• The rain surged in waves, making the pinpoints of light across the skyline flicker. The roll of distant thunder barely pierced the howling wind. A single bolt of lightning streaked across the dark clouds above, illuminating a lone figure at the top of a towering office building. The silhouette stood motionless, except for the cape that danced wildly with the wind at its back.

    Chet stood firm at the corner of the roof, blankly staring into the concrete abyss below, deep in thought. The horrific memories of the Alliance's defeat that ended his military career and propelled him into the hell that was his new life plagued him yet again. He could still sense the shroud of death around him, the foul stench of war, the chill of fear.

    The wind picked up and Chet took a step to the right to maintain his balance, the whir of the motor in his artificial left leg masked by the raging winds. Bits of gravel rolled off the edge of the rooftop and disappeared into the sky. Chet raised his left hand and straightened his cloak. It lowered and engulfed his back, the bottom of the cape still flowing freely in the breeze, now with more discipline.

    Suddenly Chet's eyes focused. His hands made fists. The leather glove on his artificial right arm stretched with the pressure from the hand's tightly clenched fist. Chet's left eye flashed with a ring of red, the robotic lens switching to thermal imaging. The dark skyline turned into a mix of reds and blues. The colors blurred as the lens zoomed in to 500x magnification. A moment later the picture cleared and Chet saw a woman and two criminals. They were trying to rob her. Chet's eye returned to normal view and his posture straightened. In a single motion, Chet stepped off the rooftop.

    Halfway into the fall, Chet threw out his right hand and reached for the side of the office building. His glove made contact and his descent rapidly slowed. The leather wore down and sparks erupted from the palm. Chet removed his hand from the concrete and pushed off from the building. His feet planted firmly on the sidewalk and he dropped to a crouch. His cape loosely dropped at his side.

    Chet let his momentum dissipate and then stood. His eyes grew fierce, his stance menacing. His teeth clenched and he took off at a full sprint in the direction of the criminals. He leaped onto a fire escape and propelled himself onto the roof of a small shop. Chet swiftly jumped from rooftop to rooftop, his precision like that of a wolverine. He made his way to the scene of the crime and hovered overhead.

    The shorter of the two robbers stood watch at the entrance to the alley. His hands shook with uncertainty. The screaming of the victim behind him didn't help his fear. A wall of moonlight shown on a nearby brick wall, dimly lighting the otherwise opaque alley. Suddenly the light was broken by a shadow. It quickly drifted across the light. The criminal gasped and looked up, but saw nothing. His breath shortened and he caught a chill from the night air. The hair on the back of his neck stood up straight. He heard a soft exhale next to his ear, and turned sharply, but found nothing. He started to turn around when a high-pitched whine filled the air, followed by a roar of flames stopped him dead in his tracks.

    "Let her go," Chet said, his fireblade deployed. His voice echoed in the night. The warmth from the condensed plasma gave him boundless strength. The fire that trailed the plasma flared in the stormy winds. He took a step forward, the tip of his blade at the criminal's throat.

    A sharp cry from the woman pierced the still air. The shorter robber glanced back for a split second, and turned back to the dark vigilante to find the fireblade through his chest. Chet grabbed the criminal by the shirt and threw him off of his blade, a puff of smoke emitted from the man's figure. Chet took another step forward, and repeated his cry: "Let her go," now with authority.

    The criminal grabbed the woman and held her at gunpoint. "Back up! You better back up!" he taunted. Chet stopped his advance and deactivated his fireblade. The hilt spewed out smoke and its whine died out. He holstered it on his belt, keeping his eyes fixed on the robber. The criminal continued, "Now leave." Chet stood still. The criminal pushed the barrel of his blaster into the woman's neck.

    Chet turned around and began to exit the alleyway. His footsteps echoed in the eerie silence of the night. One... he counted. Two, three, four. He heard the robber's blaster lower. Five! Chet thought and spun around on his heel. Two streaks of light barreled down the alley. They hit their target dead-on. The woman dropped to the asphalt, unhurt. Chet holstered his blaster and turned to leave, his cloak following behind him.

    The woman stood and ran through the smoke that shrouded the alley. She reached the sidewalk and scanned the rooftops. She could only catch a glimpse of the tip of Chet's cape as he disappeared into the darkness. The back of the alley gave off a dim orange, catching the woman's eye. She turned to see a glowing A carved into the far wall. She smiled and silently whispered, "Avenger."