The Forgotten Wind
Code Adam Fanfic
by Alexis von Kryze
"Your target is a T-2 who's been stirring up trouble. We need him eliminated because-"
"I don't care why. Just tell me where he is."
The man with the yellow eyes stalked out, going for his prey.
“Can’t you guys calm down for one second ?” Vayu asked, exasperated.
“NA-NA-NA!” The kids ran around, playing in the snow.
I watched them, wondering if I should join. Eh, I never enjoyed the snow much anyway, and I was tired from the last test.
Still, I bring up a wind and throw the snow around, hitting Frida’s face.
“I know you did that! I’m gonna get you!” she declares to me, after plastering Qasim with a snowball.
“Come on, Frida, it’s time for your test.” Vayu led her, albeit with difficulty, away into the lab.
My name is Azul. I am 15 years old and the lab is all I’ve known of the world. They call us T-2s, and I overheard Jacob say to a visiting scientist called Vesta that we are weaker versions of the ‘Originals’. Who they are, I have no idea. All of us kids (there are 5 of us here, and I’m the oldest) have ‘abilities’, but we’re filled with pain when we use them. Not that the scientists care. Every time I get tested, the pain and fatigue gets worse. I can manipulate wind and air, although not to a great degree.
While we’re eating lunch in the cafeteria (nutrient cubes again), Akira and Vayu suddenly come inside. Akira looks around and fixates on me.
“Hey Azul, we need you for a test. Follow us.”
“But I don’t have anything on my schedule; I had a test just a few hours ago,” I complain.
“This is a special one, I’ll make sure to treat you later, okay?”
“Alri--ght..” I get up and follow them.
Our lives are so regimented, I wonder what this special test could be. Are they going to try to enhance my power again? On the way, I notice that Vayu looks downcast. He is usually pretty cheerful, so I’m a bit scared now.
“In here.” I enter a room with an ominous looking chair with a headset and a monitor. I look up to Vayu questioningly.
“Don’t worry, sit down.”
I sit down, still a bit apprehensive. Akira puts the headset over me and loads up a syringe.
“Are you sure about this?” Vayu asks her.
“Yes, we’ve researched enough. It should make him stronger and God knows, we could use another like him.”
“Like who?” I ask.
“Never mind that, now close your eyes and try to be calm.”
Vayu starts up something, the monitor lights up and my headset starts humming.
‘What’s happening?’ races through my mind over and over.
I close my eyes and I feel a slight pin prick as Akira uses the syringe.
Then all goes black.
“Atlas, wake up.”
I open my eyes and see a vaguely familiar face.
“Seems like you overexerted yourself, we brought you back to the lab. Well done destroying the enemy base.”
Enemy base? Which enemy? What base?
“Okay now, we need to do the usual reg-test, follow me.”
Her face and voice finally registers as Vesta, the scientist who had visited our lab once.
I get up and follow her, my mind whirling with questions.
Wait, I feel different. Is my hair… white? What? I look down and I’m wearing a military uniform, of all things. I reach up to my hair and-
Where’s my hand?
It’s still by my side? I stop and reach up again, but nothing happens. I keep walking, my hand by my side. I panic and say “What?” but my voice doesn’t come out.
I’m terrified and it dawns on me.
I’m a prisoner in someone else’s body .
As we’re walking, somehow I manage to focus my splitting head on a wall beside me. There’s a calendar on it.
Wait- why does it show the year 1812? I was just an infant then…
Is this… a memory ?
The world goes black around me and I’m teleported into flaming ruins.
Gunfire erupts around me as I run, my cloak (since when do I have a cloak?) flaps behind me. I don’t feel the warmth as I run through a wall of fire, reach cover, peek out and see two soldiers and raise my hands.
Two icicles erupt from the ground and impale them. There is no pain when I use my power, but I feel freezing cold. Blood spurts out and they die . Even though it’s not me, I mentally fall back and my head is splitting again.
I killed someone.
I open my eyes again, extremely disoriented and feeling like my head weighs a 1000 tonnes. There is harsh white light shining on me.
I hear a familiar voice: “Azul! Are you okay?”
I feel something being removed and I fall to the floor.
“Akira, is this supposed to happen?”
“You know that some disorientation is expected.”
As the world comes back into focus, I see Vayu’s messy curls, Akira’s long hair parted down the middle and realize I’m back in the lab room with them.
“Okay, you can go take some rest.” Akira says. “We’ll test you tomorrow.”
What? Aren’t they going to explain what just happened?
But… for some reason, I don’t say anything, just nod.
I go to my room, and reflect on the huge mass of invading memories. There’s no way I can sort it all out. It’s all I can do to just keep them at bay and think. I try to sleep and after a while, am successful.
The whole night, I don’t dream. I remember. I remember as Atlas . I see his life, how he went on missions, how he took it all on himself to spare the others from the horrors of his life. I see war , I see blood , I see ice .
“Take a moment, then come to the testing room.” Akira woke me up.
I go to the testing room where there’s a huge pile of ice.
“Try to control or move some of the ice. Can you?” Vayu asks.
So that’s why they did this. They want me to have that guy… Atlas’s ability.
I wonder if I do...
I reflect on everything that happened to Atlas, what he had to do. I still can’t process everything, but I decide. I want out . Out of this lab, out of this life.
I make a show of trying to control the ice and nothing happens. Then I make some gestures and fall dramatically. I say to Vayu with wide eyes: “I can’t! I can’t control the ice but I can’t even use my wind. What- ever since that test my head has been aching and I can’t use my ability!”
Vayu stares at me.
He says to Akira, “Something is very wrong. Not only did the experiment fail, but it did something to him…”
Akira’s slanted eyes look at me intensely. “Are you sure you can’t use your ability?”
“Yeah, I’ve been trying. What’s going on? Someone tell me!”
“What did you experience when you were in that room?”
I hesitate. “I couldn’t see anything. It was all black for a while and when I came to, my head felt heavy and I was hurting everywhere.”
“Vayu, a word.”
They go out of the room.
This is a huge gamble and I hope it pays off. Judging from Atlas’s experience, I don’t think they’ll keep me here if I have no use for them. Problem is, they could kill me.
Vayu and Akira talked for quite a long time while I waited.
I tried to plan for the possible decisions they could make. Worst comes to worst, I suppose I could reveal my powers before dying so that they take me back in. But I’d hate that. There’s no way I can stay here after seeing everything that they do. I consider breaking the others out but know it’s impossible. So I wait for my fate.
Akira and Vayu come back in, their expressions unreadable. I feign indignant confusion and ask them “What did you do to me?”
Vayu tells me, “We’re not sure, so, just temporarily, we’re gonna send you to another lab, okay?”
Another lab? That could be bad.
“It’s called Maha Amba. You’ll be escorted by two guards, it’s perfectly safe. Akira will follow after a while as well.”
“Just take this pill before you go.” Vayu hands me a pill.
I know it’s a suppressant, which could mess up my plans, my escape. I palm it and pretend to swallow it.
“Okay, let’s go,” he says, leading me to a car outside with two armed guards.
I get in, apprehensive and showing it.
He notices, and reassures me “Don’t worry, that lab is similar to this and they won’t harm you.”
Yeah, right. I’ve learnt enough from Atlas to know that they definitely intend to harm me, now or later. But I put on a satisfied face as the window (tinted, all of them) rolls up.
We’re on our way and I have a very limited window of opportunity to escape.
I look at the guards, sizing them up. I’m getting better at using Atlas’s memories as I recall from them and mark that they both have assault rifles. This will be tough. Right now, they’re wary of me. I hear one of them call me a horror and he keeps glancing at me sideways like I’m some forbidden artifact. I notice that he has a tag, numbered 1284.
I have to time it well. I wait for a while until they kinda seem to decide I’m not an immediate danger and I see they relax a bit. Then I peer out the windows and think. I see a bridge coming up and I prepare myself. As soon as we drive onto the bridge, I concentrate. This is really tough but the painful training pays off.
I concentrate on the air inside the front right tyre and expand it. Nothing’s happening, I push more intensely.
One of the guards, 1284, notices. “Hey kid, what are you doing?”
I don’t reply.
“Stop! Stop whatever you’re doing, horror.”
“What is he doing?”
“You shut up and drive, I’ll handle this.”
I suddenly feel cold, cold metal on my forehead. I know it’s a gun and I tense up. But I’ve been building it up and thankfully it has the perfect timing.
BOOM-HSSSSSSSS the tyre bursts.
Suddenly the car veers off and the gun falls off somewhere to my side.
Everything is chaos but my hand was already on the door handle.
Of course, it’s locked.
I brace myself as the car crashes into the side of the bridge. The airbags expand and the doors unlock. I open it and jump out (My passenger seat opens out into the open, not the bridge). Then I jump over the bridge.
Falling , the world revolves around me. I sense the water coming up and I throw out a burst of wind around me to provide a cushion. My control isn’t good though, and I still hit the water hard. I go under for a while and then resurface. I see the guards and one spots me. He aims his rifle at me, then hesitates. I know what’s going through his mind. Will he get into trouble if he kills a T-2?
I take advantage of that second of hesitation to take a deep breath and go back under, swimming to the river bank. A gun starts firing at the water. We weren’t really taught swimming but I keep blasting wind behind me which propels me forward. As soon as I get to the bank, fueled by my adrenaline rush and thinking only to escape, I run for my life.
6 years later
I wash my face and eat two nutrient cubes that are delivered for me.
I walk in the blue-lighted corridor, and hear a voice ring out.
I look around, and it’s Reyna running towards me.
“Good morning!” she says, full of cheer.
I crack a rare smile. “Good morning, Reyna.”
“Wanna race to the dining room?”
“Hm.. I don’t know..” I pretend to think. “I won’t stand a chance against you.”
“No, no!! I promise I’ll go easy on you! Cmon, please? It’ll be fun!” she says, dancing around me.
“Well,” I say, scratching my chin. “If you promise to go easy on me, then I might have a shot.”
“Atlas! Reyna! Out of the way!”
Nine and a bunch of tiny figures on his back zoom past us while we watch, startled.
“Go faster, Nine!” “Ahaha!” “Faster, faster!”
“Alright, you brats! But you’d better hold on tight!”
I open my eyes, startled.
“Where am I?”
I look around, at the small room, the cot, my bag on the table.
Right, this is my home.
After escaping from the lab, I went to the red-light district because I knew that would be the only place I could survive. I’ve lived mostly as a thief, taking on odd jobs here and there. My identity is a secret and I rarely use my abilities. I wear colored contact lenses.
I know staying here is a risk because of the vigilante, but from what I’ve seen so far, he/she (most people who have seen him/her didn’t live to tell the tale) would only target me if I went out of my way and killed a lot of people or something.
That’s a big point: I haven’t killed anyone yet. I always manage to somehow weasel my way out of situations that require death. Except in the nights of course. Atlas haunts me every night. I relive his memories over and over again.
Now, why haven’t I seeked the vigilante out myself? Well, why would I? I don’t need to ask anything, I’m not interested in being a vigilante and-
I don’t want anything to do with the horrors.
I’ve chosen to ignore that aspect of my life the best I can. Everything Atlas experienced: I don’t want that.
I’ve seen a few other T-2s, a guy with glasses who’s essentially a thug, a redhead and a girl who accompanies him everywhere. The redhead might’ve been that guy, so all the more reason to avoid him. I followed him once (I’m pretty sure he knew I was there) and overheard him discussing a cure.
Well, I’d like a cure for sure, but I didn’t go to them, didn’t believe it’s possible because of three reasons:
- I don’t think it’ll work. Why would the scientists even make a cure?
- The cure is Atlas, who is trapped in a lab. I don’t think two T-2s (or three, if I joined them) would be able to break him out.
- Even if they could, after reliving everything Atlas has been through, I just can’t go up and ask him to sacrifice himself for us.
But… even though he’s never met me, he’s the one I know most intimately.
I decide to go to his lab, scout it out. I probably won’t be able to do anything, but I can’t just ignore a guy whose memories I have, who I live as every night, when I know where he is.
I take my essentials kit and try to locate the lab. I don’t know exactly where it is, but I have many hints from his memories. After going through them many times, I’m pretty confident I know where it is. I steel myself and leave my house, heading to a sister place to my childhood home (if I can call it that).
The place I’m travelling to isn’t marked on any map. As I get close, I see dilapidated ruins. I wind through them on my z-bike.
When I get somewhat near the approximate location in my head, I park it and start walking, hood up.
I see a ruined fence, climb over it and see another, modern electric fence in the distance. I follow it, looking for a place that’s relatively covered. No guards yet, but I can feel that I’m in the right place. There’s a copse, which I skirt. I need a high place. I finally find a suitable spot, another bunch of ruins with a still-standing apartment. I go inside and climb all the way up to the top, using wind to blow away debris and lift myself up in broken places. This place was attacked in the war.
I get to the roof and look around. I see the facility, and this is Atlas’s place all right. It’s heavily protected; the fence I saw was just an outer perimeter. Explains why I didn’t recognize it from Atlas’s memories. There’s a wall further in, and then the lab pops up. I can see black specks (guards) along the boundary.
Well, I thought as much. I can’t breach this place, can’t break Atlas out. I am aware of my limits. Even if I could, do I want to?
I finally allow myself to think about the question nagging me ever since I set out. I respect why he did it, but I can’t respect all the bloodshed. He’s a murderer. And what would I even do after breaking him out?
Even though I have his memories, he’s still a mystery. I’d assume he would want to be free, but then again who knows? Maybe he considers this as finally a modicum of peace for him. What if he doesn’t want to live on the run?
I go back down, retrace my steps. I find my z-bike, and start returning home. On the way, I think: he’s so close yet so far. Who knew that a person could be such a puzzle even when you have his memories?
Back home, I look at myself in the mirror. The blue hair, the iconic yellow eyes which I now cover with blue contact lenses, and the burnt half of my face.
I recall a memory, my own for a change.
It was the first and only outing I had from the lab, years ago. Me and a kid from another lab were sent as bodyguards to someone important. Who, we never found out.
I’d heard that the enemies in the war were mostly red-haired, so I was wary of him and we didn’t talk much on the way.
He had an intimidating aura, and I was frankly both curious and scared so I observed him shyly.
I was excited to see the outside world, but we were taken in a closed vehicle with no chance to look outside.
We came to our destination, a high-rise skyscraper in the city, only to find smoke rising from one floor of the building.
Suddenly, we saw three men run out and head for a side alley. Red Kid immediately started chasing them. Two of our accompanying soldiers ran after them, shouting “Stop!”
I looked at the remaining guard, shrugged and started running too. I caught up pretty soon, using my wind. Then I was stopped by a blazing wall of fire. It was too perfect to be natural, the kid must have done it. I jumped through it with a cushion of air and saw the kid with two of the men, one having been shot down by a soldier. He didn’t notice me and put his arms out. I ran towards him (a huge mistake). A burst of fire sprang out around him and I couldn’t stop. I came beside him, right into the edge of the flames.
My face got burnt, the pain unbearable. I fell unconscious.
When I woke up, I was in the lab. I never found out what happened to the redhead. Looking back on it, it might’ve even been an escape attempt.
I write down everything I found out about the lab Atlas is in, even though I don’t plan on breaking in, in a file and keep it.
I open my fridge. Empty. Time for another job.
I go to the mafia den, riding through the narrow alleys of the district on the z-bike.
Thugs, girls, and junkies surround me on the streets.
I wish I could do something about it, but I can’t .
Stopping small stuff like a thug beating up an old guy doesn’t change anything but I still do it sometimes. For change you’d have to take out the big shots, but they’re well-protected. I could take one out easily, but by that time there’d be a bounty on my head and I’d be dead the next day.
I go inside, the bouncers frisk and wave me through. I go through the regrettably familiar way, and reach an inner room. where the boss is sitting at a poker table, gambling with some henchmen. It can’t exactly be called playing, as they usually let him win. No one wants to be at the receiving end of one of his tempers.
I wait until he seems relatively free, and hail him. He turns and looks at me. The boss. A large man with a head of black hair swept to the side with a patch. He is wearing a tux, as usual. His eyes are dark brown, and they fiercely drill into me. Then he relaxes and says, “Azul! Need a job? You came at the right time. We need to execute that SOB Gunter. I don’t think I’ve ever sent you to kill someone, but you’re usually reliable, so I’m entrusting this to you.”
My eyes go wide. Execute? Kill? No-
Wait, calm down. You can’t show anything, any weakness to the boss. I knew this day would come eventually. I say, trying to sound confident, “Sure boss, just give me the details.”
“We need him dead by tomorrow. You can choose where and how. Just don’t kill him in a public place.”
“Okay… and payment?”
“You know better than to ask for an advance, Azul. I’ll pay you extra well for this one. I’m in a good mood.”
Whenever I think of killing, I have flashbacks of the war. It’s like I’ve killed over and over again and I
don’t want to
Well, it’s happening again now. I can’t think clearly, it’s just bloodbloodcorpsesdeath -
I hit myself on the head, “Calm down!”
It’s not like I have a choice. It’s him or me.
I know of my target as well, he murders ruthlessly and casually.
For some reason, that doesn’t make thinking about it easier.
I decide to.. get him in his house, at night. I go to the area, scout it out. There are bodyguards near the front gate. I can’t go that way, they’ll raise the alert. What else, what can I use…
He lives in an expensive two-story house, with a sloping roof in the old-style architecture.
Wait… I can use that.
I approach the apartment beside it. It doesn’t have guards or anything, but it doesn’t seem abandoned. A stray black cat slinks out and crosses me. I go inside; it seems like it’s a normal residential apartment, but mostly empty.
I take the elevator to the top, and the roof is unlocked.
Surveying the area, my plan just might work.
I come back at night, using my acquired skills to blend into the shadows, wearing a black hoodie. I creep to the apartment. The guards at his house are more alert now, but they don’t notice me. I ascend to the roof again.
And I jump off.
I’ve refined my powers since the river, and this time, I direct myself and cushion myself properly this time, landing on the roof of Gunter’s house. I quickly take cover, hoping the guards didn’t detect the sound. I look for an opening, and there isn’t one. However, there is an overhanging balcony in the back. I drop down and unlock the glass door, get inside. This room is empty, a spare bedroom. I sneak out of the room, encountering an empty living room. I hear sounds from a closed room. I open the door as silently as possible and peer into it. Gunter is sitting at a desk, writing something. He has blond hair and a lean build. He has a somewhat Nordic look. I probably can’t go all the way to him without alerting him. So.. I concentrate and block his windpipe. He clutches at his throat and turns around, staring at me but silent. I go in, hand held out. I start suffocating him. He thrashes in the air and his eyes bulge. I look away for a second and he goes limp. When I look back-
It’s a red-haired man, impaled through the back by a stake of ice. He’s bleeding all over the floor.
I let go and fall back to the ground.
I blink, and Gunter comes back.
I blink again, and ice, blood…
I clutch my head, everything screaming at me to run away.
I close my eyes, think of a ripple in a blue lake. It usually calms me, but this time, the drop of water turns red and the lake becomes blood.
I almost scream but put my hand over my mouth in time and it’s muffled.
I look at Gunter, lying on the floor.
I am paralyzed, and can do nothing but stare at him for what seems like hours (but is probably minutes).
Somehow, I regain control of myself and stand up, shaking. I crouch beside Gunter and check his pulse. Nothing- then bump...bump...
He’s still alive .
I can’t kill him.
I return to the balcony, jump up to the roof, my mind somehow both blank and heavy, bursting.
What do I do now?
I jump over the back wall and run as fast as I can, with a gust of wind behind me. A guard spots me and shouts, “Hey! Stop! Who are you?”. It’s night and he can’t catch up to me, but I lift dust from the ground and create what is effectively a smokescreen as I run.
As I run away from the failed mission, into certain doom.
I run, barely noticing where I’m going, not caring.
When I finally run out of breath, I stop in a dark alley, panting. I force myself to think. I can’t go back home. They will have discovered Gunter. Either his men or the mafia will get me.
I am so afraid.
I look around, try to figure out my bearings and whereabouts.
Damn it. This is a hostile neighborhood. I see a few brutes on the other side and they look at me, start towards me.
I take a deep breath and start running again. I head for a place I know on the outskirts, mostly abandoned.
I enter a building, climb to a higher floor (don’t know the number, don’t care).
I almost killed someone.
Atlas is invading my head again. So many deaths, all running through my mind.
“LEAVE ME ALONE, ATLAS!”
All the anger at Atlas, at the mafia boss, at my degeneration, at this world in which I have to murder to survive, all the pain built up from using my powers, all of it explodes out of me.
Everything flies away from me. All the glass, the windows break, I continue yelling, and the gale picks up, destroying everything on this floor.
I scream till my throat is hoarse.
And I collapse.
Everything I had, I spent it, until I am left empty.
And nothing changes. The world stays the same. All my problems stay the same.
I lie there, on a dusty floor with shards of glass and I don’t know what else for who knows how long.
And my eyes finally close, my body gives out, fatigue finally winning, giving me the bliss of sleep.
I hazily sense myself being lifted, and then deposited somewhere. The world starts moving.
I am lifted again, dragged somewhere, and dropped unceremoniously.
It hurts, but everything is vague.
I finally regain consciousness.
Two muscular brutes are standing over me.
“Ey, he’s awake!”
“Okay, do it.” a voice in the distance, maybe over a cell.
I wonder where I am. Who got me?
Before I can think, WHUMP.
I cry out in pain as I’m punched in the gut.
They beat me up, not stopping as I cry out, hurting everywhere.
After a while when I go numb, they pick me up and drag me inside a room and leave, locking the door.
I can do nothing but try to bear the pain and wait.
Some time later (I’ve lost track), a man opens the door and comes in. I see a patch, black hair.
No, no, no-
He slaps me, then turns and paces the room.
His usually immaculate appearance is now somewhat disheveled, and he adjusts his tie and hair.
“Oh, Azul. Why did you have to fail me?”
So he’s the one who got to me.
“You were always so reliable.. Your exemplary loyalty and service over the past few years is the only reason your body is not in an incinerator right now.”
He looks towards me, as if waiting for me to speak.
I find myself unable to.
“This is a very unusual thing, but I’m prepared to give you one more chance. I hope you have learnt something from this time, this error. If you fail me again, the punishment will be more severe and permanent. You understand?”
I manage a small nod.
“Your target this time will be TJ. You know him, right? This should be easy then.”
TJ? Oh please, no… why?!
He notices my discomfort and a sadistic smirk grows on his face.
“He stopped a few of our men from making an example of a lady and her child who did not repay their debt to us. You, my friend, will make an example of him instead. Eliminate him and bring his head to me.”
The boss turns and leaves, leaving the door open behind him.
I realize that this is also part of my punishment.
TJ was the only one who helped me when I first came to the district. He hates this place and tries to help people whenever he can.
When I started working for the mafia, we cut our ties.
There’s no way I can kill him.
But there’s nothing else I can do.
I pace outside of TJ’s house.
I can’t kill him.
I try to think of other options. Can I explain the situation to him and try to escape with him? No, he might not agree and the mafia would definitely get us. In fact, I’m pretty sure one of their guys followed me here as well.
What do I do?
I keep pacing. Maybe when he comes back, we can discuss.
I glance around. I am trying to be low-key in a hoodie, near the back of his house.
The area seems pretty empty.
Suddenly, a woman comes into view, walking in my direction.
I realize I look pretty suspicious, standing silently near a house and pacing.
So I hail her, “Hey, what’s someone like you doing here?”
She turns to look at me and I’m struck by her face. She has dark brown, wavy hair falling over her shoulders, striking hazel eyes and an elfin face.
“What do you mean, someone like me?”
She has this aura of authority about her, which she turns on at will.
“Well, a beauty, of course.”
The lady chuckles. She holds out a badge-
She’s a cop.
“I was assigned here because many people reported seeing thugs in this area.”
Probably the mafia, for TJ.
I try to put on a confident air. “Well, what do you think? Am I a thug?”
“You might be, the way you’re lurking around with that burnt face.”
“Touché. I’m Azul.”
...why am I sweettalking a cop?
“Thanks. What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for my friend who lives here.” Well, it’s technically the truth, isn’t it?
“Cool, can you give me his name?”
“Calls himself TJ.”
“Gotta be careful, that dratted mafia must have some job here.”
Hmm… it seems like she doesn’t like the mafia. More than a casual dislike.
The gears start turning in my mind.
“Okay, I’ll go check out the other side. Tell me if you see anything.”
Can I really do that? It’s incredibly risky with a very low chance of success.
And if she’s dirty like most of the cops I know, then I’ll be dead for sure.
I watch her lithe form walk away from me, and somehow I get the feeling that she isn’t.
Plus, I’m running out of time. I can’t kill TJ.
She stops, turns around.
I run up to her.
“What if I could help you take down the mafia?”
“I hope you aren’t messing with me.”
“How could one guy take down the mafia?”
“Well, I do need you.”
She cocks her head. “Okay, I’m intrigued. Go on.”
I tell Kaelen about my situation, that I was asked to kill and failed and now they’re asking me to kill this guy, a former friend, omitting the part about me having abilities. And I say that I have enough info to put about half of the mafia in jail, if they don’t kill me first.
And the only way to prevent that is to get the man at the top first.
“Well, I need a warrant before I can arrest anyone.”
“At least half the force is in their pay. You’d be silenced one hour after applying for a warrant. The only way is to get him first and detain him. They can’t justify his release, and he can’t control stuff from jail.”
“I see your point, but I can’t just randomly bust into a place and get someone on the basis of one man’s say. Anyway, how would we get into the mafia den?”
“I have my ways. I understand what you mean, but I assure you this is the only way to destroy the mafia. If you want to do that, then come with me.”
She inhales sharply. “Of course I do.. Fine, I’ll go along.”
“Okay so first things first. His name is Bosch.”
“Oh come on, are you serious about this?” I demand, turning around.
“I am! It’s just- the boss Bosch-” she erupts into laughter again.
As I look at her, I have the sudden unexplainable urge to forget Bosch, ignore everything and stare at her face, her laugh.
I come out of my stupor as she says, “Well? Is his name all you have?”
I give her the info on the mafia I’ve gathered in over 4 years working for them.
And we prepare to do what no one could- to crush the mafia before it crushes us.
Kaelen and I go to the back entrance of the den, which is disguised as a fruit store (Lalin’s Peaches and Tangerines).
I left a note at TJ’s house, explaining and warning him to get away. We have to get Bosch silently, and not allow many people to see us, because if they do, they will hunt us.
Huh. I fell into the habit of thinking us pretty easily.
So, how to avoid detection? Well, it’s impossible to not be seen by anyone and yet get to the boss in the mafia den. We need some chaos so that we can escape. It doesn’t matter if they know I was there and then not know where I went if it’s the same for the whole crowd in the den.
I enter alone, say that I need to see the boss, having completed my job. They check me for weapons. When they ask what I have in my bag, I say “My target’s head. As ordered. Wanna see?” They turn away with disgusted looks and allow me in.
Bosch is alone, relaxing and smoking a pipe.
I stare at him with cold eyes.
“I did it.”
“Well you certainly look like it. Show me the head.”
I lean down, make as if to take something out, and concentrate.
I hear a “Huh?” and a gasp.
I straighten and look at him.
A knife is hovering over his neck .
He kept it in his suit pocket; I’ve seen it enough times. Using air to lift it and hover it close to his neck was tough, but I was fueled by hate for him.
And I was calm. I knew I had to be.
I finally had him. My benefactor and tyrant for the last few years, the top gun of the mafia, I had him.
I had practiced this.
To get him silently, I truly had to intimidate him. Which would be difficult normally, so I decided to reveal my power after some consideration.
“How does it feel? One movement, one word and that knife will slice your neck.”
His eyes widen as he realizes I’m controlling it.
For the first time, our positions are reversed.
“Now listen, you bastard. You’re gonna order your guards to leave the back entrance and go somewhere else. Make up a problem, anything, I don’t care.”
His face twists into a derisive sneer for a moment.
I can imagine him saying, “Still too much a coward to kill me?”
I push the knife and it touches his skin.
He inhales sharply, involuntarily.
I need to scare him good. He needs to believe I will kill him.
I know that he won’t risk his life to tell the mafia about me if he believes.
I see a shift in expression, know that it’s safe. I hand his transmitter to him, and slowly pull the knife back.
He orders the guards away, makes up a cock-and-bull story about someone stealing his drug hoard in sector 8.
We’re in the clear.
I reach into the bag and take out two canisters and a pouch. I open the door to the main den, and without showing my face, throw the pouch and empty the canisters. Then I close the door and will it to spread throughout the den.
I smile as I hear screaming and the sounds of running.
It’s actually just dust, smoke and spray paint for a bit of color, but people in the mafia don’t take chances. Smoke means fire, colored gas could mean poison, and no one will rush to see the source or to save the boss except maybe a few loyal guards. But they’ll be delayed by the chaos and we’ll be long gone.
I walk up to Kaelen, a bit nervous since I haven’t told her about the power and the knife is still hovering next to Bosch’s neck.
What will I do if she also labels me a freak, if she’s afraid of me?
TJ never said it outright but that was one of the reasons we parted ways.
She looks at the knife, raises an eyebrow at me, and says, “Get in the car.”
Wait.. that’s it?
She just… accepts it?
Maybe she plans to confront me later.
She handcuffs Bosch, takes away his gun and I take the knife back, put it in my pocket.
We go inside her police car. She explained to me that her partner was on leave.
Kaelen drives halfway to the station, a silent ride, and I get out.
The identity of the guy who caught the mafia boss needs to be secret and we had decided this.
I bid goodbye to Kaelen, suddenly wondering if it’s farewell.
If she will never come into my life again now that she’s seen that I’m different.
I turn away, thinking, ‘Why do I care?’
We had planned to rendez-vous at Lemon Café in 4 hours. I go there apprehensively, wait outside in my black t-shirt and shades next to the place. I don’t wanna go in, find no one, and leave again.
But I gotta face it.
I enter the café and I don’t see her.
My heart plummets and I think well, this is what I expected.
I start to go towards the exit, head down.
And then Kaelen comes in through the door.
I stare at her for a while as she stops, seeing me, unable to keep the feeling- joy? out of my eyes.
Then she beckons to me to come outside.
We walk in silence for a while, and I don’t see where we’re going. I’m just wondering what to say, what she will say.
We enter a park which is mostly empty apart from us and she takes me into a sheltered spot, with a few trees and sunlight filtering through. It’s autumn and the red and yellow leaves slowly drift down. I notice a beautiful tiger lily, as I look around, almost anywhere except at her.
A single word.
And everything pours out of me.
I find myself recklessly telling her everything that’s happened, who I am, about the lab, my ability and my life.
And she listens, expressionless.
When I’m done, I can’t face her. I look down, stare at the acorn in front of my feet.
The silence surrounding me is only broken by the slow rush of the nearby stream as I wait.
“So you can manipulate wind?”
I look up at her, into her hazel eyes. “Yes.”
She puts a hand on my shoulder and I shudder. Her face softens.
“I’m sorry for everything that’s happened to you, Azul. You are a victim, not a freak. I know what you’re thinking. It’s hard to come to terms with this, of course. I’ve never encountered something like this. But I will try, because this doesn’t change who you are. Why did I trust a rando and risk my career against the mafia? I don’t know but it was something to do with you. And this doesn’t change that.”
I sink to the ground, falling softly on the leaves.
The only person who, knowing of my power, is not afraid of it, or tried to take advantage of it.
I am not alone anymore.
I never knew I needed this so much.
2 weeks later
The mafia is in shambles, almost entirely destroyed. The police have arrested most of the lieutenants, and an unknown force, probably the vigilante, has helped in the cleanup of the power struggle.
I provided info to the cops through Kaelen.
There is one who is left. He went rogue and gathered a lot of firepower from the remnants of the mafia, and is now fortified in something resembling a modern castle on the outskirts. He kills any policemen who approach, and they have retreated for now.
One survivor went crazy, babbling about some monster with glowing red eyes who killed his entire squad. Kaelen told me about him.
The military is going to come here soon, and there will be a lot of bloodshed.
My mission is to get him before that happens.
He’s called the Mad Wolf.
During these 2 weeks, me and Kaelen met many times, in secret, so that I could give whatever I found.
Once, she came in a purple dress as she was going undercover and I could not keep my eyes off her. She looked beautiful and I told her so. She laughed and said, “Thank you, but it doesn’t much from someone with a half-burnt face, now does it?” I laughed with her, a genuine laugh for the first time in... who knows how long.
Each time, we stayed a little longer than necessary.
The last time (yesterday), I told her my plan. She wanted to come with me, but I convinced her not to.
I waited this long because I needed to recuperate after using my powers in the Bosch incident.
I tried to hone my skill further, going to a field and practicing small and focused air control as well as powerful and large gusts of wind.
And I think I’m ready.
I don’t take a gun. I don’t have a gun, never did and never will.
I won’t let this depraved world get the better of me.
I will not kill.
I go to the outskirts, taking care not to alert the lookouts.
Because there are lookouts. They try to keep a low profile, but I see them. On rooftops, hidden in small nooks and crannies.
I believe most of them do not engage, and inform the Wolf’s forces; who take any approaching policeman or soldier out.
I have to be careful.
I look for what would be near the main entrance of the stronghold or at least the front and head for it.
I think one lookout spots me, but that’s fine.
I wasn’t planning on hiding any more anyway.
I come out into the open and there’s a squad of soldiers waiting for me.
I put my hands up and hail them, “Hey guys! I was a mercenary working for Bosch, and I’ve heard about the Mad Wolf. Who hasn’t? And I’d love working for him. I’m not armed, can you take me to him?”
A female soldier, seemingly the leader, calls out, “Yeah sure, like hell you were. Even if you were, the Wolf needs no more soldiers.”
And they start shooting at me.
Now I try the move I was practicing. If this doesn’t work, I’ll be dead before I even see the Mad Wolf.
I make an intense burst of wind right in front of me.
The bullets slow down.
Some fall to the ground in front of me, and some touch me harmlessly, their speed greatly reduced.
I frown and say, “Well, it was worth a try.”
The soldiers look confused and scared now.
“What are you waiting for? Fire again!” the leader orders.
I start running, propelled by the wind. I zoom past them, dodging the bullets as they struggle to keep up.
“So what do you think? Will you take me to him now?”
I’m standing right behind the leader and Bosch’s knife is held to her throat.
We walk through the gate. I told the guards to throw away their guns.
The leader is dark-skinned with short hair tied up in a bun and strong, still somehow walking in a dignified manner, even after being disarmed and having a knife held to her neck.
I admire that.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Why do you care?”
“Well, I don’t, not really, but we have to walk all this way so might as well ask.”
“Okay, Pax, where’s the Mad Wolf?”
“You’ll never get him. Not unless you get through that first, and there’s no way you can do that.”
“What do you mean by that ?”
But she keeps a stubborn silence from then on.
The Mad Wolf first worked as an assassin. He got his name from the tattoo on his neck as well as the callsigns he left after every job.
Sometimes it was a paw print, sometimes it was a tooth, all drawn in blood.
He rose to power in the mafia, got his own following. He was looked on as a threat by Bosch himself, who asked me to spy on his men once.
But who is this person, or barrier, that Pax seems so confident and even fearful, of?
My question is answered when someone drops down right in front of me.
I immediately hold up the knife to Pax’s neck again.
“Stand down or I’ll kill her.”
My opponent looks up. I can’t discern their gender. They are bald, wearing a tracksuit. They are tall and slender, with glowing red eyes, and hold a somewhat-modified pistol.
“My objective is simply to eliminate you. That takes precedence over any other lives.”
And they fire.
I try the previous technique, but it fails, because:
I wasn’t ready for this, not expecting it;
My vision is blocked by Pax;
My body doesn’t respond after I expended so much power.
I try to dive to the side, to dodge the bullet, but I’m too slow.
The bullet passes straight through Pax’s head and into my shoulder.
I fall, numb with shock.
I am losing a lot of blood, and I see the corpse in front of me and my mind shuts off.
Why would they kill their own comrade?
And they’re already at my side. Damn, they’re fast.
“AL-47 here. Mission accomplished. The intruder has been taken care of.”
My vision goes blurry, and then SWOOOSH-
They instantly dodge, but the sword came this close to beheading them.
A masked woman with white hair is standing behind me.
It’s the vigilante of the red light district!
“Why did you help me?” I struggle to voice myself.
“My target is that abomination. It has never known a life, raised only by combat and strife. It would be a mercy to remove it from this world.”
“Still, thank you.”
“I respect what you have done for the district. I am honored to help you. Would you join me?”
“Thanks, but no thanks. I do not wish to be a vigilante.”
“I understand. So we part here.” saying so, she goes after AL-47.
I belatedly realize that the vigilante is an Original. It must be one of the three girls I saw in Atlas’ memories. Maybe Hiru?
I try to stand up. I don’t succeed at first, and then I’m able to get up.
I am still losing blood through the shoulder, and the pain finally comes. I can barely keep myself from screaming.
I force myself to tear a piece of my t-shirt, tying the black cloth over the wound.
I blink and try to focus in front of me. I see a wolf tattoo .
I stare into the muzzle of a gun.
The Mad Wolf is standing in front of me, holding a pistol to my head.
“Aw, the super soldier is gone? Well, it was useful at least. You are too weak to pose a threat now. How dare you infiltrate my castle? Now its walls will be defiled with your blood.”
And he continues laughing.
As if time has slowed, I see his finger start to depress the trigger.
I wish I had more time with Kaelen…
I must have started hallucinating, because I see her behind the Wolf.
Then his body spasms, and he falls. The pistol clatters to the floor.
And I pass out, into blissful darkness.
I open my eyes slowly, close them again.
Kaelen is sitting beside me, looking at me with a concerned face.
“Wha- how-” then I cough.
“Don’t try to speak. Your makeshift tourniquet came undone. I’m trying to stop the bleeding again.”
I ignore her. “How.. why are you here?”
“Well, you had disposed of most of the guards.. They were hardly alert. I knocked out or tased a few.”
“But why did you follow me?”
“Azul. You wanted to break into an impregnable fortress, kill a mafia lieutenant, unarmed and with a deteriorating body. But I knew you wouldn’t allow me to follow if I told you, so I took matters into my own hands.”
“I just didn’t want to lose you.”
“And you think I did?”
She smiles. “You’re an idiot. Now try to get up and let’s get out of here.”
Our escape is mostly a haze for me.
Kaelen saved me, a ‘horror’.
She didn’t want to lose me.
I don’t feel the pain of my wound, I just feel the warmth of my heart.
We go to her place.
I take a while to rest, while she uses a medkit on me.
“You exposed yourself to a lot of people there.”
“So did you.”
“Well the police were supposed to take him out anyway. But you know that you can’t go back to your house right?”
“..Yeah. I’ve accepted that I won’t see any of my belongings again. I was ready when I started this thing.”
Kaelen looks at me, an unreadable expression on her face. And her eyes, oh, those eyes, they stare into my own.
I break it off and say, “You sure you’ll be safe?”
“I think so. Not many saw me. And the mafia is ruined anyway.”
“But they’ll hold a grudge. They can accept a gang fighting another. But a cop and an outsider taking out one of the lieutenants, the last hope of the mafia? If anyone saw you there, they’ll hunt you.”
She sighs, then looks away. “Likewise for you.”
“I was prepared for it. I didn’t have much of a life in the district. But you do.”
“I can take the blame on myself, and run away.”
It suddenly strikes me how this is similar to what Atlas did.
“No. If we run, we run together.”
Mixed feelings run through me. She wants to come with me, but that means sacrificing so much. “But-” I start to protest.
She cuts me off, “It must be done.”
Yes, escape would be best for our survival. I nod.
I wait in my room, plan ahead while Kaelen packs her belongings and speaks to her parents and her chief. She told me she would say she’s going on a vacation.
We’re gonna leave the city and go to a nearby town for a while.
We’ll take the metro to the outskirts and then use one of the rentals there.
Hopefully, we don’t encounter any trouble before then.
We get into the car to go to the Underground station.
I look around, checking if anyone is stalking this place, or us. Doesn’t seem like it.
We drive away.
I don’t notice the man watching us from a rooftop, who starts following us.
In the metro:
“You should be proud, you know. You helped the city a lot.”
I’m surprised by this statement out of the blue. I hadn’t really thought about it, what with the Mad Wolf and ...other stuff occupying my mind.
“Couldn’t have done anything without you.”
A minute of silence.
“Can you fly?” Kaelen asks with a sheepish expression. “I was just wondering, since you can manipulate wind…”
“Well, not really. I’m not that powerful. It requires a lot of control and specific conditions as well. I tried a few times but all I can do is hover, or cushion falls, or propel myself.”
“Interesting.” she tries not to look disappointed.
“What?” she asks indignantly.
The metro comes out of a tunnel and into the open.
I point at a kid with a balloon near us.
I concentrate, and control the air in the balloon. It requires immense focus but I’ve been practicing.
The balloon changes into a flower.
“Ma, look!” the kid says. But I only maintain it for a few seconds and it changes back to normal.
Kaelen turns to me, the corners of her lips turned up, and she’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen-
And the windows shatter.
We look around, startled. All the windows are gone, and the metal sills around them seem to be contracted .
Wind rushes past us in the cabin. We hear a CLANG on top of us.
And yellow eyes peer in through a window a few seats away.
I’m instantly in alert mode, not knowing why a horror is here, but knowing that it can’t be good. And they’re powerful as well.
I yell at Kaelen, “We have to get out of here!”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“No time! Jump out!”
She looks shocked but regains herself and prepares to jump out the window. I’m right behind her. The other passengers are staring at us.
The train skids to a stop near a station.
She puts her hand on the sill, waits a second and jumps. I do the same.
We run to a street and mingle into the crowd, catching our breath.
“Okay, what was that about? Did someone cause the windows to break?”
“Yes. I’m not sure who, but it was definitely a horror.”
“Don’t- don’t say that. You are not a horror and I’m sure neither are they.”
I smile, then grimace, thinking of Atlas and his forays. “Thanks for the sentiment, but I know that some of us are.”
She glances at me questioningly, because I haven’t elaborated on what was in Atlas’ memories to her.
“Later.” I say.
“You’re sure the one who’s chasing us is against us? Or even out for us specifically?”
“Would anyone simply wanting to meet us or help us shatter the windows of a moving train to get to us?? And how did they know where we were? As to whether they are hunting us specifically, I don’t believe in coincidences and I don’t want to leave our fate to a chance that they were after someone else.”
“Okay, I understand. What’s our next step?”
“I’m not sure. We should go somewhere else though.”
“I have a police friend in this area. We can go ask her for help or temporary shelter.”
“I don’t want to bring anyone else into this…”
“I think it’s our safest bet.”
Our disagreement is put off when I spot someone standing on a stall, surveying the crowd.
Our eyes lock and I feel his death glare even from this distance.
He has white hair.
I take Kaelen’s hand and run.
We push people aside as I try to get as far as possible from where I saw him.
We break out of the crowd and I try to gain my bearings. What should we do? Where should we go? I look around frantically.
“Calm down, Azul.”
Kaelen is looking at me calmly.
“Where did you see our pursuer?”
“In the crowd, that direction.”
“It won't do to panic. Do you know this area?”
“Not really, no.”
“Then follow my lead. I’ve been here once or twice. We’ll try to get to the station.”
We start to walk, fast but trying to look normal.
“We should take a detour through the slums, try to lose him.”
She considers, then nods.
“Do you know who he is?”
“Not really, no.”
I start to think. Out of the male Originals, from what I remember, Atlas and Nine are in a lab together. Viis is probably the infamous mad doctor.
So that leaves Otto and Deus.
We keep walking, trying to ignore the misery around us and reach a fork.
Suddenly, a metal barricade rises up from the ground on two sides.
Metal? Then it must be Deus.
But that doesn’t match with the personality I remember…
I guess that incident and its consequences changed them all.
We take off towards the remaining street. I don’t have to say anything, we just start running.
But suddenly, before we get far, a man with a white mohawk is standing in front of us.
“Kaelen, get back! Run to the barricade!”
She hesitates, then starts to dash headlong to the metal barrier. As she reaches it, I give her a boost with my wind and she goes over.
“Azul! No, let me return! I’ll help you!” She pounds at the barrier.
“No, you must save yourself!”
“I can’t leave you..”
I give her a further push with a gust, throw her my backpack and turn back to my enemy, ignoring her calls.
They finally stop and I know that she will live. I may not, but she has to.
“Oh, how sweet. Well, I just might let her go. You are my only target after all.”
Then he smirks.
“But then again, maybe not?”
“Why are you doing this?” I shout at him.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing personal. It’s just a military mission. Although, I will enjoy killing one of our fake, weak copies.”
The military? Why would they be after me? Just from the lab? No, wait..
I think about it. The military must have had ties with the mafia. Maybe they were afraid that if I went along systematically destroying it, I’d also be reducing their source of income? Like they would hunt the Vigilante, except I was easier to find. Or maybe they were just looking for revenge.
Either way, I don’t think I can win this.
He starts charging at me with a huge piece of metal.
“What happened to you, Deus?” I demand, hoping to catch him off-guard.
He stops. “How do you know who I am?!?”
I goad him further. “How are you so confident? You were always the weakest, struggling even to move a rod.” I have to make enough time for Kaelen to escape.
“How dare you!” He throws the metal chunk.
I propel myself to the side and dodge it.
“I am the strongest now!”
He summons 5 sharp shards from around him, and throws them all.
I blow two away, and make to dodge the rest.
“NO, Jessie!” I hear a scream from behind.
I look back and there’s an old couple in a shelter by the side of the road. This is the slums, after all.
And the shards are heading straight towards them.
I have no time, I simply jump in front of the shards and try to provide a cushion of air to save myself.
I still get stabbed pretty hard.
The couple look on, horrified and then run away.
“Why did you do that? You don’t even know them.”
“Unlike you, I value lives.”
He sneers. “I hope Atlas isn’t as soft as you.”
“Soft? This isn’t a weakness. This makes us stronger than you.”
“So says the bleeding guy to the one who’s about to kill him.”
“..You’ll never understand. And you’ll never beat Atlas .”
His face contorts with fury.
I might have gone too far.
Huge chunks of metal fly towards me.
I try to dodge, or blow them away, but nothing works and I find myself coughing blood.
This damned body!
Deus starts to beat and crush me with metal. My world gets blacker and bleaker with every hit.
He finally stops.
I have tunnel vision of him, his furious face turning smug.
How does this bastard get a perfect body and so much power while I get my weak, deteriorating body? Why am I doomed to a short life?
And how dare he separate me from Kaelen?
I scream at him and a huge gale of wind erupts from my body.
He’s lifted and thrown far away.
I cover the distance between us in one jump, with a boost.
He’s on the ground and I land on top of him, punching him over and over again.
When I can summon no more energy from adrenaline, I fall down from exhaustion.
I look up at him. He has cuts and bruises on his body, and his clothes are sliced and tattered. Deus gets up to his feet, wipes some blood from his face and his piercings glint as he smiles.
“Ah, you actually managed to hurt me. Not many can do that.”
He holds up his hands and pieces of metal from all over, shards and rods and chunks, come to him and hang suspended in the air.
Then he brings his hands forward and they all zip towards me.
It’s a storm of metal, and there’s no way out.
The first wave slams into me, and I get thrown back.
I try to move, do anything, but I can’t.
I get stabbed, slammed and smashed.
But somehow the pain is numbed.
There’s a slight breeze blowing around me.
It doesn’t affect anything, but it .. comforts me.
I gain a clarity of thought as I bleed out.
I forgive Atlas.
Not just for the chaos he wreaked in my head, which isn’t his fault, but all that he’s done.
Because now I understand him, understand the reason.
If I had to kill to prevent Kaelen from ever knowing or causing bloodshed, I’d do it.
Kaelen… tears run down my face and mix with the blood.
Deus keeps battering me, and he’s close to me now, stabbing me with a huge spear.
But I’m only vaguely aware.
Perhaps someday, when we both have graves to our name, we can walk together again.
A stroll in the park in the heavens.
I see her in front of me.
She turns around and I look into her eyes, diving into their embrace.
The grey around me turns to black.
A woman stands outside the house, clutching something in her hands.
A solitary tear runs down her cheek.
She wipes it away, with a determined look on her face.
She walks up to the house.
She holds up what’s in her hands and slips it under the door.
She walks away without looking back.
A man with sunglasses goes to the door inside the house.
He notices the file, picks it up.
He opens it and glances at what’s in it.
He walks back to the living room, where two people are sitting.
“Looks like we got a lead on our first Original.”
Thanks for reading
Credits: Atterozen - Creator of Code Adam
Lostin_Lalin - Cover art