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It was supposed to be a relaxing normal day. Leave the
babies with their friend Yoiko, go eat lunch and catch a movie in Galaxy
City, and maybe find some alone
time before Aiko had to pick up the kids, and Namoru Hayataki had to go save
the world from the Praetorian menace.

Namoru forgot Murphy makes sure his life is never normal.

It made sure that the only time Nam
and Aiko’s schedules allowed this just happened to be the same time several
Shivan filled meteors dropped on Galaxy
City, causing one of the worst
disasters to Paragon City
since the Rikti War.

*     *    

Namoru pushed the remains of a restaurant wall off of him
with a ki-enforced shove. One arm hung limply at his side. Broken, his subconscious thought, or badly dislocated. His conscious mind had more pressing concerns.


He hadn’t seen her since the impact blew the front of the
restaurant into the rear of it. He had thrown up a barrier in a hurry, and it
managed to block the worst of it before blowing them apart, and bringing the
walls down..


Namoru coughed as smoke and dust got sucked into his lungs.
He was filthy, covered head to toe in soot and ash, his shirt ripped half off.


He took a few steps, and managed to get out of the dust
cloud. One look and he wished he hadn’t.

It was total devastation. Everywhere he could see, buildings
were smashed – buildings he knew were occupied by civilians a few minutes ago.  Only once had he seen anything approaching
this horror, and that was when his home town of Neo
City had been fired upon by the
orbital beam cannon of a Nekonian space battleship


It was then a cry reached his ear. No, not his missing wife.
Above, on the top floor of a half-destroyed building, two children held onto
each other in terror wailing as the structure

His wife was missing…wounded…possibly dying….and if that
building fell those children would most certainly die.

Torn between two goals. Namoru hesitated.

*     *     *



Namoru jerked awake. “Huzza? Forty-two! Carbon….The inside
of water?”

Mr. Fujima glared at the boy. “Hayataki-kun, there is no
sleeping in my class.”

Namoru sighed. “I’m sorry, sensei. I was up late last night
trying to keep a squirrel out of the city power reactor. If it had made it in,
there would have been an explosion to rival Hiroshima.”

Fujima blinked at the statement. Normally he’d send a kid to
the principal’s office for such an outlandish statement…but this was Namoru
Hayataki, whom chaos and insanity seemed to follow by the plague. Besides, he
could see Umaru Yoshi sliding down in seat trying not be seen after that
statement…which meant it was probably true…and his fault.

“Very well, Mr. Hayataki. I will remind you that this is a
place of learning, not a hotel. However, I will spare you this one time for
standing in the hall, but only because you’ll make such an interesting example
for today’s topic.”

“And that is, Sensei?”

“Morality and ethics.”

There was a collective groan from the classroom.

Fujima pressed on. “Mr. Hayataki, what’s your opinion on
good vs. evil?”

Namoru thought for a long moment. “Well sir, if I see
someone doing evil, I go and beat on them until they don’t want to do evil

Another groan escaped the class. In the desk next to him,
Namoru’s girlfriend Aiko Kitikami rolled her eyes.

“Or they run away and swear eternal vengeance” muttered a
voice darkly. This came from Yuuta, Namoru’s friend and often rival.

Fujima looked dispassionately at the boy. “You are very
simple sometimes, Hayataki-kun. What if the person doing evil had a good reason
for doing it, or was being forced to because they weren’t given a choice. Have
you ever encountered that before?

Namoru thought about his opponents the last two years. The
psychotic Reika, who had power armor and wanted to abduct Shinji, Aiko’s little
brother; of General Leon, Aiko’s uncle and usurper of the throne, who had
ordered Reika to do this; the virtual dragon Yoshi had made for a video game,
and had escaped into the internet, plotting to kill them as he had been
programmed to; and the demons from hell he had been fighting of late.

“No sir, not really.”

Fujima huffed in frustration. “But what if you had to deal
with something like that. Someone coerced into fighting. Say they had kidnapped
his family, or something.”

Namoru paused. “I don’t know, sensei.”

“What if you were forced into a choice yourself,
Hayataki-kun. What if someone you know was in jeopardy…possibly in mortal
danger, vs a lot of people in definite mortal peril?”

Namoru scrunched up his face trying hard to come up with an
answer….finally he just repeated “I don’t know, sensei.”

Fujima got ready to pounce on Namoru. But before he could
open his mouth, the clock chimed the end of the period.

Namoru took a relieving breath.

“Not so fast, Hayataki-kun. I’ll want a full essay from you
on this subject by Monday. Five pages.”

Namoru winced.

“And that goes for the rest of you, too!”

One final moan escaped the class as they prepared for lunch.

*     *     *


“I’m sorry, sensei, I never got to turn that paper in. Guess
I get it now.” Nam
shook the memory from his head.

He glanced back at the restaurant. Aiko was strong. She’d
live. Those kids won’t be so lucky.

Namoru tensed himself. Then, he sprang into life, climbing
the building by bouncing up the side of the building from exposed rebar to
rebar and leaping again before it gave way. Finally, he landed, albeit a bit
awkwardly due to the non functioning arm throwing off his balance, in the
remains of the apartment next to the children.

“Hurry kids! Climb on my back.”

The children hesitated, then one of them scrambled to him.
With one arm Nam
helped him into a “piggy back” position. The other was too terrified to move. Nam
quickly scooped the child under his good arm.

A rumbling made the kids whimper, and Nam
dived down the side of the building, literally running down the building side,
an jumping at the last second as the building collapsed right behind them. He
landed and dropped to his knees. The children scrambled off, one of them giving
a cute “Thank you.” Nam
nodded tersely, panting in a combination of pain and exhaustion.

This was the point that things looking like rock covered
Shivans started to rise out of the meteor fragments. And at around the same
time, Arachnos decided to make their grand appearance.

Namoru took a breath. This wasn’t his day. He meditated a
moment, and checked his ki-reserves. They were pathetically low from all the
healing, the moving heavy objects, the ki enhanced jumps, leaps, and dodges.

He was at his limit.

*      *      *


Namoru came out of the kata, firing his ki blast at a rock
which exploded into shards.

His sensei, Fujsawa-sensei, the school’s librarian and in
reality a warrior-priest of an ancient order, clapped his hands to get Namoru’s

“That is enough. You have been practicing and training all

“But Sensei. They have her. They’ve taken my fiancee. I need
to be at the top of my form. I need to be the best to get her back.

“Namoru…the human body is like any machine. Overuse will
cause wear and tear and will hurt you more than help. Rest now, you will be of
no help to your mate worn and ragged.”


“No buts! Rest.”

“Hai, Sensei.” Namoru went and lay down on the bedroll he
had taken out to the campsite. On the other side of the campfire, his sensei did
the same.

Namoru waited, listened, until he could hear his sensei’s
deep, regular breathing. Then, he quietly got up and started all over again.

*     *    


“I’m sorry, sensei, but I never did learn the definition of ‘limits’ all that well.”

Namoru gathered his flagging reserves and crouched to spring into action.


Lt. Walters had only been in the medical emergency corps of Longbow for about three years, so he had missed the events like the the destruction of Baumton, Eastgate, Overbrook, and Siren's Call. He had seen the damage caused by the recent Praetorian attacks on King's Row, Steel Canyon, and Talos Island; and this was above and beyond any of it. The casualties were atrocious and destruction was unimaginable. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the emergency mediports had stopped, The PPD had cordoned off the areas and more permanent barricades had been ordered. The "Hazard Doors" already in place between Galaxy City and Perez Park had been closed, locked and sealed. Galaxy City, once one of the central downtown areas of Paragon City, for all intents and purposes was now dead.
Walters had just been about to do "teardown" of the emergency equipment when the evac porter hummed into life again admitting a young man, Japanese by the look of him, with brown hair. He was shirtless, one arm being held at an unnatural angle, and covered in some rather deep cut and several bruises all across is body, his whole form covered in sweat and dust and grime. He was on his knees on the ground panting, his good arm wobbling, looking like he was seconds from collapsing.
Jadson, one of the members that had gone into the zone, looked up. "I know him! That's Namoru Hayataki! He was fighting toe to toe with Scirocco after the Arachnos came in."
"Did he win? It doesn't look like it."
"I don't think that was his plan. He was buying us time to get more of the survivors out. If it wasn't for him, many more of them would be in the hands of Arachnos now."
Walters approached the form, who looked up glassily at him. With shock, he realized Namoru was only semi-conscious, and still capable of moving and thinking. The man took a deep breath and managed to rasp out "The kids....out of danger?"
Walters nodded. "You saved them. You gave us the time needed to rescue them."
Namoru nodded with great effort. "Good."
Jadson grinned. "Heck kid, with all you did, they'll probably put a huge statue of you in there when they rebuild.
Namoru should his head, a act that made him lean to one side. "I....hope not..."
"Why's that, kid?"
"Because.....Galaxy City's statues......were memorials......to the dead......."
With that, Namoru collapsed unconscious, keeling sideways into the dirt.
Jadson rushed over to him while Walters looked up. "Get a stretcher over here!"
*     *     *
Namoru opened his eyes and groaned. "Oh man. Which truck hit me? Oh yeah. Scirocco. Where the hell am I, anyway?"
"You're in Chiron Medical Center in Atlas Park." An attractive young Nurse stood in the doorway..
"Oh." Was all he could say.
"So you're the big hero, huh? Mayor Morales may want to hold a parade in your honor...at least that's what the rumor says."
"Yeah, well don't believe everything ya hear. I was jus' doin' my job." Namoru pulled off the covers and realized he was in just a hospital gown. "Where's my clothes?"
"All you had on when you came in was a torn up pair of pants. We had to throw them out."
"Natch." Namoru reached up the sleeve of his hospital gown, and to the nurses surprise pulled out a paid of pristine, nicely folded pants, a clean black T-Shirt, a pair of black boots, and a green tunic...his usual outfit.
The nurse blinked-blinked a moment. "How...how did you do that."
"It's......a secret!" The girl stared at him. "Not a Slayers fan, huh? Well, let's just say it's a Martial Arts technique I learned from a 'friend' of a friend, and lets leave it at that."
The nurse blinked again. "Okay...."
Nam looked at her a moment, then made a twirling motion with his finger. "I'd like to get dressed now, please."
"But the hospital isn't ready to release you yet!"
"Tough, I got things to do, and then I'll go home and sleep."
"No buts....now turn around."
She did what he said and a few moments later, a fully dressed Namoru walked past her. "So, where's my wallet and cell-phone?"
"They have them at discharge."
"Okay." Nam started to leave.
"Hey....." The nurse handed him a card. "If you're not saving the world sometime...call me."
Nam looked at the woman, then slowly gave the card back. "Sorry...I'm married." And with that he left.
The nurse looked on. "Poo. Why are the good looking ones always married? Or gay."

A few moments later, Nam was receiving his personal belongings from a receptionist at discharge. Lucky for him, his cell-phone and wallet were intact.
"Here you go! Sign here please."
Nam took the stencil and signed the PDA with his signature. "Say, can you do me a favor?"
"Depends. What is it?"
"Was an Aiko Hayataki or Aiko Kitikami admitted to the hospital? She's my wife. We were in Galaxy City together when....."
The woman tapped up the hospital records, doing a search. "I'm sorry, no one by that name was admitted here, or at any of the other Paragon hospitals. No references to her in the morgues, either, but we're still processing."
Namoru gripped the side of desk for support.. "Oh" 
"I hate to tell you this, but rumor has it that Arachnos were in the zone shortly after the meteor hit.....they took away civilians. Hostages."
The side of the desk was abruptly sheered off and Nam gripped it a little too tight. "Oops...um, sorry about that."
"Don't worry about it. We get supers in here all the time, so it happens a lot. We'll just add the replacement to your bill."
"Have a nice day now."
"Bit late for that" Namoru quipped as he left discharge and headed out of the hospital.

Namoru stepped outside and took a deep breath of the relatively clean Atlas Park air. He was tired, VERY tired, but the nap he had in the hospital had brought his ki back up to par. And he had to find Aiko....
Namoru's cell-phone rang.
Namoru checked the number.
His heart lurched, then sank into his stomach. Hands shaking, he picked up the phone and hit the TALK button. "Moshi moshi?"
A voice, digitally obscured, came out of the phone. "It's 10:30 PM, Mr. Hayataki. Do you know where your wife is?"
Namoru's blood froze.
The voice gave a digital chuckle. "I do."
"Where is she you bastard."
"Safe. Safe and sedated, for now.."
"Let her go."
"Come to Sharkhead Isle. And we'll talk. I'll send you a text with the location when you arrive."
"Because.....Galaxy City's statues......were memorials......to the dead......."

recomend are instead of were...

"All you had on when you came in was a torn up pair of pants. We had to trow them out."

recommend throw instead of trow

"Was an Aiko Hayataki or Aiko Kitikami admitted to the hospital. She's my wife. We were in Galaxy City together when....."

Question mark instead of period at the end of this first sentance

and this kidnapper is an IDIOT. I'd put my money on Nam, with sharkhead coming out of it as flattened afterwards as Galaxy is now!
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to split the sky?
That's every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry-

-- "No Quarter", by Echo's Children
Oucha magowcha. *there's* a reason to be redside that allows for drama when he gets back...
''We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat
them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.''

-- James Nicoll