This is an origin story based in the City of Heroes universe for the character True Beacon,
He wasn’t sure if the explosion was a grenade or missile, he couldn’t even tell if it was next door or a mile away, but it was damn sure loud enough to wake him up. His head, pounding rapidly, could have been from a week absent of sleep, yet was more likely from the empty whiskey bottle laying next to the cot he had passed out on.
Against all the warnings he had been told, he stumbled to the window to see commotion, almost tripping over the one backpack he had brought on his trip to Afghanistan. He could see a few of the locals were cautiously peering out of their homes with the same curiosity. Not once during his stay could he figure out how these people could live under the constant threat that the next explosion would be the cause of their last breath.
He began rubbing his eyes to wake up, his hands as rough as the scratchy beard he had grown over the last month. This man stood just under 6 feet, was well built with broad shoulders, blue eyes and sandy color hair that usually was clean cut, but now hadn't been touched in weeks. He was wearing the traditional shalwar kameez that could been seen on most Afghan men, though it was dead obvious he was an American.
“Damnit, Colter,” he said to himself, “what are you doing here?”
He sat on his cot and picked up the tattered newspaper at his feet, his eyes glancing over the title of the article that he had read a thousand times before, “Four University Researchers Taken Hostage in Middle East.” It wasn’t even front page news, but it the reason he was there. He had no idea what he was doing or how he could locate his lost colleagues. The only “detective” experience he had was in the University library, maybe a museum every now and then. Shit, he wasn’t even a full Professor, just an associate . . . of renaissance history. Hardly fit to be attempting such an insane search for the men who had grown to be his only friends.
Another explosion went off. He could feel this one. It was very close. He quickly looked out the window to see the lit up sky, then heard the gun fire. Suddenly screams tore through the village.
Adiv, his only contact in Afghanistan, a local resource for the captured University team, came running into Colter’s room with a terrified look on his face, “Get up, we must leave NOW!” Colter ran and grabbed his clothes, long enough that they covered his heavily tattooed arms, a clear beacon that he was an American. He quickly picked up his bag and ran for the door, another explosion went off and for a brief second it was bright enough see the entire village. It was crumbling. He knew what this was, a local tribal attack, which always ended in deaths, especially for any one light skinned enough to even hint being American.
Colter and Adiv quickly began heading for the mountains at the edge of the village, it was the only safe house for the locals during a raid. The sound of the gunfire and explosions were approaching faster than he could run, each explosion giving him just enough light to see where he was going as well as the gunfire reach, and hit, the locals running alongside him.
This time the rebels gunning for every one they could, they must have known that the villagers were harboring another American.
Adiv and Colter climbed quickly, looking for the nearest cave entrance, when suddenly, another quick burst of light revealed an opening.
“Adiv! Here!” Colter jumped into the opening and looked back for the only friend he had in this hell. He heard Adiv panting, then saw him, only because an RPG had been fired right behind, lighting up his silhouette. That was it, it must have been a one in a billion shot, but the rocket found itself right to the feet of Colter’s last friend in world. The explosion blew Colter back into the cave, and before he could grasp the moment, all went dark.