View Full Version : Bone Squad: Older
04-18-2005, 06:49 PM
Well, hopefully this will be the last transfer of this RP we EVER have to do. Seeing as how Charon did the last big move, it's now my turn.
Posts in Orange-red originally posted by Charon.
Posts in purple originally posted by Psylex/Mahaf.
Posts in blue originally posted by Icelander/BlackBat.
Posts in green originally posted by Joeschmoe/Joe.
Posts in red originally posted by MikeKAY/Makis.
Posts in orange orginally posted by Sable Phoenix.
Posts in light blue originally posted by Xanatos.
Posts in teal orginally posted by Omen.
Posts in Gray originally posted by TheImperial/Carbine.
Posts in brown originally posted by TroubleWolf.
Posts in dark blue originally posted by ArcLight.
04-18-2005, 06:50 PM
Paragon City, 2024.
“Patrick?” Said a voice, on the other side of the door. The fist smashed against it a few more times, as the voice from outside in the hallway repeated itself. There was then a thud of a foot on the wood. And another; the door smashed open and hung from it’s hinges. The door to the King’s Row apartment crashed open, and the moonlight from outside shone into the doorway. A soft beeping could be heard from the main room of the apartment, as the rough, unshaven man made his way across the main living area, trying to find the source of the noise. He fumbled for the light switch in the dark, but found none. He followed the noise to one side of the apartment, and on the floor, found a telephone. He picked up the receiver and held it to his ear, but all he heard was the manic beeping of a disconnected line on the other end. He put it down, and fumbled around the apartment further. There were signs of a struggle, and the whole room was a mess. He searched over the main rooms, trying to remember what door led to what room; he hadn’t seen Patrick in so long. He hadn’t been expecting the frantic call. He threw open the first door in front of him.
“Patrick!?” the voice called out again, searching the room he had just opened. It was empty, he could see clearly in here, the window shining just enough light for him to search. He stumbled back into the main apartment and almost fell to the floor; he was getting too old for this sort of thing. He scanned the wall for a light switch again, but once more came up short. He swung open the second door, and looked around, again, nothing; a whole room of general junk. On one side of the room, he saw a box with a uniform folded up on top of it, and gauntlets swung carelessly on in the corner, a rusting jet pack propped up against the wall. He didn’t have time for nostalgia. He swung the door shut, and moved on to the next room. When he opened it, all his senses were washed over with the foul feeling of death, the smell, and the taste. He could see nothing; the whole room was in total darkness. He fumbled on the wall, and this time came up with a light switch. He flicked it on.
Third time lucky. The room was completely trashed, there had definitely been a struggle, bullet holes riddled the walls, and blood had been sprayed up one of them. Amongst it all, there, lying slumped in the corner was Patrick Solomon. Otherwise known, as Ice Claw, former member of the team of vigilantes only known to Paragon City as the Bone Squad, in a pool of thick red blood, head slumped on his chest. Robert Black, or Charon as he was more widely known, stood in the door way and surveyed the dead body of one of the only men he had ever met who he could truthfully call his friend. He sighed, and looked around the room once more. He didn’t seem to be able to show the emotion he felt…but that didn’t matter. His eye had caught the wall behind the dead body of Patrick Solomon. Written above him, in large, jagged, black letters, scrawled across the wall, was “FRACTURE.”
04-18-2005, 06:51 PM
Charon had decided that who or whatever "Fracture" was had just signed his own death warrant. He had thought about going after the mysterious killer alone, but then thought better of it. He knew that if he had caught Patrick by surprise, chances are that's what Fracture planned to do to Charon, and even worse, the whole team, as well. He finally decided that he would round up the whole team, more to make sure they were still kicking than to ask for their help.
Charon made his way towards the front gate of the institution. He didn't know how his telepathic friend had managed to get himself in here, nor did he care. He leapt the tall fence and landed on the other side of the gate. He looked around at the minimum security institution. There weren't many guards at the institution- with all the problems Paragon City has the last thing it should be worried about is a bunch of civilian loonies. Charon kicked open the door, and walked inside. He looked around. He was standing in the lobby. He looked towards the front desk. Lying there, asleep, was one of the few guards working the shift. Charon walked over and put the guard in a headlock, passing him out. Charon then proceeded to search the filing cabinet. He searched until he found a file with the name Robert Gruden on it- Psylex commonly used this name when he wasn't dealing with hero things. He search the file for Psylex's room number. Before he could find it a loud explosion rocked the building. It knocked Charon to the ground, and as he got up he heard a familiar voice. It was 5th Column. Evidently they had gotten word on the street that Psylex had been put into this institution. Psylex had always taken an interest in the 5th Column, and had stopped them in their crimes on more than one occasion. The leader was giving directions to the soldiers in English.
"Find ze hero and kill him. He izt somevhere on ze secondt floor."
Charon couldn't let another teammate go down. He had to find Psylex before the 5th Column did. He snuck up to the 2nd floor, and hid in the room of an unconscious patient. He was about to make a break for another room, when he heard a familiar voice in his head.
Charon? What are you doing here? It was Psylex. Charon let the words form in his mind.
Oh really? Said Psylex telepathically.
23A came the reply. Charon checked what room he was in. 7B. He would have to make his way across the entire building to reach Psylex. He checked the hall, and decided to make a break for the room Psylex was in. He had almost reached the door, when he heard German shouting behind him. In the next instant he heard gunshots. Charon put his shoulder down and broke down the door to Psylex's room. There on the bed, lay Psylex.
"Follow." said Charon.
You're going to have to carry me. They have given me muscle relaxant.
Charon picked up Psylex and threw him over his shoulder.
I'll take care of them. You just run.
Charon sprinted out the door. He was immediately showered with gunfire.
"Do not let zem get avay! Kill ze heroes! Kill zem!"
In a matter of seconds the gunshots stopped. Charon turned around to see the soldier pinned against a wall, unable to move.
Yes, my abilities have evolved since the last time we met old friend. Now run.
Charon made his way towards the nearest exit.
Wait, they took my suit. said Psylex.
We have to go get it.
Charon started to feel Psylex tugging on his brain.
"Alright. Out of my head."
He turned towards the room where Psylex told him his suit was being kept. The tugging in his head subsided. Charon picked up the black suit, and took off back out the doorway. They made their way out of the institution, Charon dodging bullets, and Psylex throwing Nazis this way and that. After what seemed like an eternity, Charon got some relief.
You can stop now, we're no longer in danger.
Charon put Psylex down, and immediately Psylex got to his feet. Charon grumbled.
Well, you had made it halfway already, I didn't want to stop your momentum. said Psylex nonchalantly.
"What did they want?" Charon asked, almost growling.
Old grudge. Psylex replied.
04-18-2005, 06:52 PM
Wind. It is truly a mysterious thing, sometimes it almost feels like it’s alive, like it talks to you. Especially at 12 stories up above the ground. Sometimes it can be harsh, sometimes it can be gentle. But in every instance, it is always there. Almost like a long time friend, that never left your side. Right now the wind was as harsh as it had ever been, blowing savagely across his face and body. Threatening to push him off the edge, sometimes he almost wished it would. But not tonight, tonight he had work to do. Icelander sat crouched high above the city streets, high above all the people oblivious that they were being protected. Unaware that they had a guardian looking out for them.
A blood curdling scream filled the air, The strong wind carried it to him like it was only feet away. He rose from his crouch, looked down into the alley and jumped into the abyss. The wind, once again keeping him company all the way down, screaming in his ears to slow down. At the last possible second, he unfolded his body from the tight ball it had been and used the fire escapes and window ledges to slow his decent, until finally he was right above the source of the scream that had awoken him from his thoughts.
A lone woman in her late 20’s was backed up into the dead end of the alley way, with four large men blocking her escape. Three of them had knives, which they were swinging carelessly in an attempt to frighten their prey. The biggest one had the gun tucked into the waistband of his pants.
“You look scared baby, don’t be. Im gonna take real good care of you."
The rest of them laughed at the woman’s frightened expression before they inched closer to her. He had heard enough, with a short sprint he leaped into the air and landed in a crouch in between the woman and her stalkers. Rising to his full height he gave them a chance, a chance that they surely would not have given the woman that they had trapped.
“Leave now, or you don’t leave at all.”
The four thugs flinched and took a few steps back in surprise at his sudden appearance. The leader was the first to regain his composure, he quickly pulled out his gun and prepared to give an answer.
Icelander narrowed his eyes, preparing for the shot that was sure to come. The shot was loud, it cut through the night as if it were cannon fire. The first shot hit the metal garbage dumpster two feet to the left of him. Icelander let loose with a bolt of hardened ice that hit the shooter at the wrist and quickly enveloped his whole hand as well as the gun. The other three stood as if unsure what do next, Icelander made the decision for them, he took two steps forward and delivered a brutal kick to the temple of one of the knife holders, putting him out cold before he even hit the ground.
A sharp elbow and a knee gave the next attacker a broken nose and a fractured jaw. A shin kick and a palm thrust left the last knife welder on the ground unconscious. That just left mister trigger happy. He was busy banging his ice encrusted hand against the wall to no avail. One backhand later and Icelander was standing amongst 4 broken and battered bodies. He heard a sound behind him and turned to find the woman staring up at him, she stepped forward to thank him with a smile of relief on her face, only to be shoved back against the wall and pinned against it.
She looked up at what she thought only moments ago was her hero. Icelander leaned in close while holding her pinned to the wall, so close that he could smell her perfume. She sobbed quietly, thinking that she had escaped one evil only to be taken in by a greater one. She turned her face and closed her eyes.
“Stay off the streets after dark.”
She felt him release her. By the time she opened her eyes he was gone.
Making his way towards home, Icelander took a moment to think on what his life had become over the last several years. He couldn't help it, he was unable to give up the life. He had tried, honestly tried to leave it all behind and blend in with the normal people. Needless to say, it didn't work. Because of his alien birth, he aged extremely slow, he was in better shape now than when he first started. But his mind was aged and old, he was on the verge of burn out and he knew it.
As he approached his home base, he scanned the nearby rooftops from the safety of the shadows on the adjacent building to be sure that there were no prying eyes. Once satisfied he jumped the short distance to his building.
He climbed in through the skylight in his top floor apartment. Wearily he removed his mask and gloves, then his utility belt. He was about to un-buckle his boots when he noticed something on the floor by the front door. He quickly slipped on his robe, opened the door and looked out into the hallway, it was empty. He quickly closed the door and stared at the note on the floor. He frowned, but finally picked it up.
It was short and sweet.
“The Tower. Charon.”
Even if he hadn’t signed it, anybody that had been around him for longer than 10 minutes could tell that it was exactly what Charon would say. It kind of irked him that Charon knew where he was. If it was that easy, maybe he should relocate. That could wait till later, he slipped his mask and gloves back on, and fastened his utility belt. He took one last look around, and finally slipped back out the skylight and was greeted by the icy wind as he made his way to the old Bone Squad HQ.
04-18-2005, 06:53 PM
King’s Row. A desolate wasteland of no-hopers and broken down industry. Some parts of Paragon City had been rebuilt, reformed. But not this one. Founder’s Falls was completely crime free these days, and Galaxy City and Atlas Park weren’t far behind, with only the slightest mutterings of Street Gangs, the old days, and the occasional failed bank job.
But King’s Row was different. It always had been. When the Rikti invaded for the third time in 2016, King’s Row had been almost completely destroyed. These days it was home to the down-and-outers of the city, as well as a new breed of drug trafficking street gangs, know only to the general populace as The Bears; what was rumoured to be the evolution of the Hellions and The Skulls, after they merged in order to survive sometime in 2011.
To make matters worse, somewhere in the dark streets of the city, lurked an amalgam of wretched evil; the merged bodies of Clockwork and Vahzilok stalked the back alleys in the quest to find a new master, someone to tell them what to do with their miserable existences after the death of their masters after they had strived to work together, and ended up being each others demise.
King’s Row was long beyond repair. Some had tried to set up new industry in the zone, as early as 2010, but had failed. Some had tried to use King’s Row as the center of their evil schemes, but frankly no one cared enough about King’s Row to try and stop them anymore; no one but the vigilantes.
The Tower was still there. The roof had been taken off in the third invasion, but it was still mainly in tact. From the top of the tower, Charon looked out. The view was hardly what it used to be, and it wasn’t all that spectacular back in the old days. Desolate industry and abandoned housing completely dominated the skyline, and Charon could hear below the faint mutterings of an out-of-the-way drug deal, as The Bears tried to do a deal with The Family. The Family were still around. As long as there was a business for guns, sex and drugs, The Family were going nowhere. On a normal night, Charon would be striving to stop the drug deals, and anything else going on in the row. But not tonight, this time he was waiting for someone to come to him.
He’s not coming. He voice said directly into Charon’s mind, as he stood in a sort of trance, staring out on the city and remembering what it used to be, what he used to be. Charon didn’t reply for a moment, he just kept staring out of the city, and watched the moon wander across the night sky; he wondered about Wolf, he wondered where he was these days. Eventually, he snapped back into reality, and turned around.
“He’ll be here.” Charon said, and turned, leaning on his staff.
And how can you be sure? Psylex asked, persistently. What if he doesn’t live at that address anymore?
“Been watching him. Seven years.” Charon said, without turning around. He felt Psylex picking at his mind to try and find out what was behind the almost-emotion that was in his voice when he spoke. “Out of my mind.” Charon said, in his usual monotone, any hint of emotion had disappeared.
Seven years? You really do have no life.
“You’ve been in an asylum. For longer.” Charon said, and turned around to Psylex. He stood for a moment and looked directly at the forty something year old man sitting in the corner, and tried to remember what he used to look like 15 years ago. He came up short. He turned around to look at the view, but found himself staring straight into a black and blue mask, and the eyes behind them. Charon didn’t flinch at all.
“How did you find me?” Icelander asked.
“Didn’t have to. Never stopped watching you.” Charon replied.
“You never stopped? I ought to..” Icelander began, but never got to finish.
Enough. Both of them heard echo through their minds. Charon, you still haven’t told me why I’m no longer in a padded room.
“Ice Claw…” Charon began.
“What about him?” Icelander replied, hastily. He didn’t have time for this.
“Is dead.” Charon replied.
Icelander didn’t reply, he just stood there, arms folded, his eyes boring into Charon, he looked him up and down, but didn’t say anything. He knew what Ice Claw had been long before he ever joined the Bone Squad.
What happened? Psylex finally broke the silence.
“Murdered. Found him shot. Several times. Chest, head. Face.” Charon replied, and looked around. “Fracture. Was written on the wall…behind him. He called. Before it happened. I have the disk. Recorded message.”
We left the tower in a hurry. We may still have the player in the lower levels.. Psylex replied, and walked to the dusty stair well and began to walk down it. Slowly, Icelander and Charon did the same. They came to the second level of the tower, where Charon entered a key code, and opened the door in front of them. They now stood in a room that hadn’t been entered in thirteen years. This was the second floor of a warehouse, the only way to enter through a room full of security traps at the bottom of the tower, sealed off from all other directions, including all entrances from the bottom floor. In the dusty room they stood in, a punching bag swung from a chain fixed to the ceiling, covered in dust. Monitor screens on one side of the room filled the walls, they used to display feeds from security cameras all over the city, now they just showed endless black. Placed next to the screens, were some audio machines. All three of the men walked over, and Charon pulled the disk from his utility belt, and put it into the disk player.
“Charon…help me…you have to…help…He’s trying to…Fra…He’s trying to kill…kill me…please…god…he’s…. trying to…” Gunshots were heard on the other end of the telephone. A small shuffle, and then the line went dead.
04-18-2005, 06:54 PM
Icelander listened intently long after the last sound was heard from the recording Charon had brought back. In his mind, he mourned the death of a fellow vigilante. But in his line of work, remorse is the last thing that you can let take control of your senses. In fact emotion is the enemy, it taints your views and controls your thought process. In plain terms, it was bad for business. Charon knew this better than most, but he couldn’t fool Icelander, he had heard the faintest sound of emotion creep into his voice at the mentioning of Ice Claw’s death.
It was a natural human reaction, but for people such as us it was one that we couldn’t afford. Having all that in mind, Icelander didn’t listen to the sorrowful sound of Ice Claw’s last words, he didn’t listen to the pleading sound of the soon to be dead man. Icelander was listening to things that normal people would miss, the sounds of worn rubber sole shoes scrapping the surface of the floor, the sound of pants shuffling as someone on the tape readjusted their position, the sound of a semi-automatic gun cocked and a round being chambered. All these slight but very noticeable sounds told him some very interesting things and helped to better explain what had actually happened.
Of course Charon knew these things just as he did, whether he was prepared let himself admit these things was a whole different story. Icelander glanced over at Charon and Psylex to gauge their reaction. Charon was as un-readable as ever, and Psylex looked as if he was inside his own mind trying to decipher his own feelings. Icelander resented Charon in a way; he was always so hard to figure out. It was a weird feeling when someone could say so much with so little words. Charon was a lot older now, not that it was so noticeable right at this moment. He had always suspected that someone was watching him at times when he was on rooftops or in alleyways, but he never thought that Charon would be the one. Or more likely he never thought that Charon would be that good, to follow him and stay unseen.
He also worried if Psylex would pick up on some of these thoughts, just in case he thought up some particularly gruesome experiences that had happened in his life so that if Psylex were to pick up some random thoughts he would avoid doing so in the future after seeing these images.
Charon stopped the tape and popped it out of the player. Then returned it to a pouch in his belt.
“So, what are you planning to do?” asked Icelander
Are you saying you want no part in this? asked the stunned Psylex in return.
There was a long silence as Charon and Psylex stared at Icelander.
“No. Im saying that you both are acting as if we are still a team. We all went our separate ways, remember?” replied Icelander
Even still, we were a team. That means nothing to you? Psylex asked.
Again Icelander remained frustratingly silent.
"I don't need you.” Charon said as he turned his back to walk out.
Icelander stepped forward and pointed at Charon.
“Don’t you turn your back on me Charon. It’s been a long time and I don’t take orders from anyone anymore.” Hissed Icelander.
Charon slowly turned back around, and stared into the cold hard eyes of his former teammate.
"The team is in danger. Don't take orders, you die." Charon said in a monotone voice.
Icelander quickly regained his composure and stepped back.
Someone has it out for former Bone Squad members, whether you like it or not you were one of us. Which means you are in the same boat as the rest of us Says Psylex in a annoyed voice.
“Fine. What do we do?” Icelander asked.
"Going to find Sable Phoenix. Stick together. Stay sharp.” Charon said as he again turned his back and walked out.
Icelander stared after him for a few minutes. He hadn’t changed one bit. He looked over at Psylex.
“Lets go.” Icelander says curtly.
He briskly climbed the stairs to the tower as Psylex followed close behind. Icelander reached the top and walked to the edge of the tower, he spread his arms and jumped back into the night with the early morning wind gently guiding him.
04-18-2005, 06:54 PM
Steel Canyon wasn't that far different from Kings Row. It had been destroyed, re-built, then destroyed again. And just like King's Row, it was ignored. While Founder's Falls, Atlas Park, and Galaxy City were fine, Steel Canyon worsened. It seemed all the new heroes stayed in the already safe areas, and all the older ones were on the Rikti home planet, waging battles on their turf. After the third invasion, they were driven back to their planet, and we followed.
Steel Canyon was still waiting for its happy ending. While it always had at least some influence from one or another villain faction, it had become the Troll territory. 20 years ago, they were a laughing stock. "Ate too many green eggs" people had joked. But they were monsters now. They continued taking Superadine. Now a lot of them were the size of houses, could barely speak English anymore. Some couldn't at all. Body limbs bigger then the other, pure brute stength. Whatever buildings were there years ago were now all smashed by the muscle of Trolls. Their brains de-evolved, and all they did now was play catch with the debris, wrestle each other, and defend their territory.
But not too far underground, and just above the underground lair of the Circle of Thorn, lay a bunker where a villain used to live. It went deeper, with many other rooms, but the man who lived there only needs one. The coldest, biggest room it has, where computers, monitors, televisions, and radio feed scanners filled it up with the sounds of buzzing, static, and voices.
By all facts, scientific theories, and nature's laws, Joe should have been either crazy or dead by this time. Most of his whole life had been spent in these surroundings and every hour of the day he had had a cup of coffee to keep him alert. The only sleep he got was in short naps, and the short naps only occurred when there was nothing going on. And that was only once in a blue moon.
So maybe he should have been dead or crazy. Yet he was not for one reason alone. He was stubborn, always had been. It was not from his dedication from his role, the man who saw everything that went on in Paragon. It was from his growing loathing of the criminal underworld. It was the fact that they didn't want him alive, and in some way, waking up from his naps was a winning battle in its self. That is what was keeping him alive, and no science or religion could explain it.
That day though was a different day. Ice Claw was dead. Joe saw through a camera across the street. He didn't see who, but he saw him die. And if Joe reviewed the tape, from different angles, read lips, and search the apartment for clues, he wouldn't be able to solve the case. Because while Joe could do all those things, he doesn't have instinct. Charon did, and that’s probably why they had been paired over those years. A person is born with instincts; no one can learn that.
He finished loading up his gear, and dressed in his Dick Tracy-like trenchcoat and hat. After putting on the shades, he was near un-recognizable from everyone who has never seen him. Near invisible in a city like Paragon.
Joe used to drive in a car, but like most of the people in Paragon, they learn to fly. Part of the ground began to rumble and shake, pebbles hopped up and down, the creak of metal gears started to churn. A nearby Troll ran from the noise to alert his friends, but he probably forgot where it came from, or if he even heard a noise at all. Soon the hatch completely opened, and Joe's helicopter took flight. As soon as the hatch closed again, the Troll slowly scampered back to see if anything was there, and there was nothing at all. And the simple Troll decided there was nothing there to begin with, as he scavenged for his next meal.
After parking the heli on the roof, Joe took several flights of stairs down to Ice's level. The building was dead, Ice was the only one who lived in the whole place. This could not have been a random killing. Charon would know that too. The door was already open a crack. He went to go through the door, but a gun that was slammed into his face from the inside stopped him in his tracks.
04-18-2005, 06:56 PM
Inside the ransacked apartment of the late hero stood Makis, his face scarred and worn by age with his eyes as always masked by pitch black shades. Dressed in his old clothes; sky camouflage fatigues, bullet-proof vest in the old Bone Squad colors, and a full length black trench coat, Makis may still have looked the same if not for his slightly greying hair, a few newer scars and a cold emotionless face that looked as though it should have belonged to Charon. A stark contrast to the sly smirk he used to have that usually meant that he knew something you didn't. In each of his hands was a .50 Dessert Eagle pistol shoved into the face of a very rattled Joe.
"Where's Charon" He said in a voice that was so empty of emotion that it to may have belonged to Charon.
Joe pulled a pad from his back and searched for something.
"Quickly!" Screamed Makis, un aware of the fact that Joe was mute. Joe was fumbling with a pen.
On the paper was written He has re grouped the Bone Squad.
"Who is Fracture?"
Don't know. Charon might. Here to investigate. And I'm mute, asshole.
With this Makis just gave him a look, and pushed the desert eagle further into his face, before thinking better of it, and pushed him aside and ran down the stairs and out of the apartment, leaving Joe utterly rattled and bewildered. He walked around the building down a alley way and pulled a few empty garbage bags off of a "crotch rocket" motorcycle. He lept on, started it and roared out into the street ignoring street criminals who's attention was attracted by the screaming motor bike.
Makis rode all the way back to the Tower knowing full well that he was already to late to catch Charon. He strode purposefully into the old building to the second floor, through the coded door, up to the audio player. As he had seen on the ride over, the tape had already been taken by Charon. He swung around drawing one of his pistols and fired five shots into the punching bag hanging from the ceiling, making a M pattern. If they returned they would know that he had been there.
He had to find someone, someone that could answer his questions. Patrick had been killed before the apartment was ransacked, Fracture must have been looking for something, but what? He left his name purposefully knowing full well that the rest of the old Bone Squad would be looking for him. Was this some kind of trap, trying to lure them all into fallowing him? Makis' power could not answer these questions for him. His future was for once in a very long time, relatively uncertain. One thing was clear to him, he had to find the other members. He knew that Charon would be searching for him and the rest of the team. If he finds Sable Phoenix, he finds Charon.
04-18-2005, 06:56 PM
The past few days' events have been unusual to say the least. I had been extricated from the asylum(where I had been held for years) by Charon. I hadn't any idea at the time why he had went through the trouble of getting me out of there, and to tell you the truth I wish he hadn't. It wasn't all that horrible in there. I had food, shelter, clothing, and the occasional checkers game with one of the mentally retarded. The best part about it, though, was the fact that I didn't have any "heroing" to do at all. I could live my life out peacfully, without having to worry about who's getting their purses stolen. I guess it was for the best, though. Charon took me to the old Bone Squad headquarters, where we met Icelander. Charon told us that an old Bone Squad member, Ice Claw, had been killed by a faceless assassin going by the alias of Fracture. I haven't any idea who Fracture is, although a search of Charon's mind yielded a few suspects. My search through Icelander's mind was cut short, evidently he had felt my searching, as he started thinking some horribly gruesome thoughts. I'll have to search the rest of his memory at a later time. For now, I'm left wondering who Fracture might be, as we go in search of another former Bone Squad member, Sable Phoenix.
04-18-2005, 06:59 PM
The deep mist of Dark Astoria slid and curled around the desolate buildings like some great phantasmal beast padding silently through the jungle, smudging the view of few functioning lights on the streets below into faint yellow blotches, just as it had for twenty years. The unqiet spirits of the dead still walked mutely through the streets, perpetually unaware of their fate, as they had also done for twenty years. In all likelihood they were doomed to do so for the rest of time. Some five years ago, after Dark Astoria had been scoured clean of the Banished Pantheon, MAGI personell had attempted to undo the dark magics that bound these souls to their fate, and had failed. No further attempts had been made. Paige MacKenzie, the Sable Phoenix, savior of Dark Astoria, still found herself at the edge of tears whenever she was confronted with them.
She crouched silent on the corner of an office building balcony with her red hair draping over her eyes, clad only in a simple black leather bodysuit -- she had long since abandoned a mask and any pretense of a life outside that of an envoy of the phoenix -- feeling rather than seeing the apparitions passing beneath her, feeling with the abilities of the unfathomably ancient entity that flowed within her like her own blood and breath. It too mourned for them, calling to them in every quiet moment and never receiving a response. Paige had often wondered why they compelled themselves to stay here; a twisted notion of penance, she supposed, for their inability to help the lost souls. They had routed the dark forces from the zone, but remedying the evil those forces had wrought proved beyond them. A brief attempt had been made to reclaim the zone after its scouring, but no one would bear the constant frigid compansionship of the ghosts, and now the Sable Phoenix had possessed the desolation as her lair and the merest sight of her burning wings was enough to rout all but the strongest forces of the Banished Pantheon. Dark Astoria was still haunted, but now by flame rather than shadow.
The nearly exultant sigh was little more than a quite breeze in her mind, as the phoenix detected the vague tremor of an approaching darkness trying in vain to remain stealthy and unnoticed.
They come yet again.
"You'd think they would learn," she muttered in response, the faintest of grins tugging at the corners of her mouth. For some reason the Banished Pantheon still attempted almost constant raids into Dark Astoria. Perhaps the lure of so many unquiet souls was simply too strong. Perhaps they were after something darker, something still undiscovered that they had been forced to abandon in their hasty retreat from the zone. Perhaps it was nothing but plain stubborn pride. By this time, she didn't care.
She stood and stretched, feeling the phoenix blaze inside her, feeling the flame spring to life over her skin and engulf her in a roaring, blinding halo, melting the very rooftop under her feet. She spread her arms and the phoenix swept the flame out into gigantic wings around her, and their minds flowed until they were scarcely two beings any longer as they soared into the mist-shrouded gloom.
The Pantheon had already managed to set up one of their bonfires by the time the Sable Phoenix reached them, and the posessed shells of the Shamen were already dancing about it in the midst of their vanguard of dry, shambling corpses, chanting incantations that the phoenix recognized from eons ago. A simple soul-scavenging. She swept down towards the Pantheon almost before the posessed corpses realized she was upon them. The dry husks twisted and burned and were scattered like dead leaves in the phoenix's roaring flame. The Shamen summoned stormwinds that scarcely buffeted her as she passed by and consumed them. Within seconds the Sable Phoenix hovered above nothing but smoking embers.
The only warning was the sudden oppressing weight of sadness and avarice that threatened to overwhelm her just before the attack came. The muted beating of tiki drums followed the floating mask spirits as they appeared glowing in the mist, hurling terribly pure sorrow and pain and desire, and lumbering behind them came the hulking forms of the animated wooden Totems. A trap!
The Sable Phoenix shouted in rage, and the screams of eagles rang in her voice as she blazed into the Pantheon's formation. Embers rained from the sky and the masks were hurled to the ground charred and smoking. The Totems swung their barbed limbs at her only to have them consumed by the heat before they could impact. "They are not yours!" she shouted, more in the phoenix's voice than her own, as she hurled flame into the leering carved faces. "Your evil does not belong in this world!" The Totems came on, mindlessly intent on the destruction of their bane even as they were charred into coals, until nothing was left but a mountain of ash under the Sable Phoenix's feet.
Paige crumpled, spent, to her hands and knees, and remained there in the ashes, blazing in the phoenix's flame. She surrendered herself to the phoenix's warm embrace as it healed the injuries, mental and physical, that the Pantheon had inflicted. She was unaware of how much time passed in that state, but the feeling of another presence at the edge of the phoenix's perception brought her back to her surroundings. Harken, said the phoenix in her mind. Suddenly alert, she concentrated, wary of new danger... but this was a familiar presence; familiar and welcome. She stood and spread her wings of fire and soared blazing into the darkness.
There were three figures standing in the shadows of the delapidated security checkpoint when she arrived at the Talos Island forcefield wall, wariness radiating from every line of their tense stances. All of them were familiar, but the one in the center was the one which commanded her attention.
Of all the Bone Squad members, they had remained the closest over the years; Paige's loyalty had always been to Charon himself more than the team, and despite the inevitable divergence of their goals and methods, they had assisted each other almost constantly since the team's dissolution. The Sable Phoenix knew Charon more intimately than any other person alive.
She alighted on the ground in front of the trio, willing the blinding flame back inside her, and her fine-boned half-Japanese features were lit with a smile that found them all too rarely these days as she walked up to Charon. "Hello, Robert," she said warmly, and hugged him, pressing the side of her face to his chest. It was like embracing a stone statue, but she had long since learned to expect no less; she knew it embarrased him, but she had long since decided not to let that deter her from expressing her feelings either. She stepped back and gazed up into Charon's masked face; he was not even looking back at her, instead staring over her head at the transparent forms of the ghosts walking past, refusing to acknowledge her actions.
She took in the stoic forms behind Charon; Psylex, from whom she could sense amusement radiating, and surprisingly, Icelander, hard-bitten and silent as always. Psylex she had... liked, for lack of a better word, but she was surprised to see Icelander. She had never cared for him; he was the only person she knew of who could match Charon in his hard, chilling aura of aloofness.
"Hi there, guys," she said in the faint Irish brogue that the years had failed to completely erase. Her smile lessened only slightly. "What brings you all together again?"
"Came to find you," Charon grunted, harshly, before anyone else could respond. He still did not look at her as he spoke. "Want your..." He paused, seeming to mull something over for a moment, then continued, sounding like he was grating his speech between his teeth, "Need your help."
Paige's smile widened again at the memory that phrase recalled, then was replaced by seriousness at the obvious urgency of the situation. "Why?" she asked, slipping easily back into the monosyllabic mode of communication they had naturally developed over the years.
"Ice Claw is dead. Murdered. Shot. Multiple times. Name Fracture... written on the wall."
The sheer number of words Charon had just strung together conveyed the emotion of that statement to her more heavily than anything else. She was stunned; the phoenix was mildly puzzled. What is the relevance of this? it asked in her mind.
We think... well, Charon thinks that this Fracture will come after the rest of us too, came the mental phrase from Psylex, obviously in response to the phoenix's query. Paige had never gotten used to his ability to eavesdrop on their conversations, and she found it still irritated her. Psylex paused, probably sensing her annoyance, then continued, Seems that we're going to get the old gang back together to find the fellow. Safety in numbers and so on. Icelander snorted quietly at that.
Paige felt the phoenix swell inside her, and flames licked from her eyes as she spoke with the eagle's voice, "Let this foolish mortal approach us. He is no danger to us. Not even his bones shall remain when we finish with him."
Charon finally looked at her, his gaze harder than stone. He had grown used to the phoenix, as this manner of manifestation had become common over the years, but she knew he had never liked it. "Don't know if he'll come after you. Want your firepower. Aren't going to wait... for him. To find us. Find him first. With or without you." It was almost a challenge.
Paige's loyalty to Charon was the foremost thing in her mind at that moment. She knew that this Fracture could hardly be a threat to her, as the years with the phoenix inside her had transformed her into an immortal for all intents and purposes. But she would not stand by and do nothing if he was a threat to the former Bone Squad members, especially Charon. Ice Claw had been tough. Very tough. If Fracture could kill him, he could probably kill Charon as well. The very thought was painful.
The eagle was still in Paige's voice as she replied. "We're in. Just tell us where to go."
04-18-2005, 06:59 PM
Out of all the zones in the City, is was Dark Astoria which had remained the most unchanged all these years. Some zones had improved, Founders Falls was practically a Utopia, and since Talos returned the island of the same name became quite the popular tourist spot. Heck even the eventual destruction of the Hamidon had led Eden to slight improvements. But Dark Astoria remained the same, ever dark, under the watchful eye of their vampire protector: Skull.
Skull had been a hero for hundreds of years, originally under the name of "Vhalkor the Bloody", a name he gained during his travels across Europe. He'd moved to Paragon during the 19th century, under the guise of an Irish immigrant. And over the last 300 years Skull has been a protector of the people, silently watching from the shadows, Filling out his vampiric cliché with practiced bravado. Over the course of 300 years he had made many friends and many enemies. Most notable were the members of his current Super group Legion (Paragons "First Line of Defense") and The Bone Squad, several of its members having been taught by him at one point or other. As with all immortals, Skull had watched those he cared about die over the years.
His old sidekick "Dark" had been beaten to death by thugs, thugs which were later revealed to have been controlled telepathically by an unregistered telepath. Skull had brought the guy to justice, he always did, but he was never fast enough to save those he cared for. Dark had once been a member of the Bonesquad, a group of vigilantes Skull couldn't help but blame for the death of his close friend and student. But that was all 20 years ago. Now Skull hunted alone.
It was a usually slow Saturday, Vegas's undead mobsters had been leaving the rest of Dark Astoria alone, and what was left of the banished Pantheon were sticking mainly to the graveyard. In Skulls eye this was a good thing, as it allowed the few fools who lived in Dark Astoria to live in peace. However, Skulls radio had buzzed in an assault in progress - Skull raced as fast as he could, only to arrive seconds after the assault had finished, only to have the dreadful play expose another act. The victim this time was someone Skull knew, someone Skull had taught since birth, and someone who Skull had failed to protect. For the person who now lay dead in the middle of an abandoned Astorian street was none other then Sean Monroe, the villainous Kid-Vamp. Skull's first ever sidekick.
Skull felt his head fall against his chest and his sword fall to the ground. Kid-Vamp now lay dead, his throat sliced open, with the words "Fracture" sprawled across the nearest wall, the name of the group that had apparently also killed Iceclaw. Kid-Vamp had caused Skull no end of pain and suffering over the years, but he still saw him as a son of sorts. He deserved better then this, a lonesome death in a Dark Astoria back alley wasn't a death anyone deserved. It was as these thoughts flew through his mind that Skull smelt garlic. Why would someone use garlic to tackle Kid-Vamp? It muffled Vampire senses, but Kid-Vamp was as human as the come. Unless…
The pain was relatively short and sharp, the bullet entered through his back, piercing his heart. The burning sensation Skull immediately felt was that of holy water, Normal Bullets would have no hope of causing Skull anything more then slight pangs of pain, but blessed bullets could literally tear him to shreds. Two more shots fired, Skull managed to dodge one, but the other plowed into his leg, causing Skull to fall to his knees in agony. Thinking fast, Skull felt for his boot dagger, upon clasping the cold hard metal he pivoted around and threw it at his attacker. Had is not been for the garlic weakening his senses Skull would have struck Fracture in the jugular, as it happened the dagger flew into his stomach, causing the villain to wince in pain slightly.
Skull ran forward, intent on taking out the villain before he could do anymore harm. But Fracture was too quick, Skull had been running forward too fast to alter his trajectory, and flew straight into the stake fracture had clasped in both of his leather-clasped hands. It pierced Skulls heart, causing the vampire to fall to the ground, his body awash with pain as he began to die a slow death.
"I thought you'd put up more of a fight. I envied you. You were always been better than this before. You must be getting old." said the villain. Skull recognized the voice instantly - he couldn't believe it, "Got to go."
Fracture let out a short shallow laugh before running away, intent on leaving Skull for dead, a mistake that 99.9% of villains ALWAYS make. It was some sort of unwritten rule, and Skull, as always, was appreciative of it.
Pulling himself to his feet, Skull stared at his chest. Around the stake his body had began to rot. At best he had five minutes left before he was nothing but a pile of dust. Skull was finished.
Skull had heard about Ice Claw's death through Joe, he always kept him informed, and now Skull needed to call on his old friend one last time. He knew who was doing this was now hunting down members of the Bone Squad - even those as obscure as him and Kid-Vamp. Skull fumbled for his cell phone, dialing the number of Joes underground HQ. But all he got was the AI answer phone, which was to a certain extent part of Joes vast computer network.
"Hello Skull, Joe is not here at the moment. He will be back shortly." Said the AI.
"Where is he - this is an emergency" Skull rasped as he began to make his way towards the exit of Dark Astoria.
"Talos Island - you know the location." replied the AI before Skull threw his phone to the floor.
It took Skull seven minutes too long to reach the security checkpoint into Talos Island. They had shut the blast-doors for the night as a safety precaution only minutes earlier. This didn't bother Skull, weakened as he was he would still be able to open them - he would have to be able to open them. Drawing the sword that had been his one loyal companion all these long years, Skull jabbed it between the two closed blast doors, creating a wedge small enough to fit his fingers in. As he placed his fingers and eventually hands into the widening gap, alarms and sirens began to go off. He ignored them however and continued to push, his arms were in agony, they could barely take the strain, shaking as they were to push the doors open. Eventually the doors budged, and with a roar that shook the heavens Skull prised the two doors apart, tearing gears, pistons, and all manner of electrical equipment designed to keep Talos Island safe from the denizens of Dark Astoria. Skull staggered through the now open gateway, in the distance he could see the Bone Squad, but his vision was blurring now. He shouted Charon’s name, before falling to one knee. The pain in his chest was almost unbearable now, pieces of his skin were beginning to peel and small eruptions of flame had appeared all over his body.
Skull stared at Psylex, hoping that if the Psychic could just probe his thoughts for a moment... if Skull could just remove his helmet to allow him...but he couldn’t, all he could do was let out one final roar before falling to the ground. His body burst into flame. Skull was dead.
04-18-2005, 07:02 PM
“-with the death of Patrick Solomon, who after police searches on his home, has been confirmed to be the true identity of long time vigilante, Ice Claw. Ice Claw was rumoured to be the wielder of stolen technology from the company formerly known as Crey Industries, now know as Family Biotech. He was also rumoured over the years to be a member of a secret group of vigilantes known as the Bone Squad, who even after having their licenses revoked over ten years ago, still continued to operate, although it is known that they haven’t worked together, for a considerable time, although the reasons for this are unknown. The police only have one suspect, whose fingerprints were found at the scene on Patrick Solomon’s telephone, and on his door handles. It has come to a shock to the people of King’s Row and across the city to learn that this suspect is no other than Charon, his former associate. Police immediately checked the fingerprints found at the scene with fingerprints taken from licensing hearings back in 2003. Charon is now wanted for questioning, and the police have issued an award for his safe arrival at a police station. We will have more on this story later, when the police issue another statement at eight. In other news, Frank LaRusso has spoken out about going straight after recently leaving prison, and after a large Bears bust in Independence Port, we have heard rumours that the leader -*”
The television turned off with a click, and the news reporter was silenced. Icelander launched himself from his seat and turned around to the table, seeing all the members of the Bone Squad Charon had currently managed to gather around. They were all looking down at the table in front of them, on it, were a few bullets, which were being examined by Charon. Icelander still was wondering how they had ended up in his apartment after their travels between here, Dark Astoria and Talos Island. He was really going to need to change apartments after this, a growing number of his former associates now knew exactly where he was, 24/7, and Charon had been watching him since Day 1.
It had been a long couple of days. After the death of three of the Bone Squad’s former associates, here they were, right back at square one. Ice Claw, one of the founders of the original team had taken seven shots to the chest, head and face. Kid Vamp, who they had found in Dark Astoria, sometime later, when going back to look for clues, had had his throat sliced open from ear to ear – he obviously didn’t know see them coming. From what Icelander had been able to work out at the scene of the crime it was merely a distraction to lure Skull into the open. He had run up to them not long after they had exited Dark Astoria for the first time, after locating Sable Phoenix, and had burst into flame. They had headed to Joe’s usual spot, to make sure he was safe, and to make sure he wasn’t already dead. They had found him there, trying to explain something about Makis.
“Holy water.” Charon said, turning the bullet over in his hand.
Where? asked a confused Psylex.
“On bullet. Fracture knows…what he’s doing.” Charon said, turning it over slowly in his hand.
“Surely bullets, holy water or no, couldn’t kill Skull?” Asked Sable Phoenix, the actual Phoenix inside her, unusually silent. Charon had gotten used to the Phoenix, but he wasn’t very fond of it. Other than the fact that Charon felt Sable Phoenix’s reactions and judgement were flawed when the Phoenix came to the surface…he simply didn’t like to see her change like that. But he’d be damned if he was going to tell her that.
“Didn’t. Followed up. With a stake. Heart.” Charon replied, still concentrating on the bullet.
“So what’s next? We’re still no closer to finding out who this guy is, or why he’s gunning for us.” Icelander asked. None of the three other heroes replied. Psylex, Sable Phoenix and Charon seemed to be too deep in their own thoughts to reply at all, at least for the time being.
Joe scribbled something down on a piece of paper and held it up. There are still more of us to find.
“Next,” Charon replied, belated. “Find Makis.”
Joe began to scribble frantically again, and held up his pad in Charon’s direction. He was at Ice Claw’s apartment, yesterday. Don’t know where he’ll be now.
“Looks like we’re splitting up.” Sable said.
04-18-2005, 07:04 PM
Two more heroes have died at Fracture's hands- Skull and Kid-Vamp, both of which have had relations with the Bone Squad at some point in time. I had tried to search Skull's mind as he died, but something was blocking me. I surmise it would have yielded great results, but he had burned away before I could get to him. I am left with the guesses the other heroes have made, and to tell you the truth I have no idea who to believe. I will keep up my searching, maybe one of them will finally decipher this. I find little fear among my fellow heroes, although I don't imagine it is well-founded. If this Fracture had found Skull's weakness, he may very well know every one of ours as well. Am I in fear of death at Fracture's hands? I'm afraid I can't answer this. Through all my mental abilities, I can't seem to elucidate the problem. I have found no fear so far, but I can't be sure I've searched hard enough. This may all change, however, when and if I encounter Fracture himself. Until then, I am left wondering...
We had decided to split up, though I think it against better judgement. Icelander and I were to search the south side of Kings Row, while Charon and Paige were searching the northern part. As we go in search of Makis, I sense frustration in Charon. Old allies had died, and he could do nothing about it. Nevertheless, I also sense great determination in him. He had decided within himself that Makis was not going to die. This determination doesn't come from his fondness of Makis so much as it does Charon's own stubborness. One can only hope this stubbornness produces positive results, as there has already been too much bloodshed come of this feud...
04-18-2005, 07:13 PM
It was just like the old days. Well almost, Psylex and myself were traveling by rooftop. That was the same, what wasn’t the same was Psylex’s silence. Sure he didn’t have a mouth but he rarely needed more than a few grunts and nods from me at certain points in his conversations to keep him talking. It was most likely my negative attitude that had him subdued. It had been awhile since we had been in each others company, it would take some getting used to. Just like during our first missions some 20 years ago.
I stopped on the edge of a mid-rise tower roof. Psylex followed soon after and stood to my left and glanced at me. He waits a few moments before he speaks in my mind.
What is wrong? Psylex asks.
I remain silent and stare off into the vast openness in front of me for several moments before speaking.
“I have been alone for a long time.” I replied.
As have I to a certain extent. Psylex says as he glances at me.
“It will take some time to get used to this again.” I said quietly.
Psylex turns to fully face me for the first time. I felt the slight tug on my mind, it was simply Psylex’s way of asking permission. To tell the truth, I finally welcomed it. I had been running on empty for the past few months, I had been reckless, dangerous and ruthless. I was a step away from being the very thing that I have sought to stop for 20+ years. I was tired, drained. But this was all I knew, it was and is my whole life. I have done some things over the past years that I am not proud of, and that is saying something coming from me.
Now Psylex knew it all, he knew all my near suicidal thoughts. He had seen some of the more brutal things I have done to the thugs and mobs that I have come across. More brutal than normal. He even saw all my failures, all the times where I was to late to save an innocent. I pride myself on keeping control. Control over my emotions, control over my actions. That control had been slipping, hell it had slipped. Several times in fact.
He quickly scanned my memories and withdrew from my mind. After realizing that he was finished, I quickly leapt off the rooftop before he could comment on my recent history. I headed further south to continue the search for Makis. I only hoped that we wouldn't be to late in finding him.
04-18-2005, 07:15 PM
Makis had ridden all the way to Dark Astoria, not for his original goal of finding Sable Phoenix, but for a new and much grimmer purpose, viewing another body. He knew what he would find but needed to see with his own eyes.
He rode through the mangled security checkpoint wondering for a moment what happened to it. The quite stillness that always filled Dark Astoria was broken by the scream of Makis' motor bike as he drove down the ghost filled streets. Finally he stopped near the untouched corpse of Kid-Vamp, throat slit right across. Written on the nearest wall was the expected "Fracture." This one was different, Kid-Vamp had been stalked and killed like a wild animal. Iceclaw was gunned down like he had crossed the Mob.
There was little more for him to see there. Makis re-mounted his bike and roared off through the dark misty streets of Dark Astoria. He had to find Charon. Kings Row would be the most obvious place to look. As he rode through the city, he dwelled on the future. He saw that Charon was out with the Bone Squad searching for him. He saw where he would meet them....... except, something was wrong with him. As he rode into Kings Row his visions changed he saw himself riding through the dilapidated Row. Suddenly a bullet pierced his leg and three bullets flew through his gas tank causing his bike to explode scorching his entire body, and sending shrapinal into his chest and face.
Makis snapped back to the present in a instant, the same way he always snapped back after witnessing his own death. Up ahead he saw it, the exact place where he had seen himself die. A split second before the shots fired Makis leaped up onto the seat of his bike and jumped of the back but not before the shots where fired. The three bullets hit the gas tank sending the bike up in flames. The hot air from the explosion filled his trench coat giving him lift that carried him away from the wreck. He was not saved.
Several pieces of shrapnel from his bike pierced his arms and legs and lodged into his vest, his face was burnt and he was slammed against the side of a broken down apartment building. His broken body crumbled to the street below. A tall man in a suit with a pistol in his hand walked out into the street towards the fallen vigilante. Over his face was a black mask, a crude white skull drawn on it and colored white, with a fracture running through the center. When he reached Makis he let out a quite but harsh laugh and fired four shots into Makis' back. Fracture walked to the wall of the building and scrawled the word his name on it and simply walked away.
He made the mistake that 99.9% of villains ALWAYS make. He left him to die.
Several minutes after he had gone Makis' gave a low grown of pain and tried to push himself up from the ground. His arms plates beneath his coat had saved his arm from being broken into tiny pieces by the brick building, it was merely dislocated. His vest had stopped the bullets to his back with relative ease, the only thing really wrong with him was several pieces of shrapnel in his unprotected arms and legs and minor burns. He had seen this, he chose the lesser of two pains.
After dragging himself to his feet, he grabbed his hurt arm, braced against the building and gave it a sharp jerk, setting it back into place. He concentrated on his future, on finding his former team members. He walked off to find the nearest member.
04-18-2005, 07:16 PM
Psylex followed Icelander along the rooftops of Kings Row. During his time in the asylum, he had all but forgotten his way around the place. As Psylex rounded one corner, he almost ran right into the back of a frozen Icelander. Psylex walked around Icelander to examine what had stopped the alien in his tracks. He saw a bike, laying aflame in the road. He walked closer to the bike to examine it more closely. It had the familiar Bone Squad emblem on it, and Psylex knew the one person that actually wore the emblem even after they had broken apart- Makis. Psylex turned back towards Icelander to see him examining a wall near the bike. Psylex read what was written on the wall. Fracture. Fracture had probably killed Makis, and taken his body, dead or alive, with him. Both heroes stood still as statues for minutes, staring at the name on the wall. Then, out of nowhere, Icelander punched the wall, leaving a huge hole where his fist had been.
"Damn you, Fracture!" growled Icelander.
We have to inform Charon of Makis's death. commented Psylex, seeming as if he was going through a common routine.
"Why? What's the point? By the time we reach them, they'll probably already be dead." said Icelander in monotone.
That may very well be, but we must still make the effort. replied Psylex.
Icelander thought on this a moment, then nodded. The heroes both set out full speed to find Charon and Sable Phoenix, hoping they wouldn't find the same scene they had just moments before.
04-18-2005, 07:17 PM
Rain pelted decks, and waves pressed against helms as a fleet of battleships pressed forward across the Atlantic. There were about twenty fully armed battleships, each one the size of a several football fields, each one emblazon with a sharp yellow hammer and sickle. Russian soldiers busied about the decks of the ships, Busily preparing for the strike against Independence Port. Theses ships were not the remnants of some obscure Russian government, they were not a rising Soviet Union, they were the property of one man. The one man Communism truly lived on through, a rich Russian Oil Baron, and a self proclaimed militant. That man was no-other then THE GENERAL, a long-time enemy of the Bonesquad.
The General stood alone at the front of the first warship, his red eyes gazing forwards across the Atlantic ocean. They were only a day away from Paragon City. And had amassed enough nuclear weaponry to bring it to its knees. Night had just fallen on the fleet of battleships, and now the stars lit their way in an almost romantic fashion. The sea looked cold and black, something mirrored only in the Generals dark stare.
"<Sir, we are less then twenty-three hours away from the American Port, should we initiate preparations?>" asked a young soldier, approaching The General from behind.
"<There is no need, we have much time left.>" said the red coated super villain in a thick Moscow accent, "<Rest easy Comrade, I will give the signal.>"
The General smiled to himself, he could feel the young soldier go stock still with fright - it had been a while since he'd had that effect on someone. It was nice to feel somewhat monstrous in the eyes of the young...suddenly The Generals thoughts were cut short as the young man leapt at him, throwing him to the ground.
"<Wretch! How dare you accost me->" began the General before looking upwards at the face of the terrified soldier, following the mans gaze The General locked eyes on something that made his blood freeze, "Ah...shtool!"
One of the Battle ships had exploded violently, ripped apart by the sea itself Which seemed to have taken on an ice-like nature. The General looked on in fear as the sea came alive: Reaching out with icy tentacles, pulling ships underwater, ripping ships apart. It was as-if the sea itself had come to the defense of America, and was looking for something. The General was screaming out orders at his men, telling them to continue onwards.
“<Ignore the storms comrades, press forward. Arm the weaponry!>” shouted the general as battleships sunk around him, it’s crews fleeing in the hundreds. “<come back you fools!>”
“You’re not going anywhere Uncle Joe!” said a loud brash American voice from above. The General looked upwards, and almost felt his heart stop. There, surrounded by twenty hovering nuclear weapons, taken from the sinking battleships, was Xanatos. A large flame-like icy aura surrounded him. “You’re days are up terrorist!”
The General didn’t even have to give the order, all aboard his battleship, the last one left “standing”, men had begun to fire upon Xanatos. Bullets flew through the air, with surgeon-like precision, each one speeding towards the icy hero. But Xanatos was not the man he was twenty years ago. He could now control moisture more then any other being on the planet. Every bullet stopped before it got to him, sending a hail of bullets falling downwards on the ships deck. Russian militants lost their nerve at this, some threw themselves off the edges of the ship, some leapt into safety rafts and began to lower themselves into the water.
“You are a marked man hero,” said The General as he stood facing the icy hero, his ship was empty, his men had abandoned him, and a fleet of battleships capable of leveling Paragon had been destroyed. All by this one man.
The General fell silent as shards of ice slammed into him, knocking him back against the ships deck, and pinning him down. Xanatos smiled and drew closer to the ship, finally touching down, his golden boots creating a slight ice patch underneath him as he did so. Reaching up to the side of his head, Xanatos spoke clearly into the Defenders COM link.
“Robbie, we’re done here, tell them to send in the evacuation squads.” Said Xanatos as he encased the General in a cage of ice, “General Vladamir is also here.”
“Ugh…that’s nice Xan.” Said Cyborg Robbie, a long-time member of The Defenders, “Something else came up…uh…the president wanted to speak with you. Said it was urgent. There’s a hero killer on the loose.”
“Understood,” replied Xanatos as his Icy aura encased him again. He rose into the air, and sped through the air in the direction of Washington DC, at speeds rivaling a Concorde.
04-18-2005, 07:18 PM
As she floated in the night above the Kings' Row, blazing in her wreath of flame like a low-hung star, Sable Phoenix brushed the smoothness of the commlink at the side of her face and pondered the vagaries of fate.
It had been ten years at least since she had felt the cool metal of the Bone Squad communicator at her skin. Part of her was amazed that the group had stayed together as long as it had; another part of her was amazed she had stayed with it as long as she had. It wasn't like any of them were particularly well-adjusted specimens of the hero community. The biggest group of misfits in Paragon, she had always called it, only half in jest. When the ragged shell that the team had become had finally dissolved, the members had gone their separate ways with hardly a word to each other. Excepting Charon, she had not even seen any of the other members since then. She had to admit that she hadn't even been particularly impacted emotionally over the deaths of Ice Claw or the rarely-seen Skull, which bothered her vaguely.
And yet here they were, the core of the old team, searching for the members that remained alive. It was almost like the intervening years had never happened. And she had slipped back into the role as easily as putting on an old jacket.
"I don't see anything, Robert," she said, her comm on Charon's private frequency. "I think we should spread out to some of the other parts of the city."
There was a brief pause, and then a quick flurry of static as Charon drew in a breath. "Don't," he said, predictably.
Sable Phoenix grinned to herself. "I've been calling you Robert for years, and I'm not going to stop. You're more than just Charon to me. Why can't you accept that?"
"I still say we sweep some of the other zones," she continued, when it became clear he would not respond. "I could cover most of them in a few hours just by myself."
The silence continued until she began to think Charon put her frequency on ignore. Then with a static pop his voice came into her comm: "No. Don't have to find Makis. He'll find us. Keep moving... be hard targets."
Right, she thought ironically. Like a flying burning woman could ever be a hard target. Nevertheless she spread her wings of flame and soared out into the Row, heading away from the old Garment Works and into the Gish.
She loved this. Back when her life as more immortal than human had just started, when she had been fighting the phoenix every step of the way, flying was the one thing she had loved, her one joy amidst all the flame and nightmares. Even now that she had resigned herself to her fate and accepted the phoenix for what it was, she still spent every moment she possibly could in the air. The night was chill, but no weather could cause her discomfort, wrapped in flame as she was. She executed a lazy roll purely for the joy of it and dove towards the street, weaving around streetlights and darkened buildings like a wayward comet.
The pinpoint red glare flashed under and past so quickly she almost missed it, but its motion -- back and forth, back and forth, someone waving a distress signal -- caught her attention, and she pulled up hard into a loop that brought her over and back to it.
It took her a moment to recognize the figure leaning against the wall under the shadowed doorway of the apartment complex. His clothes were burned and torn and the blood on his face shone dark and slick in the moonlight. As she hovered to a stop in front of him, the arm that had been mechanically waving dropped to his side and the emergency flare rolled to the ground sputtering.
"Where's Charon?" the figure rasped.
"Blast," Sable Phoenix muttered, and tapped her commlink. "Robert. I've found Makis."
04-18-2005, 07:20 PM
Charon heard the voice come through loud and clear on the commlink, and simply said back "Good." Before Sable Phoenix could let him know about Makis' condition, he turned the comm link off, and put it in his utility belt. He looked around himself to get his bearings. He was too old for this, he found himelf completely forgetting where he was sometimes, or simply loosing his barings all together and having to remember which direction he was meant to be going in. He couldn't really decide. He should go and see John, but he didn't know if he wanted to. They had parted on particularly bad terms, worse than the rest of the team, and even Charon didn't know if he wanted to face him. But he thought about it, and it once more popped into his head that they were being hunted, and John was one of the most easy targets among them, wheel chair bound.
And so, in the darkness he doubled back on himself, and began to walk across the row. As he made his way across, he decided to swing by his own apartment on the way, he needed to grab some more supplies. Charon was going to have to go to Independance Port. He hadn't left the Row for a very long time, until the few days before. There was a time in his life that he protected the whole of Paragon City, being the man in the shadows that the criminals should fear. But slowly, over the years, as it built up to the present day, Charon had left the Row less and less, mostly just living his life there, in his dingy apartment, with what was left of his memories, and his staff.
When he got to the apartment, he began to climb the fire escape. He never used the front door, it was something he simply didn't do. And it wasn't because of security reasons, it was simply because he'd been sneaking into places for so long, that it became force of habit. He cracked open the fire escape with a gadget he kept in his utility belt, and went down the stairs, before reaching the door to his apartment.
Like Ice Claw had done, Charon lived in an apartment block with no other people, it was simply a lonely old building, where the lights never came on, and Charon was always sneaking around in for no reason at all. Another habit he couldn't shake - constant stealth. As he entered his apartment, he opened a cupboard and pulled out a half empty bottle of some kind of liquor. Charon couldn't identify it himself, actually, the label was long gone. He simply lifted the lower part of his mask, and swigged from the bottle, before putting it back in the cupboard and grabbing a bottle of pills he kept on the counter. Tipping two into his hand, he downed them, and then pulled his mask back over his face. He then pushed the door open to a back room, and pulled some throwing knives from a box with a seemingly never ending supply of them and attached them to his belt, aswell as some of his tiny but effective grenades.
He walked back into his apartment, and over to a door at the back, with four locks on it. He undid each one, and pulled it open, before navigating the flight of stairs infront of him, until he came to the pitch black, dank room below. He flicked on a light switch, and infront of him stood a dusty room. There was nothing in it, except old rubbish and supplies old tennents had left and a door that led directly into a seedy back alley, which Charon left through.
He climbed the fire escape on the other side of the alley, and began to hop rooftops, until he came to the King's Garment District, and the Bone Squad Tower, or what was left of it. He ran across the long rooftop across from the tower, and jumped down at the check point into Independance Port, and walked through, to face John.
04-18-2005, 07:21 PM
It was 3:00 AM, and John Richards was just getting home. Scarred, bloody, exhausted, but not beaten. He stepped through a specially designed and built water "valve" on the underside of an abandoned house-barge on the docks of the canals in Independence Port. Like most of his former teammates, he desired secrecy and solitude...and he never used the front door.
Taking off his Helmet, John casually flipped on his small, portable T.V. that he kept for a reason he couldn't think of at the moment. It just so happened that a Breaking News broadcast was happening at the time "...the warehouse was rumored to be a factory and main stronghold of the ever-growing Nemisis threats. Again, a warehouse, believed to be in connection with the Clockwork threat, on an island just off the mainland of Independence Port has been completely destroyed."
John couldn't help but smile. It was he, of course, that had destroyed the Warehouse. He had kept it under surveillance and found a large number of Nemisis "projects" going on there...He never did like the Nemisis much. Thinking about them he remembered the times long ago, back when the Bone Squad was in its prime. It seemed so long ago, now, and so much had happened since then.
After the Bone Squad split up, John tried to go back to relative normalcy; a paraplegic hero always seemed a bit ludicrous to him. Unfortunately, he found that a great many people had heard of the Bone Squad and Omen, and as soon as people found out that John Richards was, in fact, the vigilante known as Omen, they wouldn’t stop bothering him. Day and night he would get calls, any time he would go out on the street he would be mobbed. There were many death threats and assassination attempts. In the end John thought it would be better to kill himself; so he did. Staging his death was relatively easy, he enlisted his long-time friend Skull to come and “attack” him while he was enjoying himself on a bridge one day. As usual many people were there with questions about the Bone Squad, when suddenly he was descended upon by a vampire, who bit the former hero and knocked him off the bridge to his death.
Ironically, this is also how John found his new home, he let himself drift into a nearby canal, and bumped his head against an abandoned barge-house…home. Naturally John couldn’t come back as Omen, so he made a new hero, one in tribute to Omen’s strength and stability. That was how John Richards had made the transformation into the hero known as Pylon. And that’s how it had been for the past…what? 20 years? Independence Port was in fairly good shape, but the sea and islands made this port a very hot target for attacks, which is why Pylon was here.
The aging hero sat down at his workbench, one of the Nemisis Generals had done some damage to the left arm of his powersuit, and John wouldn’t sleep until the suit was fixed. He turned his thoughts to the menace known as Fracture, and what he had done so far. 20 years ago, the news of any one of the Bone Squad members’ deaths would have sent Pylon over the edge, but the 20 years of solitude had made him detached from emotional feelings and extremes. He felt bad, to be sure, and remorseful, but mostly he felt angry. He wondered what happened to the rest of the Bone Squad, and decided he would go out to look for them, right after his suit was completed. Alas, things don’t always go as planned.
Just as he was sliding the top portion of his suit off the wall to the right of him simply exploded. This in itself wasn’t that big of a deal to Pylon, he had been dealing with explosions and assassination attempt all his life. What really caught his attention were the three men standing in the nice hole that had been made in his house. The two to the left and right of the center man were short, probably 5-8 or so, and had machineguns leveled at him. It wasn’t the machine guns that scared him…it was the man in the center. He was short (to Pylon at least) but taller than the rest of them, probably 6-1 or 6-2, his arms were crossed on his chest.
"John. Nice to see ya. It's been a long time." Said Fracture, a twisted smile coming over his face underneath the mask. Omen recognised the voice instantaneously.
“You…YOU’RE Fracture? But... why?! WHY!?” Anger like nothing Pylon had experienced for 20 years welled up inside him. “YOU are responsible for all our deaths…It makes no sense.”
“It makes perfect sense.” said Fracture, in his gravely, twisted voice. “Kill him.”
“I hope you have more than those popguns to kill me with.” Pylon said with a smile and grabbed his helmet.
The two henchmen opened fire, but Pylon’s powersuit had taken much more damaging things than bullets, and they just ricocheted off of him. Pylon leapt forward, and smashed the left henchman with his helmet, sending him flying backwards out of the hole in the barge. The second henchmen pulled out a gun that Pylon recognized, and, for the only the second time ever, was scared of. Snapping his helmet on, he jumped as quickly and powerfully as he could, just as the henchmen pulled the trigger and sent an EMP blast straight at him. Pylon’s jump sent him through the roof of his barge house, and about 1000 feet into the air, but the EMP blast caught his legs, rendering the powersuit helpless. He landed in a crumpled heap on the sidewalk next to his docked barge. Fracture and the henchman were standing over him. Fracture started to laugh mechanically.
“You never were very tough without your suit. Poor design, I always told you that.”
“I’m not exactly the same I was 20 years back.” Pylon said as he grabbed the second henchmen and threw him into Fracture. Pylon quickly took off his powersuit…and stood up. Fracture looked scared for the first time that John could remember. “I told you I wasn’t the same.” John said with a sneer, “The technology I designed that allows me to walk is now embedded in by spinal column, so…I guess I don’t need that pesky powersuit to walk anymore.” He tossed the second henchmen over his shoulder, back towards the boat.
Fracture pulled out a handgun and started firing at John, but John was a 7’5”, 650 pound tanker, the bullets hit him, but were stopped by his dense muscle. John started laughing, bent down and pulled Fracture up by his neck. “Now, I want to know why you did what you did to us…” John squeezed Fracture’s neck, “and I want to know now…”
But Fracture didn’t talk…is simply looked over John’s shoulder and nodded. John was confused…but then he remembered…the henchmen, before he could turn around he felt the sting of a double barrel automatic shotgun hitting him three times in the small of the back. For the second time in John’s life, his spinal cord was severed and he was paralyzed. He instantly dropped to a sitting position, but he still had a hold of Fracture, and mustered up enough strength to throw him into and through a wall of a nearby building. John started crawling away, but a fourth shotgun blast to his back stopped him.
His vision was blurring, but he looked up to the rooftops…and there, just like 20 years ago, was Charon. “CHARON!!” He shouted, “I’m sorry! Get…Get him for me…please…!” he spit up blood.
John had one final moment of clarity, and with his final amount of strength he reached, not for a weapon, but for his watch. He pressed a button that he had never pressed before, and just over 10 miles away, back in the basement of the abandoned Bone Squad headquarters, a large, metallic box started to blink and hum.
Fracture stood over him, leveled the shotgun at him, leaned right in next to John's ear, and whispered in a raspy voice so that Charon wouldn't hear him: “God speed, John.”
"...Why?..." He murmered... and with that, the gun fired.
04-18-2005, 07:22 PM
The first thing I saw was the flame. It was strangely beautiful in a way, although I don’t care much for Sable Phoenix or anyone else for that matter, the power she wields is truly amazing. Although we are in direct contradiction to each other, she being the bright, me being dark, she being in control of flame and fire, and me being in control of ice and to some extent the weather and temperature around me. Regardless, sometimes I envy her abilities, although I would rather die than admit that to her or anyone else.
I saw the flame that was Sable Phoenix make a wide loop in the air and disappear on the other side of an apartment complex. I altered my course and headed for her, she must have seen something to make her land and I had a hunch on what it was.
Psylex and myself dropped down from the roof and came up behind Sable Phoenix, who was looking over the wounds on Makis. He was in bad shape, but overall he was much better off than what I had figured. I just knew that we would find him dead in a gutter somewhere. He was conscious, barely. Sable was hurriedly working on some of the more serious wounds. Psylex was standing to my right, he had that zoned off look on his face. My guess was that he was trying to reach out to Charon, no doubt Sable had already tried. I crouched down beside Makis, he looked the same. A little older, a lot more battle scarred but overall he looked to be in good health, minus the gaping wounds and such.
“What happened Makis?” Sable Phoenix asked, as she was applying a field dressing to one of the many injuries Makis had.
“Fracture happened.” I replied for him.
Sable looked up at me for a second then went back to her work.
“We found Makis’s bike about 4 blocks east of here, it was blown to bits. Fracture also left his signature on the wall.” I finished.
“Charon.” Makis whispered.
“Where is Charon? I thought you and he were together.” I asked a little annoyed.
“We were together, we split up to cover more ground. I’ve already told him that I found Makis” Sable Phoenix replied.
I looked back to Makis, he was sure to lose consciousness any second now. I needed some information before he did. I leaned in closer so he could hear me.
“Which direction did Fracture head off to?” I asked.
“Don’t know…..he…shot me….in……..the back.” Makis croaked out.
It had only been a half hour at the most since the attack, he couldn’t have gotten to far. I figure that he is within a 10 to 12 block radius. I can cover that. If I were him I would head further West, away from Bears territory. Even Fracture wasn’t stupid enough to risk messing with them if he didn’t have to. Makis needed further medical attention. Sable could get him back to the tower faster than Psylex or myself could. I had a good chance of catching this guy if I left now, the longer I waited the colder his trail was going to get.
I stood up and checked my utility belt. More out of habit than necessity. I glanced back down at Makis, he was worse looking now than when we first showed. Most likely due to all the blood he has lost. He was going to go into shock pretty soon, despite Sable’s best efforts this wasn’t exactly a top of the line medical facility she was working at. This was a dirty back alley with rats and trash, he needed to be moved.
“Sable, you can move him to the tower faster than we could. The medical bay should still have all the medicine and bandages you need.” I said.
“Okay, you will follow?” Sable Phoenix asked.
I glanced to the sky, morning would be coming soon. He would be harder to follow after dawn.
“No, Psylex will follow to make sure you get there okay. Im going to track down Fracture. The trail is still fresh, and I might still be able to get a fix on him.” I answered.
She had Makis ready for transport, she glanced at me for a second. Unsure if she should comply. In reality she had no choice, Makis’s injuries were numerous. She need medicine, bandages and a clean facility. She didn’t have that here and she knew it. I think the real issue was me issuing orders. In truth, I felt a little weird about it myself but with no one able to get a hold of Charon, somebody had to do it.
I didn’t wait for her answer, I turned and walked out of the alley. I jumped up onto the roof and set out to find my prey.
04-18-2005, 07:28 PM
We found Makis. Rather, Paige found Makis. Icelander and I followed Paige into an alleyway, where she was patching up wounds on the badly injured hero. Makis was alive --- barely. Icelander and I had thought the man dead after seeing his bike in flames and 'Fracture' written on a nearby wall. Icelander took out to try and find Fracture, but I don't know if he will succeed in his plans of taking apprehending him if he does happen to run upon the assassin. Of course, knowing Icelander, I don't think his plan was ever to capture Fracture. A part of me hopes he succeeds, while another fears he may not survive an encounter.
I followed Paige as she takes Makis to the Bone Squad headquarters for better medical attention. I tried to reach Charon, but I'm either not getting my thoughts to him, or he is ignoring me. Either way, it leaves me with a feeling of anxiety. Charon was the first member I had met, and he is one of the least stable of the members mentally. Nevertheless, I know he can handle himself is the grim situation were to arise.
I feel we should stay with Makis, in his weakened state, but I doubt Paige will oblige. She can't communicate to Charon, and that causes worry within her. She will search for him as soon as Makis reaches a stable condition, leaving us behind to fend for ourselves should any overly curious villain groups, or possibly Fracture himself, come knocking. While I don't doubt I could handle the overly curious, the idea of Fracture coming to finish Makis worries me. What should I do if he were to attack us? Run? I expect that would be rather fruitless, considering Makis's condition. Fight? Fracture has thus far killed every member without much more than a minor skirmish, I don't expect I should fare well in that fight. But, there is a rather appealing thought I have pondered upon since Skull had been murdered...
Fracture has done his best to keep his identity a secret, what with the mask and all. Of course, I don't identify people by their physical appearance, but rather by their brain patterns and memories. Consequently, the mask would do him little good. Even if he did succeed in killing me, I would more than likely be able to expose him to the rest of the team. This thought is reassured by the fact that I have sensed this within Charon, too. I sense traces of this thought here and there, although he is doing his best to keep it from me. He fears I will go out looking for Fracture, thinking I have nothing to fear from him. While I expect Fracture has taken this point into account, I can't be sure if he's actually devised a plan for his encounter with me. I hope, for the sake of Makis and myself, he has not.
04-18-2005, 07:42 PM
I was back at the attack site. Makis’s bike was still smoldering over there against the wall. I walked up to the wall, where the one called Fracture had written his name. I wiped my fingers across the writing and put it up to my nose. It was a wax, most likely a candle wax. I looked at the ground, cigarette butts. Im sure Makis didn’t light up some cigs after getting shot numerous times in the back. I picked one up, still relatively fresh. So Fracture had stood here and waited on him.
I slowly turned around in a circle. I walked further into the alley, there was still the scent of gunpowder and singed clothes. If Wolf were here, he could track Fracture just from smell alone. But Wolf wasn’t here, it was just me. I was about to walk back out of the alley when I noticed them. Tire tracks, they were faint but it was no doubt what they were. Couldn’t tell what make tire it was but I didn’t need to, these should lead me far enough.
An abandoned factory, they weren’t hard to find in Kings Row. This one was almost exactly like the rest. It looked deserted to the naked eye, but I knew different. The garbage dumpster was half full and upon closer look it wasn’t just trash that someone would throw in if passing by, these were kitchen and everyday stuff. One of the side doors was still being used. I could tell because all the other doors were rusted from non-use. This door was almost rust free.
I jogged over to the building and hopped up to the fire escape. I followed it up to the roof where I picked the far corner skylight for my entrance. It protested at my opening it but it was almost silent. Lucky me.
I slipped inside and waited a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim light. I made my way along the cat walk, making sure to stay in the shadows. Someone was most certainly here, I could hear the faint sound of movement below me. I walked further along until I came to the ladder, I bypassed it and hopped down. Landing with a soft, barely audible thud on the concrete. That’s when I saw him, his back was to me. I couldn’t make out any features as the light was poor, but what I did make out was the shoulder holster laying on the back of his chair. Then it hit me, the smell of gun powder and singed, slightly burned clothes. This was him.
I stood to my full height took a step further into his lair, I don’t know what tipped him off but he hopped up and rolled over the table that he was sitting at. For a minute I was perplexed, he couldn’t have heard me then from the other side of the table. He fired 5 shots in rapid succession. If it wasn’t me he was shooting at then It was one hell of a coincidence. I grunted as the first shot tore into my shoulder. By the second shot I was already on the move, jumping, leaping, twisting and ducking. He was a damn good shot, he had 11 shots left no way I could dodge all of them.
Then I remembered, I had firepower too. I put my hands together and focused on diverting energy to them, I let loose with 4 Ice Blasts in the space of 2 seconds. 1 hit the table he was hiding behind and froze it solid, the next blast hit the table and broke it in half. He was already moving by then so the 3rd blast missed him by inches, the 4th hit the back of his right shoulder. The force of the impact spun him around, he used that to fire off 3 more shots at me. I ducked behind a large conveyor belt. After the last shot I peeked out to see the floor empty, I franticly looked up and saw an upstairs door close shut.
I sprinted across the floor and up the stairs, cursing at myself under my breath the whole way. This wasn’t going the way I had planned. This was a royal screw up actually, the only way this could have gone worse was if I was dead which was actually a very possible reality. I cursed myself some more for being so negative.
I kicked open the door and dove through the opening. The door swung shut behind me. I was already on my feet and looking around. There wasn’t much to look at since the room was practically pitch black. The only light was a small sliver that peaked through what must have been a boarded up window. I had no idea how big the room was or where I was. Then I saw the faint reflection of light on steel, I released what it was the same time that it hit me. A sword. It sliced through my lower stomach like I was made of foam. I stumbled back into the wall behind me with a loud thud. I didn’t have time to assess the damage. I saw the reflection again and quickly dove to my left as it hit the wall where I was with a loud smack. I rolled on the floor and back up to my feet, he was much faster than I was at this point. I felt a hard dense shoulder slam into my damaged stomach.
The impact forced the air out of me and shoved me back into the opposite wall, I immediately went and pinched his spinal column nerve ending where it connects to the skull, right where the neck meets the shoulder. He grunted in response and swung his head up, connecting solidly with my chin. My vision faded and my knees went out on me for a second. Ironically he was the only thing keeping me up, I was not in a good position, I needed to get out. I got my footing back and gave him a strong knee to his chest, then another until he took step back. I threw a right cross at where I thought his face should be, turns out I was to high. I hit what felt like his forehead, he retaliated with an elbow to my jaw that slammed me back against the wall.
This wasn’t going good. I was breathing hard, trying to suck up as much air as I could. I needed to get some space between us, I sidestepped away just as something heavy, most likely his fist hit the wall where I had been. I made my way over to the door, or where I thought the door should be. Normally, I didn’t believe in weapons but extreme times called for extreme measures. If I could find where he left that sword, I could make things more interesting. I started feeling the wall until I came across something smooth. A light switch, even better. With one flick of the wrist the room was brightly illuminated.
When I saw my adversary, I wished that I had kept the room dark. He was a mess, with stitches and scars covering the majority of his face. I had no idea who he was, he gave me a evil looking smirk and hurriedly turned and grabbed his pistol off a table in the corner. With no room to maneuver, I was as good as dead being that I was at point blank range.
My eye caught sight of the boarded up window that I had noticed before, I didn’t waste another second. I took off in a sprint and launched myself at it, hoping that it was big enough to let me through. With a crack of wood, and a shatter of glass I smashed my way to the outside world. I felt the bullet more than heard it as it whizzed by my head.
The fifty foot drop to the ground seemed to take forever, until finally I smashed to the ground on top of some wooden crates. I landed on my back, with my own blood blurring my vision and filling my mouth. Before I passed out I noticed that morning had come, I smiled at my stubborn will to live. One of these days, this kind of thing would be the death of me.
04-18-2005, 11:50 PM
Makis had finally attained a stable condition, and Paige had left to find Charon. I asked Makis if he would manage by himself, and after seeing a nod, I took out. I sense pain in Icelander, and I fear the pain will fade before I get there. If this was the case, we would have to bury yet another Bone Squad member.
Luckily, I could still sense his pain as I neared him. Icelander wasn't dead, though he wasn't at his peak. He had gunwounds and gashes, likely from a large sword. He was leaning against a crate, and had expected my appearance. I was about to ask what had happened, when I sensed a presence standing in a broken window above me. I turned towards the being, and as I did he disappeared into the window.
Can I leave you here? I asked Icelander.
Get that bastard. came the mental response.
I would have chuckled at this, had I not sensed the mysterious being that had been previously standing in the window again. He was very near this time, but I couldn't quite see into his mind. Had I known what I would find there, I probably would've thought this a good thing. But, my curiosity got the best of me, and I hovered up above the crate to face the man.
I was immediately flooded with horrific scenes. My body ached all over as my brain sent feelings of pain and agony down my spine. The memories had shocked me, at least for the moment. The pain subsided enough for me to sense him standing over me. He had a sword raised, his intent was to behead me. As he started his swing downwards, I managed to get my hand up at him. He froze, unable to bring the sword down any further. I extended my arm towards him, and telepathically shoved him to the ground some five feet from me. I got up, still a little rattled by the memories I was continually getting from him. I had been through almost every single one of the Bone Squad's minds, but they didn't compare to this. He was the epitome of insanity, consumed by crazed thoughts of death and murder. It seems I had taken him by surprise with my powers, he wasn't expecting a telepath. He recovered quickly. He pulled out a small pistol and immediately started firing at me. I would've been hit, had I not sensed him go for it. I ducked behind a crate, and concentrated on how many rounds he had left. Eight. I would have to do a lot more dodging if I were to survive this fight. I jumped out into the open, hoping to draw more fire. The old saying "Be careful what you wish for" came into play. He fired off four rounds, one of which hit me in my right thigh. I fell to the ground. Seeing I was hit, he stopped firing, and walked towards me. I couldn't move, I'm not in the physical shape that most of my Bone Squad brethren are, and I couldn't muster the rage to get me back up on my feet. I was about to get just the boost I needed, though.
"I've heard of you. You're that crazy old man, used to be a hero. The cripple. Haha, I was surprised they let cripples become heroes." he said mercilessly.
He had unknowingly made a mistake. I felt anger boiling inside of me. He could see it in my eyes, causing him to take a step backwards. I got to my feet, and threw him against the side of the warehouse without so much as a movement of my hand. As he got up, I raised my arms upwards toward him, pinning him against the wall. I wasn't about to kill him, I was going to have a little fun.
Now, let's see what I can find in this demented sanctum...
I peered into his mind. The view would've rendered me helpless, had I not gathered so much anger. I finally found something, tucked into the very back of his mind. He had killed his own mother, in a car accident when he was a child. I pulled this memory screaming to his attention. I shoved it into his conscious, and he screamed in horror. I released my hold on him, and he fell to the ground. He curled into a ball screaming, cursing at himself. I decided he was best left in that position until more Bone Squad members came and subdued him. He repeatedly tried to force the scene out of his memory, but I held it there, unrelenting. I tried to probe his mind to find out exactly who he was, but his mind was engulfed with the memory of his mother. No matter, I was sure I knew. I was sure I had the guy that had killed four members four members of the Bone Squad. I was sure I had Fracture.
04-18-2005, 11:54 PM
Charon dived from the rooftop and landed next to the dead body of John Richards. He looked down at it, and then kneeled down. He began to shake the body.
"No. NO!" He screamed at John. But he realised this wasn't going to bring his old friend back. He got up, and saw red. He rampaged at the nearest henchman, and threw him through the exploded wall of John's home. He landed on the other side with a thud, the shotgun landing right next to him. The henchman quickly struck out to grab it, but a foot was slammed down on his wrist, and someone else picked up the shotgun. It was Charon. The last thing the henchman ever saw was the barrel level with his face.
The shotgun hit the floor with a thud, and Charon took off after Fracture through the hole he had created in the side of John's HQ. He stormed forward, but could see him no where in sight. Then he noticed it - another boat house further up. He began to sprint towards it - this could be the only place that Fracture could hide a vehicle, there would be no way he would of counted on being able to get away on foot. But he forgot about a small detail, the other henchman. He came flying through the exploded wall, and opened fire with an automatic weapon. Charon dived for cover and took a small bullet graze to the arm in doing so.
He reached into his utility belt and pulled out two throwing knives. He waited for the gun fire to stop. This henchman was far too stupid to stop to actually get somewhere where he had sight of Charon, no, he was re loading. Charon dived out from his safe area and hurled the knives. They connected with the henchman's throat, and blood spilled all over his shirt. He hit the floor with a thud, the gun firing into the air until the last second. Charon stood and watched until his body went into spasms, when he remembered the boat house further up.
Charon turned to run for the boat house, but he was too late. The car tore out, smashing the wooden doors to peices in doing so, and tore off into the night.
04-18-2005, 11:56 PM
The sun shone brightly into the oval office, it's rays bouncing off-of the head of Americas 47th President, his immense body looked almost comical in the jet-black leather chair that was stationed behind his desk, a desk he also dwarfed. Americas 47th president was none other then Hopkins - the one-time bodyguard of Countess Crey. Despite now being fifty years of age, Hopkins looked about thirty. He still wore a suit, he was the damn president, he HAD to wear a suit. But the shades were gone - replaced with a lopsided gaze and a surprisingly childlike face. His hand pressed down onto his large oaken desk.
"Where is he?" said Hopkins, any trace of a British accent now removed from his casual American Dialect. After all, what American in their right mind would elect a limey?
"He'll be here Mr. President." said a slightly jittery presidential aid.
As-if to prove the small mans point, the doors to the oval office burst open, and a flustered looking Xanatos entered. He was always able to keep his calm however, especially when in front of the president.
"Apologies for my late arrival Mr. President, The Outcasts had planted explosive devices in a shopping mall. There were civilians, they needed my help." said Xanatos, his tone staying strangely single, his gaze meeting the presidents.
"I'm glad to hear that," said Hopkins, his tone could not possibly have been more forced, "Cain, Give him it."
The small anxious presidential aid stepped forward again, presenting Xanatos with a file. On the front was the name "Robert Ian Black" Xanatos recognized the name, it belonged to a hero who had once gone by the name of Charon. They’d been close friends, they still spoke to each other from time to time. Xanatos opened the folder, inside were contained all the usual tidbits of information. His father died in a car crash, his mother died giving birth, his girlfriend Maria was killed by some mafia group operating in Paragon. He became Charon, teamed up with Mr D…yadda yadda usual stuff. The latter parts of the folder had a heading that struck no bells with Xanatos’s memory. The header was the word “Fracture”. Underneath it was a small black pouch.
Xanatos looked up to the president quizzically.
“We’ve not had a hero killer for over ten years, but now we do. His name is Fracture.” Said the president, the slight pangs of a smile spreading across his features. “We believe Robert Ian Black is Fracture. We want you to bring him to us.”
Xanatos nodded grimly, they thought he’d be able to talk some sense into Robert. He opened the black pouch and began to skim through the pictures of the deceased. IceClaw, Skull, Kid-Vamp. None of them were overly remarkable heroes, but they were related to Robert. He similarities were too similar to ignore. Much as Xanatos had admitted it, he knew this day would come.
“He’s clearly trying to dissolve all possible links to himself as “Charon” – by eradicating all those he had close encounters with. For good or for bad.” Said Hopkins, “I don’t know why he’d do this, I don’t care why he’d do this. Why he’d do this is not your concern. Bring him in for questioning.”
Xanatos nodded and placed the folder down on the president’s oaken desk. He turned his back on the president of America, and began to leave.
“I know you do not kill people Xan, but we will be willing to look the other way on this.” Said Hopkins, a wicked sneer creeping onto his childlike features, “Do not fail me soldier.”
Xanatos turned, bowed his head and spoke the words “Mister President” before flying full pelt out of the oval office. Suits dived out of the way as Xanatos flew along the corridors of the white house, before erupting outwards through the readily opened entrance to the building. Xanatos looked at the sun that was now beginning to set, he had a job to do, and gosh darn it he was going to do it well.
“Lord forgive me for what I am about to do…” Said Xanatos as he shot through the air, making a bee-line for Paragon City.
The Defenders headquarters had changed frequently over the years. It had been an underground bunker, but Sovereign Destroyed it. It had been a “D” shaped building, but the Rikti had torn it apart. Now it was an impressive fortress-like skyscraper. Statues of old members littered the outside gardens, untouched by the graffiti that littered the rest of the streets.
Cyborg Robbie was relaxing the only way he knew how – kicking back and watching the television. Even in the age of nano-technology, even considering the numerous upgrades Robbie now had in his almost human looking form, there was nothing the android liked more then kicking back with a cold one. Even if such a “cold one” comprised of motor oil. Without warning there emerged a ruckus from the entry of the Defenders – from the sounds of things it sounded like an angry fan was attempting to get into the Defenders HQ. Fortunately Captain Comet was on the case – the Defenders resident speedster. He’d only been in the team for three years but already he felt like a member of the family – guy could cook a mean lasagna too.
Gunshots were heard and Robbie sprang into action, propelling himself onto his feet, and began to run through the doorways that were too small for him towards the buildings lobby. Robbie arrived too late, for in the middle of the lobby floor was captain Comet – his body covered with bullet holes, his tongue hanging out of his mouth, his eyes looking upwards into his head. He was dead. On the nearest lobby wall the word “Fracture” was spray painted in white paint.
As-if on cue Robbies COM link sprung to life.
“Robbie this is Xan, take the Defenders and leave Paragon. It is no longer safe.” Said the iceman’s voice clearly and sharply through the comm-link . “Head to the lunar base. Do not return until I give the word. Do not contact the Bonesquad.”
The transmission ended and Robbie hung his head low, it “clanged” against his metal chest. The bossman only ever talked so sharply when it was imperative that his instructions be followed. Robbie just hope he knew what he was doing….
04-18-2005, 11:58 PM
Paige's arms had been trembling with weariness by the time she had made it back to the gutted Tower carrying Makis' unconscious form. The phoenix might have granted her supernatural toughness and healing ability, it may have elevated her to nearly perfect physical fitness, but she was still only as strong as a normal person. His jacket had been slipping from her clenched fists as she finally soared through the missing roof and tumbled him unceremoniously to the floor.
She had never been a field medic, or any kind of medic, really, she reflected as her shaking hands rifled through old rusted lockers for any sign of useful medical supplies. Gauze, bandages, medical tape, some compression sleeves and a bottle of antiseptic. The best she knew was the first aid she had learned as a necessity against expeditions into the Amazon or India or... she had almost forgotten those trips she had taken, what, a lifetime ago? She paused as a rare moment of nostalgia and regret came over her. The phoenix flared at her in indignation and she brushed the thoughts away, hurrying back to Makis' inert form.
Twenty minutes later Makis, minus his clothing save for his underwear and socks, stained with purple antiseptic blotches, lay like a half-wrapped mummy on one of the musty old couches in the Tower's "lounge" area, and Paige sat back fretting. He needed someone with him; he was in bad shape from the burns alone, but the thought gnawed at her that it was imperative she find Charon.
You know what to do. I have done it for you many times.
Paige denied the phoenix's words with a shake of her head. "I don't like that. Neither would he."
The phoenix made no response, but Paige's denial had been only half-hearted, for she new the spirit was right. Reluctantly, she reached her hands out over Makis' inert form, took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. Slowly flames licked out over her fingers and spread down towards Makis, flowing over him like blazing water. His burns lightened and stretched into new pink scars and were restored to healthy skin within moments; his wounds sealed and stopped soaking the already reddened bandages. Then the flame flickered and disappeared as suddenly as a snuffed candle, and Paige drew a ragged gasping breath and staggered up to lean against the wall behind her, her head cradled weakly in her hands.
For a long time stayed there, then slowly she moved and opened her eyes. Taking a deep breath she strode out of the lounge into a small room with nothing but a few closets along the back wall. She opened one and slowly withdrew a mask, its golden fabric faded with age. The gold-rimmed gloves and boots followed, as well as the angular gold-lined shoulder guards and flowing arm-capes.
It seemed the most natural thing in the world.
She had put it all on and was pulling the last glove tight when she turned to find Psylex standing in the doorway, utterly silent, watching. She had frozen for a moment, as the vague absurdity of the situation struck her; then, with a final tug on the glove, she had strode past him without a word and leapt blazing into the sky. She had to find Charon; it was the only thing that had mattered in her mind.
Now she flew flaming over the Row, headed for Independence Port, hoping against hope to find Charon before someone else did.
Sable Phoenix! rang the message in her mind so suddenly, so forcefully, it was almost painful. Psylex. I have Fracture. Head to the HQ. We'll meet you there.
The relief that flooded through her at that moment was so great she nearly wept. She pulled to a stop and hung there, collecting herself, then turned and headed back in the direction of Pylex's call.
04-19-2005, 12:02 AM
Charon ran across the rooftops of Indepencance Port, watching the water below him whizz by as he ran, jumping from time to time to reach the next rooftop. He had followed in the general direction the car has sped off in, and had found it dumped around half a mile up the road, but there was nothing in it that could help him. The plates were fake, and the driver had left nothing in the car in the way of evidence. He had to get back to his team mates as fast as he could. Thats if you could call them team mates anymore. Fracture was moving incredibly fast, there was no way Charon could tell who would be next, they needed to band together, what was left of them, before they all ended up dead. What made Charon think was, that this man...apart from the exception of Kid Vamp, who had his throat cut in much more of an execution style killing...carried a gun. They were up against a man. A man with an incredible aim and the seming ability to simply disapear, but a man all the same. He couldn't understand how they were going down so fast, when all they were up against was one man, one man who obviously had a grudge to bare.
He came to the Independance Port tunnel into King's Row, and skulked along in the darkness through to the otherside, as the cars roared past on either side. When he came out on the other side in the King's Garment District, he removed his Team Comm from his belt, and put it on.
"Anyone?" he said, in his monotone voice, just with a hint of a rise in his tone to indicate he was asking a question rather than just making a statement. Sable was the first to reply.
"Me, Joe and Makis are back at the Tower." Sable sighed on the other end of the comm. "Makis has been shot. He'll be fine, but he's out of any serious action for a few days." She said, before sighing again. "Unfortunately we're going to need him."
Me and Icelander just had a run in with Fracture. We've caught him. It's all over. Psylex said into all the members minds, with a sort of happiness, but still remembering that people had died before this eventuality.
"Impossible." Charon replied. "Just saw Fracture...Independance Port. He killed John...Omen. He got away."
We have him right here. Psylex replied.
"Meet at HQ." Charon said.
"Not..possible...for me." Said Icelander through the comm in a shaky voice. "I...need..medical...attention." He said.
"Whats wrong?" Said Sable into the comm.
"He...stabbed..." Icelander started, but decided he couldn't get the entire setence out of his mouth. "...Sword." he ended.
"Can you patch yourself up? We can't afford people wandering around on their own, thats how people are getting killed." Sable said, "We still have the supplies we kept at the Tower. Can you make it here and patch yourself up?"
Icelander was never one to give up.
They rallied in the main room of the dark, dank main area of the HQ. Joe was meddling with the monitors on the wall, trying to get the feed from the cameras, which were still in action in the row, not replaced for 20 years, back online, after they had been intentionally switched off back in 2004. He wasn't having much luck. The rest of the team stood around the man who Psylex had dragged in from the outside, with the help of some telekenisis. Bar Icelander and Makis. Makis was lying on a bench next to the lonely punching back which swung back and fourth from the ceiling, and Icelander was sitting on the chair that used to be stationed in front of the monitors, patching up the gash where the sword had impacted.
"Don't recognise..." Charon started, but never finished. "Who is he?"
All I could find in his memory were grim thoughts of killing people... he has no recollection of killing any of the Bone Squad members. He has a sick memory of killing his mother in a car crash... long forgotten and at the back of his mind, I pulled it forward into his recent memory. He screamed and yelled...mostly things I couldn't decipher, until he passed out. Thats when I dragged him back here. He has no recollection of how he got the scars to his face, but he's unrecogniseable. All that I can pull from his mind apart from his visions of killing people...is a hatred for you. Psylex said, turning to Charon. Why? He enquired.
Charon tried to remember. He tried to pull something from that horrible disfigured face that he recognised, but there was nothing there. He pulled all the people he had ever fought who used swords to the front of his mind. The only one who made sense was Rabidus... but he was dead.
"In his memory...killed a Richard Taylor?" Charon asked.
Psylex concentrated, and tried to get something from his mind, but it was clouded by horrible dreams of his mother.
Nothing, I can't get past the memory I pulled up...I may have to remove the memory soon, back to the back of his mind... if not he may die from shock. When we have him secured, I'll remove it and dig deeper so we can identify him. Do you think you know who he is? Psylex said.
Charon didn't reply.
"Fought Fracture. In Independance Port. This isn't him. Saw him." Charon said, and turned to Icelander.
"Then there are two of them." Icelander said, wincing slightly as he applied something to the huge gash.
"But how are they getting around so fast? It makes no sense, how does someone move so quickly in one city?" Sable Phoenix asked. "Makis and Omen were both shot, one of them killed, within a matter of... twenty minutes, It can't be anymore than that. Pylon was stationed right off on the far side of the Port, a long way from the King's Row entrance. It takes at least thirty minutes just to get there, and thats by car. So how is he moving so fast?"
"Found his car. Dumped. No trace of a driver. No ID." Charon muttered to himself. "It's all part of it...the same way.."
"You're making no sense. The same way?" Icelander replied to his mutterings.
"The same way we used to..." Charon continued, but stopped.
"You're talking in Cryptic clues. The same way we used to what damn it?" Icelander said, getting annoyed at Charon's stalling.
"The same way...we used to get around...so fast." He said. "The subway. He's using Bone Yard."
04-19-2005, 12:04 AM
I've caught what seems to be Fracture. Although I couldn't identify him due to his mind being enflamed with memories of his mother, and Charon doubted, I think we have Fracture. We shall see soon enough, as I will strip the memory of his mother away from him once I have time to delve into his mind. Pylon was dead, another former member of the Bone Squad. Icelander was attacked, but managed to escape and is doing alright. Charon had decided that the only way Fracture could move fast enough to kill this many team members in this amount of time would be through an abandoned subway known as the Bone Yard to the team. We are now heading out towards that subway together, searching for Fracture, although I do hope the man in our custody is the assassin himself. Only time can tell...
04-19-2005, 12:05 AM
Somewhere…deep below the city, a whirring stirred. A robotic, mechanical voice began to chatter in the darkness…
--Start System Startup Protocol --
Start System Re-boot Process…
Start System Processes Check…
Check Main Power Drives…
Check Backup Power Drives…
…Backup Power Drives OK and on STNDBY
Check System Intercommunication/Feedback Routes…
Run Power Drive to Able Systems…
Check pneumatic/hydraulic motions systems…
…ERROR Left pneumatic piston misfiring and depressurizing…
…Patch and Repairs made…
…Left pneumatic piston functioning normally
Check Open Communications Arrays…
…Communications Arrays functioning at 89%
Track Owner John Richards…
…ERROR John Richards Biomass not detected…
…Run Backup Array: Track Secondary Personnel…
…Confirmed Personnel: Robert Black Biomass Found
Run Visual and Audio Sensor Arrays…
…Arrays functioning…Audio at 76%…Visual at 24%…
…Darkness Detected…Adjusting Visual Array…Visual now at 100%
Analyze Mandatory Objectives…
…Primary: Find Robert Black…
…Secondary: None…Get orders From Robert Black
…Run Power Boost through all Systems…
…Boost accepted…All systems online and Functioning…
Connect to Uninet…
…Connected…Downloading Latest News/ Events/ Breakthroughs…
Bring all Systems Online and Functioning…
…All Systems Online and Functioning at 100%…
--Shut Down System Startup Protocol --
--System Boot/Restore: Offensive Mechanical Enforcement Nanobot online and fully functional –
04-19-2005, 12:06 AM
"The same way... we used to get around... so fast." Charon said. "The subway. He's using Bone Yard."
Sable Phoenix rocked back slightly on the musty sofa as Charon's words seemed to impact her directly in the stomach. A horrible suspicion had sprung to life in her thoughts; her mind shied from the poisonous thing, but it would not go away.
She wondered if the others had had the same idea. Every eye had turned towards Charon with that declaration. She glanced quickly at Psylex, fearing he had picked up on her thoughts, but he too was concentrating solely on the dark figure in the center of the room.
Charon was standing stock still with his arms crossed over his chest, head bowed slightly as if lost in thought. His eyes were shadowed and totally unreadable. The moon was dipping toward the horizon as morning slowly approached, casting weird shadows around the room like ragged curtains; the only sound in the room, other than the harsh injured breathing of Icelander, was a light breeze skirling mournfully through the ruined roof. Then, deliberately, Charon moved his head a fraction, just enough for the fading moonlight to glint in his eyes. "Gear up," he rumbled, the old familiar call to action. "Move out in five... to the subway. Search there."
For a moment the tableau remained frozen, as if everyone had petrified into fixtures of their old headquarters. Then, with a rustle of cloth that sounded loud in the near silence, Psylex stood and walked quietly from the room. As Icelander, slowly and with a muffled grunt of pain, moved to follow, Sable Phoenix shoved herself up from the couch amid a faint puff of dust and strode up to Charon to place her hand on the inside of his bicep. Standing on tiptoe to reach her face as close as possible to his, she said in an urgent whisper, "We need to talk," and gave him a tug toward one of the dark rooms off to the side. He moved no more than a statue. "Now, Robert!" she hissed, with a more insistent twitch at his arm. She began moving toward the doorway, and, surprisingly, Charon followed.
As soon as they ducked inside the shadowed room, Charon pulled away from Sable Phoenix, crossed his arms and just loomed. "What?" he growled.
Sable Phoenix rounded on him and clawed her mask down around her throat like some faded rosary to look up at him with Paige's eyes. "Who is it, Robert?" she asked, urgently, in a hushed voice. "It's one of us, isn't it?"
For some reason, Charon refused to meet her eyes. "Don't know... what you mean."
"Look at it!" she snapped at him. "Look at the patterns! Fracture knows us, he knows where we'll be, he knows how to kill us! Now you say he's using our old routes in the subway. He has to be one of us! He's a member of the Bone Squad! Who is it?"
There was a brief silence, then a long, nearly inaudible intake of breath from Charon before he answered. "Don't know."
"Blast you and your ridiculous layer of armor, Robert! You have to at least suspect someone! Who?" This time he refused to acknowledge her at all, and she reached out and grabbed his shoulder, shaking him. "Tell me!"
She didn't know whether it was the motion or the physical contact itself, but Charon finally tilted his head and looked at her.
He looked at her.
She knew him better than anyone alive... and there was something... something in his eyes... something that she had never seen before... something that made her let go of his shoulder and step back in shock. Something incredibly dark and haunted.
"You're..." she breathed, in disbelief, "You're afraid of him!"
The motion was so fast she had no time to respond before he was towering over her, his hand flashing up between them as she ducked back into the wall behind her, far too late to get out of the way.
For a long, long moment they both stood there, Charon glaring down at her more menacingly than he ever had, she cringing under that burning gaze despite herself. Charon's hand, half-closed into a fist, trembled in the air between them. Then, with seeming effort, he closed it and pulled it back down to his side. "Not. Afraid. Of. Anyone." His voice sounded like crushed gravel. "Any thing." Other than his hand, he moved no more than a stone.
Paige swallowed in a suddenly dry throat. For one terrible moment she had felt sure that Charon would hit her. She had only just prevented her flaming shield from leaping up and enveloping them both. It had been purely reactionary... but Charon was not fireproof. The phoenix was still flaring indignantly within her. She had to fight to keep her voice steady as she whispered, "Who is it, Bobby?"
Rarely had she used that name for him. Maria's name. He jerked under it as if he'd been slapped. His eyes left hers hurriedly, and he turned sharply on his heel and reached the yawning doorway in two quick steps. He paused, his hand resting briefly on the jamb, and growled, "Don't know. Going into Bone Yard. If you're coming..." He paused, did not finish the sentence before striding out into the main room. On his way he brushed past Psylex, who had returned and was standing in the middle of the room. Behind the dark glasses she knew those blank, sightless eyes were turned on her, and she felt sure that Psylex knew what had just happened. He turned slowly and followed Charon into the locker room.
Paige remained frozen against the wall for a moment after he had disappeared, struggling to keep down something that insisted on welling up into her throat; then she slid down to the floor, one hand over her mouth and the other trying to press away the horrible empty feeling in her stomach.
04-19-2005, 12:15 AM
The subway, why was I not surprised. My least favorite place in the world, but here I am. It did make sense though, this was the fastest and most convenient way around the city. Unlike the city streets, the subway traveled by direct routes, thereby avoiding the time delays that the streets could make. Plus it was underground, if you wanted to travel somewhere without being seen, then this was the mode of transportation for you. Not sure what irritates me more, that im forced to come down here or that I didn’t think of it first.
As soon as Charon ordered us to gear up I was dreading it. I stood and tried to not to wince, I failed. A stifled groan escaped my lips before I could stop it. I pushed through it and stood up. I overheard Sable ask to speak to Charon as I walked by. I never quite understood their relationship, she was so much more outgoing. Well the real her was, not the thing inside her head. Charon was…..well he was Charon, he would never be someone that would talk to you and open up as im sure she wished he would. But obviously she overlooked that part.
I watched out of the corner of my eye as they both disappeared into an adjacent room and closed the door. I sighed and shook my head, Psylex was standing in the middle of the room facing the door they had just walked into. I guess I can sort of understand what everyone sees in Charon, he is a natural leader. But people change, I no longer needed a leader like I did back then. Back when I first joined I was a different person, a lot more open you could say. Luckily I grew out of it. I don’t need his approval, or anyone else’s anymore. I make my own decisions and decide my own actions. 20 years ago I would have had this case solved by now. Lately I had begun to make some serious slip ups. I couldn’t lie to myself anymore that it wasn’t effecting my work. But that could wait, at least until this was over.
After Charon’s little speech, I knew just as everyone else did that our perp wasn’t just some ordinary thug. This was a guy that knew our every move and knew our secrets. This person had some very good info on all of us, and he was killing us off one by one. I for one wasn’t going to sit around and wait for my name to pop up on his “To Do List”. I was going to find the bastard before he found me, and I wouldn’t be sending him to jail either. He obviously knew to much to be left alive. Whether the others agreed with me or not this guy was not going to come out of this alive. Not after what he had done.
I took the main stairs down to the ground floor, then I took the hidden stairs down to the basement. I un-bolted the security door that leads to the underground tunnel that should connect us to the subway. I could hear some of the others coming down the stairs. I re-checked my utility belt for the 5th time this hour. My stomach was killing me, we had no pain killers left over in the tower so I was just going to have to put up with it. My shoulder wasn’t so bad, the bullet had only gone in a couple of inches and no bones were broken, so it was more of an inconvenience than anything.
I took a deep, calming breath before hopping down into the entrance tunnel. This was about to get dirty.
04-20-2005, 04:06 PM
Ghosts, they used to call them. 23 years ago the reports started. Ghosts in the tunnels. Angry ghosts, in the subways. People raved about how they heard footsteps below the surface. How they heard trains on the tracks. Ghost trains, they said. But no one ever went down there. Those who did, never came out.
The dust unsettled as his feet hit the floor. He looked around himself but was looking straight into Pitch black. The tracks clanged as Makis jumped down behind him. Many of the Squad had only been in the Bone Yard once or twice, they stopped using it completely when they found the Tower, but there was always a door leading straight into it from the bottom of the tower... it was just never used. The dust they were standing in likely hadn't been unsettled for going on 19 years, this section of Bone Yard had been completely been shut off for 300 yards both ways by Charon.
But beyond this 600 yard stretch... he didn't know. He didn't know what he was leading these people into. People who, although they would never admit it, trusted him. He could have been taking them all to their deaths. He had no idea. All he knew is he wanted to capture Fracture. And after he'd captured him, he wanted to kill him. Slowly.
He made his way down the tunnel, the rest of the team following him. Sable ran up to his side and began walking.
"Robert, we -"
"Don't." He said, without looking at her, and kept walking. She stopped, until the team catched up to her, and began walking with them. They walked along the lonely, dusty tunnels, until they came to a barracade blocking the way. The barracade was quickly gone with a blast of Ice from Icelander, and the group stopped in their tracks.
"Splitting up." Charon said.
"What? Wh-" Icelander started, but he didn't get to finish.
"Sable Phoenix, Joe, Psylex. Turn around. Go through the other barracade. Search." Sable stepped forward as a retort to this, she didn't want to go back the other way, and she wanted some answers out of Charon. She trusted him with everything she had. Why in gods name didn't he trust her back, after all these years? No, he didn't have to show it, but he had to trust her, and she didn't understand why he didn't.
"No! Listen -" She started. Charon once again didn't let her finish. He stepped forward, and without looking at her, pointed, and said harshly, but suprisingly quietly,
"Just go." She looked at him. She was going to argue, but then just turned around and walked off, Psylex and Joe turning around to follow without so much as a word. "Icelander, Makis. We're carrying on." He said, and began to walk away.
Icelander resented the way he STILL barked orders, so many years later. He just stood there and stared after Charon as he walked away. Makis pulled one of his desert eagles from it's shoulder holster, and followed. Icelander decided arguing wasn't worth it, and followed on aswell.
In the shadows, it watched them as they walked past the station, and then calculated it's next move. It identified them. Charon, Icelander, Makis. It knew them. It concidered it's options... and then slowly followed in the darkness.
04-20-2005, 04:09 PM
Paige walked down the center of the abandoned tunnel, her thoughts and emotions in such a turmoil that she was blind to her surroundings. The footsteps of Joe and Psylex echoed against the dark metal walls as they followed her, but she barely heard them.
"Just go." When Charon had said that, he had probably thought that her quick intake of breath, her slight hesitation, had meant that she was going to argue with him. She had not. Nobody she had ever met could put as much meaning into so few words; from anyone else, that phrase would have meant only what the words said. Charon, on the other hand, might as well have gutted her with a rusted knife.
Now she fought to keep her composure as she strode hurriedly, angrily down the damp and echoing subway tunnel. The tightness in her throat made it hard to breathe, and she pulled the faded gold cloth of her mask back up around her face as a barrier against the traitorous stinging at the back of her eyes.
Paige had seen Robert peel back his layer of emotional armor for her, had seen the man that nobody else alive had seen, and she had reciprocated, sharing her most hidden fears and hopes in a way that was terribly hard for her to do with anyone else. But that had been years ago. Interminable years, they seemed now. "Just go." He had been angry with her. Furious. The acid of his temper, tightly controlled though it was, had laced those words, and they burned in her mind. He had dismissed her, told her that he didn’t want her around, to get out of his sight.
Nobody but Charon could do this to her.
For so long the phoenix had been her only constant companion. She had gradually adopted its outlook, its mannerisms, had slipped into the role of the immortal envoy and brushed her fleeting human emotions to the side as mere distractions. True, she and Charon had worked together often, sometimes for long periods, in the years following the dissolution of the Bone Squad, but as she looked back at that she realized it had become superficial. A working relationship, and little more. Now that she was back in the old position, back in the role of Bone Squad team member, taking his orders, she felt like she was reverting back to the confused, distraught young woman who had first joined the Squad. Charon hadn’t seemed to notice. He seemed sterner than ever, more hard-bitten and cold and distant, if that was even possible.
She had thought she knew him. But did she?
He had nearly struck her. That had never happened before.
That one blurred memory of the hand flashing out towards her face snapped into her mind again. That was what had caused all this emotional upheaval; it had to be. It was too similar… it had dredged up an old and bitter memory that she had buried for years, one she had never shared with anyone. The one other time she had been struck by someone she cared about. The blinding impact of her father’s backhand across her face. The sting of her split lip and bite of copper in her mouth.
The anguish of his "Get out of here. I don’t want to see you near me."
She had not thought Charon capable of doing something like that to her.
Was it her? Was it something about her that caused her to attract this kind of thing?
The phoenix inside her had withdrawn in confusion and was watching, its unease only adding to her distress. Long ago she had understood that the relationship the phoenix shared with its host was a symbiotic one. It granted great power and gained a physical vessel to serve as its manifestation, and in return it gained a human’s emotions and conscience to temper its immortal, dispassionate perspective and often primal reactions. Now, though, it simply could not relate to what its envoy was going through.
He does not matter, it offered, seeming somewhat perturbed with her. Man is but for a little while, and then vanishes like the grass. Why invest so much of yourself into one of them?
At that, she nearly broke down completely, and the phoenix withdrew, disgusted. Nobody understood. At that moment she felt more alone than she had in years.
You’re not alone. We’re still here for you, came the voice gently through her mind. Charon does care in his own way, I’ve seen it. He just…
Paige snapped back into the abandoned subway with a flare of rage so intense she actually stumbled in mid-stride. Psylex never got to finish the sentence as she whirled around, feeling the arm-capes drag and flare behind her. She thrust her face mere inches from his and screamed, “You stay OUT of my head, you filthy brain-dipper!”
Her fury seemed to stun Psylex, and Joe stopped abruptly and stood looking on in mute amazement. Paige stood trembling, breathing hard, for a long moment… and suddenly the two silent figures in front of her filled her with remorse. She stepped back, and drew a shuddering breath, and glanced frantically from side to side as if looking for an escape route.
"I’m… I’m sorry, Psylex," she said in a voice barely above a whisper.
And then she slumped down in the middle of the dilapidated subway track and wept.
04-20-2005, 04:09 PM
The subway was unusually quiet. Charon was walking out front, I was behind him ready to deliver ranged support if necessary and Makis was watching both our backs and bringing up the rear. We had miles of tunnel to cover and the clock was ticking. The radio channel was strangely quiet, years ago we were a bunch of chatterbox’s. Now everyone had changed, Sable and Charon’s little spat didn’t help much either. He was going to be a real pain in the ass from now on since he was in such a lousy mood.
I glanced to my right, into the shadows. Instinct keeps telling me that im being watched, but my infrared lenses tell me different. No heat signatures coming from anything but us in these tunnels. I check my utility belt anyways, better safe than sorry. The com link crackles in my ear as if someone has accidentally activated it, I hear quiet sobbing. We all hear it and stop to listen for a moment. It’s obviously a female, I can tell that much from the sounds. So unless Joe has had some surgery that we don’t know about it has to be Sable. Psylex has made no attempt to warn us of any attacks so im assuming everything is fine otherwise. Charon resumes our walk.
After about 3 miles we come to a bend in the tunnel, we stick close to the walls and briskly make our way around the large bend. I notice on the opposite wall that there are mechanical parts strewn about. Another 10 feet and we are stepping on some of these ourselves.
We stop and look at all these weird shaped parts on the ground, some look to be damaged and some look as if they were really old. Some look kinda organic, like its old flesh. I think it hits all of us at the same time. We’ve stumbled on to something. Something that we really don’t have time for right now. I put my finger to my temple and slide my infrared lenses back in place, I look back the way we came. Still nothing. I replace the infrared lenses with night vision lenses. I almost wish I hadn’t.
The area that we had just come from, was alive with movement. I moved my hand to my ear and activated the com link.
“Company” I whispered.
No wonder the infrared didn’t pick anything up, there was no heat. Another mistake on my part, a mistake that could very well cost us our lives. I briefly turned around to glance at Charon when I caught sight of more movement behind him. Great. We had visitors on both sides of us. This tunnel had just become a coffin. We had walked right into a den full of death. I quickly made hand signals to Makis and Charon to alert them to the situation. It’s funny how stuff like that comes back to you, early on we had developed our own sign language to use in moments like this when silence was most certainly a virtue. Im surprised I even remembered them. Some things never change.
They quickly caught my meaning, we briskly moved to the far tunnel wall and put our backs to each other. I heard the metal sound of Makis chambering rounds into both his Desert Eagles, I followed suit and started preparing to focus energy into my hands. I could hear soft, barely audible whispers and the soft sound of metal hitting concrete as they walked. I quickly reached into my utility belt and grabbed a few smoke pellets, while never taking my eyes off my side of the tunnel.
I took a deep breath, narrowed my eyes and threw the smoke pellets in the general direction of our visitors. Upon impact with the ground, smoke filled the tunnel and became a thick blanket of darkness. I waited until I could see the first figure start to appear through the smoke until I let loose with a barrage of rapid fire ice blasts. Gun fire erupted behind me as Makis squeezed off shot after shot at his targets. I could hear metal and fleshy thuds as Charon threw kicks, punches and elbows at our attackers. Strangely enough I started to brake out in a smile underneath my mask.
This was just like the old days…
04-20-2005, 04:10 PM
Psylex stood, sensing Paige's pain. He had always referred to her as Paige and not Phoenix, because he knew the Phoenix and Paige were their own beings. Psylex felt a rage swell up in him towards Charon, he had taken his remorseless actions too far. He had geniunely hurt another member of the team. Whether he cared deep down inside that rediculous shell of his, Psylex didn't know, nor did he care. He decided the next time he and Charon met, it wouldn't be pleasant. For now, he tried once again to comfort Paige.
I apologize for intruding on your thoughts, Paige. Psylex spoke carefully. It is not my place to take your thoughts from you.
"No, Psylex, it isn't. But you were only trying to comfort me. You take my thoughts with good intentions, I shouldn't have snapped at you for it." said Paige, still weeping.
Do not weep over Charon's actions. He has convinced himself to show nothing in the way of feelings for the team, an action that angers me greatly. Nevertheless, we must keep going. You're strong Paige, with or without the Phoenix, I know how resilient you can be. Please, stand up and continue with Joe and I.
"N-No, I can't. Leave me here, I'm only slowing you guys down. I'll be here when you come back." Paige said in a weak voice. Psylex started to reply, but sensed something heading towards them before he could say anything. Some things were heading for them, and there were a lot more than more than one of them. There were more than ten of them. Psylex glanced towards Joe. He had noticed it, and was holding a pistol in the direction of the group. Paige was too deep in thought and sorrow to noticed anything was wrong. Psylex knew he and Joe would have to deal with this threat without the help from the Phoenix, at least for the time being.
Joe moved cautiously towards Psylex. As he stopped beside Psylex, his foot caught a can laying near the telepath. The can clanked loudly as it rolled along the tunnel, breaking the silence that had been there before. Joe's eyes widened as he saw the horde of Lost come pouring out of the darkness. He immediately reached for a grenade from his belt. Pulling the pin, Joe hurled into the mass of Lost. A few seconds later, a couple Lost sprung into the air. Psylex caught one of the foes mid-air, and slammed him against a nearby wall. He then projected memory of another, leaving him helpless. Joe opened fire with his pistol on the nearest Lost, sending him sprawling to the floor. He then pulled out an odd gadget which he called a Foam Gun, and proceeded to spray the group of Lost with it. As the foam hardened, many Lost were left unable to move. Psylex took the control of the mind of another Lost, and turned him upon his friends before throwing him spiraling into the group of another. Joe took out a web grenade and hurled it at the pile of Lost Psylex had created with his telekinesis, and successfully immobolized the group. Joe and Psylex started on another group that had tried to sneak up on them from the side, but something caught heroes off guard. A massive Lost, mutated to the point of being more Rikti than human, had appeared out of the darkness. The pair turned their attention to the Rector, focusing on taking him out before he could shut them down. Before they could do any damage, two more Aberrant stepped out of the darkness. Psylex heard a high-pitched ringing start inside his head. It constantly got louder, until it brought him to his knees. Joe was clutching his head, the ringing had started in his mind as well. The two hero's were rendered helpless, unable to do anything but wince in pain. The Aberrant closed in upon them, intent on finishing them off. But before they could get to the helpless duo, a bright flame illuminated beside them. It was Paige, engulfed with the flames of the Phoenix. She shot a fiery bolt towards one Aberrant, burning a hole in the Rector's forehead. She engulfed another in a massive flame, scorching him until he was naught but a mass of charred flesh. She then turned upon the last Rector, and flung herself towards it at a surprising speed. She thrust her shoulder into the stomach of the Rector, and the brilliant flames that surrounded her burned straight through him. He fell to the floor, defeated. The mass of smaller Lost had started a retreat, but Paige wasn't about to let them get away. She surrounded them in a massive ring. The ring started to close in on the group. One Lost tried to jump through the flames, but the only thing that made it through to the other side was a pile of dust. The Lost could do nothing but watch their demise encroach upon them. Before the flames reached the group, Paige hurled a large ball of fire into the middle of the horde. The flame hit and then exploded ferociously, scorching every Lost within the circle. The ring then disappeared, and the flame that had surrounded Paige dissipated. She approached Psylex and Joe, who were still a little stunned by the ringing they had heard.
"Are you two okay?" she asked quietly. Joe nodded his head, as did Psylex.
I am glad you decided to join us in our little bout, Paige. We were in quite the predicament. Psylex said.
"I'm sure you guys could've handled it." Paige said, smiling slightly. Paige turned towards Joe, who was offering her a piece of paper he had written on. Paige read it aloud.
"Those Lost are lucky I wasn't ready for them. I would've shown 'em a thing or two about pain." Paige and Psylex looked towards Joe, who was nodding his head rapidly. Paige laughed a little, and Psylex shook his head.
Let us continue on. Psylex projected to both of them.
"Yea, let's do." Paige said lightly. The trio continued down the tunnel, and as they passed a charred body of an Aberrant, Joe gave it a hard kick.
I knew she would come through. thought Psylex to himself. With or without Charon, Psylex knew Paige wouldn't let the rest of the team be harmed. He knew Paige would be strong.
04-20-2005, 04:11 PM
Phoenix, Joe, & Psylex continued on down the subway tunnel after their skirmish with the Lost, bruised & battered. Nervous enough at recent events, the latest random run-in with the subterranian villians left this contingent of the Bone Squad more on their toes than ever. There was a foul air in the tunnels, stale from lack of frequent use after the Rikti attacks decades ago.
I'm gonna regret this. He thought.
With that, Psylex stopped dead in his tracks and spun around - pearing into the deep darkness of a diverging subway tunnel. He heard a voice, one familiar yet long forgotten.
And with that single telepathic line came a certain response. A click was heard in the distance, a loud diesel engine was started, and then a mere second later the tunnel containing the Bone Squad members was flooded with blindingly bright light. And from the darkness came a resolute baritone voice, "Don't you ever call me that, Psylex. Don't think the years have changed a thing."
And then a silouette of a massively large man with an equally massive, equally dangerous mechanical arm emerged from the shadows and in front of the lights.
Instantly, the three knew exactly who it was - a man known to some as Otto Roberts, and known to more as the vigillante Carbine. Years ago, he had hooked up with the Bone Squad for a brief time, but always remaining on the fringes. He'd then left to form his own team, the team these days known only as "5." He was a man of many secrets and the continual lone wolf. He played the role of leader until his supposed death at the hands of federal agents a decade earlier, but 5 had carried on, on the underground, with a replacement for the man who founded their team.
But for all his efforts, this man of many secrets couldn't hide them all. Psylex, a man whom Carbine despised for his telepathic abilities, and Joe, an equally silent man whom Carbine tolerated for his uncanny surveilance & fact finding capabilities, both knew that Carbine's real name was not Otto Roberts. It was Jim Bohumir and his death was faked in the middle of the firefight to provide him with a much needed rest from evading a national manhunt. He'd been the leader of the team "5" for years, but when he found a replacement for himself, he'd faked his death and gone into hiding.
While Psylex and Joe were shocked to see him here, they weren't particularly suprised. Paige, however, was.
"We... we all thought you were dead." Sable muttered.
"That was the point, Sable." He answered.
And much to the suprise of all three, the enigmatic hero answered with a suprisingly heartfelt, but brief, response, "Because I was tired of running, Paige. Because I was tired of running."
"What's going on? What are you doing here?" Sable asked.
"Someone killed 5. All of them. There was an attack on their base, as far as I could muster it was a military attack. They were all executed, gunshots to the back of the head. The place was completely ransacked."
The newly formed quartet stoof in silence for a brief moment.
"Fracture?" Sable asked.
"No, I don't think so. I didn't even know he existed. I came to find Charon to try and get him to help me find out who killed them... when I heard about all this." Carbine answered.
There was a complete silence for a few moments.
Not to change the subject... but why the truck? Psylex mentally quizzed.
Carbine shivered and clenched his fists all at once. Given all the secrets surrounding his life & identity, he never liked liked telepaths - especially working with ones such as Psylex. They always managed to find out the truth. But at this point, Carbine learned to accept it - for now.
"Hell, you think I'm going to walk my old ass all the way down here?" Carbine snickered.
"But how did you get it down here?" Sable Phoenix chimed in.
Thumbing over towards Joe, Carbine spoke up, "Maintenance & Repair Tunnels large enough to get a bulldozer in. Just gotta know where to look - Joe knows.. or knew all about 'em."
Walking towards the bright lights, Carbine motioned for the three to get in before speaking up again, "So will some one tell me what in the blue hell is going on? Who in the hell is Fracture?"
04-20-2005, 04:12 PM
Makis had been waiting for them since they had first found the scattered parts, Icelanders hand signal told him that he knew as well as he did what was going to happen. He waited until Icelander had thrown his smoke pellets before taking action.
Taking position with his back to Charon he chambered rounds into both his Pistols. Closing his eyes to focus completely on the future, he saw what was to come of this fight. What he saw was what he had seen thousands of times before, his own death and the death of his friends. Thinking of a way out of this, he saw exactly what he had to do to change his fate, a act he had become quite familiar with over the years.
In a instant he was pulled back to the present. As the first of the Mechanical Abominations loomed into view, Icelander let out a volley of jagged ice in the direction opposite Makis, while Charon charged head on into the group. Makis raised his guns with a flourish and charged straight for the group guns blazing but still making perfectly placed shots at the monsters. Shooting his way to the center of the group he launched into a flawless gun kata, laying rounds into every thing around him that moved with deadly accuracy. Even 20 years later his "dance" had not lost any of its brutal style, he appeared to be in a trance, his eyes closed behind his pitch black shades as he fired fatal round after round into there twisted bodies.
His teammates who he knew to be fairing well considering there predicament were each pulling there own weight as his own bullets flew within inches of them as they fought against the Abominations. Charon and Icelander fought as well as they always had, neither had visibly changed much over the years. It seemed like it was the old days again, back when the Bone Squad was still young and growing, back when they were a team.
Even though they fought well he knew that they could not keep this up for long. He knew exactly what he had to do. Leaping back to his teammates he fired off the last of the rounds in his clip, when empty he threw both straight into the air while doing a 180 turn, reaching into his coat and pulling a small metal disk that he threw like a discus down the tunnel in the direction that they have not yet traveled, a split second later bright red lasers fired from the sides causing it to instantly explode. Catching his Pistols as they fell back down, he released the clips and slammed new ones in form the rack on his back.
"Ice, seal her up!" he howled above the brutal sounds of battle as the explosion began to catch up to the team.
Icelander knowing better then to argue with anything Makis said quickly froze the nearest Cyborg and instantly sealed off the tunnel with a massive wall of ice mere seconds before the flames hit it. The ice held against the flames as small pieces of burnt metal and flesh were pelted against the ice wall. Having the constant flow of enemies completely stopped from one direction the team focused there efforts on the remains of the monsters who tried to run from them. None escaped death at the hands of the three Heroes.
"Explain yourself." came the cold emotionless voice of Charon.
"What the hell are we going to do now." said Icelander slightly annoyed and largely bewildered.
"Well, seeing as you are both being so kind about still having your lives I suppose I could share with you" retorted Makis with a sarcastic twang that he had not used in some time. "There is not a chance in hell that Fracture could have used this tunnel, I don't care who the hell he is and I guarantee you these bastards don't care either. Plus we have not passed any possible point of exit between where we entered and here, which of course means that Paige, Joe, and Psylex are going in the right direction. God forbid the bastard is still down here, they could be headed for some serious trouble."
"Alright I can go along with that."
"Lets go." Growled Charon.
The team started to walk over the dozens of corpses back in the direction they came.
04-20-2005, 04:13 PM
"Just who in the hell is Fracture?" asked Carbine, sounding somewhat perturbed.
The Sable Phoenix grinned behind her mask, almost ferally. "Be careful who you ask that question of," she said. "But anyone here will tell you... we have no idea."
Paige had actually welcomed the arrival of the Lost. They were the original targets of the phoenix's wrath, back when it had first "convinced" Paige to fight for the protection of the planet, and it had surged forward in her consciousness with a battle scream when the mutated forms had flooded down upon Joe and Psylex. She had embraced it, pulling the fury of the flame into herself as she had burned the alien abominations to cinders, and she had refused to let it go after the battle. They thought with one mind; they were now something more than they were when the phoenix simply inhabited her body.
She had even laughed afterwards. In most people moving from emotional breakdown to laughter in minutes would be a sign of mental instability, but the phoenix was surging with exultation from combat. And she was exulting in its power, in a way she had rarely let herself since her posession.
It was better than the state she had been in before, at least.
Her mind was clearer, her thoughts sharper, her calculations more accurate, her perspective broader. The human condition was so transient; what did it matter in the long run? Within a week it would be a memory, within a month forgotten.
And so, as she walked towards the glaring headlights of Carbine's truck, she was still grinning wolfishly as she said, "Whoever he is, he's one of us. He knows too much about the Bone Squad and its individual members not to be. He's too efficient at killing us." She paused, and flames licked from her eyes as she added, "Not that that will save him once we do know."
Psylex crossed his arms and stood silently, surprised or thoughtful, she could not tell which. Joe had pulled out his notepad and was furiously writing something. Carbine stared at her, dumbfounded, then swore once, violently. "You're kidding. You have just got to be kidding."
The grin widened under the Sable Pheonix's mask, baring her teeth. "We are never 'kidding'." She lifted off the floor and hung halfway between track and tunnel, flame wreathing out around her and flaring into blinding wings. "You three can take the truck. We'll fly."
04-20-2005, 04:13 PM
The television flickered brightly in the dark room, its light blaring as if angry that it had been put on mute. A man sat on the edge of the couch, his head in his hands. Although now in his forties, Howie Roberts still appeared to be in his late twenties. His wife joked about heroes never aging, but it was truer with Howie than with a lot of others, because of his healing factor.
“Fifteen years,” he muttered, entwining his fingers in his thick hair. Most super-powered beings went to Paragon City to do good, or else to become famous, or for revenge on a particular evil group. Howie had gone for anger management. For five years, he’d hacked and slashed all manner of villains, super-villains, and arch-villains… some multiple times. By the end, he’d known many of the more prominent gang members by first name.
But Howie never considered himself a superhero. And when he’d finally made his breakthrough, gaining control over his mysterious alter-ego, he’d immediately made plans to leave Paragon City. It had come as a shock to some of his Bone Squad teammates, career heroes who expected everyone else to be the same way. It was a foreign concept to them. They couldn’t picture The Wolf settling down and raising a family. And, in truth, The Wolf had had very little to do with Howie’s life ever since leaving Paragon.
Now, however, memories of his time spent in the City were flooding back into his mind. Although his body could rapidly heal any but the most grievous wound, Howie had never learned to ignore the pain that came from bullets tearing through muscle, or a huge fist breaking his ribs, or fire burning away flesh. Even after seeing what he had seen on the News tonight, could he go back to that life? Could he risk life and limb once more, suffer the slings and arrows, as it were?
Did he really have a choice?
Of course he did. Few people knew his true identity. His wife knew, of course. He hadn’t told her right away, but he’d told her before proposing. Honesty was important in any relationship, he knew. Geist Wulf knew. In fact, he’d been the one to sneak into Paragon City Hall and steal the paper file on The Wolf that contained his real name. And Joe knew, because he’d hacked the Hero Registry and removed The Wolf entirely. Charon probably knew, because Psylex probably knew, and Psylex would probably have told Charon, if Charon ever asked. There were a lot of “probably”s with mind-readers.
But the important question was: Did Fracture know?
Howie poked his head into his daughter’s room, letting the light from the hallway fall across her face, angelic in sleep. Jillian was twelve, would be thirteen in a few weeks. And his son, Jon, was ten. Howie checked Jon’s room, too, and smiled to see that his boy had fallen asleep while reading by flashlight. How he’d ever produced such an intelligent child was beyond him.
Finally, Howie made his way to his bedroom, and stood in the doorway, watching his wife snore lightly. It was decision time. Should he wake her up and tell her goodbye, that he had to go back to Paragon City and stop a killer, before the killer came looking for him? Or should he leave the killer to the real heroes, and just climb into bed and kiss his wife goodnight? Fracture couldn’t know who Howie Roberts had been twenty years ago, could he?
His mind made up, Howie tiptoed to the bedside…
04-20-2005, 04:14 PM
Charon, Makis and I ran back the way we had come. Following the gentle curve of the tunnel. Our radio signal didn’t travel far this deep underground, especially with all the interference down here. The three of us could communicate just fine, but as far as finding out what is going on with Psylex, Joe and Sable Phoenix, well we could only guess.
We got back to our starting point, the spot where the 6 of us had split up no more than a hour and a half ago. We sprinted past it, and continued. I couldn’t help but think past this point in time. Think about what I was going to do after we were done here. Could I really just go back to the way things were? As much as I denied it, the past few days, being back with the team had been rather nice compared to my normal days and nights. Sometimes I longed to go home, a lot of times actually. In truth though, I was home. I have been here so long that this is all I know now. I don’t think I could leave even if given the chance.
Over the past decade or so, I have toyed with the idea of recreating my space pod. I even went on a parts search for months. I infiltrated several old space ships that were destroyed and had been left to rot after the invasion. I managed to gather together a pretty sizeable amount of equipment, but after several propulsion setbacks I grew frustrated and eventually gave up on it. Actually, I just realized that I didn’t want to leave. Back on my planet, I would be just another being. Average, normal even. Here, I was for lack of a better term, special. I could do things that most humans could only do in their dreams. In some ways, I was power hungry. I refused to give it up. Im actually surprised that Charon even contacted me about this whole mess. The last time we spoke was not pretty, looking back on it now. I realize that I just needed to have a go on my own, I saw him as a road block. Someone that was holding me back, as long as I had to abide by his rules I would never really realize my whole potential.
Of course my view was just a tad skewed. If anything, I had to learn everything the hard way. My first year on my own was a disaster, I had more injuries and blown cases than I care to remember. I had seriously thought about trying to return, but my pride was to great. I didn’t want to admit that there was something that I couldn’t handle on my own. I had told the team on many occasions that I didn’t need them, if anything it had to be a relief for them when I left. I was loath to return, bloody and beaten, and willing to crawl back begging to be taken in. So I toughed it out through the first couple of years. Eventually, I emerged from that as a better hero. Not a better person mind you, but a better hero.
This wasn’t exactly the perfect time to stroll down memory lane though. I pushed those thoughts from my head as we hurredly ran through the maze of tunnels, following fresh tire tracks. I couldn’t hear any sounds over our own footfalls and heavy breathing. I did smell exhaust fumes though, we had to be close. Suddenly we were all knocked to the ground by a earth shuddering explosion that shook the tunnel walls. I rolled to my feet and slid my infrared lenses into place. About a half mile up this tunnel, I could see some major heat signatures. Then, we heard it. Gunfire.
I launched myself up and took off in a full sprint towards the action, with Charon and Makis at my side…
04-20-2005, 04:15 PM
Charon sprinted up the tunnel behind Icelander, Makis was sprinting behind him, desert eagle pointed out infront of him. Suddenly, Makis had a flash of the future.
His world rocked and dissolved, and infront of his eyes he saw gunfire rip along the tunnel walls beside him, ripping dust from the walls, flying through Icelander, and then Charon, and right infront of his eyes, for the sixteen thousand, five hundred and thirty seventh time, he saw himself die.
He snapped back to reality, and grabbed Icelander and Charon by the collar as they ran. He pulled them both to the tracks below, and pushed their heads down where they wouldn't be an easy target. Icelander turned to look at him, and lifted his head from the position Makis had pushed it down into. Charon stayed exactly where he was. When Makis pushed you violently to the floor, it meant something that could kill you was about to happen, and Charon knew to trust Makis' judgement.
"Head Down" Charon screamed at Icelander, just as the gunfire Makis had seen in his vision began to rip around the corner of the tunnel. Icelander hit the deck and placed his hands over his head. Charon looked up ahead and into the darkness. From the quick, flashing lights from the exploding automatic weapon, he could see people in the tunnel, a crashed truck was up ahead. He couldn't make out who the people were though - the light was gone before he could make out faces in the darkness.
The gunfire began to rip along the floor. Icelander, Makis and Charon pushed themselves to their feet and dived for the walls of the tunnel, staying as close to the corner as possible. There was a scream in the darkness, and momentarily, the gunfire stopped. Then, the whole tunnel lit up. Standing in the tunnel, was a flaming Sable Phoenix, Psylex and Joe, surrounded by members of the gang known as the Bears. Up ahead, a truck had crashed into the wall. There was a man, unconcious, lying in the driver's seat. Charon looked at Sable Phoenix. This wasn't a usual occurance, yet it was the second time he'd done it today. Her heart sank when she realised he was just trying to attract her attention. Charon used the Bone Squad sign language to ask:
Who - Truck?
She didn't reply. The street gang members began to heckle, and some turned their guns on the three heroes in the curve of the tunnel. Charon wondered why they hadn't fired. They had all the members of the Bone Squad save one in a tight spot in an abandoned tunnel no one ventured into anymore - why hadn't they opened fire and wasted all of them? He couldn't work it out. One of the Bears began to laugh... as a growl came from further up the tunnel.
"Dude, this is gonna be so fricking sweet." One of the street gangs said to his comrade, before one of the leaders of the group stepped forward and screamed:
"Time to meet Grizz, my friends..."
Something stirred in the tunnel, and it stepped into the light. A huge, clawed, bear man. As big as the tunnel itself, roared.
"We don't have time for this..." Icelander muttered.
It watched. It decided this was it's time to react. Target was identified as Robert Ian Black. Secondary targets, Makis, Icelander. Heart rates high. Trouble. Wrist weaponry - Online.
04-20-2005, 04:16 PM
Initiate offensive signature sequence…
Icelander started to move out from the concealed corner the trio was in, but Makis pulled him roughly back into in and forced him to the ground.
“A wise decision…” said a metallic voice from the shadows
The Figure stepped out into the light for the first time in 20 years. Everything went still. The gang members turned around, Sable Phoenix, Psylex, and Joe all stared at the being. Makis gave the creature a homicidal look, and Icelander looked as though we wanted to get up and attack something at that exact moment. Charon looked at the being, expressionless, with a faint look of remembrance in his eyes.
“John?” Charon said, his voice steady but unsure.
Other than the robotic limbs, the figure looked very similar to John’s powersuit, with a few enhancements. It turned toward Charon and said, “I am the Offensive Mechanical Enforcement Nanobot. I was built by one John Richards 23 measured Earth Years ago. Biomass of Richard Ian Black found—Charon. Bone Squad found and contacted. Assistance needed, requested and granted.” It turned to toward the gang members and raised its hands at them. “One chance, either disarm yourselves or proper measures will be taken.”
Sable Phoenix extinguished her flame, and they were all surrounded by darkness. One of the gang members said, “This is our territory, you don’t think we live in the dark do you? Hit it.” Several rows of lights lit up, the narrow access “room” was endowed with dim light.
The Bears seemed to jerk out of their trance, and one by one they all started laughing. They all drew their weapons and started firing at the robot. Bullets riddled it, but ricocheted off, shotgun slugs were shrugged off like popgun corks. The being known as “Grizz” spoke in a low, gravel-roar of a voice, “Kill…grraw…it..”
Two barrels came out of the wrist panels of the robot and he raised them up, pointing at the freshly-lit lights. “I hope you all aren’t afraid of the dark…” and shot them out.
The sewer was plunged into complete darkness. Icelander flipped down his infrared lenses, but all he could make out was the body heat of the gang members huddling together, guns pointed outward.
Once again the sewer was an oven with hot lead, but not from the gang members. Bullets seemed to come from every direction at once and were tearing into the mob of gang members. The Bone squad was able to use their comlinks and come together in the corner of the sewer, and Sable Phoenix instinctively lit up a fire bright enough to illuminate the “room”, and what they found was the robot, maneuvering around mob…or what was left of it. There were only 3 members left, one of which pulled out a rocket launcher and fired it at the robot…who caught it, and threw it up into the “ceiling”, where a giant explosion occurred, and sunlight filled the tunnel about 10 feet in each direction.
The Robot leapt forward, grabbed one of the three remaining gang members, and swung him, very Pylon-like, into the other two, sending them sprawling into the wall. The robot turned to the giant Grizz, who didn’t look happy in the loosest sense of the word. Charon ran up next to the robot, and was followed cautiously by the other members.
“So…” He said looking at the robot. “Where to begin…”
“I think,” Makis said, with just a hint of impatience, “that we should start with that” He pointed one of his desert eagles at Grizz, who gave a roar that shook the pipes in the sewer for miles and charged at them…
04-20-2005, 04:17 PM
As the massive beast called "Grizz" charged down the tunnel towards the team the robot and Makis began firing there guns at the beast only to have its bullets lodged into the Bears dense fur and skin. Icelander launched a bolt of ice and Makis threw a timed bomb at it, both of which were "swatted" into the walls of the tunnel. Soon after Sable Phoenix launched a fireball at the massive bear who threw himself against the wall to avoid it but had its hair singed regardless. Makis, knowing full well what was going to happen in a few seconds howled; "Run for it"as he threw a hand full of Caltrops into the beasts face. Makis to everyone's surprise ran and rolled straight under the momentarily blinded beast firing rounds into its gut. "RUN YOU FOOLS" he scream to his team as he ran dead sprint down the tunnel away from the team, who practically dragged by Charon, ran the other direction, away from where they came. The O.M.E.N robot ran straight for the beast, jumped up and slammed down both its limbs into the beasts knee causing it to howl in pain. Moments later the robot was smashed against the tunnel wall, hit by a punch square to its abdomen.
Makis who had escaped the light that poured in from the street below began pouring out rounds into Grizz's back drawing its attention away from the fleeing team. He knew he couldn't outrun it for long, gradually Grizz began to overtake him.
The rest of the team had ran down the tunnel for about half mile before the gun shots stopped. None of them wanted to except or give voice to what they were all thinking. "Come on. He can take care of himself" growled Charon to the team. "Makis is dead, that thing will be coming after us Robert" said Paige, "We will have to fight it." The whole team was stunned that Paige had argued one of Charon's orders. "Move" was the only response Charon gave. Paige was about to respond when Psylex's words formed in her mind Please Paige, we have to put some distance between us and that monster. Wordless she started walking down the tunnel quickly followed by the rest of the team.
They walked about 300 yards down the tunnel they reached a intersection in the tunnel. Joe quickly brought out his note pad and pen and started scribbling something down. He showed them the note which read "Straight = Skyway, Right = Brickstown, Left = Galaxy City."
"Which way do you think?" asked Icelander to no one in particular.
"Left." responded Charon in his usual emotionless voice.
The team followed the tunnel for about 250 yards when all of there hearts simultaneously sunk. The tunnel ended with what appeared to be a building that had caved into the tunnel. There was however no time to say anything, they all heard it. Icelander swung around a slipped his infrared lenses over his eyes, he wished he had, not because of what he saw but because Sable had engulfed herself in flame, flooding the tunnel with light blinding Icelander. "Damn it Sable" he said as he pulled off the lenses. Standing before them just within the light was Grizz who let out a massive roar.
Back down the tunnel where they first met the Bears Makis crawled from the wreckage of Carbines truck.
No wonder shooting the son of a flower in the head doesn't kill him, the damn brute doesn't have a brain in his head, Makis thought to himself as he ran down the tunnel towards his team.
04-20-2005, 04:18 PM
As the hulking form of the bear-man slowly approached the team, who, in turn, prepared to face it, there was a sound of sliding rock behind them. Somewhere within the collapsed building, something was moving. And then, through a gap formed by two huge pieces of plaster, a large brown dog emerged. It was covered in white dust from crawling through the destroyed structure, and it shook its whole body as it padded out into the light of the flame. Nonchalantly, the abnormally large canine placed itself between the advancing Grizz and the surprised Bone Squad teammates. It sat back on its haunches, facing the team, and grinned wolfishly, lolling its tongue.
Before the bear-man could get within reach of it, the dog hopped up and spun around, wagging its tail. It gave a happy bark at the monster, who roared a reply. Then, the dog charged. Grizz was fast, but not fast enough to catch the canine as it sprinted through his legs. As it passed, the dog grasped Grizz’s Achilles tendon in its strong jaws, clipping the sinew as clean as a pair of shears. The bear-man roared again, this time in pain, and whirled around to face the dog, showing his back to the group. But the large dog was already back between his legs, and before Grizz knew it, his other heel was similarly damaged.
Leaning backwards, Grizz made a miraculous grab, showing more agility than anyone could give him credit for. Growling happily, he lifted the canine into the air. The dog didn’t struggle as it was lifted; instead, it smiled its doggy smile and wagged its tail. The bear-man’s lips curled from his sharp fangs as he studied the animal. Then Grizz opened his massive jaws, and prepared to bite down on the dog.
But, suddenly, the dog was harder to hold onto. Not because it was wriggling, but because his hands seemed too small to hold it anymore. He heard the pop and snap of bones reforming and resettling themselves into place, and felt the flesh roll underneath his fingers as muscles swelled and repositioned for two-legged travel. Closing his mouth, Grizz lowered his gaze to study the strange creature. He had been holding the dog off of the ground; even though Grizz was on his knees, the dog had been several feet off of the floor. Now, however, he found each of his hands on the tight midsection of a beast almost his own size. The new animal’s feet touched the ground, its upper legs were arms, nearly as large as his own arms. And then, from out of the hands of the creature, long claws slowly extended, gleaming in the firelight.
The bear-man continued to raise his head, and found himself staring into the burning green eyes of an equal, a wolf-man, fully formed. The Wolf’s canine lips curled from his own huge teeth as his eyes met Grizz’s. His growl was slightly tenor to Grizz’s own, but equally frightening. His voice came intelligible, but only just.
“Let me go.”
Apparently, Grizz thought about that too long, because before he knew it, Wolf’s massive claws sunk into the bear-man’s forearms, causing Grizz to release the wolf-man. Wolf walked backward to where the team was standing. In this true werewolf form, he towered over all of them.
“Sorry I’m late,” he growled, and crouched down into a fighting stance as the bear-man’s roar shook the man-made cavern. “Take out his legs first.”
And then, albeit with a noticeable limp, Grizz charged.
04-20-2005, 04:19 PM
"Yessir." Came the voice from behind the charging bear man, before bullets ripped through the bears legs, sending him howling to his knees. Charon stepped forward, and pulled his staff from where it had been sat on his back for a good while. He hadn't used the staff in a fight since before all this began, and he was itching to get back into form. He pulled it back away from the face of the howling bear man, who still had bullet after bullet pumping into him. Underneath the mask, Charon allowed himself a small, very small smirk, before he rammed one end of the staff into the bears face, sending blood flying from his nose and into his mouth, choking him. The res of the team jumped in, and soon enough, the bear was simply a bleeding mess on the floor of the tunnel, with the team standing all around it. They had alot of frustration to take out, and Grizz just happened to be the only person recently to stick around after he'd pissed them off. These were the consequences.
They stood in silence for a while. The bear on the floor stirred, and moaned, before giving out a loud roar of pain. Makis stepped forward, pulled one of his desert eagles from it's holster, aimed it down, and said:
"Play dead." Before pumping a bullet through the Bear's skull, in exactly the right place this time, silencing it.
"That's dogs." Wolf twitched. "That play dead." Makis gave him a very strange look, blew the smoke away from the end of his pistol, and slammed another clip into it, and holstering it below his shoulder.
Further down the tunnel, the wrecked truck was empty. Carbine had completely disapeared. The Bone Squad could only assume he'd gone back above ground.
They all trudged along the tunnel. This time they'd decided on not splitting up, that didn't work out. They all talked in the darkness, about Wolf's return, and about the disapearance of Carbine somewhere back down the tunnel. None of them knew where he had gone, the truck had crashed into the wall and Carbine had flown out. They couldn't go back and look for him, when O.M.E.N. had come back to the group, he had informed them that the tunnel had caved in shortly after his impact with the brickwork. The chat immensely annoyed Charon who was leading the group. They shoul maintain at least some element of stealth, they didn't know what they were walking into. But obviously only he knew that, aswell as Icelander and Makis, who were following behind him very closely, always alert. Behind them, the rest of the group spoke quietly, apart from Joe, who had no choice but to maintain silence.
They'd been going for a very long time. Charon was begining to loose hope. Maybe they'd never find him. Charon knew his suspects. He had them all listed in his mind. But he didn't know who he could trust with that list. All of the people in that tunnel were a liability. He couldn't tell any one of them who he thought fracture was. Charon had spent many years of his life figuring out how to sheild his thoughts from Psylex, who was obviously probing his mind at this very moment. Back in the days when they were on the same team, before...the incident, Charon had spent quite some time figuring out just where he could put his thoughts and what to sheild them with that Psylex couldn't fish around in his mind for them, and right now was no exception. All that Psylex could see while searching Charon's mind, was a mental map of the subway system, and Charon's plan of where they were going next. Psylex knew this wasn't normal... but was over confident in his abilities and hadn't thought about the fact that anyone may have thought long and hard when he wasn't around as to exactly how they could hide their thoughts from a telepath. But Charon had.
Charon stopped in his tracks. They had come to one of the long closed stations in Bone Yard. He had stopped so abruptly Icelander and Makis, who had him covered incredibly closely, almost walked straight into the back of him. Charon stood still and surveyed the area.
"Whats the hold up??" Makis asked impatiently.
"Light." Charon said, and held his hand out over his shoulder just in time to have a flash light rammed into his hand by Icelander.
"This better be good." Icelander said. "This has been one big wild goose chase so far."
"Quiet." Charon said, and clicked on the flashlight. He turned it towards the tunnel floor. Underneath their feet, in fact, some of them were walking in them, were tire tracks. Charon pointed the flash light over to the station, and pulled himself up and onto the platform. In one of the abandoned rooms, was an abundance of fire power, all stored in one room. They had found it. Fracture's base of operations. Turning the flashlight back down on the tracks, he saw where they stopped, right outside the station.
"This is it." Charon said. No body had to ask what, they'd all long worked it out. Even Wolf who had only heard about the killings on the news, knew this was the case. He'd figured out as soon as he saw Charon that he wasn't the one behind these killings. He'd known as soon as he'd seen the team back together.
"Now what?" Makis asked.
"We wait, he'll be back, and when he is..." Icelander started.
"No." Charon said. Icelander opened his mouth to disagree but Charon cut him off. "We come back. Later. Must be...service hatch, around here somewhere." Charon said. "Find it. We come back....midnight, we ambush him." Charon stopped, and the team thought they heard a sigh, but most of them shrugged it off as something in the tunnels, Charon never sighed. "Somewhere...I have to be."
"Ashes to Ashes. Earth to Earth...Dust...to Dust." Said the vicar, as the coffin was lowered into the ground. The wind blew across the hillside as twelve people stood around the grave of Patrick Solomon. Robert Black stood, clean shaven and respectable for the first time in 30 years, somewhere at the back, behind some sobbing relatives, fading into the background. He felt some emotion well up on the inside, but nothing was shown on the outside as Patrick's body hit the cold hard floor in the bottom of the grave. His cold, steely gaze was concentrated on the coffin, always keeping a constant straight face. Time seemed to pass, and soon, Robert found himself alone on the hillside, except for the two men filling in the grave. How much time had passed, he didn't know. All that passed through his mind were distant memories of the day they had met. Very distant memories. Recalling them was painful, although he couldn't really explain to himself why. He thought about the years that had passed since they last saw each other alive. He tried to remember the last thing he had said to him. He came up blank. He stood on the hillside for a moment longer, as the last shovel of dirt hit the grave, and read the head stone:
"Patrick Solomon, 1981-2024. He Helped Many, Was Recognised by Few. But He Was Our Protector." The inscription had been chosen by the only man who knew anything about him. Charon.
He gave a short sigh before walking away from the hillside, and disapearing into the mist.
04-20-2005, 04:19 PM
The rusted steel girder was cold and hard against her side as the Sable Phoenix leaned against a rooftop radio tower, watching the street below through the fog. She had discreetly followed Robert until she realized where he was going, and had returned to wait here, on one of the Kings Row rooftops fairly near to the Bone Squad tower, granting him the privacy he obviously desired.
It was a long time before she saw the hunched form of Robert (she could never think of him as Charon without the mask) making his way furtively down the edge of the street, his smooth gait and frequent pauses the product of stealth habits used so long they had become ingrained into his every movement. And yet he did not seem to be as aware of his surroundings as usual; he walked with his head down, obviously preoccupied. She pushed away from the girder and stepped lightly off the roof, fire wreathing her thinly as she floated down to hover in front of him.
Robert did not alter his course or even acknowledge her presence until he was two paces from her. Then he stopped, abruptly, and looked up. His eyes were dark and blank, his face utterly expressionless.
"Robert. We need to talk," said the Sable Phoenix, pale flames licking from her eyes.
There was a long pause in which Robert simply stared at her as if he had never seen her before. Then, slowly, his gaze drifted back to the sidewalk and he picked up his stride again. "Won't talk... to that," he said as he passed her.
For a moment the Sable Phoenix was confused, then she realized that he was talking about the phoenix -- he had never liked the ancient spirit. With an effort, Paige pulled her thoughts away from the phoenix, releasing its intangible flame and descending back to her human perception. The phoenix withdrew reluctantly; it never liked to leave the complete melding of mind and purpose that she assumed was its natural state -- a state that required a host to accept it willingly and without reservation, something she still could not do even after all these years. The flood of untempered human emotions, always a bit disorienting even in the best of circumstances, rolled over her like a tumble of loose stones. By the time she managed to get them under control and turned around, Robert was already far down the sidewalk ahead of her, nearly invisble in the mist. She hovered rapidly ahead of him and alighted on the concrete, the flame surrounding her flickering out as she did so. Robert stopped and looked at her again, as expressionless as before, as she pulled her mask down around her throat to look at him with unveiled eyes.
"All right, Robert, it's me," she said. "Will you talk to me now?"
Robert made no response, which she took for some form of aqcuiescence, so she drew in a sharp breath and asked, urgently, "Would you really have hit me?"
For a moment it seemed as if Robert was unsure what she was referring too, then there was a flicker of something in his eyes and he rumbled a short, "No," before striding past her again.
"Then why did you..." she began, then in a rising voice, "Don't you walk away from me, this is important!"
Robert paused, but did not turn around as he said, "Have... other things. To worry about. And you're comm's on VOX."
Paige's Irish temper flared suddenly and she stamped a foot on the sidewalk in impotent fury, tore the communicator from her head and melted it to a glowing mass in an instant. "Robert Black, you cold-hearted insensitive jerk!" She snapped at him, her voice rising even more, "You'd better believe this is something to worry about!"
She couldn't tell if it was surprise on his part or something else, but Robert half-turned and looked over his shoulder at her... waiting.
"Listen..." Paige began, haltingly, "I... know where you went, just now, and..." She paused, frustrated, then made a small indecisive movement and started again. "You say you wouldn't have hit me, but how am I supposed to know that? You never say anything. Why did you even act like it?"
Robert did not reply, just stared back at her with the same blank expression he'd been using all night, and abruptly Paige found herself biting her lip and struggling to keep her voice steady.
"You don't realize... I've never told you, but you don't realize... what that did... how it... how it hurt. Do you even care?" Then, as he remained unresponsive, "What's happened to you, Robert? You're more distant than ever. What's wrong?"
Robert turned slowly away from her again, turned the collar of his trenchoat up against the cool dampness of the fog, and heaved a long, barely perceptible sigh.
Something inside her seemed to tear raggedly at that, and tears started trickling down her face again even as she cursed herself for her lack of control and hurried around in front of Robert to look up into his haunted eyes. She was struck by the weight of age in his face, the tiredness of the lines and wrinkles she had not noticed in years, and she found herself moved by it even more.
"Fine," she said in a trembling voice as she dashed at her eyes with a gloved hand, "If you won't talk then at least listen. I've... always trusted you, Robert... but after this I... don't know how I can any more." She brushed again at the tears that refused to stop running down her face, and continued, "The worst part is you don't even seem to care! Can't you at least get rid of the armor for one person? Even part of the time? You're more distant than ever! It's been fifteen... twenty years that we've been... and we've become... superficial! I need to know what's wrong. I need... I need to know that..."
She stopped suddenly and placed a hand over her mouth as the truth of what she was about to say struck her in a blinding flash. She had never realized it before... or perhaps she had, and had simply not acknowledged it... but now that it was confronting her it was impossible to deny. She dropped her hand, ignoring the tears still wetting her face, and said in a shaking voice hardly above a whisper, "I need to know you care, Robert. I need to hear that... you..." Abruptly her face crumpled and she lowered her head, but she could not stop now, she had to finish. "I know that I can never... that Maria... that you don't want to do that again... and I'm not asking for it." She drew a sharp breath, and the next words came out in a rush. "But all you have to do is say the word and I'll never leave your side as long as you live." She tilted her face back up to his, tear stained and wrung with emotion as it was, and choked out, "But you have to show me something, Robert. If you ever want to see this face again..." She gave a short laugh that was half a sob as she realized the irony of what she had just said, and brushed futilely at her tears with a hand before continuing, "If you ever want to see me again... Paige MacKenzie by herself... then you have to show me something. I can't deal with this any more... I won't." She struggled to maintain her composure as she looked up into Robert's eyes and said, "You told me to 'just go', earlier... and believe me I'm about to. I don't know how much that hurt when you said that. I need an answer, Robert... I need it, right now. And if you don't really want me to just go... it has to be the right one."
* * *
There had been disturbances in the deep dust on the floor... that had been the first clue, but not the last. The early warning motion sensors had been tripped as well. Now he looked at a computer monitor he had uncovered from its hiding place behind a pile of old crates, examining the profiles of the Bone Squad as captured by one of his discreet fisheye cameras. They had found his hideout, but they had been careless. Luckily for them... and for him as well, in a way... they had not gotten far enough in to activate the defense systems that kept this area free of Bears and Clockwork Zombies. It would be a shame to end it all so quickly, denying him the pleasure of the ending it personally... of seeing the realization in their eyes, of feeling Charon's jugular crumple in his own hands.
"Ah, my dear friends," he said to himself, flipping the screen off and getting up quickly to begin removing his equipment, "You have seriously underestimated little old Fracture. You always did... A fact I will demonstrate to you soon enough."
04-20-2005, 04:21 PM
Charon stared into her eyes, and thought to himself. She simply stood there, with the tears streaming down her face, looking at him, trying to decipher what he was thinking.
To be honest, not even Charon knew what he was thinking. His mind hadn't been such a mess in decades. He'd always been able to think straight, to pull one thing from another, he always knew what was going on, and if he didn't, he at least knew his own mind. He knew what he wanted, he knew what his objectives were, and he knew exactly where he was going. But not now, not anymore. He was loosing control, loosing grasp of his own thoughts, he even had trouble protecting things from Psylex anymore.
He stared at her, and tried to arrange the feelings he felt for her. He'd never been able to straighten out exactly what he thought of her. But he knew she wasn't Maria, she could never replace Maria. If anyone could replace her, then there would have been no point in the last god knows how many years of his life.
They stood there and looked at each other for an incredibly long time, and neither of them seemed to notice it was going by as they stood there, buried in their own thoughts, trying to decipher the thoughts of the other. But it wasn't working for either of them, both of them were simply too hard to figure out.
But then a memory shot into his mind. A memory of early 2004, 20 years ago, on a rooftop. The day the two of them had formally met for the first time after working together on a case not long before. He had told her that he wanted her for his new Bone Squad. He had always told himself he didn't really need his team mates, but then, like now, he had needed them more than ever deep down. And he had told her that. He had told her that he needed her, that he couldn't do what he was trying to do on his own. He had told her that her presence was desired, that another human being directly needed her help. And that, that single word had sparked loyalty for the man that stood infront of her for the next twenty years. That distant memory then faded, and hundreds more from the next twenty years shot through his mind.
"Thats IT!" She screamed at him. "You wanted me to go? I'm GONE!" And she turned around, and walked away down the street. She paused for a second before taking flight and disapearing.
"Paige." Charon said.
"What?!" She yelled at him. And then stopped. He had just called her Paige. Charon had never called her Paige, not in the entire time they had been team mates, in the entire time they had known each other.
Charon tightened his tie, and turned, begining to walk away, down the street, and he muttered out into the mist:
"I still need you."
He woke up with a start. Those damn kids were in the street. Again. He looked at the broken clock on the wall. It read nine pm. It was already dark outside, the nights were drawing in, the winter in Paragon City was well underway. He drank a shot of whiskey, he couldn't be sure how old the bottle was, it had been a long time since he'd bought any new liquor, he knew that. He needed to rest, they were heading into Bone Yard at Midnight, and for once he was ready to admit that he was tiring. He was covered in cuts and bruises, and he was convinced that one of his ribs was broken. He stood for a second and stared out of his window at what his life long home, King's Row, had become, and then dived back into the bed, with the hope of falling asleep. It took him fifteen minutes, but eventually, he dropped into a light sleep.
The shadow followed them in the darkness as him and his fiancee headed down the King's Row street. They talked and laughed as they came to the turning they took every night, that lead through to the Gish. The shadow skulked along the wall, following their every move. Half way into the alley way, they were pounced upon, by large, unrecognisable...things. The shadow sprang from the wall. It grabbed her, grabbed her by the throat. He tried to scream out, to yell for help, but no sound came from his mouth. They toyed with him, they beat her. He tried to lurch forward, but he was too late, and for the six thousandth, two hundredth and twenty sixth time, he saw Maria die.
The alarm woke, him, and he screamed out as he bolted from his bed. It was midnight...it was time.
04-20-2005, 04:21 PM
We all kind of went our separate ways after leaving the tunnel system. I returned to what used to be my home. The Tower had gone through many upgrades, revisions and changes over the years. When I first joined the Bone Squad, this place was hardly what you would call user friendly. But, it quickly became my home and the people in it, as odd as they were became something of a family. Of course that was before the big blow up that ultimately had us all go our separate ways.
I walked along the empty, lonely corridors silently. Not because I needed to, or really wanted to. It was more out of habit than anything else, I was currently on what used to be the most inhabited level. The sleeping quarters. I passed by a door with old musical groups, and various other paraphernalia. A smirk occupied my face under my mask. This was Cat’s old room. She is one of the brighter points of being back in this place. We had always had……something. Back then, I wasn’t really sure what it was or even what I wanted it to be. Actually, that was a lie. I knew what I wanted it to be, I was just to stubborn to accept it.
I sighed wearily and entered her room, even after all these years it still looked the same. A little bit more dusty, but still the same. It even smelled the same. I slowly walked around her old room, stopping every so often to examine something here or there. I finally picked up a picture. It was of Cat, Arclight, Makis and Me. Not even sure where this was, in fact im surprised that this was even taken. We weren’t ones to line up for the camera. It must have been a happy time though, one of the few. Makis had that smartass look on his face that I have come to hate. Cat looked really happy, she was like that though. Hell even I couldn’t stay grumpy around her for long. She was just so full of life, it reminded me of what I used to be like before I came here.
I set the picture down gently and stood up straight. I glanced back to the door and listened intently to make sure I was alone. Satisfied that I was, I quickly peeled off my mask and looked into the mirror that sat above the dresser. My face looks exactly the same today as it did 20 years ago. The aging process had been extremely slowed due to my alien birth. One of the many reasons, why I would forever be alone. To watch people die around you as you never age a day is a hard thing to do. That is one of the main reasons why I live the way I do.
I still wondered though, wondered what life would be like if I had chosen a different path. What if…….what if I knew where Cat was right now? Would I be able to make up for my past failures? Most likely not, I had spent far to much time alone to ever be of use to anyone. I narrowed my eyes at myself as I tried to intimidate the figure in the mirror. Seeing that the stubborn fool would not give in I turned away disgusted and slipped my mask back on. It was 11:15, my internal clock was never off. I briskly walked out of the room and down the corridor to the main stairway.
As I made my way down I could hear murmured voices in the lobby. As I got closer, I recognized them as Makis and Sable. Along with ever silent Psylex and Joe. I stopped at the far wall and stood silently. Some might consider it rude, but they knew me well enough that it didn’t matter to them in the slightest. They continued there conversation as if I wasn’t there. In reality I wish I wasn’t.
Charon came up from the gear room, obviously ready to go.
“Ready” Charon muttered.
I pushed off the wall and stared towards the underground entrance when a hand was slapped on my shoulder. I stopped and looked at the hand gripping me.
“What?” I said without turning around.
“You. Point.” Charon said.
“Fine.” I replied as I shrugged my shoulder out of his grip violently.
I took up the front position or point as Charon had said. We cautiously made our way through the maze back to the service entrance to Fracture’s hideout. I spotted the door in the dimly lit tunnel and gave the signal for everyone to stop. Charon came up to my right and crouched down beside me. I glanced over his way.
“I’ll go in first.” I said.
Charon glanced at me for a moment, before returning his gaze to the door.
“No. To noisy.” Charon replied.
I narrowed my eyes at him in defiance and started to speak. I thought better of it and quickly snapped my jaw shut while angrily grinding my teeth. I took a few deep breaths and glanced back at the door. Charon silently stood up and edged his way near the door until he was standing next to it with his back to the wall. He looked back at the rest of us and gave a short nod indicating that he was about to go in.
This was about to get a lot more interesting…
04-20-2005, 04:22 PM
The door opened silently and Charon slipped through to the other side and immediately hit the floor. He looked around himself, pressing a small button on his temple, impanted in his mask. He didn't often use this mask, but he needed to see in the dark for full effectiveness this time.
The plan was simple. Icelander, Charon and Makis would head through the door, and would stealth the area. Joe would sit outside and monitor the action on a cam that Makis was wearing on his shirt - when the **** hit the fan, as Makis had put it, the rest would run in, and they would take out Fracture. Unfortunately most had doubts in their minds as to whether this was going to go to plan.
The room illuminated green. Charon leaned back through the service hatch, and silently gestured. Makis lowered a pair of chunky night vision goggles over his eyes and discreetly pulled his pistols from their holsters. Icelander flicked on his night vision, and they were ready to go. Makis came through the door first, he was to lead the way. He began to crawl on his stomach directly down the middle of the track. Infront of him, illuminated green in the darkness, he could see a car parked next to the station.
Icelander leaned up against the opposite wall, facing the station, and slowly edged his way along it. He was ready to provide ranged support for Charon, who was slowly crawling his way along the opposite wall, getting closer and closer to the edge of the platform.
All three of them stopped in their positions. Makis leaning up against the car parked infront of the track, Icelander leaning on the far wall, his hands growing colder and cloder as he prepared to pelt the platform with Ice at the first oppertunity, and Charon standing just around the corner from the platform waiting to swing his body weight around the corner and up on to the concrete. They all stood silently, and Charon held his hand out infront of him. He displayed 5 fingers to the men infront of him.
5...4...3... Makis counted them in his head...but then the fingers stopped going down, and the three of them listened in the silence, as they heard a soft beep from the back of the station. Charon jerked his hand back to his side and pushed himself hard against the wall. The soft beeping continued for approximately 7.3 seconds, or so Charon counted it, and then it stopped.
Silence in the tunnel. Nothing could be heard along the miles of tunnel that stretched in each direction, all the way around Paragon, and nothing stirred in the darkness. Icelander sat, uneasy, his hand twitching as iceicles formed on his fingers. Charon remained completely calm, but with eyes constantly on Makis. If something was going to happen, Makis would react, he would see it first, and at the first sign of something going wrong, Charon was ready. He silently brought his hand over his head and firmly got a grip on his staff.
Nothing happened. At least two minutes passed in the darkness as the three heroes looked at each other. Charon then took his hand off his staff, and once again displayed 5 fingers to the heroes infront of him.
Makis screamed out in the darkness, and immediately grabbed at his head with his hands. Over the years, his visions of the future had begun to become painful, they would be like momentary migraines, like stabbing needles in the back of his brain. Charon launched his staff from his back and held it in the ready position, and Icelander let Ice engulf his fists. They waited a split second before Makis screamed:
Lights suddenly flooded the tunnel as the headlights of the car switched on in the darkness and the engine started. The bright lights blinded the three heroes, who immediately disposed of their night vision equipment. Makis dived to the floor and placed his hands over his head, allowing the car to rip over him without causing any damage, and flipping over to pump a few bullets through the bottom, which embedded themselves in the roof above the back seats of the car. Icelander squashed himself against the wall and narrowly avoided being hit, as Charon stepped out into the middle of the track, and launched his staff forward, and through the wind screen. The man behind the wheel was seen breifly, wearing his Fractured skull mask, as he swung the car around and into the wall of the tunnel. Makis opened fire on the car, as Charon rushed to the drivers door.
He ripped it open and pulled the man in the drivers seat to the floor below. He leaned down and put one hand around Fracture's throat, choking him. He was so consumed with choking the life out of the man infront of him, he didn't notice the gun barrel that was being rammed into his stomach. Fracture was about to pull the trigger when Makis took aim, and shot him in he hand... well, at least he thought it was his hand, there was a clang of metal on metal when the bullet hit the black glove, and the bullet riceched. But the impact was enough to make Fracture drop his gun.
Charon continued to choke. Fracture lifted one hand, while gasping for air, and placed it on Charon's adam's apple, slowly pushing it inwards, and began t launch fist after fist into Charon's ribs. By this time, the rest of the Squad had launched themselves into the tunnel, but none one could open fire on Fracture without the risk of killing Charon. OMEN lifted his two wrist-mounted mini-guns and was about to open fire when Icelander grabbed them and slammed them back to the robots side.
"As much as I don't like him, we don't need to kill him." Icelander yelled at him, and continued to watch the struggle further up the tracks. Psylex had already tried penetrating Fracture's mind, something was stopping him from getting through.
"Charon!" Sable screamed into the darkness, now that the car had crashed and the headlights had smashed, the tunnel had been plunged back into pitch black. Sable turned to ignight the tunnel with flame, but Fracture had placed a hand back on his gun, and fired randomly at the Squad newly arrived squad members, hitting Sable and sending her scrambling to the floor. In normal circumstances, the phoenix would have immediately taken over, but she was trying to be Paige again, she was trying to be someone Charon would relate to recently, and so the phoenix was slow to react, and she was already on the floor and bleeding by the time it was ready to take over. The three original heroes into the tunnel had all dumped their night vision equipment on impulse when the lights blinded them, and so they had no way of helping either, and whether they wanted to or not, they now had to attend to Sable... but Wolf could see perfectly. He dived at the two figures in combat, taking his dog form as he did so, ripping into Fracture's back.
He screamed out in the darkness and threw Wolf off, turning his gun around and into the darkness as he did so. He aimed the gun, and start firing into the darkness at the dog. At least a few shots landed on target, because Wolf did not seem to pounce back from the shadows he had landed in. Charon took his oppertunity, and snatched up his staff from where it had landed on the floor. He swept Fracture's legs, and sent him flying to the floor where his back impacted with the tracks and he screamed out. Charon jumped at the chance of attack, and once again grabbed Fracture's throat, choking the life out of him. Fracture began to pound of Charon's ribs with his fist. He heard another of his ribs crack, that was two broken ribs in one week. No normal human could pack a punch like he was, it felt like he was being smashed by a three hundred pound bruiser with bricks taped to his hands. Charon kept one hand on Fracture's throat, choking his life away, as he grabbed for his utility belt, pulling out a throwing knife. He slammed it somewhere close to Fracture's collar bone, and he yelled out, and stopped struggling, and began trying to pull the knife from his chest. Charon reached down and held Fracture to the tracks, and with one hand, ripped his mask from his face.
"You." He said, a harsh, hissing whisper into Fracture's face. "I knew. Knew it was you." He screamed at him, trying to look at the little details to fully confirm in the darkness.
"You deserve to die. You killed him, now I'm going to kill you. You ruined me, RUINED ME!" Fracture screamed back at him, spittle flying from his lips and landing on Charon's face. Charon squinted again to make out his face, when a flame lit, and the tunnel was illuminated. The bleeding Sable sat, with her hand engulfed in flame as Icelander attended to her. Charon turned his eye, and realised that Sable had been shot. Worry shot through his mind, and Fracture took his oppertunity. He head butted Charon, and kicked him off against the far wall. He pressed a small button on the inside of his jacket, and an explosion was triggered back in the station. All eyes turned to the station, which was now ablaze, and by the time Charon turned his eye back, he was gone. Fracture had escaped, again. He ran to Wolf, who seemed to be fine, just a bit out of it, and picked him up, carrying him over his shoulder in his dog form. Had he turned back to his normal form, Charon would have immediately crumpled under his weight, but luckily he remained canine. Charon dropped him down next to Sable Phoenix who looked up at Charon.
"Who is he? Who is the bastard?" She choked out.
"Frank LaRusso. Knuckles."
04-20-2005, 04:22 PM
Purblind fool! Will you let yourself be killed for sentimentality?
The phoenix was railing at Paige, battering at her in fury, but at the moment she hardly noticed it. Shock had rolled over her at Charon's declaration. It was like walking through a strange city at night while convinced that north lay on her right hand, when some chance glimpsed street sign brought the undeniable orientation of north being on her left. Abruptly, silently, without any physical movement, the universe had swapped ends around her and settled into a completely new pattern.
So many things made sense now.
She knew that Charon had to have suspected the true identity of Fracture. She knew, when she had said that he was afraid of Fracture, why he had reacted as he did. She knew why he had been so cold and distant.
She pressed her hand to her side in an attempt to stop the bleeding and said, quietly, "I'm sorry, Robert."
Charon looked down at her, his gaze softer than she had seen it for a long time, and she could see that, for once, they understood each other perfectly.
"Are you... all right."
Charon's question, totally devoid of inflection though it was, carried a weight and meaning behind it that nobody else could have matched.
With a grimace she pulled herself up to one knee and bent her head, opening herself to the phoenix's warmth. It dove at her, embracing her with its flame as the bullet wounds in her flank and thigh cauterized. Within moments they were fully healed, and she stood up on the now blackened gravel and drew a breath as the flames flickered out around her. "Yes," she said, "I'm fine." If she had had her flame shield up, the bullets would have boiled away before they could have impacted, but she had been trying too hard to remain... normal, for lack of a better word, and was too late bringing it up, so she had to rely on the rebirthing powers of the phoenix to heal her. The ancient spirit was still incensed; she could feel its anger and frustration with its fickle human partner.
Abruptly she became aware of the rest of the team. The announcement of Fracture's identity seemed to have dropped a blanket of silence over them. Makis stood, his guns still at the ready, frowning. Icelander had crossed his arms and was looming in the shadows, glowering in turn at Charon and down the tunnel in the direction Fracture seemed to have gone. Psylex and Joe stood side by side, as silent and inscrutable as ever. The OMEN unit towered at the edge of the group, stock-still, with the half-light catching glints from its armor and its arm cannons pointed down the tunnel after Fracture.
Wolf shook himself, fully recovered now, and morphed into his full werewolf form with a snarl. "I can track him," he rumbled thickly, tapping his nose. "Let's go."
"Additional infra-red signature detected," came the OMEN's synthesized voice. Its cannons never wavered. "Tracking confirmed."
Charon shook his head, once, sharply. "No. Too easy... for him to have traps set. Probably wants us. To follow."
"Great," Icelander growled, obviously frustrated. "Then this was all completely pointless. Let's get out of these tunnels."
Not entirely pointless, said the mental voice of Psylex. We have the identity of Fracture now. That's a starting point, at least. We have something to work with.
Icelander glowered at Psylex, then pushed past Charon and crunched his way over the gravel back the way they had come.
"Back to the Tower," Charon said, ignoring Icelander. "Plans to make. I should... be able. To find Knuckles."
His fist spasmed closed around his staff as he said the name.
04-20-2005, 04:23 PM
Frank LaRusso. Fracture. I should've seen it before in Charon's mind, but I was looking in the wrong place. He had thought it was him all along, and he was right. Unfortunately for us, Frank managed to slip past us yet again.
Paige's interest in Charon is weakening her I'm afraid. Normally during a battle so short she would've taken no wounds, but she had let her thoughts of Charon blind her to the fight. She is trying to distinguish herself from the phoenix. This is not good for the Bone Squad, especially not at this time, when the phoenix's powers are needed the most.
During one of our breaks from looking for Fracture, I found Icelander in Catastrophy's room in the tower. It seems he, too, has his mind on other things. Love and it's companions can be beautiful things, but I'm afraid they're not necessary at this time. Unless the entire team can focus on the task at hand, I fear Fracture may win out over the Bone Squad. I pray this will not be the case, as it would be such a sad way for the team to die. For only one man to destroy the entire team. I shall focus myself harder, and pray that each of the other members do as well.
04-20-2005, 04:24 PM
I walked briskly back to the tower, through the damp and muddy tunnel. This had a been a total waste of my time. They had all gotten old and soft over the years, this should have taken a matter of hours not days. I angrily kicked an old rusted out bottle that happened to be in my path out of frustration. I hopped up onto the fixed ladder and quickly climbed up and through the access hatch that brought me to street level.
I didn’t feel like going back to the tower right then. I bent down into a crouch and jumped. This was still my most favorite hobby. I quickly accelerated up past the 15th floor of a nearby building before I started to drop back down some 180 yards from where I was. It was almost like flying, nothing but you and the open air. I landed with a thud, took 5 running steps and leapt into the air again. Finally coming to rest right next to one of the few actual stone Gargoyles left in this town. High above the city, I sat down with my legs dangling over the edge and just looked out at what used to be a great city.
From this high up, it actually looked peaceful and quiet. I wish I could stay up here, it was funny actually. I never just stopped and look at it, sure I had been up on this building before. But I was always resting, or scanning the alleyways or trying to figure out my next move on tracking some fugitive. I never just came up here to……….just look. The Row was actually a very charming place if you ever just looked for awhile.
I tenderly probed my rib cage, it wasn’t as bad as earlier today. In fact the swelling was almost gone, my alien metabolism was already repairing a lot of the damage. By this time tomorrow, there should be no signs that I ever had a broke rib. Same with the gunshot wound, it was all but healed. I sighed and dropped my hands back down to my lap. I wonder if anyone else from my planet found their way here? If they did, were they looking at the same moon I am right now? Or am I the only one to survive, the last trace of my civilization. Will my race die with me? I shook my head and stood up. What was the point? I leapt off the ledge and back into the night.
I quickly arrived back at the tower. I decided to come in through the roof exit, that way I can possibly avoid everyone. To my utter dismay, Sable was also on the roof. Doing what, I can only guess. She is a mystery to me, a mystery that I’d really rather not solve. She stirred and glanced my way as I landed on the roof. As I walked by her going towards the door I heard something. I froze in place and cocked my head, trying to listen more intently.
“What?” Sable asked as she noticed my concentration.
“Don’t you hear it? Sounds like a jet.” I replied.
Then the sound stopped, and the air got cold, even for me. I slowly turned around to see a man in yellow and blue, floating in the air 6 feet above the roof, arms crossed and looking just like the old days.
I stood up straight, put on my patented "look" and acknowledged him.
04-20-2005, 04:24 PM
"Xanatos? The son of a bitch sent Xanatos?"
I still couldn't believe it.
Not less than 3 hours ago I was handed an EYES ONLY file regarding Robert Ian Black, better known as Charon to myself and the people of Paragon City. Most of it was the usual background information that I had seen a hundred times before however the last few pages were new. And what I read there sent me reeling back 20 years.
When the Bone Squad fell apart, it happened fast. Like an avalanche, there were signs that it was coming, however when it gave way, it came like a freight train and was over in mere minutes. That's how nasty that final arguement was. And when it was over, the Squad was gone before the final words stopped echoing through the building.
How could a team that was so close get the hell out of Dodge that quickly still amazed me. Sure we put up a front of being aloof, but that's all it was. A front. The team cared about each other. It just wasn't our style to admit it. To others or to ourselves. How we could cut ties so quickly still hurt. A lot. Teams don't walk away from each other like that. Over something like that. But ours did.
I shook my head to bring my thoughts back to the present.
Old Ghosts never stop haunting us do they? Isn't that the reason why a lot of us...the people that call ourselves "Heroes", do what we do?
Old Ghosts. Bone Squad. Charon. Fracture. Xanatos.
"What in the hell is this all about?" I muttered darkly to myself as I stalked towards the Oval Office. I hardly noticed that the aids, staffers, military personal etc. parted in front of me like the Red Sea before Moses. Seems like this was becoming a habit each time I "talked" with this particular President.
People have said that after a certain point, they can actually "feel" my anger and frustration. On the rare occasion when I lose my cool, the air around me can practically crackle with energy. I've been told that it's an altogether uncomfortable experience. Something that I've used to my advantage a time or two.
Even though I wasn't trying to use the effect this time, the White House staff didn't care. The feeling was the same regardless, so they made haste to get out of my way. I guess the fact that I was in full costume helped put an extra jump in their step as well.
I turned down the final hall to the receiving area before the Oval office still deep in thought. There were other things at play here and I was still trying to figure it all out. Charon may be a killer, but he wasn't THIS killer. Of that I was certain. What Hopkins was trying to accomplish by sending Xan after Charon didn't add up. Sending Xan was like using a Nuke on a terrorist camp. It was excessive use of force. There were many other ways Hopkins could have handled this. Yet he sent his personal Weapon of Mass Destruction.
Again I shook my head.
Hell, he shouldn't have even been involved at all. Since when does capturing a hero killer directly involve the President of the United States? No, it should have came through me first. However Hopkins had his own agenda from jump. He was constantly looking into things that other Presidents didn't concern themselves with. The problem was, no one seemed to question his motives. Or those that did quickly grew quiet. How the man ever got elected President still galled the hell out of me. How blind our Country had become.
And what the hell was Xanatos thinking?
I consider Xan a friend. Hell, we went way back to even before I joined the Bone Squad. We always had our differences in the past, but lately, it had gotten bad. Xan always equated the word of our President's as the word of Right and of Justice. His ideal of being a Patriot was doing whatever the President of the United States asked, regardless of that President's agenda. Because in his mind, how could the President not put the needs of the country first?
For the most part, his faith had been justified. But Hopkins was something else. He was never out for the country, he was only out for himself. And it had become my mission to bring that fact into the light. Being the head of S.H.A.R.D helped put me in a unique position to prove my feeling. And I was close.
However Xanatos would have none of it.
I stepped into the reception area. Mindy Summers, the President's Chief of Staff stepped in front of me before I got to the door.
"ArcLight." She said and looked me up and down.
"And in full costume too. Is there a reason for this un-announced visit?"
I could detect the smugness in her voice but she was irrelevant to me. I had bigger fish to fry.
I remained silent and reached around her for the door...
"The President does NOT take un-announced visitors ArcLight!" she said with all the force she could muster. I was mildly surprised that she actually slapped at my hand as she said it.
"Mindy, I don't care what the President will take at the moment. I don't care if he's got evey leader of the free world in that office with him. Call whoever you like to protest, hell, get on the phone with Crey if you think it will help." I could see her flinch slightly with that one.
"I don't care what you do. But you will get out of my way........I'm the head of S.H.A.R.D and I have business with the President that will not wait. Now....You....Will.....Move!" I said with quiet force, staring her down through my mask. The normally hectic room went deathly quiet.
She cocked her head for a moment as if listening to something. Nodded slightly and then stepped aside. I had already forgotten her as I stepped into the Office. The door shut silently behind me and there stood President Hopkins with his back to me. He was gazing out the window overlooking the Rose Garden.
"You're too late ArcLight" He said without turning around.
"To late?" I replyed through clenched teeth.
"Of course, you're here about this Fracture business. And you're too late. Xanatos should have the situation well in hand by now." He still hadn't turned around to face me.
I scrambled to keep pace with him. How could I have been so stupid? To think that this man wouldn't know how I would react once I discovered that he had sent Xanatos? I was played, but good. And I had no doubt now, that the only reason I obtained that information was because he had allowed it.
To confirm this he added "Did you really think I got to this position by not knowing who I could trust and who was working against me? You're an even bigger fool than I had hoped."
"Did you....you set this all up?" I stammered.
"Set this up? I set up nothing. I just use what's presented to me in whichever way suits me best. This Fracture business offered me the perfect chance to settle an old score, ArcLight. You see I never forget a slight. And your Bone Squad has caused me more than enough problems over the years. Xanatos was merely sent to set things in order." He said as a matter of fact.
"Oh and to bring in a Hero killer of course........Dead or alive." He finally glanced over his shoulder as he added this last part.
I had heard enough. Hopkins plan became crystal clear. It was now a race against time. My God, what irony. The consumate boyscout in Xanatos sent to stop Charon, the man that didn't play by the rules, ever. To stop him, Xan would have to use Charon's tactics. He would have to kill him. And the rest of the Squad if it came down to that.
The part that Hopkins was counting on was that if Xan believed he was in the right, if he believed that Charon had turned, he just might do it. He would risk everything to avenge Charon's perceived betrayal. And knowing Charon, he would never even try and tell his side. Stubborn bastard that he was. Hopkins held all the cards. He didn't care who this Fracture was. Hell, he might even be behind it. To him, it was just another opportunity to take advantage of.
"You didn't send Xan to bring Charon in did you? He was sent to kill him wasn't he?" I demanded.
Hopkins stood in stoney silence.
"Wasn't he you son of a *****! And you think I'm going to stand here and let you get away with that?" I said forcefully and the energy crackled around me.
Finally, President Hopkins turned. His face red with anger.
"You will address me as Mr. President and you WILL know your place!" He thundered, bringing his fists slamming down onto his desk, shattering it into driftwood.
"How DARE you threaten me. Do you think I'm worried about what you THINK you can do? Do you even comprehend how quickly I can have you....." Finally, he seemed to catch himself and regain some of his composure.
He pulled the ends of his suit coat down and smoothed out his tie. "This audience is over ArcLight. Get out."
I knew at any moment the doors would burst open and armed Secret Service Agents would be all over the room.
Quietly I said, "Like so many others, you think that you're above the law. That Justice doesn't apply to you. You think that you're safe here inside your Castle and that you are master over all you survey. Well I'm here to tell you that your castle is just a house of cards Mr. President. And I'm going to burn you down."
I turned to leave, but a few feet from the door, I looked back and said quietly, "You're not the only one with old scores to settle. Tara sends her regards."
A look of confusion crossed Hopkins face as I said that... and it was followed by....was it fear? I'll never know because as if on cue, the doors burst open to a host of pissed off looking Secret Service Agents all pointing their guns at me.
Fully in control again, the President smoothed his coat once more before stating "Everything is fine here men. Stand down."
I strode past the Agents, down the hallways and out of the White House. Once outside I went immediatly to the air. I had to get back to The Row. I had to get home.
I had to get to Xanatos before he got to Charon and the rest of the team. I had to get him to understand that he was being used. Oh who was I kidding? I knew the stakes. And I knew what it meant if it came down to a fight with Xan. My power had grown over the years, but I knew it wasn't enough. Alone there was no way I could stop him. I'm not even sure if the whole team could stop him now. Maybe, just maybe if Sable is on her game....
Either way, if I couldn't convince him that he was wrong about Charon, or if I was already too late, then it was going to get real ugly.
And it was going to hurt. God I hope Sable is with him. And that she has her head on straight....
04-20-2005, 04:25 PM
Xanatos floated over the top of the tower, and looked down. His arms were crossed across his chest, and his face was fully resolved. He was not here to play games, this time. This time, he was no damn boy scout. Charon had crossed a line. He had killed a member of the Defenders, and now he was going to be brought to justice, and he was going to be brought to justice in anyway possible. Xanatos looked down at the Bone Squad members on the roof.
"I suggest you get out of my way. My quarrel is not with you. I am here for Charon. He will be brought to justice for his crimes." Xanatos said, trying to stare down Icelander, who was giving him the most evil look that the cold hearted bastard could muster. Sable and Icelander stood firm, side by side, looking at the man that floated above them. He hadn't changed a bit, still dressed in his yellow and blue, still a boy scout, whether he wanted to show it this time or not, and still always believing he was right.
"Oh yeah? You're going to have to get through me first, mate." Makis said, as he burst onto the roof, and loaded an old looking shotgun he had in his hands, that he had obviously found in his old weapons locker somewhere in the warehouse.
"And me." Icelander said, as his hands began to glow blood red. Sable didn't even have to say a word, her whole body ignighted with flame, and an orange glaze covered her eyes, as she said, in a very deep voice:
"You will not touch the human."
At that point, Charon walked out onto the roof.
"What do you want?" Charon asked Xanatos.
"You have crossed a line. Heroes are dead. You will be brought to justice. For murder."
"Didn't kill any hero." Charon said, without a flinch of emotion.
"Don't lie to me Charon. I know what you have done. We can do this the easy way..." Xanatos said.
"No easy way." Charon cut him off. Xanatos did not look impressed. "Come down here." Charon said, coldly. Suprisingly, Xanatos did what he was asked, and landed on the roof of the tower, a few feet infront of Charon.
"Listen, friend," Xanatos started.
"Not your friend."
"Listen to me! I know you can't be in your right state of mind... Just come along, we can sort this out." Xanatos said, softly.
"Can't go anywhere. Can't stop. Can't stop til it's over."
"Damn it Charon! Will you ever stop this endless crusade?! You're killing yourself! You've been killing criminals for years, and now heroes. She's dead Robert! She's been dead for 35 years!" Xanatos screamed into Charon's face. Charon stood firm in his position on the roof for a good five seconds, or so Sable Phoenix counted it, before she flinched, she knew what was coming next.
The fist connected with Xanatos' jaw at incredible speed. Something cracked beneath the mask, and Xanatos was thrown back by the left hook that hit him in the face, but managed to stay on his feet. As soon as he'd steadied himself, he launched himself back into the air, and said, in his best broken-jaw-heroic voice, as the rest of the Bone Squad rushed onto the roof...
"Then you leave me with no choice."
04-20-2005, 04:25 PM
As she rose off the roof to interpose herself between Xanatos and the rest of the Bone Squad, Paige felt an emotion she had almost forgotten entirely. Fear. The stark, cloying type of fear that clamped her stomach and pulled it halfway up into her throat.
The Bone Squad stood almost no chance against Xanatos. The power he wielded was a danger even to her. She would have been a fool not to realize it.
He might even have the ability to kill her.
That she could probably do the same to him was no comfort at all.
Some of her happiest memories, when she had still held to the pretense of a normal life, were those spent with the restored family of Xanatos and Victoria and their daughter Gwendolyn. Victoria, the Green Knight, had probably been Paige's most empathetic friend in those dark years before she had accepted her role as the phoenix's envoy. Paige had hardly dared hope it would ever happen, but it had been like a fairy tale come true when Xanatos and the Green Knight had finally dealt with their problems -- well, most of them at least -- and settled down into a happy marriage.
Paige would never be able to face Vic again if she had to harm Xanatos here. But she knew he would harm Charon only over her corpse.
Even as she hovered into position she was running over the half-remembered words of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, positioning herself slightly lower than Xanatos, in a defensive posture where he could not go around to the rest of the Bone Squad easily, readying herself but determined to wait for him to make the first move. The attacker was always at a disadvantage.
"Xanatos... old friend," she said, the eagle coloring her voice, "If only for Vic's sake, and Gwen's... I don't want to do this--"
She prepared herself mentally as she spoke, her stomach tightening in apprehension. She was about to do something she had never done. She had no idea if she could undo it. Was the sacrifice worth it? To save Charon? To save the Bone Squad?
The answer required hardly any consideration at all.
She paused in her sentence and drew a deep breath... and dropped all her barriers, all her inhibitions, opening herself completely to the phoenix.
With an exultant scream the phoenix dove at her and devoured her in its fiery embrace. She threw her head back, straining, as the flame around her erupted into a blinding, roaring inferno, boiling out and expanding into the form of a gigantic bird, its wings stretching nearly fifty feet from tip to tip, completely obscuring the Bone Squad from Xanatos' vantage.
The Sable Phoenix brought her head back down to look at Xanatos with eyes that blazed like miniature golden stars. "-- but we will not allow you to harm Charon or the Bone Squad," she continued, her voice ringing so heavily with the eagle's scream that it was nearly unrecognizable. "Depart this place, herald, if you wish to escape our wrath."
04-20-2005, 04:26 PM
Right after Sable completed her transformation, and right before each side was to launch an attack on the other, they froze again at the sound of metal clinging against metal. Charon, Xanatos, and the rest looked to see Joe came from no where, banging his pistol against the tower to get everyone's attention. He had someone with him, and an irratic look on his face.
Joe leaned the girl back, to let a gust of wind blow her hair away from her face. It was Gwen, Xanatos' only daughter, bound, gagged, and hands tied up, with a tiny hole no one could see on her neck where a tranquilizer dart struck. He looked back at Xanatos with a grave expression on his face as he put his gun to her head.
It was child's play for him to find her, and break into her home. Living alone in her mid twenties. He'd found her location as soon as all this had started. He needed to know where she was for when Xanatos inevitably arrived. He needed to be able to find her quick, and fast. She was one of the only things he knew would stop Xanatos in his tracks when he arrived.
Even if Charon went to jail, she would die. And so would Joe when all of Xanato's allies finally got him. They were his allies too, but when they sold themselves to Hopkins, and he was disgusted with all of them. Joe was no longer running away from death, and was ready to do what he has to do.
04-20-2005, 04:27 PM
Xanatos's heart stopped. How could it have come this far? They had been his comrades, his allies, and even at one point his friends. Any doubt that was lingering in the back of the golden aged heroes mind quickly subsided when Gwendolyn was brought onto the rooftop. The mere image of her bound and gagged caused the temperature around Xanatos to drop about a hundred degrees. They had harmed Gwen, they would pay.. The BoneSquad had made their choice. There would be no quarter given.
Xan turned to face Joe, his one time informant, and his blood boiled anew. Their eyes met for an instant - before Joe's pupils dilated and he let out a deep guttural groan. Gwendolyn breathed out sharply as Joe's body went ice cold. Gwen fell forwards and landed on the concrete surface of the roof, she ripped apart the now frozen ropes that once bound her, and began to run as fast as she could away from her father. Joe remained stock-still - even his chest did not move to account for his breathing. Xanatos had frozen every water molecule in his body.
"You dare assault one of our own..." said Sable, now completely overcome with the Phoenix. At another time Xanatos would have pitied her. Now he loathed her every word.
In the blink of an eye Xanatos plummeted downwards - both hands extended forwards - his entire body encased in his icy aura. He connected with Sable and continued to plummet towards the tower. They made impact, the sound of Makis's gun drowned out by the raging elements that plowed downwards through the tower, smashing through each floor as Xan pushed Sable beyond her limits. A loud bang was heard as they struck the ground - and as quickly as it had started, it stopped. An uneasy silence filled the air.
"D'ya reckon he's..." began Wolf before he was cutoff by Makis.
"EVERYBODY - MOVE!" screamed the gunslinger as he leapt from the tower.
Makis had moved just in time, for as he did so - the top section of the tower exploded outwards violently. Sending many of the assembled heroes plumeting onto the factory rooftop below. Psylex was the first to his feet - trying his hardest to slow his allies descent. To his credit Psylex managed to stop Icelander and Charon. Wolf wasn't so lucky - he plummeted downards, through the factory roof - and into one of the many large steel vats that held all sorts of nasty toxins. Charon landed gracefully beside Psylex - his eyes never leaving the iy Blizzard that surrounded Xanatos. The entire night sky of the row was covered with a hazy blizzard, and Xanatos was hovering above the destroyed tower, his cold white eyes bearing down onto the last member of the BoneSquad left atop the now ruined tower. Makis.
To his credit makis dodged many attacks. But insight can only go so far - and it was not long before the world leading gun katarian plummeted from the tower. Landing in a nearby dumpster, his mind enveloped in darkness.
Now Xanatos looked towards the last three member of the BoneSquad left standing. Icelander, Charon, and Psylex. Xan's eyes burned black as he spread his arms outwards creating a large ice beam that plummeted downwards at a speed rivaling most modern weaponry. Charon has seen the move used only once before - he threw himself forwards, narrowly avoiding the beam. Icelander and Psylex weren't so lucky. They were both hit squarely in the chest with a force equalling a freight train. Like rag dolls they were both thrown back two hundred yards, they rolled for another fifty yards before coming to a halt. Neither one of them moving.
Xanatos flew down to the now heavily damaged factory rooftop. His golden boots touched down - each foot causing an ice patch to extend from the hero. His eyes were now a deathly white. And his voice echoed with a malice Charon had never heard before.
"Robert, you were once my ally. Now you are nothing more to me then the last blemish from a past I'd rather forget. You were wrong to involve Gwen; I know you would have killed her. And I cannot allow that to happen to my daughter...ever." Xanatos paused before delivering the next bit, Charon had pulled himself to his feet and was now charging full pelt towards the hero, "And while you are till breathing that threat remains. I am sorry Robert - I did not want it to come to this."
Charon had reached Xanatos by this point, his fist shot out, connecting with Xanatos's stomach in an instant. And it was the instant their bodies connected that Charon knew he was doomed. Xanatos had turned his body down to absolute zero, a measurement where even flame itself freezes. They say that even time itself slows when subjected to absolute zero, but all of this mattered little to Charon. For as his fist connected his entire body froze stiff.
Xanatos let out a sigh as he placed both his hands around the scruff of Charon’s neck, establishing a firm hold for what he was about to do. Glancing upwards towards the heavens, Xanatos let out a silent prayer for what he was about to do. The fiery Ice aura began to dance around the golden age defender even more as his gaze fell back to the vigilante hero he know held in his vice-like grip. It would all be over - soon. And then everyone would be safe again. Just like it had been after the great Rikti wipeout.
With speeds equaling a Concorde, Xanatos pelted upwards, his eyes again fixed towards the heavens, Charon still in his vice-like grip. Together they flew upwards, in a situation Xanatos would never have imagined in his wildest dreams. Here was Robert Ian Black - a man who had once been his friend - but now was nothing more then a murderer. He was a threat to Gwen, and for Xanatos, that was good enough reason as any. Eventually the two of them came close to breaking the atmosphere. The air was so thin it would be almost impossible to breath, but Xanatos did not need to.
With one last glance at the - now semi conscious and defrosted - hero in his arms. Xanatos let out a sigh before uttering one final sentence:
"Justice be done"
And with that, he dropped Charon.
04-20-2005, 04:28 PM
I let Charon fall.
Xanatos seemed to be in his own world after dropping him, but I couldn't take the chance of catching Charon too close to the Defender. If I alerted Xan to my presense to soon, then he was going to do to me what he had just done to my former team. And it would all be over.
I wasn't afraid of dying. Even though what I had just seen had completly stunned me. I knew of Xan's power. But I had never seen him unleash it like that. With such......ruthlessness.
2 minutes? That's about how long it took him to practically dismantle the Bone Squad. My hope had been with Sable, but once I saw Joe holding Gwen, I knew that a terrible situation had just turned into the mother of very bad things.
Seeing her being held like that, with a gun to her head, seemed to remove any hesitation Xan might have still had. My God but he was fast. And he was viscous. As viscous as any Arch Villian I had ever faced. So for one of the few times in my life, I hesitated. And in that hesitation, we were lost. In my head, it was Parker's farmhouse all over again. And people I cared about died once more because of my inaction.
The old guilt flared up again as I fell with Charon. Like a Banished Pantheon zombie, it pulled itself out of it's grave and shambled it's way through my head....and through my heart.
"This is all your fault." it whispered.
"You should have done something, but now they are all dead because you didn't act." it insisted.
The guilt zombie raged and gnashed at me. And I thought how easy it would be to let this fall end with the ground. No more guilt. No more doubt. No more pain. However Tara wouldn't let me go. As usual in my times of need, she rose up in my thoughts, and shone a light through my personal darkness.
It was the feeling, that she would be dissapointed in me if I gave up, that helped me shove the zombie back into it's grave. Even though she had been dead all these years, she still held sway over me. It was because of my love for her that I do what I do. And I couldn't let her down again.
I had arrived in time to see the Phoenix flare up, and to see Joe holding Gwen.....what in the hell had Joe been thinking? How could he not know what Xanatos's reaction would be to seeing his daughter like that? It was his job to know damnit! And how did he figure out that Xanatos would be coming and when?
All I could figure was that Hopkin's would leave nothing to chance. The information Joe had to think he was finding out on his own, was actually being given to him. By Hopkin's. And now the cost of using that information may have been Joe's own life.
These thoughts raged though my head in seconds, while Charon fell away from Xan.
And I followed him down. When I could no longer see Xanatos above me, I matched Charons descent and caught him. His body was limp in my arms and cold as ice. I couldn't tell if he was breathing without stopping our fall, and to do that, would take up more time than we had. So I dove toward what was left of the Tower with all the speed I could muster. I knew I had to get him down to Sable if he was going to have any chance. If Sable was still among the living that is. If any of them were....
The tower came into view quickly has I hurtled towards it. Or rather, what was left of the tower. Our former HQ now looked like a war zone. The hole in the roof where Xan and Sable crashed through was huge, and the whole building, never in the best of shape, looked like it could go over at any moment. Nevertheless, I flew with Charon through the hole and landed on the ground as soflty as I could. The quiet had an almost church like feel to it.
"Sable?" I called out.
A low growl from behind me answered my question. I turned and came face to chest with Wolf. He fur glistened with some form of wetness, his claws were popped and his posture oozed pure aggression. My relief at seeing him alive quickly turned nervousness as I saw this. I couldn't defend myself holding Charon like I was, all I could do was stand as still as I could and pray that he picked up mine or Charon's scent before he attacked.
"Wolf" I whispered. "It's Arc. Don't you remember me?"
His yellow eye's looked us over. I could see the murder in them, and I could sense the animal raging behind them, trying to take control. To maim, to kill, to HUNT.
"We need Sable, Wolf." I looked down at my former leader lying in my arms. "Charon needs her."
His huge head bent down and sniffed us. I held my breath. After a few seconds, that seemed like hours, his head pulled back and he cocked it at us. Contemplating us. Then, with a visible effort, Wolf, the man, spoke.
"Xanatos?" he growled.
My tension let go. Our Wolf was back. "He'll be coming soon." I replied. "Where is Sable, Wolf? We don't have much time."
I set Charon down. And quickly looked him over. He was still breathing, but just barely. It was ragged and slow and I had a feeling that if I couldn't find Sable soon, we were going to lose him.
"She's over there." he rasped. Nodding his head off to our right. "Not pretty."
"Watch over Charon" I said before flying off in the direction he nodded.
I didn't have to go far before I found her. I'm not sure what I noticed first, the large trail of blood leading away from the original point of impact, or the fire that raged around her body as she lay on the floor 15 feet away. As I got closer, I saw that her body was healing itself beneath the flames. I had seen this "healing" from her many times before and I was counting on the fact that the Phoenix could heal other's as well as herself.
I said a brief prayer of thanks as I watched her body mend itself. Sable was alive and that meant we still had a fighting chance. A plan had been quickly forming in my head, and Sable was the key to making it happen. If she had been taken out by Xanatos, then this was already over.
However, seeing her alive gave me hope that my plan just may work. If I could hold up my end that is. If I was strong enough to do what I knew I needed to do.
Suddenly Sables eyes flew open, startling me out of my thoughts. She literally BURST off the floor and into the air knocking me back several feet. The flames still danced around her body as the Phoenix spoke.
"Where is the Herald?" she demanded.
"Sable, it's ArcLight. Charon is hurt badly. He's dying Sable, along with the rest of the team. I....WE need your help." I responded
"The Herald must answer for this attack upon us! He will not escape our vengence!" The Phoenix raged.
There didn't seem to be anything left of Paige inside the Phoenix. The part of Sable Phoenix that was human, the part that was my teammate, my friend all those years ago, finally seemed to have been erased, or pushed so far back that it wasn't visible. What hovered above my head now was an angry god. And I felt the new found hope die in my chest.
"Sable.....Paige...." I began.
As I spoke her name, the Phoenix's eyes slowly looked down and burned into me. At that moment I felt like my soul was laid bare to her and I faltered for a second.
I had never called her Paige before. Hell, I didn't even know that was her name until a few years ago. It was information she didn't know I had, and I hoped that by calling her by her real name, I could get past the Phoenix for a moment and have her actually listen to me.
"If you leave to fight Xanatos now, alone, you may win and have your vengence. But what if you lose? Is it worth any cost to face him alone? Is it worth all our lives? Is it worth Charon's life? I asked after regaining some semblence of composure.
Her gaze left me and looked over my shoulder to Wolf kneeling over the inert body of Charon.
"He's still alive Paige. But only you can keep him that way. If you go now, then he will die. Win or lose, he will still die Paige. I don't want you to have to live with that. And if the Phoenix cares anything at all about you, it won't allow that to happen." I finished.
04-20-2005, 04:29 PM
The flames brightned around Sable to the point where I couldn't see her at all through the fire. I actually had to take several more steps away from her due to the heat she was generating. I couldn't tell if I had gotten through to her or not. All I knew was that if she left now, Charon and maybe the others that were still breathing, would die.
Finally, the flames around her died and she landed beside me.
"Bring me all that still yet live. I will tend to Charon" The Phoenix ordered.
I couldn't detect a bit of the Sable I knew in that voice. It was purely alien to me.
"Be quick about it!" She thundered at me.
She didn't need to tell me twice, I flew out of the tower to where I saw Ice and Psylex land. I didn't hold out much hope after seeing the hit they took but I had to look. I found them lying together, Psylex was already gone, but Ice groaned when I pushed Psylex's body away. What I thought was Xan's ice around his body was actually his own. It looked like he managed to throw up an Ice shield to help deflect Xan's shot. All I knew was that whatever he did had managed to save his life.
As I picked him up in my arms his eyes fluttered open and he looked at me.
"Bout.......damntime.......you........showed....... up." He wheezed.
"Save your strength bro, I have to get you to Sable." I answered back to him.
"Don't.....need.......help. I.....can.....makeit.....on........myown." He answered defiantly before passing out again.
I had to smile to myself even among the carnage of my former team. Ice always was a tough bastard. I flew him back to Sable, Charon and Wolf. I lowered him gently next to Charon and flew off again.
"Have to check on Makis" I called back as I passed through the hole.
He had landed in a dumpster after giving Xan a decent chase. I counted on his insight to allow him to avoid most of Xan's attack. Lord knows the man had avoided hundreds of deaths by using that ability. And he had saved us more times that I wanted to count the same way. My hunch was correct as he was actually pulling himself out of the dumpster when I landed beside it.
"ArcLight?" He asked.
"It's me Makis, how are you feeling?" I replied.
"Like I got run over by a truck.....all busted up inside..." he answered. And as if to confirm this, a coughing fit racked his body, blood spilling from his mouth and nose.
"Let me get you to Sable." I said as I picked him up and launched into the air.
"The team...." he questioned when he could talk again.
"Bad shape, but we'll see...." I answered shortly. As I got over the hole and was preparing to fly us through I saw Joe's body on what was left of the roof. It was clear that he was gone and I didn't feel the need to fly close to confirm. In my experience, bodies don't lay like that when there is any life left in them.
I closed my eyes for a moment and then dropped us through the hole. I had a feeling that our time was running short. I set Makis down next to Ice and Charon, then stepped back so Sable could do her work.
"The rest?" Wolf growled at me. I just shook my head at him and the huge man wolf dropped his head to his chest.
I watched as Sable knelt down between my three wounded teammates. She spread her arms out so they hovered over their bodies. Her head hung down.....slowly, flame licked down from her hands and flowed like water over them. The fire danced around them, over them, IN them. Healing them inside and out. She stayed longest over Charon, tenderly running her hands over his chest as the fire did it work. I wasn't certain, but it looked like tears fell off her face onto Charon's mask as she healed him.
"Robert will.......They will all live." she announced when the fire died, still staring down at Charon.
Ice and Makis both sat up, looking stunned. "That's the second time you've saved my life Sable." Makis whispered to her. Sable only gave a slight nod in response.
Ice looked like he didn't know what to say. Finally he ended up getting out a short "Thanks" before walking a few feet away. His back to us, seeming to be lost in thought. Charon still hadn't moved, but I could see his breathing now seemed deep and normal.
I let out a breath that I seemed to be holding for the past 5 minutes. Now comes the hard part I thought as I walked up to Sable.
"A moment please." I said to her. She turned and faced me and we walked a few feet away so we could talk in private.
"I have a plan" I said. Waiting for a response from her. When I got nothing but that firey gaze, I continued.
"Xanatos is too strong for us to face alone. He has to be knocked down a notch or two to make things a little more even..."
Sable snorted at me. "We require no help in defeating the Herald. We know his power now, this time we are ready for him."
"Are you 100% sure about that Sable?" I began.
"Because if you lose again, there will be no second chances. He will finish what he started and we will all die this time!" I continued.
"Convince me Sable. Tell me you know for a fact that you'll beat him. Tell me that you've never lost before. TELL ME!" I demanded. Surprising myself in the process. I mean this was practically a god I was talking with and one didn't make demands of god's and expect to like the response.
She remaind silent for a moment but the fire practically danced in her eyes. I basically stood there and waited for her to kill me.
"What do you purpose?" she finally asked.
So I let out a ragged breath and told her my plan. When I was finished, she nodded at me. "We will do what you ask mortal." As she turned to walk away, I ventured one more thing.
"Sable..." She stopped and looked back at me over her shoulder. "What I'm about to do, I do because I care. About you and about my friends. We've been apart for the better part of 20 years, but I still care about you.....about all of you. Very much....." I wasn't quite sure where I was going with this.
"Paige once told me that the Phoenix was like an Angel. And that you were here to fight some great evil...something that hadn't yet shown itself........I.....compassion is a good thing you know? If....if you are an Angel....it doesn't have to be either you or her. You are so powerful, but you're tied to a human woman....she has needs and emotions." I stopped, then started again.
"Maybe you were put in her to learn that? To be you....to do your "job" doesn't mean that she can't be her too, does it.? Xanatos used his emotion to beat you once. Let her help you next time......." I still wasn't sure what I was trying to say, all I knew was that Sable,....Paige had sacrificed her normal life for the supposed "greater good." She had hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. Why should she be denied any happiness because she let an Angel take up residence in her body? Wasn't an Angel supposed to look out for us? Not control us?
"I can't get into words exactly what I'm trying to say Sable....just take care of him......them, and her for me. Ok?" She didn't answer me, hell, I didn't know if I had even made one lick of sense, but I had to say something to her. I didn't have any more chances.
"Make yourself ready. We go to issue our challenge." she finally said. And then lept into the sky, stopping to hover about 150 feet above the ruined tower.
I sighed deeply. "Great." I said to myself and then went to Ice and took off my utility belt. I handed it over to him. "What's this all about?" he asked me.
"In that belt is all the information I have on....well everything I've been working on all these years. Hopkins, Crey...the works. And there's proof in there that Xan is mistaken. This was all just a set up and he fell for it." I answered.
"Set up? Xan attacks us....kills us over a lie? All this is a mistake? What in the hell is going on God damnit?!!?" He yelled.
"It's all there Ice. When this is over, you have to promise me that you use that. Make Xan understand what's going on and then make everyone else see." I answered as calmly as I could.
"See? See what?" He asked, still confused.
Pulling my best Charon, I answered. "When it's over. Get ready, Xan is coming back. Follow Sables lead..." I felt warmth on my back, and the interior of our shattered HQ suddenly lit up as if the sun were right outside. I turned and shaded my eyes. It wasn't the sun, but it was close.
Above the tower, the Phoenix took flight. Sable was the heart of a huge flaming bird. It was 50 feet, at least, from wing tip to flaming wing tip. Suddenly she screamed her challenge. The sound was deafening and windows shattered for blocks in the Row.
"XANATOS! YOU HAVE UNJUSTLY HARMED THOSE THAT ARE IN MY CHARGE. WE ARE NOT FINISHED YET. FACE MY WRATH!" she thundered.
Seconds passed and then as quick as it appeared, Phoenix effect died away. Sable landed among us a few moments later.
"He is coming" She announced.
No sooner had she finished speaking as the temperture began to drop. Quickly. Xanatos was on his way back, and coming fast. Sable stood in the middle of us looking up to the sky. The flame began to dance around her again. Icelander had his head bowed, the ice forming up around his hands. Makis was locked and loaded. And Wolf lept up into the rafters of the tower, to be closer to the opening...closer to where Xanatos was going to be. Charon was still lying unconsious behind Sable, we didn't have time to move him.
For the past few minutes, I had been building up all of my energy, holding it....storing it, getting it to the breaking point. I had one shot at what I planned to do. I had done it before, however never to the extent I planned on now. To be honest, I wasn't sure how much I could take, or how much would be left of me when it was over. Xanatos was too strong. I worried that he was even too strong for Sable at the moment, so I had to give her....them an edge. And I had only one way to do it.
I was pretty damn powerful in my own right, my ability to harness energy had grown ever since the day I "aquired" my powers. But I wasn't in their league. I would never kid myself about that. I couldn't go toe to toe with Xanatos. However, I thought I could get one shot in. And it had to be with everything I had. I had used this power at other times, but never to the extreme that I planned on now. After those times, I was left so weak that I could hardly move. It always felt like everything was being ripped from me when I let it loose. This time, I felt that everything really just might. But it was a risk I was going to take. For my friends deserved nothing less. After all these years, I owed them that. I owed Tara and David and everyone else. Here was my chance to come clean.
That I was going to do this against a former friend mattered not. Xan had crossed the line a long time ago. When he started taking orders from Hopkins, he crossed. Then when he killed my teammates on Hopkins word, he fell off my radar. Now all he was was just another asshole that needed to be stopped. And damnit if we weren't the ones to kick his self rightous ass.
The Phoenix flared to life again, bringing me back to the moment. I was almost ready. God but it hurt....the energy wanting, needing, a release. It raced through my body, demanding to be let out. Maybe for a brief instant I finally knew how Sable felt.
Suddenly her voice rang out. "He is here."
I looked over at her just as she let loose with a huge ball of fire that shot through the opening in the ceiling only to be met with an equal beam of ice.
"Let's finish this!" I heard Xanatos demand from the sky as more ice bolts blew through the celing. Wolf lept from rafter to rafter staying just barely out of the way, yet never leaving the general area of the opening. Like all of us, he was waiting for his shot.
"As you wish, Herald!" The Phoenix screamed in answer.
Sable launched herself off the ground the Phoenix effect exploding around her as she cleared the opening. The battle was amazing. Beams of fire and ice collided, negating each other. The Phoenix had grown so large that we could no longer see Xanatos and he could no longer see us. And as I looked up at her I was struck at how beautiful she was, and how terrible.
Makis was looking through the scope of his sniper rifle, hoping for a shot. Ice was ready beside him, looking for the same.
"Wait for it.." I gritted out to Ice and Makis. "You'll get your chance."
Ice just nodded at me. I think maybe he had an idea on what I was going to try and do. A bluish aura had started to form around me as the energy build up looked for release. It was a living thing inside me now, I couldn't hold it back much longer.
"Say when Makis." I whispered. For I knew that Makis would see the opening before any of us. Only he wouldn't think it was an opening, he would see it as our deaths.
As if on cue, he took his eye away from the rifle sight and said "Oh my God...."
I didn't wait for the rest, I launched myself into the air with everything I had. I blew past Sable and through the fire of the Phoenix. Xanatos was 100 feet above her, preparing to let loose with God knew what now. The Phoenix screamed her challenge at him and I echoed with a shout of my own. Xanatos wasn't ready for me and I landed a mid air tackle on him that tumbled us through the sky.
Sable held her fire as we had planned.
"ArcLight?" he gasped out. "What the hell are you doing?"
"What am I doing? What are you doing Xanatos? Killing heroes now? Killing your FRIENDS! Are you that blind?" I yelled in his face.
"They are the hero killers! They were going to kill Gwen!" He raged back at me, tossing me away from him as if I were nothing.
"Everything I do here today is because THEY brought it on themselves. They turned and I'm here to put an end to it! And they will NEVER HARM MY DAUGHTER!" He shouted and the temperture around us dropped quickly.
I launched myself back at him and we locked hands in a twisted mid air dance. Xanatos power fused our grip together in layers of ice. He was so damn strong, and he continued to rapidly drop the temperture around us. My breathing became and effort, and it was beyond cold. I had run out of time. My plan was over and I was going to fail them again. Darkness closed over me.
I saw her then out of the corner of my eye and knew her instantly. She stood in mid air directly behind Xanatos and smiled at me. "Time to do what you came to do don't you think?" She said to me. "Time to finish this."
I opened my eyes again and locked gazes with Xan. I could see the surprise flash though him. "You are worse than any of the villians we've faced together Xan. Because you're supposed to be a hero. You're supposed to be better. Instead you sold your soul to the devil. The sad part is you just don't know it yet." I whispered at him.
He relented just a bit. "What are you babbling about?" He hissed back at me.
"Everything that happened here today happened because of you. Your daughter was brought into this because of you. There are dead members of my team down there and it's....All....your....FAULT! " I screamed and the energy flared around me.
"When this is done, and you finally see the truth, only you will have to live with your actions. God help you Xan. You self rightous son of a *****! Here's your Justice. Bone Squad style"
And with that, I went Nova.
The pain was so intense that I was sure I was going to go insane because of it. And then it was over and I felt like I was falling away from myself. Darkness rushed towards me with grasping fingers. But before it reached me, she stepped in front of it. The blue white light that surrounded her was almost as beautiful as she was. And the smile she graced me with broke my heart.
"Hello Tara" I whispered through cracked lips.
She reached her hand out to me, but I hesitated to grasp it. Everything in me wanted to hold her hand and let her lead me wherever she wanted, but I held back.
"They will be ok, Jim" she seemed to say in my head.
Still I held back.
"Baby, take my hand."
I looked past her into the darkness and saw another light burning there. This one flared brightly in the shape of an eagle and was red-orange in color.
An old rhyme popped into my head, and I changed it to fit my need.
"Phoenix, Phoenix burning bright...." I thought.
I looked back at Tara. My heart. My love. My redemption.
And I reached out my hand to her...
04-20-2005, 04:29 PM
The blazing blue-white inferno of pure energy roared outward from ArcLight and Xanatos like the cloud from an atomic bomb, lighting the buildings of Row with yet another miniature sun. Any windows in the zone that had remained intact until now burst with the shockwave. The forcefield of the War Wall closest to the Garment Works flared and rippled under the assault.
And then, suddenly, without any lingering or residue, the phantasmal energy flickered and was gone. And the two figures at the epicenter were tumbling, falling. Falling directly towards the Sable Phoenix, trailing smoke as they did so.
The Sable Phoenix blazed upwards to meet them. At the heart of the great bird of flame, Paige reached desperately out to meet ArcLight. The psychic sensitivites of the phoenix that she had picked up only vaguely before she had opened to it now saw every living thing as clearly as her own physical eyes.
She felt ArcLight fade and slip away.
Her heart ached with grief, but her vast immortal perspective knew that what he had done had been necessary. More urgent concerns were at hand.
She let the drained husk fall.
Even after the massive blast, Xanatos was merely stunned. As she neared him he was managing a staggering midair recovery, slowing his ragged spiral and regaining a semblance of control.
Below her she felt the team -- or what was left of it. Felt their tense readiness, their impatience, their rage; felt even the OMEN unit, in its pale electronic mimicry of life, as it clawed its way into the open and out of the basement -- the only place with enough space to hold it easily -- where the bulk of the debris had collapsed on top of it. She felt Charon stirring back to consciousness.
They depended upon her now for their very lives.
ArcLight's sacrifice gave her the chance she needed. Failure was not an option. No matter the cost.
She met Xanatos in the air just as he halted his fall, shining in the midst of his own miniature blizzard. The flaming bird that was the physical manifestation of the phoenix swept out its promethean talons and grasped the herald of Galarius, engulfing him.
Ice formed about Xanatos, springing forth and growing in crystaline fractals, him only to be devoured the next instant. Vast clouds of steam boiled off of his very skin as he charged at her through the flame. Although they were matched in raw power, he was far stronger than Paige physically, and they both knew it. He sought to use that to his advantage. The phoenix's regenerative powers would allow Paige to recover from almost any damage... but not indefinitely. She had to end it quickly.
He slammed into her like a freight train, his frigid hands grasping at her neck, driving her downards, plummeting once again towards the ruin of the Tower. Her own hands siezed his arms with a sizzling his s as the stench of burning surrounded the them. No words passed between the two as they dropped from the sky like a meteor. This was mortal conflict, and each was focused only on the destruction of the other.
She had counted on this predictability. He was exactly where she wanted him.
The flame of the phoenix was a supernatural force. It could mimic purely physical flame and burn what it touched, but it could do much more. Paige felt Xanatos through the flame, felt him as she had felt the Bone Squad when she healed them, reaching into them and stoking the flames of their lives with her own. She reached into Xanatos now, feeling the fires of his existence, feeling her own flame coursing into his body.
And she ignited him.
Xanatos roared in agony as the celestial flame blazed through him, and their fall slowed slightly, but he did not release his grip on Paige's neck. The Sable Phoenix bent her will on him, preparing to burn him into nothing more than a charred shell.
The thought flashed through her mind unbidden, an image of the Green Knight's smiling face, a memory of a beautiful time spent at the home of her best friend, laughing with Xanatos, playing with little Gwendolyn...
The Sable Phoenix faltered, hesitated.
The next instant the two slammed into the remains of the Tower's roof with the force of a cannon shell, sending debris flying hundreds of feet into the air. Paige felt her skull fracture, her collarbone snap, her shoulder blades shatter, her spine crush under the impact as they drove through two floors and smashed to a stop on the third.
It was nowhere near as bad as the first time.
She lay inert as Xanatos' hands strained to crush the life out of her, feeling the healing flames of the phoenix blaze within, feeling the bones shift and reknit. The great flaming bird still blazed around them, and steam poured from the avatars of fire and ice, filling the shell of the Tower with a dense fog.
Although physical vision was soon totally obscured, the Sable Phoenix felt them approach, scrambling down from the top of the tower. Consciously she extinguished the phoenix' blaze, and the flames roiled and flowed back into her like water, plunging the interior of the Tower into darkness.
Xanatos was still oblivious, focused entirely on her. She forced her head up against his grasp to meet his blank white eyes with her flaming golden ones, and a gutteral laugh bubbled from her throat. "We nearly regret leaving you to their tender mercies," she rasped.
Xanatos seemed momentarily taken aback, unsure what she referred to. Behind him, shadows moved silently in the fog.
The next instant Wolf leapt from the mist, teeth bared in a rumbling, blood-curdling snarl.
04-20-2005, 04:30 PM
Brilliant blue light, it lit up the night sky like lightning. I squinted my eyes and raised my hands to block the impossibly bright, blinding light. The light rolled out in waves, beautiful beyond words. Strong gusts of wind blew past me as the shockwave reached me. Then the light slowly faded away, dimming the night sky once again. I lowered my hands and peered back up into the sky.
I saw two bodies falling, one I could make out to be Xanatos. He was slowing his decent, obviously disoriented, the other looked to be limp. My breath caught in my chest, it shouldn’t have been a surprise really. I could tell what he was doing even before he launched into the air. I had only seen him do something like that one other time and it was nothing like what had just happened. He never expected to make it, he knew he wouldn’t survive that kind of blast. Suddenly I grew angry with him. He could be so stubborn, even more so than me. Surely there had to be another way. I looked down at the utility belt he gave me and slowly shook my head. I clutched his belt tightly in my hands as I thought of what he had said to me earlier.
I quickly unbuckled my own utility belt and let it fall to the ground. I replaced it with his. He had fallen about a 100 yards from here. I had to check, had to be sure. I lept from the tower and soared through the air. I landed silently in a heap of rubble. There was a small impact crater about five feet deep, smoke was steadily rising from the depths. I slowly approached him. The smoke parted like curtains as if this were some kind of stage show. Arclight lied in the center of the hollow crater, smoke slowly rising from his body. I hopped down into the shallow hole and knelt beside him.
I lowered my hand to his forehead and looked to the sky. I stripped off my mask, and did something I hadn’t done in a long, long time. I spoke in my native tongue. I recited a mourning prayer, something that is only done for family back on my planet. As if on cue, I felt droplets of rain splash my face, as if to cleanse me of grief and to wash him away from this world and usher him into the next. I finished the ritual and slumped down beside him, resting on a rock.
After a few moments, I slowly stood up and glanced to the sky. With a frown, I slipped my mask back on. I heard a deep painful scream from up above. Out of the smoke filled sky, a ball of fire shot down and slammed through the remains of the tower. Through the whole in the tower I could see a blazing fire, then it slowly dimmed and tower went dark.
I glanced away and bowed my head. I needed to concentrate. Over the years, I had perfected my meditation techniques. I often used them when I had been up for more than 48 hours without sleep. I could then meditate and rest myself without wasting time sleeping. It also had other uses. I could speed up my reflexes and my make myself stronger and faster for a short time by focusing my power. I could also, utilize my internal temperature control to drop my internal and external temperature to such degrees that I was literally a walking body of ice. During those times, I was mostly invulnerable to pain. I would feel it later after I had thawed but while I was in this state I was totally numb.
As I focused and extended my powers to the height of their capabilities, my skin cracked and creaked underneath my suit as it was quickly frozen solid. My veins were now literally pumping ice. My whole body became hard as a granite rock. Cold vapors poured off me and rolled to the floor before expanding out towards nearby buildings and parked cars. I slowly opened my eyes as I finished my transformation. I felt so different. Unlike any other time I had done this to myself. I felt power within me like I had never imagined before. I glanced back towards the shallow grave that Arclight laid in.
This wasn’t right, he deserved more. We all did. All these years I had been playing by the rules of this planet. All these years, I had tried to be a hero. I wasn’t a hero. Men like Arclight were the heroes. They deserved the praise and the recognition. They deserved to be here, alive. I should be the one laying there, not him. I had restrained myself far to long. I no longer cared about right or wrong. I didn’t want to have to do the good thing anymore. This situation dictated force, not diplomacy.
I glanced back towards the now ruined tower. Xanatos came here to kill me, to kill all of us. If he is to be beaten, then we can’t play by the normal rules. I have to be just as willing to kill as he is. By any means necessary. It’s time that I finally show this so called hero what pain truly is…
04-20-2005, 04:31 PM
Like the proverbial dog off his chain, Wolf flew at their attacker. Howie kept his animal side in check, however, ignoring the instincts that told him to go for the throat and the groin, to open up those important blood vessels and slake his carnivorous thirst in the life-essence that poured from within.
He knew that the Bone Squad’s only hope was to knock some sense into Xanatos, to prove to the demigod that he was mistaken in thinking that Charon was Fracture. Xan was too powerful, too experienced, and would eventually destroy every individual member of the Squad, unless he was made to realize that they didn’t have to be enemies. Joe, Psylex and ArcLight were already down, the first two already dead and Arc not far from it, if still alive at all. Wolf also knew that Xanatos had been weakened, that ArcLight’s and Sable Phoenix’s sacrifices had done their tricks, and left the demigod open to attack. Finally, he knew that such set-backs would be temporary, and his only shot at knocking some sense into the Defender was to press the attack; to keep the avatar from regaining his senses, to beat him tirelessly, relentlessly, and stop him from regaining his cool composure.
With this in mind, Wolf performed a handspring over Xanatos’ back, gripping the Defender’s costume in both hands as he flipped. With muscles as hard as steel cables, the werewolf levered his opponent over his head, using the leverage of having both feet back on the ground, as well as his own body mass, to swing the President’s Pawn over his head, bringing Xanatos crashing back down onto the cement in front of Wolf. Without pause, Wolf stood, bringing his foot up underneath the demigod and kicking the man into the air. The ice god rose a few feet off the ground before the wolf-man’s gloved fist crushed into his spine, again spiking the Defender into the ground.
Keep on him, don’t let him breathe, Howie told the Beast in his mind, and the Beast responded with a wag of his mental tail.
Wolf kicked Xanatos in the ribs, causing the hero to fly against one of the few walls still standing. Before the demigod could even begin his fall to the floor, the werewolf’s shoulder crashed into him, sending them both through the plaster and out the other side. When they landed, Xanatos was leaning against the wall, and Wolf was straddling him, his wet nose a scant inch from the Defender’s mask. And then there came the recognizable sound of claws clearing their inner sheaths. Two claws appeared at the same time, on either side of Xanatos’ jaw, slicing the mask- and a bit of flesh underneath- all the way up to eye level.
The third claw had passed through the tight skin stretched underneath Xanatos’ chin, up through his tongue, split through his palette, cleaved between his nasal septum, and came to rest against the membrane that surrounded Xanatos’ brain. It was a surgical strike, precise in every way; a centimeter further, and brain fluid would begin leaking out of the Defender’s head. The claws were not fully extended; about six inches were still trapped inside the werewolf’s forearm, begging for release.
Wolf began to speak, bones in his face snapping and reforming as he assumed the form he’d taken all those years ago, when he first “changed” and came to Paragon City. It was much more human than the current form had been, which made it easier to get his point across.
“Listen close, old man, because I can push another half a foot of claw into your brain before you can say, ‘Boo.’ And whatever you do, pal, don’t sneeze.
“Now, I’m sorry your daughter got brought into this, Xan, I truly am. I have a little girl too, you know. None of us but Joe knew he would bring her- I never would have, it ain’t my way.” Wolf nodded at the demigod, solidifying his point. Howie was well aware that both of Xanatos’ palms were pressed against his furred chest, and that he was allowing the Defender precious seconds to regain his composure, which could mean the difference between life and death for him. Better make this quick, then, he thought to himself, and pressed on with his dialogue.
“You and me both know that you ain’t fatally injured, Xan. You could kill me right now and fly away and that’d be that. But since I got the upper hand for the moment, I want you to listen, and listen real f*cking good. Charon ain’t Fracture. Get that through your skull, Xan. Fracture is some ex-Family thug with a grudge, and the whole team saw him with our own eyes. We fought him, Xan.”
Wolf adjusted his position, pulling a piece of cloth from the pocket of his leather pants. He held the scrap up to the godling’s mask, and then held it up to his own nose, drawing in the scent of his enemy. “I dunno if you can tell the difference, man, but this is Fracture. Old sweat, gun oil, resentment, and cheap soap. It ain’t Charon.
“I dunno where you got the dumbass idea that those two were the same guy, but you gotta believe me: You’re doing Fracture’s job for him right now! You’re helping a godd*mn murderer, Xanatos. You’ve killed at least two- possibly four, depending on Phoenix and Arc- members of this team, and softened up the rest of us. If the real Fracture showed up right now, we’d all be f*cked.”
Howie paused for a moment, letting that all sink in, before he finished his thought.
“What do you wanna do, buddy? Wanna freeze me solid, like you did Joe? Wanna go off and kill the rest of the Squad? I don’t wanna kill you, Xanatos. Hell, I don’t even know if I can kill you. But you’re in the wrong here. Charon is not Fracture. So, your move. Blink four times if you trust me. If you still want to fight,” Wolf sneered, showing his wicked fangs. He finished sarcastically, “…nod.”
04-20-2005, 04:32 PM
On the floor of the tower, Charon had stirred to conciousness. The world span infront of his eyes, and it kept phasing from pure black, to color, and back to black. Somewhere off in the distance, when he fell momentarily unconcious, he could hear a voices fill his mind.
"Get up. You're meant to be rock hard, man. It's time to rock 'n' roll." Said one voice, far off into the black abyss, from the beyond the grave, it was Mr. D, his ex-partner and founder of the Bone Squad. He was blatantly delusional. The tactical side of his mind told him he was probably concussed. The voice was almost whispering into his ear, into his very mind. "It's not time yet." it whispered, next time he fell back into the shadow world of his mind.
"Bobby?" Charon recognised this voice alot slower. It was her. He welcomed it, he didn't want to wake up to find himself back in the war zone that was the tower. He wanted to stay in this world, where he could hear her. "Why are you waiting?" She asked, clearer this time, but still beyond sight, a blanket of black fell infront of his eyes.
He shot back to reality as a brick landed right next to his face as a tumble of figures flew from the side of the tower and landed down on the walkway. They tumbled forward, and Xanatos rolled across the floor, landing with his back to one of the smoke stacks infront of the tower. Wolf was on him in seconds, and there was a quiet noise amongst the rubble as 3 of his claws shot from his hand.
Charon stood up slowly, and looked around him. He looked through the hole and down at Wolf and Xanatos, against the smoke stack. His vision then moved over below them, on one of the rooftops, on which ArcLight was lying in a crater, with Icelander standing next to him, a frosting covering his entire body. Charon used the Bone Squad sign language to message to Icelander: Stay there.
Charon turned and saw Sable Phoenix lying on the floor, unconcious, as a healing flame covered her body. She wasn't going to be getting up for the time being, and she would be fine in time, there was no point giving her any kind of medical aid. Besides that, he didn't have the time. Charon turned to Makis.
"Joe?" He asked.
"On the roof. Presumed dead." Makis said, keeping his eye in the sight of his sniper rifle, his finger impatiently tapping the trigger as he looked down at Xanatos, waiting for whatever was coming next, in the form of a vision, or from his scope. All he wanted was a shot. If he got a shot, Xanatos was going to die. He didn't care, hero or not, he was going to blow his brains from his damn head.
Charon turned to see what other back up he had. There was a hole in the floor in the bottom of the tower, he moved over to it and surveyed the scene below. The O.M.E.N. unit was slowly removing the debris that held it in place. It took the final large peice of the tower roof from it's leg, and then burst it's way out of the smaller debris covering it, and into a standard position.
"Weapons Systems. Online. Sight. Damaged. Adjusting lense. Target Identified. Robert. Ian. Black. Charon. What do you desire?" O.M.E.N. asked the figure standing ten feet above it.
"Get up here." Charon replied, and turned and walked away from the whole as O.M.E.N's primitive spring loaded leaping system creaked into action as it shot through the hole and landed next to Charon and Makis. Charon turned to Makis. "We're going to roof. Bring rifle." and then opened a not often used compartment to his utility belt. He prefered to travel by rooftop and fire escapes, slowly. But now he needed speed. He swung the thing rope he had just pulled from his belt and swung it to the roof, the hook on the end barely grabbing part of the debris. Charon was suprised he'd managed to hook onto a solid peice of the building. The staircase had been desimated, so he began to climb the rope, as the rain crashed down on his head, through the body of the tower, using his feet to climb the jagged debris sticking out of the side of the tower. Makis grabbed the end of the rope, his sniper rifle swung over his shoulder by the strap, as the O.M.E.N. unit sprang up to the roof on the other side of the tower.
Charon got to the top of the roof, and climbed onto the remnants of it. He scrambled across what was left and over to Joe's body. He checked the pulse of the body that was lying in the rain, slowly, very slowly, thawing. There was predictably no pulse. In fact, the artery in his neck was frozen solid and sticking out. The look on his face, of pure pain, frozen in time. Charon shook his head, as anger, one of the emotions he could still display readily, boiled up inside him. He grabbed Joe's gun, and pulled out the clip. He examined it. It was empty. Joe hadn't even taken the chance that he may of shot Gwen. He'd never even taken the risk, and he had died from trying to stop the deaths of several people. Charon turned, and saw Makis and the O.M.E.N. bot standing at the ready behind him.
"Position yourselves. Edge of the tower. You get a shot. You take it."
"Affirmative." The robot said, and his wrists whirred as his mini-machine guns loaded themselves. Makis pulled back the bar on his sniper rifle, and wrapped the strap around his elbow to get it into the perfect aiming position. He never replied, he was always prepared to take the shot. Charon tucked the empty gun into his utility belt, and stepped to the side of the tower. He dropped, past the tower, past the walkway, and landed on the rooftop directly below it, in the perfect landing position, with a slight thud. He edged his way along under the walkway, until he was directly below Xanatos and Wolf.
"If you still want to fight...nod." Wolf said, and leered infront of Xanatos. A second later, Wolf was sent flying across the walkway, and hit the side of the tower with a tremendous thud. Xanatos stood up, and immediately clutched at his chin, as blood poured from the fleshy skin beyond it. He stood, and froze the wound, slowly, wincing with the pain, so the blood would stop flowing. But as he did so, he gave Charon his chance.
Charon flipped up onto the walkway, and pulled the staff from his back. He pulled Xanatos around, the element of suprise on his side, and smashed Xanatos, full whack, in the face with the staff, before flipping it around his head, and aiming the end at Xanatos, and launching it into his stomach. Xanatos doubled over, and the blood began to pour from his chin again, where he was unable to freeze the wound in time, as the staff came smashing down on the back off his neck, sending him flying on his stomach to the walkway. Charon knew he had to keep this onslaught going, at the same pace. He couldn't allow Xanatos even a second to react. If he did, he was a dead man. Xanatos would freeze him again, and this time he wouldn't survive.
Charon used the staff to flick Xanatos onto his back, and began to use one end to hit Xanatos over the face, again, and again, continuously, before in a second, he flipped the staff onto his back, and was on the floor, laying into Xanatos' face with a flurry of fists. Xanatos had had enough. He grabbed Charon by the neck, and lifted him into the air by it, standing up. Charon still continued to swing his fists continually into Xanatos' face, but they did minimal damage, and caused Xanatos next to no pain now he had frozen the majority of his face.
"I don't know how you survived Robert. But I'm willing to bet you can't do it twice. Even if you aren't the hero killer, and I know you are, I'm disgusted at what you've become. You bought Gwen into this. You. You and Joe. And the rest of this damn team. Goodbye Robert...This is for crimes against your country." Xanatos said, and began to let the ice flow to freeze Charon again, when words escaped his lips.
"The gun...was empty." He said, gasping for breath under Xanatos' grip. "You...son of a *****...Gun. Was empty."
Xanatos stopped and looked at Charon.
Makis took his shot. The bullet ripped through the air, through the wind and through the rain. It ripped through Charon's mind as he heard the rifle fire, and then, it ripped through Xanatos' chest.
He hit the floor with a thud, releasing his grip on Charon and letting him hit the walkway. Charon scrambled back to his feet. This wasn't going to be enough. Bullets couldn't kill Xan. Hell, they could help, but they couldn't kill him. Xanatos, set about trying to heal the wound, the hole in his vital organs, as Charon ran up and smashed his knee into Xanatos' face, sending him flying backwards and hitting the walkway below. Xanatos was much quicker healing his wounds this time, and was back on his feet in seconds. Charon and Xanatos exchanged punches, Xanatos' being much more powerful than the punches Charon, a meer mortal, could muster. In seconds, Xanatos had beat him down again, and lifted him, once again, the grip around his neck, but this time, in the opposite direction. Makis wanted to shoot him? He could shoot him through Charon's dead body.
Xanatos choked Charon as he lay in his grip. Charon fumbled with his utility belt. Xanatos moved his head to see what Charon was doing, just to see he had 2 mini-grenades held in his hand, and had pulled the pin on both of them. Charon's mouth could be seen to smirk slightly on a ripped section of his mask, as he dropped them to the walkway below. Xanatos dropped Charon from the walkway, and began to make a crude Ice shield as they went off, blowing a hole in the walkway, sending Charon flying from the rooftop and landing in a pile of wooden boxes below, and blowing Xanatos off the walkway, and landing in the crater ArcLight had created before. He turned to see ArcLight's dead body lying next to him, and he looked up, just in time, to see a frozen Icelander, standing over him, with rage in his eyes.
04-20-2005, 04:33 PM
I stood over Xanatos waiting for him to get up. This was actually a first for me, my hands and arms were trembling. I had this half anxious, half disturbed feeling that made my stomach turn. Some people might say all these things are symptoms of a common emotion. Fear. I prefer to call it healthy respect for an adversary. Xanatos quickly stood up to face me, his mouth moving underneath his mask. Obviously, he was speaking to me. Whether it was to reason with me or intimidate me I have no idea. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. I already had the silicon earplugs deep within my ear canal. In about 2 seconds, he would wish he had done the same.
I clicked the detonation switch I held in my hand. A high pitched, ear piercing whine filled the air as the tiny sonic wave box I had planted about 20 feet away activated. Xanatos put both hands to his ears in agony trying to stop the pain he was most definitely feeling. While this was a good plan, it had a flaw. It had the desired effect on Xanatos, but it was also surely causing every member of the Bone Squad the same amount of pain. The sonic waves traveled about 1 mile, so the rest of the team was well within the range of the sounds waves. I had already taken this into account, unfortunately there was little I could do but regulate the duration of the sound. All I needed was enough to stun Xanatos, the goal of this weapon wasn’t to kill anyway. I had other ways of doing that.
I deactivated the detonation switch, and put it back in my utility belt. Xanatos was on his knees in pain, still clutching his ears. He was quick to recover though, much quicker than I anticipated. He stood up and faced me, this time blood stained the front of his mask where his nose had started to bleed from the intense sound pressure. I was pleased, I had drew blood already. His mouth was moving again underneath the mask, I guess he hadn’t figured out yet that I couldn’t hear him. I quickly withdrew 2 small pellets from my utility belt and threw them in his direction, while I turned my face and shielded my eyes. The small pellets exploded in mid air and released a brilliant flash of pure white light. Enough to temporarily blind anyone, within 20 feet.
I quickly turned my head back towards Xanatos, he was furiously rubbing his eyes trying to regain some sight back into them. By my own calculations, I had a 30 second window before he was back to normal. Of course as a side note, he would most likely recover more quickly than I anticipated. So I conservatively gave myself 20 seconds. I stepped in close to him and gave him the hardest punch I could throw with my frozen fist. He staggered back a few steps, looking more concerned with getting his vision back than my punches. I closed the distance between us again as I took a deep breath gathering all the air I could. Finally I exhaled the bitter cold air onto Xanatos, he was quickly enveloped in a makeshift prison as the air crystallized and covered him in rock hard ice. Granted, he would most likely not even feel the cold but I was trying to gauge his strength. I’ve known some pretty strong villains that have had trouble breaking out of my ice prisons.
I took a few steps back and dug into my utility belt to get the next device I was planning to use. Ice shattered and pelted me as Xanatos broke free from the ice block he was held in. He did it a whole 10 seconds faster than I had hoped. This wasn’t good. I hurriedly pulled out 2 plasma capsules that I planned to use as a diversionary tool. That’s when he slammed into me. He was using his flight to keep me off balance. He had me in a tight bear hug. In fact, it was getting a little difficult to take regular breaths. I futilely tried to pry him off. He was far stronger than I imagined. Wish I had known that sooner.
He was flying straight up now. We have just passed cloud level. This wasn’t a shock. I expected this, just not this soon. He was throwing my timetable way off. The air was getting painfully thin the higher he flew us both. I had no doubt, that he could hold his breath longer than I could. My thoughts were beginning to become jumbled from the lack of oxygen. I still had the plasma capsules in my hand. Didn’t think I would be this close when they were detonated, but as of now I had little choice in the matter. The capsules had a 5 second delay to avoid accidents. Right now the delay was 5 seconds to long. I slapped both of the capsules to Xanatos’s back. That way he should partially shield me from the brunt of the blast.
My vision is starting to fade on me.
Arms and legs are going numb.
Air is to thin to breathe.
Nose is starting to bleed from the altitude.
I woke up with the wind angrily assaulting me and a feeling of weightlessness. Apparently the blast worked and I was free, the bad part was I was now freefalling back down to the ground. Luckily, Xanatos was almost directly above me, unconscious. I spread my arms out to slow my decent, his limp form slammed into me as we both continued falling. He was sure to wake up and finish what he started any second. I wrapped both arms around him, pinning his arms in place. I closed my eyes and started concentrating on getting colder. Ice started to cover us both as I made somewhat of a cocoon to cover us so that I could survive the fall. But I wasn’t counting on that alone to do it. I turned both of our bodies so that he was closest to the ground. Xanatos was the best shield I could have at this point. The ice was just a secondary measure.
I again woke up, this time I was firmly on the ground at least. The ice I had made to protect me from the fall was shattered and laying in pieces on the ground around us. I quickly rolled off Xanatos. He had taken the most of the force from the fall. He looked to be unconscious. I slowly sat up and looked around. We were in a basement, it seemed. I glanced upward, and could see how we got here. We crashed through 12 levels of this building and went straight down to the basement. I stood up and shook off the last of the ice from my body. I had a concussion at the very least, that was excellent news compared to the alternative. I turned back around to where Xanatos was laying, only to find him gone.
I quickly spun in a circle only to come face to face with him as he grabbed me by the neck and slammed me into a huge steel structural support beam. I pawed at his arm, trying to dislodge him. It was like trying to bend steel. His mouth was moving again underneath the mask. At least I still had one thing going for me, I didn’t have to hear his babble. I tried to reach into my belt to pull out a smoke pellet. Xanatos quickly ripped the utility belt off my waist with his free hand and threw it behind him. I was running out of tricks and it looked like he had just broken a sweat. Only had one option left. My final plasma capsule. I keep 1 extra in the lining of my glove. I was quickly running out of air as Xanatos held me off the ground by my throat.
I released the capsule and dropped it at the base of the structure supporting steel beam. The blast was likely to bring this whole building down. Luckily, we should both be dead from the explosion before that happened. I opened my mouth to reveal a bloody smile. Xanatos looked at me, his mouth moved under his mask again. Most likely asking what was so funny. I smiled even wider as black spots started to appear in my vision.
“Boom.” I whispered.
Xanatos looked toward his feet to see the capsule. His eyes widened before he released me and shot up like a missile through the hole we created in the building. I staggered to my feet and limped my way to the other side of the basement, hoping to find some cover before the explosion hit. I quickly hopped behind a steel dumpster just as the explosion hit. The dumpster rocked back and slammed me against the wall. I felt a sickening crack go through my body as I slumped down to the ground.
I could feel the building rumble and shake all around me as it lost it’s central support beam. Concrete walls cracked, smaller support beams bent as it struggled to now fully support the millions of tons that had now been thrown on it. Finally the smaller beams bent and gave way. The concrete ceiling above me rumbled, cracked and broke loose.
The crack I heard as I hit the wall was most likely my spine. I could no longer feel my legs. I glanced up to see the concrete slab above me come crashing down. My last thought was of my home planet. I wondered if death would finally reunite me with the world and people I had lost long ago…
04-20-2005, 04:34 PM
Makis was the first to know a lot of things. He was the first to tell his team to plug there ears, the first to know that the building down the street would soon be demolished at the cost of his teammates life, and the first to know that it wouldn't be enough. Even before Xanatos had began to fly Icelander out of the atmosphere Makis had ran from the roof at a dead sprint to get out of the building. On his way he howled at the O.M.E.N unit to start running to the building he had just seen Icelander and Xanatos plumate into just seconds before.
As the O.M.E.N unit hulked out into the street and the two Ice men fell from the sky, Makis took a detour to his old room that was still at least somewhat intact from all the battering the building had taken. He was going to need a little more firepower then his Dessies. Prying his closet door open he grabbed a bag from the back corner of his closet and pulled out his old gun, his big gun. Grabbing as much ammo as he could he ran from the room while screwing a new tank of propellent to the bottom of his gun, sliding a grenade round into the breach of the largest barrel of the rifle, stuffing in as many shot shells as he could and fitting a hundred round drum to the main barrel.
By the time he had gotten out the front door of the Tower the two Ice men had already smashed though the twelve story building. While running dead sprint towards the building he concentrated on what he was going to have to do. Every thought he had, every vision, every prediction pointed to his own death. Never the less, he saw what he had to do, he saw the death of the Ice Herald. All he needed was time, how much even he couldn't tell, but all he had to do was make it. For his sake and for the rest of the teams. In a blinding flash of light the building ahead of him exploded, O.M.E.N had made it in time.
As the building caved in around Icelander the massive piece of concrete falling towards him was knocked aside and instant before it would have impacted him by a massive punch from the O.M.E.N unit. In one swift movement the massive robot scooped up the paralyzed form of Icelander and charged from the building, smashing aside debris as it fell. Making it out of the building and into the smoke filled street were it was met by Makis who told it to take him back to Sable Phoenix.
Xanatos had almost made it out. He'd gotten to the 11th floor when the plama shells exploded. A completely buried Xanatos began to haul himself from the wreckage of the building. His costume was torn, scorched and blood stained, but he was very much still alive, if a little exhausted. He began searching for Icelander in the massive cloud of smoke, ash, and dust and had filled the streets for several hundred feet after the blast. Out of nowhere a bullet struck him in his lower back, partially severing his spinal cord before he could freeze the wound. "About face ****er" came the cold voice of Makis from behind him, another hero up at the plate to have a shot at the Ice Herald. Xanatos did exactly as he was told, he spun around and let out a massive blast of ice in the general direction of the voice, only to be hit full in the chest by full auto gunfire coming from the right of where he had shot. The bullets tore into his body quicker then he could heal the wounds, his punctured vital organs where frozen solid a instant after the bullets impacted. He began firing blasts of ice in every direction as Makis constantly changed position, stopping his fire only to start again from a different direction. Shotgun slugs and buckshot rounds tore through his legs, knees and shoulders. As he stumbled through the choking haze left by the collapsed building.
"You went to far, mate," came the ghostly voice of the Heralds opponents though the blinding smoke, "You have killed friends of mine and there is not a damn thing in this world that will save you, you son of a *****!" The last words were accompanied by a grenade launched from directly in front of him, the blast from of which knocked him off his feet. He staggered back to his feet literally weighed down by the amount of lead frozen in his body to be met by the sight of Makis running straight for him, diving on him and slamming the butt of his rifle into the Heralds jaw with all Makis' weight behind it. Again he fell backwards, tumbling over the debris. An instant after Xanatos had fallen, Makis had again melted out of sight.
Despite the punishment he had taken he was still far from dead, he knew Makis was merely wasting his time here. However the fact that Makis had a plan was far from being a comforting thought, It was also a thought he had held onto to long as a large chunk of concrete attached to the end of a steel pipe swung by Makis crashed into his back with a sickening thud and a crack that could either have been his spine or the ice that held his body together. Either way, he had once again fallen only for Makis to disappear once more. The next assault was a spray of flaming propellent from Makis' Flamethrower as he ran a complete circle around him. The flames were extinguished a second after they were set by a complete drop in body temperature. The distraction was enough, he was quickly cough in his obviously broken jaw by a right hook and what felt like studded brass knuckles. He reeled from the impact only to be hit by a left jab and a solid bunch to his guts. He quickly began launching blasts of ice from both hands which Makis dodged in one long continues fluid motion that characterized his Gun Katas while continually raining lightning fast blows with his brass knuckles. By what seemed like pure luck Xanatos managed to catch a hold of Makis' collar and quickly lifting him up by his neck. The look on Makis' face was not something he wished to see, it was a smile, the kind of smile a wolf would have seconds before devouring its meal, a kind of smile he had seen on Makis' face many times when he knew something you didn't. There was more fear in Xanatos' face at that moment then Makis had in his whole body. "About face ****er," Makis managed to gasp despite a strong clench on his throat.
Xanatos quickly turned his head to look over his shoulder, he instantly wished he hadn't. Not because at that instant Sable Phoenix's whole body ignited into roaring flames and out stretched wings, not because of a huge blood curdling roar from Wolf, or from the mere sight of Charon and Icelander walking towards him. He wished he hadn't because it gave Makis the opportunity to land a sold kick to his gonads with steel toed combat boots. With a moan of pain he let Makis fall from his grip only to be pummeled by one last solid brazen blow to his face sending him reeling backwards towards the regrouped Bone Squad, vengeance in there eyes and a smile on Makis' face....
04-20-2005, 04:35 PM
Xanatos stood in the middle of the rubble. The warehouse, slowly falling down more and more around him, bricks hitting the floor on every side of him, as he bled from various parts of his body. Approaching from every side were the Bone Squad. Icelander and Charon approached, their fists closed into tight balls, ready to batter the boy scout infront of them. Sable Phoenix floated behind them, fully healed, the Phoenix ignighted behind her. Behind them, was the Omen robot, not often used rocket launchers were mounted upon his shoulders. Behind Xanatos, standing with his gun hanging from one hand, as he used the other to rub his neck, which Xanatos had come so close to crushing, was Makis, looking mighily angry.
But Xanatos, simply didn't care. They couldn't kill him, they knew it and so did he. He knew he couldn't take all of the vigilantes that now surrounded him in the collapsed building, but he also knew that they wouldn't be able to end his life, they wouldn't be able to stop him for good. But he wasn't willing to take that chance, and somewhere, off in the distance, his daughter was running through what was left of King's Row. Anything could happen to her. There were so many things stalking the streets that could do anything they wanted to her. He could never live with himself, if he was off here, killing these worthless beings, while his daughter was being attacked, or worse, murdered.
And so, he stood in silence for a second, and then made eye contact with Charon. Icelander and Charon were standing directly infront of him now. Icelander was still frozen, his hands now covered in a thick sheet of Ice. Charon was standing, his staff in his hand, ready to do battle again.
Xanatos knew what he had to do. He needed to go and find his daughter, and there was no way he could take all of these people at once. He couldn't win. Neither could they, but while he was fighting it out with them, anything could happen to Gwen. So, he went through his options in his mind. He was going to have to get all the members off of him before he could make his exit. and now they were all worn down, and they lacked numbers.
Xanatos couldn't help but let thoughts of Psylex and Joe cross his mind. He knew he'd killed them, no doubt. Especially Joe, he had frozen every cell in his body, there was no way he was getting up. And from the way Charon had sounded when the Ice herald was choking him, he knew he was stone cold dead. And Psylex, he hadn't even meant to kill Psylex. But he wasn't here, and if he wasn't with the rest of the Squad, there was only one conclusion he could draw. Either he was seriously hurt, or he'd already passed away.
Charon was closing in, slowly edging closer. He obviously thought that Xanatos hadn't noticed. He hadn't, for a second. He was lost in thoughts of his daughter out on her own, and the dead Joe and Psylex. They didn't need to die. It was only Charon who deserved to die. He'd killed heroes, and now he needed to be stopped, even if it went as far as his life ending himself. But why did the rest have to get in the way? They were loyal to Charon. He knew that. Even Sable Phoenix, who had spent time in his family home, playing with his daughter, was loyal to this... criminal. But why? He couldn't fathom why they would remain loyal to a enemy of America.
But time was running out. If he didn't act fast they were going to launch the first attack. Makis would no doubt have already seen what was coming next, and so, Xanatos needed to do it before he could warn them. The tempreture immediately dropped. Xanatos was going to hit Icelander first and Charon second.
"Cha-" Makis started. But Xan changed his mind. Makis saw what was really coming next to slowly. Xan turned around and slammed an ice covered fist into Makis' jaw, sending him spinning backwards and landing face first in a pile of boxes. That was one down, the one who could tell the rest how it was going to go down. He then turned to find Charon and Icelander on him. They pummeled him with their fists, over and over, but he managed to get a good grip on the pair of them, throw them backwards a few metres, and then blast them with his ice, in mid air, backwards into the far wall of the warehouse, and through the other side.
Sable Phoenix was on him in seconds, she grabbed him, and ice and flame colided. They struggled in mid air, pushing backwards and forwards, one slowly gaining the upper hand, and then the other. But Wolf wasn't going to sit back and watch, that wasn't his style. He jumped into the air, switching to his animal form as he did so. As he jumped over Xanatos, he grabbed him with his feet, flipped in mid air, and pulled him out of the Fire, Ice death lock, and throwing him into the wall next to Makis. Wolf was down on him in seconds, his claws unsheathed, ripping chunks from Xanatos' mid section, until a blast sent him flying into the waiting Phoenix, and they both flew backwards to skid across the floor.
This was his only chance, he had to get out now, if they rallied, he'd have a hell of a fight on his hands, not one he could handle.
"No! Don't let him ****ing go!!" Makis screamed, and flicked a switch on his gun. He pulled the trigger, and opened fire, full auto, as Xanatos shot through the roof, and out into the night sky... to retrieve his daughter.
04-20-2005, 04:36 PM
She had to be ok, She had to be ok....
The message pounded through Xanatos's mind stronger then anything else the Bonesquad could have thrown at him. It had been a while since he'd been in such a bad shape - it hurt to move - but pain meant nothing. Gwen was missing and Xanatos had to find her.
Minutes passed. Every now and then a *clink* was heard as a bullet fell from the sky and bounced around the streets below. Xanatos's healing factor was working overtime to cope with all the injuries - and every now and again another bullet would press it's way out of a different part of his body. It didn't hurt that much - nothing really did anymore.
It was as a bullet fell from his chest that Xanatos heard gunshots in the distance. Acting purely on impulse he flared across the night sky, like a falling star comprised completely of ice. Within seconds he had reached the scene of the shooting, but not before several shots had been fired. Tears streaked down the Golden Age heroes face. He knew what he was going to find...
There she was - as beautiful as the day she was born. Her soft smile made her face glow a light orange - with her mothers fiery red hair complimenting it perfectly. She had her mothers eyes as well - they glistened apple green as she gazed up into the sky. When Gwen was born she was covered in blood. Nothing changes.
Xanatos touched down with a reapers grace. His eyes welled with tears, but his gaze was as strong as ever. Fixed not towards the man who stood over his daughters corpse, not the smoking gun in his hands, but the large blue "C" on his Chest. Crey Industries had killed Gwen. The Bonesquad were right - it had all been a setup. And now this nameless man was staring Xanatos in the face.
"Why!" said the iceman, his eyes never leaving his daughter. Her body was so calm and still - she was at rest - wherever she was.
"God Bless America!" shouted the Crey agent as he placed the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.
He was clearly working for Hopkins - some sort of martyr hitman - possibly working out of some twisted sense of patriotism. But all the motives blurred together now - villains, heroes, the government, himself. They were all the same. None of them could stop his little girl from dying. None of them stopped war, poverty or famine. All the world ever did was fight. Fight and destroy, fight and kill. The world had killed his little girl. Something had to be done.
Xanatos stood there for what seemed like hours before the rain started to fall. It washed away most of the blood - but the holes remained. Each one having been torn into Gwen like she was nothing but a rag doll. As he finally sunk to his knees and placed his head in his hands, Xanatos began to weep uncontrollably. Placing his gloved hands together, the icy hero let out a silent prayer for his daughter. There was nothing more he could do for her now. She was beyond the help of even the greatest healer in the city.
Wiping his eyes, Xanatos rose to his feet. He gazed upwards, ignoring the rain that stung his eyes. Something had to be done. And there was only one way to make things right again. He'd fought the "good" fight all his life, always striving to do the right thing. But that was bull**** and Xan now knew it. There was no such thing as good or bad, right or wrong. There was just humanity - humanity and their own petty bickering. Glancing one last time towards his fallen daughter, Xanatos leapt into the sky, before flying away. For what seemed like the hundredth time that day the hero flew as fast as he could…
As Xanatos disappeared above the clouds a lone figure appeared form the shadows. Even under the duster hat and long trenchcoat his red eyes still shone as brilliantly as ever. He still wore the costume – it was too much of a legacy to just cast aside. Too many old friends, too many old flings. The lone figures mouth grinned as he thought of Sable Phoenix. He hoped she was alive – it had been such a very long time since he’d last seen her.
His name was Johnathan Steven Lake – otherwise known by the moniker “Bayne”. Johnathan was an old team-mate of Xanatos’s. The two had fought side by side on too many occasions to count. And they were almost the closest of friends. But even Bayne was shocked by the events of the last hour.
But now he was stood over a corpse of a child he’d held in his own hands. They grow up so fast – no father should ever be expected to bury his own children. After sending out his own silent prayer to the man above, Bayne covered what was left of Gwendolyn with a low green glow.
“Beam me up Robbie” said Bayne into his team communicator. There was a brief hum as a dark purple light shone over Bayne and Gwendolyn. Before the two disappeared from view. Leaving the corpse of the Crey Agent to decompose in the moonlight.
04-20-2005, 04:36 PM
The battered, bruised, but not beaten Bone Squad slowly walked back into what was left of the collapsed tower, and sat down, tending to their wounds. None of them said a thing, they all just sat around, none of them making eye contact with one another. After the rest of them had already begun tending to their cuts, bruises, and more major injuries, Icelander left the tower in search of Psylex, but hope was lost, it was likely he was dead. Charon staggered into the tower around two minutes after the other members had begun tending to themselves, after he had spent that short period of time sitting on the rooftop, thinking about the past. He put his hand out on the wall, to steady himself, but then, for the first time in thirty five years, he allowed himself to display weakness, and passed out.
04-20-2005, 04:37 PM
Sable Phoenix stared sightlessly at the rest of Bone Squad members as they sat silently, tending their wounds. An air of sadness, a sort of malaise, hung about the nearly destroyed Tower; the fading moonlight falling through the gaping holes in the structure cast inimically furtive patterns across the group. Odd how now, when they should have been most helpful to each other, they separated and pulled back into their own private little shells each of them had set up.
It was indeterminate whether this was a phenomenon held over from the breakup of the Bone Squad, or was what had caused the breakup in the first place.
For her own part, however, the Sable Phoenix hardly saw them. Her attention was focused inward, on herself... on themselves.
We see now... said the voice of the phoenix. Her voice. We understand. Why did we not trust ourselves before? The concept imparted in the words, words not so much spoken as inscribed upon her mind, was not precisely a "we", but rather of a unity so profound it defied any conventions of language. The Sable Phoenix was one, the phoenix and Paige MacKenzie. Purpose and essence were perfectly blended into an unfathomable power, a power which still burgeoned within her, growing rapidly into full flush. Had her fight with Xanatos continued, she would soon have found him no more than a trifling annoyance.
And yet... and yet they were still individuals. All the personality, the thoughts and memories and emotions and desires that made up Paige MacKenzie, were still intact and separate. Yet she had full access to the phoenix, its own thoughts and memories and emotions and power. There was perfect understanding between them. And now that they were not concentrating on the battle, each looked at the other and saw, in all twenty of those long, dark years, why. And each said to the other, "Ah, of course... how could we not have realized?"
It was so sublime that, in her heart, she wept at its agonizing joy.
After an eternity, an eternity which lasted less than a minute, Paige took a deep breath and brought her gaze back from within to actually look at the rest of the Squad. Unconsciously she tallied up the missing. Joe... she had seen him killed, frozen solid in an instant. ArcLight... sorrow welled up in her at the thought of him, one of the few Squad members she counted among her true friends... she had felt him slip away, torn free of his body by its own incredible energies. Psylex... ArcLight had said he was dead. Icelander... Icelander she knew to have been alive... where was he?
Outside. The preturnatural senses of the phoenix located him, an instantaneous response to her thought, and she in turn instantly knew where the alien was, knew that he stood over the still form of Psylex.
She lifted out of the demolished Tower, glancing in vague horror at the body of Joe as it lay in a slowly expanding pool of its own meltwater, swelling into a grotesquerie of its former self. Standing in the air, she swept forward, following her sense of Icelander. She found him standing over Psylex, as she knew he would be. That was not what shocked her.
What shocked her was the blood. Psylex's body had been mutilated, viciously stabbed until his entire upper body was an unrecognizable reddened mass.
Icelander hardly acknowledged her as she hovered down to stand on the air just above his eye level. "What happened?" she whispered. "Who would do this?"
Icelander shot her a frigid, unreadable glare. "Only one person could have. You forgot. Already. But he he didn't almost slice you in half," he growled. He knotted his hands at his sides until the joints cracked.
For a moment his words failed to resolve into something meaningful. Then, abruptly, she remembered... the face scarred over every inch, the insane raving under Psylex's mental domination... the man who had nearly killed both Makis and Icelander. "Rabidus. Fracture's hitman."
Icelander made no response, a silent pillar of anger. For her part, Paige was surprised that the rage she expected was nowhere to be found. She felt only a bone-deep, weary sorrow.
"Find the psycho and give him a red smile," snarled Makis, racking the bolt back on his freshly reassembled firearm.
It seemed that most of the Squad had forgotten about the madman they had locked up in their basement. With everything else going on, it was hardly surprising. But the only thing holding him had been Psylex's mental domination, and as soon as that had lapsed, Rabidus had exacted his horrible revenge and escaped into the night. Now the Bone Squad, one and all, seethed with a thirst for vengeance.
All but Charon. Stoic and unflinching as ever, now that he had returned to consciousness, he stood silently amid the heated comments of the Squad, arms crossed, cool as a granite statue.
"Useless to search... for him," he broke in, silencing everyone else with the quietness of his words. "Bigger problems. Find Knuckles, and find Rabidus, anyway."
"Sure, great," said Icelander sarcastically. "Find Knuckles, just like that. As if that wasn't exactly what we've been trying to do for days now. We don't even know where to start looking."
"I do," said Charon, coldly. "Vegas."
Most of the Squad looked up at that, sharply, quizzically. "Nevada or mob boss?" Wolf asked, a slight hint of humour in his voice. This wasn't the time.
Charon favored him with one of those glances that could freeze a candle flame on its wick. "Mob boss. Undead. Vegas. Dealt with Knuckles. Many occasions. He... should know something." He pushed himself off the wall and unlimbered his staff in its bandolier across his back. "I know... where his bar is."
Icelander couldn't believe what he was hearing, Charon was really scraping the bottom of the barrel now, he obviously thought he'd go for the guy they'd busted most who'd worked with Knuckles in the past. It wasn't going to work. At least he thought not.
"Let's go." Charon snapped.
04-20-2005, 04:37 PM
Vegas sat in the back room of his club, and looked over the cards he held in his hands. Crap. He knew it, he couldn't win jack with what he held in his hands right now. He could always cheat, but the boys were begining to suspect him. It's not like they could do anything even if they found out, he was their boss, he could just have them all wasted before word got round that Vegas was a cheater. But, he didn't want to lose either, there was a whole lot of money on the table to just lose it all to these halfwits who sat around the table with him.
He put his skinless finger up to his chin, and scratched bone against bone. He then closed his fist with his cards in them, and coughed, and in that second, transfered the cards in his hands, with the ones he had neatly tucked into his sleeve. He fanned them out in his hands. Four kings. None of them could beat that. He had a silent little chuckle to himself.
"I'm out." Said one of his zombie like, undead minions, throwing down his cards.
"Gah, I've got jack and ****, and jack just left town." Said the second, launching his cards into the middle of the table. He noticed the looks he was getting from all the eyes in the room for his stupid little outburst, and just uttered "...what?"
"You in?" Vegas said to the others. Everyone was out except his right hand man, Morgue, who simply gave a nod to indicate he was still in the game. Morgue was a rich man, he had no where near the wealth Vegas had accumulated in his lifetime, and beyond, of crime, but he had his fair share of cash, and Vegas was looking forward to taking it.... This ought to be interesting... he thought to himself.
People went about their business in "The Underworld," Vegas' club for the undead and living alike. In a corner, a couple of undead men, looking nothing more than drunken, rowdy zombies were sitting around a table, laid out, empty beer bottles lying on the floor around them, their guns strewn over the table. Elsewhere in the room, undead waitresses went about their business, being whistled at through decaying lips. Mobsters of differing degrees of rot were sitting around, some meer animated skeletons, others still with at least some muscle clinging to the bone, and others who didn't look dead at all, except for that hidden, fatal wound somewhere on their body.
But all these dead men, women, and unrecogniseable corpses had something in common. In their lives, they had worked under Vegas' little branch of the mafia, and in death, they still did. The living men in the room, were those that either had the guts to enter the club, or a death wish. Some were regulars, who'd managed to befriend the corpse like patrons and be accepted as one of their own. Others were strangers who'd wandered into the club... and likely wouldn't be living at the end of the night.
The place was drab, dank and dark. The walls were black, and the only light in the room was what the dim bulbs swinging from the ceiling gave out. 30s, Italian music filled the room from a juke box that was hanging loosely from the wall by one or two screws, playing it's quiet swing music. It was like a time warp; dead men in pinstripe suits, drinking the night away in what could have easily been mistaken for a 30s, rundown speakeasy. But maybe that was the intention. Vegas had been dead a long time, and had often been known the carry the traits of his day and age.
Behind the bar, with one hand holding a beer class, and the other hand cleaning it, endlessly, with a bar towl, stood Buckeye Bill. He was little more than a skeleton, he wore an apron, and one of his eyes hung from it's boney socket. A lonely cigarette hung from his mouth, he dragged on it every now and then, but there was little point, the smoke just escaped when it got down to his bare, empty rib cage. Behind him was a huge rack full of whiskey, vodka, and other drinks that most of the patrons couldn't even enjoy, many of them had no digestive system left. But for some reason, same as they always had, they ordered their drinks.
"Gimme a whiskey, Bill." Said one of the patrons, through half rotted lips and broken down gums. It was easy to see how this man had died, from the bullet hole in his forehead. He sighed, and put his head down on the bar.
"Bad day?" Said Bill, still pointlessly and endlessly cleaning the one glass in his skinless, skeletal hand, as one of his dead, horrifying bar maids collected the drink.
"Meh." Said the patron, "You know how it goes, Bill." He said, grabbing the drink off of the bar maid, and looking her up and down. She winked at him with half an eyelid, over an empty eye socket, and walked off.
"So what's yer trouble?" Bill asked, finally putting down the glass he'd been cleaning for over an hour on the bar, and leaning over to his patron to light the cigarette hanging from his rotted lips with the lighter he always carried in his top pocket.
"Well, y'see..." He began, but he was cut short by the deafening bang that came from a pistol near the doorway. The whole room turned their attention to the direction of the noise. There, stood, in the door way, Makis, with smoke rising from one of his twin pistols, as sparks flew from the juke box, a bullet hole in the glass.
"I can't stand that ****." He said, as Wolf and Charon stepped into the room behind him.
Vegas heard the gun shot and bolted to his feet.
"Morgue! Go'n check it out... take the boys with ya!" He screamed. The men around the table stood up and cocked their pistols. Morgue grabbed a shotgun off the wall and pumped a shell into the chamber. The left the back room and headed down the corridor towards the door that led into the main room of the club.
Vegas piled all the money on the table into his brief case. He opened the safe on the wall and piled all the cash he could carry into it, before slamming it shut and turning the lock. He grabbed his tommy gun in one hand, the brief case in the other, and headed for the back door. He heard footsteps in the hall, and turned to face the doorway on the other side of the room. He backed his way towards the exit, and pulled the handle down. He whipped himself around to run out, but ran into the solid frame of Icelander, behind him, Sable Phoenix.
"Where do you think you're going?" Icelander said, shoving him to the floor and stepping into the room.
"Vegas." Charon said for the fifth time, as he slammed Buckeye Bill's head into the bar. "Where is he?"
"For the love of god!" Bill screamed. His head hit the bar again. "Back room! He's in the back room!"
Makis, Wolf, Charon and O.M.E.N. stood in the main bar room. There were around twenty or thirty patrons in there with them, most of them unarmed, but there were many mobsters in there, with guns, that were planning their revolt. The Bone Squad knew they could take them if it came to a straight fight, but right now, no one was daring or stupid enough to fight back. But that was all about to change.
The main door behind the bar swung open, and behind it stood around thirty more mobsters, armed to the teeth, and led by Morgue, a huge, 6'5, 350lb corpse, with a shotgun in his hand and rage in his eyes. Charon threw Bill aside, and joined his three companions in the middle of the room. The mobsters swarmed in, and the patrons of the club, those that were armed, pulled their guns, those that weren't grabbed the nearest thing they could fight with, chairs, empty bottles, glasses, and anything else that could be easily made lethal.
Makis pulled his second pistol from it's holster, Charon whipped his staff from his back, Wolf unsheathed his claws, and the O.M.E.N. bot whirred into battle mode.
"This is about to get...interesting." Makis muttered, as the destructive, brutal, murderous, immediate future flashed infront of his eyes.
04-20-2005, 04:38 PM
I stepped into the dimly lit room, the stink of cigar smoke and cheap whiskey filling my nose. It all added to my mood, which at this point was quite nasty. I wanted this whole situation over and done with and this dead husk in the five thousand dollar suit was going to help me, one way or another.
The dead man quickly stood up from the floor, looking rather angry at our intrusion. Well, as angry as a skeleton in a suit can look. I could hear thuds, angry shouts and screams of agony coming from downstairs. Looks like the party has started.
I took another cautious step into the room as Vegas edged closer to the door on the other side of the room. Heavy footsteps could be heard on the other side of the door before it busted open and four more dead men clamored in.
“Boss, we got a problem down there, some masks just……..” The lead mobster trailed off as he noticed Sable and myself standing at the other side of the room.
“Handle it boys.” Vegas ordered before he disappeared through the same door his cronies had just entered.
As if a switch had been flicked all the dead men broke into a frenzy, pulling guns from their shoulder holsters, ankle straps and belts. I went into motion, hopping on top of the nearest table and leaping into the air. What followed was an acrobatic display that could have rivaled most gymnastics competitions. From table to table I leaped, flipped, cart wheeled and dove on top of, around and behind my attackers.
I felt the room literally turn into an oven as Sable started dispatching the unlucky dead men that went after her. She could take care of herself, better than me most likely. I pulled my mind back on my own problems. The room was filled with grunts, groans and heavy thuds as one by one all the dead men were dispatched. More dead men poured into the room as they sought refuge from the battle downstairs and found another battle raging in this room. The odds were stacked against us, two against more than a dozen.
As I executed another midair back flip to avoid a pair of brass knuckles that apparently had my name on them, I cracked a smile underneath my mask. I lived for this stuff.
05-11-2005, 10:13 PM
Icelander had admitted the odds were stacked against him. The odds were sorely stacked against him. It was something like twenty six dead men on one alien and one warm blooded woman. However, Icelander didn't care; He'd lived his whole life beating the odds, getting himself out of impossible situations. He'd handled more men than this before, and he had no doubt one day, he'd end up taking out more than this again. These men, although they outnumbered him, were nothing like a threat to him. And why? Not because they were inferior. Not because they were stupid. It wasn't because they were badly armed, and it certainly wasn't because they didn't know how to fight. To be fair, the mobsters were all of these things, but that wasn't what gave Icelander the edge. That wasn't what was going to make it easy for him.
It was simply because Icelander hated to lose, and he would never allow himself to do so. The odds meant nothing. Nothing.
He flipped over the table in the middle of the room, sending poker hands flying in all directions. He swung his feet in an acrobatic flurry, taking off skulls and smashing rib cages, and as he finally flipped onto his feet, he extended his hands and let the ice flow forth, freezing the remaining ten men standing infront of him. He heard a scream as another corpse ran past him, what was left of it's flesh sizzling under the heat, and then turned to face Sable. She'd done some good work... but he said nothing.
"Good job." Sable said to Icelander, panting slightly.
"I know." Icelander replied, his breathing as steady as it ever was. "Follow Vegas."
"Where are you going?"
They heard a scream of agony as something glass smashed as cold, hard bone made it's impact.
"I'm missing all the fun."
Charon brought the staff down on the mobster's head for a final time, caving in what was left of his crumbling skull. A cry of pain came from whatever vocal chords still hung from the corpse's rotting throat, as Charon tripped what was left of the body to the floor, and brought his foot slamming down on the exposed brain, hanging from the crumbled helmet of bone.
This was taking forever. The corpses refused to stay on the floor. You had to squash whatever was left of their vital organs if you wanted to kill them, and this was rather puzzling when some of the more decayed gangsters seemed to have no vital organs whatsoever which could be crushed. Makis was opting for the option of just pumping everything in sight completely full of lead until it hit the floor and stayed there. It was working, and O.M.E.N. was following suit, but for the rest of them, this was starting to become tiresome. Charon winced as a stool was smashed over the back of his head. Winced, but didn't fall down.
Makis was slowly battling his way towards Morgue, who stood behind the bar, firing round after round from his pump action shotgun. He was hitting nothing but his own men, but that didn't really seem to bother him. He knew they'd end up on their feet somehow, it didn't really matter if he blew a couple of their limbs off in the way of progress, eventually the odds said that he'd hit one of the Bone Squad. But as was mentioned earlier, Icelander didn't care for the odds. He entered the main room from the small door behind the bar, and found himself standing directly behind the massive, trigger-happy Morgue. He reached up, and pulled the shotgun that was stationed just above the bar from it's hiding place. Two can play at the buckshot game. Morgue's half rotted face exploded into the bar room as the shell ripped through his thick, rather stupid skull.
Makis looked disapointed with the lost kill, but he'd foreseen Icelander stealing his thunder around three seconds before it happened, and had chosen to let him have this one. Makis had this body count in his head anyway, as he was sure Icelander would have too, and he knew that in this instance, he'd taken out more of these guys than Icelander could have even hoped for. It was an inclosed space full of bodies, a paradise for a gunkata. He flipped around and fired his pistols through the eye sockets of a corpse sneaking up on him with an empty bottle of budweiser poised for combat. He hated that beer.
Wolf bounded off one of the walls, flipped, and grabbed a table with his back paws. As he flipped again to land on his feet, he released the table in mid air, sending it catapulting across the bar room, connecting with a mobster's face and sending him crashing through the juke box, which was already suffering form the two bullets Makis had pumped into it earlier. He swung around and dug his claws into rotted flesh, and ripped upwards, swinging the almost weightless skeleton around and using it as a club to beat back the others that attacked him from all directions.
Despite their continued efforts, the room was still filled with corpses...this really was taking forever.
The phoenix rode through the sky as Vegas ran as fast as he could around the back of his club, where his limo would be waiting. The heat was getting to him, and he knew he only had seconds to reach his limo before the Phoenix would catch him.
Unfortunately for him, his limo was minutes away, at best.
A wall of fire exploded up infront of him, and the breifcase he carried firmly in his hands fell from grace, hitting the floor with a hard thud, expelling cash into the wind, to be burnt in the circle of fire that surrounded him.
"My money! My money! You bitch!!" He screamed, reaching to the floor and grabbing the sub-machine gun that had been the other inhabitant of his case, besides his precious money. He began to fire like a maniac at the Phoenix, but the bullets just melted on impact with the blaze that now surrounded her.
"Surrender your weapon. Bow before the Phoenix."
05-12-2005, 05:51 PM
I was losing. I even hated thinking that word.
Makis and his damn guns were ruining everything before I had a chance to even up the score. As I bounded from one over turned table to the next avoiding the rapid fire of numerous machine guns and pistols and oddly enough a few arrows, I was calculating the body count in my head.
I padded my own numbers a bit, but regardless, Makis was still ahead. Hell, even Wolf was surpassing me. I cursed both of them under my breath as I watched them dispatch another pair of bad guys. Wolf gave me a sidelong glance and bared his teeth. I made a mental note to regulate the volume of my cursing in the future.
A fresh group of dead men poured into the bar at the far corner of the counter. I sprang from my perched position and made a beeline for them, as I took out a few smoke pellets from my belt. The four dead men started to raise their weapons at me, preparing to fire when all of them were pitched backwards from the impact of numerous bullets. Their dry, brittle bones shattered and splintered until they were only dust on the floor. I stopped in mid stride and looked over to the bullets point of origin to see Makis with a stupid smirk on his face.
I clenched my teeth together to stifle the tirade that was itching to come out of my mouth. Makis dramatically raised the barrels of his Desert Eagles to his lips and blew on them, then he gave me a mock salute before running off to find more moving targets. It was times like these that I remembered why I was a loner. No competition.
I spotted a few stragglers putting themselves back together, easy targets. I didn’t bother to run, I wasn’t taking any more chances. I raised my arms and aimed at the nearest one, ready to blow him apart with cold fury when a wooden staff crashed down on him, driving him into the dusty and dirty wooden floor. I silently watched as Charon took apart the small group of mobsters with crisp strikes and prods from this staff.
I heard a snicker from the other side of the room as Makis took a quick break from delivering destruction to glance at my predicament. I narrowed my eyes at him, which only made him chuckle a bit louder. The next moment his eyes widened as he apparently had one of his visions. He turned around quickly but was to slow to avoid the small wooden stool that crashed down on his back. With a soft grunt and a loud curse, he shook off the splinters and fragments of the broken chair and fired point blank at the mobster responsible. I smirked under my mask.
I caught some rapid movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see a huge mobster coming right for me. He had to be at least 7 feet tall, he lumbered towards me at fairly quick pace for someone his size. My natural reaction was to backup, his size alone made me a little weary. I stifled the urge to retreat and ran towards him at full speed. He hesitated for a second, probably a little puzzled as to why I wasn’t cowering in fear. Finally, we met in the center of the barroom. He clasped his hands together and delivered a hard double overhand smashing punch that would have surely cracked my skull if it had hit. I quickly moved to his right, sidestepping his intended blow. I had one strategy in mind, actually it was the same tactic I always used.
Attack, attack and attack.
I landed a hard right hook to his kidney area as he was setting himself for another go at me. I didn’t give him that chance, I fired two quick blasts of ice from my hands into his chest. The impact knocked him back a few feet, giving me room to take a running leap and place my steel toed boot directly in his face. The sound of brittle, dry bones were heard as they broke and splintered from the force of the kick. The huge dead man stumbled even further backwards as he let out a quite audible grunt in response to the pain.
I closed the distance between us and put another couple blasts of ice into his chest. He was visibly slowed, which just made me even more eager to continue. A few more punches, elbows, kicks, knees and head butts later and I was standing over a badly broken and beaten mobster. I felt….refreshed.
I glanced over at Makis to see him frown at my trophy, I placed my foot on the huge mobsters chest and put up two fingers to Makis to signify that this kill counted as two towards my body count. He frowned deeper, raised his hand and extended his middle finger. I doubt his gesture had anything to do with a body count though.
I turned around to see Charon, who had just finished dispatching his latest group.
“Sable.” Charon asked
It was more of a demand than a request, that alone irked me a bit, But, I knew what he wanted to know.
“She’s out back, doing her nails.” I replied
Charon finally glanced up at me from his crouched position, he was obviously not in a mood to hear my witty banter. He slowly stood up to face me.
“Relax, she went after Vegas. Where else would she be?” I said
"Sense of humor.... get's you killed." Charon said
I stared at him a few seconds before replying.
"Well in that case do us all a favor, go buy one"
I didn’t wait for his patented glare, I turned and headed towards the bar counter, where there just happened to be a fresh crop of dead men waiting to be pounded.
05-28-2005, 02:23 PM
A loud swooshing sound reverberated off the walls, even if I didn’t know it was Sable it wouldn’t have taken a genius to figure it out. She was approaching from wherever she'd disapeared to to find Vegas, and she was obviously in full Phoenix form, because this was almost too much to stand. I was sweating like a pig under my mask, she was turning this place into an oven. Her and her “one with the fire” routine was not only disturbing but quite annoying. Especially to someone that thrived off the cold. Sometimes I imagined what it would be like to see Sable incased in ice, teeth chattering, arms shaking. I often thought about giving it a try, during one our intense battles I could hit her with a large blast and chalk it up to friendly fire. Of course she would ruin my fun and melt the ice before she even felt the cold. Even so, the thought of it made me chuckle slightly.
A bony fist to my jaw brought me out of my happy thoughts. I stumbled back a few steps from the blow before stopping myself. Angrily I kicked out at the dead gangster, sending him crashing over the bar and into a crate of whiskey. I looked up to see Makis staring at me.
“What?” I asked.
“Were you….were you laughing a second ago?” Makis asked in shock.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I replied as I strode past him.
More and more of the dead men poured out of adjoining rooms and separate doors. I jumped from table to table, firing off ice blasts into the crowd as I dodged chairs, beer bottles and brass knuckles. I finally hopped down to the floor just in time to catch a rather large bar stool that hit me square in the back, catapulting me forward into a closed door that splintered and shattered inwards upon impact. As luck would have it, the room happened to be the Men’s restroom. I silently counted my blessings at that, imagine my humiliation if it had been the Women’s. I would have never heard the end of it.
I lifted myself off the floor just as Charon backpedaled into the room. His staff swinging in wide but crisp arcs as he held off a half dozen dead men. I stayed behind him, hoping that I wouldn’t be hit on accident by his staff as he tried to dispatch the growing horde of gangsters that were squeezing into the room. There were now close to 20 people in a room built for 8, and only 2 of those people were good guys. The lack of space made it difficult for Charon to work. That’s when I decided to do it, I hadn’t tried it in quite awhile but if anytime was a good time, it was now. I dropped down to one knee behind Charon.
“Blizzard.” I yelled to Charon.
Charon quickly struck out at the dead man directly in front of him with his staff, leveling him in one blow, then he put his shoulder down and sprinted straight ahead out the door and back into the bar. The dead men stood watching the door he had just disappeared out of for a few seconds stunned, then they returned their attention back to me.
The temperature in the room was dropping like a stone, of course the dead men couldn’t feel the extreme cold but the icy frost that started to cover them was slowing their movement. The dead men that were closest to me froze over first, their old bones grinding to a halt as ice covered them and froze them in place. The air in the room was so cold that a normal person would have frostbite over their entire body in seconds were they to walk into the room. Im sure the bar and probably this whole building was getting pretty chilly, but the major cold was pretty much contained in this room.
While I am in this state, I can’t see, hear or feel anything. It takes to much concentration and energy to generate the mass amount of cold needed that I am effectively immobilized and extremely vulnerable. Of course my theory is that whatever is looking to do me harm will freeze before it can actually get to me. It seemed to be working.
I finally collapsed over in exhaustion. I opened my eyes to see that the entire room was white, ice and frost had enveloped everything. Small snowflakes dropped from the iced over ceiling onto what looked like ice statues but were in fact the frozen solid bodies of the dead men in various poses and positions all around the room.
I slowly climbed to my feet and walked to the nearest frozen skeleton, I put one finger to it’s skull and gently pushed. It’s frozen form tipped slowly at first, then faster as it toppled over and hit the ground with a sound that reminded me of shattered glass. The frozen form of the dead gangster broke apart into several thousand pieces upon hitting the ground. It wasn’t likely that he would be getting up from that one.
I made my way to the door that led to the bar, the sounds of fighting still filling the room like some kind of sick and twisted symphony. I took a deep breath and re-entered the fray.
05-28-2005, 02:24 PM
It didn't take much. One hard hit and the skeletons would burst into a couple dozen peices. The problem was, that once those peices had hit the floor, they then immediately started attacking you. Arms, legs, anything that could still be of use in fighting once it had been broken away from the main body, would keep fighting, and it would keep fighting hard until there weren't enough peices of it left to be anywhere near operational.
Makis was still having no trouble with this. He'd picked up Morgue's shotgun from behind the bar, and was simply disintigrating anything that came near him in one shot, and then blasting it again for good measure to make sure there weren't any peices big enough to keep on fighting him. The O.M.E.N. robot was enjoying much the same power, simply unloading clip after clip of automatic rounds in his wrist mounted machine guns into the skeletons as they approached. Icelander and Charon, however, were still having more trouble, as was Wolf.
Icelander re-entered the fray, and put his fist through the skull of one of the gangsters. Rather than becoming disconnected from the rest of the body, Icelander's hand actually went through it, and got stuck there. The skeleton lifted it's boney hands to Icelander's lower arm, wrenched upwards, and in the same movement pulled what was remaining of his skull from his neck and slammed it over Icelander's head with Ice's own arm still firmly stuck. It fragmented on impact with his head, and Icelander was sent reeling backwards into the bar, where he decided it was time to start playing at their game. He picked up a bar stool, swiped it at the legs of the now-headless hoodlum, and took his legs clean off. He then stood and stamped on all the remaining bones, to make sure this one wasn't coming back, while he blasted mobsters away from him with his arms. Makis was laughing at him somewhere on the other side of the bar between shots, but Icelander really didn't care... It made him more angry, and anger was his friend, and with this thought, he swumg his elbow backwards, and cleanly knocked the skull off of a mobster sneaking up on him with a bottle, which flew vaguely in the direction of Makis, but was shot from the air before it could make impact. A smile appeared on Icelander's face underneath his mask as he heard Makis' shot and the skull explode... he lived for this stuff.
Charon was swinging his staff madly in an attempt to take out anything that came near him. Unfortunately, he also had a boney hand firmly grasped around his throat, slowly choking the life out of him, as he fought the mobster he'd just swiped the hand from. He swung his staff, landed it on the head of the mobster, and knocked his skull downwards and through his rib cage. He then wrenched the hand from his throat, threw it up in the air, and swung his staff into it, smashing it into thousands of tiny peices which flew over the bar. Charon took a moment to catch his breath.
"Getting too old for this crap?" Makis said, having the time of his life.
"...Switch." Charon said, as he saw the large group that was sneaking up on his side, and noticing the small group Makis was currently dealing with. Maybe he was right, maybe he was getting too old, he knew for sure he couldn't deal with the group currently sneaking up on him, and he knew Makis could. Makis ran forward, Charon flipped over him, and dispatched the few Makis had left to him, while shotgun bursts began to fly again, and Makis' manic laughter echoed around the bar.
Wolf bounced off the bar, and his huge foot landed in the face of a half rotted, 1930s reject. He flipped back to his feet, shoved one claw into the mobsters either side of him, and pulled his arms together, sending the two smashing into each other and fragmenting over a table, which he then swiftly and athletically flipped over and kicked a hoodlum as hard as he could, sending it flying across the bar, and completely taking out a mobster looming somewhere near the O.M.E.N. bot.
The room was starting to clear, there were only a few to go...
06-03-2005, 10:08 PM
With a few gunshots, kicks and few well placed claws, the room was clear. Just in time too, Vegas came flying through the door as if he had been thrown like a toy. Sable floated in right behind him, looking rather perturbed. Vegas slowly got up to his feet, glaring at all of us.
“What are you doing in my place?!?!” He shouted
Charon was the first to step forward.
“Fracture. Want him.” Charon said coldly.
Vegas glanced around at all of us, before replying.
“To hell wi_”
Charon backhanded him across the face before he could finish, sending the mob boss to his knees. A bone jarring, cracking sound filled the air that even made me wince.
Charon kept quiet as Vegas stood back up in an upright position, cursing under his breath. It was amusing to watch the fear in his eyes as we all crowded around him in a semi circle.
Vegas then glanced my way and gave me a particularly mean glare. I couldn’t help it, I backhanded him as well, which sent him back down to the floor. My backhand didn’t have that fulfilling crack that Charon’s had. I was disappointed. Everyone glanced at me, perplexed.
“What? He looked at me funny.” I said with a shrug.
Charon picked Vegas up off the floor and hauled him to his feet.
“Alright, alright!” Vegas shouted
Charon let him go.
“Look, I don’t know who the guy is okay? I just give him equipment every so often.”
“You in the habit of supplying anyone that walks off the street?” I asked.
“He flashed me a huge wad of money, said there would be a lot more if I supplied him.” Vegas replied.
It wasn’t what we wanted to hear. We wanted to know the bastard's location. But this would have to do. We only needed one more thing from Vegas.
I leaned in close so I could get right up in his face.
"And the Bonus question, and believe me, a wrong answer will cost you all your points.... Where do you deliver all this equipment to?"
06-05-2005, 10:57 PM
“Impossible.” Charon said, staring down at the beaten husk, held firmly to a chair by Makis and Icelander standing at either side of him, ready to pounce if he made any attempt to escape from this damned death trap of a bar room.
“No. Impossible.” He repeated himself, and turning around as if to walk off, but instead he just stood there, facing the other direction and pondering on something. He just stood there.
“It’s an address. How can an address be impossible?” Icelander said, staring at the back of Charon’s head. He hated Charon for this. He could never tell what he was thinking. He was used to knowing what everyone was thinking. Not on the same level as Psylex used to be able to do, of course, but he could usually read what people were planning to do, what they were pondering on. But never Charon. No one could read Charon. Not even him.
“It’s… It’s impossible.” He said, but didn’t turn around. This was starting to try everyone’s patience. Standing around claiming that the information that they had just beaten from somebody was impossible was not helping anyone. As far as Makis was concerned, if that was impossible, they either needed to kill Vegas… again, and then find some way to find out where Fracture really was, or beat the real address out of him. He couldn’t see why Charon was just standing around, thinking. This was not the time for thinking. The time for thinking had long past. Now was the time for action. Now was the time for tracking down the guy that had been killing their friends, and arranging a cold, slow death.
Charon whipped around and grabbed the shotgun Makis held firmly in his hand. He pumped a cartridge into the chamber and lowered it into Vegas’ face. This was what Makis liked to see. If Vegas was lying to them then they needed to apply some real pressure to get the real address out of him. But then, he was horrified to see the future flash in front of his eyes just seconds before it happened. But he chose not to stop it, this was Charon’s decision.
“What are you..?” Sable started, but didn’t finish.
The shotgun fired, and tiny fragments of bone flew all over the bar, smashing glasses and landing as far away as the doorway they had used to get in. The limp body of Vegas slumped in the chair, and then dropped to the floor, limp and lifeless. This particular husk was not getting up to keep on fighting.
“You should have done that years ago.” Icelander said, recalling memories of the thousands of times they had had to stop Vegas in one of his many crazy schemes, or just in his usual mob activities. Prostitution, extortion, muggings, murder one, Vegas had been connected with all of over the years, and now he’d finally gotten what was coming to him. He deserved it. He’d deserved it for years.
“Well that’s all well and good, but if as you say the information he’s given us is ‘impossible,’ then we just ran fresh out of leads.” Sable said, looking at Robert. He just dropped the shotgun to the ground, picked up his staff from the bar, and stormed out of the bar.
Makis was the first to follow. While he didn’t always agree with what Charon did, he’d stick by his side. Charon was the only person in the world he’d give his own life for, and he knew that when Charon made a decision, you stuck to it. Sable Phoenix followed after him, Wolf was not far behind and O.M.E.N., going with the majority, whirred into life and marched out.
Icelander stood in the bar room on his own.
“This is insane.” He said to himself, and followed.
They came to a stop outside of an abandoned, bleak and empty, or so it seemed, apartment building, in the middle of the Gish in King’s Row. It was the address Vegas had given them, and only Icelander had cottoned on to that fact at this early point.
“I thought you said this was impossible.” Icelander said, staring up at the sky.
“What is it?” Makis asked of Charon, who had come to a hault.
“Address Vegas gave us. Also…. Original Bone Squad HQ.” Charon said, flatly.
“What?” Sable Phoenix almost whispered into the wind. This was unbelievable. She’d asked him if he knew Fracture was one of the members of the team. She’d asked him. He’d said no. Knuckles could not be working solo. It was impossible. He wouldn’t know the location of the original Bone Squad HQ, nor would he know how to get past the old, rusted, but fully operational defence mechanisms the original four man team, Charon, Mr. D, Ice Claw and Omen had installed years ago. There had to be an inside man. There had to be.
Charon walked up to the door which sat quietly waiting in the doorway, for Charon’s first visit in seventeen years. He pulled open a metal panel just to the right of the door, and behind it sat a small microphone. The original Bone Squad had relied heavily on stolen Crey technology. The later incarnations didn’t need to get by using such things, but the original team, through Ice Claw, had had easy access to things which could be stolen and used.
“Charon.” He spoke into it, in his same voice as ever.
“Unauthorised voice pattern. Access denied.” Makis felt the pain of a vision fly through his mind, and pulled Icelander and Sable to the floor. Wolf sensed Makis’ fear, and did the same.
Charon already knew what was coming. He threw himself backwards as the entire door frame self destructed. The flames flew out and engulfed the O.M.E.N. robot, which had not reacted in time. Its circuitry fried, its weaponry failed, and it fell, empty to the floor. Charon couldn't help but think, as he lifted himself to his feet, around fifteen metres from where he'd been previously standing, that it was quite ironic that John's last creation was destroyed by his own defence mechanism.
Icelander stood up and dusted himself off, and looked from the huge hole now in the side of the broken down old building, and down to the robot collapsed on the floor.
“Bad news; the death toll just went up. Good news? At least that gives us a way in…”
06-08-2005, 07:29 PM
Hopkins sat in his large black chair and stared into his computer monitor. A live video feed played before his eyes as he watched a civil rights protest march on the streets on Washington. Caleb Gilligan, the voice of the left wing, was leading it. Gilligan had once gone by the moniker of "Showtime", and had been one of the Bone Squad's many enemies. Now he was so much more then that - a proverbial thorn in the side of America's administration. To say Hopkins despised him would be putting it lightly.
"Is Statesman there?" asked Hopkins to one of his aides.
"No sir, he's currently out of the country - Manticore is with the troops however."
Hopkins nodded and he was patched through to Manticore. Within seconds the aged face of the millionaire playboy archer appeared on the screen. Manticore still wore the same dark red outfit, with the strange headdress that reminded Hopkins of a hedgehog. But the smile and carefree attitude of yesterday was no-where to be seen on the archer’s features.
"Manticore I want you to lead the troops on this one. As soon as you see Showtime I want him removed. Do you understand me?"
"Loud and clear Mr. President" came the reply as the link terminated. The sound of rainfall could be heard as Hopkins leant back in his chair.
The crimson archer gritted his teeth as his eyes gazed across the march. His bow held firmly in his left hand as he searched in anticipation for his target. He saw the people march with a look of rugged determination, and had to stop himself from smiling at their raw stupidity. The years had hardened Manticore. The heroes always knew what was best - yet humanity always seemed to want to complain. And to be brutally honest, Manticore was sick of listening.
He appeared - the clown of yesterday hidden behind an aging face and a change of clothes. But Manticore still knew it was him.
"Show's over bub" said Manticore as he notched his bow and let the arrow fly. As always his aim was true, and the aged political leader fell to the floor.
The march suddenly ground to a halt as Showtime dropped down dead.
"You monster...shot an innocent...hell to pay!" the crowd became frenzied at the assassination of their leader. Within minutes rocks and bricks began flying in the general direction of Crey troops. Riot shields emerged and the heavily armed soldiers began aiming their weaponry towards the crowds, drenched as they were by the rain that now pelted the city streets. Every soldier waited for Manticore to give the order. Eventually the people stopped harassing the soldiers and just looked worried. Children were pushed towards the centre of the crowd as soldiers swarmed around the civilians.
Manticore nodded to the troopers and they cocked their rifles. He rose his hand in the air. The rain began to increase in velocity, bouncing off-of the hard concrete of the street. Manticore's arm fell, and the soldiers opened fire, their bullets dodging the raindrops as they hurtled towards the civilians.
With a monstrous roar the battle was met - walls of ice erupted around the civilians, causing the bullets to ricochet away from their intended victims. The weapons of war began to freeze in the hands of those that held them, as Xanatos made his presence known.
"You have committed a grave crime on this day Justin Sinclair" said the iced hero as he hovered above Manticore. As the Crey Troops began to disperse, the civilians looked on in hope. "You've lost your vision."
As Manticore opened his mouth to reply Xanatos plummeted towards him. As the golden age hero struck him down, Manticore felt an incredible pain shoot along his back, before darkness took him.
"Justice be done," said Xanatos as he turned and stared towards the White House.
Hopkins sat at his desk, utterly astonished at the video play that was in front of him. He saw Xanatos standing over Manticore, he saw Xanatos take one look towards the camera, and he saw Xanatos take off at a blinding pace. Years of SAS training gave Hopkins the edge when dealing with bad situations, and he wasted no time in getting a hold of Statesman via intercom.
"Xanatos has gone crazy. He's killed Manticore." spat Hopkins, "You're needed in Washington."
There was a short pause before he heard Statesman's reply.
"I'm needed here." came the eventual reply.
"I'm not asking you - as the President of the United States of America I'm ordering you back here!" replied Hopkins, mildly infuriated at the thought of a hero opposing him.
There was no reply. But Hopkins knew Statesman was on his way. Ultimately there was a reason the Boy Scout had been given the name Statesman - and that was because he put his country above all else. Friends, family, loved ones - nothing mattered more to Statesman than the preservation of America.
As Statesman flew off into the distance, Ms Liberty and back Alley Brawler sighed heavily. They had been positioned in Russia for months. The two superheroes were based in Russia in order to combat a new age of eco-terrorism. Over the years, the Devouring Earth had spread its contamination worldwide - and Russia was the breadbasket of the latest version of the Hamidon. At over five hundred miles in length, The Hamidon was too much of a threat for any group of superheroes to handle. As if this wasn't bad enough - Hamidon now had human followers, obsessive scientists who had been able to drink from the 'pool of knowledge' Hamidon possessed. The result was nothing short of biological "nukes".
"Looks like it's down to us now eh?" said Back Alley Brawler as he gazed out at the marshland that was Russia. "I never imagined Xanatos for a bad type."
"I hope Marcus makes him pay dearly." said Ms Liberty.
Before Back Alley Brawler had a chance to respond he was cut-off by a serious of explosions that resonated throughout the tactical bunker they were stationed in. The base had begun to shake considerably, and all military personnel had begun to evacuate. As Ms Liberty went to exit the command room they had been sitting in, large metallic doors slammed shut all around them. Locking the two heroes in place. As they looked on in confusion, the explosions continued to wreck the base.
"Someone set us up,” Said Back Alley Brawler as the explosions intensified.
"But who would do that...” said Ms Liberty, "...We're heroes!"
As-if on cue, both heroes breathed their last as the bunker exploded into the night. The smoky tendrils caressing the humid Russian air.
"I assure you two that the procedure is nothing to worry about, You are not the first metahumans it has worked on successfully."
Synapse and Positron shifted uneasily in their mechanical chairs. While their unique abilities had allowed them to assist others over the years and save countless lives - the toll was starting to show itself. Positron’s antimatter control had been decreasing, and Synapse had been getting increasingly slower. Fortunately however, Crey Industries had agreed to give the two heroes a boost to their powers. Pumping them up and allowing them to continue to be beacons of hope in the world.
As it stands, both Positron and Synapse were now plugged into a strange device in one of Crey's top laboratories. It restricted movement to the point of penalization almost. Held down as each hero was by numerous metallic restraints.
"Close your eyes heroes, it will all be over in a moment,"
Synapse had already closed his eyes - eager as he was to be 'up to speed' with himself again. But Positron was having second thoughts. Perhaps it was time for him to retire anyway; the residing powers might have been a gift from God. Perhaps now he would be able to put his past as a hero behind him. Raise a family or something to that affect. He signaled to the Crey operatives to release him from his bondage, but none of them moved.
"I do apologies for this sir,"
The switch was flipped and electricity arced into the two superheroes. Their screams muffled by the sound proof walls of the lab.
The Oval Office had never been so cold.
"He's in the bloody corridors!" roared Hopkins over the sound of gunfire, "Shoot his bloody head off and get me out of here!"
The gunshots ceased fire momentarily as an explosion could be heard. Hopkins threw himself behind his desk as the double doors to his office flew inwards - followed swiftly by several FBI agents - who swiftly collapsed in a heap in the centre of the room. Hopkins struggled to make out the figure that entered his office through the smoke, although he could see that his eyes burned a powerful white.
It was Xanatos.
"Hopkins!" he roared, "This ends now."
Hopkins stood up with a smile, he knew who it was.
"I do believe you are correct." came the presidential retort as the window behind Hopkins shattered. Statesman had arrived.
Statesman stared at Xanatos, and Xanatos stared right back. It had finally come down to this - the two most powerful superheroes in the world staring each other in the eye. Statesman's lip curled as he stepped in front of President Hopkins. His fists clenched and his stony glare set upon the icy hero before him. Hopkins stepped aside, a revolver now planted in his right hand. A sickly grin was etched on his features.
"There comes a time in every hero’s life when he must die." began Hopkins, "The hero never accepts it. Ever. Even the most noble and chagrin of heroes considers himself to be above death. Even Zeus was scared of death, he despised the thought of his powers being stripped from him, and the thought of being buried in the ground like a common man was something the gods could not cotemplate. Over the centuries hundreds of men have tried to escape death, but one way or other the icy embrace of death found its way home. You are immortal Xanatos - but Death is not foreign to you. Everywhere you go...people die. The blanket of death is a seed you sow so well. Let now retribution be done. You have danced this dance a long time Iceman, but now it finishes."
As Statesman stepped forwards Xanatos raised his hand. Statesman stopped and listened.
"My name is Xanatos. I am not of this Earth but live to serve it. If I die this day let my dying breath condole those I have failed, and preach my love to those I have helped and to those who have helped me. I am but man. My duty is to make the world a better place. If by my actions I have done that, than let me be remembered fondly. But if I have failed, if my actions have been in vain, then let my actions fade into obscurity. But let me remain. As a man who did his duty."
And with death's pale flag advancing in their cheeks, the two heroes engaged.
06-09-2005, 01:44 AM
Icelander was the first to step through the gaping whole that had once housed a steel reinforced door. He took a preliminary look around.
To anyone else, it would have looked deserted. Dust covered the floor, with no visible footprints. Cobwebs littered the ceilings and hung down like fine silk drapes. But this place was in use. The faint but easily recognizably bitter smell of gun oil wafted though the room and left a slight sting in his nose.
Makis, as always was the first to react.
“Move!” Makis shouted as he leapt forward and shoved both Charon and Icelander against the wall. A frisbee sized metal disc embedded itself in the doorjamb behind them, it would have easily gone through the both of them like butter.
Sable and Wolf entered the doorway, both taking a quick glance at the half embedded disc in the doorjamb.
“Maybe you should take point.” Icelander grumbled.
“Aye.” Makis replied.
“What was that Robert?” Sable asked.
“Security system.” Charon replied.
“Might have helped to impart that tiny tidbit of info before it tried to impale us.” Icelander blurted out.
“Security system.” Charon said.
Icelander snorted in response to Charon’s rare but disturbingly dark humor while taking his position behind Makis. The group made there way down a small and narrow corridor, until it opened up into what looked like a shipping and receiving checkpoint area. A whirring noise coming from the far end of the room caught everyone’s attention.
“Down!” Shouted Makis, as the fully automatic, wall mounted machine gun erupted and sprayed the room with a healthy dose of rounds.
Wolf was easily the fastest of the group, he didn’t have to be told what to do. In what seemed like a blur, he was on the move towards the machine gun. With speed and agility that just seemed downright unnatural. He quickly made his way to the far end of the room, while skillfully dodging round after round from the motion detector equipped machine gun that had now fully trained itself on him. With what seemed like little effort the fairly large and heavy looking gun had been ripped from the wall and almost broken in two by Wolf.
“Enough of this.” Sable proclaimed as she ignited in flame and flew at breakneck speed towards the doorway into the next and most likely deadly room. Gunshots could be heard, but they were short lived. She didn’t stop there, the room after got the same treatment and the room after that. Her intense heat had melted or disfigured all the remaining security measures.
Charon, Makis, Icelander and Wolf quickly made their way through the smoldering rooms to join Sable at a huge metal roll up door.
“I wouldn’t burn through that.” Icelander said, as he examined the wires running along side the outer edges of the huge door.
“Why do you think I stopped?” Sable replied.
Makis walked to the left side of the door and started disassembling the homemade explosives mounted to the doors lifting tracks. Makis glanced over at the right side of the door to see Icelander doing the same on the other end.
“No, no. You’ve got to splice those first two wires to bypass the sensor detonator.” Makis said to Icelander.
“Just worry about your side over there, you damn know-it-all.” Icelander grumbled under his breath.
After a few short minutes, the explosive charges had been disarmed and Sable had made quick work of the huge door and she quickly flew in, fire blazing. As the smoke cleared from the rubble of the destroyed door, a figure could be seen at the far end of the room. The lone figure was wearing a black suit, black pants, black shirt, tie and jacket, with a mask that looked just like a skull, with a long jagged crack down the middle of the face.
It was Fracture’s suit.
Sable made her way quickly towards him, with the rest of the Squad in tow. The gunman raised a clunky looking rifle with a medium sized radar dish on the front. Instantly, before Makis could warn the others in time, a shrill siren like wail filled the air. Sable and Makis dropped first, Wolf went to one knee. It hurt. Hurt so bad that noses started to bleed from the sonic pressure.
Always prepared, Icelander slipped in a pair of earplugs from his utility belt that partially blocked out the worst part of the sound. Now able to concentrate, Icelander let loose with two short and quick ice blasts from his hands, both blasts hit the sonic rifle and knocked it clear of their attacker.
With the pain gone, Icelander took a running start towards the gunman, only to be stopped short by a shotgun blast to the stomach by Knuckles who had come out of hiding from the other corner of the room to finish off the wounded heroes. Knuckles smiled in gleeful excitement as he fired again, while Icelander was still off balance. The shotgun blasts hit with the power of a small tank, sending Icelander back and off his feet, only to collide and go through a stack of wooden crates that were stacked high in the back of the room.
Wolf was on Knuckles in a flash, quickly drawing first blood and then dodging the ensuing attacks that Knuckles threw at him. Wolf’s superior speed and strength quickly started to overwhelm the shotgun wielding maniac. Charon joined in and together they slowly started to wear Knuckles down.
Sable soared high into the rafters and rained down blast after blast of inferno heat at the man in black who was using every piece of equipment and device in the room to shield himself from the monstrous blasts that would have surely put him out of action if they were to hit.
In the chaos, he had managed to get back to his sonic rifle, he fired a wide ranged blast up at Sable, which left her hovering in a stunned state. The black clad man flipped a few switches, which upped the power on the sonic blast rendering Sable near unconscious as she slowly floated back down to the floor as she lost concentration. Makis stepped forward and with flawless aim, shot the sonic rifle out of his hands. Even before the rifle hit the ground Sable was backup and had the assassin cornered.
Icelander came walking up, the thin bulletproof vest had proved very useful. Charon shoved Knuckles into the wall, where they could keep an eye on him, then he joined Wolf, Sable, Makis and Icelander. They all formed a circle around the black clad masked man. Charon finally stripped away the mask.
It was Rabidus. His scarred and disfigured face was easily recognizable. Faced with starring up at five pissed off heroes that he had at one time or another all tried to kill, Rabidus knew it was over.
“We all know you’re not Fracture, where is he?” Icelander demanded.
Rabidus hesitated in his answer. That was the last straw, this had gone on long enough.
The time for questions was over, Makis stepped forward, raised his patented Desert Eagle and pressed it up to the kneeling man’s forehead and tightened his finger on the hair trigger…
06-09-2005, 05:12 PM
“Please, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you, this wasn’t all us! Just don’t kill me. I’ll tell you.” Rabidus pleaded as Makis stood over him, his hand shaking as he pointed the desert eagle directly into Rabidus face. His hand shook violently. This was the man responsible for the death of some, if not all of his comrades, this man. Makis almost fired, but decided against it. He pulled the gun away, and then let it drop to his side.
“Talk now, and talk fast, or you’re a dead man, Mate.” Makis said, his hand still shaking slightly by his side. Strangely, even Makis didn’t see what was going to happen next. One would have thought that Makis would have seen it coming all along, but he, just as the others, was oblivious to what was about to happen.
“No, no…” said a voice as a door slammed opened from behind Rabidus, a voice Charon distinctly recognised, as a spike flew through Rabidus chest. He let out a sickening scream, and scratched for his chest wound, trying to move the huge spike now skewing his internal organs. He let out a final gasp, and then made one more attempt to save himself, but it was in vain.
Rabidus dropped dead a second later, his limp body hitting the floor, the spike pertruding from his back as his cold flesh hit the metal, and making a sickening noise as it shifted itself inside his body on impact. Charon looked down at the look of sheer horror on Rabidus’ scarred, disgusting face as it stared blankly into the abyss. The spike now sticking out of Rabidus’ back was made of pure… ice.
Charon looked up in absolute disbelief to see what he knew he would. It was inevitable. Standing in front of him was what looked like a highly advanced Crey agent. He stood in full, obviously new Crey body armour, painted black and blue. Huge gauntlets were tightly secured on his hands, and a helmet was pushed back so you could see his face. A glow of an advanced force field surrounded his body, huge metal boots made clangs as he tapped his foot on the floor. A jetpack was secured to his back, built into the huge cyro suit he stood in. A horrifying sneer was on his face, his blonde hair swept back away from his eyes. His goggles, as ever, were tightly strapped to his head, his menacing eyes barely visible through the blue glass. From his huge gauntlets extended claws, Claws of pure ice.
“We wouldn’t want him to ruin my big finish.”
“Patrick?” Charon said, completely disbelievingly.
“That’s right, Charon. That’s right.”
Makis, Sable Phoenix, Icelander, Wolf and Charon simply stood, staring in complete disbelief as a dead man stood alive in front of them. Charon had seen his body. He’d seen it, and he’d seen them bury it in the ground. The man that stood in front of him was dead. He was dead like John. He was dead like Skull, Psylex, Joe, ArcLight. They were dead and so was Patrick.
“Now the question you’re all likely asking yourself, and the question I was hoping you’d have asked me by now, is ‘why?’ Seeing as all of you are obviously too dumbstruck to ask, I suppose I’ll just have to tell you.” Ice Claw proclaimed.
He paced up and down in front of the dead body of Rabidus. None of the Bone Squad moved. None of them. These were men and women who would always know what to do, always know what to say. The Bone Squad were the only people in Paragon City who always knew how to get the job done, no matter what the odds, no matter who the enemy. But this time the enemy wasn’t the usual kind.
Ice Claw stopped pacing in front of Charon and shoved his face into Robert’s.
“You know where we are, Robert? Of course you do. We’re in the HQ of the original Bone Squad. We built this together.”
Charon didn’t flinch.
“Until you dropped me.”
“What?” Charon asked, in his simple monotone voice. He’d already figured out what was coming but he thought he’d humor Ice Claw.
“What?! How can you ask that? You pushed me away. You wanted nothing to do with me after they died; strictly business after Mr. D managed to get himself crushed under a bridge, after Omen disappeared, after your golden boy Noctis got his head ripped off by a Rikti. You never were much of a mentor.”
Now Charon flinched.
“So what did you do: Reformed your Bone Squad? But there was no place in it for me. Even when we were in the original Bone Squad, did we ever get thanks, Charon? Did someone ever once stop to say thank you? No. They thought we were the bogey men. People to be scared of. They thought we were the enemy. We were the ones trying to save them! And then, even when I was willing to give them a second chance, you dropped me. I tried to help you, and you dropped me. You’d known me for years, and who did you choose to ally yourself with? These clowns, these pretenders, these god damn second rate wannabes.” Ice Claw was screaming into Charon’s face by the time he was finished with the final sentences, flinging his finger, pointing at Makis, Sable Phoenix, Icelander, Wolf; one by one.
“What did you say it was? ‘Friends get you killed.’ That was your excuse. You couldn’t have personal relationships with your team. Friends get you killed. Well, seems I took that quite literally...” Ice Claw trailed off for a moment, and stared out the window. But in seconds, he whipped his head round and was screaming into Charon’s face once more.
“You didn’t want me in your new Bone Squad, so I did my own thing. I tried going solo. But my own thing was never acknowledged, never. Everything I did, everyone I saved, everyone I helped, you got the credit; you and your Bone Squad… you and these pretenders. I never saw one thank you, received one medal. There was no room for a second rate vigilante in this city. And if it wasn’t you getting my credit, it was somebody else getting more. You turn on the T.V., what do you see: Xanatos beating back the minions of hell; The Imperial saving the galaxy. They never saw what I did. I wanted appreciation. I wanted recognition. I want it now, so I’m taking it... Well, look at your bright and shiny Bone Squad. You were all stupid enough to fall for all of this. I set it all up. The killings, Bone Yard, Xanatos… It has all lead you here to be slaughtered.”
“Killing us makes you a murderer, not a hero.” Sable Phoenix calmly said, the first of the entire Bone Squad to interrupt his rant. “Is that the kind of recognition you want?”
“Are you sure? I’ve had a long time to plan this, bitch. In the public’s eyes, you’ve killed heroes. They didn’t even know who I was when I was alive, but they care now someone’s wasted me.” He smirked. “You’re hero killers, remember? All of you are wanted for the death of every single Fracture victim, every last one of you. If Ice Claw rises from the grave to stop the hero killers, he’ll be hailed as a hero. Then we’ll see who’s on the news.”
“Referring to yourself in the third person now, are you?” Icelander said, flatly.
“Silence!” Ice Claw screamed.
“Saw your body.” Charon said from behind him.
“Yes, it’s genius what they can do isn’t it? I had no idea they had so many shapeshifters working for the Government. I mean, I was expecting him to mimic the voice too, but I ended up having to make that phone call myself, but apart from that, it was…”
“The Government?” He was cut off as Wolf jumped in.
“Ah yes. You didn’t think I could do this alone, did you? I’ve been planning this for years, but I knew I could never do it alone.” He said, staring down at the dead body of one of his accomplices, and then turning to face the other one, Knuckles, who’d backed himself into a corner. “Rabidus wanted revenge for what you did to him, what you did to his face. Remember, the first mission we ever went on as a three man team, you, and me, Mr. D. You threw him from a thirteenth floor window. He landed on a car, if I remember rightly. He survived… but his face went through the windscreen. Knuckles wanted revenge for a few reasons. Twenty years inside comes to mind, but there was also the fact that you took his son from him. Yes, he filled me in on all the details. You never told me Noctis, your little boy wonder, was his son. Well, you got his son killed, and now he wants you dead. I found Rabidus looking for work on the underground mercenary circuit, and I recruited Knuckles for this entire thing fifteen years ago from his prison cell. He was practically foaming at the mouth at the thought of killing you, Robert. I needed people to do my dirty work, cover my tracks. Plus, I needed Knuckles for his mob connections, I needed unmarked guns that looked like they came off the street, I couldn’t use anything that could be traced back to the Government…”
“Hopkins…” Charon muttered.
“Got it in one, Detective.” Ice Claw laughed. “He wants all of you out of the way. Every hero on the planet. He has some sort of God complex, you see…”
“He’s got some kind of God complex? You seen a shrink recently?” Icelander asked.
Ice Claw ignored the comment.
“He hates the idea of anyone being more powerful than him. He doesn’t want anybody on the planet who has the power to stop him, so he’s going to kill you all. This is just the start.” Ice Claw said, turning his back on the Squad.
“Killing us is not ‘killing us all.’ We’re one team in hundreds.” Said Paige McKenzie, Sable Phoenix, always the voice of reason.
“This isn’t all about you, you know. Hopkins had ‘Fracture’ kill one of the Defenders. He knew as soon as it hit close to home, Xanatos would be all over you.” Ice Claw jeered. “But, I knew if he sent Xanatos after you, you’d end up showing him the truth. I’ve been watching Joe for years; I already knew he’d researched where Xan’s brat was living. All I had to do was fill the President in. He sent Xanatos after you, and he dispatched a Crey agent to kill his daughter.”
“How did Hopkins even find out what you were planning?” Wolf jumped in again.
“Ah, ever the inquisitive one. I needed someone to improve my equipment. My original equipment, when I was an unappreciated vigilante that nobody gave a damn about, it was all prototypes, stolen from Crey in a rush when I left. I needed real equipment. I needed technology that would make me capable of killing you all when this moment came. So I went to Crey. I went to Hopkins. He heard me out on my entire plan, and saw the potential… we planned the rest from there.”
“Crey. Killed your father. You hate them.” Charon said, still trying to understand.
“He’s right, you hate them, and they killed your father, that’s why you became a hero in the first…” Sable began, but was cut off.
“I hate you, all of you, no one else!” Ice Claw screamed, and took a breath before continuing.
“My father was killed in the way of progress. He was the man who developed the earliest technology for the suit you see before you. I went back to them because they were the only people who could give me what’s mine… and the only people who could give me what I want, the kind of power I want.”
“But still, this makes no sense, killing us, killing Xanatos’ daughter… how does it equal ‘killing us all’?” Sable asked, again.
“Oh it’s already begun. I heard your old friend Carbine came to you… to try and get your help to find out who killed his team. He knew too much, the raid on 5’s base was largely Crey operatives. You’d have worked it all out far too soon if he’d told you all the little details… we followed him into Bone Yard and took him out the moment you were distracted. So, you see, it’s already happening. Most of the Freedom Phalanx will soon be dead, if they aren’t already. And there are plenty of others, and nobody knows because of the media frenzy you’ve started.” He sneered, and then continued.
“We were planning on ArcLight to betray the Government, show Xan the truth. He’s playing right into our hands with his little revenge attempt, he should be arriving in Washington D.C. any minute now. Statesman will be waiting for him. With any luck they’ll kill each other… And if either of them survive, we’ll just set Crey agents on them in their weakened state, and kill them. And then who’s left? We’ll have killed the most powerful heroes on the planet… The Government, Crey industries, they have the biggest, most advanced, most powerful army in the world… They even have what’s left of the Sky Raiders working for them, the most skilled hero killers ever to live, well, apart from Fracture, of course… Anyway, the rest of you will be helpless.”
“What’s even in this for you? If he’s going to kill all heroes, and this little mission of yours makes you one, then that means you.” Makis stepped forward
“What’s in this for me? I’ll become the most well known hero on the planet, because I’ll be the only one left alive. Crey sponsored, Hopkins’ best friend, I’ll have it all. Appreciation, fame, money, women… Recognition…” Ice Claw said, fading off into a world of his own.
Icelander snapped, “Sounds like someone has abandonment issues. You’re a fool. He’ll kill you too. The second you turn your back, they’ll be a knife in it, you stupid son of a…”
“No!” Ice Claw screamed at him. “I will be the most powerful man alive.”
“Except for Hopkins, and one day, he’ll kill you to make sure you can’t take what he’s got.” Icelander interrupted again.
“No!” Ice Claw screamed again, he was enraged. “Enough! I’ve waited a long time for this…” And his fists became to glow a light blue.
Before Ice Claw began his onslaught, the breaking of glass distracted everyone in the room, turning their eyes towards Knuckles… or where Knuckles used to be. In the heat of the moment, he’d made his escape.
Charon couldn’t let him go. He’d spent most of his life trying to bring the man who killed his fiancée to justice, and he wasn’t letting him go this time. He wasn’t sure the Bone Squad could handle Ice Claw; he wasn’t sure they could handle him in his new tech, with so much more power than ever before. But they’d do what the Bone Squad always did, they’d give it their damn best shot, and they’d have to do it without his help. He had faith in all. He couldn’t let the man he’d been chasing all his life escape again. Not again. This time he was going to die, because not only had he been the man who arranged his fiancée’s death on that bleak night in 1989, but now, he had been responsible for the deaths of his team mates, his comrades… his friends.
He ran across the metal floor, and past Ice Claw.
“No! No! You will die at my hand!” Ice Claw screamed, turning towards Charon to fire on him with his new found, overly powerful gauntlets. But Makis had already foreseen it, and had his desert eagles ready in his hands.
“Not on my watch, mate.”
He, immediately and without thought, opened fire on Ice Claw. Patrick had no choice but to close his helmet just in time to save himself from the bullets, and turn his attention from Charon to Makis. Charon dived from the smashed window and into the cold night air, the wind and the rain, to follow the man who killed his fiancée.
Back inside the old, dank Bone Squad training room, the loud loading of a shotgun was heard, as Makis equipped himself with something more powerful. Icelander’s hands began to glow a deep red, Sable Phoenix ignited, and Wolf snarled, as they prepared to fight Patrick Solomon, once a man they had looked up to, even admired.
Ice Claw began to glow as his personal force field kicked into action, and the only noise they heard over the roar of his starting jetpack, was his manic, insane, echoing laughter, as the battle began.
07-18-2005, 09:15 PM
There was a moment of silence. Kind of like an eerie calm right before a huge storm.
“Take him!” Icelander shouted, breaking the silence that had enveloped the room.
The squad surged forward, each moving into their respective places within a set formation. Old habits die hard, they had learned attack formations years ago and they all still knew them by heart.
Wolf was the fastest of the squad, he sprang forward to initiate the attack. In the blink of an eye he was in the air going for Ice Claw. A screech was heard as sharp claws dug into metal. Wolf’s attack was meant to setup the rest of the team, to give them all time to get into place. Wolf sailed past Ice Claw and landed lightly on the ground, he had succeeded. He had got his attention. Razor sharp shards of ice pelted the ground near Wolf as Ice Claw fired on him from above.
Ice Claw hovered lower to get a better angle on the ever moving and elusive Wolf. Icelander took that opportunity to strike, as he leapt onto Ice Claws back. Ice Claw’s Jet Pack roared louder as it compensated for the additional weight and strived to keep them both airborne. Icelander started to pound at the back of Ice Claw’s helmet, hoping to dent an external panel and gain access to some of the internal wires.
“There you are, I was wondering when you would slink out of the shadows.” Said Ice Claw as he continued to keep the others at bay with his ice weapons.
“Unfortunately, I’m not in the mood for any piggyback riders.” Ice Claw finished.
Ice Claw tapped a few keys on the control panel mounted on his forearm making his suit hum briefly before it released several thousand volts of electricity. Icelander was flung into a nearby wall and then to the ground, knocked nearly unconscious by the electric current.
Sable flew in and met Ice Claw in the air. They grappled for a few seconds before Sable started to take control. The outer shell of Ice Claw’s suit is of the same material that the space shuttle uses, only his was about 5 years more advanced. It can absorb enormous amounts of heat and cold, and transfer that energy into raw power that can be used to operate the electronic aspects of the suit. But even still, Sable was emitting too much heat to contain. The suit was starting to overheat, it couldn’t absorb the heat fast enough.
“Computer, activate.” Ice Claw shouted.
Ice Claw again tapped a new set of commands into his suit. The room lit up and came alive. Apparently, Ice Claw had kept the old Bone Squad training room up to date and functional.
Sable let up for a moment, as she got temporarily distracted. Ice Claw used that moment to escape and fly to safety.
“Computer. Combat situation Zulu-Alpha-Echo.” Ice Claw said as he smirked.
Icelander had gotten to his feet and was ready to rejoin the fight, when he vaguely recognized that combat program. He had never seen it, but had read it over in the program list.
“Some of you might remember this combat simulation. It was originally meant to prepare for the slight chance that one of us might go rogue. We stopped using it because the simulations were a bit overpowered. Well, I’ve improved them since then, given them some artificial intelligence, taken off those silly power inhibitors.” Ice Claw said with a sneer.
“Oh, where are my manners. Bone Squad, I’d like you to meet my simulations of Charon and Mr. D. Both of them with the reflexes and knowledge of the originals, while they were still in their prime. Enjoy.” Ice Claw finished.
He wasn’t bluffing, standing on the far side of the room was an exactly look alike of Charon and Mr. D. Granted this Charon was slimmer, and looked much more agile and light on his feet. In fact this was the Charon that he had known 20 years ago. Charon, in his prime.
“Look, we’re going to have to pair off. Sable, take Mr. D. Makis and Wolf, that leaves you to keep Ice Claw busy.” Icelander quickly stated.
“You’re going to take the Charon look-a-like?” Asked Makis.
“Sure, I’ve wanted to bring him down a peg or two for decades now.” Icelander replied.
With that the others moved off to their respective opponents and Icelander moved off to meet the Charon simulation. Icelander stopped 10 feet in front of Charon, sizing up his competition. Physically, Icelander was still in his prime. His alien heritage had allowed him to age incredibly slow here on earth. But even in his prime, could he take Charon? It was a question that had actually haunted him for years.
They circled each other, Charon of course, had his staff. That was not a good thing. First order of business was not to get hit by the staff. Everything else would come naturally. As a test, Icelander feinted as if he was going to rush in. Charon didn’t flinch…bad sign.
Charon made the first move, a hard overhand strike with his staff. It came fast, almost to fast to dodge. Icelander dove to his left, did a short roll and was back on his feet. Charon was already into his next attack, a sharp kick to the solar plexus knocked the wind out of Icelander.
Icelander recovered quickly, and launched his own attack. Punch after punch found nothing but air, as Charon silently dodged, ducked and blocked everything thrown at him. Charon finally countered with an elbow to Icelander’s left side that put him on his back.
Charon stood over Icelander and raised his staff, ready to deliver the final blow.
"Weak on left side. Always were." Charon said in his usual monotone voice.
That was the moment. With Charon standing over him, with his staff raised above his head, while Icelander tasted his own blood, that was the moment that he wished he had followed his first instincts.
He should have picked the Mr. D simulation instead.
07-21-2005, 01:05 AM
The rain lashed across his mask as he ran through the darkness, only the dim glow of a few flickering street lights giving him any kind of view in the darkness, since he had lost his night vision deep in the tunnels of Bone Yard. He had to be out here somewhere. Charon wasn’t going to let him go again. Not this time.
The rain obstructed his every sense. Usually he’d be entirely alert. Well, originally he’d have been entirely alert. As of the last ten years or so, his senses and instinct were worsening. He often found himself being wrong, in fact, though he never chose to admit it. But tonight, things were even worse than they usually were in his growing age. As he looked out over the watery, shadowy concrete jungle that was the Row, his eyes were completely obscured, and trying to pick out one figure in the darkness was going to be impossible.
He couldn’t have gotten far. Charon followed him immediately out of the window, and Knuckles, although a good fighter, he was just that; he was a fighter, a slugger, he wasn’t fast. His M.O. was hitting hard, it wasn’t stealth, and it wasn’t fast movement. Although Charon wasn’t as quick as he used to be, and more and more he was relying on brute strength, rather than the agile quickness he used to have, he knew he was still faster than Knuckles; A lot faster than Knuckles. He was out here somewhere; all he had to do was find him, and find him he would.
He jumped the next rooftop, as the clouds rumbled over King’s Row with wrathful vengeance. Lightning struck in the distance, and then all that could be heard was the rain crashing against the concrete in the desolate seconds that passed before the thunder rumbled like a raging god across Paragon City.
And then, the world seemed to fall silent. The rain was still ferociously lashing down on the Row, Paragon’s bastard child, and the wind was still ripping across the tenement blocks; The thunder still rumbled in the distance, and occasionally violently overhead. But, the world fell deathly silent to Charon as he listened in the darkness. He blocked out every other noise, and listened. He heard it; A safety catch, and then a trigger. He wasn’t fast enough. Ten years ago, maybe five at a stretch, and he’d have been on the floor before the bullet left the gun. But now, here, in this wasteland he’d called home all his life, he wasn’t fast enough. He managed to move far enough that the bullet would miss his broken heart, but it pierced his shoulder at lightning speeds. He gave out a painful grunt, before the noises of the rest of the world returned to him, and the rain once again whipped his face.
The blood poured over his chest as he looked up to the direction of the gun fire. He regretted giving up the Kevlar in the interest of stealth, years ago, in times when he was still young and able. The figure was walking towards him, just a silhouette in the dank twilight, soaked with the rain. The shadow raised it’s pistol again, a loosened tie finally giving up, and flying away from the silhouette’s neck in the wind. The gun fired. Charon, once again was not fast enough to move. As he leant on his left knee to keep himself steady, a bullet ripped through his thigh, and then disappeared into the rain on the other side of the rooftop, likely to be scavenged by the wretched Vahziclocks, as the residents who were still stupid enough to be living in the Row called them, who were silently skulking in the shadows down below. Charon didn't fight back. For some reason, he was simply giving up. Death, he realised, was possibly what he longed for.
The silhouette came within the short distance Charon was able to see in. Frank LaRusso was drenched in the rain. His hair was flat, moulded to his raging face, his angered expression twisted with the rage that lay just behind his eyes. And that’s when it hit him. In those eyes, Charon saw it. This was same look Charon saw in his own when he looked in the mirror every morning. The same look every goon, minion, gangster, arch villain and global threat saw in his eyes, the same look that terrified every one of them. He saw the same look that Sable Phoenix had seen every time she had seen him without the mask; the look that was the one thing most of the Bone Squad was missing, that one thing that was what separated them from him. He saw the look, a look of pure wrath. It hit him hard to realise Knuckles felt exactly the same way about Charon that he felt about Knuckles. Knuckles had ripped Charon’s fiancée away from him, but Charon had, although not purposefully, taken Frank LaRusso’s son. An eye for an eye.
Charon winced with pain as he realised that he was facing a man that was exactly the same as him, deep on the inside; A man with nothing to lose anymore, willing to kill. He realised solemnly, that one, or both of them, was going to leave his rooftop in a body bag. And, Robert Black felt the first bit of fear he had felt for 35 years, because for the first time in his entire career, Charon couldn’t be sure it wasn’t going to be him.
The fist connected with his jaw at an incredibly fast pace, sending Charon’s face straight down into the wet concrete, as lightning lit up the sky, and he caught a full look at the man that stood over him. Knuckles was going gray, he was older than Charon by five years or so, and it showed. His shirt was torn, his tie missing, wrinkles lined his face and a world-weariness surrounded his enraged eyes. He lived for one thing now, the same thing Charon lived for. Vendetta.
The boot landed in Charon’s mid-section, flipping him over on to his back. Charon coughed, and he felt the taste of a mix of blood and bile gurgling somewhere at the back of his throat. The world spun slightly as his blood poured onto the rooftop, mixing with the rain water to make some kind of vile cocktail. He struggled to see. Not just because of the rain anymore, but because he was slowly blacking out.
Knuckles didn’t say a word; he just raised the pistol, and aimed for Charon’s head. This was the end. This was the sweet release, for both of them.
07-26-2005, 08:17 PM
Yet another heavy fist landed upon Sable Phoenix, knocking her through yet another wall. Mr. D’s power was immense, far more than she had suspected. Sable was growing weak, being in constant contact with him and the suffocating poison that he naturally emitted was sapping her strength, making her weaker with every heavy handed blow Mr. D struck with.
Sable, stood up on wobbly legs. Her strength leaving her more and more with each passing second. Through her blurred and fuzzy vision, she saw him coming. The green juggernaut sprinted through the jagged concrete hole that he had just sent Sable flying through. Without slowing down for a second, Mr. D lowered his shoulder and plowed straight into Sable, they both crashed into the far wall, with Sable taking the brunt of the blow. Mr. D, took a step back from the wall, letting Sable fall to the ground in the small pile of rubble from the half destroyed wall.
Sable stood up, she was fighting a two front battle. The physical battle with Mr. D, and the more exhausting battle from within, with the Phoenix. She had been getting mental images and disturbing visions ever since Charon had dove out of the window to chase after Knuckles. These visions were growing stronger as time passed. The Mr. D simulation didn’t care.
“Lets rock and roll.” Mr. D challenged as he beckoned Sable to attack with is index finger.
Sable ignited in flame and shot at her attacker with the speed of a low range missile. Mr. D braced himself and stood his ground, the collision was enough to shatter nearby windows and cause loose rubble to shake on the ground. Sable didn’t stop, she kept pushing even after hitting him. Mr. D being driven back while his boots dug into the cement, ripping the hardened cement to pieces under the intense load. Every second that Sable was in contact with him weakened her further, his poisonous emissions were slowly choking her, clogging her airways and infecting her body. Even the Phoenix couldn’t dispose of all the intense poison that was being emitted.
Sable changed direction while taking a grip on Mr. D’s neck and flying them both up towards the rafters before she flung him through a nearby wall at incredible speed. The solid steel concrete filled wall was no match, it exploded and gave way as Mr. D rocketed past it and into the next room.
Sable slowly floated down to the ground, quickly trying to recover from the effects of the poison. Her vision was blurry and fuzzy, she barely made out the black and green blur that was hurtling towards her. Mr. D landed a solid uppercut that sent Sable flying, that same blow would have surely stopped an incoming train.
Sable landed in a broken heap, some 30 yards away. The Phoenix franticly trying to repair her broken body before the next assault came. Then the vision came.
Sable was there, with Charon on a rain soaked rooftop, lightning flashing in the sky, followed by thunder so loud and hard that it made the ground shake. Darkness was absolute, as well as the silence. A small flash of light, intense pain followed soon after. The wet, puddle filled ground filling her vision. A dark silhouette melted out of the shadows and was revealed in the twilight night.
Another bright flash, more pain, more intense than the last one as the bullet tore through flesh. A strong punch had Charon back on the ground. An odd calm took over Charon’s body language, like he knew it was over. The ride was finally coming to a stop and he could stop struggling now. He could finally go home.
Sable was crying, not something that she usually did. But she knew what was about to happen. She was about to lose him. Straining to maintain this odd telepathic connection, she mental reached out and spoke.
"Robert.... Bobby, why are you giving up?"
Then the vision ended as abruptly as it began. Her eyes focused and returned to the present, only to see a very formidable Mr. D making his way towards her through the fallen and broken rubble.
Sable opened up, totally and completely to the Phoenix. Every sense in her body magnified past where it had ever been before. He wounds healed faster than could be seen by the naked eye. The flames surrounding her body flared and burned brighter than before. This had to end, now.
Sable reached out and grabbed him, slamming him into the nearby wall and holding him there. He struggled but found that he no longer had the upper hand in strength. His poison gas emissions were being burned and turned into waste the second they left his body. The fire surrounding both of them continued to get hotter, Sable’s eyes were no longer orange with flame, they were pure white as her entire body finally let loose with a fiery explosion that melted through concrete, steel support beams and everything else in the nearby vicinity. The inferno blaze was so hot that solid reinforced steel had turned into liquid and was now a huge silvery pool on the floor.
Mr. D was gone, the fire had been so hot that there weren’t even ashes. Everything had been instantly disintegrated. Sable was left momentarily depleted as she recovered from the monstrous inferno that she had unleashed. The phoenix slowly retreated into the back of her mind as it sought to heal it’s wounds and recuperate. Sable’s eyes slowly lost their glow, her body flames slowly dissipated to a flicker and then to a puff of smoke as they went out. It was only then that Sable started to feel the pain that she had inflicted on her body, only then did her thoughts return to Charon. She was eager to find him, to help him. But she could do nothing, she was completely drained, mentally and physically. She slowly lowered her head back down to the floor where she had had laid down.
“Don’t give up Robert. Don’t give up.” Sable whispered softly out loud to herself as she closed her eyes to focus on recovering.
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The wooden staff crashed down to hit the cement slab floor as Icelander rolled away to his left and hopped to his feet.
They both circled. Each of them looking for the slightest opening, the slightest hesitation or misstep in the other. It was a dance. A fast and brutal one, but a dance nonetheless. Each action taken by one, was reversed and countered by the other, both of them testing each others defense, reaction time and coordination. Body language was everything, the slightest drop of a shoulder, the pivot of a foot, a narrowing of the eyes. Everything was being observed and sorted by both combatants and stored away in their minds for future use.
Strikes were delivered, blocked and parried faster than most normal people could visually follow, every sense in their bodies were alive. Eyes were in constant motion, trying to highlight a weak spot in the others defense. Ears were straining to hear the sharp but almost silent intake of breath that would signal an incoming attack. Muscles were tensed and bunched, ready to react and move the body as fast as possible in any direction.
Physically, they were equal. Their fighting styles differed. Even though this Charon was modeled after a younger, slimmer, more agile version of the original, he still relied on strength in his attacks. He was a street fighter, a very fast and nimble one but he still relied on power attacks and power blocks to get him through.
Icelander was finesse, keeping ones youth for an extended period of time allowed for a lot of training. Various forms of Martial Arts were used in his fighting, mainly fast nerve strikes, joint locks and deflection defensive maneuvers. He preferred speed and elusiveness over power. It was becoming obvious that they were about equal in combat abilities, one of them would have to adapt, to change the battle in his favor.
Even though they often get lumped together as the same, there was a huge difference between Icelander and Charon. Deep down, Charon was essentially a good person that wanted to do the right thing, where as Icelander just didn’t give a damn.
A sharp kick to the groin was sufficient to back Charon up and to put a slight smirk on Icelander’s face.
“I see you’re still weak to dirty tactics.” Icelander quipped.
A high powerful kick aimed for Icelander’s head hit nothing but air as he dove to his left and rolled into a crouch.
Icelander scooped up a handful of dirt and rubble as he stood up, he then proceeded to throw it directly in Charon’s face. Charon dropped his staff and frantically rubbed the dirt out of his eyes, he did so just in time to see a blue-gloved fist smash into his nose.
“It’s obvious that you’re a simulation. I doubt even the real Charon would have fallen for that.” Said Icelander, as he landed two more quick blows to his opponents jaw.
With a low growl, Charon dove at Icelander and unleashed a flurry of kicks, punches and knees. The majority of which were deflected, blocked or dodged.
Icelander let out a fake, mocking laugh.
“I have no idea what I was so worried about. This is almost to easy.” Icelander said in mock amazement.
Charon increased his attacks, each punch and kick growing more and more wild and emotion driven. Icelander easily saw the telegraphed attacks coming, and was able to avoid them, all the while keeping up his psychological attack on the fake Charon’s mind.
“I wonder, if you were this pathetic back then?” Icelander questioned while dodging several punches and elbows that would have surely broken bones.
Icelander disengaged from the battle and took a few steps back, to give himself some distance.
“You know…when they killed Maria right in front of you.” Finished Icelander.
For a moment there was no reaction, Icelander wondered for a second if Ice Claw’s A.I. program didn’t take into account emotional memories.
Charon finally let out a animal like roar of rage before he sprinted towards Icelander.
The real Charon would have never let himself be goaded into an emotional rage, this was the flaw in computer programs, they can only simulate so much.
Icelander sidestepped the wild punch sent his way and countered with a hard and impeccably accurate elbow that crushed the simulations skull at it’s weakest point, where the base of the skull meets the neck.
The simulation sputtered for a few moments before an electric arc shot from it’s skull and it short-circuited as it dropped limply to the hard cement floor.
07-29-2005, 02:00 AM
"Robert... Bobby, why are you giving up?"
It shot through his mind like the pain of a thousand burning needles as his face buried into the concrete of the rooftop. A voice was speaking directly into his mind, asking him why he was throwing it all away. Why he had spent his life fighting for this, and now he was just lying on a rooftop, waiting for a bullet to rip his life away from him. He could think of only one explanation; It was her. He knew it. She was talking to him. But how? She was dead. She was gone. She'd been dead for thirty five years.
But that's all it took. It didn't matter if she was really talking or if he was just delusional. He couldn't be sure if it was even her voice. He was under so much pain from the gun shot wounds, and he'd already taken quite a beating to the head. He was distracted, at best, and completely delusional, at worst. But, that's all it took. He remembered why he was here, on this rooftop, with the rain crashing down upon his head, his staff lying just yards away from him, and why he had hundreds of lethal weapons strapped to his torso. He was here for her. He was her revenge. Her vengeance. He was on this rooftop because his entire life had led him here. Everything that he was. Everything that he had done.
And to think, he'd almost given up on it all.
He could feel the gun on the back of his head. He assessed the angle at which it was pointed. He'd have to move and he'd have to move fast. Although he wasn't actually in physical contact with the barrel, he'd spent his life with guns being pointed in his general direction, he'd learnt to tell where the entry and exit wounds would be, whether they would be escapable, and where was the best place to get shot if it was an absolute necessity. In his entire career, he'd been shot sixty three times, and this time he knew that if the gun went off at that precise moment, he was a dead man. And so the choice was made.
The staff was in his hands before Knuckles even blinked. It shot up and knocked the Colt 45. clean from his hands, sending it soaring to the side of the rooftop. Charon was unusually slow, due to the gunshot wounds, and by the time Charon had flicked the staff around for a further assault, Knuckles was ready.
He weaved as the staff swung for his head, bobbing beneath it and compeletly ducking the shot that, if connected, probably would have taken his head from his shoulders. He came up fast, and delivered two stunningly fast fists to Charon's two gunshot wounds. Charon yelled out in the darkness and the staff fell to the floor as he grabbed for his wounds, giving Knuckles the chance for the suckerpunch of a lifetime, breaking Charon's jaw with his metal knuckles and sending him reeling backwards. Knuckles let out a laugh in the darkness, as lightning flashed behind him. Seconds later, as the thunder ripped over the Row, Knuckles threw Charon's most valuable weapon off the rooftop and into the dark alleyways below.
They came in thick and fast. Fists from all directions. Charon was trying to block as many as possible, using his forearms to parry as many as he was fast enough to catch, but he was too slow, too warn out.to get all of them. Every now and then a devestating punch would connect with the midsection, breaking a rib. He'd heard at least two cracks now. At least.
Charon's counter attacks, however, lacked none of their usual power. Yes, he had lost his speed to the bullets in his shoulder and leg, but his raw power remained. As soon as he saw a break in Knuckle's attack, he pushed a devestating uppercut into Knuckles' nose, blasting blood into his eyes and sending him flying to the ground. Charon saw his oppertunity, and as quick as he could limp, advanced on Knuckles body on the floor, laying his boot into Knuckles' stomach. Once, and with a crack a rib broke. Twice, and with a blood curdling scream, another snapped. Payback.
Knuckles didn't stay down for long, however. He blocked the next high powered boot, and grabbed Charon's ankles, pulling them from underneath him and sending him flying to the ground as Frank LaRusso launched himself back to his feet. Nursing his ribs, he advanced on Charon again. Knuckles was no stranger to fighting dirty, and often used whatever came to hand in a fight. And whatever came to hand this particular time, was a stray brick lying on the rooftop.
It slammed down where his head used to be with lightning speed. Charon had moved just in time to avoid his skull being mashed into the concrete. Again he moved as the brick met the rooftop with a thud loud enough to rival the thunder up ahead. Or, at least in Charon's mind. Over the years he had learnt to channel out background noise during fights. This meant he could assess every movement, every attack, every click of a trigger. Unlike Icelander, he couldn't rely on smell. Instead, he relied on his hearing. Everything could be heard if you listened hard enough. This was especially important right now. Charon's eyes were completely blurred due to a mixture of factors, and a mixture of bodily fluids, all of them obstructing his view. Now, his hearing was more important than ever, and Charon thanked some God he didn't believe in for his amazing hearing, as he heard the whistle of the brick as Knuckles brought it slamming down on the rooftop again.
Charon rolled backwards and launched himself to his feet. Years ago, he'd have just been able to ignore the pain. Another thing he'd trained himself to do during fights, was to simply concentrate on adrenaline. When it was pumping and he was in a fight that could easily be to the death, there was no trouble ignoring the pain he may have endured from a stab wound or two, and possibly a non lethal gun shot. But now, he was old, it was getting impossible to ignore the gun shots, the knife wounds, the heavy impacts, the broken ribs, and for all he'd been concentrating since the moment he was first shot, he hadn't been able to channel out one little bit of the raging agony that burned in his leg and shoulder.
Knuckles dived for him again, one fist raised, one holding the brick firmly in his hand ready for another assault, but Charon was ready for him. He ducked out of the way, letting Knuckles soar past. Just as he past Charon, he ripped a throwing from his utility belt and buried it in Knuckles' kidney. He screamed out, and grabbed for the sharp object skewing his vital organ. He groped for it, but was unable to pull it out, and before he knew it, Charon was upon him, slamming knife after knife through the skin and into Knuckles' back. He screamed out into the night sky, but no one could hear him. No one through the wind, the rain, the thunder and the sirens drifting somewhere over the rooftops, where lights flickered in windows in the distance. No one could help him now.
He collapsed to the floor, and Charon was upon him in seconds. Charon's fists connected with Knuckles' face, over and over again. Blood now stained both of them all over, a vile mixture between their two vital fluids. Charon finally stopped slamming fists into his head, and placed his hands around Knuckles' neck.
Knuckles' neck was crushing under the pressure. Charon could feel it under his grip slowly giving way. Charon stopped paying attention to anything else, he just leaned over Frank LaRusso and looked into his eyes as he choked the life from inside of him. Knuckles rasped for breath, his arms flailed. Charon was so engrossed in watching him die, so obsessed with looking into the eyes of Maria's murderer, that he didn't realise Knuckles had groped the rooftop for his gun, and secured a grip on it.
It fired, but Charon didn't stop. The bullet ripped through his stomach, a mixture of blood and bile leaking out onto his costume. But he kept choking. It fired again, puncturing Charon's lung and making breathing an impossible task now for the both of them. He kept choking. Again the gun fired, but this time out into the night, missing Charon by inches as Knuckles' arms swung around wildly. He rasped for breath once more, and managed to mouth the words 'my son,' before his hands dropped limp to the rooftop, he stopped struggling, and it was all over.
08-05-2005, 12:45 AM
The Squad regrouped, and faced Ice Claw together, as a team.
Ice Claw clapped his hands mockingly.
“Isn’t this poetic. The Bone Squad is finally working together as a team. How pathetic.” Ice Claw said with a sneer.
“Says the man that hangs around with simulations of his former teammates.” Icelander replied.
Ice Claw frowned and snorted in disgust.
“You’re about to learn your place alien.” Ice Claw shouted in rage as he raised his gauntlets and prepared to fire.
Icelander quickly formed a ice shield to protect the group as Ice Claw fired dozens of razor sharp ice daggers.
“Go!” Makis shouted.
Wolf bounded off several nearby wooden crates and closed the distance in seconds, but Ice Claw was ready. Wolf was sent flying in the opposite direction and into several oil drums that were stacked in the corner as Ice Claw hit him with a repulsion field.
Ice Claw turned completely around just in time to catch Icelander lunging at him from the shadows. Ice Claw caught Icelander in mid air by his throat and flung him into the far wall on the other side of the room.
Sable swooped down from the high rafters like a huge flaming missile from hell. Ice Claw raised his forearm gauntlets and fired weighted net at her, which she flew directly into. Ice Claw pulled the wire that was still connected to his gauntlets, causing the net to tighten and enclose Sable. She struggled and fought but oddly enough, she couldn’t melt the simple looking net. Eventually she floated back down to the ground.
“Legend has it that the net was forged by ancient Greek gods to ensnare all those that opposed them. In short, the rope is magic, it can’t be cut or burned. Even you can’t burn through it. Goodbye, Sable Phoenix.” Ice Claw said as he raised his gauntlets and prepared to fire the death shot at Sable.
“Not today, Mate.” Makis shouted, as he fired shot after flawless shot at Ice Claw.
Each shot forcing Ice Claw to back up, but bouncing off his armor plated suit. Makis soon depleted both of his clips, and was forced to take cover so he could reload. Ice Claw lowered his hands from his face and quickly tapped a few keys on his gauntlets.
“My turn.” Said Ice Claw, as he aimed at the huge wooden crate that Makis had took cover behind.
Razor sharp Ice shards ripped through the wooden crate like it was paper, offering no cover at all. Several shards found their target and hit Makis with the force of a bullet, causing him to be pitched forward and land on the hard concrete floor. The remains of the wooden crate was violently shoved aside as Ice Claw made his way to finish what he started and put an end to the cocky marksman.
Ice Claw was blindsided by Icelander before he could carry out his task. They both locked hands in a crazy, life and death battle of strength. Ice Claw’s suit giving him the much needed edge in power he needed to slowly force Icelander to his knees.
“Why not just give up? Why knowingly fight a battle that you must realize you can’t win?” Ice Claw asked as he effortlessly overpowered Icelander.
Icelander dug deep. Deep into a part of himself that he didn’t know existed, the part of his self that would rather die than admit defeat. What came over him was what most humans would call a “second wind”, he preferred to call it…determination.
Icelander’s arms shaking from the exertion, he slowly rose from his knees, finding and exerting power in himself that no one knew he had. Especially Ice Claw, who was finding himself slowly but surely losing a position of superior leverage.
“What… What do you… What do you think you’re doing?” Asked Ice Claw in surprise.
Icelander rose to his full height, and with a wince of pain and much grinding of his teeth, he shoved Ice Claw into the wall.
“It’s called winning.” Icelander replied.
With a flick of his wrist, he showed his name sake. Two razor sharp claws, made entirely of rock solid ice. Icelander glanced at the new weapons Ice Claw produced and narrowed his eyes.
Ice Claws suit made him inhumanly fast, his attacks came without warning and with little to no time for counter attacks. Icelander ducked, dodged and deflected the blows for as long as his already waning endurance could muster. All it took was one misstep, a half second hesitation, the same amount of time it takes most people to blink for Ice Claw to capitalize. His razor sharp claws easily sunk into Icelander’s right shoulder, it took a lot of restraint to keep him from screaming as the claws ripped into his flesh. Ice Claw then sunk the other set of claws into Icelander’s left shoulder, this time he was unable to hold back the reaction. Icelander yelled out in pain.
Ice Claw quickly withdrew one set of claws from Icelander’s shoulder, only to sink them up to the hilt in his stomach. Icelander couldn’t even get the breath to yell out anymore, all he could do was stare down at the claws that were so covered in his own blood that a shallow puddle of dark red blood had formed on the ground beneath him. Ice Claw pulled his claws out for the final time and stabbed Icelander yet again.
“I want you to remember this when you die, remember my face alien. I want it to be the last thing you recall before you go straight to hell.” Sneered Ice Claw as he cruelly twisted his claws while they were still in the wound doing even more massive internal damage.
“Be gone.” Ice Claw finally said as he tossed Icelander away like a bag of trash.
Icelander slid several dozen feet before finally coming to a rest in a dirty puddle of water on the aged concrete floor. He wasn’t moving anymore.
“You son of a bitch!” Makis screamed out.
Makis, along with Wolf went into action. The sound of metal on metal rang out as round after round found their home on Ice Claw’s armored suit. Even with it’s armor, it couldn’t stand up to prolonged point blank range gun shots. It started to crack and break off as repeated shots hit their mark.
Wolf leaped in with a snarl, clawing and kicking with savage force. Ice Claw was being overwhelmed. It was then that he decided to take this to higher ground. Ice Claw grabbed Wolf by the neck and activated his jet pack, which roared to life with the sound of two twin turbo mini-jet engines.
“Lets take this outside, shall we?” Said Ice claw as both he and Wolf rocketed through the roof skylight into the pouring rain and flashing lightning of the run down slums of Kings Row.
With a quick backhand, Wolf was launched backwards onto the rooftop. With the agility of someone less than half his size, Wolf landed on his feet and quickly skidded to a stop. Ice Claw shut off his jet pack as he softly landed on the roof.
“Let’s finish this.” Wolf snarled, as he leaned into a crouch and his claws sprang out from their sheath on the back of his hand. His eyes burning a bright green.
Ice Claw sprinted towards him, claws at the ready. Wolf leapt forward, picking up incredible speed in such a short distance
They met halfway, claws clanging together as they swiped at each other. Both of them inhumanly fast, both able to slice through 6” concrete with a single blow. But Wolf was all natural. He relied on nothing but instinct and his own body.
Ice Claw relied on technology, which even though it was top notch, had it’s limits. Wolf claws began to tear through his layers of armor, temperature protection and electrical wires. Until finally, Wolf smelled blood. He had sliced Ice Claw deeply in the chest, all the way down to the bone.
Ice Claw stared down in amazement at the penetration, before another quickly tore through his lower stomach. Ice Claw cursed in pain as he quickly enveloped Wolf in a tight bear hug. Immediately, high voltage surged from the outer shell of the suit, causing Wolf to roar in pain as he was convulsing in uncontrolled muscle spasms.
Ice Claw kept the voltage going until finally his suit ran out of power to sustain the charge. Wolf limply dropped to the wet rooftop unconscious as the rain beat down upon both of them.
Ice Claw stumbled backwards, leaving a trail of blood in the puddle covered roof, his breathing became labored. He was losing a lot of blood, he had to get some medical attention. He clumsily turned around and prepared to activate his jet pack when he came face to face with Makis.
Ice Claw looked down to see the barrel of the gun at the opening in his armor, directly in the middle of his chest. The gunshot was muffled due to all the rain, but the sound was still almost deafening. Ice Claw didn’t even feel the pain, but a second later he lost the feeling in his legs and quickly collapsed into a puddle on his knees, splashing water at his sides.
Ice Claw feebly looked up, the moon was a fitting backdrop as Makis stepped forward, his frame only a silhouette in the darkness of the night. Makis slowly raised his gun and placed the barrel directly in the center of Ice Claw’s forehead.
“You can’t do this…You’re…You’re a…hero.” Ice Claw whispered as his lungs began to fail him.
Makis halted for as second, before pressing the barrel harder into Ice Claw’s forehead.
“Save it for Statesman...” Makis replied in a low voice.
Ice Claw, closed his eyes and slumped in defeat. He didn’t even hear the shot that that ended his life.
08-05-2005, 07:16 PM
He couldn't die here.
It was over now. He slumped back and looked at the body of Frank LaRusso as it lay dormant on the rooftop in King's Row. A look of terror was frozen on his face, but it was slowly fading as the muscles in his face relaxed. Charon, through his blurred vision, obscured by blood, rain water, and the fact that he had been shot four times, observed his life's work. This was it. This was his materpeice.
This was the body of a man he had fought tens of times in his life. Thinking about it he could total up forty eight times he had fought this man. But then again, he was in an extreme amount of excruciating pain, and he couldn't be sure if that was the right number. It could have been more or less. He thought over those times. He remembered the very first time he had fought a younger, faster, stronger Knuckles in the vault room of a casino, with Mr. D and Ice Claw at his side. He had beat them, with the help of a few of his henchmen and then made his escape. He thought back on the night he sent Knuckles to jail. They fought in Knuckles' own house, his very living quarters. Charon had taken a bullet or two that night, too. But not like tonight. Because unlike that night twenty years ago, at the end of the fight, Knuckles lay dead infront of him, and his masterpeice was complete.
It might sound insane, but it was true. Lying there, as the lightning lit up the sky, and small puddles started to form around him, was the dead body of Frank LaRusso, and this was Robert Ian Black's life work. Vincent Van Gough had his 'Starry Night.' Leonardo da Vinci had 'The Last Supper.' Robert Ian Black had the limp, lifeless, beaten, battered and finally dead body of Frank LaRusso. His nemisis. His ambition. His life.
But the fact remained, he couldn't die here. He didn't want to die next to the body of the man he had spent his life trying to bring to justice in one way or another. It was a funny word that, 'justice.' Twenty years ago, Charon had settled for the 'right' kind of justice. The kind of justice where he let a court and jury make the right decision. And the right decision they made, with Charon by night making sure they weren't bribed, threatened, or otherwise interfered with. Knuckles was given a life sentence, and the proverbial book was thrown at him with all the force the judge could muster with the small thought at the back of his mind that this decision may lead to his death. But with Charon's help, it didn't. The judge lived to a ripe old age and died in his bed at the age of seventy eight. The judge had made the right decision, but Frank LaRusso had still managed to find his way out. Twice. The first time he somehow managed to get out with the help of a man Charon used to call his friend and associate, and with whom he often worked when he did some work as a hero, along with his 'agents.' This man was Sebastian Kain. Charon didn't call the politician, hero, and part-time demon his friend for long afterwards, once he found out who was behind the plot. However, Knuckles ended up back in jail inside of two years, after rebuilding his empire. But he got out. Again. And caused many of Charon's team-mates... Friends, to die. Again. Frank 'Knuckles' LaRusso wasn't fit... Even worthy, to die next to.
Charon stood up with the last of the energy he could muster, and slowly limped towards to fire escape at the side of the building. He had trouble staying on his feet, as even without the wind and the rain obscuring his vision and senses, the world was spinning infront of him, and he kept losing his vision entirely for small amounts of time. But he managed to stay on his feet all the way down the fire escape, and on to the streets of the Gish.
He wasn't far from where he needed to be. He knew this city zone like he knew every hero in it. Their every move, tactic, friend, family member. He knew them all in case they ever became a threat to him, and he knew this city zone in exactly the same way. He knew exactly where he was, and he knew exactly where he needed to be.
He limped slightly. Although the pain was slowly dying away as he did, he still was completely unable to walk on his left leg, a bullet hole still spewing blood from the inside. He had one hand firmly held over his stomach, trying to stop the constant leak of blood and bile, just for a while, he only needed to stop the bleeding for a few minutes, and then it could bleed into eternity for all he cared. Just until he got there. He didn't want to collapse until he got there, he couldn't let that happen. His other hand was held out for balance. If he didn't balance himself, he was going to fall flat on his face, and he knew if he fell there was not a chance in hell he was getting back up, and there was simply no way he wanted to die an anonymous man on an anonymous street. He had to get somewhere that meant somewhere to him. He had to get back to where he was born.
It was becoming hard going. Most men would have died with the first gun shot. The second, maybe the third. But for Charon, being shot was all a part of the job description. But he had never been shot this many times, and he had never been shot in vital organs before. He could last longer than your average man, but he knew he couldn't last forever, and he had to keep moving.
The sun was begining to rise somewhere underneath the clouds. It was around about five thirty now. But the rain was still crashing down, the lightning still screaming out relentlessly in the distance. And then he saw it. High Park.
It wasn't far from here. He was maybe fifty yards away, that was all. He kept walking, trying to pick up his speed and failing. He had to get there before it was too late. He became slightly quicker, knowing that he didn't have much time left. With about ten yards to go, he hit the floor, unable to walk anymore, his wounded leg in too much pain and his other simply giving way under the strain of his failing bodily systems. He didn't stop though, he began to drag himself futher. Five yards. Two. And there it was.
The alley was dark still as Charon dragged himself into it, but the rain stopped as his almost lifeless body came to a halt in the middle. The sky began to lighten over time. Robert Black didn't know how long he lay there. In the alley where Maria DeMarco died, and the alley in which Charon... He, was born.
They say your life flashes before your eyes before you die. It's a cliche, and it's only partly true. No, the people that were in it flash before your eyes. The ones that are gone. The ones that are still here. The ones that will miss you. The ones that won't. The important ones. The insignificant ones. The ones you saw everyday to the ones you thought about everyday. The ones you saw once or a million times. Every person. Maria DeMarco. Frank LaRusso. John Richards. Michael Kay. Paige McKenzie.... Maria.
No remorse. No mercy. No regrets.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he heard a woman sob, as he finally let go, and he finally felt free.
08-05-2005, 07:50 PM
They saw him crawl into the darkness of the alleyway. All four of them rushed to the scene. Sable was the first there, quickly dropping to her knees beside him. He was a mess. Blood was everywhere, he was lying on his back in the puddle covered, dirty alley.
Makis, Wolf slowly walked into the alleyway behind Sable, they both helped carry a dizzy and barely conscious Icelander. It was almost impossible to believe that this was Charon laying there. His eyes just tiny slits as he winced in pain.
Sable let loose with a loud sob just as Charon went totally still.
The rain miraculously let up at that very second. The first ray of sunlight peeked over the run down Kings Row buildings as morning fought it’s way through the clouds. The only sound that could be heard in the alleyway was Sable’s sorrowful sobbing.
Makis lowered himself to his knees beside Sable and put his hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort not only her, but himself.
Wolf lowered his head, reflecting on the friend he had just lost.
Icelander painfully kneeled down, with a soft grunt of intense pain and dropped to his knees on the other side of Sable. He took one of Sable’s hands gently in his own and held it as they all looked on at the now empty shell, of what once was one of the greatest heroes Paragon City had ever known. Even more than that, they all mourned for a friend.
The last members of The Bone Squad stood in a circle. They all wore civilian clothes. No masks, no Kevlar and no weapons. They were just ordinary people.
The low-key, silent funeral had ended. Workers were filling the grave, adding back all the dirt that had been dug up to allow the all black coffin to finally rest, six feet below ground. Charon’s death had made more of an impact on Icelander than he would have thought possible. If someone as stubborn and pigheaded as Charon could die, then anybody could. Icelander had come close, even now he was in intense pain from the multiple stab wounds that were still freshly bandaged. He had two cracked ribs and a fractured sternum. Still, all considered he felt good. It was good to be alive.
It wasn’t until he was gone that Icelander realized exactly what Charon was to him.
He was his friend.
Sure, they had a weird way of showing it, but they had been through more battles together than could be counted. Over the years, a trust had formed, much like with the rest of the team. This team was the only people on this planet that Icelander trusted with his life. They had bled together, it was something that few people could say they understood.
But now, it just didn’t seem right. He couldn’t picture himself doing this any longer. Charon’s death had slapped some sense into him, made him realize that sooner or later everyone in this job dies. It’s a game of odds, the longer you play the more your survival percentage decreases. It made him realize that his heart wasn’t in it, in fact he hadn’t had the heart for this kind of work for years. He had just been going through the motions, doing what had become routine. In truth, he was an empty shell. Had been for more than fifteen years. Ever since she left.
Five Years after The Bone Squad had officially broken up, everyone had gone and done their own thing. Icelander and Catastrophy had managed to stick together. They had managed to actually have something, something special. Something that was far better than he had hoped for on this planet. She was his life raft, the thing that kept him from sinking down into the murky, cold waters of Paragon City. She kept him sane, kept him from stepping over that line that he routinely walked right up to the edge of night after night. She was the strong one, not him. She had enough strength for the both of them. But it took its toll on her.
After several years of near death experiences and a crime flow that just never seemed to stop or get any better, Cat had decided that she was done. She had discovered her origins and gotten a fair bit of retribution for the wrongs that she felt needed to be righted. That’s all she ever wanted, she didn’t want to save the world, she didn’t want this life anymore. She was leaving Paragon City, heading to greener pastures and a better life.
Icelander was more than happy for her. He had wanted her to quit for sometime now, he worried about her. Something that wasn’t usually in his character, but nevertheless he did. It wasn’t until he actually thought about it, that reality set in. She was leaving. Not just leaving the city, but leaving him.
She had asked him to come with her, to give up the life that had burnt both of them out. He had wanted to, but it was fear that kept him from being by her side. The fear of the unknown. He knew what to expect out on the streets, he knew that he could die that night or the night after. He wouldn’t like it, but he knew how it would happen. But to take that leap of faith and jump into the unknown, to leave the only place he had ever know on this planet, was to much at the time. He felt relatively safe in the city, doing what he had been doing ever since he came to this planet.
It turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life. He should have jumped at the chance to get out while he still could. He should have left with her. He might have been a different person now. His soul might not be so tarnished by the shady deeds that he took part in after her departure.
So he did the only thing that he thought he could do. He turned his back on her. He didn’t say goodbye, didn’t wish her well. He left their apartment late one night to go out on patrol. When he got back shortly before dawn, she had left. Every day since, he had sunk deeper and deeper into himself. He had no life raft now, nothing to help him stay above the water. He had stopped trying to swim years ago, eventually he had just let the current take him. He had no clue whether he even had the chance to swim back to the surface, but he had to try.
Sable cleared her throat.
“It’s over then. It’s finished.” Sable said quietly.
Icelander looked up to see Sable holding back tears.
Icelander felt the breeze upon his face, crisp and clean. Somehow, this day seemed brighter than most, knowing that he should have died yesterday probably made the world seem somehow better. He reached into the small of his back, under his coat and removed a midsized brown package wrapped in twine.
Everyone glanced at Icelander holding the package. He fiddled with it a few more moments before throwing it on the ground, in the middle of their circle, at everyone’s feet. Everyone glanced down at the dull looking package then back at Icelander with a questionable glance.
Icelander smiled. It unnerved most of them to see his display of unusual happiness.
“Yes, it’s over. If one of you would take that package, and burn it. I would be extremely grateful. I’d like to say I’ll see you all again, but I don’t think we’ll ever cross paths after today.” Icelander finished.
Icelander held they’re gazes for a few moments before nodding at each of them with a grin, until he finally limped away towards the cemetery exit.
“Where are you going?” Asked Makis as he kneeled down and picked up the brown package.
Icelander stopped on top of the hill that lead to the cemetery exit. He fished inside his coat pocket and pulled out a worn, folded and aged photo of a beautiful and highly exotic woman, with cute cat like ears. She wore that sly and mischievous smile that had caught his attention and mesmerized him from the day they had first met, as she posed for the camera. Icelander smiled as he rubbed his finger over the photo, before he turned the photo over to see his own scribbled handwriting that revealed the address and city that he had tracked down using one of Joe’s remote servers months before.
“To do something that I should have done a long, long time ago.” Icelander replied without turning around.
Icelander pulled his coat tight around his body and continued walking, until he disappeared from view.
Sable looked back to Makis in confusion.
“What in blazes, is he doing? And what’s in that package?” Sable asked Makis.
Makis was still staring up at the hill that Icelander had disappeared over. He idly turned the brown package end over end in his hands, while sporting his patented smirk. Without opening the package, Makis turned to Sable.
“It’s his suit and equipment. He won’t be coming back. He’s finally giving it up.” Makis replied while again returning his gaze to the leaf covered hill.
“Good luck, mate.” Makis whispered into the wind.
Makis stood there for a moment longer, and then glanced over to Sable, who just stood staring into the grave.
Wolf simply nodded at Makis, gave a slight glance to Sable, and then walked off. He disapeared over the hill to return to his family. He had done his duty in protecting his friends, and now it was time to rejoin those he loved. He may never see any of them again... And a part of him hoped he wouldn't.
Sable was the next to leave. She stared into the grave for what seemed like forever, with Makis simply looking at her. She sniffed back her final tear, and undecided about what to do with the rest of her life, she simply tapped Makis on the shoulder as she walked by, and then flew into the sky... The phoenix soared.
Makis walked over to the grave and looked down at the black coffin. He then looked up into the sky, as he reached into his black jacket and pulled his desert eagle from the ever present holster that was stationed under his arm.
"I'll carry on, mate. I'll carry on."
10-05-2005, 09:57 PM
*-This is Kate Mills for PCTV News, the voice of Paragon. It is currently 22:34. An urgent News Report follows.
Washington D.C. lies in ruins today in the aftermath of one of the most destructive super powered battles ever seen. Xanatos, once known as one of the world's greatest heroes, apparently went rogue, attacking Statesman in the oval office of the White House. No one knows what provoked him into this unforseen and savage attack. Statesman defended himself, and reports from there are sketchy, as no one within three square miles survived the fight that ensued. Every single member of a protest march, which was led by Caleb Gilligan, once known as the villain Showtime, were killed. It is a tragic, tragic day in our Nation's history. The White House lies in ruins, and no one as yet has been pulled from the rubble. Emergency services say they are not hopeful that anyone will be found alive.
Statesman, Xanatos and President Hopkins are all assumed dead. The death count for the destructive battle is currently two thousand. It is unknown how many are buried under rubble, and thousands more are injured, crowding the hospitals of Washington D.C.
"It was horrible. You could see the flashes in the sky. I was so scared. So scared..."
The word of one woman among thousands who lies in hospital.
Vice President Sebastian Kain, who was away in Japan at the time of the savage attack, will be granted emergency powers over the Nation until a Presedential election can be called early next year. He had this to say:
"My people, this is a tragic day in the life of a great Nation. But we can only go forward. Thousands lie dead in the Nation's capital, but this is a signal, and a time for change. Follow me, and I will re-build the capital, and this Nation, greater and stronger than the world has ever seen it before. It is time for a new America my people, a new America, and a new Order."
The word from Vice President Sebastian Kain, who takes emergency powers over the senate today.
On the street, people seem to be asking: Where were our heroes? Have they deserted us? Have they, too, turned rogue? No one knows. All we can say is that when the Nation needed them the most, only Maticore was on the scene to help Statesman, and he was killed early in the battle. Not one other member of the Freedom Phalanx was to be seen, nor a hero from any other hero or metahuman organisation. More on this as it comes in, but as it stands, it seems many heroes have simply gone A.W.O.L.
More on the Washington D.C. Crisis in a few minutes.
Here in Paragon City, the Hero Killer known as 'Fracture' has finally been found. Robert Ian Black, also known as the vigilante and criminal Charon, was found in an alleyway in the early hours of yesterday morning. He was taken to a police morgue for post mortem, but his body was stolen earlier today. However, it has been confirmed by Police that this is the identity of the masked hero killer, 'Fracture.' Michael Kay and Paige McKenzie, otherwise known as vigilantes 'Makis' and 'Sable Phoenix' accomplices to the Fracture killings, remain at large. They are not to be approached, and if they are seen please report to police immediately either by dialing 911 or contacting your local station.
In the early hours of friday night, in local news, there was also a super powered disturbance recorded in King's Row. A factory in the King's Garment District lies in ruins. Police cannot explain what caused the factory to cave in, but they believe it was also somehow tied into the 'Fracture' killings.
We will be going live to Washington D.C. in just a few moments, after these messages, where James Gordon has a live report.
That's it from me, Kate Mills, for PCTV news.
Good night, and don't have nightmares.-*
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