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Hey. It’s me again, and my god its cold this time of year. But im here and im safe. I cant believe im actually in London, I actually got this far. Last week chez and some of the guys from work took me out to Beer Bellies for my 21st birthday (I didn’t drink) and today im halfway across the world. Life’s crazy.
Mom’s been doing really well. Her and Doland just bought a house. About time too. They’d been talking about it for ages. They also got a dog. Not quite as exciting as the house, but it’s probably some kind of substitute for me and chez. You know something cute and furry she can take care of? Like chez used to be.
You should be very proud of your only daughter, I started drinking coffee last night at the airport during the layover in Verona. Didn’t go over well. I guess coffee tastes like mud no matter what country you’re in.
I miss you dad and I think about you all the time. I really wish you were here to give me some advice right now.
I’m not exactly sure where I should start looking. London’s pretty big.
Don’t worry though. I’ll find him.
The Hellfire Incident
To an onlooker, it may have looked as though the foreigner ducked into Café Esperanza to get away from the rain. She removed her glasses and ran a hand through a head of wet black hair; then it might have seemed like she began looking around the coffee shop for someone who was expecting her. She sighed what may have been a sigh of indecision, then the foreigner walked over and sat down in a chair across from someone who may very well have been an old friend of hers.
The foreigner sat down, speaking with a warm voice. “Hello Hank.” She wiped her foggy glasses and waved a waitress to their table.
“No me llamo Hank.” My name is not Hank. But the handsome man she had called Hank was sweating and his voice was unconvincing to the foreigner. “¿Quien eres?” Who are you?
The foreigner put her glasses on and gazed at the menu, still talking as though they were good friends. “Wow Hank. You even learned Spanish for the part? I’m impressed.”
“No te conozco gringa.” I don’t know you foreigner. Hank was going to stand up, but the foreigner flicked her hand under the table, placing a Device gently along Hank’s inner thigh, aimed at his groin. He stayed seated.
“You don’t know me?” The foreigner thought for a moment. She removed the Device from Hank’s inner thigh, but kept it aimed at him. “I suppose you wouldn’t know me directly. But I’m sure you know my work Hank. I personally had the pleasure of bringing in your long time associate, Ghost.” She revealed the tattoo of a white circle on her forearm. “My name is Ms. White.”
“No se que estas diciendo gringa. Ni hablo ingles.” I don’t know what you’re saying foreigner. I don’t even speak English.
The waitress walked over to them. Ms. White smiled a sugary smile at her and ordered a coffee. Once she was out of earshot Ms. White’s voice suddenly turned cold and harsh, “Do you take me for a fool? I’ve followed you from Delaware to Ethiopia,” she slid her fingers across the table as though a map were laid out, “then to your hometown in Australia,” she wiped sweat and rain from her brow, “all the way here to this God forsaken corner of Veracruz. And you aren’t slipping away this time because you’ve decided to play stupid.”
“Pero mi nombre no es Han-”
“Oh that’s right. Hank isn’t your name right now is it?” Ms. White threw a stack of passports on the table. “Well then, shall I call you Leonard Skins? Horace Dikembe? How about Steven Cook? Joy Heartridge?” Hank looked as though he were about to cry. “Or your most recent creation?” Ms. White threw down one last passport, one which contained Hank’s current face. “Antonio Tejada.” Hank said nothing. He just drew a shaky hand to drink from his mug. “No more denial? Good.”
The waitress arrived with coffee for Ms. White; she tipped the waitress generously, ordered a pastry, then crossed her legs and took her first sip. Hank squirmed in his chair and glanced at the door.
“I wouldn’t try it. Mr. Brown is that way.” Then Ms. White pointed across the café to the area from which emerged sounds of frying meats and boiling stews. “And out through the kitchen is another exit, but Ms. Yellow is lying in wait out there.” She took a satisfied sip of coffee. “So what should we do Hank?”
“What do you want from me White?” Hank had not the trace of an accent.
Ms. White chuckled and took a sip. “There we go Hank. I knew you spoke English. I was confused when you were so tight lipped. You have quite the reputation for talking to us whenever we show up.”
“I was told I would be kept safe.”
Ms. White almost looked offended. “Have I harmed you Hank?” Hank slowly shook his head. “I won’t hurt you. But if you make a run for it, my colleagues have orders to terminate you on sight.”
“How is that safe?!” Hank was on the verge of tears.
“Relax. I’m here for information. If you cooperate, everything should be fine. I will tell them to stand down.”
Hank sighed. “I have told you everything I know.”
“Not everything. Tell me about Sloan.” The waitress returned, and when she gave Ms. White the pastry, she lingered for a moment. Ms. White noted this.
“Sloan.” Hank shuddered at the name. “What makes you think I know anything about someone like him?
Ms. White finished her coffee, looking at Hank like an eagle. “When I identified you, you were staying at one of Sloan’s safe houses in Ardencroft, Delaware. So I don’t know Hank!” She threw her arms up. “For some reason that leads me to believe you two have had contact.”
He was getting sweatier by the minute. “Do you have any idea what you’re asking here?”
“Well, information about him will be pricey.” Hank suddenly felt as though he was in control, as he always did when he spilled information about the Powers.
“Our pockets run deep Hank. You know this.”
“Alright.” He then drummed his hands on the table. “But I have a question for you first.”
Ms. White’s eyes flicked to the waitress, then back to Hank. “Very well.”
“How do you make the Devices?”
Ms. White’s fingers felt the warmth of her Device, thinking of what to say. “Why do you ask?”
“Because I have a hunch. And I don’t like it at all.” Ms. White’s device got warmer and she began to feel uneasy.
“You’re a little too curious Hank,” Ms. White’s eyes scanned the café for danger, because by then her Device was almost burning her hand.
“Of course I’m curious! How else am I supposed to gather inf-” Ms. White threw Hank to the ground as black flames jumped across the café in their direction. The dark fire seared through customers and tables, and they screamed as they burned away to nothing. Other people started yelling things and heading for the door. Hank jumped to his feet and morphed into a screaming child who soon blended in with the crowd. But Hank was no longer important to Ms. White. She tapped a button on her Device and a white forcefield surrounded her. She then faced the direction the flame had come from.
The waitress stood atop a table, flinging about balls of whirling black fire. The fire exploded into people, blasting them in all directions. Body parts and wood and fire balls slammed into the wall of the forcefield; it shook, but held its form. Ms. White remained calm as black fire licked the outside of the white forcefield. She folded her arms and smiled as the last of the customers fled the building. “Hello Hellfire. It’s been a long time.” She flipped a yellow switch on her Device, and heard a faint beep respond nearby. “I didn’t even recognize you.”
“Not long enough White!” Hellfire jumped down from the table and began to concentrate power into a growing black ball of smoky fire between her hands.
“Be careful, love.” Ms. White pointed behind Hellfire. A yellow blur shot from the kitchen as fast as lightning and slammed into Hellfire, knocking her down. Her ball of flame disappeared with a hiss as the yellow streak went out of the door. “Cowards!” Hellfire shouted. The yellow blur came back into the room and clipped her again as she tried to stand.
Ms. White made her forcefield go away and started walking towards Hellfire. The yellow thing zoomed in and kicked Hellfire on her back. A woman with a bright yellow shirt now stood over Hellfire, with a foot pressing down on her neck. “It’s always nice when you save my neck Ms. Yellow,” Ms. White said.
“Anytime Madam White,” Ms. Yellow said through the chewing of her bubble gum.
Ms. White adjusted settings on her Device, and then waved her hand over Hellfire. A small white forcefield appeared around each of her hands, so she could summon no black fire to her palms. “I came here to squeeze information about Sloan from a worthless shell of a man that would sell out his own mother for a nickel.” Ms. White stepped in closer to almost a whisper. “But I never thought I’d be lucky enough to nab one of Sloan’s personal bodyguards.”
The ground rumbled and tiles shifted away from the center of the room. Earth and rock emerged from the ground, pushing through the building’s concrete foundation. Something rose out of the dirt until it became the vague shape of a man coated in mud. The mud fell off in caked pieces until a young shirtless man in torn jeans remained. He exhaled as though he had been holding his breath the whole time. “God I hate doing that,” Mr. Brown said, shaking the mud from his long hair. “Want me to go after Hank?”
“We don’t need him.” Ms. White was still looking at Hellfire. “We have what we came for.”
So there was this creepy guy talking to a tiger doll on the train. And from the way he spoke to it, I gathered that he thought the doll was his spouse, and I could only think of you telling me that people shouldn’t be judged. So sorry dad. Cuz I judged him to be completely insane.
Sometimes I wonder if you actually were as crazy as they say, obsessed by your mission until it was all that mattered. Until it mattered more than your friends, more than your health, more than mom. More than anything. I don’t know how anything can become more important than your family, that’s like letting fighting become more important than the things you are fighting for.
I made you a promise at your funeral, that I would avenge you no matter what it took. But I wont let it consume me. I am doing it as a common courtesy. You weren’t home much when I was growing up, but you left me notes after your passing so now, as an adult, I have more of an idea as to who you were.
All I have is a couple memories of you giving me tips and pointers about life. That’s all. Those make up all of my memories of my dad. And when he dies I suddenly get journal entries that tell me what he does when he isn’t home. So it was nice that you documented your travels. Thank you. And somehow, in going through these journals, I think you would have wanted me to avenge you. Why else would you leave me so much information about him?
Sometimes I wish I still didn’t know what you did when you weren’t home. It’s sickening to me.
But I shouldn’t judge, huh?
Flight of the Changeling
1994, Washington D.C.
Zack Vyron bashed through the doors with an armed escort of Blotches around him and his prisoner. The Blotches. He had worked with these wierdos before but the names never ceased to make him scoff. A Mr. Red was to one side of him, and a Ms. Green to the other. And their attire always matched their “names”. It was just so strange.
Responding to a local bounty in Atlanta had somehow landed Zack a flight to downtown Washington D.C. Now he and his prize were led into one of those huge buildings where the office workers have cubicles and hate their lives. But the Blotches had led them through a door in the lobby and they started moving downstairs.
By now they were a few stories beneath the streets of D.C. and Zack’s prisoner was in a panic.
“Let me go!” the asian woman shrieked, then she morphed into a black man, “I’ll pay you whatever you want!” then melded into the body of a teenage girl, “I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Zack had seen some strange things, but nothing was stranger than when you were working with the Blotches.
“Quiet Hank!” Mr. Red punched the teenage girl in the gut. Her body shimmered until she was a heavy set, balding man. “I don’t want you too bruised up before the interrogation!” Then Mr. Red laughed. Zack scowled and hauled the prisoner along. He was fine with using violence when it was necessary but Mr. Red was being a bit excessive.
When they reached the end of the hallway, Ms. Green began to lead the prisoner to the left. She addressed Zack. “You are to go to the right with Mr. Red.”
Zack’s muscles tensed. This had never happened before. Zack looked at his prisoner. “He’s mine,” he said in his gruff voice.
Mr. Red’s loud voice pierced the silent hall. “Yeah yeah! We know, but our employer would like a word with you.”
“I’d better get what’s owed to me,” Zack grunted as Mr. Red nudged him to the right. “I know where to go!” He shook off Mr. Red’s grip.
“Relax buddy!” Mr. Red smiled and put his red gloved hands up as if to show that he meant no harm. “It’s nice to see some temper from you though.”
Within a few minutes they reached a door with circles of every possible color scattered about with a white circle in the middle. Mr. Red opened the door and there was a white desk with a woman on the other side facing them. She was wearing a white dress.
“Let me guess,” Zack said as Mr. Red led him inside the room, “Mrs. White?”
“Close. But I’m not married.” Ms. White smiled and shook Zack’s hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you Mr. Vyron.”
“Charmed.” Zack said in a sour tone. He sat down in the desk across from Ms. White. That’s when he noticed some contraption lying on its side on the desk.
Ms. White flicked away a speck of dust from her white desk. “Thank you for bringing him here. Would you please leave the two of us alone, Mr. Red?”
“Of course, Madam.” But Zack could tell he wanted to stay. Once he left, Ms. White grabbed the mechanism from the desk and held it out to Zack.
“This is a Device,” she said.
“I see that,” Zack said back. This was ridiculous. “Was there a purpose here or did you just want to make away with my prisoner, keep his bounty dangling above my head to keep me from killing you, and waste my time explaining to me what a device is?”
She put the Device back on the desk. “Fair enough.” Ms. White was undaunted by his words. “Ok. Let’s back up a little.” She intertwined her fingers and tapped her thumbs together. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that Hank has a special talent that allows him to change his appearance.”
Unimpressive. “Yeah, well four years ago I brought in a little boy who could make people lose their memories just by thinking about them for too long.”
“Ah yes. I had forgotten that it was you that brought in little Caleb!” Ms. White smiled. “Out of curiosity, how did you keep him from thinking about you while you brought him in?”
“A mask. Kid couldn’t think of me if he didn’t know who I was.”
“Impressive. So you are familiar with the Powers?”
“The guys the President calls Terrorists?”
“Right. The Powers are the Terrorists.” Ms. White’s lips shifted, as if she wanted to say something, but chose against it. “We are called Blotches, a small unit under direct supervision of the President. And we hunt the Powers.” She now smiled and licked her lips. “I am offering an opportunity to join us. Think of it as a grander version of bounty hunting, but with more help, and more rewards.”
“I haven’t worked well with help in the past.” But Zack looked at the Device that was holstered at Ms. White’s waist. It was similar to the Device on the desk. But different. He felt drawn to them somehow. “What kind of help are we talking about here?”
She smirked. She had him. “Our Devices are all the help we need.” Ms. White held out the Device again, but this time Zack took it into his hand. “With the Devices, we harness the abilities of the Powers, and use those same abilities against them.”
Zack attached the Device to his wrist. “So I could use Hank’s ability with this and turn into someone else?”
“Not exactly. He hasn’t been Processed yet.”
“What do you mean?”
“I will explain that a little later. All you need to know now is that your Device was Processed from a Power named Hellfire. So this technology gives you her ability.”
“What happens to a Power when they’re Processed?”
Ms. White looked a little disappointed in him. “Do you really need to ask?”
Zack shrugged. “Thought that maybe my hunch was wrong.”
“They rarely are.” She looked at Zack’s device. “It suits you.” Then her tone changed. “You have shown great ingenuity with the way you have hunted Powers in the past even without the aid of a Device. You found Hank, so we figured we would employ you to help us find their leader.” She hit a button on the desk and a projector screen shot the image of a man onto the wall.
The man looked like he had died a thousand times. “His name is Sloan.”
“Ugly son of a b****,” Zack said. Then he noticed that Ms. White was looking at him as if she was expecting something. “What is his ability?”
Deeper into the compound, a man who looked like he had died a thousand times slowly lifted his hand up to the guard in front of Hank’s cell and whispered “Tag” while brushing a finger across the guard’s neck. The guard died before he slumped to the floor.
“He kills you if his skin touches yours?” Zack’s mind was spinning, thinking of the ramifications of such a human weapon.
“Yes. So I am sure you can see why he needs to be eliminated. Leaving a criminal like him alive, with the abilities he possesses, poses a greater threat to this country than-”
“I know why you want me to go after him.” Zack laughed cruelly. “You want him Processed don’t you? The ability to kill someone by touching them! Then you can sell that Device, or use it for our troops here in the U.S. Nobody would stand up to soldiers that can kill with a touch! Then with technology advancing every day, what if you can amplify the effects of that Device to make it killing someone with a look! Then kill someone with a thought!” He continued to laugh at the monstrosity of it all. People were such brutally clever and evil creatures, Zack thought, and it never ceased to tickle him.
Ms. White, however, didn’t join him in his laughter. She waited until he was done. “You are smarter than you look bounty hunter. But what of my offer?”
Zack nodded, feeling almost light headed from his laughter. “Yeah I’ll help you find Sloan, don’t worry Miss Whitey. But on two conditions.”
“I get paid up front and once he’s Processed I get to be the first one to try his Device.”
Ms. Green walked towards the elevator that would take her to the surface. She was getting ready for her quiet Thursday evening at that Chinese restaurant on 33rd and Broken Circle. Mr. Red was walking in the opposite direction along the same hallway. If any other Blotch had approached, she may have invited them to come along with her. But not Mr. Red. She gave him a little extra room as he passed her. His mood was too unpredictable.
Ms. Green saw stars as Mr. Red spun her head violently and cracked her neck. Mr. Red dragged her into a closet and stripped her down. Hank then morphed from Mr. Red to Ms. Green and put her clothes on. Then he walked towards the elevator in his new disguise.
It was nothing out of the norm. It was common knowledge that Ms. Green always had a quiet Thursday evening at that Chinese restaurant on 33rd and Broken Circle.
The alarms started blaring while Zack was negotiating the price on Sloan’s head.
Ms. White grabbed a phone. “Who sounded the alarm?”
“Someone found a dead guard on Cell Block D!”
“Hank’s Cell Block?!” Zack exploded.
“Did the body have any injuries on it?”
For a moment all they heard were the alarms, and then, “No ma’am!”
“I see.” Ms. White stood, quite calm, but her Device was shaking. “It’s Sloan. He must be here for Hank,” she told Zack. Then she pressed a button on the phone and spoke into it. Her voice then echoed through the intercoms throughout the facility. “Forget the prisoner Hank Larson. If he doesn’t want to be found, he won’t be. Concentrate on finding Sloan. Make sure none of your skin is exposed and set all firearms to stun.”
“Get out there,” Ms. White looked at Zack as if this were his fault. “This will be your first assignment.”
“I suppose it’s as good as any.” Then he looked down to his Device. “How do I use this thing?”
“It responds to your emotions. You will have proper training with your Device later, if you survive.”
“Good,” Zack said, then started heading for the door.
Right as he opened the door she called after him. “Welcome aboard Mr. Black.”
He stopped, and looked down at himself. He wore all black that day.
Mr. Black shook his head, smiled, and set out to catch Sloan.
Hey dad. So after a week here I finally finished reading all the notes you kept for me. So that’s how you knew he’d be in London, he makes the same patterns of traveling whenever he is a fugitive. He really should consider changing it up some.
I still wonder why you didn’t leave the notes for chez, he’s a little more the running in and beating someone up type. Not me. Ha well maybe that’s why you chose me then. I’m sure you want me to be discrete.
It may seem strange to you dad (given all the kinds of things you saw in your line of work) but I have lived twenty one years and I haven’t killed anyone yet. Or had sex. Dang I need to live a little huh? Maybe I can kill two birds with one stone while I’m here. Just kidding.
I suppose if I aim the same as I did at the shooting range I should be fine. I kept the 9mm you gave me on the last birthday you were home for. Why the hell you would give a twelve year old girl a handgun for her birthday is still beyond me, but I suppose not every girl has you for a dad.
I got a look at the man who killed you. I saw his face. Did you know that? So I’d know him if I saw him again.
And I saw that disgusting face of his yesterday.
He walked right by me. Didn’t even recognize me.
So I tailed him. Within a few hours I knew where he was staying.
I’m taking him out tonight. One week. That was faster than I thought.
Mr. Black blasted a ball of black flame from his Device as if he had a cannon for an arm.
It caused a huge black explosion down the deserted street. It threw cars and debris into the air. The end of the street was completely destroyed, or burning from Mr. Black’s artificial black flames.
When the smoke cleared, Ms. White was still there, holding her arms out. The shimmering forcefield around her did not fall.
Mr. Black roared and black flames flowed from his Device and up his arm, eventually it completely engulfed his body and he was a demon who left black fire wherever he stepped. He then started running up to the forcefield to engage Ms. White in close combat. The Blotches and soldiers standing behind him watched their leader in revered fear and fierce loyalty as if he were God.
Whenever he fought Hank, Mr. Black might as well be God.
Ms. White turned around and morphed into a man with dreadlocks that pushed his hands towards the ground and launched himself into the air by reversing gravity.
Mr. Black stopped running and just pointed at the man Hank had morphed into. “Ms. Blue!” Mr. Black yelled at the top of his lungs. A woman dressed in blue stepped away from the assembled Blotches. The big Device on her back allowed her to fly. She jumped into the air to follow Hank. “Tell us what part of the city he flies into will you?”
“Yes sir!” She shouted down.
Mr. Black sighed deeply as the Blotches and Marines started securing the area. He spoke to nobody in particular. “Hank turned himself into Ms. White just to mess with my head.” He laughed. “Sick bastard.” Then he looked around to his soldiers and started yelling. “For those of you who are too young to know, Ms. White was one of the best damned Blotches that ever lived. She founded this Order! And it was an honor serving at her side. I hope that one day I can be half the Commander she was, and kill this crazy bastard that took her from us!”
A few Blotches nodded here and there, exchanging glances. If Mr. Black was God, then God was mad. They had learned to nod and look serious whenever he reminisced. It usually didn’t last long.
And it didn’t. Mr. Black soon came back to the present with a shout. “Mr. Gray!”
A Blotch in a gray suit materialized out of thin air at his side. “Sir?”
Mr. Black jumped. “Goddammit Mr. Gray! Haven’t I told you over a hundred times that I hate it when you do that?”
“Yes sir. You have.”
Mr. Black liked how Mr. Gray didn’t seem to give a s***. “How many of us can you teleport at once?”
Mr. Gray looked offended. “Sir I can teleport the entire company if you wished it.”
“Ha! That’s what I like to hear!” Mr. Black patted him on the back. “But then who would stay here?” Mr. Black then looked down at a digital map of the city on his Device. “Ms. Green’s signal stopped. Okay.” Then Mr. Black yelled at a group of Marines on one side of the street. “I want all of you stay here and await further orders. I want all of the Blotches and twenty Marines to come with me and Mr. Gray. We will be teleporting into the abandoned hospital on Free Street.”
Some of the soldiers hated the feeling of teleporting, but didn’t let it show to Mr. Black. But it didn’t matter to him. He hated it too.
An hour later they were all inside of the hospital and Ms. Blue was burning in black fire and the other Blotches were looking at Mr. Black like he was the Devil. “Stop looking at me like that. She wouldn’t submit to a blood scan. For all I know she could’ve been Hank.”
“But she wasn’t!” Ms. Orange started to walk up to him with a streak of bravery. “And you killed her in cold blo-”
Mr. Black snapped his fingers and black fire erupted from Ms. Orange’s mouth. She sputtered and coughed but burning blood was all she could produce from her lips. She was soon burning in black fire like anyone in the world that crossed Mr. Black.
“The same fate awaits anyone else who’s feeling brave,” Mr. Black said.
Nobody else was. And Mr. Gray was smiling.
Then they fanned out to look for Hank.
A half an hour later they were all in different parts of the hospital. They weren’t having any luck.
Mr. Gray appeared next to Mr. Black and reported that they didn’t know where Hank was, that he may have somehow gotten out of the building in a disguise. Mr. Black said that he would’ve been notified by the Marines that were conducting blood scans on everyone coming in and out of the hospital. Mr. Gray said they were all wasting their time here, that they should leave.
“What’s your real name?” Mr. Black asked Mr. Gray, pushing him.
Mr. Gray swatted the hand away instinctually with his right hand. “What did you say?”
Mr. Black smiled. The real Mr. Gray was left handed. “Your real name. What is it?”
Mr. Gray closed his eyes like he was going to teleport but Mr. Black was too fast. He snapped his fingers and Mr. Gray’s eyes popped with black fire. He screamed and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. “You’re a maniac!” Mr. Gray yelled. Then his body started morphing uncontrollably, like he no longer could concentrate on who he wanted to be anymore.
“I found him,” Mr. Black spoke into his headset. “I found him. It’s over.”
The real Mr. Gray popped into existence soon after and started laughing. And Mr. Black walked over to Hank, who tried to use his shirt to stem the flow of blood from his eyes.
For a moment, Hank turned into Sloan. Mr. Black grabbed him by the throat to force him to hold in Sloan’s body shape. “Ms. Pink, if you’d please come here. I have waited a long time for this.”
Ms. Pink was a special Blotch. Somehow she was able to use more than one Device. She had five.
The beautiful Ms. Pink walked up to them both and swept her hands across Hank’s face and his eyes were in their sockets again. As soon as they were back, however, Hank looked into Ms. Pink’s eyes and she held him there.
“Go ahead.” Ms. Pink said in her honey voice. “Ask him any question you wish.”
Hank was still with Sloan’s face. Mr. Black brought his face close to Hank’s. “Is the real Sloan alive at this moment?”
“No,” Hank said, spellbound by Ms. Pink’s beautiful eyes.
Mr. Black started laughing, but nobody knew why. Then he cracked his knuckles and asked the question he had been dying to ask for the longest time. “How long has Sloan been dead?”
“So you have been playing the part of both Sloan and Hank since then?”
“Yes!” He had done it! Mr. Black wracked his memory of old mission reports. “Yes! Yes! That’s why Hellfire was in that Café when Ms. White tracked down Hank! Why else would Sloan’s body guard be there unless Sloan himself was there?”
“Correct,” Sloan’s voice said.
Mr. Black had finally won. He paced around, confirming that he had won. “Hank turned into Sloan when he was in his cell and reached out and killed the guard outside of his own cell first, then he escaped! I had always thought it strange that the guard by Hank’s cell was the first to die!”
“Correct,” Sloan’s voice said.
Glee soared through Mr. Black like a ray of sunlight through a gloomy morning.
“Alright. It’s done. Pack up boys! We’re out of here!” Mr. Black punched Hank in the face and he fell to the ground unconscious. “Take Hank back to HQ to be Processed. I want the schematics for his Device on my desk by Thursday. If we get out of here fast enough, I can still make it home in time for my daughter’s twelfth birthday party.”
Hey dad. I don’t know if you were ever a big fan of God, but I just prayed for the first time. I Prayed for you. I prayed for your forgiveness. And God’s. But you basically told me to have no forgiveness when you entrusted me with these notes, because you knew I would go after Hank.
Well I went after him, just like you would have wanted me to. I found him at his hotel, the same one you have mentioned going to in your notes.
When I broke into his room his face wasn’t the same as I had remembered seeing. But he was a changeling you know so he could do that. I walked in with the gun up. Then the son of a b**** idiot had the nerve to change his appearance to make himself look like you. My father. He made himself look like you, in a hotel you frequented when in London, and he even stayed in the room they would reserve for you. 13. I started crying dad! In the face of the enemy! I pointed the gun at him. I demanded that he change back to his regular face, because I wanted to see those eyes go black when I killed him.
He had the nerve to lie to my face! He told me he actually was you! That he killed Hank years ago! He said that he processed Hank to get the same power he had! I yelled at him, told him he was a liar, that my father was dead.
He pleaded, crying. He told me he had faked his death to escape the U.S. government. He said Hank was the last Power. And with Hank dead, the blotches had no purpose, so the president ordered the blotches to be killed, because with their devices, it was as if they were the powers all over again.
But you would never do anything like that! Fake your dead to save yourself and leave all of us behind to suffer! You would never turn someone into an instrument, turn someone into a weapon. You hunted terrorists, people that threatened our great nation. If you used their own weapons against them, how would you any better? I demanded that he tell me truth about you. Tell me the truth about my father!
He lied some more, talking about how he left the notes because he knew they would lead me there to that hotel. He said I was like him, that I would be consumed by revenge. That vengeance was the only way that I could be led to my father. But I knew the truth. My father is dead. But he was right that I did come for revenge.
But at that moment, I felt touched by something. Something greater than myself. Maybe it was God. It told me not to act in vengeance, that it was a terrorist tactic. I shouldn’t avenge my father, this man would carry the memories of what he had done forever. That was punishment enough.
I did not act in vengeance. I told him that I was going home. I told him that he could keep his lies because I know myself, and I know my father.
Dad, you’ll live on forever in my memories of you. Your legacy lives on through me, chez, mom, and all the people you have touched.
And then I forgave the man in the hotel room, I forgave him for all the pain he has caused my family, for all the times I needed you because I felt that you were the only one that really understood me, I forgave him for the sound of mommy’s crying when she was sleeping alone, clutching her pillow deep in the night. I forgave him, but not before putting a bullet in his head.