Arnold beat Michael over and to my surprise he wasn't alone. I had told him to bring whoever he wanted and trusted, but there were very few who would have fit that criteria. He was a former foster kid and didn't make friends very easily, but that was a trait he had before he became a foster kid. Currently I was probably the only friend he trusted.
When he showed up he was in his crappy old car. He loved the thing, but I had no idea the make, model, or even color as it was so faded I couldn't tell what its original color had been. He called it a classic with a surprise inside. I called it scrap metal.
With him was a woman I hadn't met before. "Daryl this is Jessica Forel. Jessica this is Daryl Wallous." Arnold introduced.
Jessica was a recent addition to the foster house he used to stay at. Apparently he had been there when I called and Jessica had overheard his conversation with me then decided to tag along. As she was seventeen year old bombshell comparable to Megan I couldn't blame him.
My only problem was Jessica's choice of wardrobe. Bright yellow yoga pants and a pikachu hoodie zipped down to her waist to reveal a bright yellow skin tight tank top. The only thing she was wearing which wasn't bright yellow was her brown leather sandals. While it wasn't actually a problem, she did look good in it with her curvy figure and short black hair, but it was bright. No plans had been made yet, but I was sure we weren't going to be able to stay here permanently. If we needed to move she was going to attract a lot of attention.
Arnold himself was a skinny guy with a mop of brown hair, gray eyes, and a rat like nose. He also had an nervous issue and was constantly moving or twitching . Even when he was sitting down.
I reached out to shake their hands. Arnold frowned at me for my unusual behavior but did it anyways. Arnold was like Emily and Megan. Jessica was awakened. As soon as she touched my hand she jerked away and glared at me. It had been brief but I got a glimpse at her abilities. Her mana core was purple and ability wise she was better off than Marshal but not as much as me. Then again while I had more abilities that didn't mean I could use them well.
"Problem?" Megan asked quickly.
I shook my head. "No risk of mutation." I replied to her.
Megan relaxed after hearing that.
"Mutation?" Jessica asked followed a moment later by Arnold.
I nodded. "Those beings on the news are mutated people." I told them.
"You sure?" Arnold asked me.
I nodded then told them what had happened to Marshal while explaining my own awakening at the same time. Hearing that I had abilities too helped Jessica to relax, after I demonstrated it by conjuring fire on my palm.
"So now what?" Arnold asked once my explanation was over.
"Wait for now." I replied. "Michael and Karen are on the way back. After that I say we make a run to the local store and stock up before the madness starts." I replied.
"Why not stock up first?" Arnold asked.
"I want to check on their chances for mutation." I replied. "I have to be nearby if something happens, if too much time passes I won't be able to help." I replied.
"What about Jessica?" Megan asked looking at Jessica.
Jessica shook her head. "My mana core is weaker than Daryl's. When I tried to think about helping someone like Daryl described I got the feeling that I wasn't strong enough yet." she replied.
Everyone looked at me in surprise. I had no idea what to say. "I have a level three mana core." I admitted.
"Is the awakening the reason you changed?" Arnold suddenly asked Jessica.
"Huh?" we all asked curiously while Jessica glared at Arnold.
"I met her yesterday, and while she wasn't really big, she was pretty plumpy." Arnold informed us.
"Hey!" Jessica shouted angrily blushing furiously.
"Must be the body ability." I muttered.
"You should get it too." Megan told me elbowing my side.
I rolled my eyes but I thought so too. I did have all that loose mana… I forced those thoughts away, that mana was for future needs. Besides, I had no idea how much mana it took to awaken an ability. Hell, I wasn't even sure if the amount of mana I had was enough to level any of my current abilities either. Perhaps I should use it just to see how it worked?
"So what are your abilities?" Emily asked with a big smile. She seemed really happy when I confirmed that her father had gotten an ability and wanted to know everything she could about them.
Jessica seemed to hesitate for a moment but under the excited innocent look of the eight year old girl Jessica relented. "One level in body, one in fire, one in shadow." she told us then raised her hand and conjured a black flame. She seemed to have mixed her shadow and flame elements. Smart. I considered it for a moment but I didn't have light or shadow. I didn't think mind would mix with anything and when I considered mixing fire with space I got a bad feeling, like a warning that it wouldn't turn out well. Same for when I wanted to mix it with water, but air was fine. I tried it but nothing happened. I felt a disturbance in my space and peeked inside to find everything shifted around and a strong wind blowing around. I pulled the wind back and thanked the heavens that I listened to that bad feeling and didn't mix the space with fire or water, everything inside my space would be burned or soaked.
I changed my approach an quickly discovered that wind and water did well creating ice though I was only able to make a bit of snow at the moment, wind and fire made the fire hotter, and fire and water made steam. Not rocket science but good to know regardless.
Looking up I realized everyone was watching me as I played with my abilities. Emily was smiling excitedly at me, obviously fascinated by my use of abilities. Looking over at Jessica for her reaction I noticed the pikachu sweater again and found it funny that she wielded shadow fire instead of electricity.
Wait electricity! What abilities needed to be combined to use that? I turned back into myself looking at the elements and the info I got from each. After while I found out it was possible with fire and wind, but all I got were a few sparks, to use it as a weapon I would need some practice.
I smiled to myself only to find Jessica glaring at me.
"Fire and wind." I told her.
She frowned then closed her own eyes for a moment. When she opened them a moment later she seemed to be thinking about it so I looked at the others only to find them watching the television.
Things seemed to be escalating. More mutants were appearing, still just the two different colors so far, green were strong while red were fast and strong. Most of the fights were dealing with just green hulk men and women, however a couple had a red skinned mutant and those ones were bad for the police.
While the red and green had seemed bad enough, I had already started to wonder if others would appear, and if they did would they be worse? Was there a link to the mana cores? Marshal had a green core and almost turned into a green skinned mutant. I hadn't seen a red mana core yet, Jessica had purple and mine was silver. Would mutants with those skin colors appear? I hoped not, the green and red seemed to be more than the police could handle.
Thankfully the closest hot spot wasn't nearby.
It was the rate of appearance that was worrying me though. It had barely been a half hour since everything started and there were already seven ongoing confrontations shown on the news along with several more where the mutants had been put down already. Worse the numbers in each group were rising.
As I watched I spotted a officer get bitten by one of the red ones. It wasn't able to kill the officer before his comrades killed the red and pulled the officer back. There were two more greens in the group. However as the next green fell a new green appeared from behind the police line. From the same direction as the injured officer was taken.
If these were beings from who knows where, different dimension or secret government lab, I would have assumed it had been a coincidence. I knew the beings were a mutation though. I cursed as I guessed what I considered the worst case scenario. It had been off screen so I couldn't confirm it but I felt sure that the injured officer mutated to become the new green that was now wrecking the officers who had been suppressing the other mutants.
"What?" Arnold asked me.
The image on the TV changed to another encounter as the police started to get torn apart, literally.
"I am thinking the mutants can infect others and cause them to mutate." I told them then described what I had noticed.
They wanted to argue, that was obvious, but no one did. Being cautious was better than ignoring a potential threat.
"Am I going to become a monster?" Emily asked fearfully.
"No honey, we will protect you." Megan reassured but she looked almost as scared as Emily.
I moved over and wrapped my arm around the pair of them. I didn't say anything and I half expected Megan to start cursing at me, or at least push me away. She did neither, instead she leaned her head against my shoulder.
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