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Origins (Arrowhawk's Friday the 13th Vignette)

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Aberdeen University Halls of Residence, Friday 19th May 1989 3.00 AM

John Fraser crashed through the door of his student flat, startling awake its inhabitants. The flat was dingy, with a distasteful grey carpet and cheap grey furniture. "John? That you?" murmured Brendan from under the book open over his face.

"God dammit, man, stop barging in drunk at this time," came a voice from the armchair on the other side of the room. Steve had been lying there asleep, also with a book over his face. Brendan and Steve were both really heavily in debt, so if they didn't study and lost their scholarship money, they'd be in trouble.

John ignored their protests and tottered through to his room, asleep before he hit the bed. He was fairly lucky, his parents being moderately rich and being smart enough to ace all his classes. That's why he could afford to go out partying most weekends.

He awoke an hour later, startled by a loud bang. "Whu... wha... who..." he managed as he rolled onto the floor and lurched upwards and through his door. It was dark and his vision was blurry, so he flicked the light switch on...

... he threw up on the spot. Brendan lay there with a bullet through his forehead as two dark-clad men bickered in loud whispers. "I told you to put a silencer on it, you moron!" They turned at the sound of retching and sighed.

"We were told he was out... well, we've paid off the killings of these guys. Pigs might not look so kindly on us killing him." The taller one grabbed John by the throat and lifted him up. He could see Steve lying on the floor behind the armchair. "They didn't pay in time. Steer clear and you'll not have to see them for a looong while, got that?" He dropped the struggling student and went to leave the room with his partner. He was hindered by a hungover biology student running up behind him and smashing a chair over his head, shouting in rage. Still not in a great state, though, he was easily tossed backwards over the breakfast bar and lay there concussed. He vaguely heard shouts and struggles, and a few more gunshots before passing out...

Wednesday 24th May 1989 12.00 pm

John stood in a black suit looking at the four fresh graves. Brendan Jarvis. Steve Cooper. Julia Dawson. Blake Davies. The latter two had been killed after a few... stupid was the only word John could think of... students had pushed the two mobsters too far in the attempt to catch them. He smiled wryly and walked away. Four people, dead for no reason other than money and pride. What was the point of that? There had to be a way to stop them. The police were too corrupt, the government didn't care and ordinary people lived in fear of the mob and the gangs of thugs.

No man could stand up to them. But a legend... a figure in black like the Raven... they could do it. The people needed a hero... no, a superhero. So, for the next year, John trained in unarmed combat, archery and stealth. He barely slept, he fell behind in classes and abandoned all his friends. Most put it down to trauma, but it wasn't that. It was the mission. It had to be done.

Saturday 19th May 1992 3.00 AM

The figure stood shivering on a rooftop, looking at a warehouse. The mob used it to traffic drugs into the city. His city. With the rain beating down around him, and the bright white hawk motif visible on his chest even in the dim lighting, black cloak streaming behind him, the Arrowhawk fired a grapple line to the warehouse and slid along it.

He crashed down through the skylight, into the midst of a gang of thick-set mob flunkies moving boxes out of the back of a truck. Before they could react, a sharp-tipped arrow flew into the tire and punctured it. "Ever had one really, really horrific night?" laughed the black-clad figure, the shadows under his hood revealing a black mask with red eyes.

Later, he stood watching it burn, the unconscious mobsters tied up outside with a note. 'You'll have some more for your cells soon.' He signed it with his new name. The Arrowhawk. Walking off into the rain and darkness unseen, John Fraser smiled wryly once more. And kept on walking.

Friday 13th February 2009 3.00 AM

John sat up straight in bed, sweat dripping from every pore. He was breathing hard, a look of shock still visible on his face and a barely suppressed urge to vomit in his belly. Getting up, he walked over to the window and looked out into the night. Try as he might, he couldn't get the image of those four graves from his mind.

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