Warning: Graphic Content may be ahead. Viewer discretion is advised.
Immediately after last issue...
The whole tent has become completely silent besides the computer with the live broadcast. I'm just barely able to hold back my rage. "Looks like you were right, Rive..." My hatred seething through every word I spit out, "....we won't have to hide for long." My fury starts to overtake me, all the objects in the room start shaking. Blaze is staring blankly at the broadcast in shock. "Unite our forces back together. Centralize everyone here. Mobilize squads of those willing to attack, leaving the rest here to protect those with passive abilities. We can't let this go without repercussions. We will make a statement in kind. Show them that this...this kind of cruelty... Will never go unpunished." I growl. Blaze grins at me in agreement. "Now go." I order all of them, then continue, "...and send over the Shaman."
Blaze looks confused. "Are you hurt?" He asks.
I shoot him an annoyed stare. "Just do it." He nods and then leaves the tent. Rive lingers for a second, he wants to say something, probably try to talk me out of it. "Go." I snarl.
Immediately after they all walk out I bellow out a distressed scream and plunge my fist into the ground, punching it again, and again, and again, and again. Releasing all my rage into it. I hear and feel my knuckles break. I look down at them, panting like a dog. Out of nowhere I huge pain shoots through my chest. Then it feels like my head is going to explode. "Run, Alex. Run." That deathly voice from the warehouse hisses like a snake. I run out of the tent, knocking the Shaman over that I knew would be needed for my knuckles, and keep running out into the thick of the forest. After I pause for just a second the pain shoots through me again, it brings me to my knees, and I shout in agony. "Hahahahahaha." The voice laughs. A dark, formless smoke leaks out of my torso and begins to take shape. Instead of transforming completely into anything human-like it stops at a sort of halfway point, partly taking the shape of a human while still remaining partly a cloud of dark inky smoke. I stare at it in complete shock. It grins and looks at it's hand for a moment, as if it was simply feeling its own power surge through it.
Then he looks at me. "Hello, Alex." It mutters in a dark, unforgiving voice.
"Wh-wha-what are you!? Who are you!?" I question fearfully.
"We can discuss that later, Alex. Right now, more important issues are at hand." The shadow responds. Still in disbelief, I don't respond. He notices that, and continues, "As soon as you get back into the camp, Rive will be right at your heels to tell you not to go. The CBTF Director claimed responsibility for dismantling Beneforce's organization. Rive will use that. Say there's no one to react to except members of Beneforce." He pauses to make sure I'm following, and to check if I know where he's going with it. "But we both know that can't stop us from avenging our fallen brothers and sisters. No matter what he says, you have to hold your ground on this."
"Bu-" I go to respond.
"Don't give me any of that 'I just met you,' 'how could I betray my best friend,' or 'can't trust you' gibberish. You and I both know that something has to be done, to be said, to stop lunatics like Beneforce from massacring carriers. The politicians and the police will make their statements on the discovery in words, while we... We will make our statement in blood." It suddenly realizes it began to rant a bit, so it turns back to look at me, grinning evilly. "Deep down, Alex.... No matter how much you don't trust me yet... You know it has to be done." He's right. I don't trust him at all. I don't even know him. But something has to be done to make them listen, and to even get them to hear us our measures simply have to be drastic. I nod in agreement, regaining a bit of my confidence, and turn to walk back to the camp.
"Don't think you're free to go, by the way. You're going to tell me everything about you once this is over. Who or what you are, what you want, and how you got here." I spit out.
"Oh, don't worry about me. I'll be right by your side the whole journey, Alex. The whole journey." He comments maliciously with a wicked smirk. I scoff. Hopefully it'll become a full solid person, or something close to it, soon enough so I can see just what secret agendas it has in that dark mind. On the other hand, the more I think about the Beneforce atrocity, the more I realize the fact that if it was CBTF who took that operation down it wouldn't make any sense to attack them, but it would make even less sense to just attack a bunch of civilians in response. But we have to make a statement somehow. After a few minutes in silent thought I make my way into the clearing of the camp, every now and then I glance back to make sure the Shadow isn't trying anything stupid.
As I march towards the command tent I get a few wide eyed glances, most likely due to the Shadow, then I run into the Shaman. She's a strange, crippled old woman. Disfigured from the Impact, and can only walk with a stick she uses as a makeshift cane. We call her the Shaman because he abilities she gained from TGI make her basically fit the definition of a shaman. She has the ability of a sort of dream prophesying, and has healing abilities, which is apparently a rare gift as she's the only one I've seen to have it. Her black eyes stare right into me, and I halt to a stop. She looks me over with her beady dark eyes, then it seems like she looks right through me to the Shadow behind me. She shakes her head as if disappointed or saddened, and then takes my hands into hers. After a moment or two I feel my bones moving back into place, and after another moment my knuckles are healed. She stares at me awkwardly a few more seconds before she turns around and wobbles away with her cane back to her tent. I turn back to the Shadow and tell him as we walk into the command tent, "Come on." When I enter the tent Rive is waiting.
"Blaze is preparing your troops." He remarks. "....are you sure you wanna go through with this, Alex?"
I nod. "We have to." His head lowers in disappointment.
"Alex, you do know the guys that took down that Beneforce operation were that Wind Duster guy and the Director of the CBTF, don't you?" He asks, still trying to change my mind.
"I know. That's exactly why we have to be extremely careful in how we respond. Attacking the CBTF after taking down something like that would look awful, would work against us. Killing civilians would do the same. I think we should go to the slums, hit a block mostly empty, minimizing the number of causalities while still being more than enough to grab the public eye. Anyone caught in our path will fall, but it'll just be a bunch of nobody criminals." I respond. Rive seems pleased with the news, or at least more pleased by this plan rather than a mass slaughter.
He nods. "Fair enough." He pauses. "Now when are we going to talk about where you've been the past few months?" He asks.
"Not now. We need to focus on what's most important right now. After the statement is finished we can talk about it." I mutter back. All of the sudden when I turn to walk over to the table I realize I've forgotten about the Shadow, who's been standing/hovering/whatever the hell he does there the whole time.
"Oh, Rive. I almost forgot." I turn back towards Rive. "This shadowy creature, person thing is a new recruit I picked up out in the woods. It says it wants to help us make our statement. We'll let it, but I want you to keep an eye on it in case it tries anything."
Rive stares at me confused. He glances around the room for a second, then heads over to the tent entry and closes the flaps. When he turns around it looks like he's trying to choose what he's about to say carefully. He seems scared. "Are you okay, Alex?"
I'm totally taken back by what he asked. "What?"
"You're eyes. Soon as you turned back around they looked dead. Glossy and faded." He pauses. "....and there is no shadowy figure in here."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Yeah, I'm mad. He basically just called me crazy. "He's right th-" as I turn to point to the Shadow I see he's gone. "....sh*t..."