Seattle, Washington - Saturday, June 18th, 5:45 a.m.
The alarm rang. Issac shut it off, checking the time seeing that is was 5:45. Sitting up, he yawned, absorbing some darkness into his body, he got up feeling refreshed. The events of the day before were still fresh in his mind. The party being interrupted, followed by the chase through the city, made Issac grit his teeth. He caught the guy that hurt Zeke but just thinking about Zeke hitting the ground pissed him off. 'I hope that asshole's cellmate makes him his bitch.' Issac's feet hit the carpet. He stretched standing on his toes, holding his arms above his head, then made his way to the light switch illuminating his old room.
As the light scared away Issac's element, the sight of his old room brought back memories. Gavin's family is the first real one Issac ever had since he never knew his birth parents and spent most of his childhood being bounced around between foster homes. Before he met Gavin, Issac didn't have any friends and tended to get pushed around a lot because he was a runt. Getting conduit powers and eventually becoming part of Gavin's family turned things around for him. Though since he is a conduit, there was still a lot of crap he had to put up with, but at least he wasn't alone to deal with it.
Snapping out of his memories, Issac saw that his backpack and birthday present were where he left them the day before. Taking a moment to check his reflection in the wall mirror, Issac ran his hands through his hair to get rid of the bed head. When he finished, he grabbed his shirt that was draped over his backpack and put it on, tugging at the bottom to straighten it out. He checked the time, seeing that it was almost six, and with the detour he had planned, it'd be best for him to leave sooner than later so he could get back home to get ready for the hike.
Putting his shoes on, Issac grabbed his backpack and new drawing pack and exited the room, staying quiet to avoid waking anyone up. Making his way down the hall, he reached the stairs and saw light coming from the direction of the kitchen. At the bottom, Issac saw Cole sitting at the kitchen table, sipping some coffee with a newspaper in front of him. Cole always had a habit of waking up earlier than everyone else, and it seemed that wasn't going to change for quite a while
Issac carefully walked to the front door, but before he could touch the handle, he heard, "Leaving already?"
Issac sighed. He never could sneak past Cole, not with him having the ability to sense the electrical impulses in people's nervous systems. Issac turned around, facing Cole, who put the newspaper down to look at him. "Yeah, I wanted to get home as soon as I could, so I have more time to get ready for the hike later."
"You know I can take you there if you want. You won't have to walk so far, and we'll be there," Cole held his hand up, snapping his finger, creating a spark, "like that."
Issac chuckled. He knew Cole wasn't talking about driving, but a near-instantaneous transport power that he has that could get them across the city in moments. "No, that's fine. I prefer a good walk at this time of day, and I planned on visiting someplace."
Cole had a good guess on what he wanted to visit. It wasn't the first time. His last three birthdays, he wanted to visit someone he cared for that wasn't around anymore. "You sure?"
"Yeah." Issac unlocked the door, opening It, "Bye, and thanks for the party."
Cole waved at him, "No problem, son. You ever want to talk, you can always come here."
Issac let his words sink in then headed outside, closing the door leaving Cole with his coffee, tapping his finger on the table.
Issac walked on the sidewalks of Seattle, the rays of the sun shining over the horizon past the mountains surrounding the city. The air was cold, the weather showed it was going to be cloudy for a while, and the traffic passing him was light. Only a few other pedestrians walked the streets like him during this time of day. Although the sun had not fully risen yet, Issac could feel its approach affecting him. As night turned to day, Issac's powers were getting weaker bit by bit.
Before the sun became too strong, Issac decided to make use of his powers while he could. Shadows swirled around Issac's arms, focusing on his palms where shadow constructs took shape on his commands. He made a small flock of hummingbirds, that took flight, flapping their wings at rapid pace just as the real thing would. They stayed close to Issac, keeping him company even though he knew they weren't real. The birds he made were just constructs, they lacked any form of intelligence or free thought and blindly did whatever Issac wanted.
The birds circled Issac as he then made a ball of shadows in his hand. He bounced the ball on the sidewalk and had it return to his hand. Walking past a parked car, he threw the ball at the window, causing no damage to the glass, and it bounced off the surface heading for a street light and bounced again. Unknown to him, a pedestrian on the other side of the street took notice of Issac displaying his power and stopped to watch him.
The performance ended when the sun gained more dominion in the sky, shining its warmth onto Seattle. One by one, the birds Issac made faded away, leaving him alone, not that they were real companions. Ever since Issac started living on his own, his apartment tended to get pretty lonely. Living at Gavin's house, Issac had a whole family to alleviate him of his loneliness. Still, he made his choice to move out, and thankfully, they supported him, and the birthday party the other day reminded him of that despite the unpleasant way it ended.
Thinking of the birds he made, Issac pondered about getting a pet to keep him company at home. It wasn't the first time he thought about it, but his landlord didn't allow animals, so there wasn't much chance of that happening any time soon. But still, It crossed his mind every now and again.
Issac eventually came upon his intended stop, passing through the open gate leading to the cemetery. Issac along the grass, passing dozens of marked graves with tombstones engraved with the names of the deceased. Issac was quiet the whole way, downhearted by sad memories that came back up. He felt a lump in his throat, getting closer to the section the was looking for. A breeze blew past him when he came to a stop, looking down at the grave before him.
At first, Issac said nothing, merely reading the text on the grave. "Lillian Haddock Montgomery, 2025-2039." Issac took a deep breath closing his eyes for a minute, then opening them to say, "Hey, sis." Butterflies flap around in his stomach, a feeling of guilt washing over him while he tried to think of words to say. "Sooo... I'm back again, but knowing you, I'm probably the last person you'd want visiting you. Um, well, the reason I'm here is that our birthday was the other day, and well, I thought I owed it to you to say hello."
Issac scratched the back of his head, "You might have guessed I'm eighteen now. I moved out of Gavin's place a couple of months back, and now I'm living on my own. It's not the easiest thing, but I just needed to try making it on my own. I remember years ago, you always talked about it being the two of us against the world, but then..." Issac looked away, not wanting to think about the day Lillian died. "things happened between us, and now you're here." He took a step back, holding his hand up and focused his shadows into his palm. "I've gotten way better at control my powers. I remember when we first got ours, you went on and on how together no one could stop us. good times."
Issac stopped speaking, allowing the memories of him with Lillian years ago flow through his mind. Since the day they were born, the two of them were the only family they had, and always stuck together no matter where they ended up. There were plenty of good memories for Issac to remember her by. A few times, she got into fights with bullies that picked on him and didn't care if she got in trouble. Those were good memories.
"I'm sorry." Issac sighed, "I know this probably isn't my best talk. I just thought that once I got here, the words to flow out naturally, but I guess I still got some work to do." Issac kicked the grass, disappointed with himself. "I'm so sorry for everything." While Issac was lost in his thoughts, the clouds overhead became thicker, the sound of thunder could be heard. "What the?" Issac questioned the sudden change in the weather when a lightning bolt came down from the sky, striking the ground behind him. He turned around, seeing a familier man with a shaved head. "Hey, Cole."
"Hey, Issac. I thought I'd find you here." Cole stepped off the burnt patch of grass his entrance made, walking over to Issac.
"You guessed it." Issac turned back to his sister's grave. "Any chance you could turn off the light show?" Issac pointed up to the sky where flashes of lightning could be seen.
Cole did as he asked, putting an end to the lightening storm, leaving only the clouds. "Sorry. I just figured that since you were coming here, a little lightning would go along with the mood."
"Thanks for the effort anyway." Issac looked up at the sky. "Making lightning storms at a whim. I wonder if I'll ever be able to do anything like that."
"With you, I imagine it would be something like blacking out the sky or causing solar eclipses."
"The power to bring about unholy biblical darkness onto the world." Issac brought his hand up, focusing his shadows into his palm. "Sounds about right."
Cole put his hand on Issac's shoulder, comforting him while they both looked down at the grave, remembering that dreaded day. "Don't beat yourself up over it."
"Easier said than done." Issac slumped, grumbling under his breath. "If only I had..."
"Hey, don't do that to yourself. Thinking about all the things you could have done differently won't make you feel any better. It'll just eat away at you. Trust me, I know."
"You mean from your time in Empire?"
Cole tightened his grip on Issac's shoulders, his eyes staring off into space. Of course, Issac would mention that. Issac heard all the things that Cole and Lucy were involved in directly from them. Cole's eyes flashed back to the Empire City quarantine. The blast, the plague, the gangs, losing Trish. Even with all his power, It all took its toll on Cole, the deaths, the blame, the betrayal. And in the end, it was all his fault. Not directly, but it was. All because of Kessler.
Cole loosened his grip, "Yeah. I had to deal with a lot of things back then. I'm glad you, Gavin and Olivia, don't have to deal with what me and Kuo had to." Cole's memories flashed forward to when he was in New Marais a few weeks after he and Zeke first met Lucy in Empire.
He was in front of the St. Ignatius Church at the climax of the Beast's attack. The fifty-foot lava monster that had carved a path of death and destruction down the southeast was on its knees in defeat, half its face gone thanks to the man standing thirty yards away. Cole looked down at the RFI in his hands, feeling Kuo's hand on his shoulder. The Ice conduit had momentarily switched sides to the Beast due to her fear of death the RFI would cause when activated. But Cole knocked some sense into her, and then she stood by his side willing to accept whatever fate awaited her. "Just do it, Cole." Kuo sobbed ashamed for how she betrayed him, Zeke and Nix, wanting to make it right.
Cole looked into her eyes, seeing the remorse in her then looked back at the metal sphere in his hands. He knew what would happen. The plague would be cured, and conduits around the world would die, but he activated the RFI anyway, believing it was for the greater good of the world. The pain was excruciating, the beam of energy shoot up into the sky, hitting the atmosphere and expanding all over the world. The Beast roared in agony, its power sapped by the RFI. Kuo hit the ground, her eyes closed as Cole fell to his knees. The beam dissipating, the RFI fell out of his hands burnt out, rolling away from him as his head hit the ground. Cole lost consciousness believing it was the end for him, that he had done his mission and saved everyone.
But he awoke a short time later. He coughed out the first breath of his new life. His vision was hazy, his body weak as he struggled to comprehend what was going on. He was alive! The RFI had been used, and Cole was still breathing! "I'm... alive?" were his first words.
"Cole!? Cole!?" Cole heard the voice of his friend Zeke calling out to him. He couldn't see him due to a cloud of dust blocking his vision, but eventually, Zeke got close enough for them to see each other still kicking much to Zeke's surprise. "Cole!? Holy shit!" Zeke got down next to Cole shaking his shoulder to make sure he wasn't seeing things.
"Zeke quit it." Cole managed to grumble out.
"Holy shit! YOUR ALIVE!" Zeke wrapped his arms around Cole, giving him a brotherly hug.
As much as Cole was glad to see his best friend, his body was still weak and sore, which made the hug a bit painful. Thankfully Zeke let go, opting to pat him on the back instead to Cole dismay. "You did it, brother! You fired that thing!"
Zeke helped Cole get up on his feet. Cole was too weak to stand on his own, so Zeke let him lean on him for support. "Where's Kuo?"
"Kuo? She's here?" The sound of coughing answered Zeke.
They both turned around to see the women in question lying on the ground a few yards away, finally coming to. "Kuo!" Cole pulled away from Zeke, quickly falling to his knees without his help, so he crawled over to Kuo.
Weak, Kuo slowly opened her eyes, seeing the faces of two familier men looking down at her. The first feeling she had was shock. "What... happened!? Did... we-"
Cole stopped her from saying any more. He helped her sit up, cupping her face with one hand telling her. "It's okay, Kuo. We did it!"
The words held a great deal of weight. For a moment, Kuo felt like crying, happy that she survived, but at the same time, she felt immense guilt. The whole reason she switched sides hours ago was that she was afraid to die, afraid to be killed by the RFI when Cole used it, but now it turned out that she would have survived. Kuo could have stood by Cole, Zeke, and Nix, but she joined the Beast out of fear. How could she live with herself?
Zeke helped Kuo up, letting her use him for support while Cole resorted to using the Amp as a cane to help him stand. They all looked open the Beast, seeing that its burning red surface had faded into a grey ash color as its body slowly disintegrated. Several dozen people soon joined the trio made up of police, Laroche's rebels and remnants of Bertrand's militia that all joined forces against the monster. They followed the Beast's trail leading up to the church, all the while reports started to spread about all the deranged ice conduits, and monsters in the city were dropping dead in the streets.
The crowd walked up to see the trio standing in front of the dying behemoth, cheering at the site, praising them for their actions. Zeke was cheering right along with them, trying to get Cole and Kuo to do the same, but they were too tired to do anything more than accept the thank yous and admirations. During all the celebrating, something fell out of the Beast chest, hitting the ground with a thud and creating a small cloud of ash as the rest of its body fell apart. Cole was the first to notice, seeing a person lying on the ground wearing a red jacket and pants.
The cheers slowly died down as Cole limped closer to the man that started coughing as he came to. "John?" John White got to his hands and knees, crawling out from under the crumbling form he took during his ramage. The sunlight touched his dark skin, and everyone focused on the man responsible for so much destruction. Everyone with a gun raised their weapons, but Cole held his hand out, "Wait... Hold your fire!"
Cole's order confused a great many people, but they did as he said. "Cole, what are you doing?" Zeke asked as he watched his best friend limp closer to John.
"Let me do this." John White, a.k.a. The Beast got up to his knees, his crimson red eyes that were once burning with conviction now held confusion. He could no longer sense the plague that was sweeping across the country. The very thing that motivated him to cause so much death for the sake of saving the few was gone. "Hey John," Cole said, his voice calm but did not hide the anger within him as he looked down on the man before him with contempt.
"Mac-Grath..." John's voice was breaking as he took in the situation, realizing the pointlessness of all he had done. "T-he plague... It-Its..."
"It's gone now." Cole gripped the Amp's handle tighter.
Tears fell from John's eyes. He broke down, gripping his head in front of everyone, remembering the screaming of the thousands that he killed, the cities he left in burnt ruins. There was another way to stop the plague, after all. A way that would have avoided causing so much pain and suffering. Everything he did in the name of the greater good was just madness now. It was all for nothing. "C-Cole..." John sobbed, "I-I don't... I don't know what to do anymore. The t-things I've done... What do I do now!?"
For a moment, Cole felt pity for him. John wasn't an evil person at his core, but what he did, destroying Empire City, going on a ramage thought the southeast, was unforgivable. Cole grabbed his weapon with both hands, using all the strength he had to lift it over his head, managing to focus his weakened powers to make it spark with lightning. "Don't worry, John. It will be over soon enough."
John didn't need to look up to know what was to come. He held himself up straight, fully accepting his fate, unable to live with himself. Zeke, Kuo, and everyone else present watched as with one swing, it was truly over. The Beast was dead. Cole had finally ended it. He completed the purpose he was granted his powers to accomplish. He saved the world from destruction. Later that night, when John's body was being burned on a pyre in front of the church with everyone celebrating being alive, Cole though it meant he could stop fighting for his life and start living it. But it couldn't be farther from the truth.
Weeks later, when the people of New Marais were still picking up the pieces from the fighting weeks earlier, the military came in force with one goal: to exterminate all conduits. And when the gratefull people of the city refused to hand Cole and Kuo over, the soldiers decided to mow down everyone they came across, thus beginning the massacre.
'Fucking murders!' Cole thought as the memories of the massacre flashed before his eyes.
The fighting lasted for days, people running for their lives with the marines invading the city, killing everyone they came across. Cole and Kuo, along with the police, Laroche's rebels and former members of Bertrand's militia, fought back. After a long hard battle and thanks to Cole and Kuo, who's powers had become stronger than before after they finished recovering, the military forces were decimated with the survivors fleeing and would eventually be arrest and tried for war crimes. News of the atrocities committed by the military became widespread, creating uproar across the country.
But as bloody and horrible as the New Marais Massacre was, it didn't end there. Conduits were popping up all over the world, the sudden superhuman population throwing world governments into a panic as to what to do about it. In the United States, there was one path to take. Months after New Marais, the D.U.P. was found with Brook Augustine as its leader, and they started indiscriminately rounding up and locking conduits away. While other people might have thrown in the towel at that point, Cole, along with Kuo, who became disavowed by the N.S.A. on trumped-up charges of treason, and Zeke fought back against the system.
Over the years, they started rebel movements that opposed the D.U.P. and gradually gain support by conduit sympathizers and other conduits that were sick of being forced to live on the run. Initially, the resistance had numerous failures due to being outgunned by the government-backed D.U.P. Still, over time they became a legitimate threat and started striking the D.U.P. Where they could, attacking convoys, freeing detained prisoners sabotaging D.U.P. outposts, etc.
Years past and Cole found himself facing off against Augustine, who tried to persuade him to join her cause by explaining her true motivations to him. Cole outright refused as he only viewed her as a manipulative hypocrite who couldn't see what rounding up all conduits and sending them to some far off place was going to lead to.
Cole shut his eyes, remembering his fight with Augustine in San Fransico. Augustine was crawling on the broken street, trying to get away from the man that had beaten her down. Cole casually walked behind her, tapping it his Amp on the asphalt. He hated Augustine, not only for founding the D.U.P. but for everything she's done to keep the D.U.P. in power. Manipulating the media, framing conduits for things they didn't do to inflame anti-conduit sentiments, assassinating people who spoke out against her. And for what? To "protect" conduits by sending them to someplace that could one day become a death camp!?
Cole struck Augustine's side with the Amp, forcing her to role on her back and look up at the man she now feared more than anyone. Cole couldn't help but laugh. All the propaganda the D.U.P. made about Augustine being invincible, and now he had her on the ground trembling. In her desperate last stand to beat him, she created a giant concrete construct that she enveloped herself in only for Cole to call down a massive lightning strike from the sky and blew it to pieces. It wasn't all that surprising to him. All those years she spent sitting on her throne, letting her lackeys do all the work made her weak and no match for a truly seasoned conduit like him.
"P-Please..." she pleaded, shielding her head. "Without the D.U.P., our kind are going to be massacred."
Hearing that last word brought up very unpleasant memories for Cole, so he stomped on her chest, sending an electric charge down his leg to shut her up. "I'm done listening to you! Just shut the fuck up!" Cole raised the Amp over his head, ready to finish Augustine once and for all.
But then Augustine's loyal soldiers intervened, distracting the Electric Man while she absorbed some nearby concrete and dived into the ground, escaping Cole's wrath. In the weeks that followed, Augustine's reputation went down the toilet, as once the video of her fight with Cole became public, she was seen as a joke. On the other hand, Cole's victory over the D.U.P.'s leader inspired others. Conduits in hiding began to stand up, joining rebel cells to fight back, to fight for their freedom.
After San Fransico, Cole swore he'd finish the job next time, but he never got the chance. A year later, in Seattle, Augustine was beaten and humiliated by a conduit who hadn't even had his powers for more than a few weeks. Afterward, said conduit exposed Augustine for orchestrating the prisoner break, and the Seattle occupation in her attempt to secure the future of the D.U.P. thanks to the files he and his allies got of Augustine's computers. When that evidence, along with her real motivations behind starting the D.U.P. became public, she completely lost the trust of her men and the government, who then looked like complete morons for ever trusting her.
Following the Seattle occupation and Augustine's subsequent arrest, the resistance released many incriminating documents detailing the crimes D.U.P. committed over the years and exposing the lies they and the government spread about Cole and other conduits, causing uprising to pop up across the country. Resistance numbers began to swell, people calling out the people in charge of the lies they were telling for the last seven years. Conduits began lashing out as well. After years of being forced to live in hiding and with the D.U.P. disbanded, many superhumans took to the streets along with sympathizers demanding equality and the freedom to live their lives. The chaos across the country threatened to turn into full-scale civil war.
Faced with the possibility of a total revolution, the government gave in. They lifted the anti-conduit laws allowing conduits, including Cole, who was cleared of all the false crimes, to live their lives as they saw fit.
Now more than thirty years after Empire City, Cole stood in Seattle as a married man having two children of his own, adopting a third later on that he was currently holding by the shoulder in the middle of a cemetery. Cole sighed, freeing himself from his distant memories. Despite the hardship he had to deal with, it was over now. He made a new life for himself that wasn't filled with tragedy and constant fighting. And Cole wanted his daughter and two sons to make their own lives one day, hopefully without the same hardships he had to deal with, but ultimately it was out of his hands. Even so, he was sure that whatever life had in store for them, they would pull through.
"You know Issac, as hard as it might seem now, you got something to help you through it that I didn't have went I was your age."
"Hair?" Issac joked, getting a shock to the arm for it.
Cole pointed to his own head, "This is a choice." He said that, but the truth was that ever since the blast in Empire, the hair on his head stopped growing like it used to, so he didn't have to keep shaving it. His facial hair was something he still had to deal with, but ultimately he was glad his body got the message that he prefers short stubble to long hair. "What I mean is you got family you can depend on when you need to. God knows that me and my parents were always at each other's throats before I moved out. But If your every going through a tough time, you can always ask us for help. That's what family's for."
Issac came to the cemetery with dread but was starting to cheer up. He looked down at his sister's grave, still sad that she was no longer with him but grateful that he found a family that accepted him as one of their own. "Thanks. I appreciate it." Issac took one last look at the grave then turned away, "I got to get home and get ready."
"I can take you there in no time."
"That's fine, I'll walk-" Issac felt a hand on his shoulder then was engulfed by a lightning bolt, and after a few moments of electric incorporeality, he was standing across the street from the apartment building he lived in. Issac stumbled disoriented from the transport method Cole used. While Issac was no stranger to becoming nonphysical, his powers allowing him to become such at night, doing so using other conduits powers like Cole's, could cause a bit of nausea. Gavin never had a problem due to his abilities being the same as his father's, but for other people, there was some difficulty. "For fuck's sake! Next time just let me walk."
Cole patted him on the back. "It was no problem. Make sure you got everything for your hike later." A dog's bark made him turn his head to see a fourteen-year-old girl with a leash in her hand, staring at the duo with awe. She just saw them appear out of nowhere from a lightning bolt from the sky. "Is that a German Shepard?"
The girl nodded, remembering her dog that was growling at the older man. "Y-Yes. My parents got him for my birthday two months ago."
Cole squatted, staring right at the dog that continued giving off threatening growls, protective of his owner. "You take good care of him, and he'll take care of you. Understand?"
"Y-Yes, sir." Getting up, Cole waved to Issac one last time. "Bye." A bolt of lightning hit Cole where he stood, and he was gone, most likely standing in front of his house within a few seconds.
Issac looked up at the cloudy sky then at the girl who was still processing what she saw. "Parents. Am I right?" With that, Issac headed back to his apartment, his stomach a little queasy, but should settle down in no time.
The girl stood like a statue for a minute longer then a bark snapped her out of her stupor, and she resumed walking her dog. "I am so telling my friends about this!"
Issac walked up the steps to the second floor and used his key to open his apartment door. Shutting the door behind him, Issac turned the living room light on and went for his bedroom. He dropped his backpack next to the bed. Checking the time, he still had a few hours before he had to leave to met up with Gavin, so he made himself some eggs and toast and took a seat on the couch, turning the tv on to pass the time.
Back at Cole's house, Gavin was awake. With no school to worry about, he had his alarm turned off so he could sleep in. Gavin woke up around eight, hungry he left his room to make breakfast. Passing Issac's old room, he saw that the door was open, and Issac wasn't inside. Getting downstairs, Gavin realized Issac left already. He was hopping Issac would stay for breakfast, but Issac must have wanted to get home early. Gavin got some bacon strips from the fridge and popped them into the microwave. Waiting, Gavin heard the sound of lightning outside and his father entering through the front door twenty seconds later.
"Morning, dad." Gavin waved at his father, who was hanging his jacket up.
"Did Issac leave already?"
"Yup. He left early because he wanted to see his sister's grave, and I dropped him off at his apartment a minute ago."
"You met him a the cemetery?"
"Yeah, we talked for a little while there."
Gavin grimaced thinking about that day years ago. Lillian's death was not something anyone in the family liked to talk about, especially around Issac. Although Gavin and Lillian weren't close friends like he and Issac are, the electric conduit knew how much her death hurt Issac.
Cole sat down on his chair in the living room and turned on the news. He looked at the window with the tapped over hole from the other night and sighed. It was annoying how many times they had to get the windows fixed, but at least they knew an excellent glazier to replace it.
The bacon finish cooking in the microwave, and Gavin proceeded to help himself at the same time the two female members of the family came downstairs. "Morning, dad," Olivia said, giving her father a hug from behind.
Cole smiled, feeling his daughter's arms around his neck. "Good morning."
Lucy walked past, tapping her daughter's shoulder, "Come on, let your dad have his tv time."
"Okay." Olivia went to the kitchen to get some cereal while lucy got some coffee. Cole left for her. She used her powers to cool it down and put in some ice cubs to make ice coffee that she preferred.
The MacGraths proceeded to go about their morning. Olivia went back upstairs, staying in her room doing who knows what. Lucy went to her personal office upstairs to work on a report for the N.S.A. Her taskforce had been assigned with tracking a conduit terrorist group called the Evolved, which had been staging terror attacks across the states for the past year. They believed that the powers conduits have proved they were superior to all other humans and that conduits should dominate completely. While the exact size of the group is unknown, the N.S.A. does know that their leader is a steel conduit that goes by the title, The Dagger.
Cole stayed downstairs, deciding to take his Amp off the wall for a little cleaning. His wife kept him in the loop in regards to potential conduit threats like the Evolved. This was due to an arrangement made between him and the N.S.A. Because of his experience in Empire City and New Maris years ago, whenever there is a severe threat involving conduits, such as the Beast, Cole would be asked to intervene. The only condition was that Cole is allowed to handle it his way as he did not trust the government after the years he spent being lied about and hunted. Lucy and her team were allowed to work with him as support, and he trusted his wife even if he didn't trust her superiors.
Gavin went back to his room to get ready to meet up with Issac. Gavin took out his green hiking backpack from the closet, filling it with basic essentials for going outdoors. He and Issac weren't planning to camp out or anything, but Cole taught them to be prepared for anything. 'Better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it.' Gavin thought to himself. He packed multi-tool, a lighter, a compass, some food, and water. Just to be safe, Gavin packed some spare batteries to drain if he needed to. The electric conduit put on a pair of hiking shoes and a blue vest on top of his green t-shirt. It might not be the best attire for chilly days, but Gavin was hardly ever bothered by the cold due to his mother's genes, he theorized. He was no ice conduit, but Gavin inherited other things from his mother, including higher resistance to cold along with the blue tint in his black hair.
Gavin patted his tan-colored cargo pants with a belt through the loops. He still had some time before meeting up with Gavin, so he turned on his tv and sat down, setting his backpack on the bed. Holding his hand up, letting electricity run between his fingers. The distance their usual hiking route took them led them far from Seattle's power grid, so he was going to be feeling weak, but he'd muddle through. After all, it was only a day-long hike. What was the worst that could happen?
Sometime later, Issac was finishing getting ready himself. He sported a grey hoodie over a black t-shirt and a pair of dark green cargo pants. Issac tapped his hiking shoes on the floor, checking his backpack to make sure there was everything he wanted to bring. He packed his new drawing pack, a flint, and a steel knife, a flashlight, and some water. Issac hadn't recently gone to the store, so he was low on snacks and would have to make a pit stop along the way. Double-checking his pockets, the shadow conduit confirmed he hadn't forgotten his cell phone and wallet, or his watch. "I think I'm all set." Issac checked the time, "Time to go."
Collecting everything he meant to bring, Issac left his Appartement, locking the door behind him. After getting down the steps, he heard the voice of his landlord, Mr. William, "Hey." Issac turned around. "Your rent's due by next week. And don't forget the extra you promised me. You better have it by then, or your ass is out."
Issac remembered. "I didn't forget. I'll have the money by then. Don't keep your panties in a bunch."
Grumbling, the middle-aged man turned around, muttering the word "Freak."
Issac balled his hands into fists, shadows circling around his arms. He hated being called freak as if it meant he was some sort of mutant. It's well known that possessing the conduit gene was a natural occurrence that happens with some individuals, but to some people, conduits were random freaks of nature with, to some people, strange, unholy powers. To Issac being a conduit didn't put him above or below anyone else, It just meant he was different in his own way. Before he got his powers, people picked on him for being a shrimp and after people became scared of him, especially after what he did to get sent to juvie. Hell, his old foster home was more than happy to let Gavin's family take him off their hands.
Issac may have grief to deal with due to being a conduit, but it was much better than when the D.U.P. was around. Back when conduits were indiscriminately arrested for being threats to the public. Nowadays, the D.U.P. was mostly remembered as a rogue military organization that was run by a manipulative hypocrite. To conduits, the D.U.P. were commonly considered Nazis that were setting the stage for the genocide of conduit kind. Even though both the D.U.P. and the government stated many times over the years that genocide was never the endgame, it didn't stop conduits and conduit sympathizers from making the comparisons, sometimes in front of cameras which made a lot of people uncomfortable.
Issac took a deep breath and let it go. 'He's not worth it.' Unclentching his fist, Issac walked away. He turned back one last time muttering, "Asshole." There were times to fight, but this wasn't one of them. The streets were busier than earlier. Car passed by regularly as Issac walked along the streets, other people walking around going about their day. Looking across the street, Issac spotted the ally where he chased the man from the other night. A police car was there along with a tow truck that was hosting a car that was missing the driver's side door. Issac huffed, the memories of last night playing back in his mind. He was glad that Zeke was okay in the end, but he couldn't help but be angry that he got hurt.
Issac opened the front door of a convenience store. A bell rung, indicating there was a customer. The store clerk turned his head to see that Issac just entered then went back to watching the news on the overhead tv. Issac walked over to the snack aisle, picking out bags to take on the hike. He heard the bell ring again but paid it no mind as he then went to get a soda. Issac's ears caught the sounds of a quiet argument, but he assumed the other customer was chatting with the clerk. That was until on a whim, he peeked over at the counter to see a masked man with a handgun threatening the clerk.
He must not have noticed Issac as he focused all his attention on the clerk, demanding that he empty the cash register into his bag. Issac kept his head down, ponding what he should do. 'Keep quiet? Intervein? Keep quiet? intervein?' Issac remembered what happened to Zeke and knew what Cole would do. He made his decision.
"Hurry it up!" the gunman said in a hushed voice while the clerk opened the cash register.
"Hey!" The robber turned to see a young man with deep blue eyes staring him down. "You better put the-" Bang! Issac stumbled back, holding his hand to his forehead, cursing in pain. He lowered his hands, revealing the small bruise that quickly faded and the face of one pissed off conduit.
"Oh, shit!" Realizing what he was, the robber made a break for the exit. Before his hand touched the door, Issac grabbed him with his shadows, slamming him into the floor with enough force to take the air out of his lungs. The man groaned in pain, but it came to an end when he lifted his head up by the collar of his jacket and punched him twice. One to knock him out and a second as payback.
Issac stepped back, staring at the unconscious man on the floor. He turned to the clerk, who had pulled out a pistol from under the counter, seeing him stunned. "Hey." That snapped the clerk out of it. "You okay?"
"Y-Yeah, I'm good." He set the pistol down, and Issac retrieved the snacks he left on the floor. The conduit walked over to the counter to pay, but the clerk stopped him, "No need. On the house."
"Oh, thanks," Issac said, then walk out the door leaving the clerk to call the police. Issac stuffed the snacks into his backpack and opened the soda he got, taking sips as he kept walking.
The ordeal reminded Issac of when Cole told him of how he stopped a bank robbery sometime after moving to Seattle. Years ago, Cole went to the bank to settle some things with his checking account the same day seven guy with assault rifles tried to rob the place. When the leader started barking orders to everyone present, Cole used his electromagnetism to pull their guns out of their hands then proceed to knock out four of them with hand to hand combat in seconds. The fifth and sixth managed to pull out their sidearms, but Cole blasted them with a shockwave sending them into the wall, putting them out of commission. The seventh recognized the "Demon of Empire City" and immidently surrendered, being pinned to the floor by arc restraints. Afterward, Cole stood in the middle of seven downed robbers, apathetic to the claps and cheers he received. After the police arrived, one of the officers tried giving Cole a hard time but was quickly put in his place by his superior, who thanked Cole for his effort and allowed him to get on with the rest of his day.
Issac chuckled, wishing he could have been there to see it. His mood began to turn sour when he heard someone preach religious text from the bible. Issac walked past the local church, noticing a familier preacher standing in front of the entrance reading the bible out loud to passing bystanders.
The preacher saw Issac walking by, recognizing him from the bus stop and stopped his reading to say, "Young man, if you wished to be saved, you best have learned not to indulge in the wicked gifts the devil has granted you!"
"Tell you what, If the devil shows up at my doorstep, I'll point him in your direction so you can banish him away with your stupid paganism bullshit!" Issac spoke then showed off his powers by making a few and juggled them, throwing them into the air were they faded away.
The preacher was confused and shocked. "Paganism!?"
"You heard me!" Issac flipped the preacher off and went on walking, ignoring the looks his exchange with the preacher got him from other people. He turned his head back to see the church disappeared from his sight and turned back with a dismissive sneer. Issac was no atheist, but he refused to follow any of the mainstream religions. To Issac, religion was people in churches and temples using the concept of God to manipulate the masses in order to gain more power and money. Issac believed that the real God, if there is one, rejects worship and allows people to live their lives without being fed religious dogma, and any others that are petty enough to demand praise and tribute aren't worth it.
As Issac continued walking, he wondered how Gavin was doing.
Gavin was all set to go. He double-checked to make sure he had everything packed. "Food, check. Compass, check." After a minute, he put the backpack on and went downstairs. Gavin spotted his father's Amp on the living room table, and his father was nowhere in sight. Not seeing any harm in it, Gavin picking the Amp up, remembering the weight it had, admiring the smooth sliver chrome surface. He pushed a switch on the handle, causing the two prongs to retract then pulled the switch back to extend the prongs again.
Gavin practiced using it plenty of times when his dad had him and Issac spare with him and each other over the years. Each time he could feel the history behind the weapon, admiring how, after so many decades, it hadn't shown the slightest sight of decay, a testament to the excellent care Cole gave it. Cole even let Issac try it out once, but the Amp wasn't made for a shadow conduit in mind, so his powers weren't compatible with the weapon. Gavin charged up his arm, letting his power funnel into the Amp, making it light up.
A smile crawled on Gavin's face, gently swinging the Amp around. "Don't break anything." Gavin flinched, hearing his father right next to him.
Cole stood two feet away with his arms crossed, smirking, seeing how Gavin tensed up at his voice. Gavin ceased charging the Amp, setting the weapon back on the living room table. "Sorry." Gavin knew how much the Amp meant to his dad.
"It's alright." Cole patted his shoulder, picking the Amp up off the table. "A lot of history in this thing. A lot of memories." Ever since he first got it in New Maris, Cole never once thought about ditching it. From the final showdown against the Beast to the beatdown he handed Augustine, The Amp was the weapon he always kept at his side. "A shame it doesn't see action anymore."
"You miss being a wanted criminal?"
"No," Cole stated, giving his son a look that made him shy away. He retracted the prongs, tapping the coils on his palm. "What do you think of it?"
"It's cool. makes me want to have a weapon of my own."
"Really? You ever thought about having the Amp one day?"
"I've thought about it, but I think I'd rather get my own one day. That thing's yours, and I don't want to take it from you."
"Oh," Cole was a bit disappointed, but proud Gavin wanted to get a weapon of his own liking one day. "Well then, maybe when you do, we can fight to see who's is better."
Gavin laughed, "Probably in a couple of years. I'm no match for you now." Ever since Gavin got his powers when he was twelve, Cole made it his business to help his son his newfound abilities through rigorous training. Each time they spared, Gavin could tell his dad was always holding back a lot, even recently.
"You'll get there one day." Cole patted Gavin's back then gave him a grin, "Maybe after you become a pokemon master."
"Oh, come on!" Gavin half-shouted, making his dad burst out laughing. "I already get enough of that from Issac! I don't need to hear it from you too!"
Cole settled down. "I'm sorry. But I see why Issac finds it so funny."
"Oh, yeah? why don't you tell Hiccup he can have another one of his hiccups."
Cole started laughing this time with his son too. "That was so funny!"
"I know! Hiccup's Last Hiccup!" They laughed again, drawing the attention of someone upstairs.
"Don't you boys know better than to be so loud inside." Lucy came down the stairs in her blue sweater that complimented her hair color. She took note of Gavin's outdoor attire. "You leaving now?"
"Yeah, I'm gonna met up with Issac."
"Okay," Lucy pulled her eldest child in for a quick hug, "Have fun with your brother, but I swear if you come home drunk..."
Gavin felt his mother getting colder through his clothes, and he pulled away. "Mom, I don't drink. Especially not after last month. I'm never doing that again." Gavin rubbed his stomach, remembering his birthday.
Lucy gave her son's hair a blast of snow, covering it in white ice particles. "Good to know you learned your lesson."
Gavin quickly worked to get the ice out of his hair before it melted. "Alright, bye. I'll be back later." Gavin headed out the front door.
"Did you remember to pack batteries?" Cole asked, knowing he was going beyond the Cities power grid.
"I did." Gavin went off down the street to meet up with Issac, turning on his music player to listen to as he walked.
Cole went back to cleaning the Amp, and Lucy went to get a glass of water. They were proud of the fine young men Issac and Gavin turned out to be. The two of them were as close as brothers could be even if they did quarrel a bit. Adopting Issac did a lot of good for both of them. Olivia was happy to have Issac for a bother, too, even if they weren't related by blood. She always tried to involve herself with the things they got up too from training with her dad to learning parkour, but the age difference made her fall flat in some cases. But still, she tried her best to fit in even if she got on Gavin's nerves sometimes and vise Versa.
Sometimes Olivia would pull pranks on her brothers with her ice powers for the times they excluded her. They would range from making slippery ice on the floor to make them slip to freezing their drinks in the cups. Her mother would scold her for it but never give any severe punishment for it as it was mostly harmless, considering Issac and Gavin were both conduits, so they were never in any real pain.
Lucy was about to head back upstairs when the sound of a 14-year-old coming down could be heard. Olivia reached the bottom, clothed in a green long sleeve shirt with a pair of blue jeans, and her black-bluish hair held back in a ponytail. She had her backpack full of snacks and other various things she thought she might need. "I'm going to my friend's house. I'll be back in a couple of hours." She reached for the front door went her dad's voice stopped her.
"Olivia..." Cole spoke, turning around to look at her. "Where are you going?"
Olivia now had both her parents fixed on her. She snapped her fingers, knowing she should have seen this coming. Cole knew she was lying, not only because he knew her well but also because of his powers. He could sense the electrical impulses in people's nervous systems, including the ones in their brains, and it allowed him to tell whether someone was telling the truth or not.
"Olivia?" Lucy crossed her arms, waiting for an answer from her daughter.
Oliva sighed, "I might be going with Gavin..." She finished, playing with her hair, sounding as innocent as she could.
Lucy huffed with a smirk at her daughter, quickly being figured out. "Was that so hard?" She took a sip from her cup, giving her daughter a kiss on the head then went upstairs.
Cole huffed as well, knowing that Oliva wanted to be involved in the hike that Gavin probably didn't want her to be a part of, either due to him wanting some brotherly time with Issac or concern for her well being in the wilderness. "You better get going before Gavin gets too far to follow." He recommended going back to cleaning the Amp. He wasn't all that worried about Olivia, knowing she was familier with the layout of the City, plus her powers that Lucy helped her learn to control when she had the time.
Smiling, Olivia said, "Okay, bye, dad." She opened the door and went out to follow her brother.
Issac was waiting near the City limits waiting for Gavin to show up. He listened to his music player while scrolling down his smartphone, sitting on the ledge of the bridge that led out of Seattle. Issac finished his soda and threw it in a dumpster a while back and now was biding his time.
He searched through songs on his player, and after finding the one he was looking for, he took off his backpack and opened it up, taking out his drawing pack. Opening the protective cover, he flipped through the blank pages waiting for someone's artistic talents to use them. Issac hadn't been able to think of anything to draw as of late. It wasn't the first block he had, and his inspiration would come back eventually, but it still bugged him. He closed the drawing book with a sigh, disappointed in himself.
"Hello, young man." Issac flinched, almost dropping the drawing pack when he saw an elderly man seemingly appear out of nowhere. "Oh, terribly sorry! I didn't mean to surprise you."
Settling down, Issac got off the ledge, putting the pack aside to speak with the man. "It's alright. Just give a guy some warning next time."
"Duly noted, lad." Issac inspected the man before him; the first thing he noticed was the walking staff he held onto. The man himself was bald with strange tattoos on his head. He had a long white beard covering his mouth, wrinkles around his eyes, suggesting severe aging. An olive green long coat with a hood covered most of his body, with a black traveling backpack hanging from his shoulders. The thing that stood out most was the bright yellow eyes he had. That and the European sounding accent, but Issac couldn't call himself an expert in that field.
The man seemed to study Issac's face with interest as if trying to remember it. "I take it you live in this city, lad."
"Yes, I do, and you can call me Issac."
"Issac? I think it suits you. Are you waiting for someone?"
"Yes, I'm waiting for my friend, well more like brother."
"A brother? It good to keep family close."
Issac gave him another once over, realizing that his attire looked worn, especially his walking boots. "I take it you're not from here."
"Oh, no, but I have been to this city before. I'm more of a traveler, going from place to place, seeing whatever this world has to offer. And let me tell you I've been around even if it cost me some calluses on my feet."
"Really? When was the last time you've been to Seattle?
"Many years ago, back when that ornery lying hag and her army started locking up good people for no reason." The old man finished with disdain.
Issac connected the dotes, "Wait; you were here during the D.U.P. occupation?"
"Yes, and being someone who's been unjustly imprisoned before, let me tell you seeing that self-righteous bitch get her comeuppance did my heart good. As if her joke of an idea for protecting her kind was going to lead to anything good."
Issac chuckled, "Well then," grinning, he clapped his hands together, focusing his powers, then threw them up, releasing a cloud of shadows that mimicked the appearance of exploding fireworks. The old man took a step back at the sight while Issac told him, "Welcome back to Seattle."
"Incredible! Your one of those... those," The man shook his head, trying to get the word to come to him.
"Conduits," Issac answered for him.
"Aye, that's right! Oh, my! I knew there was something about you." Issac shadows disappeared like they always do. "My, my. I have to tell you, lad, I've been around for many years, but the sight of mere mortals being capable of wielding power to rival the gods always astounds me. Takes me back many years."
"How long ago?"
The old man made a face that looked like he slipped up. "Oh, uh, never mind. Just an old man rambling on." He stepped closer to Issac, putting one hand on his shoulder. Usually, Issac would be disturbed by a stranger he just met doing that, but he didn't seem so bad. "Issac, correct?" Issac nodded. "Issac take it from someone who's been to many parts of the world. There are many things to discover and many things that have been forgotten. Sometimes there's a person that's meant to find those lost things, and perhaps along the way, you will discover new things about yourself."
As Issac stared back into the old man's eyes, hearing his own heartbeat as he processed what the man said. He didn't know what he meant by forgotten things, but being an orphan who never knew his parents, he always did have questions about himself. Where did he come from? Why out of all the millions of people in the world was he one of the ones with powers? Where was he going to go in the future? These questions were always in the back of his mind, but Issac figured they might never be answered. Were they what the old man was talking about?
It seemed the old man finally realized the deep though he put Issac in and let him go. "Sorry. Here I go rambling on again. I hope I didn't startle you."
Issac shook his head, snapping out of it. "No, it's alright. I'm just thinking. In fact, one day, I'm hoping to do traveling myself."
He smiled, "Is that so? Well, believe me, its good to go out and see new things, even when you're a decrepit old man like me." The old man tapped his staff on the ground, "I'd best be going." He walked off, "I hope we see each other again."
Issac waved him goodbye then realized he never got the man's name. "What's your name, by the way."
The man kept walking, turning around to tell Issac, "Just call me the smartest man you have ever met."
Issac raised a brow, perplexed he muttered to himself. "Okay, then."
Gavin was almost on the meeting point, spotting Issac a reasonable distance away. An old man with a staff in hand was walking in his direction away from Issac's. He stopped a few feet away from the electrical conduit, "Good afternoon, young man." The old man said to Gavin in a charming tone.
Gavin stopped as well, giving him a nod. "Hello."
"Tell me," The old man pointed over to Issac, who was waiting by the bridge, "It that young lad there, your brother?"
Gavin was surprised that he pointed out Issac like that but answered anyway. "Yeah, you could say that. We've known each other for years. Hell, my parents adopted him."
Smiling, the man walked past Gavin, patting him on the shoulder, telling him, "You two watch out for each other. you're going to need it." He walked away, the tapping of his staff becoming fainter the further he got. "Good luck to you."
Confused, Gavin watched the man get father away for a moment then walked over to Issac. "Hey,"
"Hey," The two conduits greeted one another with their usual fist bump.
"Didn't see you at breakfast this morning."
Issac scratched his head, "Yeah, sorry about that. I wanted to see my sister's grave before I got ready."
"I know. My dad told me." There was a moment of silence before Gavin asked, "So, you all set?"
"Yup," Issac gathered his things, and they headed off across the bridge.
"Do you know that old man, by the way?" Gavin asked.
"Him? No, first time I've met him, but he said some interesting things to me. Apparently, he's the "smartest man we've ever met."
"That's what he said."
The two brothers walked side by side, sharing a laugh as they headed across the bridge, the sun breaking through the cloud to shine down on the road ahead for their venture into the wilderness.