnings, the beginnings of ends/Born of Corruption, the Omega will rend/the world above and below us, well beyond mend. Have you ever heard that before?
“Yeah,” the young man nodded. “It's an old children's rhyme, isn't it?”
The man shook his head. “Not just that. That's a prophecy, lad.”
“Aw, shucks, lady,” Austin Thaddeus laughed, then coughed as he inhaled a chunk of smoke. He waved his hand at it and it seemed to suck itself back into the room from which it came. “I didn't blow anything up.”
“Nooooo?” Gertrude raised her eyebrows and looked over her horn-rimmed glasses.
“Well, nothing I can't put back together.”
He waved his hands again, and the remaining smoke whisked into nothing, and a strange sound like shattering came from the room in front of him.
“Austin Thaddeus, you will be the death of us all...”
Elliot's hands went to his neck in a reflex to remove the object constricting his trachea, but his fingers clawed uselessly at nothing. He continued sliding up the wall and his face began to redden from oxygen deprivation.
“Elliot!” Imogen called, trying to climb over the table to get to him. Luke's other hand went out, grabbed her by the neck, and threw her head-first into the side of the table. She crumpled to the floor, unconscious.
With a final surge of energy, Elliot threw his fingertips to point at Luke, but the boy just grinned at him. The wall behind Luke shook and chunks of plaster fell. Elliot grunted against the vice about his neck, his hands scrambling to pick up something, anything, to get Luke to stop.
“Can you hand me one of those grenades?”
Imogen fished into her pocket and tossed one of the green metal orbs to Elliot. He didn't realize how heavy they were.
“Thanks. I'm going to need you guys to distract him for a minute.”
Tal scowled. “What are you doing?”
Elliot looked at the Brit and grinned. “Something horribly stupid.”
“So, where's the issue?”
“Seems to be Vault Zero Zero Zero Three.”
Zeb's breath caught in his throat. Oh, bloody hell. “The Ark?”
“Yes sir.” The tech highlighted several entries in the log, bringing them to Zeb's attention. “It seems that the containment field is under more stress than usual so its drawing more power.”
Zeb released the rest of his breath quietly. Traces of the Corruption having a reaction with the Ark.
“There are people in the world with...interesting abilities. You've met a few of them, I'm sure. There's also objects that allow their wielders to survive amazing things or not have to eat for a week. DarkWatch exists in part to help us understand these anomalies.”
“Multiple contacts are breaching through the Ark! Outbreak!” another voice chimed in.
“Shit,” Zeb muttered. “Deploy all security forces. We need to get all non-combatants to the shelters ASAP!”
“My name is Zebediah Patrick MacPherson,” the man said, tipping is fedora to Elliot. “Welcome to DarkWatch, Mr. Washington.”