Memories of the Mangled, Chapter 3,
After Imad put the bellicose Harans down, Issam approached & asked Gargorey:
“Woman, what’s that stunt you pulled moments ago?” –“Think of it as breaking a hole in space as another one forms elsewhere,” she replied, “and before you ask, she resumed, while I don’t know how it happened, moments after waking up, info about those new powers started flooding my brain, which gave me a headache.” –“Just like with me minutes ago,” Imad said, stirring his friends’ curiosity, “though “headache” is a MAJOR understatement.” Perplexed by this statement, Jazzuffa asked his friend telepathically: “What else happened when the pain seized you?” The latter answered: “My head too was pumped full with data of my new powers, but also vivid images of corpses scattered all over.” –“Hm, the genius pondered, I wonder why you saw said images.” –“Technically, Imad interrupted, it’s not quite “seeing images” as much as “sensing” my surroundings, for lacking better terms; a complex alien sense that helped me locate these two nearby,” he designated the 2 former escapees. Hearing this, Issam asked eagerly: “Wait, you can sense every object & person around? Then…” –“I’m sorry old friend; Imad cut his master off in melancholy, having guessed his question. But apart from us, I can’t feel anyone’s vitals in the vicinity.” The martial artist despondently stared down, his student guessing correctly his state of mind despite the mask. “How wide is the radius of your new sense?” Jazz asked. –“Can’t say for sure, Imad replied; as my brain’s getting new input, my field of pseudo-vision is still expanding, slowly but surely.” A spark of hope reigniting inside of him, Issam said: “Then maybe people outside your field survived too, he said; after all, the sewers are quite spacious.” The Lin brothers approached the trio, the rest following behind.
“We’ve been discussing a few things together,” Cruncha said in a ghastly voice, mist coming out of his mouth. “As you see, we’ve all somehow survived the nuke & morphed into new forms with strange powers; each of us eventually suffered a painful headache, their brain processing info about these new bodies & how they worked. Seemingly, Imad doing the Harlem shake was that too.” –“For the record, Faffa added gruffly, expelling smoke, “Lil’ bro & I both can bounce high, but while he breathes out freezing mist, I spit fireballs instead.” –“You’ve already seen what the rest of us could do, Gargorey grumbled, so enough with the formalities. Now what?” Issam asked his student: “I’im, what about now?” The latter sadly shook his head then said: “Sorry, I still can’t sense any more survivors nearby,” much to his mentor’s disappointment. Establishing a telepathic connection with everyone, Jazzuffa told them: “We’re seemingly all that’s left of Looboan; we must organize our tasks by order of importance. We must 1st scavenge whatever sustenance we can find out there. Imad,” he added to him, “can you help us by locating any food around with your new sense?” The boy nodded, then closed his eyes and focused. After a while, he said: “I could be wrong, but my sense stopped growing: I clearly “see” the entire zone where Haratropolis once stood, as well as half-a-mile wide ring around it. Irradiated corpse remains don’t qualify as suitable food, right?” He added mockingly, to the rest’s annoyance. Issam concluded: “Jolandia’s nuke has ravaged whatever food was left anywhere across Looboan, realistically. We must find a healthy zone far from this arid wasteland; otherwise, we’ll starve.” As Imad audibly gulped, the others looked suspiciously at him, with Sylvie asking: “I don’t like the sound you just made, but whatever’s on your mind, spit it out now.”
Thinking for a minute on how to phrase it, Imad explained: “I doubt there’s any nearby patch of intact land left. You see, before the nuke fell, I’ve set my Mecha to violently explode as to take out everything & everyone in a wide radius, which hopefully included the entirety of Jolandia.” As most of the others looked at him in shock, he added hastily: “But there’s still a chance to get somewhere far, really far I mean, before starving. Gargorey can open us portals leading to a good place. You can do that, right?” He asked his aunt. -“I should be able to do that, she said a bit unsure, but I’m not very good yet with setting the destination, let alone for faraway locations. Give me some time to experiment & it should be feasible.” The others thus let the woman be, leaving her to train quietly. In the meantime, Juju asked Cruncha: “Cuz, on your way to the sewers, did you happen to spot any of our common acquaintances?” –“I’m afraid I don’t know, the spheroid replied. I was too busy trying to stay close to Faffa & Auntie amidst hundreds of panicking folks to notice.” –“Same here, Faffa added. Sorry to disappoint you, Cuz.” Feeling let down, Juju then bounced towards Alamonia & asked him with optimism: “Hey Alan, while hiding underground, did you happen to spot Harans we both know?” Mildly annoyed, the bat simply said a cold “No”. In the meantime, Issam, Imad & Jazzuffa were discussing what to do next. “Assuming the blast was strong enough to spread over a radius that includes Jolandia, Jazz said, south-west Europe might be spared.” –“But don’t forget about the ones still alive there, Imad added. Before the war ended, Rhapsody told me Europe fell into utter chaos at the hands of the middle-eastern fanatics & their local converted spawns. Warping there while they still breath could be suicidal.” –“Did Rhapsody tell of you of a relatively safe zone nearby?” Issam asked his student. –“Rhapsody did say North-Africa’s troops were all wiped out by Jolandia, Imad replied; but the latter’s soldiers might currently be occupying the zone.”
Growing tired of waiting, Sylvie yelled: “Are we getting the food or not, you lazy nincompoops?!” Annoyed, Imad turned around and shouted back: “Unless you’re contributing to the preparations, shut up so we can focus on them!” –“Easy for you to ssssay, Alamonia hissed; your sssstomach isn’t growling like mine! I haven’t even had breakfasssst at home!” –“Knowing you, Cruncha intervened, you did it intentionally to stuff yourself for free at your workplace’s buffet.” Faffa chuckled & added: “You took your doggy-bag like every other day, right?” Glaring at them both, Alan retorted: “Well you fucking Barrax sssstole my trick, putting countless buffets out of businessss!” Enraged, he brothers fired simultaneously streams of fire and ice at the Chekhi, only for a wall of dirt to rise in-between & intercept the blasts. “Oh, come on! Faffa yelled frustrated. Can’t we kill him just a little!?” The wall started twisting & turning around various times, until finally rearranging itself as an amorphous, barely distinguishable “NO.” As Alan cackled mockingly, Imad tossed the dirt around some more through terrakinesis until eventually molding it into a grotesque middle finger, silencing him & making the Lin brothers snicker. Minutes passed, but the trio & Gargorey didn’t make much progress. Juju let out a loud yelp: “Auntiiie! Cuuuz! Are you ready yeeet?” Gargorey and her dirt nephew turned around & yelled ticked-off “NOOO!” Imad sighed then resumed frustrated: “Juju! We can’t just get food on a whim! We wouldn’t be devising complex plans if I could simply point my hand at the ground to magically sprout a tree that bears nutritious fruit!” As he said this, he wildly gesticulated in frustration. Needless to say, everyone’s jaw dropped when little after the youngster finished venting his anger, a bizarre alien tree bearing crimson balls suddenly came out of the ground.