Exodus: Mania

It’s hard to keep track of time when you’re trapped in a room with no clock, window, or other person to talk to.  

The only thing I could do was look up at the light or one of the bleached walls and contemplate my grotesque failure that might have cost Ragdoll and Transport everything.  I should have probably just let myself die; Flagbearers had come along with Murphy and I as a gesture of politeness more than anything and we had gotten them captured by Snatchers.  

All because you won’t feed me. 

“I can’t feed you,” I muttered, “Even if I wanted to.  Which I don’t.”  

I pushed myself up from the corner and limped forward, the muscle still swollen from where Snatchers had taken chunks of muscle for a tissue sample.  Since then, I’d been alone, but I had no idea for how long. All I knew for sure was that our deadline until the Trillodan’s arrival was getting closer and no one had any clue where we were.  

Except maybe Almanac; one of Titan’s Adapted that he’d deliberately kept hidden from the world to avoid attracting the watchful eyes of the Trillodan.  And as far as we all knew, Titan had succeeded in keeping his trump card safe. Odds are if the Trillodan knew that we had someone who could find their home world, they wouldn’t take the time to survey and study us.  

Instead, they’d probably exterminate us and Zari in one dramatic display of power.  No one beat the Trillodan, and anyone who could start to posture and present as a threat were quickly culled.  

Since we weren’t boiling in our skin, we were in the clear, or so I hoped.   

However, being stuck here wasn’t allowing me to really celebrate our continued survival. 

At least my best friend had managed to sneak away.  Even though he harped on his own power, the passenger in his body kept him from this horrendous fate.   

“At least Alexis will get to keep one friend.”  

My head snapped to the immense metal door as I heard the lock snap open.  While the promise of interacting with someone was a blessing, knowing it was likely someone coming in with a needle to take more samples of my body put a damper on things.  

As it swung open, I pressed myself further into the corner and glared at the trio of men who walked in.  Of course Josh-the bastard who’d drawn blood from me earlier and likely the lead researcher of this installation-was at the forefront; what did admittedly pique my interest was a seeming lack of medical tools or devices for collecting samples.  

All they were holding was what looked like a plate wrapped in tinfoil.  

“What are you doing?” 

Wordlessly, he dropped the plate on the ground and kicked it over to me.  Without looking away from his intense glare, I ripped the tinfoil away and saw a massive slab of meat on the plate.  

Two and a half kilograms.  

“Eat.” 

I could feel my skin crawl as I looked down at the slab of protein I’d been provided; did they know what the hell they were doing?  

That could give you a hundred kilograms of mass.  Those tasers wouldn’t be enough to bring us down. Eat it.  

I shook my head, both to my Adaptation and to Josh.  “No. I won’t do that.”  

His frustration was palpable as he stomped across the room, grabbing the lump of meat and literally slapping me in the face with it.  “I said, eat!” He slammed it against my face and held down, nearly smothering me. “You will use your fucking gift, you will let us take samples of it, and you will make up for what you did tonight by being useful to us.  Now, chow down!” He stood up and let me catch my breath.  

Shaking, I managed to get up to my feet and gaze back into the fierce glare of Josh.  “You don’t know what is gonna happen once I eat that. You won’t be able to control me, and you won’t be able to sample me either.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

I raised my hands defensively as he took a step closer, invading my personal space.  “When the stuff is disconnected from me, it turns to dust!”

“All night we saw you throwing out those growths that chased people down.  Try a different lie,” one of the enforcers replied as they stepped closer, boxing me into the corner.

“Mutations,” I said quickly, “Mutations develop the longer that I get to hold the Neklim and the larger I get.  I’d need more meat than this to hold any amount of size for long.” I looked back at him, pleading, “Don’t do this.”  

 Josh glared at me, “How about you shut up and comply?”  With a full body swing, he hit me upside the face with the slab of meat.  Under a lot of other circumstances, that might have been a hilarious joke or something that I could have seen Murphy having a laugh about.  

For as ridiculous as it seemed, it fucking hurt.  

However, it was nothing compared to the pain from the two enforcers being given the go-ahead to rough me up some more.  I was too weak to stand up for myself against two grown men with kevlar-reinforced gloves; a few hits left me on the ground with blood oozing from my lips and bruises already taking form across my midsection.  

I slumped down into the corner, the edges of my vision blurring as my body tried desperately to settle its equilibrium.  “Let’s try this again,” Josh whispered as he knelt down beside me, “Eat up.”
Do itI can heal you if you eat.  

“N-”

Josh jammed the slab into my mouth, using his free hand to pry open my jaw; I tried to squirm and push him off me as I started seeing spots in my vision.  “I’m sorry, but maybe you don’t understand the time crunch here,” he snarled. “Will your power engage to save you before you suffocate?” he asked as his enforcers pinned my legs and pulled my arms away from their bosses’ face.  

Let me eat!  We can kill these idiots before they can make it to the door!

For a second, I debated it even though I knew if I used my gift and killed the men, I would devour them too and start a second Feast Day.  The voice whispering to me was essentially begging for it, only thinly veiling the want to be unleashed again; it couldn’t be worse than this, could it?  Right before I let the consumption happen, alarm klaxons began sounding and the loudspeaker turned on.    

“Joshua, honey, I’m home!” 

All three of the men accosting me froze; Josh ripped the steak away and took a nervous step away from me, spinning around and looking towards the door.  Why did that voice sound so familiar?  

“Did you really think you were going to get away with the shit you’re doing?  I mean,” whoever was on the loudspeaker stopped to let out a manic laugh, “Abducting people off the street?  That’s some sloppy shit. At least when you grabbed me it was slick.”

“Sir is that-”

“It’s him,” Josh affirmed.  He had immediately gone from authoritarian and malevolent to scared and anxious.  Who could possibly be that frightening to him?

“But hey,” the man on the speaker continued, “Thanks to you, I’m awesome now!  I mean, you practically made the Altered a thing, and you made me the craziest one.  Don’t you want to see the real outcome of your group of shithead scientists?”

I knew why that voice was familiar and why Josh was suddenly scared shitless.  One man had broken free of an Asylum before and freed everyone else there. One guy had managed to make himself so threatening that the heavy hitters around Ciel were afraid of him. 

Psycho.  

Murphy had said he would get help; who better to get help from than the guy who had broken free of an Asylum before?  

“Boss?”

“Lethal force,” Josh stammered, “Kill him.  Kill anyone he has with him. I don’t care who it is.  He can not be allowed to-”

He was cut off as a motor came to life outside my cell.  Thanks to them leaving the door open I could see the stairs being lowered from the ceiling.  I slowly got up, following the security members to observe the spectacle, drawn to the promise of seeing an Adapted in action just like everyone else.  

As the stairs finished lowering, there was a figure visible at the top; while he had ditched the lab coat and settled on a plain black shirt and shorts, the bit of black fabric with the red neon teeth was still firmly in place.  “Come on, Josh, you know you missed me!” he said with a manic laugh as men swarmed out, all armed to the teeth. Where it had just been riot shields and tasers before, now there were automatic firearms.    

Psycho changed powers whenever he slept and he likely hadn’t gotten any shut eye since he had helped tether me to the ground so Dragoon had been able to literally carve me free.  Today was Bi-polar, but I’d only seen half of it.  

When I’d seen him earlier, he was glowing blue, now he was glowing orange.  

“Such a good roll turn out!  I knew you’d missed me!” As men took aim, he threw himself from the stairs and zoomed across the room, nearly as fast as Shock would when fully charged.  One man took a swing and his fist passed straight through Psycho.  

“You’ll have to do so much better than that,” he cackled as the orange aura faded from his arm for a split second,  just long enough for him to hit the man.  

This was the flipside of his immovable depression: an uncontrollable mania.

Psycho was a blur around the room, and whatever armaments the men had were worthless when they literally couldn’t make contact with the apparition that his manic state allowed him to become.  The only times he was corporeal at all was the split second before he hit someone, his sheer speed and momentum giving his hits enough power to do some real damage.  

He was no Ragdoll, but he was still making quick work of the room as he bounded around from victim to victim, laughing the whole time.  

After chaos began to reign among the Snatchers, a second form dropped from the control office above, landing on top of a guard with alarming acrobatic ease.  Clad in a costume with a grey and red pattern, Parasite extended his staff and began leaping around the room to assist with Psycho’s rampage.  

“Boss,” one of the guards said with a nervous gulp, “What do we-” 

“Found you!” the manic laugh of Psycho rang out as he literally stuck his head through the wall.  One man took a shot, but there was nothing to hit as he pulled himself away.  

The next instant the whole form came through, darting forward and smacking aside one man’s gun.  He retaliated with a punch forward, his arm phasing through Psycho who just howled with laughter.  

“This must be so frustrating for you!”  In a blink he was behind the man, jamming his heel into the back of the man’s knee and pushing him to the floor before planting a firm punch into the man’s cheek.  

Out in the shared space, Parasite was a blur of muscle and metal as he danced around, beating down security guards left and right, occasionally stumbling when a bullet found its mark.  But bullets were too small in scope to do any real damage thanks to the passenger under his skin taking the hit for him.  

Josh snapped me back to the more immediate as he turned and grabbed me, seizing the gun one of his employees had dropped.  Psycho rounded as Josh grabbed my collar and pressed it to my forehead. “Not another step!” 

The doctor pulled me around, putting me between the Lunatic and himself, as if I would somehow do well as a shield.  “And, what are you going to do?” Psycho laughed, “Are you going to shoot a kid? You’re gonna hurt your precious samples?” 

“If you’re here for him, he must matter an awful lot to you,” Josh spat, “Are you going to risk him?  You might be fast, you freak, but you’re not faster than my trigger finger!”

Psycho shook his head, raising his hands and clenching his fingers in clear annoyance.  “I…I hate that word. Freak. That’s…that’s not the term you gave us, was it?”  

“Psycho,” I panted, “Please don’t get me shot.”  

For some reason, I could just tell he was smiling under his mask.  “Don’t you worry, Eldritch, you’re gonna be fine. Josh,” he demanded, looking past me, “What was the term you gave us?”

“I-”

“SAY IT!”

“Altered!  You and all your fucking misfits!  Altered!”  

Psycho clapped his hands together and laughed, “That’s right!  You managed to break Adapted people a second time! You managed to do more damage than life could!  And you did it often enough that you needed to come up with a name for us!” He turned his attention back to me, still giggling, “Do you know who this is?” 

I shook my head slowly.

“The man with the gun against your cheek is Joshua Vasquez, one of the lead scientists and study contributors for the Snatchers.”  For a split second, Psycho changed color to the blue, depressed variant. “He’s the reason that the Lunatics exist, at all,” he said, the unadulterated glee replaced with soul-crushing despair.  As soon as it had come, he swapped back to orange, “But I was really hopeful that when you went ape-shit and ate half the city that you’d pull the big names! I wasn’t sure whether or not you’d actually get this guy to resurface, but thank you.”  

“So you…you weren’t really after Beleth, were you?” 

Psycho’s manic smile stretched farther across his face, “While I have a score to settle with that bastard, the guy holding a gun to your head is the real reason I came back to Ciel.  I heard he’d been spotted.”  

For a moment, I almost forgot about the gun against my head, “You used us as bait to live out your vendetta.”  

He swung his arms wide, “Of course I did!  Did you really expect anything better from me?” 

Joshua cleared his throat, “Empath-” 

“NO!” Psycho screeched, his eyes going wide with rage, “EMPATH DIED! You, you oversaw him dying!  You left a fractured mess of what used to be Empath!” A tense moment was made worse by Psycho dropping his head into his hands and giggling, “But you know what, it’s okay!  Thanks to you, I can do this now! Parasite, right shoulder,” he commanded with a laugh.  

Through Psycho’s right shoulder, a four kilogram hunk of metal came flying through.  It slammed into the doctor’s upper chest and threw him back against the wall; the gun went skittering to the floor as he let go of me.  

Parasite hopped out from behind Psycho, a bit bloody but his smirk flashed back onto his face as he saw me still breathing. 

The leader of the Lunatics, however, was not satisfied with the compound fracture of Joshua Vasquez’s collarbone.  He zipped forward and got a grip around the man’s neck, changing from orange to blue in a blink.  

“You turned me into this,” he whispered slowly as his fingers closed down.  Struggle as he might, there was nothing to be done to displace Psycho. I’d been nearly fifteen tonnes of muscle earlier tonight and I couldn’t move his depressed variant.  Desperate, Josh reached for the gun and managed to pull it back into his clutches.  

“Psycho!” I shouted in warning, but the Peculiar didn’t even blink as Josh put the barrel against his temple. 

“Go ahead,” Psycho said calmly, distant, uncaring, “It won’t do a damn thing.”  

As the scientists face began to turn purple, he pulled the trigger; as promised, nothing happened beyond a puff of smoke exiting the barrel.  Josh pulled his hand away and a shattered bullet clinked to the cold floor.  

“That’s enough,” Parasite insisted as he kicked Psycho, trying to get his attention, “We’re here for them, not for him.” 

“You might not be,” Psycho replied slowly as his victim became much more frantic, squirming and pounding against the Peculiar’s chest.  “But this man has a debt to pay. Doesn’t he, Eldritch.” Psycho turned to face me, completely disregarding the man repeatedly hitting him in the face.  

I’d only been here hours; Psycho had been subjected to weeks of torment and torture in the name of ‘the greater good’ all thanks to men like Josh.  “Parasite,” I said, a bit shaky, “I’m with Psycho on this one. That man, he deserves to die.”  

Thanks to him not wearing his mask, there was no misconstruing the horror on my friends face.  “Nick, we’re Reckoners.”

I swallowed a nervous lump in my throat as Joshua looked over at me, pleading.  “I know, but…but that man is a monster.”

“Monster or not, that doesn’t mean we execute him!  We’re Reckoners,” Parasite insisted.

“I’m not,” Psycho replied, “And even if you wanted to stop me, Parasite, you couldn’t.  That stick of yours would break long before I budged.”  

He looked between me and Psycho, his gaze lingering on me, hoping for some kind of change in my answer.  I shook my head, knowing that if I said anything else I’d be lying. Bargain had told me about how screwed up the Snatchers were; if this was the guy who had fractured the identities of Adapted and create the Lunatics…this man deserved to go.  

Parasite couldn’t stomach watching the life being choked from the man and turned around, snagging a security key off one guard who was still down for the count.  As the life faded from Joshua Vasquez, one of the cell doors opened and a skinny man with a mess of black hair staggered out, doing his best to avoid treading on one of the many incapacitated guards present.

I followed my friend away from Psycho’s execution; even though I didn’t regret condemning Joshua Vasquez to death, it didn’t mean I wanted to watch it in real time.  About the time I joined alongside Parasite and Mr. Magnificent, our other conscious rescuer joined us, his colored tint gone for now.    

“Mr. Magnificent,” Psycho said in a strangely normal voice, “I don’t think we’ve met.” 

“I’ve heard about you though,” he said, minding his distance as Parasite went to free the rest of the Flagbearers.  “I’ve heard you’re a bit of a monster. Literally and metaphorically.” 

He shrugged, “Depends who you ask.”  

“Hey, Magnificent,” Parasite shouted, “I need a hand.”  

I was a bit relieved to see Ragdoll fairly uninjured, but Joshua hadn’t been kidding about keeping him asleep indefinitely; according to the monitor that he was hooked to, his heart was barely beating.  

“Even if we take the IV out, he’s going to be unconscious for a while,” Psycho noted.  “They really wanted him kept asleep.”  

“I can deal with that,” Mr. Magnificent replied as he removed the needle from his leader and pressed a hand to his chest.  Initially, I was worried that whatever Mr. Magnificent was doing was proving useless.

And then the machine monitoring Ragdoll’s vitals added a frantic chiming to the alarm klaxons that were still sounding.  From 20 beats per minute, Ragdoll’s heart rate endured a tenfold increase.  

“I suggest moving away!” 

We all listened to Mr. Magnificent and were damn happy we did as Ragdoll’s eyes snapped open and he sat up, swinging.  A poor use of his gift meant his wild haymaker dragged him off the table and he thudded to the floor, ripping free of the sensors as he shouted.  The second punch was much more coordinated and aimed straight for Psycho’s head; his fist connected with a blue tinted Peculiar and Ragdoll yanked his arm back, swearing.  

“Fuck me that hurt,” Ragdoll swore as he turned and took in his surroundings.  “Bi-polar, can’t be moved; you were not kidding. How did you find us?” 

“Because of him,” Psycho said, returning to a normal color and tipping his head to Parasite.

“I followed you guys over rooftops and shit, keeping an eye to see where they would offload you all.  I went to the Relay station and got what help I could.”

“And they sent you back with this asshole?” Ragdoll muttered as he put his hands to his temples, glaring at the speakers in the ceiling. 

“Titan isn’t there, and most people aren’t down to play with Snatchers.  Bargain would have come, but he is still fucked up from beating the piss out of Shock and Awe before Eldritch went a bit off the reservation.”  

I winced but didn’t say anything; it wasn’t like I could disagree.  

You weren’t off the reservation, you were just finally free. 

“Either way, can we get the fucking ALARMS TURNED OFF?” Ragdoll shouted as he put his head in his hands, “Being forced to wake up like this is like a migraine on steroids.” 

“Controls will be in the security station,” I muttered, “Back upstairs.”

Parasite nodded, “I got it.”  Given how quick he bounded away, I could tell he was looking for any excuse to not being standing next to Psycho.  As he walked away, a few guards started to stir; a quick hit with the staff ensured they weren’t going anywhere.  

Ragdoll turned to me, “What happened earlier,” he said, as he steadied himself on his feet, “I’m not angry.”

“Still I’m-” 

Above us there  was a shout as a figure slammed into the far wall, falling nearly three floors to a heap on the ground.  All of us looked up at the guard station as a trio of figures in black mechanical suits stepped onto the stairs, the one in front wearing what looked like a golden glove that was causing the air to shimmer in front of it.  

I’d seen something like that before: it looked just like the distortions that Shockwave caused with his power.  And the suits they wore, it looked like a refined version of Dragoon’s armor. No Zari technology was anywhere near this which only left one option for who that could be.  At a glance, the power armor made them look almost human in terms of size and frame, but there was a certain amount of dread I felt that I knew it couldn’t be a human in those suits.    

“Holy shit,” I whispered, “It’s them.”  

“Magnificent, give me what you got left,” Ragdoll demanded, immediately switching to a fight-ready mentality.  “Eldritch, get Transport and Soliloquy out of their cells and wake them up. Psycho, help me out with those three; let’s keep them on the stairs away from Magnificent and Eldritch.”

Psycho turned orange and snickered, “Whatever you want.”  Bolting forward, he jumped and phased through the steps, getting a note of surprise from the Trillodan soldiers.  The one in front flexed his fingers and the distortion shot from the glove, going straight through the manic Psycho.  “Guess again, asshole,” he said with a cackle as he struck forward, changing himself to his depressed variation.  

The Trillodan soldier, seemingly irritated, swung back and smashed his gauntlet against the side of Psycho’s head, pulling back and swearing in a foreign tongue.  One of the armored figures behind him raised a golden glove and blasted Psycho, but no amount of force was going to move him back.  

Ragdoll took a deep breath and charged forward, throwing himself forward into a roll and then leaping forward, getting an inhuman amount of acceleration from throwing his hands forward.  One hand caught the edge of the staircase while he swung the other, doing an awkward cartwheel that put his whole body completely vertical and let him get a grip on the handrail.  

As one Trillodan turned to him, one of Ragdoll’s legs slammed down and kicked a hand with a golden glove down so the kinetic blast went directly into the staircase, straining the cable that were connecting it to the ceiling.  Ragdoll turned in a moment of confusion and backhanded one of the soldiers, hitting him hard enough to toss him over the railing and down the four meters to the floor.  

The Trillodan point-man snarled and yanked a sidearm made of some grey metal and took aim at Psycho’s midsection; as he fired, a red beam shot out and pierced straight through the Peculiar who was blocking the way down.  Psycho’s blue tint to his skin dissipated as he lurched to the side and grabbed the railing for support, his face immediately paling. The point man struck forward and sent Psycho tumbling down the stairs, his body landing in an awkward heap at the bottom.  

He’d been built to endure any amount of strain or pushing against him.  Enough heat however was something he was not built to withstand. Then again, how many things were meant to weather a literal laser pistol?  

As Psycho came to a halt, I came to my senses and grabbed the keycard that Parasite had swiped to free Ragdoll.  Charging across the room, a pair of hands grabbed me; a few of the security guards were coming.  

“What are you doing?” the man holding me hissed, “What did you idiots do?” 

I didn’t get to answer as the man Ragdoll knocked over the railings got up and fired his own laser pistol.  A fist sized hole appeared in the center of the guards chest as the Trillodan shifted his head to inspect me.  

Shouting something in another language, he waved the pistol and beckoned me closer.  I obliged and walked forward slowly, petrified. These were just common foot soldiers presumably.  They had technology that gave them power similar to Adapted; what other sorts of tricks did they have?  

Above me on the staircase, the leader of the Flagbearers was between the two soldiers and knew he needed to change his position.  Grabbing the handrails, he threw himself back and made his legs substantially more dense right before connecting with the soldier; the point-man was launched off the steps and just avoided squashing the human mound that was Psycho at the foot of the stairs.  Some poor security guard wasn’t so fortunate and was squashed flat as the Trillodan point man landed on him. With one down, Ragdoll made his hand heavier and punched the laser pistol away from the last Trillodan on the stairs before wrapping one of his arms under his opponents.  

In a flourish, Ragdoll threw himself off the stairs, pulling the Trillodan soldier to the railings.  As the soldier reached forward to pull Ragdoll off his arm, the Enhancer used his gift and made his legs incredibly dense; the abrupt shift in balance yanked the pair over the railing.  Ragdoll managed to land well and roll, diminishing the impact; the Trillodan soldier landed flat on his back with a pitiful groan.  

The soldier holding me at gunpoint turned to fire his laser pistol at Ragdoll as he hopped back up to his feet: the first shot missed, but the second clipped Ragdoll’s side and carved a small chunk away.  Without thinking, I rushed forward and slammed my shoulder into the soldier, making his third shot go wild; he retaliated by lifting me and throwing me against the wall, the power armor making it all too easy.  As I looked back up, he aimed his sidearm at my knee and then immediately dropped it, lurching forward as a hunk of metal clanged against the floor behind him.  

He turned as Parasite ran forward and drove his heel into the soldiers knee, forcing him to stumble.  Parasite took a split second he had bought himself and scooped up his staff from the group, extending the weapon and bringing it down upon the soldiers arm as he tried to use his golden glove.  

Instead some poor guard was crushed against the floor as the shockwave went off target.  

Parasite twisted and brought the staff around with alarming speed, cracking the soldier’s helmet and sending him down to the floor with a clatter. “Take a cheap shot,” he snarled, “Hurt my friends?”  He vented his rage and stomped down on the Trillodan’s midsection, hitting him hard enough to crack the armor plates.  

“Parasite!” 

He turned just in time to endure a blast straight to his chest from the laser pistol of the Trillodan point man at the foot of the staircase.  I gasped as I expected to see a hole appear in my friend’s torso…but none did. The Trillodan fired and clipped Parasite a few more times, but none of the shots seemed to just tear through him like they had with everyone else.  

“What do you know,” Parasite said with a wry laugh, “the passenger can diffuse heat too.  That’s handy.”  

Barking in another language, the man changed tactics and raised the golden gauntlet to blow Parasite back against the wall; as he raised his hand, an orange blur reached straight through the Trillodan soldier and grabbed his palm.  Right before it could fire, Psycho changed himself blue.  

With no outlet for the energy, the Trillodan’s arm exploded as if he’d held a hand grenade.  Turning around, he swung wildly and hit Psycho, but he took more of the punishment as he hit an immovable object.  As he went for his laser pistol, Ragdoll threw himself across the room and spun around, building up his momentum for a massive kick.  

A kick that literally ripped the Trillodan’s head off.  

Metallic grinding heralded the soldier Ragdoll had dragged off the stairs getting up, but a soothing voice seemed to stop him from reaching for his pistol.  “No, no, I think that won’t help anyone, friend,” Soliloquy insisted softly, reaching forward and nudging his arm down. “I think the fight is long over, don’t you agree?” 

He nodded and slowly sat down, not deliberately surrendering, but just giving up.  Soliloquy was able to coax emotions and nudge sensations; this man just watched an Adapted endure being shot and his comrade literally beheaded by a kick.  It wasn’t hard to sell that the fight was over.  

At the back of the room, Mr. Magnificent grinned, panting as a keycard dangled on a lanyard between his fingers.  I’d been held at gunpoint, and fortunately the member of the Flagbearers took advantage of no one paying attention to him.  

“They shouldn’t be here yet,” I muttered, as I looked down at the Trillodan’s power armor, “They weren’t supposed to be here until tomorrow.”

Psycho staggered forward, clutching his side and grimacing, “Hate to break it to you, but it is tomorrow.  It’s two in the morning; Clairvoyant doesn’t get all the details and we are technically in his time frame.”  The leader of the Lunatics looked at the two surviving Trillodan and grimaced, “Snatcher hideouts all share a network for distress calls.  My guess, the Trillodan found us because the alarm had been tripped.”  

“Great,” Ragdoll muttered, “Just fucking great.”  

“Griping about it won’t help us,” Mr. Magnificent muttered as he walked by me into Transports room, giving him the same treatment that he’d had to give Ragdoll earlier.  Fortunately, Transport took the alarming wake up in better stride.  

“So, what do we do now?” Parasite asked as he looked down and put his fingers through the holes in his suit.

“First things first,” Psycho said, reaching into his pocket and procuring a pair of golden vials, “Rags, drink.”

“How did you-”

“Titan has them stockpiled as a bit of preparation for emergencies.  I deemed this a worthwhile occasion.”  

Ragdoll didn’t object as he drank the tincture from Organelle.  It was a little unsettling to see tissue literally grow around the hole and rapidly undo the damage that the Trillodan firearms were able to inflict.  

“And now that I don’t have a gaping hold in my side, what do you suggest?” Ragdoll asked Psycho.  

“We run.  We get to the Relay station and get the fuck out of downtown.”

Soliloquy shook his head, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.  If we bolt now, we have no idea what we’re walking into.”

“And you suggest?” 

“We have hostages,” Parasite thought aloud, “And a guy who can convince them to talk.  Let Soliloquy see what information we can get.”  

All of us went silent as the man Parasite had bludgeoned senseless started to laugh as he pushed himself up to his feet, leaning against the wall for stability while he removed his helmet.  

From what I knew, we were the first humans to ever see a Trillodan in the flesh.  While it was clear they were bipeds and had the same approximate size of a human, the Trillodan had amphibious features.  He had moist and almost rubbery blue skin with white spots in a symmetrical pattern across his face, multiple eyelids closing as he blinked, and nostrils flush with his face.  In truth, there was almost a strange beauty to the soldiers appearance and the vivid color of his skin contrasted with the black power armor he was wearing.  

However, all of that was quickly forgotten as he began to speak in broken common with a harsh and raspy voice.  “Trillodan, capture you,” he said with a sweeping gesture, “Tso’got,” he slammed his hand to his chest, “Ours.”  

We all glanced between each other, even Psycho’s arrogant demeanor was absent.  Parasite finally said what all of us were thinking.  

“Well, that’s not good.” 


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