March 18, 2011

"If you ask anyone, most of the stories will start the same way. We were all just going about our lives, doing some routine task when it happened. The sky just… rippled. It was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen, and I live in Metropolis!"

The TV screen cut back to a news reporter who continued to feed loops of the event back over the TV screen. People on the street doing normal activities when, without warning, the camera pans upwards and the sky becomes an ocean; And like the ocean, these waves brought in something to the shore. Something that would change the lives of thousands of people. Hardly visible, millions of tiny metallic mosquito like creatures descended upon Earth and it's denizens.

Hundreds of people forever changed, with the introduction of new strands of DNA into their body. Some people changed physically, others developed super-human abilities. Many people were frightened. The Justice League was soon on every station, every radio wave, declaring a global emergency. Brainiac was invading within a few years time and we all had to prepare. Those "gifted" with new abilities could choose to report to their local police stations to meet a member of the JLA for training, most chose to hide inside of their normal lives and suppress their Meta-powers.

The lucky ones could continue on with their lives, practically uninterrupted. Others were deformed, in a way, taking on purely primal characteristics and features. Yet still others were driven to the brink of madness by the weight of their choice: defend or hide? Some used their powers altruistically, others for personal gain. A few people started self-help style meetings in locations shared only amongst others who were affected. One such group was known as the Exobytten's.

At a weekly meeting inside a small suburban living room four people met, discussing what to do with these new abilities. They discussed the new challenges they faced while trying to live with it, while they weighed the pro's and con's heavily. Together they were the only support network they knew. Spouses didn't understand, parents were terrified, friends fled faster than they could count. They could only rely on each other. This meeting, however, was going to change all of their lives.

"My name is Jonathan White, and I recently developed an ability to grow and control plants. I haven't noticed any secondary changes yet," he said sneaking a glance at the woman covered in leopard fur, "but who know's what might happen. What if this was Poison Ivy's exobyte?" His voice was shaken, and he looked as though he hadn't slept in days.

"Welcome Jonathan. You already know Anasha, but my name is Geena." Said a rather petite girl from Metropolis City, her hair was a light green color, and her eyes were big and kind, "This is Richie," she gestured towards a young man, who appeared to be in his mid-20's with reddish-brown hair and a well groomed beard and goatee, "and this is Kacia," she gestured towards the woman with leopard fur.

Kacia wore a light flowing dress with a skirt that bellowed from her waist and stopped at her mid-calf. She wore a pair of toe-less heels and her pawed feet showed painted nails. "I've attempted to remain as human as possible, after the change. Sometimes that means I go a little overboard in my clothing choices. Surprisingly my body didn't change much beyond growing fur… and a tail."

Jonathan lightened up a little. Richie took the moment of silence to interject, "Just because your exobyte might have contained DNA from Poison Ivy in an alternate world, doesn't mean you'll become a psychopath. It's the abilities that form, not a psyche. None of us know for certain where the DNA came from, and all the information we've been able to dig up seems to indicate that it was the meta-power portion that was altered in our DNA, not that part that makes up our brain stability."

Anasha reached over and shoved Richie off the arm of the couch he was sitting on. He stumbled a bit as he regained his composure. "Give the kid an education and he thinks he's a frickin' Einstein." She smiled a bit, but her face quickly regained it's stalwart look. Anasha was a slender African-American woman with shoulder length brown hair, pulled back out of her face. She wore a pair of jeans, sneakers, and a comfortably loose t-shirt. "Look, the reason we came here was to make sense of our indecision. So far we've been at a stalemate. Two say we should hero-up, and two say we continue on our day-to-day lives,"

"Say's the lady who serves with Meta's on a daily basis!" Richie cut back. Jonathan looked up, worried.

"S-serves with Meta's? Are you already enlisted?" He sounded quite nervous, and sweat began to form on his brow.

"Only in the sense that I'm in the Navy. I've met Superman once, but mostly I just meet the other members of the JLA, not the heavy hitters." This seemed to allay Jonathan's worry for a moment, but he was still clearly agitated.

"So then we put it up to another vote. Now there are five of us, so we'll have a tie-breaker if we need one." Geena spoke up. She was often the most level-headed of the group, despite being the youngest. She stood up, and for the first time Jonathan saw her belt. It was golden, with silver inlays and hieroglyphs adorning it. "I say we go all in. Hero-up."

"Definitely! Give me a reason to put these well manicured claws to use!" Kacia said, stretching her arms to show off her claw-like nails.

"Definitely not," Came Anasha. "I have a hard enough time keeping myself from accidentally causing an ice-storm in the bunks, or from floating off during exercise. I really don't need to start trying to explain the constant shore-leave or bruising."

"I'm with Anasha on this one. My dad's reaction was bad enough when they found out about my abilities. I've only just got them coming around and talking to me again. I don't want to lose that because I'm wearing spandex."

It was a tie. All eyes came to rest on Jonathan. He was starting to feel uneasy again. He turned his hands over and over, feeling them become slippery with sweat each time. He hated the attention, all eyes on him. He thought he could feel his pupil's dilating with fear. "I- I don't think I'm qualified to make this decision. I'm still new!" He pleaded with them, hoping they would leave off of the topic.

"I know, I'm sorry Jonathan," Geena said, sympathy coming through her voice. "It's not fair to ask you to make such a huge decision, but you must have been thinking about it since you first developed your abilities. Do you help, or do you hide? What difference can one person possibly make in helping to prepare a global community for a war no one has ever seen-" her voice trailed off in his head.

Jonathan thought he was starting to have a heart attack. His chest tightened, he could feel his breathing becoming labored. He reached a hand up, as if to ask for a moment when tendrils shot through the living room window and wrapped tightly around Geena. She yelped with surprise more than anything, but it quickly became anguish as the thorns on the vines grew longer and dug deeper into her skin. It seemed that the tighter his chest felt, the more aggressive the vines became.

Richie leapt from his place on the edge of the couch and rushed over to Geena. He grabbed at the vines to pull them off, but only managed to get stabbed in the hands. "Stop this! You have to control yourself, Jonathan!" Richie yelled before more vines erupted from the floor, lashing out at anything around them. Picture frames were shattered, end tables were cleaved in two, books pulled from their shelves. Richie was unprepared for the vine that came up behind him and wrapped around his throat. The thorns were small, enough to latch on, but not enough to pierce him.

Kacia was agile, she was practically fully feline. She seemed to dance through the air as she dodged the vines. She was unsure of if it was sixth sense, or her new agility, but she seemed to stay one step ahead of the enraged flora. Anasha ran to Jonathan's side. She took one of his hands in both of hers. She talked to him calmly, but with a sense of urgency.

"Jonathan, you need to get yourself back under control. This isn't like you. The plants are responding to your fear, to your anxiety. I'm certain you're releasing a pheromone. They just want to protect you. Please, just take a breath and calm down." She slowly stroked his sweaty forehead, running her hand down the side of his head. She caressed his chin in her palm. Jonathan seemed to focus on this.

He took deeper breaths, coughing at the large amounts of fresh air. He tried his best to calm his racing heart as the vines seemed to respond. They slowed in their thrashing, but didn't seem to want to release Richie or Geena. Geena had stopped screaming, having passed out from the pain, and Richie's lips were starting to turn blue. Anasha continued to slowly stroke Jonathan's face as she coached him through relaxation techniques she had learned in case of a hostage situation. Kacia took the opportunity to dig her claws into the vines and started to rip and tear at the ones holding her friends hostage.

She was a savage beast. Her claws and teeth gnashing, she was able to free Richie from the stronghold around his neck. He fell to the floor gasping for breath, coughing and choking as he attempted to inhale. His eyes turned a bright red from veins in his eyes rupturing, and he had a bruise quickly rising to greet the thorn marks on his neck. Kacia quickly turned her attention to Geena. She dug her claws into the vine when Anasha called out, "Don't! I we don't know the extent of the damage. We need to get her to a medical center. Now!"

Anasha got up from her crouched position beside Jonthan and raced over to her fallen friend. She allowed Kacia to sever the vine just below Geena's feet, then picked her friend up delicately and quickly walked to the window. "Get him under control, then meet us at the center. Richie will need attention too." Without much else said, Anasha was flying out of the window and into the sky.

Richie remained on the floor, doubled over, heavily breathing in as much air as he could. Occasionally he would cough or sputter, but he was mostly taking audible breaths now. Kacia approached Jonathan, her eyes were yellow, but seemed to glow with fire. "You injured my friends. This group was a haven to us all, but not without it's dangers. You see that now. We need to join the Justice League. We need to learn the extent of our powers and how to control them. Think about it. We'll make our decision as soon as Geena and Richie are well."

Kacia turned on her heels, picked Richie up as though he was light as a feather, and marched out of the house, careful to avoid the holes in the floor. Jonathan heard the car doors open and shut, he heard the engine turn over, and then the car drove off. He sat in the chair, his eyes were still wide, but this time from the extent of his powers. He had almost managed to kill two people without a thought. He destroyed an entire living room absentmindedly. He was more uncertain now, than ever, if the exobytes hadn't started to overwrite his DNA with that of it's original owner.

"Well, nothing's perfect. Even geniuses are allowed to make occasional mistakes," came a voice from outside. Jonathan looked up to see the face of a familiar man, but he couldn't place why he knew it.