The Past Always Catches Up
In a rundown diner on the east side of Europa, instead of staying at the seats the usual customers are gathered around a TV set watching a news flash, all except, Enrico Hernandez an police officer with the EPD. His lack of interest is confusing to the others since the broadcast centres around an officer that worked at his precinct. Though his back is to the crowd, the volume is loud enough to hear everything even if cannot see anything and if the others could see him they would notice each word cut through him like a knife.
“This was breaking news in the people vs Jenny MacClare,” continued the news reader. “The jury has found disgraced EPD officer guilty on both counts of murder involving her partner Kate Adams and CLEA Special Agent Simon Gray…”
The news broadcast continued but Enrico was not there to hear it. He abandoned his coffee and simply slipped out of the door before risking encountering anyone in the diner who wanted his opinion on the outcome.
Eighteen months later, Enrico still visited the diner only now he was no longer a policeman. He’d quit his job shortly after the MacClare trial. Though he was friends with people in the diner he refused to ever give a reason for his decision. Many, especially his colleagues in the forty-ninth precinct thought his behaviour was equally bizarre. Finding out Jenny MacClare was a killer and would stoop so low as to kill another officer had been a shock to them all but not enough for them to try a new career. Those close to him in the EPD had once joked that Enrico would become part of the building by the time he retired. He had been loyal hard working and even managed to attain the rank of Sergeant in order to earn enough money to look after his young family. A friend of his once stated that Enrico had become haunted by something to do with the MacClare case. As far as haunting went though, Enrico would not be the only ghost from the past connected with the case.
In recent weeks a curious story was circling the EPD, regarding the impound yard were Gray’s vehicle had been taken after forensic evidence had been collected. According to the rumours after a thunderstorm had passed through the city, the yard had taken a hit and from then onwards there had been strange sounds, lights and even sighting of an apparition walking around Gray’s car. CCTV footage would have perhaps provided evidence of the strange goings on but every time an “incident” happened there was a power outage that shut down the cameras. Things got so bad in the compound that few officers would take on the assignment of night watchman. Then the strangest thing of all happened, Gray’s car disappeared from the yard on its own one night after smashing through several fences.
Though the Europa police considered searching for the car they figured the vehicle a rather expensive sports car might have been stolen to order and ended up in a chop shop somewhere. Then there was the slight problem that if an investigation took place and it became public knowledge that a vehicle that had been pinched from a police impound it would be highly embarrassing for the EPD. Since the ghost stories had caused enough losses it was decided in everyone’s interest to drop the matter quietly.
The EPD in their wisdom never presumed the vehicle would be seen again and the last person who ever thought he would see Gray’s car again was Enrico Hernandez but one March evening, three weeks after Gray’s car vanished from the impound it “found” Hernandez.
At the time he had been working as a security guard, the same job he’d had since leaving the force. The money was worse than his job as a sergeant and it meant looking after his family had become a struggle but he could never go back to his old life.
Like every other commuter, Enrico had managed to learn the quickest route home and stuck to it religiously. Nothing ever usually happened to make the journey interesting so driving was reduced to the usual changing the gears, losing his temper with the car in front and checking on the clock how late he was.
However on this particular night he became aware that there was a black sports car following him. Compared to his own vehicle the sports car looked to have far more power and Enrico considered that it could have easily overtaken him on several occasions yet the driver seemed content to stay behind. Having been tailgated for quite some time soon became annoying for Hernandez so he pulled over as means to force the other car to overtake him but the black sports car did exactly the same.
Aggravation now turned to annoyance so he deliberately drove around the block to ensure the black car would continue on its journey and stop bugging him. Enrico did not want any trouble so this was his last attempt to avoid a road rage incident. However the black car followed him around the block as well.
Figuring the other driver obviously had some grievance with him, Hernandez pulled over for a second time and got out to see what his or her problem was. Walking towards the back of his car he was a expecting an altercation at any time so was a little surprised that the other driver did not get out of his car. Still angry Hernandez walked past the nose of the black car.
For a few moments he then thought the car looked familiar but could not quite place where he had seen it or one like it before. He moved to the rear of the car and it was only when he looked at the number plate did the hair on the back of his stand on end for the letters on it where exactly the same as had been on the car belonging to Simon Gray. When with the EPD he had proved himself to have a photographic memory and that was one number plate he was not going to forget.
Looking up and down the car Hernandez now realised that it was the same car or rather he concluded it was a near identical one and assumed someone was playing a sick prank on him.
Slowly and deliberately with his right hand he took out a small firearm he often carried at night. Enrico wanted to make sure the other driver saw his weapon, a visual threat he was not in the mood to play the game any longer. As he was about to knock on the driver’s window he peered in but the driver appeared to fade into nothing before his eyes. He though perhaps it was a trick of light due to the reflections on the glass so having lost his patience entirely he grabbed hold of the door handle and pulled it wide open. Enrico was then going to launch a massive verbal barrage at the driver only nobody was sitting in the seat. In fact nobody was in the car altogether, yet the engine was running.
Mixed thoughts entered his head as he tried to rationalise what was happening and then as he moved from leaning into the car and returned upright he saw a sight that horrified him for standing by the side of the vehicle was a figure that resembled Simon Gray.
It had Gray’s body shape and even his face but the top of the head was covered in strange glowing symbols. Below the neckline was equally strange for the entire body not only glowed but was also covered in various coloured patterns of light that seemed to shift around.
Whether out of surprise or fear, Hernandez fired two shots from his firearm but the rounds passed right through the figure and continued on into a wall. The figure did not bother to evade the attack and his lack of reaction afterwards was an indicator to Hernandez that whatever he tried would have no effect on his opponent. Having heard all about Alpha heroes and villains, Enrico presumed he was dealing with one of those or something similar.
“Alright who are you and what do you want?” asked Enrico.
“If you still have a conscience then you know exactly who I am,” said the figure calmly.
“You’re not real, you can’t be. You died,” screamed Hernandez, gripped in terror.
For a moment the figure simply stood and stared at him without saying a word.
“I am very real, but whilst technically my ‘human’ body is dead I am now something else entirely.”
“Then what do you want from me?” asked Hernandez panicking. He figured that Gray was not intending to kill him as he would have done so already.
“Jenny MacClare…I am giving you and your friends the option to correct an injustice by turning yourselves in.”
“And what happens if we don’t?”
“I will ensure you will all suffer in far greater ways than you have brought upon MacClare. Do not make the mistake of thinking this is a negotiation.”
Before Hernandez could say anything else the ‘entity’ faded to nothing and reappeared in the driver’s seat whereupon the car roared off leaving Hernandez alone on the pavement. It then took him nearly half an hour before he could calm himself down enough to get in his car and finish off the journey home.
When he got home he was shaking so violently that Carmen, his wife wanted to know what had happened. He tried to resist saying anything but when he told her about the ‘ghost’ he had mentioned she wanted to know why Gray was haunting him. At that moment eighteen months of emotions and secrets burst forth and once he started he could not stop.
Murder and the Patsy
Going back a year and half Enrico explained that after getting transferred to the Forty-Ninth he began to get worried that he would have problems with money, especially with a baby on the way. He’d kept his concerns from Carmen at the time and things began to look better when he befriended Lieutenant John Boulton who offered him a potential way out. Along with Detective Ben Johnson and Sergeant Henry James the trio moonlighted as security guards.
Under police rules, moonlighting was prohibited but since all four of them were friends Boulton mentioned that the risk was minimised because they could keep the secret between themselves and unless anybody went blabbing to the other officers in the forty-ninth then the captain was not likely to find out. Desperate for money and having been sweet talked into not worrying about the risk, Hernandez told Carmen he had jumped at the opportunity. Of course he now admitted he had kept it a secret from her so all the late night stakeouts and overtime were to cover up the fact he was doing two jobs.
Everything changed when rumours got around that the EPD was going to work with the international crime agency known as CLEA. Though more famous for apprehending Alphas and other “powered” criminals this was just part of their work for the agency was primarily set up as a means to bypass problems where criminal border hopped. Recognised by the governments of many countries who gave it the same powers as “domestic” law enforcement agencies, over the years it had become a thorn in the side for international criminals. Previous to CLEA agencies of different countries wasted so much time in deciding who was in charge that by the time a decision was the reached the criminals were long gone. However with CLEA’s agents on the job they could take charge and avoid the red tape but with limited resources they still needed the help of the “locals”.
In the matter that affected the EPD, CLEA wanted to look into a company known as Dragon Leisure Services which their agents believed was a front for international money laundering being used by the Claremont Cartel. The problem for Enrico and the others was DLS was the same company they had been providing security for. Since CLEA had limited resources in terms of agents they had asked the EPD, specifically the Forty-Ninth had been handed the job of raiding the premises.
Hoping CLEA had made a mistake and DLS was clean though was too much for Enrico to ask for because after the raid had taken place and various computers and equipment were confiscated.
Boulton was also worried and thought their names might appear on one of the computer file but Johnson and James said he was over reacting. They figured that if they were getting paid cash in hand then their services would not be on the DLS records. Their leader though was not convinced they were safe. He tried to befriend some of the officers on the team sifting through the evidence but that got him nowhere so Boulton took a huge risk and smuggled a spy camera into the investigation room.
By that time the others were really worried about Boulton because he seemed to become obsessed. After his day job he would go home at night and then watch the footage he had recorded. As time went by though and the evidence was filled away in boxes and it started to look like CLEA was wrong and DLS was clean, he started to relax. The two CLEA agents working on the case were even recalled leaving the EPD to finish of cataloguing the remaining items. This gave the quartet an opportunity to finally relax a little. They even joked about how they had survived a near miss although as far as Hernandez was concerned it was a nervous laugh.
Then fate intervened and two hard drives were found hidden in the false bottom of a briefcase. The data on it was encrypted and despite their best efforts the labs could not break the security. By way of his spy camera Boulton learned CLEA became particularly interested in this new evidence and were sending over Special Agent Simon Gray who was coming in to collect the drives.
Boulton had heard of Simon Gray and knew he was one of CLEA’s White Guardian’s, an agent with Alpha abilities. Codenamed Technomerge” due to the fact he could merge with technology and extract data, Boulton feared if Gray got his hands on the hard drives he could bypass the encryption and as well as other sensitive data there might find evidence of their moonlighting.
Ordinarily the CLEA agent would have gone to the station and it would have been game over for Hernandez and the others but their luck was in for by way of his illicit surveillance Boulton learned Gray was caught in traffic on the night of the pickup. Both he and the drives had to be on a plane by eleven that evening so to help him out one of the member of the police investigation team, Lieutenant Kate Adams offered to meet Gray at a rendezvous that would halve his journey time through the busy traffic so he could get to his flight on time. Upon hearing the arrangements being made Boulton met with the others and informed them that they had to stop the hand over.
Enrico told Carmen that at the time he wanted to simply come clean and tell the captain everything but the others had more to lose and outvoted him.
Working together the group, tailed their target Lieutenant Adams. Along the way Adams dropped her partner off at her apartment and continued on. It was not long after this that they then became aware they had been made for Adams began driving evasively and lost the pursuers. By the time they found her again they put their plan in place and tried to hijack her car. A shootout took place and James killed Adams by mistake. Then when they searched her car the package had gone. At this point Johnson was dispatched to see if MacClare knew where the package might have been dropped off but when he got to her apartment she was leaving.
At her trial MacClare claimed that Adams had called her a few minutes after being dropped off and stated she was being followed. Having contacted Gray he thought the Cartel were trying to intercept the package so asked Adams to ditch it at a safe location. Adams then asked her to pick up the package and take it to Gray at the arranged location whilst Adams led her pursuers away.
After returning to her car following the handover someone had knocked her out and when she came to Gray’s car had vanished and Kate was dead, close by.
During her trial the prosecution asked why Adams did not contact her captain about being followed and MacClare stated that her partner and the investigation team were the only ones who knew about the package which meant if the Cartel was following them then someone on the team had passed on the information. Since Adams was not sure who to trust they had chosen to work alone. Having introduced the idea of corruption, the prosecution suggested she was in fact the corrupt officer.
With a whole host of overwhelming circumstantial evidence the jury did not believe her which was why she was found guilty.
Enrico told Carmen that they had managed to tail MacClare to the rendezvous and when Gray refused to hand over the package they shot him as he was loading his car. As he lay dying they took the hard drives and placed Gray into his car. MacClare had heard the shots and came running from her car and not noticed Johnson behind her. Rather than killing her, he pistol whipped her across the back of her head. The group then chose to make her the scape goat, planting evidence on her and adding fingerprints to the weapons involved. Before pushing Gray and his car into the river they dropped MacClare’s driving license into the foot well thus sealing her fate. All it took then was an anonymous phone call and the police came running.
As Carmen listened to Enrico’s story she was shocked at how far he would go to protect his own hide. Enrico tried arguing that he had no choice in the matter because he was scared the others might have even turned on him. Carmen though could not live with the fact that her husband had not only taken part in two murders but was content to allow an innocent person to rot in jail for his and the others crimes.
After a couple of hours arguing, she gave him an ultimatum and that was he should do as the “ghostly” Gray has asked and confess his crime or she would do it for him. Aware that it was hopeless to argue with her, he agreed to make things right but asked that she at least give him a few days so that he could persuade the others to come clean.
Still upset by the disgust he had seen on Carmen’s face and still shocked at what he had witnessed the night before, the next day Enrico called in sick and spent the day trying to contact Johnson, James and Bolton in order to tell them about Gray’s warning. After many hours he managed to reach them all and arranged a meeting at ten in the evening at the ‘Watering Hole’ the same bar they all used to frequent together when they worked for EPD.
To say the others were surprised at receiving a call was an understatement for they agreed they would never talk about the incident. Due to him being extremely anxious about what had happened the previous night and Gray’s threat, whilst driving to the bar Enrico was so distracted that he failed to notice he was being followed by the black car.
Unlike before, Gray had chosen to use stealth so he kept to the shadows and avoided getting too close. Though no longer quite as ‘dead’ as Hernandez and the others had thought, he was not alive either in the conventional sense. Instead Gray considered himself a new ‘kind’ of life that existed partway between man and machine. Since returning from the ‘dead’ and learning of MacClare’s fate he had decided to make use of his reincarnation by setting the record straight.
It took him quite some time and effort but eventually he had found a link between Boulton and the others which indicated their possible involvement in his murder. Hernandez had then confirmed his hypothesis by asking what would happen if they did not do as he had demanded as opposed to denying involvement altogether.
Proving they had done serious crimes though was a problem for Gray and though he had now had the means and even the desire to dispose of them, killing the four would not see MacClare released. Therefore the only solution he had come up with was to get them to confess. Out of the four of them he saw Hernandez as the best opportunity in this regard. However Gray was quite happy for any of them to talk and as far as he was concerned only one of them was needed. This meant he could treat the strongest members of the group as ‘disposable’ in order to put pressure on the remainder. Before taking his psychological warfare against the group to the next level Gray decided he would give them the opportunity to confess without coercion which is why he had given Hernandez the warning.
The Fate of Boulton
As Enrico sat at the table and recounted his story about what had happened the night before, the other conspirators could see that their old friend was visibly shaken. Despite this they still doubted credence in the idea that Gray’s ghost had come back for them. Hernandez though argued that they should take the warning he had been given seriously but the others would not listen.
“Well I for one don’t believe in this spook crap,” said Johnson after Hernandez had finally finished.
“I wouldn’t either if you told me that story but you did not see what I did and I’m telling you it was Gray!”
“More like someone is just trying to give you a fright Hernandez.”
“And why would someone not Gray do that then?”
“For whatever reason I bet one of those vigilante hero types has decided to poke around in old cases and found something suspicious about Gray’s death. Maybe even a family member. They have no proof of what we did so they scare you into letting something slip,” added James, “And from what you told me it looks like they hived some movie FX guys. Dead easy to make a ‘ghost’ people have been doing that for centuries with projectors and mist of smoke. Add a remote control device to a car and voila we have instant ghost driving a car!”
“And this does mean gentlemen we need to find out who this someone is and take care of the problem,” suggested Boulton.
“Wait a minute,” argued Hernandez, “I’ve seen a projector and there was no beam of light connecting Gray to any gizmo.”
“You were probably freaking out you weren’t even looking,” suggested James.
“Yeah and if it was some sort of animated computer image it could be made to appar to interact with you as well,” added Boulton.
“Look at it this way Hernandez if it was a ghost how come it took eighteen months to come back and find us and why now?” asked James.
“Good point,” added Johnson.
“Well, all I can say is I passed the message on and believe what you like if it helps you sleep through the night but I know what I saw and it won’t no movie effect,” said Hernandez downing the last of his drink.
He was annoyed that he was trying to protect them from Gray but they had rejected his story at the first opportunity. Consequently as they were being so stubborn he did not see the point in continuing so he stormed off out of the bar.
“I’m getting worried about him. If he cracks we’re all in the shit,” said Boulton after Hernandez had gone. He was about to continue when Hernandez came running back in from the street.
“Hey guys you are not going to believe this but Gray is waiting outside!,” he instructed.
“Oh for the love of gawd,” muttered Boulton.
He was however curious so along with James and Johnson he followed Hernandez out into the street.
“There you go!” he screamed pointing at a black car parked on the opposite side of the road. As they all stared the black car slowly pulled away.
“Hmm looks like an average sort of ghost to me,” said Johnson sarcastically.
“Yer a bloody idiot Hernandez!” shouted Boulton
“What do you mean?”
“One way or another you were set up last night and now whoever is in that car knows who we all are! Well I ain’t taking this crap so if I see that car again I’m gonna find out who owns it and then I’ll take care of them personally and that’ll be an end to it! Ghost, huh, you’re worse than a stupid kid.”
Boulton was forced to shout the end of his sentence for he was already marching away from the others in a fit of anger. He had not got far up the road when the black car swung around and slowly began to follow him. Perhaps the most hardened of the group nothing scared Boulton and so when he became aware that something was behind him he turned round. Still holding a bottle in his hand that he’d left with from the bar, he threw it at the car whereupon it bounced off the bonnet. For a second he was sure it had made a dent which then had vanished but he put that down to alcohol making him ‘see things’.
“You don’t scare me whoever you are!” he screamed, “so if you don’t quit this shit you’re a dead man!”
However the car did not slow down or change direction but gently accelerated past Boulton who managed to get a good look at the driver. At first there seemed to be nobody driving and then a humanoid figure appeared in the driving seat that resembled Simon Gray. The figure did not acknowledge what had just happened but merely stared straight ahead until it was level with Boulton’s position on the pavement, at which point the driver’s window opened and Boulton heard a voice.
“You failed to heed my warning so you will be the first to pay for your sins!” said the driver, and then the car accelerated out of sight.
When he awoke the next day, Boulton thought about the strange things that had happened during with the encounter with the mysterious driver. Now with a clear mind he convinced himself of James’s hypothesis that some sort of visual effects were being used to create the illusion. Instead of acknowledging the threat Gray had made, he became more determined than ever to find out who was behind the mind games. Since he still retained his detective skills he felt it would not be too long he found the culprits and then he figured he would give them a threat of his own that would end the game once and for all.
Gray had pretty much expected how Boulton might react to his threat. Whilst he always expected that out of the four Hernandez was the most likely to confess, he viewed Boulton as the opposite. Therefore to put pressure on the others he planned on taking down Boulton, working in the adage that without a clear ‘leader’ the others would be left scared and confused. The threat he had made the night before was therefore designed for the sole purpose of provoking Boulton and getting him off his game.
Using the deserted streets that darkness created, Gray waited until evening before he started to hunt the person who he believed masterminded his murder as well as setting up MacClare’s for the killing of detective Adams. He had chosen his timing deliberately for he wanted to ensure no innocent bystanders were caught up in his act of revenge and darkness was also useful tool to create additional tension and fear.
Like most nights Boulton had been drinking in a bar alone. This was quite a regular for him as since he left the force as few would tolerate his company let alone want him as a friend. Leaving the bar at around one in the morning in an inebriated state he knew he should walk home but when he saw the black car waiting for him he grew angry.
“You wanna mess with me pal? Then you got it!” he said climbing into his classic muscle car.
Flooring the accelerator he sped away and the black car gave chase. Working on James’s idea that the car was being driven by remote control in order to create a driverless vehicle, Boulton thought he would lose his pursuer easily.
However it soon became apparent that the other car was maintaining pursuit so Boulton decided that on this occasion there was a ‘real’ driver behind the wheel. This he figured was a mistake on the part of the other person for he saw it as an opportunity to learn his or her identity and thus put an end to the trouble. All he needed to do was force the other driver to make a mistake that would render their vehicle immobile.
Having been a one time police pursuit driver and under the influence of alcohol he was feeling extremely confident about his driving skills. He believed his opponent was not in the same league as him and so he encouraged the chase. This was despite the fact that his opponent was using a high-powered sports car and he was using an imported older style sports car. By steadily increasing his velocity he theorised that sooner or later the other car would meet with a serious accident and then once this happened he could run up to it, open the driver’s door and it would all be over.
Ten minutes later after driving around a maze of backstreets, Boulton started to get unnerved for his plan was going awry. The other driver was as good as him if not better.
Slightly worried now, Boulton decided that as he was obviously not going to lose his tail he had no intention of allowing the driver of the black car to learn where he lived. However Boulton despite his best efforts the other car stuck to his back end like glue.
Worry and fear now gave way to fury as he became frustrated at what he thought where his own driving skills lacking and the fact his opponent seemed to be toying with him. Desperate times called for desperate measures so he decided if the other driver was not going to meet with an accident he was going to cause one instead.
Slowing down and entering a deserted street, he performed a handbrake turn spinning his vehicle to face the opposite direction. He then waited for the black car to appear and give the other driver a test of nerves.
Like the start of an old Wild West duel the cars were positioned at the opposite ends of the street facing each other. For a few moments both drivers waited as if trying to psyche out their opponent.
Boulton lost his patience first and floored the accelerator. As soon as he had started rolling the black car did the same. Both cars began to close on each other and Boulton was sure the other driver would flinch. Instead though the black car simply grew ever larger in his windshield.
Convinced the other driver would give in Boulton kept on accelerating but the black car did not appear to slow down. At the last possible moment Boulton tried to take evasive action but instead of doing the same the driver of the Black car appeared to deliberately aim for him. There was a loud bang and then silence. Without modern safety aides in his car he felt the full force of the impact.
With blood dripping down his forehead Boulton stared out of the shattered remains of the interior of his vehicle. The black car had hit him near head on and also suffered severe damage including the windscreen which had exploded outwards. For the first time since he had been followed Boulton could see clearly inside his challenger’s car and in the driver’s seat sat the ghostly image of Simon Gray.
It was only now, for the first time, he began to consider that James’s theory was wrong. That only left the one possibility, the other vehicle was being driven by an entity belonging to a dead person. Though that meant Hernandez had been right all along Boulton could at least take solace in the fact he had stopped Gray from harming any of his friends by destroying his vehicle.
“I got you” he muttered spitting blood out of his mouth and staring at the mangled wreck of Gray’s machine. Unable to move due to his injuries Boulton could do little else but look straight ahead. In the distance he heard the noises of emergency vehicles approaching.
“Dead or alive I beat you Gray!” he muttered, almost gloating at the fact he had stared death in the face and survived.
However as the words left his blood spattered lips, he saw bolts of electricity jump from overhead cables and dance all over the black car and this was then accompanied by a horrible grinding and scraping sound. To his amazement and horror Boulton watched as the black car began to edge slowly backwards working itself free from his own wrecked vehicle. At the same time as it pulled itself away Boulton noticed that the car appeared to be ‘fixing’ itself. Bent body panels straightened on their own. The nose which had been completely crushed snapped back into place and the particles of glass spread all over the bonnet from the windshield started gathering themselves together. Like a colony of insects on the move they formed a stream as they ran towards the opening where they had original come from at which point they spread out forming a layer of glass.
By the time the black car was completely clear of Boulton’s vehicle it looked as good as new and in that instant Boulton knew that there was no way the others were going to survive what was coming unless they did as Gray had asked.
The black car continued to reverse a few more feet and then the headlights came back on. In the glare they produced Boulton saw, standing between the vehicles Gray, just as Hernandez had described, a glowing figure whose body was comprised of many colours.
“I warned there would be consequences. I have been given a second chance to see rightful justice is restored so if you survive the evening tell your friends confess. There is a storm coming and they do not want to get caught in the open.”
“Why can’t you just die?” muttered Boulton but he got no reply and the image of Gray appeared to fade away. Now slipping in and out of consciousness Boulton saw the black car reverse and clear the street just seconds before the emergency services arrived.
Officers investigating the scene were confused as to what Boulton’s car had hit because there was no sign of another vehicle. As paramedics worked to get him free they tried to find out more information but all they could get out of Boulton was the words “It cannot be stopped. God has sent Gray to punish us.”
So worked up was Boulton that by the time he reached the
hospital paramedics were forced to sedate him and then a few hours later they
placed him in an artificially induced coma due to the seriousness of his
The first time Hernandez became aware of what had happened to Boulton was that same morning. Whether by chance or by fate the duel fought between Boulton and Gray had occurred close to his daily work commute. Since the warning from Gray and the discovery that he had been followed to the meeting with the others two night’s previously he had been scared to go out of the apartment. However the more he stayed at home the more his wife asked the same question “When he was going to hand himself in?” Having skipped two days of work he was facing another problem in that he could lose his job and so he had no option but to risk going out.
Driving across town in rush hour was not the most pleasurable task. Whilst ordinarily he had got used to the slow crawl and was not normally bothered by it, on this particular day the traffic seemed even worse than normal. Moving at a slower than normal pace anything out of the ordinary stood out because the view of the car in front was not exactly stimulating. This was how Enrico came to notice the police barriers set up to block access to a road.
Looking through the barrier as he edged along he could see the mangled wreck of a car and knew someone had been at the wrong end of a serious accident. Returning to face forwards he was about to blow his horn at the car in front for not closing a gap up and allowing another person to dive in but something caught his eye that made him look sideways again. In working for the EPD, he like most police officers often developed a sixth sense when it came to observation so he was not sure what had grabbed his attention but knew something was not quite right. Scanning the wreckage his photographic memory kicked in and he realised that the number plate belonged to John Boulton’s car.
Concerned and curious as to what had happened Hernandez found a spare space on the side-walk and pulled over. The hole he had left in the traffic did not remain open for long for like sharks in a feeding frenzy other cars dived at the chance to get a little further up the queue.
As he approached the police cordon Hernandez forgot himself and stepped over the barrier and went to look at the wreck but did not get far for a pair of hands grabbed him and pulled him back.
“I’m afraid sir, this area is out of bounds to civilians,” said a young officer.
“Sorry Officer, I know the driver of this vehicle and wanted to see what had happened,” replied Hernandez.
“Ah so you know the driver? And who might you be?”
“The name’s Enrico Hernandez.”
The officer relayed the name on the radio and not long afterwards got message back referencing that Hernandez and the victim were both ex-police officers.
“So you and the driver were with the forty-ninth precinct?”
“Yes that’s correct, now do you mind telling me what’s happened?” said Enrico getting annoyed but the officer just asked another question.
“In that case would you mind telling me how well do you know the owner of the car?”
“Not very, we kinda drifted apart since leaving the force”.
“And when was the last time you saw each other?”
“Two nights ago,” snapped Hernandez.
“And before then?”
“None of your god damn business!” said Hernandez angrily which caused the young officer to look up and raise an eyebrow.
“Sorry…,” said Hernandez noticing the surprised face, “I’m a bit worried about my friend and you’re giving me fifty questions.”
“My apologises sir but we’re still collecting data on what’s happened since this appears to be a deliberate act as opposed to a normal traffic accident, so we need to build up a picture of Mr Boulton,” explained the officer, “so just a couple more questions.”
“How about I save you some time. No he did not have any enemies I knew about. Yes he had a short temper and could easily be provoked. Yes he frequently drank and no he did not drive afterwards. That car cost him to much to risk losing” said Hernandez.
Having been a police officer he knew what the next set of questions were likely to be when it came to suspicious crime scenes or ones that involved RTA’s and was growing impatient with the young officer so he answered them before they were asked.
“Now will you tell me what’s going on! And what’s happened to my friend!”
“Well I should not really tell you anything but seeing as you were with my police precinct and knew him I can tell you Mr Boulton is alive but in a bad way. And though you say he did not drink and drive we found evidence to the contrary. He’s at the Southern General.”
“So who smashed the car up?” asked Hernandez.
“Well that’s the problem, we just don’t know. We had a homeless guy two blocks away tell us he was being chased by a black car and traffic cameras verified that but we have nothing here to explain what hit him. From the damage it looked like Mr Boulton hit a wall or a truck but there is absolutely no evidence of whatever he hit. Not even a paint scrape. It’s like something just picked his car up and dumped it here. Hopefully when or if he comes round we might get some answers,” explained the officer.
Upon noticing Hernandez’s blank expression and the colour drain from his face the officer stopped speaking.
“Are you alright sir?” he asked.
“Y-Yeah fine. Just taken aback by the news,” replied Hernandez. In reality the mention of the black car now confirmed that Gray was making good his threat and he knew the others and himself were in danger unless they turned themselves in.
“Understandable, I should imagine it’s quite a shock,” said the officer.
“I think I have to get going… there are people I know who were friends with Boulton and need to be informed of this accident,” said Hernandez slowly.
“Very good sir,” said the officer, “but we may need to talk to you again.”
“Yeah sure,” said Hernandez walking away.
Having arrived at work Hernandez could not shake the vision of what he had seen out of his mind. The events leading up to coming across Boulton’s car played in his mind, so much so that he asked his boss to have half a day off. Instead of going home he headed for the nearest bar to get drunk and then made contact with Johnson and James.
Unlike him and Boulton they were still working for EPD so had got to know about Boulton’s fate almost as soon as they arrived for work. They also heard rumours of Boulton’s last words before being sedated relating to Gray. Though almost everyone else thought it was just babble caused by shock, James and Johnson realised their friend had obviously met up with Gray and the disastrous results.
Concluding that Gray or someone posing as Gray was coming for them next they made plans as to what to do. Just like Boulton, they failed to accept the fact that he was exactly who he said he was and there was no trickery involved. Even when Hernandez contacted them and reinforced the fact they refused to believe in what they thought was impossible.
Hernandez by now was totally convinced that they should do as Gray had asked but James, who was almost as stubborn as Boulton instead suggested they all meet at his house where they would work out a way of dealing with the Gray ‘problem’ once and for all. As a last chance to avoid jail time Hernandez reluctantly agreed to listen to what James had in mind.
As dusk fell the hunter returned to the streets of Atlantica and began to stalk his next victim. Following Johnson from the forty-ninth station, Gray remained patient waiting for the most opportune moment to strike. Like a wild animal on the hunt stealth and cunning played a large part in his game for when the time came to attack he wanted to make sure there would be no escape.
In order to relieve the tedious boredom Johnson tended to concentrate more on listening to music from his car music system than actually driving and so took a long time to notice the black car following him. Unlike the others who could be spooked easily or duped into retaliating Johnson was a much cooler customer. Whilst the black car remained behind him Johnson was aware his opponent had a ‘tactical’ advantage. Therefore he believed as he could not do anything at that time about the problem, the best thing he could do was simply ignore it until he got the opportunity to turn the situation to his advantage
After half his journey had passed without event Johnson began to consider that perhaps he was being a little paranoid and that this was not the same black car that was the source of the group’s trouble but instead just similar vehicle with occupants trying to make their way home just like him.
Approaching a junction though he would find out the opposite for as he fumbled around with the air conditioning controls he noticed a faint ghost like form appear in the passenger seat. For a few seconds Johnson thought it was a trick of the light until the ghostly figure became more solid and the outline of Gray could be seen. Gray simply looked at Johnson.
“You did not turn yourself in, so reap the wild wind.”
The ‘ghost’ then vanished and left Johnson in a shocked state and totally distracted. Before he realised what was happening Johnson suddenly found himself in the middle of the junction having run a red light. Panicking he slammed on the brakes and left himself directly in the path of oncoming traffic.
He did not have long to think about the situation for within seconds a pickup truck slammed into the side of the Johnsons car and caused it to cartwheel several times. Somehow Johnson survived the collision. This was no miracle though for just like Boulton, Gray’s intention was not to kill but to ensure his victims suffered as long as possible.
As arranged Hernandez went to James’s apartment in the evening. Normally Johnson was an extremely punctual individual so when he failed to show on time the other two started to realise something had gone wrong.
Hernandez took the fact Johnson was missing as a bad omen and the longer the pair waited the more apprehensive he became. Already bothered by images in his mind of Boulton’s car from that morning as the evening wore on everything that had happened since Gray had first appeared began to overwhelm his mind.
Then the inevitable happened.
He freaked out and told James that he was going to end the game by turning himself in and leave James to do likewise or face the wrath of the ‘phantom’ driver.
James pleaded with Hernandez to reconsider his position on the matter but Hernandez refused to change his mind. Then things took a decisive turn for the worst between the pair. Whilst Hernandez was guilty of perverting the course of justice and being accessory to murder both Boulton and James had actually killed. Therefore James had a lot more to lose if Hernandez turned himself in so they got into a heated argument and things eventually turned physical.
Being a skilled martial artist meant that Enrico could hold his own in a fight and ordinarily there was no way James could defeat him but James was desperate and he gave it everything. Never before had Hernandez dealt with an opponent so wild but after near twenty minutes of objects and fists flying, James lay bloodied on the floor of his trashed apartment. Heading for the door Hernandez made his only mistake, and turned his back on James.
Fumbling for an object James found his police firearm and shot Hernandez as he exited into the communal hallway. Hit in the back just below the rib cage the round punctured his lung and this along with the blood loss made it difficult for him to move. James though, despite a beat down was now physically in a better condition and limped after Hernandez. Following him down two flights of stairs James chased Hernandez into the street.
Being one of the rougher areas of town were violence was commonplace passers-by on the street ignored James when he took aim with his gun. Instead they were collectively happy that they were not the intended target and in order to keep it that way they chose to ignore what was happening rather than interfere and make themselves victims.
Intending to silence Hernandez, James employed a warped logic and concluded that if he was guilty of one murder it would not matter if he killed another and the beauty of where the fight was taking place meant it was almost guaranteed that nobody would come forwards as a witness.
Readying to fire a fatal shot to kill Hernandez he pulled on the trigger but was distracted by a loud engine noise and turned to see a black car in the middle of the road literally. As he stared the headlights came on full, temporary blinding James.
Enraged at the fact the black car seemed to have been waiting for either himself or Hernandez he shot twice at the car and the car responded by driving slowly towards him. The hunter was now the hunted. In the time it takes to blink, rage now gave way to panic.
James was desperate to avoid dealing with the black car and his eyes searched frantically for a way out. This he found in the form of a narrow alleyway on the opposite sidewalk and without bothering to think about his next move he dived for it and avoided getting struck by the black car.
Running up the alleyway he exited into a car park complex at the back of the apartment block. This gave him a few moments to think and plan his next move. Quickly he concluded that though the black car could not follow him down the alleyway it was logical to assume that sooner or later it would drive round to his position. He therefore ran across the parking lot and into another passageway.
Exiting that he appeared on a busy street and then he saw his worst nightmare, the black car coming out of a side road. Once more desperation filled his thoughts and he began looking for a way out of the situation. Instead of a passageway, this time James sighted a large articulated vehicle with a tanker trailer on the other carriageway and ran in front of it waving his gun. The driver immediately slammed on the brakes and James threw the sole occupant out at gunpoint as he got in the cab. With the odds now seemingly in his favour he decided he was through with running.
It was time to fight back.
Now in a large vehicle and facing the oncoming black car James figured he stood a fair chance and just like Boulton he decided to play a game of chicken. The black car though did not back off and the two vehicles collided. As the car struck the cab it was spun around and caught sideways on the front of the truck. Laughing insanely James pushed the Black car into a lamppost crushing its side. Thinking he’d nailed the black car James reversed to see the black car do likewise.
Despite its damage it was still moving. James drove forwards once more to crush it but the black car just managed to get most of the way clear but was caught on the nose by the truck. No longer appearing to repair itself the black car then struggled up the road like a wounded animal. Almost happy at this turn of events James chased after it in the truck but the black car escaped by driving into a multi-storey parking lot. Unable to follow due to the low headroom James contemplated following on foot but instead opted to wait knowing at some time the black car had to come out or be abandoned by its owner.
Then he saw something strange for one of the floors became lit up by flashes of blue light and at the same time the lights in the car park began to flicker on and off for a few moments. Bolts of electricity then started leaping from neighbouring buildings to the car park. Then almost as soon as it started the phenomenon stopped.
Unsure what was going on James held his position and continued to wait.
That was his mistake for a minute later the black car came crashing through a wall four floors up. The noise of the bang caused James to look upwards where he saw the car, no longer smashed up but fully “repaired” dropping towards him. Sheer fright gripped James and despite his best efforts he was unable to get the truck moving fast enough to get clear of the incoming vehicular shaped missile.
The inevitable happened and James felt the impact as the car landed on the trailer and then less than a second later he felt intense heat as the trailer exploded.
Surrounded by a sea of fire James smelled his own burning flesh as he frantically tried to exit the inferno that surrounded the truck cab. His life was perhaps only saved by the fact emergency vehicles were already on their way after the truck driver reported that he had been hijacked and the events that followed.
Though he got to keep his life, the burns James received would mean his life would never be the same again. As with all his other victims Gray had managed once more to ensure his targets suffered greatly.
By morning the clean-up operation was well underway. Two traffic cops arrived with a low loader to move the charred remains of Gray’s car. After loading it up they headed for the impound yard where it would be stored until forensics could take a look at it. However as the two officers chatted to each other en route on various topics they remained unconcerned about the fact that their truck seemed to be struggling due to a drain on its electrical systems. The pair simply thought what was happening was down to the fact it was an old vehicle and needed maintenance and so simply revved the engine to compensate.
The first time either of them noticed anything strange was when they stopped at a junction where there was an overhead power line. Without any warning bolts of electricity suddenly began streaking down from the transformer at the top of the pole and striking the wrecked car on the back of their truck.
The two officers jumped clear before their truck became similarly engulfed. Thinking there was major problem with the power system on the conduit they put a call through to control to advise them of the problem and then set about directing the traffic away from the ‘hazard’. It was only when they managed to get things under control that they noticed the wrecked vehicle change before their very eyes.
By the time the relevant electricity company had shut down that section of the network Gray’s car had returned to being as good as new.
Whilst they had just witnessed the unbelievable the police officers were in for another surprise for the car engine started and the black car reversed itself off the low loader, albeit it made a thud when it hit the ground due to the fact the ramps had not been lowered. It then rapidly accelerated off in the direction to where they had just come from.
Despite the believability of what had just happened, the two officers had to put another call through to control to inform them of the new ‘development’. Sufficed to say it took a while before they could convince anyone that they had not been drinking or on drugs and by this time the black car was long gone.
Whenever anything that defied science was linked to a crime, criminals with Alpha abilities were usually suspected. CLEA were regarded as specialists in apprehending such felons but the EPD like other law enforcement agencies did not like admitting they needed help. CLEA were recognised as a law enforcement agency in European countries so they did not need permission to involve themselves, but when it became apparent they had not learned of the incident the Europa’s police chief decided the EPD should deal with the investigation alone.
As well as departmental pride to consider the chief felt most other EPD police offices would take the attack “personally” because somebody had tried to murder one of their own officers. An APB was therefore sent for the driver of the black car and CLEA was not notified.
Within minutes of the call a number of ground units were sent racing towards the low loader’s location. Whilst this was going on an air unit was also scrambled. There was no sign of the black car in the location of the transport unit but by chance a patrol car further away came across it. The officer reported in and gave chase, joined by two other patrol cars. No matter how hard they tried the driver seemed very skilled at avoiding them. The air unit kept calling in directions and on several occasions stingers were put in the path of the black car but it simply drove over them and the tyres seem immune to their effect.
Other patrols were called to the area and by swarming the area with police cars the EPD were successful in herding the black car to a waiting road block. However the black car sliced straight through the waiting cars and it carried on going whilst the damage to the front end ‘repaired itself’. With the pursuing vehicles blocked by the resulting wreckage the aerial support continued to follow but eventually had to abandon the pursuit when it had to refuel. By evening that day the APB was cancelled when patrols failed to find any sightings of the mysterious black car.
Later on officers investigating James’s ‘accident’ and high speed pursuit also found coincidences with what happened to Johnson and Boulton. At every crime scene the same black vehicle had been seen and in two incidents the vehicle had appeared to fix itself. With no way to explain what exactly had happened officers concluded the ‘black car incidents’ were the work of a person with Alpha abilities and the case was left open. It was only then that CLEA were officially notified.
In the weeks and months that followed the EPD continued to chase the car whenever it appeared but had no success in capturing it or the driver. CLEA did try and help but the sightings were so sporadic and random they had no chance of getting assets in place. They were still interested in the case though since witnesses kept reporting the driver as being a ghostly Simon Gray, one of their own and the car was similar to the one he had died in.
A New Investigation. A New Hero?
Over time the EPD started to lose interest and as far as they were concerned the case went cold. Then rumours began to spread that the black car had showed up numerous times at crime scenes. These rumours came from stories given by street criminals in police interviews who stated on the record that a mysterious driver had threatened them and made good his promise and they had turned themselves in to escape its wrath.
In all incidents the criminals referred to the driver using terms such as ‘ghost’ and ‘inhuman’. Fear of the avenging entity led to the criminal fraternity referring to the black car or more specifically the driver as a ‘Spectre’ and the name stuck.
Despite the evidence, and the consistency of the stories involving the ghost driver acting against criminals the types of people making the statements were usually drunk or on drugs or even both so the statements were largely ignored despite the interest the EPD once showed towards the black car and its driver.
That however was only the official view of the EPD for secretly the officers on the streets started to admire the Spectre for his vigilante acts actually helped cut down on crime. Though originally hated by officers on the streets for attempting to kill one of their own the change of heart came about after the black car showed up during a street shoot out.
At the time two police officers were pinned down by a gang of armed criminals. Waiting for back up things looked bleak until the phantom car appeared. Driving between them and the armed fugitives the driver of the car used his vehicle as a barricade to block the incoming fire. The officers watched as the driver inexplicably vanished from behind the wheel only to reappear again out of thin air in the middle of the road like an apparition.
However unlike a ghost the officers reported seeing the entity walk calmly over to the gang and take on a more ‘solid’ form which it used to attack the members of the gang. Then as soon as the sirens were heard indicating the imminent arrival of backup the entity vanished once more and reappeared in the driver’s seat and with a loud roar of the engine raced off into the darkness. Afterward the two officers went of record stating that if Spectre had not intervened they would have killed although the statements were officially buried. With so many people claiming Spectre resembled Simon Gray the general consensus of law enforcement agencies was that the driver of the black car was an Alpha using Gray’s identity because Alpha’s could be explained but ghosts could not. By Gray’s leaning on the suspects, Boulton, James and Johnson were found guilty of murder, corruption and perverting the course of justice. Though neither of the three came forward with information even after recovering from their injuries, Hernandez turned himself in and gave the courts all the proof they needed. By giving evidence regarding the death of Adams and Gray that implicated Johnson, James and Boulton he received a lesser sentence to the others.
Hernandez confession alone saw MacClare’s conviction in doubt even before the case went to trial. Up until the time of her retrial she became aware of Gray’s exploits because whilst in jail prisoners frequently received word from the streets. Many retained criminal connections so MacClare got to hear about the mysterious black car and stories it had stalked those that had set her up and had later gone on to targeting criminals at random. She, like many others, did not believe the stories of a ghost but so chose to believe the media speculation that the Spectre was an Alpha human.
MacClare was a sceptic so did not believe in ghosts but she was open to the idea that Gray could be an elaborate illusion used by someone else. She figured by using a dead man’s identity it might be a clever ploy to instil fear into that person’s target. There was already one known Alpha Hero known as “Merlin” that could create illusions so it was no stretch of her imagination to think there could be another such person on the streets of Europa. The car repair trick though was a little harder to figure out but if the man was an Alpha then anything could be possible in her mind.
Grateful of the fact that whomever it was eventually led to Hernandez coming clean, on the day of her release she allowed her lawyer to credit the black car driver by issuing the statement that justice had only been served through the persistence of the ‘Spectre’. MacClare would later go on to clear her name and receive a massive amount of money in damages awarded for her wrongful conviction and imprisonment. However her old life was now nothing but a distant memory.
Though innocent, many believed there was no smoke without fire. Her old friends subsequently deserted her and she could not find a job as many people did not want someone of her ‘celebrity’ status working for them. In this respect the money from the damages came in handy to her and she had enough to get by comfortably. However, after surviving nearly two years of hell she was both angry and upset her “suffering” was still not over.
As she had gained pretty good detective skills during her time with EPD she considered becoming a private investigator but that venture ended almost as quickly as it began because when each of her prospective clients learned who she was they all walked away. Stuck at home with nothing to do and nobody to talk to started an inevitable downward spiral for Jenny and it was not too long before she found herself suffering from depression and starting to drink heavily.
With seemingly no way out of the hole she was in, Jenny found the only work where nobody cared about her past, that of a bounty hunter. Bail bond agents had largely been unique to America but with the rise in crime in Europa it had been trialled limited to the mega city only and yielded good results. The work of bounty hunters though was not for the faint hearted and though the bail bondsman that employed Jenny was pleased with her results he was worried about her mental state as she seemed to have a death wish by taking on only the most dangerous criminals.
Little did he know there was some element of truth in his supposition for life no longer had any meaning to Jenny so she figured if someone got to her before she got to them then it was a way out of her miserable existence. Unlike suicide which was seemed to her to be a waste, at least this way she figured she could go down fighting. In this respect she nearly got her wish when she came to get the bounty on Tyrone Jackson but this incident became the turning point in her life for it would be the first time she came face to face with the Spectre.
Tyrone had jumped bail and MacClare had decided to bring him in. Suspected of being a member of a violent street gang her employer was surprised that even she would risk going alone after him. Reckless as usual, one night she got a lead that took her right to the gang’s headquarters, a dilapidated apartment block. From a vantage point across the street she waited for Tyrone to make an appearance.
She was surprised when he arrived without any ‘bodyguards’ but as she made her move to grab him the rest of the gang appeared from the apartment block. Armed with a variety of guns they took exception at the female that had the audacity to try and kidnap their leader. Luckily for Jenny they had been ‘partying hard’ so none of them could aim properly. This allowed her to get back to the relative safety of her car but the shooting continued. Even though they were poor shots the car presented a bigger target so they simply fired wildly in its general direction.
After diving into her car, she failed to start the engine first time and with the law of averages working against her it was inevitable that soon rather later she would get hurt. One round came through the windshield and hit her in the right shoulder. As she reeled in pain another round came through the door and hit her in the left thigh. Hissing sounds then were heard coming from the front of the vehicle and she realised that her ride was going nowhere.
Crawling across the seats and out of the passenger door she made it to the back of her car where she kept low down, using the vehicle as a shield. With no means of escape Jenny acted out of desperation and returned fire a couple of times. However she knew that the situation was hopeless and having been pinned down Jenny knew that would not be long for the gang to switch tactics and come at her from all angles rather than remain on the other side of the street.
It was only now as she was staring death in the face that she realised that maybe she did not want to die after all. Unfortunately the gang had other ideas. As surrender was not an option Jenny decided her only chance was to try and hold out for as long as possible and hope someone reported what was going on to the police. This she thought was a very slim chance of survival for in rough districts people were scared of what might happen if they reported incidents to the police.
Whilst contemplating her next move after firing off another couple of shots at random Jenny became aware of movement further up the road. She had been keeping her eyes peeled for any gang members that might try to sneak up on her so any movement she noticed only it was not a person she saw but a vehicle.
It was a black car and it had entered the street some distance from the back of her car and on her side of the road. At first, she thought the driver might see what was happening so she tried shouting to the driver to highlight her predicament and hopefully get him or her to contact the police.
The driver did not acknowledge at first and then did something what Jenny considered stupid for the car turned and began to move towards her. Normally when gun shots were being fired people moved away from the trouble not towards it. Whilst she appreciated the rescue attempt the last thing she wanted on her conscience was an innocent getting shot on her behalf. Frantically she tried to wave the black car off but it still kept on coming.
The closer it came the more Jenny got a weird feeling she had seen it before and on recent occasions. However there was no time to think about that because for better or worse the appearance of the stranger had distracted the gang and they had stopped shooting at her. Instead they began shooting at the black car instead.
Despite the pain she was planning on jumping up and seeing if she could bring down a couple of the shooters but then she noticed something strange when the incoming fire hit the black car multiple times. Though her vantage point was low down she could still see the flashes as the rounds hit home but they did not seem to cause any damage. At first she thought the rounds were being deflected off the vehicle until one hit the windscreen and punched a hole through it and unbelievably the shattered glass reformed and the windscreen repaired itself.
It did not take her long to figure out this was the vehicle the press had dubbed belonging to ‘Spectre’. As she stared from her low vantage point Jenny watched a ghost like figure materialise in a standing position in front of the car.
The figure faced the direction of the gang members and more rounds were fired and they passed straight through it and carried on into the car. This time the damage remained, which made Jenny think that the figure and the car were somehow linked together. Without saying a word the figure then held up its left hand and pointed a finger in the direction of the shooters and then proceeded to waggle it’s hand in a similar manner to how a parent might admonish a naughty child.
“You know of me and what I can do so I do not advise you to make me an enemy,” warned the entity.
Amazingly the firing stopped and there were sounds of people running about. The ghostly figure then vanished and the passenger door then flew open whilst at the same time the male voice she had heard moments earlier told her to “get in.”
Jenny did not need asking twice but due to her injuries could only manage to crawl in. As soon as she pulled herself up onto the passenger seat the door dropped down and closed by itself.
“Sorry about the blood,” she said but when she looked across to the driver there was no one there.
“What the?” said Jenny startled at which point a ghostly figure appeared in the driving seat. Whilst it resembled a human male in origin only the hands and face appeared to be flesh coloured whilst the rest of its body was a swirl of bright colours. Out of curiosity Jenny tried to prod the entity, despite her obvious pain. She found it to be as solid as it appeared which meant that this was no optical illusion for her hand should have passed straight through. Staring at the entity she could not help but think that it’s face resembled that of Simon Gray or rather what she could recall he looked like for the night she was set up she only saw him for about two minutes. Since she had already made up her mind that Gray was dead she knew that could not be true. Natural curiosity though did get the better of her and she wanted to know some details of whom had saved her and perhaps why he was disguised as a dead man.
Her first question though relevant was rather obvious.
“Are you an Alpha?”
“Then what are you?”
“Different Jenny MacClare,” replied the entity.
“How do you know my name?” she asked, surprised.
“Answers later, you need medical attention.”
As the entity spoke the car suddenly launched forwards to the accompanying sound of wheels spinning on the road surface. Jenny at the same time was thrust back in her seat. Though her wounds were causing her a considerable amount of pain she still wanted some answers. However it took her about a minute before she plucked up the courage to speak.
“Before you mentioned my name and referred to me like you know me but I do not know you.”
“You should be thinking more about putting pressure on that wound instead of talking.”
“But I need to know who you are.”
“Very well then, you say you do not know me. Are you sure about that or is you mind trying to find a rational explanation for the impossible?”
Jenny though about that and then asked a question she always dreaded she might have to ask for it would shatter the way she looked at the world.
“S-Simon Gray…can’t be you’re dead.”
“People keep telling me that!”
That was the last thing she heard before passing out.
With Jenny taking a turn for the worse Gray pushed on as hard as he could to the extent that anyone that got in his path was forcefully moved aside until. Between the location where he had rescued her and the hospital he left a trail of wrecked vehicles.
Once at the hospital he pulled up at the accident and emergency entrance. Assuming his ‘solid’ form he got out of the car ‘normally’ rather than the usual dematerialising method and shouted at a passing nurse.
“I need help, this woman’s been shot.”
He then ran round and picked Jenny up in his arms. Though he looked a strange sight when it was obvious a life was hanging in the balance Gray could be sure that the nurse would be much more bothered about a patient than him. One look at the blood spatter over Jenny’s clothing was enough to cause a reaction and the nurse ran into the building and appeared within seconds with a group of medics and a gurney. Gray then gently laid Jenny down and the medics whisked her inside without noticing the ‘man’ that had brought her in did not follow.
Using the distraction the medics provided as they concentrated on helping their patient Gray decided it was perhaps time to make himself scarce. Since he had caused a large amount of collateral damage he knew the EPD might be coming for him and he really did not want to deal with them at that time. Before any of the medics realised they had been visited by Spectre and reported the incident his prompt actions meant he was no longer around.
As per standard practise the hospital reported the admission of a shooting victim and over the next few days MacClare was interviewed several times by police officers. Having learned ‘Spectre’ had brought her in they were particularly interested in what she knew. To try and get her to talk the detective even reminded her that it was Spectre that had forced Hernandez to turn himself in leading to her freedom.
However, that information had the opposite effect on Jenny for she now believed Gray was somehow back from the dead and she owed him much. She realised the detectives were putting pressure on her but was so angry how the EPD had failed her on so many levels and ruined her life she made a conscious decision not to assist in any way that might lead them to Gray. She therefore answered all their question but in such an ambiguous way they learned nothing.
Two weeks later Jenny discharged herself and was surprised when she arrived outside her apartment block to find that Gray was waiting. As most people where she lived drove vehicles that were cheap the black sports car was extremely conspicuous. She approached the vehicle and the door opened.
“That’s twice you’ve said that to me. You really need to work on your manners but seeing as you saved my life I’ll let you off,” said Jenny leaning into the car.
Spectre just frowned back at her so she got in.
“Hey I was just joking!”
“No time for pleasantries. Someone has reported my presence here and police units are on their way and I should like to avoid them.”
“Alright then,” said MacClare, “but can you at least tell me what all this is about.”
“All in good time.”
Before she had the chance to close the door it closed on its own and then Gray pulled away from the curb. He just managed to turn off the road when two patrol cars arrived outside MacClare’s apartment only to find their target gone.
As the drove along MacClare’s impatience surfaced.
“So can you give me a clue why you want me? I figure it’s because I owe you for saving my life and which if they tell me is true would include getting me out of jail. I mean it was you that got Hernandez to talk.”
Spectre sighed and looked at her.
“Yes I was behind Hernandez but I am not out to collect on a debt. I did what I had to in the interest of justice.”
“Well thanks anyway…but then that brings me back to my original question. What do you want me for?”
“I will tell you as soon as we can speak privately!” said Spectre.
Jenny could tell he was getting irritated by her attempts to seek answers so she decided to keep quiet.
Eventually after a few miles of travel he pulled off the road and into an old abandoned building. He then made several turns until the car could not be seen from the road and then finally he was able to talk without interference.
“You asked me why I wanted you,” he began, “well the simple answer is I need your help.”
“My help? What’s so special about me?”
“Besides the fact we share an ‘interesting’ past, you have skills I can use!”
“Really? I mean I can’t be all that good seeing as you had to rescue me the other week.”
“That is true. However I have been observing you for some time now and though you are undoubtedly reckless I see potential.”
“You’ve been following me?”
“Yes,” replied Spectre, “The car on the street you walked past when you were on the John’s bounty. The car in the alley you side stepped past when you were hunting McGowan, do I need to go on.”
It was now that MacClare realised why on the night he had rescued her why the vehicle had seemed so familiar for everywhere she had been it had been present.
“Alright you got my attention.”
“Though you are aware I have some unusual skills the human form you see has a limited range from this car. In fact the real me is this car so I need you to go to the places I can’t.”
“And do what exactly.”
“Help me fight injustice of course.”
“Well it’s a noble cause but I have my own life.”
“You mean you had a life. As I said I have been observing you for some time and it seems to me you are trying to find ways of ending your life.”
“That’s not fair!”
“No it’s not but it’s true… We both were victims of injustice, the same injustice in facet, and we both have the means to do something to prevent others being victims of similar fates. Wouldn’t your life have more meaning doing that?”
Jenny was upset over hearing Spectre tell her basically what she already knew. Her life, if she could call it that currently amounted to nothing. She had thought after getting out of prison that things would improve but the reverse seemed to happen instead. In effect the general public’s misguided opinions of her kept her in another prison. Though she wanted to dismiss Gray’s idea she could not help but think that he was handing her the opportunity to do something that mattered. Though it would not be a return to her old life as that was dead and buried it was a chance for a new start.
“Alright I might consider taking you up on your suggestion,” she said finally, “but…”
“But?” interrupted Spectre.
“But I’m and not going to dive headlong into something like this without knowing what I’m getting into.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well for a start what exactly are you Simon? The press considers you a ghost yet you can do things that ghost’s aren’t supposed to be able to do not that I believe in such things. I knew you were once an Alpha yet all Alphas have a human body and you told me before you are this car.”
“As I said when we first met, I am different.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“In that case you could think of me as a new kind of life that merges the human psyche and machinery. I suppose I could describe myself as a vehicular based life form.”
“A what?” asked Jenny rhetorically as she tried to get her head around the phrase.
“Perhaps it’s easier if I just tell you what happened to me starting from the night Boulton and his friends murdered me and then maybe you’ll understand.”
‘Spectre’s story began on the night Simon Gray met his demise. This was not long after the investigation team had found the encrypted hard drives and informed CLEA of this.
This was when Simon was contacted from the European CLEA HQ. As a special agent with Alpha capabilities which enabled him to merge with technology they reckoned he could bypass the encryption so he was tasked to collect the drives and if the data looked good he was to take them direct to a specialist lab where they could process the drives.
In order to bring charges against the Claremont Cartel they could not rely on Simon’s word, alone so had to bypass the security the “old fashioned” way so a jury could believe the evidence. However CLEA did not want to waste time cracking the security on the drives if there was nothing of value, hence they wanted Gray to take a look at it first.
The place he had arranged to meet with Adams was at an industrial complex close to the South River. Adams chose the meeting place as before joining the EPD she had once worked for one of the firms that had premises there. She could have chosen a social place to meet such as a bar or a club but felt that it was better if the exchange took place somewhere more ‘private’.
As Gray continued his recount of events he explained that he was normally quite patient but had become concerned when Adams appeared to be late and then even more surprised when she turned up instead. MacClare pretty much knew all this but of course neither of them were aware at the time was that Boulton and the others had established themselves on the rooftops and on the nearby buildings.
Once the exchange took place and MacClare had walked away, Gray was approached by an armed man in a balaclava who demanded that he hand over the package. He later presumed that to be Boulton but since MacClare had explained Adam’s though she had been followed, Gray was not really surprised and was prepared so fired his side arm injuring the man in black. That though proved to be his downfall for he was hit several times by shooters on the rooftops with the incoming fire coming from three different directions.
MacClare said she remembered the sound of gun fire and came running but that was the last she remembered before getting hit on the head.
Outgunned and outnumbered Gray dived for cover and his car sufficed for that job but was hit twice more. Blood began to flow from the wounds and he began to feel faint. Despite this and the pain Gray knew he had to escape and managed to start the car engine. More shots were fired and his car was riddled with the holes made by them and was struck in the chest and arm.
With his life ebbing away he made one last desperate attempt to stay alive by merging his mind to his own car to give himself a fighting chance. As an Alpha able to link his body and mind with technology he thought he would be able to control the vehicle despite never actually trying such a feat. Whilst his body was weak from the wounds Gray figured so long as he could keep his eyes open he could ‘drive’ the car and himself to safety. However as he began to merge his mind with the car everything went black and Gray found his consciousness in black silent ‘prison’.
Gray could only speculate what might have happened next and reckoned his car must have gone stopped or crashed without him in control He then reckoned that Boulton and the others staged the scene by placing Adams body at the location as well as MacClare’s unconscious body close by with one of the group placing Jenny’s driving license in the foot well before pushing the car into the water with him inside. Being police officers they were all aware how to fake a crime scene to look genuine which was why the circumstantial evidence had been so compelling.
One thing Gray did not learn for quite some time was that the strong current of the river dislodged his body and so when the car was later raised it was assumed correctly by investigating officers that Gray’s remains had drifted down river. Despite an extensive search it was never found but the amount of blood and planted evidence was enough to charge MacClare with his murder.
Whilst the investigations were taking place in the murders of Gray and Adams the car was held in the forensics lab to try and obtain more clues to what had actually happened because MacClare was not admitting to any of the charges against her. All the while this was taking place, Gray was still stuck in his dark prison or rather his mind was. Unaware that his human body was dead he thought he had gone too far with his merger with the vehicle and tried to find a way of returning to the ‘real’ world.
In this ‘limbo’ state time passed fairly quickly for him and whilst he continued with his futile attempts, his murder case came to trial and Jenny MacClare was convicted. Subsequently there was no need keep his vehicle in the lab and so it was transferred to an impound yard for storage.
By now Gray was completely aware that something was wrong although the passage of many months had seemed like mere hours to him. Thinking his worst nightmare had come true, he had figured out his mind was permanently stuck in an object. If he had known his human body was dead he would have lost his sanity for the only thing that kept him going was the hope someone had worked out what he had done and found a solution. Of course he did not know that he was hoping for the impossible, for even if someone had in fact worked out that Gray’s mind was trapped in his car they could not extract it because there was without a human body there was nowhere for it to go.
In total, eighteen months passed since the fateful night and then fate intervened when a storm moved into the city from the wastelands. Like most impound yards most of the storage area was out in the open akin to a giant car park and so consequently without cover all the vehicles were exposed to the elements. Being situated near the city limits where tall building were uncommon meant the mass of metal was the biggest ‘ground’ source for lightning as the storm passed overhead.
Whether it was fate of simply good luck the impound yard took a ground strike and as the electricity writhed and danced around the vehicles his car received some of the energy. When this happened Gray for the first time in nearly two years became aware something was happening. Like people who recounted dying and being pulled towards the light he described that was how he felt. In his thoughts though he assumed someone was trying to assist him in returning to his own body.
Using the same instincts he had employed it the past when separating from an inorganic object, Gray put in the biggest effort possible because he thought it was his only chance. However instead of waking in a human body, Gray found himself in the driver’s seat of the car with a body similar to his own but comprised entirely of light and energy.
After months of near perpetual darkness and silence Gray could suddenly see and hear again although it took him only a few seconds to realise that he was no longer human. For a few moments he considered he had gone over to ‘the other side’ but when the electricity flowing around the car began to disperse his new body began to fade and he felt his mind being pulled back to the darkness.
Desperate to be anything but where he was heading he tried to merge with another object instead. Forgetting he was not human and in his mind possibly dead he should have realised he no longer had his old Alpha abilities. Having used internal wires in objects to transfer his mind on other occasions Gray noticed the overhead power lines and ‘aimed’ for them. In the past he’d always had to be in physical contact with an object so trying to jump to another object was doomed to fail but what he was doing felt like it was being driven by instinct.
His attempt to have his mind escape into the power grid failed but he did create another kind of link for power started to flow from the power lines to the car and his fading body suddenly began to glow brightly again. Pretty quickly he worked out that if he could maintain what he was doing he could stay in the real world albeit as a strange ghost like entity.
For the next few hours he played what he considered to be a deadly game of trial and error knowing that if the link to the power failed he would be back in the void. The experiments though gave him the means to understand to learn what was happening. Using the technique he employed on the power lines he found he could draw electrical power from other sources, the only alternative to hand being the batteries of the other vehicles in the yard.
He also learned that he could alter the way the power was used so if he reduced it his body faded to next to nothing. This allowed him to avoid the dark prison and reduce the power he needed to sustain his form. Having learned how to ‘keep’ his consciousness in the real world the next experiments he tried involved seeing if he could interact with other things. For the first time in eighteen months he decided to leave his car.
Going for the door he thought about opening it but the door opened on its own. This piqued his curiosity so he thought about closing the door and the door closed on it own. Even more intrigued as to whether he had control of the car he leant forwards to start the engine and though he could not physically touch the start button it depressed as it he had touched it and the engine turned over a few times but failed to start. Next he tried turning the steering wheel and again whilst he could not physically touch it when he moved his hands the steering wheel followed his movements.
It was only a matter of time before he hit upon the hypothesis that his new body was acting like an interface to the vehicle allowing him to operate it like a real person despite not having a corporeal form. However by then it was morning and until he was sure what exactly was going on he decided it was best to lay low. Fading his body to nearly nothing he settled down to pass the daylight hours until the impound yard fell quiet and he was free to experiment again ‘in private’.
On the next night Gray decided to test the limitations of his new body in regards to movement outside the car. Throughout the day he had decided that his new body could act independently and he could simply channel power and go anywhere albeit without being able to touch anything. This certainly seemed to be true when he managed to exit the car without opening the door but once he reached a distance of around a hundred feet from his car Gray realised that his body was rapidly vanishing. Stepping backward cured the problem but it soon became apparent that his new body was anchored to the vehicle.
This led to the unfortunate conclusion that dashed his hopes of ever having some semblance of an ordinary life for it meant the humanoid body he had ‘acquired’ was like an avatar, a projection of that fate had given him the means to control the vehicle.
Accepting this was difficult but necessary and so he pushed on. For him to thoroughly learn everything about his new ‘life’ meant he had to accept what he was. Once that was done we then took several weeks of experimentation and it was during those weeks that Gray made his most important breakthrough by learning that whilst electrical energy seemed to keep him active he was not using electricity directly but somehow converting it to an entirely new source of energy.
He had no idea what this new energy was but was able to learn how to harness it and found that it could it could be stored in the car’s metal structure. In order to try and explain this when telling Jenny his story he coined the term ‘mechenergy’.
Having found a way to not be connected to powerlines he then took the biggest risk of all and allowed his new “body” to fade to nothing. Theorising it was a lack of power that held him in his “prison” before he hoped that with stored energy he could conserve energy by not maintaining a human form. The experiment worked and he found he could return from the ‘void’ to the real world at will.
Now understanding how he could ‘exist’ in different states Gray tried to properly understand the mechenergy and in exploring what it was and how it kept him “alive” he made his last significant discovery when he learned that the energy could be used directly to repair the vehicle.
Though he had no idea why or how he chanced upon the phenomena he put it down to the fact that as the human body could repair cell damage, as his psyche was now part of the car he had retained the means to fix what essentially his physical form was. Finally he had the means to ‘survive in the real world.
Repairing all the damage took time and meant he had to keep draining vast amounts of electricity from the overhead lines to build up his reserves of mechenergy. He got plenty of privacy whilst doing this as his regular appearances as a ghostly human were eventually spotted by security guards at the impound yard.
Spooked by what they had seen in the vicinity of Gray’s car they refused to go into that area of the yard at night. Their reaction did give Gray some interesting insight into how others perceived him. However before he decided on venturing back into the world outside the impound yard Gray knew he had to find a reason for bothering to go outside. Knowing he could not enjoy the typically human things in life meant he had to find an entirely new purpose for ‘living’. He found that purpose from quite an unusual source, the in car entertainment system.
Whilst drawing power to repair the car and doing nothing in the daylight hours Gray had very little to do and so the only way to alleviate the boredom was by listening to the entertainment system. This was one of the few parts of the vehicle that had remained working so he had been able to use it almost as soon as he had learned he could interact with the car.
Over time he found a few shows the interested him and via the news programs learned a good deal of what he had missed in his eighteen month hiatus. The new stories frequently mentioned the exploits of costume adventurers and this he saw as the only use for his “unique” form for he had been fighting crime when serving as an agent for CLEA. Now he had found a purpose for being, the plan then was unexpectedly put on hold when one night he heard a special crime feature looking into past events.
It was regular show and one he had listened to on more than one occasion but that week’s show became of particular interest for it concerned his own death and that of Kate Adams and the person imprisoned for it. Entitled the ‘Enemy Within’ the show detailed cases of what happened when police officers turned to the wrong side of the law.
Gray was furious when he heard what was being said as he knew MacClare had not been behind his murder. He knew someone else was guilty and up until that moment in time he had assumed that justice had prevailed but evidently it had not.
He was so angry at what he was hearing he went to hit the dashboard. As he was intangible his gesture would ordinarily be futile however the aggression inside him caused a surge of mechenergy to flow into his avatar so when his hand hit the hard surface it had become solid and bounced off. This surprised him so he tried again and discovered he could, with concentration, give physical form to his avatar albeit in doing so consumed a great deal of mechenergy.
Though normally this ‘ability’ would have given him some excitement Gray was more consumed about MacClare’s fate. Rather than experiment with his solid form as he had done whenever he made any new discovery Gray decided that since he had already chosen to become a vigilante then clearing her name was going to be the origin point of his new life. That night was when he made up his mind to finally return to land outside of the impound yard.
Crashing through the fences certainly did not go unnoticed but such as his fury that he did not particularly care if he was noticed or not. Several hours of driving around the streets then made him realise he had no idea how he was going to find those responsible for MacClare’s injustice. Also another problem he had not considered was he needed fuel and his ghostly form did not exactly carry money. That left him with only one choice, his solid avatar was going to have to steal the fuel which meant he was going to consume vast amounts of tech energy.
For several nights he drove around aimlessly looking for clues and collecting fuel and then during the day he “slept” whilst parked next to underground power cables to replenish the mechenergy. Two months later he realised how fruitless his activities were in finding the suspects he was after so he decided on a new approach and become a vigilante and use his unique form to put pressure on criminals and get them to reveal what they knew of Adam’s shooting and his own murder.
The first time he tested his form in public he happened across a bunch of street thugs he noticed mugging a woman. Using his ghost like form he wanted to see their reaction, and they responded by shooting at him. As the rounds entered the car it was now that he discovered that was whenever he used his avatar outside the vehicle he could not repair damage to the car at the same time. Returning to his vehicle he fixed the damage but the mechenergy needed meant his avatar faded to nothing temporarily. The thugs ran off when they realised what they had shot was not human and Gray at the same time learned more of his limitations.
Whilst the test had been successful he felt he now needed more experience with ordinary people, in case he had any other ‘problems’ with his new form that he had not yet discovered. Over the course of the next week he therefore began to harass petty criminals in order to become adept at using his avatar in dealing with various situations.
It was during this period he learned that he could jump his avatar from inside the vehicle to anywhere outside the vehicle providing it remained within a hundred feet. He did this by fading out his avatar like when he was saving mechenergy and then as he felt his mind entering the void he would move to a new location whilst increasing the flow of mechenergy.
Now ready for the real work, Gray began hunting people of note in the criminal underworld and force information out of them. However nobody knew of who was responsible for the double homicide. One curious thing he did learn was that even those with a grudge against the Claremont Cartel did not think they were behind the murders.
That was not only disappointing but also confusing because it meant there were other players involved so he went back to the beginning of his private investigation. He collected all the facts together and then realised something he had over looked. MacClare had been sent in Adam’s place because she thought she was being followed on that fateful night. As well as CLEA and the Claremont Cartel the only other people who knew of the drives were the officers of the EPD. However he could not figure out why if some officers were corrupt why they wanted the drives unless it was simply a way of getting money from the Cartel.
Now with the first real lead there was still not a lot he could do since he could not permanently follow every single officer of the forty ninth precinct and he certainly could not put pressure on the wrong suspects without tipping of the guilty parties. Again his investigation had reached a dead end until one night when he needed a top up on mechenergy and decided to use an overhead powerline. As he went through the “usual” process he realised that by mistake he had hooked himself to a telecommunications cable. As well as power he noticed he could actually tap into the data lines directly like he used to as Technomerge and as an added bonus he could listen into communications.
Having discovered this last skill for the next few nights he parked close to the forty-ninth station as he searched for a way into the data line and once he found that he started searching computer records. Not much information was found until he examined the personnel records and learned two of the officers, James and Johnson had a history of poor discipline compared to all the other officers. Gray smelt a rat or would have done if he still had working olfactory senses.
Though he regarded them as prime candidates for being dirty he distinctly remembered there were four people present on the night he had died so he “looked” outside of police record an into the pair’s social media accounts.
Gray then finally had his breakthrough for around the time of the double murder the pair were posting pictures of them socialising with two other officers of the forty-ninth. Enrico Hernandez was one of them and he had quit his career coincidentally after MacClare’s trial. Bypassing his police personnel records were easy for Gray but disappointingly he had seemed to be a model officer. The other member of the group was John Boulton and when Gray looked into his old personnel file he discovered that Boulton had a worse disciplinary record than James or Johnson.
Convince he was right Gray theorised that an officer like Hernandez might have got in with a “bad crowd” and been pressured into helping the others with the double murder he also believed the officer might have quit due to guilt and therefore if he was going to bring justice to MacClare it was Hernandez that he was going to get leverage on.
Of course Gray knew there was a chance he could have got it all wrong but the night he found Hernandez and challenged him the truth was revealed for he not only recognised Gray but also asked what would happen to him and the others if he did not turn himself in. A person innocent of being involved would never have asked that question thus confirming Gray’s hypothesis.
The rest of the story MacClare pretty much knew.
After finishing his recount that brought them to the present, Jenny now knew everything about Gray or rather Spectre as he had decided to adopt the name his ‘victims’ had chosen for him.
“So now you know everything , will you help me go after those that think justice is merely a word?” he asked finally.
MacClare was thinking hard because she had arrived at another cross roads in her life which meant she could either join Spectre on his crusade or continue with her work as a bounty hunter. Thinking about it in those simple terms she knew there was only one choice she could make.
“Alright I’ll do it…on one condition.”
“It’s been a while since I have trusted anyone and though you’ve done a lot for me, I still do not know you yet. I mean properly know you. For this to work I have to be confident you have my back, so if any time I feel otherwise I can simply walk away. No questions asked.”
“I will always have your back. However I accept that trust does not come overnight so I accept your terms.”
“In that case we have a deal.”
Jenny held out her hand and it passed right through Spectre’s.
“Sorry, bit low on mechenergy to maintain a solid form.”
“Hmm,” said Jenny.
Having established the fact they were going to be working together, Spectre decided there was not much point in them remaining at their current location. He therefore decided to take Jenny back to her apartment. As they exited the industrial complex she had one last question for him.
“By the way, if you can only use mechenergy to maintain your avatar and repair damage, then that means this vehicle still needs fuel. Therefore I can’t imagine you pulling into a garage and buying fuel so how have you kept running all this time?”
“What do you mean ah?”
“I have actually been ‘borrowing’ fuel.”
“How did you manage that?”
“I had to steal it. My avatar has got quite adept at siphoning other people’s fuel tanks. A small price to pay for keeping the streets clear of criminals.”
Jenny looked shocked.
“Well I can’t exactly send my avatar into a petrol station and pay with money I don’t have.”
“I’m sorry I asked. I mean you talk about injustice and yet you’re pinching fuel!”
“That’s one of the reasons I’m glad you agreed to help because I can put a stop to that petty crime. After all I now have you to go into the kiosk and pay for fuel!”