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Dark Guardian:

Long Nights


Ammar Habib



DARK GUARDIAN: LONG NIGHTS


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:

http://eepurl.com/cTopbv



A Message for You

Dear Friend,


I’m truly honored to share Dark Guardian: Long Nights with you. This short, standalone story takes place between the first two novels in 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 vigilante known as The Guardian.

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 takes place a few months into his war against the criminals and corrupt.

At the behest of readers, I hope to publish many of Ethan’s shorter standalone adventures and battles as one-off short stories. Although this specific story is a bit shorter, I aim to make the other stories a little longer.

I continue to find that the creation of this series is 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: Long Nights


A dark presence was afoot as the sun touched the horizon.

Crown City’s police remained too busy trying to control the demonstration in downtown today, leaving not even a single patrol car anywhere near this street.

In the alley of an empty road, six thugs with vile thoughts chased a young and helpless lady. They whooped and howled behind her as she frantically tried to outrun them. She ran with all her might. She ran with all her strength. She ran with everything that she had. But it came to no avail. With every step, they gained on her.

The goons pursued her to a dead end and a worn down brick wall. With her back against the barrier, she turned around with terror-filled eyes. Her cries for help were heard by none, save for the hoodlums that menacingly approached her. The pack slowed down, seeing that their to-be victim had no place to go. They held the eyes of hungry animals.

The closest goon wore a gun strapped to his waist, but pulled out a switchblade as he slowly came towards her. “Why the hurry, sweetheart?”

There was a snicker from the pack as they closed in. The second thug spoke in the same taunting manner. In his hand was a knife. “Don’t you want to spend a little time with us?”

A cold voice showered from above them. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Just as they looked up, a hooded and masked figure fell upon them. Powerfully and forcefully landing on the thug in the front of the pack, the attacker’s sturdy boots crashed against the thug’s skull and crushed it under his weight. Before they knew it, the gangster was dead and his killer was crouched down over his rotting corpse.

Rising to his feet, the masked man looked over his remaining horrified foes. Blankly staring at the stuff of legends, the gang faced the underworld’s boogeyman. They all knew who he was: The Guardian.

The Guardian’ dark red and black mask showed no expression and hid the face of Ethan. His dark gray, almost black, cloak hung off of his shoulders and went down to his feet. A hood of the same color was thrown over his head casting a dark shadow over his face. His torso was covered in a fitted, red tactical suit that showed off his incredible build and strength. Two black stripes formed an ‘x’ on his torso as they went from his shoulders to the opposites ribs. On his feet were russet colored boots that went halfway to his knees. And on his hands were dark brown leather gloves that almost went to his elbows. Around his waist was a black belt that housed numerous throwing knives and two long daggers.

As the gang glared at the unwanted intruder, there were no more malicious smirks. No more vile taunts or intentions. Now, the thugs’ eyes were filled with fear. Now, they were the ones whose hearts trembled in fear.

“Oh sh—”

Before the thug could finish his sentence, The Guardian launched a knife. It cut through the cold air and plunged itself in the thug’s forehead, splitting his skull. He instantly fell onto his knees before collapsing face first.

Ignoring the corpse, The Guardian quickly unsheathed his long, sharpened dagger and looked over the rest of the pack. All their gazes were locked on the dagger that had killed countless scum just like them. There was a long moment of peace before The Guardian’s intimidating smile was heard in his merciless voice. “So which one of you wants to avenge your friend’s death?”

The four remaining hoodlums exchanged glances. The only ones that had been carrying firearms were the two that were lying dead on the floor. Armed with nothing but knives, they would have to take on the beast from their nightmares.

With a roar, the largest one pulled out his knife and charged at the vigilante. Seeing the spike of courage in their comrade, the other three men rushed their foe. They unsheathed various types of knives and blades as their curses flew in the air.

Dodging the first assault, The Guardian countered it by slicing open the man’s guts with one fluid and swift stroke before kicking the dying man onto the floor. Before the second man had a chance to strike, The Guardian stuck him across the face with the corner of his elbow, causing him to spit out blood and stagger backwards.

The Guardian fluidly sidestepped the next foe before powerfully plunging his knee into the man’s stomach. As the hoodlum keeled over, The Guardian roughly stabbed him in the back of the head before forcefully wrenching out the dagger and shoving the corpse onto the ground.

The fourth thug was immediately upon him. With a switchblade in either hand, he sent a fury of consecutive blows at his opponent. But it was in vain. All his blades cut was air. Stepping up as he sidestepped a blow, The Guardian sliced open one of the thug’s arms. Dropping the knife from his now useless hand, the thug howled in pain as he sent his next blow. The Guardian grabbed the goon’s second wrist midflight. In the next instant, he twisted his foe’s arm in a way that caused the thug to show his back to the vigilante. As the goon continued to bellow in pain, The Guardian stabbed him through the back. His dagger drove right through the goon’s black heart and the tip prodded out of the man’s chest. He left his dagger lodged in there for a long moment before brutally jerking it out and letting the corpse drop.

The second thug took the opportunity to try and make a break for it, seeing as he had no chance of winning this bought. As he darted towards the entrance of the alley, The Guardian drew out his small throwing knife. Without a second thought, he flung the blade flying towards his target. It plunged itself into the back of the man’s neck and he collapsed with a loud gasp.

Ignoring the bloody corpses, The Guardian looked back at the young lady. She was still standing with her back against the wall, horrified at what had just occurred right before her eyes. She stared star struck at her savior, trying but unable to even thank him for his heroics as her mind attempted to register that it truly was the legend standing before her.

“This part of town isn’t safe.” The Guardian looked away from her as he walked towards the brick wall. “Stay out of it for the rest of the week. By then I should have cleared it out of all the stray dogs.”

Before he could leave, her voice stopped him. “Th—thank you.”

He did not reply.

Slowly, she left the wall while keeping her eyes on him as she stepped over the corpses. However, he did not look back as he kept his stare on the wall in front of him. Passing by him, she quickly made her way out of the alley and disappeared.

The moment he felt her presence gone, he turned and looked in the direction of the sidewalk. The stench of the rotting corpses did not bother him in the slightest. He was too used to it. But the lady had reminded him of someone, someone he had not seen since truly donning the mask of The Guardian.

With a silent sigh, Ethan’s thoughts of Katrina dispersed. William had contacted him only an hour ago. Before going on patrol, Ethan had given him the task of tracking down the notorious gang known as The Blue Ox led by an arms dealer who called himself “The Butler”. They recently claimed the south eastern part of Crown City as their own and were marking it by spilling the blood of the innocent. But William now knew the location of their headquarters.

And Ethan would be paying them a visit.


***


The Butler looked down at the corpse. In the dark room, the dead body blocked the only entrance. But it was not the corpse that made The Butler feel this fear. Instead, it was what had killed the sentry. Towering where the dead man had stood was the legend that every criminal in Crown City feared: The Guardian. Even with fifteen men between him and the killer, a cold chill ran up The Butler’s spine.

The Guardian’s bloody dagger was in hand as his masked face stared down his foes. His hood was thrown over his head, darkening his face, which only served to frighten the men even more. The gang trembled with fear. Even with their guns and with their numbers, they knew that they would not live. There was no way out of this except through death.

This would be their end.

The Guardian looked past the gang and directly into the eyes of The Butler. His masked eyes drove a terror into The Butler’s heart that the arms dealer had never felt before. He raised his dagger and aimed its tip at The Butler’s heart.

The Guardian’s merciless voice broke the dead silence. He uttered the same words that countless had heard before their deaths. “I am the creation of your sins. And they have sent me to claim your soul.”


***


It was late night when William heard Ethan return to the warehouse. Exiting his office and entering the large chamber and base-of-operations, he saw The Guardian peeling off his mask to reveal the face of the famed Ethan Daniels. His strong, unkempt face displayed weariness over his handsome features. It mirrored the exhaustion of a soldier after witnessing too many wars. His short black hair was sweat drenched while his uniform was covered in splotches of blood. Most of it was of his enemy’s, but some was his own. In his mid-20s, he was nearly ten years younger than William, but looked older for his age.

Ethan did not say anything to his comrade as he made his way to the large board covered in headshots of various individuals. Ethan’s fatigue showed in his slower steps. William did not remember the last time his friend had taken a break. It had not been in the last few days for sure. But William did not utter a word as he followed Ethan to the board and watched Ethan tear off the face of The Butler in one brutal stroke. Just like the countless other faces Ethan had marked off, nobody in Crown City would ever have to fear that gang leader again.

“So I assume it went well then?”

Ethan slowly nodded.

“Did you notify the police?”

“Yes.” Ethan set some things on the table: a USB, cell phone, and small tablet computer.

“What’s that, Ethan?”

“Evidence. It’s encrypted and I need it analyzed. Find out which gangs The Butler was arming.”

William watched Ethan restock his belt’s throwing knives, knowing what his friend was planning on doing. “You should rest for a while before going back out.”

Ethan did not reply as he made his way past William.

“…Ethan?”

“I’ll return shortly, William. Notify me if anything urgent pops up.”

“You’re in no condition to fight.”

“The night has only just begun. I’m more than ready to take on the low-life scum out there.”

“You need to rest.”

There was no response.

“We’ve been fighting this war for months now, Ethan. And if you keep this up—if you push yourself too far or too hard, neither of us will be around for much longer.”

Ethan stopped, but did not look back at William. “Tell me, William… can anything good come out of my rest? Or will it lead to the death of innocent people? Will it lead to the creation of more orphans?”

William was silent.

“I need to keep beating the underworld down. Keep beating them until they know that the streets belong to me. They belong to the good people of this city and nation, not criminals. Injustice and crime will no longer be tolerated. The penalty for it is death… and I’m the executioner.” Ethan began to head towards the exit as he put his mask back on. “I will rest when the mission is over. Until then, I will keep fighting. Every day. Every night. And I won’t stop until we have won.”

With those words, The Guardian was gone.


***


Ethan rested on a knee by the edge of a high rooftop in Crown City’s Downtown District. From his vantage point, he observed the demonstration occurring half a mile away. His superhuman eyes and senses made it out perfectly as he watched the march continue to keep downtown shut down. With nighttime finally arriving, the demonstration would soon end.

It was the same as every day these past months. Under the banner of The Guardian, the movement against the crime and corruption that had plagued this nation for so long was underway. As he kept his eyes on the demonstration, he nonchalantly readjusted some of the sheaths on his belt. William had picked up some chatter about a planned robbery. Once there was a hit on the location, Ethan would intercept them. But until then, he was on patrol just like every other night.

Turning his head slightly, Ethan caught sight of Swan Park. And in the next instant, a flood of memories washed over him. He remembered standing with Katrina on the bridge. He remembered how there was no coldness on that day… only warmth. He remembered how she glowed in the sunlight. And he remembered what was said that night on a rooftop just like this one. He remembered the ring and the promise. In one instant, she took away the coldness of the world. She…

Ethan shook his head, trying to knock away the memories. There was no time for that. Ethan Daniels needed to take a backseat to The Guardian. Finished with his sheaths, The Guardian rose back to his feet. Nothing would happen at the demonstration today. It was the streets that required his attention. He turned away and began to make his way towards the opposite end of the rooftop.

His earpiece suddenly buzzed and was immediately followed by the voice of his closest friend. “There’s been a situation. Lieutenant Mason contacted me. He needs your help.”

“What is it, William?”

Murder scene. A bad one from his description. He’s having trouble figuring it out. Dead single mother. Left a boy behind.

Ethan was still for a moment. But then his hand curled into a fist. “Tell me where it is.”


***


“What’s the scene?”

Hearing the sudden voice, Lieutenant Mason whipped around only to be met by the masked face of The Guardian. He nearly jumped back in surprise but somehow kept his composure.

“How did you—never mind.” Looking away from the vigilante, Mason focused back on the corpse at his feet. With just him and The Guardian in the room, silence followed Mason’s words.

The woman lay dead in her foyer’s apartment. The small chandelier that hung from the ceiling was switched on, illuminating every corner of the room. From up here, the sounds of the city below them were barely heard through the half-opened window that displayed the dead of night outside.

“Homicide.” As Mason spoke, he kept his gaze trained on the corpse. “No murder weapon so that rules out suicide. Killer didn’t even try to frame it as one.”

“So the killer thinks they’re safe.” The Guardian’s voice was emotionless.

“Any initial thoughts? Not too many evidences at first glance.”

There was no immediate response to Mason’s question. The officer silently watched The Guardian’s gaze scan the surroundings. The vigilante’s demeanor felt calculating, almost machine-like, as his eyes stayed on the corpse for a long moment. It was a woman. Young, fair-skinned, hardly even thirty. Lying on her back, her red hair was sprawled out as her hand rested atop of the bullet wound on her chest. Her palm was covered in her own blood while she wore a bathrobe over her nightgown.


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