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Chapter One: Mystery
Black boots hit linoleum flooring. A cape rustled in the slight breeze created by air conditioning vents overhead. The slim black and gold figure standing in the doorway of the lab seemed to be very comfortable despite being completely out of place in the green-and-white environment. Her posture was relaxed and still, not even hinting at the danger she was currently in. She leaned against the wall carefully, her hands resting gently on the hilts of the twin long swords at her waist.
A man in a white
lab coat approached her very carefully. “Fan….Fan Lockhart?” he stuttered. Fear
gripped him tightly as he stood only a few feet away from one of the most
powerful heroes in
She gave a slight nod and stood up straight, not removing her hands from her swords. The researcher bowed and spoke almost inaudibly. “Thank you for coming. We are glad that you agreed to help us.”
Though the frightened scientist could not see it behind her mask, Fan narrowed her eyes in fierce scrutiny. Some Crey employees were innocent and oblivious to the inner workings of the company, but too many only pretended to be ignorant. Countess Crey had long since cleared herself of any criminal charges through bribery, and remained in power even after twenty years. As long as the company’s infrastructure was riddled with villainy, it was best to trust no one.
visibly shaking, the scientist turned and walked swiftly down the hallway. Fan
kept pace, taking in her surroundings as they strode past offices and into a
medical bay. An older scientist was waiting, and Fan recognized him immediately
as the scientist she was looking for. He was famous in
“Greetings, Fan Lockhart. I am glad you came. You see, you are making my job much easier,” the aged scientist said slowly. Fan noted that her escort had left the room as soon as she had entered. She remained silent as the scientist continued. “You see, we’re in need of a blood sample from you. Nothing too painful. Just a few vials and you’re free to go.”
“I’m not convinced.” Fan peered at him from under the rim of her hat.
“Your blood can save lives. Didn’t you have a sister that died twenty years ago? We can help prevent that from happening to anyone else.”
In an instant, Fan had her foot against his collarbone, effectively pinning him to the wall. “Don’t ever talk about my sister.” Her voice was cool and showed only a hint of malice, but it was clear that she meant business. She released him, leaving him on the floor gasping.
“Your choice. We can do this the hard way too. As long as I walk out of here with your DNA.” The scientist pulled a gun from his desk drawer, but Fan already had her swords drawn. Taking note of the small space she was in, she silently commanded her swords to transform into smaller blades. Now wielding two small daggers, Fan was able to easily maneuver into a more favorable position: standing over the scientist with one blade to his throat, the other dangerously close to the hand holding the gun.
“I wouldn’t recommend that you try anything stupid,” she whispered smoothly. “I could probably get you with a short prison sentence if you cooperate and hand over your research.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, missy,” he smiled, but Fan was too late to find the reason why. She already felt something piercing her armor and skin. Toxins made their way to her bloodstream quickly. The effect was instantaneous. Her world started spinning and she collapsed, fighting as hard as she could to stay conscious. She felt a foot slam into her abdomen. “These heroes,” the scientist spat as he glanced up at the Crey Agent who had injected her with the toxins. “They never learn. I suspect she’ll remain weak for at least an hour, but take no chances. I need that blood sample now. Then I want you to kill her. I don’t want to even think about what she’ll do when she’s angry.”
Fan felt hands grabbing her and pulling her upright. She was propped up against the wall, her head slumped onto her shoulder. What had they injected her with? As a regenerator, she was immune to every toxin she had ever come in contact with. Soon she became numb and stopped feeling the hands on her arms. She didn’t feel the needle puncture her skin. Didn’t feel the blood being drawn from her. Didn’t feel anything. The anxiety had left her. She was at peace. The lights were dimming…
Then there was shouting. A cold chill filled the room as a figure appeared from what seemed like nothing. Wisps of dark energy floated around her, causing the Crey agents that had run in to step back in fear. Her fists flew in a flash as she threw most of the agents to the floor. She looked for the scientist but he had already fled. She uttered a barely audible oath as she noticed a few drops of blood on the floor. She was already too late. The woman knelt down beside Fan, who had lost the fight and fallen asleep. She lifted Fan to her feet, held her close, and with a soft pop, they teleported out of the building.
The Rikti Mentalist at the Dusk Vanguard base was busily typing on one of the computers when a loud crash resounded in the room and broke his concentration, causing the previously floating clipboards and textbooks to crash to the floor. Sator was used to this after years of dealing with the Vanguard’s members. He looked up at the source of the crash and greeted the two heroines in broken English. “Salutations: Sanguine. Fan’s Status: Injured? Situation: Not good.”
Sanguine frowned at the Rikti. “The Crey seem to have injected her with something she’s weak to. What that is, I’m afraid to know.”
“Symptoms: Familiar. Likely cause: Quantum bio-weaponry. Treatment: Urgent.”
Sanguine nodded, having full faith in the Rikti’s wisdom. With the help of Sator, she pulled Fan into the medical bay. Thankfully, the base was fully equipped with the latest medical technology. Fan would be safe, for now.
Fan woke up a few hours later under the careful watch of the demon who had saved her. She tried to sit up in bed, but was hit by a wave of dizziness and had to lie back down. The hero stood, setting the copy of The Paragon Times she had been thumbing through on the chair. Fan judged that the woman stood about a head shorter than her. She was stronger built, her power clearly showing, unlike Fan’s slender body which gave off the appearance of weakness. She had dark hair and cool blue eyes that gave Fan a feeling of emptiness. Regardless, her expression was kind, the concern obvious.
“Hello,” Fan said weakly.
“Are you feeling better, Fan? I hope I found you in time. I am Sanguine, but you may call me Sanae. Although I feel I can trust you, further information about me is irrelevant at this time.” Sanguine glanced at a monitor near Fan’s bed. “Please excuse me. I need to tell Sator that you are awake.” She turned sharply and left the room.
She returned moments later, the Rikti Mentalist in tow. “Fan: Hello. Status: Better, I hope. Explanation: Much needed,” Sator said in his usual Rikti fashion, while at the same time observing the various monitors surrounding Fan’s bed. A clipboard lifted off of the table, as did a pen, which began writing on the clipboard as Fan spoke.
“As we thought, Crey seems to have a lot of interest in Regenerators. It seems they need their blood for something. My guess is to improve their Revenant Hero Project. But for some reason it seemed more sinister than that… At any rate, it isn’t good, and they didn’t buy the idea that I would come by willingly at all. They seemed a little too prepared for resistance, after all… What did they hit me with, anyway? I feel like I’m dying.”
“Dying: Unlikely,” Sator said quickly. Then, in a more relaxed tone, he continued. “Weaponry: Quantum Technology. Effect: Devastating. Sanguine Rescue: Just in time. You Are: Lucky. Sanguine’s Recent Death: Cause for concern. More Investigation: Needed.”
Fan thought about his words for a moment. “Quantum bio-weaponry? Why would that affect me? Also, ‘Sanguine’s recent death’?”
Sanguine crossed her arms and nodded. “My plane of existence is twenty years ago. I was sent on an Ouroburos mission to this time to track a mysterious enemy, but when I arrived, I saw my own obituary in the Times. Instead of going back and waiting for my death, I decided to find out the cause of it. You know better than most that Regenerators don’t die easily. Duran Dal found me, and brought me here. Consider me a temporary member of the Dusk Vanguard.”
Sator nodded. “Sanguine: Asset to Vanguard. Here: Much Welcome.” He looked from Sanguine to Fan. “Crey’s Knowledge: Very confusing. Thought: Will take time. Go: Sleep, Sanguine.” With that, Sator turned and left the room. As he did, the clipboard and pen followed him, and the lights dimmed. Fan smiled at Sanguine, and then turned onto her side and let sleep take her once more. It was not long before Sanguine slumped into the chair again and also fell asleep.