(A few hours earlier on the other side of the city, in a private hospital for war orphans funded by the emperor.)
“Dr. Araxos, the test results on subject B16 are showing some anomalies. B16 is showing early development of some of the experimental design criteria, and there are readings on the brain scans that do not match any of the design parameters”, a white coated lab technician reported.
Dr. Araxos, a painfully tall, thin man with bushy white hair and kind blue eyes, sighed “Nazta, he has a name. It’s Alex. Even though we designed and made him, he is still human. We did not create anything. We have simply made modifications on what the creator has already made. I understand your fear of the different, the improved shall we say. However, if you can’t bring yourself to treat the children as something other than objects or laboratory animals, I am going to have to remove you from direct contact with them.”
Nazta, a short, squat little man with a sullen face, burst out “I shouldn’t have to be in contact with them in the first place. The war is over, their purpose gone. They are dangerous. Not only should they be destroyed, but you should be mind wiped so no one can get the knowledge to create monsters like them again.” He finished almost foaming at the mouth.
“Technician Nazta you are relived from duty. Security will escort you off the grounds, and you are barred from returning”, Dr. Araxos said as he rose to his feet, his blue eyes now colder than space. Reaching out he flipped on his intercom. “I need security in my office at once”, he said without looking away from Nazta.
With a visible tremble of hatred the little man glared at Dr. Araxos “It’s too late for you to do anything to protect those monsters.” Triumphantly he sneered at Dr. Araxos. “I report to important people, and your time is coming. I’ll get you. You’ll see.”
After security had escorted Nazta away Dr. Araxos made several calls to friends and supporters that were in a position to know if anyone , including the emperor, was planning anything against the project. He had known from the start that the emperor could not let knowledge of it get out. He had taken what few precautions he could to protect the staff and the children. With a pensive sigh he hoped that the precautions he had taken would not be needed. Just in case they were needed though he alerted all of his primary staff, those he knew he could trust, so that they could be prepared.
He really hadn’t had a choice about working on the project and probably, no, make that definitely would have jumped at the opportunity anyway. He wondered now if it had been wrong to modify the children. It was to late to go back now and do things differently. Turning back to his desk he put what couldn’t be changed out of his mind and picked up the test results on Alex. Yes! The additional changes he had made were developing correctly. He would have to make sure that no records of those unauthorized alterations ever got out. When Alex reached puberty and those extra abilities manifested themselves, he would have to personally take over his training. Not even his most trusted assistants knew all he had done to the first and now oldest ten children. Sadly he had not been able to give all the rest of the children the advantages that Alex and his group would have. By the time the second group of children was conceived, the direct process for altering the DNA was being done by others, and he couldn’t risk their seeing or knowing about the special modifications.
Hours later Dr. Araxos, still at work in his office, got a com call from Senator Torson, an old friend and one of the original supporters of the project. As Araxos listened his face turned as white as his hair. Without waiting for the senator to finish he hit the disconnect and then activated the intercom to address the entire complex.
“All bravo plan personnel, bravo plan is now in effect. I repeat, bravo plan is now in effect. You have four minutes to complete stage one of plan bravo.” Disconnecting the intercom, he turned to his computer terminal and typed in command bravo and the authorization code to erase the memory of the entire computer system. Without a backward glance he left the office, and ran toward the children’s wing of the hospital.
Alex didn’t know what had awakened him so suddenly, but his heart was beating fast, and he could sense that something was wrong. He quietly slid out of his bed trying not to wake the other kids asleep in the room. Gently he eased across the room and carefully looked out the door. Mrs. Korine one of the head nurses was running down the hall with two of the babies in her arms when he peeked out.
She slowed down when she saw him and cried out as she went past “Alex wake the other children in your dorm and wait for Dr. Marl. He’ll be here in a minute to get you.”
Suddenly frightened, he hurried back into the room, turned the lights on and started to wake up the other children.
“Alex what’s happening? Why do we have to get up?” Lirca, a cute blond haired green eyed girl of six, asked.
“I don’t know Lir, Usra Korine said to wake everyone and wait for Dr. Marl”
Five or six of the other children gathered around and started to ask questions, but, before Alex could answer, Dr. Marl rushed into the room.
“Everyone follow me quickly”, he said as he held the door open. Turning to make sure that everyone was following, he continued to speak. “If we get separated or anything happens to me, run and hide. Don’t trust any strangers and get as far away from the hospital as you can.”
“Marl, what’s wrong, where are we going”, the youngest in the group, a girl named Maxine, Maxy for short, asked in an uneven voice as she tried not to cry.
With a sad expression Marl looked at the children and replied.”You’ve all been told and shown how you’re different from other people. Right?”
Alex along with the others agreed as they ran after Dr. Marl.
“Many people fear that which is different and would destroy you if given a chance.” Pausing his speech for a second, Marl wondered if the children would understand any of this, but he hoped so. Making his decision, he continued to speak as they hurried down the hall.
“The emperor has ordered that you children and all of us on the staff be killed so that no one will know that he had anything to do with you. He is one of the people scared of you because of your potential.”
Dr. Marl stopped suddenly at an exit to the building, and carefully looked outside. “Looks clear”, he quietly spoke to himself. He then turned to the children. “Now as fast as you can let’s go to the air car pad. Remember, if we get separated for any reason, hide from strangers. And if you get away never let anyone see that you are different, especially after your full skills develop in the years to come. Okay, Let’s go”, he said.
Staying close, the children followed him out the door and across the grounds.
With his keen night sight Alex saw a flicker of motion off to the side. In a hushed voice he called out “Dr. Marl there’s something over here” as he pointed toward some bushes at the corner of the building.
With a nervous look in that direction Dr. Marl replied “It’s probably another group of children leaving” After a second glance in that direction he quickened his pace to a jog and said “Let’s go a little faster”
In another minute they approached the airpad and Dr. Marl in a slightly easier tone of voice told them to stay where they were while he got one of the aircars out of it’s bay. Everyone froze for a moment at the sound of voices behind them until they realized it was another group of children. With a sigh of relief Dr. Marl again turned to go get the aircar “I’ll be right back” he said as he turned away.
Suddenly, a dark figure rose up from the ground in front of them as the night was filled with flame and thunder. Dr. Marl was flung back and to the ground by weapons fire as he screamed in pain and shouted “Run! Run!”.
Alex watched as Morine, who he had known all his life practically exploded from the impact of bullets on her six year old frame.
With a speed almost blinding to the soldiers shooting, the nine other children including Alex split and ran, everyone going a different direction.
“Get them! Don’t let any of them get away”, the cry went up as Alex ducked around the corner of one of the hospital buildings.
Just ahead were the woods of the public imperial park that bordered the hospital. Dirt sprayed Alex’s side as bullets stitched the ground around him.
“Don’t let it get into the woods”, one of the two soldiers who was following him cried out to the other as Alex approached the woods.
Stopping quickly, the soldier closest to Alex raised his weapon to take aim and fired just as Alex reached the woods.
With only a few feet to go before he reached the woods Alex cried out in pain and fear as a huge fist hit him in the shoulder and threw him to the ground. Behind him one of the soldiers cried out “I hit it”. Alex could hear the soldiers approaching as he lay on the cold, dew covered ground. Ignoring the pain, he quickly rose to his feet and leaped into the woods faster than the soldiers could react.
The two soldiers stopped at the edge of the woods and looked fearfully at each other.
“Did you see that? I hit him solidly through the upper body, and he got up like it was nothing” Looking at the weapon in his hand, the soldier shuddered. “This thing has enough kinetic kill power that it will knock down a full grown man, and keep him down. That kid can’t weigh more than 20 kilos, and he just got back up and kept going.”
The other soldier looked toward the woods “We can’t let him get away.” Turning back to the first soldier, he continued,” If he escapes we’ll be in deep shit.”
After a careful look around, Private Hernt, who had shot Alex, said “I’m not going into the woods after anything that can shake off an Excaliber round like it was nothing”. He turned to look intently at Private Esk, the other soldier, and then continued. “Personally I didn’t see anything come this way. If anyone asks “He paused and gave Esk a real hard stare before continuing, “I didn’t see anyone come this way.”
Esk looked fearfully at the woods and then back at Hernt before he slowly answered. “Yeah, you’re right I haven’t seen anything over here either. We’d better move back toward the hospital and help there.”
“Yeah let’s go help there” Hernt said as he turned back toward the hospital and away from the woods. A chill ran down his spine as he walked away from the woods. He couldn’t get rid of the image of the kid getting back up off the ground and running into the woods.
Ten minutes later high up on a hillside overlooking the hospital, a tall, thin man with white hair stepped out of the shadows under a tree. Melancholy thoughts ran through his mind as a tear slowly rolled down his face. “So many dead for no purpose but bigoted fear.” He quietly murmured to himself. Slowly he reached into a pocket and pulled out a small flat object. Turning it over so that he could see the two buttons on its front, he pushed the first button. With a faint hum, a small antenna extended out of the top. Then, with a cold and determined expression, he pushed the second button.
First there was a bright flash that reflected off the underside of the clouds, followed by a shock wave that shook the ground as far away as the hillside. In the distance the furious roar of a growing fire could be heard, and then flames could be seen leaping high over the blasted remains of the hospital.
With the records destroyed and most of the soldiers who had conducted the raid dead, it should be impossible for the ISS (Imperial Secret Service) to find out how many of the children had survived or who they were with. He himself didn’t even know how many had survived, and no evidence of any kind was going to come out of the fiery hell where the hospital had been.
Finally, with stooped shoulders, he turned away as he carefully put the small black rectangle back into his pocket. With a sad expression and the marks of tears on his cheeks, he quietly disappeared into the shadows thinking of friends killed and children murdered, all for the convenience of a tyrannical emperor.
Deep in the park Alex jumped to his feet with a muffled groan as the ground shook and the clouds lit up. A second later a wall of sound and wind went past ripping branches off trees and knocking him back down to the ground. After it calmed down he slowly struggled to his feet again. He turned back the way he had come and took a couple of steps in that direction, before with a sob he remembered Dr. Marl’s orders. “If we get separated get as far away from the hospital as you can and hide.” Tears ran down his face as he slowly turned the other direction and started to walk. Not paying attention to where he went, Alex walked for several hours before he came to the end of the park and entered a suburb of the city. He suddenly came out of his daze of pain and loss when the lights of an aircar swept over him as he walked down the center of a street that bordered the park. With the high whine of its turbines, the aircar continued overhead not noticing the small figure now huddled under a bush. As soon as it was gone Alex quickly started to move deeper into the city staying in the shadows and hiding anytime someone might see him. Hours later in an unlighted alley, too tired to continue and with his shoulder hurting almost to the point of causing unconsciousness, he leaned back against the wall of one of the buildings and slid down to a sitting position among the boxes and litter in the alley. Despite his efforts not to cry, the sound of muffled sobs echoed off the walls of the alley as he wept in loneliness and pain. He cried for his friends, and the staff of the hospital, the only family he had ever had.