Chapter 4


“Let’s see…..  far as I can remember, I was born in a little town in Missouri by the name of Johnston.  It was a little town- but not so little that they didn’t have any connection to the outside world, even if most people considered it ‘the sticks’.


My mother’s name was Lauren.  She was a nice lady- and an even better mother.  She made sure that we didn’t ever go without- hey, nursing positions paid well back then, just like they do now.  She loved her job, and she loved her children- except she hated the long hours her job worked.  Eight-hour shifts are not pretty. 


My father’s name was Jacob.  He worked, too, and he loved his kids even more than anyone else- except for Lauren, of course.  I can barely remember him- he worked in some sort of a factory, and that’s all the info on him I have.”


Blazer took a sip of her drink- another Soda del Sol,  from the looks of it- and smiled.


“Sounds like your average nuclear family.”


I rolled my eyes.  “If there was anything ‘nuclear’ about my family, it’d have to be the food we ate.  Anyways, back to the subject.”  I took a bite of my steak- perfectly medium-done- not like the ones I ate at the other places in town.


“It didn’t take long for them to fill up a nursery.  Myself, born nineteen years ago, Sarah following at eighteen years.  It was a good time to be alive in my house.  We got everything we needed.  Until….”


I shut my eyes and started rubbing my temples.  Discussing the past always brought a headache on- wether I already had one or not.


“Five years after Sarah was born- I was six and she was five- something happened.  A burglar broke into our house, trying to find whatever he could grab and sell.  I was awakened by the crashing noises- and I walked down to investigate.  I came face-to-face with the guy- who proceeded to smile and point a weapon at me, possibly to kidnap me for ransom from my parents.”


“Wow.  So what happened then?  Your parents come down and scare him away?”  Blazer had stopped eating and was concentrating on my story.  “I didn’t think you had that rough of a past.”


“Oh, trust me, it gets better.  He comes torwards me, I get absolutely scared shitless, and then I just scream, and something happened.”


“I think I know what happened….” she commented. “The first manifestation of Mindforce power, huh?  The first time can be rough.”


“Well, the first appearance of my ability happened to be- what else?- ‘Crimson Cannon’.  I nailed the guy in the chest- not that he had much of a chance, anyways- and by the time my parents got down there after the explosion, there wasn’t much of him left- maybe a few shreds of clothing, a few pints of blood everywhere, but almost no sign of him.  Mom got scared and immediately called a testing center- they had picked it up on a scanner.”


Blazer speared three shrimp on her fork and ate them.  “Let me guess…. That was when the world was still scared of us, right?  It was like the school violence of the late 1990s-early 2000s.  People were scared of what they didn’t understand.  So the only way to get things under control….”


“….was to lock down the source of the problem itself- the children experiencing the mutations of their imagination center of their brain.  So, that night, I was dragged kicking and screaming off, from my house, from safety, into a facility where I was reduced to the simple level of test subject.”  I shivered.  “Being a pincushion for some graduate student’s thesis is NOT my idea of fun.  But what could I do?  I was just a research subject.  What made my heart break, however, was seven years later- when I was thirteen- a new subject was herded into the facility- my sister, Sarah.  She had exhibited the basic symptoms of Mindforce at school, when a player from the opposing team in her softball league was sent to the emergency room from a softball to the face at about two hundred miles an hour.”


Blazer finished her shrimp plate and pushed it away.  “I didn’t think that you had such a past…. It must have been hell in there.”


I shook my head, a tear flying away from my face as I did so. “For another four years, the tests continued- until some genius at the corporate level of Biolife suggested a training school for Mindforce students.  After all, he pointed out, we could destroy- but if trained in our powers, to use them responsibly, we could be the special forces the world had needed for all its problems.  Three guesses who this guy is.”


Blazer sipped her drink again and finally came up with an answer. “Vienar.”


“Give the lady a teddy bear, she’s scored a bullseye.  Vienar came up with the bright idea of training any children or teens with Mindforce capabilities to be able to use those powers in a position similar to the military.  Saving that, Quasars would be able to go anywhere in the world and solve any kind of problem.”


I leaned forward and started to whisper.  “It’s been rumored that Vienar’s daughter was absorbed by the old vintage 32-bit game “Final Fantasy 8”.  She suggested basing the Quasar academy around the “Garden” system in the game- and so here we are.”


Blazer looked at me and smiled.  “Either you’ve got a photographic memory, or you spend too much time on that computer in your dorm. But you are kind of convincing me that you know plenty about the history of the school.”


I shook my head. “Well, that’s my story.  Comprised and in a nutshell.  The life of a single person who exhibited powers a long time before anyone understood them.”


Blazer let another smile cross her face.  “See?  You let yourself go and you’ll feel better.”  Then her expression changed.  “You ever try looking for your parents?”


“Of course.  But the only listings under ‘Icasea’ happen to be myself and Sarah, here at the academy.  Which means something’s driving me crazy.  Two years ago, it seemed that we would never get out of that lab.  But now, we’re the most sought-after group in the entire world.”


Blazer picked herself up from the table.  “Yeah… something seems fishy about that.  But enough philosophical things for tonight- it is Friday night, after all, and we should be getting back.”


“Yeah, it is getting kind of late.  I can’t just head straight home, though.  I have to stop at the store and pick up some stuff- mostly snacks to keep the fridge in my room stocked.  The place just isn’t the same without ten cases of junk food to keep moving around.”


“I’m still amazed at the way you put that stuff away like that, and still manage to keep yourself under two-hundred pounds.” 


“All part of having a fire-type Mindforce.  The heat energy comes from calories burned to produce the heat needed for the tech.  You start learning a few Fire-type techs, then you can eat all you want and still be as seductive as you are.”  ‘Hold it, oh smart one.  The big head is for thinking, not the little one.  Don’t push the envelope.’


“Well, as long as I have to peel your eyes off of my body, that won’t be such a problem.”

Blazer laughed, then started to walk away.  I deposited the required amount of money into the collection bin on the table, then got up and stretched.  ‘Finally… a decent food place that doesn’t ask if you want fries with everything.  Wonder what miracle of nature they’ll come up with next- the never-burning pizza rolls, perhaps?’ 


I walked out the door and whistled the valet over to go get my bike.  He walked off, but came running back a minute later.


“Th-there’s a bunch of guys hangin’ out over there- looks like they’re interested in your bike.”


I sighed.  ‘Once the sun goes down, the crazies start coming out.  Looks like another mixup in the parking lot.  Well, let’s just get this over with.’


“Which way?”


The valet looked at me like I had just called the Pope an atheist.  “You can’t be serious.”


I looked at the guy if he had just insulted my mother. “I spent three years on that damn thing, there’s no way I’m leaving it to a bunch of drunken bozos who think muscle entitles them to anything.”


He pointed the way, and I walked off.  Before long, I located the lot where my bike was- not real hard to find, actually, considering the beer smell from the area.  I walked torwards a group of guys who were obviously wanting my bike. 


“Hands off the bike, you drunk bastard.  Otherwise I take your hide for a seat cover.”


One of them- the leader, I gathered, from the way everyone else grouped up behind him, stepped forward and clenched his fists.  “Who invited you, shitcake?  Just go on home and leave the real men to their toys, all right, sonny?”  He was obviously drunk- he laughed at that joke.  (Usually, when someone laughs at a dumb joke, people consider them two be either one of two things: loaded or brain dead.)


“I said ‘step away from the bike’, fat boy.  Unless you want me to bounce you across the pavement a few dozen times and let your buddies scrape up the roadkill.”


He immediately shifted his bulk and looked at me.  “What?  You lookin’ for a pounding, boy?  Either shut the fuck up or call your mommy to help you.”


Cracks against my life are something I shrug off almost daily.  But when it comes to those nearest and dearest to me, I get kinda mad when it comes to things insulting them.  My response?


I let loose with a weak Fire-tech, one called “Ember”.  It basically sets something on fire- in this case, the guy’s beer-soaked mustache.  He startled squealing and jumping around, until one of his genius cronies tossed the contents of a can of warm beer on his face.  It doesn’t take a genius to realize that beer will catch fire.  It takes even less I.Q. to realize you don’t put a fire out by tossing more fuel on it.


The guy finally put his face out, and started to scream at me through a mess of blisters and burns.


“DAMN YOU!  THIS ISN’T OVER!  YOU’LL GET IT SOON!”  he yelled as some of his less-drunk buddies hauled him off torwards a med-center.  People are like that- they shrug off a flesh wound with no apparent trouble, but you hurt their feelings and they scream like children.  Go figure. 


I watched them run, then walked over to my bike.  It wasn’t damaged, as far as I could see, but I still kind of angry.  I realized that I still had to stop at the store, so I fired the bike up and rode away. 


After a few minutes, I arrived at the local Starway station.  I pulled the bike into a security area, and went about doing my business.  I picked up my usual- a case of frozen pizza rolls, a case of Pringles, and a case of energy drinks.  I hauled all three boxes to the counter and paid for the lot, then listened as the clerk went on about some local gossip.


“It’s getting rough again at night….  think they’ll bring in the students from Quasar to clean things out again?”


I was half-asleep, but I heard that loud and clear.


“The mayor pays Quasar all that money, all for a glorified mercenary team.  They don’t do anything we couldn’t do if the police force wasn’t so underequipped…”


I tuned out at this time.  I hate it when people knock us for being ‘holier-then-thou’.  We aren’t much different than they are- just a hyperactive imagination.  I picked up one box at a time, hauled them out to my bike, and lashed them to the sides.  ‘Note to self- stop eating so many pizza rolls and Pringles.’


I revved the engine, then took off back to the academy.  I checked back in, hauled the stuff to my room, and promptly collapsed on the unmade bed after storing my purchases.





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