The First Age

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Jay was no stranger to blood and death. He was no stranger to dropping men, and the occasional woman, with the pull of a trigger. When he saw the body with the glass standing erect from the chest, he pushed Marcus away and shuffled through the shards of glass. Probably would have been a better idea if he was wearing something more sturdy than hospital socks on his feet. But the sting of glass shards prickled his skin all over anyway. What were a few more?

He stood there over the dead technician. Workers were already clearing paths for safer walking. Dr. Weston was busy. Jay's frown was mixed with a sick sort of guilt. This was his doing. Nothing was going to change. Whether he wanted to or not, this power was a part of him now. Resisting it was only going to get people killed. Better to die on the inside than to accidentally mangle innocent people.

He turned to Marcus, looking him dead in the eye. "I accept any teaching the Ascendancy wants me to have. Please help me control this."

After that, he let them lead him away.

Torri allowed the Consul to take over care of the subject. He was alert and awake, which was good enough for her at this point. Prioritizing was key in this position. Jay was not the only one that was bleeding. There had been a nurse in the room with a wound on her arm that Torri spent a few minutes cleaning and bandaging. She saw Jay push through the broken glass on the floor and hurried to stop him, but he paused on his own, standing over Segar's corpse. He made his piece and she made sure to see him out herself this time.
"How are you feeling?"
The drug would be wearing off by now, and if past experience taught her anything, he would be tired.

She tilted his face with the touch of her fingers. There were thin red slashes from the glass shards across his cheeks and forehead. A thicker line dug across his neck, but they were all relatively superficial.

She was removing the shards from the soles of his feet when word arrived of the Ascendancy's imminent arrival. She swallowed nervously. Besides, Michael, there was no one else she feared more than him.
Marcus kept the smile that wanted to form on his lips from appearinf. There was a desperation in his voice, and Malik squirmed with delight. Guilt. So very useful. And fear.

Yes, Carpenter feared his power. But, more than that- so much more than that- he feared what he might do with it if he couldn't control it.

Marcus smiled comfortingly, reassuringly at the man. "You will have it. I promise. You will have the control."

The assignment from Ascendancy was done. He was in.

But Marcus was not done. No. Not at all. But later. They were at the room. Weston would be there soon. And then he'd find his chance. An opportunity. Another seed.

In the meantime, the Ascendancy would be coming soon. He looked forward to that. The protocols here needed updating. Carpenter's reluctance had been exacerbated by the way he'd been taken. Precautions during tests. Marcus did not knor ow caee whose failure it was. He would voice his concerns when asked. It was not really his responsibility, in truth. He had other, more pressing matters to attend to.

He knew Ascendancy well enough to know he'd be furious. Damage to his facility. Death to staff. The next few hours would prove to be interesting, he imagined.

In any case, he needed to decide how he would present himself to the man. And to think on the future and planted seeds.

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Feb 1 2018, 10:24 PM.

Nox lay on the ground the power slipping through his fingers no matter how hard he tried. There was sound but barely audible on the other side of the door. He knew people were moving, but that was all he knew. The dim lights of the generator powered emergency systems were still on, and the gentle breeze that the shaft was still spewing whatever agent kept the source from was intact.

Whoever had done what they did hadn't been doing it to escape. An accident? There were no alarms, no loud blaring noises. Just movement.

Nox sat up. Giving up. It was one of the hardest things for Nox to do. Admit defeat. He remembered his father too well. All the energy of a man who lived to hunt boiled away into the booze ridden man he had died. He'd given up. Gave up on life when his mother died.

They had lost two parents that day. It just too a few years for their father to die. It had been just him and Aurora. The memories all came back. Poured in like adding milk to cereal, all the cereal starting to float pushing up over the bowl and tumbling out.

Nox remembered the way his mother died. It had been horrific. Living it again and again in nightmares, watching as she was torn apart by claws you couldn't see. The smell of sulfur forever premeated his nose. The smell of blood mingling as her wounds oozed fast and black. And he could do nothing. Frozen in time. Frozen in that moment of horror - forever.

Nox felt the tears flowing down his cheeks. He wouldn't give up. He wasn't his father. Nox pushed up from the ground and started moving, pacing back and forth. Moving, walking but the memories kept flowing kept riding on the waves of the desperation. Sending him spiraling down ... Nox hated the feeling. Hated feeling trapped and weak and broken.

He had to keep moving. Had to get out of here no matter what. Marcus' promises meant little when Nox was certain Ascendancy wasn't letting him out.

A small voice in his head - his sister - it was always his sister spoke to him. "Calm down brother."
He could hear her like it was yesterday. She took him by the hand and spun him in a circle. "Dance for me."

There was no music, there never was. But Nox danced with his sister. It was all in his head, but his body followed suit regardless. He knew she wasn't here, but it was nice to pretend. He missed Aurora.

Edited by Nox, Feb 2 2018, 06:42 AM.
Just before the elevator doors opened, Nikolai glanced the man at his side. Alric stood quietly, but Nik was curious to know the man's thoughts. This was the first time he returned to the place of his awakening. Alric was the first survivor of the Sickness that Nikolai coaxed through the storm. In return, the GSG9 agent swore an oath of loyalty and devotion. He was Nik's shadow ever since. Was it painful to return here? Nik did not have time to ask.

He summoned the powers of the universe into his grasp, willed it into control and entered the bustle of the Facility. A man hurried past with barely time to acknowledge his presence. Nikolai's expression darkened as he went in search of Director Stephenson and Doctor Weston.

Three body bags were lined in the corridor. Nikolai paused before the first and slowly lowered the zipper. The director's pudgy face, empty of life, lay within. He left it, examined the second, then the third.

Jaw tight, the power within seemed to writhe and churn like the presence of death tempted it to life. Nik forced it into submission. His gaze swept past scenes of the injured being tended. Engineers surveyed. Staff cleaned debris.

He had been told that one of their channelers detonated an explosion within the facility during Doctor Weston's procedure. The Ascendancy was a calm flag in the storm blowing all around, though. Something needed to change here, but first and foremost, the integrity of the Facility had to be secured.

he ordered. Tendrils of power snaked along the floor. With them, the glass clinked and churned, tumbling together into one pile in the center that bubbled down into a sphere of crystal that Nikolai left safely, smoothly aside. More threads curled around the exposed wires, dozens at a time, and cinched the exposed, flickering ends to stillness. Then, he cast the aura of his eyes around the walls and wings of all five powers delved out of sight. His eyes slid low and he reached out with the greatness of his senses like fingertips curling around twigs, he examined the architecture of the walls, the steel skeleton, every bolt, every weld, and even the rockbed itself for a hundred meters in all directions. This was his kingdom. He knew every inch of it.

He severed the connection and the power settled in return. "The Facility is safe. What we see is superficial. You can tell the Engineers there is no emergency."

With the darkness of the power settled in the corners of his soul, he went in search of the cause of this destruction.

He found them in a small procedure room. His eyes flicked momentarily to Marcus, wondering how much of this he had been present to observe. The Consul would be questioned later. Then he locked eyes on Doctor Weston. The woman was frazzled, but in as much control as he expected given the situation.

Then his gaze fell onto the one sitting shirtless and tended by the doctor. Cuts crossed his skin like he had been attacked by kittens. The shattered glass was likely the culprit. He was young, but then Nikolai thought everyone was young. He had the bearing of a military man, except for the fact that he had the sense of being utterly lost.

"So, you are Carpenter."

US Special Forces, American, and a Legionnaire with a talent for explosives, it seemed. He would be invaluable if he could be channeled to the right service.

"I think you need to learn some control, young man."

There was nothing but the dream like state Nox left himself in. Aurora dancing with him. It was a memory. One he'd forgotten. It was shortly after his mother had died. She'd helped him through it after waking to the horrible nightmare of watching her die over and over again.

The presence of another god broke through the haze. Nox turned in the direction it came from. The power was immense. The shear volume and strength meant only one thing - Ascendancy.

Had things devolved so far the big man himself had to come and fix things? Or was he here to destroy it all.

"Always so doom and gloom little brother."

Nox turned in the direction he thought his sister had spoken from. And sighed, it was all in his head. It was always in his head. He turned back to the power and felt for his own, but it slipped through his fingers. The seduction of it's call was unnerving now that he couldn't touch it.

The chaos and violence that called from it, so close yet so far away. Oozing from his fingers like day old porridge. Nox pressed the palm of his hands against the walls hoping to feel something but he knew it was pointless. He was going stir crazy...
He winced when Doctor Weston peeled the socks from his feet. A couple chunks of glass clattered to the floor, but Jay pushed the pain aside and focused on not shaking all over. He itched the back of his neck, scrubbed a hand through his hair, and wished he had a shirt on just to tug on the sleeves. Instead, he let his hands fall to his lap and studied the top of Weston's head.

How did he feel? That was a loaded question. Best not to think too hard on the answer. "I feel weird,"
he finally admitted. He was about to seize the light back into his grasp when a darkness yanked his gaze into the far distance.

A menace grew that dwarfed what he'd sensed from Marcus earlier. Blue eyes darted to the man himself like he may have some explanation, but Jay didn't really need to ask. It had to be him.

He pulled his feet from Doctor Weston and stood when the Ascendancy's outline filled the doorway. He suddenly wished he was wearing more clothes, as the man seemed to stare straight into his soul.

This was the Ascendancy. He never thought he would find himself standing in front of Nikolai Brandon. Even the greenest of Recruits, starry eyed with patriotism and dazed with the horror of basic training, never imagined actually standing in front of Nikolai Brandon.

He was shorter than he thought he'd be. Not that the guy was short. He seemed more real than Jay imagined, too. His skin was smooth with youth, but not brushed perfect like on screen. His suit was black like the abyss, but just cloth. There was a magic around Brandon that built up his image that Jay found to be more correct than he was comfortable admitting.

Now this man literally held his life in his hands. The immensity of power that radiated from him made it hard to breathe. The very idea of seizing the power while in his presence was repulsive, like the sense would make him throw up from being overwhelmed.

Jay held that dreadful gaze unwaveringly when Ascendancy addressed him directly. He half wondered if he should kneel or bow or make the sign of the cross over his chest. At that moment, he was acutely aware of being half dressed and slashed up with red lines.

Ascendancy's command cut to the core, though. Ghosts danced on the edges of his vision, and Jay's jaw clenched tight. Fleeting defenses skipped across the edges of his thoughts like rocks on a pond. He wanted to tell Brandon that none of this was his doing. He wanted to say that people's lives were being wasted. That the cost for what he wanted was too high.

Instead, none of these things passed his lips. His throat shut, dry, and he found himself saying words he did not imagine to ever hear his own voice utter. He was swept up into a storm over which he had no control.

"I am your man, Ascendancy. Teach me this control, and I will be your man to the end of my days."

What was worse than saying it though--

He really meant it.

Nikolai stepped forward, laying a hand on Carpenter's shoulder, nodding and holding his gaze carefully. "That you will have, son. I'll spend time with you myself. Until then, leave the power be for now. For the safety of those around you, I'm going to ask you to stay here for a little while. It's for the best. Dr. Weston may need your help a little more, but it will be easier from now on."
His gaze flicked briefly to the doctor. Her work here was important, and while Nikolai confessed to not completely comprehend the science behind it, he appreciated its purpose. He himself assigned her the task, after all. Ultimately, she would be able to tell him who was and was not a channeler long before they touched the Source of their powers. Long before the Sickness took hold. A biometric screen, so to speak. Once science grasped the integration of this power with biology, fears would be alleviated. With knowledge came confidence. With understanding came control. Fear itself was a source of crowd control, but it was a poor campaign. Much as sadism so prevalent among the dictators of the 20th century, it would fail to establish a long or meaningful rule.

That wasn't to say that fear was not useful. Carpenter feared his powers. That much was obvious from his desperate plea. "We will get you settled with Commander Vellas' men for now."

Speaking of Michael, Nikolai swivelled his attention briefly toward Marcus. Pitting the two channelers against each other, testing their loyalties both to himself, to the empire, and to the greater cause, was another useful campaign. So far, Marcus was a valuable asset. He was young, but talented in a rare way for his youth and education. He was also a skilled and powerful channeler in his own right. For all his talents, he was a huge contrast to Michael, whose skills and talents were decidedly more morbid. Nik used his tools carefully, to both extend their longevity but also to protect himself from being wounded in the wielding.

"You'll introduce him to Vellas' ascendants, yes? Thank you for doing me this favor by helping Carpenter find his way so far. Your services will not be needed after this, Consul. I am sure you'll appreciate the time back among the Consulate. There is much to do."

His gaze swept from Marcus back to Jay briefly. "You'll learn to be more careful. No more window explosions, son."
He pat him on the arm then asked the good doctor to walk out with him.

She was quiet, but she was always reserved, a result of her military career. "An expired director and two deaths better have been worth the cost. You are close, I presume. Until I determine how to proceed with your research here, I am appointing you interim Director, Doctor Weston."
He turned to regard her, the power continued to swarm behind the glacial blue of his eyes. "For your sake, I hope you are not the next one to expire."

He departed with Alric as his shadow, seeking one last channeler. Whereas Carpenter was too ignorant to know what he was doing. Nox knew better. He studied the screens outside his cell of the video feed from within. Anyone was likely to be driven insane in solitary confinement with nothing to pass the time. Nikolai disengaged the gas infusion and had Doctor Weston open the locks a minute later to give it time to filter out. He wasn't sure how long it would be before Nox would regain his ability to seize the power, so Nik drew more deeply on his own. At this proximity, Nox would be dead to not notice.

When the door opened, Nikolai took up its frame. The moment the boy looked up at him, Nikolai prepared the weaves that lifted him from the floor like a child gripping a rag doll tight in its fist.

"I gave you an ultimatum once, Nox Durante. Tell me why I shouldn't just kill you here and now and rid myself of being bothered by you again?"

((ooc-Nox moded with permission)).
The power flared outside his door. The power was suffocating. The door opened and Nox looked up and then threads wrapped him up and lifted him from the floor. As if the power wasn't imposing enough as Ascendancy loomed in the doorway.

He felt like a rag doll. The visions of Aurora dashed away with the fear. He didn't want to die like this. At least when the Atharim tried to kill him he could fight back. Ascendancy's words rang in his head but Nox wasn't exactly sure how to respond. He wasn't exactly sure how he was bothering Ascendancy. He hadn't come her of his own free will. The Atharim tried to kill him, he'd been in the hospital then he woke up here. Not his fault.

"I can't give you a reason not to kill me, Ascendancy. However, I think there is a line."
Nox would have laughed but it wasn't funny. "You worked with Aria. I'm not nearly as crazy as she is."

Nox remembered how distraught she was after Dane died. How she ran away from him. He closed his eyes and frowned muttering to himself. "She's going to kill someone."

There was laughter in his head. "I told you she was trouble little brother. You never listen to me."
Her laughter echoed in Nox's head as he contemplated the consequences of talking to his sister - acknowledging her words out loud. But now was not the time or place to agree with her.

Even as Jay nodded with relief, a touch of worry darkened his expression. On one hand, he had next to little interest in using the power again, but the urge to leave it untouched twisted his stomach to knots. His skin already itched uncomfortably with the desire, but he wasn't completely without willpower. At least, he didn't think so.

He scrubbed a hand across his hair and nodded. "Yes, sir,"
his answer was forced, but firm with resolution.

Then, Ascendancy dropped the name of a certain infamous commander. The guy saved the lives of Legionnaires, so his name was passed around the Legion with a certain sense of reverence, but there was fear there too. Commander Vellas was the epitome of being the very weapon that Jay knew he would become.

It was a cost worth paying.
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