-Armored Heart-

James woke up early one morning. He turned around, and stared ot his alarm clock. it read 03:10. He turned over again and groaned. He could have been sleeping for another hour before he had to get up, but he decided against it. He got up out of his bed and looked out the window. it looked about the same as any other day at this hour, dark. He stretched, yawned, and went to take a shower. As he was getting out, his cat came up and rubbed against his leg, purring. He bent down and scratched the cat's head. "I know what you really want, you little moocher," he said, as he went into the small kitchen and gave the cat some food, which the cat quickly went to. The cat's name was Boris. His orange, red and white fur reminded James of a sunset on a warm summer's day. He checked his clock again, and saw that he had only a hour and a half to get to school. He quickly got dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, grabbed his backpack, and headed out for school. He was 19, and had just gotten accepted to some mediocre college to study mechanics. Sure, he wasn't the prettiest, or the smartest, or the most agile. He was...normal. average at everything, exceptional at nothing. He wanted to study mechanics to learn how things worked, which fascinated him. As he rode his bike to school, he wondered what it was going to be like in college. By this time, though, he was cynical enough to know that EVERYTHING was a beauty contest. Even when it came to mechanics, the things with the most elegance won everything. So, he resigned himself to being mediocre, and wondered what the rest of his life was going to be like.

Right as James was wondering this, a very small, but very dense meteor was falling form the sky. Little did he know that this meteor would change his life forever.

James was almost to the college, when he saw something that looked like a explosion not to far from his location. Fearing that people could have been hurt, He quickly rode over to where he saw it happen. It turned out to be farther than he thought, for he rode at least another hour before he saw a crater in the ground. He stopped right along the edge, and saw that only a small object, about the size of a small stone, lay at the very bottom of the crater. knowing that he was already late for class, he decided to investigate. He went down to the bottom, and picked up the rock. Or tried to anyway. Even with both hands, he could barely lift the small rock. But just as he lifted it, it got lighter, so he almost lost his balance when it became lighter. He then pondered what in the world could this rock be? It had to be very dense, or else he could have lifted it only with one hand. As he pondered this, a car came rolling by, probably to investigate, just as he had. He quickly pocketed the rock, and came out of the crater just in time for him to leave without being noticed. As he got back to the college, he noticed that there was still nobody there. He then mentally slapped himself. Today was Sunday! Class didn't start until tomorrow! But, he did see one car in the parking lot. It belonged to the professor who had referred him to this college, Dr. A. Kira. James decided to pay him a visit, and wanted to show his new findings to the doctor. He went to the professor's office, and knocked on the door. The doctor's assistant, a girl by the name of Kaylia, opened the door. She and James had gone all throughout school in the same classes. But she never noticed him, except maybe the once or twice in which he would answer something in class or something like that. It wasn't that she was the over popular girl in school either. She just didn't notice him because he was like so many other boys that he never got noticed. He had secretly had a crush on her ever since grade school, though. So he was caught a bit short when he answered to door. "Yes?" she asked. "I...I...I came to see...to see..." he stammered. She was caught a bit off guard, but she already knew the answer. "You came to see Professor Kira, right?" she asked. James just nodded, hoping not to embarrass himself any more. "Right this way," Kaylia led him inside. She showed him the door to the doctor's office. "Thank you," James said in a small voice. He closed the door behind him, and thanked goodness that that ordeal was over. He went in, and searched for the professor. "Professor? Dr. Kira?" ha asked out loud. A familiar figure stepped out of the lab, The doctor was wearing goggles, and had smoke billowing out of the lab. "Be with you in a minute..." The doctor yelled out of her lab. About five minutes later, the doctor came out of her lab. She was getting into her forties, and looked it as well. Some grey was creeping into her short, brown hair she always tied up. "Ah, James! What are you doing here?" She came up and offered her hand. James quickly shook the hand, and got his rock out of his pocket. But it wasn't there! He quickly fished around in his pocket, but couldn't find it! "Ummmm...I just wanted to get a small head start before tomorrow. It that possible?" He asked a bit lamely. The doctor smiled. "I like your enthusiasm, but no. You start tomorrow just like everyone else. Anything else I can help you with?" She asked. "Nope, that's it for me. Thank you, doctor." James said, as he got out of the office and into the parking lot where his bike was. He quickly got on his bike, and went to his home.

His home was a small apartment where he could barely pay the rent. He earned money by fixing cars in a car shop, but seeing as he wasn't there today, It could mean a cut in his pay. As he got in, his cat rubbed up against his leg, purring. James sat down in his only chair, and Boris leapt up into his lap. James was tired of living day to day, not knowing what his next month's pay was going to be like. But such was life for him. He then thought back to the rock, and how he might have been able to sell it. Then Boris leapt off his lap, seeming to be discomforted by something. James looked at his hand, and noticed it was all metal! He started screaming, but then a even more powerful voice stuck in his mind. "Do not be alarmed, we are here to help you..."

--

As the voice spoke in his head, James himself felt as though he was being pulled into his own mind. He closed his eyes, and waited for the pain to stop. When he opened his eyes again, he saw that he was in a very dark room. But it was not his living room. It was somewhere different. He turned around, and saw a giant...THING lunge at him. James screamed and ran away in terror, just as another thing hit the first thing with full force. The other thing was all metal, and sliced the other thing's head off, making it spew a sticky, green substance everywhere. The metallic thing turned it's head at James, but did not come towards him. That made James wonder what the other thing was. The head of the thing folded back, so it was a helmet! A person was underneath that helmet! No, it wasn't a person per se. Normal people didn't have glowing orange eyes. The Alien stood up, and offered James his hand. The Alien did have five fingers and two legs. If not for the eyes, James would have sworn that it was a normal person. James stared in wonderment at this new arrival. The stranger started talking, but it was in a dialect that James couldn't understand. Seeing that James was struggling, the Alien pointed to his head. That got James thinking. Maybe...this was all in his head! He then concentrated, and tried to speak to the Alien. "My name is James. You are?" The Alien smiled, and spoke back. "My name, as you call it, is Cain Zar. As you have probably guessed, I am a alien. I am broadcasting this image into your head so I can instruct you a bit on what you now posses. That stone you picked up was really a experiment that was still too early in development to be actually put into field use." James reeled at this, and almost hit the alien, Cain. "So you are saying that I am a simple LAB RAT?" he shouted. Cain didn't react at all, which made James furious. "Well, Answer me!" James said. The alien almost looked imperious when he gave his answer. "Yes, you are a 'lab rat' as you so eloquently put it. But it is to help you. This symbiont will increase your speed, mental processing, almost everything tenfold! Don't you want that?" The alien reached out his hand. James looked defiantly back at Cain. "And if I don't? What then?" Cain withdrew his hand, and looked back at James. "Then live with it." As Cain said these words, James' eyes snapped open.

It felt as though he had been sleeping for days! As he got out of his chair, James looked at the clock. It said that it was only midnight of the same day! Weird, James thought, but acceptable. He went to the bathroom and started to take a shower. As he was bathing, he looked at his hands. Nothing but flesh and hair was on them. Weird, considering that James' last thought before he went to "sleep" was that metal was crawling across his skin. Oh well. Nothing looked any different when he did a quick body check. same old James. Maybe he had just been in a bad dream. He got out of the shower, and put some fresh clothes on. He gave Boris some food, and started to cook some ramen. He looked in his small fridge, and didn't see any hot dogs or corn inside. It looked like he was just going to be eating the noodles for breakfast today. He checked his food supplies, and noticed that he was running low on ramen as well. He would need to go shopping soon. The trouble was, he had no money until the next pay day, which was already going for rent this month. He sighed, and knew that he would be going hungry for awhile. He got to his stuff and looked at the clock. It said that it was 03:10. He went outside, and rode around the streets for a while. He saw that his landlord, Mr. Caar, was outside on his porch, which only he had, and was yelling at someone for something. That's what Mr. Caar was good at, yelling. He then started off for the college, for his first class; Science studies 101. He knew that science was not one of his favorite subjects, but he did moderately well in it, just like everything else. He got to the college and went to the cafeteria, which he knew after 3 years of going, served free breakfast right before classes. You didn't even need to be a student at the college to get one if you were there early enough. True, it wasn't even home-made, but it was food, which James greatly appreciated. As he ate, Kaylia walked into the room. James went and sat down, afraid of what could happen if she saw him. He had been so stupid the other day! He quietly went to his breakfast, praying that she didn't see him. To bad for him she had scoped him out before she even entered. She got her food, and calmly sat across James. "Hey, you're that guy from the other day, aren't you?" she asked. "Huh?" James said, looking up from his food. Then saw it was Kaylia, and almost ran then and there. "Uh...yeah. I guess..." James said. "You scared me when you first came in, I didn't know the doctor was expecting you. Everything go alright?" James gave a curt "everything went fine," then got up and left. "How rude, but he can't be all bad if the doctor was interested in him." she thought to herself. "Excuse me miss, are you missing something?" a voice called out. Kaylia looked around, only to be knocked out almost immediately.

James sat through classes, taking notes he knew he didn't need to, but all the same, it was just a average day. But he couldn't help but notice that Kaylia was missing from Dr. Kira's class. It was his last class of the day, so he decided to hang back for a little bit. He approached the doctor, and asked her, "Have you seen your assistant today? She came up to me during breakfast, so I was worried that something could have happened to her." The Doctor thought about it, and shook her head. "No, Kaylia hasn't been here all day. Strange. She is usually diligent about her tasks. I'm sure she has a explanation, though." Dr. Kira then moved over to her desk. "Come, James. I have something to show you." James walked over to the Doctor's desk, as she pulled out a small model robot, the type you would buy for 5 at a cheap toy store. "What am I looking at, doctor? It seems just like a toy I would build when I was a kid," James said. "You would think that, wouldn't you?" The Doctor had that crazy smile of hers. She lightly tapped the model on the head, and the thing started walking! Not just herk-jerk movements either, but actual, fluid walking! "Doctor... How?" James was fascinated by this, it being the only thing he was good at. The doctor only smiled, and said, "I want you to have it, so you can figure it out for yourself." She tapped it on the head again, and the model stopped. James picked it up, and placed it gently inside his backpack. "Thank you, Doctor! I will try my hardest!" He said as he left the room. The Doctor smiled, and went back into her lab, and several mild explosions ensued.

James got back to his apartment, and found the place a total wreck. He panicked, but then realized that with all his small possessions, not much could have been stolen, if anything at all. He checked all that he knew he should have, and found nothing missing. Boris was under the small bed, looking terrified. James scooped up the cat, and petted it softly to calm him down. Boris eventually stopped shivering, and started purring. James let him go after that, and went into the small kitchen. He found a note on the small fridge where he kept his hot dogs. It read, "We know what you have. Give us the material at 2000 tonight at the old pier and we will leave you alone." James read the note, and was confused. What did he have that he had picked up recently? That stone? It had disappeared, so he knew if they wanted that, he was screwed. That model that the Doctor had given him? It couldn't be, it was just a simple model that had been customized to walk. James shrugged, and took out the model. Was this really worth all the trouble they were going through, though? He got on his bike, and started riding to the old pier, for it was at least a 2 hour bike ride and it was almost 1800.

He got to the pier, and it was almost dark. He could hear muffled voices though the sound of the water. James got closer, and put his hands up. Suddenly the voices hushed, and a figure stepped forward. "Put the stone on the ground. Now. Then this will all be over." James sighed. Just great, they wanted to the stone. "Look," James said, "I have no clue where the stone is, ok? The only thing that I have that I haven't bought myself is this model!" he put it on the floor, and it started to walk towards the figure. "Yeah, right kid. Now hand over the stone." The figure stepped out of the shade, and presented a large gun. James' guts turned to ice as he saw the weapon, and he almost ran. But then a little voice told him to stay, or else he would be shot. The Model continued to move toward the figure. "My name is Dr. Nuja, and I want that stone. It has some qualities that are worth experimentation." The man was tall. Really tall. This man had to be at least 7' tall. James had to look up to see his face. He was also bald. But despite this, James could also see a unstable spark in the man's eyes. Like he had been driven crazy by something or another. James could only repeat what he had said, "I don't know where your stone is! I lost it as soon as I had found it. Please don't shoot me." He closed his eyes, but before he did, he saw something that was out of place. The model had stopped right at the foot of this Doctor, and saw that the model was moving it's arms. Strange, James thought to himself. Then, as his eyes closed, James heard a "Son of a..." and a shot ring out. James expected to feel pain, but none came. He cracked a eye open, and saw that the right arm of the model was bloody, and saw the man's foot had two holes in it. James was confused severely now. What in the world had that model done? Dr. Nuja, though, turned and shot another bullet straight at James. The bullet caught James right in the left shoulder, and it sent him spinning in extreme pain, as he fell off the pier.

Dr. Nuja then turned around, and kicked the small model across the pier, where it lay, not able to pick itself up. He sighed. He had shot himself in the foot when that little thing had stabbed him in the foot. He still didn't have the stone, but at least the one other person who knew about it was dead now. He headed to his car, and unlocked it with his remote. Just as he was about to get in, though, he saw out of the corner of his eye that the kid had crawled out of the water. He pulled his gun up, and fired. Again, the kid went spinning with the force, and dropped to the ground. Dr. Nuja the decided to end it, and walked over to the kid. He hadn't even said his name. Oh well, the Doctor said to himself. Less information to know. He pointed the gun straight at the boy's head, but saw something happening. Metal was crawling across this boy's face! "What the.…?" Dr. Nuja mused to himself.. Then he saw the metal take form on the boy's face, creating a helmet. It was all over the boy, this metal. "Fascinating..." he mused. Then, in a blink of a eye, the boy was right behind him. The boy grabbed him, and threw him straight into his own car. "Who..." Dr. Nuja started, but was quickly punched across the face, and was knocked out.

As James was about to deliver the final blow, a small voice in his head yelled "stop!" He relaxed his grip, and pulled off the helmet. He then tightened his grip again, and a long blade formed from his elbow to his fingertips. He was about to stab the man, for this Doctor had tried to kill him, right? But that little voice in his head told him to stop... He relaxed, and the blade melted back into a arm. He walked over to the model on the ground, and picked it up. He then got on his bike, and as he was riding away, the metal receded into his body. What happened to me? James wondered to himself, as he rode back to his house.

Dr. Nuja woke back up, and stared at his totaled car. He also realized that he had several broken ribs, a broken arm, and a broken leg. He gasped in pain as he tried to even move. He picked up his cell phone with his good arm, and hit the speed dial. "Come... pick me... up." He said within gasps of pain. "Right away, sir." a British sounding voice said on the other end. A few minutes later a helicopter flew down, and Dr. Nuja was picked up in a stretcher. He was put inside a chamber in which his bones would regrow at a accelerated rate. "Unexpected, but not unthought of." The British sounding man said. "Yes," another voice, sounding like a American, said. "We did not expect the host to be with the bug so soon, but that just means we have to be more careful. Remember our own project." The British sounding man only said, "Yes sir."

James got back to his apartment, and locked the door behind him. By this time, the metal had totally receded into his body. What was that? How did it work? Would it only come in times of emergency? And what in the world was that model? He pulled it out, and set it up on the table. He touched it on the head just like Dr. Kira had done, and it started walking. He tried the absurd thing, and tried to speak to it. "Hello," he said. The Model just kept walking around the table, minding it's own business. James sighed, and gave up. Today had really worn him out, and it was midnight already. He wasn't going to get any sleep tonight, he considered. He got up, and Boris went right around his legs, and onto the table. Not paying attention, James went and made some ramen. When he was done, he noticed the silly cat was batting at the model, and the model looked like it was taunting the animal. That was weird, James thought to himself. He didn't make the model in a taunting pose. But there it was, taunting the cat! James placed the bowl on another smaller table, and picked up the model. Maybe...if it could move it's arms... James grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil. He place both on the table, and started writing with his pen. "Hello" he wrote. The model walked over to the pencil, and picked it up. "What do you want?" It wrote slowly. James was amazed that this model, this thing, showed sentient thoughts. "My name is James." The model wrote back, "Yeah, I could tell that when I saw your name on your paper in class, doofus. So, what do you want?" James stopped writing. He must be hallucinating. Models couldn't write, much less be offensive. As he considered this, he accidentally fell asleep. His dream that night was unsettling.

He ran through the lush jungles of his home world. How could it have come to this? He asked himself. He, a guardian, was supposed to be the most fearless of all warriors of his race, yet here he was, running for his life. He sliced through the dense foliage like it was tissue paper. Why hadn't the mystics foreseen this? This global tragedy was something easily in the scopes of a mystic's power. He saw one of the invaders up ahead. He jumped through the trees and sliced the snake-like being into three pieces. He could see the end of the forest, and the transport ship that was right there. He went double his speed, his legs and arms screaming in pain. But he fought through it. After all, he was used to this sort of treatment. It reminded him when he was first in training. He jumped though the trees, and stood right next to his transport. One other passenger, his wife, was in there already. He climbed on. But before he got in, he looked inside, and saw the mangled corpse of his wife. Her arms were split wide open, and she was literally ripped in half. Unnamable rage filled his mind, his body, and his soul. What kind of race thrived on killing the helpless, the innocent?" He turned around, and saw a swarm of the creatures around him. He formed his arms into blades, and went full fury into the fray.

James woke up to his cat purring on his chest. He got up out of his chair, and looked over to the model. It just stood there, nothing suspicious. He went and gave the cat some food, and got in the shower. After he was done, he got his clothes on and checked the clock. It read 5:00 on the dot. James grumbled, and went outside. On the way to his bike, Mr. Caan stopped him. "James, rent is due," he said, with his hand extended, as if saying he wanted it now. "Alright, Mr. Caan. I'll get it to you by tonight." He mumbled, as he got on his bike and started riding to the college. He got there just in time to catch the late breakfast. He sat down with his meal, and started eating. "Rough night, friend?" a student asked him, as he sat in front of James. James only grunted, and kept eating his breakfast. He didn't even look at the newcomer, he was so tired. "How are the pancakes?" the other student asked him. James just grunted again, and wanted to be left alone. He looked at the new person, and saw that he was of Japanese dissent, but he spoke flawless English. He placed a hand in front of the new kid. "Name's James," he said. The other man took it, and they shook hands. "My name is Daniel. Nice to meet you, James." James let go, and went back to eating. "So, what brings you to a small college like this?" James asked Daniel. "Nothing much. The free food for one. But I also am here because I need a head start on my college career, and I hear that places like this are the best place for that." James listened to the newcomer's words, and finished eating. "Well. that's cool. Nice to meet you, Daniel. You got to go to class soon? Because I do." He got up and placed his trey in the area. "Yes, I have Mathematics 101 soon." That caught James off guard. That was his next class. "Well, follow me then. I have that class next as well." Daniel grabbed his stuff, and followed. They both sat through class, and James noticed that Kaylia was back in class. At the end of class, James could see that he didn't take any notes, probably because of his daydreaming. "You like her, don't you?" Daniel asked. James looked over, "Who are you talking about?" Daniel was right beside him. "That girl you stared at all throughout class. You like her, right?" James feigned ignorance. "I don't know who you are talking about. I was just thinking all class." Daniel gave him a suspicious look, but shrugged. James started heading for the cafeteria, for it was almost lunch. "Hey, you want to grab some food, Daniel?" Daniel shook his head. "I have a class I have to get to. I'll see you at breakfast tomorrow, ok?" He waved goodbye to James. He wasn't a bad kid, James thought to himself. Perhaps they could even be friends, with enough time. He went and got some lunch.

The rest of the day was pretty boring, and when he got back to his apartment, he grabbed the rest of his money for rent. He went to Mr. Caan's office, and knocked on the door. Mr. Caan's 16 year old daughter, Emily, answered the door. "Hello, Emily. Is your father home?" James asked her. She was cute, but in a way that made you think of a little sister. Her eyes always seemed to be looking for something, and you always wanted to help her. She nodded, and called "Papa!" She retreated, and her father came to the door. "Yes?" He asked. James handed over the rest of his money, which Mr. Caan took and counted. He nodded as the rent was paid off. "Thank you." He said, as he shut the door in James' face. He went down to his apartment, and sat down. a rather uneventful day, he considered to himself. He turned, and saw that the model was standing up. He patted it on the head, and it started walking. James watched it walk, then remembered the paper. He went, and took out another piece of paper and a pencil. "Hello," James wrote down. The model just kept walking. So much for that idea, James thought to himself. Then he went into daydreams of Kaylia, and how they could escape into a different place.

James woke with a start. He looked at the clock, and saw that it read 2300. He got up groggily, and went to the kitchen. He was surprised to not feel hungry. I had been lunch when he last ate, but he wasn't hungry, like he usually was. Interesting, he thought to himself. He saw that the cat certainly was, though. He reached up, and found the bag of cat food empty. Good thing he was almost always prepared. He went into his "bed room" which contained nothing except a closet where he kept the cat food. He opened it up, and got out another bag. He was running low on cat food as well. He only had one other bag besides this one. Well, on his next paycheck he should be able to afford some more. He went and filled the cat food bowl, and went to take a shower. Right as he got to his bathroom door, though, he heard a smashing of glass. He turned around, and was automatically pushed back by some unseen force. A skinny, balding man with a head that looked as though his neck could barely support it. "Who...who are you?" James said. "Take what you want, but just leave me and my cat alone." He said, as Boris came from one of the chairs. "I...want you!" the man said in a ghost of a voice, and pointed at James. Strange, though. James could have sworn he didn't see the man's lips move. He put his hand up, and looked away. "Why do you want me? What have I done?" He asked. "You…have taken something….that I want!" The man said I his whisper like voice. James knew that this man, like that doctor before him, was looking for the stone. Why was it his life had only changed for the worse since he had found that stupid rock? He looked at the man again, and said, "I don't know where whatever you are looking for is! Just go away, please!" The man reached out, and right when he was about to grab on to him, James actually woke up.

He was breathing heavily, and had cold sweat on his forehead. He looked at the clock, but first slapped his own wrist. He felt a smart, stinging sensation on his wrist. As he looked at the clock, it read 4:00 am. He got up, a little shaky, and took a shower. After, he fed the cat, and put on some clothes. He then left the apartment, and started to ride to school. While he was riding, he noticed a girl jogging in the same direction as he was. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be Kaylia! He kept watching her, and almost didn't notice the car coming straight at him! He made a quick swerve out of the car's way, but he hit his bike against the pavement, sending him flying off his bike into a nearby lawn. Kaylia, it seemed, had noticed James fly into the lawn, and rushed over to him. "Are you okay?" She asked him, pulling out her headphones. James was a bit groggy from flying into a yard, but still managed a "dunno….," before looking up to see who was talking to him. He saw Kaylia crouched over him, with her jogging suit on. He started to stutter. "I….I think…..I'm……I'm okay……" He tried to get up, but his left leg gave out underneath him. "Oh, I think not. That looks kinda bad……" Kaylia said, looking at his left leg. Indeed, upon inspection, it looked like his leg was swollen quite a bit. "Probably…..a bruise….." James said, trying to get out of this situation. "Mmmmmmm, maybe…" Kaylia said. "We should get you to the hospital, just in case. Come on, I'll drive you there." She helped him up, and slowly, they made their way to her house. It reminded James of his old house. Kinda didn't stand out, but it looked like it had it's own charm. As they entered, Kaylia sat him down on her sofa. It had only one floor, but it had a proper kitchen and living room. It even had it's own bedroom. James sat on the sofa, as Kaylia came back with a ice pack. "Here, put this on your leg," she said. He did as he was told, and sat there. "I'm going to call the hospital, and tell them we are on our way," she said, as she went into her bedroom. This left James alone inside the living room. It had the usual knick-knacks. A Television, random pictures of her everywhere. Her high school grad picture with her parents was a prominent picture in the living room. He looked around, and almost swore this was his old house. But then again, what was he to compare two houses? He had only been living in two places so far. Perhaps all houses looked the same? He sat with the ice pack, and heard water turn on. He guessed that there must be a shower in the bedroom. A few minutes later, Kaylia came out wearing a normal t-shirt, and jeans. "Alright, the hospital and the school both know that we will not be attending class today because of your little incident. So, let's go." She helped him up, and they both went into her car. James was concerned, but he quit stuttering. "I don't think you should waste your day on my account. Once I'm in the hospital, I can take care of myself. But thank you for all you have….." Kaylia cut him off. "I don't think so, mister. You can't get out of this that easily. You will see the doctor, and you will get treated." she said just like a mother talking to a child. James sighed, and waited for the inevitable to happen.

As they got to the hospital, James was seen to right away. As he went into the office, the doctor asked him, "Girlfriend?" James was caught a bit by surprise. "N-n-n-no. Just… just a concerned neighbor." The doctor smiled. "Alright then, My name is Dr. Fey. Let's see that leg." James put up his leg, and the doctor felt along the leg. He had a concerned look on his face. "Have you broken this leg before?" James shook his head, and said, "No, why?" The Dr. Fey scratched his chin, and paced around. "Well, I do feel a crack on your leg, but it also feels like it has had years to heal. Which causes some concern for me. You say that you have never broken that leg. So either you broke your leg and never knew it, which is very unlikely, or you heal incredibly fast. And I mean like if I cut you with a knife, you would stop bleeding within a minute, and heal completely by the next day." He continued to pace around, scratching his chin. "So, I'm ok?" James asked. "What? Oh, yes. You are fine." Dr. Fey said. "Thanks doc." James said, as he left the office. "That boy….he is something different……" The doctor said.

James stepped out of the office, but in the opposite direction of where he came in. He wanted to get away from Kaylia. Though he enjoyed her company immensely, he was also afraid that all he had done was embarrass himself all day. He got out of the hospital, and started toward his apartment. He was taking a shortcut, and he looked to the old church on the corner. He noticed a new gargoyle along the side of the church. He then thought his mind was playing tricks on him, for he saw the thing move. He shook his head, and continued walking.

A svelte, female form got up from her crouched position on the old church. A small laugh was suppressed, when she spoke into her communicator. "Mission one, complete." A strong, though distorted voice spoke back. "Good job, Vengeance. Return to base." She stood up, and made a small salute to the unsuspecting James. "Soon, Cain, soon we will meet face to face…." She jumped off the roof, and completely disappeared.

The day mostly wasted, James decided to go and at least have some dinner. He went back to his apartment, and made some ramen. His cat rubbed up against his leg, and started purring. "Hey Boris. You sure are affectionate today," James said to his cat. He finished up making his ramen, and sat down to read a book. He reached over to the table where he usually kept his books, and realized that it was also the table he had put Dr. Kira's model on. But when he looked over, he didn't see it! He looked around the table, and all throughout the house, and finally found it on his bedroom window sill. He wondered how it got up there. He hadn't touched the darn thing, so how did it get up there? He shrugged, and pulled it down. "Let's see what makes you tick…." James said to the model. He got out his small mechanics kit, and pulled out a screwdriver. The funny thing was, there were no screws in the small model! That either meant that the whole thing was like one large clock inside, and the exterior was just that, a shell. Or….it could be something much more fascinating…..James took out his small chisel, and a small hammer, and found a divide in the model. He wedged the chisel inside the divide, and started slowly hammering. Within a half hour, with mostly meaningless effort, James finally cracked the shell. He opened it slowly, and was amazed to see what was inside. A completely dedicated power source….it looked like a small nuclear reactor! And cogs that, if James didn't know any better, formed joints and limbs! James sat and pondered this new discovery. But how did it work? If it was something as complex as he thought it was….then it should at least know how to speak….except…..maybe it just didn't know how to speak! James was thinking of all the possibilities, and slowly, while thinking of these things, fell asleep. His hand accidentally closed the seal, meaning that James would have another half hour to spend re-opening the darn thing. James slipped into another dream, not noticing one thing.

He was on a harsh, desert plain. The surface looked like it had been scorched by the two suns above for decades. He had his cloak wrapped around him tightly to serve as some protection against the harsh winds sweeping across the plain. His staff, the only thing that was left of his family besides himself, he clung on for dear life. He was going to get off this rock, finally. It was his, along with three of his colleagues, mission. He was looking forward to leaving, but also some regret. He was the last of his family. There were no children to leave behind to carry on in his name. He thought it might just be better this way. Czen looked at the temple and thought, with hope, that this would be the last time he would ever see the place. He climbed the 1000 steps to get to the entrance. Two guards stood sentry, but automatically came to attention when he passed by. Czen was the most decorated of his caste. A Mystic. He could tell what was going to happen in both battle and normal life before most of the elders even dreamt of it. The problem had become, though, that his judgment had become clouded of late. The deep space sanctuary was established for just such a occasion. A time for meditation, and reflection upon his chosen path. Though Czen had a different agenda. He would take the ship, and go explore. As he boarded, he waved goodbye to his kin. They would be better off without him, he told himself. He felt the ship take off, and headed for the stars.

James woke from his dream, and looked at the clock. He went to sleep around 10:00 pm, and it was only 11:00! He resigned himself, and went back to sleep. He woke up again at 3:00 am, and decided to get up. Besides that dream, nothing exciting had happened the rest of the night. He did his normal routine, and got out of the house. It was still a bit early, so he decided to take a more scenic route. While he was enjoying what remained of the foothills, he thought he spotted something jumping off one of the hills. He dismissed it, thinking that it was probably a bird or something. He kept riding, and looked forward on the road. He heard a whistling sound, and looked up. A person was falling form the sky! He swerved out of the way, and the person slammed into the road, creating a giant hole. He stopped his bike, and looked into the hole. A person, that was for sure, was curled up in a ball. He really didn't want to get in the same situation twice, so he went forward as fast as he could. He got to school just in time to get to his first class. Much to his surprise, Kaylia sat right next to him. "So, how's your leg?" she asked. "Fine….just fine," James replied. "Sorry I left you, by the way," he added. She smiled. "It's alright. I had to make a emergency meeting anyway with Dr. Kira." James smiled. He knew that a meeting with Dr. Kira, especially a emergency one, had to be interesting. As class started, James took diligent notes, but was still distracted by Kaylia. Why had she sat next to him? Why was he so interesting? He pondered these questions, then the bell rang. He gathered his stuff, and left. He went out to the cafeteria, and rested his eyes. He had always longed for her, true, but he wanted to take it in small steps. Oh well, maybe it was a mixed blessing. He opened up his backpack, and was surprised to see a note. It wasn't in any handwriting he could recognize, either. It read "Meet me right beside your apartment, on Line St. We have much to discuss." James was confused, and threw the paper away. He got up, and left for his next class.

James finished school, and rode his bike back home. He didn't have anything exciting happen, except he saw Daniel again, but just in passing. He waved to him, and he waved back. He went to his work after, though. The Garage, as it was called, was a place only few people knew about, but the customers always paid well, and there were few, if any, complaints. James got off his bike, and got into his coveralls. He quickly went to work, fixing cars that came in every so often to be fixed. He got up to take a break, and saw someone looking in his general direction. She looked about 17 to 18, maybe still in high school. She also looked lost. James was concerned for her, and walked over. "Hey, you lost?" he asked. The girl looked a bit afraid to see him, but slowly nodded her head. "Where do you live? Near here?" James asked. The girl answered "Line street," in a small voice. James smiled. "Can you wait till I'm done here? I live near Line street." The girl looked away, and shook her head. No doubt, though. He just imagined what he looked like, a grungy, garage worker, asking to take her home! He almost laughed at himself. "Alright, you see that street down there, Pean street?" He pointed straight down the road. The girl nodded her head. "You go down there, turn right at Gene street, and head straight down. You will reach there in about, a hour from now on foot." The girl smiled, and started running down to the first street he mentioned. He felt a bit better, but also was concerned for the girl. He knew that not everyone was as kind as he was. He cleaned up, and got on his bike. The manager saw him leaving, and asked about him. "Listen, I'll come back tomorrow, alright?" James said, as he took off. The manager stopped him. He smiled, and said, motioning down the street, "You are going to make sure she's going to get home safe, right? Don't worry about work." He put a check in James' hand. "Are you sure? I mean, thank you, sir," He said, smiling as he rode his bike down to Pean street.

When he got to the street, though, he didn't see the girl. He wondered down the road, and eventually got down to Line street. He still didn't see anyone, though. James was concerned, and rode down the street for a bit. He didn't see anyone, but felt like he was being watched. He went to take the turn to go to his apartment, but was surprised to find the girl just standing there. James made a quick stop, and got off his bike. "You okay?" He asked her. But something was different about the girl now. She no longer seemed lost, or shy for that fact. She quickly nodded, and pulled James into the ally between two houses. "Are we being watched?" she asked in a hushed tone. James thought this girl was crazy! One minute, she was a shy, lost little girl. Now she was playing secret agent? What was up with the world? He didn't know what to say, so he kept his mouth shut. She looked hard at him. "So you got my note, right?" she said. This girl had written that note? "Yeah, I got it." he said in a normal voice. "Shhhhh!" she hushed him. "We don't know who is listening! It is important for you to know, there are more things going on than you may think. You remember that guy who tried to kill you? There are more of those people out there," she said in a rushed whisper. "Wait, how do you know about that man? How long have you been watching me?" he said in a horrified whisper. "Long enough. Now listen, you must learn to train your power. It is imperative to the mission," she whispered. "What? What are you talking about? I have no power. I'm just normal!" he said, and started running away. That woman was crazy! And a stalker to boot! He quickly got on his bike, and started riding as fast as he could in any direction. He quickly realized that he then had no bearing on where he was. He stopped, and looked around for any familiar landmarks, then noticed another bike heading his way. Wait……was it a bike? He squinted, and noticed it was a person. Who was moving incredibly fast! He dove out of the way, and his bike crashed into the person. The bike crumpled as it impacted with the person. He looked up, and almost had a double take. He saw what looked like Cain! But upon closer inspection, it was definitely female. James tried crawling away, afraid of what this new arrival could do. He couldn't tell by her face, for it was covered by a visor, but he felt her leer at him. If she didn't look so deadly, James would have thought he was living some bizarre fantasy. But, as he was baking up, the woman picked him up by his leg. A solid blade formed on her other arm. James almost wet himself. What had he done to deserve this? Then, he felt the cold bitterness of the blade being stuck through his gut. He looked up, and blood splattered all over his face. His own blood. He was dropped on the ground, and he immediately curled up into a ball, and shivered as all the warmth left his body.

Vengeance started walking away. That kid was supposed to be Cain? She almost laughed. It wasn't even a challenge on how easy that was. The blade retracted back into her arm, and she felt the sickening pleasure of a cut healing. She sighed. It would have been interesting at least if the kid had tried to transform. Didn't he know how? He had his power for a lot longer than she had hers, so it would have made sense. Oh well, she said to herself. It didn't matter anymore. She turned the corner, then leapt up into the air. She was leaping from roof top to roof top, and then felt as if she hit a brick wall. She stumbled back, and looked around. There was nothing around her, she made sure of that! Then, she saw something floating in the distance. She magnified her own vision, and saw something she did not expect. A man……no it definitely wasn't human, but it was male. In a white with blue trim cloak. And a staff. She opened her communications link. "Who in the world is that? A new alien?" The voice called back. "It is not on our records. Terminate it." Vengeance confirmed, and started running toward the new anomaly. She then felt as if she hit a wall of bricks again, and realized what this new arrival was. A spell caster. She sat there, and told it to her comm link. "Prepare for immediate extraction….." the voice said back. A helicopter swung around right on top of her. Before she left, though, she captured a image of the new thing. "We will meet again, alien…." she said as she leaped aboard the helicopter.

Czen watched, and let the helicopter go. It was no threat to him, any more. That woman, though, could be a problem. She had the same traits as his shipmate and guardian, Cain, had. And if it was one thing that Czen learned from Cain, it was that determination could beat magic, to some degree. He looked down, and thought of his new home. He was there in a instant, and went to sleep.

James woke the next morning with a start. He knew, by his memory, that he should be dead right now. He looked down at his gut, and saw a large scar running up his sternum. He confirmed that he should be dead now. He even wondered how he got back to his apartment. He felt something in his pocket, and reached inside to find his check. He looked at his clock, and saw it was 5:00 in the morning. It was also Saturday. He went out, and remembered that his bike was ruined. He started walking towards his bank, and was enjoying his walk immensely. It was a nice, cool autumn morning. He watched as all the people were doing whatever they were doing, and was a little sad for them. They had probably never taken the time to take a nice walk in the morning. He eventually got to his bank, and went inside. He said hello to the clerk who always served him, and he deposited his check. He then asked for a small withdrawal, and collected his money. He then went to a small grocery store, where he bought some ramen and cat food. The grocery store workers all knew him by name, and waved at him as he passed by in the isles. He smiled and waved back. When he was in the buy line, he picked up a chocolate bar. "Oh, splurging today, are we?" the woman, Janet, said. James made a awkward smile, and nodded. "So, how is school going for you?" Janet asked. "Oh, fine. Just doing my studies and getting along, I guess." he took the chocolate, and bit into it. Now, since he had moved out of his home, James never even thought of chocolate, for he knew he would need every cent to survive. As he bit into it, James experienced a whole new plethora of tastes. It was no longer just the noodles and flavoring. He tasted the sweetness of the chocolate, and all the combinations of bitterness and flavors that came with it. He almost was overwhelmed by the taste. He carried his food back to his house. He noticed that strange, creepy girl again, and decided to go away before she saw him, lest he be pulled into another creep-fest. He got to his house, dropped off his stuff, and found his cat. He sat down, while Boris curled up right in his lap. James petted the cat, and started to relax. He needed it after this hectic week.

James woke the next morning, fully rested and ready. He got his clothes on, and got some breakfast. He fed his cat, and left his apartment. He knew that nothing was going on today, so he decided to visit someone. It seems that it would only be fair, he considered to himself. He got to the house, and knocked on the door. Kaylia answered the door, and seemed a bit surprised to see him. "Hey….." James said. "Hi, James. How are you?" she asked. "Fine, thank you. Hey, um…..you want to…..uh….take a walk with me?" he asked sheepishly. Kaylia blinked a few times, then said a short "sure." before she backed away from the door. "Come on in. I'll be a minute." she went down the hallway, while James sat on the same sofa as the first time he had come in. He waited, and within a few minutes, she came back out. She had a cute getup on, a black t-shirt and jeans with tennis shoes. "Well, you want to take a walk, right?" James got up, and walked out the door. She followed him, locking the door behind her.

"So, does this have anything in particular to do with me?" Kaylia asked. She had seemed a bit tense the other day in class, so James decided to explore on that point. "Has anything been bothering you lately?" James asked, and looked up into the breezy autumn sky. It had been a good day to choose walking, he complimented himself. She looked out onto the city. James had taken her to his place of peace. It was on top of a big hill that overlooked the whole town. Her red hair blew in the cool air. They had been on top of this hill most of the day, and her face was even more pretty in the sunset's embrace. "It's just, I don't know. I feel….alone. I mean, I am separated from my parents, and it's like a new life is starting. You know what I mean?" She looked at James. Now, keep in mind, this was the girl he had liked all throughout school. Now was his chance to bond, to make a foundation for his hopeful new relationship. Unfortunately, He is a guy. The best he could come up with was a awkward "Yeah….sort of…." He mentally kicked himself, and cursed his small vocabulary when it came to talking. On any other day, if Daniel had asked that question, James would have probably gone into detail on the philosophical ideas of new life and how it is all relative to the observer. But today, all he could come up with was a "Yeah," How stupid must that have sounded? On their way back to Kaylia's house, they made similar small talk, but nothing, to James' head, to make up for his abysmal mistake on the hilltop. When they reached Kaylia's house, she unlocked the door, and stood in the doorway. "It was nice talking to you, James. We should do this more often," Kaylia said, smiling. "Yeah, definitely." James said, and started walking away. "Ummmm, James?" Kaylia asked. "Hmmmm?" James mumbled, turning around. Kaylia came down, and hugged him. "Thank you for listening to me. It has been a long time since I have been able to talk like that…." She went back to her doorstep, and entered her house.

James walked down the street with a bit of renewed confidence. So he didn't completely screw up! He at least got a hug from Kaylia, and that was enough for him. He was walking, quite content with himself. He kept walking, but felt bit uneasy after a while. It was like someone was looking at him from a distance, but James couldn't pinpoint the location. He mentally shrugged it off, and continued walking. After about ten minutes, he was about to go up the stairs to his apartment. But just as he was about to take the first step, he was tackled. Confused, James looked around and saw that the strange girl from before had done it! "You! Why do you want to be so involved in my life?" James asked her a bit forcefully. "Because I work for the people who try to protect people like you!" The girl said. She reached inside her blouse, and pulled out a I.D. "I usually have to keep this close to my heart, but seeing as how this is a emergency situation….." She showed the I.D. to James. It read Ophelia Kira. "Wait, Kira? Are you related to…." James was cut off. "Dr. Kira? Yes. She is my grandmother. I, like her, also specialize in mechanics. She showed him her wrist watch. "Looks like a normal watch, right?" She asked. James nodded, and thought that she was going to reveal some super watch. "Well, it is," She said. James was caught off guard, and wondered what her point was. "But," She continued, "This is no ordinary backpack," She took her back pack off, and opened it. James looked inside, and saw that it was holding much more than he thought possible. Although it seemed like it was a normal backpack, there were several large text books, a few odds and ends, and what looked like a filled gym bag inside. But on the outside, it looked almost empty! Well, that was something! "And it weighs next to nothing," she added, and James picked up the bag. It was true, there was almost no weight to it! "Ok, I'll admit that is a wonder, but how can I know that you are legitimate?" James asked. "Well, will you trust me?" She held out a hand. James considered. This woman seemed like she stalked him, but if it was for his own protection….it was hard to not admire that. Also, this was the grand-daughter of Dr. Kira, how bad could she be? He was about to take her hand, when a explosion went off nearby. James turned, and was looking just in time to get punched in the face by that same thing as the day before. James went flying into the pavement, and heard a crunch come form his midsection. As the pain surged though his body, he also felt the urge for something to get out. As he was about to get up, he got kicked in the stomach, making him cough up blood. He rolled over, and his vision started to blur. He felt a cold crawling across his body, and slipped away into unconsciousness.

Ophelia peeked around the corner, and saw that James was doubled over in pain. She also thought she saw a hint of metal crawling across his hand. That woman-thing, Identified by her organization as Vengeance, was nearing James. She felt paralyzed, however. She had never been this close to the action before. She had seen tapes and such, but never thought that she would be on the front line someday. She stood there, frozen, and saw that her objective was going to die, right in front of her eyes. She closed them, and waited for the inevitable to happen.

Vengeance bore down on her target. She would make sure, this time, that the target would die right in front of her.

Cain awoke.

James, unknowingly, stood up, and raised his hands in attack. Vengeance almost laughed, it was such a funny sight. Then she saw the metal that had covered the boy's body, and saw that it was spreading fast. She rushed at what she knew as Cain, but was easily defected by the warrior. She snarled, and went for a kick to his head. He merely dodged, and swept her remaining foot with his own. The metal at this point covered his entire body, and the helmet was formed. "I am Cain Zar, and I will defend this body." The boy, now Cain, said. Blades sprang forth from both arms, from the elbow to the fingertips. Cain rushed in, and hit Vengeance full in the face, cracking her visor. What phenomenal power that being had, and speed as well! She knew that she was outmatched for this fight. Perhaps if her masters had better prepared her for this fight. "Well, Cain, it was nice to meet you, but I'm afraid I will have to meet you another time." Vengeance said, and a pure, incandescent light sprang right where she was. Cain, temporarily blinded, focused on this being's presence. Unfortunately, it disappeared right as he tried to lock into it. The metal receded, the danger being gone, and James fell to the ground once more.

Once the light dissipated, Ophelia went and collected James. She pulled out her cell phone, and hit one of her speed dial numbers. "Hey, come get me. I have our new friend as well." She said. About five minutes, A car came screaming down the road. It came to a screeching halt right in front of Ophelia. She got her new item, and told the person driving "Back to base," Before attending to James' wounds.

He crawled through the wilderness with ease. True, there were guards posted all around the complex, but he made it a point for them not to see him. It was almost too easy, this mission he was on. The guards were dumb, and could be distracted by any thing that had more than one solid color on it. He made a mental note to always work against this corporation, because this was getting fun. Cido was just a whisper of the wind, and gone just as fast. He made his way, quietly and quickly, to the complex. He opened a door which he knew was unguarded. He pulled off his camo mask, and looked into a mirror. His sleek, lean features on his face matched his shortly cropped dirty blond hair, and his piercing, electric blue eyes looked as though they had seen both wonders and tragedies great and small. He moved on, into the next room with caution. His shoes, custom made to distribute his weight onto the strongest surface, prevented most noises that could come from clumsy feet. He also had a Kevlar suit that actively camouflaged itself with almost any environment. He had eye implants that traced heat signatures, so he would never be caught off guard. His suit also suppressed what heat his own body gave off, which was almost nothing. He was a genetically engineered spy. Body regulating system that gave off little to no heat. Muscle enhancements that gave him greater stamina and faster running speeds than any other physical being. He wasn't supposed to exist. All of his kind had been killed, found to be too good at their jobs. He had seen it coming, so he had escaped his planet's persecution only weeks before they were all hunted down and killed. He now worked for the highest bidder, but was always on the run, hoping that he would never meet that which killed his compatriots. He got to the top of the building, and saw the safe in front of him. He smirked, and started working on the safe. Being at a genius level of intelligence, he cracked the safe's lock in about 3 minutes. He opened it, and saw his objective. H small, but very expensive, vial of a antitoxin that would cure millions on the current planet he was on. He pocketed the vial, and closed the safe. He turned around, and saw three guns pointed at his head. "You know…." he said in a silky tone, "that floorboards are so unreliable, right?" and he snapped his fingers. A small, but precise explosion sounded, and the three guards fell through the floor. He smiled, and put his camo mask back on. He jumped out of a window that had no glass, and made his way to the ground level. He ran off into the night, and no one ever saw him again.

James woke up in a strange place, and blinked a few times to clear his head. He looked around, and saw that he was not in his apartment. It looked like a doctor's office, but saw no doctors. He went to the door, and opened it. "Hello?" he called out, not knowing if anyone was there or not. He kept walking, and saw another door a few steps away on his right. He opened the door, and saw that strange girl……Ophelia. She was sleeping on a couch. He saw that it was a dirty couch, though. Water spots and dust lined it, mostly on the actual seats. He made his way over to her, and tried to shake her awake. She woke up, and looked a bit startled to see him up. He smiled, and offered a hand to help her up.

As he reached out to her, Ophelia was amazed. From the looks of things, it looked like he had fully healed from all of his wounds. "It must have something to do with the stone," she thought to herself. She took his hand, and got up. "How are you feeling, James?" she asked. "Fine," he said, and he put his hands to his sides. "You said you work for the people who protect people like me. What did you mean by that?" he asked. Ophelia looked away, then looked directly at James. "Here, let me show you," she said, as she started walking through doors that had so many twists and turns, you would need to memorize it twice to know the actual layout of the building.