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Ethan Williams

Do you still feel in charge?

0 · 178 views · located in The milky way galaxy

a character in “Psyhunters”, as played by Xunnamius

Description

Ethan Williams
"This is our time."

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6'0" with dark bronze skin, black hair (typically shaved), light facial hair. Muscular physique. Vibrant black eyes with gray rings, an odd mutation. Is usually spotted wearing a business suit or trenchcoat of some kind.




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Age: 30-something

Gender: Male

Skills: Strategist and tactician, ex-special forces—knows his way around a gun, psychic "Augmentor"

Equipment: A handgun or two with "aberrant-helium" phase rounds, technologically advanced aviators, a helium-retardant and bullet-proof technologically advanced body suit (thin, wears like skin)



Psychic Abilities

Ethan is recognized as an Augmentor, a genetically rare outcome that allows him to enhance and/or dampen the psychic abilities of those around him. Since he does not necessarily have any powers on his own, he (and his family) did not discover his psychic nature until much later in his life.

In short, as an Augmentor, Ethan can enhance the abilities of those that are within a certain proximity to him. The closer they are, the more compounded the effect will be. Moreover, coming into physical contact with another psychic boosts the augmentative effects of his ability many folds. He is also capable of dampening the abilities of others, though without physical contact, the dampening effect is palpable and distracting to other psychics in the area but ultimately negligible; this is akin to egregious amounts of static noise during a radio broadcast.

After coming into physical contact with another psychic, the effects of his augmentation—whether they be additive or subtractive—usually stick around for a while, depending on the mental tenacity of the psychic being augmented and on how much energy Ethan expended when augmenting said psychic's powers. The augmentative effects can linger for as short as a few seconds or as long as a few hours.

Generally, he can get a feel for what type of psychic abilities those around him possess, with each psychic type generating small reactionary sensations in him. This also allows him to note those around him who are powerless, or who were born without powers. He can also gain a sense of just how "powerful" a psychic's abilities are by the intensity of the sensation he feels when in their presence. These sensations of his, however, are not pinpoint accurate; still, he can gain such accuracy by coming into physical contact with the person whose powers he wants to analyze.



Personality

When you first meet him, you'd never for a second suspect Ethan of being anything more than a soft-spoken meditative man of peaceful intent and humble origins.

And you wouldn't be that far off. When not meditating or reading, Ethan and his people are often engaged in acts of peace and kindness within various parts of the world's few psychic neighborhoods—some of which are slums. He is known as mentor, advisor, father, symbol of hope, and even hero to many in the psychic community, which is why the PSEA has had such a hard time tracking his movements.

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Outside of these communities, however, he is known for his cruelty and carnage, often unleashing his team of psychics to hit political, social, military, and economic targets in an attempt to stir up fear, expand the organization, and gain levers of control within the various governing superstructures. He thinks of non-psychics as being in the same hierarchical position to psychics as a cat or dog is to a normal human being.

More than anything, he will not tolerate the mistreatment of psychic children, whom he deems "the future of the species".



Backstory

Ethan was the 4th born son and final child of a prestigious military family. He was, however, the only child of his family to be born with psychic abilities. His parents, devout "human purists" that believed alien technology and everything associated with it to be blasphemous, looked down on psychics and psychic ability in general.

As expected of him, he became a part of the planetary military superstructure at 18-years-old after achieving a respectable collegiate education at one of the world's foremost institutions. Due to the nature of his psychic ability, he did not discover that he had latent psychic abilities until mid-way into his climb up the ranks. It was at that point that he made his first psychic friend and eventual criminal co-conspirator, Laurel Reid.

After several successful military campaigns as director of the special operations command, he was one day dishonorably discharged along with several others due to their supposed "criminal radicalization". He became a rogue entity and disappeared shortly prior to his being officially discharged, taking over a dozen of SOCOM's most powerful and battle-hardened psychics with him, including then-Major Reid.

It is rumored that the source of his insubordination was a particular mission that had him giving the order to covertly assassinate several prominent psychic activists and their families on unfounded charges of "out of control abilities" and "criminal intent". He was summarily court martialed after speaking out against the assassination order, the mission, and the military to the press.

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At first blush, one would not assume Ethan to be a murderous radical terrorist or psychic criminal mastermind. In fact, after leaving the military, he lived his next few years as a man of peaceful intent, determined to protest for the rights and recognition of psychics everywhere. It wasn't until he witnessed first-hand the unyielding bigotry and bold faced persecution of the world's psychic minority by those that were born without—his own family being a major political force of anti-psychic sentiment—that he and his group developed their "terrorist" persona.

So begins...

Ethan Williams's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seth Aviur Character Portrait: Ethan Williams
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#, as written by Belynta
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Artemis colony 48 hours earlier

Carmen Hernandez stood opposite Artemis colony's main police station and calmly watched the various officers coming and going. It was midday and Artemis's two stars Argent and Argento hung heavily in the sky, Argent dwarfed by his far larger sibling Argento. At this time of day, before Argent began to set, the light was an odd orangish hue and slightly hazy from the heat coming from the two stars. Many chose to take a siesta at this time of the day the heat being too much for them but Carmen knew the police could not afford to do so and would therefore continue business as usual. She leaned against a communications point and observed those entering waiting for a particular officer who did not know it yet but would be responsible for a great many deaths this day.
They had been planning this for a while and she and Ethan had finally decided the time to act was now, they did not want any further delays.

Finally the man she sought pulled up in his squad vehicle and climbed out heading for the main entrance. An older man in his forties with greying hair and beer belly he was not what most would consider attractive, But when Carmen had met him the evening before she had acted as though he was a heart throb. It had not taken much before he was panting all over her and had taken her home and proceeded to have his way with her. To him it had been an explosive, incredible experience but to Carmen it had simply been a means to an end. She needed a way into the police station and he could now provide it. She wasn't particularly worried about her record or being recognised as none would survive the next hour anyway.

She checked her hair and makeup in her compact mirror before sauntering across the road adopting her most alluring walk. She summoned a bright, sultry smile and it was not long before he noticed her. He grinned at her openly leering at the copious amount of cleavage her low cut top displayed. Carmen kept her smile in place but inwardly she was rolling her eyes in boredom, this was just too easy.

"Maria." He said before kissing her wetly on the mouth when she reached him.

She allowed him to kiss her before pulling away with a coy smile. "I missed you and just had to see you."

"I missed you too." He said and she knew he meant he missed her body but that was fine with her. In fact it made her task that much easier.

"Can I come in and see where you work?"

He pulled away and frowned. "I can't, I'd get in trouble."

Carmen leaned in and whispered in his ear. "I'll make it worth your while."

His breathing sped up and his eyes gleamed with lust, it took only a few moments indecision for him to choose lust over possible consequences. He took her hand and led her around the back of the building to a side exit clearly not often used. She followed him through the building to his small cramped office that stank of must and body odour. He wasted no time in pushing her onto the table and ripping her top down and having his way. Carmen let him play with and abuse her body for his pleasure, her mind elsewhere thinking of other tasks she had yet to do. Thankfully in a relatively short time he was done and was panting beside her crouched on the floor beside the table.

She sat up and calmly pulled her clothing back on and ensuring she did not look in any way in dissarray, she then knelt beside him and turned his face towards her. She smiled then and it was not the sultry smile he was used to but a cold, ruthless one he had never seen. He frowned his mind still somewhat confused from the lovemaking, taking advantage of this she leaned closer and spoke softly but firmly her voice taking on a strange hypnotic quality. He listened as though in a trance and stayed that way as she patted him on the head and walked out of the building with none the wiser. It was while she was walking down the street that the explosion she had brought with her was detonated by the bewitched officer. The blast was powerful enough to destroy the police station and several adjacent buildings. Carmen smiled, a genuine smile of pleasure as she heard the screams of terror around her. She commanded her comms to dial an encrypted no and waited for it to answer.

"Its done." She said to Williams who sat on the other end. "That should get their attention."

She hung up and muttered. "your move."


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Nate was quite soundly asleep and enjoying a very nice dream involving two flight attendants he had met a short while ago and shared a enjoyable night with. He had not had the opportunity to see them since but his mind more than made up for that in creating some very nice dreams. The persistent beeping beside his head eventually dragged him reluctantly from the dream and into wakefulness. He sat up with a sigh and checked the time. Too early he had decided just as the comm he wore in his ear chimed with the summons from PSEA. He sat up sharply and promptly hit his head on the ceiling, his bed being one that was closer to the ceiling.

"Aw crap." He muttered rubbing his aching head before forcing himself to clamber down from the bed and into the shower. He knew he would end up being late but would rather that than arrive smelling of stale sweat. Fifteen minutes later he was showered and dressed and heading to the PSEA building. He nodded and smiled to his fellow officers as he passed through reception and the multiple security checks. Taking the opportunity to charm the female guards on duty that morning.

As he reached the room where the meeting was to be held he saw a woman just entering and was glad he was not that late. He entered and nodded sharply to the woman who had now turned to face the table. He recognised her from various vids of her, usually tales of her exploits as she was somewhat of a legend amongst the PSEA. He chose a seat next to the other woman already sitting and smiled at her with his usual charm very much in evidence.

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Faith continued to stare out of the window as she waited for her unit to arrive, she was somewhat anxious about meeting her new team especially as it wasn't even complete. But she ensured none of this showed on her face or in her movements as she continued smoking. She knew when Mal entered the room, his surface thoughts were exactly what she expected from him and as usual he voiced what he was thinking. A trait she found refreshing and made him someone she actually enjoyed being around, she spent too much time hearing two different voices from most people. The voice they spoke with and the one they thought with. It was exhausting and it was nice to meet someone who at least most of the time did not do that.

As he spoke she turned to eye him, she knew he was most likely picking up her turbulent emotions but she also knew he would not mention them having more respect for her than to do so. she agreed with him about being given the back berth as he called it and about the potential for violence. He knew her history and knew things were apt to end up becoming violent at some point. It was the nature of her job and she made no apologies for it. She observed Mal closely and on some level deep down recognised that he was an attractive man and that she was attracted to him but it was buried under layers of control unlikely to see the light of day without a sizeable push in that direction.

"I'll be relying on you to help me bring the rookies up to speed damn fast. We can't afford dead weight on this mission." She said finally.

Before he could respond the two other permanent members of her new unit arrived, the medic and the sniper respectively. The medic a woman by the name of sescia looked at Mal and nodded clearly believing he was in charge. Faith frowned slightly and knew she would have to set that straight asap to avoid unnecessary confusion at a later date. Faith did not see it as encouraging that the medic had not read up on her assignment enough to know who her commanding officer was. Hopefully Faith would be proven wrong. The sniper a one Nathanial Winters sauntered in as if he had no care in the world and immediately set to attempting to charm the medic. This didn't bother Faith as long as it didn't interfere with their mission.

She paused finishing her cigarette before motioning Mal to take a seat, once he had she walked to the head of the table and nodded to Shaw indicating that she had all she needed. She was up to speed and was ready to brief her unit, she would have liked the temporary members to be present as well but Shaw had informed they were on their way but had not yet arrived. Well they would have to hit the ground running.

"Morning ladies and gentleman." She began brusquely. "I am Faith Mackenzie your commanding officer. Be sure you remember that. Malcolm Reynolds is my second in command and you will follow his orders as if they were mine when I am not present. You may address me as Mack, Captain or Ma'am. In time we may work well enough to be on a first name basis but we're not there yet.
You have been assigned to my unit, newly formed to hunt down this man and his organisation."

She pressed a button on the table and a picture of Ethan Williams appeared in the middle of the table as a 3d holographic image. You each have been sent a dossier on Williams and I expect you to read it. Don't be fooled by his appearance or passive behaviour, the man is a dangerous criminal and terrorist responsible for several recent atrocities. These are his known associates."

A second holographic image appeared of a dark skinned woman. "Carmen Hernandez his second in command and equally as dabgerous, she is a true femme fatale and not to be trifled with." Seth Aviur's face was the next one she pulled up and she scowled as she did so. She remembered him from a previous mission.

"and this charming man is Seth Aviur, he's as psychotic as they come. His history reads like that of several horror stories combined. This group are behind the recent attack on the police station on Artemis colony, I'm assuming you all heard about that? 48 hours ago it was blown sky high and the death toll was in the thousands. Carmen Hernandez was seen on vid footage entering and leaving the building. As such the PSEA have stepped up their search for this group and have tasked us with finding and apprehending them. This is our top priority ladies and gentleman and we will get it done.

We will be leaving for Artemis colony at 06:00 sharp tomorrow morning to begin our investigation. Any questions?

Characters Present

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