A Skyline Forever Changed

13645320_10205499956253093_1999048360078657235_nAn excerpt from Crimson Son, Chapter 4…

How do you end a program of that magnitude? That was the billion-dollar question. They said the secret project which had spawned these weaponized super humans was over, but it really wasn’t. Some people thought of watching the Augments as a spectator sport, with property damage. Not until that day in September did everyone know the truth.

I was home sick, right after Dad had pulled his typical disappearing act. Convincing Mom I needed to stay home came easy those days. I’d complain about vague aches and pains. Stomach issues were good—not even your mother wants to confirm a raging case of diarrhea.

I remember having the TV remote in pieces. Watching the IR light flash as the buttons clicked had mesmerized me. I had started on a cartoon channel, but eventually settled on a local station in the middle of the “Good Morning” wherever-it-was-we-lived-then show. We might have been outside Dallas, I’m not sure. We weren’t there long. Suddenly, the anchors veered off the petting-zoo script. Monitors behind them showed a skyscraper billowing smoke into a cloudless sky.

Mom came to check on me, and when she entered the room I flipped the remote’s battery upside-down. I was only twelve, but even then I had grown tired of being protected. She never tried to change the channel, though. Not this time.

We stared in horror as the news played a clip of an Augment named the Djinn firing a molten ball of plasma from his palms clean through a smoking skyscraper. Dad beat the Air Force jets, but he didn’t get there right away. By then, the unbelievable heat had melted through the supports on the building. It broke in half, spilling girders, concrete and people into the streets below even as the base collapsed into a cloud of dust.

Mom had never cried in front of me. But her facade of optimism collapsed with the buildings. Tears flowed when the cameras caught Dad flying amid the massive wall of dust that rode the New York streets like a white tsunami. She frantically searched the corners of the screen when the view panned to the towers’ naked wreckage, jutting from the roiling debris cloud.

This was different than any other Augment attack. The Djinn came from a program outside the normal government spheres. Secrets had been sold, or maybe a rogue group had gotten lucky with their own experimentation. He flew—not many of them do. And the destructive force behind his blasts was unheard of. Many of the shots the Djinn fired penetrated building after building and kept going. Missed shots cooked a flock of birds somewhere over the Atlantic, blinded an airline pilot, changed the temperature of the New York skies during the battle.

Talking heads speculated in the aftermath. But even though the Djinn disappeared into the clouds before the day ended, the media persisted, uncovering the use of Augments as proxy soldiers in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, South America. Cuba hadn’t prompted any real change. The connections to governments had simply been erased. In that brave new cloak-and-dagger world, secrets were lost. At some point the invisible wars outside had boiled over and rained down on a quiet New York skyline.

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