A milky white film covered the eyes, paling the formerly black eyes to a distinctive gray. The mouth twisted into a grimace, revealing broken teeth, teeth that were growing out again and again…

It was too much for the rookie. He turned and began firing rapidly at the thing, screaming all the while.

It wasn't enough by far.

With a howl, the thing swung its grotesquely long arm, its oversized fist slamming into the soldier's head. The rookie stopped screaming, and slumped to the floor. He would remain silent.

The others began giving in, firing at the monster. It was no use; the monster kept on punching, reducing the formerly twenty-five members of the team to three. The leader still would not give up. He would live, unlike his teammates.

Finally, after hours of running, the monster disappeared. It had gone like magic. And as a scientist, there was no way the professor could have done just that.

The leader marveled at the stealth, and even considered sending in an army to capture it. After all, strength comes in nu—

An arm swung out of the darkness, barely hitting the leader's head. He fell, landing face-first into a puddle. The other two, horrified, began watching the surroundings, keeping a close eye for any sign of the thing. They didn't know what they were getting themselves into.

Ludwig kept the guards on high alert as he called a detective from his phone book. The detective was top-notch, his real identity unknown, his self-given nickname "Dr. Viktor". He was a mysterious person, full of enigma and lacking in real information. He was creepy, but reliable, and Ludwig trusted him, and thus was the first he called. Punching in the numbers, he waited anxiously as the "Dr." greeted him casually.

"Hullo? This is Dr. Viktor."

"Sergei, this is Ludwig Von Koopa, and I require your help. Immediately."

"What brings you to such desperate measures, comrade? Let's discuss this on my island—I have acquired several bottles of good champagne, none of the cheap stuff. What do you say?" Ludwig was tempted, and even considered it for a moment—champagne, or sparkling wine as he called it, was always kept hidden and under the close watch of several armed guards, and he had not tasted it for quite a long time—but he shook his head.

"This is a big crisis, something we've never faced before. We have no time to waste, and drinking champagne is out of the question. Code fifteen, Viktor, it's code fifteen!"

"Very well. I shall begin my research." The line was cut off instantly, leaving Ludwig to drop the phone unceremoniously into its cradle.

Whoever the perpetrator was, he was going down, big time.

Teela sat in her boat, recalling the terrible events in her life. The strange being injecting its poison into her, causing her to grow those tokens of misfortune…She remained motionless, her poker face gazing at the moon. The blasted fangs…How the people had blamed her for the dead…A corner of her mouth twitched, but the memories kept coming. How the ghosts had made her say those things…she should have listened to Reema. She narrowed her eyes. How they could control her very thoughts…she had felt so powerless, so stripped of the playful and unafraid feelings she had felt that fateful night…so…violated. Her most private part of her as a whole…yet it was invaded, so easily as if it was an empty house with its doors unlocked. The left corner of her lips parted, as did her right.

And yet she was powerless…

That terrible phrase. Powerless…to do anything at all. Powerless to even convince the town that she was completely innocent. It kept mocking her, that one little word. Powerless. Even to save her parents. To save Reema. To do anything worthwhile.

As the tears flowed down her snout, she let out a cry of anguish and rage, rocking her boat and causing waves. She sobbed


uncontrollably, her powers causing disruption among the calm sea. When would this torment, if ever, end? She let out one final cry before letting her eyes run dry.

Dr. Viktor sat in his room, poring over the contents. So this was what Ludwig was talking about…A continuation of the murders that occurred years ago, only ending when Ludwig had sent an army to kill the fellow. The mighty Oppenfuhrer had died along with his wife and daughter. But someone was missing. His son had, presumably, escaped, although the official statement was that all had been stamped out.

Sergei Viktor grit his teeth. The connection was just too obvious.

TBI lay on the floor, panting. He never should have agreed to this. He grasped his weapon and crawled, dragging his now-useless legs behind him. The bloody fools at the head of Shield Inc. had no idea of the pain he was going through, and probably never would. The dolts were merely children, mature in physical appearance but lacking in real maturity. Without the proper morale and consideration, they would never stop playing their war games, and definitely never achieve what they aimed for.

TBI breathed heavily, his mask making large noises. The communication device had been destroyed and discarded several minutes ago. He was rendered useless and vulnerable, crippled by the falling of a large portion of the ceiling onto his legs. The doctor could easily reach him now.

As if on cue, he—it—appeared.

Swearing under his breath, he let off several short bursts, knowing even then that he was doomed. Nevertheless, he kept on shooting, the fiery spheres leaping out of the Super Scope's barrel and hitting the thing's chest. As the thing plunged its now grown claws into his stomach, he let go of the Super Scope, his last thoughts focused on his wife and children.

Oh, Sarah…