Revenger Alert: Mission Compromised!

grenade-explosion

The plumes began to slowly dissipate, replaced instead by hot, angry flames. And the noise they made, how they sliced the air with ever-increasing intensity. Everyone present around the outer ring of the facility could tell that they were getting closer with incredible speed. Between the missiles, their comms, and Atrum’s telepathic link, all those who watched and waited were treated to a cacophony of terrible noise.

“What do we do…?” said Angel, her eyes on the drone that seemed to be passively making its way off into the distance.

Behind her, Atrum tightened his fists and tried his best to summon his powers. His grunts indicated that he was not proving successful.

“I can’t reach him… the Captain and Tsunami. They’re too deep inside and I’m blind to them.”

Styka turned to him next. “Can you contact them?”

Atrum sighed. “I can reach Pax, but he knows the situation. He should be here – ”

A loud pop sounded. In an instant, Pax stood before them with Erotica, Panacea and Freedom next to him. He looked especially awkward with the three ladies clung to him on all sides. But then again, they didn’t appear to pleased either. The transportation process and the fact that they all needed to hold onto to him to experience seemed to have left them all rattled.

“What’s happening?” Atrum said to anyone who would answer. Pax, the least phased by their jump, immediately answered.

“Captain and Tsunami went on ahead to find the artifact. He got your message about something being wrong, sent us back.”

“What’s happening?” asked Panacea, prompting Atrum to point to the sky. A quick look was all the four of them needed to know that their mission was officially screwed!

“We’ve got to get them out,” said Pax.

“Nuts to that! I’m going to stop those missiles!” said Freedom, brandishing her sword and taking off before anyone could interject. Angel looked about to interject, but then shook her head and prepped for take off.

“I’m going too!”

Two booms sounded as the two alternately-colored streaks filled the air. Within seconds, Styka and Panacea were looking at each other, shrugging, and taking to the skies themselves. With the four of their airborne, a plan of sorts seemed to be taking shape.

“Okay… now what?” asked Atrum. Those who were left behind began to look to one another, each one thinking the same thing. After so many missions with the Captain providing their action plan, things felt a little awkward now that he was the one in danger. And yet, no means seemed to be available to reach them, and time was running out.

“No choice,” said Erotica. “We got back inside and get them out before it’s too late.”

The first explosion sounded overhead. All eyes turned skyward to see the small cloud of black smoke. Two of the missiles were dispatched, and then a third. That only left nine more, and they appeared to be accelerating…

*                      *                    *

They stood together, watching it with quiet reverence. They had reached the far end of the corridor at last and gazed on the only door they had encountered within. Buried this deep within the hillside, the room that lay beyond could serve but one purpose. The earth provided natural shielding, ensuring that whatever lay was safely shielded from any heat or radiation sensors.

The door was consistent with this appraisal, being made of reinforced steel and sealed by a biometric lock.

“This has got to be it,” he said, inspecting the lock. “Lead-lined door, coded access. No one but cleared personnel registered to gain entry.”

Tsunami took a deep breath. “Open it.”

Smackdown looked at her, noted how her stance had suddenly become rigid and inflexible. At this juncture, she was no longer able to contain her true feelings. Perhaps his little talk with her had something to do with that. Or maybe she really was more eager than he to see what lay within.

He took one more look at the door and gauged that it wouldn’t survive a blow from a powered kick. Taking a step back, he got as much room as he could need to power through it.

“Here goes!” he said, lifting his foot and feeling the servo mechanisms in his suit’s leg wind up and release. A loud clang sounded, and he was through, the door ripping from its hinges with a large boot-shaped dent in the middle. Gun leveled, Smackdown rolled into the room and scanned around them. Tsunami was close behind, her body poised in a fighting stance and her fists clenched tight. It took them but a few seconds to realize the obvious.

“There’s nothing here…” Tsunami said, her words wafting up to the far corners of the room and echoing softly. The room was darkened, light coming from above a central fixture of fluorescent bulbs that trickled down through a series of metal girders. Chains hung about the floor, looking to be part of some kind of pulley system. And the middle, there was a discernible absence made evident by a change in the color. A spheroid spot on the concrete appeared to be darker than anything outside of it, proof enough that something had occupied the center of the room until recently.

But otherwise, the two of them stood alone in an empty room. The terrible truth finally hitting them with crushing force…

“There’s nothing here…” she said again, her voice sounding distant and mournful. “The damn bastards tricked us. The whole thing was a set-up.”

Smackdown knew what she would say next, and was quick to interject. “They must have known I was talking to him. He couldn’t have -“

“Dammit, Captain! Face it, you’re friend screwed us! He’s working for them!”

Smackdown shook his head. No, he thought. It couldn’t be. Years of working with the man had to be worth something. He wouldn’t have simply led them into a trap. Not unless they had something on him, forced him to comply…

But now was hardly the time to get into all that. If they made it out, he would be sure to investigate the matter fully. Until then, all that mattered was getting out. Their enemy, whoever they were, was no doubt preparing to spring their next move.

*                     *                    *

They were arrayed in the field before the warehouse, standing as close as they dared to the target while still being able to defend it. Freedom, Panacea, Styka and Angel continued to streak across the sky, intercepting missiles and taking them down as best they could. The first wave was all but gone, but the drone had filled the air with another volley before the last of them was even destroyed.

Judgement had been able to bend a missile back on its course to take out the UAV before it could fire any more, but they still had a good fifteen to contend with now. And all their efforts to remove the first had cost them precious time.

Down below, Judgement and Bonfire reached out and took hold of those they could with their telekinesis. Erotica, unable to fly to meet them or move them with their minds, had to resort to more creative measures. Taking hold of whatever debris she could find and that was large enough, she flung them into the air to intercept the missiles.

They were making progress, but some were still making it through. And they had very little time left…

Standing within their circle, Atrum continued to reach out to make contact with Pax. He continued to push inside, seeking out the last members of their group. Between his attempt to retrieve the Captain and Tsunami from within, and the rest of them trying to stop the assault, he figured they had about a fifty-fifty shot of making it out of this alive.

But of course, all it would take was one missile to hit their target. As the Captain always said, no one got left behind. If only one of them didn’t make it out, they would be counting this as a defeat. But as long as there was a chance, they had to keep fighting. As with everything else, it was just a matter of getting the timing right…

Why the hell couldn’t I see this coming? he thought. He had been cognizant of something that lay in their path, but it had been nothing more than a terrible, grey mark on his mind. And yet, he hadn’t really considered that much of a threat. How was he to interpret that, especially in light of the fact that he still felt, even in the face of this onslaught, the strangest feeling of intangibility/

As he tried desperately to remain in contact with Pax and bolster the others, a terrible feeling of deja vu came over him. Had they not seen this exact same thing happen before? The presence of another mind jamming them as they stood and watched their enemies carrying on before them. He couldn’t sense anyone out there, but knew that something had to be at the other end of that vague sense he was getting.

A well placed chunk of concrete slammed into another missile, causing it to break apart several dozen meters short of its objective. Freedom’s sword slashed through another, and a fireball from Bonfire sent another crashing into the treeline.

“Another one down!” he yelled.

“Not enough! We got to move faster!” shouted Judgement, stopping a fourth and pulling it apart in midair.

“This would be so much easier if they were heat-seekers! I could blind em all in one shot!”

“Don’t brag, it’s unattractive,” replied Erotica. Were it not for the fact that everyone was very tired and strung out, they might gave laughed. They were down to less than ten now, but

[Pax! You’ve got to hurry!]

[Moving as fast as I can!] he replied. [I can’t reach them and they’re all the way inside]

Atrum huffed. How he wished at times like this that he could fly, or possessed some more offensive abilities.

[Just hurry! You’re going to have enough of a time getting out of there before the place goes up!]

A loud crash sounded from overhead. Everyone in the grassy field fell to their knees as a powerful wave knocked them down, flattening the grass around them and making the trees nearby sway. He looked up to see a fireball erupt overhead, one far larger than anything they had been generating.

“What happened?”

“Detonation!” said Bonfire. “One of the missiles went off!”

They all looked around desperately, noting that some of the silhouettes in the sky that represented their friends were now less in number.

“Oh my God… who was hit?”

They all looked on, no one able to speak and all feeling the same terrible sense that something terrible had just happened.

And then it got worse. From the dissipating fireball, two more plumes of flame emerged…

*                    *                    *

“Captain! Come on!” Tsunami yelled, motioning at him from up ahead.

“I’m coming!” he yelled, moving his legs as fast as the exoskeleton would carry him. Of all the moments for his servos to experience a malfunction. Half of him wanted to tear the armor off and run without it. But he knew he would need the armored protection once they stepped outside. A single UAV was not the last of it, he knew. If experience had taught him anything, it was that an air assault was always just the beginning. Soon enough, they were likely to be seeing gunships and drop troops, the grunts who made sure that the place was “sanitized” after it got blown to pieces.

“Hurry! She yelled! We’re almost there!”

Another voice called to them from far off. Both looked ahead and spotted the face of Pax running towards them.

“Captain! Tsunami! We got incoming!”

“What?” yelled Tsunami.

“We got incoming! Missiles are overhead and -“

He never got he last of it out. The entire building felt like it had been lifted up out of the ground and dropped hard. The walls cracked and splintered rock flew, dust and debris kicked up in all directions. But none of them really witnessed it. It all happened in the space of a heartbeat, and time seemed to stretch on interminably afterwards.

“Captain? Captain?”

Smackdown looked to the source of the voice and blinked several times. Eventually, he could make out the face of Pax staring down at him, his suit tinted to a dark grey. His hand lay over the Captain’s head, no doubt healing a gash that had been there seconds before.

“Captain? Can you move your legs?”

Smackdown frowned. The question seemed odd, until he looked down. A large chunk of debris lay across his stomach, his exoskeleton cracked and emitting sparks from several frayed connections. He looked to his left arm, the forearm section which lay open to show a small trickle of blood. When he tried to move, a terrible stab of pain shot through him. That quickly answered that question.

“I’m pinned!” he yelled. “I can’t move… I think my leg is broken… no… my hip…”

Pax began to fumble around. His hands could confer immediate healing, but only if he could achieve direct contact. He reached out to take hold of the Captain’s arm, and a thousand needles shoot through the flesh instantaneously.

“Oh! That’s not helping!”

“It will,” said Pax. “Just give it a second and I can get you free.”

Smackdown took another look at the slab that had him pinned. He quickly shook his head and looked up ahead. Tsunami was laying on the ground, but she appeared to be intact and unpinned. She was laying on her side with one knee propped up and her arm extended. Apparently, Pax had already administered her aid, but she remained unconscious.

“You can’t free me…” he said finally. “That cement is too heavy. And I think it might be the only thing holding my guts in.”

“Don’t talk like that! I’m getting you both out, Captain! You just have to wait…”

“No time,” the Captain replied. “You got to get her out while you still can. I’ll just slow you down.”

Pax shook his head and kept working on the Captain’s arm. It was starting to feel better, the bones, sinew and flesh coming together and the pain beginning to diminish.

“Pax, that’s an order! You’re not strong enough to free me. And even if you did, it would take more time than we have to heal me to the point that I could travel. You can’t carry us both, so carry her!”

“No, Captain! You can’t order me to leave you behind!”

“I just did!” Smackdown yelled, and then coughed. A small trickle of blood escaped his mouth and he pulled his hand away to cover it up. The site of it would only encourage Pax to stay longer than he could. “Don’t worry. Those bastards need me alive, they won’t let me die. And besides, there’ll be another time…”

“What do you mean?”

The Captain reached to his left hip to retrieve a small tube. The effort caused him terrible pain, but he managed to get it free and passed it to Pax. “Give this to Atrum. He’ll know what to do…”

Pax took the small tube and looked at it curiously. He wasn’t sure what he was being given, but the urgency with which the Captain was plying him was taking effect. His feet began to tremble against the floor and he looked back at Tsunami, still lying there quietly.

“Go on…” he said one last time. “I’m ordering you to get your kinsman to safety. Oblige this order, cuz it might be my last…”

Pax tightened his grip around the tube. Placing it in his belt, he reached down and put his hands on Smackdown’s head.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Not your fault,” Smackdown said, patting Pax on the shoulder. “Just make you sure you all get out alive.”

Pax took one last look at his commander, and spun around. Scooping Tsunami up from the floor, he moved as fast as he could down the corridor, leaving the Captain in a crumpled mess behind.

*                    *                     *

The stood before the treeline, all eyes focused on the single patch of burned greenery where their friend had landed moments before. Angel emerged from the patch, smoke rising from around her and the body she carried. The flames were beginning to catch at her feet and it looked like a forest fire might ignite at any moment. But right now, the thing everyone seemed focused on was the body that lay limply in her arms.

“Is she okay?” asked Erotica. Angel’s head hung low. The body she carried seemed intact, but the blood and burns were apparent for all to see.

“She took the hit,” said Angel. “I was closest, but she pushed me out of the way.”

“It was her choice,” said Panacea, stepping forward and placed both hands on Freedom’s body. “She’s unconscious. But she’ll live. And she’ll live knowing she saved a friend’s life.”

“I didn’t ask her too!” cried Angel. “She could have died, and then neither you or Pax would have been able to save her.”

Panacea seemed to ignore her as she moved her hands over Freedom’s wounded flesh. In time, the burns began to heal and her breathing became more quickened and audible. But she remained unconscious still, the shock of absorbing such a blast having put her into a deep coma for the time being.

The low noise didn’t last long. Behind them, they heard the sound of rustling as several pairs of feet came running forward. They spun around to see the faces of Judgement, Bonfire, and Atrum coming, and Pax carrying yet another body in his arms.

“Oh my God!” cried Styka. “Tsunami?”

“She’s okay,” said Pax. “Took a serious hit inside. But I’ve stabilized her. We need to get her out though.”

Angel nodded from her spot. “Sounds like a plan. Where’s the Captain?”

A dark ripple seemed to run through their new arrivals. All at once, they hung their heads and looked overcome. Judgement’s teeth were born and the gold streaks on his flesh seemed to grow, the terrible knowledge feeding his frenzied powers.

“Oh no…”

“He ordered me to…”

“Wait a minute, he’s still alive?” Angel demanded. Pax nodded somberly, which made her angrier. “We have to go back in!”

“We can’t!” cried Pax, finding his voice again. “He’s trapped deep inside, and we need to get our own back to base before the others arrive.”

“Screw that!” Judgement said. “We can take them! Let’s face what comes and get him out ourselves!”

“No,” said Atrum, causing all eyes to turn on him.

“You better explain yourself, Auditor,” said Angel, finding herself of one mind with Judgement. Even with Freedom in her arms, she would be damned if they chose to cut and run now, while the Captain still languished within.

“Look, people, we’ve been had. We all know that. But there’s something else going on here. There’s a darker force lingering out there, and it’s been jamming me the whole time. Whatever else they got planned for us, I can promise you it’s going to be worse than tanks and missile drones. We might not be able to stop it.”

Several voices rose at once, all of which objected to his assessment of the situation. He raised his voice quickly to cut them down. Debate was not something they had time for.

“We all knew there was something wrong here, people! The fact that I couldn’t sense there was a trap before it closed shut, that’s indication enough that whatever these people got on their side, its more powerful than us. We got three people down already. The longer we stay, the more we’re likely to lose.”

Angel scoffed, but looked back to Freedom. Sticking around was not something she could advise while her friend lay strewn across her arms. Judgement, Erotica and Bonfire were far from convinced, but none wanted to argue the point further. Atrum felt the time was right to show them the special object he now carried.

“They won’t have him long. He passed this onto us, and we’ll be able to find him with it.”

“What is it?” asked Angel.

“It’s a tracking device wired to a GPS chip in his suit. Wherever they take him, we’ll be able to monitor him to within a distance of a few meters. We might not be able to get him out now, but there will be another chance…”

“And there’s another thing,” Tsunami said, looking up from Pax’s hold. “The Captain ordered us to get out. I’d go back in myself if I could, but the only reason he’s staying is to give us a fighting chance of making it out in one piece.”

Just about everyone gasped as the words escaped her lips. Pax was sure to follow them up with some of his own.

“Besides, it might be the last order he ever gave. We have an obligation to carry it out.”

A dark consensus fell over them. Facing each other, the ten remaining Revengers nodded and set their sites for the treeline. They had some distance to travel before they would be out of the area, but knew that they could make it if they left now. All at once, they broke into a sprint or took to the air, flying and fleeing into the distance, the sound of rotors and vehicles sounding in the distance…

The Artifact: A Revenger Mission Update

AlienArtifactWe come to it at last! The Revengers have taken to their latest assignment with a vengeance, tracking down the location of the famed artifact foretold in the Tyrene Code. And after taking on the security forces and committing all our backup to the fold, we now go to break through the last barrier and find the artifact itself!

What will it be? An alien device, a high-tech experiment gone wrong, a machine from the future, or something else entirely? The answer lies within the warehouse, and we’re about to break in!

Note: My apologies to all Revengers for the long delay in this publication. Check out the previous mission update if you need a recap!

*                     *                    *

The sudden pop that came with materialization. He had done it a hundred times and still couldn’t get used to it. Looking at the woman currently wrapped in his flexible arms, Pax’s sense of self-pity was momentarily dwarfed by the sympathy he felt for her.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Erotica said, stretching out her frame as soon as his arms retracted from around her. She noticed him still looking and shot him a sideways glance. “You seem uncomfortable though…”

Pax frowned, and blushed just a little. Their little act of sudden relocation was uncomfortable enough without her suggesting he had copped a feel. Even if she was uncharacteristically soft and warm, underneath those extremely tight clothes…

“Let’s get going!” he said aloud, remembering they still had a job to do. “Where are the others?”

“There,” she said, pointing to the stairwell to their left. Pax looked to see Atrum and Styka scaling the steps and heading to what appeared to be a catwalk above. All around them, the noise of boots clamoring against steel grating could be heard over the faint sounds of machines buzzing.

[We’re in] he said, reaching out to the two of them. [Where do you want us?]

Atrum was quick to reach back and sent him the plan, all condensed in a dizzying flash of revelation. [I’ve spotted a terminal up here] it said. [Looks like a power station with controls to the entire facility. I’m going to attempt to shut it down. Cover us from below.]

Atrum then broke off and went back to running across the catwalk. Styka pealed off and head in a separate direction, putting herself between Atrum and several guards on their way up to meet them. She sent them all over the railings with some well-placed kicks and punches. They fell to the floor not far away…

As Pax watched, he could sense thoughts passing between Styka and Atrum too, the two staying in constant contact and advising each other of their progress. He envied them that. With his partner, all communication had to be conveyed verbally, and she liked to charge her words in just such a way…

“Hey, stretch,” she said, punching him in the shoulder. “We got company!”

Pax looked where she was pointing, saw several gun men moving in. Bullets began to fly, prompting them to drop to the floor as hot metal ricocheted around them. Erotica waited for a lull in the bullets before saying anything, once again forced to contend with the slow, verbal process.

“You want to deal with them, or shall I?”

“Let’s do it together,” he said. “I’ll distract them, you get in from behind and surprise them with those high-kicks of yours.”

“I’m sure they’ll be very shocked,” she said, stretching one last time to limber up. “Let’s go!”

*                     *                    *

“How you doing down there, Captain?”

Panacea looked down to see Smackdown looking a little worse for wear. She had seen this look before, usually on the faces of people who were about to tangle with a doubt of severe nausea.

“Just keep us steady,” he said. “And put me down as soon as you can!”

Panacea laughed. Not far away, Tsunami and Freedom were taking care of the last of the men manning the walls of the facility. All of them kept up their fire, spraying bullets and shotgun pellets into the air, and always to no avail. The two women skimmed through the air quickly, evading every shot before taking to the walls themselves to dispense some ass-kickings.

For Tsunami, this involved knocking her targets off the wall with some hard blasts of air. One man managed to get a shot off before being taken out, but his bullets went the way of his body, straight to the ground! Freedom flew in quick and disabled the last of her attackers with her sword, her steel flashing as it sliced through automatic weapons and body armor in quick strokes. Disarmed and helpless, most ran, but some still needed to be dispatched with a swift kick to the head.

In less than a minute, the walls belonged to them, and Panacea flew in to drop the Captain off.

“Thank God!” he said as soon as they touched own. Panacea landed next to him and began dispatching aid to the guards, making sure none were irreparably harmed, leaving the Captain to address the others.

“Alright, ladies! We need to get inside. This place is almost ours, and we need to make sure we disable the security systems before they can bring in any reinforcements.”

“Got it,” said Freedom. “There’s an access door around the side, and it sounds like our friends are making a go of it inside.”

Smackdown nodded, looked to Tsunami. “You still with us, Hawa?”

“Yes, Captain,” she said quietly. “You don’t need to be checking up on me, you know.”

“Good,” said Smackdown, uncertainly. He knew that something truly awesome and powerful lay within the facility, and that for Tsunami, the question of what that was had to be weighing on her mind heavily. And yet, she was holding those cards extremely close to her chest…

“Alright,” he said, cocking his rifle one last time. “Let’s storm the fortress!”

It all happened by the numbers. Freedom kicked in the door, Smackdown fired in a smoke grenade from his airburst launcher, and they moved inside in quick, two by two formation. All around, machinery hummed and they could hear the sound of loud metal clinks. But the gunfire had stopped and there didn’t appear to be any other traces of telltale noise. No whet packing sounds or grunts, the signs of men getting their asses kicked by his faithful squad.

Smackdown put his finger to his ear. “Atrum, Styka, Pax, Erotica… sound off.”

He didn’t get a reply right away. He raised his voice so he could hear himself over the machinery.

“First squad, this is the Captain. Sound off!”

In the corner of his eye, he saw a sudden glint of movement. A blackened husk of metal being raised towards his head. Smackdowned turned to raise his weapon, and then got a flash of purple across his vision. It took a second for his mind to catch up to what had just happened, but he quickly breathed a sigh of relief.

“Erotica,” he said. “Perfect timing.”

The skin-tight clad woman stood over the body of the fallen guard. His broken goggles and lulled eyes were a testament to the power of the punch he’d been given. The sidearm he had been training on Smackdon’s head lay a few inches away, and Erotica was sure to kick it beneath one of the nearby machines.

“Your welcome, sir,” she said playfully. “Atrum is waiting for you up top. Shall we go?” She extender her hand to him, palm down, all demure-like. The elbow-high gloves were a nice touch in completing the impression.

“Sure,” said the Captain, accepting the hand. “Show me the way.”

He was reunited with the balance of the infiltration team a moment later. In the far corner of the building, atop the catwalks and above the machinery, he was presented with the controls for the entire facility.

These consisted of a set of old analogue buttons and dials set into a grey metal frame. Colored lights dotted the controls too, but few, if any of them were labeled, and those that were were anything but legible.

“Can you interface with it?” he asked. Atrum shook his head and frowned.

“I don’t know. This equipment is ancient. I can’t exactly hook up my laptop and hack my way in. This is going to require some old fashioned tinkering, sir.”

“How long?”

Atrum shrugged. “A few minutes. Or I could just hitting buttons and see if any of them happen to – accidentally – shut down the alarms. And then there’s still the matter of unlocking all the doors to the interior of this facility. I’d feel safer I could take this panel apart and starts inspecting the electrical system a little.”

Smackdown sighed heavily. A few minutes was pushing it. There was no telling if the guards had managed to get off an SOS before they had all been taken out. There were no alarms blaring or flashing red lights, but that was no guarantee that one of them hadn’t triggered a silent alarm…

“Alright, get to it. I’ll see if we can’t get third squad to cover our backs in the meantime.”

Atrum nodded and opened his satchel. He began producing spanners, wire cutters, and a series of microtools, placing them down before the panel and getting to work taking it apart. Smackdown, meantime, put his finger to his ear again and called out to the rest of their team, still waiting in the field…

“Captain to third squad. Do you read?”

Again, there was no immediate reply. He grunted angrily. What was it with people not replying to the link?

“Third squad, do you hear me? Respond please!”

*                    *                    *

They stood and watched in quite awe. The column was long, moved quickly, and was packed to the brim with threatening looking vehicles and weapons. And they were all headed in the same direction…

“Where the heck did they come from?” asked Bonfire.

“We would have noticed them if they had a camp nearby,” said Angel. “No, these guys were lying in wait. We’ve been set up.”

“Fat lot of good it’s going to do them,” said Judgement, smiling and bristling noticeably. “Those boys don’t have half the firepower they’d need to stop the even three of us.”

Angel put her finger to her ear. The Captain was demanding an update again, but she wasn’t sure how to tell him. She and Tsunami had been there when his friend fed him all that info. They had tried to tell him something about this wasn’t right. How to tell him that he had been betrayed?

She could worry about that later though. Right now, they had a mounting crisis and their commander needed to be told.

“Captain, this is third squad. We’ve got eyes on a military convoy coming up from the south. They’re proceeding to the facility.”

A pause, a noticeable and understandable pause. “How big are we talking?”

She did a quick assessment on the force that was passing along the ridge-line before them. “Two Light-Armored Vehicles, four Humvees, estimate twenty men, armed heavily.”

She heard a slight mutter emitted from the other end. The Captain neglected to release the link before cursing under his breath.

“Can you stall em?” he asked.

Angel chuckled. “Oh yes, we can stall them…”

“Good! Because if I know these men, and I do, then that’s not the last card they have to play.”

The link terminated and Angel looked to her companions. “We’ve got the go-ahead. We’re to take out that convoy, make sure that the don’t get in sight of the facility.”

Bonfire’s hands lit up with small controlled flames. Judgement bristled further, the gold stripes on his flesh becoming larger and more prominent. The thought of being committed to the fray clearly seemed to agree with them.

“Looks like we’re going in after all,” said Judgement, smiling from ear to ear. “Let’s show these buggers some serious wrath!”

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…

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…