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Quicksilver: The Alpha Awakening – Prologue

"Every hero has a beginning, but for Jedidiah Bridger, his start was dark..."
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Author's Notes

"This is a prologue from a book I'm currently writing. This is just something of a teaser because I won't be posting any other chapters (at the very least until I finish the book). I've spent a couple of years with this idea, mostly using that time to create the mythology by which this world works. Since this prologue takes place a few years before the main plot, I thought it would work well as something of a standalone short story."

Jed had never seen so much chaos in his life. Then again, he was only fourteen and hadn’t experienced all that much life. But this was still something out there. All over the city, there was rioting. Police everywhere and more notably, people attacking the police everywhere. Except that they weren’t people at all. They were Grey.

Some people called them supernatural; some people called them mutants. Everyone called them dangerous: freaks of nature that walked and talked like humans but lacked humanity. Stronger than humans and faster than humans, Grey were the apex predators of the world.

Jed’s father had always made a point of describing Grey as things rather than people. Perhaps it made his job of killing them easier? Of course, he always referred to it as a service and not a job and he destroyed Grey, rather than killed them. Jed never understood the difference but respected that his father declared that there was. And he never faulted him for doing his duty. How could he when his father was one of the greatest species in the world? The Silver

If Grey were dark, twisted, and evil, the Silver was light, benevolent, and heroic. And being the only ones that shared the same abilities as Grey, they were the closest one could get to knights in shining armour in this day and age, except instead of shiny armour and chainmail, they wore suits and ties. Where knights in their day wore long swords at their waists, Silver carried sky-swords on their person, hidden neatly while unactivated. But they weren’t the only ones.

Jed had always wanted to see a sky-sword duel between a Silver and a Grey. He wanted to see what it was like for men dressed as if for a business meeting, to pull out their swords and attack each other. However, his father had always kept him from his world. “Perhaps one day when you’re older,” he’d say. “When you’re ready.” But Jed was convinced he was ready. After all, it had been mere weeks since he’d saved someone’s life from certain death which was a right of passage to become a Silver. This was in heavy contrast to how one became a Grey.

Boom! “Dammit,” said Ben.

Jed poked his head over the centre console to look out of the windscreen. “Dad, what was that?” They were currently on a city road that was littered with abandoned cars from a day ago when people were panicking and trying to get out of the city.

“Sit back, son.”

Jed did as he was told even though there was barely a back seat to sit in. It was perhaps the only drawback to his father’s beloved 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500.

“Ben, are you seeing this?” asked Jed’s mother who was sitting in the passenger seat. Jed’s father nodded. “What are we going to do?” Ahead of them were men with swords who’d gone from simply standing around, shouting to burning the idle cars on the street.

Jed had overheard his father’s plan last night: he’d wanted to wait out the major commotion which happened last night and then sneak out of town once the roads were clear. It would have been a good plan too if the Grey weren’t out on the streets in numbers.

Benedict Bridger answered by pulling out a smartphone and hitting the speed dial. “Zacharias, we’re stuck... Yeah, we’re downtown... Well, I didn’t know it was still this bad... What do you want me to say? I was just trying to get my family out of the city. I still am… My plan? It was to get them to safety, on a ferry out of the province. Then I come back and help quell…”

While Jed hadn’t been able to hear the other side of the phone call before, Zacharias was shouting so loudly that Jed could hear him clearly. “No. No, Ben, listen to me. Leave the city and don’t come back. Today is not the day to be a hero. The Grey are out in packs and they’re armed. And I think you know that I’m not talking about sky-swords.

Jed’s father was conflicted. “But I can’t just do nothing.”

You’re not doing nothing. You’re saving your family. Now, fire up that beloved Mustang of yours, and get the hell out of there!” Boom! Something struck the windscreen again. This time Jed saw that it was a molotov cocktail. But Jed’s father didn’t flinch. “What was that?”

“I’ll tell you later. Right now, I’ve got to go.” Ben hung up and then dialled another number while reassuring both Jed and his wife that they were safe because it was reinforced glass. “Miss Eaves, I need a clear route through the city to the ferries by the docks.” A moment passed as the people who were rioting outside surrounded the car. When the person on the other side finally spoke again, Ben fired up the car and didn’t hesitate to run those in front of him over.

“Dad!”

“Don’t worry, son. They’re Grey. They’re all Grey.” While that indeed the case, made clear by the fact that half of them had drawn sky-swords, it didn’t make the sight of them tumbling over the car any easier. Jed’s mother picked up on his unease.

“Ben, I know they’re Grey but perhaps don’t run them over. You’re scaring Jed.”

Jed’s father gave his son only a fleeting look before changing his strategy and started avoiding the Grey on the street. Jed was used to his father driving slowly but this was different as Ben Bridger was executing power slides, drifting around corners, and speeding down urban streets. It’s only when they got out of the downtown area did things calm down.

“Okay, I think we’re safe now,” said Ben. Then, as if on cue, a truck slammed into them from out of sight, hitting the passenger side and sending the car rolling, end over end. Jed was sure he blacked out because when he opened his eyes again, he was lying on the road outside of the car. It was as if his brain needed to focus on anything besides what had just happened because all he could think about was that they were just across the street from the docks where the ferries were. They were almost home free.

Jed turned his head and saw his mother lying on the road next to him and tapped her to tell her the good news. It took a moment for Jed to take in what was happening and saw the look on his father’s face before he saw that his mother wasn’t moving.

“Mom? MOM!?” Jed was now frantically trying to wake his mother up. When he looked to his father for help, Jed saw that his face had changed from shock and grief to a strange look of acceptance. “Dad! She won’t wake up!”

“That’s because she’s gone, son.” When Jed continued to try and shake her, he lifted him to his feet. “Jedidiah, she’s gone. Understand? She’s gone.” Ben’s eyes darted to the truck that had hit them, noticing that a well-dressed man had stepped out and was pulling something out of his waistcoat. Ben looked back at Jed. “Okay, now listen to me, son. I need you to go to the ferry and get out of here.”

“What, without you?” Jed knew the answer. “No, Dad! I’m not leaving you. I’m not leaving Mom.” Jed didn’t know what his objective was but knew that he didn’t want to leave his mother on the street here.

“You have to, son. You have to.” Ben picked up Jed’s backpack and stuffed a leather-bound book into it. “Here, take this. It’s my journal. I know that you want to be a Silver like me when you grow up and this will tell you all you need to know including everything about the Quique.”

Jed suddenly found himself angry. “I don’t care about our biology. I don’t want a book. I want you, Dad! Come with me.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I have a duty. The fact of the matter is, after tonight, there may not be many Silver left in this city, or the world for that matter. And if that’s the case, then the Grey will take over and it will be the end of the way you know things. I need to do what I can to prevent that.”

“But Dad, if tonight is the end of the Silver, then surely coming with me is the only way to ensure you don’t die out. Come and let the Silver live to fight another day.”

Ben simply smiled at his son. “That’s what you’re for. If we all fall, you will be our last hope so I need you to go before it’s too late.”

“But I can’t, Dad. I can’t leave you.” This was almost literally true because he was struggling to move his legs.

Ben seemed to understand. “Find the will, son. Now go. GO!”

Jed reluctantly took the backpack and ran to the ferry but not without looking back. It was just as well because he finally got to see what he’d wanted to see for a long time. It was the flashes of light that had caught his attention although when he looked back, he couldn’t tell where they’d come from. He watched in awe as his father pulled out his sky-sword hilt, clicked a trigger on it and a blade emerged. After waiting so long, he was finally seeing what his father looked like as he was about to do battle.

There was something striking about his father, dressed in a navy blue three-piece suit, holding a sword in his hand. He gave the Grey a salute which went unanswered before taking a fighting stance. With their swords in one hand, the two men charged at each other, slashing hard and fierce. But this wasn’t a fencing duel. It was a sky-sword duel between two preternaturally gifted beings.

It wasn’t long before Ben managed to garner the advantage with a grapple using his free hand. He managed to turn the Grey around and kick him in the backside. While it looked like an average kick, the move sent the Grey soaring into the air before landing against the front of the truck. The front of the truck buckled leaving it bent in and crushed. The Grey barely flinched, standing right back up and preparing for another clash of steel.

However, before the two engaged again, their blades began to flicker as red embers emitted from the dark metal. Their blades were getting hotter and it was clear they were about to burst. Both men clicked another button on their hilts to eject their expiring blades and smoothly pulled out new daggerzines to replace the spent ones, reloading their weapons, before igniting new blades just moments before their swords met again.

The fight went on with both men evenly matched until Ben got the advantage again, managing to disarm the Grey. However, he made the fatal mistake of not pressing the advantage which allowed the Grey to nail Ben in the face with his elbow before grabbing Ben’s sword hand and forcing an ejection of the blade. The Grey then executed a grapple, folding Ben into a roll so that they landed next to the Grey’s sword which he then plunged into Ben’s chest.

“NOOO!” Jed didn’t know how that word had come out of his mouth comprehensively because he was sure that he was screaming. Jed wanted to run to his father but found himself frozen just like when he couldn’t leave his father’s side just minutes before. He might have also been frozen out of fear because his scream had attracted the attention of the Grey who looked at him and started advancing.

Jed was still frozen. But when he saw the Grey ejecting his expiring blade for a third one, Jed remembered his father’s words about finding the will and finally started moving. It was just as well because the ferry blasted its horn to announce its departure forcing Jed to jump onto the ferry as it left the docks. Ironically, this worked in Jed’s favour because now the Grey could not follow. Instead he… or rather it simply stood at the edge of the dock, staring at Jed.

The last thing that Jed saw of Argent City was this thing, standing there under the dim light of the docks, loosening its tie as if what it had done was just another hard day at work. While the light was too dark to make out its face, Jed did notice some distinct features like its bony facial structure: something he imagined a vampire would look like. However, an even more prominent feature that Jed noticed was a tattoo on its throat. Even in this light, he could see it because it appeared to shine in the dark. The tattoo was that of a barcode.

While the fleeting feeling of revenge went through Jed, what stayed with him was the last conversation that he had with his father. It stayed with him that even facing certain death, his father put his duty above everything else because being Silver meant that much. And now all he had to remember him by was his journal which he’d protect with his life because he had to. He was the last Silver.

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