Chapter 1:

Lowlife

Aftershock


Jax knelt in a dark alleyway listening to quiet sounds of night in the city. Occasionally a car or other vehicle would roll past his hiding place and he’d duck further down, heart racing. It was unlikely that anyone was looking for, he hadn’t done anything yet. Bookmark here

Once he made sure the coast was clear he took in a deep breath and charged himself. Energy welled up inside him, filling his chest with an electric tingle and warmth. He loved the feeling of charging up his powers. The energy stabilized him, made him stronger. Let him do things normal people couldn’t. He’d never met anyone with powers like his, though he had never really looked very hard. Bookmark here

He did some quick stretches while he gauged the space between either side of the alleyway. Powers or no powers scaling the walls of a building was still difficult, plus if he got the timing wrong he would fall. No amount of energy would protect him from hitting the concrete. He looked down, frowning at the way the concrete shined in the dim street lights, too clean, too perfect. Like all of Utoa this area was cleaned nearly to perfection. The result of automated cleaning crews and heavy handed laws about public cleanliness.Bookmark here

One of the many, many reasons Jax hated this place. Everything for regular citizens was regulated somehow, this patch of ground should be clean because someone else wanted it to be, not because they’d be dragged off to the Tower if they got it dirty. He shook his head and finished stretching. That had been a stupid thing to get fixated on.Bookmark here

Once he was all limbered up he transferred the energy from his chest to his arms and legs. The warmth lessened in intensity but was now spread throughout his body. He did a few practice movements, testing how the energy strengthened his legs, and sped up his reaction time. He was pretty confident that it was fine but better to make certain. If he fell here, the consequences might involve more than a cracked bone or a handful of bruises. Bookmark here

Tests done, he ran forward and jumped up onto the wall in front of him. As soon as he made contact he quickly twisted and leapt upwards towards the other wall at an angle. Wall jumping involved more than just sped, he had to be precise with his foot placement, had to hit one wall hard enough that he could use that force to jump to the next but soft enough that he didn’t just slam into it. His hands were involved too, whenever he hit a wall he used his arms to help cushion the landing, and to help push off. Bookmark here

The entire climb was over in a few seconds. His last jump sent up him up just over the edge of the flat rooftop. He channeled more energy to his legs giving them enough power to let them absorb the landing, though he still rolled forward, letting the movement disperse the force of the impact. He’d fallen a lot during the early years of having these powers, so each time he successfully did it he always had a giddy sense of accomplishment. Tonight was no exception, the wide grin came to him almost without him noticing. While he knelt on the rooftop catching his breath.Bookmark here

Hew as the tired while he caught his breath, one of the side benefits of his powers was that the energy he stored could always keep him going, even without sleep. Though when he’d tried not sleeping for several days as an experiment he hadn’t been able to keep charging or even hold onto the charge he had after a while, eventually passing out from exhaustion; and he still had to eat. But even with those limitations, he had still just jumped up a building and was only a little winded. That worked for him just fine.Bookmark here

After catching his breath, Jax pulled off the backpack he’d been carrying and checked on its contents. Inside were a handful of spray paint cans and a few silver balls, each about the size of his fist. Nothing looked like it had been burnt or damaged. He sighed in relief, whenever he had enough energy running in any part of his body, his skin leaked a bit of the energy. Aside from making his it glow, this also made his skin shock anything it touched. Like he had a really large static charge. He’d taken precautions to make sure it wouldn’t damage any of his equipment. Wearing a thick hoodie, long pants and socks, as well as gloves to both hide the glow and put some padding between him and the contents of the bag. Still, best to check. Bookmark here

A few more rooftops stood between him and his goal, though he could see the sentry station from where he was. Station twelve was a maintenance and holding facility for the surveillance and enforcement drones that buzzed through the entire city keeping eyes on everyone and everything in it. Jax had made a usual game of pulling stunts similar to this one on other semi-important buildings and then dodging the drones when they came to investigate.  And now, he had decided to try something slightly more ambitious than a simple office building.Bookmark here

  Jax hopped across the rooftops towards the station, scanning around for any sentry drones, though they didn’t normally fly up this high. One he reached the final roof he looked across the street at the corner where the station sat surrounded by a tall fence. The building itself was a squat, almost cube shaped thing. Painted mostly in black, it was maybe twenty or thirty feet tall. Making it a fair bit shorter than the building he was standing on, which was good for the math of making the jump across. On top of the station was a tower like construction that rose another ten or so feet in the air. At the top of this, sentries shaped like silver discs with large cameras on the front, flew up and into a specialized hanger. Once inside they deactivated and mechanisms inside would shuffle them down to the station below. This tower had a large blocky number twelve painted on it in white. Jax was planning to change that picture, but first he had to clear the street.Bookmark here


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Pulling the three metal spheres from his bag Jax placed them on the ground and tapped the black bracelet on his wrist. The Holoband chirped to life and a translucent blue screen appeared above his wrist. Tapping a few areas on the screen he activated the spheres. Each humming to life and rising up from the ground. These were going to create an opening for him, small drones he’d built for tonight. They’d been very expensive, especially since he hadn’t exactly gotten all the parts through proper channels.Bookmark here

He walked to the back edge of the building and faced the sentry station. He directed the drones to fly to points not far from the station, near street lamps. The street was practically deserted, most people didn’t have a reason to come to the station and the nearby shops were all closed. It was perfect, one the drones were each positioned near lamps he set the countdown timer and jogged to the back edge of the roof charging up more energy within himself.Bookmark here

He focused on the buzzing sensation of the leftover energy from his climb and amplified it. Bringing out as much power as he could draw at once. For some reason the energy always started in the center of his chest when he generated it, he stoked the charge. Increasing it until he could see the glow peeking out through the fabric of his hoodie. The rush he felt this time was almost painful, he’d never held this much power at once before and his entire body felt like it was being pricked at every nerve ending. He stoked the charge, keeping it going until he was practically vibrating, light leaked out from beneath his clothes and he felt ready to explode. When he finally stopped charging he saw sparks jumping off his hands, tiny holes burning into the gloves. It was probably excessive to have charged so much energy but he’d never jumped so far before. Better safe than facedown on the street. Plus, the gloves were pretty cheap. He got down into a ready position, counting the remaining seconds in the timer. Bookmark here

Ten, nine, eight Bookmark here

He closed the screen and fixed his eyes forward. Visualizing himself sailing across the very wide distance and landing on the roof of the station. Bookmark here

Seven, six, fiveBookmark here

If the distraction worked and he landed he’d be set. There was no surveillance on the building itself, you couldn’t get close enough to it without being seen. Bookmark here

“if you’re on the ground. ” Jax thought with a smirk.Bookmark here

Four, three, two Bookmark here

He sucked in a quick breath then channeled all the energy into his lower body. He burst forward, in less then a second he had taken a running jump off the edge of the roof, moving faster than any human had a right to move. sparks trailed behind him and for a second he worried about his clothes getting burnt by the discharge.Bookmark here

One Bookmark here

The Hovering spheres each exploded in a shower of sparks and loud noise. Shattering the street lamps and sending the area around the station into temporary darkness. Jax couldn’t see what was happening but he hoped that the flash bombs had done enough to draw attention away from him because he couldn’t exactly turn around now.Bookmark here

His entire flight lasted around five seconds, and the impact felt like what Jax imagined getting hit by a large truck would be like. He managed to absorb the force a bit by rolling into the landing a little bit but his body still screamed in protest. He ended up on his back and wheezed. Not enough air in his body to fully groan. He normally would’ve celebrated his accomplishment but it was all he could do right now to stay conscious. The excitement would probably come later, once he had time to recover and the bruises were gone. Bookmark here

After lying still on the roof for a few very long moments he raised himself up to a crouch. No alarms went off and none of the sentries overhead seemed to notice that he was there. Perfect, now to do the actual job. He stood, body aching, and moved over to the large 12. He pulled two cans of spray paint from his bag, miraculously undamaged, and shook them, time to go to work. He quickly laid another coat of white over the 12 to create a uniform background and began tagging the station with his mark. A yellow bolt of lightning striking a black tower, or that’s what it was supposed to be. But it was really more of a black rectangle. He stepped back and admired his handiwork, it was a little sloppy but it looked a lot better than the first time he’d done this. Bookmark here

“Citizen, you are in violation of the public order.”Bookmark here

Jax froze, that was bad news. He quickly pulled up his hood and spun around to see three hovering sentries, black camera lenses focused on him. The one in the center moved forward, deep robotic voice blasting from hidden speakers.Bookmark here

“Cease your actions immediately and-.” Bookmark here

Jax wasted no time, he summoned the remaining energy from his jump to his arms and thrust his hands out, sending arcing bolts of energy from his hands into the drones. The sudden blast caused the drones to fly backwards, fried circuits smoking. An alarm sounded, And Jax quickly ran, leaping down from the station roof and taking off down the street, the last of his energy reserves cushioning the fall and speeding him up enough to lose the pursuing drones. He was careful to make sure no sparks arced off him while he ran, keeping his abilities off camera was something he tried to make a habit of.Bookmark here

After losing his pursuers Jax ducked into a different alley, sliding down the wall and smiling like an idiot. He’d never taken such a big risk before, and the adrenaline, plus that feeling of accomplishment doing wonders to surpass his pain. It had worked! He’d tagged a sentry station, a sentry station. Jax pumped his fist in excitement, regretting the decision when his body protested. Tonight had been mostly a trial, he had something bigger in mind for the station, something a little crazier. Now that he knew he could get close to it, he knew that he could do a lot more than just paint a big wall.Bookmark here

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To normal eyes the alley was dark and empty, though it was remarkably clean. Issac’s eyes saw the spectral shadows standing, all staring in the same direction. None of them reacted when he walked between them, shades in this city were tamer than most. He sighed and reached out with his mind, grabbing hold of the creatures one by one and dispelling them, the only sound a quiet “whomp” when they vanished. Bookmark here

It wasn't his favorite thing to do, but leave enough shades around and negative energy would pool around them. So he made a point to walk around the area and clear out any large clusters. Though it was eerie how they just stood staring towards the back wall of the alley. Bookmark here

He walked up to the last shade, but before he could destroy it the creature suddenly looked down at him. They were tall, thin shadows without features, they stood hunching forward, long arms dangling in front of them. Issac jumped back when the last one turned to him, they were tamer in this city than other places he'd been but they could still be dangerous. Bookmark here

“Do you hear it?” The creature croaked in an inhuman raspy voiceBookmark here

Issac cocked his head, “hear what?” He asked, slowly reaching out with his mind to take hold of the creature.Bookmark here

“The screaming” it said, pointing in the direction it had been staring.Bookmark here

“Who's screaming?” Issac replied as his aura slowly began to envelop the shade.Bookmark here

“The dreamers,” it responded, its faint blue glow reddening “they scream to be awakened.” Bookmark here

The Shade’s form shifted as its hue turned more and more red. Its fingers stretched and sharpened, its outline started to shift like smoke, and its voice developed a hard edge. Issac tightened his metal grip around the creature before it could move, and scattered its essence, dispelling it. Bookmark here

A bead of sweat rolled down his face, shades in this city were very different from ones in other places he had lived. The were tame, and typically didn’t even move, most shades weren’t like that. Living here had put him off his guard, he needed to be more careful in the future.Bookmark here

“The dreamers are screaming huh?” He turned in the direction the shades had been staring. Then, following a hunch he walked out of the alley to the nearby street, keeping the direction in his head. Once out on the street he looked up and rising high into the air he saw it, the massive black tower at the heart of the city, Oneiros. Bookmark here

Issac stared at the massive pillar, trying to sense anything from it. It only took a second before the wave of sensation brought him to his knees, almost making him throw up. The black tower now seemed to shift and roll like a pillar of black smoke. He’d never seen so much negative energy focused in one place. After a moment of adjustment Issac stood back up, several passers by gave him odd looks but no one paid him much mind. Bookmark here

The sensation he got from the tower was gross, like being coated with oil. The pure amount of negative energy focused on the tower was terrifying but it made sense with what he knew of it. Looking closer he noticed that it seemed to be attracting the negative energy from the city to itself, like a beacon. He couldn’t feel the pull himself, but anyone with enough negativity would feel a slight emotional pull towards the tower. If that was intentional, then it was diabolical, if not then it was a hell of a coincidence. Though that didn’t really matter one way or the other.Bookmark here

“So the dreamers want to wake up huh?” He said to himself shaking his head. “I’m sorry I can’t help you, but you all made your choice. I’ll do my best to keep other people from making the same mistake.”Bookmark here

Isaac turned and walked away, the massive tower looming behind him. Even though he’d dropped his senses, he could feel the lingering sensation of the negative energy from the tower clinging to him. He shuddered despite himself. This city was an interesting place, that was for certain.Bookmark here

Makech
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Cian Yonda
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Parsatag
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Taylor Victoria
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Parademero
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Bookmarked
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