Toronto was in the process of trying to put itself back on his feet. Even after five years, there was still a layer of black and ash, and the air always smelled like coal. Burnt splinters of wood meshed with mud in the gutters. People would look at anyone who entered the city and monitored them like betrayed hawks. Buildings were scarce, and nobody went out at night. The government was taking its slow time to come to their aid, already dealing with numerous attacks in other areas by hostile Zempaphs.
Even after five years, the place was tense.
A gangly body was spread out on a park bench, a newspaper veiling his face, a heap of scarlet tousled hair dangling from the Oakwood seat. His foot rapped a prosaic drumming of three clicks, his eyes reading the words covering his face. He looked more than amused, eyes scanning the inky black words.
"Oh, wow... another speculation about Julian Moore. I've become quite famous ever since that little squabble." he said in a softhearted, almost considerate voice. He was referring to the Devil's Act, but as soon as the images of that night long ago ran like grey film ran through his mind, his amused half-smile darkened into a blend of wretchedness and remorse.
He lifted his burn-festooned hand, and twirled it somewhat to generate a sliver of fire in his palm. His eyes watched the red and orange blaze in the air, and suddenly he blew it out in disdain. He hated such power, and loved it.
It was like a drug.
"Curses," he laughed, running his fingers through his hair. "It's funny, actually."
In truth, he felt a little bored. Things weren't happy there. There were no carnivals, no celebrations. The only occasion to be noted was the day that the Devil's Act had painted their hometown black and red--a day that was not celebrated. No, it was mourned.
Bana quickly crossed to the market, his eyes scanning the front window for excellent offers he could take an interest in. The glass was hazy with the cold, humid winds blowing across the city. The only other noises were faint faraway voices and the sound of an rare automobile.
"I only buy the best offers..." he said softly to himself.
"Oh, me, too! Me, too," a delicate, female voice said from beside him. It was a African-American girl of around fourteen or so--he really couldn't tell--with black, animated hair that bounced like ebony cotton. Her bottom lip was thick and hanged down when she grinned, and her eyes were a sort of kind-gentle that was tricky to find in such a heartrending place. Her uniform was colorless and shipshape, a pair of chunky scarlet stitches forming a + on the neckline.
Bana smiled respectfully.
"Hi, my name is Lisa Dickenson. It's nice to me you."
"My name is Bana. It's nice to meet you, too," he halted briefly, spotted the little red cross in her collar, and pointed a finger. "By the uniform, I'm guessing you're a Refugee Nurse, right? You help patients from The Devil's Act, hunh?"
One virtuous soul amongst him. That was pleasant.
She grinned playfully.
"Yes, I do help them. You know, not very many people are around here, though. Toronto's been so empty. After all, a lot of the people who lived here were killed."
She frowned. He instantaneously felt at fault.
"Apologies. I didn't mean to spark up anything."
"Nah, it's fine!" she giggled, closing her eyes and presenting a white grin. "By the way, your name--where did it come from, exactly? It's pretty weird sounding."
"Bana? Just picked it up, I guess." He looked into the misty glass at the slow movement within the store. "So, are you here for some regular shopping?"
"Actually, I'm getting some pears for a patient of mine. The poor guy, he lost his eyes the day of the incident when he was just around thirteen. He can only see a little through his right eye, but it's all blurry and stuff."
Thirteen years old seemed like such a long time ago for him… Days that had been so horrendously wasted, so terribly washed out. He almost couldn't remember them. But they were upsetting--more painful that walking through the city of ashes.
"Hmm... how terrible," he said with his fingers against the window.
"But he's doing very well…" Lisa paused and took a fleeting look at her wristwatch. "Ah, I should get going. Thanks for the little chat, Bana! Stop by the hospital and say 'hello'!"
The red-headed man waved as she left across the street, feet somehow managing to skip without any intention, ebony curls flapping in their pigtails. Bana blinked away a look of surprise, realizing she'd disappeared as quickly as she came. A little bolt of lightening, rocketing back and forth, there one minute and gone the next.
"What an oddball."
Bana knew that someday he'd die from his actions. There was no mistaking it. Unlike most ordinary people, he wasn't going to die in a traffic accident, from cancer, from old age… No, he would end up taking what he deserved for slaughtering all of those blameless lives.
Still, there was a voice that belonged to the inferno that told him he shouldn't feel bad at all. His shadowy, ghastly voice that told him he had to make everything char, flame, smolder, burn. In order to keep it--that feeling in his fingers--under control, he had to find a way to channel all of the hostilities presented within his disorder.
The garbage dwelling in the trashcan lit up red and orange with a flick of Bana's hand, flames overtaking all of the useless paper and plastic. He became… mesmerized hypnotically on the dancing fire. He craved so much to burn fleshy tissue again--such a disgusting trait, he'd told himself thousands of times. Thousands of times. It was like a dog trying to go astray from the taste of blood after one little bite: once you try it, it was difficult to stop.
His fingers twitched and began to spasm at the fire's movement, and he knew that this was the only way to control his… thirst. It wasn't very helpful, to tell the truth, but it kept him from killing more people. That was all that mattered. That was all that mattered to keep what little good he had from fading. What was worse was the identity he needed to keep put away on a shelf of memoirs. Julian Moore wasn't dead, yet he had to conceal this with Bana...
"Somebody, help! Call 911!"
The voice was thunderous and shrill, and he couldn't help but follow it; he came to a billow of black and a crowd of frenzied people. Bana made his way through the throng to find what the trepidation was. A swell of smoke rose up above them all, and he soon realized that a house had caught fire on the corner of the block.
"Aw…" he cooed, "How unfortunate of them." He argued within himself to either help the house--and possibly people inside--or to simply shrug it off and leave. Bana sighed, the resonating yells for help within the home making his heart nearly wilt. That voice inside of him that told him to leave them to die slowly dissipated as passion grew in his chest. He lifted his hand and, with the use of the fire that had tried to make him abandon those trapped inside, Bana controlled the fire down into nothing more than a small smolder.
Soon after a pair of shaken but safe bodies ran from the blackened door and a content smile crossed the redhead's face. Satisfied, Bana quickly exited.
Not too far from the scene of the fire, Bana felt that feeling he'd learned to know quickly. That feeling that somebody was following close behind, his every step counted and measured by someone else's eyes. Finally, Bana simply stopped walking all together. He worked his jaw as the steps behind him continued, and he thought nothing of it until he heard a loud bang, followed by a swelling pain in his torso. He spun on his heel, touching a messy wound that was just an inch under his right-side ribs.
"Julian Moore, I assume?" came from the shadows, "I'm George Elith, from the U.N.S.S."
The name rang many (cracked) bells in his head; Bana spun on his heel and came face to face with a man no older than he. Hair dust-colored, eyes ash-colored, George was a man that made Julian's hands sweat. If Bana hated anyone more, anything more, it was the U.N.S.S. and their lap dogs. This man slowly holstered a pistol located at his hip.
Bana smirked as he regained the strength to fight again.
"United Nations Special Soldier," the redhead seethed, "A place they take Zempaphs to enforce big problems and do the government's dirty work. A regular army of X-Men, eh?"
George shrugged, replying coolly with, "Better than being a mass murderer."
Bana's heart jumped, and his stomach felt like it was sliced through and through, and not from the shot he'd taken from moments beforehand--but he managed to do what he'd done all of his life: traded his regret for anger and mercilessness. He glared hard and swallowed down what he assumed was anxiety. George stared back fixedly, unscathed by the daggers shot at him.
"There's no mistaking it," he said, "You used your abilities as a Schizophrenia Morphi, right? You think you're righteous to save a burning home? It'll never be enough repenting."
Behind him, a bench hovered, his hand reaching for a gun placed on his inner coat pocket. Bana's feet worked by themselves, as he thrust his body forward with his hands extended. Flames shot out like snake fangs and wrapped around the bench, turning the wooden object into a brief puff of ash and hot steel bolts. Bana smiled wickedly, ocher eyes bulging in delight, as the burning metal burned small dots on his face. The life of his inferno lit up his skin, a bright orangey tint. George grinded his teeth and grunted aloud. Soon after, a car floated up from the side of the road and flew at Bana. However, high on the feeling of heat and pain--blood running down his leg and dripping on the street--the redhead easily slid under the flying automobile. It crashed uselessly into a nearby building as Bana kicked out George's feet out from under him, however, he merely floated for a moment off the ground.
"Shit," Bana managed before his enemy's foot connected to the side of this red-dotted face. He stumbled backward while George lifted his hand and lifted Bana's body up into the air. Sweat dotted his face as he struggled with the weight. Bana could feel this man's powers working their magic, as his muscles were suddenly being pulled until they were tight and coiled under his skin. George was trying to pull the man apart, limb from limb.
Bana smiled, amused by the attempt.
"You should've been paying more attention to what was hovering behind you, you fucking idiot," he said, his voice strained but still filled with cockiness. A moment later, George exhaled sharply at the feeling of a sharp lance of pain in his abdomen. He slowly looked down and stared in horror at a long piece of metal jutting from his chest. Slowly, the telekinetic grip on Bana lifted and the Zempaph dropped harmlessly to the ground. The U.N.S.S. member seemed to be in a moment of disbelief, looking at the protruding thing that had pierced his lung like a knife through butter, mainly because it seemed impossible. He faltered and tumbled to the ground, blood bubbling up and over his lip.
Despite his agony, he managed, throat clogged with blood, "Y-you… used my puh…ah-ghk…owers… How was that p-possible? Unless…" He paused, ash-colored eyes widening, "Y-you're…"
Another chunk of steel from the destroyed bench shot up and struck George through the cranium, shooting little chunks of red down the street. He died instantly, his eyes still wide and questioning; his body slackened and stayed limp on the floor.
Bana sighed, and looked down at the man with pity. The maniac that had filmed his face was gone, replaced with the face of the man who'd spoken to a small girl not long before the fight.
"Sorry, pal. I'm the bad guy here, aren't I?"
He grunted and winced, losing enough balance to fall to a knee. Blood trickled out through his jacket and shirt--a trail of red from a bullet wound.
"That bastard got me good..." Bana murmured.
A thin oozing road of saliva and blood ran down his lip as he forced himself to his feet started off down the road silently. The place was so quiet and desolate, so empty, and he was sure that no one had even seen their fight. Even if they had, they would've high-tailed it out of there…
Bana had managed to get down the block before tumbling into a backyard adorned with bright colors. His burnt cheek rested over lilies and crushed them down roughly. For some reason, he apologized to them.
His sideways world was filled with flowers of all kinds, and sterile snow-white chairs. As his vision flickered in and out of focus, he said to himself, "I had it coming... After all, karma... always…"
He heard a young, familiar voice before drifting off into blackness, crying out loud and at first, then dimming with the coming darkness, "Oh no...! Mr. Bana, are you all right?! Mr. Bana!"