Have Violent Ends



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sf_arthur_icon.gif sf_verse_icon.gif

Scene Title Have Violent Ends
Synopsis Every choice has a consequence.
Date February 25, 2021

Sixty seven miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada down a dirt road off of Kane Springs Rd is a stretch of barren desert pock-marked by scrub vegetation and loose rocks. Under a sun that bleaches the salt flats a near white coloration is a single, armless wooden chair painted a sunflower yellow, sitting in that vacant space. A pair of colorful nylon dugglebags, one pink and the other a seafoam green, sit across from the chair.

From down the desert road a lone man approaches the chair and bags. A broad-shouldered man with salt and pepper stubble and bleached blonde hair, tired eyes, and a loaded handgun. He tucks the sidearm into an underarm holster and takes a knee beside the chair, setting down a black hardshell case. Then, after checking his watch, he settles down in the chair and folds his hands in his lap.

And he waits.

67 Miles Northeast of Las Vegas

February 25th
12:06 pm Local Time

Colin Verse watches the desert wind play at the thin nylon fabric of the bags in front of him. Neither bag moves from its place in spite of the strong breeze today, their contents are too heavy to budge. Checking his watch again, Colin remarks at how far the shadows have crept across the salt flats and how much they line up with the position of the hour hand on his analog watch. But right on time, four dark shapes are moving down the desert toward him. Men in suits.

Colin Rises, unholstering his sidearm and keeping it held in a gloved hand as he moves from the chair to meet the arrivals partway. The first two men are faceless — literally faceless — figures draped in nylon jackets with ball caps shadowing their waxy, featureless heads. Each one carries a bag with a power supply and a cord-tethered scanning wand. Colin holds his arms out to the side as one of the faceless men waves him down with the wand and another gingerly disarms him of his sidearm and pats him down.

Once the faceless security is certain Colin isn’t whatever threat they imagine he may have been, then step back and to the side allowing two better-dressed men to approach. One of the men is tall, learn, and young with a square jaw and narrow eyes. Colin recognizes his brother’s face, but Steven Verse offers no brotherly love to Colin. Just cold recognition. The other man — though older, shorter, thicker in the middle — is at once more terrifying.

Arthur Petrelli does not need a gun to scare Colin, and worse, Colin knows the gun won’t do a goddamn thing if Arthur loses his cool today.

Mister Verse,” Arthur says to Colin on approach, “what the fuck is going on?”

“Boys.” Colin greets the pair, holding his arms out to the side in a slight shrug. “I wish I had a good answer for you, but I don’t.”

“We’ll settle for a shitty one,” Steven says with a jut of his chin toward his brother. Arthur glances at the other Verse and gently taps the back of his hand against his chest, then looks back to Colin.

“Colin. OPTICA has detected anomalous activity in New York. Threateningly high levels of non-compliance.” Arthur tilted his head to the side, brows pinched together in a contempt furrow. “You said that the implant systems would suppress this genetic deviance outside of control cases. What happened?”

Colin puffs out his cheeks and sighs, waving his arms from side to side like a toddler at preschool trying to come up with a good explanation for who ate all the snacks that isn’t “I did.”

“Well,” Colin stalls for time with a heavy pause, “OPTICA isn’t omniscient, things slip through the cracks. Obviously we have some sort of cascading—”

“Some sort?” Steven interjects. “You don’t even know what kind of—”

It’s complicated,” Colin stresses with a casual brandishing of a loaded firearm. “Do you two have to look like—”

“Uncomplicate it for us, Colin,” is Arthur’s directive. Colin tenses, paces in a circle, and kicks at the dirt.

“The initial anomaly, Tetsuzan Asami?” Colin says, looking back and forth at the two until they show recognition. “She’s not what you’d call a standard anomaly. Her capabilities aren’t uh, binary?” He motions to Arthur. “They’re a multi-faceted anomaly with—”

“You’re saying she’s a fractal?” Arthur narrows his eyes in both disgust and disbelief. “Her?

Colin sputters in a sigh and shrugs. “That’s—my best guess. But it’s more than that. She’s what uh, what I’d call a force-multiplying fractal, something viral.” He wobbles one hand from side to side, not settled on the terminology. “She’s infecting others and turning them non-compliant, by my best guess, and each time she does it fucks with OPTICA’s prediction models and they fall off our behavioral mapping tables because OPTICA can’t predict what they are.”

“So they’re blind spots to us?” Steven starts piecing the problem together. “Where are they?”

Well…” Colin says through clenched teeth, “…that’s the other problem. OPTICA has to build new predictive models based off of their absence and start tracking them kind of like, uh, you know how you look for a planet in another galaxy through a telescope? You wait for it to eclipse some stars and then you follow the shadow.”

“We don’t track the raindrops, we track the ripples.” Arthur uses a different, cleaner metaphor. Colin shrugs and nods in the same helpless gesture.

“Sure, whatever. Yes. But that’s going to take time.” Colin insists.

Steven steps closer, looking down at his brother. “You don’t have much of that left. If this viral infection gets out of control, if Asami keeps spreading it, what will the infection rate look like within… say this time next year?”

Colin looks between Steven and Arthur, then to the ground, and takes a step back. “I’d say, ballpark? Ninety percent infection.” He grimaces. “Across the board.”

Steven and Arthur are dumbstruck by the figure, and Arthur refuses to believe it. “How?” He practically barks out.

“A fraction of the non-compliants she awakens might wind up like her. Which means they can wake up some of their friends, and so on, and so on, like a fucking pandemic.” Colin explains, exasperatedly. “Even if we get Asami tomorrow, which we’re not going to, that’s a lot of potential damage control.”

Steven looks to Arthur, then over to Colin. “How did Asami get past our countermeasures at the Linderman Building when we detected this?”

“It’s in my report.” Colin says with a wave of his hands in the air. “The report I sent out fucking months ago.”

“How are we solving this?” Arthur asks, only then noticing the nylon bags. Colin follows Arthur’s eye line, then looks back. He holds up an index finger on each hand, and creeps away from Arthur to the pink bag, bends down, and starts to unzip it.

“I put together something in my spare time.” Colin says as he reveals a matte black piece of hardware that fills the bag. He opens a panel on its flank, flips two switches, and as he is shutting the panel the machine is humming to life. It floats up into the air on five burning thrusters, then irises open a monocular red eye.

“SV-01,” Colin says as the drone takes to the air, “codenamed Shrike. An OPTICA-Synced weapons platform.” Colin takes a step back and the drone pivots around, wobbles, and then hovers in place. “Automated, sixteen hour battery life with parasitic recharging system. I’ve got another one in that bag, and we’re going to let the little doggies run wild.”

“What do they do?” Steven asks with a squint.

Colin claps his hands, makes two gunhands, and the drone’s lower half opens to reveal a pair of light machine guns. “They fucking kill things. Objective is find and quarantine, but if they get the opportunity and find Asami? Pop, right in the cranium.”

“Why two?” Arthur asks with a motion to the bags. “Why not a hundred?”

“Why not ten million?” Colin asks sarcastically. It doesn’t land well. He sees Arthur’s stoic expression and grimaces. “Budget, fabrication time, and they aren’t even field tested yet. These weren’t supposed to go online until next year so— please bear with me? They should be able to start sweeping anomalous zones by tomorrow, tirelessly. We grid out the local area, build a predictive model of Asami’s movement, and we close the net on her.”

“How long will it take?” Steven wonders.

“To cover all of the city? Maybe a couple months, tops?” Colin claps his hands together. “We need boots on the ground to uh, support this, obviously.”

“Obviously.” Arthur says with a look to the yellow painted chair, then back to Colin. “Stay in touch, Mr. Verse. Maybe you’ll earn your way out of…” He looks around and rolls his eyes, “Vegas one of these days.”

“You’re too kind Mister Petr—” Colin is cut off as both Arthur and Steven vanish in a crackling distortion of light and sound. He deflates in their absence, stumbles to the side and takes a seat in the chair again.

Colin groans, scrubbing a hand up and down his face. He stares into the salt flats around him, watching as porous holes begin to form in it like coral rot. He continues to stare in abject silence, even as the world fades away around him.

Into nothing.

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