Mike Valcarcel

The detective whistled at the sight; while he had been to murder scenes before, he had never seen anything quite like this. The trail of destruction and blood seemed to go from one end of the house to the other. Broken furniture, shattered glass and vases, trampled houseplants all mingled with blood spatter that seemed to be everywhere. The body, mercifully had been covered, but even the sheet was blood-soaked. He hoped the ME would hurry up and get the body out of here. The sheer ferocity of this attack exceeded every other crime scene he had been to, but the fact that someone actually got murdered, here in Paragon City, bothered him.

“Where’s our witness?” he asked a group of uniformed officers who were busy writing down the information as the medical examiner relayed her findings.

“Outside. Seems pretty shaken up. Keeps babbling about how he saw it happen before it happened.” the cop rolled his eyes in disbelief and resumed processing the scene.

Detective Wright opened the screen door and stepped outside, and found himself overwhelmed by a sense of calm and serenity. The entire back yard had been converted to a Japanese garden, and the place seemed to have a quiet power all it’s own. He walked up beside the only other person there, a young man in his early twenties. He was dressed in jeans, T-shirt, and a pair of beat-up tennis shoes.

“Hi. I’m Detective Wright.”

“Kirk.” the kid replied without even looking at him.

“You saw what happened?”

“Both times.”

“Both times?”

“Before it happened and when it happened.”

Detective Wright nodded in understanding. He knew who this kid was. There was a report that came from Freedom Corps about a denied applicant. The report stated that while the applicant could, in fact, see the future, it was insufficient to allow registration. This must be the one the report mentioned.

A sudden gust of wind blew through the garden, instead of bouncing around violently, the grove of bamboo swayed gently. Both men looked up, and saw a purple-costumed hero flew overhead. Kirk’s jaw clenched, and his eyes narrowed, and then returned his gaze to the garden.

“So what was your relationship with…”he looked at his notepad, “Mr. Yomato?”

“He was my boss. The only person to give me a job in this town.” he added with a note of anger. “And he was my friend.”

“The officers said you saw who did it?”

“Three men with tattoos. Colored tattoos, yellow, I believe.”

“Sounds like the Tsoo. Was your boss involved in anything illegal?”

“Kenji? Absolutely not. With him, it was all about honor.” Kirk snorted derisively and shook his head in disbelief at the question.

“Sorry, had to ask.”

One of the officers stuck his head out of the door. “Detective, we need to see you for a moment.”

Detective Wright handed him a card. “We’ll get some heroes on it. If you can think of anything else, call me.” He turned around and walked away.

“By the way,” he called out. “I do understand what it’s like to be in your shoes.”

Kirk turned his head slightly and watched him leave, and wondered what he meant.

He made his way back to City Hall, and went toward the Hero Divisions. What the uniformed officers had found was an old registration card. Apparently, Mr. Yomato had been a superhero by the name of Black Tiger, and even though the writing had faded, it was still readable. He had once belonged to MAGI. There were five ways a person could register as a Hero in Paragon City, and a department managed each of those five. Wright missed the days when he would come in here, not as a cop, but as a member of SERAPH. The Rikti Invasion took that away from him forever.

Shaking his mind free from the past, he walked towards the big sign that read MAGI. Seeing as the Tsoo were more arcane in nature, as well as Black Tiger having been a member, surely someone in this department would want to know what had gone on this morning.

The receptionist looked him over, but continued her typing. “Hello, Detective. What do you have today?” She sounded almost bored.

“Tsoo killing in Steel Canyon. Victim’s name Kenji Yomato. I believe he was one of yours.” He placed the card as well as a badge onto her desk.

The girl stopped typing. “Someone killed a hero?”

“Brutally, I must add.”

Renee sighed. Each department kept track of all members, living or dead, active or retired. She turned to her computer and punched in the name. Kenji’s file came up. She typed in the updated information. “Is his murder being looked into?”

“That’s why I’m here.”

“I’ll notify the Director. We’ll get someone assigned to this immediately.”

“Thanks.” Detective Wright said apprehensively, somewhat put off by the girl’s impassivity.

He walked out of the department. Even when he was a hero, he didn’t like going into MAGI; the people there always seemed weird. He went to the elevator and pressed the up button. To his surprise, the doors opened immediately. Standing in the elevator was a stunning redhead, dressed in a black business suit. The short skirt emphasized her long legs. She looked at him over the thick-rimmed frames of her glasses.

“Detective.” she purred.

“Ms. Shaughnessy.” he answered as he got in the elevator.

The moment the doors closed, they embraced and kissed passionately.

“I had fun last night.” she whispered.

“Me too.”

“So what brings you to City Hall?”

“We had a murder this morning, evidence indicates Tsoo involvement.”

“Really?” interest echoed in her tone.

“Sara, don’t think about trying to take on the Tsoo. You almost got killed battling the Vazhilok!”

“Darling, you worry too much. I can handle myself.”

“MAGI is going to handle this. Let them assign someone to this case.”

“Why? Lately the directors have been playing favorites. They’ve been giving high-profile cases to a select few. Since we’re dating…” she traced her finger down his chest.

“You call what we’re doing dating?”

“Call it what you want, David. Since we’re dating, and you catch wind of some case, why can’t I use that connection to my advantage?”

“You’re just using me for leads?”

She pulled away from him, arching her eyebrow. “Not entirely, but are you complaining?”

“No…but, I thought...” he stammered.

“Come here!” she kissed him quickly as the elevator reached the designated floor. “I’ve got to go. I’ve got to drop off some tax records. I was able to buy that old mansion in Royal Overlook.”

The doors parted, and Sara exited. David stuck his hand between the doors to prevent them from closing. “There’s a young man at the scene. He was a friend of the victim. He can see the future.”

She turned around. “Really? I heard something about a guy like that a few months ago. No one knows who he is or where he comes from, at least that’s what the rumors are.”

“Maybe you could keep an eye on him. He seemed like he would try to get revenge.”

Sara made a clicking noise with her tongue. She understood what that felt like.

“Send the info over to Nightbringer. He has a weakness for strays. Plus, he’s in MAGI, so we’re good.” She smiled at him. “I’ll see you later, David.” She turned around and walked down the hallway in a manner that he knew he couldn’t help but watch.

Wright shook his head and chuckled to himself as the doors closed and took him downstairs.

Kirk hadn’t budged from his spot out on the deck. In one moment, his life was irretrievably shattered. Torn between grief and anger, he stared out at the garden. Kenji had designed it all himself, to remind him of his former home on Hokkaido Island. Kirk had been hired by the old man to be the caretaker of the place, which he did in remarkable fashion. He had even improved some areas to make the place seem more authentic.

Now that was gone. He had come to Paragon City, hoping to make a difference. He had an ability to foresee things, but only in fragments. While it was entirely possible for him to see something out of context, the visions he had were never wrong. Thinking that his gift would make him an asset to a supergroup, he came to the city, seeking application as a Hero. To his dismay, he was rejected. The registrar’s words had been burned into his memory.

“I’m sorry, sir, but foreknowledge of events is too insufficient a power to ok your application. We need heroes who can actually fight crime. Next.”

As Kirk walked away from the counter, a tall, blonde man in a patriotic Statesman-like uniform quipped, “What are you gonna do, predict a crook into jail?” The others in line joined him in his joke, and began laughing.

His face flushed red, Kirk ran from the office, fighting back the tears that were threatening to come flooding out. The episode sent him into such a depression, he called in sick for a week. As a result, he lost his job, and would have lost his apartment, had he not met Kenji. The kindly old man hired him as a gardener, something that Kirk took to quite naturally. Under his care, the garden flourished.

And now, the job was gone, Kenji was gone. He had no way to get home, but he didn’t want to stay here. Seeing how the city literally swarmed with the superpowered, it would always be a painful reminder of what he was not. He had even designed a costume for himself. Now it just hung in his closet, unused, another sad reminder of what would never be.

A noise from inside caught his attention. He walked inside apprehensively, slowly opening the door. Out of habit, he removed his shoes; Kenji was insistent upon that. As he approached a dividing wall, he felt the familiar rush of a premonition, one of imminent danger.

Duck, it said.

Without thinking why, he did, and a baseball bat came swinging where his head would have been. Having put too much energy into his swing, the would-be assailant lurched forward, trying to regain his balance.

Kirk used the man’s clumsy attack to his advantage; he gave him another push, and the man went tumbling over the couch, crashing onto the coffee table. The delicate-looking furniture held up against the weight of the large man, who now seemed very angry.

“Louie! Get in here!” he called out.

Another muscle-bound man came running into the house, and pulled out a gun the moment he saw Kirk, who had picked up the baseball bat and was ready to use it on the sprawled-out thug.

“I don’t think so. Drop it, slugger.” he ordered.

Kirk gulped. The bat clattered loudly on the wooden floor. The first man picked himself up off the floor and brushed his suit. He slapped Kirk hard on the back of his head.

“I just got this suit! You ruined it! You’re buyin’ me a new one!”

The other one chuckled. “He’s just mad you ducked. C’mon, slugger. Our boss would like to talk to you.” He explained to Kirk, and motioned with the gun that Kirk proceed outside.

Sara got to the address that David had given her, only to find it empty. It came as no surprise that various criminals had started to loot the place. She grabbed one who was scurrying out of the house.

“Where is the kid?” she demanded.

“I dunno! The house was empty when I got here!”

Solanum extended her claws out; the thief’s eyes widened at the sight. “Care to try again?” she asked calmly.

“I…I…didn’t see nothin’! I saw two guys in suits takin’ someone out of here. That’s all! I swear!”

Solanum arched an eyebrow, processing the information. Likely, he was telling the truth. She let him go. Looking him over, she knew this guy was not affiliated with any gang, he was just a common street-level crook.

“Do something else with your life. Unless you want to run into me again.” she warned.

“Ok, ok…I’ll…I’ll lock the place up, ok? And I’ll make sure no one else gets in!”

“Fine.” she said as she walked away. With a sudden leap, she was on the roof of the next building, and proceeded to travel along the rooftops. When she was out of sight, she paused and called the house; information was always relayed to the rest of the team as quickly as possible. It had helped them many times in the past.

To her surprise, Bluedragon answered. He had been away for several months, having gone back home to Chicago for undisclosed reasons.

“What are you doing back? I thought you had left for good!” she asked.

“I’m just visiting. How have you been?”

“Good, actually. Is Jon or anyone else there?”

“Xandria’s here.”

“Great. Put her on. Are you going to be in town long?”

Awkward silence. “For a couple weeks, I think.”

“It’ll be good to see you.”

“You see me all the time, Sara.” came Xandria’s voice suddenly.

“Look, is Jon on that case that David called in?”

“The Tsoo killing? Yeah, he took Evan and Flora with him. They should be getting near Steel Canyon right about now.”

“Well, the kid in question has been taken. The only eyewitness said it was two well-dressed guys that did it.”

“The Family?”

“I don’t know. But we need the cops to process the house again. I can keep watch over it until the others arrive.”

“Ok, do that. I’ll inform Jon and the cops.”

Sara hung up and headed back to the house.

“So…you’re the kid that can see the future.” The Don said, leaning back in his chair.

Kirk just stared at the man wide-eyed. He had been blind folded and driven for a while. The room he was in reminded him of the interrogation rooms he would see on cop shows. No furniture save a table and some chairs and a suspended lamp. The light was barely enough to see by. He looked around nervously and saw others standing around, including the pair that brought him here, wherever here was.

“Look, kid. I’m not gonna hurt you. I have no reason to. Marco, on the other hand,” he gestured to the man who had attacked him earlier, “would have no problem with it. He’s pretty steamed about you ruining his Armani.”

“Maybe he shouldn’t have attacked me.” Kirk replied calmly.

The Don chuckled as two guys held back the angered Marco. He pointed his unlit cigar at Kirk. “I like you, kid. I heard about how they treated you at the Hero Registrar, too. It’s a shame that this city doesn’t appreciate your… gift. That’s quite a talent you have.”

“I see glimpses of it. Sometimes it doesn’t end like I think it would. It’s like reading just ‘It was the best of times,’ and thinking Tale of Two Cities is going to be a happy story.”

“Never read that book.” The Don admitted. “Whether or not you see something out of context doesn’t matter to me. Do your visions come true?”

Kirk, who had been looking down at the table, returned his gaze to the large man, who was scrutinizing him with an equally intense look.

“Always.” he replied.

The Don smiled. He dismissed all the others from the room. When it was just him and Kirk, he spoke.

“Then I think I have a job for you.” he started, still smiling.
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