A RESONANCE SAGA ORIGIN STORY
Brett P. S.
Copyright © 2015 Brett P. S.
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
CHAPTER 2 – CHEZ RAMEN
CHAPTER 3 – SO WIZARD
CHAPTER 4 – SNEAKY SABOTAGE
CHAPTER 5 – SOMEONE SPECIAL
Oscar grabbed his watch from his pocket and held it up close so his eyes could focus on how much time he’d wasted so far. The hours ate away at him and his colleagues like a slow poison threatening to swell his throat from the anticipation. He glanced back at the entrance, but nothing still. A set of dimly lit steps trailed downward from the ground level of the Grand Odense Hotel, primarily a business, but also a front for Oscar’s operations in Denmark. A bead of sweat rolled from his forehead. Mr. Adamson should have arrived thirty minutes ago. Had something come up? Was he found out?
“I’m not waiting any longer,” one of his colleagues said. “This meeting is a farce as far as I’m concerned.”
“He will come,” Oscar said. “I urge you to wait just a little bit longer, s’il vous plait?”
Oscar and four other men, dressed in black and burgundy business suits, sat together around a dark stained oak table while each of them eyed the entrance, waiting for the legend of Savage Steel himself to appear. Oscar and his colleagues worked for the EEA, the European Environmental Agency, and they each dipped their hands into a veritable honey pot in regards to manipulation of reports in exchange for rich profits.
Oscar was the face. He sought out potential business inquiries and arranged gatherings for them, a position of discretion and unfortunate risk. The years have not been good to his health or his heart, but he couldn’t complain. Working for and around the EEA allotted him a wealth of benefits for his wife and his three sons, none of whom knew of his dark dealings. This was a world of risk, and those who refused to step up did the opposite.
“There he is!” Oscar shouted.
A shadow crept down the steps, followed by a door shutting closed from the ground level above them. A lone figure clad in a gunmetal suit and tie strode forward and tipped his hat. He was a young man with short black hair, though still more than Oscar kept planted on his own skull. Their visitor smiled and placed his hat on the table, though Oscar’s expression transformed from uplifted to sullen once he realized.
“What is the meaning of this!” a colleague shouted. “You are not Mr. Adamson!”
“Mr. Adamson doesn’t like to deal with slugs, so he sent me instead,” the young man stated. “You may call me Arc.”
“That some kind of code name?” Oscar asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “Fumez?”
He reached inside his coat to whip out a pack of cigarettes, but before he drew his hand from the vest, some kind of crash from upstairs shook the establishment, and a series of exclamations echoed from the voices of residents. He thought this room was sound proof. It gave him pause. He needed to speak with the contractor later.
Oscar took a step back from the rumbling as it sped toward the corner furthest from the steps and fell flat on his back as a rocketing strike caused the ceiling to collapse in that area. A powerful explosion caused thick chunks of concrete to slam down and in the wake of a pile of smoke and fibers stood a masked figure. She looked like something out of those old comic books his youngest used to read, a body wrapped in white and turquoise as if it were spandex. However, the material appeared less like fabric and more like plastic. He remembered the color of turquoise especially, because he’d given his wife a stone of the like for their last anniversary.
“A friend of yours?” Oscar asked the young man.
“No friend of mine,” he replied.
“In the name of a pure water and rich soil!” the woman said. “I refuse to allow you cretins to line your pockets any longer!”
“She knows?” Oscar said.
“That remains to be seen,” Arc said.
Oscar’s colleagues scuttled past him as quickly as out of shape stubby legs could move them. They managed. Oscar, on the other hand, maintained his body as efficiently as a traveling man would, though he decided to remain. Something inside of him urged him to stay. He wasn’t sure quite what. It was as though the situation called for a measure of backbone.
“What’s your name, girl?” Arc asked.
The masked heroine grinned and struck a pose, as if she were standing in front of a mirror.
“Plastique,” she said. “Protector of the environment. I come to collect when others overcharge.”
“A simple name would have sufficed,” Arc said, shaking his head. “You look like a garbage bag wrapped in cellophane.”
“Hey, I worked hard on this costume, butt head!” Plastique said, shaking her fist.
“In case you haven’t realized, Madame,” Arc replied, “Your targets have escaped.”
Oscar peered around the room, and Arc had in fact been right. By this time, the four of them were at least half a kilometer away, passengers in their respective transports. The shouting above ground stopped moments ago, and police would be on their way soon enough, though Oscar doubted a sincere resolution would happen tonight.
“Listen to me closely,” Arc said to Oscar. “Leave this to me.”
“But the police?”
“I’ll be fine,” he said. “Our liaison will set up another arrangement.”
“I … I understand,” Oscar said.
No sooner than he said so, however, a rocketing punch came out of the murky depths of the room and smashed into Arc’s face, causing the young man to fly through the air until he smashed into the wall by the steps. He propped himself up with great difficulty and grabbed a sidearm from a holster underneath his vest. Oscar didn’t know much about guns, but he knew enough to understand a weapon like that killed most things in one or two shots.
Arc fired off three ear-piercing rounds, and Plastique’s suit warped around her with reflex-level speed. The bullets careened off the layers and planted themselves into the wall behind. She smiled devilishly and at this point, Oscar had seen enough. He hobbled up the steps and out the door, thumbing through his pockets for his phone.
Sofie Rousseau. Age 21. Red haired masked mademoiselle by night. Punk rock dreamer by day. Also, she sleeps in … a lot. Sofie stretched her hand out to reach a blaring alarm screaming at her to get the heck up, but she couldn’t manage the fine motor skills. Unwilling to handle the shame of defeat, she eyed the plastic button on the top of the clock and pushed it down with her mind.
She rolled around in her mattress, trying to find a more comfortable position. Beds were for homeowners. Just slap a mattress on the floor, and it was good to go. Her efforts to relax ended in vain, however. The smell of half-eaten noodles stunk up her apartment, and the litter cluttered up the place.
“Dammit all!” Sofie shouted.
She sat up and wiped out her eyes, smearing the elaborate face paint from her around her lashes when she realized she slept through the night in her costume. By the time she disembarked from the train ride over, she was already in a daze, but this was ridiculous. She stood up, shambled over to her kitchen area while she moved a cup with her mind, and filled it with a dash of sweetened tea from her icebox. She prepared a nice big jug of it, and the process helped her master the fine motor skills necessary for plastic manipulation.
For the last year and a half, Sofie found she could both feel and manipulate plastics of varying kinds. It started with water bottles and dishes. Over time, she moved onto intricate objects, such as action figures and eating ware. However, her chief sensing ability came to her about six months ago. It kept her apartment afloat, even though she lacked the interpersonal skills to manage a job for more than a few months. Sofie moved to Denmark from France a few years back. She told her parents she planned to attend a college in Kolding, which wasn’t a lie. However, she hadn’t told them about how she dropped out last semester.
“Pizza or Chinese?” she said to herself.
Sofie navigated a cup of tea into her hand and paced over to her notebook, a black three-ring binder filled with loose-leaf paper. She brought it to her and opened up a series of numbers. Everyone in Kolding had a number. At least, most people with a checking account did. Granted, most people across the world had one, but her sensing ability reached about as far as ten miles. Any further and she might get some numbers wrong.
Sofie could feel the grooves and ridges of plastic shapes in the city. She wasn’t omniscient, but if she focused on a particular area or credit card number, she located targets quickly and efficiently. There were enough numbers in Kolding that she could use every one once and never have to pay rent for the rest of her life. She flipped through a series of pages with numbers crossed out until she came to a spot in the center of the binding. She moved a pen and struck out a credit card number before slipping the cap back on.
“I’m thinking poulet,” she said. “Yeah, chicken sounds excellent.”
She set the notebook down and hopped over her couch before she planted her bottom on her mattress and turned on the television. An old black and white tele she picked up from a rummage sale. It worked, more or less. She fiddled with her hair to pull in back before she leaned forward and switched it to the local news. The anticipation boiled in her blood at what last night’s report might cover. The screen flickered on and noise turned to images of a reporter speaking about the situation.
“… are calling it an indiscriminate attack on Denmark,” the reporter said. “The perpetrators remain unknown, but the Oden police force …”
“I don’t get it,” Sofie said.
She put in all the extra effort and flair, but not a single person remembered enough to say something? Outrageous! Preposterous! She practically had a field day with the furniture in the hotel and not a single soul even bothered to list eco-warrior as an assailant? Heck, she’d take terrorist at this point or … hang on a moment.
“Mon Dieu! It’s a cover up,” she said, slamming her fist into the mattress.
Sofie sipped a bit more of her tea and rolled the remaining liquid around while she pondered her next move. She about had it with those EEA goons, though she was certain they intended to meet again. Second time around, she planned on striking absolute fear into their hearts. Who would question a supervillain? Nobody, that’s who. She set the glass down and turned off the tele.
“Guess I’m ordering carryout,” she said.
She nodded to herself. It was time to pay the wizard a visit.
Sofie knocked at the door to a marvelously ornate household in northern Kolding. It took her twenty-five minutes to jog here from her apartment, though admittedly, she placed plastic soles in her shoes to make the trip. Sofie found she could move the plastic to enhance her own physical abilities, if she timed her body with the motions. She could have sped over at nearly sixty kilometers per hour, though it would attract undue attention and she planned to keep her powers a secret until the situation called for it. She read enough comics to know going public with super powers was complicated.
The door opened, revealing an older woman with partially greyed hair. She dressed formally, almost old fashioned, wearing a blue and white sundress with frills around the neck and apron. It was a stark comparison to what Sofie wore, a faded pink t-shirt and a pair of old jeans, but at least she picked the good pair! This one didn’t have holes in the knees.
“I am here to speak with the wizard,” Sofie said, taking a bow.
Ms. Duval smiled.
“Felix is downstairs,” she said. “Make yourself at home.”
Sofie took another bow and headed past Ms. Duval. She eyed the basement entrance to the left of the kitchen. Felix Duval lumbered down the steps behind the closed door his basement. Granted, it was ‘his’ in the sense that his mother had given it to him, rather she allowed him to live there until he moved out. She grabbed hold of the door and cracked it open. Yep, it was a man cave down there. Sofie waved goodbye to Ms. Duval before heading down and closing the door behind her.
She hopped down the shoddy wooden staircase and into a sea of LED’s and computer monitors that lit the basement. Felix had thrown up pieces of plywood to block sunlight from the few windows in his lair. Instead, he relied on the glow of his digital apparatuses to sustain his vision.
“Greetings, oh great Wizard,” Sofie said.
Felix hardly hesitated.
“I trust you brought an offering for my services?”
“Delicacies from foreign lands, my lord,” she said.
Sofie slapped a bag of Chinese takeout on his desk, sweet and sour chicken with rice. Felix eyed it hungrily, and his mouth practically watered as he opened the bag and grabbed the takeout box with the chicken and a plastic fork. He spent the next minute or so engorging himself as he smeared sauce all over his mouth.
Felix held tremendous talent in regards to his various hobbies, most of which involved hacking and soliciting information on the internet. Sofie didn’t know much about computers, but she knew enough to realize Felix was a force to be reckoned with. If it was out there, he knew of it, or at least knew someone else who did.
Despite his uncanny skills, however, Felix had some … quirks. The young man, about 25 years old, still lived with his divorced mother, and Sofie didn’t see him moving out any time soon. While he reveled in his persona, Felix lacked … social connections. He had no friends to speak of. Felix just wasn’t good with real people.
“This meal is excellent,” Felix said as he gobbled another piece of chicken. “How may I be of service?”
Sofie pulled a piece of paper from her pocket and set it on his desk, lined paper from her notebook with a string of digits written on it. She drew back and crossed her arms.
“I need to know who this man is. Can you find anything based on his credit card information?”
“Oh, lass,” he said with a smirk. “You forget with whom you are speaking.”
Felix viciously tapped away at his three keyboards and fiddled with his mouse as he brought up applications she hardly made sense of. Whatever he was doing, she had faith in his ability to avoid unwarranted attention. The last thing she needed was a police force storming down into Ms. Duval’s basement. The wizard knew better, though.
“This your man?” he said. After ten minutes of work, he twisted over a monitor. “It’s a company card. Franklin Beaudry. Works for Savage Steel.”
“Merci, Felix! That’s him!”
“So, Plastique is finally fighting the big guns,” he said. “How does Savage Steel play into your scenario?”
“He set up a meeting with some Corrupt EEA officials,” she said. “He was some kind of fighter. I barely got away.”
“Was he special?” Felix asked. He paused. “Like you?”
Sofie sighed and leaned back against the concrete wall. She didn’t like cramped spaces, but the house occupied only so much square footage.
“I’m not sure,” she said. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Bring them to justice,” Felix said. “Show the world who they really are. The problem will fix itself.”
“I kind of tried something last night, only I haven’t heard a peep from the news.”
“Wait a second,” Felix said. “You were behind Odense?”
“Yes. Last night, I barged in on one of their meetings.”
“Surprising,” he said. “I didn’t hear anything. Let me check the forums.”
Felix browsed a handful of ‘secure’ websites, the kind of forums focused on conspiracy theories and alien abductions. As a rule of thumb, the more effort a company like Savage Steel put into covering up an incident, the crazier a website had to be to speak of it. Felix sped read through fifteen separate forums before he threw up his hands in frustration and leaned back in silent shame.
“It’s not there,” he said. “It’s as if people never saw it in the first place.”
“I was there, Felix. I know it happened.”
Felix pondered to himself for a moment. He was a thinking man, and she grew wary when his normally serious contemplation turned up a grin.
“You’re sure he’s going to try it again?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” she said. “I don’t know where though.”
“Copenhagen,” he said. Sofie paused. Where did that come from? “Your friend purchased a train ticket to Copenhagen dated two days from now.”
“Felix, you’re awesome!” Sofie shouted.
They bumped fists, and she hurried up the stairs. Plastique was about to make a reappearance.
Sofie leapt across rooftops in Copenhagen using the power of plastic and some fancy footwork. Night blanketed her movements and rendered her nearly invisible, despite her elaborate costume. Regardless of what he said, she constructed her costume well, hand sewed it from 300 francs worth of material. Good thick plastic was hard to obtain in Denmark. She landed atop the roof of a half-finished building under construction and rolled her eyes. They were some kind of fools to meet under the future headquarters of the EEA itself. These fat cats knew no prudence.
Sofie tracked the lot of them here from their credit card numbers. The embossed ridges granted a shape she could sense and because of her range, she knew where each of them was the moment she stepped off the train in Copenhagen Central Station. Franklin Beaudry wasn’t with them yet, but he was on his way. She was ahead of schedule anyway.
“I’ve got my eyes on you,” she whispered.
“Apparently not,” someone said. A gun clicked.
Sofie froze, staring ahead as the man held a gun behind her. She pieced together a few thoughts and searched for each credit card number. She accounted for each of them, though could it be she got the wrong numbers? No, her memory was dead on target. No chance she could misplace a handful of credit cards.
“I lent mine to an acquaintance in Copenhagen,” he said. “That’s what you see right now, isn’t it? My credit card?”
“I … don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I should kill you,” he started, “but I’m fascinated by your resonance. Name’s Arc by the way, and the people I work for might value your skills highly, even if they are a bit unpolished.”
Resonance? Was that the term these people had for powers? If it was the case, though, it meant he might be like her, in a manner of speaking. Nobody could be quite as amazing and few dared to try. Dared she test his abilities? Oh, hell yes.
“That’s not all I can do,” she said.
“I noticed,” the man replied. “I’m guessing your resonance is tied to plastic. You can move your suit to enhance your speed and strength. You can even shape it so bullets glide off the surface, a reflex ability from the look of it. I’m impressed so far, though your garments continue to remind me of crudely sewn garbage bags.”
“Hey, this is high quality,” she said.
“I’ll bet,” he said. She detected sarcasm. “Listen, I don’t have a quarrel with you, Plastique, so long as you leave me to my duties below ground. I need to finish what I started.”
“I can’t do that,” she said. “I’m in this for mother earth.”
“A pity,” he said. He took a step forward. “Any last words?”
Sofie cautiously considered her options. It was a cold night, a terrible time to die. She eyed the gutter four stories below and the thought that she might be lying in one of those sent surges of newfound resolve through her spine. It was about time she discovered some backbone.
Across the street, an old sports shop stood, closed, though with ingredients intact. She pulled out the pieces from display and anything else she could tie her senses to. The surprise attack required both silence and swiftness, something uncharacteristic of plastic baseball bats. However, upon gathering up a maelstrom of plastic accessories, her consciousness dug into a vat of something divine.
“What now?” Arc said.
Before he could react, a hailstorm of plastic balls smashed against him and knocked him away. Arc fired two stray shots before the wave of tabletop gaming accessories sent him falling off the ledge and into the mass of construction materials below. He might be lucky if a stray bar didn’t impale him on the way down. The urge to peer over the edge tempted her, but in the end, she decided against it. Better to internalize the thought that he might have fainted than to realize potential blood on her hands.
Even if it belonged to Savage Steel, she shook her head and proceeded down to the ground floor. She hopped into an open shaft and leaped through the construction work until she landed feet first on ground level, an awkwardly designed room lit by starlight.
The five businessmen gathered below and assuming Arc hadn’t tricked her further by planting their credit cards in a hidden chamber, then she was about to exact her plan to the letter. Sofie hustled about before she located to the hidden latch to the underground. Arc or someone else placed a dust-filled rug over the hatch, but nobody locked it. These fellows planned to leave quickly.
Sofie took a deep breath, lifted open the trap door, and climbed down … discreetly this time.
Sofie Rousseau, fiery avenger of mother earth, stepped down into a dank, dark meeting room. The scent reminded her of Felix’s basement, though the atmosphere appeared less than hospitable. Five fat cats stood at the other end. She was surprised he managed to gather each one for this meeting, but Savage Steel did carry some influence. Meeker men than them would risk their lives for a chance at a fresh paycheck from Mr. Adamson himself. She needed to act quickly, before they realized who she was.
“Mr. Arc?” one of them asked, stepping forward.
By the time he met her gaze, it was too late. She smiled and knocked him once in the stomach. The force brought him to his knees, and the EEA officials behind him clustered together. They knew as well as she did that only one way out existed, and it was past her.
“Sorry to say, but you cretins overdrew your account,” she said. “Let’s make this simple. You’ll make a phone call to the top brass of the EEA, and I’ll listen. After you’ve admitted the entirety of your wrongdoing, you may go.”
She glanced around the room and took in a snapshot of her surroundings. The chamber appeared to be a repurposed basement. No real furniture besides the large table in the far corner. Sofie took in the depth of her surroundings and safely assumed this arrangement was rushed and temporary. It made sense. The less people who moved in sofas and chairs lined with expensive upholstery, the better. The basement below the Grand Odense Hotel had years of investment behind it as a means of private business.
“How about you,” she said, pointing to one of them.
She watched as trembling fingers ruffled through pants pockets and pulled out a pocket mobile phone. The craze going around was smart phones, though only a handful of people owned those. Mostly Savage Steel employees. Experimental technology sounded awesome, but she didn’t buy into it and neither did these men. He held up a plain mobile phone and dialed the numbers.
“Wrong number,” she said. “Try again.”
She could tell which buttons he pressed. She shot him an angry glare, and he seemed to get the message. He started over from scratch and redialed, this time entering the number for the official EEA help desk. They recorded their calls for convenience purposes, so it didn’t matter with whom he spoke, so long as he spoke.
“Start talking,” she said.
She watched as the man held the phone next to his face and opened his mouth. A connection established, he started to say a word, but the air fell short of his lips. He snapped his phone shut and looked toward her with an expression of confidence she found disheartening. What was he thinking? Something seemed odd about his glare, though. It totally lacked the kind of fear she inspired moments ago.
Sofie turned around faster than her thoughts could keep up and threw a punch capable of shattering stone to thin air. She glanced over to her left to the sight of Arc running off the wall in an inhuman fashion. He fired two shots directly at her face, and her suit reacted instinctually to deflect them as rubber kept back lightning. Two missile objects slammed into the wall behind her and shattered from the concussive force. Arc stood his ground and dropped his gun, but not before reaching for another inside his vest.
“You’re something else, you know?” he said. “Why don’t you come work for Savage Steel? We could use someone of your talents.”
“As if I’d ever!” she said. “You people make me sick.”
“Right, your theme,” Arc said. He brushed back his hair and glanced over to the group huddled in the corner. “Rest assured Mr. Adamson cares deeply about the future of the EEA. It was why he sent me to handle this.”
“You have to handle me first!” she said, lunging forward.
Arc gave her a look that said to her, oh yeah I planned on it. She slammed a fist into his face, but he dodged in an odd fashion, somersaulting back in an act as effortless as jumping up and down. Not fast enough? Fine. She kicked up her heels and increased the speed. Sofie threw a left jab and a right hook, the second catching his jacket and it would have sent him flying, but he twisted out of her motion and fired once at her suit. Point blank. She never tested the extrusion that close before.
Instinctually, her suit warped to catch the projectile, though not fast enough to deflect it. Instead of diverting, the bullet tore a gaping hole through her suit and exited, scraping a piece of flesh on its way out. Sofie jumped back and clutched her side. The pain hadn’t hit her yet, but the blood seeped against the insides of her suit and she saw it, looking down. He must have seen it as well.
“Butt head!” she shouted. “You trying to kill me?”
“Interesting,” he said. “There are limits to the reaction time of your resonance. Let’s try this then.”
Arc reached inside of his vest on the left side and pulled out another sidearm. How many did this jerk have? Where was he storing them and why was it she couldn’t tell by looking at him? Arc held up both weapons not at her, but instead outstretched from his sides. He was crazy, not aiming at anything or anyone in particular. Arc fired one round from each simultaneously. The gunshots rang close enough to erupt as one continuous sound. Sofie’s suit reacted automatically to protect her from harm. However, the motions jerked from in front and behind and nearly tore her suit in the process. It was as if one cruised toward her front while the other circled around back to strike at once. Seconds later, she realized she was in shock. Sofie reached down and pressed her hand against a bullet wound torn through her side by twin shells. She fell to her knees and clutched the gaping hole, desperately clamping down on the mess.
“That won’t kill you,” Arc said. “It will immobilize you, however.”
He casually strode over to her. She got a good look at him, cold and calculating, the perfect servant of an organization such as Savage Steel. Arc held both guns a few centimeters from her forehead and, when she lurched back, the weapons retained their proximity.
“How did you do that?” she asked.
“I’m a resonance user, like you,” he said. “My powers are my business and the business of my employer. Are you interested in working for Savage Steel?”
“I’m not exactly up for an interview right now.”
“Suit yourself,” he said.
Arc squeezed down on the trigger. Sofie thought to close her eyes, but with the barrels pointed at her skull, it didn’t make much of a difference. Fire bellowed from his weapons, but to her surprise, she didn’t feel a thing. The fire scorched around her, as if guided by kinetic energy. Arc fired exactly five rounds, two from one and three from the other, none appeared to end her life. She was alive, wasn’t she? Once the smoke dissipated and she came to her senses, Sofie stared up at the murderous marauder, inquiring as to what exactly happened. She looked as deeply as she could into his cold expression, but found nothing.
“I should kill you,” he said, “But something tells me your path is important in the future. I should not squander something of value unnecessarily.”
Arc turned around and proceeded toward the steps. He shoved his guns underneath his vest after they stopped smoking, and they magically latched into place. It was like magic to her, at least.
“You’re just going to up and leave?” Sofie shouted.
“I already completed my task,” he said.
Sofie could only watch him leave as she struggled to keep the bleeding down. As long as she managed to walk down the street, she’d run into a ride or someone who might find a doctor. Even still, people might have heard the gunshots, so the police would locate her eventually. It struck her as odd though. He completed his task? What did he mean?
“Oh, Mon Dieu …”
Sofie met the icy blank stares of corpses. He shot every one of them between the eyes. Somehow, he made the bullets warp around her to the centimeter, turn on a ninety-degree angle, and plant themselves into the skulls of each of the men. He was a resonance user, someone insanely powerful … someone special, like her.