Albatross #1

A Trickshot In The Dark

By: Omair Ahmed Khan

The Karachi air was filled with the sounds of gun fire and of engines roaring. In this City it often only meant one thing: Gang crawl. In 2015 the amount of street crime in the city rose to an alarming amount. This in turn led to the formation of numerous gangs. The Gang currently parading the street was known as the night riders. However not the most original name in the world they were among the biggest gangs in Karachi.

They traveled in a group of five. They were clearly headed to scout their next job. They turned into an alley way and and turned off the engines of their bikes and walked further into the alley until they met with another gang. Clean cut, heavily armed. This gang was known as the mercenaries. They were one of the smaller gangs of the city but they were undoubtedly among the deadliest. They dealt mostly in weapons which are sold to other gangs on the city.

The two leaders walked further down into the alley way. The alley was illuminated only by the single street lamp that hung above them.

‘Do you have what we want?’ The night rider asked.

The mercenary just looked at him and motioned to another member behind him who then produced the duffle bag filled with precision hand guns.

‘I’m sure you’ll find these to your liking’ the mercenary replied. The night rider merely smiled and presented a suitcase filled with money.

It was then that I knew I had to make my move.

The street light shut off and only the sounds of the thugs falling and the shuffling of the crowd in the darkness could be heard. The light turned back on and only the two leaders remained standing.

Frightened, they pulled out their weapons and searched around. The night rider turned to me and there I stood in the shadow. Before he could utter a word I grabbed him by the collar and pulled him into the shadow quietly. All that remained was the mercenary who turned and saw me standing there.

‘So you’re the great hero I’ve heard so much about? I thought you were just an urban legend.’ He chuckled.

‘I’m real alright.’ I said hiding my real voice. I observed as he reached for the weapon at his side. In a swift movement he pulled a gun from the bag and began to shoot in my direction. I reacted by quickly jumping out of the way.

‘You’re quick but I’ve been trained by the best.’ The mercenary said as the gun was knocked out of his hand by my metal staff.

‘I was trained by better.’ I said as I swung the staff at him and knocked him back. He tried to escape but I grabbed him by his collar and threw him against the wall.

‘Now tell me everything you know about Faisal Khalid.’ I said to him as I slammed him harder against the wall.

‘I don’t know who you’re talking about.’ He said struggling to break free. I slammed him harder once again.

‘Don’t play games!’ I shouted. He remained silent.

‘Tell me about the Missionary!’ I shouted again. He looked back at me with widened eyes.

‘He’ll kill me if I say a word about him’ He replied to which I tightened my grip.

‘What do you think I’ll do to you if you don’t?’ I asked.

‘He’s the deadliest man in the entire country.  He’s more powerful than you can imagine!’ He replied startled.

‘Your gang works for him. Last year he ordered your gang to kill a family living in Defense. If you don’t tell me where he is I won’t hesitate to snap your neck!’ I said in a rage and I increased the pressure on his neck. He began to struggle.

‘Okay, OKAY! I’ll tell you where he is……He’s……’ He said before his voice was cut off by a bullet to his head.

‘It’s a shame really…..Father always thought he was a great solider. If only he didn’t try and open his mouth.’ I turned to see a masked figure standing behind me holding a hand gun.

‘Who are you?’ I asked

‘Me? I’m no-one really. Oh, but I know who you are.’ The figure replied as he took a few steps closer.

‘Oh indeed. You are the great Hero of Karachi. The very first masked hero if I’m not mistaken.’ He said as he began to circle me.

‘Why did you shoot him?’ I asked with my eyes fixed on him.

‘Can’t risk him telling you now can I?’ The figure responded. He them pulled his other gun out and shot the mercenary multiple times. I watched in shock as he aimed the gun at me.

‘What do you want?’ I asked him as I motioned my eyes to the staff which was now at his throat.

‘You really are feisty hero. You know you’ve really caught my father’s eye.’ He said putting his gun away.

‘You’re Faisal Khans’ son?’ I asked him as I put my staff away.

‘Indeed, although to be fair I’m his adopted son.’ He said as he began to circle me again.

‘You’re blind if you think he cares about you for a second.’ I said to him.

‘Oh no indeed, I’m as expendable as this sorry bastard.’ He said as he kicked the body of the mercenary dead on the ground.

‘Then why work for him.’ I asked him

‘Because my dear Albatross…….’ He replied as he shot the metal staff out of my hand. ‘…….I’m as skillful as I am expendable.’

I looked at him with surprise. His aim was perfect. No scratch on my skin no nothing. It was impressive as it was frightening.  Before I could pick my staff up again he grabbed me from behind and pointed his gun to my right temple.

‘If I’m honest, I don’t really see what the big deal is with you. You failed to impress me.’ He said as he cocked his gun. I quickly tapped a button on my wrist which released the wings on my suit. Releasing his grip on me and knocking him back.

I picked up my staff and assumed the fighting stance as he aimed his gun at me.

‘Are you gonna tell me who you are?’ I asked one last time. He just smiled as the street light began to flicker

‘The name is Trickshot.’ He said as the street light went off and just as quickly came back on. The figure no longer stood there.

I was baffled. I searched the area and all I found was a note. I opened the note but before I could read it I heard the sound of the radio broadcast:

Good evening, this is Fatima Arshad from On-the-Dot news. Behind me is where a robbery is underway. Sources tell us that the man behind the robbery is in fact none other than the terrorist war-lord Faisal Khan, better known over the world as the Missionary. There have been reports that no hostages are involved in this robbery….’

That was all I needed to hear. I crumbled up the note and made my way to my bike. I then proceeded to make my way to the bank.

I didn’t have to read the note. The word never left my mind. I knew exactly what was written: Bellum

Trickshot at me were now at war.

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Terraform #1

Who Am I?

By: Ammar Ahmed Khan

Who am I? I don’t remember anything. The last thing I remember is seeing complete darkness and the next thing I know I’m wide awake in the middle of nowhere. By the look of the trees very close together I can tell I’m in a forest…But which one? And more importantly…What am I doing here?

 

I know I have a lot of questions right now, but for some reason I’m getting this feeling that now is not the time to answer them. I can hear leaves crackling from a distance. It sounds like people are coming in this direction. Somehow I cam near it from a great distance, which is both interesting and concerning. From the sound I could tell that it’s only two people.

 

I can see them from behind the bushes as I  hide. I don’t know why, but hearing them gave me an instinct feeling to hide from them. Two hunters are wandering around the forest as if they are looking for something. They are not holding shot guns, but something I’ve never seen before. It looked like some kind of Tranquilizer or something, but there were no removable darts. I could see their lips moving.

 

“We have to find him.” said one of the hunters, “He could not have gone far.”

 

Who’s ‘He’?And What are they looking for exactly?

 

“Relax, Ahmed” said the other hunter. “He doesn’t know where he’s going. He’ll be stuck in the forest for a long time. Plus the city is far south from here. He won’t be able to find it if he keeps running around here.”

 

“Yeah, you’re right.” said Ahmed, “We should keep looking.”

 

I remained in hiding for a little while longer. I didn’t want to give away my location and cause some kind of misunderstanding with those two. But it’s safe to say that I learned something today. The city is south of here and it’s to my left. But what, or who, are these hunters looking for? Could it be me?

 

What am I doing? Now’s not the time to worry about that! Worry about what’s important: Heading towards civilization.

 

“I SEE HIM!” I hear someone say as I begin to run. I turn around to see one of the hunters pointing his gun at me, with the other hunter catching up behind him.

 

“Me?” I asked as I raise my hands. “What do you guys want from me?”

 

“Relax, pal.” said the first hunter as he came forward a little. “We’re not going to hurt you.”

 

I can somehow hear his heartbeat as I heard those words. It was beating in an abnormal manner, it was pumping really fast.

 

“You’re lying.” I calmly told them. “I can hear your heartbeat.”

 

The hunter looks at me with shock and confusion before looking at the other hunter. The other hunter simply nodded as the first hunter walks towards me. I know I definitely have to keep my distance from those guns. That hunter points the gun at me and I realise I can’t move any further. There’s a giant boulder behind me – I’m dead.

 

I close my eyes as he takes the shot with my hands against the boulder. I hear gunfire and that’s it. I’m dead. But for some reason, I can open my eyes, only to see the hunters dead, laying on the ground.

 

I look at my hands and realize what happened. Somehow, I don’t know how, I’m nothing but rock. My body is the same structure as it was…or used to be, but now my skin is entirely rock. I cannot believe this.

 

The bullets must have bounced back on strike and hit them instead. I killed them. They were human beings with families and they’re dead because of me. I’m a murderer.

 

I have to bury their bodies. It seems like the least I can do, but suddenly I feel weak. As I recall I heard three gunshots were fired at them. I understand two of them were hit by two of them, but where did the third go?

 

I look down and see that the side of my abdomen is bleeding. The bullet had hit me. It must have been before this change. My rock-ish body is now deteriorating as I feel weaker and weaker. If I stay here now, I will die here too. I have to go back into the city.

 

I remember the city being south, so going south it is. There are so many identical trees in the woods. It would’ve been easy to get lost in here. After a long while of running I stop to catch my breath. I look down to see that blood is still oozing out. I could remove the bullet right now, but the bullet, ironically, could be the only thing keeping me alive.

 

To maintain balance, I have to position my hand on the tree, before any signs or forms of vertigo appear. I look at my hand to see that my hand is slowly turning into wood. I backed away, terrified of what’s happening. Now more questions come to mind, but sadly, I don’t think anyone can answer me.

 

I believe my biggest mistake right now was running. If I keep running, my body will get very little oxygen and I might drop dead. But if I don’t run, I will bleed out in any minute and I’ll definitely drop dead. I’m at a loss no matter what I do.

 

It’s getting dark. The moon looked so beautiful tonight. Looking at it, for some reason, made me feel at peace. The stars looked magnificent in it’s alignments. But after a short while, the stars had disappeared from sight. I think I’m losing too much blood. As I look forward I see a light from a cabin. If there’s light coming from there, no doubt there’s someone in there.

 

I feel weaker as I reach the cabin. I don’t think I have much time left. I opened the door and found an old man, sitting next to the fire place. He had short white hair and had small traces of a beard on his face. He hadn’t shaved yet. By the look of his condition, I say he was working on something for a long time, two straight nights maybe.

 

I whisper a slight ‘Help’ before I collapsing on the ground.

 

I can faintly hear a faint voice yelling ‘Hey’ again and again. Right now all I see is darkness. But as the voice gets louder, a small light shines in front of me. The light shines brighter and brighter until eventually all I see is a wooden ceiling. As I get up to look at the window, I notice that it’s day outside. I find this confusing. I am pretty damn sure It was night-time when I came here.

 

“Good, you’re awake.” said a man to my right. It’s the old man I saw before I collapsed. Although, the only difference now is that his beard fuzz is gone – he shaved. He started to walk in my direction, handing me a cup of, what appeared to be, coffee.

 

“You had me worried there for a second.” he continued as I sip my coffee, “You’ve been unconscious the whole night. You were bleeding quite a lot. You’re lucky you found me here when you did. If you bled out any longer you would’ve died out there.”

 

“Thank you.” I replied with a smile, “I greatly appreciate it.”

 

“There’s no need to thank me.” he said, “Those clothes you’re wearing belonged to my son. I hope they are comfortable.”

 

I look around at my body to see that my clothes are completely different. I’m now wearing a white T-shirt with a logo on it. The logo has a giant blue circle covering the center of the chest area. And from the upper corners of the circle, there are two rectangle type figures moving from the sides of the circle towards the center of my shoulders. The T-shirt is rather skin-tight, and so is the light blue denim jeans. I also notice I’m now wearing pitch-black sneakers.

 

“They fit just fine.” I said with a look of gratitude. “Thank you once again.”

 

“Like I said before.” he replied as he extends his hand to me, “There’s no need to thank me. Can you stand up?”

 

I grab his hand and try to get up with a lot of pain. As I stand on my feet the pain slowly fades away. I’m starting to feel so much better. I walk forward a few steps in order to understand the situation of my pain. There was no pain.

 

“I can’t believe it.” I said with excitement as I walk around a little more. The old man, however, is looking at me in a rather amusing manner. I can see a shed of tear fall from his eye.

 

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

 

“Oh, yes.” he said as he tries to wipes his tears. “It’s just that you remind me so much of my son, Faisal. He used to look just like you.”

 

“Oh.” I said, confused. “What do you mean ‘used to’?”

 

He looks at me as if he didn’t want to remember. He just closes his eyes and taking a deep breath before opening them again. I can see more tears form from his eyes as I begin to understand what happened.

 

“I’m sorry.” I said, “I didn’t mean to..”

 

“It’s okay.” he said, quickly as he wiped away the tears. “It was long ago. Stay here for a moment and I’ll be back.”

 

He walks into another room, leaving me alone for a moment. I look around and see the wonderful cabin. It intrigues me how extravagant this cabin is, with a fireplace and what appears to be the living room from where I’m standing. I look towards the fireplace to see a picture of him and his son by the fireplace. They look happy. I see a piece of paper next to the picture with the phrase ‘See you soon.’

 

Suddenly there’s a loud bang on the door in a certain rhythm. The banging slowly started to become louder and louder.

 

“ARSHAD!!!” someone yelled as the banging got louder, “We know you’re in there. We know you’re in there, and we know you’re hiding him. Open the door now.”

 

I look to the other direction to see the old man, Arshad, in despair with an overcoat in his hand. He run in my direction and pushes me into the other room, looking in the direction of the banging door.

 

“What’s going on here?” I asked as Arshad as he makes me put on the black overcoat. He doesn’t reply. He simply makes me put it on along with a hat and a pair of black sunglasses.

 

“Now listen carefully.” he said, looking concerned. “I don’t want them taking you away as well. They’ve done this far too long. Get out the back window and run to the city. I’ll buy you some time.”

 

I try to talk back but he quickly ran out the room and locked the door. I’m trapped.

 

I look around and find a window. As I escape from it, I can hear Arshad opening the door and inviting them in. I can’t hear anything else as I run further and further away. I stop after a while and hide behind a bush, hoping that those people would leave.

 

I suddenly started to hear loud mumbling, I can’t make out what they are saying, but the mumbling is becoming louder and louder until I hear a loud ‘NO’ with a gunfire. Afterwards, there’s nothing but silence.

 

Tears are rolling down my face. That man did not deserve to die. All he did was try to help me. I know that they are looking for me, and if I stay any longer, they will without a doubt catch me, so I have to get to the city. As I run away, more questions come to my mind: Why are they after me? Why did that man have to die because he was protecting me? How did they know I was there?

 

But the most important question of all is this: Who am I?

Karachites: Pakistans First Team Of Heroes #2

Return of the Alchemist (Part 1 of 2)

By: Omair Ahmed Khan

Injured and panting. A figure made his way into a dark alley. Wounds visible and blood all over his clothes. Once in the alley the figure places his hand on his wounds and watched as they healed almost instantaneously. However, at a cost. The figure screamed in agony as his wounds healed until finally he was in pain no more.

The figure now stood straight and walked further into the alley. Sirens could be heard out on the streets. They were looking for him and he knew it, but he wasn’t about to get caught so easily.

He walked up to the wall of the building to his right and placed both his hands on it. The wall began to expand as he walked into the building. The figure then proceeded to place his hands on his cloak. The ring on his finger began to shine and the cloak turned into the local wear.

He walked a bit more into the building to discover that it was a road side restaurant of Karachi. He sat down on a chair and asked for tea. The news was on TV.

This is Fatima Arshad from On-the-Dot news. I have just returned from an exclusive interview with the four heroes of Karachi who captured the criminal known as Zaro the Alchemist…..’ Fatima Said on the News

The figure looked up at the T.V; His blood boiling. It was the very mention of his name on television that enraged him, his name to be mentioned along-side criminals. He would not stand for it.

These heroes are known by the names of Permafrost, Meteorain, Shifter and Heat-Wave….The people have decided to call them the Karachites!….’ Fatima Continued.

‘The Karachites…..So, I guess it’s time we meet again.’ Zaro Said. He got up from his table and proceeded to walk out of the restaurant. He placed his hand at the door and then exited the restaurant.

The waiter who he had told to get his tea followed him out the door.

‘Excuse me, sir?’ The waiter called. Zaro however didn’t respond. He continued walking without looking back.

‘Don’t you want your tea?’ The waiter asked as he drew his last breath. The door began to shine bright and explode in turn causing the entire building to crumble.

Zaro stopped and looked back at the debris listening to the screams of the few crushed to death. He grinned and looked at his hands.

‘Now I wait for them to come to me….like moths to a flame.’

 Meanwhile

At the Iqbal residence the heroes are enjoying their victory with a movie.

‘Well, I think it’s time we went to bed. We have School in the morning.’ Zainab said as she got up from the sofa.

‘But, why? The movie isn’t even over yet.’ Ali stated in an annoyed tone; He picked up the remote and paused the DVD player.

‘Because if we don’t go to school how are we supposed to get jobs and make money?’ Zainab responded to Ali.

‘But we already have jobs. I mean, we just put away a bad guy. Does that not count for anything?’ Nauman said getting up from the chair he was sitting in. He began to walk over to the kitchen until he was frozen in his tracks by Zainab. Nauman could no longer move his feet.

‘We didn’t put away the bad guy. The Karachites did.’ Zainab said while walking in Naumans’ direction.

‘Wait, we’re the Karachites! You’re not making any sense.’ Nauman said as he changed into an eagle and flew into the kitchen. Zainab wasn’t having any of it she tossed an ice ball at Nauman and froze the eagle all over except for the head.

‘Go to sleep Nauman, and the rest of you as well. Good night.’ Zainab finished as she made her way to her room.

‘Well I guess I’ll go over to the guest room and sleep. You guys get to bed soon okay?’ Usman said as he got up and made his way to another rom.

‘Yea, good night Usman.’ Said Ali as he watched the eagle struggles to break free from the ice.

‘Oh, almost forgot.’ Zainab said as she ran out of her room and defrosted the eagle. Nauman turned back into his human form and began to shiver.

‘I forget how cold ice is sometimes.’ Nauman said as he covered himself in a thick blanket. Ali didn’t respond at all. He kept staring at the T.V screen deep in thought.

‘Ali, Are you okay?’ Nauman asked shivering.

‘Oh, yea sorry, I was just thinking about how summer is over and school starts tomorrow.’ Ali said turning off the DVD player and switching to the News.

‘Well, summer had to end eventually didn’t it. By the way, what do you sup..’ Nauman stopped as he directed his attention to the television.

Fatima Arshad here from On-The-Dot news once again, here to report an explosion in central Karachi. No reporters have made their way to the scene as the area has been closed off to search for the villainous Zaro the Alchemist.’

What? Zaro Escaped?’ Ali said now on his feet.

‘We must’ve missed it at the last broadcast. I’ll get the others.’ Nauman said as he got up from the chair.

‘No, we’ll check it out ourselves.’ Ali responded as he got up and went into the kitchen.

‘What are you doing?’ Nauman Asked.

‘You’ll see later…Let’s go!’ Ali said as he grabbed his costume and made his way to the front door of the house. Nauman changed into a Bird and flew out the window.

***

Zaro rested patiently upon the debris of the explosion, meditating. He could feel a change in the air and his surroundings. He carefully looked up and opened his eyes. An Eagle flying in the sky circling around him.

‘What a sight.’ Zaro said to himself as he moved his hands.

‘It’s too bad eagles don’t hunt their prey at night.’ Zaro said as he quickly slammed his hand onto the rock he was sitting on. Creating a wall, this, shielded him from the impact of the fire ball thrown by Heat-Wave.

‘You knew we were coming didn’t you?’ Heat-Wave asked as he landed in front on Zaro.

Zaro didn’t say a word. He motioned his hand from the wall he created to Heat-Wave in a throwing manner. The wall then went flying at Heat-wave who managed to avoid it. Shifter then swooped down and turned into a wolf to attack Zaro. Without looking Zaro stomped on the ground and created a fast rising pillar which hit shifter in the jaw as it was rising.

‘Was he this strong before?’ Shifter asked as he rubbed his jaw.

‘No, Stay down!’ Heat-Wave shouted as he started throwing more fire-balls at Zaro. Zaro didn’t flinch, he stomped his foot on the ground again and created another wall to stop the fire balls and then made a quick pushing motion behind the wall. Stone spikes shot from the wall and towards Heat-Wave. He had to react quickly. He fires a blast of fire from his hands and incinerated all the spikes. Zaro then made tow punching motions behind the wall and two pieces broke off and were launched in his direction.

Heat-Wave was out of breath. That last fire blast had taken up a lot of his energy. He managed to blast one of the rocks headed his way but was hit by the other with great force. Heat-Wave was now badly injured. Zaro smiled and almost as quickly as he smiled he held out his arm and grabbed shifter by the throat in his wolf form.

‘You two came alone it seems. I was expecting all four of you but this makes my work a little easier.’ Zaro said as he threw Shifter in Heat-Waves direction. Zaro then places his hand on the ground and creates a stone cage around the two heroes.

Zaro then walked up to the cage and grabbed one of it’s’ bars and changed the structure of the cage. Heat-Wave regained consciousness

‘Titanium.’ He said. ‘You had to reach your maximum temperature to burn the array I sent to you. They were relatively tin but their melting point would have to be around 400 degrees Celsius. That is not enough to melt this.’ Zaro said as Heat-Wave got back on his feet.

‘How did you escape?’ Heat-Wave asked him gasping and regaining his breath.

‘I’m an alchemist.’ Zaro laughed as he looked at his hands and back at Heat-Wave.

‘These are my tools. I can use them to create…..’ Zaro said as he held picked up a hand full of sand and changed it into a statue of Heat-Wave.

‘……Or to destroy.’ Zaro finished. The statue of Heat-Wave in his hand then turned to dust and exploded. Heat-Wave just stared at Zaro with rage. He looked at Shifter. He was still breathing. Just unconscious.

‘You won’t get away with this Zaro.’ Heat-Wave said furiously. Zaro without warning began to choke Heat-Wave and with his other hand raised the debris and covered Heat-Waves arms and legs.

‘You arrogant child! Don’t you see? You can’t win. I will destroy you and your little team one by one. And I’ll make you watch as I kill them all and kill you last.’ Zaro said looking Heat-Wave dead in his eyes. Zaro could see the rage building in his eyes and let out a small chuckle.

‘Your biggest mistake was showing up here divided. You two are all alone.’ Zaro said as he began to choke Heat-Wave harder. Heat-Wave mumbled something that was inaudible.

‘What?’ Zaro asked as he let go of Heat-Wave. Heat-Wave gasped for air looked up at Zaro and smiled.

‘Who said we came alone.’ At that moment Zaro was hit with a ball of Ice. Zaro turned around to see Permafrost and Meteorain hovering behind him.

Enraged Zaro touched the ground and launched two enormous boulders at the two heroes. Permafrost froze one of the boulders and charged right at it whereas Meteorain tossed a large molten rock at the other one. Zaro stomped on the ground and unleashed an array of stone arrows at Meteorain. Meteorain increased his body temperature and was able to melt all the arrows. Zaro charged permafrost.

Permafrost threw another ice ball at Zaro. Zaro caught the ball and changed it into an ice blade. He slashed at Permafrost who avoided the blade and fashioned one of her own using her powers. Both Zaro and Permafrost swung their blades at a clash. Zaro stopped and walked away to the centre of the Area.

‘You are all Impressive, I must say, very clever.’ Zaro said looking at Heat-Wave who was looking back with anger.

‘Although….I regret to state you four will die today.’ Zaro finished. Meteorain threw magma at Zaro who used the ice blade to cover the magma in ice and then punched it to break it. Magma and large shards of ice now fell all over the area.

‘Please save your strength. You’ll need it. For now I’m about to accomplish the most impossible act in all of alchemy!’ Zaro said raising his voice. Permafrost and Meteorain remained in battle stance as Shifter regained his consciousness. Zaro then clapped his hands together and spread them wide. The energy surging from his ring was intense. The ring began to shine a bright blinding light and all that could be heard was his laughter.

When the light faded and the heroes were restored their vision. Zaro was no longer there. What stood before them were golems, dozens of them. They were made from magma, ice and stone. All the components of the area. The golems surrounded all the heroes. Zaro laughed at a distance.

‘Alchemy, capable of many great feats, many have tired but have never succeeded in creating life. Today you witness my work. And I bid you good luck until next time. For if my hands can grant life, they can just as easily take it.’

 

To Be Continued…….

The Shadow #1

Into The Night

By: Ammar Ahmed Khan

 

The full moon was the only shed of light in the city of Islamabad. The city was silent and also felt as if it was lifeless. A young couple began to walk a dark street, smiling and laughing together. They suddenly turned to a dark alley which immediately got them to a dead end.

 

Confused, the young couple turned around to leave, but out of nowhere, a small group of thugs approached them, looking excited to see what they referred to as “fresh-meat”. The couple tried to escape from them, but eventually the thugs caught up to them and separated them. The boy was being punched to the gut on one side of the alley while the girl was suddenly cornered, unable to move away from the thugs.

 

Suddenly, the group tormenting the girl heard a series of large grunts. They turned around to see a shocking view – The boy was on his knees, injured while the thugs tormenting him were on the ground unconscious. Nothing else could be seen.

 

Another large series of grunts were heard and One of the thugs, the leader, turns around and suddenly realizes that the girl suddenly disappeared and the rest of the group were on the ground, grunting in pain.

 

The thug was suddenly terrified of this turn of events. He slowly began to walk away from the unconscious bodies, hoping that this wouldn’t happen to him. As he walked away, he felt something blocking his way.

 

“You’re not going anywhere.” said a deep, terrifying voice. The thug slowly turned around and saw a tall figure, shrouded in a dark cloth, covering his head and face. The only thing seen through it were the figure’s eyes, crimson red with anger.

 

The thug began to scream, terrified at the figures appearance. The figure seemed more furious as the thug screams. In order to shut him up, he let out a punch to the thug.

 

12 Hours Earlier.

 

It was an ordinary morning for the people of Islamabad. The streets were all of a sudden crowded with shoppers, school kids and the most common of all – Beggars. Other than that. Many of the shops in the area were beginning to open. All except one shop which has remained open over night.

 

The shop was relatively small in comparison to the rest of the shops, but it was considered as the best and only IT shop in the district. The name at the top of the shop read “Saifullah’s IT repair and Purchase.”

 

The owner of this shop seemed a man quite young and was wearing a greyish colored Shalwar Kameez. He looked tired, as if he had been standing behind the counter all night and hasn’t moved since.

 

Finally, after what felt like hours of standing, Saifullah walked to the back of the shop for a little rest. As he walked to the room, he felt a slight of sadness in him. The entire room looked as if it was destroyed – the walls were looking old with no paint, just worn out bricks, the floor was marbled, but really unevenly and as for the bed, there wasn’t any, just a pile of sheets in the corner.

 

“What did I do to deserve this.” Saifullah thought to himself as he walked to his closet. As he walked towards the closet, he opened it to find the one thing he loved the most – A black and Grey overall with an ‘S’ logo on the top left of the chest area of the overall.

 

Saifullah, as he looked at it, began to remember the time he got it as a present. It was his 18th birthday and his parents gave it to him. However even memories have tragedies. On the same day, his parents went on a business trip after which they were never seen again.

 

Since that day, Saifullah has been living in a shop, trying to make a living, but even he was starting to think that it wasn’t enough.

 

“I’m DOOMED!!!” said a voice from across the room. Saifullah quickly enetered the room to see a man in a black suit, looking worried with a laptop in his hand.

 

“I need you to fix this quick!!!” said a man as he gave the laptop to Saifullah. “How soon can you do it?…Never mind, just call me when you’re done with it!” said the man as he gave the number to Saifullah and left the shop.

 

The man ran from the shop in the limo and suddenly his phone began to ring. The man was suddenly scared by the phone.

 

“Please don’t be my boss.” the man thought to himself. He answered the phone, his voice sounding rather weak. “Hello?”

 

“I’m done.” said the voice.

 

“Who is this?”

 

“You gave me a laptop to fix five seconds ago and you immediately forgot who I am?” said the man on the other line.

 

“But how did you..?”

 

“Since I did I fixed in a such little time I’m only gonna charge you Rs. 200.”

 

“What!?”

 

“You can come out of the Limo now.” said the voice as he hung up the phone.

 

The man opened the window of the limo and found Saifullah holding the laptop in his hand, smiling at his great success.

 

“How did you fix it so quickly?” asked the man.

 

“I’m really good when it comes to IT technology, but seeing that I never went to college, no one would offer me a job.”

 

“How about I offer you one.” said the man, smiling. “My name is Andrew Swaltz.”

 

“Andrew Swaltz?” said Saifullah in complete shock. “The same Andrew Swaltz that’s in-charge of  Swaltz IT Inc.?”

 

“That’s right.” Said Andrew, smiling as he gave his business card to Saifullah, “ This card has my contact information. If you ever decide to take the job just give me a call.” Andrew continued as he closed the window of his limo and drove off.

 

Saifullah suddenly found himself looking at the business card in his hand, wondering if this decision would change his life around if he would accept the offer, but he doubted he would ever get the job.

 

“Give us your stuff!” Saifullah heard from far away. He saw two thugs trying to mug a young lady, the woman was resisting, but they were successful in taking her belongings from her.

 

“HEY!” yelled Saifullah as he walked closer to them, “Give her back her stuff!”

 

The thugs began to laugh at him. Looking at him, they couldn’t believe that Saifullah could do anything to stop them. One immediately marched towards him in order to attack, but Saifullah quickly moved aside, making the thug’s attack miss and making him fall.

 

The next thug tried afterwards, taking out a mini knife and trying to slash Saifullah, but Saifullah managed to swiftly dodge each strike.

 

“Hold still, you freak!” said the thug as he continued to slash him, but Saifullah still managed to dodge all the slashes until the thug felt a sudden pain in his stomach. This pain was too much for him to bare. The thug looked down to find Saifullah’s knee in contact with the thug’s stomach. He couldn’t believe it.

 

“How….the..hell..” said the thug before he fell to the ground, unconscious. The woman ran towards them and found the thug on the floor. She was suddenly shocked at the sight.

 

“How did you do that?” asked the woman in confusion.

 

Saifullah didn’t answer. He simply turned around, picked up the purse and bags and gave them back to the woman.

 

“Here you go ma’am.” said Saifullah. before the woman could say anything, he walked back into his shop.

 

Inside the shop, Saifullah was laying on his piled up sheets. He was thinking about what he just did not long ago.

 

“Pakistan is in a crisis because of this.” Saifullah thought to himself, “And yet, no one has a single audacity to do anything about it.”

 

He turned his head towards the closet and saw his black and gray overall. He also noticed that there was a long, dark sheet floating across the closet. It hanged behind the overall and was hovering in  the air because of the wind.

 

Looking at the overall and sheet in such a manner, Saifullah began to smile. He immediately got up from the sheet pile and picked up both the cloth and the sheets.

 

“If no one will make a change, I will.” Said Saifullah.

 

12 Hours Later

 

The thug opened his eyes, everything was beginning to look blurry, his head was hurting  badly. After a while, he regained vision, seeing that he was suddenly upside down in the alley. His body completely tied up by a rope.

 

He struggled to move his body in order to look towards the back of the alley, but no one was there. The thug was suddenly confused. The thug tried to move his body back, facing the front, but he saw the same person who he remembered punching him, his face still shrouded in the dark cloth.

 

The thug was scared by looking at him. He was so traumatized that he couldn’t even speak. The shadowy figure wore the cloth like a cape, which fell to his feet. He was wearing a black and gray overall which had a ‘S’ on the top right area of his chest.

 

“What’s going on here.” asked the thug, terrified and confused. The figure started walking away, not even looking back.

 

“Your gang has caused enough problems in this area.” Said the figure, his voice sounding dark, “The police are on their way.”

 

“Who are you?” asked the thug, it was then that the figure stopped at his tracks. He turned around to see the thug.

 

“Spread the word…” said the figure, “to all the gangs in this city. When darkness falls, and if any innocent people get hurt, I’ll be waiting to strike. Like a shadow in the darkness.”

 

“A Shadow?” asked the thug, as he looked down at the unconscious thugs, when he looked up the figure disappeared. It was at that moment that the thug was immediately terrified.

 

On that very night, the figure walked into a shop, which was empty. He lifted the hood which was covering his head – It was Saifullah.

 

“Good to know I can do something to change the world.” said Saifullah, with a smile on his face. “But I have more thing to do.”

 

Saifullah picked up the card which was given to him by Andrew Swaltz. He picked up the phone and dialed the number. The phone began to ring and after a few beeps Andrew was on the phone.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hey it’s me, I fixed your computer a couple hours ago.”

 

“Hey, how ya holding things up?”

 

“Pretty good….Listen I wanted to ask you about the job offer.”

 

“Yes?”

 

It was then that Saifullah paused to think about it. He began to wonder if this was the best idea. After a while of thinking, he finally came to an answer.

 

“When can I start?” asked Saifullah with a smile.

 

The Next Morning

 

The morning was beautiful, and was more beautiful as the sun slowly rose up to the sky. A truck was seen heading towards the newspaper stand by Saifullah’s shop. The man got out of the car, looking tired.

 

“I hate this.” said the man as he picked up the newspaper from the back of the truck. “I don’t mind doing this job at all. But why did the newspapers have to make a last minute editing, making me stay there all night?”

 

The man put the newspaper on the stands. After which he simply got back into his truck and was walking away.

 

Immediately, one of the newspapers was blown away by the wind. It was floating in the air for a moment until it landed on a mat of a house. The headline was written:

 

“The Shadow haunts the streets at night.”

Star-Light: The Symbol Of Pakistan #1

The Two Swords.

 

The History Museum of Kashmir, a place filled with culture and history. The place was silent, only the sounds of the security guards passing by could be heard. The artifacts in the museum were made visible by tiny lights in their cases, so that they could be seen by the guards. There was, however, one artifact that was not kept lit in the museum. Now that you think of it, it had never been lit in its’ case at all.

 

This particular artifact was kept in shrouded shadows from the moment it was kept on display. But there was something different about tonight – it let out a glow. The light was not bright enough to be noticed by the guards, but it was bright enough to show a vague outline of what the artifact looked like – a sword. After a while of great illumination, it slowly faded away.

 

The following morning was pleasant and dry. There was an issue with the climatic conditions in Azad Kashmir which could almost be considered dangerous. A 25 year-old college graduate, Suleman Mansoor, was just about to enter the History Museum. Suleman is not well-built, in fact, he was as skinny as could be, but he was very knowledgeable in medieval history. As he reached the gate, he recognized one of the guards to be, his best friend, Saad.

 

“How goes the business, Saad?” Suleman asked. Unlike Suleman, Saad was very fit; he was muscular to an extent that he could be considered a professional wrestler. But he and Suleman had been friends since they were in kinder-garden. Saad smiled when he saw Suleman walking up the stairs.

 

“I’m 25 years-old and I’m a security guard for a museum. You tell me how it’s going.” Said Saad; in a rather joking tone. Saad was actually pretty curious, especially when Suleman came to the Museum on a Sunday.

 

“What are you doing here at this time anyway?” Saad asked

 

“I just wanted to see the Medieval Exhibit.”

 

“Again?” said Saad, sounding rather annoyed. “Almost every time I see you here, you come with your laptop bag and a folder in your hand and want to see the exhibit. What’s so special about it anyway?”

 

“I just want to make sure my research doesn’t have any flaws. That’s all.” said Suleman, sounding serious.

 

“You haven’t changed one bit from high school have you?” Saad asked in a form of a joke, even though it was true. Suleman, since childhood, actually has been doing nothing but research for his homework, tests, assignments and research on his favorite subject – Medieval Studies. Even after 10 years, Suleman was still doing research, and what better place to do it than the Museum.

 

“What can I say, it’s like a part of me.” said Suleman, still smiling. Saad also smiled and let Suleman into the Museum. Suleman was able to catch a glimpse of the key used to open the door. The key had a small ‘M’ on the center of the key. It was also looking as if it was burnt from an explosion of some sort, but Suleman was not really curious. After a few turns of the key, a loud ‘click’ sound was heard, the door opened and Suleman successfully entered the museum.

 

On entering the Museum, Suleman felt at home. There was enough space to put an entire military army in it. Ironically enough that was only in the military exhibit. Next to it was the exhibit that made him happy – The Medieval Exhibit. Suleman quickly took out his laptop and began his research.

 

Several hours have passed and Suleman was still doing his research while going through the files, folders and the information on his laptop. Saad entered and watched from a distance. All he could see Suleman do was yawn and turn the pages in his folders.

 

“Hey Suleman, it’s time to close the Museum.” said Saad, “You’ve been working on this since morning.”

 

“It hasn’t been that long has it?” asked Suleman, almost confused.

 

Saad looked at his watch and looked towards Suleman, “It’s five minutes to midnight man, we’re almost about to close the Museum down.”

 

“Damn!” yelled Suleman, “I was in here working that long?”. Suleman immediately let out a big and loud yawn. “I couldn’t tell.”

 

Saad began to laugh and helped Suleman get up, “You should really let it go man. You’ve been working on this project as long as I’ve known you and you’re still at it.”

 

“Yea but things might be different for me soon.” said Suleman as he packed his things back into his bag, “One of these days this little ‘project’ will get me somewhere.”

 

Saad thought it was a joke. He knew that having knowledge of medieval history was not an important thing to be known for in Kashmir, let alone in Pakistan. However, he was glad that Suleman finally had some confidence in himself to be able to say this.

 

“I’m closing the Museum in 3 minutes.” said Saad as he left the exhibit, “Outside or not, I’m closing the door.”

 

Suleman gave out a chuckle as he picked up his bag. He looked at one more artifact before he left. There was a sword on display in the museum which looked very unusual to him.

 

The sword’s handle was golden but looked as if it had something engraved in it in a language he couldn’t understand. To him, it looked normal, but there was something about it that he couldn’t shake off.

 

“Why is this sword so familiar?” he thought to himself as he looked at it further. Suddenly, Suleman felt a hand on his shoulder which caused him to turn around lifting a fist. It was Saad, scared.

 

“Are you okay, man?” said Saad, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

 

Suleman continued to look at the Sword again, “It’s this sword. Something about this sword just makes me think that I’ve seen it somewhere before.”

 

Saad suddenly looks worried by what Suleman was saying, “What does he know?” he thought as he looked at the sword as well.

 

Suddenly, the clock struck midnight. A sound could be heard from the sword. Along with it the sword began to glow. The sound at first was very vague but after a few seconds, both Saad and Suleman could hear the message.

 

“The Star.” The Sword said.

 

“The what?” asked Suleman.

 

“The Star’s light will rise and the dark shall fall.” said the sword, sounding very weak.

 

“The star’s light?” asked Suleman, sounding as confused as ever. Saad carefully listened to the Sword and was scared, “No, it can’t be.” He said to himself. After a few minutes of glowing the sword stopped.

 

Suleman was petrified. He quickly looked at Saad who stood shocked.

 

“What was that?” asked Suleman as he tried to shake some sense back to Saad. Saad was immediately turning away and took Suleman with him.

 

“It was nothing.” said Saad as he took him outside the museum. “You should really get back home and take some rest. All this working must be making you hallucinate things.

 

Suleman was still confused on what was happening, but he agreed with Saad. He got out of the museum and into his car and began to drive back home. Saad was still outside and both of them waved to each other as they waved to each other goodbye and Suleman took off.

 

After Suleman’s car disappeared from Saad’s view, the smile suddenly disappeared from his face. All that he had was anger, complete and utter rage. He quickly ran back into the Museum and opened a door, far away from all the exhibits. There was a sign on the door written “Basement: For important artifacts only.”

 

Saad went down the stairs and turned on the light. There was nothing in sight in the basement except for him and another case which held a sword. The sword was not the same as the one which spoke to Suleman just now. It’s blade was not just straight, but had a pattern of spike looking blades coming out of the sides. There was a giant skull and cross-swords on the top center of the hilt of the blade.

 

Saad went closer to the sword and knelt in one knee. “I know who it is.” he told the sword. Immediately the skull’s eyes began to glow read as he spoke.

 

“Then it is time, my apprentice.” said the skull with a small evil laugh.

 

Saad was suddenly certain on what he had to do. He opened up the case and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, buddy.” he said to himself as he grabbed the sword and lifted it up in the air.

 

Suleman was in his home working on his computer. He didn’t sleep at all. He knew what he saw and was sure that it wasn’t an hallucination. He quickly went onto a search site and wrote the following:

 

“The Star’s light will rise and the Dark shall fall.”

 

Upon hitting search, he received many replies revolving around only one subject – The Black Knight. Suleman was amazed that all this was resulting to his information. Although Suleman knew everything there was to know about him, he couldn’t believe that he may have left something.

 

He started to read the information and the imaged shocked him. He quickly got his coat and ran back outside the house. In the picture, there was The Black Knight holding a sword completely identical to the sword he saw in the museum. There only one difference which made him go into shock. The hilt was not the same as the one in the museum.

 

Meanwhile, at the museum, Suleman made it and began to run towards the door. He was surprised to see that there was no lock on the door. He immediately entered the museum and started looking around.

 

“Saad!” he yelled as he looked around, “Are you here?”, there was no answer. Suddenly he felt a strike from behind him which caused him to fly towards the Medieval Exhibit and knocked over a picture of the knight of the round table.

 

Suleman’s shook his head to see again. All he could see a blurry vision of a man in a red and black armor. The armor also had a black skull on its chest and cross swords at the back of the skull.

 

“Who are you?” asked Suleman; frightened by the person. The sword in his hand glowed with a dark aura.

 

“I’ve must have hit you too hard.” Said the figure, laughing, “Because I can’t believe you could forget your own best friend.”

 

Suleman was in shock after hearing those words. He could not believe what he just said. “Saad?” said Suleman, “Is that you?”.

 

“Oh I’m not Saad anymore.” said the figure as he raised his sword and pointed it towards Suleman. “Call me….The Marauder.”

 

The Marauder then began to moved his sword towards Suleman to slash him, but Suleman quickly slid down and rolled away. The Marauder was very happy about this. He actually thought he would have some fun killing him.

 

“Why are you doing this Saad?” Said Suleman as he tried to run away and hid behind artifacts.

 

“Did you really think I wanted to do this.” said Saad as he broke through every artifact in the Exhibit. “I’m doing this because this is my destiny!”

 

“What!?”

 

“You heard me!” said The Marauder, sounding much more furious. It’s our destiny to fight! You’re the Star.”

 

Suleman still didn’t know what he was talking about. Suleman was now slowly moving back away as possible. “What do you mean by that?” he yelled as he back away, hoping it would distract him. Apparently the attempt was successful.

 

“The Star is the Descendent of The Black Knight!” yelled the Marauder as he kept on looking for Suleman. “You have the power to wield the Sword of Toor.”

 

Suleman was again confused but he knew what the sword of Toor was. The powerful Sword used by The Black Knight during the early days of the reign of the kingdom of toor. Suleman was still slowly crawling backwards until he accidentally hit a podium and a glass case fell which contained a sword.

 

The sound of shattered glass helped The marauder in finding Suleman. He jumped in mid air and was floating towards Suleman in great speed.

 

“Use the Sword!” Suleman heard. He turned to the direction of the shattered glass and saw the sword of Toor. As The Marauder gained closer towards Suleman, he grabbed the Sword.

 

On grabbing the sword, there was a flash of light which caused The Marauder to be blinded for a minute and made him fall back into a podium. The only thing heard by Marauder was a high pitch scream which later turned to a strong grunt.

 

When the light fainted, Suleman was no where to be seen. The only person shown was a tall buffed man in a green suit. However a short amount of his wrists were white and  there was  symbol of a crescent moon from his right shoulder to the left part of his chest. There was also a star in front of the star in the direct center. The symbol was the same as the image of the Pakistan Flag.

 

“Saad.” said the figure as he walked closer. “You heart has been corrupted by Evil. And I shall vanquish it.”

 

“And who are you supposed to be?…Tinkerbell?” Asked The Marauder, but the figure jumped towards him and both the swords clashed against each other.

 

“I’m Starlight!” yelled the figure as he pushed the sword further in order to attack Marauder. But The Marauder was strong enough to move away and run.

 

“You may have a new power Suleman.” said The Marauder as he was running away, “But I have something that will defeat you.”

 

In that moment, The Marauder threw his sword in the air and it instantly split into two swords. He quickly grabbed the two swords and began to run towards Starlight.

 

Starlight was able to sense The Marauder coming towards him and hurried in blocking him. The Marauder then brought out his second sword and moved it towards his knee, but Starlight quickly jumped in the air and tried to slash the sword out of his hand, but due to The Marauder’s movement, the sword slashed the Marauder through his chest.

 

Starlight was suddenly sad at this attack and quickly turned back into Suleman. But the body was no longer there, only the costume which remained lifeless. Suleman could hear an evil laughter in the Museum.

 

“You may have won this battle.” said the voice, “But I’ll be back even stronger.”

 

Suleman was now angry. His best friend was possessed by an evil force and turned against him because the sword chose Suleman. He wasn’t the best friend he knew from his childhood.

 

“I swear to you Saad,” said Suleman as he grabbed the hilt of his sword tight, “I will save you from this evil. I will stop this evil from causing any more damage to this world.”

 

Suleman then walked out of the museum, hopping to fulfill this promise for his friend and for the world.