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Countdown Part V

posted Jan 8, 2019, 4:34 AM by Jeffrey Wolf

By: Katherine Alder, Staff Writer

Posted January 8th, 2019


We were standing in the hallway of the weapons factory.  Next to us was a door leading to a staircase, and along the sides were a few other doors, presumably leading to offices or storage rooms. If this mission was real, we would have a very limited time frame to find the weapon before they spotted us.  That’s evidently why I was here and not in a cell, but I had never tried to take other people into the blue time. Is that even possible? This program was remarkably detailed for such a rogue company, and why would they have this kind of facility?

Then of course, Jackson had to interrupt my thoughts by barking orders, “Ash, I want you to take the upper floor, Quinn the lower, I’ll take this one.  Morozov, just stay out of the way and try not to steal anything else.”

I sighed before replying, “First of all, you can’t stop me from stealing things, and second, we are in a holographic simulation Jackson, that means it is literally impossible to steal from it. Though, I do like a challenge.”

“Just stay out of the way,” he growled.

“You realize that this mission is basically a break in. It is our job to steal this, so sidelining the thief, just showcases your incompetence,” I replied casually.

“This is not some petty crime scene Victoria, we are not breaking and entering this is a serious mission.”

“My crimes were anything but petty. I robbed a bank in broad daylight in front of seventeen witnesses while it was being robbed, and the only reason they have any information about me is because your Task Force cronies leaked it to them. Admit it, my mutation is the most useful in situations like this. That is why I am here. You. Need. Me.” I ranted.

“I can’t believe this. You are bragging about being a criminal. What do you expect? Praise?” He shouted back at me.

“If I might interject, what is your power? And why do you call it a mutation?” Ash asked.

“I can temporarily stop time, I control it through this watch, I set it for the amount of time I need and I have until it reaches the time it was at when I first changed it. That is why they call me Countdown,” I said tapping my watch for effect, “And I call it a mutation, because that is what it is. Our genetic code replicated wrong, producing us: mutants.”

She nodded and said, “Most of us call it a power, because the result is an ability, not a defect, but that is an interesting viewpoint.”

“There are plenty of benign mutations, they are not all defects, so I prefer to stick with the science, not the wannabe superheroes. Anyway, we are wasting time, as of yet I have never tried to bring anyone else into the blue time, so we have to work off your clocks. Lets go.”

“Blue time?” Ash asked.

“Search now, explain later,” I replied glancing at my watch and resetting it about thirty seconds. I used that time to steal Jackson’s wallet and walk across the room and standing behind Ash. She jumped at my sudden appearance, glaring at me before following Quinn and heading toward the stairs. Jackson and I took off in separate directions in order to search this floor. The efforts we went to so that we could avoid each other were almost comical. I jokingly grabbed a few things knowing they would disappear when the projectors went off. I walked into one of the offices, and pulled open a few drawers, rifling through the files, discovering they were all blank, which seemed strange with the amount of detail they put into the program. I slammed the drawer shut, searching for information would be futile. They were very careful with the information they provided. They gave us just enough to work off of but not so little that the rest would get suspicious of their motivations. They never tried to convince us to help them. They practically drafted me into helping, and the others didn’t seem to need persuading; they were already sold on the “Task Force are heroes” ploy.  They could just string us along with the promise of more information, but never follow through with it. I gave the rest of the room a cursory glance before moving on to the next.

The walls dissolved around me slowly fading into nothing, revealing our scattered group all standing in the wide open training room. Axel and Jordan starred us down glaring daggers of disappointment. I sauntered over to them while everyone else hurried across the floor afraid of their reproachful gaze.

“What was that! We brought you here for a mission, and if you can’t be serious about it then you don’t belong here. Morozov you are getting on my last nerve; you are this close to spending the rest of your life in a jail cell.  Jackson you are here because they need leadership, so swallow your pride and stop falling for her taunting. Quinn, Ash, you two are mature enough to ignore their antics, but you still can’t get anything done. You are all incompetent, and very much replaceable, so get your act together.” Axel ranted.

“If I was replaceable you never would have taken me. If someone else has my mutation than you must not have been able to coerce them into working for your idiotic mission, so I am not worried.” I replied with more confidence than I felt.

Axel just glared in response. Jordan finally interrupted our silent standoff, asking me, “In the simulation you mentioned something called the blue time and touched on the idea of bring others into it what did you mean by that,”

“Yeah, I was wondering that too,” Ash added.

“Basically, the blue time is what I call it when I stop time. Everything kind of freezes in place, and there is this blue light over everything. It is beautiful.  Quiet too. Like, nothing is moving, so there is no sound, not fans, cars, electrical noises, animals, nothing. Even the biggest city falls silent,” I said pausing a moment before adding, “I am not entirely sure if stopping time is even the right word for it, it is more like stretching a moment out I guess.”

“You mentioned bringing people with you,” Jordan prodded.

I sighed and answered, “It was just a passing thought. If I could bring people with me, the missions would go much faster. We could be in and out before they ever noticed, I don’t think it will work though.”

“Hmm... We definitely will have to experiment with that later.” Jordan replied thoughtfully.

“Your power could be so useful, why would you turn to villainy?” Ash asked.

“I don’t believe in heroes and villains, just people. Yes, some of them are cruel, some are kind, but there is no perfect person. And besides, you say that as though I have never done a single good thing in my life,” I replied.

“Perhaps you have done some good Victoria, but you can’t deny that you are a criminal. Why did you choose that life?” she responded.

“Because, I am good at it, and it’s fun. I return most of the stuff I steal anyway, it is not that big of a deal.”

“Because you’re good at it? That is a terrible-” She started.

“Morozov! Return what you stole immediately.” Axel interrupted.

I looked over and noticed Solis was standing next to him. I hadn’t noticed him reenter the room. “What? Oh yeah, Jackson I was going to give this back. I just wanted to see how long it would take for you to notice,” I said, tossing him his wallet.

“Wait what? When did you take this?” He said surprised, he dropped it, not expecting me to throw something at him.

“Morozov! I was talking about Ensign Solis’s ID,” Axel snapped. I laughed and threw the card at him, Solis caught it. “All of you just return to your rooms, someone will come after you if we need you again.”


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