Remembrance Found
by Myths n' Wraiths

Braving the back streets of Paragon’s less reputable neighborhoods after dark was not something that to many law abiding citizens would dare unless under the most dire circumstances or unless they had a death wish. To someone who was half dead anyway, someone like Wraith, it was just a way to pass the sleepless nights.

With all but one of the street lights in a square mile radius busted out, the only things that lit this over cast night was the faint glow of a waning moon and the light blaze from a cigarette that hung loosely from Wraith’s lips.

The streets were so barren at dark that Wraith could almost believe he was alone in the vacant alleys and byways. Despite the silence and darkness however; he new better than to think he was not being watched, his every step and his every move were seen by nefarious eyes. From every shadow in this troubled part of Paragon could spring evil in its basest forms.

Wraith walked casually past such evils with little care. He had taught the demons that haunted this particular part of town that he was not worth the trouble. Wraith caused no problems for the local low-lifes as long as they gave him no reason to.

Since the death of his brother, his only remaining family, Wraith had become a recluse. He had withdrawn from his life as a hero and deserted his former affiliations. At first he had been a vigilante handing out a brutal and twisted form of justice wherever he saw fit. It was not long however before he had given up all together. Wraith had left the fight of good vs. evil in Paragon for a more personal battle of himself vs. the demons that he held inside. It was not the kind of fight that he ever intended to win, after all if he ousted his personal demons then who would he have left. It was a battle do the death in that Wraith fully intended to wage it till the day he died; a conflict where each side struggled just hard enough to torment the other but not hard enough to ever change the status quo.

Wraith wandered the streets till the sun began to creep up the horizon, its glow tinted blue by the war walls that surrounded the different city zones. No sooner had the faintest light of day touched the ground than Wraith disappeared off the streets into the labyrinth of abandoned buildings and condemned apartments that plagued this part of town.

Wraith quickly made his way to the abandoned loft that served him as a place to stay for the time being. He dropped his cigarette into a sewer grate outside his building and proceeded indoors and up a flight of stairs to a secluded room on the top floor. He entered the small loft, ignored the pungent musty smell, and poured himself a glass of water before slumping down in a tattered recliner and slowly sipping at the polluted tasting drink.

If Wraith saw the reflection of a beautiful blonde in the glass of the broken TV set that was sitting in front of him he made no show of it; he just sipped at the foggy glass of water.

“You have lost your touch. If I had snuck into your apartment a year ago the Wraith I used to know would have attacked me before I even knew he had entered the building and gotten in a few cheap shots before acting like he was surprised it was me.” The intruder spoke in a soft amused voice.

For almost a full minute there was no answer and the intruder stepped closer to Wraith as if she were curious about whether she had been heard or not. Once Wraith finally responded the young woman started from the sudden break in the silence.

“You approached the building from the east side, jumped the fence. I saw where your hands wiped some of the grime off the pole. You came in from the window at the end of the hallway outside. That’s the only part of the building I could smell your perfume, side from in here of course. How’s that for losing my touch, Haven? As for the cheap shots… I’m still thinkin’ bout it.”

A grin spread across the young woman’s face. “I guess you haven’t changed that much after all.” Haven stated.

“I wouldn‘t bet my life on that if I were you.” Wraith said before he finished his water and dropped the glass on the floor. He got up from his chair, walked past her as if he had already forgotten she was there and headed to his bedroom. She followed trying desperately to reclaim his attention.

“You know I was kind of surprised to find out you were not drinking, I mean with all you have been through its not uncommon for a guy-” She said in an impressed tone before he cut her off.

"Do you know how much liquir it takes to get a regenerative mutant drunk? Besides when I drink it drowns away the voices inside my head. And that just makes me lonely.” Wraith said nonchalantly, as he kicked off his shoes, stripped his socks and shirt and fell into his unmade bed. For the life of her, Haven could not tell whether he was being sarcastic or not. “Nice seein’ you again Haven. Come back when you can stay longer, or better yet... don’t.” Wraith grumbled before he buried his face in the mattress.

“Look Wraith,” Haven persisted. “I came here to tell you that I think your brother is still alive.” At that Wraith shot up in bed, his face a mask of rage. “I have been over the evidence again and again and I think it points…”

“Well I’ve made up my mind about those cheap shots that’s for damn sure.” Wraith was out of his bead and across the room before Haven’s panicking heart could press out a single beet. He caught her by the color of her shirt and slammed her up against the wall, his fist raised to strike.

“NO, Wraith!” Haven screamed throwing her hands up as a defense. “It’s the truth, I swear.” Wraith’s fist stopped in mid swing and after a brief moment he released his grip on the frightened woman.

“I‘ve seen all the evidence too doll and I know where the hell it points. It points to my brother being a busted corpse in some sick Freak Show experiment. Thanks for the little trip down memory lane Haven.” Wraith shouted at Haven then slowly regained some semblance of reason.

“You have got issues.” He said as he paced back over to his bed. Haven looked over at Wraith as if his words had hit harder than his fist was about to.

“I have issues?” She demanded.

“You have a serious problem with letting go and its starting to annoy me so get the hell out.” Wraith shot a glance of warning at her and pointed to the door before he fell back onto his bed.

“Look Wraith I know how you feel. Your brother was everything to me and…” Haven began to plead.

“Wrong!” Wraith barked. He was back on his feet in an instant. The image of Wraith’s hand coming down toward her face flashed through Haven’s mind and she took a step backward, and felt her way to the door. She had never seen Wraith like this in the years she had known him. He had always been reckless and selfish but the rage that he was showing at the topic of his brothers possible death was more intense than anything Haven believed the mutant capable of. “You have no clue how I feel. You loved my brother, sure, but he was just one more person in your peachy little life doll. Come back when every body you ever cared for has been wasted and then try and feed me this crap about how you feel my pain.” The words struck Havens heart like a sledge hammer, spurring her own outburst of anger.

“Your brother was not just one more person in my life, Wraith. He was my life. Now there is a chance that he might still…”

“The window or the door?” Wraith cut her off.

“Why won’t you just listen to me Wraith!” Haven screamed in frustration.

“The window or the door?” Wraith said more forcefully. Seeing the rage in his eyes and taking the not so subtle hint Haven nodded her head slowly.

“OK Wraith. I’ll find him on my own.” She said defiantly as she made for the door.

“Yeah, well I hope you like ghosts babe, cuz’ that’s all you’ll find.”

The setting sun still hung to the horizon, casting the entire city in one long shadow when Wraith hit the streets that night. He had spent the day in fitful sleep, fighting of nightmares that had not haunted him for months. Haven‘s accusations had shifted his precarious mental defenses just enough to open the flood gates. His sleep had been a blur of memories from his past, flashes of moments that brought pure terror to the fearless mutant. Unable to stay still in the confines of his loft, Wraith made his way down to the streets of Paragon for another night pacing the back alleys.

Wraith spent his twilight hours wandering aimlessly. As much as he wanted to deny it to himself, doubts about his brother’s fate still snuck through Wraith’s mind. He had however, turned his back on hope long ago and so he just let the doubts rot in his head and heart.

The sounds of a fight snapped Wraith out of his self-suppression. He looked down the street and saw a rowdy gang of Skull in a brawl with a hero who’s figure was obscured by the mob surrounding it. He could tell by the sounds that the hero was a woman and that she was losing her fight but little more.

Wraith barely gave any thought to the situation as he turned to take a back alley that led away from the fight. To him it was just one more overzealous hero that had taken on more than they could handle. He almost had to laugh at himself for once being that kind of person, the type that would throw themselves into impossible odds for no other reason than to prove that heroes could do the impossible. That type of life though, had lost its meaning for Wraith long ago.

“A good beatin’ and a trip to the hospital will do you some good.” Wraith grumbled to himself as he lit up a cigarette and entered the alley. He had not taken two steps before he was immersed in his own thoughts again and left the plight of the hero behind him.

Thoughts of his brother had not been the only memories that had cropped up in his nightmares earlier. What truly unsettled the former hero were the even older memories, memories of a family that had not existed to him for many years, reminiscences of a struggle that had taken place in the sewers of Paragon. A struggle more than a decade old had snuck into his dreams and still haunted his thoughts.

Then, in one terrible moment of time, something happened that brought those blurred memories into crystal clear focus. A scream of terror and pain tore through the night and echoed down the alleys. The sound of the hero, who Wraith had left to her defeat, hit Wraith’s soul like a freight train. He froze, his eyes wide and his face blank. The burning cigarette fell unnoticed from his lips while the whole world fell unnoticed from his mind.

Wraith was no longer a man, he was a child; he was no longer standing in the street, he was wading waist deep in foul water; he was no longer a heartless recluse, he was a desperate and terrified boy. His conscious mind was shattered. The scream that echoed into his ears was that of the desperate and defeated hero but it reached his heart as the scream of his dyeing mother. She lay in the sewers of Paragon as a massive and brutal monster approached her defeated form. The beasts semi-intelligent face was burned into a ruthless snarl as its massive clawed hands reached out for the helpless woman.

“No!” Wraith yelled as he fought his way through the disgusting water to reach his mother.

“Run Jason, run away baby!” His mother cried to him as the monster drew closer to her, ready to finish her off. The words seemed to confuse the boy and he froze dead in his tracks.

“No, Mama!” The young boy sobbed as the tears ran down his face. “I won’t leave you.”

“Jason you have to run!” She screamed at her son. Wraith looked around desperately for some other answer some other way. He heard his mother’s words and as much as he wanted to listen to her his legs simply would not move. Wraiths face contorted in rage as he balled up his fists and pounded the water.

“I’m not running!” He yelled with every ounce of his strength. “I’ll never run!” The sound of Wraith’s yelling echoed so loudly through the sewer pipes that the villain that had been advancing toward Wraith’s mother stopped and turned to face the young mutant. To Wraith’s mother her son’s words were a cause for both hope and despair as she saw her young child face off with the beast. To the beast they had been a challenge, a call to battle. To Wraith they were a promise, a promise that by life or death he would never break. Without hesitating the young mutant hurled himself at the monster.

Wraith landed in the center of the crowd of Skull like an angel of death. Those closest to the girl’s battered figure never had a chance. Wraiths fists moved so quickly that all that could be seen of them was the trail of dark energy they left in their wake. Jaws were shattered, throats struck so hard they collapsed, leaving the victims to cough up their vocal equipment. Limbs were snapped so brutally that strands of flesh were all that was left connecting them to the bodies they belonged to. One of the Skull brawlers tried to run past Wraith in a desperate attempt to flee. Wraith's arm went low and swept the brawler off his feet, causing him to land face first in the street. No sooner had the thug fell to the ground than Wraith's fist slammed into the back of his head; ramming his face into the pavement and collapsing his skull.

It was only a matter of seconds before all of the weaker Skulls lay dead or writhing in anguish on the ground. Wraith paused for a moment, his blood spattered face twisted in feral rage. The only one left standing, besides the homicidal mutant, was the leader of the decimated rabble.

The Skull Lieutenant looked around at his fallen charge with disgust. One of the few fallen Skull who still hung to an agonizing consciousness reached out to his gang leader in desperation. The leaders only response was to spit on his defeated follower.

“Pathetic little whelps.” The skull lieutenant referred to his broken group as he walked within striking range of Wraith.

“Yeah,” Wraith responded in a low, deep growl. “But what makes you think that we are any better?”

The Skull Lieutenant lashed out with blinding speed at Wraith, throwing a devastating haymaker at the mutants head. He was not fast enough though. Wraith caught his attacker’s fist in one hand; the other came up just below the Skull’s shoulder throwing the entire arm out of place with an audible pop. The Skull let out a blood curdling howl of anguish.

Wraith wasted no time in completing his victims torment. His fist caught the screaming Skull in is gaping jaw, knocking it out place so that it hung limp from his face. Wrapping his fist in a dense cloud of deadly energy, Wraith decked the Skull dead between his eyes. The Lieutenant’s screams ended instantly as he fell to the ground, his face crushed.

No sooner had his victims lifeless body hit the ground than the rage that had possessed Wraith fled him so suddenly that it stripped away his strength and he fell to his knees. He sat there for almost a full minute, in a trance like daze. His eyes passed unfocused over the bodies that lay around him as his head slowly turned from side to side.

Slowly Wraith’s mind returned to him and he regained enough strength to stand. He looked around again at the bodies that littered the ground in confusion, as if he could only partly remember what had happened.

Then his eyes focused on the battered form of a nearly lifeless girl and suddenly he remembered what had spurred him to action. She still lay their unmoving and for the first time Wraith realized how strange it was that she had not teleported herslef to the hospital for regeneration. Even the most amatuer heroes knew to never travel without there medical transponder and to use it when things whent bad.

She was clearly on the threshold of death so without giving it a second thought Wraith collected her body up in his arms and tore off down the street.

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