Chapter 2- Trial by Fire

blessed-inversion-inhibitors-emblem

Previously on Blessed Inversion Inhibitors…

With the rise of Inversion related crimes, the United Nations form an Inversion exclusive branch of NATO to combat them. The Inhibitors are formed by recruiting members from across the globe. Under the tutelage of the RajTEK head of security, Steven Kessler, they’ll try to become a new type of police force…

Sasha Boone

-Director of the Inhibitors. Large and in charge

Steven Kessler

-Inhibitors trainer. 50% Drill sergeant, 50% therapist, 100% doesn’t want to be here

Rory Tymchyshyn/Construct

-Inhibitors trainee. Energy Constructs, doesn’t like being a sideshow

Fabiana Pereira/Mentalist

-Inhibitors trainee. Psychic, thinks mind control can solve everything

Jun Naegi/Reflex

-Inhibitors trainee. Precog, knows your moves before you do.

Wei Jin/Nature

-Inhibitors trainee. Elemental Transmogrification, one with the planet.

Kathy Preston/Granite

-Inhibitors trainee. Geokinesis, don’t ask if she likes rock & roll.

Katerina Sonter/Sleuth

-Inhibitors trainee. Aura vision, better tracker than a hound dog.

Karen DeGroat/Chaos

-Inhibitors trainee. Umbra & Photokinesis, needs therapy.

Raina Dahmani/Degree

-Inhibitors trainee. Thermokinesis, happy to be here.

Stephanie Balboa/Mach

-Inhibitors trainee. Super Speed, runs from her problems.

“How did the first day go Kessler?” Sasha asks a stoic Steven.

Earlier that day, the new Inhibitors await Stevens first orders. The training room they had met in the day before now modified to accommodate their individual abilities. Yet another perk of working with RajTEK.

“We’re going to start simple and test your limits. Construct, I want you to make as many simultaneous constructs as possible while maintaining their stability. They don’t have to be elaborate so don’t go crazy.”

“Yes sir.”

“Degree, fly for as long as you can.”

“Sir yes sir!” Raina salutes excitedly.

“Mach, run as fast as you can around the track until your legs give out.”

“Um…yes sir…” she hesitantly replies.

“Mentalist, Sleuth, Nature, Reflex, and Granite you all already know how to use your powers. You get to skip the beginner’s course and go straight to application. All you have to do incapacitate me. As far as you’re concerned, I’m an Inversion you’ll have to bring in. I’ll be with Chaos, you hit her and it’s an automatic fail.”

“What do I do sir?” she asks while following Steven to a set of chairs.

“First, no matter what the others try to do to beat me just focus on your training. Got it?” He waits for a nod, signals her to sit after receiving it, and then continues. “Good, you’re a special case so we’re going to handle this delicately. You ready?”

“Let’s get on this already!” she hisses.

“First, close your eyes. Next, I want you to focus on the present. Who you are. Where you are. What you’re doing here. Just let your thoughts run free.”

“O-okay.” she lowly replies.

“Good.” While his attention is focused on Karen, Jun attempts a grab from behind. Without even trying he ducks under her arms and spin trips her to the floor. His continued show of speed remained a difficult thing for her to foresee.

“What’s going on? Are you okay?” Karen’s concern taking over as her body glows white.

“Yeah.”  he replies casually, turning to catch a boulder thrown by Granite mid-flight, and use the momentum to throw it back at Nature. “All those thoughts running through your head? Don’t focus on them. Go back to the present. Remember who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing here.”

“But that’s so dumb!”

“It sounds that way at first but remember, your thoughts will wander and when that happens you’ll switch moods.” Steven pauses to catch a punch by Sleuth, flipping over her, and kicking her towards Reflex who easily dodges it. “It’s okay, just remember who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing.”

“Are you done attacking him yet? Can we finally try something of value?” Fabiana complains.

“By all means, tell us what to do.” Jun asks frustrated.

“I have an idea.” Katerina finally speaks. Taking the lead she approaches Steven. “Hey!”

“Yes?”

“Are you okay? Probably not, you had a huge freaking rock thrown at your head.”

“You’re the first person to ask that. Everyone’s been scared of me. It’s not my fault I can’t control it.” Steven replies defensively to their confusion.

“Well, I promise we’ll find a way to help you. Or we can kick your ass then help you first. Whichever you prefer.”

Steven stares at Katerina silently. “Rough but you…mostly pass I guess.”

“That’s bullshit!” Fabiana fumes. “You said we had to incapacitate you like an Inversion we’d have to bring in. How does that count as a pass?!”

“Inversions are people like you or me. I also never said how you had to do it or that I was even hostile. You should’ve been tipped off when I didn’t take the offensive. You all remember what it was like the first time your powers manifested? Sometimes people just don’t know how to respond and if their power is especially volatile they don’t need to get beaten or threatened. Best thing you can do is try to talk them down first. Fighting is your last resort if they aren’t an outright violent one.”

Tsk, you’re just making this up as you go aren’t you?”

“Don’t be mad you didn’t see this outcome happening. Remember what I said, the more you know the better the future vision will be. Can’t tell this was all you needed to pass if you didn’t know this was all you needed to pass.”

“He is so full of shit.” Fabiana mutters under her breath unsatisfied with his answer.

“You aren’t soldiers, you don’t have to follow every single order down to the letter. Sometimes you have to break the rules to do the right thing. Your orders might say to take someone down but if you can avoid it then take it.”

“You’re still a terrible teacher.” Fabiana insults once more.

“Trust me, this isn’t the top of my list of things to do with my time. I’m just the guy they hired.”

In the present, Steven decides to summarize the experience for Sasha. “They’ll do.” A vague summary but technically still a summary.

“Is that really all?” her brow twitches in annoyance.

“It’s the first day. I can’t exactly tell you how good they’ll be in action yet. Once they learn how to use their powers better I’ll work on getting them to work as a team. I’ll say right now, Karen should leave after her training is done.”

“Why is that?”

“Did you really mean it when you said you’d have an eye on us? You should already know the answer.”

“I prefer to have you tell me directly instead of being a smartass.” she stares down Steven who returns in kind. After a brief silence, he finally responds.

“Her powers are making her mentally unstable. Her emotions swing wildly even when she isn’t using them. I tried to teach her meditation to help but I’m no therapist. She needs legitimate help not to be left here.”

“There’s nothing to worry about Kessler.” Leaning back in her chair, she seemed unfazed by his concerns. “We have therapists on staff for just such an occasion. We’ll take care of her.”

His inner paranoid didn’t trust those therapists would want to actually help. “I guess we’re done here then.”

“I hope to see great progress.”

“I bet you do.” he says under his breath before leaving.

Three months pass by as Steven teaches the Inhibitors. Progress was slow but still progress nonetheless. Some adapted to working with others quickly. Others, like Fabiana, were more problematic.  It’s rarely easy to make a solo act become a team player and they resisted it, sometimes just to spite Steven. At the very least, they learned to work together.  Today was going to be another trust exercise. The odd blaring alarm they’ve never heard before would change that.

“All Inhibitors report to the briefing room. Repeat, all Inhibitors report to the briefing room.” Sasha orders across the building-wide intercom. It takes about three minutes for all of them to arrive and stand before her. “I’ve been trying to put this off until Kessler said you were ready but we have a situation only we can handle.  In the United Kingdom riots have been on the rise. At least that’s what the news has been saying. We know a particularly dangerous Inversion is responsible and it’s time we dealt with it. We don’t know what they look like but you won’t have a problem finding their handiwork. The Inversion in question has been code named Rage. Reports suggest they can extend a type of berserk field in a 40 ft radius around themselves. But nobody stays sane long enough to pinpoint the target. It hasn’t ended well when the police tried to help.” her tone and expression grim throughout.

“A-are you sure we’re ready for this?” Stephanie shudders.

“Well Kessler, are they ready?” Sasha puts Steven on the spot.

“To be honest no. Not all of you are. If the Inversion really is able to do that only a few of us will be going.” he answers without flinching.

“Smart, who will be the away team?”

“Construct, Mentalist, Nature, Granite, Reflex, and Degree.”

“You heard the man Inhibitors. Away team, you’re with Kessler. Go to the UK, find the Inversion, and bring them in however you see fit. Ideally, we can bring them in alive but at this point putting them down might stop the mounting death toll. Kessler will oversee the operation but Construct is field leader. Home team, you’re on standby. Dismissed.”

“Yes Ms. Boone.” The Inhibitors respond.

With Steven in the lead; the away team heads to the hanger on the top floor. There sat several VTOL, or vertical take-off and landing, transports. Specifically, a modified V-22 Osprey. It’s two large propellers altered by RajTEK to utilize thrusters for higher flight speeds. It was large enough to fit the full team of Inhibitors but today it felt lacking. Normally it’d take about an hour thirty minutes to reach their destination, but with their transport it’d take only twenty. For ten of those minutes, it was silent aside from the noise of the computer and engines. Everyone was anxious for their first mission. Were they ready? What would happen if they failed?”

“Rory, what’s your plan when we touchdown?” Steven asks to break the silence.

“Oh, um…Fabiana can look to the future to see where they might’ve moved since we started flying. Jun can use her power sensing when we’re closer to track them. Kathy and I will find a way to contain any civilians in the berserk field from a distance. Raina can redirect the ones we don’t get.

“And then?”

“We…we…” Rory tries to plan to no avail.

Seeing him struggle, Steven intervenes. “Can I make a suggestion?”

“Of course.”

“Killing the Inversion should be our last resort. It’s not something you can do easily and if you do you may never forgive yourself or get over it. We don’t know their full extent so taking them down from a distance will be the safest option.” he wanted to help the new leader but not hold his hand through the process either. Ready or not, it was time to let the baby chick fly free from the nest.

“I can just mind control them and take care of it all myself.” Fabiana suggests sincerely.

“Not every problem can be solved with mind control.”

“You’d be surprised.” She retorts.

“Even if you could, that would mean going to the field.” Steven interrupts. “I want you on the ship with me.”

“Exactly, we need to stop them but if we abuse our powers like that how are we any better? For all we know this is just an accident and they can’t control it.”

“I agree with Rory.” Raina joins the conversation. “We’re the heroes. We do that and we’re just criminals in uniforms.”

“Thanks Raina. After we find the one responsible I’ll try to talk them down.” Rory asserts his position as field leader.

“And if that doesn’t work?” Fabiana cocks her eyebrow and waits for a response.

“Then I go into a murderous frenzy and you can hopefully mind control me and her so we’re back to normal.”

“Told you, mind control solves everything.” she snickers.

“Just remember, this is your first mission. Work like a team, remember what I taught you, and use codenames. Oh, and don’t fuck it up.” Steven couldn’t just let a good moment stay good without ruining it. But that was his way of showing he cared.

The VTOL finally gets within sight of their destination. England was a nice place to visit and probably one of the few places people could name from the United Kingdom. East Sussex, in particular, was the specific region they were called to. It was located in South East England and held the town of New Hudson. It sat along the coast of the English Channel and was a steadily growing settlement. With the rise of companies like RajTEK, Gunma Inc., and Acel-Corp they’ve been able to rapidly expand and have gotten increased tourism. Its proximity to London didn’t hurt either…except when this Inversion decided to travel south. The town was in chaos and the skies were filled with smoke. The police were the first affected and the damage rapidly spread from there. Seeing it directly made the Inhibitors suddenly feel infinitely less prepared to deal with this.

“I’m building a landing pad on the edge of town.” Granite says aloud while opening the door. Extending her hands downward she begins to raise the ground and create a small platform large enough to support them but not so large it’d ruin the landscape. “Sure you want me to come along Construct?” she asks creating a staircase along the landing pad.

“Yeah, there’s only so much my constructs can do at once. But when we find the Inversion I want you to stay back.”

“Right, who knows how much trouble I’d cause in a blind frenzy.”

Hesitantly, the Inhibitors put on their headsets and leave for the streets below. Their uniforms reformatting to a multi-terrain pattern to emulate the British Armed Forces. Not that it’d matter, the streets were still crowded with confused and scared civilians. It was difficult to tell who was under the effect of the berserk field and who was just looting to exploit the situation.

“What do we do Ror-I mean Construct?” Raina asks forgetting her training for a moment. She never quite understood why they were given codenames when none of them were even given masks.

“Mentalist, where should we start looking?” Construct asks.

Fabiana takes a deep breath and looks into the future. Steven had begrudgingly helped her learn to focus the clairvoyance on specific events. While Jun was held back because of her own perceptions, Fabiana had a different issue. She could easily see the future but it’d often not have focus. Being vague and generalized unless she had a hand in directly creating it. After intensive meditation sessions, she managed to get a grasp on this concept. Though it was still up to her to convey it and them to trust her words.

“Where the people are rioting mostly.” Sometimes what she conveyed wasn’t actually helpful…

“This is serious Mentalist!” Construct shouts into his headset. His training to be more assertive had paid off.

“Sorry fearless leader. The future is still chaotic so all I can say is keep an eye out for some hippie girl.” her voice was sincere but Steven couldn’t help but watch her from the corner of his eye.

“Hippie?” Degree asks somewhat confused.

“A girl in a technicolored dress. She keeps appearing in the future and I think she’s the one in charge.”

“You heard her Inhibitors. Degree, look from above. Reflex, check the side streets. Granite, help me stop the rioters.” Construct orders.

“Couldn’t Mentalist be a bit more specific before we move?” Granite asks concerned.

“We don’t have enough time to wait.”

Taking the lead, Construct and Granite move directly into the chaos. He used his energy constructs to contain numerous fires and disarm the still armed police. He was scared but everything felt calm to him. Like he was just in the heat of the moment. None of his constructs were creative and lavish but simple shapes. Walls, boxes, or cylinders to prioritize quick action to limit the destruction. While he focused on the environment, Granite created stone prisons around the people. The ground extending upward from their feet up to their necks. It was enough to keep them from hurting themselves or others but not enough they’d need her around to free them. They had a feeling it’d be a long day. Meanwhile, Reflex had gotten better at seeing the future and could easily stay three steps ahead of any would-be attacks. The fact she could only sense a single non-Inhibitor Inversion in New Hudson made her job easier. Having to work around the rioters and not knowing her way around the town undermined this though. Degree similarly was having difficulty. She had learned how to better fly from Steven just in time to have difficulty navigating around the smoke. Yet she remained vigilant as all the Inhibitors did.

“How do you think they’re doing?” Mentalist asks Steven.

“No one’s screaming over the headsets so I’m guessing not awfully. Hopefully, it stays that way.” he replies somewhat in thought.

“Yeah, guess our first mission is going smoothly for the most part.” she leans back against her chair and crosses her legs. “Mind if I ask you a question?”

“Go ahead.” he says after a moment’s silence.

“What would I have to do to get you to trust me? You don’t have to be psychic to see you glaring at me constantly. Or maybe you’re just attracted to me and can’t keep your eyes to yourself.” she uncrosses her legs and stares at Steven.

“First off, I’m married with twins. Second, if you want my trust you earn it. So far you haven’t done anything to prove it to me.” his face was as stern as ever. A feeling in the back of his head had him on edge. The sound of the VTOL’s doors opened from the outside and a woman with stringy hair flowing over her shoulders that accentuated her figure entered. She wore a vibrant tie dye rainbow pattern dress. Her face calm and her eyes a blaring red.

“Should’ve kept your eyes on me.” Mentalist smirks before Steven is taken over in a rage. Before he can even act on it she binds him with her psychokinesis and barrages him with mind blasts. “I could’ve handled this all on my own but you just couldn’t trust me for once. Not that it mattered.” she stands up and walks over to Steven. “You have your orders and I have mine.” After a minute he finally stops moving or making a sound. She haphazardly tosses his body out the VTOL and puts Rage in handcuffs. Specially designed using the same technology as their prison cells to neutralize an Inversions powers. “Guys, I found the target!” she says frantically on the headsets.

“Good work, where is she?” Construct asks.

“I’m sorry…I messed up my vision…she…she snuck up on us…She took over Steven and I…he would’ve killed me…” she lies through her teeth. They were outside the range of her mind control so she had to do things the old fashioned way. Until they got closer anyway. She hated Steven but she did learn a few things from him. Like how easy it is to get people to follow her words without having to rely on her powers.

“Oh god…” Degree hesitates to finish her sentence.

“Dammit…” Construct can’t believe they were so careless to let this happen. “We’ll finish up here then return…”

With heavy hearts, the Inhibitors return to the VTOL. None the wiser that Fabiana was responsible for what happened to their teacher. To the public, this would be their first victory…but to them it was a failure they couldn’t forget.

Next Issue

Blessed Inversion Inhibitors Chapter 3- Spiders Web

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