The Aftermath Academy - CH35 (Pyrrha)

Seed City 59 is supposed to be mostly deserted. Like all of the seed cities, it’s the product of a techie who created buildings that can regrow after being destroyed. A great idea, but the benefits of resilient infrastructure only go so far when the city hubs themselves are still prime targets for insane or malicious gifted. For some reason Seed City 59 has always been a particularly popular spot for such attacks, and by the third or fourth time someone killed most of the people working in it, people stopped trying to inhabit it.

So I’m surprised to see a street packed with people. My surprise turns to horror as I sense the absolute terror of the people, collectively unable to control their own actions. They turn towards us as one, a mass of fear and pain, and begin to swarm our position. Some run, some simply jerk through the air like broken marionettes.

I see the puppeteer past the horde. He looks at me from a broken face, features stretched wrong. The skin on his body is split and torn, stretched thin over a bone armor he’s grown. His head is twisted at an unnatural angle, a peculiar sign of curiosity perhaps. There are too many people between us and him to be sure of his emotional state. But he shows no indication of fear at our appearance.

Emilio’s twine lashes out and bisects half the crowd. He can transfer his telekinetic power through any single solid medium, and the length of twine increases his range a hundred fold. His telekinesis can create a medium as strong as Genevieve’s super-strength or my swords, only significantly more versatile.

Emilio doesn’t feel their pain the way I do, doesn’t feel the crowd die. This is far worse than class, our victims’ memories and lives flashing through my mind as his twine cuts through them like paper. Even Professor Kiru-coy’s created beings aren’t this detailed.

I know it has to be done. If Bone and Chain survives our attack, and these people aren’t put down, he’ll happily spend years controlling them when they least expect it. They’ll be used to murder their families, kill politicians, gun down classrooms, all for that sick bastard’s entertainment. His puppeteer power has no range and no time limit. Once he’s touched someone’s skeletal structure, they might as well be dead, just like Gravitas said.

Tears cloud my eyes as I cut down two dozen innocent people with James. I started trying to drain Bone and Chain’s power the second I saw him, but I can feel it isn’t working. His power resistance is as strong as it comes. Reed tried to have one of the Mohinder clones teleport his heart out to no effect and he loses one to an energy blast.

“Reed, retreat,” I say, voice breaking slightly. He nods and has the remaining Mohinder clone teleport him to the top of a building a couple blocks away.

“He can use his puppet’s powers?” Genevieve asks. “That wasn’t in the dossier.”

“I don’t think so,” I tell her. “I think that person just knows we’re going to kill them and doesn’t want to die.” I could be wrong, at this range, with this many people. But I think they still had independent control of their power and lashed out at something they thought was going to end their life. In fairness, they were probably right. Emilio’s twine extends its full reach, butchering the last of the crowd, including the power user.

I don’t feel that one’s death, outside the range of my Souls of the Damned. Good, I’m not sure I could deal with a new personality joining my power-set while trying to take on someone like Bone and Chain.

I’m sick at what we just had to do. Literally. All the training we’ve done this past year, and I’m still fighting back the urge to vomit. But for a minute, as we cautiously approach Bone and Chain while he stands silently alone in the middle of the street, I think we might pull this off, that we might be able to put this monster down and keep any more people from falling prey to him.

I confuse the sick feeling in my gut for guilt as Emilio lashes his twine out around Bone and Chain and constricts, cracking his bone armor beneath Emilio’s telekinetic strength. The twine cuts deeply into the bone armor, bits flaking off, slowly penetrating towards the monster’s flesh.

It takes me a minute to realize what’s wrong, so alien is Bone and Chain’s mind to a normal person’s. He’s insane, but he’s not stupid. Someone stupid doesn’t successfully hide from Untouchables, military groups, and the Executioners for years between attacks. Someone stupid can’t remotely use bone telekinesis to murder heavily guarded politicians. And someone who isn’t stupid doesn’t calmly sit around letting his attackers crush him to death…unless it’s a trap.

“Retreat,” I scream, just as the corpses begin to float up around us.