Before anyone gets too excited, some things to note. This is all that is written for this story to date, and it is very, very rough. I literally just transcribed it onto the computer today with some minor editing. As such, any recommendations or confusions would be appreciated. By the way, I didn’t bother fighting WordPress today, it just doesn’t like indenting paragraphs at all.
Kitsune is a story I’ve had bouncing around for a while, it’s a superhero story (in one sense) and is evolving in a few other directions as well as I try and build something interesting out of it. The main character and his origin are almost direct copies from a RPG character I built, but have never gotten a chance to play. The RPG, and by extension the character, emulated a darker take on superheroes than some people may generally consider. A little of that may come through.
It was a freezing night, one where the cold air shattered with every sound. Outside of a rundown house two goons cursed under their breath while sharing a cigarette. He could tell they were goons because they only had hoodies to fight back against the cold, anyone higher on the food chain would have an actual coat. At least he was wearing some hand warmers under his suit, otherwise he’d be freezing his ass off along with them. Surveillance in the winter had to be the worst, pick a spot and don’t move, just let the the cold seep right in. He had to be out of his mind.
Once he was fairly sure no one else was braving the late night chill Carter slid down the tree, smooth and slow, just another trick of the night air. It wouldn’t have been possible if the streetlights were working, or if “The Incident” hadn’t given him near perfect balance. As it was he reached the ground with the goons none the wiser and and circled a half-block to come in on their blindside, where a long-dead rose bush concealed his approach. Once he was in position Carter took a deep cleansing breath and put on his mask. The thin, white and red ceramic was cool to the touch, not the burning cold it should have been in the winter air. The mask was always cool and seemingly unbreakable. He knew because he had tried destroying it, probably three weeks after discovering it in the Library. Before he had accepted what the Fox mask meant. With it settled over his face Carter reached for his Fire. Pale, blue-green light gathered around both his hands, pulled from his core. With a flick of his wrist he sent the two bolts streaking towards the two men. They jerked as the energy crashed through the rosebush.
Both shots found their mark, knocking the breath from the men. Carter was already moving, darting around the bush and landing a brutal punch to the first goon’s chin as he went up the stairs. Carter twisted, his heel cracking against the second goon’s forehead. Both men fell with a thud, and he waited a moment to see if anyone had heard the commotion. Then he searched them, tossing their guns into the rosebush, and continuing around the porch to the basement entrance. The thick chain that was normally wrapped around it was coiled up off to the side. He’d known the drug lab was in this basement for awhile, but he hadn’t been able to get in. Besides, there wasn’t much point until the cooks showed up anyways. Lubing up the hinges with some oil he’d stuffed into his pouch Carter slid open the doors and started down.
This house had to have been special to someone, even long abandoned and turned into a drug factory it still had a noticeable threshold. As Carter descended the first few steps slivers of red popped throughout the basement. They had to be discarded needles, sticky with blood and desperation. His extra sense, not quite sight not quite vision, also picked up a large, dull pool to his left and a bright. Slow line ahead. The first was old blood, old terror, an ugly murder, most likely years ago. The second was fresh, oozing from a small untended cut and pooling in a miasma of brokenness.
Carter crouched at the end of the stairs and puled out a small mirror. He used it for a quick scan of the room. Four cooks, and if they kept to standards… There, a third goon with a gun. Seven people entering an abandoned building should have been suspicious, but The Vultures owned this street, and probably half the people on it. Odds were at least one of the cooks was packing. Show time.
He pulled upon his Fire again, but this time instead of small bolts he formed in into a baseball sized orb. Then he stepped out and launched it into the goon’s chest. The impact lifted him off his feet and bounced him off the wall he’d been leaning against. Out cold.
Carter turned, flames still licking his fingertips and took stock of the cooks. Three had drawn guns, one dropping a flask of chemicals in the process. Hopefully it wasn’t deadly, idiot. The fourth cook seemed nervous too, he looked…
“Well well,” Carter said cocking his head to the side, “if it isn’t Kenny. Surprised to see you here. Mind telling the boys to drop the guns before things get out of hand?”
“Man-I tried-I really tried, but they insisted and-”
“Kenny. The guns first. Then we’ll talk.”
“I don’t know who you think you are,” one of the other cooks drawled, “but you’ve gotta death wish. Bustin’ in here, making demands like you hot shit when you-”
“New guy, right?” Carter jerked his thumb at the cook, “Someone’s loud-mouthed little brother or cousin.” The cook took a step forward, wagging his gun as if Carter hadn’t seen it.
“You really wanna die, don’t you, you stupid-”
Carter pulled and flung a quick bolt at the cook. CRACK! He went down, clutching his knee, and the gun clattered underneath the table. No one fired a shot, still trying to process what they were seeing. Carter didn’t blame them for their confusion, but it was very useful.
“I could tell,” Carter continuing over the cook’s breathless screams, “because he left the safety on. Now then, if you put away the guns we can talk like civilized people. I’m not interested in a shoot-out, the fumes in here would probably blow us all sky high. A few questions and you all are free to go. Right Kenny, three strike system?”
“Ye-yeah, that’s the deal you gave… and I-”
“See, I’m a man of my word. Kenny knows that.”
The men hesitated for a moment, then lowered their weapons.
“Good decision. Now I’m going to reach into my pouch here and pull out a picture. Anyone who can name what the substance in the picture is and tell me who has it is free to go, no strings attached. However, before anyone thinks of making something up, I do know what it is called, I just need you to verify you know what you’re talking about. Deal?” The picture showed a vial sitting on a wooden surface. Inside the vial was a pitch-black fluid, dotted with thousands of white specks. It was as if someone had bottled a summer night’s sky. Carter forced himself to keep calm. “Well, anyone?” Silence. “No one has seen or heard of this drug?” He clenched his teeth, dead end.
“ Well then,” Carter said putting the photo away and retrieving a notebook and pen. He tossed them on a bare spot amongst the beakers and tubes.
“Names, first and last. That way I know who I’ve talked to. Feel free to lie I suppose, but then you’re more likely to see me again. No need for you to write in Kenny, I know you. After that clear out, unless you have something you’d like to share?” Carter looked over at the cook with the dislocated knee, he’d gone from screaming to whimpering. “Oh, and if someone could sign for him it would be appreciated.”
A few minutes later Carter and Kenny stood alone in the drug lab.
“Now then,” Carter walked around the table, “ we have a few details to work out, don’t we Kenny?”
“Please man, I got a kid.”
“I know, you mentioned it last time. But I need to be known as a man of my word. Three strikes-” The moment Carter stepped next to him Kenny threw a desperate punch. Carter grabbed his wrist and twisted. Kenny slammed face-down onto the table, his arm hyper-extended behind him. “You’re out.”
“Oh god, don’t please, don’t.”
“Unless you give me something I don’t have a choice in the matter Kenny.”
“But I didn’t do anything man, I-”
“Just created the poison? Refined it?” Carter felt himself shaking with rage, but the heat never reached his voice, “Tested it?”His eyes focused on the scarlet stream of blood in the next room, now that he was closer he could see a single, long nail painted in blood, “Who is she Kenny? A young mother, some kid from the street? Did someone sweet talk her down here or was she already so far gone that she pleaded to play roulette with Death?”
“Please, I don’t wanna die-”
“Then talk!” Kenny winced as Carter increased the pressure.
“There’s a distribution center, raw materials, weapons-”
“I’ve already heard about it Kenny, not good enough.”
“I know where it is, please man, you gotta believe me, it’s in the old Docks, Pier Seven. New shipments come in all the time, they handle half of the market, someone’s gotta know about your thing.”
“That… that I can work with.”
So… I’m free to go?”
“I know, and I guarantee you’ll walk out of this basement, but you need to understand your actions have consequences you can’t escape. You make poison to sell to the desperate, you’ve ruined lives, killed people, and I’ve given you two other chances to quit. Maybe this time you’ll listen.” Before he could think about it further Carter slammed the heel of his hand into the back of the cook’s elbow. The sound of bone and ligament breaking reminded Carter of a gunshot. A scarlet bloom appeared in his mind’s eye, showing where the shards had punctured the skin.
Carter threw up a little in his mouth, but he figured Kenny was too distracted to notice.
Leaving him lying on the ground Carter walked over to the room where the bleeding woman was lying, picking up a clean looking rag along the way. The room was musty with the smell of stale sweat and vomit, but underneath it all was the faint smell of a room where Death visits often. Lying on a tattered mattress was a young woman, twenty at best, in sweat-stained chemise. Her hair was matted to her head and the needle they’d injected her with lay near the small pool of blood dripping down her outstretched arm.
Carter knelt down next to her and wiped the sweat from her forehead, then dabbed away the blood from her arm. She stirred at his touch, slitting her eyes against the glare of reality to see who had intruded upon her torment. There were some boots and a larger jacket on the other side of the mattress. Carter grabbed them and helped the woman sit up. She struggled slightly, mumbling in dream speak.
“Don’t worry,” Carter replied gently, “I’m a friend. I won’t hurt you. It’s time to go and it’s cold outside. Need to bundle up or you’ll get sick.”
It took a few minutes to dress her against the cold, and Carter spoke softly, reassuring her, the entire time. She lay heavy against him as they exited the room, still unused to the solidity of her new environment. Kenny was leaning against the table, his useless arm twisted up onto his lap. A cheap cellphone lay in his other hand. Carter lightly kicked his foot to rouse him from his tranced shock.
“You called an ambulance.”
“Cops too… bastard…”
That meant he didn’t have time for subtle. Carter reached down and grabbed Kenny’s shirt, man handling him to his feet. Kenny tried to fight back, but he almost passed out from moving his arm again so Carter didn’t have much trouble .
“You’re going to help this young lady outside, as far away from this building as you can get.”
“Your bosses aren’t getting the message, you keep making drugs as though it’s business as usual. So instead of smashing some bottles I’m just going to burn the whole place down.”
“You-You’re insane. You think a mask and a stupid name will protect you if they get serious? Right now, you’re not real, an excuse some punks give for smashing some bottles and packing it in early. Kitsune, a boogie man with magic powers. You do this, they’ll hunt you like a dog. They’ll turn this city inside out, kill you and anybody you care about. They-”
“Kenny,” Carter said, guiding the woman to lean against the ranting cook, “there are two things you don’t get. Firstly, I’m not a dog. I’m a fox, and hunting foxes is a much more difficult past time.” Carter pulled upon his Fire, drawing a massive amount to his hands and arms. Pale blue fire danced around him, eager to be shaped. Too bad the stuff didn’t burn like real fire, but between the chemicals as the gas heater in the corner he really didn’t need it to. “Secondly, they will try to kill me and those I protect. That doesn’t mean they will actually pull it off.”
Kenny was already huffing up the stairs, panic adding a new surge of adrenaline to dampen the pain, He supposed it didn’t matter, he didn’t need Kenny to pass on any messages. He was going to do that just fine by himself. Carter began molding the Flame, creating an orb the size of a golf ball. He twisted and tightened it, making it dense, layering it with more Flame. Eventually the weave of fire was the size of a baseball, then a basketball. His arms shook with the effort of holding it, but weeks of practice were paying off, and the massive sphere continued to grow between his hands. Finally, as the sphere began succeeding in pushing him away, Carter cast it forward.
He swayed, dizzy from the effort of outputting that much force, but it was worth it to see the dense orb drift lazily across the room. He stayed long enough to see it begin to crumple the metal table before he turned and ran up the stairs. He stopped long enough to toss a stylized picture of a fox in the yard before loping back to the city, imagining a cackling laugh following the smoke into the night sky.