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Of Pain and Hate.

D. Heikes

            The city spread out before her, twenty stories below, looking like an ant farm.  Cars streamed by on the streets of Steel Canyon, the sun glinting off the bright paint and glass.  People scurried around their pathetic lives turning their blind eyes to all that occurred around them, maybe even hoping and dreaming of getting a glance of one of Paragon’s famous heroes.
     She felt bile rise in the back of her throat.  These people turned her stomach.
     Her vision began to fog, an angry red cloud filled with voices and visions and hate.  She bit down on her lower lip, trying to focus the anger, keep from slipping completely into her delirium.  She hated that, too.  She had to control it, because she knew what lurked there.  The visions were the worst when she lost herself, seeing Ron, her husband, burned to death over and over. 
    
Her hands were encased in gloves made especially for her, cestus of sorts, with three razor sharp retractable alloy blades housed along the backs of her forearms.  She drew one of the blades over the scarred tissue of her upper left arm, biting harder on her lip at the pain, tears welling in her eyes as she fought against her inner demons.
     Looking from the street, or even only a few feet away on the ledge of the building, nobody would have seen Evisceral Shadow, the scientifically created shroud of nothingness she kept around herself making her nearly invisible.  The only noticeable part of her presence were the spattering drops of blood flowing from the cuts she dug in her arm.

    

     Helicopters circled overhead, their rotors beating a heavy staccato on the air.  Flames billowed from high rise office buildings, apartment complexes, convenience stores, and homes.  The members of the gang known as the Hellions had tried to light Paragon City on fire one summer day, rampaging through the city setting bombs and fires everywhere they could.  Citizens crowded the streets, fleeing the flames and murderous gang members.
     In places the police had set up barricades around buildings and were in desperate firefights with the Hellions, bullets and grenades flying in both directions.  Without apparent purpose the Hellions would fire sprays of gunfire into the surrounding crowds of pedestrians as well as at the police as though all they wanted to do was kill.
     The capes came out of the woodwork.  The skies filled with a choking black smoke, cut by the currents of a passing hero, rocketing through the skies to the hotspots of trouble, trying in every part of Paragon City to suppress the Hellions.
     Cassandra and Ron fought through the pressing crowd, trying to make it to the parking garage where they left their car everyday for work.  The twenty story office building that held the brokerage firm that employed the couple had been attacked by the Hellions, the few employees who had arrived before the trouble began fled the building as the gang members streamed in through the front. It was only through the loading dock at the back of the building that Cassandra, Ron, and a few others had escaped being gunned down the same as several of the buildings tenants.
     The crowd around the building was thick, many people pressing in to actually try to see what was going on, to give in to that human condition that made people stare at car accidents.  Pressing through the sea of bodies Cassandra looked back to see Ron staring up at the building.
     A hail of bullets sprayed from a middle floor.  Citizens screamed and ducked and tried to run but there was no room.  A grenade bounced under a police car and detonated, sending the officers hiding behind it flying.
     “Thauma Guard!” a voice shouted. 
    
A tall ebony skinned woman landed near the police line and began weaving force fields around the fallen officers. 
    
“That’s Skida Marink!” Came another cry.
     A smaller woman dressed in white landed next to the first, a green aura spreading over the police, healing minor wounds.
     Above the streets two other heroes hovered, blasting the gang members in the building with blue bursts of energy and orange flame.  Arcs of power danced around the energy blaster, shrouded in tightly fitting green and black armor.  The other wore red and black, was red skinned with white hair.
     Several of the heroes gathered wore the same emblem on their chests; a circle containing a cresting wave.
     “Holy crap this is intense,” Ron said, stopping to watch, pressing closer towards the police barricades.
     “What the hell are you doing?” Cassandra asked.  “We have to get out of here.  You’re going to get killed.”
     “The heroes have it under control,” Ron said.  “I want to see this.”
     A mass of Hellions rushed from the front of the office, firing weapons at the heroes hovering above.  Some of the gang members turned on the crowd, mowing down civilians in an attempt to divide the heroes’ attention.
     Energy and flames struck into the mass of gang members.  Fireballs flew back from the Hellions as they retaliated in kind.
     The world around Cassandra exploded in chaos.  Bullets flew in all directions.  Explosions detonated all around.  Fireballs and flame.  Energy blasts.  People panicked.  Cassandra was hit by a concussion wave, sent her flying like a rag doll, hitting the ground hard.  Pain exploded in her right arm.
     Regaining her feet she looked frantically around for Ron, found him and a few others struggling to their feet.  The explosion that had sent Cassandra flying backwards had knocked Ron and those near him forwards, within yards of the embattled Hellions.
     One of the gang members began shooting the group around Ron. A Hero rushed into the group from nowhere, a katana in the small woman’s hand.
     The gang lashed back with fire and bullets.  More blue blasts of energy, orange flame, bullets.  A fireball exploded around the hero, barely touching her but spreading out, engulfing those near.
     Ron’s scream filled her head as the flames washed over him and the woman standing next to him.  For only a brief instant she saw him writhe in the flames before he collapsed and broke apart, a statue of burnt ash.

     The blade bit deeper, the scars around the fresh cuts a course for the rivulets of blood flowing from her arm.  Quickly the cuts healed to scars, but the pain remained.
     Sweat poured over her knotted brow, breathing in heavy gasps, Evisceral Shadow watched over the city, a feral creature filled with hate and anguish. 
    
In the aftermath of Ron’s death, she had sought out one of the Arachnos scientists, seduced him, convinced him to augment her, create her gloves.  Her healing recovery had been accelerated ten-fold, her strength a magnitude beyond that.  She could slip through the city unseen by any unless she chose to strike, and when she did it was lethal.
     The scientist who had created her had been the first to die upon her blades, killed for having been so easily manipulated.
     She had come to hate everything.  The world was a mass of anger.  She was disgusted by it, by all of its inhabitants.  She gathered those she could manipulate into following her, her minions growing.  Eventually she would kill them, too, pathetic weak minded fools.  But not before they helped her rid Paragon of those she hated the most.
     Those who bore the symbol of the cresting wave: The Onami Strike Force.

TO PART 2 >


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