It was Christmas NC 1957 when Maverick's best friends had found out that he had teamed up with a criminal organisation and had supplied them with weapons built from the technology the scientist couple had developed, so his Hero TV show would become more exciting. And they wanted him to atone for his sins by making everything public.

Were they kidding?

He had done his best to convince said public that Heroes - scratch that - NEXTs were at least as good as them, if not better due to their enhanced powers. And now he should confess his crimes so they would scorn him and his work and maybe the press would find out about him being a NEXT, too, and all he had worked so hard for until now would go down the drain?

He know he couldn't bribe them to keep their mouth shut, they had too much money on hand as it was already. And he couldn't argue his way out, they were way too straightforward people. What was he supposed to do to silence them? Maybe he could somehow knock them out and overwrite their memories?

While he still sat there and wracked his brain what to do next, his eyes caught sight of Barnaby senior taking off the telephone's receiver from its hook.

His mind decided then that this was the moment their friendship ended. He jumped out of his seat, lunged out and got lit candles plus man knocked to the floor in a second. Quite interesting what adrenaline could do to the body if one was only excited enough. He didn't wait for the woman to cry out her husband's name, nor for said husband to recover from the hit as he shot one bullet through each of their hearts.

A shame, really, but a necessary evil on his way to rebuilt society. Now what should he tell the police? A robbery story?


There was something in the corner of his eyes.

Was someone watching him?

The smoke of his gun hadn't even blown off yet as he turned to the side, looking into the widely opened eyes of his dead friends' kid while the flames spreading from the knocked over candles started to engulf the whole room and the mourning singer of the opera from the background music got to its tragic dramatic climax.

A climax, indeed, the brat had turned around an ran for it now.

He must have seen him fire the second shot, no use in telling a lie about some robber if there was a witness to this murder. He had to hunt him down, too.

The stupid kid had chosen the way up to his room instead of the way out through the front door, but Maverick had to admit the brat could run really fast, since he only heard the door slam shut on the second floor. But still, did he forget that Maverick WAS the best friend of his parents and knew the layout of the house like the palm of his hand? And as if some door, locked or not, could stop Maverick from getting into his room. Well, there was the way of force or the way of trust. Maybe he hadn't really seen him being the aggressor.

"Barnaby, are you in there? It's me, uncle Maverick." He tried to sound as friendly as possible, while he cocked his weapon again.

"Get away! You shot mommy! And surely you killed daddy, too!"

So he HAD seen him, a pity, really. So it would be a tragic family murder without anybody surviving the attack of the 'robber'.

As mentioned before, there was the way of force now. But the door seemed very solid and shooting a lock and then kicking the door in was only something for tv cops to do. So, what resort of 'trust' did he have left?

"I see, you don't want to talk to me. I'm going to look for Ms. Samantha next, then. I believe, I remember her address was-"

The door was slammed open and the kid stood there and hollered to him: "Don't you hurt Aunt Samantha!"

How did the boy manage to run up to the door so fast without Maverick even hearing him? Well, didn't matter, he had aimed and shot already. The kid would fall to the floor and- Why was he still standing? The kid had only lifted up his arm to his face in defense!

Maverick shot again - useless.

Had his damn parents designed some sort of armored jacket for the kid that he was STILL not going down?

He got the boy by the collar of his jacket, yanked him up against the doorframe and held the gun directly to his throat to fire again.

The bullet bounced off of him and got stuck to the opposite doorframe instead.

When he looked back to the kid in wonder, he finally recognized the blue glow in the teary eyes of Barnaby. He was a NEXT, God dammit! And what kind of a NEXT!

Maverick was impressed and grinned like a madman as his brain overflowed with ideas. With Legend starting to get less attention and new Heroes needed urgently, how could he let a chance like that slip through his fingers?

Not to mention, now that he thought about it, a good reason for letting the brat alive was his considerable fortune which might prove useful as a way to start some business with the Ouroborous again, maybe he could even buy into it. His maddening grin spread wider and wider as he summed up all the possibilties while the child struggled against his hold without success. Well, rebound ability had its disadvantages, too, as one might have seen with Mr. Legend, but still...

Little Barnaby started to roar and his runny eyes glowed even more furiously as he seemed to pool all his strengths to escape Maverick's hold. Surprisingly, he was able to slap away Maverick's hand and to shove him into the next wall very hard, before he started to run for it again. This was no rebounding power, was it? Maverick thought as he shook his head in dizziness and had a look at the kid runnig very fast to the front door this time. The man took aim at the door now and fired a shot yet again to scare the boy who hesitated for a moment and dared to look back to his 'uncle', who had managed to get back on his feet up the flight of stairs. Regaining his senses, the boy tried to pull the doorhandle again, as he suddenly collapsed and slid down to the floor with a moan. He did so without Maverick's assistance, though, which surprised the man yet again.

Stashing his gun to the inner pocket of his jacket while walking over to the boy, Maverick took note of the fire spreading farther and farther around the house the longer it burned. Well, he had no desire for keeping the house anyway, but the growing amount of smoke started to get annoying. He pressed a handkerchief to his mouth and finally arrived next to the boy who still lay there face down without moving a muscle. He slowly turned him over with his foot and saw the kid had broken out in quite a sweat and breathed heavily. Maybe holding up the NEXT power had taken its toll on the kid's body. Whatever the reason, the flames started to flare up from the living room and would soon burn the whole house down. Maverick unceremoniously flicked the kid over his shoulder and opened and closed the front door like a gentleman would.

He should call the fire brigade and the police, after all there was fire and a crime had taken place here. What was it again? Oh yes, a robbery, oh he should have taken some jewellery to make it more believeable then. Maybe Maverick had come over to visit his friends' house for Christmas Eve and surprised the robber as he was about to shoot the kid who had seen the killing. Maverick had scared him away with his gun, but oh, the flames had been too high already to get to the Barnaby's when he saw them in the living room on his way back. He was only able to safe the son from the flames, yes. Dramatic, heroic, just the way that he wanted it. And with the kid being unconscious now, it would be easy enough to create a witness for Maverick's view on the events. After all, what good was it to be a NEXT with the ability to implant new memories if one didn't use it occasionally to give oneself an edge from time to time?

No, no, wait, that scenario still had too many flaws. The worst were the bullets left inside the corpses and in the doorframe of Barnaby's room. Even if he could get rid of the gun, the thing was still accredited to him. The police could look it up without problems and then telling them the robber had the same gun by coincidence wouldn't look too good. No, no, he needed a watertight alibi, but what would be good?

The kid stirred in his sleep and startled him like hell, but he only murmured the name of the old lady that took care of him and otherwise functioned as a housekeeper for his family. The boy had taken a stroll with her if Maverick remembered correctly. At least that was what his parents had told him before the discussion went from Christmas presents to his involvement with a certain criminal syndicate.

Wait, what? Samantha knew of him visiting, too. He had greeted her before she went out with the kid to spent Christmas with him (or, more likely, to prevent Barnaby from listening to the ugly conversation between him and his parents). So he had to kill her, too, after all? He had only bluffed about that before.

But wait!

He still could make that work!

Samantha had the alibi he wanted and Barnaby would be the perfect witness for said alibi. All he needed to do was to overwrite her memories, too. Talking an old lady like her into letting him into her house would not be a big deal. And it was winter, right? People caught colds during winter. Colds prevented people from taking a stroll on the outside.

Wasn't that scenario just perfect?

Barnaby turned in his sleep again, so Maverick better hurried to implant the new memories' to the kid. He had still to call the police and maybe some ambulance after all, since the poor, poor kid didn't feel so good now. While he overwrote what Barnaby later would be able to recollect from the incident, another idea struck Maverick and he used it to give the 'robber' the identity of a member of a certain criminal organisation who liked to tattoo a serpent eating its own tail to their body. The murderer's hand holding the gun would have to do for that place.