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!