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Introduction to Darkness
 
Darkness.
Pain.

My body feels likes its been broken into its most basic components and then rebuilt again. My arms ache from my shoulders (I have shoulders?) down to my fingertips (wow! I have fingernails!).
I tumble over and over, though I have no sense of direction. I'm blinded by the lack of colors, yet see every color imaginable.
Oh no.
I pass out.


THUD!
"Ouch," I groan. "That hurt way too badly to be enjoyable."
I open my eyes to find myself lying on green grass. I looked around, and tried to get my bearings. I was surrounded by familiar sights, but not completely familiar. My badly damaged hand lies upon my assault rifle, which lies nearby, as my body lies upon the cool, dew-marked grass. The sun has already passed its zenith, which makes the time about two in the afternoon.
"Any landing you can walk away from..." I joke to myself, grimacing as I slowly pick myself up. My body aches and pops with every movement and a painful groan escape my lips before I can hold it in. The scene laid out before me looks familiar, but the more I look at it, the more alien it becomes.
"What are all these statues doing here?" I ask myself, almost silently. They weren't there this morning, were they?
"Help me! They're killing me!"
I scan to the right and find a bunch of robed figures surrounding a very scared looking girl. Their mouths and fingers were in concert with each other as they start enacting spells. Looking down to my assault rifle, I find that the ammo clip is full loaded and I'm almost ready for action. I pick the assault rifle up, load the clip and I shoot four series of buckshot at the robed figures.
They all fall down, each and every one of them sport holes from the shots. Three of them get back up and start heading for me. I'm usually a better shot than that, I admonish to myself. In a heartbeat, I squeeze three more shots of slugs, one into each of the remaining robed figures. Two go down and the last one bounces off the ground before picking himself up again.
"Blood and Blades!" I yell. "Stay down you fool!"
I send another burst of rifle ammunition through the last figure. He hits the ground with a sickening thud. It's evident that he won't stand again. The girl, picking herself back up after falling from the disruption of the spell, runs to me and gives me a big hug. The scent of roses emanates from her.
"Maybe I was wrong about you capes after all," she says, running off in the opposite direction.
Capes?
Huh?
I start thinking and the confusion is plainly evident on my face, as a gentleman looks at me and then rushes off in another direction, possibly in fear. I glance back at the area where I fought the robbed villains and feel shocked as the bodies are no where in sight.
"Well, Toto, it looks like Kansas went bye-bye," I say to myself, chuckling at the reference of one of the old movies I'm so found of. "Bye bye for good."

Sight by sight, I visit each city that I can reach by the Yellow Line Tram. Nothing is the same. This is not my home, nor are any of the cities familiar to my home. Steel Canyon, King's Row, Galaxy City, and Skyway City. None of the names are familiar to me. I read over the history from some of the statues and ascertain some names. I never heard of Positron, or Statesman or even that Right for Might Act.
Then it hits me. I don't have a home here!
For the next few hours I speculate what had just happened before waking up here and myself thinking about my position. Evidently, I traveled to a parallel dimension. This world, so unlike my own, has beings that possess "super-powered" natures, and not all of them of a friendly or good nature.
So, homeless and friendless, I walk over to where one of the largest statues I've ever seen stands. The Heroes that were gathered at Atlas' feet were a motley bunch. Heroes of types of ages, sexes, body types and even races, converged there.
"Costume contest in 3 minutes," yells out a young Hero dressed in schoolgirl clothes. I immediately know she's a Hero by the glowing aura surrounding her. "And turn off your powers!"
I realize at that very moment that there was so very much I needed to learn about this world. I look around and find a very large crowd surrounding a young woman wearing a patriotic uniform. As I excuse myself past the crowd, I push my way up to her. The crowd rumblings around her tell me her name as "Miss Liberty".
I introduce myself, and she tells me that I need to talk to Rick Davies inside of City Hall. I give her that look that says volumes about me being lost. She points to the building behind us, and directs me to the lower levels within the facility.
She pulls up a phone out of her skirt pocket and places a call to Rick Davies, letting him know that I was on my way. She shakes my hand and I walk towards City Hall.
Before entering City Hall I realize that my hands start to sweat as I sling my rifle onto my back. I look at the fading scarlet sunlight as it cascades over the buildings of what I will come to know as Atlas Park. I slowly start to grin as I realize that someday I will find my way home and finish the unfinished business left behind me.
I still cannot believe what's happened to me in the short twenty-four hours that it took to change my life.
Paragon City is the place of miracles.
Consider my order placed.
 
 
Learning Curve
 
City Hall was the bustling center of Atlas Park. As I entered the building, I noticed that the entranceway was filled with another assortment of statues. A city representative greeted me and directed me to the right side of the building to where I could meet with Rick Davies. She didn't look like Hero, but as in most cases, especially around here, looks are deceiving.
The hallway I walked down was paved in some brick colored carpet that looked very worn. It turned to the left and opened up and several offices were located down here. A couple of Field Trainers stood by the hallway exit.
All types of offices were down here; MAGI, DATA, ELITE, SERAPH and GIFT. I had to look closely at what each of them stood for before I figured out that the offices of the Department of Advanced Technological Application (DATA) was what I was looking for. I walked in, not knowing what to expect.
One gentleman was wearing a plaid T-shirt and dirty jeans, looking like a mechanic in some regards. His hair, dark chestnut brown, was slicked back and he was standing over in the center of the office, talking on his cell phone, pacing back and forth. A young lady was sitting at the desk on the right side to the doorway. She looked at me and waved her head towards the gentleman in jeans.
"Are you Rick Davies?" I asked, walking up to him.
"Yep," he answered briskly, as he hung up his phone.
"Finally," a sigh escaped my lips before I could stop it. "My name is..."
"Shadowyn," Rick interrupted. "Miss Liberty already called me and informed me about your situation. New in town, huh?"
"More like new to this world, but yeah, I'm new here."
"Here's the deal," Rick Davies briskly said as he walked over to one of the desk nearest him. He straightened up and looked into my eyes dead on. "I'm one of your contacts. What I do is I get the information from my sources, which unless I tell you otherwise, you do NOT need to know about. I hand out the missions to you and yours, meaning other Heroes. I have multitudes of Heroes in and out of this office, so you'll excuse the briefness of our discussions. At that time, either you'll accept one of the missions, or if I have no more missions, I'll find you a new contact to get them from."
"Sounds good," I replied, trying to keep this short.
"Good, cause I've got a good one that just crossed my desktop not even 30 seconds ago I think you can handle all by yourself. Let me go get it."
"What is it?" Rick looked at me, I guess he was trying to size me up, and nodded once. He turned around and headed to the back of the offices.
"Carolyn," Rick spoke to young lady at the front of the office. "If any other Heroes come in, tell them I'll be back in a couple of minutes. I'm expecting Statesman to drop by this evening so if he comes in, inform me immediately."
"Yes, sir."
"Follow me, Shadowyn." I followed Rick to the back offices, where a multitude of workers shuffled through paperwork, as well as other parts and pieces of machinery. He sat down at a desk, which I assumed to be his. Other pieces of clock machinery were scattered throughout the office as well as the desk.
"I'm having issues with a couple of gangs hereabouts," Rick began without hesitation. "We've got a few people out there taking down the Clockwork King's minions, but the Hellions and Skulls have been hindering us. They've even gone as far as trying to prevent us from investigating the remains of the Clockwork minions."
He picked up a twisted, mangled Clockwork arm. Faint traces of frost were slowly evaporating off the arm as Rick held the arm. I looked around and realized that I could make out assorted parts within the pieces surrounding the office.
In one corner, three workers were dissecting a Clockwork torso and another two were trying to put a Clockwork leg together.
"Our investigations concerning certain Clockwork plans have been compromised and I need you to 'uncompromise' them. I need you to take down a couple of each of the gangs; about ten to twenty of each should suffice for now. That should tell them that we won't tolerate any more of this foolishness."
I paused for a few seconds to reflect what Rick was saying then nodded.
"I have one request," I asked. "I need more ammunition. I'm not sure what I use for bullets is what this world uses. I want to be sure."
"No problem." Rick answered, calmly. "Have one of my guys work something out with you. They're the best in the field." With that, he stood up and started to walk out the office. He stopped by the door, looked back and said, "And once you're done with that mission, come back here and I'll see what I can to find you another mission."
"Good."
With that being said, Rick left the office, and another one of the gentlemen working in the office approached me. The gentleman was a bit on the heavy side. His graying hair was thinning out on the very top of his head, but the sides were still full of hair. His brown eyes seemed a bit foggy, but his gaze never wavered in the least. He introduced himself as Theodore Grant.
"Ted, if you will," he replied with an iron hard voice." I haven't seen this before, Shadowyn. What kind of rifle is this?"
"It's a Mod II Kilo Recoilless," I responded back, knowing that he would never have heard of it before.
"It almost looks like an Assault Rifle the military uses," Ted paused to drop the clip. He emptied the clip of its remaining three rounds, carefully opened one of them open, looked back at me and smiled. "Your luck is golden today. These look to be the same type of ammo we use as well."
"So this won't be an issue?"
"Not in the least. We have enough to keep you covered for a while."
"As long as I can keep the bad guys down long enough to handcuff them, that's good enough for me."
Ted look at me in a look of surprise. "Handcuffs?" he asked. "We don't use 'cuffs here about."
He walked over to another table, again full of machinery. He shuffled a few parts over and picked up something. He tossed me something that looked like a small cylinder with circuitry inscribed all over it. It also had two buttons. One of the buttons was a glowing blue button, and the other, a glowing red one.
"The red button is for you to use when you 'arrest' the 'bad guys'," Ted explained. "It sends them to a facility used in Brickstown for storing the villains until we can process them."
"And the blue button?"
"That one is your lifeline. Should you get to the point of being severely injured, it will send you to the nearest hospital in the area. You will need to initialize it by holding your fingertip to it for thirty seconds, and then it will act on its own."
"Sweet," I placed my fingertip on it as Ted advised me to. There was a low humming sound with a brief vibration. A brief buzzing made Ted nod his head once.
"You're good now."
I looked down to the cylinder, and realized that the glowing blue button changed to a bright green glow. Looking at Ted, who gave me a knowing nod, began to chuckle softly at my naivet鮠He put a hand on my shoulder and with genuine concern told me "Good hunting." I headed towards the front door of the office when it hit me that I forgot to talk to Rick once again. I found him in exactly the same spot where I first saw him.
"Here," Rick yelled, tossing something shiny towards me. "You might need this. Its a..."
"Low grade enhancement for damage," I interrupted. "I used this type back on my world, so I know exactly how to use it."
Rick nodded. "Good luck Hero."
And the Hunt begins.
 
 
Hell's Bells
 
I strolled out of the office, and headed back up the brightly-lit hallway of City Hall. Colorful Heroes of all natures streamed in and out of this hallway, but none of them stood in my way. My discussion with Rick Davies gave me a purpose while I inhabited this planet, but it couldn't take away the homesickness that festered within.
As I exited the building, I was assaulted with a multitude of sights, smells and sounds. Civilians drove their cars throughout the city, with what looked like carefully calculated ignorance. Gang members strolled the streets, with barely an ounce of concern for their neighbors. I found myself back underneath that huge statue in front of City Hall.
"Costume contest in two minutes," yelled a young woman dressed in an outfit constructed for defense, not allure.
Other Heroes gathered around her call, some sensibly attired and others quite garnished. An alien Hero also stood in line, his black antennae were glossy black on top of his stone face, and his mouthpiece covered whatever it had for a mouth and it was surrounded by some darker, grittier Heroes and some innocent looking ones.
"It takes all sorts," I whispered, wondering from where all of these people came from.
I found myself strolling off to one of the side parking lots on the East side of City Hall. I saw six thugs, dressed with demonic symbols, trying to steal an elderly woman's purse. Those had to be the Hellions. She was cringing in fear, as the Hellions pranced about, waving their pistols and handguns threateningly.
At once, I brought my assault rifle from my back and I took aim at the nearest Hellion. He stood some twenty feet away from me and about five feet away from the rest of the gang members. It should be easy to take him down, I thought as my crosshairs centered on him.
The sound of a round exploding out of the muzzle cut the air in a shattering scream. The Blood Brother Slammer, caught off guard, flew back a foot or two, and hit the ground with a resounding crunch. Slowly, he got back up, blood pouring from his left arm.
"No killing shots," I reminded myself. Squeezing the trigger again, I sent another round into the gang member's left ribcage. It hit with a sickening, wet thud. As the Slammer fell, I heard a slight buzz coming from my side as the Hellion slowly faded from sight.
Flipping the switch on the rifle to semi-automatic, I closed in onto the remaining Hellions. There was no way that surprise was on my side now. As I got closer, a Blood Brother Slugger brought up his handgun and shot at me. My body armor took the brunt of the hit, leaving a small bruise on my skin underneath it.
Have I mentioned that I hate when the enemy hits me?
Bringing the assault rifle up to my shoulder, I squeezed the trigger again, releasing a series of three round bursts. The first volley caught the Slugger square in the chest, not only sending him back, but also into one of his gang buddies as well, as he disappeared. The second burst finished another Slugger off, sending him automatically to jail, but the last shot missed completely.
"Oh, blood and blades!" I cursed. I hate missing a clean shot, too.
One of the Blood Brother Slicers came charging at me with reckless abandonment. I squeezed off another burst and then another two bursts. Two of the Hellions disappeared in howls of agony while the last remaining one rushed me. I didn't have the time to pull the trigger as he bowled me onto the ground, forcing my rifle to fly right out of my hands. Without thinking, I placed my hands on his shoulders in an effort to roll him over, but once I grabbed him, a rolling energy raged within me and then flowed out of my hands in an instant. Suddenly, the Slugger's legs were encased in solid ice.
"I'm gonna take you down, Hero," he snarled at me, pulling a handgun out. Spit flying all over the place as he talked.
"Keep thinking that," I retorted back, wiping the spittle from my face. I found where my rifle had landed, and dashed off to retrieve it. I started to pick it up when a shot ricocheted off the concrete beside it. I fumed.
"That did it. I was going to place nice, but, no, you wanted to play hardball."
I dove for the rifle as the Hellion squeezed off another shot and hit me in the forearm, between my armor plates. I rolled and quickly squeezed off a shoot in his general direction, as a sharp pain went through my arm. I never knew where I hit him because the next moment he was fading out of sight.
I stood there, thinking about where the ice came from when I was grabbed and hugged from behind. It was the elderly woman. It took me a minute to actually get a word in edgewise, mainly because she was 'singing praises for her rescue'. She eventually asked my name, which of course I gave to her.
"You're my most favorite Hero, Shadowyn," she praised. "If there is anything you may need, please give me a call. I'm one of the proprietors of Cooke's Electronics, specializing in the enhancements for Heroes, such as yourself."
"Thank you, ma'am," I humbly replied. "I will keep you in mind should I need some."
"Consider the first couple on the house," she replied, as a tear of happiness dropped from her eyes. She gave me a chaste kiss then rushed off towards the Yellow Line Tram.
I spent the next thirty minutes fighting more Hellions in Atlas Park. Eventually, rest of them took to fleeing when they saw me approach.
"I hope it isn't my breath," I joked to myself.
I ran throughout Atlas Park, looking for some Skulls to 'arrest'. I could not seem to find any, though one of the citizens here gave me the information I was looking for. He was dressed in a sharp charcoal gray five-piece suit and was rushing off to the East before I stopped him.
"Perez Park," the gentleman said quickly. "They even congregate on the streets even more than the Hellions do here."
He walked off before I could thank him. So, with that information in hand, I headed for the gate towards Perez Park. The Security Chief checked my badge to make sure I had the proper security clearance to enter Perez Park. Evidently, these characters were tough nuts to crack. He got the approval I needed to enter and I entered Perez Park for the first time.
I walked down the streets to what looked like a ghost town. Nobody at all was on the streets. I turned the corner and I suddenly found myself fighting furiously against Gravedigger Brawlers, Choppers, Slammers, Slicers and Sluggers, all dressed in gray jackets. During the fight, I realized that many of these factions carried the same names and fighting skills.
"How unoriginal," I murmured to myself as I sent another Skull to jail. "At least they don't have the common sense to band together."
I felt a lethargic force pass through my body, as I noticed my body glowing in an eerie shade of purple. I heard an evil laughter coming from behind me, as I whirled around. My rifle sights lead to another Skull, but this one was dressed in black leathers.
"You think that you can just come around here," he yelled, his voice harsh. "You think you can kill my men and go free?"
"Jail."
"What?" he asked, disturbed that I interrupted him.
"You said kill," I explained, taking the time to reason with him as I quietly flicked the switch back onto automatic. "I only send them to jail."
"Die!"
Another jolt of that blackish purple energy came from his hands and surrounded my body. I found my self on my knees, wanting to purge myself. With effort, I forced myself off of my knees and onto my feet, and raised my rifle up to his midsection. He growled and forced more of that stuff towards me.
I almost passed out from the pain, but I forced myself to squeeze the trigger. Over and over and over again, I sent full metal jackets into his body. He jerked as each round hit him in different areas of his body. I clicked the switch back to semi-automatic so I could send a final burst into him before I passed out completely. He rushed into me, bowling me over, and my senses reeled. My finger pulled the trigger once more as his fingers dug into my neck.
Slowly, the pressure went away as he faded into nothingness and I lay there not moving, and not saying a word.
I survived my first battle with the Hellions and Skulls. I took some fairly nasty hits, but my 'minor' wounds were nothing compared to theirs. I headed back to City Hall where Rick Davies congratulated me and gave me some info as to where I could find a place to live.
He also gave me another contact to garner more missions.
"I know it doesn't get you back to where you come from," Rick sympathized. "But I'm sure that you'll find your way back there soon enough."
"I guess I don't have many options right now, do I?"
"Not much, but I can give you a name to keep in mind." I looked at Rick and waited for his response.
"Portal Corporation," he said with a small amount of sarcasm. "God knows that they're getting invaded on a regular basis these days. You get enough security clearance, and I'm sure they'll send you on a few missions for them."
I grinned.
What else could I do?


    TO CHAPTER 2 >



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