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Daniel was intrigued by the counselors that Gerard Ripley had provided for him to help soothe his psychological trauma. All three were members of Basilisk, but none of them were really criminals, which gave Daniel hope that Ripley didn’t have some sinister criminal plan for him. He had to admit that the three had been very friendly and helpful to him.
He had already formed a friendship with Michael Cannon, codenamed Pathos. Pathos had shadows under his eyes, giving him a weary look no matter his mood. He had a quiet, humble nature, and it was evident that he also had great reserves of inner strength. Due to his ability to perceive the trauma of others, he had compassion and understanding, but was angry toward those who tried to justify or dismiss cruelty. He was a pacifist, though he could “put the hurt” on someone if the situation called for it, and he primarily served as a counselor.
Daniel also got along well with Dago Estaban, codenamed Dharna. Not to be confused with “dharma”, dharna, literally meaning “placing”, is a method of non-resistance in which one fasts and sits by a person’s doorstep to obtain compliance for a just demand, such as repayment of a debt. It ends when the demand is met or the practitioner dies. Dago had earned that alias through his determination and patience. He had a casual attitude, displayed by him usually wearing his jacket tied around his waist, but he also had a no-nonsense attitude toward his duties and treatment of others. He had a good heart, using the resources he gained from membership in Basilisk to serve as a philanthropist. He also seemed to know about suffering. Daniel wondered if Dharna’s arm tattoos, resembling barbed wire, were meant to be symbols of some past suffering.
As interesting as those two were, Daniel was most intrigued by Simon Lee Kirby, codenamed Sacrifice. First off, though the emblems were usually worn underneath his shirt, Sacrifice wore a necklace with both a Latin cross and a Star of David. It reminded Daniel of Elvis Presley, who purportedly said he wore both a cross and a Star of David because he didn’t want to miss out on Heaven due to a technicality. Sacrifice’s devotion, kindness, and humility were obvious. When Daniel complimented him on his character, he thanked him for the compliment, but also told him, “My righteousness is as filthy rags.” Daniel was also fascinated by the fact that even though Sacrifice was grateful for every day, he had a nonchalant attitude toward his life, genuinely not caring if he lived or died. Sacrifice sometimes had to leave to use the bathroom during their counseling sessions, and every time he did Pathos and Dharna, worthy of respect themselves, watched him with an air of sadness and respect. Daniel couldn’t help but wonder what that meant.
One afternoon Daniel was having a session with Pathos and Dharna when Sacrifice entered. They exchanged greetings and Sacrifice once again became alone in his thoughts. He had just had a discussion with Ripley. They had realized that there was only one reason Daniel’s captors would experiment on someone, granting them increased power, and then subject him to psychological torment: they wanted to create a killing machine. Ripley and Sacrifice both agreed that they needed to help Daniel recover from his trauma. Whether or not he agreed to join them, they couldn’t allow him to become a mad dog.
Sacrifice’s thoughts were interrupted by Daniel suddenly asking him, “How did you get involved with this bunch?”
“Hmm? Oh.” He smiled. “That’s a fair question. What happened was Ripley and I met one night. He learned my story and offered me a position.”
His expression became serious as he began to share his story. “You see, we’re not entirely different. Like you, I got my powers as the result of an experiment. However, I wasn’t captured by someone and used as a guinea pig. I conducted an experiment on myself. I used to work as a lab worker, and I experienced…a traumatic incident. Both the Old and New Testament say that vengeance is the Lord’s, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that.”
Daniel thought of all the dark fantasies he’d had about taking revenge on his former captors and agreed, “Yeah. It is, isn’t it?”
“After the incident I desired to gain superpowers and become an avenger. I knew about some experimental ionic energy particles and decided to take a calculated risk.” He glanced at one of his arms. “After obtaining the particles, I began injecting them into my bloodstream every day over a period of several weeks. I only injected small amounts at a time to give my body a chance to adjust. The experiment was a success, granting me my powers.”
He concentrated and became surrounded by a fluorescent blue violet aura. His clothes merged into his body, which had turned fluorescent blue, and his eyes turned completely white. He explained, “I have heightened abilities and am nearly invulnerable, and in this energy state I’m even more powerful. I can use this energy to burn others if I want and also fire energy blasts.”
He resumed his normal form and sighed before continuing. “I’m sure you’ve noticed my frequent bathroom breaks. My health problems are directly related to how I obtained the experimental particles. Do you want to know why I call myself ‘Sacrifice’?”
He turned his back to Daniel and removed his jacket. Judging by the reactions of Pathos and Dharna, they knew what was coming. Dharna turned to regard him with the same air of sadness and respect, only now he looked more unsettled. Pathos refused to look, instead staring ahead in thought. After setting his jacket on a chair, Sacrifice pulled up his shirt. On the left side of his back near his hip he had a curved scar.
Realizing what had happened, Daniel exclaimed, “What in blazes?! You mean you…”
“Mmm-hmm.” He re-tucked his shirt. “I know it’s grisly, but I got the particles and a young woman got a life without dialysis, so it worked out for the best.” As he put his jacket back on he added, “Don’t feel sorry for me. There are lots of people all over the world who did the same thing I did, but they often didn’t get anything for it. They got swindled by heartless monsters which made promises and then didn’t deliver on their end of the deal.” He shook his head angrily. “They’ll get what’s coming to them someday.”
He turned back to Daniel and noted, “We all have something wrong inside us, in different ways.”
As Daniel absorbed everything he had just learned, he understood the awe that Pathos and Dharna had for their associate. It wasn’t just because of his power, but also because of his toughness and heart. He found himself wishing that he had that same inner peace.
Written by Raidra