It’s been two weeks since my birthday by the Seine, and I missed those moments of carefree joy. Standing on a hill overlooking some wretched industrial park in my own country, I feel anything but peaceful. The sun is down, the parking lot empty but for a few cars; most the regular workers should have all gone home.
There is a truth about being powerful: It makes you care less about others. You care less because you know, deep down, that you no longer physically need a community to sustain you. Your body and brain respond by changing who you are to match this new reality. This makes you callus, makes you ungiving, and capable of only taking more and more to feed your own isolation. Your mind rationalizes what your body is telling you; that those that do not have power are other than you, unimportant and less deserving. There is no right or wrong in this phenomena, it is simply the biology of being human.
But it’s also completely horrible.
Below me is a case that supports the point; a research facility on the outskirts of New Haven that specializes in genetic enhancements designed to bring about more Powered humans into the world. But these would not be free agents, or even fully formed people with thoughts and dreams, but rather under the complete control of those who made them from the moment of their conception. More power for those already in power. More and more until the isolation is so complete they realize they don’t need anyone else at all. It’s happened before, and that is how we got to the mess we are in now.
I am not immune. I can feel myself fray under the pressure of my own Power, which in some ways eclipses even those individuals of vast wealth, or corporate and government power. I can recognize it but I don’t know what to do about it. I could just walk in and kill everyone in the place, and maybe I should for what they are doing. Isn’t that a strange thing? That should not be a thing. And they are trying to make more like me.
“-10-23, go in 5-” crackles in my ear.
Some interference there, but I get the message and it helps refocus my thoughts away from the rabbit hole.
“-Thank you 5-” I whisper back, not being one for radio codes.
I don’t have a watch but I can count and it helps me calm down and focus on my breathing. I also go through the mostly unnecessary routine of checking mask and armor placement, and reassure myself that my sawed off pool cue was snug in its sling. When I count sixty for the fifth time, I step out onto the road and begin slow walking toward the front gate. The key is slow and steady acceleration, no sudden movements to draw the eye of the prey or alert the predator, and as the seconds pass so does my pace. When they do see me they first will have trouble recognizing the threat, losing a second, then they will be forced to constantly recalculate their expectations on when I will arrive. Forcing them to pay attention. Despite themselves they will be fascinated and have a hard time looking away, or doing anything other than watch me coming. They are the deer, and I am the headlights.
That is the theory anyway. It probably even partially works.
The first shot takes me in the upper arm and I make sure it looks good but keep coming. The barrage that follows is well out of proportion and only about six or seven of the thirty odd shots actually hit me. Makes me glad this is such a remote facility, as I would hate for someone to get hurt from all the overspray. I flop to the ground as boneless as I can make myself, skidding to a stop about ten meters from the gate. Noone puts more bullets in me, which confirms they are well trained in dealing with Powered and are probably calling for backup. If that barrage worked, then I was down. If it didn’t, then shooting a bunch more wasn’t going to change anything.
Which gives me a moment to realize I fell right next to an animal carcass: literal roadkill not a handspreath from my face. From what I see under the teeming piles of tiny black ants, it was once a happy nut loving tree squirrel that made a bad choice and ended up a bloody stretch of meat on the road. The smell begins to permeate my mask and the visceral punch makes my gorge rise, and I struggle as bile rises into the back of my mouth. Oh Crap - move and I give up the game. Also, I can’t puke with this mask or it will end up smeared all over my face.
I can’t help it, I have to get away from it
“-Don’t move!-” crackles my earpiece.
Dammit. Did they notice?
The good thing about my version of basic bulletproofing is that the bullets don’t just bounce off: my Power, as far as I can tell, is to shunt parts of this reality into another. So the bullets are going in, they just are hitting something else, somewhere else. I have a suspicion about where they are going, but I am pretty sure she is already dead, so it won’t be hurting her any more. I can also feel what are best described as probability waves, and can sometimes manipulate them when in close proximity. Most Powered seem to have this ability to one degree or another, but I seem to have it stronger than most.
So it should have been sufficient to sew doubts, indecision, and uncertainty. Uncertainty is where we step in to force an outcome.
I hear the gates opening as a vehicle rolls through.