The boy called “John Saito” by his classmates at North Borderline High School first appeared in the government registry the day he first arrived for class. They regarded him with equal measures of curiosity and caution in his first year. He spoke little, made no friends and spent his lunches observing from a corner bench in the cafeteria. He would have all but been a part of the landscape had the mid-year club requirement not existed in North High for that very reason.
The school required that every student, whether first year or fourth year join a club to broaden their horizons and make new friends. John signed up for a club on the last day. His decision was made after careful consideration of his options. He immediately eliminated any sports or physical activity related clubs. While in better shape than even the athletes in his school, he was forbidden to join them. He skipped over arts and craft related classes, as those involved skills so useless, he would have been ridiculed at home for such a thing. No, the choice came between the Chess club and the Hero club. Neither were restricted, and either would have made an excellent cover. So he flipped a coin.
The rabble in the club his second semester of high school quickly proved a useless bunch. They ate snacks, read comic books and generally did nothing of value. His masters taught that everything required purpose, every action consideration and every movement carried one to a destination. So he decided he would learn to blend with the useless rabble of his new club, by pretending to consume disgusting processed foods, attempting to ascertain any knowledge from the picture filled pages of useless drivel, all while trying his best to blend in. A year later, he did just that. While still a wallflower by anyone’s measure, John learned the reasons his clubmates appreciated these vigilante heroes that they went on in length about, even as he learned the many exploits of those he might one day fight against.
It was about that time that he began to notice one member of the club more so than the others, by the name of Daniel Doucet. Unlike the others, he was not content to sit idly by and geek out with the others. When he chastised his clubmates’ lack of initiative, of wasting time that they should be training to become heroes themselves. However, the others only laughed. John did not. He saw the same strength and determination in Daniel’s eyes as he saw in the members of his family. Whether or not this one would become a hero of any great merit, John could not be certain, but he knew that he would try to his last breath.
It was that respect that made him the second voice that supported Daniel’s nomination for president made by his friend Krissi Hunter, the local star gymnast. The entire club seemed startled by his sudden involvement, as he had shown little interest in the process before. It seemed to wake them out of a stupor brought on by chili cheese chips and spicy ramen bowls. After that moment, the Hero club became more than a hangout, it became the birthplace of three future heroes.
School faded by so quickly as John learned more from his friends than he had in his entire life at home, being taught the Way of the Fist by his masters. He still trained there every morning and every night, but his heart truly began to feel at home when at school. It was the brightness in the morning. When his senior year arrived, he began to feel consigned to his fate, but he could not truly forget the people here. He met so many classmates and some of their parents, teachers and club members. While not truly close to anyone, they accepted him.
During February of 1991, shortly before graduation, Daniel called him, Krissi and the rest of the club to witness his “final project”. They met him in North Central park, where he was dressed in a second hand suit and a cape, a magician’s top hat and a cane. He appeared cool and collected when they arrived. Daniel announced his final project was to stop a local group of drug dealers who sold some of their classmates drugs that got them suspended from school. Krissi pleaded with him not to do it, but Daniel assured her he could handle it. John merely observed.
Daniel handled the situation well. He had a trick for everything. He tied up several teen drug dealers, and pepper sprayed an adult who attempted to interfere. It was then things got out of control. Four gangsters drove up as Daniel was tying the other up. He barely had time to scramble for cover before a gunshot shocked all the witnesses. Krissi screamed, while the other club members ran away. John merely acted.
His first attacked sent the one with the gun head first into the curb. The rest was a blur as he moved from gang member to gang member, pummeling them before even knew what hit them. One swung a bat at him, only to hit his own car, shattering a window. John caught a piece of glass and stabbed the gangster in the arm, causing him to drop the bat. Police sirens in the distance awoke him from his frenzy. Daniel and Krissi, the only witnesses to the event, only stared, part in marvel and part in abject terror.
It was then that John realized he had exposed his abilities to his friends, the first time he had broken a code of his Order. The Temple had strict regulations for anyone who discovers the true nature of a member of the Way. The Hand must silence all mouths lest they reveal him to his enemies. That was when he broke his second order of the code. He rationalized it later as silencing his friends with an oath, but deep in his heart, he felt the seeds of his betrayal.
The remaining months felt longer than the previous four years of school, and none of the three, nor any other club member mentioned what occurred in the park. Daniel and Krissi’s friendship seemed strained, John barely spoke to anyone, and the year ended. They all went their separate ways.
John Saito disappeared until a month before the fifth anniversary of his class’ graduation in 1996, only this time he appeared as Detective John Saito of the Borderline City Police Department.