Fabula Imperium (Story of Power)
Author's note: This is an idea that I've been kicking around for a while. I hope you get a few laughs out of it, at least.
DoctrinaDoctrina (Chapter 4)
“I have a question,” Annie offered. Arcus noticed something strange about her voice, but he couldn’t quite pin down what it was. “Ask away,” Callidus offered. “I remember something from my history class. Were the people the ancient Greeks and Romans considered demigods actually Imperials?” Annie inquired. Callidus’ face brightened, as if he was happy someone mentioned that. “Yes, in fact,” Callidus said. “Of course, they didn’t need a complex machine like the Mobius Cube to bring the Imperium gene to full power. It was a much more dominant gene back then. For example you, Arcus, would be considered a son of Zeus/Jupiter, lord of the sky. You have control of lightning, after all. It took thousands of years, but eventually the gene began to recess. Of course, the ones who still possessed it were powerful figures in history. Leadership came naturally to them. They didn’t have abilities like yours, though.” Callidus paused. “The probability of seven different imperials coming together, however, is astonishing,” he murmured. “No wonder Aston wanted you on his side. With you, doubtless he would’ve taken control of the city, most likely the world.” Arcus assumed he meant the entire group, however Callidus seemed to look at Arcus specifically when he said it. He felt a shiver go down his spine. “Wait a second,” Shadix interrupted. “If these supposed demigods existed, did mythological monsters exist too?” Callidus’ face darkened. He looked like a weight had just been put on his shoulders. He stood up and began pacing in front of his chair. “I find that most myths are based on a single grain of truth,” he began. He stopped and looked at the group resolutely. “Why should this one be any different?” he asked darkly. He began pacing again. “I have a theory,” he continued. “I believe there is another gene in the human population, similar to the Imperium gene. Those monsters you were talking about? Let me talk about one in particular. You know about the Minotaur?” he asked. Arcus didn’t see how this was relevant, but he decided to humor the scientist. “Half man, half bull,” Arcus volunteered. Callidus nodded. “And what does that sound like to you?” Callidus pressed. Arcus had to think on that one. Then, he thought of something that brought another chill down his spine. “Mutation,” he said slowly, the truth dawning on him. “Exactly,” Callidus affirmed. “I call it the Turpis gene.” Arcus felt a stab of fear go through his heart when he heard the name. The strange thing was he didn’t know why. Callidus continued his story. “The gene is rare, mind you, but it exists nonetheless. A rivalry… no, not a rivalry. A WAR between the Imperials and the Turpisians has been going on for over seven thousand years. The gene is recessed, yes, but like the Imperium gene, it still spreads its vile influence. Adolf Hitler is a good example.” He paused and looked at us. “What, you think the gene hasn’t been involved in recent events? Why do you think terrorists exist in the first place?” he asked. No one volunteered an answer. Callidus cleared his throat. “Thankfully, my theory would suggest that the gene has recessed even more since then. If someone built a machine to bring the Turpis gene back to full dominance, the effect would only be temporary.” He clapped his hands. “Well! That was depressing. I have a couple beds in the back in case I’m here late working on a project, which is pretty often. You all should get some sleep.” Arcus realized how tired he was now that the adrenaline of the day had worn off. He stumbled to the back room. He laid down on one of the beds, and passed out before his head hit the pillow. He began to dream again.
He dreamed that he was listening to a conversation between his parents through his bedroom door. This memory was an old one, so old that he had almost forgotten it. His parents’ voices were slightly muffled, but he could understand them well enough. He heard his mom talking. “-can’t go. You know you can’t go, it’s too dangerous,” his mom pleaded. “It’s just for a couple days, Mary. Just until we can get things to settle down over there,” his father’s voice soothed. “Please, John, I can’t lose you,” Mary begged. “You won’t. I’ll be fine, I promise,” John said, gently but firmly. Arcus didn’t know it at the time, but now he knew that was the only promise his father couldn’t keep.
He woke up disoriented at first. It all came rushing back to him in a flood. All the stuff about genetics, powers, and myths seemed like some crazy hallucination to him now. He snapped his fingers, and watched the orange-red sparks fly outward. He was warming to the idea of having superpowers. He was having fun creating sparks and miniature lightning bolts between his hands, until a spark landed on the bed behind him. He felt something hot on his back a few seconds later. He leapt backwards and yelled “Whoa!” He looked frantically around for a fire extinguisher, until he was suddenly doused in cold water. He coughed, and rubbed his eyes. “Where did that come from?” he wondered aloud. He opened his eyes, and saw Mila standing a few feet away from him. “Sleep well?” she asked with her arms crossed, a smirk on her face. Half his brain thought she was cute when she did that. The other half told it to shut up. “Did you…” he started. “Yep,” she affirmed. “I figured out what I could do when I took a shower,” she continued. “There are showers here?” he asked incredulously. Mila looked at him like she didn’t know whether or not to take him seriously. “Really? We just found out you activated a sci-fi device, that we have superpowers, and that Aston Exitium is trying to kill us, and the strange part about that to you is that there are showers here?” she asked, tilting her head to one side. Arcus shrugged. “Point taken,” he admitted. “Anyway,” Mila continued. “I was awake instantly, and all the cuts and bruises I had yesterday started closing up. After that, I found out that I could manipulate the water,” she concluded. Arcus regarded her with a newfound respect. “So, water and electricity, huh?” he asked. “Not just those two,” Mila corrected. “You might want to come out into the lab,” she offered. Arcus followed her out of the back room. He didn’t see anything, though. That’s when he heard it. Footsteps. That didn’t make any sense, though. There was nobody except Mila and him in the room, and she was standing still. The footsteps continued until they stopped right in front of him. That was when Leo decided to magically appear out of thin air and yell “Boo!” at the top of his lungs. Arcus jerked backwards and banged his thigh on the metal counter behind him. “Ow.” He said, exasperated. Leo was grinning. “Pretty cool, huh?” he asked. “How did you even…” Arcus started. Leo walked to one of the tall windows on the left wall. Morning sunlight was streaming in. “Watch this,” Leo instructed. He held out his hand to the sunlight, and Arcus had to rub his eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. Light was condensing (for lack of a better term) into Leo’s outstretched palm. He held it out for Arcus to look at. It was too bright to look directly at it, so Arcus shielded his eyes with his hand. He stared at Leo. Leo stared back. “Light?” Arcus asked. “Light,” Leo confirmed. He lightly flung the miniature sun into the air and watched as it made a little fireworks show as it dissipated. Arcus crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Okay, if you’re trying to make me jealous… it worked,” he admitted. Leo grinned again. He seemed to be fond of doing that. “Oh, and that little disappearing trick you saw earlier...” Leo snapped his fingers, and light almost seemed to split where it hit Leo’s skin. After a couple seconds, Arcus couldn’t see anything. Leo faded back into existence. “I can bend light around myself, along with other objects or people, creating the illusion of invisibility,” Leo explained. “I take back what I said earlier,” Arcus said. “Now I’m really jealous.” Leo shrugged. “Don’t take it personally that I’m more awesome than you are,” he said airily. Arcus punched him lightly in the arm. Leo yelped and leapt back. “You okay?” Arcus asked, concerned. Leo winced. “Yeah. SHOCKING *wink* how hard you punch, huh?” he asked jokingly, although he looked to be in some pain. Arcus rubbed the back of his head ruefully. “I’m going to have to learn to control that,” Arcus said. “Well, this is a perfect opportunity to show you what else I can do,” Leo said. He walked back to the window and gathered light in his hand again. This time, he rubbed it on the bruise Arcus had given him. After a few seconds, it was gone. Leo grinned. “Again… pretty cool, huh?“ Arcus nodded absentmindedly. He looked around. “Where’s Shadix, anyway?” he asked. Leo gestured with his hand. “Oh, he’s around,” he said airily. Arcus stared at Leo. “He’s behind me, isn’t he?” Arcus asked. Leo nodded. “How long has he been there?” Arcus inquired. “Oh, since we started talking,” Leo said. Arcus turned around. “Come out, I know you’re there,” he called. A shadow melted out of the wall in front of him. When it hit the ground, it turned into Shadix. He was grinning. Arcus stared at him. Shadix stared back. “Shadows?” Arcus ventured. “Shadows,” Shadix affirmed. “How did you know where I was?” Shadix asked. Arcus hesitated. “I’m… not sure exactly,” Arcus admitted. “Hmm…” Leo hummed. “What?” Arcus asked. “Let me try something,” Leo suggested. He turned invisible again. “Try and follow where I’m moving,” said his disembodied voice. Arcus didn’t know why, but his eyes traced a path winding through the maze of counters. He stopped in a particular spot. He pointed to where he was looking. “That where you are, Leo?” he called. Sure enough, Leo appeared where he was pointing. He put up his hands in mock surrender. “Guilty as charged,” he called back. “Have any idea how you do it?” Leo asked. Arcus rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Then he had an idea. “You were in science class, right?” Arcus asked. Leo nodded “What do you know about the nervous system?” Leo pondered for a second. “Well, it’s the line of communication between the brain and muscles, right?” Leo asked. Arcus nodded. “It sends messages by way of…” Leo’s eyes widened as he made the connection. “Electrical impulses,” Arcus finished. “Dude! You can sense my nervous system! That is SO cool!” Leo gushed. “Oh, don’t take it personally that I’m more awesome than you are,” Arcus said airily. They stared at each other. They both burst out laughing. When they stopped, Arcus looked around. “Where did Annie go?” he wondered. “Oh, she’s at the private testing facility,” Leo said vaguely. Arcus cocked an eyebrow at him. “It’s the fancy term for indoor firing range,” Shadix interrupted. “Indoor firing range? Do we HAVE an indoor firing range?” Arcus asked incredulously. “Yes, but not like what you’d think. Just follow me,” Shadix offered. He walked to a relatively large door to their left. Arcus glanced at Leo. “Did you know about this?” Arcus asked suspiciously. Leo shrugged innocently. Arcus shook his head, and followed Shadix through the door.