White Sasha, p.1Sasha MacPherson
Copyright 2012 by Sasha MacPherson
ISBN: 978-0-9880954-1-0 (epub version)
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Cover art copyright by Mark Williams (https://marrilliams.deviantart.com/)
The characters “Firebird” and “Code Blue” are being used in this work with permission. They remain the property of their respective owners.
April 9th, 1910
The young astronomer patted his telescope like an old friend. Together they would live the stargazer’s dream of a lifetime, as a rare guest to Earth was about to visit for a spectacular show. Halley’s Comet was approaching Earth on its 76 years long roundtrip around the sun, and would soon be visible on the sky even with the naked eye. Except for a few lucky people, it was also an event that would occur only once in a human lifetime. At least the astronomer didn’t expect to see his 101st birthday to be able to observe the comet’s next return in 1986, so he planned to make the most of the one chance he would likely ever get.
And he would have the best available seat on the planet: The Mount Wilson observatory near Los Angeles had recently been fitted with a sixty inch telescope, making it the largest operating telescope in the world. Being a rather recent university graduate, the young man expected more experienced astronomers to take over the telescope as the comet would come closer, but in the meantime the show was mostly his to run, and he appreciated that.
He peeked through his eyepiece at the bright white spot in the dark night sky. It appeared motionless, but the astronomer knew that this was an illusion, as the comet was actually racing towards Earth at more than 250,000 kilometers per hour. The eleven kilometer wide lump of frozen water and cosmic dust would come spectacularly close to Earth this time, passing it at a distance of only twenty million kilometers - a grazing shot by cosmic standards.
The young scientist removed the eyepiece from his telescope and replaced it with a photo camera. Halley’s Comet had been a regular guest to Earth for countless millennia, but thanks to this new technology it was going to be the first time that lasting images of the event would remain for posterity. Of course the most spectacular photographs would only be made when the comet had reached its closest point to Earth, but the astronomer had decided to take a few practice shots to make sure no mistakes would be made when it really mattered. He made sure the comet was still centered in the lens and took half a dozen shots. The astronomer had no idea how to develop the photographs. He would hand the material to a co-worker having the necessary skills in the morning.
When the astronomer went to bed, he had no idea that he had just taken the only photographs that would ever be made of Halley’s Comet. Had he stayed only a few minutes longer and continued looking through his telescope’s eyepiece, the young man would have seen the comet suddenly being blanked out by a bright flash of light, as a large asteroid the size of a volcano struck Halley’s Comet dead center. The immense blast annihilated the asteroid and a substantial part of Halley’s mass in a maelstrom of heat and pressure. Three larger parts remained of the comet, thrown away in different directions by the powerful impact. The largest one was set on a course that would eventually catapult it out of the solar system, never to be seen again. Another one was headed towards the center of the solar system, where it would be captured by the sun’s gravity to meet a fiery demise in a few weeks. The last part - a ball of ice and dust almost half a kilometer wide in diameter - was resuming a course not to different from the comet’s original one.
But instead of going to pass Earth at a safe distance of twenty million kilometers, it was now heading right towards it.
April 20th, 1910
Routine human everyday life had come to all but a standstill as humanity’s eyes were collectively directed at the sky and the glowing object that grew larger and larger in their vision. Astronomers had been calculating and re-calculating the comet fragment’s projected path over and over again, but couldn’t seem to agree whether Halley C - as the fragment approaching Earth had been denoted - would be missing the blue planet by a minuscule distance, or impact on the surface, wiping out all life on any continent it might strike.
The truth was somewhere in between.
Followed by a column of blue light, Halley C struck Earth’s upper atmosphere at a speed of almost sixty kilometers per second. The air resistance immediately decelerated it, heating the comet’s icy core to many hundred degrees Celsius in a matter of mere moments and weakening its structure. At the same time Earth’s gravity mercilessly kept pulling on it. The brutal physical forces at work were too much for the weakened comet fragment to endure. Around ten kilometers above the Arctic Ocean, Halley C exploded with a tremendous blast equalling millions of tons of explosives and a flash of brilliant light so intense that many hundred million humans had to avert their eyes in unison to prevent them from getting instantly blinded. The immense shockwave shattered the arctic’s ice crust below to pieces and triggered the equivalent of a magnitude ten earthquake, which knocked people from their feet in places as far away as North America and Europe.
Despite the devastation, humanity had been lucky on that day. The number of casualties was minimal, considering that a direct surface impact of the comet could have eradicated hundreds of millions human lives, had it struck a densely populated continent.
But what the celebrating humans didn’t immediately notice was something else that the comet had brought to Earth. The blast had released a form of radiation that scientists had discovered only fourteen years ago: Radioactivity.
The invisible particles were carried by winds all over the planet, affecting every single human, animal and plant alive. Over the next few decades, over hundred thousand deaths would be attributed to the late effects of radiation poisoning. But the most lasting effect was that the human genetic structure had been changed forever. Exactly nine months after Halley C had exploded in Earth’s atmosphere, the first metahuman baby was born. Subsequently, one of every hundred thousand humans would be born with extraordinary abilities of some degree. Some were born exceptionally strong or smart. Some had the power to conjure fire, lightning and ice. Others could run faster than an Olympic sprint champion ever could dream of. A few could create earthquakes with a command of their mind or control gravity to make objects float in the air, even their own bodies.
And although only a fraction of all metahumans would develop truly substantial powers, Earth would never be the same again.
August 16th, 1995
Sasha whistled her favourite tune while she walked home through the city park. The shadowy park was a welcome relief of the mid-summer heat assaulting her hometown of Vancouver. In contrast to the weekends, when this park tended to be invaded by large crowds bringing picnic baskets, BBQ grills, and enough meat to run a butcher’s shop for a week, the park was eerily quiet now. Other than Sasha, the only other living beings in the part seemed to be squirrels and birds.
The young girl was in a great mood, which mostly had to do with the fact that school was over for today, and like most fifteen year olds Sasha was long past the phase when she had found school to be remotely enjoyable. Being considered a freak and harassed by her classmates for her snow-white hair and her inability to smell even the most intense scents had considerably amplified her view on that.
But in a few minutes she’d be at home, where a large bowl of homemade pasta would be waiting for h
Then something made Sasha stop. The barking was getting louder. Much louder. But she wasn’t that close to home yet. The next moment, Sasha screamed in panic as the two dogs jumped out of a bush and charged right towards her.
The terrified girl dropped her bag, whirled around and ran. But there was no way she could hope to outrun the two furious dogs. After three steps, something hard hit her back accompanied by a dark growl, and Sasha fell to the ground, rolling over and lying on her back. She screamed in agony as sharp teeth sank into her leg’s tender flesh. And her eyes went wide in panic as the other dog came in fast, and jumped on her chest, knocking the air from her lungs. His wide open jaw was aiming straight for her face. Sasha jerked up her arms in front of her face and pushed hard against the dog, trying to shove the animal off her body.
But she couldn’t.
She yelled for help as the strong dog gradually pushed her arms farther down towards her face, its teeth now mere inches away from her throat. But she was all alone in the park. Nobody was going to help her anytime soon.
Sasha screamed as she realized that if the dog would get hold of her throat, she would die. In helpless rage, her eyes focused on the dog who intended to kill her for no reason at all. But the young girl refused to give up and die just yet. She reached deep inside her body and collected every bit of her remaining strength, focusing it all on the one task that would keep her alive: Keeping the dogs away from her throat. But her arms started to tremble as her physical strength was waning. Sasha was a tall and sporty girl, but she was no match against a hundred pounds of teeth and muscle. The dog’s teeth were slicing into her face more and more often, as the growling dog relentlessly pushed attack after attack. And the throbbing pain from Sasha’s numerous wounds signalled the girl that her body couldn’t take much more of this. Her warm blood was pouring down her cheeks in small rivers as Sasha’s mind reached deeper inside herself, desperately urging her body for more strength.
Just as Sasha wanted to give up and accept that her fate was sealed, her mind discovered something. A source of power, hidden deep within her that she had never realized was even there. Sasha had no idea what it was, but used the last bit of her remaining mental power to will it to life.
A sudden surge of raw kinetic energy erupted from her hand, blasting into the dogs with the force of a sledgehammer. The two animals were propelled high into the air and yelped as they smashed into the ground, almost twenty feet away from Sasha. One of them rolled over and laid still, the other one limped away on three feet.
Sasha rolled to her side, buried her torn face in her hands and wept.
The doctor quietly closed the door to Sasha’s room behind him. Outsides, Tom Clarkson stood with a solemn expression, holding his wife close to him and gently rubbing her shoulder. Laura Clarkson sadly looked at the door and then at the doctor.
“How is she doing?” Sasha’s mother asked quietly.
The doctor nodded. “Your daughter will be all right, Mrs. Clarkson. Given enough time, that is. However, a few of the cuts in her face are quite frankly gruesome. Sasha will fully recover, but I am afraid the scars will remain.”
Laura’s hand reached up to cover her mouth and tears were appearing in her already reddened eyes.
“When the wounds are healed, there might be at least a few things we can do about it,” the doctor continued. “Plastic surgery can do amazing things these days. For the time being, she just needs some rest, though.”
Laura nodded sadly, and then escorted the doctor to the door.
With an exhausted sigh she let herself sink onto the sofa, next to her husband.
“As if the poor thing didn’t have it hard enough in school already. Now she will have a disfigured face on top of it,” she said.
“I know. But at least she’s alive. That’s what matters,” Tom said, patting his wife’s knee.
Laura nodded. “I know,” she whispered.
Both remained silent for the better part of half an hour. Too exhausting the past few hours had been for both of them, after Sasha had weakly stumbled into their home and collapsed just behind the door, covered in blood.
Then Tom and Laura looked up in surprise as they heard a door open on the first floor.
And they stared with wide open eyes as their daughter slowly descended the stairs and walked towards them with measured steps. Sasha had ripped away the bandages from her face and arms. There was not the slightest visible trace of any wound remaining on her skin.
“Mom...dad...,” Sasha slowly said, a bewildered expression in her eyes, She pointed towards her perfectly beautiful face that looked just the same way it always had. As if the dog’s sharp claws and fangs had never torn into it.
“Who or what am I?” she whispered.
Tom was the first to regain his composure. “Please, sit down, honey,” she said. Then he looked questioningly at his wife. Laura nodded.
“There is something we need to tell you, Sasha. And it will be very hard to accept for you. You might even end up hating us after it, but please hear us out to the end, ok?”
Sasha slowly shook her head. “How could I ever hate my own parents?” she whispered.
“That’s part of the point, Sasha...Laura and I aren’t your parents. Well, legally we are. We have adopted you.”
Sasha wordlessly stared into the man’s face who she had believed to be nothing else than her dad until a moment ago. After a long moment of silence, the girl spoke. “Who were my real parents, then,” she whispered.
Tom drew in a deep breath. “Do you know what a metahuman is, Sasha?”
The girl nodded. “I have sometimes read about them in the newspapers. They are people with extraordinary abilities, right?”
“Yes. A small percentage of humans are different from the norm. Some are extremely strong. Some can wield magic. Some can shape shift. Some can run really fast. These powers come in all shapes and sizes, really. A number of them are using these talents to do great things for all of humanity. Others use them for their own purposes, or even used them to commit crimes. Some don’t use them much at all. Metahumans are really rare. And your biological mother was one of them.”
“Who was she? And how did she die?”
“Nobody knows her real name. The one she gave herself and we know her as is ‘Scarlet Fire’. She was able to use magic with great power, particularly fire-based magic. She was also a skilled bio-engineer.”
Tom looked away and paused. Laura reached out with her hand and gently squeezed her husband’s leg.
“And the reason she’s dead is...because I killed her, Sasha,” Tom finished with a hushed voice.
When Tom looked into his adoptive daughter’s face, he was sure he couldn’t have any more stunned her if he had struck her with his fist. Sasha’s eyes were opened wide and stared motionlessly into Tom’s.
“You know that I am a cop, Sasha. The unit I am assigned to is the RCMP’s Integrated Task Force for Superhuman Crime. Hunting metahuman criminals, that’s what we do. You can imagine that criminals having super powers are a lot more dangerous than regular ones.”
“Are you saying that my real mother was...?”
“A criminal, yes. And she was very dangerous, even by metahuman standards. I was leading the force assigned to arrest her. We finally found out where she was hiding and took a team there. At this time Laura was a part of the force too. We were both in the team that executed the raid. We thought we could surprise her and quickly overwhelm her, but something went wrong. She resisted and killed two of my team. I had to shoot her or more good men would have died.”
Tom swallowed hard before he went on. “One of her ille
Sasha’s gaze went from Tom to Laura and back. “Let me guess...the result is me?” she whispered.
Tom nodded. “After we had to kill your mother, we searched her laboratory and found you there. You were barely five weeks old. There were certain...talks...about what to do with you. In the end Laura and I pressured my superiors very hard, and they gave you to us. Laura couldn’t have children of her own, and we always wanted to have kids. She then quit the RCMP to care for you.”
Tom pointed to his daughter’s perfectly recovered face. “We didn’t exactly know in what way the metahuman powers would manifest in you, Sasha, except that we have always suspected that you would have to have some sort of innate talent for magic. We had no idea that your body is able to self-recover like that, despite we did notice that those small cuts that kids tend to get every now and then seemed to heal very fast on you. What we know for sure is that your intelligence is artificially enhanced and is far above average. You have an IQ in the mid-180s. That’s why you get all those A-grades without having to study hard for it. For comparison, Albert Einstein’s IQ was around 160. The highest one ever recorded is around 230. Yours occurs naturally roughly once in every 75,000 humans.”
“My white hair...? And that I can’t smell anything?” Sasha said, pointing at her head.
“Both is quite likely a side-effect of the alterations done to your DNA, but we don’t know for sure,” Tom said.
Sasha snorted. “So, those people in school who always said that I am a freak...they were right after all, huh?”
Tom vigorously shook his head.
“You are not like others, Sasha. That doesn’t make you a freak. Please don’t think for a second that are one. You are a kind, brilliant, beautiful and charming young lady, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”
White Sasha by Sasha MacPherson / Fantasy have rating 2.5 out of 5 / Based on15 votes