I want to run. Free. The wind in my face. Over water, mountains I’d even rescue people from burning buildings. Just let me run. The dank dungeon walls are suffocating. The chains make things even worse. Can’t move fast enough to vibrate through them. Comic books lied to me. I want to run. Don’t cry, dammit. Don’t let them win. Don’t give in to despair. I want to run. Wind blowing through my hair. Car drivers staring in awe. I want to run. No! Stop, stop crying. Don’t let them win. Don’t…
Washington DC, United States
“General Anderson,” A stout man in a military uniform saluted. “You wanted to see me?”
“Take a seat, Colonel Trask.” The General beckoned to a couple of chairs in front of him. “And your assistant is?”
The nervous freckled man saluted hurriedly. “Sergeant Alex Benton, Sir.”
“What I’m about to say doesn’t leave this room,” Anderson said. “But I just got back from the latest strategic meeting and things are not going well. Our intelligence operatives predict that we’ll lose the war within months at this rate.”
“Sir, isn’t there something we can do?” Trask asked. “Couldn’t we nuke those bastards?
“Nuking isn’t an option,” Anderson said. “The reason is a military secret. Fortunately, our friends in Munich have devised a strategy that could work. It’s risky, but it could turn the tides in our favour.”
“What is this plan, Sir?” Trask asked.
“It’s simple,” Anderson said. “We make use of the Plaguers, put them into squads and send them onto the battlefield. Their powers are a great asset and if they die the public isn’t going to give a damn.”
“But how will we control them?” Trask asked. “Won’t they seize the opportunity to escape?”
“Not gonna happen,” Anderson said. “The Brits have developed a neat little device that will ensure that. Nevertheless, there is a risk that they’ll try and cause a ruckus. That’s why our strategy is to form small squads each under the control of a seasoned officer. You’ll be responsible for Omicron Squad. We’re going to send you and your assistant to the quarantine area to pick out your team.” Anderson handed Trask a manila folder. “The details of your mission are in there. Read over them on your way. Needless to say, they are confidential.”
Trask rose and gave a final salute. “Yes, Sir!”
Trask handed Benton six files. “Bring me these ones, one at a time of course.”
“Understood,” Benton said.
“And be careful,” Trask cautioned. “They’re dangerous.”
Benton nodded. Trask was left alone for ten minutes, mentally rehearsing what to say, when the first Plaguer was brought in. She had shoulder length violet hair. She was brought in strapped to a mobile table.
“Ah, Miss Ines Reyes,” Trask said. “I was just reading up on you. Your parents were legal immigrants from Mexico. When you contracted the plague they broke the law and kept you hidden but they were caught. At that time you fled the scene. The National guard was quickly called in. Still, you eluded capture for twenty seven days.”
“It would’ve been longer if I hadn’t tripped,” Ines said. “What do you want anyway? Surely you didn’t have me brought here just to discuss the chase.”
“Of course not,” Trask said. “I have an offer to make you.”
“I’m not into guys,” Ines said.
“Not that kind of offer,” Trask said. “I’m going to give you the opportunity to serve your country in this war.”
“What’s in it for me?” Ines asked.
“Three things,” Trask said. “You’ll be granted your freedom. Your parents will be pardoned and the military will provide for your food and shelter.”
“Oh,” Ines said. “That does sound tempting. I suppose you’re going to let me up and out of these restraints then?”
“You must think we’re idiots,” Trask said. “If we release you now you’ll be out of the state before I can say ‘get her, she’s escaping.’ No. Before you’re released our people will install a very simple microchip implant in your brain. It will allow us to track, stun or even kill you. We’ll use it should you try to escape. Are you still in?”
“Sure,” Ines said. “It’s better than being chained to a wall.”
“Excellent,” Trask said. “Benton, give her over to the med techs. Then bring the next one in.”
“This is taking too long,” Ines complained. “Aren’t you finished yet?”
“It takes about a half hour to install,” the tech said. “You should’ve let us put you under.”
“No way,” Ines said. “As soon as you’re done, I’m going for a run. I’d be out already if you weren’t so slow.”
“Well excuse me for being normal,” the tech said. “There, it’s finished.”
“Good, then let me up,” Ines said. “Hurry.”
“Don’t you want to stick around and meet the other members of your squad?” the tech asked.
“I’ll do that later,” Ines said. “For now I’ve gotta follow my rainbow.”
“Fine,” the tech said. “But take this radio with you so that the Colonel can contact you when he needs you.”
Ines snatched the radio and she was gone.
Freedom, finally! I only half pay attention to what I’m passing. I fix my gaze on the road ahead. Just running can be bliss.A cop turns on his siren and tries to pursue. I hold back, knock at his window and run circles around him before leaving him in the dust. Immature? Well, yes but I don’t care. I’m free, I can finally fully indulge my need for speed and I’m ecstatic. Besides, I’m pretty sure that the speed limit doesn’t apply to pedestrians.
“I’ve just sent a message to our final member,” Trask said. “Once she arrives we can begin the briefing.”
“So begin it already,” Ines said.
“Where did you get those goggles?” Trask asked.
“Don’t remember,” Ines said. “Dust was starting to irritate my eyes so I just kinda picked them up.” She scanned the room. “Nice choices. Easily eights and nines all around, maybe some tens.”
“I’ll begin the briefing,” Trask said. “First, I’ll introduce each of you. First, we have Miss Sirvanna Bowman, code name: Fury. With the power to fire bolts of lightning. She will act as your squadron leader on the field.” He indicated a woman with long blonde hair and blue eyes. “Next,” he continued. “Is our late comer…”
“Don’t use the L word with me,” Ines said.
“Miss Ines Reyes,” Trask continued. “Code name: Undine. With the power of super speed.”
“Undine?” Ines asked “Are you kidding me?”
“Don’t interrupt, Undine,” Trask said. “Next is Miss Katelyn Kyle, code name: Pixie. With the power of telekinesis.” He indicated the youngest looking girl in the group. She had dark brown hair and brown eyes. “Next is Miss Alena Richards, code name: Mara. She possesses the ability to manipulate shadows and draw strength from them.” He indicated a short woman with long brown hair tied into a ponytail and green eyes. “We also have Miss Alexa Doyle, code name: Sylph. She has the power to manipulate air itself.” He indicated a woman slightly taller than Alena with short brown hair and green eyes.
“Trade stupid code names with me,” Ines said, lightly nudging Alexa.
“Undine,” Trask said.
Ines threw her hands in the air. “Fine, fine. I’ll be quiet.”
“And finally,” Trask said. “We have Miss Yuni Spencer, code name: Aurora. She has the power to focus light as blasts of energy or weapons. Now, before you get comfortable and start trying to make friends, I have a mission for you. The six of you will be sent to Prescott, at the very edge of the western front. Your job is to make your way to Parker behind enemy lines. Once there you have three tasks. The first is to cripple their supply lines. The second is to destroy a weapon’s depot. When that’s done you’ll assist our troops in their push.”
“Let me get this straight” Sirvanna said. “We’ll be alone behind enemy lines and expected to push through hundreds of soldiers and rendezvous with the regular military? It’s suicide.”
“It’s not that bad,” Trask said. “The military will start pushing as soon as you leave for Prescott. The enemy troops should be distracted. You have your orders now follow them. Omicron squad, move out!”
“I think we should come up with a more concrete plan before we land,” Sirvanna said. “Any ideas?”
“I’ve got one,” Ines said. How about you five stay safely behind our lines. I’ll take some explosives, blow the targets and be back before you can finish a game of strip poker.”
“I think that you just have a fantasy about returning a hero to find all of us half naked and then getting piled on,” Katelyn said.
“A healthy fantasy life is good for you,” Ines said.
“True,” Sirvanna said. “But our missions are not the time to be indulging in them. It’s too risky for you to go alone. If you fail we’ll have increased resistance to contend with. No, we all go.”
“I have an idea,” Yuni said. “What if we disguised ourselves as electricians. We could infiltrate the base saying that we were there to check the wiring.”
“Yeah,” Katelyn said. “Not like they’d keep records of that sort of thing.”
“Pixie is right,” Sirvanna said. “There’s no way that the base personnel have such poor communication that they’d just let us on the base because we claimed that we were there to fix the wiring.”
“Oh right,” Yuni said. “We’ll have to mess up the wiring first and then go after they call for an electrician.”
“I think I’ll just come up with the plan myself,” Sirvanna said.
“Two fronts,” Alena muttered.
“What was that?” Sirvanna asked.
“We have two fronts to worry about,” Alena said. “They’re close enough together that if we take one out the security at the other will be reinforced as a precaution. We’ll have to strike both at once.”
“You’re right,” Sirvanna said. “We’ll have to go in teams of three and hit them fast. I’ll take Undine and Aurora and hit the base. You take Sylph and Pixie.”
“Is it really a good idea to combine those two?” Alena asked.
“Maybe not,” Sirvanna admitted. “But I’m going to need Undine and it’s probably better if you and Aurora aren’t on the same team. We wouldn’t want your powers to interfere with each other. Now, it’s just a matter of getting there.”
“Why would our powers interfere with each other?” Yuni asked
“We have twenty minutes until touchdown,” Sirvanna said. “Get ready.”
“Not like we’re already prepared,” Katelyn said. “We better do a quick makeup check. Don’t wanna be killed looking like regular soldiers.”
“Just double check your equipment,” Sirvanna said. She moved over to where Yuni and Ines were talking.
“What kind of name is Yuni anyway?” Ines asked.
“It’s weird, right?” Yuni asked. “But I got pretty lucky. My sisters got the names Rikka and Payne.”
“Seriously?” Ines asked.
Yuni nodded. “My parents were doing some kind of theme. But there’s something more important to talk about.”
“Which is?” Ines asked.
“You!” Yuni said. “I mean, your name isn’t weird but you are. I mean, how many people could escape the quarantine for that long? You have to be some kinda hero!”
“She’s not a hero,” Sirvanna said. “She’s just a plaguer who ran like hell. Never stopped to help anyone else, never risked her own skin for anyone but herself.”
“But…” Yuni began.
“Our fearless leader is right,” Ines said. “I’m no hero, I’m just fast. I’m sure that she would’ve brought down the entire system if she’d managed to get free. Maybe brought us world peace while she was at it. All I could manage was running away while the sodding army was on my tail.”
Sirvanna glared at her.
The six hurriedly landed. “The first step is to somehow cross the disputed territory and reach their side,” Sirvanna said. “Any suggestions, Mara?”
“Nothing comes to mind,” Alena said.
“Leave it to me,” Alexa said. Her eyes turned a milky white a tornado enveloped the group. It moved rapidly through the field, the enemy combatants quickly took cover. The tornado passed over them and didn’t stop until it was beyond the major platoons and in an empty stretch of desert.
“That was past cool,” Ines said.
“Can we go again?” Yuni asked.
“Great plan,” Katelyn said. “I’m sure they’d never notice two or three inexplicable tornadoes.”
“Next time tell me what you’re planning and wait for my permission before acting,” Sirvanna said.
“Whatever,” Alexa said. “It worked, didn’t it?”
Sirvanna looked around. It had indeed. They were officially behind enemy lines.
“We can’t stand in the open like this,” Sirvanna said. “Undine, commandeer a military truck and bring it back here, with the driver if you could.”
Ines gave a mock salute and was gone.
“We’ll ride together until we’re just about at our destinations and then we’ll pick a rendezvous point and split up,” Sirvanna said. “If we’re lucky we should be able to take out the targets at close to the same time and make it back to our side in one piece.”
“Great plan,” Katelyn said. “Relying on luck couldn’t possibly end badly.”
“There’s a truck coming,” Yuni said.
“Everybody take cover,” Sirvanna said. “Confirm that it’s Undine before showing yourselves.”
The group got back and waited as the truck stopped and a figure emerged.
“Is that you, Ines?” Yuni called.
Sirvanna tensed up immediately. She stared at where the figure had been. “Where?” she muttered.
“Surprise,” Ines said. “What are you all doing huddled up back here anyway? Did I miss something fun?”
“We just wanted to make sure it was you,” Sirvanna said.
“Because this is clearly such a busy back road,” Katelyn said.
The group stepped out to examine the truck.
“No covering,” Alena said. “Could be a problem.”
“It’ll be fine,” Sirvanna said. “Where’s the driver?”
Ines pointed to the back seat where an unconscious young man in uniform had been spread out.
“You left him alive?” Sirvanna asked.
“You said you wanted the driver,” Ines said. “I didn’t think you wanted a corpse.”
“He’s too much of a liability left alive,” Sirvanna said. Crimson lightning shot from her hands into the unconscious man until his breathing stopped.
“What did you even want him for?” Katelyn asked. “Don’t tell me you’re into something gross?”
“What kind of thing?” Yuni asked. “What are you talking about?”
“Well,” Alexa said. “There’s this thing called necr…”
“Quiet!” Sirvanna said.
“Huh?” Yuni asked.
“It’s nothing like that,” Sirvanna said. “Listen up, we’re going to prop him up behind the wheel. Then Pixie will use her telekinesis to drive the truck from the rear.”
“And the cover problem?” Alexa asked.
“Aurora, you have power over light,” Sirvanna said. “Can you cause it to not reflect us?”
“I see,” Alena nodded. “Invisibility.”
“I think so,” Yuni said. “I’ve never done anything like it before but I can, probably. Well, maybe. There is a chance that I may or may not be able to.”
“We’ll just have to try,” Sirvanna said. “Everyone climb into the back. We’re going to have to squeeze close together to give Aurora a smaller area to work with.”
“I like this plan already,” Ines said.
“There’s one small problem,” Katelyn said.
“And that is?” Sirvanna asked.
“I can’t drive,” Katelyn said. “Never learned.”
“You’ll have to make due,” Sirvanna said. “We don’t have too far to go. Pixie, get in first and maintain a line of sight with the road. I’ll get in next to you and direct you as best I can. Undine, Sylph and Mara can get in next. Aurora can stand back a little and try to cover us all.
It was not an easy ride. Sirvanna’s voice could be heard shouting out “Turn left, left. Your other left!” “Watch out for that tree!” and “Car, car turn away from the car!” They finally managed to come to a stop in a quiet little town near the operation zone.
“All right,” Sirvanna said “We’ll separate here and rendezvous outside of that diner when the mission’s done.”
“Can we ride in the truck again after that?” Yuni asked.
“No!” Sirvanna said. “I mean, it’s too risky to keep the truck around. Undine, I want you to take the truck somewhere outside of town and crash it. Be careful not to injure yourself and catch up to Aurora and I afterwards.”
“Yeah, yeah. That’ll be a snap,” Ines said. “I’ll catch up to you shortly.”
“Good luck, Mara,” Sirvanna said. “Complete your mission and come back safely.”
“We’ll complete the mission,” Alena said.
“Well that was hopeful,” Katelyn said. She and Alexa followed Alena while Sirvanna and Yuni went in the opposite direction.
Feedback is appreciated, but please keep it constructive.