Location: Khazan City
Team: The Children of Sayang
Strength: weak (rank 0)
Agility: weak (rank 0)
Mind: superior (rank 2)
Body: weak (rank 0)
Spirit: (rank )
Charisma: (rank )
Infamy Points: -4
Personal Wins: 78
Personal Losses: 77
Team Wins: 0
Team Losses: 0
Tourney Wins: 0
Tourney Losses: 0
The Order of the Healers has been in existence for thousands of years. They were around when Socrates drank hemlock (and indeed, they succeeded in keeping him alive, if only for a short time), when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death (as far as the rest of the world knew, anyway) on the floor of the Roman Senate Chamber, when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Europe, and when the Third Reich came to an end. Always, they were there. Operating in the shadows, appearing as normal as any other human.
The gift of Healing tends to be hereditary, although this is not always the case. It can skip several generations or emerge in a new family altogether. The prowess of each Healer varied from person-to-person, from the ability to merely mend flesh more quickly than natural to being able to restart a beating heart. Those with the power to do the latter were few and far between, indeed. Many Healers take jobs as doctors and nurses, for obvious reasons.
But the Order was manipulating physiology and aiding the sick, the injured, the diseased long before the first so-called “physicians" and “professionals" reared their heads. Their powers were seen as unnatural by many, leading to veritable witch hunts in many communities -- ignorant, fearful peasants lynching those who merely attempted to help them. Regardless, the Healers didn't exactly understand their gifts, either. Their origin was unclear, and there was no record of when it first emerged.
The Healers would never retaliate, however -- even as they were dragged out to the stocks or the gallows, they simply accepted their fate. In wars, they treated the soldiers of both factions. No sides could be taken, as that could lead to a path of hostility. And hostility was the opposite of what Healers stood for. Thus emerged the mantra repeated over many generations of the Order and drilled into the heads of each up-and-coming Healer: “Do no harm."� And they have faithfully carried out that directive, for better or for worse, for as long as anyone can tell.
I was four years old, standing in the hallway outside of my parents' bedroom. They were discussing something, and I soon discovered that what they were discussing was me.
“Monica, you can't tell me you haven't felt it. Joseph is special. He's got the gift more than any Healer I've ever met," my dad's voice rang out with conviction.
My mother replied, equally determined, “I want him to have a normal life, James. You know as well as I do how hard it can be to be a Healer. If we start him on that path, the Order will claim him for the 'greater good' as they say."
James and Monica Garrett. My parents. They were young, both of them. Only in their early twenties, in fact. And both of them were healers, rather talented ones at that. I learned later that my father came from a long line of hard-line Healers, “conservatives"�, you could say. My mother, on the other hand, was a bit more of a free-spirit.
“We can't just hide him from the world!" my father said, clearly exasperated. "He can help people, save so many lives!"
“And that will be his choice to make, not yours!" she exclaimed without missing a beat.
They went on for the better part of an hour, while I hid just outside the doorway, listening. At that age, I didn't understand much of what they were saying. But it became clear with time. In hindsight, I think my mother's intentions were not as she made them appear. Even at that point, I think she sensed something in me. Something wrong, at least to her. Evil, perhaps. It must have been subtle, but it didn't stop her from coveting me for several more years.
I grew up, more or less, as a “normal child"�. I went to school, I made a few friends. I learned precious little about the Order to which my parents belonged, despite the wishes of my mother. Finally, when I was eleven, she gave in.
Eli Wilkins. That was the name of my mentor, the one would teach me how to be a Healer, how to embrace their philosophies and aid the weary for the rest of my life. I was apprehensive as I packed my bags, driven to the weather-beaten home of a wizened old man, and dropped off by my parents. My dad remained stoic, teeth clenched, muttering his goodbyes. To him, this had to be done. It was his duty as much as mine. My mother was also quiet, tears rolling down her face as she hugged me. I stood in the dirt and gravel driveway outside the home as the sedan drove down the road, watching silently as the vehicle disappeared into a cloud of dust.
Eli stood next to me, arms clasped behind his back. He respectfully kept his silence. As the car went out of sight, he slowly placed on hand on my back, guiding me toward the house.
“Come on, son. We have much to do."
Over the next two years, I lived with Wilkins. He taught me anatomy and physiology from a variety of medical textbooks. The Healers weren't opposed to using conventional medical knowledge -- in many ways, it made their jobs easier. He showed me how to master my power, how to control it and manipulate it. He was a fair man, not warm and comforting by any stretch, nor was he dispassionate. No matter what else he taught me, there was one catch phrase that never managed to escape a lesson of his: “Do no harm."
He told me of the origins of that phrase. Once upon a time, hundreds of years ago, a rogue healer had emerged. One with immense talent -- but he didn't use his powers to aid the sick and weary. No, he was the one who showed the Order that each and every ability a Healer had at their disposal had a potentially darker edge, and it only took the right individual to unlock that potential and to embrace it. Several years and millions of deaths later, that rogue had been stopped. The world at large had called it “Black Death"�. The Order called it a lesson in the importance of ethics.
One day, the moment of truth came. I was outside Eli's house, sitting on the grass and staring into the distant treeline. Off to my left, my mentor approached me, cradling something in his hands. I stood as he came closer, and saw that he held in his hands a wounded bird. Its wing was shattered, and it warbled, squirming futilely in the old man's hands.
"Shh, you'll be alright," he said quietly, soothing the bird. But as he did so, he slowed its heart rate, putting it in a state similar to that which anesthesia produced. He did so without breaking a sweat.
"This is it, Joseph. Remember what I've taught you. Mend this bird and you'll be well on your way to becoming a true Healer," he said, his tone even.
I nodded, gulping in anticipation. I took the bird into my hands slowly and silently. I felt the texture of its feathers against my skin. I reached out with my sense, one normal humans lacked. I could “feel" the inner workings of the avian body. Closing my eyes, I concentrated. I perceived the bones in the wing, fractured but not irreparable.
Then I dug deeper, moving past the superficial. I found it: the bird's heart, beating slowly and rhythmically. There it was, a testament to life and the beauty of nature. The thing we Healers stood to defend
I snuffed it out.
The heartbeat stopped instantaneously at my command, at my will. I had done that. Me. My power. I opened me eyes.
“What have you done?" Eli asked, dumbfounded and horrified. He didn't slap me, he didn't yell; he did nothing. Face blank, I dropped the bird onto the ground, spun on my heel, and walked away, back toward the house.
After the incident with the bird, Eli locked me away into my room. He left me in silence. The man simply could not understand what I had done. I was an out-of-context problem for him, an anomaly of the worst sort.
For hours, I sat in my room, head on my knees, nestled in a corner. I did not regret my actions. Quite the contrary. I reveled in my newfound power -- I was special, and no short-sighed old codger would stop me from discovering my full potential. That I was sure of. For the first time in my short life, I had purpose. Some part of me knew that I should feel mournful, ashamed about my act. Those were abstract qualities to me. My mind simply discarded them as easily as a man discards the stranger he passes on the sidewalk.
My vision suddenly clouded, taking me by surprise. Was this Eli? No... he had no reason to do this. My confusion only grew when voice rang out, inside, around, and outside my head simultaneously. "Good. I was afraid you'd turn out like the rest of those ignorant 'philanthropists'. I can see now that my trust was well-placed."
A figure manifested in my blackened sight, a shapeless, amorphous black blob. My neurons fired rapidly. A hallucination?
"What are you?" I asked, my voice cracking slightly. Hairs on my arm rose, my heartbeat increasing in pace.
"I am your progenitor. And you are my seed, many generations hence. Surely your mentor has mentioned me, the 'Black Death' I think they called it," the voice had a raspy quality but was thoughtful in tone.
"You... you're the rogue Healer Eli told me about?" I said, scarcely believing my own words.
"Yes," the shape remarked evenly. "You thought it mere coincidence that you, and only you, wielded your gifts to reap life? That you rebelled against the ridiculous Order and their philosophies? No. I discovered the means by which to manipulate the powers in such a way, and I was cast out for it. But I have passed this ability on to you."
"You made me like this?" I asked, my voice raising.
"Yes, this was my doing. When I felt my life coming to a close, I put certain... measures in place. You are my last, greatest creation. The Black Death will pale in comparison to the plague and pestilence you will wreak upon this wretched world and its inhabitants. You have but to reach out and seize your destiny, my son."
I hesitated, confused, afraid, yet eager. This was not as simple as killing a bird, what this man, my ancestor, was proposing... Something in my brain squashed the thoughts as soon as they had arisen. They were replaced only by willingness, by determination. I didn't know whether that was my own twisted mind embracing the path laid out for me or some manipulation by the being that stood vigilantly watching, but I didn't question it.
Perhaps my mother was right in trying to keep me locked away from the world. This must have been what she feared, although I couldn't imagine why. She was a free spirit... and now, so was I.
"I believe you will make the wise decision, my descendant. Only one thing remains. Your name. It is not fitting for one of your status. You are to be the Scourge of the World and need a title to match. The old man approaches. Seize the opportunity. We will speak again... in time." The form vanished, my vision clearing immediately.
Induced Sleep: standard (rank 1)
I heard the distinctive sound of Eli's boots on the floorboards, stopping at my door.
“Joseph," he called out, his voice carrying into my room. “Joseph, can you hear me? I want to speak with you."�
“Joseph, answer me," he said, becoming concerned now. Finally, the door cracked open. He stepped inside carefully. I was on him in an instant.
I placed my hand on his forehead, reaching out and channeling my energy into him. I went to work suspending sensory activity, deactivating his voluntary muscles, and shutting down his response to stimuli. His eyes fluttered as he groaned quietly, before sinking to the ground slowly.
After binding his hands and tying him securely to the foot of the bed, I left. I had already packed my bag, tossing it over my shoulder as I pushed the screen door open. I knew then that I was entering a new stage in my life, one that I controlled.
Decay: superior (rank 2)
Sixteen and a half years later, I sat on the bar stool in some shady joint in Detroit. I had a cup of scotch in front of me. I enjoyed the drink, taking in the rhythm of the music as it reverberated in my chest.
I thought back, remembering a time in which I had been lost after escaping Eli. I returned to the home of my parents, but did not enter. I approached a window, looking in to see my father embracing my mother. She was crying. Their voices carried through the window, muffled but still distinguishable. "I should have known this would happen, James," my mom sobbed.
"You had no way of knowing this would happen," he replied comfortingly, stroking her shoulder.
"But I did! There was so much I never told you because I didn't want to believe it... what have I done? He's not even our son anymore!" she yelled the last words, breaking free of my father's grasp to throw a framed picture at the wall, the glass shattering.
Removing a pack of cigarettes from the pack in front of me, I lit it, taking a drag and savoring it before exhaling. For most humans, drinking and smoking was generally a recipe for trouble in the future, as far as your health went. Such was not the case for me. I made sure my liver stayed healthy, no matter how much I alcohol I drank. Hell, I could even control the processes that caused hangovers in most people, thus sparing myself of that particular side effect. As for the smoking, my respiratory system remained clear and healthy -- in no small part to my gifts. If or when lung cancer showed up, I'd take care of that as well.
But I couldn't cure stupid. And that's what reared its ugly ahead a few seconds later in the form of the guy sitting two seats down from me. He was a tough guy, who was perfectly content to mind other people's business rather than his own. In all likelihood, no one had ever given him reason to step back and reconsider his life choices. The guy was big, and probably threw his weight around rather often. That ended tonight.
“Hey buddy, mind putting that cigarette out? I just quit and I don't need some moron lightin' up in front of me,"� he said, an arrogant smirk on his face.
I ignored him, taking another drag and blowing this one sideways, directly towards his face.
He laughed, taking a swig of beer before slamming the bottle down in front of him, slapping the table, and standing to his feet. “What, you want to start somethin' bud?"
Still I said nothing, still puffing on the stick of tobacco and nicotine. I lowered it thoughtfully to tap it against the ashtray before going back to my business. That's when the fist came.
I didn't know any martial arts, but it didn't take a ninja to dodge a clumsy, intoxicated man's punch. And that's what I did, sliding out of the stool as the fist glided harmlessly past. Grabbing hold of the man's arm, I placed one hand against his face, a grin plastered on my face.
Enzymes were secreted through my fingertips, breaking down the skin cells in the man's face. Cellular necrosis was not a pretty thing, and this was no exception. The epithelial cells broke down as the tissue mortified in seconds, becoming discolored and mottled, lesions forming rapidly. The man screamed, clutching his face and falling backwards, writhing on the floor in agony. I laughed, pulling the cigarette from my mouth and taking a knee, putting the burning tip against the decomposing flesh.
“Enjoy your time as a leper, as--"
That's when his buddy stopped staring, dumbfounded, and instead decided to play hero. He stood, yanking back his leather jacket to fumble for a small pistol. He drew it and fired wildly.
Poison: superior (rank 2)
The bullet was poorly-aimed, leaving a glancing wound on my shoulder, albeit a painful one. Grunting in pain, I lifted my good arm and focused intently on the man.
“Bad idea," I said.
He attempted to pull the trigger, but the gun was jammed. A stovepipe malfunction, no doubt due to the poor quality of the weapon and ammunition. All the better for me.
In seconds, the man's expression went from one of surprise and fear to one of pain. He coughed, a deep, rattling cough. Clutching at his chest, he dropped the gun and sank to his knees. The blood came pouring from his mouth, but I knew that on the inside, he was drowning in it. Drowning in his own, life-preserving fluid. It was filling his lungs and he would be dead within minutes. I had no sympathy for the man. He had shot me, after all. Anything less and I may have considered simply putting him to sleep.
I'd always been fascinated by diseases. While I couldn't simply cause a pathogen to form out of thin air and afflict someone, I could manipulate them. Indeed, I spent a considerable portion of my time “sampling"� various forms of harmful bacteria, viruses, and prions. I cultured them within my own body, and could unleash them whenever I saw fit. Once they manifested in the unfortunate victim, I could amplify their effects, speed up their work. They were such fascinating things. However, that isn't what I did to the man pouring blood onto the floor of the bar. Rather, I infected him with a modified form Von Willebrand disease, by simply doing away with several, rather important proteins necessary for the adhesion of platelets. Once that was done, all I needed to do was break few blood vessels and let nature take its course -- massive blood loss and not a clot in sight. A neat trick, although I doubt he thought so.
I'd managed to attract quite an audience. A few women screamed, and more than a few were calling 911. Others simply stared. I shrugged with my good shoulder, grabbing the wounded one and exiting through the back door of the bar before the police arrived. No one tried to stop me.
Healing: superior (rank 2)
Several blocks away, I stopped in an alleyway. I removed my jacket and rolled up the sleeve of my shirt. The bullet wound wasn't serious, like I thought, but it needed to be dealt with nonetheless. I placed my hand over it, closing my eyes. To the casual observer, the flesh mended itself in seconds, but I was actually simply accelerating the natural healing process -- speeding up the clotting and the production of collagen by fibroblasts. After a few moments, a small layer of scar tissue covered the area, having replaced the bleeding wound. I brushed the blood away, shrugged the jacket back on, and stretched the arm, working out any kinks. Good as new.
But my fun for the night was not over -- not by a long shot. I walked out of the alleyway, a smile on my face as I descended deeper into the darkness of the city...