Tween and Shade
by Andrew Wilson and Brad Patten

The timing hadn't been quite there, he was still suspicious, almost as if he knew that something was going down. He remained calm and maintained eye contact: as if searching for some kind of clue as to what was giving him the uneasy feeling. He was going to jump, the time isn't yet.

"Hey, I see you have a need for some serious firepower here, but it doesn't come cheap," he begins to say as he moves the handguns to the rear of the trunk, revealing a larger case beneath.

I was beginning to think that my own suspicions were incorrect as I spied the larger case. I was hoping that this was what I had been searching for a couple of weeks. "I have the funds to make the deal happen," I reply, nodding at the larger case.

"Then you don't mind showing me what you have first," he laughs, as he slams the lid to the trunk down, crushing my own hopes with it.

I had made the classic mistake. I had showed my hand to early and he had taken advantage. "Ok, I will show you fifty percent now and fifty percent when you deliver," I reply, trying to regain control of the conversation.

His smug smile is all of the reply I need to know his immediate response. "I don't think so. We play this game by my rules. You show me all of it and then we talk about a delivery." He headed for the driver side of his obviously used car.

"How do I know you will deliver and not just take the money and run? Why don't I just go and talk with Miguel? I am sure he would go fifty-fifty." Can't play it too easy or I seem too anxious.

He pauses. It's enough of a signal to let me know that he is interested. "We will talk. You get seventy percent and find me again." He hopes in the car and quickly starts it up. The sound of the engine revving blows away any thoughts of the engine being anything but a high-performance machine.

I watch John Kettle leave, aka, "Johnny Can", one of Hells kitchen's most notorious gun smugglers. He has ties with almost every criminal organization in New York. It is those ties and is ability to deliver that keeps him safe from some crack head pulling the trigger and taking his stash. Everyone knows that if you mess with Johnny you can expect to have a visit from a variety of people, most of them not very cordial.

I would have to round of a fair sum of my confiscated drug money to get the delivery, but at least I would be one step further along in my investigation of whoever was handing out the "rippers" to these street punks. I haven't actually seen a "ripper" yet, but I have a good feeling on what it looked like. It was of a larger caliber, somewhere in the vicinity of a .44, with an ability for semi-automatic fire. It must have a larger barrel on the gun due to the fact that it was fairly accurate at an extended distance, far surpassing the range of a handgun. The load must be tremendous because of the sound the thing makes when it fires, it makes a .44 sound like a fart in comparison. The bullet must be composed of depleted uranium, because it rips through armor like it wasn't there. The damage it causes is comparable to what a .50 caliber would do, but what makes the "ripper" so scary is that it is portable and easily concealable.

What alerted me to the "ripper" was a rash of recent bank robberies, not that bank robberies are all that uncommon, but what caught my attention was the body count of armed officers, who were wearing their body armor and hiding behind vehicles and this thing still killed them as easily as if they had been hiding behind rice paper. The bank cameras had captured an image of some younger gangs, most who probably wouldn't of considered robbing a bank in the dark, let along in the middle of the day. They had found a serious case of confidence and it needed to be stopped quickly.

I hadn't wasted any time in posing as an investigator and scoring a copy of each of the banks that had been targeted. It wasn't too difficult to track down a general group that had committed the crime, even the cops knew who had committed the crime. They hadn't bothered to hide or disguise their appearances. They had committed the rash of bank robberies in days and had been picked up not long after the last one. Problem was: they didn't have the weapons on them when they were picked up. I decided that it was time to pay one of them a visit. I need to find out who was supplying them.

"Good morning, Mr. Johnson. I didn't expect someone from the D.A.'s office this early. What can we do for ya?"

"Here is a release for Rin Staples. He must of known someone because we have to let him walk," I steamed as I handed the clerk an order for Rin's realize.

"The Hell! That bastard has killed some of our own. I will be damned if I let him go. Come on Bill, you guys have to be able to do something. You aren't just going to let them walk away to kill again are you?" His face blazed with anger.

I put my hand on his shoulder. "You know me. I will make sure that we get them all sooner or later. This is only one. We still have the other seven and they AREN'T going anywhere," easing into a smile, "besides, maybe this one can point us to where the others are hiding."

Relaxing a bit Reed pauses for a moment before answering. "I know...I know...I just hard for me to let it go. I could be any of us out there. These damned punks don't even think. They just pull the trigger and let the cards fall where they may. Damn the system!" Handing me a pass, he motions for the door. " He is in holding cell 10."

"I understand how you feel...more than you know. I PROMISE you Rinn will get his. Justice will be served." I move through the door, quickening my pace as I feel my blood begin to boil. I will be looking forward to this...

Fear was beginning to show in his eyes. "This isn't the way to the court house. Where are you taking me. Get me the hell out of these fucking handcuffs! Wait till my lawyer gets ahold of this, you piece of shit!" he screamed as he kicked the back of my seat.

I replied with a smile. He was ripening already. Maybe he would tell me something before I had to get down to business. I never did relish torture, but the end result here is all that mattered. He would tell me what he knew, sometimes the end does justify the means. As I turned down the abandoned alley that led to my hideout he peered into the rear view mirror and saw a skull with green eyes staring back at him. His scream wouldn't be heard...

Rinn had actually surprised me. He had held up to the lights and the minor abuse quite well, barely giving me a thing to follow up on, but the first bamboo shoot under his fingernail gave me what I had been hoping for: a name...The Robe. Rinn, then got what was due him; a chance to stand among those he had killed and be judged by them. I pray that their legal system works better than ours, if not maybe that is where the term "Avenging angel" came from...

What I had salvaged up on The Robe seems to lead to a lot of dead ends. He wasn't like a typically smuggler. He seemed to deal with anyone who wanted a piece of the action. He was passing these hand-cannons out for well below expected cost. It was as if he was trying to supply the unorganized with the weapons. Most of the owners of the "rippers" hadn't been involved or attached to any major crime organization. That wasn't to say that organized crime hadn't gotten their paws on a couple of these weapons; rumor on the street had it that the Organized wanted a modified version; an automatic version. Organized members had begun appearing with the guns, but at a much slower pace than others; that gave me an indication that the supplier wasn't attached to them. They were being cautious. Organized wasn't as chaotic as the commons street thugs either. They had begun to make hits on each other. Why not? A brick wall wouldn't stop an assassin now. It had almost begun to break into an no-holds-barred competition between major crime fractions. The Robe was obviously weakening the other syndicates in hopes of moving in, though I haven't heard of any other group trying to make a move...

I decided to "beat the bushes" a bit to see what I could flush out. I would rattle a few cages and see who went into hiding. This would give me a better clue as to who had better connections with The Robe and who I would be better of dealing with to track him down.

My first choice had been obvious. I had come across a name that I remembered had been a major drug dealer in a narcotic known as "Dream Candy". He had built himself a small gang of loyal drug addicts by selling his own concoction of a high grade form of crack. He was beginning to be a blip on the radar of some of the major syndicates in town and as of lately he had been to eager to push those boundaries. His name fit him well. Loco Billy O'Dell a.k.a. Crazy Bill. He typically worked in the seedier parts of town and dressed himself up as a bum along with his entourage to blend in.

I had scouted him out while dressed as a local vagabond and had even made a purchase of some of his "Dream Candy." It had given me what I needed. He had a squad of nearly a dozen well armed guards. He had posted snipers on the buildings across from the abandoned parking lot where he dealt. He might even have a heavy gun emplacement where the hut of cardboard box houses where staged. He had hinted that he was involved in a new business, if I was interested, but I decided not to push the issue in the disguise as a bum.

I wandered around the next couple of days and found where the guards where posted in the two buildings across the street. He had two in the entrance way and two on the stairs leading to the roof on each building. The communicated by radio every 15 minutes. That wouldn't allow me much time to take them all out without attracting undue attention. Luckily for me, one building was vacant and the other had a perfect view of the vacant one's roof. It is a beautiful thing that lowlifes don't attract much attention...

I entered the main lobby of low rent housing complex. I knew I would have to reach the roof in under ten minutes to avoid alerting Crazy Bill to my presence. The first two guards had a look of total shock on their faces when I strolled in through the doors. I had already highlighted both foreheads with bright red dots by the time they started moving their own guns up to fire. I felt the recoil pound my hands three times each as I saw the bullets enter the skulls with ease. I was a bit startled when the bullets impacted the wall behind with a loud sound as if someone had kicked in a door; the silencers had done their job, but I hadn't quite expected the force of my own hand-cannons in making the noise. I was running up the stairs as the bodies of the two guards slowly slumped to the ground, a pool of blood forming beneath each body.

Two minutes have gone by and I am almost to the top of the 5th floor. One floor to go and in mid stride I hit the button on my watch that will turn the vacant building into a regular roach motel. The small charges that I set on the doors will make sure no one leaves before getting a full dose of nerve gas; that effectively takes care of the majority of building two.

The sound that I make while moving is almost non-existent. I have learned to control my breathing and the amount of force that I apply to the ground making my movements stealthy. As I round the corner of the next stairway. I draw my weapons fully expecting to see two armed guards not fully at the ready. Instead I see empty stairwell. I would of expected to at least see them there with guns ready to go, but NOTHING? I hear movement off to the side of me. I turn too slowly to stop the blow that sends me head over heels over the staircase.

I roll with the force of the blow and manage to grab the railing as I tumble over, dropping my weapons in the process. I barely catch a glimpse of the large Mack-truck that slammed me as I use to momentum of my fall to swing my legs back up around me and kick him full in the chest. He stumbles back a couple of feet while letting out a slight gasp of air, and then he charges again aiming a kick at my now venerable head. I twist my head to the right sharply and crouch and deliver a blow of my own to his groin. The blow is cushioned by a form of body armor and he doesn't seem too phased by it.

He immediately counters with a vicious two-handed chop aimed at the back of my neck, the blow misses it's mark but lands on my back knocking the wind out of me. This juggernaut can pack a punch! Thank heaven for my body armor. I shove my right arm up under his crotch and begin to perform a throw that would send him flying over the middle of the staircase for a quick ride to the bottom floor, but I notice a figure coming through the door I hadn't noticed on my preliminary walk-through. Guard two is surprised to see his partner flying at him as he enters through the doorway buttoning up his pants.

The combination of the weight of the Mack-truck along with my awkward repositioning for the throw makes him land just in front of guard two, luckily momentum carries Mack-truck far enough to knock guard two off balance. I leap...

The jump carries me far enough to place my boot firmly in the face of guard two. He reels back slamming into the door behind him, his crushed nose bleeding profusely. I land just within reach of the Mack-truck and he grabs my legs and with a surprising speed pull himself on top of my back.

His strength is making it difficult for me to throw him off. I managed to get the back of my head bashed a couple of times when I feel him tug my arms back behind me lifting me up. I see guard two looking for a little payback by using my head as a soccer ball. I surge forward straining with both arms as the kick is within inches from connecting. My timing is perfect has I pull the Mack truck over my back and a feel the pull as the impact from the kick jerks his head back. I continue with my momentum and go into a somersault with the Mack-truck as my cover.

The roll catches the second guards leg and he falls backward into the wall, as the back of his head hits the wall I follow it up with several boots to his face with my own size 9. I flail elbows into the sides of the head that is beneath me. I continue with the barrage of kick and elbows until I see both guards unmoving. I rise quickly and head for the roof entrance the floor above. I have wasted several minutes fighting hand to hand and will have to make my next fight a smooth kill if it's all going to work out nicely.

Opening the door to the roof I peer out into the darkness and quickly my scan picks up the heat signature of the body crouching near the far wall. His direction isn't facing me...he isn't expecting company.

I pull my pistol out of my boot pocket and begin attaching the silencer as I go around the far side to the right of my target. As I ease the door shut he creaks and he starts to turn. I blend myself into the shadows and wait. He stares for a moments and slowly turns back around. I make my way slowly towards him. By the time that he turns around again. I have the nozzle of my gun resting against his forehead. He stares up in horror as I pull the trigger and feel the splatter of gore across my mask.

I crouch pulling his body flat as I scan the roof below me of building number two. It isn't long before I see the other sniper. He is holed up between some old vent ducts and is would be extremely hard to spot without my aided vision. I pull up the weapon that is resting by the corpse. I steady it on the wall in front of me and look down further to see Crazy Bill and his entourage in a tightly packed alley below.

I will need to make a couple of modifications to this sniper rifle first if I am going to be able to take down as many people as I need to once the first shot is fired. With as little noise as possible I manage to make it full auto without losing any of the range advantages. I can now feed the ammo through almost like a M-60 and lay down a fair amount of lead to cover the targets I have in mind. Taking aim at the sniper across the roof I prepare to unleash hell. My finger gives a slight pull on the trigger and I hear the first burst ring out, and the figure from building two drops. I swing the barrel across and down and pull the trigger again catching Wild Bill totally unprepared; he drops along with two of his entourage close to him. I begin spraying the others in his entourage that are huddled in the cardboard box houses. After a full minute of continuous fire I have turned the empty parking lot into a mass grave. Bodies lie in slumped forms where they fell. I wait for a moment to make sure there aren't any survivors before attaching a line to rappel down from. I don't want to have any survivors this time around. I want word to get around that Shade is on the hunt.

I am almost at a full run when I touch the ground. I detach the line and move towards the bodies. Timing is crucial; I can hear the police responding to the gunshots over the scanner I don't have much time to make sure everyone is dead. As I approach I fail to notice the movement of Crazy Bill and only manage to feel the impact of the blow....


A lot has happened; a power-crazed teenager abducted me. I have been thrown across the known universe, to a planet orbiting a binary star. Found a sword and been attacked by creatures. And to top it all off, almost been shot at by some want to be vigilante. I am going to contact Wedge tomorrow afternoon; hopefully he is still around, I don't know anymore.

After I left that woman's apartment with that skull-faced vigilante, I wandered aimlessly for another day. It was only a few hours ago, that I realized that I was again getting close to Prometheus. For some reason I was being drawn back to Mindshadow's lair. The call was very strong and it took every effort to turn away. I was going to tell a cop in the park about Mindshadow. But as soon as I thought about it I became violently ill. He walked on by.

The sword I had found was hidden. The leather jacked I had taken from the thug from the previous evening hid it. Not hidden well, but hidden from a casual glance. Its time I get out of the city, but it's late and I need to get some rest. I check into a dive of a hotel, the place stinks. I just need a place to rest, just for a short time. I had just closed my eyes when I heard several gunshots from the parking lot across the street. I looked out the window and saw several men engaged in a firefight with a familiar figure. A black-cloaked individual wearing a skull mask with glowing green eyes. It didn't look good. It appeared that the Green eyed skull was holding his own. One of the men opened fire at the same time as the green-eyed skull. From the window I could see blood on the pavement the skull faced man looked hurt, the other guy with the gun for an arm however looked only stunned and he started to get up. His first shot missed completely, but from the damage it did to the wall and car behind him, the guy with the gun for an arm was using some kind of heavy slug.

I acted, even though this wasn't my fight. I acted because I had to.


The last thing I remember is that Johnny Can had managed to get a hold of the "Ripper" before I could take him down. I had been trailing him in attempt to find his boss, someone only known on the street as 'the robe'. I had nailed him several times and had made the mistake of assuming he was down for the count...he wasn't. He fired a shot and the force of the blow had sent me flying, my body armor had absorbed a majority of the damage, but the way the blood was flowing from the wound told me I was far form unscathed. I felt myself getting dizzy. I wasn't going out like this. I slowed my breathing, bringing up my MP-5 and started to take aim. He must of been wounded too because he had fired another shot from his hand-cannon, but he was shaking so badly that his shot flew by miles from me. I was about to pull the trigger when I black shape appeared in front of my crosshairs. I heard another load explosion from the "Ripper" and saw the figure in front of me take the shot. I started to stumble for the Battle Van, but was losing blood fast. The auto-doc on board would help if I could make it. I wasn't sure if the figure was after me or not or if he was taking on the Ripper by himself, the honest truth was I didn't care. Almost there...

Pain, I feel myself coming back to consciousness. I hurt to damn much to be dead. I am lying on something and I hear the familiar tones of a monitor. I am in a hospital and the cops are waiting to take me wait, as I crack my eyes open the green tint reminds me that my mask is still on. I am staring at the roof at my battle van. I must of made it. I am not sure how, but I must of crawled in and got the auto-doc working. I start to relax a bit when I hear someone breathing. I glance up to see a pair of green eyes staring back at me. I recognize it as the figure I have encountered twice now.

I stare into the green eyes...they stare back. The silence is thick. He has dismantled my gun and though he doesn't seem threatening. His alien form shows no emotion, just the quiet, as if waiting for something. "Ok, you seem to have me at a bit of a disadvantage at the moment. What do you want?" I mutter, as I scan the battle-van for any options that might present themselves.

"Want? Nothing at the moment, I have been using your computer, looking for a friend of mine. I hope you don't mind but I also borrowed your wheels to get me closer to home. You took a pretty bad hit, looks like that guy was using some kind of depleted uranium slugs."

At his mention of uranium, something clicked, I remembered reading about some scaled alien or meta who stole uranium from a Powerdyne convoy several months back. There was some other more recent information, but it was classified. "The files on you are pretty tight, why did you steal uranium?"

"What!?, Who are you?" the meta facing me said, his voice had taken on menacing tone. I also noticed that he had picked up a sword, it wasn't one of mine.

He was just trying to intimidate me, I wasn't going to fall for his ploy. He obviously wanted something from me. "Who I am isn't the issue, what do you want? And how did you get into my van?"

He lowered the sword, and set it on the bench. The computer behind him had a schematic displayed it was labeled Prometheus. I sat up, and sent a wave of pain through my chest. I pushed off the blankets and turned to get up, as I did so, I slide my hand under the pillow. The .357 from his last tour in the seals before he quit, was still there.

"Nice picture, who are they your family?" he was referring to the background on the screen, it was taken while I was on leave, a few months before I reach and turn the damned computer off.

"I don't know you and you don't know me, let's keep it that way. As far as Powers is concerned. I am damn sure he cares where his uranium went. I am sure he isn't in the business of giving it away and I am positive that he doesn't want thieves taking it," I blaze, trying not to show my anger of having someone know anything about me. "I think trouble seems to follow you. So you are either someone that goes where they aren't wanted or YOU are the one CAUSING the trouble; Which is it?" Again the silence...though I see a slack in his shoulders as his head drops. "Are you some kid that managed to come across some alien technology and thinks this is all a game? Go home kid. You will get yourself killed. You managed to eliminate one gun out of hundreds being produced. Knowing you, Johnny is back on the streets and I will have to go through this whole scenario again. You are getting in water way over your head. GO HOME!" I am yelling to provoke him. I want to turn the tables and see what makes him tick. I am not sure if the portrayal of innocence is real or an act. If it is real he needs a wake up call. He thinks that he is untouchable with his armor, but I know that there are those out there that could kill him. Maximillian Powers is just the sort that has the influence to do that. I let the silence enter. I lean forward and flip the switch by his head. It begins the silent countdown. "You have just under a minute to answer or you and this entire block turns into an uninhabitable wasteland." I sit back. Again, there is a long pause. He is debating; can my armor with stand a blast? Can I disable the device in under a minute? Where do I start? I wait and let the pressure build...

"Are you crazy? We are in a mall parking lot. Johnny? You mean the guy with the gatling gun, I don't think he will be in any condition to do anything. I lost my temper when he shot at me. I think he will be in a body cast for a long time. Now turn that device off or I will. As far as Powers is concerned, he's just a CEO with a bad haircut and some power. After what I have been through this past week he's a rank amateur.", He pauses for a moment, "What is it with you government types, first Old Glory, now you. What makes you think I am a kid?"

I relax a bit. He is an amateur; a wannabe superhero who is in over his head and he wonders why people think he is a kid. "Am I crazy? None of your business. As for Johnny, well now you are involved and will probably have enemies after you that you don't want after you, a body cast won't stop him and believe me there are things that could pierce your little shell." I pause letting what I said sink in. "This past week? Your girlfriend break up with you?" He knows Old Glory, I will take note of that and research that one later. "As for why everyone thinks you are a kid; you act like one. You lost your temper over someone shooting you? You follow me around being a boy scout? You break into my van oblivious to the damage you could of caused not only to yourself but those in the near area? You underestimate someone like Maximillian Powers and are clueless to the forces he could array against you. Why wouldn't he care about what happened to his uranium? How were you involved with Old Glory?" I pause once again. I feel like I am reprimanding one of my own kids...were they still around. Again, I feel a pull of guilt and frustration as I look at the innocence before me that might die before he realizes he has played with fire. Half of me wants to help the other half wants to slap him silly. "And finally...what is Prometheus? The clock is ticking." He doesn't think I would blow this place sky-high. I could of and would of had I thought he was going to try something. It wouldn't of been by activating a switch, that is more for the effect; one word is all that is needed to detonate enough explosives to make New York think that it had just been bombed. Yes, people matter, but I am not letting some Meta take me down with out me taking him with me.

"After this past month your threats don't mean a whole lot to me. In the past month I have been blown up, shot at, abducted by a power crazed red headed teenager. I have been thrown across the known universe, to a planet orbiting a binary star. Been attacked by creatures that I can't see as well dead things. So if you still want to blow yourself up, then by all means. However if you want to learn anything, this is not the way to get it from me." He said glaring at me.

"Who the hell said I wanted to learn about anything? You are the one who invited yourself in here. You were the one following me around. If you have something to say then get it the hell out if not by all means leave," my voice rising, "I don't have time to play your games. I could really give a rats ass about the follies that you have brought upon yourself."

"Fine then, next time you can bleed to death. If I hadn't intervened in your little gun battle, that guy would have finished you off. The only reason I stuck around was to make sure you were going to live. As far as following you, your either delusional or suffering from a concussion." He turned toward the door keeping an eye on me. "I don't like people killing others, and you're the second psychotic in as many days. You may think you have some justification for the murders from the other night. I don't care what your justifications are or were. I am not here to make judgments, only to do what I feel is right. Maybe you have some sort of death wish, to go out in a blaze of glory." He tucked the sword inside a leather jacket out of view, and started to open the side door of the van.

"I don't feel like explaining myself to you; maybe another day. And are quite the enigma yourself care to explain why? And..." glancing down at my bandaged wound, and feeling a bit like a little kid, "thanks..." it's about all I can muster out of me at the moment. I slowly extend me hand, not sure fully if I can trust this question mark standing before me, but still realizing that he did save my hide back there. "By the way, you never did answer my question. What or who is Prometheus? Why did you show it to me?"

He paused at the door, as if torn between leaving and explaining, Then the unexpected happens. The guy turns around, and what looked like a black oil slick disappeared from his body. A man with dark hair and average looks stares back at me, not some kid as I thought. "Prometheus is a new company that's set up in your city," he says, "There are things more dangerous than your gun toting manic. I wasn't showing it to you, you happened to wake up while I was examining what I could remember. I'm not trying to obfuscate the details, but the less you know, the safer you will be. I know, that's not a good answer. As for Powerdyne and who I am, is it really that important? " Again he turns to leave.

"Why are you showing me this? You don't know me from the next guy. You are taking a huge risk. Why?" I am boggled by his obvious lack of concern over his identity. He risks a lot in showing me I am still unsure why he would risk it. "As for the worse things out there...things like you...that happen to be on the wrong side. Yes, that is why I can't risk as much as you. I make a difference in other ways," I taper off a bit relaxing, "Importance all depends on the situation. Do you have a family? To what lengths would you go to keep them safe?" I can feel the hurt bubbling up inside of me as the memories flood back.

"No, not like me. Yes I do have a family, and that's one of the reasons I am showing you who I am. Even with all I know, and all I am capable of. I am still not able to keep them safe, at least not alone. I took a look around, your van and on your computer, you're a bit more that you seem. " He turned and touched the computer. "I left a file on you computer, maybe it will help you understand some of what I am talking about. It's under the folder Tween, delete it or review it."

"Who or what is after your family? I might be able to assist it a debt owed," patting my bandages. "I had one and there is nothing more precious," I begin to feel the sheer hate I have for those that would harm or ruin that special life, it replaces the hurt and fires my conviction of eliminating the threat, "I will help you." I begin booting up the computer, motioning to the chair inside the van. "As for who I might be, as I am sure you have seen on my computer, I am not that same person. disguises or not." I remove my mask knowing it doesn't really make a difference at this point.

"It's very hard for me to answer questions, about Prometheus," he says as he sits in the chair. He seems to wobble a bit, but takes several deep breaths. "It's not just about me or you or my family, it's bigger. I put the information on your computer, as well as downloaded some of it from a place I store things on the internet." He watches silent as I review the files, and appears very uncomfortable.

"This is what nightmares are made of. I am not sure I would be of much use, though I might be able to alert the right people to the menace she is." My curiosity about the nano technology is definitely sparked, "so this nano-technology is what you use?" then I return to the situation at hand. His comfort level hasn't seemed to ease any, "the Draughtsmen might be curious about her whereabouts. Tell me what you know about her and what she has done to you."

"A Nightmare I have lived through, but not without complications. I want to tell you, I really do, but I can't." He is breathing erratically almost gasping for breath. "Yes, nano-tech I made several designs, and I have had a chance in the past couple of days to think about some things. My AI is out there somewhere, and I don't know what has happened to it. The best place to start looking is at home.", He says breathing a bit easier now. "For all I know, I am a ticking time bomb, but what choice do I have?"

The ticking time bomb part has me a bit concerned. "One thing at a time. First, where is home and let's go there," I say moving over to get behind the steering wheel to the van. "I am not sure how or in what way she could have effected your mind. Maybe, it's best for a bit if you didn't allow yourself access to the technology. I might not be able to stop you if something happened."

"I already have access to the technology, or most of it, it's in my blood. That's not what concerns me however, she...she...." he looks again like he's struggling to talk, his mouth opens and closed a few times. He then collapses onto the floor of the van, his eyes are rolled into the back of his head. It looks like he's having some kind of seizure. He gasps a few times, and then his breathing returns to normal. "I'm sorry, I just can't talk about certain things. I think I can control myself."

I get into the van's driver's seat, he shifts himself to the passengers seat. "I did some checking online, if you don't mind I would like to talk with my wife for a bit. By the way the name is Carl Terrance, but my friends call me Tween."

As we pulled up to the house the memories flooded back and I caught myself asking the question why, why is Carl subjecting his family to such dangers? Why would he leave his normal life to pursue the hell he is living now? My mouth leads before my mind catches it. "Tween, why would you do this to yourself? Why the nano-technology? Why put your family at risk? People like Maximillian Powers would love to use your family to control you let alone those that can control you directly such as Mindshadow, who I am sure would use the family as a backup. Is what you are doing worth it? I will do what I can but I am not sure it will be enough." Once again, I extend my hand. "Jake...Jake is my name and to tell you the truth I would trade in my costume in a second if I though I could have what you have and risk by what you are doing."

"I would appreciate the help, and you keeping any eye on my family. I don't know if that's enough though. I think I am going to have to trust you, not that I have much of a choice. As to why I did this, I really didn't plan it this way, My AI decided that I was taking to long, and infused me with the nanotech to fix a medical problem."

"If you want me to watch your family then we do this my way. The less knowledge you have of the whole situation the better. The less you know about me the better. I won't tell you if or when I do something and there won't be any contact, until I know things are safe," I sound a bit rough, but I am a little paranoid about having a psychic as powerful as this one as an enemy and I can't afford to be tracked. Luckily, I keep to myself the majority of the time and Tween's knowledge of me is limited.

"I want you to get them out of here, as well as make sure that, that Mindshadow can't hurt them. I know only one way to make sure of that. One thing at a time however. I don't think she will do anything to them, she knows what I am capable of.

Carl gets out of the van, "Jake, the world isn't black and white. You mumbled in your sleep. I won't ask about you or your family, I think I know a bit from the news clippings. To tell the truth, if anything happened to Tammy, Andrew or Becky. There is a long silent pause. I don't want to think about it. Take care Jake." He closes the door.

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