150 meters to the ground
There’s a quietness that happens when you fall for a long time, as
if the world suddenly hushed itself, only the sound of the rushing
wind to occupy the space you filled a moment before and above. I see
the windows of the Centaur building rush by, floor by floor, most
are shattered and broken by the explosion that sent me over the rooftop
ledge. I see the falling debris, and the man I tried to save, following
me as I plummet to the ground, slowly distancing themselves from me.
All is so peaceful, so perfectly quiet, like a dream of a dream… My
name is Akritar Bane, and today’s the day my life ends.
the other recruits of Apocalypse were called upon to investigate the
overtaking of the Centaur Towers in Skyway City by the Hellions. It
is part of our daily routine as the newcomers into the Turbo Starr
Academy of Heroism, to aid and assist the police force in minor to
medium threats in the city. Our instructors were severe and demanding,
and it was expected of us to face dangers, under supervision, of course.
Cavalier, the legendary hero, and also chairman of the board to the
Emergency Committee of Paragon City (ECPC), was accompanying us on
this one. This wasn’t our first outing as a unit, but it would be
When we reached the building, Pixy the controller, Deatheater
and Kyoku Shinkai the scrappers along with Cypheria the defender and
myself, were briefed by lieutenant Wincott of the Paragon Police,
that Hellions had taken over the building, and were demanding the
liberation of inmates from the Brickstown prison. They were hauled
up on the last floor of the seventy story high building. We were to
go in, flush them out, and assist in the arrest of the gang members,
while limiting damage to property. All power to the building had been
cut out upon the arrival of the police force.
The team proceeded to
the floor in question, quietly sneaking from shadow to shadow, assessing
the situation. The Hellions lookouts were taken out swiftly and quietly
by Deatheater and Kyoku, assisted by Pixy. Most of them never knew
what hit them. While me and Cypheria scouted ahead to find the core
location of the opposing force. We found them holed up in an office,
all twelve of them, pacing to and fro, in front of five office workers,
hostages. The first thing Cypheria noticed, was the gang leader, holding
on to some kind of remote control, which was identified as a detonator
switch for an as of yet, unknown bomb. The second thing we noticed,
was the presence of firearms, preventing us from rushing them. Moving
back to our safe location, we decided to find the exploding device
first, and dispose of it, if we could, if not, to call in the bomb
squad for safe removal.
When Kyoku radioed in, on the Apocalypse frequency
that the bomb was on the roof, right under the helicopter landing
platform, the team moved up there. The device was a simple TNT assemblage,
with a clock like timer which indicated two hours left before detonation.
Our team leader, Pixy, informed Cavalier right away of the situation.
A few minutes later, the perimeter of the building was cleared by
the police, which removed itself to a safer distance, while the bomb
squad was called in. Pixy then ordered the scrappers and Cypheria
to move back down, and fashion a plan to subdue the Hellions without
injuries to the hostages, putting in charge Deatheater. While me and
her remained up on the roof. My powers being rooted in gravity, I
could’ve easily lifted the bomb up and away, but the chance of a motion
trigger couldn’t be ignored, so we simply kept a wary eye on the device.
Minutes seemed to be on a stand still, while we were watching the
timer on the bomb, while we were waiting for Deatheater to report
back that they were ready to move in.
The sounds of the first gun
shots, muffled and dry, broke the silence. Pixy and I exchanged worried
looks, filled with unkown anticipation. What had happened, the team
wasn’t supposed to move in yet. Then, on the Apocalypse frequency,
we heard the voice of Kyoku screaming : “Code Red, Code Red”
yelled for me to remain in position, while she rushed to the rooftop
door, running down the stairs. I looked about, not sure if I should
hold position or help them. But my limited experience, had at least
thought me to follow a direct order. Not doing so, usually resulted
in more hazards than results. Guns were firing on the floor beneath
me, I also heard the sound of a crashing window, sounds of a scuffle
were making their way up to me. What was going on? My train of thoughts
was broken up, when the rooftop access door crashed upon, to let in
the Hellion leader and a male hostage, both of which looked terrified.
“Stay back, hero, or I blow us all to kingdom come” said the gang
“Let him go” said I, while slowly moving towards the hostage
with an outstretched hand.
Our training included hostage crisis situation,
and I was about to apply my manual to the letter, when a flurry of
motion coming from behind distracted me. Deatheater came onto the
scene, rushing the leader from behind. He kicked him in the ribs,
sending him flying over the edge. Seeing the opportunity, I started
a run towards the hostage, to tackle him down, for safety reasons.
The hellion leader disappeared from sight, falling to the ground.
That’s when the bomb exploded, that’s when I felt the searing heat
in my back, when the force of the exploding device, sent me and the
hostage over the edge. What happened to Deatheater after this moment,
I do not know.
The silence broke in, the falling sensation took over.
In my semi-consciousness, I flipped myself over, to look up. I could
see the man, screaming as he fell, following my descent. I knew I
was in a bad shape, the heat from that explosion, and the shrapnel
must’ve injured me a great deal. The smell of charred skin filled
my nostrils. More out of sensation than anything else, I knew the
ground was coming to meet me, I knew I would crash onto the pavement,
never to open my eyes again. But, what if, what if…
in astonishment, helpless to do anything but be a bystander. It had
all happened so fast, he didn’t even have time to bark an order to
the recruits to fall back. The roof exploded, and he saw them falling,
saw the recruit, what was his name, he couldn’t recall, and he saw
the hostage, both plummeting to the ground. No one would reach them
in time, no one. When he saw the recruit, Akritar Bane, he now recalled,
outstretch his hand, a mere twenty feet from the ground, he knew a
hero was born.
As if reaching towards the falling hostage, Akritar
Bane did the last thing he would do for anyone. Using what strength
he had left, he called upon his control of gravity to hold the man
that was about to hit the ground a second after him, long enough to
stop his descent, long enough to save his life. The man was stalled
in his fall, as if tripping over himself, stopping for a second or
two, fifteen feet above the ground, then fell once more. He landed
without ceremony, face first on the pavement. He would suffer from
a few minor injuries, but would live to go home.
The emergency units
moved in, to surround them. The man was still screaming from fright,
unable to contain himself, unable to comprehend that he was still
amongst the living. Next to him, motionless, broken, eyes open in
an empty look, laid Akritar Bane. All attempts to revive him would
prove useless, but were still done by EMT present there.
"Wake up traveller..."
Thomas Bane jerked up straight in his bed.
Covered in sweat, heart pounding, breath ragged and teeth clenched.
The black onyx that composed his skin and the tensed muscles of his
body told of battle weariness. The fifty-four years old man, known
to the public as Voyager, threw the bed sheets away from himself,
as he stood up to walk to the wash basin of his prison cell. There
was no other prisoner here, no other guests. Thomas Bane was the only
human present in the fortress known as the Storm Palace.
In a truce
negotiated during the Firebase Zulu war, Voyager had been left in
the care of the Elementals, who referred to him as the "fire lord".
They were afraid of him, but also had a tremendous, yet not quite
understood reverence for the man. In their language, his name translated
to the "Traveller", a creature of legend born eons ago, that sometimes
fought for good, sometimes fought for evil, but always holding the
balance between the two carefully. They saw in Voyager the incarnation
of this "Traveller", and because of that, treated him as a guest who
Splashing fresh water on his face, Voyager looked
at himself in the mirror. Staring blankly into his fiery red eyes,
Thomas Bane started to cry...
"My son....My son is dead..."
to his knees on the ground, pounding a fist on the granite floor,
he cried and screamed, undisturbed.
"It always begins this way, Traveller."
Cat stood on the Liberty Bridge tower, looking over Independence Port,
basking himself in the light of the fading sun. It was always a calming
sensation to come here, and look at things from a vintage point. He
wasn't a known hero to anyone, not even a rumour of one, and yet,
he was the leader of the most ruthless hero organization of the city.
The Hunters of Apocalypse.
The Hunters were the secret branch of the
well known Riders of Apocalypse. They were, in themselves, a unit
answering to no one, directing their own agenda, and most importantly,
not held back by any laws or rules of conducts. They were a shadow
organization, always moving in secret. They named themselves the Hunters,
and were selected from the Turbo Star Academy of Heroism early on,
to undergo the most gruesome training. The recruits simply vanished
from the public eye. No one has ever proven the existence of the Hunters,
and their actions have never been reported in the news, so far.
Hunters, never arrested anyone, where they go, angels fear to thread.
They are exactly what the name implies, predators, praying on the
predators. They do not exact vengeance, extract justice or advocate
for peace... They eliminate the selected targets. And Bear Cat was
one of the few who decided what those targets were.
Letting his mind
drift with the wind, Bear Cat thought about all the work accomplished
so far, all that still lay ahead. The city truly needed the Hunters
to act as cleaning agent. The other hero organizations were too restrained
by the public eye. Funny how not being known, helped accomplished
so much, how the Hunters walked a thin line between good and evil,
but never crossed it long enough to be one or the other.
he saw his target, the limousine of an influential yet corrupted city
representative. Bracing himself, he jump from the bridge tower, his
target was clear and in sight. He would land on that limousine rooftop,
more than likely, crash through it, and kill all occupants. No witnesses
Something wicked this way comes.
Turbo Starr sat at his
office, reviewing the latest reports from the various departments.
The academy was now host to more than one hundred and fifty recruits,
its reputation spanning around the world. To think that a year ago,
this very same academy, only housed a chosen few. More than four hundred
requests for admission had been received in the last two months, and
this was troubling him. The super-power community was growing faster
than anticipated. And if some of these applicants were not taken in,
the ramifications could be disastrous. It took a good deal of training
to turn an uncontrolled explosion that was a new hero, into a self
contained reaction. Newspapers were filled with the horror stories
of undisciplined heroes destroying city blocks while attempting to
arrest a low ranking gang member. The academy had a purpose, and it
was understood by all who came here to learn.
His reverie was broken
by the ringing of his phone. His secretary knew full to screen his
calls. Although he was annoyed, he answered promptly.
here.” He said in a decisive voice
“This Dr. Jenkins from the University.”
Said a female voice
Dr. Jenkins was the head teacher of the archaeological
department at PCU. Turbo had contacted her soon after the Firebase
Zulu incident to hire her services as an historical expert. He had
asked her to look into the “Traveller” legend the Rularuu host believed
in so much, the very same tale that had kept them from killing Voyager
when they had finally subdued him.
“What can I do for you, doctor?”
“The ancient Arameen text we deciphered recently contained
some mistakes, which were just clarified. The part that mentioned
the birth of a child, was actually translated wrong, it should read
the death of a child.”
“Could you read to me the whole thing again,
doctor?” Asked Turbo, this time trying not to sound bored by this
“Before darkness falls to ground,
Before the spirits
will be found,
The death of a child for the traveller,
the war monger.”
“After the darkness falls to ground,
And the spirits
follow it down,
The wind frees the traveller,
And the dogs of war
The office door crashed open, to let in Cavalier. Turbo
gestured with a hand for him to wait. He told Dr. Jenkins to fax a
copy of the text to his secretary, and thanked her for the new information
then hung up. Cavalier stood there, at attention.
“Bad news?” asked
Turbo Starr to his most trusted captain.
“We lost a recruit today,
boss. Akritar Bane died saving a civilian.” Said Cavalier, who never
enjoyed reporting to his boss about such matter. Every time a recruit
died, the newspaper started questioning the wisdom of using academy
recruits in real life situations. But how else do you train crime
Turbo fell back on his chair, eyes lost in the distance.
Only a chosen few knew that Akritar Bane was the son of Voyager. When
the admission form was received, three months ago, Turbo had rushed
his acceptance into the academy, afraid to let the child of one of
the most powerful mutants he knew of, roam the city of Paragon without
training or purpose.
“The death of a child for the traveller, brings
forth the war monger.” Whispered Turbo Starr….
The Hunters are recruiting
prison, 2 AM
Escorted by guards through D block, Shadow-Step was wondering
what was going on. They had woken him a few minutes ago, put magnetic
shackles on wrists and feet, and told him to come along. All he knew
is that someone was here to meet him. He was being led to the exercise
yard. What was going here, last time anyone came to see him, was a
month ago, when his lawyer told him that his appeal had been turned
down, due to his conduct in detention, which was less than pleasing.
Numerous fights, refusal to submit to prison rules, various incitements
to riot. All of these had gotten him thrown into solitary on a regular
basis. But he didn't regret anything, this world was meant to be tamed,
by any means necessary, and one day...One day, he would roam free
Entering the yard, basked in a half moon light, Shadow-Step
saw a tall, hulking figure standing beneath the east sniper tower.
The guards remained by the door, guns at the ready, while he trudged
to meet this unknown visitor. There was nothing familiar about him.
"You got a funny schedule to wake me up for a conversation, man."
Said Shadow, as he stood at least a head shorter in front the man.
"How's the prison life, Shadow-Step, food still tasteless?" Asked
the soft, deep voice.
"Food is lousy, inmates are annoying, and I
can't seem to get along with the warden, at all." Answered Shadow
"I am told your appeal has been turned down, so
that means you're in for the long run, fourteen years to go right?"
"Yeah, so, what's it to you?" Shadow-Step didn't like to be caught
by surprise, this guy wasn't a hero, or police related for sure, there
was something edgy about him, something more of the wolf than the
"I am here to offer you a once in a lifetime proposition, turn
it down, and it will never be offered again, accept it, and you will
never know true peace again."
"Right, huh huh, and then what, you
gonna fly me to Brazil and have my kidneys removed or something?"
Shadow always was quick with a joke.
The hulking figure took a step
forward, covering him with his shadow.
"Listen well, for I will not
repeat. You are in jail because you were found guilty and charged
with killing seventeen gang members, injuring five policemen, and
destroying public property, throw in with that disorderly conduct
while in prison with various misdemeanours. If you keep it up, you
will die here." The voice was dead serious, and truly uncaring. A
harsh man, a tough guy.
"So what, the Hellions deserved what they
got, and the police should’ve stayed out of it, and as far as my less
than pristine conduct here, it ain't none of your bizwacks." Answered
Shadow, as he spit on the ground, next to the man, in a sign of challenge.
Of course that guy could probably pound him into next week, shackled
as he was, but who gives a flying fuck, Shadow-Step bows down to no
"I am here to offer you a job, a lifetime job. If you accept,
you will work for me, answer to only me and a chosen few, and you
will do my bidding. If you try and flee, I will kill you, if you fail,
you will more than likely die, if you succeed, you will never be rewarded.
What I am offering you is ticket out of jail, but if the authorities
catch you, they will throw you back in, and we will not come to get
you, but you will not be allowed to reveal our existence."
huh huh, got a dental plan that comes with this job, a union maybe?"
Shadow was not impressed so far, this guy was either a joke or a criminal
with good contacts in city hall.
"A union... Yes, we do have a union
of sorts. Dental plan... Keep talking to me like that, and you won't
be needing the "dental plan" anymore. This is a serious offer, you
have what we seek, and we want you aboard. If you agree to this, you
leave Brickstown tonight, and tomorrow, your new life starts." The
voice was still soft, still uncaring.
"And what's in it for me, if
I come?" Asked Shadow-Step, a bit more seriously.
"Freedom... To act,
to make a difference."
"Well, let me think here... Shower time has
gotten a bit more dangerous lately, they changed the soap and all.
Also, I seem to be making less and less friends in there. Where do
I sign up?" Shadow couldn't help it, he was a tad bit nervous about
staying in D block much longer. And freedom, was such a good offer,
at any conditions, that he wanted it.
The hulking figure took a key
out of his pockets, and unshackled Shadow-Step. The magnetic restrains
fell to the ground.
"Welcome Shadow-Step, to the Hunters of Apocalypse.
You can call me Bear Cat" He then took a small portable cell phone
from his belt, flipped it open and said: "TP us."
The two figures
vanished from the yard.