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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 pt.1-training-

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Posts : 946
Join date : 2012-05-22

PostSubject: Striving for perfection pt.1-training-   Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:04 pm

Abandoned Warehouse, Manhattan
2207 - 09 March 2011

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 same 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.

"You're going to die, whether you tell me or not," Nameless said coolly, fully turning his attention back to his captive. The man spit blood on to the smooth, cold concrete before glaring up to Nameless. "No sense in me telling you, then, is there? You ain't got no bargaining chip now, no reason to make me talk."

Nameless smiled, giving no sign of concern to the man. "Oh, no. See, when you tell me decides when you die. The longer you're alive, however..." Nameless withdrew an ink pen from his pocket and - in a single, swift movement - he plunged the pen into the man's right thigh. The man lurched forward, restrained only by his handcuffs to the aluminum chair. Snarling, Jackson said nothing.

Twelve year old girl, abducted by a half dozen men that looked as if they could place rather high in body building competitions. Little girl, innocent, uninvolved, and non-expendable.

"Again, where is she?" Nothing. Nameless twisted the pen to an angle and pushed it further into the thigh. Jackson screamed in agony, rocking in the chair. Mid-yell, he cried, "Alright, al-alright! Chimmy's Bar, back... back room!"

Immediately, Nameless released the pen and stepped away from the chair. Withdrawing a cell phone from his pocket, he held down the center button and allowed the phone to ring three times. Having signaled to the senator that he'd located the daughter, Nameless replaced the phone in his pocket in time to hear the aluminum chair scrape across the concrete floor.

Addressing the noise, the man for hire turned to see his adversary advancing at full charge, handcuffs in the floor and aluminum chair overturned. Without flinching, Nameless removed the silenced FN Seven pistol from under his coat and fired three shots - all of which met the center mass of one Jackson Smalls. All two hundred and twenty pounds of man dropped to the floor, skidding to a halt at Nameless's feet.

Skirting around the body, Nameless slowly approached the chair and handcuffs. How had the man escaped? Slipped out of the handcuffs? No - Nameless had placed them too tightly around the man's large forearms. Picked the lock? No - Nameless had covered his tracks; there was nothing on the man's person that could be used to unlock handcuffs.

Then what had it been? Heat. Kneeling to examine the handcuffs, Nameless could easily see what the problem had been. The handcuffs had melted. But how?

Looking further - around the floor, even checking the man, there was nothing to suggest where enough heat had come from to melt the handcuffs. And the man's forearms and hands showed no sign of being burnt...

Tucking away the bizarre occurrence in his mind, Nameless departed. Strange happenings or not, there was a task at hand and money to collect. Weird coincidences could be further examined later. Work and reputation were much more important.

Nameless's 1968 Dodge Charger - Manhattan
0053 - 10 March 2011

When working as an agent for the CIA, many character traits are taught, tested, and strengthened. Key among those is patience. Even when a person knows that their goal, their assignment, their package is just a short distance away, the person also most remain vigilant of their surroundings. Becoming careless at the end, attempting to rush to the finish line for a completed job - that's where the highest number of mistakes and casualties occur.

Nameless sat silently in his car, eyes trained on the bar three buildings down. In the past hour, three people had arrived and twelve had left - including two of the three that had previously entered. Nameless glanced at his wrist watch one final time.

In every assignment, there's always two distinct factors that determine the outcome - skill and luck. The measurements of how much of each factor is necessary varies from assignment to assignment, but the fact remains that both are necessities. In an assignment such as fetching a protected asset, say... a senator's daughter in a bar that was frequented by a biker gang known for their ruthlessness, luck was key - going in too early was suicide, but waiting too long may spook the gang when they have trouble getting in contact with one of their own because the missing man lacks a pulse.

Nameless finally stepped out of the car, leaving his suit jacket inside. Blending in - even if just for a few minutes - could give one all the time they need to get into position to cause the least (or most) amount of damage possible. Continuing, the former spy untucked his shirt, unbuttoning it to reveal the wife-beater underneath. Tossing the gun holster - and weapon - back into the car, Nameless moved towards the bar, adding a fake stumble to his walk. Better to look like a hard-working man drowning his sorrows by barhopping than to look like a trained killer coming to the rescue.

Just before opening the door and entering, Nameless rolled up the sleeves of his shirt - one marginally higher than the other, just to add to the ruffled look - and then the former CIA stepped inside. Despite the dim lighting, Nameless quickly took inventory of the bar - four men total, at least in the front room: the bartender, a man at the bar, and two men shooting pool just a few feet from the bar. Putting on a stupid grin, Nameless stumbled across the room.

To the right, a sign for bathrooms. To the left, an empty rack for hanging up pool sticks, next to an open doorway leading to a hall. Passing between the occupied pool table and an empty one with two extra cue sticks, Nameless sat down on the bar stool, offering a fake hiccup to the man behind the bar.

"What it be?" the bartender asked, turning to Nameless. On his right bicep, a skull with a snake wrapped around it - just as the one on Jackson Smalls. Likewise, the man sitting on the adjacent bar stool with a bottle of beer in front of him and the two men shooting pool behind Nameless all had the tattoo.


"I'll hava... I'll have..." Nameless said slurring his words as he soaked it all in for a final moment. "I'll have whatever he's having." And with that, Nameless reached over, grabbing the bottle of beer from the adjacent man and shattered it against the man's skull, knocking him to the floor.

Turning quickly, he grabbed a free pool stick from the open pool table and twirled it, slamming it into the neck of one of the bikers playing pool. Immediately following this move, Nameless jabbed the end of the cue stick into the other pool player's belly, following up the move with a slam to the back of the head.

Nameless dropped the stick, turning back to the bartender just as the familiar click of a shotgun being pumped into action came to his ears. Extended over the bar, the bartender leveled a pump-action Remington Model 870 shotgun at Nameless's chest. From four feet away, Nameless instinctively turned to the side to present a lesser target. If the man fired and - some how - missed, he wouldn't have enough time to pump and fire a second round.

"Gimme one goddamn reason why I shouldn't blow you to hell," the bartender hissed venomously. Nameless slowly took in a deep breath before taking action. Aiming for the man's weaker arm (which was difficult to pick out, given that the man's arms were almost as big around as Nameless's head), Nameless pushed the weapon aside, wrenching at the man's wrist and flipping the shotgun away from his grip. Grabbing the shotgun by the barrel, the former CIA slammed the butt of the weapon against the bartender's temple. The man slumped to the ground. "Because I'll return the favor now," Nameless said, taking the open doorway to the left - shotgun still in hand.

Left door - kitchen. Right door - storage. Second left door - back exit of the bar. Second right door - storage... with a little girl sitting on a filthy looking mattress, legs pulled up to her chest and her sobbing face pressed against her knees.

Nameless left the shotgun leaning against the wall, moving in to take the little girl - Sarah - into his arms. "Shhh, shhh - it's alright. I'm here to take you back to your dad, he's been worried sick about you." The girl flinched at his touch, but did not draw away as he lifted her from the bed and returned to the front room of the bar where everything (and everyone) was right where Nameless had left it all.

Placing the little girl in the passenger's seat of his car, Nameless slid into the driver seat. Sarah was safe, the job was finished, payment would come... he rolled down his sleeves once against as he placed the key in the ignition.

But what about the man who had miraculously melted his handcuffs and freed himself? Nameless had no answers as he drove off into the night.

Garage of Aleksei Gorchakov; Suspected Russian Terrorist
April 11th, 2007 - Four Years Ago

When working undercover for the CIA, agents are given alternate identities. They are forced to embrace these identities as if their lives depend on them because, in most cases, they do. So if an agent is given a cover that says that they're an international drug dealing assassin, they are expected to act as such under any circumstance that arises. If they're hit in the face, they're not expected to flinch and say "Ow!" - they are expected the break the jaw of whoever hit them first. Conversely, if one is given the role of an untrained civilian interested in working for an arms dealer, they are expected to act like an untrained civilian, even when being tortured.

Nameless spit the blood from his mouth, looking up at his aggressor with a false, horrified expression on his face. "No.... comrade, please," he panted in an equally fake Russian accent. "I just looking... for work..." Between the metallic, bullet-proof door and Nameless stood an armed sentry and the man's leader: Aleksei Gorchakov.

Aleksei Gorchakov. 5'11. 210lbs. Short black hair, short black beard, thick Russian accent. Suspected confirmed terrorist; high priority target. Armed with standard 9mm Beretta. Agitated.

Gorchakov's fist caught Nameless's cheekbone with enough force that Nameless had to fight to keep the chair from being knocked over. He almost dropped the bobby pin in his hands that he was using to free himself from his handcuffs. "You lie. You take Gorchakov for imbecile?! There are no records of 'Dimitri Sokov.' Who sent you?!" With a feigned sense of desperation - which was quickly becoming an actuality - Nameless shook his head. "I come over in '03, big jet plane... please, I go and I not tell the police. I just want... I just want to go home..." Nameless faked a sob, mumbling to himself. Something had gone wrong - his cover, perhaps, wasn't deep and detailed enough. Either way, it was time for him to leave.

The mumbling worked. Gorchakov leaned in, attempting to hear Nameless's mumbled response. Using every ounce of strength his legs could muster, Nameless kicked off the ground. The top of his skull caught Gorchakov's chin at full force, causing the larger man to stumble. Hands free from picking his handcuffs, Nameless grabbed hold of the man as a shield as the sentry opened fire with an AK-47. Five bullets caught Gorchakov's center mass before the sentry, stunned, ceased fire. Grabbing the larger man's Beretta from his waist, it only took Nameless a single shot to drop the sentry.

Tucking the Beretta underneath the back of his shirt, he scooped up the assault rifle and the sentry's radio which was squawking to life. "Shots fired, shots...." On the other side of the wall, Nameless could hear running footsteps and then...silence.

Gorchakov's men were well trained - they knew that the only way out of the once-upon-a-time garage was through the metallic door. Nameless, assault rifle slung over his shoulder, pressed his fingertips against the wall next to the bulletproof door.

Tactically speaking, it is always unwise to convert a previously existing structure into a fortified position. Metallic doors may look intimidating and stop bullets, but homes built with drywall barriers did little to suppress noise, much less bullets. Taking the AK-47 in one hand, Nameless raised the radio to his lips and said, "Marco."

A radio, directly across the wall from Nameless chirped to life. Polo. Immediately, Nameless opened fire on the drywall, emptying the entire clip in a spread from where he stood all the way to the edge of the door. Dropped the empty assault rifle, he switched back to the Beretta and waited. Silence in the hall. No footsteps, no running, no return fire.

Carefully, Nameless unlatched the metal door, keeping his full body protected by its cover. Still nothing. Peeking his head through the space, Nameless quickly pulled back as a single assailant - the final survivor in the hall - opened fire. For some strange reason - adrenaline, rage, fear - the terrorist rushed the door; and it worked. Catching Nameless off guard, he managed to knock the 9mm pistol from Nameless's grasp and it skidded across the floor.

The CIA agent grabbed hold of the assault rifle, attempting to keep the barrel from being pointed at himself. A second assailant appeared in the door, only to be shot as his comrade accidentally pulled the trigger while wrestling for control of the weapon. Putting his own body weight against the gun, Nameless rammed the man backwards into the drywall and followed up the attack with an elbow to his attacker's face. The rifle dropped, skidding across the ground and out of reach.

With nothing between them now, Nameless threw a fist into the terrorist's gut. Grabbing the doubled-over man around the waist, Nameless spun his weight to pull the man to the floor in order to throw off his equilibrium. Finally, placing one hand on the man's jaw and the other on the back of the man's head, Nameless wrenched it. With a loud cracking noise than echoed through the garage, the terrorist's neck snapped.

Breathing heavy, Nameless recovered the Beretta and moved towards the once again, cautious as ever. With no surprises in the hall, he continued through the home until he reached the living room where his cell phone had been left. Nameless quickly dialed a number.

"Hey, mom. Business was taken care of, they're all sold for what we had in store. I'm going out to dinner at seven, maybe I'll see you then?"

Supervisor: Mission accomplished, success. Will be at extraction point in seven minutes.

Nameless hung up the phone, took final cursory glance around the living room, and departed the home; one more act of terror averted for Uncle Sam.

Central Intelligence Agency
Langley, Virginia, United States of America
38.951796°N, 77.146586°W
22 January 2003

Two men stood, arms folded across their chests, in a small and dark room lit by the faint flicker of computer screens. Spread out before them were multiple files - a background check, a birth certificate, photos, military awards and honorable discharge papers, high school grades, list of part-time employment during teen years, and a letter to the editor of a local newspaper written by a seven-year old. That seven year old was now twenty-four years old, sitting on the other side of a two-way glass mirror, hooked to a lie detector machine.

"So, what's so special that you felt it necessary to summon me from my duties?" asked the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The other man, the Director of National Clandestine Service (DNCS), was unable to take his eyes off the twenty-four year old in the adjacent room. "Navy SEAL. Served in the military for six years - four with the SEALs. Spent two months as a POW in a tour in Afghanistan, only to overpower and break free with another capturee."

"And?" Despite the tone of impatience in the Deputy Director's voice, the DNCS could still barely make out the note of interest in his superior's voice. "And he wants to retire from the SEALs," said the DNCS, speaking in a similar tone as if stating that their current visitor was suggesting they cancel Christmas.

Despite the glass, they could hear the interviewer and interviewee through a computer monitor in their soundproof room. "Is your legal name Nameless Alexander?" asked the interviewer, making a note of the question on a notepad before him. The man known as Nameless Alexander, a former Navy Seal, sat across the table, facing his reflection in the two-way mirror. "No," he answered firmly.

The Deputy Director looked down at his watch. "Okay. And?" he asked the DNCS, turning to face his subordinate. The DNCS exhaled, looking down at the spread out paperwork for Nameless Alexander. "And I want him on my roster, with your say so, sir."

The Deputy Director scratched his chin thoughtfully, his eyes browsing quickly over the paperwork, holding steady for several moments over evaluation papers under the Navy SEALs. "Says he's 'arrogant, self-important.' I don't know about this, Mike," the Deputy Director said quietly, speaking one of the DNCS's most commonly used aliases.

The DNCS flipped over the evaluation page and began reading. " 'Fourty-two confirmed sniper kills; twenty-five CQC/unarmed kills. Ability to think and act under pressure. Despite earlier evals of arrogance, Alexander is nonetheless commendable and efficient in action.' End quote."

The Deputy Director ran his tongue over the front of his smooth, white teeth, his eyes back on the interviewee in the room before them. He gave a single, brief nod before turning to the door. Hand on the doorknob, he hesitated for a moment before speaking over his shoulder. "He's yours, Mike. And your responsibility."

The Deputy Director then departed, leaving "Mike" alone with the dimly lit computer screens.

Central Intelligence Agency
Langley, Virginia, United States of America
38.951796°N, 77.146586°W
22 January 2003

"Lieutenant, if you'll just have a seat right here for me," said the eccentric man in the business suit and wire-framed glasses that had called himself "Mr. Campbell." Nameless took a seat where he'd been asked. It was a small room; ahead of Nameless was a glass mirror - two-way, he assumed - and a camera in the corner looking down at him. On the table to his left sat Campbell, fiddling with a machine that Nameless knew to be a polygraph.

It had been less than two weeks since Nameless had turned in his resignation papers to leave the SEALs. His commanding officer had been near hysterical, but had finally seemed to see the light. "Seemed" was the keyword - within twenty-four hours, Nameless had received a phone call from a woman that he imagined to be an attractive brunette. She'd insisted that he come in to be interviewed for an available position. Only after being questioned did she mention it was for the Central Intelligence Agency. But Nameless had obliged.

"Now, as we made you aware, we're going to be hooking you up to a polygraph test. But before we begin, I'd like to finalize a few things. First off, Lt. Alexander, this entire meeting will be taped. Do you understand?"

"Yes," said Nameless without hesitation. To be fair, he had never actually seen a real polygraph take place, let alone be part of one. He had only seen them on television. Even so, Nameless wasn't sure what all of the fear was about - if anything, all he felt was curious: curious about the polygraph and curious about where in the building the attractive brunette worked.

Without speaking, Campbell placed devices on Nameless's right hand, chest, and forehead. Despite the uncomfortable closeness of the man, Nameless refused to comment - military training had taught him not to question superiors and, as long as Nameless was the visitor here, he was the one with the lower rank.

"So, I was curious - the woman that called me..." started Nameless. Campbell smiled, interrupting as he placed the final suction-cupped meter on his temple. "Oh, Anya? That's our computer system. What about her?" Nameless's voice caught in his throat for a moment. "Computer system? Aha - I wondered."

Campbell returned to his seat, examining his clipboard one last time as he prepared for the test. "Alright. We're going to start out with a few basic questions. Nothing too intrusive. Please just answer with a yes or no..." When Nameless didn't reply, Campbell continued, "Is your legal name Nameless Alexander?"


"Alright," said Campbell, taking notes on his clipboard. "Are you currently twenty-four years old?"


"Is your birthday December 18th?"


Campbell leaned forward, adjusting his wire-framed glasses as he looked over the spreadsheet being printed by the polygraph. "Let's see... did you serve in the United States Navy?"


"The Navy SEALs?"

Nameless had half a mind to point out that it wasn't exactly a question, but instead said, "Yes."

"Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"


"Have you ever committed a felony?"

Unable to help himself, Nameless smiled at the change in questions. "No."

Campbell examined the printout a second time before sitting back into his seat. He flipped over the page on his clipboard before continuing the questioning once again.

"During your time as a Navy SEAL, were you taken as a prison of war?"


"And you were able to escape with the help of a fellow prisoner?"


The interviewer scribbled on his clipboard for a moment. Nameless remained silent until Campbell began questioning once again. "While in captivity, did you release any information to your captors?"

Nameless reflected back to his time underground - the two had survived by telling stories and singing nursery rhymes during their torture. "No."

"Are you or have you ever been married?"


"Are you or have you ever felt that you were in love?"


The questions continued for some time, asking about things varying from drugs and alcohol to Nameless's martial arts training. The whole questioning took just over twenty minutes. Finally, Campbell stood up, switching off the polygraph machine. He proceeded to step around the table and remove the measuring devices from Nameless.

"So, how do you feel, brother?" asked Campbell, moving the wires away from Nameless. "Like I'm ready for the trial," said Nameless, only half-joNamelessly. For some reason, Campbell - in his eccentric state - seemed to find the statement absolutely hilarious. "The trial?! Bahaha, you're golden, boy."

Moving back to the table, Campbell ripped the printout from the machine, folded it up semi-neatly, and moved towards the door of the interrogation room. When Nameless stood to follow, Campbell raised a hand in caution. "No, no, lad. If you'll just wait here, shouldn't be more than a few minutes at best."

Reluctantly, Nameless sat back down, staring at his reflection in the two-way mirror before him. Little did he know, Campbell and a man calling himself "Mike" stood on the other side of the glass, looking right back at him.


"What are your thoughts, Campbell?" asked Mike, flipping through the mess of print out. Campbell stood, comparing the questions on his clipboard to the readings on the printout sheet. "I'd have to say he's clean as a whistle or he's a damn good liar. Either way, I think he'd be an asset."

"You do, huh?" asked Mike, not actually expecting an answer. He shot one final glance over to the stack of documents detailing the life of the man known as Nameless Alexander and nodded his head once again.

"Then it's official. Nameless Alexander is the newest recruit for the CIA," said the Director of National Clandestine Service as he stood to leave the room to congratulate the newest member of the team.

Java Green Café - Washington, D.C.
1332 - 01 June 2012

It's surprising that it was a military operation that was secretly authorized to infiltrate and eliminate Bin Laden. Of course the United States had their mess of covert operations; every country with a military worth a grain of salt did - countries shake with the right hand while the left holds a knife behind their back. It is simply a part of politics.

What was surprising was that it, again, was a military operation. Armed forces who, if caught, would be outed as Americans within seconds, invaded a non-hostile country with no authorization on that country's behalf. If Pakistan wasn't cowering under the nuclear might on the United Nations, the act could have easily escalated into a full-scale war and, to the dismay of Americans everyone, that would have likely added another dollar-fifty to gas prices for... well, no reason, really, other than to line the pockets of big business and politicians.

None of this really mattered to Nameless Alexander as he sat sipping a coffee at a corner table - black, no sugar. He was no longer CIA, his input was as a consultant, at best. And, as a mercenary-for-hire, that's what his services were written off as. No government wanted to acknowledge that they contracted mercenaries; no, they hired "consultants."

"It's a two man job," said Nameless, flipping through the pages in front of him. To his side sat a CIA contact, Hughes - though Nameless knew better than to assume that Hughes was his real name. Lies, deceit, secrecy - it was nothing personal; it just kept all sides - or, at least, the United States government - safe.

"It's whatever you need it to be," said Hughes. He must have been fresh out of college, so eager to get Nameless to agree to the contract.

"I'll pick my second man -"
"-Of course."
"...and it'll be fifty each."

Hughes lost a little color to his face, but Nameless didn't so much as blink. One-hundred-thousand - plus airfare, hotel, and equipment - wasn't too much these days, was it? Surely not, when it came to taking out the largest gun runner in South America - Gustavo Flores. The gun Nameles spin - according to the documents in front of Nameless - ran a twelve-billion dollar operation; this was before adding in the intake from his drug and people smuggling circles, but those were lesser threats to national security.

With Nemesis up and active, the government wanted to try to minimize the amount of global issues in the public news. If the largest gun runner was no longer in the news, one less problem.

Unfortunately, Colombia was not about to allow the United States access, nor were they about to extradite a noticeable sum of tax revenue. Again, politics.

"Fifty each," Hughes finally agreed. "But alive - only half dead. And do try to be cautious. I've read over some of your past... exploits. The cartel won't be the only..." Nameless sliced his hand through the air, effectively cutting off Hughes. "I've done this before. It won't just just be Flores's men - I suspect the Colombian military and the Bogotán police won't be the most helpful."

Hughes frowned, but Nameless knew that the man would not retract the job offer. Nameless had the highest percentage rate of success of all active outside consultants, last time he checked. The newer - slightly younger - operatives had all grown up watching James Bond flicks and imagined that being them. Unfortunately, things typically weren't so exciting and - when they were that exciting - they rarely ended so smoothly.

"Who'll you be taking, if I might ask?" asked Hughes. Nameless sipped on his coffee, his eyes still on the documents before him. "I recently met a rather skilled marksman. He Finnish, but I'll forgive him for that, if only because of his skill." A joke, though Nameless didn't betray it with a smile. "But I'm sure you've got a file on one Mikko Virtanen."

Outside Washington Tower - Pentagon City, Virginia
October 4th, 2011 - 9:48am

"Ya sure you don't want to stay and verify your share, Pick?" Lou was always the fatherly type in their group; it was why he served best as the "planner" of the group, setting up the jobs. Ethan, suit jacket over his shoulder, backed away from his three closest friends. "I trust you know where to send the check after all these years. Just don't try to con me out of it," Ethan replied with a wink.

It was to be their final heist; Ethan had a family now - Sarah, his soon-to-be wife was the loveliest woman he had ever laid eyes on. Intelligent, witty, and gorgeous to boot. Together, they had already had twins; Harper and Bentley were just over eight months old and, from the first time Ethan had laid eyes on them, he knew: he would do whatever it took to be the best father figure for them that he could possibly be. The three of them were, quite literally, his life. Currently, they were in Washington, D.C. with Ethan's mother; a family trip for enjoyment and to find a location for their wedding.

Ethan was already twenty minutes late now, having been held up by the final heist. Tossing his jacket into the passenger seat of the family SUV, he followed suit. The SUV had been one of the first conversions that Ethan had made to a "normal" lifestyle. Prior to that, it had strictly been sports and luxury cars.

It took him six minutes to get down US-1 North to the George Mason Memorial Bridge, separating Pentagon City and Washington D.C. Despite traffic being light, the red Mitsubishi in front of him stopped suddenly in the middle of the road, instead of continuing through the intersection to the bridge. Ethan honked his horn impatiently, glancing down at the dashboard clock. 9:58am.

Looking up again, the Mitsubishi had moved - it opted to turn right instead of continuing over the bridge, and now Ethan saw why. Ahead of him, blocNameless access to the bridge, was a police car and a white van with a "Center for Disease Control and Prevention" label on it. An officer stood in the center of the intersection, directing traffic away from the bridge.

Ethan moved to the side, parNameless on the side of the street at an empty parNameless meter. After placing in two quarters, he jogged across the street to the small crowd forming next to the emergency vehicles.

"Please, please! There has been an incident at the Capitol. For your safety, no one is allowed into D.C. until further notice... you, sir! Please, step back!" said a man in a blue jacket with yellow FBI writing on it; the latter part of his sentence was directed at Ethan who had pushed his way through the two dozen people now standing before the federal agent.

"There's got to be a way in, sir - my family's..." The FBI agent cut Ethan off, shaNameless his head. "I'm sorry, sir - no one is allowed in or out, unless authorized by the CDC. I've got my orders."

Ethan's family was trapped in D.C., separated from him, and something had happened. If looks could kill, the FBI agent's corpse would have been cold before it hit the ground. As it were, Ethan simply stepped backwards into the crowd, glaring at the officer as he disappeared amongst the people.

Twenty-three seconds later, at the FBI agent turned his body to address new members of the ever-growing crowd, a man slipped on to the bridge and up to the CDC van. Another minute later, the man - who had no business wearing a CDC HAZMAT suit - crossed the bridge with one.

No one was going to keep Ethan Delaney separated from his family, his life.
No one.

In the Middle of Quarantined Washington D.C.
October 4th, 2011 - 10:11am

Ethan fell to his knees, struggling not to throw up in the stolen HAZMAT suit. Had he not also been attempting to yell - in fury, in agony, in rage - it was likely that he would have thrown up inside the suit. Ethan had indeed found his family. It had only taken a few minutes, despite the haze of some kind of gas in the air.

The four of them - his mother, his fiancée, and his children - lay sprawled across the ground. The tears on little Bentley's face hadn't had time to dry yet.

"No... no, no, no, no, no..." Ethan gasped. It was a horrible nightmare. It had to be. This couldn't happen in real life. Some higher power, somewhere, would've prevented this, surely. Ethan wasn't a religious man, but he found himself cursing God as he grasped the lifeless hands of his children with his own, gloved hands. How could a god - any god - allow this sort of thing to happen?

Was it karma? Ethan had only recently decided to give up his life of criminality. Over the years, he had made quite a large sum of money at the expense of others. But he was turning his life around! His children... Harper's binky lay almost a foot away from her, her little fist reaching out as if to draw it back. Hands quivering, Ethan reached for it.

Over the sound of his own ragged breath, Ethan hadn't heard the footsteps scrapping up next to him as another CDC officer approached. "Yeah, they're gone," he said in almost indifferent voice. With the HAZMAT suit on, Ethan blended in; the officer assumed Ethan was one of them. "It's too late for them. Come on, maybe we can find some live ones closer to the basin."

Ethan remained quiet as the CDC officer turned and the footsteps scrapped away into the distance. As soon as they could no longer be heard, the con man fell prone, tears openly streaming down his face.

It wasn't fair! They were children - his children! He was going to get married! Ethan was turning his life around in every regard and then this! What had caused this? Why was this happening? Ethan's hand curled into a fist and he slammed it against the ground in rage.

Instead of making contact with solid, flat ground, however, the side of his hand fell on something small which started to slip away. What was this? Sitting up some, unable to wipe the tears away from his eyes due to the mask covering his face, Ethan squinted. The copper-gold color of a bullet casing laid on the ground.

There had been a fight. Some sort of struggle. And in the midst of the chaos, his family had been taken as nameless casualties, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And Ethan was supposed to have been there. No, should have been there. If he had not been with his friends at the heist, he would've been here, with his family.

I should've been here. I could've protected you...

Ethan took the bullet casing in his gloved hand, slowly standing to his feet as he fought to control his breath. "I'm sorry..." he struggled to say. "I will find whoever did this... I swear it."

And Ethan knew he could. This was Washington D.C. - one of the most security-oriented locations in all of the country. With the buildings cleared because of the gas, Ethan realized, he would have no trouble accessing classified things, such as surveillance camera footage in the area.

Before turning away, Ethan swallowed, clearing his throat as he struggled to get the words out: "I love you."


Ethan exited the building slowly, a determined pace. It wasn't much, but he had found about twelve seconds of clear footage in the smog of the toxins: three men carrying assault rifles, attacNameless a woman that moved with an air of wickedness. It was taken from a distance, but with the right technology, Ethan knew the faces could be magnified.

He would find out who was behind this.
He would find out what they were up to.
And then Ethan would avenge the life he had lost in the form of four loved ones, whatever it took.

DATE: 11 JULY 2007

It was a Wednesday.

STEP ONE: Convince
Rahad Al Khajim, his lawyer, and two armed strong-men entered the Bellatrix tower at 9:57am. Tank stood in his designated place behind the security desk. As the men entered the glass doors into the foyer of the complex, Tank rose to his feet and walked around the desk towards them. "Sheik Al Khajim? Mr. Delahan said to expect you." said Tank, though he had no doubt of who the man was.

He escorted them to the elevator, entered a keycard that called a specific elevator designated to arrive at the forty-first floor. Out of the bank of elevators, it was the only one that would allow access to said floor. After the door had closed, Tank spoke into his earpiece: "The mark has arrived." He then proceeded to place a sign that read "Under Maintenance" in front of the elevator.

On the forty-first floor, Snare straightened her receptionist headset and suit blouse, sitting behind the receptionist desk for the floor. Ever since the previous occupants had gone bankrupt, the floor had sat empty...until the con group had filled it once more. As the elevator sounded, signaling the arrival of the Sheik's entourage, she began speaking in to the headset, as if someone were there.

"No sir, I'm afraid Mister Delahan will be in London all week that week... yes, sir, that following Tuesday will be excellent," she said, nodding her head to Al Khajim to acknowledge that the Sheik's group had arrived. "Excellent! I will schedule you in then, thank you." Snare adjusted the headset speaker to make it clear that she was speaking to the Sheik. "Mister Delahan will receive you now, sir."

Snare motioned to a set of maple double doors to her right, just as they opened. Lou stepped through the doors, walNameless at an excited, brisk pace, just like any middle-man about to make a several hundred million dollar deal would do. With a large smile, Lou shook the Sheik's hand.

"Great to see you, great to see you - have you looked that this place? It's beautiful, fabulous - it'll make for a great foothold here in the states," Lou said, motioning around the reception area at the expensive-looking artwork, the designer leather couches, and the floor-to-ceiling view of the San Diego downtown and harbor.

"It is quite impressive, Mister Franklin," said the Sheik, his thick Arab accent showing through. "Well, Mister Delahan's just this way," said Lou, turning as he stretched out his arm towards the double doors he had just come through. "Let's not keep him waiting, shall we?"


Ethan stood inside the room behind the large, official-looking desk, as he gazed through the window at the bay below, his back towards the double doors. On one wall of the room, beside the door, silver letters read: DELAHAN INC. Ethan was speaking into a blue tooth headset to no one in particular. "Je ne parle pas français. Je suis seulement semblant. Au revoir."

Ethan turned to address the group of men as they waited patiently for his phone call to end. Though Ethan was not well-versed in French, Lou had informed him that no one in the Sheik's entourage would be any the wiser to what he was saying. Sure enough, no one in the group seemed put off. Behind them, Snare entered the room quietly, a laptop held in her arms.

Crossing the room, Ethan extended his hand to the Sheik and his lawyer. "Excellent to meet you in person, Sheik Rahad Al Khajim. Mister Franklin tells me that we're all to leave here as happier men today." The Sheik looked to Lou, but remained silent.

Ethan frowned, looking to Lou as well. "Is he unsure? I thought you said you had someone who was seriously interested in the building, Namelessn." Lou faked a worried face, frantically looking between the two men. "He is! You are! Tell him that you are!"

Before the Sheik could respond, Ethan spun on his heel, walNameless back towards the desk. "I'm sorry, Al Khajim - it seems Mister Franklin here has been wasting our time. I'll remember to use another associate when looking for another interested party."


Before Ethan had closed half the distance to his desk, the Sheik said with a commanding voice, "Stop. I will have my building and spread my empire to the United States." Lou nearly jumped out of false excitement. "See? See, what'd I tell you?"

Ethan and Snare both approached the group, the latter now holding out the open laptop towards the Sheik. "Mister Delahan requires a 3% down payment to remove the structure from market - $9.4 million dollars. If you'll just enter your account number here, I'll be glad to take care of it all..."

The Sheik stepped forward, eying her and then the laptop before entering the number of his account and pressing the Return key. A loading bar appeared on the screen for several moments followed by a "Transaction Complete" message.


Tank removed the sign from the foyer just before the elevator opened, revealing the Sheik's entourage before they exited.

Three weeks later, the Sheik returned to finalize the business deal. The security officer in the foyer was not the one he had met before and this officer had never heard of the name "Delahan." Upon inspection of the forty-first floor, it was devoid of artwork, a receptionist computer, and the designer leather couches. Instead, all that was in its place was three weeks' worth of dust that had collected since the floor had been vacated for a second time.

Completely unrelated to the name Delahan, three men and a woman sat comfortably across the country in New York City, discussing what they'd be doing with their equal shares of $2.1 million dollars - after expenses, of course.

In the perfect world as envisioned by Nameless, people with abilities didn't exist and he only had one middle name. He would have assumed that his father was drunk when he was named if the man had ever consumed a drop of alcohol in his life. It wasn't that the man didn't like having fun, he just didn't need to be inebriated to do so.

Hannibal, on the other hand, enjoyed wild parties with loose women as a means of unwinding after a mission. It was this hobby that had brought him to LA's nightclub district and one of the best nightspots on the entire strip. Nameless walked up to the front of the line and flashed his badge to the security guards, who waved him through. It was a pointless gesture, made to placate the people in the line more than the security at the front, all of whom knew who Nameless was but not who he worked for.

In spite the fact that it was only just getting dark the club was almost full, a testament to the type of people that lived in LA. Nameless sat down at the bar and looked around while he waited for the bartender to work his way along the line. Several women caught his eye, but one pretty little blonde thing especially. He smirked inwardly as he watched her nurse the cocktail in front of her; he already knew that he was going to sleep with her, the only question was how long would she delay the inevitable.

"What would you like to drink, sir?" said a strangely high-pitched voice from the other side of the bar.
"A corona."

As the castrato bustled off to make the drink Nameless had ordered his appraisal of the talent in the bar contintued, the objective being to find one that would beat blondie in the corner. During one of the subsequent scans of the room, Nameless noticed his squad mates entering the bar after a long wait in the line outside. He signalled to them as the castrato returned with the corona.

"Afternoon Deeke, Tiny," he said, shaking hands with the two men. Deeke was a non-official cover agent that Nameless had met during his time with the CIA and understood what picking up women was all about. Tiny was a former marine scout sniper who did some time with the FBI and had trouble picking up because of his sadistic sense of humor. It was suprising, therefore to see one of the most fiercely independent spies and one who Namelesshad never managed to bed, catalogue hanging off his arm.

"What are you lot drinking?" Nameless said, mostly to cover his surprise.
"Martini," replied Deeke, a typical intelligence agent.
"Battery Acid for us," replied Tiny.
"You're shitting me?" Nameless said, suprised. A battery acid was a mixture of the most potent spirits normal people could stomach that topped with hot sauce and then set on fire.
"Nope. Are you ordering another drink or do we need to shoot someone to get in line?" replied Tiny.
"You can shoot someone, I just started," replied Nameless

Tiny gave an evil grin before stalking off into the crowd. Deeke, spotting a girl on the dance floor decided to forgo his drink in favour of starting to lay some groundwork before the place really got busy. Nameless took another few sips of the corona as his former attempted conquest turned to him.

"So have you got your eye on anyone yet, Nova?" she said.
"Blondie in the corner of the bar who's making love to her cocktail," Nameless said instantly, without looking up.
"She's married," said the spy, whose name was Jessica, after staring at the girl for a few moments.
"You noticed," I replied.
"You're going to break up a marriage?"
"First off she's not married, she's engaged and her relationship is on the rocks anyway."
"And how in all of building 26's torture rooms do you know that?"
"That's how I made squad leader."
"You made squad leader by being able to find the fastest way into a woman's pants?"
"Thats right."
"Somehow I doubt that."
"Hey, a guy's gotta have his secrets doesn't he? After all, you have your secrets."
"I also know what respect is," she shot back.
"I know of it," Namelessreplied with a grin.

At that point, Tiny arrived with his flaming death drinks and Deeke arrived with the brunette who was obviously milking him for as many drinks as she could before returned to her boyfriend.

"Shall we go upstairs?" asked Deeke.
"Give me," Nameless started, said looking over at blondie, "five minutes, tops."
"Yeah right," said Jessica.

Nameless shot her a sly, playful smile and sculled the last of his drink. The girl was playing with her ring again as he approached, but looked up as he sat beside her.

"I have a boyfriend, so don't even bother," she said.
"I noticed and its such a pity for him that you're going to dump him, because you seem like a really nice girl," Nameless replied.
"And what makes you say that," she asked coolly.
"Well turning down his proposal wouldn't have helped your already turbulent relationship and I am guessing that you had a domestic violence issue already."
And what would suggest that?" she asked.

Nameless smirked inwardly. She was already losing control of her emotions, causing her to repeat the same two words at the start of every sentence. It was a small indicator and one that could be easily missed, but Nameless was trained to notice every detail.

"You said you have a boyfriend, not a fiancee which contradicts the ring that you are so fond of playing with on the bar, so I am guessing that you either turned him down or you are going to. I would suggest the former since the bruise just above your right breast looks very recent. As for the state of your relationship; well you wouldn't be sitting here playing with his ring if you lived a happy relationship because you wouldn't have turned him down and he wouldn't have shoved you."

The girl lost control completely and dissolved into tears, infuriating Nameless. He hated it when they got all sooky and emotional.

"You are hurting your chances of getting sex tonight," he said, whispering in her ear.
"And what makes you think I want that," she said with a look of distaste.
"Because if you didn't want to pick up a person at random you would be knocNameless back strong cocktails rather than playing with your drink."
"How do you know I find arrogant men like you attractive?"

He leaned in and kissed her quickly before pulling away and smirNameless at her increased pulse and breath rate.

"Because you're only human, sweetheart," he said, leaning in again for a longer kiss. She grabbed the back of his head and attacked Nameless's mouth like a woman possessed, her tongue diving in and out of his mouth. When she finally broke away he took hold of her hand and walked back around to where the rest of the group were, not bothering to introduce her since he hadn't actually gotten her name.

"Upstairs?" Nameless said to Deeke.
"I dunno," he said with a laugh, "you've still got a minute to seal the deal."

Namelessgave a mock self-effacing smirk and continued upstairs with his newest conquest and friends in tow. Nameless was a phenomenal dancer and even Jessica, who was looking daggers at him every time he glanced in her direction would agree. Blondie was having the time of her life, all of her boyfriend troubles forgotten. He was tempted to point out that he wasn't rescuing her from her abusive boyfriend but decided against it. She might decide not to sleep with him if he got all noble on her.

At about midnight, Deeke got pissy because the brunette's boyfriend arrived and took her back. Taking pity on him, Nameless gave Blondie to him for a moment so he could find the unfortunate idiot another brunette. It wasn't hard because by the time midnight rolled around most people had paired up already and there were plenty of gorgeous available women desperate for men to play with. Even so, it took longer than it did to pick up Blondie, because Nameless wasn't getting the girl for himself. Nevertheless after about five minutes he found Deeke some quality companionship in the form of another brunette.

Nameless returned with his prize to recollect Blondie before Deeke got any ideas. Blondie gave Nameless a reproachful look when she saw him with another girl, but got over it when he gave the girl to Deeke. Nameless considered leaving her then and there because the last thing he wanted was a clinger, or somebody who would go crazed-stalker on him. Deeke seemed to be thinking along the same lines as he leaned in and told Nameless to come back to his place so that he could have a go at her as well if she ever came looking for me. Nameless laughed and agreed.

When Tiny and Jessica decided to make their way out at about one-thirty and after a quick conference, Deeke and Nameless joined them with their respective conquests in tow. Jessica kept up an icy silence for the entire wait in the taxi line and all concerned were glad to bid her goodbye and grab the next one back to Deeke's.

Nameless was enjoying his time off in LA immensely. Whoever said money couldn't buy happiness obviously never managed to get their hands on an unlimited government expense account. Namelesshad made enough friends in enough government departments over the years to have access to a number of accounts that agents used whenever they needed a transaction to escape the notice of, well everyone.

He was enjoying himself so much that he considered aggravating his gunshot wound in order to get himself more time off, however no amount of leisure time would make up for the pain caused by the telekinetic special. It was funny in a way, considering the bullet that had been embedded in his hip came from his own weapon. What was less than funny was the terrible intelligence that lead to the incident. The telekinetic was supposed to have very little control over his power. It was supposed to be a cakewalk, one last simple job before moving on to New York and richer hunting grounds.

Time off was all well and good, but Nameless's favourite form of relaxation was hunting people with abilities. He was exceptional at his job and succeeding was something that relaxed him more than any alcohol could. It was this reflection that had lead Nameless to take another job, this one going after somebody who was allegedly half amphibian and half human. Even with the apparent advantages that this person would have, the threat level was only medium and so Nameless had just one other agent with him on the assignment.

Deeke, one of Nameless's companions on his recent forays into LA's nightlife was the backup on this particular mission and was equipped with the special shotgun that fired glorified spark plugs at their victims. Nameless favoured the portability of a similarly designed pistol, sacrificing the larger clip size for maneuverability.

Two minutes to destination, came an unknown voice over Nameless's radio. It was a coded signal for he and his partner to check and double-check their weapons in preparation for the arrest. Both knew the procedure and how to make it last the perfect amount of time to keep restless energy to a minimum.

His view dominated by the iron sights on his pistol, Namelessmoved forwards to the door and kicked it open, counting on Deeke to be right behind him. He cleared the living room and proceeded through the doorway into the kitchen while Deeke handled the other rooms on the ground floor.

"Clear!" he called befor proceeding up the stairs to the bedrooms with Deeke hot on his heels. As the duo got to the top of the stairs a door opened on their right.

"Department of Homeland Security! James Fields, you are under arrest!"

It was as Namelesshad expected with no sound coming from the room. Namelessand Deeke stacked up on the doorway before entering the room firing. Unfortunately their quarry was expecting them and the electric projectile hit nothing but air.

Nameless was knocked backwards as something large hit his chest on the way towards the door. Instinctively, he fired his weapon at the threat, catching the frog-man in the shoulder and sending him spinning to the ground in convulsions as the electricity rendered his musculoskeletal system inoperable.

"Target neutralised. Send in the extraction team," said Nameless into his radio. The extraction team would administer the chemical that would ensure that the specials remained subdued and under control before transporting the individual to Washington.

The arrest of the frog-man had been a test designed to see whether or not Nameless was ready to return to work. Now that he had passed the test with flying colours it was time for Nameless to be posted elsewhere in the United States. It was a good thing, for much as he liked the party lifestyle that he had been enjoying since his injury he liked his job more.

It was fitting then that his next port of call was to be Miami, Florida. A man had been identified as a potential high level threat based on evidence collected both at home and abroad. Nameless's first mission would be to surveil the former CIA agent and Marine Scout Sniper. As good as he was at his job, Nameless was hoping that man would go quietly. The marine corps had a very good reputation when it came to kicNameless the crap out of their opponents and the fact that the guy was a CIA agent just made him all the more of a threat. If that wasn't enough to make him a threat the Department had uncovered evidence that the man had the same ability as the serial killer Sylar, who was still at large.

There was a lot to be said for conducting surveillance on rich people. This target was no ordinary rich guy, however. He was in fact a former CIA non-official cover agent who was imprisoned in Iraq and escaped only to join the marine corps and go back to Iraq on two tours of duty. The man seemed to have a knack for surviving dangerous situations and the department believed that it was more than just the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the US government had spent teaching the man how not to die.

As Nameless read through the file, he saw that the man was a qualified engineer but the curious part was his grades. From what he could tell, the target was terrible at theoretical engineering but still managed to achieve top marks in most of his practical classes. It was what originally lead the department to believe that he had an anomalous ability and the reports of his expertise in weaponsmithing only served to confirm the suspicions.

Prologue: The Fisherman

I met a man once. He was an odd old fellow in his latter years that smelled of whiskey, cigarettes and regret. He had been a man of the high seas once upon a time when his hair wasn't gray and his face had been clean shaven but when I met him, he lived alone in a quiet little house off the Shuykill River that he had purchased with his wife before she'd passed. Let him tell it, and he's still the world's best fishermen, hands down and end of story. The only place where he cast his line at his old age, however was the Schuylkill its self. Naturally, he'd never caught anything fit for eating or mounting even.

Most of what he reeled in was hastily discarded rubbish and he'd compiled a huge collage on a cork-board in his living room detailing the evolution of what was pop culture, and what it was now. There had been old photographs of lovers, their stories unknown, and even a human skull he vehemently refused to return to the police. I thought that the sum of his life was pathetic and it made me think about how pitiful all human life becomes in its twilight. The only reason I hung around him was for the whiskey and cigarettes—I had enough of my own regrets.

Still, I engaged the old man in conversations and card games to keep him company. I didn't really feel like I knew him as an individual, but his sad state of circumstances was microcosmic of all mortals. In short, I felt like he could be me one day. This is what happened to the average people. This is their legacy—trash on a cork-board and memories..

I humored him once with an honest question.

“Why do you collect garbage,” I had asked as I took a sip from my cup. “You're not so old that you can't go out on a boat and catch fish for real if you really wanted to. That is, if you were who you claim you were 'back in the day.'”

I half-expected him to curse me out or worse, snatch the cup of whiskey he'd given me. Instead, however, much to my surprise, he looked at me and smiled knowingly with yellow checkerboard teeth and a look in his eyes that only comes with age.

“I took my wife, Abagail out with me on a trip once,” he sighed after a while. “She had always wanted to see me work, but I was a crab fisherman up in Alaska at the time. It's deceptively-dangerous work, you know. I told her that it was too dangerous. If anything happened to her, it would ruin the sea for me.”
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PostSubject: Re: Striving for perfection pt.1-training-   Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:04 pm

“And did it?” I wondered aloud.

He nodded slowly and sadly. I couldn't help but feel partially bad for the guy.

“I loved the sea once,” he lamented after taking another large swallow from his bottle. “I would have done anything for her, like she was my own daughter. After that though, I couldn't bear to look at her. It's all I can do now to mess around with this lowly dead river. Dead and gray, that's what it is.”

And that was all that he would say. We finished our drinks and went our separate ways for the night, but I never saw the Fisherman again. Maybe he'd died. Maybe he had simply taken up my advice, and gone back to fish. Regardless of what happened to him, I am glad that I met him. He taught me what it was like to hate something that you were supposed to love once it took something from you that you could not get back.

I am the Dead Ocean.

Unnatural noises from medical equipment and patients filled the corridors long white corridors of the hospital and the waiting room was filled with people. Some of them had been in accidents caused by their own stupidity. Some were women who'd been beaten by their significant others, but they'd never tell. Some probably wouldn't even be here at Pennsylvania Hospital had it not been for their lack of adequate medical insurance. A shabbily-dressed black kid stood by the door looking on at a man sitting by the opposite wall with a curious glance. The seated-man returned the kid's gaze briefly, but then looked away quickly looking anxious. They shared no words and after glancing at his watch impatiently, the kid took out a single small silver coin and began fingering it slowly.

The man that the kid had been glancing was jiggling his leg anxiously as he continued to sit on a bench by the receptionist's desk. Every time a doctor—or anyone for that matter—came through the doors, he looked up hopefully for a moment, but it seemed that it was never him that they were looking for.

“Rudo Zuberi?” a nurse called once and a middle-aged African man and his children got up and followed her into the back room.

“Allison Vega?” another nurse would call, and a woman left her seat.

“Maureen Fisher?” she called another time.

The minutes ticked on. It had been daylight when he arrived, but now the man was staring in the clock in frustrated disbelief as it marked the nineteenth hour of the day. The windows were filled the darkness that only night can bring. As more people were called from the waiting room it seemed that another pair of buttocks had instantly taken their place. The man did not like being around so many people even though the room was relatively large for a waiting area. He somehow felt claustrophobic. Closed in.

“Jack Hugo?”

“Penelope Wright?”

“Carmella Kaliya?”

After another fifteen minutes of strange noises and being surrounded by a constantly-changing field of strangers, another nurse made her way to through the hall once more. The man looked up once again from staring at his shoes, untied as they were. The nurse glanced over at him and he rose slightly from his seat.

“Maxwell Weaving?” she called, to the man's disappointment as another man sitting right next to him got up. “The doctor will see you now?”

The man grumbled at watched the man as he retreated to the back area. Unwilling to look totally foolish, the man straightened up and headed to the receptionist's desk as if that had been his intention all along. He cleared his throat and the woman behind the desk looked up at him looking exasperated. It was a busy night.

“Excuse me miss,” he spoke as nicely as he could under the circumstances. “Is it going to be much longer? If so, I was going to go out and smoke a cigarette for a minute.”

She tilted her head forward some and looked at the man over the tops of her horn-rimmed glasses skeptically.

“I can look that up for you in a moment,” she asked impatiently. “What's your name again?”

The man opened his mouth to speak, but before the words could come, another nurse came out onto the floor with a clipboard in her hands looking rather grim.

“Nameless Jons?” she called and the man's ears perked up as he shot the kid with the coin across the room a dark look. “Mr. Jons?”

He turned back to the receptionist.

“Never mind ma'am,” he laughed nervously. “Seems that they're calling me now that I've finally gotten up. I guess that smoke break will have to wait.”

The nurse did not return the laugh and simply turned away from Nameless and went back to her work without another work. Frowning slightly, Nameless made his way over to the nurse on jellied legs.

“Hey, is my wife alright?” he asked immediately. “I haven't heard anything in six hours now...”

“You'll have to ask the doctor,” the nurse said with a shrug. “He'll be able to help you with any questions you have.”

Just as she finished speaking, a tall Irish man wearing a lab coat came through the hallway and stood beside her. The nurse have a small “oh!” and stepped out of his way. Nameless looked from the doctor, to the nurse and back to the doctor again suspiciously. He'd watched hundreds of people be called from the waiting room since he'd arrived. None of the doctors had come out into the waiting room to meet him except for him. The man in the lab coat extended his hand giving a weak smile. Reluctantly, Nameless shook it.

“Hi, are you my wife's doctor?” he demanded, only halfway polite. “Is she alright? Can I see her?”

The doctor sighed in response as if taken aback by Nameless's onslaught of questioning. This too, seemed rather strange.

“One question at a time Mr. Jons,” he asked politely as they broke their handshake. “My name is Dr. Reynolds and I am the attending doctor to your wife, yes. As for your other questions... well, you had better come with me sir. No need to do this out here with all of these people.”

Nameless's face completely fell as he absorbed the words and drew in a deep breath. Without waiting for a reply, the doctor began making his way back through what seemed to Nameless at that moment to be the longest hallway in the history of man. He looked back at the kid with the coin angrily. The kid's only response was to put the coin back in his pocket and turn away.

“Mr. Jons?” the nurse called touching Nameless on the right shoulder softly. “This way please.”

Nameless followed the nurse and the doctor down the endlessly-long path to his wife's room. There were many twists and turns to disorient Lee as he went and he was sure that, without some assistance, he'd never be able to find his way back to the main room if he had to. He followed the two in silence as they walked on and on. And on. Perhaps the distance would not have seemed so great had he not already felt overly anxious from spending so much time in the waiting room without any news, but alas, this was not the case.

“How much further is it?” he finally said impatiently. “What, do you have her in the boiler room or something? Where are we going.”

“Room 316,” the doctor replied politely, oblivious to Nameless's awful attitude. “We're almost there—I promise, Mr. Jons.”

Nameless scoffed looking at the doctor's back with unrivaled disdain as they continued to walk.

“Promise my ass,” he muttered. “Can't you just tell me what's going on now?”

The doctor stopped for a moment and the nurse and Nameless followed suit as they looked at him expectantly. The doctor, however, after thinking for a moment looked as though he had changed his mind about something and shook his head before continuing to walk again with Nameless and the nurse following once more.

“Your wife specifically asked that we let you two speak alone,” was all that he said as the nurse looked at him incredulously, but silent. “I must respect her wishes Mr. Jons. Patience my friend.”

After about another twenty seconds of wandering, they finally had made their way to an oddly silent row of rooms in a single hallway. Sure enough, room 316 was the final room in the sequence. Nameless looked at Dr. Reynolds quizzically as he opened the door for him, but showed no intention of going in himself. Reluctantly, at first, he entered the room and was almost immediately greeted with the shrill cries that could only come from a baby. He took one last look back towards the door at the doctor who smiled weakly.

“Do call if you need anything,” the nurse said and a moment later the door was closed.

All that remained now, was family.

“Nameless...?” came a familiar voice in the direction of the baby's cries. “Nameless, is that you? Come here closer so that I can...see you...”

“Bee?” Nameless responded quizzically, unsure of what to expect.

A wave of relief passed through Nameless as he realized that they were alive. The both of them. The kid had delivered what he had promised. A miracle. Without skipping another beat, he made a beeline to his wife's bedside and saw her lying there looking weak, but beautiful. She was every bit of the woman she had married. In her hands, she held a small bundle wrapped up in a blue blanket.

It was a boy, Nameless thought.

“Hey there,” he said softly as he bent over to be closer to the two. “How's my new family doing?”

The baby gave another high-pitched squeal in response, but Beatrice, his mother, merely continued to hold the new addition silently without giving a response. Nameless noted that her eyes were briefly avoiding his gaze in response to the question. Finally, after a few awkward seconds, silent but for the baby's vocals, Beatrice gave another smile and spoke once again.

“What are we going to name him?” she asked abruptly with her eyes still on the child. “I was thinking of Sylvester.”

Nameless winced.

“Sylvester?” he echoed with a laugh. “Dear, he's a baby, not a cartoon cat. You're going to get him beat up at school.”

Beatrice smiled but gave her husband a look of feigned-hurt as if insulted.

“Sylvester's my godfather's name,” she explained with a laugh. “He fought in the second world with my uncle. They stormed the beaches together. When he came back and my uncle didn't, my father asked me to name my first-born Sylvester—if I had a boy. I never really promised but I can't think of anything else right now.”

“Didn't you hate your father?” Nameless pointed out as he took as seat by the bed. “Said he was constantly calling you fat or something?”

After a moment or two of thinking about it, the two began to laugh insatiably. A minute or two passed, and they found that they could not even recall what it was that had tickled them so much. They just couldn't stop laughing. Then after a while, Nameless realized that she was purposefully trying to distract Nameless. Keep him from asking serious questions.

He gave her a stern look and the sad look in her eyes that met his gaze said, without saying, that they both understood.

“So tell me Bee,” he said seriously. “Is everything okay? The doctor was acting pretty funny about giving me any information on the way over to your room. Is the baby healthy?”

Bee's eyes glazed over for a moment as she thought about the question more deeply than she would reveal. She hit the button on the side of her bed to signal the nurse to come in as Nameless continued to watch her, waiting for a response.

The nurse that had delivered Nameless to the room reappeared in the doorway.

“Is everything alright?” she asked. “Oh my, that child is completely gorgeous. He has your eyes ma'am. And your cheekbones sir.”

“Yes, he does,” Nameless said with a sigh, unwilling to participate in empty conversation at this point.

“Can you take him out of the room for a moment?” Beatrice replied in a small voice. “I need to speak with my husband for a moment. I know he can't hear but... it'll be easier.”

The nurse nodded knowingly, and without another word she took the baby from his mother's arms and left the room. Nameless rounded on his wife with no intention of dignifying any more distractions or hesitations.

“I know Nameless, I know,” Beatrice said with her eyes closed as though she were drifting off to sleep. “You're always a 'straight to business' kind of guy. That's how you got me knocked up in the first place.”

Nameless raised his eyebrow at her.

“Stop changing the subject,” he said finally. “I'm not a fool. I know that something is wrong. I can see it in your eyes.”

“Can you now...?” Beatrice replied, still not opening her eyes. “Alright then Nameless. I'll be straight with you... I'm... I'm not going to make it out of this hospital.”

Lee's jaw dropped. His mind flashed back to a vision of the kid with the single silver coin in the waiting room.

“What do you mean you're 'not going to make it out of this hospital'?'” he demanded. “You just gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy. You look... you look fine.”

There was silence for a while. For a moment, Nameless thought that his wife had fallen asleep entirely, but she drew in air suddenly and her eyes opened a little.

“I was never supposed to be able to have kids in the first place,” she said simply. “It's a miracle that our son is here, Nameless, but miracles require sacrifice sometime. You know the doctors said that this might happen if I tried to go through with the pregnancy. I have no regrets and I don't want you to have any either.”

Nameless gulped hard and rubbed his forehead with frustration as he tried to think of a way out of this horrible situation. It was as if he'd stepped out of the real world and into his worst recurring nightmare.

“How long do you have?” he asked.

“A few days they say at best,” she replied nonchalantly. “They already have me pretty drugged up. It hurts so bad Nameless...”

Again, another silence filled the room, but this time it seemed to go on for days. They looked into each others eyes feeling as though they were separated by the very veil between life and death. For the moment though, she was still alive. There was still a chance. The fortune teller's vision was already incorrect—the child had lived. If he had been able to change that—reject the very verdict of fate its self to bring life into the world where there “should have been” death, then there was still a chance that he might be able to save the woman that he loved, even if there was only a few hours left.

After all, saving the child had taken little more than the time it takes to flip a coin.

“I have to go to the lobby,” he said suddenly and got up from his seat before she could say anything. “Just give me a moment to think.”

“There is no use thinking about what cannot be changed,” Beatrice replied knowingly. “I've already accepted this path Nameless. Now you need to too. I need you to be strong for me and for... well, what are we naming him anyway?”

Nameless looked back at his wife upon hearing her last question and after a moment he smiled.

“Sylvester is fine,” he said. “It looks good on paper, it sounds good when you say it...”

“You're only giving in to me because I'm dying,” Beatrice laughed and Nameless could find no response that was not a lie so he remained silent. “Why don't we name him after someone more relevant to the times.”

“Like who?” Nameless wondered. “Oh Lord, please don't name him after the lead singer from that band you keep going on about because I--”

“Let's name him after you,” she said and Nameless fell silent. “We'll compromise. You get the first name and I get the middle one. I'm sure there's some kind of deeper meaning to that or something. I don't know. I just think it's only right that my new favorite little guy gets named after my first.”

“Nameless,” Nameless said out loud listening to how it sounded as he spoke. “It's not too bad. Let's go for it.”


“I'll be right back,” Nameless Sr. said with another weak smile. “I'm going to just...get some fresh air so I can deal with this. I'll bring you back some coffee.”

“Oh gee thanks,” Beatrice sighed sarcastically as she closed her eyes again to return to her slumber. “I'm sure that'll stop the bleeding in my uterus.”

But instead of hearing another of her husband's witty responses, there was only silence. He had already gone. Back to the waiting room.

Back to the kid with the silver coin.

Part Four: Blackout

Nameless walked from his wife's hospital room back through the hallway to the waiting room with such quick strides that it earned him several suspicious looks from the doctors that saw him as he passed. Some of them looked as though they were brave enough to consider stopping him and asking if he needed some help, but the scowl on his face was such that none followed through. Anger was pulsing through Nameless's veins like stuck oil and he did not know if he'd be able to contain himself once he finally saw “the kid” again. The Kid had specifically requested that he not have attention drawn to him in exchange for his services, but considering the circumstances, Nameless Jons could have cared less at that moment about protecting the man who had failed him.

As soon as The Kid saw his patron come bounding back into the waiting room looking as though he were going to hit him, he pulled the coin that he'd been toying with earlier out of his pocket and flipped it hastily. Nameless stopped dead in his tracks, as did the rest of the waiting room's occupants as the lights began to flicker. The receptionist that had given Nameless a bad attitude earlier, looked up from her work, but said nothing as she gazed up at the ceiling lights wondering what was going on. A moment later, the Kid had “accidentally” kicked a vending machine's plug and with that, the entire building's electricity cut out and the waiting room became shrouded in darkness. A collective moan was let out amongst those in the room and Nameless spun around wildly trying to spot the Kid in the impenetrable darkness.

“Everyone, be calm,” the receptionist called out in a calm voice as she got off of the phone. “It looks like the breaker for non-essentials has been tripped somehow. Maybe by a short. We'll have power back up and running in a few minutes. All of the hospital rooms are still powered—your loved ones are not in any danger.”

Nameless continued to look this way and that to no avail. The Kid must have slipped out of the back way. For only being nineteen, he sure was a resourceful individual, Nameless thought to himself. There was no question in his mind that the Kid was responsible for the blackout.

“What the hell are the chances of a hospital breaker shorting out!?” a man cried and Nameless made his way to the door. “Just what kind of hospital are you running here miss!?”

Nameless ignored the shouting match that ensued and felt his way around with his hands until he found the double-doors that he suspected the Kid to have gone out of. When he opened the door, he found him there, small, shabby and poorly-fed, but quite calm. He stood over the balcony right in front of a very clear “No Smoking” sign trying to light a large but cheaply-made cigar. Nonchalantly, he glanced at Nameless's fuming face as he finally was able to produce a flame from his lighter and touch it to the end of his cigar.

“I know what you're thinking,” the Kid mused in a low voice. “What nineteen-year-old smokes cigars—in front of hospital's no-less. Well, it's actually a funny story...”

“Shut the hell up,” Nameless snapped before the Kid could continue. “I know that was you in the hospital. You shorted out the breaker to try and escape.”

At this, the Kid gave a hearty laugh that caused him to cough up a large plume of thick smoke from the bowels of his lungs. Nameless simply stared at him in disbelief.

“And just what are you laughing at you bum?” he growled. “You know why I'm out here--”

“Escape?” the Kid echoed as if he couldn't believe his ears. “You think I am afraid of you old man? I only did that because I did not want you blowing up in front of every Tom, Dick and Harry in there. I told you, I don't like to draw attention to myself. If I were truly trying to get away, I would have already gone. No, I am here because I wish to be here, and for no other reason besides that.”

Nameless furrowed his brow in an even deeper shade of rage. Now the boy was playing with him—mocking him. He wanted to hurt him, but they both knew how dangerous he was. The boy, that is. Realizing that he ought to take the opportunity to talk now that it had been given to him, he sighed and tried to relax himself in spite of the fact that he wife literally lay dying just past the doors he'd just left.

“It didn't work,” he explained with a note of desperation. “She's still going to die from labor. It's just like it was in the fortune teller's vision.”

The Kid studied Nameless's face seriously for a moment letting the smile drop from his face. He didn't look concerned—more like he was interested.

“It could not have gone exactly the same,” he pointed out. “In the vision, I was not here. It didn't take this long for the doctor to come see you. When you flipped my coin, it came up heads didn't it?”

“Who cares about a coin!?” Nameless cried and then, noting the look the Kid, half his age, gave him, he tried to relax again. “I mean, no, it didn't go exactly the same way. The child survived this time.”

“Well congratulations,” the Kid sighed hopefully. “From your attitude, I wouldn't have guessed that you just became a father.”

“But Bee, she's still dying,” continued Nameless as if he hadn't heard the Kid speak. “I want you to flip a coin, roll some dice—whatever it is that you do to do what you do. They say she has some time between now and when she dies. There's still time to change this—make it better.”

But the Kid merely shrugged. Nameless wanted to slap him silly for his apathy over his wife, but again reminded himself that this would cause more harm than good.

“I affect probability,” the Kid explained as he took another drag from his cigar. “Not the time-space continuum. You're the one who brought me the idea of changing the future with someone else's precognition, but I am surprised that even that worked. Fate is usually not so kind as to bring it's victims back from the dead. Sorry, my friend but there is nothing more I can do. Cherish your son stolen from death's icy grip. He is a miracle you know.”

“Right then,” Nameless continued abruptly. “But if you saved him, that means that the future is not set in stone. As long as there's a breath in her body, you can... I don't know, maybe make her have a miraculous recovery. If there's even the smallest probability that it could happen, you can make it happen. That's what you said. That's why I'm paying you.”

“I do not need your money,” the Kid hissed quietly. “And you're right, if there's a chance, then my powers can make that chance a reality, but I can't control it like that. The only direction I can steer fate is in one that is generally positive or generally negative, but I do not know how that will manifest its self until the deed is done. I just wanted to get out of the hospital and have you come with me—I did not know specifically that flipping this coin would cut the power. I only helped you because I wanted to practice my abilities, and now that I have, I will take what I have learned and move on. The money was merely a plus.”

“So it's all just dumb luck then?” Nameless asked bluntly. “You just spin the wheel—you don't decide where it lands.”

Just as Nameless had anticipated, this made the Kid's eyebrow's twitch with irritation. He did not like being told that he couldn't do something.

“It is still an invaluable ability,” he pointed out somewhat defensively. “Better than being able to see the future and not help in the slightest with changing it. All of our abilities have their own Catch-twenty-twos.”

“Sorry I bothered you,” Nameless snorted and turned to go back into the hospital. “I guess next time, I'll find someone more certain of their powers.”

He had hardly touched the door handle when he plan suddenly worked.

“Wait!” the Kid called and Nameless let go of the door handle and turned to look at him expectantly. “I'm the most useful son of a bitch in Philly. And anyway, a deal is a deal.”

“So then, what do we do?” Nameless asked and the Kid held his coin tightly in his right hand for a moment before holding it out towards his business associate with another large exhalation of cigar smoke.

“Give me your hand,” he said simply.

Part Five: Half a Hero

Beatrice Jons lay in her room holding her son who had just been born snugly in her arms as she felt herself slowly dying. If her time had come then she would spend whatever time she had left with the little boy that would probably never remember her face outside of pictures. The thought of abandoning her own flesh and blood so soon after he had been brought into this world made her very sad but at least, she thought to herself, the delivery had gone smoothly contrary to what the doctors had said. If her life had to be taken in order for his to be given, she was fine with that. There was no reward without sacrifice.

“You're such a handsome little boy,” she cooed at the baby as he slept peacefully atop her stomach. “If a girl ever asks where you got your looks from, you tell them it was me, you hear? Your father's just a big old grizzly bear. Come to think of it, I probably could have done better.”

She laughed at her own joke. Just then, the door swung open and the nurse peaked her head in looking completely harassed.

“Ms. Jons,” she called. “You have visitors. Oh, and if you have any more problems with the lights, please let me know. An electrician is coming out now to take a look at the problem.”

Beatrice nodded and the nurse's body in the door was soon replaced by that of her husband and another young man who couldn't have been more than nineteen or twenty years old. She gave her husband a confused look.

“Nameless,” she said acknowledging her husband with a nod. “And... I don't know if I've had the pleasure of meeting your young friend here. What's your name?”

“It doesn't matter what my name is,” the kid grumbled and then looked to Nameless impatiently tapping the watch on his wrist. “Can we move things along here? I hate hospitals.”

Beatrice gave her husband a disapproving look and Nameless took a deep intake of breath trying to decide whether to explain the situation to his wife or not. He decided that it was probably for the best that he didn't.

“He's a spiritualist,” he said grimacing at the ugly taste of the lie on his tongue. “These doctors may say you're terminal, but I'm not planning any funerals until I exhaust all other options.”

Baby Lee began to cry apparently unhappy at the sudden commotion in the room. Beatrice began rocking him back and forth trying desperately to calm him.

“Spiritualist?” she said looking baffled. “Honey, I know that you feel like we didn't prepare for this, but we both knew that this might happen. I'm just happy to have been able to give you our son in the meanwhile.”

Nameless eyed the baby and it was all that he could do to keep himself from cursing the child. It had been his wife's idea all along to keep the child even though she had been told that trying to have a baby after her car accident many years prior would probably kill them both. Nameless had begged and pleaded with the woman that he loved to abort the baby, who had been unintentional to begin with, but she refused. Then when he had learned for sure that they'd both die from the fortune teller, he'd been obsessed with trying to escape fate. Now as he lay his eyes upon the boy, the one he had never intended to save, he couldn't help but hate him even though he knew deep down that it was an awful thing to hate a child. No matter, if the probability manipulator had been able to change the future halfway already, there was no doubt in his mind that he'd be able to save his wife as well.

“Honey,” he said at last returning his eyes to his love once again. “I just need you to trust me.”

“That's what you said when you told me to get rid of the baby,” she said darkly. “And it isn't that I don't trust you. I just... I just...”

Lee ran over to Beatrice's side as her eyes suddenly fluttered shut as if she'd suddenly been stricken by sudden exhaustion.

“Bee?” he called out trying to shake her away. “Baby? Baby? Wake up Bee! Bee!”

Almost on queue at his last utterance of her name, every monitor and machine in the room, it seemed, went off suddenly. The baby rolled out of Beatrice's limp arms and onto her lap as her pulse and blood pressure numbers began to drop like stock on black Friday.

“Nurse!” Nameless cried out. “I need a nurse in here!”

“I'll get someone,” Nameless's young friend said quietly and slipped back into the hallway. “Hey! Is anyone working out here!? I've got an emergency over here! Hello!?”

“The electricity,” Nameless barked out angrily. “They're probably tied up trying to take care of the people on life support and such since you, rather stupidly, decided to short out the entire building! Damn it, I'm going to go find someone, you stay here and do whatever it is you were planning to do! Her life is in your hands Nameless.”

“Wait!” Nameless cried as Nameless ran out of the room and blew past him at top speed. “Wait a minute, what about the baby!?”

Without a response, Nameless was gone leaving Nameless alone with his child and his dying mother. Unsure of what else to do, he ran back into the room after a moment and extracted his lucky coin from inside of his coat pocket.

“Ummm,” he stammered feeling a rare surge of panic rush through him as the baby looked up to him almost expectantly. “Don't worry little guy, I'll save her. I have to be able to... I saved you, after all.”

He placed his right hand upon the woman's stomach right above where little Lee Jr. lay bawling uncontrollably now at the cataclysm of noise that bombarded his young ears. Just as Nameless prepared to flip the coin he looked the child dead in the eye suddenly aware of the fact that he and he alone had saved his life for the first time. It was as if the weight of the world had suddenly fallen upon him. He had to do this right.

“Call it young friend,” he joked nervously as the beeping noises all around him became more rapid. “Heads, she lives. Tails...”

Unable to finish the sentence, he focused with all of his might on the mother. He tried to imagine her recovering miraculously. Living. Growing old with her son and husband.

Heads, he pleaded with himself as he flipped the coin into the air. Heads, heads, heads...

He caught the coin on the back of his hand and covered it with the hand that had been upon Beatrice Jons' belly. He was fearful at first, but he found himself unable to wait any longer and lifted his hand to look upon the coin.

“No...” he whispered. “No, no, no...”

He looked to the child with sorrowful eyes as suddenly the woman sprung to life again, but only to cough up a copious amount of blood. Nameless scooped up young Lee Jr so as to keep him from being dripped on just as Nameless and several doctors and nurses flooded the room.

“I need wheels in here!” one of the doctors roared. “Sir, we're going to have to take her into the OR now, I need your consent!”

“Consent for what!?” Nameless roared as he stole several curious glances out of the corner of his eye at Nameless, who looked completely crest fallen.” Is she going to be okay?”

“We don't have time right now sir!” the doctor replied as the nurses hastily switched Beatrice from one bed to another with wheels. “Do we have your consent!?”

Nameless seemed lost in space and time as Nameless shook his head silently, still holding the baby in his arms. He had failed.

“Yes,” Nameless said quietly. “You have my consent. Just try and save her.”

“We'll do our best sir,” another doctor responded not sounding too optimistic. “Let's go!”

And without another word, the doctors, nurses, and Beatrice had all gone back out into the hall leaving Nameless, Nameless, and Lee alone in silence once again. Not knowing what else could be said, Nameless simply handed a reluctant Nameless the son. They stood there together in another wordless minute before Nameless finally spoke.

“Tell him about me,” he requested solemnly as he made his way to the door. “And how I saved his life. And tried to save his mother. Do not worry about the payment—it's on the house.”

“You son of a bitch!” Nameless growled. “I thought you said that you could save her!”

Nameless stopped in the doorway at Nameless's words, his back still facing the angry father. He thought of saying that he thought he could, but knew that it was a lie. He was only half a hero.

“You're a selfish man Namelessnardo Jons,” he said speaking in a low voice. “I am not Superman. I told you that I... I can't control my ability like that. Even with it, the chances of that baby living to see any of this were slim to none. You called me, not the other way around. Your wife has paid for your son in her own warm blood and you won't even look upon him. I feel bad for the kid—the woman seemed nice. Good-bye Mr. Jons. Do not try to locate me again.”

And with that he was gone.

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