The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
Twelve year old Jamie Grey was up and tossing aside his blankets as soon as his alarm clock began blaring. Mashing down the snooze button, his bare feet were on the cool floor and he started snatching up clothing, hardly even taking any notice of what he intended to wear, and instead shrugged it on. In the back of his mind, he imagined his mother scolding him for not taking care of his appearance—and indeed, his shaggy brown hair, unable to decide if it was straight or wanted to curl, was in such a bed-made disarray that, when matched with his pale complexion, he ended up spooking people once in proper light, at times causing him to be mistaken for a homeless child or the returned dead.
Between these two, the latter was honestly the more believable. One of the many ‘miracles’ of an earlier Age.
Giving his hair barely more than a ruffle, he pulled on a pair of sneakers and was out the door.
“Heading to the park, Mom,” he said to a thin woman passing him in the hallway upon exiting his room.“Hm,” she grunted in a tired tone. Adjusting the collar of her business suit she gave him a quick appraisal. “You forgot to comb your hair,” she said. Jamie gave her a quick, lopsided smile. It was a scold, just as he thought, but there was little life in it.
“I’ll do it later,” he replied before furrowing his brow, seeing dark bags under her eyes. “You look tired.”
“The court case isn’t going anywhere fast,” she sighed. As if Jamie’s words had been a reminder, her tired eyes brightened ever so slightly as she remembered the time. “I’ve got to go. Give us a smutz.” Leaning down she gave him a quick, and loud, kiss on the forehead. “Your father is downstairs reading the news. He’s had a bad night so try not to disturb him when you eat breakfast.”
“I’m not hungry anyway,” Jamie shrugged, stepping out of the way for his mother as she quickly moved by him.
“Have fun with your friends,” she called, heading down the stairs. Jamie gave a small wave before quickly following. As he did so, he passed a bedroom door with a picture of a white-furred rabbit, marred by pink and blue crayon scribbles. He touched the knob briefly before descending down the stairs.
The word sung in Jamie’s thoughts as he raced down sidewalks and across the street, his direction taking him down to Clarks Pathway, the route that would ultimately take him Clarksville Park, a place that held a rather special place in Jamie’s heart—if not the world in fact. It was the heart of the city that grew increasingly more wooded as one went deeper within. That alone was important to the young boy, as it became so far removed from stone buildings and adults that it took on an almost magical, wild quality to it that always seemed to change whenever one stepped inside. One never knew what to expect once they were inside—save for the presence of mosquitoes, who seemed to be everywhere—at least to Jamie. One of his friends, a slightly older boy by the name of Justin Page, decried the whole place as one gigantic waste of space full of nothing but a swamp of green. One that, thanks to the insidious buzzing, blood-drinking insects, threatened to eat him alive.
“To each their own,” the voice of the same boy said in Jamie’s mind, causing him to smile. It wasn’t as though they never hung out in the place together regardless of the perils.
Jamie quickly entered the fringes of the park, a wide open field of grass, the ‘shoreline’, such as it were, and one of the many islands of open space that occasionally broke the thick foliage. Passing by a pair of morning joggers he gave them a quick wave before veering off to the left and plunged in the direction of a wall of trees. Disappearing within the small forest, he plowed unmindfully through the brush. He knew the route by heart now, so he had no worry about getting lost.
“Hey!” Jamie called out after a few minutes of battling his way through entangling bushes. “Monster! Are you still out there?”
From off in the distance, he heard a loud ‘woof’. An eager smile spread across his face and he picked up his pace. Breaking into a clearing, he set his eyes first on the statue that stood in the center and then down toward its leg, where a red leash was tied. Following its path, his gaze fell upon a small, dog-like creature. ‘Dog-like’, but not a dog, as the resemblance was born only by its physical similarity, at least as far as its shape went. Most dogs however tended to not have six legs, nor did they have two heads.
They also most certainly did not have midnight-purple fur.
The dog-like creature barked again at Jamie, and smiling the boy made his way over to him and took hold of two of the four floppy ears, giving both heads a good scratching. Groaning pleasurably, the two heads leaned into his hands, seeking to soak in as much of the attention as possible.
“Sorry that I had to leave you out here,” Jamie said, removing his hands and taking hold of the leash so he could untie it. “You understand though, right?”
The two dog-heads tilted to one side, four eyes focused on him. Jamie sighed. He heard that Cerberus’ could understand human language, but in the short time he had known this one—albeit less than twenty-four hours—it showed no sign that it did so at all.
Then again, these guys usually have three heads, and I’ve never heard of one that had purple fur. He furrowed his brow as he slipped the leash off from around the statue’s leg. Cerebrus’ were typically bred to be guard dogs, but their ownership was tightly controlled due to their temperament. This one was…an oddity to say when compared to others of his brethren, but one he was grateful for. He liked oddities.
“Let’s go for a walk,” Jamie said, getting up. “I’ll take you back to my place in a little bit. Dad’ll have gone to work by then, so I’ll be able to get you some food. What do you think about that?”
The two heads barked as one and Jamie made a slightly frustrated face at him. “Yeah, I figured you’d understand that.”
Before they left, Jamie took a moment to eye the statue that had served as the dog’s makeshift shelter. It depicted a man in a kneeling position wearing what appeared to be a stylish costume with a blazing sun-like logo centered on his chest. A cape billowed behind him, one hand grasping the ground while the other hovered in front of the sun symbol, as though in prayer to the gods. Jamie remembered that, once upon a time, just what gods he prayed to.
What was he fighting again? he wondered, trying to remember what he learned in his history class. There were many statues like this one—eight in Clarkesville alone—depicting different ‘Heroes of the world’ and most were in the same position as this one. Here, only one of them stood out in one of the open islands where the public regularly mingled.
Oh yeah, now I remember, Jamie thought, brightening up a little. Smiling again, he gave the statue a snappy salute.
“Thanks for sheltering Monster,” he said to the statue before turning his head back down to the Cerberus. “C’mon. Let’s go.” Giving a sharp click of his tongue, he tugged on the leash so that they could get moving. No sooner did the animal start to do so did brush snap loudly behind him. Startled, Jamie spun around and nearly tripped over his feet. Behind him stood a bearded man wearing a ball cap stumble into the clearing, a bewildered, panicked look on his face. His small eyes sighted on Jamie and he lurched toward him.
“He-help me…” he wheezed. Jamie instinctively took a step toward the man, concern appearing instantly in his mind before common sense could take hold.
“Hey, are you all right?” he asked as the man fell in front of him, already dropping down to help him. Before he could say or do anything else, the man suddenly stood up and grabbed Jamie by the head, pulling him forward. There was a flash of light as a syringe suddenly appeared in the man’s free hand and he stabbed it next to Jamie’s sternum. In the next moment pain exploded in his chest and his mouth contorted into a scream as it worked its way up into his skull. Through the lightning-charged noise crashing in his head, he found that he wasn’t screaming at all. The only thing making any noise at that moment was tiny Cerberus, barking and growling like mad at the man that was attacking the boy.
Somehow, Jamie found himself gripping the man’s wrists, struggling to pull them apart. The air was crackling with electrical energy now, snapping and snaking around the two. Every part of Jamie’s body screamed for release…but the man refused to let go.“Not…just…yet,” the man rasped, tightening his grip on Jamie’s head. In response, Jamie gritted his teeth and tried to pull. He failed. He didn’t know how, but something was preventing him from doing so, just as something was now keeping him from crying out. He gasped as he felt a particularly powerful jolt course its way through his arms and meet in the center of his chest. His heart gave a nasty lurch and for one long moment, he swore that it ceased beating altogether. His hands dropped to his sides, and he hung there limply, his legs somehow supporting him.
There was another loud bark from the Cerberus. He barely heard it in the darkness that was closing in on his senses, but it was there, and it sounded angry. The pressure of the man’s hands on his head loosened, and dimly he heard a loud curse followed by a yelp of pain—a small animal in pain.
“Don’t you dare…!!!” Something snapped inside Jamie just then. His hands grabbed hold of the man’s wrists and he pulled sharply, throwing as much strength as he possibly could into it. This time there was a loud snap and the man’s fingers went dead. He screamed, causing Jamie to jump back quickly, his eyes bewildered as he saw the horrific, bloody angle that the man’s wrists now hung at.
“Wha…” Jamie choked out, trying to make sense of the scene before him. Suddenly the man was no longer screaming, but instead laughed, almost in relief. Jamie barely took note of it though as his eyes remained stuck on the twisted, mangled arms. “Ah… Ah…”
He couldn’t bear to look anymore. His eyes recoiling in terror, they rapidly swung around to locate the Cerberus. The animal was lying on the ground, a scar of singed fur marring his purple coat. He was already getting up though, both sets of fangs barred and growling.
“Monster!” he called, and the dog’s ears perked up. He was on his feet—wobbly but he was moving—and quickly raced over to where Jamie stood. Quickly snatching up his friend, Jamie spun and bolted, leaving the cap-wearing man behind, slumping down to his knees, his arms hanging by his side like dead weights.
“It’s over,” the man wheezed, collapsing forward, the syringe falling to the ground. “It’s done.”
Behind him he heard the sound of a mechanical whining, getting closer with each passing second. He signed in resignation and turned to look over his shoulder. It was a quant curiosity really. He knew what to expect. Which was why he was not surprised when he saw a cloud of black orbs with a single glass eye, glowing red, surging toward him.
Jamie raced down the beaten path, his heart beating a gloriously alive—if frantic—pace within his chest. He threw a look over his shoulder to see if there was any sign of pursuit, but in his haste he found himself tripping over a root before he could get a good look. He smashed into the ground—biting his tongue in the process and drawing some blood—causing the Cerberus to yelp in his arms.
“Ah!” he exclaimed, struggling off the dog. “I’m sorry, Monster! I’m…Monster!!!”
Before his frightened eyes, the puppy took off at a run, dragging his leash behind him. Jamie staggered to his feet, trying to go after him, but all at once his muscles cramped up, causing him to collapse to the ground in a crumpled heap.
“M-Monster…” he groaned, digging his fingers into the dirt and trying to pull himself back up. He had to find the Cerberus. He had to…
A shadow fell over him just then, and looking up, the boy found himself staring at the glowing red eye of a black, metal orb. He recognized it and he felt himself grow cold as he stared into its glaring, lifeless sight.
“Are you all right, citizen?” the black sphere asked in its indifferent, mechanical voice. It didn’t sound in the least like it cared; as though the question were a mere formality that had to be done and over with in order to get on with its job.
Trembling, Jamie opened his mouth to speak, but no words made their way past his lips. Looking up past the orb, he saw a flock of orbs rapidly approaching. A feeling of electricity surged through him and at once the orb shook.
“Alarm!” it shouted. “Heroi Q-Field detected! All units converge on…!”
Gripping the sides of his head, Jamie screamed as power welled up inside him and shot outward. The orb, caught in the wake of the explosion, shattered like glass, sending bits of shrapnel flying in all directions. Jamie fell back under the onslaught, the sharp metal cutting into his arms and face. He lay there for a moment, shaking while peeking past his arms. More orbs were approaching, albeit cautiously, eyes red and focused on him. He staggered to his feet, breathing heavily.
I’ve got to get out of here, he thought. He knew he was panicking, but right now panic seemed to be about as good as anything to do. He felt the buzz of electricity around him again and, without him noticing, he began to lift up from off the ground.
A red dot of light appeared on his shirt and in the next moment Jamie recoiled as a circle of fire burst on his shirt. Jamie fell back to the ground, swatting at the small flame in the hopes of putting it out. Out! Out! O…huh? His chest was cold all of a sudden, and a sparkling sheen of ice appeared materialized beneath his touch. How did that…?
He had no time to complete the thought as the flock of orbs swarmed around him. Red lights lit up all around his body.
The last thought Jamie had before the orbs opened fire was of Monster, and how he wished he could fly.
“Target is secure,” spoke up a female voice on the other end of the phone. The red-headed man holding it nodded. His eyes were expressionless and flat, and when he spoke his tone held all the emotion of stone.
“Very well, Agent Foster,” Director Burton said. “Process him and file a report.”
Hanging up, he turned toward the large view screen hanging on the wall of his office. The screen displayed a figure, their identity shrouded by a series of pixels.
“Adam Bishop is being brought in,” he told the figure. “It seems however that he accomplished his goal.”
“Hnnn…” the figure replied. Their voice was deep and distorted. “Most unfortunate. He moved too quickly. I’m afraid that we can’t keep this incident a secret. It is likely you will be recalled once word reaches the top brass.”
“Likely,” Burton agreed with a nod of his head.
“This is a high cost operation. To think that Adam Bishop would do this…”
“I’ll handle the cleanup.” Burton adjusted his tie, and for a moment his eyes suggested tension. “Should be the least I can do, seeing as how the First has been activated prematurely. Don’t worry about it.”
“I won’t,” the figure replied. “But you should, Director Burton. This is your jurisdiction after all. The First was under your watch as was Bishop.” The figure leaned back. “Don’t screw things up any further than they already are. The First is at a critical stage now, and he can’t be terminated yet.” The figure paused before continuing, “Provided that he does not do so on his own. Becoming a heroi is a messy process after all. More so with the lack of maturation that was supposed to occur…”
“I’ll see to my end,” Burton said. “You just see to yours.”
“That is all either of us can do,” the figure nodded. “All right. I’ll leave you to do just that. Good luck.”
The country will most certainly need it, Burton thought as the figure ended the telecom.