CHAPTER 2: ASH
Six long years ago, Ajax, as most people know him, declared a war against Winston Illnid. I know, Ajax. No last name. No past history. Nothing more, nothing less.
Ajax was only 16 at the time. But held way too much for a moody teenager. His father was the CEO of the company Khale, which tested out on live animals. They took sheep, pigs, etc… into the testing rooms, then in a few hours, they change their DNA. Khale promised to never test on humans. They didn’t even dare to test on monkeys. They tried out on farm animals or plants and other living beings.
At first, it didn’t work. As soon as Khale changed their genetic makeup, the animals died. Slowly, their science got better and better. They made pigs have wings. Huge plants that could devour chickens in one gulp. Cows that made chocolate milk.
But sometimes the machines would glitch, creating monstrous animals. Half mutilated pigs with two heads. Plants that grew at amazing speeds and had long tentacles that squeezed and murdered prey like anacondas. Green masses of a slime goo that could eat through metal. These defects were thrown into the Mojave Desert. More commonly known as Death Valley, this desert is overfilled with dangerous defects. Anybody who steps one foot in there is wasted. Plus, other big companies dump their unwanted stuff there too. So, basically, its this huge dump filled with gross freaks.
Sucks to suck.
Once Ajax’s father was too old and weak to govern such a big and successful company, his son took over. But Ajax has no limits or humanity. He tested on a human without her consent.
This story is not approved, but what the government think what happened. A girl, which we do not know the name of, was brought to Ajax. She was only 10 years old, but strong. Her rough childhood sharpened her to a natural fighter. Thankfully, this girl didn’t become a freak and was a successful project. I never met her or seen her, but apparently she has blue threads that work kind of like telekinesis.
That’s why people call her Cobalt.
She’s the only female altered human.
And I’m the only male altered human.
I feel a connection with her even if she’s on the other side of the war. She’s Ajax’s little pet. I can’t call her bad. In this war, there’s no good or bad. Just Ajax and his psychopathic thoughts about changing human genetics and Winston Illnid’s side. My side.
The war has been raging for 6 years. It started as soon as Ajax declared that he had modified Cobalt. She went into battle before, destroying and killing without mercy. I’ve seen grainy and blurry video tapes of her fighting.
Winston Illnid knew we were no match to her. She was altered, after all. He knew this girl could probably go through his armies without breaking a sweat.
Winston allowed one person to be altered, then banned in once again.
He decided to change me.
I was eleven when he brought me into his lab. I was clueless, but at least I agreed to be changed. Cobalt didn’t even have a say in hers.
I was thrown into an orphanage when I was young, then taken into foster care. My foster parents didn’t treat me badly, but not well either. I was just there.
Winston just needed a kid like me. No parents that would worry about me. I was an obedient but a fighter too.
One day, he came into my foster home. He talked with my fake parents. Then patted my head and asked me “Do you want to leave?”
I nodded my eleven-year old head but didn’t say anything.
He asked me a few questions about my life. Then he asked “Do you want to change and help me?”
At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant. But I agreed anyway.
So here I am. In this base, sitting next to Winston Illnid’s desk.
Time was not kind to Winston; he had white and gray hair, bags under his eyes, wrinkles on his forehead and the corners of his eyes. But you could see clearity and intelligence in his blue eyes. He wasn’t senile either. Just crazy smart.
We were watching a tape of Cobalt from a few years ago. It was stolen from Ajax’s base from one of our spies.
It showed Cobalt in the training room. We couldn’t see much of her facial features. But even from the bad grainy camera, we could tell that she was agile, tall and willowy. She had dark auburn hair and light skin. Her eye color or any other detail couldn’t be seen.
There wasn’t any sound, but we could see Cobalt’s mouth move. She was talking to a squadron of guards.
She was then cut off as the door opened. Ajax came in, dragging a person with him. He was pointing a gun at a young boy with dirty blond hair. A hostage, of course.
Ajax said something that made everyone tense. Slowly, Cobalt turned her head to the camera.
Winston cursed under his breath. “They know about the spy. And they know we can see this footage.”
Ajax smiled cruelly then said another thing. That sentence made Cobalt even more tense. She drew up her shoulders but nodded.
Ajax shoved the boy-around 15 years old- to her. She caught him by the collar, then dragged him right in front of the camera.
At this angle, we could see Cobalt more clearly. Her green and blue eyes. The cute dimple on her cheek. The strong muscles on her arms.
She smirked and wiggled her fingers. I held my breath. Her threads always amazed me.
Like a waterfall, dark blue waves flowed from her fingers. The threads swirled in the air, glowing slightly. Their half translucent waves seemed like an infinite ocean, a swirling mass of blue.
So beautiful but dangerous.
I know why they called her Cobalt. Not only is her threads are such a pretty blue, but just like her ability, she was gorgeous, but you did not want to mess with her.
The threads quickly circled the boy’s throat, like deadly snakes circling its tiny, defenseless prey. Then it squeezed, choking the life out of whatever what unlucky enough to fall into its trap.
Which was the boy.
His eyes widened. The boy tried to claw away the threads, but it as no use. His fingers raked across the surface of the half-translucent threads. They were thin, but more powerful that anything. His face started turning purple.
I looked back at Cobalt. Her expression was neutral. As if taking someone’s life slowly didn’t bother her.
“I’ll spare you some pain.” Cobalt says. We couldn’t hear her voice, but she was close enough that we could make out her words by just looking at her cherry red lips.
With a single flick of her wrist, the threads suddenly jerked sideways. We could almost hear and feel the snap.
The boy’s face stood frozen in a state of shock and pain. Even from the bad quality of the camera, we could still clearly see his blank eyes. I shook my head. How inhumane and sick. He died of a painful death.
For a second, Cobalt looked appalled. Guilty. Sad. Horrified. Disgusted.
All a normal human would experience after killing someone without a second thought, especially a young boy.
Then a second ticked by, and her face returned the mask of boredom and sly humor.
She smirked at the camera once again without any mirth. Flicking her wrist again, she threw something at the camera. Then the footage went blank.
Winston replayed the last part.
After a few replays, it turned out to be dagger that she used to maim the camera. It was incredibly fast, and that’s why it took more than one replay to figure out.
“Stop.” I ordered, leaning over his shoulder. He obeyed.
It was paused at the moment where Cobalt showed human features.
“Interesting.” Winston muttered, then took a few notes on his small black notepad.
“What’s so interesting?” I asked, frowning a bit. I settled back into the stool by Winston’s desk.
Setting down his notepad with a quick sad sigh, Winston spun his chair so he faced me.
“Listen, Ash.” he started. “First, you must understand that Cobalt and you are both altered but-”
I opened my mouth with a retort. He held up a wrinkly finger, so I clamped my mouth back shut.
“But you are not her.”
I scowled. Of course I wasn’t her.
“She was modified the same year as you were. You both developed your powers around the same rate. The difference is that she is broken. You are not.”
I bit my lip as he continued. “I have no idea what Ajax has done to her to turn her into...this. Some emotional and physical trauma, for sure. Torture must have been used a lot. You noticed that small flicker of remotely human emotion, yes?”
“That small flicker means a lot, don’t you see? Cobalt might be battered, but something in her spirit isn’t smashed into pieces yet. This means we can still save her from turning into a total psychopath. Don’t blame her for being rash and violent. That’s how Ajax wanted her to be. He did a fine job. She’s pretty far down the road, so we must act now.”
Winston laced his fingers together and leaned back into his chair.
I took a sip of my water, moistening my lips.
“You need to befriend her.”
I turned my head just in the nick of time to not spit all over Winston.
“What?” I asked, bewildered.
“You need to become friends with Cobalt.” He repeated slowly.
“Fun!” I exclaimed sarcastically. “I’m gonna become best friends forever with the deadliest assassin in the U.S.! Perhaps in the world? Oh, did I mention she can kill people from miles away, that she’s a sadist, sociopath, has no empathy, mutilates for fun, and can murder someone without a trace with just a flick of her wrist?”
“Jokes aside, Ash. This is the only option I see.”
I slumped onto my stool, propping my elbows on my knees.
“What is this friend thing supposed to accomplish?”
“Many things. Such as win the war.”
“Hmm, sure. Getting me killed by Cobalt totally helps the war.”
Winston slammed his hand on the table. I made me jump. Winston rarely got irritated.
“Ash, stop your sarcasm. This is important.”
I nodded like a bobblehead.
“If you befriend this girl, we can change her mind. See the reasonable side of the war. If you pull of the human part of her, than she can be saved. If we make her change sides, Ajax will have to find another person to modify.”
“Exactly. How does that help? He’ll just make armies of altered people.”
“Well, tell me, Ash. Why didn’t her do it already.”
It never occured to me. I felt stupid for not realizing that earlier.
“Well said, Ash.” Winston said with a smile.
“I never told many people, but only certain people can be modified. I’m no scientist, but according to them, it matters on blood type, length of the DNA strings, and a bunch of other genetic factors.”
I cocked my head. “Sounds complicated.”
“It is. Now, Ash, going back to Cobalt.”
“First of all, I don’t want you to get killed. I’ve grown emotionally attached to you, and finding another altered soldier with be hard. Extremely hard. There’s probably only a dozen of you in the world that can be altered. You understand?”
I nodded, rubbing my temples.
“Beware of Cobalt. Take it slow. I will try to get exactly where she is and how we can get you together so you can convince her. In the meanwhile, you rest and train. Commander Carlson can help you.”
“Aw, come one. You know she hates me.”
“Complaining helps no one, Ash. You are dismissed.”
I stifled another groan and stood up. Pulling the stool into a corner, I pushed the huge double doors open, then closed them as soon as I slipped out.
How the hell am I supposed to befriend the most dangerous killer in history?
Author Notes: Tell me what you think!