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3 Chapter 3 – Absolute Cloaking

    His preparations complete, Kip closed and locked his family's apartment then activated his secret ability.  He hadn't really 'hidden' it from others per se, but when he showed it to his sister after it developed, she had told him to not reveal the power to anybody other than their parents as it could lead to all kinds of problems for him. In particular, any crime for which a perpetrator could not be witnessed could lead to his false accusation.

    She had named this ability "Absolute Cloaking" because even with her evolved senses and extrasensory perception; she could not detect him at all.  In every test that they had run, she could not see, hear, or sense him, unless he added her to his cloaked area or he physically touched her. Even then it did not break his cloaking so he could easily retreat and hide. This ability, in theory, could make him an excellent pickpocket, or assassin without anybody the wiser. Though she had known he was a good kid and would never use his power for such crimes, others may not feel the same. Or just as bad, they may even try to use him to perform those type of actions for them! While, he didn't have the range of abilities yet as his sister, this ability of his was handy. Especially since his ability took almost no effort to maintain under normal circumstances, he could even keep it active in his sleep. So, unless he was careless or something happened to stumble on him, he was almost entirely safe.

    This ability, along with his exceptional agility, made him one of the quickest and most agile people in his age group and gave him a ridiculous advantage in venturing outside of the compound. Of course, he was only twelve, so he was not allowed unsupervised outside yet. Being twelve also made him know everything and have a feeling of invincibility that most naïve youths have. Both things that probably should have kept him inside and yet nothing was going to stop him from going.  True, he was but an ant as compared to most any of the evolved beasts, which had developed for near a thousand years to humans' evolution of only fifty. At least that is what he kept telling himself as he made his way to the top of the wall and proceeded to repel down the other side.

    He had done this many times before while training with his family, yet he had never done it alone and in the dead of night.  If someone had been watching, they might have seen a strange sight.  A rope dangling over the wall, twitching weirdly, and yet seeming to disappear in the area that Kip's cloaking enveloped.  This area was gradually moving closer and closer to the ground. Finally reaching the ground, Kip tugged on the left of the two ends dangling down and the knot immediately releasing from above.  His family had told him that it was a variant of a knot that sailors used to moor boats to their docks.  If one side is pulled on it remains taught, yet if the other end is tugged on, it will come instantly unraveled. It was a super useful knot if you were climbing solo...that is unless you accidentally tug on the wrong side as you were climbing down.

    While remaining under the influence of the "Absolute Cloaking" ability, he made his way to the north towards the opening in the valley. This was the only route in or out of the valley unless he wanted to have to climb up and over the neighboring mountains.  True, they weren't super tall or imposing, and a determined individual could find a safe path over if he or she spent enough time looking. Of course, the fact that the woods contained many beasts that could not directly track Kip in his current state, he was not invulnerable.  Even though in his area of influence nobody could notice him, and his ability somehow dampened both his scent trail and the evidence of his passing, they weren't completely eliminated.  If a brilliant beast with very keen senses happened upon his path, there was a small possibility that they could track his general area.  On the well-used road that he was currently on, however, there was little chance of that. Besides, his family had gone mostly north anyway so it would not save him any time to cut across the country.  Most people trying to sneak out of the valley may have needed to, but with his ability, he could come and go as he pleased. Especially on the hard-packed dirt and gravel of the main road, he would not leave a visible trail behind.

    His ability did drain some of his energy, but he could keep it active about half the day even while traveling if he didn't exert himself doing other activities too severely. If he only slept and lounged about, he could keep it active all day.  He had secretly been training it for years under the supervision of his sister where he would walk or jog in circles around the base gradually increasing both the time and the distance he would travel.  It wasn't just an endurance exercise though; he did this while cloaked. At first, he had only been able to keep it active for about an hour at most. As he got used to it, however, his range and time that he could use the ability improved day by day.  He supposed it had also improved his physical endurance being always in motion most of the day with his ability active as well. While he had bitterly complained at first, he was now realizing the use for such training and mentally thanked his sister for forcing him to do it.

    Brushing a tear from his eye at the sudden thoughts of his Skyla and his Parents, he vowed, "I will find you if you are still alive, and I will avenge you if you are not!" He shouted into the darkness knowing that with his cloaking activated, no matter how loud he was, nobody would hear him. This vow echoed in his mind as he jogged steadily towards the North Pass Gate.  Of course, jogging wasn't quite the right word for it.  Even the weakest of humans since the evolution began could run at a distance and speed that would put the best marathon runners of the twenty-first century to shame.  Kip and his family were some of the strongest "evolved" that resided in Fort Valley. So, when he jogged, he was running at close to forty-five miles per hour or more than seventy-two kph.  This while sounding incredibly fast was only approximately half his top speed.

    "I need to get much faster. My sister is almost twice as fast as me!" Kip thought out loud.  Usain Bolt would likely be rolling over in his grave if he knew Kip's current thoughts.  Of course, Kip's hundred-meter dash was probably between two and three seconds which would also have hurt poor Mr. Bolt's pride entirely too much as well.

    Time passed by relatively quickly, and before Kip knew it, he was only a few minutes from his destination, the North Pass Gate. Unfortunately, despite Kip's altered time perception, it was still more than enough time for his twelve-year-old mind to begin to daydream.  Which in turn almost cost him his life as he nearly plowed right into a large form that blocked the entire path ahead.  A thousand years ago it would probably have been a typical black bear weighing in at close to 250lb or 115k kg and stood maybe 100 cm or 41 inches at the shoulder.  This bear, however, was probably closer to 5,000 pounds and even as it casually slept on the path, it was over three meters in height. When standing up? Forget about it. He had once seen a curious bear stand up to stretch its paws against the outer wall of their compound and its claws had come nearly a quarter the way up their 100-meter tall walls!  Fortunately, like their ancestors, they were mostly just curious and not openly hostile to humans. Because of their humongous size, however, those not staying behind the walls still had to take precaution about leaving food or other intriguing smells out, for fear of bringing an accidental calamity down upon themselves.

    He had come to a stop only a few feet away, so he gradually backed away projecting thoughts of sleepiness to the large ursine shape. Strangely, he thought he heard something in return:

    Tired, Full, Content, and a series of images including a sizeable deer-like animal, the bear standing over it, and the satisfaction of its successful hunt, burst through Kip's mind.

    Upon hearing the thoughts and images directly in his mind, he was briefly alarmed. Had he just listened to the massive bear's thoughts?

    Alarm, Danger?

    The giant bear suddenly shifted and in a blur was standing on all fours looking in all directions for a threat with a low growl in its throat that seemed to make the very ground itself shake.

    "OH  SHIT," he thought realizing he had accidentally projected those thoughts to the Bear as well! Of course, his further alert and surprised reactions were probably not doing him any favors, even if the bear seemed thoroughly confused.

    Danger, Excrement, Confusion. Were thoughts sent back to Kip's brain.

    He needed to calm down and take control of the situation.  He had never heard of an ability to communicate with animals, yet somehow, he had it.

    He tried to 'think' to the Bear trying to emulate how the thoughts seemed to flow to him from the Bear. Not necessarily in words, but in images, and felt that his brain interpreted them into thoughts and words.  No Danger. Surprise. Calm. Of course, he had no idea if it was even working as his state of mind wasn't all that calm.

    What came back from the Bear as it seemed to calm down was as follows:

    Acknowledgment, Confusion, Where?  The Bear looked around as it seemed to be trying to detect where and whom it was conversing with

    Kip briefly wondered if other animals could communicate with each other this way. As the Bear didn't seem very confused at the actual act of communication but instead was more confused about whom or what was conversing with it. Kip was thoroughly fascinated because although it spoke in images and feelings; it was very intelligent.  Much more intelligent than historical or current records indicated.  It also didn't seem hostile in the least, more curious than anything.  He needed to get going as he was only about a mile from the north gate but couldn't help himself as he backed away about another hundred meters.

    He projected his most calming and peaceful thoughts that he could at the large ursine, and after checking his surroundings for other potential predators, he turned off his cloaking.
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