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He crouched on a rooftop of a building in Kings Row, high above the notice of anyone, just staring out, waiting. A cold wind blew about him, but he didn't notice, or simply didn't care, it was almost time to move, the moon was full in the sky and the crisp fall air hung about him, even as his breath came out in steamy vapors. A second later a truck pulled into the back alley, it's wheels crunching on the gravel of the pavement. From out of the darkness, punks in dirty clothing, cut up jeans, biker jackets and vests, with white skulls colored on their faces seemed to come out of every shadow, heading towards the truck chuckling and apparently a bit hyper, perhaps from drugs, he wasn't sure. The Skulls, were but one more gang in Paragon City, still one the Scarlet Crusader, Devil-Ray despised. They dealt in black arts and the more powerful members could literally tap into dark forces and drain the life right from a human, killing him without leaving a mark. At the moment Devil-Ray's concerns were more mundane, they were dealing in drugs, Superdine to be precise.

Superdine was developed in Paragon a few years ago and had been flooding the streets, it didn't help these guys had a pipeline to someone from the Rogue Isles, still Devil-Ray had decided, this had to stop, people were dying. He had staked out this place for the last 2 hours, his contact was sure it was going to happen tonight, and he should know, he was a reporter who had covered the Skulls for a number of years.

As the Skulls began to unload the truck, the Scarlet Scourge stood up into the breeze, his silhouette surrounded by the moonlight, his voice was slightly muffled by his mask as he spoke "Time to get to work..." and with that, he leaped down on them like a crimson blur, and the battle began. How did he get here? What lead him to this point in his life? Somewhere in the back of his mind as he broke one of the Skull's nose with an uppercut, he remembered.

He was Michael Ray, his life had been pretty good for many years, his parents had moved to Paragon a few years back from Washington, his father was a notable councilman and his mother an interior designer, they lived well in Steel Canyon, not rich, but far from poor. Michael enjoyed his youth, relatively carefree from the problems of the city, looking down from the high rises, still his mother would take him every month to visit his grandfather who lived in Kings Row, a run down low class section of the city, that had long ago watched it's glory come and go. Why he lived there, he couldn't understand, but Michael's mother had told him once when he asked, "Your grandfather is stubborn, he's lived there for a long time and he just won't let the past go." Still his visits there were something he looked forward to in his youth, for that was when his grandfather would fill his young mind up with tales of World War 2 and the heroes of that era, especially one called The Red Devil. He would tell him how Red Devil and his allies, the Sentinels of Liberty would fight the Nazi scourge, anywhere they raised their ugly heads, and he'd secretly show Michael pictures from papers that showed the Red Devil and his group receiving awards and commendations from the president himself. All these tales made him dream as only a young boy could, of fighting badguys and being a hero. Ironically it's one of the reasons Michael took up martial arts and became so athletic in his later years. As time moved on, and several years had passed, a car crash would claim the lives of his parents and would leave him in the care of his grandfather. Although horribly saddened Michael went on and excelled at everything he did, becoming captain of the wrestling team, a martial arts master and his sights were set high, he would become wealthy and like his parents lead a life that didn't include the slums of the Row. He listened less and less to his grandfathers tales, believing them to be merely the ramblings of an old man, who was trying to live in past glories.

One night he received a call that would change everything, it was the police, something had happened at his grandfather's, so Michael got home as fast as he could, still by the time he got there, the paramedics were already realizing there was little they could do. Someone had broken in and his grandfather, true to form, wouldn't let them take what they wanted without a fight, and it cost him. Blood pooled around the old man, and his breaths were ragged as he tried to hold on. As Michael knelt beside him, tears in his eyes, his grandfather reached up a trembling hand and pulled Michael closer. His breath was warm in Michael's ear as he gasped to him "I got him good Michael....he'll be...limping, the rest of his life...i promise you that. " he wheezed violently for a moment and his eyes took on a calm almost piercing look as he gazed at his grandson, his voice sounded clear in that moment as he spoke to Michael "Find my chest Michael,.....take up my legacy. It belongs to you now." and with that his eyes seemed to glaze over and he breathed his last.

A week had passed when Michael finally started clearing away his grandfather's things, keeping those things that he considered precious mementos of the man, pictures and letters from his grandfather to his grandmother. And it was then he found it, tucked in the back of the closet, carefully hidden and layered with dust. A large old chest, something that was obviously dated back from the last World War. He opened it slowly remembering what his grandfather had said and there it was all laid out before him, the costume, picture, medals awards and memories of the Red Devil. His mind reeled, the man he had called grandpa, and had all but thought senile in his last days had been a hero, a man who had fought for the greater good and had saved countless people from death. To Michael it was like losing him all over again, he wept for a time, then as he looked at the mask he slowly stood, and spoke softly to the heavens "I swear, from this day forth, the Devil will walk again, and evil will know to fear him." still as he looked at the pictures he realized that the Red Devil was his grandfather, and if he was going to do this, he needed to do it right, by honoring the man and becoming something uniquely his own. And thus Devil-Ray was born.

Silence settled and he looked around, bodies littered the alley, the Skulls were strewn across the area and he had only suffered minor injuries all and all, but then one Skull came from the shadows and the chill of death was about him. "You bastard!" he hissed "You can't stop us....we're death itself!" and with that he limped forward and caused darkness to well around Devil-Ray, paralyzing him in his tracks, his life literally leaking from his body, death was upon him. As he looked upon the Bone Daddy, he could see him smiling, and noticed him limp? The injury, triggered his grandfather's words "He'll be limping the rest of his life..." was this him? Regardless it was enough to snap his will into breaking free and with blinding fury the Scarlet Scourge fell on him, beating him mercilessly, for the next 2 minutes. Finally he could here words barely audible and he looked down, it was the Skull, even with his jaw dislocated and many other injuries, he could be understood "" with that, he passed out.

Devil-Ray looked down on them, and shook his head Maybe this was the man, and maybe not, but he was still a Skull and jail was were he belonged. He called the police and leaped away letting the night air and darkness clear his mind of the past, it was time to move on to the future. "For you grandpa..."

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

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