- Heroes Reborn — Event Series
- Book 6: A Long Way from Home
- The Authors
- A Long Way from Home
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 14
- Chapter 15
- Chapter 16
- Chapter 17
- Chapter 18
- Chapter 19
- Chapter 20
- Chapter 21
- Chapter 22
- Chapter 23
- Chapter 24
- Chapter 25
- Chapter 26
- Chapter 27
- Chapter 28
Heroes Reborn — Event Series
The Heroes Reborn event series consists of six short thrillers based on the fascinating characters and rich mythology of NBC’s world-wide hit TV series “Heroes”, and the highly anticipated “Heroes Reborn”. The new season picks up five years after the finale of the original series and finds those with special powers in a precarious and dangerous world where they are feared, persecuted and attacked.
Book 6: A Long Way from Home
A group of Evolved Humans use their abilities to plan an escape from a detention center for people with very unusual powers.
Kevin J. Anderson has published 125 books, more than fifty of which have been national or international bestsellers. He has written numerous novels in the “Star Wars”, “X-Files”, and “Dune” universes, as well as a unique steampunk fantasy novel, “Clockwork Angels”, based on the concept album by the legendary rock group Rush. His original works include “The Saga of Seven Suns” series, the “Terra Incognita” fantasy trilogy, “The Saga of Shadows” trilogy, and his humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI. He has edited numerous anthologies, including the “Five by Five” and “Blood Lite” series. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of “WordFire Press”.
Peter J. Wacks is a bestselling cross-genre writer. He has worked across the creative fields in gaming, television, film and comics. There are over 3.5 million copies of his stories in circulation. Peter started his writing career in the gaming industry when he created the international bestselling game “Cyberpunk CCG”. He moved on from there to work on ABC’s “Alias”, and has since also written tie-ins for “Veronica Mars” and “G.I. Joe”. His next novel, “VilleAnne” is co-written with Steven L. Sears (co-executive producer of “Xena, Warrior Princess” and 30-year veteran of the television business), and debuts in late 2015.
Book 6: A Long Way from Home
In times of war, times of change, humanity vilifies anything that is outside the narrowly defined norm. When persecution begins, people turn away and think, “At least it wasn’t me.”
Remember the man who watched as the Nazis took his neighbors one by one, choosing not to speak out, since it wasn’t him they were coming for … Until they finally knocked on his door, and there was no one left to speak out for him.
There comes a moment for each of us when the wool is pulled from our eyes, when we see the world anew … When society realizes that all the Evolved, all Evos, are just loaded weapons, a trigger ready to be pulled.
And when Evos are put in chains … Who will speak out to say that they should not be oppressed?
Sam Conlon pulled the lapel of the trench coat up to cover his neck. The parking garage was empty, dark. He felt like the world had turned to shades of gray, leaving him lost in a Bogart movie.
“You’ll test them, and the facility?” The woman’s voice came from the shadows behind the next pillar over.
“How do I know you’ll wipe my file? Renautas has that much pull with the FBI?”
A sigh softly glided through the air. “We do have that much pull and we will use it, Mr. Conlon. As an associate once said to me just outside the president’s office, the toothpaste is out of the tube. There’s no returning to what the world was before. We have the power you want, but in order to access it, you must play this out for me.”
Faint electric lines, visible only to Sam, appeared in the air as she spoke. A new pattern was emerging. He smiled grimly at her lies. “I’ll do it.”
He walked away, ignoring her reply as he prepared to turn himself in.
One Month Later
The Rocky Mountains were splashed with autumnal aspen colors. The tallest peaks, rugged barriers rising from the Eagle River Valley, were crowned with early snowfall—Jacque Peak, Battle Mountain, Searle Pass, Tennessee Pass.
Luther knew them all. He had studied the geography carefully while planning his latest escape.
Ducking and dodging low-hanging branches of ponderosa pines, he ran up the grassy slope, slipping in the wet mulch of fallen needles. Icy air, too thin, burned his lungs.
He could see the large, fenced-in compound of Temporary Assessment Camp Hale spread out in the valley below. Admin buildings, guard houses, rows of barracks (euphemistically called “Common Living Structures”) and the maximum-security barracks where the dangerous Evos were held waited for him down there if he failed.
Luther’s power wasn’t dangerous, but having it was enough to rob him of his freedom.
Most of the other camp inhabitants could say the same. A few were dangerous, or so it was rumored. Luther needed to get away. A prison was a prison, no matter how often they told you it was for your own protection.
Arms flailing, he crashed his way through the trees, scratching himself on a tangle of dead branches, but eventually found a rocky outcropping. He climbed it and kept running. His legs were shaky and his lungs felt like they were on fire, but he still had a long way to go.
Behind him he could hear the dogs barking, howling … getting closer.
Luther put on an extra surge of speed, pushing past his exhaustion.
The TAC Hale guards didn’t even need the dogs as they pursued him. Out of the corner of his eye Luther could see the brilliant splashes of yellow he left behind, painting the ground with vibrant footprints … As his agitation increased, he lost control over his power and couldn’t prevent what the specialist labeled “chromographic leakage.”
Stupidest power ever!
To a more sophisticated Evo, the chameleon-like power would have been useful, but Luther couldn’t control it, and for some oddball genetic reason, he only had access to the color yellow. So as he ran, his footprints created intense pools of color—the blades of grass turned yellow, the pine needles turned yellow, even the rocks and dirt turned yellow. Add to that the bright orange “work overalls” that all of the “campers” wore …
Yellow and orange. At least I won’t get accidentally shot by a hunter.
He hoped he could get away, cover enough distance so that they wouldn’t catch him, but he knew it was a long shot. One of these days, maybe the long shot would pay off. Just not today, unless he caught a lucky break.
Luther gasped in the ten-thousand foot elevation. That struggle to breathe was the reason the original Camp Hale had been built during World War II—as high-altitude training for the 10th Mountain Division. He had hoped to make it several miles before sunrise, but he couldn’t find a trail and the terrain was rugged.
He had gotten lost.
And now, the following morning, the guards had a fading set of neon yellow spots to track him. They didn’t really need the dogs.
He was close to the tree line now, and worked his way out of the pines until he saw clear grassy ground ahead—which meant the guards could see him, too. The dogs were eager.
Between heaving breaths, one of the guards on the slopes below, a man named Thomas Rizzoli (but better known around the camp as “TQ”), called out, “Come on, Luther. Don’t be a jerk.”
Luther mumbled a retort, all he could manage. Stumbling, he ducked back into the cover of the trees, following a drainage wash. The path of least resistance. He didn’t really have any plan other than to get away. He had hoped by trekking deep enough into the mountains, he could escape pursuit and eventually find a ski lodge or a mining town where he could get help. It didn’t look like that was going to happen.
He found a game trail on the downslope and picked up speed now that he didn’t have to dodge the trees so much. Downhill didn’t hurt, either. Unfortunately, his pursuers also moved more quickly. He stumbled and slipped on the loose turf. The trail was heading down to a stream. Maybe if there was enough water he could cross it, make the dogs lose the scent—better yet, he could use the stream to cover his footprints. Perhaps fortune would smile on him after all.
Unfortunately, when the vegetation cleared and he knocked shrubs out of the way, he found himself by a wispy creek that emerged out of a spray of water falling from a rocky ledge above. The trail ended. He couldn’t get up the opposite slope. A tear ran down his cheek and he clenched his fists.
Luther sighed and his shoulders slumped. Time to put the mask of the disarming buffoon back on. The dogs came charging in, braying, with Rizzoli and the guards stumbling behind, red-faced, looking annoyed. Rizzoli stopped and mopped perspiration from his forehead. The other guards held the dogs back.
Rizzoli huffed, catching his breath. “You’re such a pain in the ass, Luther. This isn’t what I planned on doing today. Ruthers is going to be pissed.”
Luther sat down on a boulder next to the cool, splashing water. “At least I got farther than the last time. Give me a little credit, TQ.”
The guard scowled. “Only one person gets to call me that.” He gestured toward the others. “Zap him and let’s get him back to camp.”
Alarmed, Luther sat up. “No, wait! I’ll go willingly.”
“It would be easier, TQ,” said one of the other guards.
Rizzoli shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. The jerk deserves it.”
Luther ate 1,200 volts at 19 pulses per second as his breakfast.
When the team of sweaty guards and barking dogs brought a bedraggled but grinning Luther stumbling back through the main entry gate of Temporary Assessment Camp Hale, the camp’s head director and Chief of Operations Deborah Ruthers didn’t feel satisfaction or relief. Just disappointment. Deep disappointment.
Luther walked with a wobbly gait, trailing yellow stains on the ground. A pointless power … no obvious threat. But who could know for certain?
There was no way to hide from the other campers the fact that Luther had escaped and tried to run—again. Many of them were gathered in the commons, doing their daily duties, going in and out of the barracks, and returning from their busy work-camp jobs. She certainly had enough manpower, and everyone pitched in to do their best to make TAC Hale pleasant. They planted flower gardens, vegetable gardens. They kept the living areas clean, brightly painted, even homey.
Ruthers strived to promote a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. The temporary assessment camp wasn’t supposed to be a hostile environment. Renautas had set it up as a sanctuary, a tolerable place for anyone who tested positive as an Evo to come for documentation and assessment, except for the ones held in Max. She didn’t like to think about Max, though. Hale, for the most part, was a place to get away from the harassment of being labeled different. Most of these people exhibited powers that were no more dangerous (or useful) than Luther’s.
She shook her head as Luther walked through the gate, shaking his arms to loosen himself up, still clearly recovering from a Taser shot. “We’re all just trying to do the best we can here,” Ruthers muttered to herself. Troublemakers like Luther certainly didn’t help.
Many of the campers were grinning. They applauded as Luther made his entrance. He seemed embarrassed; a 35-year-old, slightly overweight man with the beginnings of a paunch. He would have been utterly invisible in society. Nothing to worry about, although his penchant for accidentally turning things yellow would have inconvenienced him in the workplace.
Some of the campers whistled and cheered. “Maybe next time, Luther.”
He looked sheepish but grinned and took a clumsy bow. The guards ushered him forward.
Ruthers wasn’t amused, but she didn’t want to make TAC Hale feel like a prison. She wanted the campers and the guards and the Admin staff to get along, to be a team. That’s what the temporary assessment camp was supposed to be, and Ruthers believed in it.
She began to speak, and the unruly campers fell silent. “Look,” she said, “I can understand that some of you feel trapped. But right now leaving isn’t a viable option. Renautas and I are doing everything we can to make TAC Hale like a … summer camp. It’s minimum security. The fences are here for your own protection, and you really should stay here. Don’t we let you watch the news? You’ve seen what it’s like out there after Odessa. That’s why we built Hale. To protect you. So that we can assess you, give you free room and board, try to make you comfortable. Why would you want to run away from this? To be persecuted on the outside?”
She could see them nodding and considering. They all knew the story, and none of them were really violent rebels. For herself, she could have had a nice job in private security in Denver, but Renautas had offered her a big bonus and a temporary assignment running the newly built camp in the mountains, where the nearest towns were nothing more than off-season ski resorts and dying mining towns.
TAC Hale wasn’t a government facility, but was operated under presidential mandate. She saw a few of the campers grumbling at her words, obviously dissatisfied, but they knew what she was saying. They knew of the turmoil out in the real world. They knew the violent prejudice against Evos.
They—the innocuous ones here in Camp Hale—were the ones at greatest risk. They weren’t heroes. They didn’t have powers strong enough to protect themselves. They were just targets. “I know it’s an inconvenience, and I’m trying to give you as much freedom as possible. Neither the guards nor the Admin staff-nor I–really want to be here any more than you do.” She raised her voice. “But this is the best chance for you and for us. Just wait for things to settle down in the real world. You’re safe here. It’s for your own good.”
From their expressions, she could see that the campers—most of them, at any rate—believed what she was saying.
So did Ruthers.
Andrew Meek had a queasy, sinking feeling in his stomach as he and his friend Reggie went back to work. He had heard all the promises and propaganda, and he’d had no choice when they shipped him out here from Denver for “temporary assessment” in the mountains not far from Leadville, Colorado.
He just didn’t believe it.
He didn’t trust the government, or Renautas, or whatever logos or labels they put on the buildings. Protective enclosures were still fences, and living commons were still barracks … and innocence was still guilt.
Reggie was smiling, showing bad teeth from a childhood without orthodontia. “Makes ya wonder how long we would have survived out in the real world. Right, Andrew?” he asked as he picked up their janitorial equipment and headed for the next set of barracks. “That’s nothing ta sneeze at.” With a twinkle in his eye, Reggie turned to Andrew, squinted his left eye in a spasmodic wink–and Andrew sneezed.
“Stop that, Reggie,” he scolded. Reggie’s “great” Evo power was that he could trigger a quick sneeze. Quite a dangerous, destructive power, no doubt.
“No harm, no foul,” Reggie laughed.
“We’ve got two more sets to do before lunchtime. You do the toilets in this one. I’ll do the next.” Andrew didn’t argue about the sneeze because Reggie considered it a victory. The two of them had been assigned janitorial and groundskeeping duties along with a dozen other volunteers. Everyone in TAC Hale was expected to pitch in and carry their own weight, though Ruthers was careful not to give the impression that it was a forced labor camp. If campers helped out, a small stipend was placed into a holding account for them to make up for their time away—if they ever got out of TAC Hale.
Andrew didn’t mind the work and found that not having a job made his time here much worse, mind-numbingly boring. He had never worked at anything that would even remotely be considered a glamorous job. Five years as a civil-service employee pushing papers around for the City of Denver had primed him for tedium.
When he tested positive for the Evo gene, he was whisked off here to the mountains two hours away. He had had no choice in the matter, even if they made it seem like he did, and his boss had given him no reassurances that he’d have his job back “when” he got released. Equal employment opportunities for Evos were still a very murky legal gray area. Andrew knew not to count on it.
Reggie wheeled the cart up the ramp and into the office trailer, then pulled out the vacuum while Andrew grabbed the trash bag.