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super-powers Envy and Lust (Ch. 17 added)


Philosopher

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Philosopher

Chapter 17

A great way to get the things you want is to be so miserable that you don't even want them anymore.

My stomach ached as the rays of sunshine hit my back. A burning sensation accumulated in my lower abdomen, as if the light was piercing and searing my flesh. Above us the sun was setting, the warm orange bathing the sky with a wonderful, honey-like aura of wonder and delight. Not that I cared, but I could still see the beauty in this world and I had to give credit where it was due. My stomach grumbled in response and I felt embers of nausea threatening to exit through my mouth.

I was clearly not in shape to be out of the hospital, but the only thing I couldn't control with my voice was time itself, and so I had to use it as effectively as I could. Getting out of that bleached hole of pain and weakness was easy enough, the head doctor had bent under my iron voice in mere seconds and a few hours later, I was resting in my own suite at the skyscraper.

That was a week ago. Mr. Williams and his son had been let go free, a 'reward' from Father for helping me awaken my full powers. Their debts had been paid fully, and they had been moved to downtown LA. I wasn't too happy about that. I wanted to grab the same shotgun that Edd had shot me and plunge it deep into his mouth, before pulling the trigger. I could have ordered the guards out of my suite to let me do just that, but my body was still healing and honestly, I didn't want to waste my time with small fish anymore.

"Jason Coldwater... you are a mystery!" Father chuckled as his army of agents made a close, tight circle between us. Tall men and women surrounded us, the guys with bulging biceps, pecs and abs threatening to burst out of their skin-tight suits and the women packed with lean cords of muscle that granted them both extreme strength and agility to rival cheetahs.

I slowly turned my grey eyes to meet his, and I smiled. We watched each other, stared into the depths of our souls, and I could see Father's smile melt away. It was as if he had looked for something which wasn't there now. I could see tiny wrinkles form between his eyes and sagged cheeks, and my nose sensed a slight trace of fear coming from the so called 'most powerful man in the world'.

"Mysteries can be solved, Mr. Sanders," I shot back and picked up the pace. We were going through the outside gates of the Inferno Corp. skyscraper, with our destination being Echo Lake. Now, it had been more than a week since I had been out of the hospital and the scars on my abdomen had still not healed. Normally, the wound should have healed in two or three days maximum according to the lead bio-engineers of the company, but the red, throbbing scars on my flat belly told a different story. They would sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night, the aching pain causing me to see stars. Unfortunately, the research staff had no idea either, as according to them this was 'uncharted' territory.

But all these mortal limitations of my own body didn't matter. A single mission dominated my mind, holding it captive. The intrusive thoughts wouldn't leave me alone, and I knew what I had to do. Echo Lake was my destination, and the treasure laid inside it.

I needed to find something there, something deep into the black waters. I hoped that the water damage hadn't extended, as more than two weeks had passed since Luke had become the immediate past president of the 'being-alive' club. I only needed a single strand of his hair, and then I'd let him rest again.

"Remind me again, why are we going to the lake?" Jess followed right behind us, carrying three designer bags in her hands. She had just finished a shopping spree at one of the most luxurious shops in LA, and she had already gotten bored again. "Like, can't we just chill in the beach? That park is sooo boring," she complained as she threw two of the bags to one of the agents next to her, who caught them with unsurprising ease.

"I just want to make sure-," I started but then I stopped. I didn't need to explain anything to Jess or her father. After all, they needed me. Not the other way. If I was to talk to the President tomorrow evening, they had better make me happy by agreeing with every whimsical demand I had in my mind. If one of my desires were to go deep-diving into the lake, then who were they to say no?

"Jason? You're acting... weirder than usual. Come on, warm up! I doubt the virus can resurrect dead bodies," Jess smirked like she had just told the smartest joke in the world. "...Right? That would not be ideal. I don't want to run away from zombies now, this outfit is not designed for the apocalypse," she added with a bitter laugh.

"Don't worry, Jess. I doubt the zombies would be attracted to you," I smiled as we finally reached the entrance of Echo Lake. I just needed a single strand of hair, nothing more and that would be my ticket out of this increasingly dystopian nightmare. I was getting tired of Father and Jess and their obsessed mission to 'revolutionize' world.

The Inferno Virus had now invaded all the continents of the planet, with more and more people becoming infected each day. The virus seemed to have a preference for younger hosts, and through the corporation's connections, we had observed that many countries had already reported unusual signs of growth in citizens aged between thirteen and twenty-two. Most were already conducting their own private investigations, but we had so much influence over, well, everything, that stalling these investigations was as easy as pressing a button or singing a command.

Regardless, I didn't care about the inner struggles of politics and power. I wanted out, but I wasn't about to ask Father for an easy escape. I hadn't revealed that my own voice had evolved far beyond everyone had assumed to, and I liked to keep the cards for myself. I knew by a fact that I could control Jess, but the same couldn't be said for Father. The old fox was keeping many secrets too, so it was best not to take any risks until I had acquired what I wanted from the lake.

To my annoyance, he had insisted that he come with me, as he "needed to take some fresh air". Yes, a pitiful excuse, but he didn't need to hide his intentions from me. He knew that I knew that he knew. It was just a matter of time until something triggered the spark, and then nothing would be able to stop the meltdown.

The uneasiness between us only grew as the days went on and the world fell into disarray.

It started with small 'incidents'. A man plowing another man through a brick wall. Fist fights that turned into bloodbaths of caved-in skulls and dismembered limbs, the police unable to stop men with power to break bones with just a touch. A group of teenagers jumping two feet higher than the previous world record, calling themselves 'The Rabbits', becoming famous on TikTok in the span of a heartbeat. Cases of children, babies, accidentally pulverizing their parent's wrists in an attempt to play with them. Men suddenly becoming able to bend iron with their bare hands, with gyms becoming more and more popular as the virus infected the entirety of humanity.

The worst of it all were the explosions. People, a tiny percentage of people reacted poorly to the mild version of Inferno Virus. Rather than blow up into a massive, fiery explosion like what had happened months ago, their bodies would instead combust into flames so fast and so powerful that nothing, not even ash was left behind. The explosion wasn't strong enough to inflict any damage to the surrounding environments, just to their bodies. Spontaneous human combustion became a hit on Google, with many videos of people suddenly being engulfed in a ball of fire showing up on the internet. Not even the company had enough power to take these all down, and now the news was leaking to every single continent and country on the planet.

On the opposite spectrum of the dreaded explosions, were the humans who had adapted well to the virus. Some of them became geniuses overnight, creating breakthrough research on physics and chemistry while they were still in high school. Others became so beautiful and attractive beyond recognition in just a matter of weeks, their faces changing and becoming ethereal. Their own parents and friends weren't able to recognize them, the changes were that strong. A few counties in the US even found an increasing number of young politicians taking part of the election races for mayors and even governors, with one glaring case being an eighteen year old girl with the charisma of fifty JFK's combined swooping in and becoming mayor of Long Island. How she had convinced the entire population of the county to vote for her, I don't know.

We were approaching midnight on the Midnight Clock, and so I had to act fast. Father knew that as well, as he had personally taken some time off running his businesses, instead letting a brainwashed board of executive assistants take the wheel. Jess didn't seem to know anything about the sudden rise of super-powered individuals, although that was because Father explicitly controlled her social media feed.

Father was supposed to be the most powerful and influential man in the world, but even he cared about something. Yes, that had become obvious these past few days.

He cared about someone.

And that someone would be his weakness.

.

.

.

The lake had been emptied out of tourists an hour ago, as nobody wanted to take a breezy walk around the cold waters when the sun had set. Perhaps they sensed what laid in the bottom, the underwater tomb of many, many people, and their instincts told them to stay away.

Even with no super virus in our bodies, humans are surprisingly intuitive and now with the virus, these instincts had also grown.

With the help of Father, the company had rented a dozen boats equipped with sonars in order to scan detect any anomalies in the bottom lake. All of our employees knew what we were looking for, and they got paid well enough that they didn't care about their job, or at least didn't seem to. The ones operating the boats weren't our agents, but the money that had magically appeared in their bank accounts made them more than willing to take the job.

"Sir, the sonars have detected several... anomalies a few hundred feet below the surface. You want us to find and bring up the anomaly with the largest... mass?" one of the assistants called after the boats had circled around the lake a few times, the sonars taking their sweet time to unveil the secrets hidden below.

"Yes, the body is around seven feet tall and must weight around three to four hundred pounds. Regardless, that doesn't matter. Just bring the largest body you find to the surface and we'll take it from here," I explained as I gazed in the waters. It had gotten so dark that you couldn't see anything, and not even my eyes could detect anything in the oblivion. Certainly not a giant blonde stud-turned-fish food.

It took some time to notice that I didn't treat Luke like someone I liked anymore. He was just a rotting corpse in my mind, certainly not someone I loved. The power of the virus had completely altered the way my brain operated on a fundamental basis, and Luke's previous influence on it had dissipated away like boiling water.

Several minutes passed, which then turned into hours and still, nobody had found anything. When they did manage to resurface a hollowed out, bloated body of someone, I instantly recognized that this thing wasn't Luke. This man had been one of my first test runs of my power and one of the few challenges that Father had given me ages ago. An absolute monster that terrorized his entire neighborhood and family with his brawny mass and height, a 6'5 wall of muscles that combined with copious amounts of alcohol and drugs had turned into a criminal with some rather sadistic tastes.

Back then, I wasn't sure I wanted to use my power to actually kill human beings, but Father had assured me that if I didn't do anything, then this man would continue to claim more and more innocent lives. He had told me that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few along with the things he had done to his own family, and that if I stayed passive, all these lives and blood would essentially be in my hands.

I had hated myself for agreeing with Father back then.

Now, as I inspected the mess in front of me, I could only feel slight annoyance at the fact that this wasn't the man I was looking for. Almost all of our agents and assistants had taken many steps back to shield themselves from the ugly sight and pungent smell, with some of them heaving their lunches out at the image of the deformed pile of flesh in front of them, the result of extended water damage.

"Where the hell is Luke?" I found myself shaking the lead sonar reader. He was a short man, and the force of my hands was enough to send him off the boat and into the waters, although he did keep his balance.

"Sir, we... we don't know what you're talking about! The sonars haven't detected any larger anomalies other than that THING that rests  on the boat! Maybe that's Luke and the fish just ate the rest of him?" he trembled. It took a significant amount of willpower to not tell him to snap his own neck while singing a song. Useless meat-suit.

"What seems to be the problem here?" Father popped in our conversation and I started screaming from the inside.

"Luke... seems to be missing," I smiled and I felt my lips stretch in an insane grin. Of-fucking-course he was gone. Of course it wouldn't be as easy as finding a dead body. What the fuck?! How he was gone? CORPSES CAN'T WALK.

Jess' funny theory about the virus resurrecting corpses suddenly appeared in my mind. Maybe it wasn't a theory after all...? Could it be possible?

No. No way. If the virus could resurrect dead people, then why hadn't we seen news of infected people that died returning from the dead? Why hadn't the rest of the people in the lake found a way to get out of it, post-mortum? No, something else was going on.

The only single explanation was that Luke hadn't been dead from the start. Somehow, he managed to resist my command, long enough for the effect to pass and clear out of his system. Of course, he was the one person who was the perfect host for the Power Variant of the virus, and with the extra half booster dose I had given him, he had become even stronger! It all made sense now.

Fuck. Me.

"Erm. Father. There seems to be a problem," I weakly smiled as I looked over the horizon. The overgrown moron was out there in the city, MY CITY. I bet he felt so powerful, resisting my command. I bet it made him so happy to still find a way to be BETTER than me.

Father's face became a fake imitation of calmness, and I could see him suddenly appear far, far older than he was. "I suppose... you'll take care of it?" he coughed as he sat down next to me, his expensive suit wrinkling as he did.

"Of course. This time it's personal."

Luke. Fucking. Zimmerman. When I find you, I'll make you beg for the sweet embrace of death by the cold waters of this lake. I will make the fate of drowning here seem like a paradise, a heaven compared to what I'll do to you.

My eyes glowed a dangerous grey.

"Oh, it's personal alright."

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