"I am sorry guys," Simon said walking to my side.
Camilla immediately positioned herself between Simon and me. As much as she knew it was not Simon's fault, it was difficult to watch your lover relive every painful moment since the Apocalypse began.
Yes, that was Simon's ability. He was once coined as 'The Golden Boy of The New Era'. Simon had the first ability of his kind – the ability to transfer abilities between different users.
Rumors are that Simon's ability started out as making anyone he touched relive traumatic memories, but a specific scientist found the underlying essence of his ability.
Simon had the ability to quantify the experience. He could literally take someone's experience and give it to someone else. Over time, Simon trained his ability to his current expertise. He is able to transfer the ability of someone powerful to multiple non-powered people at once.
"It's okay! We need the pain to remind us," I comforted him reluctantly.
Stephen and everyone else was quick to agree. It was the truth after all. Without a reminder of the pain we experienced, there would be nothing stopping us from suffering a mental break.
All we needed was a weapon, someone to point saying 'It's their fault', and we would jump like rabid dogs.
Simon slowly stepped back at the behest of the girls next to him. A completely different set of people gathered around Simon and placed their hands on his body. Then the screams of pain repeated themselves.
It wasn't long before these people also recovered with a boost to their already existing abilities. This was not the first time Simon had done this procedure, but it would be the last.
Simon did this every few days to strengthen the abilities of those weaker amongst the encampment. He wanted everyone to be as capable as possible before The Final Battle. I was weakened more than the others due to bearing Camilla's load.
Simon took the essence of experience, and the experience was based on times when our abilities made breakthroughs. Those moments would often coincide with traumatic experiences during the Apocalypse.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
My abilities would remain slightly weakened for a couple of hours, but it was not a big price to pay. Compared to Simon I first met, this version was much more preferable.
Simon of a couple of years ago would wipe anyone he touched into an empty shell while absorbing their abilities. He did not like talking about his past much, but anyone could guess the horrible things he did from the constantly sad look in his eyes.
I wanted to kill Simon more than anyone. The sad look in his eyes would often intensify when he directed his gaze in my direction. Call me paranoid, but in The New Era when your skin tingles, you follow the tingling.
I was pretty sure that Simon killed someone I was once close to, and he knew it. Like I said before, sometimes you wanted to kill someone but was not able to. Simon was one of those people for me.
Still, Simon's existence created a paradigm shift in our understanding of emerging abilities.
At first, Scientists thought that abilities were based on the genome sequences in humans, but that theory was disproven with Simon's emergence. Abilities were like extra muscle humans had never flexed before.
You have to train it, grow it, and nurture it to get any real results. It consisted of both mental concentration and physical exertion. Imagine doing push-ups for an entire day, how exhausted would you feel?
Maybe someone else can do push-ups for two days straight, or maybe three days straight? But the truly brilliant people would do push-ups using their entire body for leverage. Maybe some could do push-ups within an area of lighter gravity.
Using abilities effectively was about physical exertion as much as intelligence. It was not bound to scientific principles, but metaphysical processes - basically, if you logically believe you can do it… then you can do it.
I slowly stood from my kneeling position, Camilla at my side helping me as a careful wife.
'Ironic' I thought 'She still refuses to marry me.'
However, my joking mood would not last long, the next moment I swiftly directed my gaze to the horizon with an intense stare. Lightning flickered across my eyes as my vision was enhanced beyond human capabilities.
Someone with sensory abilities walked to the front of the encampment and placed his hands onto the ground, then he spat out a number for us.
Stephen's eyes grew wide "Draconic Insectoids, Centi-Insectoids, Tree-Mongers, Mutated Tree Mongers, Tree Eaters, Mutated Tree Eaters, Mist Dwellers, Engulfers. What kind is it?"
The sensor's face grew pale as he stuttered an answer "As far as I can tell: All of them,"
I urged the lightning to gather in the atmosphere above our encampment. Soon, others with similar electrical abilities began to direct their energies into the clouds gathering above our heads.
The cloudy red skies parted, a crackling sky of lightning was concentrating above our location.
"This is the only time we ever see a blue sky," Stephen joked causing everyone tense to see the silver lining.
Stephen's well-timed joke allowed everyone to rid themselves of the fear that engulfed them. Weren't they here to die anyway? What is the use of being afraid right now?
I took off my leg braces and shin protectors, tossing them into the air. They turned into lightning and struck the bodies of two unsuspecting individuals. A last good deed before I greet the afterlife.
Everyone's bodies started radiating different colored lights. Some orange, some yellow, some blue, some transparent. Their respective abilities were accumulating for an explosive start. The air around Camilla twisted.
Warps appearing all over the battlefield. Still, Camilla could only cover around five kilometers with her ability, while the battlefield was at least fifteen kilometers wide. It also stretched to the horizon.
Everyone watched the horizon with determined gazes, but I knew they would lose that fire when they saw the massive hordes coming our way. I saw many different Abominations (the term for anything that kills humans): large, small, underground, flying, leaping…
The math wasn't looking good from my estimate. You have millions of Abominations – assorted that is, then you have roughly 20 kilometers of battlefield space. Then you have five thousand warriors. The math just doesn't add up.
"Kelly, the math doesn't add up," I yelled.
"Hold on!" Kelly yelled back.
Suddenly, I felt my energy drain slightly, then I turned my head and inspected the encampment once more. Five thousand had become ten thousand, then ten thousand became twenty thousand and stopped.
That was Kelly's ability, she could create a perfect copy of someone using their energy. The copy was substantially weaker than the original, but numbers had a psychological comfort for everyone.
I direct my gaze back to the oncoming horde, it was now clearer and closer. Everyone's bodies were tense and ready to jump into action. We were not in our best states physically and mentally, but this was the Apocalypse.
When you got caught taking a shit in the bushes… you continue taking the shit regardless. I am not speaking from personal experience of course.
Simon slowly walked to the front of the group. He took steadied steps, and everyone felt the weight of each step, everyone's eyes looking to him as if pleading 'Give me a good reason to die!'.
And Simon answered their call with a single statement that nobody understood "Et super mos absit hoc hodie!"
I, too, yelled a battle cry at the top of my lungs. I had no idea what Simon had just spouted but from Camilla's giggling, I could guess that Simon thought that spouting nonsense was his way of getting out of the earlier predicament.
"I forbid death upon this day," Camilla said.
"What?" I answered a bit at a loss.
"Ancient Latin," she replied smugly, "He said 'I forbid death upon this day'."
I laughed aloud "Then he is gonna be really disappointed in everyone here,"
Camilla did not reply and instead took a deep breath. I did the same, zoning out everything in my surroundings. The environment became a world of electrical pulses traveling across several networks.
I perceived the world through my lightning and sped my heartbeat to inhuman levels. I was present now, at this moment, at this point in time. I could feel the electrifying air saturating my lungs, the electrified ground vibrating at the rhythm of the approaching enemy.
Then I took a step forward, everyone followed in tandem. Camilla the first, and then the others. Then I took a second step, and this time everyone followed simultaneously.
Then light jogging…
Then suddenly, everyone disappeared into motes of light particles that re-constructed itself hundreds of feet above the horde, dozens of miles away from our initial position. We were literally 'diving' into battle.