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Psyhunters

The milky way galaxy

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a part of Psyhunters, by Belynta.

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Belynta holds sovereignty over The milky way galaxy, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Setting

Default Location for Psyhunters
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Minimap

The milky way galaxy is a part of Psyhunters.

8 Characters Here

Faith Mackenzie [4] Leader of the unit
Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds [3] "See how I'm not punching anybody? I think I've grown. That's progress."
Carmen Hernandez [2] Right hand woman to Ethan Williams
Natalia Cosca [2] Putting the "psy" in the limits of medical science.
Ethan Williams [2] Do you still feel in charge?
Seth Aviur [2] Burn.
Nathanial Winter [1] Sniper
Dominic Hendrick [0] "They say age is nothing but a number, so how old is dust?"

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Faith Mackenzie
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#, as written by Belynta
PSEA Headquarters, London Earth, 0800 Earth hours

Faith Mackenzie, Psychic and PSEA member, stood in front of the offices windows staring out at the view below. The windows spanned one wall of the office and provided an excellent view of the office. From the window she could see the Thames and the sprawling metropolis that spread on both sides of its banks. London was vast and towering skyscrapers filled the horizon for as far as the eye could see. The city was lit up to such an extent that even in darkness you could still see your way around, thanks to the screens on the sides of buildings that constantly advertised various companies and products. It truly was a city that never slept with its streets crowded even this early in the day.

The door hissed open behind her and Faith turned as the one she had been waiting to see entered. Commander David Shaw. A man in his late forties strode towards her and clasped her hand in a firm handshake. Dressed in standard PSEA uniform, similar to the ordinary military excepting its black colour and the PSEA insignia on the shoulder, he looked as no nonsense as Faith herself did. He had the short cropped hair that was popular amongst soldiers and a fair few scars on his lined skin. His eyes were cool and assessing and like most with his training always alert for any threat. This was a soldier without question, one who would never be comfortable with the desk job he had ended up with.

"Mackenzie, glad you made it. How was your trip?" He asked though Faith knew he asked for politeness and he really just wanted to get down to business. Which was fine with her.

"No trouble."Faith replied. "You here to brief me on the situation?"

"Yes. But first I need to ask. Are you sure about this? Taking on another team so soon after what happened. If you're not ready then it won't be an issue."

"I wouldn't have come if I wasn't."Faith said firmly. "I'm fine and frankly getting tired of being asked."

"Fair enough." Shaw nodded brusquely satisfied with her answer, for him that was the subject closed which Faith was immensely grateful for. Since getting out of the hospital she had been barraged with psychological evaluations, enforced counselling sessions and generally annoying sympathy. It had gotten to the point where she had been ready to shoot anyone who even spoke to her, that and the constant inactivity. Used to being in motion, to being active, the forced inactivity had almost driven her mad. So when she had heard of the new unit being created she immediately requested leadership of the team.

Shaw indicated the polished long table in the centre of the room and she took a seat with Shaw sitting next to her. He began pulling up files and video images on the large display on the wall opposite. Faith nodded as she saw the team members recruited so far but frowned when she realised the team was not complete. Seeing her look Shaw pointed at the empty positions.
"We haven't found anyone to permanently fill the slots but we'll make sure you have the personnel to fill them in the meantime. I know its not ideal and normally we'd give you and your unit shakedown time. But we need to move on this now, if we wait too long we'll our chance."

"Understood."Faith said though inwardly she didn't like it one bit, she was going to be working with people she didn't know and would have no time to test their capabilities before hitting the fire. She was being thrown in the deep end with a group of strangers, wasn't that going to be fun. But at least she would know one other member, Mal Reynolds, a somewhat unwilling member of the team but a good operative all the same. Against her better judgement Faith had found herself liking his easy charm and almost cavalier attitude, it made a refreshing change. That and she knew from the previous mission they had worked on that he could be relied on to have your back.

"I'll send for the others." Shaw said. "Here's the details on the mission, I'll brief you fully when they have arrived."

Faith stood and went to the window again, she held the electronic pad in one hand and lit a cigarette with the other, Shaw frowned at this but said nothing. He knew Faith too well to argue about it and the office did have excellent ventilation.

As she read the file and smoked Faith heard the comms unit sending its message to those she would be working with.

Report to Commander Shaw, PSEA Headquarters immediately would be received by the personal comms of the others in her team. All she could now was wait until they got here.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds Character Portrait: Faith Mackenzie
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Holing up in a place like London might seem like a peaceful respite from tumbling through the endless black on a derelict 03-K64 Firefly-class transport to most anyone else, something some pastoral-dwelling scholar might have even written municipal poetry about--the pleasures of city life after so long adrift in space, a metropolitan scene right out of some over-priced painting...but then, Malcolm Reynolds never really did have much taste for art. His skin itched and crawled in anticipation as he sauntered through the building, he could hardly wait to get off of this rock and back into the sky. The black called to him like a siren with her song. Men like Malcolm Reynolds needed freedom and seeing as he was bound by law to be at the governments beck and call, that meant the only 'respite' he was going to find was out from under big brother's ever watchful eye in the howling abyss of the universe, hunting down psychic criminals.

As he approached the wing of the building he needed access to, he knocked shoulders with a black clad PSEA member trolling the halls. People in these parts didn't take too kindly to his being there, they red flagged him for trouble the moment he arrived and they were hardly wrong to. The circumstances under which he had been brought to service for the PSEA were sketchy at best and everyone knew it. Mal was a criminal(Formerly) and worse, a bit of jackass. Next to him, the government official spewed a long string of Chinese words, illustrating just what he thought of one Mr. Malcolm Reynolds. Mal only half-listened to it as he traipsed off down the hall, but he was sure somebody’s uncle got mentioned in a very non flattering and too close for comfort relation to a syphilitic donkey.

He turned down the hall and came to a stop in front of a closed office door before it slid open automatically and audibly. A clove scented curl of smoke rose up from a lit cigarette in between a dark haired woman's fingers who had her black clad back to him, it unfolding in the air but not permeating the entirety of the room. The air ducts were too top-notch for that sort of thing, which was lucky for the woman as smoking was expressly forbidden in the building, supposedly. But then again, Faith wasn't the sort of woman you told no to.

Image"Looks like we got us some imminent violence, a real recipe for unpleasantness here, Faith." He said in a way of greeting, meaning to startle her but knowing he never would. The door had given him up. A wry twist shaped his mouth as he stepped in from the empty threshold. "And that's just based 'round the fact they got me workin' for you, Yao Nu. Least they could do was not saddle us with the back-berth." Mal teased in reference to their motley crew, laughter coloring his warm southern accent. He had received the memo about the change in staff and he was none too happy about it. He wanted to ask her how she was holding up after...well everything, but he knew better. They weren't overly acquainted, she and him, but that much he could be sure of. Faith was not to be coddled. "Am I the first one here, Gorram! Off to a mighty fine start already, I see."

Mal watched her closely for a moment with a long, measuring look that indicated he was not as stupid as he made out to be and which saw more than he was sure she wished he did. What few people knew, Faith included, was that Mal Reynolds was in fact a psychically gifted person as well. It was something he worked at constantly to keep secret because of the nature of his gift.

He was empathic. He could feel what other's felt, he could not be deceived in matters of emotion or the heart. It was overwhelming at times, being so choked with the feelings of others, and it was also dangerous. Turns out, most folks didn't like the inner sanctum of the emotional state being pried into. It set them off kilter to immediately be so vulnerable. That, and as a hard-boiled leader, Mal could not be seen as the emotional type so when you cut it down to brass tax, he had to feign at being just a regular old mundane person with no powers of any kind. Most of the time, that meant playing dumb.

He could taste the thick emotion that was inlaid into the room around her now, but she'd never own to it. He could hardly blame her for that.







  • Back-berth - Stupid, naive, inexperienced, unimportant or "slow". Derived from the nautical term for a ship's position in a harbor. As a naval metaphor, the "back berth" would be the last ship out of port, i.e. one trailing at the rear of a fleet, therefore meaning slowest and/or of least importance.
  • Gorram - A version of "God damn."
  • Yao Nu - 妖女 - Demon woman

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds Character Portrait: Natalia Cosca Character Portrait: Faith Mackenzie
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Natalia Sescia Cosca wanted to kill someone that day just short of literally.

She'd been reassigned suddenly and without warning to the crew of Malcolm Reynolds, a man she 'd never met but knew by reputation and of course by his famous abilities. Apparently she was being called in to assist with a mission of top importance. No doubt some terrible example of human depravity and atrocity that they were being ordered to reign in. While it was part of Sescia's job to go where she was designated, lately she'd been bounced around more than she preferred. Generally because alot of the "Psy" clinics were prone to accidental disasters usually at the hands of patients who were sick or injured and who had a harder time controlling their abilities when in a compromised state. Most of Sescia's job when stationary and on the ground dealt with managerial responsibilities, triage, and reorganizing whenever someone accidentally or purposely set fire to a ward, mind manipulated the nurses to do any number of compromising things, or just acting like entitled assholes because they could do a few mental tricks.

Post of the people she dealt with on the ground weren't criminally dangerous they were just really sick or sick and utterly infuriating. In fact Sescia spent a large part of her mental down time on duty imagining stabbing both her more inept staff members and a few patients in the necks with syringes or crying to herself when they occasionally lost a patient she couldn't help. Then again she also tended to cry when she sent one home alive as well.

Ultimately she was a very emotional and reactive person. More so than most people could handle but she was also deeply compassionate and good at her job if a bit of a loose canon at times.

Sescia knew she'd have to tone herself down for Malcolm. she didn't envy him the strength or nature of his abilities. then again having an empath around would potentially be a nice change. Seccia's own abilities were in a similar vein to Mal's but they were based in biology and not in the inner workings of the emotional mind. There was only so much knowledge she could gain from the biological reactions of her subjects but in a way the body's biological reactions were more accurate then the subject's emotional state at times. Biology was instantaneous, emotional reactions, thought patterns, and impulses took time and they could lie. The body could lie too but not as subtly or as completely.

Just as Sescia was preparing to leave for her briefing with the rest of her fellow crew which she felt she was already late to, an elongated crashing and smashing sound in the ward closest to her. Secia instantly spun on her heels only to come face to face with one of her nurses who looked to be in a state of panic.

"What." Sescia demanded.

"I'm sorry doctor, but it's Mr. Rodrigo again." The nurse looked apologetic but insistent that Sescia handle the situation before she left for the day.

Sescia rolled her eyes and muttered a few foreign obscenities under her breath. Crispan Rodrigo was a telekinetic of median ability with a annoyingly high sense of entitlement. He'd been admitted to the ward to have his appendix out and had turned into a raging adult child when her staff had tried to explain to him that while in the hospital he wasn't allowed to eat his normal diet. The first time he'd thrown a tantrum he'd used his powers to throw a bedpan at an orderly's head which had badly concussed the man. After that Sescia had personally informed her patient that if he hurt, maimed, or made any more of her staff cry during his stay with them she would personally make him regret his lack of humanity and cooperation by shooting him. In Crispan's case he preferred to channel his telekinetic abilities through his hands since he usually couldn't focus enough to just throw things about without a grounding physical gesture.

And since his hands were apparently causing the most trouble Sescia knew exactly how to handle him. Dropping everything except her phase pistol, Sescia turned on her heels and made a direct line for Mr. Rodrigo's room. Leaving the nurse who had summoned her with an expression of anxiety on her face that said she wasn't entirely sure it had been wise to alert the doctor to the problem.

A few seconds later the sound of two phase shots were heard as the room suddenly went quiet. A few seconds later all that could be heard was Mr. Rodrigo. "Jesus Christ, you bitch! I can't believe you just shot me! What the hell kind of place is this!"

"This place is mine, Mr Rodrigo. Make any more fuss and I'll have you sedated. The burn unit should be here shortly to attend to your hands. There shouldn't be any permanent damage. If you'd like to file a complaint you can speak to my supervisor. Do have a nice rest of your stay."

At that Sescia walked out of the patient's room, suddenly stoic and even. Picked up her thing once more and left without another word to anyone. She was not a woman to be trifled with.

A while later, Sescia approached the crew's meeting point. She was late and she knew it and took a moment to adjust her nervous system so that she would read as smoothly as possible. Male would be able to detect her emotional states regardless, but Sescia felt she could at least try to sensor herself a little bit so that she didn't overly chaff him. while Sescia was naturally emotional her abilities allowed her to calm her own chemical reaction to the point of creating a kind of meditative state that was responsive but more or less blank. It was as much of a tool to help her focus and get mental relief as it was for the benifit of any sensitives around her.

Sescia came to the door of their meeting place and knocked once before she entered and nodded to the other to people already present.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seth Aviur Character Portrait: Ethan Williams
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#, as written by Belynta
Image


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."


Image


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds Character Portrait: Natalia Cosca Character Portrait: Faith Mackenzie Character Portrait: Nathanial Winter
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Image

"Morning ladies and gentleman." Mal glanced around at the occupants of the table and scoffed, neither of those labels could be applied to any in their freshly assembled crew. "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 organization. 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 behavior, the man is a dangerous criminal and terrorist responsible for several recent atrocities. These are his known associates. Carmen Hernandez his second in command and equally as dangerous, she is a true femme fatale and not to be trifled with. 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?"

ImageMalcolm sympathetically took a deep breath on Mackenzie's behalf, feeling like his lungs were burning just from listening to that lengthy spiel. She was thorough, he'd give her that, but it was hardly up to his standards of debriefing. It was more relaying dire information with professionalism and somewhat less petty theft and getting hit with pool cues. Six AM was a mite early for his tastes and there was not currently a drink in sight, where was the fun in this? "Ni Ta Ma De. Tianxia suoyou de ren. Dou Gaisi." He cursed, stretching his legs and resting them crossed on the table top, fingers interlocked behind his head. "They must possess a whole lot of trust in us...that, or they're out of any other options." Mal drawled. He failed to mention door number three which was that their employer's could very well want them all dead, and this would be the most effective method if the PSEA didn't want any blood on their hands. Malcolm tried to dismiss the thought as soon as it came, but he just couldn't. He was suspicious by nature and he hadn't exactly volunteered for this gig. These people they were hunting were the cream of the crop, the baddest sort. Now he had gone toe to toe with those who would rape their enemies to death, eat their flesh, and sew their skins into their clothing, and if they were very, very lucky, they’d do it in that order. But even those guys did not give him as much cause for concern as this group did.

"Well if we're all to be working together, I suppose, though Captain Mackenzie gave me adequate introducin', that I ought to do so for myself. I'm Malcolm Reynolds as the lady said, you can just call me Mal. No sir's required unlessen you're into that sorta thing." He allowed his eyes to lazily trail over each individual at the table. "And if I can add somethin' here...some of you have got extra 'gifts', but maybe some, like me, don't. I don't want any funny business, no using your abilities on your fellow crew members, that clear?" Mal looked to Faith for approval. He may lord over the rest of the crew but he still had to answer to her, a girl who probably saw the chain of command as a literal chain she could go get and beat him with until he understood who was in command there...but given that she was as pretty as she was, he idly thought he might not mind if she was the one doing the beating. "Ain't right. Save it for the criminals."






  • Ni Ta Ma De. Tianxia suoyou de ren. Dou Gaisi. - Fuck everyone. In the universe. To death.

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.