It's been over 200 years since the world was dark and uninhabitable for humans. Most think of Cristobel Ortiz and Julian Petzolt as angels of mercy. Others think of us as bloodthirsty revolutionaries, the lesser of two evils. I like to think of myself as more of an anti-hero, not completely good or evil. I'm no angel and neither is Cristobel. Historians say we won the battle without any help. Those historians are wrong. Adriana Mancini-Geraldi was one of our greatest teachers. Nikita and Natalia were so much more than a pair of vampire/evoloid hybrid lesbian lovers with a lust for combat. They saved my life. Simon Geraldi was one of my best friends. The Donovan sisters, Calista and Gabrielle were the heart of the team. Alfonso Mancini aka Tempest and his beloved wife, Elena (Oracle) were my mentors. Without their wisdom and guidance, Cristobel and I would never have embraced our conjoined destinies. The White Knight Society and the White Knight Army were indeed an overall force for freedom and justice. Though we killed and tortured mercilessly, we had our reasons for doing so. Endless hoards of rogues, EAS agents, and Dark Knight Army soldiers built a world of imprisonment for all humans and evoloids alike.
Do I regret what we had to do to save this planet? No, I do not. I would do it again 1,000 times if I needed to. Growing up in a world without sunlight... without hope... without freedom and peace... all of these things made me angry. Cristobel and I were plagued by endless dreams of savagery at its worst throughout our childhoods. We grew up in a world without innocence and happiness. We spent our childhoods knowing that humans thought of us as freaks of nature. I grew up knowing I would never see my mother's face and not even knowing whom my father was and so did Cristobel. Without him, I would be lost. Without me, he would have given up hope years ago. We have what the Dark Knights never had.
Adriana raised me from the time I was five years old. She tried all she could to prepare me for the years after that. Every day she reminded me that I had a destiny. I was skeptical, of course. Losing my mother at birth and Uncle Antonio five years later left me bitter and angry. Adriana and Simon became my surrogate parents while Natalia and Nikita became my aunts. They taught me everything academic they could. Natalia and Nikita trained me in combat while Adriana helped me learn my powers.
By age 17, I became the youngest official member of The Protectors. The Donavon sisters, Calista and Gabrielle, had joined the squad year before at ages 18 and 19. Our fans dubbed us the "Magnificent 7." Our collective nickname was based upon a television series from the 1990's. Together, we fought bravely against hordes of EAS agents, Dark Knights Army squads, and rogues. I felt alone, like something was missing until a fateful day in January.
Chapter 1: Recruitment
The planet, once so vibrant and full of color, was nothing more than a barren wasteland. If only I could remember Earth as a planet teaming with wildlife as well as trees, grass, and flowers growing everywhere. As an evoloid, an evolved human, I can survive such a wasteland. Humans are only safe under the carefully controlled environment of the domed city like Centropolis. The sun was still burning brightly, but thick clouds covered the planet in eternal darkness. `Why did they destroy the planet?' I wondered. All I had been told as that evoloids like us were to blame, that we'd clouded the sky ourselves. Aunt Cassidy was always quiet about it, knowing that the truth would probably scare me. Reading her mind was no easy task. It took all energy I could muster just to learn that much. On rare occasions, we would escape the surface world and go to the underground, where my suppression bracelet would be de-activated. Only then could I use my powers for anything other than closing my mind. I could not live without that one power. The EAS would probe the entire city for evoloids like my aunt and me. Having my mind open to them could result in torture and death. It could also mean forced recruitment into the Dark Knight Army, a fate worse than death. The Dark Knight Army's only purposes were to brutally torturing and murdering the dissenters and preventing uprising.
Centropolis was only about 20 miles away. Escaping was my only hope of survival. The EAS had discovered my secret. They hunted me down, firing their lasers at me as I flew through the air. Luckily, I was able to escape through the underground and exit the dome undetected. My hunger was now tearing at my stomach. Over three days without nourishment made me weak. I was only surviving on instinct and my evoloid advantages. Water was scarce as well and tasted horrible. Unable to continue, I collapsed on the barren ground and unconsciousness overtook me.
As I sleep, the vivid dreams return. The sun was shining brightly in the sky above. It seemed so real for something I'd never seen in real life. The crystal clear blue waters crashed into the beach as if to quench the sand's thirst. Sea gulls swooped above, chirping to their hearts' contentment. The cool gentle breeze kissed my skin and made my long medium brown hair to sway. Turning around, a beautiful young Latin man caught my eyes. He was a little taller than me. His dark brown eyes glistening in the dawn's early light and his wavy black hair flowing through the gentle breeze made him seem so real. A beautiful smile graced his lovely face. He motioned me to come closer to him. I walked towards him. He stood there waiting or at least I thought he was. But before I could reach him, he took flight. Not wanting to lose him, I took to the sky and took off like a rocket, never losing site of the beautiful Latin stallion. Below me I could see the beautiful countryside landscape. Palm trees were spread out throughout, and I could see children playing in the their yards. Ahead of me was a palace, white in color with gold trim throughout the structure, especially the towers. The Latin stud was floating outside a window and only I could see him. As I approached, I noticed a room with three people speaking. I had seen them before, but only in my dreams. I took my place beside the handsome stranger. I glanced at him and smiled, and he did the same. He returned his attention to the two men and the woman in the room. I allowed my mind to go into the room and listen attentively to their every word.
"Elena, if the prophecy is correct, he should be 18 by now," said Alfonso Mancini, the leader of the White Knight Society. His hair was white as snow. His green eyes had a glimmer of hope. Though I'd only seen this legendary man in my dreams, I knew he was one of the greatest evoloids to ever live.
"Alfonso, I have no doubt that the prophecy is correct. I'm unsure of only one thing, whether or not they have met. I know they are alive and well. We will find them," Elena said with confidence. She had long red hair, tightly curled. Her blue eyes were like tiny glistening oceans. The beautiful oracle looked somewhat tired. Her puffy hair and the parenthesis like lines around her luscious red lips could not hide her beauty. She knew her master was not convinced, at least not completely. The other man, with dark brown hair, grey eyes, and pasty white skin made no attempt to hide his skepticism. Something was odd about him. He was different from the other two who were obviously powerful evoloids.
"Elena, you have had some erroneous visions or prophecies, but this is one is the most important of all," Carculius stated. "Are they supposed to come to us? How do we find them?"
"Carculius, I have no doubts about the prophecy. I'm usually right and you know it. I'm not sure how to find them," Dogona sighed. "I know they're out there somewhere. We'll know soon. I know it."
"Do you know their names?" Alfonso asked of Elena. "That would surely help."
"I'm afraid not, sir," she said with sadness. "My vision said nothing about their names, only that they will return this planet to its former glory."
The sexy stranger pulled me away and began to speak. "They speak of us. You must return to Centropolis as soon as possible. Seek me out."
"I don't even know you," I replied. "How am I supposed to find you in a city of 10 million?" He didn't answer. I heard him mumble Cristobel" under his breath. A flash of light blinded me. I was disoriented, but suddenly cold. The icy wind whistled furiously. I could feel cold wetness trickling over my face. I opened my eyes. Finally coming into focus, all I could see was the violent raging blizzard. I could see nothing, except traces of a structure before me. I flew closer to the structure and noticed the ripple. It was a force field. This could only mean one thing, a domed city, but it wasn't Centropolis. I was in the midst of a much colder wasteland, than my native city. The city of my origin was in the middle of what used to be the United States on the border of two Midwestern states, Missouri and Kansas. I remember Aunt Cassidy referring to Centropolis as formerly being known as the Kansas City Metropolitan area, a designation that disappeared over 200 years previously, before the earth became an uninhabitable wasteland.
"Wake up!" I heard. An unfamiliar female voice had uttered the words. "I said wake up, you fool." I felt a slap across my face. My eyes opened for real this time. I was still in a daze from my slumber. "What the fuck are you doing out here?" I did not answer. Instead, I looked into the eyes of the unfamiliar woman who had awakened me. Her eyes were glowing. I knew immediately what she was, a vampire and evoloid hybrid. She was beautiful. Glowing eyes were a rare sight for me, because Aunt Cassidy and lived above ground in Centropolis, protected only by our bracelets and the power to close our minds. The early 31st century was not a good time for either species.Vampires lived in the underground of Centropolis with my own kind, the evoloids. Both species had to live in the underworld, evoloids because of the EAS vampires because of the artificial sunlight and artificial UV rays of the controlled dome environment. At least vampires could surface at night, hunting victims whenever they needed to do so. Their elders as well as the White Knight society, forbid the vampires from feeding upon us while simultaneously forbidding us from being sired by the vampires. It was a law strictly enforced with the threat of death. Two centuries had brought our species together, but only out of survival. A few hybrids did exist, however. The vampires responsible were executed. The recently turned evoloids were interrogated and by the end of the interrogation, their guilt or innocence was known. If the new hybrid were transformed without consent, he or she was innocent. If, however, the hybrid allowed the transformation, he or she would be executed. "Say something! You don't want to try my patience.
"I had to escape the EAS," I finally admitted. "I went to the underground, but I fled the city just to be safe. I could ask you the same question. What are you doing here?"
"Don't get smart with me, little boy," she snarled. "It took me three days to track your scent, young evoloid. You're lucky you weren't killed by a group of rogues. They'd kill you either for your blood or your possessions. It's dangerous out here, even for you. You shouldn't be so damn foolish, boy."
"I'm not a boy. I'm 18," I said defensively.
"I'm 250 years old, you ungrateful bastard," she replied. I could feel her anger building. "You're lucky I've fed recently. Otherwise, I'd drain the life right out of you just for insulting me."
"I'm sorry," I said remorsefully. "I had no choice but to escape. I didn't want to endanger anyone."
"Don't give me that," she snickered. "You should know that the EAS dare not enter the underground. Vampires like myself revel in sucking them dry just so you evoloids can incinerate their corpses."
"Well, I don't think I'm a pyrokinetic," I replied. "My powers are mostly psionic."
"Young evoloid, that's the only training you've had," she stated without hesitation. "Your evolo count is 105. That's twice the normal rate. It's phenomenal. Only three others have similar evolo counts. You're a rare specimen indeed."
"You're definitely a powerful hybrid," I told her. "I can sense it. I know you don't wish to harm me."
"You're quite perceptive," she replied. "I'm one of the 7 protectors. They call us the `Magnificent 7'. We're part of the White Knight Society. The order to find you came from the top. We can't let you get snagged by the Dark Knights. They may control the politics of the planet, but we won't let them have you. I'm Nikita by the way. This is my partner, Natalia."
"I'm Julian, Julian Petzolt," I said. "Thanks for finding me and not killing me."
"I apologize for my partner's grumpiness," said Natalia. "She uses her tough exterior to hide the softness inside. I can bring it out of her. Anyway, you look like you haven't eaten in days. We would offer you some food, but I don't think you'd like blood very much. Then again, I could probably conjure something palatable."
"You're a conjurer?" I asked. She nodded in the affirmative. I'd heard stories about conjurers, but they're extremely rare. "Well, a burrito would suit me just fine." A circling sparkle of light started spinning in her hands, eventually revealing a burrito. It was amazing. I had never seen anything like this.
"Here you go, kiddo," she said. "Don't take too much time. We need to leave this place." I ate my bean and cheese burrito. It was delicious. How a hybrid could conjure such delicious food was beyond me. Then again, I hadn't eaten in days so it was a welcome comfort. After finishing the burrito, something caught my eye. Rogues surrounded us. There had to be at least ten of them.
"Can you fight?" Nikita asked. "Never mind, I saw your work a few days ago. There had to be at least 5 dead EAS agents on the ground." I didn't answer as the small mob approached. Their masks hid their identities, but still knew what they were. They were all evoloid. Nikita attacked first. She jumped kicked her first target with relative ease, knocking him unconscious. A green ball of energy shot from her hands and her target was completely destroyed. Two of them started circling me. One tried to strike me a few times. I blocked with relative ease since my uncle's training was so extensive. The other grabbed me. Volts of electricity shot through me as my attacker continued charging his electric energy through my body. Acting out of pure instinct, I attacked his mind. The attack made him relinquish me immediately. I swept his feet from under him and punched a hole through his ribcage to remove his bleeding heart. My other attacker fled in fear, only to be decapitated by Natalia's katana sword.
"Who wants a heart to eat?" I asked of my vampire comrades who had already finished off the other raiders.
"We prefer the carotid artery," Nikita said impatiently. "You're not a vampire. How did you find his heart?"
"Why would be a better question, Nikita," Natalia reminded her. "I knew he fucked up those EAS agents, but he killed this electroid without mercy."
"I may not have been watching, but I could sense exactly what you two were doing to the others," I said. "Decapitations, bone breaking, and appendage ripping seem to be your specialties. I had to impress two vampire lesbians. I figured ripping out a man's heart would do the trick."
"How did you know?" Natalia asked. "We never told you we were lovers."
"You didn't have to tell me a damn thing. My ability to close my own mind also allows me to see into other's minds. Don't worry. I don't know all of your secrets. Your love for each other is easy for me to feel." I paused for a moment and looked at their astonishment. They had know idea of my powers. I had told them of my psionic abilities, but they didn't seem to understand just how powerful. It was easy for me to sense their emotions. "Don't look so surprised. I told you about my abilities. And you're not the ones who should be impressed. You two killed more of the rogues than I did. If anything, you made me look pathetic."
"Then again, these evoloids were nothing compared to us, except maybe that electroid," Nikita stated emphatically. "Not even we can escape their grasp that easily."
"Well, all I had to do was invade his brain and tell his brain to stop attacking me," I replied. "He had an amazingly weak mind."
"Well, his electokinesis made up for it," said Natalia. "I've always envied electroids. Causing a body to explode from electrical current makes me feel all warm and fuzzy."
"Well, I think I can make this heart explode," I focused energy to my hands. The electricity built up in my arm and soon pulses of electricity were making the heart pump faster and faster. The electricity became more than the heart could handle. Chunks of muscle and blood covered my clothes and the barren soil below.
"That's sick," Nikita snarled.
"What? You drain humans of blood on a monthly basis," I reminded her. "How can an exploding heart make you cringe?"
"That's not what surprised me," she replied. "Most evoloids avoid getting blood all over them. You must be mentally disturbed or something."
"Sorry," I said. "I was filled with their emotions of indifference and hate. I can't control it very well." That was not all, of course. While the dark emotions of the rogues hit me like a freight train, my anger had already been building up. Being chased around a city by EAS agents isn't exactly my idea of happiness. Couple that with all of the vivid nightmares and there's definitely a lethal combination. Being in the darkened wasteland poisons the soul; the ever present abyssal earth was depressing. While I didn't know the whole story, some of my dreams featured the ominous knight on the back of a fire-breathing horse with bat wings and glowing red eyes. The apocalyptic knight and his trusty steed's presence made everything cold and barren. The skies darkened with their every moment through the sky. To me, it represented the Dark Knight Party that left humans oblivious to the reasons for the planet's barren appearance. They, unlike evoloids and vampires, had no idea why the planet was shrouded in darkness. They were also oblivious to the fact that the domed cities across the planet were prisons, keeping them under the control of an extremely oppressive and ruthless government entity, while the rest of us had some idea just how evil the Dark Knight machine really was.
"It's okay. The age of innocence is nothing but a distant memory," said Natalia. "Even before we were turned, we knew to be ruthless and unforgiving. It's the only way to survive this cruel world. We know you have much to learn. It's time for you to meet the rest of the gang."
"Well, they may night like me," I replied. "I'm not exactly a joy to be around."
"Well, we like you," said Nikita. I was shocked at her confession. "You're not bad for a young man. I guess you probably like women too, so that's always a plus."
"Ummmm... I actually like other men," I rebutted. "I'm sorry to disappoint you. It's not that I don't find women attractive at all. I just..."
"We don't need details," Natalia snickered. "We just need to get you back to the underground. I can conjure a portal." Sparkling lights once again escaped her hands. The portal started to take shape. It looked almost like water. Blue rays of light protruded from the outside. "Let's get going. We've been gone for 3 days now. They probably think something is wrong. They get nervous when the hunters are gone." I walked in front of the portal, amazed by its glowing light. I stood there mesmerized at its magnificence.
"What are you waiting for, kid?" Nikita snarled. "Get in there." I did not disobey. I walked through the portal. The vortex made me spin around while I went to a free fall. I could see the blue light traveling around me and only a bottomless hole at the bottom. I panicked. I couldn't believe this. Suddenly, I stopped. Some kind of force turned my body to a standing position and started drawing me forward. The room became clear. I launched forward into the room and landed on my face. Nikita and Natalia were already there, and they were smiling laughing.
"Did you really think we'd make it a pleasant trip?" Natalia laughed. "The look on your face is just classic. I made that portal just for you, kid."
I used my psionic ability and landed on my feet. I dusted myself off. I said nothing. I wasn't happy with the trick. I decided to give them both a little blast of psychic energy for it, that is until I saw the hot Latin stud from my dream walking towards us. I was mesmerized by him. His face was that of an angel. His wavy black hair was even more beautiful than it was in my dream. He stood right in front of me. I couldn't keep my eyes away from his own. "Ummmm... hi Cristobel," I said. That was all I could say.
"How did you know my name?" Cristobel asked of me. "I've seen you before. I can't believe you're here."
"I thought it was just a..." I paused. How could this be? He was in my dream. How could he be standing here in front of me? How could he have the same dream. It's not possible. Was it more than a dream?
"Oh, it was more than a dream." The words were from another female voice. I saw a cloud of purple smoke. It was unreal. She flung the smoke away with her cape. She was beautiful. Her hair was lavender, just like her eyes. Her skin was a milky white and it glowed. "I'm Adriana. You must be Julian. I see you've already met Cristobel. His appearance in your dream was no coincidence. He's a dream maker. He does not know how to control his powers yet. He sought you in a dream, not knowing how or why."
"I... I..." I didn't know what to say. I was dumbfounded. I'd never heard of a dream maker. Entering someone else's dreams was probably a rare evoloid power. I noticed something else. I can usually sense emotions. I could not read his. He could close his mind to me, something nobody else could do, not even my aunt. I started wondering where she was. I hadn't seen her since my escape from the city. She ordered me to leave. She was fighting EAS agents. I knew I couldn't save her at the time. Her only concern was my safety. She's tough, but is she tough enough to fight off those EAS agents? "I was wondering where Aunt Cassidy is. Is she okay? Did they capture her?"
"No, they didn't," said another woman in the room. She was blonde with light blue eyes. "They hurt her really bad. She's resting. Gabrielle left town on an assignment. She'll heal your aunt when she returns. I'm Calista."
"It's nice to meet you, Calista," I replied. "Can I see Aunt Cassidy?"
"Of course you can," Calista replied. "She insists."
Calista led me into room towards the back of the underground dwelling. The place was fairly small, but cozy. I noticed that there were only 5 bedrooms, meaning that most would have to share a room. I walked by the first bedroom. The names Nikita and Natalia were beside the door just below the retinal scanner. Across the hall on the left was another door. The names Adriana and Simon appeared above the keypad. We continued walking down the hallway. I noticed two more rooms. The room on the right said Calista and Gabrielle. The one on the left said Cristobel. At the end of hall straight ahead was a bedroom labeled "Guests." Calista put her eye up to the scanner and the door slid open. "She's in here."
I walked into the room. Surprisingly it was large. There were four beds twin sized beds in the room, all in a row from left to right. Aunt Cassidy lay in the bed second from the right. She was resting. I walked towards the bed. She was apparently weak and tired from the attack. Apparently, she had refused to use invisibility, instead endangering her own life as the EAS agents stormed our home, much to the dismay of Maximus. He worked for the EAS but only as a spy for the White Knights. He was in a chair on the other side of the bed. "Honey, Julian is here." She opened her eyes. Though she was obviously in pain, she smiled at me. Her blue eyes lit up as she saw me. She reached out her hand brushing it against my own.
"You shouldn't go into the wasteland, Julian," she reminded me. "I've always told you that the underground is safe as long as you don't piss off the vampires. I was so worried about you."
"I'm sorry, Aunt Cassidy," I replied. "I panicked. Ten agents were chasing me through the streets. I couldn't fly fast enough. I went through the first portal to the underground I could find. I just kept flying, getting as far away as possible. I went through the exit tunnel and wandered into the wasteland. I over-reacted. It won't happen again."
"It better not. Next time Nikita and Natalia will kill you instead," she warned. "They don't even like hunting in the wasteland. We all avoid the wasteland. It's not safe for anyone. Small tribes of rogue roam through the wasteland, searching for people to rob and murder. They're merciless. If anything, you're safer with the EAS agents!"
"Speaking of EAS agents, how are you Uncle Max?" I asked. "I'm sure you had to flee your post as well."
"Yes, I did," he replied. "Chaz will be the lone wolf now. He'll be fine. You taught him the mind block well. I might as well tell you. I was reporting information to The Protectors. I'm sorry we didn't tell you everything. Adriana said it was important not to tell you until your bracelet overloaded. You're now ready for your destiny."
"What's my destiny?" I asked. "I just thought I was a lowly evoloid. What can I possibly do?"
"You'll know soon enough," he replied. "Adriana and Cristobel will tell when you're ready. You'll start hand-to-hand combat training with Nikita tomorrow evening. Listen to what she says. You're not a beginner, but she knows more than you'll ever learn. She is well-trained in mixed martial arts. She's been studying for over 200 years. Her only rival is Natalia. They may be lovers, but they love sparring with one another. Natalia is an expert with weapons training, but for right now, you need to focus on hand-to-hand with Nikita. You may be up all night."
"I've seen what they can do," I said. "They killed nine rogues. I killed the electroid myself. I'm still aching from the attack. I shut him down though. He was no match for my psionic abilities. I attacked his mind with a vengeance, forcing him to release me. I swept his feet and ripped his heart out. I felt the electricity building in my body. The heart pumped faster and faster until it exploded in my hand."
"No wonder your clothes are covered in blood," said Uncle Max. "You don't need to use that tactic. Besides, that's a signature Black Heart kill. Your power absorption only requires a kill. Find your own signature."
"Wait, I have power absorption powers?" I asked. I didn't even know. I knew very little about Black Heart. I did know he was a psionic absorber, but I had no idea I had this extremely rare power. I only knew I could share some of my powers at will and that others could share powers with me if they wanted.
"Yes, you do," he replied. "In due time, you'll understand why. Adriana wants to break you in slowly. She doesn't wish to overwhelm you. She knows all about you. Her mother is Oracle. Oracle foresaw your destiny. We were told to keep it a secret until your `awakening'."
"Well, I know she is powerful," I replied. "That purple smoke is really cool. I've never seen anything like it. I wouldn't kill her or anything, but that would be a nice power to add to my collection."
"I don't think so, young man," Aunt Cassidy replied. "She is one of only two evoloids with purple haze. Her father, Tempest, is the other. They started the organization. Destiny or not, they won't put up with you taking her life and stealing the power, and don't even ask for her to share it. She won't. She might reconsider if she were dying, but even then it will be unlikely since Gabrielle can heal her. God, where is that girl. I am hurting here."
"You called?" said a beautiful young blonde. "Simon and I were in White Knight City on assignment. Those Dark Knight soldiers should have known better, but we destroyed them all. How they got to a hidden city in the artic is beyond me."
"Wait... I think I saw White Knight City in my dream," I said. "I was flying to a large palace and listening to a conversation between Tempest, Oracle, and Carculius. Adriana said that the dream was implanted. Anyway, I ended up in a blizzard afterwards. Then Nikita slapped me, and I woke up."
"Adriana will tell you more," Gabrielle replied. "She and Nikita are waiting for you in the conference room. Simon will show you the way. I'd let you stay and watch the healing, but you're wanted. Simon, lead him out." Simon led me back down the hall, but instead of going back to the living quarters, we took a left and entered the conference room. The conference room was standard. The table was clear and about 10 feet wide. There were roughly 20 chairs. In front of every seat was a virtual typing console and a holographic display screen. The walls were also clear and capable of displaying images of their own. I was instructed to sit in a chair in the middle so that the wall in the back of the room could be clearly seen. Adriana was seated on the chair on the left end and Nikita was in the one on the right.
"Julian, we are going to discuss your future in our organization," Adriana stated after clearing her throat. "First of all, you have a unique gift of psionic absorption. You are a rare and special specimen indeed."
"How did I receive this gift?" I asked. "I'm just an evoloid from Centropolis. I'm no better than anyone else."
"Evoloid powers vary in many ways," Nikita started. "Some evoloid powers are based on personality. Other powers are based upon parentage. You also have the powers of super-human strength and flight. While they are more common than your psionic absorption power, they are useful against enemies."
"You still have not said why I have this power," I scowled. "The only other known psionic absorber is Black Heart. I'm nothing like him."
"The answers will be clear someday," Adriana said. Her expression was worrisome. "Learning your powers and improving your combat skills is our main focus. Protecting the people is our responsibility. We are defying the law. We are rebels. Our long-term goal is ending the 200 year reign of the Dark Knights. Do you want to be a part of it?"
"Yes, I do," I said. "How could I not? Aunt Cassidy and Uncle Max taught me about the Dark Knights and how this planet used to be."
"I'm the only one here who was alive before the crystal blue skies became mired in darkness and before the land was became scorched and barren." Nikita's words were accompanied by pain. I often dream of the planet being restored to its former greatness. While the planet was torn by war over the centuries, many parts of the planet remained lush and green. "There is work to be done. First, we must stop the Evoloid Acquisition Squad at all costs. The EAS tortures and kills evoloids found above ground. The whole idea is the massive cover-up by the world government. Non-evoloids have been force fed propaganda. The government tells them that evoloids are the reason for the planet being a massive wasteland, when it was in fact our current government leaders. The people think the president is Joseph McMullan, but Black Heart and Diabolico are the puppet masters. The World Congress passes all legislation that Black Heart and Diabolico want."
"How can we stop them?" I asked. "They're too powerful for the eight of us to take down."
"Defeating the Dark Knights will be no easy task," Adriana warned. "We are building our forces. We are slowly eradicating the EAS. After that, our focus will be the World Army aka Dark Knight Army and other branches of the military. The Dark Knights have also occupied the planet, Nerongia. At present, that is where Black Heart and Diabolico are. We are currently allied with Nerongia's sister planet, Dugamonia. Some of our side missions also involve hunting and destroying rogues. In actuality, some rogues are hired by the government to terrorize the human population. What do you have to add, Nikita?"
"The rogues we dispatched earlier were probably trying to rob us," Nikita said. "The wasteland drives them to madness. Government officials take advantage of their instability. Rogues love to steal and kill. The government portrays us as rogues even though we actually capture or kill rogues whenever possible. That's why we use disguises. Our identities are closely guarded secrets. My code name is Rouge and Adriana's is Haze. When you speak to us in the field, refer to us with our code names. I'm getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow you start your training. The first order of business is evaluating your skill level. That electrokinetic was able to lure you into a powerful attack. You're powerful enough to avoid such an attack, yet you didn't. On the other hand, you dispatched five EAS agents. I'm impressed."
"Uncle Max taught me a lot," I admitted. "I don't know why I didn't defeat the electrokinetic more easily."
"You have to find your opponent's weakness and exploit it," Adriana said. "They are weak against psionic attacks. The brain works through surges of electricity. Electokinesis allows them to produce a large amount of electricity than most. The electricity starts in the brain and moves into their arms escapes the body through the hands. There is a stronger and much more dangerous electrokinetic attack. The attacker collects electricity from electrons in the air as well as electricity from an energy source. The electricity forms into a ball of lightning, and the electrokinetic hurls the projectile at his or her opponent. You have collected this power. Because of your psionic powers, you are less vulnerable to psionic attacks. For now, we're going to focus on your hand-to-hand combat. Tomorrow evening, your training begins with Nikita. She has over 200 years of experience. She also trains recruits for the White Knight Army. Max will be filling in for her in the interim. She will be assessing you first. You will start in a virtual world and then you will be sparring with one of the recruits. Your powers will be disabled during all sparring exercises. Your training with Max and Nikita will be your all you have to work with during this part of your training. Do you understand?"
"Yes, I understand," I replied. "I've seen what she and Natalia can do. I have nothing but respect for them."
"I'm still in the room," Nikita snapped. "You should address both of us. I was going to tell you about your training, but Adriana covered the bases. I think you need to take a shower and go to bed. The elevator is on the right side of the living quarters. The living quarters are where you entered through the portal. We are on level 1. The shower room is on Sub-level A. After you finish, the robot will give you a towel and fetch your pajamas. The robot will lead you to your elevator that will take you directly to your sleeping quarters."
The shower was great. I had not showered in four days. The computer system automatically selected the best water temperature for me as well as the best. I thought about my time in the wasteland. I could have died. Those rogues could have killed me if Natalia and Nikita hadn't saved me. I started having a flashback, but not my own. Griffin, the electrokinetic was enjoying a kill. He was only 12, and his victim was a little girl around 8 or 9 years. "You deserve this, Stella." He was electrocuting her. The face was severely burned and disfigured. What horrified me the most was I was enjoying the attack. He was a merciless killer; her pain and suffering were like his favorite drug. He stared at the lifeless body and started laughing. Apparently, I was laughing myself.
"Why are you laughing?" resonated from a male voice.
"Ummmm... I... I was thinking about a joke," I lied. Cristobel didn't seem convinced.
"No, that's not why you were laughing, Julian," he grumbled.
"I was having a flashback, only it wasn't my own," I admitted. "It was... It was Griffin's memory. I must have absorbed some of his memory. He was the one I dispatched earlier this evening."
"They were afraid of that," he said. I could tell he was worried. His eyes widened a worrisome frown crossed his face. It was as if he thought the memories would make me dangerous. That was the first time I absorbed a power. The memories were fragmented. I only had pieces of the memory. I thought about how I ripped out the man's heart. Everyone seemed uncomfortable with it. It just seemed to fit for some reason. I was acting on pure instinct. Thinking back, I knew something wasn't right about it. I knew the brutality was excessive. The anger overpowered me.
"I could feel his emotions," I cried. "He enjoyed killing her. I've never seen such lack of compassion, such emptiness. I want it to go away. I don't want to think like that. I'm not evil."
"If you were evil, you wouldn't be here." I didn't believe him. Ripping out a man's heart seemed horrendous, even considering Griffin's complete lack of empathy and compassion and his lust for blood. I was laughing as I remembered the grisly murder of that innocent child. "Let's go to our sleeping quarters. I can put you into soothing dreams. Your earliest kills are the hardest. Do you feel bad about the EAS agents?"
"No, I don't feel bad about killing EAS agents," I admitted. "They are responsible for killing our kind. Why should I have any compassion for them?"
"You shouldn't. You shouldn't feel any remorse for killing rogues and EAS agents. You do need a new signature. Black Heart rips out the hearts of his victims. He enjoys it. You have a connection to him just as I have a connection to Diabolico." I wondered what he meant by that. I knew we shared our powers with the Dark Knights, but I wasn't sure why.
"I don't understand why we share their powers, Cristobel. They're responsible for what happened to the planet. I despise them." It was true. I longed to see a cloudless sky and meadows teaming with life. The city had artificial sunlight and trees, but it's not the same. The world had been consumed by darkness by the most evil and malicious men the world had ever known. They're responsible for millions of deaths.
Cristobel's Journal- January 4, 3007
I finally met Julian today. I knew we were destined to meet. Adriana told me so. She's never led me astray. She told me it would be 4 days after our 18th birthdays when we'd meet. There's so much I want to tell him, but she won't let me. I guess he's not ready to learn the truth. I feel like I'm lying to him. He had all of those dreams on his own. I simply entered them at will. Our connection is stronger than he knows.
He looks like an angel when he sleeps. I was so worried about him. The wasteland is perilous. If something would have happened, I don't know what I do. I know I've only seen him in dreams, watching him from a distance, but I like him a lot. I don't know how to tell him or if I should. Will he freak out? Will he feel the same way? Maybe I can enter his dreams again and find out. No, I won't do it. I already induced his pleasant dreams with beautiful forestry with waterfalls and peaceful beaches. I would love to join him there. Maybe, he'll be in my dreams for once.
Wishing and hoping,