|The Deadwood Event
Author: LastThingUneverSee PM
It's 2024. Nexus is 17. He lives in the City, the huge ruins of a once-grand metropolis. Now two rival gangs rule the streets, ordinary humans and Renegades are in hiding. But there is something more sinister going on than all the City's residents gaining superpowers after a mysterious Event six years ago, as Nexus soon discovers.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi/Supernatural - Chapters: 10 - Words: 47,064 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 05-10-13 - Published: 02-10-13 - id: 3099857
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
'I can't cope with any of this,' said Nexus finally, shoving his tastless, repetetive beef stew away from him and stabbing the tabletop in front of him out of anger. It had been a week. Just a week. That night was Sunday, and the next day was Monday. Another week of next to nothing, having meals provided but kept under strict guard.
In just a week, he'd seen a girl who'd made a mistake beaten within an inch of her life. In just a week, he'd been torn away from everything he cared about. In just a week, his life had been torn apart. In just a week, he'd been fed exactly the same food and he could have sworn it was dulling down his senses phenominally. No longer did he feel the desperate, primal urge to survive. Instead he felt placid, but he longed for more, and his longing was a torture no amount of drugged food could take away from him. Indeed, the only thing he thought wasn't drugged was the evening's hot chocolate, which was always a delight, even though it, too, lacked much taste.
He'd resolved to believe he had died, in fact, and that the Deadwood Facility was in reality, Hell. Then there was his other theory, that he was in a nightmare. But it had gone on too long to be just a simple nightmare, and heremembered getting shot in the head clearly, and the brief pain it had brought with it. He remembered seeing Grim die before him too. And Rick. All of them, dead. And he was just one more.
Everyday, he believed it more, and everyday the City seemed to slip further and further from his grasp. He feared soon there would be nothing left in his mind, or memories of it. That the Facility would be his entire life, the never ending repetition. It was worse then the constant hunger he used to feel. A million times worse.
'Howe isn't going to be very happy with you if you don't eat your stew,' said Grim, between slurps. Nexus wanted to ignore him, but he'd found Grim couldn't really be ignored. He wasn't just a nagging voice, just the bad part of his conscience and personality. He was real, and he was experiencing this with Nexus. So he'd decided, the least he could do would be too not hate him and want to kill him quite as much.
'I don't care what Howe thinks,' said Nexus, removing his fork to stab the table for a second time. He'd been doing this for days, and by now his half of the table looked like a pin cushion, covered in holes from the forks and scratches from the knives and even small dints by the spoons. 'I'm going.'
'But it's early. You should probably wait five more minutes,' Grim advised. According to Howe, there were weekly therapy sessions held in the Facility with the head professors of each training group. Annoyingly, the head professor of Nexus' training group happened to be Howe, and he was due at his office at dead on seven. It was about ten to seven now, but it would probably take Nexus five minutes or so to navigate the identical corridors.
'I don't care what time it is, Grim. I didn't listen to you before and I'm not listening to you now that we're dead,' Nexus said.
'You're not dead, for the last time. They revived us. They've probably got a Super stashed somehwere down here,' said Grim. This had been Grim's counter to all of the allegations Nexus made against the Facility, which were namely "how did they bring us back from the dead". He'd accepted Grim's theory as true, but he didn't want to, which kept him denying it whenever he was inGrim's presence. Childish.
For the third time, Nexus stabbed the table with his fork, then, leaving it protruding from the woodwork like a monument of his annoyance, and stormed from the room, which had better ventilation and air conditioning than his room that had become more like a tomb, which had started stressing him out whenever he was in there for prolonged time. He hated it. He walked through the silver and white, shiny and sparkly corridors until coming to the one with Prof. Tomas Howe stuck to it in sleek, metal letters.
There were no chairs outside the dull silver door, so Nexus stood. Then he heard voices coming from inside the room. He had nothing else to do, and his privacy wasn't respected at all in the underground pit, so he decided to listen. It would probably be against his better judgement, but upon reflection, he had discovered he didn't really have any better judgement. Not when it came to him. Just survive no matter what, that was the one rule.
'We're not finished here, you can't expect me to authorise this,' Howe was saying. There was a pause with silence, 'no, you have no basis for this order!...You can't... Fine,' he said the last word after a long time, 'but give me a month. A month more time, then I'll activate the bomb.' Alarm bells were ringing in Nexus' head. A bomb!? Who were they bombing? Surely not their own Facility. No. Nexus knew who they were going to bomb. They were going to bomb the City. 'No, I need the time. It needs repairs anyway, it's leaking radiation left and right. Unless you want a faulty bomb, you'd better... Yes. Alright. Two weeks. If I get people on it straight away, two weeks. I'll start sending all the back-up data to HQ.'
Nexus slunk away and around the corner. He checked the small watch he'd been given. It was now five to seven, so he remained. He stood, staring at the watch, waiting, until it clicked to seven o'clock exactly and he walked determindely down the corridor, thinking the same thing over and over again in his head: don't mention the bomb. Don't mention the bomb. Don't mention the bomb.
The door opened, and Professor Tomas Howe, the man condemning the City and Nexus' home to death, stood there looking nervous and edgy as usual, but even moreso that particular evening, because of the phone call he'd just made.
'There's an emergency, one of our oxygen generators in the labs has broken, I've been called to fix it immedietely. I won't be able to do your tutoring session this week,' he said, bustling past Nexus. He was about to turn the corridor when he looked back, seeing he'd left his office door wide open. He practically sprinted to it, pulled it shut and locked it tightly. 'All sessions are postponed until further notice.' And he was round the corner in a flash. Maybe he was secretly a speedster. Nexus thought about that, and realised it wasn't too farfetced, but he highly doubted it.
'You're back early,' said Grim, five minutes later. 'You're not skiving it, are you?' there was a note of forboding in his tone.
'All sessions postponed until further notice,' Nexus repeated Howe.
'Why?' asked Grim in his all-business voice. Nexus held back his feeling of defiance in finding out Grim hadn't been practicing what he preached, and that he thought the Facility was no good, too.
'Howe said one of the oxygen generators has broken,' Nexus said.
'Oh,' said Grim, relaxing again.
'But he's lying. I heard him on the phone. They're going to blow up the City,' said Nexus.
'No way,' said Riley the following day. Thanks to her, the guard was asleep, and thanks to Rick, all electronic monitoring devices (as he called them) in their area had been disabled. They could talk freely. Nexus didn't know what Howe would do if he got wind they knew about the bomb under the City. Kill them, probably.
'Yes. There's a bomb. We've got to stop it,' Nexus said quietly. He didn't think Rick had missed anything, or that the guard wasn't really asleep, but he wasn't risking it. He was too used to being cautious in places he didn't trust. 'So how do we get rid of the bangles?' Nexus asked, waving his wrist around in front of them all. They glared at him for it.
'I can't disable them, they're all controlled by something else. If I try, it'll be back online in moments and you'll get a shock. I already tried it,' Rick explained.
'They're made of plastic, I can't melt them,' said Melter.
'What about laser girl?' Grim asked. They all looked around to the opposite corner of them room to see Charlotte, the girl who had been beaten, and her roommate (now dubbed simply Laser Girl as she could shoot lasers from her eyes). She looked up from talking to Charlotte too see the twelve pairs of eyes ogling her. She glanced to Charlotte, before getting up and walking over to them.
'Why are you looking at me?' she whispered.
'Can you cut the bangles off?' Grim asked, straight to the point.
'Sure. This boy asked me to about a year ago. I'll just say it's a good think his power was to regenerate,' she said harshly. So, if this girl tried to cut off the bangles, their hands would be cut off. Charlotte would probably blow up their entire arms' if she tried to do it.
'So where do we have to go to deactivate them?' Nexus asked Rick.
'I can't access the network properly, if I try to move too far through it I get shocked,' said Rick. Stupid bangles, not letting them use their powers outside of the room. 'The guard might know something.'
'I'll get him to talk,' said Riley, marching off towards the guard. They all watched eagerly, awaiting news. She came back about five minutes later looking disgruntled. Nexus hoped that even bad news might be of some news to him.
'Yeah?' Grim prompted her.
'There are five head professors, each one of them is authorised to unlock the bangles from a control room,' she said, 'but he doesn't know where the room is.'
'Hostage,' said Grim suddenly.
'You want to kidnap somebody!?' Nexus demanded.
'Sure,' said Grim. They all looked at him. 'You have no guts. Kidnapping somebody in here would be too easy.'
'And who do you plan to kidnap, may I ask?' challenged Laser Girl. 'Also, what's going on? Are you escaping?'
'Yes,' said Nexus.
'Why? You want to go back to the City? Are you crazy?' she asked.
'They're going to blow it up!' Nexus hissed. 'In two weeks!'
'So what!? It's a wasteland!' she shouted.
'My little sister lives there, I don't want her blown to bits!' Rick shouted back.
'I was blown to bits, by a grenade, years ago, and they put me back together,' she said.
'This is different. They're stopping the entire experiment. Nobody's coming back when it goes kaboom.' The room fell silent at Nexus' words.
'Howe,' said Grim, breaking the silence, 'We'll take Howe. Everybody else would be expendable to them, even Howe, but he can meet our demands. Usually, hostages can't. He'll get rid of the bangles.'
'Are you sure?' Nexus asked.
'Sure I'm sure. That's the way these places work. And I'm pretty sure we can go do this right now.'
'He'll be wherever the bomb is. We need an elevator,' said Nexus.
'We need stairs,' Riley contradicted, 'they could easily stop an elevator. How are you going to fight of the guards?'
'We'll use our powers,' said Rick, 'the shock's strong enough in incapacitate them. The current has to go through us though. Grab them and shock them.'
'You want us to shock ourselves?' Nexus asked.
'Well you don't have to shock that guard,' Rick said, 'I'm sure Laser Girl can shoot him.'
'Laser Girl?' Laser Girl said, 'my name to you is Laser Girl?'
'Well, what's your real name?' asked Nexus. She thought.
'Doesn't matter, I always hated it. I'll gladly be called Laser Girl.'
'Good. Kill the guard then, Laser Girl,' ordered Rick. She turned and bright red beams shot directly at the guard's neck, decapitating him. It was gruesome, but Nexus was used to such grizzly sights. It reminded him of the small war with the Normals, and how easily they had died. They were like ragdolls in the hands of Brute, and the look of fear when their bullets' had just bounced off Steel had been a copy of the same look a rabbit had when it was caught in headlights. Humans died too easy.
No alarms. No noise. Not even a scream escaped the man's body. What if he'd had a family?, thought Nexus. No, he
wouldn't. Somebody with a family wouldn't come and work full-time in a secret underground facility for years to experiment on people with superpowers. It just didn't happen.
They fled the room, Nexus lost in the adrenaline, Rick and Grim taking the lead. He was glad to have little responsibility. He'd shared his knowledge already, he'd insighted their escape and had told them where Howe was likely to be. All that was left was to hope they didn't run into many guards before they got rid of the bangles, or before they got a weapon. Which reminded Nexus that all the guards carried a baton, and that Charlotte was still hiding in the Training Room.
'Wait, Laser Girl come back for Charlotte,' Nexus said, then he turned, not checking to see if she was following, and ducked back into the room. The cameras were probably activated again now Rick had left. Nexus may have blown their lead, but the weapon would be useful. He grabbed it and lingered behind while Laser Girl coaxed Charlotte into coming with them.
'If you come with us, they won't hurt you again, and you can use your powers without getting shocked,' these were the things Laser Girl was saying the Charlotte, over and over again, but it didn't look like she was going to be convinced any time soon. Nexus almost regretted remembering her, but he couldn't leave her behind. They'd probably question her and ask her what she knew about their daring escape attempt.
That was when the sirens started.
Something sparked in Charlotte, and she jumped to her feet, joining the group awaiting them at the end of the corridor, Nexus and Laser Girl hurrying in her wake. Finally, they could go. There were no other Training Rooms on that floor. It was likely all the bangles had been activated, no matter who the wearer was. It made Nexus cringe to think of all the people getting electorcuted right now because they'd tried to use their powers. Hopefully, they'd be fine.
They ran into a group of guards. Rick was first to lunge forwards and stick his hand onto one of their faces, then two screams ripped the air as the current sped through them both. The guard crumpled and Grim managed to catch Rick and drag him away just as a baton went through the air where his head had just been. Nexus wielded his own baton, and smacked that guard in the face so they could continue on through the Facility. Just two left, and Anson (the air manipulator) picked up the fallen guard's baton and together he and Nexus knocked the remnants out cold, tossing their batons to Grim and Riley to pick up the new onse.
They moved on, Rick woozy but now they were better armed. Melter had the burden of guiding him along as Grim and Riley were both needed to fight, and Laser Girl was too busy helping Charlotte along, who had lost her spark and was shuffling meekly around, looking dazedly for the source of the electronic wailing that was the alarm.
'He might be in his office,' said Nexus once they reached the fork. Right was straight to Howe's office, left to the another fork that went either to the elevator or the narrow stairs reserved for utility staff. 'Rick, there'll be stuff on his computer, come on.' Nexus took Rick from Melter and half-dragged him through the corridor. It seemed to take a lifetime, but eventually they burst through. It was empty, but the computer was still whirring. Nexus pushed Rick into Howe's chair and watched as he stared blankly at the screen.
'It needs a password,' said Rick blankly. The shock had taken its toll.
'You have to use your power,' said Nexus after some thought. They wouldn't be able to guess the password. It would be too difficult and too time consuming to undertake at that moment. Rick was going to have to take another shock. Would it kill him? Hopefully not... But Nexus couldn't risk it. Rick was a Cause. Rick was Nexus' best friend. He couldn't let him get killed on the offchance there was something of value here. They could come back without the bangles, get the information then, he told himself.
'No...' Rick groaned.
'We'll come back. Come on,' Nexus heaved him up. He'd wasted too much time already, but he thought it was worth checking all the drawers for a key or an ID Card or a gun. Yes! he thought. He was lucky. There was an Alpha Priority Clearence Card, this would get them into any room and Rick wouldn't have to bypass them. And a gun. Nexus didn't know how to shoot, he'd never learned, but surely Grim knew.
Upon sight of the weapon, Grim grabbed it and threw his baton to the ground. Nexus picked it up and stuffed into Rick's hands, passing him over to Melter and passing the gun over to Grim. Finally, they could continue. They broke the locked door down and set off down the stairs with two people who couldn't fight for themselves. They went down and down and down, to the very bottom floor, where there was an elevator. They'd be on camera there, but there was no other way down, not without powers. So they braced themselves and entered.
There were floors, all of them further down, labelled on the wall. Nexus scanned them, but only one stuck in his head. Project Epsilon. He stabbed the button for Project Epsilon, which he was guessing must be the bomb, or something else dangerous to the City, and they managed to squeeze in as the doors slid closed and it began its decent.
About a minute passed before they heard the first bang and the elevator rocked. It continued going down, but now it was swinging. There was no doubt in Nexus' mind. Somebody had cut one of the cables. They went on for another fifteen seconds, before it rocked again, and now creaking under the strain of only one cable holding it up.
Grim took the initiative, and grabbed the latch of the roof, pulling it down to reveal people standing on top of the slow-moving lift with a huge saw, trying to cut through the cable. He drew the gun and shot them both in the head. The cable only had half its fibres left and was severely weakened. The slightest movement rocked the lift as Grim reached out of the hatch and pulled the saw away as Charlotte wimpered in the corner of the lift. Then the power went out. Rick gasped for air when they did. He didn't cope well without electricity around him, Nexus knew that much, which is why he slept in the same room as the Scraper's generator, with Elektra, so she could power it and he could stay healthy.
They remained, dangling there helplessly like fish in a barrel. Then, somewhere high above them, the cable must have been cut, sending them speeding down. Nexus' life was already flashing before his eyes when the lift smashed into the ground. Only it didn't smash into the ground. It had slowed and plonked itself down gently. Nexus didn't care what had happened, but he grabbed his baton and everybody with a weapon started clawing their way through the metal doors until light seeped through and there was a face on the other side. Not a face Nexus knew, but a young face, the boy couldn't be any older than Nexus himself, and they were grining stupidly.
'You the escapees?' he asked.
'Yeah, why? Gonna kill us?' Grim shouted, sticking his baton through, only to have something force it backwards so it head Grim in the head making him stumble backwards.
The boy stepped back and Nexus watched him intently through the gap as he lifted his arms, grabbed invisible tethers, and pulled. At once the doors were wrenched clean off the lift. They all ran forwards, now with three incapacitated to some extent, Nexus now being forced into his leader's role. The lack of responsibility couldn't last, he thought to himself. He always ended up being in charge. Either when people didn't do things right, or people couldn't do anything for whatever reaosn.
'On the contrary, we're going to help you. This floor is where they keep the exceptionally gifted,' the boy explained.
'Isn't there a bomb?' asked Nexus.
'I don't know. There's Project Epsilon,' he said, 'that's what the rest of the floor's for. Nobody's allowed to speak about it though. And they definitely don't tell us.' Nexus felt relieved he'd found the correct floor. He couldn't imagine what horrors might lay in wait for them if they had to go back up the stairs.
'Don't you have bangles?' asked Nexus.
'Didn't you find out? We already deactivated all of them. Soon as we head the guards yelling there'd been a breakout.' At once, Nexus had to test this theory. He felt the shiver go down his spine and heard the gasps from the boy and the small group now assembled behind him. He had to check his hands though. He put them up to his face, and breathed a sigh of relief when he couldn't see them. 'What happened to him?' the boy pointed at Rick.
'He electorcuted one of the guards on his way down,' said Nexus.
'We've got a healer for him and the idiot,' he said, nodding at Grim who was completely unconscious and being dragged along by Anson. A girl stepped out from behind the boy and Nexus felt a pang of worry. It was Anna.
'Anna? What happened?' asked Nexus, though he could barely speak properly.
'I got shot, by some snipers,' she replied, 'But only me.' That was odd. Why only shoot Anna? She wasn't even a threat, she was only a healer. Then Nexus realised. It hadn't been the Normals that had shot him and Grim, it had been staff from the Facility. They were the only ones trained well enough to shoot so well from so far. Trained soldiers, with high caliber weapons. It must have been them, but why? Maybe they were collecting. That would be why they'd want a healer, to add to their selection. Perhaps Nexus and Grim had been interesting because they wanted some insight into the gang war, and obviously they
wouldn't be able to get Doyle, and they wouldn't want to get Brute. Grim was the obvious choice for somebody to actually have a conversation with out of the three. That's all they were, collectibles. It sickened Nexus.
'Just... Just heal them...' said Nexus, trying to shake the terrible thoughts from his head.
'I'm Mark,' said the boy in charge, 'apparently, I'm an incredibly powerful telekinetic. I though I was a normal one, but hey, never turn down a compliment.' He shrugged. How could he be so smiley at a time like this?
'Computer,' Rick said from somewhere behind Nexus, getting to his feet from where he'd apparently been dumped by Melter. He walked like a stick, completely straight, as though following some kind of signal only he could hear. Which he probably was, as he walked off into the nearest office.
Nexus followed him quickly to see him staring into a computer moniter, the occupant of the cubicle knocked out on the floor. His eyes were flitting across the screen intensely. This was what he looked like when he was conversing with technology or any kind. He blinked, long and slow, then gasped like he had just surfaced from underwater somewhere. A crowd had now formed around him in the office. Then there was a bang.
'Guards, they've just landed on top of the elevator,' Mark said to them, then he dragged his own group - apart from Anna - away. Grim, Laser Girl, Anson and Melter followed and Nexus heard the fighting begin.
'We can't stop it from here,' said Rick.
'What?' Nexus asked, lost in the fight that was going on outside.
'The bomb. It can only be stopped by the head of the Deadwood Institution. It's a range of facilities, like this, all of them dedicated to studying one thing. This one is called Deadwood Facility Zeta. You'd have to get to Facility Alpha to deactivate the bomb,' Rick explained quickly.
'So how do we stop it without deactivating it?'
'You can't using technology, the network shuts itself down if it doesn't recognise the DNA trying to access it. The only way is to detonate it.'
'And blow up the City!' Nexus exclaimed.
'Maybe not, if we got people with some specific-' but whatever Rick had been saying was lost in a huge explosion. For a moment, Nexus thought they'd set off the bomb, but the explosion was practically minor compared to whatever that monster would do, and the room hadn't caved in, so it couldn't be it. No doubt the Facility would be taken out, too, if the bomb went off. 'Security breech,' said Rick, 'everyone's escaped, they're all coming down here!'
'How do we get out!?' Nexus yelled over the now many explosions. Rick was dragging things across the computer's large, projected holographic screen, desperately searching for something.
'There! Evacuation elevator, it's giant, on the other side of the floor! Get everyone over there and I'll activate it!' Rick shouted to Nexus, leaving his station and running off straight away.
'Everybody, get to the other side of the floor! Straight that way! Go!' Nexus was yelling to as many people as he could. Finally, so many of the Supers were heading off the rest followed rather than panicking and trying to fight everything in sight.
Nexus was the last one, and he hurried after them, but by the time the emergency elevator came into view the doors were closing. He ran, but it was like he was in a dream where the faster he tried to move the slower he actually went and every step was a huge effort. Panic and fear were setting in now, the adrenaline that had been fueling him washed from his blood and pushed out of his body in the sticky sweat now forming. He jumped and grabbed somebody's hand from inside. It was Ricks, but his fingers was so wet he slipped and fell, head right between the closing doors. He put his foot down and pushed forwards, somebody pulling him in by the shoulders.
Then the doors closed around his leg and there was a sickening crunch as he was dragged into the lift and then he blacked out.