Epilogue

And so, on March 12, 2012, Nikki Janice Storm attacked her fellow heroes, slaying some of them in the process. Two weeks later, beautiful funerals were held for the heroes Baton, Everglade, Riptide, Storm, Lunar Eclipse, and the others who gave their lives to help bring Nikki peace. The Human Torch, angered by Iron Man's and Thor's actions, hunted them down. Though he could not harm the immortal Thor, he made Iron Man pay. When finished, Mr. Fantastic and other brilliant scientists diagnosed Nikki. She had been put in a coma. That is the only thing they know for certain.

Mr. Fantastic believes the extra powers will wear off in time, before or after she awakens. Iron Man built a weapon just for her, and the stress of both the weapon and the shifting consciousness's grew too much. He does not know if and when she will wake up.

Though no one has realized it yet, Nikki is completely aware of her surroundings. She cannot make her body function, but she is conscious of her surroundings and her actions. She knows what she did, and is hoping Johnny decides to take her off life support. Until then, Nikki must live a guilty conscience. The shame is eating her alive. Only time will tell what happens.

A little over a decade ago a little girl clung to the well-to-do man's neck. The man, one of an evil crime lord's henchmen, could not resist the little girl's smile when he found her playing in an alley. She had been alone, nothing but a purring kitten keeping her company. The kitten ran away when it sensed the man's presence, but the girl kept drawing pictures on the dusty wall. He was tempted to walk away and leave her to starve, but he could not stop himself from glancing at her. She had short brown hair covering her head and deep, soul-searching liquid chocolate eyes. When she looked into his pale blue eyes, she beamed, the smile lighting up her dirty face. The smile was so sweet, so innocent; he could not leave her alone. He picked her up and held her close to his chest to protect her from the cold wind. "What's your name, little one?" he asked softly.

She stumbled over the word, the only comprehendible sound being, "Ni."

Her clear soprano voice shocked him, causing him to pause momentarily. This girl deserved a good home. Realizing she could not talk, he just held her close. He searched for a home housing a good family for the better part of an hour. Finally, he found the Storm household. Franklin Storm was a good man; he would take care of the child. He rushed up to the door, placed the child in front of the threshold, and rang the doorbell. He hid in a nearby bush, waiting to see what they would do with the child.

A young girl opened the door. She looked down when she saw no one was there. "Daddy, there's a little kid on the doorstep!" she cried, running back inside the house.

Another person appeared, this time a man sporting wispy hair and a bushy mustache. "Bring her in, Susan," he ordered the girl. Storm shut the door behind them.

The man watched the next events through a slightly open window. Good, they took her, he thought gratefully.

"Dad, what is it?" a little boy called out, rushing into the living room. He almost knocked over the decorated Christmas tree resting in the corner.

"Relax, Johnny. Somebody left us an early Christmas present," Storm told his rambunctious son.

"Can we name her?" Johnny asked.

"How about Nikki, after mommy?" Susan suggested when her father shook his head in agreement. She took the little girl from her father's arms.

"Her middle name can be Janice, like grandma," Johnny offered.

"Nikki Janice, I like it," their father sighed. "That will be her name until we decide what to do with her. It suits her. All right, off to bed. I'll find a place for her to sleep. Don't you worry."

"Oh, I hope we keep her," Susan murmured as she went to her bedroom.

The man came out from his hiding place, walking out to the sidewalk. He knew he would be punished for his tardiness, but his heart swelled when he thought about his good deed. No punishment could make his happiness dwindle, knowing that he had given a child a home.