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From the Ashes

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Chapter 13

            “I think I have it,” Kira Jinx said.  Gathered once again in the Top Ten base, the members had spent the day gathering information about the Warrior called Warblade.  “Thauma Guard was right, it’s pretty plain to see, once you look for it.”

            Calling up a map of Talos Island on the screen at the head of the table she used a laser pointer to highlight the areas she spoke about.

            Lord Nikon, WillowWind and the others had been questioning the Warriors and Freakshow, gathering a quick rundown of the current situation of the groups, and had brought their information to Kira, who had assembled the pieces of the puzzle via the SuperGroup computer.

            “The Freaks that Tropic took out were some of Dreck’s highest level bosses, with territory here, here, and here,” she pointed to close areas on the map.  “Warblade’s people are here, and here,” she indicated close areas of Warrior territory.  “Police reports indicated a steep decline in friction between the two groups in the adjacent areas.”

            “Thauma Guard said the Freaks were planning on taking down Dreck,” Lord Nikon said.  “It looks like Warblade was backing off, letting them gather their strength.”

            “Which explains how he knew about the whole thing,” Deep Phreeze said.  “Dreck must have found out and used that to make Warblade drop the dime to Tropic, setting up the group to be taken out.”

            “If Tropic finds out, he’ll go ballistic,” WillowWind said.  “We need to put a cap on this.”

            “If Warblade did back off of the Freaks in his territory, what would he have gained from it?” Elendil asked.

            “Support,” Kira said.  “We know they were planning on taking out Dreck.  Who do you think they’d go for next?”

            “Odysseus,” Lord Nikon said.

            “An alliance between the Freaks and Warriors,” Deep Phreeze said.  “They could take over all of Talos.”

            “And move into Brickstown after,” WillowWind said.  “Strengthen the Freakshow hold there and in Crey’s Folly, and spread out from there.”

            “So what do you want to do about it?” Nikon asked.

            “I think we need to bury it,” Willow said.  “And I have an idea how.”

            The door to the meeting room opened quietly as Tuxedo Gin and SuperBrain entered.  The members who had been present in the room said hello, but even had the new arrivals not been old friends, they’d have easily read that they had just interrupted something.

            “What’s going on?” SuperBrain asked.

            “Nothing,” WillowWind replied.

            “Bullshit, Willow,” TuxedoGin said.  “You guys just clammed up like your parents walked in and caught you in the cookie jar.  What’s going on?”

            Lord Nikon got up and looked through the open door, making sure nobody else was in the hallway.

            “Our little problem keeps getting bigger,” Nikon said.

            “Does it have anything to do with you guys slugging it out with the Onami Strike Force in Perez a couple of days ago?” Tux asked.

            “You heard about that?”

            “Heard about it?  Hell it was all over the news, though the story was cut off at the end.  What happened out there?”

            “That’s what we’ve been talking about.  They were assigned to see what is going on with Tropic.  They brought us into it, and though we tried to keep a lid on it, they already knew something wasn’t right.  It sort of blew up in our faces.”

            SuperBrain shook his head.  “So aside from embarrassing yourselves by fighting with another group, did anything come of it?”

            “There are some developments in progress,” Willow said.  “But we can’t really talk about them.  I think we’ve got a plan to tie up the Freakshow incident, though.”

            “I’m not sure I much like the sound of that,” Tux said.  “You’re in here plotting in secret, and are trying to cover up what he’s done.  It could get really ugly for all of us.  Not to mention covering it up isn’t going to do anything about the major issue.”

            “Which is that he might just go out and do it again,” SuperBrain said.  “Once he starts talking in that voice, with all the ‘thee’s’ and ‘thou’s’ there’s not telling what he might do.  We’ve known for months we would have to do something about him.  The question has always been what.  So I think we need to come up with something that will do more than cover up his transgressions.”

            “You’re right,” Elendil said.  “You’ve been right since we first read Dr. Silver’s report.  But until now we haven’t known just what to do about it.”

            “And now we do?”

            “Something is in the works, if all turns out well,” Willow said.   “We should know about it soon, hopefully.  As soon as we do, I’ll let you know.  Until then, we’ve got some other stuff we can do to keep it under wraps.  Just bare with us.  We’ll dig ourselves out of this.”

            Tux and SuperBrain looked at one another then nodded.

            “Ok, we’ll leave it in your hands.  Just let us know if we can do anything.”

*  *  *

            The door to the Warrior hideout cracked under the wave of freezing air against it, then exploded in as a wave of bright energy slammed into it.  A trio of small fire imps rushed through the door into the Warriors gathered within.

            WillowWind and Lord Nikon hurled blasts of energy through the doorway before rushing the gathered Warriors.  Deep Phreeze came next, after which Elendil followed closely behind, a blade of flame in his hands.  Kira Jinx brought up the rear, her hands glowing with a green radiant energy, which she hurled into the assembled gang members, the dizzying affects of the radiation slowing their attacks.

            The battle was furious.  The blades of the Warriors slamming into the black and gold armor of the Top Ten members, the heroes returning with blasts of flame and energy.

            Warblade waded amongst the fray, a huge sword swinging about him.  The floor beneath the gang boss became a sheet of slick ice as Deep Phreeze threw her hands down, the footing becoming nearly impassable. 

            In short order, the combined might of the Top Ten heroes overwhelmed the gang members, the unconscious bodies lay scattered about.

            “Leave them all except him,” WillowWind said, indicating Warblade.  “Get him and let’s go put a lid on this thing.”

            Quickly bound, Warblade was hauled unceremoniously by the heroes to the mansion of the Warriors’ leader, Odysseus.  Gathered in a great dining hall, the War council waited with their leader.

            Lord Nikon dropped the bound form of Warblade in the middle of the marble floor.

            “You’ve done pretty well by your black market sale of mystical artifacts,” WillowWind said, looking around the opulent mansion.

            A circlet of gold adorning his head, the leader of the Warriors, David Odysseus Hill, smiled.  “I wouldn’t say black market.  I have a legitimate business.”

            Lord Nikon almost smirked.

            “We’re not here to debate any of that right now, Mr. Hill,” Willow continued.  “We have a problem, that might become yours if you don’t work with us on it.”

            “And that is…?”

            “Your council is not as tight as you’d like to think.  Warblade here tried to sell you out to the Freaks.”

            “And how does this concern you?”

            “We were brought into it when he approached one of the Top Ten with a fake message from Dreck.”

            “Tropic,” Odysseus said.

            WillowWind sighed, thinking.  Finally she nodded to herself and said, “Ok, I’m not going to beat around the bush.  I’m tired of the whole situation.  He brought Tropic into this, and if Tropic finds out he was set up to take a fall for Dreck, he’ll come looking for Warblade, and probably then you.”

            “And you think this should concern me?”

            “Oh, cut the shit,” Lord Nikon said.  “You should be scared silly of Tropic coming after you, and if you’re not, you’d be too dumb to have ever gotten as far in this world as you have.  So, yeah, this should concern you.”

            Odysseus sat upon a throne overlooking his council.  He placed his arms on the armrest of the massive chair and said, “Ok, convince me.”

            Kira moved forward with papers.  “I can show you the reports that detail Warblade’s, areas and the drop in friction with the Freaks.  Those same areas overlap the Freaks who were out to take down Dreck.  It’s easy enough to put together that Warblade knew about it and was backing off, and if you take that a step further, once Dreck was gone, you’d have probably been next.”

            While the heroes had been talking, Warblade watched wide eyed.  Now he struggled against his bonds, speaking muffled mumbles through his gag.

            Odysseus shuffled through the papers Kira had given him then nodded towards his bound follower.  “It would seem Hyde has overstepped his bounds.  We will need to elect a new War leader.”  Turning to one of his council he said, “Silence him.”

“You realize by bringing him to me, his blood is on your hands?”  Odysseus said to WillowWind.

            WillowWind nodded.  “What you do with him we can’t control.   However bad that is, it isn’t as bad as what Tropic would do to him, and probably every Warrior in Paragon if it gets out how he was used.  Talos Island could become a huge funeral pyre.”

            Odysseus smiled.  “So you heroes are not as righteous as you pretend when one of your own is at risk.”

            “Don’t go down that slippery path,” Elendil said. 

            “This was the lesser of two evils,” WillowWind added.  “And it is by far the lesser of the two, because if Tropic did find out about this, the blood bath would be unbelievable.  Don’t underestimate what he might do since his return.  You have no idea what he’s capable of.”

            “Oh, I have some idea,” Odysseus replied.  “And that is the only reason I let you in here.”


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