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Chapter 1 (The Institute)

High in the mountains above Geneva, Switzerland, is one of the best-kept secrets known to man. Secret in so much that it is not known to the common citizens of the nations of the world. Among those tall forbidding peaks, lies the Institute. The Institute is a training facility for the meta-humans who defend all the peoples of the earth from dangers both seen and unseen. Managed by an oversight committee made up of appointed member nation representatives and working in conjunction with the United Nations, the Institute helps shape the skills and abilities of the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I was sent to the Institute at the age of thirteen and it would become by home for the next five years. I am a meta-human, the variety of which that is more commonly called a mutant. My powers first manifested at the age of thirteen while I was living in an orphanage in Copenhagen, Denmark. I never knew who my parents were or where I came from. All I know of my background is I was left as an infant on the steps of the orphanage and it was the only home I had ever knew. One day while climbing across the roof of one building to another, an activity that all of us engaged in when unobserved by our keepers, I fell. This fall was over 35 feet and at its conclusion, I was badly injured. I am told that I broke both legs, my pelvis, several ribs and fractured my skull. I was unaware of this at the time, as I also had fell into a coma. Doctors were summoned and I was transported to the nearby hospital and placed in an intensive care ward. The prognosis was not good and I was not expected to live beyond the next day. However, a miraculous event occurred that night, I healed. Overnight I went from to death’s door to perfect health. Needless to say, this caused quite a bit of confusion until further testing confirmed that indeed I was a mutant with the ability to regenerate injury. The traumatic injuries that I had sustained was the catalyst that awakened my ability. My status was reported to the government as per the Meta-Human Registration Act and I was quickly removed from the orphanage and sent to the Institute.

I remember the first time I saw the château as I was driven up the long twisting road that snaked up the side of the mountain. Having nothing to compare it to but the state run orphanage that had been my home, I thought it was a castle or even a palace fit for a king. Upon arrival we were met by Headmaster Boyden and I quickly learned that this palace was a school. A very difficult school that not only taught it’s students to use the extraordinary abilities they possessed, but also an education in the classics as well as the latest in technology and science. I learned that the Institute was a place that existed outside the boundaries of country or state. It had been determined by the powers of the world that the Institute and it’s grounds were to be neutral and for the benefit of all the nations of the earth. It was here that I was to spend my next five years. I learned from some of the greatest minds of our age and study the works of the great minds of ages past. Now it is important to note, lest you have the idea that the Institute is solely academic, that in addition to developing the mind the body is exercised as well. The level of physical training is certainly beyond anything that you would find short of an elite military unit. Students learn many different types of hand-to-hand combat styles, in addition to marksmanship, survival skills, acrobatics, investigative techniques, and anything else today’s superhero needs to survive outside the walls of the Institute. Time spent studying, living and socializing here is well spent indeed; as through the tutelage received the students become the best at what they do.

My time as a student flew by and I absorbed all the information that I could find. I felt as if I had finally found my place in the world and discovered that I had a purpose and destiny to make that world a better place. It was discovered that regeneration was not my only meta-human ability. As time went by, it was found that I had an innate aptitude for hand-to-hand combat and seemed almost precognitive in anticipating my opponents next move. Furthermore, I found that I could levitate myself off the ground and travel through the air solely by willpower. It has been theorized that I will continue to discover new meta-human abilities as I mature.

During my final year at the Institute, I was told about the special group that functions as field operatives. This group, The Internationals, is made up of heroes from many different countries from around the world. They work independently from the Institute and only answer to the United Nations. Their membership is drawn primarily from Institute alumni and some even serve as instructors when not active in the field. There can only be one hero per gender for each country, and named after their country of origin, in The Internationals’ ranks. When there is a vacancy in those ranks, the competition to fill that slot is quite heated. Those graduating students who do not qualify to become a part of The Internationals, either due to their particular country already having an active representative or failure to meet the stringent requirements to join, are given “non-country based” names and costumes upon graduation and begin their life as an independent superhero. Occasionally current students are even allowed to join The Internationals, if they can provide an ability that is needed for a specific mission. In those cases, they carry the name “Little” before the name of their country. To the best of my knowledge, my country of origin was Denmark and upon my graduation, there was a current Mr. Denmark active with The Internationals; therefore, I was barred from joining the illustrious group. I was provided with a sent of indestructible claws, a blue and gray battles suit and given the name Havoc and sent forth to fight evil and injustice. It was under this identity that I began my career as a superhero.

I traveled to Paragon City, Rhode Island, United States of America and established myself in the Kings Row neighborhood. This neighborhood had once been quite nice and filled with homes and businesses; however, now a gang that called itself the Hellions overran it. Now the businesses were closed, or burned out, for refusing to pay protection money to the Hellions, and the families all lived in fear in the many slums that had grown like a cancer in this neighborhood. My first job was to bring relief to this besieged part of the city. I would move against one off the major leaders of the Hellions and break his gang once and for all. My plan was to infiltrate Big Jim Sullivan’s gang of Hellions and upon learning the location of his base of operations, prepare a raid and destroy the gang. But plans are easier made than executed and I had no idea how I was to go about infiltrating such a devilish group of villains.

That opportunity came suddenly and from an unexpected direction one cold and gloomy February morning. While walking out for coffee and a bite to eat, before I put on my costume and began prowling the back alleys of Kings Row; I heard a cry for help from a dark alley. I raced into the alley and was confronted by four members of the Skulls gang attempting to rob a young woman. Before they could react, I launched a flying sidekick into the chest of the closest gang member. He collapsed to the ground in a heap and offered no further hostility as I turned toward his three friends.

“Hey jackass, you’ve picked the wrong alley and started something you’re going to regret”, snarled the punk who was holding the young woman by the arm.

Look friends, I think there has been some sort of misunderstanding. Just leave the lady alone and go about your business. There is no need for anyone else to get hurt, I replied as I moved to where they could not circle behind me.

“The only one whose going to get hurt is you buddy!” the second yelled as he rushed me from the right side.

Because of the training I had received at the Institute, his punch seemed slow and clumsy. I easily avoided his attack and responded with right hook to his stomach and an overhand left to his right temple. Now two gang members were stretched out unconscious on filthy and trash-strewn ground. The remaining Skulls decided discretion was the better part of valor and after hurling several profanities and obscene gestures, fled the alley. With the threat gone, I was able to assist the young woman to her feet and check on her well being. She appeared to be about twenty-five years of age, with red hair and green eyes; with just a dusting of freckles. Overall, she was quite an attractive woman.

Are you okay? I inquired as she regained her feet and began dusting herself off from her brief contact with the filthy alley.

I’m okay now. Thank goodness that you came along. I’d hate to think how this might have turned out otherwise. I’m Katherine she said as she stuck out a hand, introducing herself. But all my friends call me Kate.

I shook her hand and introduced myself as Mike. I am just glad I was here and able to help out, I replied. If you are okay, I guess I will be on my way and I began to move toward the entrance of the alley.

Wait! She called as I turned away from her. Let me buy you breakfast or at least a cup of coffee. I know this little place near by. Their eggs are runny and their toast is burnt; but they make the best cup of joe in the whole Row.

So we walked down the street, stepping over the garbage and making our way toward the café. As we walked, I asked her why she had been attacked by those gang members. Were they just after her purse or did she know them?

No, I’ve never seen those punks before. Actually, this isn’t really their turf anyway. If my bro knew what had happened, there’d be hell to pay.

Your brother? Is he a police officer or something? I asked.

Well, I guess he would be best classified as the “or something”, she answered with a small laugh. With that, she turned and stuck out her hand again waiting for me to shake it.

I’m Kate Sullivan. My brother is Jim Sullivan, “Big Jim Sullivan”. The leader of the Kings Row Hellions and you can bet there’ll be hell to pay for the Skulls when he hears about what happened.

So I found myself standing there on a dirty and cold Kings Row street, shaking the hand of the sister of the man who held this community in vice grip of crime and fear. It is funny how things work out, by dumb luck I had found my way into the Hellions.

Is this café and best cup of coffee in the whole Row much farther? I asked. No, it’s just around the corner she replied and we began walking again.

After a few more steps I decided to push my luck. So your brother, Big Jim, do you think you could introduce me? You see, I am new to town and I really need to get some work, otherwise I will be living in that alley we just left, I said with a smile.

Sure, I’d be happy to introduce you. When he finds out that you saved his baby sister from some punk Skulls, he’s going to love you. At the very least you can get some work. But I bet when he hears how easily you took those guys down, he’ll have a place for you in his organization for sure. There’s the café up ahead.

We stepped into the café and the smell of eggs, burnt toast and coffee. We moved to an empty table in the corner and I wondered how someone as attractive and nice as Kate could be related to the head of a criminal organization. Soon I would be meeting “Big Jim” and if I could get close enough to get the information I needed, I would put an end to his reign of crime on this neighborhood. But first, I was going to let Kate buy me a cup of coffee and plan my next move.


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