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War of Attrition

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Just to give a brief runthrough before I get into this, this will be the story of a man who, as a hero, is named War. His motives and such will be explained in the first issue; I wanted to say a few things first.


1. This won't exactly follow a comic book style. Being 16, comics have never really been that big in my life; I'll be focusing on a lot of emotional development and such rather than focusing on fights.


2. This may fall by the wayside as I'm working on a mod that I intend to use for a dynasty. Thus, if I finish making that mod, this may end up going ignored for long stretches. Hopefully I can conclude this before it gets to that point.


3. I won't be writing everything exactly as it happens in CBH. I might kill off characters who don't actually die in the game or bring people back who haven't resurrected, and other things like that, to make sure the story goes the way I want it to go.


With that noted, next up will be Issue #0, the backstory!


Here's a chapter guide:


Issue #0 - Backstory

Issue #1 - Getting Started

Issue #2 - Meeting Dupin

Issue #3 - Plant

Issue #4 - Apperception

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Nick Givens was a very gifted young man. By the time he was two, he was able to read, and had a bookshelf crammed with literature, each of which he had read at least twice. Having gotten his degree in journalism from Syracuse, Nick was a hot commodity going into the real world, and was able to work himself into a job writing for the Ravenholme newspaper by the time he was 25. The economy took a downturn at one point however, and with Nick living so prosperously, he offered to take in his parents and little sister when their house was foreclosed.


With Nick's family living with him, he became very close with them again after seeing them very sparingly for the few years before. It was a bit difficult for him to get used to at first, but after a little while, everyone got used to each other and life started going pretty well for Nick again. But, of course, this was Ravenholme; you could barely walk to work without dealing with a Stabby Joe or syndicates of Lisping Lou Ferrari. It was inevitable that things wouldn't go well for long, which is why Nick was working his tail off, hoping to get a job for the newspaper of Centenary City or Principal City so he could move his family out of danger. Really, he was fine with going anywhere (aside from The Wastelands, of course). Unfortunately, it didn't happen and disaster struck.


It was really a very ordinary day. The temperature was mild, the skies were cloudy, the Charlotte Bobcats were losing; there really wasn't anything special about this day. Nick went to work like he did every Wednesday, and worked on research for his next column as Wednesday normally entailed. However, the day took a turn away from the routine about an hour before Nick returned to his house.


It was almost 6:30 PM. Nick's family was eating dinner as they usually did around that time (Nick always insisted that they didn't wait for him). Peaking in from the bushes was a strange figure, one that none of them had seen before, and he was watching, waiting for a moment when he felt he could get in undetected. Nick's mother and father were getting everything ready to do the dishes, and his sister had retired to her room when this figure had seen his window of opportunity.


The figure had slipped into the house by quietly opening the unlocked sliding door in the back. He moved with incredible stealth, but was unable to go completely undetected; he had accidentally bumped into a chair, moving it slightly and alarming Nick's parents. Nick's father grabbed a bat and moved cautiously towards the darkness, when he was overtaken by a man dressed in black and thrown forcefully to the ground. The two struggled while Nick's mother hid in the corner of the kitchen, frozen with fear. She was able to come to her senses and call 9-1-1, but without having lived in Ravenholme for long, she didn't know that their police department put a very low priority on home break-ins. She called Nick as well. Their conversation went:


[b]Nick's mother:[/b] There's someone here.

[b]Nick:[/b] Mom? Excuse me?

[b]Mother:[/b] There's someone here, and he attacked your father.

[b]Nick:[/b] Oh God. What does he look like?

[b]Mother:[/b] I don't know. I'm afraid to get any closer.

[b]Nick:[/b] Alright, I'm on my way. Be careful.


[b]Nick:[/b] Hello?

[b]Mother:[/b] I think he heard me.

[b]Nick:[/b] What?

[b]Mother:[/b] I think he heard - *loud shriek*

*phone line goes dead*


And of course, Nick knew at this point that something very bad had just happened to his mother. The figure didn't kill her at that point, but he grabbed her and destroyed the phone. He then tied her up and threatened her with a stiletto. Nick's father was able to sneak in with the bat and swing at the figure, but because of a last second sudden movement the figure was hit on the shoulder. Filled with anger and pain, the figure turned his attention back to Nick's father, and was able to subdue him back to the ground, before tying him up as well. Nick's sister reluctantly and nervously creeped down the stairs to see what all the noise was, and was shocked to see her parents tied up by a strange man. She made sure not to make a noise, but in her young naivety ran up the stairs, making enough noise to tip the figure off about her presence.


Meanwhile, Nick ran out of work as fast as possible and got to his car, but hit the rush hour traffic (that was the beauty of his job; as he usually got out at 7:30, he would be leaving after said traffic had passed, but alas, not this time). Emotions began to rise in Nick; he started to feel fear, anger and sadness all brew in his stomach at the same time. Wishing death and other horrible things on the people who obstructed his way, Nick began to drive extremely aggressively in hopes of reaching his home as quickly as possible.


The figure started to rummage through the house, looking for any money, or anything else of value. He was able to rob close to $1,000, and about $3,000 worth of easily movable objects. At this point, the figure was ready to make his way out of the house. He heard a noise at the door, and figured someone was entering, so he decided it was time to end his little game; rather than leaving Nick's parents tied up in their house, the figure used his stiletto to end both of their lives.


The figure was correct in his assumption: Nick was using his keys to open the front door. After quickly slitting the throats of Nick's parents, the figure ran upstairs to attack Nick's sister. He reached the top of the stairs just before Nick entered the house, and started looking through rooms to find the person he had heard moving up the stairs moments before.


Nick entered his house and turned the lights on, and proceeded with caution. He checked the living room, and the separate dining room, with no luck of finding anything aside from traces of rummaging. Next he checked the guest room and the downstairs bathroom. On the way to the kitchen, he checked his cash stash to find that all of the money was gone, and then, with his heart racing, moved to the kitchen. Horror immediately encompassed Nick's face as he saw his parents tied up and dead on the ground.


The figure moved from room to room, checking thoroughly in search of someone, anyone. After checking a guest room, the figure moved to what appeared to be a young girl's room, and figured he had found his target. He checked under the bed, under the desk, made sure she hadn't gotten out through the window, and then walked up to the closet...


Nick was wrought with emotion after seeing his dead parents. He grabbed the bat and was ready to kill. He slowly worked his way up the stairs, and headed straight for his sisters' room as she was the only one in his family that he hadn't seen yet...


The figure opened the door to the closet and was stabbed with an untwisted metal coat hanger, which threw him back temporarily and allowed Nick's sister some space to move. She immediately ran for the door and swung it open, hoping to run out of the house. Nick was almost at the door, and in his blind rage, swung the bat without looking to see who was coming out of the room. He hit his sister right in the head, and then the weight of what he had just done overcame him. He looked down in shock at his sister, who lay unconscious at his own doing, then glanced into the room to see the figure doing the same. Nick's rage came back, and the figure knew he had to get out, so he climbed out of the window and quickly ran before Nick could see which direction he had ran.


Nick took a minute to let what had just happened sink in, and then he realized he had a child on his hands who was unconscious due to an impact to the head. He took his sister into his car and drove her to the hospital, and stayed overnight. But, it was to no avail; she was pronounced dead the next day.


At this point, Nick was an emotional wreck. He felt responsible for not only his sisters' death, but the death of his parents as well. A nurse at the hospital recommended he see a therapist, who quickly determined that his psyche was shredded to the point where he needed mental rehabilitation. He was placed into a mental hospital and stayed for about a year, when he was released because he had shown considerable progress. In all actuality, he was just very good at disguising his depression and his anger. Nick was let out, and the first thing he did was find his friend Hank, an illegal arms dealer.


Nick put almost all of his money towards guns and ammunition. He practiced frequently at a shooting range or in the woods. He also sold his house and moved into a considerably smaller place, and was given his old job back. But of course, at this point, his job fell second fiddle to his new line of work: fighting crime under the pseudonym War. But is his heart really set on fighting crime, or is he looking to avenge the death of his family?


Sorry about the vanilla look of this entry. Since the rest of the posts will be about the progression of the story, they'll be dressed up with photos and such.

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Ever since I got back to work, people have been looking at me funny. Treating me like I'm some sort of head case who's bound to snap at any moment and go off the deep end. Sure, I may not be completely sane, but that doesn't give them the right to treat me like I'm less than them. It bugs the crap out of me that I can't walk into a room at work without people looking at me and whispering, as if they think I don't know I'm talking about them or something. Glad to know they think I'm dumb.


The only person at work I can take any comfort in is Janet. She's 28, and started working here about 2 months before everything happened. While everyone else treated me like some sort of psycho, she was the only one who actually talked to me as if I was a human being, and to be honest, it felt kind of good to be able to talk to someone who didn't see me as below them.


One night, I just felt like I needed to get out. I was feeling more angry than usual, and just really wanted to beat the pulp out of someone. I decided to become War, the red masked crusader, to prevent crime and reach corners that the Ravenholme police force wouldn't dare go, but at the same time I couldn't help but think about my family. I knew I had pretty much no chance of finding who it was that attacked them, but I still wanted vengeance. And, unfortunately for whoever would turn up, I was prepared to take it out on the first bad guy that crossed my line of sight.


I looked around the streets for evildoers for a couple of days, but found nothing, which really surprised me considering it's Ravenholme. I decided at that point that the only way to help myself out would be to make some friends. I looked around, and was able to find a young man dressed in red. I approached him in hopes of starting a friendship.




[b]Me:[/b] Hey, how's it going?

[b]Red guy:[/b] Good, and yourself?

[b]Me:[/b] Good, thanks. Are you out looking for crime?

[b]Red guy:[/b] *cautiously reaches for gun* Yeah. Why?

[b]Me:[/b] Oh, you think I'm a bad guy? *laughs* If I were, I'd be one of the dumbest ones around, to go straight to you. The name's Ni - errm - War. What's yours?

[b]Red guy:[/b] Red Mystery. So what then, you're out looking for crime too?

[b]Me:[/b] Yep. This freaking place is just way too dangerous. We need another person on the streets here helping out.

[b]Red Mystery:[/b] Well, you don't exactly look like a hero. Maybe you should change your costume around a bit to look a bit less imposing. *looks down* Anyway, I have to be somewhere. I'll catch you around, War.

*Red Mystery leaves*


I have no clue why, but every time I try to upload this and another picture for later on in the issue, every uploader I try to use crashes (including trying to attach them to here). So, here was supposed to go a picture of Red Mystery.


Red Mystery left, and I went back home. Frustrated with the lack of progress, I went crazy and tore a table apart with an axe. I needed some firewood, sure, but I still don’t know why I had to destroy that poor table. Oh well, at least it felt good to release the negative energy through brute force.


Anyway, the next day Red Mystery and I decided we would patrol together. We had both heard that crime was heating up in the streets of Ravenholme, but it was late at night when I had heard a shady looking figure in an alleyway talk about what “Joe was going to do in a couple of weeks”. I hung around and waited for his conversational partner to pass before I swooped in and grabbed the shady guy, pinning him against the wall. “Tell me everything you know about what this Joe is going to do or I’ll kill you!” I said. I didn’t really intend on killing him, but after showing him one of my guns he told me everything. Apparently, Stabby Joe was plotting something 16 days from now, but that’s all he knew. I let him go and retired back to my house.


I met up with Red Mystery the next couple of days to make sure we had everything well planned out to stop Stabby Joe. Of course, we knew it was going to be easy, but we still wanted to be safe. But Red seemed to be a bit suspicious after a couple of our meetings, so I took a day off from being War (anyway, I was behind on a deadline so I was able to get that done).


At this point, it was 12 days before the apparent move by Stabby Joe. Red Mystery and I decided to take to the streets to see if we could get more word on the upcoming move when we saw two thugs in the Little London section of Ravenholme busting cars in the streets. We quickly came upon them and saw they were the Chelsea Crew.


And here was supposed to go a picture of the Chelsea Crew.


[b]Me:[/b] Hey, stop right there!

[b]Thug 1:[/b] Oh, bloody hell! I really didn’t want to have to fight anyone today.

[b]Me:[/b] You guys picked the wrong side to be on. Now, we’re gonna kick your asses!


One of the Chelsea Crew came at me with a baseball bat, but I was able to sidestep them. Red Mystery threw a taunt their way, and I grappled with one of them, taking them down. Red Mystery shot darts at them, which looked like it hurt them plenty, and I back-kicked one of them in the face. They came at me with their bat again, and this time I couldn’t get out of the way, but thanks to my specially crafted lightweight armor I didn’t feel as much pain as I could have. I tried to grapple and take one of them down, but he threw me off of him. It looked as if Red Mystery was about to finish them off with his darts, but civilians wandered past and he had to freeze his attack. They taunted me so I back-kicked one of them in the chest, and they both looked visibly beaten up. They tried to get me with a crowbar, but I dodged, and Red Mystery finished them off with his Electrical Gauntlet.


While Red Mystery made sure to attend to the people around and make sure everyone was safe, it was my job to subdue the Chelsea Crew. One of them was getting particularly feisty, so I pulled my gun on him. He kept yelling “Do it! Do it!” and I wanted to, I really did. But, I just couldn’t. I put my gun back into its holster, and that’s when he yelled “Heh, no wonder you couldn’t even save your family.” That immediately caused me to rage as I pulled my gun on him again and threatened to off him if he didn’t tell me everything he knew about it. He refused, so I pistol whipped him in the face and he obliged. He told me that somehow most of the villains knew that my whole family was killed, and that I had become War. He said that I was a joke to the villain community and that Lisping Lou Ferrari jokingly put a $1 bounty on my head. Those emotions, of fear, anger, sadness, they all came roaring back.


The thug talked about my family again and I put the gun right against his temple, ready to put an end to his miserable life. But, in the end, I just couldn’t; he quickly reached for his crowbar and threw it at me, subduing me temporarily and giving himself enough time to escape with his syndicate. At that point, of course, I didn’t care that he had escaped. I didn’t care about the people around, I didn’t care that the villains somehow all knew my identity, and I certainly didn’t care about the upcoming plot of Stabby Joe; all I cared about was finding who had killed my family and getting my revenge.

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The night of the encounter with the Chelsea Crew, I had trouble sleeping. As much as I tried to ignore what I had just learned, the memories wouldn't stop coming back into my mind. I knew that I needed to get over it, but at the same time, I knew that I wouldn't be able to. I stayed up all night, trying to come up with who could possibly have known. I hadn't ever noticed anything fishy around me, and I knew that lingering on it wouldn't get me anywhere. So, after a solid night of logical thinking, I decided to move on and put my focus back on cleaning up the streets of Ravenholme.


I took the next couple of days off to recuperate from the slight damage I took in the fight against the Chelsea Crew, and to make sure I had my article done. Since I started working as War, I'd been slacking a bit in my day job, so the couple of days were good to have. I received word from Red Mystery one day that there was a planned robbery set to go down in about a week, only a couple days before the whole Stabby Joe thing was going to happen. How I was to deal with this and that in the frame of a couple of days, all while balancing my day job and living in a world that was starting to become shaded in nothing more than blue and dark red, I didn't know, but I had to make it all work.


One day I was at work, trying to make sure I didn’t show the pain I felt in my shoulder, when something changed. I was still preoccupied, sure, but I found I was able to work much better that day than most. My mind felt clear and the ideas I had flowed seamlessly from my fingertips to the computer screen. I had finished my work for the day about two hours earlier than usual, so I was able to hang around for a little while, and I had the first really fulfilling conversation I had had in a long time. And, of course, it was with Janet.


[b]Janet:[/b] I usually don’t see you so early. Finished early today?

[b]Me:[/b] Yeah, I guess I was just really feeling it today. How about you?

[b]Janet:[/b] *looks at her computer screen* I’m a couple days behind. Keeping up on criminal activity isn’t exactly easy here.

[b]Me:[/b] Yeah. *reaches for a cup of water and winces in pain*

[b]Janet:[/b] Hey, are you okay?

[b]Me:[/b] Yeah, I just, I hurt my shoulder doing some work a few days ago. It’s no big deal.

[b]Janet:[/b] Look, I know how these idiots have been acting around you, but if you ever need to talk, I mean really talk, you know I’m here for you, right?

[b]Me:[/b] Thanks Janet.


And that was that. Knowing that there was someone who cared rather than acting like I was a basket case, well, it made me feel pretty good. I didn’t really feel the need to talk, but it still felt nice to know that someone felt compassion for me. I felt pretty good for the next few days, and hadn’t even thought about my revenge for a little while.


But as the days went by, I just couldn't shake it. I started sleeping late, showing up to work looking unkempt, and I even smoked for the first time in almost 5 years. This was messing with my daily routine, and I knew I had to make something happen. So, I took to the streets to find one of Ravenholme's finest, a great man who looked like he could help someone in my situation.




[b]Me:[/b] Hey, Detective Dupin, right?

[b]Dupin:[/b] Yes sir. And who are you?

[b]Me:[/b] I go by War. I need your help, Dupin. *offers cigarette*

[b]Dupin:[/b] *lights cigarette* Hmm... War, right? So that would make you... Nick Givens, and I'm guessing you're wondering how all the bad guys know all of your business. That correct?

[b]Me:[/b] How the hell does everyone know who I am? Look, I'm going crazy over this. I thought I was over it, but I guess I'm not. I really need your help to find out who it is that's letting out all of this information about me.

[b]Dupin:[/b] Alright, alright. I'll help you out. But you know it'll cost you, right?

[b]Me:[/b] I'll keep in touch. But you're not seeing a cent until I see some results.


I left, intent on getting home to finish up some rudimentary work on an article I was working on, but as I was walking back, I kept feeling a presence lurking, watching my every move. I starting taking random turns but I always felt like I was being tailed. I finally went to check it out and assess the situation when I was knocked back by a pulse of energy.




I got up, but he quickly attacked me with another pulse of energy that seemed to come right from his mind. It took me a couple seconds to come to my senses, but I was able to get my focus back on the situation at hand. I knew my shotgun bullets were limited, but because he could throw me off so hard with his mind pulses, I knew I needed to end this as quickly as possible. I went to reach for my shotgun but I just couldn't find it. He had me so confused for a short time, and by the time I had come back to my senses, he had shot off two more mental pulses that sent me back into confusion. I was finally able to get to my shotgun and attack Psychophant, but the bullets didn't hit in a vital spot, although he was obviously affected by my attack.


He threw a taunt my way and then attacked me with his mental pulse, but I was able to regain my composure to let off an attack before he could send out another one. I fired off more rounds from my shotgun, but he used his telekinetic powers to move a car door in the way to protect himself. He shot another mental pulse but I was finally able to avoid one, and took advantage of my better positioning by putting two shotgun shells in his leg. He got me with a couple of mental pulses while on the ground, but I was able to defeat him with a nice back kick. And somehow, with a leg that was bleeding profusely, he was able to escape before I could turn him over to the cops.


But all that mattered to me at that point was healing up. I was feeling some pretty intense pain after that skirmish. But then I came to wonder why one of Narco's henchmen was coming after me. I mean seriously, why would Narco need to worry about me? I was a new hero who wasn't at all involved in the drug industry, nor was I in the police force. I had never written about it in my job for the Ravenholme newspaper. I wondered about this all as I took a few days to rest up before the apparent robbery.


I met up with Red Mystery the day of the supposed crime, having not seen him or even contacted him for over a week. He was surprised to see me in commission after hearing that Psychophant had done quite a number on me, but I made sure to let him know who won the fight. I insisted that I was ready for the dangers that lay ahead, and we went to the scene where the crime was to happen.

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We had arrived at the scene of the crime and saw that a bank was being cased for money. From what we could determine, there were three evildoers trying to make away with the city's money, and being outnumbered worried us a bit. Red Mystery and I worked on a strategy to help us calm down a bit, but we couldn't really come up with anything and were both feeling slightly apprehensive because of it. So, we had just decided that we were going to charge in. As we were about to go inside, we heard a voice call out to us. "Hey," the voice said. "Are you wimps going in too?" We turned around and were glad to see that the numbers had evened out.




City Sweeper joined our team as we readied our entrance. We burst in to find that our fear was really not necessary. We were going up against Tony Omerta, Mannequin and the Avenue P Militia. Tony immediately started things off by firing at me, and one bullet caught my arm. Mannequin shot at me as well with a revolver, but I was able to move out of the way. While I took all of the heat, Red Mystery made sure to clear the area out of civilians, because let's face it, these baddies aren't exactly the smartest in Ravenholme. Red Mystery then shot Mannequin with his darts, causing visible pain in her. The Militia charged at me, but I was able to fend off all of their attack attempts, and City Sweeper threw a painful looking headbutt at Mannequin.


Finally I saw an opportunity to attack, and my first course of action was going to be getting payback on Omerta. I put a bullet from my handgun in his foot. He winced in pain, then took a dart to the chest from Red Mystery. Mannequin shot at me with her revolver again as Omerta rolled around in pain, but this time I couldn't avoid it and she put one right in my thigh. I felt excruciating pain, but was able to dodge Omerta's gunshots as he was also down on the ground in pain, and thus his aim wasn't the best. City Sweeper saw an open opportunity while Omerta was reloading and put two shots into his side with a rifle, rendering Omerta unconscious.


In my anger for Mannequin, I fired at her with my precious, limited shotgun shells, and clipped her side. The Militia ganged up on City Sweeper, but didn't do any significant damage. Mannequin seemed content with going one on one against me, firing at me with her revolver. Of course, in my state, I couldn't dodge and took another in the leg. City Sweeper shot a fire bomb a Mannequin, and that was that. All that was left was the Militia, with the team looking in good shape (aside from myself, of course). I fired at the Militia with my handgun and took one of them out, while Red Mystery karate chopped another one, rendering him unconscious. The last one charged at me with some punches and landed them, but I mowed him down with my handgun. Tony Omerta and the entire Avenue P Militia were arrested, but Mannequin got away.


We won, sure, but I wasn't in anywhere near the best condition. I had taken a few gunshot wounds, and while I wasn't exactly worried about fighting Stabby Joe, anything could happen if I was feeling pain. Still, ignoring Stabby Joe's movement and taking time to recuperate was not an option for me. I trudged my way back home and prepared to rest for the next two days before fighting Stabby Joe.


Luckily for me, I hadn't used many of my sick and vacation days for my job from the years before. Luckier still is that I have such a lenient boss, who allowed me to keep all of my days off even as I was in rehab. So I took the next couple of days off of work, to heal my couple of wounds, and worked on my article at home. Then, the day before I was to stop Stabby Joe, I received an unnerving piece of news: Red Mystery had decided to go and fight someone else, leaving me to think that I would have to go into the Stabby Joe ordeal all alone. And of course, my suspicions were correct. I had felt betrayed and angry, but I let it go and focused on the task at hand.


I guess that I shouldn't have been surprised to see that Stabby Joe wasn't alone, but I was still hoping he would be. I went into the fight psyching myself up by knowing that in a one on one, Stabby Joe didn't stand any sort of chance against my marksman abilities. So, when the fight became one on three, I was a bit more worried. But, then, help swooped in out of nowhere, and I felt much more secure about my chances.


http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s195/Dami22/User15.jpg http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s195/Dami22/ScarletGuardian.png




http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s195/Dami22/StabbyJoe.png http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s195/Dami22/TheDemolishers.png


I wasn't feeling 100%, and I was still walking with a bit of a limp, but I still felt confident with Scarlet Guardian on my side. The Demolishers threw a taunt my way, and I was annoyed enough to focus my first attack on them. I fired on them with my handgun and forced them back a bit. Stabby Joe was able to nick Scarlet Guardian with his knife, so Scarlet got him back with a hambo staff to the face, making his nose bleed. "That enough for you, thug?" Scarlet taunted. The Demolishers came at Scarlet with a bat and then Stabby Joe got him with the knife again, and I was worried as he looked like he was in serious pain.


I fired on Stabby Joe with my shotgun, and got him right in the stomach, knocking him out of the equation. Scarlet attacked the thug I had shot earlier with his hambo staff, aiming for the gunshot wound and taking him out of the fight as well. I fired on the remaining Demolisher with my handgun and got him, but only swiped him. He attacked Scarlet with a lead pipe, and it looked like Scarlet was near done for. I shot the Demolisher again with my handgun, in the shoulder, and it took him down. Scarlet ran at him with his hambo staff and whacked him in the face, rendering him unconscious. The Demolishers were apprehended, but Stabby Joe got away. As we were dealing with police, Scarlet collapsed and started coughing blood, and he was rushed to the hospital. I really appreciated what he did though; he fought bravely.




As the fight had taken place, a strange man had entered Nick's house. He had looked around, found his training equipment, listened to his phone messages and then hid something within the house. The man then left in the same candid manner in which he had entered, leaving the house almost exactly as it had been before his arrival. Nick arrived home, not noticing any difference.

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I returned home, amazed at how well things had gone. Sure, Scarlet took a beating, and I was concerned for him, but I came out of it completely unscathed, and I felt pretty good. Good enough to go back to work. I made myself some food, read an article that I had seen earlier and didn't have time to do more than peruse at the time, and then finished my day off with some target practice. I could never bring myself to shoot at the head of even the practice dummies; the thought of killing a human was just too much for me. So, I stuck to my body shots, and got pretty good at it. Hell, I could hit a dummy right in the exact center of the stomach 5 times out of 5. But I still haven't been able to bring myself to use that on a human.


The next day, I got to work a little earlier than usual, feeling inordinately good about everything around me. The world stopped looking red and blue to me and came back to its regular, vibrant shades that I had so direly missed seeing. The world returned to the ordinary to me, if only for a few hours, but after not seeing it for it's wonderful, luscious fervor for so long, it seemed truly extraordinary to my tortured eyes. I was skippier than a 5 year old on a 5 hour energy all day, printing things out for people, getting them coffee, making conversation with the assholes that I normally never associated myself with. I think I had gotten less work done that day than I normally did in a half hour, but who cares, because it felt good.


And of course, in my childish spout of energy, I even asked Janet out. Sure, she was the nice girl (who didn't treat me like a lunatic!) who's desk was a stone's throw away, and she was pretty sexy too, but I hadn't really considered a relationship until I blurted the words out. Oh well, she said yes, and I had a hot date for Friday night! I got a whole lot more excited than I really should have, but hey, no one was going to stop me after I pretty much emoted enough for a full three months by the time lunch rolled around.


But of course, I'm me. I'm Nick Givens, the guy who apparently gets only one strike before he's out. I wasn't allowed to be happy, because that would mean that I would be able to develop a stable, healthy psyche again. No, I'd been sentenced to a lifelong heaping of torment followed by despair and if that wasn't enough, some affliction to top it all off. An hour or so after I had arrived home, I received a knock on the door. I opened it to find Dupin, and he didn't look like he had good news. I invited him inside, but really only because he looked like he had the kind of news that you tell someone to sit down for.




[b]Me:[/b] *nervously* So... what's going on?

[b]Dupin:[/b] Not a whole lot of good. I've had my associates keep their eye on you Nick, and we're convinced that you have a tail. Now, this isn't exactly a low level ninja we're talking here; this guy is serious business. We've only ever been able to see him twice in the last two weeks following you, and even then, only for a moment.

[b]Me:[/b] Umm... alright. So am I gonna have to go under protection now or something?

[b]Dupin:[/b] Well, that he's followed you around for the last two weeks and hasn't acted on you is both good and bad. The good is that he doesn't want you dead yet, so your life doesn't look to be in much danger, but at the same time, the longer he plays cat and mouse, the stronger of a chance there is that others get hurt.

[b]Me:[/b] So then what are we going to do?

[b]Dupin:[/b] I'm afraid there isn't much we can do. This guy has already attacked one of our associates, who seemed to get a little careless in his watching of you. He acted, and next thing we knew, our guy's in a coma. So he doesn't want you dead yet, but he also doesn't want to risk anything at all being seen.

[b]Me:[/b] Well, is there anything that I can do, to help with the cause or something?

[b]Dupin:[/b] Yes, that's why I'm here. I need you to tell me more about why you felt like you were in danger in the first place. I know you said that a strange figure in black broke into your house, and our accounts of seeing your tail could possibly lead us to the same guy. So, I need you to tell me everything Nick.


And I remembered. For the first time in a very, very long time, I allowed the memories to stroll back into my thought process. And boy, was it torture; it had seemed that the only way to get past it was to completely ignore and suppress it, and being forced to recollect it proved my theory to be true. I told Dupin about what the figure did to my parents, to my house, to my life. But when I got to my sister, I just froze. I just couldn't say the words anymore. I broke down in tears, not because of the fact that my sister was dead, but because she was dead because of me. I knew it, and that figure probably knew it, and it tore me up. I took a second to regroup, and then I told Dupin that the figure took the bat from me, knocked my unconscious, and then when I woke up I found my sister dead.


I knew it wasn't true. It was just a fabrication that I made, perhaps to make myself feel better, perhaps to make sure Dupin didn't think I was a terrible person, I don't know. But Dupin could see that I was shook by my memories. He thanked me for telling him, gave an awkward attempt at consoling me, and then saw himself out.


And I let that small thread that was holding my two sides together rip apart. I completely broke down, crying my eyes out, punching holes in the wall. A year of therapy and rehabilitation, undone in one 10 minute recollection of suppressed memories that I had hoped would never have to come back. I looked at my house, all of the disgusting colors thrown about sloppily. I closed my eyes, and opened them, and the shades of red came back. I I grabbed my handgun and shot the head of every training dummy clean off. Then I threw on my mask and grabbed my weapons, and walked out the front door.

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