Interlude: The Gray Lion I – A Chance Encounter

Lynx

Looking around the apartment, it was cramped, but had large windows, and room enough for one person. As a first place, I could do worse, I thought. The curtains were a nice yellow, though the floor was covered in a hideous green carpet. It had utilities, and a small kitchen. It would do for me, until I could afford something better.

I walked out of the apartment, shaking hands with the real estate agent. He held the signed contract behind his back, as if afraid I would try and take it and rip it up. I smiled warmly at him, happy to have arranged where I was going to live after moving out of my mom’s house. I was going to move to Broadripple, the city near the suburb where I lived, and I was dreading it as much as it excited me. Here, I could fight more crime, help more people. I could live, independent, finally an adult.

I walked out of the apartment building, into the noisy, bustling city, and began the walk back to the train station. Suddenly, to my front and right, I heard a gunshot. Looking around, I saw an alleyway, and stepped into it, removing my shoes and putting them in my backpack as I shifted. In half form, I leapt up the alleyway walls, digging in with my claws until I was on the roof, running directly towards the origin of the sound. Leaping over the gaps between rooftops, I saw it, a jewellery store with a body outside, being dragged in by a masked man.
I dropped down silently, landing on the man’s shoulders, driving him to the floor and knocking him unconscious, twisting as I fell to face the door. Inside were a few rich looking people huddled on the floor, and two armed men. One saw me, and as he shouted to his friend, I leapt on him, trapping his gun between us and roaring in his face. He trembled as I threw him to the floor, only to stagger backwards as the tiny explosion of noise signalled my wound. The remaining robber had managed to shoot me, and I snarled, tackling him to the ground. I slammed his head against the floor, hard, and picked him up, dumping him on the conscious robber, who seemed paralyzed by fear. Stepping out, I grabbed the third robber, dragging him into the store as I heard the alarm get set off. I dropped him on the pile, before turning to face the store owner.

“Hey. I’m going to wait until the police get here, make sure they get into custody alright.” I said, as I chucked their weapons behind the counter. “Did they hurt any of the customers, do anything else?”

“No… No, they didn’t. They just came in here, shouting. One of my customers… The… The woman outside. She ran… The tall one… He just, shot her, no warning. Is she ok?” The portly gentleman asked, worry staining his face with perspiration.

“I’m sorry, no. The gunshot was what I heard, what led me here. Do you need any help getting the merchandise back on the shelves?” I said, gesturing to smashed cases.

The man smiled. “Thank you, you’re too kind.” He said, as he sat down on the counter, running his hands through his thinning hair. I stepped away, picking up scattered jewels and piling them on the counter next to the man. As I moved around the store, I check on the customers for any wounds, but don’t see anything. I picked up this gold ring, and took it over to the growing pile, when I felt a breeze against my fur, and heard a soft breath behind me. Next thing I knew, I was taking a strong right hook to the jaw.

“Metahuman!” I snarl, sweeping my right foot round low as I ducked and turned towards my attacker, intent on taking down the robbers rear guard.

Ravus Decem

Thinker Prime’s final words seemed to echo in my head as I left the museum.

Why don’t you take a break from Boston, go down to a different city for a change?

He was right, of course. Boston, and it’s surrounding towns, held too many bad memories. Still, visiting museums in Broadripple, Connecticut, wasn’t exactly what I called ‘fun’. Even so, it was a nice day. A bit chilly for June, but my lightweight jacket kept me comfortable.

I strolled down the street, enjoying the sights and sounds. It had been almost a month and a half since my powers came out, but I still wasn’t used to being colorblind. To distract myself, I stopped at a food truck and bought a taco.

I’d almost forgotten what real food tastes like. That garbage in the SVRA training facility doesn’t hold a candle to this.

After wolfing it down, I threw away the paper wrapper and turned the corner to walk to the park. I heard a loud boom from behind me. I whirled around, recognizing a gunshot from the training. I sprinted down the block, concentrating on where the shot came from. That’s when I heard a loud roar coming from a couple blocks over.

Holy shit, that wasn’t a gunshot.

Hearing another gunshot, I ran into an alley, and crouched behind a dumpster. I pulled out the plain grey mask I always have to carry, just for these situations.  

Too bad I don’t have the rest of my gear.

I left the alley at a sprint, entering a street with screaming people running away from a store. As I neared, I noticed it was a jewelry store. In the front entrance lay a still body, with a blood stain next to it. Inside the store were several frightened looking civilians, and a pile of three more bodies. What caught my attention though, was the beast.

Standing there with jewelry in his hand was a tall, lean, leonine man covered in tawny fur, with grey stripes. He had a mane stretching down to his vaguely dorky backpack. Immediately, I Moved.

Appearing to the side and slightly behind the villain, I lashed out with my fist, connecting solidly. Quicker than I’d anticipated, the freak spun around, lashing out with his foot.

Should’ve Looked first, I thought as I fell to the ground.

Hitting, I Rushed. Standing up in the still world, I got a close look at the monster. Frozen in mid lunge, his face a snarling mass of furs and whiskers.

No time to waste, the ten seconds is almost up. Noise climaxed in my ears and the world started, just before I hit him in the face again. When my fist connected, I Looked-10 seconds. The beast rolls with the punch, spinning around and palming me in the neck. He follows with two quick strikes to the chest, propelling me back with a crunch- and ducked under his outstretched arm. Grabbing his wrist with my hand, I pulled him off balance. Surprised, he fell right into my swiftly rising knee, winded.

“Get out of here!” I yelled to the stunned civilians.

Not wanting to waste the moment, I Moved behind him and Pushed him off balance with telekinesis. I reached down and picked a gun up off the glass covered floor.

“Freeze, asshole. You’re under arrest!” I shouted. He slowly turned around and saw me pointing the gun at him.

“Arrest? Say’s the guy helping these thugs kill people and rob this store?”

“What the hell are you talking about? You’re the robber.”

“Excuse me? I just STOPPED these guys, you idiot.”

“No you didn’t, I stopped you from robbing the store.”

“Seriously? Listen to me, I just came in here, took down three second rate burglars, and disarmed them. Where do you think I got this GUNSHOT WOUND!” he yelled, gesturing at his bloody stomach.

I sagged, and lowered the gun a fraction as the reality of the situation sunk in. “Oh fuck me. Wait, there’s only two guys here!”

“Seriously. You idiot, come in here, guns figuratively blazing, and let the fucking killers that I caught loose on the streets.” he snarled violently, his fists bunching as he stepped towards me.

“Oh fuck!” I yelled, and spun around around, running out the door.

Lynx

“You idiot, you come in here, guns figuratively blazing, and let the fucking killers that I caught loose on the streets.” I snarled violently, my fists bunching as I stepped towards him.

“Oh fuck!” he yelled, and spun around, running out of the door.

I leapt forward, clasping my hand on his shoulder as tried to get out. I let my claws dig in out of frustration, not some twisted sense of malicious glee at getting my hands on the man who sucker punched me.

“Listen, idiot. You teleport, right? How is that useful if you don’t know where he’s running too. Get back, and keep an eye on the unconscious ones. You have some authority, I assume? Trying to arrest me and all that. Good, sort things out with the police while I track our runner. Shouldn’t be too hard, he reeks of fear.” I grinned, letting myself flow into a more bestial state, a large cat, loose on the streets.

He mumbled something suspiciously like “Fucking asshole,” before turning around to inspect the bodies.

I stepped out, padding softly forwards and sniffing the sidewalk, ignorant and uncaring of the looks of fear and concern from passers by. Catching the scent of the robber, I sprinted forward, twisting lithely through the crowds that he barreled through.

The crowd soon began making way for me as I rushed after the fugitive. I caught sight of him, walking away and looking over his shoulder. He saw me too, and began sprinting. I spread my teeth in a leonine smile, snarling as I jumped onto the wall for half a second to get round a particularly obstinate group. And nearly into an annoying, interfering jackass, with a stupid little mask!

“Rrrrrrrowl!” I screeched, trying to talk before remembering myself. I shifted upwards, grabbing his jacket to balance myself as I entered half cat form. I shook him roughly “I told you to stay behind, you insufferable moron!” I yelled, momentarily forgetting the running criminal. And my complete nakedness.

“Down Kitty! Wait, naked Kitty?” He smirked an annoying smile, “What’s up with the, um, backpack but no pants?”

“Well, SOMEONE let my prisoner loose!” I yelled. “The other form is faster. I had to catch up somehow.” I growled, shifting back to all fours as I left the stupid conversation. I resumed the chase with the prisoner, closing the distance fast. All the while I was aware of the breezes caused by the stupid teleporter with his stupid teleporting. I internally seethed over his sucker punch.

Roaring, I let my frustrations loose on the robber, my claws tearing into his back as I drove him into the pavement. I turned as I felt a hand on my shoulder, snarling into the face of the masked boy. Relenting, I moved off the fugitive, letting the other boy support him as we began to walk towards the jewelry store.

 

The next day, I came downstairs early for breakfast, grabbing the paper from the front doormat on my way to the kitchen. On the front page, I saw a snippet of an article about a jewellery store robbery, continued on page 4.

Witnesses report a large, cat-like metahuman defending the store owner and his stock, taking the three robbers down in seconds. Another metahuman got involved, apparently under the impression that the bestial saviour was the criminal. While the two metahumans engaged in a brief scuffle, one of the robbers tried to escape, only to be chased down the street by both metahumans working in concert with one another. Together, they quickly took down the criminal, and returned him to the store, to await the Police for arrest. At this point, the SVRA claimed responsibility for one of the metahumans, naming a new Agent, Ravus Decem. The other, a currently nameless vigilante hero, has been dubbed ‘Lynx’, and has been seen several times outside of Broadripple.

I smiled and closed the paper. Lynx. I like it.

 

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Zero Hour – Lynx I

“’You know, violence is never the answer,’ I whispered in the Thug’s ear, making him jump a foot in the air. Unfortunately, he held onto the knife he was threatening a young lady that, let’s say, he’d rendered into a state of indecent exposure. I didn’t particularly approve of his idea of a good night out, and decided to be a Good Samaritan and stop him from ruining someone else’s.

Turning round, the thug decided to threaten me instead, his scarred knuckles clenching the knife tightly.

‘Get out of here before I cut you, prick!’ He growled at me. I responded with a winning smile, which seemed to only exasperate the man further. He took a swing at me with the knife, so I caught his wrist, and, applying pressure, forced him to drop the weapon. The unfortunate young lady took this opportunity to run past me and into the street, hopefully to somewhere safe.

The unruly gentleman, who, now that I think about it, did have a slight stink of cheap whisky about him, took a swing at me with his other fist. Thinking quickly, I responded by slipping to one side, pushing on his shoulder and making him stumble into the wall of the dank alley. Quite unfortunately, he slipped, landing heavily on the floor, hitting his head with a resounding crack. I took the time that he was unconscious to call the police, you arrived, and here we are.”

The Police Officer looked at me from across the table. It was not a happy look. It was the look of a man who disliked having to do paperwork at 11 o’clock at night.

“Mr. Chambers, while the victim does agree to your statement of coming to her rescue, the man whom you assaulted tells the story quite differently. Apparently you grabbed him, and slammed his head into the wall repeatedly, until he blacked out. Now, considering the state of him when we arrived to the scene, your statement, and the woman you were defending’s statement, I believe we can let you go. We may need you to return at a later date, for more interviews, or to appear for a witness statement.”

Smiling, I thanked the officer and headed out of the interview room, the police station, and onto the street. Crossing the road, I headed into an alleyway. Once assured that there were no homeless people waiting amongst scattered rubbish, and that the darkness afforded me reasonable protection from the prying eyes of the street, I flowed from one form to another. I became slimmer, fat being absorbed into taut muscle. Tawny fur with smoky gray stripes slipping out of my pores. My face narrowed, and my jaw shifted forward, bringing my mouth and nose together as my ears climbed steadily upwards, finishing as pointed triangles on top of my head. My hands shifted almost imperceptibly, my fingers widening as retractable claws slid out. This took place over the time of an agonising minute, an almost pleasurable slow shudder of pain. I nearly forgot to slip off my shoes before they stretched or broke.

My sharp claws dug into bricks and mortar alike, thrust through with unnatural strength, and I climbed slowly. One movement at a time, I clambered onto the roof, and became free to roam around my hometown.

As I leapt around the rooftops, wind ruffling my fur, I reveled in the smell, sounds, sight of my town at night. Racing rapidly homeward, faster than I could approach by car, I cast my thoughts backwards, into memory, remembering the first time I changed like this, terrified and exhilarated all at once.

We were on a field trip, visiting a zoo. It was so fun, running around with my friends, seeing all the animals. That’s when I saw him, Trent; I think his name was, the smallest kid in our class. He was trying to see over the fences, get a better view of the lions. I was running over before I even knew, dashing towards him as his foothold slipped, and he fell straight in, dropping almost on top of the male lion. I didn’t pause to think, just vaulted the fence, landing in front of the younger boy, who was silent with shock. The lion let out a coughing growl, and I stared into its merciless eyes. Raising my arms, fully aware of the frailty of my young body, I shouted at the lion, as the world distorted into startling clarity, blues and greens flashing to vibrant life before my eyes. Sure I was about to die, I screamed at the lion. And, amazingly, it took a half step back, suddenly unsure. I stayed still, standing in front of Trent, who had begun to sob quietly behind me. I don’t know how long I stood there, facing the lion. The next thing I remember was a strong arm wrapping around me, and carrying me from the lion’s den.

They sent me home early, and I went to my room. I was on my bed, lying over the covers, fully clothed, shock stopping me from thinking, from acting. As I stayed there, time flew, and darkness claimed my room, sunlight no longer hitting my small window. And then it started. The itching. That same vivid coloration, blue and green growing brighter, even in the darkness. And the itching, growing worse and worse until I ripped my skin with my nails. And then I entered pleasant darkness.

 

Standing up from my bed as I woke, I looked into the mirror, staring at the feline lines of my face, the tawny golden fur with dusky grey stripes hiding within. My eyes, vertical slits cutting through the luminescent green, took in all of this in incredible detail, showing me the play of air currents on my thick fur. Staring at the mirror, I placed my hands on it, and my hard claws clicked against the glass. I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding, and turned to my window. Sliding it open, I slipped out with fluid grace, my new claws somehow naturally finding weak mortar as I climbed to the roof. Spotting the house next door, the roof a few meters away, I ran for a jump few thirteen year olds would have dared try. Reaching the edge of my roof, my toes curling lightly over the lip, I leapt. And I was flying, soaring through the air, and landing perfectly on all fours on the neighbors’ house. I let out a ululating howl of triumph, a screeching roar that reminded me of the hungry lion. And then I ran on, into the night, reveling in the freedom of the rooftop jaunt.

 

Oh god, that was a good day, way back then. The first time I found felt free of a mother I saw as oppressive, a father who wasn’t mine. I became strong, fast, useful. I could help people, save people, and look good doing it too. I grew up with pictures of the SVRA teams everywhere, knew exactly what getting powers meant, what it meant I HAD to do. So I did it, my own way. No way I was giving up new found freedom, not even to join a super team. I learned to fight, which wasn’t hard, not with my skill-set. And I learned when to run, and circle back. It was fun, and it was four years of intensive self training. I grew up, and fast. There were rumors about me, some good, some bad. I felt like a badass, a superpowered crime stopping machine. Of course, I wasn’t really, but pride does go to ones head. And of course, with pride, comes the fall.

I cringed away from that memory, ignored it, shoved it down. Pain, and fear, not something I wanted to relive. Not when I do in half my nightmares. So I buried it beneath sensations, the wind in my fur as I flew across the rooftops, gaining speed with each leap, each thud of the ground against my feet. My eyes, spotting vivid colours in the dark of night, locked onto the lit windows of my house, my open window, and I leapt, crossing the street in a blur of motion, and dived into a forward roll through the small space. I shifted back as flew through the window, becoming clumsy, slow, weak. Deaf, dumb and blind, I thumped down on my bed, my heart beating fast, purging the adrenaline rush from my veins. I looked at my nightstand, the cup of still warm cocoa there, left by my mom, with a note: Stop sneaking out, Stephen. ❤
Grinning to myself, I sat up, picking up the cocoa and drinking from it in deep gulps, grateful for the sugary heat as tiredness caught up to me. Putting it down half finished, I collapsed, fully dressed, onto the bed, and slept, entering the dreams behind my eyes.

Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I ran towards them, my stride eating up pavement, my heart leaping into my throat. A sudden, deafening crack, and I stagger, before pushing onward. The man with the gun, shouting at me, shaking her roughly by the hair. I roar, becoming more bestial, shifting to all fours, my tail whipping out behind me as my clothes rip off my back. I cover the ground faster, take two more hits to the body, and leap at him, yowling my defiance, knocking him down. And slamming his head against the ground. The woman screamed as my charge knocked her away, but the man was silent, our blood mingling as his flowed from his skull, leaving him. I locked eyes with the dead man for a moment, before racing off into the night, away from the man I’d killed.

Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I ran towards them, dodging the bullets I knew were coming. The man threw the woman away from him, taking up a better shooting stance. I roared at him, taking a shot in the chest as I leapt into him, smashing his head into the ground. My blood mingled with his, as his life left him. I screamed in rage, fleeing the man I’d killed.

Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I forced myself to stay humanoid, ducking into a tackle at the last minute, driving him off her and forcing him to release her grip. I felt his breath leave him as I hit, and he went down, hard, his skull thunking dully against the ground, which was soon painted red with his blood. Why, why couldn’t I stop killing him! I roared, leonine, furious and afraid, and leapt at a wall, fleeing to the rooftops to escape the murder scene.

I woke up, sweating and screaming, as a cool, gentle body hugged me, rubbing my back. I leaned into the hug, crying softly, as my mother patted my hair, held me, and made everything alright.

Zero Hour – Ravus Decem I

I crawled out of the tunnel as fast as I could. Their voices echoed behind me, I needed to move faster. I circled around back towards the slide, hoping they wouldn’t notice. It was to no avail.

Two boys cornered me on the playground. They were both at least a year older, and much bigger.

“Silas Weaver? More like Silas Beaver!” guffawed Richard, while Sam laughed behind him.

“Just look at those teeth! His mom probably can’t even look at him without barfing.” I clenched my fists and trembled. Richard turned around to talk to Sam, “I bet he-” but I ran.

I squeezed by Richards thick side and darted under Sam’s arm. Even then, I was fast.

“Hey, stop!” One of them shouted behind me, but I kept running. I reached the playground monitor, and hid behind her.

“What are you boys doing?” She asked me sharply.

I pointed at them, and said the magic word I learned at last weeks assembly. “Bullies.”

She whirled about, and faced Richard and Sam.

“Come. With. Me.” Exchanging terrified looks, they followed her inside.

“You too, Silas.”

We went straight to the main office. She brought the bullies inside, and told me to wait.

Some time later, she brought the sullen boys out. They apologized, and promised to stop.

The monitor turned to me, and said “We have received several reports of these boys being bullies. They won’t bother you again.” Richard and Sam walked off, and I hugged her leg.

“You did the right thing, Silas, I’m proud of you.”

The next day, they broke my front teeth, and I switched schools.

10 Years Later

“How was school, Silas?” My dad said, smiling at me.

“It was fine,” I replied as I put my backpack on the couch.

“Do anything interesting?”

“Well, the weather was a little wet during track, but other than that, not really.”

He looked out at the torrential rain and smiled to himself, then returned to typing on his computer. For the past couple of days, he’s been working on some new project, a romance novel this time.

I left the den, and walked down our main hallway. It extends down towards my parents room, and the foyer. The staircase starts somewhere in the middle. I climbed the stairs, went up to my room and powered up my laptop. After slogging through about an hour of homework, I went downstairs to watch some TV. I sprawled on the couch, and my dad glared at me; “Try to keep it down, OK?” I gave a noncommittal grunt in return.

A few hours later, I rubbed my eyes and turned to the clock. It was 6:30. “When’s Mom gonna be home?” I asked.

“She said she’s going to leave the office at six to pick up Kepler from the vet, so probably ’round seven.”

“What’s for dinner?”

“Leftovers.”

I smiled to myself, fend-for-yourself nights were my favorites. After gorging on steak tips and spaghetti, I walked upstairs to my room. It took another hour, but I finished my homework. I went downstairs, where my dad was washing up from his and mom’s dinner.

“Hi mom” I said, hugging her.

“Hey Silas,” she replied, hugging me back.

“How was the office? Did you sue anyone else today?”

She chuckled. “Just some idiot who drove his car into his neighbor’s collection of prized lawn gnomes. He claims they were possessed, and he was killing them in self-defense, but there’s really no proof.”

I grinned and plopped back on the couch, turning the TV back on.

“Your turn tonight” I announced as I tossed the remote to my dad as he joined us.

He nodded and flipped to some generic action thriller, like always. My mom sighed, and snuggled in with us.

—-

About two hours later, I went back up to my room. Movie night was always fun in our house, but I was tired as hell. After brushing my teeth, I fell asleep.

I blearily opened my eyes, and felt an all too familiar sensation from my lower torso. Rolling out of bed, I walked over to my bathroom door. To avoid waking anyone else up, I shut it quietly behind me, stepped over to the toilet, and let it rip. The nearby window provided all the light I needed, then I gently flushed, washed my hands, and went back to bed. Before I could fall back asleep though, I heard the tinkle of glass breaking downstairs. Immediately, my heart started pounding and I sat up and listened. Oh god an intruder? I thought to myself.

My parents’ door opened, and I heard the heavy footsteps of my dad walk out into the short hallway. There was a loud click of a light switch then my Dad yelled.

Noise exploded from below and I got out of bed. Shouting and thumping emenated through the floorboards.

“Oh god no,” I moaned before turning on the lights. People ran through my house, and my mom screamed.

“Oh fuck!” I said, quietly. I ran back into my bathroom, shut the door, and locked it.

I heard voices now, clearly and distinctly without the yelling.

“Bastard hit me! I’m gonna fucking end him!”

Someone let out a muffled scream, then I heard a loud smack.

“Shut up bitch!”

I heard more thumps and an ominous crack. My mom stopped screaming, which was far worse. My hands began trembling with worry.

“Go check upstairs,” a hard voice ordered.

“Oh fuck fuck fuck fuck” I whispered as some boots clomped up the staircase. My phone was downstairs, the window was too small. A sense of doom crept upon me; there was no way I could escape.

My bedroom door crashed open with a bang. The thug walked in and stopped. I heard him ruffle around the sheets and blankets on my bed. He walked over to my bathroom door, and rattled the knob.

“I know you’re in there, come out now and we won’t hurt you.” I stayed quiet, praying he wouldn’t enter.

He sighed, loudly. “Kid you’ve got one more chance to come out, or I come in.” I leaned against the door, and braced my body against it.

I heard him sigh again, and a rustle of clothes. The handle next to me started to glow with heat, but I couldn’t feel anything radiating from it. I dove away from the door and sprawled on the ground, facing the door. The doorknob glowed white and melted, splattering on the ground. The man pushed the door open, and I got my first view of the intruders.

He was tall and bulky, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and a ski mask, like an old timey robber. Then I saw his hands, one was vividly red, the other a deep blue. My eyes widened, I knew who he was. State Shift.

About a week earlier

“Hey, change the channel, put on the news,” my friend Jimmy told me.

“What, why?” I asked.

“My sister just texted me, those burglars from the city struck again!”

I quickly changed the channel, and turned up the volume.

…the gang has robbed four houses so far, and this one makes five. So far, their M. O. has been to sneak into wealthy residences, steal everything of value, then sneak out. Only once did they resort to violence, and left one survivor. This crew is reportedly led by the metahuman Veer and his lieutenant State Shift. It consists of at least two non-powered members. They are considered very dangerous, and the SVRA should be contacted immediately if seen.

Two grainy and blurry pictures popped up on screen. A short, reedy man with dark eyes had a caption naming him Veer. Next to him was a man wearing a balaclava, who had red and blue hands, and a caption that said State Shift.

Veer and State Shift are both wanted for breaking and entering, burglary, murder, and rape. Mr. Groselan has put a bounty on both of them, for their defeat or capture. We go now to his released message.

A serious looking old man in a suit appeared on the screen, standing in a graveyard. “My name is Mr. Groselan, and the two metahumans known as Veer and State Shift invaded my late daughters home, raping her and beating her so severely she died later of her injuries.” His hands were shaking badly, but he continued with a grave look on his face. “Their crew is responsible for the deaths of my grandchildren and my son in law. They cannot go unpunished for any longer. I am offering a reward for the person responsible for bringing these,” he spat on the ground “men to justice. One million dollars each for Veer and State Shift, five hundred thousand for each member of the gang. That is all,” he said, the camera shutting off after capturing the tear on his cheek.

Powerful stuff, the news lady said. And now, to Bill with weather.

“Damn,” Jimmy said. I nodded silently, and switched the channel back.

Present Day

The villain stood before me. A hulking man, his very presence was intimidating. I looked into his cold eyes, pleading without words.

“Sorry, kid” State Shift told me. He held his blue hand out, and a blade formed out of solid air. “But Veer says no survivors.” He lunged towards me, and I froze, looking behind him, out the small window.

Something inside me jerked, and I Moved, leaving my bathroom behind and appearing in my backyard. I sprawled out onto the dark lawn, my eyes burning as the world became monochromatic. My mind reeled; I’m colorblind?

The bathroom window broke open, and State Shift stuck his hand out. I tried to teleport again, but instead, I Looked. State Shift gestures, and blades of solidified air erupt from the ground, impaling my body. I jumped to the side, rolling away from the shards into the bushes.

Ok ok, I have to get away, get the police, the SVRA, anyone! I blinked my eyes, still offput by the lack of color, and reached out to Look again. Instead, I Grasped the world around me. My eyes widened at the feeling of a bunch of hands moving around me. Telekinesis too, but I need to Look, dammit. I need to know if I’m in danger! I screwed up my face in concentration and- 10 seconds. A car drives down the road -sighed in relief.

I sprinted away from my house, choking down the fear. Entering the damp woods behind my house, I ran as fast as I could through my new shadowy world. No time to think about the color, just fucking run. I burst through the trees and ran across the soft grass.

Mrs. Hildebrand was a widow who paid me to tend to her yard. She was my closest neighbor, and has always been nice to me. I jumped up her front steps, and mashed my finger on the doorbell while pounding my fist into the door.

“Mrs. Hildebrand, please open up! It’s a pretty fucking extreme emergency!” I said as loud as I dared, the robbers could be searching for me. About a minute later, the lights flicked on, and the door opened. I stepped inside and shut the door behind me.

“Silas, what’s this all about?” She asked me, as I pushed past her and grabbed the phone. I held up one shaking finger to silence her, and dialed the authorities.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“Hello, my name is Silas Weaver. I live on 16 Alderbrook drive, you need to send help, fast.” I replied with a slight voice crack.

“Calm down. What is wrong?”

“Men have entered my home. They-they hurt my parents. I recognized State Shift.”

“Help is on the way, and the SVRA have been alerted. Can you tell me what happened?”

“State Shift broke into my room and then bathroom. I uh, escaped out the window and ran to this house. He mentioned Veer, like the supervillain. I think he’s in my house as well, please send help!” I gushed out, quivering.

“Stay where you are, Veer’s gang is extremely dangerous. You’re lucky to have escaped.” I dropped the phone, and it hit the ground with a clatter.

“It’s going to be alright, dear,” Mrs. Hildebrand hugged me tightly, stroking my hair. I broke down, and grabbed a tissue. Mom and Dad. They’re in there with them. I left them, how could I leave them? I glanced down at the tissue, and Grabbed it with my mind, holding it just above my palm. I’m a Metahuman now, I should be able to protect them. Every time I’m confronted, I run away. No more. I stopped crying, and clenched my fists. No more weakness, I’m strong now. The fear was gone, only anger remained. Strong enough to save my parents, to stop the bad guys. Some part of me screamed at that. I was too weak, too inexperienced, too pathetic. I wasn’t strong enough, it seemed to yell. I don’t care. I’m so fucking tired of choosing flight over fight. That ends today.

I shrugged out of Mrs. Hildebrand’s embrace and walked to the door.

“Silas, where are you going?”

“Back to my house.”

“But I thought the police officer would have told you not to do, well, that.”

I looked her in the eyes, all too aware of the lack of color. She stiffened in surprise.

“I don’t care.” I cut her off just before she opened her mouth.

“I have to do this.” I shut the door, and started running back to my house.

That small part of me kept talking though. I had no combat experience, and was going against a group of well armed, veteran metahumans. The SVRA or the cops should be getting there any minute now. I can help, maybe I can sneak in and, and, and kill them. A sense of finality filled me, I’ll save my parents, and kill the men responsible for this. I can see the future, teleport, and move things with my mind. I can do this. That small part of me fell silent, and I reveled in the crazy, desperate feeling welling up inside me. It’s do or die, Silas. It’s time to take back my home.

I reached the edge of the woods, and stopped. I closed my eyes, and reached for the power. I opened them, and Looked-8 seconds.I run out onto my lawn, and collapse as a bullet flies through a window and hits me– and decided to wait. I counted to ten, and- 10 seconds. I run out onto my lawn, and reach the house safely- ran as fast as I can.

I reached the wall of my house, and crouched down- 10 seconds. I climb up the tree and ease open the nearest window and shimmy in. The exiting goon turns around- and counted to ten again. Apparently, my Vision cuts out at ten seconds or death. Good to know, so- 10 seconds. I ease up the tree, and enter the window, and shimmy in undetected- I entered my house.

The window opens into the guest bedroom, which is undisturbed. That made sense, the men are looking for valuables, and we don’t have many in this room. I grabbed the solid glass paperweight by the nightstand.

Edging up to the doorframe, I concentrate and accidentally Moved back to the window. Damn it, these powers are fucking annoying, I need to be more careful. I creeped back to the door, and- 10 seconds. I peer out to the right, into the upstairs hallway, where the door to my room stands ajar at the opposite end, at the top of the staircase. I quickly turn to the left, and see the goon entering my dad’s office at the end if the hall.- counted to ten. I snuck into the hall, and turned to the left. Concentrating, I Look and Move at the same time- 4 seconds. The man spins about at my sudden appearance, and guns me down- dropping to the floor at my reappearance. The goon doesn’t notice me, and continues rifling through my dad’s desk.

Ok, just like a video game, just whack him in the head really hard. I fingered the paperweight in my hand, and slowly stood up. Swinging as hard as I could, I slammed him in the side of his head, right above the eye. He fell to the ground with a loud crunch. I lunged toward him, and hit him again. The bloody paperweight fell from my hand, and I puked all over him. Holy fuck I just fucking killed a man, holy shit.

“Walter? What’s wrong?” A voice came up the stairs. Panicked, I reached for the power again. A rushing noise filled my ears, building to a deafening climax. Then, suddenly, it stopped. I heard only my blood flowing and my heart beating. Everything else was silent. I spat to get rid of the lingering vomit taste, and it flew two inches before halting in the air. Time stop? That’s new. The rushing noise began again, and I ducked behind my dad’s desk as it reached a crescendo. I felt time return with a jerk. My spit hit the ground with a plop, and I heard footsteps come up the stairs. Again.

Come on, come on. I focused again, and Looked- 10 Seconds. State Shift enters the room, and discovers the body. He examines it and- that is very bad. I quietly scanned the top of the desk, and grabbed the scissors and a stapler. State Shift ran in as I pulled my hand back.

“Walter, what the fuck? Aw hell.” State Shift ruffled the body. I looked down, under the desk and into the hallway. This better work. Reaching out with my mind, I Grabbed the door to the guest room, and slammed it shut.

State Shift whirled around, and got up from the body. I needed to time this right, so I Gazed into the future and- 10 Seconds. State Shift quietly approaches the door. I Move behind him, unnoticed, then stab him in the neck with the scissors.- now! As State Shift neared the door, I looked over the top of the desk and Moved right behind him. I buried the scissors in his neck, and he collapsed with a yell.

I fell on top of him, trying to pin him so I can stab him again. State Shift screamed, and blood jets from his neck. I got off him, leaving the scissors. Taking a precious moment, I Looked- 10 seconds. A voice calls out from below, and footsteps approach the stairs. State Shift’s flailing slows down from blood loss. I run back to the guest room-

“Shift? Shift!? Aw fuck!” A man shouted, as he began to run to the stairs.

Meanwhile, I had already run into the guest room, tossing the stapler aside. I ducked back out the window, and dropped to the ground. I have to avoid a direct confrontation, buy time for the SVRA and the police. On the ground, I started running around to the front of the house, my stomach heaving. Oh God forgive me, I killed another man. If it wasn’t empty, I would’ve already hurled.

I ran by the side door and stopped. I rang the doorbell a couple times, to piss off whoever was left. Shit. That was stupid. Now they’ll know I went outside. I wasn’t thinking straight, and I had a blistering headache. I needed a second to rest, so I dove behind a hedge that bordered my house.

I sat on the wet ground, between the bush and my house, and breathed. My heart was pounding rapidly, and I needed to think. Slowly, I inhaled and exhaled. Alright, I’ve got precognition, teleportation, telekinesis, and time stopping powers. There’s at least two more left, and Veer is one of them. How do you fight someone who redirects motion? Just then, a wailing siren pierced the night. I peered through the leaves and saw approaching lights. Finally, the cops are here!

I snuck up to the end of one side of the house, peering around the corner to the front. Several police cruisers pulled up, and officers piled out of the them. They assembled behind their cars, and a drew their guns. One officer got out a bullhorn.

“This is the police. Come out of the house with your hands on your head, now.” I Looked- 10 seconds. A burst of gunfire erupts from the upper window on the opposite side of the house, gunning down three officers- and shouted “Upper right window!”

Most of the officers looked towards me, at the window above me. Too late, I realized my mistake. I had said right, my right, which was their left. Gunfire erupts from the window, mowing down four officers. One of them returned fire, apparently he had heeded my advice. The gunfire stopped. My front door burst open.

A man stepped out. Even in black and white, I could tell who he was. Veer. He raised his hands like a conductor, a pistol in each. Cackling madly, Veer began firing randomly into the air as the cops shot at him. I froze up in a combination of fear, panic, and wonder as each and every bullet arced nearly through the air, curving in circles to strike the police officers. In seconds, they were all dead. I looked on in horror as Veer kept laughing, pulling his triggers until he heard clicks.

I picked up a stick. Focusing, I Rushed. As time froze, I ran forward, bursting out of the underbrush in a sprint. Veer wasn’t close enough. I was feet away when time started with its precious cacophony. I swung with my stick, but he smiled and I fell forward, my momentum driving me into the ground instead.

“You little fucker,” he snarled “You killed them, and you’re going to pay!”

I gazed up at him, stunned from hitting the ground so hard. He pulled out a gun and Crack!

I woke up in the hospital, a soothing presence in my head. Hello, Silas.

“Who is this?” I groaned hoarsely. No need to speak, my name is Thinker Prime, from the SVRA. You are in the hospital, you were shot.

Veer?

That’s right, he directed the bullet into your left shoulder. It was intended as torture. Luckily, I stopped him soon after. You see, he has no telepathic defenses, and an unusually weak psyche. It was simple to shut his mind down.

My parents?

The voice hesitated, and sounded sad. I’m truly sorry. Your mother didn’t make it, and your father is in the ICU right now.

I screwed my eyes up in pain, and began to cry. I failed.

You did not fail, you are responsible for stopping a group of killers and thieves. That is admirable.

But I couldn’t save them!

You had your powers for all of ten minutes, and you managed to stop the group.

I should have saved them!

Once you are healed, you should join the SVRA. Make sure you won’t fail to save anyone else ever again.

I clenched my fist in anger as I looked out on my grey world. I won’t fail, I promise.

Writer Introduction: CerealKiller

Hi Everyone, my pen name is CerealKiller

I’d say I’m somewhere between a novice and an intermediate writer, I’ve written stuff before, and it’s not bad, but I’m not great at keeping a plot going long term, which is something I think/hope writing in a group with other people prompting me will help a lot. I’ve been reading TANH for about 4 months.

My character, Lynx, has the ability to shapeshift into two cat-like forms, one humanoid and one quadruped. He has enhanced strength, senses, reflexes, all of that jazz, and heals pretty quick too.

His real name is Steven Chambers, and he’s 17 years old. He’s had his powers for about 4 years, and, unknown to him, they were passed down by his father, who left his mom when he found out she was pregnant. He has two half brothers, and a half sister, and he loves them all, but can be a bit distant to them. His youngest brother is five, the older one is 14. His sister is 11. He’s quite tall, 6 foot 2, and lean, with defined muscles.

My plans for him are pretty vague, at the moment. He’s a smart kid, or at least he thinks he is, and he quite enjoys the freedom his powers give him. So he’s not gonna want to join the SVRA immediately, or at all, without some pretty compelling reasons. He also is going to be a hero, or at least a vigilante, because he can’t not be. For him, that choice isn’t one, he just has too.

I live in South East England, and I enjoy writing (duh), and video games.

Writer Introduction: Mandragons

Hello, my PenName is Mandragons. You may have seen me commenting on various webserials across the web, and I’m a writer now. My writing level is probably somewhere in between novice and intermediate. I’m no stranger to writing long papers, but this is my first time writing in a web serial. In the past, I’ve taken some creative writing courses, which were pretty good. I’ve got some mad speed reading skills, although I tend to focus more on the big picture than the nitty gritty. I have to read something a couple times to get all the information I can from it, which is why I have read TANH around six or so times. Admittedly, I only started searching for the details after being accepted as a writer. I’ve only been reading TANH since around September/October of 2013.

 

For my character, I decided on Ravus Decem, which means Gray 10 in English. Of course, I don’t speak Latin, and neither does my character. So, the translation might be a little bit off. He messes with space and time, to get a handful of decent powers. RD is not a power switcher though, his power is to bend space and time into four effects. Ravus Decem can teleport, use telekinesis (his space powers), stop time, and see into the future (his time powers). A struggle of RD’s is his OCD, though that will come into play later on.

 

His real name is Silas Weaver, and he is a high school senior. In school, Silas is quiet and fairly shy, blending into the background. He is an above average student, but tends to hover around the B range. Silas is decent in combat, but works hard to be an expert marksman. Being a precog, Silas tends to be unerringly accurate. However, he tries to avoid head to head confrontations, focusing on stealth.

 

Silas got his powers during a home invasion some time ago. I think I’ll leave it at that. It does put Silas firmly into the hero camp. He is not against killing, although he tends to spare those who commits ‘lesser’ crimes; like stealing, arson, or anything white collar that doesn’t have drastic impacts. Anyone who does anything that reminds him of his family’s fate, he tends to kill.

 

I live in Massachusetts, and I enjoy any kind of water-sports, especially when the water is frozen.