Wow. Been a while, huh? Sorry bout that. Well, here is the next chapter! yay! Hope some of you are still out there and interested in reading this. You may have to reread to remember what was going on... I had to do a little of that myself. :) hope this is the chapter a lot of you were waiting for. I didn't really edit this chapter very much, so excuse the rough bits. I wanted to get it out today, no exceptions, so I only went over it once. Happy Fourth of July!
Disclaimer: no money, no ownership
Jason clapped his hands together and rubbed them in anticipated excitement. "Alright, time to salvage what is left of our long weekend without parental supervision!" he declared.
Charlie turned away from the front door to look at his brother. Jason had no idea what was going on, so he couldn't have any idea how strenuous the whole situation was for everyone else. Charlie felt bad about the deception, but was also glad his brother was in the dark. It meant Jason didn't have to worry about things like the Omega Defiance possibly knowing where he lived and wanting to come get their revenge.
He knew though that if it did happen, if they were approaching a worst-case scenario, it would be almost impossible to keep his secret from Jason any longer. He didn't want to do that. He wanted Jason to be able to do all the normal things he couldn't do. Worry about normal problems, like school, acne, or girls. He'd protect that life for his brother with everything he had. He just hoped it was enough.
Figuring it would help ease his worry and allow him to keep his promise of a fun-filled weekend to his brother, he smiled and raised a curious eyebrow. "Alright, Jay. What did you have in mind?"
Jason bit his lip in thought, then seemed to grow uncommonly hesitant. "Well, you said you'd help me rebuild my shelf. Emma and I already bought the new parts, so maybe we could-."
"We can do that," Charlie said with a small smile. "Sounds like fun." Jason grinned happily and Charlie actually felt touched that his brother wanted his help with a project that had been between their dad and Jason.
"Great! Ill get the—grwwlllrrrr."
Charlie grinned as Jason's stomach gave a loud protest. "Maybe we should eat first," he suggested.
Jason clutched his stomach and looked toward the kitchen, suddenly seeming even more excited. "I'll go see what we have to make," he said and took off toward the kitchen.
"I'm going to call Mom while you do that," Charlie shouted after him. It'd been a while since they'd heard from her and he needed to hear her voice. Though he'd never admit it, he still found his mother's voice calming, plus he wanted to make sure she was all right. She was across the country, so he wasn't worried, but he still wanted to make sure.
Jason shouted back from the kitchen, his mouth sounding like it was full of something. "Ok. Tell her her favorite son says he loves her and to feel free to take her time!"
Charlie scoffed as he picked up the phone. "You are not her favorite! And you're supposed to be finding something to cook, not eating!"
His brother's response was garbled by whatever Jason had put in his mouth, so he couldn't make out what was probably some from of protest. Rolling his eyes, he dialed his mom's cell phone and listened as it rang.
"Mom!" Charlie said happily, relieved to hear she was obviously fine.
"What's wrong, Charlie? Is everything alright?" She sounded worried. Leave it to his mother to pick up on how he was feeling immediately. He took a moment to settle down so he could be convincing when he lied.
"Everything is fine, mom." He said with as much assurance as he could muster. He really wanted to just tell her everything so she could be the one comforting him, but that wasn't possible.
"Are you sure? Is Jason okay?"
Charlie smiled to himself. "Yes, mom, he's fine. Still as annoying as ever, but don't worry, I haven't killed him yet."
His mother chuckled through the phone. "Good. Please try to keep it that way until I come home, hmm?"
"I'll try," he said with a smile. His mother laughed this time.
There were a few silent moments and then his mother spoke again, softly. "You sound a little funny, Charlie. Are you sure everything is all right?"
Smiling sadly, Charlie lied. "I promise everything is fine, mom. I think I'm coming down with a cold or something though." He coughed and then sniffled a little, selling the lie.
"Aww, I'm sorry sweetie. You need me to come home?"
"No!" he said a little too loudly. "No," he repeated more calmly, "I'm fine. Stan already went out and got me some medicine. I'm actually feeling a lot better."
"Good. Tell Stan I said thank you, that was sweet."
"Yeah… I will." Stan had helped him out medically, treating his wounds. So, it wasn't a complete lie.
He heard someone near his mother say something, and his mother mumble something back. "Ok, Charlie. I have to go, but I'll call you tomorrow, ok?"
Charlie frowned; a little disappointed she couldn't talk to him for a little longer. "Ok, mom," he said, trying not to sound as upset as he was.
"Goodnight, Charlie. Don't you and your brother stay up too late playing videogames. And give him a hug and a kiss from me."
"Yeah, can't promise I'll do those last two, mom."
She chuckled. "I hope you feel better, sweetie."
"Thanks, mom," he said smiling. He hoped he did, too.
"I love you, Charlie."
Charlie gripped the phone for a moment, feeling his eyes burn and wishing his mom were home. "Love you too, mom."
After exchanging their last goodnights, he hung up and took a deep breath. Once he felt like he was back to normal, he headed to the kitchen.
"What'd mom say?" Jason asked absently as he rustled through some cabinets.
Charlie shrugged, sitting down on a stool to watch as his brother made a mess. "That I'm still her favorite, but she loves you, too."
"Ha!" Jason said disbelievingly. "Just keep telling yourself that, man."
Ignoring his brother, he Looked down the hall toward the door. He realized he was waiting for Emma and Stan. He would have expected them back by now since they both knew what a dangerous and precarious situation they were all in. So why were they taking so long?
Charlie reached behind him, feeling for the comforting presence of his back-up blaster. He wished he was wearing his gauntlet, but didn't know how to explain to Jason that his "toy" gauntlet made him feel safer.
"So what do you want?"
"Um… whatever is fine," Charlie answered absently as he wondered what was happening across the street and listened for the sound of the front door.
So engrossed in his musings, Charlie failed to see the delighted grin that spread across his brother's face.
"Awesome! I have this new secret recipe I've wanted to try! I'll make that!" Jason said excitedly.
"Yeah, sure," Charlie muttered, wishing he could go across the street himself, but unwilling to leave Jason alone and vulnerable. If only he could see through walls.
A thought struck him. He could see through the walls. Emma had been working on improving a pair of heat sensor goggles. He vaguely recalled her telling him about the project, though once she'd started getting into the technical jargon he'd spaced out. And all of Emma's weapons and gadgets had been stashed in his room since the fire at her house. Eager to figure out what was going on, Charlie turned and made his way toward the stairs.
"I'll be back down in a sec!" he yelled to Jason, who was gathering ingredients.
As he hurried up the steps he decided he'd look for a new blaster, too. Though he appreciated the one at his back, he knew that Emma probably had a lot more powerful weapons in her collection and he'd feel more comfortable with a little heavier firepower. Besides, he was hoping to find something a little less pink.
Coming into his bedroom, Charlie put his hands on his hips, giving the room a cursory once-over. He sighed. The hard part was going to be finding where Emma had stashed everything, and fast.
Jason hummed to himself as he rooted through the cabinets, pulling out various jars, bottles, and cans. Digging through the refrigerator, he found what he needed and deposited them in a giant pile on the kitchen counter. Freddy had given him the recipe weeks ago and he'd been waiting for an opportunity to try it out.
As he began combining all of the ingredients in a large bowl, he started to feel like he'd forgotten something. "Got the horse-radish, worsteshire..." he snapped his fingers as he finally remembered. "Duh," he berated himself. Quickly, he went over to the cabinet, pulling out his last ingredient. "Almost forgot the Tabasco." Dumping in a large amount, he pulled out a whisk and hummed as he stirred.
Jason paused in his furious whisking, listening curiously.
"Charlie!" he yelled, "door!" Shaking his head, he went back to whisking their dinner, figuring it was just Stan and Emma coming back from welcoming their new neighbors and Charlie had accidentally locked them out.
With an exasperated groan, Jason put down the whisk and made his way into the foyer since it was obvious Charlie wasn't going to get the door. "I'll get it!" he yelled upstairs in annoyance.
Wanting to get back to his recipe, he hurriedly made it to the front door, flinging it open in exasperation. "Dude, Stan, don't you have a key-?" his voice trailed off as he saw that the man at the door was definitely not Stan. Unlike their tenant, this man had a full head of hair.
"Hello," the man said slowly. He seemed to study Jason for a moment, looking at him with keen interest. Then his mouth twisted in what appeared to be an odd attempt at a smile.
Creepy, Jason thought to himself as he smiled back warily. The stranger was average looking and built, his arms clasped casually in front of him as he stood on the doorstep. Then Jason noticed his all-black attire and groaned inwardly. Not again, he thought to himself. "Look, man," he started impatiently, "we don't need any more Bibles. The last time one of your guys was here, my mom bought like five just to get the dude to leave, so—."
"I am not a Bible-salesman," the man cut in calmly, his smile widening in an uneven, forced attempt to look friendly.
Jason believed him. There was no way this guy would ever be able to get people to buy any Bibles with such a horrible smile.
"Please, hear me out." The man asked.
Wow, Jason thought. Please? This guy must be a horrible door-to-door salesman. Out of pity he put on a small, bored smile, waiting for the dude to peddle whatever he was selling so he could tell him no thanks and get back to cooking.
"Is this the residence of Aaron Stone?"
He hadn't been expecting that. Blinking a few times, he looked at the man in surprise.
"What?" he asked. Not many people knew about Charlie's online avatar status. For some reason that had never made sense to Jason, his brother didn't want to flaunt his rock star status on Hero Rising. It boggled his mind.
"I'm from Hall Industries, the company that created the video game—."
"Hero Rising!" Jason finished in excitement, forgetting that seconds ago he'd called the man creepy, suddenly very excited to have the him on the front steps of his house. For the first time, he noticed the small, unmistakable logo printed on the left breast of the man's black suit.
The stranger nodded once, his smile shrinking slightly, which actually made him look less psychotic. "Yes. I'm here to present Aaron Stone with a special award-.
Jason let out an excited laugh. "No way!" So his brother's skills had caught the attention of the game's creators? How incredibly awesome was that? He grinned, only a tiny bit jealous, and really happy Charlie was his brother.
The man was biting his lower lip as he waited for Jason to quiet. "I am one of the original programmers for the videogame and wanted to give the news to Aaron Stone - personally."
Jason knew he was grinning like an idiot, but this was by far the coolest and most exciting thing to ever happen to his brother and he intended to vicariously soak up as much of it as possible.
The man peeked a look into the house behind him. "Are you Mr. Stone?" he asked, though Jason noticed, somewhat offended, the man seemed to already know he wasn't.
"I could be," he said, suddenly indignant. The man once again focused on him, a small-amused smirk on his face and Jason felt mildly uncomfortable. The dude really needed to learn to be friendlier and less eerie. Maybe that is what happened to nerds who spent more time in front on a computer screen then around living people. Perhaps he should start listening to his mom more…
Jason deflated. "Fine. Aaron Stone is my brother. And it's Landers by the way, Charlie Landers. He totally dominates your game! None of your Omega Defiance bad guys stand a chance when he plays! You should really try creating a few bad dudes that aren't so easy to beat."
The man's smile dropped completely and he sounded annoyed. "Is your brother here or not?"
Jason frowned at the guy's rudeness, wondering why he, of all people, had been sent to present the award. "Yeah, Sheesh. Come on in."
The man stepped into the house, surveying everything with intense interest. Jason led him into the kitchen, and watched, confused as a slow, slimy grin spread across the man's features, seeming oddly more natural than the grin he'd displayed at the front door. "Aaron Stone lives here?"
"Umm… yeah?" confused. "By the way," Jason started proudly, "My avatar is Terminus Mag. Not too bad myself, actually."
"Never heard of you."
Jason deflated, but covered up his embarrassment by turning around to yell up at his brother. "Hey, Charlie!" Charlie was going to be so excited, he thought to himself. He couldn't wait to see the look on his brother's face. "Man he is going to freak," he whispered excitedly to the man.
Jason was already freaking out. He was planning on basking in whatever glory was left over after Charlie accepted his prize. Who knew, maybe Charlie had one a trip to the Hero-Rising game headquarters, or a Hero-Rising Con. Usually those offers included a plus two. Jason had every intention of making himself that number two.
He stopped his excited tangent as he realized he'd been rude, neglecting to ask the man his name. "Sorry, forgot to ask your name."
The man smiled. "Powers. Elias Powers."
Jason frowned thoughtfully, thinking it sounded familiar. "Weird name," he said. The man, Powers took a deep breath, as if in pain. Jason was about to ask if he was all right when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. He tensed up in excitement.
Still moody from earlier, Charlie was grumbling as he descended the staircase. "Sorry Jase, I was looking for something and—." His brother froze as he looked over at them, his voice seeming to catch in his throat as he looked up at the man standing beside him.
Jason grinned as he watched his brother's face transform into complete shock. "Dude, Charlie. This dude is from Hero Rising and you are not going to believe what -." he trailed off as Charlie jerked, grasping at his right forearm, and then looking down at it in horror. When he looked back up, Jason's grin fell at the look of pure fright on his brother's face.
"Jason." Charlie's voice was tense, his eyes wide.
Not understanding his brother's reaction, Jason stepped toward his brother in worry. At the same time, Charlie reached forward to grab at him. Both brothers stopped moving as a firm grip came down on Jason's right shoulder, preventing him from moving any further. He looked over and up at the man who'd introduced himself as Elias Powers in confusion. The man's creepy smile was back, and Jason suddenly wasn't so sure that he was really from Hero Rising.
"Hello, Aaron Stone." Elias Powers said, looking extremely pleased and grinning widely. It was amusing for him to see the teenager who had caused him so much trouble looking so scared, so vulnerable. "Or should I say, Charlie Landers."
Charlie swallowed visibly, hands held out to his sides in a non-threatening manner.
Jason had a feeling he was missing something important, but his nervousness always made him talk more, not less, so he started rambling. "H-Hey, bro. Surprise? Apparently you won some awesome prize for being the top player on hero rising… cool right? I told him you'd freak…and you did! Though… I haven't really told you anything yet, so I don't know what that is about, but-
The hand on his shoulder tightened and Jason winced and looked over at the man he'd thought was just a videogame programmer in fear. The slimy smile had grown into a full grin, and it was the most disturbing thing Jason had ever seen.
"Now, now I've found you."
Charlie went cold. Those words, words that now made sense where they didn't a few days ago shocked him into action and he relaxed his stance, ready to spring when necessary. He glanced fearfully at Jason, who is standing next to Powers, the excited grin he was sporting earlier gone and replaced by growing fear.
"He's not really from Hero Rising is he?" Jason said nervously, eyes pleading with Charlie to do something.
"Not exactly," Charlie answered, keeping his eyes locked on Powers, ready to spring when he found an opening. The pistol jammed in the back of his pants he'd found in Emma's stuff felt like it was on fire, screaming at him to pull it out and shoot Powers. Slowly, he let his hands fall, trying to reach discreetly for the weapon.
"I think you need to leave." He said calmly, trying to distract Powers from what his hands were doing.
Powers smirked. "But I just got here, Aaron. It would be rude to make me leave after I traveled so far just to get here."
Charlie smiled thinnly. "Well, unfortunately I already have some friends coming over, so you'll have to visit some other time." He said, though he was doubtful his veiled warning would faze the mad man. His hand inched closer to the pistol, his fingertips now brushing the handle.
"Oh, Aaron. Aaron, Aaron, Aaron."
Charlie's hand gripped the blaster's handle firmly. "I hope you are not referring to your friends across the street," Powers said with a look of false concern. Charlie's hand froze, squeezing the weapon tightly as he looked at Powers in shock.
"Oh, yes," Elias Powers said with a wide grin. "I paid your new neighbors a visit earlier, then imagine my good fortune when Stan and your little friend dropped by to join the party. It was a most convenient coincidence." Powers face went stony. "One that I took full advantage of."
Charlie swallowed, trying not to worry too much about his friends. He needed to handle things here, then he could make sure everyone else was all right.
"So you see Aaron? We have plenty of time to visit," Powers said happily, smug smile back in place. Charlie didn't remember Power's mood swings being quite so scary before.
Jason had been silent up to this point, listening to the back and forth with a confused expression. Finally he couldn't help but interject. "Okay, obviously I am missing something here." He said in exasperation.
Powers glanced down at Jason, then gave Charlie a smug look. "Yes, Aaron. Your brother here does seem to be quite out of the loop on some things."
Charlie glared at Powers, hating the man more than ever.
Jason rolled his eyes. "Dude, I'm not as out of it as you seem to be." He pointed to Charlie. "His name is Charlie, not Aaron, duh. Aaron is his avatar's name."
Charlie bit his cheek, looking away for a moment at his little brother's trusting, matter-of-fact tone. Powers laughed.
"It's a bit more than that, isn't it, Aaron?"
In a sudden burst of anger, Charlie pulled the blaster out, pointing it straight at Powers. The man was too fast. At the same moment, Elias Powers had moved behind Jason, pulling his little brother back against him, effectively using him as a human shield. Charlie's finger froze against the trigger, unable to find a shot that wouldn't also possibly hit Jason.
Grinding his teeth in fear and frustration, he kept the weapon up. "Let him go, Powers. He has nothing to do with this."
"Obviously, or you would have at least entrusted him with your true identity."
"I am Charlie Landers."
"Yes, but that's not all you are- Not anymore."
"I understand why you couldn't tell him. Family isn't trustworthy. And your brother seems quite stupid, it would be a liability to tell him anything."
"Stop! You're after me, remember? Let him go, Powers. Now."
Powers chuckled, leaning down until his head was beside Jason's. Jason leant as afar away as possible, scrunching up his face in disgust and nervousness.
"Someone's quite full of himself. Who said I was after you?" Charlie frowned in confusion. Powers smiled and looked at Jason. Charlie's heart stopped. Jason - they had come for Jason. He didn't know what Elias Powers wanted his brother for, but whatever it was could not be good, and he didn't care to find out what it was right now. It was time to grab Jason and run.
Without wasting another moment, Charlie sprung forward with an enraged yell, grabbing the bowl of Jason's "special recipe" and throwing the contents over Powers. The gooey substance flew into Powers face and the bowl caught on the top of his head, spinning around a few times like a horseshoe before plopping down over Powers face. Elias yelled out as the mess fell into his eyes. Solely focused on getting Jason away, Charlie grabbed Jason away from Powers and pulled him towards the foyer, yelling at him to run. Jason didn't need to be told twice, beating Charlie to the front door.
Jason wrenched it open, only stopping when he realized Charlie had no intention of following. Scared, confused, and aggravated, he grabbed Charlie's arm, pulling at him. "Charlie, come on!" he said, in no mood for his big brother's hero complex.
Charlie pulled away and tightly took hold of both of Jason's arms, imploring him to listen for once. "No, Jason. You run. Go down to Mrs. Habersham's house, call the police, and don't step a foot outside until I come and get you."
Jason had started shaking his head the moment Charlie said run. "Are you crazy?" he hissed out, and Charlie could see how frightened his little brother was. His face was pale, eyes watery, and with his grip on him, he could feel the slight tremors as they ran through Jason.
"Maybe a little," Charlie said with a small smile, trying to reassure his brother, despite his own dubious thoughts. A loud crash resounded from the kitchen along with a curse. Charlie pushed against Jason, urging him to leave. "I'll be fine, Jay, but I need you to go get help."
"I'll stay and help you here."
Another loud growl was heard, and Charlie shot a fearful glance over his shoulder toward the kitchen as he heard footsteps. There was no more time to do this gently. Giving his brother another, harder shove, Charlie snapped. "You'll only be in my way, Jason! Now leave!"
Jason looked at him, a hurt expression on his face. Charlie sighed.
"Look, Jason —." A blaster beam suddenly shot past their heads, hitting the doorframe and erupting in sparks and splinters. Charlie whipped around to find Elias Powers bearing down on them, crazed looking as he gripped his weapon, eyes red from what was supposed to be their dinner still dripping down his face.
Panicked, Charlie turned and shoved Jason through the front door. He locked gazes with his little brother for a split second. "Run," he gasped, then slammed the door shut.
Outside, Jason stared at the door for a few seconds, jumping as another shot hit the door from whatever that weapon was the guy had. Everything was happening so fast and he had no idea what was going on. It was like Hero Rising had suddenly come to life and his brother was fighting bad guys in the real world. Only it wasn't turning out to be as cool as Jason had always imagined.
For a minute Jason considered barging back inside to provide backup for his brother. But he was too scared. This wasn't a game. He didn't have lives he could waste fighting this villain. There was a genuine psychopath in his house who was trying to hurt his brother, and now Charlie couldn't call for help. Jason could. That was how he could help his brother. His mind made up, he started sprinting across the yard toward Mrs. Habersham's, following Charlie's instructions. While running, he risked one more glance back at his house, hoping his brother would be able to hold the guy off long enough for him to bring the cavalry.
"Oof!" Jason grunted as his body rammed into something solid, causing him to fall backwards onto his rear. Rubbing his aching chest, he squinted up through the dark to see what'd hit him. His eyes widened in recognition.
"Stan?" Sure enough, Stan stood over him, gazing down at him strangely. Jason grinned in relief. "Stan! Oh my gosh!"
Jumping up, he grabbed their tenant's shoulders. "Thank god, Stan. Charlie's in trouble! There is some wack-job in our house trying to hurt him! The dude's really creepy, and he's got this weird gun that shoots lasers, and - and you have to help him! You -."
Once again, he suddenly found himself sitting on his rear in the damp grass. Rubbing his now throbbing chest, he glared up at Stan angrily. "Hey! What is wrong with you! We have to-."
Anything he was going to say was cut off as Stan's eyes suddenly lit up, along with several other parts of his body. He suddenly looked like a large glow-in the dark robot, and it was the scaring the heck out of him.
"Stan?" he whispered nervously.
Stan's bright, glowing eyes zeroed in on him. "Target acquired. Jason Landers detained." The man he'd known as an odd teacher and strange tenant not only looked like a robot, now he sounded like one too. Slowly, he began dragging himself backward. He felt like he was stuck in a nightmare and couldn't wake up. Everything was going wrong. Nothing made sense.
"What are you talking about, man?" he asked shakily, still backing away.
Ignoring his question, Stan reached down and picked him up. Actually picked him up. Jason was surprised at his strength, though after everything that had already happened he figured he shouldn't have been. Jason was quite a bit taller than Stan, yet he had picked him up and held him above the ground like Jason weighed nothing. And his grip was relentless. As hard as he tried, he couldn't manage to struggle free. Desperate and panicked, he did the only other thing he could think of, he screamed.
There were several houses around them, and he only prayed someone heard as he continued to shout for help. His attempts were silenced, however, when a hand shot out and backhanded him, hard. He felt blood well up in his mouth immediately and shook his head to clear the sudden cloudiness that entered his vision. He realized he was shaking now, scared out of his mind. That had really hurt. If that didn't wake him from this nightmare, then that meant his was real. Somehow, this was all terrifyingly real.
He finally managed to shake off the dizziness to see three new people standing in front of him. Two looked vaguely familiar, though he couldn't quite place where. The last figure left him gaping. "E-." He spat out a mouthful of blood, before trying again. "Emma?"
It looked like the girl of his dreams, yet it was as if she didn't recognize him. Her face held no expression. None. Come to think of it, neither did the other two people, or Stan.
As if in a trance, she stepped toward him, holding something. As she got closer, Jason got a look at what was in her hand and gaped. It was some sort of syringe with the biggest needle Jason had ever seen in his life on the end, and it was pointed right at him. He began to struggle anew, feet kicking furiously through the air, but it was pointless. Stan's grip didn't even give a little.
"Emma! What are you doing?" he yelled as she came closer.
It was like she could not hear him, and raised the needle above his arm. Clenching his eyes shut tightly, he tensed. When forced to go to the doctor's for shots, his mom had always comforted him by telling him it hurt less if you closed your eyes.
His entire body jerked as the long needle was jabbed into his upper arm. His mother's wisdom didn't seem to apply in this situation. He gasped as a sharp, shooting pain shot throughout his entire body. It felt like all his nerves were firing pain indicators at the same time. He wondered briefly if this is what it felt like to be stabbed.
Opening his eyes, Jason ignored the few tears that escaped his eyes and looked down at his arm. The needle was gone, but a large bruise marked the injection spot. He looked over to Emma, glaring at her, feeling betrayed. She was supposed to be their friend. Now, she'd just jabbed him with some needle, and even worse, was preventing him from getting help so he could save his brother.
Emma didn't give any indication that she even processed that he was looking at her. She just stared straight ahead, the same blank expression on her face. That couldn't be Emma he realized. She was Charlie's best friend. What in the world was going on? It was like she was being controlled by something or someone else. Their Emma would never do this he told himself. Mind-control made sense, but that was crazy. This had to be some sort of big mistake. Then he remembered Charlie. Charlie was counting on him to get help.
"Emma!" he said desperately, begging her to hear him through whatever was causing her to act like this. "Emma, Charlie's in our house. There's a man in there - he's psychotic and he has a gun." Emma continued to stare at him blankly, and Jason felt his hopelessness rise. "Emma!" he shouted as loud as he could manage, frantic to get through to her. Someone had to save Charlie. He refused to loose another family member.
A hand shot out and backhanded him again, this time even harder. He saw now that it had been Stan who had hit him. Somehow he'd been able to keep holding Jason up, and still slap the crap out of him. That realization gave him a sudden idea. He'd have to be quick, but it was his only chance. He started struggling again, jerking as hard as he could.
"SOMEBODY! HEL -."
Once again, Stan brought a hand up and hit him, but Jason barely felt the blow. Moving as fast as he could, he took advantage of Stan's one-handed hold and jerked himself sideways, upsetting the man's balance. Stan barely wobbled, but it was enough for Jason to wrench his other arm out of Stan's grip, breaking free. Hitting the grass, he lifted himself up quickly; ready to run faster than he'd ever run in his life. He took one step, and then collapsed.
Confused, he tried standing up once more, but ended up back on his hands and knees. A fuzziness had taken over his mind, and he shook his head a few times to try to clear it. Instead, a burning sensation began to spread from his arm and throughout his entire body. He moaned in pain, collapsing completely into the wet grass as the pain caused his arms to be unable to support his weight.
His eyes blinked heavily, and he knew he was about to pass out. He could no longer move, and the pain was becoming unbearable. Tears flowed from his eyes, into the already wet grass.
He heard footsteps approach, then found himself rolled over roughly by a large boot. He looked up at the four blank pairs of eyes gazing down at him. Groggily, he focused on the only one that mattered right now, the last person who could save him and his brother.
"Em…ma," he mumbled, having to force the words out through uncooperative lips. "Please - Please…you have to …save… Ch - Charlie…" His eyes closed and he found he couldn't form the words anymore. He tried, but no sound came out except unintelligible groans. He'd failed to get through to her, the Landers brothers' last chance.
Tears flowed unabated from his tightly closed eyes, as he dimly felt someone place something around his wrists, and heard a loud whirring noise overhead. He vaguely wondered how this long weekend had turned into such a disaster. Now he was either dying or being kidnapped, and his brother was going to be killed by the psycho with the gun in their house. He really wanted Charlie to step in right about now to save the day, like he'd been doing since Jason was little, but he knew that was impossible. After all, Jason was the one who had left his big brother all by himself with some crazed man with a strange weapon. No one would be sending help, and it was all his fault.
A sudden, blinding white light invaded his closed eyelids. Well this is it, he thought, I'm dying. He was so tired and out of it, he found he didn't even care that much. If possible, the light seemed to get brighter, and he cracked his eyes open in curiosity. All he could see was a large circle of white light, surrounded by a huge dark shape that seemed to be getting closer. He suddenly felt weightless, and his eyes slipped closed for the final time.
As unconsciousness took over, he managed to move his lips, though no sound came out, silently calling out to his big brother.
Charlie ducked as another laser beam got uncomfortably close to taking off his head. Powers was angry, and that seemed to actually make his aim more deadly. So far, he'd managed to get a few shots of his own off, but he wasn't used to the larger gun he'd picked out of Emma's stash. The recoil threw off his aim. Inwardly, he cursed himself for picking out the bigger gun, wishing he still had his smaller, pinker handgun. His gauntlet would have been ideal, but he didn't think Powers would go for a time-out so he could suit up.
Standing back up, Charlie darted behind a corner, gun at the ready. He glanced over at the large, charred hole that now decorated the wall across from him and sighed in annoyance. There were several more throughout the downstairs, made as Charlie and Powers traded blaster fire. He didn't know how he was going to explain those to his mom.
"I still can't believe the "great Aaron Stone" lives here." Powers was chuckling, sounding almost whimsical. Charlie frowned, listening to the man's voice to figure out where he was. Quietly, he moved further down the hall, slipping back into the living room, ducking behind the sofa. If he was right, Powers was coming from the opposite direction, and would come through the archway any minute. Gripping his gun tightly in preparation, he kept his ears tuned to the soft sound of the former Hall industries employee's steps.
Now. Jumping up, he took aim and fired. Powers screamed in anger as the bolt tore into his shoulder. Charlie cursed as he saw it was only a graze. Eyes promising retribution, Powers pointed his gun right at Charlie's chest.
He barely managed to throw himself out of the way. Landing behind a chair, he rolled into a ball, hands over his head as Powers began to shoot wildly around the entire room. Charred holes were ripped into the walls, glass shattered, and the burning smell of fabric permeated the air. When a few bolts hit the entertainment area, Charlie took advantage of the explosion of sparks and smoke, scrambling out of the deathtrap and making his way to the kitchen, where there was a back door. He knew when to admit defeat. He needed to retreat for now, find his brother, save Emma and Stan, and contact Mr. Hall.
The blaster fire had gone silent, but Charlie didn't bother looking behind him. As he reached the kitchen, he made immediately for the back door. But as he reached for the handle, he watched it turn on its own and the door slowly creak open. Someone was coming in.
Holding up his gun, he waited for the new intruders to appear, then quickly lowered it as he saw who it was. "Emma! Stan! You're alright!" he let out a sigh, relieved beyond words that his friends were safe, and that he would now have backup to take on Elias Powers.
Speaking of Powers, he could hear him approaching. "Quick, Powers is coming! Emma do you have a blaster?"
He frowned as Emma didn't answer him, but instead stared straight ahead, focused on nothing in particular. Stan held a similar expression, though it was not as unusual for the android to look like that. "Guys? Emma?"
Emma continued to stare blankly and Charlie suddenly got a wary feeling, backing up a few steps, looking between his two friends, realizing something was wrong. His eyes widened as he remembered the guard at Hall's headquarters turning against his comrades. "Cerebella!" he whispered, wondering what he was going to do now.
His friends were being mind-controlled and blocking his only escape. Now he would have to find a way to get rid of powers and return his friends to normal. He wanted to groan out loud. This just kept getting better and better he thought sarcastically. He hoped Jason had gotten help by now and the police were on the way. That would at least throw Powers off.
From behind him, someone started clapping slowly. Jerking around he found Powers standing there, grinning ruefully. "Very astute, Aaron. I had Cerebella whip up a few extra devices for my trip. After all, why destroy your enemies when you can use them?"
Charlie glowered. "Let them go, Powers."
Powers just smiled, then looked over at Stan and Emma. "Is it done?"
Stan nodded in confirmation. "Yes, sir. Target acquired, restrained, and in route to final transportation," the android spoke in monotone. Charlie looked back and forth between Stan and Powers, wondering what they were talking about.
"Sir," Emma added without any inflection. "Subject: Jason Landers subdued for transport."
Charlie felt his chest tighten and he turned, wide-eyed to Emma. "What?" he gasped.
He walked over and gripped Emma by the shoulders, putting himself directly into her line of vision. "What happened to Jason?" When she didn't answer he shook her, desperate to figure out what had happened to his little brother. "Emma! What happened? Where is Jason?"
He heard chuckling behind him and turned to Powers, who was grinning in satisfaction and seemed to be enjoying Charlie's panic.
"Where is he, Powers?" Charlie said, having never felt more furious in his life. He took a few steps toward Powers, but the man held up his blaster in warning.
"My, my... someone has quite the temper."
Charlie glared, fidgeting as he resisted the urge to jump forward and beat a real answer out of the psychotic man in front of him. He had taken Jason - Oh god he had taken Jason.
"Though I'd love to stick around, I really must be going. I got what I came for," he said smugly. "I'm sure I'll be seeing you soon."
"You're not going anywhere," Charlie said, bringing his own gun up. Powers shook his head in amusement, then looked at Emma and Stan. "Kill Aaron Stone."
Having forgotten about his two friends momentarily, he now looked back at them, wary and waiting for an attack. Stan looked like he was going to move, but a sudden grinding made him jerk back into place. Charlie watched as Stan's eyes blinked a few times, his head twitching back and forth before coming to a rest. After a few more clicks, Stan focused on Charlie and Powers, and Charlie felt relief bubble up inside at Stan's shocked expression.
"Charlie? What is going -?" Stan's chest exploded in a shower of sparks and metal as three blaster bolts ripped into his body.
"Stan!" Charlie screamed, watching in horror as the android's eyes turned off and his smoking body crumpled to the ground. Somehow the android had overridden Cerebella's device, and now he was - gone.
"What a waste. Cerebella did warn me that the effects might not be as effective on a non-human. Oh well." Powers didn't sound sorry at all.
Still in shock, Charlie turned slowly to regard Powers. The man was slowly destroying everything and everyone close to him. Stan was gone, Emma under his control, and his little brother, Jason, trapped in his clutches. He would never let Powers get away with any of it. He was going to stop Powers, save Emma, and find Jason before anything could happen to him. But first he had to take Powers out of the equation.
Charlie grit his teeth as he glared at the man, gun aimed right at his head. "It's over Powers."
Elias Powers raised an eyebrow, and to Charlie's surprise, lowered his gun. "Not yet."
Before he could reply, Charlie was sent flying from a well-aimed kick to his back, his shot going wild. Emma. He stood up, looking around for his gun. He saw it, by the kitchen island and leaped for it. He never made it. Emma threw a solid punch across his face and finished with a roundhouse kick that sent him sliding into the cabinets.
Wincing as he sat up, he watched as Emma slowly came toward him, expressionless despite her attempts to kill him. He looked over where Powers had been and started when he realized the man was gone. He heard the front door close and panicked, scrambling off the floor and running toward the foyer. He couldn't let Powers get away. He was the only one who knew where Jason was. Right as he reached the door, Emma slammed against him, causing his face to hit the door painfully. Blood gushed from his nose, and he blinked to clear away the spots in front of his eyes. Emma may be small, but she was strong and knew how to fight.
He would have to handle her before he went after Powers. Knowing it was the only way, he turned around and landed a hard kick to Emma's chest, wincing as she let out a grunt and fell backwards. He didn't want to hurt her, but he also didn't want to let her kill him. Quickly taking advantage of her position, he pinned her down with his arms and knees, effectively subduing her for now. He needed to figure out where the chip was.
Emma growled and struggled underneath him, trying to break free. She was strong and Charlie found he had to really press hard, but he had several inches and lots more muscle on her, so she wasn't going anywhere.
Remembering something, Charlie dared to take one hand from restraining Emma, groping around behind her head, searching. Now that she had a free arm, Emma was taking advantage, punching his face and pulling at his hair in any attempt to throw him off. Charlie ignored her, still looking, and smiled when he felt it. A small, barely perceptible chip attached at her brainstem. He pulled at it, hoping that it wouldn't cause any damage. He didn't know what else to do.
As soon as the chip left her skin, Emma's struggles stopped. Holding the slightly bloody chip in his hand he waited, not ready to let her go, just in case. They both were panting from the fight, the only sound in the tense silence. Emma was blinking, as if she had just woken up and then groaned. She looked around her, finally focusing on Charlie above her.
Her face crumpled and she gasped. "Charlie!"
Charlie smiled slightly. Glad to have a friend back. "Hey, Emma," he said softly, standing and holding out a hand to help her up.
She was looking around at the damage everywhere in his house, looking confused and like she was trying to figure something out. She glanced at Charlie's bleeding nose and hugged herself unconsciously, looking scared.
Using one hand to wipe at his nose, Charlie put the other on her shoulder comfortingly, wondering what the last thing she remembered is, knowing how she feels. It was a horrible thing to not remember how you got somewhere. "You alright?"
She nods absently, then starts as her hand brushes against her jacket pocket. Charlie frowns and watches as she slowly pulls out what looks like an empty syringe.
Emma's eyes go wide and she gasps quietly, lost in her own nightmare as she looks at it. Charlie tries to get her attention, calling her name several times, worried by her expression. When she finally looks up, Charlie is surprised to see that she looks - apologetic?
"Charlie. They got Jason."
Charlie nodded grimly, his own fear starting to show again. "I know. Don't worry, we're going to get him back."
Emma shook her head, upset and biting her lip. She held up the syringe. "Charlie - I helped them do it."
There you go! Let me know what you think and if it was what you all were hoping for. I meant to make Charlie and Emma's fight longer, but I have to leave in 10 minutes and ran out of time.
Thanks to everyone who is still following this story, no matter how aggravating the author may be! ;) You are all awesome!