Interview With The Ring Leader-Jack Cortex. Experiment X.

Jack is waiting patiently at a small table in the soon to be crowded pub. His body looks as though it has been carved from stone, but his build is smaller than Ryan’s. He wears dark colored jeans and a gray shirt that makes his brilliantly blue eyes pop like stars. There’s a plate of breadsticks in the center of the table and two glasses of water. The groups of people that generally fill the spaces of the pub have yet to arrive and transform this place into something much different. He lifts his head up and smiles before kicking a chair out and motioning for me to sit down. He passes a glass of water towards me and waits for the questions to start coming.

Let’s begin. What made you want to find Karen?
            “When my father mentioned that there was another Experiment like Shawn. Much more powerful than the rest of us, but with all of the potential in them still locked.” Jack takes a look me and smiles at my skepticism. “At first I didn’t really believe him either. That is until one of the Guards shot him while I was still sitting there. They wouldn’t have killed him if he were lying. I had to get to her before Thaddeus did so I escaped immediately afterwards to find her.”

You had to lie to get Mark and Shawn to follow you out, right? Why did you want them with you when there are plenty of other Subjects that would have gone with you?
            “Yes, I lied to them. They were out of their cells and in a nearby arena first off. Secondly, they’re the best warriors I know. Neither of them back down from a fight, but know when it’s appropriate to refuse to fight. I’ve watched Mark get beat because he wouldn’t lay a hand on another Subject because they were near dead when they were told to fight Mark. I’ve seen Shawn attack a Lab Coat because they were using cattle prods to teach someone a lesson. Mark and Shawn have never been mindless weapons. They are admirable men and work flawlessly together and with others. I needed them on my team.”

Speaking of mindless weapons, does the chemical that makes Shawn crazy scare you at all?
          “Scare is an understatement. That shit terrifies me! He was already stronger than us without it. I hope it fades.” 

What are some other powers you wouldn’t mind having?
           “The power to cook, because I’m lucky if I don’t burn toast.” He laughs at his own inability to perform what most consider a simple, mundane task. “Also, the incredible ability to not feel awkward in normal, social situations.”

You always seem so at ease though.
            “Yeah, I’m not exactly anxious or scared while in social situations. It’s just hard to remind yourself that the people around you aren’t always trying to kill you.” He takes a sip of water and a bite of one of the breadsticks. He stares at it for a moment with wide eyes filled with wonder before eating it as if it would be the last thing he would ever taste.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be ‘normal’?
            “Not really. I like who I’ve become. I wouldn’t have been shaped into the man I am if I wasn’t beaten, trained, and molded. Perhaps that sounds extreme,” he looks at me as if I’d have the answer written on my face somewhere, “but it’s really all I know. Normal looks boring to me. It looks like people who are ‘normal’ seem bored with it too.”

When did you first discover your abilities?
            “I was three, I think. I don’t remember the age honestly. I was really young. I’ve been told that I would manipulate the water in my bath when I was baby though. The first instance I do remember is I sank down into the bathtub when my dad wasn’t looking. When he turned around and peeked at me, I stayed there and we just stared at each other. I remember feeling at peace and not having any need to come up for air. Lab Coats came to collect me soon after.”

How often were you placed into comatose states? How was it any different than Matt and Ryan?
            “I was under pretty often, but not nearly as often as Ryan. Matt took a deal from the Lab Coats to be under as little as possible. I just learned to comply with most of their orders so I could be awake and train enough to not have to question reality. Ryan kept blowing things up and killing anyone near him. They tried to kill him after he killed a Lab Coat once, but I switched out the IV before it could affect him. They didn’t do it since then because they figured his healing rate was too high or something. I don’t know. He doesn’t know that.” 

What would have happened if you were caught?
          “I would have been killed.”

Ever had an opportunity to work alongside Lab Coats?
            “Yes, plenty. I refused each time. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was, and still am, okay with being a ‘Guard’ and a Captain, but I wouldn’t work alongside the Lab Coats.”

Matt did, didn’t he?
            “Yes he did and I’m sure he had his reasons, but I am not Matt.”

What has been the scariest experiment conducted on you?
            “Seeing if I could manipulate the temperature of water. I think I was thirteen? Maybe younger. I was told I would be put into a containment tube filled with water that would slowly be brought to boiling. I remember other Water Elements from A dying from this experiment because they couldn’t bear the heat. They were boiled alive and discarded like trash.” He shudders a bit at the memory. “I tore my heels up because I was trying to stop them from bringing me into the room with the tube. I was given a lot of sedatives and woke up in the tube with wires in me. I was so pissed off, the water started boiling and bubbling over the top. They didn’t heat up the water at all, I did. It turned out to be pretty awesome, but it was the first time that I really thought I was going to die.”

What will you do when all of this is over?
            “I’ve never seen the ocean. I think I want to do that. Dive into the waves and feel the epitome of peace.”

We end the conversation there. Jack calls over one of the waitresses to order dinner. I offer to pay, but he tells me that he’s more than happy to cover the bill. We order hamburgers and fries and talk about the corners of the world. Jack no longer wants to talk about the Lab and it’s plans and refuses to answer any more questions relating to it.

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