This is a work of original fiction meant for entertainment purposes only.
Taylor sighed as she stared at her daughter still mourning in front of Marcus' statue.
"You see," she asked her mother.
"Yes," Faye, as she was currently calling herself, murmured.
Very few of the people around them just now knew she was once called Myrlyn. The de facto leader of the Crusaders, who had ravaged the nation for years as one of the most destructive criminal bands in history.
In the end, it was simply a lark for her.
Something to pass time.
Because Faye was genuinely immortal.
Tuned into the quantum field to an unimaginable degree, she could manipulate its energies so well that most once deemed her a true sorceress. Something Taylor had only recently learned, and was still trying to understand.
These days, Faye hid her seemingly magical abilities behind the mask of a mere Powered among Powereds.
In fact, she was far more.
"Tell me everything," Faye told her youngest daughter, the only truly good that came out of her short, and often annoying relationship with Robert Strickland, known far more infamously as Divergent.
A man who had recently tried to literally sell out his own planet to flesh-eating aliens.
Even Faye had standards, and that crossed those standards.
To be honest, she was also quite impressed with Marcus Winters, who had toyed with her husband's beliefs that he was his own natural son, born of once raping a now retired Powered heroine named Strata. Even she wasn't sure, but the boy, in the end, denied it.
Vehemently, from what she heard.
Still, the truth had died with Marcus. For not even his body was recoverable in the end after he faced down a threat that had menaced all of Camelot had the unstable creature reached the school. To save the school, Marcus had given his life.
Taylor, once the villainess called Vixen, noted for sometimes bloody mischief, now simply worried over her own daughter.
Tara had become almost spiritless of late, as if Marcus' death had somehow robbed her of something.
Faye had seen such devotion before now. She had seen how it often ended, too. It always saddened her.
"Even I cannot bring back the dead," Faye finally told her still lovely daughter, her red curls currently knotted in a severe bun that was very unlike her.
"I know. But…. I've heard some of the others wondering if he truly did die? He was rather powerful, mother. And well beyond clever. If there is any chance….? Any hope….."
"I see. Still, you're speaking of finding a needle in a haystack. If the boy had any failsafe, he obviously pulled it off without anyone being the wiser. Still, if he had, wouldn't he have returned?"
"I also heard he was badly hurt just before…..the explosion. If there is a chance he's still out there. For Tara's sake. I'm asking you to find out, mother. I know we've had our issues, but…."
"Taylor," Faye sighed, and smiled blandly at her, neither of them hardly the sort to resort to physical comforts like hugging. "No promises, but I'll try. That's all I can say, though. If he were caught in an exploding quantum bubble…."
"I know. Only I keep asking myself. Is Marcus really the type to have gone down that easily?"
"And what do you answer?"
Taylor just eyed her mother with a grim expression.
"You tell me."
"Touché," Faye smiled. "He did strike me as a rather clever young man,"
"Did," Taylor asked.
"Did. Does. Tense hardly matters just now. I shall ponder the problem. Meanwhile, perhaps you might try comforting your daughter. Before the gulf betwixt you grows as wide as our own," she added pointedly.
"Yes," Faye asked, about to turn away.
"We are still family, my girl. In the end, blood is all that matters in this world. Even your witless father almost got that right. Slightly," she allowed.
Taylor smiled at that, and before she could blink, Faye was gone.
To someone that could travel the quantum field, that was hardly a surprise to her now. Taylor had to admit that she was somewhat envious she wasn't born with such power, but her mother kept claiming it had little to do with genetics.
If that were the truth, then how did that foolish, and murderous girl end up overloaded with quantum energies that not only destroyed her, but her daughter's own true love?
There was a question there, and Taylor trusted her instincts too much to ignore it. Perhaps it was time to talk to someone about her recent, and growing misgivings.
Starting with her daughter.
Robert stared at the equations before him, and shook his head.
"No. It's no better than the last Powered brat we used. You saw what happened to her," the felon once called Divergent swore at his reptilian ally as he turned away from the computers that filled the small room where they worked.
"You simply overloaded her cells….."
"No, no, no," Robert swore. "The energy flow was well within safe parameters. It reacted to her Powered gene, and exponentially exploded. We cannot risk a repeat of that failure."
"You have plenty of other specimens to use," the reptile sneered.
"Specimens that leave a trail. And eventually a path back to us. We might have duped the authorities this time, giving them a simple rogue in their eyes, but if too many of these failures cross certain paths, they will find out where they came from," Robert spat in disgust, and threw down the electronic tablet he was holding with the latest failure. "They will certainly be asking about them."
"If the traitor from our past managed to somehow empower your species, then we, who are far more developed than our ancient kindred, should be able to do better. We just need…."
"Need time. So I keep hearing," he swore, but his mind was really still on Marcus.
On his treacherous son.
Was he really dead?
They had even built a statue to him, for God's sake. A statue. As if he were some ridiculous war hero. He had seen the equally ridiculous ceremony on the television, and couldn't help but scoff at the sentiment that gushed from even the hardened reporters.
Marcus was no more than a wet-behind-the-ears kid that knew nothing of the world, or greater realities. He was an idiot deceived by the current power structures.
He didn't know.
He didn't see the threats coming that Robert had.
Before, when his mind still worked properly.
Now, as intelligent as he seemed compared to those around him, human, or alien, he still couldn't quite manage the mental leaps he had performed so easily as Divergent.
Whatever that boy had done to him had changed him. Robbed him of his powers. Shut down his evolved genetics. Worse, it had closed his mind.
All the research to date, and all his experiments, had only yielded failure.
When the reptilian scientist recommended accessing outside power sources to stimulate certain genes, he had hoped they had a means of restoring his former might. Seven, now eight dead specimens later, and all they knew for certain was that overloading the Powered gene always brought death.
So how had Marcus managed it?
How had he managed to turn to a handful of plebian children into demigods?
There had to be a way, and he simply needed to find it. If Marcus could do it, he could do it, too.
He supposed it would be too much to ask his wife for aid.
That willful bitch had laughed in his face the last time she had seen him.
He had given her life. Purpose. A role in his world. And what did she do? Spurn him for a chance to go straight?
Well, he would teach her a lesson, too.
In time, he would teach the entire world a lesson.
If they survived what was coming.
If only he could remember what it was. Meanwhile, they needed a new system to test their serums on, or even the dimwitted authorities were going to figure things out before they could succeed.
Perhaps, he mused, he could sample the local schools.
No, why think small? He would sample entire regions, and gain a far superior sampling of available genetics.
Yes, that was it, he decided. Now, how to approach the matter?
"That's what I'm thinking," Taylor told William Myers, also known as the Mentalist. "You can do your brain zap, or whatever, if you want to test me. Find out if I'm deluding myself, or….."
"No, Mrs. Wilde, I believe you. And I think you are right. Something else is going on beyond what we have seen. I was already pondering that girl's power, since I have never met, or heard of any Powered that could so easily access the quantum field on such a scale."
"So, I might be right? Someone is experimenting on Powereds?"
"It might help our case if we had a body to test, but based on your instincts, and my own misgivings, I'm considering that someone out there is trying to play with the Powered gene," the head of Camelot scowled bleakly.
"They wouldn't be the first," she sighed.
"No. And I'm afraid the list is too long to even try to narrow down as yet. I'd keep this to myself for now, though. Unless you want to draw their attention?"
"That's why I came to you," Taylor told him.
"Smart," he nodded. "I have a few contacts I can use to…..discreetly investigate the more official venues. I do know several of them wanted Marcus' genes for reasons of their own. I suggest you lay low, and keep your own eyes, and ears open. I don't think it's too coincidental that the girl was aimed at us in the end," he pointed out.
"Listen, I know I've always been the bad girl type, but….."
"Your offer is appreciated. I hope we won't need you. Still, you might be valuable just laying low, and…..listening," William told her with a nod.
"Okay. Just….keep me in the loop would you? Tara's really taken all this hard, and if she finds out someone might have targeted Camelot, or Marcus…."
William scowled, and pointed.
"My dear, I believe she likely already knows," he said knowingly as he indicated the potted plant in the corner of his office.
"Oh, dear. I'd better go talk to her," she said, and left the office without hesitating.
"When were you going to tell me," Tara demanded hotly when Taylor ran into her daughter before she got halfway across the Commons.
"I was going to talk to you….."
"Before, or after you talked to everyone else? Tell me the truth, mom. Do you know what happened? Do you know anything about…..who did this to Marcus," she demanded furiously.
"Amp down, sweetie, and I'll tell you what I know," she told her daughter, adding, "Although, I'm guessing you likely already overheard most of it."
"Tara," a tall, stocky boy sauntered over to ask, "You okay?"
Taylor didn't miss the look he gave her. She had no doubt it was one of her teammates.
"Fine, Larry," she told her teammate better known as Hydro now. "Mom was about to tell me who was behind Marcus' death," she spat.
"Wait. You saying…?"
"I don't feel it was an accident. My instincts have already kept me alive, young man. Right now, they're screaming something is very wrong with the big picture. Very wrong. First point of evidence, since when did any Powered manifest quantum energies?"
"They don't," Eric Collins, AKA Data remarked as he walked up behind them, proving to Taylor that her friends were keeping a close eye on her daughter. That actually made her feel better. "They may access the quantum field, manipulating certain energies, but no human can manifest pure quantum energy."
"And you are?"
"A friend," Eric smiled as he glanced around, not about to use his codename out of uniform. "And I'm smart enough to know that as I said, while some Powereds may access the quantum energies around us, they never actually manifest them. Or infuse them. The human body simply isn't capable of withstanding that kind of energy."
"No, it isn't," Taylor murmured, wondering not for the first time about her mother.
"So, your gut says our buddy was murdered," Jake Collins asked, eyeing Eric who was not, as some thought, related.
"My gut says we're missing something big, and that that girl never manifested with those powers. Someone gave her that power, and it tore her apart," Taylor told them.
"So, someone is experimenting with Powereds again," Jake murmured quietly, his Tank persona only a blink away if necessary.
"It would seem so, since it's blatantly obvious that girl was not born with that kind of power. She would have died years ago from the strain of containing such powers," Eric realized.
"We have to find out what's going on," Tara said grimly. "It's what Marcus would do."
"Yes. The obvious thing to do first is backtrack the girl herself. Find out where she originated, and if any other….mysterious events have been occurring around her origin point," Eric stated.
"Good idea. We sniff around, we might find out what's going on…."
"Let's talk to Alex," Tara said. "That new kid was working with Marcus. He was there, too. He'll know whatever Marcus knew about her."
"He'll be in the lab at this hour," Eric told her. "Mind-Bender is always in the labs every chance he gets."
"Let's go," Tara said.
"Suit up first," Jake suggested. "Sounds like this may get official fast," he pointed out.
"All right. All right, and Eric, call everyone in. The whole team. If they could create something like that…..bitch, who knows what else is waiting out there," Tara grimaced now, but looked more focused, and even angrier than ever.
"Point taken," the young man nodded back.
"There is no way I'm letting you go into this one alone. I told your dean I'd lay low, but if you kids are going to….."
"Kids," Jake huffed, pausing to glare back at her.
"You know what I mean, young man," she chided him. "I'm going with you if you take off on some hunt. I'm not that rusty, and I might be able to help you figure this one out."
"Your choice. But not in costume," Tara told her.
"Honey, I told you, Vixen is retired. This is your mother, worried about her…..daughter," she smiled. "And let's face it, you may have the power, but I've got a lot more experience. I might be able to tap into some….old sources, too. Find out if this is coming from their direction."
"Okay. Okay. Meet us in the Commons in…..fifteen," Tara told her. "Eric. Go. Jake, let's get ready."
The two teens nodded at their teammate, and both couldn't help but smile.
For the first time in weeks, their friend was coming back to life. It didn't matter why, so long as she was going to be okay. If they got to take out someone that might have been behind Icon's death, that was just gravy.
Faye stood in the middle of a charred, devastated forest.
Behind her, the cratered road was still being repaired, and a temporary road bypassed the hole in the earth left by Icon's last stand.
She walked around, circling the area herself, but looking at nothing.
She wasn't looking for anything that might be found on the physical realm.
She was using other senses. Other abilities.
She stopped suddenly, walking back toward the road now, and stopping just shy of the cratered earth.
"Here," she murmured, holding out both hands that began to glow slightly. "I know that trace," she said as she began to rise into the air as a glowing circle of light formed beneath her feet to lift her. "Someone was definitely channeling raw quantum force."
She looked up, and kept going, higher and higher into the clear, blue sky that stretched out over the mostly pristine countryside.
"Pretty stupid really. Human flesh can't contain that kind of power. Not the way she must have used it. So, she was either stupid, or….."
She paused, and looked around.
She felt a nagging trace, and felt the rush of the quantum bubble that had burst just over her head. Then, she felt something else.
She looked up, and frowned.
"If the girl only exploded laterally, what went up," she murmured, and fixed her eyes on the sky above. Just before she smiled.
Then she vanished as if she were never there.
To Be Continued…