“Sorry kid, haven’t seen anything?” The butcher down the street turns back to a customer as Ryaan Asfour asks again for any sign of the man in red who attacked the rally in Millennium Park. That’s the twentieth business he’s checked today but not a single employee or customer can do more than confirm they watched the rally on TV and they saw the guy there.
As way of thanks for saving the Chicago Aquarium the city held a rally to celebrate the Goggle Guys. A pair of vigilantes Ryaan can’t stand, they were in the right place at the right time and stopped a bombing. Celebrating them gets more complicated though when you take into account the totality of their record. They have no problem terrorizing and profiling minority communities. That’s almost all they’ve done since signing up under the Vigilantes Making Us Safe Act. This one action may have been great but many people were disgusted to be celebrating people for one good act while ignoring all the hurt they’ve caused. Ryaan certainly was.
He wasn’t alone apparently because a man in red attacked the rally, first with what looked like a bomb and when that failed he stormed the stage with a sword. Ryaan was put in the awkward position of stepping in to protect people who would gladly shoot him in the back if given the chance. He did the right thing and fought the man off. Now the whole city’s looking for this man in red. From the man’s comments he believes he’s from his community. It could even be someone he knows. If he gets caught he’s going to be publicly flayed. Ryaan wants to find him first and convince him to turn himself in. He’s not sure he can do it but he feels he has to try. He understands the mindset of wanting to take those guys off the board. He just can’t support murder.
Back on the street, faces follow him. A couple of kids whisper as he walks by. A little boy’s eyes go wide as they see him and they rush down the street after him. The boy’s dad swings him off the ground to stop him. The Rebel’s starting to gain a following in the neighborhood and more people recognize him. That should make him nervous as he’s not officially registered as a vigilante and he’s actually too young to register. With vigilantes popping up in every corner though nobody has time to track them all. Unless he gives the police a reason to dig into his background he can probably keep going forever.
Without any more shops to check, Ryaan’s out of ideas. He’s checked in the Mosques, he’s checked shops, he’s checked every place he thinks a middle eastern man would be especially likely to go. Without any other ideas he’s left spinning his wheels hoping something falls into place. There are still plenty of places outside his neighborhood he could check but this is too big a city for him to go over with a fine toothed comb. If nobody in his neighborhood, one of the areas of the city housing the most people from the middle east, has a clue there’s a good chance he’s never going to find the man.
Cutting down a side street, Ryaan’s glad nobody follows. A few times in recent weeks he’s had a hard time shaking a crowd. It’s hard to be a vigilante when people won’t leave you alone. Criminals see you coming. He does better at night but getting out of the house after dark’s a different challenge. He’s found a couple good places to lose a group when needed but they’re out of the way and when he needs to get home by dinner he doesn’t want to go running two miles out of his way. He certainly can’t lead them home though and he can’t change out of his costume with people around.
It’s a windy day which helps take the edge off the heat. It’s over ninety and his mask makes him feel like he’s in a sauna. He wants to take it off and stuff it in his bag but he has to retrieve that bag first. It’s stuffed in the dog house behind an abandoned house a few blocks from home. The place was foreclosed on last year so he knew it would be empty. He realized quickly that carrying the same backpack as the Rebel was a good way to tie them together so he’s been stashing it every chance he gets.
Nearing the abandoned house, Ryaan thinks he hears something behind him. He turns around but doesn’t see anything. It’s windy and that’s probably what he’s hearing but something doesn’t feel right. He gets back on his path but soon he hears it again. It sounds like a clanking of some sort but he can’t place it. He turns but again doesn’t find anything there. He wants to dismiss it as the wind but the wind generally doesn’t clank. His hand edges toward his knives.
For weeks Ryaan’s been terrified that a local gang he tipped the police off about are going to come after him. Their leader figured out who he is and threatened both him and his family. He’s worked hard to watch his back and he thought he had it handled. Following the advice of a Police Officer he knows, Ryaan sent them a letter advising he’d stay out of their dealings as much as possible if they don’t come after him. He also advised that he has a failsafe set up so that if he or any of his family is seriously harmed in any suspicious way he’ll have everything he knows about their operation sent to the news. It might not be enough for an arrest but it would certainly make the papers.
They’ve left him alone so far and he expected that to continue. Who would be following him though? Who would be good enough to avoid being seen twice when he thought he had them? Hearing the noise for the third time Ryaan doesn’t turn. He rubs his hand along his leg as he walks. Right as he hears a step he lifts his arm and grabs the staff from the holster on his back. His original model broke during a recent fight but luckily he ordered two when he got started. If anything that makes him more cautious. If he has to replace this one he’s going to have a hard time coming up with the funds. As he spins he presses the button to expand the staff, making it grow. The staff doubles in size as he turns and he ducks while swinging it. He lands a hit right in the knee of his pursuer.
As he turns Ryaan catches a glimpse of red and his eyes start to go wide. Did the man in red track him down? Is it because he thwarted his attempt to take out the Goggle Guys or because he keeps asking about him? As his staff swipes through the man following him’s legs he tumbles to the ground. Amid the red Ryaan sees flashes of light skinned flesh. A few parts of the robe like suit the man wears have brown stripes as well. The man at the rally definitely wasn’t white and his suit was only red. This is someone else.