I looked at Megan and she looked back at me. Then I was running for the door. I wasn't going to head out and help at the mall or anywhere else those beings were appearing. I wasn't a hero. Heroes might always get the girls, but they were also giant glowing neon targets. As I only had one life to live and I wanted it to last as long as I could, but if one appeared on my front lawn. I had no choice but to help. It was likely to come after me sooner or later anyways.
Outside I saw our neighbor across the street, Emily, a cute blonde eight year old girl wearing a pink bib shorts and a bright red t-shirt and pigtails standing outside of her family's car screaming at her father in the driver seat. "Daddy!" in a panic.
I was relieved that it wasn't a being showing up. I rushed across the street without even glancing for cars. We lived in a new housing complex, and while many of the houses on this street were finished, only my house and Emily's had anyone living in them.
Marshal, Emily's father was a buff bald man who loved to visit the gym. In the two weeks since we had moved in he had encouraged me to join him on more than one occasion. To help me 'improve my life!', but that required sweating, and pain, in almost equal parts, no thanks!
Currently Marshal was shaking in the driver's seat of his car the seat belt still holding him in.
Megan quickly wrapped her arms around Emily in an attempt to sooth the girl. I stared at her father a bad feeling coming over me.
With my abilities came a mana sense, which I could use to feel the mana in the air despite the concentration being thin. There was a lot of mana in Marshal, initially I thought he was awakening his abilities like I did, until I realized his skin was turning green, it was slow, but it was changing colors.
The beings seemed to be humans who were changed by the mana. A mutation. This whole situation was worse than I thought it could be.
Another scream from Emily woke me up from my thoughts. I could ponder the ramifications of everything later.
While I didn't want to I reached out and placed my hand on Marshal's shoulder. I had a high level mana core so maybe I would be able to understand what was going on. As soon as my hand touched him I could feel the mana raging through him. A lot had accumulated in him but it didn't seem to have anywhere to go, rather than sitting tight it had begun to rage around causing changes in him.
All except where I touched him. There in that one place the energy had calmed down and flowed out of Marshal into me. It was an instinctual rather than conscious action as I drew more of the mana out of Marshal and into myself. When the mana was all gone I could sense the damage that the mana had done to him. Before I could wonder what to do the mana that had permeated into his body causing the change retracted from the muscles and organs and back into what I could only call an inner space. On me it was where my mana core and ability cores were. Unlike the earlier mana it didn't flow into me. The mana that had entered into his physical body felt tainted. Maybe that was the wrong word, but it wasn't the same as the pure mana I had absorbed. As I watched the green coloring of his skin disappeared. Then to my surprise I witnessed the 'tainted' mana gather into a single place forming a orb but instead of silver his was green. Once it was formed a single glowing dot appeared then a second orb appeared, the bodybuilder with a single glowing point. After that all the mana had been used up.
Feeling relieved that Marshal would be alright I removed my hand.
"What is it? Is daddy going to be alright?" Emily asked her face covered in tears while snot flowed from her nose like a faucet. For such a pretty little girl she looked like a total mess right now.
"Yeah he is fine now." I told her reassuringly.
"Is he really?" Megan asked warily. Obviously she had noticed change in skin color.
I nodded. "Yes." I told her firmly.
Megan still seemed hesitant but also seemed reassured by my conviction.
Marshal groaned after a moment then opened his eyes. Seeing us he seemed confused for a moment before his mind seemed to catch up. "You saved me?" he asked me.
I nodded. "Be careful getting up, you should be stronger than you think you are." I told him.
Marshal nodded then unbuckled himself and carefully climbed out of the car.
Megan retreated with Emily in her arms. The little girl didn't seem to be happy but she was smart enough not to fight against Megan.
"What happened?" Marshal asked me his gaze sharp.
"You were mutating, I stopped it." I told him.
"Like the X men?" Emily asked with bright eyes.
"More like a permanently angry hulk." I replied. I still didn't understand everything but while I was touching Marshal I could sense what the mana was doing. When it was done Marshal wouldn't be human. Worse the mana hadn't reached his brain, but it had been heading there. If it caused changes there too, then he might not have even been Marshal after the mutation was over. Probably why the ones on TV were so violent.
"So what am I now?" Marshal asked obviously he understood he wasn't the same as he had been before.
"Whatever I am." I replied then patted his arm awkwardly. It was meant to be consoling but whatever.
"Like you?" Megan asked.
I nodded. "Different ability but like me." I agreed.
"Ability?" Marshal asked.
I nodded. "Close your eyes and focus on the images that appear. Then you will know as much as I do." I responded.
Marshal did as I suggested so I looked over to Megan. "Did you warn anyone?" I asked.
Megan nodded. "Of what? You had no idea what was going on." she replied.
I glanced at Marshal then back to Megan, "I have better idea now." I responded. "The beings are mutations." I told her then moved closer and reached out to Emily. Her father had almost mutated, so there should be a chance she could too right?
Touching Emily's shoulder I could feel that she had some mana inside of her, it wasn't much though and it wasn't harming her in any way. I touched Megan's arm next to compare. Like Emily she had some mana in her but it wasn't doing anything.
"Well?" Emily asked when I moved my hand. I caressed Megan's arm just to piss her off but she ignored it.
"You both have the same energy in you, but there isn't much and it isn't hurting you like it did Marshal." I replied.
"Will I be fine?" Emily asked worriedly.
I nodded. "You are fine for now. If you start to feel uncomfortable though find me immediately." I told her.
"I need to go get Rebecca." Marshal told me after he opened his eyes. "Can Emily stay with you?" he asked me.
I nodded. "Sure." then pulled out my phone to give him my number. We had talked before but it was Michael who had his number. Marshal gave me his and Rebecca's number before he climbed back into the car and left in a hurry his phone to his ear.
"What about mommy?" Emily asked watching her father leave worriedly.
I shook my head. "No idea." I replied honestly. "She should be fine though."
Emily still seemed worried but followed Megan when she pulled her along with her.
Megan took Emily into the bathroom to clean up her face as I settled on the couch my thoughts starting to race as I wondered what was going on and what was going to happen. My mana core had provided an interpretation to what was going on with the energy in Marshal and it had helped but it didn't give me any more than what I needed at that moment, which wasn't much to work on. I had stopped Marshal from mutating, but it was fast and I was close by. If he had fully mutated could I have helped him?
I closed my eyes to look into my mana core hoping to get some kind of answer. Instead I found everything shrouded in a mist. I could still make out all the abilities as they circled my mana core but a mist covered everything. Concentrating on the mist revealed that it was mana, probably the mana I pulled out of Marshal. Better yet I already knew that I could use mana to improve or awaken my abilities. Instead of rushing to use the mana to power up I focused on the mana core in hopes to find answers to my questions.
When I opened my eyes a moment later I didn't have much, just a feeling that I could heal those mid mutation like Marshal, and those recently mutated, but I had no time frame on how long after their mutation was complete before I couldn't reverse it. Except that it wasn't a long time. I hated trial and error. I wasn't an experiment obsessed scientist.
I left the mana alone for now. I had an upper limit that I could hold before I had to use it or I couldn't absorb anymore, but I wasn't there yet. I would save the mana for now until I knew what I needed. Besides I had to many wants and needed time to think it out.
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