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Aberrant: No Fate - Character Fictions


Joani
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(1 Hour after the Pax vs. Mal fight).

Cherub rubbed his forehead and said,

"You want me to deal with the reporters at the conference? You know I'm not really a doctor, don't you? There's got to be lots of other novas better at this than me, for that matter why not get the ranking MD? Or Geshia? I'll be she'd be great at this."

"Geshia is in Israel. Half of Team Tomorrow is in the hospital. Not many novas managed to come through the incident without even a black eye, and we need to do this now. We'll put some Doctors up there with you but we want to put a nova face in front of the camera, now. Also you're new, that by itself will be a distraction. You know the rest of the drill?"

Tom sighs, and responds,

"No mentioning how my powers actually work, just what they do. No mentioning that Pax's powers aren't working, just that he's stable and should be fine. OK..."

(In front of the cameras. Three dozen reporters and their associated cameras surround a cloth covered table with Tom and two baselines. All three are wearing the typical white 'doctor's outfit'.)

Cherub says, "Well, let's started. I'm Cherub, I work for Project Utopia and I'm a nova with healing powers. Let me say right off Pax is stable and expected to fully recover."

Another Reporter: "Can we speak to Pax?"

Tom replies, "No. Right now the man needs his rest and he's asleep. Also it's a Doctor thing, we never let the Press deal directly with our patents.

Another Reporter: "You're a nova with healing powers? Would Pax have died without your intervention?"

Cherub says, "Well, I did my thing for him right off so we'll never know, but probably not. This is Pax we're talking about, and I think he would have lived without my intervention. But I was very happy to take any unpleasant possibilities off the table."

Another Reporter: "How do your powers work?"

Cherub replies, "I touch someone and they get better."

Another Reporter: "Do you have any other powers?"

Cherub replies, "Yes. Flight. Enhanced senses. A few others but the most useful one is healing."

Another Reporter: "Where did you go to Medical school Doctor?"

Cherub replies, "Actually I'm not a Doctor, I'm a medical student. Eruption made me a healer but didn't give me an MD. I use my powers under the supervision of some of the finest medical minds on the planet." Tom motions to the other two men on the table, and continues, "I'm studying to get my degree and not have to rely on my powers so much."

Another Reporter: "Why would you need to? What can medical science do that Healing can not?"

Cherub replies, "It's fairly tiring to use Healing, I run out of juice pretty quick so I should use it sparingly. And medical science works better and in large quantities on diseases and the like."

Another Reporter: "For the benefit of our listeners, what does the power Healing do?"

Cherub replies, "Healing lets you repair pretty much any injury. This includes things like regrowing limbs and the like, although I should point out Pax wasn't hurt that badly."

Another Reporter: "If you can cure anything, then why isn't Pax out and about right now?"

Cherub replies, "I can cure anything with time, which so far I haven't had. Also I only erupted a few months ago, what a really good Healer can do in one treatment I require four or five to do."

Another Reporter: "Why doesn't Utopia have a better healer dealing with Pax?"

Cherub replies, "Healing is a pretty rare power and I was the only one with that at the scene."

Another Reporter: "Are you a member of Team Tomorrow?"

Cherub replies, "No, I'm not. Maybe someday but at the moment I'm focused on getting my medical degree."

Another Reporter: "If you were at the scene how did you avoid being injured by the Teragen?"

Cherub replies, "My powers are healing and flight, I tried to avoid combat and was successful."

Another Reporter: "Did you see Corbin? What do you think he'll do next?"

Cherub pauses then replies, "I saw him at the scene but lost track of him in the chaos. As for what he'll do next, something that attracts attention I would guess. Maybe make another porn movie."

Another Reporter: "So you don't treat his allegations seriously?"

Cherub replies, "I'm sorry but I find it difficult to treat Corbin seriously. I don't think he thinks things through or considers the consequences of what's he's doing, and I'm not sure whether even he believes himself."

(The conference goes on for another hour)

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Pride Cometh ...

Malcolm sat in the small room and mentally prepared for the next match. While not a title fight he knew that this guy was the first real competition he would face since he had started fighting. Something about that unnerved him while also cementing his resolve for victory. He balled his fists and wiggled his toes, feeling the tightly wrapped tape around his hands and noting the same around his feet, a tightness that felt like confidence.

He slipped into memory, reviewing what he had seen of the other man’s technique and ability. Carlos “Overkill” Martinez; looking for a flaw in the man’s style was like looking for a needle in a haystack the size of a small house, he was undefeated, as Malcolm was himself. This match was such a big deal because both he and Carlos had worked their way up from obscurity and their perfect records remained. No losses and no draws; nothing but pure, untainted, victory. All of that would end tonight, one of them would lose, he was sure of that. The promoters wouldn’t settle for a draw so either he had to beat Carlos or he had to go home a failure.

A knock stirred him out of his reverie, grunting he dismissed the thoughts as unhealthy before such a match and answered the door. It was John, his childhood friend and physical trainer, the man who kept him healthy and fit despite the punishment he got in the octagon.

*Somebody here to see you bro,* he signed. John was deaf, well mostly deaf, and had been since birth. While that may have kept them apart as kids, building a wall between them, it had instead brought them together. John had taught Malcolm to sign and the two had been fast friends for as long as they could remember. When Molly had been born it was with no hesitation that he had picked John as her Godfather.

Malcolm nodded and signed back, *OK but only for a few minutes, I need to relax some before my nerves lose this fight for me!* John smiled back, showing his confidence in Malcolm without any need for words, spoken or signed.

A short time later two men walked into the room. The larger, a heavyset man with arms like pythons, shut the door and stood out of the way; clearly the other’s bodyguard. The other man was older, perhaps fifty, his dark hair oiled back and his expensive suit immaculately pressed. Malcolm wondered briefly how come it was that gangsters seemed to make an effort to look like gangsters.

The older man extended a hand, “Edward Carmoni, it is a distinct pleasure to meet you Malcolm.” Malcolm took his hand and shook it as best he could, given the tape wrapped around his hand; he said nothing offering only a nod. “I’d like to make you a little proposal. You see as you are well aware the fight this evening between you and Mr. Martinez will result in one man with an undefeated record and a second man whose record can no longer boast the same. The men who make the odds are giving you the benefit of the doubt, which is something to be proud of I would imagine. The thing of it is there are those of us with a great deal riding on this match. It would be nice to be able to bet with confidence if you catch my meaning.”

Carmoni reached into his coat and withdrew a small manila parcel, roughly the size and shape of a deposit envelope. “Now I understand that a man in your position might just be reluctant to give assurances of that sort.” He dropped the envelope on the table beside Malcolm. “But for men in your position sometimes things can turn out in the end. If you can help me to place my bets with a little more confidence I’m sure we could come to an agreement,” he said indicating the parcel.

Malcolm picked up the envelope and peered inside. A stack of $100 bills was within, “Gee it looks like you dropped your wallet Eddie,” he replied observing that the nickname did not appear to be one that this man enjoyed hearing. “I’d hate to not return this, it might give you the wrong idea.” Malcolm held the bundle out for Carmoni to take.

“You misunderstand me Mr. Wallace,” he said with a new edge in his voice, “Your choice is to take the money and take the fall or my associates will visit you, your deaf trainer and that pretty wife of yours and make you regret your decision.”

Malcolm dropped the money and his hands balled into fists, “I don’t respond well to threats, especially those that extend to my family and friends. I think you’d better take your money and leave.”

Carmoni’s eyes smoldered with restrained rage as he moved toward the door. The big bodyguard picked up the money and handed it top his boss as Carmoni spoke again, “You fail to understand the full situation; I’d ask your deaf buddy about it. Either way you have two choices. Throw the fight and you and your family get a tidy some or don’t and get erased.” With that he turned and left, the slab of meat that passed for his bodyguard behind him, pausing only long enough to draw a finger across his throat as a final threat.

What the hell was he getting at? Malcolm stuck his head out of the room and saw John, looking anxiously at the departing mobster. Malcolm grabbed his arm and dragged him into the room. *John what the hell was that about, why’d you let that guy even come in?*

John looked immediately embarrassed and guilty, *I’m sorry man, he didn’t give me a choice. I’m sorry. I had to. * He paused and was clearly upset, *Malcolm where do you think the money came from? The money to get started, for the gym, the equipment, the travel? Who do you think sponsored you that didn’t want you wear some stupid logo?*

*Are you telling me we owe him money?* Malcolm was furious and yet he knew that this was as much his fault, he hadn’t bothered to find out about who it was that he fronted the money so that he could train full time and get into the circuits.

John shook his head, *He doesn’t want money from us. He wants you to take the fall, he’ll make a killing on the bets he makes and the losing bets placed on you. He’ll even give us a cut, one hundred grand! If you don’t take the fall though, he’s coming after us. I’m sorry I didn’t know that was what he had planned. *

Malcolm sighed, he knew his friend wouldn’t have agreed to this up front. That didn’t help solve the problem though. *I’m not throwing the fight. I’ll win or lose based on my skill versus Carlos’. Besides we can talk to my dad, he’s got more than enough clout within the police that they’ll take this seriously. We’ll turn state’s evidence and get the police to protect us. It’ll be fine.*

*Are you sure? *

Had he spoken, Malcolm was sure John’s voice would have been shaky and scared as hell. He trusted his dad and he knew that he could help them get out of this safely. *Yeah, I’m sure. Trust me. *

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