Clad in heavy combat gear Aiden takes a moment to do a quick weapons check. He takes out the long clip on his AK-12 assault rifle, making sure it loads properly. He stands on the rooftop of a frail four-story building. He vows that this time he will complete this mission in less than five minutes.
The mission instructions are to enter the building from the roof and then clear each room by eliminating any enemy targets. He must repeat this process on each floor within five minutes.
Aiden must first repel down to the top floor, which is the first and hardest part of this mission. as he begins. He steps backward over the edge, the rope pulling tight as his body goes horizontal. He makes sure his knees are slightly bent as he taps along the wall making the descent.
His destination is a large open window a couple of feet below. Quickening his pace he kicks off the wall while lowering himself just enough that he swings inside the window. He lands with a thud, rolling forward into a crouching position. Aiden pulls his rifle forward, un-holstering the weapon searching for a target. Three enemy boards spring up from different corners of the room. Aiden accurately fires two of the enemy targets, leaving the third victim target unscathed.
Aiden repeats this process in the two remaining rooms on this floor before going to the lower level. The young man hustles down the hall, checking each corner and potential attack point. His form is expert, due to his instruction and weeks of relentless practice. Even though the sub automatic rifle is loaded with rubber bullets, it still effectively delivers kill shots to each target.
Aiden steps down the last flight of stairs into the buildings first floor. Ahead of him, he can see Ratchet floating in the doorway marking the finish line. All he has to do is exit and the mission is complete. He nearly breaks into a run as something falls down on him. He ducks out of the way at the last possible instant, tumbling into a roll. He spins to his feet a split second before his instructor launches a surprise attack.
The woman coldly swings a long curved sword at her ‘protege in training’. Aiden back steps then ducks, trying to fire his gun. The rifle sparks as the nozzle is sliced off, rendering it useless. Aiden discards the gun switching to ‘hand to hand’ combat.
He hops over a low slice but his body armor and gear make his moves too slow to defend the next flurry. He receives three punches that blur his vision.
"Not…fair…I was almost…" He grunts as his legs are swept from under him.
His body slams backward on the floor, knocking the wind from him. The next instant he is forced to move, rolling to avoid the tip of her blade. The sword strikes the ground where Aiden was an instant earlier sending chunks of concrete everywhere.
"Do not complain. Adjust. There is no such thing as fair in the ‘field’." KS flatly says giving Aiden a chance to stand.
"Times up." The data-mech cheerfully says, making Aiden curse in anger.
He tosses off his gear, slamming his belt on the ground. He huffs feeling cheated out of his victory.
"Better luck next time." His instructor coldly says walking away. This is the way things have gone on since Aiden’s started his training.
Sitting underneath Gresham-Belmont’s DC branch is an area that is not registered on the buildings blueprints. The popular Senator Lennox commissioned a discrete sub-basement area for his Special Ops Unit, Venom. This sub-level is a twenty-meter wide hanger, housing the Unit’s vehicles and armory. It was KS’s idea to add a small makeshift building for training. The four-story building is an ideal training ground for the unit to keep their urban warfare skills sharp. And it has been a crucial part for Aiden’s training.
The young man has been transformed. KS is pleased not only by his progress but his eagerness to learn and to follow instructions. Even though she feels that she has chosen wisely, she knows it is still too early to tell if the lad will be a worthy Hero.
She thinks back to her early years under Slayer’s tutelage.
"I know you think I am being hard on you, even sadistic at times. But it is necessary. Our work is extremely dangerous; we cannot afford to be weak. In time you will appreciate this training…that’s if you live long enough."
Normally the duo begins there mornings with light exercise, followed by intense weapons training. Aiden has not only learned about most firearms but he now knows how to use them. His marksmanship has steadily progressed, along with his knowledge of combat gear and equipment.
Martial combat is in the afternoon and this is KS’s favorite time of the day. She derives pleasure in repeatedly tossing Aiden around, strictly and aggressively correcting his fighting stance. Whether it is on punching bags, training dummies or a long thick piece of wood Aiden practices his strikes, often until his knuckles bleed.
"Blocking/parrying is not a substitute for your footwork, it is a compliment." She says twirling her blade. A moment later KS proves her point by breaking through his defense.
On this afternoon the duo are engaged in a lively sword fight. The young man huffs as he try’s and fails to strike his teacher. The two aggressively spar, their bare feet atop a thin rubber mat. Their blades repeatedly clash with a loud clang in-between her scolding words if and when his form falters.
In one move she blocks his wide arching attack, sending his blade harmlessly down while hers angles upward. The tip of her sword zeroes in for the kill but she stops it at the base of his neck, ending the duel. He huffs holding his position as beads of sweat drip from his brow.
"I know…I know…keep my sword centered at my opponent so that one can easily parry." He says, verbally correcting himself before she can get the chance.
You read my mind. She replies lowering her blade. They’re fighting stances rest bringing the exercise to a close.
Nighttime gives the duo an opportunity to venture from the buildings lower levels. The pair rides the elevator up to Gresham-Belmont’s roof, seeing a nightscape view. In the distance Aiden notices the Washington Monument, still brightly illuminated even at night. KS often points the landmark, saying it ‘reminds them of what they are fighting for’.
On the roof the duo step to a lower outcropping near the west end of the building. His instructor sits crossed legged on the ground, taking a moment to relax. This time of the day gives Aiden a chance to learn more about his mysterious teacher. He often pesters her with questions. And for the most part she is forth coming with answers.
She has told him of many tales of battles and near death adventures. At times he can tell KS exaggerates the details but he is excited to follow in her footsteps nonetheless. He not only looks up to Billy but is also grateful to her for saving him from his past.
Six weeks ago he lived in danger, knowing he would end up in prison as a petty criminal. Back then he was weak, weak to do something about his life.
Now he feels strong.
For many years he wanted to do more, to do something with his life that will make a difference. Days ago he decided the old Aiden is gone. The life of a Hero is his new path.
He has learned about each of the heroic members of the group of vigilantes known as The Patriots. He now knows their names; Kronos, Ms. Colossal, Draekon, Tidal Wave. These people are the Heroes he aspires to be.
"Based on your improvements, I think you are ready for the next level."
"Juiced up combatants?" He asks with glee.
"I hope you keep that enthusiasm, you will need it." She responds, confirming his thoughts.
Aiden leans back, his body tingling with nervous anticipation. His excitement fills the night air. He is ready for the next part. To be able to battle with people that demolish a building is one of the reasons he signed up for.
KS smiles remembering that feeling, the notion of challenging yourself. That feeling pushes her every time she runs into the night, chasing ‘evil doers’.
That feeling seems to have been passed on to her protege.
This is the new crime fighting duo.