Hey guys, welcome to chapter 3! Thank you for all the input I have been getting about the story, I'm glad to see people are interested in reading this. The fourth chapter should not take very long, I already know what I want to do and graduation is in less than 2 weeks.
As for the Karma Choices, I still need a lot more people to vote on my profile for whether or not y'all want to see them implemented. 5 people isn't exactly the greatest representation of the community's opinion as a whole. So head on over to my page and press that button! Once there is a pretty clear pattern, I'll let you guys know.
As always; Read, Write and Review! And a little disclaimer, I do not nor have I ever taken part in the practice of parkour, so excuse me if some of you do and I get that section completely wrong. ^^
When the surprisingly painless embers eventually died from their skin, the MacGrath brothers were met with the sound of collective rejoicing.
Dylan looked up to find a large group of people cheering and clapping with smiles on their faces. Cole sat up on his knees and breathed a relieved sigh. Not only had he managed to keep himself and his little brother alive in a moment of absolute vulnerability, he had never seen so many people happy to see him in his life.
"Oof!" The head Conduit suddenly found himself jerked up off the ground and into a tight embrace by Rush.
"You're alive! I went back to look for you and I thought you were dead!"
"Come on, Rush," Cole rasped with his torso compressed. He was personally surprised that Eddy's scrawny build could even lift his own taller, stronger frame. "Me, dead? I thought you'd know better by now."
The younger man smiled even wider and set him back down, after which Cole took Dylan by the hand and pulled him to his feet.
"Who are all these people?"
"They are my band of traveling misfits," Cole explained. "And every one of them have superpowers."
"So, you're like their leader or something? How did you manage that?"
"Because I gave them their powers. And by that standard, you're a misfit too." Dylan looked down at himself and his hands as if he had mutated into some horribly ugly creature. "Your powers will come in time and I'll teach you how to control them. But for now I have a few things to take care of."
He put his fingers to his lips and gave a loud whistle. Dylan was surprised to see the dog that had come to his aid emerge from the crowd and heel at Cole's side.
"Hey, that's the dog that was there when the bomb went off..." Dylan looked at Cole was a sarcastic look. "It's Superman's dog, isn't it?"
This question made Cole chuckle, which caused Rush to look at the dog with an interested face and it returned a twitch of the ear. "His name is Richard and he's actually not a dog. He's only in that form because he injured his leg trying to bring you to me...and three legs are better than one."
As he explained, Richard went to sniff Dylan's leg before seeming interested in tracking a scent. He moved left and right weaving in and out between the three Conduits following his nose.
"I'll admit, he's a good actor," Dylan couldn't help but smile knowing it was a grown man's mind in a dog's body.
Once Richard had found his end point to lead him back to Cole, he let out a howl. He was immediately hushed by the leader before shooting a point at him with his paw.
Cole glared at him as his brother asked "What's he pointing at," and Richard glared back.
"Sometimes his borrowed instincts kick in and turn him into a brainless animal," he stressed the last part of the sentence as a warning to Richard, who growled back as an answer. He ignored this and digressed. "Like I said, I've got things to do. Richard will give you the tour, show you how we do things around here. When you're done, come find me. I shouldn't be too hard to find."
With that he turned and entered the mill of Conduits like God parting the Red Sea.
Dylan looked at Richard who looked at him back with a flat expression. After a moment, the man in the dog's body put pressure on his gimp leg to test out the pain. Once he convinced himself it was bearable he changed his form into his normal human self.
The boy looked up speechless at the tall, intimidating man. Just by looking at him he could tell Richard had seen things in his life that Dylan never hoped he would and quickly wished he was still as cute little Labrador.
He swallowed nervously before sticking out his hand, trying to start off on the right foot with such brutish man. "Uhm, nice to meet you. I'm Dylan M-"
"I wouldn't tell anyone your last name here," said the man in a gruff voice. "I can name at least one person that would exploit the fact that you're his brother."
"...Oh." Dylan let his arm droop. "Is...is that one of the rules here, or is that just your personal opinion?"
"The only "rule" is don't piss off Cole. It's common sense. He's the strongest out of all of us and no one is stupid enough to get the brunt of his power turned on them." Richard turned and walked in a path that led around the crowd. Dylan, after snapping himself from his thoughts, jogged to catch up to him.
"That's a little vague, isn't it? He's not a very negotiable person before he gets ticked off."
"Just do what he says and don't cross him. I'd imagine he'd punish anyone using their powers to harm other Conduits either. You'd better be taking notes, kid, I'm not one who enjoys repeating himself."
"Sure..." said the young MacGrath as his eyes scanned the crowd. Some milled calmly with each other while few sat with still bodes as if they were nurses at a patient's bedside. "Mind answering what a Conduit is?"
"Conduits are just people with super powers. We get our powers when a certain radiation activates a special gene in our bodies. And the probability of having this gene is about as much as getting struck by lightning..."
"So, is that number higher lately considering Cole has lightning powers?" Dylan gave a weak chuckle as Richard stopped to give him a sharp glare. Obviously he wasn't one for humor either. "Right...so, when do we get our powers?"
"You already have your powers, the problem is you can't control it. I'll be blunt with you; you are a very powerful Conduit, you've already almost killed some of us."
Dylan wasn't surprised that he'd be the type not to mince words, but almost killing people? He thought he was over-exaggerating considering whatever injury he has sustained was already reduced to a minor limp. "But what are my powers?"
"As far as I know, you are able to cause earthquakes. Whatever else you can do you'll find out soon enough when Cole and I teach you how to use your powers." He glanced at Dylan who suddenly carried a look of meager disdain. "So you better get used to seeing me, because I won't go easy on you because your last name is MacGrath."
Soon they came across Julia and Torrin. The former was down on her knees with her hands clasped together while the other stood nearby watching contently.
"Who are they?"
"Julia Abraham and Torrin Davis," Richard answered. "She is able to manipulate plants while he controls water. They work together to supply us with food when we don't have enough from scavenging."
Dylan watched as small buds grew into stalks of corn and pea pods as well as trees that beared apples, oranges and peaches. It was like watching a vegetation documentary in smooth time lapse. However he noticed that the plants struggled to mature until Torrin let loose a steady stream of water from his hands to quench the roots, after which they bloomed incredibly quickly.
The boy did not know which he found more impressive—the plants on steroids or the almost enchanting glimmer of light reflecting off of the spontaneous water particles. Whatever enchantment he found was quickly extinguished when Torrin turned and his eyes found his own. Until now Dylan thought he had already made the acquaintance of the "Friendliest" of the Conduits. He quickly realized that there were more lions in the den than he felt comfortable.
"Tamed your wrecking-ball yet, Blaine?" Torrin mocked, crossing his arms. Dylan returned the heated stare, knowing he was referring to him. "I should hope so if you don't want to end up in your own grave."
"So far no more problems," the other man answered, impressively holding back any sharp words he'd love to say. "I appreciate your hand in our rescue."
"If it were up to me I'd have left you there. But seeing how I'm not the dictator, I had no choice."
"That's thoughtful of you," said Richard sarcastically. He took Dylan by the arm and jerked him away with him to end the conversation.
"Hey, wrecking-ball," Torrin called. Dylan looked back spitefully to see him toss a bright red apple to his hands. "Welcome to the herd."
"Uh...yeah thanks," he answered emptily. He continued after Richard refusing to look back. "Do you think it's poisoned?"
"Like I said, no one is stupid enough to piss off Cole. To him, all of us are significant and irreplaceable. He may not look it, but he does look after us. The best was to describe it is he's our shepherd."
Dylan twirled the fruit in his fingers as if looking for a worm of other parasite. "What's that guy's problem anyway?"
He took a bite as Richard answered, "Let's just say it's arbitrary between him and I. Don't be surprised if you see him getting on Cole's bad side."
"I'm guessing he's the one you meant when you said someone would exploit my name."
"Yeah," the other complied.
As they continued to walk, Dylan noticed someone within the group awakening from their unconscious sleep, almost like rising from the dead. He quickly recognized the brown mop of hair and and the maroon jacket the person wore.
He tore away from Richard's supervision and rushed up to his dazed friend Mitchel floundered about half-awake, barely able to mutter Dylan's name.
"Mitch, come on, wake up." Dylan slapped him a few times across the cheek. After the fourth time he finally came to.
"Dylan!" He gasped. "It really is you!" He jumped up and hugged him tighter than he dared before. After all, he did just live from a bomb and he had just woken up to find his best friend alive and well. "What happened? All I remember is that a bomb went off."
"I don't know everything yet, but I know we've got super powers." Mitch looked at him blankly. "I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. I just watched a little girl grow and apple tree in, like, twenty seconds. Here..."
He held out the apple to his friend, expecting him to take it into his hands. But he was recovering from his sleep much slower than Dylan had and instead leaned in and forced his teeth into the tough peel. Dylan had to keep both hands on the fruit to keep it from falling out of his hands or sticking to Mitch's mouth as he righted back up and chewed.
After he swallowed he looked into his friend's eyes saying "It's better than hospital food."
"Yeah, but this isn't the hospital so I don't need to be hand-feeding you anymore." The young MacGrath shoved the apple into his hand.
Mitch laughed before replying, "Y'know, those were probably the best parts of your visits. The nurses only treated me like a rotting vegetable." Then he took another bite.
"Alright, listen up," Cole's voice trailed above the group. Everyone quickly hushed and stilled, something that still took Dylan by surprises. "The food's all ready, so help yourselves. As always, we can thank Julia and Torrin for their hard work."
He clapped his hands together and the rest soon followed. Dylan and Mitch were slow to join. The two Conduits receiving the attention seemed to put off the applauds like they had been given enough already.
"Afterwards, I need all the newest Conduits to join me for orientation then we'll be on our way. For now, eat up. It'll take a day or more to get to the next city."
Dylan looked up to Richard and said, "Wait, we're not staying?"
"No," he replied. "We only stay long enough to convert more Conduits and find supplies and then we move on to the next destination."
"But I don't understand. What exactly are we doing?"
The animagous Conduit looked at him strictly before answering, "You'll find out at the meeting." Then he turned and joined the others in the crops.
Now Dylan was very concerned. Richard was obviously not one for talking but so far he had not gone tight-lipped when he asked a serious question.
Suddenly he didn't want to know the answer, a sense that was reinforced when he looked to Revere City in the distance. Even from far away he could see the numerous columns of smoke billowing from within the city and some buildings that had been leveled or smashed.
Then he wondered to himself how powerful he really was to have caused that damage, in his sleep no less. Or maybe it was only a fraction. Now he was sure it was Cole who was responsible, the only person that seemed to put a quiver in Richard's voice just in the description of his strength.
But he decided to wait to hear it from the horse's mouth before jumping to any conclusions.
He looked down at Mitch and held out his hand. "Come on. You need the food more than I do." He pulled him up as their palms clasped together and assisted him to the plentiful source of nourishment.
As Dylan helped him hobble, he noticed that Mitch had not coughed once, that his body as stronger than it had been. Had he been cured or was that only a moment of reprieve from his body's shock to survive?
"Alright, easy does it." Dylan leaned Mitch against the shady apple tree and the other struggled to keep balance. "I guess you'll want more than just apples, huh?"
"A little of everything would be nice," Mitch smiled back.
"Will do," answered Dylan as he scooped up a few red fruits and doubled back to hand them to his friend.
Then he made his way to the orange tree where he found a measly single citrus laying on the ground. Dylan frowned as he picked it up and stuffed it in his hoodie pocket wishing he had enough to share between the two of them. He looked up when he felt an orange skin plop on top of his head to find Eddy lazily munching his food sitting on a branch.
"Hey, uh "Rush" was it? Mind tossing a few down for me?"
"Sure, newbie," Rush said after swallowing, "whatever you say."
Dylan then found himself with a juicy peel smudged on the front of his jacket. He flicked it off before saying sarcastically, "Very funny. How about some sustenance with that peel?"
"Don't you know the peel is the healthiest part?" Dylan only glared at him. "I'm just pulling your leg, newbie. Here you go."
Suddenly the tree rustled and disappeared behind small puffs of smoke and in between those puffs came flying oranges. Dylan scrambled to catch them as they fell—three or four of them-and stuffed those into his pocket as well. "Thanks!" These he returned to Mitch.
Dropping the fruits at his friend's feet, he noticed a small group of Conduits sitting in a circle chatting with one another. Each of them had half of a fuzzy brown coconut in their hands and were drinking milk from the hollow centers.
"Hey, where'd you guys get those?"
"Across the corn field," one of them answered. "Water's nice, but it doesn't have the Calcium a healthy diet needs, y'know?"
"Why didn't Julia plant all the trees together? Seems a little out of the way."
"She's just a kid. And honestly, she doesn't really know how to use her powers." Dylan asked the man what he meant when it seemed she could use them just fine. "Well...how can I explain?"
"She doesn't understand that they're her powers," another took over. "She thinks that angels are responsible for everyone's powers. Everyone has their own special angel that they pray to and they answer."
"So she only asks her "angels" to grow her plants, but not where," Dylan deduced. The other confirmed and wished him luck on finding what he was looking for.
The corn field was too tall for Dylan to see over and so he could not see any tree with coconuts on it. But he decided to go through to the opposite side and grab some husks on the way.
As he sifted though the towering stalks of corn he rifled through them to find the most ripe husks he could find. It didn't talk long for him to realize that getting lost in a corn field was actually a lot easier than it sounded, and that's being generous. When he emerged he expected to see an entirely new ecosystem of fruit-bearing plants, only to find Mitch and the Conduits he had asked for assistance.
"Get lost?" Mitch snickered as Dylan dropped the corn he had been carrying.
"It's like a fun house in there," replied the young MacGrath. "I'm gonna try again."
Once again he entered the forest of husks, this time feeling as if he were only going in circles never to find an end. It was when he found a crow pecking at a torn-open husk that he finally felt relieved.
"Hey Richard, I don't mean to interrupt your dinner but can you show me the way to the coconuts? I keep getting turned around."
The bird crooned its head and cawed, fluttering its wings to get above the crops. After looking around it cawed again as a beckon and flew towards Dylan's destination.
The boy raced to keep up with the bird, glancing up to see if he was still on track while shoving stalks out of his way. It was more like dense brush than crops. Dylan had no idea how much was left until the edge and he could barely see as he zoomed past green and yellow blurs.
He heard Richard caw once and saw him zig zag above, something that confused him as to what its interpretation could be. His answer was made clear when he collided with another body and tumbled to the ground on top of said person.
"Ow. Hey, careful," said Lucy Kuo beneath him.
Dylan scrambled off of her, shocked by the intense chill he could feel through his jacket just by touching her. "I am so sorry, miss," he sputtered as he took her hand and lifted her to her feet, once again surprised by how cold her touch was. "I was following Richard to the coconuts and I didn't see you there."
"It's alright, no harm done," Kuo replied, dusting herself off.
There came a series of caws from a circling seagull above their heads, about the closest thing to a laugh Dylan figured his keeper was capable of producing. He scowled and looked back to Kuo.
"I'm Dylan, I'm new here," he stuck out his hand, hoping she'd shake it even though her icy skin still disturbed him.
"Lucy Kuo," she did take his hand and he continued to smile past his discomfort. "I'm Cole's assistant. And from what he's told me, you two are close for a couple of brothers that haven't seen each other in so long."
Dylan frowned and scanned her eyes trying to find a lie to tell her.
"It's alright, your secret is safe with me. Whether or not you want to expose your identity is up to you and Cole."
"Oh..." Dylan's voice faded, finding he had one more true ally in the new strange environment. "I appreciate it, Miss Lucy."
"Please, call me Kuo."
The boy nodded. "Alright. Kuo."
There came a gull's caw right next to his ear, which startled him, as the changeling grasped onto another stalk.
"You'd better go," said Kuo, hiding the faintest hint of laughter. "Richard can only be patient for so long."
"Right. Thanks, Kuo." He took off after the gull, weaving in and out between plants being careful not to run into anyone else.
Richard quickly led Dylan to the trees populated with coconuts as well as banana trees. The bird skimmed across the ground before shifting into a small monkey. Dylan followed Richard to the base of the tree as the simian scurried up tot he nuts.
Watching him made Dylan recollect on a day when he was thirteen. The police had brought Cole home for trespassing and in some cases, destruction of property when he had started getting into parkour. He had gotten bored of the trees, dumpsters and fences in their neighbor hood and had moved out into the city. Dylan could tell he had been running around in the sewers because he would come home smelling worse than a skunk and take a shower before their parents found out. Those were nights that sharing a bedroom was certainly a downside.
A few months later he had managed to get their parents to agree to let him go down to New Marais with his best friend Zeke Dunbar and his family for his birthday. It wasn't Zeke's birthday. And his family didn't go with them. It was all just part of a half-baked lie so that Cole could continue his Urban Exploration or whatever he called it to sound official and get out of trouble.
Well, whatever "barbaric foolishness"-said father—he did certainly made an impression on little Dylan. He always asked Cole to teach him but the answer was always "no". It was never because Cole didn't want to take the time to teach him, it was because he didn't want Dylan to get as acquainted with the police as himself.
But here the law did not apply. This was no one's property and the only cop for miles was Torrin. Richard pulled a nut off the tree when he reached the top and tossed it at Dylan's feet. When he reached for another, he stopped him. "Wait, I want to try getting it myself."
The monkey frowned impatiently.
Dylan took a few steps back before running, jumping and grabbing at the tree. He quickly found that gravity was greater adversary than Cole made it seem. He tried again but came to the same result. He gazed up at Richard who still glared grumpily at him. He reached for another coconut deciding that Dylan was just a childish kid with useless gleaming-eyed ambitions beyond his reach.
But he stopped again, halfway in motion. Dylan heard the footsteps and whirled around, flushing almost immediately.
"Still haven't given up wanting to learn?" said his older brother smiling coyly at Dylan's embarrassment.
He helped his little brother up, who kept his eyes averted to hide his shame. Cole looked to Richard up in the tree and said, "Go back to your business, I'll take it from here."
The simian's blank stare gave no clue to his relief, but the sudden change into a black crow and fluttering back into the crops was answer enough.
"There," finalized Cole. "Privacy is a little hard to come by lately."
Richard wasn't the reason Dylan's ego had been bruised, but he knew that any intimacy the brothers wished to share would need to be had alone. For now the other Conduits, with the exception of Kuo and Richard, needed no hints of their relation to one another.
"Now," Cole brought his attention back to him. "Parkour isn't something you can just get out of bed and decide to do one day...at least the more advanced stuff. Your body's got to be conditioned, you've gotta be agile, have good balance."
Dylan frowned. He wasn't quite on par with the description.
"But that's if you're not a Conduit," said Cole, that perked up Dylan's ears. "Your body's been reinforced. You may not realize it yet, but you have more stamina, strength and resilience than ever."
He took a few steps back and waved for Dylan to stand clear.
Then he took off in a full sprint from a stand-still. Then he lunged with all the momentum in this forward motion and grasped the trunk and went straight up. Once he reached the top he tore a nut off the tree and toss it into Dylan's hands.
Dylan was amazed. He had sealed the tree faster and more graceful than Richard, and he was a monkey.
"You've just gotta learn how to use everything you can output. Including your powers."
Then he jumped and Dylan's heart thumped like a bass drum. He plummeted down over two stories straight to the ground. When he landed the downward force brought him to a squat before he stood up, unharmed.
Dylan blinked a few times. "That didn't hurt?"
"Not a bit. My muscles can stand more trauma and reconstruct themselves faster. Falling's not a problem anymore."
"What's the highest you've jumped from?"
Cole paused to calculate it in his head. "Give or take thirty stories."
"Where did you get thirty stories to jump off of?"
"If I told you it was a tower made of garbage you wouldn't believe me."
Dylan stared at him quizzically. He assumed that being a superhero came with right to the weird.
"Anyway," Cole returned to the previous topic, "first lesson; center of gravity." He ushered him over to the same tree. "Just because gravity is always trying to pull you down doesn't mean you have to go with it."
He planted one foot on the trunk, pushed off with the grounded one and clung to the tree, in Dylan's envy, stationary.
"Nothing up my sleeve, no powers, just friction because of my center of gravity." His position was similar to a vertical squat, the majority of his body weight keeping his staggered shoes in place. "If I'm unbalanced, gravity would be stronger than the friction and I'd fall." He leaned back, purposely losing his balance and caught himself on the ground.
Then he signaled for Dylan to try. He followed his motion and did his best to mimic him. Struggling to find his balance, his foot drooped and raised as if he were unsure if he were going to fall or not.
"Come on, Dylan. You're not even three feet off the ground," said Cole teasing him about his insecurity.
Dylan grounded himself and rubbed his hands on his jacket. "You make it look easier than it really is."
"It can be easy. You just can't be afraid to fall. You don't need fear, you're a Conduit."
"I'm not scared," Dylan argued, "I just can't-"
"Try again," Cole interrupted, not wanting to hear excuses. "This time keep both your feet on the tree and only use your toes."
Dylan sighed and rubbed his hands together. He didn't care how many times he insisted he had powers. Until he did something some extraordinary out of a comic book he was still a normal seventeen year old kid. And a fall from the top would probably break something.
Once again he grasped the trunk and planted his feet, noticing that some of the bark was sturdy enough to be capable footholds given the appropriate balance. When his hands slopped, scurrying to find a new grip, he felt his brother's palm on his back that coerced him to lean in and find his upper balance.
It was amazing what a reassuring hand could accomplish.
It was something Dylan had not had for a long time. It was the same touch he felt when his father lashed out at him before they suddenly vanished along with his brother. It was Cole's way of saying without words "Trust me. I'm here. It's not worth a second thought."
There was only one other person he shared that gesture with, that nurse he had as a girlfriend, Trish. When she was around Cole seemed to be a completely different person. If his parents weren't gawking at his "lucky catch" he would personally toss Dylan out of his room for privacy's sake. Most of the time Trish would try to spare him by saying three is company. This worked maybe two or three times.
'Whatever happened to her' he wondered.
Dylan looked to him pleasingly after he took his hand away, proud that he had accomplished the task of handling gravity.
But when he saw Cole's eyes there was a small hint of disappointment. It was as if a purposely forgotten memory poked it's mocking face of of a deep darkness.
"Cole?" Dylan attempted to remove him from his aloof stare. "How is this?"
His eyes as red as his shirt darted over him. Dylan shivered. Were his powers really worth losing his familiarity? To him, perhaps. Cole never did care about what people though of him, except for maybe their parents. But being one of only two people Dylan knew from his old life, the touch of his hand seemed to be the last sign of his brother he remembered.
"Looks like you've got it," he answered at last. "Now try it without my help."
Dylan let go, took a few steps back wiggling his gingers free of pain, then gave a short run before perfectly mounting the tree.
"Good job," he complemented, genuinely smiling. Whatever he had remembered seemed to be back in the past. "We probably don't have much time before someone comes for seconds, so let's skip right to the fun part."
He took a spot on the trunk beside his brother, leaving enough room for free movement.
"Think of it like climbing a ladder—right arm, left leg, then the opposite." he demonstrated by taking a few upward strides before sliding back down, tearing the bark. "Only difference is you need to adjust your weight going up. Keep your weight centered so that the friction of your toes keep you from slipping and you can easily pull yourself up."
Dylan craned his head upwards at the daunting height of the tree. If he made it to the top it would be an impressive feat.
"Come on, I'll do it with you," Cole assured him. "Ready?"
"Ready as I'll ever be."
"Alright, here we go. Right..." The two ascended with their right arms and opposite legs. "...left." Dylan followed his lead, Cole continued to chant as they climbed, falling quickly in time together. Eventually he found a rhythm and Cole's encouragement was no longer needed. "Great, you've got it!"
Dylan's confidence rose with every step. At last he was achieving what he has spent years wanting to learn. Something that seemed almost impossible he was now succeeding in literal strides.
That was until his foot slipped.
A piece of loose bark gave way, taking him by surprise in his pride. His heart jolted as he slid downward, clamping his hands against the rough bark.
Cole darted his hand and caught his olive hood as It flourished up against the fall. It was all thanks to this that Dylan was able to stop.
He grasped the trunk in the tightest embrace he could. If it were a stuffed animal the head could have popped off.
"Yeah," Dylan heaved, finding his footing again, "thanks, Cole." He pried one hand from the tree and saw his palm and fingers had been cut in a few places. He seethed at the sting of pain.
"Do you want back down? There's only a few feet left."
The trembling MacGrath glanced up again. His goal was only a few arm's lengths out of reach. "I've come this far already," he declared.
Then he started again, fighting past the pain in his hands and chill in his spine. The few feet felt like several miles, but when he took the fuzzy brown coconut in his hand and tore it off all the sweat and fear seemed so worth it.
"I made it," Dylan smiled down at Cole. At the same time he realized how high he had really climbed. It may not have been a thirty-story building, but it was a start.
"You see? Nothing to it. I bet you couldn't do that yesterday."
This made Dylan think 'What else couldn't I do yesterday?'
Cole had been so insistent that Dylan had wooden up with otherworldly abilities. Maybe his body knew about the change before he did. IT was certainly true that he did not have the most optimal physical ability the day before.
"Alright, last one," Cole sighed, checking for any on-lookers. "Getting down..."
That gave Dylan an idea. He had been preaching about how falling was harmless and fear was unnecessary. He felt that there was not time like the present.
Whatever Cole was saying went in one ear and out the other as he pushed off the trunk of the tree. Now he let gravity take him instead of fighting against it. The fall only lasted a few seconds but the rushing air and the sinking feeling in his stomach drug it out for ages.
And when he hit the ground, he felt almost nothing. The fabled shock-absorbers were true, all he felt was the equality of jumping off of a bed.
But it wasn't the lack of pain from the fall that surprised him. It was the thin fissure that shot across the ground when he landed. No ordinary person could have created a deformity in the earth when falling from any height.
Then he noticed that the pain in the right hand was easing instead of intensifying for being pressed so hard on the ground. When he glanced at it he was amazed to find that the layer of dirt on his skin was—without exaggeration—becoming his skin and reconstructing his palm and fingers, repairing the cuts completely.
It was true, he was a Conduit. Everything Cole claimed must have been true. Not that he ever doubted him, he only wished to see the powers Cole had guaranteed he had.
"So how does it feel to be a Conduit?" Dylan did not have an answer, however it seemed that Cole did not expect and answer. "I was going to let you climb down but that was worth discovering your powers wasn't it?"
"I, uh... don't know what to feel," the younger brother admitted.
"In that case, let me show you something to look forward to." He reached over his shoulder and pulled the rusted Amp from his back. "You might want to step back a little." Dylan did as he was told. "More...little more. That's fine."
Then he jumped, charged his arms with red electricity and raising the weapon above his head. And when he hit the ground he whipped it to his side and all the electricity he built up erupted in a diverging wave, causing dirt and grass to fly up from the earth.
Dylan looked on impressed. Had he been inside the radius of the shock wave he'd have been a one-hundred and forty pound projectile.
Cole stood and sheathed his Amp. "See that crack you made? It might not look like much, but eventually you'll be able to make tens of those, rattle the ground, bury people by doing what I just did. And then you can improve on it, won't need a jumping point—just a tap of your foot."
Dylan did not know how to respond. He was given mixed messages. Cole spoke as if it was a wonderful thing to look forward to, but his voice was laced with something despotic, hungry. He did not know if he wished well for the sake of Dylan having powers or the eventual scope of destruction he would eventually be able to create.
In the loss of feeling neither ecstatic nor disgusted, he simply smiled a little and said, "Cool, can't wait."
The other didn't seem to accept this as an appropriate response, but let it go and changed the subject.
"You've made good progress for your first day but you're not done yet. After you're done eating I'll start eh demonstration." He made another quick scan around. "Get back to your friend, you've kept him waiting long enough." Then he turned to leave.
"Sure. And Cole?" He stopped and half turned. "Thanks."
The elder only nodded and vanished into the crops.
Dylan was about to leave when he decided to grab one more handful for the trip back. He climbed up the adjacent tree with bananas at the top, patting himself on the back that he did not need Cole's coaching to do so. I twas much easier the second time around knowing falling had no consequence.
Once he grabbed a bushel he considered climbing back down. However he agreed that he had been gone too long and jumping was much faster. This time when he landed he manged to put a dent in the ground and get his hand stuck in a crack. He was easily able to pull it out, but the lack of control he had of his powers disturbed him. Torrin had poked fun at him for putting Richard in a life threatening position, and then Richard himself blatantly warned he could easily kill someone if he misused his powers.
So far his new abilities had done more harm than good. The only beneficial thing he could do so far was heal himself with dirt and survive a fall. He found them annoying and honestly, after hearing the tone in his brother's voice, terrifying. He had only been awake an hour and already his powers were raging out of control. What would he become as he got stronger?
He imagined something like a giant rock monster that shook and broke the earth with every step.
Who would look forward to that?
Apparently his power-hungry brother.
He took one last forlorn glance at the scar in the earth he had created and made his way back to the other Conduits.