The Rescue: A Revenger Mission Update

top_secretAtrum opened the laptop and spun it around in one fluid motion. The screen was now aimed at everyone standing in the small room, a map with a large, square configuration of buildings sitting in a large, green field in the middle of it. The overhead view provided few details, but the setting looked very similar to the one they had just left – a string of warehouses or an industrial park of some kind. Despite how confined they already felt, most felt the need to lean forward to get a better look.

“Thanks to the device the Captain handed off to us, I’ve been able to isolate the frequency of the tracker he had implanted on his person. Once I tuned my instruments to it, I was able to locate him.” He hit a button on the console, and a small, red blinking light appeared in the middle of the largest box-like structure. “This is the last reported location of the Captain. An abandoned truck park outside of Clarksville. This has to be a holding facility of some kind, or a transfer point for prisoners taken by the Intelligence services.”

“It looks weak,” said Pax, noting the frequency and intensity of the signal. “Which means he’s either barely in range or they’ve got him in some kind of hardened bunker.”

“Good eye,” replied Atrum. “I wish I knew more about the tracker he’s got, but the Captain never was one to share.”

“It’s not that far from here. If we move now, we could hit the place before they’re ready.” said Tsunami, drawing herself back up to her full height. Even with her shades on, the look on her face was plain for all to see. As was the fatigue, the poor woman had not slept since they had returned from their last outing. And she seemed destined not to until they made their next move.

“You got my vote,” said Judgement, his skin bristling with several new veins of gold.
Atrum raised his hand. “Now hold on, people. Like I said, this is a transfer point. And as Pax pointed out, its probably a hardened facility of some kind. We all remember what happened the last time we hit one of those. They were ready and waiting.”

“No shit, they were ready. They set us up!” Judgement growled.

From her spot at the outer edge of the circle, Erotica nodded. “And I seem to recall, we still managed to take out the better part of their defenders.”

“Yes, and what are the odds they’ll have so many surprises prepared for us this time around?”

It was Freedom saying this, and Atrum looked to her now. A current was flowing through the group and growing in intensity. He feared as much. After what had happened at the facility, everyone was in a hurry to rectify what they perceived as their own failure. But running headlong into a fight was likely to result in another. Conveying that though, that required some tact. There was a lot of anger in the room right now, and a lot of special powers…

“Look team… chances are, he’s going to be moved from that facility very soon. Our best bet is to try and get him while he’s in transit. The people holding him will be more vulnerable to an attack.”

“And how long will that be?” asked Panacea, her voice mild, but containing an unmistakably steely tone within.

“Before they try to move him? Shouldn’t be long. With prisoners like the Captain, they want to move them to a secure location as quickly as possible. Minimizes the chances that they might escape, or get rescued.”

Bonfire raised his voice next. “So they are anticipating that we might try to rescue him?”

Atrum shrugged. “Standard procedure really. Everything they’ve done thus far makes it look they are treating him like a high-valued enemy asset, lIke a terrorists mastermind. Always assume their followers will try to spring them.”

Judgment growled again. Everyone looked towards him just in time to see his fangs bared. “I don’t like where this conversation is going. And I don’t much like being compared to a terrorist.”

Pax raised his hands and intervened on Atrum’s behalf. “That’s not what he meant, people. Its just a question of procedures, not methods or motives. Right now, they are dealing with us as if we’re a domestic terrorist cell. But that doesn’t mean we are.”

“You’re damn right,” said Tsunami. “They started this fight. And if they want to see terror, they will shortly.”

“Terrorists,” said Panacea with a scoff. “Their methods are based in fear. They hope to paralyze us with terror and intimidate us into submission. They are cowards.”

The group began to raise their voices as one. The thought of striking fear in their enemy’s hearts, of paying back their terror with some terror of their own; it was a like lightning rod that was catching all their rage. Atrum looked to Panacea, and felt a sudden surge of trepidation himself. If even she was speaking of vengeance, then their situation was truly dire.

He raised his hands one more time and asked for calm. “Hold on, people! We need to be careful about going off half-cocked. If we try to rescue the Captain now, from this holding facility, we’re likely to hit them when they’re most prepared.”

“He’s right,” said Pax. “There’s no guarantee this isn’t an ambush too. For all we know, they’re waiting for us to make a move, to commit ourselves prematurely and run into another carefully laid trap.”

“Yeah, and while we’re waiting, what happens to the Captain?” asked Styka. She was joined by Freedom and Tsunami, both of whom began to voice their concern for his well being in Pax’s direction.

“For all we know, they’re torturing to death. He doesn’t have the ability to heal like you do.”

“And he can’t exactly just will himself out of that place. He’s stuck there until we free him. Helpless and alone.”

“No way!” said Judgement. “He’s not alone! He’s always been there for us, and we’re going to be there for him, dammit. Come hell or high water.”

Many began to voice their assent. Others began to avert their eyes, no doubt because they were having a hard time keeping their emotions in check. Anger wasn’t the only thing running the group like a current. One didn’t have to be a telepath to sense that their was a terrible amount of guilt and grief in the room as well.

“Okay,” said Atrum finally. “We’re going to be there for the Captain. But we need to do it in such a way that won’t put his life in danger. And won’t run the risk of failure. That’s not what the Captain would want. He’d be the first to tell us to play this smart.”

A short, tense silence followed. When someone did speak again, it was Angel, and Atrum could sense what she was going to say before he said it.

“I can’t help but notice that since the Captain’s departure, you’ve been stepping in to fill his shoes.” She looked to Pax next. “The two of you in fact have been acting like you’re giving the orders now. Am I the only one who notices this?”

Several more people exhibited the same combination of sudden anger, anger which they were directing at him and Pax now. It was predictable, so much emotion looking for an outlet. And since he was telling them to sit on it and wait, it was inevitable it would be directed at him. Out of desperation, he reached out to Styka and Tsunami ,using their shared telepathic link.

[I’m losing them here. I could use some help.]

Tsunami didn’t even respond. Her thoughts had become a wall, her emotions as cold and impenetrable as the look on her face. Styka answered him, but was not much more receptive.

[Don’t try to avoid them. It’s disrespectful.]

[Please. They’re not listening to reason.]

[Who’s reason? I don’t agree with your plan as it is. Don’t ask me to speak for it.]

[Fine. We can certainly disagree as to how to proceed. But the last thing we need is people turning on each other.]

Styka emitted an audible sigh. In real-time, people were beginning to shout at each other, most in Atrum’s or Pax’s direction. Few seemed to be coming to their defense, but it didn’t really matter. Even those who were in agreement seemed to be attacking each other with their words now.

Atrum reached out to Tsunami again. [Please, you can see they are on the verge of cracking. Help me restore some calm so we can sort this out.]

To his surprise, Tsunami did answer, though not quite as expected. At the far end of the room, the door blew open and a cold gust of wind thundered through. Not a soul was undisturbed by it and everyone was fast looking in Tsunami’s direction. Of all the people present, only she maintained her steady, forward-looking glare until the wind died down and the door slammed shut again.

Waiting for total quiet to return, she finally spoke. “The last thing the Captain said to me was ‘they’ll be another time’. He also told me that Atrum here would know what to do. If he has a plan… then let’s hear him out.”

Atrum was a little surprised.She said the words, but he could feel something menacing not far behind them. Though he could tell she was sincere, he wasn’t sure if what she’d said had been a vote of confidence, or a warning not to screw things up. Either way, he took his cue and continued.

“Like I said, our best bet is to hit these feds when they try to transfer the Captain. They’ll try to do it either by convoy, or by air. Either way, they will be most vulernable at this time. An convoy, even if its stacked with armored vehicles, won’t be unstoppable.”

“Yeah, we proved that much to them last time,” said Angel, looking to those who had been intrinsic in that regard. Standing not far away, Bonfire smiled while Judgment bristled happily.

“And an air lift would be useless. We’ve got several people who could take out escort choppers, and then land on board the one carrying the Captain and whisk him away before anyone could stop them. Either way, we’d have them.”

“What about aerial drones?” asked Freedom, remembering the last one and how it had ruined their day.

On that, Atrum smiled. Reaching to his laptop, he punched a few keys and brought up a new display. In the center, a large green reticule sat, with what looked like a picture of a radio wave bouncing around inside it. “Don’t worry. They caught us with our pants down last time. This time around, we’ll be ready…”

“What is that?” Erotica asked at last.

“That…” Pax interjected, “is the frequency that last drone was using. Next one we see one, we’ll be able to hack it.”

Atrum’s smile broadened, to the point where he was beaming at everyone in the room. “We all saw what just one of those things could do with its big old arsenal of missiles and bombs. Just imagine what kind of hell we could raise with that kind of firepower.”

Again, one did not need telepathy to know that the mood had suddenly changed in the room. What had been anger and grief was slowly morphing into anger and elation. Everyone was beginning to see just how good a plan they had before them, and how much it would hurt the bastards who had put them here…

Panacea was the one to say it, putting all that raw emotion into words.

“When we came together, we took the name of revenge for ourselves,” she said. “Let’s show these men what revenge looks like.”

The Capture: A Revenger Mission Update

interrogation

Welcome back folks! As you may recall from our last Revenger Mission Update, things didn’t exactly go according to plan. The warehouse we assaulted hoping to find the mysterious artifact that was at the center of the Tyrene Code turned out to be a ruse. In addition to finding that there was no alien artifact at the center of the place, we quickly realized that we had also stumbled into a trap.

And shortly thereafter, a whole bunch of government troops showed up to assault the place. Soldiers were dispatched, missiles were launched, and the facility toppled. And to seal things off, your humble leader – Captain Smackdown – was wounded and taken prisoner. Luckily, our team knows exactly where he is, and where he needs to be extracted from.

However, until such time as they can locate and breach the facility to save him, our humble Captain is going to be subjected to the full weight of an “enhanced interrogation”. One can only hope he can endure…

*                      *                    *

The lights came on slowly and in small spurts. Only in waves did the world readmit itself, and the transition was not an easy one. Every time his eyes opened, they demanded to be shut again. His head hung heavily from his neck, and kept wanting to be laid down to rest. But the drive to wake up was undeniable. Much as his body wanted to remain in a state of forced recovery, to simply lie there limply and let the world pass it by, something in him knew it had to be awake for this.

When he finally got his eyes to remain open and take in his surroundings, he knew exactly why.

The chair he was sitting in.

The way his hands and feet were bound.

The way they had taken the time to set his leg, seal his wounds, and remove his exoskeletal armor.

He was done with whatever recovery he handlers would allow. Now the interrogation would begin…

He was in a tight space, he could tell, the only illumination was provided by a hanging lamp that stopped just shy of his head. He could feel the heat coming off of it, heavy and oppressive, and saw the bright circle of light it case on the floor. It was the kind that burned hot and kept a man awake and uncomfortable. Whatever rest he had accrued up until now had been a blessing, due largely to a semi-comatose state and whatever drugs they had administered.

In addition to beating down an intense burning sensation on his head, the light also did a pretty good job of obscuring his surroundings. But he had been in spots like this enough to get a sense of its dimensions. The cell he was occupying was roughly fifteen feet by twelve, the ceiling extending not much more than ten feet above the floor. And there was someone else standing nearby, a single guard manning the door and waiting for him to come to.

The only thing missing was the interrogator. And given the events of the last few days, he knew with some degree of certainty who that would be. Spooks were a special breed when it came to dirty work. And with some exceptions, they preferred to handle their own on their own.

The guard must have noticed he was coming out of his stupor, because a second later, the door opened with a loud clang. The light changed momentarily, a bright burst coming from the hallway and bringing a cool breeze with it. Smackdown squinted as the combined sensation both stung and provided some welcome relief. He became aware of the terrible headache he was nursing, and just how painfully dry and thirsty he felt. He also felt incredibly dirty, like he hadn’t showered in days. All necessary states of being, he knew. All part of his handler’s plan to convey to him exactly how un-in charge he was of the situation.

“Good morning, Will. Good to see you conscious. You’ve been out for some time…”

He recognized the voice. It was nice to know that his instincts could still be proven correct at a time like this. And knowing his betrayer was conducting his interrogation somehow made him feel better about it. Perhaps he was still holding onto some faint hope. Bill Huntington, the man he knew as a colleague once upon a time. He had been a friend back then, and quickly became a source thereafter.

And now… what was he now? Perhaps that was the point of this, he thought. It could be Bill had yet to truly reveal himself, and he would see his true colors soon…

“You’re most recent medical indicated that you suffered from a heart murmur while you were working here. Is that still true?”

Smackdown rolled his head. His neck craned and ached terribly and it felt like his head might actually fall off. But somehow, he managed to get it upright and look at the obscured face of the man questioning him.

“It’s important we know exactly what you can’t take, Will. Otherwise, we might do something… regrettable.”

“It’s Smackdown now,” he replied. The words sounded like steel wool scratching against a pot. Smackdown tried to swallow, but the act proved too painful. His throat was so dry that any attempt at moisten it felt like he was trying to force sand down his esophagus. He tried clearing it next, but that felt like more steel wool, this time grating against his tender vocal cords.

He heard a barely audible whisper. Within seconds, the guard came to his side and placed a sponge on his face. The cool traces of water felt like deliverance, and Smackdown opened his mouth to receive some stray droplets. Knowing the drill, the guard remoistened it and placed it above his head. Smackdown opened his mouth again and aimed it upward, receiving every drop that was squeezed out of it. He could tell from the smell the sponge was well used and the water brackish and murky. But at the moment, he didn’t care, and guessed that his body wouldn’t either.

“Better?” Bill’s voice asked from beyond the circle of light.

Smackdown nodded, dipping his head forward and feeling the light burn through his hair to grace his skin again. The water quickly dribbled away down his face, onto his sweat-stained shirt, and disappeared into the folds of his clothes. Whatever traces of cleanliness and relief it offered were quickly absorbed by a hot, grungy body.

“Better,” he replied. Though he knew it wouldn’t last, and it would be awhile before he could expect anything more.

He heard some footsteps approaching, and felt the sharp slap of a file folder landing on his knees. It was already open when it landed, and several photos looked up at him.

“You’ve been busy recruiting,” said Bill. “Ten freaks, all in the space of a few months.”

Freaks, Smackdown noted. The word was making the rounds, and now Bill was using it himself.

“And between the eleven of you, you’ve really made an impression. People are saying how the criminal underworld is running scared. The pimps, the pushers, even the Brotherhood itself… some say you’re even making enemies at City Hall.”

A silence followed. Smackdown felt it, sensing that he was expected to reply at this point. He knew the dance, what was expecting of him. Time to play it…

“Is that why I’m here?” he rasped. “Because of City Hall? Or is someone higher up yanking your chain?”

Another second of silence. He expected Bill might laugh, say something dry or witty. The usual company denials that anyone was forcing their hand or making them do the things they did. Instead, Bill’s reply was incredibly swift and surprising.

His knuckles impacted him on the left cheek, sending Smackdown’s head rolling over. He yelped, just in time to get another blow on the same cheek. A third blow, and Bill began speaking again…

“Is that what you think this is, Will? You think this is some bullshit black op?”

Smackdown turned to look up at Bill’s eyes. They were directly above him now, staring down at him and blocking the light. But it didn’t matter much. In those eyes, he saw the same burning intent the light had provided moments earlier.

And then came another series of blows, from the right this time against his other cheek. Bill dealt him another three, each punctuated by some hard words.

“This is war, you fucking idiot! War! You started a goddamned free-for-all. And now we’ve got to clean up your mess.”

The words stopped as soon as the hitting did. Smackdown looked back up into the light, where Bill’s head no longer loomed above him. His neck now felt like someone had taken a torque wrench to it and twisted it the wrong way by several degrees. And he could feel a small trickle of blood pooling in his mouth. One of the last blows had knocked something loose…

Bill reached for the photos next and pulled them in front of his face. He shook them as he finally issued the instruction this meeting was built around.

“You’re going to tell me who these people are and where we can find them. You’re going to make sure we bring them in peacefully and quietly, or else this war is gonna go on and cost a whole lot of lives.” He leaned in again to deliver the last of it. “You’re going to do this, because one way or another, these freaks are going down. And you can make it easier on all of us. Especially you.”

It took all the strength he had left to look Bill in the eye. But somehow, Smackdown managed to get his head on a level with his and see the white of his eyes. Somehow, they didn’t look so incendiary anymore. Though it was hard to tell, thanks to the haze of drugs, pain and discomfort he was looking through.

“What did they do to you, Bill?” he said, his voice so scratchy it was barely audible. “When did you become such an asshole?”

Bill’s face changed. He couldn’t tell, but it looked like it was moving at the corners, as if he might be smiling.

“You wanna see an asshole?” He turned away and snapped his fingers. The door opened again and he could hear the sounds of wheels and footsteps, followed quickly by the door shutting. Bill’s head blocked it all now, so he had no idea what was happening until the telltale sensation of clamps being attached to the fingernails on his right hand.

Bill stepped back and left the circle of light, making his way over to the cart that no sat just outside it.

“I got plenty of time, Will,” he said, grabbing hold of the instruments on the cart. “And I can make sure you suffer long and hard.”

“Bill… you can’t-“

The words were cut off abruptly. Smackdown yelped as the first wave hit his arm and traveled up to meet his neck. Very quickly, it spread to all other areas of his body, causing every muscle to be pulled far tighter than they dared. And just as quickly, it ended. Smackdown took several breaths, his heart racing and feeling like every other stretched fiber in his frame. He emitted a small chuckle as soon as he could.

“I remember that sting,” he said painfully. “I seem to remember it being on a lower setting when they made us go through it back in training.”

Another burst hit him, this one worse than the last. Smackdown yelled again, the surge of current turning his body into a tight, flexed, fireball. Every nerve fired at once, his bones feeling like they would snap under the strain his muscles were putting on them. His head fell back and his legs felt like they might break free of their bonds. By the time it was all over, he felt something wet and warm flowing in his pants.

“They were surprisingly gentle to us in training,” Bill said. His voice sounded incredibly low now, the shock and pain making everything seem like it had had the volume turned down. “You wouldn’t believe how high these things really go. And what with all the terrorist suspects we have to process, we really do get to fool around with the settings these days.”

Smackdown needed much longer this time to recover. His heart was beyond racing, and his muscles felt like they were continuing to spasm long after the current was on. But Bill was determined to let him speak between volleys, so he would. Something less provocative this time…

“Bill… why are you doing this?”

That got a scoff. “Why? Because we’re old friends?”

Smackdown coughed, dislodging something slimy and thick. “No… I mean you know as well as I do what the playbook says about torture. You do this now, I might tell you something to make it stop. But come back tomorrow, I won’t have anything for you. And you are coming on way too strong here friend…”

“Really?” said Bill.

Smackdown nodded, a motion which produced some serious discomfort. “If this is how you plan to get info from me, you’re going to fail… You got no options after this pal. None…”

Bill made a thoughtful noise. Smackdown could hear the implied sarcasm in his tone, but knew Bill understood what he was getting at.

“Makes me wonder what you’re thinking here, Bill. Do you even really want their names… or is something else happening here?”

Bill reached for the cart. Smackdown braced for the third wave, but was pleasantly surprised when none came. Instead, Bill shut down the current and motioned to the guard. Reaching down he picked up the bucket that had been resting by his feet and brought it forward. Taking up a spot directly by his head, the guard shoved Smackdown’s head back at a tight angle and readied himself to pour.

“Will… Will… Will… have you not heard? Rules have changed boy. You torture anyone long enough, and they’ll do whatever you want. They’ll tell you all you want to know, just for the sweet relief death will provide.”

Bill came around to his other side and looked down into his eyes again. Though no electricity was flowing him anymore, he didn’t feel any less vulnerable. In fact, he looked to what was coming next with complete dread. He only hoped the tremors he was now experiencing would appear like spasms.

“Last chance, Will. Tell me who your colleagues are and where I can find them. Or you’ll get every play out of the playbook, one after another.”

Smackdown took a deep breath. The last one he knew he would have for some time to come.

“My name… is Smackdown…”

Bill’s eyes lost their intensity and he looked gravely at the man standing across from him. A nod passed between them, and the bucket was brought up and tipped. The bright light staring down at Smackdown went dark, and a cold wave struck his straight in the face. Very quickly, it was invading his nose and mouth. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t hold it off for long, and the terrible urge to cough and dispel overtook him.

He waited for an eternity for it to stop, and spent another trying to clear it all from his lungs. Mercifully, they had let him hand his head forward, which made it slightly easier. When he was done, he had no voice left, and every rasp that escaped his lips was a grinding agony.

“Let’s take a break,” said Bill. “We’ve got all night, and I’ve got several more plays I wanna run. That okay with you, Smack-down?”

Bill’s hand landed on his back, causing another volley of coughs and sputters. If Smackdown could have replied, he might have said something witty or dry. As it stood, his sense of humor, like his voice, was spent.

“I’m going to grab some coffee and see you in a few minutes.” He felt a slight smack on his knees, looked down to see the photos again. “While we’re gone, look at those faces, Will. Think of what they’ll look like staring up at you, dead and lifeless. The twisted look of shock and betrayal completely impossible to erase.”

He heard a noise at the door, a slow jarring of hinges and the sounds of two sets of boots leaving. They paused at the point of leaving, right before the door shut behind them with a loud clang.

“We’re going to find them, Will. It’s only a matter of time. Consider what I’ve said. Make it easier on yourself and all of them.”

The door slammed shut, leaving Smackdown alone in the room. He sat there with his head hung forward, the cold drops running from his face and the hot burning light above his only company. Having endured all they could throw at him for at least one sitting, his body once again fell into a state of dark, blessed unconsciousness. When he would eventually wake up again, he would have no way of knowing how much time had passed. But that was to be expected.

Time, like everything else, had a way of disappearing inside places like these…

The Infiltrators: A Revenger Mission Update!

super-soldier-in-reposeMorning Revengers! I hope everyone is well rested and alert, because today, we do what needs to be done and put an end to a conspiracy decades in the making. With Mike Tyrene dead and his code now cracked, a device which bestows superhuman ability is being sought out by shadowy forces. Even worase, there are shadowy forces who will stop at nothing to keep it to themselves. And so we go in…

As you all know, the mission consists of three phases. Phase one involves our advance team scouting out the approach to the building and taking down any sentries and security barriers. Phase two involves a breach and clear team hitting the storehouse itself and destroying the alien device housed within. Phase three involves the deployment of all our reserves should things get hairy or phase two fails.

Our advance team is already on the move, approaching the storehouse and assessing the defenders. Keep your ears attuned to the report now coming in from its members, Atrum Auditor, Erotica Girl, Pax and Styka. Keep your fingers crossed and hope they make it in without getting detected. Otherwise, this mission is over before it begins…

*                    *                    *

Even crouched, the ladies could feel the cool breeze rolling through the glen. The field leading up to their target was open and provided for very little cover, aside from the waist high grasses that ran up to the very outer wall surrounding it. No doubt, the field was once dotted with tall pines and maples, cut down long ago to give the defenders a clear view on potential intruders. At their feet, the dirt was soft and smelt of marshes. No doubt there were plenty of snakes and other nasty things crawling around in it.

Styka rose into a bent hunch to get a better look at the building in the near distance. With so much firepower and electronic barriers, they had little need to worry about people coming to stare and ask questions. If anyone even entered the outer premises, they would lose interest very quickly! Blaring klaxons and a dozen laser sights aimed at your face had a way of doing that to people…

Can you hear me? Styka messaged, sending her thoughts out to the one’s waiting several hundred meters away. Back where there was still forests for cover, several kilometers away from the main road, the intended recipient called back.

[Of course. We’re sitting tight. What do you see?]

[See for yourself.] Focusing all that her eyes and ears were reporting to her, she sent it all streaming back to the treeline, where Atrum and Pax were waiting and attuned to her thoughts. Within seconds, they were seeing all she was seeing. The open field, the tall mesh fence surrounding the main building, the men in black fatigues walking inside and outside of it. She was even able to bear down on them, using all the strength of her mind’s eye to hear what they were thinking, and see the weapons they had in their hands.

[Not very encouraging,] Atrum came back. [I can feel those men’s minds, not very soft and cuddly, are they?]

[Private military contractors, surely. I can see everything they have, right down to their utility belts. Is Smackdown in touch with you yet?]

[He’s in my right ear. Between him and you, I much prefer talking to you!]

Styka smiled. For several more seconds, she carried on this way with the two men. For Erotica Girl, it felt like an eternity. Huddled next to her, relying on her invisibility to keep her hidden from men prowling the field, she was not in the most patient of moods. Styka might know she was there by the mere presence she was casting in her mind. But Erotica, lacking the psychic means to link with her, had to trust that her friend had not wandered off. Silence was a killer under those circumstances.

“What’s the play?” she whispered. Styka was a moment in coming back.

“We’re just sizing up the defenders. I can sense six men prowling the field out here. They’re armed with MP5’s, automatics and unsuppressed. Three of them are close at hand and will have to go down.”

“Only three…” Erotica said, smiling a devilish smile. “They’re making this too easy.”

“We need to be careful. Anything too noisy and we’ll blow the whole op. I can sense where they are, but you can’t.”

“Just point me at mine,” Erotica insisted.

Styka took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. “Fine. Three o’clock is the closest one. I’ve got another one at ten. I’ll take him, you take the one to the left.”

“Meet you in the middle,” Erotica whispered, and slowly began to crawl her way forward. Styka did the same, and both began moving their way through the thick grass. Neither dared move faster than a snails pace, for fear that the movement would be seen from afar as something other than the wind dancing through it.

*                    *                    *

They waited as calmly as they could, all the while forced to feel every move and impact the girls were laying down. They could see the poor bastards as they walked unsuspectingly through the tall grass. One minute they were looking on, completely unaware of the silent, invisible person at their feet. The next minute, they were looking up at the sky, right before a boot or fist landed on them and turned their world to black.

And at the edge of their consciousness, cut off from that live psychic feed, Atrum and Pax maintained their private link with each other, discussing the plan one last time before its execution.

[As soon as they’re clear, we jump in and teleport into the building proper. The girls take down the last of the sentries, we disable the alarms before anyone can call for reinforcements.]

[I remember] replied Pax. [Seems inelegant compared to the last mission. What if we run afoul of additional security guards again?]

[In that case, be glad you can heal yourself. You won’t have to wait for someone else to remove the bullet for you.]

Pax chuckled internally. He had to remind himself sometimes that death was little more than a temporary inconvenience for him, and a genuine source of terror for others. He couldn’t imagine what it must be like, having to wait on others to undue the damage wrought by bullets, blunt objects or terrible falls. For that, he just had to wait and let nature take its course.

[How about this? Let me jump in ahead of you. Maybe I can distract anyone we run into long enough for you to get inside and cover my ass]

[Sounds like a plan] Atrum said at last. [Now hang on, I got the Captain buzzing me again]

Atrum placed his finger to his ear and broke off his link with Pax. Between the ladies in the field, their private conversation, and the audio bug in his ear, there was only so much he could do. One had to give so he could once again speak to the antsy commander waiting in the vehicle behind.

“Captain, Erotica and Styka are through the sentries guarding the field. They’ve spotted numerous guards posted behind the fence line though. We’re preparing to jump in. We’ll signal you once we’re inside.”

He let go the bug, hoping the Captain would take the hint. But of course, Smackdown wasn’t finished yet.

“Change of plans, I want my team to take to the air before you jump in. Once Tsunami, Angel and Panacea are up, that should distract whatever guards they got posted outside the base.”

Atrum noted the tone of his voice, placed his finger back to his ear.

“Sounds wise, Captain. Any reason for the change? You worried we can’t handle things?”

“No,” he said flatly. “Just that feeling I get, like we’re not seeing everything just yet.”

Atrum frowned. He had looked into their progress of their mission several times via his mind’s eye, found nothing out of the ordinary. Always, in situations like these, the outcomes could be blurry and grey, subject to all kinds of chaos and happenstance. But wherever there was something unmistakable, like a trap just waiting to close, he would see it. That kind of intent never failed to register.

“Alright, Captain. We’ll be moving as soon as you’re ready.”

“Standby,” Smackdown replied, and signed off.

Atrum released the bug again. He took a deep breath and tried to still the pounding in his chest.

[Everything alright?] Pax asked, reaching out to establish their link again.

[We’re going in. Captain’s about to launch a distraction.]

[Distraction?] Pax came back. [What kind?]

Atrum took another breath and began focusing inward, preparing to make the jump in. [Just wait for the sonic boom.]

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!

Calling All Revengers…

Batman_gothamHello comrades, thank you all for coming. We’ve completed work on our first three missions and it’s time to take stock of what we’ve done. In our first sorties as a crime fighting justice league, we managed to take down a mob boss, a corrupt city counselor, a  notorious pimp, and a drug manufacturing operation that threatened to pollute our city. In the process, we also saved several lives and made the lives of many more better and safer.

Yes, the city sleeps more soundly tonight thanks to the work of hardened men and women who are willing to do what is necessary to put the scum and the filth where they belong. And yet, it seems that despite our recent efforts, the problems of crime, corruption and abuse goes far deeper than anyone thought. We’ve pulled back the surface layer of scum only to find that the infection runs deep.

DoubleMurderIt is as an old friend of mine used to say: “You dig a few feet, you’ll find five bodies. You dig ten feet, you’ll find a hundred.” And so it is time to consider what our next moves will be. And I can think of no better place than to consider what was learned from our first three engagements. During our first outing, we learned that Joey the Stare Keithly or Councilman Harlan. We noted the presence of a telepath at that engagement, and this requires some further investigation.

Second came the rather cryptic message discovered by Judgement while investigating the case of the DA’s office and the business tycoon. After finding both parties dead in the DA’s office, her uncovered a note with three words: Princess” and “the Oracle”. Apparently, these names allude to positions of leadership in the N-Feed community. Naturally, Judgement considers this an internal matter, but our organization has several N-Feed members who are offering their help. We need to look farther into this at some point.

And finally, our interrogation of Billy Bob revealed that his operations are partly controlled by the Bratzsva, the Ukrainian mafia. The drug plant and his brothels are no free of his tyrannical influence, but they remain in effect. What’s more, the girls still need to be liberated and his lieutenants taken down. We don’t want one of them stepping up to fill the void left by Bob’s departure. It’s time to burn this infection out from the source!

And of course, the floor is open for further suggestions. Anybody know of some scumbags or crooked bastards that need to be taken down? Or perhaps there are some innocents who need a helping hand? Or, just a suggestion, a PR mission to let the public know exactly who we are and what we do? It aint all about hurting people, after all. Oh, and always remember to be careful out there!

The Revengers: Operation Pimp Daddy – Conclusion!

batman_interWarning!

The following is a transcript of the interrogation taking place by Captain Smackdown of known pimp, pusher and murderer, William Holstein – aka. Billy Bob. Revengers Panacea and Judgement on hand to assist. All transcriptions have been edited for content but appear otherwise unaltered. The following material is of a highly sensitive nature and is not a matter of public record. Any sharing of this material will result in immediate expulsion from the Revenger League.

*               *                *

Smackdown: Billy? Are you awake? I need you to be awake, Billy…

(Muffled noise)

Smackdown: Ah, good. I was beginning to wonder. You took quite the nasty spill back there, I worried you might be out for days.

Holstein: Wha- where am I?

Smackdown: You’re safe, Billy, for the moment. However, I’m going to ask you some questions, and depending upon the quality of your answers, that might change.

Holstein: Who the **** are you people?

Smackdown: You don’t remember? We’re the people who witnessed you shoot Father Michael. We’re also the people who disarmed you, broke your arm and your nose, and then healed you so we could have this little chat with you… Well, technically, he broke your nose and your arm.

(Scream)

Smackdown: Calm down, Billy. Fear makes him look a lot scarier. If you want him to stay on an even keel, I suggest you cooperate.

Holstein: …Or what?

(Slam)

Judgement: Didn’t he just explain that to you?

Smackdown: Easy now… The “or what” of it is, Billy, if you don’t cooperate, I’m going to reintroduce you to our friend, Judgement here. Right now, myself and this lovely lady are the only ones standing between you and him. She’s the reason you’re even conscious right now. She managed to put you back together after he broke you. And once he’s done with you a second time, I’ll have her do it again. Then I’ll let him go at you again a third time, and a fourth, and as many times as it takes for you to start talking. After awhile, the psychological trauma of having your bones broken over and over and over again will start to get to you…

Holstein: You… you can’t do this!

Smackdown: Oh yes we can, Billy. And we will do it, as many times as are necessary for you to tell us everything about your operation. And I mean everything – the pimping, the pushing, the prostitution, the drugs you’ve got under development, and your ongoing relationship with Gus Darby.

Holstein: What the hell’s that supposed to mean? You calling me some kind of ***? I aint got nothing going on with Darby!

(Pause)

Panacea: Captain, do I have to heal him again? He kind of sounds like he could use beating.

Holstein: Man, **** you *****! Yeah, I seen hoes like you all over town! You think I’m scared of you? (spits)

Judgement: You son of *****!

Smackdown: Judgement, no-

(Thrashing. Thuds. Crunching noise.)

Holstein: (screams)

(Quiet)

Smackdown: That’s… great. That’s just great. Now we gotta go through all this again! That’s just great!

Judgement: You warned him.

Smackdown: I know! Somehow, I thought he’d be smarter than that.

Panacea: One second, I’ve got it.

(Time elapse, 1 hour 15 minutes, 3 seconds)

Smackdown: Okay! You’re awake again, shall we try this again? Billy, stay with me here! (smacking noise) Billy! Don’t go out on me again or you’ll wake up in a much worse position.

Holstein: Wha… wha… (Screams)

Smackdown: (multiple smacking noise) That’s good, you remember our friend here. Now I suggest you show some more respect to Panacea, because right now she’s the only friend you got. I stopped liking you the moment you started ******* around with us! And trust me when I tell you, she could rip you in half, she just chooses not to.

Holstein: (sobs)

Smackdown: That’s a good boy… Now, do you remember what I asked about before?

Holstein: (sobbing) no…

Smackdown: We want to know everything about your business. We want locations of brothels, drop points, contact names, we want the location of your drug dens, we want all the dirt you’ve got on Darby. We want to know where your men are and how many you got. And to top it all off, we want you to get the hell out of dodge and never lay a hand on a young woman again. Do you understand?

Holstein: I… I can’t…

Judgement: Bone-breaking time!

Smackdown: NO!

Panacea: At ease, big guy. I think he wants to cooperate, he’s just saying he can’t. Is that right?

Holstein: They’ll kill me…

Smackdown: Who?

Holstein: Who do you think? The Brotherhood… they’re the guys that tell me where to find the girls. They moved awhile back, said they were taking a piece of everything in the city. I had no choice! But I just turn them out, use them to work in their clubs and as runners. They said they wanted my girls to sell the stuff…

Smackdown: You mean that drug you’re developing?

Holstein: Not me! It’s not my stuff, they just set me up with one of their cook operations. I was supposed to use my girls to distribute. Cops always go easier on tricked out girls, but they never talk! They NEVER talk! They know what the Brotherhood will do to them!

Panacea: And you

Holstein: No, I swear! I just keep em in line. Pick em up when they’re on the street, give them a trade-

Judgement: You call selling their bodies for smack A TRADE!

Holstein: The lot of them would be dead if it weren’t for me!

Smackdown: The lot of them die because of you, Billy. Sooner or later, they do something to displease you and end up in the gutter, we’ve all seen it? Would you like to review some of your more colorful victims? (photos landing on the table) Take a look! Take a look at what lividity and exposure do. Take a look at how the eyes turn all milky and grey. (more photos) And here’s what they look like when they’ve been disposed of off the beaten path.

Holstein: No!

Judgement: Look at them! LOOK AT YOUR HANDY WORK!

Holstein: (Screams) I swear! I never meant to hurt them! But some of them… they started sneaking samples for themselves… without permission! The Brotherhood said they had to go… No hos can be allowed to steal, they said! I only did what they told me to do!

(Pause, sobbing)

Panacea: You’re a disgusting man, Billy. A weak, disgusting man. But you’re also telling the truth, aren’t you? You killed these girls on their orders, and you did it because your a coward. You really and truly are afraid of what they’ll do to you if you don’t.

Judgement: What about the Father? What was his crime?

Holstein: Man, I didn’t do nothing! Those guys that were with me, they aren’t even my men! The Brotherhood sends them to me, says they are supposed to protect me. But I know what they’re there for! They make sure I don’t step out of line! And they’re ******* crazy man, you saw that! They see the Father making for me, and they shoot him right there.

Panacea: I hate to say it, Captain. But he seems to be telling the truth about that too.

Judgement: How do you know? Since when did your dossier include telepathy?

Panacea: Never, Judgement. But I do happen to have something that lets me know when people are being honest and when they are being disingenuous. It’s called empathy, you should look it up sometime.

Smackdown: Not now, you two. We still got a job to do… Billy! Look at me! You give us what we want, and we can talk about protection for you. And I’m not talking about police or witness protection. I’m talking about us.

Judgement: Captain!

Smackdown: I don’t see a way around this. As it stands, you’re partner, Mr. Darby, is already being investigated. Those men of yours, the Brotherhood men, they were arrested on charges of attempted murder. Word on the street is they spilled on you. They told the police you shot the Father, that you and Darby have a relationship, that you’re responsible for the better part of drugs and prostitution in the city.

Holstein: Wha- No way! They’re Brotherhood men, they never talk!

Smackdown: Well, my guess is that the Brotherhood is looking to cut its losses with you after the shooting in the Cathedral. You want to live, you better help us get to the root of them. You let us know everything you know about their operations, we shut em down, and then you can leave and go about making a new life for yourself, sans the smut, of course!

Judgement: (aside) Or we could just let him go, let the Brotherhood do what they want to him and work our way up to the next scumbag on the food chain.

Panacea: Animal!

Judgement: Bleeding heart!

Smackdown: Not so fast! We’re not letting him go until he gives us something we can use.

Judgement: And then?

Smackdown: Then we’ll discuss the possibility of using him as bait.

Panacea: Uh, Captain…

Smackdown: Safely, of course. We only want to use him if we can to lure bigger scum into the spotlight, not to have them kill each other off. That would be wrong…

Panacea: (uncertainly) Thank you…

Smackdown: So Billy! What’s it going to be? I think its fair to say we just became friends again. And we’re really the only ones you got right now. You can stick with us, and maybe live to see the New Year. Or, we can let you go and you can try to convince the Brotherhood that nothing happened here tonight, and you didn’t tell us that they were the ones doing all the pimping and the pushing in this city. Your choice…

Holstein: Oh God…

Judgement: Little lat to pray, shooter boy…

Smackdown: What’ll it be?

Holstein: Fine… just don’t let them kill me, please!

Smackdown: We won’t, Billy. You can count on us. We might have to take guys like you down from time to time. But we’ll never let you down, not once you’ve put your trust in us.

Panacea: That’s a promise, Billy. Consider yourself lucky you know us…

Judgement: I think I’m gonna be sick… We’re seriously bringing this ******* under our protection?

Smackdown: Hey, don’t worry about it. You guys got off to a rought start. By the end of the week, I imagine you two will be… good friends!

Judgement: (growls)

Smackdown: That’s the spirit!

Revengers: Operation Pimp Daddy Proceeds!

Revenger_TakedownWelcome back, Revengers! As you know, our ongoing mission to rid the city of evil and thwart its evildoers is proceeding as planned. As you are also no doubt aware, our latest mission concerns the notorious pimp and scumbag William “Billy Bob” Holstein. After years of enlisting and abusing the city’s vulnerable, he has expanded his repertoire to include blackmail and the drug trade. Naturally, we have reason to worry, and reason to take him down…

Thus far, our point lady has been Panacea, who was kind enough to provide some in depth-surveillance on the subject and his movements. His brothels have been located, his base of operations – a restaurant co-owned with “respectable” entrepreneur Gus Darby – and his route getting to and from the one to the other. However, his drug labs, where a new super-addictive and potent narcotic is being produced, remains a mystery to us. Therefore, top priority must be given to located this place and destroying it. The city is already overrun with poisons!

As per her last field report, Panacea indicated that Billy Bob’s nightly route from Darby’s bistro took him home by way of an underground tunnel which is hidden underneath one of our city’s overpasses. This tunnel leads, eventually, into the basement of St.John’s Cathedral, located in the city’s Old Irish district. After confronting Father Michael, the resident priest, and determining he was not involved, she was able to secure his cooperation with our endeavor.

Naturally, as a man of faith, Father Michael wanted guarantees that Billy Bob would be brought down without excessive violence. In exchange, he agreed to alert our group as to when Billy Bob would be passing through again. Myself, your humble Captain, Judgement and Panacea have been waiting for the signal for several nights. And last night, it finally came…

“The night was cold and wet, unforgiving in it’s own right, and indiscriminate. Those who chose to use it as cover for their insidious activities felt its bight. Unfortunately, so did the innocent people who had no choice but to toil beneath its oppressive weight.

But tonight, the evening had new plans in mind, plans of a discriminate nature. Plans which involved carefully laid revenge. And from multiple vantage points near St. John’s Cathedral, its guarantors watched and waited…

“How much longer do we have to wait?” asked one through the comlink the team was using. For what felt like forever, he had been drawing in the night’s dark energy to himself, charging his inner stores with the life force he would need to unleash hell.

“At ease, Judgement,” replied the Captain. “Panacea has ears on the entire thing. The second we get the go ahead from the good father, we’ll move.”

“I still say he can’t be trusted.”

“He’s trusting us too. Don’t forget that.”

The comlink did not convey the grumbles coming from Judgements end, but Smackdown imagined he could hear them and smiled. It was never easy, coordinating multiple assets, especially ones with super-powers. But coordinating the likes of Judgement with Panacea, that would be a minor miracle in itself.

Alas, he knew they were both needed on tonight’s op, and both had their reasons for wanting to be here. For Panacea, this was about stopping the man who put all those girls through hell, turning them from desperate souls with nowhere to turn to the wretches she saw every night walking the streets and lying in gutters.

For Judgement, it was about stopping the flow of drugs and other poisons the notorious Billy Bob was pushing. That and the fact that he had been freely abusing innocent girls for as long as he had… Suffice it to say, he wasn’t sure Bob would be making it through the night without extreme pain. Another reason he needed Panacea on hand, her healing abilities would surely be needed!

“Eagle’s Nest to Captain,” the comlink became active again. It was Panacea’s voice on the other end.

“Read you loud and clear, Eagle’s Nest,” he said, using the call signs they had set for the op. “What’s the view like?”

“I have ears on our good father,” she said. “The sermon’s about to begin.”

“Let me hear,” he commanded. Within seconds, the audio bug she had implanted became audible to every member of their team.

“Good evening everyone. So nice to see so many familiar faces here tonight. I am glad for the turnout, as this is a rather special evening…”

“Oh, he’s there alright,” said Judgement, clogging up the line.

“Cut the chatter, big Jay, the man’s talking,” said Smackdown.

“C’mon, listen to that leadup. He’s giving us the green light.”

“Wait for it, my hasty friend!”

The debate ceased and Father Michael’s words began to stream through the link again, a particular theme beginning to form.

“In these times of uncertainty, we often look to each other for support and guidance. We remind ourselves that in days where evil, torment and woe are the norm that the only things we can count upon is our faith and each other. But what if we were to learn that the very causes of these evils and torments were among us?”

“Um, Captain…” Panacea said over the line. Smackdown didn’t reply, simply listened in. He too was concerned. The nature of the sermon seemed to be straying from what they had agreed on.

“What if the forces of evil were among us, hiding in plain sight, and fooling us with their phony smiles and their false charity? What if, we were to learn, that we were blind to such acts merely because we were too foolish to see it in our midst? I confess, my parishioners, that their is much evil in this world that I have failed to see. Evil which operated beneath my very nose, within THESE VERY WALLS!”

“Shit, he’s jumping the gun!” said Smackdown.

“Are we a go?” asked Judgement. Smackdown hesitated. It sounded very much like the Father was about to confront Billy directly, something they had specifically asked him not to do. Takedowns were tricky, not something to be done by unskilled people.

“We’re a go,” he said, jumping from the car. “Follow me in, I’m making for the front doors in under one mike.”

Smackdown from the rear of his car and opened the trunk. Grabbing a hold of his tactical shotgun, he was sure to snag a few flashbangs and snag them onto his belt. From behind, Judgement moved to his side through a series of leaps and bounds, assisted as he was by his telekinesis. With some practice, he had learned to hurl himself as easily as he could foreign objects.

Panacea, meanwhile, descended from above, taking the ground from her perch above the bell tower. She drifted easily from the steps to the car, taking a spot at their side.

“What’s happening now?” she asked. Smackdown pushed the comlink in his ear deeper to hear what was happening within.

“We have evil among us!” the father screamed. “And it resides… right there!”

Yelps began to arise from a hundred sources at once, the sounds of fearful revelation. They were followed by loud screams and angry declarations, the unmistakable sounds of mass panic.

He released the link. “Crap! He’s made Billy! We have to go before- “

The sounds of multiple shots resounded from within the Cathedral. Smackdown, Judgement and Panacea all looked to the front door with a sense of dread. All of their faces wore the same expression…

What had just happened?

*               *               *

Tune in next time for the exciting continuance of Operation Pimp Daddy and the ongoing adventures of the The Revengers!

The Revengers: Operation Pimp Daddy!

gargoyleThe following is a transcript of events that occurred on the evening of Dec. 12th, 2012 in the confines of the St. John’s Cathedral. Revenger agent Panacea on scene, questioning a possible informant:

“The room’s soft lighting reflected off the ornate stone work, adding to the atmosphere that was already in abundance, thanks to the Gregorian chant collection playing in the background. Father Michael moved from pew to pew, gathering his strength after another evening mass and trying his best to shake off the burden of another day’s worth of confessions. Such terrible secrets the people of this city held, and such pain. One had to wonder if anyone would ever be capable of shouldering it all…

His eyes drifted to the front, where the bronze figure of the Savior hung on the cross. How sad he looked, his eyes downcast to the ground as he died. How heavily burdened he seemed too, carrying all of the world as he did on his slender shoulders, the cruelties, horrors, pains, petty jealousies of so many, the sin and vice of entire race. Was it really the nails and the spear point that had done him in, or was it the crushing weight of his children’s own nature?

Better you than me, he thought with some degree of mirth. At times like this, it was important to remember that one was never alone on the great battlefield. It was important to keep a sense of humor as well, otherwise one could go mad.

The father’s heart fluttered when he heard a noise behind him. His old bones could not turn fast enough to see what had caused it, but he knew something was back there, hiding in the knave somewhere. He began to walk slowly towards the rear, calling to it loudly.

“Who’s back there?” he said aloud. “Father Cleo? Are you back there?”

No answer. He approached it more quickly.

“Jack? If you’re sneaking around back there, I’m going to have to ask you to stop it. The congregation hall is no place for you and your brothers to be at play.”

He heard another noise. This time, it came from his left. His eyes were drawn to the far corner of the room, a small stand of candles that were rocking back and forth.

His heart picked up again as he realized that whoever, or whatever, was there was taking great pains not to be noticed. He turned back to the front to face the Saviour. He had known the risks of coming to the inner city to do the Lord’s work. He had been warned many times over what challenges he would be facing, and the dangers he would be asked to brave. He had always known that sooner or later, a misguided soul might come knocking, a poor fool who knew not what he did, but was prepared to do it.

“I shall fear no evil,” he whispered to himself. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath to stoke his courage, and turned again to address the source. “Who is there? If you’re in here still, show yourself. You have nothing to fear from me.”

He walked back towards the altar and heard another small bump, but got no indication of where it was coming from. By now, the noise echoed off the walls and sounded like it could be coming from just about anywhere. Since it would not appear, he simply spoke ahead, knowing that it would hear him no matter which way he faced.

“If you are looking for money, I can tell you you won’t find much in here. Whatever we have is marked for good works and it is taken away on a daily basis. If you’re looking for drugs, you’ve come to the wrong place. The only things n here are aspirin, communion wine and my rheumatoid medication, and I don’t think you’d find much enjoyment there. And anything you might want to steal would be impossible to fence too. Pawn shops don’t take cherished religious items much, very little resale value.”

He was almost laughing now. He felt his courage returning by small increments, until he felt like a servant of God again. No fear in the face of evil, only forgiveness.

“If you are looking for food, shelter and forgiveness though, I have plenty to offer…” he looked around, waiting to see if that elicited any response. “Why don’t you come out and we will see what we can do for you?”

A slight breeze blew through the knave. The flames of every candle flickered as the slight chill passed them by.

“Father…” a voice said. Michael spun around to see a classical figure standing before him. His mind flashed back to seminary, all the research and study he had been required to do on the motifs and iconography of ancient Rome and Byzantium. Figured cared from marble and metals, perfect in their proportions and sculpted in their physiques. And yet, he knew that this one was very much real. A true physical specimen that now stood before him.

He took a deep breath and found his voice. “What can I do for you, my child?”

She took several steps forward, her boots clopping against the stone floor and the lapels of her white gown brushing against her legs. The candlelight sparkled off her green eyes and was dangerously close ot mesmerizing him. He listened closely so as not to fall under any spell she might be wielding.

“I bear a message,” she said. “The house of the Lord is being transgressed by men of depravity. They seek to make a new house of this city, a house of inequity and lust. Already, these men control a great deal of young women through the manufacture and sale of drugs, and seek to sell them to men to sate their most wanton and base desires.”

Father Michael drew back and tried to take in all he was being told. He was at once horrified and insulted by the thought.

“Who are these men? How are they using my church? What are you accusing us of?”

The lady raised her hand and smiled gently. “You are innocent in these crimes, Father, or so I believe. Your house is being used against its will, against yours. We seek your help in reigning these men in and restoring this place to its intended purpose. If you would help us, that is…”

Michael blinked a few times and ran his hand over his mouth. He was feeling suddenly fatigued and his back was beginning to ache. The ravages of old age and a life dedicated to others, he knew.

“Perhaps we would be more comfortable speaking in the rectory. I am in need of a drink and I think I should be sitting for the rest of this.”

The lady-goddess moved to his side and laid a hand on his shoulder. Father Michael stopped in his tracks and straightened. He drew in a deep breath and almost cried out. A blinding sensation filled him suddenly, driving out all vestiges of pain and fatigue. His eyes illuminated with a new clarity and everything around him became painfully clear in that instant.

She withdrew her hand. Father Michael looked down and took several more deep breaths to still his pounding heart. The sensation faded, but the pain and fatigue did not return. He looked to her and saw her with new found clarity and energy, charged by something incredibly bright and lively deep inside him.

“What did you do to me?” he asked. “Are you heaven-sent? An angel sent from the Lord?”

She smiled. “No, father. Just a messenger with her share of gifts, and a servant in her own right. And now I need you to listen, for we don’t have much time. Your quarry and ours is a man by the name of Robert B. Farnsworth, aka. Billy Bob. Do you know him?”

Father Michael’s memory seemed unusually clear. He recalled that name instantly. “Robert Bolton Farnsworth,” he said with a smile, and quickly turned it to a frown. “A troubled lad if ever I saw one. He was a student at the Sister Mary School for many years, but was removed because of all the trouble he would get himself into.” His frown turned to a look of dismay. “Is he the one doing all that you’ve said? Is he reducing women to the status of sex slaves?”

She closed her eyes and nodded somberly. Father Michael felt a sudden burst of flame in his heart and stamped his foot against the stone.

“That damnable cur! I knew he wasn’t coming here out of sincerity! I should have known! I should have seen it! He never changes! Thrice-damned liar!”

He continued to stomp around, placing his feet against the stonework and slamming against it with a ferocity he had not felt in years. He would have been surprised at his own vitality, were he not so consumed with rage. He had known Robert as a lad, seen him grow into a troubled youth, and then lost site of him for many years as he continued to go in and out of juvenile offenders programs. He had been relatively controllable when his mother still lived, but when she died…

“Father,” the woman said finally. “I need you to calm down. If we’re to stop him, we need your help. It’s only a matter of time before he returns, and we need to know when he does.”

Father Michael turned to face her. “What is he doing here? Is he using my church for some of his misdeeds?”

“Only it’s location, Father. Your church sits atop an ancient tunnel that runs under the city. He has been using for some time to allude detection and to find his way back to where he runs his operations in secret. When he comes through next, we need to know so we can tail him. We’ll take care of the rest.”

Father Michael nodded. He had heard rumors of an old network that ran into St. John’s, an avenue from the earliest days of the church’s existence when Catholics fears about the Reformation were still widespread. The tunnel had been meant to serve as an escape route, should the powers that be dispatch any officers on orders of the King or Church to round up Catholic heretics. He had never known it to be true or false, or where it ran. Perhaps his predecessor had known something of it, but failed to pass it on. In either case, the thought that it was being used for such purposes as this filled him with disgust.

Still, there was one concern he could not allow to slip by without mention.

“And once you have your hands on him, what will you do?”

She smiled again, in that same warm way of hers. “We will dispense justice, Father. But we will not kill him. That is not our way. We only wish to end the harm and torment he is causing, not add to it by enacting sentence. In the absence of authority and justice, we are Judge and Jury, but not executioner.”

Father Michael nodded. “You could say I have your word on that?”

“You can indeed because you do.”

Father Michael nodded again. He didn’t really need to ask, every instinct he had told her she was telling the truth. But better to do so and know that he did. His own conscience would abide nothing less. He lowered his head and asked one final question/

“Very well. How will I contact you?”

“Just speak the name of Justice, father. We will hear you.”

“Justice?” he said, looking up. She was gone. He looked in all directions for a sign of her, but there was none. She had left as easily as she had come.

“Where are you?” he said to the roof itself. It’s beams and buttresses did not reply. “What have you done to me?”

“I lessened your burder, Father. I lightened your load,” a soft voice replied. He knew it to be hers, though he still couldn’t see her.

He ran his hands all over himself and noticed that the pain of his rheumatism was also non-existent. His back was also straighter than it had been in recent memory and devoid of aches. He laughed aloud, and looked back to the heavens.

“Are you sure you’re not heaven sent?”

No answer. It was just as well. He knew he wouldn’t be told either way. A shame, but one could live with.

He walked back to the rectory, a new found bounce in his step. Would anyone believe him if he told them what happened here tonight? Probably not, he reckoned. And that he could live with too. He was sure the only parties that truly mattered had seen all they needed to see, and were quite pleased…

Next up, our exciting take-down of the notorious “Pimp Daddy”, Billy Bob himself!

Revengers Mission Update!

revengers_cadillacRevengers! We have received a crucial update from our agent in the field, Panacea, who has made a crucial discovery about the notorious pimp and hoodlum Billy Bob. As our next mission to rid this city of corruption, evil and influence peddling, she managed to tail our quarry as he once again attempted to elude detection. Here is what she found:

Target: Billy Bob
Target: Billy “Pimp Daddy” Bob

The tunnel is just large enough for a Mercedes to park. The two walk the underground tunnels. There’s more than one and they are well used. The homeless, those who have checked out of society, and run away teens live in them. I’ll have to go back and see who I can save.

But for now …

One of the tunnels leads into the basement of St. John’s Cathedral. The two arrive in time for the end of 6 PM mass. They mingle into the crowd and exit with them. They duck down an alley, just avoiding the street camera, and enter the back door at the abandoned paper mill.

They truly want to keep their plans secret.

Seems they are expanding their business. They’re making a new kind of designer drug and are giving it to their girls, in affect, making them slaves. Billy Bob and Gus are also giving the drug away to potential buyers.

They must be stopped!!!!

Oh yes, I almost forgot. They have a small army watching the place. At around 10PM they sneak their way back into the church and head out for their nightclub.

What’s our plan?

Here is what I would suggest: The abandoned paper mill is our target. So far, we have three volunteers – Panacea, Judgement and myself. On the night in question, we will allow them to do their thing, to think that they continue to act with impunity and have not been detected. Obviously, we cannot risk harming the women who are in there, so the strike will have to be surgical and well timed. When they are finished for the night and pack up to leave, that is when we’ll make our move.

Secure Billy Bob, evacuate the factory, and then we set it to blow! No trace of those designer drugs can be allowed to survive. And with Billy Bob in our custody, I’m sure we can “persuade” him to surrender all the details we’ll need to wrap up his dirty little business. That will include his partnership with the “respectable” Gus Darby, the restauranteur who’s been dipping his pen in Bob’s dirty ink. Here too, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of stories to tell us before we convince him to leave town forever…

And lets not forget the denizens who live in the tunnel. If help can be arranged for them, then we must see to it that they are evacuated to some place that can provide housing and proper care. If not, well… no one need know of their little home once we’ve taken care of Bob, right? One question, Panacea… how sure are we that the people of St. John’s Cathedral aren’t involved?

Revengers Mission #1: The Exciting Conclusion!

Welcome back for the third and final installment in our Revenger Mission One series! Last time, our heroes Atrum Auditor, Erotica Girl and Styka arrived on scene at the city docks to witness a meeting taking place between Councilman Jeff Harlan and crime syndicate boss Joe “The Stare” Keithly. It was meant to be a simple surveillance and capture operation, but it soon went south.

First, Keithly showed up with some hired muscle, ex-military men who had been enhanced to give them telekinetic powers! Then, the team noticed a psychic presence in the area, which appeared to be coming from someone other than the men under surveillance. Something was seriously wrong…

And then, Captain Smackdown and Panacea, fresh from another mission, arrived on the scene hoping to break the tension with a little distraction ploy. Panacea was ready to fly, and the Captain ready to lay a smackdown with his heavy artillery. Everything seemed to be ready to go, until another unexpected surprise happened…

*               *               *

“Ready?” Smackdown said. Panacea opened her door and looked at the ground, speeding precariously fast. “Go!”

Without hesitation, she stepped from the cabin and took to the air. Her arms outstretched, her legs trailing behind her, her body picked up flight and she soared to within fifteen meters of the ground. The entire docks became visible to her as she ascended above the roofs of every warehouse in the area, spotting all the commotion which was taking place around them.

And that’s when she noticed another vehicle coming in from their flank. A hardtop roadster with a lot of pickup, and filled with several armed men from the look of it.

“Captain!” she said into her link. “We’ve got company!”

“More?” he cried. “Where are they coming from?”

“From the north. They look like they’re moving to intercept you.”

The GT slowed and began to arc right on the gravely surface. Small stones were kicked up and the wheels began sliding sideways. The other car was drawing nearer, but was a good few hundred meters away from intercepting Smackdown. She spotted a junction where she could intercept them herself.

“Captain, you keep going for the docks. I’ll take care of these men.”

“You sure?” he said back, but already he was straightening his wheels and proceeding on course to the rallying point.

“Trust me,” she said, echoing his earlier statement. “They won’t know what hit them.”

The Captain hit the gas and the GT flew off. Panacea aimed herself towards the warehouse junction and added a little speed of her own. The cold, wet air whooshed by her ears, and in no time, she was directly above her landing zone. The car was speeding along towards her, the drivers unaware of the person floating above.

She plummeted downward and nailed the three point landing. She had just enough time to see the look on the driver’s face as the headlights reflected off the blue and gold of her uniform. Everyone in the car yelled, but their screams came to an abrupt halt when Panacea’s hands landed on their hood and stopped their car dead in its tracks.

She gave them a few seconds to recover, the driver shoving the airbag out of his face and seeing that she was still there, her hands now fixed under the bumper of the car. The passenger was quicker to respond, stabbing the air bag with a switchblade and bringing his submachinegun forward.

“You boys play nice!” She said, tossing the car up and down a few times to get their attention. They hollered as one, the ones in the back bouncing up and down in their seats. The driver began to scream for her to put them down; but unfortunately for him, the passenger still hadn’t learnt his lesson.

“I’ll kill you bitch!” he yelled, taking aim with his HK. Panacea frowned and tossed the entire car over. Their screams pitched as the car went up, paused in midair as the rear bumper landed on the ground, and then came crashing down, roof first. Glass exploded and flew in all directions, the screams subsiding and becoming a dull moan.

She was sure to check on them before carrying on.

“You boys okay?” she said, looking in the driver’s side window. All were hanging from their seat belts, the concussive force having knocked all air and sense out of them. But they were alive, and unbroken…

“Good! Now if you’ll excuse me, we still have your friends to deal with.She put her finger to her link and signaled the Captain. “All clear, Captain. See you at the docks.”

The GT’s lights picked up the two cars parked in the distance. He was less than fifty meters from them now, and the locals weren’t taking too well to the disturbance. Kiethly and ran to the other side of the vehicle while his men took up positions around him, the Council doing the same with his car. None of them seemed willing to attack until they knew who they were dealing with though…

Slamming on the brakes and bringing the vehicle in for a tight turn, Smackdown exited the vehicle and placed his weapon on the roof. He aimed for the first of Keithly’s men. They had lost the element of surprise, and they couldn’t hope to take “The Stare” down seperately, but they still had one card to play…

“Evening gents! Sorry to interrupt, but the Councilor wasn’t counting on you showing up heavy.”

From behind the car he was using as a shield, Keithly stood and looked at Smackdown incredulously. He then sent that same look over to the Councilman.

“Who the hell is this, Councilor?”

Harlan looked just as confused as Keithly, though in place of anger, his face carried a sudden sense of fear.

“I don’t know… Who the hell are you?”

“It’s alright, Harlan, we don’t need to pretend anymore. We’ve got this goon and his men surrounded. Just let us take them down and be done with it.”

“Who-the-hell-“

“What? You didn’t think the honorable Harlan was going to cowtow to your interests forever, did you?”

Smackdown smiled at Harlan and gave him a wink. The Councilor’s face began to go white just as Keithly’s face turned a bright shade of red.

So far, so good, Smackdown thought. He had them right there he needed them to be, which was turning on each other rather than working together against a common threat.

“Harlaaaan! What the hell are you trying to pull?!” yelled Keithly.

The Councilman began stuttering a long string of denials and incomprehensible babble. He looked very much like a deer caught in the headlights, suddenly frozen and very much afraid for his life. A shootout looked about ready to happen, but Smackdown had other plans in mind…

He placed his finger to his ear and issued the go order.

“Atrum, NOW!”

Keithly’s thugs all reached for their temples and began to scream at the same time. Between Auditor, Erotica and Styka, they had been hit with a psionic wave powerful enough to stun a an army of ex-military goons. Smackdown used the time to put some bullets in their direction.

The first fell as the bullet struck him clean in the forehead, breaking the skin but leaving his skull and brain matter unharmed. He took aim for the next, but the goon quickly recovered. The bullet had left its chamber but stopped in midair, the man at the other end smiling devilishly.

“What the-?”

“Captain!” Auditor yelled through the link. “We’ve lost control. That other mind we sensed, he’s still here and he’s jamming us!”

“Shit!” Smackdown cried. “Okay, we do this the old fashioned way! Atrum, Styka, Erotica Girl, take out those two goons!”

A series of boots hit the ground on the other side of Keithly’s car. He spotted the three superheroes arrayed in front of him and shoved his goons in their direction. The men drew combat knives and assumed an ready stance, knives at the ready and their minds poised to stop anything our heroes threw.

Erotica, Styka and Atrum all looked at each and smiled. The men charged with their knives, and hit nothing but air.

“What the-?” said the one, and then was caught by a boot to the side of the head. The second began to back off, but was hit from the other side an elbow to the jaw. Both fell to the ground and looked up to see two women standing above them. The one was dressed in her usual smockery of a vest and tank, and placed her thick-soled boot into the man’s face.

The other looked up and spotted a woman dressed in some sensual leather. For a moment, he thought he might be dreaming, and smiled to reveal his bloody teeth.

“Keep dreaming,” Erotica girl said, and lept onto his chest to deliver a boot smack to his skull.

Seeing all this unfold, Keithly broke and tried to make a run for it. He made it to the edge of the nearest warehouse before Auditor, the only one who had yet to reappear, did so in front of him.

“Going somewhere, Mr. Stare?”

Keithly cried out and tried to dash in a different direction, only to be stopped in his steps yet again. He doubled back and dashed again, but found the same face standing in front of him once more. Again and again, he tried to run in a different direction, only to be stopped short by the man dark hat with the shit-eating grin.

“You can’t run, you can’t hide. Give yourself up.”

Keithly didn’t listen and continued to dash around in panic. Auditor sighed and continued to block his path, again and again, until finally he threw his fist up and close-lined the mob boss, sending him to the ground. Stunned, he looked up in time to see Auditor stare down into his eyes to issue some final words…

“You’re secret is out, Stare. And now the world will know all about you…”

Keithly’s eyes drifted shut and his head fell sideways.

Looking up from his spot behind the car door, Smackdown surveyed the scene and nodded approvingly. All hostiles were down. Except the Councilman…

He looked to Harlan’s car and saw no trace of him. He cursed as he realized the SOB had slipped away in the confusion. His finger quickly went to the link in his ear.

“Panacea! Are your airborne. I need you to get eyes on the Councilman and take him down. Bring him back, Panacea! You hear me?”

“Already here!” she announced, though not through the comlink. Landing just meters away, she held the Councilman in her hands. The man looked especially disheveled, having been plucked from the ground while running and carried through the air. His hair a mess and his eyes as big and white as dinner plates, he looked very much prepared to listen to reason…

“Ah, good job,” he said to Panacea. She smiled and nodded in return, and let go of Harlan. His knees buckled and he fell to the ground, though he remained very much conscious.

Auditor, Erotica and Styka joined them next to the Councilman’s huddled body. Smackdown turned to them, casting a quick look in the distance.

“Any sign of that mind you made contact with?”

Auditor closed his eyes and reached out. He shook his head. “No. Whoever it was, he or she is gone now.”

“How about you?” he asked the girls. Both did similar sweeps with their minds and found nothing. “Damn. I guess our friends here brought in more muscle than we could see.”

“They can’t have gone far,” said Styka. “I’m sure we could find them.”

Smackdown looked to Harlan and shook his head. “Nah, they’ll be another time. Right now, we still need to get Mr. Right Honorable to start talking. And I think I know just the way…”

Stepping up next to him, Smackdown kneeled to address him as the others took up positions around him. On one side, Erotica girl and Styka stood over him, their ensembles and bloody boots quickly drawing his eye and producing mixed emotions. He was used to beautiful women standing over him, but not like this.

The sight of Panacea and Auditor on the other side was equally confusing, awe and fear mixing in the same instant. And to make matters worse, Smackdown was now mere inches from his face, his gun smoking in front of him.

“Now, Mr. Councilman… what shall we talk about? Shall we start with your history of working with the mob, or shall we skip ahead to all that’s gone down here tonight?” Harlan frowned and tried to summon up a response, but couldn’t find the words or the clarity of mind to do so. Smackdown continued…

“On the one hand, Keithly and his goons here are out cold. But on the other, we can expect his lawyers to have him out of jail while he awaits trial, where he will surely try to even the score with you. Thanks to me, he thinks you arranged this whole thing, and nothing you could say would convince him otherwise.”

Harlan began to pant heavily and closed his eyes. Tears began to form there, followed by low moans and sobs. Smackdown cleared his throat and looked away. The sight of a grown man crying, in public no less, was not something he was comfortable with.

“So… really, you’ve got only one choice. You announce that your stepping down for health reasons, you go into witness protection, and you tell the DA, the FBI, and anyone else who wants a piece of Kiethly everything you know about him. You take a deal, you spend the rest of your life in another state, another country; wherever. I think you’ll agree, it’s better than the alternative…”

Harlan looked up at Smackdown in time to catch the hangman’s gesture he was doing. Everyone knew Keithly’s favorite way of punishing snitches was to leave them hanging from a meat hook, usually in the vicinity of the docks. Harlan quickly nodded and dropped his head again. In the distance, the sirens began to get closer…

“Ah good, that’d be the cleanup crew waiting to come get you,” Smackdown said, standing. “You be sure to tell them exactly what I told you. Because trust me, even if you could find a way to protect yourself from Keithly, there’s no way you could stay clear of us.”

Smackdown turned to leave, the rest of the squad doing the same. Harlan finally found his voice and issued in their direction.

“Who are you?”

They stopped. Smackdown and the rest turned as one.

“We’re the Revengers,” he said. “Tell your friends about us.”