The Assault: A Revenger Mission Update

Justice-LeagueGood afternoon Revengers! We go now to the field where our league of crime-fighting superheroes is taking to the field to locate and destroy a very dangerous artifact. As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, our mission to investigate the Tyrene Code turned up some very interesting information. Following the clues left behind by the famed artist and superhero, we have found our way to a government facility where the source of his powers appears to have been kept.

Our infiltrators managed to get within spitting distance of the facility and take down its sentries, but things may be taking an unexpected turn. As such, I, your humble Captain, have ordered our second team – the strike force made up of Veiled Tsunami, Dark Angel, Freedom Fighter and myself – into the fray. The security is tight closer to the facility and we’ll need all our initial assets committed to take them out in time.

We go now to the location to see what’s happening. I hope everyone brought there A game because there’s no way we’re pulling this off with anything less…

*                    *                    *

The door slammed shut and Smackdown raised his rifle. His hands were like a frantic, noisy mess, everything he did rushed and producing loud, angry clacks.

“Are you sure about this, Captain?”

His fingers were like a blur, one hand slapping a magazine in the bottom on the gun while the other slid the front end open to place a grenade inside. He looked up with mild annoyance to reply.

“Look, you people were the one who said you didn’t trust my source. Now you wanna second guess my being paranoid? C’mon, we’re going in?”

Freedom raised her hand in mock surrender, though her fingers began to tighten on her sword. She used her best diplomatic tone too, just to let him know she wasn’t prepared to use it on him yet.

“No one is second-guessing you, Captain. This just seems sudden.”

“She’s right,” said Tsunami, crouching by the front end of the vehicle. “I get the feeling you know something we don’t. Or you’re just not telling us.”

Smackdown looked angrily at her next. Her eyes were invisible behind her darkened glasses and her face stony, but her tone spoke volumes. He looked to Panacea who was standing quietly next to her. Even she didn’t appear to be offering him the benefit of the doubt right now. Even her with her usually gentle demeanor.

Great, he thought. Surrounded by women, any one of whom could probably kick my ass, and I got to go and try to assert dominance over them!

“Look, I don’t know anything at this point,” he said coolly. “But I get the feeling we made it here too easily, and we’re finding our way to their front door like someone left’s it open. Feels wrong, that’s all I’m saying.”

Freedom looked to Tsunami. She wished she knew what had happened during his supposed meeting with that “Source” of his. Ever since that ended, he had been in a mood. She Tsunami was in the know, but not her. And the only other person she could ask was waiting behind, part of their team of last resort.

“So what’s our plan?” asked Panacea.

Smackdown took a deep breath and looked to their resident Goddess. Somehow, seeing her always did much to lift people’s moods. She suspected that was why he made it a habit of keeping her around. Calmer now, a plan began to form on his head and trickled out of his mouth.

“I want you two ladies,” he indicated Tsunami and Freedom, “to do a quick fly over. Get their attention and then swoop in, see if they’re stupid enough to start shooting. I’m thinking that will give Atrum and Pax enough time to teleport inside. Once they’re in, we start hitting the guards with everything we got. Depending on what the situation is inside, I think it’s fair to say the confusion will mess them up and make them that much easier to beat.”

“Captain?” Panacea said, an eyebrow raised inquisitively. “How are you to get in there? You planning on taking the car again?”

Smackdown smiled wryly. Yes, of everyone in their team, he was the only one not particularly gifted with the ability of flight. And he was the last person who needed to be reminded of that.

“I’m glad you asked,” he said, equally wryly. “You get to carry me, Panacea. We go in the second the ladies make their second pass and our boys with the means of teleporting pop up inside. And if we catch any flack, I fully expect you to heal me. That okay with you?”

Freedom cleared her throat and shuffled her feet. No one had ever seen her scowl or frown before, but Freedom suspected this was the closest she could manage. As the one to ask him about his apparent limitations, she had clearly volunteered – or grabbed the short straw, as it were.

“Sure thing, Captain. Whenever you’re ready.”

“Ladies, first,” Smackdown replied and looked in their direction. “Freedom, good to go?”

“Always, Captain,” she replied. Smackdown nodded and turned his attention to Tsunami.

“How about you, Hawa? You feel ready for this?”

Hawa stood up and looked to be scowling behind her eyewear. Though it was hard to tell with her. Her face always seemed to be poised on the edge of a frown, ready to spit flame at a moment’s notice.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” she asked.

“No reason,” said Smackdown, quickly. “It’s just that we may be on the verge of finding the artifact your father was working on. I know you must have some feelings about that.”

“None I care to share,” she said coolly. Smackdown eventually nodded and left it at that. Tsunami never really did like to talk about such things. He had thought that at this juncture, there might be something, but apparently there wasn’t.

“Alright then. You and Freedom are up. Give em a good show, cuz when you come back around, I expect those guards to emptying their clips at you.”

That elicited a smile. “They won’t see me coming, Captain…”

“But they’ll know we were here when it’s all over,” added Freedom, her shimmering sword now reflected in Tsunami’s glasses. Side by side, they looked like something out of a childhood dream, or a villain’s worst nightmare.

For a moment, Panacea and Smackdown simply stared at the pair and felt a strange chill. Panacea was not the type to deal in cryptic talk and reasoning, but the Captain was clearly drawing some grim encouragement from it. As dark as any of his people could be, at least he knew they could be counted on to deliver.

What’s more, he knew that they were right. By the end of the day, the poor bastards manning the fence lines would be very sorry they ever got stuck with guarding this particular facility. When the dust settled, anyone still conscious would be looking for a new line of work and hoping it had comprehensive medical coverage.

He almost felt sorry for them…

*                   *                    *

Styka’s haunches were beginning to cramp and her lower back was screaming out for relief. Not far away, she heard Erotica grunting quietly to herself, no doubt nursing the same aches from all the crouching and waiting. The grass continued to brush by their faces as they kept them poked just high enough to see the fence line before them. And in the distance, they could hear one of the men guarding it barking through a radio.

“Alpha team, report in, please… Alpha team, what’s your status, over? Alpha team!”

“We can’t just sit here…” Erotica whispered to her. Styka kept her eyes fixed on the nearest man and the weapon he had hanging in front of him. She wondered just how quickly he could get to it before she smashed the helmet he wore in with her boot. He would be an easy enough takedown, but there were plenty more within shooting distance who would see it.

And at this distance, any sudden movements would surely be noticed. She surmised that her and Erotica could take two, maybe even four down between them before they started firing wildly. Then, anything could happen…

“I’m waiting, but I’m getting nothing,” she said, reaching out again and again. Atrum wasn’t answering, nor Pax, and her attempts to reach farther were met with the same absence. It was like trying to make a call, only to find the lines were dead.

[Atrum, Pax, where are you? What’s the Captain saying to you?]

Nothing. No one reaching out with instructions, no indication or new orders. And they were hip deep in enemy agents with automatic weapons. Moving in any direction seem ill advised.

“Forget this, I’m going in,” said Erotica. Moving from a hunched stance to a crouch, she prepared to leap forth like a spring-loaded predator. Styka eyed the man she had in her sights and called out to her as loud as she dared.

“Casey, no…”

[Styka] the familiar voice in her head sounded. [Duck and cover!]

She had no time to send a reply before  a crack from overhead sent her reaching to her ears. Next to her, Erotica went from crouched and ready to practically hugging the ground. The thunderous roar from overhead seemed to have the same effect on everyone in the area, sending everyone down in a desperate search for cover.

“What the hell -?” she cried out. Over the sound of ringing in her ears, she could just barely make out the faint wisps of something cutting through the air overhead. Her dizzied eyes turned skyward and picked up the faint trails of two streams dancing back and forth through the clouds.

And then another sound, this one coming from within… [Styka? Can you hear me?]

“What the-?” she said aloud, before switching to her inner voice. [Atrum? Is that you?]

[Yes, Styka. Sorry about the short notice. Are you ready?]

[Ready for what?]

[For this!]

Again, there was no time to formulate a reply. All at once, the air changed around her, expanding outwards with a pop to admit a presence that hadn’t been there a second before. Just as quickly she felt hands closing around her. She got a glimpse of the face just in time to scold him.

“Pax? What’s going on?”

“We’re going in!” he yelled. He looked to his right, gave a thumbs up. Styka followed the direction of his site and saw Atrum negotiating an embrace with Erotica. Unlike her and Pax, they seemed to be having an easier time of it though.

“Ready?” he said, quite pointlessly.

“Fine. What’s one more shock?” she said, and took his hand. He grabbed hold of her shoulder with his other hand and closed his eyes. Styka did the same, knowing the experience she was about to go through was anything but comfortable.

Another pop, and then they were gone…

*                     *                    *

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to the latest Revenger mission! Despite all that’s happened so far, I promise you that things are just getting started…

Revengers Attack!

superheroes_chargeIt’s time, my fellow superheroes! We have the location of the Storehouse that contains the answers to the Tyrene Code, the hiding place of a strange device – possibly alien in origin – that can convey superhuman powers on an individual. We knew that this mission would take us places we might not want to venture, and to unlock secrets that were perhaps better kept. But as they say, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle, and this is one secret that was bound to break sooner or later!

Not only is this a mission of extreme importance for the sake of all mankind, it’s importance to us on a personal level. As we all know, our powers have come from various sources over the years. For some, it remains a total mystery but for others, a mystery with a culprit that may be revealed very soon. Veiled Tsunami, you always did believe your father was working with alien technology, that came from a warehouse somewhere, yes? This could be it! The answer to your questions and the key to unlocking what your father was working on.

Based on the mission profile which I received from my NSA source, and all the intel provided by each and ever member of our league, we now know that the criminals who stole the first Tyrene painting must have this storehouse in their sights. They will be looking to break in, steal the device, and use it for their own purposes. At the same time, we can expect that the feds will have it locked down tight, relying on heavily-trained security forces and some hired thugs to protect it. This won’t be easy and there are likely to be more than a few surprises.

As such, I have decided to divide our forces up as follows:

Team One:
This group will be made up of the advance scouting party. Their job will be to infiltrate the storehouse, detect traps and defenses, and disable them. They will identify the guards and any other threats and attempt to neutralize them stealthily. The team will consist of:

Atrum Auditor
Erotica Girl
Pax
Styka

Team Two:
This is our main assault group, the breach and clear team that will go in once team one has identified and taken out all preliminary defenses. They will be responsible for hitting the base, taking down its remaining defenders, and locating the alien device. Once that is accomplished, they will plant explosives and dust off before the device is destroyed. This team will consist of:

Captain Smackdown
Freedom Fighter
Panacea
Veiled Tsunami

Team Three:
This group is our reserve, to be called in if and when things get too hot for team two, or if reinforcements arrive in the thick of things. Our heaviest hitters will be placed here, and lie in wait until the situation requires they enter the fray and wreak a little “constructive havoc” on the opposition. As the case may be, they may also be required to cover our escape. This team will consist of:

Bonfire
Dark Angel
Judgement

Good luck to us all. Let’s make this one for the history books, or at least something the world will talk of long after we’re gone! Suit up, get to your teams, and I’ll see you all when the mission is complete!

The Informant: A Revenger Mission Update

revengers_sourceAnd we’re back from our meeting with my NSA source. And as usual, I have some good news and bad news. I suppose it all depends on how you look at it. And for our mutual friend and colleague, who happened to be on site when it happened, it was certainly shocking. Perhaps I should defer to my field report and let people decide for themselves…

Veiled Tsunami and Dark Angel were on hand to oversee the events and monitored our conversation. The transcript they while bearing witness appears below, with minor annotations provided. For security purposes, the names of the people involved have been removed.

Source: [censored], you look different. Lose weight since we spoke last?

Smackdown: [censored], good to see you too. Yeah, been getting a little more exercise than usual.

Source: So I’ve heard. Are the rumors true?

Smackdown: What, you mean about the new crime-fighting league? I suppose so. Depends on what you’ve heard.

Source: Well, I’ve heard that you got criminals running scared in the big city. Some say its only a matter of time before they start bringing in the heavy guns, try to knock you over.

Smackdown: That’s really not what I called you to talk about.

Source: I figured as much. You don’t hear from a guy for years, suddenly he calls out of the blue. You gotta assume he’s looking for a favor.

Smackdown: Yeah, well you remember Kandahar, don’t you? I’m calling it in.

Source: Easy there, Mr. Vigilante. I’m debating who owes who here. But you need to know, I’m taking a big risk just by coming out here. As per your… request, I did some digging and got a hit on the name you gave. Turns out you’re friend, Mr. T, presents a bit of weird case.

Smackdown: Weirder than grown men and women running around in costumes fighting crime?

Source: [laughs] Worse, though it’s definitely in the same ballpark. Tyrene, it turns out, wasn’t just some high-profile thief treasure hunter. He was a deep cover operative who did wet work for any number of security agencies. NSA had never heard of him, but I know guys who say folks at the CIA, MI6 and Mossad had him on speed dial. His criminal racket was just a cover he used for a few years.

Smackdown: Wait a minute, this artist used to be an assassin?

Source: We all got our hobbies. Right now, yours is to run around the big city making purse snatchers and mobsters nervous. Mine is spying on immigrants who don’t file for the right kind of permits. We make a living though…

Smackdown: I get it, fine! But where does the whole rumor about this code come into play?

Source: What, you mean that painting fable? No idea. But rumor has that after he retired, he turned to art, and some of his subject matter was spooking some of his old associates. Anything else I could tell you would be speculation at this point, but I did find one other thing that might be useful to you.

Smackdown: What?

Source: An old file from the CIA archive. Brought you a copy, thought you might like some light reading on the way home.

Smackdown: [takes the file. reads it] Wait a minute… this was his first job. He was contracted to recover a downed aircraft?

Source: In Nicaragua, yes. Back when the Contras were fighting for control of the country. The official-unofficial story said one of the CIA’s planes was shot down after conducting a covert meeting with the rebels, but that sounds like company talk to me. I think they found something down there in the middle of the conflict zone, so they sent in some company men to get their hands on it. He was one of the infiltration team that was supposed to go in and find out.

Smackdown: And?

Source: Keep reading.

Smackdown: I don’t get this… after that mission, he was put on indefinite medical leave?

Source: Right. After that mission, he became the super spy that no one wanted to have on the payroll anymore. After that, he was the guy they secretly contracted to do the big, black op missions.

Smackdown: There’s another page here. It looks like it was from before he retired. [reads] So he broke into a secret warehouse? And this was connected to the mission down south?

Source: Apparently. And it’s not a warehouse so much as of the storage facility the CIA put aside for hiding sensitive materials. My guess is whatever they recovered over there was brought back here. Tyrene broke back in to where it was being kept and tried to take it again.

Smackdown: And they just let him take it?

Source: No idea. The report doesn’t say he made off with anything, it just hints that he came back to the location where they kept it. Again, just guessing, but I think whatever he found was something he needed to get his hands on again.

Smackdown: Like a crack addict needing a new fix… I think I see a pattern here.

Source: Do you? Because I have to admit that it’s getting a little weird for me.

Smackdown: Yeah, sorry for the confusion. It’s still new to me too. This makes us square, you know. I promise never to ask for a favor again.

Source: You could just call to chat about old times.

Smackdown: [laughs] I’ll do that, just as soon as the collective scum of the world decides to take a break.

Confused, Revengers? Well I sure was at first. Allow me to elucidate further… Based on the clues provided the other two paintings, I think that Tyrene was part of a recovery team that was sent to Guatemala to pick up something alien. I think it gave him and the others special powers, and thereafter they were put to work doing deep cover stuff to keep their powers secret.

I think he broke back into the warehouse where it was being kept because whatever it was it gave him needed to be periodically recharged. Or maybe he just hoped that he could get a boost by going back to the source. Who knows? Point is, I think the third and final painting contains the location of the warehouse itself! I trust people are nervous now, because if it does, whoever stole it is on their way there!

The address of this storage facility was contained in the brief my source prepared for me. We need to go there immediately and prevent whoever is hoping to break in from doing just that. No doubt it will guarded, but for all we know, our adversary is packing some serious heat!

So who’s with me for a road trip/ass-whooping?

The Heist: A Revenger Mission Update!

security-guard-museum-entraWelcome back Revengers! My apologies for the delay in this mission, but the life of my alter ego has been quite busy of late. Luckily, I’m back in the saddle and ready to report on the next aspect of our ongoing mission: The Tyrene Code! This next installment comes to you from Pax, our pointman in the operation to obtain the last remaining print of Tyrene’s paintings before the bad guys did.

And as always, things did not quite go according to plan. There were some bumps along the way, but I am happy to report that the team of Pax, Erotica Girl and Atrum Auditor got the job done and no one was (permanently) harmed! I shall defer to Pax’s field report now…

*                    *                    *

The operation was well-planned and, initially well-executed. Atrum disabled the gallery’s alarms and camera feeds, Erotica went for the back door, and I waited until she was in position before teleporting in. Everything looked like it was good to go. Were it not for one hyper-vigilant security guard…

No sooner had I resolved myself into a nook in the main gallery, where we were told the Tyrene was located, that a flashlight hit me in the face.

“Who are you? What are you doing in here?”

I raised my hands and prepared to speak. I think I got out a hesitant “I” before he shot me! The bullet caught me right in the cheek and shattered it into several splinters. Naturally, it hurt like hell before I began to black out.

I was just beginning to wake up when I noticed the flashlight was still pointed at my face. I heard him sobbing him noticeably, but the sound stopped as soon as my healing kicked in and began to take care of the wound.

The bullet popped out of my cheek, rolled to the floor, and made a discernible thump. The guard gasped and jumped back about a foot, waving his gun at me again.

“Wha – what are you?”

I could only groan. I also heard some rather pointed footsteps coming up behind the guard. I knew what would happen next…

A tap on the shoulder. The guard spun around, went completely mute as he beheld what he could only assume was a fantastic hallucination: a woman in skin-tight apparel with partially-exposed cleavage, perfect flowing hair and sculpted features partially concealed behind a coquettish face mask.

“Hey, sailor,” she said, in her usual playful tone. “You don’t need that gun.”

“Wha-” then a loud thud, her heel taking him in the temple and sending him to the ground. She extended her gloved hand to me and helped me up.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” I said, touching my face, still tender from the wound. “Should be all better by tomorrow.”

“C’mon then, we got a job to finish.”

I got a buzzing in my ear as Atrum contacted me through the comlink. “Team! Everything okay in there? I heard gunfire! Did I miss something?”

“No, no,” I said, still tender and reeling. “Guard was just conveniently where I teleported in. My girl here saved my butt.”

I could hear the wry humor in his voice. Were I any other person in this world, there would be nothing amusing about this situation. But healing powers have a way of doing that to situations like these. Take away the mortality factor, and all you have is a basic screw-up. Quite amusing!

“Good to know. Let me know when you’ve got the painting. We’ve only got a few minutes before the head office notices the security is down and sends more.”

“Roger that,” I said, terminating the link. I fell in step behind Erotica and asked her what I was dying to know. “Speaking of security, what took you so long? Have a run in of your own?”

“You called it,” she replied unapologetically. “Seems that the owners decided to put more boots on the ground. Might have something to do with the last heist.”

“Sound logic,” I replied. We came to the gallery exhibit where the Tyrene was featured. Warm light covered the face of it, drawing attention to its subtle use of colors and vivid rendition of some foreign landscape.

No time to appreciate it now, I thought. Still on a deadline. Erotica and I began busying ourselves removing the painting from the wall. Holding it between, we linked our other hands. Erotica took a deep breath.

“Ready?” I asked.

She shook her head. “Ready as I’ll ever be. Don’t know how you stand it.”

“It’s get easier.” Closing my eyes, I centered myself and redirected my mind’s eye to the grassy lawn outside. A quick pop, air filling the vacuum left by two departed bodies and a painting, and we were outside. Erotica let out a loud breath and I shook my head. The pressure change made his ears pop; every time, without fail. Atrum was running to meet us, his laptop and wireless emitter under his arm. He spotted the painting and nodded affirmatively.

“All good, I see?”

“Yeah,” I nodded back. Erotica left go of the painting and took Atrum’s hand with in hers. Forming a straight line, I held onto the painting with my one free hand and linked up with them. “Ready?” I asked again.

“Yeah!” said Atrum.

“I guess,” added Erotica.

I closed my eyes again and redirected my thoughts to the final point in our exfil plan, far from the museum and the unconscious men lying within. A loud pop, and we are done for the night…

*                    *                    *

That makes two paintings that are now in our possession. And for those interested, the next detail in the code is now in our possession. As it turns out, this pastoral scene contains a number of people looking on and observing a strange object in the sky. That makes one painting with a mysterious man in a dark suit and dark glasses, and another that contains a possible UFO. One can only hope that the third and final painting will provide some something catalyzing…

The Fence: A Revenger Mission Update

revengers_stolen-goodsThe following is a field report from Team One, the ones responsible for infiltrating the city’s underground market of precious artwork and artifacts. As part of our larger effort to crack the Tyrene Code, these members of our league were dispatched with a special purpose. First, they were tasked with finding Arthur Goehner and determining if anyone has tried to fence the Tyrene painting since the theft took place. Failing that, they were to extract whatever information Goehner knew about who might have stolen the painting in the first place.

Goehner is a man notorious for moving goods that do not belong to him or his associates. According to rumor, he comes from a long line of men who specialize in this profession, his father having been a Swiss national with strong ties to the Nazi movement before and during World War II. I was sure to our heroes know that they did not need to be gentle when handling Goehner. Men like him have a way of escaping justice and I had the feeling a little thumping was just what he needed!

Needless to say, what they found was something different than I think any of us anticipated. As point on the mission, Judgement was responsible for reigning the bastard in. He was backed by Bonfire and Freedom Fighter, and the three made quite a team this time around. Here’s how it happened:

*                    *                    *

The Craigflower Hill shipping district was quiet, on the outside anyway. Underneath it all, there was lot of ugly stuff, things that few could truly sense. In one corner, someone was considering killing his father for the insurance money. In another, a woman just saw her husband with another woman. She was getting ready to smash his car while he was still in the throws of adulterous passion.

Judgement sat still and took it all in on top of the area’s tallest warehouse, looking like a freaky gargoyle. He breathed in the night air as he breathed in its twisted energy, absorbing all the hate, anger despair. It was his power source, which he would soon send back at the people who made the city what it was. A disgusting hellhole, the place ripe for a little cleansing!

“Any sign of our target?” asked Bonfire.

“Not yet,” replied Judgement, trying to feel out their quarry. His energy was particular, the kind that only those used to thieving, conniving and lying for a living could generate. “But keep the home fires burning.”

Bonfire laughed and snapped his fingers, producing a small flames between them. The flicker momentarily lit up the smallest section of the roof, making Judgement a little worried they’d be seen. But he knew there was no sense in telling Bonfire off. The man was a live wire, an untamed flame. You couldn’t tell him anything!

Overhead, the faintest sound of air being cut by a fast moving object could be heard. For anyone below, they would not think twice. Just another passenger jet or trainer taking off the from the airport. But Judgement knew better. The sound of the subsonic object announced the arrival of the third and final member of their team.

“She’s here,” he said. “Be ready.”

“What’s the target’s name again?”

“Goehner,” Judgement said with just a touch of bitterness. “Arthur Goehner. People around here call him Art.” He tried not to chuckle at the irony in that. “You remember the plan from before?”

Bonfire hummed and affirmative and began reciting it. “I got the north end, lady Freedom takes the south. We start moving up stealthily, but if things go awry, we try to flush them up the middle towards you.”

“The others we let go. It’s Art we focus on.” Judgement nodded. Everything was set. It was time. “Let’s move.”

Bonfire left the roof first. Dropping down to the side alley, he began making the circuitous route that would take him to the storage facility at the north end. As he moved, Judgement could hear the streaks overhead that indicated Freedom was coming about and moving to the south end. That left only him, sliding down the roof to the muddy ground below.

Kneeling low, he stretched out with his sense again. There was plenty, to be sure. Greed, hostility, and a plethora of other assorted things that filled him with bile but gave him strength. He looked for the one he knew could only be Goehner. For him, greed was an especially powerful motivator, one unrestrained by dignity or other moral considerations.

He found the signature he was looking for before long. He could practically smell the trail it left, to the point of drowning out all those around him. He began moving slowly, keeping low and slow in case he came across a passerby. Until they found their target, there couldn’t risk anyone seeing them and making a racket.

Moving into a small alcove, Judgement looked onto the dock and spied the large cargo carrier that was moored alongside a series of tugs and . The ship had seen better days, its sides coated with rust and the upper hull turning a mottled shade of grey. He spied the number on the side, thirteen painted in large red letters. And the tail end, a Panamanian flag fluttered in the evening breeze.

“I’ve got him,” he said into the earpiece. “Warehouse, thirteen, big red letters on the front door.”

“I’m coming in,” said Freedom Fighter.

“On my way,” replied Bonfire.

Spotting the rail nearest him, Judgement jumped over the edge and grabbed hold of a lattice below. With careful ease, he swooped under the deck until he was directly beside the ship, able to sense the many people inside. He took a second to draw in more energy, and then made his move.

His feet struck the deck with a loud clang. Many faces turned to look at him and were tossed before they could utter a thing. First two, then three more; men in wool caps carrying small arms, Goehner’s hired thugs who protect his trading ship.

Someone else on the top deck looks down just in time and got a word off before he too was taken down.

“Freaks!” is the word he yells, followed by a loud bellow as he hits the rail stomach-first and falls over. Feet can be heard inside the ship as everywhere, Goehner’s men scramble and run. Their reputation is beginning to precede them.

The sound of more clanks against the deck signal the arrival of Freedom Fighter and Bonfire. Judgement turns to see them, as they currently drawing a great deal of attention to themselves. She had her sword drawn, burning brightly in the night. And Bonfire’s hands were ablaze with angry intent.

“Making friends?” Freedom asked.

Judgement shrugged. “Sounds like they know me. Called us freaks.”

“Here come more…” said Bonfire.

Judgement looked back in time to see the new arrivals, the ones with the heavier firepower. He smiled and looked to his comrades.

“Bonfire? Distraction play, please?”

“With pleasure,” he replied, spotting the rain barrels that lined the deck. Too bad they weren’t filled with fuel, he thought. But no one was that stupid. In a flash, he sent two streams of fire past the gunmen. They turned to cover their eyes, and were rewarded when plumes of superheated vapor went up in all directions, scalding whatever flesh they had exposed.

“Freedom! Ass-kick play!”

Together, they moved swiftly, smacking down every one who remained standing. Freedom’s blade flew, cutting down any arm that was raised against her, while Judgement relied on his fists or a simple kinetic shove to send him targets over the rail.

When it was all over, just a few shocked and awed bodies remained on deck, the rest either in the water or out to sea.

“We clear?” asked Freedom.

“Think so,” Bonfire reported, his hands still holding a small burning ball of light between them.

Judgement looked around for someone who still seemed cognizant enough to talk. With a simple kinetic lift, he raised the man up and waited for him to notice. His fear was intoxicating, forcing a smile on Judgement’s face.

“So friend… how do you want to leave here tonight? Alive and well, or in the back of an ambulance?”

“Wha-what do you want?” he cried.

“Goehner. Where is he?”

The man’s eyes look involuntarily behind him, to the door at the base of the ship’s superstructure. With all the bodies coming to greet them, they hadn’t noticed it was hanging open.

“Below decks?” The man emitted something that sounded between a squeak and whine. “Don’t show us, we’ll show ourselves.”

The man screamed as he was hurled across the deck and over the rail, splashing in the water below.

On their way down, they passed several groups of huddled, wailing people. All exuded fear, their faces contorted in dark looks illuminated by the lower decks faint lighting. Most kept low, afraid to look up as the “Freaks” crossed their paths. Some thought to run the second Judgement and his comrades cleared a doorway. Perhaps they had heard stories. He was just happy that they were making themselves scarce, lowering the chance of an unfortunate accident.

They found him in the rear, huddling in a room filled with all kinds of objets d’arts, sculptures and artifacts. He seemed to be trying to hide under them, and had made an impressive cover using some counterfeit silk blankets and a large framed painting. He looked like a homeless man taking shelter under a lean-to, or a kid in an improvised fort. In any case, he began to struggle when he saw them entering, his back to the wall and feet pushing futilely against the deck.

“Hello Goehner,” said Judgement, eating his fear and growing stronger for it. “We need to talk.”

“I-I- swear… I didn’t know she was…”

“Stow it, you coward! I have no interest in your other various crimes. I want to know if you know anything about a stolen painting.”

Judgement felt a tapping on his shoulder. He turned left to see Freedom standing by his shoulder, her face twisted in a sarcastic grin.

“I’ll think you’ll have to be more specific than that dear. He deals in those.”

“In this alone…” Bonfire added, shaking his head. They weren’t wrong, and Judgement did notice the many framed pieces and canvases that were crowded in this room alone. He sighed and raised his hands.

“Alright, Mr. Goehner. We need to know if you heard anything about a specific painting. One that was created by the late Mike Tyrene. Ring a bell?”

Goehner struggled for breath and wiped the sweat from his face. He nodded frantically.

“Good. Let’s talk.”

What follows is a bit ugly and a bit brutal. Clearly, Judgement doesn’t have a soft spot for men who’s father’s participated in grand theft and genocide. Luckily, from the after-action reports issued by him and his colleagues painted a pretty clear picture of what they learned. It seems Goehner did hear about the stolen painting, but was confused when no one approached him to make a deal. As the lone fence capable of moving precious artwork in the city, he would be the one to approach if they were looking to sell.

After a few days, he decided to put out feelers and find out who might have been involved. What he learned was inconsistent, but several of his inquiries came back saying that a team of men had pulled off the heist, real professionals who penetrated the museum’s security without leaving any forensic evidence. One inquiry turned up a name. The Alchemist. Apparently, the thieves left a calling card after lifting the painting. Some criminals just can’t resist!

From this, we can deduce two things. One, whoever we are dealing with is serious and committed, and has a certain predilection for children’s stories. And two, since they haven’t tried to sell the painting, they must know about the code it contains and are interested in cracking it. Good thing we have one of the three painting, and I expect we’ll have the other very soon. Now all we have to do is secure the other and find out exactly what it is this code is all about!

Oh, and I should report that Arthur Goehner is alive and recovering in Mount Sinai hospital. Authorities report he suffered multiple injuries when they found him, and that he faces multiple charges for grand theft, facilitation and trafficking in precious stolen items. I think it’s safe to say ol’ “Art” has retired!

Alchemy Symbols by sgtfarris
Alchemy Symbols by sgtfarris

 

The Collector: A Revenger Mission Update!

marvel-superheroesWelcome back, Revengers! Our mission to crack the code and uncover the mystery of famed artist, thief and treasure hunter Mike Tyrene continues. The following is a transcript from Team 3, which was tasked with procuring one of the Tyrene paintings from Mrs. Lydia Morris. A private collector, and an elderly soul, this mission was entrusted to of our most tactful and gentle souls – Panacea and Styka. Their team has reported success, and a possible clue to the larger mystery…

“Mrs. Morris is gray haired and wrinkled, but she has bright blue eyes and moves with the ease of a dancer. She was home when Styka and I arrived and seemed like such a nice lady. Styka thought we should talk to her first. At first she was kind enough, but as we explained what we wanted, her eyes darkened and her body stiffened. We tried to explain that we were trying to out smart some bad guys.

“Why would I want to give my painting to two skinny vigilante girls in tights? My husband gave that painting to me on our 50th wedding anniversary.”

That’s when I began to understand the problem. I looked around at the pictures on the wall and on the cabinet. There were no photos of children or grandchildren. There were plenty of photographs of two people enjoying life as they grew old together. I’m the goddess of healing so I took her hand and felt her heartbreak. Her husband had recently died and she was having trouble grieving. The bright eyes and ease of walk was a cover up. She was ignoring the pain of loneliness.

I gently gave her enough healing so she could properly grieve. As the needed tears came, she told us she wanted to be alone. She also told us to take the painting. We promised to safely return it when we were finished with it.

As we were looking at the painting, Styka noticed something that might be important…”

The report ends there. However, things became more clear when the team arrived back at base with the painting in their possession. Ostensibly, its a landscape painting, featuring a realistically rendered picture of the old ruins overlooking the city. Lauded for its merger of traditional and modern, making the statement about the crassness of consumerism and progress, the painting also contains a strange figure in the lower corner.

It’s a man dressed in a dark suit with dark glasses overlooking the city, apparently holding his finger to his ear. It’s an especially strange touch since most of the people in the painting are indigents who look like they’ve made the ruins home. Could this be the first clue, or just a case of artistic license?

The Revengers: The Tyrene Code!

Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5Welcome back, superheroes! The following communiques came in from two field agents a few nights ago. In my desire to find another mission for our league, it seems that once again, one has found us instead. While our first missions were dedicated to fighting the scum and villainy that occupy the gutter, and the rich and powerful men who collude with them, our focus this time around lies in the world of high stakes and deep secrets.

At this point, I’ll turn things over to Judgement who brought this to our attention:

“Three nights ago a painting was stolen from the Art Museum, by a local artist named Mike Tyrene. However, Mike Tyrene was also a thief and a treasure hunter. According to FBI sources, Tyrene apparently stole something from a government building, something the government didn’t want getting out. I don’t know what it is, but before Tyrene died, he supposedly hid the location of what he stole in clues embedded in the last 3 paintings he made before dying of leukemia. One of those paintings was the one stolen. And the other two are somewhere in this town.”

TopsecretFrightening prospect. If in fact Tyrene discovered something truly secretive and potentially dangerous, we need to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. If their is a code to be found in his artwork, the thieves might crack it and find their way to whatever it is. I don’t think I need to stress that this is something we should not allow to happen.

Our dedicated hero and avenging angel, Dark Angel, had this suggestion to make:

“I think we better split into two teams: one to track down the stolen painting; and another to get our hands on the other Tyrene pieces before the thief does. For all we know, one of the remaining two may be concealing information crucial to national security! Or worse, plans to a weapon that could put the global population at risk.”

And here was my response:

“Very well, but might I recommend we pay a visit to the good people at the NSA as well. If anyone knows what Tyrene had stolen, it would be them. Lucky for us, I just happen to have a contact there from my days working security. Some days we covered diplomatic summits, and a guy who works there ows me a favor. Anyone want to come for a ride to Maryland?”

Which should we do first? Obviously, knowing what we are protecting is important, but I’m thinking our first step should be securing the remaining paintings and making sure the thieves don’t get their hands on them. Only once we’ve done that should I see about getting in touch with my contact within the NSA. If we can get our hands on some pieces of the puzzle too, it might be to our benefit. The more WE know, the less likely we are to get the runaround from government sources. This friend of mine may owe me a favor, but I trust government men about as far as I can throw em!