I was sent out that night on a special mission: to kill the members of an elite team investigating what they called "corruption" in the Crey hierarchy. I was to silently infiltrate a laboratory they were raiding and surprise them. Simple, for one as skilled as myself.

I entered the lab through a passageway known only to my superiors, to find utter devastation. Our scientists were savagely beaten, blade marks had destroyed countless pieces of equipment, and the strong smell of ozone from energy and electricity blasts filled the air. I tracked down the source of the offenders in a hallway, and presented myself to them.

"What is that?" one of the spandex-clad buffoons asked, flames spouting from his hands.

"I have no earthly idea, but in that suit she's kind of hot," one said, strangely surrounded by the same green emanations I had seen on my own body.

I merely stood there, examining the six costumed "do-gooders" for weaknesses. I was already tired from my exertions that day, and wanted to destroy them as quickly as possible.

"Well, I suppose we could always ask," the one who was obviously the leader said, and his robotic armor and blue and red coloring almost silly in its appearance.

"No need. I am the Paragon Protector, and I am here to kill you."

My claws extended and I sank into a fighting stance, fluid motion adorning my every movement.

The leader reacted, quickly shielding his companions in what appeared to be force fields as the green-shrouded one moved as if to engage me.

I merely flipped onto my hands, bringing my legs over my head to kick him brutally in the face, sending him flying. The flame-wielder began to sear my costume with his blasts, but I waded through them and sank my left claws deep into his abdomen.

He gasped, feeling the cold titanium react to his hot flesh, and went limp. I raised my other hand to impale him through the throat when the robot encased me in some sort of bubble, rendering me unable to attack.

"Magia, get to work on Devil's Fire, right now. I think Manticore was right!"

"What do you mean, Pax?" the green one said, now standing, rubbing his chin, seemingly unaffected by the vicious blow I had given him.

I fought, struggled to get free of my invisible prison, but to no avail.

"She said 'Paragon Protector', right, Qwiz?"

"Yeah, so?"

"There's been something my contacts have been saying about a new weapon Crey was planning to create to kill heroes, using heroes themselves."

"I still don't get it," the healing one said, her task on the firey hero complete.

"After the Rikti War, Crey Industries removed bodies of dead heroes without permission, but no one knew why. We know they have an extensive genetics and cloning division, and there were rumors..."

"What?" Now it was my turn to be startled.

"Take off your helmet," the one called Pax ordered.

"I take orders from no one but the voice," I spat.

"Look, it's either you take off your helmet or you go straight to the Zig, and they aren't too friendly to lithe young women in there, or so I hear. Besides, you don't even get fresh air."

I thought about this momentarily, and I decided that I could kill them as easily without my helmet, so I acquiesced.

A look of shock, almost recognition, adorned the healer's face.

"Oh my God, that's Stephanie Curtis! She used to be called Feral Fury! I teamed up with her once in Atlas Park before the war! But she never had claws, and certainly never killed…"

She fell to her knees, completely overwhelmed.

"Magia, what's wrong?" Pax said.

"Stephanie Curtis died in the initial attack on Paragon by the Rikti. Her body was never found."
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A Protector Reborn
by Zachary Seamas Martin

Part 2
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