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[Fiction] Loss of Innocence


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It had now been about two weeks since he remembered. He had been wishing he hadn't. He was certain he had never wanted anything less in his life. He was happy as Nova, he was content having left his past behind him, but what you don't remember always seems to come back to haunt you.

Amped had learned more about his past in the matter of minutes while he was on stage playing contently, than he had the entire time since his eruption. He learned he was previously a being of hate, a human driven by hatred for what he is now.

Now he is wondering if he has any regret for what he did a few weeks ago. Was he right to tell his peers? This was something that he had been questioning, since that day, and it is now eating away at him inside.

Jonas sat in the ally he had been calling home for the past two weeks, he held his portable opnet terminal in his hand as he eyeballed it. He had just sent the messages to those on the board that he needed to send them to. Those that might have any sort of concern for him might be able to figure out what is happening at this point, if even through the word of mouth of those present in Tokyo. He wondered if his intentions now were the right ones, but he was going home in a little shortly. He was going to be there whether his parents wanted him to be or not and he was determined to get some answers from them.

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Amped felt something new growing inside of him. It was pure and utter rage. It formed a lump in his gut, and it was not making him happy.

Amped stood up. His usual blue clothing shifted to a darker shade, his normal over shirt turned ragged and looked torn, his Eufiber grew over his head, forming a mask. None of his form was visible, only the slight glow of yellow from his eyes could be seen through the dark shaded lenses of his goggles.

He took a deep breathe instinctually and took off. The asphalt cracked beneath his feet, and tar lit on fire, just from the heat beneath his feet. Amped was running faster than he ever had before down the road. He was nothing but a blur and a streak to people looking towards him.

A car turned down the road and Jonas leaped into the air. His flight continued until he reached the doorstep of his parents estate. He knocked on the door like a very impatient child making it a point to prop himself up over the peephole. While he waited his mask receded back down to his neckline.

He could hear footsteps in the hallway approaching the door and he could hear the latch turning, when the door opened his mom was standing there. At first there was a look of surprise on her face, then a look of happiness. She reached out to grab him and embrace him, but he moved out of the way in a blink.

"What the hell did you do to me, how could you treat me this way, how could you deceive me like you did, and did up until the time we parted directions."

Her expression changed from happiness to a look of surprise once more.

"What are you talking about Jonas, we've lost all track of you since you left, I'm happy to see you've come to your senses. Look at you, you're a mess, come inside we'll get you some clothes."

His mother turned around and yelled into the hallway. "HONEY...JONAS IS HERE."

"Mother....Woman...whatever form of creature you are, I have no interest in being any part of you or your mates existance. You corrupted me, and now that I've had a second chance, you wanted to take it all away from me."

His father steps into the hallway, carrying a rifle which is pointed towards Jonas at the moment.

"I will not let you stay. You were born to this world in order to help us purify the demons, yet they have taken you from us. We will not let you continue to have the evil living inside of you."

Jonas's father pulls the trigger sending the bullet flying towards him, but the bullet doesn't meet it's mark. Instead Amped stands there, but the bullet's path changed, it his his mother in the base of her neck. Amped looks towards his father, and in an instant, is in front of his father.

"Demon, you're calling me the impure one. The best people I have ever known are novas. They cared for me, they showed me the truth of the world, the don't hide anything from me. You, you've raised me to kill their kind, after all they have done for humanity."

Amped grabs the rifle and wrenches it from his fathers hands. He takes it like a club and swings it across his fathers jaw, knocking him to the ground.

"You don't deserve to live on this planet anymore. You even shot the one left on this planet that you loved"

Amped's eyes change blue and electricity starts arching between them. The area is surrounded in a bright light, when it fades Amped is left standing there, a living form of electricity. He holds his arms out, and electricity flies from his extremities into every electrical outlet in the area. The circuit breakers of the house swing open, but that doesn't stop him. All the wiring in the house begins to smoke, then ignites. Shortly, the entire house is aflame, and there is nothing left of Amped. He was long gone by the time anybody had arrived on the scene. He was back in Chicago, sleeping in the ally, wearing eufiber made to look like tattered clothing, with the only sign of who he is, the electricity arching between his eyes, now permanent, now uncontrollable.

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"Look, I'm kinda worried about him, sir. Last I heard, he was hangin' out in Tokyo, then shot through somewhere. I know he hangs out in Chicago."

Jennifer 'Dervish' Parks hovers in mid-air above Chicago, ignoring the awed crowds below. She was chatting on her W.A.Co. to Atlas, leader of Tn2M Central, and Michael Hodges, their Director. Both had expressed concern over the mysterious behaviour of Amped and since Dervish knew him on a fairly decent basis, they requested she try to find him.

"Get out of there if crap hits the fan," Atlas orders. She could imagine his deep voice and deliberate way of speaking. She still fancied the hell out of him, though she'd long given up on any chance of actually getting with him. He was a good person and probably a better T2M'er prospect than some she could name.

"Yessir," she mumbles and logs out, switching on her GPS in case someone has to bail her out. 'Sandra Estevez was always good for a lift...

Probability, both good and bad, was like Play-Do in Dervish's hands. She twisted chance and focused it down the path she wanted... Primarily a quantum scan that would locate Amped if he was in this city.

"There!" she murmurs, becoming an ochre streak towards a particular alley.

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The 911 call hit the tag, the tag triggered the search profiles, and the profiles alerted the watcher all in a manner of a few seconds. Far longer than Amped needed to get far, far away, but not before he reached home.

The watcher called Control and downloaded the data. Control scanned the data, nodded once, and called Jager.

For Jager, it had been a hard choice. She had wanted him to come down and spend some quiet time with her, her extended family, and her close friends. Just a few dozen people he didn't know and would undoubtably ask him too many questions. He might love her, but he had to give this Christmas a bye.

Instead, he had elected to work with some of Chicago's Finest and spend a few hours building bridges the team would need. He had just finished rushing an accident victim to the hospital when the call came in.

The house burning - emergancy services not yet on the scene - no clear idea of any fatalities.

The address was a watch address. Michaelites with a nova offspring. Add to that risk; a recently erupted nova with psychological trauma associated with his eruption ... amnesia.

As Jager leaped away from the astonished attendants, he rapidly cleared the ten story building with a minimal number of handholds and acrobatic twists. Now, he lept from building top to building top, mind racing.

He was a manhunter, or more appropriately, a novahunter ... a nova who hunted down other novas. Long ago, they had given him his name; partially out of respect, partially out of fear.

He Chose them.

He stalked them.

He killed them, only failing that final time to get his target.

Now, he kept that part of his past closely to himself. He turned those skills to better uses, he hoped. Now he found people and saved them when he could. A rescuer. A White Knight for lost causes.

Jager's mind fired up and he planned. He took in all he knew about the family, about the nova, and considered the circumstances. He moved to place himself between the two most likely points of contact. He called Control and got an updated report on the incident. A notice of a shot fired. A house burning rapidly on all levels.

He nodded. He knew.

Shocked ... traumatized ... Jager analyzed the possible courses the target would take. Home.

Jager didn't need the world right now. He slipped through time and made his way to the alley way.

He smells the ozone ... 'That's new'.

He smells the various wafting of smoke, among other things ... an electrical fire, expensive carpeting igniting, gunfire residue and ... yes, blood. Not his, though.

He catches the flittering movements in the periphery of his senses.

'That Parks girl ... Teen2Mer out of Central, and she's closing.'

Jager rises out of the shadows of the alley and starts walking toward Amped. He keeps time from closing in too tightly around him and his movements have a kind of 'side-stepping' quality to them.

"Hey Amped", Jager says in a rather lazy-friendly voice. "I'm Jager and I'm a friend and team mate of the Alchemist. I think we need to have a chat."

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Amped slept in the alley. He had a spot not too far from the dumpsters shadow that kept him a little cooler. The Electricity arched across his eyes, but he has taken to sleeping with his darkened flight goggles. The bolts of lightning can still be seen though.

He's a light sleeper, came from being on the streets right after his eruption. He wanted to confront from more Michaelites, but he didn't want to be a sitting duck when they showed up.

He wakes as soon as he hears his name mentioned, in a blur of motion Amped is in a 3 point stance and about to take off until he hears the name "Alchemist" mentioned. He slumps back down into a sitting position and pulls the goggles off.

"Jager, I know you from the board, well kinda. What can I help you with?" Amped speaks very nonchalantly, like nothing has happened, there might even be slight tone of happiness in his voice, and the corner of his mouth is turned up slightly, in a half grin.

Amped eyes unconsciously dart about, but the location of their gaze is completely blinded by his lack of pupils and the Jacob's Ladder effect moving between them now. It's a new instinct for him, other than when he sleeps he's absorbing in his entire location and it's surroundings. He notices a familiar form streaking her way in the sky above.

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Dervish lands lightly on the ground, her tightly curled hair waving around as if caught in an eternal wind. She is wearing her full Tn2M uniform, a reddish ochre bodysuit streaked with uneven lines of chocolate-brown, off-white and black, the Tn2M symbol displayed prominently on her right shoulder. Chocolate-brown mock-suede boots and fingerless gloves complete the look, while the familiar tangle of shark's teeth, leather cording, miniature cowrie shells, chunky amber pieces and large wooden beads decorate her neck and wrists.

"Hello," she says quietly. "What the bloody hell is goin' on with ya, mate?"

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Jager waits quietly in the darker bits of the alley for Dervish to land before speaking.

As Jager speaks, his eyes communicate a keen earnestness that belies his calm demeanor.

"Amped, I figured the two of us needed to have a chat and this holiday season seemed like a perfectly good time ..." Jager looks toward Dervish, "since we both seem to be at loose ends."

Turning to Jennifer,

"Hey, Dervish. I hope nothing official brings you to Windy City turf?"

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Amped watches as Dervish lands, he has a smile on his face. He's truly happy to see other Novas, its an experience that has proven enjoyable for the most part.

"Nothing's going on with me, I just had to take care of some stuff. I remembered some terrible things about my past and I had to find out more about it."

Amped's smile turns into a look of grief.

"It turns out my father didn't join the Church of Michael Archangel after I erupted. He was a long practicing member, as was my mother, before I had erupted. It turns out they taught me their philosophies, and I believed them. They corrupted a child with views they actually knew nothing about. I had to talk to them, find something out. I didn't know what was going to happen when I showed up, but they tried to kill me, my father shot at me, I was watching the bullet moving towards me, then it just snapped off in a different direction and hit my mother. I snapped, he began to pull off another shot, but I stopped him."

Jonas was almost crying again at this point. His breathing was difficult, and at the same time he was crying, he had a ball of anger swelling up inside of him.

"I refuse to be afraid. I'm not going to let my irrational fear of a people that do not understand us rule my life..."

The lightning arching across Jonas's eyes become more vibrant, and he began glowing blue. Electricity started arching between his finger tips uncontrollably.

"...and now I can't control everything like I use to. It's like I have more, so much it's trying to escape from me."

"Just as the Michaelites think they are here to purify us without mercy, I think I have been given the ability to defend myself and others from them. I'm putting myself as bait from now on in an attempt to save others of our kind. Not everybody has power like me, some of us are not much stronger than any baseline, and they need help to stay alive."

"The last thing I meant for anybody to do was worry about me."

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Jager's eyes flash to Dervish to gauge her reaction. Keeping his eyes on her, he speaks to Amped.

"We all have done, or will do, things we aren't proud of, Amped. The thing is about the here and now. How do you want this to settle out?"

Between his breaths, the two young novas might be able to sense a tongue twitch, or a mumbled phrase spoken beneath that of a whisper.

"The death of your parent's is tragic. Their futures are no more now and there's nothing I can do for them. You are another situation entirely. No matter how the evidence comes down, the Michaelites will believe you had a hand in their deaths. That can't be helped and it looks like you don't mind it. What concerns me, and should concern you, is how this pans out for the rest of your life. Do you want to go down as a murderer? As some freak who can't control his powers? Or, do you want to move beyond this and do something ... anything more constructive than taking lives and living in misery?"

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Dervish hugs herself as Amped speaks, her deep brown eyes wide with worry and concern. "My bosses at Utopia were worried 'bout what a outta-control nova could do, so I kinda volunteered ta help find ya before they had ta send someone like Pax," she admitted. "First thing ya gotta do is contact your lawyer an' fast. The Project ones are good, but I don't think ya wanna end up like Lit, on the team 'cause ya trashed stuff an' had ta be saved."

She shrugs helplessly. "Ya gotta case of self-defence, surely. But ya gonna have ta get a lawyer an' head ta the authorities, or ya gonna have not only Michaelites after ya, but the Project an' the Directive too."

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"No, Ms. Parks, what we have is Amped's word that it was self-defense. Add his aberration to his noted dislike of his father and the fact that he went home ..." Jager passes a glance to Amped, "you get could make an equal case for murder. That's a dangerous gamble."

"Dervish, right now Project Utopia has no jurisdiction here. The Federal Government would have to invite you in. That leaves it in the hands of the Directive, which isn't good, and the local law enforcement ..." which gets a smile from Jager, "and at this moment that includes me, sort of."

"Now, I don't KNOW that anyone is even dead yet. Hell, I don't know that there is even a fire at this point."

"Let's say that there are bodies found in the house. An autopsy will have to be performed to determine cause of death."

Jager now looks directly at Amped.

"Something could happen in that autopsy. Charges might never be filed and the case left unsolved. It happens. What I need to know now is what Amped wants to do."

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"Calm down, Dervish. Since I'm getting ready to do some serious bending of the law, I wanted get a handle on were you stood. I really don't want Pax dropping by, either."

"No need to go anywhere with me, Amped. I will start dealing with this matter. Why don't you and Dervish go somewhere for a bit? Maybe go see Alchemist for a bit."

Jager pulls out a small, non-descript phone, and speaks into it.

"I need Bailey. Yes, for Amped."

He hands the phone to Bailey.

"If he can be located, the phone should reach him."

Jager steps back and waits to see if the call goes through.

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Amped listens to what the both of them have to say.

"I'm not worried about being on CoMA's shitlist. That's no problem to me whatsoever, I say bring them on, they're asking for trouble."

He looks at the two of them again. "It's good to know I have friends in high places as well."

Amped reaches for the phone and holds it to his ear.

"Mr. Bailey, yes, this is Jonas Sullivan, you helped me with...yeah that's me. I need your help again I think."

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Quietly, as Amped speaks on the phone, Jager tells Jennifer,

"If I get you into any serious trouble, Dervish, I still have a few friends in the Project who might help."

"Besides, you're a Heroine, Ms. Parks. Risks and daring-do are part of the job description, or didn't they tell you that in Teen Tomorrow Basic?"

He finishes that with a wink.

"Besides, just as its good to have friends in high places, its good to have them in low places as well. You never know when you need something done far beyond the public eye."

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Papers and OpNet readouts flutter on the desk, the reams of information being organized and processed by Bailey's astute mind. The phone rings and is answered by the nova without even missing a beat.

Once Amped's concern comes across the line, Bailey's hands stop and his attention is completely focused, "First things first: if you're in trouble with any authorties, identify me as your counsel and don't say anything until I'm present. Second, and more for those listening in and follow the rules, whatever you say to me is privilged over this line. Hence, you can tell me anything. Third, I'll need to know where you are, who's around, and if you need immediate assistance, transportation, or anything along those lines.

"Now, how can I help? Is it a civil or criminal issue?"

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"I really don't know what type it is. I don't know what's going to happen.

Amped speaks as calm and collected as is possible at the moment.

"Well something bad has happened, I'll be at your office when you want me to, but I would be a bit more comfortable talking about this in person than over a phone.."

"Thanks, just let me know when, I can be reached on my own terminal for setting an appointment. Thanks Bailey."

Amped hands the phone back to Jager.

"Do what it is you want to do. If you need me for anything, you know how to reach me I'm sure."

"Dervish, what do you say to having that race now? I really need to take my mind off of some things."

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"Gotchya, Amped. The police will likely try to inform you of the death of your parents early tomorrow morning, then there will be the planning of the burial services. Much of that Bailey, Alchemist and I can handle for you, but your going to have to have a face-to-face with a few police detectives at some point and time."

"Keep the phone. I know were you hang out, but not your every move. The phone itself will have terminal failure in about ... oh, nine hours, so don't worry about any call logs."

Jager reaches out and puts his hand on Amped's shoulder.

"Amped, life throws us some pretty bad curves at times. The true test is how we bounce back from it."

"Take care now."

"And Dervish, please look after this young man, okay?"

With that, Jager turns and leaps to the top of the building. His movements seem to ripple through the air then he's gone.

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"Hey that's no fair getting a head start on me."

Amped leaps into the air and takes off, following the blur that Dervish is leaving behind. He pumps more juice into his flight and he starts to catch up to her rather quickly before he slacks off on the power again to stay beside her.

"Exactly how fast can you go Jennifer?"

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Damanor sits in his workshop, revising the schematics for a lightweight deep sea pressure suit. "The eufiber-derived polymer isn't going to stand up to the depths I need," he mutters. "Perhaps if I reinforce it with woven titanium, arranging it to provide flexibility where necessary..."

His musing is interrupted by JN-1L, his computer terminal. Seismic anomaly confirmed at multiple seismograph stations. Readings match information for Nova: Amped, with overlapping readings from a second nova, unknown. Previous readings give three possible matches; most likely Dervish, based on Amped association.

"Janelle, at termination of seismic event, link final location to wormhole inducer target coordinates and initiate warp. Amped and I never finished our last conversation, and it seemed like he needed to talk."

Eufiber tentacles extend through the room, assembling Damanor's "working gear" - a flight belt with forcefield generator, his wrist terminal for the Wormhole Inducer, and small earpiece that melds itself invisibly to the side of his head. Then he goes back to work on his diving suit design while he waits for the seismic readings to stabilize.

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Dervish looks down at the city below them, which is rapidly receding. The winds are something fierce up here, so the young nova does a little twist to calm them in her immediate vicinity.

"I can clock a thousand kilometres outta combat," she says quietly. "I'm the fastest flyer in Tn2M Central."

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