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The deal of the century part 3



“We should leave him.  No place for him where we’re going.”  Bear Cat leaned against the wet sewer wall, and looked far into the distance of the tunnel, towards Brickstown.  One thing was bothering him about all this, but he couldn’t get his finger on it.  He knew well enough who Frank Winter was, from the tabloids and newspapers, somewhat of a local spoiled brat celebrity.  He was also very aware that his father, aside from being the major shareholder of Winter Industries, was privately funding the Hunters of Apocalypse, that is, until recently, when he pulled the plug.  Any hopes of getting that money back would be crushed if anything happened to pretty boy Winter here.


“We’re Apocalypse, we don’t leave friends stranded or behind.”  Replied Moon softly while he was trying to sit Frank Winter up, gently, much like a brother would.


“Right, sure, huh huh.”  Replied Bear Cat almost too quickly, some derision in the voice, some annoyance in his traits.


“What does that mean?”  Asked Moon Psyche, still intent on helping his friend to a better position, cleaning up some of the muck, which was present on his numerous cuts and wounds.


“We’re Apocalypse, we don’t’ leave friends stranded or behind.”  Bear Cat spoke, imitating Moon Psyche, much anger present on his face.  Bear Cat was not a patient one for lies, double talk or bull shit, as it were, Moon Psyche was feeding him a recruiting concept, an idea that can seldom be considered true in the heat of battle.  When things get worse, two things will happen on the spot.  You either will stand tall and die, or you will run for your life.  The law of average and probability, especially in combat, had a way to catch up to anyone.


“Once again, what does that mean?”  Moon Psyche looked up at the huge tanker, a criminal or a vigilante, he wasn’t sure yet about him.  But he knew when he was in the presence of a threat or not, and this huge chunk of man did not emanate such an aura, yet.  “You are not from Apocalypse, although you usurped the name, up until recently, we had no idea of your existence, or that of your organisation.  Speak your mind, or keep quiet, do not do both.”  Moon caught an image, a quick glimpse of Bear Cat’s state of mind, a fleeting picture that told him how much Bear Cat thought he was a liar.  Anger and resentment began to make their way in the sewers, the tension began to build between Moon Psyche and Bear Cat.


“Right, but what about him?”  Asked the former leader of the Hunters of Apocalypse, while pointing a thumb in Voyager’s direction, which was just now arriving with Jade Rade.



Cavalier looked on for a few minutes, and according to the noises coming from the building across the street, the truck was being unloaded.  Remaining hidden and still, he waited patiently, when another truck came into view, down the street.  The second one bore the crest of WinterTech Industries, and no sooner had it backed up to the door, no sooner was it emptied.  Only difference this time, that a body was dragged from the passenger side, carried away by two Malta soldiers and dumped without ceremony into a close by dumpster.  Soon after, they poured gasoline into it and threw a match, lighting up the surrounding alley with a fiery orange glow, accompanied by a dark soot smoke.


In the distance, brought on by the wind, remnants of heavy metal music could be heard, the cheers of a crowd and several shots fired also.  The Freaks were having a party, a loud one too.  Cavalier couldn’t help but think on this enemy as a nuisance more than a threat.  Part men, part machines, they thrived on conflict and what they lack in sheer power, surely they made up for it, in numbers.  Maybe they were the future of men, he thought ironically, cyborg technology used for the betterment of humankind. 


But not tonight, much like a swimmer, the future held its breath.  Tonight, Cavalier felt things were going to change once more, there was something eerie in the air.  Was it the cloud covered moon in the sky, the lack of stars or the absence of warmth in his soul, he didn’t know, but this night certainly felt different.  A few days ago, he would’ve followed procedure to the letter, letting the authorities deal with this issue.  Tonight, he was taking it one step further, going beyond what was required of him and seeing it through. 


Justice, or whatever it might be viewed as, would prevail.  Too often had he stepped back and let things go, secure in the belief that the city, Apocalypse and ranking authorities knew better and would handle the follow ups to such situation.  This night, would see an end to this blind pattern, this night would open the doors that only a certain few had the key to.  Truth be told, the famous scrapper felt a hero now, more than ever before in the last year.  Hidden in the shadows, watching like a stalker his target, mind set on a deadly behaviour, he felt elated and right.  Was this freedom of thought?  Freedom of action and movement?  Could it be that all this time he had acted the part, but never believed in the words? 


He looked down on his sword, at the aged hilt and metal, and wondered if the idea behind it, wasn’t a thing of the past as well.  This blade, more than fourteen hundred years old, had been crafted by a master smith of the dark ages.  Long ago, when men cowered in fear of everything,  well before faith came to grasp humanity in a choking hold and unite it behind a common, albeit misguided, goal.  Why had his ancestor ordered the blade made, had he foreseen the future, had he caught a fleeting glimpse of things to come, and out of fear, decided to arm himself?  Had he known that it would be linked to legendary men of arms, passed down from generation to generation to the one worthy wielder, only one?  Surely not, things were not that ordained in the universe, were not so pristine that it could be that simple to explain.  But what if they were?


Shaking his head away from the reverie of the moment, he returned his attention to the old warehouse across the street.  Both trucks had moved away and disappeared towards Brickstown, leaving the building in a state of quiet abandonment.  The squared jaw scrapper knew it wasn’t empty, far from it.  Inside, the opposing force would most surely be strong and armed, trained to respond to intruders in a most deadly fashion.  Smiling ruefully in the darkness, he couldn’t help but think they had another coming.



Jade Rade bent down and inspected the injured man next to Moon Psyche.  His pulse was weak, but steady.  Concentrating, she released radiation around herself, basking Bear Cat, Moon and Voyager in her regenerative aura.  It felt warm, soothing and calming to the men, and the results were almost instantaneous.  Frank Winter opened his eyes to see Sun Heat and Metal Core appear from the bend of the tunnel, looked around to see Bear Cat, Moon Psyche.  His eyes went wide when they fell on Voyager, and he actually tried to get up and stumble backwards.  Moon gently held on to his friend, telling him to calm down, that he was safe now.  After a few seconds of disorientation and another healing session from Jade Rade, Frank Winter stood up and held himself with pride and composure.  Although it was comical to look at him doing so in a soaking wet, ripped apart and wrinkled suit. 


“Frank, you have a message.”  Spoke Moon as he extended his hand to give the shot cell phone to Chromium Man.  When Winter saw the bullet lodged in it, he looked straight for his chest to find where it had entered.  Shaking his head in disbelief, at the sheer luck he had used up by surviving, he wondered how in the blue blazes of hell, the phone could still be in working condition.  Pressing the button to call voice mail, while the group walked back up towards the manhole, he brought the speaker to his ear.


“It’s a wonder the Vazhiloks or the Losts didn’t get their hands on you, old friend.”  Spoke Moon Psyche, walking next to him.


“I was wondering the same thing, the sewers seem deserted these days.”  Replied Bear Cat walking ahead, next to Metal Core and Jade Rade.


“They are far from deserted.  The sewers can only hold so much evil at once.”  Whispered Voyager who had fallen into step next to Frank Winter, throwing him a disturbing smile, fiery red eyes glowing in the dark.


“Frank, it’s  Robert, I stole the truck but they are hot on my trail.”   Ferrara’s voice was frantic, it was accompanied by the sound of a speeding engine and screeching tires.  Gun shots could be heard in the background as well.  Frank Winter swallowed hard as he listened on to message.  “I don’t know if I can make it all the way to Steel Canyon, Frank.  If you get this message, hurry up and call me, I need help.”  Another gunshot, and this time he heard a gurgling sound coming from Robert Ferrara, then the engine of the truck seemed to slow down and bumped into something.  A few seconds passed, then Frank heard the door to the truck’s cabin open and someone saying:


“What a mess, you stupid ass, can’t you die without bleeding all over the seats, move over.”  Sounds of a rustle as what must’ve been a dying Robert Ferrara being pushed on the passenger side were heard, more sputtering and gurgling followed, then a muffled gun shot.  “Be quiet, will ya.”  A few seconds passed, after which the gunmen spoke:


“We have the stolen truck, on our way.”  More time passed and Frank Winter kept listening as he walked with the group where the ladder leading up into Crey’s Folley was situated.  The beep telling him the message was over came along, and Frank opted to save the message, crushed by the loss of a close friend, stunned by the theft of the Chromium Man Mark IV.  Without the armour, he was powerless, nothing more than another regular person.  Nothing more that is, but a very angry, resentful normal guy out to get revenge.


The group emerged to the surface, looking around for any signs trouble and finding none.  The night air damp and musky, here and there sounds in the distance of skirmishes between unseen fighters were present.  Moon Psyche ordered the team to fall in and follow closely, using his mind powers to find and locate potential enemies and have them look elsewhere while they made their way towards Cavalier’s position.  Frank Winter had been adamant about coming along, after Bear Cat had revealed that Crey Industries had indeed been interested in taking possession of the Mark IV armour.  Explaining quickly how he had first visited the lab, and how he had ended up on the bitter end of a bad deal.  They were well aware that Crey Industries could track them through the transponders grafted in Metal Core, Jade Rade and the former leader of the Hunters of Apocalypse.  But Moon told with much confidence his people, that while the enemy knew they were coming towards them, they also believed only three of them were coming.  He hoped the surprise of finding seven heroes, instead of three, would turn the tide in their favour.


A few hundred meters ahead, Cavalier was laying in wait, keeping a weary eye out for the arrival of the team of heroes.  Granted, the famous scrapper felt at odds to explain his actions, but he couldn’t bring himself to relent, to back down.  In this team, amidst all the strife and difference of opinion, was a friend to which he owed more than words could describe.  A friend that was perceive by all as a nemesis to the city, and that yet, he couldn’t ring himself to let down.  Not again, not while there was still breath in his body.  He understood that it would only take little more than a step in the wrong direction for the others to come down hard on Voyager, and he wondered what would be his reaction when that happened, when he would be faced with the fact that he would have to choose between which friends were more important.  


The group finally appeared between two buildings, Sun Heat peeking around the corner to see if the cost was clear.  Moon Psyche mentally scanned the area, and ordered two snipers and four guards to look elsewhere while they crossed the street and met Cavalier at his hiding place.  Once reunited, the team debated quietly about the course of action, it wouldn’t be long before the Crey gooneys would come for them.  There were only so many people Moon could control at once and there was only so much time they would remain unchallenged.  


While Voyager and Metal Core stood guard and watched the perimeter, Moon suddenly moaned in pain, holding his head and letting a long shuddering breath out.  Everyone looked at him puzzled, then they all assumed a fighting stance, not sure where the threat was coming from.  But Moon reacting in such a way, didn’t leave any room for doubts, something was happening, and it was not pleasing.


“What is it love?”  Inquired a worried face Sun Heat.


“Icy Heart, she’s in there, and she’s in terrible pain, we have to hurry.”  He hissed through clenched teeth, attempting very hard to shut Icy Heart form his mind, from the echo of pain that was washing from her, through him.


“That does it, here we go.”  Spoke the squared jaw scrapper as he stood up and raised his long sword high above his head, tip pointed towards the sky.  “For freedom and great justice!”  He then exclaimed, to which everyone just stood ogled eye and looked at Cavalier like he was some sort of tropical disease ridden rat.


“Don’t you guys use battle cries at times?”  He inquired, annoyed from their reaction.  And everyone just sort of looked away, some blushing, some scratching their heads and Metal Core whistling innocently while booting a rock.


“You’re  a bunch of wankers, come on.”  And with that, the famous scrapper stepped into the moonlight street and ran for the old warehouse, sword at the ready, closely followed by the team.

TO PART 15 >

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