Spartan: Reckoning

By: Thomas Waters

One

It was a chilly Thursday afternoon in mid-November as Leon Allain, Jackson Crichton, and Briana Walker sat at Mac's Burger Joint in Xavier City, a few miles east of Riverside. Cars drove by, honking. Drivers screamed. Typical city life.

"Ugh," Leon said. "I've got a five page report due for economics tomorrow." He was your average teenager, with an average height and build, black hair, and brown eyes, a supplement to Jackson's stocky build and blonde-brown hair. "What's it on?" Jackson asked, scratching his head and yawning. Leon stared at him. "Economics. Pay attention, ass." Jackson glared, and Briana, a short, pretty girl with dirty blonde hair laughed only half-heartedly.

"What's eating you?" Leon asked. "Nothing," Briana replied, shaking her head. "Something's up," Leon countered. "I can feel it." Briana stared at him skeptically. "You can, can you?" Leon smirked. "Come on, you know you can trust me. Jackson, not so much."

Leon glanced at Jackson, who was proverbially foaming at the mouth, then looked back at Briana. "Come on, Bree." After a minute, Briana looked away, saying, "It's Kyle."

Leon fought the urge to look at Jackson, feeling his eyes penetrating his skull. "He said he'd meet us here, and it's been a half-hour. I swear to God, he's one of my best friends and all, but…he's never around anymore. He keeps making all of these promises, but he never delivers. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother!"

This time, Leon gave into his urge, and looked at Jackson. Worry creased his friends face, and with good reason. They, along with Kyle's father, were the only people who knew of Kyle's greatest secret, and the reason he was never there…

"Listen," Jackson began, "Kyle wants to be here. He really does! But there are important things he has to take care of. He's a very important man!"

"He's fifteen years old!" Briana retorted. "He's a teenager, the most important things in a normal teenagers life are, in order, family, friends, and school! So, let me ask you, Jackson, why is Kyle Wyatt so god damn important!"

"Erm…" Jackson muttered. "He's…" "His dad needs his help at home," Leon interjected, knowing that Jackson was about to reveal Kyle's secret. "Right, Jackie Boy?" Staring at him, initially incredulous but then realizing what he was about to say, Jackson replied, "Right, Leon."

That is what I, Kyle Wyatt, heard as I flew past Mac's Burgers, chasing after a gigantic mechanical serpent…worm…thing…

But let's back it up. I'm Kyle Wyatt, fifteen years old and a junior in Xavier High School. I'm also Spartan, the worlds only superhero. I was giving amazing powers as a result of my fathers Phoenix vaccine, which was intended to cure cancer. Needless to say, that didn't work out quite as he expected. I fought people ranging from common bank robbers to a crazed organization called Adventus, who wanted to use me to conquer the world.

That was a year ago. Now, I'm stuck chasing a crazy scientist who has control of a robotic serpent that's destroyed a laboratory filled with…other scientists. After saving all the scientists I could, I went after this loon.

His name is Dr. Vance Arwin. That's all I was able to get from the terrified scientists I rescued before I dropped them off at the hospital.

But enough about him. The serpent (as I will refer to it) tore through the city, destroying everything in sight. Using my hearing to make sure no civilians were hurt, I continued to pursue him. The thing was fast; I'll give him that. The guy could make a damned quick mechanical serpent. Of course, I have no idea where that would get him in life. "Note to self," muttered. "Ask loon why he built a giant mechanical serpent."

As if in retort to my words, gun turrets popped out of the machinations back and immediately started firing hundreds of shots per second at me. I'll never get why people, knowing I'm bulletproof, keep shooting me with bullets. One of life's great mysteries, I guess.

The shells bounced off with ease, somewhat tickling me each time. Not in the mood to be tickled, I used my heat vision at its highest intensity to melt the turrets. My hearing picked up Dr. Arwin cursing. Now, normally I don't get pleasure from people's pain, but this guy made me smirk.

I launched a webline and attached it to the serpent's body, and began to "surf" on it, trying to use my great strength to control it. It didn't work. Its movements were too erratic for me to control. I let go of the webline and kicked off, propelling myself into the air. I hovered for a moment, trying to concoct a plan.

I never got the chance, as the thing threw fire at me from its nose. My Battle Sense warned me just in time, and I jerked to the right, narrowly avoiding the flames. I may be invincible, but the flames still singe me. The worm kept at it, spurting wave after wave of flame at me. This doctor really wanted me dead!

After keeping up this dance for five minutes, the doctor had enough, and launched a continuous stream of fire at me. Thinking fast, I dove right into the flame, and afterwards through the nose.

A minute later, the serpent went rigid, and I emerged from its ass holding a grumbling Dr. Arwin by the neck of his lab coat. He was a frail man, no hair except for random gray patches on the side. He also had horn-rimmed glasses taped together. The overall appearance of thus guy was rather comical.

"So, Doc," I said. "I've been meaning to ask you: Who in the world wants a giant mechanical snake? I mean seriously, what would you do with it…besides trying to destroy a city, because that in itself is pointless, seeing as I would stop you. Because, you see, Spartan always manages to save the day."

Cheesy, I know, but true. "Rein it in, Spartan," a lazy yet confident voice called. I turned and saw Sarge, my connection to the Xavier City Police Department. I webbed the good doctors hands and feet together, then handed him to Sarge's underlings.

"Who is this guy, anyway?" I asked. "Besides Dr. Vance Arwin, I mean." Sarge pulled a file out and flipped through it. "Dr. Vance Arwin, aged fifty-three. He was fired from Zenith, the lab he blew up, for suggesting that they use mechanical animals, much like that worm thing, to conquer the world. Funny, huh?"

When Sarge said 'conquer world', I froze. Ever since my encounter with Dean Murdoch, evil plans for world domination haven't appealed to me. "Not really," I said coldly. I didn't mean to sound so cold, but I had to make a point. Sarge got it. "Um…right. Sorry." "No worries," I sighed. Because of my being Spartan, my friends suffered for it. Including Sarge. My friends…dammit!

"Sarge, what time is it?" I demanded. He checked his phone. Four-o'five, why do you ask?" I looked up in the air. "SHIT! Sorry, but I gotta go!" Without waiting for him to answer, I took off into the sky.

A half-minute later, I landed behind Mac's, where I was supposed to meet my friends over an hour ago. I changed back and became Kyle Wyatt, student, again.

I walked into Mac's and saw it was empty. Except for Mac, who waved me forward when he saw me. He was a middle aged, bald, heavyset man, who at first seemed gruff, but was overall a nice guy. "Your friends left here about fifteen minutes ago," Mac said. "Said that if you should ever stop on by to tell you that."

I lowered my head, cursing myself silently. "Thanks, Mac," I muttered as I walked out of the restaurant.

Two

I ran home, thinking about how much I screwed up. It wouldn't be such a big deal if this were the first time. No, this is more like the forty-second time. I berated myself mentally until I got home, where I found my father, Thomas Wyatt, sitting on his chair, mulling over a piece of paper. "Hey Dad," I said, sitting on the couch opposite him. No answer. I tried to get a good look at the paper he had in his hand, to no avail. "I don't wanna know what that paper is, do I?"

Dad grunted and tossed it at me. Lo and behold, it was my report card. I quickly scanned through all the grades; C's in everything (except in Math, in which I got a D in). I looked up from the paper, staring right into my Dad's eyes, which were burning with anger. "You better shape up next quarter, Kyle. If you don't…" He left the sentence hanging, like a threat, which I knew it was.

"If I don't what, Padre?" I retorted. Dad moved back, as If punched him. "It's fairly obvious, Kyle. No friends, no T.V., and no video games." It was as I thought. He's been threatening me with that ever since I went back in time. That was when I started getting dumber. Still, I needed to ask something else. "What about my being Spartan?" "Don't be silly," Dad said dismissively. "The people-the world-needs Spartan."

I got up and went towards the stairs. "The world may need Spartan, but I sure as hell don't."

I went up to my room, thinking of the hell my life's become since May. Briana didn't talk to me again until August, and that was only because of Leon's help. I've been trying to work up the courage to tell her everything, but every time I get remotely close, I have to go save the day. This has been going on for months now. It sucks donkey balls.

I walked over to my dresser and pulled out a five-page (front and back) letter, written for Briana. In this letter, I explained everything to her: how I got my powers, my life as Spartan, and lastly, how I feel about her. I read through the letter, just to remember what I wrote. Reading it, I felt sad. Then angry. Instantly, the letter began to burn up. I sighed and just sat there until the paper was nothing more than a pile of ashes.
When I was done cleaning up the pile of ashes, I lay back on my bed and looked at the calendar. November the fourteenth. One week before my birthday. I closed my eyes, and before I knew it, I was sleeping.

My dream was an interesting one, as well as a recurring one. I've been having it for a few moths now, and every time it's the same thing. It showed me (in my school uniform) fighting against Spartan. Spartan always wins, and then proceeds to consume me. That's when I wake up.

Like now. I awoke, just in time for Dad to call me down for dinner. I shook off the dream; as I had done so many times before, and went down to eat.

Three

The rest of that Thursday went on without incident. On Friday, after school, I was walking home when I saw an elderly man in my path. This was made interesting by the fact that he was wearing a glowing robe. "Excuse me," I said. The man turned and faced me. His hear was chalk white, as was his beard, but the rest of him seemed quite normal. Except for the fact that he was wearing a glowing robe. "Certainly, Spartan," he said, gesturing me to move forward.

"Thanks-" I began, before realizing what he said. "Um…what did you call me?" The man smiled pleasantly. "Spartan. That is who you are, is it not, Kyle Wyatt?" I glared at the man. "Who the hell are you?" I demanded.

The man bowed. "Of course, how rude of me. I am the human avatar of Destiny, and I've come to change yours. For the better, I hope."

Confused outta my mind, I asked, "What do you mean? How do you know I'm Spartan?" I whispered the last part, so that no one would hear. "Destiny" held his hands out placating. "I know all, young hero. You have been Spartan for a year now, and you have no rewards to show for it. Such a shame. Such a shame! That is about to change." I looked at him quizzically. I admit the man intrigued me, though I am not sure if he was legit. "Go on," I said.

"I have been granted authority by the powers that be to alter your destiny. I can make it so that your mother, Nina Wyatt, had never died. This will make it so you never received your powers, and thus Spartan never existed. A regrettable side-effect, but I think the pay-off is worth it."

I looked at him sharply. "What!" I said angrily. The truth was, I wasn't angry, but confused. Destiny continued to smile at me. It was, for lack of a better term, annoying. "If you willed it, Kyle Wyatt, I can make it so that your mother never died, and thus Spartan, the apparent bane of your existence, would never have been born."

"Thanks for the offer, "Destiny", but no thanks" I said, arms crossed. "The world needs Spartan."

"But you don't," Destiny said, repeating my own words to me. I snarled. "If you ever change your mind, just say my name. I do hope you reconsider."

Before I could respond, the enigmatic man disappeared in a bright light, leaving me alone, deep in thought.

Four

On Monday afternoon, as soon as the bell rang, me, Leon, Jackson, and Briana burst out of the front doors as fast as humanly possible (I say humanly because I could go faster, but a) Briana still doesn't know, and b) that would leave my friends behind to deal with…it).

We eventually made it to Mac's, and hid behind the building. "It's everywhere!" Leon gasped. "Why does it want you again?" I asked. Leon just shrugged. We all started to remotely breathe again when we heard a ragged breathing. We all turned around and saw Sara Shinlye behind us.

Sara is supposedly a girl, but that's open to debate. Think of every disease-ridden hooker you've ever seen, and then multiply that by ten. That's Sara Shinlye. She has brown hair that looks like it hasn't been washed in years, huge-ass eyes that look as if they're looking inside you, and what she claims to be acne all around her upper lip. Forget Adventus, forget mad scientists. My true enemy was the human incarnation of Herpes.

"Get the hell outta here, whore monkey," I growled, as Leon started backing away. She turned and glared at me. "It'th a free country, athhole!" I rolled my eyes. She used that excuse all the freaking time.

Sara started to move towards Leon again, and thus moving towards the rest of us. Leon continued to back away, wearing a mixture of anger and fear on his face; Jackson sat in a ball, muttering, "The Disease…. The Disease…"; I ran and hid behind Briana, who proceeded to hide behind me.

Leon stole a covert glance at me. It was clear he wanted me to help him. Thinking quickly, I used my heat vision and melted Sara's shoes to the ground. "Move it," I screamed.

My friends didn't need to hear it twice. As soon as the words left my lips, they made a break for it, leaving Sara screaming, "Leon! Why don't you love me?"

Without paying her second thought, we kept running. Without stopping, Jackson told Leon, "Never trust a girl with a lisp!" Leon responded, "I'm never making that mistake again!"

When we were a safe distance away, we stopped and laughed. Well, Jackson, Briana, and I laughed. Leon cried. "What I wanna know," Briana laughed. "Is why she didn't come after us. I mean, when has she ever stopped chasing Leon before?"

I had to think fast. Leon glanced at me through his teary eyes, and Jackson avoided my eyes, knowing that he'd say something stupid. "Um…maybe she had to go to the bathroom?" Lame, I know. But it was the best I could do on such short notice. Jackson snorted. "Silly Kyle, whore monkeys can't use the bathroom."

This got a laugh from everyone. When everyone was done, Briana turned to me. "I'm glad you could come today, Kyle. Even under the circumstances…"

I smiled, wondering what would happen if I had to save someone from a fire, which would have prevented me from saving my friends from whore monkey.

Sirens interrupted my thoughts. Listening in on the e-band, I learned there was a, you guessed it, fire. I quickly excused myself, pretending my phone was vibrating. Before I left, I cast significant looks over at Leon and Jackson. They nodded. We'd established protocols in case something like this ever came up. This was one of them.

When a certain period of time had elapsed, Leon would fake getting a call on his cell phone. The "call" would say I had to run home to help my Dad with something (Leon would decide what).

I ran into the nearby alleyway and ripped open my shirt, revealing Spartan's 'S' and changing into my costumed counterpart once more. I propelled myself in the air, and flew towards the fire, while cursing myself silently for leaving my friends behind.

Five

A minute later I arrived at a burning apartment complex. On the roof of the burning building was a man who looked to be in his twenties. His hair was spiked bleach blonde, and he was wearing armor that looked to be the color of ember. On his wrists were what appeared to be portable flamethrowers. I heard him screaming random crap about the apocalypse and the like, when he said, "Adventus will rule you all! And you will love it!"

My first thought was that he was am Adventus fanatic, but after looking at his armor I found the design to be similar to the mech suit that Dean Murdoch battled me in. I flew and landed on the building right in front of the Adventi. When he saw me he smiled wickedly. "So, this is Spartan. My masters told me about you. They said you have great power…" The Adventi (I will now refer to him as Flamehead) dashed at me with phenomenal speed, almost as fast as my own. In an instant, he was in front of me. "…But no skill." Flamehead punched me, and I dodged. "No skill, eh?" I asked.

While the two of us engaged blows, I was working out a way to beat this clown. His armor obviously gave him enhanced abilities, many of which mimicked my own. Heat vision wouldn't work on a guy whose primary attribute is fire. It looked like I'd just have to beat him down, which would be a problem. You see, I don't have any real combat skills. I usually just rely on my strength and agility to get me through a fight. That usually works, as most of the people I fight have no powers. But now, as I fight a trained warrior with similar physical traits as me, I'm in for a though fight. That, and the fact that I have to save people in the burning building.

Flamehead charged at me, so I leaped over him and kicked him in the back. As he staggered, I attached a webline to his back and yanked him back towards me. As I turned him around, he aimed his flamethrower at my face. Before I could react, he activated it, and spurted out not flames, but a blue gas thing.

I coughed, and let the bastard go. He ran for the edge of the building and leaped off, and before I could even register what was happening, I heard the sound of a neck snapping. I ran over to the edge and saw Flamehead's now deceased body on the ground, a pool of blood flowing from under him. Civilians crowded around the corpse, and an ambulance was arriving. Luckily for me they saw the guy jump, otherwise I'd have a citywide manhunt on my head.

Realizing that I still had people to save in the building, I leaped off the edge, attached a webline to a window frame, and swung into the inferno. I remember thinking that I'd finally entered hell.

As soon as I landed, I heard terrified screams coming from all directions. I keeled over and put my hands over my ears. I still hadn't fine-tuned my hearing to learn how to shield out all the excess. I even have to sleep with sound dampeners over my ears so I don't suffer from insomnia. It's a good thing I always keep an ear out for sirens, eh?

Centering myself a minute later, I found that the screams had stopped. Hoping I wasn't too late, I ran to the place where I heard the first scream: a closet. Inside was a woman. She was dead, and it was my fault. Swearing, I ran to the other five sites. Each site had a dead person.

At the last site I dropped to my knees, a teenager defeated. Because of my self-pity, my battle sense had shut down, and I failed to sense that the building was about to blow. When it finally did, I was caught completely off guard and flung from the building.

I fell for a while. I didn't even notice, as I was busy feeling guilty. I finally snapped out of it when Sarge said, "Spartan?" I looked up and saw I was in his arms. He must have caught me. At the time, I wish he hadn't. I leaped out onto the ground. "You didn't have to catch me. I would have stopped myself," I growled. "Uh-huh. I saw you, Spartan. You weren't there. What happened?"

I turned and glared at Sarge. "For the first time in my career, I failed. Everyone who couldn't get out of that building is dead. Because of me." Sarge looked shocked and sympathetic. "Everyone fails sometimes. Even you can't save everyone."

I turned away, whispering, "But Spartan always saves the day…" before flying back into the sky.

Six

That night, I slept poorly, dreaming of myself constantly failing in everything, not just being Spartan. I was aware I was dreaming, but I couldn't wake myself up. The images I saw were horrible, so bad that I won't say them. Just picture your whole life crashing before your eyes, and you could do nothing to stop it. That's what I dreamed.

I was finally forced awake by my alarm clock. Time to get ready for school. I passed a mirror and looked at myself. I was paler than usual, and my hair was wet with sweat. Giving credit to my dreams for it, as well as my guilt, I showered and got ready for class.

The school day was, to put it bluntly, crap. My mind was everywhere, and at the same time nowhere. I was pretty sure that I failed my math test. I got yelled at five times before lunch for not paying attention. Needless to say, my day was bad.

At lunch I sat alone, feeling like major crap. Not only was I still super pale, but my hair was still sweaty and I couldn't stop twitching. You know how you feel when you first get a cold? That's what I felt like.

Eventually, my friends came over to my table and sat with me. Briana asked, "What's up with you today, Kyle? I mean, in class today it was like you weren't there. And, no offense, but you look like hammered crap."

Ignoring her last part, I mumbled, "It's nothing." She didn't take the hint to drop it. "Come on…you know you can tell me." I tried ignoring her, hoping she'd give it up. But she kept prodding. Finally, I snapped. "IT'S NOTHING!" I screamed, causing Briana to cry and run to the girls room. Shocked by what I'd done, I got up from my seat and made my way to the exit, but I was halted by Leon and Jackson's cries. "Kyle!" Jackson yelled. "What the hell was that about?" "Nothing," I hissed. I looked side to side. I had to get out of the cafeteria. I needed to figure things out. Like why I screamed at the girl I loved.

"Nothing?" Leon asked. "Then why did you yell at Briana about 'nothing', huh?" Becoming incredibly angry, I threw the both of them to the ground, and, seeing as I have super strength, this threw them quite far.

Horrified at what I'd done, I sped away, becoming Spartan but not putting the mask or glasses on.

I finally arrived at my destination: my mother's grave. I told her everything that happened, and how I didn't feel like I was in control of myself anymore. "That could all change, Spartan," an ethereal voice said.

I turned around sharply and saw Destiny standing behind me. Angered again, I lunged at him, but he vanished. Reappearing, he said, "I see the strain of being a hero is getting to you, Spartan."

Is that really what this all is, I thought. Stress? "What should I do?" I asked wearily. "Accept my offer," Destiny said. "Everything will be set right if you do. You will never have hurt your friends." That got my attention. "No one will remember?" "No, Spartan. No one will remember. Not even you."

"What must I do?" I sighed. I mean, I did my good deeds. I sacrificed my own happiness for a year! I deserved something…and maybe, just maybe, I could be with Briana. "Close your eyes," Destiny said. I did so. "Imagine what you want the most in the whole world." I imagined my mother never dying, and a second later, a buzzing started to fill my head, growing stronger and stronger until the world went black. The last thing I remember hearing was, "Happy Birthday, Spartan."

Seven: Leon

My name is Leon Allain. I am the best friend of Kyle Wyatt, and one of three confidantes who know that he is Spartan.

Jackson, Briana, and I walked home from school on November 21st, just like we always did. The only difference was that we hadn't seen Kyle at all today. I admit, I was somewhat angry with him, seeing as he used his strength on me and Jackson yesterday, but that didn't stop me from worrying about him. I'm not even sure how I know, but I think something was wrong with him, and that's why he acted the way he did.

"Where was Kyle today?" Jackson asked. "It's his birthday, so he probably skipped," I replied. I wouldn't put it past him. Having great power does come with advantages. "Either way, who the hell cares?" Briana asked. She sounded close to yelling. Or crying. I can never tell. It was obvious she was upset, and with good reason. In all the time they knew each other, Briana and Kyle had never gotten into a fight. It was no secret that Kyle pretty much loved Briana, and, using my friendly intuition, I'm pretty sure she felt similar feelings for him, if not the same. Jackson would as well, if he paid more attention. He's a good friend of mine, but he tends to miss life's details. But that didn't stop him from worrying about his friend, and I admire him immensely for that.

Judging from his facial expression, he was going to start yelling at Briana. But before he could, a Mustang raced down the street, definitely breaking the speed limit, followed by three cop cars, also breaking the speed limit. Knowing Kyle, he'd show up soon. Even on his birthday, he puts his heroic responsibilities before his own enjoyment. And that's why he's the best hero this world will ever know.

"Well, this will brighten up my day," Briana said. "Spartan should be flying by any second now." I laughed to myself. The two of us shared the same brain waves. It also kind of pained me that Briana loved Spartan more each day, but everyday she siphoned that love to him from Kyle.

But Kyle/Spartan never flew by. Jackson and I exchanged bewildered looks. He was probably thinking the same thing as me: Where's Kyle? Worried, I said, "Hey, uh…let's stop by Kyle's for a minute." Briana looked at me, with an odd look on her face. "Why? Why should we stop to see him after yesterday?"

She had me there. I must admit, the girl was good. "There's chocolate cake," Jackson said. I smirked, as his plan was genius. Briana could never resist chocolate. "Well…," she said, thinking. "Alright. But just for the cake. And I'm not talking to Kyle." I sighed, but it didn't really matter. It was just Jackson and me who needed to talk to him anyway. "Uh, guys?" Jackson stammered, pointing. I looked where he was pointing and saw Sara Shinlye headed my way. "Fuck…" I muttered. I don't know why she was obsessed with me, but she was, and that was all that mattered. And I didn't have Kyle here to bail me out, so I did what any sane person would do, and ran.

After dodging Shinlye, the three of us made our way to the Wyatt Residence. Jackson rang the bell, and a minute later Dr. Wyatt came to the door, dressed in his scrubs. "Ah, Leon, Jackson. And…I'm sorry, who are you?" he asked, smiling, referring to Briana. She introduced herself, and afterwards I asked if Kyle was home, and the smile slid off his face. Concerned, he invited us inside. Briana, looking uncomfortable, said she'd wait in the living room, so we went into the kitchen.

"He's not with you?" he asked me in a hushed voice. Confused, I told him no. This caused him to go into a state of considerable panic. Dr. Wyatt started muttering very fast, so I couldn't understand him. At times like this he reminded me of Kyle. So I did what I'd do to Kyle if he were in the situation. I grabbed the man by the shoulders, and said, "Calm down and tell me everything." Dr. Wyatt took a deep breath, nodded, and said, "I got a call from Kyle last night, saying that he was sleeping over at your house, Leon. I ok'ed it, considering it a birthday gift. I got off of work early to prepare Kyle's surprise party (that I, Leon, had forgotten about, so sue me) and found him…not home. I wasn't surprised, as I figured he was with you guys. You know the rest."

Me and Jackson stared at each other. I'd never gotten a call from Kyle that night. Hell, I hadn't seen him since yesterday. I told as much to Dr. Wyatt, who rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Did Kyle ever tell you guys about Adventus?" Jackson and I shook our heads no. Dr. Wyatt explained to us that Adventus was an organization bent on controlling the world; manipulating events, choosing world leaders, ("Hiding the remote?" Jackson asked), etc. He told us how they want to use Kyle to achieve this. "And that's that," Dr. Wyatt concluded. After a moment, the man asked, "Can I ask you guys a favor?" "Sure," I said. "Anything," Jackson added. "Can I ask you guys to do research on Adventus? I need to know everything about them to figure out what they might want with Kyle." Jackson was about to make a wise-ass remark, so I covered his mouth with my hand. Anything to help, we'll do, Dr. Wyatt.

Eight: Day One

On my birthday, I woke up to the sound of rapid tapping on my door. I said tiredly, "Come in." In walked my mom and sister. My dad was most likely at work. Being a hotshot neurologist means early hours. But the pay is definitely worth it.

Yawning, I sat up and looked at my mom and sister. My mom, Nina, has long blonde hair, very fine and wispy. She also has the brightest blue eyes you'll ever see. She was reasonably fit and athletic, which she'll never believe.

My sister, by contrast, had dark, thick brown-black hair and very dark eyes. She's also one of the sweetest people I know, which she demonstrated by jumping on me and smacking me right on the cheek with her lips. If she was any older than seven, I'd complain, but she's not, so I didn't. "Happy Birthday!" she said. I could only smile. "Yes, Happy Birthday, sixteen year old," Mom said affectionately, rustling my hair. She placed a rectangular box on my lap and said, "Here's your present." Putting my glasses on, I ripped open the package and found myself staring at an X-Box 360. I was too shocked for words. "Thanks!" I said enthusiastically. Okay, maybe I wasn't too shocked for words, so sue me. Wait…you probably can, so scratch that.

"Anything for my baby boy," Mom said, planting a wet one on my head. I pushed her away. "Gerroff me!" I said. Mom just laughed and led Ashley away. "Bye Big Brother!" I just smiled.

After I got showered and dressed, I used my phone (not my cell) to call Briana. She picked up almost immediately. "Hey!" she said happily. "Hey yourself," I said. "You still coming to my party tonight?" I asked. "Hells yeah. I wouldn't miss it for the world. You know that. Unless you're a closet tardo?" I shook my head as I said, "Who said anything about being a closet tardo? I am a tardo." She laughed and said she'd meet me and the guys at the theater at 7:00, then hung up. I sighed deeply.

That night, I found her waiting in front of the Fantasia Theater, right where she said she'd be. I started to sneak up behind her, but tripped. Briana turned and saw me on the ground. "You okay?" she asked, helping me up. "Yeah, I'm fine," I said, dusting myself off. "Now…where's my present?" Briana just smiled, and we kissed.

"Awww," a familiar voice said. "Isn't that sweet, Leon?" Briana and I broke off our kiss and saw Leon and Jackson, smirking like the cocky bastards they are."I hate you guys," I sneered. They walked up to me and handed me twenty bucks each. Looking from the money to them, I asked, "Did I ever mention how much I love you guys?"

Everyone laughed, and we all started to walk into the theater. I had my arm around Briana, and I couldn't help thinking how awesome my life was.

Nine: Leon

The next day, Jackson, Briana, and I were at the library, looking up Adventus. Briana invited herself after hearing Kyle might be in danger, which proved my suspicions that she still cared about him. The three of us went to the somewhat convenient "Ancient Societies" section and started bustling through the shelves. Nothing.

The three of us looked around for a while. About a half-hour in, Jackson walked up to me. "So what do you think happened to Kyle?" I whispered to him. Being the comic nerd he is, he no doubt would come up with an elaborate plot, and I needed a laugh.

"Well, I think that somehow Kyle got gassed with a mind-altering toxin that induces negative emotions, ie. Paranoia, fear, aggression, etc. and that Adventus manipulated Kyle, in his current state, to join with them." I just stared at my friend a minute. "You're insane."

"Guys, I think I got something!" Briana said hopefully. She emerged from behind a shelf with a book entitled "Secret Societies for Dumbass'". "Sounds like something that would be perfect for Kyle," Jackson laughed. I looked at him, and then Briana, who had a look of sadness and animosity on her face. She turned away and started flipping through the book.

I beckoned Jackson closer, and then punched him on the arm. "Ow!" he screamed. "What the hell was that for?" I dragged him aside and hissed, "Listen. I know you haven't been paying attention, so I'll try to be nice. Briana still cares for Kyle. After everything the two of them have been through, after how many times he's put Spartan in front of her, in front of us even, she still cares. She may even love him. But I don't know. I'm no psychic."

"But I thought she pined for Spartan? She does it enough everyday with us," Jackson said. "You don't get it, do you? Yes, she wants Spartan. But she also wants Kyle. It's like one of those crappy love triangles in your beloved comic books. The humor is, love is like that in real life."

I know, I know, it was cheesy. But when it comes to love, you have to be cheesy.

"Guys! I think I found something!" Briana yelled. Without second thought, Jackson and I ran back to her. For a fleeting instant, I saw her wipe her eyes with her hand. "Here," she said, pointing to an old mansion. "The abandoned Vanderwayne Mansion was said to be the old headquarters of the Adventus Organization. That's all this book has on the subject."

I thought for a minute before finally saying, "It's good enough."

Ten: Day Two

After the movie, which ended at 10:30, I went straight to sleep. I was beat. But I wish I didn't.

I had the weirdest, and possibly scariest, dream I've ever had. In it, I saw myself in my father's arms at six, standing over the grave of Nina Wyatt, my mother. The scene shifted to me, wearing a weird costume with a Superman 'S', holding a lifeless Briana in my arms. It shifted again, to me yelling at my friends and throwing them to the ground, something I'd never do.

I woke up with a slight headache, confused. Unlike most of my dreams, this one stayed with me vividly. I looked at the clock. 11:37 in the morning. Shaking off the dream, I got dressed and went downstairs.

I found my father in his favorite chair, mulling over a piece of paper. He looked serious. "Uh…Dad? What's that?" "Your report card," he said, tossing it at me. I scanned through it quickly. A's in everything, except in math, in which I got a B-. I started to smile, but the image of a report card similar to this, except it was filled with C's and D's, entered my mind. Shaking that odd image out of my mind, I smiled, and Dad shoved fifty bucks into my hand. "Congratulations, son," he said, hugging me. I returned the hug, thought the dreams images still lingered.

Later that day, I hung out at Mac's with Leon, his girlfriend Loren, Jackson, and Briana. I had my arm around Briana. Loren, a creepy Goth girl who looked like a man (in the opinion of myself and Jackson) was locking lips with Leon. Jackson, who lacked a girlfriend, looked disgusted. "Look at the bright side," I said to Jackson, "At least he's not making out with The Disease." Jackson looked confused. "Who?" he asked. "You know…Sara Shinlye? Looks like a disease-ridden hooker times ten? The human incarnation of Herpes?"

Everyone looked at me oddly. "Come on, guys. Loren. You have to know what I'm talking about." Loren, insulted, started making out with Leon again, but the rest of them looked at me oddly. "I've never known a Sara Shinlye before, Kyle," Jackson said. "Yeah…me either," Briana said. "Are you okay, Kyle? You look like you're in pain."

I was wincing. The headache was still present, and the Motrin I took wasn't helping matters at all. "Yeah…I'm fine," I said. "Just a headache…"

That night, at home, I was watching T.V. with my parents when Ashley walked in from a play date. "Kyle!" she squeaked, running into my arms. "Hey, Kid," I said, spinning her around then putting her down. "How are you?" I asked her. Before she could answer, she vanished. Shocked, I turned to my parents, who continued to watch T.V. as if nothing was happening. I turned back to where Ashley was, and voila! There she was again.

"Are you okay, Kyle?" she asked me. "Uh…yeah," I stammered. "I'm, uh, going to bed. Good night, guys." Cries of "good night" followed me upstairs.

I laid in bed for an hour, thinking. My mom soon walked in, and asked me what was wrong. I told her it was just a headache. "Did you take Motrin?" she asked. I told her I did. She smiled and hugged me. As I hugged her back, the image of her tombstone crawled its way back into my mind.

Eleven: Leon

As soon as we found out the info, we immediately made way to the old mansion on our bikes. I'd never seen any of us so determined, especially Jackson. I guess, deep down, he does care for Kyle. As a friend, anyway. It took us about forty-five minutes, but we'd finally made it. Jackson panted, but otherwise showed no other sign of exhaustion. The same went for Briana.

"This is it," Briana panted. "Vanderwayne Mansion. Rumored headquarters of Adventus, and hopefully Kyle's hiding place. Though, now that I think about it, why would they want Kyle?"

I struggled to come up with an excuse fast, but Jackson had that taken care of. "Ransom, maybe? Dr. Wyatt does make a rather large salary." Briana accepted that, and the three of us made way inside, with me being the undisputed leader. When we got inside, I found the mansion to be much like it's outside: old. Jackson voiced my thoughts. "This place looks abandoned. I mean, the lights are out, it's fucking freezing in here, and there appears to be no life forms in the vicinity."

He had a point. But still, there was a certain charm about the mansion that compelled me to look in. "You may be right, Jackson," I said, "but we should still investigate, just to be sure. On that note, we should split up."

Briana looked at me a little uncertainly. "But Leon, wouldn't it make more sense for us to stick together. I mean, there is strength in numbers." I looked at her, and gave her my reasoning. "You make a fair point, Bree. But we could cover more ground this way, and get out of here faster." My words, which were said quite calmly, appeared to persuade her, and she nodded. I turned to Jackson. "Last chance to back out, Jackson." He looked taken aback at my words. "Back out? Whatever gave you that impression? I'm here until the end. For all of you."

I couldn't help smile at this, and Briana hugged Jackson (in a friendly way). "Alright, then. Let's go find Kyle."

I made my way to a large brown oak door and opened it. Inside was a fantastically large armory, filled with ancient armor and weaponry. There was a whole wall filled with swords, which I figured Kyle would love. My mind flashed to memories of the two of us playing with toy lightsabers when we were young (ie. Thirteen). My mind rested on the memories until a shriek I instantly recognized broke through the air.

"Briana?" I said incredulously. I started to walk towards the door, when a yell again pierced the otherwise calm air. "Jackson?" I started to run for the door when a fist hammered into the back of my head, and I fell into a sea of darkness.

"Leon. LEON!" a voice said urgently.

Cries of my name freed me from the darkness. I awoke tied to a metal pole, in between Jackson and Briana. Jackson was wide-awake, and looked both afraid and angry. By contrast, Briana was knocked out cold. Feeling as if I'd had a cinderblock dropped on my head, I observed my surroundings. The room appeared to be a scientific lab of a sort, but there were only two scientists, both of whom were staring at a pod that was located in the center of the room. "What's going on? Where are we?" I asked Jackson.

He tried to shrug, but couldn't because his whole torso, like mine and Briana's, was tied to a metal pole by some sorta thread. It wasn't that strong, but there was a lot of it used to tie us, and I couldn't break free.

Grunting angrily, I looked closer at the pod, and was shocked to see what I did. "No…" I whispered.

I couldn't make out the face, but I saw an 'S' shield I knew all too well.

Twelve: Day Three

That night, I was again stricken by weird dreams, and all I could do was watch.

I saw a man (judging by the figure's build, it had to be a man) swing into a building on a web, much like Spider-Man. He wore a classic Superman shirt, navy blue ski mask, and jeans; I saw what appeared to be the same man, except he wore all black, save for a raised silver-on-black Superman 'S' and a silver face mask, fighting skeletal robots; the same man in black viciously assaulting what appeared to be a giant mech; in between these images, I saw the man in black flying and displaying fantastic abilities. Throughout the dream, I heard people starting to say the man's name, but stopping. The last vision was of what looked like a masked robber asking the man in black who he was. The man turned to him and said, in a voice that was oddly familiar to me, "I'm Spartan."

I woke up, gasping, cold sweat dripping down my face. I checked my clock. Six-thirty in the morning. Time to get ready for school. I got my uniform out of its drawer, and moved towards the door. Standing in my way was Ashley, yawning. "What are you doing up so early?" I asked, yawning with her. "I couldn't sleep," she said. She was holding a piece of paper in her hand. "What's that?" I asked her tiredly.

Ashley held the paper up. It was a rather crude picture of our family, drawn with crayons. It was cute. "For me?" I asked her. She smiled, showing her missing two front teeth and nodded. I smiled and rubbed her hair. Instantly, an image of Spartan rubbing two children's hair flashed into my mind.

"What's wrong, Kyle?" Ashley asked, looking at me curiously. I must have looked bewildered. Shaking off the image, I said, "It's nothing."

At school, I met up with my friends at the usual spot. "Morning ladies," I proclaimed. They all turned; Briana smiled, Leon flipped me off, and Jackson had a look of anger on his face. Same old, same old. After hugging Briana and punching Jackson for the hell of it, I asked, "Hey, does anyone know who Spartan is?"

Reading the looks on their faces, I could tell they didn't. "Who?" Jackson asked. "Spartan," I repeated. They all said they'd never heard of him, which contrasted with the image in my head of the three of them praising him.

"You okay, Kyle?" Briana asked, snapping me out of my thoughts. "You've been acting really weird since your birthday." She wasn't wrong, but I didn't want to worry her. "I'm fine," I said reassuringly. "Really." I kissed her, just to get the point across. When we were done five minutes later, she smiled at me. "Yep, you're definitely fine," she laughed.

When the first bell rang, Leon and Briana left for Chemistry while Jackson and I went for Art 101 with Queen Bitch, Samantha Seafard. On the way, Jackson kept bugging me, knowing that I lied to Briana about being fine. I turned to Jackson, and asked pleadingly, "Don't tell her, Jackie Boy. Please. I don't want her to worry."

I don't think he heard me. "Jackie Boy?" I asked. "What's eating you?" He stared at me for a while before answering. "You called me Jackie Boy. You never called me that before. I don't like it." I looked at him, bewildered. "Stop pulling my leg, Jackson. I say that to you all the time." Now he looked at me as if I belonged in an asylum. "Erm, no you don't."

Now I was really confused. I remembered saying that to him at least five times a day. "You're sure?" I whispered. Jackson nodded at me, wide eyed. I looked at him, and for the first time in a long time, I was kind of scared.

After school, Briana and I we walking home, talking about meaningless stuff when we passed by a burning building. On instinct, I ripped open my shirt to reveal a white undershirt. Briana looked at me, weirded out by my action. "Kyle…what the hell are you doing?" I looked from her to my undershirt, before buttoning it back up. When I was done, I muttered, "I'm not sure…" before walking away, not looking back.

Thirteen: Leon

I have no idea how much time had passed. Jackson and I had stayed silent, and Briana was still unconscious. But worst of all, these guys had gotten Kyle. I don't know how, but they did, and he was incapacitated, which explained why he was missing. One mystery solved, a fafillion to go.

Jackson and I turned sharply as we heard new footsteps coming from behind us. They were brisk, and they echoed across the whole room. They belonged to a tall, thin, bald man with a pointed nose and dark, seemingly unblinking eyes. After consulting with one of the doctors, he walked over to us, smiling a smile laced with malice. The man looked down at Briana. "She's still out cold, isn't she? Poor thing. But, alas, such actions were necessary. She put up quite a fight, you know. We had to give a an extra dosage of the same sedative we gave you gentlemen. I can see why he loves her so," he finished, glancing at Kyle.

"Who the hell are you?" Jackson demanded. I looked sideways at him, and his face was etched with hatred. The man smirked coldly. "Of course. Where are my manners? Niles Ferris, at your service. I regret we had to tie you up, but that's what you get for breaking into our little headquarters here."

"Yeah, well, you kidnapped our friend, and put him into some weird ass techno pod thing, you Adventus FUCK!" I screamed. Ferris looked at me, and I involuntarily flinched. "So, you know to what I belong to. You are more knowledgeable than I gave you credit for. For this, I apologize."

"Apology accepted," I said coldly. Now, why don't you tell us what you've done to our friend? It'll help pass the time."

Ferris threw his head back and laughed. "You're direct. I can appreciate that, and it will be rewarded. You had to have had a certain amount of resourcefulness to figure out where we worked. For that, our plan will be made known to you."

I looked over at Jackson, who stared intently at Ferris. "You see," Ferris began, "Originally we'd wanted Spartan to aid us in our goals, but he had 'values' and fought us. It became painfully obvious to us that he would never join us, so we created an ingenious plot. We had Dr. Halsen here (he motioned to a man with shocking white hair, who nodded at us) become "Destiny's Human Manifestation" and offer Kyle the chance to live life as if his mother had never died."

At this, Jackson and I looked at each other, startled. That was Kyle's one wish, ever since we were, like, nine. The chance to know his mother.

"But," Ferris continued, "Your friend felt a great sense of responsibility to this world. He refused Destiny's offer, and continued to live his dual life. We could not have that, so we staged a disturbance. I believe you remember the fire Spartan left you to go fight? Well, an Adventi, under my orders, created that. When he engaged in combat with Spartan, he was able to gas him with a powerful mind-altering toxin, one that induced great fear, anger, frustration, and paranoia ("Told you," Jackson muttered)."

"After he defeated the Adventi Agent, he went into the building to save anyone he could. Little did he know that we'd already killed them all, and placed sound devices that mimicked screams by their corpses. This led the young man to believe he failed, and, coupled with our toxin, he was made susceptible to Destiny's offer. After he attacked you guys, he ran to his mother's grave and accepted Destiny's offer, with the promise that no one would remember what happened, and that his assault on you would never have happened."

This explained so much; Kyle's behavior, Spartan's disappearance, and why he would even accept the offer. I looked at Jackson, who was practically foaming at the mouth.

"After he accepted the offer, we overloaded Spartan's Battle Sense and injected him with a sedative. Destiny brought Kyle here and threw him in this pod, in which he is living out his dream life, monitored by Dr. Brant here." Dr. Brant didn't even acknowledge us.

"But what's the purpose?" I yelled. "Sure, you got Kyle out of the way, but you can't take on the whole world." Ferris pointed at me. "Smart boy. The pod replicates Kyle's powers, and creates a liquid that will grant them to anyone. All of his powers have been copied successfully, and we have many Adventi who are being injected with the concoction right now. Once we have sufficient numbers, we will make war on this world, and from its ashes will arise a New World Order, led by us."

As if on cue, another Adventus scientist walked in. "Sir, we have twenty Super Adventi prepared. More than enough to take down this city." "Excellent," Ferris smirked. "Deploy them immediately."

"You're fucking sick!" Jackson yelled out of nowhere. It was about time he expressed his anger, I thought. Ferris made it so his face was mere inches from Jackson's. Jackson spit on him.

Ferris didn't express the slightest bit of frustration; he merely took out a handkerchief and wiped his face. "You've got spirit, son. Which is why I won't kill you right now."

With that, he made his way to Dr. Brant, who told him, "Sir, he's fighting the reality he's created." "Increase the strength of the drug that keeps him in his reality." "But sir," Brant objected, "that could prove dangerous to our goals."

"Just do it!" Ferris ordered, and Brant complied.

Feeling powerless to do anything, I wallowed in my misery. That is, until I felt the pocketknife I always carry with me in pocket. I'd forgotten all about it. To my right, I felt Briana stir, and a plan began to formulate in my mind.

Ferris walked back to us and pressed a button on a remote he pulled out of his pocket. A television screen descended from the ceiling, and it showed Xavier City. He pressed another button, and a chair emerged from the ground. He sat, and said, "Let's watch the show, shall we?"

My only thought at the moment was hoping that Briana would wake up soon.

Fourteen: Day Four

I dreamt again, this time of my friends. I saw us hanging out at Mac's, except Briana sat across from me, not next to me; I saw the four of us watching our school go up in flames; I saw her sitting behind me in history; I saw Jackson, Leon, and myself watching her do a martial arts demonstration; lastly, I saw her walking away from me, a hurt look on her face.

I woke up with a start. The dreams struck me as odd because, while they weren't as weird as the others, I'd never done any of these things with them. I got out of bed slowly and looked at the clock. Five-thirty a.m. I went to jump out the window to swing and clear my head, but I caught myself, and wondered what the hell I was doing.

Later that morning, I went downstairs, ready for school. My family was already eating. I sat with them, but didn't touch my cereal "What's wrong, Kyle?" Mom asked me worryingly. "Nothing Ma…just not hungry, is all," I responded. Dad looked at me, concern etched onto his face. "You look paler than usual, son. You okay?"

"Yeah, Dad. I just didn't sleep well. Otherwise I'm fine. I'll take a nap after school, after homework." I didn't mention how my headache now felt like a thousand white-hot knives were plunged into my forehead. Satisfied, Dad went back to reading the paper. Ashley, however, walked over to me, concerned. "Are you okay, Kyle?" I smiled. Whenever I was feeling down, Ashley's youthful innocence always put a smile on my face. "Yeah. I'm okay. I'll see you after school, 'kay?"

Ashley smiled and smacked a wet one right on my forehead, and then hugged me. "I love you, Big Brother," she said. Returning her hug, I said, "I love you too, Little Sister."

In history, Mr. Johns ranted on about the old Vanderwayne mansion outside the city. Upon hearing it, my headache sharpened, and I felt Briana's worried gaze upon me.

After school, Briana and I walked home. She asked me if I was okay. "I'm fine," I said, embellishing the word "fine". After a minute of silence, like after we say the Pledge of Allegiance at school, I said quietly, "I have to go to that mansion Johns mentioned in history. I don't know why, but I do. I just…I feel something's there. D" you understand?"

Briana nodded, and I was reminded of why I loved her. "I'll go with you," she offered. I shook my head. "No. It's something that I think I have to do alone. Besides, if there's anything bad in there, I don't want to be responsible for your getting hurt."

Briana pouted. Lifting her chin up and smiling at her, I told her I'd call her later. We kissed, and then parted ways. As I watched her leave, I had this nagging feeling that something would cause me to never be with her again.

About two hours later, I arrived at the mansion. There was definitely something familiar about it, but I just couldn't place it. Trying to figure out where I knew this place from, I walked in.

The inside reminded me of snooty rich old people, simply because this was the type of mansion that they're always depicted as living in in movies. Ridding myself of that prejudice, I moved on.

Surrounding me were tall brown oak doors. I went to open one. Locked. The same could be said for all the other doors. And they were sturdy as hell, as I found out when I tried knocking one down. I was surprised t find one door open, and I walked inside.

In the middle of the room was a mechanical looking pod, and upon seeing it my headache blazed worse than it ever had before. I keeled over in pain, rolling over, and images flashing across my mind, like in my dreams, except this time I was awake.

I saw myself fall on a syringe containing some sort of liquid; I saw myself leaping from building to building at incredible speeds; I saw some wigger kid knock me off my seat at the lunch table, causing my eyes to glow red; I saw myself leaping out my window and landing on my feet; I saw myself leaving Nina Wyatt's grave and leaping off a hill; and lastly, I saw myself tearing down an alley and ripping my shirt open to reveal a raised silver-on-black 'S'.

My eyes snapped open as my headache faded. I remembered Destiny's offer; I remembered hurting my friends; I remembered failing to save the people in that fire. I remembered it all.

And with my memory returning came the sad truth: Nina Wyatt was dead, Ashley Wyatt had never been born, and I never dated Briana; I hurt her. This caused a tear to run down my cheek, as I remembered all the good times I'd had with them…no, all the good times that had been fabricated to seem like I'd had them. But that only made the pain worse.

Angry, I walked over to the pod, only to find…

"Spartan," I said. There he was, hovering. He was unmasked, which showed my face. Remembering everything that had happened in this reality, as opposed to the real one, I sighed sadly, "Guess it's time to go play hero again, eh?"

The pod opened, and I placed my right hand on the 'S' shield.

Fifteen: Leon

Briana awoke some time later, and the plan was already figured out. I just had for the right moment to start it. "Wha…what happened?" she asked tiredly, taking in her surroundings. Jackson turned to her and said darkly, "It's a long story." "Listen, Bree," I whispered. "Can you reach into my pocket and grab my knife? With it I'll be able to get us out of here."

She nodded and started reaching into it. A minute later her hand emerged, holding my knife. She passed it discreetly to me, and I started cutting through. Jackson was making sure that Ferris was still watching the screen, when he gasped. "My god…" he said.

I looked at the screen and was shocked to see what I saw. The Super Adventi were destroying the city. Briana looked as well, and after watching enough, demanded, "What's going on?" Altering events so that I didn't reveal Kyle was Spartan, I told her everything.

"Boss!" Brant screamed. "The subjects waking up!" "What?" Ferris yelled. "How is this possible? You said the pod was foolproof!"

"I believe, Mr. Ferris," Brant stammered, "That the, uh, subjects ability to utilize one-hundred percent of his brain allowed him to create a way out of the reality created for him."

Growling, Ferris took out a gun and shot the man. I smirked. Kyle was waking up, and that gave me the extra boost I needed to cut through the ropes. "Come on!" I urged my friends, getting up. I helped Briana, who was still groggy, to her feet. Once she was stable, we made a break for it.

As we left, I heard Ferris' frustrated scream, and I suffered from silent laughter. That is, until the whole building started shaking. "What's going on?" Briana asked. "I think Ferris, you know, the bald guy, activated the building's self-destruct. I estimate we only have a few minutes to get outta here!" Jackson predicted.

Having no way to be sure if he was right or wrong, the three of us ran. "What about Spartan?" Briana yelled. "He'll be fine," I assured her. "He's invincible, remember?"

Sixteen

I awake as if from a dream. No fear, no frustration, nothing keeping me from being me. The real me. The hero. But I felt anger. A whole lot of damn anger.

I blasted the cover of the pod off with full intensity, which caused it to touch the ceiling, then crush a man who looked just like Destiny. I leaped out and saw a face I hadn't seen for a year. Niles Ferris, former consigliore to Dean Murdoch, and the man who promised me that Adventus would be watching my actions.

Ferris saw me, and immediately after pressing a sequence of commands on the computer, emptied the clip from the pistol he held in his hand into my chest. The bullets bounced off me as I walked towards him. I grabbed the gun and melted it with my heat vision before grabbing Ferris by the collar.

"It's been a long time, Niles," I growled, my eyes glowing. Ferris gulped. "What were you doing with me in that pod?" I could see him sweating, but he still didn't answer me. "WHAT?" I yelled.

"We were copying the formula that gave you your powers from your blood!" Ferris ejaculated. "The Adventus Overlords figured if you wouldn't join us, then we should get your powers and give them to faithful Adventi, not an idealistic teenager! You don't understand do you, Wyatt? You have the powers of a God! You could shape this world in your image, yet you use it to help people! Let me help you to use your powers for your purposes, not the worlds!"

"You fool!" I yelled. "Their bodies can't handle the power! I had an anomaly in my DNA that allowed me to stabilize, but they probably don't!" Fear washing over his face, I knocked Ferris out. Looking around, I saw Destiny (for that was the only name I knew him by) crushed under the Pod's top. I realized this was my doing, but I had no time to realize I'd broken my no killing oath, because I saw a timer that said this building was gonna blow in about a minute! That would have been no sweat, except I saw a security camera that showed my three friends trapped in a hallway, debris blocking the exit. What scared me the most was that I saw a support beam crack right above to fall on Briana. It was going to fall on her!

Not going to let her die again, I dashed to the entrance hall. I heard her screams and Jackson and Leon's respective cries of "Look out!"

I got to the entrance to the entrance hall and saw the beam about to fall on her. Realizing I wouldn't get to her in time by running, I flew to her location and caught the beam just in time. I held it above my head effortlessly.

I saw her eyes move up my body. She smiled when she saw my 'S', but when she saw my face, her jaw dropped. "No way," she said. I threw the support aside and said, "Come on." Leon said, "Every way's blocked." I punched a hole in the wall. "Not every one," I said.

The three started to run out, but the building exploded behind them just as they got out, sending all of us flying. I caught myself in midair, but the rest of them flew sporadically through the air. I flew towards Briana first, caught her, and threw her on my back. She held on tight. I tried not to think of the two of us together in the fake reality.

I caught Leon and Jackson with webs, which enabled me to hold on to them. I landed, and set everyone down safely. "Is everyone alright?" I asked calmly. Wide eyed, they all nodded. "What happened, exactly, while I was out?"

As Leon and Jackson explained to me, Briana looked at me, as though she were studying me. Getting the whole story, I put mask and glasses on, and Spartan returned.

I prepared to fly and stop the clones, but Briana held me down. "What is it?" I asked her. She looked uncertain for a minute, and then said, "Listen, uh, Kyle…I'm sorry. For everything. Had I known, I would never have…" I put a finger to her lips. "It's okay. Briana. I'll see you when I get back," I assured her, before flying away, leaving behind a smiling Briana for the first time in a long time.

Seventeen

As I approached Xavier City, I heard various noises, none of them good. Cars crashing, people screaming, the like. The sky was blood red. I saw a middle-aged man fall off a collapsing building. My guess is he was up there to avoid getting attacked by the wannabe's. I caught him just as he started to fall and landed him in a safe place.

The city was a wreck: fires everywhere, collapsed buildings, corpses. All because I was gullible. Well, it was time to rectify that error. I saw twenty armored Adventi causing the destruction using their powers…no…MY powers.

I landed hard, causing the ground to tremor. The Adventi stumbled, and finally took notice of me. I stared at them, as they stared at me. The air stood still, with only the slow crackling of the flames making any sound. Then, at once, the twenty of them charged at me, and I charged at them.

One of them flew at me, so I grabbed him by the throat and threw him down into the street. Two more came at me from opposite sides, so I webbed them and made them collide. I attached a webline to an unconscious Adventi and swung him into five or six Advent, knocking them down like bowling pins.

With my Battle Sense blazing, I back flipped as one more threw himself at me and, as I did with Flamehead, kicked him in the back, knocking him out cold. I pretty much kicked the rest of their respective asses, and laid them all down in a pile. Admiring my work, and looking at the hell the city had become, I started to fly back towards my friends, when I heard grunts.

I turned, surprised, and saw all the Super Adventi up and ready to do battle again. Throwing aside my shock, I charged at them again, but this time they let it all out. I got punched, kicked, elbowed, and head butted in every part of my body. I felt blood fly out, and I was in more physical pain then ever.

This is where having skill would come in handy. Here I was, facing trained warriors who had the same powers as I did. I was finished. As one, they all lunged at me and dog piled me. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't even think of anything to do. I tried fighting back to no avail. Memories of my friends and my father flooded into my mind, but they couldn't fuel my strength. It was here I accepted the end.

After that acceptance, I was able to breathe again. The Adventi had let go of me, and were screaming in pain, clutching their heads. All of a sudden, they burst into blue sparks, and were gone. I later came to the conclusion that the powers they'd been given overloaded their bodies and destroyed them. Best part is, no messy clean up. I wiped the blood off my nose and went off to save anyone who needed me to.

After doing my job, I went back to the outskirts outside the mansion and brought Leon, Jackson, and Briana home. Briana rode my back, and Jackson and Leon held an arm, respectively.

I felt like a fool.

Eighteen

After dropping them off, I landed at home and changed back into my school uniform. I opened my door slowly and peeked in. My Dad was on his favorite chair, sleeping, holding papers. I couldn't make out what they said.

I opened the door fully and walked in, and was able to get a clear view of what the signs said. They were missing signs for me.

Smirking slightly, I nudged him. "Dad," I said. He awoke, startled. "Who's there?" he asked, and I was instantly reminded of the absent minded scientist he used to be. He finally saw me, and his eyes widened in surprised happiness. "Kyle!" he said, grasping me. I returned his embrace, and heard the tears run down his cheeks. "I'm home Dad…I'm home."

After telling him everything, I went up to my bedroom for some much needed thinking time. The truth was, since the…event…I didn't know who I was anymore. I didn't feel like Kyle Wyatt, but I didn't feel like Spartan either, if that makes sense. When I laid down in my bed, I instantly fell asleep, and, ironically, slept soundly for the first time in a long time.

The next week, I was web swinging through the city. Flying was faster, but web swinging helped clear my head. It relaxed me. Xavier City was being rebuilt, slowly but surely.

I went by the police department and swung through Sarge's window, landing in his office. Sarge jumped out of his seat, holding his heart. "Jesus you scared me!" I straightened myself up. "Where've you been?" Sarge asked. "Ask me again sometime," I replied. Shrugging, Sarge went to his desk, removed a file, and threw it at me. I caught it. "Do I wanna know what this is?" I asked.

"Remember that file on Adventus you asked me to pull up? Well, there it is. Took me a while, but I got it." I thumbed through it. "Thanks Sarge," I said, throwing it back at him, " but Adventus is finished." "You're sure?" Sarge asked, but I was already gone.

I swung around town some more, when I heard Jackson scream. In an instant, I flew to Mac's, where the scream originated. I landed on the roof and found The Disease approached Leon, who was backed up against a wall. Fighting the urge to laugh, I launched a webline to Sara's leg and hung her upside down from it.

A memory of me mentioning her name to an incredulous group of my friends flashed through my mind. I flew away, leaving Leon and Jackson behind before they could thank me.

I flew to Kaenston Cemetery, and landed in front of my mother's grave. I told her everything, begging her for guidance while remembering her in the V.R. Realm.

When I was done, I flew away, still crying.

Nineteen

Months passed, and school had once again ended. I flew to Briana's house without my mask and glasses on. I landed on the balcony outside her room and knocked on her door. Looking up, she smiles and comes out. I hadn't seen her that happy in a long time. We looked at each other quietly for a long minute, and then hugged.

"You've been weird since November," she said. "At school, you've been quiet. You're like, the perfect student, never talking out of turn, doing all your homework, acing all your tests, all that. You don't sit with us at lunch, and you haven't come to Mac's. What's been eating you?"

I sighed deeply. As much as I had prepared for this question, it still wasn't easy to say. "I've been busy thinking," I said. "I filled my time between student and Spartan because, frankly, I didn't know what to say to you. About me being Spartan."

"Do you know now?" she asked quietly. Her question caused me to turn away. "The…incident in November shook me. It left me unsure of myself. Of who I am. Which is why I've come here tonight. I came to say good-bye."

I turned to her, and Briana was looking at me positively alarmed. "What?" she asked, terrified. "I need to sort things out. You see, I'm not sure if I'm Kyle Wyatt, or if I'm Spartan. I don't know who I am." Briana walked to me and poked my 'S'. "You're both! Kyle Wyatt's Spartan, and Spartan's Kyle Wyatt!"

I smiled at her sadly and said, "I hope that some day I'll realize that, Bree." I turned to fly away, but she grabbed my arm. "Take me flying with you, just this once before you go. I want to know what it's like. Just once."

I thought a moment, then said, "Alright, then. Come on." We embraced yet again, and I slowly lifted us into the sky. "Tell me everything. How you got your powers, all of it." I lifted my head back and smiled. "Where to begin? I guess it all started one day in December…"

We flew for a while as I told her everything, up until I went to her room. When we were done, she asked sadly, "Why didn't you tell me?" I looked down. " I don't know. I think I was worried that you'd think I was a freak, but that was stupid, I know…" Briana smirked her unique smirk. "You got that right." We laughed, and I landed back on her balcony. We leaned in to kiss, but sirens split the air. "Duty calls," I said, putting my mask and glasses on. "Good-bye, Briana," I said, before leaping off the balcony. As I left her behind, I heard her whisper, "Good-bye, Kyle."

Whoever I am, Kyle Wyatt or Spartan, one thing is certain. Today, someone needs Spartan to save the day.

And Spartan will always be there to save the day.