Monday, January 31, 2011

Star Crossed

for Mom and Dad

They were made for each other. That much was clear. Made together by the universe, he would say, so they would never feel alone again. But free will as it were, would get the best of them. Taking them from the moment they met, and pulling them apart forever. As he lied on his deathbed, he knew of only one regret. That he did not tell her how he truly felt when he had the chance.

He would pass on to wander the galaxies and she would walk the lonely earth. Both destined to always be just out of reach, and that much short of true happiness. When given the chance to go on to heaven, he would decline. For there was only one place he wish to spend eternity, and that was in her embrace, at the center of her heart. But what he did not know, is that he was already there. On the outside, she would go on living as if nothing was wrong. Taking on lovers to find what she was missing, but always coming up short.

That piece of her heart which left the hole, floated out in space with him, between earth and heaven. In knowing that he could never get back, he desperately searched the galaxies to no avail, for a life where they were not missing each other. And instead of admitting their mistakes, they would stare, through the windows of the universe, at one another, neither of which able to make the first move. When really... if they wanted to, they could reconnect. But sadly, neither felt that they deserved the other anymore.

And so he would wait and use his exile to gather his thoughts. For when the time came, he would be prepared and know exactly what to tell her. If ever given the chance again, he would say...

When I look in your eyes I see every color of the universe, and I know we are complete. How just knowing you, makes me want to push through any and every tragedy, in hopes of seeing you again. You make me want to be a better person, the person you see in me. Nothing in this world can give me hope like you do. You are my light, my happiness, my salvation, my one true counterpart. You are my soul mate. And I will always love you, from this lifetime to the next, I will never be alone again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What is the Two Suns Prophecy?

Will Jack Hanover survive or is it just a matter of time before Philip Dresden resurfaces?

And what has become of the Storm Harvester?

Find out the answers to all these questions and more...
in the upcoming chapters of
Flood of Darkness

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flood of Darkness


...Almost six months ago...

Jack walked outside for the fresh air, but that is not what he got. The polluted urban stores smelled of odd meats and foreign spices. De-feathered chickens and ducks hung outside the small food stores. Each and every store owner was of Asian decent. This was off-putting to Jack at first. Growing up in Oklahoma, he was not used to such diversity. After more than a moment's thought, it became clear... Jack was out of place in this big city. And all he wanted to do was go home and see his wife.

He walked into the closest shop and bought a soda. The can cracked open and the refreshingly cold soft drink settled his anxiety. He walked back out to the street and stood on the curb, sipping his Coca-Cola, observing this fair city's ethnic underbelly. It was midday now and business was occurring all around him, as usual. A fish market across the street seemed to be the center of all the commotion. That is when the adjacent alley caught Jack's attention.

Down the alleyway, a kid was being thrown against the wall by two thugs.

Jack ran down the alley yelling, "HEY!" But they did not stop. When Jack got to them, his army training kicked in immediately. His first attempt to subdue one of the thugs went successfully. Taking them by surprise by his unrequited intervention. While still sprinting, Jack drops the first thug with a forearm to the neck, freeing the kid. The other thug whips out a switchblade.

Jack hesitates. Instead of fight or flight, he tells the kid to, "RUN!" And in doing so, Jack lowers his guard and gets stabbed in the side. He exhales an empty sigh of shock. The thug runs away in the other direction. Leaving Jack, gasping on the dirty floor, leaking his blood into the broken pavement. His senses are tinged around the edges. Jack lies helplessly staring at the curbside he was just standing at. He watches as the people walk by; and he thinks about how clearly he saw that kid being mugged from there, wondering how none of these people had the common decency to help him.

Jack stretched out his hand and grabbed the ground, pulling himself over to the wall. He props himself up with his elbow, and falls his shoulder onto the wall. With the new structural support Jack can get his legs under him and pushes himself to his feet. His hands too busy clenching the knife wound. Blood smears down the alleyway wall as it trails Jack, who is desperately trying to get back to his apartment... just across the street.

Dr. Randolph sits inside the apartment. Busy analyzing Jack's blood and looking over his charts on a small desk set up on the other side of the living room from Jack's bed. Besides the kitchen and the bathroom, the desk and bed made up the entire interior decor of their place.

The door almost breaks as it snaps open. Jack stumbles in, in the same distress as before in the alleyway. "Ph- Jack!"
"It's okay it's okay."
"What happened?"

Jack sits on the bed and takes his coat off. Blood is still everywhere, but he is no longer panicking. "Some punk stabbed me."
"Right out on the street?...In the middle of the day?"
"In the alleyway," Jack went on as Dr. Randolph tried to examine the wound, "I was helping a kid." The doctor looked but could find nothing. It had happened again. This time much quicker.

Dr. Randolph grunted.
"What is it Doc?"
"Your condition might be accelerating."
"There's only one way to find out for sure..."
"Doc?" Jack stood up, reluctantly giving in to what Dr. Randolph was insinuating.

Dr. Randolph walked out from the kitchen with a knife and stuck it in Jack's arm.

"DOC!" he jumps back, "A BUTTER KNIFE!?"

Jack throws the knife on the floor; insulted. Dr. Randolph unflinchingly observes the pulsing wound on Jack's arm. The veins in his arm, around the wound, turn blue like the plant. Blood squirts out at first, but is sealed back in his body. Dr. Randolph wipes Jack's arm with a towel. There is no scab, nor any scar tissue. The skin just reconnects and intensifies.

"Amazing..." Dr. Randolph exclaims.

Jack walks away from him. "That's enough testing for today," he says as he slams the door behind him. He covers the ripped and stained shirt with a different, clean black jacket (Randolph's jacket). Jack walks back outside, down the stoop, and back onto the sidewalk. He feels no different from before. No fear in the law-abandoned streets of Chinatown grip him. He was a soldier. One thing was for sure though, he wasn't in Oklahoma anymore. He looks around for any signs of the thugs, rubbing his side (where the wound was).

"There he is!" a kid says behind him, "That's the man right there, Grandfather."
Jack turned around to see an old Asian man with a long white mustache and goatee, holding the shoulder of his grandson, the same kid Jack saved in the alleyway.
"Come with me," the old man says earnestly. Ushering Jack with his thin wooden cane.

They walk next door into one of the shops. The old man follows behind Jack, poking his side, mumbling, "Where is it?" "Where is your wound?" They bring Jack through the storefront and downstairs to an empty dojo.
"My grandfather would like to thank you for saving me with a free lesson."
"No thanks, kid. I'm already trained."
"Where is your wound...from the alleyway?" The old man says still prodding and poking.
"No wound. Kevlar." Jack insisted. "Does your grandfather understand me?" Jack leans in close to the old man's face, shouting, "...KEV....LAR...."

The old man does a backspin, tripping Jack off his feet with a kick. Jack's back hits the mat and he blocks another blow to the face. Jack tries to get back up, but cannot. The old man continues to trip him up, spinning around the mat, laughing. His technique is youthful. He is swift and precise. He fights fluently, never wasting a breath. Jack is out of moves. He lays back, winded. The grandfather stands over him.

"What good is being indestructible if you cannot get off the floor?"

"Leave me alone old man, I'm havin' a bad day."

"You have a tremendous gift, Philip Dresden. I can show you how to harness it."

"How do you know my real name?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flood of Darkness


"... This is Jack Hanover.

I am writing this journal to document the life of DarkFlood.

It has been six months since I returned from Afghanistan with Doc Randolph. Back then, I was known by a different name. More on that later...

Since, I have taken up residence in New York City and the identity of the masked vigilante, DarkFlood. The decision did not come easy, and for which I shall chronicle the first six months of this new life carefully for you now, to better understand my entries later.
Before I go any further, or waste anymore time there are a few key things I must cover. The first is that I will not be able to do this forever. For whatever reason I possess this anomaly inside of me, and so I owe fate for this gift, and use it to protect the community from the killers and thieves.

But a time will come when my powers and advantages will no longer be unique to this earth. According to prophecy, after the days of Two Suns...Every living thing on the planet will unwillingly fall victim to a blast wave from a far off exploding star. The particles in the blast wave will kill no one, but alter everyone's entity; advancing us all into a new superior species.

This is the story of Earth's first Super Human.

In a time when they still aren't considered real. And the nostalgia of a caped crusader watching over and protecting the good and innocent people has not been wasted on a desensitized youth.

Six months I have spent training and jumping off rooftops, but at first I could not even get out of bed in the morning...

...Six Months Ago...

The room was dark, but he was not blind. A bandaged cast covered his face, along with the rest of his body. He had not moved from this spot in bed for days. His bones were shattered and his skin was nearly burnt off. But the heart beat monitor next to him was showing excellent vitals. He could not go to the hospital. He would have to give them a name. They might find him. Here, they could not find him. No ties or affiliations in his entire life led back to New York City. No matter, he could no longer use his original name. And Dr. Randolph told him the last time he visited, "to use this time of solitude to start figuring out the minor details of your new life."

So there he sat, alone in an empty apartment. He tried to look out the windows. Maybe he was atop one of those tall city skyscrapers. It must have been too far into the night, for he could not see enough out the window to come to a decision. Randolph was right, his only choice might be to just grind out the answers to those lingering questions he's been avoiding, like, "What is your new name going to be?" and, "What will you do for work?" But what he really wanted to ask himself was, "How can I get my wife back?"

He would need a common name, like John Smith, but not as obvious. The name Jack came to mind. Jack tried his new name out on himself. He didn't mind it. 'Well that wasn't hard', he thought. Now he needed a good last name to go by. He thought about his fallen troops in the Hindu Kush. Gibson, Alvarez, Faulkner, or Hawkins were all good candidates for a name. No, they all could potential draw government attention to him. They would be expecting him to do something rational like that. Jack had to be irrational right now. He had to be random, unbiased, untraceable.

He spent the next few minutes thinking of different people he knew to use by adapting or ruling out. He did like Jack. And was comfortable calling himself Jack. He tried thinking of random iconic words for last names, "Jack Kennedy....Jack Daniels....Jack Madison....Jack Columbus...." He considered Jack Columbus for a second, it didn't sound half bad. Somewhat contrived, but original, a name he's never really heard before. ..."Jack Columbus"... he thought to himself, alone, stuck in the cast.

The next morning he was woken up by the door unlocking. Only, one other person had a key. Dr. Randolph walked through the doors. He was in his street clothes carrying a large white paper bag. After he took out the antibiotics and pain killers, Dr. Randolph began to talk, "I got you a social security card and birth certificate," he told him, "Your new birthday is March 22, 1981, which means you'll be turning 30 this March."

Dr. Randolph brought the birth certificate over to where he could see it. "And as for your name," Dr. Randolph continued, "I went with..." He read it on the paper the same exact time Randolph said it aloud, "John Hanover." Randolph paused and waited for a reaction. "I got it from...a map...believe it or not," the good Doctor had himself a laugh, "could have thrown a dart at it really, and I changed the lettering in it by removing an 'N'" He organized the pills, "It's virtually impossible to track back to you."

Dr. Randolph watched as he looked up and said through the mask of bandages, "I was already set on Jack."
Randolph laughed again and replied, "You can still be Jack."
Jack said it to himself over and over again quietly as Dr. Randolph began to administer his meds and change his bandages.

"...John Hanover...Jack...Jack Hanover...Jack...Hanover..."

"Jack Hanover," Dr. Randolph knighted him, "just another working class man in the largest city in America." He pulled the leg casts off as he dissembled the body portion of it. He leaned Jack over as he pulled off the back. "Am I hurting you?"
"I'm fine, Doc" Jack said with a tensed voice. The cast slid off his back too quick and Jack slipped off the bed. Dr. Randolph scrambled and could only catch the piece of cast he was removing, he looked at it closely. Black skin and charred blood layered it. Scar tissue that must have healed onto the bandages. Dr. Randolph had just ripped off the new skin his patient had spent the last week reforming. He looked down to give Jack a hand. But he was already on his hands and feet trying to stand up.


"I'm healed" announced Jack as he pulled the rest of the cast and bandages off. To both their surprise, all the wounds, breaks, and burns were gone. He looked like his old self again. But he knew that meant nothing.

"How can this be?" begged Dr. Randolph.

Jack knew, but wondered if he should tell Randolph. He already was in too deep, having saved him from Fitzsimons. If he did not tell him now, with the proof before his eyes, his doctor and only friend would think he's insane. So Jack told Randolph about the Storm Harvester and the Divine Catalyst, he told him about the plant, and Fitzsimons. Afterward, Jack would wait silently and gauge Randolph's response.

"That's why I found you being held in the air by two lightning bolts?"

"That's right, Doc."
Jack walked over to the window to finally see where he was in the great New York City. He stood by the giant pane glass window and looked down. They were not more than two stories above the ground. This apartment was inside a tiny two story building, surrounded by other lackluster apartment buildings with unrecognizable shops; all of which surrounded by giant skyscrapers.
"Where are we?" Jack asked Randolph.


Jack put his hand on the glass, it felt cold on his palm. The thrill of being okay overwhelmed him. He rubbed his hands together and looked at his face through the reflection in the window. He was half expecting to come out of all this with a new deformed face. But he looked uncannily the same; short soldier-issued length jet black hair, dark complexion, and worn down eyes. This was the face of Philip Dresden, not Jack Hanover. He could change all the names and people in his life, but could he truly run away from the ghosts of his past?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Revolution Factory welcomes the year 2011 and new beginnings with the revamp of Philip Dresden in Flood of Darkness!

With Chapter 10,
Flood of Darkness will turn its tide, keeping all the things you love about it while changing itself entirely.

Stay tuned in to the
Revolution Factory to see what the future holds. And watch out for a new series coming soon...

The Weekly Bystander

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flood of Darkness


Philip shook the Doctor by the collar. "Tell me where it is!" "Tell me what it is!" The Doctor did not let a single word out. Philip was enraged and ready to hit him. "Bravo team come in."
"Return to the caves and gather any data on the plant."
"Is the kind doctor being modest?"
"Find me that plant, Sergeant."
"Yes sir."
Philip smacked the Doctor in the face with the back of his fist. The Doctor started laughing. Philip walked over to him and knelt down, "What is so funny?"
"We saw your cameras American."
Philip stood up, almost too shocked to move. The Doctor went on laughing, "We knew you were coming days ago." Philip tried to radio Sergeant Rex. The door opened, it was Smith, "Sir we've got incoming tangos across the board, foot, convoy, and aerial" The tower sounded off. Faulkner firing his rifle from the blind. "Get Faulkner we're evacuating." Philip tried his radio again. The signal was jammed. "Smith!" screamed Colonel Philip Dresden. "Get HQ on the land line, I'll get Faulkner."
"What about him, sir?"
Philip looked back at the Doctor. "Kill him."
Philip left the room and Smith clicked the safety off. From a window he could see a tank at the head of the convoy, firing on them. The impact shook the base. As Philip climbed the ladder to Faulkner's blind the Doctor finished choking Smith to death after kicking his rifle away on the impact of the tank blast and escaped from the hideout. When Philip recovered Faulkner and got back downstairs, they didn't even see Smith's dead body in the room. Instead they fled to the caves.

The convoy was coming up on them quick. Faulkner told the Colonel to go. He turned around. Got on one knee and fired his rifle. The sniper bullet blew back a gunner firing on them. Philip ran ahead and got to the mouth of the cave. There was smoke and gunfire everywhere. "REX!" he yelled out. "REX!"
"Colonel Dresden!" yelled out a voice. Philip ran over to him. It was Hawkins the medic, knelt down beside Gibson who was bleeding immensely from his gut. "Sir," Hawkins panicked, "He needs an EVAC.... now!"
"Where's Sergeant Rex?"
"Up ahead holding the line. Its only him and Connors left. They came out of nowhere, sir."
"Its okay son, stay here. Help is coming." Philip moved up ahead. He crawled up to the clearing with his M4A1 ready. He could hear Private Connors' M60 pounding round after round into the air. He caught up to their flank. "Alvarez is dead sir," Sergeant Rex reported.
"They've got us on every side. Do you have radio?"
"No sir, where's Smith?"
"I left him back with the medic."
"What do we do sure?"
"Did you find anything in the caves?"
"Just some notes..."
Philip examined the notes as Rex went on, "Alvarez was going on about something but that's when the radios went out."
"Where's his body?"
"Back in the cave."
"I'm going in, cover me!" Colonel Philip Dresden made a run for it and his team covered him. A bombshell hit the mountain and shook the cave walls as he got inside, vibrating the smoke all around him. Philip was haunted by the ghost of past hells and horrors. He never thought he would be back here. He looked down on the floor with blue eyes from the beyond, a floor in which he was reduced to nothing. Philip entered a room he had never been in before.
There was Alvarez's crushed head in the middle of the room. A boulder must have dislodged from the roof and fell on him. Before him was a cart. Around it were various shelves of operating utensils, hammers, and knives. At the top of the cart was a gorgeous plant with blue veins. Philip could not believe it. In fact, it felt like another one of his dreams. But no, this was all too real.

Faulkner kept pressure on the wound as Hawkins tried to stitch it up. A tank shell hit just near them and threw more dirt into the air. A piece of shrapnel nicked Hawkins in the neck, and blood came spilling out onto the sandy floor. He fell over and Faulkner covered him trying to find the wound. Hawkins choked and gargled his breath. His eyes rolled back and he began to tire. Faulkner wiped the blood away but could not stop it. Hawkins closed his eyes. Faulkner wrapped the neck wound and returned to Gibson and checked his vitals. Philip ran out of the caves and crouched down next to Faulkner in the dust. "Hawkins and Gibson are both dead, sir."

Philip got down next to them and pulled a leaf off of the plant. He rubbed it on their faces, but nothing happened. He tried there chests but they did not stir. Perhaps this wasn't the plant. A shot rang out, Faulkner fell forward, and Philip caught him. The bullet went right through his body armor. With the leaf still in his hand, Philip lunged his hand into Faulkner's chest. He reached into the burning wound still open in his body. Philip could feel his shredded heart. He rubbed it with the leaf. He pulled his hand out with the leaf and let go of Faulkner. The soldier fell over. He did not move. More shots nipped at Philip. He raised his M4A1, covered the plant, and ran back over to Rex and Connors.
"We're all that's left." he proclaimed. Rex wiped his brow. He tried to think. "There might be a clearing just above the entrance to the cave. We get Connors to cover us now, we can make it."
"You copy that, Connors?" yelled out Philip.
"Yes sir!"
"GO! GO! GO!" Rex and Philip ran up the hill as Private Connors unloaded his machine gun. A rocket soared down from the hills and blew Philip and Rex off their feet. When Philip got back up he went to order Connors, but Connors was gone. Connors was in pieces all over the place. Philip still had the plant safe and got Rex up. They ran back down when the smoke cleared. With the cave entrance at their backs and the shanty convoy now pulling up all around them, they were surrounded. Rex fired his gun and took out two turret gunners before they took him down. Philip dropped to his knees as they all moved in on him. His entire team was dead. Would he now fail to hold onto the plant?

Thunder churned in the sky with no clouds. The pressure in the atmosphere grew thick, the air formed in tight and cracked. A bolt of lightning hit the ground but did not return to the sky. The men in the convoy were shook from their cars and trucks. When they looked before the cave, they found a lightning bolt caught in the ground. It trapped itself on Philip as he absorbed its power. The light frantically jumped, trying to get back to the sky. But it was all slowly sucked into Philip's eyes. He stood up. His eyes now glowing white with fury. He opened his palms and tiny bolts twinged between his fingers. He threw them forward at the convoy. The bolts scattered into a crashing field of electricity and blew the terrorist army off their feet.

Forming one in his hands and hurling it at each armored car, the convoy exploded down the line as the men ran off. The two helicopters Smith had reported earlier, came flying in to execute him. They fired their turrets on Philip. He opened his stance and screamed out; magnetic light emitting from his mouth. The clouds now came and covered the skies, crashing and cracking. Philip pulled the lightning down and pinned the helicopters in between. One lightning bolt cut the tail clean off the helicopter and another caught the other helicopter's pilot seat, frying him into the mainframe. They both crashed uselessly in the desert. The winds cleared the fog and Philip found himself hovering in the air. He pulled thunderbolts from his palms into their legendary form and put down the remaining jihad troops that were fleeing.

Philip floated back down to the ground. To see the awesome power of the Storm Harvester was nothing in comparison to feeling it within himself. In all his rage Philip had forgotten, there before him was the plant. All he had set out to do was now in his grasp. Finally, the full force of the Storm Harvester was upon him. He felt exhilarated, invincible. He never wanted to lose it. But look around at all the death he had wrought as the Storm Harvester. Was that the essence of his power?"...NOW..." the voice said to him.

"DO MY FINAL BIDDING AND DESTROY THE CATALYST!" Philip's feet landed back on the ground.

"What if I don't?" he resisted.


Philip held out his hand. The sparks snapped back and forth on his palm, ready to jump out and fry the plant. Philip knew he did not want to do it. But all this power was intoxicating; and if it meant self preservation, he must. Any thoughts otherwise would condemn him. And so Philip did what he had to do. He picked up the plant with his left hand and grabbed a leaf with his electric hand.

He pulled it off the plant and rubbed his eyes. The scars turned to fresh wounds, and like venom in the blood, the Storm Harvester was withdrawn from Philip by the Divine Catalyst. The clouds above him evaporated instantly. Philip began to choke as he fell onto his hands and knees, dropping the plant. The plant rolled over and the blue veins were gone. The stem cracked and the leaves dried, shriveled, and crumbled to dust. Philip felt a new presence move into his being. His body fused the two together and the pain was excruciating. Philip silently healed his entire body in a deep cosmic cleanse.

His matter shifted entirely, although he did not know it at first.

Philip Dresden got himself to open his eyes. He was laying flat on his back, alone in the middle of the Hindu Kush. A lightning storm hovered above him not quite in the sky, but between the mountain's peaks; unnaturally. Philip knew it was the Storm Harvester, frustrated, defeated; waiting. Philip had to get away. He propped himself up on his elbow and saw an armored jeep coming to a stop just by the cave entrance. Out stepped Dr. Fitzsimons, Philip saw him and tried to get on his feet.

Dr. Fitzsimons runs over to him, his hat flying off from the winds and storm above.
"What are you doin' here Fitzsimons?"
"Your radios were compromised."
Philip got his balance and felt better now that he was up. "THAT LUNATIC" he shouted, clenching his gut, "said they knew we were coming. How much did you know?"
"I'd mind your implications Colonel. Where is your team?"
Philip watched Fitzsimons face, and he was not convinced, "YOU KNOW EXACTLY!...WHERE THEY ARE!"

Philip began to walk away from Fitzsimons. "WHERE IS IT, DRESDEN?" he shouted over the sand and wind.
"What?" Philip turned back around. Fitzsimons was holding his P90 armed and ready. Philip put his hands up and backed away from the plant remnants on the ground. "You just manipulated my life to get get to this plant." He was finally beginning to put it together.

Dr. Fitzsimons punched the ashes of the dirt, "WHAT DID YOU DO TO IT!" His rage was like a flare to brewing skies of electricity watching above them. The clouds merged and cracked an injection of lightning into Dr. Fitzsimons. Philip watched on as the light, the thunder, the clouds, and the storm consumed him. They were caught and focused by the conflicting winds and spawned a twister. It raged on top of Fitzsimons and brought him in. Philip knew what was happening.

This was not unlike his initiation at the cemetery. The Storm Harvester had found its next host. Philip began to panic. The plant was gone and the universe was still here, which could only mean one thing. The Divine Catalyst was still alive. Philip had to assume it was now in him. He looked at his right hand. A print of the leaf was still on his hand, but after a closer look...the only reason he could see it was because his skin was softly lighting up.

Never mind that now, there was nowhere to run. Philip reloaded his M4A1, switching it to the grenade launcher. He had two grenades before he had to switch back. The tornado halted and slowly began to swirl the other way as it was wrangled up into Fitzsimons. The old military research scientist got back to his feet and opened his new eyes. He charged at Philip. His feet sprang their steps quicker than any man's. Philip shot the first grenade. It hit the ground and exploded just before the mad scientist, knocking him off his feet. He jumped back up and continued his charge.

The second grenade hit the ground and he dodged it cleanly. He was now in range. They both fired their primary weapons facing each other with no cover. The bullets rang past Philip's face. They reloaded and rolled away. Philip looked around the corner and did not see him. The P90 was on the floor. Philip threw his rifle away and stepped out. There waiting was Fitzsimons, holding his pistols. Philip took his desert eagle out along with the M9 pistol tucked in his back.

"It's you." Fitzsimons declared, "I...I can feel it."
"Are you gonna kill me for it?"
"No...I'm just going to kill you."
"Don't listen to that voice."

"You'll destroy the world."

The bolts of lightning blew up the pistols in both sets of hands, streaming like a sporadic whip from Fitzsimons' fingertips to Philip's chest. He was launched back off his feet and his torso torn. The Mad Scientist Fitzsimons screamed in absolute power. Fear that Fitzsimons was mastering his new gifts exponentially quicker than Philip consumed him. He pulled the winds out of the sky and lifted Philip up. The white electricity from his palms scorched Philip from face to toe and did not relent. He laid in pain, docile in the air, being tortured, and unable to do anything about it, but helplessly wait to die. Fitzsimons was flush with power, blinded by fury. Philip, out of the corner of hope, the last fire in his heart keeping the light of the Catalyst alive, heard the sounding off of the late Private Connors' machine gun.

The machine gun bullets hit Fitzsimons in the back and brought him to the ground along with Philip. Philip's smoldering body laid smoking on the desert floor. Fitzsimons' spine now shattered by the bullets, was forced to blast himself into the storm and ride the atmosphere away to recovery. To the human eyes of the man wielding the M60, Dr. Fitzsimons simply vanished.

Philip was covered in a fire blanket. His skin was charred and disfigured. He could barely move. When Philip opened his eyes he tried to see his rescuer. His sight was mangled and askew, unable to comprehend. He lifted his hand to his face and rubbed his eyes. He opened them back up and when Philip once again tried to identify the man helping him he could see clearly.

"Doc..." he mumbled, wrapped in the blanket, "...You saved me..."

"I told you not to trust that guy." Dr. Randolph picked Philip Dresden up and helped him walk over to his helicopter. Philip's skin was already looking better. The swelling and blistering were going down; the disfigurements vanishing.

He closed the door, locked Philip's seat belt on, started the helicopter, and prepared for take off. Philip kept rambling on in his unconsciousness about the Harvester and Catalyst. Dr. Randolph assumed he was just delirious. He flew the copter low, under the radar, until he reached international waters. The helicopter headed safely home for the United States of America.

Philip Dresden's life would forever change. No one could ever know what transpired here, or else he would spend the rest of his life under a microscope. Not to mention what would happen if somehow the Divine Catalyst inside him was destroyed. There's only one way in which he could see such a scenario unfolding...his own death.

The government and military would never find Colonel Philip Dresden again (in Afghanistan or in the US). In the upcoming months they would consider both him and Dr. Fitzsimons to be KIA (Killed In Action). He could never go back to the army or return home. His old life was gone. Instead he would make a new one. He would have to start over, and leave everything, including the name Philip Dresden and his life as a soldier, behind.


Philip walked down the ramp of the plane. A wave of heat and familiarity came over him. He felt like a private again. An itch on his nose and he was back novelizing over his service in Afghanistan. Philip could not help but compare the difference now. Aside from the bluish tinge over his eyesight, he felt more confident, stronger, and eager than ever. Perhaps it was the new sensations he was feeling after his confrontation with the Storm Harvester. Perhaps it was the prospect of retrieving that mysterious plant. Either way, Philip was excited to get going on his path.

It was mid day. The sun at its hottest. But Philip liked it. It was the most wonderful shade of golden amber yellow, tweaked around the edges by a bluish tint. When they walked into the camp both Philip and Dr. Fitzsimons were presented with arms and supplies. Colonel Dresden suited up first with a Kevlar vest. A small tube poked his neck. He felt along its side with his fingers. It led to his vest. In fact, when he thought about it, his entire abdomen and back felt cool. Philip's Kevlar vest was lined with a thin layer of refrigerated water. "This is new," he said aloud. He sucked on the tube and cool H20 came rushing into his mouth. He put a camouflage vest on over the Kevlar, leaving his arms bare. Philip wrapped a utility belt around his waist and a grenade belt around his shoulder. He picked up a M4A1 Carbine with a grenade launcher attachment, and an ACOG scope, locked and loaded the rifle, and then strapped it around his other shoulder. And finally he picked up an M9 pistol, took a quick pause, put it back down, and picked up a different sidearm, a Desert Eagle .50.

"That's not all that's changed, Colonel," said one of the MP's, "Since the attack on our base last October, we've been permitted to take extra precautions." Philip loaded the Desert Eagle and holstered it. "About damn time," he said in defiance. Finally, giving it to the very organization that started all this in the first place. But still, he was happy to be back. Philip picked up extra magazines of ammo and loaded them into his utility belt, as he watched Fitzsimons get ready. The doctor already had a vest on and was putting two M9 pistols into their holsters on his hips. After that, he picked up a P90 sub machine gun with a red dot sight, and loaded up with P90 magazines. They both nodded to each other and headed into the headquarters. Behind Fitzsimons, Philip slipped the M9 pistol he put down into his belt on his back, and followed Fitzsimons into the building.

When they got into the Command Center, their team was waiting. Seven soldiers ready for combat. There was Rex the Sergeant of the platoon. He was sun burnt and his brow was heavy. He sat in his chair chomping on an unlit cigar. After Rex was Connors the heavy gunner, Faulkner their sniper, Smith and Alvarez on assault, Gibson the demo guy, and the medic Hawkins. Philip greeted them all, "What do we have so far?"
"Before you got here," Sergeant Rex explained, "We retrieved intel on the current location of the jihad sect that held you in the caves."

"Good job, boys." Philip continued, "So where are they?"
"That's the thing, Boss" Alvarez spoke up polishing his rifle, "They've rotated back into to very cave hideout they tortured you in."
"We have the entire place bugged and a hideout a half of click North outfitted with live feeds from the caves," Sergeant Rex added.
"Is anyone there now?" Philip was ready to act.
"Two sentries awaiting our arrival, sir" Smith answered.
"What are we waiting for then?"
"Orders, sir" Rex unfortunately concluded.
Philip looked over at Fitzsimons. He responded to the group, "I'll...see what I can do." Then he left the room. "Anyone know what's holding us up?"
"Afghani government wants UN troops to bring them in, not us" Rex explained.
"Do they know what happened to me in there?" Philip protested.

"They do now..." Gibson blurted out, "You think we know all this stuff from your case report? Maybe...Also might be the fact that your story has been floating around this base for months now."
"Gibbs is right," Faulkner said while spitting into a paper cup, "Colonel you're more popular than Santa over here."
"You're more popular than Godzilla." Hawkins laughed.
"You're more popular than the Duke, boss"
"Is that a John Wayne reference, Alvarez?" pointed out Rex.
"What? A Mexican can't like John Wayne?"

They all kicked back and had a laugh at Alvarez's expense. That is when Fitzsimons came back into the room. "Your mission is a go." They team cheered and jumped up, gathering and preparing their equipment.

"Primary objective?"
Philip was handed the briefing folder by Fitzsimons, "Extract blue plant by any means necessary. Take no prisoners." Philip was taken aback. But he did not want to rock the boat, especially when he had gotten exactly what he wanted. "Are you coming with us?"
"You've got it from here, Colonel" Fitzsimons shook Philip's hand and left the room after his team.

On the way there Philip sat in the Humvee with Faulkner, their best shot. Philip's head was throbbing. It appears that spending the entire day looking at the world through a blue filter can take its toll on one's eyes. "Does it hurt?" Faulkner asked subtly.
"Yes it does." Philip said to no relief, "But its better than not seeing at all."
"What is it..." Faulkner did not know how to phrase it, "that let's you see?"
"I'm not sure. That's what I'm hope finding this plant will explain."

They got to the hideout and their armored escorts left the team. "Smith radio HQ and tell them we've made it to Zulu Point." ordered Rex.
"Yes sir."
Alvarez and Rex sat down at the monitors. They caught up on the gang's tracking and patrol routes. Faulkner sat in the blind above them and Gibson took his gear inside and began retrofitting himself. Connors and Hawkins sat around the table with Philip as Smith reentered the hideout after radioing in. Alvarez and Smith helped Rex on surveillance. They followed their Sergeant to the table and presented their plan for the op.

The Doctor who operated on Philip; the man with the gentle thumbs that plugged his eyes and started all this walked through the newly renovated cave base. He ordered his men to keep a guard. Five guards at the door, accompanied by three out on patrol, five walking the caves, and twenty more ready inside in the caves as reinforcements. The Doctor came out of the cave to inspect his troops. When he got outside there was only two men guarding the door. Before he could say anything, the Doctor was grabbed by Sergeant Rex, harnessed, and taken back up with him. The two men guarding the doorway took their masks off. Alvarez and Gibson locked and loaded their weapons. "Sarge is clear." Radioed Alvarez, while Gibson took out the C4. Together they lined the immediate inside and outside of the cave mouth. Just as they finished one of the men they subdued radio goes off. After they do not answer, Alvarez and Gibson know they have to leave. They finish up and round the nearest corner. Gibson holds the detonator in his hand. "...Going hot... " he says over the radio, switching the blinking yellow light to red.

Sergeant Rex delivers the Doctor to Colonel Dresden. Philip has him put the Doctor in a windowless room. He continues watching the cameras in the control room. The five men in the cavern hallways inform the twenty reinforcements there's been on attack and they come charging out of the caves. Colonel Dresden clicks down on his radio, "fire at will, corporal."
Philip sits back and watches them flood to the doorway of the cave, unaware it is lined with explosives. The last one to cross the C4 line trips over it and looks back. But before his revealing screams can be heard, Gibson presses the detonators and the screams are muffled by the explosions nearly bringing the cave down again. When the smoke clears all are dead. Massive chunks of the overhanging boulder now entangle the entrance. "Tangos down." responds Gibson.
Sergeant Rex returns to Gibson and Alvarez along with Connors and Hawkins. "Good job demo, ya nearly destroyed our entry point."
"Sorry sir."
"Any survivors?"
"No sir."
"You get that boss?" Rex radioed.
"I follow, Bravo team, regroup and prepare for extraction. Philip got up and left the Control room. He walked down the hall to the room where they were keeping the Doctor and entered it. Philip walked over to the table. "Do you know who I am?"
"You!" the Doctor gasped.
"So you do..."
"What a monster that plant has made you..." the Doctor spat.

Philip wanted to throttle him. If he would let his rage take over, Philip would have screamed out, "THE PLANT! YOU DID THIS TO ME!" But no, Philip Dresden was a soldier of the United States Army. He remained calm and remembered what he came out here to get.

Philip sat down across the table and the Doctor readjusted his seat upright. Philip took off his glasses. "Tell me everything you know about that plant."