Thanks to everyone who read, and reviewed, my previous post to Fictionpress. This first chapter is in response to the StopthePress Writing Challenge! It's a superhero fiction that contains characters with 'powers' and there may be some capes in later chapters. Enjoy!

It's far easier to kill and not feel it. Far easier to push the guilt, the sorrow and anger down into some sub-region of your stomach where you hope you'll forget about it. That's where I stand now, with black eyes, over the corpse of the only one I've ever cared about.

Arlen Matix rode the beaten jeep through the wall of the building. The engine smoked and faded as burning pieces of brick struck his back and burned the snow next to him. His arms shook, barely able to support his weight.

Is that all? He heard the voice call. A large, smoldering brick landed where he had just been lying, pushing the ground in nearly a foot. Whirling through the air, he landed next to the overturned jeep. Growling, he shoved the vehicle onto its wheels and landed on the rear where the massive machine gun turret rested.

"Not quite!" He cried gripping the hand holds of the weapon. Metal groaned and emitted a high creaking as the gun was ripped solidly from the placement. His steps pounded against the melting snow as he burst back through the building. Flames erupted from the turret into the shadows where he knew his prey to be hiding. Standing in the beacon of light, the exploding rounds were deafening until only hot casings surrounded him. Arlen could see his breath in the arctic air as the weapon's weight at last pulled him to the ground. Resting on his knees, he didn't hear the slithering next to him, but didn't need his ears to hear the creature's voice.

Can't beat me without a knife in my back? The voice hissed in his mind. Arlen's body flinched to move but the white, spined tentacles had already exploded from his chest. The blood soaked feelers lifted him from the ground. His whole body spasmed in shock as the things turned him round. He tried to close his eyes but the sight was forced upon him.

I'm not through with you yet Arlen…not by a long shot. The voice droned on.

Arlen shot awake, extending both pistols, like fingertips, towards the door as it slowly opened. Samuel shook his head, placing a bag of food on the desk.

"Somethin's got you jumpy. Want to drop those hand cannons or should I come back another time?" The man stood nearly six feet with dark skin, graying hair and that brown and faded trench coat, which Arlen knew, held a massive revolver underneath.

"Sorry boss." Arlen said placing the modified pistols on the bed next to him. "Any news or are we still in the dark?" Samuel shrugged and sat in the heavily padded desk chair on wheels.

"Hard to say. Your boy's probably just skulking around like he does." After swallowing a bite of the steaming hamburger, Samuel had a sudden irritated look on his face. "Don't you have contacts army boy? People you can call and get special favors from?" Arlen smirked and passed his hand in a few signs, the lights responded by illuminating the small space in blue.

"Here, and here…" Arlen motioned to a cascade of marring scars across his chest and arms, "Is where I used the last of my favors. I'm not sure I'll make it out if I ask for another one." Sam swallowed hard and replaced the burger to the bag, crumpling the whole thing up. Holding his stomach he agreed with a nod.

"I've never seen that kind of damage in over twenty years of police work. The hell happened to you?" Arlen shook his head,

"Let's say the army can be quite creative. Anyways…" He slipped on a skin tight black shirt. Arlen stood an average five and a half feet tall with jet brown eyes, a well muscled body and blue hair that was fading to its natural straight black. "You find something about that guy or what?"

Sam nodded and pulled out a file on a certain Alukzander Shine and tossed it onto the bed. Arlen snatched it up and found only information on one of his rumored lieutenants, a Marcus Benjermine.

"You'll find there's nothing on Shine, mostly because he doesn't exist Arlen." Sam said stressing the point. "This guy you're looking for, he's never existed under any name like that." Arlen shook his head and tossed the file back to his bed.

"Well you stay here until your appetite comes back and I'll fight some crime, how's that sound?" Sam stared blankly. "Don't worry; I got it this time, powers and all." He held his hands up, shrugging.

The laughing was disturbing, like that of a hyena crossed with a prison inmate of twenty years.

"You killed me man, you know?" The thing laughed again, a full body cackle that disturbed Arlen.

"Obviously not well enough." Pistols came to bear producing the quiet flak the silencers gave them. Twelve shots later the thing kept it's cackling, despite even that half of them tagged its face and eyes.

"Come now, we have some things to talk about."

Arlen cringed against the memory as he watched the hover cars pass by. Under his long coat he wore the original stealth suit the army had given him. He wasn't sure how it was made, only that there was nothing else on any market that compared to it. Heightened speed and strength, shock absorption, invisibility to heat scanners and a myriad of smaller functions played a strong part in making him a suitable force in New Brooklyn. His hair stuck in a collection of small, fading blue braids from the back of his black helmet. The mask he wore consisted of a mouthpiece and red, angled eyes.

The airways clogged as traffic hit its daily peak. Horns and angry air motorists cursed at each other through clenched teeth. The noise reached a cacophony that made Arlen dizzy before something snapped him out of it. A far off sound. Plodding through the sounds mentally he could hear screaming from afar.

His coat flared as he leapt the gap between buildings, between the lanes of traffic that clogged the air. Before long, as he got closer to the sounds, he used the slow moving airlanes as his descent.

A trio of hoods wearing gangly, dirty clothes and using bandanas as masks held the clerk at knifepoint. The bank had just closed leaving only a handful of employees to deal with and Semyonova was already in the back taking care of the vault.

"I'm telling you, I don't know the bank's code." One of the men struck him over the head with the phone and he crumpled to the ground.

"The boss doesn't need a code!" And as an answer there was the sound of metal being rendered from its hinges followed quickly by the floor shaking scrap of the vault door falling to the ground. Everyone else had been held with tape and organized neatly behind the clerk's counter.

Dropping neatly through the massive hole a car must've caused, Arlen was faced immediately by three hoods. He sucked in the air to say something when three knives flew through the air, flailing miserably next to him. Raising an eyebrow inside his mask, Arlen moved impossibly fast for the thugs. Two were down as the third sounded,

"Boss! We have company!" A solid punch to the stomach and face dropped him unconscious.

"Oh boss…" Arlen called peeking down the hall where the vault door had rested just a moment before. There was a seven foot man with a large, durable looking bag that a grand collection of currency was poking out of. He wore a sleeveless black shirt and matching pants and boots and a bald head. The man didn't respond right away until he secured the bag and laid it at his feet. Looking to the intruder, the man emerged from the vault slowly.

"Arcer Semyonova…" He said simply crossing his arms in front of him.

"And you can call me Callistratus, or just Stratus." Arlen introduced in great length, "I'll be stopping you today-" He was interrupted by a deep, heaving laughter emerging from the giants chest.

"No one stops The Arcer, you will see this." Flaring his hands, the pistols flew from their holster and drew two lines up the man's body, all of the bullets ricocheting off harmlessly. That's when Arlen noticed that Arcer's skin had turned to a steel color and had, apparently, taken the same properties. Replacing his weapons, his legs bent and launched him like a springboard towards the giant. Kicking the man's face, then chest and then with an elbow dealt a crushing blow to the weakest portion of the giant's knee. In retaliation, Arcer placed his square fist under Arlen's jaw, a blow that sent him skyward and back. Then, to his great amazement, consuming flames shot forth from a space of about a foot away from the giant's hands. The conflagration lifted him higher and crashed him into the far side of the bank's expensive tiled walls. Falling to the ground, bits of wall fell around him and he could hear the giant's footsteps moving further away. Then there was a strained grunt and a heavy rotating sound.

Arlen looked up in time to see the bank vault's door, several tons in weight, flying freely towards him. The wall cracked and Arlen forced himself just above the crushing weight of the massive, reinforced door. The shock exploded on impact and sent Arlen reeling again, and again into the giant's grasp.

"You cannot beat The Arcer small one." Another chest heaving laugh as, with a flick of his wrist, the giant sent Arlen blazing into the vault's core rolling, tumbling and crashing into the far wall. The heavy footsteps drew further away as Arlen struggled to his feet, resting all of his weight on a counting table. Looking over his shoulder, there was an Arlen-sized dent in the wall and a collection of hundreds littering the ground. He cursed once and then again as, with a gust of wind, two more figures flew into the bank, both wearing masks. The taller, muscular man wore white and gold while the shorter, more lithe woman wore red and black with her crimson hair spilling out the back of her mask.

"Don't move!" The tall one cried and Arlen nearly fell to the ground, "You're not taking any money from this bank today."

Thanks for reading!