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More than Magic
Amanda and Jeff
|Jeff was worried that they were getting more than they bargained for with Evan Gordon, but Amanda insisted that Evan was just what they needed. "You saw what he was like back there" Amanda insisted. "He'll be easy to control. He may have been able to block his powers and thoughts, but I could catch his emotions. You know I'm a better empath than you are," she said coldly. "That boy is drowning in guilt and fear and insecurity."
"That boy is the same age we are, Mandy", Jeff returned. "And he's a natural psychic, not artificially induced like we are. You can't make the past go away by controlling others. Those heavy shields worry me. There were other psychics that weren't nearly as strong as this Evan, that would have been safer to deal with. I think you want this one because he looks something like …"
"Shut up, Jeff" Amanda hissed verbally, and screamed mentally, though she heard Jeff's thought finish the sentence ... Jake Marlow ... her foster father for 4 years. Against her will, she was remembering her childhood again and the nightmare it had been.
Jeff and Amanda's mother died in childbirth … having twins was too much for the petite lab technician. Their father blamed them for her death, and resented that he had to abandon his doctoral studies in chemistry to get a real job and raise them. Most of the time he ignored them. Those were the better times. But as the two of them grew up, they looked more and more like their mother. It's hard to say, by then, what he blamed them most for … their mother's death or his interrupted studies and the 'brilliant career' he always said he gave up for them. When they were 10, he began to beat them regularly, but carefully, so the injuries weren't obvious. He also alienated the few friends the twins had and drove them away. The children were quite intelligent and since they had no one at home who cared for them, spent all their time studying. They had already skipped one grade. Mistakenly, they thought that if they did well in school, their father just might be pleased. Unfortunately, their successes in school only reminded him of what he felt he had lost. When they were 12, and won a city-wide science fair in the field of chemistry, he went ballistic and beat them both to unconsciousness. Their science teacher was the one who caught their father beating them and took them to the hospital.
Their father went to jail, and they were split up to different foster homes in different cities, even though they begged to stay together and their teacher argued on their behalf. Some so-called psychologist insisted that they couldn't start a new life when their twin was there to remind them of their horrible past. So for the next four years, since they didn't even have each other, they focused totally on school. Jeff dealt with bullying at school because he was studious, as well as short and skinny. Though he wasn't abused by his foster family, he wasn't much more than an income supplement as far as they were concerned. Amanda wasn't so 'lucky'. Her foster parents were the Marlows, Jake and Dixie. On the surface, they were exemplary citizens, generous to charity and supposedly very supportive. Jake was tall and slender, with black hair and dark eyes, and Dixie was an attractive, curvy bottle-blonde. Behind closed doors, however, they were involved in drugs and prostitution. At first, they would just get rid of Amanda by chasing her to the school or library to 'keep up your grades', as if she had any trouble with grades with her IQ and determination. During the spring before high school graduation, her foster father, Jake, decided that she needed to 'do her share' around the house more … meaning, she was looking good enough to turn tricks for their 'friends'. During a drug party, she was 'initiated' by being gang-raped by four totally stoned guys, ranging in age from 15 to 50 … one of whom was Jake, with Dixie enjoying the show. This time, her rescue came from an undercover cop that was late arriving at the party. She was too late to prevent Amanda's physical and emotional trauma, but witnessed enough to convict the Marlows. The cop also arranged to be Amanda's guardian until she turned 18, helping her finish high school, and keeping in touch as much as Amanda would allow during the first two years of college.
Both Jeff and Amanda finished high school at 16, got perfect SAT scores, and were the two recipients of a coveted full-ride science scholarship at a distinguished university. They found each other during welcome week at the school and became inseparable. Through undergraduate and graduate school, they both excelled, but had difficulty relating to other students … they, especially Amanda, didn't know how to trust, and being younger than most of their peers didn't help either. Amanda ended up with a doctorate in genetic engineering; Jeff, in biochemistry. Amanda became obsessed with the idea of psychic powers. If there had been people with psychic ability around, they would have known what the twins' father was really like … they would have known what the Marlows were really like. If she had been gifted with psychic ability, she could have protected herself, convinced others to help her, gotten revenge on those who hurt her.
A few months before meeting Evan Gordon in San Francisco, Jeff and Amanda were finalizing the first phase of their experiments. They were combining genetic manipulation, and the chemistry of hallucinogens to induce psychic ability. Studying Native American shamanic lore, African tribal ritual, and voodoo witchcraft, as well as modern recreational drugs, they identified components that could actually trigger psychic abilities, like telepathy, telekinesis, empathy, and other obscure senses and talents that defied definition. It was no surprise that Amanda tested the formula on herself. The formula was successful in that she developed the ability to mindspeak Jeff (as did he, after he took the formula), some empathic ability, and enough kinetic ability to move up to 100 pounds as long as she could see the object. Jeff was less of an empath, but could move up to 150 pounds and could initiate mindspeech with Amanda from further away than Amanda could. They also could sense psychic ability in others, but that sense seemed to come and go … a person they were sure had some gifts would appear 'head-blind' at a later date. And the frustrating part for Amanda was that the effects were not permanent. They had to take regular doses of the formula weekly to sustain their ability. Once Jeff suggested that natural psychics may have something in their body chemistry to sustain their abilities, Amanda had to find a psychic that they could experiment with, try the formula on, analyze, use.
At this point, Jeff began to worry a bit about the degree of Amanda's obsession and lack of concern for others on her way to her goals, but he decided he needed to stay around to try to keep her from getting out of control. So they wandered around the California nightlife for a few weeks. There were some in LA that might have agreed to participate, but Amanda vetoed them as subjects. Then they tried San Francisco, thinking that the 60s drug scene may have triggered some mutations in the area that would prove useful. Instead, they found New Yorker Evan Gordon and his very strong psychic shields and very low emotional state. "We'll start slow," Amanda thought to herself. "There are two of us and one of him, even if he bothers objecting to anything I want to do. He's so thin, he can't weigh more than 150 or so … Jeff could immobilize him alone, and with both of us, we have nothing to worry about. He can't have much ability buried under those shields or he would have broken them down. But he has natural psychic ability of some kind, so he'll be a perfect specimen"
So Amanda planned on how to use this insignificant person to empower herself so that no one could ever control her, abuse her again. "And he looks so much like Jake Marlow …".
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