Abberant Sentinel


Renegade, by Styx

Oh Mama, I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law
Law man has put an end to my running and I'm so far from my home
Oh Mama I can hear you cryin', you're so scared and all alone
Hangman is comin' down from the gallows and I don't have very long

The jig is up, the news is out, They finally found me
The renegade who had it made, Retrieved for a bounty
Never more to go astray, This'll be the end today
Of the wanted man

Oh Mama, I've been years on the lam and had a high price on my head
Lawman said 'Get him dead or alive' and it's for sure he'll see me dead
Dear Mama I can hear you cryin', you're so scared and all alone
Hangman is comin' down from the gallows and I don't have very long

The jig is up, the news is out, They finally found me
The renegade who had it made, Retrieved for a bounty
Never more to go astray, The judge'll have revenge today
On the wanted man

Oh Mama, I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law
Hangman is comin' down from the gallows and I don't have very long

The jig is up, the news is out, They finally found me
The renegade who had it made, Retrieved for a bounty
Never more to go astray, This'll be the end today
Of the wanted man

*       *       *

She hadn’t eaten for a day, at least. It was Sunday, the Lord’s day. That meant Mama would be back from church soon. It also meant that at least tomorrow she could eat. The school, or maybe the teacher, made sure all the other kids got snacks. Lunch was only a dollar, but that precious dollar could go for other things. Mama needed her special drink, the one that tasted so bitter, biting at the back of the throat then exploding in the stomach, leaving you warm all over while your brain melted.

But right now she was hungry.

And hunger always made It worse.

She couldn’t hold back a whimper as a TV suddenly roared to life three trailers over, some man’s comment bringing laughter to life from the studio audience and the Kalp couple that lived across the way. Her involuntary cringe at the sudden noise scraped her skin across the wool blanket, material raking at skin like Mama’s belt, only worse because it felt like the belt had grown spikes, hooked and barbed and eager to strike.

A low moan escaped her lips, but even that was cruel, no form of release. Even while the vibrations of the throat rattled her skin more, and the sound slammed into her ears, her very breath assaulted her. The waft of air, first in to create the sound, brought the taste of old, stale air perfumed with mold and dust. The breath out carried the flavor of bile, stomach gases roiling in hopes of digesting absent food.

The next breath she brought in through her nose, but that was far from relief. Moldy dust rushed inwards, tickling then rampaging though her sinuses. Stale, spilled alcohol told of spoiled wheat, vomit from too many of Mama’s hangovers ran throughout the trailer, even the toilet reeked of old body waste long flushed away. Her only defense was to keep her eyes squinched shut, preventing the light from exploding through her eyes in fireworks of colors she had no names for.

But the hunger continued, and so did the pain. Each growl of hunger from her stomach, every pained breath, each rocket-loud heartbeat increased the battle of life against her senses. It grew, and overwhelmed, until blessed darkness overtook even that.

The void. She came here, sometimes, but then there was always one thing that she focused on, and it was the Void-not-void, the Void-as-sight/taste/touch/smell/sound. A deep rumble disturbed the serenity, and she automatically whirled around. A large jungle cat was seated regally in the nothingness, the black spots in the tawny gold coat matching the surrounding darkness. She remembered the cat. As a child – and when, she wondered, had she changed from the childhood memories to being an adult? – the cat had guarded her, come during the worst zones to wake her, or purred her to sleep on the really bad days, letting her drift off wrapped in velvet fur vibrating with a deep purring that kept Mama’s drinking binges far, far away.

“Hey,” she called softly, reaching out to stroke the jaguar. She was stunned when it did not react as expected. Instead of leaning into her caress like it once had with a bone rattling purr, the jungle cat crouched down, ears going flat against the skull as its lips drew back, baring finger long fangs in a deep snarl.

Her arm snapped back to her side as she involuntarily gasped. What the hell? The jag had always been a friend, a companion, an ally. Why had it turned on her? The jaguar snarled again, and suddenly, with painful clarity, Alex Barnes remembered.

Sentinel. Murderer. Bond-breaker. Faithless one.” The words echoed through her head in a voice that was almost hers, distorted only as if it were said from the depths of a cave. They rampaged through her mind, dancing with images of Cascade and Peru at levels she never brought her hearing up to. Too loud. Too painful.

When Alex could finally open her eyes past the pain, the jaguar was gone. In its place stood someone that looked like herself. It glared at her from a face painted with strange, tribal designs matching dye smeared into its tanned hide clothes. The primitive, other her stood casually, holding a bow loosely in the left hand, while long arrows were housed in a quiver slung over her back. But somehow, Alex felt more disturbed by her double’s steady glare.

“What do you want?” she demanded.

“You betrayed your calling,” the primitive her replied evenly, emotionless tone betraying the continual, icy look in her eyes. “Sentinels protect the tribe, not destroy it.”

Alex closed her own eyes, unsure if it was in shame or in an attempt to prevent herself from looking into those accusing eyes. “I- the drink-” A multitude of excuses flashed by, but reluctantly she shoved them away. All that was left was the mental image of two men, both deep in the embrace of pools of water. The first, she’d abandoned, flight taking precedence over him. She’d left Blair Sandburg to drown. The other... the other held her, talking softly even after he’d stimulated her senses far past their drug induced limits to send her deep into her last zone. Even after all she’d done to Jim Ellison, he hadn’t left her. He hadn’t left her. Although every person in her life had abandoned her, given up on Alexandra Barnes as a hopeless nut case, a tool to be used then thrown away, he had stayed with her.

Against her will, a lump formed in the back of her throat. At least she retained enough control to keep all but a few tears slipping free. A deep sniff and quick swipe of the sleeve took care of that. She raised her chin and glared right back at her spirit double. “What do you want?” she repeated roughly.

The doppelganger’s lips seemed to twitch, almost smile, but so quickly even her Sentinel senses doubted it. “You have a choice to make.”

Alex raised an eyebrow, doubt oozing from every pore. “You’re kidding, right? Like you said, I betrayed my calling. Don’t tell me this is second chance time.”

An equally sardonic grin appeared on the other’s lips. “I never intended to. I am here to give you a choice in your punishment. Awake or asleep, it doesn’t matter to me.”

“What do you mean?”

“What form of penance do you wish to serve? You can hide here, leaving the world safe until your death, or walk the waking lands. If you walk the waking lands, it will be a harder, but perhaps shorter path.”

“To my death.”


She didn’t even try to stop a smile as she spread her hands. “Bring it on.”

The doppelganger smiled back, then went down on hands and knees, except now she was the jaguar so it was on her paws, then the cat jumped at her. Instead of feeling the jag’s claws rake skin from bone like Alex expected, the animal leapt into her. The impact jostled her back, making her gasp in shock-

*       *       *

And her eyes opened wide, extra-sensitive pupils expanding, then contracting to compensate for bright light. For a minute all she could do was hyperventilate in shock, unable to do more than stare and memorize the white ceiling tiles and the far too bright light looming over her. “Ms. Barnes?” a baritone asked softly before a man’s face moved into her field of view. Slim, Asian, with short cut green hair. She could deal. “How are you feeling?”

She paused for a moment, contemplating the answer. “Weak,” she finally decided, her voice only a croak. Apparently the man was no fool; he quickly moved a small cup of ice chips near and gave her a few. “Thanks. Where-?”

The man grinned, and she had to squish a sense of apprehension. The Jaguar had told her what she was in for. If it was pleasant, she wouldn’t be here. “Ms. Barnes, welcome to Project Utopia.”


“Ever have the feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming?” Matrix. Movie from a few years back. Eh, it was ok, not really my thing, and from what I hear you had to see it in the theaters. I was still asleep at the time. But I guess that’s why I like the saying so much. I still think I’m asleep. Life..... life is weird.

It’s been that way for years, now. It started back when I traveled to a little city called Cascade, up in Washington state in the good old U.S. of A. By that time I was already making a good living doing- well, just about anything that paid well.

I won’t make any excuses. Sure, I had a bad childhood. Father unknown, single mom that drank like a sponge, bad neighborhood, we all heard that story before. I didn’t have to learn to steal, or get ahead of the competition by taking it out before it was a threat. I didn’t have to join up with Carl and learn how to be a successful, middling to high class thief and saboteur. Like I said. I refuse to use that crutch. I am what I am because I wanted to be this way, not because of how I grew up.

Even my senses. I could have turned out like that goody two shoes Ellison, use my senses to be a cop, or rescue worker, or god knows what else. Didn’t have to use them to get ahead in the crime game.

It’s funny, I guess. When I first really used my senses, it was hot shit. It still is a trip to use them, but now it’s just a minor ‘superpower’ in a world that makes comic books look like history texts. Not that my life is much better. Used my ‘special abilities’ to live the good life with Carl, getting major money and adrenaline like you wouldn’t believe off that life. Then enter the territory of another Sentinel, kill his sidekick/partner/what the hell ever, and get hunted down by the Sentinel all the way to Peru. You know, even my downfall was rather comic bookish. I went too far. I realize that now. Even the ancients cautioned that using the pools more than once was too dangerous. Before my genes did the Aberrant thing, it was too dangerous. Now, with the ability to heal faster, shrug off injury, my body compensated. With a little help from the P.U., I woke from the coma I went into from sensory overload after the pool and ancient herbal shit.

They’ve been trying to train me as an operative since then. Stupid people. I’ve been doing this sort of thing for years before they came along. Sure, the practice is good, but I’m so far ahead of their curve it’s funny. Not like I’m gonna let them know that. Even my good little keeper - god, he’s a dork, but I wish he’d cut out those knowing looks that make me think he’s reading my mind and finds it all so pathetic it’s not even amusing! - thinks I’m still stumbling along. Sure, I owe the Project for waking me up, but please. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life running their errands. Especially with them looming over my shoulder with all those rants about me turning over a new leaf and coming over to the light side of the force.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had enough of the killing. I remember where that got me last time, and- ok, ok, I admit it. Killing Blair.... I don’t know how to put it. It’s been bugging me from the moment I knocked him out and dumped him in the fountain. I’d like to say I still don’t know why I did that, but it’d be a lie. I know the reason.

It took me awhile to recognize the connection between Blair and Ellison. I could always tell Blair was slightly uncomfortable around me, which is exactly why I flirted with him. I’ll admit it, I like playing with people’s minds. Making him squirm a little for some harmless fun. Why not? But the tape he had of his notes about me and Ellison, that explained it. That thing he did, guiding me and Ellison with our Sentinel abilities, it’s a lot more permanent than I think he realized. Sure, he was all gung ho to help. And he did. But he couldn’t help me like he helped him. I watched them, for awhile, after they visited my apartment and Mr. Macho Cop threatened me for entering his territory. They lived together, they sort of worked together.... Even under the stress of the time, I could see something significant just because it wasn’t there. Marriages don’t usually even get that close.

I... yeah, I would love having something like that. But Blair was the first time I’d ever seen the possibility of it ever happening out in real life. And he had it with someone else. There was no way I’d be able to have it with him, and for some reason, I can’t see stumbling over someone that could accept me that unconditionally. And hell, that was before he knew about my past and my current occupation.

That made me so jealous of Ellison. What had he done to get that sort of trust, acceptance... love. So I killed Blair. It felt wrong, something inside screaming at me, some part of me denying that I should destroy Blair Sandburg. There was no way I could shoot him. Knocking him out was as far as I could go. The fountain was a sudden improvisation. Eh, I don’t know what I was thinking at the time. Dragging him out to the car, he tried to escape, so I hit him, and all of a sudden the water was there, and it seemed like a good idea, just move the body and leave before I could be found. It just happened.

Thank God Ellison brought him back. I’d hate it if I really had killed him. Well, since he flat-lined, maybe it’s better put that I’d hate it if I was the reason he was dead right now. I hope he’s doing all right. I... haven’t checked. Not in Cascade anymore, so no clue from my senses. And I never got up the nerve to look the information up. I’m happy thinking Blair Sandburg is still healthy and alive, teaching at Rainier and consulting the cop shop to help Ellison with normal, Sentinel level senses that don’t include aberrant powers. Yeah, it’s pretty fairy tale material, but what the hell. I’m not ready for the truth. And damned if I’ll ask anyone around here for the favor of ruining the fantasy.

Where was I, before that little tangent? Ah, the new leaf thing. I’m not into killing, unless it happens to be any relatives of Carl. I’ve been in a coma for too long. One year of dreaming is more than enough, let alone several.

I’m Alicia Bannister now, for real. Legally changed all the shit that made me Alexandra Barnes thanks to Project Utopia. No record, no history of three years in Corona Prison... no mention of drowning one life-loving Blair Sandburg. And nowadays, Sentinel senses are jack shit on people’s radar. Just another aberrant. I can live with that. For awhile, at least. No way this jaguar is staying caged for long. Let ‘em stretch out the leash for awhile. Then we’ll find out just how good these fools are.

Leapin' Lizards, Batman!

Seventy-three days and counting, I thought with a grin, stretching out just because I could. It wasn’t a bone cracker, though, not that I’m complaining. I’d been working out too much lately for that.

The stretch seemed to cue a need to move, so I rolled off the couch and paced over to the bay windows, sliding the glass door open to prowl onto the patio. There’s not much of a view to my new home, in roughly the center of the Project Utopia gated community. Ok, so it’s not exactly a gated community, but what else can you call this little bit of Suburbia cut off from the rest of Mexico City so all the good little novas can live in the protective shadow of their employers?

Cynical? Who, me?

Well, I can’t complain. Small house, excellent studio replacing the attic, and the patio in a backyard that can support three trees and probably too many bushes, which looks all very nice in the light of the just-risen sun such as that morning. All I needed was something to do. I’ve told Dr. Chang repeatedly that I’m here to DO, not just watch, but.... Of course that’s when he goes into major bullshit mode. I swear that’s the only time I know how he’s going to react. If he is a nova, that’s probably one of his powers. Sheer randomness.

Either way. Not my problem. My problem was I’d been called out for some minor shit, a little lab work to see what I could identify from an explosion, then a bit of search and rescue work over in... oh, I don’t know. Somewhere in the depths of Africa. Again, all little stuff. Even on my worst days as a crook, I did more than that. And don’t expect me to believe any modern organization, even the knight-in-shining-armor PU, can get along without some sort of covert section.

The rattle of the fax machine managed to pull me out of too deep a contemplation of how sour the whole organization could get. It turned out to be a... request for my presence at the headquarters. Apparently my whining to Chang had paid off. I’d already eaten and done some early exercises (about the only activity I and the watchdogs- rather, trainers- agreed on), so I was ready to go.

Thankfully, security decided not to harass me today about bringing the gun in. I still don’t see the problem. Not like most of the people walking by couldn’t unleash ten times the damage, and without any weapon at all.

I wasn’t the first to the meeting. When I got to the assigned room, a man was already standing next to the coffee maker and complimentary doughnuts. His dark blue suit was cut conservatively, like some sort of businessman. The short, if curly brown hair supported that instead of the possible government spook his clothes indicated. Obviously took care with his grooming, giving off the smell of expensive cleaning products, along with fresh shoe polish, all underneath cinnamon, of all things. When he looked up and made eye contact, I had to fight against a chill going down my spine. He had dark blue eyes, a very nice color, but familiar in a far too disturbing way. Reminding myself that this was not Blair, couldn’t be Blair, we shook hands as Joshua introduced himself. More than a little disturbed, I just sat down and tried to get my act together.

Soon after, another man entered. Also about six feet, nicely muscled but very trim, packed in white polo shirt and very light cargo khakis. Screamed ‘nova’ with that shiny, too perfect gleam to him. Green eyes too close to emerald, the medium thick black hair a bit too perfectly placed. Makes me wonder if I’ve changed that much in appearance too.

A few minutes of tense silence followed his introduction as Sebastian, manners and accent marking him as majorly into the upper class. My guess is corporation brat. High quality eufiber clothes, excessively expensive cologne used a bit too liberally for my nose, and an Attitude. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for our new superior, one Director Jones, to arrive.

Bland. That’s the first word that comes to mind about the man. The reek of cigarette smoke, maybe something expensively Cuban, was the only thing distinguishable about him. Well, that and the news he brought. We – myself, Joshua, and Sebastian – were being assigned. And it was a hell of an assignment.

Apparently rogue novas, those that were criminal, or insane, or whatever, get imprisoned in the Rashoud facility on the island of Bahrain. Unlike the rest of the teaching centers around the world, this place is a lot more Area 51. At least, that’s what I get from what little I’ve heard. Either way, seven dangerous novas had escaped, and Project Utopia wants them back.

For the public safety and health, of course.

We were sent after Frank Riley, aka The Lizard. Very original. Even I remember the Spiderman villain by that name. This one had apparently been caught as a stalker chasing after some nightclub waitress. If nothing else, it promised a good lead. And with this guy, any lead was a good one.

I had never gone up against another nova before. Well.... aside from the whole Ellison thing, but let’s not go there. I’m done with that. Another life.... Literally.

Lizard boy had some interesting powers. Between the armor, camouflage, tail, claws, and venom, I could tell we would have our hands full. Add in paranoia and berserker rages, and it promised to be more than fun.

At least there were three of us. I can see why P.U. chose the three of us for this mission. I’m the reconnaissance expert from hell. Sebastian is an expert at stealth and acrobatics, apparently superhuman in the quickness and strength department, not to mention the invisibility thing. Joshua is a telekinetic. Together, it makes a nicely balanced grouping of abilities.

It certainly served us well enough against the Lizard. After too much time spent watching the local haunts, we finally found him at his former victim’s house. Of course, that was after we found we’d gained a watcher of some sort. Lots of advanced tech toys for surveillance, even managed to break our cell phone encryption. I don’t like this, or him. It doesn’t bode well.

Well, at least we caught the Lizard. Joshua managed to get him cornered in the attic, although I still doubt he knew where he exactly was. By the time Sebastian and I made it to him, the Lizard was trapped. Didn’t take long at all to knock him out and bring him back here to Mexico City.

So here I am, looking into an interrogation room as one nova – a teenager, for God’s sake – rifles through another’s like it’s a book. Shakespeare put it nicely. “Oh what a brave new world, that has such people in it.” Of course, bravery balances on the razor’s edge to insanity.....

I should know.

Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home

I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive

Any questions? Complaints? Screams of outrage that I actually consider myself a writer and/or dared to show this in public? Tell me! Send it all to! I love mail!!!!

The Sentinel, Alex, Jim, Blair, and Cascade belongs to Pet Fly and Paramount. The rest is based off of Abberant, so it belongs to White Wolf. No infringement intended.