ON UNFAMILIAR GROUND

"Shit!"

Acheron dug his feet in hard to the grimy asphalt of the alley. Coming to a skidding stop after racing around the corner of a building at top speed, the curses continued to flow out into the night. In the dimly lit space where two buildings met he saw three possible routes the Rogues could have taken... and no sign of them. For about the hundredth time in the past month he cursed the unfamiliar streets of the city he now called home.

Standing statue still he listened intently for the sound of fleeing footsteps. Nothing.

"Fuck!"

Grinding his teeth in frustration, Acheron retraced his steps down the alleyway and back to the main avenue. With only about an hour until daybreak, there wasn't any point in trying to pick up the trail again tonight. Instead, he continued walking down toward the docks, his keen eyes picking out and memorizing every alleyway, street and pedestrian walkway he passed. Next time he chased some leeches down this way they wouldn't loose him.

Not. Fucking. Happening.

Standing at the edge of the water, Acheron thought about how he had ended up in this unfamiliar city, about the destruction of the Orders previous headquarters and the loss of some good warriors, men he had fought next to... The pain of loss snuck up and sucker punched him in the stomach, quickly followed by a hard upper cut to the jaw by guilt. Acheron let the emotions pour over him, knowing they were his to own and no one elses. It was his fault they were dead and he knew it.

He was the leader of the Order. Hell, forget that, he founded the damn thing, more years ago than he cared to remember. He had been through the routine time and time again. He knew when it got quiet like it had, that sure as shit something bad was on the way. And oh boy had it.

Looking around to make sure no early bird eyes were going to catch him doing the old 'now you see me, now you don't', he let himself fade.

Acheron took form on the ridge above the new headquarters' compound.

It had been decades since the Rogues had been led by a leader strong enough to control them. Decades since the Order had done more than take out nests of three to six leeches at the most. But that was no excuse. The army that had marched into his city had caught him completely unprepared. He had become lazy, complacent. And good men, Dev, Kyrian, Milo, had paid for his carelessness with their lives.

Looking out over Ascension Bay, Acheron swore he wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

Never again.