Author Note: I know, I've placed this up rather quickly, but what can I say, I'm eager to know what you guys think! I should warn you guys though, this chapter is more of an explanation of what our dear heroine has found herself in. So, please be patient and bare with me - I promise the action will come! And so, without further ado: Chapter 1! Also, be aware, I enjoy reviews and constructive criticism - I love to know how to improve my writing and presentation of the story! Thanks! Peace. Out.
Chapter 1 – Rebirth
Natalie slowly opened her eyes. She blinked several times, trying to rid herself of the blurry images that appeared before her. Her body throbbed constantly as she tried to assess what had happened to her. She grimaced as she tried to adjust herself in the bed in which she laid.
"What…" She tried to speak, but even that hurt too much.
"Natalie?" A voice beside her spoke out with earnest.
Natalie didn't recognize it, but she tried to turn her head in search of the voice. "Ow…" She managed to say as she turned her head to her left. Her eyes burned from the lighting in the room, but after a moment or two, the room seemed to grow dimmer and she was able to see, not clearly, but she was able to see nonetheless. Her eyes meet the eyes of a young man sitting in a chair next to her.
"Nat?" The young man smiled at her in disbelief and surprise.
Natalie squinted as she tried to see the man before her more clearly. She didn't know the face, but somehow, the eyes that stared back at her looked very familiar.
"Where am I?" she managed to say.
"You're at a medical facility."
"Who are you?"
The youth looked at the floor painfully. "Natalie…it's me…Dylan."
"What?" Natalie stared at the boy in shock. "What?"
Five minutes later…
"Natalie…calm down, please." Scott and another man had rushed into the room after Dylan had screamed that Natalie had awakened. To their relief and surprise, Natalie was indeed awake…but she was hyperventilating as well.
"Calm down? You're asking me to calm down? I wake up and this guy is telling me he's Dylan, my younger brother! This is a joke! And a mean one at that!"
"It isn't a joke." Dylan and Scott replied in unison.
"Natalie, you must calm down." The unknown man beside her brothers spoke out gently, but sternly.
"The heck I will! I want an explanation!" She shrieked.
"Nat…look at me!" Dylan rushed to her sister's side and held her head in his hands as he pulled her close to his face. "Look at me."
Natalie struggled against the boy, but as she did, he only tried harder. She finally looked at him.
"It's me." Dylan's eyes glistened with tears.
Natalie looked at Dylan intently. The facial features resembled her younger brother, especially his eyes. She relaxed quietly as she looked at her brother's face.
"It is you."
Dylan made a small smile.
"What happened?" Natalie asked as she looked at Scott, who she now noticed looked older and battered. "What's going on? Where are mom and dad?"
The three men in the room exchanged glances. Finally, Scott deemed himself as the explainer.
"Natalie. You've been in a coma for almost ten years now."
Natalie stared at him, completely speechless.
"I know that it's hard to believe, but it's true." Scott continued.
"No…this is a dream…it has to be…" Natalie whispered.
"This is no dream, believe me, I want it so much to be so, but I'm afraid its not."
"What happened? How did I get into a coma? Where are mom and dad?"
Scott sighed heavily. "To explain that, I have to explain events that occurred before your coma."
Natalie stared at her brothers, unable to comprehend that she had been in a coma for ten years.
The only lighting in the cold, dank, room came from a small light fixture about his head. He could barely see, let alone breathe. A shadow passed before his eyes as it drew toward a small table that contained several metal instruments. The shadow glazed his figures over his lovely tools and seemed to contemplate on which one he would prefer.
"I will ask you only once more, Rafe: What did they take?" The shadow examined one of his tools under the light.
"I don't know for sure." The bounded Rafe shivered in his chair. "They came too quickly…I couldn't see…I…ahh!" Rafe screamed out. The shadow had pierced one of his metal tools into Rafe's left hand.
"That was not what I asked. You had one assignment and you failed." The shadowed increased its weight on his tool.
"That is enough, Liam." A crisp voice called out in the darkness.
"Yes, my Lord." Liam grimly removed the sharp object from Rafe's hand.
"Rafe…Rafe…what am I going to do with you, eh?" The new voice asked. Rafe could hear him pace across the room.
"Sir….my Liege…I tried…"
"I know…I know…you did quite well." The voice was now calm and gentle.
Liam smirked in the darkness.
"Rafe, I need you to think now. I need you to do me this one favor. One of my facilities was raided tonight and I need to know what they took. Can you do that for me? Can you tell me what they took? I just need to know and then I will set you free. Think back, Rafe. Think about the raid."
"I'll try sir…" Rafe nodded, pleased that he would be granted his freedom despite his failure. "Umm…I remember something…"
"What do you remember, Rafe?" The voice was calm, but tense now.
"Umm…while we were fighting…I remember…"
"I remember a group headed down Sector 7…and after the lab blew up, the raiders ran off, carrying something…yes…I remember now. They took something from Sector 7, but I don't know what."
"Is that so?" The voice now seemed agitated.
"I've told my Lord what he wanted to hear yes?"
"Yes…Liam?" Rafe could see his Lord's shadow turn to face Liam.
Liam smiled viciously and Rafe began to shake uncontrollably.
"My Lord, you promised…you promised."
"Yes…I promised that I would set you free. I always keep my word."
Liam slowly picked up one of his other tools on the table while Rafe smiled hysterically.
"Yes, my Lord. You do! You do!"
"Yes," a nod, "I do."
Amidst his nod, Liam had stabbed Rafe in the heart with one of his instruments and twisted it counterclockwise. As the shadow said "I do", Rafe's body grew limp as his spirit was set free to the next world.
The shadow of Darien Grant quickly left the room and was met by another man.
"It appears Liam used the ice pick this time." Darien commented as he walked down the brick hallway.
Ian only nodded as he walked beside his Master. "It is confirmed that we have another problem?"
"Yes. It seems one of Isis's batches was taken."
"I see. Do you think the Rebellion knows what they have?" Ian asked as he contemplated on this new found problem.
"No. They will not know unless they have Osiris. We will continue as planned."
"Yes, my Lord."
"However, I don't want the Rebellion to get any ideas of what we are doing. Is our mole still in place?"
"Good. Send her in to make sure they don't find out what Isis is."
"Yes, Master Darien," a short pause, "and what of the Mesa girl?"
"Have our spies report to me the whole message. I want to know why the Rebellion has become so bold."
"It will be done." Ian bowed his head in obedience.
"Darien Grant is motivated by hate and revenge. About fourteen or fifteen years ago, Darien's wife was diagnosed with a rare disease. In order to cure her of this disease, he hired and later partnered himself with Edward Ashton, the famous biochemist and engineer, and Miriam Maxwell, the billionaire of billionaires." Scott began as he sat in a chair across from Natalie's medical bed.
"Why did he do that?" Natalie asked as she tried to sit herself up, but gave up out the pain. She made sure none of her brothers noticed this.
"Miriam was an old friend that he bribed in order to fund Ashton's research in attempts to find a cure for his wife's disease. However, the research that they were conducting wasn't quite legal."
"Or safe." Dylan added.
"Right," Scott nodded in agreement, "and so the government got involved."
"Figures." Natalie rolled her eyes. "Let me guess: the government shut them down and so Darien never found a cure and then his wife dies."
"What happened next?"
"Well, he went crazy, even though I think he was already crazy, and attacked the United States. So now we're in a second Depression." Dylan shrugged carelessly.
Natalie's jaw dropped. "What? How?"
"By using what he already had." Scott continued but not failing to give Dylan an annoyed look.
Natalie face drew blank.
"Let me explain." Scott assured his sister. "You see, Grant was a renowned geneticist and by combining his knowledge with that of Ashton's, he was able to conduct biological research for his wife's disease." Scott shifted in his seat. "After the government intervened, Grant and Ashton developed a satellite that would target the U.S.'s financial files."
"How would they do that?"
"It's complicated, but the gist of it is this: their satellite hacks into various States that were the financial backbones of the country and transfers all the funds to whatever location Grant and his partners wanted."
"So he crumpled our economy by doing that." She nodded along, inhaling the prospect of what being told to her.
"Yes. Do you remember the night when we all went out to ice cream? When Dylan and I were in that new ice cream place?"
"Yes. It feels like it happened yesterday." Natalie replied solemnly. It did happen yesterday.
Dylan and Scott nodded slowly in understanding.
"Well, apparently, Grant had blackmailed the President and when the President refused, Grant set Crimson, er, that's what the satellite was called, out against the country. However, during their talks, the President was informed of Crimson and believed it to be a weapon of mass destruction, so he…"
"What? Why did he believe that?"
"Well, during the first few days of negotiation, C.I.A. operatives identified that a nuclear weapon was being harbored inside the satellite and so that's why the President ordered a missile air strike on the satellite, not one of his brightest moments, I admit, but what else could he do in such short time right?"
"Uhh…right." Natalie's expression demonstrated her lack of concern with Scott's commentary. Scott rolled his eyes.
"Anyways, the negotiations failed, Crimson was launched and the country soon became the Third World country it is today. However, when the President launched the air strike he had a surprise awaiting him."
"Well, Grant predicted that the President would try something, so he had Ashton place a defensive system on the satellites – a nuclear bomb with lasers attached that could target anywhere in the world in seconds, and this is where everything changed." Scott took a deep breath. "You see, when the President launched the missiles, Crimson's defenses went online. The laser system that Crimson possessed had targeted the missiles in hopes to destroy it before it reached the satellite. It succeeded. But, that's when something went wrong. Crimson wasn't able to defend itself from the missile recoil and debris and was damaged during the attack. That damage was located near the bomb, which then began to leak out."
"How do you know all this?" Natalie asked suddenly, trying to process all the information, but receiving a massive headache instead. It receded after a moment, but a throbbing pain still threatened a comeback.
"Let's just say he annoyed the right people…" Dylan grinned devilishly.
"Shh. I'm getting to the important part." Scott snapped.
Dylan rolled his eyes and leaned back into his chair.
"Anyways, the satellite malfunctioned and the lasers were somehow exposed to the nuke, which happened to be a biochemical nuke, by the way."
"Oookay…" Natalie waited for the rest of the explanation.
"Oh, just so you know the biochemical came from the research that Grant was doing on his wife. Apparently he was trying to regenerate the cells in her system…or mutating it so that it could adapt to her cells. But, Grant changed its chemical structure so it would attack the cells in a living organism, thereby degenerating cells."
"Oh." Natalie tried to follow what her brother was saying.
"You are sooo confusing her right now, bro." Dylan noticed her sister's wide eyed expression.
Scott paused for a moment. "Maybe we should continue this when you're more suitable…"
"No…No. I want to know." Natalie hastened out, wanting to know what happened that night at the ice cream parlor.
Scott hesitated, but a determined look from his sister made him continue. "The lasers were exposed with the biochemical." He explained as simply as he could. "This, plus the fact that the satellite was going haywire, caused the lasers to fire all over the world. The result: Mutants." Scott knew that Natalie would freak out about this, but it was the truth.
"Umm…mutants as in biologically enhanced mostly, not physical alterations." Scott tried to explain. "It seems that the biochemical in the nuke evolved with the lasers and it…" He drifted off in a scientific explanation, but Natalie phased out into her own thoughts.
Mutants? Is he serious? It's like I've walked into some type of comic strip or television show!
"Well, there are disgusting mutations out there…" Dylan began to think out loud. "Like that slime boy we fought a couple months ago…"
"What?" Natalie snapped out of her daydream.
"Dylan!" Scott shot at look. "She doesn't need to know that."
"What?" Natalie once again wore a confused expression. "Fought? What do you mean by that?"
"Nothing. I'll explain that later…"
"You keep saying that! Scott, I want an explanation now!"
Scott sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Let me see now…" He tried to think of how he could explain this particular subject without overwhelming his sister too much.
"Why don't I explain? Take a break, bro." Dylan stretched his arms out and leaned forward. He crossed his arms and leaned back into the chair. He began before Scott could interject. "Well, Nat, you see when Crimson malfunctioned lasers were going berserk, it not only took out the money, but it fired all over the world, right?" He rephrased some of Scott's explanation.
Natalie nodded, trying to understand.
"Well, since the lasers were now equipped with the biochemical, the people within a three mile radius of the lasers targets were affected by the radiation. Within days, people discovered that they possessed unique attributes or abilities. Among these people, the Darien trio, now called the Immortals, was infected. So once they found that out, they began to recruit people to their cause in order to bring the world back to what it was."
"But Darien caused all the chaos, why would anyone join him?" Natalie asked.
"Well, not everyone knows that he caused it. Word never got out and no one could really find out because our technology and economies crumpled overnight. Not to mention, the powerful mutants he recruited wanted power and they knew that Darien could give them that." Scott interrupted.
"Are you telling the story or am I?" Dylan scolded.
"Oh, please continue." Scott teased and smirked.
"Thank you." Dylan took a breath, "Now, what was I saying?"
"The Immortals." Natalie responded, suddenly intrigued with the topic. She had never imagined a world with mutants or powers before.
"Right, the Immortals. So the Immortals began a campaign to take over the world, even though they told everyone they are trying to rebuild it to its previous glory. Today, they succeed in taking over the majority of the Eastern Hemisphere. The United States is pretty much the last of the countries that pose a possible threat in the Western Hemisphere, ironic right?"
"How can a man get so much man power? I mean, doesn't everyone have powers now? Don't you or Scott? Do I? I mean, we've got to do something if we can, right?"
"Right." Scott smiled. "But not everyone was infected. True, the lasers shot various locations around the globe, but not all areas were infected. However, those who are infected, like Dylan and myself, we are trying to fight back."
"Yup. You see, Scott and I, and the dude you see sulking in the corner," Dylan glanced at the man hanging out near the door, "well, we've established a rebellion group with the help of the Archangels."
"Archangels?" Natalie's eyes furrowed with curiosity and concern, especially when she looked at the man in the corner. She remembered him from earlier, but never really acknowledged his presence.
"Yup. It is believed that they are the most powerful mutants, besides the Immortals."
Natalie noticed Scott roll his eyes.
"That is only speculation. Don't get ahead of yourself." Scott warned.
"I'm only saying the truth." Dylan shot back.
"Wait. Who are the Archangels?"
Dylan grinned. "You're looking at them."
"What?" Natalie stared at the three men in amazement.
"Yup, but no one except those in this room and one other man know about our true identities."
"It is important that our alter egos remain hidden, or those we love and care for will become victims in this raging war." Scott glanced down to the floor, obviously trying to conceal some emotions.
Natalie squinted, trying to figure out the hidden meaning to her brother's comment. Did he lose someone besides her?
"Right." Dylan stood up, oblivious to his brother's sorrowful performance, and indicated that they had to leave. "We'll get in more depth about what we do and stuff later."
"Dylan is right. You need to rest now." The man in the corner finally spoke.
"Wait. What about me? How did I miss ten years of my life?" Natalie finally asked.
Dylan stopped short and slowly turned to his sister. His face was more sorrowful than his brother's.
"Dylan…please…I need to know."
"You were hit by Crimson's lasers directly." The man informed her slowly after he noticed that Dylan had a hard time trying to spit it out and Scott was still staring at the floor.
"Of all the mutants I've encountered and treated, you seem to be the only one who was hit directly."
"You couldn't have survived. You shouldn't have survived." Scott slowly raised his head.
"What, what do you mean by that?" She looked insulted.
"Natalie, don't get me wrong. I'm glad you're here and well. But the areas that the lasers hit, those people who were a foot away," he gulped, "well, none of them survived the radiation, but you. Natalie, you were hit by the laser directly. I mean, Dylan and I barely survived and were just 20 feet away from you, but you did. You were only knocked unconscious. It's a miracle."
"What…I don't understand."
"Well, maybe I can shed some light." The man offered.
"Natalie, this is Ethan. He's one of our closest friends and the head of our medical department." Scott explained.
"Natalie," Ethan began, "I've analyzed your blood as well as our own. I've discovered something remarkable, which may help explain why you didn't die. First of all, you must understand, your blood is different from any mutant I have ever seen. Normally, the radiation caused by Crimson surrounds an infected person's blood cells, like a shield, and thereby enhance or mutate the individual's cells. However, with you…it appears that your blood cells have, well, combined with the lasers and biochemical itself."
Natalie remained dumbstruck. What did this mean? What was wrong with her?
"Now, this is just a theory of mine, but I believe, in the exact moment you were hit by the laser, the chemicals consumed itself within your blood, causing you to have an immediate mutation. Thereby, you only were knocked unconscious and suffered burns."
"It was amazing." Scott spoke again. "The burns you suffered were deadly, but within weeks, it seemed like you never were burned at all."
"What do you mean?" Natalie gulped and looked at her brother intently.
"Natalie, I believe, when you were hit by the lasers, you were given the ability to regenerate your cells at an enormously fast rate. You didn't even have any scars from the burns. It was miraculous."
Natalie glanced down at her hands. "Miraculous?" She mumbled. "Miraculous?" Her voice was now angry and proceeded to increase in volume. "Miraculous? I've lost ten years! If I had that kind of power then why would it have taken me ten years to wake up?"
"You were supposed to die, Natalie, perhaps your body was healing itself these past ten years." Ethan spoke in a soft cautious tone.
"It's like your back from the dead." Dylan mentioned.
"This sucks." Natalie blurted out, causing everyone to look at her wide-eyed. "Where are Mom and Dad? Where are my friends?"
"It's late. I think it's time for you to rest some more." Dylan informed her. "Besides, we need to handle some business. We'll be back tomorrow morning to talk some more."
Natalie could tell they were all trying to avoid the subject of her parents and friends. Was it possible that they were all dead?
"It's good to see you again." Dylan smiled.
"Good night, Natalie." Scott emphasized.
"Good night." She replied back in a quiet and lonely voice.
The three men left the room and allowed Natalie and her thoughts to consume one another. For the rest of the night, Natalie tried to process the information that was given to her.
"Ten years?" She looked at her hands and arms. "But I haven't aged at all…" She looked at the closed door. "What are you guys not telling me?" Natalie whispered in the dark.
Dylan's last words echoed in her head: It's like your back from the dead.