Deep in the mountains, surrounded by forests and solitude, lived an old man. Not old enough to be decrepit but too old to be young, he had lived alone for many years, in a house he built himself that was deceptively small on the outside. Shrugged off by many as a harmless but paranoid nut, the old man was a blacksmith, and had built his home out of steel strong enough to withstand a bomb. Below the modest first floor, a dome-shaped single room, was his own personal forge, and beneath that a large storage area where he had stockpiled many months worth of food and water. It never hurt to be prepared. It was a nice place where he'd planned to live out his days in peace, and for a long time he had done just that. For a long time, he hadn't. The old man looked uneasily out the one window, a porthole that was well barred and filled with bulletproof glass, rusted old shotgun clenched tightly in his gnarled hands. Sunset had been an hour ago, and the last traces of light were disappearing over the hills. Soon, it would come. Several oil lamps bathed the room with an almost mockingly comforting light, their heavy, smoky scent filling the air. The old man had gotten used to it, and didn't dare put them out. Not during the night, as long he lived. It was coming now, the darkness. The birds and insects had grown quiet, the stars had disappeared from the sky, and it soon looked as if he were holed up within a submarine buried at the bottom of a sea of ink, lamps fighting valiantly to fend off the shadows. Stacks of variously-shaped piles of metal lay all around, and as he made one last quick visual check of their contents, it came. As always, the night was the only warning before it was upon him. A horrible scream echoed just outside and the house shook, sturdy walls groaning in protest of the force being hurled against them. Again and again, the awful cry of something that sounded like no animal or man tore through the night, as the walls were struck repeatedly with terrible force. The old man ran from spot to spot, using the metal to reinforce places where the walls dented, gun always at his side. Both the building and the thing outside moaned, boards splintering, steel beams gradually bending under the stress. Several different areas were pounded within seconds, the violence so fierce that it seemed the attacker would kill itself against the sturdy building before giving up its rampage. Even rooted in place by two underground rooms, the old man's home rumbled and seemed to slide, each sign of structural weakness eliciting another slew of frothing, spitting savagery from the outside. The assault continued for hours without slowing, the old man exhaustedly doing everything he could to counteract the damage from the inside, until just as abruptly it ended. One final, piercing scream shook the building, and all at once the attack was over. Pale light came in through the window as the night sky reappeared, birds and insects once again rooting about as if nothing had ever happened. For another night, he had survived. As he had on the first night, and every attack since, as he had every single night for the past three and a half years, the old man crumpled to the floor and wept.
Super Speed: Superior
He had very nearly died the first night, obviously unprepared for such an assault. His usual routine for the day finished, he was simply relaxing in his chair, when he noticed the sudden silence outside, the unusual darkness. The old man had walked to his window to investigate when the glass virtually exploded, the dark trying to force its way in. He caught a glimpse of a huge eye and gaping, misshapen jaws, smashing against the bars with a deafening screech. It pushed so hard that skin tore, obsidian black ooze pouring down the wall, foam and bile spattering between its teeth as it strained to break the steel bars pressed against its face, tiny childlike hands and other appendages squeezing through every possible opening and scraping madly at the edges. Heart pounding, the old man had swiveled for his gun, and when he turned back the abomination was gone, a smear of blood and the twisted bars the only evidence anything had been there. The liquid alone was disturbing, so black it seemed to be a direct hole through the wall. But there was no time to look at it, as an instant later it was at the door, luckily locked and bolted as it was every night. The handle rattled violently and that entire side of the house shuddered as something was hurled against it, the door rammed over and over again, threatening to be smashed off its hinges by the horrendous noises outside alone. Anything that could be found was propped against the door to try and reinforce it, but every time the old man turned away from the window it was there again, tearing itself through the small opening and gradually bashing the bars away. Eventually they came off completely, and the old man was forced to never look away, even when it seemed it would successfully crack open another part of the house. If he did, it would immediately start to flow through the hole, breaking bones to fit if it had to, raging against nothing. He had survived that night, just barely, but the appearance of the darkness, its myriad amalgam of eyes and mouths and things that did not belong, had never left his nightmares since.
Smoke Screen: Superior
It came every night, and only at night. In three and a half years the old man had caught only rare glimpses of it, shrouded as it was in the deepest of shadows. Everything about it was dark, twisting in on itself and becoming darker, colder. When the first scant traces of morning began to creep into view it was gone as if it had never been, and only because of that was he able to survive. In the day he worked frantically to repair the great steel beams of his home, smithing new pieces of metal, resting as much as possible, doing everything he could before night returned. He had successfully shot it before, he knew. Sometimes he set traps outside the house, and every now and then it was injured by one. Blood had been splattered across his wall, and dripped in through cracks as it destroyed itself against the building in its insurmountable rage. But when the darkness was gone, so was every trace of it. The blood vanished, there were no footsteps outside, the traps carried no residue. That was the only reason he lived; it stopped when the day came. When night fell, it came as it grew dark, and then it became darker still, so dark that if the old man were outside he wouldn't be able to look down and see his own nose. It was because of that that he kept his lamps lit all night. Even if they only fueled its rage, he would not dare to fight it within its own black shroud.
Energy Body: Superior
The day's tasks had been done as well as possible, and once again the old man was ready, waiting for the last vestiges of evening to slip away. It was terribly tempting to slip away and fall asleep, but he feared that his heart wouldn't be able to withstand being awoken by the arrival of the darkness if he didn't know it was coming. It took longer than the last time to arrive, but eventually it did as it always did, charging in from the night to recklessly smash against the walls, shrieking and spitting and furiously trying to beat the house in. The old man fell into the familiar but frantic routine of bracing the walls where it struck, but all at once it seemed to stop, the sound of its moaning rising high and becoming deeper. There was a breathless moment of pause, and then it crashed down all around, the girders of the house trembling as if a massive hand was squeezing it from every side. Tiny black tendrils wriggled from every crack and the building rocked back and forth, a low hissing reverberating from every direction. The old man spun about, having to look everywhere at once for potential holes in the walls. It was angry tonight. The dark blanket suddenly vanished, and frantic footsteps rattled above the ceiling, striking erratic blows that couldn't have possibly come from any rational anatomy. Not finding any weak points, the darkness howled and ripped into the earth outside; it was trying to tunnel in.
Terrain Familiarity: Caves
Terrain Familiarity: Standard
The old man tried to contain his trembling. The lower floors were even more heavily reinforced than the upper ones, and it was unlikely it would get through...but he hated when it went underground. It was darker there, truly dark, and the darkness became stronger. Stronger, and even more hateful and eager to punch its way in. The entire building shuddered from top to bottom, shrill cries and snarls echoing through the storage and forge rooms as the massive walls thundered with the savage force exerted from the outside. Occasionally the crunch of smashed flesh and bone punctuated the crashes as bolts were punched loose, ricocheting across the lower rooms. It felt as if his entire home was going to be overturned and ripped open like a can of food, but the old man didn't dare descend the ladders into the basements and reinforce the walls during the night. There was no light down there. He would never be able to brace against the darkness, never keep it back, and never survive its wrath. Even if someday it broke through beneath, his lamps were all on the ground floor, and if he was going to die it would be in the light.
Iron Will: Ultimate
It seldom focused on one spot, and was driven away by the morning light, but the darkness never gave up. Sometimes it came for less than an hour and sometimes for every second of the night, but it always came. Nothing would stop it, no matter how many injuries it sustained or how many times it failed to breach the steel walls. The old man lived at least three days from civilization, and nobody had any reason to visit him. For three and a half years he had been trapped in his home, because he knew it would not stop. If he left for town it would descend upon him unprotected, and that would be the end. No, if the Devil would not give up, neither would he. The old man knew that he would die in his battered corner, but his stand would not be a cowardly one. As if in response, a deafening wail of twisted metal drowned out the violence, followed by a fearsome scream of triumph and bloodlust. It was inside. The house shook as the lower trapdoor was bashed through, and as the old man turned to face it with shotgun in one hand and lamp in another, the second flew upward, and then there was only darkness. His lamps went out and there was only a black so deep he couldn't tell whether his eyes were open. For a second there was relief that he could not see what had pressed at his window the first night, that at last he could sleep. And then, the old man died.