posted on 6-Oct-2001 3:42:10 PM by Trizha
Title: Mutation

Summary: AU. Still the same pod squad with a twist. IDEA OF X-GENE BORROWED FROM THE X-MEN COMICS Okay, that was supposed to be a disclaimer, is that alright or should I say more? Um…let’s see. How can I condense this? Okay. Pod Squad sent to earth to mature then come back to reclaim Antar. They need Liz, Kyle, Maria and Alex if they are to defeat Khivar and our favorite humans? They’re hybrids…and then some.

Author’s notes: If you’re a die hard X-MEN fan, please forgive my pitiful attempt at using the wonderful idea of the X factor thing. Needed it for the mutant point of view stuff. Also, if you’re a die hard Roswell fan, bear with me too. I’m new at this whole writing thing and new to the board too. Took me ages to figure out the smiley thing and bold/italics stuff.

Chapter 1

ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO

Four teenagers by the names of Max Evans, Isabel Evans, Tess Harding and Michael Guerin sat around a table, their features grim and serious, their whole attention fixed upon the flickering holographic image being projected out of a compact machine in the center of the table. They were more than a little bewildered at this turn of events as they had been all but kidnapped from school and shuttled to the house were they spent most of their free time with the news that their protector had acquired news that could be just the thing they needed to tip the balance in their favour.

Suffice it to say, that at that moment, they did not think so.

For the image above them showed a revolving 3D projection of a girl with long, blond curls streaming down her shoulders, with wide bright blue-green eyes, a cupid bow mouth. She was dressed in a long flowing white robe with long sleeves that nipped in slightly at the waist. She was barefoot. The room was dark, the only light emanating from the image above them.

“ Maria Leah DeLuca.”

The only adult in the room, a tall man with graying dark hair and intelligent gray eyes spoke, his eyes fixed not on the image but on the faces of his young charges. The emotions on their faces ranged from puzzled to apprehensively open to downright mistrust and a lack of feelings altogether. He saw Michael’s dark eyes light up for an instant with obvious interest before it flickered away and faded back into an impassive mask. A faint grin tugged the corner of his mouth upwards. With a click of a button on a remote he held in his hand, the image changed and was replaced by one of a muscular guy with broad shoulders, dark brown hair, a strong jaw line and sky blue eyes. He had the look of a football player, or at least someone heavily involved in sports. He too was dressed in white, although his attire consisted of a long tunic and pants. He was barefoot as well.

“ Kyle James Valenti.”

This time, Tess sat up a little straighter, the look of pronounced mistrust on her face, dimming a bit as she tilted her head to the side in intense scrutiny of the boy. Another faint grin. He clicked the button again.

“ Alexander Charles Whitman.”

The image changed and what now dominated their attention was a tall, gangling guy with black hair and eyes almost the color of indigo, as they were a deep, rich blue. He wore the same thing as the first boy.

This one had a serious and yet gentle look on his face, one that captured Isabel’s attention. She hadn’t much liked the looks of the first boy. He reminded her too much of the many jocks who tried to plaster themselves to her. This boy’s expression intrigued her. Like there was something hidden behind those eyes, just waiting to be discovered.

Another click.

“ And finally… Elizabeth Anne Parker.”

And Max couldn’t help but draw in his breath harshly. The sounded reverberated oddly in the room, which was other wise silent but for the light humming of the tiny machine on the table. The others gaze went to him but he wasn’t looking at them, he was riveted to his seat by the sight above him. It was her.

The girl who haunted him in his sleep.

Who consumed his every waking moment.

She was beautiful. She looked so familiar…

And she took his breath away.

Her hair was dark and fell to the middle of her back in straight, chocolate colored strands and it’s color matched her eyes. They too were the color of warm chocolate, dark and liquid looking. Her mouth was full and generous and the exact color of ripe strawberries. Her attire was exactly the same as the first girl’s except for one thing. Around her neck, she wore a strip of white that resembled a choker and something that looked familiar dangled from it. All four stood as one to get a better look at it, Max the first to do so. When he realized what it was, his eyes widened in shock and he backed away. It was Isabel’s turn to express surprise.

“ Oh my God… she’s wearing the Crest.” She gasped out.

“ What?” Tess snapped, all but climbing onto the table to get a better look. “ It can’t be.”

“ It is.” Michael confirmed with a nod of finality. He glanced over at his best friend. Max looked like he had just been hit with a paralysis beam, a mind rape, and one of his knock out inducing energy blasts all at once. He glanced at the revolving girl again, acknowledging that she was really very pretty but he had liked the looks of the first girl best. She seemed to radiate with fire. In an effort to curb his thoughts about someone who very may well be one of his enemies, he scowled at their guardian. Quinn was watching Max with a knowing look… like he had somehow expected this. He pressed the button again and the lone image of the girl was replaced by the image of the four teens together, standing side by side, all dressed in white, all wearing matching stoic expressions.

“ So who are they, Quinn?” Michael inquired brusquely, wanting to know if he had been admiring the looks of his enemies.

“ Yes,” Tess spoke up, glancing warily at Max as he stared at ‘Elizabeth Anne Parker’. “ Who are they? Are they part of Khivar’s team to find us?”

“ Hardly, little one. In fact, they’re just the opposite. They are the other half of the puzzle.”

Tess’s mouth dropped open. “ You mean they’re the ones…? NO way!”

Michael frowned heavily.

“ Quinn, they’re humans. How are they supposed to help us defeat Khivar?”

“ Do they even KNOW about Khivar?” Isabel interjected, casting a disdainful glance at the clothes. “ And what’s with the weird costumes?”

Quinn smiled at his Princess. “ Do you not recognize them, my lady?” He asked, side stepping her first question.

Isabel wrinkled her nose. “ No. Should I?”

Quinn studied her intently. Of his four charges, Isabel was definitely the one with fewest recollections of the journey to earth, the emergence from her pod and generally, how her life had been back home. All she remembered were snatches of her mother and father’s faces, playing with Max and Michael and Tess or Prince Zan, Lord Rath and Lady Ava as they had been called back home but other than that, Antar was a distant memory to her, just a small, blue and gold speck in the furthest reaches of her mind.

“ I do.” Tess responded after a while. “ They look exactly like the clothes we were wearing when we came out of our pods, remember?”

Michael nodded as recognition flooded through him. She was right. Isabel had frowned and blinked at the pictures the two girls made.

“ Why are they wearing them then?” she asked.

“ Because,” Max finally spoke, “ This is what their creators envisioned to them look like.”

Quinn grinned. Sharp, as always.

“ Wait a minute!” Michael interrupted. “ What ‘creators’? Their parents right? The ones who conceived them? So humans know about us?” The grin seemed to infuriate Michael even more. “ Damn it, Quinn, spill already.”

“ Very well. If you have been paying attention to what I’ve been teaching you about the DNA structure of humans you will remember something I said about a wild card. A mutation. An special gene.”

“ The X gene,” Isabel replied readily.

“ But… I thought you said they hadn’t advanced enough for that kind of mutation to take place. “ Tess said, looking puzzled. “ You said it would take years…”

“ And you are right. The majority of the human race has yet to develop such a mutation but a miniscule percentage of them, less than 0.0000001 in fact, has.” He turned a steady gaze onto the images suspended above them. “ In fact, only four cases are known to us.”

“ You mean… they,” Max glanced towards the four figures suspended above them. “ have the gene?”

“ Yes, they do. They are Homo Sapien Superior. And the more important thing is, they are the ones.”

“ So that means they complete us…” Isabel trailed off, thinking hard. “ Do they have special abilities? Powers?” Her eyes lingered on Alexander. She had been right. There was something to uncover.

Quinn nodded.

“ Well, where are they?” Michael demanded. “ If they can help us win this war, if they are the ones, why aren’t they here with us now, training?”

“ You have to understand few things first, Michael. All of you,” He added, turning to face each of the in turn. “ They were born to completely normal human parents. Parents who didn’t understand why their babies could do things no other children could do. They couldn’t take them to normal doctors for fear of their children being exhibited as freak shows.” His steely gray eyes hardened. “Some of them were too ashamed to admit that their child was different. Too disgusted.”

The four teens looked at each other in comradeship and understanding. Quinn seemed to have known these other kids personally. They could relate to what he was saying because no one knew better than they did about being different and being scorned for it. At least they had been lucky enough to have been raised by human parents who knew about them and still accepted them for it. People who had been selected by their real parents to take their place caring for them for their duration on earth. The kids Quinn was talking about didn’t seem to have had their luck.

“ Fortunately, we found them in time, before they were discovered. They registered on our scans you see, every time they used their powers. But there were…complications. At first, their parents didn’t trust us. It took a lot of work on our part to convince them we meant no harm. A year, maybe two in fact. When the children began to get sick, they panicked and brought them to us. But even then, we had to kidnap one of the girls from her parents because they wouldn’t allow us near her. We had no choice. She was going to die if we didn’t get to her in time.”

Max and Michael immediately looked upon the two girls illuminated above them, each of them wondering the same thing. Which of the two’s parents was so ashamed and repulsed by having a daughter that was different that they would rather let her die than acknowledge it?

“ What was wrong with her…them?” Tess’s softly asked question brought them back from their thoughts.

“ Their powers were manifesting too early. Their bodies couldn’t take the strain of the energy they were generating because it hadn’t built up adequate defenses against their powers yet. You see, their powers weren’t supposed to manifest until they reached late adolescence. That was when it would be safe because their bodies would be protected against their own energy. But they didn’t have that yet. To put it simply, they were being eaten up alive, from the inside out.”

Isabel closed her eyes and Tess looked away uncomfortably. It sounded pretty horrible.

“ How old were they?” Michael asked, jaw clenched.

Quinn hesitated before answering. “They were six years old.”

Six years old. That was the age they had been when they had first come out of their stasis pods.

“ What happened next?” Max asked, eyes wide with curiosity

“ By then, as you may have guessed by now, you four had come out of your pods. We kept all of you hidden in the same building.”

“ By all of us you mean-“ Isabel started to ask but Quinn answered her before her question was finished.

“ I mean all Eight of you shared residence at one point in your lives.”

Max’s eyes glazed over as he heard a far-off sound of tinkling, childish laughter and an image of sparkling doe eyes assailed him. So that’s why she looked so familiar. He had known her. But why couldn’t he remember more? He brought his attention back to Quinn, who had started speaking again.

“ We began to run tests on the others, trying to see how we could help their bodies build up it’s defenses faster. It wasn’t easy. The energy highs they experienced either made them feel extreme pain or gave them fevers, convulsions… sometimes they just passed out from the effects. We started using our powers to make them sleep just so they could rest and not feel pain for a while. And then, one day, we saw his highness in Elizabeth’s room.”

All eyes swiveled to Max, as if asking why he hadn’t told them and he shook his head.

“ I don’t remember.”

Quinn looked slightly uncomfortable but he plowed ahead, ignoring Max’s statement.

“ Elizabeth… Liz…was a bit worse off than the others. On that particular day, while she had been playing, she began convulsing.” His face turned melancholy. “ Her heart stopped.”

A gasp echoed around the room and Max gripped the back of his chair very hard.

“ Did she make it? Did she live?” He asked softly. Please tell me she’s still alive, he implored Quinn silently. His throat was suddenly tight and he had no idea why he wished he could just cease breathing if Quinn answered in the negative. Isabel, sensing his distress, reached over and squeezed his hand briefly before letting it drop.

“ She’s alive. We managed to revive her.”

And Max’s heart and lungs began to work again.

“ You helped, my lords. She had been with Michael and Maria and when she collapsed, Michael yelled for you. You came running and you both formed a connection with her. It helped save her life.”

All eyes swiveled to Max again and this time to Michael too, who shifted uncomfortably.

“ I don’t remember either,” He said. “ So you saw Maxwell in her room,” He prompted.

“ Yes. He was attempting to heal her.”

“ Did it work?” Isabel asked.

“ No. But it gave us an idea. You see, Antarian Cells are not susceptible to viruses or diseases and they have a very strong defense against anything that attacks the body from the inside.”

Tess blue eyes lit up when she realized where he was heading with this.

“ I get it. You got some Antarian DNA and injected it into them, right? Did it help?” She questioned insistently, her blond curls bouncing.

Quinn smiled fondly. “ Yes, it helped tremendously. It was touch and go for a few hours and there was a time when we thought we’d lose them but they fought hard and came through it. The alien DNA we injected into them mixed with their Human DNA and it began working to speed up the defenses their bodies were building. At the same time, there was an added bonus. It seemed that as the stronger and more developed of the two, the alien DNA began neutralizing the effects of the X gene.”

“ Meaning what? Their powers don’t work anymore?” Michael asked, frowning.

“ No. The energy build up stopped. Instead, their abilities began to develop more and not manifest. The powers brought on by the X gene simply became… dormant.”

“ So what you’re saying is that they’re alien hybrids?” Max inquired thoughtfully.

“ In way, yes, they are. But they are also more. Though the X gene became dormant, it IS still a part of them and the powers they possess because of it having been developing over the years. They just haven’t been able to use them.”

It took a while for them to digest this piece of information before Isabel spoke up.

“ So where are they now? Why aren’t they with us?”

Quinn grimaced. He had come to the part of the story he loathed to tell. But they had to know.

“ Everything was beginning to fall into place. We had the four from our planet. We had the four from Earth. But Khivar found out where we were hiding. We had been so busy with our efforts to save the children that we hadn’t bothered to be as careful. And it nearly cost us our lives. We spotted Khivar’s men when they were about half a mile away. We had to get you out of there. All of you were scared and frightened and Maria, Kyle and Alex were capable of attempting a run for it but Liz was still recuperating. We had separate you. I took you four out of the facility by way of underground tunnel where Conner was waiting to take you as far away as possible.” He paused, observing the raptness with which his audience listened.

“ I went back for the others. We had put them to sleep with the intention of carrying them out of the building but when I got up back into the upper rooms, there was an explosion. The force of it knocked me back into the tunnel and when I came to, the whole building had been destroyed. There was no trace of the others. I could only hope that Joshua and Thalia had managed to get them out some other way and over the years, we continued to look for them.”

Crushing guilt overcame them. When it had come down to a choice between their lives and the lives of those other children Quinn had chosen them. It was obvious that he felt very badly about it. They were all thinking the same thing. What kind of life had the other’s led? They were the full-blooded aliens and yet they had led semi normal lives with people who cared and loved them. The other’s had probably felt more alien than they did.

Max couldn’t understand why he felt like he had been robbed of something. He felt like he had been told that for a brief period in his life, he had had the perfect life and it had been taken away from him. It wasn’t fair.

“ Did you ever find them?” He asked.

Quinn clenched his jaw.

“ We did.”

“ That’s good news, right?” Michael asked. When Quinn didn’t answer, he frowned. “ Quinn, what are you not telling us?”

“ We found Joshua and Thalia two years after the building that housed the eight of you was destroyed. They HAD managed to get Liz, Kyle, Maria and Alex out of the building, but Khivar’s men had been on their tails as soon as they left the building. They were being fired upon heavily and the car they were in was becoming unsafe. Further more, Joshua couldn’t drive the way he had to in order to lose them with the kids inside.”

“ They left them, didn’t they,” Max said quietly.

Isabel turned wide eyes to their protector.

“ Quinn? They didn’t…” Her words faltered and died in her throat at the look on his face.

“ Oh no.” Tess whispered.

“ They did the best they could,” Quinn continued in defense of his colleagues. “ The plan was to hide the four away in an abandoned building and lead the enemy on a wild goose chase then come back later that evening, when it was safe. As an extra precaution in case anyone found them first, their memories were wiped clean. But when they went back… they were gone.”

The four just stared at him in horror. With a slight shake in the normally even timbre of his voice, Quinn carried on narrating the story.

“ They searched all the orphanages and foster homes, churches, every organization that could have taken them in. They even hacked into the records in City Hall. There was no trace of them. The possibility that Khivar might’ve had them already was prevalent but we had received no reports from our spies confirming this. So the only possible thing left to consider was that they were out there.”

“ Out where, exactly?” Tess spoke up.

“ Los Angeles.”

Images of four six year olds waking up alone in a strange building and wandering around the city of LA ran rampant through each of their minds. It was even worse than they could have imagined.

“ Quinn, please say that there is a happy ending to all this,” Michael ground out.

“ There is. Exactly three weeks ago, our scans registered outbursts of mutant energy matching those of Maria Leah DeLuca, Kyle James Valenti, Alexander Charles Whitman and Elizabeth Anne Parker. “

“ You found them.” Max smiled that rare half smile of his at Quinn, relief etched clearly on his features. Quinn smiled back and nodded.

“ We did. Their powers began to manifest again and since we managed to record the specific energy signature each of them give out when they use their mutant abilities during their brief stay with us, we have been using these to track them.”

“ That’s great!” Tess enthused.

“ We sent Joshua and Thalia back to LA since they had the most experience in that city. One week ago, they managed to catch sight of the four. They’re all well. And they’re together.”

“ So did they tell them about our mission?” Michael inquired impatiently, glancing up at Maria again. “ They know how important it is right?”

“ Not exactly.” He paused. “ Perhaps it would be better to say they don’t know anything at all.”

Michael stared at him, speechless.

“ You’re telling me these kids don’t even know who they really are? WHAT they really are?”

“ That is correct, My Lord.”

“ But Quinn,” Isabel began with a frown. “ How are they supposed to help us if they don’t know?”

“ These four were not as lucky as you, Isabel. They did not have the benefit of a stable home and answers at their disposal. From what Joshua tells me, it seems that they have been living on the streets for quite a while. They don’t trust anyone. The one time Maria of them caught sight of Thalia, she ran away and the next day, the place where they had been sleeping was empty. Somehow, we believe that Maria recognized her and they didn’t take any chances. We would’ve lost them after that but we found them when we scanned the area. We’ve been following them ever since.”

“ But they still don’t know!” Michael said exasperatedly, running his hands through his hair. “ This is serious Quinn! What if they start glowing in a public place? What if they blast someone?” Michael paused. “ Can they blast someone?” He inquired uncertainly.

“ They can. As a result of the mix, they have both the powers provided by the X-gene and alien powers. But I don’t think-”

“ You mean they’re more powerful than WE are?” Tess exclaimed, interrupting him.

“ I mean they have more powers at their disposal yes, but they do not know how to control them. They have gone for eleven years without exposing themselves, I don’t think-”

“ What powers do they have specifically?” Isabel asked, cutting him off in mid sentence.

“ The powers they possess from the X-gene are unique to each of them. As for the alien powers, let’s just say that whatever you have, they have.”

“ They have it all?” Michael asked incredulously, staring at the pixie like face hovering over him. She looked short. How could someone so SHORT have so much power? “ My energy blast?”

“ MY mind warp?” Tess demanded.

Quinn ran a hand over his face. “ We aren’t sure yet what SPECIFIC powers they got from each of you but trust me, this is not time to-.”

“ Wait.” Max spoke. “ From each of us? You mean you got the DNA for them from US?”

Tess’s mouth dropped open in shock again. “ Did you?”

“ Yes.”

“ Oh God! Tell me, Quinn, which of them has MY DNA! Tell me!”

“ Kyle does.”

Tess was flummoxed. She opened her mouth to protest at the unauthorized removal of what made her, HER but no sound came out. She shook her head and stared up at Kyle, wondering why she suddenly felt pleased that he carried part of her inside him and that it had saved his life.

“ What about us?” Isabel spoke, arms crossed over her chest. “ Who did we donate to?”

“ Your sample was injected into Alex, Michael’s into Maria and Max’s into Liz.”

Silence. Sensing it was better to get everything in the open, Quinn gestured at the images.

“ During the years when they were missing, Archie and I began reconstructing their images into the computer, trying to age them naturally so we would know what they looked like every stage of their lives. We came up with these two years ago, impressions of what they would look like when they were 17.” He informed them, waving at the images in white.

“ So what do they really look like now?” Max had eventually seated himself and the others followed suite. Quinn smiled, knowing they were in for a shock. When he had first seen the pictures they had managed to take of the foursome unawares, he had been pleased to see that the images they had on their computers matched the real deal identically. But it was the clothes and the animation on their faces that was drastically different.

“ I’ll show you.”

The soft ‘click’ of the button was heard throughout the room and Quinn watched in satisfaction as his young charges faces displayed their astonishment. He really couldn’t blame them. The image above them had changed from displaying four teens in white to four teens in what he saw as fashion disasters for clothes. Then again, Isabel’s and Tess’ clothes and Michael’s hair occasionally went down that road too so he couldn’t really say he wasn’t used to it.

“ We found out that they were taken in my an orphanage when they were about seven years old. They were given new names and new birth dates. New lives. But when they were around nine or ten, they ran away.” He pressed the button and Maria’s image was magnified.

“ So now, meet Maria DeLuca aka Carolyn Tate.”

She looked exactly like her previous image, except that this time, her bright eyes were sparkling with mischief and an impish smile claimed her lips. But in spite of her carefree look, wariness remained in her eyes. Her long curls had been straightened and fell just past her shoulders, and a wild tie-dye shirt, a leather jacket and a short black skirt had replaced her white dress. Her feet now were supported by a pair of ankle boots with soles so thick that they left him to wondering how on earth she managed to balance on them.

Just when Michael was fully beginning to appreciate how that smirk turned her lips upwards and how incredibly long her legs looked, the image was replaced, causing him to shoot a pointed look in Quinn’s direction. Quinn, however didn’t notice. He announced,

“ Kyle Valenti aka Nick Fraser.”

A strapping young man revolved in front of them, wearing a black shirt with its arms ripped off and jeans, a cocky grin on his face. His right earlobe was pierced. His eyes held a challenging look as if warning people not to cross him. Tess smiled at this. He definitely looked confident of himself. And he was way cuter when he smiled.

“Alex Whitman aka Will Grant.”

Alex was dressed in a baggy dark green sweater and jeans, his belt chain hanging out of his pocket, broad smile in place. His hair was longer than it had appeared in the hologram and covered by a blue beanie. Like Kyle, he also had his ear pierced. Isabel had to grin at the happy go lucky expression coloring his face but it faded when she saw how dismal the look in his eyes was.

Max was almost bouncing in his seat as he waited for Quinn to press the button, to show him what Liz looked like now. He sent him an impatient glance and Quinn got the message immediately. He pressed the button.

“Elizabeth Parker aka Alana Bennet.”

Max swallowed, mouth going dry.

Liz’s, for he couldn’t think of her with any other name, hair had been swept up and silky strands framed her face accordingly, escaping from the haphazard style. She wore a mid riff bearing red sweater with long sleeves coupled with black cargoes that hugged her figure and boots. Her petite frame was covered from head to toe by a full-length coat and gloves covered her hands. She was smiling but her dark eyes remained guarded, an aloof look taking possession of the chocolate depths. Max’s eyes wandered to her neckline. A long silver chain dangled from it and Max knew instinctively that she still wore the crest.

Quinn pressed the button once more and her image was replaced by a group shot of the four, and they began revolving once again.

“ So what happens now?” Max managed to ask. “ We’ve found them. Now what?”

The other three silently directed their gaze to Quinn, their eyes asking him the same question.

“ We bring them here.”

TBC…




Edited by - Trizha on 10/07/2001 16:10:54

[ edited 4 time(s), last at 12-Feb-2003 6:29:42 PM ]
posted on 17-Dec-2001 2:09:43 PM by Trizha
Chapter 2

LOS-ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

FOUR WEEKS LATER

Carolyn Tate sang lustily to herself as she marched resolutely to her newest ‘home’. The stars were beginning to come out, a slight breeze was playing around with the ends of her hair, it was a beautiful evening and she actually had fresh food for once.

She could ignore the smog in the air and the fact that the ‘breeze’ consisted more of dust and smoke than air and the warning signs of rain coming on. The food bit really did help change one’s perception on things. Plus, she was sticking to her resolution of looking on the bright side of things, no matter what.

A flashy sports car whooshed past with a loud blaring of its horn, almost causing her to drop the box of doughnuts she had worked so hard for.

“ Nice legs Blondie!” The driver called out, leering at her as he stuck his head out of the window. Carolyn scowled but her eyes fell upon a tool that could be used to revenge his blatant inconsiderateness and she smirked at him instead.

“ Thanks. “ She replied saucily. “ Too bad about your car though.”

The driver was just in time to swerve away from the garbage can that had magically appeared there with a little help from yours truly… and crash headlong into a lamppost, denting the fender of the new car.

Carolyn walked away with a smile on her face and satisfaction at hearing the loud curses he was shrieking. Ah yes, sometimes, being ‘different’ did have its advantages. She stopped in front of the derelict old church that was serving as their current home in down town LA, near the slums and after she checked that no one was watching or had followed her, she let herself in, calling out gaily,

“ Honey, I’m home!”

“ Carly?” The answering reply came almost immediately, loaded with relief. “ Where’ve ya been?”

The pews of the church were still in good condition so by turning them to face each other and with a few blankets, pillows and a little ‘improvement’ on them, they made for fairly comfortable beds. Carolyn watched as the dark head of her best friend popped out from behind the back of her ‘bed’ and she met her puzzled gaze with a wide grin.

“ Hey Lana,” She greeted, using Alana Bennet’s nickname. “ Thought ya might be home.” She strolled over to the ‘bed’ with the doughnut box behind her back. “ Whatcha doing?” Upon closer inspection she saw that her best friend’s normally healthy complexion was pale and wan. “ Crap. Not another migraine?” She asked worriedly.

Alana had been having them for the past couple of weeks, which was weird because those were usually Will’s forte, and he mostly got them after using his new powers or suffering from a wild outburst of energy because of them. Alana on the other hand had never been prone to them but now, she was getting them more frequently than Will.

Alana simply waved her concern off her expression quickly becoming shuttered.

“ It’s fine. It’s not even as bad as the others. And I’m not here because of it. I just thought I’d read a book.” She said, brandishing the thick volume at her.

Carolyn frowned but peered at the book anyway. The title on its cover read ‘BIOLOGY, A-LEVEL’. She wrinkled her nose. “ You through with the O-Level book already?”

“ Yeah. Thought I’d give this one a whirl. I’m heading to the library to return the other books later tonight. Wanna come?”

Carolyn smiled faintly. Surprisingly, the LA public library’s computers were faster than average and with just a little boost, the connection was like lightning. In the seven years they had lived on the streets, it had turned into their best bet of looking for information about their past through the web. It had also saved them, more times than they could count.

“ No thanks. Just do me a favour and get Romeo and Juliet okay?”

“ You’ve read that book a zillion times,” Alana reminded her with a smile.

“ I know. But this time, it’s not for me, it’s for you, babe. You need some serious romance in your life. I’m not kidding.”

“ Oh and like you don’t,” Alana said with a smile but it faded as she sniffed the air delicately. “ What is that? It smells… really good.”

Carolyn grinned and whipped out the box of donuts from behind her.

“ Ta da! I come bringing lunch.”

Alana scrambled upwards and struggled out of her ‘bed’ kicking her long skirt out of the way. She eyed the donut box eagerly and then brought her gaze to Carolyn’s.

“ Where’d you get it?” She asked curiously.

For some reason, the question raised her hackles. A memory of Harriet Callahan, her foster mother, had crossed her mind. Her face was twisted and ugly, the smell of whiskey strong in her breath…

” Where did you get this you stupid little girl? Where? I’ll tell you father to deal with you…”

She had only been eight years old and scared out of her mind that sweet, kind Mama Harriet could possibly scream at her like that. In her hand, she had proudly been holding out a piece of paper on which she had manipulated to look like an exact replica of a ten-dollar bill. Now that same hand, her whole body, in fact was trembling. Carolyn knew her foster parents loved the sight of the funny paper and she thought this would make them happy. So why was Mama screaming at her so? She didn’t understand.

“ Relax, I didn’t steal it okay?” Carolyn bit out defensively.

Worry spread in Alana’s dark eyes, as though the thought crossed her mind for the first time. Understanding clicked a moment later. When she spoke, her voice was calm and steady, no trace of angry retort visible.

“ I didn’t say you did.”

Carolyn shifted from one foot to the other, willing the horrible image to fade away.

“ Yeah well…” She took a deep breath, reminding herself of the promise to stick to the bright side of things, no matter HOW crappy her life was.

“ So… where DID you get it?” Alana asked carefully.

Discomfort forgotten, Carolyn beamed at her. “ I got me a job over in the donut shop!” She announced excitedly, unable to hold it in any longer. “ Mrs. Johnson was being mugged and I totally sent those creeps running for their lives and she was, like, so grateful she offered me one. It’s just a couple of hours a week, sweeping and cleaning and stuff and maybe tending the counter and the money isn’t that much, but it’s a JOB, Alana! Plus I get all the free donuts I want! Isn’t it great?” She rambled, the bubbly tone in her voice displaying her glee.

“ It sure is,” Alana agreed, hugging Carolyn tightly. She was glad that in spite of everything, Carly still hadn’t lost that bouncy flair in her personality. If it disappeared, life would really go from bad, as was their situation now, to worse. “ But you know, we do still have some food.”

Carolyn wrinkled her nose again. “ Oh, you mean that five day old pizza?”

“ Actually it’s six.” Alana corrected.

Carolyn pretended to be offended and set the precious box carefully on the pew and set her hands on her hips, mock glaring at Alana.

“ Are you telling me would rather eat that moldy, old stuff than fresh donuts?”

“ Well…” She trailed off, looking genuinely torn.

“ You’ve gotta be kidding me!” Carolyn exclaimed.

A brilliant smile broke over Alana’s face, making Carolyn wish for the three millionth time in her life that she had been blessed with the looks her best friend possessed. She had witnessed that smile knock several guys to their knees over the years. More than once it had been the only thing that had stood between them and trouble from the cops. Of course, she had helped by using her best ‘innocent waif’ expression but it just wasn’t the same thing. It was a good thing she wasn’t competitive at all or she would have gone mad trying to compete with Alana.

“ Of course I’m kidding, Carly. But we really should wait till the guys come back.”

“ Where’ve they gone anyway?” Carolyn asked, flopping backwards onto the ‘bed’, her legs dangling over the edge.

Alana moved the donut box out of her way and placed it between them, lying down next to her.

“ They went to turn in the bottles we found to the recycling center and some stuff over to the junk yard. They figure they’ll make about fifteen bucks or so.”

Carolyn bit her lip, her earlier jauntiness disappearing fast. “ Our food supply’s running low again isn’t it?”

“ Actually, with your contribution, we should be okay.”

Carolyn frowned. “ You’re not sugar coating things again so we won’t worry, are you Alana?”

Alana on some occasions had been known to be stubbornly self-sacrificing. The time that came to mind was when they had run away from their first and last foster home, where they had lived for two years. Their foster parents, the Callahan‘s, had found out about their abilities and one night, while Nick had been out of bed trying to steal them some food as they hadn’t been given any all day, he heard them discussing plans to send them off to some fancy institution for a large sum of money that could settle debts they had acquired. They had left that hell hole exactly one night after that. They had been ten years old, with nothing but the clothes on their back and the small amount of food they had managed to steal before leaving. They had traveled for days, their food dwindling and five days after they’d left, Will discovered Alana putting back the share of food she had supposedly eaten so that the others could have more to eat. It was noble yes, but extremely stupid as well. All this was before they had resorted to shoplifting to survive, something they sworn they wouldn’t do again…unless they absolutely had to.

Alana shook her head, sending her mass of dark hair flying over her shoulders.

“ Course not,” She replied flippantly. “ We’re fine.”

Carolyn wasn’t entirely convinced, but Alana had picked up her book and began to read again, a sure sign that the topic was closed. Relenting, she turned her attention the ceiling. It depicted a picture of angels with harps and golden crowns gathered around God or Jesus as he sat on his throne. Once, she supposed, it had been beautiful but as the church had fallen into a greater state of disrepair, the painting had become obscured until it was very hard to make out.

“ Hey Lana.”

“ Yeah?”

“ Wanna hear something really funny?”

“ Uh huh.”

It was a faraway response and Carolyn could tell she wasn’t really there, but she pressed on anyway.

“ When we were younger and in that first orphanage, you know, the one that policeman brought us to? I heard the sister telling the little girl next to me a story about God and how his angels protect all little boys and girls in the world. That she only had to pray and her very own guardian angel would swoop down and rescue her from whatever was making her sad.” She paused and glanced over at Alana, fully expecting her to still be engrossed in her book. But to her surprise, she saw that she was staring at her attentively.

“ Go on,” She urged softly.

Carolyn took a deep breath.

“ Well I believed her. Every night, I used to pray for my guardian angel, all our guardian angels to sweep down from heaven and take us back to our parents and back to our families and we would live happily ever after. I would hear you crying at night and Will whispering that he wanted to go home and Nick just trying so hard to be brave for everyone… so I prayed harder, thinking maybe he hadn’t heard me the first time round. And then as I watched all the other kids get adopted, I changed my prayer, thinking maybe our real parents were too hard to find and telling him I would settle for nice people taking us all home. When the Harriet and Sam came to take us all away, I thought that finally, FINALLY, God heard me. And it was nice for a while, right? We had a great time those first few months,” Carolyn’s voice took on a wistful quality. “ Going to school with all those other kids, playing like we didn’t have a care in the world.”

“ Yeah, it was pretty good,” Alana agreed, the same wistful tone coloring her voice.

“ Till we found out what we were. What we could do. Stuff that no other kids could do. That we weren’t normal. That was when I realized that maybe God doesn’t listen to people like us. That we didn’t have guardian angels cause we weren’t boys and girls. We’re freaks… mutants.” Carolyn closed her eyes and remembered the first few days after they had finally realized what they were. She remembered the all compassing terror that had taken hold of her, immobilizing her, making her unable to do anything but cry. She remembered the way Nick had seemed to shut down, spending hours staring off into the distance, trembling. How Alana and Will kept taking turns trying so hard to act as if everything was alright and nothing had changed but ultimately failing and finally running for the bathroom to throw up when the images their minds conjured up became too much. It didn’t help that the kids around them spent hours every day blasting aliens on their gameboys and playing space wars with the sole aim of hunting down freaks.

“When things started getting bad with the Callahans, I wanted to give up but even then, I kept on praying. Hoping that our real parents would come. Wishing they would take us away from that place. And then when they were going to sell us off, I knew. He really doesn’t listen to us. He doesn’t give a damn. We all alone out here.”

Carolyn was surprised to feel moisture simmering on her eyelashes when she finally opened her eyes and she wiped them away furiously. Tears? She had stopped crying long ago. It was pointless. Futile. It didn’t help one bit.

Alana had propped herself up on one elbow and was looking at Carolyn in concern. As one lone tear made it’s way down her cheek, she used a gloved finger to wipe it away.

“ We’re not alone, Carly. You, me and Will and Nick, we’ll always have each other. We’ll never be alone.”

Carolyn attempted a weak smile but it faded quickly.

“ What about them, Alana? What if they’re still looking for us?”

“ You mean that woman you saw?”

“ Yes. I know Nick doesn’t believe me but I swear I recognized her. I don’t know how but I just did.”

“ It’s been five weeks since then. We haven’t seen anyone following us.”

Carolyn nodded. “ That’s just it. That’s what’s so wrong about this. We can’t see them but… I feel them, Alana. It’s weird but I feel them. They’re still around here.” She glanced at Alana’s pensive face. “ And I know you do too. And Will. And Nick too, even if he doesn’t want to admit it. How else can you explain the fact that all of us have been so on edge lately?”

Alana got up and shut her book, beginning to pace around the ‘bed’ in obvious agitation. Of the four of them, Alana was the one who was most skittish about talking about their powers. Carolyn couldn’t blame her. They had all been developing new powers but Alana’s were clearly the most terrifying of them all.

“ The powers seem like a pretty good explanation to me, Carly. They’re uncontrollable and dangerous. And the worst thing is,” She rubbed at her forehead, “ these flashes I keep getting.”

Carolyn sat up at once and scrambled off the pews. Flashes were very rare occurrences for them. Between the four, they had only experienced a handful and all of them were somehow linked to their past.

“ Flashes? What flashes?”

Alana’s head snapped up and she looked away at the accusing look Carolyn had pinned on her.

“ I was going to tell you guys tonight,” Alana began in defense, crossing her arms over her chest.

“ Tell us what?” Carolyn asked suspiciously, seeing the pieces fall into place. The headaches. The flashes. They were connected somehow. “ What did you see, Alana?”

Alana began fingering the pendant that hung around her neck, her eyes glazing over as the now familiar distant look that had been claiming the dark depths lately appeared.

“ Later, okay, Carolyn?” She absently began tying up her hair so that it hung down her back neatly and shrugged on her jacket. “I gotta go.”

“ Lana wait! Where are you going?”

“ To the Park. I’ve got to think.”

And then she was gone.

Carolyn stared after her for a few minutes, debating on whether to follow her but she knew better. When Alana said she wanted to think, it meant she wanted to be alone. And she only wanted to be alone when something had really upset her. So whatever the flashes had shown her, they obviously wigged her out. Sighing, she collapsed back on the pew and opened the box. The donuts were cold now. No matter. She waved her hand over them and in an instant, they were warm once more.

Yet another advantage of being a freak.


****************************************

She was going insane.

There was just nothing else for it.

If these…visions, flashes, whatever’s didn’t do the trick, she would surely drive herself crazy. Because, she rubbed her forehead tiredly, even a mutant freak can only take so much.

Alana sat down heavily on her favorite bench, recalling the contents of the latest one, turning over the pieces in her mind trying to make heads or tails out of them all. The flashes hadn’t shown her anything useful. Just a few images and impressions that were too quick and vague to make sense out of. She had seen brief, fleeting images of four children, three with dark hair and eyes, and one blue-eyed and blonde. They had been laughing at something as they played on a…beach…it looked like. More flashes of people she had never seen which included a man with graying hair and six adults who made brief appearances. Another flash of kids that looked about her age and somehow she instinctively knew they were the same children from before. They were standing in a square, faces set in concentration, hands glowing as they faced each other. After that the images went too fast for her to understand. The only thing she had recognized out of the whole lot was the image of stars, a galaxy shaped exactly like the symbol on her pendant.

And a fat load of help that was, she thought, rolling her eyes in disgust.

After the first time she had received them, she had felt a surge of hope overpower her, after the initial body numbing pain had passed, of course. She had thought that finally, they would have the answers the four of them had wanted all their lives, answers that they needed to show them who they were. What they were. So she had waited. And waited. And when another one came, this one causing her to black out and scare Nick out of his wits when she had lurched against him, she had been ready, almost eager. But it was all for nothing. They hadn’t revealed anything life altering or vital to their past. For the most part, it didn’t even seem like they were coming from her but from someone else and that the things she was seeing were actually their memories and their thoughts. But that didn’t make sense.

Shaking her head impatiently, she stared pensively into the distance. Nothing made sense. Each day was a struggle to survive. They were being torn apart by the constant need to look over their shoulders and wonder endlessly about who they were and where they came from. You’d think that after eleven years of doing this, they’d be used to it by now but that wasn’t the case. Inside of them, a battle raged between two desires: to hide and be safe or to fit in and be normal. They could do normal without difficulty at all. It would be laughably easy for Will to create files for each of them and they could begin new lives just like that. But things could never be ‘just like that’. None of them had ever gotten over the fear of being captured and tortured and experimented on for being what they were and fitting in meant letting people in first. They just couldn’t do that. It was so much…too much to ask. So they hid. They waited. They watched life pass them by.

Tears began their familiar journey down her face and she angrily wiped them away. It just seemed…so unfair. No, she did NOT hate what she was, she had long ago accepted that her abilities were there for a reason but it was hard not to feel like she had been punched in the stomach every time she and the others passed by a happy family who were simply enjoying being together. Hard to ignore the gnawing ache in her heart whenever she saw the longing looks pass over Carolyn’s face. The sadness replace Will’s usually inextinguishable grin. The jealousy in Nick’s eyes. The constant fear that surrounded them. But hardest of all to ignore was the feeling that wrapped around her heart and soul, the one that told her she wasn’t complete. She wasn’t whole. She was missing something…

As an image of intense amber eyes popped into her mind, a small voice piped up and added a last thought.

…Missing someone.

Thunder resounded and Alana glanced upwards, startled. Rain was gushing from the sky and she was soaked to the bone. She hadn’t even noticed.

It looked like the sky was crying for them too.

She stood up and began the walk back, so lost in her own thoughts, she never noticed the three pairs of eyes watching her every move.

TBC…

posted on 17-Dec-2001 2:13:15 PM by Trizha
* = Will
** = Carolyn
*'* = Nick
*~*= Alana

Chapter Three

“ Where the hell is she?”

Nick Fraser paced around the church and frowned fiercely at Carolyn who looked mildly unsettled but nevertheless entirely too unaffected for his liking.

“ She’ll be here.”

She said the words confidently but Nick’s concern rose a notch when he saw his ‘sister’ bite her bottom lip. A sure sign she was worried.

“ And Nick, while you’re actually coherent,” Will Grant spoke up, “ I don’t think it’d do you justice to swear in the house of God,”

Carolyn giggled while Nick scowled at Will who was lounging on his ‘bed’, directly to his right.

“ Just a thought,” Will said.

Nick sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

“ Did she tell you anything at all about the flashes?”

Carolyn stood up and crossed her arms over her chest.

“ We have been over this ten thousand times Nick. For the last time, NO, she did not tell me anything at all about them. She said she would tell us later and that she would be back soon. That’s it.”

“ I don’t like this. It’s not safe. What if that woman you saw-“

“ I thought you didn’t believe me,” Carolyn challenged with an uplifted brow.

“ I don’t. But it pays to be cautious.”

Carolyn glared.

“ And this coming from a guy who uses his powers to change clothes in public,” Will quipped, obviously trying to lighten the mood. Nick rolled his eyes and waved his hand over Will’s sprawled form changing the jeans and sweater he had been wearing into what looked like a tube top and pedal pushers.

“ Hey!” Will protested, scrambling upwards and glowered at Nick. He made such a comical picture standing there, hands on his hips that Nick and Carolyn couldn’t help themselves, laughing in spite of the worry they felt for Alana. “ I’m glad you find this so amusing,” Will grumbled. He quickly swept his hand over his clothes and he was dressed in his normal attire once more. Grinning, he repeated the action again, this time over Nick and it was his turn to be the center of attraction. Carolyn shrieked with laughter as she pointed at him and Will walked around him slowly, clearly impressed with himself. “ I do good work,” He muttered with a smile.

Nick glanced downwards and groaned. Will had changed his clothes into a tight fitting hot pink catsuit with pink rhinestones and four inch high stiletto heels. He wobbled unsteadily.

“ WILL!” He bellowed. Carolyn giggled some more before coming to his aid but before she could reach him, Will gave him a little ‘nudge’ with his powers and down he went straight to the floor. Nick landed on his butt on a grunt and as he furiously pulled off the high heels, he stopped, squirming around in confusion.

“ What’s wrong?” Carolyn asked.

“ I’m not sure,” Nick began, wiggling a little bit more. “ It’s as if…” He trailed off and comprehension dawned on him. “ You didn’t…” He said, shaking his head at Will.

Will smirked.

“ I did.”

“ Did what?” Carolyn asked innocently.

“ Oh nothing. Just gave Nicky boy here a change of underwear. How’s that thong fit? Did I get the right size?”

“ A…thong?” Carolyn repeated haltingly, blinking in amusement. She glanced at Will in an effort to keep from laughing again. “ I see you’ve been practicing. I like!” She exclaimed, giving Nick a once over before he changed clothes. “ Give me a few lessons sometime?”

“ Sure. These gifts have to be good for something right? And if you can’t use them to pull a little switcheroo, well, where’s the fun in that?”

“ Whatever, Will.” Nick was on his feet now, back in his clothes and wearing a frown. “ But lay off on the thongs, huh? I don’t think the whole world needs to know about that little talent.”

Will simply shrugged and helped himself to another donut, groaning as he bit into the dessert.

“ That is good. I mean, really, really good. I almost forgot what real food tastes like.” He looked over at Carolyn hopefully. “ Think you can get me a job at this donut place too?”

Carolyn winked.

“ Give me a week or two to charm Mrs. Johnson and you’ll be eating donuts in no time.”

“ I intend to hold you to that promise so don’t forget it,”

Muttering under his breath but smiling all the same, Nick said, “ Fascinating as this is, shouldn’t we-“

What they should do, Carolyn and Will never found out. It was at that moment they felt a huge amount of energy being wielded and a maelstrom of emotion that hurtled at them out of nowhere. It had generally been too quick to decipher but one thing stood out most.

Pain.

The force of it left them in various states of unconsciousness and gasping for breath, leaving no doubt as to where it was coming from.

Alana.

Will hauled himself up from his slouched position against the pews, and staggered over to where Carolyn had gone down in a curled up ball. Ignoring the pounding headache rattling through his brain, he gently turned her over.

“ Carly? Carly, wake up.”

From somewhere behind him, he heard Nick let out a string of curses and he became aware of a soft glow beginning, alerting him to the fact that Nick was healing himself. Glancing down at Carolyn’s pale face, Will shoved aside his own discomfort long enough to concentrate on eradicating his own headache before turning back to Carolyn. It was hard work. For one thing, his skill in that area of abilities was severely lacking. It was Alana and Nick who could harness their powers in that area almost effortlessly, but for him and Carolyn, it was an uphill battle to heal the smallest of injuries.

Speaking of whom…Carly’s eyelashes were fluttering as she was pulled back to the realm of consciousness. Will cradled her head gently in his hands, spreading healing warmth, or as close to it as he could manage, through her scalp. The slight frown on her lips relaxed and she began to sit up, mumbling incoherently.

“ Is she alright?”

Nick was suddenly at his side, kneeling and gazing down at Carolyn with concern. As they helped her to sit up, Will met Nick’s gaze over her head.

“ She’ll live. The question is, will we?”

“ Oh my God! Alana!”

Came the expected outburst. Carolyn shot up like a rocket, knocking both boys backwards. She began pacing back and forth and wringing her hands, occasionally stopping and tilting her head to the side as if listening for something, rambling non stop all the way.

“ This is my fault! I never should’ve let her go alone! What’s happened to her?” She didn’t bother adding an ‘if’ to her question. Something had happened. Although this was hardly the first time they had been in serious danger, they had only felt something like that once before and again it had been Alana who had triggered it. She stopped and swallowed, refusing to acknowledge the tears beginning to pool in her eyes. After a few more minutes of silent searching through her mind, she let out a wail. “ I can’t feel her anymore!”

Will and Nick simply looked at each other before launching into action. Will immediately shut his eyes and began summoning up the power that enabled him to wander around in people’s subconscious. He had gotten better at it over the years. He could now slip in even if the person wasn’t asleep and slip out before they knew what was happening. And if that didn’t work…then he would use the other way. The other, more dangerous and unpredictable way but he would use it without hesitation if he had to. Taking a deep breath and relaxing himself, he began the search of the thread that bound him to Alana, hoping that the void he felt had nothing to do with the situation and more than that, hoping she was all right.

Nick went straight to Carolyn and pulled her into a hug, trying not to let her feel the way his own body was trembling. It was true. He knew Carolyn couldn’t feel Alana anymore because he couldn’t either. And he knew the same case was with Will. Somehow, the four of them were…connected. It was the only way he could describe it. It wasn’t like they could feel each other’s emotions or thoughts or anything like that but more of being able to sense each other’s presence. It was kind of a like a buzz at the back of their minds, telling them that their kin was out there. Safe. Alive. As Carolyn silently fought back tears, Nick felt resolution hardening his backbone. If Will couldn’t reach her mentally, then they would just have to search for her the old fashioned way. And if somebody had hurt her… Nick clenched his jaw and let the thought go unfinished, already uncomfortably aware that energy was humming inside him, ready to be used. And it wasn’t the normal abnormal type of energy he usually made use of. No. It was the other type. The one that was absolutely freaky…

After what seemed like an eon of waiting, the silence was broken.

“ I’ve got her.”

Nick and Carolyn whipped around to face Will after his relieved announcement to see him with his eyes still closed, his furrowed brow indicating his concentration.

Carolyn jerked away from Nick and hurried over to where Will was still kneeling, plunging down on her knees next to him. Nick wasn’t far behind.

“ Is she okay?”

Will’s only response to frown more heavily.

Minutes passed. Each one bringing Carolyn’s level of hysteria a notch higher until she thought she would either burst or begin blasting away everything in sight. Nick wasn’t much better off either. As he paced up and down his fists kept clenching and unclenching and he looked in desperate need of punching something. Just when he was on the verge of pulling Will out of the limbo he had sunk into by force, the indigo blue orbs that made up his eyes were revealed when his eyelids flew up and he immediately grabbed Carolyn’s hands.

“ I’m losing the connection. They’ve done something to her.”

His tone and manner were completely composed but he was betrayed by the tightness of his grip on her hands.

“ They?” Carolyn repeated, feeling the bubble of shrieks she’d so valiantly tried to keep control of bob dangerously near the surface. “ They who? Who has her Will?” She demanded shrilly.

Will shook his head. “ There’s no time, Carolyn. She’s weak. I can’t-“ He interrupted himself to take in a deep breath and Nick noticed the way his ‘brother’s’ lanky form was trembling slightly, “ I can’t hold on by myself. I’m not strong enough.”

Nick immediately knelt next to Carolyn and gazed at Will assessingly.

“ What do we do?” He asked brusquely.

“ I need… more energy. Just… connect with me and I’ll take it from there.”

Swift glances were exchanged between the three before Carolyn and Nick nodded in agreement. It wasn’t the time to question what Will was asking them to do. Every minute could make a difference in Alana’s life. They raised their hands, palms facing each other leaving a gap between them into which Will placed his hand. They made it so that the formation looked like an incomplete square, a space opposite Will’s hand that was meant for Alana’s.

“ Ready?” Will asked.

“ Let’s do it.” Nick replied.

Carolyn nodded mutely.

The three teens’ hands glowed a silvery, unearthly light and the connection began. Carolyn shut her eyes and responded to the pull that Will was creating to join their energies with his. It was a strange sensation. It was as if she had been transformed into pure energy itself and had been absorbed into the connection that flowed from them into Will. She was vaguely aware of Nick right beside her, racing along to where Will needed them to be. Images flashed by them chaotically, ones they recognized from their childhood and growing up over the years. Carolyn tried not to focus too much on them but when an image of a sullen faced boy with spiky hair flashed in front of her eyes, Carolyn lost her concentration completely. She was still moving towards where Will wanted them to be, but she HAD to find out who he was. In a far corner of her mind, she knew Nick had gone ahead without her. She would just have to find him again but first she would follow the image of boy…

The flashes stopped abruptly, making Nick wonder if he had somehow lost the connection to Will. He became aware that he was not ‘moving’ anymore but was suddenly still. And he realized that he was back to his normal state, not the weird purple energy type being he had been a few minutes ago. And…he was alone.

“ Will! Carolyn!” He called out. Were they still connected or had he somehow been lost along the way? Only one thing was for sure. He wasn’t in the church anymore. Instead, he was standing on a smooth, flat plain that stretched on endlessly to meet the star pocked sky. Nick turned around in a slow circle, his eyes coming to rest on the only thing that disturbed the perfectly flat landscape. A rock formation. The highest tip of it seemed to be pointing upwards, towards the brightly shining stars and particularly towards a ‘V’ formation that shone brighter than the rest. Nick frowned at it, wondering why it looked so familiar…

“ Nick!”

He turned around and there was Carolyn, glowing briefly before the golden light that surrounded her faded and she was herself again. She ran towards him, her blue green eyes wide as she scanned the area. Surprise etched itself across her features as well as recognition.

“ What is this place?” She asked in awe.

“ You recognize it too?” Nick asked, feeling relief when she nodded. It had not been fun to think, even for an instant, that he was imagining this place as being recognizable. For one thing, it looked like a desert, and he had never been to a desert before. At least, not that he could remember. For another, he had never much been into stars, so why should this particular formation be so familiar?

“ Where’s Will?” Carolyn asked, bringing him out of his reverie.

“ Right here,” He glanced at the two of them, breathing a little hard from his efforts.

Will stepped up to both of them, extending his hand for theirs.

Carolyn and Nick gave them up without hesitation and Will summoned his energy to do what had to be done. Using their combined energy, he once again began to search of the thread of awareness that linked him to Alana, feeling his ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ growing more and more concerned the longer it took. They were wavering, slacking off in giving him the energy he needed.

“ Carly. Nick. You need to concentrate.”

“ Concentrate?” Nick yelped. “ You mean you haven’t got her? Why aren’t you getting anything yet?” He demanded.

“ Will-“ Carolyn began fearfully.

Will’s eyes opened and he silenced both of them with a look. It had taken a lot out of him to bring and keep the other two in this place. He needed their energy if he was going to find Alana.

“ Guys. Please. I need you to concentrate on giving me your energy. The longer you take, the less time I have to find her and make the connection and the more in danger she’s in.”

They nodded resolutely and closed their eyes. Will did the same. He felt the familiar rush of his own power surging through his veins but it was more potent than ever now. He recognized Nick and Carolyn’s own unique energies melding with his, making it stronger, steadier. Deep breath. Eyebrows knitted together in concentration, he began to call out to his ‘sister’, casting his mind further and further away, towards the faint hum of energy he recognized as hers.

* Alana! *

There was a small jump in the energy trail he was following. She was trying to get to him, but something was blocking her…

** Will, was that her? **

Carolyn’s thought echoed through his brain and he gave the affirmative.

* Yeah. But I can’t hold on. More. I need…more…*

He felt, rather than heard Nick’s worry and anger at whoever took Alana along with blazing determination.

*'* Coming your way bro…*'*

Carolyn and Nick poured even more of their power into the connection and Will almost shuddered at the force of it. His face contorted almost painfully, he refocused the increased stream of force towards their missing member and was rewarded by the sound of her voice echoing bleakly to him.

*~* Will… *~*

* Lana! Are you alright? Where are you? *

Somewhere in the frenzied connection, he could feel Nick and Carly’s joy that he had found her but they were mostly concentrating on keeping the power supply constant. They couldn’t keep it up for long though. He had to find out where she was.

*~* Will…help me…please…*~*

Will felt immediate panic rush through him as he felt the already weak connection falter even more. No! He was losing her again! Even with their combined energies, it wasn’t enough. Carly and Nick were beginning to tire. Spurred on by a frantic desperation, he let his own power break away from the seething mass directed towards Alana. While it was sufficient enough to ensure that they remained connected to her, it wasn’t strong enough for direct communication. Vaguely, he felt the alarm Nick and Carly were experiencing that he had broken off but they continued to send energy to the connection, maintaining it. Will pulled all his energy back within himself, searching for the barrier he had erected recently to block out the disturbing effects of the new power he had recently come into. In a second, he had ripped it wide open and all the pent up energy he had tried to ignore came thundering out, making him cry out in pain.

The steady stream of power Carly and Nick had been sending to Alana weakened as they felt his pain but Will pushed through it, joining the connection again with a loud warning.

* Don’t stop! Keep going! *

** Will, ** Carolyn’s thoughts came to him, along with her concern and weariness. ** We can’t do this… not for much longer…**

* Just a little longer, * He urged both of them. * Just one more big burst and I’ll take it from there.*

*'* How big are we talking here? *'* Nick’s fatigue also came screaming through but his determination was not in the least diminished.

* Try to make a block and collect your and Carly’s energy on top of it. When I tell you, release it.*

** But, Will,** Carolyn was obviously having a tough time communicating and maintaining the blistering pace of energy generation and output to Alana, but she soldiered on. ** We’ll lose the connection to her if we do that!**

* I’ll find her again. I’ll use my new powers. *

Shock came through the connection from both clearly but Nick immediately began creating the block.

*'* Let’s do it. You have to send us back, Will. It’s taking more energy to keep us in here. We’ll feed you what you need from outside this place. *'*

Will complied, the last he heard was Carolyn’s strangled good luck and then they were gone and he was alone. He still held on to the thin thread that currently bound him to Alana but he knew it wouldn’t be long before he lost it. He became aware of the enormous amount of energy Nick and Carolyn were handling, and readied himself to accept it. He felt different. Or rather, the power that was running through him was different. His head throbbed from the unexpected release of the ability he had always shied away from but it was no time to think about his own discomfort. It was almost time. He could feel the energy from his friends bearing down towards him. This was their last chance.

Gathering up every last bit of strength inside him, he managed to refrain from screaming in agony as the combined might of Nick and Carolyn engulfed him. It was like being thrust directly into the path of a lightning bolt. Ignoring the torture he was going through, he began using all the skill he had managed to acquire over the years to control the intense new power rolling within him, barely managing it.

* ALANA! *

And suddenly, Will Grant was no longer in the plain he always visited at night.

He was not in any place he had ever been in.

He was in Alana Bennet’s mind.

He was in hell…

TBC…

posted on 2-Jan-2002 2:53:13 PM by Trizha
Chapter Four

Max leapt over a craggy boulder and pressed himself against its side, sheltering from the laser fire that came streaming after him. He had reached the final stage that separated him and his goal. Spotting the glowing orb that was his target, he made a break from the relative safety the boulder provided and sprinted towards it, throwing himself down on the rough terrain and rolling to avoid being hit by the lasers that were trained upon him. He acted like a person used to having shots fired at him.

And indeed he was.

Quickly diving behind the ruins of a wall, he sent a small blast of energy at one of the miniature laser cannons that was following him around, shorting out it’s systems so that it stopped hovering and fell, useless, to the ground. Glancing at his target, he looked around once before leaving his position and making his way to it once more. This time, it was not laser fire that accosted him but energy blasts fired in quick succession one after the other. Max allowed a fleeting smile to touch his lips. So. Michael had managed to get past the other three stages that had preceded this one as well. Seeing that there was nowhere for him to hide if his best friend sent around round of blasts at him, he cast his mind about for an appropriate distraction and found it. Waiting a few minutes, he waved his hand discreetly at a group of bricks, the remains of the smoldering ruins of a building, whipping around and directing them to his left, towards Michael. Max grinned to himself when he heard him let out a string of smothered expletives, using the time to move towards the target. He had known Michael had been creeping up on him during the moments of seemingly frozen indecision, his intention to tackle him from behind and he had known exactly the time he had planned to ambush him, firing his unlikely missiles towards his adversary at the same time. His jubilation was short-lived however. Four enemy soldiers, recognizable because of the crest they wore on their uniforms, appeared out of nowhere, advancing on him and Michael menacingly, their weapons pointed directly at them.

“ Michael!” Max shouted out a warning before blasting one of them and flinging himself upon the ground once more as his comrades fired.

The warning was understood and heeded. In a minute two more of the soldiers had fallen, hit by Michael’s devastating blast. The last soldier stood over him, ready to fire… Max rolled away at the last moment, barely managing to avoid the paralysis beam. Light on his feet, he was up from his prone position in a flash. One solid punch sent the soldier reeling backwards, losing his grip on his weapon. Max snatched it out of mid air and fired. Before the soldier hit the ground, he was stiff as a board. Max tossed the weapon to the ground and wiped a hand across his forehead, glancing around to see Michael smirking at him.

“ Nicely done.”

“ You too.”

Further conversation was cut short by the arrival of a fleet of the airborne lasers that opened fire on the two boys, sending them diving for cover. After they had been dispatched, Max moved stealthily from his vantage point, evading a shot from one of the few remaining cannons. He had turned, and was just about to raise his shield to deflect Michael’s approaching energy blast when he felt it.

Fear. Protectiveness. Anger.

And then the unleashing of a power so clearly uncontrolled, it almost knocked him unconscious. The deed was accomplished by the sheer terror and agony that followed next. Max let out a strangled cry as the face of one Elizabeth Parker flashed before his mind’s eye. His heart virtually stopped. The expression on her face… her eyes were closed. Her complexion was pale. A rivulet of blood was streaming down the side of her face from a cut on her forehead.

She looked almost dead.

NO! his mind screamed. But all he could manage to choke out was her name.

“ Liz…”

The last thing he saw before his eyes had rolled up was Michael’s horrified expression as he realized that Max would not be able to raise his shield or duck in time to avoid the deadly blast he had just let loose.

“Max!”

Above the two young men, in the control room that controlled the simulation, Quinn had known something was wrong as soon as he had seen Max go rigid. He had watched in stupefied shock as the energy blast winged its way towards his prince and Michael had let out his agonized cry.

“ No…” He breathed out.

Almost simultaneously, a loud alarm began to blare throughout the compound, one he had given specific orders to be used only when a crisis was brewing. Before he even had time to move, Michael had raised his hand yet again and pointed it towards Max’s quickly crumpling form, throwing him out of the way of the deadly blast. Quinn heaved a sigh of relief and turned to the man beside him. Conner was gazing with wide eyes down at the near tragedy that had occurred, his tense form gradually relaxing. Quickly turning to the panel in front of him, he ended the simulation and the rough, mountainous terrain vanished, revealing an ordinary looking room. Already, four men had rushed into the cavernous room, running flat out to where Michael was already with Max.

The alarm continued to sound.

The door to the room burst open and Archie Draven crashed into the room, eyes darting around frantically as he searched for Quinn.

“ Quinn! Something has happened. Elizabeth has registered on our scans, the readings are off the chart! Someone will be bound to notice. We have to get to her… to all of them! Now!”

Only then did he notice the panicked frenzy taking place down below. His eyes widened.

“ What is wrong with the Prince?”

Quinn looked at the situation below and felt his worry increase ten fold. Max was convulsing. Leaning forward, he spoke into the microphone.

“ Bring the Prince to sick bay at once.” He turned back to Conner and Archie. “ Get the team ready. If this is what I think it is, we have no more time to simply observe them and work on building their trust. We have to move and quickly. We cannot lose them.”

The other two men nodded and dashed away, leaving Quinn alone in the control room.

“ I will not leave them this time,” He promised himself grimly. “ Never again.”

***************************

It was dark. And she was cold. In her seventeen years of living, Alana thought she had never been as cold as she felt now. Perhaps she had been as cold as this once, long ago when she was a very small child, but she didn’t remember that. Even when she and the others had been living on the streets with no roof over their heads, they could at least sleep close together for warmth. And even in those less than stellar conditions, she had felt relatively comfortable and warm. Secure. Safe.

But now, she felt anything but that.

The closest thing she could come up with to describe how she felt was that her brain had been stuck in a blender and had been left there until it had been reduced to nothing more than liquid. And that the process had been repeated several times. Quite apart from that, her whole body ached from being subjected to what Will would have called the ‘Microwave Treatment’. Thinking of Will set off a chain reaction. She immediately thought of Carolyn and Nick and a sob rose up her throat but she squelched it ruthlessly.

Don’t let them know you want to cry.

Don’t let them know you’re hurting.

Don’t let them know you’re scared out of your mind.

But ‘them’ not knowing didn’t change the fact that she knew all these things. And it didn’t change the fact that any moment they could come back and try to steal information from her mind again. And Alana didn’t know if she could take more of that.

Oh no.

Oh no.

It was happening again.

Unbidden, images sprang up from the deepest recesses of her mind. A distant planet. A raging, bloody war. Loud weapon fire. The light of a thousand fires burning out of control. Raising her hand, killing a woman and child.

Alana shut her eyes and tried to blot out the horrific sight.

She could practically feel the power course out from her hand and feel the reassuring weight of a weapon clutched close to her body. The hatred for family dynasty she had never even met. The countless, terrible things she had done and the pleasure had she gotten out of them.

And at the same time, she knew she hadn’t done any of those things. So why did it feel like she had lived through them?

The wave passed and she could open her eyes once more. She was Alana Bennet. Alana Bennet, who was 17 years old, who loved Carly, Will and Nick, who had never killed anyone, who examined things logically and calmly, who never gave up. She closed her eyes and tried to make some sense of the chaos inside her head.

It had happened so fast. On her way back to the church, she had noticed three men following her. Alana couldn’t help but envision the FBI bearing down on them all and her childhood nightmares rocketed to the surface. Pushing them away firmly, she began to lead them away from the others. Once they were far away enough, she had tried to lose them but they stayed on her tail and she finally resorted to running and trying to call out to Will using telepathy. She should have known better. Will didn’t like using his new powers. None of them did. But she WAS getting through to him. Encouraged by this, she halted unconsciously to concentrate. In another moment, he would hear her.

Unfortunately, that moment never came. She had stayed still for far too long and had been hit with…something and she couldn’t move, she couldn’t scream, she could barely even breathe. The three men stood over her and one of them removed a pentagon shaped object from his pocket, pointing it at her. A white light had burst forth from it, and enveloped her, disappearing a minute later. A flash of pain had ripped through her, starting from the tip of her toes and working it’s way upwards, finally centering in the middle of her forehead. And then she knew, somehow, she knew, that her powers were gone.

Neutralized.

She couldn’t use them.

They began to converse and stuck in the limbo between waking and unconsciousness, she managed to hear a few strains of what they were saying but it didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t even English or any other foreign language. It was completely… alien. Which meant that these men weren’t federal agents. They were something much worse…

She blacked out.

The next thing she knew, she was being jerked to her feet in some sort of abandoned warehouse, weaker than she had ever been before. Blinking rapidly, she realized that one of the men was holding her against a wall, his hands wrapped around the collar of her coat. As his gaze traveled down the length of her body, she suddenly felt incredibly dirty and she struck out with her foot, connecting it with his shin with a satisfying crack. He yelled in pain and let go of her and she had immediately made a break for it only to be stopped when some unknown force slammed her into the wall and pinned her there, keeping her immobilized. The other two men approached, laughing raucously and helping their comrade up. The one she had kicked pushed them away and advanced toward her with an enraged sneer.

Alana met his murderous gaze head on, determined not to show them that she was scared. Surprisingly, he blinked as if intimidated and looked away and then with a scowl, and a few words in the language that sounded like nothing she had ever heard before, he raised his hands and pressed them to the sides of her head. Her mouth had dropped open in a distressed cry of pain and the force that was holding her against the wall vanished. She slumped against it, her thoughts racing at the startling realization that he was in her mind and looking for something. Seeing every waking moment of her life, every memory, every thought. The pictures and images rushed by in a blur and all she knew was that whatever it was he was looking for, she WOULD NOT allow him to have it. So she began to fight against him, drawing upon every last bit of energy and power and she could find to stop the flow of information. The connection between weakened a little and she felt his disbelief at the fact that she was actually daring to fight him and more amazing yet, succeeding, even if only a little. With renewed vigor, the being increased his power and totally unaware of it, Alana screamed from the pain of the heat surrounding her brain. The images flowed faster than ever and as she watched Carolyn and Nick and Will’s faces fly from her mind towards his, along with the accompanying information about them, her feelings towards them, she snapped.

Oh God. He was too strong. She could barely stand right now, his grip on her head was the only thing holding her up. And her powers were being blocked. Fear ran through her, crippling her and as though sensing this, the man pressed on, rifling through the memories.

She couldn’t help it. The pain was so bad…

Alana let out an anguished scream.

An image of the four of them when they were younger, about ten actually, flashed through next. She was facing Will and she had her palm up, facing his. Carolyn and Nick were facing each other, in the same way as well. From above, their hands made the formation of a complete square. It was the day they had promised to always be there for each other. To protect each other.

It was time for her to fulfill her promise.

She opened her eyes and stared right into the dark eyes of her attacker, who seemed surprised at her sudden recovery. Her powers were still being blocked, yes, but the other one…the other one was not. Love for her friends, her FAMILY, fueling her on, she forgot that she was weak and outnumbered. She forgot that they were probably ten times stronger than her. She forgot that she didn’t have the slightest inkling on how to control her powers. She forgot all that and concentrated on the fact that while she had been bemoaning that fact that she could not use her regular powers, the other one had collected and whipped itself up into a seething mass, just waiting to be used.

Stifling another whimper of pain as he smashed through a barrier she didn’t know existed in her head, she became as bewildered as he became elated at the images that now ran freely. He hadn’t seen any of them yet but he would. Alana closed her eyes and almost stopped breathing as she watched them in her mind’s eye. Two people she didn’t know. A man with dark hair who looked slightly familiar. A lab. Three children her age, who she instantly recognized as very young versions of Carly, Will and Nick. Four other children. Laughter. Pain. A dark haired boy smiling at her shyly, holding out his hand for hers. His eyes… like twin amber jewels…oh God…it was him… And this man was looking for him. For all of them. For the sole purpose of hurting them.

A furious shriek issued forth from her lips and two recurring thoughts echoed through her mind:

You will not get him or any of them.
I won’t let you.


She thought about the powers she had locked away and refused to use, she could feel it waiting.

She opened her eyes. Leveled him with an icy stare.

The wait is over.

Her gaze never wavered from his and she let loose the wild energy rolling around within her all at once. At this point, Alana wasn’t clear to as to what happened next. All she knew was that this was the part where the agonizing pain tripled as the connection reversed itself. But it was different too. Not only was she seeing all his memories, she was…absorbing them. From the most recent ones, which were the memories he had gleaned from her, to the ones she doubted he even remembered anymore, they all flooded into her. Alana shuddered. He was evil. Horror began to spread through her at the images of death and destruction. The malicious pleasure this being took in ending a life.

She tried to pull away, but it was as if his hands were stuck to her head. He was jerking uncontrollably, his eyes rolling around his head. Alana felt spasms begin running through her body, the pain increased a hundredfold, his, hers, she didn’t know anymore. At the back of her mind, she felt a gentle tugging.

Will.

The connection was draining all her energy and try as she might, she couldn’t stop it. She couldn’t control it. She couldn’t reach out to him. An image of the pentagon shaped object flashed past and she suddenly knew that it was a weapon, designed to neutralize the powers of both her kind and his kind. This confused Alana. Her kind?

* Lana! Are you alright? Where are you? *

Will’s voice echoed through a distant corner of her mind and somehow, she managed to reply to him. To plead…

*~* Will…help me…please…*~*

In another second, all thought was wiped from her mind as the pain reached a fever pitch, effectively ending whatever connection she might have managed to Will. Fire was coursing through her veins. The hands that were seemingly stuck to her head were jerking with the intensity of the convulsions their owner was suffering. Alana’s eyes now rolled around crazily, the fire became hotter than ever and then…

That was all she could remember. When she had regained consciousness it was to find herself in her current position, curled up in a ball against a wall. There were only two men now. The third was gone. She didn’t know where. But the small pile of dust against the wall further down from her kept drawing her attention and a sick sort of dread overcame her.

What if…?

Alana closed her eyes in the face of the inevitable as another wave of images came at her, of places she had never seen, people she had never met and things she hoped she would never, ever, have to do.


*************************

Michael paced up and down the room, running his hands through his hair in frustration. Max was still lying as though in a coma and nothing Michael or anyone else did could snap him out of it. Thinking of how close Max had come to losing his life made Michael pale and he sat down in the chair next to the bed, suddenly feeling weak at the knees.

He had almost killed his best friend.

His Prince!

What kind of second in command did that make him?

Quinn had checked on Max a grand total of once and then disappeared. Michael had a sneaking suspicion that his protector knew what had caused Max’s collapse and if his suspicion was right, why hadn’t they woken Max up yet?

The longer he stayed out, the more worried Michael became. He had called Tess and Isabel on their cell phones but he knew it would take them a while to get there. The girls had been on their way out of town when he had called but they said they were turning around and heading back to the compound immediately. Unable to sit still, Michael jumped up and began to pace once more, occasionally glancing at Max. His best friend was shaking, his complexion waxy and he kept muttering words Michael couldn’t quite catch. Once in a while, he would cry out in pain, making Michael jump about a foot in the air and wish that his ability at healing were stronger. It didn’t help that at that moment, Michael wasn’t feeling all that well himself. It had started about fifteen minutes after Max had collapsed. He could feel his energy draining, feel himself growing weaker and weaker. Even now, as he walked up and down, he could feel his knees trembling.

What was wrong with him?

Suddenly, a horrible feeling overcame him, an energy drain so powerful that Michael lurched against the wall unsteadily, the room spinning around him.

“ What the hell…” He couldn’t stand up straight anymore. Slowly, he slid down the wall until he was sitting on the floor. Through the connection of the foursquare, he felt the fluttering of panic and fright from Tess and Isabel. Michael wanted to call out to them but he could barely keep his eyes open, all he wanted to do was sleep…

Dimly, he registered fast footsteps thundering down the hall and the door slamming open. Archie and Quinn came rushing into the room.

“ Good god! Lord Rath!” Archie exclaimed at seeing his slumped form. He turned to Quinn. “ It’s Maria. She’s done something. It has to be.”

Quinn nodded grimly as they hurried towards another fallen charge.

“ We have to hurry.”

They seized him under the arms and managed to deposit him into the chair. Michael’s head lolled about on his shoulders as he fought to keep his eyes open.

“ Quinn…what’s happening to me?” He managed to choke out.

“ It’s alright, Michael, try to conserve your energy.”

“ Isabel… Tess…”

Michael’s cell phone rang just then, startling all three of them. Archie snatched it up, fumbling with the buttons for a minute.

“ Hello?”

“ Archie?” Tess’s voice gasped. “ Help. You’ve got to…help…”

“ It’s Lady Ava,” He said to Quinn. “ My Lady, are you and the Princess all right? Ava?”

“ Weak…” Came the breathless reply. “ Something’s wrong with Isabel. She’s…I think she’s unconscious.”

“ My Lady, where are you? Do you know where you are?”

“ Stopped the car…corner. Fifth and Main.”

“ We’re coming to get you.”

“ Hurry. Please.”

The call ended and Archie faced Quinn solemnly. “ The Princess is out too. Lady Ava is experiencing the same weakness as Lord Rath is.”

“ Which means Kyle let loose too. Archie, get Travis and Julia and bring Isabel and Tess here. We can’t afford to draw attention to ourselves. Tell Conner to be ready to leave in fifteen minutes. If we lose them, we lose the war. ”
“ Got it.”

Archie dashed away and Quinn turned to Michael, who was beginning to come to.

“ Quinn? What happened? What’s going on?”

“ It’s time, Michael. It’s time to bring you all together.”

TBC…