This is a work of original fiction meant for entertainment purposes only.
"He's alive," Icon spat as Gaia found him deep in a tunnel that they found leading from the lab.
"Divergent? How can you be….?"
He held up Divergent's own mask that had been dropped in the tunnel, likely while the man had fled the chaos of his own making.
"He's alive," he echoed, and fisted that mask.
"I'm sorry, Marcus," Gaia told him, and reached out to cover his knotted fist with her hands. "But none of this is your fault."
"Yes, it is. I let him escape. I let him go twice. Twice," he spat.
"Bro," Lycan padded up behind them. "We aren't executioners. We just catch them…."
"This isn't a bank robber, or common felon," Icon cut his friend off. "This is a monster that sold his race out to alien carnivores, and destroyed countless lives even before turning loose an even greater monster on the world. One that will likely not be held as long as Enigma likes to think," he spat.
"We can hope…."
"Hope," Icon spat. "Hope that Nellie keeps it out there? Buried at sea? While she is stuck inside that thing's belly while they try to digest one another? I promised to help her," he said, and choked off his own words as he shook his head.
"Marcus, I know. And maybe….maybe you can figure something out. I know you, you won't quit," Gaia told him. "Still, at least we're all safe for the time being, and we have time for you to think. That's something. Don't you think?"
Marcus pulled off his mask, and held it up in his other hand now as he considered the similarities yet again.
"I'm just tired," he finally said, and let her embrace him.
"Let's go home, Marcus. I think you just need to rest. So let's just go home."
Marcus didn't argue as she called Door.
Enigma reappeared in his room, and sank onto his bed. He pulled off his visor, and mask, and just stared blankly.
Slowly, but imperceptivity, tears brimmed in his eyes, and he shook his head, but didn't wipe them away.
"Adam," his mother gasped, walking into his room. "Greg said you were ba…. Adam?"
"I think I'm turning into a monster, mom," he choked out as he looked to her. "Am I?"
"What are you talking about," she asked, going to sit beside him.
"I just damned a girl to a living death," he told her. "It was the logical thing to do. The expedient thing to do. But was it right," she was asked. "Or was I…. Is this it? Will my Blight's nature start taking over now? Am I…..? Am I…..going to be…?"
"You're no monster, son," Samantha Knight told him as she moved to sit by him, and hugged him. "You just have stayed so busy, worked so hard, that you're forgetting you're still human. You need to rest. To relax. Go see your friends. No costume. No work. Just be a kid. Have fun for a change. Okay?"
"I…. I don't know if I want to do this anymore," he told her quietly. "I don't know I can."
"You'll find your own way," the former heroine told her. "Just like all of us did. It's your choice, Adam. But never think you're alone, son. Never think you're a monster, either. You're my son, and you're very much human. If you weren't, this wouldn't be upsetting you so much," she smiled, and kissed his cheek. "Now, change, and go have some fun. That's an order."
Adam smiled weakly.
"I still…. That girl was as much a victim as any other," he said. "Icon was right. But I still…used her."
"I know you, Adam. You did what had to be done. Sometimes, that's the hardest thing any hero will face. Anyone that thinks living with that is easy doesn't understand what being a hero is about."
"Your mother is right, Adam," Owen said as he appeared in the door. "I saw far too many so-called heroes that could do far worse, and never bat an eye. Some of them actually lived for the fight without caring about collateral damage. Smart as you are, though, you still have a lot to learn. Your mother is right, though," he added. "This is your decision. We can't make it for you. Just know….whatever you decide," the man smiled at his admittedly unique son, "We are already proud of you."
"I thought you hated me being an Intern."
"Well, let's just say I still have a low opinion of most heroes," he grumbled, "And leave it there."
"Most," Samantha asked him blandly.
"I said most," Owen Knight sputtered. "So don't start on me."
Adam gave a faint smile, and stood up.
"Besides, I know you, son," Samantha hugged him before he rose. "You won't let it go. If there is a way to help, you'll be out there again. Just as I was before I found a new cause," she smiled, and walked over to join her husband.
"You mean making dad miserable," he now asked teasingly as he pressed a button on his gauntlet, and his costume vanished to be replaced with his usual wardrobe.
"How did you….?"
"Oh, a new molecular transfer module," he told his father, and only then roughly wiped his face with a palm. "It was more efficient than rushing to change clothes every time I got a call," Adam said blandly.
"I think a lot of heroes, and even firemen would love that one," Owen mused. "Think of the potential income from….."
"Dad," he sputtered. "I didn't build the module to get rich quick," he sputtered.
"Does your team have it," Samantha asked him.
"Well, no. But Jody was asking if I could modify her uniform…."
"Go talk to her. Go see your friends now. And remember what I said. Remember to relax, and have fun, son," Samantha told him as he headed for the door.
Adam nodded, but as he left the house, he couldn't help but remember the horror in Icon's tone as he almost assaulted him back there.
"Victims," he murmured, and walked down the street, deciding to take his time about getting anywhere. After all, he still had a lot to think about just then.
Marcus sat rigidly in a chair, once again wearing his red Icon uniform with the mask fully in place just then as the four men in full military uniform glared at him as Dean Meyers, and several men in suits stood around him.
"Do you have anything else to say," the ranking general demanded as he glowered at him in the small conference room where he had been called upon his return to Camelot.
William had tried to warn him what was waiting, but Marcus just changed into his old costume, and then boldly walked into the room, and sat down.
Even the improved Mentalist's skills couldn't crack Marcus' shields just then, but the resolve on his grim visage told him that Marcus had not come to be lambasted here, and things were about to get very uncomfortable. He suspected Ghost knew that, too, because the government liaison was lagging behind the other agents, and looking almost as grim as Marcus as he seemed to be anticipating trouble from the way he looked from William to Marcus, and back.
"Well," the officer spat.
Marcus slowly stood up, and eyed the men around him.
"I am starting to wonder who the real threats to humanity are around here," Marcus finally spoke.
"Icon," Marcus snapped at the suit that had spoken up. "And you will listen to me now. I warned you again and again, and you still let Divergent escape. I warned you from the very start, and you still let those alien survivors escape, and multiply. Then you let them unite, and forge a weapon that will likely threaten us all again before it is over. If you had listened…."
"You are not the one that decides what is best of this nation. Then there is the unauthorized break-in at NRH holding. As to the quantum infused entities you are still harboring…."
"Enough," Icon roared, and the very air shook as his eyes shimmered with barely restrained energies.
William tensed, and guessed without difficulty that Marcus had evolved beyond even his own inestimable levels if what he suspected were true.
Icon glared at the men, rose from his chair, and took a step forward, and William was not too surprised that almost every man there took a step backward.
Even as they did, a score of costumed teens entered the room, and moved to bracket Icon as they all eyed the men that had come to Camelot with a lot of armed backup.
"I have warned you, too, gentlemen. Camelot is not yours to command. I am not yours to command. Divergent is still out there, and now armed with the ability to use quantum energy as a weapon. In your own ambition, you let hundreds, if not more die. With future victims likely growing even more numerous. I'll tell you this only once, so listen well."
"You have no right…."
"I said listen," he barked, his this time wisps of fluttering energy escaped his glittering eyes, and Gaia stepped forward, and put a hand on his shoulder.
He eyed her, and nodded. Then slowly looked back to the men.
"You go back to your labs, scientists, and political lackeys," Marcus began coolly. "And you tell them all that the Paragons do not answer to you. We are not here to empower you. We are here to safeguard the world. So if you act against the interest of humanity again, then we will consider you an enemy to neutralize," he shot curtly.
"You would actually threaten America….?"
"No," Icon said with a cold smile. "Not America. You," he said as he eyed the men. "Because you are not the nation, errand boy. Nor are you apparently capable of knowing what is best for the nation, or the world. Hence, as of now, you are all on notice. I am watching you. Undermine the safety of those you supposedly defend but once more, and I will be there. I will come for you. Now, if you will excuse us, we still have a madman to hunt," Icon told them, and all but stalked past them.
"Myers," one of the agents turned to snap at him. "What the hell is this? Is that boy…declaring war on us?"
William sighed, and eyed the agent, and shook his head.
"It might interest you to know that he's already contacted Director Kamal, and explained his actions. Actions which were accepted, and excused. Which, you likely already know since there are no NRH representatives with you for this little witch hunt of yours, Agent Barlow," the dean remarked knowingly.
"Witch hunt? That boy…!"
"I happen to know you all thought him dead until very recently, too. But the moment he revealed himself again, you showed up not to help, but to try to leash him. You overstepped this time, though, because Icon just stepped so far beyond us all that I doubt you could stop him if you tried."
"Just because he's leading a bunch of borderline anarchists…."
"You mistake me, General Lane," he told the man who spoke. "I meant him, not his team. Although they likely have enough accumulated power between them to stop anything you could throw at them. But, no, I meant Icon in particular. You see, even before you envisioned the possibility, Divergent had already inadvertently helped Icon evolve again. He's now a genuinely quantum-powered being, and I don't think anything in the world's arsenals could stop him now. Not without cracking the globe."
"The globe," General Lane frowned.
"The globe. Icon isn't that slow himself, gentlemen. By now he's already figuring out how he's changed, and how he can use those changes. Now, if you don't mind, get out of my school. Before I ask someone to show you out," he said as Coach Ires peered into the room with a grim scowl.
"Tell me you're kidding," Ghost asked after the men left in disgust. "Marcus has...evolved even further?"
"Remember that scale of evolving powers we discussed once?"
"Yes," Ghost murmured.
"You can go back and tell your bosses in the Administration that it's broken. Marcus just completely shattered the ranking system."
"The President won't like hearing that."
"He'll like hearing that Divergent is still out there, with the secret of creating quantum powers even less," Dean Myers remarked curtly.
"William, what's he going to do?"
"Marcus? I still can't read his mind," Dean Myers admitted. "But, then, I don't have to just now. I know what he's doing."
"He's going after Divergent again. And this time, I don't think he is looking to take prisoners."
Ghost said nothing to that.
"Just tell me one thing," the liaison finally asked. "Do you think he will present a threat to the nation?"
"Only if you make the mistake of attacking him, or his team," Coach Ires told them as he returned to nod at William. "If you need a ride back, best you get moving, because I believe the uninvited guests are about to take off. In quite a hurry, too."
Ghost said nothing to that as he shook his head. "I'd better get back, too. Before they set off the President with the wrong perspective."
"Indeed," William Myers nodded as the man left. "Bill, do I have to guess Marcus is already gone?"
"His whole team vanished the moment they left the building. Even I don't know what they're up to now."
"I can guess. Keep our people on alert. If Divergent is back, he'll be remembering Camelot less than fondly."
"And we all know how well that loon holds grudges," Bill nodded.
William left the small room himself as he headed back for his office, Bill headed for his gym, and unofficial staging point for a lot of the active teens now working around or out of Camelot.
He didn't even pretend not to notice Bonzai as the winged teen with the big ears flew off toward the freshman wing where the self-styled Rogues called home of late.
Robert Strickland stared at the data scrolling over his computer screens as he continued to sift and monitor the serum trials he was working on.
Rather than risk another delay, or discovery, he simply took a few homeless teens, and used them in conjunction with previous information he had managed to glean, and had created what he suspected might be very close to the successful formula stolen by that alien vermin.
Even he was stunned at how powerful that treacherous lizard had grown. Still, he wanted to regain his might, not become a mindless beast that stomped about like some walking bulldozer. Even he was astonished at how they had managed to neutralize that great beast, and even more astonished at the curious teen that had conjured the solution to the overly powerful reptilian behemoth. That teen, he suspected, might well be one of his own creations. How else could he account for his powerful intellect, and heartless application of logic in ending the threat before him?
A shame his own trueborn son had not been of his ilk.
He paused, eyeing the newscasts in the wake of the rampage as he kept track of the authorities via the ever helpful media that wouldn't know national security from a front page from all he had ever seen. Even as he watched the speculation unfold, amused at the numbers of heroes slain by that alien behemoth, a side story emerged that genuinely shocked him as cameras near, but no longer allowed on Camelot, showed a familiar figure in red flying around.
"Yes, ladies and gentlemen," a reporter trumpeted, "We finally have confirmation from the faculty at Camelot that Icon, long thought dead these past months, is still alive. Badly injured in a mysterious confrontation earlier this year, he was being guarded in secret until he fully healed. Word is that he is not only stronger than ever, but completely at odds with the President, and our nation of late over matters yet to be revealed. We'll tell you more as we continue to uncover this story, but just now, neither Camelot, nor the Paragons are speaking to us. Back to you, Jill," the reporter outside Camelot smiled witlessly.
Or so Robert felt.
"Marcus…..lives," he murmured, and saw the still image on the screen of the young Icon who stared coolly at him from that photo.
Divergent smiled as he eyed the young hero on the screen that was soon replaced by another image as the news continued on to the usual pandering.
"So," he murmured as he looked back to his data. "He lives," he murmured again as he began to consider his next move after he regained his own power.
Not The End...