Location: Townsend Tower - Atlanta, Georgia
Timeline: The Year of the Apocalypse - 16 January 2012
The room was cold, like any hospital room seemed to be. But it wasn’t a normal hospital room. The walls were constructed of some kind of metal, though it was interlinked hexagonal plates. There was a large monitor embedded in the wall. The image on it was a pleasant beach scene at sunset. Everything seemed to be decorated in white, including the bed and other furniture.
Sitting in a chair next to the bed was the small Asian woman that had showed up during the chaos in Illinois, reading an old, thick tome. Syn had double dosed the boy laying in the bed, and she had known that he’d be out for a while because of it. His body seemed to be in good condition, save for some frazzled hair. At least one of them had come away with no injuries.
A faint breeze stirred in the still room. It caressed Xander’s frost-tipped hair and then blew strands of Syn’s dark hair across her face, swirling around the Asian woman.
“Ah, you’re finally awake,” Syn said, eyeing the young man curiously with red-reptilian eyes, as she set the book on the small white table beside her. “I apologize for the sore back, but it was that, or let you rip apart the southern tip of Lake Michigan with a hurricane force blizzard. Impressive, by the way.” A slight chuckle escaped the tiny, strange woman. “Annoying to have to fight through, but impressive, nonetheless. My name is Absynthe, in case you don’t remember. Most simply call me Syn. How are you feeling?”
“Kill me now…” Xander groaned, moving slightly as every muscle in his body protested. His head throbbed. He smacked his lips. “Need a drink.” His dark eyes fluttered open momentarily before he closed them against the bright light.
“That would defeat the purpose of having not killed you to begin with,” Syn responded with a soft laugh. She stood and poured a glass of water from a pitcher beside his bed, put a bendable straw in it, then raised the head of his bed. As she handed him the glass, she continued, “Your sister and girlfriend are recovering. They’ve been seen to, so try not to worry about them too much. Your sister had a number of facial fractures. Doctor Edwin healed those, however. Your girlfriend suffered a minor concussion, but is fine, as is the baby.”
Xander relaxed a bit and sipped. He pulled a face. “Water? Got anything stronger?” he asked. Still, he drank thirstily and opened one eye, looking at the Asian woman. Okay, she was pretty hot. “Have we met?” he asked. “I think I’ve seen you in my dreams.” He flashed her his cocky, knee-melting smile.
Syn chuckled, shaking her head.. “No, but you did see me in your mind. Part of my powers is that I can create illusions that are mind affecting. You panicked when you saw my dragon form and I had to do something to try to reach you, and to hide myself from you before you decided to toss me again. Dealing with awakening powers can be a challenge sometimes, but I didn’t want to hurt you unless absolutely necessary. I hit you with a couple of sedatives that were designed to shut a metahuman’s powers down.”
“Metahuman?” Xander asked. “And damn, that was some good stuff.” He fell back on the pillow. “Can I have some more.” He grinned until his head throbbed a bit too much. “The come down is a bitch, though.” He pressed his hands to his eyes. The breeze seemed to caress down Syn’s body, like it had a mind of its own, but linked to Xander’s subconscious.
“Metahuman is another term for mutant,” Syn responded, and poured the young man some more water. “And I’ll not be handing those sedatives out any time soon. I use them as sparingly as possible. For now, hydrating is the best thing that you can do to get rid of that feeling.”
The diminutive dragon lady arched an eyebrow as she felt the winds. “Though, if you keep that up, I might hit you with another one,” Syn warned, but her tone was light, friendly. “You’re going to have to learn how to control that. Which brings me to my true purpose here. Controlling mutant powers is the type of thing that we specialize in here.”
Xander shook his head. “You got it wrong. I’m not a mutant,” he murmured, finally able to get his eyes open against the light. He drank down more water. “I don’t know what happened, but it couldn’t have been me. I--It hurt people, people I care about.”
The small Asian woman sighed, her strange eyes falling directly to Xander’s. Syn offered him a small smile and said, “Yes, you are. You are the one that hurt those people, accidental as it may have been. Well, part of it. Most of the damage was done by those goons that your girlfriend’s father sent after you. We barely got Bethany back here in time. She’s still sedated and recovering, and likely will be for a few more days. Luckily, we have some fine healers counted amongst us.”
Xander frowned. “But...Cecily...Talia...oh, God,” Xander said, covering his mouth. “I...I hurt them… I can’t...I need to see them.” He struggled weakly to get out of bed. The wind started to swirl around the room faster.
Syn put a hand on the young man’s shoulder and gently, but firmly, pushed him back down onto the bed. There was a hidden strength in that tiny form. “You’re not leaving this room just yet, especially not with your powers running rampant.” She arched an eyebrow at him, then said, “You need to calm down. I told you that they’re fine, but they’re still under Doctor Edwin’s care in the hospital wing. I’ll arrange for you to be able to speak with them via the monitor for now. Then, once you get a bit more rest, and you’re not trying to stir up the very air around you, we’ll talk about letting you out of here.”
Xander scowled. “So I’m a prisoner?” he asked sullenly. Damn, but she was strong! He bit his lip. “Is this...the government? Nexus?” He’d seen them mentioned on the news.
“That’s an ugly word, but, technically, at this moment, yes,” Syn said, wincing a bit. “I am responsible for the safety of the people here, and letting you out of this room, with your powers not under control, puts everyone at risk. And no, we’re not the government, and we certainly aren’t Nexus. We’re a safe haven for mutants and their loved ones. Townsend Academy is a place where metahumans can live a somewhat normal life; go to school, find employment, a home.”
Xander frowned. “Wasn’t there something on the news about you blokes recently?” he asked. “I recall it not being so safe.”
“The mall at the base of the tower was attacked,” Syn said, nodding her head, a sad look ghosting across her face briefly. That wound was going to stay open for a while. “The Tower itself was not infiltrated. While the mall was open to the general public, the rest of the Tower requires a security clearance to access. Normally only students, staff, and residents are cleared to enter the facility.”
“So...we’re only really safe if we’re prisoners here,” Xander said sarcastically.
“Most of the general populace is frightened of us, with good reason. With great power, and all of that,” Syn said, giving a bit of a shrug. “And I didn’t say that you couldn’t ever leave. You just need security clearance to return. People come and go as they please, except the underaged students. They require permission, and normally a chaperone. For their safety, as much as anyone else’s. Right now, I’m simply concerned that you’re not in control of your powers and might hurt someone accidentally. Besides, you’ve been through a lot and require some rest.”
Xander slouched back and stared at the ceiling. “How did I end up like this?” he asked. “I ate my vegetables. I worked out. Sure, I may drink a tiny bit too much, but I never did anything worse than smoke some weed at Eton. Okay, there was that one time I did Ecstasy with my girlfriend. Damn, but that was a trip. The sex was awesome…” He looked over at the attractive Asian woman. “Sorry. My head is still a bit muddled.”
The small, dragon-eyed woman chuckled. “Child, I am thirteen hundred years old. There is precious little that you could say that would shock me. And as for what happened to you, you have the X-gene. It normally takes an unusual amount of stress for someone to activate it. You apparently suffered a great enough stressor to awaken to those powers. Wind based, is what the evidence suggests so far.”
“Thirteen hund--” Xander stared at her. “Well, you don’t look a day over twenty-nine,” he said cheekily. “I’d date you.” He groaned as he pushed himself up. “Well, we were being chased by people that wanted to capture and kill us. I would say I was pretty stressed. Guess I should have paid more attention in biology class,” he said with a wry smile.
“Thanks. Yes, thirteen hundred, give or take a decade or two,” Syn responded with another chuckle. “And you’re not the first young man to tell me such things. At least until they see my dragon form, then the fear tends to kick in. And mutant biology isn’t exactly something that’s taught in most schools. It is here, but then we teach just about everything.”
“Dragon…” Xander shook his head. “Wow. This...This is a lot to take in.” He ran his hand through his hair and made a face. “I kind of smell,” he commented. “I think I need a shower.”
Syn went over to the wall and pressed a panel there, opening up a small, but full, bathroom. “Do what you need to. I’ll see to getting your communications set up and have some food and clean clothes sent in. Don’t try to harass the person bringing your things though. He’s just a nurse and carries those tranquilizers on him, just in case. Fair warning.” She grinned at Xander and headed for the door.
Xander smiled and looked at the bathroom. Well, that was impressive. He pulled off the hospital gown and headed for the bathroom, but then paused. Were they...watching him? He looked around, not seeing cameras. He waved, wondering if they enjoyed the peep show, but then headed into the bath for a much needed shower.
Absynthe “Syn” Drake
Headmistress, Townsend Academy