London…..

St. Lawrence cathedral…..

Midnight…..

In a dark office, a man waited patiently as he continued his telephone conversation; his demeanor darkening with each passing moment. The only light in the room came from the moon, shining brilliantly through the huge glass window behind him.

“Yes, I understand. If that’s true, then the situation is worse than we expected.”

At that moment, there was a solid knock on his door.

“Come in” he bellowed.

Not even acknowledging the visitor, the man when back to his conversation looking more and more concerned. The visitor entered the office, stepping carefully towards the desk in the center where the man continued to talk.

“The agent is here. Yes, she’ll be briefed and deployed at once.” He spoke as he looked up to see what appeared to be a young nun standing before him. “Be careful out there, Goodbye.” The phone hit the receiver with a sound that echoed through the room.

“Please, be seated;” he said as he gestured to the chair in front of the desk.

“I understand that you’re new with the division, so I’ll try to fill you in as much as possible. You were selected because your abilities are commendable, and your loyalty to the church is second to none”, as he spoke, the woman remained motionless before him. “Throughout the world there is chaos. Police and these so-called Heroes can only handle so much, and even with their help the real threat still remains. Do you know what the real threat is, miss…”

“I’m called Strike, Father. Sista Strike”

“Yes, Strike then.”

“As for your question, the answer is…Heretics…those that do harm to the church. “
“Correct. Many people don’t see these people as definite threats since their actions don’t violate their laws in most cases. But they are a threat, a threat that must be dealt with.”

There was a long silence as the man rose from his chair and walked to the window behind him.

“I’ve just received word from our agent in Paragon City that the numerous gangs there have violated the sacred laws of our church in the vilest ways imaginable. However, that’s not the most disturbing piece of news from Paragon. It would seem that our biggest rivals, the Circle of Thorns and the Banished Pantheon, are also there. There have been reports of them kidnapping citizens for their twisted rituals, and demon summoning. You will be dispatched to Paragon immediately to help deal with this threat. Do you have any questions?”

“What are my orders exactly, Father?”

At that moment the man turned around with a quite sinister look on his face. The expression nearly startled the young woman. He looked as if he himself were possessed by a demon.

“Simple: Destroy them all!”

With that, the woman stood and began to take her leave.

“Strike!” The man called.

“Yes, sir?”

“Welcome to the Anti-Heretic Division’s Seventh Chapter. Make us proud.”

“Yes sir, thank you, sir.”

Strike exited the office without a sound. Silently, she walked down the hallway with a look of sheer determination on her face.

“Paragon City, huh? This should be interesting.”

Chapter 2
Genesis

The organization had arrangements for her to travel by plane to a small town on the outskirts of Paragon. From the town, she’d take a train that would migrate with Paragon’s train transit system. This would be a long trip indeed.

What am I doing here? Her mind began to wander. I was promised these people would be able to help me control my power, and now I’m being sent to a place where I’ll only cause more destruction? She sat in a row alone, and began to drift off. Strike disliked sleep more than anything else. When she slept, she remembered. And when she remembered, she hated herself more and more….

9 Years ago…..

A place that no longer exists on any up-to-date map…..

“Stephanie, dear, you must go to school. You’ve improved so much, I’m sure everything will be alright.” A middle aged woman was sitting on the edge of a small bed; too small to be meant for her. At the head, a small girl is curled up in a ball crying.

“But mama, I don’t want to. They all hate me, they all pick at me! What’s wrong with me, why am I like this?”

“Hush child. They don’t hate you, they…just don’t understand. When people don’t understand they get scar—…” She tried to stop herself, but it was too late.

The child looked up with a face that could break an angel’s heart. “Scared? They’re afraid of me? I….I…” There was nothing the child could do to stop the flow of tears that followed.

“Very well, child, today I’ll let you stay, but tomorrow will be a different story.”

Tomorrow…
Tomorrow would be the end of all for the people of Strike’s village; an end to the hatred, an end to the name-calling, an end to it all.

It started like any other day. The sky was clear, the house smelled of home cooked breakfast, and the sleepy town was just beginning to come to life. Strike…or rather Stephanie woke up feeling quite good. Her hands no longer burned, her muscles no longer ached, and the jack hammer in her head seemed to have run out of gas. However, she knew that she could not hide from the world forever, today, she would have to continue her life whether she liked it or not. Hesitantly, she got dressed and groomed herself. Downstairs, her mother greeted her with a “good morning” and a fresh plate of blueberry pancakes; her personal favorite.

On her way out, her mother softly grabbed her shoulder. “Listen to me dear. I can only imagine the pain you must be going through, and it sickens me that I can only give my words for comfort. The thing is: I believe, with all my heart that the Lord gave you your gifts for a reason. I know you will grow to be a strong, beautiful woman that will help many people. Maybe, you may even be recognized as the hero that used to live here and be seen in the papers like those other people. One day, you’ll look back on your troubled times now and laugh. We’ll laugh together.” Wiping a tear from her eye, the woman gently pushed the girl out the door and watched her leave for school.

Unfortunately, Stephanie never made it to school. A large group of upper classmen was lying in wait for her, out of the sight of passers-by. They grabbed her and pulled her into an empty lot. “Well, well what have we here, if it isn’t the little freak that destroyed the playground last week?” One of the bigger boys spoke. Steph was surrounded, she couldn’t run, or fight, there was only one option left for her. NO! I won’t use it. I WON’T! There must be away out, maybe they’ll listen to reason. “I’m sorry for the playground, it was an accident honest! I didn’t mean to do it; please you have to believe me!”

It was obvious that they weren’t listening. “Accident, or not, you did it. We don’t want any freaks in our town!” With that, he and the rest of the students began to beat her. Her screams of pain and cries for mercy fell on deaf ears. No one would come to her aid, no one would care if she was hurt, no one would know.

“I think that’ll teach her, eh guys,” one of the students said, tired from the exercise. As they all started to walk away, leaving the battered child on the ground; the leader stopped and turned back. “Hey Jason, what’re doing man?” The boy called back. Jason, as it seemed the leader’s name was, had a sinister look on his face from what Stephanie could see (which wasn’t much with one of her eyes swollen shut). “Like I said, we don’t want any freaks in our town.” With that he picked up an old discarded pipe, and continued to approach. He’s going to kill me!

Suddenly, she had a familiar feeling in her body. Her hands began to burn, her muscles ached far more than any beating could do, and the jackhammer had refilled and was ready to go. This time, though, it was worse; much worse than the times before. She felt as if the world itself were collapsing on her; the pain was unbearable! By instinct, she raised her hands to attempt to block the incoming blow only to deliver a blow of her own. The boy had been knocked at least 30 feet across the yard and was bleeding badly. The other children could only look in horror as to what followed. Jason raised again, a look of sheer hatred in his eyes. “YOU DAMN DEMON!! DIE!!!” he yelled as he ran full speed toward her. By this time, Steph had no sense left in her; she didn’t know what was going on, or where she was; all she knew was the pain she was feeling. We’ll laugh together, she thought. The image of the angry 13 year old running toward her was the last thing she remembered seeing before it all went black.

The lord gave you your gifts for a reason…..

One day, you’ll look back on your troubled times now and laugh….

You Damn Demon!! DIE……..

We’ll laugh together……

Stephanie awoke to the smell of something familiar; a smell that made her want to throw up. It smelled like….like….flesh. Burning flesh! She popped up with a start and viewed her surroundings. Nothing……There was absolutely nothing. Everything was in ruin, from the lot to the street. Everything had been destroyed. She felt something familiar, a feeling of dread and loathing. She had felt this way before; when she destroyed half of the park where she used to play. She was responsible for this! Her and her alone!! Mother, what have I done!?

She moved as quickly as she could, trying to ignore the immense pain she was in. On the way home she could only cry as she passed the people and structures that were busy and full of life only moments earlier; now they lay as rubble and corpses. Oh god, what have I done?! It was an accident!! When she arrived home, the scene was no different. Her beloved home was destroyed, as if a hurricane had decided to take a nap right in her bed. There was nothing she could do, she’d done enough….

“MOTHER!!!!”

Weeks later…..

She had been moved to a hospital after being found unconscious in front of her home. The authorities were unaware that the culprit was the little girl they were rushing to the emergency room as a victim. After she healed, she was taken to the local orphanage; there was nowhere else for her to go. There, she remained silent; never smiling.

“Is this her? The child found at the destruction of Tilmitt?” Two men where talking as they observed her from an afar.

“Yes, that’s her. Says her name is Strike; made up obviously, but we have no other records on her. Why do you want to take her?”

“Rumor has it that she was responsible for that incident. The tests we’ve run on her have shown quite unusual results.”

“So, you’re going to arrest her? She’s just a child, it couldn’t have been intentional.”

“No, I’m not going to arrest her. That incident is buried and forgotten to the world. However, if word got out that such a young child had that kind of power; it could be dangerous for her and everyone around her. These are hard times, there are a lot of people who would use her for God only knows what. She’ll be safe with the church, they can help her.”

Strike was called into the headmaster’s office. She entered like a ghost, not caring about her environment, not smiling, barely alive.

“Take a seat Strike, please.” She sat. “This here is Father Alexander; he has agreed to take you in. You will live at the St. Augustine Church from now on. I do hope that you find the spark for life that I’m sure you once held; they will be able to help you.”

Strike said nothing, she looked at the Father with the eyes of a doll, and then her eyes fell back to her hands. She was holding the cross that her mother had given her last year, it was her prized possession.

“Are you ready, my child? Would you like to say goodbye to your friends first?” She rose from the chair and started toward the door. She spoke like she hadn’t spoken in years, low and fragile, “Let’s go Father; a demon has no friends.”

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