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[Fiction] Experiment's End

The Paragon

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One learns of life from the living things around them. Human children often study ants, in the complexity of their society as they scurry around their tiny lives. They learn from their energy and suffering. It is only natural that they ‘excite’ the lives of the ants they study, adding difficulties and multiplying their suffering, so as to get a better understanding how these tiny, insignificant beings overcome adversity. Thus our children learn about the world and society.

Alexius and Katya studied the little girl for some time. She grasped her mother’s hand as she moved through the crowded streets of New York City. Occasionally, she would sneak a peek back at them and smile. The two children found that action fascinating, as it observed as a social survival instinct, to curry goodwill with others of one’s own kind, and it indicated a profound lack of understanding on their subject’s part. They are not like the little girl. They were novas and always had been. They were removed from the frailty of that creature’s existence as she was to an ant’s.

The little girl wanted to engender friendship. The novas wanted to gain a greater understanding of these subjects’ inter-species relationships. At the crosswalk, signal bleating “Don’t Walk” for the blind, she turned back and smiled yet again. They noted her persistence to one another. The mother looked over her shoulder and now noticed the two small novas studying her and her young. Instinctively, she felt an ‘alien-ness’ about these two children studying her and drew her child closer. Katya smiled at that … this pathetic effort to protect and comfort the unknowing member of the species. She directed this smile at the mother and smelled that one’s fear building up in its belly. Alexius took the time to study that growing fear and helplessness in it … her, he remembered, as something within the mother’s make-up sensed the threat the two observers represented. He thought about ways to manipulate this in ways that could either stoke that fear or short circuit it, but Katya insisted on a different experiment. Together, the two novas put their social ‘masks’ on … the skill they had picked up that allowed them to pass for the things swirling around them.

Katya seized the little girl with her mind rather tightly. The little girl tried to shift away from the discomfort, but couldn’t. She complained to her mother, who once again pulled her daughter closer to her …but this time she couldn’t. The child was held fast. The mother’s pulls went from insistent, to frantic, to panicked. The light changed and the others moved past the struggling mother giving little notice. Finally, one subject, a youngish male with loose fitting garments stopped and tried to help. He verbally communicated with the mother who tried to relate the difficulties neither of them could actually sense. The daughter was crying now. Not from Katya’s efforts, but from the pain inflicted by the mother’s frantic pulling on her arm. Alexius prodded that pain and fear up to further excite the experiment. The little girl’s terrified cries attracted more notice, though only two more people actually stopped and showed some inclination to help.

The mother motioned to the two children observing the gathering group, but Alexius’ talents kept them from truly understand the nature of the observers. To the rest, the two seemed as normal children and the other humans could wrap their minds around the concept that the observers were in any way threatening.

The mother began crying now. None of her compatriots could understand her and her helplessness grew. The light changed again, and the two observers noticed how the other, non-involved subjects kept a space between themselves and the experiment. Finally, the first human to respond reached for the little girl himself, as if to help the mother. Alexius noted the conflicted responses driving this gesture. He wanted to help the mother, but he also feared that the mother was actually hurting her own child. The man grasped the child and was equally unable to move her. He lowered himself down and wrapped his arms around the little girl. Alexius noted the man’s reassessment of the situation. Something in his mind attempted to re-assess the observers as a threat. Alexius noted the increased internal resistance to his manipulations as the man became more focused on the threat to the little girl. He was struggling mentally to look back in their direction, to realize the threat the observers truly were, and was becoming more successful as the desire to protect the little girl grew stronger.

Alexius applauded this one’s willingness to risk for his fellow human, much in the way one admires the fetching trait in a dog. Katya elected to move the experiment in a different direction. In truth, she was bored by the lack of challenge these things represented. Though she had been cautioned to keep a low profile while moving through this environment, she chafed at these restrictions. Though vastly more numerous, these creatures weren’t challenging to someone of her capacity, she altered the dynamics of the experiment. She hurled the child out in front of an oncoming truck. Alexius had just enough warning to transfer his senses to the truck driver’s mind as that one realized he had impacted a tiny member of his own species. Alexius dutifully recorded that one’s reactions, as well as the mother’s scream and the ‘helpful’ man’s emotional crisis.

All in all, the two noted with some satisfaction the success of their experiment. The human’s milled about and mostly avoided the tragedy. A few were truly moved, while others were only motivated by their own personal annoyance. The mother collapsed and the ‘helpful’ man moved to comfort her. Another human who had stopped to help was moved emotionally to go to the little girl, now dead.

It was this satisfaction that may have accounted for their not sensing the other until he was almost upon them. Like the two nova children, he could mask his aura … dorming, their parent’s called it. He had approached them as another human moving toward the crossing, but as he transformed into his glorious true form, Alexius was drawing to the novas incredible sense of rage. His fury was so great, it caused Alexius to recoil and stumble backward. Katya felt that rage through the link with her brother and turned to face the stranger. She knew they were definitely forbidden to encounter other novas and was still contemplating exactly what she and her brother were going to do.

Around them, the human’s were recoiling in fear and doubt. The nova was a pulsing, black silhouette of a man who seemed to suck the surrounding light into him. The two had just decided they had to ‘do something’ to this new nova when it lashed out. They sensed its Quantum pulse out into an effect, but it was so fast, and so lethal, they never truly understood what happened to them.

As later observers reported, the black figure had shown up and flown off with the two unresisting children. They were unsure what, if anything, he had to do with the girl falling in front of the truck. The mother babbled something about the two children killing her little girl, but that wasn’t taken seriously by the officials investigating the death. After all, the two children had never been more than ten feet away from the little girl. They did look for the aberrated nova and the two kids he had flown off with, but nothing was ever found.

The Paragon had collapsed space within the two children’s brains. They had died instantaneously. He had manipulated gravity around them and flown up with them.

‘Monsters, horrors … alien threats to all things human,’ he kept thinking. These … these things were the threat he had always imagined the Teragen to be. In the depth of his mind, he thought about his own grandchild so soon to come into this world and he was afraid. He grappled with those ideas as he raced back to the children’s home. He knew a Proteus team … his team … was observing the domicile, but he didn’t care. He hadn’t been able to stop these two from becoming monsters and he couldn’t bear to blame himself for their deaths. The parents, though, could be someone to blame. In Paragon’s mind, they had twisted these two into something that had to be destroyed and that idea flamed the rage in his mind.

He fell upon the two terats in such a furry that what would have been a lopsided contest anyway was a total slaughter. Paragon didn’t play around with them. He wanted to yell at them. To vividly point out the wrongness of what they had done, of what they had done to their own offspring, and the final penalty of their betrayal of all mankind. He hadn’t done that, though. Partially, he was afraid of his own emotions, his own ability to not level the entire building in his current state, and the fact that he didn’t want to here their excuses … their reasons for doing what they had done.

He was afraid, and tired, and losing hope of the world ever becoming a better place. He was afraid that nova-kind was a moral dead end that leads only to evil and selfishness, and he was afraid of what that meant.

She looked across the desk at Paragon. Thetis had known this day was coming the moment the truth had come out about his daughter.

“You went way out of bounds, Paragon. We needed to gather intelligence on were the Teragen have gathered their offspring. I thought I could rely on you for this project, but I now see that I was wrong.”

“We are supposed to be protecting people,” Paragon countered. He knew he was wrong in what he had done, but he was so tired of the emotional grayness that accompanied the kind of life he had come to lead.

“Well, we have to close down this line of investigation anyway. You killed off our leads and have wasted nearly a year of effort on the Project’s behalf. I want you to take some down time before the next assignment is issued you.”

“I’m sorry about this T. Truly, but I couldn’t take that … that little girl’s death, and in front of her mother as well. I couldn’t let them live and I couldn’t let those parent’s go unpunished.”

“Paragon, if you had brought them to us alive, for study, that would have shown more professional thought on your part, but you didn’t. You have lost your perspective of what Proteus is all about. You need to regain that. You need to remember it was us who have given you the only outlet you have for still doing good in the world. Now go. I will call you in two weeks and we will talk again.”

The Paragon rose and nodded.

“Okay. Two weeks. I understand.”

With that, he walked from the room and left the compound.

Thetis worked for several minutes before she picked up the phone and made the call.

“It’s Paragon. He has finally ceased to be useful to us. I want contingencies put in place for his removal as soon as convenient for us and the Project as a whole. I want to see the most profitable profiles before I authorize the sanction. That is all for now.”

She hung up the phone and kept working late into the night.

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