"Rigor Mortis"-The life after death RP(Started/PM for participation)-Arc 4: Closing Loose Ends

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The three knocks on the door surprised Rafik. Could it be the landlord? He thought to himself as he looked away from his monitor. He looked at his watch on his left wrist and realized he had been working for over four hours straight. Standing up and straightening his back, he looked to his left and wondered who might be visiting him. His crummy one room apartment was all he could afford, with the mattress on the floor and a short cupboard. Investing all of his spare cash in his machine seemed silly at first be it proved to be much more profitable as he began working for companies overseas and using his expertise with information security.

But something was bothering him. The last job was just wrong. When he had extracted the notes and left, he began reading them just to pass the time. Those notes were insane... So much information about every single person in the United States. Blueprints of FBI headquarters in Langley, the White House, The National First Bank... money laundering, information about the Dominican Republic, China, Israel and Romania. It had nothing to do with each other, and yet it somehow seemed to be linked into one big plot. Rafik shook his head and returned to his apartment. He went to the door and looked through the glass eye to see whoever is on the other side.

No recognizing the three, "What do you want?" he shouted from behind the door.

Marcus wasn't going to just stand on the other side of the door while this guy screwed around with them. Having backed of when he heard Rafik answer, he now lunged forward and put all his weight behind one perfectly placed kick. Luckily for Marcus, the door was thin and the lock was old, meaning that he could break through.

Rafik had been knocked back by the force of the door swinging inwards right into him, which gave Marcus a valuable second to catch him while he was off guard. Punching him in the stomach to make him double-up, Marcus then pulled his head back by his hair, drew the knife and held it against his throat.

"You've got something of ours." Marcus growled "Information, and we're here to take it back!"

Adrian was stunned as the change in Marcus surfaced almost immediately. Even though Marcus had warned the group about the possible change in personalities, Adrian had not accounted for how drastic it would be. As the actor burst through the door, an audible gasp escaped from the professor.

Although Marcus proved his fighting prowess quickly, Adrian didn't think that it was necessary. Rafik had not showed yet showed any ill will. Although he was an advocate of being safe rather than sorry, Adrian did not approve of jumping straight to violence like this. As Marcus pinned the terrified student against the desk, Adrian hesitated. Half of him was content to let Marcus just handle the situation without challenge. He was obviously in control and would have everything sorted out in a moment.

But there was a nagging doubt in the back of Adrian's mind as he watched the blade of the knife being held steadily against Rafik's throat.

No...there has to be a better way.

"This isn't necessary...just let the boy go. We can talk this out like adults."

Spencer coughed up some blood as the men kicked him again. The men weren't playing around, and if he wasn't already dead, he'd be seriously concerned for his life. They'd taken him to another room, and beat him until he was too weak to stand, and even if he could, what could he do? He couldn't fight. He couldn't heal. He had no super strength to help him.

As he felt the blood filling his mouth, his vision began to tunnel. Their voices began to echo. They kept asking about Frank. About everything. He knew the others were going through the same thing, and tried to keep his mouth shut for as long as it took.

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

Although he felt like he was about to faint, Spencer managed to barely hold on to consciousness. While he could still speak, he was of some use to the men, but who knew what they'd do to him if he collapsed.

Marcus felt a twinge of annoyance at Adrian's attempt to intervene. He had this under control, and he had thought Adrian was on board. To Marcus, it was clear that the best way to get what they wanted out of Rafik was to scare him into submission. He was a kid, and he was on his own. Who wouldn't cave after being outnumbered and threatened by a group of armed intruders? Adrian risked blowing the whole thing by trying to ask nicely.

On the other hand...

Marcus looked into Rafik's eyes. Wide with fear, his breathing short and sharp, with sweat already starting to bead his forehead. His nose was bleeding from where the door had hit him, and a few drops of blood were appearing on the knife edge. If scaring him was what Marcus had set out to achieve, he had already done so more than effectively; and if Marcus continued he might end up doing more damage than he meant to. He didn't want to hurt Rafik, not unless it was necessary, he just wanted to make him believe that he would. Besides, if Marcus intended on playing bad cop, it would be useful to have someone else take a more reasonable stance. He also didn't want to completely destroy the new group dynamic.

He relinquished his grip on Rafik after a few seconds, who collapsed, panting, against the swivel chair by the desk. Marcus made sure to keep the knife out though, to show Rafik he still meant business. Turning to Adrian, he hoped he could express his intentions just through a look.

'We'll do it your way for now. But if this guy needs persuading, let me handle it.'

"I guess it's your lucky day." Marcus said to Rafik, squatting down so they were face to face "But I'm in no mood to have my time wasted. Is that clear?"

Who are they - NO- Why are they here , Rafik tried to catch his breath. He crawled back to the opposite wall and leaned against it, above it was the window overlooking the street.

"Please-", he tried to calm himself down, "-I have money, I can give you money, just don't kill me.". Rafik wasn't sure whether he was more worried for the sake of his computer or his own sake. "Just don't take anything...", he pleaded to the three, "What do you want?" he screamed at them.

The sound of screaming above the shop began to irritate the butcher. He won't get any customers with people shouting above his head. We went up the stairs and stopped halfway, without noticing the scene in the apartment, "keep it down" he shouted towards the hallway.

The shouts awoke Gulliver up. Something wasn't right. Could it be the people that are after Rafik? The ones that are funding the British gang, Gulliver quickly jumped from his bad and went straight to his backpack in the corner of the room, retrieving a handgun and a full magazine. "Or it could be something else", he said quietly. He quietly walked towards his door and pressed his ear against the door. I need to find out about their source

"What do you want?"

"First of all, I want you to keep your fucking voice down!" Marcus said menacingly when he heard the butcher shout from downstaris. "We're not hear for money."

Marcus shoved Rafik into his chair, then yanked the computer mouse out of it's socket. Using his knife to separate the mouse from the length of cord, before tying Rafik's wrists behind him with it.

"We know you're a computer hacker, and we know that you stole something important." Marcus told him, before removing the plastic bag full of white powder from his pocket. "You know what this is?"

It was in an instant when things turned ugly, even for Mira. The strikes thrown against Rafik were as fast as a lightning strike in Mira's eyes. She tried to react, standing a bit close to Marcus in case Rafik would retaliate but there would be no need for that. He was on the ground, battered by Marcus. She heard Adrian's gasp and eventual plea but the momentum of the situation drew out her breath.

What she wanted to say was: "Marcus...I don't have a good feeling about this...".

But instead she said: "I'll watch the door.". It was hard to draw out once you were in so deep of a situation that any glint of escape was a lifetime away. Mira went to the door, making sure it was shut. She held her scissors at the ready as if it could do something.

They know... How do they know... I didn't use my name or anything that could identify me , Rafik was terrified. He pulled his head back and looked up at the ceiling as to avoid looking at his three kidnappers. "I don't know", he said, "I just work... I get a job and a do it. I steal, I give it to a client and he pays me... It's harmless. It's copyrighted information. It's names, addresses. It's harmless", Rafik kept on talking but after each new sentence he realized how wrong he was. He was hurting people. Their lives. Their privacy. Their jobs.

"How did you know...", he said quietly as he fixated his glare at the person that held the knife, "How did you find me?". He looked back at the person that stopped the knife wielding maniac earlier, "Please", he pleaded for his life, "Please, I don't know... I just do what I'm told".

"Not good enough!" Marcus growled, pulling Rafik's gaze away from Adrian, before striking him across the face with the back of his hand. Not hard enough to do any real damage, but enough to let him know Marcus meant business. "The people we work for, they're not stupid! They wouldn't have sent us here if you were no use to us. So you can either tell me what I need to know, or you can tell them; and trust me, they don't have the same, pleasant disposition, as I do."

Marcus opened up the packet, before turning to Adrian. "How do you suppose we use this?" he asked.

"I sent it", Rafik said, this time brandishing an ominous grin on his face. "I think I know... The last job was insane. So I sent it and I got paid. And I sent all of that information to a friend of mine-", Rafik tried to get his hands loose from the rubber rope. "I met him in college. A reporter".

Francis has to succeed... This isn't a joke anymore - this is real. Real Terrorists. Real Criminals. Real Murderers. He has to stop them

"Don't even think about it!" Marcus spat as he saw Rafik trying to struggle free, striking him across the face again.

He wasn't ready to believe Rafik's story just yet. The kid was smart, and if he still had any trace of what Marcus needed, he wouldn't put it past him to lie. However, Marcus still had some cards up his sleeve.

"This friend of yours, the reporter. How do we find him? Tell me everything."

Marcus lent in closer to whisper in Rafik's ear.

"You want to know a secret Rafik?" Marcus said softly. "I can heal people. True story. I can bring people back from the brink of death with just my mind, no bandages or anything. So I guess that means, if I think you're lying to me, there's no limit to how many time I can cut you with this."

Marcus held the knife in front of Rafik's eye.

"I can run you through with it all day long, or cut off any part of you I wanted, because then I can just stitch you up to do it all again. You'll keep feeling it though. Every. Single. Time. If you don't give me what I want, I can cause you more pain that you can possibly imagine, and I'll never, ever, have to stop. So just think about that, before you dare to try and smile at me again."

"How do you suppose we use this?

Adrian took the packet from Marcus' murderous character and eyed it. It was filled with a chalky powder that suddenly made Adrian even more uncomfortable than before. He took a pinch of the substance and mused it between his fingers for a moment, studying it very closely.

This can't be what I think it is.

He took the grain and put it in his mouth. The taste of bitter medicine flowed over his tongue as the substance dissolved and disappeared into his bloodstream. Almost instantly a slight euphoric sensation came over him.

Adrian turned back to Marcus. The actor had continued his intimidating tactics against poor Rafik. Although Adrian still didn't approve of running a knife so damn close to someone else, he felt as though this suddenly wasn't the time to bring it up. The answer to Marcus' question would likely be more interesting the simply arguing about morality.

"Well, I can't be certain, but I think we need to snort it. That's what one does with a package of cocaine, right?"

"Well, I can't be certain, but I think we need to snort it. That's what one does with a package of cocaine, right?"

Marcus had been hoping that his suspicions were wrong, but no such luck. What the hell was Frank doing toying with them like this? How exactly was getting high supposed to help out in this situation?

'Y'know Frank,' Marcus said to himself. 'we'd all be much more inclined to follow your orders if you ever gave us a clue what we're supposed to be achieving by all this!'

Marcus brought the knife down hard on the desk, the handle quivering as he released it, leaving the blade standing on point. He made sure to do it well out of Rafik's reach, just in case. Marcus wasn't a complete stranger to drugs. However, he'd never gone past the odd spliff or pill, this was a different matter entirely, and it made him uneasy. His act relied on him maintaining composure, something that he understood would be a lot harder to do with a dose of Cocaine in his system.

Cursing under his breath, he strode over to Adrian. Yet again, Marcus found himself in the infuriating position of having no choice, and he knew that the more time he wasted the more danger they'd all be in. Like it or not, he just had to suck it up, so he might as well do it quickly. Taking the bag from Adrian, he then removed the knife from the desk, which he used to separate three lines, one for each of them, each roughly three inches long. Marcus wasn't certain about dosage, so he thought he'd better leave it at that. Tacking from his wallet a one dollar bill, which he rolled up into a hollow cylinder, he turned back to Adrian for reassurance.

"Do you reckon we're supposed to give him a dose too?" Marcus asked, nodding his head towards Rafik.

Adrian watched nervously as Marcus took the bag and began portioning out the drug. Although he had never been a saint, Adrian had been able to avoid putting harder and more addictive substances in his body. The thought that he might have to do it right now in the middle of an intense situation like this one was almost unbearable. He had no idea how he would respond to a large quantity of the drug.

He glanced desperately at Mira while Marcus worked. Surely she had some insight with her former profession. Maybe she would know better what to expect from this. Maybe she would know what could go wrong...

"Do you reckon we're supposed to give him a dose too?"

Suddenly Adrian's trepidation turned to confusion.

"Wait...do you mean that Fra...that he didn't tell you how we were supposed to use it?"

Any confidence that he had in how this operation was going down had suddenly shot through the tube. What if there was something that had been done to the drugs? Were they poisoned or something? What if Rafik was supposed to take them all? Or what if they just helped enhance their powers? What would happen if they mistakenly gave them to Rafik? Would he die? What would happen if..

Stop.

Adrian quieted the millions of questions bumping around in his head. No good would come from second guessing.

"What was said when you received the package? Was there any indication about what it was for?"

The sight of the lines of Cocaine organized by Marcus made a gasp of air shoot through her mouth. She tried to silence it but it was too late. Her mind was processing the events but the revelation of the drug had sent her mind into a hyperactive state. Her mind was abuzz with questions, thoughts, and eventually the overly practiced procedures that she was trained to deal with the drug or its victims.

"Marcus, are you sure about this?" Mira said, her voice escaping from the corner of the room. It was faint mostly because of the shock. Her ears began to warm with nervous apprehension.

"What was said when you received the package? Was there any indication about what it was for?"

"Marcus, are you sure about this?"

"The bastard just said to use it when we had him tied up. That's all. I... I don't know if he meant on him or on us, or both."

A rush of recklessness surged through Marcus. He'd had enough with this bullshit. If Frank was going to keep handing out the vaguest of orders, he wouldn't mind if Marcus chose to interpret them in whatever way he saw fit. Besides, it was safer for Marcus than the others. If something went wrong he could just fix himself with his power... probably.

"Fuck it!" Marcus exclaimed "Well I guess I'm gonna find out."

In one swift movement, not giving himself the chance to hesitate, Marcus snorted the fist line.

"I found him", The two men said as they watched the events inside the warehouse. The very moment the drug entered Marcus's system, he had lost all control. His mind had been pushed back to make way for the new overlord, Caroline. "Where 's Fraunk?", Marcus said in a different tone of voice. He looked around himself and realized he was in a room, surrounded by others. "You", Marcus said as he turned to the other two, "Fraunk told me he be here".

Marcus raised his arms in the air and moved his attention from the others to the tied up prisoner. "Boy'", Marcus said, "You be steeling from me". He walked towards the tied up man and bent down.

"What... What's happening?", Rafik said as the situation in his room got stranger and stranger. "I told you... There's nothing you can do. Francis will stop-". As Rafik continued to repeat himself, Marcus took a step back and raised his hand at the man. Without twitching, his pinkie ripped itself from Marcus's hand and flew into Rafik's abdomen, a thin trail of tendrils connecting the pinkie to the hand. "Where he is? This Fratis?", Marcus asked Rafik after he had let out a blood curdling scream. "I don't know", Rafik said again, his eyes began to water, his voice trembled and his head fixated at the place Marcus stabbed him with his flying finger.

This is it , Gulliver thought to himself as he heard the scream from behind the door. He pulled the safety and opened the door. In front of him, on the other side of the hall, were two people standing in front of the door. Inside he could barely see Rafik tied to a chair, with a man standing over him and interrogating him. "Throw your weapons!", He shouted at the three as he took a step closer to the other apartment. In the meanwhile, after hearing some unpleasant sounds from above, the butcher decided he should call the police before he would get hurt too. Clutching his knife in one hand and the phone in the other, he awaited their arrival and prepared himself for the moment those maniacs would come down the stairs.

After the events of the past couple days, Adrian was hardly shocked by strangeness. Still, as he had watched Marcus consume the cocaine, he had not expected what had come next. Marcus had become an entirely different person. The way he spoke, the way he moved; it seemed as though there was someone else pulling the strings. It was apparent that somehow the substance was being used to channel something else, but Adrian was unsure how or why.

One thing was certain though: this new Marcus had the Rafik situation handled. He continued the interrogation without skipping a beat and added his own "unique" spin to the proceedings. Adrian cringed as Marcus displayed a frightening new power by embedding his pinkie in Rafik like a tentacle. As horrifying as the situation was, Adrian couldn't help but note that about a thousand sophomoric puns involving "fingers" and "tentacles" rushed into his brain.

So yeah...I might be getting a little jaded by all this weirdness.

Before he could take any further time to reflect on inappropriate jokes, the situation escalated. The door across the hall burst open and a man out with a pistol at the ready.

"Christ, what else?"

Before the new man was even able to speak, Adrian was already focusing on other things. The sudden adrenaline of the moment did not hinder his thoughts as they drifted back to the face that had haunted him over the past twelve hours. It was a face that both threw him into a frothing fury and a curious longing. As much as he tried to hate her, there was one thing that he could not deny. One realization that he had come to while chasing the bottom of a bottle the night before.

Right now...if I want to think of my past life, I have to think of Alice.

And think of Alice he did. He pictured the woman in red standing before him, giggling playfully as he chased her through a lush grassy field. His heart elated as he moved ever closer to her, one step at a time. She had said there would be no way to catch her. She had said he was too slow.

But Adrian had caught her. And as they rolled together in the grass, a great feeling of warmth spread through him.

Later, when he would reflect on his current situation, he would realize the irony of this thought being the trigger. The woman he had caught was now gone from his life forever, replaced by the girl in red. A girl that Adrian didn't know if he even wanted to chase.

But as it stood there was no time for reflection.

Adrian opened his eyes and was greeted by the crackle of energy that he had felt the day before. As he glanced around the room, a slight smile spread over his face. Of all the events and revelations of the past couple of days, the knowledge of his ability was the only one that he could classify as overwhelmingly positive. Being able to see the very waves of life coursing through the bodies of those standing around him was empowering...maybe even a bit intoxicating.

"Throw your weapons!"

"No, I think I'm going to need you to throw yours."

With a flick of the wrist, the energy surged through the man's body and gathered in his arm, forcing it out to the side. His fingers were spread apart by the force and unable to grasp the weapon any longer, causing the gun to fall to the floor. With another gesture Adrian gathered the energy into the man's legs, trying to hold them stiff so that their unexpected guest wouldn't be able to make any unexpected moves. Adrian focused his entire mind into holding him there.

"Ok everyone...we might want to...hurry this along..."

"He works for The Daily Trumpet", Rafik said quietly, "Please... It's all I know...". Marcus nodded and his pinkie returned back to its rightful place, weaving itself back into his hand. "You not remembar 'dis", Marcus said and raised his hand over his head, bringing it down to hit Rafik. Most of his remains blasted through the window, covering passers-by. He turned around to see a man hold his gun at the others, only to be disarmed by one of Frank's men.

"You be steeling from me too?", Marcus said and walked by Adrian. Gulliver tried to reach the gun on the floor but he stopped in his place as Marcus's middle finger penetrates between his second and third rib, piercing his lung. "Fraunk not say who are more steeling from me", Marcus continued to walk in the man's direction. Gulliver fell back in shock. "N..No", he mumbled. Police sirens could be heard outside. The remains of Rafik drew even more attention as first responders came into the street. Marcus looked back to see if any of the police might be coming in through the stairs, Gulliver quickly grabbed his gun and fired two shots at Marcus, both of them hit his chest. "You be dead", Marcus said, but before he could hit Gulliver again he fell back to the ground, his finger slowly moving back through his tendrils to his hand. Caroline had been called away, and since the new arrival has nothing to do with her mission, she had no reason to waste more energy with Marcus.

Marcus awoke as if from a long sleep. He had a vague sensation of tightness in his chest, but his mind was still adjusting to consciousness, making it seem distant and disconnected. It was only when he had lifted his head to look around that he saw the two gaping holes in his chest.

'Fuck's sake! Not again.'

Trembling as his strength started to drift away, Marcus lifted his hand above his wounds.

..............................................................................................

"Marcus... Am I your friend?"

Tim Rockwell sat up in his bunk, looking across at the six year old Marcus, who, rather than returning Tim's gaze, kept his eyes fixed on the golden painted stars that adorned the ceiling above them.

"I don't have friends Tim" Marcus replied, breaking the moment of stony silence.

"Why?" the younger boy asked.

..............................................................................................

The green lights began to dance. Half of Marcus was still in the room, bleeding out, while the other half was absorbed in memory.

..............................................................................................

Marcus didn't really know how to answer that question, certainly not in a way that Tim would understand. That was why it annoyed him. Friendship was as distant to him as a far away country on an Atlas. He knew it existed, he may even know an odd fact or two, but he had never seen it for himself. Marcus had always defined the other kids by what they did: The Bullies; The Teachers; and The Rest. It had just seemed natural to him to keep things like this simple. Maybe some of them were his friends, or at least they could be? How the heck was he supposed to know? People like Tim, Marcus mused, could talk about 'friendship', as if just the word itself was the definition, and that no further explanation should be necessary; but how could Marcus be expected to recognize emotions and sentiments that no-one had ever shown to him?

..............................................................................................

He grimaced in pain as he stated to withdraw the bullets and heal the wounds. However, this time, the pain wasn't so bad. It was as if his nervous system had been blunted. He felt the pain, and yet could keep himself apart from it. The room began to come back into focus.

..............................................................................................

"I just don't. Okay Tim? Now get some sleep."

Marcus rolled over so he faced the wall, not wanting to see Tim's timid expressions.

'It's better to be a loner.' He thought to himself 'What do you have to lose?'

A sharp twinge of sadness held his heart and twisted it. It hurt not to cry.

..............................................................................................

It was done. Marcus stumbled to his feet, whereupon he noticed the broken window, and a bloody mess where Rafik used to be. Mira and Adrian gaped at him in shock, something which struck him as odd. They both knew he could heal, they'd seen him do it before...

Just what the hell had he done?

Marcus heard a noise behind him, a sort of frightened stammer. Wheeling round, he saw a another man that he didn't recognize; who held a gun limply at his side.

It was as if all the rage and frustration that had been building up inside Marcus since this ordeal had started broke at that moment. His anger at Frank, Alice, careless drivers, himself, and the whole world in general now focused on his would be murderer. Marcus' peripheral vision went dark, and his mind went blank. Blood lust had taken over, and now Marcus was a creature of pure violence.

Letting out a roar like an enraged lion, Marcus pounced. The man was apparently so shocked by what he had witnessed that he was slow to react, giving Marcus the split second he needed. Drawing the knife once again, he thrust it with all his strength into the man's stomach. Then the chest, then the throat, again and again Marcus pieced his flesh until blood began to spread across the landing.

It was only after Marcus was quite sure the man was dead that he became aware of sirens outside. Now on some kind of murderous auto-pilot, Marcus grabbed the dead man's gun without thinking.

"We need to get out of here!" he told the other two.

Mira nodded. In her mind she had lost track of how much worse their day had gone. Mira stepped over the man's dead body and went for the stairs. She tried to not to think whether or not Rafik had any friends or family. The same with the man of whom Marcus had just brutalized.

"Can you use that thing?" Mira asked Marcus, with an increasing panic in her voice. Their day had becoming more and more like an action movie and now the blaring police sirens only added to the anarchy. Mira could hear her steps as they went down in a hurry. She wondered whether or not the butcher had called the police on them with the racket that they had caused. It wouldn't surprise her but even so, would he still be in the building?

"There's a first time for everything." Marcus glibly replied.

He became aware that he was shaking. It was as if he had just emerged from icy water to truly see what he had done. He'd just killed a man, possibly two, in particularly brutal fashion. Marcus had no idea what had come over him in his moment of madness. All he knew was that for the past few days he had felt like a wounded animal, backed into a corner. His world had been turned upside down, he'd seen violence he never thought possible, and he had been kept in the dark every step of the way by people who had complete control over him. The terrifying powerlessness of it all had been creeping up on him all this time, no matter how hared he's tried to shake it off, to maintain control; and in that moment it had overcome him. In the end it had come down to a single. simple choice - fight or flight - and Marcus' true colors had been revealed. He couldn't just pretend it was all an act, the very idea seemed so stupid to him now. The sort of thing a scared kid would come up with. He had promised not to become like Frank. He had promised them he wasn't a monster, and now in mere hours those promises lay in tatters.

To say that Marcus felt dirty would not have been enough. He felt dead.

"Here, I'll take the lead." Mira said, reassuring Marcus the best she could in this situation. "If anything happens just keep that gun close."

Mira took point, walking ahead of the pair. The sirens did a nice job resonating the blaring sound all throughout the narrow staircase. If anything did happen, Mira had faith that Marcus would be able to support her. She stepped back into the store with the butcher wide-eyed and brandishing one of his knives thinking that they were after them.

"We're not going to harm you, please." Mira said as she went to the doorway leading outside. She poked her head out, only seeing the first responders on the scene with the remains of Rafik scattered about the sidewalk. From the looks of it, they were too preoccupied with the mess than who phoned it in but soon one of the pedestrians began pointing to the bloody window.

"Come on!" Mira yelled to Marcus and Adrian. Then she focused her attention back to the butcher. "Did another man enter after we did? Did you see someone go upstairs?"

The wail of the sirens only served to further unnerve Adrian. It wasn't enough that he had just seen Marcus murder two people in cold blood. Now they had the authorities closing in on their positions. Like some sort of doomsday prophet, he had predicted that the day would spin into a disaster. Never in his life had he been more disappointed that he was correct than he was now.

He followed Mira down the stairs, trying not to dwell on the freshly minted corpses that had been deprived of life in the past couple of minutes. The loss of Rafik was tragic enough but the murder of the second man had really gotten under his skin. The influence of...whoever that was was obvious when Rafik had been splattered unceremoniously on the pavement below. That was par for the course with these people.

But the second man...that had been all Marcus. Granted, Adrian acknowledged room for an argument of self defense since two bullets had just been pumped into Marcus' chest. But the cruel retaliation that it had garnered...Adrian couldn't suppress a shudder at the though. The vicious look that had spread over the actor's face as he brought the knife down again and again and again and again and...

Where does the actor end and the person begin?

Mira was taking point, holding her composure in the face of great danger. Adrian was able to admire her cool under the current pressure. As she calmly questioned the butcher, the professor looked restlessly around the room. It would only be a matter of time before the authorities would be upon them. He knew that if they were surrounded, the game was basically over. Their powers would be irrelevant in the face of thirty armed officers.

The only real option was to run. But where? How would they escape without ending up a flaming pile of rubber and steel on the ten o'clock news?

Marcus didn't need telling twice, the sirens were getting closer. He sprinted out of the shop and onto the street. A few people had gathered and were gesticulating wildly at him. If Marcus couldn't make them scatter then they would show the Police which way they went, even if they did get out of here in time. Without pausing, Marcus pointed the gun skyward and fired two shots. The safety catch was already off from when Marcus' victim had used it, so it was a simple matter of pulling the trigger. Instantaneously, the startled crowd scattered in panic.

He got into the car and revved up the engine, before calling out of the window to the others.

"C'mon, let's go!"

Alexei said ordered another man to continue beating Ben. He had to find out who was his employer. He made his way through the workshop, telling off any that stopped working to watch the spectacle. He entered his office and saw two of his men beating Spencer. "News?", Alexei asked the two, "Niet", one of them replied.
"I have no time for you", Alexei said as he opened his jacket and took out a pistol hanging on a shoulder strap. He loaded the pistol and pressed the safety, moving the gun diagnally at Spencer's head.
"Last words, Boy?".
.

Adrian didn't need to be told twice. Nothing would be gained by stalling the inevitable any longer. His legs began to ache as he sprinted out of the building behind Marcus. All he could hear was the beat of his heart pumping in his head and his stuttering breath. The shots that Marcus fired seemed distant and dreamlike.

He slid into the back seat of the car and panted heavily. The adrenaline pumping through his veins made everything around him seem so surreal, like there was a notable disconnect between his body and his mind. Every second that passed lingered for an eternity. Even as he spoke, his voice seemed distant and cloudy in his ears.

"Step on it."

As soon as Mira and Adrian were both in the car, Marcus sped off. If he had to guess, he would say that they had maybe had less than ten seconds before the first responders had arrived right on top of them. However, so far they had avoided visual contact with the Police, and Marcus wanted to keep it that way. If they could just put enough distance between themselves and the scene that they had left behind, then they could blend in with the traffic closer to the city center, before making their way back to the apartment. For once, Marcus was happy that this wasn't his first experience of having to lose the Police.

His thoughts passed for the first time in hours to Spencer, Ben, and Evey. He hoped against hope that they were having an easier time of their mission than Marcus was. A thousand possibilities danced though his consciousness of what they would do if they were cornered. He couldn't help being away of the gun, now concealed in the glove box. Would he have the guts to use it? He was already a murderer after all, but while killing an armed assailant in a fit of adrenaline-fueled rage was one thing, gunning down an cop was quite another. Besides, he only knew how to use it in theory, and didn't fancy his chances in a firefight with professionals, healing powers or not. However, at the same time, Marcus didn't know if they could afford to get caught. He couldn't trust Frank to help them, and if he told the Police about what was really going on, he was in all likelihood a dead man.

He couldn't allow it to come to that. For now, he was still incognito, he just had to hold out a bit longer.

Bang.
The man that was once called Spencer was smeared all over the opposite wall from Alexei. His memories, his loves, his dislikes, his little quirks and inspiring words. Gone. The other two hauled him off outside the warehouse to be disposed of.

Evey was luckier than Spencer, as she was only saved by coincidence. Only moments before she would be robbed of her most precious thing did the door to the warehouse open, revealing a well equiped team of assailants all paid for by the Average Joe's salary. The two men at the entrance, crying out in curse words that had not been heard throughout Africa for half a milenia, began shooting at the unwanted guests but were quickly shot down themselves. The chemicles in the vials did not take kindly to bullets and gunpowder, and the situation quickly deteriorated into a showdown with dancing flames. Evey was rescued, or more accurately detained by the force. Ben, forgotten in the corner of their eyes was left there to die as the fire began to eat away at his clothes.

But something was off. The fire wasn't burning Ben. The feeling was the same as the darkness that had surrounded him before. The fire spread all around his body but he could feel more alive than ever. They came for him. His memories. What he was trying so hard to escape.
The grasp of the fire weakened and Ben fell to his knees. He must survive, he has to. The building is burning down and none will dare enter it.

Ben felt the fire roar through him, making him feel more alive than he had ever been. A memory flashed through him, one that he hadn't really thought about in a long time.

==============================================================================================================

Ben watched David wake, staked spreadeagled and gagged.

"Hello David, I've been waiting for you to wake." Ben whispered ominously, watching david thrash around in a panic. He inhaled, smelling the freshness of the night air.

"We're miles from civilization, David, no one can hear you scream here." Ben reached into his knapsack and pulled out a pair of bottles and a knife. He sliced off the boy's clothes, leaving him fully exposed to the elements.

David smirked, disbelieving that the boy that he had bullied would be so bold as to kidnap him. He spat at Ben as he removed the gag.

"They never listen. Now I'm going to have to make you believe me."

Ben picked up one of the squirt bottles, it had a spray head attached to it. He sprayed the liquid contained in the bottle over David's body and pulled out a lighter. Opening it with a click, Ben marveled at how dangerous a lighter could seem in the right situation. He flicked on the lighter and brought it over David's body, watching the blue flames spread up and down.

David recoiled from the flames screaming in fear, though they didn't touch his body. It was proof that it was the fumes that burned, not the liquid itself.

As the flames died down, Ben bent down over the terrified boy's head.

"Believe me now?" David nodded vigourously.

"Good. Now, you are going to hurt David, just like you made me hurt all those times. I'm going to hold this knife over your eye, and I'm going to make you hurt. If you move your head up, you will die, so I don't recommend moving."

Ben put the knife in his left hand and held it two inches over the boy's eye. Picking up a nearby branch, he swung it down on David's stomach area. As the first blow came down, David screamed, but he did not move his head. The flurry of blows went on for a couple minutes, until they finally stopped. But not once did David move his head

"I'm impressed David, I thought for sure that you would move. For that you will live."

Ben picked up a second squirtbottle and dumped it over David's body, going from his chest down to his groin. Opening the lighter once again, Ben lit the liquid and watched dispassionately.

"What are you doing? no, No, NO!!!" David screamed as the flames licked at him. The pungent smell of burnt hair, urine and feces filled the air. As the flames died down once again, Ben leaned down and whispered, "That was a reminder."

"You're insane, and I'm going to tell everyone what you've done." David spoke for the first time since his imprisonment

"I might be, but who's going to believe you, the druggie that was found with a whore." Ben spoke back, a needle filled with a fluid in his hand, gotten from the knapsack. David screamed once again as Ben took his arm and inserted the needle, depressing the plunger.

==============================================================================================================

Ben stood up, flames alighting in his hand. Throwing flames around in a rage, he set the warehouse further alight. He walked around, incinerating his captors corpses, some of them still alive. Ben threw up his hands and set the shelving alight. Finished with that, he breathed heavily and headed to the back door, leaving a trail of flames behind him.

Gulliver's corpse was gone. The police didn't even realize where it was taken to. Tied to a chair, Gulliver sat in front of Klaus as he kept tapping his cane at the floor. "You're alive, boy. Be grateful. Thank Jesus", Klaus said and stepped to the left. The door behind him opened and revealed a thin, short man, brandishing dark long hair and a beard with dark eyes. He walked forward as if he were floating on the floor and introduced himself, "Bienvenido, I am Josť ".

.

As the building was burning to the ground, the police began scouring the area. Frank couldn't afford losing another employee. A visible pole of fire came in the direction of Ben, and only a moment later did Frank stand near him, holding his flaming hand over his head and pressing Ben back on the floor causing Ben to lose his flame and consciousnesses. Without hesitation, Frank grabbed Ben and ran back to the apartment. The others are dead now. No need to worry about them now.

Placing Ben on the sofa back in the apartment, Frank boiled some water over the stove. "Wake up", he said as he slapped Ben, "We need to talk".

Ben woke up with a splitting headache and a sore cheek.

"Wha..What happened?" Ben's eyes focused to his surroundings. He sat up, the room spinning. When he finally feeling the vertigo, he looked at Frank

"Why am I back in the apartment? Where are Spencer and Evey?"

Ben flashed back to the warehouse, what he did.

"What the hell did I do?!"

Adrian slumped down into the seat and closed his eyes. The shock and energy of the past minutes had begun to drain away from his body; a creaking ache replaced the buzz that had filled his joints moments ago. The sirens grew more and more distant as the vehicle pulled further and further away from the scene of the crime.

And what a crime it had been.

Double homicide, one in the second degree and the other likely in the first. Neither of them really needed to die. Sure, Rafik's passing wasn't directly caused by the choices of the team even if it was carried out by their hand. But that other man...were the wounds inflicted to his chest necessary? Did he need to die like that?

Adrian's head shook fiercely. There was no room in his mind for thoughts like that. He had said to Marcus earlier this morning that he would understand the extremes that might need to be taken. They had been warned about the persona that Marcus might adopt. Adrian certainly did not approve of what had happened, but he was not going to go back on what he had said before. He would refuse to let the actions that he had seen forever color the way he looked at Marcus.

He gazed idly at the young actor tensely steering the car away from the mayhem. It was obvious that there was a lot bouncing around in his mind. Adrian briefly pondered about what exactly was bothering Marcus the most? Was it the immediate threat or something reaching a little deeper.

Adrian sat up in the seat a little more. The pain in his joints was beginning to subside. He did his best to look optimistic as he leaned toward Marcus.

"I think we've lost them."

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