Sunday, 30 September 2007


I babbled something about drawing an image so that you could fill the gaps in with writing. I don't know if you can write a story to this though. It's a bit odd.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

ASBO-Boy - The page 100 catch up.

The story so far…

Most of the ghetto known as the Sandfields has been destroyed by a fire. In the aftermath the ASBOs disbanded.

The Elementals have reappeared on the scene after having their memories altered by the Numbers. The Numbers are a secret union of Others hidden under the Cefn Coed complex by Dr Euryale, the mastermind of the Authorities who control the city and the programme that created the Others.

Flicker is still in her mysterious coma. Gwen, the mentor of the ASBOs, has returned to Cefn Coed to find her a cure. While there she ran into her old boss, Dr Euryale…

Plagued by mysterious dreams for months, Omen now knows half of the story. Flicker has been visiting him in his sleep and preparing him for PANTHEON.

Meanwhile, Squeeze is determined to make things right by breaking into the Cefn Coed complex to save Gwen. Joining him are Vue and Core, two of the original Elemental line-up.


· In Microsoft Word the story has reached its 100th page and now hauls in at 44,219 words.
· The word "bum" has not been used once.
· Including this one, ASBO-Boy is 54 posts long, which makes it roughly two MS Word pages long (an intention on my part).

Workload permitting, I'm going to put a concerted effort into finishing this very soon. I wanted to see whether I could sustain a piece of fiction for this long and I guess I've succeeded. After a fairly leisurely beginning, some patchwork plotting and a few bizarre tangents the story has reached the point where it'll get a fairly tidy ending. I'm happy.

Thanks for reading so far. Not long to go now...

Friday, 21 September 2007

ASBO-Boy - The Battle of Dyfatty, Part Six

As the door dissolved in front of him, light poured in from outside, blinding Helix momentarily. In the distance he could hear helicopters, throbbing like war drums. He was expecting to see an array of soldiers with weapons raised, awaiting him, but the courtyard between the flats was deserted. All apart from one person.

"Helix, my son," Dr Euryale was standing in the centre of the car park, a halo of sunlight glowing around him, "What have you done?"

Even now, his soft, comforting voice was hard to resist. He was disappointed and Helix couldn't help feeling guilty. Looking down at the sword he'd forged out of dust, Helix felt small and young.

"I had to see for myself." Helix replied softly. "I had to know."

"And are you happy now that you know the truth?" Euryale demanded, "Are you happy that your actions have derailed the programme, undermined my authority – my vision?"

Helix levelled his eyes with Euryale's and returned the cold stare. "You created this mess. Not me."

Euryale sighed, "And it is my responisibility to bear the brunt of maintaining it. No matter the cost."

Helix had to smile, "You're threatening me."

"I made you. I can unmake you also."

"We're all expendable, I suppose. Even me?" Helix muttered, tracing a line on the ground with the sword. Euryale didn't answer. He didn't have to.

They both moved at once, Helix lunging forward with his sword and Euryale diving for his pocket. Before Helix could cross half the distance, a wave of nausea passed over him. Helix stumbled, dropping the sword to the ground with a ringing clatter.

"For what it's worth, I'm sorry." Euryale smiled sickly. He was holding a small cylinder in his hand, his thumb pressed firmly over the top. "Betrayal was one of the first things I factored when I created you. Control, despite your genetic make-up was never something I intended to relinquish."

Helix's vision was beginning to blurr. His whole body was shaking uncontrollably. With horror, what Euryale had done to him dawned on Helix with clarity. Somehow, he'd managed to de-stabilise his control, take away his ability to regulate his power.

Radiation, he thought. Euryale had used it to create him, now he must have used some form of radiaition to unlock a clause in his make-up. Helix pushed himself into a sitting position. Beneath him the ground shook, almost imperceptibly at first, then stronger, growing in strength.

"What have you done?" Euryale gasped.

Helix couldn't help but laugh. His body was falling apart, his control slipping like a fever. It was Core, destroying the foundations of the complex beneath their feet.

"I'd run if I were you." Helix whsipered, his voice grating like a rasp over stone.

Euryale didn't waste much time, just a brief hesitation. Helix sat on the cold stone and grasped for the sword. Maybe there was an honourable way out. Before he fell apart, before he lost himself to the poison sweeping through his cells.

Then it occurred to him. There was a better way. He could deliver the final blow. Consume half the city in a ball of fire they'd see from space. With all the strength he had left in him he concentrated on seperating his molecules faster. But with each passing second he felt more and more of his control slipping beyond him.

Distantly, over the sound of the explosions in his ears he could sense someone approaching. A blur became form and mass as Vue stumbled over to him.

"Helix!" he gasped, his voice ringing like a peal of bells.

"Run, Vue. I can't hold it much longer." He heard himself saying.

Vue nodded, looking around. In a flash, he was gone.

Finally, Helix thought, he could finish it.

The following day:

"Yesterday, the city mourned as terrorist suicide bombers destroyed the Dyfatty flats. The Elementals, brought in on a routine mission to silence the dissenting party, wasted no time in establishing their authority. However, things slipped out of hand and a small nuclear device was detonated, levelling half of the old city."

The following month:

"Dr Euryale has announced that there will be a new line-up of Elementals to replace those sadly lost last month."

The following year:

"One year after the now infamous Battle of Dyfatty, the city remembers its brave protectors and the never-ending fight against the dissenting voice. In this time of increased civil unrest, the importance of remembering those who have died trying to keep the peace is more important than ever. The ASBO programme and the fight to combat Otherness continues."

Saturday, 15 September 2007

ASBO-Boy - The Battle of Dyfatty, Part Five

No sooner had Helix and Vue clasped hands the walls began to tremble. "Was that you?" Vue whispered. Helix shook his head and flicked the switch on the communicator built into his skin-suit. It was still spitting static.

"I can't jump through," Vue stammered, looking around with fear in his eyes, his infinite freedom curtailed by confusion and claustrophobia. "There's too much stone."

Helix nodded. If the others had got word to Euryale, then he would be here by now and in force. With trepidation Helix led Vue and the terrorist stragglers back towards the surface. They had heard everything in the bowels of the facility, how Euryale had manufactured the Elementals and the city. What had happened since the inception of the project? What part had the Walls to play in the Pantheon heresy? Helix felt his muscles bunching under his skin. Conspiracy theories bounced around his head and he fought to keep them in check.

"When did the Walls go up?" he demanded of the terrorists. They were older, they would have seen them being built.

"Two-thousand and one, two?" They guessed. Details would be sketchy. Records would have been doctored, the authorities controlled perception of time and date. "Not long after the millenium."

"Why were they built?" Helix demanded.

"To combat social problems – ASBOs, youth out of control. There were riots. The city turned into a warzone before the Walls." The leader muttered, his words rang in a new light thanks to the proposal video. It was clear to Helix that the gross manipulation of the public went far beyond the Pantheon serum – what else had they put into the water? Hormones? Chemicals? Had they been systematically paving their way towards this outcome? Complete control of information and necessities. The scale of the thing was staggering and Helix still couldn't quite reconcile the truth, his conjecture and the growing sense of betrayal festering within him. He wanted answers and he wanted retribution.

"What do you want to do? We can't confront Dr Euryale about this, he'd have us silenced." Vue muttered.

"Can't we?" Helix spat, "I will have answers. Even if it means tearing them from his throat." Vue visibly recolied from Helix. They'd never quite been friends and it had always puzzled Helix. When he'd been younger he'd had lots of friends. They'd played football together – even then he was the leader of the pack. But then Dr Euryale took him away and unlocked his abilities. Since then people had never quite seen eye to eye with him. He scared people.

They didn't have time argue. Footfalls were approaching, heavy splintered footfalls pounding down the long corridor that connected led to the surface. It was Core.

"What have you done?" She demanded, diving into Vue's arms. Helix was relieved to hear wonder, as opposed to accusation in her voice. "Dr Euryale has closed down the sector – the army's been brought in. the whole area is surrounded by helicopters and gunships."

"We found something. " Vue muttered, "Incriminating evidence."

"You found your answers then?" Core asked. "I hope it was worth it."

"It was." Helix replied.

"They've taken Physic and Seraph into custody." Core continued, "I managed to get away. They wont ask questions. Euryale stepped off his helicopter with others…"

"Others? Like us you mean?" Helix asked.

"Yes – how did you know?"

"Euryale's turned the city into a breeding ground." Helix muttered, his voice drawn with weariness. "We didn't evolve."

Core nodded, taking the heresy in her stride. The word fitted to Helix. It resonated with the immenisty of the betrayal; it was, after all a betrayal of their beliefs, and for want of a better word, their religion.

"We have to spread the word." Vue said, "We have to win."

Core nodded, squeezing him tighter to her. "I will destroy this place." She said. "And I'll meet you up at the surface when it's done." Vue went to object but she stopped him with a quick kiss. Helix looked away. They never showed their affection blatantly in public. But this was different, he thought.

Releasing Vue, Core turned her attention to Helix who she hugged tightly. With their last moment of intimacy shared Core departed without another word. Vue stood watching her walk away.

"Come on," Helix said, continuing up the corridor, then the stairs until they were standing in the ante-room of the basement. The dust of the atomic particles left by the doors twinkled on the ground. "Heresy," he muttered under his breath. He had the need of a symbol, something tangible he could take away from the catacombs, something he hadn't had before. With a gesture he unleashed his power, drawing the atoms of metal from the floor to form in the air. Energy pulsated around the room as a shape began to appear in the maelstrom. Long, thin and sharp, a simple sword emerged. Helix held it for a moment and waved his hand along the length of the blade, sharpening the edge down to the width of a molecule.

Sharper than anything in existence, Helix mused that he'd created a weapon that could cut through lies.

Friday, 14 September 2007

ASBO-Boy, The Battle of Dyfatty, Part Four

The door dissolved into nothing and Helix stepped through. He felt resolution coming, like an unstoppable wave; it was coming towards him out of the darkness like destiny.

The air was stale, thick with neglect and dust. With an offhand gesture he flicked the lightswitch on. Power thrummed in the deep of the flats. Behind him Helix could feel Vue, he could almost taste his anxiety in the air, but Helix felt calm. For the first time in a long time he felt like was going to get answers. Silent answers. Physical truth that spoke for itself.

The walls and floor were bear, bleached concrete with imposing steel doors set into the fortress-like structure. These ones had large naval door locks, but they were nothing to Helix. Wall after wall melted away before him. The communicator in his skinsuit spat static in the reinforced bunker. Stairs and long corridors led them deeper and deeper into the heart of the structure. At a guess, it went on for miles in every direction.

They were at the city's sub-level and many of the corridors intersected pipelines that threaded their way to the whole city. Gas, water, electricity and sewage. Everything monitored at different stages. Areas were set aside with computers and equipment that were already ancient. This place had been here for a long time. Since before Helix was born – before the turn of the millenium.

"Vue," Helix said softly, his voice shattering the silence. "What do you think?"

"I see pipes and walkways. Nothing incriminating. Nothing." Vue replied, his voice bright and brittle.

"I asked for what you think."

Vue didn't answer for a time. "I think we should go back."

Helix smiled sadly and walked on. Eventually the maze led them to a control room. A multi-tiered room full of computers all facing a wall of screens and a floor to ceiling map of Swansea. On it, one could see all the pipelines that fed Swansea and all the relative post codes. The map was pre-division, so none of the walls showed up.

"It's a distribution centre." Helix surmised, looking at all the left over print outs. Flow readings, charts of productivity and control.

"For what?" Vue demanded. Helix watched him trying to forcibly deny the evidence before him, but to Helix it all seemed clear for once.

"Lies?" Helix pondered aloud. His words were heresy. Not that officials would use that word, it was too loaded with spiritual overtones.

"So they've been controlling the water supplies." Vue shrugged. "Clean water's got to come from somewhere."

Helix touched the power buttons on the central computer. It was laid out in the centre of the room and isolated from the others. It must have bellonged to the most imprtant member of the team.

The old fashioned layout of the interface was a doddle for Helix to overturn. The system was his within minutes of ingress. He recognised the code and the operating system as early authoritarian – before it broke away from the then monopolising system that the whole world had used. Euryale had once talked of its invention. He needed his own OS to protect his work. Here it was.

Helix processed through the words and files until he found one in particular: proposal. An old movie file – before they were banned. A recorded image. The idea was exciting and wrong.

His finger clicked the icon without hesitation.

"The systematic introduction of the Pantheon Project," Dr Euryale's voice boomed through the fuzzy speakers in the room. It was cold, as ever, younger and transformed by the eery echo. "A proposal to the government for funding. The project has several key steps, the first is the introduction of the Pantheon serum into the general water supply, city-wide. As the research states, the serum works residually, building up in individuals over a long period of exposure. The second part of the project involves use of radiation to activate and encourage Pantheon at the celluar level. Its design is based on Cancer – cells overtaken by Pantheon rapidly begin to change and reproduce but at a much slower rate. Early stages have shown that foetuses show great compatibility with the serum, but radiation in large doses can be damaging to mother and baby. City wide application of radiation would massage the Pantheon cells to maturity, fundamentally transforming the genetic make-up of the individual.

"For millenia, human-kind has developed and evolved to become the dominant species. Our brains and our capacity for understanding have made this possible. Now, thanks to the brain, evolution is within our grasp to control and nurture. The next level in human development is the heart and soul of this project."

Helix watched as the timer on the video ran to the end and stood back from the console. He'd been right. Anger and hurt didn't seem to enter into the equation. He was stunned. The truth that his feelings were correct, that his anxiety hadn't been without basis was possibly more shocking than the video itself.

Doctor Euryale had lied and the authorities supported it.

Where did that leave the Elementals? Were they just pawns, or was there a grand design hidden here that he wasn't seeing? Helix began to feel his control slip and the room shook, plaster fell from the ceiling. A hand gripped his arm and he spun in an instant, as if to strike. It was Vue. His face was fixed in an expression caught between fear and thunder. In that moment Helix knew that something had changed between them. A simple understanding had been forged in the belly of the lie that promised fire and damnation to come.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Voice: Part Two

"You're nothing more than a mouthpiece."

"And what does that make you?"

"That makes me the voice."

"Then surely all this is YOUR doing?"

"Does that even matter at this stage?"

"I suppose not."

"Then why not go downstairs?"

"I can't."

"You won't, you mean."

"Yes, fine - I won't."

"You can't avoid it forever, Amos."

"What happens to me if I go down there?"

"You, Reverend, will become a hero and a god."


"Are you sure about this, Reverend?" asked Mrs Allaway.

"Absolutely certain," replied William Amos. "You've done a lot for us at the parish over the years, and it's time we repaid you."

"But a house makeover!" said Mrs Allaway. "That's bound to cost a pretty penny."

"We've got plenty of labourers in the congregation," said Bill. "I assure you we won't spend any money we don't have."

"You're a good man, Bill," said the old woman. "And fancy getting me this bed and breakfast too! It's like being on my holidays."

"Just to double-check," said Bill. "You do have home insurance, don't you?"

"Honestly, Bill, I'm sure you're not going to blow up the house or anything!" She saw that Bill was still waiting for a response. "Yes, I have insurance."

"Great!" smiled Bill.


"'And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing,'" read the Reverend. "Which comes back to last week's sermon on Moses. He had knowledge, received from God, and that gave him power. But without the necessary determination, and the goodness, this knowledge would have been useless. Last week, I said that Moses was an ordinary man - but this week, I ask you to consider the alternative. Moses was an extraordinary man - an able leader, willing to do anything for the sake of his people." He paused. "Hymn two-two-seven."


"Any chance of seeing the house today?" asked Mrs Allaway after the service.

"No!" exclaimed Bill. "I mean - I'd prefer it if you waited until it was ready. And we're not working on it today. Sabbath and all."

"Very Old Testament of you," smiled Mrs Allaway.

"I know it's all sacred," smiled Bill, "But I must admit that I'm an Old Testament man at heart."

Suddenly, a man arrived at the church - a builder who'd been helping Bill Amos work on Mrs Allaway's house.

"It's gone," he said. "The whole thing's gone up in flames."

Mrs Allaway gawped.

"How did this happen?" said Bill quietly.

"They're still not sure. It came from underground - the explosion, I mean. Nothing we could have done to prevent it. Fortunately, no-one was hurt, and the fire service managed to control the fire ... but the whole house is gone."

"The lord works in mysterious ways," said Mrs Allaway. "Think - any other day, and I could've died."

"We also removed most of your possessions to help us paint the house," said Bill. Already, he was feeling quite awkward.

"And after the house price crash last week too," said Mrs Allaway. "I'll be able to buy a nice little place outside of the town ..."


When Silas entered the living room, Bill didn't even lift his head from the paper he was reading.

"Want another prediction?" he asked snidely.

"Leave me in peace," said Bill. "And get that look off your face."

"What look?" asked Silas defensively.

"That stupid smirk, like you're performing some astounding trick. It's annoying."

"Aren't you impressed by my predictions?"

And at this point, Bill dropped the paper.

"You blew up a house!"

"I did not!"

"You must have had something to do with that explosion," said Bill.

"They'll learn the details in a few days' time," said Silas, his smirk returning. "Then you'll know I couldn't have had anything to do with it."

"I'm not interested," said Bill. "Mrs Allaway's safe. You're a psychopath. And an annoying one at that."

"But you're a hero!" said Silas. "You're saying that that's not what you want?"

"I'm a vicar, Silas," said Bill coldly. "Believe it or not, that's not the sort of profession one enters for personal glory. Quite the opposite."

"But you want to make a difference."

"No," said Bill. "Don't do that. No armchair psychology for me, thank you very much."

"Alright, time for another ultimatum."

"Stop it."

"In a few months' time, there'll be a general election."

"I'm ignoring you."

"Which of the major parties get in is irrelevant." Silas licked his lips and grinned. "World War Three is coming. The United Kingdom versus the United States. And we're talking nuclear."

Bill looked up.

"Now," continued Silas. "I could predict more things to prove that I'm always right, but you're a clever man. We don't have much time. Only one man can prevent this war."

"And who's that?"

"Mr Pugh."

"Mr Pugh?!"

"That's right."

"Mr Pugh retired because of high blood pressure," said Bill. "Asking him to return to politics ... you might as well ask him to kill himself."

"He has to. And he has to become Prime Minister. He's the world's only hope." Silas grinned more widely still. "Well - him and you."


"You need to be there! To offer him advice!"

"And what makes me so qualified to offer advice?" asked Bill.

"You've got me!"


"I'm going to be honest with you, Alex," said Bill. "Because honesty's important, and I think too many problems are caused by hiding this kind of thing."

"What's the m-matter, Reverand?" asked Mr Pugh.

"I'm being harassed," said Bill. "And I think he's dangerous. But I also think he can predict the future."

"That d-doesn't sound p-possible ..."

"Maybe not, but I don't think being stupid about this is sensible," said Bill. "He's too confident. He knows what he says is true, and he's willing to prove it over and over if I don't believe him." He took a deep, cleansing breath. "Alex, he predicted that Mrs Allaway's house would explode."

"B-but ..." stammered Mr Pugh. "That would've b-been impossible to p-predict. A m-mine from the war, unexploded until now?"

"He also predicted the Unpredictable Housing Crash, as they call it," said Bill. He saw a look of dawning realisation on Mr Pugh's face; he could remember Bill's rise to fame as the insightful vicar. "And now he's predicting bad news for the entire world ... unless you become Prime Minister."

"Now, Reverend, you know I c-can't ..."

"Let me do all the work, Alex," said Bill. "Let me shoulder the responsibilities. You focus on what made you great in the first place - your leadership skills, your charisma, your ideas ..."

"You're asking a lot, Bill," said Mr Pugh. "My d-daughter's leaving for Uni in a f-few months, and you know how much t-trouble this stutter can cause me ..."

"Obviously, I ..." started Bill.

"But I'll do it," said Mr Pugh. "I t-trust you, and I know you wouldn't have asked unless you t-truly believed what you said."

"Thanks, Alex." Bill rose to his feet. "Let me know when you're ready, and let me handle any paperwork or anything that I can do for you."

The two men stood up, and shook hands. They said their goodbyes, and Bill left, cursing Silas for having ever appeared in his life.

ASBO-Boy - The Battle of Dyfatty, Part Three

"Understand this, you aren't getting what you want and you aren't going to kill these people," Helix said, commanding the room despite the fact that he was a foot shorter than the terrorists. With a wave of his hand their weapons faded away to atomic dust. The terrorists flinched away from him. "These situations follow a pattern. Hostages are taken, demands are made and invariably we step in and those responsible are never heard of again. You will walk out of this in one of two ways. Either dead or on your way to prison."

Vue felt his chest swell. Comfortable in the knowledge that the sitaution was in hand, he stood up. "Having said that," Helix continued, looking uncomfortable, "I am prepared to listen to you."

Vue shot a look at Helix. It was ignored. In a breath, Vue was gone and standing outside, near the concrete barrier. The others skipped over to join him, their faces concerned.

"What's he doing?" Physic demanded.

"He's listening to them."

"What?" Core asked, rubbing his arm.

"He's listening to what they have to say." Vue said, "He gave them the spiel he normally gives them, the scary one about no compromises, then he said he'd listen."

"I suppose he had to start making his own decisions some day." Core muttered.

"What do you mean?" Vue asked, his voice sharp. Her hand dropped from his arm.

"Well, Dr Euryale is always filling our heads with his way of seeing the world. They're so close. You can't be that close to someone and not question their beliefs." Core replied, looking at her feet. Vue started reading a million things into her words at once. Could she possibly be talking about them?

"Dr Euryale is right, though. There is nothing to question." Physic stated. "There is nothing else."

Core shrugged, clearly with more to say but biting her tongue. Vue couldn't deal with her and this at once so he decided to flash back to the flat and listen to the terrorists.

"I don't believe you." Helix was stating, his arms folded across his chest. The hostages had fled and the terrorists were standing in a half circle near him. They barely flinched when Vue appeared.

"Okay," the cynical terrorist said, pointing at Vue, "Take him for example. How do you explain how he can instantaneously jump from one place to another?"

"Evolution." Helix replied without thinking.

"Really? Do you know how evolution works? It's a slow process-"

"With big leaps here and there." Helix said emphatically. He knew this argument backwards. The Elementals were that big leap. A generation of children born with miraculous abilities. The next stage in the evolution of humanity. There would be others.

"I'd call being able to dissolve atoms a pretty unbelievable leap – wouldn't you?" The terrorist countered. "All we're saying is, open the locked door in the basement and tell us what you think of what's inside."

"What's inside – how do you know?" Helix demanded.

"We don't. There could be nothing. We suspect there's something pretty big down there." The terrorist replied quietly.

"This is ridiculous," Vue muttered, "Let's just take them in."

"Show me." Helix said, walking out of the door towards the stairs.

Vue didn't know what to think, he was torn between grabbing Helix and shaking him or going along with him. Both options were daunting. Helix, despite being their friend, was something else. He wasn't just an Elemental. The very definition of what it meant to be human had been rewritten with the genesis of Helix. His ability to unwrap the atom and put it back together was mind-boggling. The best Vue could do was jump around. Euryale kept him close, closer than the others; so to see him considering what the terrorists were saying was unsettling.

Vue dashed out of the door and rounded on Helix before he could walk down the steps. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because…" Helix considered, his face drawn with tension, "Because every fibre of my being is telling me not to."

Helix nudged past him and carried on down the stairs towards the basement. The terrorists followed behind, keeping their distance. When they were below ground, they found themselves in a long, bear store room. At the end was a door that looked as if it was trying to blend in. Why would there be a reinforced steel door in the basement of a block of flats? Vue had to admit that the room smelled stale and strange, it was clear that no one came down here.

Helix was shaking as he approached the door and put his hand against it. "There's no handle…" he muttered. Vue almost smiled – maybe they'd have to go back… but of course, this was Helix. Doors meant nothing to him.

"It's almost as if I was meant to open it," Helix said, his voice distant. The metal beneath his hand began to shimmer and fade away, tinkling into the ether with the tinkling of bells.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

ASBO-Boy - The Battle of Dyfatty, Part Two

"We have Vue! If he moves we'll kill one of the hostages." The spokesman for the terrorists shouted from the first floor window.

Helix and the others were standing behind the concrete barrier, a hundred metres away. "Great." Physic chirped, "Well, I suppose they were going to catch on eventually."

Helix ignored him and picked up the megaphone. "Declare your terms."

"Terms?" The terrorist shouted back after a brief pause.

"It sounds like they haven't got that far yet," Core said, her voice tense. She was standing nearest the barrier, her arms crossed.

"We want…" There was another pause.

"They're conferring." Helix muttered, "They actually haven't considered what they want.. Which makes them either the worst terrorists ever, or…"

"The least greedy?" Physic shrugged.

"We want a journalist… and an official from the council… and a crow bar."

Helix bit back an instant reply and looked to the others. Their faces mirrorred his own puzzled expression. They didn't want money. This was strange. Normally when they suppressed terrorists they demanded money first, this allowed the Elementals time to move in. Greed, after all, made people short-sighted. While they were imagining riches the Elementals could do their work. They'd always claim to have noble intentions, such as an 'end to the current corruption' and other such nonsensical demands. Never before had a terrorist cell demanded witnesses.

"Get me a line to the Tower." Helix demanded, holding his hand out for a phone. The police officer standing nearby handed him one then stood back. Helix was radiating again – the dust at his feet was floating a couple of inches off the ground.

"Euryale. Go ahead." The connection spat.

"Sir, they want a journalist and an official. They don't want money."

Euryale paused, this in itself was strange, his answers were normally instantaneous. "Interesting."

"What should I say?"

"Don't say anything. We don't bargain with terrorists. Take them down."

Helix pondered arguing for a second. He had to admit he was curious, but arguing with Euryale was pointless, the man was intimidating despite their intimacy as mentor and mentee. "You wish to comment, Helix?"

"No sir," Helix shook his head. "We'll speak again when it's done."

"Good boy."

Helix hung up and looked up at the tower block. Why on earth did he seek the approval of this man? Was it because he was the closest thing that he had to a family, or was there something else, a darker, more persistent reason there somewhere? Did he actually seek this man's approval because he, in turn, approved of his mentor? Helix wriggled uncomfortably. Euryale was right. The terrorists had to be crushed, there was no question of complying with their terms. But Helix questioned his mentor's capability of compassion.

"What do we do?" Seraph asked meekly. Helix turned to see the others awaiting his orders.


"Maybe they're calling someone higher up…" The leader was muttering, peeking from the curtains at the window of the flat. There were four terrorists altogether and six hostages. Hardly a great coup, but significant enough to call in the Elementals. Vue ran calculations through his head. How long it would take him to blast around the room and gather their weapons before the first shot was fired… He might not be quick enough.

"They're biding their time, making us sweat. They don't care about us, the hostages or their friend here." The cynical terrorist chided, pacing the dilapidated flat. "They've probably got more of him growing in tubes somewhere anyway."

Vue looked up. Where on earth had they got this crap from? Their brains were full of half-cocked conspiracy theories and nonsense. He could see the fear in their eyes. Drugs, alcohol, gambling debts, what number of society's vices had brought them to this?

"Hear that boy?" the cynical one continued his rant, "Give me a crow bar and I'll show you what your precious Authority jas been up to. Ask these people about the disappearances. The illnesses. The undrinkable water." He waved his pistol at them. Vue watched them flinch at the sight of it, but they didn't cry out. Come to think of it, none of them were crying either. Usually, at least one person was crying.

"Hear hear!" One of the shouted. The cynical one rounded on him and shot him a hard look. Were the hostages dummies? Vue thought quickly, suddenly trying to second guess the possibilities. "What's he doing?" The leader muttered. "He's walking over here." There was a long pause while the terrorists exchanged worried glances.

"I'm coming up. I want to talk." It was Helix, and he was at the bottom of the stairs.