Author: Comp Ninja PM
Culper Ring Agent Alice "Ace" McCoy must seek out the greatest heroes in all of existence. Together, this eclectic band of misfits must pull together and confront the terror of Tiwaz, a Germanic war god raised from the Beyond by the Thule Society during the Second World War. The cost of failure? The wholesale extinction of the human race at the hands of an apocalyptic abomination.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Fantasy - Chapters: 15 - Words: 86,105 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 10-31-12 - Published: 10-01-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3062277
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"We create monster and then we can't control them." - Joel Coen
Monster In Chains
Timothy Roland remembered screaming as "Tachyon" grabbed his neck. Tim heard something snap before he blacked out. Tim screamed his way back into full consciousness as he shot up straight. "What the Hell." Why was he in a bed? Tim's breathing grew erratic as he tried to piece together just what had happened to him.
"What's going on?" A frenzied flurry of activity rose up from around his bed. One nurse, female, was checking each of his eyes with a flashlight to see for pupil dilation. Another nurse, male, placed a thermometer in his mouth while checking all of his teeth for some reason. He couldn't make heads or tails of their coming and going.
Then, Tim Roland saw them. The wires. An endless rainbow of red ones, blue ones, green ones, yellow ones and purple ones, all of them streaming in and out of his body. He looked more than a gutted computer mainframe than a hospital patient. These weren't the typical doctor's fare. These guys were on a completely different level than a normal hospital. Timothy knew he was still on the island.
The attending medics, two of them, were asking him dozens of questions at once, one on top of another. "Do you remember your name?" "Do you require any pain medications?" "Are you experiencing altered neurological discrepancies at the moment?"
Timothy did feel his head spinning but that was probably just from the confusion, rather than the knocking his noggin had taken. Tim shooed them away as a familiar face entered the room. "Diana, what's happening?" No answer. She just hugged him and held onto him like he was going to fly out the window. "How long was I out?"
Diana let go of him for a moment. "It's April 1." Tim laughed. Tim assumed she was kidding. Diana shook her head helplessly. Tim's brain bulged as a super-big migraine ripped through it like a twister.
Tim had been in a coma for over two weeks. "I'll take those pain medications now," Tim said to the medic on the left. Tim didn't know if even their drugs would work on his unique physiology but he needed to try. Tim felt vomit crawling up his throat. Tim kept it down.
Tachyon had kicked his ass without even trying. If he hadn't been wearing the triple-weave kevlar costume and a reinforced gas mask helmet at the time, even Tim with his tough hide couldn't have survived that brutal beatdown. Tim sighed. "I need a minute alone."
Tim didn't mean that to sound so emo but he needed to collect his thoughts. While he had faced lots of threats in his day, none of them came as close to killing as Tachyon had. Having to face the real possibility of his own violent death sobered him up.
Why am I still going this? Robert Benton, God rest his soul, had proven the futility of fighting back. Tim needed to get lucky every day of his life. The bad guys just needed to get lucky once and, poof! One more dead hero bled out from his battle wounds.
Alice McCoy packed her Luger pistol with her belongings. It felt strange packing a gun in response to Koichi Araki. Diana Adams had emptied enough ordnance into the android to turn a four-ton automobile into junkyard-quality scrap metal. It didn't even slow him down. Still, it was better than nothing or, at least, better than despair.
Everyone on Okami Island breathed a collective sigh of relief when Timothy Roland woke up yesterday. That was the victory the team's morale needed. Living proof that Professor Kenji Araki's pissed-off machine spawn hadn't taken everything away from them.
Poor Kitsune. A fox spirit with her kind of power so early in life could have lived to be a thousand years old. Instead, Koichi Araki ripped her limb from limb for trying to stab him with a magic katana.
The Okami Island weapons specialist tried to salvage the occult properties of Kitsune's katana to no avail. Without a surviving member of her bloodline to carry on her sacred mission, the katana had no purpose in existing anymore and swiftly eroded into nothing.
The post-mortem procedures for Kitsune were normal for a fallen agent of her status. Since she hadn't been contaminated or possessed, her body didn't need to cremated. The corpse would be held indefinitively in the bio-tech labs, harvested for fresh samples.
The grief from any agent's passing was always blunted by one grim fact. Every last of them had signed up for this. Everyone knew the risk of their work. They could end up in dire straits. At times, there wasn't a way out. At times, death was the only exit for them.
Alice saw a lot of her own future death in Kitsune's death. If her death allowed uncontaminated tissue to survive, it would surely end up in a bio-tech with experts in every field working around the clock to crack the mystery of Alice's unusually elongated lifespan.
Star had delayed the transfer of Prisoner D by two weeks. This was a traditional power play. Give them what they want but on difficult terms. See if they give in and fight back. Ironically, Tim's near death gave Alice a handy excuse not to leave the base when new intel pointed their search in the direction of Ricca. An island nation in the South Pacific, the Queen Marie was known to frequent its ports.
Prisoner D might have been to hold Tachyon at bay but, at those power levels, he'd have been the next thing they had to deal with. Prisoner D was still weakened from his trip. Starved of blood and smarting from several hours of being irradiated with artificial sunlight, he could have gone a full round with a fruit fly in his sorry condition.
Alice wanted to tell them about D. Everything she had done in the last few months was informed by intel from him. D named Jay Wheeler as the chief architect in the theft of several occult artifacts housed in his summer home in Prague. Jay Wheeler's name had led to Anthony Trent which lead to Jethro Dumont AKA the Green Lama.
Green Lama helped the security team with new defensive measures. His philosophy was elegant in its simplicity. Less steel and more eyes. Okami Island needed to see any and all threats coming from half a world away. That would give them time to mobilize the many occult assets available to the research facility staff. Genius.
The whole thing should have been moot if Koichi Araki had returned any time in the last two weeks. Hikaru Strange must have messed him up a lot worse than he gave himself credit for. Damage severe enough to require weeks of repairs meant structural failure.
Alice wished that she could tell Hikaru the truth. Not just that she still loved him but why had never returned to Japan in those eleven years away. It wasn't because of 9/11 and wasn't even because of the Tachyon situation. Alice was afraid to be near the only other man she had loved since her dear William Reagan died.
Billy had been her shining white knight. He acted like every Harlequin romance ever written. He was masculine and powerful like an alpha male yet sensitive and caring like a beta male. Billy was everything she could ask but her "dying" changed all that. She really was the only thing that kept the sky from crashing down on his head.
In all her years, she never thought she would meet anyone who could live up to her memory of her Billy. Then, come along a twenty-five-year-old cancer patient who acted like every day was a trip to the circus. He was quick with a smile and a joke. He never lost faith that he'd beat his inoperable brain tumor despite his dismal odds. There wasn't a cloud in the sky that could rain on his parade.
Hikaru had changed in those eleven years. Beating his old adversary had came at a terrible price to his self-esteem. Alice wanted nothing more than to hold him and tell him everything was going to be alright. Just as he had done for her twelve years ago.
Diana Adams entered the room where the Okami Island medics had cared from Timothy Roland during his flirtation with the afterlife. "How's it going, Slugger?" Tim raised an eyebrow. "Dad used to say that when it looked like I was having a bad day." Diana smirked. "It always made me feel better. Thought I'd give a shot."
Tim nodded. "I'm fine." Diana looked away. She couldn't look him in the eyes after how she had treated him these past two weeks. "I have to ask an important question." Diana nodded without lifting her eyes. "Did that Tachyon freak really break my neck?"
Diana nodded, her tear ducts welling up. Diana knew what he wanted to know. "It wasn't just your toughness that pulled you through." Diana looked around the room. "I don't know any of the details but it's safe to say they use some weird science 'round here."
Diana sighed. "I'm sorry, Tim."
Tim smirked at that. "Sorry for what?"
Diana sighed again. "I didn't visit you while you were here." A lone tear traced the shape of her right cheek. "I couldn't bear the thought of watching you die." Tim gasped. Diana was as shocked as he was. Diana didn't think she had the guts to say that to Tim's face.
Tim didn't belabor this quiet moment. He killed it with humor. "That's okay." Tim grinned. "I couldn't bear the thought of watching me die either. I'd probably screw it up somehow." Tim laughed a bit. Diana joined in. "It's okay. I'm alive. You're alive. And that makes everything A-OK." Tim nodded. "All is forgiven. No harm, no foul."
Diana shook her head. She needed to get this off her chest. "No." Tim smirked. "It's not okay." Another tear fell from her right eye. "It's not okay that I kill people a dozen times a day but I can't face death when it's not me making it happen. It's not okay that my dad, ten years deceased, still talks to me every night before I fall asleep."
Tim sighed. "It's not your fault." This time, his tone changed from happy-go-lucky to dead serious. "We're heroes." Diana shook her head. He might be a hero but not her. "We might always do the right thing but I do believe we're doing them for the right reasons."
Tim took a long deep breath. "My best friend in the whole wide world died in my arms." Diana held her hand over her mouth. "It haunts me to this day. That's the price of being a hero." Timothy nodded. "To be haunted by ghosts until the day you become one."
Dad shook his head and sneered at Tim. "Don't listen to him." Diana glared right back at her father. "That boy doesn't know anything about death and he sure as Hell doesn't know anything about ghosts." Diana wrapped her arms around Tim. Dad wasn't real. Not anymore. Tim was real. He was alive. Daddy was just a ghost. A memory of a loving father twisted by her vengeful heart.
A knock came at the door. "Come in." Alice McCoy looked up from her paperwork to see Jethro Dumont, the latest addition to their team. Alice smirked at her posture. It was odd body language for an old man. He stood timid like he had accidentally smashed his mother's favorite vase. "What is it that can I do for you, Dumont?"
Jethro sighed. "It's not what you can do for me. It's what I should have already done for you." Jethro paused as if to gather his thoughts. "There is something I need to tell you. It's very important."
Alice nodded. "I already know." Alice raised a hand. "Diana tracked you down in Chicago and you two were working together ever since." Jethro rubbed his chin, seemingly lost in his own reverie. "It's our little secret, Dumont. Nobody has to know."
Jethro shook his head. "I am relieved that you knew about that but that is not what I'm talking." That got Alice's attention. "Miss Ace, ma'am, Jay Wheeler tried to turn him the night I join you guys."
Alice sighed. Alice was very disappointed. Culper Ring's most wanted had met with him and he had waited over two weeks before bringing this to her attention. Now, she understood his fear. Fortunately, her boss, Star, wouldn't have to know about that either.
Jethro shook his head as if reading her thoughts. "That's not the worst of it." Alice smirked. How could the bad news get any worse at this point? "Jay Wheeler mentioned a name. It sounded familiar but I couldn't remember where I had heard it before."
Jethro bowed his head. "So, I went to one of your rooms and meditated, trying to recall where I had heard or seen that word before. Right before midnight, it all came back to me. Everything."
Alice leaned up close as Jethro took his seat across from her desk. "You have records. You know I fought in the Vietnam War. In those days, I was too violent and too stupid to fear for my own mortality. I loved the smell of death and decay in the morning."
Jethro shivered. "I saw something out there along the Mekong River. Something awful. Something I have spent my whole life trying to forget." Jethro groaned. "My platoon stumbled upon an abandoned temple searching for VC. In the center stood a statue of a huge bearded man with Caucasian features but only one hand."
Alice's face drained of color. "In place of his right hand was a mechanical gauntlet." Jethro shivered as if from a sudden draft. "At the base of the statue, someone had carved the word 'TIWAZ' in letters from the Latin alphabet. It was a strange thing, this shrine to a white bearded man with one hand in the heart of Southeast Asia."
Alice felt a trapdoor open in the bottom of her stomach. This was worse than anything she had dared to imagine. "As I trembled in fear of this pagan idol, a monk charged out of the temple with a weapon in his hand." Oh, no. "A scythe with a translucent blade."
Jethro sighed. "I must shot at that man eight times. Some of the bullets bounced off the scythe like it was coated in tank armor." Jethro raised his head and looked at Alice. "I never told anyone about what happened and an air strike bombed the whole temple back to the Stone Age. Few weeks after that, I was shot through the chest, declared dead and healed by a most extraordinary doctor."
Alice finally regained her composure. "What you described to me sounds like a temple to the god Tiwaz." Jethro nodded. That wasn't all. "And the weapon you were attacked with, an invincible scythe with a ghostly blade, sounds a lot like the Samhain Scythe."
Jethro had forced her hand. Now, she had no choice but to reveal Prisoner D. Alice put a moment to compose herself. "Jethro Dumont." Alice sighed. "I think there's someone you need to talk to."
"Dracula?" Timothy Roland looked over the orientation room. He couldn't be only one irate about this. "You mean you have that Dracula, Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi Has Risen From The Grave, in this very building." Timothy clutched his sinuses. "So, let me get this straight. The King of Vampires is under witness protection? Right?"
Ace shook her head in disappointment as if putting up with her problem child's temper tantrum. "Yes and no." Tim chuckled bitterly. "Wladislaus Dragwlyaa is an entirely other entity from the Dracula you know from pop culture." He clenched his teeth. Time to call her bluff.
"Oh," Tim said with his hands out. "So, what? He's some kind of good-guy vampire. Only feeds on Bambi like a vegetarian vampire. That it? Or, perhaps, he robs from blood banks and runs a detective agency out of Los Angeles." Tim shrugged. "Give me a hint here."
Ace sighed. "Prisoner D as he is known to the Culper Ring will generally feed from live human beings. With a few exceptions, the feeding process is fatal to the donor. We have had some success with reheating refrigerated human blood but it is very inconsistent."
Tim gave Ace a round of applause. "Let me translate that into English for everyone here." Tim grabbed onto his crutches. "You try to feed him the blood bags but it doesn't always work. So, most of the time, someone draws the short straw and gets fed to this psycho suckhead." Tim looked around the table for support. "Why am I the only one here who seems to think that is, at best, an abomination?"
Ace sighed. "Where were you on September 11, 2001?"
Tim grimaced. Ace knew very well where he was. "Buried under a ton of rumble." Everyone else in the room gasped at the revelation. No one knew he had been at the Twin Towers that day.
Ace nodded. "What was your first thought after your rescue?" Ace pointed an accusing finger at Tim. "If you're first thought was to catch the SOBs responsible for what happened, you weren't alone."
Ace shook her head. "You didn't care how many women and children had to die during the War on Terror. Or how many Gitmo inmates had to have their bones broken or eyes gouged or testicles squeezed? You just cared about one thing. Getting the job done."
Ace nodded her head for emphasis. "Well, son, this is how the job gets done." Ace sneered at Tim. "You don't like it, go to Russia." Tim sat there, utterly speechless, as if meeting Ace for the first time.
Tim lifted himself up onto his crutches. "So, that's it." Tim shook his head. "No morals, no ethics, no ideals." Tim bowed his head in shame. "You get to do whatever you want and, if I don't like it, I can go to Russia." Ace stood there. No reply. Tim hobbled to the door.
Ace sighed. "Where are you going?"
Tim smirked. "Russia, apparently."
"Hello, Timothy," Wladislaus Dragwlya greeted the young man with a polite curtsy. "It's been so lonely down here." Dragwlya sighed. "Nobody to kill because a lot of you are already dead."
Tim walked with a slow labored gait. Hiding a limp, perhaps.
"Cute," TIm as he dragged his feet to his new confines.
"Very cute." Dragwlya bowed triumphantly. "The others warned me about this. Your less-than-subtle blend of socialite and sociopath." Tim smiled at his own wit. "Scary, if you're ten years old."
Tim reached into his pocket and uncrumbled a single sheet of paper. "On behalf of the Culper Ring, I am authorized to conduct an interview with the subject known as Prisoner D," Tim said in a tone of voice indicating that he was reading from a script. "The subject has agreed to past examinations. Therefore, his consent is implied."
Tim looked up at Dragwlya. "Is that correct, Mr. Dracula?" Aside from the fact that his name wasn't "Mr. Dracula," everything he said was accurate. He nodded politely. "Good. Very good." Tim grinned. "You know I'm surprised. I expected you to go all Hannibal Lector on me and, instead, you are actually cooperating quite well."
Dragwlya scanned Timothy's surface thoughts and made an intriguing discovery. "None of these are your questions, Timothy."
Tim rolled his eyes. "Here we go."
Dragwlya continued his probe of Tim's mind. "They belong to someone else. It begs the question. Why isn't he here asking them?"
Tim shrugged. "Well, wait, let me think about that." Timothy mimed a light bulb appearing over his head like he were a clown of some sort. "Maybe because nobody wants you inside their melon."
Dragwlya grinned. "What about you? I can read your mind." Tim just grinned right back at him. "What makes you so brave?"
Tim shook his head. "I ain't brave." Dragwlya smirked. An odd thing to say about oneself when facing off against a vampire. Even from behind bulletproof glass. "I just hate your guts. Read my mind all you want. You're never gonna to get inside my head."
Tim cleared his throat and read from his crumbled list. "Was the Samhain Scythe part of your collection in Prague?" Dragwlya's eyes lit up. They knew about the Scythe. Impressive. "If so, was it among the items stolen by Jay Wheeler on November 1, 2011?"
Dragwlya yawned. Then, he found a more interesting topic. "Who is Robert Benton?" Tim froze in place as if encased in cement. "Why are you thinking about him whenever you think about me?"
Tim closed his eyes. He was thinking of doing something he considered very risky. "Quid pro quo." Dragwlya applauded his Latin. Very well spoken. "I answer your questions and you answer mine."
Dragwlya nodded. "The Samhain Scythe was among the items in my collection." Tim nodded as if to say go on. "It was stolen under those exact circumstances." He smiled contently. "Your turn."
Tim nodded. He had too much integrity and bravado to back out now. "Robert Benton was my mentor and my best friend. I worked as his lab assistant and fought beside him." Tim sighed. "He died because a stupid punk like you decided to gun him down."
Dragwlya laughed. "What makes you think I'm anything like this punk of yours?" Dragwlya was curious to know his line of reason.
"You think you're so special but you're really not." Dragwlya shrugged. "You're just another two-legged rat who doesn't mind killing people and you think that makes you some sort of predator."
Dragwlya corrected him. "I am a predator." He locked eyes with Tim. "And, like it or not, you are my prey." He bared his fangs. The fangs retracted into his mouth. "You watched him die, didn't you?" Tim curled up into himself. Tim chose to ignore the question.
Dragwlya smiled. Confirmation by avoidance. "Tell me, was it a good death?" Tim shook his head. Dragwlya couldn't tell whether he had trembled or answered his question. "Did you look into his eyes as he died?" Tim gave a definite nod. "Should never do that."
Tim tried to continue. "Do you have any reason to believe that the Samhain Scythe will be utilized to release the god Tiwaz?"
If they already knew about the Scythe, they'd figure out the Tiwaz thing on their own. "Do you know why you should never do that?" Tim stood there, shaking like a leaf. "Because the only thing you'll ever see is someone who didn't want to die. Someone who would have traded all their wordly possessions for one more minute."
Tim broke the silence with laughter. "This the part where you offer to turn me?" Tim shrugged. "I don't wanna die. Nobody does but what you have isn't life." Tim backed away. "Not even close." He admired Tim's strength. If he had had more soldiers like him ...
Alice knocked on the door to Hikaru Strange's office. "Hi," Alice said as she walked through the door. He often pretended that he didn't know her first name. It helped to keep things professional. Hikaru didn't care anymore. "Any luck finding Genji?" He shook his head. No luck at all. The story of his life these days. "Are you okay?"
Hikaru sighed and nodded. Sure, why not? Alice stepped forward. "Do you remember that weird night when we first met?"
Hikaru smiled. "You mean the night you tried to give your Luger a blowjob?" Alice nodded lightly. "Yeah, I remember. I try not to think about this though." Hikaru looked at her. "What about it?"
Alice's lips quivered. "Why did you do it?" Hikaru's left eyebrow arched. He loved loving having hair on his head again. "Why did you bother to save me?" Hikaru couldn't believe she was asking this question. "I was expendable. The agency could have replaced me easily." Alice sighed. "So why bother saving someone who didn't really want your help?" Hikaru paused to reflect on this.
Hikaru snapped his finger as if he had figured out a puzzle. "Still smarting from that riding Tim gave your ass this morning, huh?" Alice nodded helplessly. "I'm surprised he isn't halfway to Moscow by now?" Hikaru leaned up close. "How did you change his mind?"
Alice shook her head. "I didn't." Alice sighed. "Jethro and Diana did." Alice had a faraway look in her eyes. "Jethro said that everyone's karma gets sorted out in time and there's no reason to brood over its delay." Alice smirked. "Diana almost offered to satisfy him sexually." Alice laughed. "Should've seen the look on his face."
Hikaru sighed. The great irony of his life was this. He used to be so much happy back when he was dying from a brain tumor. He used to have a smile that lit up the room. Now, he had a frown that could down airplanes. How unsatisfied he was now, having traded a certain death for this uncertain life. If only he could turn back time.
"You're not a bad person." Alice shook her head. "No, it is true. I've known doctors who only cared about cashing in on your health insurance. Saving lives does not a good person make." Hikaru tilted her chin up. "It is caring about people that makes you a good person or not." Hikaru put his arms on her shoulders. "And you care."
Alice gritted her teeth and lifted his arms from his shoulders. "You think just because you slept with me it gives you some magic insight into my soul?" Alice's eyes glazed over. "I have done things. Awful things. Things so unbelievably terrible it doesn't really matter what I was feeling. I did them anyways and I damned my soul."
Alice let a loud breath that bordered on a growl. "I was lonely. You were horny. We worked something out. That is all that was. I had been in love once and it didn't feel anything like that."
Hikaru shook his head. "Are you really dumb enough to think it feels the same way twice?" Her eyes widened like a gag reflex to the question. "I'd never been in love before but I knew what it was."
Hikaru laughed at Alice. "You know something. You are just like my mother. You think it's your job to suffer from everyone else's sins." Hikaru wiped the sweat from his brow. "So I'm going to tell you what I should have told her." He whispered it into her ear. "Get down off your cross, Alice." Hikaru smirked. "We need the wood."
This conversation was long overdue for a subject change. Alice gladly provided it. "I want you to come on our next mission." Hikaru indicated that he'd rather gargle acid. "You're good. You could help us down in Ricca. You could help us destroy the cargo."
Hikaru's ears perked. "Destroy it?" Hikaru shook his head, a little disappointed. "I have you were planning on recovering it for Sir Fangs-A-Lot down in containment." Alice shrugged helplessly. "See, this is your problem. You hate yourself for what you do but you never stop. So either stop hating yourself or stop being someone you hate."
Alice closed her eyes for a moment. "I won't order you to join the mission but don't pretend this is about me." Alice nodded. "If you strongly believe your powers are unreliable in the field, just say so." Alice smirked. "You're a doctor, Hikaru. I'm sure you'll figure something out." With that, Alice left him with some food for thought.
Mech arms finished reattaching Koichi Araki's head to his body. Damn him, Koichi thought as he came back online for the first time in over two weeks. He had had just enough reserve power in him to collect his head and escape before anyone showed up to salvage his parts. Koichi could not allow the enemy to capture him.
Koichi powered down before reaching the perimeter of his lair. Fortunately, the automated drones in the area knew what to do. For the most part. Without a human-grade intelligence directing the whole process, the reattachment of Koichi's cranial processing unit must have been laboriously slow. Still, he was one step closer in his quest to get back to fighting form and to finish what he had started.
For the sake of completeness, Koichi needed to run the first of a long series of diagnostic checks. He was beyond paranoid. He had never taken a hit like that before. The chances of real damage having occurred was a non-zero risk and he couldn't tolerate that.
Tachyon directed all the automated drones to guard the perimeter of the lair. Anything with moving parts that came within a kilometer of here was to be destroyed on sight. No one and nothing was to enter the lair during Koichi Araki's very first diagnostic check.
To hasten the diagnostics programs, Tachyon switched off the external input drive. Deaf and blind, Koichi retreated to files in his memory banks that stood the least chance of degradation: Koichi's memory of his creator and father, Kenji Araki. Koichi awoke in a field.
Koichi looked around to see himself running laps in seconds around the jogging circle at Araki Labs. Kenji checked his timer. "It's amazing," his father said looking at the time. "You're getting faster." Kenji smiled. "You sure you weren't holding back." Koichi shook his head. "Then, this is incredible. This means that you're getting faster."
Father liked to ramble when he talked. Kenji Araki was like a computer himself, countless programs running countless calculations at once. "I knew those nanites would fix you up but I never thought in a million years they'd actually be improving upon infrastructure."
Koichi bowed politely. "What does that mean, Father?" He knew what it meant. He just admired the audio qualities of his voice.
"It means that these speeds combined with an identical trend in your strength tests suggest an almost infinite capacity for self-improvement." Kenji took off his bifocals and bit down on one of the temple tips. "There's no limit to how fast or strong you could be. Before long, you could be running near the speed of light and splitting mountains in half. There's no telling how far you could go."
Koichi remembered asking an innocent enough question. "Why would I need to do any of those things, Dad?" Kenji got very solemn. it was as if he had spoken a blasphemy to a church elder.
Kenji Araki put on his bifocals and placed his hands on Koichi's shoulders. "Because there are bad people in this world, Koichi, would love to hurt innocent people. And, to beat them, you'll have to be faster and stronger than them. Do you understand, son?"
Koichi sighed, a human way of expressing exhaustion. "I do not. My powers can be used to hurt innocent people. I could chase them down and I could crush them into pieces." Koichi trembled, a human way of showing fear. "It might be best if I didn't exist at all."
Father shook his head at Koichi, a human way of displaying disappointment. "What you're feeling is fear. It's a human thing but you're not human. You're better than us and you're smarter too. If anyone has the right to determine the good from the bad, it's you."
Koichi reengaged his external input drive. The diagnostic check hadn't determined any other damage which either meant he was fine or the diagnostic programs themselves were damaged. Koichi needed to be a thousand percent sure that he was ready.