Francis’ eyes fluttered open. He was lying on Rick’s sofa fully clothed, where he must have fallen asleep. He looked sideways and stared straight into the eyes of the Source, which was staring at him. It’s little chest expanded and contracted gently as it breathed, but otherwise it was perfectly still, watching him.
It hadn’t done much since Francis’ blood had somehow reanimated it. Whenever Adelaide got too close to it it would start a low throaty growl and its eyes would glow threateningly, but that was pretty much it. Adelaide was sleeping upstairs in a spare bedroom. The rest of them had watched the creature long into the night and talked and speculated.
On the other side of the table the cage sat on was Amadeus, watching the Source with unblinking eyes. He noticed Francis’ movement and smiled at him.
“Amazing isn’t it,” he said, gesturing to the Source, “you know I had no clue it was going to be like this. A living creature, I mean. He’s a handsome brute isn’t he?”
Francis nodded. The Source was certainly weird. It was covered with short, bristling fur the colour of ground coffee beans, its chest hair thinner and more sparse than on its back. It had a short snout and distended mouth, with fangs that curved outwards over the lips. Its eyes seemed to be orbs of pure light, and it was impossible to tell exactly what it was the creature was looking at.
“So,” Francis swung his legs down from the side of the sofa, “what are you going to do with it? How are we going to use this thing for good?”
Amadeus put his head to one side. His smile was thin-lipped; half amused and half something else that was hard to place.
“The creature has power,” he said, “its blood, if injected, can make you into a rank five, and that was just a previously normal person like me. I can only imagine what a dose would do to an ordinary Super-human, or even multiple doses.”
“Right,” Francis pursed his lips. That hadn’t really answered his question.
“What’s more it’s not flawed power,” Amadeus said, “see, most rank fives have serious problems, but I don’t. How do you explain that?”
“What do you mean by serious problems?”
Amadeus seemed to think about it carefully before answering.
“How much do you know about Rasputin?” He said after a while.
“Other than that he was Russia’s greatest love machine, not much,” Francis shrugged, “why?”
“He was rank five,” Amadeus said, “blessed with nigh on invulnerability and the ability to regenerate wounds near instantaneously. He was mad, though, quite mad. Regrowing limbs, organs, his head once even, it does things to you. Changes the way you think.”
“I suppose so, yeah,” Amadeus nodded, “Rasputin had power, though, that much was clear. Imagine if he’d been sane, what good he could have done for the world. The mere touch of his skin conveyed its healing properties for a short time, you see. It could heal wounds and even kill diseases. The ultimate cure would be in our hands if only he had not been crazy.”
Francis tried to picture Rasputin as the world’s leading doctor. Somehow he failed to see it.
“Humans are scared of Super-humans,” Amadeus went on, “Its only natural. They fear our power, they fear what we can do. The Source is our way out of that.”
Francis looked at the creature. It glared back at him with its softly burning eyes, its little chest heaving. To think such potential could be contained in something so small, so… strange.
“We can make ourselves perfect,” Amadeus said, “we can iron out all the problems. We can make ourselves truly super.”
“And get rid of the human?” Francis said. It was meant as a joke, but the look Amadeus gave him made a shiver run up his spine.
“So who gets to be Super-super-human?” He asked, “I mean ’cause surely one or two people might be tempted to abuse it?”
“Power is an intrinsic good,” Amadeus had shifted his gaze back to the Source and watched its movements intently, “it’s human nature to misuse it, but those of us who know true power see that it defines morality, not the other way around. Humans worship gods because they cannot face the idea of being gods, and therefore utterly responsible for their own actions.”
“Okay,” Francis said. He found himself leaning back on the sofa. Amadeus looked up at him. He faced down both their stares, Amadeus’ and the Source’s. Right now it was hard to tell which one was scarier.
“To answer your question,” Amadeus said, “we’re going to spread the power of the Source. We’re going to do good by making good. Making good of all that is broken and twisted, one thing at a time.”
Francis’ mouth felt horribly dried. He tried to say something.
“Humans don’t get it,” Amadeus’ voice was little more than a murmur, but the room was perfectly silent, “they’ve messed up this world too long. Thing is, they also created the solution to their own problem. Me. You know the Director always used to taunt me for being disconnected from the real. She could never see what I see, what we see.”
Reaching out, Amadeus put a hand on Francis’ shoulder. Francis only just stopped himself from flinching. He met Amadeus’ stare and managed a watery smile. Sitting back Amadeus folded his arms.
“Look,” he said, “I need to get some sleep. Can you keep watching the Source for me? I need to know if it starts to act funny. We can get things started properly when everyone else gets up.”
“Sure,” Francis nodded in a way he hoped looked reassuring.
“We’re going to change the world,” Amadeus said, and shut his eyes.
He was asleep pretty quickly. Still, Francis waited until he was absolutely certain that Amadeus would not be disturbed before he started to think Lee’s name really loudly.
“What?” came a tired voice and a bleary eyes Lee raised his head from the rocking chair in which he’d been lulled to sleep.
“Get Adelaide,” Francis hissed at him, “we’re getting out of here, and we’re taking the Source.”