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       Dark Guardian: Shadows Of The City, p.1

          
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Dark Guardian: Shadows Of The City


  Dark Guardian:

  Shadows of the City

  Ammar Habib

  DARK GUARDIAN: SHADOWS OF THE CITY

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously, and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.

 

  Copyright © 2017 by Ammar Habib

  This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author(s).

  For more information, please visit:

  www.ammarahsenhabib.com

  Other works by the author include:

  Dark Guardian

  Dark Guardian: A New Dawn

  Memories Of My Future

  To learn about Ammar’s works and to know what’s coming up, please subscribe to his newsletter at:

  https://eepurl.com/cTopbv

 

  A Message for You

  Dear Friend,

  I’m truly honored to share Dark Guardian: Shadows of the City with you. This short, standalone story takes place between the first two novels of the Dark Guardian Series, Dark Guardian & Dark Guardian: A New Dawn. I wrote it so that readers considering the series will get a taste of Ethan Daniel’s adventures as The Guardian, the vigilante feared by every criminal in Crown City.

  For those that may be new to the series, this story takes place after Ethan has donned the mask of The Guardian. Using The Guardian as a symbol, he is leading a movement and battling against the corruption and crime that has plagued his city and country. This story follows him after he hunts down a deadly gang in the sewers who have kidnapped a doctor.

  At the behest of readers, I hope to publish many of Ethan’s shorter standalone adventures and battles as one-off short stories. I continue to find the creation of this series to be a personal quest that is every bit as transformative as Ethan Daniels’ own journey. I was just out of high school when I started writing this series and the process of writing it and navigating the creative and business side of the writing world continues to be an adventure.

  I’d like to end by thanking you. An author is nothing without his readers and I truly appreciate your support. I do not take it lightly that readers select my work out the countless works available. I look forward to the honor of hearing your thoughts someday. If this is your first time reading any of my works, thank you for taking a chance on it. And for those that have read my other works, I truly appreciate your continued support. Enjoy!

  Your friend,

  Ammar

  Dark Guardian: Shadows of the City

  The last bloodied corpse dropped to the dirty floor, joining the countless bodies littering the gang’s den.

  Minutes ago, all the men had been alive as they rummaged through their new stash of firearms. But then he came: The Guardian. It was the vigilante—the legend—that every criminal in Crown City feared.

  The lights flickered. Then his cold voice drowned out their voices. Slowly turning, they saw him standing at their lair’s entrance. Concealed in the shadows of his darkened hood and cloak, he stood tall with a long dagger in one hand and a throwing knife in the other. His masked eyes looked directly at the gang’s leader.

  He gave them a choice to surrender. They didn’t take it.

  The Guardian charged right at them. Moving with inhuman speed and attacking with perfect precision, he cut down every single soul with his sharpened blades. His blows were brutal. Swift. Merciless. The gang didn’t have a chance. None of them did. Not against him. Not against this ghost that haunted the nightmares of every thug and goon in the world’s largest city.

  Bullets lit up the room and curses shook its walls. But they couldn’t gun or beat him down. Not with their weapons or numbers. He cut them down as if they were flies, his blades merciless. The thugs dropped dead one after the other. Some by his daggers and some as they were thrown into friendly fire. And the last man standing was the leader, Raul. With his back against the wall, Raul’s empty pistol quivered in his hand as he aimlessly pointed it at The Guardian. The vigilante took his time, stalking up towards his prey with his bloodied dagger clenched in his tight fist.

  Raul begged for mercy, but his cries went unheard. The pistol dropped from his hand as he promised information. It didn’t change his fate. With one brutal motion, The Guardian drove his blade straight through Raul’s heart, its tip ripping out of the gangster’s back and into the wall. He left the blade there for a moment, watching life leave Raul’s eyes before wrenching the blade out and letting the corpse slump to the floor.

  The battle ended as soon as it began. The Guardian still stood tall. His foes didn’t.

  Just like countless other gangs over these past few months, this one disappeared into the night. But it’s what they deserved after the lives they had destroyed in their greed and quest for power.

  The fight now over, The Guardian sheathed his bloodied daggers on his belt. He turned away from the corpse. Under his red and black mask were the eyes of Crown City’s famed son, Ethan Daniels. His gaze falling back onto the dirty, darkened den, he slowly readjusted the throwing knives hanging from his belt. His fitted tactical suit mirrored his mask’s pattern and displayed his perfect physique. The grey cloak still hung from his shoulders and he again threw the hood over the back of his head. Russet boots covered his feet while brown gloves went up his forearms, nearing his elbows.

  There was some blood splattered on his uniform, but none was his own. He had been lethally fast, his inhuman agility and strength outclassing his foes at every level. Stepping over the corpses and back towards the entrance of the gang’s hideout, The Guardian came to a halt as he heard a buzzing in his ear.

  “You copy, Ethan?”

  Hearing the voice of his closest companion, William, The Guardian touched his earpiece. “I read you.”

  “We’ve got a situation. Officer Mason called it in.”

  “Tell me.”

  “We’ve got a missing doctor. A psychiatrist named Dr. Paul.”

  “Where’d he go missing?”

  “On his way home from church. He’s the doctor who was helping rehabilitate the men who used to be a part of—”

  “Pierce’s gang. I know. Pierce had been gassing his men with hallucinogens and toxins, mutating their physique and making them crazy. Crazy enough to follow his madness. Pierce is a psychopath.”

  “You mean ‘was’. Pierce is dead. There were eyewitnesses.”

  “But never a body.”

  There was a pause on William’s end. “What happened with Raul and his pack?”

  The Guardian’s gaze drifted back onto the corpses. “It was a dead end.”

  ***

  Atop of a sleek, black motorcycle, The Guardian sped through Crown City’s highway. His cloak and hood wildly flew in the air behind him as the rush of wind beat against him. The speedway was nearly empty of any other vehicles. As Crown City had grown accustomed to over the last few years, the streets were almost bare at this hour of night. For being the largest city in the world, Crown City’s night life was a deserted one. The only ones on the prowl were criminals and street thugs.

  But things were slowly beginning to change.

  Months ago, Ethan and William began their war against the corruption and crime that had plagued Crown City and its nation of Tripton for too many years. Bringing together some of the nation’s most influential citizens, they began a movement against the nation’s unjust rulers—a movement led under The Guardian’s symbol.

  Ever since then, The Guardian worked tirelessly cleaning up the streets. As one of the wealthiest men in the nation, Ethan used his resources to help the less fortunate. And wearing the mask of the vigilante, Ethan fought night and day in this seemingly endless war against the underworld and corruption.

  Not even a month ago, he had again served the government a wake-up call when he murdered a senator in broad daylight. That senator had butchered a woman the night before in an effort to hide a dirty secret. After that, the government strengthened its Martial Law on Crown City in an effort to quell the marches that continued to put an ever-growing strain on the economy. However, all the generals, officers, and soldiers knew better than to follow through on their threats of shooting into crowds that wouldn’t disperse. The Guardian eliminated any soldier or officer that harmed a citizen, leaving no respect for this so-called Marital Law.

  Even criminals were on the run. Dealers like Raul’s gang were turning up dead every night. The power structure of organized crime continued to diminish with each passing day. Street by street, The Guardian was systematically wiping crime out of his city. With his superhuman strength, speed, and arsenal of weapons, these common street thugs remained no match for him.

  But the darkness seemed to be retaliating. The longer Ethan fought, the harder the enemy battled back. Along with that came the crazies, the lunatics like Pierce. They crawled out of the shadows of this city.

  And Ethan was the only one who could put them down.

  ***

  “Long night, officer?”

  Hearing the cold voice, Mason turned around to see The Guardian step out from the shadows. In the church’s mammoth nave, Mason stood next to the front-most wooden pew a few feet away from the pulpit. The high ceiling and tall walls surrounding them were the crux of medieval, gothic architecture. With only a few lights on outside of the sanctuary’s illumination, most of the grand hall was dimly lit at best.

  The Guardian took a few steps to close the gap between Mason and him. There was nobody else in the expansive chamber. However, the lights of numerous police vehicles spilled in through the weathered rose windows that decorated the church’s walls. Fast falling rain continued to pelt the windows and walls, continuously echoing throughout the building.

  Mason peeled off his police cap and ran his free hand through his short hair. Young for his rank, his face displayed the stress of the job. Being an honest cop in Crown City was not a task for the weak-hearted. “You ever thought of using the front door?’

  Stopping in front of the officer, The Guardian looked down at the pew Mason stood next to. “Is this where he sat?”

  “According to the priest this is where Dr. Paul always sat when he came.”

  The Guardian’s eyes set back on the officer. “What’s the situation?”

  “Dr. Paul came here like he did every Thursday. There’s no mass, but enjoyed being here when it was quiet. The priest says that Paul would pray for his patients. He did his prayers, sat for a while, then left.”

  “And then?”

  “The priest heard a scream and a thud right when Paul went out the doors. By the time he got there, Paul was gone.”

  “Any trails?”

  “Not at first. The storm is making it tough to spot clues. No security cameras here either. But then we discovered that they’d taken him underground into the sewage system. It’s the fourth kidnapping done like this—where the victim is taken underground I mean. Every time—”

  “The victim washes out of the sewers dead. Executed,” The Guardian finished. “Paul disappeared nearly an hour ago. He doesn’t have long.”

  There was a flash of thunder that caused the church’s very walls to tremble, but neither man flinched. Mason slowly nodded, digesting The Guardian’s words. “We sent a team down there after them. But it’s a damn maze. This city is old and the labyrinth down there shows it. We’ve got people working on it—”

  “By the time they discover anything, Paul will be dead. Pull your men back.”

  “What are you trying to say?”

  “I’m going after him.” Reaching under his cloak, The Guardian kept his eyes on the officer. He revealed a small device and tossed it to Mason.

  Mason caught it before glancing down at the apparatus. “What is it?”

  “I’ll keep in touch through it, and it’ll let you track me.” The Guardian turned around. “Once this is done, destroy it. Try to use it to track me after tonight or find out who I am and it’ll be the last mistake you ever make.”

  Without another word, The Guardian left.

  ***

  William sat before the master computer in The Guardian’s extensive lair. The enormous base of operations was shrouded in darkness, save for the bright lights emitting from the three mammoth screens in front of William.

  Making a sound, the screen immediately pulled up several boxes of information. One was an image of Dr. Paul. The middle-aged, dark-skinned psychiatrist’s hair was a mix of black and white. His face was slightly overweight, but clean-shaven. Under the image was some basic information. A native of Crown City, he’d attending medical school and ran his medical practice here. A few years ago, the city had hired him to try and rehabilitate the prison’s mentally insane criminals. So far his work had proven effective to an extent.

  A second box displayed the headshot of another man: Pierce. The lean man’s face displayed a large tattoo of a scythe on his left cheek. Just like William conveyed to Ethan, Pierce was presumed dead according to the police records that pulled up alongside his picture. It was nearly seven months ago that a firefight erupted between his gang and the police, resulting in him blowing himself up before his entire gang was either taken down or arrested.

  William skimmed through the police report. Everything looked to be in order, save for one thing. It was the officer who confirmed the death: Shaun O’Hara. The name suddenly brought a vile image of the deceased officer to William’s mind. O’Hara was as bad as they came in the police force, a corrupt officer in every sense of the word. From bribery to abusing his power, he’d been involved in everything. Everything including the death of William’s wife nearly two and a half years—

  Shaking his head, William forced out the memories of his past. He’d slain O’Hara months ago. But the fact that O’Hara was the one who confirmed Pierce’s death called everything into question. Pressing a button on his keyboard, William kept his eyes on the screen as he waited for a voice to come out of the computer.

  “I’m here.”

  Hearing Ethan, William replied as he quickly punched away on the keyboard. “You were right. Pierce’s death was confirmed by O’Hara. That means he’s likely still alive.”

  “He won’t be after tonight.”

  “Are you after him?”

  “I’m entering the sewage system now. No doubt his gang will be with him after the major breakout in the prison’s psychiatric wing two months ago.”

  “Turn on your tracker—never mind, I’m receiving it now. I’m pulling up the schematics of the sewage system. I’m also picking up that somebody else is on the tracker’s frequency.”

  “It’s Mason.”

  William’s eyebrow rose. “You trust him?”

  “I’ll need him. For tonight at least. Pull up any information we have on Pierce’s gang. I need to know what I’m up against.”

  “Already on it.”

  ***

  The murky water surrounding Ethan’s boots felt thick. A mix of liquid and gunk, it resisted every step he took. The circular sewage tunnel itself was brick walled and nearly ten feet tall. The bricks were weathered after decades of service and the whole place reeked. Dim lights occasionally lined up the sides, but many of them were flickering or barely functioning.

  But he trudged forward. Some rats scurried around the edges and he stepped over some dead snake skin. Nothing he didn’t expect. This part of the sewer was a long straight tunnel, but it’d soon break up into several passages. By that time, William would have a lead. Ethan slowly traversed the tunnel as he kept his senses sharp. Pierce wasn’t an idiot, even in all his craziness. He’d know that The Guardian would come for him sooner or later and would have a plan.

  In the distance, he caught the sounds of a sewage outfall. The running water nearly mimicked a small waterfall. As soon as he heard it, a face shot into his mind. It was the light waiting for him at the end of his mission’s dark tunnel:

  Katrina.

  It had been months since he last saw her beautiful face. He remembered standing on the bridge of Swan Park right next to a small waterfall. He remembered her unexpectedly meeting him there after his mission as The Guardian began and promising to wait for him. He remembered giving her the ring and the warmth of her embrace.

  Every night, every time he closed his eyes, she filled the void. He felt her warmth… her love. He felt the touch of her hand and witnessed the glow of her beautiful, smiling face. It was almost as if—

  Hearing a buzz in his ear followed by William’s voice, Ethan’s thoughts were quickly dispersed. “How is it down there?”

  “Dark and dirty.”

  “I guess that’s what’s to be expected.”

  “I’m linking my feed now.” Ethan pressed a button in his earpiece. In the next instant, everything he was seeing through his mask was being streamed onto the master computer in the warehouse.

  “You’re right. It is dirty. Bet it stinks too.”

  “You’re welcome to join me.”

  “It’s a tempting offer.”

  “Schematics pulled up?”

  “Crown City’s old and the sewage system is what you’d imagine. It’s a maze.”

  “What are you thinking?”

  “I’ve got a most possible route pulled up. If travelling as a group and taking an unwilling hostage, they wouldn’t go into the deeper water areas. I’m sending the route to you.”

 
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