Task Force: Retribution





Electrobolt’s office was an austere place, every item in it had a specific position, to center the energies of the room on the red maple desk. Not one to leave anything lying around, the room presented a picture perfect image of tidiness and organisation. Compared with some offices in the Apocalypse’s HQ, especially Cavalier’s, Electrobolt set the example for all to follow. Sitting behind his desk, reviewing headlines from the various newspapers that had covered the Kings Row Massacre, and having read the recent internal reports concerning these events, he sighed heavily and looked at the man sitting across his desk.



“You’ve put me in a difficult situation, Cavalier.”



Sitting straight, uniform in place and hair groomed, Cavalier remained silent, awaiting further comments from his superior, also Chief of Staff for the Super Group.



“Newspapers have been feeding themselves into a frenzy about your desertion from the battle line, some calling you a coward, others a deserter. Then here, we have a report that because of you, Hormesis left us and since then has refused flat out to return until you personally apologize for your conduct. Recruits have lost confidence in you, our members feel you need a vacation. Do you realize what kind of day this has been for me so far?” Electrobolt was annoyed at having to give a talk down to one the most prestigious icon of Apocalypse, but such were the demands of his job. He handed out promotions for Apocalypse, he reviewed all the dossiers, and on his council, Apocalypse relied.



“I have no excuse for my conduct, Bolt.” Replied flatly the famous scrapper. “If anything, given the circumstances and how the events piled up against me, all I can say is that I lost it.”



“Loosing it, it happens to all of us, at one time or another. But people in our position cannot afford to do so.” Electrobolt slammed the newspaper on the desk, and got up to walk to the window, to look at Steel Canyon. “But it still doesn’t change the fact that I can’t just let it go. Our public image, our prestige, suffered because of it, and the Super Group has to react accordingly.”



“You want my resignation?” Asked Cavalier, standing up at attention, ready to speak the words that would end his relation with Apocalypse once and for all.



“No, unless that is, you refuse the decision I am about to render.”



“I will abide by the decision.” Spoke solemnly Cavalier, letting a breath of relief out at the same time.



“So be it.” Electrobolt turned to face Cavalier and said: “Attention.” The squared jaw scrapper stiffened himself like a soldier, arms to the side, eyes staring straight ahead.



“Cavalier, it is my judgement, which will be reported to the leadership, that you are no longer fit to occupy the rank and duties of Leader of Apocalypse.” The scrapper’s eyes squinted as he heard the words. Electrobolt was well known for his sense of humour, but he also had a reputation for being ruthless when defending the interests of the Super Group. “Therefore, and effective immediately, you are suspended from duty.”



“Oh bloody hell, why don’t you just fire me?” Replied the Cavalier, anger showing in his reply.



“I am not done.” Went on Electrobolt, and Cavalier gulped.



“Your record up to this date has been an example for others to follow, and I will not see it end this way. I am demoting to the rank of Captain, on probation might I add. If I so much as hear that you stepped out of line, even the sliver of an inch, I am going to send you back to the Academy as a recruit so fast, that you will believe in time travel.” A moment of silence passed then : “Do you accept my decision?”



“Sir, yes sir.” Replied the scrapper, still at attention.



“Then, Captain, you are dismissed. Assemble your team as you see fit, submit your roster to X-ecutioner once you are ready.” Electrobolt saluted then turned around to face the city once more, thinking to himself that he hated his job at times. Cavalier made a crisp salute and then left the room, a smile began to make its way across his lips. He walked to his office, happy to find it as it should be, like a tornado had passed through it twice. Sitting down, he flicked the computer screen on, and called up the mission reports and status.



He scrolled down the list, searching and looking for a suitable duty. Apocalypse had made him a Captain once more, but his mindset was such, that he would return to his leadership position soon enough. Eyeing the LCD screen, he found what he was looking for, and registered his name on the task. Bringing up another screen, he called up the entire roster for the Super Group, and searched it thoroughly, then his eyes stopped on a name and grew wide.



Bringing up another page, he reviewed the rules and regulations concerning team rosters and their selections. Specifically, the captain’s privileges in such matters, and then smiled like a three years old seeing his first horse in a field. He picked up the phone and called X-ecutioner’s office, but there was no answer. He dialled up central dispatch and asked where X was, to be answered that the tanker was in the building, in the holding blocks. Wasting no time, he took the elevator, and headed down there. Once in the corridor for the interrogation rooms, only one red light was on, and Cavalier headed for that door to open it, saying :



“X, I need… Oh god, I’m so sorry!”



The naked, slim figure of Cymbaline disappeared behind the interrogation table, while X-ecutioner stood stark naked to face him.



“God dammit man, haven’t you ever heard of knocking?” He yelled at Cavalier, not even attempting to hide himself from sight. Cymbaline’s eyes were seen just above the table line, she looked straight at Cavalier.



“Hi!” She simply said to the famous scrapper.



“So sorry guys, didn’t mean to, didn’t know that, you see I just wanted to…” He blurted out, while backing out of the room and closing the door. “God, I wish I was blind at times.” He muttered while trying to forget what he had just seen.



“What do you want?” Asked in a strong voice X-ecutioner from the other side of the door.



“I just want to verify something with you X.” Replied the scrapper.



“What?” Spoke X with some degree of anger in the voice.



“Are Apocalypse Captains permitted and allowed to choose any active members for their missions, or is there a review of it by a Leader?”



“Captains have free choice, they just need to submit the roster for review to my office, now get the hell out of here will ya?”



“Thanks X, and sorry for this, no one will know.” Replied the scrapper as walked away, a plan had formed in his head, which would redefine some rules for Apocalypse in the future. But for now, he knew that according to rules and regulations, he would get away with it, and repay an old debt to a dear friend.





Entering a side office of the basement, Cavalier grabbed the phone and called Icon, hoping that he would reach Serge. While waiting for the tailor to answer, the Apocalypse HQ’s siren resounded, a call to all heroes had been emitted. That meant someone in the Super Group was in grave in danger and in need of immediate assistance.



“All captains, report with your teams on the roof, this is not a drill. All Captains report with your teams on the roof, this is not a drill.”



“Hello?” Spoke a male’s voice, French accent strong over the phone.



“Serge, this is Cavalier, how are you?”



“Quite fine my friend. Have you ripped your suit again, I keep telling you the pants were made too tight, but who listens to me?” Replied the tailor.



“No, it’s not that this time. I have a special, rush order, and I’m hoping you can help me.” Spoke quickly the famous scrapper, remembering all too well the pants incident of last year at the City Hall’s ball.



“Yes, what is it?”



“I need masks, full face mask, four of them, primary color will be black, secondary white. Nothing fancy, but I need them within the hour. Can you supply?”



“Sacrebleu Cavalier, you don’t call me for stupid masks, what do you think I am, an employee. I, monsieur, am the tailor to the super heroic community of Paragon, if you need face masks, call the Steel Canyon store and talk with one of my dressers. Bordel de merde!” (French for What the fuck) And with that, the phone was slammed down hard on its receptacle on the other end. Cavalier looked at his receptor, and almost wished he could teleport through the phone line, and squeeze Serge French’s neck in his hands. Dialling the Steel Canyon store number, he placed the order and was told the mask were in stock and waiting to be picked up. He called central dispatch and requested a recruit to complete the errand soon after.



Getting back on the elevator, he watched the numbers go up to his office floor. The emergency call was just what he needed to get away with his plan unnoticed. Once behind his desk, he printed out a form for team roster approval and filled it out, writing down each name carefully:



Metal Core

Jade Rade

Bear Cat

Icy Heart

Voyager



He signed it, and sealed it in an envelope, which he brought to the front desk, making sure the secretary there would forward the thing to X-ecutioner’s office in the morning. Turning around, a young recruit stood at attention in front of him, holding a box from Icon in his hands.



“Sir, I was told to bring this directly to you, sir!” Spoke Velguard sharply. Although he was dwarfed by the squared jaw scrapper, his sleek stature hid well the razor sharp reflexes and fierce strength of the boy.



“Thank you recruit, you are dismissed.” Replied Cavalier with a salute, which Velguard returned crisply before he turned around and left the building, to return to the Academy in Talos. Cavalier headed straight for the elevators, and punched the basements again. The doors opened, and he was confronted by X-ecutioner, face sweaty, but dressed, and Cymbaline, hair in a mess, but smiling.



“… at it for seven hours, we’ll resume later.” She finished as the doors were opening, and then: “Oh, Cavalier.” She giggled while wrapping her arms around X’s huge right arm.



“Guys, sorry about earlier, I swear I won’t tell a soul.” Spoke the squared jaw scrapper, as he stepped out of the elevator, feeling the awkwardness of the moment.



“Shouldn’t you be on the roof, directing operations?” Asked X-ecutioner to the scrapper.



“I was demoted today, thought you knew, I’m once more a Captain.” X stayed silent a second, then said:



“That explains your question from earlier then, come by the office tomorrow, I have a few recruits you might want to consider for your team.”



“Oh, about that, I submitted my roster already to your office. I hope you will approve when you read it. As soon as I am done here, I’m taking them out for patrol duty in Crey’s Foleys. I want to make sure we can all work together before we go into heavy fights and dangers.”



“Good plan, work out the kinks first. All right, I’m sure the team will be fine, especially with you in the lead.” X-ecutioner stalled a second, then said with a certain degree of apology in the voice: “It will feel strange to give you orders man, and I hope you won’t hold it against me.”



X-ecutioner and Cymbaline, who had been attempting to put her hair back into a modicum of style, succeeding only in seeing one of her strand falling flat across her face to cover her left eye, both stepped on the elevator. The doors closed.



It will feel strange to become a wanted man, and I hope you won’t hold it against me.” Thought the squared jaw scrapper as he turned around and walked for the cells.


  TO PART 11 >



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