Chapter 11:

Protect The Hope Of The Future; Mariah, The Deadly Second Captain


I can still feel the heat of Edens flames on my back even as I continue to head over in the direction of Vexs Echo. I can hear her grunts and screams as she fights off Leo, just imagining the kind of battle that's going on back there makes me sick to my stomach. Both of those guys are battle crazed maniacs. The face that Leo was giving Eden and the pressure from her echo still resonates within me even though I'm blocks away from them. I'm still against having Eden fight Leo on her own because I know how dangerous he can be.

But I could sense how powerful Edens Echo was, how convinced and sure of herself that she could win that fight. She's desperate to prove something not only to Jo and us, her teammates but to herself as well. Jo told me that your Echo is as much a part of you as your heart is, It's basically your will. Your will to fight, your will to do anything, and if that's true, then I can't think of anyone who has more power than Eden does right now at this moment, I smile a bit as I head off into the direction of Vexs Echo as fast as I possibly can.

As I run through the sprawling city I start to get looks of disgust thrown at me as I start to bleed out of my clothes and onto the sidewalks of the city. I expect someone to stop and ask me if I'm okay or something like that but it never comes. If anything it's the opposite. As I walk past people they start to bump into me and trip me up as I walk down the street. I can feel myself starting to get angrier and angrier with every look of disgust and every bump but I keep my composure as I reach a large bridge that stretches over a body of water.

I'm not too far off from where Vex and Zach are. I can start to feel the effects of Vexs gravity starting to weigh down on me. I breathe a sigh of relief as I look into the distance. I see a couple of large buildings that extend into the sky, Zach and Vex have to be in one of those three buildings right? I breathe a sigh of relief as I pick up my walking pace into the direction of those buildings. But right as I step foot off of the bridge I find myself getting slowly surrounded by a group of agitated civilians.

They're clearly all Hybrids so I prepare myself for the worst. These kinds of incidents aren't uncommon for Deviants to find themselves in. I've been caught in my fair share of targeting growing up. The worse that will happen is that you'll probably get jumped, spit on, and beat up but that's about it. No one that I know has ever been killed from one of these so I really don't have anything to worry about. The only Hybrids that have a license to kill Deviants are Government issued soldiers and people like Leo.

I take a deep breath in and out as I pull my hand away from my hurt arm. I stand up with my chest out as one of the people throws a rock at me. The rock hits me in my chest as the other people all start to yell and curse at me. I can feel my anger starting to rise up inside of me as I feel spit hit me in my face. My eye starts to twitch as a huge book and another rock hits me in the back of my head.

"You fucking monster! Go die in a hole!"

"We don't want you here!"

"Deviants deserve to die!"

"If it wasn't for the Government I'd kill all you freaks my damn self!"

The group of Hybrids continue to throw an array of insults at me for another couple of minutes before I feel something heavy knock me onto the ground. I can feel something wet start to trickle down my back, If what I was hit with was water I wouldn't be as upset as I am now once I realize what I just got hit with. As I pick myself up off of the ground I see that one of the Hybrids just threw a public portable bathroom at me I start to smell my clothes and I almost gag as the smell of old piss shoots through my nose. All of the Hybrids start to laugh at me once they see my reaction to the pee on me and my clothes.

"Hey! I think that piss deserves to be placed somewhere better!"

"I know he probably hasn't washed in weeks, maybe the piss of a Hybrid soaking on him will make him feel a little better about himself!" The Hybrid that threw the portable bathroom at me says.

I clench both of my fists out of anger and frustration as I glare at the man. I can feel my Echo starting to rise up within me as my body starts to shake out of anger. I start to walk over to the Hybrid with my eyes trained at his throat. But before I can even get close to the guy I can hear another group of people gathering in a crowd behind me. As they're starting to get rowdier and louder I can hear the screams of a little girl over all of the noise.

"Please! Leave me alone! I don't know what you guys want! Please! Let me go!"

I quickly turn around as I immediately recognize the voice of the girl. My mind flashes back to the group of children that I protected from the wave of reality-warping energy. I can hear her starting to cry as I catch a glimpse of her falling to her knees onto the ground as the group of people starts to surround her.

"Hey! What the hell are you doing to her?!" I yell at the top of my lungs. I try to walk over to the girl to try and help her but as I try to leave the circle of people I feel one of the men put their hand on my shoulder.

I immediately stop in my tracks as I turn my head to look at him. I can see that his body is starting to grow in size as his grip on my shoulder starts to get tighter and tighter. He probably has some sort of strength-enhancing ability, so he's most likely the one that threw that bathroom at my back. I put my hand on his wrist and I start to squeeze down on it as his bones start to creak and crack under my hand. He swings and hits me in my face with his fist but I don't even move an inch. He lets out a loud gasp as my grip on his wrist starts to get tighter and tighter. The man falls to his knees as he starts to cry out in pain.

"You know, I could kill you right here and now and there would be nothing anyone around here could do about it," I growl to him. Tears start to fall down his eyes as he starts to beg and plead for me to let him go. To be honest, I think about doing it too, to live up to the name that these people gave me; The Hybrid Killer. But at this moment I stop myself from doing that.

"But, I won't," I say as I let go of his wrist. "I refuse to lower myself down to the standards that you Hybrids willingly put yourself on. To kill innocent people is something that I will never do."

As I turn back around the group of people opens the circle up as I walk past all of them. They all refuse to look me in my eyes as I chuckle a bit.

"You guys can call us names all you want, we can't stop you and we have no control over what you say, but what we can control is how we act, and if there's one thing we won't do is give you the satisfaction of being right," I say as I pick my Phoenix hoodie up off of the ground. "You may call us monsters, but we refuse to act like them."

After I say that all of the Hybrids immediately disperse as I turn my attention to the group that's surrounding the little girl. My heart rate starts to pick up exponentially as I see one of them raise their fist to her. I can feel my eyes widen as I run over to stop him from hitting her.

"Hey! What the hell do you think you're doing to her?" I growl as I grab his arm and I pull him to the ground. The crowd of Hybrids all start to scream and point at me.

"It's the Hybrid Killer!"

"Who would've thought he would show up here of all places!"

"Someone call The Government quick! We have to let them handle him!"

"Soldiers won't be enough for him, have them send in a Captain. They're the strongest Hybrids there is. There's no way he could beat them."

I clench my fist as the memory of the fight I had with Crystal flashes through my mind. I'm still feeling the effects of that loss on my body until this day. My bones and muscles still ache and my breathing is still a bit ragged from when one of her lightning bolts struck my lung. I can feel my body starting to shake out of anxiety and fear just at the thought of having to fight her again. But for the sake of the girl here I cannot afford to feel like that. I have to protect her right now.

"I don't give a damn who you send!" I yell as I stomp my foot on the ground. "I'll take on any and every last soldier that you can throw at me! Captain or not! I refuse to stand by and watch you beat up on an innocent girl! Do you hear me?!"

When the little girl raises her head off of the ground I can see her eyes light up once she realizes who I am. She immediately jumps up and runs into my arms as she starts to cry.

"Hiroshi! I'm so happy to see you! Thank you for saving me! I was so scared!" She cries as I get down on one knee. I start to pat her head as the Hybrids around us all start to curse and spit at the both of us.

I pull the little girl in close to me so that she isn't hit by anything that they throw at us. I can feel her clutch onto my chest as a brick cracks me over the side of my head. She shrieks a little bit as I rub her head some more to try and calm her down.

"Hey, everything's going to be okay. I promise." I say to her as I get hit with a glass bottle. A piece of glass finds its way into her hair and I pick it out of there as I give her a warm smile. I know it may seem a bit ridiculous, but I want to try and get her mind off of what's going on around her and to just focus on me as much as she can. "So tell me your name kiddo."

She sniffles a bit as she wipes the tears from her eyes. She tries to look up at me but right when she does another rock hits me in my face and she digs her head into my chest again.

"It's Laura. My name is Laura." She says.

"So Laura, how old are you?" I ask as I feel someone's spit hit me in the back of my head. She looks up at me again and I give her the same smile that I gave her the last time.

I know that she's scared out of her mind right now, and no matter how angry I'm feeling right now I can not let her see me show any kind of negative emotions. I have to try and reassure her that as long as she's with me she has nothing to worry about.

"I'm twelve years old. I'm the oldest out of all of the kids that you saved earlier today." She says to me as someone starts to spit insults at her.

"I'm going to gut you little bitch! Do you hear me?! The second he leaves I'm going to rip you limb from limb!"

"And you know what?! The Government isn't going to care! The world would be a better place without freaks like you!"

I can see tears starting to swell up in her eyes as she looks at me.

"Why're people like this Hiroshi? Why don't they like us? I didn't choose to be born like this!" Laura yells to me. "Why won't you leave us alone?! We haven't done anything to hurt you!" She yells at the group of Hybrids.

They all start to get riled up even more as they start to throw things at her. I immediately pull her close to me and I use myself as a shield to block her from all of the bottles, rocks, and bricks that are being thrown at her. Blood starts to trickle down my head onto the floor after one of those bricks catches me right in my temple. Laura looks at the blood drop onto the floor as she looks up at me with concern and hints of anger in her eyes.

"I'm going to kill them. I'm going to kill them all for how they're treating us. We don't deserve to be treated like this! We didn't do anything wrong!" Laura yells as she tries to come up from under me but I don't allow her to move. Another glass bottle breaks over my head as I continue to smile at her.

"Laura. You're not going to hurt or kill any of these people okay? You don't have to." I say to her as I wipe the blood from my head.

"Why not? Aren't you angry at them for how they treat us?!" She yells at me.

"Of course I am. That's exactly why I'm going to be the one to get them back for how they treat people like us. Me and me alone, do you understand?" I ask her.

"But why?! Why can't I fight back?!"

I let out a deep sigh as I look her directly in her eyes. I want to tell her that that's the true responsibility that comes with being named The Hybrid Killer. A responsibility that I've given myself. It may seem ridiculous but I guess trying to convince myself that I was actually a hero seemed a lot better than just being some sort of killer with no purpose but to instill fear into others.

"This world already treats Deviants like criminals even though the majority of us aren't. If a bunch of us just start killing Hybrids left and right then we would be proving their point." I say to her a rock hits me in my ribs. "If we were to do that then we will never get a chance to be treated as equals. So do you want me to tell you what you're going to do?"

Laura nods her head as black and red lightning starts to crackle off of my body.

"You're going to let me shoulder the load of all of your frustration and anger," I say as another pair of bricks and rocks slam across the top of my head. "You're going to let me shoulder all of the hate and blame for Deviants. I'll take all of the blows so that you don't have to so that no Deviant ever has to after I'm gone."

"But why? You don't have to do that!" Laura yells as I feel someone ram their foot into my sides. I chuckle a bit after she says that.

"My generation of Hybrids and Deviants are already doomed to destroy one another. I've come to terms with that. But people like you, the generation coming after us. You guys can change how this world works. I'm putting all of my trust and hope into people just like you." I say to her as I stand up off of the ground. The man that kicked me in my sides jumps back a bit but he quickly recovers and throws a fist at my face that I easily catch with my hand.

He starts to turn into water but I glare at him shutting off his ability so that he can't escape. He looks at me with fear in his eyes as I lean my head back and I head butt him directly in between the eyes. He collapses to the ground as I glare at the rest of the Hybrids around Laura and I. They all start to back away from me as Laura picks herself up off the ground. She grabs onto my hand as she sticks her tongue out at all of them. I glare at all of them one more time as I release a small amount of my Echo off of my body. All of their faces turn pale as they all start to run away from us.

"They shouldn't bother you anymore Laura. Okay?" I say as I pat her on her head. I kneel down to her as I move some hair out of her eyes.

"Now Laura. Since you're the oldest of those kids I'm going to need you to do something for me okay? I'm going to need you to protect those guys alright? You do whatever it is that you need to do to keep them safe alright? You just got a little taste of what this world is like. Do you want them to go through that do you?" I ask her. She shakes her head no as I take a couple of dollar bills out of my pocket and I hand it to her.

"I took this off of the last guy that tried to fight me. It's not much but it should keep you guys well fed for about a week or so." I say to her. I can see her starting to look a bit more depressed as the mood shifts from me saving her to me having to leave her.

"Hey, look at me," I say as I lift her head up off of the ground. "Just because I'm not going to be here anymore doesn't mean that you're going to be in trouble. You have people who look up to you, and if you ever get nervous or scared or you don't know what to do this is all you have to do. You look at them, you smile, and you tell them that everything is going to be okay. You got it?"

She sniffles a bit as she nods her head yes.

"I'm trusting you okay? I promise to tear this world's system down so that you and all of your siblings can grow up in a world without having to be discriminated against because of your genetics." I say to her as I pull her into one final hug.

"How can you trust me so much? How do you know that I won't mess up?" Laura asks me as I pull myself away from her.

I let out a deep sigh as Jo flashes through my mind.

"Because I know that now that I've done it, you have no choice but to not mess up," I say laughing as I pat her on her head as I start to walk into the direction of Vexs Echo. "Laura. I'm leaving the fate of the future in your hands. Don't forget that."

I can hear Laura calling out my name as I start to run in the direction of where Zach and Vex are. I really want to stay back and see what she has to stay, but staying there any longer will not allow me to finish this mission, the real reason why I'm here. It only takes me a couple of minutes to reach the building where Vex and Zach are, and when I enter the building my body is immediately overwhelmed by an enormous amount of Echo energy that can only be the kid. The building is old and to be honest a bit intimidating. A cool breeze blows throughout the room as I hear the sounds of Vexs voice upstairs. I walk up to the elevator and I press the button. When I do nothing happens for a couple of seconds, but once I go to press the button again I hear a loud crashing sound coming from inside the elevator. The ground shakes underneath my feet as I rub the back of my head with my hand.

"Hiroshi! Is that you?!" I hear Vex yell from upstairs. I can hear him run down the stairs of the building as I go to meet him at the staircase. As I swing the door to the staircase open Vex runs into me. I can feel the sweat on his chest as he knocks me onto the ground, he extends his hand to me as he helps me up. "I'm sorry man, but I am so happy to see you right now. We have an issue with the kid going on upstairs."

As he lets go of my hand I immediately notice how nervous he looks. I could feel his hands shaking uncontrollably and even though he's trying his best to look calm his Echo tells a completely different story. The way I can sense it fluctuating with anxiety and fear is something that I cannot ignore. I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to look for a way to survive this encounter. I take a deep breath in and out as Vex and I head up another flight of stairs.

"Hiroshi. I just need to let you know something beforehand. This Zach kid. He's kind of messed up." Vex says to me as he takes a deep sigh. "This kid, I don't know about him, man. I know that Jo wants him bad but what if he doesn't work out? What if it really is the right choice to just leave this kid alone, what if he really is too dangerous to work with?"

I start to laugh a bit after he says that. I put my hand on his shoulder as we walk up to the room that he's in. The door is all beat up and the handle is cold to the touch. This amount of Echo energy this kid is emanating off of his body feels like it's powerful enough to knock someone out. I shake my head a bit as I go to open the door, but before I do so Vex stops me.

"If you open this door and things go crazy, I don't know if we'll be able to stop this kid. I just want you to know that." He says to me.

"I remember when there was a time when people thought the same about me Vex, and would you look at me? I think the decision to trust me is working out just fine." I say as I pat him on the back. "Hey, look. If you're really getting a bad feeling from this kid then you can just hang out here. If something does go wrong, with the abilities I have I'm the most suited to hold him off."

Vex nods his head to me as I open the door. I close the door behind me as I see a little boy rocking back and forth on the ground. He has his chinned buried into his knees as he looks up at me. I can see the look of fear spreading across his eyes as he puts his hands up to me. I can feel my body tense up and my heart rate start to pick up as I brace myself for an attack but nothing happens. I can hear the boy starting to whimper as I get down on one knee to get on his level. He avoids trying to make eye contact with me as he looks at the ground.

"Hey, your name is Zach right?" I ask him softly as I sit down on the ground. He doesn't respond to my question as he moves away from me. "Hey man, I'm not here to hurt you okay? In fact, it's actually the opposite. I'm here to actually get you out of here. To save you. You live in this building all by yourself? Alone from other people?"

He still doesn't respond to me. I don't know if this kid doesn't understand what the hell I'm saying or if he is just bent on not talking to me. Let me think. If I was a scared kid what would make me feel comfortable? I hear his stomach growl next to me in the awkward silence and I chuckle a little as I start to reach for something to eat in my pockets and when I do I hand it to him. It's nothing special, just a honey bun that I snagged from one of those Hybrids pockets earlier. The memory of Asya running up to me and tearing whatever food I brought to her flashes through my mind as Zach takes the honey bun out of my hand. He tears the wrapper off and he starts to quietly eat as lay my head back on his bed.

"You're a Deviant aren't you? I can tell from your different colored eyes." Zach says to me as he continues eating the honey bun. "I've never seen any of you guys before in real life up close like this."

"Yeah. I'm a Deviant in the flesh. Got the birthmark and everything. What were you expecting?" I ask him as I sit up. "What? Some kind of monster?"

He nods his head yes as he throws the wrapper on the ground.

"The way I heard people talk about your kind, they made it seem as if you weren't even human." He says as he looks at me in my eyes. "But to be honest. You look human to me."

"We are Zach. No matter how much those people out there try to tell you how Hybrids and Deviants are different they're wrong. At the end of the day, we're all human. None of us are monsters." I say to him as I give him a warm smile.

"I really wish that were true." He says as he digs his face back into his knee once again. I give him a quizzical look as he raises his head back up to me again. "If anyone in this world is a monster, it's me."

"Zach, you aren't a monster," I say to him. But he shakes his head no as he puts his hands out to me.

"These powers that I have. I've killed so many people. My friends, my family, and innocent people too. Someone like me doesn't deserve to be around people, someone like me doesn't deserve to have these powers, someone like me doesn't even deserve to be alive." Zach says as he starts to tear up. I can hear the sadness in his voice as he speaks to me. I can feel my heart sink into my chest as he continues to cry next to me. "Look, you seem like a nice person, but if you want to live, you need to get as far away from here as you possibly can. I don't know when I'll lose control of my abilities again, and I don't know what will happen to you of you get caught in the wave."

"Zach, you don't need to worry about me okay? I don't want to sound like I'm bragging or anything but I'm pretty confident that even if you do lose control that you'll be able to get rid of me." I say to him as I pat him on the head. "So you can warp reality right? That's a pretty powerful ability Zach, I don't think I've ever heard of anyone having an ability like that before."

"Yeah. The Government seems to think so too. I was approached by a group of important-looking people a couple of years ago and they asked me to join them. I didn't know what they meant when they said that, so when I asked them what they were talking about they pointed a gun to my face and they tried to force me to go with them. When they tried to do that I had gotten scared and the next thing I know they were all gone. When I looked around to see where they went I saw that not only they were gone, but half the city was gone too." He says as he starts to look out of the window. The sun is starting to set as the cold air starts to work its way throughout the room. I can see Zach start to shiver as he rubs his arms. I let out a deep sigh as I take my Phoenix hoodie off and I wrap it around his shoulders. "After that, I haven't been able to control my powers. Whenever I would feel scared, nervous, or angry I would lose control of abilities, I thought I could control it early on but eventually, one by one everyone I was close to would be killed by me because I couldn't control myself and my emotions. So if you know what's good for you, you would leave here now."

"So that's why you secluded yourself all the way out here? You can't lose control of your emotions if you're all alone right?" I ask him. Zach nods his head as I start to chuckle a bit. "Hey, you seem very confident that if you lose control of yourself again that you could kill me. You wanna take a guess on what my abilities are? Even if you guess just one I'll give you some more food to eat."

His stomach starts to growl again after hearing me say that. He nods his head yes as he starts to stare at me intensely. After a couple of seconds, he starts to run off a list of abilities that he can think of.

"Super speed! Super strength! You can control the weather! You can control gravity!" Zach yells as I continue to shake my head no.

"Hey, between you and me, I think the ability to control gravity kind of sucks don't you think?" I whisper to Zach as both of us start laughing. Vex bangs on the door so loud that both of us jump a little bit.

"Okay kid, here," I say as I toss him another honey bun. "I'll give it to you for making Vex upset. "I have the ability to negate and copy any ability that I see."

Zach's eyes widen as he continues to eat the honey bun.

"Woah! Really?! I was always jealous of Deviants, it's awesome that you get to have two powers! Zach says as he starts to laugh. This is the kid that Jo believes will be the key to turning the tide in his fight against The Government. This kid has already been through so much emotional trauma you would think that he would be unfit to be the key to doing anything, but I picked up on something earlier that shows that he may have promise. He's one of the few Hybrids that have seen the true colors of The Government and has lived to tell someone else about it. He may look like one, but this boy isn't a complete coward. His abilities and his heart are both things that once nurtured can result in something special, world-changing. This kid is the future, and I must do everything in my power to protect him. "Your abilities aren't as strong as powerful as mine, but that makes me wish that I had them myself."

I know that comment wasn't meant to be an insult, but it still feels like one. I take a deep breath in and out as I turn my attention to the window. Edens flames have stopped firing off and that makes me a bit concerned. I don't know whether to feel scared for her or for Leo, something inside of me is screaming at me to hurry and get Zach out of here, and my gut feeling is confirmed right as I feel the Echo Of someone approaching the building, and this Echo isn't from Eden. Edens gives off a kind of light and intense feeling, but this, this feels absolutely malevolent and full of bloodlust. Whoever the hell this person has power that rivals both Vex, Eden, and me. I look over to Zach and I can tell just from the look on his face that he can sense this person as well.

If I'm feeling nervous than I know that he's feeling that way too. I can't let him lose control of his abilities right now. I'm nowhere my full strength and if I know I won't be able to make s negation field large enough to protect everyone. I immediately turn to Zach as I put both of my hands on his shoulders.

"Someone's here, aren't they? They're here to try and kill me again!" Zach yells hysterically. Vex busts into the room with sweat pouring down his face.

"Hiroshi, we need to get Zach out of here now! Whoever the hell this person has the same strength as a Government Captain. We have to get him back to Revenant now!" Vex yells as he runs over to us. "Hey look, kid, I hate to tell you this but your life is in danger right now okay? But Hiroshi and I are going to get you out of here safely okay?"

Zach immediately turns to me and I nod my head yes as he wraps his arms around my neck. I pick him up off of the ground. My head starts to throb as I hear the door to the building open up from downstairs. Shit! The elevator is out and as far as I know, there's only one flight of steps leading to the ground floor. I look out of the window and I can see that we're about five to seven stories up in the air. Even if Vex does blow a hole into the wall and we jump down to the ground if we run into a group of Government soldiers and Hybrids with a Captain on our back there's no way we'll be able to fight all of them off at once. The best thing for us to do right now is to just fight whoever this person is two on one. They may be more powerful than Vex and I separately, but together we should be able to hold our own. I can hear their footsteps outside in the hallway as I put Zach into a closet. I give him one last smile as I pat him on the head, I'm trying my best to show him that he has nothing to worry about, but with my hand shaking noticeably I don't know if I convinced him very well.

As I shut the door behind me I walk back next to Vex as he takes his mask off from around his mouth. The gravity in the room starts to increase exponentially as I take a deep breath and out and I allow my Echo to radiate off of my body far enough just so that I won't feel the effects of Vexs' gravity on my body. The person's footsteps stop a couple of paces outside of the front door. Vex and I both get ready to fight as we wait for whoever is on the other side of the door to attack. I start to look around the room for any sign of someone's ability at work. I try to feel out any disturbances in my Echo but I can't sense anything out. Vex turns his head to me and he nods his head as he starts to walk towards the door.

Since we don't know what kind of ability this person has I guess the best course of action is to have Vex immobilize them with his gravity and to figure things out from there. I nod my head to him as he slowly opens the door. But the exact moment that happens my throat feels as if it's just been lit on fire and I fall to my knees as Vex collapses to the ground. I try to call out to him but no sound escapes my mouth. I start to cough out blood as this person kicks Vexs' body up and they throw him over the railing. I can hear his body hit the ground as I extend my hand out.

"What kind of idiot does something like that? Do you just open the door against an opponent you have no information on? If he dies he deserved it." The woman says as she turns her head to me. I'm greeted by the cold smile of the woman who tried to turn me in a month ago. Someone who betrayed me, someone who killed one of my best friends, and someone who I swore that I would kill the next time I saw them. Mariah.