Chapter 73: Bait

A loud knocking woke him up.

Apparently the drunk had found his way back to his hotel. At least he wasn’t lucid enough to realize he’d need to go to the front desk if he lost his key. It gave Unimportant some warning before he’d barge in and see the slept in bed.

The drunk had been passed out in the back of his car. Unimportant hadn’t enjoyed grabbing his hotel key, but he wasn’t going to use it and Unimportant hadn’t felt like spending another night on a bench. He’d had trouble sneaking into cabs and buses the last few days and hadn’t been able to make his way home before his mom locked up.

The pounding stopped and he rushed to the door. He heard the man stumbling down the hallway and checked the peephole to be sure.

He left the man’s key on the table and quietly ducked out of the room.

The man’s elevator was already long gone, but luckily that was the one piece of transportation he could actually handle himself.

The elevator stopped three times on the way to the lobby. Each new passenger looked oddly at the space where Unimportant was before joining the others huddled a little more closely to the far wall than they would normally be comfortable with.

The doors opened on the bottom floor and the others quickly dashed out of the elevator with confused expressions. Unimportant slowly followed them.

He followed their paths to the hotel’s buffet. If he had to steal food to eat, at least he could take it from where it wouldn’t be missed. In moments eggs and bacon were piled high onto his plate, and he chose a table hidden in a back corner to sit at.

He ate in silence. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he had bothered to talk. For the first weeks, he had spoken aloud to keep himself entertained. The novelty had worn off quickly. The noise of other people’s lives drowned out any attempts in crashing waves.

With his meal finished, he reached into his bag and pulled out a map of the city. In the time since he had decided to avenge his brother’s fate, it had transformed into a series of notes and interconnected points. The scrawl was crude and it had been erased and written over so many times that that anyone who didn’t know what it was already could never hope to read its contents.

But to him the map represented the only goal he still had in this life. Asclepios’s distribution network had taken a massive hit after the riots, but there was only so much that could be done. Asclepios had spent decades building up the underground network that made his distribution possible, even a dedicated hunt could only do so much.

But Unimportant didn’t have to justify his actions or follow the guidelines that the police did. And other heroes could only afford to focus on the drug trade so much when more visible and immediate threats were appearing in the city. He may not have been the best person to bring Asclepios to his knees, but he had been dealt a better hand than anyone willing to try.

And so, Unimportant dedicated himself to dismantling the network piece by piece.  But even with his goal in mind even as he moved forward with a singular purpose in mind; he knew he was still running away.

Every night he lay awake with that face resting beneath his eyelids. That simple, unassuming face that had managed to fill him with more fear than he had ever experienced in his life. The man had leaked so much rift radiation that for a moment he had failed to realize what it was. It was like he had stumbled across the active gates of two dozen sliders in the same place.

No slider should have been able to generate that much radiation, and he was leaking it passively. It had felt like the first time Unimportant had ever sensed the rift of a different slider; it was so similar to what he had unknowingly been producing, but at the same time it was so alien that he could barely comprehend its existence. This man encompassed every wave of radiation he had ever felt, but behind that all a singular wavelength echoed out, more powerful than all the others combined. In his heart he knew who it was, who it had to be.

Eclipse, the first slider, the immortal enemy of all mankind. No one really knew how his power let him keep coming back no matter how many times he was killed or driven away, but there was no doubt that anything he had turned his attention on was already doomed.

So Unimportant had run, and no matter how much time had passed, he still felt like he was running.

His finger lazily traced the most recent line he had drawn on the map. It led to a large chain store on the far side of town. He couldn’t confirm for sure that it was a distribution point, but the last seller he’d taken down had stopped by there much more often than he needed to pick up trash bags.

He carefully folded up the map and set it into his bag. He’d have to hurry if he wanted to find a ride.

He was just about to sneak onto the bus when it happened. A sudden weight nearly pushed him to the ground.

His eyes were immediately drawn to the south. It was rift radiation, but unlike any he had ever felt. If Eclipse’s radiation had been a sound it would have been deafening, if it was light it would have left him blind for life. This radiation wasn’t loud or bright, but it hit him with a force he couldn’t explain. It was calling to him.

The bus had already pulled away, but his destination had changed.

Unimportant stared at the rift piercing the sky.

He set his shoulders straight with all the confidence he had left and started walking.

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