by Travis Perry -
***Today we celebrate our 100th story! Can you believe it? And we're celebrating with an all-new look designed for us by Mike Rogers. Here's to the next 100! And now, on with the story :) ***
In the chamber with the pressurized angel tank, Ernsto shuffled toward Wizard Hobson against his will. The feeling was not so much his legs disobeying his orders as the part of the mind controlling his legs no longer seemed to be a part of him.
Hobson’s eyes were green-blue, he realized as drew close enough to peer into them. And then in a blur he threw his hands against the wizard’s throat.
Hobson gagged and his eyes bulged in surprise, but an instant later Ernsto found the control of his fingers no longer belonged to him. His arms dropped to the side—limp, like they were dead.
The wizard coughed and rubbed his throat. He laughed hard, as if all were a joke, but an angry glint lit his eyes. “You have very quick hands, my boy. And a quick, violent will. I was not able to detect your intent before you struck. If I had, you never would have moved a muscle.”
As if to prove the wizard’s point, his thought to bash the old man’s nose with his forehead left him feeling numb in his neck and back. He couldn’t make any movement at all.
“How?” he uttered. He’d intended to say more, but the paralysis that gripped his body hindered his mouth.
“How do I control you? Simple, my dear friend. Chemical compounds, mind-enhancing compounds which I’ve discovered from my studies of the angel cerebral cortex. This one isn’t my first…not even my first live one, but the other live one I captured, one I took myself when I was a much younger man, I moved into a pen under the sea, isolated, but still connected to the ocean. He called for help, mentally of course—after two days the facility was assaulted by hundreds from his tribe. I barely escaped with my life. But even more importantly than my personal survival, I retained the knowledge I had gleaned, knowledge I’ve been adding to and using it for decades now. All wizards use knowledge derived from angels, but I assure you, with all due modesty, I am the greatest of them all.”
“What…?” rasped Ernsto.
“What do I intend to do with you? Or the angel? Or both? I’m not quite sure what you mean. You see, I should be able to know, since I can enter your mind. But I don’t fully—which simply is further proof that there is more work to do, more discoveries to be made. In spite of all I have learned from the tools provided by the angel brain, in spite of all the corners of the human mind I’ve learned to tap into, I still struggle to do what they do with ease—communicate complete thought to thought. I wondered for a time if perhaps the human brain were simply incompatible with such a form of communication. But you, my boy, you give me hope!”
“Why, because you communicate with the angel. Or better said, she communicates with you. That’s why you enjoy being with her, even though you do not admit to yourself that’s how you feel. It’s because she touches your mind. I think,” Hobson chuckled, “she’s trying to heal your ‘sickness’ of violence…how quaint!”
“Ah, now. Now I get to experiment with the link that has sprung up between the two of you. That’s why I haven’t simply shut your mind down, by the way, or reoriented your will. I need to test you in a more natural state.” Hobson turned to the cyborgs, “Strap him to the table.”
Flat on the table, the two cyborgs finished with Hobson’s command, Ernsto felt his body return to his control. Not that it helped—the straps were tight and strong.
The wizard had opened the box. It contained some sort of advanced drill, with a very fine bit surrounded by thin clear tubes. The bit whirred in the air as the professor pressed a button. “For brain tissue samples,” he explained unbidden. “First you, then the angel.”
No, no! he heard her mind say from the pressurized tank.
As the wizard moved the drill closer to the base of his skull, Ernsto said through gritted teeth, “If you do this, you’d better kill me. Elsewise, as soon as you let me go, you’re a dead man.”
“Oh, I imagine this experiment will last weeks. You and the angel don’t die until after that. But I promise to wipe your memory of this moment. Tomorrow, you won’t even know any of this ever happened. You’ll think it’s just another well-paid day on the job. I’ve already done it to you twice.”
Great, he thought. He set in himself a determination to remember every detail.
I’ll help you, said the angel into his mind.