Stormwall: Chapter 1

The cautions given here are for events described in the long background portion in the middle of the piece.

I could have told this story without all that background info, but she was visiting family, and catching up on everything related to them.

**********

As short a time as a week ago, I thought everything was just as it should be. I was a young male in my junior year of high school, a strong member of our track and field team, and I was doing pretty darn well in my classes, only one B grade in the previous semester.

It was the beginning of May, spring was in full bloom, then my life turned upside down overnight or so it seemed. How? I mutated.

My name was Michael Jonathan Winston, Jr. When I came out of the semi-coma I was in during the mutation, dad told me that if I had been a girl, I would have been named Melissa Jasmine. It seems, whichever way I came out, momma figured I'd end up being nicknamed MJ.

Over a period of about 72 hours, my body changed quite drastically, I went from the 5'11" runner and honours student to this darn near tiny little slip of a girl, maybe 5'3" tall and 130 pounds. I'm not big, but I'm rather busty now, about a D cup, and my butt literally fills my new jeans.

The oddest part about me, I think, is my hair, it looks almost tie-dye, a mix of black, red, blonde, auburn, chestnut and silver. It looks WEIRD! The women at the salon my older sister drops into now and then tried to colour my hair three days ago, and the colour literally wouldn't take. I'd arrived just after they opened at 10 AM, they thought it was a fluke, so they tried three more times, then gave up at closing time, 8 PM.

My skin is close to bronze in colour with a slight golden undertone, my eyes are hazel, mostly brown, but angry me turns them flame red.

I suppose I could gripe and whine about the whole situation, but what would be the point? It happened, and it can't be changed.

I didn't know it, but there are some members of the family that are mutants, most of them live in the Oakland - San Francisco area.

Dad sat down with me two nights ago and told me about mom, how she had been a super herself and had died when I was four years old. She was a low level 4 TK with mid level regeneration, mid level brick, mid level energizer, and low level exemplar powers.

She'd backed up to a solid ten foot high stone wall and a villain slipped in behind her, then used TK to drop the wall on her, crushing her under the heavy stones. It caught her totally by surprise, she had just started to turn around before the wall hit, and she couldn't see him to hit him.

On Friday, Dad and I will be catching a plane in Louisville so we can go to our cousins in California, Dad wants them to check me out first.

**********

It cost Dad nearly $1200 US to get us discounted flights to San Francisco and return a week later. Dad wasn't very happy about the cost, but when I showed him that any other flights would have cost from $826 to $1282 per person, he shrugged and paid for the tickets online.

We were at Louisville International Airport before 4 AM that Friday morning, the flight would be leaving at 6 AM. If everything went as it was supposed to do, we would land at San Francisco International at 4:20 PM EDT (1:20 PM PDT), with one stop in Atlanta.

I grumbled to dad that it seemed pretty weird to go to another airport on the way, what ever happened to non-stop direct flights?

We had everything we needed, now we had to wait for an hour before we could check our bags for the flight. I wasn't in the mood to do anything at that point, heck, I'd had maybe three hours of sleep earlier, so I was quite happy to get some snooze time in a chair.

**********

Dad got all the stuff sorted out just after 5 AM, he actually let me snooze until 5:30 AM, initial boarding calls were announced at 5:45 AM.

We had to wait for all the first class and business class people to board, then dad and I ended up being squeezed into the economy seats. Some big guy, I mean seriously overweight, had already grabbed the window seat, I ended up in the middle and dad was by the aisle.

I'm not sure what was going on, but the flight was delayed by several minutes, then at 6:07 AM, we were going down the runway.

I dozed for about 90 minutes or so before the stewardesses starting serving breakfasts. Dad and I both grabbed a tray plus a coffee, I like mine with just a little sugar now, dad takes his with some cream and two sugars. Breakfast wasn't too bad, I guess, three breakfast sausages next to a slightly runny egg, two slices of toast, hash browns, choice of white or whole wheat, dad and I both picked whole wheat.

I tell you this, and I swear it's true, those hash browns were just godawful, I left mine on the plate after one taste, dad did the same. Dad, my older sister and I went down to New Orleans three years ago, and we had some really good hash browns down there, BIG difference!

Once breakfast had been cleared, I decided that more sleep sounded good and I was soon back in the land of dreams.

**********

I didn't wake up, except to use the toilet once, until dad nudged me awake after they announced we would be landing fairly soon.

We were still up pretty high, but it was fairly obvious we were descending when the plane dropped through a thin layer of clouds.

It was just dad and I for this trip because my older sister Rebecca is in her second year of university and she couldn't get any free time. If this had happened just a year ago, my little sister Savannah would have been with us, she died two days after I turned sixteen.

It's hard to not end up crying when I remember Savannah. She always had a smile, she was a sweet young girl, but something went truly and horribly wrong when she mutated at the age of thirteen two years ago. There were dozens of tests done in at least five hospitals and two clinics run by and for mutants, and not a single one of them could explain why she ended up the way she did, an empty, lost shell of a girl.

She lived for almost a year in that state before a sudden unexplained power surge on her ward caused her to have a major heart attack. A team of doctors and nurses fought for over eleven hours to save her, but they were unsuccessful, and the machines were all turned off.

Dad looked over just as the plane touched down and noticed that I was crying. When he asked why, I whispered, "Savannah."

That was all the explanation he needed, he knew how close I had been to Savannah, we'd played together since she could toddle.

**********

We didn't get out of the terminal for almost an hour, a lot of that was spent waiting for our bags; they finally showed up, which was nice.

We had just exited the terminal building when someone waved at dad and yelled, "Hey, Mike!" Dad looked over, waved and within a minute or two, dad and I were surround by several members of our family. We took a moment to get introductions sorted.

Wow, I actually met my great-great-uncle Jack, he's a super, mostly retired nowadays, he was Jumping Jack Flash in the super group that's been based in the San Francisco and Oakland area since the 1940s. His main ability was to be able to teleport from wherever he had been standing to another spot within about one hundred feet, then he'd spread his hands and trigger his Flash Bang attack, a real stunner. He was pretty tough, a mid-level brick, able to take a fair bit of thumps, but only to a point. He had low level TK abilities, mostly to bring items to him from a short distance away, but he was also able to use his TK to figure out ways to create things, and sometimes they even worked.

Like I said, though, he's mostly retired now, although he still tinkers with stuff using his TK abilities. He's 93 years old, I think? He was married to Rosemary Browne in late '42, Jenny came along less than a year later, followed by James and Robert. Rosemary was a great mother, her kids, even though they were fairly poor, felt like they had everything they needed. Breast cancer claimed Rosemary in '63, she was 38.

His daughter Jenny carries the mutant genes, but she never actually mutated, she's a strong-minded woman, she raised five kids on her own. She fell in love with a soldier who had returned from Korea several years before she met him. They married as soon as she was eighteen, then the babies started popping out, all five born between the end of '62 and the first few months of '67, including twin boys. He was called up for Vietnam and served about half of a two year enlistment before he was killed in battle, leaving her with the five little ones to raise.

Her father stepped in, he knew just how much she had loved Will Jackson, so he helped her with the kids and pulled in a few of his friends who had wives to help, too. Jenny's brothers James and Robert also helped, both of them stayed mostly single for many years.

Robert had undergone his own mutation when he was fifteen in early '63, but could pass as a normal except for his eyes. Since he didn't have any mutation characteristics that were significant, he stayed out of the superhero business and lived a fairly normal life. Like Jenny's husband, Robert was drafted for Vietnam, managed to survive two two year enlistments and returned home physically okay but mentally broken. Once he was back home, he lost himself in the bottom of any bottle he could find, until he drove his car off a cliff while drunk and speeding in '75.

Jenny's brother James had, like her, missed out on the mutation lottery and started a farm that stayed in business throughout his life. He never married, although he did have relationships with women now and again; he worked hard, long days in the fields for fifty-seven years, but with no children of his own, the farm ended up being handed over to William, Jr., Jenny's oldest boy last year. Will was 52 years old at the time.

Will, Jr., was another one that the mutation lottery seemed to have sidestepped. It didn't matter to him, he was happy enough doing odd jobs for several years, then ran a small but hard-working landscaping business with ten workers until he retired in 2012.

While James had owned and managed the farm, a lot of the work had been done by Mexicans and Native Americans, he paid them well. When Will started managing the farm, he politely told the workers that he wasn't going to change anything, except he might hire more people.

Will had always had a bit of trouble getting close to people, and thus had never had a long relationship with anyone, so he had no kids.

Sherry was Jenny's second child, her only girl, you might say that Sherry got pampered and befrilled as a child, but she loved it. Sherry came along in June of '64, nineteen months after Will, Jr. was born. Sherry was courted by and eventually married to Doctor Everett Wilson in '84.

Doc Wilson was a veterinarian, specifically a large animal veterinarian, although he could handle smaller animals like dogs and cats, too. His major line of work was treating illnesses and problems in horses and cattle; with lots of big farms nearby, he was kept busy all year round.

David and Danny were Jenny's identical twin boys, born October 30,1965. They grew up with a rather strong fondness for Halloween, what can you expect from boys born so close to that day? Both enlisted in the Navy in early '86, and both kept re-upping, David eventually reaching the rank of Captain in '05 after more than eighteen years of service. Danny had had a bit harder time, but was a Commander at that point.

Both stayed in the service, Danny was killed in a battle off the shores of Iran in the Persian Gulf in 2007. David was still serving at that time, he was told in January of '08 that he was being considered for his next rank, then ended up on a patrol run along the southern shores of the Mediterranean starting in March of that year. He was still patrolling there in June when a rocket launched from the Libyan shore landed less than ten feet away, blasting a fairly big hole in the deck of the ship and peppering him with fragments, one of which ripped his throat open.

No one on the ship had been expecting any kind of attack at all, the loss of the Captain was a huge mess that someone would have to handle. At that moment, it looked like that particular job would fall to his second in command, a Commander by the name of James Walmer.

Jenny's last child, Richard, was a sickly child until his mutation kicked in during the summer of '84, he was seventeen years old. When he saw his new self after the mutation had finished changing him, the newly changed girl freaked out in a really big way, using high level TK powers to smash up a lot of things in the house, then ran out to her older brother Will's car and drove out of there at very high speeds.

The car was found two days later, parked not far from the Golden Gate Bridge. People who had been crossing the bridge that early morning recalled seeing a girl standing on a railing she should not have been able to reach over the deepest part of the water, then she jumped.

There were people who were down at ground level, who saw her jump, that tried to reach her in an effort to save her. One of the would be rescuers, a man named Barrett Welland, told reporters that "The girl kept shoving us all away without ever touching us. You could see that she wasn't even trying to breathe, and wasn't swimming, either, she was just letting the current pull her out and under."

The first EMTs were on the scene in seven minutes, but it was already too late, the transformed Richard had been pulled under by the current. Another would-be rescuer pointed out over the water, and some of them finally managed to pull the girl out, she wasn't breathing at all.

The EMTS did manage to get her breathing again, her heart was still pumping, although it was quite a bit weaker than normal. She was taken to the nearest medical center, put on life support and monitored round the clock. Just over eleven months after she jumped, the family's funds ran low, almost wiped out by the costs of trying to keep her alive; with no financial aid in sight, they finally pulled the plug on May 15th, '85.

So Sherry was the only one of Jenny's children to have children of her own. Two years after she married Doc Wilson, Sherry gave birth to identical female twins, both weighing five pounds, eleven ounces. Sherry named the two girls Liza Jean and Lila Joan.

Sherry was in a car accident a year after her twins were born. The accident was severe enough that she required a blood transfusion, and this is where fate struck a nasty blow: the blood transfusion triggered an immune system reaction, she eventually recovered, but when tests were done afterward, it was discovered that the new blood had somehow damaged her reproductive organs, she would have no more children.

Liza and Lila were about as normal as two little girls could be, right up until both began to mutate at the age of fourteen, Lila first, Liza about three hours later. By the time the changes had finished, both girls were just short of being fourteen year old bombshells, 5'8", 145 pounds, 36D bust, 23" waist, 34" hips, with wavy copper blonde hair falling to their lower shoulders. The two girls had never been separated for more than a few minutes at any time, for them, just a glance or two would be like most people having a serious conversation about something.

Both girls ended up being mid-level exemplars, level three regens, level three healers, mid level mixed energizers, the external being specifically electric shocks. Both are also speedsters, this seems to be tied to their exemplar traits, not energizer based.

With electrical use of their energizer trait being their primary attack, and their being identical twins, they were soon dubbed the Tesla Twins.

Well, that gives some idea of the "cousins" we have out west, but the weird part is that, in truth, my mother was an illegitimate baby. Her mother Avonna had been in a relationship with Jenny's brother James back in '78 and found out she was pregnant after the relationship ended. She never told James about momma, whose name was Samantha, James only found out when dad told him momma died in early '04.

Avonna, like Robert, had a lifelong battle with the bottle, and also like Robert, she lost her life while driving drunk and speeding in '99.

What most people didn't know about Avonna was that she was a second generation mutant, with very minor powers. Avonna's father had been a mutant with fairly strong TK abilities, he was also a low level exemplar, mid level energizer, a low level brick and a low level regen. Avonna passed on the gene that carries the ability to mutate to my momma, who became a third generation mutant, her powers being similar to Avonna's father's, with the main differences being that she was a mid level brick and a mid level regen. She called herself Lady Electra.

Life in central Kentucky was quiet for the most part, although momma occasionally raced off to Louisville or Lexington to help her super friends. She and dad bought the farm just south of Bethlehem the year before I was born, and dad paid off the mortgage in full six years ago.

I told you earlier that I'm a mutant, well, I'm a fourth generation mutant, we came out to Oakland to discover my powers.

**********

Anyhow, Old Jack was there waiting for us outside the terminal, as was his daughter Jenny, now 72 years old, Jenny's daughter Sherry, and Sherry's twin daughters, Liza and Lila. We ended up going to Old Jack's house to stay, as he had bedrooms to spare.

Old Jack also had a nice big chunk of land not too far from Oakland itself, a bit over 5,000 acres all told, and he and some other supers had built a big underground area for training purposes, high end exercise equipment and rooms for powers testing for new mutants like myself.

Even though she hadn't lived in Old Jack's house for over 50 years, Jenny headed right into the kitchen and started cooking up a storm. Sherry laughed and waved at Liza, Lila and myself to get in there and help Jenny out, Sherry said she would do some house cleaning.

I'd never learned to cook, so it became a hands on lesson as Jenny showed me how to prepare the meat, wash and cut up the potatoes and then tear the husks off some of the first corn crop of the summer, remove the tassels and wash the cobs before dropping them in a pot to boil.

The meat turned out to be buffalo from some guy Old Jack knows in Arizona, he sends meat express delivery to Jack fairly often. What did surprise me was that Jenny turned on the oven, pulled out a frying pan, dropped a bit of lard in it and started frying up small chunks of the meat. She'd add lard and fresh meat every now and then, put the cooked meat into a tray, cover it and place it in the oven to stay warm.

I asked her if i could sample a small amount of the meat as I'd never had buffalo/bison before, she said it was fine and used tongs to grab a bit, then put it on a napkin on the counter. I washed my hands again just because, then used a fork to pick up a bit of the meat and taste it.

Wow! it was pretty good, with a stronger flavour than beef. Jenny said that a piece of bison has about 2/3 the calories of a similar cut of beef.

I watched as Jenny tended the pots. Once the food was all cooking, Liza and Lila set the table for seven and we waited.

Eventually, it was all done, each item in a dish on the table, everyone sat down, Old Jack said a brief grace and we all started eating.

My metabolism seems to be a lot faster now, I'm pretty sure I had three servings of corn and potatoes and two of the meat, it was that good.

**********

Saturday was spent doing basic physical testing, both offence and defence, to see what I could handle. It turns out I don't hit very hard in a purely physical sense, but I can take quite a bit of "punishment" before it becomes too much for me to handle.

I also had to do a lot of running, some of it in circles, some back and forth in straight lines, I'm definitely not used to running.

Sunday was a day to relax, Old Jack was a stickler for not working on the Sabbath; after the workout the day before, I needed the rest.

On Monday, we were back to the testing, this was to check for other powers. Old Jack and his friends code named Red Blade and The Boulder Bull threw all kinds of stuff at me and I had to defend myself without using anything physical. That was a whole lot of fun, not!

I did find out that I seem to have various kinetic abilities, standard telekinetic for one and electrokinetic for a second. With the telekinetic, I need physical items to use those abilities, but the pyro and electro seem to be part and parcel of my energizer powers. At the start, when it came to the electro and pyro sides, I was drawing from the electromagnetic field of the planet and throwing it at them, then at some point, Red Blade started throwing pyro attacks at me while the Bull threw his double electro attack at the same time.

It got pretty busy in there for a while, I figure about one out of every three attacks they threw actually hit me, it all adds up eventually. It took a while, but I did start matching them shot for shot, and at one point I was even throwing five attacks to four from the two of them.

I'll bet that surprised them, that one little slip of a girl was not only matching both of them, but actually proved to be faster on the attack.

Well, that lovely demonstration showed my various kinetic abilities, but it also made it clear that I'm a fairly strong brick and I have regeneration abilities, too. Yeah, I was pretty worn out after all that, but within twenty minutes, there wasn't a burn or scar visible anywhere. Wow!

There was another surprise, too, I'm not sure where I drew it from, but I hit Red Blade with an aerokinetic attack that knocked him down. When we were finished for the day, he said that he'd never seen air used in that fashion before, I said I thought of it after watching a tornado.

The day before dad and I flew out here, we'd had a big tornado bounce through the area about ten miles south of our farm. It just missed Frankfort, dropping to the ground about a mile or two west of there, then it pretty much turned Waddy into a disaster zone. It hit ground two more times before it was too far away for us to see it clearly, those drops being just south of Shelbyville and just north of Simpsonville.

Dad likes to watch birds and animals, he's had at least one set of 10x binoculars in the house since I was a baby. I think he bought a set of 18x binoculars at one point, but he forgets where he puts things sometimes and he hasn't seen that pair for over three years now.

Anyway, I explained my thoughts about the aero shot I did, and Red Blade and The Boulder Bull both agreed that it could be useful.

Tuesday was a different bit of testing, they wanted to see if I had any evasion abilities, I laughed and told them to give it their best shot.

It's a darn good thing we were doing that in a space that's built to take really serious physical impacts, because they started throwing various attacks at me a second or two after that and kept it up for nearly two hours. This was how I learned about my warper power, which seems to be the most common one of the lot for warpers, yeah, it's a teleport. With me, it seems it's limited to line of sight, the closer, the better, so I spent that whole time using that power to bounce myself all over the room, from one spot to another, back and forth, up, down, you name it.

I think they managed to hit me maybe half a dozen times over that two hour session. They were impressed. Me, I was just worn out.

A good solid lunch took care of that and then the testing turned to discovering just how well my regeneration would hold up under repeated attacks. That session wasn't quite as long, but by the end of it, I felt like someone had hit me over and over with a redwood trunk.

You wouldn't have it known it, though, maybe half an hour or so after we stopped, everything except for the broken bones was just fine. Those took a fair bit longer, but by the time I went to bed on Tuesday night, even the broken bones were as good as new. Whew!

By their reckonings, I'm an exemplar 4 (they didn't tell me, but they'd brought another super with them on the Monday, I never actually saw her, but she used her psi abilities to get a good read on me, which was how she was able to gauge my various kinetic abilities. I'd gone through some kind of scan device on the Saturday and info from that was how they determined my exemplar level.

So they told me I was an exemplar 4, then they said I was a regen level 4, a brick, warper level 3, specifically teleports.

What had them wondering was how I managed to have three different kinetic powers, the TK is the weakest, but the others aren't too shabby. Using the TK, I can lift just over 200 pounds (about 90 kg using the metric system), with my control being "fine embroidery". The electro is fairly powerful, but not insanely so, and can generate lethal arcs; the level of control for the electro is about the same as when shooting a gun, not spectacular, but then, I didn't like dad's guns all that much, ya know? The aero is the midline of the three kinetic powers I have, roughly equal to about a 60 mile wind gust, and the control needs lots of work before it will be effective. I have lots to learn about using these powers.

So my kinetic abilities roughly come out to Tk2d, Ek3c and Ak3b according to some info Old Jack had from Whateley.

Honestly, though, just having these abilities is totally new to me, I need to learn about them and how to use all of them effectively.

So now you know a little bit about me. Oh, between Old Jack, Dad and I, we decided that my code name should be Stormwall. Even though the TK is physical based rather than energy, it can get pretty intense depending on what I end up using in a TK based attack. The others, the electro and aero, have effects that are often equated to moderate or powerful storms, and I'm a brick, so Stormwall seems appropriate.

Dad mentioned a place called Whateley tonight, it's somewhere in the wilds of New Hampshire, he says I should go there for training.



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