Hiros episode: The Adventure at MoonFlower Rock
The sleek black carrier rolled easily onto the turn off at the side of the road to make its way across the area where the fence had been knocked down. It moved slowly, cautiously towards what seemed to be nothing...going nowhere. The flat bleakness of the desert laid spread out before them. The two men that sat in the back were monitoring the controls. The specialized satellite camera array panned and zoomed to a close up of the rock that was set a good fifteen or so miles back off the road. At barely ten meters across, four or five meters high, it was nothing special, just a lump in the middle of the desert. Isabella’s car was parked beside it. There was no movement. Nothing. The vehicle came to a stop and the engine cut off. Inside the carrier there was no sound… no movement. Trent sat quietly watching the screens, the driver made no move except to relax in his seat. Mark finally spoke impatiently.
“Well, this must be the place. This could the next one”
“Possibly. She arrived here late in the day. We haven’t seen any readings as of yet. We will give her some time. It might be what your master seeks… we will check after she’s gone.” He spoke casually as if it were just another day… another dollar. Trent continued to monitor for movement while Mark stood to stretch. He swiveled sideways and moved away from the comfortable padded chair that was mounted to the floor in front of the control panel. With an edge to his voice he corrected,
“He’s not my master. He is a business associate. If it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t even know about this little project.” He then popped the gum into his mouth. Trent spoke without even looking.
“Filthy habit.” Mark, grinned sardonic grin.
“Just one of many, my friend, just one of many.” With both hands, he smoothed his hair back. It was gelled and tailored, cut neatly short. He was handsome in a stiff critical American Psycho sort of way. His mouth was too tight on his face and looked a little stretched whenever he would smile. One might mistake him for one of those smarmy used car salesmen of yesteryear. He moved his head to the left, then to the right, popping bones. Trent remarked while still sitting quietly… almost meditatively.
“Disgusting habit.” Mark snorted, still smiling he said
“You just have absolutely no use for me, do you?” He spoke it sarcastically as he stretched once again, moving his torso from side to side… his feet stationary, planted solidly… a military eighteen inches apart. Trent spoke casually without inflection.
“My Master has spoken that Mandusa seems to think that you might be of use to him, so who am I to judge.”
“That’s right. If it weren’t for me you guys would never have known about these places.” Trent knew better. Both the Physician and Mandusa knew of the portals. Mandusa had met Mark at a secret society party… an initiate orgy.
When Mark mentioned that his fiancé had told him something about a place that she had stumbled across, one with a weird phenomenon, his ears had perked right up. After that, Mark was Mandusa’s golden boy. He had taken him under his wing and taught him about everything vulgar, fowl and of things unspeakable. Mark was a gifted student sick and demented even before Mandusa had arrived on the scene. Mark was a true sadist by nature, enjoying peoples fear and suffering. Trent reminded the newcomer.
“And if it were not for my master you would be nothing but average. You would not be sporting the skills or the powers of the Dragoons. You would probably have ended up as a midline professor at some middle class college wishing that you could have been Indiana Jones… should, have been Indiana Jones. You pretentious intellects… you are all alike. You all hope to be the one that makes a great discovery or uncovers a lost civilization or the truth of your origins. You do it for personal exaltation. When that doesn’t happen, you turn your need to be feared and admired to the dark side of nature. By the age of thirty two you probably would have become a serial killer with a multitude of bodies in the cellar of your just above average house.” Mark mimicked sarcastically,
“You guys… you are all alike. You probably would have ended up a grunt in the military going out to serve your country… doing it for the adoration… loving the fact that everybody is thinking you’re a hero, out there protecting their puny little lives.” They both got a chuckle out of that one. Mark returned to his seat to say,
“I have every intension of marrying this woman ya’know. Her daddy is very well connected and well liked. He also has more than his fair share of power, money and influence and he’s my foot in the door. I intend to have these things for myself. As soon as Isabel is done locating a few more of these places for me I will swoop in and save her from a life of tedium.” Without a glance or emphasis to any of his words, the observer remarked,
“You mean condemn her to one don’t you. I cannot see you sharing the spotlight with a woman, or anyone else for that matter. It is not in your nature. And if memory serves, didn’t she dump you?” Mark chuckled.
“Yeah well… she has been temporarily confused. She’s placing importance onto things that have no importance. Besides that, I could use the break. She is the most boring fuck on the planet… can’t have any fun with her.” He glanced to Trent before adding,
“Can’t leave any marks on the bitch. This relationship has to be on the up and up.” ‘Relationship’ was spoken in the most disparaging of tones. He continued.
“But, thanks to my good friends’ magic potion, she will agree to what ever I say. She is primed and ready. That stuff is really amazing. Once it is administered, it makes the recipient very pliable, very agreeable. Good stuff.” Trent cast a quick glance toward the newcomer, Mark Smith.
He had seen many a man come and go over the years, but this new guy really rubbed him the wrong way. He had a particular brand of polished uncouth that seemed to just get under his skin in the most annoying way. His small snort of disgust went unheard and unnoticed by the newcomer that had only recently found his way into this secret inner circle of the Physician… Via Udan, the Sulkar that called himself Mandusa. Trent heard the gum snap and automatically his lip curled. He could not abide people with nervous habits. He sat still, no fidgeting, just watching the monitor. Mark felt the need for conversation, another nervous habit Trent was having trouble with. Mark asked,
“So… how long have you worked for Doc? What’s your take on this guy… your… Master?” ‘Master’ was spoken sarcastically and in a way meant to degrade. Mark reached for the small hacky-sack and began bouncing it. Trent glanced quickly to see. Maybe it was all his years of quietly laying in wait. It had made him a very patient man, but being cooped up with this guy was like lying in a patch of prickly weed. All of this guy’s nervous energy made him itch. His answer was very non-committal.
“Many years. There is nothing to say. I follow orders.” Mark turned to smile at him, his grin widening. Mark really could not abide grunts, people that just followed orders. He would never be one. He was a self-starter. He was going places. But every organization needs people that simply follow orders. Those people usually had IQ’s lower than a speed sign, but hey, that is how things got done. Once again, there was an edge of sarcasm to Marks retort.
“Just following orders.” He tossed the small ball and caught it. Tossed it again to bounce it off his wrist but before he could hike it, Trent handled it for him. He snatched the ball from mid-air with lightening speed to give it a fastball toss into the trash receptacle several feet away without ever moving his eyes from the monitor.
“Whoa… using the technology Doc gave ya’ on little ol’ me? Temper, temper. I have to admit this guy is some piece of work for being so young. Kid genius. I love the way these enhancements work.” He watched his hand as he flexed and curled his fingers… pumping his forearm as he smiled at the ripple of power that surged, momentarily enlarging his forearm and showing a shadow of strange discoloration that looked almost like draconian armor.
“Keep it down.” It would be Trents only warning. His long soft brown hair was pulled back and fashioned into a neat queue, reminiscent of the old Samurai warriors of Japan. He wore a dark olive green Tee shirt with long sleeves and khaki colored cargo pants that fit casually loose. Blades were tucked neatly and unnoticed at the back of each of his combat boots. He wore no jewelry to decorate himself. Underneath his clothing, there was a tattoo. It was extensive and had personal meaning to him. A small tattoo lay just over his temple. Oddly, it looked as if a jewel or stone was embedded in his skin as part of the design. It seemed to shift in color. It was not the only thing. His eyes could have been green or amber, maybe hazel. Strangely, they too kept shifting color. They were his remarkable feature as well as his mouth. Well proportioned, just on the slightly plump side, they were designed to make women look twice. Mother Nature had been more than kind to him. He was a favorite son, but as far as enhancements were concerned… Trent was free of this plague. His abilities were pure … a right of his birth.
Mark had suggested that the Physician was a ‘Kid Genius’, but Trent knew better. The Physician was an anomaly. He had been in his service for nearly eight hundred years. There would be no telling his age. Upon the death of his body, his essence merely slipped to yet another body and continued on. Trent had witnessed the physician occupy hundreds of bodies. How many times he had done this was a mystery. Many had forfeited their lives on the whim of the Physician.
Mark was not paying attention to Trents warning. He was now thinking about his newly found powers… the technology that had been implanted in him. Nanotechnology. He could now ‘will’, super powers to come at his command. Physical strength came fairly easily but endurance was more difficult to master. Sensory perceptions became more acute. Vision, hearing, and the ability to scent were superior to what he had before his recruitment. Mr. Smith still did not have it completely under control. There was pain involved and a focus of will that he had yet to master. The more acute sensory perceptions were still throwing him off balance. But all in all, it was a power rush unlike anything he had ever experienced. He stood again and took a posture of a body builder at a tournament. His skin rippled, his breath sucked in over his teeth making a hissing sound. Trent warned once again.
“I said keep it down. You have been advised in what perimeters you are allowed to use your tech. The Physician does not like to be disobeyed.”
“Yeah. That’s all well and good but there are times that we must think for ourselves. Oh yeah, I forgot… you’re just here to follow orders.” disdain dripped from his words. It didn’t bother Trent in the least. He had been around for a very long time and had seen many a prick such as Mark come and go. The Physician had little use for anyone that might jeopardize his work or his plans. He had even less tolerance for Mandusa’s recruits. They all seemed to follow the rule that water seeks its own level. Mandusa found his preference in those who were easily manipulated with the promise of power. He also seemed to attract those with a penchant for perversions, with a darkness of soul and evil.
Trent sat listening to the mind of the sociopath. The Physician had implanted a most rudimentary scrambling device in him. Its frequency made it difficult for a reader to ‘read’ him. Why bother with anything more sophisticated, Mark was out of the loop and had no real information. Besides that, Trent had broken this particular scrambling code long ago. It really made no difference. Mark had nothing important on his mind other than getting his way, getting rich and cavorting with the new lifestyle that Mandusa had shown him. Mark was a predictable sort of character. Spoiled and prone to temper tantrums, manipulative and devious. He had not noticed his lip curling in disgust. Whatever Mark was, he could not be called a man, nor could he be called an animal, animals killed to eat. This creature loved to torture and mutilate. It was fitting that this uncouth, pretentious oaf would be a recruit of Mandusa’s or Udan, or whatever he was calling himself these days.
Mandusa was Sulkar, an Eater of Darkness. It came as no surprise to him that these two ran in the same circles. They both belonged to the same underground society affectionately referred to by Udan as ‘The Sovereign Society”’, a place where terrible things happened to people, particularly young boys, girls and children that had disappeared or were presumed to be runaways… a sick social order that thrived in the dark under world of the Earth culture, an S & M cult with a proclivity towards brutality and the ugliest of moral turpitude. Personally, it turned his stomach. There was nothing elegant to it, nothing that could be considered a personal challenge, and nothing that held the grace of discipline, just dark brutality and subjugation of the helpless by ugly demented minds. He would like put a stop to it, but the Physician had suggested that he leave it alone. There must have been a reason for it. Maybe it fit into the grand scheme of things. Maybe it was humanities test. Still he could not imagine that there was truly any use for such things other than to pacify perverts with an unrealistic sense of power.
Since Mark had called Isabella to his attention with her personal expedition, he had studied her carefully. She was a sensitive, almost empathic. He knew how this creature, Mark, had trapped her. First, he trapped Isabella’s body by using the Sulkar drug to bend her will and addict her. Because of the nature of the drug, she had no idea that this was being done to her. But still she had been strong, she had held out for nearly a year before she allowed this monster to touch her. Then he trapped her mind as she lay sleeping at night, a drug induced sleep, planting suggestions and control words into her sub-conscience. Mark had successfully hid from Isabella his evil intent. Still, she had exhibited a tremendous amount of will when she planned her escape from him by getting onto the project in South America without him even knowing until she was stepping onto the plane. Commendable.
As well, the moment Trent had seen her, he knew. His second sight, his Nimm eyes could see the sign that blazed on her forehead. She was a re-embodied Keeper. The crystals would call to her and she would have to answer.
Trent’s eyes narrowed on the screen at the movement that had only just appeared. He quickly worked the controls to zoom in to a picture perfect magnification. Trent watched as Hiro opened the back hatch of the Jeep. A moment later Isabella slipped between the crack in the rock. Trent leveled the control to zoom in on her, watching her face, her eyes, as they perused Hiro, her expression, one of deep desire, of love. He watched to see Hiro turn to her, holding his hand out to her. She took it. He stepped to her, his arms slipping around her tenderly. One hand gently played in her hair as the other found its home in the small of her back. She reciprocated awkwardly. The embrace lasted for a brief moment. A lover’s moment. He sat watching quietly as the scene unfolded, reading their lips each time they turned in his direction. Still no expression came to Trent’s enigmatic face.
“What do we have here?” His whisper was heard by Mark, who returned quickly to his seat. He watched the monitor for a moment before blurting out loudly,
“Who the fuck is he? And what the fuck is he doing with Isabel? He wasn’t with her yesterday. When the fuck did he show up?” Casually Trent remarked.
“I would appreciate it if you would eliminate your use of profanity in my presence. It is the mark of an ignorant, uneducated and undisciplined mind. As well as a person that has little control over their basal emotions.” Mark looked at his companion as is he were bug to be squashed. He didn’t comment, but returned to his original question.
“Who the hell is he? And how did he hook up with her without our seeing?” Trent suppressed his smile. His voice sounded casually admiring.
“This is a man of mad skills my friend, special skills. Yes. He is…” Trent’s pause caused Mark to turn to look at him. Trent finished his sentence.
“an extraordinary man, one to be highly respected. His accomplishments are great… as is his station. That Isabella Elizabeth Benedict has called this man to her is an important discovery.” He quickly leaned forward to begin to enter data, his fingers flying over the keyboard at a remarkable speed. Mark eyes returned to the monitor as he watched with angry, envious and hateful eyes.
“You talk like you respect him. Who the fuck is he? And what the fuck does he think that he is doing with Isabel?” Trent could not help when the corner of his mouth twitched upwards. This… man… if his suspicions were correct, was doing a lot more with Isabella Elizabeth Benedict than the uncouth and unsophisticated, Mark, would ever do with her again. He spoke low, but did not mumble.
“She is lost to you my friend. This man will never part with her… nor she him. This is perfect… absolutely perfect. We can use this.”
“My ass. Isabel is going to marry me. I want what her daddy’s got, and I have no intentions of letting some would be Romeo interfere with my plans. This guy is dead.”
“You will be hard pressed to kill this man.” Trent turned away to press the earpiece tighter to his ear so he could listen to the instructions coming to him over the rant that Mark had begun.
He barely heard the case slide open behind him, right before the door slammed opened to let in the early morning heat that had by now, begun to rise. Mark was already outside when Trent turned to see that the secret compartment that held a sophisticated stash of weaponry lay open. One Sprawl gun was missing… a prototype smart weapon. Trent was up out of his seat, ripping off the earpiece and tossing it carelessly aside. He had just stepped out the door when he heard the click and whirl of the weapon discharging. He whispered,
“Fool.” …right before his fist impacted at its full force against Marks low back, just over the pelvic girdle. The blow was struck with brutal force. Mark cried out, drowning out the sounds of bones being crushed as he collapsed to the ground, his face contorted in pain, his body struggling to shut out the agony the blow had dealt him. Trent watched him struggle in pain, knowing that the new technology would take hold in just a moment, and the pain would cease and he would begin to heal at a remarkable rate. But for this moment, he would enjoy this arrogant fool’s pain. He spoke as if it were just another day… another dollar.
“It will take a better man than you to kill this man. Had you inadvertently killed him my friend… you would be buried beside him. The Physician wants him alive.” He turned casually to walk away, easily hiking up the high steps back into the cabin of the sleek transport. He never bothered to look to see the consequence of Mark’s ignorance… or was it arrogance. Trent listened to Mark swear his revenge.
“I’m gonna kill you, you son of a bitch. I’m gonna kill you.”
Once out of sight Trent silently shimmered away.