Super Is A State Of Mind ((Original Group Story))

Nobody ever means to do anything wrong. Nobody ever means for things to go spiraling out of control. But sometimes things happen, and sometimes things do, and it is up to you to make things right. One thoughtless act can send everything you know into a dark, dangerous place. And you have to fight to get free.

Kierie Bradner: littletoes32

Rose Arcus, chapters 2-10: RachelMarie1

Rose Arcus, chapters 12 and on: lighthousepaint97

Chapter 1

Prologue: Now

"Talk, girl," he says, but I won't. I think he knows it, but how can I be sure? I can feel the cold resolve in my eyes, and I see him see it.

His face hardens and I know what's coming. The electric current slices into me and I choke back a scream. I won't let him win. I won't. I can't. He has taken my freedom, my life, my identity, but he won't have this.

Once the electricity is stopped I find the air and the strength to laugh, albeit breathlessly. "I may not be able to do anything about it, Kozlov, but I hope you know you won't be getting anywhere with this," I gasp, aiming for strong, obnoxious, a little mockingly, but probably landing somewhere between sounds-like-a-cat-crawled-down-my-throat and pack-a-day-for-twelve-years with a tinge of pitiful-dying-cow.

Kozlov smiles cruelly, the lines on his face deepening. He runs a finger against one of the iron cuffs holding me prisoner. "Psyche," he coos, his slight Russian accent maiming the word--more like a lifestyle to me, actually--a little. "Psyche, dear girl, it would be so much easier for you to just tell me everything you know. I don't want to hurt you, sweetie, I don't."

"Hah!" I scoff. "Of course you do. You're a Schizophrenic sociopath; pain brings you joy."

A slight smile passes across his rough face. I press the small of my back more firmly against the cool iron platform holding me upright--almost upright; it's tilted back a little for easier access for torturing--becoming less cool the longer I'm strapped to it. I don't even have time to close my eyes before the back of his hand comes smashing into the side of my face.

The pain comes so quickly, so unexpectedly, that I do let out a cry. I feel the blood drip down the new gash on my cheekbone, my lip fattening and bleeding, my eye beginning to swell. "Wow, Kozlov, so you've stooped to hitting young girls," I say, swallowing my own blood. "Whatever happened to the code of honor? Whatever happened to being your own man? Does he own you now? Do they own you now?"

"Shut up," he growls, but there's no chance of that now. I've got him where I want him and I'm only just getting started--I've still got my best card to play.

"So you've given up on Kate, is that it?" I whisper.

Kozlov goes still, deathly white. "Don't you talk about Ekaterina," says the man so quietly I almost didn't hear him, seeming years older in a mere moment.

I puff up, arching my back to seem bigger and more intimidating. A pretty daunting task, considering my abilities are inert at the moment and I've been beaten nearly beyond recognition. "No, Kozlov, I want to talk about Ekaterina," I repeat, trying for the guilt trip. Maybe, just maybe, I can break him. "She trusted you. She loved you and you just let her--"

"I said--" Kozlov cranks up the direct current dial on the machine. "/don't talk about Ekaterina!/" He's screaming and now I'm screaming because he's turned it back on, and oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God--

As abruptly as the agony started it stops. Kozlov is in my face, suddenly filling up my vision, which isn't that great at the moment because there's probably like a gallon of sweat dripping in them, and blood, and my eyesight's not so hot right now anyway from the electrocution. "Here's how it's gonna be, sweetie," he hisses, his hot breath washing over my face. As much as I would like to say it smells horrible, as per the Classic Villain Characteristic Stereotype, it actually doesn't. It's kind of minty. "You're going to tell me everything I want to know and you're going to do it now, without any sort of attitude."

I work up a good mouthful of blood and saliva and spit it in his face. "What makes you think I'll do that, Kozlov?" I snap with as much effort as I can muster, which isn't much. "And if you value your life you won't call me sweetie ever again." He jumps away, wiping bloody spit from his eyes, and when he looks at me I realize how angry I've made him, how much he hates me. For the first time in this lovely encounter, I sincerely fear for my life.

Kozlov moves to my side, placing his lips against my ear. I'm repulsed but I can't move away from him. "You'll comply, sweetie," he whispers in my ear. "and you'll do it with a smile on your face, because we have him." I freeze, stiffening against him. Panic fills me. No. No. They all escaped, I was the only one taken...right?

Right?

Kozlov pulls away, a smug, victorious smirk on his face. "That got a reaction out of you, didn't it." He steps back, looking at me for a moment, as if deciding exactly how he wants to go about things. He smiles, horribly. Slowly, slowly, he stretches his back, each of his vertebrae snapping and cracking, making me flinch. I imagine each sound as a blow hitting my body.

He comes face to face with me again. "I won't hesitate, Psyche." His use of my sort-of-real-name rather than the insulting endearment sweetie lets me know he really does mean business. "For every minute you don't speak, I'll take a finger. And if you refuse, or try to escape, or if I find out you've been feeding me lies..."

Then he backs off, thankfully out of my personal bubble. Kozlov never finished the threat but he didn't have to. The meaning was plain enough. If I don't tell them everything, he dies.

I hang my head. This...I 've seen things, made nearly impossible choices. But this choice has an obvious answer for obvious reasons. I can't say anything. The secrets I carry cannot fall into their hands. One life to save many, even if it's his. It doesn't matter if we were a team. I have to let him die. It's what he would want.

I avert my eyes. "Everything started out so normal, you know?" I whisper, hating myself, my weakness, my selfishness. So much for my stubborn resolve. I pause, inhaling deeply.

Kozlov pulls up a chair--an iron chair, just like my bondage. Iron. Such a simple, everyday substance. Who would have ever thought that it would turn out to be my Kryptonite of sorts? "Go on," prompts the big man, rubbing the back of his neck.

I swallow hard. "I...like I said. Normal. Just your average kid. Senior in high school. Decent grades. Decent in sports. But not really spectacular at anything except being average." He laughs, a little burst, as if this is a joke to him. I ignore it. "I was average," I continue. "Until one little thing--actually, not a little thing, more like a big, massive, in-your-face, scandal-type thing--changed everything."

Where do I start? What do I tell him? The words begin flowing out of me without much prompting. "I live in southeastern Washington. I'm not going to say exactly where because I'm not going to incriminate my family in this but you'll probably figure it out eventually. But in southeastern Washington, the United States tested and created the first nuclear weapons. This was in a remote place called Hanford Nuclear Base. All there is around it really is scrubland and sagebrush but now there's a pretty busy highway running a few miles away from it.

"The road runs right past the secured area. You'd think its inactive, right? That the military has moved testing and the like to a more secret, secure location?" I stop for a moment and take a breath. Two breaths. "Well, you'd be wrong. It--it's still active and there's still testing going on there for..." I pause. He might as well know everything. Our friends in the government were willing to throw us under the bus. Now it's their turn beneath the wheels. "For new weapons. New advanced weaponry that this world has never seen before."

I have to keep talking. I have to save him. But what else is there to say? Does he want my life's story or something? On top of that kind of mind-numbing stress, Kozlov is looking at me with doubt in his eyes. He actually has the nerve to doubt me right now? When he obviously has the upper hand and it's not even remotely beneficial for me to lie?

"Don't look at me like that, Kozlov, you idiot," I spit with as much indignation as I possibly can while weakened and restrained. "You know I'm telling the truth."

A sick grin spreads across his face. "Oh, sweetie, I'm sure you are. I'm just curious as to how much of the truth you're telling me." I don't say anything after that. Is he doomed anyway, no matter what or how much of the truth I say? Am I doomed?

He snaps his fingers before my eyes, in turn snapping me back to myself. Damn. I thought I'd finally begun to control that. For the first time I realize I'm actually lucky my abilities are nullified--at least, I'm lucky I didn't have them just then. Who knows whose head I'd be in or what would be splattered against the wall if they weren't? "Tick tock, sweetie. You've stopped for nearly a minute--you don't want him to lose a pinky, do you?"

I stare Kozlov directly in the eyes and make a decision. Maybe he'll kill us both quicker when the time comes if he knows the truth--all of the truth.

So I speak.

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