10. Birth

…It was a cold night in the outskirts of the city. Nonetheless, it was business as usual for the sound of late night traffic. A city that never sleeps. Yet on its rooftops all was quiet. The pale moon shone down on these concrete peaks, illuminating their faces, while the other side was left in gloom. Then like a spectre in the night, a dark figure emerged from these veils of shadow. It was a man dressed all in black, wearing a tight sweater that was tucked into a pair of black pants. He had a slender build with lean muscle. Covering his hands were gloves, and on his face he wore a black ski mask. It seemed as if underneath the mask he was wearing a pair of dark sunglasses, so his eyes could not be seen.

Slowly he crept over to the edge of the building, his movements like a black panther. Then in one quick hop, he was on the ledge. He was at the very brink of the ledge, inches away from falling over. He paused there for a moment, watching the streets hundreds of feet below. Then focusing his gaze on the skyscraper across from him, he braced himself. Then suddenly, he exploded from the ledge and leapt fifteen feet into the air and clear across the river of cars below. He soared across the air and came down on the opposite roof in a tuck-and-roll. He then broke into a sprint across the roof, and when he reached the end, he made another incredible leap across the street to the next building. He continued this, one building after the next, never losing speed, doing hurdles across the city skyline.

Finally, he made it to the Misty Canyon. The destruction clearly was seen in the moonlight. Even the maglev line which ran through the canyon had a large gape in it, cutting off its transportation service. Construction crews were still on the scene with investigators nearby.

As silent as a mouse, the Prowler stalked closer to the construction site, avoiding any light. He was so well at this that he appeared as nothing but a shadow to the distant eye. When he reached his desired point, he braced himself once more and leapt thirty metres to a maglev rail still suspended through the canyon. He landed on it with a superb balance, like a flying squirrel landing on a branch. Then he took off again into the air another fifteen metres and landed in the wide mouth of a sewer pipe on the other side of the canyon.

Inside the pipe, he lifted his mask and removed the sunglasses. He closed his eyes and when he opened them the strangest thing occurred. An eerie white light began to glow from within his large pupils, illuminating everything in his line of site. He began to run through as a stream of water flowed passed his feet and out the pipe. He ran five miles through pipes and sewers before reaching a large open chamber where he was met by other channels leading into different sewers. Looking down, he saw that the chamber dropped into a bottomless chasm. He paused for a moment, his eyes closed as if in a trance. Then a moment later, he leapt over the chasm to a pipe across from him. At its mouth there were bars that at one point seemed to have sealed it. But now they were bent out of position and disfigured, leaving a gapping hole large enough for something big to pass though. The Prowler looked at it for a while as if to study it before proceeding through. He continued on his sprint for several miles before reaching the end of the pipe. There were more bars here, but they too were gnarled and twisted out, suggesting that someone or something with incredible strength had escaped. But from where? The Prowler’s answer laid just outside of this pipe.

A large iron lid, placed there to seal up some kind of damage, blocked the way leading out of the pipe. Suddenly, a small blast blew off the covering, and out jumped the Prowler.

As he looked around, he seemed to be in a boiler room of sorts. The place was black with darkness. Around him, he could hear pipes dripping, and incandescent lights flickering, struggling to stay lit with what little power they could draw. The place also seemed empty, not a soul was present. As he walked through the maze of pipes, air ducts, and boilers, his radiant eyes guiding his way, all he could hear was his own footsteps. Finally, he made it over to an open elevator shaft. He leapt in and grabbed hold of the cables, and began to climb up with the ease of a spider. He climbed all the way up until a stuck elevator prevented him from ascending any higher. He reached another level that had the elevator doors slightly ajar, allowing him to slide through. Trusting nothing but his instincts, he proceeded forth.

He passed into a metallic looking hallway lit by fluorescent lights, but like the lights in the boiler room, they too were flickering on and off. At the other end of the hallway, there were automatic doors that were obviously locked. Apparently, a kind of key card was required to enter. The Prowler just stood there with his eyes closed. Once again he seemed to be in a trance. Then slowly he opened his eyes as if a revelation came to him, and he ran down the hall full speed. As he got closer to the doors he did not slow down. It seemed as if he was going to run right into them, but just before he crashed into the doors, he jump forward. Then suddenly, like something out of a horror movie, he changed. It was as if he became something intangible and lost all substance, like a shadow in a mist. It was as if he became a ghost. And in this apparition-like form, he passed right through the doors, not stymied by its solid matter, like a phantom.

As soon as he made it to the other side, the Prowler manifested himself back into his physical form. He stood up to collect himself. As he looked around he discovered that he was in an abandoned laboratory facility. It was dimly lit by whatever light sources remained. The place was completely deserted, and it appeared that whoever was in here had left in a haste. The reason for this was obvious: the place was utterly destroyed by what seemed to be a fire or a shoot out. There were scorch marks and bullet holes everywhere. All the computers and monitors were destroyed. There was shattered glass, lose wiring, bits of rubble on the floor, and sparks still crackling from the ceiling. There were large glass tanks and what appeared to be a metal sarcophagus. What they were meant to hold was a mystery.

On a closer inspection, however, it seemed that the people that were here were conducting some kind of biological experiment. And most startling was the fact that these tanks were just the right size to hold a human being.

Naturally, the Prowler had a bad feeling about this. As he crept closer to the steel sarcophagus, he noticed that it had been violently ripped open- from the inside. It became clear that whatever these people were up to, it was against the laws of nature. And it was also clear that whatever was in this tank had broken free.

The Prowler began to look for any computers that still seemed functional so he could extract any vital information. He wanted to know what exactly these people were up to. Unfortunately, all the computers were damaged or violently smashed apart, rendering them useless. He tried searching for other things that might be of use. He slowly moved over to a pile of debris in a dusty corner. As he looked over it, his keen eyes caught a glimpse of a white lab coat. He picked it up and through the bloodstains that covered it he saw the most peculiar emblem knitted into its fabric:

AE

It was the Apollo Endeavours emblem.

That was it. That was all he needed to get to the source of what destroyed the Misty Canyon. Apollo Endeavours owned this facility. But what would this multi-billion dollar corporation have to do with that catastrophe, the Prowler thought to himself. From there he was determined to get to the bottom of this.

He was about to leave when suddenly he froze, as if he heard something. Yet there was nothing but silence. Then moments later the sound of many footsteps began to grow and seemed to be getting closer. The Prowler began to frantically turn his head, trying to find a place to hide. But then just as he moved, he heard the click of a gun cocking. “FREEZE!” called a voice from behind him. The Prowler stood there motionless. “PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR AND GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES!” The Prowler did as he was told. By now, the sound of the footsteps had turned into present men who appeared to be of some kind of task force. They were dressed like a SWAT team, wearing black body armour, a helmet with a mask, and carrying assault riffles. But he knew that they weren’t SWAT because they had no markings identifying them with the police. They came in like soldiers and surrounded the Prowler, forming a circle around him and the officer that was holding him at gun point. “What are you doing here?” demanded the officer. “This area’s restricted!” The Prowler remained silent with his hands still in the air. The officer than pressed the barrel of the gun against the back of the Prowlers head, just to let him know that he was serious. “I’ll ask you one more time,” said the officer. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” Still, the Prowler refused to speak. The men in front of him were staring at his eyes, transfixed and bewildered by their threatening glow. “That’s it,” said the officer. He raised his hand and gave a signal. Then one of the men fired a dart directly at the Prowler. Immediately he ducked out of the way, and in one motion he spun around with a floor sweep, kicking the officer behind him off his feet. Immediately, the Prowler grabbed the gun barrel and twisted it away as it went off. Then with his elbow he delivered a blow to the officer’s chest, shattering his bones. At that moment, the rest of the men opened fire, aiming for the Prowler. Instantly, he dematerialized again back into that phantom-like state, and to him it seemed as if each of the bullets had slowed down drastically and gently passed through his cloudy form. A second later, he materialized to find that the bullets had intersected each other, and took out half of the men surrounding him.

The remaining men couldn’t believe what they just saw and were scared stiff. Then suddenly, electricity seemed to sprawl from the Prowler’s shoulders and down his arms. From there the current split into his index and middle fingers, and when he closed these two figures together, a stream of electricity shot out from both his hands and struck the men down. They were all left paralyzed on the ground. One of the men tried to mumble, but his mouth was stricken with paralysis. The Prowler’s hands were smoking like cinders and he ripped the gloves off, which were burning his flesh. But when he looked at his naked hands there were fine, only the tips of his figures were red. Suddenly, he heard one of the men move. He was radioing for backup.

At that moment, he heard a completely new squadron of security personnel on their way to his location. It seemed as if they were coming from all corners and he knew they would be there any second. Then once again he went into a trance like state, and when he awoke he turned his gaze to a large wall in the laboratory, looking at its centre. Just as the security forces entered, he leapt across the lab and went straight through the wall like a ghost. They did not see him do this, all they saw as they came in were their comrades lying motionless on the floor.

They looked around searching every corner for him, yet they couldn’t find him. One of them put on a pair of high tech-looking goggles and began to scan the area. As he looked around, seeing through walls and objects, he discovered a secret room on another floor behind the wall, and he found the Prowler as well. “He’s in the vault!” he shouted to his comrades as they all followed him there.

Meanwhile, the Prowler was in this white circular vault. He looked around and saw nothing but emptiness. Then something reflective caught his attention, and he noticed a narrow glass enclosure in the wall. He looked at it from across the room then slowly walked towards it with caution. As he got closer he noticed that within it was a strange looking suit. He was drawn towards it. When he reached the enclosure he placed his hand on the glass and gazed at the fine work that was put into its craft. It seemed to be of an onyx black leathery silk. It was so dark that it consumed all light that hit it, and at certain angles, would spit it back at you in minute indigo reflections. It was beautiful to behold. His admiring was interrupted by the stampeding officers. They had made it to the room.

The large vault door was holding them off, but then a sharp laser broke through and began to cut the door open. There was no place for the Prowler to go, nowhere for him to hide. He couldn’t leap back out into the laboratory because there were surely more of those soldiers waiting for him out there. He was trapped. The vault door was inches away from being open. Then like a bolt of lightening, he had an idea. He looked at the suit, studied it for minute, stood back, and in a heartbeat he was gone.

Seconds later, the security personnel broke into the vault. But to their surprise the Prowler had vanished. They ran in and saw not a soul in sight, other than themselves. “Where’d he go?” said one of the men.

“He couldn’t have escaped,” said another.

“It doesn’t matter,” said a third officer walking in. “We found what we were looking for.” His eyes were looking at the suit. “Tell the boss that we’ve recovered the Knight Suit. Grab it and let’s get the hell out of here.”

At that command, two officers ran over to the enclosure. One of them took out a sharp knife with a short curved blade, and scored it along the frame of the glass. Then with a blow from his elbow, he shattered the glass, creating an easy access to the suit. “Wow, look at it,” he said as he caressed the arm of the suit. “Hey, help me get this thing off of here,” he said to the other as he attempted the remove the suit from its mannequin. His partner came over but was stopped in his tracks as he noticed that clothes were lying on the floor. Black clothes.

“Hey, Eddie. You better look at this,” he said.

“What the hell–” said the officer near the suit. A pair of black pants, a shirt, running shoes, and a ski mask were lying in a pile on the floor. Then miraculously, the suit in the enclosure came to life, grabbed the man by the throat, and threw him back ten feet. The other officer was scared stupid and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The suit suddenly jumped out of the enclosure and struck the officer down. It was no mannequin underneath that suit. The Prowler had vanished into it and took possession like some demon.

He paused for a moment to gather himself. The suit felt strange on him. At first it wasn’t his size and felt awkward and uncomfortable. But gradually the suit began to somehow alter, eliminating all the creases and wrinkles, as if it was shrinking to his size. Soon it sat perfectly to match the exact contours of his body, even accentuating his muscular definition a little. He looked at the shards of glass that lay in the enclosure and saw his reflection. The metallic collar that lined his neck was like two silver strips woven into a braid. It was the same at his wrists, ankles, and waist. The new mask that he wore was as black as the suit itself, and all that could be seen on it were two strangely shaped lenses, ominously glowing red from the bioluminescent eyes behind them.

Soon, a group of personnel came storming into the vault and opened fire. The Prowler didn’t have time to react and was caught in the path of the bullets. But this was no ordinary suit that he was wearing. As the bullets hit him, they merely bounced off the surface of the suit as the point of impact seemed to liquefy a little, only to solidify once more. The Prowler was stunned but remained on his feet. Immediately the men advanced on the Prowler. They knew that this suit was special and that they would now have to resort to other methods to bring him down. Some used billy-clubs others used their fists. All the while none of them made contact. Like a mongoose, he dodged in and out of their strikes, and he moved with an inhuman agility, as if he wasn’t of solid material.

Yet suddenly one lucky shot sent him tumbling. As he landed on his right leg, he felt something long and slender attached to the side of his thigh. He looked at it to see that there was a narrow pouch along the length of his thigh, and he quickly pulled out what was inside. It appeared to be a short billy-club of some sort, about two feet in length, and it was covered with a black, glossy polish. Meanwhile the men were creeping towards him, obviously afraid of him.

As the Prowler continued to examine this strange object, he noticed that its centre was soft and cushy. When he squeezed it, the two ends of the club simultaneously extended to five times their length, creating a 2.2m long quarter staff.

Just as the men were about to advance on him once more, the Prowler sprang back on to his feet and began wielding the staff with the skill and finesse of a martial artist. He blocked shots and returned with counter attacks, striking his opponents in the chest, head, and whacking them across the face, his staff an extension of his arm. He sent four different men flipping off their feet by striking them behind their knees. He spun around and sent two other men flying back. And for the last man standing he jumped with a round house kick across his face and landed with a floor sweep to knock him down. The vault was riddled with bodies.

Like a ghost, he leapt through the wall and back out into the laboratory. But when he landed he was greeted by another team of personnel. “All right, boys,” said one of them, “break out the B.I.G. guns!” At that command, two men stepped forward carrying weaponry the likes of which the Prowler had never seen. They were two beasts of assault riffles, looking as if they had somehow mutated. They seemed quite hefty, and appeared to be some nightmarish hybrid between a flamethrower and a railgun, perhaps a military experiment that this facility had also been working on. The two men instantly opened fire as the Prowler leapt out of the way. The stray bullets tore through the lab, ripping apart support beams and equipment, shredding through concrete and steal alike as the two rifles screamed in agony. Seeing this, the Prowler knew that this strange suit won’t protect him from this artillery from hell, so he broke into a sprint to take cover. Standing in place the men blasted after him, creating a trail of bullet holes in his wake. At the same time, the other officers were forced to take cover from their trigger-happy partners. They continued firing, shooting nothing but air until their ammo ran out, the rotating barrels smoking like cigars.

They looked around and saw no sign of him. “Yeah, we got that son of bitch,” boasted one of them as he slapped the other five. The others slowly began to stand up, taking caution. The lab was twice as devastated as it was before. A piece of rubble fell from the ceiling and cracked one of the men on his head, knocking him out. More debris then followed and rained down on them as the ceiling began to collapse where the support beams were blown out. The team scattered and took cover as the roof came crashing down.

Moments later, they climbed back onto their feet, covered with dirt and debris, and as they looked up they saw a large gaping hole that used to be a ceiling. Amazed by the damage they just caused, they slowly walked towards a huge pile of rubble lying beneath the opening, then stopped in their tracks. To their horror, the Prowler instantly emanated from the rubble like steam and shifted back into his body, standing confidently atop the rubble Knight Suit and all. The men were like statues with their jaws hanging open.

“Thanks for the suit…” the Prowler said. And with that he leapt right out of the opening in the ceiling and disappeared into the night.

My eyes were open. What I had just seen changed the way I look at myself, and what I thought I new about my world. But then I realized that this was all a dream. Was it real? I didn’t know. I couldn’t tell anymore. But then the surroundings began to fade, and the forest, the House, they all started to disappear. Then there was light, and before I knew it, I was awake.

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