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[Fiction] Catharsis


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(UN-band radio traffic captured and decoded from Kashmir region, command post transmissions have been italicized)

"CQ! CQ! This is Convoy Foxtrot under heavy fire, request backup!" *automatic fire and quantum discharges carrying over*

"This is Almighty, we read you five by three, Convoy Foxtrot. What's your sitution and twenty, over."

*continued gunfire, quantum discharges, and loud explosions in background* "Roger, Almighty, we came across a small exchange between Indian and Pakistani nova forces," *explosion* "Jesus! and we've been caught in the cross fire. We've lost two squads and our lone nova support, Sierra, has" *static* "ise."

"Say again, Foxtrot, over."

"I say again, two squads are down, cover fire!" *automatic fire* "and Sierra has engaged and is surrounded, please advise, over!" *faintly in background, mixed with sounds of continuous qauntum combat* "...ter you, lit.. njoy her all.."

"Thunderbolt has been dispatched, ETA two minutes. What's the status on the elites forces, over."

"Two elemental manipulators have the squads pinned down, six others are engaged with our lone nova. He's giving better than he's getting, but all six appear to be focused on him." *automatic fire continues, sounds of the quantum effects lessen* "Bauer, move your squad to draw those other novas! I've almost lost sight of our nova, he's being piled on by the elites, over."

"Hold your position and keep your squads together, over."

"Say again, Almighty?" *again faintly in background* "... ne can he... st lay do... rdere..."

*Hold your position and don't draw the other elites, over."

"We're losing sight of Sierra, he's completely covered. Damnit, Almighty, he's risking his life for us and his suit is more red than white!" *automatic fire lessens, loud thumping noises begin to fill background*

"I say again, Foxtrot, hold your position, Sierra can handle himself, over."

*long, continous automatic fire* "Damnit, Bauer, get over here! Almighty, Sierra isn't looking good from this angle, where the hell is that backup?" *low hum carries over signal* "Something's happening... feels like something is building up..."

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I can't take this anymore. Utopia is a facade of happy dreams with an unrealistic bureaucracy just making the same mistakes. Teragen, Utopians, and other zealots just screaming the same argument back and forth without getting any traction. Everyone is caught up in the trees and has completely missed the forest that so few see and none acknowledge. Totem and others falling beyond help. Negative and arrogant "self help" drivel from ronin and Charr filling every piece of media. And Regan...

Gods, my sweet, beautiful, poor Regan... you make me so happy, you brought me back to life and now you're riding that razor's edge. I want so much to give you the life and happiness you deserve, but everyone keeps blocking the path. I'm right there next to you, giving you my hand so you can hang on but I'm so afraid you can't see it. I can't do this without you, I can't.

I listened to Pax scream after I told him the news, now I'm back in Kashmir. I hate being out here in the field, violence begets violence, we're solving nothing. Crap duty, just watching the fruits of my old labor... He's rubbing it in my face a punishment for being so bold. Fuck him, this is for Regan and I'd do it again for her in a heartbeat.

Wait, something isn't right. Blade... Coil... Ohmzzz... all of these guys have a hard on to put me down. One step at a time, Franklin, let the destruction free in that direction, then in the other... No, there's too many, I can't keep up with it. Careful, each mistake opens another hole for them. Don't listen to Reverb, he doesn't know, he's not in your head... Got to watch Blade or I'll die by the paper cuts he's managing to get through.

Damnit, Coil's inside my guard... no, I'm not a killer, I'm not a killer... it's behind me, I don't hunt the innocent... Get under the arms, Franklin, stop listening to Reverb... nothing is worthless, my life isn't worthless... she's mine, I'm hers, she's better than all of you... Coil is wrapped all around, I can feel the blood seeping out of a hundred wounds, Reverb won't shut up... gods, I've got a headache, my head is pounding...

I am not a tool

I am not a slave

I will not let you hurt her

I can feel it building up in me, it's more power than ever... I've got to let it loose...

I will not surrender!

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(UN-band radio traffic captured and decoded from Kashmir region, command post transmissions have been italicized, Thunderbolt transmissions have been bolded)


"Foxtrot, come in, over."

*a gutteral roar fills the backgroud, followed by loud thumps and hissing* "Almighty, I can't believe this... Sierra is burning in some kind of silver energy, it's melting one of the elite's arms, oh my God..." *automatic fire stops, sounds of quantum combat and howls of pain fill the background*

"Say again, Foxtrot. What the hell is happening out there?"

"Sierra has reengaged the elites, I've never seen someone so enraged. One appears to be down but the two covering the squads are moving to support, over." *quantum combat continues*

"Hold your position, I say again, hold your position. Thunderbolt is still enroute, over."

"Roger, Foxtrot, but I don't want to get into the middle of this. Another elite is disabled, possibly two, and Sierra is looking heavily wounded, but... Sweet Mary and Joseph, I think I'm going to be sick..." *static and quantum discharges fill background*

"Say again, Foxtrot, over."

*loud boom and static fills radio band for two seconds before returning to normal*

"Almighty, this is Thunderbolt. We've engaged and rounded up the elites and Foxtrot is secure. We need a medical and evac team, over." *faintly in the background* "...asy, Alden, it's me, Janus..."

"Roger wilco, Thunderbolt, ETA three minutes for the evac. Please advise on casualties."

"Ten fatalities in squads two and three, Sierra has healed himself somewhat but still requires immediate attention. But some of the elites are in critical state, get that medical team here ASAP." *again faintly in the background* "...op that silver fir...hy's your hair sil..." "Ah SHI..."

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Mendoza shook his head, "Damn, Alden, what the hell happened, what's with the freakout"

Singularity slowly turned his silver orbs to Janus, restrained rage dominating his face, "Excuse me?" Blood covered the athletic nova, most of it his, dripping onto the hard packed ground. Small wounds oozed across his body and a rib almost appeared to be sticking out, but Singularity still seemed to command himself. But now his brown hair had turned into a strange silver to match his eyes, each lock morphing together like gelatinous metal.

"Well, you looked a little... well... angry... freaking out and all... We're not supposed to do that." the young nova says, giving the older one an incredulous look.

Despite his injuries, Singularity stepped close to Mendoza, and his voice begins to rise, "Freaking out? I give Utopia nothing but good faith and I get pissed on. I express my opinions and defend the Project's name, and I get used as a guinea pig. I try to shed light on mistakes and shortcomings, and I get ignored. I perform my duties, and I get used as an errand boy. I gave up my material life, and I get used as a weapon. Regan helps a friend like the hero you are supposed to be, and she gets a shouted lecture and treated to every test in the book. Regan expresses her opinion, and she gets docked and controlled. Regan tries to learn how to understand herself, and she gets fucking drugged. Regan exerts her own opinion, and she gets fucking punished. I try to explain the situation and help, and I get sent to this fucking hellhole I hate. I do the right thing, and I get fucking jumped by eight goddamn elites that want me fucking dead! I'm doing what you bastards should be doing and I nearly fucking die! I'm only alive because I fucking freaked out!"

Mendoza shrinks away from Singularity's intense face, the last words echoing across the desert. The other novas and baselines look at the pair with various looks of surprise. With silver eyes burning, Singularity slowly turns away from Mendoza and walks his battered form to the newly arrived medical transport, ignoring the stunned onlookers.

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The sun beat down on the UN triage, a nova age version of a M.A.S.H. camp. Baselines and novas alike calmly work throughout the area; the casualties from the day before had been treated and were recovering. Janus Mendoza sat at one of the open air tables, munching his way through a bushel of apples. as he lounged in his dusty T2M uniform. There was enough stress from yesterday, he was stuck on call as an instantaneous ambulance, and there was no way he was going to get time off for days. But at least he got some piece and quiet.

He heard the measured and precise footsteps approach, "Got a moment?" The young nova turned, seeing an already healed Singularity standing next to him.

"Uh, sure," Mendoza answered. They hadn't spoke since the day before; he didn't know what else the elite could chew him out over. Probably had some more "true warrior machismo" about no one being worthy.

Singularity momentarily dipped his head in contrition, newly changed hair almost unmoving, "Look... I am sorry about yesterday, Janus. You were only concerned about me, I blew up on you without provocation nor justification, and it is the duty of Team Tomorrow members to be paragons. I might not be a member, such outbursts are not something for the field."

"Hey, you had a bad day, man," Mendoza replied, surprised at the apology, "It happens to everyone. Besides, I'd be pretty ticked if I my life was on the line too."

"No, you did not deserve to bear the brunt of my..." Singularity trailed off mid-sentence and his silver orbs darted off into the distance momentarily. He looked down, then back to Mendoza, "Can I borrow your handheld OpNet terminal?"

"Sure." With a smooth motion, Mendoza passed the small phone/terminal to Singularity, and the older nova stepped outside of earshot.


Singularity flipped open the device, quickly dialing a number; there wasn't much time before someone came to check up on him. Eight rings go by before the other end finally picked up, "Manny? Yes, I know I don't use this line. That's the point, Manny, remember? Where are you and where is the LearJet at? All right, meet me at the location we agreed on for that area. That place. No, not that one. No, not that one either. It is the fucking park, Manny. Just cut the shit, I do not have the time nor the patience for it today. Watch the news, I am sure you will be able to find out why I am acting this way, and be ready."

He ran his fingers through his hair, the strange feeling of his metallic yet supple hair still a surpise. At least he was healed. It was the first time in a long time he had to wait to heal internal injuries and that headache was still there, albeit much less intense. Something he would consider more later.

With a sigh, Singularity dialed a different number on the device, this next conversation already formulated in his mind, "Yes, Director Laragione, please. Director? Yes, it is me. Please, before you begin, we need to discuss the current status between your Project and myself..."


Mendoza crunched through another apple, coming out of his daydreams of vacation whisked away by Singularity's return, "... am sorry, that is the way it is. Rest assured, you will hear more, good day." Plastic and electronics screamed as the device is crushed in Singularity's powerful hand and he released the remains to fall onto the ground, "Sorry, Janus, I promise you will have a new one as soon as possible. I need you to get to me a location immediately, can you help me out?"

The young nova nodded, silently lamenting the loss of his mobile OpNet terminal, "Hey, that's why they've got me here. Where do you need to be?"

Singularity pulled out a small slip of paper and a pen, quickly writing down a set of GPS coordinates, "Here, please. It is urgent."

"Alright, I'm not one to argue with urgent things." Air rustles as space warped next to the young nova, creating an opaque portal in the middle of the camp.

"Thank you," Singularity said and he placed the paper back into his pocket, "you are a good kid, Janus. Keep your head down and be sure to ask Wrench about our conversation when you get back." And with that, he walked through the portal.

Letting the portal go, Mendoza paused before going back to his apples, wondering what Singularity was talking about. He shrugged and picked up another apple, settling back into his post for the day. He sees some activity from the command post, watching a baseline Utopia agent leave the tent and begin to rush over, "I wonder why he's coming over here..."

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