Heart of Ice
Maybe registering her powers with B.A.D.G.E. wasn’t the best idea, Rennie thought as she exited the convoy just outside of Bakersfield, California. She’d seen the news: Arx took over Hollywood and was holding the inhabitants hostage. All the country’s heroes had assembled and now she was among them. Arx and his mercs were going to crush her like a bug and she would counter attack by causing a light drizzle, making flowers bloom or extinguishing all their candles. She barely had powers. What was she even doing here?
“Rainy Summers?” an agent called. She stepped forward.
Rennie scowled at the clipboard as she signed, “You spelled it wrong.”
The agent ignored the comment and pointed her toward her unit. There, a B.A.D.G.E. special operative called Commander Owens briefed her and seven other agents, mostly non-morphon enhanced field operatives from tactical and medical. They were to avoid the main conflict, thank goodness, and infiltrate the Ice Palace hotel to free and evacuate hostages. The Ice Palace was one of the newest star attractions in Tinseltown, a literal ice palace like from that James Bond movie, only much closer to the equator. It was definitely morphon powered, but the exact method was a well-kept secret.
Each unit member received a waterproof pack that included nasty-looking dried meat, a flashlight, comm gear, rope, a knife and some other useful stuff. In addition, tactical officers were issued guns, medical officers got a cache of first aid kits and med tech, and Rennie got... a lighter.
“Excuse me…” she bagan, but Owens was already loading the team into a nondescript tan SUV. Time for soccer practice, she guessed.
They made their way through the chaos of the occupied streets with surprising ease. A fellow powered unit member, a cyborg with a cloaking device, scouted the way and removed any obstacles. In the alley behind the Ice palace, Owens looked to Rennie.
“Agent Sommers, use your powers to melt that ice and make us a door.”
Ah, so that’s why they dragged her along. Now it made sense. Rennie placed her hand against the cool shimmering outer wall and felt the strange power it radiated. She focused her energy, but the wall resisted. Normally, water, even frozen, bent to her will, but this ice was not budging.
“I can’t. It won’t let me.”
“Well that’s a problem, then” Owns barked. “You were our ace in the hole for this.”
Rennie got an idea.
“Wait. Give me a second,” she said. “I’ve never tried anything quite this big before, but I might have something that might work.”
She retrieved the lighter, thankful that it was a zippo and would stay lit easily. She flicked it open and concentrated on the flame, strengthening it and directing it towards the wall.
Owens lifted his eyebrows. “I didn’t know you could do that.”
“Maybe he should have read his team’s dossiers more closely,” Rennie thought, but the flames took too much of her concentration to allow the words to come out. That was probably not a bad thing.
After twenty minutes, she fell to the ground, gasping for air and sweating, despite the ambient chill of the ice wall. Her super-accelerated heartbeat pounded in her ears and her vision was blurry, but before her was a rough, ugly hole in the wall big enough for most members of the team to crawl through.
“If that’s the best you can do,” Owens remarked, “I guess we’ll take it.”
He glanced at the bulky cyborg who had scouted their way through the city. “Looks like you’re staying out here to guard the door.”
“Keep your guard up.” Owens said, “Our intel puts twelve to fourteen mercs stationed throughout this building.” We make our way to the west stairwell. Hostages are in the grand ballroom on the third floor, but there’s a potential threat we need to neutralize first. So our first stop is the basement.”
Six of them, including Owens, disappeared into the interior of the palace.
The cyborg lifted Rennie to her feet. “In, you go,” he grunted. “Commander didn’t dismiss you.”
The architects had made the stairs of ice and carpeted them in rubber to prevent slipping, but a second perk of the design muffled the team’s footsteps into silence as they descended. The tactical team took the three mercenaries in the room at the bottom completely off guard and dispatched them with tasers. Rennie hung back, knowing she would be useless from here on even if she wasn’t completely drained from cutting their way into the building.
A huge machine, like an industrial sized boiler-cryogenics-chamber hybrid took up most of the room.
“Agent Michaels,” Owens barked, “You’re up. Find what makes this tick and get it contained.”
Michaels, an older lady bursting with tech gear, laid two boxes on the floor and opened them. One was full of tools. The other was much larger and empty, save for a whole lot of foam padding around the edges. Whatever they were putting inside they wanted to make sure to keep safe.
Michaels examined the machine and flipped some switches to power it down. Then she removed a metal plate on one side to reveal the power source.
The older agent worked so quickly Rennie barely saw the object, but the familiar thrum of power hit her from across the room. It was the same power the ice walls radiated, only quadrupled. As Michaels deftly yanked the power crystal, from the machine with both hands, bright blue sparks shot from it and a frantic beeping issued from the cryo device. The Mondo Gauntlets Michaels wore protected her from the shock and allowed her to successfully remove the crystal, which was about the size of an oblong basketball.
Michaels started to utter a curse, before an explosion rocked the room and partially collapsed the ceiling.
When Rennie opened her eyes, which she hadn’t realized she’d closed, a pretty young girl from the medical team stood with her arms outstretched, creating a shimmering prismatic shield around her, Owens and one other agent. Rennie had assumed the girl didn’t have powers. Luckily she was wrong.
The ringing in her ears drowned out all sound, but Rennie watched Owens navigate the wreckage where he found Michaels and two other team members dead among piles of ice shards. This is not what Rennie had signed up for. She thought she’d be dealing with purse snatchers and lost kittens.
“Find the box! Find the box!” Ownes ordered, ”It’s unstable!”
The machine remained untouched, but the item the machine’s defenses were meant to protect was no longer inside. It remained clutched in between the Mondo Gauntlets where it pulsed with a bluish glow like a heartbeat. Thin white cracks lined its exterior.
Rennie rushed to the crystal. She could hear its voice. Feel its pain. She felt it seething, ready to burst, but she sang to it from within herself as if trying to soothe a savage beast. She touched it and her vision went white. Her hairs stood on end and power seeped into her, deep within her core. She could feel the whole Ice Palace as if it were a part of her. She knew what she had to do.
Rennie awoke in a B.A.D.G.E. medical tent. She couldn’t remember much past laying her hand on the crystal. The nurses called Commander Owens immediately.
“That was stupid and reckless, Agent Sommers.” Owens said. He didn’t sound angry or scolding. Just stating facts. “You brought the whole Ice Palace down. Melted it from the ground up. Do you realize you flooded two city blocks?”
He continued, this time scoldingly. “My orders were to find the box, not grab the morphon anomaly barehanded.”
“What was it?” Rennie asked.
“We call it the Heart of Ice. B.A.D.G.E. has located a number of them around the world. They’re unstable and very dangerous. We planned to put it in a lead box and extract it, but that mission went sideways and now you have it inside of you. You’re lucky your powers were in sync with it or who knows what would have happened?”
Rennie’s breath caught, “What do I do now?”
“The unit is being redeployed. Arx is down, but there are still mercs holding hostages all over Holywood.”
“The hostages… our hostages?” Rennie asked tentatively.
“A lot made it out, but we’re still cleaning all that up. It’s complete chaos out there.“
“I’m ready. I can do it,” Rennie said, sitting up in her bed.
“Oh no,” Owens said, “You’re being shipped back to B.A.D.G.E. HQ on the next plane. Director Nova wants to see you, personally. He has some questions for you.”
“Oh shit,” Rennie said. “This is not what I signed up for.”
Wow, this was an amazing use of both the Merc attack AND gear to be found in the Armory. I love this story, and I wish you the best in winning.
VERY well done.
Thanks for the vote of confidence. I've been meaning to get back to fiction writing for a while now and have just been too lazy to do it. Figured this was a good way to get me feet wet.
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