Sledge: Enter the Hammer




(( what's up everybody. after much procrastinating i've finally decided to release my origin. Here is just the first chapter, so you dont have to read 4 pages at once if you dont want to.
I'm on about chapter 9, so i'll be updating every few days until i have to start writing again. Enjoy, and dont be shy to send me a PM if you like it or wish to give criticism.))

Everything was cold. Dark. Lazy. Different hues of blue, gray and black swirled around in an all-encompassing, hazy spiral; a spiral that appeared to have no focus. It was as if everything was clear yet murky, sleeping yet awake. In a word, it was Nothingness. This paradox is my eternity. I lie here, free from pain, yet in the most excruciating agony imaginable.

But then again…what do you expect when you’re dead?

However, sometimes spirits can’t let go. The mind is an interesting thing. Sometimes, it refuses to admit defeat after the body has thrown in the towel. Sometimes there is business left unfinished…and I just can’t accept that.

His eyes snapped open wildly. He let out a terrified scream; a scream that went unheard. Mark Cannons suppressed the overwhelmingly sickening urge to vomit. Everything was completely dark. Panic-stricken, Mark frantically felt out his surroundings with his hands. Then…he remembered. He remembered everything.

Mark let out another scream. However, this one was filled with anger. Rage. He slammed the coffin lid with incredible strength, reducing it to mere splinters…


A group of Hellions were carousing the graveyard this dark and starry night. They were laughing and hooting as they kicked over the path lanterns which illuminated the walkway, and used spray cans to deface the monuments of the deceased.

“Oy! Nice one Bruno!” one Hellion called to another as he used his baseball bat like a golf club and sent a path lantern flying off into the night. Snickering ensued as the gang continued to make their way to the small caretaker’s shack in the middle of the cemetery for some “real fun.”

However, one stopped short as he caught sight of one tombstone in particular. “Hey Bruno! Come take a look at this!” the gang member called out. “Mark Cannons? Isn’t that the guy that-”

“Yeah. Yeah it is.” Bruno replied, interrupting him.

“Wonder what he’s doing here?” one asked.

“Doesn’t matter,” Bruno said with a devilish grin, “It only matters what we are going to do to him now that he is.” With that, Bruno walked up to the tombstone and unzipped his pants, looking to desecrate the grave of his sworn enemy. The other gang members responded with hoots of laughter. However, that laughter ended quite abruptly.

“W-what was that?” one asked as they felt a large thud come from the ground underneath the grave.

“I-I don’t know” Bruno replied, obviously shaken. “Lets just get out of here!”

Almost on queue the grave erupted, like a volcano, spewing forth anger and power in its wake. The anger and power took the form of a large, extremely well muscled man with long blonde hair and a matching clean beard, who triumphantly emerged, letting loose a bestial, victorious howl. Bruno was flung backwards and the other Hellions were left scrambling, all in awe of this incredible show of power. Mark looked upon the Hellions with faint recognition, and the howl of victory quickly turned into one of fury.

The Hellions, however, definitely recognized this man. A few of them even let out a scream of their own. However, unlike that of Mr. Cannons it was not one of rage or even victory. It was one of pure, unbridled fear. The Hellions, wide-eyed and panic-stricken turned tail and ran as fast as they could in every direction, away from the tremendous man.

Mark stood there, breathing heavily. He knew he was in trouble. His vision started to cloud over and he felt the darkness creeping up on him once again. However, this was the darkness of fatigue, not the cold grip of death. Mark swooned and passed out on the soft cemetery grass, not ten yards away from where he had originally lay ‘dead’.



I’m alive…But what does that really mean? I lie here, incapacitated as I did not twenty minutes prior, yet fully aware of the new life I have been given; a precious gift. There’s a saying that goes “there are no second chances.” Up until today I would have been inclined to agree. Ironic how in the blink of an eye one’s entire philosophy on life can change. Now, there is no doubt in my mind what I must do. I must finish what I’ve started. Some say “vengeance is a dish best served cold.” I suppose I will find out soon enough. Yet even with a goal so apparent before me, the future is clouded in mystery. I only know one thing for sure. I have to get up. No rest for the weary.

Mark stirred then let out a loud groan. Getting up was going to be easier said than done. It was then he realized that he wasn’t on the ground at all. He wasn’t even outside any longer. Mark shot up painfully from the bed he had been lying in, and nearly fell right back down. He didn’t, however. He was now fully alert.

“Easy there son. Perhaps you should lie back down and rest?” came a voice from the corner. Mark followed the voice and saw a gnarled old man sitting in the corner of what Mark noticed, for the first time, to be a small but tidy old shack.
“W-wh-?” Mark began, but the old man continued to speak; either not hearing or ignoring Mark’s attempt at a question. Mark had a sneaky suspicion it was the latter.

“I am Fredrick Peters the third, but you can call me Fred. And yes, this is my house and I am the caretaker of the cemetery.” The old man added with a wry smile as he answered every question that seemed to be running through Mark’s head. “No. I am not a psychic. I’ve just been around long enough and have seen enough things to know,” he continued as he shot down another one of Mr. Cannons’ questions before it was even audibly voiced.

“How did a little old man like you manage to lift me up from the ground? I must weigh a good 280 pounds,” Mark finally managed to ask as he slumped back against the heavy headboard of his bed.

“Perhaps I’m stronger than I look!” the old man cackled gleefully. “And perhaps there are more things to me than meet the eye,” he added, winking. Mark seemed content to leave it at that, at least for now.

“Now, if you don’t mind, there are a few questions that I would like to ask you.” He continued. “It’s not everyday a dead man winds up exploding through his casket and up through the earth from six feet under.”

“No. No I suppose it’s not.” Mark mused. “But then again, why should I tell you anything? If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s to trust no one.”

“Yes, I suppose that’s a painful lesson many dead men learn the hard way. Other than that, I only provided you with food and shelter, and more than likely saved your life after you collapsed out there,” Fred pondered, motioning toward the door and Mark’s grave beyond. “Besides that, I’m just a curious old man. Some even call me benevolent.” Fred quipped, intending to make Mark felt guilty. It didn’t work.

“Curious indeed,” Mark thought to himself. However, as much as he hated to admit it, he was beginning to like the strangely charismatic old man. Even trust him, slightly, despite his earlier comment.

Mark stood shakily to his feet, his powerful form no less impressive than the night before when he “conquered death.” He made his way to a small table in the center of the shack and took a seat. “Put on some coffee.” He told Fred. “I’ve got a story for you after all.”

“Oh really?” Fred answered, seemingly surprised for the first time throughout their entire encounter. “I thought you trusted no one?”

“I don’t.” Mark replied curtly. “But I need someone to hear my story. I might not be around to tell it for much longer.”

“How can I refuse a story with a beginning like that?” the old man chuckled as he came and took a seat across from Mark. “Do begin.”

“Well, it all started out like this…”



That day Fredrick put me in a rather interesting situation. Ironically, I put him in an even more interesting one, and definitely much more dangerous. I was left with the choice to trust or to distrust. Now that I think back about it, it wouldn’t have really mattered either way. I still would have taken the same course of action. I still have the same, ultimate goal. However, by his generosity and ‘benevolence,’ he had put himself in much deeper than he had expected. If my enemies ever find out he aided me, they will come for him. They will come for his life, and for his information. By telling him this story, I am killing him. Not directly, and hopefully not for certain, but if he loses his life over this, it will be as if I stabbed him with my own hand. Regardless, it is a chance I must take. I refuse to be an unsung hero. I refuse to fade away into anonymity and obscurity. If I die, there must be someone left behind to tell my story. Now it’s just up to me to write the ending.

It was extremely cold in Paragon City this time of year. However, snow hadn’t fallen for a solid week now. Still, that didn’t stop the monstrous wind from chilling all foolish enough to be outside to the bone. This specific evening, ice was beginning to form on buildings everywhere, and it appeared that snow could be falling any minute. As a result, there was almost no one on the street this evening. Almost.

Two security guards stood outside an impossibly large office building idly chatting. One of the guards was much larger and well built than the other, and had long blonde hair with a matching clean beard. Other than that, both were dressed nearly identical. Both had on long navy blue pants, and wore a thick security jacket to keep them warm against the elements. Both wore a police-styled security cap. The one discrepancy came with the glasses. The larger blonde man wore black, Oakley styled sunglasses that contained a greenish tint, while the other man wore none.

“So? How does it feel partner?” Roger asked the bigger man.

“How does what feel?” replied Mark, obviously not understanding..

“You know…this whole having a job thing,” Roger jabbed playfully.

“I have to admit, it feels pretty good being able to provide for me and the wife again” Mark chuckled, having taken no hard feelings at the jest.

“And the best part?” Roger continued, “No one would dare try to break into a Crey Industries building, especially not in this weather.”

“Jinxed,” replied Mark cynically. The two of them shared a modest chuckle.

The chuckle was ended abruptly. “No one indeed,” came the voice from the adjacent alleyway. A Hellion stepped out of the concealing shadows, and was followed by six more members. His “gang.” Some wore jeans and a leather vest, with a tee shirt underneath, apparel much too thin for the weather. Others wore large jackets and caps. However, all of them wore the customary red bandanna around their face that associated them with their “Blood Brotherhood.” “Me and the boys would like to request entrance into your fine establishment. What can you do for us?”

“Sorry boys, no can do.” Roger grimly replied as his hand drifted to his holster. Then he let out a soft groan. He was a security guard now…not a police officer. Security guards were strictly prohibited from carrying guns. Instead his hand came to rest onto what would have to replace it, a seemingly frail nightstick.

“That sure is a shame.” The gang leader replied mockingly. “By the way, the name’s Bruno. If one of you manages to survive, tell that to the police when they get here,” he added as an afterthought which put a grin on his and the rest of the gang’s faces. Almost as if on queue each member of the gang drew their respective weapons.

Bruno pulled out a large baseball bat. A Louisville Slugger. The other members pulled out assorted other weapons. Some wrapped chains around their fists, others pulled out small hatchets, and still others grabbed their sledge hammers they had strapped to their back.

Mark stepped confidently forward, and speaking for the first time said, “seven on two…that doesn’t seem like fair odds.”

“Just the way we like ‘em.” Bruno replied with a devilish grin.

“Next time bring more” was Mark’s only response, and it was his turn to grin.

With that Mark dashed forward, impossibly quick, to the nearest Hellion. The Hellion’s eyes noticeably widened in fear as Mark grabbed him by the front of his leather vest with one hand, and proceeded to launch him headlong toward two of his ‘teammates’. All three crashed to the ground under the impact of the first, and they remained there, sprawled out. Dazed. “Four on two” Mark corrected as he turned to face his other threats.

Meanwhile, Roger had used Mark’s convenient distraction to flank the gang, and was now finishing a brutal combo with his nightstick on the back of the head of yet another gang member. “Make that three,” he added with a grin.

Mark moved to the next Hellion. This one had a hatchet. Not like it much mattered. Mark grabbed him by the throat before he could react, and slammed him roughly against the side of the building. A sickening crack ensued as he felt some of the Hellion’s bones give way under the force of the impact. Mark smiled grimly at the crunch. He then turned to watch the rest of the brawl unfold. Suddenly a look of horror shot across his face.

Bruno had long since thrown down his bat and pulled out a pistol; a pistol he had leveled directly a Roger.

“No!” Mark screamed in hopeless defiance. As fast as he was, he knew he would never make it in time to save his friend’s life.

“Goodbye mate.” Bruno taunted as he prepared to pull the trigger.

Mark had no choice. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes as an incredibly large sledgehammer seemingly magically manifested itself in his hands. It was nearly as tall as a normal man, and the head was the size of an average man’s chest. Conveniently enough. Yet even more amazing, it was made of pure, earthen stone. It easily weighted 200 pounds, probably much more, yet Mark held it effortlessly in one hand.

Roger’s jaw dropped, seemingly more in disbelief of the hammer than the prospect of his own death, but there was no time for explanations. Bruno, intent on the kill, hadn’t noticed a thing. With a loud roar Mark heaved the hammer straight at Bruno. The hammer sped through the air, head first, at a tremendous speed. It connected violently with Bruno’s arm, not only knocked the gun loose, but literally broke every bone in his arm judging by the misshapen form it took. Bruno futilely tried to cradle the broken arm in his good one, but it didn’t help at all. His head swam and he soon quickly passed out from the growing pain, landing heavily on the cement.

All the final remaining Hellion could do was gawk and slowly back away, until he worked up the courage to turn tail and flee as fast as possible.

“Let him go” said Mark. “The police will be along soon enough to fix this mess.” His stone hammer that had been lying at Bruno’s feet magically reappeared in his hand. Then, in much the same way it had appeared, dissipated into a fine cloud of dust.

“More importantly,” Roger started, now looking at Mark, as if for the first time, “W-what was that?”


A small security camera strategically placed on the building let out a soft hum as it zoomed in on Mark’s visage. “Yes ma’am, we got everything” a technician replied to the entity on the other end of the phone, as he sat up in the control room of an impossibly large office building. Crey Industries.



So I was a mutant. Heck still am to some degree. However, I get ahead of myself. My powers manifested themselves in my teenage years, like most ‘normal’ mutants. Yet I was blessed to inherit my powers without the visual side effects. No pointy ears, no off colored skin, no disgusting bones poking out from my epidermis. I was just like any other normal boy, on the outside that is. As for my actual powers, I was given incredible strength and speed. Not like the Flash or Superman mind you. However, it was enough to make a difference, without drawing too much unwanted attention. Then there was that hammer. As far as I can tell, it’s the only real power I have that separates me from the super athletic high school athlete. It’s the only real power I have that got me killed.

Mark’s calm, confident stride and solemn visage belied his nervousness as he walked down a long corridor lined with doors in the Crey Industries building. It had been almost a week since the ‘incident’, and Mark had thought it was forgotten. Apparently he was wrong.

“Perfect. I’ve been here for a week and I’m already on my way to the boss’s office” Mark thought to himself, inwardly groaning. He came to a stop in front of one door in particular and gave it a brief but firm knock.

“Come in.” he heard a calm, cool voice call from the other side. Too calm.

“Yes sir. You wanted to see me?” Mark asked as he entered the room and removed his security cap. He still wore his characteristic sunglasses though, even inside.

“Mr. Cannons, take a seat.” The sleazy looking business executive said, motioning to a chair from across his desk.

“I’ll stand.” Mark replied shortly.

“Very well then. Let’s get started. I’m sure you know why you’re here.” The executive started as he folded his hands and leaned forward in his chair.

“I’m sure I can guess. You don’t like my ‘kind’ here at Crey. Isn’t that right?”

“Au contraire Mr. Cannons. We here at Crey realize you have an outstanding gift.”

Mark’s eyebrows noticeably rose at this, but the rest of his face displayed no emotion. Perhaps this meeting would go better than he dared to hope.

“Crey would like to offer you a very special new job, Mr. Cannons; one that would be better suited to your abilities.”

“What might that be?” Mark asked, growing increasingly wary and more than a little uneasy.

“In short, we would like to offer you the chance to learn more about yourself, and for Crey to learn more about your mutant gifts in general-” The executive started…but didn’t get to finish.

“I think I’ve heard quite enough, Mr.-Mr. Smith” Mark replied as he read the name plaque on the executive’s desk. “I will not be Crey’s nor anyone else’s guinea pig. This conversation is over.”

“Please Mr. Cannons, atleast look at the salary associated wit-“ Mr. Smith started to plead.

“No. No thank you. No amount of money will change my mind. Have a good day sir.” Mark firmly stated, becoming slightly agitated. He turned to leave.

“Very well then. Good day to you too then Mr. Cannons. Oh…by the way, do you love your wife Mr. Cannons?” Mr. Smith inquired in a cold, serious voice. A deadly voice.

Mark quickly spun around, fighting to control the rage building up inside of him. “What the hell is that supposed to mean you sick [censored]? I don’t take kindly to being threatened”

“Not a threat, merely a question Mr. Cannons.” Came the calm reply as Mr. Smith leaned back in his chair, assuming a rather pensive posture.

“You listen to me. You stay away from me and my wife or I will kill you. I will hunt you down and kill you” Mark replied menacingly. To emphasize his point, he brought a tightly clenched fist down on the executive’s desk, harder than he had wanted…effectively shattering it into two pieces. “Your going to want to get that cleaned up.” Mark added, taking some measure of satisfaction from the splintered wood and terrified look on Mr. Smith’s face. With that, he turned and walked out of the door, slamming it behind him. Mark never looked back.


“The mutant refuses to cooperate.”

“Indeed. Resistance was expected. Prepare to use…a more direct means”

“Yes ma’am.”



There was nothing I could do…and they knew that. They knew I could never pin a direct threat on them in court. I have not the power nor the money to take on the whole of Crey Industries. Even if I could, I can’t lose this job. It is my last chance at a normal life. I cannot go to the police. They aren’t too fond of mutants…no matter how benevolent. Then again, I guess I’m hardly benevolent. I can’t make a preemptive strike, even if I had the man power and know how. I have too much to lose. Always too much to lose.

Mark pulled up the driveway of his home. It was a decently sized house. Not a mansion by any means, but I was affordable and roomy. It was far too much room for two people that is. It had four bedrooms plus a large living room, dining room and kitchen. A slight smile crossed Mark’s solemn features as he considered the prospect of filling those rooms someday. Plus, he thought to himself, “beats the heck out of what some other mutants are staying in.”

“How was your day at work honey?” Mark’s wife inquired as he wearily stepped through the door.

“Same old same old.” Replied Mark. He hadn’t told her about the gang and wouldn’t tell her about his meeting with his boss today. He loved her too much. He had to protect her, and it was the only way he knew how.

Dinner passed uneventfully enough. A nice quiet one at home. Mark remembered he hadn’t married her for her cooking, but didn’t tell her that. They watched a bit of TV after dinner. Their favorite show was on, Heroes. They watched as Heroes apprehended a drunken man after a high speed car chase, and put him in the squad car. He kept claiming innocence, all the way to jail. “Ironic,” Mark thought.

It had been a hard day, and Mark and his wife decided to turn in early.
“Good night Sheila. I love you.” Mark whispered as he turned off the lights. They were soon fast asleep.


Mark’s eyes shot open and he looked around wildly. As soon as he realized where he was, however, he calmed down considerably. “Just a dream” he thought to himself, relieved, only a dream. He looked over at Sheila to see she was still peacefully sleeping. He closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but a strange nagging feeling kept him awake. “This is ridiculous.” He thought to himself as he lay there in bed, unable to sleep.

Then, he saw them.

Shadows played against the wall of his bedroom from outside. The unmistakable shadows of men with guns. He knew they had come for him. His boss’s threat was valid. He thought about calling the police, but then realized they would never get there in time. He nudged Sheila gently, waking her.

“Quiet!” he whispered to her sharply, fear evident in his voice. However, he wasn’t afraid for himself. He was afraid for her.

“I want you to crawl under the bed, stay out of sight. Don’t move, don’t do anything. Don’t make a noise. I’ll come back for you.” Mark said. She had fear in her eyes. Mark winced. Why were the people he loved always caught up in his horrors. Because he had to have these conflicts. Mark got up out of bed as quietly as possible, and made sure to stay in the shadows. If they were coming for him, he would have the element of surprise, he decided. However, Mark didn’t own a gun. He owned something much better. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth as the magical hammer appeared in his hands.

“Come and get it” Mark whispered, his face already set in determination.



Why? Why me? It’s such a simple question really. Unfortunate that the answer has to be so complicated. I didn’t do anything to deserve this conflict. There is no reason these people should be entering my home, trying to kill me. Then again, I guess it is my fault. It was my own actions that brought these men here. I accept that. Still, I feel like the man that cried innocent…all the way to jail. It is also ironic, that in doing what I know was right, saving Roger’s life; I could be killing me and my wife. One life for another. This brings me to my next contemplation. My wife really is innocent. She did nothing to deserve this, except to marry me. Why must the ones I love always be hurt? An old stalwart hero once said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” I guess it’s now my responsibility to protect her. I cannot fail. For my sake as much as hers.

Mark saw them as much as he heard them. They obviously had an expert lock pick on their team; he made not a sound as the door eased open to his proficiency. They quickly stole in, covering each other and branching out a short way down each hallway, all completely silently. Noticeably professional.

“Six” Mark thought. The team’s leader made a few silent hand motions, and two disappeared down one hallway…looking for them, Mark realized.

The leader then turned to two of the remaining members, and motioned for them to go down Mark’s hallway. Mark knew he had to play this just right, as tough as he was, he couldn’t ignore the assault rifles they carried. Careful to remain in the shadows, Mark lifted his hammer onto his shoulder and waited for them to turn the corner…

The first Crey assault member rounded the corner, training his gun on the shadows as he was trained to do. Nothing could have prepared him for this sight. Mark stood there, sledgehammer hefted easily onto one shoulder, wearing sweat pants and a tank top. Then again, not like that mattered much to him.

With a loud roar Mark brought his sledgehammer in a downward arc onto the man’s head, shattering his skull and continuing to clearly break his neck, instantly killing him. He fell to his knees, then face down on the carpet, in a slowly forming pool of his own blood. His partner, almost in as much shock as his now dead teammate, backed away and pulled the trigger. However, he was frantic, and his marksmanship was off. Not like he got more than a shot off anyway. Mark grabbed him by the throat with one hand and slammed him into the wall so hard the entire house seemed to rattle. He followed with a vicious head-butt that solidly connected with the man’s nose, splaying it wetly across his face and knocking him out cold. This all happened in a matter of seconds, but for the two men at the end of the hall that was all they had needed.

Mark gave a defiant roar and charged. They opened fire. A bullet tore into Mark’s collar bone, then another into his abdomen a split second later. He didn’t even feel it. Mark reached them quickly, far too quickly for the two men’s likes for sure. He swung his hammer in a horizontal arc, like a baseball bat, and connected solidly with one’s chest. Mark felt the man’s chest crack and slightly cave at the impact, and took a small matter of satisfaction in that. The man was slammed so hard against the wall from the blow that he literally collided with the wall, then rebounded…catching a meaty punch in the face for his troubles. Mark wasn’t sure if he had killed him, but knew he had injured him quite badly. Not like he had time to think about that anyway.

He reversed the grip on his hammer, and swung it at his lone remaining combatant. It connected heavily with the man’s shoulder, as he turned trying to avoid or at least mitigate the hammer somewhat. It didn’t work too well. This time the explosive blast sent the enemy against the wall, then through it.

Mark didn’t have time to contemplate any of this. Now he was running on pure, unadulterated instinct. Just as he had finished with the fourth member, he heard a blood-curling scream. His wife’s scream. Mark dashed back to their bedroom, and kicked the now locked door off its hinges just in time to see the remaining two men crawl out there bedroom window…one with his wife in tow.

Unfortunately, the one carrying his wife, kicking and screaming, was long gone, but as the last one tried to leave, Mark was quick enough to grab him by the ankle and fling him, like a rag doll, back into the room. The man staggered to his feet, but Mark was on him in an instant. He slammed the man against the wall and said very calmly, very coolly, “You’re going to tell me where they took my wife.”

“I can’t, they’ll kill me,” the invader pleaded.

“They are the least of your worries. I’ve already killed two of your comrades, I wont hesitate to make that three,” came the dangerous reply.

“Okay, okay. They took her to Crey Industries, where you work. She’s in the lower, hidden basement, there is a secret elevator,” he cried as he hemorrhaged information under the increasing pressure Mark’s hand placed on his throat.

“Good. Thank you.” Mark replied as he casually snapped the man’s neck, killing him on the spot. He didn’t need, nor was in the mood for, someone notifying Crey that he was coming. It was then that he noticed his bullet wounds for the first time. He began to pitch forward and black-out, but he didn’t. He couldn’t. He must not falter now. I must not falter now.



Funny, it was the first time I had ever killed a man in cold blood. He was totally helpless, totally at my mercy…or lack thereof. I hear most men vomit and go into post-murder trauma after their first kill. Not I. It was a matter of necessity. I could have knocked the man out, but I was unwilling to take that risk. A man once said, “Dead men don’t come looking for vengeance.” It is this simple, cold fact that keeps me going, keeps me doing what I’m doing. In this life, there is no room for mistakes, and every time an enemy lives, that is a mistake. What kind of hero lives by this philosophy? Honestly, I don’t know. The only way to beat the monster is to become the monster. Ironic.

Mark stood in the alleyway of the Crey Industries building. He was now changed into street clothes, including jeans and a leather jacket. This time he had his long blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail, and still…he wore his sunglasses, even at night. The only other noticeable change was that he had stopped bleeding from his two gunshot wounds. Somehow he had managed to patch them up. The shots would have been enough to kill a normal man, but Mark was tough…and determined.

Mark stepped out of the alley and strolled confidently, despite a noticeable limp, toward the two security guards on duty. He knew that Crey would have cameras all over their building, so it didn’t make much sense to try and sneak in. Stealth wasn’t his style anyway, he decided. Furthermore, the irony was not lost on him that no less that a week ago, he had been in the exact opposite position, protecting Crey from infiltration.

He walked up silently, and came to a stop a few yards from the two guards. They didn’t seem pleased to see him, but it didn’t appear as if there were going to take any action to stop him either. He noted that both of these guards did carry guns however. An interesting change from a week ago.

“Mark, we have orders not to let you in.” said one in a solemn, almost sad voice.

“Really? Well I’ll give both of you a choice then, and a choice only because you are my friends,” Mark started, addressing the men he had formed such a tight bond with, even in just a week. “You can move out of my way and let me in, or I will kill you.”

“You know we can’t just let you in Mark,” started one.

“You’re going to have to make this look convincing,” the other chimed in, as he moved his hand away from his holster, crossed his arms over his chest and turned his back to Mark.

“Thanks, and I’m sorry guys.” Mark replied, honestly moved. That feeling lasted about two seconds before he hit the first one solidly in the back of the head…


Five minutes later Mark was walking with a purpose to the hidden elevator on the ground floor of Crey Industries. He noted that it had never been as quiet as it was tonight. He hadn’t even seen another soul beyond the first two guards. Mark wasn’t stupid, everything in his body screamed trap. However, he had too much to lose tonight by just giving up, or retreating. He had no other choice than to meet that trap head on. He realized that this is exactly what Crey wanted him to do…a thought that did not sit well.

He found the ‘hidden’ elevator with little effort. It was a portion of the wall with boxes stacked up to conceal the elevator button, and rather poorly concealed at that. Still more evidence that suggested trap. Against his better judgment, he didn’t heed every warning in his body to turn back. He pressed the elevator button to go down, calmly stepped inside, and prepared himself for what he might find waiting below.

The elevator hummed and let off a soft “bing” when it has finally reached the basement Mark desired. As the doors creaked and began to open, he realized his heart was beating wildly. The elevator doors groaned open to reveal…nothing.

Everything was pitch black as far as Mark could see, and it wasn’t because of the sunglasses. He nervously stepped out into the basement, hoping his eyes would adjust. The door squealed shut behind him.

Then, he heard it. “So nice of you to join us Mr. Cannons” an oddly familiar voice called.

Mark called his sledgehammer to his hand and then spoke. “Turn on the lights and fight like a real man!” He called.

“Oh, there wont be much fighting” the voice cackled. “But lights, if you insist.”
With that, dim light cascaded down to grant the visibility Mark had wished for.
“On second thought, maybe the lights should have stayed off.” Mark thought to himself.

He found himself surrounded by two dozen assault team members. However, unlike the ones that had struck his house, these appeared to be cybernetically enhanced. Many had machine parts where limbs were supposed to be…most notably their arms. However, there were plenty more gruesome sights that would have chilled any normal man’s blood as well. Then again, I’m not normal. Lucky me.

Then Mark saw the owner of the strangely familiar voice. “Can’t say that it’s a pleasure Mr. Smith,” Mark replied calmly to the sleezy business executive from the day prior. However, he didn’t even look like the same man. He had metal plating on his face, complete with a new digital eye that no doubt had infrared and many other types of vision built in. He had one huge mechanical hand, obviously containing tremendous strength, if only by its sheer size alone. Finally, both of his legs had been replaced, leaving ‘newer, more advanced’ legs…which probably offered him incredible speed. “Gotta love that blasted Rikti technology” Mark thought to himself, rather annoyed.

“Take him.” Mr. Smith gave the command.

All of the cyborgs obeyed, as they began converging on Mark.

“Not without a fight” Mark whispered. With that he swung his hammer in a large arc, blasting away the first line of cyborgs. He then grabbed the next closest one, picked him high above his head, and heaved him toward a group of his friends. They all went sprawling. He realized his bullet wounds had reopened, but he didn’t have any time to take care of that now. He punched another in the face, then slammed yet another in the stomach with the butt of his hammer. However, as much as he struggled and as many as he struck down, the horde had now collapsed on him and by sheer numbers alone managed to subdue him.

Ten cyborgs kept him pinned to the ground. Mark writhed and jerked continuously, but to no avail. He stopped and looked up as he realized Mr. Smith was now standing before him.

“So, am I going to wind up like my friends?” Mark asked sarcastically, doing well to hide the tremor of fear in his voice.

“Oh no, we wouldn’t waste a good mutant like you on something so trivial. Your kind are so hard to come by. We’ve got something special planned for you.”

“Perfect.” Mark thought as they dragged him off, farther into the basement.



Splendid. Simply splendid. I say this, even though I know I shouldn’t be nearly as angry as I am. I came to Crey with a purpose, and very little hope. I knew it was a trap, and deep down I knew this would happen. Also, however, I knew I couldn’t turn back, not just for my wife, but for myself. I know that if I had ignored my duty, if I had ran away from this problem, I would be plagued with it the rest of my life. Against Crey I fought the valiant fight, and died a valiant ‘death’. I still solemnly believe that this is far better than any life of shame and eventual insanity could provide. For when one simply gives up everything he loves and everything he believes in, it will most assuredly drive a man insane.

When Mark awoke he realized he was in a large glass chamber, almost like a human-sized test tube. It was completely filled with a strangle looking green liquid that didn’t feel wet, more…warm. He reached up and touched his face, realizing that he was wearing an oxygen mask. He looked around frantically to find there were a dozen scientists all milling about him, some scribbling notes on their clipboards. Dozens of High-Tech computers and machines could be seen all throughout the large room in which he was being kept. Not a prospect he liked in the least. He punched the glass as hard as he could, but it didn’t even leave a scratch. The chamber barely even rattled.

“Ah, so our friend is awake”

Mark heard the loathsome voice, and turned, seeing none other than Mr. Smith. Mark’s eyes filled with hatred.

“No response? That sure is a shame. Here I thought we had become such good friends over the course of this week.” Mr. Smith said, mocking him. Mark wasn’t sure if he could speak through this oxygen mask or not, but regardless, he didn’t have anything to say to this monster. He let a single glare of fury do all the talking he needed.

“Well then,” Smith continued, seemingly unaffected by Mark’s belligerent state. “I think you’ll be proud to learn that you are the very first experiment with the Invulnerability gene here at Crey Industries. Well…the very first human experiment.”

Mr. Smith thought for a second, and then said, “The others didn’t work out too well. However, we refuse to let that impede our progress for a better tomorrow!”

“Spare me the altruistic bull [censored]” thought Mark. He didn’t lessen his unrelenting gaze of hate in the slightest.

“Unfortunately for you, the process will be quite painful” mused Mr. Smith thoughtfully. “Then again, that’s just the way I like it. The more the better” he added with a devilish grin. “Oh, and by the way, since you probably won’t survive, I’d like to let you know now…your wife is dead. She cried and pleaded with me before I killed her. To think, until the end she had faith that you would come for her too.”

Mark’s eyes widened in horror and shock. He turned to Mr. Smith, and the unbridled hate in his eyes alone seemed to threaten to destroy the barrier separating them. He slammed the glass prison with his fist again…to no avail.

“Good bye Mr. Cannons.” Mr. Smith said, with an annoying smirk on his face.
“In the name of science!” Smith called out “Let us begin!”

Mark’s vision became blurry as pain seemed to assail every cell in his body. Then, all he knew was black…



So now we come full circle. This is my story as I have written it so far. I can only assume I was buried under the pretense of a fire, or death ‘on the job.’ Ironically, the latter wouldn’t be far from the truth. One thing about Crey, they are always politically correct in everything that they do. They will cover up even the slightest scandal. They don’t need anymore enemies. Then again, I’m the only enemy they need.

My story has come full circle. Now, I am the author, not Crey. It is my time to write a proper ending to this horror.

Mark sat across from Fredrick and sipped his coffee quietly, his story finished. Moments passed and neither of them spoke. Neither of them really had much to say.

“What will you do now?” Fred asked, if nothing more than to break the uncomfortable silence.

“The only thing I can do. I will find retribution, and vengeance.”

“You were easily outmanned before. Perhaps you should just take your second chance and do just that, have a second chance at a new life.”

“There will be no such thing as a new life. If I leave this behind, I could never live with myself. I’ve got nothing left to lose.”

“Son, don’t let your memories kill you.”

“I’m already dead.” Both men paused and reflected on this statement for a minute, each in their own way. Very true both of them decided.

“What do you plan to do?” Fred tried again.

“Kill them all. Everyone who profited from, knew about, worked for or gained pleasure from my death and that of my wife. They will all die.”

“Where will you get the necessary funds to live off of? Rome wasn’t built in a day you know. Likewise it can’t be dismantled as so.”

“I’m not sure yet.”

“You could stay with me. Live here.”

“As entertaining as the prospect of literally striking back from the grave is, you know I can’t put you in that position.”

“You could go register for Hero status in Atlas Park. They provide a small budget and free housing for heroes.”

“Look at me. I’m no more a hero than the members at Crey are.”

“You have a powerful and precious gift, I would hate to see you waste it.”

“Crey will be keeping tabs on registered heroes to assess threats and eliminate them. Right about now I would guess I’m a threat.”

“Use an Alias.”

“Any ideas?”




Thus, a hero was born. I still don’t like the title. ‘Hero.’ It seems to me that was the one thing I’ve been avoiding all my life, the life I’ve spent trying to be normal. I also know that I’m as capable and willing to kill another man as any one of the thugs I will be hunting are. It is a scary prospect. To defeat the monster one must become the monster. Becoming a hero is the means to justify my end. What an end it will be.

“Let’s just get on with it!” Mark inwardly screamed. He had been waiting in line for hours already. Apparently he wasn’t the only one with ideas of being a hero. The City Hall was ridiculously overcrowded, and Mark hated lines. Fortunately, it was almost his turn. “Thank God” he inwardly thought.

Unlike the other would be heroes at City Hall, who were wearing all types of costumes from body armor to flashy tights and everything in between, Mark was dressed like a normal, average everyday person. He wore a pair of faded jeans, along with a white tank top. He had even managed to come up with his sunglasses again. The thoughtful people at Crey had obviously been kind enough to bury them with him. “Thanks a bunch” Mark thought sarcastically. Today was shaping up to be utterly terrible.

“Next!” called the secretary sitting at a desk in a shrill, rather annoying voice.
Mark stepped forward.

“I’m sorry sir, you must be in the wrong line. This is for Heroes only.”

“I am a Hero.” The words sounded strange to Mark, as he uttered the phrase he thought he never would. Deep inside, he still didn’t really believe it himself.

“Oh! I’m sorry sir, I just assumed, since you weren’t wearing…” The secretary started, trying to cover her mistake.

“It’s ok. Let’s just get this done” interrupted Mark, already ready to leave.

“Yes sir. Your name?”

“Call me Sledge.”

“Yes sir, the Incredible Sledge.” The secretary sang merrily.

“No, there is nothing Incredible about me, just Sledge.” Replied Mark as he stared coldly at her.

“Very well. Would you like to list your real name as to perhaps acquire more business opportunities?”

“No, Sledge will be fine thanks.”

“But of course. Down the hall and to the right you will find your first contact. He’s a scientist that works closely with S.E.R.A.P.H.”

Mark didn’t know what Seraph was, or even who for that matter. Then again, he didn’t much care. He gladly took his brand new Hero identification card and headed down the hall. He wasn’t sure why he was even bothering, he had what he needed now, and he seriously doubted he would do any of the man’s biddings.

He made a right into a small room, furnished with only a desk and a few pieces of artwork on the wall. S.E.R.A.P.H. he had found out was nothing more than a meeting place for other Heroes with the same type of origin. Then again, thought Mark, I doubt anyone has an origin quite like mine.

In this room, he sensed that there was something much more to it. Something hidden just beneath the surface. It wasn’t too wild to think that maybe there could be a whole slew of High Tech scientific devices hidden away somewhere. Perhaps behind the bookcase. With recent events, nothing could be too surprising.

He was rudely shaken from his musings when a scientist standing in the corner loudly cleared his throat. Mark hadn’t noticed him before. Mark had a sneaky suspicion that he hadn’t been there when he first entered, but decided not to pursue it. He just wanted to meet his contact, pick up his meager allowance, and be on his way.

“Hello. I am Sledge, your newest recruit I suppose.” Mark started.

“Pleased to meet you, I am Doctor Hall. I will be providing you with a base of operations here in Paragon City. Welcome to S.E.R.A.P.H.” The doctor replied.

Mark didn’t remember much of the following half hour. The doctor rambled on about recent proceedings, life in Paragon, and most dreadfully…his research. Mark was thankful for the small amount of privacy his sunglasses provided, and took the opportunity to catch up on his day dreaming.

“So? You have all that? Here is your allowance, I know it’s not much but being a Hero was never supposed to make you rich, but I’m sure you know that. Remember everything that I’ve imparted to you, it will serve to be important. Also, try to take out a few of those Hellions I told you about. They’ve become a real menace.” The doctor finished.

Mark was brought back to reality as Doctor Hall handed him a small stack of money.

“Good day to you Sledge!” The doctor called.

Mark’s only response was to touch two fingers to his head lightly in a salute. With that, he turned and left.

Mark stepped outside the City Hall, greatly enjoying the cool fresh air as opposed to the hot muggy building. “Some of those Heroes must have already been romping through the sewers looking for Vahzilok judging by the smell of them” Mark thought to himself as he recalled the sweet stench of body odor that had begun to permeate the inside of the City Hall. That was all behind him now though.

“First order of business, I need a costume” Mark thought. He somehow knew his white tank top, jeans and steel toed boots wouldn’t cut it. It was okay though, on the way to the Hall he had heard some talk of a new clothing store specifically for heroes. “Icon” he thought they called it. He figured that was as good a place as any to start with, and began to make his way there through the crowded streets of Paragon.



It seems simple enough, get an I.D. card, collect a small hero’s compensation, get on the road to defeat evil. However, I can’t help but feel as if I’m using Paragon City and S.E.R.A.P.H. for my own selfishness. The job of a Hero is to combat evil. I’m just not combating the evil as Paragon City would like. No one even knows about Crey, and probably wouldn’t believe me if I told them. People love to live in their sheltered, candy-coated world. Case and point, Crey has an assistant technician working on captured Rikti droids at this very moment at the City Hall. The enemy is right there, surrounded by Heroes, under their noses so to speak. He will remain that way. People don’t want the truth, can’t handle the truth. The job of a Hero is to combat evil, in all forms. Then again, doesn’t evil live in the heart of every man? I know not all of the Heroes in Paragon City are without their own tinge of evil. Really, what separates a Villain from a Hero? If evil lives in every man, don’t Villains have the right to try and exterminate that evil? Perhaps these Villains are just fighting evil in there own way. Heroes and Villains are two sides to the same coin. The only separation between the two is there morals and methods. I live for vengeance and kill anyone who gets in my way. What does that make me?

“I’m not too sure about this…” Sledge began.

“Don’t be such a poor sport! It looks great on you” the sales clerk at Icon replied.
Mark slowly turned around a few times in front of a full length mirror, trying to get a feel for his costume. He was dressed in some sort of metallic blue chitin armor. It’s not that it looked bad…really it was a nice piece of armor, but it just didn’t seem to look right. However, he was having trouble telling the sales clerk this.

“No sir. I don’t like it.” Mark finally decided.

“What’s the matter? It doesn’t bring out your eyes enough? Makes your butt look big?” The clerk mocked. They had been at this for over an hour. He knew heroes were particular about their costumes, but this one was being ridiculous.

“I’m not impressed.” Sledge replied, as he stared at the clerk coldly.
“Yes sir.” The clerk visibly gulped.

“I guess I’ll just have to go home and make my own.” Mark said. He was fed up with this shopping experience.

“No! Please sir, don’t do that. Here is another costume we just got in. One of a kind even,” replied the clerk hastily. His company needed this sale. Heroes in town had all been making their own costumes lately, and it was starting to take a toll on Icon’s business.

Reluctantly Mark tried the new costume on. It was an earthy brown piece of Kevlar that clung tightly to his skin. It had a “V” shaped belt that was a light green, and green folded gloves. What was really unique about this costume though, was that it had the design of green veins running all over the suit. The boots were in contrast. They were green with brown veins. It gave him an interesting “bio organic” look. He liked it.
“Not bad…” Mark admitted as he turned slowly, seeing the costume from all sides. “I’ll take it”

The sales clerk breathed a large sigh of relief. Another costume sold, and another step in saving his company.


Twenty minutes later Mark Cannons, newly christened as “Sledge” was back on the streets looking for his apartment complex.

“Whitmoore…Whitmoore. That does sound familiar.” Mark thought to himself. However, as familiar as it sounded, it was apparently extremely well hidden. “Now where is the blasted place!” he thought in frustration.

He was rudely interrupted from his fuming a few seconds later when he heard voices from a neighboring alleyway.

“C’mon lady! Give me the purse before you get hurt!”

“Please, don’t do this!” came the reply, judging from the voice and elderly lady.

Mark knew he was a hero now, but for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to help. The thought that this was happening all over the city, in a million different alleyways, and there were a million old ladies being picked on, was not lost on him. He just didn’t have the time and the energy to stop some mundane purse snatching. It really was a petty crime all things considered. Furthermore, there were thousands of petty thieves in this city. Arresting two wouldn’t change the world. There were more important issues to be dealt with. That is, until he heard…

“Go Bruno! Show her what it means to be a Hellion!”

“Bruno…Bruno?” Mark thought.

Yes, he remembered him now. It occurred to him that the two still had a score to settle. Bruno had tried to kill one of his best friends. Then he realized, if there was anyone most responsible for the series of events that led up to his death, it would be Bruno. He was the one that had forced him to make known his powers. These thoughts fueling his rising anger, Mark turned a 180 and began walking back toward the alley with a purpose.

When he entered the alley he saw them. Three Hellions picking on a little old lady. This would hardly prove to be a challenge, but Mark would relish the revenge. Mark strode forward boldly, silently. The first gang member noticed him. He spun and threw a punch. Mark easily caught him by the wrist, and then casually broke it. The man’s scream of agony was soon ceased as Sledge flung him into the alleyway wall, knocking him unconscious. This took a mere split second, and Sledge continued to make his way purposely forward without so much as a second glance at the now defeated thug.

“It’s the capes! Let’s get out of here Bruno!” the other one cried. With that he turned and ran for dear life.

Bruno wasn’t so lucky. Sledge grabbed him by the front of his leather vest and slammed him against the side of a building.

“Remember me?” Sledge inquired menacingly.

Bruno’s only response was to stutter uncontrollably. Mark took off his sunglasses and repeated the question…quickly losing patience.

“You’re…You’re…You’re the guy from…Cannons.” Bruno managed to finally say, amidst the verbal stumbling.

“Very good. You’ve got a good memory.” Sledge sneered. He was losing
patience with this game, and that didn’t bode well for Bruno. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you?” Sledge asked. He doubted the response would make much of a difference.

“I…I…I can help you. I have connections. You want revenge? I can give you names, addresses, information.” Bruno stuttered as he quickly tried to talk his way out of his situation. He closed one eye and winced as Sledge pulled back his arm, ready to strike him.

“What do you mean ‘connections’?” Mark asked, suddenly seemingly intrigued.
“I can give you a list. I can tell you everyone who was involved with you death.” Bruno babbled.

“How do you know about my death?” Sledge inquired, now even more intrigued.
“Connections,” was Bruno’s only response.

It was worth a shot, was Mark’s reasoning. He trusted Bruno less than he could throw him, but it was worth a shot. “Fine. Meet me back here tomorrow at 4 o’ clock sharp. If you’re not here, I will hunt you down and kill you.” Mark said coldly. “Believe me, I’ll find you too. You’re not the only one with ‘connections’.” It was a bluff, but he doubted he needed to anyway. Bruno was chalk white. He would be too scared to disobey.

With that he dropped Bruno roughly to the ground, and walked away, not looking back. “Whitmoore…Whitmoore…” Mark thought to himself. Bruno slumped against the building he had just been held against by force. “It is going to be one of those days” Bruno thought.



Later that day I did manage to find those Whitmoore Apartments. I wasn’t impressed to say the least. I showed my Hero I.D. card to the man out front. He let me in. Mr. Green or Mr. Yellow or something like that, I can’t remember. I just call him Stanley. He gave me an apartment on the 9th floor. As for the room…it looked a lot like the building did: something out of a horror story. The paint was peeling off the door and all that was in my room was an old dusty sofa and a bed that felt more like a rock than anything else. Good for the back I guess. On the way up I heard many voices coming from a room down the hall, not to mention the delicious smell of pasta. I was dangerously close to knocking on the door. Then I realized I wasn’t invited, and if this apartment was even as close to as small as mine the host or hostess probably wouldn’t appreciate my presence. Plus, I am not a beggar, or a softy. I went back to my room and opened up a can of beans. One other thing caught my eye. As I continued to my room, I noticed a very dangerous looking man loitering in the hallway. Looked every bit like a Hellion to me. Even smelled like one. I didn’t like the man, not one bit. Even though I doubt he truly is a Hellion. Who would be stupid enough to hang out in an apartment complex filled with Heroes? I’ve got to learn to stop judging a book by its cover. Appearances can be deceiving. I should know that best of all.

Sledge stood, leaning against the building where he had discovered Bruno yesterday. He casually checked his watch. 3:58. Mark shifted his weight uneasily. Perhaps Bruno had more fortitude than Mark had given him credit for. Perhaps he wouldn’t show up. Perhaps he had lost his only lead in exacting his revenge. All these thoughts whirled through his mind…until he heard something farther down the alleyway.

“So he did come” Sledge thought, rather pleased with himself. “Let’s see what my ‘friend’ managed to dig up for me.” He started off down the alleyway.

Sledge walked into somewhat of a clearing of sorts. It was where the building and three others converged, forming an open space that was about 30 yards long and just as wide. He was surrounded by brick on all sides…a fact that ominously reminded him of some kind of urban arena. Mark was beginning to grow uneasy. He didn’t like this situation at all.

“Good afternoon” Mark heard the voice call. It was a sinister voice, and reminded Sledge of metal grating on stone.

Sledge, following the voice, looked up to see a man descending from the sky. The strange man came to rest hovering a few feet above the ground. This man was definitely a Hellion, and definitely not Bruno. He was wearing a leather vest and leather pants like most Hellions do, but this one was wearing a strange demon mask as well. Mark couldn’t shake the glow of the man’s fiery red, glowing eyes.

“My name is Rufus, but you may call me The Damned,” the strange man said, in that same sinister voice. “Bruno’s ‘connection’.”

“Perfect,” thought Sledge. He summoned his hammer and prepared for the inevitable.

“You’ve caused my brother much trouble Sledge, But not for much longer” The Damned threatened.

Rufus struck first. Still hovering lightly off the ground, he clenched his fists as his body erupted into a fiery aura. In response, Sledge assumed a defensive stance and eyed the Hellion warily. This might prove to be more of a challenge than he thought.

Rufus raised his hands above his head, and channeled the aura into numerous explosive flares that zipped haphazardly towards Sledge. Our Hero was ready, however, and easily rolled out of the way, dodging the attack. The spot where he had been standing no less than second ago was now thoroughly scorched. A small trail of smoke lazily wafted from the spot, a solemn reminder of what would have happened if he hadn’t dived out of the way.

Sledge didn’t have much time to dwell on the thought. It was his turn for a counterattack. He launched his hammer at the hovering man, who had remained planted thus far in the fight. The hammer sped through the air at neck-breaking speed, the massive head screaming as it flew. The Damned casually dipped his shoulder, and the hammer went sailing past…crashing into the wall of a building and then through it.

The two opponents stood, staring each other down for a long moment, each grudgingly impressed with the other’s talents. Rufus broke the visual lock as he began strafing left, his levitation giving him incredible speed. Not to be outdone, Sledge followed suit on foot, matching his opponent’s pace. Rufus thought to take advantage of the unarmed hero. He hurled a small blast of fire at Sledge with one hand, then followed with an identical blast directly after with his second hand. Sledge ducked under one, but the second caught him in a glancing blow off the shoulder…singeing his new costume and inflicting quite a bit of pain. He merely grimaced and kept running.

They continued to speed left, and were nearing the wall of a building. Rufus brought both hands above his head and began to channel an incredible fireball. He stopped short when he noticed Sledge’s sledgehammer magically reappear in his hands. Sledge heaved the hammer once more. Rufus had to bend backwards, limbo style, just to avoid the incoming missile.

Sledge used the distraction to run up the wall of the building, and jump off, catching Rufus in a powerful flying tackle. They landed hard on the cement, but Sledge wasted no time. He brought his hand back and caught Rufus with an incredible right hook. It would have knocked a normal man out cold. Then again Rufus wasn’t a normal man. Sledge wound up for another punch, but as he did so Rufus spit out a few teeth then took a deep breath. Sledge’s eyebrows raised considerably in surprise. He could guess what was coming next. Sledge dove off the Hellion as Rufus exhaled. A gout of flame engulfed the air…where Sledge had just been standing.

Both men slowly picked themselves off the cement and stood to their feet.
“You can’t dodge me forever.” Rufus panted.

“I could say the same.” Replied Sledge, even though a smile wasn’t evident on either man’s face.

Sledge summoned his hammer once again, and then charged directly at his opponent, letting loose a savage battle cry. Rufus raised his hands, and unleashed the fires of Hell in his wake. Sledge ducked, twisted, and dodged his way around the seemingly endless number of flares that Rufus emitted, but there were just too many. One caught him in the chest, then another. Still another exploded onto his abdomen, the same place he had been shot the night of his wife’s death, a painful reminder. Sledge lurched and then stumbled, then wheezed as he gasped for air. He knew this was it. It surprised him that he would die to this punk. He wouldn’t even begin his revenge. It was over.

Rufus raised both hands above his head, and then unleashed a mighty fireball. It struck Sledge clear in the chest. Sledge took a step backwards then fell to one knee as flames washed over his body. Rufus dispensed a consecutive fireball, this one obscuring Sledge from view. For good measure, and in a fit of fury, Rufus delivered one final blast. This one shook the buildings and even the ground itself in its intensity. Flames exploded in every direction, melting and churning up the pavement, and scorching the sides of the buildings.

Then, everything was silent. The Damned dropped to one knee, breathing heavily; exhausted from his amazing show of power. All that was left of Sledge was the smoke billowing from the spot where he once stood. Bruno walked out of an adjacent alleyway, speechless. He began moving toward his brother, but stopped short when he thought he caught a glimpse of something coming from the smoke.

Sledge stepped forward. His costume was in ribbons and he had serious burns all over his body, but he was still very much alive. A look of horror crossed Rufus’ face as Sledge’s sledgehammer came sailing through the air once again. All three men knew he didn’t have the energy to dodge it. It hit him squarely in the chest, and launched him backwards a dozen yards.

Rufus groaned and tried to sit up, but Sledge was too fast for him. He was now charging, hammer held high. With a feral yell, He brought the hammer down with a sickening thud onto Rufus’ skull…ending their battle once and for all.

The shock on Bruno’s face lasted for only a moment as he turned and tried to run. Sledge’s hand gripping the back of his vest wasn’t conducive to say the least.

“Please don’t kill me” Bruno whined.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t” replied Sledge. The irony wasn’t lost on him that this was the same phrase that had got him into this situation already.

“Please…I have your information.” Bruno pleaded.

“It’s too late for that now” said Sledge. He was growing weary of Bruno’s games
“It’s in my vest. The front pocket. Please don’t kill me.”

Sledge couldn’t help himself. He grabbed the envelop out of said pocket and tore it open. Bruno wasn’t lying this time. Names, dates, addresses, it was all there. Sledge whipped Bruno around, and brought his face very close to Bruno’s.

“You betrayed me. I don’t take that likely.” Sledge growled. Bruno only whimpered. “However, there has already been enough bloodshed today. If I ever see you again, I’ll kill you. Do you understand me?”

Bruno nodded his head vigorously. He couldn’t believe he was going to get off the hook.

“Good.” That said, Sledge wound up and hit Bruno as hard as he could in the jaw, then once more in the face. He flung the unconscious man to the ground, then pulled out Bruno’s wallet from his pants pocket and emptied it of money.

“For the new costume. You understand.” With that Sledge turned and left, having gotten what he came for and more. Bruno let out a moan as his only response.

The sales clerk at Icon groaned. Not THIS guy again. He had been a pain enough the first time he came in, he could only imagine what he wanted now.

Sledge walked up to the counter and said nonchalantly, “You know that one of a kind costume you sold me?”

“Yes…” the clerk replied tentatively

“I need another.”



I should be dead. I felt the flames wash over me, sear my flesh. In all logic, I should be six feet under again. What happened? I’m not entirely sure myself. The only rational explanation is perhaps Crey’s experiment with the invulnerability gene wasn’t the failure they originally thought. Maybe I can’t die? Doubt it. As well as I managed to shrug off The Damned’s blast, I lay in bed about a week straight afterwards, unable to move. No doubt about it though, something is different. However, I know exactly who to talk to in order to find out exactly what. The best part? I was going to be in the neighborhood anyway.

It was a bright and sunny afternoon. However, this only served to contrast one man’s thoughts as he stood outside a large office building. The man stood in the shadows, and any that passed could see the inner turmoil inside of him. He seemed to be arguing back and forth within himself, and his brow was dark and furrowed.

Sledge stood outside of the Crey Industries building. The same building that had already brought him more pain than most people should have to suffer in a lifetime. He willed away these bad memories and started towards the front door. He suppressed the feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him to turn back. This time they wouldn’t be waiting for him. He would have the surprise.

The two guards outside were amiably chatting. It didn’t even occur to them that a dangerous looking man was drawing increasingly near. Sledge didn’t recognize either
one of them, and didn’t feel the need to parley even if he had. The time for talk was over.

“Can I help you si-” one guard started. He didn’t finish his sentence as he caught a meaty punch in the face. He was knocked back against the wall and slid down to a slumping position at a sickeningly slow pace.

The other guard pulled out his gun but it was too late. Sledge grabbed it and ripped it away, then proceeded to toss it off to the side. The security guard managed to get his hands up to shield his body, but didn’t manage to deflect the vicious head butt that came after. He slumped backwards as well, and Sledge strode nonchalantly right through the doors.

“Excuse me sir, do you have an appointment?” the naïve receptionist inquired as Sledge stepped into the lobby.

“Sort of.” Sledge replied as he brought his hammer crashing down onto her desk…splintering it to pieces.

“Oh my god! Help! Someone call the police!” She screamed as she ran from the building in absolute terror.

“Call the police.” The irony was not lost on Sledge. He didn’t have time to sit around and contemplate which side of Good vs. Evil he was on though. A dozen members of Crey’s personal S.W.A.T. team burst into the lobby from two different entrances as a blaring alarm went off inside the building. They opened fire.

Bullets zipped past Sledge and peppered the expensive marble pillars and elegant fountain that furnished the lobby. A few hit Sledge in the chest and ricocheted off. Wait a minute…ricocheted off? Sledge was as surprised as the SWAT members. He looked down at the spot where the shell had just bounced off, and felt a bruise forming. A BRUISE?!?! He had just been hit by a high caliber assault rifle shell. Sledge gingerly touched the area, just to make sure he wasn’t imagining things, and then looked back to his dumbstruck attackers with a rare smile.

He charged the first group, and swung his hammer in a large arc, blasting the assault members backwards, back through the door they had come in from. They all lay on the ground stunned and dazed. He dashed through the door, slammed it closed behind him, and locked it. It was reinforced steel; the other assault team wouldn’t be able to get through. He had to choose his battles wisely or he would end up taking on the whole of Crey Industries, not a pleasant thought…not to mention the fact that those bullets really hurt. He confirmed the thought as he touched one of the forming welts on his skin under the costume.

“No time to waste” he decided and dashed off in search of an elevator. A specific elevator in fact. He reached the hidden elevator this time, without much hassle. It was still in the same place. How predictable, he thought. This time, however, he didn’t press the button to go down to the ‘secret’ basement. He pressed the button for floor 36, and wasn’t quite sure why himself. A gut instinct.

The automated elevator counted off his progress in soft ‘bing’s as he climbed ever higher to his goal.

29…30…31…then, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. Sledge readied himself for whatever could await on the other side. A normal looking business man stepped in beside him. Sledge was more perplexed than he was intimidated.
“Floor 40 please” the quaint man asked. Sledge complied by pressing the button. The doors squealed closed, leaving them as the only two people in the elevator. An awkward, silent moment passed.

“Nice costume” The business man stated. Trying to make conversation.
“Thanks” replied Sledge, unsure of where this conversation was going or what the man’s motives were.

“Where did you get it?”

“Bought it.”

“Really? My son Tommy wants one just like it. You’ll have to tell me where you got it sometime.”

“Sorry, this is my floor” Sledge responded.

“Will I see you on casual dress Friday?”

“Doubt it.” Sledge replied as he stepped out of the elevator and took a look around. The doors closed behind him.

Sledge knew why his instincts brought him here. He stood in a large laboratory type area. There was equipment all around: expensive looking computers, dozens of different mechanical claws and devices, and a large, empty, human-sized test tube in the middle of the room…

His mind involuntarily flashed back to that day, revealing memories that had been too painful to remember. They felt almost, forbidden. He knew he shouldn’t be remembering this, but he couldn’t stop himself.


He was back in the test tube, in pain, so much pain. He looked to the door, saw ‘Area 36’ in large red letters above the mantle. He turned back to look at Mr. Smith, who was laughing maniacally. He couldn’t hear a thing. He slammed the glass, Hard.

“Your wife is dead” he saw Mr. Smith mouth to him through the translucent barrier.

He screamed. He hit the glass again. It cracked. He could see the fear on the scientists face as they began to panic, running from the room. Mr. Smith’s mirth was gone in an instant. He folded his arms over his chest, and waited for Sledge to break through. Sledge did.

He lunged at Smith, murderous intent in his eyes. Sledge’s hands wrapped around his neck. Smith was choking. Dying. Smith hit him hard in the abdomen, once, twice. Sledge didn’t even feel it. He did feel the blast from behind. Something slammed into his back, again and again. He saw a scientist, with a rikti gun, smoking wafting from the barrel. Now he was falling.

“He’s done. We cannot resume the experiment”
“Is it complete?”


Then all he saw was black.


Sledge gripped the wall to steady himself against the barrage of emotions. He was standing in the same room. He saw the broken glass still on the floor. The rikti gun was on a table. The same one? He did not know. However, now the room was empty of scientists. Evacuated most likely.

“I knew you would come back.” Mr. Smith said. Sledge recognized the voice instantly.

“I came for you.” Sledge responded.

“I know.” Mr. Smith stated. “Have you come to kill me?”

“I’ve come for answers, and revenge.”

“There’s only one way to get both.” Mr. Smith stepped out from behind a large metal structure.

The two stared at each other for a long moment. Sledge realized that Smith now had a sleek metal neck brace in addition to his arm, legs and eye. He wondered if perhaps he had done that.

The moment seemed surreal. He had waited for this for so long. The man that had permeated his thoughts for so long was here, in front of him. He felt his hatred rising, but kept it in check. He needed answers from this man almost as much as vengeance. Smith saw this.

“You wife pleaded and cried before I killed her”

The fury Sledge had kept at a simmer boiled over. He lost it.

((This is all i've written up until now. Post or PM comments or critisms. I want to know if someone is reading or not...or ELSE I WONT FINISH IT! feel the suspense.))



This is actually one of my favorite origin stories thus far. I check everyday to see if you have added more. So, please continue with the story I just have to read more.



((Thanks Wallz, that's the kind of encouragement i needed. As for just having to have more, your wish is my command. After reading your post i stayed up most of the night finishing this. This is the (hopefully) thrilling conclusion to the first part of Sledge: Enter the Hammer.))

Sledge charged Mr. Smith with his hammer held high, and a maddening battle cry on his lips.

“Really Mr. Cannons, would you kill all your answers so easi-” Mr. Smith started, but didn’t get to finish as the stone hammer came crashing into his torso. He was flung across the room like a rag doll; his flight only stopped by a very expensive looking computer console…which was subsequently ruined.

“That’s the funny thing about rage,” Mark replied. “It denies all reason.”

“I see. It is a shame then.” was the only response Mr. Smith could muster as he slowly stood to his feet and assumed a fighting stance.

Sledge gripped his hammer so fiercely his knuckles began to turn white inside his gloves. Then, impossibly quick, he charged forward again. However, this time Mr. Smith met the charge head on. Sledge swung his hammer downward in a powerful vertical arc. Mr. Smith, his cybernetic limbs pumping air and oil at an incredible rate to keep up, caught the hammer in mid swing with both hands.

They stood there, locked in stalemate for what seemed like an eternity. Man versus Machine. Mutant versus Technology. Good versus Evil. They stared each other coldly eye to eye, their faces no more than a few inches apart. Both men shook violently due to the sheer strain this test of will placed on them.

They stood there for what seemed like hours, and would have stayed there for hours more, if Mr. Smith hadn’t sent his mechanical knee flying into Sledge’s abdominals. Sledge doubled over in pain, and gagged…fighting back the urge to vomit. He fell to his knees in agony, breathing heavily. Mr. Smith regarded him silently for a moment, before a vicious right hook sent Sledge skidding across the laboratory floor into another impossibly expensive computer console. Sparks erupted from the console this time, and a small fire formed on its control panel.

Sledge rose to his feet, and brushed himself off. He looked at Mr. Smith with a renewed determination burning brightly in his eyes, and was careful not to show any sign of pain or weakness. He took of his now shattered sunglasses, folded them neatly, and tossed them aside. “Those were my favorite pair of sunglasses [censored]” he stated calmly, his voice far too mellow.

Then, Sledge called his stone hammer to him once more and, in a fit of unbridled anger, spun in a circle, using the increased momentum to hurl his hammer at an alarming rate toward Mr. Smith’s head.

Mr. Smith was running on pure instinct now. He twisted and bent over backwards to try and avoid the hammer, but he wasn’t fast enough. It connected heavily with his left shoulder, and ripped off the better half of his mechanical arm. He stood there, staring at his shattered arm dumbly, as the oil dribbled to the floor and electrical surges emanated haphazardly from the destroyed remains.

Sledge was never the kind of man to let opportunities pass by unseized. He was upon Smith before he realized it, and his hands were once again at the man’s throat, like they had been that day seemingly so long ago.

Mr. Smith wheezed, now fighting for air against the fingers wrapped around his throat. Sledge only squeezed harder. Mr. Smith tried to say something, but all that came out was a non distinct gurgle. Sledge wasn’t about to loosen his grip. He realized the death of this man, the man that had murdered his wife and ruined his life, was worth having all of his questions left unanswered. Forever.

He was so intent on this emotion, so intent on the kill, he didn’t see Mr. Smith building up energy in his palm…in the palm of his remaining good hand. In a sudden flash of white light, of pure energy, Sledge was thrown violently backwards and crashed into the glass containment case in the center of the room. The containment case he had been trapped in not so long ago. The glass shattered under his weight.

Mr. Smith was on his knees now, breathing heavily.

“It’s over” he thought. He thought wrong.

Sledge arose from the glass case, like some monolithic figure from a forgotten time. Glass shards fell from his shoulders and his hair, but he seemed not to notice. His face was emotionless, which scared Smith more than any visage of rage ever would. He stepped from the containment case, slowly. One step, two steps. The glass crunching seemingly noisy under his feet. It was the only sound that could be heard. He stuck his hand out to his side, and in a swirl of dust and stone, his stone sledge hammer returned to him. He spread his feet shoulder width apart, and crouched low,assuming his battle stance, then began his charge.

The silence was broken by a gut wrenching scream of hysteria, of rage, of vengeance. The six-foot five inch, 280 pound man lurched forward, brandishing his stone hammer. He was moving incredibly fast, faster than any man Mr. Smith had ever seen, yet everything seemed to move in slow motion. Sledge ran forward, each step bringing him closer to Mr. Smith, each step reverberating off the ground, like dozens of miniature earthquakes. Smith watched each step in horror, knowing it each one was bringing him steadily closer to the end of his life. Like a golden juggernaut Sledge charged, unimpeded by anything in this world or the next, only driven by one emotion: hatred. It was then Mr. Smith realized there was nothing that would ever stop this man. There was nothing he, nay Crey in whole, could ever do to keep themselves safe. He knew now that he would hunt down every man or woman responsible for his death, and return the morbid favor.

Mr. Smith blinked, then closed his eyes, waiting for the end to come. He felt an incredible impact explode against the side of his head. It was almost indescribable. He felt extreme pain unlike any he had ever known as his neck shattered into a million different pieces and his skull crumbled under the impact. His head whipped around sickeningly, and he felt himself falling, constantly falling, seemingly a hundred miles until he recognized the cool touch of tile to his face.

He struggled to open his eyes. They were now crusted with blood. His own. He saw Sledge standing there, hammer at his side, staring intently at him.

“I knew you would come” Smith murmured, almost whispered, in seemingly an inaudible voice.

“It’s finished” Sledge replied.

“It’s only just begun” Smith corrected as he drew his final breath and closed his eyes, forever.

Mark Cannons stood there for a long moment, wandering about the truth of the man’s final words. He was shaken from his reverie as the corpse violently exploded, throwing him backwards. However, it didn’t stop there. Flames spread to all of the high tech equipment gracing the lab, and soon each of those were caught up in their own violent ruptures. Sledge instinctively knew that the entire lab would soon be a flaming pyre of death, as if Mr. Smith was striking back from the grave.

“It’s only just begun” kept ringing through Sledge’s ears as he frantically searched for a way out. He ran through the lab at a breathtaking speed, the flames and explosions following closely, nipping at his heels. He finally reached the end of the lab, and was filled with dismay. It ended in a large glass window. He knew he was 36 stories off of the ground, and knew he would never be able to survive the jump. Then again, he didn’t have much choice. He paused and looked briefly over his shoulder…just in time to see the explosion come up behind him, and hurl him into the air and out the window.

Glass shattered as Sledge was flung from the 36th story of Crey Industries, a fiery inferno close behind him. He frantically flayed his arms, but knew it would do no good. He took a deep breathe, spread his hands out to his sides, and assumed a graceful swan dive. He plummeted to the earth, his eyes closed and his hands out wide, ready to accept death. He landed forcefully on his back, destroying the hood of a beautiful sports car parked outside the building, and set off the car’s alarm.

It all happened in the fraction of a second. A Lady, a bystander, screamed. All chaos broke loose. In retrospect, people would talk about what had really happened for weeks to come. The Hero’s Inquirer claims to this day the Rikti had invaded once again.

To be continued…



Ouch. Yes…ouch. You would say the same thing if you fell out of a 36 story window wouldn’t you? Actually, you’d probably say worse, but this is a family friendly story, so we won’t get into that. Nonetheless, lying there on the hood of someone’s expensive sports car was quite the wake up call. After I assured myself for the hundredth time I wasn’t dead, I began to think.
It occurred to me for the first time what really happened up there. For the first time I saw a view that wasn’t biased by rage or vengeance. It appeared to me now, that both had been played out. I had gotten my revenge on the man that had killed my wife. It seems the story of my origin has played itself out. I know I haven’t toppled Crey, or rid the world of evil…but I guess I never really aimed to. There are plenty of other Heroes for that. I was never an altruist. I’ll hang up my superhero duds for a while, as much as I was getting used to them. Crey will watch me go, without moving a hand against me. They’ve seen what I’m capable of. They’ll let me walk away. They don’t have much of a choice otherwise. I think I’ve spent enough time as Sledge for one lifetime. It’s time to be Mark Cannons again.

The figure that was firmly implanted in the twisted steel and glass of the vehicle let out a soft moan. “Ouch” Mark Cannons thought…and not for the last time. He tried to lift his head, even a little bit.


He lay back down.

“I think someone should call an ambulance.” A lady wearing a large purple feathered hat said from the now growing crowd.

Sledge sat up painfully from the twisted wreckage and murmured, “Does it look like I need an ambulance?” As an afterthought he said, “Don’t answer that”

He scooted off the ruins of the beautiful car and slowly, ever so slowly, began to brush himself off. Inwardly, he was proud he didn’t mumble another “Ouch”. He felt like he could have.

A few seconds later he realized that he was completely covered in dust and glass. There were hundreds of tiny cuts lining his body. He suddenly felt very silly trying to brush off. “Another perfectly good costume ruined” He thought. “Ole Rico Suave at Icon is going to go ballistic” he inwardly reasoned. The thought brought a smile to his face, regardless. Regardless of how a man that just fell out of a 36 story building shouldn’t have anything to smile about. Regardless of the fact that it made him look completely absurd to the still growing crowd. Regardless that it pained every muscle and bone in his body to do so.

“I think I need a vacation” he said aloud. This brought a few nervous chuckles from the awestruck crowd, but that didn’t really matter…he had never wanted to be a comedian anyway. He had never wanted to be a lot of things. Nonetheless, it still struck him profoundly how this increasingly large group of business men and women regarded him. It was if they were children, seeing the ocean or a candy store for the first time. Total awe. Sledge realized that to these people, he was their symbolic candy store. He and his fellow Heroes were want made life “sweet” for these people; worth living.

“I think I need a vacation” he said again. This time silently. Plus, he had already decided. There would be no more Sledge, just good ole Mark Cannons. He needed to start his life over. He needed to do a few things for himself. Screw the rest of Paragon City, he needed some “me” time.

With that he walked off into the sunset…Well, it was more of a limp really. A painful one at that. And…the sun didn’t really set in the back of an alley he was walking towards. One thing was for sure though, he was walking away from Crey…hopefully back to the Whitmoore, he realized later. He was. He mumbled “I think I need a vacation” one last time…then as an afterthought added “Ouch.”

However, poor naïve Mark Cannons made one mistake…he thought he could just walk away. Walk away from his life, walk away from his duties, and walk away from his enemies. Someone forgot to tell him…you can never walk far enough in a lifetime to rid yourself of these things.

“Countess! You have an extremely urgent phone call on line 3,” Countess Crey’s young secretary Debbie called at her from her desk.

The Countess normally ignored the ramblings of her incompetent secretary. Honestly, she didn’t know why she still kept her around. However, something in her assistant’s voice perked an interest in her, so she took the call.

“Hello? This had better be important”

“Yes, Yes Ma’am it is. It’s about the rogue experiment.”

“Ah yes, experiment 32510 if I remember correctly?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“The one we let go in “the wild” so to speak, so we could test our genius in real life situations”

“Yes…well…umm…The subject performed well…”

“How well?”

“Well enough to destroy Area 36 in its entirety, Kill Mr. Smith, survive an impossible explosion and endure a 36 story drop with seemingly no serious injuries…”

“There’s more isn’t there?”

“How did you...?”

“There’s always more.”

“Well, we have him on recording saying that he’s looking for answers…answers only Crey can give him. He said he won’t stop until he finds the truth, about himself.”

“You know what this means?”

“We’re going to be destroyed from the inside out by our own experiment?”

“Don’t be stupid. Is the latest experiment ready?”

“No ma’am. He is still in the final stages of his objective programming.”

“Meaning what?”

“If we release him now, he could go haywire, he might forget everything, including his target, his objective.”

“We don’t have much of a choice now do we? Release him immediately”

“But the consequences…”

“Do you have any inkling of who you are talking to?!?! I am full aware of the possible consequences, but if we don’t act and act now he will strike again. He will bring Crey to its knees and I won’t…can’t allow that. We must fight fire with fire.”

“Yes Ma’am”

Both conspirators hung up the phone. “Does the experiment have a solid grasp of his objective?” The conspirator called into the dank underground laboratory to a dozen other milling scientists.

“Ask him for yourself” another scientist yelled back.

The conspirator walked up to the human sized test tube, squinted as he tried to see the experiment beyond the thick liquid casing that held him suspended. He could only see an outline of a man. ‘All as well’ he thought. He called…

“Jonathon. Jonathon Darke?”

The experiment’s head rose, and two eerily red eyes seemed to light up in answer.

“What is your objective?”

“To kill. To assassinate. To eliminate that which stands against Crey.” Came the chilling reply. It was spoken in complete cool confidence. The thing’s voice sounded just like the reply. Calm, calculated, chilling, almost ghost-like. “Who is my target?” the monster asked. Not from any sense of interest or pleasure, only necessity. Necessity to fulfill its master’s bidding. Necessity to Kill.

“Mark Cannons. AKA Sledge.”