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Heroes World - Chapter 14

The return of American X.
A cold rain begins to drizzle over the West Athens-port docking yard on this frosty evening. On most nights the docks are calm and quiet, but tonight the peace is disturbed as a meeting takes place. Two groups meet in-between the multi-colored rows of freight containers. A weapons deal is being conducted between the Zhu-Oni triads and the Fallen Saints bikers.

The two groups of criminals exchange illegal merchandise for cash. However, the thugs are unaware that they are being watched. Two predator like heroes stalk the criminals from above, like hungry beast.

The two people clad in dark armor descend from a freight crane making a thrashing entrance, interrupting the meet starting a battle. The shadowy figures lash out at the thugs as they fire their weapons wildly. The men are in a confused panic, scrambling to escape. Some try to make a stand and fight, but it's an one-sided battle. One man is thrown against a crate, another's leg collapses from a bone-crushing blow.

One after another they are defeated, the whole altercation only lasting minutes. When the police arrive, the armored figures vanish, leaving a path of unconscious bodies in their wake.

This scene is not unique, the same has happened often in the recent months. The triads and bikers are just one of many. They are oblivious that they are now prey, helpless victims. Unknown to them, there is a war going on, a war against evil.

The Heroic duo Slayer and K.S. strikes again.

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"That never gets old." K.S. says taking off her helmet, basking in their victorious battle. On board their custom sky-jet, the heroes enter and discard their gear. Slayer smiles coyly as he checks a terminal, eager to see the local police's progress. He and his partner have toppled another group of criminals and from a legal standpoint he will make sure they stay behind bars.

A proud sense of accomplishment washes over the senator.

His armor hisses as his data mech floats around, disassembling his suit. Triumph Division Indus. has an impressive weapons division and thanks to the senator, their tech is being contracted to the U.S. military. His working relationship secretly gives him access to the latest tech. The duo now owns a small weapons armada for their war on crime.

Slayers armor is a full body, mechanized-heavy combat prototype with special modifications, giving him flight and a shoulder mounted concussion rifle among many other toys.

K.S. battle gear is more fitted for stealth, equipped with active camouflage, allowing her to be virtually invisible.

"It's like they want to get caught. I think that is... one hundred and eight." Billy says, referring to their growing toll of apprehended outlaws.

The heroic politician and his partner live an intense double life. On the political side, he has a busy schedule, locked in meeting after meeting over the nation's policies. However, every couple of days, he and Billy dawn their armor and fight crime.

"Let's keep it going, while the night is still young." Lennox says as he pulls up the files on their next target.

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In the small Singers coffee shop, the afternoon rush thins out to only a few patrons. The cozy shop is a popular spot for the more laid back customer, fitting into the relaxed decor. An 'out of place' but well-suited Billy Costigan enters the shop looking for a friend. She was able to have the afternoon off since the Senator did the same. Billy makes her way to the rear and spots her friend.

"Well, look at you, all grown up and formal." The heroine Jessica D says with a sarcastic grin.

Even though it's been awhile since the two have met, they have stayed in contact. Jessica smiles approvingly at the young Billy, being awe-struck at her transformation. She is still surprised that Billy has traded in her mask for a job with politics.

"Yeah, I know I look good." Billy responds with a smile while the two catch up.

Billy has lead Jessica to believe that she only works for the Senator as his security and assistant, but she has intentionally left out their crime-fighting work. Inside, Billy is dying to tell her, even want to ask her to join.

"Maybe I should tell her." Billy thinks feeling slightly bad that Jessica doesn't know that Avery is alive.

Even though he is married now and a father, she has always felt conflicted if she should tell her.

"...I still can't believe you work for that Senator. Guys like him are the reason we lost the golden age of Heroes." Jessica jokes making Billy give a nervous laugh.
"He's not that bad and this way I can keep a close eye on him."

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The conversation continues for almost an hour.

Billy relates her days of traveling to the white house and United Nations building and the other exciting events she has experienced alongside the Senator. Jessica can tell she is a glow, no longer the quiet teenager that she used to be. Billy is now mature, feeling fulfilled, and confident in her new life. She eases back in the chair as Jessica talks, complaining about the Patriots.

Billy only smiles, knowing that her and Lennox's methods are better. Their vigilante work accompanied with the political backing provides the best results. While Jessica and the Patriots wait for work, Billy and Lennox keep the criminals they capture behind bars for good. Billy has had her doubts about the way she and Lennox operate and if it is for the best. However, that is in the past, now she knows that they are right.

Billy looks at Jessica with a hint of sadness, remembering when she was younger and how she looked up to Jessica, how she respected her. Billy wanted to be just like her, but now feels that Jessica and the patriots are inferior. Jessica is stuck in the past, a past where the hero is purely reactive, always responding to a threat and never preventing it from happening. Now she knows Avery was right.

We must become whatever we need to, to battle evil. Get comfortable with living multiple lives; a doctor, cook, technician, troubled teenager, prostitute, politician, hero, villain, leader. Be whatever it is, you need to be to win, because this is a battle we cannot afford to lose.

Soon the reunion ends, and the two must go their separate ways. They embrace and make promises to stay in contact. They part, each wanting to say more but knowing certain things are better off left unsaid.

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Children of all ages enjoy stuffed animals. Whether it is a bear, tiger, or bunny, the inanimate toys cuddly features bring out warm imaginative dreams in a child. The 'Build-a-Pet' store is peppered with kids, full of joy as their parents help them to pick out a custom toy. Fur type, color and clothes are some of the many options available to the young patrons. Nicole Lennox has finally decided to get a small giraffe that she wants draped in a heroic mask and cape. Her mother Natalie playfully complies and has the toy outfitted.

The two have been enjoying themselves at the Palisades-Galleria shopping mall. The mom and daughter soon exit the store ready to go home. Nicole holds her masked giraffe and spots a large carousel near the food court wanting to ride. The mom can't resist and leads the way.

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The Palisades-Galleria shopping mall has three levels of department stores with everything a person needs when they want to spend their hard-earned money. However, among the throng of customers walking from store to store is a familiar flock of ravens. The feathery carnivores callously perch on the innocent consumers, tearing at their skin. The birds swarm throughout the mall but only one person sees them.

American X struts down the walkways among the other shoppers. Wearing a cheap mismatched suit, he is clean-shaven and walking without a care in the world, almost appearing like a normal person. He giggles watching the birds that only he can see, then stops to admire the people around him.

He is here today to draw out a hero to capture him, wanting to battle with his eternal enemy.

Tubbs followers have not only facilitated his escape from prison but also helped setting up this event that will take place. The masked heroes are very hard to find, but easy to manipulate. Years ago, Tubb would only have to kill a couple dozen people and heroes like Slayer would come running. This time he hopes the armored girl from Texas will find him so he can get his revenge.

The birds soon jolt him from his daydreams, urging him to proceed. Tubb walks towards the food court and near a large carousel. He pauses enjoying the soft carnival like music. It softens his mood; he waves to an older woman that catches his glimpse. The lady doesn't have the slightest inclination at the horror that this man is about to unleash.

Tubb rolls up the sleeves on his coat as his nails slowly extend. He takes in a deep breath grabbing the old woman paralyzing her with his eye. He calmly slices along her neck, and then her body falls. A man walking by on his phone begins to gasp when he sees the dying woman, but he is also paralyzed when he spots Tubb.

American X rips through three more people before the panic sets in. People begin to scream and run wild as Tubb massacres anyone in his sight. The body count starts to rise and when the security arrives Tubb is hunched over a young man. The guards scream, ordering him to stop. He pauses and all is still in the mall. Four guards slowly approach with their guns aimed, each of them scared and desperate to gain control.

Tubb pulls his bloody hands from one of his victim's neck, ready to strike down the guards. Then one of the birds catches his attention, it caws and squawks at someone huddled underneath a table. The bird focuses on a woman holding a little girl, both of them shivering in fear. The bird picks at a small toy, a stuffed giraffe that has a mask on its face. Tubb smiles noticing the toy and walks towards it. The guards open fire, but it merely slows the man down. He quickly slaughters the guards ending all resistance.

Soon everything is quiet, except for the cries of the young girl and her mom. Tubb approaches grabbing the toy then kneels besides the girl.

"A masked giraffe... I like this. Is it yours?" Tubb asks the young girl, her mom sobs, begging for their lives. He shushes the mom grabbing her face, the girl cries and he tries to calm her down.

"I'm a fan of heroes just like you. I am just dying to see one." Tub says with a devilish grin.
By
Published: 4/28/2014
Bouquets and Brickbats