Chapter 1: It's Not Over, Not By a Longshot

Well, Halloween 2013 has come and gone. For those of you who don't know, in the week leading up to Halloween, I was attacked by a werewolf, fought many mythical creatures to the death (to their death), met a pair of villainous vampires named Adam and Eve, made a new friend from an unintentional enemy (by the name of Markus), killed Eve, and now I'm the first ever Cyborg to work for the Guardian Hunters. Markus stepped down as the leader of the Guardian Hunters and Kitty is now the top commander of the Guardian Hunters. Oh, and they're not called the Guardian Hunters anymore: they're now called the "North Star Sentinels" or just "The Sentinels" for short.

It's early in the month of November, meaning it's time for many American families to prepare for their Thanksgiving feasts on the fourth Thursday of the month. That also means that the weather is cold, but being Minnesota, the weather is dark and windy, with no snow yet. Oh, and it's early at night. But for me and my wife, Jenn, we were still keeping a sharp eye on the well-being of my fellow Minnesotans. After all, Adam was still on the loose, and no one really knows what he's up to or what he's planning. I'm tasked with finding, hunting, and eliminating Adam before he attempts to create a new world order or just killing off his opposition (like us and similar agencies), whichever comes first. But, even before I could do that, there was something I had to make sure of.

Oh, and by the way, my name's Tom, and I have many nicknames and such. Most predominately, Takeo, an online gamer name that just kind of stuck (that means "Warrior" in Japanese and "Crystal Grandfather" in Khmer). I have a wife, Jenn, and before the events on the nights leading up to Halloween, I was an IT consultant. I used to drive a 2005 Toyota Corolla S and Jenn used to drive a 2004 Subaru WRX STi Impreza Applied D sedan, but upon becoming permanent members of The Sentinels, we were offered the chance to get any production car we wanted to be issued to us at no cost to us, since The Sentinels is funded by the government as a contractor. But, more on that later.

Upon becoming a permanent member of The Sentinels, my outfitting and equipment has changed drastically from my home/self defense methods I had before, never mind that I'm a technical cyborg with artificial cybernetic robotic lungs as the ones I was born with were destroyed in the events of those Halloween nights. My trusty XD45, which I lost in that fateful meeting with Adam and Eve (I'm never going to get used to saying that(, has since been replaced by a pair of handguns, one of which is a revolver. My new handgun of choice is a Sig Sauer P220 Equinox with a threaded barrel for a suppressor kept in an inside-the-waistband holster. In comparison to my XD45, the ammo capacity is just over half, but that's because my secondary is a hand-hurting Smith & Wesson 327 Performance Center short barrel 8-shot revolver in .357 Magnum in a special holster built into my undershirt. Though Jenn doesn't like it for its immense recoil, I'm quite fond of it as a backup and secondary handgun. I also carry a tactical combat Tanto with a 550 paracord-wrapped handle with a monkey's fist knot as a makeshift tassel on the end of the handle. In that monkey's fist is a solid steel ball to use as a meteor hammer style counterweight. This blade is for those close-quarters scraps just in case I get into such a situation.

As for the rest of my outfit, if you saw me in a Saint Paul bus stop or walking down the street, you would not have guessed I was a "special agent" (remember, The Sentinels are a government-funded agency. Stay with me here) or some sort of civil protector. But, my outfitting is much more practical than I'll lead you to believe. I wear 6" black tactical boots, with tactical cargo pants not tucked into the boots, a TDU shirt rapid assault shirt and a watch cap because this is Minnesota and it's crazy cold up here in November. Over all of that is an ordinary-looking trench coat which is actually a knee-length tactical trench coat which Weyland was kind enough to assemble with Kevlar, also because Minnesota is a cold state. In a pocket, I keep a pair of tactical gloves which doubles as cold-weather gloves. And of course, there's miscellaneous stuff like a government-approved badge in a holder on my belt, wallet, radio with a connection to HQ and phone, and other little stuff. Oh, and 73 cents in pocket change in two quarters, two dimes, and three pennies. I bought a cup of tea earlier.

But, I guess by now you're probably wondering where the heck I'm at. Well, interestingly, or at least interesting to me, I'm at my parent's house, which I haven't been to for a while since getting married and moving out. Jenn had driven us there in her new 2013 BMW 335i xDrive. The reason is that because I'm well aware that Adam knows everything about me, there's a strong chance that he'll go after my parents and my brother. I came to make sure that doesn't happen. In front of the house was a Saint Paul Police squad car, with the lights flashing, but no officer in sight. Jenn stops the car and nods at me. I put on my gloves, adjust my hat, and step out of the car. I walk up to the cop car with a tactical flashlight. Not a good sight. The passenger-side window was broken in, and in the passenger seat was a cop whose throat was slit, eyes open and looking towards the sky. He was already dead, but the blood was still fresh. The cut was clean, obviously a well-maintained blade. Jenn walks up behind me and sees the body and gives a look of disgust.

"This is bad." She says. I get onto the radio.

"Takeo to HQ? Over."

"We hear ya. You arrived at your parent's house yet?"

"Yeah, and it doesn't look good. From the looks of it, we're going to need a mourning band, maybe two."

"Wait, mourning band? As in, that black strap that police officers wear to mourn the death of a fellow officer?"

"Yeah." There's a short silence.

"I'll contact Saint Paul PD. Just to let you know, this is beginning to be much worse than we originally anticipated. We'll discuss it in the debrief when you get back. For now, make sure that your family is safe."

"Roger." I look back at Jenn. "Can you go in through the front door?"

"Yeah. You'll go through the back door, I take it?"

"Yeah. Remember, check your corners, and don't shoot me when I come in through the kitchen. The basement is last."

"Quietly? Or should I go in expecting a fight, which means not being discreet?"

"Quick and quiet."

"Okay. Keys?" I hand her an EZ Pick lock picking gun and tension wrench, since when I moved out, I gave up my keys to my parents. "Nice."

"You most likely won't need to use it. If you can't get in, whisper it to me via radio. If all else fails, then we'll do a tactical entry. Understood?"

"Okay." Jenn jogs up to the front door of my parent's house. I go to the back door, P220 and flashlight drawn. I thread on the suppressor, and because of the positioning of my door, I switch the handgun and flashlights with my P220 in my left hand. I check the door to the garage (my parents have an attached garage). It's partially open. I slowly push the door into the garage. I climb the steps to the back door, and switch on the light to the garage. Aside from my dad's truck, and some odds and ends, there's nothing in there. Now the problematic part. The back door is heavy solid wood and makes a lot of noise when you open it, and on top of that, it opens outwards. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to have to move very slowly. But, I can breathr a sigh of relief. "The door is stuck. I can't open it without a lot of force." Jenn says to me via radio. I figured since both doors make a lot of noise, a tactical entry will suffice.

"Kick it open. Remember, be careful, and keep an eye out for another police officer." I hear her kick the door open. I switch hands again with my handgun, and quickly whip open the door. I walk into my kitchen. Not one thing was in its rightful place, either broken, overturned, or simply on the floor. Then again, that crappy $39 rice cooker is broken, so that helped me feel a little better. I exit the kitchen into the hallway, looking left and seeing Jenn making sure the living room is clear. She nods at me. I turn back left, and hit the first room, which is my brother's old room on the right. I open the door. The room was torn apart. I check the closet. All clear. I come back out of the room, as Jenn pass me in the hallway. Then she turns left at the bathroom at the end of the hall which was a room where my mom stored her handmade Khmer dresses. I check the bathroom, which compared to the rest of the house was relatively untouched. Finally, I open the door to my parent's room (to the right of the bathroom), and the scene couldn't be more morbid. I ignore the scene and check the room to make sure there was nothing in there. Jenn comes into the room.

"The rest of the main floor of the house. Is clear...oh my goodness...what happened here?" On the bed were my parents, or technically, my parent's bodies. The bed was still fresh, blood dripping off the bed. Judging from the look on my parents' faces, they died painlessly and quickly. Eyes were still closed. I get back onto the radio, holding back my anger and sadness, voice choked slightly.

"Kitty?"

"Takeo? What's wrong?" Kitty replies over the radio.

"Secure a pair of body bags and a cleanup team, and maybe another bag. I'll keep you updated."

"...Takeo..." I look at Jenn who was speechless of the sight before her, covering her mouth.

"I'll check the basement. Can you stay and let the cleanup squad in when they get here?" She nods. I go back through the kitchen and open the basement door. Immediately there to greet me and to give me a heart attack is an orc from Entropy. He tries to aim a suppressed Glock handgun of some make and caliber directly me at my head. I immediately sidestep the shot and deflect the orc's arm from getting a bead on me. The orc lands a punch on my face. I smack the orcs hand against the door frame and disarm it in the process. I kick the orc causing him to lose balance and fall backward, but the orc grabs my leg and pulls me down. We tumble down the stairs, with me losing my P220 in the process. Me and the orc tumble down the thirteen stairs to the thinly-carpeted concrete floor in my basement. I don't know where the orc went, but thankfully I landed on the meat of my butt first, instead of my head like I would lead you to believe. I groan and look up and see the orc recovering, drawing a rather large dagger from a sheath. I sit up and quickly unbutton my coat and reach under my shirt for my revolver. I grab hold of the grip, but then I realized that the revolver was stuck on something. Might've been from the fall. The orc tries to stab me with a downwards thrust. I roll and give a piston kick to the orc's knee, then reach back for my tanto. I'm about to draw it when I hear a deafening shot, characteristic of a shotgun. When I regain my senses, I see the orc laying on the floor, head riddled with small holes from the shot. I look around the room and see my younger brother near my old room before I moved out. He was covered in blood, but didn't appear to be injured in any way. He had my dad's Remington 870 Super Magnum 12-gauge 20" barrel shotgun shouldered with one hand, barrel still smoking. But, what was truly shocking was that on his opposite shoulder was an injured Saint Paul police officer, who was not only still alive, but conscious. I just stare with my mouth open, slightly shocked and relieved at seeing my brother alive. I sheath my tanto and get up to my feet, sore from tumbling down the stairs.

"Bhong?" Bhong is a Khmer title to address an older brother or older sister or other older family member, or someone who's older than you, but close enough not to be the age of your parents or similar. "Is that you? Is Mommy and Papa okay?" Mommy and Papa are what we called our parents. Call us what you want, but we did have a generally positive relationship with our parents. I rush to get underneath the other arm of the officer to help him.

"Good, to see you're alright, Tony." I say.

"You didn't answer my question. How're Mommy and Papa?" I begin to get misty eyed. Tony, my younger brother by seven years (making him 17, and me 24), looks at me, wanting an answer. "Dude, do you know something I don't?" I look at him.

"I know who ordered this hit, but more on that later-"

"Hey, you two." The officer between us says. "This is touching and all, but I need medical attention. I need answers too, but medical attention comes first, okay?"

"Understood, Officer...uh...what's your name?" He just grunts as me and Tony help the Officer up the stairs. Jenn meets me, and upon seeing the injured officer, immediately springs into first responder mode. She starts checking him for wounds as I start seeing flashing red and blue lights outside. Immediately, I get on the radio back to the Sentinels HQ. "Kitty, we've got flashing lights. I thought we wanted to avoid getting local LE and emergency personnel involved with the kinds of things we as The Sentinels deal with."

"Normally I would, Takeo, but we've got a dead Law Enforcement officer, and the top brass in Alaska ordered me to connect to a direct line to the radio dispatcher. Looks like we'll be working together with Saint Paul PD on this one." Now, it's not that I don't like cops. Quite the contrary, actually. My family has some friends who also happen to be Minnesota State Troopers. The reason I was reluctant to get them involved was due to the simple fact that I didn't want to endanger other human lives and cause unnecessary loss of life. But, I guess it can't be helped, because whether I like it or not, they're involved now, and secrecy is going to be thrown out of the window, at least as far as local law enforcement is concerned. I'd rather keep this hush-hush from the media if I can.

We manage to get outside to see pandemonium on the very street I grew up on. There were several ambulances at several houses on the street, trying to evacuate other injured civilians in the area. Gotta leave it to Entropy for being consistently thorough in trying to eliminate all witnesses. There were also numerous squad cars in the area. A pair of officers was zipping up a body bag that contained the dead officer as several more officers and paramedics wheel a gurney to the officer I was helping. They help the officer onto the gurney, but several other officers point their duty Glocks at me. I immediately put my hands up.

"What's going on here, officers?"

"You're under arrest. We have to take your in for questioning." An officer says as he walks behind me and pulls out handcuffs.

"Under arrest? I'm a special agent!"

"Show me your badge then." I slowly reach my hand down at the bottom of my trenchcoat and pull it to the side, showing my North Star Sentinels shield badge. The badge has a nickel finish and has a cross taking up most of the shield, with the center being the state logo for Minnesota. The officer looks at it, confused, "What the heck are the 'North Star Sentinels'?" Then, I hear a familiar voice.

"We're kinda like the Men In Black." I see Markus emerge from his armored Land Rover Discovery. Ever since he's gone back to his real self, I've had a chance to really get to know him better. That, and he speaks perfect American English, without an accent, surprisingly. At first I thought it was weird, but because he's a bit of a jack-of-all-trades field agent now for the Sentinels, I won't complain. He's a big help, and a darn good cook.

Anyways, the elf Lunar Squad was with him. Lunar may be a combat squad, but for some reason, they're also highly skilled in forensics and cleanup. The more I work with all of them, the more I discover about my "coworkers". They all flash their badges to get past the block and immediately go into my parents house. My brother was being tended to by a paramedic. I walk up to the wounded officer we helped. "Officer, what's your name?"

"Manning. Barrett Manning."

"I'll visit you in the hospital." He gives a strained grin as he's loaded into an ambulance, the doors closing and the ambulance leaving. I turn to see Markus speaking with a Police Sergeant, trying to explain what exactly the Sentinels do. It's proving harder than he thought. I walk up to them to listen in on the conversation.

"Sergeant, I explained it to you, we're basically a government-contracted security agency tasked with protecting humans and 'mythical creatures' like myself from those who desire to exterminate the human race or start a large scale world war between humans and creatures like me."

"Markus, was it? I find this all hard to believe. I mean, you say you're a vampire, but my daughter read those awful Twilight books. They're fiction, not real, and you need to get out of your delusions of being a vampire. They don't exist." Markus gives a loud sigh and facepalm. I look at the Police Sergeant.

"Sergeant. I'm Takeo." I shake his hand. "It may seem far-fetched, but I'm going to prove it to you. Markus, are you ready?"

"Not this again. I guess it can't be helped."

"Sergeant, draw your utility knife."

"Where are you going with this?" The Sergeant asks, drawing a folding knife from his duty belt and flicks it open.

"Now, I know this is going to sound crazy, but stab or cut Markus in your place of choice. And please, be reasonable."

"I refuse."

"Is it because of the paperwork involved?"

"Partially." I give a sigh.

"Alright, fine. Resist the urge to fire upon me."

"Huh?" The Police Sergeant says, slightly confused and bewildered.

"Oh, well this is going to suck." Markus says. I quickly draw my Tanto overhand, and in one motion, slash Markus on the side of his neck, severing his Carotid artery, blood gushing from the wound. Markus puts his hand up to the wound to prevent the blood from splattering everywhere. The police sergeant immediately draws his duty weapon. I put my free hand up, signaling to not be alarmed, but like most people would do, he refused to comply. Then, Markus, after a grunt, speaks. "Relax, Sergeant, I'm perfectly fine."

Much to the surprise of the sergeant, Markus was not only alive, but still standing and generally unfazed. Markus pulls his hand away from the wound as it regenerates and heals right before the sergeant, several other officers, and paramedics eyes. After several seconds, his neck was as good as new. Markus rotates his head around to stretch his neck, then Markus looks at me. "I hate doing that, just so you know."

"Sorry." I reply. "But I needed to do something dramatic." We turn back to the sergeant. "Believe us now?"

"Takeo, Markus," the Sergeant says, "I don't know what to believe. What I just saw looked almost like magic."

"Well, it's not. And don't worry, when I first joined the Sentinels, I didn't know what to believe either. Welcome to the club, Sergeant. We'll keep in touch, and everything I find and any information I come across, I'll report to you and your commanders. Is that a deal?" I extend my hand. The sergeant reluctantly shakes my hand. "Oh, and please don't replicate what you saw today, okay? Unlike my fellow agents, I'm actually human...mostly."

"Right." The sergeant says nervously and awkwardly. "Got it." After an awkward handshake, we turn our separate ways. I turn and walk up to Tony and Jenn, who were talking.

"Tony, you okay?" Tony nods. "What happened in there?"

"Well," Tony replies, "I was downstairs playing League of Legends when I heard someone walking upstairs. But I figured it was just Mommy or Papa. Well, that all changed when I heard silenced gunshots."

"How could you tell?" Jenn asks.

"The bullets hit the floor and it had a very unique sound. I ran into your old room, Bhong, and grabbed Papa's shotgun. I still had it in there because I had gone to the range that day. I loaded it up with five target shells, and I go out, and there was the cop standing right there. He told me to drop my gun, but before I could, one of those things broke through a basement window and shot at him. I grabbed the wounded officer and brought him back into the room and locked the door. But, it wasn't really much better in there. More of those whatevers were trying to get to us. I held them back as best as I could, but then, they leave the windows, and go somewhere. Then I hear one break in through a window in the main basement area, and start heading up the stairs. After a couple minutes, I hear something tumble down the stairs. When I heard it was your voice, I peeked out of the room. You know the rest from there."

"Well, then I owe you one then, dude."

"But still...are Mommy and Papa okay? You didn't answer me before." Me and Jenn share a look of sorrow.

"Dude...they're..." I feel my eyes start to water. I pinch the bridge of my nose and close my eyes, flashing back to memories with my parents, and I sit down next to Tony on the ambulance. "We have a funeral to get ready for." I look past my tears to my brother. His face didn't register shock, or any emotion at all. He just turned, and stared off into space. I sniffle as I look up and see Luna standing before me, my P220 with the grip facing towards me in her hand. I grab it and holster it.

"Takeo...I'm sorry." Luna says with a sorrowful tone in her voice. This is uncharacteristic of her normally bubbly personality. "It's gotten a little too personal, hasn't it?"

"Luna. It's always been personal. Thus is the nature of an unseen war like this. But now, there's even more of a driving force for me." I stand up and stare at my parents' house, flashing back to memories of growing up there. I put my right hand on the middle of my chest. I've gained a new steely resolve and a personal conviction. Then, I utter these words:

"Adam, I'm going to take you to my world, and in my world, you will die by my hands."

TO BE CONTINUED