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Peices of Eight:
The Results

City of Heroes/City of Villains

Fan Fiction By
Anthony Harte

    Norman pacing anxiously sent echoes from his hardened boots reverberating down the marbled hallway. He was watching his pulse rate race pass eighty in his heads-up visor display. Struggling to enhance his own calm, he only agitated the hospital med-tech who was sure the Protector, if angered, would kill him if he did not hurry with the results.

    “It should be done any minute sir,” the young technician said fumbling over the word knowing the process would take several. The Protectors were heroes to the people of the Rogue Isles, but rumors abound about what happens to those that piss them off. If the Protector heard him, he did not indicate it and only paced back and forth at an increasing rate deep in thought.

    Mentally turning reality on its side, Norman manipulated the puzzle before him. He knew her from somewhere, but trying to remember someone else’s memory was difficult. If it even was indeed someone else’s. Recalling his childhood easily summoned forth the day his father died from wounds sustained in service to Arachnos. It had been a cold day, and a colder one to come when his mother finally succumbed to her cancer years later. He remembered joining the ranks of Lord Recluse honoring the memory of his father, but that is when the fragments began.

    Norman stopped his pacing, walked across the hall, and stared silently at the little one as she slept. He knew this child, but not why. The dealings with criminals like the Gamester only clouded the situation. His conclusions had to be accurate, she must be his daughter and he accepted the idea including what it would entail. Losing himself in that one happy thought in which the world made sense, he saw himself as a father. His would have been proud of him at his success in Arachnos, and he would make her proud of her father.

    His thoughts drifting through the numerous facets of his mind’s eye led him quite expectedly to Thauma Guard. He sighed deeply at the thought of two important women in his life that he could love dearly. He would do anything for them. Saving the world, or destroying it, it did not matter for if they desired it he would deliver it. He saw Thauma running along the beaches of the Rogue Isles her black skin glistening as she chased their daughter across the sand in a game of tag…

    “Excuse me sir,” the technician interrupted swallowing hard. “I have the results.”

    Reality slammed him harder than a brick wall and he actually stumbled from the impact. He allowed himself to get lost in happy fantasies only to be reminded how the world really was. His pulse slowed to its normal fifty beats per minute.

    The technician stepped back surprised to see the Protector loose his balance. He quickly stepped forward to offer assistance realizing that it might be insulting to not offer it.

    “Hands off me,” Norman said swatting the technicians hand away. Slightly embarrassed by his momentary show of weakness he stood firmly at attention regaining his military bearing. “You have the result then?”

    “Yes, sir.” The technician gripped the printout tightly ready to offer his conclusion, which all three tests indicated decisively. The Protector made sure all retesting was to be done at the same time instead of continuing the wait for the result. What he was not sure of though was whether the results were what the Protector wanted to hear.

    Norman braced himself. From this day forward, things were going to be different. He was reclaiming a part of himself and a piece of the puzzle would be in place.

    “The results are negative,” the technician finally blurted.

    The answer hit him at terminal velocity and a hundred times harder than that wall. His discipline and military bearing prevented him from showing the slightest emotion. Rising temperature in the hallway became noticeable to the nurse station a several feet away. Norman did not see his pulse rise to sixty as he summoned the heat of his inner fires. It was always ready and he was prepared to release it.

    Sweat began dripping down the technicians face and with the long silence he realized something bad was about to happen.

    Norman remembered she was nearby and suppressed the beast. His pulse lowered. He could never hurt her regardless.

    “All… all three test negative,” the technician stammered.

    ‘Very well,” Norman said waving the technician away and turned into the room of his little one. He fell into a pit of despair, but the world would never realize it. She was not his daughter. He removed his metal gauntlets and stroked her soft hair. He felt a peace and serenity he never remembered experiencing before.

    “It doesn’t matter,” he said softly. “I will ensure you’re looked after. You will never be without want or need for I will spoil you as one of my own.”

    Norman spent the reminder of the night for a few short hours living the lie that she was his daughter. When sun shone upon the hospital that morning he and the Toyster were gone like his hopes and dreams. So was any trace of his blood test and samples. The firefighters battling the blaze at the hospital would not ever find the source of combustion in the blood lab.

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