New York City. Man's greatest architectural achievement. The towering skyscrapers shone in the sun, casting their massive shadows upon the streets below. It was the symbol of American capitalism, and of mankind's arrogance. And it was here that a crucial event in American history was about to occur. And as Greg watched the people down there gong about their daily business, he knew that they had no idea what was about to happen. They would probably never know the true significance of today's events; whether or not that was a good thing, only time would tell.
Greg sighed. He was seventeen; he shouldn't be in this kind of situation. He should be in school. He should've been worrying about where he was going to go college and whether or not to ask a girl out. Instead, he was making decisions that not only risked his life, but the lives of his friends. It was wrong. It wasn't fair.
It'll be all right, a soft, female voice whispered from the back of Greg's mind. The young man turned to face Jen and smiled. Despite his doubts, there was still a very good chance that Carl's plan would get them through this. However, it would still be far from easy, but that wasn't all that unusual anymore. Nothing that had happened these past few weeks had been easy.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. The teen sighed, knowing who it was. He turned away from the window and made his way across the small room. As he walked, Jen and the others all stared at him as they waited anxiously from the couches. Each one of them was wondering the same thing Greg was, and each one of them knew that, no matter how nervous they were, this was the only option they had.
"You're early," Greg said solemnly as he opened the door and locked eyes with the man standing on the other side of the doorway.
"So is the press," John Mellany replied.
"I guess it's time, then," Greg stated, deliberately speaking loud enough for everyone else to hear. He stepped aside to allow John to enter the room.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" John whispered, standing between Greg and the others so that no one else would hear their conversation.
"You were there last night," Greg replied matter-of-factly. "You saw how far they're willing to go to stop us. If we keep going the way we are, we're all dead."
"They're might be another way," the older man said. Greg shook his head.
"There isn't one, and you know that," he responded. "You and I both know that this is the only way to not only survive this, but finally put a stop to these people."
John looked down for a moment, then locked his gaze with Greg's. They stayed like this for a moment before John
- - -
Several minutes later, Greg and his companions were walking the streets of New York, following John to their destination. They blended into the crowd, indistinguishable from any other person wandering the streets. Even so, they knew that when they reached their destination, they'd fall right into the crosshairs of their enemies. That may have been part of the plan, but it did make Greg feel uneasy. Everything they were doing was quite risky; he just hoped it would all work out in the end.
A minute or so later, they arrived at the makeshift podium that had been set up in Times Square. John took the stage as Greg and the others waited down below. However, before he could even utter his first word, sirens blared all around them as cop cars and vans sped into the intersection. Before any of them to react, a group of men in body armor had leapt out, grabbed John, and pulled him away, while others worked to scatter the crowd of civilians and reporters.
Greg felt his heart leap up into his throat. Adrenaline raced through his veins as he knew that the time was finally here. As the cops ordered them to stand down, the young man prepared for what would be the final act in a very long tale...
- - -
Several Weeks Ago
In the halls of Willowbrook High School in northern Jersey, Gregory Peterson went to his classes with carefree abundance. He was a teenager living out his life, and his life was quite good. He was an excellent student and received good grades. Even so, he was definitely not a nerd. Five-foot eight with scruffy brown hair, tan skin, bright blue eyes, and a suave personality that girls couldn't resist, nerd definitely didn't apply. He had certainly dated a lot of girls, and was planning on going out with a lot more before he graduated. The thought of falling in love and spending the rest of his life with one person had never even occurred to this playboy.
"Hey, Greg," Spencer Woods, Greg's best friend since the cradle, greeted as they passed one another in the hallway. "What up?"
"Nothin' much, Spence," Greg replied. "Just walkin' down death row." Spencer chuckled.
"That's right, you got Brady for Math," he said. "That man is a monster."
"A monster who's threatening to upset my perfect 3.2 average," Greg added.
"Man, you just gotta hang in there," Spencer told his friend, adding a slap on the back for encouragement. Greg chuckled and looked over at his friend. Even though they were best friends, they looked completely different. Spencer was four-foot three, with slick, bleach-blonde hair, emerald eyes, and skin so pale you'd think he was dead, the exact opposite of Greg. But, despite appearances, they were the self-proclaimed "Dynamic Do-Them" of Willowbrook, best friends until the bitter end.
The two of them reached the end of the hallway, and each one headed in a different direction. They couldn't have known that may have been the last time they would ever see each other.
- - -
Greg sat in the back of Mr. Brady's Calculus class, trying to stay as far away from the monstrous teacher as he could. The man had the personality of a viper, and looked like a zombie. Unnaturally pale skin with dark spots around the eyes and thin, gray hair that fell everywhere earned him the nickname of The Walking Dead.
As Brady wrote out yet another equation on the chalkboard, a man in a black suit came to the door.
"Excuse me," he said, "but I need to have a word with Gregory Peterson." Brady grinned, showing off his yellow teeth.
"Sure thing," he replied. "Greg!" Greg got out of his seat and walked over to the man.
"Come with me, son," the guy in the suit told him. Greg obeyed, following the man out of the classroom, and out of the school. The guy kept on walking away from the building, maintaining a firm grip on Greg's shoulder to keep him from having the option to flee.
"Where are we going?" Greg asked, but the suit was silent. They rounded a corner, and then he stopped.
"Where the hell are we..." Greg started to ask when he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck. Suddenly, his legs felt like jello. They were too weak to hold him up, so he just fell to the ground. As he did, the world around him blurred and went black. Greg's last thought was to struggle, to try and get away. Then he slipped away into oblivion.
- - -
Nevada. The state with the record for the most deaths due to heatstroke. Its vast, empty deserts conceal many corpses, from the time of the Native Americans to the present. But for the last fifty years, it had concealed something much darker, something that had done many horrible things. So it may come as a great surprise that the only thing the Nevada desert was concealing right now was a party.
In an abandoned military installation in Groom Lake, Nevada, the nations wealthiest and most influential people were sitting around a table, drinking and reminiscing on their past. There was much laughter as they dined on the finest, most expensive food they could get their hands on. After all, their wealth was practically endless. Why should they care what things cost?
At the head of the center table sat the organizers of this gathering: Derrick Harren, Jacob Jenkinson, and Jack Mellany. They were the leaders of the Triad.
The Triad was probably the biggest secret in the United States of America. It's existence was only known to a number of select individuals, but everyone felt its effects. The Triad controlled tax regulations, federal laws, judicial decisions, military deployment, and, most importantly, elections. So, in short, they controlled everything the US government was supposed to control.
Of course, this level of control didn't develop overnight. No, it started back in the early eighteen-hundreds. Eighteen-oh-five, to be precise. In early December of that year, the three wealthiest and most influential families in the country at that time banded together to use that wealth and influence to direct this nation. They believed that a nation led by the common folk could only come to ruin, and it was up to the wealthy and educated to take charge of national affairs to prevent such a disaster.
And so they came together to make sure that the elite and the educated remained in power. They worked slowly, increasing their influence in increments. First, a town. Then, a county. Next came a state, and once that was under their control, they went after the nation as a whole. It took forty-three years before they had gained total power over the country, but once they had it, they never relinquished it.
Now, two-hundred years exactly after the families had first come together, they were holding their bicentennial celebration. All the relatives from every corner of the United States had traveled to Groom Lake for this. It was a matter of pride for the families, and no one wanted to disappoint. Except, that is, for John Mellany.
John was the eldest Mellany child, and should've been the family's representative on the Triad. But he had refused to have anything to do with what he considered to be a despicable organization. He had gone on to college based on his own accomplishments, not the influence of his family. He had gotten through law school based on his own accomplishments, and not the influence of his family. And he had gone on to become one of the most famous district attorneys of the time, again, without the help of his family's considerable influence.
Because of this, there was a degree of animosity between John and the rest of his family. John hated family gatherings because they forced him to smile and mingle with the perpetrators of the greatest fraud in the country. But there was no way he could avoid them. His family was very powerful, and he didn't want to cross them. At least, not any more than he already had. Not yet, anyway.
And so John Mellany sat at the table next to his younger brother, Jack, enduring this meal in brooding silence.
"Johnny," Jack finally said, addressing his silent brother, "you do know that loosening up and having a good time keeps your hair from turning gray. Or, in your case, it'll keep your hair from getting any grayer." There was a light chuckle from the others at the table. John took the joke as it was intended, and gave a small laugh as well. Despite their differing opinions on the Triad, Jack and John had always been close. In fact, with the exception of these family gatherings, no one else in his family would speak to him except Jack. John's younger brother had become one of his closest friends, and, ironically enough, also represented everything John despised.
Jack was rich and powerful. At the age of forty-three, he had long since become the new family "leader". That meant he was in charge of how they would use their money and their connections for the Triad. And, as Jack kept saying, his ability to relax and have a good time kept his hair brown. There wasn't a single gray hair on his head. John, though only four years older, had to look hard to find a single brown one.
But other than that, appearance-wise, the two brothers were a lot alike. They were both almost six feet tall and pale-skinned, and both could be quite charismatic when they wanted to. When they were younger, the two of them had dressed the same, and tried to get people to mistake one for the other. It had worked quite a few times before they finally got bored and gave it up.
"Well, Jack," John said in response to Jack's comment, "I hope you know that a thick head of gray hair represents wisdom and responsibility. Oh, but, seeing as how you lack both, I guess you wouldn't know about that." John didn't feel at all guilty for his nasty remark. Jack knew what John was referring to, and let out a soft sigh in response. John believed that people shouldn't just throw morality out the door just because they couldn't be punished for their actions, but Jack and the other Triad leaders seemed to feel differently.
"John," Jack told his brother solemnly, "you know how I feel about all that."
"I know how you claim to feel about all that," John countered. "And until your actions reflect your words, I will hold you personally responsible for everything that happens to those kids!" The room suddenly fell silent as Jack, Derrick, and Jake stared at John.
"How do you know about that?" Derrick demanded angrily, getting up from his chair and walking towards John. Though the man might be shorter than John, his heavy musculature more than made up for it. The guy could probably kill John with one punch.
"I'm a Mellany," John replied. "I may not want anything to do with your little political control machine, but that doesn't mean I don't keep tabs on what you're doing."
"Oh," Derrick said menacingly. "I see." The man took another few steps towards John. Sensing the approaching confrontation, Jack stood up in Derrick's path.
"Now, now, Derrick," he said soothingly. "He is a Mellany, and therefore is entitled to that information." Derrick clenched his fists, but recognized the subtle challenge in Jack's voice.
"I guess you're right," the other man said through clenched teeth before turning around and sitting back down. Jack did the same, and the mood slowly returned to the carefree state it had been in before.
- - -
In Harlem, New York, Ronald Richardson was led out of school by a man in a black suit. He'd been pulled out of his last class, and now this guy was leading him away from the school, and Ronald had no idea why. He wasn't a bad kid, even though he looked like he was on steroids. He was big kid, who's skills landed him a spot on his school's football team. Despite all of this, he was far from being a jock. In fact, he was known as the most mild-mannered kid in school. He'd never hit anyone in his life, outside of football, of course. He hated fighting, and especially hated the local gangs for the bad reputation they brought. Just because there were a few gangs in Harlem didn't mean that everyone there was a gangster, but people on the outside seemed to believe that. While he knew that not everyone was a racist, he'd run into quite a few people who seemed to think he was causing trouble just because of how he looked. More often than not, this would lead him to be blamed for something he didn't do. That's probably what's going on, Ronald thought. Someone did something bad, and now I'm gonna pay for it.
Finally, they stopped. The two of them had traveled so far from the school that Ronald couldn't even see it anymore. They were in a dark, back alley, filled with dumpsters that smelled like they hadn't been emptied in years.
"What are we doing here?" Ronald asked the guy, but the man was silent. Ron looked over at him just in time to see the man pull an IV needle out of his pocked. Ronald's eyes widened, and he started backing away. But another man in a suit jumped out of the shadows and grabbed a hold of him.
"No!" Ron shouted. "Help!!!!" But his cries fell on deaf ears, as no one came to his defense before the first man shoved the needle into his neck. Then, everything went black.
- - -
As the party drew to a close, Derrick Harren pulled Jack Mellany off to the side and slammed him up against the wall.
"How can you keep protecting him?" Derrick demanded.
"Because he's my brother," Jack replied furiously, breaking free of Derrick's grip. "And my best friend."
"He's also the greatest threat to the security of the Triad," Derrick hissed.
"Oh, are you so naïve to believe that John is the only person outside the Triad to know of its existence?" Jack asked. "There are probably dozens of powerful people out there who have figured it out."
"Of course there are," Derrick agreed. "But none of them have clearance to our most secret files or twenty-four hour access to Groom Lake. Jack, your brother despises everything we stand for, everything your family has helped build. And you're giving him the tools to destroy all of it."
"Even if he tried to stop us," Jack argued, "he'd fail. He may have a lot of power in New York City, but we have fare more power nation-wide. He can't beat us."
"Not yet," Derrick said, "but John is extremely resourceful. He'll find a way."
"No, he won't," Jack replied, taking a step towards Derrick. "And if you stopped pushing for these... experiments, I'm sure John would lay off a little." Derrick chuckled.
"Jack, you can't stand in the way of progress," Derrick told him. "This base... it's the symbol of our progression from a pseudo-mafia into a truly powerful organization. Knowledge is power, Jack, and these experiments will give us the greatest knowledge of all: the secrets of evolution."
"Creating genetic freaks doesn't unlock the secrets of evolution, Derrick," Jack said. "Torturing children doesn't give us power." Derrick just smiled.
"You'll see," he responded. "In the end, you'll see that I'm right about this." Then, he turned around, and walked away. Jack watched him go, wishing there was something he could do to stop what was already in motion.
- - -
In central Ohio, two men in black suits loaded a young, unconscious girl into the back of a black van. She was in her mid-teens, with blonde hair, hazel eyes, and the face of an angel. Her name was Jennifer Leni. That was all her abductors knew. They didn't care about anything else. The fact that she was a straight-A student, or that most people considered her to be the sweetest person they knew didn't matter. They had their orders, and they were carrying them out as quickly as possible.
And so the two men got into the front of the van and drove off. Their destination: Groom Lake, Nevada. They would take her there, and then they would be paid. That was all that mattered to them.
- - -
In Los Angeles, California, Robert Banks was led from his cell in the local prison by two armed men in black suits. They hadn't spoken a word since they came to get him, but Rob knew what they wanted. They were Feds, come to offer him some sort of government service in exchange for getting out of jail. But two to five years didn't bother him. In fact, the moment he got out, he'd probably be more infamous than he was when he got thrown in this joint.
Although only five foot one, his extensive musculature made him a formidable guy. His appearance and physical strength had helped him with his job; those bastard cops suffered more if they were terrified of the man beating them to a pulp before putting a bullet in their brains. His noble crusade against the LAPD had gone on for months, but, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and now he's locked up in juvie.
But, for some reason, these Feds were taking him away. Whatever they might want, though, Robert didn't really care. All he wanted was to get back to his cell and finish his sentence, not do any work for the government that had failed to protect his family.
Then, the two Feds led him outside. As in, out of the jail. Robert was shocked. This was the last thing he'd expected. He didn't think any sane Fed would take a convicted, violent felon out of jail. But, now that they had, he planned to make the most of it.
Before either Fed could react, Rob jerked free of their grip. He wrapped the chain of his handcuffs around the neck of one and twisted. As he let the body of that Fed fall to the ground, he turned to deal with the other one. But before he could take that one out, he felt something sharp pierce his neck. Then, everything went black.
- - -
Across the country, other kidnappings were going on. There was a list of eight individuals to transport to Groom Lake by any means necessary, and the Triad's lackeys were slowly moving through that list. Already, every single teenager had been incapacitated, and some were about to arrive at their destination. None of the slumbering captives had any idea what awaited them, for if they did, they would not have slept so peacefully. In Groom Lake, their lives would change, and not for the better.
- - -
In a lab deep within Groom Lake, Doctor Carey Williams prepared for his upcoming project. He was a graduate of Stanford Medical School, with more degrees than any of his classmates. With those skills, he thought he'd land a job on an experimental research program, but he never thought he'd get this lucky. Oh, yes, working for the Triad was the best job one could hope for in the field of medical research. With them, there was no such thing as an ethics committee, which left Carey free to do what was necessary. Doctor Joseph Mengele had done the same thing, and Carey hoped his discoveries would be just as ground-breaking. But, unlike Mengele, no one would know the methods Carey used to achieve his results, which meant that people wouldn't just ignore this new knowledge he was giving them out of moral outrage.
As Carey fine-tuned the device he had named the Genetic Altering Machine, he thought about what he would soon have the chance to do. He'd have live test subjects on his table, and with the G.A.M., he'd be able to make the largest breakthrough in the study of human evolution since Charles Darwin. Here, in this lab, he'd control evolution. He'd advance it. He'd adjust it. Here, he was god, and those kids were soon to be his children, both figuratively and actually, since his own son would be one of them.
Carey smiled at the thought that he'd be able to do this to his own son. When he'd first brought up the subject with young Burt, the child had been enthusiastic. Burt wanted to become more than human, to become powerful. Carey was offering him that chance, and Burt took it. Already, his son was on his way to Groom Lake, ready to begin the procedure. As for the others... well, they would come to appreciate what Carey was doing for them. That... or they would be disposed of.
End of Chapter I
A/N: Well, this is all I'm writing for now. Tell me what you think? Should I continue, or should I just abandon it? If I don't hear from you, I won't write more. So, until I receive some reviews, this is The Ascended Ancient, signing off.