Part I: Introduction: Destiny 1 “You have to become a presence; A fearful glint in your enemy’s eye. You are the numb one, yet completely awake; a reactive creature, not a reflective being.” “How you are is a tool, but what you are is a Creeper. A wind in the night that may sweep through and over any terrain or environment, completing the enemy’s destiny as it is your own to do so.” “An enemy must be destroyed. Mercy is used with extreme caution, and only for peaceful reasons between the opposition and yourself.” Bring these items: 1. 4 pairs black BDU cargo pants 2. 4 pairs micro fiber long sleeve shirts 3. one sleeping bag 4. one pillow 5. 4,000 in large bills Make your decision wisely. We will meet you in the lobby of the Lincoln Center at 5 A.M. for your decision in three days. If you fail to comply to our instructions, you will die. You are ready to become one of us. “That was in my mailbox this morning.” I said as I flopped down the large green envelope on Jeremy’s desk. Jeremy leans in to peer at the nonexistent return address, and to read it himself. He’s in a typical white collar gray suit with a gold tie, as if he was Donald Trump. “This is ridiculous. Sounds like one of these activist groups that take too much after conspiracy theories and movies alike.” “Maybe. I wonder what they will do if I don’t meet them.” I thought out loud. Jeremy chuckles at this. “Nothing. They will do nothing because it’s probably just the neighbor boys next door playing a prank on you.” I smirked at this, considering I live in a nice apartment complex at the heart of Denver. “Anyway, thought you might like to see that before I go missing in three days.” I said to him, grinning. I work as a telemarketer. That was the last time I ever saw Jeremy, or anyone for that matter, from that lifelong career. Little did I know, that in three days, I wouldn’t ever be part of anything that wasn’t part of the Temple. 2 Boom. Someone is knocking on my door. It’s too late; I’ll deal with people in the morning. BOOM. I wake up, groaning. Okay, okay! I get up and stumble through my remarkably furnished apartment (despite my paycheck) to the heavily locked and chained door. Someone better be dying to wake me up at this early. I unbolt the door and crack it just a little, my sleep filled eye peering out into the brightly lit hallway. A black, gaunt janitor clutching his chest appears, as if he was about to go to the next door. I watch in mild shock as the man cries for help, blood pouring from his chest, seeping down his blue coveralls. “Help-p me, please!” I am frozen; I had never seen that much blood. What should I do? Of course I am going to help this man. It is apparent he will die if I don’t, and I happen to know the pompous neighbors wouldn’t get up out of bed at this hour if 20 men were dying in the hallway. I pull the door open and begin to help the man lay down on my spotless white couch. The man is moaning and covering the wound with his bloody hand. “It’s going to be fine, I’ll call the ambulance! Just lay down, keep your feet up. Keep your feet-” I didn’t expect the violent attack coming from the suddenly strong and large man in my humble abode. His attack was vicious. From lying on his back, his knee hit me square in the temple, jarring my vision into little black holes that danced around my apartment. I yielded the swift strike at my face from the now upright bloody janitor, and spun my body into a swift outside crescent to his nose. Just what I fear would happen, happened; Blood all over my white carpet. Great. I finish him off with an axe kick to the back of his neck as he doubles up from the previous blow. He falls to the ground, out cold. My breath is heavy. Hadn’t had to do that in a while. How could he have tricked me so royally! I need to keep my guard up. My foot is bloody. I went to the kitchen and washed my foot from the crazed janitor’s blood. “Guess I had better call the police…and maybe a paramedic.” I say out loud. I sit on my white couch and dial the authorities. I hate living in this city. I wasn’t meant to live this way, at least not meant to be a damn telemarketer. I look up at my black belt, framed in a dark black case, my prized accomplishment in Shao-lin Kung Fu. What a rush…I kind of miss combat. I started to think about my past dealings with fighting. At the ripe age twelve I had a black belt in karate, but it wasn’t enough for me. I had been bullied throughout school, and no matter what I did, nothing helped. I continued my hobby of collecting belts when I entered Taek Won Do, and when that didn’t seem to quench my thirst, I entered a Shaolin temple for my final black belt…Maybe this is someone from that old temple. Someone that has seen me fight before… 3 The paramedics came up to the apartment and got him on the stretcher. He was just waking up when the medic’s were wheeling him away. He grinned at me with sharp teeth, as I closed the door to the disturbance of the year. Why did he fake being hurt just to get people’s doors open, especially this late at night? I went to my window and looked down from the 6th floor to see the ambulance and a couple police. I had better go down to the police to file my report. I got downstairs in jeans and my leather jacket. The paramedics were pointing at me, and the police were hailing me to come over to them. A portly officer in a black uniform spoke to me. “Good evening sir. Do you require medical assistance?” He asks. “No, thank you. I am fine.” The officer continued to question me about the incident. “I already told you, I have never met this guy in my life. The only odd thing is-” I was about to tell the officers about the letters when the man on the stretcher leapt from the rolling bed and like a bat out of hell, ran away from the mild scene of police and medics down the street. A black service van immediately drove by and promptly the man leapt into the back, and the van vanished into the night. “Hey! Get the cars!” The police officer shrieks. His partner starts rattling off information into his transmitter. All police officers begin to take off into the night after the mysterious van. I begin to walk back to my apartment. I’m going to be tired at my shitty job tomorrow. I think as I walk by the now empty and forgotten stretcher. A green envelope is sitting on the stretcher. I snatch the envelope and return to my now shattered and bloody apartment. “ One from the Temple must be able to overcome any and all obstacles, any enemy, and must be willing to do great and terrible things to accomplish what the Temple desires.” “He who passes the tests three, Combat, Will, and Acceptance, shall be taken to the Temple for additional testing. A chosen one that is unwilling must perish, for he is an enemy.” “We are no one, and everyone. We exist everywhere, and belong no where. Make no mistake; you are one of us.” I didn’t go to work. Not only did I not have sleep, the green envelope mystery was becoming too much. Part of me is tired of the game, but at the same time at least someone knows I am more than just a telemarketer. Someone has noticed my true potential. The letter said the three tests were Combat, Will, and Acceptance. Well, I sure as hell passed Combat. I spent the rest of the day in my apartment cleaning the blood from the carpet and pondering what the next test would be, until that night. To be honest, I just needed orange juice. A market is near there and a short walk that I normally take. As I left my apartment complex, off to the right stood my pompous neighbor, Ms. Walters. Being raped. Ms. Walters lived alone, because she was unlovable. She worked as an anchorwoman for 12 News, and appeared friendly enough. But outside of television every remark was rude, ill tempered, or cold. Ms. Walters whimpered, her mouth covered by a gloved hand as the masked man began to start the deed. Rage fell on me like a shower of hot water. I ran to the scene, roaring. As my combat boot makes contact with the attackers’ skull, a light crack comes from his spine, and Ms. Walters falls on her stomach, her skirt around her ankles. My fists burst into flame in my mind, bludgeoning the assailant over and over, his head thrashing back against the concrete again and again, until my itching rage was scratched. 4 I walk Ms. Walters to her room next to mine, silencing her fears and promising that the man will be captured for his crime against her. She kindly thanks me, with a new timber in her voice. I grin and leave. The elevator is quiet as I prepare to detain the beaten attacker for the police to come and arrest him. I slip out the front of the apartment complex with my phone, about to call the police. The man is gone, only leaving bloodstains. I sigh and return to my apartment. Why does this kind of stuff happen? Even when Denver police are so strict? People are just all around bad. I open the door to my apartment; the stench of stain remover on my carpet hits my nose like a brick wall. Meanwhile I’m sitting idly by, when I could be helping more people like Ms. Walters. Sure enough, there was the green envelope. It read: “5 A.M. Tonight. The Lincoln Center Lobby. You can make a difference. You have surmounted the tests of Combat and Will, All you must do now is Accept.” These people seem to actually use skills such as mine to help people…even people like Ms. Walters…or they are willing to hurt anyone to gain more members…Maybe I will never return to work, or to my current life ever again. Is it really so bad here? I packed my bags according to the first letter, and headed for the Lincoln Center. The air was still and quiet, the night finally taking claim over the restless city. Only the earliest blue collar workers were awake, preparing their buildings for the communities work force. I walk towards the front of the building, and a heavily armored arm swings the door open, inviting me in. I take a deep breath to steady my fear and apprehension, clutching my bags as I walk into the abyss that was once a friendly skyscraper. Immediately I was gassed. Before I completely went under the penetrating sleep, I saw that the floor tiles began to move down…like an elevator. What have I done?! They are going to kill me! No, we won’t kill you. Welcome to the Temple. An organization that stops injustice everywhere, and is unafraid of government, law, or other factions. e. Welcome to your new training grounds; your new home. I gazed into a sea of heavily armored masked men, clutching various weapons from all over the world. Different shades of color surrounded them, the group as a whole looking like a rainbow ocean in a gray, rocky room. All uniform in their uniqueness. They were wielding machine guns, spears, swords, bows, nun chucks. Their collective visage was monstrous, each mask a different monster. A blue ninja-like warrior stepped forth. “Welcome Home.” As my eyes closed from the gas, my last thought was calm, almost welcoming. I am home?