Thanks again to my wonderful beta, the Disputable Writer. I hope you guys remember some of the characters included in this chapter from the old fic. :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Gold-Eye, Ninde, Ella, Drum, RadarVision or the Change. These are the property of Garth Nix and the US Government.
The hum of the cooling fans droned through the large concrete bunker. Avery couldn't stand the sound. She'd been trapped in this warehouse for weeks with nothing to do but fix the generator and play with the rats.
She was currently focusing her energy on a large black rat. It's mind was easy to manipulate as she saw the world through it's yellowed eyes, possessing it's mind to explore the dark and shadowy corners and vents of the building. She knew it inside out by now.
Spotting a smaller brown rat scuttling under a fuse box, she watched as the rat limped towards it, making it thirsty for bloodshed with her talent.
The battle was long and torturous. Avery preferred to push the rats to the edge of death, then let them get a little way away before killing them. However, with the dying squeal of the brown rat ringing in the black rats ears, Avery was bored again. She let the black rat go, bemused and bleeding, to disappear into a vent.
Sighing, she stood up, stretched and looked around.
Victor was still asleep on the makeshift mattress on the other side of the warehouse. She loved to frighten him into a fight. The brute could never catch her.
She looked to her only other source of entertainment – herself, reflected in the cracked and dirty mirror across the hall in the old changing room for the workers. She folded out her wings, at least five foot wide, and stared at them in disgust. They were a dirty orange, leathery and made her look nothing like an angel. They had been surgically meshed to her scapula when she was young. They didn't look natural at all, too far apart to be something drawn with beauty in mind, no matter how much artistic license was employed.
One of the Overlords first experiments, Avery had been trained to fly in battle and command a flight of Wingers. But the Wingers weren't team players, and the yawning gap in communication between the species had put Avery on the Failed Experiment List. She'd been kept useful by passing messages between Overlords, but after everyone came back she'd been an outcast, a freak. She'd wandered, found Victor, and they'd become a duo of petty criminals, robbing stores for food and money.
Then Alex had found them.
It had been downhill since then.
Turning back to her reflection, she grimaced at the sight of her eyes. They were alien. Winger eyes, slits for pupils, an unnatural green-gold. This was what the Overlords had done to her – made her a freak, unable to fit in with humans. Not a human anymore. To Avery, this meant human rules were exempt to her. So it hadn't been a problem, being Alex's assassin.
At first, she'd felt a little guilty. But Alex's talent for manipulating her, and her anger towards the Overlords had transformed her into an immoral monster.
"Victor." she called him, now standing over his frame, slumped on the mattress, snoring loudly. "Victor. Get up, you lazy git." He may have had the strength of a gorilla, but he slept like a sloth. Avery thought it was the steroids he'd been fed. Or the lack of them. "VICTOR!" she yelled, kicking him awake.
"Shiggmf- What?" he looked around, bleary eyed. "Shit, Ave, what the hell do you want?"
"To hear something other than your snoring." she smiled deceivingly, watching him pull himself up. "I'm bored." she beamed now, like a child.
"For gods sake Avery.." he glared at her.
"Go on. Go for it. Just try and hit me." she smiled even wider. "Show me what your ugly chunk of a body can do." he snarled, but wouldn't touch her, and she knew it. The last and first time he'd tried to hit her she'd been in his mind in a second. She'd invaded his memories, twisting them into nightmares. It was how they'd met, actually. Getting him mad was her favourite game. He could never hit her.
"Avery. Get lost." The sound of Alex's voice made her stiffen and automatically walk backwards into the shadows, leaving Victor smirking. "Victor. Get over here." he lurched over to the tall, skeletal figure of Alex, who's intimidating presence was stifling. He looked like he could be pushed over by a strong gust of wind, but his physical appearance gave no suggestion to how powerful his mind was. His influence was infectious, quite literally – the minute Avery had met him she had felt sick, and since then she had not been able to disobey him in anything.
Victor and Alex had a whispered conversation while Avery crouched in the shadows, wings folded behind her. She watched suspiciously, eyes narrowed. Victor had hunched his shoulders and stooped a little in Alex's presence. It was odd, seeing a man so obviously strong cower in the shadow of a smaller and physically weaker man. "Avery." Alex commanded, motioning her over. Avery once again lost control of her limbs and stumbled towards him. She loathed the feeling of his presence controlling her, unable to resist. Her weak mind couldn't resist the lure. It made her feel violated. She could argue what she did was similar – but Avery limited, unable to actually control the limbs of a person, and only able to control one person at a time. But Alex kept her around – His power only planted the impulse in their head, and strong minds could resist it. Avery could change and manipulate the mind fully, while Alex used his supernatural influence to persuade them into doing his will, not matter how much they objected in their mind.
"Fargo says there's someone coming soon, to check out the compound. From the air." he looked to Avery with a sadistic grin. But that was his usual grin. "So I guess you're on patrol duty. Don't send us any suicidal birds this time."
The thrum of the heaters had slowed and the warehouse had gotten noticeably colder as Jackie had led them over to the back storeroom at the south wall of the warehouse. She had a sizeable grin on her face. By this time Kenny had woken up, and was following them, still moaning about his head and the many bruises Jackie had given him as her 'expression of joy' that he was once again, drunk.
"Get out," she snapped at him, ushering Ella, Drum, Ninde and Gold-Eye into the now lit room as the light bulb flickered on without anybody flipping a switch. The door closed behind them. The store room was long with a high ceiling, shelves lining the walls. Most of them were empty – though the collected artefacts from the Change that the gang had collected over the years was a rather sizeable amount. Ella stared out into the darkness that seemed to extend forever. "Now here, we have the best thing since sliced bread," said Jackie, ignored the snickers from Ella and Drum, "We've managed to salvage a device that Shade built..." She held up a helmet to Drum, who inspected it closely. Ella was about the flick the top when Jackie slapped her hand away.
"It's like those helmets I saw in my visions..." Ella murmured as Jackie tossed the helmet back and forth in her hands.
"It's a Disruptor – it can suppress your powers, though there were a couple of kinks with the vibration and the batteries.. - at the moment, I can power it, so we can use it if we need to." She turned to set the helmet back on the shelf. "This is actually what I was looking for." She held out an ugly, oversized pair of glasses with a grin. "Actual infrared glasses. You'll look like an escapee from the optician's, but they work." She passed them to Drum, stretching the strap over his head as he pulled them down over his eyes. Drum stared around, seeing the bright light from Jun's cigarette sputter and go out as Saskia's foot stomped on it outside, as well as the forms of Mara, Frank and Kenny in the warehouse.
"I can see everyone."
"Its RadarVision – we found it in one of the old military buildings just before the Change was turned back. The battery only lasts around 90 minutes, so we'll need to be careful about when you input the battery pack. Unfortunately, we're completely screwed if the warehouse is made of metal. Anyone who goes into a metal room can't be seen. But we're all set, we just need to know how many are in there. I don't know how close you'll have to get to see, but hopefully not too close." She reached out for the goggles as Drum tugged them off his head. He was grinning, as was Ella.
"Jacks, can I talk to you for a minute?" Ninde asked, ushering Ella and Drum out the room. They sighed, rolling their eyes and going to meet Kenny and the gang. Ninde shut the door behind them, folding her arms. "I don't think I'm comfortable with this. Drum's just a kid, what if he gets attacked-"
"Ninde, you were just kids when we were wandering around for Shade," Jackie pointed out, "You got attacked plenty of times. You dealt with it. They need to learn."
"Jackie, it's not the Change now. Everything's normal, and they're my kids. Mine, and I don't want them doing something this dangerous!" Ninde threw up her arms, exasperated with Jackie's paranoia.
"What if it is the Change? What if the Overlords are still here, trying to get a grasp back on all of us? Anyway, even if life is normal they need to learn to defend themselves. It may not be the Change but it's still dangerous." Jackie argued, tucking the helmet under her arm.
"I'm not comfortable with this, either," Gold-Eye interrupted, putting an arm around Ninde. "Ninde's right. They could get hurt."
"You've been stopping them from knowing about this for years, and look what it's done to them. They've felt like freaks for years because you didn't tell them the truth. We need to know." Jackie narrowed her eyes, stubborn streak showing through.
"I don't know Jackie, I don't like it. Let me sleep on it."
That night, back at home, Drum stared out from his covers to the floor, watching the way the shadows moved in the light as the storm whipped the tree branch outside against the window pane, making the shadow of the branch move across the rug and back towards him. The clarity of the night and the lack of sleep was making him reconsider his snap decision to help out a group of strangers that he'd met just yesterday with something he had no idea about. He was risking it, he knew – using his power in public like that. He'd hardly ever used it himself. His parents always loved to recall the story about when he was five and he'd suddenly started levitating in the middle of the kitchen. It masked the times when Ella's power showed the ugly side of Talents: the unexplainable nightmares and the strange dreams she'd told him about when she was young. Now they knew it was reality. It was mind-blowing, to think that their parents had been through something like that. If it was anyone else, Drum wouldn't have believed them.
But the pieces fit.
He turned on to his side again, glancing over to Ella's side of the room. She still had nightmares occasionally, but she was quiet tonight.
"Can't sleep?" her voice was a whisper from under her duvet. Drum sat up.
"No. I don't know what to do."
"Drum, they need us. This is what we've got these powers for – to help. I know its scary – I mean, these complete strangers know every vision I've ever had. Mum and Dad were there. It happened to them." She pulled the covers off her bed and moved to sit on the rug, reaching for the small mushroom night
light that she had under her bed. The white light from it lit up her face in the darkness and scattered the shadows. "I just keep thinking about all the visions I've had – they were real. The horrible things that have happened to them, that they never told us about." Drum moved to sit opposite her and they both sat in tense silence as they heard their dad snoring from the next room. "I can see why they never told us," she murmured, making circles on the rug, "And they why never showed us those tapes they have in that box in the attic – obviously there must be something about the Change on them. Drum, if we can help stop this – you know, they're worried that it's going to come back, all those horrible things," she shuddered, and Drum looked to the dark space under the dresser where he knew the small crayon drawing of a Myrmidon lurked. "Then I want to help. I don't want it all to come back. You've read the journal, you know what I saw." The dark circles under her eyes were evidence of that. He still remembered the time when she was eight and she had stopped sleeping in an effort to stop the visions. It hadn't worked, of course. "Mum and Dad trust them."
"But Ella," Drum cut in, touched by his sisters unwavering faith in their parents, no matter what she had said earlier, "They lied to us, and they hid it from us."
"I don't care!" she said, and Drum saw the telltale flash of tears in his sisters eyes. "I don't want it back, you haven't Seen, you don't know!"
Downstairs, the remaining two of the family were also awake, having been jolted awake by Ella's outburst. They instinctively moved together, a reflex trained from direct experience of the Change. Ninde sat up, worrying.
"I don't think we should let him do this."
"I know you don't. But I think we should let him make his own choice," Gold-Eye murmured, wary of incurring Ninde's wrath. She didn't flare up as often as she used to, having mellowed during motherhood, but occasionally there was a flash of her old temper.
"But it's dangerous! You want to send our child into a potential nest of god knows what, military forces and Overlords and everything!" She was more worried than angry.
"Nin, we need to know, and Drum can do it. He's a careful boy, he won't get hurt," Gold-Eye tried to reassure.
"You can't know that!" Ninde flared, sounding panicked, "What if something happens to him? I'll never forgive them – I'll never forgive me."
"Ninde, I know, I'm worried too, but we've told them now, and they're old enough to be independent of us. It's his decision, whatever he decides. If there is something out there, we need to know, and Drum might be our only chance."
"Ok." Downstairs and upstairs, both Ninde and Drum echoed the same words. "But I'm not happy about this."