By Hadrian (Hardman) Howell
I'm not really the person who should tell this story. Mostly because I don't know every detail. Gauntlet should, or Raijin. Hell, even Kenta could give a better accounting, but none of them seem to give a damn. I may be wrong, but I believe this story has to be told.
It's been 15 years since the Maniacs split up. Since we all went our seperate ways.
Once, a long time ago, they called me Hardman. Now I'm just Hadrian.
And I am alone.
I have a stunning opportunity to reflect on just how alone I am as I stand in front of the gravestone. Cassandra never woke up from the coma she slipped into after the end of Cutman's damn war. I spent every cent I had trying to make sure the hospital kept her stable for as long as possible, but after five years I couldn't make any more payments.
They pulled the plug on her before I even had a chance to see her one last time.
The rest of the team helped me spring for a decent funeral, and a lot of people I hadn't seen or heard from in ages stopped by to offer their condolences. I sat there for hours after they'd finally finished burying her, just staring at the ground while everyone else went home or back to work.
I went into a downward spiral after that. I started drinking again, heavily, which sapped me of the final reserves of petty cash and started to plunge me into debt. I'd never been able to rebuild my bar, and in between missions I became a drifter. A drunken lout.
It wasn't long before I was asked to resign my position on the team. I was the first one to go. It wasn't a big loss, anyway. I wasn't effective and I couldn't bring myself to really get enthused about my work the same way I used to.
I lived on the streets as Monsteropolis grew around me. The city spread over the landscape surrounding it like a cancer, and as the city grew, so did the stories. I'd hear, every once in a while, about the Maniacs, sometimes words of wonder, sometimes words of fear. Their exploits remained great after I left, but...
The team fell apart for reasons I can't explain. If I'd been there, I'd know more, but I didn't even have contact numbers for the rest of them anymore. I didn't hear anything from any of them, for a long time.
One night, after a particularly brutal beating at the hands of a bouncer, I decided to try to get my life back on track. Of course, my black hair was starting to streak gray on the sides and my face held its share of wrinkles around the mouth and eyes, and no matter what I always seemed to appear unshaven, but I decided to get back into bounty hunting. A life I led before I was the four ton immovable object.
I tried to trade on the Hardman name for a while, but when I discovered that wasn't getting me anywhere, I went back to billing myself as Hadrian Howell. I didn't get much work, but I got enough to pay for a small portion of my overhead. The rest was swallowed up by loan sharks and black market privateers who managed to really take advantage of my good nature.
Then, one day, I get a message handed to me in one of my favorite hangouts, a place called Terri's.
And that's where, for me at least, the story began.
|CHAPTER 1: Contact||CHAPTER 2: Business||CHAPTER 3: Bounty||CHAPTER 4: Middleman|
|CHAPTER 5: Guest||CHAPTER 6: Gathering||CHAPTER 7: Plot||CHAPTER 8: Close|
|CHAPTER 9: Problem||CHAPTER 10: Chase||CHAPTER 11: Explosion||CHAPTER 12: Return|
|CHAPTER 13: Trap||CHAPTER 14: Brawl||CHAPTER 15: Marathon||CHAPTER 16: Faith|
|CHAPTER 17: Wrong||CHAPTER 18: Collapse||CHAPTER 19: Rebirth||CHAPTER 20: Beginning|