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Aptitude Of Souls
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Chapter 2

The Hammer Falls


The rain was pouring down hard as the last of the daily commuters exited the subway station. A young man stood against a wall, a drink of tea in one hand and a newspaper in the other, as he waited for his room mate to arrive at the side entrance of the little station. His room mate could never be on time for anything so he knew he could be waiting there for five minutes or an hour. His ID card on its lanyard said "River Marshall" though, River doubted if anyone other than himself had ever bothered to read it. The hospital demanded that he always wore it despite the fact that he was rather famous in the emergency room. His fame stemmed from an incident in his first month, when he'd become famous for being the trauma nurse who performed minor surgery single handed after a mass shooting at a school. The surgery had saved the life of a little boy.

He'd been heavily punished for taking the risk of operating. However as the operating theaters had been full for another half an hour after he finished everyone knew he'd done the right thing. He'd become a kind of icon to the other staff, as something to aspire to and something to avoid becoming all at the same time. River had been unfazed by the whole incident whoever and the reaction of the other staff was just amusing to him.

The rain was coming down even more heavily than before as River's pocket buzzed. He pulled out his phone to read a message from his room mate. "Can't drive. Too stoned. Later Bro.". River realised from the capitalization of every word and full stops every two words, that his stoner room mate had probably spent a good five minutes to type it and was way too stoned to drive. River looked out at the rain and sighed in annoyance.

He drank the rest of his tea, threw his newspaper into his satchel, swore he was going to thrown a bucket of cold water over his stoner room mate, then stepped out into the rain.

The icy water immediately soaked through his clothes, worsening his mood. He began heading down the main road and within less than a minute the rain had become double heavy. He looked for any spot where he could take temporary shelter from the worsening weather, as his field of vision decreased to maybe twenty feet.

He walked he spotted an alley with an over hanging balcony on the first floor. Running out of the torrential downpour, River tried to dry himself as a best he could. He silently cursed his stoned room mate again, planning all sorts of revenge for leaving him to "swim" home. At least that was what it felt like at that moment.

His mind was drawn out of its internal monologue of complaints by an odd sound. It was a very loud click, like a stiletto heel would sound in an empty auditorium. He stared out into the falling water trying to locate the source of the sound.

Three more clicks rang out, sounding much closer tan before. River kept staring out trying to locate what was making the noise. Without warning every instinct in his brain all screamed 'GET DOWN!!'. He dropped to the ground curling up as small as he could, it wasn't enough. The downpour suddenly redirected hitting like the blast from a fire hose. Suddenly the back of his ribs were wracked with a searing slicing pain and River rolled down on his side, hissing in pain. The clicks sounded again and River started to hear a rhythm to them.

"Not bad for someone who can't use his chi, but dodging once won't save you." River shivered at the sadistic joy in the voice. "You weren't my prey tonight, but one less potential recruit for them will keep the boss happy."

River tried to clear his head as the pain in his ribs threatened to cloud his judgement. He looked at the wall just behind him and saw a knife was now wedged deeply in its stone. It allowed him to understand how he'd been cut, but was of little real help. It was all impossible completely impossible, rain water didn't just redirect itself and people couldn't thrown knife so hard that they penetrate stone.

The clicking started up again and the rain began to swirl. After a moment the falling water had spun so much that it formed a standing water spout. He began to wonder if he was having a psychotic break, as the impossibility of the situation hit him.

"This is the end for you boy!" The clicks got faster and faster as the water spout began to curve towards him. He pushed himself to his feet, dragging himself along the wall to get out the path of the water. It curved closer and closer as the clicks came faster and faster. River was moving too slowly and he knew that in a few moments it would all be over.

In the next moment he heard a loud thud sound from the rain and the water sudden dropped to the ground. River looked around to see that the rain was stopping and his view out into the street was once more clearing. He saw a dark blurred shape fly away upwards from ground as the last of the rain dissipated.

As his eyes looked out onto the alley once more he saw the figure of a man. The figure stood poised for action his eyes fixed upon the rooftops. River slid down the wall until he reached the ground, his heart trying to pound its way out of his chest. The man in the alley relaxed from his fighting pose and looked down at River. "You're in danger if you stay here, come with me!"

River immediately shook his head his mind struggling to grasp the impossible situation. The man walked over to River and dragged him to his feet, "I just exposed myself to Hunters to save your hide! Get up and come with me or he'll come back and finish what he started!" The man's voice was menacing yet calm, as if he was containing his anger. The tone shook River back into reality forcing him to take stock, even if he wasn't fully able to understand it. River couldn't help but respond "What in the hell are you talking about?" The man's face visibly twitched in annoyance "The water that just attacked you was being controlled by someone, I drove him away. He'll come back if you're alone, so you're safer coming with me."

River was annoyed at the implication that he needed protection; however situation simply boiled down to one thing, he was in danger and this person had protected him. If he was offering to continue to do so then the choice was obvious; take his protection until he could figure out what to do.

River took a deep breath before speaking "Fine I'll come with you, but you have to tell me what's going on." The man released River and headed out of the alley. "Follow me" River did as he was bid, though a great feeling of dread came with every step.


Background
Chapter 2


Aptitude Of Souls

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