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BOOK: Legacy Of Korr
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“I don’t know,” she said, “but you must try. We will do everything we can help you once the Queen arrives.”

“The one in the fortress?”

“Yes,” she said. Her eyes remained dim.

Noah had questions to ask, but she was in bad shape. And she didn’t hide it.

“I need to rest,” Shara said, her voice soft.

“I understand.” He left the wing. She wouldn’t know what rest meant after what had happened to her world.

Noah needed time to process what she’d said and what she’d shown him. He walked to the kitchen and made himself a cup of coffee. He headed to an operations' area crowded with agents and scientists dedicated to the assignment. Noah walked to a stocky, bespectacled, dark-skinned man.

“Edward, you’ve been monitoring for hours, what did you find out?”

The lead scientist was nervous. To his credit, he was nervous long before this assignment. At least the scientist wasn't the only one sweating this time.

Edward cleared his throat and glanced at his hologram. “Well, Shara’s nervous system is energy-based. Whenever she experiences ‘emotion’, her energy core emits bursts of energy into her limbs. It functions as a brain and a heart. She’s somehow able to transmit those waves outside her body in the form of powerful telekinesis attacks.”

“You seem surprised.”

“I don’t think they’re born this way. It’s an enhancement.”

“How can you tell?”

Edward pointed to a graph on his hologram as if he expected Noah to know what it meant. “It’s very amplified. The level of energy she uses to control her body is miniature compared to the telekinesis energy she can generate.”

I need to speak with you and Alex.
Shara’s voice sounded in his head like a gentle whisper.

Telekinetic and telepathic. What would she do next?

Noah strode to Alex’s office. “C’mon, something is up.”

Alex followed him, without a word, to Shara’s wing.

“Thirty soldiers in a nearby house are ready to storm this building,” Shara said.

Noah’s eyebrows lifted. “Are they after you?”

Shara nodded.

“Do you know where they are?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t worry,” Noah said. “Army reinforcements are on their way. In the meantime, I will send special forces to take that team out.”

“Unless you can do that in a few minutes, they won’t arrive in time. But I can enhance Alex.”

Noah’s eyes narrowed. “Enhance?” He recalled what Edward told him. Shara wanted to enhance Alex the same way she was enhanced.

“His mind,” she said.

“I’m sorry. It doesn’t sound—”

“I will unlock the full potential of his mind. Consider it a demo of what we have planned for your army.”

Noah waved his hands. “I can’t let you do that in good conscience.”

Shara smiled. “I assure you, it’s safe.”

“It’s okay, Noah. I want to do it,” Alex said.

Noah turned to him. He looked as nervous as if was about to skydive without a parachute. “Are you sure?”

Alex nodded.

Shara approached Alex, grabbed his head with her hands, and placed her palms on his temples. Her eyes lit up in green. Alex’s, too. He gasped, and his body quivered like a leaf in a cyclone until she let go. Panting, Alex fell to his knees and stayed that way for a while before he could get up to his feet.

“Can you see them?” Shara asked.

Alex was puzzled. “No.”

“Close your eyes and search for them.”

He closed his eyes for a minute before he opened them again. They were pitch-black. “They’re close,” Alex said, his eye color returned to normal.

“Go,” Noah said, and watched him march out in confident steps. More so than usual.

“He won’t go crazy, will he?”

Shara smiled and shook her head.

An agent showed up at the door. “Sir, the Director wants to have a word.”

“I’ll be there in a minute,” Noah said and swung around to speak to Shara. “I have to go. Are you comfortable here?”

“I would like a tablet.”

“You got it.”

Noah stepped out and navigated his way to Matt’s office. “You wanted to see me?”

Matt’s face was red. “What the hell were you thinking?”

Even with the red warning sign, Noah was taken by his strong reaction. Matt wasn’t one to lose his temper, and the handful of times he did, he concealed it well.

“Excuse me?”

“How can you allow her to experiment on one of our agents?”

“I made a call, and Alex agreed.”

Matt’s face was about to explode and paint the room red. “Yes, you did. A bad one. Just like you did five years ago.”

Noah’s nostrils flared and his lips trembled. “Trust is earned.”

“Thirty soldiers are not a threat to our national security. There are many ways to handle the situation, and none of them involve changing the brain wiring of our agents. You’re reckless.”

Noah took a deep breath, trying to control his anger. “It’s not about the soldiers. It’s about Shara. How much faith we have in her ability, and how much we trust her intentions. If I’d refused, it would’ve done irreparable damage to whatever rapport we established.”

“I know why you did it, but there are lines you don’t cross. You used your ‘get out of jail free card’ on this one.”

Noah nodded. He no longer had autonomy. He’d be under the magnifying glass from this moment forward. Trust was fragile, easy to break and hard to restore. Noah showed himself out, wondering if he’d made the right decision.

*****

Shara

 

December 21, 2030

Alex arrived at the quiet, two-story house—a few blocks away from the ASIO headquarters—and parked his car. His mind was sharp, active, and able to see beyond what his eyes saw. The more he focused, the further he could see. His body was fit and strong. Alex felt the way he did after a good gym session but amplified tenfold.

Too much movement inside the house. The extraction team were ready to mobilize, and he had to interrupt them. Alex walked through the open gate to the inside door. A few gentle knocks did the trick. They were startled, at first. He heard whispers, then the sound of their feet, rushing upstairs in rehearsed steps.

“Just a sec,” someone said.

The door opened, and a man wearing shorts and a T-shirt greeted him with a smile. “Can I help—”

Alex lifted his hand and pushed it forward. At the same time, he willed his mind. An overwhelming power ignited and flowed inside his head. He guided it to strike where his hand aimed.

A telekinesis wave, his first.

Pressure pushed the man’s body through the living area until he hit the small kitchen. Alex moved in a blazing speed. He covered the distance between them in two seconds. Alex only wanted to reach the man before he alerted his team or get to a weapon, but his legs moved with an incredible speed. He punched the man in the jaw and rendered him unconscious.

The ruckus enticed nervous feet movements upstairs and more whispers. He’d give them all the time they needed. Alex walked past the body to the stove as if nothing happened, and to his delight, a teakettle was on the stove.

Well, this rules out Americans.

He recalled the looks Americans gave him when he’d ordered green tea in Starbucks in the US, even though it was an item on the menu. Alex felt as if he’d used Russian kerosene and Chinese matches to burn the American flag in the middle of the store.

Alex poured himself a cup of tea and added a spoon of sugar. Australians were the only people he knew who drank coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon, or vice versa. The place was as quiet as a haunted house, but he knew it was a fake facade. Alex took his tea to the living area and sat down on the couch and switched on the TV.

A game of soccer was on. His parents pushed him to play soccer growing up because it was safer than footie. The guys in his old army unit suggested a pickup game—for bonding—which made him fantasize about having more fists, so he could punch them all at the same time. Maybe Shara could help him turn that beautiful dream into reality.

“Stand up, turn around. Don’t do anything stupid.” A cold, commanding voice with a thick accent came from behind him from the direction of the staircase.

Alex was relieved. He put the teacup down on the coffee table and stood up. With a calm smile on his face, he turned around. The extraction team surrounded him.

With his hands lifted in the air, he looked at thirty armed soldiers ready to tear him a new one. Alex was in a tough spot, but he wasn’t afraid. He could feel so much power inside him. He could run into the house, smash through the walls, and come out on the other side, unscathed. A part of him wanted to fight, to put his powers to the test, and the rest of him agreed.

“Is this about the tea?”

“Quiet,” a soldier said.

“Who are you, and what are you doing here?” The team Captain asked.

With the same confident smile on his face, Alex lowered his hands. “I’m your official tour guide. Today we’re going on a walkabout.”

The Captain’s eyebrows rose with a brief look of surprise that was replaced by one of anger. He realized they no longer had the element of surprise. The Captain picked up his phone and dialed a number.

“Sir, the Agency knows we’re here,” the Captain said on the phone. “They sent an intelligence agent to eliminate us.”

“One agent?” A surprised voice, with a thicker accent answered the Captain.

Alex smiled. “They’re not allowed to cut the agents in half any more. Human-rights thing – don’t ask.” He was killing it today. Shara enhanced his jokes, too.

Delegations continued on the phone for a while. Alex wondered how they mobilize a decent extraction team on a short notice?

Seconds before he died of boredom, the voice came through. “Kill him and carry on with the mission.”

“Yes, sir,” the Captain said. The call ended, and he swung around to face Alex. “Sorry funny man!”

He pulled the trigger.

Alex lifted his hand in a defensive motion, and the bullet stopped midair. His thoughts became a wall that held the bullet still.

He pushed his palm forward and down. The bullet changed course to hit the Captain in the foot. To add insult to the injury, Alex punched him in the nose.

Just like his mind, Alex’s muscles were in overdrive. His blood was pumping, and his brain handled everything with ease, and with excess capacity to solve the world’s theoretical physics dilemmas. He was on fire.

He moved between the soldiers. Alex pushed the last soldier in the chest with open palm. The man flew to the wall behind him and dropped unconscious. The rest of the team spun around, retreated to formation, and stepped back. In a coordinated motion, they fired their weapons.

Alex raised his palms and stopped their bullets before they reached him. He lowered his hands, and the bullets dropped to the ground. Then he dashed between the soldiers. With his speed, they were sitting ducks. He hit his target, and they missed theirs every time. Alex took them out, one at a time. He was there in their faces, pushing them, lifting their bodies, and smashing them against the walls and against each other.

Within a minute, the entire team lay on the floor unconscious except for the Captain who watched in disbelief. A small pool of blood around his foot. “How did you…?”

“The alien,” Alex said. “The one you came here to capture. She gave me these powers like this enhanced speed, telekinesis, and a few mind tricks. Believe me, I did you a favor. If she’d been here, she would’ve massacred your team in the blink of an eye.” He winked at the Captain. “She is better looking though!”

Alex walked back to the couch to grab his cup of tea. Nice, still warm.

The Captain wiped the blood off his nose. “You think we’re lucky? I wish I can say the same to you. You would’ve been lucky if our mission had been successful. My people will keep coming. They will hit harder and harder until you break.”

Alex took a long sip of the warm tea. “Do your worst.”

“You can’t hoard the aliens. You can’t deny everyone else access. And you can’t fight the rest of the world,” the Captain said, waving his fist in Alex’s face.

“We can try.”

The Captain reached a small gun strapped to his ankle. He pulled it and aimed at Alex. Before his finger squeezed the trigger, Alex pushed his left palm down. The Captain’s head banged against the wooden floor.

“Thanks for the tea,” Alex said and threw a small, button-looking device on the ground. If they recovered consciousness, they’d be paralyzed until the agents deactivated the effect.

As he left the house, he called Noah. “I’m done, send extraction.”

“Good work!” Noah’s voice came through. “I’m at the bar across the Agency.”

“At nine thirty in the morning? Picked up a habit, have we?”

Noah Chuckled. “I’m having breakfast.”

“All right, I’ll have
breakfast
, too.”

The drive was short. When he arrived, Alex walked straight to the bar where Noah, the only customer, was chatting with the old bartender. Alex pulled a seat next to him.

Noah tilted his head and winked. “I thought you’d fly here.”

Alex’s smile widened. He ordered himself a Big Breakfast and a coffee. It had been a weird twenty-four hours, but there he was, having breakfast with Noah like nothing had changed.

A quick glance at Noah told him something was wrong. He was staring at his empty coffee—silent as a statue which was typical for Matt but not Noah. Noah always found a philosophical subject or a topic of the day to discuss, many subjects if he was sleep-deprived or had too much coffee. He could go on for hours. This morning, Noah tried to say something, but he couldn’t find the words.

“I’m sorry!”

The words took Alex off guard. Noah never apologized. As in never. One time Alex was almost shot when Noah sent him to the wrong room by mistake on an assignment. All he got was ‘gotta work on your reflexes, kid’.

“Is my wife okay?”

Noah’s breakfast arrived. He thanked the waiter and cut his delicious-looking sausages into small, juicy pieces. “I was wrong to let Shara manipulate your brain today to keep my assignment intact.”

“Don’t be. The enhancement is the best thing that’s happened to me. Don’t tell my wife I said that. She’ll insist our wedding should be the best thing, and I don’t have money for jewelry.”

Noah shoved a piece of sausage and a large mushroom in his mouth. “There is something else.”

The aroma of the sausages made him salivate. Alex took another sip of his coffee and cursed Noah under his tongue.

“What is it?”

Noah waited until the bartender disappeared into the kitchen. “We’re monitoring for the Queen’s arrival, and I want you on the ship with Shara, ready for take-off when she does.”

Alex raised his eyebrows. “I thought you’d fight me for the honor, not that you’d win.”

Noah moved to the grilled tomato, Alex’s favorite. “I can’t leave Canberra. There is something that requires my undivided attention.”

“You mean, how they found out about Shara?”

Noah chewed his food. “I notified the Egyptian Intelligence Agency. Also, the CIA team is here, and I want one of them aboard the ship with you. It’s easier than bringing them up to speed after the fact.”

Alex smiled impishly. He knew his boss wasn’t ready to discuss the rotten egg in the ASIO fridge. “The CIA called in a favor, didn’t they?”

Noah cleaned his plate. “You’re worse than Matt.”

“Is he giving you a hard time?”

“Yeah,” Noah said, “and, seeing how you’re taking your time here, I’m sure it will happen again.”

Alex glared at him. “What do you want me to do? Go to the kitchen and punch the chef?”

Noah smiled. “I’ll schedule you for a psych eval.”

*****

Jane looked through the window of the SUV—last year’s model, a 2029 Land Rover in all its towering, hulking, three-axled glory. From her vantage point, four feet above the shifting and blowing sands of the Egyptian desert, she could see no lights in any direction. The quiet hum of the SUV and the baseball-glove smell of the new leather were the only comforts as the sun went down. There would have been hot chocolate at the hotel at Luxor – if they could find it.

When. When they find it. Not if. 

“Paul, we’re lost.”

“We are not lost.” He pointed to his left, and his finger tapped the glass like the beak of a hungry bird rummaging through foliage. “Luxor is this way. I’m sure of it. But I’m thinking we need to wait for daylight. Once we find the Nile, we make a left. And I sure as hell don’t want to drive into the river in the dark.”

“It’s okay, baby,” his voice continued, cool and level. “We can’t miss it.” He ceased his tapping and flicked a blunt nail against the compass, which was still showing NORTH no matter which way they turned. He punched the brushed-metal dashboard. 

Still NORTH.

The sun was falling behind the small hill ahead, and the sky turned crimson, giving the landscape a bloody look that matched her hair color. It would’ve been romantic from her hotel balcony, but given their tough situation, the prospect of complete darkness made her nervous.

Even for Paul, this was a new one. She didn’t think they could top their honeymoon in Ecuador. Paul’s brilliant idea to “live” the Amazon by booking an adventure trip in which they’d have the “luxury” of parachuting in at the Peruvian border and then hitchhiking and bushwhacking 200 miles to a five-star hotel in Quinto. They’d lived the hell out of the Amazon, all right.

As much as it made her crazy, she loved him for it. 

“I have an idea,” Paul said and exited the car.

She glanced at the hot air vent and the precious warmth it pushed into her hands and face. “Are you sure it’s wise to leave the car? The night is cold, and there are cobras and scorpions everywhere.”

He pointed to the small hill. “We need to get to a higher vantage point. We might spot a landmark, or even better, the city lights.”

Jane hesitated for two seconds before she followed him into the cold desert. They reached the flat side of the hill. She climbed after Paul until they got to the flattish top. Paul’s shoulders slumped, and he breathed out in frustration. He picked up his phone and switched it on, hoping to find coverage. They’d kept their phones off and had switched them on only when they needed to check for network. The screen came alive with a short, monotonous sound. She craned her neck and peeked at the bright screen. As she expected, no reception.

She felt something moving under her feet. Under the dim moonlight, the yellow sand turned bright green, and with a hissing sound, it slipped forward and formed a long tentacle that lunged toward her husband. He fell. Jane screamed and grabbed his hand and helped him to his feet. They ran to the car as if they were being chased by flesh eating monsters. All she could hear was heavy breathing. It could’ve been his. It could’ve been hers.

BOOK: Legacy Of Korr
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