James Castle

James Castle

Prologue: War Journal

A man in his early thirties sat in a dark hotel room, his gaze fixed on the small lump in the bed. He eyed the lump curiously, taking a drink from the bottle of alcohol he had in one hand. He let out a breath as he pulled his other hand to his mouth, pressing the record button on the small tape recorder. "War Journal, date is September 13th, scratch that, 14th by now," his eyes narrowed as he thought over the events of the night. "Mission was botched from the get go," he mused, taking another drink.

"I got a tip about Dmitri being in the area on a mission, turns out a money launderer for the Russian mob was skimming off the top, so they sent him in to clean the whole family out as a lesson," he continued in a monotone. "By the time I got to the house, he had the job done. The place was on fire, he was standing outside, smoking a cigar waiting for me," he thought back to the meeting.

"Hello there Frank, fancy meeting you here," the Russian smiled as he took a large puff of the cigar. "I hear you have been looking for me, you don't approve of my work? I'm hurt," the man taunted.

"You're a criminal and a killer, I am going to end your sick little life tonight," Frank replied, his hand resting on the handles of his pistols.

"Not very likely Frank, I think I have information that puts us at a standstill here tonight," the Russian laughed as he turned on Frank and walked towards his motorcycle. "I killed Dursley, his wife, and his child as I was paid to, they were dead 45 minutes ago, before I started the fire," he explained calmly. "Turns out they had a dirty little secret," he tilted his head at the house. "I'm not a monster Frank, I just like to make things interesting," he laughed as he straddled the motorcycle. "Under the stairs, hopefully he hasn't died from the smoke yet," Dmitri mock saluted Frank before driving off.

"The job was done when I got there, Dmitri had a plan to keep me occupied," he frowned at the tape recorder. "When he left I broke down the door and entered the house, the place was well on it's way to be an inferno. I found the stairs he mentioned fast enough, but the sick bastard had wired the door under the stairs to blow," his gaze softened at the shape on the bed.

"Anyone there?!" Frank shouted through the door, trying to listen for any signs of life. He heard something faintly, glancing down to see fingers belonging to a small hand sticking out from the bottom of the door. "Damn it," he swore as he realized the person trapped was a child. He went away from the locked door to the stairwell, pulling out his sawed off shotgun and started shooting, at an angle that he wouldn't hit the kid. After half a dozen shots, he had chipped away the wood enough that he could break it apart with his hands. "Anyone here?" he asked as he stuck his head into the hole he had made.

The kid in the closet, no… it was his room, Frank realized, was terrified, curled in the corner in a fetal position, coughing from the smoke permeating the house. "Don't hurt me…" the kid cried as he rocked back and forth.

Frank extended his arm across the small room, nearly reaching the kid. "I'm not going to hurt you, but we need to get you out of here now," he said softly. "I'm one of the good guys, trust me," Frank smiled as the kid slowly shuffled over and was lifted from the wreck of a stairwell. "It's okay, you're safe now," he comforted the kid as they made their way to his van across the street. "Here, get some rest while I get us out of here," he set the kid on the middle row of seats, draping his trench coat over him.

The kid's eyes looked over Frank as he settled in to rest. "Thank you…" he whispered before unconsciousness took over.

"Kid passed out once I got him out of that place, and after what I saw, if Dmitri hadn't killed that family, I probably would have," he glared at the recorder. "The building went up properly as I was driving away, the explosives he put on the kid's door must have been the good ones, I doubt any bodies will ever be found," he rubbed his head taking another drink. "I pulled Max up on the video link as I was driving back, I wanted to see if he had any idea how Dmitri knew I was coming."

"Frank, you look like shit," the man's accented voice started talking before the video feed got running. "Ran into some trouble, did you?"

"Can it Max," Frank glared at where he knew the camera lens was. "Dmitri knew I was coming, he was waiting for me."

"I'll make some inquiries, what kind of a trap did he set for you?" the man apologized as the video screen came up finally.

"The family was dead when I got there, he had the house on fire and rigged to explode. They had a kid locked under the stairwell Max, Dmitri let me know before he ran off," Frank let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding in.

"Jesus, is the kid okay?" Max questioned his partner.

"Yeah, I had to shoot the stairwell apart to get him out. Dmitri was kind enough to wire the explosives to the door to the closet they kept him in," Frank said coldly. "He's out like a light now, from all the smoke inhalation and god knows what else they did to him," he responded.

"What you gonna do with him?" Max inquired.

"I'm gonna drop him at first hospital I can get him into and me out of safely," Frank replied after a bit. "Kid threw me for a loop when I saw him, looks a lot like Junior did, with that messy hair and all," Frank allowed himself a small smile.

"Getting all nostalgic on me there Frank, I never would have guessed it from you," Max laughed.

"Yeah, that's where it ended though, kid's eyes are brightest green I have ever seen, I swear they almost glowed in that room of his," Frank laughed. "Got an ugly scar on his head too, gonna need a good plastic surgeon to get that lightning bolt off," Frank chuckled, not noticing the silence from his partner. "You still there Max?" he waved his hand at the camera.

"Frank, pull over now, show me the kid's face," Max said in a voice that Frank knew meant business.

"I always knew Max had some strange ways for getting information and all, but this was way out of right field," he said before taking a large gulp from the bottle. "An entire society of magic users, living among, but hiding from the rest of us," he exhaled deeply. "Can't blame them though, what with how mutants have been treated the last few decades," he glanced over as the kid stirred in his sleep.

"From what Max told me, that kid is the real deal though, somehow beat the biggest and baddest of the wizards when he was a year old," Frank relaxed a bit. "No family left though, lost them a long time ago," he looked at the alcohol he was swirling in his bottle. "The kid needs protected, Max said his name was Harry," he finished as he clicked the recorder off.