If you'd like to just go straight to the story, skip down to the story's title a few paragraphs down. This first part is just my rambling.

The Altered Universe is a series of small stories I have written over time with the intention of them becoming full novels I might publish someday. Alas, that so far has not come to be a reality and the Altered Universe has taken the back-burner to my current story Avita. However, after four days of writing nothing but an essay for college, I had a hankering to write some fiction but did not feel like working on Avita or the Eon Team. So I went back to the Altered Universe with a whole new approach to the background and characters, as well as a whole new main character to tell the story from the perspective of.

BTW, the name of this thread is in three parts for this reason: the first part is the name of the series. The second part identifies which part of the series, and the third is the actual name of the story, Stealth.

This story is a much different style than the happy and not-so-serious mood of the Eon Team. The Altered Universe is set in a dark and not-so-far future, and the characters are facing more than worries about how to escape a gang unscathed. But, I'll let the story explain the circumstances better. Here is Stealth.

The Altered Universe: The Guardian’s Saga
J. G. Parrott

December 25, 2044

Journal of Avery Hawk, codename Stealth

Day 4

Christmas has never been a major holiday in the Progressive Union. The government frowns on its ceremony, claiming it is a tradition pioneered by religious nuts and eventually capitalist greed. But here, in the new atmosphere of the Guardians sanctuary, there is a different air on Christmas day. I’ve only been in this sanctuary for four days now, but the last three days have been nothing like this.

I suppose this journal might end up in the hands of someone else someday. If this sanctuary is ever discovered, it might be a Progressive Union official reading this entry. If not, it could be someone else entirely whom I have no idea of that has happened up my journal. Either way, I suppose it would suffice to explain what is happening here.

I am Avery Hawk. I’m seventeen years old, and in the last week I have become an escaped convict according to my government. You see, the Progressive Union is at war with its neighbor, the LNA. The war began thirty years ago, and it has not ceased even slightly. But the LNA used to have a powerful advantage over the Union, because their economy was more stable, more powerful, and the soldiers fought with a ferocity and fervor unimaginable. They still do today, but now the Union has a secret weapon, or rather, several secret weapons. I am one of them.

The Union began a project only a few years into the war, known as the Altered project. The LNA knows entirely about this program, but they would not dare to touch it with a five thousand mile long pole. The project is simple: make humans into weapons. I am an Altered, a person whose genetics were changed before I was even born to give me incredible abilities. As I said before, I’m not the only one. Hundreds of people are Altered, and some of them possess powers that could have ended this war years ago. I still don’t know why they haven’t. I guess the Guardians are a good example why; many people don’t want to be mindless tools for the Union.

The Altered program has given the Progressive Union a new edge in the war. They aren’t losing anymore. But they aren’t winning either. The program has brought the war into an endless stalemate, which means the LNA still has the upper hand. They can survive a stalemate longer than the Union can.

But, anyways, that’s what got me into the situation I am in. Two weeks ago, I was a normal seventeen year old kid. I had half a year left of school, and then I would be under the overpowering thumb of the Union, a servant to be employed wherever they saw fit. Considering that bleak future, I’m almost glad they changed me. You see, an Altered does not know he or she is an Altered until their changes appear. The Union uses their genetic manipulation to cause the alterations to hide until sometime in our teen years, sometimes a bit earlier. They don’t know precisely when our alterations are going to surface, so they keep a trained eye on us until the day we discover our changes. And when I say changes, I’m not talking about superior strength, speed, or intelligence. No, the changes an Altered undergo are far more than that, sometimes to monstrous proportions.

Take me for instance. I discovered I was an Altered when a schoolyard bully chucked a rock the size of my head at my chest six days ago. But the rock never hit me, because an instant after the kid threw the rock, I was a hundred feet away. I never moved, and yet at the same time I did. My alterations made me a teleporter, and that was only the beginning. Of course, the Union was all over me within fifteen minutes, and I tried to escape. And I did, because not only could I teleport, but I could practically disappear. I wasn’t truly invisible, but my body—and strangely my clothes—changed colors to blend into the background. I also discovered I had incredible reflexes, speed to react with, and a new, much greater sense of balance. The Union sent ten soldiers after me, and I evaded them all.

The Guardians picked me up four days ago. I guess I should tell you about them. The Guardians are made of mostly escaped Altered as well. However, it wasn’t started by an Altered. The grand mastermind behind the whole group is a man everyone knows as the Black Guard. We don’t know if he’s black or not. We don’t know what he looks like either, because he never removes his armor, a suit of pitch black, and as far as I can tell impenetrable, armor. He kind of looks like a black knight from the old medieval times, but his armor is a lot smoother, lighter, quieter, and cooler. He also wears a mask, did I mention that? It completely covers his face. There aren’t even eye holes, just two black lenses where his eyes should be. Nobody knows who the guy is, and for good reason. He still has a life outside of the Guardians, and he does something big too, because he has enough money and resources to take care of everyone the Guardians take in.

You see, the Guardians are a group that provides safety to anyone trying to escape the Union. That includes both escaped Altered and regular people. Some people are trying to reach the safety of the LNA, while others are merely looking for a place to hide. The Guardians itself is really a small group. Besides Black Guard, there are seven other people part of its ranks, and all of them are Altered.

There’s Coyote, the youngest of the group. He’s fifteen, but he joined when he was twelve. He’s got the greatest strength of the whole group, as well as incredible speed, reflexes, and senses. He got his codename as Coyote because his brother, Cougar (who is not a part of the Guardians, and I’ll explain why later) referred to him as being dog-like when their alterations first surfaced. Coyote has a sister here in the sanctuary of the Guardians. She is not a part of the Guardians either, and again I’ll explain why later.

Next up is Wrath, probably the most powerful of all of the Guardians. She controls electricity in whatever form it comes in. Not only can she create lightning, but she can control electronics and fly by creating an electromagnetic field in her body and around her. The exact mechanics are not clear to me, so I won’t babble on about them. She also can control people by manipulating the electrical impulses in their nerves and brains. She refrains from this as much as she can though, as she sees it as an abuse of her power.

Then there is Wormhole. She has a fascinating power; the ability to generate interspatial portals. She can create these portals on any surface, though she prefers smooth, and then she can just pass through one and come out of the other instantly.

Decibel is the loner of the Guardians. As obvious by his name, he controls sound and vibrations. He also has a rocket pack he stole from the Union training labs where he was kept and later escaped from. Talking is not his specialty, and he stays away from people as much as he can.

If Wrath is not the most powerful of the Guardians, then it’s Wisp. He controls darkness, and I don’t just mean the absence of light. His powers come straight from Hell. Apparently, the Union had intended to just make him generate antimatter beams, which would have been incredibly powerful by themselves. Instead, they somehow opened him up to a power reserved for the devil’s servants. Not only can he fire antimatter beams, but he can generate and manipulate black fire, create tendrils of darkness that move to his will, greatly increase his strength and speed at will, disappear wherever there is no direct light, and open portals directly into Hell itself. He is a quiet person, but he is more friendly than Decibel. However, he fears his power because of where it comes from. He constantly fears that his powers link him to the devil, and that therefore he might be someday made to betray the Guardians. However, Black Guard has somehow convinced him to stay with the group.

After him is Luminous, Wisp’s stark opposite. Luminous doesn’t get his powers from Heaven, but he does control light, and light seems to be the one thing Wisp has trouble fighting. Luminous can also become completely invisible wherever he wants. He is also a mute, because when he was trying to escape the Union he was attacked by another Altered that was loyal to the Union. Luminous won the fight, but was so badly injured that he almost didn’t survive. He did, however, lose his ability to speak, so he communicates either through sign-language, writing, or Wrath. As she can read people’s minds with her powers.

Finally there is Graviton. As his name suggests, he control gravity and graviton particles. He can intensify or negate gravity at will, or he can fire beams of gravitons which just push away whatever he is firing at. Since he can negate gravity he is capable of allowing himself and others to fly.

I guess I can explain a little about the backgrounds of each of the Guardians. I said I would tell you about Coyote’s siblings, after all. Coyote has a sister and a brother. His real name is Jamie, his sister’s is Sarah, and his brother is John, also known as Cougar. All three of them are Altered. Sarah got it the worst out of all of them. Rather than special powers, she got a monstrous transformation. In a sense, she has become a gargoyle. She still looks human. Her face and most of her body never changed, but she grew wings, claws, and a tail. And actually, she did get some powers, but nothing to attack with if she wanted to. She can pretty much change into stone when she wants, and something about her hands and feet, besides the claws, allows her to climb walls and roofs. John is more like Coyote. He is extremely strong, extremely fast, and has powerful senses. However, he also has retractable claws. Big ones too. He is also certifiably insane. For some reason, he got the idea that, because he was an Altered, he was superior to everyone else. But he was also angry at the Union for what they had done to him. When he was discovered, he blamed Jamie and attempted to kill him and Sarah. They escaped with their lives, but Cougar has never stopped hunting them. The Guardians encounter him frequently, and every time he does a lot of damage while escaping their wrath.

Wrath does not have another name as far as I know. She abandoned it when she found out she was an Altered. She came from a family of politicians, so when she realized what she was she hoped that they, with their political influence, would keep her from the training camps and becoming a brainwashed soldier for the Union. Instead, they turned her in. She escaped and lived on her own for a year before Black Guard found her. Despite her rough betrayals from her family, she is usually pretty friendly, probably because she can tell what sort of person you are before you even get introduced to her.

Wormhole spent the most time in a training camp than any of the other Guardians. Her name is Carrie Latrop She escaped with a friend named Jerry, who is known around here as Warp because of his ability to turn back time itself. I don’t know much about her story besides that. She insists it was because she was a boring person.

Decibel, Daniel Reagan, is standoffish for a reason. He came from a family of dissidents who openly protested and spoke out against the Union. As a result, they were constantly on the move to avoid being arrested or harassed by the Union, so he never got to make any relationships beyond those he had with his parents and his sister. When he found out he was an Altered, he was captured quickly. He escaped a couple of months later and attempted to find his family again. But, instead, when he went to where they had last been, he found a mask his sister had sewn, along with a note explaining they had run to the LNA. The mask was so he could hide from the Union, but in case the note should be found by the Union before him she had not said where in the LNA they were running. Decibel went on a long search to find them, but he eventually came back to the Union to fight. Black Guard found him, however, and convinced him to join the Guardians with the promise that someday he would get his chance at revenge.

Wisp has a long story. His name is Wesley Reynolds. He says he was quiet and a coward before his alterations set in, but he had always been harassed by a mysterious man. When his alterations appeared, the man provided an escape for him through a portal. The man turned out to be the devil’s servant, and he had the same powers as Wisp. He attempted to convince Wisp to join him, but Wisp refused and ran. He escaped into the deepest dungeon of Hell, a pitch black world where all of the lost souls wander aimlessly for the rest of eternity, suffering from illusions of starvation, thirst, and pain. There, Wisp met an ex-servant of the devil, who taught him how to use his powers and then escape from Hell. Wisp travelled for a long time just trying to survive, and as he did he became angrier and angrier at the plight he had been given. In time, he came to want nothing more than to be normal and for his life to return to normal. He became so desperate, that eventually he met with the devil’s servant that had haunted him in the past and asked what could be done. The servant said the devil could help, if Wisp did something first. Wisp accepted and was sent on a mission to find Black Guard and kill him, along with the other Guardians at that time, which was Coyote, Decibel, and Luminous. He nearly succeeded, but when he realized the Guardians presented a new option, he refused the deal and joined the group.

Luminous, Carl Tranis, had a troubled life before he joined the Guardians. He says he was a spoiled, horrible person. Apparently, he had the idea that he was the greatest thing in the world. When his alterations appeared, he was captured quickly. He spent a while learning his powers and then attempted to escape. The Union sent another Altered after him. After the fight, Luminous was able to escape, but his throat and tongue had been so mangled in the fight that it destroyed his ability to speak. He collapsed on a street not long after and passed out. In the last moment before blacking out completely, he had thought he was about to die. When he woke up, however, he was in the Guardians sanctuary. When Wrath became a part of the group, he found a good friend in her, not only because she could communicate with him so easily but because she knew of the change his personality had gone through after his capture.

Finally Graviton came from a large family. His name is Kenneth Julianis, He had a twin brother and two sisters, and all of them were Altered. When their alterations appeared, they could not have been more happy, because they used to love the Progressive Union. They gladly went into the training programs to learn how to fight for their country. Graviton, however, eventually changed his views, because he began seeing what the Union was doing to convince others how great they were. He recognized the propaganda, and as he began thinking about what else the Union did, he realized how tyrannical and controlling they really were. He tried to convince his siblings, but they refused to listen. So, when he escaped, he escaped alone. Broken and depressed with being severed from his siblings, he tried to drown himself. Black Guard found him and convinced him death was not the answer and brought him into the sanctuary. After he recomposed himself a few weeks later, he became a part of the Guardians.

So that’s where I am, in a series of interconnected abandoned subway tunnels that the Guardians call home. I’m surrounded by escapees and all sorts of people running from an oppressive government, and I’m one of them. The Guardians look out for us and keep us safe. There are several other Altered here, but so far, with everyone that is here, I’ve kept mainly to myself. I’m not sure about this, being in the midst of a bunch of costumed freaks (the Guardians do wear uniforms by the way. They are supposed to be strong and able to withstand the strains of battle, so they are not a fashion statement) and scared people, hoping that they won’t wake up to find themselves in the custody of the Progressive Union. I’ve only been here for four days, but I know that’s what they fear. Because I fear it too.