Waking up from her nap, Andera lay curled up on the bed, her long slender tail wrapped around her legs. The bed wasn't much to speak of, a small ledge jutting out of the wall with a bit of padding on it. The rest of her room was no better, consisting mostly of salvaged furniture from nearby houses and office buildings. She glanced over at the lone piece of personality in the room: a large crystalline egg she'd recently acquired while out "shopping".
The crystal itself was clear as a cool pool of water, lit from deep inside by a strange flickering light that seemed to shimmer and shift colors ever so slightly. She puzzled over the source of the light, since it didn't resemble the LED lights that lit the darkest corners of the colony. Her eyes lingered on it for a few minutes before she dragged herself out of bed and headed toward the common area.
She wandered down the hallway, her head numb as she recalled the events of the previous day. Around her, recessed lights gave off a soft red glow that seemed to drench the world in blood for a long, dreadful moment. Even the thin synthetic carpet looked wet under the eerie lights. She paused to consider why someone had taken the time to lay carpet when the bare floor was serviceable enough. A smile crossed her lips as she realized the hallway to Dis had been carpeted with good intentions.
Pausing briefly in front of the door to Scar's room, she pondered knocking. Maybe he would want to come with her to the common area. He'd seemed happy enough to see her yesterday. She decided against knocking, he was probably fast asleep anyways and didn't want to be disturbed. He was always grumpy when he woke up, and even worse if he was disturbed. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, she continued on down the hall to the common area.
The room opened up before her as she stepped out of the dark hallway and into the light. Dozens of people bustled around the room, some almost normal, others looking like their namesakes in Hell. From huge muscular goat-men with horns that scraped the ceiling to small nubile women with pointed tails and leathery wings, they'd all been made to be better than normal. Somewhere in the equations, the human element had been factored out.
Across the room she spied a large majestic fin with piercings running its length. The fin rose from a reptilian face with shifty eyes and scales the color of burnt coal. The figure was unmistakably her friend Jet, whom she hadn't seen in over a month.
Bounding across the room, Andera leaped into the air and tackled the tall, thin man. With a surprised yelp, he toppled easily, Andera pinning him to the ground. He hissed and struggled before relaxing with a sigh. He quit trying to escape and smiled up at her.
"Long time no see Andera," he chuckled, his eyes flicking over her form.
"Likewise you rascal. How come you haven't returned my calls?"
He paused, turning his gaze away from hers. His forked tongue flicked in and out nervously at the tone of her voice as he struggled for what to say next.
"I'm sorry. I've been busy."
She cocked her head to the side. "What have you been up to?"
"We've been testing a new MAGE prototype."
Her eyes widened. This was big news, no wonder he'd been keeping quiet about it.
"How far along is it?"
"Almost done. We're hoping to have a public demonstration in a week or two."
"What's the range on it like?"
He laughed. "This baby could pull an angel right out of Eden."
She hit him playfully on his fin, setting the rings jingling. "No, seriously."
"You'll just have to wait for the demonstration," he grinned impishly.
Suddenly, Andera felt a tingling coursing up her arms. She tried to open her mouth to protest, or pull her arms away, but her muscles wouldn't move. A terrible lurching feeling swamped her body as she regained use of her muscles. She was lying on her back, gasping for air, her head swimming with colors and pain. Jet slowly stood up from where she'd pinned him to the floor on the other side of the room. Everyone was silent, some of them looking at Andera, most of them gawking at Jet.
He grinned over at her. "I guess you got the demonstration a little bit early."
Without waiting for a response, he turned and walked away, waving curtly back at her as he disappeared out of sight. It was several minutes before Andera was able to stand up, hesitantly wobbling to her feet and blinking through blurry eyes. Jet was good, really good.
Every time man harnesses one of the primal forces of the universe, a new one emerges. First our ancestors controlled the wild fire. Next we harnessed electricity. We learned to break the atom and merge it. Now we have harnessed the power to destroy the atom, the power of anti-matter. Each step of the evolution gave man more power to create.
And more power to destroy.