Chapter 4- Sparring Match
The Cube, CORE Base:
All three of them stood there in silence, waiting for Agent Brown to return. James leaned against a wall, slowly analyzing each object in the room without moving. Nasiha would remain at her desk typing but her eyes would occasionally shift to the clock on the wall. Harlan closed his medical book and began reading from the thin dossier that he pulled out of his messenger bag.
Nasiha finally looked to the others and asked “Hasn’t he been gone for too long?”
Before either of them answered, Harlan’s phone vibrated from his pocket. Scott immediately pulled out his phone and checked the incoming message.
“Is it Brown?” James asked as he and Nasiha both approached the desk.
“Uh-huh” Harlan affirmed, “He’s telling me to start without him.” He pulled out two more copies of his dossier from the carrier and handed them to his teammates. “So, has Charlie filled you in yet on what we’re doing here?” Harlan asked, looking back at James.
“Something about fighting evil metahumans that are trying to conquer the world,” James replied.
“In layman’s terms, yes, but there’s much more to it than that.” Scott pointed out.
“Such as…” James retorted as he was trying to make sense of the files.
“Such as Apex is controlled by some of the most dangerous metas in the world and they have access to one of the greatest energy sources in existence.” Nasiha added, “Ibithium or Apex Energy as they call it the purest energy source that the human race has ever encountered. After World War II the British government began experimenting with this substance to create the world’s first supersoldiers.”
“So, what went wrong?” James asked
Harlan clear his throat and began to take the reins from Nasiha, “At first the original tests appeared to be a success, the serum increased the soldiers’ strength, speed, senses, and reflexes but there was a flaw in the design. After a few hours each of the test subjects began to lose their minds. They were consumed with rage and began mauling anything they saw. When security tried to stop the subjects their weapons were rendered useless. After the test subjects that were shot, they would just begin healing and rise up. Within a few seconds the security team was compromised and the subjects were about to escape. As a last resort the Lead Scientist authorized a lockdown for the testing room and filled the ventilation with Ibithium. After the catastrophe was over twenty four people died and the Brits scrapped the experiment.”
“Then how did Apex get their hands on it?” James questioned, double checking the files. “Our dossiers have conveniently left that part out.”
“To be honest we’re not that sure,” Nasiha interjected.
Harlan added in an affirmative tone, “what we are sure of is that they have perfected the serum because all Apex carriers have the same abilities of those test subjects with none of the drawbacks. Based on our records, they’ve had a history of using the serum to create new metahumans. As of last week, they have learned how to successfully weaponize it. Charlie tells me you’ve learned of their achievement first hand in Afghanistan.”
“THAT WAS THEM!?” James growled as purple and red waves of energy fumed from his clenched fists.
Harlan paused immediately realizing that he said too much. He tried to think of a way to rephrase his statement in a way that wouldn’t result in James destroying the room. He finally submitted and said “I’m afraid so,” staring down at James’ hands.
The beams began to fade from one of James’ hands before he blasted a hole in the wall with the other hand.
Nasiha stared at the wall and sighed, “You know that’s coming out of your check.”
Terrebone Parish, Louisiana:
It only took 90 minutes for the Black Betty to arrive in Louisiana. During the flight, Agent Brown began to bring Elijah up to speed. Elijah was well a mannered man, but it was obvious that he still lacked confidence in his abilities. Following the airfield, Agent Brown and Elijah Carter drove down the road; from there they could see it, the Belle Reve maximum security prison. After passing the gates both men exited the vehicle and began walking to the front enterence of the prison. Elijah’s eyes shifted around the scenery, he ignored the inmates in the yard and was instead focused on the guards. Each of their faces were set in stone, none of them smiled, frowned, or even blinked (from what Elijah could gather). He couldn’t escape their eyes; they were always looking but never staring.
“They’re pretty intimidating aren’t they?” Charlie said without losing pace and keeping his eyes forward. “This place tends to do that to you after a while. Belle Reve has the largest meta-inmate population in the nation, but don’t mind them; no one ever leaves Belle Reve without permission from the state.” Charlie pointed to a couple of inmates a few yards away, “See those collars around their necks, it stops their powers from working by keeping the metagene suppressed.”
“Agent Brown, why exactly are we trying to recruit a convicted felon?” Carter asked.
Agent Brown shrugged “Well there are a few reasons we’ve come to acquire Mable, the first [reason] being that the Director suggested that we acquire Ms. Lowery. Since you are planning to work with the DEO long term, you should probably learn that when the Director suggests, he’s really just insisting. An additional bonus to this is that the Warden is gonna hate the idea of surrendering this particular inmate, and I for one personally adore the thought of upsetting her. But I guess the answer that you’re looking for is that I might have misled you earlier.”
Elijah looked puzzled, “How have you mislead me?” He asked.
“Well earlier I said no one gets out of Belle Reve without the state’s permission, but Mable is an exception to this rule. Lowery is the only person who has escaped Belle Reve, and she did it twice.”
Meanwhile at the Core Base:
Nasiha was quickly scanning the files processing the information in her head before saying “Everything’s ready on my end if you want to proceed.”
“Sure thing!” Scott exclaimed. He looked over at James clearly seeing anger in his eyes. Harlan could tell that the way he handled wall incident may have cost him James’ respect. “You still looked upset; would you care to spar in the arena?”
James chuckled, “Are you sure you know what you’re asking for? I wouldn’t want to kill you before Agent Brown returns.” He smirked.
“I’ve already cleared this with Charlie; we thought this would be an interesting way to access your skills, and though I appreciate your confidence you shouldn’t underestimate me.” Harlan pointed out.
“Same here,” James shot back.
As the group approached their section of the arena, Nasiha began to unpack her dufflebag on the floor. She pulled out about a dozen patches and began to place them onto her teammates. “Please don’t remove these until your session is over,” she said while sticking the patches on James. Nasiha would occasionally speak in a manner that was as equally polite as it was threatening. As Nasiha placed the patches on Harlan she whispered, “Try not to lose Scott, I’ve got 100 riding on you to wipe the floor with the new kid.” Harlan grinned and James scowled as Nasiha made her way to the moderator’s box.
Scott took off his lab coat, revealing a short-sleeved navy blue combat shirt, and a utility belt. His shirt had a unique logo over the center of the chest. The emblem had a circle in its center surround by three thin bars positioned triangularly across his chest; the bottom bar was lighted with a light blue color. The belt consisted of a few pouches and several metallic capsules. Even his leggings looked deceptively athletic. He folded the coat in his arms and placed gently on a bench outside of the sparring zone. “As you can probably tell, this match will study the effects that ibithium has on your body and the damage it can have on an opponent in a realistic combat scenario.”
James folded his leather jacket and placed it on the bench next to the lab coat. “Aren’t there other less lethal ways of testing my abilities?” James asked.
“There certainly are other methods we could use, but they would take longer and would not give as much field experience as this would. After all, targets and dummies don’t hit back.” Harlan explained. “Plus it seems like a great way to let off some steam.” He added.
They both walked into the arena, the room was brightly lit and vast in space. The walls rose far from the ground leading up to the spectator stands. The stands were almost completely empty with the exception of two people. One woman was wearing a costume; she had long, blood red hair and very pale skin. The other had a more average complexion and shoulder length blonde hair. Just above the stands was the moderator’s box. It looked similar to one of the owner’s boxes in a sports stadium. There were a few people in the moderator’s box dressed in office attire but they were too far away to be identified.
Suddenly Nasiha’s voice came over from the room’s PA system. “Alright guys, you know the rules: whoever surrenders, passes out, or dies first loses. At random intervals of time I’ll use the arena’s software to change the battle conditions. Now let’s have some fun!” Nasiha began the countdown from the microphone. “READY--”
“Last chance to walk away Harlan,” James muttered.
Scott smirked “No thanks James, just remember not to hold back.”
James’ Point of View:
I charged at him immediately scanning for any weakness in his stance. He had good form but his left was slightly high. I moved forward with a right jab, but spun in with a left side kick. By the time he realized I wasn’t punching, my foot had already connected with his ribcage. The force knocked his upper body towards me so I went for a forearm strike to the temple. Before my forearm could connect he caught it and twisted my arm behind my back. I broke the hold by pushing my body weight forward and wrapping my limbs around his right leg. Once we both propelled forward I held his upper body with my legs and snapped his right leg with my arms. Harlan screeched then kicked me in the face with his left foot. He rolled out of the way while both of us recovered. Blood was spouting from my broken nose but I didn’t care, my healing would kick in soon anyway. Harlan was in a crouched position; he couldn’t stand on his broken leg.
“You should just surrender Doc, you have no way of defeating me,” I said while pointing out that my nose has already healed.
“Don’t worry about me, this fight is just beginning.” Harlan cried, as the second bar of his emblem began to light. He jabbed his leg with one of the capsules on from his belt and the bones in his leg twisted back into place as he sprinted towards me. “Did you think you were the only one who could heal?” He asked while throwing punches at me. He wasn’t holding back this time. When he began to attack me I quickly noticed his speed and strength were now equal to my own. His form was now even better and his reflexes sharpened. As we took turns attacking and defending I began to admire his style. There was no waste in his fighting style; his movements were as precise as a machine. It was almost as if each move was calculated to perform a specific action for the next.
Harlan’s jabs were like bullets, I blocked most of them but he landed four shots before knocking me back with an uppercut. Before my body could fly back, he grabbed my ankle and slammed me to the ground. As my body rolled up I could see his shin approaching my face. I caught his leg and elbowed down on the same spot I snapped earlier. Harlan winced in pain and came in for a powerful haymaker. I shot a quick blast of energy at his fist and swept his other leg, knocking him down. As I brought my fist down for a finishing blow, I heard an air horn noise and the ground shifted from metal to mud. Scott narrowly dodged the punch and lifted his knees, causing my body to flip over his head.
As I rose thunder clouds formed at the arena’s ceiling. Digital rain washed upon us only making the mud slicker. I noticed that the final bar on Scott’s Shirt was fully lit.
The light hearted expression was wiped off of his face as Harlan spoke up. “Like I said before Cavanaugh, don’t hold back, because now you’re about to fight me at full strength.” Harlan pushed the circle in the center of the blue triangle on his chest. A blue aura covered his body and his dirty blonde hair started to glow a blackish gold.
As my hands began to leak out energy I looked back at Harlan and said, “Time to finish this!”
TO BE CONTINUED…
The continuation of this story can be found at the Lucifer Grimm Library.