The storm raged into Jade's Kitchen with a vengeance, and the streets were quickly clearing of respectable people as the pattering droplets and whispering winds of the late afternoon gave way to icy torrents of rain and howling gales of the early evening. The light gray of the charcoal stained storm clouds evolved into a dark soup of ink drenched cotton that settled angrily over the night skies of Kai City. The shadows yawned and stretched and spread themselves out, covering the sinners and saints, the wicked and the just, the kings and the paupers with the same blanket.
He stands alone, the wind flows around him; the rain kisses his skin hungrily - like a lover. He's ready, waiting, eager to begin, but he takes the time to absorb his surroundings. Waiting for the right moment to begin the ballet once more.
For some, the workday has ended. The trek home from the job winds up in the warmth of home and hearth, the comfort of friends and family, the tenderness of a lover's embraces, or quiet solitude with a good book, the radio or television. For many of Kai City’s citizens, the city that never sleeps slows down just enough for everyone to catch their breath and relax before the dawn returns and the cycle begins anew.
Lightning flashes from above, he tastes it as it cleaves the skies - a split second tear across the gray-black expanse. He smiles, the spotlight has been lit, and the stage has been set.
He merely waits for his cue...
Elena Dark was about to lock up her father's cantina, grateful that this would be the last day she'd have to cover for him. Elena's mother and father were returning from their vacation to Sky City, a gift from Elena and her brothers, Trent and Virgil, for their thirtieth wedding anniversary, and she was closing early so she could meet her parents at the docking bay. Elena was a slender woman, twenty-six years young, and beautiful for someone who didn't put too much stock in her looks. Her mother was of Jamaican descent, which is where she got her exotic features, big hazel eyes and dancer's build; from her father, Elena inherited a slight southern drawl, caramel colored skin, and quiet disposition. Even beyond the hard streets of the Kitchen, Elena turned many heads without trying or even noticing, her love affair was with education and what Elena considered beautiful was usually found between the covers of books written by her idols, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Ralph Ellison and many others. Elena's parents were already predicting great things for their daughter's future and offered her all the support they could.
It had been a while since Elena worked in the cantina, and she had never done it alone, but both of her brothers were local policemen, which left little time for them to tend the counter. Both had stuck their heads in the door over the last few days to check on her, especially with the rash of hold ups that had hit the neighborhood lately. If they stayed more than fifteen minutes, Elena would put them to work, so the visits tapered off as the days passed without incident. Elena smirked to herself as she remembered making Virgil watch the counter in full uniform with an apron on over it. Both of Elena's brothers put up some form of mock protest, but did what she asked with the usual playful banter and name calling that sibling always did in a close knit family.
All through her childhood, Elena spent every afternoon after school here, helping her father and brothers, her father playing jazz by Miles, Dizzy, Bird; telling his children stories of seeing these musical giants in his youth when he courted their mother. Elena found herself humming some half forgotten melody from one of those old songs, allowing herself to be a little girl once more. Elena, still humming to herself, was about to go to the door to turn the locks and then count out the credits from the register when she heard a scuffling noise and the tinkle of the bell on the door.
Five young men in dark colored hooded coats stood in the doorway. The lighting of the store, the gloom of the deserted, rain soaked streets outside and the fact that the hoods were pulled low over their faces, obscured their features, Elena couldn't make out too much beyond the fact that they had chins and at least one of them held a blaster. The scream came from Elena's lips before the realization that the store was being robbed.
"Shut her ass up!" one of the gangsters hissed angrily. The lead man with the blaster aimed and fired, the roar of the gun drowned out by another flash of lightning accompanied by booming thunder.
Outside, and far away, he cocked his head and listened, his body already moving to follow the sound back to the source. He had chosen a rooftop that gave him the best vantage point to take the stage, to dance once again with danger, to tempt fate with the gifts and talents he possessed. He traveled once more where angels feared to tread, but where a man without fear was as bad as facing the DLOS himself.
Clahe Desio, clad in the gray garb of a Jedi, launched himself from the edge of the roof and into the night to protect those who couldn't protect themselves.
The Jedi spun wildly into the air, unseeing eyes hidden behind the hood, using his enhanced senses and incredible agility to cross the distance between his rooftop perch and scream he pulled out of the hundreds of other random sounds that permeated the air around him.
Clahe's radar sense was a little fuzzy this evening, severe weather sometimes gave his radar trouble, making the impressions less defined, like snow on a television. The gray clad hero's other senses were working overtime to compensate for his less accurate radar. His body twisted in the air, Clahe's hyper-sensitive hearing strained to hear the wind as it swept around solid objects, the rain as it struck rooftops, the hoods of cars, the few people left on the sidewalk and the streets below. His sense of smell sorted out the various scents from one another, attempting to pick up some trace of a scent that may lead him to the gun he heard fired. On a crosswind, Clahel picked up the faint scent of cordite, he changed the angle of his latest flip so that his next bounce would carry him in the direction of the place where the shots may have been fired. The scent grew stronger as Clahe went; he knew he'd be there soon.
Elena had managed to drop behind the counter as the first shot was fired. She rolled back behind the counter, heading towards the back office, where her father kept his revolver. Trent, Virgil and her father had taught her how to shoot, if necessary, she'd do what she have to do to stay alive and protect her daddy's livelihood.
"Look here, girl!" one of the gang bangers shouted as Elena made it to the office, "Come on out, we ain't gonna hurt you!"
Elena responded by firing a few warning shots from behind the half opened office door. The resulting shots scattered the gang bangers, behind shelves and counters, seeking the nearest safe haven. The banger with the gun lay down covering fire which forced Elena to scream again as the wood of the doorway shattered over her head. Two more bangers pulled a pair of semi-automatics and prepared to pepper the doorway with enough bullets to make certain that the young woman would not be able to give the police any kind of information. Even with the weather working to their advantage, all of the shooting that had happened would be investigated sooner or later. What they didn't consider was just how soon someone would come to investigate the situation.
Clahe didn't bother with a warning, his radar sense had already mapped out a sketchy floor plan, allowing him enough time to formulate his plan of attack. The Force heralded his final spring from the roof towards the store’s entrance. His light saber hilt was resilient enough to ricochet from the wall over the cash register and strike down the gunman who had chosen to hide behind a rack of snack cakes. The hilt hit the thug in the temple with just enough force to drop the man and carom into the gun hand of one of the other shooters who had just registered the light saber's entry into the situation. His yelp became a scream as his dropped gun misfired into his foot. The second thug lay on the floor, whimpering pitifully.
"DAMN!" swore one of the remaining thugs, "It's the Jedi, y'all!"
The thug by the cooler, hissed and tried to run for the door, preferring the better part of valor, but was knocked back into the room by a solid fist in a dark glove. Clahe moved gracefully into the door frame, every muscle tensed in anticipation of what might happen next. The thug the masked man had punched, stumbled back into the doorway and lifted his gun hoping he could nail Daredevil before he moved again. Before he could draw a bead, Daredevil had already moved to deal with the thug's renewed attack. A swift kick seemed to come from nowhere, tearing the gun out of the thug's hand and sent it spinning into a corner out of reach among the dog and cat food by the plate glass window. Disarmed, the thug swung at the crime fighter, his desire for escape overriding his fear of Clahe's abilities. Clahe deftly sidestepped the punch and leaned forward, stepping past the desperate young man. Still off balance, the thug wasn't prepared for the blow to the back of his head as Clahe's fist finished its wild course through the room. Stunned and senseless, the thug fell inches away from the doorway and freedom. Daredevil reached down, picking up the light saber he had thrown. The two remaining thugs were awestruck by the display, so awestruck in fact that they had stopped shooting altogether.
"One chance to surrender peacefully, gentlemen," Clahe said smiling, "I won't make this offer twice."
The thugs looked at each other and then to their fallen associates and then to Clahel once more. Almost in unison, the pair gently lay down their firearms and placed their hands on their heads.
The young Jedi allowed his enhanced senses to stretch out and take in the rest of the room. Besides the still excited heartbeats of his opponents, Clahe picked up a final excited heartbeat with his hearing, slowly decreasing along with the rapid breathing. The beat was strong, the breathing steady; good, the shop's lone defender was unhurt, just scared. Clahel pulled the scent of perfume from the same general direction, it was a woman.
"Miss?" Clahe said loudly but evenly to calm her. "Miss, everything's under control, you can come out."
Elena peeked tentatively from behind the shattered doorway, her father's pistol in hand, ready for everything except the sight that greeted her. Elena knew of Clahe as did most Kai City citizens, but had only seen him in the papers or as a bit of grainy news footage. Despite the violence that had taken place, Clahe had managed to do relatively little damage to the store itself. One of the displays were turned over, the young man who had shot himself in the foot was getting it bandaged by the masked crusader - the bloody mess from his accidental wounding was stemmed for the moment, the others were tied up neatly next to the bullet riddled counter. Clahe rose from his hasty medical work and turned his head in Elena's direction.
"Are you okay?" Clahe asked with a concern that wasn't in his voice when he was dealing with the thugs. Whatever passions drove the man to risk his life for the sake of total strangers also drove him to be certain that those under his protection were attended to before he left the scene.
"I'm fine," Elena said, amazed at the sudden calmness in her voice. She was still stunned at how quickly the whole thing ended, how easily this masked man saved her life and her father's livelihood.
"They won't be going anywhere for a while, miss," Clahel said as he stood. "If you'd like I can call the police for you."
"No--," Elena said hesitantly, "I can do that. Thanks. Both of my brothers are on the local force." Elena picked up the phone and paged both of her brothers using the programmed speed dial. Her "911" would have them at the store faster than any department dispatcher. She turned to thank her rescuer only to find that he had left while she was making the call. She sat down to wait for Trent and Virgil to show up and hoped that she'd still be able to pick up her parents on time. Though it didn't seem to be logical, Elena smiled, looked out into the night and said a soft spoken, "Thank you."
Five blocks away as he stretched in mid leap, Clahe smiled and replied, "You're welcome."