Authors: Grayson Queen
Tags: #Science Fiction/Superheroes
Absolute Power: Book 1: Origins
Published by Queen Creative. Available in print.
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Table of Contents
A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
- Mahatma Gandhi
In the 1950’s, unbeknownst to the public, society had drifted towards an extraordinary change. The industrialization of the world was nearly complete. Man and machine were intertwined; science turned from theory to fact, and ideas that would have taken decades to create were manufactured in months. Life sped up from a crawl to a blur. Governments raced to reach the stars. As technology rocketed forward, humanity underwent a similar change.
Men and women across the globe were beginning to exhibit unusual abilities. And quietly a small group of scientists began to study these anomalies. Their findings were compiled into a report that proved the existence of Super-Human beings.
After the report was released, public fear incited the major world powers to investigate these scientific findings further. In 1964, it was concluded and announced to the world that these beings did, in fact, exist. The United Nations decided that an organization would be needed to police these entities, or risk destruction and loss of life. The organization was granted autonomous authority in order to prevent any nation from using these beings to garner strength. It became a sovereign entity with an unhindered power over the Super-Human population. Ten years after the worldwide revelation, The Office of New Entities was chartered, and The One was formed.
The first duty of The One was to track and monitor Super-Humans. Officers of The One were appointed from the global pool of Super-Humans. Those people who had been outcast as monsters or feared their abilities willingly joined The One. They received customized training and were accepted into a community that understood them. It wasn’t long before their numbers increased into the hundreds.
Seeing a great potential for good, the UN created an amendment to The One’s charter. The change required the organization to act as a relief agency to help protect the civilian population in the event of a disaster. For several years, The One’s agents were credited for coordinating rescue missions and helping contain disasters. Iconic images of officers rushing families to safety became synonymous with The One, and public acceptance grew.
In the late 70’s, Russia and its’ allies attempted to subvert the authority of The One by creating an army of Super-Human soldiers, the Red Iron. At the request of the UN, The One invaded northern Russia. Cities and settlements in the region were turned into wastelands.
It was very cold. Captain Porter's breath hung in the air like a cloud then rose and dissipated. The hairs in his nostrils were frozen so that it hurt every time he touched his nose. He looked back at Sergeant Collins and laughed at the misery on his face.
“I don't know what you think is so funny,” Collins said.
First Platoon was crouch on the back side of a large drift of snow. All five of them bundled in thermal camouflage. Next to Porter ther
was a young Private lying in the snow and staring down a rifle scope. He was watching as Second Platoon crossed into the open field ahead. Third and Fourth Platoon had already swung around to the right to help cover them.
“We've been here for over a year,” Porter said. “And you still haven't gotten used to the cold? Adapt or die.”
“That's easy for you to say,” Collins grumbled. “For all you know you can't die. I have to sit here and worry about frostbite, but you're cool as a cucumber.” He laughed and added, “Pun intended.”
“I might not have to worry about losing a finger, but it hurts just the same,” Porter told him.
“Movement,” the sniper interrupted.
Both Porter and Collins went silent as they waited for more information. Second Platoon had spotted something in the field and was moving in to investigate.
Porter and Foxtrot Company were so far north that they should have passed to the rear of the enemy's position. From all reports, nobody was supposed to be out here. Not the Red Iron, the Russian regulars and not even The One. There were certainly no civilians, and that allowed them clearance to use full force. Porter was happy to give the order for safeties off.
“Target acquired,” the sniper said under his breath then fired. The shot echoed off the ice, breaking the silence. “It's down,” he said to Porter and rolled onto his back. “Just a rabbit.”
A moment later Second Platoon's Lieutenant came over the radio, “It's clear. And tell the kid nice shot.”
“Copy,” Porter replied. “Foxtrot Company, fall into formation and start heading due east.”
The four men with Porter were glad to be on their feet and moving. Sitting too long let the cold seep into their bones. Once their core temperature started falling they'd never get warm again.
Their snow shoes left a funny trail across the icy tundra. The company marched east in a wide formation for another two miles. Porter trusted The One Intelligence Department, but only so far. He wanted his people watching as much terrain as possible. During the last year, the Russians had shown over and over that they were focused on defensive positions. There was something they were protecting, and it was important enough to dictate their methods. So Porter took it upon himself to circumvent their strategy. His battalion commander liked the idea and signed off on the trek.
“Third Platoon, hold,” a command came through the radio.
Porter brought up his binoculars and scanned north for Third Platoon. What he wouldn't give for a telepath right about now. A hold order by one of his Lieutenants was paramount to saying, keep down and keep quiet. Porter gave the equivalent hand signal to his platoon. They waited to hear the all clear, but it never came.
From over a hill of snow came an explosion. The blast sent a fireball a hundred yards into the air.
“Third Platoon is taking fire,” the voice came back. “Second is moving in to assist.” They were the closest.
“Give them cover to fall back, Second Platoon,” Porter ordered. “Fourth, move to flank and hit those bastards.” He turned and signaled to his people to move double time.
They were heading straight into the fray. Hopefully, Second Platoon could hold off the enemy until Porter arrived.
Something shot through the sky. Porter slowed and brought his rifle up to sight on the target. He followed the figure up into the sun and lost it. Then suddenly it raced down at an incredible speed. It was hard to tell, but Porter knew it was a man. The ground shook from the sonic boom, and a blast of air tossed his platoon into the snow.
Not bothering to get up Porter shouted into the radio, “Red Iron. Red Iron. Regroup on my position.” There was no reply.
He moved his platoon to the top of the snow bank and saw the rest of his people being obliterated. A Red Iron Super-Human battalion was charging straight at them. The few soldiers left in Third Platoon were too far to reach. Second Platoon was doing its best to slow the Red Iron down, but five against eighty meant nothing. Porter saw no sign of Fourth Platoon and was about to call them when he heard a familiar sound. It was an incoming mortar shell, and it put the fear of God into his unit. There wasn't much they could do other than drop and cover their heads.
The shell hit the far side of the embankment blasting Porter with ice. Flung down the hill, he came to a sliding stop. A Russian heavy artillery team was taking position behind them. He counted four mortars, three tanks and some RPGs.
“Get up,” he shouted. “Get up and get moving.”
He crawled to a nearby soldier and lifted him to his feet. It was Collins, and he was dead; his face had been burned nearly beyond recognition. The three other men were struggling to their feet. Porter grabbed them by their shirts, pushing and shoving them over the hill. The first priority was to find cover from the shelling. He’d worry about the Red Iron next.
As soon as they disappeared over the ridge, the Russian regulars quickly changed targets. They redirected their fire on Second Platoon and let out a full barrage. Through the smoke, Porter couldn’t tell if anyone had survived.
The Red Iron had already cut its way through Third Platoon.
Porter assumed Fourth platoon was KIA.
He looked at his remaining men. They all had abilities more suited to close range combat, including Porter. The best option was the Private with the sniper rifle.
To the two others he said, “Move to the next hill then cover our position. Me and the kid will cover you.”
They were afraid and knew the odds of surviving were slim. Nevertheless they nodded and made ready to run. Porter checked his weapon and knelt to face the charging enemy. The kid rested his rifle on Porter's shoulder and flipped open the scope. The two of them took aim as the wave of Super-Humans came closer.
“You're going to have to make your best guess with the targets,” Porter said to the Private. “Don't bother with the fast ones or the armored ones.”
When the Red Iron was in the Private’s scope, he started shooting. One shot, one kill. Porter had to wait another minute before his assault rifle would be in effective range. Porter opened fire, and the Red Iron did as well. The return fire went wide, but a few rounds hit Porter square on. He gritted his teeth and jammed his boots deeper into the snow. No matter what, he would stand his ground, using his body to shield the kid.
“Move,” Porter heard his radio.
He tapped the kid who didn't hesitate to run, and then two seconds later Porter turned to follow. A hail of fire pounded his back as he went. The kid was making good time to the next hill and for a second he thought they had a chance.
He forgot about the flyer.
The man came screaming through the sky, smacking into the Private at full speed. The boy was thrown almost out of sight. He had most likely died on impact. It didn't matter because the Red Iron was on Porter a minute later. An electric blast caught him in the leg knocking him to the ground. It was quickly followed by a steady stream of machine gun fire. When they realized he wouldn't die, they beat him into unconsciousness.
John Porter woke up in a dark room tied to a chair. His clothes were in tatters, and the cold air bit his skin. He hurt. Everything in him hurt. The image of Collins' burned face, the kid being knocked into oblivion and the knowledge that all nineteen deaths were on his head.
It was enough to make him overlook the man standing in the corner.
“I'm very impressed,” the man said in a thick Russian accent. “I'm guessing you are invulnerable?”
“John Porter, Captain, S-5-3-3-6-H,” Porter mumbled.
“Nice to meet you, John Porter,” the man said, “They call me... What's the translation? The Boneman. Do you know why they call me this?”
“John Porter, Captain, S-5-3-3-6-H,” Porter repeated.
“Because I can break bones, anyone’s, with a touch,” The Boneman said. “But I'll tell you a secret, I tried it on you when you were sleeping. And you know what?” He pretended to wait for an answer. “Nothing. Nothing happened. This is making me very annoyed. So the question is how do you get information from a man who won't break?” Again he paused. “The answer is that all men break. We only need to find out how.”
The Boneman opened a door and waved another man into the room. The two spoke in Russian and then turned their attention back to Porter.
“You met my comrade earlier, I believe,” The Boneman said. “I was curious to note that when he electrocuted you, you fell. You weren't burned. Your organs were okay. So tell me John Porter, Captain, do you feel pain?”
The other man didn’t wait for an order. He sent an arc of electricity through the air. The energy reached out and grabbed Porter. Maybe in another situation or another time Porter would have been ready for it, but he was so tired. He was already in so much pain.
Porter screamed, and The Boneman smiled.
The Boneman made a small gesture, and the electricity stopped. “Very good,” he said. “Now we begin. Tell me how many forces? Where are they stationed? What is their plan?”
“John Porter, Captain, S-5-3-3-6-H,” Porter said.
“Do not be annoying,” The Boneman said. “If you don't have my answers, don't bother saying anything. Now, maybe we start with an easy one. What was the name of your company? You know, all those dead boys and girls?”
Porter stayed quiet. The Boneman signaled, and the electricity ripped into him.
The blaring sound of the Russian national anthem was deafening. Porter had lost count of how many times he’d heard it. At first the sound was like a drill in his brain, keeping him from falling asleep. Now it had turned into a trance, lulling him into a state somewhere between dreams and consciousness. His chin dropped to his chest, and a second later Porter was engulfed in pain. The current seized his muscles causing him to thrash around in his restraints. Then the electricity stopped. Porter heard laughter between the blare of trumpets.
His skin had grown so hot that it began to steam. He didn’t even have the strength to scream anymore. Then it stopped, and they gave him a second to catch his breath.
“Was that it, Lieutenant?” The Boneman asked, then wrote in a notebook. “Sustained current for eight minutes twenty seconds.”
“He was getting too hot,” the Lieutenant explained.
Porter’s eyes were having trouble focusing. He was looking at something; it was important, but his mind couldn’t put anything together.
“As well,” The Boneman said. “He needs his strength to answer our questions.”
The music stopped suddenly.
“I’ll look into getting you something new to listen to,” The Boneman said as he came into the light. “How are you doing? Ready to answer questions?”
Porter didn’t respond.
“What is your favorite color?” The Boneman asked. “Surely you can answer that?”
Still Porter didn’t reply.
“You’ve had a lot of time alone,” The Boneman said. “If you don’t answer my questions, I can bring back our friend.”
“Blue,” Porter answered, his voice hoarse.
“What?” The Boneman prodded.
“Blue,” Porter repeated himself. He took the opportunity to take stock of his surroundings.
“Do you have a girl back home?” The Boneman asked.
“No,” Porter answered. He was trying to peer into the dark corners of the room
The Boneman grabbed him by the chin and turned his face forward. “What was your mission?”
“Hunting for assholes,” Porter laughed.
The Boneman wasn’t amused. He left without a word. The music came back on.
By now Porter’s clothes had been burnt to ash. He was grateful. The smoldering fabric on his bare skin had been hell. An arc of electricity went through one side of his head and out the other.
“Good practice,” the Lieutenant shouted over Porter’s screams. He stopped, then circled around Porter looking for another target.
“No originality,” Porter mumbled. Slowly an idea was beginning to form in his head. “They keep sending you. A pyrokenetic would at least be a step up.” The Lieutenant looked angry. “It’s been days and you still haven’t managed to break me. Why don’t you come back when you have some new tricks, and I’ll let you know how useless you are.”