I am born, without mind, without soul. I am born, enveloped in a glass tank, floating in a mixture of nutrients and bio-chemicals. I am born, if you can call it being born, my genetics brewed together in a test tube, an amalgamation of DNA from the greatest fighters the world has ever seen. I am born, but not born, a laboratory creation, a scientist’s experiment. I was born, to fight, to win; I was born for nothing else.
Drs. Red, Blue, and Green, as I was told to call them, said they created me for a very special reason, but it would take a lot of training before I was ready. I was given books to read on different fighting styles, battle tactics, and killing techniques. I was beaten mercilessly, exposed to arctic blasts and extreme heat, and starved for days on end; to test my endurance and raise my threshold for pain, I was told. And I would fight, a single opponent at first, the next day there would be two, and the next three. I endured brutal punishment, and at the end of the day, I would be locked in my room to await the next days tortures. I eventually learned how to block the pain, to push it away; it was the only way to survive. Something was about to happen that would change everything though.
I lay in my bed, unthinking, staring into the darkness; I wait. Soon, there is a soft click as the door to my room is unlocked, and I rise, getting to my feet, knowing the guards who will be my companions the rest of the day will expect me to be ready. They take me for nutrient replenishing first; I am given a glass of thick, brown liquid that I imbibe quickly so that my training can begin.
I am taken outside to a large courtyard, where several men will be waiting; this time there are seven. I stand impassively as they form a circle around me, then it starts. Three of them rush me at once, one from the front, two from behind. I wait for them to close, then I strike: dropping into a crouch, I strike a heavy blow to my opponents crotch, then leap into a spinning back kick, knocking the men behind me to the ground. I find the first man on his knees vomiting, and deliver a knee bash to his head that renders him unconscious. I hear a rustling from behind, and jump, barely avoiding a leg sweep from one of the men behind me. Before my feet touch the ground, the other four men close with me, on of them grasping me from behind, clutching me close to his chest with arms like iron. I head butt the man in the face, breaking his nose, but still he holds on, as the other men strike repeated blows to my midriff. I throw my head back again, and again, finally forcing my opponent to loose his grip. I am quickly forced to the ground, though, my arms and legs pinned as I am pummeled by fist and foot. I try to move, but I am held down tight, my foes laughing as they continue their ruthless punishment.
Something strange happens; I feel a warmth in my head which quickly builds into a raging fire. I snarl, an animal trapped in a corner, and I feel new strength flow into my limbs. Tearing my arms loose, I grab two of my assailants by the collarbone and pull myself up, freeing my legs. With a growl, I smashed the two men’s heads together, shot my foot straight out behind me, taking another one in the throat. The three who had held me down were just getting to their feet, and I exploded on them. Kicking one of them in the face, I spun around and back handed another, then kicking him hard in the side of his knee, tearing ligaments. The third, the one whose nose I had broken, charged straight at me, intent on murder. I darted under his swinging fists, picked him up, and used his momentum to slam him bodily to the ground. I rolled to my feet, searching for the last one, but he lay on the ground, staring at me in disbelief. The fire within had started to cool, and I felt no urge to hurt this man before me; the fight had gone out of him, as it had me. The two guards flanking me, I walked back into the complex.
The scientists, the ones who had created me, had watched the whole thing. They watched everything, my every move. They watch, they confer, they scribble in their notebooks. But always quietly, in the background; this time they were not so quiet. I heard them whispering as the guards and I passed by.
“That was not supposed to happen; he should not be exhibiting emotions!” hissed Dr. Blue.
“Maybe it was just a fluke, and it won’t happen again.” Dr. Green whispered back.
“I wouldn’t count on it.” Dr. Red replied, his low voice strained, tense. “I think it may be time we…”
I was unable to hear the rest, but I knew something I had done out in the courtyard had upset them. Emotion, that was what they said. Exhibiting emotion. That is what I had felt, the fire inside. And the scientists did not like it, even though I had defeated all my opponents. Why was I not supposed to feel emotion? I put it out of my mind. If the scientists wanted me to know, they would tell me later.
The guards locked me back in my room, the light extinguished. I lay down on my bed, my thoughts running through the events of the day. My mind finally gave way to my bodies weariness, and I slipped into sleep. The faint scent of almonds roused me from my slumber, and a soft hissing sound brought about complete awareness. My breathing became labored as the gas infiltrated my body, retarding my motor skills and dulling my mental processes. I felt fear for the first time that day, fear of death, fear of what lay next, and panic almost over took me. Then I did what I was bred to do; I fought for my survival. With one long exhalation, I emptied my lungs, then fought the urge to breath for the next five minutes.
I felt strength slowly return to my limbs, and my mind became focused again. When they finally shut the gas off and sucked the excess back out of the room, I had to restrain myself from refilling my lungs with one long noise some gasp. I took air back into my system a little at a time, so when the guards arrived to carry out my corpse, they would expect nothing more than a dead man laying on his cot. If I had been a normal person, that is exactly what they would have found. They entered a few moments later, dragging me off my bed and out of the room.
“Why do you think they wanted him dead?” the one on the right queried.
The one on the left grunted. “Not my job ta know. All I know is, we gotta take him to the lab; the scientists will take it from there.”
“Man, those dudes creep me out, playing God and all. Why make the guy, put him through all that training, and then just kill him? Just doesn’t make sense.”
“Like I said, it ain’t my job ta know. Let’s just get this done so we can hit the bar.”
“I’m with you on that one.”
Iron Will: standard (rank 1)
Life outside quickly proved to be as brutal as inside; I was a stranger in a world I had no experience with. I soon learned that food and clothing and even shelter were not a given; they had to be paid for. I had no skills, no training outside of battle; for the first time in my short life, I did not know what to do. I was bombarded by emotions; hopelessness, sorrow, anger, fear. I was suddenly acutely aware of my own mortality, and, trembling I collapsed in a nearby alley, weeping uncontrollably. I probably would have lost my wits and my will to live right there, if it had not been for the little girl.
The girl, Holly was her name, knelt down by my side, gently took my hand, and turned it face up. She placed in it a small wedge of cheese, not even a mouthful, closing my hand around it. “Don’t cry mister, it’ll be all right.” she had said, lifting one tiny hand to wipe away my tears. “You’ll see, everything will be all right.” Then she smiled, and crept back over to where her mother lay asleep on the other side of the alley, curled up beside her, and went to sleep. It was then I discovered another emotion: shame. This little girl, who had nothing but the rags on her back, who had nothing to look forward to but more cold nights in dark alleys, still had hope, knew things would be better one day. I was ashamed that I had lost all hope when it blazed in this child’s heart like a bonfire. I stood up, no longer feeling hopeless, helpless. Treading softly to where she lay, I placed the cheese in her sleeping hand, vowing I would be back to help the little girl who had nothing, but had given so much. It would be weeks later that I would learn that a woman and her daughter, Holly, had died of exposure two nights after I had left that alley.
Fuel to Fight
Kinetic Absorption: standard (rank 1)
(Links to Iron Will)
Not long after leaving that alley, I heard mention of the Arena, a place people got paid to fight. The only problem was, you had to get an invitation, and to get invited, you had to have a reputation. Making a few inquiries, I learned an excellent place to get in a fight would be a local bar. I was directed to one in a seedier part of town; the Hooded Hoodlum it was called. It was here that I learned two things: One, that I was not the only super warrior around; and Two, defeat. I had never been beaten in a fight before; it was a sensation I did not much care for. I was worked over thoroughly, and tossed out of the bar, a large one-eyed man warning me not to come back. Pushing myself to my feet, I strode resolutely back into the bar. I was able to take down two of my assailants this time before I was beaten senseless and tossed back out of the bar. I was told again to stay out by the one-eyed man, whose one eye was now turning an ugly purple-black. “Ya come in agin, we’ll keel ya!”
I did something then that I had never done before: I grinned. It must not have been a nice grin, because the one-eyed man ducked back inside, slamming the door behind him. This time, I did not even bother with the door, I simply dove through the window I had already been thrown out of twice. This time when the punches came, I hardly felt them. My body absorbed hit after hit, and I felt them less and less. I was still swinging punches when I realized there was no one left to hit; they were all either lying out on the ground, unconscious, or cowering under the tables that were left standing.
Turning to leave the bar, a small self important looking man stopped me with a gesture, holding out an envelope for me. “My master wishes you to join him at the Arena tomorrow. Within this envelope you will find an invitation, and more than enough money for a nights stay at a reputable establishment, and new clothing.” He looked me up and down before turning with a sniff. “Try to look respectable.” he said as he left. I didn’t know what he meant by a ‘reputable establishment’, or where I was going to find new clothes, but I soon learned one more thing that day: When money speaks, people pay attention. I was directed to one of the better hotels in Khazan, the staff of which included one of the cities finest tailors. I slept in a true bed that night, and was reluctant to leave it the next morning. I finally rose, donned my new clothing (fitted loosely should I find myself pressed to fight), and walked back out into the city to seek the Arena.
Know Thine Enemy
Tactician: superior (rank 2)
Being one of the largest structures in the city, it was not hard to find; I could see it’s gleaming granite dome from just outside the hotel. As I arrived, I watched as a crush of people pressed forward into the Arena, angered shouts and excited chatter filling the pillared entrance. I waited for the crowd to thin before entering myself, noticing as I did several statues aligned on either side of the marbled walkway. A bronze plaque set into one of the pillars proclaimed these to be the likenesses of the greatest warriors in the land. I studied each one, knowing some, maybe even all of these mighty men had strands of their DNA floating through me. As I entered the coliseum, I wondered if I was truly worthy of their greatness.
After climbing several sets of stairs, I finally stood before the private balcony seating of my host. I handed my invitation to a heavily muscled man in a gray black uniform. Glancing at it briefly, he held open the door, escorting me inside.
The interior was richly decorated: thick, plush carpeting; paintings of warriors in pose upon the wall; a small bar displaying a wealth of various beverages; and several thickly cushioned arm chairs setting about the room. The balcony opened up on a grand view of the Arena, sectioned off in several areas, each area set in a different style: a boggy marshland in one; city rooftops in another; a typical bar room setting beside that. Standing in front of the ledge, gleaming teeth exposed in a broad grin, was my host, Mr. Olievander Wiest.
Mr. Wiest was a giant of a man, eight foot tall, five foot wide across the shoulders, and nothing but lean, hard muscle; I had seen large men before, but he dwarfed them all. Standing beside him, every bit the height of the larger man’s pectorals, was the servant I had met the day before, looking me up and down as if to make sure I was dressed properly.
The big man engulfed my hand within his, nearly shattering the bones in my arm as he shook the appendage vigorously. “Good to meet you, my boy! Good to meet you!” His voice resonated like a thunderclap, causing several concerned spectators to stare up confusedly at the cloudless sky. “My assistant Nervall here told me about the ruckus at the Hooded Hoodlum yesterday, said you might make a fine addition to the gladiatorial pits.” I smiled politely, saying nothing. The big man looked at me intently. “Well, what’s your name boy? Where do you come from, where did you learn to fight?” I said nothing, only stared back at him patiently. There was a knowing look on his face, as though not saying a word had told him everything about me he needed to know. Then he shrugged, gesturing toward the seats. “We’ll get to all that later, boy. Go on and sit down, the fights are about to start.”
As I settled into my overly comfortable seat, a thunderous cry rose up from the crowds below as two dozen men entered the arena, each paired off against another in one of the sectioned off areas. A gong sounded from somewhere below, and the battle commenced. In the sewer setting, a man with clawed hands and a horned head charged at another creating an icy wall between them. Another pair fought within the confines of a jungle, the intervening foliage torn apart by automatic gunfire and glowing energy bolts. On the rooftops, a man robed in blue and a woman wrapped in a black cloak sat cross legged, eyes locked, their faces contorted as their mental battle raged back and forth. I watched all this distractedly, my thought on my host and what he might know. The questions he’d asked suggested he knew nothing, but that look said he knew everything, or at least suspected. I glanced inconspicuously at Olievander, who was leaning over the railing, watching the fights with fervent expectation.
I turned my attention back to the Arena, imagining myself down there, facing another like me, maybe quicker and stronger than me, or with strange powers. Would I be quick enough to counter their attacks? Smart enough to find and exploit their weaknesses? Clever enough to overcome them? I spent the next half hour imagining myself in battle with each warrior below, and the different ways I could defeat them.
When I looked back at Olievander, his coal black eyes were bearing down on me. “It has just occurred to me that I do not yet know your name, boy. Tell me, what is your name?” he spoke, his voice no longer warm and friendly. I sat there, unable to answer. “Cat got your tongue, boy? No, you would have to have a tongue for that, now wouldn‘t you?” I sprang from my chair, my host turning to face me.
“You see, Nervall; I told you this was him. Those idiot scientists did not want their creations to be able to talk back, so they engineered them without tongues. Must make eating a royal pain, eh boy?” He glared down at me, fury smoldering in his eyes. “No, not boy; your name is Genesis. The only one of your kind since you saw fit to destroy all evidence of your creation, including those poor scientists you dealt with so unkindly.” He grinned then, a humorless, feral thing. “But now that I’ve got you, we can start over, learn where we went wrong, and create my army of meta warriors. Too bad you will not be around to see it; but trust me, boy, it will be a glorious thing.” His giant hands shot forward, eager to crush my larynx.
Fight to Survive
Martial Arts: standard (rank 1)
I dropped to my knees, his hands just brushing the top of my head, and sent a flurry of punches to his solar plexus. The only acknowledgment I got for my efforts was a back handed swat that nearly tore my head off. I hit the floor hard, rolling quickly out of the way of a crushing foot stomp. With a hand spring, I was back on my feet, turning to face my opponent. He stood there staring at me with a nasty grin, lazily stretching out his arms and legs. “You’re good, boy. Real good. Trained by the best of the best.” He laughed then, harsh and cold. “I ought to know; I trained them. It’s too bad I gotta kill you now. You would’ve done real good in the pits.” He bowed mockingly, then sprang forward, a massive predator falling on his prey.
Except I wasn’t there anymore. I was already moving when he launched his attack, rolling smoothly to one side. I got to my feet just as he came down heavily on one of his own chairs, his left arm pinned beneath him, elbow stuck up in the air. In the split second before he could right himself, I jumped forward, kicking out at his elbow with everything I had, and rent his shoulder from it’s socket. He recovered much quicker than I expected as, with a howl of rage he gripped the chair one handed, swung it around his back, and flung it at me. I dove backwards, trying to lessen the impact, but I still felt a couple of my ribs crack as it slammed into me, bearing me to the floor. Olievander was on me in a second, grabbing me by the leg and tossing me into the wall. Everything went white as my head hit the granite wall with a crunch, and I dropped to the ground, the pain blazing through my chest and head. I took hold of myself, pushing the pain back into a deep dark corner of my mind, and locking it away.
Super Speed: standard (rank 1)
(Linked to Martial Arts)
I opened my eyes to find Olievander standing before me, swinging a slab of wood from the ruined chair down at me. I rolled to the right, pushing myself up into a crouch as I did, only to find he had changed the direction of his swing as I rolled away. His make shift club caught the top of my head as I ducked beneath it, sending fresh jolts of pain through my skull. I was holding back the pain, but it was only a matter of time before my body gave out. I had to end this. Now.
Before he could attack again, I leapt up, kicking myself off from the wall, and drove a knee into Olievander’s throat. Gasping, he dropped the club, reaching up to grab me, but I used my momentum to swing around his head, landing on the floor behind him. Moving faster than I ever have, I dropped to my knees, and began to pummel the side of his knee with punch after punch. I tendons giving way, but not enough to bring him down. He brought his hand around, trying to swat me away, but I had already ducked between his legs. Putting all my energy into one more attack, I kicked out, smashing my foot into his knee, and heard the giant bellow as it finally gave way.
I dove to one side as he fell to his knees, then to his belly as his injured limbs could not support him. It was finished.
“Master,” Olievander spluttered, his face pale as snow. “Master, I have done as you commanded.”
I looked around, seeing only the servant, Nervall. I saw the amusement in his eyes, and I understood. I had been deceived, tricked into battling the minion as the master stood back and watched.
“Ah, I see you have puzzled it out.” spoke the smaller man, walking over to stand before the giant. “Yes, I am Olievander Wiest, and this wretch on the floor is my bodyguard, Nervall. A good man, quite faithful, but tends to think more with his fists than his head.”
I felt my knees weaken, the pain I had blocked out creeping back in. I didn’t understand; what was it for? Why all the deception? Why hadn’t he just killed me while I was preoccupied with Nervall? I dropped to one knee, fighting back the blackness that threatened to envelope me.
Olievander smiled, a fatherly smile for an inquisitive son. “I see the questions in your eyes. Why not just kill you out right, why make you battle it out with my servant here.” He ran a hand over Nervall’s bald head. “I simply wanted to see how well our scientists had done. I would have to congratulate Drs. Wright, Deving, and Corben, or as you knew them, Red, Blue, and Green, but it seems you have made that impossible.” He was still smiling, but now it took on a more sinister cast, a bully eager to dole out more punishment.
“I commend you for the fine work you did wiping out all trace of our work there; when the authorities went to investigate, they found nothing to make them suspicious. Nothing happens in my installations without my knowing about it. Even as you were leaving, my men were inside cleaning up the remains of those poor scientists, eliminating all trace of their ever being there. You had already taken care of the rest, so there was little left to give away our little secret.”
He paused for a moment, a smug look on his face. “Since you will not be with us for much longer, I will let you in on something. I did not get where I am today by being a stupid man; I never keep all my eggs in one basket. All the scientists in my employ, and I have many, are split up into three man cells. Each cell is autonomous, each working on another project. These cells are isolated across the world, and none of them has access to any of the others; they know there are others out there, but do not know who or where they are. Any information logged into their computers is copied and stored at a remote location, so if something happens to one cell, another can take up where they left off. Project Meta-warrior, of which you were the first, happens to be priority number one. When you killed cell 5, that store information was immediately sent to another cell, who is at this moment, is trying to solve the problem of emotions popping up in our soldiers. So you see, your little fire did us a great favor, but did nothing to stop our progress.”
I fell back against the wall, my mind overwhelmed by what he’d told me, and the futility of trying to stop it.
Olievander walked toward me, pulling a slim hand gun from his inside pocket. “I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but you are a complication I do not need.” He pointed the gun at my head. “I’m afraid this is your Exodus, Genesis.” and he pulled the trigger.
Snapping my head to one side, the bullet grazing my left ear, I grasped his hand and bent it back. Hard. I heard the fragile bones in his wrist snap, and he drop the gun with a groan.
“You bastard!” he snarled, running back to Nervall, his injured arm held protectively to his chest. “Next time we meet, you will die Genesis! I promise you that!”
I picked the gun up off the floor, aiming it at him shakily. He put a hand on Nervall’s shoulder, and they began to vanish. “You will die!” I heard him say one more time as they vanished, teleporting away.
I dropped the gun, and pushed myself to my feet. I was still woozy, but I had mastered the worst of the pain, pushing it back in that deep dark corner again. I stumbled towards the door, my mind on the future. I knew I would see them again, but next time, it would be on my terms. Next time, I wouldn’t be alone. Next time, Olievander and his empire were going down.