I hate God's War. It's terrible. But the idea of the cyborgs getting psionic power upgrades fascinates me and has far too much potential to waste on such a bad story. So, I took it and this is the result.
Albert walked into the kitchen to find Jet already up, eating a bowl of cereal while Chang made a more substantial breakfast.
The fact that the younger cyborg was awake was unusual enough. It wasn’t half as strange as the fact that he was sitting, upside-down and crosslegged, on the ceiling, carefully balancing his bowl right-side up.
"What…?""We’re waiting for everyone to wake up," Chang said, already turning to hand Albert a plate of jiaozi. "I think we all have some things to talk about."
Dr. Gilmore closed Albert’s arm up, shaking his head. “There’s nothing wrong with your systems, 004. You’re positive it’s not a phantom pain?”
"Positive." Albert twisted his arm slowly, letting out a wince at the sharp ache. "It’s just the forearm hurting, not the entire limb."
"Hmph." Albert stifled a smile at Dr. Gilmore’s expression; the scientist just continued to glare at Albert’s arm, baffled and annoyed at the mystery. "I’ll look into it. Right now, I’ll fix that dent."
Dent? Albert twisted his arm again and indeed found a small dent down near his elbow. Carefully, he prodded it and flinched. Then froze. He pressed at it again, expecting the pain this time; it pulled up old memories of childhood bruises and skinned knees. He half expected to see shades of purple decorating the metal.
"Doctor, that’s it."
Junior’s breath hung in the air as he walked back to the house; purposefully blowing out puffs of fog was amusing for a minute of so before the cold distracted him again, and he sped his steps. It was days like this that he missed the Arizona sun.
Getting inside was a relief. He sighed as he shut the door, reveling in the warmth, before movement on the stairs caught his attention.
A small dragon, its body made entirely of fire, stared back at him from where it was draped over the banister. The stare off continued for half a minute before the dragon snorted and set its head down in a clear dismissal. Junior studied it – it wasn’t burning anything despite the heat it was emanating and the flames licking over the wood – before calling for the most likely person responsible.
“In the living room.”
Chang was indeed in the living room, relaxing on the couch nearest the door with his pipe and another fire dragon. This one bounced up as soon as Junior entered the room, peering curiously over the back of the couch. He carefully offered his hand; it gave every appearance of sniffing him before headbutting his hand in a clear request for scritches. “Do I want to know?”
“I was thinking it would be nice to have a pet again,” Chang explained, the wisps of smoke escaping the corners of his mouth curling into miniature dragons before dissipating.
“And then dragons?”
“And then dragons.”
"Sorry!" Francoise pulled the comb away before Jet could reach back. "I found the tangle."
"No shi…" He trailed off when he looked over his shoulder, catching Francoise’s even look.
"You used your one curse already." She nudged his head forward again and carded her fingers through his hair. As carefully as she could, she tugged the small snarl of hair and fiber optics apart.
"I’m almost done." She pulled the last fiber optic free, then went back to running her hand through his hair. Jet relaxed gradually until he was leaning back into her hand, eyes shut.
"Penny for your thoughts."
GB jerked in surprise at the voice, half in his ears and half in his head, and looked up from his tea. Across the table sat a short, white haired teenager, a lollypop stick tucked between his lips. “Ivan?”
The teen grinned. “I’m working on different projections. It would be nice to be able to go out in public with you guys without being carried around.” the grin faded. “You’re on the verge of being maudlin.”
"Yes, well…" GB looked back down at his mug, tipping it and watching the dark liquid flow up the side. "I suppose I’m feeling a bit left out. Everyone else has been developing their powers, and I," GB laughed a little. "Well, I guess I’ve hit a wall."
Ivan stared at him for a moment, his eyes gleaming slightly, before he asked, “Are you familiar with the square-cube law?”
"Yes, that’s…" GB dug through his old lessons, pulling up dusty memories of his O levels. "When an object doubles in size, its volume quadruples."
"And its mass. When you grow to be three stories tall, where does your extra mass come from?"
GB considered the question. Whenever he changed size - larger or smaller, it didn’t matter which - it always seemed right to focus on weight in his head, so that he could move correctly once he had the shape right. When he felt he had the proper weight, he didn’t particularly worry about the ‘how’. “Huh.”
"It’s possible that you tapped into your powers right at the start. Anything for your craft, right?"
Jet stumbled, his shoulder slamming into the side of the building. Joe pressed close to his side, blocking him from the crowd on the sidewalk, mouthing questions that Francoise couldn’t hear; she was too focused, her vision tunneling on the way Jet was clawing at his head, nails digging into ashen skin. He opened his mouth and—
—Francoise woke up, Jet’s scream echoing in her ears.
She blinked up at the ceiling, her breath coming in sharp pants, before she pushed up onto her elbows and stared through the wall. Two rooms down, on the other side of Junior’s room, was Jet and Pyunma’s room. Thankfully, they were asleep. No sign of Jet being in trouble, of him being in pain.
She laid back down, unease curling behind her stomach.
Metal clattered across the tabletop. “How many was that?”
Albert rubbed his forehead. “Jet…”
“Hey, you’re the one who said we should keep track of this stuff.”
Which was true. Back when they’d stopped being able to pass off their developing abilities as just another aspect of their cybernetics, he’d said they should keep track of what they could do, so they none of them would be caught by surprise. But at the time, it had only been Jet casually disregarding gravity, Chang letting fire dance across his hands, GB… being GB. He hadn’t let himself consider whether he’d develop any new abilities of his own.
Now, feeling every impact of the nine bullets as Jet dropped them on the table again and the presence of the fifteen sitting on the kitchen counter, Albert knew he would never be that lucky.
“Would you stop doing that?” he ground out. The impacts stopped. “Thank you.”
After a long pause, Jet, sounding uneasy, said, “Uh, Al?”
Albert turned around. The bullets hovered a few centimeters in the air. So did the box of bullets. And a half-full mug of tea, a bowl of apples, and a newspaper that had been sitting on the counter.
Albert swallowed heavily, and everything dropped.
You have been very interesting.
The faint shift of energy in the air was the only warning Junior had before the voice growled through his mind. His meditation interrupted, he let his eyes slide open. An electric blue, mostly feline creature padded into the glade, the air around it turning faintly fuzzy.
“It’s only been a few years,” he said, tensing. If it decided to continue the fight from last time…
It has, it agreed, sitting down and flicking its tale once. It’s not yet time to take action again. I can be patient.
It bared its teeth, only the light of its eyes giving any hint that it was amusement and not a threat. And you have been changing.
Relief that the creature wasn’t attempting to teach humanity any more lessons mixed with discomfort that it had been watching them closely enough to notice. “You’ve been watching us?”
I see everything that happens, it said, almost dismissively. And it has been some time since I’ve seen so many grow into their potential at once. And certainly never like you have.
Junior let out a slow breath, resisting the urge to squeeze his hands into fists. “Then what’s happening to us has happened before? Please, tell me…”
Every living being is born with some of my energy. It stood again and stretched, it’s movements just off from being catlike. Sometimes, some are able to tap into it. It turned, not so much disappearing back into the trees as fading into the air as it walked away. Your humanity may be your greatest strength in more than one way, cyborg.
(Psiborg tumblr tag)