Force





Groggy, disoriented and annoyed, Bear Cat woke up in a garbage dumpster in the eastern section of Brickstown, near the marker for the Chasm. With uncertain steps, he walked to the brick and mortar wall that separated the building from the street. There, he leaned heavily on it, trying to gain some sense of balance, and to regain some sense of direction. A purple and white straight body truck was parked on the other side of the entrance, and he could see the huge pipeline system of the city running under a boulevard.



“Brickstown.”



He muttered to himself, as he stepped away from the wall and started walking for the sidewalk. A huge graffiti across the street caught his attention, with its bright colors and lost meaning, he recalled that the train station was west. Until he felt truly functional, he wouldn’t attempt to use his travel powers. Still feeling confused and angry, Bear Cat relived the last few hours of his life in his mind’s eye. What a fool he had been to have taken on this base by himself, while an entire group of people working with him, could’ve helped. But, he was prideful and determined, and once again, it would cost him.



He was their leader, and as such, he was entitled to certain liberties. After the recent events, he couldn’t help but wonder how things would’ve gone if he had brought along more people, instead of sending them left and right on different errands, to make sure most of them never met. Granted they were good people, and also borderline criminals with a mean streak, but if he could assemble them under a single goal, they would be a force to reckon with. When this whole business is over, he would give this thought more time. Looking both ways, he started to cross the street, when the sound of a telephone ring caught his attention. Looking down on his utility belt, he recalled the last conversation with Marcus Wepp. Reaching for the small cellular phone, he brought it up to his ear and pressed the receive button.



“Up yours.”



“Mr. Bunny, just a reminder, in case you have forgotten. You have seven days to bring me to the Mark IV armor from Winter Industries. Do not bother calling in the police or the heroes, or Turbo Starr is dead. Do you understand my request?” Marcus Wepp’s voice was all business, and a bit arrogant also, the voice of a man holding all the cards, for now.



“Do you understand my request?” Wepp repeated as Bear Cat was trying very hard to stay polite as a mother and her kid were walking by.



“Yes.” He then closed the phone, and threw it away on the street, in anger and resentment from being powerless against Wepp. It landed a few meters away, and slid to a still on the slope that led up to the next district. Grunting, he walked towards the east, towards the sewers, where he knew his way around perfectly. He was wondering how many Hunters he would be able to gather, if he called on them. Probably nine or ten, no more. The others were just a bunch of independent operators, hunting preys as they saw fit, rarely taking on a super group contract, unless it met their agendas.



“Tommy, leave it alone, it’s just a cell phone.” He heard a voice echo in the street. Turning around, he saw a young man, probably about sixteen, looking at another teenage boy, bent down where he had thrown Wepp’s phone.



“But it’s ringing bro, and besides, it’s one of them new internet phones with wireless and digital cameras. I can hide it in my room, and record Jessica and me doing it, man.” The other replied as he was inspecting the telephone from all angles, cleaning it with careful hands. Tommy wasn't sure if he would put the video of him and Jessie humping away on his website, but he knew for sure he wanted to record her for future viewings. Maybe invite some of the guys over and brag about it for hours.



“That phone is mine kid.” Spoke Bear Cat from the sidewalk. “Give it up, I have to answer that.”



The one holding the phone looked at Bear Cat, and chuckled a bit. Aside from the smell that was emanating from him, and the way he dressed, the huge man didn’t seem to be aware that a banana peel was stuck to his shoulder. Taking a few steps towards the west, the teenage boy, the one called Tommy, shook his head negatively and started to run.



“Dumb plan kid.” Yelled Bear Cat as he followed suit. Catching up to him would be a formality. But then again, sometimes things just didn’t work out the way you planned. As he activated his super speed and started to run after Tommy, Bear Cat, instead, started to eat pavement. After the fourth step, he felt something trip him down, and he ended scrapping across the pavement for a few meters, before inertia and resistance finally gave up their struggle. Knees, chin and elbows raw, he looked behind at the other teenage boy.



“Run Tommy, run!” He yelled at his friend, as he ran also, directly for Bear Cat, which he kicked in the face, before going on. Outraged, Bear Cat started to get up and professed a few choice words aloud. The two teenage boys were running up the sidewalk slope, heedless of traffic and people, they were trying to get away. The horn of a truck made him turn around as brakes screeched behind him.



“Get off the street, you bum, what do you think sidewalks are for?” Yelled a heavy black man, who was leaning outside the driver’s window of a green semi.



“Up yours.” Replied Bear Cat as he sped towards the thieves. Reaching the one that kicked him was a formality, and none of them had realized yet that he was super powered. He grabbed him by the shirt collar, and then carried him under his arm as he went on to catch up to Tommy, the horny one who tried to escape while the phone rang on, giving away his position and direction.



Tommy entered through the gate of the Paragon fuel treatment facility, passing in front the guard’s house without stopping, not paying attention to the screaming man requesting a permit for entrance. He then jumped over the fence and resumed his run across the street, making a car stop a few inches before hitting him square in the legs. Bear Cat followed, keeping his distance for now, fearing the worst for this kid. He did need the cell phone back, and cursed his short temper for throwing it away in the first place, but he would not get him killed over it.



He watched Tommy run under the Abyss Towers overpass, and let some distance build between them. The other one, still cradled under his huge arm, was trying to no avail, to squirm free. Pleading for Bear Cat to let him go, he screamed and kicked. Bu the leader of the Hunters paid no attention to his request, as he kept his trained eyes on Tommy’s figure as he ran on. The horny teenage boy looked over his shoulder from time to time, and kept running like a bat out of hell, for the train station. Reaching the far wall of the underpass, Tommy used the cement ledge to run up and jump over the railing, entering the Crescent district.



Bear Cat knew that the kid was more than likely going to try and make it to the train station and disappear from there. Giving up on chasing him directly, he used another route to reach the Crescent. Once there, after a few seconds of searching, he found Tommy again, in the distance, still running in the street with the ringing phone, confronted by heavy traffic. Checking in from time to time, Bear Cat followed him from the left flank, hiding himself from view, hoping Tommy would stop running once he realized no one was chasing him.



“That phone isn’t yours boy, give it up.” Spoke a man in a black suit, black tie, wearing a headset piece composed of an ear and microphone part, with a green eye piece. He blocked Tommy's path on the right sidewalk, preventing him from reaching the train station, less than four hundred yards away.



Challenged directly in his path, Tommy stopped dead in his track, looking at the well dressed man who had taken out a hand pistol. Looking left and right, he decided to run across the street, towards the Ziggurat prison. Bear Cat, intrigued at first by the intervention, saw everything that followed happen in slow motion. Yelling for Tommy to stop running, he dropped his friend face first in the dirt, and sped towards the teenage thief.



Unaware of the dangers, in his attempt to flee with the prize, Tommy had put himself directly in the path of an oncoming city bus. The man in the suit was aiming his hand gun for Tommy’s back, who was running like a maniac for the other side of the street. Bear Cat appeared over the fence Tommy was trying to reach, super speed burning under his feet, looking at the bus driver almost standing on the brakes of the heavy vehicle, trying to redirect the bus away from the teenage boy. Seeing the leader of the Hunters appear, Tommy stopped in the middle of the street, and saw the bus about to hit him, saw the scratches and rust spots on the front end of the public vehicle.



Bear cat put himself directly between Tommy and the bus, grabbing the boy in a hugging grasp, he shielded him from the impact as best he could. At the same time, he felt the stinging sensation of a bullet entering his side, through the chest, shattering ribs as it lodged itself in his left lung. The bus hit Bear Cat in the back, bending itself around the tanker, and sent him and Tommy flying forward, to land heavily on the street, dragged across by momentum. Bear Cat had just enough senses left to twist himself around in mid-flight, to keep Tommy up top, while his body was racked and dragged for meters.



The bus driver wasn’t so lucky, and flew out through the windshield, shattering glass followed his trajectory. He broke his neck and body when an oncoming car hit him before he landed on the ground, throwing him in the other direction. The car driver tried to stop it, but he ran over the bus’s driver body before it came to an alt. Screams and cries of people from inside the bus were heard, while bystanders stood rooted, looking at the scene.



“This is a lousy day, of a lousy week, from a lousy month.” Whispered Bear Cat, as a paralyzing pain was starting to take over. Tommy struggled free from his grasp, uninjured and safe, he looked down at Bear Cat. Who had begun to spurt blood from the mouth, from the lung injury.



“Drop the phone!” Screamed the man in the suit. “Drop that fucking phone kid, or I will put a bullet in your head.” Looking around, the Crey Agent was satisfied that the civilians around were too busy helping the people in the bus, and huddled around the car that had run over the driver to be truly concerned by what was going here. Tommy, dazed, afraid and confused, let the phone drop next to Bear Cat from a shaking hand.



“Get the fuck out of here kid, and you better hope I never you see you again.” Yelled the man to Tommy. Looking around, at all the confusion going on, Tommy ran away, tears blurring his vision, urine staining his blue jeans pants. The man in the suit came to stand next to Bear Cat, while putting his pistol away, he leaned next to him.



“You stupid fool, we can follow you anywhere now.” He reached for the cell phone, and placed it back on Bear Cat’s belt.



“If you loose it again, Dr. Wepp will make sure you live to regret it.” The Crey agent was now appraising Bear Cat’s physical condition, while in the distance, sirens could be heard.



“You’re all banged up big guy, the rescue teams are coming. Remember, you have one week, and remember, we are watching you.” Spoke the agent as he got up and walked away from the scene, buttoning his black vest as he did so.
CONTINUE >
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