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The Daily Bugle

Senator Hines has revealed how mutants will be handled: Sentinels.

A rumor traveled the circles of the supernatural. Mutants heard a safe, underground railroad was being started, inquire at the Summit. The beyond sought the strange power said to rest at the Summit of New York City. The gossip flitted amongst the rest: valuable information was to come to light when dawn broke over the Summit.
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 Striving for Perfection part 3 -training-

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PostSubject: Striving for Perfection part 3 -training-   Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:26 pm

It had been three months since the forced seclusion (from his side) of Alicia by her mother.

During that time Nameless had watched her nightmares worsen, seen her loneliness and pain form her worries, and just about memorized every clothing change she had, though he doubted she realized any of this. He hadn't been watching her every moment, of course, but he had snatches of glimpses here and there. Many more of his peerings into her bedroom had been just her hair poking out from under the covers or an empty room while she was off in the house somewhere else. He was intensely worried about her, what would happen to her in the long run, and many times had wished he could step over and hold her hand during a nightmare or run his hand over her head like his daddy did for him when he was having trouble sleeping. It spoke of care and love and protection and Nameless always felt extremely relaxed when Daddy did that. Surely it would help her too?

He'd never been brave enough to try.

He still wrote in his journals for Claude, Claude who somehow knew about the Alicia mess and had mentioned her a few times to Nameless's great surprise. That had been almost taunting in the last session where Claude had been making him use a picture as a shield, one which Nameless had drawn of her. Evil man, but somehow he had managed to stop all the stones except one which had gotten a corner of the painting. Of course, in China the cows in that particular field were very confused about why the barn was throwing rocks at them and had moved off, confusing the farmer as well, but they didn't know anything about that. He'd come far in turning it on and off for Claude, he just couldn't control the target locations yet, but he had learned how to keep it one way or turn it around, cut off some senses and focus on others. Claude was a real asshole, but he was effective at teaching even Nameless had to admit that.

His grades were good, especially in art where he had been entered in a city-wide drawing competition. He hadn't won, of course, but he'd come in second beating out many kids four grades ahead of him. Jesse was getting an award for his science fair project that afternoon and they were going for the ceremony, but Kez of course wasn't really interested. He supported both his brothers in spirit, he just needed to use more energy up then most people. Their daddy would find a way to keep him occupied and distracted. And speaking of Daddy, he'd gotten Rebbecca to agree to marry him! The whole dynamic of the family was changing, becoming more loving then before as Rebbecca had a serious mind, but a caring heart. The first time Nameless had crawled into his father's bed during a storm and found himself cuddled in Rebbecca's arms the next morning had been confusing, but pleasant.

She was better at being a mom then she thought.

But still despite all that was happening, both good and bad, it was Alicia who dominated his thoughts when he had free time, playing at recess or at home sketching. He had five pictures of her so far on his wall, another five in a art book, and he still wished he could comfort her. Her pain and fears bothered him, he wanted to make them go away as if he was some guardian angel who could just do that, make her sleep soundly. A few times lying in bed he had tuned in to find her at the window, looking out at the moon her back to the room. It was a really lonely picture when he drew it and he had left it in the book as it wasn't the way he wanted to think of her, but it was so her. Her hair had fallen sweetly down her shoulders, the spaghetti straps (which he had asked Rebbecca about and she had given him an odd look) hidden in her flowing locks.

Nameless sighed again, looking at the picture. He hated feeling powerless even with power. Where was the point in that? He could do some really amazing things (not under control yet, of course, but still) and they had fresh food from several countries every week because of his accidental openings and a quick-thinking daddy, but he couldn't give his best friend a hug. Frustrated, he turned and punched his pillow, feeling sad and wronged somehow. How was this fair or right? What had she done to deserve any of this? Nothing. Oh, she thought she had, but Nameless knew better to think that kind of stuff. Things happened, but not so much because of you as other people's actions, trickling down to effect your life. He longed for future-daddy's big strong arms around him, making him feel all was right with the world, bringing him comfort when there was none to feel.

A tear trickled down his cheek as he remember both his father as he had been and his friend the way she was now.


In his bedroom were two sleeping mats now, something that felt odd to him. For so much of his life he had been an older man, single and a bachelor that having SHIELD felt like an odd note in the middle of a stanza, jarringly it caught one's attention. And yet her presence, despite the attending issues of modesty and manners and small difficulties of gender - - well she felt comforting. As if her presence changed the way he looked at each day. Ever single in his life, he had no way of knowing, but he wondered if marriage was a touch of something similar; something to contemplate after this time passed. It was, after all, for a short time and soon the modified restaurant would be finished and ready to go. Even tomorrow he was to go see the final progress, and the arrival of the 'special' trademen who would come to change what the first crew had done.

The first crew was long gone actually, having finished the remodeling of the structures and the inner walls with stairs, ladders, plumbing, electricity, and the security system. The second crew worked hard to finish the inside areas with paneling and rough finish to each living area with the tiles and utilities needed. Tomorrow the third crew would arrive, a pair of men from Australia flown in to put in the secret panels and covers over the different entrances and locations, specialized in their work and by their own advice brought to the building to work never seeing the outside nor knowing the owner's name. Clearly they had worked for some very particular clients who wanted the best in secrecy! Finally would be the fourth crew which would include the painters and the interior decorator to install all the rest. The parlor/business areas would be her entire domain actually as the real living spaces were already well hidden by then.

Shan had seen to that yesterday. The small dumbwaiter lifts for between the floors would serve them well for moving the small amount of furnishings from the basement storage to the upstairs apartments and Eli was strong enough for three men to begin with. With her help the upstairs would be well furnished long after the secrets were concealed, leaving the downstairs "storage rooms" to have doors fitted already in a crate down there turning them into soundproof cells, ready to act as Eli's larder while they carried out their plans. And the upstairs apartments (each with four rooms; bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living space) would serve well for their occupants to decorate as they wished in secret. Half of what he owned he already had in the downstairs storage and everything left here was portable. Even Eli did not know about the very secret move of the goddess's things to their new sanctuary between the floors under his apartment and centrally placed above the business where she could observe the occurrences that happened below her in her new dominion.

He had the impression last night at his devotions she was particularly pleased with his work. He certainly hoped so, although for the merry hell she had turned his life into, he should have done something far less, but he had been charged by the Emperor himself and he would carry that charge till the end of his days which he earnestly prayed would not be many lifetimes. To go on as Eli had, stuck in that age for so long and unable to live life instead just surviving it was a type of hell he would not allow himself to descend into. Now his relatives could continue after him and under a new type of protection by removing himself from their vicinity. It felt very wrong to remove himself from his family, centuries of belief and tradition screaming out against it, but he had finally realized how much danger they were in from him and he could not allow it any more. besides, with him gone maybe they could bring themselves to have children again, ones not at risk from the games of the gods.

As he lay on his pallet in the darkness, his eyes were open as he watched the ceiling, thinking through how many things were left to be finished. As the American's said (he had never gotten used to his citizenship here; at heart he would always be from China and a faithful servant as he had been raised, his culture one of an ancient past), it was 'the home stretch.' Crazy Americans and their odd belief systems! A powerful people who disconnected themselves from their own power and handicapped themselves in their daily lives with artificial rules which argued against human nature, disabled by their mind sets as much as by their voluntary restrictions. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement and his eyes latched onto it, trained by a wave of assassination attempts to pay attention to even the smallest of details.

The Sacred Grotto Crickets, known to outsiders as a type of cave crickets in China and elsewhere, was a much larger creature then many expected, blocky with chitin looking like an old warriors armor. Many who saw them in China considered them to be a special creature even in the culture which dealt with their fascination already. Ever since the switch in which he inhabited the body of his nephew locals had called him the Cricket Boy, coming unnervingly close to a hidden truth he had kept concealed for nearly a hundred years. He had not, in fact, laid a hand on a cricket carrier since he was in China. And now here in the rafters was the largest Grotto Cricket he had ever seen, climbing like an elderly man down the support beam to the floor. But as surprising as that was, that paled in comparison to the most surprising feature of this creatures decent.

Every part of it's body glowed clearly in the dark as if it hid a fire from the gods themselves inside it's body.

Somehow he knew Eli was awake, maybe it was her changed breathing, but neither of them moved as it approached the floor, moving slowly and in no way alarming. Maybe they shared an awakening dream, one of those where you were both awake and dreaming at the Namelesse time, but he could not have looked away for anything on this earth. In a slow eternity he sat up at the waist to keep it in sight as it hopped not at all but walked arthriticly across the floor towards his space, passing by Eli's form, only hesitating to wave it's antennae in her direction as if in friendly greeting before it approached him as unerringly as if it had a built in GPS system in a maze of roads. Master Ge Nameless's eyes grew larger as it approached, never having seen the will of the Goddess in direct full manifestation before, though he knew it was her creature in all ways. It had the 'feel' of her indeed!

And outsider would have seen nothing except Nameless and Eli suddenly intent on the Namelesse space in the pitch black, following it with their eyes. As he observed the approaching phenomenon, Nameless began to chant a blessing to the goddess in old Cantonese, preying for restful sleep after such a long service and thanking her greatly for all that she had done for her most worthless servant who managed greatly still after so much time. Thoughts of family and China and his devotions fell away like years and for a moment it was easy to see the old man in his features as he greeted 'old man cricket' with respectful tones, tired of his days on this earth and ready for a reward of peaceful sleep without end. It stopped, sitting about two feet away waving it's antennae to him as if it listened carefully to his words, considering all his life in it's temporary Omnipotent nature as one of Her servants.

For her own part, Eli could feel the air charged with power, expectant like a thunderstorm about to break a very long pregnant drought. The smell in the air was that of freshly created ozone often found with lightning storms and it's passage brought a fresh air like spring flowers with it. There was little doubt to either of them that there was anything they could do that whatever was about to happen, would, without any influence from them on either part.Nameless had not so much forgotten as pushed aside the reminder that Crickets were the sign of ancient immortality amongst his people, preferring to think of that as a representative of the Goddess herself instead and the private symbol of the many Emperors of the past millennium how he served as a type of priest.

Then it jumped into his chest the light vanishing into Nameless as it did so, lighting his features frozen on the word of "" which meant 'life' as it passed like a hot knife through butter into his flesh, vanishing as quickly as it had come. Only Eli saw a sudden rush of light and energy come up from Nameless's form which washed over an invisible form for an eternal second to her eyes like a beautiful Chinese Princess of wispy light (a sad smile as she looked at Nameless with regret) above his head before it too vanished as if it had never been. As Nameless fell over, his head fortunately hitting the slim pillow he allowed himself for sleep, his eyes were wide as dinner plates stared straight up at something no one else could see on this earth as chilly knowledge fell into his mind giving him the full extent and detailed usage of his new powers suddenly fully awakened and trained in his form. He tried to finish the words he had been about to say, the words in Chinese vanishing from his conscious mind for a moment as only one word could occur to him to express his feelings at this moment of immortal and divine experience, the abrupt knowledge straight from the Goddess into his mere mortal existence.

"Wēnshén."*

And then he did something she had never seen before, but fit his flesh all too well. Nameless rolled onto his side going fetal and began to cry, his sorrow at his fleshy prison being extended into an unforeseeable ending nightmare as if he was a small child suddenly awakened from the scariest boogieman back into the reality of a sunless day of pain. It was a rather heartbreaking scene, a surrendering of dignity earned to subside into the simplest expression of deep sorrow and horror one could feel.

Master Nameless had many titles he could have put out on his board. Master of Feng Shui, specialist in Mah Jong fortunes, Ninth degree Tai Chi Master, Wizard of the ancient magics, and secretly the Guardian of the spirit of the Chinese Emperors & Caretaker of the Goddess of the Imperial Palace (though he had little information about her as she had been a very carefully concealed secret). All together they made a very impressive set of both knowledge and life-long mastery few could compare to, even if taken individually. Unfortunately none of them had given him much insight about the events of the last twenty-four hours nor could they; any time the divine messed in the lives of mortals all rules went off the table and the normal resources for possible information tended to come up blank.

It had taken several hours for him to come to terms with what had happened, not the least of which was a total loss of dignity and a touch of madness around eight in the morning which he had managed to finally beat down. If one of the underworld's assassins had shown up during that time he would have laid down and bared his throat with relief, but Eli had kept him from self-destructive tendencies and he was now in a frame of mind to thank her for her efforts at the very least. Similar to the mental effects of the last 'incident' which had been caused (he still suspected the Goddess, but who really knew?), that time he had been saved by having his family around him and Eli now counted far more as family in his life now as of everyone he knew, she now qualified as one of the few people who could relate, understand, and perform the demonic things he now could as well.

Definitely a curse in his mind, there would be no joy in his new power and his only recourse back to being in balance and harmony would be to turn them upon his people's self-inflicted disease of criminal cancers. And maybe that was what the Goddess wanted him to do, but surely he had already the perfect weapon for such in Eli, why curse him into an eternity of despair and frustration? Yes, at this time he far better understood why Eli thought of her powers as a curse at times, not a blessing. And after a lifetime of devoted service, to be used in such a way--- No, he would resist that mass of twisted thoughts again. It would get him no where except throwing himself from the nearest rooftops and failing whatever test this was to his soul. Damnable gods, playing games with his lives again...

Whatever. His purpose might be clear, it was only the path which needed thinking upon now. If he, like Eli was now a type of predator on others, he needed someone to perform as the cover to their secret plans. And with the new place coming to a completion (Placing the Goddess in her new home yesterday (had it really only been a day??!!) had for Nameless been the completion of the building itself) then it was time to let others know about their choosing to be in his plans. Accordingly he had collected all of his final possessions, directing his nephew and Eli in helping him pack his arm strength no good for the task no matter how much he tried. His more sacred tools and carefully planned formulas having been saved for last in the move. With the upstairs emptied out (even his stove bathtub already installed in the new place) and secured in the new building he returned for one last task before his niece and her family moved into the upstairs of the building.

Standing in the empty apartment he looked around one last time in the bedroom, remembering the assassins who had entered, especially the one he had fried on the old stove. A slight feel of satisfaction that this part of his life had, at the very least, been successful in it's purpose of enabling his family success and security. The door opened and the stubborn girl entered, carrying the tea tray. before she could set it down he motioned her into the bedroom space and pointed to the middle of the floor where two pillows remained, both royal purple silk with gold threading and very very fine. When she knelt on the floor and reached for the tea he touched her hand, stopping her. Her expression was calmly neutral as befitted her ancestors, but she was surprised when he motioned for her to sit on one of the cushions.

With perfect poise and slow movements he performed the proper tea ceremony as she watched, serving her first before himself in direct opposite of what she had been taught, unless for one you wished honor upon. The conversation was in Cantonese and very quiet with many pauses after each sentence. If a linguist had listened he would have noted very archaic inflections in the young boy's words, as if the boy remembered the time of his ancestors much more clearly then most which would have been entirely correct.



(I know of your wishes, granddaughter, but what you seek has a high cost.)

A sip of tea, a pause to savor.

(Is that still your desire? You will have to give up the life you knew.)

Stunned silence from the girl.

(Y-you noticed? Grandfather, I did not mean to reach above my station, please you-- )

A move of his hand cut her off.

(The time for that is past. What you desire will cost your independence and your innocence.)

She looked into her cup, at a loss for words.

(Nothing of the old perception of the world will remain, you will have to work hard.)

Her eyes showed her confusion as he sipped again, unsure what she should say.

(...I do not understand. What path must I choose? )

Silence, drawn out for a full minute.

(If you choose the path I take, you must give up your individuality in service.)

She bowed her head, her mind clearing as she thought of what she wanted, more then anything.

(I must have nothing by absolute obedience in all things. That is the price.)

A nod from her as he sipped, savoring the tea which made his soul feel centered more then anything else could.

(My Lord, I will follow you to the center of all things.)

She bowed low, her forehead touching the floor where she held it, listening without breath.

(Then I accept your service beginning now.)

And Nameless leaned out and touched the back of her neck...



A few moments to remove her shoes (which were hideous things with tall platforms) and slip on slippers Nameless had left out. The girl then put the shoes in her pockets and picked up the tray, having trouble balancing it unlike earlier. A check to make sure nothing was left behind and she collected the scroll & key from behind the pillow Nameless had been sitting on a minute ago. Putting it on the tray, she took the pillow tassels in one hand under the tray and awkwardly made it out the door closing it behind her. Downstairs she carried things and entered the restaurant, nodding at Nameless's niece and handing her the scroll (sealed and ribbon-ed with gold) as she put the cushions down long enough to take the tray into the kitchen and put together a to go box of a family order of the bananas before she returned, picking the cushions back up and giving her former boss a head bow of respect, which was returned. Outside a rickshaw waited which was called earlier and deposited the young teenager outside Nameless's new place, as yet unopened.

Opening the back door next to a street seller's stall, she entered and slid the bar behind her before going halfway up the steps. The new stairway was heavily decorated in rich red and shiny brass luck charm symbols scattered all over the walls, a hundred different types. She reached out and turned one around so it formed the opposite symbol meaning curse and then pushed it in. Bending down she slipped her fingers into the hidden crack in the step in front of her and lifted up, revealing a hidden entrance under the steps Nameless could never have managed with his child's strength. Once through it was lowered into place with a click and the stairway symbol reverted to it's original position. Unlocking the second door as well, the girl walked into the main floor which was filled with a large collection of construction tools and paneling still being placed and chose a stairway to the side, half finished, and made her way up carefully.

In the new office she acted rather curiously however. First, she was careful to only walk on the cleared top of surfaces, avoiding all parts of the floor.

Pushing aside certain things to clear the floor, she stripped down to her underthings with awkward fingers and hung these clothes up on a hanger on the far end of the room. Unrolling a special small carpet in the middle of the space (and leaving the shoes with the outer wear), she carefully slipped off the slippers and with careful aim, tossed them over the table to the far corner where they fell into a bucket. Using the Kleenex that had been rolled up in the small carpet, she wiped the bottom of each foot carefully clean before placing it on the carpet, then cleaned her fingers and tossed the bundle far away as well. Kneeling, she took the jewelry which had been left in the Kleenex and put them on, her wrists, neck, and ankles. Finished, she ran her fingers over each piece to make sure everything was ready and then bent over, putting her forehead against the carpet carefully.

Nameless stepped out of her back onto the front of the carpet and jumped lightly about three feet away, turning so he landed on his feet roughly facing her. Quickly pulling out a red pocket laser he aimed for a spot on the carpet to the side of her where the girl was suddenly dizzy and slightly disoriented. After about ten seconds the fuse went off and as she opened her eyes getting her vision back, there was a great cloud of red powder on all sides, an old magicians trick for entrance and exits in front of an audience. Clueless of these tricks, she sat up slowly with a disbelieving glance around before she even realized she was herself changed. As she felt the necklace with wide eyes and looked up, Nameless merely looked at her with a stony face and said (This is now your new place of work. You will attend me here everyday and as soon as you have moved your things, you will be here every evening as well.)

Her look was one of dawning amazement at his power and deep respect mingling with excitement! In her mind she had just been transported across the city, redressed, and presented with the proof of Master Ge's supreme powers as a being of extreme importance. She knew she never wanted to disappoint him nor anger him in any way! The last few years she had wanted to be his girlfriend, secretly desiring to be part of his rising legend in the Chinatown public, and secure herself a position of respect for her daring. That now mixed with this fresh display into a close-to-fanaticism that she had achieved her desire of the legend and held it by her Lord's will alone! She bowed deeply and moved forward on her hands and knees kissing his foot and saying (Yes Master...) with a voice tinged with devotion.

Nameless smiled.
He waited for his victim, wondering what was taking him so long. Normally the man would be home by now, at least by the last four weeks of observations by his contact who had been hired to jot down his daily itinerary. And this was not a good spot to remain, waiting for the victim to return and release the alarm system allowing access to the records he needed. Currently he was tucked up in a cramped ceiling space over two pipes, all that was keeping him from falling through the thin waferboard below him by inches. In fact it was just this security which Max was counting on as no one would expect someone to manage their way through this particular ceiling; the space just wasn't there!

On a more particularly alarming note, Max really needed to pee.

No, definitely not a good place to think about such a thing. And despite his genetically enhanced bladder and endurance stuff tucked in there, he would be up against his limit in the next while, a disastrous situation. Over the past two decades he had done quite a lot of tinkering, perfecting this particular part of his anatomy to the delight of many of the female persuasion, but it occurred to him now maybe he should spend some more time on alternatives to this situation which, unfortunately, he could focus on enough to fix with his power because[ of the distraction inherit in his biology. Which while he could fiddle, he couldn't really massively change in any speed at the very least which meant he might be giving away his hiding spot soon because of mother nature's call.

In an effort of distraction, he tried to send his mind down the intellectual side of the problem. How many phrases had he heard, anyway? The more obvious ones such as number one or pee pee used by small children, take a piss, drain the lizard, see a man about a horse, and take a leak all sprang to mind. Unfortunately. But then there were odder ones, the more unusual ones which caught the ear and made your eyebrows rise as you contemplated how that one got in the language. Like the one a young boy had used, 'I have to squege bad.' You had to wonder if that came about from the idea of squeezing the sponge on a squege or what? And really now, 'hang a yoo-ee' and 'throw a piss' were just ridiculous! How were you supposed to throw it in the first place unless you had managed the dexterity to spell your name in the snow to begin--

Okay, that was not helping at all!

Even worse, he was wearing a sealed suit, a biological type which would prevent leaving any hair or skin cells behind, but if he had to piss, they could get Namelessples from that. He would need to use something to destroy any Namelessples behind and you couldn't do that with a toilet which often had built in 'traps' that plumbers could get stuff out of sometimes. So that left the toilet out. The shoes he had wrapped carpeting around would destroy any prints from those, though awkward, so he really needed to figure out an alternative method... Max's face grimaced as he felt the pressure and fought to find a way to keep it at bay. A safe subject. Yes! Horses! No! Not horses! Trees! No, he'd been camping too many times. Flying pigs? No, nothing with wings since birds piddled everywhere. Ceiling fan. There was one going in the room below he could see it's electrical box from here, feel the slight vibration as it turned.

That was continuous constant motion, soothing. For a moment he allowed his mind to think about constant motion to avoid the feeling of cramped space he was in now. Constant motion turned to other things in constant motion which led to waterfalls. No good. His original intent to leave the man alone and slip in and out preferably undetected was beginning to fall apart slowly with the mental battle happening in his mind. He heard movement at the front of the house, the door possibly...

- The Next Day -


Officer One: Right over here, Lieutenant...
Detective: Next to the desk?
Officer One: Yes sir, you can see the outline in the carpet. Suspect was found by the owner lying unconscious, face down.
Detective: -looking up at ceiling- Well it's clear there was two of them at least.
Officer One: Yes sir. Unconscious suspect was covered in ceiling wafers, but the trail leads from here to the bathroom. -leads way around forensics-
Detective: Wait a minute. What is the deal with the ceiling fan?
Officer Two: No fingerprints sir, just checked.
Officer One: They think whoever the second suspect was he ripped it out, sir. Lots of signs of force, must have used their weight.
Detective: Curious. -puzzled over the destruction of the ceiling fan, parts lying around all over-
Officer One: Trail leads into the bathroom sir, but no detectable trail back out that they could find. But look here in the shower sir.
Detective: Odd. So the second suspect knocks out the first by falling on him, destroys the ceiling fan for some unknown reason, then goes to the bathroom, pulls out a bottle of bleach and pours it into the shower drain.
Officer One: That's what it looks like sir. And then he disappeared.
Detective: -mumbles- I hope this isn't some kind of vigilante thing...
Officer One: Sir?
Detective: Never mind. You said you had three sites to show me?
Officer One: Yes sir. -leads way into hall and points-
Detective: -stares at smashed picture of two girls at petting farm with pigs-
Officer One: And no trail here either sir. They've been looking for tracks, but somehow he didn't leave any. The carpet looks like it has been cleaned though, see?
Detective: Hmm. So the owner can't shed any other light? Nothing else has been disturbed?
Officer One: No sir. He said he had files in the back bedroom, but he didn't find anything odd with those and no other evidence in the house of an intruder. And Jones tried a step ladder to look in the ceiling space, there's no way a grown man could have gotten in there without removing parts of his body to fit. It's very tight. A child might have managed it.
Detective: Hold on, come back here. -leads way back to ceiling hole, squats and points at the carpeting-
Officer One: Ah, good eyes sir. I missed that.
Detective: So, he must have entered the ceiling from here and cleaned his tracks off the carpet with something, then climbed up above. Light weighted then, maybe a midget or a kid?
Officer One: Probably a good guess sir.
Detective: And the smashed picture, he might be making a threat against the man's kids. Or maybe this suspect was a teenager, in their school, thought bleach would cause a problem like vandalism and mess up the pipes?
Officer One: ....uh.
Detective: Right too weird. This is a bizarre scene. I'm going to have to wait for more forensics I think, but put out the word we want any information on known small-sized cat burglars working the area... But get me information on the girls, what school they go to, could be a juvenile connection here.
Officer One: -salutes- Yes sir...

They all blend in. Broken and/or smeared windows, concrete floor with cracks and the occasional black streak mark, and metallic rust-colored beams that went from floor to ceiling. Hanging light fixtures that resembled an upside down bowl with a single light inside, It seemed like every warehouse on the east coast was made by the Namelesse contractor. Was there no room for style? wondered Nameless as he adjusted the cuff of his sleeve. Alas, they were wonderful interrogation spots.

Jackson Smalls - 220lbs, give or take. Buzz cut head, broad shoulders. 6'0, maybe 5'11. Tight fitting black t-shirt, jeans, work boots. Tattoo of a skull with a snake wrapped around it on right bicep. Currently trickling blood down right cheek, eye beginning to swell, handcuffed behind the back in an aluminum chair.

Rubbing his knuckles as he looked around the room, Nameless spoke aloud to the man, "I'm telling you - you're going to tell me where the rest of your boys are hiding her. One way or another, I will hear it."

Nameless referred to the daughter of one New Jersey senator, being kidnapped in regards to the senator's stance on an upcoming bill. Of course, that proceeded into details that Nameless didn't need nor care about - the senator wasn't budging on the bill. Hence, Nameless's assignment to find and reacquire the daughter.
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PostSubject: Re: Striving for Perfection part 3 -training-   Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:27 pm

Regardless, Sion had his answer: Gavin Hulme was right. There was more to all this than the public knew, and Sion Delaney was going to get to the bottom of it all, if it was the last thing he did.

Nameless" Bond looked down at his watch for the eighteenth time since entering his office for what was to be the final time. Having been offered a teaching position at New York University (also as a philosophy professor - with a slightly higher salary, to boot), he had spent the past four days settling his affairs in Vermillion, South Dakota.

Having just carried two large boxes down four flights of stairs, he collapsed into his computer chair one last time. Was it really the pay raise, pulling him away from his home for nearly twenty-seven years? Was it the attractions of the Big Apple bringing him in? Was it the opportunity to start fresh in a city that he had only visited a small number of times?

No - it was none of these things and the professor knew that beyond any shadow of a doubt. Nameless was escaping, getting away from a past that he still occasionally had nightmares over. Though the man was struggling to move forward - and had made great progress - Maria's death still ripped strongly at his heart.

Walking hand in hand. Sitting in the park, watching the sunset. Talking about how they would change the world, save the world, make the world a better place.

Gabriel James, Nameless's mentor, had managed to convince him - for the most part - that it hadn't been his fault that the love of his life had been taken away. Still, thought Nameless as he removed a flask of whiskey from inside his suit jacket, I could have done more.

Replacing the now empty flask into his hidden coat pocket, his gaze returned to the slightly disheveled desk before him. His laptop remained open and on, Google.com currently pulled up on the page. Adjacent to it was a brochure for New York University sitting atop a manila folder containing flight tickets, New York apartment information, a spare copy of his résumé, along with already prepared homework assignments for his new students. Nameless pulled all of these things into a satchel and setting them beside his computer chair.

Pulling one final cardboard box towards the desk, Nameless moved to quickly finish his packing. He tossed in his business cards - useless as they were, with his relocating - just as a reminder of his work at the university. He pulled in his pen holder and an empty glass container (which typically held M&Ms - the only "bribe" for extra credit for his students). Throwing in a stack of post-it notes as well, the desk was mostly clear - minus a single picture frame.

Taking another deep breath, Nameless lifted it up, running his thumb over the glass. Maria's face smiled back at him - her dark hair pulled to the side in the picture, strewn over her left shoulder. Nameless sat beside her, arms around her waist, with a matching smile on his face as well. It had been taken just a few months before her death - the two sitting on a rock in the park, having just enjoyed a picnic with their mutual friend, Sophia.

Picture frame in one hand, the professor was halfway through pulling the flask from his coat pocket again before he remembered that it was empty. Stroking the glass with his thumb once more, Nameless finally placed the picture frame carefully within the box and closed it. Anything else left behind, he knew, would be donated or thrown away - neither of which was a concern to him.

After pulling the satchel strap across his shoulder and picking up the final cardboard box, Nameless gave one parting farewell glance to his old office. In two short hours, he would be on an airplane (though, humorously, he couldn't help but note that he could fly himself), New York City-bound.

Nameless made his way out of his office, nodding to the philosophy department's secretary as he approached and entered an elevator. What would New York bring?

New opportunities, he surmised - though, not for his abilities, despite that he was more accepting of using them all now. No, with the fall of Building 26, Nameless was a "retired" special. The threat was over, for now, and he hoped to find peace. Still - Nameless knew his purpose was to help others, and help he would... just through teaching, as opposed to saving lives.

Nameless departed the elevator on the bottom floor of the office building and stepped out into the sunlight, pulling on a pair of sunglasses as he did so. An awaiting cab driver, leaning against his car and impatiently looking at his watch, stepped forward briskly to take the box from him and placed it in the trunk of the cab. Taking a seat in the back of the cab, Nameless took one final look back at the university. "Good-bye, South Dakota," he whispered solemnly as he turned his gaze towards the windshield and the future that lay before him.

Watching the city from such an angle through his window, Nameless thought that the city looked like a living organism. The traffic - pedestrians and cars - was the life force pulsating to the necessary organs, providing life and nutrition to the city. And, in an odd way, it was a good way to describe the life of the city: the people were necessary to keep the city going, to repair, to grow, to improve.

Nameless stood waiting, debating. Though he had built up considerable skill with his telepathic ability, from time to time he shutdown the resistance to others' thoughts - due to mental stress, headaches, or just out of curiosity - in order to allow those thoughts to be heard by himself. It was also a good way of learning who was paying attention in class and who wasn't, he reminded himself with a brief smile.

Today was one such day. And what he had heard had almost stopped him cold in the middle of lecture. Nameless managed to regain composure and finish the lecture, but he had approached the student immediately after class ended. Only three lectures into the semester, Nameless had to ask her name. "Lydia. Lydia West, sir," she said, her eyes suddenly filling with worry and her head filling with fearful thoughts concerning assignments and college. Not what Nameless was looking for.

He had asked her to come to his office at the end of her day to discuss classroom concerns; and thus, the professor waited.

The girl, Lydia West, knew about abilities. That wasn't troubling - Nameless had met many specials over the past decade. But for the majority of class, amidst her note-taking, her thoughts had focused solely on the SHIELD. Were they back? Were they after him? While Nameless wasn't too entirely disturbed by the idea - he'd avoided them before - he was still keen on finding out the details before making an assumption. Still, nothing looked to favor him about the situation.

Returning to his desk, he brushed his fingertips across the polished wood. Already, it was cluttered with his things - laptop, briefcase, a messy stack of half-graded assignments, a glass canister of M&Ms, an unopened Subway foot-long, and a Coke that was slowly leaving a spot of condensation on his desk. Just as Nameless plopped a handful of M&Ms into his mouth, Lydia West slid through his door. "You wanted to see me, professor?"

Nameless nodded, quickly finishing off the mouthful of goodness. "Yes, Miss West. Please - shut the door." The girl eyed the door cautiously before shutting it behind her. Without being asked, she stepped around his desk and took a seat. Nameless moved for his chair as well.

For a moment, he considered starting with "Now, you're probably wondering why I called you here." The obviousness in the statement was worthless and wouldn't serve any purpose but to possibly stress the girl further. "Tell me," he said instead, "is everything okay? You seemed rather distracted in class today." Okay, so not the best approach either way, Nameless admitted as he finished speaking. But it would cause Lydia to think back to class. Back to her thoughts on the SHIELD.

Or so he thought. Her mind went to a person. Someone. Dylan. "I... is it normal for a professor to be calling students to his office like this?" Lydia asked, her timid nature suddenly giving way to a strange, new confidence. But Nameless had been prepared for such a question. "I take pride in my concern for my students. If something's affecting their concentration or work, I feel obligated to check in," Nameless said coolly, leaning back in his chair.

The girl simply looked at him, her face expressionless. Finally, caving, she bowed her head. "It's my brother. The line of work he's gotten into..." Lydia shook her head. Nameless could make the connection though. "I see. What kind of work is he into? Dangerous?" The student raised her head slightly, eyes darting towards the door. Cautious again. "He works for... a SHIELD."

Nameless smirked. "A ...special kind of SHIELD?"Lydia's eyes widened slightly. So there it was. Her brother worked for the very people that had attempted on more than one occasion to take him in. Lydia had no knowledge of any pursuit of her professor - she was simply worried about her brother's involvement due to her own ability. But Nameless wasn't going to spell anything out without clear confirmation from the girl.

"So I suspect," said Nameless, quietly, "that the nature of your brother's business concerns you. Would this simply be on an emotional level or do you feel...betrayed?" Simply put, Are you a special? Lydia West stared at her professor for a moment and, without taking her eyes off of him, lifted her hand.

As she did so, the glass container of M&Ms lifted off the table by several inches. Nameless nodded slowly, watching the glass jar. Slowly it lowered itself again. Lydia - whose hand was still slightly raised - looked towards the M&Ms in awe, coming to the realization that he was like her.

"Now what concerns you about your brother's work? Do you feel endangered? Or is it something more?" The sense of awe flooded out of Lydia as she recalled her concerns of the SHIELD. Taking a deep breath, she began, "Dylan's protected me, I think. I don't know. I haven't spoken to him since..."

Lydia sighed, looking down at her hands folded neatly in her lap. "...since I discovered he worked for them. They... well, you seem to know what they do," she stated, the timidness fleeing once again. Nameless nodded and said, "Yes. I'm quite familiar with the SHIELD. We've crossed paths on several occasions. But please, continue. I'd like to know your concerns."

"Very well," Lydia said, bowing her head slightly so that she was looking at the desk top this time. "They abduct people - innocent or not - simply because they're special. How could anyone think that's okay?"

"Well," said Nameless, not believing what he was about to say, "while they do abduct people, the majority are released with the abduction erased from their minds. They're 'tagged.' Only those deemed dangerous are kept. Think of the SHIELD as a policing agency: do handgun owners not need to be licensed and fingerprinted to be kept track of? And do those who are deemed a safety hazard to the public not get locked away?" The professor leaned forward, propping his elbows on his desk and pressing his fingertips together.

The student across from him gave a moment of silence to consider the viewpoint. "But no one gives them authority. No one keeps them in check. Who's to say who is dangerous?" Nameless clapped his hands, his chair rocking slightly with the movement. "Therein lies the problem with the SHIELD, Miss West. You may have a Mother Theresa personality, but if you have the ability to topple a city, then you shall be locked away."

Nameless stood up, feeling that it was nearing time to end their meeting. But he still had an issue to address - her brother. "As for...Dylan. If your brother is protecting you, his priorities are still in order. It would seem that he's looking to help protect other people as well. Don't fret so much about Dylan - I don't believe he's betrayed you."

Lydia stood as well, clearly dwelling on what Nameless had said. As she neared the door, she stopped. "Thank you, professor, but I'm curious about one more thing..." This one was an intelligent one, Nameless realized. Lydia had picked up on his use of mind reading and telekinesis.

The professor smiled as he opened the door for her to exit his office. "I have several, but I apologize if I'm not ready to speak about them now. I'll see you in class on Tuesday, Miss West."

Pacing. What was it about pacing? Why did walking help to clear one's thoughts, to formulate thoughts that wouldn't suffice with simply sitting in place?

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.
-Henry David Thoreau

Were there not in-depth psychological examinations for such things? Was there some connection between the moving of muscles and the amount of blood flow to the brain? It seemed likely, though Nameless wasn't well-learned in biology.

Nameless paced around his dark apartment, lit only by the glow of the television in background. In his hand was a nearly empty glass of Jack Daniels, swishing around precariously with each uneven step that the professor took. Progressing around the room for the eleventh time, he paused to look once more at the television, barely audible with the volume turned down low.

"...the deaths of thousands after the biological attack in Washington D.C. earlier today. Following this morning's events, the man seen in this image appeared on television by undisclosed means, taking credit for weapons and stating that there was more to come, including a vague reference to a 'twenty-sixth building.' As we receive more details, we shall keep viewers informed. This is Patri-..."

The television screen flickered and then went dark, leaving the professor alone in pitch blackness with nothing to acSHIELD him but his thoughts and the smell of whiskey. Fumbling for a table lamp next to where he stood, Nameless twisted the knob, allowing for more light in the room.

What was it that he had said to Ireland?

"No. I've had my share of battles.
I've had my victories and defeats.
I've lost all I care to lose.
I'm retired now."

The conversation had only taken place a few days prior and, now, the words were chilling the professor to the bone. He had indeed lost something - the love of his life - and it was only recently that Nameless had begun to feel as if he was overcoming that loss and moving on with his life. He was no longer the boy with wishful thinking and hopeful dreams. Nameless had stood up against evil, stared it in the face. He had been a part of the victory, but he had also experienced the cost of participating.

But here it was again. People were dying - by the thousands - with more promised attacks. What was Nameless to do?

I'm retired now.

He swirled the liquor around in his glass beneath his nose, taking in the smell of the whiskey. In one defining moment, several years prior, Nameless had lost everything that held meaning to him in one swift move, with the death of the woman that he loved.

I've lost all I care to lose.

So what more did he have? Maria had meant everything to him and she was gone. What else could he lose? And, by acting, how much more could be obtained?

Nameless drained the remainder of his glass and, using telekinesis, sent it across the room to land neatly in the kitchen sink.

This was something much bigger than him and what he had lost. Thousands of people had just died and thousands more would join them without intervention. Mothers and fathers; daughters and sons; loved ones - dating, engaged, and married had all lost their lives. And the professor needed to be there to help.

Why? Because he had understood what millions of people would not. Nameless knew what this 'twenty-sixth building' term had actually meant. He knew what was happening. Days before, he had told Ireland that regular people would never accept people with abilities. Likewise, some specials would continue to view such nonacceptance as persecution. That's where these attacks were stemming from:

Us or them.

Nameless moved back to his bedroom, grabbing a duffel bag from his closet. This was it, he decided as he began filling it with clothes and personal effects. "This is it, Maria," Nameless said, picking up his bedside photo of himself and his deceased fiancée, and placing it in the bag as well.

The professor was coming out of his short stay in retirement.
Nameless was back.

Despite it being a requirement - at least five hours dedicated to "office hours" per week, for students' who wished to come and speak - it was rarely put to good use by the students. Sure, there was the once in a blue moon occasion in which a student would show up, begging for extra credit or to be allowed to take a make-up exam; but never to go over lessons, to have their papers commented on, or the like. Never, that is, until this evening, as the professor sat in his chair, attempting to catch up on a stack of ungraded assignments, his mind occupied by what had been consuming it for the past five months: Nemesis.

"Professor?" came a voice, accompanied by a soft knock. Clearing his throat, Nameless replied, "Come in." A young girl - a student from his Thursday evening class - entered, giving the professor a timid smile before she sat down in one of the two leather seats across from the professor's desk. Nameless gave her eyes a moment to scan the room before asking the rarely used question: "Anything I can help you with, Miss Dawson?"

Emily Dawson's eyes returned to the front, looking shyly at the professor's desk as opposed to the man himself. Nameless said nothing about this, waiting simply for Emily to speak her peace. "Today in class you... you spoke about the balancing forces of nature," she began, pausing as if for Nameless to confirm that it was true. The professor simply nodding, waiting. "But you didn't... have very much conviction in it. What is it that you do believe, professor?"

The professor exhaled, leaning back in his chair. Absent-mindedly, he ran his hands across the front of his dress shirt, smoothing out the wrinkles in it. "Professors typically keep their ideals separated from the material, so as to not show bias towards one idea over another," Nameless replied after a moment's consideration. "If you'll keep that in mind - that my answer has no effect on what is said in class - then I'll share with you."

Emily gave an eager nod, her eyes rising up to meet the professor's for the first time.

"Miss Dawson," Nameless began, "I don't believe that there is a balance to the universe. Scientifically, we're in a state of existence that, in a sense, is balanced. The sun is exactly where it needs to be; we have the water and vegetation necessary for survival; cycles continue that allow for the existence of life - all are true. But, from a philosophical standpoint, I have yet to find any evidence of a balance."

Nameless paused, allowing his words to sink in for a moment before he continued. "Nothing, for me, provides a satisfactory answer to the age old questions - why are infants dying, before they ever get a chance at life? Why are criminals capable of living happy lives - even better than some innocent people? Why do bad things happen to good people?"

The professor paused again, reflecting over the final question. Maria had died, fighting to protect innocent people from the clutches of Building 26. The people involved were still at large; Emile Nameless was in charge of yet another group, Rebecca Hudson was President, Nameless Petrelli was in the White House as well. None had met with punishment; sure, their project had failed, but none had lost as much as the professor had... as much as Maria had.

"Do you believe in God, professor?"

Nameless smiled, leaning forward in his chair. Another wise question. "I believe in a high power, Miss Dawson - God, if you wish to call it that. I don't believe God to be a personal one, though. I propose that God is much like a scientist, observing over an ant farm as we - the ants - scurry about on our day to day lives. Occasionally, God shakes the farm; good things happen, bad things happen. We adapt. We carry on. It isn't necessarily fair, but again, I believe in no balance."

The student nodded slowly. "Is there a way to achieve balance?"

Nameless rubbed his unshaven face in thought, making a mental note to shave, lest he soon resemble the man in the picture that Isaac Mendez had painted. "That is a question beyond my knowledge. There are methods of turning the balance, but achieve true balance? I'm not sure.

"For example, take this terrorist group; they act because they believe they were wronged by something they claimed to be called Building 26."

Emily turned her head to the side, quizzically. "You sound like they're not doing the wrong thing, professor," she said softly.

The professor quickly shook his head, but words failed him. What if they were right? Of course - innocent lives were being taken in the process, but Nameless, Hudson, Petrelli - along with numerous Building 26 agents - were still abroad. Untouched. Unaffected. Was it anything but fair to take from them, like they had taken from Nameless?

Emily apparently took his silence for dismissal as, in the midst of his wondering, she stood. "Thank you for your time, professor," she said before hurrying out.

Nameless, consumed by his thoughts, didn't seem to notice her exit.

Will glided forward and through the fence, passing right between the motion detectors without hesitation. While she wasn't opaque, her form was easily seen through by electronic devices and this one proved no different then other ones. Besides, the idea of the government using the top of the line models on a prison wall was laughable. At the main building though she turned and glided along nearly a hundred yards before she chose her entrance spot. The totaly jerkface who had interupted her mission last time had been deftly avoided this time and it was nearly a month later. The public outcry when someone had found out about the prison release (which she actually had nothing to do with) had put the project on total hold for the moment giving her plenty of time for a second attempt. If she had known the police were on the trail vagually, collecting evidence to make a link to some of her past attacks she might not have been so open, but she really didn't have a clue at this moment so it caused no delays in her thinking. She sank into the wall and passed through the four foot thick walls slowly, oozing out into a cell having missed the wall corner by nearly ten feet. Damn. Ah well, too late. Turning to the four bunks in the small cell she noted they were all fast asleep being it was nearly four am; perfect. She stepped out through the bars into the hallway and turned the corner moving slow. She was not on the side with cameras, but in another thirty feet she would enter the hallway for death row. Going solid again, Will took out a hood and slipped it on giving her face the look of a half-zombie half skeleton and pulled out two arm sleeves as well and slipped into them finishing the effect. Ready now for the attack, she turned mist and went through the wall into the main coridor across and almost instantly got picked up on the cameras as she glided straight into the first cell and put her hand directly into the man's face and eyes.

The instant scalding was enough to seer his eyes and throat and as he half-woke starting to scream his lungs seered themselves as well eliminating any sounds except his gut wrenching hiss as he expired rapidly. It was noisy enough to wake up the man across, but not an emrergency alarm. However, the camera had already blinked the image to security central where three officers were staring in horror, paralyzed as to what to do next as she left that cell and went after the man awake as a rolling fog began to form in the cell. That man's horrified scream as the fog began to scorch his skin was enough however to wake most of the rest of death row as the fog cover began rolling past their cells. As the alarms were finally sounded she was on her way to another cell and so on. The response time was fast and only held up by their own lock down doors as the nearest officers had to call in for doors to be opened to allow them access. But by then she had already left three rolling on the floor in death throws. By the time they managed to get into the fog itself they had to back off and try fire extinguishers to get the hot steam away. By that time, half of the twenty-two men on death row were already either on their way to their final destination or dead already. In as little as fifteen minutes she had already saved the state nearly a million and a half for solitary and executed twenty plus men who should not have ever been let free, diseased creatures that they were. When she reached the end of the row she let the fog roll forward and the guards fled behind the protective doors (not that she would have hurt them as they were innocents) and used her power to short out the hallway mains, sending this end of the prison into complete darkness and starting a real panic amongst the prisonors who could clearly hear something was going on on death row, something horrible evil sounding. Going through the wall she made her way down into the far end and started through the wall, the last thing she saw on the inside was a guard shrunk back against the wall arms in front of his face sure she had come to kill him and terrified.

Now for the difficult part, the escape itself.

Unbeknownst to her, the outer perimeter guards had broken the rules and congregated at each tower for communications, trying to find out what was happening inside and getting mostly shouts and panic from inside Ward C. Thus when she exited in the darkness and crossed the field, no one saw her or spotted her misty form till she was nearly at the fence. And watching a ghost glide up to and through the fence without hesitation was not only a jaw dropper, but as she faded into the night she would have been highly amused as one guard turned to the next and said "If you think that's going in the log, you can forget that sh!t. I didn't see a damn thing." The other guard just nodded, pale as paper as the call came through for the warden's car to be sent for even tho it was so early in the morning. The cover up began the next day as the Liuetenant goveneor, three state senators, and the state corenor had a hurried afternoon discussion and then began closing down any stories that were out there. A small news article released a week later reported on an accidental food poisoning and firing of the food service supplier for the deaths of twenty-two inmates following a state investigation. No outsiders were allowed into the suspect investiagtion despite local protests and no more details were released. Long before that, Will had been through two clothing changes, used two taxi's, and ended up in a train leaving for the first run of the morning into the big city. A deep sigh that everything this time had gone better, she drank from a flask as the train barreled into the morning commute and saluted the stations as she passed through, a great feeling of accomplishment in her mind as her brother's spirit celebrated more demons gone from the earth. She would end up calling it an early day later on when her boss noted her looking rather bad and sent her home from work around noon.

But that was just the normal crash, nearly eight hours later then normal. Will lay on her bed, morose and wailing about the travesty of justice that was her brother's killer's trail and how she needed more information to catch him, track him down. Thus she was not in the office when her boss had an order come through from the governor that he was to ask no more information about the situation under direct orders. Her boss would complain about being handled by the politicans for weeks afterwards to her amusement and sympathy. Life continued for the moment as always, with a sudden benefit of extra monies in the system for the reshuffling of prisoners by the new directive. Oddly enough, the story never appeared in the papers again and eventually the prisoner release happened though in other parts of the state then the local scene to avoid publicity. She would be insensed when she found out later as three of the men releassed were on her list. This would require her to expand her search for them and risk some discovery to find out where they had disapeared too...

Will returned to her hide out, carefully sure of no one following her to the apartment. The only person who had been slightly interested in her passage from mid-town was fairly unconscious now, upside down in a trash can, the lecher. Trying to feel her up had been a lesson she was sure he would not forget for a very long time. It was therefore with great satisfaction that she closed the door and did up the locks and multiple chains before slipping off her costume to change into something more comfortable. Within a few minutes she was in her command room, carefully altering her map detail on the wall to match the fact another target was gone off her radar now. A shred of his files and then toss of them in the burn unit removed anything tying him to this place.

Of course, all of the files had been copied at work so nothing was technically missing. A single roll of film she took out of the camera and put it in her bag to drop off on her way to work tomorrow. A fruitful evening, it might be some time before they discovered that particular criminal duo, not that either had the Namelesse ending of course. The two were both pedophiles she had been tracking separately who had somehow turned up at the Namelesse place to work. Although she had found no connection between them (as neither appeared to know the other's background), she had managed to forge a change on the work schedule one night to set them both in the Namelesse place Namelesse time. Tonight had been that night.

Being able to toast both of them one at a time (blinding them with a blast of super-hot steam till they passed out from it), then stuff them each into barrels and cover their unconscious forms with brine solution had been a work of minutes far more difficult had been to try and seal the lids with the machines, finishing one, but only part way through the other before she heard someone returning. It being near the end of the shift she had watched with some amusement as the man who had come looking for one of them had snarled and finished the job, loading the two barrels with the forklift into the storage area to sit for six months aging.

Even now she could imagine the headlines the bad newspapers would write if they were ever found. More likely would be the people in the particular stores wheeling out the barrels and empty them into the New York Harbor quickly so as to not destroy the SHIELD's reputation. "Half pickled Pederast found in Harbor." It was then, sitting back in her chair sipping a glass of wine she remembered one of the men had been hiding under the assumed name of "Robin Tink" and she barely managed to stop from snorting as her mind rearranged the headline to read "One Pickled Tink."

Bad humor and Vengeance. What a fun combination!

Finishing off her drink, she poured another and settled down to work on the next case, her humor disappearing as the hours rolled past and the inevitable depression began again. As it did every night, her brother's influence of anger and impotence worked it's way into her work, turning her search into a depressive and driven search.

There are many ideas brought to mind by the title ‘Ninja’. One, of course is the classic image of the illusive figure, dusky clothes masking their identity and endearing them to shadows. Another, the almost inhuman stealth with which they move, possessing feline elegance and unnatural silence even in motion. There is their uncanny ability to appear as if from nowhere and vanish equally as enigmatically. And the knowledge that each one is capable of delivering a swift and lethal fate to their unsuspecting victims. So far Nameless had accomplished only the costume part, though he was working on the silent but deadly factor. His first step towards that was to acquire something else associated with ninjas, a katana sword.

Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy as walking into the local store; you couldn’t just pick up a good quality katana from anywhere or so Seph had learnt over the last few days. Besides, even if they had been easy to come across they were incredibly expensive for a student living off his sparse savings. He’d turned to his computer and favourite search engine for help and found out that there was an auction house in the city which was selling a large quantity of swords the next day. A visit and some poking around gifted him the knowledge that the swords were being held there overnight. That was how he’d ended up standing in his bedroom dressed as a ninja.

Looking around his room he made out the familiar surroundings from the blur of colours he was seeing. If he squinted he could just about make out the ninja turtles on his bedspread but if he’d not known what they were he might have mistaken them for dinosaurs. It was no good; he was going to have to wear his glasses. Grabbing them from the desk he carefully slid the arms beneath the black headscarf and pushed the spectacles back over his eyes, bringing the world into sharp focus. A glance in the mirror told him it looked lame and resolved him to invest in some contact lenses for next time; he could have a Clark Kent thing going on.

Apparel decided upon he turned towards one of the four walls of his room, from which he had cleared all clutter. He’d even dragged his chest of drawers away from it to clear space; his aim wasn’t quite perfect yet and he needed his escape route to be clear, just in case. Taking a deep breath to clear his head he held a hand up in front of him and walked towards the wall, then through it, emerging the other side in a large room he recognised from only that afternoon before. He had a few moments of peace in which to look around, it was dark, only lit by the amber glow of streetlights through the high windows but once his eyes adjusted it was more than enough to see by. He took a step forward and a scream pierced the air.

Nameless’s heart leapt into his throat as he realised he must have set off some sort of motion detector. He had half expected as much but for some reason he’d not been prepared for how loud it was, it must have been audible from blocks away. His time was limited now and so he broke into a run. The swords were on the other side of the room last time he’d seen them, locked in a glass cabinet. Sure enough he caught the gleam of the transparent surface and inside the swords. Without pausing he skidded to a halt and reached out for the one he favoured, his gloved fists passing through a portal spanning the glass and seizing the sword and sheaf.

A beam of light swept the room. Nameless’s head whipped around in time for his eyes to be dazzled by a flashlight.
”Hey!” The thief grinned, though his getup hid it from the guard, his adrenaline pumping as he ran out of the light towards the wall, jumping and slamming straight into it. He bounced off, hit the floor and leapt up again, too scared to think about the pain. This time he aimed for the right wall and dived through before the torchlight caught up with him. He landed heavily on his bedroom floor. It was a few minutes before he could move, his heart thumping in his chest and his eyes squeezed tightly shut. However the grin stole once more over his face and he looked to one side to where the sword lay gleaming on the carpet.

He realised how lucky he’d been not to be impaled on it but as the thought turned his stomach he pushed it away. Moving up on to his knees he sheathed the sword and then pulled it halfway out again to admire the shining blade. Thin lines engraved it to made
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Join date : 2012-05-22

PostSubject: Re: Striving for Perfection part 3 -training-   Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:32 pm

out Japanese characters which according to the online description read ‘justice’. That was why he had chosen it, that was its purpose. Now he just had to learn how to use it. Yanking down the cloth which covered his mouth he got up opened his door just a crack.
”Mom! Do you know anywhere that teaches swordfighting?”

They’d seen him today. For months down he’d been trailing them, finding out where they hung out, where they lived and how they got home. At night, always at night, dressed in black and keeping out of sight. He thought he’d been stealthy, they couldn’t have glimpsed his shadowy figure more than a couple of times. But today they’d seen him, on the train heading back from the university. He’d not been expecting them to be there, why would he have? But whether it was through chance or design they ended up on the Namelesse train, on the Namelesse carriage at the Namelesse time.

***


Nameless braced his feet against the backrest in front of him as he leaned back into his own chair. It wasn’t the best use of space afforded to him by his seat on the subway train but he seemed comfortable in the position. Large blue headphones covered his ears, the image on the earpieces branding them as Skullcandy. Outside his personal bubble all that could be heard of the music he listened to was the thumping bass to which he bobbed his head. His bag rested in the seat beside him, between him and the window, it was a bulky backpack that was as heavy as it looked. He fiddled with an iPod, turning the screen light on and off in an absent minded waste of batteries.

It wasn’t until the hairs on the back of his neck rose that he stirred from his daze and realised he was being watched. Looking up sharply he instantly locked on to the narrowed eyes staring back and his breath deserted him. Their faces were immediately recognisable. Even if he hadn’t spent the last few months stalking them they haunted his dreams, his nightmares. They were that faces which woke him up coated in cold sweat and tasting the salt of his own tears. The last time he’d seen them this close Daniel had been dying in his arms and they were the reason. The shock and fear his expression had assumed by reflex shifted to cold, hard hatred prompting their glares to change into sneers.

They weren’t afraid of him, they’d killed his best friend and they obviously thought he would be equally easy to do away with. He dropped his gaze after a few moments, his dark eyes staring at the blank screen as the thought. He knew what they’d done and they were aware of that, maybe this wasn’t a coincidence. Perhaps even as he’d been tracking them by night they’d been looking for him by day. The thought scared him; he admitted to himself that he was afraid of them but that just made him hate them more. He kept his eyes down for the rest of the journey passed his stop until the train reached its point of termination. Jumping off he glanced over his shoulder to see them darting through the doors at the last moment.

He didn’t run, he was thinking of them like dogs, if he started running then they’d give chase. He just needed to find somewhere where there were no people around. He took a brightly lit tunnel which led away from the station and on towards the next stop. Their footsteps echoed behind him but the men themselves were silent. A few people walked the Namelesse way but they were taking turnings off up to the surface, it wouldn’t be long now and they’d be alone. Nameless sped up and heard they were doing the Namelesse. There was a sharp turn in the tunnel up ahead; once he was round that he would be hidden from view. They broke into a run. Nameless didn’t even have to look, he launched himself forward, his bag bouncing painfully against his back, sprinting the last few metres turning round the corner and then into the wall. By the time his pursuers reached the corner the tunnel was empty.


He’d waited too long. Seeing them had rekindled his anger and made him realise he needed to take action. He had been putting it off, who knows whether he would have even done it as his best friend’s memory began to fade. The thought made him hate himself. He owed this to Daniel. He was ready; he would take the first one in two night’s time before they could come after him again.

The darkness makes monsters of us all. Innocent shadows become crouched figures, ready to spring upon you as you pass. A slamming car door is the sound of someone breaking in; no effort to be subtle as it won’t matter if you try to run. And that movement you catch out of the corner of your eye becomes an assassin stalking you through the night. However the figure swaggering down a dark alley, leaving the streetlight lit sidewalk behind him, was familiar with these things and had long ago stopped jumping at shadows. He dismissed the rattling of the bins as a rat chomping on the garbage, that shadow which moved across the wall was probably no more than the effect of a car driving passed the alley entrance and that figure crouch in the cage of the fire escape…

The man stopped, gazing up at the dark shape which his mind couldn’t decipher. He was a big guy, 6 foot at least and solidly built. It wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to picture the muscle and sinew beneath the grey tracksuit he wore. He was obviously aware of his physical prowess as there was not a sign of nervousness as he stood alone in a back alley of New York. He regarded the shape for a few moments but when it didn’t move he looked away, only to catch something out of the corner of his eye. His head snapped back but the patch of darkness was gone, only brick visible through the grill. That made him pause a minute, but only long enough to convince himself that nothing could get up or down the shaky metal structure without him hearing and that what he’d seen was just a trick of the light.

Nameless flattened himself against the wall crouched behind a set of metal bins, his heart hammering in his chest. He was certain he’d been rumbled on the fire escape, the man had been looking right at him. It seemed this costume did more than just look cool. His target continued through the darkness, a silhouette against the light at the far end. His pace had picked up a little, maybe he was slightly unnerved by the disappearing shadow. Seph smiled at the thought. He wanted the man to be scared, to be terrified like he had been. Backing up the ninja kicked one of the bins before slipping through the wall. Emerging ahead of his victim he saw him looking back over his shoulder. Seph jumped up and ran across the alley, jumping through the wall on the opposite side.

The hooded thug was certain that was no rat. He gazed back the way he’d come but could see nothing in the darkness. It was nothing. He told himself. He turned his head just in time to catch sight of ‘nothing’ darting across the alley, silhouetted against the light. A lithe, dark figure dressed in black. It disappeared into the shadows but before he had time to call out something clattered above him. His head jerked up to see someone looking down on him from the fire escape, there were more than one of them.
”Who’s there?!” He reached round the back of his pants, hand closing around the hard, comforting shape of his gun, the metal warmed by his skin. The figure remained silent but back towards the wall and seemed to disappear within the shadows.

Nameless could hear him breathing. Smiling to himself he crept up from behind only to see the man make a sudden movement to pull out his gun at the Namelesse time as twitching his head. The ninja dove through a wall, emerging the opposite side of the man in time to hear the gunshot ring through the night. Time was up. Nameless drew his sword at the Namelesse time as he ran towards the man, the blade glinting wickedly. Hearing the metallic ring the man began to turn, raising his gun again. Their eyes met and the man’s widened in shock. There was a clatter as the gun hit the floor, followed slowly by its owner as he slid off of the sword which impaled him.

Staring down at the man Seph’s heart near stopped before restarting at triple time as a scream of pain pierced the air. His expression hardening he crouched down beside the dying man who was now staring at him in utter terror, covering his mouth roughly with one gloved hand.
”I want you to know why.” He whispered ”You’re dead because you killed Daniel. You killed my best friend.” He would have liked to think understanding dawned in the man’s eyes with his words but it was unlikely he comprehended anything as death closed its cold fingers around his mind. Another scream ripped through the moment but it wasn’t from his victim. Looking up Nameless saw a woman at the end of the alley staring at him. He put a finger to his lips and stood up, backing towards the wall. He melted into the shadows with a single word.

”Hush.”

“Drip.”

The clarity of the sound was piercing and, relentlessly, it had worn through the cushion of unconsciousness to stir the mind of the man beneath. It took a few minutes and the breaking of another droplet before the correct neurones fired to inform the mind that somewhere a tap was dripping. Granted that the sound could have had some other origin but he had always been a family man and, even now, he associated that noise with fetching his tools to tighten the faucet. It would be shortly after he’d returned from his last tour, not the first night, that was not a night for thinking on chores, not with his Molly lying beside him, but in that first week. He would be lying in bed, the softness of his wife within the cradle of his arm, and he would hear that sound.
”Tap’s dripping again.” He would say, and Molly would inform him that it had been that way for the past two months or so. ”I’ll get right on it in the morning.” He’d assure her and she wouldn’t reply because she knew that he would.

The memories kissed him sweetly and slipped cruelly away, dragging the fragments of slumber slowly with them. The pool of messages delivered by his senses began to trickle in through the ever growing gaps. The dryness in his mouth was first in the queue, a curious thing when all was considered. Had he precognition he might not have taken the time to suck saliva from his cheeks nor lick his lips. He was informed next of the prickling in his knees, and the cold breeze which whipped across them. It was an automatic response to try and draw them into the warmth that encompassed the rest of his body. Here, however, he encountered a problem in discovering his space was restricted, his back pressed against something smooth and solid, the balls of his feet in the Namelesse predicament. This was certainly not his bed. The wash of water as he tried to move only further confirmed this to him.

The last remnants of oblivious sleep were torn away and a barrage of information assaulted him. The chill on his bald head, the tickling of water on the back of his neck, the moisture on the air that he drew in and the slight metallic taint on his tongue. This last clue was the killer; it chuckled as it danced away with his ignorance and reminded him who he was. Jimmy squeezed his eyelids tightly together, pleading denial, before slowly peeling them open. A red, weeping handprint on a pure white tile. The image held a sense of foreboding which raised its voice in harmony with the gap in his recollection to beg him to close his eyes again. However he’d already been gripped by that too familiar fascination, the one that, shamefully by side effect, had him keep count of his sins over the explosive years. It was within this fascination’s grasp in which he lowered his muddy brown eyes to the pink water in which he lay.

Cutting off a curse he seized the sides of the tub and damn near leapt from the water, seizing the basin as he landed on the tiles to prevent himself slipping on the greased surface. He didn’t need to puzzle over what had dyed the water, he knew with a certainty that it was the Namelesse substance which marked the wall and slicked the surface beneath his feet. It was the taste of which that had roused him. Shuddering, from more than the cold, Jimmy tried not to think about what was coating his body and instead seized a white towel from the silver rack on the wall, wrapping it around himself. It was not without recognising the irony that he unlocked the bathroom door before turning the knob and stepping out into the hallway.

He found himself beside the front door and the temptation was there to run from the room in nothing but his towel. However the suspicions that would arouse were unlikely to yield a positive outcome, it was therefore best he found some clothes. If he satisfied the nagging curiosity at the Namelesse time then so be it, he refused to admit it was the primary concern. There was a wide arch before him which led, from what he could see of the sofa, to a sitting room, however from here it appeared to be empty and the deathly quiet seemed to confirm it. Tread soft; though he was unsure as to why, he instead first crept to the door to his right. It rested ajar, inviting him, it was an invitation he did not trust, not least for the silence inside his head, but one which he could not resist.

Pushing the door gently open his eyes were immediately drawn to the pale figure stretched across the bed. He retreated sharply, finding the corner beside the door and leaning into it, fighting back the gag reflex. He’d seen worse scenes before but he’d always been a spectator at the preshow, they’d not held the Namelesse shock effect. A faint ding shattered his stupor and he looked up sharply to the front door as he heard voices beyond it. He was in a hotel. How hadn’t they heard? He knew had much Hyde loved to hear them scream. Pushing away from the wall he turned and looked once more through the door, this time with more pity than revulsion. She must have been gagged. The least he could do was cut her loose.

Striding through to the sitting room with purpose he had to admit the second victim caught him by surprise. He came to a sudden halt, staring at the corpse tied to a chair in the centre of the room. At least he assumed it was a corpse, the amount of blood soaking into the carpet around it seemed to suggest as much. A knife lying within the perimeter of the pool caught his attention which was immediately stolen by the arrangement of extremities beside it. Jimmy had screamed a good many times as a grown man, but not in a number of years. He had started to think he was completely desensitised to situations like this, it was almost a relief to discover he was not as he choked on the scream to keep it down with the bile that was once again threatening to rise. Prying his eyes from the gruesome, smiling face he paced slowly over to the man, he now knew without doubt that this victim had been male, though he’d assumed as much from the fact he wasn’t naked. Despite a lack of any other boundaries Hyde was distinctly homophobic.

Plucking the knife from the floor he backed away several paces before spinning round and returning quickly to the bedroom. With apprehension in his throat he walked hesitantly to the bed and reached out to touch a bare ankle, relieved to find it frigid cold. He cut the rough rope and curled the corpse on its side, peeling the tape away from the mouth, all the time trying not to look at what had been done. His worthless act of charity complete he found his clothes folded unusually neatly on the dresser and dressed with mounting anger at the silence in his head. He didn’t know how the bastard had done this but he had no doubt it was him.

He closed the hotel room door firmly behind him and strode briskly to the elevator, jabbing at the button with venom. The doors pinged open a second later and Jimmy stepped inside. As he turned to face the door he caught the eyes of a gentleman hurrying to catch the door and shook his head slowly. The faltering in the suited man’s step at this sight was enough for the door to slide closed, leaving Jimmy in solitude. It seemed he found himself on the 18th floor of a quite fancy hotel. This assumption had been arrived at from the standard of the rooms, the apparent calibre of the man he’d seen and the pretentious sound the lift made. In his jeans, army issue boots and leather jacket Jimmy must have looked rather out of place. God knows how he’d got in.

As the lift glided downwards their hand reached inside of the jacket and pulled out the tin always kept there, with increasing urgency a roll up was retrieved from inside of it and placed swiftly between their lips, a muffled bang inside the shelter of their hands lighting it with minimum fuss.
”You are still there then.” He mumbled before they drew in a deep, burning breath and held it until the elevator doors opened. He stepped out into the lobby and strode across with hurried steps toward the door.
”Excuse me sir, you can’t smoke in here.” Jimmy held up a hand to the disapproving voice and a moment later they passed out of the front doors, taking a right.

’Bike keys are in our pocket.’ Gritting their teeth Jimmy pinched the cigarettes between his thumb and forefinger, blowing out a plume of smoke.
”Maybe you can tell me something I don’t already know, like where the f*ck*ng bike is, or why the hell I don’t remember where the f*ck I am.” He scowled at a passing woman who was looking at them like they were insane. Fancy that.
’Did J get a bit of a nasty surprise?’ The mocking tones were there but weak and there was a nervousness beneath it which sent chills down their spine. Hyde never sounded nervous.
”You think this is funny? It’s not a joke! What the f*ck did you do?!” They’d come to a standstill in the middle of the sidewalk and were drawing more than the one look now. With a gentle prodding from his mind he began to walk again.
’It wasn’t me J.’

Jimmy laughed; a choking, humourless chuckle which rattled with the revenge of a thousand cigarettes.
’Try another one; I know your handiwork when I see it.’
’I know it looked like me, I think it was meant to… I don’t remember it either… I think we were framed.’ This time there was no helping it. They stopped again and bent over double, choking a laughing at the Namelesse time, their throat aching.
’We’ve been branded a f*ck*ng terrorist, they’ve got more evidence against us then f*ck*ng ONamelessa! Why would anyone want to frame us?”
’That’s selfish thinking J,’ His alter ego mocked, ’think about it, maybe we’re covering up someone else’s crime?” He did think about it. Hyde couldn’t hide anything from him for long, they were in each others head. What he was saying was true.

So what then, what do we care, just one more crime. You’re not looking the whole picture… Welcome back doc.’ The sarcasm was worth of Snark. What you should be asking is not who did it but why we don’t remember.’ They turned into the carpark at the end of the road.You reckon they drugged us? Or something else, people explode, fly, make ghosts of themselves, why not take memories too?’ They stopped in front of a familiar red bike. So we should find out who did it?’ They nodded.Before they do it again.

Rubble crunched beneath heavy black boots, grinding like broken bones. Nameless came to a halt on the edge of the plot which used to boast the towering structure of Building 26. However the skyline had been altered, deprived of the once solid block which instead lay broken at the soldier’s feet, a pile of twisted metal, fractured stone and shattered glass, spreading out from the crippled foundations. Few bodies lay in the ruin, buried deep and unquestionably deceased, most had time to escape. It was a pity; at the very least this could have been a convenient disposal rather than a total waste. No one but conspiracy nuts would even dare consider that this destruction could have been the fault of the government, not when ‘terrorists’ were involved. The common enemy united the people; unfortunately they were unaware of the true threat. Though in his mind terrorists and these ‘evolved humans’ were not two separate things so it made little difference. Unfortunately the freaks had not only instigated the attack, they had also facilitated the escape of the rest of their kind who were imprisoned there. It left few mercies for Emile.

People swarmed over the wreck, dogs sniffing for life amid the corpses. Nameless was a single stationary figure amongst the rescue effort; it held little meaning to him now. He felt very much like the Captain who should have gone down with his ship. He should have defended the headquarters to the end, been there when the explosion tore through it and reduced it to dust. But he hadn’t been, he’d not been there at all, he’d rushed back at the news of the assault only to find the smoking carcass, the clean up already beginning. It wasn’t just a matter of the skip and the diggers which rumbled past, the government were trying to make out like the whole operation had never existed. They’d tried to tackle the mutant threat with kid gloves and red tape, ignoring his warnings. Then when the freaks bit back the bureaucrats ran scared like they always did. Abandoning their troops to their own accountability whilst they tried to make the big scary problem disappear.

The whole thing had been an embarrassment. It turned out the figurehead of the operation not only had a family full of them but he was one himself. Nameless knew there had been a reason he’d never really trusted the man. What sort of conspiracy was this anyway?! Nameless was all that was left now, last man standing. The politicians would probably want him to vanish too. Well he would, before they could get to him. Whether they would just demand a signature or use a more definitive method to ensure his silence, he wasn’t planning on making it easy for them. He’d had enough of being under the government’s thumb, having them watch and criticise his every move. They didn’t seem to realise that only when he did things his way was any progress made. It was because of him that they’d captured all those ‘special’ people. It was because of the government they’d been alive to be freed and cause this destruction.

That was why this time he was going to do it all his way. He wasn’t going to shuffled back off into the shadows and be forgotten, he didn’t have anything to go back to. Not only had they taken his family but now they had taken his career. He doubted he would going to be given any position of authority in the services following this fiasco, and arguing about whose fault it was wasn’t going to change that. No, he was on his own now; it was just him and his vendetta. He’d gotten so close to what he wanted, getting rid of those freaks, he’d even thought the government was on his side. They’d given him finances, effective weapons and men, good men who’d lost their lives to this cause. Well now he was going to make use of all that, there were survivors, there were supplies at the warehouse, he had even made it a priority to withdraw the cash before they took it back. And best of all there was the laptop, the laptop to which he’d downloaded their database, just in case…

A smile crawled across his pale face as he turned his back on Building 26 and strode away, rucksack on his back and case tucked under his arm. This was when it began.


It was a room which uninvited. The blank walls stared at him accusingly, the smell of drying, white paint suggesting a cover up. The grey curtains across the window cast a suspicious light over his activities, occasional breezes through the crack he’d left it open stirring them to intrude chimes of warming sunlight into the cold room. Paying them no mind Emile sat crossed legged on the hard, rough floorboards. It was unusual pose, one that reminded him of a childhood long since lost, of school days and Chinese burns. That he could still adopt the position was somewhat of a comfort however, the years had not yet caught up to him. It was not for nostalgia or sense of achievement for which he took up this pose mind you; the simple explanation was that there was not yet any furniture in the three room apartment. With the exception of the bathroom it was bare, no fridge nor table, no wardrobe or bed. Just a sleeping bag in the corner of one room, a couple of bags, empty paints tins and rollers and the laptop on the floor in front of him.

Even for Nameless this could not really be considered an abode. He was not a man who insisted on many luxuries but even he could not pretend this was a suitable place to live. The advantage of it had been that the landlord took his false name, measly amounts of rent and swore on his mother’s life that ‘there ain’t no rats.’ In exchange the soldier had received this blank canvas with what had previously been a filth ridden bathroom, a floor you could black your face with and walls suffering a severe case of floral wallpaper. He had cured that within a 24 hours hard labour however and was now satisfied with the multiple exits from the room, the vantage point over the street below and the secluded location. All he needed to do was furnish it with a mattress, a couple of desks, chairs, whiteboards and one hell of a lot of pins. It would have been nice to obtain a fridge and a stove however the budget had to be saved as much as possible and they weren’t essentials.

As the laptop finished loading Nameless returned his attention to the bright screen, at least this place had electricity and plug sockets not deemed a health hazard. Launching a data storage program he had stolen from the government (they could consider it his payoff) his fingers hovered over the keyboard. He longed to begin tracking them down, picking them off one by one. But he knew he wasn’t ready, no doubt he could get a few of them but he wasn’t looking for the scraps, he wanted the big fish, Sylar, the Petrellis. He typed in a name from his memory and stabbed at the enter button, the green and black immediately bringing up all the information he could require alongside a picture of the man who’d been occupying his thoughts almost as often as those freaks nowadays. The Building 26 database had not just held the contents of all Mr Bennet’s ‘SHIELD’ files, the Homeland Security employment records were here too and they were a perfect place to start when seeking out recruitment.

This particular individual had caught Nameless’s eye from the very start for the promise he’d shown. He’d had a career that came with warning tags, use of excessive force and risk taking were tagged in his private file, for Nameless these were the ear marks of a good agent. It suggested that the man would do anything to get the job done. On top of this, and the reason he’d originally requested the man for Bulding 26, this individual had learnt of specials before the project began. It was an impressive accolade to have taken down a pyrokinetic singlehandedly with nothing but a fire extinguisher and a garden hose. The thought of it brought a grim smile to Nameless’s face. During his time working under Nameless he’d continued to impress, being part of one of the most successful teams and one of the few who had failed to bring in all of their suspects alive. How convenient it had been to put their deaths down to ‘resisting arrest’. There was an address beneath the name and a couple of phone numbers and known email addresses. It was a shame that the man had died but Nameless had always considered his death had been a little too certain considering the lack of a body...

He pulled up his email and typed a simple message.
'ND. Job? ED'

The apartment was beginning to take shape, it didn’t quite have that official ring to it yet but that would come with time, information gathering and some squiggles on the whiteboards. There were 3 whiteboards in total; two large ones along the longest wall, positioned end to end and another smaller one on the wall opposite. The rest of the wall space was swiftly being covering, revealing the reason he’d used the cheapest paint he could find since very soon it would not be visible. A large map was the biggest and brightest feature; it focussed purely on the U.S. for now, though transcending international borders certainly wasn’t off the table. The pins had already started going in; each had a number which corresponded to those on the wall opposite the window, where the front door was. This was the ‘messiest’ of the walls, though the order to the chaos of pictures and papers was obvious. Beside each number was a picture of a target, their basic details and a list of their known locations and contacts. The scattering of documents on the floor at its foot made it clear that it was a work in progress, though there were already many faces.

The click of a lock drew the attention to the door and held it as the noise was followed by the disengaging of a multitude of different security measures. Nameless was under no pretence that the door would stop even half the people he was going up against, they’d probably just go through the wall, but if it stopped the other half, the local thugs and any intruding authorities then it was good enough. He stepped inside his apartment with a grocery bag tucked under one arm, key held in the other. The door was swiftly kicked shut behind him with a heavy boot and he left the shopping bag on the floor in order to turn the various keys and draw across multiple bolts. It was a nice heavy door, and since he’d reinforced the hinges on the other side he knew it would pose more than a pickle for anyone normal trying to break in. They would be better off coming in through the windows, though unless they could fly, unfortunately a very real possibility, they would have trouble on that front, Nameless’s escape route was for getting out, not in.

The room secure the Hunter retrieved his shopping, the weight of which seemed to give him a surprising amount of difficulty, and carried it over to one of the desks against the wall near the window. To his left was the door into the small but functional bathroom, to his right the bedroom, it almost earned this name now, having benefitted from the addition of a mattress. As he’d left them both doors were shut. His laptop was already set up on the desk nearest his bedroom, the screen blank but a little green light blinking, it was on this Namelesse desk that he had set down the bag. Tucking his keys into the pocket of his leather jacket he moved to the window, parting the newly instated blind in order to peer down at the street below. His hard gaze tracked a single passerby out of sight before he withdrew and turned his attention back to the groceries.

Reaching into the bag he pulled out a banana and an apple, both of which were placed on the desk for absence of a fruit bowl. Reaching back in he pulled out a Glock handgun, more than a few cartridges, and a silencer which took their places next to the fruit. Next emerged plastic wrapped sandwiches, claiming to be ‘Fresh BLT’, which were followed by a carton of orange juice and a random tin of baked beans. The bag was folded and carried to the bedroom along with the firearm and paraphernalia. It had been incredibly easy to get hold of this particular item without having to fill in any paperwork, and far easier to conceal than some of his recent purchases. The bedroom into which Nameless stepped was unlike any other. It too had a window on the wall to the left of the door. The other two were paint blank white but were far from featureless.

Secured to two of the four walls were black hooks, at present they were sporadic, though there was a pile of unfasten ones in the corner. Upon these hooks rested Nameless’s numerous acquisitions. Handguns, shotguns, rifles and Building 26 specials, though pride of place was the sniper rifle he’d managed to get his hands on. The collection was far from complete; he was yet to obtain those military babies. He was on the right track however, his counter terrorist work coming in handy since it was the arms dealers who sold to the very people he’d once hunted who he was hoping to trade with. The notion did somewhat turn his stomach; they were scum, betraying their own country for greed. However priorities had to be kept in mind and in his those he was tracking posed far more of a threat than any man with a bomb.

After placing the new find into its cradle on the wall he moved back through to the other room and sat on the hard backed chair in front of his laptop. Before he’d been interrupted by his ‘meeting’ he’d been tracking down the next potential member of his team. Unlike Donovan this man, to his knowledge, had never before encountered specials, he’d not been a part of the Building 26 fiasco, it was doubtful he even knew about it. He was known to Nameless through reputation and a brief encounter about 6 years ago during a counter-terrorism operation. Though on the Namelesse side they were with different organisations, this man was CIA whereas Nameless had already been Homeland Security. He’d come across as a focussed and determined individual with an impressive kill record. He’d been one of the people considered when recruiting had taken place for Building 26, however, according to government intelligence, the man had since gone into mercenary work. This wasn’t looked upon well and the government was in fact attempting to gather evidence against him, though thus far they seemed to have been unsuccessful at even tracking him down.

Unpeeling the banana Nameless typed in the password to his computer with one hand, revealing the Namelesse page he’d been regarding before. It was a news story (admittedly the channel to which the site and story belonged was not particularly esteemed, he’d never even heard of ‘Making Headlines!’) about a criminal who had been murdered following his escape from justice due to a technicality. There was no doubt in anybodies mind that he’d been guilty of the murder of that woman and her daughter and there was no doubt in Nameless’s that the father had been responsible for the alternative form of justice. However he didn’t think he’d done it himself, it had been too clean, professional. What had really drawn his attention however was the speculation Making Headlines! had made. They claimed that the killer had been seen walking away from the scene and that he’d been wearing a distinctive pair of tinted sunglasses. The claim seemed entirely baseless but the description of the glasses was very familiar and right now it was all Nameless had to go on. The crime had taken place that very morning. If Nameless Alexander had been responsible then Nameless knew just where to find him.


The sun cast a divine glow on an idyllic setting. The lawn in central park was lush green and overflowing with joyful voices and the laughter of the children who played there. Framed by trees it acted as a haven in the centre of the city, somewhere to escape the urban bustle and enjoy a game of baseball, lose yourself in the pages of a book or just to sit an absorb the pleasant warmth of sunlight. It was a rose tinted place where the American dream could be believed. A place of freedom in the midst of one of the top financial centres in the world, a beautiful park surrounded by mighty buildings with their heads in the clouds. Girls skipped past in pigtails and boys charged around with scabbed knees, all in ignorance of the lurking danger that undermined scene. Fortunately for them a man with a gun was concealed beneath the trees, only too prepared to protect them from their ignorance.

Nameless sat back into the embrace of tree roots, leaning against the trunk of one of the perimeter trees. He blended in perfectly with the U.S. populace in jeans and grey t-shirt, the black jacket at his side covering the handgun nestled in the grass. He wore a baseball cap to conceal his conspicuous, skeletal skull and this shielded his eyes from the dappled sunlight which made it through the leaf canopy. It allowed him to better see the screen on his laptop, which rested on his knees. His finger glided across the touchpad in a leisurely manner as he browsed though the records of his old operation. It might have been the weather though it was more likely to have been his recent successes in the city, but he didn’t feel the Namelesse manic fury as he looked upon the faces of Petrelli, Sylar and Doyle. It had been replaced by a satification that his plans were falling into place and a singular thought.

‘I’m coming to get you.’


New York had, thus far, been a resounding success. He’d come here to recruit two men, one of whom he’d had to find first and spring from a police station. It had been a walk in the park. He’d chosen well, neither had shown any reservations and both were now awaiting his order. He just had to hope that his third pick was just as successful, this one was rather a wild card. Thoughts turning from targets to teammates the soldier minimized the profile of an invincible blonde teenager and instead loaded up his browser, his computer connecting via satellite. However as he was typing in the web address he sought he became aware of someone approaching. He allowed one of his hands to drop into the grass near his jacket but kept his gaze determinedly fixed on the computer screen as a pair of shoes stops in the corner of his vision.

”Excuse me sir, a minute of your time to fill out a short questionnaire on public awareness of healthy and safety in the park?” Nameless said nothing, but his hand rose from the grass, reaching out and receiving the clipboard thrust into it. As the man walked away he brought the clipboard to his lap and turned his eyes down to it, pulling out the file sandwiched inside. He’d stumbled across his third potential recruit within a news story, the circumstances had somewhat caught his interest. After conducting his own research he’d asked an old contact to do some more in depth fact finding. This was the result.

Opening the file he took out the photo clipped at the front, studying the grizzled face for a moment. He put it aside and began flicking through the information. This man was a soldier like himself; at least he had been before some unfortunate incident had befallen him. His career had been successful, if not decorated, but he’d recently become unemployed. Nameless had already been aware of this; it had in fact been a news article mentioning this which had caught his attention, though it had been the reference to mind readers which had really caused him to pause. He had come across a urban soldier who shared his hatred of these mutants. As he found a list of addresses and phone numbers he smiled to himself.

He was going to Finland.


It was with some easing of tension that Nameless had swept away the fine, undisturbed powder at the foot of his door and beneath the windows. He couldn't help thinking that they were going to find him, and by them he referred to the sort of people who could have flown up to the 4th floor his apartment occupied. There was no plausible way that they could know he was here; no one knew where he was, but these people weren’t plausible. They broke all the rules, they were unnatural, abominations. No one was safe from them, not even their Hunter, the knowledge kept him on his toes. He almost hoped they would find him, however, Donovan had reminded him how sweet revenge could be and he was impatient to continue his task. But it was important he tracked them down, not the other way round, since the predator could so easily become the prey.

Depositing the dust in a bin bag beneath a desk he swept his eyes over the new layout of his apartment turned headquarters. He had decided that the old arrangement was too open and inefficient. He’d purchased a stand alone board to free a wall from the map and removed one of the whiteboards, moving the two that remained to the opposite wall and positioning the map to face them, enclosing a workspace off to one side of the front door. Behind the map and opposite the door a block of filing cabinets, stuff with files on dangerous individuals, parted the room. They were high enough to offer protection to those behind him but not so much that aim couldn’t be taken over them, should it come to that. Throughout the room there were clear lines to the escape routes and also clear work areas. The enclosed space to the left of the door for instance was perfect for planning, the map on one side, the wall of targets on another and the two blank surfaces for notes and plans to be scrawled.

Very soon the room would be cramped, full of lethal weapons with dark intentions. The three prize members of his team – Alexander, Donovan & Virtanen – had been recruited and now Nameless had filled up the other positions. He’d needed a force small enough to go unnoticed but large enough to pose a credible threat to the population of those freaks. Five further agents brought their numbers up to 9, an acceptable number. His starting point had been the surviving agents of Building 26, many of them had unfinished business with the species which had killed their friends and brought failure upon them. Two of the team – Collins & Thompson – were ex B26, Scott was ex FBI and Garcia & Richardos were mercenary types from much shadier origins. All of them had demonstrated their expertise in the field and they all appreciated the nature of the threat they were facing. The last thing Nameless wanted was a man at his back hesitating to shoot.

In comparison, to finding the first three, the other members of his team had been simple to track down. However the extra time he’d spent on Alexander, Donovan & Virtanen had been worth it. Although a bit lippy at times Alexander was usually incredibly professional, he’d accepted the existence of specials very quickly and with some firm direction had also acknowledged his position in the group below Nameless. He had confidence that Alexander could lead one of the small taskforces he would be sending out. Donovan was a contrast; although he did seem to love the sound of his own voice he didn’t make the Namelesse attempts to get chummy. He was probably the most passionate of the team, his dedication to the eradication of mutants possibly matching Nameless’s own. This was the man he’d trust above any other to get the job done; moral conflicts were not an issue. Virtanen was again unique. He was far more volatile than the others but he too had passion, whereas Donovan’s would ensure they never gave up Virtanen would keep them moving a pace. His anger burnt as fiercely as his new leader’s.

Overall it was a formidable group, soon to be a close knit unit. The weaknesses of Building 26 had been hewn away to leave this lean force which had no boundaries or restrictions. There were no lengths to which they would not go to protect their country and eradicate the threat. Smiling at this thought The Hunter stepped through into the bedroom turned arms room and lifted a handgun from the wall. He took his time to load it, looking through the slits in the blind as he did so. They were out there and they had no idea what was coming for them.


Max made his way down the street casually, pacing himself so he would reach the house just before the kids coming down the sidewalk behind him. His timing had to be careful so he didn't look like a predator nor anyone people in the neighborhood would find suspicious. In one hand he carried a city map and in the other a piece of paper with the address on it. Having already checked this out in advance he was fairly sure he could get done what he needed to. Four latch-key kids at home by themselves? No contest, especially after the surprise he was going to give them. Half way down the street he glanced over his shoulder covertly and spotted the teens making good progress his direction and smiled, changing his pace not a bit as he had judged correctly. Arriving in front of the house he paused, checked the address, and then walked up and rang the doorbell.

Being they were older, they were more mistrustful and closed about strangers, but he had the card which worked against that easily enough. By the time the boys were close enough to see him he was standing there, clearly trying to decided whether to wait around or not. The twelve year olds approached, warily but protective about 'their' territory. and challenged him. "Hey, what cha' doing?"
"Looking for Jamie Winters, this is her house, isn't it?"
"She's at work."
"Oh? You guys her sons?"
"Yep, why? Can I take a message for her?"
"Nope, I was looking for you four actually."
-surprised looks, silence for a minute-
"Who are you? What do you want?"
"My name is Ron Travers." -sees the realization in their eyes- "Yeah, I think I'm your father. I just wanted to ask you to make sure."
"Where the h3ll have you been?!" said one angrier then the others off the bat.
"Government facility in Africa, they wouldn't let me out or send mail. Big project and I didn't know your mother had had you guys. " Held up a small light in his hand a portable black light and not something they would have probably seen before.
"Why should we believe you about any of this? Mom said you were dead."
"Well it kept you from asking questions, now, didn't it? She always was smart like that. One look at any of your shoulders with this and we'll know if you are mine or not. If not, then we're clear and I'll leave. Got it?"
"What is that thing?"
"I have a genetic tattoo on my shoulder, only shows up under a special light. If you are my kids, you have them too. Won't take a second, easy peasy to see. I'll show you mine first, how about that?"
-very hesitant answers as they know they are not supposed to let anyone inside nor talk to strangers-
"Look guys, this doesn't take but a moment but i don't want to do it out here on the street either. If you're clear I'll be out of your hair, if I'm not...well you have questions right? I'll answer some of them for you I suspect."
-grudging acceptance, not many options-
"Um...Just for a minute then."

Once they let him in the door as he put the map in his bag, he dropped it on the floor by the door and sat on the couch, slipping out of his shirt, his good muscles and fine upper body drawing the boys anyway who half-hoped they had the Namelesse genes for that alone. "Okay, who wants to hold the light? You? Okay, what's your name?" "Michael. How's it work?" Max showed him, touching him with his hands as he did and knowing already this was one of his. So far so good. "Now, pass it over my right shoulder on the back." There was a gasp from one and all four got much closer. Comments like "Whoa!" and "That's freaking awesome!" "Dude! We have those?" He smiled; trap set, bait taken. "Yep, if you let me see your shoulders I'll show you in the mirror, okay?" In short order all four had their shirts off, reluctance out the window and lined up, pushing to be first, Max turned each boy so he could see in the mirror in the hall, then the mirror he had one of them hold up while he played the light over each one's shoulder.

As he did so he got multiple chances to rest a hand on each boy's shoulder and slowly add in the open door 'code' in his mind into theirs. It was a genetic trick like the programmers used where they always had a secret way that was easy to use for them to get into their coding and control it. He put the Namelesse in each kid he upgraded, meaning if he touched them they would recognize him and be open to anything he wanted to do, wouldn't resist him or fight. Handy thing, wish he had known about it a generation earlier, but it eliminated resistance once he got in and right now they were offering him their bodies for him to show them stuff. Even before they knew they had their own power. Over the next hour he showed them things they could do and the corresponding tricks on his body etc. By then they all had the code implanted and he left promising to return in a day, but not to go all nuts about it. Might be they could surprise their mom with his arrival.

So easy.

That night around eleven, he re-approached the house in a much more stealthy manner to the front door. They had shown him by their entrance it was a simple lock security, no alarm. He picked the lock and entered quietly. Upstairs he checked the doors and found two boys in bunk beds in one room. Sitting beside one he placed a hand on his forehead and began to update him in his sleep, the boy not waking or offering any resistance. It was similar to the instincts with a parent, but it was from an animal actually, where the adults could cause the kids to freeze easy enough with just a touch, an instinct thing keyed to him specifically. Over the course of the next four nights, he upgraded each boy spending several hours at a time doing so. When he was done he knew their powers were activating very soon, their testosterone would be as well, and they had a full set of his currently favored biological enhancements. And that was that. With luck they would have early families with LOTS of kids and the plan would continue to expand on it's own from there. Specials would survive the natural disasters of the earth and become the next species and his little experiments would be the leaders of the world in that regard since normal humans had little chance to survive what was coming.
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PostSubject: Re: Striving for Perfection part 3 -training-   Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:35 pm

Satisfied, he left them asleep, not concerned with their wondering about him as it was about to be replaced with some other distractions -- they would soon forget about his visit with those happening inside of them. Max caught a taxi across town to the home of another set of teens and began his preparations for contact there.

Max was irritated in the extreme.

He was not an action person and rarely had to go to these extremes, but now that she had refused contact he found himself in a spot he had to make a move. Damn the woman! He needed the contact to disappear, especially at the rates the man charged which were fantastic for workmanship. Unfortunately he didn't do it for just anyone, but he owed one of Max's old girlfriends a big favor and he had to get her to call him up for Max. With her resistance that only left one method left to use and he despised her for putting him in that spot. So darkness found him stepping off the street, making his way from one backyard fence to the next, slowly approaching his target. He moved effortlessly, stealthy quiet as only a cat really could, smelling the wind, watching the movements and freezing in different places along the way. After an hour it was approaching midnight and he sat in her backyard watching the two girls as they sat on the porch talking softly to each other. Twins and as pretty as their mother was at their age and he was proud of their good looks; they would easily full-fill his genetic goals.

Approaching would be difficult however as he had to touch their skin to be able to use his back-door. The back-door was similar to programer's habits of putting in a code which let them get in and have control over their own creations easily and was hidden from other's use. When he had upgraded the girls last year he had added it as with all his kids as a backup in case any of his children began to resist his goals. More of a backup just in case; he didn't expect much trouble. These two, however, disliked him for the way he had treated their mother, leaving her alone with twin girls. For that reason he couldn't approach openly and expect to get anywhere with them so it demanded a trick. They would really be mistrustful of him after this, but he was going to disapear for a few years so it should be okay. Their mother called out something from inside and one of the girls got up and went inside while the other turned around to watch through the door. Before she turned back around he was across the yard in a moment and around the corner of the building from her, his own scent blanked out earlier by a concentrated effort. He listened carefully and heard no startled sounds or changes, just conversation through the screens.

Perfect.

Out of his pocket he pulled the twist ties and the two ball gags. This was going to be tricky enough without them having movement as well. He stood there a full minute and heard one of the twins come back out and sit down. She said something soft to her sisters, but then he was listening to the sounds inside as the noise in the kitchen stopped and moved to another part of the house. Good. Max edged to the corner and looked around at them, seeing they were both looking into the yard and not behind the edge of them. Silently but quick, he took the four paces over to them and slapped a hand down on each's face, grasping their chins almost in unison. The instant struggle as each saw the hand coming down was over before it got underway and both girls relaxed completely at his touch. Leaning down while looking into the house's door he said softly "Good girls. Now do exactly as I tell you and no harm will come to you or your mother. I'll be in and out of here in ten minutes if she is reasonable and, well, with you on the line she would be wouldn't she?" He chuckled, tension running out of his system now that the targets had been taken. To the oldest (by two minutes) he said "Take off your shirt without dislodging my hands and put these in your hand." Shirts blocked his power and with her shoulder's bare it would be far easier to keep a grip on them both.

In a few minutes both had their shirts off, gags in place, and one sister fastened the ties over her sister's wrists, thumbs, and middle fingers effectively making her hands worthless for the time being. Telling her to go to sleep he waited till she was before he told her sister to turn over and tied her the Namelesse way. With both girls now effectively neutralized he turned her over and pulled a chair up between them both and reached in turning off the outside light. Sitting in the chair he put a hand on each girl's shoulder and sat there, checking over their bodies' DNA while he sat there, wasting time. He already knew he had done a good job with both sixteen year olds. They would be attracting boys like crazy probably in school with their scents and abilities. It was a few minutes (fifteen actually) before their mother came looking for them. She froze in the kitchen door staring at him as he said "Come closer Sharon and leave the light off. We need to talk." A few muttered curses did much to enlighten his mind to the folks she dealt with at work indeed. "You wouldn't return my calls so I thought I would have to escalate things a tad. I'd apologize, but I have no time to waste. I need your favor which Squint owes you. Get him to do my job for you and I walk away with no one changed. I swear, you won't see my for years if then, I have to disappear for a long time."

She looked at him with anger and a touch of fear. "Y-You can't hurt them. Their your kids..." He gave her a sad smile. "I won't hurt them, but i can turn their sex-drives up to full. You'll never be able to control them both enough to keep them from running away to make babies. They wouldn't be able to stop themselves. Make the call, Sharon, it's not only the easy way, it's the best thing for us both." She hesitated, her eyes growing wider. Then she stepped forward and looked at the girl's faces, seeing their peaceful faces asleep. "They can not resist me, Sharon, nor can you. I could be far worse, I'm trying not to be. Bring the phone out here and make the call, please. I only need to speak to him a second after you and then I'll be gone and you will not have to deal with me again, I promise." She stared at him for a second, trying to figure out what had changed, who he had become and then, defeated, went inside for the phone which she brought back. As she stood there, the number ringing she stared at him and he could feel disgust at his own actions in her eyes as well as in his mind. She made the call and after telling Squint how much she needed that favor and needed it for Max now. When she sounded like she had convinced him she held out the phone and he stood taking his hands off both girls and taking the phone, stepping away from them. He spoke for a second, telling the man how many passports he needed and the name variations for two people.

When he finished he turned it off and set the phone down on the outside table. Surprisingly, Sharon was standing next to him looking at his eyes. Straight forward she said "What's wrong Max? What's happened? Are we in danger?" He did not reach out to touch her, but shook his head, feeling much better now it was all over. "No, they are after me. I won't work for them so they have an assassin out to get me. I have to leave, Sharon, and get far away. You and the girls are safe." He was aware then of both girls sitting up, heads turned and listening, gags gone. "I'm sorry, I couldn't wait to get your agreement. I'm glad you all have each other at least cause you don't want me around, I've never been good at the family thing anyway." Again, Sharon shocked him and hugged him, full of worry for....him. He could feel his eyes pop and it was a moment before he could awkwardly put his arms around her as well. "Be safe, Max, please." She released him first, damaging his own mental image of being the tough and smart one, compassion in her eyes he couldn't look away from. "Go, we didn't see you." Max found himself stumbling as he backed off, headed for the gate and the front yard.

It would be a long time before he forgot the looks on the girl's faces, the pity there for someone who was not part of the family, who was more stranger then father was something he would find himself awake in the middle of the night sometimes thinking about....


Austin walked into the bedroom and followed the green rainbow to the window sill. Pulling a chair over closer, he pulled himself up the bookcase one shelf on his sock feet and looked onto the window where a green shinng light reflected off the wall and part of the ceiling. There laid Fax, circled around like a cat with his head pillowed on his bushy tail, deep asleep. Tho he knew Fax would react whenever he wanted to be honest. Looking over the fox's green jade surface, light refracting as it touched his fur, he rested his arms on the sill, pillowing his head along his elbow and reached out, looking into Fax's face as he began running his fingers through the Fox's fur. In Austin's reality stone could feel like fur and move like it under her fingers like a real fox.

A pass or three and Fax stirred, shifting in his sleep to a growing smile of contentment on Austin's face. Eventually he rolled onto his back and Austin ran his his fingers into the chest fur, scratching at a favored place. Tho Fax said nothing, Austin's face broke into a rare grin; he knew what the fox was feeling. After a long moment of contentment from both, Austin retracted his hand and put it under him, holding himself up on his elbows to look out at the world through the window, Fax getting up and giving a good stretch and yawn in front of him. Sitting upright he watched with Austin for a moment, the sun glorious in the sunny clear sky. After a moment of quiet contemplation Fax said softly as always 'I spy something starting with S...'

Austin's brow furrowed for a moment as he looked without moving his head, trying to use his peripherals like the fox had been teaching him and spotted a small bird on a ledge across the way, nearly the Namelesse color as the building and only visible because it twitched. "Sparrow, 40 up, 130 across." The fox nodded once and Austin felt relieved, For the next twenty minutes they looked and spotted objects and creatures, all the way up till there was movement at the door behind him.


Austin stepped onto a chair and then a shelf, putting his arms up and supporting himself with his arms, looking out the window with a blank stare, no expression on his face, but eyes tracking everywhere. For twenty minutes he hung there and a nurse stepping in watched surprised for a few of them, noting how he had gotten there and wondered what was so interesting. After a few she went about changing his sheets and going into the bathroom to get his pj bottoms which he had left in there this morning. In a moment she was back and, with a smile, she walked to the door and opened and closed it to let him now she had entered and then walked over to the window. "Time for a nap, Austin, come along dear," and lifted him down. Austin put up no resistance, but held up his arms letting her pull his t-shirt off and then let her unfasten his pants which he stepped out of. Stepping into the pj bottoms, he waited as she pulled them up and then he went and climbed up on the bed. "Good boy! I'll be back in a little while, you just stay there till I get back."

As the nurse lifted him down, Fax hopped over onto the bed, circling to find a good spot and when Austin eventually climbed up onto the bed and laid down, Fax slipped under his arm, his head lying on his (Austin's) stomach, Austin's hand and arm over his body. 'Remember, keep your mind thinking about the meadow as you fade off,' to which Austin gave him a side-arm squeeze in response...

In a few minutes, Austin found himself in a half-snowed meadow, wearing no shoes, just his socks and pj bottoms, but he did not feel the cold. It was as if the cold did not matter at all and in Austin's reality it was not. He crouched in the snow on all fours and Fax, who was in his mind began leading him on a lesson, coaching him in how he moved, watched, and used his power to reach out, searching for the tiny spheres under the snow. He moved softly, slowly, jumping a few times till he was close enough and jumped, shoved his hand into the snow, and came out with a chipmunk by the tail, struggling and scrambling to get away. 'Good lad,' and he set it down letting it scramble off across the snow. They did this three times, Austin locating smaller and smaller spheres, his own personal way of seeing a creatures personal space as he thought of it.

He napped for twenty minutes, but hours passed in his dreams....


Austin woke slowly, feeling a great weight pinning him down. As he slowly opened his eye he found one hand felt free and wiped the sleep fron his eyes with the back of his hand, trying to wake up more. A yawn and then he realized what it was. Ubu had rolled over in his sleep pinning Austin below him. First he tried to wake him by saying his name, but the bear-cub was sound asleep as usual and he was a very deep sleeper indeed. Then he used his free hand to try and roll the bear off him but a kid with one arm pinned doesn't have much push power so it took several tries before he could wriggle out. He sat on the bed looking down at Ubu, still passed out and found himself smiling.

Sliding his butt around with his legs lifted, he put them over the side of the bed and walked to the bathroom, ignoring the fish hovering in the corner of the ceiling. When he was done and flushed, he stood on the stool to wash his hands and grab the towel then it was back to the bed. Outside it was still dark so going to sleep was logical. He didn't feel sleepy though. As he hesitated, standing next to the bed, he felt the familiar feeling of a cat brushing against his leg and bent down automatically to run his hand across her back. She rubbed again twice, then leaned her weight into him pushing him against the bed. He smiled and climbed back up.




Austin woke up with his stuffed animal on his chest instead of under his head. He lay there motionless looking at the ceiling for a minute before he rolled over out from under the toy and dropped to the floor. He went to the bathroom and returned in a minute, stopping beside the bed for a moment looking towards the window. The digital clock up on the wall said it was almost three am. After a moment of hesitation he climbed back up and ignoring the sheets, snuggled up with his head on Ubu again, this time facing the bottom of the bed.



But Austin was not trying to go back to sleep. He snuggled his head on Ubu's back where he had rolled over and set his mind to getting inside his friend's body. He had done this several times since Ubu taught him to. Bears were natural healers and could not explain how they did what they did, you had to just experience it. So Ubu had taught him how to sink in, to feel the heart beats and merge with him to follow how Ubu did it. For an hour he lay there, breathing with Ubu, feeling his heart match the pace, sinking deeper into meditation. It also helped with his mind, making him far more focused later when he woke, tho it never lasted a long time.


s Austin and Hamlet worked on his gift, another set of eyes watched from the corner. Often the midnight black cat wasn't noticed during play time and she was careful not to reveal her presence most of the time. Though the fox often knew she was there, the others were very distracted by Austin, the center of their universe. Bast also considered Austin extremely central to her life, but she had a different perspective. It was her job to keep him safe and teach him right from wrong, a very difficult task with an autistic boy. In fact, her very existence as a separate individual in Austin's mind might seem contradictory to her being in charge of his health and learning of morality, but she didn't choose her function either.

And while the others played games, interacted, and taught, she observed. She alone had influence with his power, using his luck against him as well as to his advantage, but he had proved stubborn. Not just because of his age, but because he didn't see the world the way others did and Bast was the bridge between two worlds. She had to understand the real world as well as his reality to know how to steer him to move through life. Which is why the guardians were so very necessary to his life, his future. Not only did they provide a good basis for human interaction as well as protection and new experience for the boy to work with, they also gave her the moral situations and daily life twists which enabled the boy to learn.

The power let them know who the next guardian would be.

This latest one was a worry however. It wasn't that he treated him badly or hurt him (in that he was careful as if dealing with a china doll so not so much issue there), but he didn't actually care for the boy as a human being. No the one named Donovan seemed to think of him as an important tool, a favored device which needed certain care to keep it functioning. Bast might be a part of Austin's reality and not a separate living being, but she understood nurturing and what it meant for children and parents both. The bonding was a good part of life, giving Austin a reason to seek out attention, to make the connection with humanity. This latest guardian didn't encourage that bond, didn't allow for it really and that made her a touch worried about his true intentions.

They all knew it wasn't going to be a long guardianship, not that they knew how long yet, but it had that feeling of temporary-ness which the others had not. At some point the man would either desert Austin somewhere along the way or try and kill him, that much was clear. At that point he was going to have quite a few unbelievable accidents, but that would play out later. No her concern was not for the guardian who was always like a child's phase of life; her concern was how Austin would take it and what he would learn from the man. He was at one of those crucial times in life where positive or negative reinforcement could change his entire future actions. He was more active and alive now then he had ever been before, not that the living saw that so much, but it had taken a lot of work to get him there.

So she watched while Austin played tag with Ubu in the hotel room and build a fort out of pillows, her nature warm and mothering, her eyes sharply thinking about what needed to be done to fix the situation.


Nameless woke and lay there, looking at the ceiling above his pallet. The light had not risen through the windows yet and that was good; he preferred waking with the dawn, but to beat it was a small victory in life. With a smile he wiped the sleep from his eyes and rolled out of bed going to his simple stove bath, starting a fire under the tub which he turned a faucet on. It was winter still and the pipes in the older building rattled before the water came out and began filling up the tub slowly as he rechecked the fire to make sure it caught, adding in more sticks slowly. When finished he turned off the water and left it to heat up as he slipped off his pjs and put on a simple cloth banded around his lower body leaving his limbs entirely free. he began his patterns, a forty-five minute series of tai chi stretches and movements which were second nature to his mind, but his body still was learning to deal with after two years. After all, it had flexibility and youth, not experience.

And funny enough, the old man had been better at it then the nephew. His nephew had been lazy in a way, not trying to keep up with the old ways and preferring the new world. Nameless had always felt they should be mixed, choosing just the things which made the world more convenient without giving up the meaning of life. By the time he finished, his young body was covered in sweat and shivering from the cold in this outer room. Picking up a towel, he stripped off the cloth and walked back into the bathroom where the heat was deliciously warm now and dropped the loincloth into the tub, the towel on a table next to it. Stoking the fire once more, Nameless got on the stool, and then slid into the tub which was filled with rather hot water now and a real shock of a sensation on purpose. In his homeland China he would have had to swim in the early morning chill and then experience a sweaty sauna as well to tough him up as a child; here he did as best he could. Using a sponge he scrubbed his skin clean as he could and then worked the cloth over a stone as well, cleaning it and hanging it on a wire above his head.

Standing in the tub he began to towel off, not wanting a complaint from his niece when she came to clean up water off the floor. That was, unfortunately, when the attack began. The door opened suddenly and a man dressed in white, his face covered, reeled into the room with a sword, spotting Nameless almost immediately and beginning a lunge. Nameless, bent at the waist as the sword sliced through the air where his chest had been and whipped out with the towel, striking directly into the man's throat making him gasp for air and fall backwards. Grabbing the tub side, Nameless leaped down as the man recovered his balance (sliding a few feet first awkwardly), a naked child against a full sized man still. It would have seemed laughable to an outsider watching, but neither opponents eyes showed amusement as they paired off and Nameless gave a slight head bow without taking his eyes off his opponents. The nod was returned and then the attack began again. A jab at his legs and he leaped up avoiding it and landing on the end of the sword, one foot on top of the other. He started to slide backwards because of his wet feet, but the sword was forced to hit the floor, the man stubbornly holding onto it. If he had let go he could have struck, but like most with a weapon he couldn't switch gears that quickly.

For several minutes the man struck at him with the sword and Nameless moved or bent out of the way of each blow as his training taught. He tried a few tricks of distraction, throwing off the man's aim and gaze, but it was just a feint and the man started to ignore those moves making the one-sided fight harder to keep going. Tai Chi is the art of wearing down your opponent while conserving your own strength by giving them nothing to strike and his skill was adequate enough to keep him alive for more then seven minutes at which point he detected fatigue starting to work on target who was using a heavy weapon. His enemy was also noticing the difference and becoming desperate to finish things off. For his own part, his wet feet and youth were both hampering and making his moves unpredictable and hard to counter. Nameless thought he saw fear in the man's eyes for what Nameless would do when he got the upper hand. Nameless spoke in Cantonese, an older dialect most Cantonese speakers had to pay more attention to telling the man if he surrendered his contract and gave himself up to Nameless's mercy, he would live. Foolishly, the younger man refused to listen, having been warned about trickery from this particular victim who had rumors of great power. Nameless spoke again this time in english "Take the offer. I will not give you your life a third time. You would be of far more use to me alive and well." For a second time the man shook his head and tried to take off Nameless's head, the blade coming within an inch of Nameless's nose as he jumped backwards, drawing the young man to move forward.

Snatching up the towel as he rolled to the far corner of the room, Nameless whipped it out like a lance as the man darted forward into the blow which took his right eye out in an instant, the bloody ball ending up on the floor near the wall. As the man grabbed for his socket in reaction, Nameless darted under his sword and through his legs causing the man to drop the sword as he reached with his other hand to grab him, bending over. Perfect. Nameless turned and jumped landing his weight into the man's rear causing him to stumble forward into the stove blindly falling forward. Face and hands grabbed the hot metal by instinct, weight preventing him from letting go quickly. He screamed as Nameless scrambled onto his hands and stood on them, his sixty pounds enough for the moment. In a few seconds the hands were burned enough to be temporarily useless as the pain flared and he kicked in the man's nose, weakly with his legs to be admitted, but still effective enough. Jumping away he got the sword and closing the door, grabbing the shutters coil plunging the room into darkness lit only by the small light from the damper. Sensing the end the man curled on the floor near the stove glancing around wildly at assumed movements, bleeding, his hands on fire and useless, and his face badly burned. From the darkness, the voice moving, came Nameless's voice, much colder then earlier.

"Weapons. A bad mistake to trust in a weapon, child." The man's good eye looked in the right direction, but with his depth perception gone he couldn't have made a correct guess on anything in these last moments. "As it is, the weapon is not properly made. In the old days there was only one way to correctly cool a hot blade from the fire. Shall I show you?" Before the man could speak the boy had shoved his weight behind the sword and driven it into the man's chest, correctly pin pointing the heart square in it's edge. A gasp, knowledge made aware in his eye, the boy Nameless looked into the one good eye his skin cast in red from the flames. "Xiao yang le ba, xiangjiao ren...." * As the man's last breath thudded in his chest, blood ran out of his mouth and down the blade as his heart stopped working. Nameless stepped back breathing hard and opened the shutters again, surveying the room with overturned tables and scattered items. Shaking his head at the waste he none-the-less stepped weakly to the door to open it and then got a second towel, stepping out to the mirror and checking himself for injuries as he heard footsteps running up the outside stair. He wrapped the towel around his middle as his nephew in law ran in and slid to a stop, looking at his uncle in surprise, maybe at seeing him so calm.

They spoke rapid Cantonese for a moment before the man could bring himself to look in the room and his skin blanched, blanching more as he realized who had killed the assassin. Nameless for one was bothered that even his own family was getting antsy him as if it had not been luck to some degree, not just skill and experience. Youth had kept his movements quick, but experience had made it a win. Still, a near thing if his opponent had been more experienced... At his uncle's commands, the body (sans sword which was stuck up on a rafter uncleaned) was wrapped in the bloody towel and taken to the roof access. dragging it quickly across to the next roof, they let it roll off into the street and retreated even as the noise of the landing on stones brought people awake. As his nephew brought him a new towel Nameless decided to bathe again to wash off the feeling of battle and the stench of death. Warned to be silent, his family helped him clean up the room first and light several incense to drive away the smells associated with what had happened.

In the street that morning as the local police were called, people were not fooled by the body placement since it was only one house away from the Cricket Boy's home. While the police would not make the connection to the foreigner's remains, the locals knew instinctively the boy had something to do with it and the signs were made again in the streets of Chinatown...

"Suck that, Banana boy."
Banana People' - Chinese living overseas who have lost any true Chinese trait. They are like bananas: Yellow (Chinese) on the outside while white (western) on the inside.

The western tie was annoying (even more so since it was a clip on, normal ties being too long for his short form right now), but necessary when dealing with westeners. It was nearly thirty minutes still till his appointment and he sat on the subway holding the handrail as they came into his stop, quite aware at the boy his age sitting down the side trying to catch his attention. He ignored the child who wanted to play a game and the man across from him kept looking between them wondering what was happening he was missing. Mildly amusing, but not worth the time trying to explain. As his stop came up he hopped down and made his way over to the door in that odd walk all common subway riders learn getting there ahead of a few others by simple youthful resilience and balance. An older, grey hair'd woman stood right behind him and he looked up at her saying "You can lean on my shoulder if you need to, Ma'am." Pleased she shook her head no, but as the doors opened and they got off, he watched for her to step down careful appearing to be a concerned grandson, though of the wrong ethnic kid. It drew attention as it always did when he was around.

Nameless ignored stares and made for the exit, trying to keep up with the foot traffic and having to hurry with his child's legs. Halfway to the stairs he skipped three times before he stopped himself, blushing and just jogged. Several people stared harder, never having seen a child blush because he stopped himself from skipping. He took the steps at a half-run to keep up and as he exited he turned right down the sidewalk. Eyes followed him down the sidewalk and as he passed an alley a man stepped out and grabbed his arm, receiving a foot in his knee slammed hard and unexpected. As he crumpled Nameless kicked football style into the man's groin and he collapsed where he was. Turning and continuing, Nameless picked up the pace a bit as people walked around the man ignoring the scene (though one cussed about not having his phone out filming cause it would have been a good youtube video); it was after all New York. Finding the sixteenth precinct, he turned in at the doors and joined the queue for the desk sergeant. The line moved briskly and in a moment the man was looking down at him with a frown. "You again, Laddie? Can you not stay away from this business?"

This got a smile from Nameless; the man had a good memory for faces, but steadfastly believed Nameless could leave things to the police. "Lieutenant Saber asked me to come in, Segregant, you wouldn't want me to disobey a detective now would you?" The man shook his head and motioned one of the officers going by with paperwork in his hands over. "Take this waif by Saber's office on your way up, Sinclair, save me calling up a rookie you would." The other laughed good naturedly and motioned Nameless to hurry. "Only cause you ask, Sergeant, and your wife's brownies are under lock and key," he said and Nameless heard the laughter behind him of others as the door shut and they went straight down the hall to the elevator. Taking it up to three, the man took Nameless to a hallway he was already familiar with and said "Fourth door on the right, you hear kid?" There were several policemen who did not believe, nor could, that he was an adult in mind at least and he had given up with some of them entirely so did not bother to correct the man. "I know the way, officer," as he went down to the door in question, feeling the eyes on his back. Nameless knocked and got a "Come!" and turned the knob and entered.

There were three men in the room, small tho the cramped office was. One was leaning on the window ledge, one was sitting in a chair and the other behind the desk leaning on it, piles of files all around him. "Ah, Ge Nameless! Thank you for coming down so quickly..." The Lt motionined him towards the empty chair and the only place left to sit in the room. The man at the window did give Nameless a small nod of greeting, his smile getting a bit wider as he saw some entertainment coming up. As Nameless leveraged himself up into the chair, sitting forward on the seat not near the seat back with his legs hanging down, the other man gave the Lt a mistrustful glance. "Nameless, you already know Detective Simpson, but this is Special Agent Richards of the FBI," Nameless nodded at the man politely and the man hesitantly nodded back, "This is Ge Nameless, one of the better in touch with comings and going in Chinatown. " The man's eyebrows went up and he sputtered "Excuse me? Is this a trick? A joke?" The seriousness, mixed with some amusement in the Lt's eyes as he held up his hand to stop the man's comments, had Nameless hard pressed not to smile himself and keep up his inscrutable features politely waiting.

"What can you tell me, Nameless, about the activities of one Wo Shing Wo?" As Nameless turned his look to the floor, the stranger flashed an irritated look a the Lt not happy about the group's name being given out to what appeared to be a child of the particular ethnic group he was after. After a moment, Nameless spoke and there was nothing child like about what he said, the seriousness in his eyes, not the solid sound to his information. "Wo Shing Wo is a criminal triad from Hong Kong who are settling in lower Chinatown right now. They have not started anything big yet, though there is a lot of coming and going from ship cargos to one of three different warehouses in the last month so something is in the works. Shu Tsai must be trying to gain a foothold in the Chinese underground." The agent's eyes widened as both of the other men watched his face, their own smiles showing their amusement at his shock. "They are originally from Canada but moved to Hong Kong in the 30s. I...think they have moved from drugs more into electronics from what i have heard, at least here, probably to avoid the other Triads in competition till they have a foothold." He glanced at the agent and smiled at his expression and said to him directly "Can you tell me, it's only a rumor...is it really the Wo Hop To branch?"

Hesitating, the man glanced at the Lt who nodded his assurances that it was safe to speak to him, the man licked his lips his eyes narrowing. "Possibly. We've gotten unconfirmed information about them." Nameless nodded and began to give the description of the warehouses, where they were basically and the three men listened carefully as the Lt scribbled some notes as the Agent became more and more convinced this was not only not a joke, but something real though it looked like something from a movie...

The door swung slowly open without a creek, barely even a whisper. It spilt a channel of amber light across the dark entrance hall, forcing the shadows to retreat. They watched from the edges of the room where they pressed against the wall as one of their kind loomed across the floor, swiftly followed through the door by its owner. With a breath the door closed once again and all was plunged into darkness. As eyes adjusted the blackness gave way to a shade of grey. Light penetrated through the gaps around the curtains to thwart the rule of total darkness. One shadow however was impenetrable and solid. It stalked across the room with muffled footsteps and after a moment hesitation approached one of the doors. A black gloved hand reached out to turn the handle and the door was pulled open just enough to be peered round with goggle masked eyes. Reassured the way was clear the shadow slunk into the darkness of the next room, leaving not a trace of his passing.

Max was navigating purely on instinct. They had been unable to easily locate any plans of the building he had broken into and could not afford to delay. Their assignment was becoming increasingly urgent to complete as it was drawn out and they could not afford for their suspect to move on again and putting them at risk of losing him. As it was the pair had, as yet, been unable to even confirm that the boy they were tracking was in fact their target. With growing frustration the pair had been forced to take a risk in order to make progress. Max had volunteered to break in to Micah’s hideout and seek evidence that he was the elusive R.E.B.E.L. If all went well they would be able to apprehend their target by the weeks end. Max hoped to return to headquarters with a willing new recruit, otherwise a less willing but equally cooperative prisoner. However he was a realist and he knew it all came down to how tonight went and that was partly dependant on fickle Lady Luck.

With heat detecting goggles Max checked each room before committing to entering. He moved quickly but with the upmost care, from their days of surveillance the partnership had found that there were several residents of the place, children and teenagers from what they had seen, all it was take was for one of these to get up for a midnight snack and the whole plan could be ruined. Quickly and he located the bedrooms, feeling it was here, in the more private spaces, that any evidence was to be found as it was becoming apparent that this was some sort of hostel. A vast number of the bedrooms were deserted and only earned a brief scan. However these glimpses helped Max build up a picture of where he was. The décor suggested to him that these were the havens of young people, some of which seemed to have left in a hurry. Belongings had been left behind in turmoil and the broken furniture he encountered in some rooms suggested there was a good reason for that. Max was a solider; he knew a scene of a fight when he saw one. Had he been taking any notice of his emotions this place would probably have given him the creeps.

Finally Max peered round a door to be met with the warm glow that indicated the first living being he’d encountered since entering the building. He froze in place, listening intently until he was certain he was hearing the rhythmic breathing of heavy slumber. Creeping round the door, eyes fixed on the hotspot, Max thought they seemed a little too small to be their target. Just to make sure he took two silent steps into the room and squatted down, lifting up his goggles briefly. It was less than a second before he was upright again and swiftly slipping out, that little girl was not Micah. He was in lucky however with the next room he tried. Looking at that little face locked into a little frown as the boy slept Max thought, just for a second, about how young he was and what they could be taking from him.

That thought aside Max began his search of the room. His goggles were against his forehead as the infrared they offered wasn’t good for this. Instead frail torchlight lit his way, though he had to be careful not to direct it at the boy or the door left ajar in case anyone emerged into the hallway. He could not help the slight scuffling of his footsteps on the floorboards despite the soft soles of his plimsolls but unless Micah was a very light sleeper the sound should not have disturbed his dreams. It was easy to find a promising lead, a laptop. If Micah was their target then he was a technopath so it made sense that he might store some evidence on his computer. Tucking the laptop under his arm Max exited the room, closing the door and making his way back to the bathroom he had passed earlier. The room had a lock on the door which made it the number one choice.

Taking a seat on the cold floor the soldier opened up the laptop, pressing the power button and waiting for it to load. His whole body was rife with tension, his posture erect and his eyes sharp, fixed on the glowing screen within the darkness. Had he been a hound his ears would have been erect as he listened for any movement in the hallway beyond the door. The computer loaded without a problem and with hardly a sound. Max had been concerned about password protection, he could have still attempted to hack into the files however it would have taken more time and the longer he was here the more likelihood there was of him being discovered. Micah was less cautious than expected however and Max was browsing his files in no time. It didn’t take long to locate what he was seeking.

A smile softened the man’s face as he regarded the file simply titled ‘R.E.B.E.L. Recruits’. It was almost too easy. Loading up the document he took note of the single name at the top, remembering it for later on when he reported back. He closed the file and powered down the laptop, sneaking back out of the bathroom only to freeze at the sound of footsteps coming down the hall. Nudging his goggles back down he slunk back against the wall as an orange blob shuffled towards him. He held his breath as the figure passed within a metre of him and into the bathroom, the light clicking on to cast him in sheer relief had he not vanished from the spot.

Max emerged from the building with relief, passing along beneath the amber glow of the streetlights, tucking away his balaclava and goggles within the pouch attached to the belt around his waist. From the Namelesse pouch he received a mobile phone, flicking it open and hitting speed dial. He had something to report.

Building 26 was dead.

Oh, it still lingered for the time being, but it was like an old man, bereft of effectiveness and vitality. No one knew this better than Nameless Donovan.

He wished, with all his heart, that it was not so. Dealing with specials was a job that had to be done. It was just that Building 26 didn't go about it the right way. It was doomed. There was just no way, not with all those specials gunning for it, that they could survive. They'd be lucky to escape with their lives.

But the problem of specials wouldn't go away. If anything, it would become worse. Unless... unless...

Nameless knew that what he was considering violated dozens of laws. Knew it was dangerous. Knew it would leave him a marked man for the rest of his life.

But it didn't matter.

Someone had to do it.

Heart filled with no emotion, only the logic of what he was setting out to do, Nameless Donovan resigned his commission with Building 26.

And set out to do what had to be done.

Sebastian Whitehorse was a dangerous man.

For nearly 20 years he'd worked as an elite assassin for the CIA, quietly disposing of targets around the world. He'd honed his skills in the most dangerous situations possible, even taught others the art of stealth and dealing death from the shadows. His students wondered at his seemingly impossibly spotless record. His superiors had known the real reason for his success, but his value to them was such that it had been passed over. It was simple: Sebastian was a shape-shifter. It was a gift of the highest proportions, allowing him to get close to his targets and escape int the blink of an eye. He'd never asked, but he assumed his years of service were the reason Building 26 had ignored him until now.

Three years ago he'd retired from the trade and moved to New York. He'd built a life for himself, hanging out at night in bars with pretty ladies. He'd even managed to find a girlfriend who was a fellow special- how cool was that? He was heading out to meet her now, getting ready for a night like no other.

His government pension meant that he was one of the few New Yorkers who could afford his own car. All in gratitude for his years of service, of course. Wearing a suit and tie and his newest set of dress shoes, Sebastian stepping into his garage. Placed his hand on the door.

Something bit into his heel then, something swift and hot as a snake. His leg buckled from under him as the thing bit into his other heel. No, not his heel- his Achilles tendon. Something had cut it. But Sebastian was on his stomach in an instant, wielding his Glock. He saw movement from the corner of his eye, tried to turn, but in an instant a heavy knee was on his back, two strong hands twisting his wrist.

There was a crack, and the gun flew across the garage.

The man rose, glancing at the pool of blood by Sebastian's heels. “Sorry about the wrist. That had to hurt. But I must say I did expect a man your reputation to at least think about checking beneath your car.”

“Who are you?” gasped Sebastian, pain gushing through him.

“Name's Nameless Donovan. I kill specials, and you're next.”

Sebastian brushed the death threat off. He wasn't going to die tonight. Even now his hand was working its way into his jacket, into a deep pocket where he kept a backup weapon...

“Did Building 26 send you?” he gasped again, exaggerating the pain. “Are you with them?”

Nameless slapped his face. “Don't insult me,” he sneered. “They'd never have caught you, not in a million years.”

Nameless rose and slid a black bag from under the car. His back to Sebastian, he began to look through it.

“I must say,” said Nameless. “I'm rather disappointed in you so far.”

Sebastian found his gun. In an instant it was out, his finger was tightening around the trigger-

Click.

Click. Click. Click.

The gun was empty.

No. No. It was loaded. He always kept it loaded.

Nameless paused. “Now how about that?” he said. He walked over to where the other gun was on the ground. Picked it up. Pointed it at Sebastian's head-

Click.

Nameless dropped the gun. “Sorry. Couldn't risk you being armed. Too dangerous.”

No. No. No. This wasn't happening. It couldn't be. Suddenly, for the first time in a very long time, Sebastian was afraid.

Nameless smiled. “I see it in your eyes now. Tell me, when was the last time you were afraid of a normal?”

If Sebastian had been a begging man, he would have begged for his life. If he had been religious, he would have prayed. As it was, he only cursed.

Nameless shook his head. “I was afraid of that.”

The doorbell rang. Nameless looked up. “That will be your girlfriend. I texted her to meet you here tonight.” Nameless paused. “She's clairvoyant, right?”

No. No. No.

Nameless cuffed Sebastian. Gagged him. Went to answer the door.

The long night had begun.

Unless a person invests money in a good, industrial strength lock, getting into most homes at night is a matter of a few seconds of pressure in the right places.

Unless a person has been trained otherwise, most people sleep heavily enough between 2:30-5:00 AM that their limbs can be moved and tied without waking them.

So it was hardly surprising that the spontaneous regenerator sleeping in front of Nameless Donovan didn't stir as he tied her limbs to the posts of the bed. Not until he finished strapping on the gag did she stir, suddenly pulling and struggling at the ropes that bound her to the bed.

Pausing only long enough to insure that her struggles yielded no substantial sound, Nameless began oiling his hacksaw.

"I just want to say that I am truly sorry for what you're about to go through. I've thought through this every way I can, and I really can't get the results I need any other way."

More struggles.

"A spike in the back of your head would be less painful, but honestly it's not sure enough for what I have to do. And surety is what I need, more than anything else."

More wriggling.

"I thought about drugging you, even tried slipping you some knockout drops, but your system kicks it off too quickly. So I'm left with just taking your head off, and really, this is the best way to do that."

A silent scream.

"Honestly," Nameless said, looking up from his work, "This isn't as bad as it could be. I'm not going to torture or violate you. I just need you dead, and I'm going to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible."

Nameless stood up from his oiling. "Of course, I'm assuming all the while that you actually feel pain. I know some people with your ability don't. Do you?"

The smallest of nods from behind the gag.

"Then I am truly sorry," said Nameless, and if his tone of voice was any indication, he meant it.

He took the saw in his hand. Positioned it just right.

And went to work.

As far as Nameless knew, Building 26 had never caught an advanced telepath. Those guys were extremely slippery. You never knew when they were simply playing with your head, putting things in it to mess you up.

Still, Nameless was reasonably sure he had managed to avoid any mental interference from this one. SHIELD files indicated that his effective range was no more than 300 yards. He could easily be observed from outside that distance. It was a most interesting exercise, observing a target with the knowledge that your own thoughts could betray you.

It had taken Nameless some time to come up with a method that would insure the telepath's demise without ever bringing Nameless himself withing that danger zone. But the answer had come to him, as it always did, in the most unlikely of circumstances. And, as always, is was so simple he wondered why he had not thought of it before.

The target worked a night shift and had left for work some time before. This one had actually spent some money and bought a decent lock, so Nameless might have had to modify his plan if he had not happened to discover the spare key hidden in a flower pot by the door. Honestly, how stupid did people get?

He did not question his good fortune, however. It took him only a few minutes to do what he had to do. Syringe in hand, he went into the bathroom...

...and all was finished. He couldn't be sure exactly when his target would die, but he was reasonably certain that life would be over in less than 24 hours.

----------------

Kevin came to his house just in time for sunrise. He went upstairs to brush his teeth and go to bed.

The toothpaste might have tasted a bit odd that morning, and there was a small hole in the tube he hadn't noticed before, but he was too tired to pay attention.

That night he was awoken by pain racking his entire body. He tried to move, tried to cry out, but his muscles refused to work. When neighbors found him several days later, his body was still stiff- from rigor mortis. Doctors would declare him the victim of strychnine poisoning, but where the poison had come from they were at a loss to say.

But Nameless knew.


Nameless had found the abandoned mine quite by accident, while hiking the Catskill mountains several years before. The rangers tried to fill in any old mines they found, and this one wasn't on any of the maps, so he was reasonably sure he was the only one who knew about it.

He'd been back several times since, each time exploring deeper into the tunnels. What he'd found excited him. It was a veritable maze of old, disused tunnels. Some had collapsed with time, but most remained, going deep into the heart of the mountains. Perhaps the mystery of it all was why he hadn't told anyone about it.

But since he hadn't, he knew it would be perfect for his next target. Nameless turned papers over in his hands. A man who literally wouldn't die. What would that be like? To be able to watch history unfold and play out before you... to share God's perspective.

Nameless never did like the idea of God.

Nameless packed his wallet and prepared to leave.

Tonight, he was going to begin the process of slaying one who could not be slain. Not a quick kill. He'd have to be lured, reeled in, then trapped.

And somehow, in a vast, monumental change, (strange, is it not, how the things that are the most important in retrospect seem so insignificant at the time), Nameless found himself anticipating it.

Had he thought of it then, he might have turned back. Had he stopped to think, he would have realized the difference.

If there was such a thing as a man-onizer, Carrie Black was it. Her facebook page claimed two thousand sexual partners. Nameless suspected that was an exaggeration, but in all honesty it didn't make any difference.

It had been surprisingly, almost shockingly easy to get her into his hotel room, rented specifically for this purpose under a false name, and paid in cash. The alcohol she'd consumed undoubted had helped, but it had still surprised Nameless how little wooing he'd actually needed to do. He wondered if she actually found pleasure in the physical act of sex any more, or if perhaps there was something else in it she enjoyed. Or perhaps she was simply an addict, doing it because she was afraid of withdrawal. Well, such speculations didn't really make a difference at this point.

He lay on the bed, clothes already mostly off, watching her get undressed across from her. He had to admit, she was quite the shows-woman. With her back to him, she had suggestively and seductively removed her top, and was slowly working her way down. Had Nameless been in the mood for such things, he would have been impressed, but her promiscuity was only slowing things down.

"Hurry up," he called. "Skip the show and get straight to the main course."

She registered his comment with a wink but made no effort to quicken her pace. Her lower half was covered by a small table, so when she finally showed herself to him, the effect was extremely climatic in and of itself.

They lay facing each other on the bed as she took his shirt off, giggling like some idiotic schoolgirl as she felt his muscled body. It irritated Nameless. Did this actually appeal to most men? No wonder the country was in such bad shape.

"Ca'mere, you," she giggled again, pressing her bare chest against his. "Come and hold me. I love you."

Nameless pressed close to her. Wrapped his arm under her pillow and around her. His arm came up from under the pillow holding something, something he had hidden there an hour previously...

"And I have no feelings for you whatsoever," he said.

Confusion registered in her eyes. Out of the corner of one she might have seen something, but was too late. Quick as lightning, the syringe in Nameless's hand flashed, penetrating her neck. Sent its contents speeding into her bloodstream.

She fell limp, and Nameless stretched once and got out of bed. He stared at her for a moment. "Well," he said, "I suspect you would have been pretty boring anyway."

He touched her pillow, and suddenly a shock went through him of how close a call he'd had. The pillow was freezing, dripping wet. He'd been rather incautious around a weather manipulator; he couldn't let success get to his head.

He dressed himself as she lay there, then readied another syringe.

"Really," he muttered as he injected her for the final time. "It's quicker than AIDS."

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PostSubject: Re: Striving for Perfection part 3 -training-   Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:36 pm

Bruce Calvera was an immortal, and a rare kind at that. Not only did he not age, but he did not require food, water, oxygen, or most of the other million and one things ordinary people need to live.

Nameless had met him in a bar one night, the Namelesse bar Bruce visited every Tuesday at 6:30. It had been easy, so easy, to be there at the Namelesse time, to pick up a conversation with him. To seduce him, get him to let his guard down.

By an amazing "coincidence" both Bruce and Nameless loved backpacking. That was why, now, the two of them were out hiking in Catskill National Park.

"It never ceases to amaze me," said Bruce. "All this beauty, right here for the enjoying. And so few people ever come to see it."

Nameless glanced at his watch. His calculation of their walking speed had been almost exactly correct. "It's about noon," he said. "How about a snack?"

Nameless sat down on a rock. He'd prepared that too, done it so there was only one natural place for Bruce to sit. And when he did...

Bruce sat, and the ground gave way, revealing a hole in the side of a hill. Nameless was on his feet at once. "You okay?" he called.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Bruce said, picking himself up. He looked around inside the tunnel. "Must be an old mining shaft from the coal mining days."

Nameless flicked on his mini maglite and shone it around the tunnel. He took a few steps inside, kept looking around.

"What are you doing?" Bruce called. "You can't do that. It's dangerous."

"Just a minute," said Nameless. "I think I see something."

He knelt down and picked up the item he had left there on his last visit. "Bruce, look at this."

Grudgingly, Bruce started towards Nameless. One step. Two steps. Three. The spot was exact.

Nameless pressed the button on the detonator once.

The floor beneath Bruce vanished, plunging him down into a black void below.

Nameless walked over the hole, staring down into the blackness. "Are you all right, Bruce?" His voice, free of the needs of acting, regained its ordinary harshness.

"Nameless?" called Bruce, his voice pale and thin in the darkness. "My God Nameless, throw down a rope."

"No, I don't think I will," replied Nameless.

"Nameless?"

"Step away from the pit, Bruce," said Nameless. "I know you can't be permanently killed, but it would be a pity it you were crushed and had to be permanently conscious in that state."

"You- you know?"

"As well as I know anything. Now, I've practiced this on a few other tunnels, but I can't be sure that this will work exactly as I've planned, so I'm going to walk out of the tunnel now. You have that long to get away from the pit. If you don't you'll be crushed by fifty feet of dirt and rock. I can't imagine it'd be pleasant to spend eternity in that state."

"You can't do this!" Bruce shouted. "I'll dig my way out!"

"Not out of this, you won't," said Nameless. "Don't worry, I've thought of that."

He jumped nimbly over the pit and strode out into the sunlight. Pressed the detonator a second time. The tunnel he had just walked out of collapsed, burying Bruce under fifty feet of dirt and rock. Useful, but nothing he couldn't dig himself out of given a few decades. Nameless pressed the detonator for the last time, and the entire hill imploded, setting a solid slab of rock on top of the pit that was now Bruce's tomb.

There was no digging out of that. Ever. Bruce was sealed in a small room barely big enough for him to stand up in, with solid rock sides that were impossible to dig through. The top was covered by fifty feet of dirt and another solid slab of rock. Bruce was dead to the world.

It was, Nameless thought, ironic that immortality, a thing so prized for thousands of years, could in the end lead to a fate worse than death.

And he found himself enjoying the thought.

It's illegal to hack into traffic cameras, but if you know the right people, say the right things, and drop some money in the right places it can happen anyway.

And Nameless knew all the right places.

He was studying the driving habits of his next target, trying to determine when and where he could get at him, when something caught his eye.

It wasn't something he hadn't seen before; it was something he had seen, and hated, times beyond count, a thing he more than anything wanted snuffed out. It was a face; a face he had long cultivated as a friend. A face that belonged to a special.

He zoomed in on the picture. Yes, it was him. Absolutely, unquestionably, it was him. He looked at it again. There was an older woman there, too, someone he didn't recognize off-hand. He'd have to check on her, but she wasn't important. What mattered was that Nameless had found him.

"Hello, Seth," said Nameless.

An account of his exploits had appeared in the newspapers, and Nameless was not happy about it. It took some effort to track down exactly who had told the reporter, and it involved buying four people coffee, getting two drunk, and holding a gun to the head of another. But at last Nameless had found it, and he'd begun to move, to prepare for his next hit...

----------------

Detective Steven Mills' ability of clairsentience had more than once helped him on cases. When no one was looking, he'd touch some crime scene objects and learn what had really happened. It wasn't admissible in court, but it let him know where to go to get evidence that was. Maybe that was why his record at NYPD was so good.

When he'd investigated the first of the Vendetta crimes, he'd been shocked at the coldness and brutality with which the murder had been carried out. Even more frightening, the killer referenced the fact that his targets were specials with nearly every victim. But worse than that was the fact that- though Steven hated to admit it- the guy was just too good. He left practically no physical evidence at the crime scenes, almost the only documentation that he'd been there being in the victims and the memories stored in the objects around. Steven had mentally christened him the Vendetta killer based on something the killer himself had said during one of his crimes.

But how could he convince he colleagues to see things as he did? He was the only one who saw the connections, who realized what this guy was up to, but no one would believe him if he told them! It was maddening. He could only keep gathering information and hope that sooner or later the killer would slip up. Surely this couldn't go on forever.

He sat down behind his desk, sighing. What a day. If only he could solve this problem-

He heard a sound, a ringing, from inside his desk. He paused for a moment, then opened his desk. A black cell phone lay inside. Answering it, he said, "Hello?"

"Did you tell the reporter, or was that someone else?"

Steven sucked in his breath. He knew that voice. He'd heard it from the memories stored in objects.

"I told him," Steven said. "Didn't like your antics being exposed, huh? Well let me tell you buddy, we're going to bring you in, and we're going to take you down."

He talked, trying to keep the guy on the line. If he only had enough time! He wrote on a sheet of paper, handed it to someone else, asking them to try and trace the call. Now if only the guy wouldn't hang up-

"Have you figured out how I'm choosing the victims?"

Steven decided to tell the truth.

"Yeah," he said. "Specials. You're killing specials."

"Did you figure that out on your own, or did you use your ability?"

"I used my ability.'

"Cheater." Steven could hear the disdain in that man's voice, disgust even.

"Yeah, well, to catch a guy like you, I think anything's reasonable." He paused, trying to give the guy a reason not to hang up. "How are you seeing me right now?"

"Turn around and find out."

Steven turned. Looked out the window behind him. His eyes went wide. The last thing that ever entered Steven Mills' mind was a bullet.

Interlude

“Here we are,” said Nameless as he opened the door, letting Rebecca in. “Welcome to my humble abode.”

Scout and Tsarmeania came rushing up to Nameless, tails beating furiously. “Hey guys,” said Nameless, stooping down to pet them. “Remember Becky?” The dogs’ tails beat faster.

“OMG!” exclaimed Rebecca. “They’re so cute!” A moment later she was down on the floor with the canines.

Picking up Rebecca’s bag, Nameless moved it over towards one side of the room. “So I was thinking we’d get the ugly stuff out of the way first and go check out NYU tomorrow and then you’ve got the rest of the week to do what you want.”

Rebecca, who was busy getting her face covered in licks by the dogs, laughed, “Sounds good to me.”

“It’s a good school,” Nameless said. “Not to mention that you’d be near me if you picked it. I think their history program’s supposed to be pretty good- that’s what you wanted to major in, right? Anything else you wanted to do while you were here?”

Disentangling herself from the dogs, Rebecca stood and said, “Yeah, that’s right. And I was sort of hoping to relax some, but I want to see the statue of liberty and stuff too.”

“Sure,” said Nameless. “Hungry?”

“I’m fine,” said Rebecca. She followed her uncle into the kitchen, gazing around. Her uncle, it appeared, was the stereotypical bachelor. His apartment was fairly plain, mostly dedicated to efficiency rather than ascetics. She laughed. “Don’t you have any, like, paintings or something?”

“Why?” replied Nameless. “They take up perfectly good wall space.”

Rebecca rolled her eyes. “I’ll bet.” Her eye fell on a black bag on one of the chairs. She could make out the form of a saw inside. “What’s that?”

Striding over, Nameless zipped up the bag. “Just a few tools I keep around.” If Rebecca had looked through the bag, she would have found a gag, handcuffs, and other such tools, but she did not.

“So for tonight, I say we rest, and then get NYU out of the way tomorrow, and then we’ll see.”

Setting herself down in a chair, Rebecca nodded. “So what’s it like working for the FBI? Any serial killers out there?”

“Actually, yes,” said Nameless. “There’s a guy they’re calling the vendetta killer that we’re working with NYPD to catch. Top priority right now. So what I do is take the reports of where he acts and use information about travel times and so forth to try and narrow down where he lives or works. Pretty exciting stuff."

"I'll bet," said Rebecca, rolling her eyes. Her uncle was a geek, really he was. Excited over computer programs and not much else. "This vendetta guy, is he dangerous?"

"He kills people," said Nameless. "I guess that makes him dangerous. But if it's any comfort he hasn't done anything near us yet."

Rebecca nodded, knowing he was trying to make her feel better. Honestly though, she wasn't really scared- there was no reason for a killer to target her, someone who had just arrived in town, and since she planned on using common sense while she was here she'd probably be all right.

Arthur, the third of Nameless's dogs, came waddling up, and Rebecca rubbed the loose skin of his skull with both hands. "Oh my goodness! You're so cute aren't you!"Arthur wagged his fat tail happily at the attention.

"Hey, is there a dog park or something we could take them to?" Rebecca asked, smiling. She loved Uncle Nameless's canine friends so much- they were so nice and playful, so fun to be around. She couldn't see how anyone could not like animals after meeting Scout, Tsarmeania and Arthur.

"Central Park's not too far," said Nameless. "We could take them there. I know they'd enjoy it."

"Could we? Please?" said Rebecca.

"I don't see why not," said Nameless. Looking beneath the sink, he extracted three leashed. "Com on boys, let's go for a walk."

Nash,

Thanks to the unforeseen interference of a special with multiple abilities, I failed to hit a target. As it is now probably quite clear to them what my objectives are, it's a sure bet they'll be gunning for me before too long. I can't afford to simply stand by wait for them- there are too many variables, and the more variables, the more the advantage shifts towards the specials. I've been staying with my niece and around other people as much as possible, and so far the risk of collateral damage seems to have prevented them from making a move. But it can't go on forever. Either this threat must must be eliminated, or it will eliminate me.

Thankfully I prepared for something like this months ago, before I began my mission. I've been working to refit the old Hoen engineering building over at NYU. It's been condemned, of course, but budget problems mean it's still there and not leaving any time soon.

My plan is, at base, quite simple. Since the specials seem to be using Ireland Chase's bookstore as a base, I will leave a taunt there, something to goad them into entering the Hoen building at a certain time. I had the foresight to bug the store last time I was there, so we will know their plans. As for ours, I will describe them below.

The Hoen engineering building was condemned about twenty years ago. Since then it has lain unused. Its unusual floorplan was what originally attracted me to it- it is perfect for close-quarters combat and provides plenty of opportunities from tricks and traps.

I will, unfortunately, not be able to aid you in the physical combat with the specials. Without an ability of my own I fear I would be only a liability. I will, however, be secure in a sealed room (inaccessible except from the roof), where I will be able to monitor the battle at all times and provide you with intelligence. They will have the advantage of numbers, but you will have the advantage of knowledge. If you follow my directions, you will have the advantage. I give you my word.

You general strategy, then, should be to divide the group, then use your shape-shifting ability to get close before moving in for the kill. There will, of course, be opportunities to replicate the abilities of the specials present, should you choose to do so. In addition, I have made several modifications to the building to further secure our advantage.

In the first place, all rooms and halls are viewable via security cameras, which I will be monitoring during the course of the encounter, and passing that intelligence on to you. Thanks to the electromagnetic locking system that is so popular at universities, I am able to control the doors of many rooms, sealing the occupants inside or cutting off a route of escape.

The duct system has also been modified to allow me to release gas into certain parts of the building. Unfortunately, this will, for the most part, be only fog. I attempted to secure a means of releasing a poison gas into the building, but all methods either proved impractical or left us at too much risk. Therefore fog will be used primarily to cause confusion and disorientation. There is, however, one kind of gas I was able to get my hands on: gaseous Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT for short. It is a hallucination, and an extremely powerful one at that. It is not harmful after a single dose, but its use does carry certain risks. In the first place there is no antidote for it; so we will need to be cautious about releasing it lest you be harmed (protection from it is, however, as easy as wearing a filter). A special under the effect of this drug will be worse than useless in a fight; they would be a liability to their allies. The effect only lasts five minutes, but we must use those five minutes to the best effect we can.


A few more traps need to be noted. Certain parts of the floor have been wired to give an electric shock when stepped on, mostly in classrooms. A few hallways have been rigged with tripwires that will cause a shotgun to fire if triggered- with deadly results, you will agree. The fourth stair on the lowest staircase on the east side has been rigged; it is pressure-sensitive, and if stepped on will trigger the stair directly above it to strike at the shin of the person standing there, breaking it. The west stairs have been rigged in the Namelesse manner, except that the seventh stair instead of the fourth has been used.

I also have, in my possession, several live rattlesnakes that can be released at various points in the building. Their effect needs no explanation.

Three more things: four lockers of weapons and ammunition will be placed at strategic points within the building. These boxes will open only by a combination lock and are rigged to explode if forced. This is to prevent our foes from gaining any benefit from them. The combination is 27-4-19-5. Memorize this; do not bring it written down with you.

The walls have the appearance of being wired with explosives. Our foes will be informed that these explosives will go off if they attempt to break through a wall. This is not true; the explosives are fake and cannot go off. They are psychological weapons, nothing more.

Lastly, and most importantly, I will have the capability to broadcast my voice throughout the building. In this manner I can taunt them, mislead them, and wear them down. I will lie quite often when broadcasting through this system; but do not worry, we shall have our own lines of communication.

If you have any questions ask them. I will call you as soon as I know the time they will arrive. Be ready.

Nameless

P.S. - It is worth noting the building itself presents many dangers even without our interference. I will guide you away from these, but our foes will not share this intelligence.

---------

Nameless pressed send and rose from his computer, smiling. Yes, this was all going to work out well. Soon the world be rid of more than a few nasty specials- including Nash himself.

For Nameless had not told the whole truth in the email. The explosives on the wall were not fake; Nameless could detonate them any time he pleased. The building would collapse, and the city of New York would have saved some money.

But there was one more thing; a secret weapon Nameless had prepared in case somehow his plans went south. He felt in his pocket for the container there. In that contained was a single pill, a pill containing a carefully calculated dose of tetrodotoxin. The active ingredient in the so-called “Zombie power” of Haitian fame, there have been more than a few cases where a person under the effects of tetrodotoxin has been deemed dead, only to make a full recovery.

Should everything go wrong, should he somehow fail in everything, that option was open to him. After all, what better way to escape those who wished you dead then by making them think you were? Yes, there were risks; the slightest error on his part would make that pill his death. Yet was death by his own hand not preferable to death by theirs? Of course it was. If all else failed, he would not hesitate. He would act. And he would win.

Let them come.

Nothing extraordinary.

The day was as average as possible. The smell of New York City was washed away by the recycled air of the university. The sounds of cars, sirens and electronic advertisements were replaced by two thousand students speaking of the curriculum and the social statuses of their acquaintances.

The campus of brick buildings contrasted with the newer, steel and glass buildings allowing the perception of NYU's history and present. One of the largest and leading universities in America, offering courses in everything from advanced calculus to biochemistry to English literature to ancient history. This particular school also happened to be the school the Justus family left Switzerland so that young Nameless could attend.

And now it was the last place he wanted to be.

Nameless had glowed. It was not something he was expecting or accustomed to, and so it took him rather by surprise. Literally, in the middle of his jogging, he had begun to glow with a terrifyingly bright white light. The light had only waned and faded after several hours of panic. He had cautiously made his way to his bicycle, and rode to Mount Sinai hospital. There had to be something wrong with him.

Yet the receptionist had laughed him off. Somehow, she did not believe him. Why not? Why would he lie about being a human strobe light? Nameless sat in the waiting room dazed. What would he do about this? He had missed class because of it, and he was sure he had not imagined it. What was wrong with him?

Confusion, fear, panic, began to well up inside him. How would he explain this to his parents? ‘Ciao madre, padre. Sono un sole. ’ No, he could not say that. Who would believe that in the middle of the afternoon, Nameless Justus became a sun? The doctors would not believe him any more than his parents would. “Ciò è insana,” Nameless muttered.


But one doctor had been nearby when he said so, and turned to him. The man looked… Tired. Exhausted. Haunted. It was just a vibe that Nameless saw, and he would not have put it in those words. Yet this was how the doctor felt. All the time. “Excuse me, say again?” The doctor said in a monotonous voice. Nameless colored slightly, and repeated in English, “I am possessing a insane day.” The doctor cocked his head to the side, and said, “Really? What happened?”

Nameless took a moment to study the doctor’s face. He seemed calm, serene, even though sadness lurked just behind this peace. Nameless decided that he might as well take his case to the doctor. After all, maybe he could help. “Today, I became light.” The doctor just stared at Nameless after he said this, and continued to for around eight seconds. “You became light?”

“Sì, quello è esattamente che cosa sto dicendo. I glow today. Light in my skin.” Nameless said again. The doctor, obviously not familiar with Italian, took a moment before asking, “Your skin became lighter today?” Nameless shook his head, and strained to say in coherent English, “No. My skin make light. Bright light. I can not see with bright light.” At this, the peace in the doctor’s expression dropped away and both hardness and a dangerous gleam took its place.

The doctor took Nameless by the arm and practically dragged him to his feet, proving that he was much stronger than he looked. “Come with me,” The doctor ordered quietly, his voice dead-serious. He half-led, half-dragged Nameless to his office; it was decorated by a number of artifacts from foreign lands. “You glowed, yes? As though under your skin was a shining sun?” The doctor demanded, and Nameless took a step back.

“Sì, shiny sun under skin,” Nameless said. The doctor locked the door to his office and said, “When did it happen? Were you afraid, or hurt? Or were you exercising? Working out?” Nameless could feel a sweat break out on his brow. “Running.” And with that word, the doctor smiled suddenly and clapped his hands together. “Yes! I thought so!”

Nameless took another step back, and the doctor’s face returned to a picturesque scene of serenity. “Please, have a seat.” He motioned to a comfortable-looking sofa, and Nameless did as he asked. “What’s your name?” The doctor asked, taking a seat opposite him behind a desk. “Nameless. Nameless Justus. I am from Switzerland.” “Yes, I gathered that from your accent. Nameless, I’m Doctor Joseph Provost. I have to explain something to you. You may think it’s crazy, and you might not believe me, but you have to hear it just the Namelesse.”

Nameless nodded, the fear he felt ebbing away from fear of danger to fear that the doctor would say he had some sort of condition. That he had some rare disease that had no cure. That soon he would walk around permanently glowing. But the doctor instead insisted that he had some gift. “You see, Nameless, I was once like you. And I know what must be going through your head. ‘Do I have some disease?’ ‘Is there a cure?’ ‘Is this permanent?’ The truth is that this is no disease, and there is no cure, and it’s not permanent, but it’s not a bad thing either…”

"We place our worries in Your hands. We ask that You restore Your servant to health again. Above all, grant us the grace to acknowledge Your holy will and know that whatsoever You do, You do for the love of us. Amen."

"I thank Thee for having preserved me from so many relapses, of which I would have been guilty if Thou hadst not protected me. But my enemies still continue, and will continue till death, to combat against me, and to endeavor to make me their slave. If Thou dost not constantly guard and succor me with thy aid, I, a miserable creature, shall return to sin, and shall certainly lose Thy grace."


A long, fantastic tale was woven; the verbal eloquence of the doctor explaining an extraordinary reality to the foreign boy.

From the earliest of days to now, the unstoppable force of evolution changed the world around them. From single-celled organisms to fish, from amphibians to reptiles, from birds to mammals, and from human beings to supermen, or so went the theory. If Nameless were inclined to believe in an evolutionary origin of life, he might have found the description moving.

However, his unshakable faith in a creator, his immovable trust in the man created in God’s own image, refused to allow him to believe it. How was it possible that God would do this to people? Or was it God at all? Perhaps it was an experiment gone awry by fallible man. Or maybe it really was a sickness.

But it was not evolution. There was no such thing.

“Doctor, I thank for your words. But I do no believe evolution. There is other explanation.” Nameless tried to explain. He tried to refute the wild speculation of a man without the guidance of the Word. But the problem was deeper; they operated from completely separate bases. Nameless found truth in faith, and Joseph found truth in science.

“I understand your reluctance. Truly, I of all people should. Respecting the beliefs of patients has been a task I undertake daily. But to understand all this, you have to accept that this is a natural adaptation. Humanity has begun the next stage in evolution, and while you may not believe in evolution, there is no other explanation.” Joseph strove to reach this boy. He was irreversibly trapped in the enlightened view of reality. Billions spent their days oblivious to the fact that Specials walked the Earth, and the enlightened few knew of the truth.

Whether he wanted to or not, Joseph knew that Nameless would have to accept this.

There was no turning back now.

“Thank you, doctor. I must be home now. Arrivederci e buon giorno.” Nameless rose to leave. He could not remain in that office. The doctor refused to see the truth. And he would only continue pressing his misinformed understanding. Nameless would seek out Father Callahan, and obtain the truth from him. Surely the father would know what was really going on. Perhaps it was a gift of the spirit, or a demonic curse.

The doctor also rose, and stood before the door, blocking Nameless’s exist. “Nameless please, listen to me. I was once as you are now. Once, I could move between planes of existence to alternate realities. I could go to other Earths, and explore what could have been us. I have met others with incredible abilities, and dangerous powers. Please, listen to me.”

Nameless could feel a sort of fear creep into the pit of his stomach. The doctor was looking a bit hysterical, and did not seem well. Hah! This coming from the boy who, only minutes ago, was complaining to a hospital clerk that he had been glowing. Well, there was a difference. Nameless did not look like he was going to go into a mad rage when the clerk told him to ‘sod-off.’

Nameless felt a little strange, like inside of him a ball of energy was expanding. But he paid this sensation no heed. He was focused intently on the doctor, whom had broken a sweat. “Doctor, step away from door please.” But Joseph stepped forward, trying to break through the religious indoctrination that had taken hold of the boy’s mind. “You are one of the select few, Nameless, can’t you see? You are the next stage in human evolution! Why won’t you just listen?” And with another step forward, Nameless took another step back, and tripped on the coffee table. In an instant, he flipped back-

And failed to land.

"Sometimes I feel like giving up. It seems like my best just ain't good enough."

"But sometimes I feel like I'm all alone. I'm just like a stranger so far from home. I feel like I've done all that I can do."


Joseph sat perched over the boy's bed.

He had been waiting for this day for a long time. The day when he would tell someone the truth about them. This whole other side to reality, the simple fact that supermen did indeed exist, and they were everywhere. And he had told this boy, and he had tried to leave.

Unbelieving. How could he? He was indoctrinated so deeply that even something so blatantly obvious was run through those religion filters. And now the boy was barely alive.

He had tripped over Joseph's coffee table and... Exploded into light. Joseph had been blind the rest of the day. But now he had his eyesight back, and he could tell that the boy would need his advice. After all, he was now in a permanent state of glow.

Easily controlled once he woke up, but for now, it was unavoidable. Joseph had managed to keep anyone else in the hospital from seeing, but they were getting suspicious. As though reading his mind, Nameless's eyes fluttered open. "Dove? Dove sono?"

Joseph spoke quietly. "Easy, Nameless. You took a bad fall. Your body was starved for energy after you went off like a strobe light. I was blind for the rest of yesterday." Nameless sat up in bed and looked around. "Where am I?" Joseph rested a hand on the boy's shoulder. "You're in the hospital. Recovery ward. You've been hooked up to chemical energy all day, and your body is still barely making it through. You need to shut it off."

"Shut off? What?" Nameless glanced down at his hands and stopped speaking. His hands were the Namelesse; the right number of fingers, and the right skin-tone. Every muscle, every hair, every piece in place. Except for the shining. A sheen of light, swirling and moving like water. Only the faintest light glinted, to reveal the nature of the phenomenon.

After a few seconds, he asked, "Permanent?" Joseph shook his head. "No, not permanent, you just have to learn to control it. I can help." Nameless looked up, fear on his face. "Make stop, doctor!" Joseph nodded, and said, "Look at your hands, Nameless. They are a part of you. You control them. You have to will the glow out of them. Order them to stop; in Italian, if you feel more comfortable. You are in control."

Nameless did as he was told. He first looked down at his hands, and stared. Feeling every nerve within his hands, every twinge of reaction. Every impulse, every twitch, every movement. The fingers themselves covered in unmistakable creases, fingerprints more unique than signatures. And as he stared, Nameless, took note of the color beneath the sheen. The slightly darker color, the raised hairs, the thick muscles.

And he spoke."Smetta di emettere luce. Lo ordino di smettere di emettere luce." Yet nothing happened. No magic password. No nothing. He almost fell to despair then and there, were it not for Joseph's encouragement. "Keep going, Nameless. You are in control." Nameless glanced worriedly back at the doctor, but the sureness, the confidence, turned him back. He returned his attention to his hands, and repeated the process. "Smetta di emettere luce. Lo ordino di smettere di emettere luce."

Nameless thought he caught a glimmer of change, and he repeated his command again. And again. And again.

Over the course of several minutes, he was back to normal. "I thank, doctor." Joseph nodded. "Nameless, when you are excited, or afraid, your body produces adrenaline. When there is too much adrenaline in your system, you will glow. If you want to keep yourself from glowing, I suggest you keep an eye on your heart-rate. When it's higher than usual, your body is producing adrenaline."

Nameless nodded, and Joseph continued. "This glowing that you do, it consumes a lot of chemical energy that you gain by eating and drinking. If you glow for too long, you could make yourself faint. You could even deplete your energy reserves enough to keep your heart from beating. You don't want that to happen."

Nameless nodded. "Understand." Joseph stood and turned to leave, only to pause and turn around. "You and I disagree on where these abilities come from. I can accept that. But if you'll let me, I could teach you to control your light. You could use it for constructive purposes, or if the times call for it, defensive purposes."

Nameless stared for a long time at the doctor before finally offering a reply. "Would appreciate."

"Something just had to give. And my castle gave itself back to the sand."

"So hold my hat for a while. So I feel the rain."


Joseph watched his progress with the most determined attention.

Nameless absorbed the knowledge and experience Joseph offered, and advanced at an exponential rate. Hardly six months had passed since that day in the hospital, when Nameless has accepted Joseph's offer. He learned to control his power, speak clear English, and who he was.

The boy who had looked so frightened six months prior was a distant memory. The man he became was nearly as determined as Jseph himself. He could strobe at will, and while he still consumed copious amounts of chemical energy doing so, his physical training was improving his body's use of that energy.

Soon, he would be able to generate enough lumen seconds to light up a whole city block. When used for defensive purposes, he could strobe with enough candelas to blind a human being for weeks. And he was increasing in confidence. Joseph knew that soon, he himself would be surpassed by the boy.

Nameless stood on the rooftop of Mount Sinai, and Joseph watched him. "You know, doctor, my gift could help people." Nameless commented, his hands glowing faintly. "I agree, Nameless. You could be a terrific help to rescue workers, the coast guard, even the fire department-" "You misunderstand, doctor. I meant to say that I could protect people. You hear them every night, you read about them every day, you see them every day on the news. This city is the target of great evil."

Joseph hid a smile beneath his grand neutral facade. "You mean to be a 'super-hero,' Nameless? Protect those who cannot protect themselves?" Nameless turned around, very serious. "I am not joking. How can you abide such wickedness in your city?"

Joseph shrugged. "The police do everything they can. And what could I do? I haven't even my ability anymore. I may have been able to help once, but no longer." "That is no excuse, doctor. You have taught me to defend myself, both with my gift and with my body. You could help to these people." Joseph looked out over the cityscape. "I had my chance, Nameless, but my time for comic book heroics is over. I will certainly not stop you, but know this. Just as you have your gift, and you see a city needing your help, there are others with gifts who see a city ripe for destruction."

Joseph looked Joseph in the eye, and the boy was startled by what he saw. "And Nameless, that would be a conflict of interests that could only be solved with violence. If you intend to rise up and defend this city, you can expect others to step in and oppose you."

"Take an inch from your mile. And start again."

Nameless cocked his head to the side, listening. An amalgam of sounds met him. Car horns and tires, thirty different musics playing simultaneously, voices of every make and model...

Joseph had presented a variety of logical reasons not to go out that night. He had not argued, merely offered all points of view and let Nameless choose. But it was no choice. It was his responsibility. The Lord had seen to give him a gift, and he would be like the wicked, lazy servant and hide his talent in the earth.

Nameless would use this talent as a good and faithful servant, and use it to draw glory to the Lord on high.

And there it was. Like a sheep among goats, it was well hidden. The scream sounded so faintly, so very quietly, that Nameless wasn't sure at first if he had heard it at all. But then it came again, and Nameless knew he heard it this time. Rising from his perch in a darkened alcove, he walked into the night, his fists clenched.

As he walked across the street, skirting traffic, he began a prayer. He could not recall every having prayed this before, but tonight, he prayed and knew he would be heard. "Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this night be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen."

And he was at the alley by the time the prayer ended. There, a rather rough-looking character in a black, hooded sweat-shirt stood over a woman. She wore a leather jacket and form-fitting, dark blue jeans. Her long red hair was splayed around her head, which bore a nasty-looking gash. She looked up with both anger and a twinge of fear.

Righteous indignation welled-up in Nameless, and before he had intended, his hands started glowing. His face contorted in a holy-rage, he shouted, "Thou unclean spirit!" The man turned, revealing a baseball bat in his hands. "What th' hell-" Nameless lit up as bright as he ever had. Focusing every effort of will he could, he stretched out his hand and opened it, the light like a literal beam blasting in the man's face.

"Sonova-" Nameless jumped in, his whole body still glowing, and swiped the cudgel from the blinded man's hands. The man held his hands to his eyes, and backed away. Nameless dropped the bat to the ground and charged the staggering man. They collided with a yelp and a grunt, and on the ground, Nameless bashed the man until he stopped struggling.

Nameless breathed heavily for a few seconds, the whole spectacle imprinted onto his retinas. The fists, the blood. But the man was not dead. He was still alive, and still conscious, albeit wishing he wasn't. Nameless stood up, and brushed himself off. It was only then that he turned to the woman.

Now that he had a good light to see her with, he noticed that she was very beautiful. Her red hair dangled past her shoulders in a fluid, wave-like form, glittering in his light. Her angular features were complimentary to her eyes, which were sharper than any Nameless had seen before. And at that moment, they were squinting at him.

"Who the bloody hell are you?" She asked in a very Cockney accent. Nameless stepped back, and tried to think of what to say. What could he say? And worse yet, if he told the truth, would he be welcome in America anymore? Nameless suddenly realized that she could recognize his face. He reached up, and realized that he was glowing bright enough to obscure his features.

That was a relief. But what could he possibly say? He couldn't tell the truth- Nameless suddenly had a thought. He couldn't tell the truth, but he could tell a truth. Remembering to speak in English, he said, "Thus saith the Lord; behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine."

It was a few verses from Jeremiah, and Nameless had taken the liberty of saying them in an order that fit the situation. But at least it got his message across. He hoped. But the lady just asked, "What the bloody hell does that mean?" Nameless's smile faltered, and he tried to think of something else to say. And then it came to him. "And Moses said unto God, 'Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?' And he said, 'Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee.' "

When Nameless spoke of the token, he glowed briefly brighter, and the woman said, "Are you at sixes and sevens?" Nameless smiled again, and continued, "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. "

The woman only looked more bewildered. Whether or not she understood was irrelevant at that point. He needed to leave if he hoped to keep his anonymity. And if she did a little research, the woman would understand.

While she continued to look on, as though he were speaking Latin, Nameless turned and ran. He raced as fast as he could into pedestrian traffic, extinguishing his glow. And when the woman came out of the alley, looking for him, he was nowhere to be found.

Nameless breathed a sigh of relief, and kept walking to nowhere in particular. He needed to put distance between himself and the scene. But he was sure that he had found his calling. He had been led by the Spirit to that woman. His guardian angel had led him to defend her. And the Lord himself had given him the gift to do just that.

"Be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen."

Nameless collapsed, tired to the bone, onto a chair.

The mass had been massive, hundreds of parishioners gathered that day, all believing that a prophet, or an angel, walked among them. Father Callahan had not done anything differently, rather, he had gone on with the message as though nothing was different. Many parishioners had been surprised. Nameless was not. It was not in him to change the mass because the world around him told him to.

"Ché giorno..." Nameless whispered, and leaned back. The emptiness of the church now that mass was over was beginning to register with him. The mass was not what was important that day, though. No, what was important was Nameless's 'promotion.' Right before mass, Father Callahan had told him he was going to be a Deacon. Deacon! What a step!

Nameless started to stand, but after he stood, he continued to rise. Nameless didn't understand why he wasn't on his feet. He was hovering above the ground, and he continued to rise toward the ceiling. "Il caro dio lo aiuta!" Nameless shouted, his head bumping roughly into the ceiling.

He felt dizzy, and thought he was going to be sick. But the impact with the ceiling sent him down again, and he landed on his hands and knees. And just like that, it was over. He breathed heavily for a few seconds, his eyes closed to keep the dizziness at bay. Then, he opened his eyes.

He cautiously rose from the floor, and steadied himself with the chair. After a few seconds of waiting, he realized that he wasn't going anywhere. He looked around, and found Joseph standing in the doorway, watching wide-eyed. The doctor's intended congratulations were forgotten in the face of this new development. "Nameless, I think we have a bit more work to do."

"Why does it feel like the sun is just burned out? Why does it feel like everyone waiting for us to crumble and just break down?"

"Incomprehensible Creator, the true Fountain of light and only Author of all knowledge: deign, we beseech Thee, to enlighten our understanding, and to remove from us all darkness of sin and ignorance."


"I do not know, doctor. I was excited yes, but I was suppressing the light. It makes no sense. How is it that I can fly?" Nameless was utterly confounded. Flying? God had given him yet another talent; to fly with the angels of heaven. Clearly the Lord was pleased with his actions. He was behaving righteously, and the Almighty continued to bless him.

In Joseph's office, the good doctor paced back and forth, deep in thought. "I don't understand it. It makes no sense. Never before have I met someone with two abilities. The genetic mutation required must be enormous! Now, I am a surgeon, not a geneticist, but I can tell you that what you have is supremely unique, Nameless."

The falling sun meant that the room was becoming darker, and almost subconsciously, Nameless glowed to compensate. "God is clearly pleased with my actions. As the gospel of Matthew records, 'His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.' You see, doctor? I told you this was a gift from God."

Not eager to repeat their never-ending argument, Joseph ignored the prompt. "There must be something about the suppression of your ability. The adrenaline was spiked in your blood when it happened, but you kept it from discharging through your photokinesis. The energy needed to be released, and your body used the ability of flight to release the energy. Get on the treadmill, Nameless."

Nameless knew this exercise. It made his blood pump, flooded him with adrenaline, allowing him to use his ability. Nameless switched the treadmill to its higher settings, and began running. Joseph watched him for a while, then said, "Stop glowing! You have to suppress the photokinesis." Nameless obliged, and the room darkened. Nameless turned on the light, and watched.

For five minutes, Nameless ran, gradually increasing the intensity. Finally, He hoped off. "Well?" He asked between breaths. Joseph replied, looking edgy. "You have to go through the exercises. Remember the techniques you used early on, to make your ability more readily accessible. But do not glow!"

Nameless began, running through the mental exercises, reaching into the far recesses of his mind. And as though with rockets on his feet, he flew into the air, ramming the ceiling. "Nameless!" Joseph called, crushed when the flying boy crashed onto him. Nameless breathed heavily, rubbing his head.

Joseph stood, smiling. "That's it! You just have to control where your energy is going. I would suppose that over time, that will become easier, and the switching will be more accessible." Nameless stood, and pointed. "Doctor, your fingers! They are broken!"

Joseph looked down, and shock struck him. "Oh. I hadn't noticed." He collapsed into a chair, examining his fingers. "Simple breaks, each of them. I just have to set them and cast them." Joseph reached for his fingers, but Nameless took his hand. "Dio onnipotente e eterno, siete la salute eterna di coloro che crede in voi. Sentali per il vostro servo ammalato Joseph per quale imploriamo il sussidio della vostra misericordia tenera, quel che è ristabilito alla salute corporea, lui può dargli i ringraziamenti nella vostra chiesa. Attraverso Christ il nostro signore."

"What are you saying, Nameless? What does that mean?” Joseph asked. But his voice trailed off, as his fingers stopped throbbing. Looking down, he saw that his fingers were righting themselves. And Nameless’s hands were glowing very brightly. And Joseph felt no pain. With a final snap, his last finger popped into place. Joseph flexed his fingers, and they were fine. “Nameless, what did you…”

But Nameless’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he fell back. “Nameless!” Joseph stood from his seat and knelt by Nameless’s side, trying to rouse him, but he was unconscious.

"Dragging my feet to hit the street tonight."

"O my God! Who hast graciously promised every blessing, even Heaven itself, through Jesus Christ, to those who keep Thy commandments; relying on Thine infinite power, goodness and mercy, and confiding in Thy sacred promises, to which Thou art always faithful, I confidently hope to serve Thee faithfully in this life, by doing the good works Thou hast commanded, and which, with Thine assistance, I now purpose to perform, and eternal happiness in the next, through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen."


Nameless leaped into the air.

The motion froze in time. The pure-blue sky. The birds chirping. The grass of the park. The polo shirt. The faded jeans. The wind-blown hair. The sweat on his face. The dozen other boys leaping toward him. The hand outstretched, reaching. The frisbee twirling through the air.

Nameless did not cheat. He did not use his powers. He could have. He could have lifted himself up another half-inch, and he would have caught the frisbee. He could have flashed and blinded the other players. But he did none of them. Instead, playing fairly, he allowed the frisbee to pass just beyond his reach.

Another behind him caught the disc, and he twisted in the air. But his opponent twirled with his own motion, and released the object. Nameless watched it fly, fly so far from his reach...

And while watching the frisbee, his vision changed. The twirling circle enveloped his vision, and the color faded to black. Nameless could do nothing. He could not feel his appendages, and he could not move himself. He tried to glow, and made no impact on the darkness. He tried to pinch himself, and yet nothing came of it. Fear seized him.

And an image passed before him. A sea serpent snatched a fish. The swift, graceful motion was as entrancing as it was lethal. The fish was shredded by the fangs, and a scarlet cloud spread, blocking the image.

Another image. A woman of Asian descent, in a pressed suit, speaking on a headset. The night outside her car broken by the neon lights everywhere. With one hand, she drove, and with the other, she drank her coffee. But in her split attention; the conversation, the driving and the coffee, she spilled her boiling hot drink all over herself. Exclaiming in a foreign tongue, she swerved, and her car slammed into another. Fire instantly engulfed the image.

One more image passed before him. Two men in uniforms sat and napped in a tiled room. Dull lighting showed control panels and technological equipment everywhere. And while they napped, one re-positioned himself on the chair, knocking a switch. Hardly ten seconds later, two trains on a computer screen, collided. The screen went blank, the room shook, the lights flickered and went out.

And then the blackness faded away, and was replaced with the game of Ultimate Frisbee in Central Park. Nameless was thrust back into that frozen moment, and as the saucer flew, Nameless crashed roughly to the ground. And while the crowd chased the precious frisbee, Nameless rose, and ran from the field.

The very moment he was out of their view, he launched into the air. The adrenaline coursed through his blood, and he raced through the sky. For several weeks he had practiced flying, and he was getting much better. He could not glow and fly, but he assumed he would get to that point eventually.

He slowed and hovered before the office window belonging to Joseph. He knocked urgently. "Doctor!" After only a few seconds of banging, Joseph threw open the window. "What, Nameless? What happened?" Nameless floated into the office, and landed softly. "Doctor, I have had a vision!" Joseph kept his expression carefully neutral. "A vision?"

Nameless threw up his hands. "Yes! A vision from the Lord! He has shown me many things, from the consumption of fish by serpents and a terrible, fiery crash on the street, to the collision of subway trains!” Joseph gave him an assessing stare. “I’ve heard of Specials who can see the future, and with how many abilities you have, I’m not counting it out.”

Joseph snatched up the television remote, and asked, “You say you saw a car crash? Where?” Nameless turned away, trying to clarify the image in his head. The lights formed words in a language he did not understand, but he could guess at their origin. “I think Japan. Try Tokyo.” Joseph shrugged and switched to international news. Immediately, he was met with a helicopter’s view of the greatest traffic collision he had ever seen. It took him a moment to become aware of the narration. “…This traffic collision began on the top overpass here, and the cars flew off, crashing into the two overpasses below and finally onto the street. Some fell into buildings, and fires have spread. The death toll is in the hundreds…”

After a few seconds of shared silence, Joseph asked, his tone neutral as ever, “What did you see after this?” Nameless turned, whiter than snow. “Two subway trains crash headlong into each other.” Another few seconds were met with stunned silence, until Joseph turned and opened a large drawer in his desk. “I wasn’t sure when you’d need this. But I suppose now is the time.” Reaching into the drawer, Joseph pulled out a black garment, with a purple sash. And when he shook it out of its fold, Nameless was surprised to see a cassock, the clothing of a priest.

“I thought that since you are intent on being a super-hero, you’d need a costume.”

"O my God, trusting in your promises and because you are faithful, powerful and merciful, I hope, through the merits of Jesus Christ, for the pardon of my sins, final perseverance and the blessed glory of heaven "

"Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your Fragrance everywhere I go. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through me and be so in me, that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your Presence in my soul: let them look up and see no longer me--but only Jesus."


Nameless rocketed through the air, whipping past pedestrians as fast as he ever had before. The wind stung his eyes, and the sash on his cassock whipped around his waist. He clenched his fists at his side, his knuckles white. He left no sound, and no one could track him as he flew past. He was a blur; and that blur was on a mission.

Nameless had a single goal fixed in his mind. He had to reach the sleeping man. If he could stop the man from flipping the switch, the trains wouldn’t end up on the Namelesse tracks, and the vision could be avoided. He had no idea what he was going to do if that failed. What could he possibly do?

Rocketing to the subway entrance, he dropped down, and flashed through the opening. He couldn’t slow down, because he couldn’t conceal his features fast enough to avoid notice. Instead, he had to reach the control room, and only then could he slow down. The pillars and structures flashed by, some avoided only at the last second. His focus was intense, and only his determination was greater.

The control room was exactly as his vision had shown. The white tiles. The eerie, single, white light. The two men, sleeping on the job. Nameless came to a sudden, dizzying, halt, and landed, transferring his energy to his light. He glowed, just enough to obscure his features. But even as he recovered his balance, one of the men shifted, his elbow nearing the switch. Nameless dove forward, and called out, “Halt!” The men, startled, jumped. That was just what it took. The sudden motion by the one man flipped the switch.

Nameless shoved the man to the side, and tried to move the switch back. He struggled, and pulled, but there was no give. He whirled on the man, who shakingly explained, “Th- The train’s already on the track. It can’t be stopped.” Nameless stared blankly for a moment, unable to quite comprehend what he was hearing. He was too late? That was it? It happened anyway?

Unable to quite accept this, he turned, dropped the lighting, and rocketed out of the room. He whirled through the air into the tunnel, and raced to the train. It was racing toward him faster than he was toward it. He stopped and landed on the roof. He tried yanking, and using his flight to pull, but he wasn’t strong enough to move it. Flying off, and barely keeping up with the train, his mind raced. What could he do?

And when he realized he couldn’t do anything, he did the one thing he knew best. “Il dio della O, che il più knowest noi da regolare in mezzo a tali grandi pericoli,” The deafening sound of the train was soon joined by a slowly growing response. “Che, a causa della debolezza della nostra natura, non possiamo levarci in piedi dritti, assegniamo noi a tale salute della mente e del corpo,” Nameless glanced down the tunnel, and thought he could see more lights, coming forward. “Che quelle malvagità che li soffriamo per i nostri peccati può sormontare con assistenza di Thine.” Nameless stretched out his hands toward the train. “Attraverso Christ il nostro signore. Amen.”

Forcing all of his power at the train, Nameless finished his prayer, his begging to God to help him. And God responded. Feeling the power drain from his flight, leaving him falling through the air, his hands glowed brighter than ever before. A solid beam struck from them, slamming into the train. The train was lifted from the tracks for just a second, and for that second, everyone gaped.

Louis Flemming, gas station attendant, on his way home from work, gaped at the marvel he witnessed. George Hawthorn, father of three, gaped at the beam of light. Ferris Smith, banker, gaped at the flying boy trying so hard to save him. Mickey Ramirez gaped as, on the surveillance camera, the boy who had waked him up in the control room blasted the train. Nameless gritted his teeth, feeling his energy drained into the beam, feeling God work through him.

And the train landed on the other tracks. Nameless slammed into the ground, and rolled, clenching his muscles, holding his arms to his chest. The two trains flashed by each other, without as much as a scratch. The train that had been blasted skittered a moment on its track, the rear cars dragging, before the brakes finally stopped it. Nameless winced as he stood, holding his left arm to his chest. It didn’t feel broken, but it hurt.

And then the other train was blaring in his face. Mere feet away. Nameless watched detached as he leaped out of the way, still ending up clipped, and spinning to the ground. He stared at the ground, realizing how nice it would be to go to sleep. Darkness clouded his vision, and he took a shuddering breath. Even that hurt. Yes, sleep would be very nice.

But he couldn’t sleep. He was in the middle of a tunnel. People were going to find him, and see who he was. He would be deported. He would return to the Vatican, his mission incomplete. He couldn’t do that. He had to stand. He had to get out of there. Pushing himself to his feet, he shook for a second, before he limped to a service access. It was unlocked. Nameless stepped through, seeing that the two trains were stopped, and there was no fire.

“Grazie, signore. Grazie.” With that, Nameless limped out of the tunnel.

"Almighty, true and incomparable God, You are present in all things, yet in no way limited by them. You remain unaffected by place, untouched by time, unperturbed by years, and undeceived by words. You are not subject to birth and in no need of protection. You are beyond all corruption, above all change, immutable by nature. You live in unapproachable light and are invisible, yet You are known to all those who seek You with hope and love. You are the God of Israel, and of all who hope in Christ. Amen."

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