First Night: Part VDarkness.More Like This
James was lost on a black, stormy sea that swirled and roared around him. The raging waves of shadows seemed to be determined to suck him down into the depths of oblivion.
Thoughts and images flashed like lighting overhead. The smell of blood and cordite. The thunder of gunfire. The feel of flesh and bone being pounded beneath his fists. The rush of the wind. The feeling of speed. The image of a hand clad in a white glove smeared with blood punching numbers into a small keypad. Falling.
Time was now just an abstract concept. He had no idea how long he had been spun and tossed by the dark tide. It could have been days or mere moments. There was no way of knowing.
And then suddenly. . . .
. . . . there was a voice. Feminine and soft and so very familiar.
"Jamie! Time to wake up sleepy-head."
The voice called forth memories that calmed the dark tide. Picnics in the park. Piano lessons. Bedtime stories. Warmth and happiness. Unconditional love.
"But I'm so tired, Mom", J
Obedience: FinaleAdam gave a yelp of fear and scrambled to his feet.More Like This
A dark figure dropped to the ground from the fire-escape above and crouched on the pavement blocking the exit to the alley.
Adam took several stumbling steps backward and raised his hands in an awkward defensive pose. A corona of electrical energy enveloped his body. Tendrils of electricity arced from his limbs to spark against the metal of the dumpster and fire-escape.
The figure slowly drew itself up to its full height. It was a muscular man clad in a suit that looked similar to the one worn by the Wraith that Adam had seen earlier. Except this suit was dark blue and there was a red star within a white circle on the chest.
"No", thought Adam.
"Anyone but him."
Proud Soldier fixed Adam with a withering glare that made him feel like a deer caught in the headlights of an eighteen-wheeler.
The intimidating hero was perhaps the least well known of all the Masters. A shadowy figure who rarely stepped into the light. It was perh
Obedience: Part VAnd he had been running ever since.More Like This
Adam was bone-weary. He leaned his head back against the dumpster and took a deep breath of the fragrant night air.
He shook his head and laughed.
"Didn't dumpsters used to smell of trash", he thought to himself. "My God. What kind of a world are we living in when even the dumpsters are scrubbed clean?"
So far he had managed to stay one step ahead of Crossbow but that could not last forever. And of course now that the word was out regarding what he was, Crossbow was not his greatest problem.
Now, the Masters themselves would be aware of what he had done and it was quite possible that some of them would be involved with the search. If there was one thing that the MGA did not tolerate it was the use of meta-human powers by anyone not under their direct control. It didn't matter whether the powers were being used for good or evil.
Adam had an intimate understanding of this.
He squeezed his eyes shut and let his memory drift back to that day at his paren
Predecessor: Part III of IIIINDEPENDENCE PORTMore Like This
TWO MONTHS LATER
The bare bulbs cast grotesque shadows on the walls of the warehouse. Although not as grotesque as the plans being concocted by the three men standing around a large table examining maps and railway timetables.One of the men wore an expensive suit that did not suit his squat frame. He had a fleshy face and small eyes framed by wire-rimmed spectacles. He stabbed a finger down at one of the maps set out on the table.
"We can cause maximum harm by striking the power-plants here. Here, and here", he said in a nasal tone.
The second man had a thin, sallow face and a wispy goatee. One corner of his mouth was pulled up in what seemed to be a constant sneer. He nodded at his compatriot's words and gestured to the pile of railway timetables.
"And I've marked down here the trains that our contact in the War Department has indicated will be secretly shipping material to various military bases. I've also identified which civilian services are the most vulnerable t
Predecessor: Part II of IIIThe voices sounded like they were coming from the end of a long dark tunnel.More Like This
"Would you mind telling me which one of you geniuses decided to pick the lock on the front door instead of just ringing the doorbell".
"Aw come on, Doug. Mike wanted to check out the house before he got back just to make sure there wouldn't be any surprises. We didn't know he was home. He sure as Hell didn't come in through the front or back doors. We had them both covered".
"Ok were you asleep at the briefing? The guy uses the old sewer-service tunnels to get around and one just happens to run right under his place. He obviously has access to it which is how he comes and goes in that crazy outfit without causing a stir".
"Fine. But he didn't have to go berserk on us did he".
"He's been prosecuting and putting away the worst scum in this city for years. He gets death threats like Betty Grable gets fan-mail for crying out loud! Three guys turn up unannounced in his living room. What do you THINK his reaction is
Predecessor: Part I of IIIPARAGON CITY 1942More Like This
The roar of the motorcycle's engine echoed off the dank concrete walls of the tunnel. The light from the headlamp cut a beam of illumination through the darkness and rats fled in terror as the bike splashed through the inch of dirty water that covered the floor.
A shadowy male figure hunched over the bars of the bike.
The tunnel eventually angled upward. After perhaps a minute the passage-way terminated in a large circular chamber. The rider guided the bike unerringly up a short ramp and onto a concrete platform. A single bare light-bulb illuminated the rusty iron grill of an old elevator door in the wall.
The shadowy figure switched off the bike's rumbling engine and dismounted. The silence that engulfed the chamber after the engine's roar was deafening. Moving quietly through the darkness the bike's rider slid a heavy metal door over the entrance to the tunnel. After securing the door with a large iron bolt and sturdy padlock he walked back to the elevato
First Night: Part IVA police siren howled and echoed off the crumbling brick of the Kings Row tenements.More Like This
Smoke wafted through the sky and across the face of the full moon while a chill wind scattered litter through the streets that had once been home to Paragon's prosperous manufacturing community. Now the Row held a less than sterling reputation and its most well known residents were definitely not those you would want to meet after dark. Such as the group of young men who now rounded the corner of one of the dilapidated apartment buildings.
They hooted and yelled at the top of their voices in obvious delight. All of them wore the loose uniform and sinister skeletal masks of the feared street-gang known as the Skulls. One of the youths, a huge and hulking figure, pushed a shopping cart in which another gang-member sat, swigging from a beer bottle and cackling loudly.
Down the street, an elderly man in a battered hat and coat shuffled up the steps of another tenement. Hearing the raucous clamour, he gazed
First Night: Part IIIThe wall at the end of the room was arrayed with a series of posters featuring the patriotic hero. In one, Proud Citizen was saluting while holding an American flag in his free hand. "Buy War Bonds", the caption read. In another poster the blue-clad patriot had his fist drawn back and was looking mighty peeved. "Pucker Up Adolf!", was the title.More Like This
Several cases held newspapers that featured Paragon's patriot in the headline:
"PROUD CITIZEN BATTLES DOCKLAND GANGS!"
"CITIZEN SMASHES SPY RING"
"ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT FOILED BY
First Night: Part IIMinutes later James pushed open a set of double doors that led into another part of the sprawling mansion. The room was bathed in soft, silver moonlight from a series of skylights set into the ceiling. Shadows obscured a great many objects that occupied the room.More Like This
James hit a series of switches on the wall that activated the lights. The room was large and wide with a very high ceiling. It had once been a grand ballroom. Now it was filled with glass display cabinets of every size. On the walls hung flags, photographs, posters and framed magazine covers. Everything in the room was memorabilia from the tumultuous days of World War 2.
James walked slowly through the maze of cases and exhibits. Every now and then his fingers would reach out to touch an item or trace the line of a display case. Every item in the room told a story. Stories of courage, honour. Tragedy and loss. After a short while his feet lead him unerringly toward the part of the little museum dedicated to the costumed myster
First Night: Part IPARAGON CITY: 2004More Like This
"Follow your heart, Jamie. No matter what happens it will never lead you astray. I love you."
The words from so long ago echoed down through the memory of James Rockwell as he stood in the parlour of the family mansion and looked up at the portrait of his mother, Valerie, that hung above the fireplace.
"I love you too, Mom" whispered James as tears stung his eyes. "And I miss you so much. I wish you were here right now. I just don't know what to do."
In the fading light from the parlour windows James once again looked down at the letter that he was holding in his hand. The letter that bore the seal of the US Marine Corps Officer Selection Office. The letter that had crushed his dreams for the future with its opening words...
"We regret to advise..."
He squeezed his eyes shut. James had spent most of his twenty-one years training both his body and mind in preparation for the day that he would serve his country as Grandpa Tom had done on the battlefields of Europe so l