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Carmen Hernandez

Right hand woman to Ethan Williams

401 views · last seen in The milky way galaxy
a character in “Psyhunters”, as played by Belynta

Description

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5'7 with caramel coloured skin, long black hair, dark brown eyes and a long face with attractive if not beautiful features. She has a feminine figure wiith an hour glass shape. She is seen in various styles of clothing depending on what she is doing and her mood. One day she could be in jeans and causal t shirt and the next in an elegant evening dress.

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Age: 25
Gender: Female
Skills: Seduction, Manipulation, Martial arts, Computer Hacking, Infiltration
Equipment: Two phase pistols, one phase mini pistol, various knives and a state of the art personal computer embedded in the skin behind her ear.







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Manipulation - Carmen has a type of control ability, hers is in her voice and with it she can effectively control someone and make them do as she wishes. She can do this to a single person or a group as long as she is able to use her voice. She is powerful with this and can control most people, but there are those who are naturally resistant to it. Typically those of strong will or others with a similar ability are often unaffected.
Pheromone excretion: Carmen can deliberately send out various forms of pheromones to affect people on a lesser scale than her control ability, these pheromones induce various emotional reactions in her targets depending on what type she has chosen to release. She uses this as more of a last resort ability or when she wants to cause a distraction as it is not as precise as her other ability.
Sound Blast: Carmen's voice is a weapon and she can use it to send out sonic shockwaves than can kill or concuss her targets, this is an exhausting ability however and so she uses it when there is no other avenue of escape.

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Carmen Hernandez is an unscrupulous, narcissistic, and borderline insane woman for whom the lives of others means very little. She is an accomplished liar who will pretty much lie or seduce her way out of any situation. She cares for very little other than her own goals and has no compunction about killing those who get in her way. She sees people as things to be used and then discarded and will quite happily do so. The only people she does not see this way are her fellow Psychics. Mundanes (humans) she sees as vastly inferior and there for nothing more than to service her whims. She does not have friends, more allies or those who believe as she does. Ethan Williams is one of those, she follows him because his goals are the same as hers but if his ever changed she would not hesitate to walk away. She does have a sense of loyalty though and won't shit in her own back yard (as she describes it) meaning that she won't stab those she works with in the back.

She does not love others, only herself, but still has a healthy sex drive and she chooses to use men to sate this appetite but she never sees them as more than a quick lay and is quick to be rid of them if they begin to think otherwise. Considering her personality it is surprising that anyone would go near her but she is adept at hiding her true nature. She is very good at pretending to be what others expect and can become the whore, the business woman or the murderer at need. People see what she wants them to see and nothing more, and her ability helps her with this.

She will do whatever it takes to see Psychics become the superior species in the galaxy, she will also protect any Psychics she sees as being vulnerable in order to help protect the species. She believes as Ethan does that Psychic children should be protected as they are the future of their species.

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Carmen was raised on earth in Brazil, her mother was a prostitute who hated her life and blamed having a child for the situation she was in. Her father was not present in her early life and she only discovered who he was when her mother, one day, abandoned her on his doorstep. She was ten years old at the time.
Her father was the head of one of the most powerful crime families in Brazil and as such Carmen was introduced to crime and lack of morals at an early age. Her father basically pushed her into the family way of life, moulding her in his image. He was very much a narcissist and it wasn't long before his daughter began to emulate his behaviour until she too was the same.

When she was sixteen her mother returned demanding to see her daughter having regretted the decision she had made years ago, she threatened to take Carmen away which her father would not tolerate. He had her mother killed in front of her using it as another 'lesson' in Carmen's education, teaching Carmen to devalue human life and to see others merely as tools to be used and discarded. Carmen took to this way of life with remarkable ease and it wasn't long before she was helping her father run the business. Her father saw her value and used her to find new clients and keep those he already had, happy. This involved seduction, Carmen knew by now how to use her body as a tool, emotional manipulation and persuasion.

When Carmen was twenty a rival crime family attacked her family and managed to kill her father and his top henchmen, Carmen was left suddenly alone but with a lot of money left from her father. She took time to build herself her own power base using her own abilities and wealth to continue her fathers business. Once she had sufficiently built up her power she attacked the rival family and ensured none survived not even the children. Thus she earned a reputation for ruthlessness. She continued to run the business successfully until two years ago when one of her men made a mistake bad enough to give the police sufficient evidence to finally come after the Hernandez cartel. Warned in advance by the mole she had in the police force, Carmen was able to escape off world and disappear.

It was whilst she was on the run that she met Ethan Williams and was hired by him to help him build his organisation. Two years later and she is an indispensable asset to Williams and his group. She has become his second in command through a combination of hard work, ruthlessness and a complete lack of morals. The others in his organisation have learned not to mess with her and follow her through fear and respect.

So begins...

Carmen Hernandez's Story

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Character Portrait: Carmen Hernandez
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INK

If one were stupid enough be outside strolling in the shadiest parts of the slums of the Artemis colony, they might have had to avoid a rather loud, rather poorly kept man hobbling through the streets with what you would assume to be a bottle of alcohol in one hand and what looked like a knife in the other, which on further inspection you would be able to tell that it was in fact attached to his middle finger. This wasn't the first time he was here, and it certainly wouldn't be the last, if this man ever had a home it would be in dirt and squalor.

Seth Aviur was bored, and frustrated. Right now the Artemis colony police station was being blown up, and he wasn't even allowed to be near it. Sure, he was allowed some creative input on the explosive itself; but if you aren't there to witness your handiwork, you might as well not have made it at all.

'Damn Hernandez, gets to have all the fun.' he spat some built up bile and attempted to lean on a fence, underestimating its distance slightly and instead slumping down on the floor just in front of it, 'Bah, subtlety my ass.' He lifted his bottle to take a swig of the cheap liquor, but missed his mouth and instead it trickled into his patchy and singed beard.

'Oh, but Seth…' He continued in a rather insulting impersonation of the second in command, 'This mission requires someone a little more tactful than you!' He was paraphrasing, or even making up what was said to him, but Seth was too angry or possibly too intoxicated to care. Still, he knew better than to do this while Carmen Hernandez herself was present. Her way with words and the subtle power she possessed meant that if there was one person that could make Seth hold his tongue, it would be her. He shuddered slightly at the thought of her voice, but the moment passed and he went back to cursing the hated individual.

Now completely sitting on the unpaved floor with his back on the iron fence, Seth clicked his fingers and sparked a flame. He studied it intently, before putting it out and restarting in the same way that a smoker might use their lighter in order to pass the time. The flame seemed to have a calming effect. The warm light from the fire reflected off of Seth's face in such a way that he almost seemed friendly, before it contorted into a face of rage as Seth got up and launched a crude fireball into what he hoped was an occupied shack, reducing it to a pile of scrap and pushing Seth back onto the ground on his back.

For a moment, Seth could see the sky. It was a beautiful day, he hated it. The next moment, he was reminded of two things. One, that he had spilled a large proportion of his drink on himself and around him in his tirade. Secondly, alcohol and fire don't mix.

'Shitshitshitshit!' Seth cursed as he pat down his body to get rid of the newly sprouted flames, luckily his clothes were fire retardant. His hair, however, was quite the opposite. Cursing even further, he almost didn't hear the small beeping noise coming from the communicator in his right pocket. Upon noticing the sound, Seth froze from his temper tantrum. He didn't have to answer it, if he was being called it meant he was being summoned and if he was being summoned it meant that Hernandez had successfully completed her mission. After a moment’s hesitation, Seth sprinted off in the direction he had come in, stumbling a little in his slightly drunken state as he did so.

In half the time it took him to get there, Seth arrived at headquarters from the slums to see the second in command herself coolly making her way towards the entrance. Seth, with all the patience of a child who's been promised a treat and all grudges forgotten, spoke so quickly you could have sworn more than one person was speaking, 'Is it done? Was it good? Did they scream? I bet they screamed! They did, didn't they? Ha! I knew it! So what's next?'

He grinned, childlike, with a glint in his eye that he hadn't had in a while. Things were finally going to move at a faster pace. Seth Aviur was no longer bored.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Seth Aviur Character Portrait: Ethan Williams Character Portrait: Carmen Hernandez
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INK

The man crossed one leg over the other, leaning back in the rickety wooden chair as he always did when he visited this place, careful to avoid putting too much stress on the woodwork’s hind legs. The chair was obviously too small for the man, as if it were designed for a child. Its backrest barely made it past the small of the man’s back, and the perimeter of the seat itself dug into the bottom of the man’s hips. “It is said that sex and race,” the man began, speaking to the people who sat before him, his voice steadily rising in tone and tenor, “because they are easy, visible differences, have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups.”

Those that sat before the man looked up at the venerable being before them with unabashed reverence and awe. Most of them were covered in filth and grime, their hair unkempt, teeth stained brown, as it’d been many a day before they’d found an opportunity to wash and clean themselves with water that wasn’t toxic to the touch. More still had visible scarring, some even missing entire limbs. The man could see the desperation in their faces. He could see the anguish hidden faintly behind their adoration. There was an unbridled detestation there. An aimless animosity. It was the end result of being churned through, chewed up, and spit out by a system that was built with the sole purpose of keeping them in their place. Keeping them within the designation of “inferior”—despite their superior attributes.

“I can tell you, personally,” the man continued, “that this is no longer the case. The dogmatists of sex and race have ceased their bickering, aligning themselves with one another and coalescing their forces in order to concentrate their oppressive hate in a single direction: at us.” The man waited for a moment, giving his audience time to comprehend and digest his words. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” Several heads nodded in concert, all too eager to accept what the man was preaching. In response, the man stood. He could not come to his full height, though, because the ceiling of the dank dilapidated little shack within which he stood was far too short. The man himself was around six feet tall at his full height, with dark bronze skin and thick black hair that lined his head and lightly surrounded his mouth and chin. His appearance was particularly kempt, which was in direct contrast to those that made up his audience. This was not the most striking characteristic of the man, however. It was by far his vibrant black eyes, pupils surrounded by concentric gray rings. It was a particularly odd mutation, and one that was rare enough to make him easily identifiable in a crowd.

The man looked over those in his audience, taking the time to meet each of their eyes with his own. The vast majority of them were children, some not even old enough to hit puberty… and they were all psychics, of a kind. He knew quite a few of the kids personally. Knew their parents. Their brothers. Their sisters. It was here that he’d met some of his best friends and current coconspirators. Here. In the slums of Artemis colony. Like the rest of the slums all throughout human proliferation in the Milky Way, this slum was rife with the forcibly impoverished, a majority of which had psychic abilities.


**


Outside of the shack, nearly a block away, stood three figures garbed in all black. They were immediately recognizable as out of place, so deep in the slums of Artemis. Across their chests and backs, in bold white letters, was the word “PSEA”. They had assault-style phase weapons in their hands, their bodies covered in tactical SWAT gear, their eyes shielded by transparent green glass that resembled visors. The squad advanced down the block with practiced haste, their weapons pointed towards the ground but unmistakably at the ready. The squad members each took turns as the point man, walking at the head of the group, scanning the area and moving several steps at a time before kneeling down and taking a favorable watch position behind a vehicle, light fixture, or some other form of cover. As they did so, their phase weapon would invariably become parallel with the ground, ready to fire upon any threat. Every time one of them took up a watch position, the squad member furthest back would advance forward, becoming the new point man and repeating the cycle, confident in their teammates’ ability to cover his or her back.

They continued this leapfrog tactic, each member taking turns going first as they got closer and closer to the mid-sized humble shack at the block’s corner, careful to make as little noise as possible. Their advance was noted by the locals, however, most of whom made themselves scarce, snatching their kids up off the street and running, shuttering their windows, and slamming the deadbolt on their doors like in some old Wild West movie. When they came within a dozen meters of the shack, the group fanned out, attempting to surround the place. As she maneuvered, one of the PSEA members tapped the side of her visor, and her view of the scene immediately switched from one of midday sunshine to the cool blues, lustrous greens, and vibrant pinks of infrared vision. Gazing at the shack, she was presented with several human-like silhouettes, highlighted in various shades of reds, yellows, and oranges. One silhouette in particular caught her attention, her visor confirming her suspicions. A gray square appeared around the silhouette, and next to it some alarmingly-red text that read:

Ethan Williams
\___86% match


Despite her training, the PSEA officer’s heart began to race at the thought of hauling in the body of Ethan Williams. The Ethan Williams, one of PSEA’s most wanted criminals and leader of the galaxy’s predominant psychic terrorist organization. Tapping her visor again, the PSAE officer spoke.

“Command. This is Optics-2 actual.”
“Go ahead, Optics-2.”
“The tip has been confirmed. AI puts Ethan Williams at the target complex with 86% certainty. Live extraction is a negative. How do you want to play this?”
There was silence for a moment before the officer received a response.
“Optics-2, you have been authorized for weapons hot. I repeat, you have been authorized for weapons hot.”
“Understood, Command.” The officer tapped her visor twice this time before speaking again. “Optics team, we are go for weapons hot.” The officer sneered then, her tone becoming less commanding and more jovial. “This is a criminal assembly in direct violation of penal code statue seven governing the residents of lower Artemis. I want no survivors, boys. None.” The officer pulled the action on her phase weapon, which snapped back with a soft click!, ensuring it was ready to fire its deadly payload. Through her visor, she could hear the other members of her squad doing the same. “It’s time we remind these cheeky cunts who the law is around here.”


**


“I don’t see your older sister among us today, Rashid,” the man known as Ethan Williams said to the boy in front of him. Ethan had taken a knee, stooping so that he was eye level with the child. The kid was no older than ten years, though the weight of the expression on his otherwise young face made him look three times that. He had seen things he ought not to have seen. Ethan was sure the same could be said for a majority of the slum’s orphaned youth, most of which currently encircled him, their attention unshakable, their minds hanging off of every word that dropped from his lips. They numbered roughly thirty or forty, filling the small shack completely.

The boy he’d addressed, Rashid, looked away from Ethan as if ashamed. “My sister,” he began, pausing to wipe his eyes with what remained of his grimy tattered sleeve. “The pigs got her!” Around these parts, “pig” was a colloquial term for the police forces that routinely brutalized the residents of the slums. Ah, to wax poetic.

“What?” Ethan responded with genuine dismay. Rashid’s older sister, a nineteen-year-old kleptomaniac and particularly powerful psychic, was a good friend of Ethan’s, and was one of the main operators spreading word of his message to other psychics throughout these slums. “What happened?”

Rashid began to cry, bringing the backs of his hands to his eyes in a futile attempt to hide his shame. “She went into a store outside the slums,” he said between hiccups. “We ran out of food and s-she said… she told me to wait outside. That’s when they rushed in and got her.”

“Who?” Ethan asked gently, realizing he already knew the answer to that question.

“The pigs!” He cried, his voice shriller with every passing second. “They said she was a killer and they had a warrant to take her away!” He pronounced “warrant” wa-went. As the child became more and more agitated, odd things began happening inside of the shack. Dirt and small rocks—the shack had no actual floor—began to float up into the air, along with other random objects, including shoes, bags, and articles of clothing. A few of the others yelped in surprise as they, too, began to float upwards.

Like his elder sibling, the boy Rashid was a telekinetic psychic, and a particularly powerful one at his age. He was also easily excitable, which usually spelled disaster for his surroundings.

Before things got out of control, Ethan placed a hand on Rashid’s small shoulder. For a moment, the grey rings that encircled Ethan’s pupils glowed ever-so faintly. Without warning, the anti-gravity effect that permeated the shack ceased entirely. Dirt and rocks fell to the ground, rendered inert. Those people that were floating also fell to the ground, though they were low enough to easily land on their feet.

Like these orphaned children before him, Ethan, too, was a psychic. He, too, was powerful, but not in a direct sense. He had the ability to amplify or even dampen the psychic abilities of those around him—an effect that was compounded many folds through the simple act of physical contact.

They called his ability “Conduit,” and as far as he knew, he was the only one who had it, though he wouldn’t be surprised to encounter others that shared this seemingly rare gift.

“Calm, Rashid, calm,” Ethan said, soothingly, mussing the boy’s hair with his other hand. “We must never let the events of the day overwhelm us.” Ethan stood again, keeping one hand on Rashid’s head, this time addressing everyone. “They want you riled up. They want you all angry, disorganized, and divided. It’s exactly what they’re betting on.” He looked down at Rashid, who had dried his tears and was looking back up at Ethan, his expression wanting. Ethan knew what the boy desired of him.

Reassurance. A promise that his sister was still alive. That she’d one day return to him.

But Ethan didn’t make a habit of lying to other psychics.

Instead, he decided to build upon the boy’s pain, using it to further connect with his audience. “How many here have lost someone to the pigs?” Several hands went up, including Rashid’s. Ethan grunted in disapproval—not of the children before him, but of society writ large. “And how many of you have witnessed their despotic propaganda?” From the looks on some of their faces, it became obvious that his words had confused a few of the younger members of the gathering, so Ethan rephrased. “How many of you have been taught,” he began, his deep baritone taking on a certain fervor, “in what they call schools around here…” He accentuated his every word with a sharp hand gesture. “… the penal statues of nonviolence?”

This time, almost everyone raised their hands. Ethan barked a laugh. It was a callous sound.

“I tell you now, children of the slums of Artemis. Orphans to the war effort against all of psychic kind by these Mundanes… a great man once said: it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. Do not let them trick you. This system is rigged against you!” He began punctuating each sentence by slamming his fist into his palm. “Do not be peaceful. Do not follow their rules. The time will come soon when you will all participate in a glorious battle, here, in Artemis and around the galaxy, ordained by the Gods, for your freedom…” Ethan looked down at Rashid. “For the freedom of your loved ones…” Ethan returned his gaze to his audience. “And for the freedom of all psychics!”

The small audience let out a cheer, gazing up at Ethan once more with unabashed reverence and awe. Some, mostly the younger children, were smiling. Others, mostly the older teenagers and adults, were smirking, ready now to fight against those they deemed oppressors.

It was perfect. The existence and purported brutality of the PSEA was making an enemy of almost every poor and lower-middle-class psychic in the Milky Way. If things continued as they were, his organization would be overflowing with new, loyal recruits from all sectors of the galaxy. He’d be able to export his operation to the far reaches of human civilization. The superior, natural evolution of man—the psychics—did not deserve to be relegated to the sidelines. They would not be. They will not be. He would not allow it.

Ethan’s eyes swept across the gaggle that surrounded him. All they required now was a slight push in the right direction, and then their minds would be forever made. They would fight this oppressive system with their entire beings. To their final breath. “They can beat you. They can bruise you. They can come for you. They will come for you. They can take you. They can even kill you.” His voice scaled and scaled in proportion to the audience’s cheers and roars of agreement until it reached a furious crescendo. “But never! Let! Them! Break you!”

Suddenly, a loud, piercing whistle rang out like an air siren, immediately silencing everyone in the shack. Despite the shock and confusion, the faintest hint of a grin touched Ethan’s lips.


**


Standing on the corner, about a meter from the dilapidated little shack of a building where Ethan was holding his rally, were two males. One was tall, light skinned, wearing a hoodie—hood up—with shorts that came down to his shins. The other was a bit shorter, brown skinned, wearing what remained of a pair of blue jeans and a threadbare green t-shirt that read “Fuck the PSEA!” across the front, the letters obviously hand drawn. Neither of them was much older than eighteen.

Little did they know, they were well within the sights of a PSEA assault-style weapon and its scope.

“This is Optics-1,” muttered a PSEA officer who was crouched behind an overturned car, his gun trained on the two men in front of the shack. “I have a clear shot on the two to our nine. AI marks them as potentially hostile. Engaging.”

The officer took the shot. The remote artificial intelligence in his visor, which was linked directly to the AI core mother-system back at the local PSEA command building, corrected any discrepancies in his aim. The phase round collided with the taller man’s head, dead center. He fell to his knees and then to the ground, the top half of his skull having ceased to exist. Before the first man even hit the floor, the officer pivoted and fired another shot, this one aimed at the shorter man, however, this round missed, instead striking the man as he dodged to the side, hitting him in the thigh.

The officer moved in with all the swiftness and training of a marine, his comrades mirroring his advance, though from different directions. He fired two more shots, reducing his target to pulp… but not before the guy was able to place his fingers into his mouth, letting loose an earsplitting whistle. The sound was literally deafening, nearly causing the officers to drop their weapons. Luckily, their visors protected them from such psionic offensives. The guy had been a psychic with an ability that allowed him to amplify his voice, that much was obvious.

Too bad he’d never speak again.

“Push! Push! Push!” Muttered the female PSEA officer very rapidly, moving down the narrow alley and around the side of the shack, her weapon in front of her, finger on the trigger. The other two members of her squad followed close behind, one looking up to ensure no sniper-type enemies were above them and the other bringing up the rear, watching out for a surprise attack. The alleyway was totally devoid of life, though the infrared reading showed 40-some heat signatures still within the shack.

As they approached the shack’s only entrance—a small dangling cloth that constituted the building’s door—the female officer made a fist with her hand. The others stopped moving. “Disengage infrared,” she muttered, tapping her own visor once. The others followed suit. After a few moments of stillness, the leading officer darted across the doorway, ending up on the other side. The other two came closer to the entrance as well. They now had the door surrounded on both sides.

“Breach!” Called the female officer, surging forward with all the haste and destructive intent of a hurricane, her squad members at her sides like the twin guns of a fighter jet. Immediately upon breaching the space, the three PSEA officers opened fire, spraying the entire room with phase rounds, literally lighting up the place.

After nearly half a minute of sustained fire, the female officer’s voice rang out. “Hold!” The three stopped firing their weapons, letting their muzzles fall to the point that they were facing the ground.

“What the hell…?” One of the officers said under his breath, a confused look on his face. The others weren’t faring much better.

There were something wrong with the scene before them. There was no one in the shack.

No one.

It was completely empty. Not a single hint of a human being, psychic or not.

“Check our three-nine,” the female officer said, as calmly as one would when conversing over tea. She was referring to their flanks. The other two officers swiveled, guns at the ready, muzzles hot, stocks buried into their shoulders, fingers on the trigger. “Infrared marked them all as being right in front of us…” She said under her breath, tapping her visor once.

Immediately, her sight reverted back to infrared, and what she saw caused her to gasp.

“They’re here!” she called. The other two officers looked to her, confused.
“What?”
“The psychics! They’re still here! Fire!”

As if on cue, the moment the officer shouted “fire,” a large explosion could be heard in the distance. The concussive nature of the blast could be felt, however weakly, even this far into the slums, the ground shaking slightly.

Immediately, a high-pitched ear-piercing screech emanated from the three PSEA officer’s visors. Simultaneously, the image the visors presented to the officer’s eyes went from crystal clear to grey and white static noise, as if someone had pulled the cable cord out of an old-school television.

The two subordinate officers immediately threw their headsets to the ground, their ears still ringing. The female officer, however, kept tapping her visor, as if she expected something to change.

“Command!” She called. “Command! This is Optics-2! Come in!”
The only response was more static noise.
“Command! Come in! This is Optics-2!”
Static noise.
“COMMAND!”

“They won’t respond,” came a voice out of the ether.

All three officers pointed their weapons towards the source of the noise, the female officer joining her comrades in discarding her headset and visor.

“We know you’re here,” the female officer said very coolly, having completely regained her composure. “We scoped you all with infrared. Come out and you will not be harmed.”

She was greeted only by silence.

“This is your final warning,” she threatened, pulling the action on her phase weapon to make her point. The sound it made was somewhat reminisce of a shotgun being cocked. “Reveal yourselves or die.”

“No need for that, officer,” came the voice again. A moment later, a man materialized out of thin air, as if he’d been standing there the entire time. Concurrently, some forty other people, many of them children, also appeared. They’d cloaked themselves somehow. No doubt some sort of psychic ability.

The man who’d spoken stepped forward. On either side of him was a child—one boy and one girl—both around ten years old by the officer’s estimate. He was holding their hands. Both children’s eyes were glowing slightly, which was odd to see, even amongst psychics. The boy had a particularly nasty expression on his face as he stared at her. Somehow, he looked rather familiar, but the officer didn’t dwell on it. The little girl, on the other hand, was missing an entire eye. A shame for her.

“Ethan Williams, I presume,” she said with extreme confidence, her gun trained on the man’s chest.

“Having trouble phoning home, I presume?” Ethan responded, mirroring her voice and mannerisms in an attempt to aggravate her.

The officer narrowed her eyes. “So you did had something to do with jamming our comm network.” She swept her eyes over the others in the shack. Most had fearful looks in their eyes. Some were crouched down, covering their hands with their arms. Others stared back at her, defiant.

They weren’t truly a threat to her, however. She’d easily beat the defiance out of this motley band of social invalids. In fact, she’d enjoy it.

“What psychic ability allowed you to accomplish that?” She asked, her eyes returning to Ethan.

In response, the man shrugged. “Wasn’t me.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
Ethan smiled. It was genuine. If he weren’t a known terrorist, it might even have been disarming. “It wasn’t.”
“Then what happened?”

“If you’re asking why all your anti-psychic toys stopped working…” Ethan’s facial expression didn’t wane in the slightest. “A colleague of mine just detonated a bomb within the vicinity of your core command center. From what I hear, there were no survivors.” His entire face seemed to narrow in on itself, his expression becoming openly malicious, his tone taking on a hint of condescension. “Do unto others as they would do unto you. It is my prevailing life philosophy, officer.”

The officer masked her internal turmoil well. In truth, she was overwhelmingly angry. Pissed just didn’t describe the level to which she hated the man before her. Hate all of them for thinking they existed outside of the law. For thinking they were superior. In reality, they were no better than anyone else, and she knew it. She would make them know it, now, too.

She would teach them the error of their ways.

“You are all in direct violation of penal code statue seven, governing the residents of lower Artemis, which includes these slums. This is a criminal assembly, and you will all be punished to the utmost extent of the law.” She gave her fellow officers a look before facing forward again, her voice and demeanor as cool and collected as ice.

“Kill them all.”

The three officers opened fire, once again spraying the room with phase rounds. Those in the room ducked for cover, arms over their heads, but it wouldn’t matter. The assault-style weapons and their helium phase rounds would eat these invalids for lunch.

Unfortunately for the officers, something was amiss. Even without the assistive AI and its auto-aiming capabilities, a majority of the phase rounds flew true, though they stopped just a few inches short of striking their targets. Again and again, a round would barrel towards a child, and again and again it would prematurely detonate and disappear, as if it were coming into contact with some sort of invisible wall.

“Hold!” The officer called, raising her hand. The other two officers stopped firing. She didn’t want them to needlessly exhaust their ammunition supply on a tactic that wasn’t working. “They have force shielding of some kind!” She called in warning, but it was too late.

Ethan Williams looked down to his left, at the boy who was holding his hand. “Rashid,” he said. “If you would.”

The boy nodded, raising his arm, his hand curled as if grasping an unseen item, his eyes glowing even more noticeably. That’s when the officer put two and two together. “Conduit,” she uttered.

The officers’ assault-style phase weapons were ripped from their grasps by some imperceptible influence. The weapons floated in the air in direct opposition to the force of gravity, rotating slowly 180-degrees to face the officers who previously wielded them.

Ethan had a look on his face that could only be described as smug. “Do unto others as they would do unto you,” he said, adding in the end as if a second thought: “Officer.”

The floating phase rifles began unloading their payloads, showering the officers in flaming helium. Their helium-retardant standard issue PSEA tactical garments were no match for the concentrated barrage, and were quickly rendered useless.

What remained of two of the officers collapsed onto the ground in a bloody mess, their assorted body parts letting off steam from being hit with so many phase rounds. Only the female officer survived, though she did not come through the laser circus unscathed. Parts of her right leg had been seared off entirely. She had her back to the shack’s wall and was wheezing audibly, directing most of her weight towards her left leg.

The three floating weapons all aimed at her, and the officer knew it was the end.

“Now Rashid,” Ethan said with gentle reproach, looking down to the boy on his left. “Don’t be impatient.”

“But,” the boy began. “She’s the one that took my sister!”

The floating weapons all audibly cocked themselves. In response, Ethan let go of the boy’s hand. Immediately, the weapons all fell to the ground, inert. The boy’s eyes also stopped glowing.

“Hey!” He said, beginning to pout.
“Mind yourself, Rashid,” Ethan said, looking instead towards the surviving officer. “Isn’t that right, officer?”

Instead of a witty rejoinder, the officer pulled a phase-augmented knife—a veritable “beam weapon”—activating it. “Fuck you!” She screamed.

Ethan turned, placing both his hands on the girl’s, whom stood to his right. She shot a quick glance up at him, her one eye burning fiercely with a foreign power, and nodded once before returning her eye to glare at the PSEA officer.

And then suddenly, Ethan evaporated, as if into thin air. There was no trace of his presence.

The officer’s expression grew feral as she began swiping at the empty air that surrounded her, hoping to land at hit on the invisible Ethan. “No,” she growled. “NO!”

She didn’t notice the man appear behind her, and was caught completely by surprise when he wrapped his arm around her neck, catching her in a choke hold. When she tried to stab him, he grabbed her hand at the wrist, overpowering her. After a few more moments of struggle, she stopped, clawing at Ethan’s arm as it constricted around her neck like an anaconda. She started making choking noises.

“If you manage to make it out of this place alive,” he whispered into her ear, “tell your friends in the PSEA to send their best this time. I’m ready for them now, just like I was ready for you.” The officer’s face was turning blue. Taking advantage of her vulnerability, Ethan tightened his grip on the woman’s knife-hand, wrapping her fist with his own. “Oh, and keep your officers out of my slums.”

And then he plunged the blade into the side of her body, just under the rib cage, purposely avoiding any major arteries or internal organs. Blood poured from the wound, flowing around the knife’s blade and dripping onto the floor. Ethan released the officer, who careened off towards the shack’s entrance. He followed by giving her a helpful kick to the posterior, sending her to crash painfully into the wall of the adjacent building just outside of the entrance.

“It was nice to meet you, officer,” Ethan called out after her as she hobbled away for dear life. Again, his voice and mannerisms were oddly genuine. “Do try to have a nice day.”

Realizing the danger she was in as a wounded PSEA officer in the middle of the psychic slums, the last surviving member of the PSEA Optics-2 squadron made her way out of the alley at a haggard pace, using whatever she could find to keep her balance, her own knife poking out of her side like a birthday candle. A trail of blood marked her path.

All she had to do was make it to the evac point two blocks down…

All around the noticeably wounded and weakened PSEA officer, watchful eyes peeked out from behind shuttered windows and through the cracks of doors left ajar. They didn’t look happy to see her.


**


Ethan stepped out of the vehicle, offering the driver a generous tip.

“You know the drill?” Ethan asked in a way that made it clear it wasn’t really a question.
“I didn’t see you. I don’t know you,” the driver muttered, eying the wad of bills.
“Indeed. I’ve included double the usual credits as thanks for your loyal service.”

The driver snatched the bills and sped off.

Ethan turned away from the street, looking towards the building that was their makeshift headquarters. Surely, the others were already inside. With all the suave and swagger of a conquering general, Ethan Williams entered the building, greeting the familiar faces that he found inside.

So far, so good. Everything was going according to plan.