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Strange Tales From Hadean

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Strange Tales From Hadean

Tips: 0.25 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:02 pm

Image


Stories are strange, aren't they? We treat them as little islands, disconnected and separated from each other, existing in whole other planes of reality and existence. But that’s not really true, is it? The Odyssey or the Iliad, Beowulf, or Shakespeare, stories that have influenced authors for centuries, and sometimes millennia. Across the world, throughout time, one story inevitably sparks the creative innovation for another, and then another, and then another, almost like a ripple effect. But a ripple, whatever outcome it may have, always disappears. Stories, as much as humans can protect and preserve them, are always left behind as new ones are created, like an intricate web, or a tapestry.

Stories unite us as a species, they unify history and mythology, religion and philosophy. They are not at all like islands unto themselves, but like a map of our universe.

And no matter where you look, or when you look, you can always find stories, always find history even, that is a little…

Strange.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


It’s early June, around 3am, and it’s incredibly rainy outside. You’re in a diner situated up on a hillside, looking out over the Oregonian shores being lapped at by the Pacific. Giant shards of rock are jutting out of the dark waters, and darkened green trees and plant life stretch across the hill, up towards the highway adjacent to this diner. While it is still dark outside, the mountains that rise up behind the diner have a faint, dark blue hue beginning to form above them, the first signs of pre-dawn’s approach.

You consider that it seems odd for a place like this to be open so early, but it’s popular for truckers in the midst of a long haul, though currently the only living souls in there besides you are the cook and the waitress.

From inside the kitchen, you can hear the distant echoing of the radio starting to play the intro of “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & The Papas. Perhaps it feels a little too early in the morning to be listening to something so melancholy, but you supposed there were worse things you could be dealing with.

Just then, a bell rang out as the door to the diner opened. As you turned and looked in that direction, a figure dressed in a fine, three piece suit walked in.

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray)


As your eyes meet his, lingering on that hollow and predatory grin, you can’t help but feel as if the Devil himself walked into the room.

Actually, it felt as if the Devil had been in the diner, he’d have quickly paid and left already.

I've been for a walk (I've been for a walk)
On a winter's day (on a winter's day)


You begin to get up to leave, but as you do, his hand gently lands on your shoulder.

“Hey there friend, mind if I take a seat with you?”

There’s no time to argue with Peter Radovan, and with the slightest, almost imperceptible push, you’re back in your seat. His hand comes away from your shoulder and back onto the counter. He looks you over a moment or two before taking his suit jacket off, loosening his tie, and rolling up his shirt sleeves. Had formal attire ever managed to look so menacing before? Likely not since American Psycho…

He reached into his jacket, and produced a lighter and a pack of cigarettes. “Mind if I smoke?” Peter asked rhetorically as he lit the smoke without anyone’s permission. Or protest for that matter.

“Looks like you’ve been on the run or something eh? Got some bags under your eyes. Hmm…” He looks you up and down, letting smoke billow out of his mouth like a dragon. Peter smirks contentedly once he feels he’s sized you up properly.

“Y’know, you strike me as someone who likes stories! I don’t wanna talk myself up too much either, but I can tell you I’ve got LOTS of stories. Some good, some bad, but that’s what you get with quantity.”

A cup of coffee is slid to him by the waitress, and he begins to add his fixings to it as he locks eyes with you once more. “At any rate, you’ve got plenty of time on your hands. How about I regale you with a couple?” You instinctively know you should refuse and run. But that smile, and those eyes, cutting into your soul…

You both know that you can’t.

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Lord Saethos
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Re: Strange Tales From Hadean

Tips: 0.25 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Sun Jul 04, 2021 11:45 pm

Steam continues to gently rise up from the coffee cups on the counter, but one quickly has it snuffed away as its picked up. Peter takes a few sips, enjoying the dark, burnt flavor that passes his lips. He's looking over the counter, watching a few glimpses of the chef hard at work in the back, though it seems his mind is elsewhere.

"Can I level with you about something pal?" He asked with a darkly wistful grin.

"I hate heroes. A lot. Strange given the job I have, which despite what the conspiracy theorists may say, does involve trying to work with Supers and recruit them. Anyways, heroes always think the absolute world of themselves and their self-righteous morality. Don't get me wrong, we both know their morality can be pretty often spot on, but its incredibly inefficient."

He turned to face you, eyes locking with yours again. "I'm not just talking about supers either, you know. Honestly, at least with supers around it makes regular people think they can't make a difference. Then again... They rarely can even if they tried. Same with supers." He cackled as he took another sip of his coffee, giving a slight shrug as he set it down.

"Some people would say that's pessimistic, but really that's just the way people with power like to keep things. And I should know a thing about that, wouldn't you think?" The grin softens into a smirk, something patronizing and confident. His eyes linger uncomfortably on you, like something out of a nature documentary, some kind of mountain lion toying with its prey.

"I've got a story about this sort of thing as a matter of fact. It's a bit of a secret to be honest, but you look like the kind of person who can keep a secret." He cackled again, patting you on the shoulder gently as he did so, before returning his hand to the coffee cup.

"I call this one... We Don't Need A Hero."

....................................................................................................................................


July 5th 2032, 2:08am - Somewhere over the jungles of Colombia

The roar of the VTOL's jets was deafening, forced most of the occupants on board to wear protective headgear. Not for the heroes though. Super strength, among other things, seemed to make their ears more impervious to sound damage as well. This was a benefit both Captain Valor and Lone Star were enjoying.

A faint glow lit up the inside of the troop carrier, created by the fires and explosions overtaking the jungle below.

"Looks like the Jackboots are giving the Roobs down there something to worry about." Lone Star said with a smirk. "What are they anyways?"

"What? Rubra Morte? Pretty sure they're Colombians, Star, hence why we're in Colombia. You been hitting the sauce?"

"Cap, I meant politically. Are they Commies or something?"

Valor shrugged. "I guess? I mean they're a terrorist group sure, but doesn't really matter at the end of the day. The higher ups want the 'Granadian' General to become Colombia's Generalissimo, so I hear. Guess he's more politically stable."

Colombia's Civil war had started as a fight between the not-quite-democratically elected conservative party of the country, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). However, keen to put the nation onto a more 'manageable' path, resources and weapons have been funneled to a General in Colombia's military, one with more Far-Right leaning tendencies, and who has proclaimed to be set on re-establishing Colombia as Granada, and extending their borders into their 'rightful lands'. Lands which happen to be part of other countries, a fact that can be overlooked, so long as it keeps the Commies at bay.

Rubra Morte, however, was another story.

The VTOL's cabin was briefly lit up by a flash of light inside, followed by the bitter scent of a freshly lit cigarette. The figure smoking it was barely silhouetted by the glow of the cherry, and the battle below.

"Way I hear it, the Roobs have been around for quite a while. It's stuff that's not widely talked about, but back in the 1990's, they apparently had quite the conflict going on with some old corporation. Ultrox Incorporated I think it was."

Lone Star frowned. Why did a SINS agent have to get sent on a mission like this? What was he even supposed to be achieving here? Guy didn't even have any powers to speak of. "And how do you know about that Agent? Sounds like its before your time if it was the 1990's. Unless SINS does job fairs in maternity wards."

The agent cackled before taking another drag of his cigarette. "I'm a big fan of learning boys, education is one of the most important things you can have. And I gotta say, SINS has all kinds of educational materials to look at, if you know where to look in the first place. Anyways, Ultrox must have been involved in some shady stuff. They had a couple different divisions, from pharmaceuticals to industrial products, and even weapons development. But the Roobs, for whatever reason, took to trying to completely destroy their business. Might be that Ultrox was doing human experiments perhaps, that's a pretty solid theory. Can't really ask anyone though sadly, since the business pretty much did everything it could to erase itself before it went completely defunct and could get investigated by the feds. Scorched Earth. Burned the whole house down and locked the doors, so to speak."

Valor turned a steely gaze towards Peter, his own theories starting to form. "Based on what we've seen, you think Ultrox was trying to create man-made supers? Because I've seen quite a few Roob supes on the field."

As the smoke billowed from his mouth, the light of the fires outside illuminated the agent's toothy grin. "Who can say Cap. At the end of the day, they're a threat to American interests. I guess that's enough to assume Ultrox had quite a bit of shady stuff going on behind closed doors."

The agent finished their cigarette, dropping it on the VTOL's floor, and stamping it out. Coms came to life as the team was informed they were close to the drop zone, causing the agent to stretch their arms and shoulders before standing and approaching the side doors.

Peter Radovan gazed down at the fires below, and cast a menacing grin at Lone Star and Valor. "Well boys, time to make some war crimes happen." He tied a rappel line to his combat harness, giving a brief two finger salute to the two heroes as he gripped onto an assault rifle.

"And remember the number 1 rule: Have fun."

As Lone Star and Captain Valor followed, the fires began to snuff out, and swathes of trees sent toppling to the ground. Screams echoed through the air.

....................................................................................................................................


October 9th 2043, 11:23pm - Somewhere in rural Pennsylvania

Stewart Grant was an award winning journalist. He'd been to nearly every battlefield that had existed since his 20's, had gotten interviews with some of the most dangerous men and women walking the Earth at the time, had stood in the midst of protests and riots as they happened, and had been one of the first voices to identify a change when it was coming. All this and he'd even managed to avoid any substance abuse issues, while simultaneously still having some mental health to speak of.

This was quickly deteriorating however. A colleague of his, Stella Goodwin, had gotten him following a lead recently that he was now starting to heavily regret.

So much so that he'd cut off all contact with Stella and made as certain as he could that any ties they two had up till now were erased. Stella was a good person, and he wasn't going to let her suffer for him falling too far down a rabbit hole.

Supers could be dangerous people.

Supers that were the face of the United States of America were borderline untouchable.

In spite of all that, he was nearly done making all the connections, and though it would put him in the crosshairs of the government, and potentially millions of angry Americans, he was going to be releasing his findings soon. There was really only one last thing to figure out. The identity of someone who'd been reported being among the fighters in Granada.

The SINS agent.

The sound of glass shattering immediately jolted Stewart, and not long after that a searing pain through his right hand. Holding it up in front of him, he could see it was now mangled and bleeding profusely. He broke out into blood curdling screams.

The adrenaline kicked in, and he quickly switched into survival mode, flicking the lights off throughout his home as he bolted for a USB plugged into his computer. He needed to leave ASAP, and the best way he could see at this point was probably the forest. Stewart knew it pretty well, so he likely had the home advantage there, he just needed to stay low and-

A crashing sound erupted behind him as the heavy wooden front door of his home came off its hinges, and went to the floor. In strode a man in a fine three piece suit. Stewart's eyes widened in horror.

"It's... You!"

"It's me! And it's Stewart Grant! How you doing buddy? I've heard you've been a bad boy lately, snooping under mom and dad's bed for presents! Tsk tsk! Don't you like surprises Stew?"

Stewart slowly inched his way away from Peter Radovan, towards the shattered window, not taking his eyes off the agent. "So you knew then... About the investigation... They sent you to finish me off..."

Peter chuckled and wagged a finger at the journalist. "It's ah... Not quite like that Stew. Y'see, blowing the lid off of Valor and Lone Star is one thing, though to be honest with you they've still got some use to them. But subjecting me to the public eye and scrutiny? Well to be honest with you, I can't have that happening. No sirree. I've got a lot of work still ahead of me, too much for nosey journalists to be mucking around."

Stewart chuckled, though felt himself getting dizzier by the second. "You're an idiot. You think killing me is going to save you? You're going to be caught, oh so soon too. My death can be ruled a suicide, but my colleagues will know what happened, and they'll get the story. Then, best case scenario, you'll go to jail for life. If I'm lucky though, so upstart vigilante supers will tear you limb from limb you freak."

There was a look of maniacal glee on Peter's face as he heard the journalist try to fight back. "You're right about one thing Stewart, your colleagues will get the story, but not the one you're hoping for. Not a suicide, but a genuine murder, committed by a very ambitious member of the Intelligence community hoping to secure himself a spot as Director of National Intelligence. What a perfect way for Douglas McNamara to demonstrate what a skilled spy he is; uncovering a brutal, murderous traitor in our own intelligence community!"

As the realization set in, Stewart's heart sank. They were going to politicize his own death, and what's more... McNamara, the head of SINS, and this agent here, were going to fast track their own careers. No, it couldn't be like this.

The journalist dove out the window, bracing himself for the feeling of the ground hitting him, but instead was met by the sensation of a sudden jerk as he then felt suspended in midair. Peter was gripping onto his shirt, pulling him back into the house through the window.

"Now now, we still gotta have some fun, make this look real!"

With that, he threw Stewart with full force towards a wall. When he hit the wall, it sent an almost bone shattering pain throughout his body. How could someone so average looking be so strong? Was this guy a super after all? Before he could finish another thought, he breath was cut off as a hand gripped around his neck, and a pistol was pointed at his head.

"That's the thing I hate about guys like you Stewart, 'heroes'. Trying to make the world a 'better place' as if that means something. But it doesn't Stew! You don't matter! Most people don't matter! You're just chafe! Cattle! If you just kept your mouth shut and your head down like a good boy, you could just keep on chewing cud all the merry days, while the people who actually matter do the real work, the meaningful stuff. Instead, I've gotta come down here and get my hands dirty."

Peter threw Stewart at the kitchen island, connecting the journalist's back with the countertop, the force of which broke several vertebrae. He collapsed to the ground, wheezing as he struggled to get any air into his lungs.

The SINS agent cracked his knuckles as he approached his prey lying prone. "Of course, as you're probably starting to realize now Stew... I actually really enjoy getting my hands dirty."

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Lord Saethos
Member for 7 years
Friendly Beginnings Promethean World Builder Group Theory Tipworthy Conversationalist Author Inspiration Lifegiver Person of Interest Novelist

Re: Strange Tales From Hadean

Tips: 0.25 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Jan 20, 2022 4:51 pm

Peter rapped his fingers across the counter top as he stared at you with what appeared to be intense condescension. Evidently, your reaction hadn't been quite what he'd been hoping for. Then again, perhaps there wasn't any reaction you could have given that would have satisfied him.

"Listen old chum, I am a narcissist. No doubt about that. But the least YOU could do as an upstanding listener is... Not be like THAT."

What exactly 'that' was referring to escaped your understanding. This was becoming a situation of walking on egg shells with the spy.

A moment later, a firm pressure landed on your shoulder again, Peter once again choosing to disregard the social norm of personal space. Though quite frankly, just the demented grin on his face was invasion enough. Didn't that ever make his cheeks sore?

"But maybe you've got a point. If I sit here all the days chewing your ear off about me, I imagine eventually you'll want to hear about something else. Luckily, I think I have just the thing! Maybe you'll like it more, I feel like it's got more of a message of bonding to it."

He took another sip of his still steaming coffee before muttering to quietly to himself "Literally even..."

With a flash of his eyes back to you, and another grin, he removed his hand from your shoulder to wave over to the waitress. "S'cuse me miss, can I get some sausages and scrambled eggs? And for my friend here... He looked back to you, sizing you up for another moment. "Uhh... Get them like a stack of pancakes or something." The waitress walked back into the kitchen to place the order, her eyes meeting yours for a moment, but not registering anything. If you tried to silently plead to her, if you looked scared or terrified, she hadn't noticed.

"Y'know, sausages are just a bunch of random ground up meat shoved into skin tubes? Weird if you think about it, could even be coming from a dozen different animals. Maybe even a couple different kinds! They do that with some ground meat, beef-pork mixes. When you really break it down, it is a little freaky ain't it? Not that I personally care, it all just ends up as food for the plants eventually." He cackled to himself again before raising a hand at you almost apologetically.

"Apologies for that actually, I shouldn't be so crass and crude, especially before we eat. At least your pancakes should be nice. Me personally, I tend to drown them in syrup. But y'know, you don't really eat anything else with syrup usually, do you?"

He took another sip of coffee, turned in his seat to face you head on again, and clasped his hands together on his lap.

"So, the story! This ones a favorite because it's still mostly unfolding right now, and there's a LOT more to learn from it! There's some ancient history still to be discovered, and as a personal fan of ancient history myself, I'm excited to see what more we can find out." He gave you another grin, with those hollow eyes looking like they peered straight through you like an open window.

"I call this one... Obelisk."

_____________________________________________________________________________________________


February 24th, 2045 - Caspian Sea, Classified Location on the Iranian-Azerbaijani Nautical Territorial Border

The mixing scents of salty brackish water, industrial chemicals, oil, and metal fill the air surrounding an Iranian oil rig. Cool wind is enough to ease the strain from the exhausting work, and not enough to sting, fortunately for the workers. While the scent of crude still clung in the air, it had been nearly 3 months since the rig had actually brought any up to the surface, and the work that had largely been surface based for so long had quickly shifted the rig into a makeshift construction site, which then began work on underwater construction, and finally underground construction.

The petro company that owned the rig and the oil rights had brought in outside expertise to establish a facility below the sea that would be able to sustain human life in there, namely corporate researchers trying to understand exactly what it was that they had come across. As far as anyone could tell, it was going to be an Earth shaking discovery, and they wanted to try and have the exclusive rights to it as much as possible, even if its only value was cultural or historical. A few Iranian scientists and archaeologists had been brought in as well, very much in secret to avoid drawing too much attention to their work. Kamran Ramezani had taken over the operation from the previous well-site managers, though the title of 'company consultant' was much more fitting of his position now.

Years of experience with geology, construction, engineering, and much more had made him the obvious choice for the company, someone who would bridge the gap between egg heads and roughnecks, making sure research would go smoothly, and nothing would collapse on top of them all. It was however, by far, the most difficult job he'd ever had to undertake. Still, now that it was complete and the new job was underway, he did feel a sense of accomplishment. It was an impressive feat for any nation, and he couldn't help but think of possible future applications for the technology.

This was all well and good of course, but none of it quelled the incredible sense of dread and horror at what actually lay down there. The scientists could probably make heads and tails of it, because he most certainly couldn't.

A radio crackled to life on his rig gear. "Kamran, come in. This is Rustam Base. The scientists are asking for you to come down and speak with them. Apparently its important, can't talk about it over the radio. Sounds like they need some pretty big things."

Kamran felt his chest clench slightly, feeling very uneasy about going down there again. It wasn't the sea, or being underground that concerned him. He knew what they built intimately, and trusted it almost as much as he trusted walking on dry land. No, he just didn't want to have to look at that 'thing' again.

"Copy that Rustam Base. I'm coming down." With a sigh, he made his way over to the central elevator platform that would take him down to the sea floor.

As the platform descended down a long metal tube, surrounded by probably two dozen workers, Kamran kept his eyes forward watching as the blue waters, illuminated by brilliant sunlight, steadily darkened until only man made lights granted visibility. A few fish could be seen swimming by windows, faint glimpses from the exterior lights. Kamran remembered hearing stories that astronauts and submarine crews had a strange reaction when returning to the Earth's surface. Something about being so detached from life, living plants, animals, people, gave them a much deeper, more emotional connection with it. The little things we so often take for granted (which God himself must care deeply for for them to be on his Earth), are sometimes the most beautiful.

The water disappeared and was soon replaced by stone, scrolling up past them for another minute or two before ceasing altogether.

Rustam Base. He couldn't tell if that naming was meant to be reassuring or tormenting.

Kamran stepped off the platform as workers filed out next to him, moving along to their respective stations. He parted down a hall towards the right, following a stony corridor surrounded by steel reinforcements. The ground was smooth and shiny, and and polished from the natural stone that existed there to save on materials, but also to bring some less ruggedy beauty to it.

At one time, parts of this complex were filled with oil, but it had been sucked dry around the same time they'd begun explorations to see if there were any other minerals or pockets of oil they could extract from. What they ended up finding certainly baffled the mind. How something like this showed up in an oil well, Kamran couldn't figure out. Granted, he'd had no time to really study the geology of this place since coming here, so for all he knew the explanation could be entirely logical. Of course, that also didn't explain why this thing existed in the first place.

The hallway ended abruptly with a set of heavy mechanical doors containing a clean room. There were glass windows that offered a glimpse of what lay inside.

"A`udhu bi kalimatillahi al-tammati min kulli shaytaanin wa hammatin wa min kulli `aynin lammah." He whispered quietly to himself.

I seek protection in the perfect words of Allah from every devil and every beast and from every envious blameworthy eye.

The doors slide open and he entered. The process was quick, and thankfully he wouldn't need to wear a clean suit in this initial observation area, but if he wanted to get any closer to the Obelisk, it was in a primary containment chamber that did require them. Looking through the glass windows that surrounded the containment chamber, he was reassured that he had no intentions of ever stepping into that room.

"Ah, Mr. Ramezani, good day. Thank you for joining us." Dr. Vahid Madani, the head researcher of this little project. An archaeologist who specialized in ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, including those as far North as Armenia and the Caucasus region.

"My... Pleasure. Dr. Madani, what is it that you required of me to bring me down here?"

The doctor nodded his head and waved his hands profusely. "I believe what I need to request will be better understood if I lay out exactly what is going on. I'm not certain the... Official channels will be sufficient for this project. Tensions between the Republic and the West would make it difficult I think to acquire what we need."

Kamran raised an eyebrow. "And what exactly do you need?"

The doctor ushered him over towards the observation window, where they got to take in a full view of The Obelisk. A pillar of flesh, corpses, long dead bodies (though how long, Kamran had no idea at this point). It was, in a word, grotesque. Who could have ever done such an obscene and disgraceful thing? Carved all over the skin of each body was writing, a style Kamran wasn't really familiar with, but the scientists seemed excited by. The whole thing had them excited, but all Kamran could see was something utterly and completely unholy.

"The markings on the skin, we've studied them and can say pretty conclusively that they're not one we've ever encountered. It's entirely possible we're wrong, and we need you to get some access to archaeological records from around the world that can help us figure this out. It looks incredibly similar to ancient Sumerian cuneiform, but there's differences, a certain primitiveness to it. We can't discern if this is a later writing system, or if this is perhaps the predecessor language to Sumerian! If it is, it changes our whole understanding of Mesopotamian history!"

Kamran scratched his chin for a moment before realizing something he had learned at least in passing with some sort of historical education in his past. "Sumerian? What is it doing all the way out here in the Qazvin? Sumerians, Mesopotamians, they never reached this far-"

"Exactly!" The doctor interrupted with glee. "So why is it here? We're still working on some theories, but we've done a little research on the bodies, the base they're built upon, the rock and stone surrounding the area, and at present our best guess is that it's been here for nearly 6000 years, which would relatively predate Sumeria itself. Of course, again, there's reasons we can't be certain on these things."

"You need more than just textbooks it sounds like Doctor?" Kamran responded a little tersely, not entirely pleased to be a messenger for their shopping list.

"Listen, Kamran, I know some of your background, so I'm sure you'll understand the significance of this. The bodies aren't... Decaying as they should be. They aren't exactly mummified as far as we can tell, no signs of organ removal or use of any preservatives. There is a strange substance that coats parts of it, in some parts like gel, in others like liquid or slime. It's why it's become hard to date it though, as it could be much older or younger than our predictions so far."

Now his heart was truly sinking. "Doctor... Forgive me, but this whole thing reeks of blasphemy. We may both be men of science, but surely we can recognize when something is objectively an abomination to Allah himself. It's a pillar of bodies man! With words we can't read etched into their skin, and you're saying it may not be decaying? On top of all this look at where we are! A thousand kilometers away from where this thing SHOULD be, at the bottom of the Baḥr Qazvin, in an empty oil well!"

The doctor, confused, raised an eyebrow and shook his head. "And your point? This is the archaeological find of a lifetime! Plus the potential scientific discoveries to be made here... What are you even insinuating we do about all this? You want to simply blow up this whole well because of your superstition? Kamran, this is a man made construct, by a civilization with a possibly dark religion that is LONG gone by the grace of Allah. We have nothing to fear! We're only being limited here by our lack of proper scientific access! Get me what we need and we can unlock these secrets, explain the truth behind this mystery, and change the world with this remarkable discovery!"

"KAMRAN!" The voice came through as a shout from his radio, startling him with the earnest fear in the voice. "The elevator! They're coming down the-" The voice cut out before anything else could be said. The Consultant and the Scientist exchanged uncertain glances for a moment. Not long later, the clean room doors were breached as men armed with familiar firearms and military fatigues stormed in. They held everyone at gun point, demanding ID's, job titles, etc. from the employees. One man, donning a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses, approached Kamran.

"Kamran Ramezani I presume?"

He nodded slowly and cautiously, trying to ensure he did not antagonize the soldier. "Correct. May I ask who you are sir? This is a private research operation, I don't think you should be here."

The soldier smirked. "Pleasure to meet you Mr. Ramezani. Major Farshad Davani, Quds."

Kamran couldn't tell if he felt relief or terror at that revelation. It either meant he'd be leaving here forever as a safe and healthy man, going to prison for the rest of his life, or he'd be tied to rocks at the bottom of the sea.

"Major, how can we help?"

The major removed his sunglasses, placing them inside a utility pocket on his vest. "Well, you and several of the scientists here may help by graciously accepting your new promotions. Congratulations gentlemen, by the authority of the Major General of Quds, and the Grand Ayatollah himself, you are now official servants to the Republic. You have my congratulations."

The two men began to protest, but the major stopped them.

"Gentlemen, I'll be brief. You're both under the strictest level of secrecy now. Your employers are being investigated, we need to ensure any potential leaks are plugged. And in case I haven't made myself clear yet, any breach of information about this site, and what has been found, will be punished as treason."

Both Kamran and Vahid stared in confusion at the solider before Kamran finally spoke up. "Major, all due respect, why is this of any interest to the military? And how did this even reach Quds?"

The Major was quiet for a moment as he watched the Obelisk behind them, feeling in himself that sense of unease shared with Kamran.

"We have eyes and ears in more places than you'd think. We also have very helpful friends around the world, including with our neighbors to the North. That's why we know about this thing; because the Soviets have had to deal with it before. Twice in fact. Once off their coast here in Qazvin, and the other time was somewhere remote in the Putorana Plateau. That's in Siberia."

Kamran looked to Vahid, more confused than ever now. "Siberia? I mean, surely then that's a coincidence, that's thousands of kilometers away, through snow and ice, it would require hunting to survive, and-"

"And before you say anything else, it was exactly like this. The bodies, the pillar shape, the strange language. Like the Soviets found out, looks like primitive Sumerian. Yes, it's impossible for this to be a coincidence, they all have the same origin, and it's as baffling why it's here as it is baffling it was in Siberia. And I don't know any details past that really, except that we need to contain this. No more staff inside that containment chamber. Get the rest of them out now.

"Do you at least know what this thing is? Or does? What did the Soviets do with it?" Vahid spoke up cautiously.

The Major shrugged. "No idea what it is or does, just that people should stay far away from it. As for how the Soviets dealt with it, well I believe they performed 'nuclear ordinance tests' upon it. Which is, unfortunately, not currently an available option for the Republic."

Kamran and Vahid cast weary glances to each other, but remained as stoic as they could currently manage. "Do you have any idea what this could be Major? Is it the work of a Jinn, or a devil perhaps?"

In response to this, the Major only smirked. "Some mysteries are beyond us men. But some things aren't a mystery. You, and the Republic, have the protection of Quds. If nothing else, you can depend upon that."

Farshad turned and left the two men, speaking to some of the other soldiers as they secured the area and began to establish the safety measures they needed for containment. Kamran and Vahid shared a brief look with each other, both looking equal parts scared, confused, and perhaps even disappointed. Vahid left to check on his fellow researchers, and Kamran was about to leave the facility, but looked back one more time at the Obelisk.

Strange...

He hadn't really taken any time to study the whole thing, but there was an arm pointing towards the ceiling of the containment room.

Hadn't it been pointing down before?

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Lord Saethos
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Re: Strange Tales From Hadean

Tips: 0.25 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Fri May 06, 2022 12:52 am

A stark white appeared before you, thin lines of wispy steam rising high into the air. The cheap, kiln fired clay plate was staked tall with golden pancakes, fluffy and inviting. Perhaps Peter had intentionally avoided protein for you, maybe thinking the last tale might bring up some disturbing mental imagery. Or perhaps he simply didn't care what you ate and ordered what first came to his mind.

He stared intently at you as he methodically went back and forth between fork loads of sausage or egg. Sometimes a little of both. There was a subtle upturn at the corner of his lips. "You ever like... Think about what it would be like to be alive while you're decaying? Would that hurt? Could it even hurt? And how long would that take you think? Brain would probably stop being able to function properly before you're even part way through, but assuming that wasn't an issue, and assuming somehow your nerves could still transmit anything to your brain..." He trailed off as his eyes sort of lulled off to the side, mind traveling elsewhere. Somewhere far off evidently.

Peter's gaze returned back to you quick, the little smirk at the corner of his lips still there. "You know, YOU remind me a little of someone. Have I told you that already? Anyways, I don't think I like you quite as much as her, but you do have a sort of quality she had. Like there's a certain... Life behind your eyes? Sure part of that is probably you lizard brain telling you to run for your life, but there's intelligence there too, thoughtfulness."

There was a wave of forked sausage through the air for dramatic effect. "Some people - I swear - It's like they're zombies! Just shuffling around in life, doing the exact same stuff as each other, making the same dull jokes, trying to obtain the same utterly banal life goals. Of course, they're not ACTUALLY zombies, believe you me, I know the difference. But I guess it just gives me a certain... Let's say 'mild euphoria' to meet other humans that aren't running on train tracks."

After a moment of reflecting upon your reaction, his face contorted in annoyance, a heavy sigh followed by a roll of his eyes. "It wasn't like THAT. You're very mistaken if you think it would be anything beyond platonic on my part. No, I see people like you a bit like cats and dogs, or curiosities. You're almost smart enough to see the world as it is, but ultimately it's mostly just tricks you've been taught." He cackled for a moment as he consumed more sausage and egg, but paused again mid-bite.

"But not her... You know, I think she actually DOES see the world as it is. Might be partly thanks to yours truly, but Neo still had to choose the Red Pill. If she had a tiny bit more ambition and stopped letting those morals get in the way..."

The look he cast in your direction brought on the uncomfortable feeling of being mentally dissected, picked apart to see how you tick. "I wonder how ambitious you are?" He grinned.

"Anyways, since we're on the topic, might as well tell you one story about Her."

_____________________________________________________________________________________________


April 9th, 2043 - Sarandë, Albania

A soft, warm breeze caressed the side streets of the sea side resort town, brushing small particles of sand along the paved streets, past lush-topped date palm trees. In a corner of the town, a little quieter these days, sat at the foot of Lëkurësi Castle, and the hill it sat on, was a 20 story hotel, built in the 1990's with a postmodernist exterior (featuring plenty of white stone and dark glass) and an interior with something more akin to a mix of postmodernist and art deco. Of course, few these days had seen the inside of this ornate building. Fewer would want to.

In front of the building's imposing doors stood two figures, one of which seemed out of place next to the structure. At only 5'5", slim framed, and 21 years old, Amira Turner seemed more like she should be a tourist in Sarandë, some college student on vacation. But college students on vacation tend to not dress in two-piece business suits. Hers was a soft tan color, jacket and pants, and were accompanied by a light blue dress shirt, orange tie, and brown leather oxfords.

Amira briefly adjusted her sunglasses before she ran a hand through curls of her twist out hair, trying to nurse, and not to draw attention to, the faint migraine that ebbed and flowed through her head. It wasn't a constant, consistent pain, but it liked to remind Amira of its presence every few minutes.

She took a quick look over to the other figure, Allen Carter, who also was clad in a bespoke tan suit (though he'd opted for a white shirt and black tie). There was also a sort of unspoken 'dress code' in effect. Why? Well it was either her employers, or her boss. Either way, she went along with it, happily in fact. It brought that Hollywood glamor to her job.

Amira grew up in Chicago, the only child of a middle class black family. Her mother and father, Adelle and James, had both served in the military, dad in the marines, mom in the air-force. That wasn't where they had met however. After they'd both served a respectable amount of time for their country, they made their ways back to Chicago and ended up attending the same law school together.

Despite the 'suburbanite careers' they'd taken on, Adelle and James continued to pursue passions brought on by their time in the military, and passed those on to Amira. Hunting trips, days at a shooting range, and getting her into martial arts classes, almost as though she were in a Spy Kids movie. And when Amira wasn't busy training to be one, she was heavily involved in sports, or excelling in academics.

Still, Adelle and James had expected after she graduated that she might go to school for business, or law, or maybe even join the army. They expected an 18 year old, who had the 'compassionate wisdom' typical of young people, to have chosen a path that was more in line with that.

But rather than joining a branch of the military, or doing literally anything else that would be considered a more 'compassionate' career (as it is assumed most young people do), Amira had chosen a career with SINS.

A loud yawn from behind her drew her attention to a figure who'd silently appeared, eyes covered by a pair of mirrored shades. Peter was also clad in a tan suit, opting for a white shirt and brown tie.

"Mr. Carter, Miss Turner, good morning to you both." He said with a grin, before giving a nod to the building in front of them.

"This the place?"

Amira nodded her head with a faint look of disdain toward the building. In general it might be a nice place to stay, if it weren't for the secretive corporation doing human experimentation with an alien parasite.

"Unfortunately. I'll be seeing this in my sleep for probably the rest of my life." She looked to Peter, and her expressions shifted into something a little more at ease. "And good morning to you too. Slept in pretty late huh? Allen's been with me most of the day, so which prince or princess was unfortunate enough to wake you?"

Peter smirked. "What if I told you it was America herself? And the soft, voluptuous lips of freedom?"

Allen now chuckled in response. "Might explain all those violent tendencies." He muttered to Amira, who grinned in response. "You're blaming a lot of America's problems on one guy, Mr. Carter."

"On the contrary, you probably aren't blaming enough of them on me." Peter responded, grin still on his face.

Amira quirked an eyebrow as she removed her sunglasses, placing them in a jacket pocket. "Do you think those boogeyman stories are still scary after watching you saunter up here an hour and a half late?"

Peter shrugged lackadaisically. "If that doesn't scare you, maybe reporting you to HR for harassing me about my romantic life will."

She rolled her eyes exaggeratedly. "Come on, it's all just locker room talk Peter! Besides, you hate me too much to let me get fired."

He nodded his head from side to side. "Excellent point. Which is precisely why I'm not about to let you die either."

The last part struck Amira again with the seriousness of the situation. Her expression faded into something closer to fear and regret. She was about to say something in response before Peter lightly nudged her with an elbow.

"Don't worry about it Agent. The only people that die around me are the ones I choose to die. Unfortunately, you're stuck on this mortal coil for as long as I will it."

Her face lightened up again as she cocked an eyebrow and allowed a slight grin to return. "Well, now I kinda just want the thing to kill me." She laughed.

"Then you chose the wrong spy to work with. Now... Down to business. Show me what you're working with today."

Amira nodded and reached into her jacket, producing a black Chiappa Rhino 20DS with a wooden grip, calibered for .40 S&W. She then rolled up a pant leg to show a small holster attached a few inches above her ankle, containing a Beretta 21A.

Despite being hidden behind shades, Amira could see his eyes squint while his face contorted. "Are you serious? A literal pea shooter? Is that for the baby squid or something?"

"It's better than being unarmed." She retorted. "Should I strap a Desert Eagle on instead? I'm sure that'll be VERY covert. Would you like to continue patronizing my equipment?"

Allen, who stood leaning against the building, snorted a little to himself. These two were weirdly 'silly' about their line of work, though he didn't exactly mind it, was a nice change of pace from the 'boys club' types, or equally as bad, the straight edge types. He shook a stray lock of blonde hair from his eye, noting as he glanced at the Beretta that it was, indeed, a very tiny gun.

"Show me what you've got Agent Carter." Peter called back to him.

Now came the sigh, as Allen reached into his own jacket and produced a Heckler and Koch USP.

Peter frowned. "That is such a boring choice Allen. Practical, sure, but so boring. You need to spice things up in your life."

The agent cleared his throat while his face reddened from the remarks he'd received. That was another thing; you never wanted to get on his bad side. Wasn't that it was necessarily easy to get there, but it WAS easy for Peter to find a way to punish you for it.

Peter stood by the imposing doors of the hotel, looking back at both Amira and Allen. "So that we're clear again, Agent Turner, please recap what we're about to deal with."

Amira took a deep breath, slipping a hand into a jacket pocket and pulling out her cellphone. She scrolled through files and pictures, presenting the screen to both Allen and Peter. "Right... So what I've gathered we're dealing with is some kind of a parasite, apparently an 'alien' one, as far as the Sunray eggheads have gathered. Obviously the company has been experimenting pretty heavily with this, and from the equipment, labs, and other stuff they've got on hand, I'm assuming there's other parties invested in this."

Sunray Industries was a medical and pharmaceutical company, not a precisely large one, from the outside, and most of their expertise seemed to be in the actual manufacturing of drugs and medical equipment. Because of this Amira was surprised by the extensive lab network the building had, which she showed to Peter and Allen from the pictures she'd captured.

"I'm guessing their illegal research is funding part of the operations at least, but how they got a set up like this? I'm guessing they had help. Judging by the age of the building though, and what the condition looks like in those labs, its possible this place predates Sunray's involvement."

"And the baby squid?" Peter inquired.

Amira felt a slight, uncomfortable shiver in her spine, and another throbbing wave in her skull. "Right, so as we've noted, they look like baby squid made out of raw muscle and sinew. They can be fairly small too, I guess like calamari, so you've gotta keep a sharp eye out for them. I'm not really sure how they work, but from what I understand they attach onto the nervous system once they can enter the body. From there, based on what I read, they ah... Attempt to establish control over the host. Ie, they try to take control of your brain, basically turn you into a vehicle for them to drive."

Peter raised a hand to pause her. "But the cure IS located on site, according to what you gathered?"

Amira nodded purposefully. "Yes, as far as I read, there is some kind of 'cure' here, I'm just not sure where. Maybe in the labs, or maybe in some executive area."

The senior agent couldn't hold back the ear to ear grin that grew on his face. "Oh don't worry Agent, we're finding it, curing you, and having a good time while we do it all." With that, he reached a hand into his jacket to pull out a Korth brand pistol, with polished wood-grain grips.

"Wait, where's your hand canon?" Amira asked confused.

Peter shrugged and waved a hand dismissively. "It's in the shop, being worked on. This will do just fine, nice and reliable, just like the hand canon, and my P210."

Allen quirked an eyebrow. "The Sig?"

Amira smirked. "Sounds like you've got a 'type', boss."

He shook his head briefly. "No, I just have taste. Something certain other agents are lacking." Peter chuckled, before approaching the door. He tried opening it, only to find it was locked.

"We're gonna have to find another way in, these locks are way too tough, and door's way to thick, gotta find a back-" Amira stopped mid-sentence as Peter rose a leg, and drove his foot directly into the door. The massive thud of the collision, followed by an uncomfortable crunch, showed the locks were beginning to stick through the wood, already bent and misshapen.

"Peter! They've got guards all around the building!"

"Oh... I'm well aware of that." Another collision with the door and the locks bent into a completely useless shape, sending the door swinging inside the hotel and slamming into the wall next to it. He stepped through the threshold, Amira and Allen close behind, before a pistol was raised next to his temple.

Before anyone could react, the guard's wrist had Peter's hand wrapped around it, pushing it to the side as two shots rang out uselessly into the wall.

The guard's face was frozen in a look of fear. Around the rest of the room, other armed guards stood, ready to fire, but holding back for fear of hitting their colleague.

"Peter Radovan, SINS. Nice to meet ya Jimbo. Got yourself into a bit of a pickle here hey?" He grinned. The guard didn't move, didn't struggle or fight back. How had this spy been so fast? So prepared?

"Turner, Carter, look at this poor guy! Looking like he met Charon! Oh don't worry pal, once you get to know me, I can be very... Disarming." Peter drove his fist upwards, directly into the guard's elbow. An uncomfortable crackling sound was immediately followed by shrieking and the clattering of a gun to the floor.

Agent Radovan turned his gaze to the other guards. "I hope you're all planning on putting up a good fight, cause not one of you is leaving here alive."

He pulled his phone out of his jacket, fiddling around with the screen for a second before holding the speaker up near his mouth. "Computer, play Hard to Handle by Otis Redding." The hotel's speakers crackled to life as the tune began to flood the lobby, courtesy of some weak cyber defenses on the part of Sunray.

Peter pulled the guards arm, turned his back to him, and through him over his shoulder in an Ippon-seoi-nage, before swiftly bringing his foot down on the man's throat. Gunfire began to swiftly erupt as Peter, Amira, and Allen opened fire on the guards, with the latter two taking cover, and the former showing seemingly no regard whatsoever for it.

Amira felt her body tingle with the sensation of adrenaline flooding through it, mind racing from the instinctive anxiety of watching her boss walk straight into active fire. She could trust herself not to get killed, she'd avoided it plenty of times. But she couldn't trust a someone who'd walk straight into gunfire to do that for himself. And that he was supposed to be the one in charge of this operation made it substantially worse.

Gunfire rang out as Peter returned fire, grabbing the firearm of one guard and swiftly turning it on the man, quickly firing off a round that sent him limp. Peter held to the body, using it as a makeshift shield before swinging the limp thing directly into another pair of guards. The stumble cost them as Peter opened fire on them as well. Three down.

Amira rose up from cover, spying a guard peering up over the front desk counter. A single shot rang out from her Chiappa, dropping him in an instant. Allen followed up with a volley of several shots, several landing in guards who'd taken cover behind marble pillars on the left side of the lobby, a few lodged in the stone itself. As he took that side, the Chiappa drifted into the direction of the right side of the room. Three more cracks, and three guards (who'd chosen a poor time to move from cover) dropped to the floor.

A cooling sensation washed over her as the room quickly died down, and a brief headcount assured her all three of them were still alive and well. She looked over the bodies of the guards for a brief moment, feeling a slight twinge of regret, but swirled in with a burning sensation of righteous indignation. They'd brought this on themselves, they knew what was going on and chose to support it.

"Turner, Carter, we're gonna need to split up to cover the building. We've probably got the attention of everyone in the building at this point, and I'm gonna try to keep that on me as much as possible. Allen, I want you to take the middle floors, from the lobby and up. Stay out of sight as much as possible. I'm gonna take the upper exec levels and try to keep them funneling up there. Amira, you take the basement, and like with Allen, stay out of sight. If they're not biting my bait, engage them as little as possible and radio me, we'll re-strategize."

Amira was nervous about going back into the basement, but she knew the layout better than Allen or Peter, and at any rate, more of the security down there would doubtlessly be sent up to take out the intruders. The two men headed towards the elevators, Allen turning around for a brief moment to give a nod to Amira, his own way of telling her to stay safe. She headed towards a fire exit door, behind which was a set of stairs that sank down several levels, towards the basement she was unfortunately destined for.

She took a deep breath, before rubbing the top of her lip, right under her nostril, having felt it suddenly become wet.

Blood.

.......................................................................................


A few minutes later, Amira had appeared in the basement, a much dingier looking area compared to the sumptuous elegance of the hotel above. The concrete was cracked and stained, possibly from mold that had been washed off, and any exposed metal that could be seen probably could give someone tetanus from simply looking at it.

So far, the area was quiet, no guards around, and Amira speculated they might have gone after Peter. After all this effort to save her life, she hoped he and Allen wouldn't lose theirs either. This didn't seem like the business to make friends in, but she couldn't help but like those two.

She made her way down dark corridors, occasionally hiding behind crates, or in alcoves where the dim lights couldn't reveal her to passing guards. Eventually, she made it to a larger room, the lab she'd been taken to originally. A hallway ran along the length of the entire thing, with glass windows lining the room to allow for observation inside. She'd need to be extra vigilant in case any guards came by. Fortunately, there were no 'scientists' inside, so she'd have a chance to properly look around.

Upon passing through a set of large double doors, she was reminded by how kenophobic the design might make one feel. It was more like a warehouse, or machine shop, with no walls separating anything, and several stainless steel operating tables dotted around the center of the room. Off to the sides were counters, storage cabinets, and other work spaces. The wall adjacent from the windowed side had various cold storage cases, and three heavy doors that were used (Amira assumed) for additional cold storage, and other storage spaces. An opening on that same wall led to a set of stairs that connected to upper floors, ones Amira hadn't yet been too. And finally, probably the most discomforting things about the room, the ugly yellowish light that dimly shone overhead everywhere, and the little metal drains that were placed on the floor in various spots. She could almost swear she saw red stains that led into the drains...

Amira explored the room for a few minutes, checking the cabinets, cold storage containers, even the rooms built into that adjacent wall. Nothing that seemed particularly useful from what she could tell, but she supposed they wouldn't necessarily label anything with 'cure' on it.

She opened the last door on the adjacent wall, only to be met with a room totally coated in darkness. It wasn't cold storage, in fact it almost felt like a warm breeze came through, as well as a nasty stench. Something rotting perhaps? Dead? Amira hadn't had time to curse herself, otherwise she might have. She felt the lingering pain in her head return, and as a result, failed to take note of the sign that had been on the door.

[QUARANTINE: DO NOT ENTER]

The little high pitched screech was what first shook her out of her pain induced moment of foggy brain, just in time to side step as a little fleshy bundle of tentacles launched past her head. One of the little parasites. On top of everything else, they were fast and agile, which made for a dangerous combination with their size. Before she could slam the door shut, another twenty or so escaped into the lab.

"You've gotta be kidding me..." She muttered. Another of the parasites flung itself at her, but was caught in her hand before she slammed it against the wall. Amira grimaced as she quickly wiped off the remains on the concrete, before dashing for the counters, something had to be done to kill these things. Pain seared in her head once more, as she began grabbing at various glass chemical bottles, briefly glancing over labels as she tossed them at the squid things. No guarantees they'd all do what she wanted, but they weren't filled with more diseases and little monsters, so at least she wasn't making the situation worse.

More of the parasites threw themselves towards her, forcing Amira to duck and dive to avoid them. A glint on a surgery table alerted her to another tool to fight back with. She grabbed a surgical knife, just in time to slash at another pouncing squid. She nailed it down to the steel table, knife effectively obliterating the thing, before scraping the remains off and turning to the other squid.

"Too bad they don't have any forks here hey guys? Might've made killing you all a little easier."

The dagger in her hand swept through the air a few more times as she fended off more leaps. Amira continued throwing every chemical she could find at them, coating the floor in glass and fluids. She felt the pain coming back into her head again, as her chest tightened and forced out a painful, nasty cough. Little speckles of blood fell to the floor.

This had to end quickly.

Amira brought her Chiappa back out, aimed at a wet spot on the floor, and fired. She'd gotten lucky as the sparks caused the fluids to ignite and start a small fire. More glass bottles were thrown haphazardly, fiery splashes catching more of the squid in engulfing flames. She fired off a few more shots, igniting other areas, and ripping apart some of her tiny foe. Even with the searing pain in her head, she was still a crack shot.

The floor was now littered in glass, flame, and a mix of crispy and gory flesh. Nothing seemed to move anymore, save for the flames. Amira made her way towards the stairs, leading to the next level, just as overhead sprinklers started up to douse the fires.

Just as she reached the stairs, Amira tumbled to the side slightly, catching the wall just in time to prevent herself from collapsing. The pain was even worse now, and the coughing had forced more blood up.

Where was the cure?

She felt a tug on her jacket, turning just in time to see a guard holding her. Her eyes widened before she felt herself lifted from the ground, and thrown across the room. Amira's body slammed into a stainless steel table before she fell to the ground. There was a strong urge to say something sardonic, but her chest was still tight and making it hard to breath, both from the parasite, and the hit she took on the table.

Her gun, she needed to grab it, but it had clattered across the ground when she got tossed. Before she could run over to get it, the guard had his hands wrapped around her neck, lifting her into the air as he marched towards the glass windows of the entry side of the room. He slammed her up against it, causing her to lose her breath again.

"You stupid little girl. You had the chance to leave, you should have taken it. But if you wanna die this badly, I'm happy to help."

Amira grabbed at his hand trying to pry his fingers from her neck, but to no avail. If she could just reach the leg pistol... But no, too far away now, should have thought of it before. She grit her teeth as she continued to try and fight back.

And the pain, the pain searing in her head, her neck, her chest... It was overwhelming.

She would die here, to some nobody, a guy who probably specialized in killing defenseless men and women they kidnapped for their sick experiments. He'd probably never even had a real fight in his life.

But... No.

This was not how Amira was going to go out. Her chest and abdomen swirled with a tingling, burning sensation, but not from the parasite. She was being filled with pure fear... And hate.

Her eyes stared into his like daggers, her mouth pulled back as her teeth bared.

"I'm... Going... To Live."

The guard burst into laughter as Amira clenched her right hand into a fist, pulling it back, and cold cocking him straight on the edge of his eye socket.

The sound of cracking could be heard as his grip was completely released, and he burst out into screams. Amira dropped to the floor, gasping for air, as her assailant fell backwards onto the floor, blood leaking from where his left eye had been.

He scrambled up and began to run for the door, but Amira gave chase. "Where do you think you're going!" She leapt into the air, her entire body connecting with his back, and sending him face first into the concrete floor. Amira grabbed onto the back of his head and began slamming his head down, three or four times, before he managed to push back, blood now leaking from his mouth, which was short several teeth.

Amira released her grip as another surge of pain filled her head, and the guard noticing the moment of weakness, took advantage and shoved her off of him. She laid on the floor, gripping onto her head, trying desperately to get the pain to go away. No, she needed to get it together! The guard was scrambling towards something on the ground, her Chiappa.

Noticing this, Amira feebly gripped at her right ankle, pulling up the pant leg.

The guard gripped onto the Chiappa, spun around and aimed, just in time to see Amira aiming her Beretta at him. The last thing he'd ever see.

As one shot cracked out, everything went dark in his right eye, pain searing as he screamed in even more pain. Three more shots cracked out, and the guard collapsed to the floor, the Chiappa falling from his head and clattering to the floor.

Amira's breathing was shallow and rapid as she tried to regain control over it. This had been way harder than it should have been, no thanks to the parasite, but that punch she'd given him... That was unusual. She hit him with MUCH more force than she was capable of.

Ahh, now it made sense. She couldn't help but let out a weak chuckle. They were another group of baddies in a long line up of baddies trying to make super soldiers. Brain-dead ones in this case it seemed, though based on who they hired, it seemed they'd already figured that part out.

She staggered back onto her feet, hobbling over towards her Chiappa, just as she heard someone coming down the stairs behind her. Amira turned just in time to see that Peter was there now. A weak grin made its way across her lips.

"Took your time getting here." She muttered, taking a step forward and swaying as another coughing fit erupted. More blood on the ground, and a searing pain cascading through her head, then over every single inch of her body. Amira cried out weakly, her body feeling like it was on fire, as she began to crumple.

Peter dashed over and caught her as she was falling. "Easy there Turner! Stay with me, alright?"

He gently knelt down with her, helping Amira into a seated position on the ground. The overhead sprinklers turned off, the fires now doused in the room.

Peter took Amira's chin in his hand and tilted her eyes up to his. "Amira, I told you to stay with me. We already talked about this, you need my permission to die, and unfortunately you don't have that still. Now, open your eyes for me, okay?"

She weakly blinked, just enough for him to see the bloodshot veins running across them.

Peter huffed as he pulled a syringe from his jacket. "Alright, we don't have any more time left. Gotta do this here and now." He pulled out a handkerchief and quickly wiped at the back of her neck, holding her hair up and out of the way. Peter took the safety cover of the syringe between his teeth and pulled it off, spitting it off to the side as he placed the needle against her neck.

The needle slipped in, and the liquid contained within flooded into her nervous system. Amira sat there quietly, the pain still lingering, keeping her incapable of anything beyond maintaining marginal consciousness.

She felt her wet suit jacket slip off her back, then her arms get pulled through the sleeves, before another set of sleeves made their way up her arms. Peter had replaced her jacket with his own, much dryer one. He noticed her Beretta on the ground, and the holes it had created in the guard lying dead. "Well whaddya know, guess that thing did come in handy." He chuckled.

Peter sat down next to Amira, and after a few quiet moments, began asking her questions. Nothing super complicated, in fact he had begun asking about her. Family life, school, aspirations, that sort of stuff. Amira struggled with answering for a while, but as the minutes passed, the pain subsided, and she felt herself having an easier time responding.

"Peter..." She muttered weakly. "What did you give me? What did that stuff do?"

Agent Radovan smiled and shrugged. "A whole bunch of complicated sciencey stuff, but to summarize... Well you know how you said this parasite would try to drive you like a vehicle? Consider the 'cure' a steroid or something, one that does what in wrestling you might call a 'reversal'. It doesn't fully kill the parasite, but instead of your brain being hollowed out, it hollows out the parasite's 'brain'."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning instead of the parasite controlling you, you control the parasite. In other words, congrats on becoming a hero."

Amira chuckled. "I was always a hero, so no changes there."

Peter rolled his eyes. "Yeah yeah, well now you're the kind with super powers apparently. So take the congrats and be happy with it."

Amira smiled and nodded. "Alright... Hey, Peter? Thank you. You saved my life, which is kinda crazy to say honestly. Thought you might have just left me for dead."

Peter shrugged. "Yeah, well you said it yourself, I hate you Turner. And my favors aren't free either. You're buying dinner for the team from now on."

"Fine, but we're not doing Greek anytime soon, got it? I'm gonna need a lot of time before I can see calamari again without being sick."

Peter chuckled slightly as he acquiesced. He reached into his jacket again, pulling out his lighter and a packet of cigarettes, placing one in his mouth. With another sticking out of the top of the packet, he held it out to Amira. "Want one?" He offered.

Amira smiled and shook her head. "Thanks, but I don't smoke."

Peter shrugged and shook his head, as though annoyed. He let the cigarette drop from his lips and placed it back in the packet, placing it, and the lighter, back into his jacket.

Strange... Amira wasn't totally certain, but she couldn't remember Peter ever doing that before. Normally he'd just light one up himself, even if people told him not to. She thought about pointing it out, but eventually decided against it. Instead she just sat there for a few more minutes, a weak smile on her face as she steadily regained her energy.

"Hey Peter, you haven't got a scratch on you it looks like. Again. How do you always manage that?"

Radovan looked at her and smirked. "You haven't heard? I've got the Luck of the Devil, Agent Turner."

Later on, her, Peter, and Allen would all leave the hotel together, making sure to 'sanitize' the entire place first so that no parasites would survive.

Mission accomplished.

....................................................................................................................


January 16th, 2045 - Washington DC

Claudia Burke pursed her lips as she took another look up and down of the prospective agent before her. The girl was incredibly talented, probably one of the best they'd had come to the FBI before, but there were still many lingering questions Claudia had.

"Miss Turner, I still don't know why you'd want to leave a job at SINS to come work for the FBI. Do they not pay you enough over there?" She chuckled, but it was inauthentic. Claudia was immensely suspicious, but not of Amira. She was suspicious of SINS, and had been for a while now.

"Like I said Mrs. Burke, I'd really rather not talk about that. It's stuff I'm not at liberty to talk about, and I'm not exactly comfortable talking about." Amira fidgeted with her hands slightly, before running one through the loose curls of her ponytail. Did she want this job? Absolutely. But was she ready to talk about everything that had gone down with SINS?

"Amira... Gordon Ford has been working on his cabinet picks. Nothing's been officially announced, but what I can tell you is that I've been told I'm being considered for the Attorney General position."

Amira turned her gaze back to Claudia Burke, doing some sizing up herself. "Really? I thought you were a Democrat though?"

Claudia chuckled, this time with some sincerity. "Ahh, officially I try to be more neutral Amira, but voting records aside, President Elect Ford says he's aiming for bipartisanship. 'A President for all Americans', if such a thing could ever exist. Nevertheless, I'm going to accept if he does offer it. I can do a lot of good in that role if he stays true to his word. But there's another reason I'm going to accept as well."

"And that is?"

"Your last boss: Douglas MacNamara. Apparently he's being considered for the job of Director of National Intelligence. If we're speaking honestly Amira, I do not trust that man in the slightest, and I'm betting you don't either. If he gets the position... Frankly, it's going to take some good men and women in power to keep him in check. And, as it turns out, if I do become the AG, I'm going to need some good men and women under me to help me achieve that. Which is why I'm asking you so much about your time with SINS."

Amira sat quietly again, unable to really come up with the words she thought would let her out of this situation, but also help her secure this job.

Claudia spoke up again. "You are exactly the kind of person we need in the Justice Department Amira. So, if there's anything, even the slightest bit, you can tell me about Doug, SINS, or even Agent Radovan, you'd be helping me a lot. And potentially America."

Again, there was a pause and moment of silence. Finally, Amira turned her eyes back to Claudia's. "Mrs. Burke... I'm willing to help, if you really are aiming to do something about MacNamara and SINS, but for the time being, there's just not much I can tell you about. If you really want anything though..."

Her eyes turned to the window behind Claudia. It was still bright out, snow falling, cool outside. Amira sighed.

"I used to consider Agent Radovan a friend, Mrs. Burke. A good friend. But like I said, he used to be. He's also why I left SINS. I learned first hand... Just how dark and evil human beings can be. And it was him who showed me that."

There was a long silence again, with neither Claudia or Amira speaking. They simply let that knowledge hang in the air for a while to be considered.

"Well Miss Turner, you've done more for me than a lot of people have. You've confirmed my fears." Claudia rose from her chair and extended her hand out to Amira.

"If this is a fight you want to take on, that you think you can handle, then welcome aboard, Agent Turner."

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Lord Saethos
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