Chapter 3: Matthias

12/14/07

Natasha's screams echoed through the facility. The lights flickered, pulsed, and then blew out. I ran through the winding hallways, crunching the dried leaves underfoot. There were loud, electric, pounding noises as the fluorescent lights shattered. The hallways were slowly being engulfed in darkness. I saw the doors of the central chamber thrown open, blue light flooding from the steel cylinder in the center of the room. And then, as I slid into the chamber, nothing. The blinding light disappear, and the steel walls slowly slid back into place, revealing Project Antithesis. Everything was dim, I could barely see.

"That's strange," a voice said, "you look exactly like me."

A woman, bare and pale, skin glowing with an unhealthy, light blue radiance, stood above an exhausted Natasha.

"Actually, come to think of it, who am I?" the woman said, suddenly confused. She outstretched her arms, and wiggled her fingers, with an expression on her face that implied she was truly perplexed by her ability to move. "I'm, let's see, let me think... I'm Natasha right? I, wait no."

"I'm Natasha," Natasha managed to spit out. She propped herself up on her elbows and glared at the woman in front of her.

"Wait, so then, am I..." realization dawned on the woman's face, "Oh! Oh! I'm the clone aren't I?! That's fun. Hmm, that's odd though... I have your memories. So Project Antithesis isn't a normal cloning process is it?" The clone grabbed a section of hair that was hanging in front of her eyes, it was dyed electric blue. "If I was a true clone then I wouldn't be the same age as you, would I? And I wouldn't have dyed hair. So what does that imply, does Project Antithesis merely replicate the subject molecule for molecule? That would create an identical brain, and identical body... Which would explain why I have your memories." The girl looked at herself again, "Oh hey, I'm not wearing any clothes."

"Here," I said, both the clone and Natasha jumped. I took off my long coat, brown leather, and tossed it to the clone. She slipped it on, smiling, and zipped it up.

"Dunno if I love it, Tra- ah, Matt," the clone said. "I don't think it's quite my style. Hey, here's a question. If I'm a clone, then, I should be Type-III or so, right? I should have some special talents, right? How do you think I use them, just kinda focus or something? Maybe if I do something with my hands..." the clone held up two fingers. At first, nothing happened... but then, a bright, blue electric spark jumped between the fingers.

"Electricity?" I said, somewhat surprised, "I don't think anyone has had that before..."

"I wonder what else I can do!" the clone said, a disturbing smile spread across her face. Ball of electricity formed in her right hand, hovering there for a few seconds. Then, gingerly, she tossed the ball to her left hand. She had a childlike look of glee on her face. The ball turned into a bolt, and rapidly wrapped itself around her body, spiraling back to her left hand, then discharging with a flash and flying across the room, connecting with the opposite in a violent explosion the sent debris and dust flying outward. A few residual sparks jumped along the wall the disappeared.

"... Electricity doesn't work like that," Natasha muttered. I edged myself towards Natasha, the clone had become too focused with her newfound abilities to notice. I offered my hand to Natasha, and pulled her off the ground.

"You know what happened to the clones in Project Antithesis, right?" Natasha whispered to me.

"No, what?"

"They went insane, developed the worst case of bloodlust you've ever seen."

"That seems bad."

"It gets worse," Natasha said, the clone giggled, sending another bolt into the ground, "The Thunderbird was here. I think its powers were infused with the clone, I think that's how they made it work with humans, they stole the abilities from another creature."

"But if the Thunderbird was here..."

"Then someone is a traitor, and we know who," Natasha said.

"Daphne?"

"Daphne, or someone that she trusts. Either way, we can't trust her anymore. And let's not forget who's idea it was to come here in the first place, Matthias. She knew we were coming here before we did."

"HEY!" the clone said suddenly as she spun around to face us, "I need a name!"

"You-" I started.

"How about Antithesis? You know, cause, Project Antithesis? I'm the only successful human clone? You know? Plus it sounds cool," she said. "Oh, hey, that reminds me, I don't really want another clone. If there are other clones, that makes me less special!" Electricity engulfed her, sparks flooded off her skin, and she through a bolt of blue lightning at the main console of Project Antithesis. The screens blew out, and the metal where the bolt connected was ruptured, the electricity went straight through it like a bullet.

"Don't you think you should be a bit more care-" I started, only to be interrupted again.

"You know what? I don't really think I want people to know I'm a clone. That would be bad, create all sorts of questions and stuff. You two can keep quiet, right?" Antithesis was pausing for air between sentences, "Hey, I bet they have backup blueprints for Project Antithesis here. I might have to destroy the building. Oh hey, by the way, just kinda thought of this, but I changed my mind. You two probably can't keep quiet about the whole clone thing. Oh! Idea! What if I kill you! Problem solved!"

Antithesis grinned, and electricity flowed around her hands. I reached for my gun, but Natasha was faster. She had picked hers up, and put the barrel to Antithesis's temple before I could even unholster mine.

"You know that metal is conductive, right?" Antithesis whispered. Electricity jumped across the gun, and channeled itself viciously into Natasha. She dropped her handgun and stumbled back. I unloaded into Antithesis, the bullets stopped millimeters short of her, and dropped to the ground. "Would you look at that, electromagnetism! I am going to be awesome." Natasha stumbled to her feet, grabbed her gun again, and while Antithesis was advancing on me, pistol-whipped her. Antithesis howled, and Natasha fired six rounds at the abomination, not a single hit.

"RUN!" I yelled. Natasha fired one more shot, this one Antithesis caught in a field of electricity, and threw back at Natasha. It barely missed her head. We ran.

Antithesis cackled, like a hyena. Animalistic, inhuman, malevolent, she laughed. She was hysterical. We ran, she didn't even bother to give chase. We bolted down the hallways, and electricity flooded after us. Bolts of lightning covered the walls, the floor, the ceiling, racing after us. The leaves blazed, the walls burned and scorched as the lightning wave lunged after us. And then Antithesis was behind us, her body deformed, dissolved into electricity, then reformed, becoming solid again, flying, literally flying after us, before bursting into a shower of sparks again, and all around us, her cackled.

The electricity behind us dissipated as the ball of energy and light that was Antithesis shot upward. The force of the electricity shattered the ceiling, and the ceiling above that, and the one above that. Antithesis shot straight upwards, outside of the building. Sparks were arcing between every piece of metal in the entire facility. Antithesis's voice, shrill and childlike, came over the intercom. She said nothing though, just laughed, the pitch increasing to an alien whine before all the loudspeakers blew off the wall.

Then Antithesis was back, just as we made it to the last hallway before the front door, she slammed back down through the roof. The electricity was blinding and everywhere. I felt the sparks rippling around me, biting me like insects. Antithesis's eyes were glowing, two spheres of electric light. She howled with laughter, throwing her head back. Bolts of lightning flew off her in every direction, burning the air behind them. The walls cracked and buckled as the steel beams and copper wires in them lurched towards Antithesis. My belt buckle, my watch, they tore at me, dragged me towards her, I fell to my feet. I went to fire my handgun, but it was wrenched from my hand. It flew towards her, then burst into a thousand pieces.

Then Antithesis was gone again, she disappeared in a shower of sparks. The monster had forgotten its goal, it had forgotten its target, now it was just gleefully enjoying the destruction. Like a child knocking over a sand castle. We ran out the front door, ran for Katie. The sky was black with thunderclouds. I tossed the keys to Natasha and threw myself into the passenger seat. Sparks began to ripple across the pavement, and as Natasha turned the key, Antithesis reformed a few yards behind us. Natasha floored the accelerator, but we didn't move. Katie's wheels spun, the tires screeched, but we didn't move. Antithesis was pulling us back towards us. Lightning arced between us, between Katie, between the metal fence, between the street lights, every bolt originating at Antithesis. The air filled with the smell of burning rubber, we began to slide backwards. Antithesis laughed. A bolt of lightning, enormous, shot from the sky, and sustained itself on Antithesis.

We shot forward, the tires squealed. Antithesis forgot us, she shot back into the sky, becoming pure energy again. As we sped away from the facility, Antithesis sent a salvo of lightning towards the building. It buckled, it exploded, it crumbled, and as it was about to disappear beyond the horizon, a divine bolt fell from the sky to pay the final blow, and the facility fell.




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