Super Hero Portal

The Ongoing Tales of Philip Dresden...


Act I: Chapters 1-6: The Storm Harvester Approaches

Act II: Chapters 7-9: The Afghanistan Procedures

Act III: Chapters 10-14: Scrambling on Rooftops

Act IV: Chapters 15-17: DarkFlood's First Flight

Act V: Chapters 18-20: Gang Wars

Act VI: Chapters 21-23: The High Dragon

Act VII: Chapters 24-29: Rise of DarkFlood

Act VIII: Chapters 30-36: The Two Suns Prophecy

Act IX: Chapters 37-45: Dawn of the Super Humans 

Act X: Chapters 46-53: The Battle for New York City



Philip Dresden was a soldier in the United States Army. He was stationed at Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. There he saw many upsetting and disturbing things, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come.
It was late at night, Philip was sleeping in his barracks. His commanding officer, and leader of the platoon, Sergeant O’Hagan woke Philip from a peaceful slumber.
"Corporal, get up and come with me." Philip quickly got out of the bunk, jumped into his gear, and met the Sergeant outside.
"What is it, sir?"
"We just got word from HQ. There is a terrorist cell approaching the city limits as we speak. They out number us, Dresden. They out number us ten to one. Reinforcements won’t be here ‘til mornin’."
"Yes, sir. What are your orders?"
"My orders? My god damn orders…Do you think they told me something like this would happen when I enlisted ten years ago?"
"…something like this, sir?"
"They’re coming for us Dresden! Jesus, they’re coming to kill us all!"
"Sir, what are your orders?"
Before the Sergeant could finish a grenade landed in between their feet.
"Sergeant get down!" screams Philip as he runs back into the barracks and slams the door shut. "LIVE GRENADE!" Philip screams again startling awake the soldiers in his company. The Sergeant stutters in thought right before he registers the grenade ticking between his feet. In a moment’s breath he realizes he can’t run away quick enough, his only option is to get the grenade as far away from his body as possible. He kicks it with all his might. The grenade goes flying through the air, up, and over, crashing through the window of the barracks. Philip looks at the grenade twirling on the floor, and then he looks at all of his helpless comrades, struggling to get their equipment on. With little hesitation he knows what he must do. He jumps on the grenade as it goes off. Lights out.

Gunshots. Screams. Lots of screams. Flashes of light. Pain.

Philip wakes up. He can barely hold his head up, he is in so much pain. He tries to look around, but all he can see is darkness. Perhaps his eyes aren’t even open. Perhaps he is still unconscious. He tries to move his hands, but they are held down. He must be tied up. Tied to the metal chair he’s sitting in. Yes, metal, he felt the cold rusted steel on his palms and calves. His feet were tied down as well. His legs were bare from the knees down; with touches of shredded camouflage pants and smears of dried blood. For his eyes were still dark, but his feeling and his senses were slowly coming back to him. A short glimmer. A hope of sight shines for a second through the crack of a door. He is awake. Now, that is for certain.
Two guards come into the room. They talk to each other in a language Philip cannot understand. He knows now that he was taken prisoner. Why didn’t they just leave him there to die? The army would not bargain with terrorists for his release. What did they want from him? One of the guards knelt down in front of Philip. "Where is your American base?"
"I don’t…know." Answers Corporal Dresden. The other guard walks behind Philip.
"I don’t know." Philip answers once again. The guard behind him grabs his bound hands and pulls them up rigorously, snapping both of his wrists. Philip screams in torment. They echo down the cave walls. He briefly thinks of an outside world. A home. A cushy bed. But he quickly returns to his reality. Cold, bloody, steel, and a dark room. The guard interrogating him pulls out a knife. He softly sticks his own fingertip, and slowly turns it round and round. "You will tell us where your base is, filthy American. Or else we will kill you."
"If you wanted to kill me, you would have done so already."
"HA! Very good then, American. Your fate is not death. Not yet, at least. If you will not be an informant, then you shall be an experiment." The guard turns to the one that broke Philips wrists. He utters a command and the guard leaves the room upon hearing it. The English-speaking guard takes the knife and carves a line down the left side of Philip’s face, sparing his eye. Philip holds in his scream. "It hurts, doesn’t it…You don’t want to scream, but it would relieve your suffering." He turns around and looks at the door, as if he is waiting for the other guard to return. "Well allow me to ease your suffering!" The guard quickly turns around and slits Philip’s throat open. He spits blood up and onto the floor. He chokes and throws himself all around trying to get free from the chair. The English-speaking guard laughs at his suffering as the guard from before appears behind him; coming back into the room. The leg of the chair hits a small hole in the floor during Philip’s rampage of survival, and tips over, falling to the floor. He keeps fighting to stay alive as his blood leaks all over the floor. He is growing tired. Everything that has come alive in the past hour of awakening is beginning to fade away, once again, to the black abyss; as his life, slowly drains out of him.
The guard who left, comes back into the room carrying an exotic plant. The English-speaking guard pulls a leaf off the plant and rubs it on Philip’s neck, right on top of the cut. He holds it down. Philips feels a violent rush, a burning sensation on his neck. It feels...good. Steam emits from the chemical reaction. When the guard takes the leaf off of Philip’s neck, the cut is gone. The other guard lifts the chair back upright and walks out of the room. Philip opens his eyes and tries to gather himself once again. "What….what…was….that?"
"Goodnight American soldier, till tomorrow…" The other guard leaves the room and the lock sounds behind him. Philip is once again in the dark.
The next day he is awoken by the same guard he last saw. "Good morning, American."
"Where am I? Where is this place?"
"You are in the caves of the Hindu Kush. A Mountain Range spanning roughly nine hundred kilometers long, six hundred of your American miles. Your friends will never find you here."
"What is that plant you used on my neck?"
"It is a foreign plant, an exotic strain that has just recently been discovered. But unless you care that it has blue veins and sparkles, that is all I know."
"Is that why I’m here? Why you took me?"
"We saved your life. We pulled the shrapnel out from all over your body."
"What for? Why am I here? What do you people want from me!?"
"Enough! You are not the interrogator. You are in no place to be asking questions." Philip looks up over the guard’s shoulder and sees the other guard standing by the door. The English-speaking guard turns and barks an order. Moments later a cart is rolled in by another person, but he is not wearing soldier apparel. "That is the doctor. He is here to perform some tests."
"Tests like last night?"
"HA, very good. Your American wit is amusing. Yes, I hope you two have fun." The English-speaking guard walks out of the room. The doctor pulls an electric drill out from the cart and turns it on. The doctor digs the drill deep into Philips shoulder. He screams with fresh pain. And just like before, the doctor uses a leaf from the blue-veined plant to rid Philip of the wound.
The entire day is spent trying different incisions and mutilations on Philip and then curing him with the mysterious plant. The whole time Philip is thinking whether or not the plant’s treatment has any long term side effects.
Day after day, it was the same routine. Night after night he recuperated just to be put through the same harrowing gauntlet the next day. They fed him just enough to stay alive. He never left the chair. He never got to clean himself. He never got to lay down and sleep. It remained like this for months. After a while, Philip lost count of the days. Every so often, when his hands were beginning to heal, a guard would come in and break his wrists again to keep him from trying to escape. It was more to demoralize him, than sheer physical mechanics. Eventually, his hands became permanently numb. They felt like gelatin at the end of his arms He never tried to move them anymore. He spent most of his time wondering where they were finding this plant and its infinite resource. It did Philip good to think of something positive. He hoped they never ran out. If they did, he was dead.
Finally, one day, the doctor was finishing up and putting away all of his tools and instruments. He carefully returns the plant to the cart. Before he orders the guard at the door to come in and take the cart away, he places his hands gently on Philip’s head. His thumbs are positioned directly in front of Philip’s eyes. The doctor slowly sticks his thumbs softly into Philip’s head and gouges his eyes out. The gentle pretense of the doctor’s hand movements overcomes his violent action creating an uncomfortably confusing overtone for Philip. He does not know whether to scream in horror, or thank the doctor for taking such care with him as his patient. Before he can do anything there is a loud bang from outside the room.

Screams and gunshots.

A wave of heat blows over Philip's face as he hears the doctor scramble out of the room. Philip is now scared. He is afraid there is no magical plant to cure him once more of the evil he has had to succumb to since his capture. Afraid he will be the one thing that is worse than being tortured and stuck in a dark cavern for the rest of his life; blind.
A large thunder rumbles through the caves and into Philip’s ears. He screams for help. He can hear all around him, the walls are caving in. The roof above him is breaking into boulders and falling to the floor. He twists his broken wrists out of his binds and unties his legs clumsily. With barely any feeling in his fingers, he searches around the floor as he slowly moves towards the door, practically crawling. Philip reverts to stages of infancy to survive. He finds his way to the door and gets up to make a break for it.
After running two steps he trips over the cart and falls onto the floor tipping it over. He pulls himself over to the cart and feels around for the plant. He frantically searches so he can find it before somebody comes back for him. His fingers probe the inside of the cart looking for some sign of the plant. The porcelain pot, the wet soil, anything to get his vision back. "Ah!" the burning sensation gets his hand above his palm. He must have brushed up against the plant. He waves his hand around and feels the sensation one more time. He grabs and pulls a leaf from it. The roof above starts to grumble and crack. Philip crawls on his elbows to get under the door frame. The boulders fall to the ground pinching Philip's side down and scratching his abdomen. He repositions the leaf in his hand to move the boulder when suddenly he is grabbed.
Philip drops the leaf. He is yanked by his legs and pulled down the hallway, away from his room as the cave collapses all around him. "No!" he screams, "The PLANT I NEED THE PLANT! NO!" He is turned over, being drastically brought out of the caves. His head is lifted up by a short cavern ramp, off the floor, and lands roughly on the rock bed; all the while still being dragged furiously. Philip stops screaming.

He is unconscious.


"...what...what happened to me?"

Philip's first moments of returning consciousness come with a bewildering tone. It is hard for him to cope with his current state, let alone reflect on his memory. "Where am I?" It is still a black stage for Philip's vision, or lack there of. He is blind, so he must make up for it with his other senses. He reaches up his arm with his curious fingers. A plastic tube, thin and professional, was prodding into his elbow. The tones and smells of the room were at last coming to Philip with familiarity. He was in a hospital, an American hospital.
"You are back in Oklahoma." Says a nurse, "Is there anybody you would like us to call?"
"Don't call my parents."
"Is this a military hospital?"
"No. This is Saint Anthony's in Oklahoma City. You have been honorably discharged. Whatever you did over there must've been courageous. They brought you here a couple of days ago and since then we've conducted every test we've got on you to see what's wrong."
"Have they found anything?"
"Not yet, Corporal but we're doing everything we can." Says a new voice entering the room, "I'm Dr. Fitzsimmons, I'm working with the rest of the hospital to figure out what you've got."
"Are you with the-"
"Yes, I'm a military scientist. I have been with you since you were found in the caves."
"So what do I got?"
"We haven't been able to diagnose your particular...ehum...ailment, yet."
"The plant..."
"The Plant. Did you find that plant? Did you find it? Is it still real?" The BP monitor starts sounding off frantically.
"Plant. What plant?" Dr. Fitzsimmons is trying to get one last crossover in before he plunges back into unconsciousness. Philip's BP rate gets worse and his body starts convulsing as the nurse interrupts by rushing over to Philip's aid, "Corporal Dresden needs his rest. You two can talk in the morning." The nurse concludes while pinning Philip on the bed, lifeless, as if. "You should feel lucky you know. They haven't told us much, but of what they have survived a lot. You should be so lucky that your still alive,"blessed the Nurse, "Not only that, but your grandfather is here in the hospital living out his last days. He has stopped eating, a tell-tale sign that the end is near. You will be able to see him before he passes. Now sleep corporal, you need your energy." He stops trying to keep his face above the surface and drowns his swallow in the black abyss.

Philip falls back into his other darkness. He still feels alive, awake. Lucid. And the fact that he was asleep was slowly...fading....away. He's walking in the dark. The dark he should be getting used to. He is not afraid to walk without seeing. He triumphantly marches through the night. Suddenly, he is walking on a field. A field he can see. Is he no longer blind? Not right now. The cascading infantry of grass rolls underneath a black sky. All of which under an eccentric horizon. He feels somewhat askew, but all his indicators read truth and sincerity. And so he walks on in this strange grass below a shadowed sky. Slowly, the moon rises from the horizon. It takes up his entire view. Massive, illuminating, it compels the darkness into hiding. Philip stands in the lunar light. It feels good. A feeling he has not experienced in what seems like a lifetime. He is relieved. Relief, what, for heavens sake, has he gone through? For what? If he could only remember. Philip looks deep into the moon. It has now become too close to be real. It looks as though if he were to jump, with all his might, he could land on the moon's platform. Philip closes his eyes, bends his knees, and launches his feet into the air. He is propelling forward across the dim space. He opens his eyes, and the moon is nowhere to be found. He begins to come down from his arc. Plummeting into nothingness, his relief turns to panic.

the moon,
where you have gone;
but below my feet where I cannot see.

Alas, he lands in lunar comfort. There! 'What I can accomplish if I just trust in the dark of my own mind.' His first successful feat, since...what? His promotion to corporal. Too long has he been a victim rather than a victor. 'But to trust in the darkness?' In this dark world...of quantum imagination, where only the absent rules, he could be king. Philip sits on the moon and stares at his world. The bright light supporting the back of his shoulders. Huddled around his knees he wants this feeling to last forever. The murky shadow world on the viewing deck. His realm of eternal solitude making the grade.

Fizzling away, another blackness comes alive. The dark force of blind nature awakens Philip. Once again, the fumes and sounds of the hospital come back. He can practically see it in his head. One room, one other person. His nurse sounds like a sweetheart.
"How are you feeling, Philip?" the infuriated voice invades his re-entrance. A voice that is familiar, but not the nurse's. "Philip, they told me you could hear...they told me, you were back..." She lets out a gentle whimper and quickly pulls it back in. Her footsteps move towards the door. "...I...I am here." Staggers Philip.
"They told me you were tortured, that you are blind...that..."
"JUST TELL ME! Please, just say it."
"...unless they can find out what's wrong with're going to die."
"I'm already dead."
"Why would you say that? What is wrong with you?...I mean...Why can't you just be happy? What more do you have to go through before you can see your life for what it is?" the woman clamors up as she purges out one more tired question. A question she has been holding onto for a very long time, "Why did you leave me?"
"You want me to...see my life for what it is...ALL I CAN SEE IS BLACK, SARAH! MY LIFE...IS HELL!" The monitors in the room start going off. It must be his heart rate again. The woman steps back. Nurses rush in and stabilize him. His hear rates returns to a mild condition, The nurses leave, all but the one Philip met before. She approaches the woman, Sarah.
"Are you family?"

"I'm his wife."

The next day, Philip wakes up. It is becoming increasingly easier for him. But it is still difficult to tell in all this darkness, whether he is really awake or still in his dreamland.
"Good morning Philip, it is eight o'clock in the morning, on Friday, October 20th. You are sitting in a hospital room on the fourth floor, at Saint Anthony's, here in the great Oklahoma City..." The Kind Doctor exhales as he flips open his chart and continues, "Your file says this is your place of birth. I am a local too. My name is Arthur Randolph, I am your attending physician. How are you feeling?"
"What is wrong with me?"
"We don't have all the answers yet. Your wounds from Afghanistan have all healed. But your blood...well your blood is infected with some unknown toxin and your body is slowly rejecting it. Soon your immune system will fail and eventually the toxins will shut all your entire system down."
"What about a blood transplant?"
"We have thought about that already. It would most likely kill you. These ailments you have been exhibiting show every symptom found in patients going through withdrawal from major narcotics. The only difference is your symptoms are far worse. They are more ramped and seem to be permanent."
"Are you saying there's no hope for me?"
"As of right now, my medical opinion is no. But my personal beliefs always leave room for hope."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"No, I was just-"
"I jumped on top of a grenade for my troops, thinking it would kill me. I thought that would be the worst suffering I would ever have to go through. I thought that would be the end of it. I couldn't have been more wrong. I was tortured for what seemed like twenty years after that. And every time I was at the brink of death, they brought me back with that godforsaken plant. Until, they gauged my eyes out, and my rescue finally arrived just in time to keep them from healing my face. They saved me...I was...saved. Ha! Doesn't that make you laugh doctor?...saved. Now I'm stuck in this darkness," He mumbles to himself like a lunatic, "...wretched curse..."
"Are you saying that they used a plant on you to heal your wounds?"
"You think I'm crazy. I would think I'm crazy too after hearing the words I just said out loud."
"I don't think your crazy. I think you have been through a lot. But mostly, I think this plant has a direct correlation with what's wrong with you. It could be the mystery toxin that we've been searching for. What else can you tell me about it?"
"Not much from what I can remember. It looked like any other plant. Wait, the interrogator...told me that it had blue veins. Blue veins, and it sparkled under the light. The leafs were glossy, they felt almost of wax. And the sensation, the feeling of being healed by the plant. It was...amazing. It burned...furiously, but it was a good burn. A soothing burn. There were days where i craved it. That's when I realized that my humanity was lost. I was an animal, a slave to their convictions. I was okay with it, with them torturing me, Doc. I was sick. I was obedient. Just as long as they fed me more of that cure afterwards."
"I understand. That must've taken a lot to open up to me, thank you. This information is going to help me save your life."
"There is nothing worth saving." His meager tone lingers on,"...just let me go."
"Your wife was in here yesterday, you left her to go into the army...what for?"
"I'm done opening up, Doc." He snaps his mouth shut and imagines giving this pretentious doctor a cold stare. For the moment it does him good to remember the feeling of sight. But then his self-loathing turns the celebration into a mockery. And he becomes sick of everything altogether, once again.
"Then I shall go get some more inconclusive results. Till next time..."
"Wait! Doctor...where is my grandfather?"
"He's on the top floor, geriatrics, Room 713. I can arrange for a visit."
"That won't necessary. I have nothing to say to him that can't wait until later. Ha."
"As you wish, Corporal."
"Don't call me that."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Dresden." The doctor pauses to say something else, but decides not to and walks out of the room. The tight air settles and Philip returns to his unconscious fields.

He wakes up again, it's a beautiful sunset. The sweltering light pierces through the seventh floor window. Philip wants to feel it on his face. He knows it's there. It all makes sense. How does it make any sense? How did he get to the seventh floor? It makes sense that he was a jerk to his doctor. And his doctor's retribution was disobeying a direct order (something a good soldier would never do). Philip was in his grandfather's room, it has to be.... "You there grand-pop?"
"Yeah, I'm here, my boy."
"I can't see anymore."
"Your doctor told me. He also told me you didn't want to see me."
'That prick' he thought. "That's not what I meant."
"What did you mean, Philip?"
"We're dying grand-pop, I was trying to bring acceptance to our situation. We would most certainly have met each other in heaven."
"Heaven, Philip? I never knew you as the religious type."
"Well I always had your example to follow grand-pop. Sure, I don't know much about Jesus and the Bible. But I have faith. And they say, 'faith alone can get you to the afterlife.'"
"Who says that?"
"I don't know, but it sounds right."
"Are you afraid to die grand-pop?"
"I have made my peace with this life..."
"How? I need to know."
"Did I ever tell you that we are of Cherokee descent?"
"No. I thought I was just German and English."
"Your father's family is German, but your mother is both English and Cherokee. My parents were from the Cherokee nation. And my wife, your grandmother was from an English family who came from Massachusetts to Oklahoma."
"I didn't know all that."
"It is almost the Harvest Moon."
"The what?"
"October, our ancestors celebrated the Harvest Moon. They would not eat for seven days in preparation for the ceremony."
"Is that why you're not eating? Because you're getting in touch with your roots. This is your peace? I should never have been brought up here."
"We should be giving thanks to all the forces that have helped us live."
"Five days of fasting and all of a sudden you're a medicine man? NURSE! This is ridiculous."
"Your cynicism will not save you in the end, grandson."
"I'm not looking for salvation."
"No, you're looking for condemnation, and you're not going to find it here." The nurse comes in and wheels Philip out of room 713.

"Good-bye, grandson."

Philip is brought back to his room and soon after falls back asleep. He cannot keep track of time like this. He has no will over his days and nights, when all he sees is darkness. Who knows how many hours have passed. When suddenly he is startled awake by a sharp pain daggering into his chest. He screams in torment. An action he is used to. The nurse runs in and sounds the alarm.
"My hnph- My chest!" cries Philip. Doctor Randolph comes rushing in.
"What's wrong?" he asks.
"It's his heart, he's going into cardiac arrest.."
"Get me the paddles. Nurse start CPR," Doctor Randolph turns his head towards the door as his hands scramble around Philips seizing body, "AND PAGE DR. FITSZIMONS TELL'EM TO HURRY! WE NEED TO DO THE PROCEDURE NOW!" The defibrillator paddles get placed into Dr. Randolph's hands..."CLEAR!"

Caught in a current.
Brief. Shock. Light can be where.
Syringe felt surrender.


'Clear blue skies, a wide grass surrounding, as far as the eye can see.
I can see. I CAN SEE! I can see all of this...
Green and blue of both earth and cosmos combined; going off like fireworks in my blind.
Oh, boy, with this new found sight, a well-rested joyfulness is re-birthed into my life.
This cannot be. But perhaps?. . . The slow illusion of the past starts to evade my thoughts...
I no longer give way to the before. Or worry about the after.
I no longer ask the reasonable questions that show off human distinction...
"Where am I?" "What am I doing here?" "Where am I from?"
The cognitive. Like Adam chasing Eve in the Garden . . . . . . . . . . .
I merely just go with it. I run. For I can see. So I just run. And seeing is good.
Oh, I am mistaken and I have, behold!
How it is so much more than good! More than perfect, more than it all.
It is the most wonderful ability to be able to see, sans thinking and thought; of course.
And that is the final word on any debate of the human nature. Seeing is truly believing.
This new found appreciation is startling. Perhaps...I am forgetting something? Nonsense.
It is so satisfying to see the clouds and the flora. That is reason enough just to perceive.
Besides good taste and the once-in-a-while good smell, sight will always reign supreme.
As one who has seen both sides of the coin, let me say one thing I believe most out of all:

Vision, bar none, makes being happen.

Some might argue that living is undisputed in such a winner's circle, but the fact of the matter is: you can live when you cannot see and life becomes the most terrible of travesties. But if you cannot live and you can see, than your world is something else entirely; your world is of a higher calling.

At some other end of the map it starts to rain. The storm slowly approaches. The conjuring of the storm sucks the air through an earthy filter. And with it, goes that what's left of my memories and rememberings. Any magic of the moments that consisted of my former life corrupts inside the eye of the storm and is spat back out, sprinkling into effervescent transparencies that land all around me. Like Taraxacum Parachutes softly riding the wind down, and out. The storm stirs in the distance. One lamp, in an empty room. It looks either scared to confront me or unaware of my existence. Do I make it aware? What business else is there? I make a run for the storm. I run for it's shadow. It's quaking darkness to trample over. Two beings are roaming around in this one landscape. The immovable object and the unstoppable force. And that is the force of the storm, and me, the flesh of man. A force of empiricism and evolution; and most of all, soul. What doth lightening and thunder have upon it but chaos and chemicals? Why am I speaking like this? I continue on my drawn out charge. Miles of country run below my feet as I churn the machine. That storm is mine. I can see the line. The line that depicts good from evil. Peace versus disaster. Comedy and tragedy. The white from the black. My side, the side of light and life, sunshine and reflecting entities. The other side, darkness, wet, cold, shadows of the storm. I keep pace. I will jump the line and never feel the difference. Then invade the eye. Rescue my moments. And bid today a good day. I come around, getting up to full speed; And I jump. The course bends after it's climax. I start my free fall into darkness. But I do not land on the other side's floor. I fall.

Helplessly plummeting deeper into the abyss.

I can't help myself. There is nothing I can do. Helpless to say the least. The insignificance of me within this lost place becomes a manner of importance now. Now I am not a force that can rival the storm. I am merely collateral damage. And I am suffering the consequences of such a position. All the while falling into further nothingness. No pain, just fear. Sudden suspension; everything around me is black. I can not even tell if I am moving anymore. I don't feel like it. Oh, the paradox. But the truth somehow, slips through. I was caught. I was grabbed from my free fall, and now I was being pulled ruthlessly back up the hole, in which I fell, at double-time pace. A vicious sound and terrible fury sucking me in. Lifted out of the darkness and up into the storm. It lets me go and I fall inside of it; a twister. In it's center I stand up. The winds billow around me. I feel like the fans inside a jet engine. At the top, flashes of light and day come in arbitrarily. The storm swallows and purges from every orifice. It is wicked. I feel both scared and powerful. It is a feeling I have felt before. But where? Where are my memories? Were they not supposed to be here? Ah, for what, it does not matter. I am here now, And I beg to know... "What exactly am I in!"I yell out loud. The Storm rolls over and comes to a screeching halt.

I have upset the raging monster.

Now it will be focused on me. The winds pick up as the walls rise and fall. Stretched and released. Like some carnival ride that turns you into jelly. I get sucked away and thrown back in, a puppet of elemental nature. I try to get back on my feet every time I get tossed off of them. The degradation sinks in and I now know what this disaster is after. Not just humility, but it's essential core...My humanity. I stand up once again. This time preparing for another blow. It comes sweeping in from above. But before it can make contact with my face I yell, "Stop!" I hold my hand out and the raining wave of wind gets parted through my fingers and dies. The storm stops circling around, and pulls away from behind me. It gathers together as one mighty being in front of me and musters a solid form. It looks as though an ancient stone statue that has come to life. No pupils, wide intangible eyes. Young face, powerful stance. The edges continuously, in scattered areas, briefly pop back into wind. Like an organ letting off steam during a grand symphony. Translucent matter wrapped in gray stone robes and tunics. He is roughly the size of a fully grown tornado. As I look up at him, his head's silhouette practically eclipses the sun in the background. I try to make out his face in the shadow . . .

"Come...Look upon me,"

Says the storm, "I reap the Catalyst, govern the wills of nature, consume the bounty of man, and rule these lands with unpronounced superiority and unbiased execution......For I am the Storm Harvester. A god of the Earth. Humble and fierce, I show no mercy, but take stern care in my domain."
"You are . . . a storm?"
"Not nearly as simple as you phrase it. I am not just a storm. I am the consumer. I give the producer meaning in this world."
"Does the producer not give you meaning as well?"
"No...You do not even know of the producer. How dare you speak as if you know better? There is no producer. Who I speak of's name is: The Divine Catalyst, and he is my older brother. We are the last two of a dying race."
"A dying race?"
"I am one of the Asunder Gods. Made from the Mighty Force, we, it's children, broke apart from it and traveled through the universe. We came upon this planet and together made it worthy of life. Now there are only two of us left. Me and the Catalyst."
"What happened to the others?"
"A plague. It devoured us. Much like what happened to our predecessor, we created life from our essence and in that miraculous act we also created a means for our extinction. Slowly, but steadily the life we created evolved and came after us. Now they have conquered all but me and the Catalyst. For some time, the Catalyst has masked his marvel in a superficial representation of physical matter."
"I don't understand."
"He has turned himself into organic life, and now he hides on Earth. And so I rage over Earth looking for him."
"Why do you need to find him?"
"If I do not find him, they will. And after they consume him, they will become more powerful than me. But together, we can bring glory back to our kingdom before our creation wins. If we combine our forces I am certain I can revive my brothers and sisters."
"So what do you want from me?"
"You are of Earth. You can act as my godly hand on your fleshy plane. If you serve me, I will make you as powerful as I am. I will turn you into a God amongst men. You will never feel pain and suffering the same way again. Take this offer and you will become immortal."

"What must I do?"

"...Wait for my signal......" The voice fades away into the sky as the storm gets sucked out of the atmosphere into space. The whole time it swirls before my eyes. Like a whirlpool of clouds disappearing in the sky. Not like, actual. It is actually happening as I am the sole viewer. If this is earth, then I am most certainly lost. Not to mention alone. So I long for what I just bid farewell to; a storm that I was holding a concrete conversation with. Funny, the storm flees, but the shadowed earth still remains. I can still see the line. The divider of light and darkness. Finally, the bed of storm left under my feet is the last to be pulled out into cold space. I fall back to the floor. But wait! There is no floor! I fall back into the abyss. Plummeting ceaselessly. What is this? I stretch out my hands trying to find a grip. Trying to find what saved me last time, but he is gone. I grab hold of a thin drape. And I coil in the thick dark air. I swing over into the walls. I look at what I'm clinging to. It is nothing but a wisp of smoke. The moment I realize that, I fall through it. Again, I fall, trying to grab a hold of another imaginary drape. I begin to feel many linens run through my fingers. I grab them, shut my eyes tight, and swing through the dark marsh of shadow. The more I envision the cloths holding me, the thicker they become. I clench my eyelids, trying to close my eyes harder. Turning the illusion more vivid. I can begin to climb up the curtain. I struggle to make up the ground I covered falling. It is no easy feat. I am getting exhausted, but I go on. I must get to the side of light. I cannot give up. How can I not give up when these ropes and ladders made of mysterious material could give out at any time?
At last! I get to the top. And swim over to the light side. As I swim I hold my head under and it feels good. I open my eyes and look at the lake of shadow. I swim for the ivory beach. There is black bottom. Like some corroded bay, corrupted and spoiled by ages and eons of plundering and piracy. Ah, but I will be done with this soon. I can feel the velvet grains of sand catching my fingers. I am crash landing on the light side. but why can I still see the black bottom? "WHY CAN I STILL FEEL THE DARKNESS UPON ME!" I scream. But nothing can here me. I lose the sand and become one with the falling wind, once again . . . into the never-ending darkness. The black side is now everything, it is all sides. And I am giving up. There will be light again, and I will try again. But I will fail. I understand now.

The Locker assiduously opens, but I can never escape.'

* * *

Doctor Randolph (Philip's attending physician), Doctor Fitzsimons (the military scientist), and Philip's nurse, are sitting in a post operation room on the intensive care floor. The nurse is just finishing up changing his bandages, and Dr. Randolph is switching his IV bag. "With this drip he'll be back with us in a couple of minutes."
"His heart rate is still a little high." Questions the Nurse.
"Once he gets this in his system he won't have to fight as hard to come back to us. Just wait, Natalie. He'll be fine." Dr. Fitzsimons gets up restlessly out of his chair, "I am tired of waiting...This kid is going to die unless we find that plant!"
"You don't know that, the cocktail we gave him combined with operation should be sufficient. Let's just hope his brain can cope with the amount of trauma he's endured." Rebuts Dr. Randolph. Just then, Philip's ex-wife enters the room with two people behind her. "Oh, Sarah, you're back. He's still unconscious, but he is doing a lot better."
"That's good."
"We were just leaving." Says Dr. Fitzsimons as he and the nurse walk out of the room. They exchange glances with the two unknown companions of Sarah. "Hello, I'm Dr. Randolph, I don't believe we've met." Before the two can respond to the kind Doctor's greeting, the heart rate panel sounds off frantically. Philip snaps his eyes open and is jolted back into reality. Real darkness hits him. He crazily waves around his hands, testing his re-entrance into the human realm. He catches the IV post. The first thing he can target. The metal stand pivots and then cracks under the pressure Philip is applying with his palm. Dr. Randolph lunges his body at the IV bag to make sure it doesn't tear. He catches it before it hits the floor as he himself lands on his chest hard against the floor.
"Philip!" scream out Sarah's two visitors. Philip stops squirming and calms down. Still dramatically breathing. In between a couple of irregular inhales and exhales he mutters his first two words of conscious recovery.



Dr. Arthur Randolph's Journal

"November 12"

"It has been two weeks since Philip came back to us... Even conscious, every day is a crap-shoot. So far, we have managed this much, he is no longer in the intensive care wing, and his wounds have all healed. If this was a forum for diagnoses most other doctor's would ask, 'then what is the outstanding problem?' And my response would simply be...his blood. He is still very weak. His blood can still clot, as shown by the scars that have formed over his eye sockets. Wicked fleshy goggles in a fury of uneven X's. No amount of cosmetic surgery will be able to cure him of his facial disfigurement. It is truly sad, and appalling, what those monsters over-seas did to him, but at least he is still alive.
On a side note, Dr. Fitzsimons is acting increasingly irritable towards me. The longer I keep him here and attempt to cure him, the more there is a chance the doctor loses his only lead on the ever elusive plant. Time will only tell how this will play out, but I will always be there to make a plea for Philip's well-being, rather than turning him over to the US Military, who got him in this situation in the first place, and sealing his fate as a lab rat. It is up to me to keep Fitzsimons at bay.
Back to his blood...yes it is strong enough to clot and flow normally, but some unknown factor is tainting it to suppress the patient's ability to make a full recovery. In short, he does not have enough strength to get out of bed. As if some force is draining the life from his blood. All tests come back confirming his normal condition. All but the most basic, his blood-pressure. This is some case, the most rare I have ever come across and I am certain it is all because of this suspicious plant.
On a lighter note, Philip has been spending some much needed time with his family mending bridges which have apparently been burnt for many years. That is all for now, tomorrow I will decide whether or not he is ready to be discharged under home care. I will remain his doctor, but there is no longer any need for him to stay in the hospital. For we have run every test, dozens of times. And progress, has seemed to come to a complete halt . . ."

Sarah Thompson-Dresden's Diary

"November 14"

"I have been going to see Philip for days straight, and it has been taking an awful toll on me. Still no answers on why he left me-us, why he left us all here in Oklahoma. His Mother, his Father, his Grandfather, and his. . . wife. . . Poor Philip, but it seems that his dissatisfaction with life has finally caught up with him in fate. For as long as I can remember Philip, he has never been happy. That is, except the first day I met him and the day of our wedding.
I remember it like it was yesterday, one of the best memories of my life. I'm sure it is written somewhere in the deep passages of this diary, but I feel it will do me good to write about it again. . . .
It was the Millennium Carnival at Oaks Park. He was the most handsome man there. I remember coming off the tilt-a-whirl with my cousin Susan, and her pointing him out by the game stands. Holding that black sleek rifle in his hand, we went over to watch him. For there was already a crowd forming behind him. He was shooting the star out of a piece of paper unlike any person I have ever seen do it before. He shot out the outline of the red star first and then with one last pellet, pushed the star perfectly out of the hole. It seemed magical, unnatural. Everyone looked in amazement, even the guy working the stand. He gave him choice of any prize. He grabbed a lion almost as tall as the tiny little guy behind the stand handing it over to him. When he turned around, the group watching him seemed to have startled him as we all clapped at his achievement. He panned the audience and stopped at me.

My heart skipped a beat.

His dark brown eyes pinned me down with affection. He walked over and I passed a giggle along to my cousin. My cheeks flushed red as he was now clearly approaching me. I looked around and then deemed it important to be the first to speak. And so I said, 'That's some prize you got yourself, there" and then he responded as only prince charming would, 'I'm glad you like it...I won it for you.' As he handed the ambitious lion over to me. My cousin was speechless. The same went for me before I managed to squeak out an offer to match his gift, 'would you like to go on the Ferris wheel with me?' He nodded his head and together we walked over to the Ferris wheel. I must have got lost in the moment for I forgot about my cousin. I looked back for my cousin's permission and she was already motioning me to go along with him. It was the most beautiful ride I ever went on. We bonded more in those short moments than we did our entire marriage. Ironic, that after that ride I already knew I was going to marry him.
It was not long before his underlying dread surfaced in our relationship. His resentment towards his parents. His self-loathing. His hatred for everything that made up the outside world. The man I discovered at the game stand had vanished. For the longest time, he made me feel like I was the only thing keeping him from going under. And I thrived off that memento. And then, the day after our marriage, he was gone, enlisted. And ever since then I have been racking my brain to figure out what happened on that day that was the breaking point for him. Forever picking up the pieces of our shattered life together. For months I stared at the divorce papers I had written up. Stared and cried. In those dark days for me, I found some peace in talking with his parents. Our bonds grew in the shadow of his abandonment.
My own parents had passed away a long time ago. And because of that I shunned Philip's parents up until he left. In fact, I took strongly to his Grandfather, a sweet, wise, none judgmental old man. I loved him so whole-heartedly that I asked him to walk me down the aisle at the wedding. But afterwards, he grew very sick and was checked into the hospital. And so i turned to the only other people that could sympathize with me, Philip's parents. They told me he was always selfish, but not in the normal way. He was never an immature child. He was dark in his self-absorption, constantly loathing over his unfulfilled life. His parents never knew what to do. It never really affected his social life or schoolwork. And yet, he never blamed anyone for his misgivings, that is. . . outwardly. Over time, especially after his departure, I began to realize his subtle resentment towards all of us. And now he is back, and the veil has been lifted from my naive eyes. But for now he is so weak, I dare not confront him with all these hard feelings. Right now, he needs me, and poor be it for but I need him. Oh, how I've missed him. And in missing him have I hated him. But all the same he is back. And he will answers my questions. The questions he ran away from.
So far, I have sat in the background and watched his parent's deal with his misery. And all he has talked about is his drug-induced dreams. Dreams of being eaten and summoned by a storm. A god he called it. I just hope he is now not brought to the psych ward. He is scaring us. And all along, his tone and mannerisms have changed. In fact, I thought once, just yesterday, that he smiled at me. A smile I have not seen since the Ferris wheel. I quickly brushed it off as something I made myself see, but now...looking back, I think it was real. I sense excitement in his voice, for once. . .
Just writing this out I am seeing him with new eyes. Maybe I will hold off on the questions I have rounded up for him in the past years and ask him a new set of questions. Questions about these dreams, and his new found purpose. Whether it is real or not real, it has revealed a new twinkle in his eye. Oh, his eyes. His dark hypnotizing eyes. I used to lie beside him, in the bedroom, and just get lost in them. And now... now I can barely stand to look at-

I have stumbled across a topic in my ramblings that I have tried to stay away from in my mind. His bandages have been permanently removed, and in place of them pale scars crossing over his eye-sockets in wild 'X's' It is hard to look at, his face has been mutilated. And now, looking his worst, his attitude is at an all time high! Sick, how twisted and cynical life can be. As if he was waiting for this devastation to happen. As if he feels better in the trenches. Perhaps, that is why he joined the military. Poor Philip, never happy with an easy life. This sense of truth sends a shiver down my back as I think about what his future may hold. If the destruction of his eyes has started up his smile once again, lord knows what else has to happen to him. If this is the formula that makes up Philip's fate. Suffering through pain to happiness. I can only hope, his strength will endure. His parents feel the same way as I do. We have had long talks about it. I like to think that there is something more to do with it, that he is not a masochist. Tomorrow, I will go in and get him alone. Then I will talk to him, in detail about his dreams, and what significance his has pulled from them. For now I put my nuptial qualms at bay, and try to help the man I once loved. For hopes, that one day, I may love him I did that day on the Ferris wheel....

Dr. Fitzsimons Journal

"November 15"

"Today, I walked in on an interesting conversation Corporal Dresden was having with his wife. I made no attempt to join the conversation but listened intently. They were talking about his dreams while he was under. He described them in frightful detail. As if he really thought he was there. She was giving me a cold look, like she wanted to be alone with him that I caught out of my peripheral vision. I merely pretended both not to see her and like I was doing some important test. And so they talked on. He made reference to a god, an 'Asunder God' to be exact. It's name: The Storm Harvester. He told his wife how it was going to cure him. I can only assume he was talking of his blindness. Just as long as he followed it's command. When his wife asked him what that entailed he said he did not know, all he knew was that he had to wait for it's 'sign'. Another interesting aspect of their conversation was what the Storm Harvester was after. 'The Divine Catalyst' he called it. Philip said it was hiding on earth, from, what he gathered was, the human race. Philip put together himself that these two 'forces' were responsible for life on earth, and in doing so, as he explained to his wife, sealed their doomed fate. As a scientist I can't help but dissect these theories and come to one exciting conclusion. The 'Divine Catalyst' is the mystery plant he was introduced to in Afghanistan. And Philip is the 'Storm Harvester'. It is merely a sub-conscious projection using his lucid dreams as a vehicle to show that Philip wants to find the plant, and in doing so. . . cure his condition. So, Philip will eventually lead himself back to the plant. And now, I will, happily, change my entire strategy. I will ease off the dimwitted attending, Dr. Randolph. And allow him to discharge Dresden from the hospital. Then I will keep a close eye on him and play to his delusions. Hopefully, these dreams will turn to fruition and he will acquire a means of retrieving the plant. And I will be by his side every step of the way. And when the opportunity comes...I will take the plant for myself, and drop Dresden back into the slums of the Hindu Kush. I will discard him like the pawn that he is and gain all the fame and recognition for myself. As I rightfully deserve, my time has finally come, and nothing will get in my way. I will make one of the most important discoveries in human history. And alone I will stand on top of society. As the leading scientist of the modern age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I, Doctor Mordechai Isaac Fitzsimons will have the entire world in the palm of my hand."


Philip was out of the hospital for three days when he heard the terrible news. His grandfather had passed away some time in the night. The funeral would be held at the end of the week. Philip had three days to prepare himself. He was living with his parents, for he was still not use to his new condition. Blindness made doing everything difficult for him. Simple tasks that he took for granted he now loathed. Just getting out of bed in the morning and changing his clothes was an ordeal. Many of times he would have to suffer under laughs from his father or a comment from his mother about the clashing colors he wore. And every time he would snap back at them with a wicked mouth. He could no longer see the sun, so his world was full of darkness.

And in this darkness he rotted.

Days went by and Philip would barely get out of bed. He would lie there, rubbing his fingertips across the scars over his eyes, and bathe in the torment of self-pity. He had forsaken his life, renounced god, and burnt every bridge he had come to form in his life. There were only three people who came to visit him: his attending physician, Dr. Randolph, who was still looking after him, the military scientist, Dr. Fitzsimons, and his ex-wife, Sarah. Many of the meetings would go on without much conversation. Sarah would come visit, but spend most of her time with Philip's parents, awaiting the day he would come out of his depression. Dr. Fitzsimons would come only to show his support, he would give Philip a routine check-up, which was just a repetition of what Dr. Randolph would do.

Finally, the day came when Philip had to get out of his bed, take a shower, and leave his house. It was the day of his grandfather's funeral. While in the shower Philip thought about his last conversation with his grandfather...
'The Harvest Moon, all that Cherokee nonsense. Funny, how the old man needed religion to get him through his last days, how cliche. And yet, maybe there is some truth there. I don't deny that there are gods, but I doubt those dimwitted Indians had it right. And yet...the god in my dream...was... a storm. The Cherokee and most Indian tribes believed in the elements to be supernatural entities. What is my grandfather was right? And I blew him off. I am truly an asshole...'
Philip was almost on the brink of tears from his strong wave of erupting self-hatred. If it hadn't been for the water pouring down his face from the shower nozzle, he might have caught himself actually shedding a tear of regret. But could he even cry? Alas, he finished up in the shower, got himself together, and went back to his room to start getting dressed. A task that he no longer could handle alone. There waiting for Philip in his room was his mother.

He had almost forgotten what her face looked like. It had been so long since he last saw her. Even when Philip was home before the military, he rarely ever went home. He kept to himself, through and through, waiting for his life to take course. When it did not naturally, he forced it to by enlisting. And we all know what happened since then. But now, Philip was back home with his mother, and she was dressing him in politely dark colors, with a suit jacket, and a plain black tie. It was like he was five years old again. Total regression. He let her do it with little words. Even though they were in the same room, she felt as though they were miles apart. Philip, refusing to leave his dark little world, and his Mother trying to hold back the fear that she utterly failed with her only son.


Said Philip, but it sounded more like an order. His mother choked on his command. For two reasons: the thought of his new-found dependency on his blindness symbolized by his need for the glasses, and the lack of change in personality that she thought would surely come to fruition. For in Mrs. Dresden's mind Philip was always an introvert, he kept to himself in school, not making many friends, even in marriage he jumped ship because the intimacy was too much (or that's what she thought was the problem). And now that he was locked in his own world, Mrs. Dresden prayed that it would have an adverse reaction to his psyche and get him to make a crucial change in his life for the better and become an outgoing person, maybe even patching things up with Sarah. But, it unfortunately only exacerbated things, and Philip fell further into his solitude and depression. So, they sat in silence, except for that one interrupting command. When finished they came downstairs, Philip grabbed his smooth, ivory cane from the umbrella stand, and together, Mr. and Mrs. Dresden, and Philip filed into their 1973 Cadillac.

Mr. Dresden was much like his son, with only one distinct difference, when Mr. Dresden found his wife his entire world changed. He became the man that she saw in him, and that man was far from a recluse. Mr. Dresden saw his meeting Mrs. Dresden as a necessary change in his life. If he did not go through this change, then he would have ended his son. Together, they drove to the cemetery. Philip did not want to be there. But he knew he would feel both regretful once again and resentful at himself. There was no way to please himself. Everywhere he turned, misery was waiting for him.

They were the first ones to arrive at the cemetery. For they had skipped over the Church portion of the funeral due to Philip's lack of initiative in getting out of bed. Philip took both his Father and Mother's arms and walked in between them. After some time waiting in place, he could feel the air around him vent into the lungs of the gathering mourners. Soon enough, he heard the voice of the priest giving the closing ceremony before they lowered his grandfather's casket into the grave. Philip laughed, this christian priest was preaching about a man that no longer believed or followed in their religion. Philip pictured an ancient medicine man leading a rain-dance around the grave, to honor the Cherokee gods. Philip's mockery sadistically brightened his spirit. The sliding of the ropes lowering the casket lingered in Philip's ears and sent a soft shiver down his spine, giving him goose-bumps. The pitter-patter of the footsteps rounding the hole gave Philip the clue he needed to figure out that everyone was throwing their flowers down the grave and saying their last good-byes.

"And so lays John Archibald Ridge in his final resting place, now and forever, in the glory of god."

The priest gave his last prayer and Philip heard the shovels digging into the earth around him and the dirt being poured into the hole. After a couple minutes of repetitive sounds, Philip was tugged by his Mother, they were getting ready to leave. "I'm gonna stay." He responded to her tug. "But how will you get home?"
"Jesus christ Mom! I'm not helpless." And without anymore debate they left Philip graveside. He sat on the grass, assuming that he was facing the new grave. The air returned to its full presence and Philip took it in with relief. Now that he was alone, he could truly say good-bye to his grandfather. Philip tried to say the words he wanted to say to his grandfather before he died aloud, but only a couple of words came out before he completely broke down...

"I'm... I' sorry....I-"

Philip grasped the blades of grass brushing up against his pant-legs and the tears tried to puncture his scar tissue. But they could not get out, and Philip's misery was building up. His eye sockets felt horrible, tiny pustules filling up with tear-drops. He was a monster. Simply not human. He could not cry. What man cannot cry? Philip tore the grass out of the ground like he wanted to tear the scarred skin off his eyes. But at the climax of his grief a gentle drop of water made a tiny splash on his cheek.

The temperature dropped significantly, the wind kicked up, and the skies darkened. Philip was beginning to see, dim images, inverted colors, green and blue absent, grey and black forthcoming. A storm was brewing, and with it, was Philip's redemption. He stood up and took a look around at this new world of bright storm clouds and black earth.
Commotion in the Sky,
clouds clashing, Asundered Heavens,

The STORM HARVESTER Approaches....


Dr. Randolph took a deep breath. Today he was assisting in a surgery for one of his patients, a nine year old boy named, Mitchell. Not a surgeon, Dr. Randolph sometimes found it to be a trying task, the task of operating, and on a child nonetheless, made it that much more difficult for him to swallow. He mentally prepared himself for the lung transplant the best that he could. Dr. Randolph left the sink, opened the door with his elbow, and entered the O.R. The day ahead of him would be very long and demanding. Outside of the hospital, a heavy thunderstorm was bearing down over the entire area, it even stretched to the cemetery on the other side of town.

Loud cracks in the sky muffled the superficial noises surrounding Philip. He was consumed in his growing world of storm and vision. What was once black and gray was now mixing together and vividly becoming a glowing blue pulse. Like radar, his sight rang out and was sucked back in to map and identify his entire terrain. Perhaps it was synesthesia, perhaps it was insanity, but for Philip it was simply just about damn time. Too long has it been since the caves in Afghanistan, too long has he had to endure the burden of living in a world of darkness. He knew what was coming for him. Philip was prepared to fulfill his promise to the god of his dreams. His baptism had taken place in the lucid dreamworld of the Asundered Realm. Now, he was going to confirm his calling in his own reality.

The uniform droplets of sparkling rain hit Philip's skin in mangled waves.

It paints the cemetery in even more clear detail, giving Philip the gifts of depth and tone. He could practically see again. And what he saw was his grandfather's grave and an approaching tornado behind it. The clouds had twisted and turned and the conflicting fronts met in a dance of wicked winds. Philip knew this was no mere force of nature. It was something more. It was the Storm Harvester. The cyclone jumped and pivoted over the headstones, consciously, making sure not to desecrate or disrespect the dead. A dead give-away to Philip. Clue enough to know that a sentient being of immeasurable power was coming for him.

Dr. Fitzsimons crawled out of the back of his van, popping the collar on his black duster. The rain plastering his tinted sunglasses as he sneaked into the graveyard. The mad doctor had been tailing Philip since he left the hospital in hopes of finding some evidence to support his theory. When Dr. Fitzsimons passed through the spiked iron gates of the cemetery and caught sight of the raging tornado he stopped dead in his tracks. From the doctor's point of view, Philip, who was now standing up with open palms, was face to face with the towering storm. There was not one ounce of compassion for Philip's well-being in Dr. Fitzsimons' thoughts. There was only excitement and anticipation for what was next to come. Both hearts pounded fiercely and irregularly, almost painfully. One for what he was watching, and the other for what he was seeing.

The tornado was still, if that could be rightfully said about such a chaotic fury of winds. But it remained before Philip, unmoved. And Philip was confused. He had no idea what to do next. His instinct told him to step forward, enter the elemental doorway. Give himself, in his entirety, to the grace and mercy of the storm. But his reason and sensibility shouted doubt into his thought process and rejected the idea of entering a tornado. Finally, in one last ode to the past, Philip's inner anger spouted up at his reluctant logic. Fate had been pushing him around his entire life, now was the time to give up his petty resentment and embrace his life. He threw away all the pain and burden that he had been carrying on his shoulders for so long with one step forward. The tornado curled its breezy tips in as Philip stepped forward, and then tail-swept together behind him, turning whole once again. Philip was now inside.

With that one step the mighty winds blew back Philip's doubts, diseases, and deprivations all in one glorious gesture.

Dr. Fitzsimons gasped. To him Philip had just vanished. He stood, frozen in his irksome stance, scandalized. A tornado rampaging over a cemetery, had just eaten his patient. As still as stone, Fitzsimons was the only witness to the infinite glory of Philip Dresden. By the selected wisdom of the gods, he was to do their will on earth. And all Fitzsimons saw was a blind man disappear. The Storm's funnel seemed to dissipate, coming to a conclusion. Dr. Fitzsimons musters enough bravery to move forward and investigate where Philip was last standing. But still in the immediate atmosphere, realized Philip in his pure essence and waiting there was the Lord of Chaos, the Storm Harvester.

Philip looked around, he was stripped of all things material, and knelt amongst a plain of cotton-white smoke. Philip could see his reflection in the smoke. His scars were gone. His face was healed. He had forgotten his eyes. Never quite sure what color to call them, but all the more interested to behold. In fact, he could see his entire body, with no spot or blemish of anything on it. He felt cleansed. Reborn. He closed his eyes and felt the life coursing through him, when a booming presence invades the space and summons Philip to attention. He opens his eyes and succumbs to a most magnificent sight.

Standing there, harnessed in thunder, plated in cold, captured lightning, stretched and coiled, to light up an, otherwise intangible, being was the manifestation of divinity. The smoke circles and surrounds him, its sucks back into the forming figure. The white smoke brought it all together. Like a mighty titan wearing a pristine white cloak, the god was furious winds and tamed lightning held together by the flesh of powder-white smoke. His eyes gave away his chaotic core. Two small spheres of razor-fast winds, confined so close, the ever-present gray amongst their kind erupts as a beacon of their unnoticed impressions. The winds and smoke serve as a canvas for Philip's specifications. When he looks at the god's hair, shimmering smoke rolls over like a curtain onto his forehead. When Philip wonders what he would wear on his feet, the god's feet produce black smoke and retract into two black sandals. And when Philip, at last, wonders what the god's voice would sound like, the mighty lord of nature opens his lungs and speaks to him in a recognizable tone. A tone reminiscent of his dreams...

"Philip Dresden, are you ready to do my bidding?"
"What is lord...that you wish me to do?"
"Find the Catalyst."
"How do I find him?"
"You must return to the Hindu Kush."
"Find solace in retracing your path, and you shall find what you are looking for..."

'What?' thought Philip, but he had far more pressing concerns on his mind, "Will I keep my sight once I leave this place?" His last question's echoes ring out unanswered. The Storm Harvester was gone. Philip stood back up, lost, naked, and now alone. The smoke that once occupied the absent plain vanished with the Asunder God in its concentrated state. Philip felt vulnerable under his current situation, but was ravishing in the fact that he was able to see it. Subtly, a low, intruding, ominous noise jousts at him. First sneaking up on him, but then quickly fading away. It falls into the airy past. And from out of nowhere, after a brief moment of total silence, the Storm Harvester comes charging back, diving at Philip's face, and rushing him to the floor.

By the time Dr. Fitzsimons got to where Philip was standing, right before his grandfather's grave, Philip had reappeared lying on top of the casket, in the graveyard hole, muddy and cold. With a flash of lightning the rains picked up and flooded the hole in the ground, raising Philip to the top. The surge threw his lifeless body onto the wet grassy floor. The tornado never came back, the thunder reeled in the rain, and the storm left for the south. The clouds cleared. Dr. Fitzsimons picked up Philip, covered him with his black duster, and tried to revive him. The sun stretched out over a bemused Philip being rescued by a convoluted Dr. Fitzsimons. They walked, one supported by the other, over to Fitzsimons' van and got in. Dr. Fitzsimons scrambled behind the wheel, desperately trying to record what he saw while he rushes Philip to the hospital. The van barrels down the streets recklessly.

Dr. Randolph stood outside the hospital, in the middle of a five minute break, after assisting in one of his pediatric patient's lung transplant. Going from enjoying the fresh air, to helping his unconscious former patient out of a van and back into the hospital, in little less than an instant, jolts Dr. Randolph into a hippocratic frenzy. He completely bypasses the nurses stations and rushes Philip straight to a room where he pulls out the crash-cart and begins to perform CPR. But before he has to use the crash-cart, Philip comes around and jerks his body frantically as he returns to consciousness. Dr. Fitzsimons wipes Philip's face clean of the raindrops and mud, and softly asks him, "Can you tell us what happened to you?" Philip moaned, but no concrete words came out of his mouth. Again, Dr. Fitzsimons asks him, "Can you remember!?"

"Hindu Kush. I..." Philip chokes for air, "must..." still struggling to get words out, "...go back." His mission now officially revealed.


Philip was let out of the hospital the next day. Before he left, Dr. Randolph got a chance to talk to him without the company of Dr. Fitzsimons. He sat down on the bed as Philip was finishing up changing into his street clothes. "Listen...Philip," he started, "There is no medical reason for why you have gotten your eye sight back. In fact, the amount of scar tissue on your eyes would lead any doctor to believe that your vision coming back would be...well...impossible. You are a very lucky man."
"Luck has nothing to do with it."
"Realistically, it would be like your eyelids were permanently shut. And yet, well...-"
"Look, Doc, I know you're lookin' out for me and everything, and for that I thank you, but some things you just can't explain,"
"That's what I'm trying to get at... Just because you got your eyesight back doesn't mean you're obligated to go back to Afghanistan. I don't know what you've gone through-"
"Exactly! You have no idea what I've been through, and that is why you can't pretend to know what's right for me. I have to do this Doc, so just back off."
"Fair enough. But can I just say one more thing?"
"Make it quick."
Dr. Randolph thought about his next words very carefully, "Fitzsimons... he's not who he seems to be. He's a scientist, a user. Don't trust him, Philip-"
"That's enough. I gotta go. Thanks for everything, Doc. But your part in this tale is over."
"Don't do this Philip!" But Philip had already left the room and was making his way down the hospital and was unable to hear Dr. Randolph's last words of advice, "He can't be trusted..."

Philip walked out of the hospital, slipped on a pair of sunglasses, and took a breath of fresh air. There, waiting for him in his father's '73 Cadillac, was his ex-wife, Sarah. He got into the car, closed the door, and looked over at her with an infectious smile. She could not help but smile back. But that was not enough for Philip. He leaned over, grabbed her by the back of the head, and pulled her in for a kiss. He was radiant. A total change in personality.

"I've been such a fool," he said to her. Sarah put the car into drive and attempted to withhold her tears. Tears of joy. She was so overwhelmed with emotion. Finally, she had found the man she married, the man that she fell in love with at the Millennium Carnival. They drove the rest of the way home in silence. Sarah silently trying to cope with all her erupting emotion, and Philip just enjoying the sights he had missed so much. They pulled into the driveway of Philip's parents' house. Philip greeted both his Mother and Father with affectionate embraces. His mother was stunned, and his Father was awkwardly alarmed. This did not seem like the son they knew. He sat the three of them down in the living room and addressed them with a speech he had apparently been preparing since the hospital...

"You all have been so patient with me, and have done so well by me. And for that I thank you. You stood by me when I was at my weakest, and I intend to repay now that I am better. I know what you are thinking and, although it does not look like it...I really am better. My vision has returned completely. It is hard to explain...which...leads me to my next point. There is something I must do, as a sorted...payment, for this amazing gift."

"What is it, Philip?" asked his Mother.

"I must go back to Afghanistan. For what... I cannot say, but you have to trust me. Once I complete my mission, I will return," Philip paused and knelt down before Sarah, "And when I do, I promise...the rest of my life will be devoted to you. For I am eternally yours." Sarah was dumbfounded by all of this. So many thoughts and questions rattled her brain, and she was still fighting to hold back the surge of emotion quarreling within her. In a sweet release she nodded her head in agreement and kissed him again, while rogue tears streamed down her cheeks. She could not do this enough. Partly because of their renewed vows, and also due to the lurking imminence of Philip's departure. Mr. and Mrs. Dresden held each others' hands and admired their son's marital reunion.

Just then the doorbell rang. Philip ignored the bell and whispered softly into Sarah's ear, "One day I will tell you everything...I promise." Mr. Dresden answered the door. Upon opening it, the family found Dr. Fitzsimons, the Military Scientist, standing in his full military dress uniform. Before Philip rose from his knelt down position, Sarah took off his sunglasses, placed them on the table next to the couch, and said, "I'll be waiting for you," as she kissed his scar-covered eyes. With four words Dr. Fitzsimons concluded Philip's joyous reunion, saying,

"It's time to go."

Philip walked out of the house and got into the Humvee. "Shoot!" he jumped.
"What?" asked Fitzsimons.
"I forgot my sunglasses."
"It's okay, these are for you," Fitzsimons pulled a pair of military issued aviator sunglasses out of the glove compartment and handed them to Philip. He examined the specs and then put them on. Fitzsimons smiled, but underneath... his curiosity was clawing at him. How could this freak-show see after all the trauma to his face? The mad doctor wanted to lock him inside a laboratory and perform experiments on him until he got to the bottom of the mystery. Instead, he put on a phony face, and drove him to the local Air Force base. They fast-tracked it to a hangar where a C-5 Galaxy cargo-aircraft was being prepped for take-off. "All our equipment's waiting on board, and there is a team awaiting our command at Kabul. Congratulations Dresden..."

"For what?"

"Along with your re-activation into the army you have been promoted. Effective immediately, you are now... Colonel Dresden."

They walked up the bay door in the back. Philip buckled in as Fitzsimons went to tell the pilot that all personnel was on board. After a couple of minutes they were ready for takeoff. The plane cleared the runway with a smooth climb in altitude. In no time, they were well on their way to the other side of the world. Philip was now fully embarked on his journey back to where this all started. Half of him was frightened over what was to come. The other half was excited to get to the bottom of all the strange events that have been riddling his life of late.


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 for them. Ten soldiers ready for combat. There was Rex the Sergeant of the platoon. He was sunburnt 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 M4 Carbine, "They've rotated back into to the 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 may 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 hoping 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 made you..." the Doctor spat. Philip wanted to throttle him. If he let is 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."


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.


"... 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...

...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 who he was? Could he let go of the ghosts of his past?


...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?"


...five months ago...

The night cast a murky shade over the downtown area. Jack Hanover scales the silhouetted city skyline after his mentor.


He gets to the top of the tenement. Jack reaches up to the corner of the wall he's climbing and the roof he's climbing to, grabs a good hold, and pulls himself up. Jack rolls over the edge and sprawls out on the roof, gasping, trying to get his breath back. His Sensei is on his feet next to him, bouncing back and forth between his right and left legs. He snaps into a sprint across the span of the rooftop. When he reaches the edge of the other side, his pace maintains haste. The Sensei leaps into the spread of empty space above the alleyway. He points his right foot out, almost like a kick, as his momentum carries him down. With the tucking of his shoulder, the Sensei rolls safely onto the next building. He comes back around to his feet and turns back for Jack.

Jack is speechless. It had to be some forty or fifty feet across. The Sensei waves his hand for Jack to follow him. He peers over at the alley gap and back at his mentor. Jack back-peddles himself over to the far corner, where Sensei started his run. He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and remembers his training. Visualize the landing, attack the jump...

Jack opens his eyes and moves forward into a dead sprint. He runs as though the reaper himself was nipping at his heels. He reaches the edge and unlike the Sensei, Jack has a brief moment of doubt. Although auto-corrected by his stride directly after the hesitation, his momentum is thrown off balance as he flies into the air.

Gravity takes Jack and pulls his body down, slamming his side into the corner of the next building over. He is winded and can't concentrate on grabbing a hold. He slips off the edge and is grabbed by his Sensei who lunged over the side after him. He pulls them both up. Jack tries to get to his feet, after being saved by his mentor. He could feel his ribs were cracked. Each one, starting from the bottom, snapped itself back into place. And Jack could feel it each time. The healing inside him was not natural nor was it pleasant. It was random and specific, as if it had a mind of its own.

Jack had no doubt in his mind that the Divine Catalyst was inside of him. He had been thinking about it ever since his return to Afghanistan. He was the plant now. Did that mean he could heal others? What was the extent of its power? Jack bounced back up and brushed his shoulders off. He ran across the next rooftop and jumped before looking at the next building over. His feet left the roof and crossed into the empty alleyway space. Ahead of Jack was brick, a wide wall spanning twenty stories over Jack's head. He cringed his eyes closed and braced himself with a shot of shiver. In his mind he went back to his visualization of the jump, landing on the rooftop. The impact of brick wall shoves Jack's head into motion. The pain shakes out but the impact is no longer there.

The momentum shifts in a direction unfamiliar with his path. Matter pressing under the soles of his feet. Jack opened his eyes and found himself on the roof of the twenty-one story building. He fell to his knees. The air in his chest was lost. Jack panicked and blacked out. He woke up screaming, a concrete wall going through his shoulder. The pain was excruciating and in its blistering degree showed Jack control. He cringed his eyes closed again and launched himself into the alleyway.

There a man was being beaten up. Splashing around in a dirty puddle along with the kicking legs of his three attackers. Gang related violence, it was clear. Why is it up to Jack to prevent this? They are rats, separate two from fighting and they will just go on to steal. He felt no compassion for these thugs. They were no different from the scum he fought against in Afghanistan. Same criminal, different country. Jack cringes and changes location. He leaves the alleyway, and the beaten up man is left unconscious. His face submerged in the puddle, his body carved out.

Jack's placing shifts out once again and he moves on.

He gathered and was falling down a building side. Clawing at the rising river of brick, looking for a grip. The floor rushed towards him, about to gobble him up before he awoke one last time. Instead of the cold hard alleyway floor, he landed safely on his bed in his apartment. Dr. Randolph was just getting in.

He took off his trench-coat and walked over to his desk, placing a folder next to his computer. Jack caught his breath on the bed, mumbling to himself "...I can teleport..." And then got himself up to greet his friend, returning after almost three weeks of being away. When he stood up, Dr. Randolph was facing him, a grave look on his face.

"What's the matter, Doc?"

"I went home to Oklahoma to get the results of your tests. I had to be careful. As you know we did not have the proper-"

Jack grabbed him and asked, "Did you see my family? Did you see my wife?"

"Yes I did. They are fine."

"Thank god," Jack released the kind Doctor and he went on.

"The results of the tests..."

"No bullshit. Just give it to me straight, Doc."


"...well..." the Doctor stopped to find the right words.

"You're dying."


...five months ago...

"What do you mean...I'm dying...?"

"You have tumors growing in almost every organ of your body, including your muscles and skin...I didn't believe it myself, but the scans don't lie. In a week they will grow so big that you will feel them all over. In a months time they will become visible, deforming your body. After that its only a matter of time before their irregular accelerated growth overloads your body and kills you. Its just a question of which major organ will fail first now."


Jack sat back down on the bed. "..." His thoughts jumped in and out of focus. He struggled to get his head wrapped around one long enough to say, "...But...I feel great?"

"That, I still can't explain. All the tests I took on your rapid eye re-growth came back inconclusive. I don't know what to make of it. Will it prevent the tumors from killing you? Possibly. Could it be the reason you have tumors to begin with? Just as likely."

Dr. Randolph sat down at his desk and put his elbows down, holding his head in his hands. The poor doctor seemed distraught, utterly spent. He had no more answers for his patient. He had no more theories for himself. Dr. Randolph had never felt like this before. His patient defies the laws of nature and science.

Jack got up. The mere thought of someone caring about his own sake to be this upset was compelling. It made Jack feel differently about his fate. He patted Dr. Randolph on the back as he walked by him. Dr. Randolph felt a sudden and brief sensation. His frustrations disappeared and reappeared like a flash. Jack walked out the front door. His Sensei was leaning on the wall beside him. Jack looked forward at the fleeting night. "My powers are growing."

"You will go...through...many changes before you reach the extent of your powers."

"I think...I can heal...others..."

The Sensei stood next to him, as he peered down the same alleyway across the street that his grandson was originally saved by Jack from being mugged. He muttered his next words very carefully, "Let's find out." Sensei nodded Jack's attention down the alleyway. A young girl was being chased and beaten down in the shadows. Jack sprung into action. He ran down the alleyway as they clawed at her clothes, laughing amongst themselves, screaming at her. Jack saw one of them undo his belt and pants. Jack teleported himself before the helpless girl, grabbing the thug's neck and hurling him into the air. Jack elbows the other thug next to him. One thug falls from the air as the other pulls out his glock. Jack turns around to see if the girl is okay. His only mistake.

This gives the thug enough time to fire one shot from his gun. Jack punches his chest and sends the thug into the wall behind them. Both of the abductors lie on the floor, out-cold. The bullet singes the girl's shoulder. She is fades in and out of consciousness, sobbing quietly. Jack gets down, he fixes her shirt and picks her up. Sensei approaches them down the alleyway. A rain cloud moves in above them and opens up. Jack puts the girl down. They are drenched within seconds.

"We should go get Dr. Randolph."

"No. This is your time."

"She could die." The rain splashes his words.

"It is up to you...whether or not she dies."

Jack gets down next to her. She was a young Asian girl. What business could she possibly have for being out here at such a late hour. He puts his hand over her wound. Sensei now stands above him. He hums a meditation for Jack's concentration. Softly he begins to speak...

"Go back to the days of your first encounter with the gift. How it felt to be harmed...and then healed from it. Now you are the healer. It is your turn to deal out miracles. Give this girl the feeling of being healed."

Jack raised his head with his eyes closed and a blue light left his hand, covering her wound. The light bounced off the raindrops and lit the alleyway, revealing the rising the sun. She gasped and woke up. All that remained of her traumas were the blood stains on her clothes. Her shoulder was fine, her conscious clear. Jack and the Sensei helped her up and escorted her home.

"Get some sleep," ordered Sensei, and both him and Jack went home. Jack walked into his apartment and walked past Dr. Randolph, asleep at his desk, as if he had not moved. Jack got in his bed and got some much needed sleep. He did not worry about the tests or his predicted death. Instead, he wondered about his new teleportation and healing powers. He felt like a comic book superhero he used to read about when he was a kid. More and more, Jack considered the possibility of fighting crime...devoting his life to truly becoming a super hero.

What the hell? He was dying anyway...


...almost five months ago...

The dojo was empty on this hazy day. He sat there, facing the mirrors. Looking at himself, alone with the early morning sun. Sensei greeted him with his traditional sneak attack. The old man flew at Jack with a heavy kick. Jack absorbed the shot, letting Sensei hit him, grabbing his leg and using his momentum against him, tossing him across the mat.

"The Flood knows not impatience..." Sensei foretold, "Use the gifts given to you and absorb, then react. You are the one prophesied about. The one who cannot be killed. And much much more..." Sensei leaped at Jack again. Kick. chop. Jab. Jab. Jab. Kick. Roundhouse. Jack caught the old fighter's kick and slammed in onto the mat. Sensei jumped back up. Jack could swear that he heard his body crack. But the Sensei continued to jump around him on the offensive while he preached, "You are the one legend foretells of, and in the days of 2 Suns shall save the Earth."

Jack stopped for a second, "What was that last part?"

Sensei takes the opportunity to attack, double spin kicking Jack in the chest; knocking him off his feet. The Sensei walked over to him scrambling on the floor. "Don't worry, the times leading up to you are described as the Flooded Days. If the temple of the Flood have actually predicted something of that magnitude, we have something much more to prepare for."

"Is there actually a prophecy or are you just messing with me, Sensei?"

"What have I been teaching you since the day you saved my grandson?"

"Flood technique, Sensei."

"Correct. That is no fairytale. This technique derived from a temple deep in the hills. The Temple of the Flood it was called. They taught an ancient time when forces ruled the world. When the forces began to die out, man would rule the Earth. Until the day when the Earth is reborn and both the forces of old and mankind are propelled into the future."

The Sensei had now settled down and began stretching, preparing for meditation. "Do you wish, Jack Hanover...for me to tell you everything right now?"

"No Sensei. No offense, but I can take only so much 'ancient legend' every day."

"All you need to know for now is they call upon the one who cannot die to bring the world together, and you're not going to be able to do that if you're just fighting me every day..."

"Why should I protect them? What would they do for me if my life was is in the gutter?"

"You mustn't think like that."

"How must I think, Sensei?"

"Think what you want, Jack Hanover. Know this...If you never want to be anything in your life keep going on... excusing your actions at the mercy of others."

"You really know how to tell it, don't you, old man!"

The meditation was cut short. Jack looked up in his prone, at ease stance. Sensei was coming down hard on top of him. Jack was punched twice in the face, a penalty for being caught off guard. Tossed forward and kicked back to the ground. Jack got to his feet sliding across the mat. Disrespect was not tolerated inside the dojo.

Sensei swung back around low on Jack, both feet kicking in his knee, shattering his knee cap. Jack fell on the broken knee, and struggled to get back up. The pain was not subsiding. Every time he got hurt his threshold was not diluted by his altered state. The Sensei kept him on his wounded knees with a couple more jabs to the face before he relented. Jack laid beaten on the mat, trying to gather enough strength to take a defensive stance.

Sensei walked away from him and Jack stared up from the floor. He was done. Too exhausted from all the training. Now he knew, when he gets physically tired, he cannot heal himself as quickly as he can normally. "I Learn somethin' new every day about myself, Sensei."

"Good, Jack Hanover."

The Sensei knew exactly what he was doing, what he did not know...was that he would help one of the greatest members of the human race fulfill his destiny and become a global savior. He blindly followed the teachings of the Flood jujitsu, but never thought the prophecies of old would occur in his time.

A Flood is coming, one they say is unstoppable, and it will change the world forever.


...three months ago...

Jack opened his eyes. He had been sleeping for some time. Sensei's training was dwindling out. Ever since their confrontation at the dojo he has been pulling away from Jack. Jack did not know whether this was how Flood training ended or if his master still held a grudge over these past few weeks. It was almost 4 in the afternoon. Dr. Randolph was not in. Jack got his coat on and went for a walk. The street was congested with people. The alleyway was clear. A bright sun lit the hidden urban corridor. But it was still cold out. Jack put his sunglasses on and walked up the block away from the dojo.

He had distracted himself with delusional jujitsu training for long enough. It was time to figure out what he was going to do about Fitzsimons and getting his life back. The Doc said his family was okay. That means Fitzsimons has not gone crazy yet. Either that or he's gone altogether. Jack had to consider all the reasonable explanations. Most of them included the fact that the Storm Harvester still possesses Fitzsimons. Jack knew he was not dead. He knew the Storm Harvester would never quit its search for the Divine Catalyst. And just like it used him to get to it, the unstoppable force would now use Fitzsimons. A lethal combination of sinister intentions and resourceful hosts...the perfect storm of trouble for Jack.

If Dr. Randolph could go and come back without being seen, a trained soldier mastering teleportation should be able to do it with ease. Jack walked down the street. A jeep swerved across the lanes. Three hands with guns came out of the window. Their target was a black man walking down the sidewalk in a long leather jacket and giant golden chain around his neck. He pulled out two guns from his jacket but it was too late. The firing squad gunned him down. All before Jack and other innocent bystanders. One of which was a woman frightened beyond the capacity to move out of the way. Jack jumped for her, shielding her with his back. He screamed in agony as bullets that missed the big leather jacket thug were collected by his back. Jack kept himself from freezing up in pain. He rolled her safely out of the way and the hitmen in the jeep sped off after their target fell.

Jack let her go and checked his own wounds. The bullets were gone and the remaining lacerations were disappearing. He was okay. When he turned back for the woman he found her on the floor. She had been caught by one of the stray bullets. It pierced her abdomen and she was bleeding out on the floor. Jack got down next to her and tried to save her. He pressed his hand on the wound but nothing happened. He tried again, closing his eyes, relaxing his thoughts, and....nothing.

The woman was dead. Jack kept trying to save her. People came out after all the commotion to have a look for themselves. They surrounded Jack who was now trying CPR to get her back. Soon ambulance sirens sounded off. Jack left before they arrived. It was getting dark out. Jack was pissed off. He could not save that woman. She did not have to die. These gangs were out of control. In a dark alleyway, Jack checked his healed wounds. The scar tissue was tightening and expanding. His muscles hurt every day, especially after they were over-exerted. He was finally feeling the effects of Dr. Randolph's diagnoses. Could it be...was he actually going to die? A thought which never crossed his mind while fighting. He assumed it was because of the rush of endorphins in a hectic situation. He always felt better directly after a fight.

Jack got back to his apartment. The whole time repeating over and over again the license plate number of the getaway car. Once inside, he reached under his bed and pulled out a trunk. He opened the giant chest and took out his old army equipment. He strapped the utility belt around his jeans and holstered it onto his belt. He took his Kevlar vest out of his flack jacket and strapped it on over his t-shirt. Jack then took out some eye-black and with his sunglasses still on his face marked himself with urban camouflage. Thick, waving black stripes, only interrupted by the dark glasses. Jack looked at himself in the mirror.

It felt good. Being back in his gear. He even put his boots back on. Jack looked back at his apartment as he stood by the front door. He picked his jacket off the hook and flailed it around as he put it on. The dark coattail made him feel like he was putting on a cape. Jack took his gloves out from the satchel on his utility belt and slowly opened the door. When the coast was clear he crossed the empty street over to the alleyway. Jack climbed the city wall and jumped across the rooftops of the night skyline with disregarded ease.

So started the first night of Jack's new life.
A night that would soon become infamous.
The origin crusade of DarkFlood.


...three months ago...

Jack Hanover watched under the moon from the shadows of the rooftops. He had followed a trail he spotted on the road uptown. And now lay perch on this old city age-stone building. The cement curves produced a protective shell of shadow. Jack prepared his attack.

"And so you have finally chosen the path of the hero..."

A voice stood out behind him. Jack snapped around and there was his Sensei. He turned his back on his mentor; and refocuses on the gang banger that shot the innocent woman he could not heal on the street. "I have yet to decide. Is my training over?"

"I have no more to teach you, Philip"

Jack looked up at the old Asian man. That word stung his ears. That name he could not bear.

"I am going to kill this man when I find him." admitted Jack.

Sensei walked to the back edge and pulled something from the shadows. "Before you go...take this..."

He brought a cloak over to Jack. "Inside all of us there is a darkness. Most learn to keep it at bay there entire lives. This cloak brings fortune down around you, but protects you with dark camouflage." Sensei attached it to his jacket. The cloak blended into the jacket; fusing together with it, becoming one.

Jack felt a warmth over his shoulders, as the cape came over the jacket and the Kevlar vest it forged the three into an uncanny suit. The warmth became fire and bode too much to bear for Jack. The spirit of the cloak had now passed into him, finding a home deep inside Jack's heart. The spirit in itself was not bad, but in its destiny was to only attract the bad of luck and life. On one knee he fixed his suit and stood back up. Under the moonlight he was reborn. He knew one day he would have to call out the cape and use its powers of good overcome sinister fortune, defeating its own legend. But for now he utilized it for its raw powers.

Jack jumped off the rooftop. The cloak caught the air and restructured, becoming sturdy around the edges and parachuting in the middle. He landed off a five story jump with ease. The cape restructured loose.

Sensei watched from above, as Jack went for the car parked in front of the hideout; the same car that the gang-bangers used. He hid around it and jumped the driver as he rounded the car's corner. Jack grabbed his head, turning his forward momentum down, thrashing his head into the car door, and then snapping his neck. The poor dumb ass went for his gun instead of plying Jack's arms off his neck; a fatal mistake.

Jack pulled the pistol for him. It was a desert eagle .50 caliber silver finish with an ivory-white handle. Its clip was full. Jack checked the dead thug's belt. He had an ammo clip next to the holster for the gun. Probably jacked off a dead cop. Jack stole the attachments for his own utility belt. The only proof of this gun was lodged in his own back. He adjusted the holster on his hip. Ready for battle.

Jack kicked the door to the hideout in. Twenty men pulled on him from two open floors of warehouse. Jack turned in his cloak and vanished, teleporting into action. He appeared behind a guard in the corner of the second floor. Shooting him where the spine comes into the hips, breaking him in halves. Jack put his pistol away and grabbed the AK in the dead gangster's hands. He unloaded over the railing, a hip-firing spray that demolished half the upstairs.

Jack dove behind a column and reloaded the AK with the dead man's ammo. He slid the gun over the top of the railing and peered behind it. Through the iron sights he could not see anything without putting his head in danger of getting shot off. But when Jack closed his eyes. Using all his other senses to graph and track the remaining gangsters, Jack sprung up and drained the entire second floor of life, other than his own.

Nothing but sounds next. An AK drops on the floor. 2 Uzi's are swiped. A door opens on the first floor and the door closes on the second floor. Thunderous gunfire erupts the warehouse. Jack teleports into the center of the floor. Bouncing erratically through the air, collecting all the gunfire but none of it landing. Instead the bullets keep traveling across the warehouse into the bodies of fellow gangstas. They put themselves down like animals. Jack stands up with the silver DE in his hand. One gurgle comes from a survivor, Jack pauses. He looks back and disappears. Reappearing behind the last hitman standing, and putting him down with a shot to the head.

Ridding the world of the Dec Dawgs, a gang of thieves, murderers, and drug dealers, Jack gathered what ammo he could, leaving the weapons that were already used, except for the Desert Eagle. He drags a gallon of gasoline empty across the entire warehouse floor. Before he leaves he lights the gas with his Zippo and burns the hideout down. He walks out of the fiery wreckage unseen by any camera or witness. He leaves no trace behind.


...three months ago...

Jack made his way across the roof. The police had shown up long after he escaped the neighborhood. Now he had explored all the way up the Manhattan isle, to the scrapers. He climbed the hundreds of floors with ease. Like a cat he mounted the corner and grappled his way to the top. Now Jack rested on the perch. He sat and he watched the sun rising. It was a new day, a first day. The first morning he has felt good since he could remember. Jack could feel it. He was powerful. He looked at his own hand. He looked across the sky at the next skyscraper. It was the Empire State Building. Jack focused on the observation deck platform and closed his eyes. He jumped off the adjacent rooftop and right before he began the descent of his arc teleported. When he materialized, Jack was standing on the observation deck platform. His cape waved in the wet cloud air. Alarms sounded off. He must have tripped a security measure.

Jack jumped over the jagged gates and slipped down the corner. He sprawled out and remained close to the Empire State Building as he free fell through the air. He pictured his bed as clear as he could in the apartment with Dr. Randolph. Jack dematerialized.

When he came back into reality after the flash-jump, Jack found himself sitting in his bed. Dr. Randolph is startled off his seat upon Jack's arrival.
"Sorry Doc."
The kind Doctor examined Jack's state from his seat. He took a break from his dubious work to check up on Jack.

"That's some get-up" he diagnosed.

Jack laid back in the bed and passed out. He claim victory over this day. Tomorrow was already shining through the cracks the blinds. He closed his eyes and had thoughts of the world of tomorrow. Jack quickly fell asleep.

...two months ago...

The kids ran into the alleyway wall. Their hair was grabbed and their heads were thrust into the bricks, breaking their faces. Jack appeared in between the kids and the muggers. With his back to the muggers, he wrapped his hand around the kids faces and teleported out of there. He landed on the rooftop across the street. It was a two story church. Jack fixed their faces for him and sent them on their way. They did not say a word. A young couple, guy and girl, nearly being killed, desperate and grateful to walk out of the entire encounter unscathed. Jack showed them the door inside and teleported back to the alleyway. The two muggers were already fleeing. He caught their trail and got ahead of them.

Jack tripped one with the other and hung them both up upside down in the alleyway. When the police would eventually find them, they would find drugs and stolen goods in their pockets. Every thug was dirty down here. It was never going to get better. No matter how powerful Jack could become. It would never be good enough.

He went back to training on a rooftop in midday. He was fine-tuning a new power. He had triggered a camouflage reflex like that of a chameleon only a couple of days ago. Now Jack was learning how to reflect the light into focused rays, and send it out in a burst.

He was learning quick that his powers were constantly evolving. It made him feel uneasy. Like he was being equipped for something far greater than all of this. Jack feared that Fitzsimons was still alive somewhere. He wanted to go home and see his family, his wife. That hasn't changed. And he doesn't think it ever will.

Jack went invisible, drew the light together and down, then in, focusing it and exploding it out in a wild burst of white hot sun-rays. It glistened before it ignited, the air. After the light from the flash faded there stood Jack once again visible. He still could not remain invisible after letting out the burst. But his Sensei's training had taught him how to master his skills.

Word was spreading of Jack's presence. Petty thieves and bums left the neighborhood, leaving only the gangs. Some say it was worse after that. Gunfights in broad daylight. Drive-by's in front of schools and churches. murders and rape reported every day. He destroyed one small time sect. He needed a much bigger plan to eradicate the major city gangs. Jack would have to do some research first. He slowly planned out his next couple of days as he mastered his camouflage.


...two months ago...

The meeting of the families was never an easy thing. The Triads did not like the blacks, and the meatballs from Staten Island had always staked a claim in China Town. With this most recent rise in crime sprees and gang-related violence, pressure was coming down from all 4 families. The Downtown 9ers were the first ones to start war with the Triads. They came from Washington Heights over 20 years ago now. Since then, the family has spun off into smaller sects of petty drug gangs. They all in serious wartime called themselves collectively the 9ers but anytime else were small-time thugs trying to make a name for themselves. One of which used to be the Dec Dawgs before they were taken out.

The Italians used to be a heavy influence with Hell's Kitchen just in the adjacent neighborhood. Steadily since the 90's they have been withdrawing from NYC and settling in Jersey. But that is not to say they did not still control many properties and businesses in China Town. The Mafia used China Town's ambiguous juxtaposition as a perfect cover for drug and gun trafficking. They would reside in Newark and Elizabeth, and watch over they're interests indirectly, never having to worry about being pinched by the government.

Back in the late 80's a vast wave of Russian immigrants came to Manhattan. They called themselves the Stoyevski family after their crime-boss, Demetri Stoyevski. Their criminal fraternity controlled all of the underground casinos and illegal gambling in the downtown area. They chose China Town, just like the Italians as a front for their seedy businesses. All of a sudden nightclubs began popping up all within the markets of China Town.

Chinatown had become overcrowded entering into the 2000's. Police did not waste time or manpower in keeping 4 gangs out of such a small part of downtown Manhattan. Soon they're presence was evacuated, and the simple people who lived under the Triad's long sovereign rule could not safely walk down the street. The 9er's and the Stoyevski Family made a war-zone out of the old china village. The Chinese families that had lived there for years putting down roots did not leave, but hunkered-down, hiding in their homes. Gang-bangers and Drug-dealers ruled the streets. And that is when fate placed you here, Philip Dresden-"

"Don't call me that."

"...That is when you saved my only living grandson from our nightmares."
"No one can know who I really am."
"No one will ever know but me."
"Thank you, Sensei."
"I promised your Grandfather, just as he had foreseen..."
"How could he possibly have known I would ever be here?"
"The power of the Flood should never be underestimated."
"I will bring this town back from the lost."
"Then you must make it known to your enemies, when the families meet tonight at the Slaughterhouse Hall."
"I will end this all tonight."

"GO FORTH! DarkFlood!"

Jack turned around. This was a new feeling. He was not being called Jack. He was not being called Philip. He was not being called Colonel. He was not being called Sir. He was being called something else entirely.

Sensei continued, "If you do not do this right, you may change things more than you can control."
"They deserve to die."
"Do what you must."
"Thank you, Sensei."
"If I am not here in the future there is something you must know..."

"..." Jack had a inkling his master knew tragedy was coming.

"All that you seek is not here, but in temple."
"There will come a day when I am not here-"
"Don't say that."
"If the time comes you will have questions beyond understanding. They will be found not here in New York City, but in the East."
"Flood technique is not just a family heirloom. It was once a religion. It is many things. But mainly an idea. The temple explains all..."
"Where is the temple, Sensei?"
"Only it can tell you."
"Am I suppose to believe that bullshit?"
"Not right now, no."
"What am I suppose to do then?"
"Go out and rid this city of the wicked."

The strange old Chinese man led Jack to the old slaughterhouse building, where they held their meetings. They were all in there. All of the heads of the families. If a cop was here, he would be useless unless they drew their weapons on him. If he was still soldier, these terrorists would be put down. That is what had to be done. This was a sweep op. Jack had to think about this carefully. It had to be either quick and big or quiet and hidden.

Jack stood still and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and teleported behind the 9er's King Pin. He grabbed the big black king pin and teleported back up into the rafters. He snapped the 350 lbs. Armani suit wearing gangsta neck and took his gun. Jack checked the clip of his silver .50 Desert Eagle. It was full. He loaded the chamber and pulled out his other pistol.

Jack checked his watch as he held both pistols crossed over before him. It was time. Jack then closed his eyes and teleported once again. This time he materialized standing at the center of the meat table they were all sitting at. Jack began firing at the heads of the Stoyevski family right next to him on both sides. The bodyguards jumped in front of Demetri Stoyevski, but that did not save him. The bullets kept coming, putting them all down as he turned his fire on the rest of the table. As he emptied the clips he straightened his arms out and prepared to reload.
The Triads were not there. This was alarming. Jack spun around and finished reloading, sliding off the table and finishing off the Russian family and 9ers.

Jack stood, back against the wall, 2 more bullets in his guns.

The Mafia Don got up and was walking towards Jack with his boys. They had bats, and clubs, guns, and knives. The Mafia Don himself was laughing. "You did me a favor..." he jested, "Whoever the fuck you are!?" Right before he began firing on Jack along with the rest of his crew. Two had automatic pistols, together they drilled apart the wall Jack was hiding behind.
Jack took a deep breath. He stood up and fired the two shoots. From each gun they sailed straight forward from his arms into their goomba-johnny faces. And then DarkFlood disappeared. The guns fell to the floor. The Mafia Don stood confused with his boys. They looked around and stayed alert.

Little did they know that Jack was sneaking around them in camouflage. He found a blade from the ground and tip-toed up against one of the goons left. He put the knife through the back of his throat, cutting his voice-box and keeping him from screaming. Jack grabbed the gun in the mobster's dying hand and began firing it on the rest of the gangsters. He killed them all before they could act, everyone except for the Mafia Don. He left him armless and crippled on the ground. The gangs would scramble after this. It would all be blamed on the Triads. Jack should have realized this before he started his assault.

Time moving forward is time spent not reliving your mistakes.

He ran out and gathered what evidence he could on the bodies. Luckily, most of them had drugs like cocaine on them, and identification. The police would be no problem on this one. DarkFlood left as if he was never there. He wish not to be known or talked about around town. An unseen presence watching...guarding the innocent...ridding the world of evil. He asked for no recognition or thanks, just for privacy and liberty.

Jack left the place without a hint he was there, or a trace back to him. He was in the clear. Now he must focus on the Triads. What would happen to them now that all the heads of the other families are dead? He must find Sensei, before it is too late. Jack hurried back to his small apartment in China Town, NYC.

A war was coming. One in the streets. A day is near where DarkFlood will no longer go hidden in the shadow. He had stirred the cauldron, the tides were shifted beyond repair. The streets will flood with gangsters and criminals rioting their leaders' deaths. Rampaging through the Triads and China Town district; all because of what Jack did.


Jack lay on his bed listening to the police dispatch radio he had stolen from a patrol car. He was keeping a close watch on his city. Since he had killed the big figureheads and leaders of the crime racket in China Town, the Triads had moved in completely kicking out all the other families. There had not been only Chinese families living in this area since the first founders of China Town. Ever since their immigrant days the Triads have seen countless other criminals try to move in on their neighborhood.

Jack was comforted by their rule as a gang. There were little-to-no petty burglaries or assaults on innocent people. Only big picture crime syndicates like arms and drug trafficking and underground casinos. They kept their thugs and whores off the street, and the neighborhood kept out of their business. That is how it has always been. There is no trouble in that, until you have to deal with invading gangs.

But he was still expecting something...something big....

They would not let the Triads go unchecked, unchallenged, or get away with the Slaughterhouse Massacre. The first time Jack heard that catch phrase in the news he laughed. He had a good laugh. It was all too cliche to be real. But he knew out of everyone, the darkness that he wrought on that night against the corrupted and the wicked. Revenge would come, but not for him, it would come for the Triads. The only ones logically held responsible for the massacre. It was down to another choice for Jack...

Let the Triads rule or let them all wipe each other out?

Which would you do? Jack could not make a decision.

He had to find his Sensei. But he has been searching for him for weeks now. And has yet to find him. The last time Jack saw his Sensei was the night of the massacre. He remembered that night the old Chinese Man spoke weird. It was unlike his master to be so roundabout and indirect. From the day Jack met the old wise man, in his dojo, he was never anything but straight-forward and direct. Until that night he talked about a temple in the East.

But Jack knew deep down he was not dead. For one, the Sensei's family and dojo, including his grandson, were all cleared out. He knew, and did not feel insulted, that the Sensei did what he had to do to keep his family safe. It probably hurt him more than anyone. To leave the land that he loves.

He sat back up on his bed. He was out of leads. He had nowhere to go. Jack had to think. He needed to talk to the Triads as DarkFlood, but that would make his presence known. The only other option would be surveillance. He didn't know the first thing about tech. That was always somebody else in the squad. Right now, DarkFlood was an army of 1. That's when Jack looked up to find his long loyal yet persistently distant friend, Dr. Randolph.

Dr. Randolph was examining something with a microscope on the desk with his computer. Jack asked Randolph, "What's new inside the wide world of that microscope, Doc?" Dr. Randolph did not answer at first. But finished his experiment. He got up and walked over to the front door. He opened the case beside it and took out the fire extinguisher. Dr. Randolph walked straight for Jack. This time he knew what was coming.

Jack took a step back, but curiosity kept him from running.

Dr. Randolph sprayed Jack with the fire extinguisher. He put his forearm out to block the rest of his body, ducked, and took the blow. His arm got cold and frozen stiff. Dr. Randolph emptied the tank and put it down. The smoke escaped all over the floor and they looked at Jack's icy arm.

Jack was getting used to pain. He went to chop the frozen arm with his other hand. He assumed the doctor's theory was that his arm would grow back. But that is not what the Doctor was intending.

Dr. Randolph tried to stop Jack, but he went through with his hit anyways. Jack's other hand chopped right through the ice but when it came to his arm felt like he hit stone. The ice splintered and when Jack pulled his hand out, it shattered and fell to the floor.

"Just as I suspected."


Dr. Randolph had been doing thorough research on his patient's condition. "At first I was wrapped around the tumors in your body and why they were not progressing. I mean malignant tumors that do not grow are theoretically impossible. I though something was keeping them from growing, working for your body. A couple of days ago I came to a dead end. That is when I thought of something. A stone not yet unturned..."

Jack looked down at his arm, "...stone..."

"Yes, stone...Your body, those tumors, they don't act like anything natural, but they are not completely random..."

"What are you saying, Doc?"

"Your condition has a mind of its own like a symbiotic organism. It needs you just as much as you need it, that's why it repairs you...."

Jack's arm turned from stone back into his regular skin. Dr. Randolph kept going, "and defends you. My theory is that is why you teleported in the first place, to save yourself from dying. After that initial activation of that ability it seems that you can control the power at will. If my hypothesis is true I'm going to need you to try and turn your body to stone now..."

Jack stood back and looked at his arm, he looked at both of his arms and then closed his eyes. He flexed his muscles and thought about how he felt when the fire extinguisher was devouring his arm. He thrusts his forearm out and opens his eyes.

His arm is made of stone. Jack looks further and his entire body was stone. He moved and felt the joints of his body grinding stone against stone. When Jack exhaled the stone disappeared. He returned to his natural skin. Dr. Randolph smiled, "Exceptional, Jack."

"Thanks, Doc" Jack panted.

"The longer you can maintain that form-"

"The longer I am impervious. "

"I wouldn't say impervious...but you can break down walls."

 CHAPTER TWENTY month ago...

Jack walked with Dr. Randolph back over to his desk. Dr. Randolph put the resulting data into his computer. "Now that that's over with, you wanna talk to me for a sec?"

"It's not just the stone, Jack."


"Theoretically...your body will adapt to anything your throw in its way. And then you can utilize that ability any time you want after."


"So, the possibilities are endless!"

"Don't sound so excited, Doc."

"I say we throw you off the roof first."

"DOC! Your not gonna throw me off the roof."

"What if it grants you the power of flight?"

Dr. Randolph stood behind Jack with his eyes closed atop the roof of their apartment building.
"Are you sure about this, Doc?" Jack was worried. If this is how he got the teleportation ability, then what if refusing that instinct to teleport away leads him to falling to his death?

"We won't know if we don't try. Just put off teleporting until you have no other choice..."

Dr. Randolph pushed Jack off the ledge of the rooftop. He fell the short two stories and braced for impact. He did not try to teleport. He tried to think about what flying would feel like. To be able to manipulate the air between one's fingers was the power of a god. Jack heard Dr. Randolph screaming but he could not make out what he was saying as the building rose to his plummet. It was probably more theories or instructions.

Finally the floor came up upon him and he could do nothing to stop it from crushing his body. He threw his arms out like he did for the stone. But instead of his skin changing, his palms released a blast that slowed his velocity down tremendously. Jack bounced back up in the air a little before falling again. He shot out two more blasts from his palms and it slowed him down enough to drop safely onto the curbside ground.

People looked at him from both sides of the street. He ducked into the corner and ran down the alleyway. When Jack got back around to his building, Dr. Randolph was coming down the fire-escape. "Have you tried it on command yet?"

"No, Doc. I came right back here."

"Ok, Close your eyes and begin to recall-"

"Yeah, I think I got the hang of it now."

Jack closed his eyes and shook his hands. Nothing happened. He took a deep breath and tried it again. He could feel a slight charge up in his hand. He felt nervous. The kinetic energy welling in his hands had to be released. But he could not trigger it. He tried again and felt a tear. Jack was unsure of what he was doing. It felt like to him, that he was tearing a hole in the atmosphere. He trusted himself and allowed the energy to boil over. At first it felt okay, the energy slowly growing within him. But as the feeling became too great, and all of his body was packed with energy. He could stand it no more and let it take over. Jack tries to aim the pressure build up.

The resulting overload comes ripping out of Jack's palms into the atmosphere, shocking the air and pushing the pressure down. The shock wave lifted Jack off his feet. He flung about two stories into the alleyway sky. Jack flailed his arms around like windmills as he arched and approached his downfall. When the ground came rapidly back at his face, Jack put his hands out and blasted out two shock waves again, reversing his inertia. He still had little control and thrust himself back too hard, landing harshly on the alleyway floor. A puddle dampens his head.

He looks up and it is not Dr. Randolph standing over him, but an unknown assailant holding the butt of a rifle over Jack's head. Before he can teleport away or even react, Jack is knocked unconscious with a rifle-butt and dragged away.

It is some time until Jack awakes. When he does he find that he is not alone in being abducted.

Dr. Randolph is tied up next to him along with two more hooded figures tied to chairs. There is only one light in the room. It swings above his head, lighting only him, Dr. Randolph, and the other two. The rest of the room is dark. A door opens light on the rest of the scene. Two gangsters dressed in dark suits with a red dragon emblem on their ties approach the prisoners. Jack had no doubt in his mind now.

They were Triads.

They take the hoods off of the other two prisoners. Jack's mind is racing. Who could it be if not Randolph? Did they find his old life? Did they find his Mother and Father? Good God, did they abduct his wife? Poor Sarah thinks he is dead. What will she think now? All this time has gone by and Jack did not return to her. The hoods came off of the two prisoners and Jack was wrong entirely.

It turns out, Sensei and his grandson never left the city...

 CHAPTER TWENTY ONE month ago...

 "Remember all that I have taught you, DarkFlood..."

The damp Triad holding room shines one ceiling light on Jack, Dr. Randolph, Sensei, and his grandson. The room was stale and hot. Everyone was sweating over their bounds and gags. Sensei was preoccupied with making sure his grandson was okay. He had no time for instructions. Jack looked over at Dr. Randolph. He twisted out of his muffle and yelled, "What are you waiting for!?" Jack knew what he had to do. But when he checked with his Sensei, he realized...

This was not the time to reveal his power.

Randolph kept flipping out. Jack was trying to figure out what the Triads had planned. The last he had left it they were thriving in a hood now vacant of any other gang. They should be thanking Jack, if anything, not punishing him. Maybe they thought because Jack killed every other crime family in Chinatown, they better strike first or risk being next on Jack's list.

He could not risk the lives of his friends. He must do something before they come back in. He knew the next time a Triad walked through that door, someone would die. It was up to Jack whether or not it would be one of his friends of one of the guards. Jack still could not believe this was happening.

Jack was under the impression that the gangs of the kingpins that he assassinated would come for him before long. Never in his wildest dreams, did he imagine the Triads being responsible for the early termination of DarkFlood. Jack could not sit idly by and let this happen. And yet something was keeping him from releasing his super human abilities.

"They will take us away."

"Away where?" Jack asked the old Chinese man.

"They will take us before the Dragon Leaders for our execution."

"...." Jack put it together, "...You want me to unleash my fury then?"

Sensei nodded his head. He closed his eyes and exhaled. He was tired. Jack looked deep in the old man's eyes. All of the long exciting years of the quiet Sensei's life had finally caught up with him. As if he was already defeated, or accepted something Jack did not know. He continued talking to his student, "Then we will have put an end to all of this..."

"...Once and for all..."

Jack took inventory of all his abilities. First there was his ability to heal rapidly. Or as Dr. Randolph deemed it, "Catalization." Next there was the Flood Martial Arts technique that Sensei taught him. Next was his camouflage. After that was the tumors in his body responsible for his super strength and reactive stone armor. And last was his pulse blasts from his palms. Combined his almost had a full outfit of useful wartime abilities. If used together, both the defensive powers of armor and healing, and the offensive powers of super strength and pulse blasts would make Jack unstoppable.

Right now he could not use them. He must save up all his power for the showdown Sensei had foretold. Jack sat in his seat and began to gather the energy and fury from within. This would be his biggest triumph yet. Once he laid the Triads to waste, Chinatown would be free of crime. Jack remembered his fight at the Slaughterhouse, it would be nothing compared to this. Sensei watched on and Randolph and Sensei's grandson began to comprehend what was happening.

The door unlocked. The echo of the key pivoting within the door echoes in the small dark room. The door swings open and in walk five men dressed in black suits and red ties. They are armed with SMG's, tiny machine guns that make almost no noise; except for one. One walks a silver pistol with a golden dragon on its handle over to Sensei and fires it through his head.

The blast knocks the old dead-man's chair to the floor.

His brains slide across the blood to the side of Jack's boot. Sensei is dead. His grandson cries, strapped to his chair. Randolph screams for Jack to do something. But he just sits there, in awe. His mentor is dead. First his Grandfather, now Sensei. All he could do now, is follow through with Sensei's last requests.

To put an end to all of this once and for all. . .

 CHAPTER TWENTY TWO month ago...

They were taken from the room with one light, taken away from Sensei's remains. As Jack walked still bound and gagged, he took his observations in great detail. They appeared to be in the boiler room of a building. After that they were brought to an elevator and taken to the top floor. This building was over a hundred stories high. They got off at floor 169 and brought to the master suite.

Once inside, Jack found the Dragon Leaders waiting. The entire outer wall of the suite was glass. One giant window revealed Manhattan in all its infinite glory behind the Triad Crime-bosses. There were seven of them, along with over twenty armed guards. They sat amongst the guards in over-stylized chairs and couches. In a crescent they awaited the prisoner's arrival with an empty sacrificial altar.

Jack had no doubt in his mind. This was kill or be killed.

Dr. Randolph and the kid were brought to the altar along with Jack.

"Mr." the kid cried under his gag.

Even Randolph tried nudging Jack to do something. But Jack was too busy concentrating. He was placed at the center of the altar. Randolph and the kid were placed on both sides of him. They were forced on their knees and the bounds and gag were taken off of Jack. Bad mistake. The Dragon Leaders must have wanted an explanation first.

They would never get one.

Jack grabbed the kid and Randolph and teleported out of the room. All the men in the room gasped. The guards held their guns up at no target. Jack teleported back into the room for a split second before leaving again. He left in the suite, a massive orb of light that exploded, knocking all in the suite to the floor, and shattering the giant window to a million pieces.

The man holding the silver pistol with the golden dragon was the High Dragon Leader, the head of the Triads. He put his hand over his brow when a profile silhouette appeared before him. A cape waves in the sporadic winds. The blinding light of the explosion fades and there stands DarkFlood.

The guards open fire on him. Stone armor comes up under the Kevlar vest, and the bullets that do get through are absorbed. They empty their clips and the room, except for the winds, gets quiet. DarkFlood turns invisible, hiding behind his camouflage and teleports. When he reappears behind the High Dragon Leader, Jack is still invisible.

He is learning to use more than one power at a time.

DarkFlood slips the silver pistol with the golden dragon emblem on its handle into his utility belt. He teleports 6 times. Jack reappears in the center of the room, on the sacrificial altar before the High Dragon Leader. He drops the 6 hearts of the Dragon Leaders on the altar.

The remaining Triads open fire on DarkFlood as he vanishes behind his cape. They all gather in front of the High Dragon Leader as he now fears for his life. He pulls a samurai sword with another golden dragon on its handle off the wall and watches DarkFlood finish off his men.

DarkFlood pulls his army knife out and teleports in between the guards, ripping their throats out with his blade and tricking them into firing on each other until they are all dead. All except for the High Dragon Leader and his samurai sword...

Jack shoots a pulse blast out at the High Dragon and he cuts it in half with the samurai sword.


How could he know Flood Technique?

"The same way I knew your Sensei..." answered the High Dragon.

"How did you-"

"The Flood is much more powerful than your Sensei taught you..." interrupted the High Dragon.

"It wont matter in one second!"

Jack drew his gun and the High Dragon tried to do the same. Only his silver gun with the golden dragon emblem on its handle was not in his hand but in Jack's. He fired the gun once. Before the bullet went into the High Dragon's head, the High Dragon used his telepathic power to transfer a part of his own psyche into Jack's head. Jack would not be aware of this for some time to come. The High Dragon would have to regain his strength first. But to Jack, the head crime-boss was dead. The Triads were no more. DarkFlood dropped the silver pistol and cleaned the crime scene of any proof that him or his friends were there.

Jack teleported back to his apartment where Dr. Randolph was tending to the kid. He was hysterical. Jack felt responsible for the death of his grandfather. Jack also knew what it felt like to lose one's grandfather. And so Jack decided to take the kid in and watch over him. Which meant he would finally have to learn his name...


...just a couple weeks ago...


"Jason, you're okay..."

Jack and Dr. Randolph tried to console the poor kid after losing his grandfather. After all, he had no other family. His parents were still over in China. When he was only a couple of months old he was sent to America with his Grandfather for a chance at a new life, a better life. Now, at age 15 his Grandfather was dead, and poor Jason was alone.

Jack stood over the kid. He knew what had to be done. Jack would look after him like his own. And one day get him back to his family in China. . .

Dr. Randolph would later put in papers to legally adopt Jason. But for now, Jack took him back to the dojo, one last time, to collect all his stuff and take care of Sensei's remaining affairs. Jack walked slowly through the dojo. He put his bare feet on the mat and stared at the mirrored wall. It felt hollow in here without the Sensei. Dark and dry, the atmosphere was. Jack wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. That is when he saw it. A chest before the wall of weapons and gear that has never been there before. It stands out from the wall, placed there to be noticed.

Could it be? Did Sensei predict his own demise?

Jason was inside his room packing all his belongings and clothes. Jack approached the giant chest. It unlatched easily and so he opened its lid. Inside, were stacks of scrolls, rolled together with gold binding. He took them out along with a black katana blade. The katana had a golden emblem on its handle, just like the one from the Triad's High Dragon Leader. Except this one was not of a dragon, but a great wave washing over the Great Wall of China.

The scrolls were almost too many to carry, let alone read right there on the spot. Jack grabbed a gym bag from the floor and placed the scrolls and blade inside, along with some of the weapons and gear on the wall when Jason walked out of his room. He stopped and watched Jack finish packing the bag next to the open chest.

"What's that?"

"It appears as though your Grandfather left us his last will and testament. We shall go over it together when we get back to the apartment."

But Jack and Jason would be caught by Dr. Randolph on their way back. Clouds gathered above them. The temperature dropped a couple of degrees. Jack asked Randolph what was wrong. It was clear after Dr. Randolph brought them around the corner, what was going on. The corner market was up in flames. The store was located at the bottom of a tenement house, but next to it was a sixty story skyscraper that was beginning to catch fire.

"Jack, you have to help them."

Jack looked at the Doc, as a fire engine came roaring down the block. "That's what fire fighters are paid to do." The clouds dropped and the pressure in the air grew thin. "Besides," Jack continued, "it's about to rain anyways."

Just then, the sky opened up and thunder blasted the sky. Rain poured heavy on the city, but that did not stop the fire from reaching the skyscraper. The fire had found new food, food that burned quicker. On the street, people screamed as they ran away of the fire and the firemen ran into the building.

"MY SON!" yelled a guy in the smothering rain standing next to them. Jack watched Jason's heart break. Still, for him, the burden of losing his grandfather was all too much to bear. It was too soon. And Jason's mind was directly tapping into the father's fever to save his son. Jack could tell all of this from the kid's eyes and expressions.

Randolph said what Jack was already thinking when the last fire fighter ran into the burning building. "If he can't do something, you must..."

Jack's temptation's flickered. This was not his fight. He is a crime fighter, not a hero. The men rushing into that inferno without any super human healing abilities are the heroes. That is when Jack knew Randolph was right. He teleported and was back in a couple of seconds, now in full DarkFlood gear.

Before disappearing into the shadows of the storm, Jack made one last remark, "If I'm gonna do this... I'm gonna do it right." And DarkFlood entered the fiery wreckage of the crumbling building. Dr. Randolph consoled the father.

"Relax, my friend, your son is in good hands. What is your name?"

"I am Lazarus."

"That is a loaded name."

"I don't understand what you mean?" the foreigner said. He looked like he was from the Middle East. Perhaps Israeli with that name. But his accent put him on the other side of Judeo-Christian background.

"I drive a cab. Me and my son live on the twenty first floor."

Dr. Randolph wished there was a way for DarkFlood to hear this. Instead the caped crime fighter tumbled through the residential floors of the burning building. It was cleared out for the most part. After climbing as far up as where the firefighter's were, DarkFlood jumped ahead to the highest floors and searched for trapped people. When he found someone, Jack would sneak up on them and teleport them to safety, never revealing himself. That is, until he found Lazarus' son on the twenty first floor.

Jack teleported down yet another floor after clearing the one he was on. According to his count, he was down to the twenty first floor. He swept the first couple of apartments and they were empty. When he entered apartment 2121, the fire blew a hole through the wall, knocking Jack to his feet. He crawled under the cinder and drywall burning to ashes on top of him. Lightning carved the horizon out the broken window closest to Jack. He used it for air.

DarkFlood climbed around the fire as it ate through the remaining rooms. He kicked the bathroom door in and found a kid hiding in a bathtub full of water. He could not have been older than five or six. Smart kid. DarkFlood stood before him, frozen, watching above his head...the crack on the ceiling.

The fire breached the roof of the bathroom and it came hurdling down towards the kid and DarkFlood.

Dr. Randolph watched on with other passers-by. "What is going on here?" asked an approaching man with an apron on.

"Just whut we needed...another Muhammad." scoffed a dark, southern stranger, chewing on a lit cigarette.

"I am not Islamic, I am Haitian-American and my name is Moses. I own the store across the street."

Dr. Randolph's head jumped upon hearing yet another odd name.

"Who asked?"

"His boy is trapped in the fire and none of the fire fighters can seem to get to him." put Jason blatantly.

Dr. Randolph nudged him out of anger as Lazarus sunk his head in utter despair. He tried once again to run into the building. It took Dr. Randolph, Jason, the Haitian deli clerk, the racist southerner, and two others to hold him back.

In a tussle to the ground, the Haitian and the Southerner ended up fighting each other as Randolph pinned down Lazarus.

"Get off me!" screams the Haitian as he pushes the hick off and gets back to his feet.

The southerner pats the dirt off his vest and points his finger at the Haitian, "Touch me again, shine, And I kill ya." The rain stops just as quickly as it started and the clouds part. And there, in the gleaming sunlight of the thunderstorm's afterglow, comes an event that would forever go down in history, as the genesis of the Super Hero. . .

The Haitian and the redneck run back at each other, but right before they collide, DarkFlood appears holding Lazarus' son in his arms.

They all stop and behold the sight of a caped and masked stranger appearing out of thin air. He stands with the boys body laying limp in his arms before the emerging sunlight. He lays the boy down on the floor and lets his father tend to him. The rest awe at DarkFlood. Some take their cellphones out and take pictures. Some even take video of DarkFlood. Not many before he disappears once again. . .

Back into the blazing inferno.

Dr. Randolph and Lazarus try to get his son to breathe. Nothing seems to be working. Dr. Randolph screams for Jack. DarkFlood reappears above them and kneels down before the boy dying on the floor. He holds him with both hands and closes his eyes. The shock and the burns and the smothered lungs are absorbed by Jack, he bleeds under his suit. His disguise hides it well. The kid wakes up and DarkFlood vanishes again.

Later, when the coast is clear. Jack reappears in the alley and takes off his DarkFlood gear. The southerner walks out of the shadow and flicks his cigarette into a puddle. The rain has stopped. "I got you."
Jack looks up, startled.
"Don't run. I just want to talk."
Jack decides to hear him out and not teleport away immediately.

"My name is Turner Sans and I have a very unique set of skills. I can help you. I'm sorry, I didn't catch yur name . . . . . ."



...just a couple of weeks ago...

Turner Sans lights a cigarette with a golden Zippo lighter. Flicks it shut and slides the Zippo back into his vest pocket. DarkFlood stands before him, arms crossed, face drawn on by the alleyway shadow. He finishes hearing what this joker has to say, and gives him his already predetermined answer, "You make an interesting offer, Mr. Sans. But I must decline."

"This will not be the last you hear from me."

"My answer will always be the same."

"The time will come when are roles shall be reversed."

DarkFlood had nothing else to say to him. He wanted to check on the kid. He knew he would be able to as Jack Hanover without causing a scene as DarkFlood. A quick teleport to the apartment and back finally shook this southern hack off his back and returned to the fire, now finally put out.

The kid still rested on the floor, along with his father, Dr. Randolph, Jason, and Moses who had a boy of his own now huddled amongst all of them. The boy who Jack saved from the fire was okay, just still in shock. He continuously gasped for air, as if he was still suffocating in that bathroom. Poor boy was deeply traumatized.

Jack came back over. His wounds were healed. He had stopped sweating. All his tells were wiped clean. He got to Randolph and Jason and asked what happened. They played along well and nobody was the wiser. DarkFlood's identity remained concealed...

For now...

Jack got down next to Dr. Randolph, he was still not at ease. Dr. Randolph knew they needed to help more, knew Jack needed to help more. With DarkFlood now gone, he must come up with a solution anyway. Randolph looked around, "Ah..." he speaks up, "This is my colleague Dr. Hanover," He leans over to the boy's dad, Lazarus, and reinforces Jack's existence, "He is a specialist."

"Specialist of what?" squawked Turner Sans, back from the alley.


"In English?"

"I am a brain doctor." bluntly put Jack as he spent no more time with this bullshit. He put his hand over the boys head and could feel the hyperventilating lungs charged with fear. He absorbed that fear and his lungs tensed briefly before returning to normal. The kid breathed easy once again and opened his eyes freely. "Dad..." he said as he raced his hand under the chin of his father, Lazarus. That was all he said and did before he passed out.

"Thank you," Lazarus said to both of them. Jack shook his head and got up, ready to leave with Jason. Dr. Randolph remained.

"If it is okay with you, I would like to follow up with your boy."

"I don't have insurance."

"I will work pro bono just until I am sure he is okay."

"You got yourself a deal, Doc."

Jack walked away with Jason as Randolph finalized a follow-up visit and caught up to them. Jack and Randolph immediately began discussing the fire. "They had cameras, Jack."

"I had no choice."

"I know. We seem to have covered our tracks though. Creating a complete identity for you as a Doctor."

"There's one loose end."


"That hillbilly... He caught me in the alleyway, and could put the two together. He told me something unbelievable, Randolph. I will debrief you about that later though...We have much more to discuss."

"Where did the hillbilly go?" replied Dr. Randolph.

"Was he one of the ones who took a picture?" retorted Jack.

Jason walked ahead feverishly, he had no questions. He only had one thing on his mind...

"I can't wait to see the news tonight."

Dr. Randolph had more pressing matters in his head. He insisted, "You powers are growing. I noticed you are using more than one at a time now..."

"The training has helped me tremendously. I owe your grandfather a lot."

Jason had almost completely forgotten about what had happens just days ago. In the heat of all this action a suitable distraction from all the despair and grief was born. But now it all came rushing back. And for a second the kid blamed Jack. But that also rushed away when he thought about the man that took him in.

The man that is called DarkFlood.

A living superhero.


...not two weeks ago...

Jason sat in front of the old TV set Jack and Randolph had in the living room. It wasn't much. This place was not big enough for three. They could not stay here. Somehow, that was made evident that fateful day when DarkFlood saved the kid from the fire. Since then, Dr. Randolph has checked up on him and made friends with the boys father, Lazarus the cab driver.

Jack, on the other hand, had gotten into the habit of hanging out in the bodega across the street with Jason. They both hung out with Moses, primarily on the pretense of his own name. That is how they got to know each other. Not only his first name, but surname too.

Days after the fire, Jason would ask Moses, "Hey what's your last name?" To clarify ethnicity, but what they would get would be a whole new bag of questions.

"Moses Stonethrower."

Jason's jaw dropped. Jack remembered that specifically. It sounded like a cartoon, or that is what Jason said.

"It sounds like some cartoon character." the boy laughed. Jack slapped him over the back of the head. "Ow! What'd ya do that for?"

"That was incredibly disrespectful. Even if it's true..." Jack explained. You see, their plan all along was to get out into the local community and make sure no signs or rumors were being pointed back at them for DarkFlood. They were covering their tracks. Watching those witnesses from the fire as best they can.

But right now, they were all in the apartment. Dr. Randolph at his desk running some scans; Jack and Jason watching TV. Jack sat behind Jason on the couch. "I think it's another one."

"YES! We got one!"

From the boob-tube....

"This is Channel 1 with breaking news." Dave Atkins the anchorman interrupted.

"There has been yet another video today," Yolanda Waters, the co-anchor continued, "Of a masked avenger appearing out of thin air with a boy in his hands."

"Moments later, as you can see by this cellphone camera video footage, the man disappears not to be seen again."

"Presumably back into the fire to save anyone else trapped."

"This all happened in our very own China Town."

"It seems that super heroes are no longer just in the comic books anymore, Dave."

"There are only a couple of reports taken from the fire, none of which witness the caped crusader..."

"Only the owner of the cellphone video could lend a hand in this mystery, "He said his name was DarkFlood."

The news report ended and Jason turned to see Jack reactions to hearing his name on TV. He looked pissed off. This was a slippery slope, that much he knew. He also knew one other thing, "The hillbilly was the leak."
"How do you know?"
"He's the only one I told that name too."

Now Jack was officially out there, out there in the known public, in society. Soon they would track him down and eventually they would find his family. Jack looked over at Randolph who was now standing and staring at the TV with his glasses off. His attempts to go back to his past could no longer be ignored. Either way, now their safety and well-being were at stake. It did not matter if he was Philip or Jack now. One thing was for certain...

"We have to go back to Oklahoma..."


"One...two...three..." Jason and Dr. Randolph watched Jack standing in the middle of the empty cornfield, trying to rotate through his abilities on command.

"One...two...three!" Jack throws his palms down and feels the quick rush of excitement come over him. The energy is directed to his hands as it blasts the floor and propels him into the air.

"Keep Going!" Dr. Randolph yells out. Together, him and Jason chase Jack's course like they're flying a kite.

They can hear Jack's screams as he continuously plummets to the ground and narrowly escapes his crash by blasting another pulse-wave out of his hands. Randolph and Jason get back to the
car and continue down the rural Texas route. "How far do you think he'll get this time?" Jason sarcastically asked.

"We're almost at a mile, this might be his farthest journey yet." Dr. Randolph steered the car and looked out the side-window over the fields. Jack was still leaping wildly through the air. He finally lost control long enough to spin down towards the road. His collision course led him directly into the hood of their car as Randolph slammed on the breaks and pulled over.

Jack rolled off the car and onto the road as Randolph and Jason gathered around him.

"Are you okay?" Jason laughed.

Jack was out of breath and trying to say something.

"This drains you of energy." The kind doctor added.


"I don't think you can fly, Jack."


They all got back in the car. Jason sat in front with Dr. Randolph driving as Jack laid down in back. "Maybe we can get you," Dr. Randolph went on, talking through the rear-view mirror, "I don't know, some sort of deploy-able hang-glider or reusable parachute."

"Yeah, like Batman's cape!" Jason added.

Jack, with his head back, and his arm over his forehead, responded, "I already have a cape."

* * *

"One...two...three" Jason and Dr. Randolph stood before Jack once again testing his powers, this time with his DarkFlood cape on.

The bursts come out of his palms and Jack was twenty feet in the air. As his momentum shifted and he began to fall, the cape restructured and became rigid around the edges. Just like a hang-glider he was able to calmly glide through the air. After that Jack used his teleportation to keep him high enough to continue gliding. Now he could fly for miles on end.

Jason crawled through the car to the back window and watched Jack in the sky. "He needs a symbol." The kid mumbled to himself.


...about a week ago...

Before they reached Oklahoma, Dr. Randolph knew he had to tell Jack something. He drove in the car with Jason silently approaching their next gas stop. In had been hours since Jack flew away in Texas. Since then, he has drifted away up ahead in the clouds. He just kept flying and left the rest on earth. Dr. Randolph pulled into the interstate rest stop and got out of the car to gas up. Jason sat in the front seat with head phones on, connected to his laptop. The car shook and Jason felt a shift in the car. He looked up and Jack was sitting in the driver's seat.

Jason took his headphones off and greeted him, "How you doin' DarkFlood?"
Jack was all hyped up and catching his breath, "Great! I'm starting to really get the hang of this. Don't tell the Doc but I'm gonna try teleporting into the car while its on the highway."
"That's seventy-miles an hour."
"Good thing I can't get hurt."
"But you can teleport into the frame of the car... then what?"
"Good point, kid. I'll try not to-" Jack teleported out as Dr. Randolph finished pumping, waited for the receipt to print, and got back in the car. Jason was once again listening to his music on his computer and they were on the road.

"I wonder where he is." Dr. Randolph said out loud. Jason pretended not to hear him but had a laugh inside his head. That's when Jack materialized in the back seat of the car screaming. Dr. Randolph started to scream as well and nearly crashed the car on the highway before Jack disappeared again. Dr. Randolph was out of his skin. He was terrified and furious at the same time, but still had to drive. Jason was holding his side he was laughing so hard.

Jack teleported into the car lying flat on the back bench.

Dr. Randolph and Jason did not even notice he was there. Randolph was still getting over the screams. "Keep driving, Benson." This time Jason nearly jumped out of the seat along with Randolph. Jack always got the last laugh.

Things settled down after that, as they continued on their trip to Oklahoma...Home. It was a long drive, but there is no way Jack could fly, he could not go anywhere near an airport, especially since he was thought to be dead. Well not Jack, but Philip Dresden. Jack Hanover had his opportunity to become his own person in New York. That was before DarkFlood.

"Jack there's something I need to tell-"

"If you're so good at teleporting now," Jason interrupted Dr. Randolph, "why don't you just teleport home?"

The kid had a good idea. He sat in the backseat and ignored Randolph's admission of guilt. He tried and tried but Randolph could not get Jack's attention. Jack was concentrating on his old house...his parents house. He pictured it in his head. He gathered every aspect and detail he could from his memory and put the picture together like a jigsaw puzzle. He included the feelings of being home and the sentimentality of childhood memories to trigger the release of energy brewing within him. It catapulted him out of the car, through the cracks of reality, and Jack reappeared standing in front of his parent's house in Oklahoma City.

"We thought you were dead..."

* * *

About four hours later Dr. Randolph and Jason arrived at the house in the car. Dr. Randolph got out of the car and walked across the front lawn. Jack teleported directly in front of him and shouldered him to the floor. Randolph scurried back.

"YOU SLEPT WITH HER!" Jacked yelled.

His mother and father ran out of the front door. Jason stood by, he had no idea what to think. Jacked jumped on top of Dr. Randolph and they wrestled on the floor. Mr. Dresden tries to break them up. Along with Jason's help, they are able to get between them.

"Philip! Settle down!" his mother yelled.

"Philip?" Jason wondered.

"Its a long story, kid," Jack, or Philip, sighed, "Where is Sarah?"

"They took her away, Jack." Dr. Randolph was defeated.



"They know I'm alive?"

"We do now." Dr. Fitzsimons came out of the house along with fifty armed trooped hiding all around them.


...about a week ago...

Dr. Fitzsimons stood in front of them all with his white lab-coat on and a bullet-proof vest underneath it. Accompanied with a pistol on his hip and an Uzi in his hands, and the fifty soldiers backing him up, Dr. Fitzsimons thought he had the upper hand.

This was Jack's chance to make him pay for everything that happened over in Afghanistan. The first thing he needed to do was get his family out of there. Jack stepped back as the troops in swat gear surrounded them, yelling, "Get down!" and throwing tear gas. Jack took two deep breaths of fresh air amongst the encroaching smoke. Within the smoke there was three flashes of light. It settled and there was only Dr. Randolph squirming on the floor, choking and covering his mouth.

Another flash and one of the soldiers screams. He is out of position and missing altogether. The rest of the battalion begins to notice how dark it was getting. The smoke was nearly gone, but the tense Oklahoma air remained. One of the soldiers opens fire as the man next to him is taken away into the shadow. Every other soldier in the circle begins scattering gunshots across the field. Jack then teleports in the middle of the circle of troops in front of his parents house. He stands in the battle-forged suburban street as DarkFlood.

DarkFlood remains in the middle of the lawn just long enough for the circle of soldiers to open fire. The bullets just miss Jack, and keep going, picking off their own teammates. Numbers dwindle from the fifty and now DarkFlood can take them head on.

He jumps in between them and headbutts the first one. Catching the fist of another and ducking a punch from behind, he holds both hands and launches them into the air. The next three topple on top of him and DarkFlood vanished only to reappear above them. He cracks their skulls on the floor and spins around to grapple with the next wave of soldiers.

"ENOUGH!" Fitzsimons screams. He takes his glasses off. As he does so, closes his eyes, only to re-open them and reveal blazin' white irises. The Storm Harvester was still possessing him.

Jack lost balance in his scuffle with the soldiers and took a blow to the gut and and couple jabs to the face. As he struggled, Dr. Fitzsimons screamed again, this time whipping out two lightning bolts from his wrists. They come down hard on both sides of Jack, killing the troops caught in the current.

DarkFlood stood tall and teleported away. Only that is what Fitzsimons thought. He had actually put his camouflage on, turning himself practically invisible. DarkFlood got around Fitzsimons and tried to grab his neck when upon touching the mad scientist's skin Jack was electrocuted. He was blasted back to the ground and DarkFlood laid over on his side, unconscious.

"This time, no damn doctor is gonna save you, Dresden!" Fitzsimons put his foot on Philip to roll him over on his back. He looked around for Randolph. He was gone, no longer squirming on the ground, nor guarding his friend from a distance, just flat out gone.

Fitzsimons laughed. "It told me to be patient. It said this day would come...the day when you would return home Philip Dresden...and now here you are at my mercy once again..."

"...where...." Philip went on in a mustered mutter, ""

Fitzsimons charged his hand up once again and prepared to finish Philip off, "I'm about to reunite you with her..."

Dr. Randolph drove the car up onto the lawn and hit Dr. Fitzsimons, breaking his body. Dr. Randolph picked up a fallen DarkFlood and carried him into the back seat. He threw his foot on the gas pedal and made a break for it.

Dr. Randolph kept checking the rear-view mirror to see when Philip would wake back up. What he did see was Dr. Fitzsimons get back up off the ground. His body was so broken it looked like it was falling off the Storm Harvester's pure form.


4 Days Ago

"He will put himself back together."

"Even if he did, how could he know you teleported us to New York?" Randolph said in the corner of the room, not facing Jack who was sitting down by the desk.

"He will put himself back together and find us."

"That's impossible."

"I need to get Jason and my parents somewhere safe...somewhere...I've never been, or never will go"

"Jack, listen to yourself, you're talking madness."
Jack was still in his DarkFlood gear, but with his face wiped clean and his cape on the floor. He thought about what he could do. It was impossible to see where he would be in the days to come. How could he? Clarity only arrives when looking back at time. But he must try to predict and work out a reasonable or safe enough solution for his loved ones.

Jack did not know much besides Oklahoma and Afghanistan, even in New York he was lost outside of Chinatown. And that is when it hit him, "I can take the kid back to China, back to his parents..."

"What? You don't know anything about China."

"I can take my parents there too." Jack got up and went to leave the quietly lit room.


Jack turned around to face Dr. Randolph, "You're lucky I don't kill you."

"Just let me explain."

"You saved my life, Doc" Jack tried to go on, "Twice..."

Dr. Randolph looked up at him, in Jack's hesitation to finish he found the opportunity he needed to explain his actions, only then he did not want to, then...the burden of his own misgiving was too much to bear. So Jack went on...

"...and for that I thank you. But we are not friends. I don't need an explanation from someone I don't care about."

Jack opened the door and before he walked through it, he warned the kind doctor, "And if she's dead, I'll kill you for it."

Jack left Dr. Randolph in the dark room with his guilt. He went over to the TV and knelt down next to Jason who was sitting with his father on the couch. "Jason, can you remember China at all?"

"I was just a baby."

"Try to remember."

Jason closed his eyes and imagined his birth. He tried to remember his grandfather's stories of their homeland, of the day he was born. Jason could always just make out a glimmer of an image when his grandfather used to talk to him about it. Jack tried to lock on that image.

He had this feeling for a long time now. Whenever he would heal someone he would keep their psyche for a short time; their memories, on the other hand, never faded. He put his hand on Jason's cheek, his fingertips on his temple.

"Hey!" Jason twitched, "Stop tryin' to friggin' Vulcan mind-meld me!"

Stay still, boy, I'm getting you home."

"GOT IT!" Jack flashed three times and Jason and his parents were gone before Dr. Randolph entered the room.

"Where'd you take them?"

"I have no idea."


"You'd have to ask Jason. I took him to one of his memories. I don't even think he knew where we were."

"This is crazy. There's no way Fitzsimons will find us."

Spotlights opened up on the windows out in front and light shined through the cracks in the door. Sounds of helicopters swung in, through the city blocks. Jack teleported outside briefly. He appeared on the other side of the street. He was above the alleyway where he first saved Jason. It was quiet and on the other side of the spotlights.

Jack looked around for Fitzsimons. He could not find him. He kept looking, trying to identify the officer in charge. It was a mix of regular patrol men, detectives, and swat; they were all led by a regiment of the national guard. Amongst the national guard there were a couple of soldiers with private sector badges. He knew this was Fitzsimons' operation. The only reason he could think of why he was not present was perhaps he did not fully heal from Randolph hitting him with his car. That was a good thing.

But something from his past struck him deep in the heart. It was not at all what he was looking for but it was what he found. The commanding officer was made quite clear to him now. This was impossible. This crossed the line and brought Jack, or Philip, or DarkFlood, or whoever the hell he was over the edge of reality. Jack was losing his mind. What he saw was Corporal Faulkner, the sniper from his team in the Afghanistan procedures; a team that was thought to be entirely KIA.


When DarkFlood put an end to the criminal gangs of the city a power vacuum was left that he neglected to account for. Too distracted with Dr. Fitzsimons chasing him down, DarkFlood never saw what was coming next...

3 Days Ago

Jack and Dr. Randolph sat in a booth along with Jack's backpack by the window of a diner off Route 66. "How're your powers out here?"

"It's getting harder to get back each time," Jack went on, cutting his pancakes with his fork, "Must be something about long distance jumps."

"It's a shame all this had to happen. I still ha-"

"It's a shame you couldn't still be sleeping with my wife behind my back?"

"..." Dr. Randolph could plead his case now, he could...

But he ignored it and continued, "I still had a final phase of testing for all your developing powers."

"Like what?" Jack conceded, slowly allowing Dr. Randolph into his good graces. For they both knew Dr. Randolph did nothing wrong but keep it from Jack, besides that, he need not feel any guilt. Back when Jack was Philip Dresden, he was separated with his wife for years. It was not until the day he regained his sight did they come back together, but he left for Afghanistan that very day and was never heard from again. So who was truly in the right?

"Like your teleportation...if you hold your breath...can you jump into water or even space?"

"Remarkable, Doc." Jack was flabbergasted by Randolph's gall, "Do you want to be me?"

Dr. Randolph looked up from his egg whites and whole grain toast, "...I'm just fascinated by your condition..."

"...That's all..."

* * *

Jack teleported back on top of the roof across the street and made sure the coast was clear before going inside. Once in, he grabbed what he needed when he saw Jason's hat on the bedpost, he must have forgotten it in all the haste and confusion. A soldier pops out of the closet and the lights and alarms go off, the trooper tackles DarkFlood with an assault rifle harnessed around his shoulders and stuck in between them. A net falls from the ceiling and lands over both of them.

Jack teleports out, accidentally taking the soldier with him. They land on the mats in Sensei's old dojo next door. Free from the net, Jack springs up and beats the living shit out of the soldier. Using a combination of short teleportations and Flood technique, Jack finished him off with a hay-maker. The soldier was rocked off his feet and out of consciousness. Jack caught his breath.

He laughed that instinct and impulse brought him here. One of the safest places in his world, up there with his grandfather's old cabin by the lake. Sensei's dojo held a special place in his heart. That's when he realized, that day of the fire...when he discovered what Sensei left behind for them. Jack brushed his vest off as his cape flapped behind him, shaking itself clean, and he walked over to the giant chest. He opened it and took the ancient scrolls out. A beeping sounded off from behind. The soldier had a tracker on. They were coming. Jack teleported away.

Jack lands outside the city block after a quick twitch back across the country handing the Doctor the scrolls and coming back. After such a far jump he would not be able to teleport for a little while. Why didn't he stay with Randolph and avoid risking the danger of going back? Jack had to find Sarah. He watches the cops move in. They were sheep. This was getting a little disappointing for Jack. With Fitzsimons out of commission for the time being, it looks like Jack had nothing to be afraid of. The spotlights return only this time they catch DarkFlood on the rooftop.

Instead of teleporting away Jack must wait before he is fully recharged and so he utilizes some of his other abilities for a change. He leaps across each building and can feel the muscles in his legs stretching and strengthening. In fact his whole body was transforming, adapting, evolving; not just his legs. Randolph's theories were turning out to be right. Jack's abilities grew the more he used them. Jack summoned all his might in the last leap off the building's rooftop.

He shot his hands out and slung his cloak out over both of his arms. The gesture acts as a switch and the cloak turns into stretched cloth over a rigid glider-like exoskeleton. The helicopters carrying the spotlights chase after him, but just as they come into firing range, DarkFlood turns around, abandoning his glide, and flips them off before teleporting off; not far. Just far enough to get him away, he was still drained. No Jack picked a place he was familiar with, he went to the top of the Empire State Building.

DarkFlood stood just below the massive antenna at the top of the most infamous skyscraper in the world. Hopefully, he would be safe in plain sight for awhile. He desperately needed to conserve his energy to teleport back across the country to Randolph and the scrolls. Jack felt something emerging from his entity. He felt this sort he had never felt before. He was stuck inside his head and for all he knew it felt good. He was in touch with the collective soul of the city.

The antenna was pulling every cry for help in the city to DarkFlood's mind. He could hear them all. He could see the tear of faith and hope within the city, the heartache, the darkness brewing. He could feel the fear out on the streets of the city. A city ripe for deviance and crime. No longer did the drug dealers and gangsters rule the underworld. The criminal fraternity was dead, and in their absence a cancerous kind took over.

Murderers and rapists who preyed on women and children, bank robbers that kill their own just to better a share or profit, and sociopaths set out to watch the city burn itself down infested the alleyways and shadowed street corners. When the cops tried to intervene they were mercilessly slaughtered.

This was out of their league and the innocent were paying the price. Fitzsimons used this recent rise in crime to cover up his private sector infiltrating the city. Disguised as martial law, they were officially here to keep the public safe. But that is not what they did. The city run red with the blood of the innocent while troops needlessly search each borough for Jack. It was undeniable. Only DarkFlood was to blame. He had no idea what the ripples of his actions entailed. But for now, he was beginning to see the toll. One thing was for sure. He could not stop now.

DarkFlood must save the city that he condemned with his foolish attempt at vigilante justice.

The stream of cries and prayers were all too much for one man to bear. Jack lost focus on his surroundings and lost his grip along with it. He threw his hands over his ears to try and make it stop. Jack fell off of the skyscraper ledge and plummeted one hundred and four stories to the floor.

He was not in control. This new psychic ability was undisciplined and incapacitating him. Jack fell helplessly as the voices got louder and louder. He passed the fiftieth floor. His eardrums were on fire. They would not stop. Jack passed out and the voices still persisted. His mind shut down in an attempt to reboot and Jack slipped into a coma. He passed the thirteenth floor with nothing to stop him...

* * *

2 Days Ago

Faulkner talked to Fitzsimons via satellite, "What do we do next, sir?"

"Clearly you will not find him like this...combing the city neighborhood by neighborhood has only proven ineffective. No, you will have to do something else," Fitzsimons elaborated, "something more, something cold and calculated... You must make him come to you."


"Prepare the package."

"Yes sir."

* * *

1 Day Ago

"They're looking for you..."

Jack was still dazed. He could not recall what had happened, nor how much time had passed since the Empire State Building. He was in a bed, in the dark. It looked like he had been there for awhile. There was a bandage going around his head, over his brow. His DarkFlood equipment was still on, but his face was not covered with anything. Whoever this was now knew Jack was DarkFlood.

Jack could hear him in the kitchen, using the sink. He tried to get up from the bed, but when he got to his feet Jack was shaken like he had severe vertigo and landed back down on the bed. The man walked in to the dark room from the lit hallway. All Jack could see was his approaching silhouette holding a tray. He placed the tray down on the nightstand.

"Chinatown is under martial law....because of you..." the man handed Jack a teacup, "....Drink."

Jack sipped the tea. If this man was trying to kill him, he would have already.

"I knew it was you the whole time. Ever since the fire..."

Moses comes into the light emitting from the candle on the nightstand. Jack laughed. He could not believe it.

"...You...but how?"

"There will be a time when I can explain everything, but now that you are up we need to get out of here."


"They're searching this complex next. I was going to hide you but you're awake now."

"Okay." Jack tried to stand up again but Moses quickly put his hands on his shoulders, keeping him on the bed.

"Easy...I'm gonna help you. Gather your strength," Moses said as he walked out of the room and down the hallway.

Moses came back in the room with clothes in his hands, "First get rid of that costume, they are looking for 'DarkFlood'" he explained as he threw Jack the clothes, "and getting dressed will help you stretch out. Then when you're ready...we're gonna make a run for the roof."

And that is exactly what they did. When the swat team got to Moses' floor they were already on the roof searching for a way out. Jack was still struggling to walk and could not do so without leaning on Moses. He sat on the edge of the guard rail around the roof while Moses tried to access the fire escape.

"Wait!" Jack tried to exclaim.

Moses kept shaking the lock trying to get it loose.

"Wait dammit!"

Moses finally stopped and came back over to Jack, "What?"

"I...I can...tele....I can...get us outta here..."

"You can barely breathe." Moses continued to work at the lock to the fire escape as the military men finished sweeping the floors of the apartment complex. Jack tried to teleport away. Moses was right. He was too weak to do anything but sit there and wait. Moses kept striking the lock.

Jack looked up at the sun. It was a beautiful day. He closed his eyes and felt the warmth on his eyelids. Jack opened his eyes back up and saw a helicopter between himself and the sun making an inbound flight. Instead of landing on the roof right away, the helicopter hovered in the air before them and turned showing its side. The door opened and inside was an estranged Faulkner with a female hostage.

"NO!" Jack screams, adrenaline rushing the nerves back into his system, he steps off Moses, "FAULKNER!"

The helicopter blades blast unapologetic noise through the air, it muddles the senses. Moses cannot tell what is going on, or who that woman is. He rushed to the door back downstairs. It was locked, and he could hear the swat team on the other side. They were surrounded.


The gunshot was barely heard, except for Jack. His pursuing scream was heard by every soul in New York. It nearly deafened Moses. "What was that!?"

The hostage's body leaks out of the chopper bound and limp through the Manhattan canopy.

Jack fell to his knees as the helicopter turned away to leave. Moses came up next to him. Jack was emotionally paralyzed. "That was my wife..."

Only the sun remained.

And in that one instant of total destitution, a second sun was born in the sky. Both lights conjured a spark in Jack's eyes, of something he had never felt before. A tear dropped down on top of Jack's head. He looked up at Moses who was looking at the suns too, reflected in both his eyes. He was experiencing the same thing.

The 2 Suns affected mankind instantaneously. It was a precursor, a preliminary, a blueprint being laid down for something much bigger. Jack knew Sensei's scrolls were about the 2 Suns Prophecy, he had mentioned it before...during his training. This world was in for a revolution, one that has only happened once before in the early days of earth, an age believed to be the birth of all the basic elements found on the periodic table. And Jack had the key to it all safely hidden away with Dr. Randolph where only he could find them. Yet, Jack was only focused on one thing right now...

Avenging Sarah's death.


No one could save him now. Jack saw as clear as ever. He was not Jack and he was not Philip, he was not DarkFlood, but what DarkFlood represented... He was the watch, he was the time-keeper, he was the prey avenger, he was the city savior.

He could not afford to have attachments. His parents would be next, maybe the kid... It was just a matter of time. There was not much left in this world that still connected him with humanity. He realized that the moment Sarah died.

Perhaps to a breaking point?

That was Fitzsimons' intention, who might have planned this whole thing out all along...

Right now you have been completely caught up in the life of DarkFlood for the past six months in New York City. I have put everything important down in writing except for what I found in the scrolls. If the 2 Suns in the sky outside is any proof, mankind has a lot ahead of them. Soon I will not be alone. And the story of the first super hero will be over.

One thought still prevails...

I must kill Fitzsimons.


Philip finally finished logging the past six months he spent as DarkFlood and Jack Hanover. He stopped writing in the journal for now, and put it away with Sensei's scrolls. Philip walked back into the kitchen with Moses and Dr. Randolph who was on the phone.

Philip pulled the metal trashcan out and threw his cape, vest, and the rest of his DarkFlood gear in it before he tried dousing the inside with kerosene. Moses jumped in front of him and kept Philip from destroying his equipment, "This city still needs you."

"I know. But not as DarkFlood. There is no point in hiding anymore. Fitzsimons' knows I'm alive, Jack Hanover is irrelevant."

"I don't see a mask on that suit."

Philip took the vest out and stared at it. This was his Kevlar vest from Afghanistan, it had been a part of him for a long time now. He put it back on. He clipped the cape onto the shoulders of the vest and harnessed his utility belt back on tight. His face was bear, he was Philip Dresden as plain as the day he was born into this world. And he thrived that way...

"We have a war coming, a great civil war between mankind..." Philip went on with his delusional prophecies and blasphemies, "between those... who want to enslave sub-humans and those who want to keep them free."

"I thought you were going to say, 'those who want to kill them'..." Moses interjected.

"What are sub-humans anyway?" asked Randolph.

"From what I'm putting together from all this...just regular humans unaffected by the supernova blast-wave."

"This is insane." doubted Moses.

"And that day on the roof?" Philip refuted, "Was that insane? Are the two suns in the sky everyday since insanity too?"

Moses looked away, he had nothing further to say. Randolph stood in between, while Philip panted. He had gotten worked up in the argument. People doubting this would just get more killed, "And right now the element of surprise is our only advantage."

"Advantage against whom?" Moses had to ask.

"Fitzsimons...the Storm Harvester..." Philip turned around, his eyes were glowing blue.

Spiraling ocean blue light pouring out of Philip's eyes. The Divine Catalyst was changing him. It had been since the beginning. But the more abilities he gained, the looser the process became with his transformation. This was the next phase of his transformation. Philip was evolving past human, past super human, to a level unknown and unmeasured. He was terrified. If Philip didn't get the Divine Catalyst out of him soon, he would loose his humanity forever.

"Your eyes..."

"When is this all supposed to happen?" Randolph gauged Philip.

"According to the scrolls, could be tomorrow, could be in five hundred years..."

Philip opened the window and got halfway out of it. Randolph, still with one ear to the phone, finally got taken off hold and walked away to begin talking with the person on the other side of the long distance line. Philip left the windowsill and Moses followed him up to the roof.

"What are you gonna do out there?"

"This city has become a breeding ground for the degenerate..."

"You'll clean up the scum by yourself..." Moses yelled after him as he ran away into the thick city night something unmistakable, "And it will kill you."


Philip found himself sitting comfortably on the perch of his favorite spot in New York City. Philip sits atop the Empire State Building, this time he does not succumb to his new ability. He has refined it, he has mastered it. Philip can hear the voices selectively. He plans out his crime-sweep and sets out to toss the criminal scum to the curb.

DarkFlood appears in front of two men raping a woman at knife-point. The knife is ripped from one of their hands and quickly turned around and rammed into the gut of the assailant. DarkFlood takes the knife out and throws it into the neck of the other pervert. The woman pulls her clothes back on and thanks DarkFlood as the blood from the two bodies begin to pool around them.

"We're not done yet..." Philip grabs the woman and teleports away.

They land in an apartment building where a man has just finished murdering a boy parents. They lie dismembered on their marital bed. Philip throws the woman at the and tells them to run. The woman wipes her frightful tears away and saves the child from certain death. The doors kick open and three more men rush into the room after looting the house. Philip blows two of them to pieces with his pulse-blast and is shot up by the other two wielding 9mms. Philip takes the bullet that miss his vest and absorb them. His arms and neck are numb from the rapid healing. He slowly walks towards them as his blood sprays everywhere after they finish unloading their clips.

Upon reload DarkFlood grabs them both by the collar and hurls them through the air and into the cement wall. Come to me....come to me...DarkFlood they call're just...just a plague of a species... Philip loses balance. This thought came clear into his head without any filter. It was precise and clear-cut, like a message. Someone was communicating with Philip, taunting him...

...That's it...Find me... DarkFlood...come meet your maker...

Completely distracted, Philip forgets about the woman and the child and leaves for the city skyline. He teleports and glides as the signal being transmitted directly into his head gets louder and clearer. DarkFlood finds himself at the boondocks.

"WELCOME DARK AVENGER!" screams out a mad man sitting on a construction crane, dangling his legs in the air. He wears an odd hat, many sizes too big, yet tight around the brim, as if unevenly made.

"Do I know you?"

"You might, but I sure as hell know all about you, and your rooftop antics, Pilgrim."

"What did you call me?"

"I'm sorry. Don't want to get a head of myself." the crazy man began to laugh hysterically. He clutches his side and accidentally drops one of the chains he was holding in both hands.

"You're mad."

"-Hatter to be precise....but you never are...are you?"

"What do you want?"

"Simple...I want you to make a choice. You see...a super hero is all well and good on paper...But in reality, you have to take the chance everyday that some psycho doesn't approach you with an impossible ultimatum. You see, DarkFlood- I'm saying that correctly?"


"Excellent. You see, DarkFlood...No matter what choice you make will always have to deal with the fact that the only reason this is happening...the only reason people are in because you decided to put on that silly costume this morning!"

The Hatter laughed his face red and fell over as he released both chains. One snapped and rolled all the way up to a pulley system, releasing a lever that starts the industrial compactor stuffed with a school bus fully loaded with kids from PS 118. The other chain he yanks down on and immediately nothing happens.


"...right...give it a moment..."

Consecutive pipe bombs are ignited on the drawbridge as the cars stuck in traffic catch fire and explode one after another. People scramble out of the blockbuster cars in a dire panic. DarkFlood wishes he can stop time. Part of him even considers letting them all die and going after the Hatter, just to teach the sociopaths out there that you can never get the upper hand on DarkFlood, but alas, his conscience bested him once again and Philip teleported into the bus full of screaming children.

"ALL OF YOU!" DarkFlood yelled out, "HOLD HANDS!"

One beautiful calm moment amongst the fray. A circle of hands coming together to save one another, youthful naivety conducted by Philip's tenacity. DarkFlood transported them to the drawbridge in the blink of an eye. He let go of their hands and as he emitted two pulse blasts from his palms he clapped his hands together as hard as he could. The resulting shock-wave blasted out three-hundred and sixty degrees, all the way around the bridge, blowing out the roaring car fires, and stopping the bridge's demolition. DarkFlood climbs to the top rise of the bridge and jumps off into a glide as the citizens of the city cheer for him.

He chases after the Hatter.


Dr. Randolph got along well with Lazarus and his son. In fact, ever since Philip found out about Randolph and his ex-wife, check-ups on the boy were the highlights of the Doctor's week. The boy reminded Dr. Randolph of himself as a kid, they were of the same side of the coin.

"It must feel good to see your boy is back to perfect health."

"You have no idea, Doctor."

Dr. Randolph finished examining Lazarus' son. Lazarus stood adjacent to them peering out the window. He looked up at the sun and remembered that weird day his boy saw two flames in his daddy's eyes. It didn't happen to the kid so Lazarus deemed it fit not to tell the Doctor about it. Lazarus rubbed his eyes.

"Is everything okay with you, Laz?"

"Yeah...yeah...I'm fine...and please thank your colleague again for what he did on that day."

"I will," Dr. Randolph said as he left the apartment, "He often asks about the boy's condition."

A reassuring lie, but for who?

It was getting late. The sun was already setting behind the buildings. Dr. Randolph walked the empty streets of Chinatown. A fluttered flap and before he could turn around, DarkFlood had swooped him up and into the air as his cape covered his sight. When they landed he was on a rooftop and DarkFlood was standing crouched down on the edge before him.

"I'm sending you away, Doctor."

"What? Why?"

"It is for your own good."

"To keep me safe from!?"

"No...You have not seen the world that is coming. The one that I have seen in my dreams..."

"Your visions are back?" Dr. Randolph recalled.

"Doc, they are clearer than ever...and they all have one thing in" Philip went on, "Almost every human saw fire in their eyes the day of the two suns, they will all become the next evolution of mankind. But you are of the 1% of humans in the world that were not affected by the 2 Suns." DarkFlood shook his head and reassured Randolph that this was nothing personal and for his own good.

"They're going to enslave your kind."

"You say it like there is nothing we can do about it."

DarkFlood did not have the time to explain to him the realm of his existence. His ever growing power illuminating and eliminating his humanity.

"And here..." DarkFlood gave him a cylindrical container holding Sensei's scrolls, "Take this."

Randolph took it and realized where he was going. "I thought you couldn't get back to them if you didn't know where you dropped them..."

"I've been meditating up here for ten hours. The time is now, my memory is clear and present in my mind's eye."

"But what about Lazarus and the boy...and you..."

"You will be reunited with them shortly," DarkFlood comforted, "And for me, that's none of your concern anymore. It never was." Philip closed his eyes and opened his hand for Randolph to take. Doctor Randolph looked around, he could not take anything with him apparently... It was now or never. If he stayed he will risk losing all the basic freedoms of a life he took for granted.

The Doctor took Philip's hand as DarkFlood and disappeared from the Manhattan night skyline. DarkFlood returned to the roof in the blink of an eye, but without his companion. Philip was truly on his own, now for what was the worst to come yet.

Dr. Randolph gathered his balance and senses as he came-to after the teleportation. He looked around, he was surrounded by mountains. "My God..." he exclaimed. Talking made him feel good. The air up here was cold and crisp. He breathed in and when he turned around he saw a small town amongst the slopes.

"Welcome to the Himalayas," greeted Jason.

It was the kid from Chinatown, Sensei's grandson. Dr. Randolph hugged Jason and gave him the container holding the scrolls. After that he led Randolph up to the small mountainside town...his family's town... And above that there was a building in the summit, a manor within the clouds...

"What is that?"

"The Temple of the Flood."


DarkFlood knew the time was coming. . .

He just did not know when exactly. According to the scrolls, or as they referred to themselves, the Charts: The days of the 2 Suns starts with an awakening and ends in not a triumph but a whimper. In the scheme of all things, the destruction of the earth was barely noticeable. But in their last days...humanity shows the universe what it truly is made of.

The Charts explained may things to Philip, he liked to refer to it as the Spectrum Theory. As long as you can plot enough patterns and cross-sections you can figure out the course of anything, even chaos...

They were key to humanity's salvation. By now you are probably asking, "From who?" And there is no doubt that you know humanity needs not salvation from anything but itself. In the days to come people across the globe will begin to develop strange abilities and what was thought to be supernatural powers. It would be a long, growing process. It will be painful. The best will feel the transformation the most.

DarkFlood would be the eternal watcher of mankind; an infant race turning into a highly-evolved species and tearing themselves apart.

At first teams will be drawn. He knows his enemy. Fitzsimons was still out there, and will pay for the death of his wife. Right now, DarkFlood's life was easy, straight-forward, absolute. Before long, his enemies would outnumber him and overwhelm the few remaining forces for good. And not shortly after that a galactic sneeze will extinguish the flames of the sun and bring the earth's rotation to a screeching halt.

He knew he could leave anytime he wanted to. DarkFlood could leave and travel the stars. He could never look back and ignore the death of earth, chalking up the place he came from, his home, to a quiet fate like so many planets before it. One day he would have to make the choice and deal with his decision forever. Right now he knew the right thing to do, and he stayed.

What came out of the translations from the Charts was abundant in detail and long-winded in ancient parables, but they were all of the same sort...

* * *

A sun will go supernova, and turn into a black hole, catalyzing the end of this world's days...

Its waves will supercharge all life.
Its dark debris will bring earth's polar rotation and orbit around the sun to a stop, ending time and putting out the sun.

In the great quest for God;
In the undying search for meaning;
One last testament of man will be seen-through by answered prayers.

And man shall rise or fall all before DarkFlood...


The day DarkFlood was waiting for, the prophecy he read to himself, over and over again, like bible study, every night before he went to sleep would not come all in one day, but over the course of many.

And this was the calm before the storm...

He had everything to do, and it already felt like he had nothing left in the tank. Philip did not want to believe it. He wanted it all to be some fairytale legend. Hell, it was...just come to life. But Philip wanted to believe it was just a lie. How great would that be? To be able to go home as Philip Dresden and for this all to have not happened. But alas, he opened his eyes and it was real. So he did what he had to do.

Philip was dressed as DarkFlood, his gear on up to his neck. His face open. DarkFlood went to leave when he saw something hidden. It was a present. Philip picked up the present wrapped in newspaper and opened it. It was from Jason. A short note rested on top of the tissue paper in the box. It read, "Thought you could use a symbol. Good luck, Jack."

Inside was a black plastic badge that was finely carved and molded. It was a crest with the icon of a tidal wave in the center. A thin outlining ring ran around the edge with writing in it. Philip recognized it as mandarin. He wondered what it said. Crazy kid.. Within the crest, above the tidal wave in bold shifted print read...

"... DarkFlood ..."

All in black, plus three small grey arrows with three arrowheads in each running horizontally from the left through the bottom of the capital "D". Jason must have been at this for weeks. It was perfect in every way, not a single mistake. It even clipped seamlessly onto his bullet proof vest, making the DarkFlood outfit finally complete. Philip put it on and immediately his cape made an imprint of the symbol and redesigned it in a larger more detailed version on his back. This version was mostly in grey and waved in the air with the cape. Philip was now truly ready for what was to come next...

DarkFlood teleported to the White House.


Philip had given up the apartment after Dr. Randolph was dropped in China. He really didn't need a place to stay. He did not sleep. He barely ate. Philip was barely alive, and yet he never felt better. He knew deep down, without this...thing...inside of him, his body would be rotten through and through, his tumors would overcome and his blindness might even come back. Philip was nothing without the Divine Catalyst. That is why he knew he had to do this.

"Mr. President..." DarkFlood addressed the commander and chief in the Oval Office after his introduction.

"What are you?"

"I'm just a man," Philip admitted, "A man who possesses tremendous power." He walked over to the window that he was cloaking himself, along with cameras and mics he was looping all the while. "And soon I will not be alone."

"And this power...will affect all of humanity?"

"All but few, like you..."

"You've seen this future already?"

DarkFlood looked back from the window, "I watch the world burn every night while I sleep. If we don't do something now...I don't know..."

"You're saying that you are just a man, and yet you appear before me out of thin air, infiltrating one of the most secure locations in the country..." the President continued, "Then you tell me its the end of the world, and ask me to trust 'just a man's' dreams..."

"Yes, Mr. President."

"I suppose this is the best offer I'm going to get."

"I have more proof... if you really need to see it."

"Where is it?"


"So much for that."

"Not necessarily...I was in New York ten minutes ago."

"For now just tell me what you need from this office."

"I would like to make an announcement with you to the world leaders and go public as soon as possible. People deserve to know what's coming..."

"And if it never comes..."

Philip had nothing to say. He had never even considered it. "The day somebody else becomes like me...then will you be ready?"

"Yes...what is your name anyway?"


"And how do you know what day will be the first?"

Philip walked away from the window and the desk, in between the two royal blue couches, and right before he teleported away he said one more thing, "Not the day but the person. Mr. President we are headed for dark times and I beg of you till then...Keep it between us for now, for the sake of the world and your own safety. And enjoy the calm before the storm."

"Thank you. You must trust that I appreciate the respect you have given me, given your clear advantage in the days to come, you could have easily taken my chair by force. You are a true American hero, DarkFlood. But what about that military scientist you told me betrayed you and killed your wife?"

"He will find me, and I will take care of him myself."

"As you wish."

"Till next time, commander."

DarkFlood teleported away and landed back in Moses Stonethrower's apartment in New York. Moses was sitting down drinking coffee in the kitchen, it looked like he was waiting for Philip to come back. There were several cigarette buds in the ashtray. He had been waiting for some time.

"So when will it happen?"

"Any moment now..."


New York City

Moses slammed his fist into the kitchen floor. He was in excruciating pain. This is all he could think of to do to relieve the pain. It was the worst thing he had ever felt, the worse thing he would ever feel. Every fiber and molecule of his being was transforming, his DNA snapping apart and refusing. He was evolving before Philip's eyes. Philip sipped his coffee at the table. He was watching over Moses, making sure nothing dangerous happened.

Moses slammed both fists into the kitchen floor, this time cracking the tiles and bleeding a few of his knuckles. Again he pulled them up and back into the floor before he realized his bleeding had stopped and his knuckles and fingers were covered in dust. When Moses tried to wipe it off it was clear, this was not dust. His hands were becoming stone. Moses screamed as the sensation took a hold of him. It stretched across his entire body but Moses did not want to become a freak. He yelled and clawed at his face to keep it off of him. His stone fingertips cut the skin from his forehead down to his nose and cheeks, ending at his chin.

Philip got up to restrain Moses from doing anymore harm to himself. Once he got his arms pulled back, Moses revealed his bloody face, his blood was leaking out slowly and blowing away as dust, and the pupils in his eyes were grey with a steady pulse of light in the center. Philip stepped back horrified. And Moses finished his transformation.

He covered his face like a monster and got up running and stumbling into the window. Moses broke through the double-plated shatter proof skyscraper window glass like it was a movie prop. He sank like a stone down towards the street. Philip tried to catch him and teleport away but did not anticipate his sheer weight and density. Philip tried again, this time prepared to compensate when Moses told him to leave him be. Philip wanted to ignore him, but he seemed to be accepting his new condition.

Philip appeared on the side of the road out in front of Moses' apartment building and made sure it was clear of people and danger. Not that Moses needed it, he converged with the stone cold ground floor and walked away unharmed. His boots were obliterated between his stone heels and the earth beneath his feet. His grey bare feet walked on shattered debris and glass, it snapped and burst into thin air.

Moses wiped the dried blood from his face; and he could feel that his wounds were already scarring up, filling with a dark grey coagulation. It didn't hurt anymore, not even when he put his fingertips into his facial lacerations. Some of his face and most of his body except for his extremities were still flesh. He knew it would not be long until his entire body was covered in stone. Moses did not want to lose his humanity, and would try to prolong it as much as possible.

Philip could not believe it, the time was finally at hand. Moses was the first to feel the effects of the 2 Suns. Philip knew there was little to no chance that it was just a coincidence his last name was Stonethrower.

"This is unbelievable."

"Tell me about it." Moses held his hands out and looked at them front and back.

"Well what're you waitin' for?"


"Aren't you gonna try it?" Moses pulled his fingers together and could feel the pressure rising in his palms. Philip closed his eyes and locked in on Moses' perception. He used the similar sensations from his pulse blasts to make the link.

Moses pulled the massing rise in tectonic tension out of his body through his hands, flinging it forward. The two stone tablets went hurdling through the air like boomerangs, crashing into the store windows surrounding them on both sides.

"It's time."

"Time for what?"

"...Our meeting with the President."


New York City

"It's too late."

"What do you mean?"

"It's happening across the world already...Look..."

Philip and Moses walk across the street to the store window to view the breaking news bulletin on the televisions for sale. "...My fellow Americans..."The president was addressing the public as they had talked about. Philip teleported quickly in and out, now dressed as DarkFlood. He told Moses, "I have to go. Keep the neighborhood safe."

"From what?"

"People like you."

DarkFlood jumped away to the top of the Empire State Building and listened to the city. He could not afford to go to the President's aid, right now...New York needed him. DarkFlood wasn't powerful enough to affect the world yet. But with all his powers and mysterious abilities combined he could save this city.

DarkFlood snapped back to Moses on the street and reached out for his hand, "Its too late for the rest of the world but not for us. Now you have to join me and fight..." The instant Moses touched Philip's hand they teleported away. DarkFlood and Moses Stonethrower appeared in Lazarus' apartment.

"It's you..." Lazarus exclaimed, "You saved my boy...twice..."

"And now I need your help..."

"But my boy..."

"He will be safe where I take him."

"And where is that?"

"The Himalayas with Doc Randolph, the only place on Earth those not affected with be safe, now say good-bye..."

"My dear boy," Lazarus crouched down next to him. As he went on and they cried in each others arms, sirens rang from outside along with sporadic gunshots.

Moses grabbed DarkFlood's shoulder and asked him, "What is so important that we need to take a father away from his son?"

"He can raise the dead."


New York City

"...I love you too. Goodbye, son." Lazarus stood up and let DarkFlood take his boy away to sanctuary.

"What am I?" Lazarus asked Moses.

"Supposedly you're going to become like me...special..." Moses took his gloves off and showed Lazarus his stone crusted hands.

"My God," Lazarus gasped, stepping back. Then DarkFlood reappeared, and Moses continued their conversation.

"Are you going to bring back your wife?"

"I can't- He... can't...At least I don't think so."

"Then what good is he?"

"I'm right here, ya know."

"We shall find out..."

They looked at Lazarus standing both between them and behind them, going from behind the scenes to in the spotlight. They watched as he curiously stared back. It was not long until he began to scratch and claw at his chest. He ripped his clothes open and screamed in agony, "IT BURNS IT BURNS!"

"He's feeling the fires of hell," Moses whispered.

Lazarus' chest burst on fire as did his eyes and hair like Hades himself. He cried out the loudest scream to cross the world in every ear of humanity, in every soul, living and dead. And Lazarus awoke on the floor with new eyes and a new tongue. He saw the world like no one before him had ever seen it before what could only be explained as a parallel paradise; a heavenly city amongst them.

He cried white fire tears as he saw his dead wife coming towards him. She was illuminated in the same white fire, along with all of the city of the dead. He was of the same bane as Philip, except his marriage was always on steady and happy grounds. Philip was not so lucky, but loved his late wife all the same. He wished he could see her as Lazarus could see his wife, but that gift would never be meant for Philip, and he would have to find that out the hard way.

Every person he had lost in his long life came to reunite with him. Within a day he was a legend amongst the phantoms. The man who could see the beyond. The only one to ever cross the realms of the living and the dead.

Philip and Moses spent the night chasing down what they thought were people transforming, but in reality the only reason the President made the address was because he was getting well informed updates from across the nation of a handful of people doing remarkable things. The fires and looting in Manhattan were just scared people reacting to the President's address.

Among the many records of the first super-humans, One girl in Seattle was found swimming in a frozen lake without having to come up for air. A kid outside of Chicago picked his family's SUV up and ran it to the hospital when his mother tried committing suicide in their garage. A husband and wife in Miami were arrested after robbing a bank at gunpoint all while sitting in a van outside and using their minds. The President knew DarkFlood was right. He had to act now, and so he did, without Philip.

Lazarus would never sleep again, for he knew what would come with his dreams... and he would rather face it head on. Although, deep down, Lazarus wanted to believe that if he kept himself from dreaming, perhaps he could convince himself this was the dream. He stood outside on the riot-torn city streets and didn't even notice the collapse of society. In was in a different world entirely, until DarkFlood and Moses returned to him.

"We need you, now!" Moses yelled as DarkFlood grabbed both their arms and teleported away. Lazarus came-to back in Harlem, Moses was dragging him over to a women on the ground in shredded clothing and ash spots all over her still body. "This one right here," Moses nudged him.

"Now it's time to see the extent of your ability, Lazarus." DarkFlood was already knelt down beside her as she took her last breath. Lazarus got down next to her on the other side, and Moses stood over her. Lazarus grabbed her hand with his and raised it to his chest. He leaned over her and she stared back at him, smiling. "You'll be okay. She'll be okay."

DarkFlood and Moses were not as optimistic, for what they saw was could not be the same thing. She was gone, and yet Lazarus rubbed her cheek and talked to her in a tongue no one could perceive. Philip and Moses watched Lazarus as he summoned a spirit back to her body. But that was not really what was happening, only what they theorized was happening. He was actually talking with the dead girl, giving her the choice to come back or move on.

"I can't leave my family."

That is all they heard in Lazarus' raising seance, before the girl woke up. She opened her eyes and saw DarkFlood next to her. "I knew you would save me." She muttered as he carried her away back home. DarkFlood returned to them and thanked Lazarus.

"Thank you, DarkFlood, for showing me the way..."

He continued with them until the break of dawn down the streets of New York City, DarkFlood took them borough to borough until the wave was over and the military restored order to the masses, temporarily. The President continued his public service announcements to keep everyone feeling safe. They reacted exactly like Philip predicted, fear and terror; rage and fury, the American way.

"Why don't we just go there together now, the three of us," Moses suggested.

"Not yet," DarkFlood dismissed, "There is still one more..."


Outside Saint Petersburg, Russia

Vladimir Geronimov cut stone outside in the snow. He held an ax, just so he didn't look crazy to passersby. The village was small, and everyone knew him and his family. A man, his wife, and their daughter. Fifteen years ago their baby boy died of scarlet fever. He was not even a year old at the time. Vlad's wife was never the same after that; utterly depressed. Five years ago it got the best of her, and she left Russia and Vlad alone to look after their daughter, Ana.

Vlad took good care of Ana, along with the local community stepping in to help the Geronimov family get back on their feet after such tremendous loses. Ana went off to school and three days later a second sun appeared in the sky. Ever since then panic has ruled Russia. The phones were useless and the internet was permanently down. Vlad knew he could only stay home and wait for her.

Last night, in the coldest storm of his life, Vlad found himself outside on the stone slab before he cut it. He had never seen it before, the storm must have uncovered it. How did he get out here? Vlad tried to get up and couldn't budge, like something was holding him down. Vlad did not believe in ghosts. He was a man of science. That is what he went to school for, and that is what he sent Ana away for. He worked in a factory throughout the cold war and decided to keep the job long after the wall fell.

Vlad knew whatever this was, it was not magic. There had to be an explanation. Two words came to his mind... density and pressure. The atmosphere around him was altered. Perhaps it was the stone slab's polarity. Vlad tried again to get up, when he did his head lifted and it felt like he tore his chest open, cracking his chest plate straight up and down.

His head dropped back and the wound opened and burned. Vlad screamed in the night, but there was no blood. He was not cut open. He writhed in pain and felt his body fuse into something else. Vlad rolled off the stone and crawled back to his house. He made it through the door, up the stairs, and into his room before he passed out and woke up later just beside his bed.

It was no surprise that once he gathered his strength and dressed his wounds he returned to the stone earth slab. Vlad put his hand on it and felt nothing, like it was all a dream. He was going mad alone by himself, cabin fever getting the best of him. He needed his daughter to come home. Vlad at his wit's end slammed his fist, just as Moses did during his transformation, and broke into the earth. What happened next was nothing like the rest, not even DarkFlood.

Vlad had no physical characteristic change. He looked exactly the same, human. But that is not what he was. He put his hand over the stone and pushed it back together, sealing the crack. "No..." He lifted the entire thing out of the snowy ground with ease, "...It's not the stone I'm controlling..."

"It's the gravity." A man said to his right dressed in all black armor with a cape; standing along with two other men.

"Who are you all?"

"I'm DarkFlood, and this is Moses and Lazarus..."

"How did you get here?"

"I carried them across the world." DarkFlood explained through teleporting three feet over and back all before Vlad.

"That is impossible."

"You are saying it's impossible, a man who can bend pressure with his mind, a man...who can fly..."


"Trust me my friend..."

DarkFlood stepped back with his company to give Vlad some room. Vlad wiped his hands together and wiggled his fingers. He closed his eyes, put his hands down and catapulted into the air.

"My God..." gasped Lazarus, "This is really happening."

"Just like Superman." Moses proclaimed.

DarkFlood ran after Vlad and used his pulse blasts to jump high into the air. These leaps gave him enough altitude to track Vlad through the clouds. He was going all out, pushing the limits. Philip knew he would get tired quickly and if he's going as high as he can as fast as he can when he passes out, this poor guy is done for.

Vlad turned through another cloud. DarkFlood appears right in front of him with his arms and legs sprawled out, anticipating the trap; he grabs onto Vlad passing by and holds on for dear life as this crazy Russian pushes for Mach 3. Meanwhile back at the house, Moses and Lazarus wait for the to return.

They go back inside and sit at the kitchen table. Lazarus takes it upon himself to boil water for coffee or tea. He looks out the window over the sink, down the dirt driveway in the snow, to the
road where a woman was walking across it towards them. She was a young girl, maybe in her mid-twenties; bundled up tight with a faded red scarf around her neck.

"The door is locked, right?"

"I locked it when we came back."

The girl walks up to the front door of the house and opens it without having to unlock it and lets herself in. "Wait a second..." Lazarus muttered as he approached her in the common room, "...Is this your home?"

She screamed and the scarf flushed dark red, "You! can see me?"


DarkFlood teleported back into the kitchen directly on top of the table with Vlad unconscious in his arms. They regained stability and integrity and fell, crashing down on Moses still sitting there unsuspectingly.

Moses gets out of the way in time and only receives some minor scrapes and bruises. He was still very nervous about losing his flesh to the stone, like a deadly plague or King Midas, lord of gold, he feared the end, becoming a statue. For now he stayed alive and pulled Vlad from the wreckage along with DarkFlood.

Lazarus brings Ana over to them. She looks at her father and tends to him while Lazarus explains what happened to Philip and Moses. The whole time, Philip direly thinking of a way to share Lazarus' power to see the dead, if only to help random people. But what he would give to talk to his Sensei one more time, or his Grandfather, or Sarah...

In a couple of hours Vlad arose and Lazarus told him of his own extraordinary power and amongst all the things Ana got Lazarus to tell her father, like how she was murdered, and who murdered her, he took one thing to the heart, the last thing she said to him before moving on...

"You don't have to wait for me anymore, Papa."

He went back to New York City with DarkFlood, Moses, and Lazarus, and together they began the first super league ever to be recorded. When it was still an age where the concept was new. DarkFlood could see the present and the future, he saw how super heroes and super villains would soon be the ordinary man, and a super league would mean nothing more than a common street gang. This would make history, just like what was to come for DarkFlood. A moment so big in time, so powerful, that Philip could not see it. All he could do was dream around it, and hope to find the key to what was to come.


Boston Harbor, Massachusetts

"Vhut are we doing here?"

"I thought you'd enjoy a brief tour of this wonderful nation's founding cities." DarkFlood jested as he kept his eye on the looming alleyway.

"Then why don't we go to some landmarks?" Lazarus suggested.

"You're right..." Philip conceded rather quickly. He walked away with his focus remaining on the alleyway, and he looked forward to the street before the pier. There was something off that only Lazarus could see. Just before they got to the street around people, DarkFlood ran a cluster-jump, teleporting each member of his group 1-2-3 in a matter of two seconds.

DarkFlood brought them to a brick chapel with an immaculately white steeple, "One if by land, two if by see." But no one caught that one except us.

Back at the harbor...

Some kid walks out of a seafood restaurant and dumps the black trash bag he is holding in the dumpster. Except he is not a kid, he is a thirty three year-old dishwasher named Oliver. He kicked his shoe off and propped the door open as he stood outside in the cold smoking a cigarette.

"Ollie get the fuck back in there!" the chef yelled holding the door.

"Alright....take it easy...let me finish my bogie."

The stout chef huffed and puffed and went back inside. In doing so he unknowingly pushes Ollie's shoe inside and the door closes.

Ollie doesn't even notice until he finishes his cigarette, "That dick!" He bangs on the door but there is no answer. He has to go around to the front now. Ollie staggers out to the alleyway, trying not to put his foot on the floor or get his sock wet. Halfway to the street he falls, hitting his knees on the cobblestone road. It hurts like hell, not his knees but his whole something is under his skin.

Ollie screams in the deep Boston downtown oblivion but nobody hears him. Nobody wants to hear him, he might as well have been murdered. Oliver grabs the stone. The pain seems to be subsiding. His gut feels a little off. But other than that he feels okay. He gets back up and checks his knees, but there is no need to. He already feels fine. In fact, he feels great, better than ever.

Ollie pukes in a flower-box on a windowsill.

But there is something different about him. He knows its there. He knows it was the cause of the pain, or... perhaps the effect... It was a terrifying notion, but oddly refreshing. It was like he was in a new life, one of infinite potential. Just as long as he fed...

Oliver tried to walk but passed out cold. He woke up seconds later with the back of his head wetting the cobblestone. He got himself up on his elbows and rubbed his scalp. When he brought his hand back over within sight he saw blood...his own blood. Ollie checked his head, there was a sizable gash created by the fainting and cobblestone. A wave of sensation reminiscent of the pain that covered him not moments ago shot from his chest to his head. When the sensation hit his wound his hand was still on it, examining the gash hesitantly with his fingers.

The sensation pulled his wound back together and all that remained was drying blood, even his hair was back. It was perfect length and he had just gotten a haircut not two days ago. He felt drained, his body oozing life. Ollie crawled over to the wall in the alleyway and pulled out his pack of cigarettes. His shaky hands could barely pull one out let alone light it. Just as he finally got the lighter lit, his stomach roars out as if he had never eaten before.

Ollie screams and clenches his gut in the shadow. The chef turns the corner and finds him sitting in the alleyway. "WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING OUT HERE!"

"Not now, Pedro...I'm-"

"You get inside right now or you're fired!"

"I'm trying to tell you that-"

"You're fired then."


"You're dirt, Oliver. You always will be..."

Oliver got up and walked over to the chef.

"You fat fucking bastard," Getting in his face, "You got a lot of nerve talking to me like that. I know you've been fucking that bartender, how does your wife and kid feel about that?"

"Are you blackmailing me?"

"No, I'm killing you!"

Oliver grabbed the chef's head. His fingers knock off his beanie as Ollie plunges both thumbs into his eyeballs. The chef screams out and Ollie breathes in his life, his pain, and his fear. The fat bastard falls and before he can hit the ground he turns to nothing. Oliver cleans the remaining blood in the street with a hose and burns the chef's clothes in the dumpster never to return again. He leaves the harbor and Boston forever. He doesn't have much money, and he knows he will kill again. It feels too good not to. To be invincible...a reoccurring dream from his childhood. He decided to go to New York City.

"Why did we have to watch that?" Lazarus asked Philip as they stood back in the alleyway while Vlad and Moses were busy exploring Harvard Square.

"Know your enemy."


Moses' Apartment, New York City

"If he is so dangerous why didn't we just kill him then and there?" Lazarus asked.

"Because he has a part to play in this just like us..." Philip tried to answer simply.

"What is so important about a murderer?" Moses added.

"The first will be marked by a sign only the seer can tell." Phil quoted.


"Sort of...ancient Chinese prophecy..."

"Oh one of those..." Vlad tried being funny.

"I didn't know what it meant until my vision of Ollie. So I had to make sure it happened in real life. I saw that kid...doing something...that I haven't seen since the caves of Afghanistan..."

Philip was of course talking about when he was held prisoner and tortured, and right before he was saved his captors plunged their thumbs into his eyes, making him blind.* That seemed like eons ago. That's when Philip remembered his primal fear, losing all these powers and going back to being a helpless blind man. Philip looked around, there was no one from his past to talk to for reassurance. This was the first time he actually felt regret for sending Dr. Randolph away.

"Anyway...I needed to see how it worked. I needed to watch him and not interfere because soon there will be hundreds of them, just like him..."


"I thought everyone's powers were different?" Moses argued.

"...Most are. The superior gene is added to the person's structure according to their inner core...their...personality.... A lot of people are natural born killers."

"So you brought me there to analyze him?" Lazarus tried to figure out.

"And what did you see?"

"...It looked like he sucked" Lazarus' look went blank, as if he was being hypnotized by fear, "... smoke...out of him as he was dying..."

"Soon there will be an army here in New York of him...If we don't stop them the city will fall."

"What do we do?"

"We wait." Philip enticed them, as Lazarus, Moses, and Vlad looked at each other, utterly puzzled. Philip continues, "We wait until their leader presents himself and then we destroy him, showing the entire city how to defend themselves."

"The leader is that kid..."

"Welcome back, Laz."

"And that's why you didn't kill him," Moses wrapped it all together.

Philip got up from the table and walked down the hall to the room to put his DarkFlood outfit on. Moses looked around the table at Lazarus and Vlad. Who would ever think that he would play host to an Arab and a Russian, being of Haitian descent himself, and with Oklahoma Phil in the room, this was beginning to feel like a black market United Nations.

"We should get uniforms of our own." Vlad said outright, as if expecting reticule, but forcing himself to bring it up anyway. Moses didn't want an outfit, he knew the stone was his make and skin. As his flesh was mostly eroded from his arms now, he was doing everything he could not to make it worse.

Philip walked back out as DarkFlood and went to open the kitchen window to the fire escape. He didn't say a word.

"Why do you never tell us anything!" Lazarus blurted out, "I mean..about your dreams...your visions..."

Philip looked back, "Because if I did you would either go crazy or lose all hope, and that doesn't just go for you three but anybody who's not like me."

"What makes you so different?" Vlad did not know yet.

"I was like this before any of you, before the two suns, and you soon the day will come when everyone will see why..." DarkFlood climbed the fire escape to the roof and had a look out at the city before he jumped. Vlad and Moses followed him up there and Vlad tried to go with him. But Philip refused, telling him he was not properly trained yet.

"It's okay, you will have your time. And I can tell you this... you all do make outfits, but just know that this cape is not for decoration, it was a gift from my Sensei."

Philip teleported away and Moses talked with Vlad up top for a bit, before they went back downstairs. "He talks like he's losing his humanity."

Vlad disagreed, "He mentioned his cape. Our comrade was politely telling us not to copy his cape. I think he is still very very human."

*(Chapter One)


League City, Texas

Philip wanted the end of the world to be here already.

Jacob looked like he was throwing firecrackers down on the sidewalk. But that is not at all what he was doing. Over and over again, he triggered the ignition. The spark lit up as a flame briefly blew out. Jacob was getting the hang of it. He sat down on his house's stoop and threw another tiny fireball to the floor creating a loud snap.

Philip walked over to the kid as a stranger in ordinary clothes. He left his DarkFlood outfit back in New York with the rest of his team. Philip wanted to consider this a personal call. He sat down next to the kid. Jacob looked over at Philip, slightly caught off-guard, but showing no signs of fear. He flicked another fireball at the floor, this time in front of Philip. Philip slowly lowered his hand and touched the concrete. A crack split the concrete and frosty ice filled it as the crack tracked the fireball like a lightning bolt and extinguished it.

"You're like me." Jacob said.

"More than you know..."

"Are you here to take me away?"

"I am here to tell you to be strong Jacob. Be strong in the days to come, for you will be the one who inherits the future. You are the only child I will come to before the first wave."

"What wave?"

"They will call it an epidemic. But one tenth of the world's population will become like us. After that the scales will tip and there will be no more delaying it..."

"Who are you...?"

"My name is Philip Dresden, people will come to know me as DarkFlood. Jacob you will survive the apocalypse with your father, but a day will come when he will fall and you will rise. On that day I will return again for your help in saving the world..."

Jacob was now standing, along with Philip. It was a clear sunny Texas summer day. The sun beat down heavy. Philip was sweating. It was too hot for him. But Jacob was the essence of the heat, and he felt it all around him as he chose to believe Philip's words without any doubt, bracing himself for his life to come. Jacob was just a boy. Now he was a boy with the most dangerous of weapons, the notion of rising to greatness on his father's fallen back.

Powerful stuff, prophecies are. Philip was careful to hand them out...

But this had to be done. Jacob will be great. Jacob will be the conscience of the group of apprentice heroes that DarkFlood's legacy leaves behind. Philip got down on one knee before he left and reassured Jacob, "You're father is a great man, and will do whatever it takes to keep you safe..." He wanted to let the boy know that he would not have to take his father down in order for the prophecy to unfold. There was only one thing left to say then.

"...including sacrificing his own life.."


Bangkok, Thailand

Yvonne knew it was coming. She had felt sick for a couple of hours now. Reminiscent of morning sickness, Yvonne had been pregnant twice before; the first wasn't exactly on purpose and the other was a miscarriage. This took her back to that most painful time in her life, a time she truly never came back from. Yvonne knew she wasn't pregnant, and knew this pain was something foreboding. So she sat in her room and waited...

DarkFlood teleported onto the beach during the amber double-sunset of the tropical paradise. He admired the quintessential scene over the calm ocean before he went inside. There Yvonne was sitting beside the fire. DarkFlood entered and Yvonne didn't even flinch. She was to be just like the others, but already Philip could feel something different about her. Thankfully he got to her before anyone else did. Philip knew DarkFlood had many enemies out there both known and unknown, getting to Yvonne before she was brought to the United States was crucial.

Humanity was in the twilight of its innocence.

DarkFlood knew this, so did Yvonne. The had come to terms with the future like she had psychic abilities herself. But that was not why Philip was here. "You're not what I expected..."

"Funny, I was going to say the same thing about a girl from Thailand, but then again Yvonne isn't a native name now is it?"

"My parents are french....and very wealthy....This was the only place I could go that they wouldn't try to follow..."

"Is a rich family so bad?"

"Money has been my family's history for too long."

"Then what would you have your legacy be?"

Yvonne was struck by his use of the word, as if she had trouble thinking of it herself. She turned her eyes back to the fireplace and pretended not to care. She was good at that.

"My legacy is already written..."

"...Not yet it isn't."

Yvonne turned back around, this time with passion in her eyes. She got up and grabbed DarkFlood by the collar, "What have you seen? Not the same as me, no.... My life only has one path," she released DarkFlood, walking away, "...and it is paved in the shadows."

"Yvonne, I am not going to lie, I have seen great tragedy at your hands in many of my visions. But you still have the choice....Everybody has a choice..."

"What is my...choice...Dark Crusader...?"

"To come with me now, or wait for him..."

"I am only here to rule by his side."

"You are like him, but you are not one of them."

"What am I?" At last she broke down her polished reserve and showed her fleeting humanity in her desperate humility. Philip approached her and she began to cry. He got down next to her and picked her head up gently by her chin... "You are beautiful."

"You know what I am...what I become...just tell me..."

"Before the sun rises you will be invincible, but at a price... You will need to kill in order to survive."

"How is that even possible?"

"There is a lot that cannot be explained, but you must trust that I am right and make the choice now, before the turn..."

"What if I choose wrong? And end up becoming.... Queen of the Damned..."

"No matter what... it is your choice, and always will be. Don't let fate live your life for you."

Yvonne knew what was at stake in this one simple choice to stay or go. If she went with him now she would avoid all temptation. Having DarkFlood there to stop her from killing people and finding a suitable substitute. But if she stayed she would succumb right away to her new found urges and ride the slippery slope to madness and murder.

"I have to stay."

Yvonne was right. If she went with Philip now she would avoid her natural temptations, only to explode later in pent-up rage. No...Instead, Yvonne would stay and accept her new life, taking her place in fate, confronting her own darkness, and maybe one day...overcoming it.

"I can tell you this, Yvonne..."

"...I know you are not like the rest of them, because of the psychic link we share. They are beasts, but are so much more...Never forget that...please..."

"I won't."

"Til we meet again, Yvonne. Hopefully, it will not be on different sides...."

Philip walked out of the room and back down the beach to have one last look at the other side of the world before he returned to New York.

"WAIT!" Yvonne yelled as she ran towards him.

This was it. He thought for sure that she had changed her mind; that he had said something to persuade her in the right direction, that together they had defeated fate. But alas she merely asked, "Who are you?"


"I don't even know your name..."

DarkFlood turned around with his fists on his hip and his cape in the wind, "I am DarkFlood."

Yvonne stared back at him with that unsatisfied french reserve now up again, "......"

"...My name is Philip Dresden...and I am sorry this has to happen to you..."


Himalayas, China

Dr. Randolph had settled in since Philip left him here some weeks ago. He and Jason had successfully assimilated into the rural Chinese lifestyle. It was much easier for Jason who already spoke the local dialect. They were not too far from a common tourist area of the Great Wall, and Randolph would often visit it just to talk with people from the United States. It kept him from going crazy due to absolute loss of identity thanks to Philip.

Dr. Randolph knew this wasn't just for their well-being, this was punishment for sleeping with Philip's ex-wife behind his back. But Randolph held no ill will towards Philip for it, the doctor was a compassionate man and knew on some level that he deserved this exile. Jason was a great friend in light of losing Philip. Dr. Randolph and Jason were taking Lazarus' son to the Great Wall over the weekend when it happened. Something Dr. Randolph was not expecting, given Philip's decree before they parted ways.

Jason fell to his knees and screamed. Dr. Randolph and everybody around them watched as Jason grabbed his head and his anguish forced itself out in another deafening scream. Jason rubbed his temples to try and relieve the pain. It felt good and coincidentally the pain started subsiding. Everyone else took their hands off their ears and re-opened their eyes. Some people recognized what was going on. It was happening more and more often around the world.

So the cellphones and cameras were whipped out to record Jason's very private moment of transformation. He writhed on the floor in agony before it was over and could once again think clearly. Jason got up and looked around. There was dirt on his jacket and his hair was all messed up, and he knew all those cameras were projecting this image of his freak out onto the internet and all over the world. He saw it in his head, in Beijing, Tokyo, London, Times Square in New York showing the embarrassing video. It was clear as day in his head and all too overwhelming for Jason.

"NO!" Jason's anger took him and he threw out his hands, but nothing happened. Everyone starting laughing, but not for long when their cellphones and other electronic devices started sparking and shorting-out in their hands. Everyone panicked and they knew...It was Jason doing this...

Jason could see everything in his head revolving around the electricity, from the tiny circuits and computer chips in the cellphones to the network satellites orbiting space. He twinged his fingers and they all succumbed to his will, even the very fabric of the internet. Whatever it may be...

The mindless tourists ran in terror and fled the Great Wall of China. He knew the police would be here for him soon. The sanctuary Philip had so carefully set up for them was exposed to the world. They could not stay here. Dr. Randolph did not know what to do. He was already lost. Where else could they go? Jason was preoccupied coping with this knew power within him. Lazarus' boy looked up at Dr. Randolph; he was terrified. He had to do something. But what?

The clouds cracked together and the skies opened, bringing rain and lightning. The storm seemed to only fall over them on the Great Wall. Dr. Randolph identified the storm with his surrender into hopelessness, but that is not what he should have been relating it to...

Fitzsimons, the military research scientist, and beholder of the Storm Harvester came together from the tornado winds and crimson lightning. He stepped out of the fury as normal as the day Randolph met him. Fitzsimons had come for Jason.

"I'm putting together a team, Jason," Fitzsimons talked as if they were already well acquainted, "And since your beloved hero has left you at the hands of others. I have come to give you a one-time offer to work for the U.S. government...with me," Fitzsimons winked, "before your own local government comes to collect you and dissect you..."

Jason stood before Fitzsimons as Dr. Randolph and the boy cowered behind them.

"Well... what'd ya say, boy?"

"I'm not afraid of you."

"You should be."

"He will come back for me."

"He's forgotten about you."

Jason staggered backwards. He had nothing more to say. Damn did he not want to admit it, but the jerk was right. How could Jack have just left them? Jason didn't even know what was happening to him, now he was expected to fight Fitzsimons...

"Face it kid, you're alone..."

"Not Alone." DarkFlood proclaimed as he teleported in with a scatter-jump, placing Moses, Lazarus, and Vlad all around Fitzsimons. Moses pulled stone from the Great Wall, Lazarus pounded his palm with his fist, and Vlad bent the pressure all around them, manipulating Fitzsimons' storm.

"Ha! You might think that you have won this one, DarkFlood!" Fitzsimons admitted before he fled.

"I don't care. You have to answer for what you did to Sarah!"

"All I needed was to provoke you into showing your hand." Fitzsimons was pulled off the ground and back into the storm. "Ha ha ha, see you back in New York!"


Ripped into the fray, Philip Dresden knew what he must do...sacrifice the fight for humanity's soul in order to save the world. The Two Suns prophecy was a travesty wrapped in a simple trajectory: first a second sun appeared in the sky, next mankind evolves into a super race, and finally the Two Suns would both go out...killing the entire world. Philip was outside of all this looking in, he was the only one capable of doing something to prevent the end of the world. Except it would not take something from Philip, it would take everything.

He still had some time before that day would come. And in this time, Philip would train his successors and hope they had what it would take to stop temptation and corruption from triumphing over humanity. When townies can move buildings with their minds, when children become living reincarnations of some of their most beloved video games and comic books, when corporate executives can turn inanimate objects to gold, when the common man is faster than a speeding bullet; when anything is possible people lose themselves in the excess.

Moses' Apartment, New York

Philip woke up in the middle of the night, got out of bed, and left his room. He walked down the hallway in the dark. He could hear the television and Jason snoring in the living room. It was a full house, even with Lazarus taking Dr. Randolph in at his apartment. Philip walked across the long floor, passing the doors to the other bedrooms. On his way to the bathroom the doors shivered. Philip stopped.

He got close to the reverberating doorknobs to examine them when they shattered splinters of wood and shrapnel at him. The wind picks up the mess and funnels it out of the way. The walls have been breached by the phantom-snatched doors and wiped in utter blackness. The floor blended with the shadow canvas, and Philip focused on the stars withdrawing what little light there was from the darkness. Philip reaches out and touches the newborn stars. They activate and shoot across the wall back down the hallway toward the living room.

The light from the television snaps Philip out of it and he can see the doors and the hallway again. He hears the comforts of the network broadcasting early morning news while he strolls to the bathroom,"...That's right Dave, mysterious reports of entire species disappearing all over the world..." But Philip was too busy trying to rationalize what he saw as nothing more than a dream to really listen to the outlandish news report. Before he opens the bathroom door he realizes the sound from the TV news was gone and replaced by static.

The static reflects off the wall in front of him and he lets go of the door to the bathroom. He is pulled down the hallway and turns around to face the vacant way. Instead of the rest of the apartment, Philip is being pulled towards the stars in space. The closer he gets to them, the bigger the stars get. It is not until he is right beside them that he can tell they are living planets and are unwillingly being pulled along with him. How can this be happening? Philip looks over at the planets, they're...orbiting...around him. Philip stands up in his DarkFlood gear.

The great orbs give him gravity.

DarkFlood can see the oncoming storm. He flies into it and carries the city on his back. Chains and whips claw at him in the fury of the celestial cloud. DarkFlood breaks through it and releases the city on the rock. It floats away to safety, but Philip is pulled on...

He loses control again as the planets collide all around him. He closes his eyes and grinds the remnants of the dead orbs to dust. It forms around him in sharp rings; condensed stone constantly in motion. The rings lift him up and buckle him wildly down the tractor. Philip charges the rings and throws them down the current to light up his path.

The rings explode in the space cascade, revealing the black hole. It is Betelgeuse, the fallen star. The super nova that is still lighting up the Earth's sky with a photograph of itself long after it has collapsed. Philip plummets into the black hole. Before he wakes up his DarkFlood gear burns off in a blue effervescent light.

Philip is still in his bed. It was just a dream, but to him it was real. His visions were so consistent it felt as though he never dreamed anymore, but just witnessed the future. Maybe that's what it would take? What if Philip just saw the answer to stopping the sun from going out? If he clogs the black hole, perhaps that will stop the ripple affect from reaching Earth's solar system.

It was a long shot, but up until now Philip had nothing else, no prior theory. Philip got out of bed and began putting his DarkFlood gear on. For the first time since he began this crusade, Philip saw the end of the line for DarkFlood. The day was coming when Philip Dresden would be purged of all his humanity, all in the name of Earth's salvation.


No one would know what it feels like to see the world through Philip's eyes, save one...his oldest enemy. The Storm Harvester lays dormant and waiting within the government research scientist Doctor Mordechai Isaac Fitzsimons. Since they recovered Fitzsimons from Afghanistan after he planted himself near the base in Kabul, he informed the government of what happened at the caves and how Philip Dresden was still alive and to blame for the ambush; making him an enemy of the state.

When Philip was hiding in Chinatown, as Jack Hanover, Dr. Fitzsimons was busy testing himself and the new power of the Harvester within him. He traveled back to Afghanistan for a term to help recover what remains were left from the cave battle. It was there that he made his first breakthrough with his work testing the Storm Harvester. When they searched for the fallen American soldiers, not much was recovered. Dr. Fitzsimons was the only one to find a somewhat whole corpse. He injected a serum he created from his own blood into Faulkner and took the dead sniper back to Washington.

A couple of days later Faulkner's blood began to warm throughout his veins, and his skin started regaining color. In the following weeks his heartbeat returned and pumped blue blood to his lungs and brain. Faulkner spent the next month in a coma, when he awoke it was the same day DarkFlood was first on the news for saving people in a New York City apartment building fire. Fitzsimons trained Faulkner to regain his physical strength. The Storm Harvester was not possessing the resurrected sniper like it was in Dr. Fitzsimons, but his speed and agility rapidly improved more than ever before. Soon his strength and mental capacity advanced only enough to plateau at an above-average level.

Faulkner was the perfect soldier; and the ultimate weapon against Philip Dresden.

Unfortunately for Dr. Fitzsimons after he ordered the execution of Sarah Dresden, and watched DarkFlood vow to avenge his dead wife, he knew he would need more than just Faulkner. Fitzsimons recruited just like Philip did, but where Philip was specific in his choices, Fitzsimons farmed an army of soldiers into what Faulkner was with a similar serum.

Weeks later, Dr. Fitzsimons returned to the United States from the Great Wall after his latest encounter with Philip and knew a legion of soldiers would still not be enough. This would take everything he had. So he carefully put together a multilayer plan that would set into motion the demise of DarkFlood. Fitzsimons first contacted a shadowed man hidden even from DarkFlood's visions. Fitzsimons explained to him what he was doing, and what he was meant for. What the shadowed man did not reveal is that he already knew what he was doing there.

He was a dark agent of fate, forgotten by time itself.

And that is exactly what the sinister scientist did, forget about him... Fitzsimons was able to simultaneously infiltrate the White House and go on a scouting trip to find his alpha squad and begin his assault on Philip. First Fitzsimons would attack the country, then he would hit New York City, after that the rest should take care of itself, for the city will turn on DarkFlood like a plague and devour itself in the process. His plan was almost perfect, only one variable remained...Philip.

* * *

Wall Street, New York

The skyscrapers in the city were emptied, all except the executive floors. A sweeping epidemic has gripped the business elite; transforming them one in the same. They huddled around their offices and chanted, going mad with power. The fax and printer paper burned in the savage fire as they gathered metal and plastic beside it. They broke chairs and desks, emptied their wallets and took off their watches. With the chant they boiled the pile down and stole the golden flame from the fire. The metal and plastic was turned to pure gold.

One man, one among them all stood up and did not go for the gold. It was still burning hot and as they went for it, he pulled it back upon him. He filtered the gold through their deaths and consumed the luminous force that was extracted.

"Many will call themselves it," Fitzsimons walked out, "But only one will truly turn gold to immortality. "

"What am I?"

"You're the Alchemist."

* * *

"Well..." Yvonne could not wait any longer, "Are you going to do it or not?"

Oliver smiled with his hand around the throat of a random person, he tears out his throat and lets his body fall dead to the floor. Oliver and Yvonne close their eyes and moan, she comes over and kisses Ollie to get some more of the energy released after his kill. A police officer sees them on the street. "STOP!" he yells.

Ollie runs over to a parked car, his feet cracking the road every step he takes, while Yvonne opens her eyes with pink fire emitting from them. The fire spills out of her head and follows her jet black hair down her shoulder. When the translucent flame gets to her hand it comes together and intensifies, creating a sword.

The cop pulls out his gun and yells again, "Stop or I'll shoot!"

Ollie picks the car up with his bare hands and the cop opens fire. Yvonne jumps in the way and slices apart the bullets with her kinetic sword. Ollie throws the car over her and pulverizes the cop into the road with it. Fitzsimons walks out of the building with the Alchemist. "This is who I was telling you about-" he says.

"The immortal three..." someone interrupts.

"Who's there?" Fitzsimons arms himself with static lightning bouncing back and forth in his palms.

An alleyway trashcan rattles and the Hatter back-flips into the streetlight, "I'm the one who shows you how to find him..."


Himalayas, China

Philip Dresden sometimes felt that he was just another helpless product of fate in the universe. Rarely these days did he not know what was coming next. This was one of those times. So he was considerably reluctant to carry on... "Well we're here now," Philip informed Dr. Randolph, "So you don't have to keep trying to convince me to come back."

"I can never really get use to that... Across the world in the blink of an eye..."

 He cluster-jumped Jason, Lazarus, and his son from New York to China and together, the five of them journeyed up the mountain to the temple.

"Explain to me again why you brought the kid?"

"It's not safe back home with Vlad and Moses out on patrol, and we need Lazarus here..."

"For what?"

"It's a very...old...temple..."

Philip knew that wasn't enough, "Consider this the last field trip these kids, and us for that matter, will ever go on..."

"That's grim." Jason commented as he walked by them.

"Not far now..."

When they got to the end of the trail it gave way to a clearing at the summit. Just as Jason and Dr. Randolph had seen in the months they lived here in the mountains. Philip had always seen this picture in his head, even when Sensei told him about the temple in the east during his training. This was always the place. The night he fell from the Empire State Building after hearing all the voices of the city, the same night his visions started...he knew his path would lead him the hall of all the answers...All the questions and mysteries of his past, present, and future...

"Tonight... we find out everything." Philip told them as he neared the doorway.

There was no door. This place was built for the chosen one.

Philip walked through the archway. Inside the temple was nothing but ruins. Its decaying stone was covered in overgrown moss and the ceiling was caved in all around them. Everyone looked around at the old tragedy; only two faces were different. Lazarus, a man who could see what others could not, smiled in awe-filled eyes at all that was around him. And Philip watched Lazarus perceive the temple through the realm of the dead, just as he had foreseen.

Philip grabbed Lazarus' shoulder and closed his eyes, "What do you see?"

Lazarus panned from left to right and told him, "I see the ceiling...with the entire world in it, not our world...but one of the stars..."

Philip tried to picture it.

"...I see what lies beneath the ceiling, great white slabs..."

That is when Philip began to see it. Pure white giant tablets walling the temple. But they were not the only thing there. Lazarus stepped away and broke contact with Philip's arm. He opened his eyes and the visions remained. Philip could now see the Land of the Dead along with Lazarus, sharing in yet another ability. He was not finished.

As Lazarus touched the effervescent whiteness on the walls and informed them, "They're books!" Philip closed his eyes again and held out his other hand, facing the rest of his company. He breathed heavily.

The clouds in the sky made way for the moon whose shine washed them all over and gave Philip the strength to show them the dead temple reborn.

Dr. Randolph, Jason, and Lazarus' son, Yannie... all involuntarily changed perception filters on their eyes and joined Philip and Laz in putting the rest of the puzzle together. Yannie pulled books of pure light off the shelves next to his father while everyone else except Philip did the same. Philip kept his hands up while still facing towards them as they moved for the shelves, even though his eyes remained closed.

Yannie opened the book for what was the best moment of his entire life. It opened to a blank page, just like every other, but as he stared at it, a letter came into focus. It was an old letter, and not before long another blurred in and re-sized to fine black text next to the first. More followed and it spelled a word, word upon word wrapped next to the one before it until it painted a picture. In every book, on every page the picture was different, but the story remained the same. Whether it was the past, the present, or the future...the Great Flood was there.    

And Philip could see all of it.

He kept his eyes closed and channeled the discovery through them, pouring the knowledge into his head at a rate never felt before. It was inhuman, but it felt so good. It gave Philip strength, power in itself for him to keep going...

He had found the Infinite Source, lost in a cosmic abyss...

Storm clouds covered the moon and the bonds were interrupted. Philip lost the connection and opened his eyes. "We must go..."

"It's too late."

Thunder sounded in the distance and came roaring up. It was acting with a mind of its own, which could only mean one thing. The heavens opened and the rains came down along with a man. But it was not Fitzsimons, it was not the Storm Harvester. He walks into the temple.

Its guardian has returned to challenge the intruders.

It only appears to be a man, but once it gets close enough looks like a contained ocean riptide in human form. Philip gets everyone behind him and tries to greet the guardian. "My name is Philip Dresden, and I am the One..."

"DarkFlood... I am the created, I am Hydro, guardian of this domain, you have returned, and seen the light..." Hydro chanted like a machine giving off an automated response, "...Now all those worthy shall be tested..."



"WAIT!" The group scattered as the guardian, Hydro, began moving towards them again. The light flickered and the bookshelves returned. Hydro turned the temple back on. Yannie held his hand out and the book he was reading flew from the shelves towards him. Before it got to him he redirected it to hit Hydro. It exploded and turned some of him to water sprinkling on the floor. Yannie pulled another book and another without touching it and flung it at Hydro. Philip was taken by the words of the guardian, it sounded like a message that was left for him...He feared that it was left by someone he knew...

Yannie flew one more book into Hydro's ankle, incapacitating the ancient guard. Yannie stands before it as everyone else including his Father, cower behind Philip along the wall. "Yannie...please..." Lazarus begs him to run.

"It's fine, look!" Yannie leans over to touch the stationary guardian.

"Yannie don't!" Lazarus jumps for his boy.

"Wait!"  Philip stops trying to figure out who left him the message to intervene. That's when he realizes who it was. But it was too late...

Yannie pokes Hydro and turns into water, splashing on the ground in a puddle.

The boy is gone, dead water.

"NO!" Lazarus yells at the top of his lungs. Philip grabs him and stops him from attacking Hydro. Lazarus throws Philip off of him. Right before reaches Hydro, he looks at them all one last time and his eyes are pure blazon white, like the books on the shelves, as he pulls them all along with him into Hydro.

The water collides with the light and sends everyone left in the temple catapulting through time and space. Philip can feel the Infinite Abyss calling to him, something new. He wants to push on in the time void but knows he must return to his world. He finds a familiar fold in the fabric of time and brings them back to Moses' Apartment in New York.

Philip had never felt that level of power before, and it took him further away from humanity. He tasted existing as pure energy for the first time and now he wanted to live like that forever in eternity. But right now he followed his heart back home; except it is six months to the day after they journeyed to the temple in the East and the balance between human and super human has gone on without him and begun its descent into anarchy once and for all...


Washington, D.C.

Two Suns still sparked the sky, making every day a hot summer day. Security was higher than ever along the National Mall, and yet the same age-old iron gates protected the White House. A young tourist lets go of the red balloon his mother just bought him. It's pulled into the skies as a storm rolls in. The cloud casts it shadow from the White House to Capital Hill, and the boy falls to the sidewalk short of breath. His mother runs to his side, "Harold!"

The President sees a light reflect off of the clock on his desk in the Oval Office as if the storm had passed already. He gets up and takes a moment to look outside. "But that's impossible..."

The storm clouds still hovered above the Capitol, but the sun shined below them within the boy named Harold by the gate. The power of the sun harnessed in Harold's Heart. The poor boy screams as the energy overcomes him and is released into the atmosphere in a blast wave. The wave tears Harold and his mother to atoms. It dissolves the White House and the iron gates to nothingness. Everything in the radius of the blast wave now floats in the air above them as radiated particles. The red balloon passes through the storm clouds as it begins to rain.

A shadow leaves Columbia in cinder.

The Pentagon immediately went to DEF CON ONE, declaring martial law on the nation after loosing the President, Vice President, and most of the cabinet. The major cities began evacuation. Once the news and internet got the information to the public it was not long before their was looting and rioting in the streets. It didn't matter if you were in a city or suburb, people were scared; democracy and liberty were at its weakest. Like an army without a commander retreating at the first sign of trouble, society was crumbling.

Due to his expansive research in the area, Doctor Mordechai Fitzsimons was given orders to take his team along with the super human soldier squadron to secure and protect the largest city in the country.

New York City, NY

DarkFlood sat on the roof of a skyscraper timing Moses and Vlad running through the city. Moses had learned how to create stone slabs while Vlad held them in the suspended in the air as they ran high above Chinatown's streets. They were both well on their way to becoming super heroes. Soon they would no longer need Philip to be DarkFlood. Vlad was calling himself Geronimo. Moses wore sleeveless shirts, showing the flesh on his arms that was now smooth grey stone from his shoulder down to his fingers, a trademarked look for his neighborhood persona, Stone Thrower.

It had been a couple of weeks now without his skin eroding any further. Moses prayed it was over. They did not mourn Lazarus, for DarkFlood told them that they would all see him again. And Jason used his power to keep them off the grid and hijacked into the system from the desktop and television at Moses Apartment along with Dr. Randolph, who was finding himself more and more useless every day.

As Jason and Randolph found out about Washington, DarkFlood found himself waiting for his team to finish a city scramble. It never took them this long. Something was wrong... He jumped off the skyscraper and the cloak Sensei gave him fixed to his hands and caught the wind like a hang-glider. He tracks down the stone tablets suspended in the air, but no Moses or Geronimo were near. Police sirens echo around the corner. He turns in and teleports onto the hood of the police car. DarkFlood waves his hand behind him and the police sirens turns off. The two officers in the patrol car are dead. He looks down the street and this is what he sees...

A woman out in the street holding her head as her elbows and knees turn to knots and her feet turn to stumbling stumps, her skin turns to bark. Before she can finish transforming people in the shops around her throw Molotov Cocktails and try to shoot her dead. They pull a guy hiding in his apartment out to the street for another public execution. Even the children are watching and cheering the lynch-mob on.

He must do something. DarkFlood scatter-jumped over to them before they killed a man for being blue and able to breathe under water. DarkFlood rubbed his hands together and pulled the blue from the man's face, creating water to put out the fire on the woman's back. The crowd panicked upon seeing DarkFlood and scattered, revealing his men down the block combating another rampaging mob.

Moses was keeping a burning building from crumbling over families still rushing out of their apartments. He threw pillars of stone up from the ground to replace the caving foundation. Geronimo stood back to back with him, holding the bullets away from people who took advantage of them being distracted after catching them use their powers even though they were clearly saving people. His patience was spent. For Vladimir Geronimov proud Russian and father, they did not deserve a second chance. His hate erupted a power more than he ever imagined. He stopped and pulled all the bullets and all of their hearts into the pavement. Moses felt the tremor of death create a schism, but did not dare to look back.

Around Manhattan tanks and Humvee convoys cover all the bridges and tunnels. Joining the police in a city wide lock-down. They quickly comb every neighborhood from Washington Heights to Staten Island, putting down any citizen uprising or rioting mob. Fitzsimons along with the Hatter and Faulkner leading the super human soldiers ride to Chinatown. The soldiers seek out every super human from the neighborhood out to Times Square, along with every other neighboring district where Oliver, Yvonne, and the Alchemist were waiting to round them up into two groups. The first group was to be only a few recruited into the new human army. The second group would be sacrificed to appease the remaining humans, making them think that Fitzsimons was still "following orders".

Jason finally gives up on waiting for Philip, Moses, and Vlad to return home and goes out looking for them instead. He passed through the alleyway and night draws over him like a curtain. Even the floor runs black. The Shadow Man surrounds Jason. He pulls out his cellphone from his pocket and supercharges it to emit a light. Jason stands strong.

One lone beacon in the darkness.

Jason held his beacon for someone to find him. The whole city was crying out. Who would be there to save him now?

The docks and the ships are abandoned. For the first time in years, the Intrepid is active, patrolling the Hudson River. The water shifts with an unusual tide and floods down city blocks. It moves with a mind of its own and tracks a source its been looking for since China.

Jason can't keep the spark alive in the phone forever and the shadow begins to take over the dwindling light. The water carries over its own residual trail of inter-dimensional goo. The Shadow Man reveals himself to Jason whose phone breaks in his hands. The pressure of the darkness brings the kid to his knees and right before the Shadow Man kills him, Lazarus and his son return with a champion from the Realm of the Dead.

Sensei returns from the afterlife as an embodied spirit and swipes the last bit of light up over Jason with his samurai sword clashing against the Shadow Man's scythe.

 Hydro reforms from the obscure channel of water running in between them, facing Lazarus.


 Times Square, New York

Philip Dresden has always seen this day coming in his dreams. He knew what must happen, but not how the pieces would fall, and many would fall. The sides were set, the arena ready for the great battle. This was the beginning of the end for the human race. No matter what happened today, no matter which side would claim triumph over the world to come, the outcome would remain the same. One day our Sun will go out and destroy the Earth and there will be no winners.

Philip had to find it in himself to fight for the time they had left, to not let humanity surrender so easily to anarchy. Once the world sees what happens here in New York...

"...Everything will change." DarkFlood told his men, Moses StoneThrower and Vladimir Geronimov.

"What do we do?"

"We wait..." DarkFlood told them.

"For what?"

"Not what...but who..."

* * *

Jason crawled out of the way as Sensei knocked the Shadow Man back with his pure white samurai sword. He looked exactly the same, except for his robes of light, that is what Jason would a dream. He had to move. He tried to run to Lazarus and Yannie but saw Hydro confronting them. Jason wanted to stay and fight, he admired Yannie for his bravery, but he knew DarkFlood was out there somewhere, and needed to be reunited with Sensei. So he ran...

In the windowsill of one of the square's many skyscrapers a man and woman vigorously go at it as they fear the end of the world is upon them. Her cheek is pressed against the glass. He scratches at her back and bites her shoulder and the snipers all across the square are too distracted by this to see DarkFlood, Moses, and Geronimo. That is until the woman presses her hand on the glass double-pane, shatterproof window and crushes it to dust. Her transformation gone by unnoticed. They lose their balance and both plummet naked to their deaths in the middle of Times Square. The crowd of people being rounded up go mad and the spotlights are turned on to aid the snipers.

Their cover is blown and DarkFlood tells them to drop down. Before he can, he is stopped by a sixth sense, or at this point a ninth or tenth sense. Something tells him not to go just yet. Even though he would be abandoning his men in the fight, he needed to wait...

Up in Westchester County a man looks at his hands as the very strands of his flesh come apart and turn into negative electricity, what ancient civilizations used to call absent lightning. He feeds off of regular electricity, and the only way to stay alive and with his family is to wipe the entire eastern seaboard of electricity. Times Square goes dark, along with the rest of Manhattan, Jason finishes climbing the rafters above the Times Square Building itself. Philip watches him from the adjacent rooftop as the kid punches into the mainframe of the building and uses it as a giant conductor to jump-start the city's power supply.

The building's lights come back on and reveal Jason to the snipers. DarkFlood teleports over to him and gets him out of plain sight before he is shot. The storm above cracks a bolt of lightning to the ground, pinning DarkFlood in place. He has not been able to finish his teleportation, both he and Jason are stuck in between dimensions. Fitzsimons drags the bolt of lightning to Times Square where he releases them. DarkFlood gets up. They are on a stage in front of every human who has transformed in the city. Jason catches his breath as he looks around, "We're going to die..."

Vlad and Moses posed as captives walking through the interment camp. At the crossroads of every street in the square were fences edged with barbed-wire almost fifty feet high. Above that, in the actual intersections were guard towers equip with floodlights and turrets. Soldiers herded the people in through the gates and used a process to separate them that both Vlad and Moses were going through now. First their information was taken down, name and background, etc. After that they were forced to show their powers to government research scientists at gunpoint. Yvonne, Oliver, and the Alchemist all supervised this phase of the process. They enjoyed the rich essence of killing a champion. Yvonne had still yet to murder anyone herself, and felt safe overseeing this part of Fitzsimons' process compared to the final stages.

It was now Vlad and Moses' turn to showcase their powers, they both found no better a moment than the present to begin their assault. Moses pulled chunks of the earth out of the ground and Vlad turned the gravity off in the camp. Everyone floated into the air. He magnetized all the guns to the floor and brought himself over to the scientists. The prisoners were set free. Fitzsimons, Jason, and Philip could hear them cheering as they took the gates.


The Mad Hatter jumped on stage and kicked Jason in the face with a roundhouse. "Be still, boy!"
The Square went dark and the shadow wound up together like a swirling curtain on stage to create the Shadow Man. Light blasted through as Sensei knocked Hatter to the floor with the handle of his sword. Lazarus and Yannie still fight Hydro in the alleyway.

The boulders Moses controls crush the weapons and pin down the soldiers and scientists as Vlad resets the gravity. He levitates Moses and himself to the stage. Jason backs up next to DarkFlood, Moses, Geronimo, and Sensei. The Alchemist, along with Yvonne and Ollie get onstage next to Fitzsimons, the Mad Hatter, and the Shadow Man.

"We're outmatched..." Moses whispered to Philip.

"No we're not. She won't fight..." he pointed to Yvonne.

"Wrong again, DarkFlood!" the Hatter yelled out. Fitzsimons nodded his head and one of the soldiers radioed Faulkner. He was posted outside of the Square rounding up all of the prisoners trying to escape. They were escorted back into the camp by Faulkner's squadron.

"Vlad, go." Philip knew nothing could stop him, especially after this...

The Shadow Man disappeared and so did Sensei. Vlad flew away and Fitzsimons ordered Oliver after him, "Kill the Russian."

Faulkner walked onstage and Yvonne backed away from the line. "Now you're outmatched," Fitzsimons informed him. It was Philip, Moses, and the kid versus the four of them. Philip knew what he had to do. He teleported back to Moses' Apartment where Dr. Randolph was still waiting.

"What do you say, Doc? Come to the rescue one more time?" Philip rubbed his hands together and they began to light up in a blue flame. "Concentrate on which of my powers you like most..." Philip threw his hands forward and propelled a charge into the Doctor's chest. He fell over and tried to say something. "No time!" Philip grabbed him and teleported back to Times Square. Randolph got to his feet on the stage and felt the new sensation coursing through his body. He stared over at every adversary ever to come across Philip, past and present. Directly in front of him was the Mad Hatter.

"Enough of this!"

"Tonight you pay for what you've done."

"Kill them all!" Fitzsimons yells out as The Alchemist attacks Moses, and the Hatter punches Dr. Randolph. Faulkner does not go after Jason but joins Fitzsimons in their final confrontation with Philip Dresden. "It's okay kid, I got this... Go help your Grandpa."

The Battle for New York City was upon them. Sensei flies around the square with the mysterious warrior of shadow; as Vlad calls upon the prisoners to fight for their freedom against Ollie and the super squadron of soldiers. Jason backs away and Yvonne stares at him from across the stage. Lazarus and Yannie run their spirits' array around Hydro, ensnaring him, trying to contain his unyielding fury. Moses collides with the Alchemist, stone against gold and Randolph launches two pulse blasts at the Mad Hatter; all of which happening around Philip who tries to reason with Fitzsimons one last time.

"If you stop all of this now I might still show you mercy."

"You are not the only one who can see into the future, DarkFlood. This was never meant to be how the world goes out."

"What are you talking about?"

"You wrought this on us all, Philip Dresden. As long as you keep the Divine Catalyst alive, you bring about the end of days..."

"You're lying."

"You know not the bounds of my existence. I am the Storm Harvester, the constant throughout time and space, keeper of the key to the universe..."

Philip could recognize the difference between talking with Fitzsimons and addressing the Storm Harvester, this was one of those times...when all traces of humanity were erased from his voice and his eyes bled the winds of the tornado in his pupils. Philip had to know after all this time, what all this really was...

"Then what am I?"

"The Divine Catalyst."

"And what is the Divine Catalyst?"

"...A thief."

Times Square, New York

"...A thief of the Cosmos,"

" the Divine Catalyst is nothing more than immortal incarnation, an immovable object who stole a planet from the fates of the Cosmos and gave humanity the undeserved gift of self awareness and curiosity. The Cosmos knew all of time and could foresee this happening. In their infinite wisdom they let history unfold as it should, but not without imprisoning the immortal force on the planet as an inanimate object."

"In the time since, it has become powerful enough to transfer material shells, even into living bodies, such as a planet, and eventually...a human...before it makes it final attempt, over the backs of those it once blessed, to escape its planetary confinement...back into the stars..."Fitzsimons gasped as if he had been refused oxygen for several minutes.

Faulkner stepped in front of him like a mindless drone bent on killing DarkFlood. The Shadow Man used the darkness from the storm and the shadows cast by the skyscrapers to overcome Sensei. He was a giant phantom in the sky crashing down on the prisoners as Sensei flew up, a shooting star, and slices into the sea of shadow with his sword.

Randolph fought with the Hatter behind the stage. Each time Doctor Randolph let out another pulse blast, he was launched back. Now out in one of the alleyways, his power was exhausted and the Hatter approached him swinging his cane. Yannie appeared and grabbed Randolph's wrist. It felt cold. The grasp of pure light around his arm was fusing and boiling over. It recharged him and Randolph shot two more pulse blasts. The Hatter swung the can like a bat, knocking them both into discharge. Yannie disappeared and unbeknownst to Randolph returned to Lazarus who was retreating down the next corner.

Geronimo kept the epic clash in the sky from harming the prisoners as Ollie moved in with his squadron. Vlad only had a couple of minutes to rally all these people together. A stranger in a foreign land...only sharing one thing in common with them, one thing that made them feel like kin, persecution in the streets for nothing they could control themselves, fear of the masses.

"My friends....I know you're scared!" he calls out to them, "No one is coming to save us now."

So far this motivational speech was not doing the trick. The prisoners felt vulnerable, weak, nothing to fear but death itself. Vlad had to bring his words together and find a way to unite them. How better a reason then what had brought them together in the first place...

"But our lives are worth fighting for! They kill us because they fear us! Now they have done the worst thing imaginable! Brought us together to execute our kind! If we can band together right now as brothers and sisters... We are the next evolution of man and we can overcome this!"

The crowd cheered in the rainy, spot-light scattered military camp that was once Times Square and everyone stood together after hearing Geronimo. His words would echo throughout the generations, and he knew this was always a path for him. He knew the leader was within him, but never knew what would bring him to use it. Vlad led the charge as Ollie stayed in back of his flanks. Vlad froze the gravity of his opponents rendering them and their weapons useless. The prisoners rushed the troops.

Amongst the fight were many of the run of the mill abilities like super strength and super speed. One guy flew up into the air, swooping back down and picking up soldiers to drop them to their deaths. Another broke the fire hydrant and tapped into the spewing water. The water froze and he covered himself in the expanding ice, knocking back soldier after soldier.

Ollie let his men go first and get stuck in the field. He grabbed one of his own soldiers and snapped his neck, gaining the power to penetrate the zero gravity blockade. With Ollie and Yvonne they represented a breed of super human that becomes the majority common power.

 DarkFlood knew from his dreams that either one of them would become the leader. King or Queen of a specific sub-species of super humans that live forever with enhanced abilities as long as they kill. The taking of a life in essence is their immortality, the better the kill, the more powerful the man, or super human...the greater the power up. Every killer was different, some were natural born psychopaths like Oliver, and some were decent people with amazing potential such as Yvonne.

Ollie tackled Vlad and distracted him, releasing his troops to fight. They grappled on the ground, the soldiers fight the rallied prisoners; and Sensei cuts down the shadow back to merely a man like the rest of them, even though they still hover above the street as they continue to fight. The Shadow Man turns his scythe into a katana blade like Sensei's and they fight along the skyscrapers like they were back in the Himalayas...

DarkFlood stares at Fitzsimons as Faulkner tries to help him up. The Mad Hatter cracked Dr. Randolph in the face with his cane and laughed, "That one was just for me!" Lazarus heard them fighting but could not help as he continued keeping Hydro from reaching the square with the help of his son, Yannie. Yvonne stalked Jason backstage who was scrambling for a way to help. Meanwhile Moses StoneThrower faced scrutinizing odds against his foe, the Alchemist. He knew not who he was besides his name, but the implications of such a name imbedded the deepest fear in him; master of gold and immortality, he was a god...and Moses just a man...

Gold clashes against stone. How could he beat the Alchemist?


 Times Square, New York

Moses threw obstacle after obstacle into the ground after retreating from the stage. The Alchemist walked through the air like a mist was carrying him. He swiftly kicked and jumped over Moses' obstacles. Moses was worried and tried to keep up with everything around him. He fell back into the battle between revolting refugees and the soldiers imprisoning them. Moses used them as a means to get his shit together. He backed up next to a parked car and tried to visualize everyone fighting around him on the concrete.

DarkFlood blocks another strike from Faulkner as he pushes back and feels Moses' mind projecting from the square. He needs help. DarkFlood closes his eyes and transmits his sonar and visions to help access what Moses needs. Moses screams in hysterical pain and a cliff shoots up out of the street that lifts him and the parked car up twenty feet. DarkFlood takes the hit from Faulkner and Fitzsimons moans on the floor, distracting both of them.

"You don't understand..." Fitzsimons coughed on the floor, "Soon I will become him completely."

"Then who is really the enemy!?" Philip yelled out as Seventh and Broadway were decimated by razor sharp cliff spiking out of the ground. "THE THIEF..." the two streets hemorrhage asphalt, "...OR THE MURDERER!"  The stone spikes come to a fine point where many have plunged into the hearts of Fitzsimons' mindless soldier drones. But it does not stop the Alchemist.

Moses turns himself into a stone giant. The Alchemist laughs, he feels his opponent is now ready to fight like the gods they were.

He pulls a giant golden sword out and cuts a curved slice up to Moses' stone giant head. The Alchemist puts the sword away and runs up the slice before it fades, leaping onto Moses' shoulder. Moses shrinks back down to normal size, his head last, and they both plummet back down to the floor. The Alchemist throws two golden ropes from his hands attaching to the walls of the towers and Moses raises the ground below him to catch his fall. The Alchemist throws two golden discs at Moses and he counters by raising a wall to block them.

The discs shatter into dust and dissolve the wall. The Alchemist blows the gold dust forward and it forces Moses to inhale the golden slivers, scraping his lungs. Moses coughs and heaves. He doesn't know what to do. The Alchemist drops down on his back with his elbow. Moses turns over and pulls the concrete of the street through his chest knocking the Alchemist in the face. Moses slams his fist into the road and pulls up electrical chords connected to a streetlight. He swings the chords down and they crush the street light into the Alchemist.

The ground shakes and a short earthquake drops Moses down into the trench he formed from the pulled-up chords and the crack. He looks for his enemy. The Alchemist runs in the dark cavern, his shadow shining off a reflection for Moses to see. He chases him down and the Alchemist jumps out from behind him. He grabs Moses' face and turns him to gold. He is frozen into a statue. Moses pulls the earth beneath his feet once again and manifests enough pressure to break the golden hold. The Alchemist loses control over his opponent and the gold cracks. Underneath the shedding gold skin, Moses is pure stone...

He can feel it. He is more dense. It takes more to move but he adapts. Moses feels everything more as the weight of the world folds all around him. His gravitas shifts and he sees the world a little differently from now on. He is the stone, one in the same. And he could do whatever he wanted. The stone skin re-solidified into different colors. He could mimic his old appearance. Luckily he was bald to begin with, along with the black vest he was wearing it didn't take much. And what the hell, he decided to keep his grey-stone arms.

Moses was reborn in his natural habitat beneath the earth's crust. 

Lazarus and Yannie hold each others hands, father and son, and bend the light around Hydro. He is bound by the light. If he touches it he will be thrown through time and space. Randolph pants on the ground as the build up of unnatural energy is forcing him to go into cardiac arrest. He releases rogue pulse blasts to try and ventilate the overflow. They cut into the skyscrapers and cause them to buckle and break, plummeting into the square. The Hatter walks up to him and stares down at the dying doctor, smiling "Just as I thought..."

"No..." Randolph squirmed.

"I knew you would be an easy win..." The sociopath laughed at the mistake, " especially when your so-called friend already signed your death warrant."

The Hatter was not making any sense. Randolph could barely concentrate. His heart was failing. The pain was blinding, it cut him off from the world. All he could hear was his heartbeat dying out. This was the end for him. Lazarus and Yannie slam the cage down on the Hatter, trapping him with Hydro. Hydro extends his arm into the Mad Hatter's face as he mutes his screams. Yannie closes the cage, combining it with Hydro's water, and the three of them are sent off through space and time.

The alleyway fight is over. But all is not lost... Lazarus looks at his hands, they are flesh, he was no longer like Sensei or Yannie, a being of light. He was human once again. Lazarus knows the selfless sacrifice his son had made, and loves him for it. He could only hope that one day he can join him in glory, but right now he was needed by his friend. The kind doctor who looked after his boy for free after he nearly died in the fire. Laz runs over to the still body on the ground. He stands over him, never expecting to see that...

Dr. Randolph was dead.


Times Square, New York

The clouds thunder and part and the Shadow Man is caught in the break of daylight. Sensei jumps at the opportunity as the clouds part further, channeling the storm into two fronts. Fitzsimons stands up, his eyes harnessed grey fury. Lightning from both storms pull down and around him, and draw together, making one massive bolt right through Fitzsimons. It releases from the ground and the storms rain down from all sides, sweeping into the mad research scientist. He was right. This was it. The Storm Harvester was taking him over for good. Philip had to do something...

DarkFlood blasts up and snatches the Man of Shadow. Sensei demands him, "NO!" The Shadow smiles, fulfilling his destiny as Philip transmits his powers. What he does not know is the man in black was no man at all, and absorbing his powers meant inheriting his entire entity. The Shadow Man was no more, but not dead.

Sensei was banished to the Infinite Abyss for failing his mission. A treacherous place where no living being has ever returned.

Philip uses the darkness he absorbed to inhibit the storm from brewing.

He cuts Fitzsimons off from the possession and frees him. The Storm Harvester is caught in between physical states and is at its weakest. Fitzsimons wakes up and sees the storm hovering right above him.

"Thank you..." he stammers, "Thank you, Philip."


Dr. Fitzsimons looked into Philip Dresden's eyes and all he saw was darkness.

"You killed my wife."

DarkFlood holds his hand up and creates a pulse blast inside of Fitzsimons skull, killing him instantly.

The Storm Harvester above searches for a new host.

In desperation it possesses Faulkner. Philip smiles. His last trap finally sprung. This would be the Storm Harvester's ultimate undoing. Not too long ago, in the Afghan Hindu Kush Philip touched Faulkner's dead heart with that of the Divine Catalyst when it was still in plant form. The affects lay dormant until triggered by this very moment. The contradiction of two opposing forces living in themselves obliterated each other, cancelling them out. But the Divine Catalyst survived through Philip.

Faulkner collapsed into himself and the Storm Harvester was wiped from existence. The ultimate death for a cosmic force. But even fools know that nothing dies forever. DarkFlood knelt down next to Faulkner and Fitzsimons dead bodies. The battle for New York City was finally over. The fallen skyscrapers lay lateral across the sporadic stone spikes still sticking out of the two streets. Times Square was in ruins. It was a nightmarish scene. But the battle for New York was over...

Everything would change once again...

Lazarus carried Dr. Randolph's dead body to the square. After the tide of the battle had swayed, and enough soldiers died, including Faulkner and Fitzsimons... the Alchemist and Ollie retreated into the city. 

Yvonne pounced on Jason hiding backstage. "Coward!" she hissed at him. She had been psyching herself up to make her first kill. After seeing all the death around her, her blood-lust grew past rational control. She zeroed-in on the weakest of them and had now separated him from the rest of the group.

Yvonne was finished hunting her prey. Now was the time...

The beautiful french girl with long dark hair straddled Jason as she choked the life from him. The death of Faulkner was bizarre and wrong. Its fumes sought her out and compelled her away from Jason. The kid runs as she approaches DarkFlood still knelt down by the bodies.

"You did this..."


"You are more powerful than any of them, stranger..." Yvonne circled around him slowly, rubbing his shoulder with her fingertips, "Why not take what is yours and stop letting life pass you by?" She knelt down in front of him, facing him. Yvonne kisses DarkFlood and he enjoys it before pushing her away. Yvonne falls back onto Faulkner's body and the lingering essence of death drains into her. It is a strange sort of feeling, one unlike any death she has come across.

Like a phoenix, the Storm Harvester's ashes gather in Yvonne, to one day resurrect.  

Lazarus drags Randolph's body over to Philip and releases him as Moses and Vlad return. Philip looks down on the doctor. His men stand behind him, all affected by the battle, all stronger than ever. "Many of the prisoners died." Vlad told them, but Philip did not care. "You could have prevented all this from happening...."

"That's not how it works." Philip did not face Vlad to answer him. In fact, he was growing sick of their puny human insolence. And so was Vlad...sick of hearing the same excuse day in and day out without ever an explanation.

"IS THIS HOW IT WORKS!" Vlad held Randolph's head up revealing his vacant face. "Did you know he was going to die when you brought him here to the fight?"

"He was never meant to be more than human."

"You knew and you still did it?" Moses spoke up.

"You don't understand..."

"You're going to lead us all to our deaths, aren't you..." Vlad persisted.

"How long until we die?" Lazarus wanted to see for himself.

DarkFlood looked back at the first three. He knew there would be many of his disciples in the days to come, and like the first three...they would all eventually get to know Philip well enough to realize what he truly was; and therefore his fate was already decided. He would always be alone...

"Everyone dies, you should know that most of all."