Chapter 22: Ditch's Last Dig [Unedited]


"NSFm-1 Alpha took the General!" Otto calls out as the nonessential personnel start to filter back into the command center. #gio

"My friend, Nobody takes Nelissa anywhere," Nicolasa is both quick at wit and quick to point out. #gio

"He can have her," Lazaro groans through an ice pack. From a console, he tries halfheartedly to locate the woman who worked him over. #gio


Not making light of the NSF's future prospects as far as the US government is concerned, Nicolasa states, "That's still an option." #gio

Otto looked up at his partners in science with a puzzled stare. He'd thought that their hands were tied concerning Nelissa's pull. #gio

As if Lazaro did not know the exact answer, he still thought to ask the rhetorical question, "What are you suggesting?" #gio


"It's seemingly out of our hands at this point," Nicolasa insinuated slyly. "The General's been captured...." #gio

"For her benefit," again, as if Lazaro cared, he offered this sentiment, "we should send in the Super 7 to salvage things." #gio

Now, Otto was starting to catch on. His response was a simple, "Nice...," but the three-way consensus was anything if not complex. #gio


Even during mid rematerialization, I can still hear ever word that's being spoken which speaks to the deviousness of the NSF's plan. #gio

Otto was even smart enough to keep up with the specifics, so it took me no time at all to catch on to my part in it. #gio

They want Nelissa out of their hair, and I've been given two golden opportunities to make this happen. #gio


The first opportunity presents itself as Nelissa and I both return to corporeal form. Finally alone, the General is at my mercy. #gio

I've become somewhat partial to Buffalo Grove, so I chose Buffalo Grove High School's football field for our meeting. #gio

To catch her bearings, she scans the periphery for a familiarity check and locks in on the red track which surrounds the field. #gio


"That was amazing," Nelissa admits of the transportation experience. Talking to herself, she says, "I never would've imagined." #gio

"It's a little something that I picked up," is my response. The second opportunity is clear if I hide what else I just picked up. #gio

The NSF is gambling that I dislike her enough to rid myself of the General or at least allow them to do it for me by not interfering. #gio


But the NSF forgets, or perhaps, they're not aware that Nelissa and I now share a mutual bond by way of Tevan. #gio

He's as much a part of me now as he is of her, and though I don't have the labor pains to show for it, his rebirth was just as valid. #gio

There's no doubt in my mind that she loves him, and I personally don't have anything against him or her, so, "Please, tell me why." #gio


Distant because of preoccupation, Nelissa responds, "NSFm-1 Alpha, if you only have a chance to ask one question, make it specific." #gio

She almost seemed aloof with her head turned away from me, surveying the area - but retained full control of the conversation. #gio

"I just want to make sure that all of my bases are covered," I tell my former adversary, but what does that make the General now? #gio


When victories and defeats can no longer be measured in terms of wins and losses, what becomes of the game? #gio

Is this still a game or something more? What else could either of us gain from being at odds? #gio

Nelissa waits patiently for me to rephrase my question, so I guess that this is it, "What more could we possibly lose?" #gio


"Our home," Nelissa specifies, "Earth." I can't help but notice that I'm included in the usage of 'our'. #gio

"But how can I trust you?" Pardon me for bringing up old, recent wounds. Are we just supposed to forgive and forget? #gio

She's quick to dismiss, "We're well past the relevance of that point," my concerns, so I guess bygones will have to be bygones. #gio


"I needed to test you out to see if you were the real deal," Nelissa explains, "and you liked it." #gio

She's got a point and adds another, "You could've destroyed this entire planet at any time of your choosing but didn't." #gio

"Had I not put you through your paces," her conclusion is spot-on, "you'd still be a slave to the NSF - unknowing of your abilities." #gio


Nelissa's logic is convenient, so I call her out on it, "As opposed to being your slave now?" #gio

Without denying the accusation, she finally turns around to face me with a smirk while replying, "There are worse things." #gio

"You know, I've been meaning to tell you," I laugh although this is no laughing matter, "that you're a piece of work." #gio


Elaborating, I add, "I should be gnawing on your soul for what you've done to me, but I really like you, and I get it." #gio

"Oh, you get it now?" Nelissa questions with skepticism. "What is it that you get? Enlighten me, Ethereal." #gio

"Whatever this threat is to Earth," I guess, "it has you spooked enough to sacrifice your own child in hopes of its aversion." #gio


Shaking her head like I guessed wrong, Nelissa corrects, "It's a promise - not a threat. But yes, Tevan's situation was unfortunate." #gio

"You know networking," she acknowledges. "Well, my network alerted me to a faction that has its sights set on our world." #gio

I've learned to heed her thorough analysis and wise perspective, "Subjugation or destruction has no difference. We're in trouble." #gio


"It's no time for me become selfish and familial," Nelissa claims, "because there won't be a planet for any child if I fail." #gio

I'm well within my rights to plead, "You could've just told me. I'd have been receptive to your mission." #gio

She sugarcoats nothing, "Would this have been before or after the NSF used you to cause another international incident?" #gio


"We may never know what caused you to become sentient after being dormant for so long as the NSF's puppet," Nelissa adds. #gio

Again, her conclusion is fascinating, "But my methods are to thank for instilling a sense of self-preservation within you." #gio

"And in freeing you from their hold, those methods," she adds, "broke the chain of their deception as far as I'm concerned." #gio


I've become a fan of these methods, so I listen up: "Science is going to answer the call of its responsibility and not its ambition." #gio

"Businesses are going to stop making demands and start bettering society," Nelissa predicts. #gio

Her conclusion happens to be something that I don't hear everyday, "For once, the government isn't the one who's morally bereft." #gio


"So groups like the NSF and companies like RefCo know about the faction that's gunning for Earth?" I'm curious. #gio

"Know about the faction?" Nelissa confirms, "They each knowingly benefited from it with lucrative tech contracts." #gio

Always one to extend the benefit of the doubt, she offers, "Granted - you're special, but the seven superpowers own your services." #gio


Speaking of which, I sound out what I'd previously heard, "Seven...Super 7, what - what's that?" #gio

"Get," Nelissa orders softly but assertively as she draws her hand laser and tugs on my arm, "down." #gio

Suffice it to say, that was a disheartening response. I'm the Ethereal, so why am I the one being protected? #gio


Back at the NSF Facility, Nicolasa is far from heartbroken when admitting, "It's a shame that NSFm-1 Alpha corrupted Nelissa's mind." #gio

"We tried so hard to save her," Otto plays along. Oh, these guys are funny - making up powers of mine to plead their shady case. #gio

I need only follow the watery drip trail of Lazaro's melting ice pack to know just how he feels on the subject, "Good riddance." #gio


"Surely, these people wouldn't be willing to test me again with the satellite weapon?" I question the tactic. #gio

Nelissa yanks me into a tumbling dodge which flattens us out across the 48-yard line - explaining, "They needn't have to." #gio

Lasers of every color under the rainbow converge upon our previous position like a bag of candy was somehow weaponized! #gio


It sure may look colorful, but the energy beams provide a swirling effect that rips up the turf - tracing after us like a drill. #gio

Red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple, and black. It's still directionally driven, but the seven swirls aren't coming from orbit! #gio

I don't even want to know what this is and grab Nelissa's wrist so that we can make a quick departure. #gio


"Don't!" She shouts out before wresting her wrist away from my grasp during mid dematerialization. #gio

I'm impressed with Nelissa's strength as she dropped herself out of dematerialization. I, on the other hand, am blasted out of it! #gio

The beams zeroed in on me. I have a savage short game as the impact rips a ten-yard divot into the turf before I'm launched skyward. #gio


Thankfully, Nelissa had pushed away from me and rolled aside prior to the near instantaneous and highly coordinated assault. #gio

Her eyes follow me through the air, but fear not: The kick is good! Through the middle of the uprights, I sail. #gio

My landing is going to leave little to be desired, but she's clearly got other concerns - being so far out in the open. #gio


The primary colors take their aim at a hustling Nelissa who is rushing down the short side of the field toward the bleachers. #gio

This leaves the orange, green, purple, and black beams as they pelt me with pestering shots that follow my gruesome impact. #gio

It's a good thing that the track is already red and that Ethereals don't subscribe to a need for blood or the loss of it. #gio


I'm wondering about that. The school colors are blue and orange. Why would their track be red? #gio

I can't yet say whether this is a good landing or not because the crash part of it still continues. #gio

Walk away from this? I'd rather run, but right now, I'm skidding through the outer fence and out into the middle of Dundee Road! #gio


Meanwhile, Nelissa is running some sort of random serpentine pattern in order to keep the hounding beams at bay. #gio

It certainly gives me an idea about our adversaries because tapping into satellite imagery is nothing short of worthless. #gio

The frustrating thing is that I'm not blind or being blinded. My HUD, my millions of senses, and my numerous powers are all fine! #gio


And my answer to this latest predicament is scaling the metal bleachers with laser beams on her #gio

At least she's insulated from the possible conduction of electricity, but I'd say that it was more desperate than bright. #gio

What other choice does Nelissa have? Stop all escape momentum and climb up a locked gate or charge up the bleachers and jump over it? #gio


Anyway, that's one more choice than what I have, so she just became the most protected person on the face of Earth because of it. #gio

From out of the back of my neck, I extend all of my tendrils for a secondary function which blunts my own missile-esque momentum. #gio

They each dig into the ground with about as much give as the pole of a vaulter and right my trajectory to a surreal two-foot stop. #gio


Two of the tendrils then pluck themselves from the soil of the median in order swat away the incoming orange and green beams. #gio

As a tertiary function, my other two tendrils trace the trajectory of the purple and black beams and fire in that reverse direction. #gio

Once again, my blue energy signature lights up the night sky for the foreseeable dark horizon, and yet my enemies still remain hidden. #gio


Hidden from view and tracking purposes but not hidden from thought - just perception, I take my wasted senses and focus on Nelissa. #gio

Assuming that I'll be there in time to catch her on the flip side, she hurdles the safety railing at the tip-top of the bleachers. #gio

And the General is right. My energy capsule keeps the colorful beams out, allowing me to rematerialize and ensure her a soft landing. #gio

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