Genius [jnys] (n. pl. gen·ius·es)
1. A person of extraordinary intellectual and creative power: 2. A strong natural talent, aptitude, or inclination: 3. The prevailing spirit or distinctive character, as of a place, a person, or an era
Donovan Montinique hadn't taught his son much, but if there was one thing Syxdien had leaned from studying the older man since he was very young, it was this:
The key to success - no matter in what form - is planning, researching and timing.
Contrary to what most people seemed to think, Syxdien wasn't dead. He was changed, reborn, unearthed, liberated, enlightened and chosen, but not dead. What had happened to him that fateful night two measly years ago had been many things, but a death-sentence it was not.
It had, however, given him an incredible mission. And some new, very interesting abilities.
Not even Syxdien himself could tell exactly what was going on, who was behind it or how he had been granted these abilities, but he was smart enough to know when to question things and when to simply go with the flow. This case was a good example of the later; he would do what was expected of him without asking questions, not because he was anybody's servant, but because his own goals lay very close to those expectations. So close, in fact, that it was an almost too prefect symbiosis. It was as if the culprit behind all this had found out everything there was to know about everyone, and then chosen him from a million candidates with outmost care, just to be certain that this mission reflected his character, belief and mental and physical perseverance to a T.
It was the most perfect example of researching and planning he had ever come across, and Syxdien couldn't have believed in its success more.
But there was one thing he had to do before he could move on to the only remaining stage: timing.
And that was figure out whether he was insane or not.
Because no matter how firmly your feet are planted on the ground or how real something seems; when an ethereal being which is invisible and unknown to everyone else invades your mind, body and soul and offers you unfathomable abilities in exchange for your eternal obedience and loyalty, you do start to question your sanity.
And that was why Syxdien Montinique was wandering the streets of Bangkok like a lonely, prowling wolf on this late December-evening.
A faint, cold wind swayed the dark leather trench coat he was wearing and made the bare skin of his face and hands feel like a thousand tiny needles were prickling it, but his shoes didn't stray from the calm, rhythmical taping against the ground. For all intense and purpose, he could have been out on a late night stroll, if it wasn't for the area he was in.
Bangkok was a beautiful, magical city in many ways. Its rich history, mixed culture and futuristic themes made it a sight to behold to anyone who visited it; and there were many visitors. But like all great cities (or just cities in general) it had its less pleasant areas. One such area was the one Syxdien was currently strolling through.
The shabby buildings of Bangkok's slum stood like judgemental shadows around the grey, seemingly endless road stretched out before him, and the sky appeared black and empty above. Very few migrated here at night, mostly because of the area's bad – but not unfounded – reputation. It was said to be full of thugs, prostitutes and drug dealers, most of which were just looking for a reason to approach and in one way or another rob unsuspecting visitors. This area was probably the scene of over fifty percent of the illegal activity in the city.
Syxdien didn't mind. As a matter of fact, it was for that very reason that he had come to this place. The chances of him getting attacked here were very high: he was counting on and looking forward to it.
But so far it had been a disappointing endeavour. For three hours he had been strolling around, looking for an appropriate subject to test his theory on, but so far he had only crossed paths with a few clingy hookers and a homeless man who seemed to have multiple personalities. Syxdien was starting to consider taking his business elsewhere; this was boring, and he had better things to do.
But either there really is something to the saying 'Third time's the charm', or he was just lucky, because sometime around midnight, he finally earned his pay.
Four scruffy-looking men with black leather-jackets and more piercings that necessary loitered by the opening to an alley, laughing, shouting and pushing each other around. They looked generally bothersome, and – as is often the case with troublemakers – quite young.
All in all: exactly what Syxdien had been looking for.
He was certain that if he had just passed them by, if he had averted his eyes and kept walking casually without paying any attention to the four men, they wouldn't have acknowledged or even noticed him; they were far too caught up in their own boisterous ways for that. If he had just kept walking, they wouldn't have done anything to prevent him from continuing on his not-so-merry way, despite their bad boy-image.
Syxdien didn't keep walking.
Instead, he headed straight for the alley they were casually guarding; his steps confident and unfaltering while the stolen trench coat fluttered dramatically behind him. The tallest of the four noticed him first, but the man – boy, really – only had time to raise an eyebrow before Syxdien walked straight into their little group, making sure to shove them as much as possible. He noted with mild satisfaction that one of them dropped his cigarette. Not looking back or caring about their outraged shouts, he continued into the passage, pleased to realize that it was a deep return path which ended with a brick wall.
It was very, very dark in there. The houses rose high around him on three sides, keeping any street-lights for illuminating the narrow passage. There were plenty of garbage cans and piles of rubbish in there, and it smelled unmistakably of rotten fish. It was probably teeming with stray-cats as well. The opening to the alley was like the light at the end of a dark, smelly, unpleasant tunnel, and Syxdien couldn't help but lament about the poetic irony of that analogy. It was almost a shame he didn't have anyone to share it with, even though he wasn't sure anyone else would appreciate it the way he did.
His four guinea-pigs hadn't followed him into the alley, but they were glaring at him from the opening, clearly ticked off by his disrespectful behaviour. They all looked typically Asian, with the dark hair and pale skin, but they really weren't any beauties. Their hair was greasy and unkempt, their features lacking the perfect symmetry needed to achieve attractiveness, and two of them seemed to have a very bad case of acne.
Syxdien thought it would almost be a pleasure to rid the world of these ones.
An aggressive comment in Thai was thrown at him. Syxdien didn't understand it, but from the tone he guessed it was something along the lines of: 'What is your problem?' or 'You wanna mess with me?' or something equally cocky. He said nothing. Merely folded his arms, struck a casual pose and stared at them. Unblinking, he met all their gazes one after another. It was a blatant challenge.
Come now: don't be shy.
This was a crucial part of the experiment. Syxdien knew things could go one of two ways from here: they could either be intimidated by his obvious display of strength and leave after shooting him a few nasty glares, or they could accept the challenge.
And since they were four boisterous young men who grew confident within the safety of their pack, and obviously not the brightest crayons in the box, they chose the later. Just as Syxdien had predicted they would.
Again, one of them spoke up, this time in even more of a growling bark (or was it barking growl) than before, and then he stepped into the alley, followed closely by his three companions. The darkness closed around them like a shroud, but none of them seemed to notice in their quest to teach this stranger a lesson. Closer they stomped, with threatening, self-assured steps. Syxdien could make out their angry, faintly glinting eyes in the darkness every now and then. He heard knuckles crack as they readied themselves for a clash which was never going to happen. At least not in the form they thought it would.
It struck Syxdien how stupid these characters actually were. He was a lone stranger without any weapons or means of defending himself who had willingly challenged four men with violent tendencies to a fight, and then lured them into a dark alleyway where nobody would be able to see the fight and come to his aid. Was it really that hard to figure out that something wasn't quite right here? Were they truly so moronic that they didn't grow the least bit suspicious of this situation?
Suddenly he came to think of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. He realized that this was an excellent example of it:
Those not strong, smart or fit enough are wiped out in favour of those who are; he thought pensively. Oh, how true.
Because unless he truly was out of his mind and this was all an illusion, these four insignificant creatures were going to die tonight.
They were closing in on him now, moving in a half circle as if feeling the need to trap him. It was probably instinct; Syxdien reckoned they had cornered more than one person like this before. Interesting to witness though, how much predator some people still had in them; himself included. He could feel the adrenaline rise within: his heart pumping faster, his breath deepening and his senses growing much sharper, not from fear or even excitement, but from the sheer intensity of the situation.
And offensive fist, attached to an even more offensive thug, attacked from the left but only struck thin air. Syxdien dodged with all the agility and reflexes of a feline at the exact right moment, and before his victim knew it, he had grabbed his wrist and punched the elbow with his free hand. The junction broke clean in half, and the arm bent upwards at a very unnatural angle.
The first howl of pain filled the alley. A body crumbled to the ground. Three more stared in horrified fascination through the darkness. And Syxdien hadn't even gotten started yet.
The tallest of the four thugs was the closest one now, and thus took on the role of next victim. A low kick brought him down hard on his back and tore the breath out of his lungs before he had even realized what was going on. Then another kick, this one an elegant arch from above with the heel first, struck his solar plexus ruthlessly.
There was no scream this time. He didn't have the air for it. Two left.
It was about now that it sunk in to the remaining boys what was going on, and apparently they decided that they wouldn't take this like lambs sent to slaughter. One of them, the biggest and burliest, if Syxdien's eyes weren't playing tricks on him in the non-existent light, produced a tiny pocket knife and held it in front of him as if it had been the most vicious of weapons. Syxdien was unimpressed, and he remained so even when the man threw himself at him, slashing at him with a lot of ardour but not very much skill. A dodge, a twist, a punch and the blade had transferred smoothly into his own hand. It wasn't until now that Syxdien realized the knife was also a lighter, and he had to compliment the finesse.
They attacked at the same time now; one from each side, obviously convinced that he wouldn't be able to handle a double attack. Syxdien did a perfect back-flip – trench and all – and upon landing in a crouched position he just had time to flip the lighter open (the actual opening being located at the end of the knife-handle), produce a small flame and transfer it into his free hand. Then they were on him again and he barely had time to do an evasive somersault so that he would end up behind them, before delivering a spinning kick to one neck and a flame covered punch to the other. They went down like trees with a low groan each.
He remained rigid for a moment, estimating whether or not they would be getting up again, and when they didn't, he straightened and looked around.
The alley was encased in a warm, golden glow that came from the fire which was still burning like a torch around his clenched fist without actually hurting the skin. Syxdien ignored this incredible phenomenon for the moment in favour of a much more pressing matter.
Three losers lay scattered across the ground in various positions: the two he had just taken down had their faces buried in a garbage pile, out like lights as far as he could see. The tallest one had passed out where he had been kicked down, obviously from lack of oxygen after the hit to his torso.
But the one whose arm Syxdien had broken was slowly trying to make his way towards the opening…
The lad held himself upright solely by leaning on a wall. His legs were shaking like leafs and his breath nothing but uneven, pained, frightened sobs. He was so focused on getting out of there that he didn't even notice when the fire that had been illuminating the whole alley went out behind him. Understandable, considering he had almost reached the light seeping through the narrow opening; he was almost there…
…When a merciless hand closed down on his neck from behind and wrenched him backwards to the side. He accidentally hit the ground on his broken arm, and another scream ripped its way up his lungs, through his throat and mouth. For a moment the world dispersed in a fog of pain and fear which he desperately tried to fight his way out of, and when he finally managed to focus on something again, he scrambled backwards instinctively and felt a new dizziness overcome him.
The demon that had done this to him was kneeling right in front of him, studying him with a completely passive face but intensely glowing black eyes.
"Kho rong…" Syxdien didn't need to know his language to realize what the desperate sob entailed. The poor boy was paralyzed and helpless. There was an impenetrable wall digging into his back and the Devil in front of him. He was well and truly trapped. "Please…"
Syxdien didn't say anything; didn't do anything. He remained in the same position for several long minutes; a cold, frightening statue in a dark, damp alleyway. And slowly – as nothing happened, as no movements were detected, as no words were spoken – a tiny sliver of hope found its way into his victim's hazy mind. A thought popped up; a thought, a belief, that if he was just quick enough; if he just chose the right moment and surprised his executioner… he might even get out of here.
Then the boy realized he was sinking.
The ground, though still solid, was pulling him down; down into the concrete, down into the grovel beneath, down to a grave from hell, which nobody would ever realize was even there; down down, down, down!
"T-tai laeo!" He yelled and tried to scramble to his feet. Syxdien calmly reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder, pressing him to the ground with inhuman strength. "Tai laeo!Kho rong!Tai laeo!Tai laeoTai laeoTai laeoTai laeoTAI LAEO!"
Sinking faster now: the concrete was dissolving to better accommodate him. Before he knew it his legs had disappeared completely in wet, cold cement, and even though his chances of getting up had disappeared because of that, Syxdien kept pressing him downwards. All with the same silent, coldly focused stare.
As anyone would have in such a situation, he began to fight. Not caring if it worsened the condition of his smarting, broken arm – it wouldn't matter anyway if he died like this and oh please don't let me die like this! – he tried to pry the hand off of his shoulder, but it wouldn't budge. He tried to scream, but then Syxdien merely raised his other hand, which had been resting casually on his thigh until now, and grabbed his jaws; effectively sealing his mouth shut even as the muffled, half-choked shouts continued desperately. He tried to find some form of leverage with his buried feet by kicking them around, but it was as if they were enveloped by unusually thick, bottomless water. He tried to punch the man, but Syxdien merely caught his fist and stuck it in the melting concrete. And while Syxdien could pull his hand back up without a problem, his arm remained firmly stuck.
And. He. Was. Still. SINKING!
Up to his chest now. His broken arm was also enveloped and it was so cold and wet and unbelievable.
I don't want to die!
Soon closing around his throat like a too large, too tight choker. Terrifying and becoming harder to breathe, let alone speak. His pleas died away as his lungs collapsed under the pressure of solid stone.
The cement was filling his mouth now. It had an ability to make his tongue stick to his gum, and the cold, bitter taste made every instinct in his body scream wrongwrongwrong. One last pleading look into Syxdien's unwavering eyes; filled with so much horror, so much regret… so much pain.
But Syxdien merely put a hand on top of his head – like some sick parody of a priest's blessing – and with one final push, the boy was pressed all the way down; the soulful eyes disappeared, not a single hair could be seen anymore. Syxdien pulled his hand back up, and it was completely clean; there wasn't a trace of cement on his fingers.
He didn't waste any time dwelling upon this. Sounds from behind his back made him turn around, only to find that the two he had decked last had woken up. They sat huddled against the brick-wall on top of the garbage pile, incredibly wide eyes fixed upon him. One pair was darting between him and the alley-opening, but their bodies were too paralyzed by disbelief and pure, unadulterated fear to move a single muscle.
There was no doubt about it: they had seen what he could do. And also realized what a tricky situation they were in.
Syxdien's expression became faintly thoughtful for a moment as he studied the two huddled figures. They reminded him a lot of small, frightened children, which made him wonder if this was what true fear was like: if everybody are children in the face of unwanted death. Then he reached into his jacket-pocket and produced the lighter/knife. He had put it there before taking care of the first one. Now he flipped it open once more, lit it and pressed the flame to his palm.
A much larger, torch-like fire grew around his whole hand. He turned it this way and that, scrutinizing it carefully with every movement. Angry red, yellow and orange licked at his skin without hurting it; even the specs of blue one can always see at the very root of a flame was there, but all he could feel was a pleasant warmth in the cold night-air. The light played on his features and cast long, pitch black shadows all over the alley. The men in the corner continued to cower.
Syxdien walked up to them with long but calm steps. They could follow his every move very clearly; each and every flutter of his coat, each straw of the trailing ponytail, each slightly laboured breath… and yet neither of them even thought about moving. Like some predators have the ability to almost hypnotize their catch, Syxdien had them completely charmed.
A few more steps and he crouched down; holding the burning hand in between them and himself as if he was merely a small school-boy who was trying to show his friends something interesting he had found in the yard.
For a moment everything was still except the flickering flame.
Then one victim, incredibly psyched by the stalemate since he had witnessed the demise of his friend, broke down and lunged forward.
Lightning-fast, Syxdien slammed the fire-hand to his face, grabbed his friend by the throat and resolutely pushed them both against the wall. The force behind the blow cracked the back of their heads open, but this knowledge took a backseat to the fact that palms were pressing against their nostrils and mouths and tracheas, preventing any kind of breathing. Both grabbed and clawed at Syxdien's wrists, legs kicking wildly while they tried to scream, tried to resist, tried to save their sensitive skin from the unbearable burning fire and free their throats to take breath. Their violent thrashing made injured skulls drag across rough stone; tearing them open further. Red coated and striped the bricks.
But Syxdien was unrelenting; completely and utterly merciless, and still absolutely silent.
Naturally, it was the one whose features he was roasting that stopped struggling first. He was being strangled, burned alive, and getting his head crushed at the same time, and a human body can only take so much. Shock made his movements weaker and more sluggish, and pain, combined with lack of air, stopped them completely within seconds. He slumped against the wall as Syxdien let him go, and the executioner was careful not to look at the charred remains of his face: it was a sight he knew he wouldn't enjoy.
The other followed his friend into the afterlife within moments. He was easier to look at, since the only thing really wrong with his face were the dead eyes and the look of absolute terror on his face.
Syxdien rose slowly on legs which were shaking, and he panted as if he had been running for days without rest. He was a little surprised at that, since he knew that his physical health was well above average. But he decided to shrug it off for now: his mind was taken up with far more pressing matters, such as awe at his own abilities… and curiosity at what more he could do.
He wanted to see this experiment through to the end.
Taking a few steps back from the bodies, he fixed them with a concentrated stare and made sure to visualize exactly what it was he wanted to happen. An unspoken order travelled through his entire body like a cold shiver all the way down to his feet, where it seemed to continue out into the ground at a dangerous speed.
Apparently, practice do make perfect, because within ten seconds, the ground opened up beneath the corpses and, much like their companion earlier, only faster, the two were swallowed up by it. Garbage tumbled down as well, but once the bodies were completely gone the crack closed up again, leaving a blood-splattered wall and a small, barely noticeable rift where they had moments earlier met their terrible end. Such trivial details would surely pass unnoticed in the small, filthy space until rain washed the blood away and more filth covered the rift.
There was only one left now.
The last man was still unconscious, Syxdien noticed as he walked over to stand above him like a vicious grim reaper. He didn't particularly care about that, though; if anything, it would make his experiment easier since the specimen didn't have a chance to fight him like the others did. It was probably best this way: unlike his friends, this boy wouldn't feel any pain.
Once more he focused on what he wanted to happen, and a reaction came much sooner this time. For a moment something seemed to flash white before his eyes, and then a thunderous roar split the air as a huge stone-spike shot up from the concrete and impaled the man. He didn't even wake up; only gave one last breath which sounded almost like a moan of pain, and then he went limp and lifeless forever.
Syxdien actually raised an eyebrow as he watched the body hang in an unnatural arch on the spear, with arms spread wide on either side of it and eyes closed in what looked like a very uncomfortable sleep. Blood ran in generous floods from the mouth and down the stone where it had impaled his lower back: painting it in very beautiful patterns. It was almost artistic… in a twisted way.
That was undoubtedly his favourite method.
As a stark contrast to the speed at which it had emerged from the ground, the spike slowly sunk back down into it, taking the broken, bleeding body with it and leaving behind no traces of what had just transpired.
Then Syxdien was alone.
He raked his eyes over everything: from the chipped walls to the trashcans to the smallest pebbles on the ground, and even the sky above. He studied the alley-opening and listened closely for any sounds of sirens or shouting or running or even just someone breathing. Nothing but his own strangely erratic and irregular heartbeats reached his ears, so it appeared as though the entire ordeal had passed completely unnoticed. Which was surprising, but still very welcome.
Suddenly his legs gave out on him.
Tumbling backwards against the bricks with a surprised grunt, Syxdien would have slid down into a sitting position if it hadn't been for his own iron will. The ground promptly tilted beneath his feet and the walls spun around each other as if they were dancing some kind of hyped up waltz; making his stomach's content bubble disgustingly. At the same time as his lungs and heart tried to rip themselves out of his chest, each muscle vibrated with the effort of simply staying together, and a violent headache exploded behind his eyes, making them throb as if ready to pop out of their sockets. It felt as if someone had painted the insides of his nostrils and eardrums with caustic acid, because they were burning unbearably.
Syxdien raised a hand to his face in an attempt to soothe the throbbing, but pulled it back when something warm and wet smeared over his fingers and cheeks. Even in the poor light he could see it glistening ruby red.
It appears as though I am bleeding from my nose, eyes and ears, he remarked mentally. And indeed; when he pulled his tongue over his lips, he felt a metallic flavour dribble into the seam of his mouth. Something equally warm ran down his earlobes, jaw and the sides of his neck like fat, unnatural raindrops, leaving cooling and ticklish tracks in its wake.
This was… an unexpected turn of events.
He studied his blood-coated fingers for a while as he took notice of all the unpleasant reactions his body was going through, and then Syxdien finally pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and dried off the soiled hand. He left his face untouched though; partly because he knew the liquid would only smear even worse, and partly because he wanted to see how long it would take to stop bleeding on its own.
A few more minutes were spent trying to catch his breath, and then he got into an upright position again. He had to lean against the wall, but he still managed – albeit slowly – to stagger out of the alley and make his way down the street towards his hideout: determined not to give in to his weakness again until he was in a safe place. He was pretty sure a normal person would have needed serious medical attention by now, but then again: he was not normal.
Syxdien felt terrible: shaking, hurting, dizzy, faint… and yet he couldn't help but think that this had been an extremely rewarding evening. Not only had he explored the boundaries of his potential; oh no, he had also, without a doubt, gotten an answer to his main question. This had not been an illusion: it had been very much real. Unbelievably real.
Which meant he was definitely not insane.