Prologue: Miles To Go

{"Oh, Mama, I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law...Law man has put an end to my running and I'm so far from my home...Oh, Mama I can hear you a-cryin', you're so scared and all alone...Hangman is comin' down from the gallows and I don't have very long...The jig is up, the news is out...They've finally found me...The renegade who had it made...Retrieved for a bounty...Never more to go astray...This will be the end today...Of the wanted man..."} Renegade,Styx

Side Of The Road, Open Desert, Nevada...

Sweltering heat seemed to be in abundance as a lone figure moved with curious delay along the vast and winding road that seemed to be laid out before him. From a distance, the figure had been wearing black trainers, dark blue jeans that seemed to have seen their fair share of use, most of the figure's form had been taken up via a black hooded sweat shirt and had been pulled all the way up despite the temperature and the head had been covered. The ideal gettup for avoidance that more often than not drew unwanted attention to whomever it had been that decided to sport the rather curious ansomble.

The individual in question had been quite tall, six two in terms of feet of height and quite thin despite the bulk of what might have been considered to be cut muscle tone. His face had been quite forgetable and yet not remarkably so with his smooth skin for a young man in his mid-twenties and long raven locks that peeked out from beneath his cap and hood every so often with his given steps, swaying as they had along his brow and respective pale, as a newly formed ghost, cheeks.

The heat had done a great deal in terms of making his rather solitary journey difficult, especially when he had to take to traveling on foot. Travel had become seond nature to him, since the events that forever transformed his life when he'd been only sixteen years of age. A natural instinct that proved to be born of survival as it would seem.

Slightly winded due to taking a pounding from the sun's unrelenting rays, the young man made his way toward what appeared to be a speck of a rest stop coming up on the horizon. He'd been badly in need of supplies and water of all things, given his dalliences with the elements and the arid climate had not offered any reprieve for his basic needs to be met.

The sickening stench of overheated dust and melted tar from beneath the ashphalt bombarded his senses as he continued weary of each vehichle that made it's way past him despite them being few and far inbetween. It was their path that had given a hint about the possible rest stop, that and the sign he'd past about thirty miles back.

Growling from his rather empty stomach had reminded him that the last thing he'd eaten was a carton of medium sized stale fries from some random diner and a half of a cheeseburger. Still, he continued knowing that to stop would mean those he'd been doing his best to get away from would be that much closer to catching up with him if he had.

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The Rest Stop, Route 63, Open Desert, Nevada...

The air had been significantly cooler inside the rest stop where the blazing heat of the sun was staved off via the shade of the building and the generated air via the many coolers and refridgeratiors that housed a good many refereshing drinks gave one a moment of relief from the onset of the seemingly endless blaze. The gas station portion of the rest stop had been empty but there would soon be many a traveler in need of gas along the way. The lone young man had not been much for company in the past few weeks but had been civilized enough to known to mind his rather ingrained manners when being among other people.

He, for the most part had been a loner for most of his life even with his school mates to turn to on occasion. The moment he stepped inside the rest stop, the eyes of the clerk, an average man with bronze skin that had been slightly sun burned, drifted toward him. He'd been suspicious given the young man's appearance being in constant clash with the expected attire given the nature of the weather. His occupation seemed to beg that he noted minor details of any whom had entered his establishment if only for survival reasons.

The young man politely bid him a hello and proceeded to make his way toward the back where the stash of beverages could be seen as he attempted to make up his mind as to what would be used to satify his longstanding thirst. He had only ten dollars in his pocket and needed to stretch it as long as possible given the shift in situations he had to contend with as well as the uncertianty of being able to sustain himself without taking on an odd job while being on the road.

The clerk, the young man discovered had a good reason to be on guard with whomever visited his rest stop as he'd been with his wife and six year old son for most of the evening and remained cautious about the guests given the nature of troublemakers and those running from the law that came his way.

The young man noted the small six year old boy that rushed out the backroom behind the clerk, he'd been as bronze as his father but not as beaten down by life and the heat from the sun as he wore a pleasant smile across his youthful face and often enjoyed being in his own little world. The generic superhero toy that he clutched for dear life had possibly everything to do with it as he set about zipping up and down the isle in a bid to showcase his plastic friend flying through the air.

Time seemed to stand still, as the all too fleeting happy moments of childhood bliss coupled with the ignorance of the world's true evils that had not yet shattered the innocence of the young boy had been no where to be found in this relatively peaceful place, but that would all change in a mere matter of seconds as two rather menacing looking men entered the rest stop. One had been quite obviously red from the blazing heat and his parnter looked to be just the same or well on his way to getting there.

They were riddled with tattoos and sporting leather jackets and denim, not so unlike what the young man had been wearing but lighter in tone. The more angry of the two, and definately the most focused had been an average looking man with short brown hair, slick from sweat and sticking to his forehead. He had a cigarette pressed between his lips and a gleam of malice behind his common colored dark eyes.

His red plad lumberjack shirt unbuttoned and crumpled along his body had been clear indication that he wasn't in the least into how his appearance would be precieved by others and he smelled of an eerie mix of dirt, sweat, gasoline, and smoke. His partner had been a bit less intemidating as his blue eyes had been drawn to the register and his sickly green short sleeve shirt had hugged his thin pale body as he moved driven it seemed by the very greed that had brought him to this place. He had wild orange hair and an unseemly pugged nose that drew immediate attention to his quinting eyes and rat like face.

What happened next had been a split second ordeal a they each pulled guns, the wanna be lumberjack aimed a rather impressive shotgun at the clerk. The rat faced accomplice pulled two 9mm from his pockets aiming them at the boy whom had unwittingly walked into their path and the backroom where the clerk's curious wife had made her self known via the shock in her gasp when they arrived.

The boy had been unable to do anything but stand there staring down the barrel of the rat faced man's gun as all of his breathing seened to cease. In the midst of the cliche lines spouted from mouths of the rather unruly men, The young man pulled up the hood on his sweat shirt and tightly gripped the water bottle he had been well on his way to purchase before these men intruded.

He'd been understandably pressed for time and in no mood for trouble, but he couldn't in good conscience leave the family to suffer at the hands of these undesireables. Especially not a six year old boy whom had barely begun to live. Against his better judgement, the young man made his decision to act, knowing full well the consequences and having no other choice that could ensure he'd be able to sleep at night. He did after all have the advantage, as the gunmen had not known he'd been in the store and never peered at the cameras.

Making up his mind, he decided to retrieve the boy first, by neutralizing the second gunman and allowing him to reach his mother in the back room where she could no doubt find cover for them. The second and most difficult aspect of this would be to get to the father. He opted for the best chance to do so being when the second gunman would provide the distraction needed to ensure the clerk survived.

Taking a deep breath and allowing his mind to focus, he began his apparent "rescue" of the clerk and his family.

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The shifting came naturally to him, as it often did when given to seemingly impossible situations and the boundries of time seemed to yeld to him as his body moved at an impressive speed that saw to him snatching up the six year old and bending the guns the rat faced criminal had with him with a force that no mere man could impliment. The gasp on the face of the boy as he was then thrown to his mother, whom had managed to catch him and pull him back where he and she could not be harmed, was quite astounded.

More swift movements and time continued to stand on end, the ticking of the clock had seemed to be stuck on the verge of one minute before the rat faced man crumbled at the force of the young man's brutal physical assault and dropped all prentense of being tought. The first gunman aimed his shotgun at the rapidly moving blur of black and denium as The young man set upon him as well, bending his weapon with ease and ensuring that he couldn't fire a single shot before treating him to the same hospitality his friend had endured.

The clerk had been in awe of the stranger, and even more so of his equally strange ablities as he made short work of the men that attempted to rob him and his family of everything they held dear.

The clock struck it's minute and the two gunmen were crumpled to the floor in a heap of limbs and weapons. The clerk had been grateful to the stranger and at the same time fearful of him as he sifted through the wallets of the fallen men and laid them each on the front counter before placing his bottle of water there and fishing the ten dollars from his pocket to pay for it.

The rather shaken clerk, noted the identity of the would be thieves and allowed the stranger to have not only the water for free ingratitude but he filled a bag with goods of all kinds and slipped him a crisp fifty dollar bill for his troubles.

"You don't have to..." began the young man insisting he had not done what he did for a reward.

The clerk waved him off.

"I insist." he said grateful. "You've saved my family...you've saved my life."

The young man dropped his hood and sighed realizing kindnesses like this didn't just happen for him. He needed all the food and drink he could get given the journey he'd been on and with this incident, there was only a matter of time before his pursuers would be on to him, making stopping to rest and eat even more difficult.

Reluctantly he agreed to taking the bag and the water.

Before he took off, the young man assisted the clerk one last time helping him to tie the would be robbers to an old light post outside in the sun until the proper authorities arrived to see to their stint in prison for their crimes. The baking heat of the sun had done them no favors and the clerk had not either.

While the task was being completed, the clerk tossed the young man the keys to the robber's car and informed him that it was full in terms of gas and supplies.

"It's much too hot out to be walking." said the clerk. "And it isn't like they are going to need it where they are going."

The young man had been quite grateful for the gift and nodded.

"Seems like their ride has already been arranged." he replied before sharing a light hearted chuckle with the grateful clerk before heading toward the car.

The young man had been quite surprised to find that he was now the driver of a gray and black trimmed Camero SS. A car he had wanted since he'd been a boy but knew it was far out of his reach to own one. Happily, he made his way into the driver seat and bid the clerk and his family one final farewell before disappearing down the long stretch of road.

It had been a long time since the young man felt the wind in his hair and the roar of a car's engine all around him, as he briefly thought back to the six year old whom had come to think of him as the superhero he clutched so tightly in his hands before the threat of evil came to shatter what innocence he had that remained.

He had been as new to this world as that kid had been once before the manifestation of his ablities garnared the attention of those beyond the comprehension of everyday people. During that time he was an average highschool student and the only son of a widowed waitress living in a house near the sea. His father had been long dead since before he was born, but he often dreamed of what it would have been like to meet him.

He turned on the radio where some classic rock station had been playing a song that seemed to fit how he felt at that moment and it wasn't long before the rest stop and the theives had been a speck on the distant horizon behind the tail pipe of his new car and dust in the wind. As exhausted as he was, he knew he had to keep going. They'd be hot on his trail by morning and there was still miles to go, before he could even think about sleeping.

Some Years Prior...