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Chapter 6: Crey Corp

 

Hopkins, what exactly happened to our little experiment?” asked the Countess Crey.

Hopkins, solid as a rock, and with a personality to match, faltered when he said,” It was stolen ma’am… But the nature of this case is-“

“I don’t need to hear petty details, Hopkins. I want results. I’ve always known you to get results.”

“Ma’am I really think you should hear this.”

She sighed and stared out the window overlooking the city,” Yes, what is it then?”

“Security chief Wilson said that he was assaulted by a gang of rowdy heroes. He pleaded with them not to hurt him and they-” He said as he coughed nervously. “-Well they umm…”

“Get on with it.”

“They forced a very large piece of ginger up his-” he coughed again. “-Up his anus ma’am.”

She raised an eyebrow and said,” What kind of heroes are these again, if hero is even the right word for this?”

“Then they put a very large pink bow on his back and glued it with super glue.”

“Again I ask what kind of people are they?”

“Couldn’t say ma’am. He’s got a couple of their names though if that helps.”

“Names are good. Where is Wilson then?”

“Still at the proctologist ma’am.”

“I see,” said the Countess as she sat down and put her hands together. “And did anything else happen?”

“Well then one of them grabbed the cola and drank it.”

“He what?!”

“Yes ma’am. Two of them actually…”

She turned and stared directly at Hopkins and said,” I want these two found. They’re carrying extremely expensive equipment inside them. Not to mention it was still in the testing phase. What makes things worse is they’re carrying the only sample.”

“Yes ma’am. What exactly will the sample do to them?”

“Probably kill them. But we need to find them first before that happens. If people found they were killed by our product, the media will have a frenzy.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Threaten who you have to. Get our lawyers, and even our Protectors. I don’t care what it takes, just bring them to me.”

“Consider it done ma’am,” He said as he bowed and exited.

The Countess turned back to look out the window.

Heroes, she thought. I loathe them. No one can get any work done with those dunderheads always about… Still, once we find those two we can use them as test results. They should be very easy to handle now that they’ve got the nanites in their system. And if we play our cards right, this little incident could provide us with very useful data…

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“Cherry,” said Ami as she stood over Biggs lying on a bed. “It’s been two days now. They seem to be getting worse every day. I’ve run several diagnostics and can’t find a problem. My knowledge is somewhat limited in Orcish anatomy, and I can’t figure out how he’s going to react to certain medicines we could give him.”

“Funny you should say that. If you ever go to their homeworld you’ll find Orcish anatomy lying all over the floor. Orcs have little use for medicine and doctors. When Orcs were injured or ill, they usually cut their heads off to ease the pain,” said Cherry.

“Dear me! That sounds dreadful!”

“Ah but it worked, and that’s all they needed.”

“*cough* G’mornin,” said Biggs miserably. “*cough* I hate this…*cough* I had the mos’ *cough* wonderful dream lass!”

“Oh, what did you dream of mister Biggs?” asked Ami.

“Ah dreamed *cough* tha’ all of ya died an*cough cough* went ter hell, an I *cough* was sittin back, an drinkin a pint with the good lord *cough*,” said Biggs as he stared off somewhere between the wall and Ami.

“Oh. I suppose you had such wonderful fun didn’t you?” said Ami.

“Aye *cough*. Now where’s me pamphlets *cough cough*?”

“I’m afraid you’re just going to have to wait on your preaching till later Mister Biggs. Just please stay put until we can figure out what’s doing this to your system”

“Feck *cough* that! I need ter *cough cough cough* spread the good *cough* word!”

“Oh, he’s heavily medicated right now. He may seem a bit delirious… But he is very determined,” said Ami.

“Indeed he’s our little zealot,” said Cherry as Biggs began to swear at no one. “He’s not usually like that, he usually curses at someone…”

“Curse ya *cough cough cough* ya filthy fecker! I’ll preach *cough* ifn I damn well want *cough cough* to ya hear!” said Biggs to the clock.

“I’m going to sedate him again,” said Ami.

“Keep them here still. I’m going to do some investigation on this Crey Company. If they’re messing around with soda recipes, then they’ve got some really bad methods. Soda shouldn’t do this to someone.”

“How do you know it was the soda? I mean it’s contents have already been flushed out of their systems.”

Cherry looks at her for a moment, and remembers she doesn’t socialize that often with them.

“Ami,” she said. “Lu Bu drinks a whole keg of beer by himself, pisses it out and drinks another. He also eats piles of slaughterhouse waste by the barrels. He gets shot with lasers, bullets and explosions all the time, and it only makes him mad… Anything that can do this to his augmented systems must be serious… And I’m going to find out.”

“I suppose you’re right. Disease can take down even the mightiest warrior.”

“Yes it does. Lu Bu can’t go like this… He told me once if he was going to die, it would be in a fight with him against a fifty thousand well armed soldiers.”

“He really wants that? To die in a glorious battle?”

“No! He wants to kill them all and just die of exhaustion.”

“Oh… Orcs are strange people.”

“Well the thing is I don’t intend on him dieing here. I’d like to see his request fulfilled someday.”

“You want to see him go like that?”

Cherry thinks for a moment how she could explain this, and says,“ Him and I have an understanding… His ways may seem a bit strange but I’ve come to accept them. And he lets me ride on his back in a basket.”

“That’s an understanding?”

“Yup. But that kind of request is a part of Orcish culture. If your name isn’t feared then you die a horrible death. Do something like that and you’ll be a legend.”

Ami raises an eyebrow and says,“ I think I get it now. You want him to do such a thing because it’s part of his culture. And it’s a sign of respect I guess.”

“Yea something like that. So I don’t wanna see the big fella die here in bed, so I’m going to do a little investigating on Crey. I’ll be going with Lord Daniel and Gina so that means you’re the responsible one here.”

Ami looks down shyly and says,“ Oh, where is Tylar?”

“He’s doing his usual thing at D.A.T.A.”

“And Danyel?”

“He’s cooped up in his alchemy lab, and you know how he gets when he’s mixing things.”

“And the rest?”

“Kayain and Di are doing their own thing, meaning they’re going to be a nuisance around the place. Kat and Solo are playing a card game, so they should be out of trouble for a good while. And I can’t seem to find DeVall.”

“Ok then. I’m going to be busy taking care of things here.”

“I know. Since you’re the only responsible one on hand all I need you to do is call me to scold Kayain and Di when they make something explode.”

“Will do Miss Cherry.”

Cherry walked out and right into Kayain.

“Ow! Lummox! What are you doing over here?”

“I need to borrow some elastic from Ami.”

“And what do you need elastic for?”

“We’re gonna make a sling shot!”

Cherry folds her arms and says,“ Well don’t throw anything breakable! Or don’t throw anything at anything breakable!”

“Not to worry, we’re going to throw these plushy dolls at that target on the wall.”

“And if I hear about this building collapsing in a freak accident can I assume your project was a success or a failure?”

Kayain had to think about that one for a while and decided it was a kind of jeer or a compliment. He decided it was usual Cherry gibe and said,” If that happens you can assume I showed off pictures of you in a one piece to the folks downstairs. They tore down the building hoping to burry it.”

“I see you’re throwing ‘My Friend Kayain, buddy’ dolls. Hopefully like the real one their hard heads won’t break the wall.”

“Ha ha… Oh that wasn’t a compliment… Hey!”

Cherry shakes her head and walks to the door.

“Ready Gina?” she says to the door.

Regina appears in front of it and says,” Let’s go sis. Danny is waiting by the valet.”

Cherry smiles and says,” Since when have you called him Danny? Is he your new boyfriend?”

Regina keeps her serious looking face and says,” You know, if you’re going to tease me like we all do Ami and Tylar, then I refuse to dignify that question with an answer.”

“That’s all right. I read your mind anyway.”

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“This is so cool!” said Kayain as he loaded the doll back in the big slingshot.

“I know! I’m glad you thought of it!” said Diana.

Kayain shot the little doll and it flew into a box by the wall.

“He shoots, he scores!” said Kayain. Suddenly there is a ring at the doorbell. “Whoa, anyone order room service?”

“I did. I ordered something we can use for this.”

“Better see what they want then.”

Kayain opens the door and sees a man in a suit standing between two of what he thought were two dummies in yellow and blue spandex. One was clearly female and one male. But the first thought that comes to mind is if those things are alive, how are they breathing in those bullet helmets?

“Umm… Hello. You guys, uh, Mormons?” said Kayain.

They look at each other, and the man in a suit says,” Not exactly sir. We-“

“Wait, wait, wait! I think I know what you’re here for,” interrupted Kayain. “Hey DI! Did you order any crash dummies?”

“Maybe… Those guys at the front desk said they’d give us something to throw at when I ordered room service,” said Diana as she skipped to the door. “Oh! Looks like they did!”

“They aren’t-“

“Come in, come in!” said Diana as she pushed them all inside. “Oh these guys are very lifelike! Now let’s have these things wait right there…”

“Madam! If you don’t mind I-“

“Heeeey!” Said Kayain as he put an arm around the man. “Just relax man! Go with the flow and you’ll see something very funny in just a minute.”

“What is that thing?” said the man as Diana wheeled around their large sling shot.

“You’ll see.”

“Ready,” said Diana as she loaded the sling shot with two cream pies. “Got my camera on… and FIRE!”

Diana released the bands and sent the pies flying at the two spandex clad people. One hit the male on the chest and the other hit the female square in the face.

Diana skipped and said,” Woohoo! My shots were perfect, just like the book said!”

“Damn right!” said Kayain giving her a high five.

When it comes to learning from books, Diana was technically a genius. However her common sense was chased out of the gene pool because her knowledge side peed in it.

The two spandex people stood there as the male one extended a pair of claws from his hands. The man in a suit shook his head and mouthed the words,’ Not yet,’ and the male retracted his claws.

“Oh ho ho! That’s rich,” said Kayain as he looked at the camera with Diana. “Now do it again in slow mo!”

“Ahem!” said the man in the suit.

“Oh my bad!” said Kayain. He reaches in his pocket and hands him a fifty dollar bill and says,” Keep the change Mack.”

“If you please sir, I am a lawyer, not a delivery boy.”

“A lawyer eh? I guess you’re expecting more than a fifty right?”

“What is a lawyer doing giving us room service?” said Diana thoughtfully. “Wait, this isn’t about those extra soaps I too- ah, borrowed from the front is it? I mean they said it was free…”

“I am not room service, or any kind of bellhop for that matter. I represent Crey Corporation. These are my associates, from the Paragon Protector division.”

“You mean they’re real people?!” said Diana.

The to Protectors wiped the pie off and strode to the lawyer’s side.

“EEEK! Oh my God, I am so sorry!” said Diana.

“Never mind that madam. I need to speak with two heroes who are registered here. They go by the names, Biggs, and Lu Bu.”

“Now wait just a minute there mister!” said Diana as she approached one of them. “How do those guys breathe in those helmets? I mean come on now! They look like they’re wearing a big hollowed out bullet on their heads!”

Kayain examined the female one and said,“ And that lady there looks like she’s wearing some kind of bullet bra, if you know what I mean. Hur hur…”

“Please sir, I need to speak with Lu Bu and Biggs-“

“And what’s with the super tight tights mister?” asked Diana. “Last night I read all of Paragon City’s laws, and I thought showing off your genitals in public was against the law wasn’t it?”

He sighed and shook his head as he said,“ Is there anyone else I can speak with?”

“Hua? Oh yea, I suppose. AMI! Some folks here to see you!”

Ami pokes her head out and says,” Do try and keep it down. Sick patients need their rest.”

“Yea we have some folks who want to talk with you. One guy’s a lawyer, and the other two are… well this guy here has his balls showing.”

“What? Oh. Oh-my!” said Ami, not really intending to look at the spandex man. She blushes and looks at the lawyer as she says, “And what is this about sir?”

“This,” he says as he pulls out a paper. “These are the charges my client has filed against your friends who assaulted and humiliated him.”

“Come again?”

“Your friends savagely attacked my client, tied him up and used super glue all over him, and they also stuffed a very large piece of ginger up his anus.”

Kayain and Diana fell down on top of each other laughing hard when he said that last part.

“I can assure you that sodomy is no laughing matter.”

“Yea, ha ha, except when you sodomize a clown! Then you’re supposed to laugh! Hur hur!” said Kayain.

“Kayain! If Cherry heard you say that, she’d have a fit!” said Ami.

“Mister, Kayain is it?” said the Lawyer nastily. “I find you to be very crude and vulgar. And if it were up to me, I’d have you arrested as well.”

“Arrested as well?” said Ami. “Wait! You mean Biggs and Lu Bu are under arrest?”

“Yes, ma’am. That’s what these two are for,” he said, indicating the Paragon Protectors.

“Whoa, whoa,” said Kayain. “Hold on a minute… these guys don’t look like normal police, so why should they go with you guys?”

“These Protectors are called that for a reason. They are super powered enough to take care of any kind of resistance that other super powered people may offer. I can assure you they have the right to arrest as well as use deadly force if necessary.”

Kayain grinned and wiggled his fingers in a patronizing way and said,” Ooh scary, big bullet heads in colored tights with their balls showing. Look pal, I trained my boys well, and sure they may be quirky and reek of cabbage, but they don’t just grab innocent people off the streets and start shoving roots up their bungholes for no reason. I can guarantee you your client must have done something to them.”

“That’s a matter for the courts to decide. The fact is the deed was done, and we’ve got a warrant for their arrest.”

“Out of the question,” said Ami. “They’re extremely sick and still need immediate medical attention! Even your law should state that you can’t take them as they are.”

“Ami’s right!” said Diana. “I should know. I read the entire law book last night cause I was bored.”

“The entire thing?” said the Lawyer.

“Well not the entire thing… I didn’t read the ads in the back. But still! You can’t take them they’re too sick!”

“That’s not my problem ma’am. We have our orders, and we’re going to see them through.”

Kayain knew where this was heading, and he didn’t like it one bit. He said,” What the hell is your name mister?”

“I am Adrian Carey, Crey’s most trusted attorney,” he said. He added while looking at Ami,” And if I were you madam, I would release them to us at once. Crey is a very powerful and-“

“And if I was you pal,” said Kayain prodding him with a finger. “I would probably back the hell off from our good doctor here before you get hurt.”

“Is that a threat mister Kayain?”

“You’re ga-damn right it is! If you ever talk to this sweet lady like that again I’ll rip your balls off, and mail them to your momma.”

“How dare you!”

“Yea, yea trying to get all indignant on me. You corporate types are all the same! You bully the common folks, and when some wise guy has had enough bullying and starts fighting back, you ruin him completely with all your silly loopholes in the law. You guys bribe, threaten, and corrupt shamelessly and you’ve got the gall to come up to me and say that I’m the one threatening you?! Your client probably deserved everything he got and more! And if I was there, I would have shoved a pineapple up his ass instead! I-“

Kayain stopped abruptly. As quick as a flash the male Protector shoved his claws inside Kayain’s gut. He held it there, and pulled it out slowly. Kayain looked down in astonishment and gripped his stomach. He sees the blood and crumples to the ground in a heap.

Diana and Ami screamed when they saw him fall. The lawyer looked nonchalant as he straightened his tie and said,” That was clearly a case of self-defense. Thank you sir. Now if you would ladies, bring me those two or things are going to get very ugly here.”

“No please don’t hurt me mister!” said Diana. “I’ll do anything you want! Honest!”

“That’s what I like to hear. Both of you, bring me these two offenders.”

“But they’re very heavy!” said Ami.

“And that is not my problem now is it? Bring them to me or suffer the same fate as your friend here.”

“Oh yes sir!” said Diana as she watched Kayain silently get up behind them.” Please just take them and go in peace!”

“There’s a good girl. At least you know your place.”

Kayain shook his head as he stood behind the male Protector. He motioned to the female one, and Diana gave a small nod.

“Just one last thing mister high and mighty lawyer,” said Diana.

“What’s that?”

Diana stuck out her tongue and threw the finger at him.

“What-“

Kayain calmly wrapped his arms around the neck of the male Protector and pulled him to the floor holding him in a deadly headlock. Diana leaped forward at the female one who took a swing at her. Diana easily dodged the oncoming attacks, and unleashed a flurry of hits with focused anti-magic channeled through her hands.

Diana quickly defeated the Protector and notices the lawyer trying to run away. She easily chased him down and tackled him.

“Going somewhere?”

“No! You can’t do this to me! You’ll be very sorry!”

“I doubt that. You think Crey’s going to be here to stop what I’m going to do to you right now?”

Diana lifts him up on her shoulders and carries him off. Back in the living room, there are two Protectors lying unconscious on the floor. Kayain is already drawing faces on the masks as Diana carries the lawyer to the kitchen.

“Welcome to my favorite room,” she says as she slams him on the table. “Now we can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

“I won’t… ACK!” he said as Diana starts duct taping his hands.

He tries to fight back, but Diana is in much better shape, stronger than he is, and knows how to use leverage. She gets all the tape on him and is able to tie him up in a very awkward position

“This,” she says holding up a piece of ginger. “Is for threatening me and my friend Ami.”

He squirms as he sees the ginger.

“And this is for your attempted murder on my little brother you, you… big… ARGH! Just looking at you makes me want to puke!”

She holds up a pineapple and he screams like a 4-year-old girl.

“T-t-that won’t fit!” he pleads.

“You’d be surprised.”

“How would I get that out?!” he says panicking.

“That’s not my problem now is it?”

“Don’t do this! I’m begging you!”

He screams again as Kayain barges in. He doesn’t say a word as he marches up to the man and tears him off the fridge. Diana knows when Kayain has that look in his eye, it’s best not to disagree with him for any reason.

She follows him as he drags him to a balcony, turns him around, grabs him by his tie, and hangs him off the edge.

“OOOWWW! Don’t drop me! OOW!”

“Now, what are you really up to jackass?”

“The countess, OOW, told me to get those two by any means necessary, OOW! They’ve got something that belongs to her and she wants it back! That’s all I, OOW, know I swear!”

“Not good enough! And you’d better talk faster before I loose my grip.”

“OOW! Oh God! Ok, Ok! They were doing some experiments and that soda they drank had the contents, OOW!”

“What was in the soda?”

“I don’t know! All I, OOW, know is it’s in their system and we need it back for a project!”

“How do they plan on removing it?”

“They can control it! OOW, and they can also remove it just as easily!”

“Good, then you will go tell them to stop it. Or else I will visit you again personally.”

“OOW, The countess will not be swayed so easily!”

“I can tell the world about what you’ve told me.”

“It’s not that easy! They’ve got the power. They, OOW, own the police and the whole justice system! It’s literally impossible to convict her in any court!”

Kayain knew those types of people, they really got his blood boiling. No matter how many times you try, they will never go to jail. These people had fields where they harvested lawyers, each a mindless, relentless machine that can twist the law in their favor. It literally was impossible to get any justice on these people.

He also knew that the Vigilante way was the only true way there would be justice for these criminals.

He frowned at the man and said,” You know something mister lawyer? You’re absolutely right. Legally there is no way we can harm this, countess.”

Kayain pulled him back over and threw him to the floor. The man slowly tried to get up, and Kayain pushed him back down and said,” I didn’t say you could get up! I know your type and I know you put good men behind bars. You do this in the name of your company, and get loads of money for it! Tell me, how do you sleep at night knowing that you’ve sentenced some little daughter’s daddy behind bars because he didn’t give in to your pompous threats?! Hua?! Tell me!”

“I-I…”

“Hey! I’m talking to you!” said Kayain as he slapped the man. “Don’t look at the floor! Look at me! Tell me! Do you believe what you do is right? Hua? HEY! I said look at me not at the floor! There’s no answers down there!  Look at me in the eyes and TELL ME!”

“Kayain,” said Diana carefully. “Please, let’s discuss what we need to do next.”

Kayain sneered and spit at the man as he stormed out with Diana. He sharply turns around and says,” Don’t you dare get up! Stay put!” And with that he slams the balcony door shut.

“Kayain,” said Diana very quietly. “Are you thinking about little Sarah?”

“Di,” He said with his lip trembling. “When I looked in that man’s eyes earlier I saw his face again. Same look, same job, same everything…”

“Kayain… please don’t.”

Diana sighed. She remembered their visit to Q’Hagia recently. There they suffered a terrible defeat to a corporation called Nexus.

Nexus was a company very much like Crey. They dealt in things from pharmaceutical drugs, food products, vehicle production, machine production, communications, and many other things.

They were extremely powerful and were supposedly untouchable.

A man named Arikh Marrion had contacted them and explained that he wanted out of the company because of all the corruption. He had seen and turned a blind eye to many of the horrible experiments that went on in Nexus, and he had enough. He was a family man now, with a beautiful little daughter. The last thing he ever wanted was for his daughter to find out of the things that happened at work.

When he tired to leave, Nexus didn’t take kindly to it. He held many of their secrets, and the last thing they wanted was a liability. A friend from work gave him a warning that they were coming after him, so he asked them to help.

The Vigilantes tried to hide the rest of the family by sending them away to Matronia. But they were unaware that they were already too late. From the moment Arikh put in his resignation, he was being tracked. Eventually they found the rest of his family, the mother and the 5-year-old daughter. When their agents paid them a visit, they killed her mother and made it look like Arikh had done it. They kidnapped the daughter and made it look like he did that as well.

While Sarah was kidnapped they performed horrible experiments to her. They told the Vigilantes that they would let her go if he turns himself in and never says a word against them. Cherry begged him not to do it, and they would not keep their word. She pleaded with him to let them take care of the situation. Despite Cherry’s advice to the man, he was desperate enough to give himself up to end his daughter’s suffering.

It was an impossible case to win. The judge, and the jury were all hand selected by Nexus. Kayain was in the courtroom with Cherry, Danyel, and Diana. Kayain still remembers the lawyer that did all that too him. He remembers the arrogance, the smug satisfaction in his face as he continued his assault with no remorse or mercy.

He wanted so badly to tear that man to pieces.

The verdict was a death sentence for the nature of the case. The wife was savagely murdered, and the daughter was raped and tortured. They had brought in Sarah, who had supposedly been ‘found’, to testify. But Sarah was tormented to insanity, and all she would do is scream. The father died early in his misery for his wife and daughter. Nexus was left unharmed, and much richer due to the publicity.

When there was nothing more they could do, they decided it was time to leave. Kayain hated defeat, but the damage was done, and there was no fixing it.

Before they left Kayain went to see little Sarah in the hospital. During his visit, he brought her a chocolate bunny filled with cream, which he knew was her favorite. Sarah didn’t speak anymore, just had horrible fits, or would react with extreme violence. When Kayain entered the room she was having a fit. She noticed him and suddenly went quiet, surprising the nurses. He asked the nurses if he could have some time with her, and they reluctantly agreed. They gave Sarah, her last doses of medicine for the day and left the room.

Kayain sat in silence with her for a very long time. He remembered her as a very outgoing and friendly child. She was a natural Daddy’s girl, and became very attached to Kayain quickly. While they were under their protection, Kayain would play with little Sarah and keep her entertained.

While Cherry and the others would be discussing plans, he would be either singing to her, tossing her in the air, chasing her, tickling her, have tea parties, or teach her board games. And every time he’d come by, she’d latch on to him and want to sit on his shoulders. Those two seemed inseparable, and Cherry thought it was the cutest thing.

As he sat beside her, he looked into her eyes. The Sarah he knew was gone. The insanity had taken hold of her, and he saw it there looking back at him. He wanted so badly to lash out at Nexus, and wouldn’t know where to begin. He felt completely helpless.

Suddenly, Sarah stood up from her chair, and ran to Kayain. She jumped on him and wrapped her arms around him and said,” I love you Kayain…”

Kayain didn’t know what to do, so he embraced her back. He held her tightly in his arms for what seemed like an eternity. Then her arms went slack, and she grew cold. Kayain drew back and looked at her.

Little Sarah was dead; she died peacefully in his arms.

Kayain embraced her again and wept.

It wasn’t till the next day upon autopsy they found that little Sarah had been poisoned through the IV that one of the nurses used. Upon further investigations, someone impersonated a nurse and had gotten in with the poison.

Some people called it negligence, but the Vigilantes knew better. It was Nexus, finishing up the job.

And at that moment, Kayain could see the trouble starting all over again. This time, they were the victims.

“Di…” he said. “What happened with Little Sarah wasn’t the first time. And it isn’t going to be the last either. That man out there has probably ruined many people like Little Sarah, and plenty more. He deserves pain, Di. Pain and humiliation.”

“You’re not going to torture him are you?”

“Not my style Di, and you know that. No but Humiliation is.

“Oh good. You had me worried for a sec.”

“Di?”

“Yea?”

“Were you really going to shove that pineapple up his ass?’

“No. I just wanted him to squeal. I’ve never done that kind of stuff before.”

“Don’t. It’ll ruin you.”

She smiled slightly and said,“ So what are we going to do with these guys?”

“Listen… No matter what we do, we’ve got Crey’s attention. They’re going to be just like Nexus, and try everything they can legally to get us. But not before they use their thugs again at us. So first off, we tighten security around here.”

“Check.”

“Cherry will know what to do, she’s paranoid enough for that. Next, we need to send them a message… something to let them know what will happen if they try and stop a Vigilante,” he said as he thought for a moment. “And I think I know what. Di?”

“Yes Kayain?”

“I’m gonna need lots of permanent marker, all colors… Oh some construction paper, scissors, lots of velvet, super glue, feathers, a couple of razor blades, a large box, and a sandwich.”

“A sandwich?”

“I’m hungry.”

“Oh. Well I have most of that in my bag.”

“Really? Dare I ask why?”

“You never know…”

Kayain walked back to the living area and pulled over the two Paragon Protectors to the balcony. The man was still cowering on the floor, and he put his foot on his chest, leaned over and said,” Alright scumbag, it’s time for a little fun.”

“W-what are you going to do?!”

“I’m going to mail you in a box to Crey Corp.”

“You can’t be serious!”

“Oh yes, Indeed I am!”

“Why are you doing this?!”

“Let’s just say, this is the only language you guys understand. And it’s either leave here in a body bag, or a shipping box. Your choice.”

He wasn’t used to people in charge. When he was in cases like these he was in complete control most of the time. And at the moment he was not in control of anything. Especially not his bladder.

“All right, all right, the box!” he said weakly.

“Good. You’re going back to Crey Corp first class pal!”

“T-this isn’t going to hurt is it?”

“I hope so,” said Kayain as he punched the man, knocking him out.

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Damn, thought Cherry. It’s not supposed to be like this. Regina’s supposed to be just a tag along. And now I’m the one who feels like a third wheel! This isn’t right. Not to mention this traffic jam is horrid!

“So,” said Cherry taking a stab at conversation. “Ah, what kind of music do you listen to LD?”

“It doesn’t matter really. You can go ahead and turn on the radio seeing how we’re going to be here a while.”

“Anything you prefer?”

“No.”

“Ok.”

“Except that,” he said as Cherry turned to a country station.

“Well I don’t know what stations you have here so let’s see…”

“And that. Don’t play that.” He said as he heard a rap station.

“Ok…”

“No pop music either. I can’t stand it.”

“What about-“

“Not that either.”

“And-“

“Nope.”

“You know for someone who has no preference in music you certainly are picky.”

“Yea I know… What’s that? A dance station? Oh man I hate-“

“I dig those beats,” said Regina. “Makes me want to dance, don’t you agree?”

“Oh yea!” said Lord Daniel. “Definitely! One of my favorite stations! Keep it there.”

Cherry refrained from laughing. She knew he wasn’t into dance music, and knew that Regina knew he didn’t either.

“You know we all do some remixes ourselves,” she said.

“Really? You guys do remixes?”

“Yea, we do all kinds of music,” said Cherry.

 “Yea, we all have DJ names we made up too,” said Regina. “I’m DJ Paradox, Cherry here is Mindstorm, Danyel is Entropy, Diana just uses her name, and Kayain is Buckfutter.”

Daniel gave a sharp laugh when he heard Kayain’s name. “That Kayain is something else isn’t he?” he said.

“You have no idea,” said Cherry.

“So, you guys really do play all kinds of music eh?”

“Sure do. Consider traveling light years at a time. Traveling takes a couple weeks, or even months sometimes. So we have lots of free time while traveling. Why do you ask though?”

“Well I’m having a charity concert in a few weeks, and was wondering if you guys would come and play… You know if you want to.”

“I’m all for that,” said Cherry. “What kind of music are we talking about?”

“All things considered, we’re going to stick with rock. Nothing heavy please, since we’re going to have families there.”

“We can do that. How about it Gina?”

“Sounds great! Oh Danny, you’re so thoughtful, inviting us to play at your concert.”

“Ah-ha, well I’d need to hear some of your music first, then you can play in the charity concert.”

“And did you hear that Cherry? It’s a concert for charity! Geeze Danny, you’re kind… and handsome to boot,” said Regina as she messed with Daniel’s hair from the backseat. Daniel grinned broadly and Cherry looked away making notions like she was going to puke.

----------------------------------------------

“What the hell was going on here?” said Danyel putting his hands on his hips. “Look at that! There’s pie all over the floor. Cherry’s going to have a fit! And what’s in that box?”

“You mean you didn’t hear anything?” asked Kayain.

“Notta thing man. You mind telling me what’s going on here?”

“Ah I will in a minute. I’d rather have everyone here though.”

“And what’s in that box?”

“Ah, a good question, but the better question is can you teleport it somewhere specific?”

“That takes a great deal of concentration. And right now I want some answers!”

“All right, I’ll give you the gist of it. You remember Nexus?”

Danyel frowned and said,“ I still have nightmares about it.”

“Same here. How about Crey Corp? Ever hear of them?”

“Somewhat… No, no, let me guess; Crey is an evil company like Nexus, and they sent some goons to rough us up right?”

“Dead on balls accurate.”

“Damnit,” he said as he folded his arms in a Cherry-like way. “Sometimes I hate being right. So what does Crey want with us?”

“They want Biggs and Lu Bu. That soda they drank had some experimental technology in it. And I think it’s some pretty heavy tech for them to want it this badly.

“They send the usual lawyer with some thugs?”

“Right again.”

Danyel thought for a moment about this. When an overpowered company does that, it means they’re probably not doing something legal. He knew that this was going to develop into something big. He asked,“ What has Ami said?”

“She said the reason she couldn’t find what was wrong with them was because she was looking for something biological, and this was something else. This kind of stuff is beyond her, and there’s nothing she can do about something like that.”

Danyel nodded and looked away rubbing his chin.

“Is there anything you could cook up?” asked Kayain. “Some kind of potion that would poof this away?”

“It’s not that simple, Kayain. I’d have to get a few samples of the tech, and run tests on what works and what will react badly.”

“So it’ll take some time?”

“A long time. As you know, Magic and Tech don’t work very well together without some kind of catalyst. Finding out the exact component with that specific tech will be excruciatingly difficult.”

“I didn’t understand a word of that Dan. All I know is that they will more than likely die if we don’t do something. And Cherry won’t let her teammates get tossed to some company and be chopped to bits for some tech.”

“Let’s call the others here… Oh, there you are Solo.”

“That’s Ango,” said Ango.

“Oh so you’re Ango today?” asked Danyel.

“What do you mean? I have always been Ango…”

Solo’s alter ego Ango was unaware of his other half. Sometimes you just had to look closely at them to tell them apart. For example Ango, who was a ninja, would be sneaking around, while Solo would lumber around.

“All right Ango, where were you when this took place?”

“Meditating.”

Another difference was when Ango said he was meditating, he really was. When Solo said it he was looking at some interesting pictures with a box of Kleenex at his side.

“Ok, and where was Kat- Oh my…”

Kat walks in with his body covered in a sheet of ice.

“Guys, I finally worked out my fire shield spell! Can you guys see the fire on me?”

“Uhh... Kat, you might want to look again,” said Danyel.

“What? I can’t find my eye. It flew away this morning. Right now I’m looking at a bird’s nest. But that’s ok It usually comes back when it feels like it.”

“Right… About your fire shield, well… It’s not a fire shield. Can you feel it?”

“What do you mean it’s not a fire shield? I read the Braille book of spells correctly!”

“You’re covered in ice, man.”

“Ice? Well that can’t be right… Unless I… Oh, you know I think I zigged when I should have zagged.”

“Yea man, go try again. And by the way, something big is going down, so when Cherry gets back, we’re having a group meeting.”

“Will do good buddy!”

“That solves that, now where is DeVall?”

“He went back to the ship,” said Ango.

“What?! Why?”

“Have you forgotten? It’s Dungeons and Dragons night with the crew.”

“Well I-“

“Hey where is Cherry again?” asked Kayain.

Danyel rubs his temple irritably as he says,“ Weren’t you paying attention during this morning’s meeting?”

“Ah sorry, I was staring at her breasts most of the time.”

Danyel narrows his eyes at him and says,” Do you always choose important times to stare at my sister’s chest? Well it just so happens last night I was staring at-“

“AH! Shut up! I already know what you’re going to say!”

Danyel grins smugly and says,” Anyway, it just so happens that Cherry is on her way to see this Crey Company.”

“Oh no,” says Kayain as he gets on his communicator. “Cherry! Come in!”

After a few seconds he hears,” Yes Kayain?”

“Cherry! Don’t go to Crey! They’re evil bastards! They sent some goons here to kill us!”

“Come again?” said Cherry.

“Hur hur, you said- ACK! NO! I mean you guys are in danger! If they find out who you are they’ll try and kill you!”

“Slow down Kayain. What the hell is going on?”

“Better let me talk,” said Danyel. “Hey sis, do not go to Crey’s headquarters. It’s very dangerous.”

“We’re already at the doorstep, what’s up?”

“Listen sis, these guys are no good! It’s Nexus all over again!”

There was a bit of silence on the other end for a few seconds. Then Cherry said,” You serious?”

“Dead on balls serious!” said Kayain.

“Yea sis, very serous,” said Danyel.

“All right, we won’t go in. Lemme contact Tylar and we’ll come back.”

“Hey Dan,” said Kayain. “Is it possible you can teleport this box to Cherry?”

“Well, yea it is. For the last time, what’s in this box?”

“The goons.”

“Oh,” a lifetime of Kayain knowledge finally dawned on him as he realized what the inside would probably look like. “OH! I see. Gotcha. Hey Cherry, I want to teleport something to you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

“A box. A very special box that Kayain put the goons inside.”

“Oh.” She said followed by another,” OH! I see. Gotcha. So you want to teleport them to me? I can open an astral channel temporarily, if you can send them through.”

“Sounds good. These guys are all gift wrapped in a box, so it shouldn’t be too hard.”

Danyel concentrated for a few moments, and suddenly his eyes began to glow blue. He lifted his arms slowly and the box rose in the air. The box levitated momentarily, then disappeared. Danyel soon went out of the trance and fell over.

Diana picked him up, and he said,” I’m ok. Cherry? You got it?”

“Yes… Wish I could see the expression on their faces when they open this, but I think we should leave.”

----------------------------------------------

“Umm… Countess?” said Hopkins. “There is a message for you.”

The countess looked up from her paperwork and said,” Yes? What is it?”

“I think you’d better come and see this. It’s outside.”

She sighed and sat up.

“This had better be good,” she said.

“It’s… Well it’s from some group who calls themselves the Vigilantes. I believe they’re the same group who drank the Cola.”

“Oh? I thought the situation was ‘handled’ already.”

“I thought it would be as well. But apparently Carey failed miserably, and he’s outside with a message.”

“Why doesn’t he just come up here and give it to me?”

“Because it would be very painful for him.”

The countess looked out her window to see people gathered around a little spot in the breezeway.

“Is that what you’re talking about?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Can’t you just tell me what’s going on down there?”

“I don’t want to say ma’am…”

Finally she gives up and heads to the elevators with Hopkins. 

Down on the ground floor, she sees the employees in an uproar. Once they notice her, they begin to settle down.

“All right! What’s going on here?! Everyone back to work!” said the Countess as people scattered away from her.

She approaches the lady at the front reception and asks,” What the hell is going on outside?”

“Oh something awful ma’am! Someone’s gone and done something terrible to Adrian and two Protectors ma’am!”

“Where are they?”

“Right out there ma’am. It’s disgusting what those thugs did!”

The countess steps outside and sees people around the breezeway. They part to make way for her, and sees what they’re all talking about.

Adrian Carey and the two protector’s heads are all shaved completely of all hair. Adrian is apparently glued with his lips pressing the male protector’s butt, and likewise the female one is kissing his butt. All of their fingers seem glued to a flip off position, and their bodies are covered in feathers. The female one has construction paper over her eyes, and written her outfit says,’ The common folk’. Adrian has a pair of horns on his head made from construction paper, and written on him is ‘Crey Cox’. And the male one has a pair of wings, and the words,’ The Vigilantes. An ass you will kiss.’

But the biggest thing on them was the huge velvet bows. She figured they too were glued on.

“Get them help,” said the Countess. “And send them to me once they can speak. I want names. Hopkins, these Vigilantes are going to pay seriously for this.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get. But we have the upper hand. We control when those two people will die. We could use that as an advantage.”

----------------------------------------------

“They even had the hired thugs as well eh?” said Tylar.

“Yea man,” said Kayain. “Hundreds of em! Fortunately I took them all on. Di and Ami were there too. They helped… a little. But I knew if they killed me, then they were probably going to try and hurt them. But I took care of them cause I’m so freaking nice.”

Tylar sneered and said,” Kayain I find your stories lacking in credibility, but the fact that you were all in danger will not have me rebuttal to your story.

“Re-what?”

“Never mind. Anyway they were trying to harm to Ami!” He said with his fists clenched. “Oh and you two Di… So we won’t let them get away with that now will we?”

“Easy Romeo,” said Diana. “We’ll need a plan of action at this point! Cherry, what do you have?”

Cherry sat at the end of the table while they were discussing the issue. She put her hands to her chin and said,” This is indeed another Nexus type case we’ll be dealing with. Let’s look at the factors shall we?”

Cherry stood up and paced a bit as she said,” First and foremost Lu Bu and Biggs happened to ingest their equipment. What it does, we don’t know. However we do know it will kill them should Crey decide to. Therefore tampering with it is out of the question. It’s my guess that they need them alive for research purposes. That doesn’t mean though, that they will not be willing to kill them should they deem it necessary. Therefore we’re at their mercy at that point.”

She stopped and leaned over the table, purposefully putting her chest in very close proximity of Kayain’s eyes.

“Other factors,” she said. “Are legal factors. Crey will no doubt try and get the real authorities after us. Only thing is we don’t have any kinds of records here.”

“What about Freedom Corp.?” asked Danyel. “We registered online, which I can tell by the look on your face you’re not happy about.”

“No,” she said as she continued her pace. “I know they have a very secretive policy on all heroes. Don’t ask, don’t tell… Kayain, that is so not funny”

“Oh come on,” he said. “Have you seen their Longbow outfits?”

Cherry chuckled at the memory of it and says,” Ok you’re right, it is a bit funny. And about your registration I hope that you did not register this place, and only your first names.”

“My name was already taken,” said Diana with a frown. “I had to use my title as well.”

Cherry stops pacing and looks at her,” You didn’t use your full name did you?”

“No,” she said. “But I used my title Diana VII.”

Diana’s family had a small tradition of naming a daughter Diana. They would always name at least one daughter from a generation, and then either her or her siblings would name one of their children Diana.

“I suppose that’s ok, as long as you don’t use your last name. I mean there’s probably plenty variations of the name Diana in this town right?”

“About five hundred and eighty two to be exact,” she said as everyone looked at her. ”I read the phonebook last night.”

No one had any doubts about that. Diana was like a sponge when it came to gathering information from books.

“In that case,” said Tylar. “Perhaps you can tell us where to find a woman named Janet Kellum?”

“Let’s see,” she said as she looked upward. “Janet Kellum… there was two of those, one was in 2301 Southeast street, Brickstown, and another was 45890 Watercurrent, at the hotel Vance Apartment number 409 of Founders Falls.”

“Not bad,” said Cherry. “We’ll try them both. Tylar, who is this Janet Kellum?”

“Well,” he said and cleared his throat. “While I was over at D.A.T.A. they mentioned this Bureau called the Federal Bureau of Superpowered Affairs. FBSA for short. They were talking about how they deal in special cases like… oh say the government has a dossier on some mobsters from another country, right? Normally that kind of thing is for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Well let’s just say the mobsters can shoot lightning from their fingertips. Then the jurisdiction switches to the FBSA’s hands.”

“Ok, so it’s the feds for supers,” said Cherry. “And Janet Kellum is an agent I suppose?”

“Indubitably.”

“I like it when he talks all funny-like,” said Kayain.

“Kayain, hush,” snapped Cherry.

“When I mentioned Crey,” said Tylar “All the folks who worked there said they were very shifty and shouldn’t be trusted. When they hacked- Err…”

“It’s ok Tylar. You don’t have to cover for them just because they hack sites like you do.”

“Ah-ha… Well ok, they hack the bureau’s database every now and then just to prove they can. They showed me how to do it if you want.”

“That would be good,” said Cherry as she rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “Find what you can and run it through our data sponge.”

Diana perks her head up startled. She blinks and tries to pretend she was awake and says,” Hua? Wha? Someone call me?”

“We need you to remember loads of things on a website,” said Cherry. “Probably a couple thousand terabytes of information.”

“Mmmkay, I’ll have it done sometime tomorrow,” said Diana as she laid her head back down.

“Janet Kellum has been assigned on a case against Crey,” said Tylar. “She’s personally trying to bring down the countess.”

“Now that takes guts,” said Kayain. “With Nexus the federal agent who tried to investigate was never heard from again.”

“And life went on like usual anyway,” said Cherry sadly. “All right, if this Kellum woman wants a bit of help taking the Countess down, I say we help out. We’ll get in contact with her and tell her about our situation. This will definitely perk her interest.”

Cherry sat back down in her chair and said,” All right, the game plan is we get in contact with Janet Kellum, as well as keeping extra security up here. Now I seriously doubt they will attack the entire building to get to us. That’s a bit extreme. But I would avoid windows, and keep the curtains drawn at all times. Snipers can come from many directions. Also be weary of the room service.”

Cherry gave Kayain a scowl and said,” This was the reason I wanted for us to bring our own food.”

“Right, I’m always wrong!” said Kayain rolling his eyes.

Cherry, not in the mood to argue said,” Thanks, but we already knew that.”

“Hey! I-“

“Danyel and I will place up barriers around the area to let us know who comes in and out. Nothing harmful since we have maids and such up here. Just something to let us know when they come up.”

“Gotcha,” said Danyel. “I’ll put up a web on the door that only allows it to open for us.”

“Sounds good,” said Cherry. “ Now does anyone have any good ideas at this point?”

Kayain raised a hand enthusiastically and said,” OH! Me! I have a great idea that no one has thought of before.”

“Oh, hold on a sec,” said Danyel as he pulled out something from his pocket. “These are always good. I put his ideas on my website under my Humor section.”

Cherry put her hand on her face and said,” What Kayain…”

“Get this. Tylar you should be paying attention cause this is a good idea and you should patent it. We could have a television made completely out of chocolate. It’s inexpensive cause it’s chocolate, and it lets you watch TV at the same time. It’ll be called, the ‘TV Dinner’.”

She peered at his grinning face through her fingers and said,” Kayain… In the deep dark realms of your mind, may I ask why- No, I won’t ask why, but where in the world did this non sequitur, and completely moronic answer come from?”

Kayain grinned wider and said,” Your momma.”

I will get you back for this Kayain, thought Cherry.

“Does anyone else have anything relevant to say?”

“What about poison in the water?” asked Regina.

“Again, a little too extreme. This place has top executives and head honchos for many other organizations that they own, or some people here could be important executives that they need. Killing absolutely everyone in the building would definitely get our attention, and the attention of a very large force of FBSA agents.”

“What kinds of attacks should we expect from them?” asked Kat.

“Well they already threatened with some goons, next comes the less overt approach. Assassination, kidnapping, and such. Just stay vigilant like you always do, and you’ll be ok.”

“What about these legal threats?” asked Regina.

Cherry paced slowly again and said,“ They’re probably working in the intricate threads of the law as we speak. The minute we make a move on them, they’ll pounce with their lawyers and the local police.”

“If Crey’s goons were able to find us,” said Danyel. “Then would it be safe to assume that they could give the authorities information on our whereabouts?”

“Yes, you could assume that. But consider that this whole apartment suite is being checked out with Lord Daniel’s account. Think about it. Crey had to have done lots of illegal searches on this to get information on Lord Daniel to find out any kind of association with us. Crey would have to give an explanation on how and why they know this. As a matter of fact, I’m curious on how they did find where we were.”

“What about an anonymous tip?” asked Regina.

“They don’t typically go by a completely ‘anonymous’ tip. And even then, they’d need a warrant to come inside to investigate. And I pride you guys for your ability to hide things… well at least our illegal things.”

Kayain, who felt a whole minute go by without his valuable input, said,” Cherry?”

“And about these shields,” said Tylar. “They won’t interfere with our work now will they?”

“No,” she said as she leaned purposefully toward Kayain again. “At least not much. You might feel their presence, but that’s it.”

“Cherry?”

“It won’t burn my skin will it?” asked Tylar.

“Not the ones we’re going to use. Like I said earlier, I don’t want bystanders hurt.”

“Cherry?”

“I see,” said Tylar thoughtfully. “Just a little nuance?”

“Cherry?”

“Yes, a very little nuisance. And we’ll deal with it like we Vigilantes deal with all minor annoyances and nuisances-”

“Cherry?”

“We ignore it until it simply goes away.”

“Cherry?”

Cherry turned around and waited until Kayain stopped. She turned back and smiled as she said,” Any more questions?”

----------------------------------------------

Janet Kellum was ready for a good long sleep. After a long day at the office, and pulling a muscle at the gym, she was worn out and ready for the weekend. She got into bed after a warm shower, turned off the lights, turned on the white noise maker, and closed her eyes.

A few minutes of silence went by before the phone blasted right next to her ear.

Shit, she thought. I knew I forgot something. Gotta turn that damn ringer off at night.

She sleepily reached over and picked it up and said,” This better be good.”

The female voice on the other line said,” Umm… Hi!”

“Can I help you?”

She heard several other voices on the line and finally heard,” Oh, right! Umm… You don’t know who I am, but I know where you live-“

“I know what you did last summer!” she heard another voice say and laugh.

“Kayain! Shut up!”

Janet hung up.

She turned off the ringer and lay back down. Moments later she found that when the phone rings, there is a light that flashes on her phone. The light lit up the entire room, and really bothered anyone trying to rest.

She picked up the phone and said,” Leave me alone!”

“Please Janet! I’m sorry about that. My brother was being an idiot. Don’t hang up, this is very important.”

“What do you want, and how do you know my name?”

“You’re Janet Kellum of the FBSA right?”

“That’s me, and how did you find me?”

“Process of elimination. The other Janet Kellum was a dockside worker with a beard and a peg leg.”

“Very impressive reasoning,” she said sarcastically. “But what do you want?”

“My name is Diana, and we hear you’re on a special assignment against Crey Corp.”

Janet yawned a bit and said,“ I will be after I wrap up a missing persons case.”

“Well, me and my team were recently attacked by Crey, and we want to fight back!”

“That’s lovely dear, but do you realize what time it is?”

The voice seemed to consider this for a moment and said,“ Time for justice?”

“Time for you to get a clock, it’s 2am.”

“Listen Janet, that’s not all. My friends got sick drinking this cola they were making.”

“Crey Cola? They were advertising it, but it hasn’t come out yet.”

“That’s cause it’s infested with Nando-Technology”

Another voice from the back said,” Nano-Technology!”

“Right, that’s what I said, Nano-Technology. The soda is full of Nando-whatsits, and they are under Crey’s control!”

Janet rubbed her forehead and said,” Ok so you have my information and Crey has attacked you. If you let me get some sleep for now can we meet somewhere tomorrow?”

“Goodie! Yes, yes! Let’s meet tomorrow then. Where would you like to meet?”

“Let’s meet by the sculpture in north Founder’s falls. Let’s make this around 3 pm, all right?”

“Sounds good… We’ll wave you down, we know what you look like.”

“You know a lot about me, how?”

The voice said, very cheerfully,” We hacked F.B.S.A.’s database and read all about you!”

“Mmm mhm…” said Janet tiredly.

“For one we know you are 26, Brown hair, 5’5, Sleeps with a teddy bear-“

“Whoa, whoa! Wait a minute, how did they find that out?”

“A teddy bear named Smokey. You sometimes pick your nose when you think people aren’t looking, but they are. You have a feminine itch that’s very embarrassing. It’s that time of the month for you, and-“

“Ok! Stop there, I need to speak with my supervisor and get that info gone or classified…”

“Oh supposedly it is classified, your firewall is weak though.”

“It’s a ten thousand codex firewall! The top of the line!”

“Only ten thousand?” Janet hears the voice say to the others,” Heh, she says it’s only ten thousand.”

After hearing the chuckles on the other line she says,“ Ok that’s enough. I’m going to sleep now, I will meet you people tomorrow.”

“Sounds good!” said the voice as she hung up.

Maybe, she thought. Maybe I should actually read my own database sometimes. I’m going to have a talk with some people. I mean really! If some hackers can easily break into our system and get that kind of information, who knows what else they could do? I just hope meeting these people isn’t a mistake…

----------------------------------------------

“Janet? You awake?” said Maxwell Christopher. “Hey, get you some more coffee already, you look dead.”

“Mmm? Oh sorry Max. I didn’t get enough sleep last night.”

“You’ve been working way to hard lately. You sure you’re up to the Crey investigation?”

“Yes, I am.”

Maxwell knew she wanted the Nemesis case that he was assigned to, but she took the Crey case anyway.

“It’s just that I got this weird call last night,” she said while rubbing her head. “Some people want to meet up with me. They said they were attacked by Crey, and have some Nano-Tech problems. Sounds like the old Project Revenant case revived. But at the moment I’m seeing weird connections now between Crey and this missing persons case. Here let me show you something.”

Janet pulls out a book from her desk and hands it to Max.

“That,” she says. “Is the diary of Julianne Thompson. The missing lady in this case. Has a lot of idealistic work in there, very lofty at most. Well strange thing was, when we were sent to recover it, Crey was there. None of them would say why though. I talked to some heroes she worked with and tried to recruit for her causes, and they say the same thing about her. She had done hard time, so she was unable to gain any hero’s trust.”

Maxwell skims through the book and nods,” She sounds like an activist. Like your typical,’ let’s go out and make the world a better place’ kind of person.”

“Ah,” said Janet. “You may be right about that. She spent time in the slammer though. Apparently she got involved with a crooked politician, and ended up in jail along with him. Sad story really… After a time in jail she started getting more and more aspirations, but could never do it because of her reputational stigma. The last anyone saw of her was at a party in Blackpool, England. After that she was not heard from for a long while.”

“Maybe she went into hiding? Maybe she was embarrassed at the party?” said Maxwell thoughtfully.

“No, because they did in fact find her, but she was mutilated beyond recognition. She was found thanks to the efforts of the local heroes, and they eventually did identify her.”

“I see. But you said this case wasn’t wrapped up. You found the woman, but what’s the problem?”

“Forensics had a hard time identifying the body, because there was no dental records or anything on her. But they eventually found the body to be hers. Now I know you might think that this is a case-closed already, but I have my doubts.”

“Such as?”

“Well first off was the presence of Crey. Next was when Julianne’s mother was at the burial, she swears up and down that the woman displayed was not her daughter. Now don’t look at me like that, I have a bad feeling about this. Something just doesn’t seem right, and that’s what I’d like to find out. And because of Crey’s presence I can investigate them at the same time.”

“Two birds with one stone, not bad.”

“What makes it very suspicious is that Crey was at the exact location at the same time our recovery team was. They need to be questioned before this case can be officially closed.”

“Just don’t work yourself into the ground ok? What’s your next step on this?”

“I managed to swipe this,” she says as she pulls out a lock of hair from her drawer. “I asked the mortician to give me a small lock of hair before the burial as evidence. I’m thinking if anything I can get the help of a mystic hero. Maybe Cadao Kestrel-“

“You’re thinking of using him?” said Maxwell disapprovingly. “ Instead of good hard evidence you’re turning to a witch doctor?”

Not, a witch doctor,” said Janet indignantly. “He’s a voodoo master.”

Maxwell rolled his eyes, and said,” Yea, real big difference.”

“Look, I know this isn’t by the book, but I’ve already told you I have a bad feeling about this, and I don’t know who else to turn to.”

“Well I just hope you know what you’re doing. I don’t want you getting all worked up like the Adams Case.”

Janet tucked the lock of hair safely in a briefcase and stood up.

“I won’t,” she said. “And I’ve got to go now to meet up with some folks.”

She suddenly stopped in the doorway and looked back realizing something.

“Oh Max,” she said. “ We need to clear some files in our database profile…”

“Why’s that?”

“Because I know about that, ah, rash on your thighs now.”

Maxwell’s jaw dropped and he turned away embarrassed.

“Yea,” she said as she continued to walk out. “We’ve got a joker around here somewhere, so be careful.”

----------------------------------------------

“Yo! Over here!” said Kayain as he waved down a vendor.

Cherry, Danyel, Kayain, and Regina went out to meet Janet Kellum at Founders Falls. Diana went to her new Supergroup’s headquarters to speak with the leader Mystic Wizard. Tylar, and Ami stayed behind with the others to keep the place safe.

Kayain finished his order and walked over to the rest.

“Let’s see,” he said as he tossed something to Danyel. “Burger for you, Chicken Nuggets for you Gina, five hot dogs for me, and what did you say you wanted babe?”

“Ice Cream, Kayain, I told you that several times,” said Cherry slightly annoyed.

“Oh… I knew that, I was just testing if you knew… you know, had to make sure.”

“Just go already.”

Cherry sits on a bench and says,” Hope she shows up soon. This area is kind of bad. Those creepy mages are hanging out in the alleyways, and so are those military nuts.”

“Yea who are those people anyway?” said Regina.

“Don’t look like the normal military here. As far as I know this isn’t a police state, so the fact that they carry so many heavy weapons in public means they’re some kind of nutcase militia group.”

“This could be the reason I sensed so much residue magic in the area,” said Danyel. “From what I hear, those mages are called the Circle of Thorns. They specialize in the dark arts, and in the worst way too.”

“You mean like pacts with demons, sacrifices, and that sort of nonsense?” asked Cherry.

“Yes that kind of nonsense. Sis, this is some serious stuff. Making those kinds of pacts can-“

“I know, I know, summon Hell’s wrath, and unspeakable horrors upon the world of the living.”

“I really wish you wouldn’t take it so lightly,” he said, folding his arms.

“I don’t. It’s just all the same to me. They want to spread chaos and destruction everywhere, whether they summon, oh I don’t know, Damien the destroyer or Lloyd the slightly perturbed.”

“But magic’s not that simple! You-“

“It is to me,” she interrupted. “And I have no intention on learning about magic because, I can’t use it. That’s your responsibility.”

“That’s funny, cause people already call you a witch,” said Kayain as he approached them.

“Ha, ha. Where’s my ice cream?”

“Right here babe! One for me, and one for-“

Before he was able to finish his sentence, Danyel magically tripped Kayain, causing him to splatter the ice cream all over Cherry’s chest.

Danyel looked away innocently as Kayain gets up quickly and says,” Ah sorry! Don’t move, I’ve got a napkin!”

Cherry tries wiping it off as Kayain clumsily grabs her breasts and smears the ice cream instead.

“KAYAIN!” she says smacking his arm away.

“SORRY!”

“Come at a bad time?” says someone from behind.

“Ah, Miss Kellum,” says Danyel pleasantly. “Good to meet you! We are the Vigilantes.”

Janet Kellum looks at the scene of Regina laying down on a bench laughing, Kayain trying to grab Cherry’s chest, and Danyel smiling contently.

“Nice, ah, to meet you guys as well.”

“Give me that!” said Cherry as she took the napkin from Kayain. “I’m terribly sorry about that Miss Kellum. We had a little accident, and Kayain can usually turn an accident into a disaster.”

“I was trying to help!” he said.

“We’re the Vigilantes,” she said ignoring him. “We got in contact with you the other night. We’ve attracted the attention of Crey Corp and we heard you were investigating the case.”

“Something like that,” she said taking a seat on a bench. “I’ve been assigned to investigate Crey Corp specifically. But I’m trying to finish up a case at the moment.”

“Well whatever you have would be useful. We know nothing about them except for their methods of execution. Oh, and here, take this.”

Cherry hands a small holograph device to Janet, and she stares in surprise.

“This technology, where did you get it?”

“We’re offworlders. This is a mere child’s toy in my civilization.”

“Neat!”

“May I have your attention to this though,” says Cherry as she points to the hologram. “This was the only thing we were able to safely extract from my comrades body. It’s a component for a machine that’s remotely operated from Crey Corp. This was the only one we dared remove lest the remote host receive warning of tampering kill my teammates.”

Janet studied the diagram for a while and said,” This is all very interesting. But I’m afraid this isn’t solid evidence.”

“What do you mean?!” said Kayain, a little upset. “This is damn good evidence! Crey’s killing my team and this can prove it!”

“You misunderstand me,” said Janet calmly. “I mean this won’t hold over in courts. You’ve definitely got my attention with this. And this is well worth investigating. You’ll need something more solid, like finding the actual link between Crey and these devices. Besides that, there’s little I can do about your teammates condition. But I will help you guys in any way I can.”

“What can you provide us?” asked Cherry.

“All my information is on file back in the office. If you want we can go get it, but I need to finish up something that’s been bothering me about my current case.”

“What seems to be the problem?”

“I had a missing persons case, and we found a body that was identified as the lady we were looking for. But something seems wrong about it. Something doesn’t add up, especially since we found a hint of Crey involved.”

“In that case, something is wrong. What are you going to do?”

Janet pulls out a lock of hair and says,” This is part of the hair from the lady that was found. Forensics identified the body as the missing person Julianne Thompson. But her mother swears that the body she saw wasn’t her daughter. So I’m taking this lock of hair to Cadao Kestrel, a voodoo master.”

Danyel waves his hand dismissively and says,” Hand it here, I will get the information for you.”

“Are you a wizard?”

“It’s the pointy hat isn’t it? It’s a dead giveaway. Name’s Danyel. High Archmage of the Universal Arcane Society at your service.”

“Well the title certainly sounds important. What can you do?”

“Just let me see that, and I will go to the astral plane and find the owner.”

Janet shrugs and hands Danyel the lock of hair.

“Thank you… Now let’s see, where did I put that… Ah! Here we go.”

Danyel pulls out a strange band inscribed with runes. He takes off his hat and puts the band on. He sits cross-legged on the floor with his hat in his lap.

“What’s that on his head?” asks Janet.

“That,” says Cherry, amused. “Helps him connect to the astral realm at an incredible speed and do as he wishes with ease. It was given to him by an old witch, for saving her life. So he calls it his ‘High Speed Broad-Band Connection’.”

“Oh…” says Janet as she thinks for a moment about it. “OH! Ha, ha! I get it.”

“Hur hur, Broad band…” snickers Kayain.

After a couple of minutes Danyel comes out of the trance and stands up.

“Well,” he said. “That was interesting. I talked to the receptionist and she was able to let me talk to a lady named Clarissa Can Dorn. She says the last thing she remembers was she was at a party and went to the ladies room to refresh her makeup. Suddenly a lady came up behind her, took her to the floor and strangled her to death. She remembers clearly though that the woman was in fact named Julianne Thompson. She remembers her because she had made a speech earlier that was laughed at by the people attending. Personally she didn’t think much of her, but a murderess… well I guess anything’s possible eh?”

Janet stared disbelieving for a moment. Things were starting to make sense now, and this was the key.

“Danyel,” she said. “Are you absolutely sure it was Julianne Thompson who did this?”

“One hundred percent sure. I’m not a high Archmage because I pull rabbits out of my pointy hat you know.”

“But… Clarissa Can Dorn was Countess Crey’s maiden name.”

“Whoa!” said Kayain who obviously had been thinking a bit too hard. “Now that is weird! I mean think about it, how can she be dead and controlling Crey at the same time? Unless… she’s a ghost and is haunting the place! Oooh, scary.”

Regina chuckled and Danyel slapped his hand to his forehead.

“Kayain,” said Cherry. “Please stop thinking. You’re giving me a headache.”

“What this really means,” said Janet. “Is that Julianne killed the real Clarissa Can Dorn and impersonated her… How devious. At the time, Clarissa was engaged to the Count Crey, so she took her place at the altar and married him. But in order to trick everyone, she must have used cosmetic surgery.”

“That was my next guess, honest,” said Kayain.

“This is serious business everyone. If we can find good solid evidence that will hold up in courts, we can take her down for murder. I want you guys to come back to the office with me, we should discuss more about this. Please, come with me.”

They all followed Janet back to her car, and on the way Kayain said to Cherry,” You believe me right? About that being my next guess?”

“Oh, Kayain. Of course I believe you,” said Cherry like a psychiatrist does when they’re slapping on the straight jacket.

----------------------------------------------

Diana walked the halls of the Mystic Warrior’s underground base. She found that many supergroup bases were held underground, and because of that, the Mystic Warriors like many others, had put up a special recall unit that brings members to the base in it’s hidden location.

Many of the areas were still expanding, and off limits. But overall she enjoyed the magical presence because it made her feel warm and tingly.

She wandered aimlessly for a while until she came into a small room with a heroine sitting cross-legged on the floor.

A sensible person would knock before entering, so Diana barged in right behind her and said,” HI!”

The poor heroine was taken completely off guard and jumped up. She turned around quickly and said,” Oh my! You scared the life out of me! I didn’t hear you come in… Wait, how did you get past my magic barriers?”

“I, uh, I absorbed them actually. Sorry.”

“You what?! But how- OH! I know you know, I heard all about you. You’re the new girl Diana, with the anti-magic abilities.”

“That’s me!” said Diana cheerfully.

“Indeed. My name is Mystica. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Yes, where is the leader, Mystic Wizard?”

“At the moment he is in the training room. I wouldn’t bother him if I were you. He’s really serious when he trains you know.”

“It’s very important you know. I really do need to talk to him.”

“Well the training room is down the hall and to the right. Just be careful when you enter. Please try and make yourself known before you enter.”

“Gotcha, and sorry again.”

“Don’t worry about it, just don’t make a habit of it.”

Diana trotted down the hall and to the right where Mystica pointed out. When she approached the door, she heard the sound of thunder inside.

A sensible person would take that as a kind of warning not to enter when you hear thunder inside a room, so Diana barged in without knocking.

Mystic Wizard was standing in the center of the training area with 3 small dark clouds in front of him. Diana watched as a random cloud threw a bolt of lightning at him, and he deflected it with something on his wrist.

Shot after shot he deflected just as easily as the next until the thunderclouds evaporated. He took a deep breath and several plywood boards hovered toward him from all angles. When they were close enough, he began to break them with his hands and feet, one right after another.

A sensible person would not disturb someone who is in the middle of training with lightning bolts and lightning fists, so Diana trotted behind him and was immediately sideswiped by Mystic Wizard.

Mystic Wizard stopped and looked behind him where he had swung, unsure if he had accidentally hurt someone. What he saw astonished him; Diana standing there grinning with her hand up blocking his shot with only her forearm.

Still holding back Mystic Wizard’s hand, she waves with her fingers and says,” Hi! Sorry to bother you, but I needed to talk. It’s pretty important.”

Locked in that position he continues to look at her puzzled.

“Ah…” she said. “I believe I did say I’m sorry. And it is very important.”

“No, no.” he said. “It is I who should be sorry. You caught me off guard… Quite impressive I must admit.”

“This is really awkward,” said Diana as Mystic Wizard still did not move.

Mystic Wizard looked at her with a very serious and calculating look as he said,” My dear, do you study in martial arts?”

“Amazing accuracy! What gave it away?”

Judging from her tone, she was dead serious about the question. He withdrew his arm and said,” I sense great power in you. Greater than you realize.”

“Really?” she said as she sniffed her armpits. “You might be right, but I don’t smell the power. It’s probably the deodorant though.”

“Ah-ha, and a sense of humor to match.”

“Hua?”

“Never mind. Please, come with me.”

Mystic Wizard strolled out of the training room and down the hall.

“Let me tell you a little about the Mystic Warriors my lady,” he said as they walked side by side. “Long ago I was the leader of a tribe named the Tsao. We led a long and prosperous life, until disaster struck. My people were killed long ago, and I was the only survivor. Forgotten and forsaken, I traveled the world in search of a sanctuary. I heard that in America there was a place called Paragon City, where people with extraordinary powers were accepted like normal people. That was when I decided to come here. When I arrived, I found many new experiences and challenges. I had found some place to call home, and founded the Mystic Warriors. Here, I train students who are willing to learn the ways of the Tsao.”

They both came to a room that resembled a living area, and he offered Diana a seat. He prepared some tea and offered some to Diana who gratefully accepted.

They slowly sipped on the tea as he continued,” I offer a sanctuary to those gifted in the arcane, and offer resources to those who wish to learn more about it. So you will find many of my students, and many gifted individuals who come here seeking knowledge.”

“That’s great! Cause that’s what I wanted to talk to you about!”

“How can I be of service my lady?”

“Well you see, my husband is a wizard as well, and he wanted to study the books you have, even though he’s not a member of the Mystic Warriors.”

Mystic Wizard rubbed his chin thoughtfully. And suddenly an idea came to mind. “Your husband you say? Members of family are always welcome in my home… however… Please come with me.”

Mystic Wizard led her back down the hall to the training room entryway. He pointed to a sign on the wall that Diana had neglected to read.

“Did you see this before you came in?” he asked pleasantly.

“Err… no,” she said sheepishly.

“And do you see this part?”

“Yes…”

“Novices are forbidden to enter the advanced training room. Should a novice enter the training room without permission, they will be subject to a duel by any advanced student, or even the dojo sensei, in order to prove their worth. If the novice should win, they will remain an advanced student. You see, I intend on enforcing this rule by challenging you to a duel. You must fight me or leave the Mystic Warriors.”

“Oh… ah-ha, you know I don’t normally ignore signs when I come into a room… Just a brain fart you know? Heh, no need for all this-“

“Are you refusing?”

“NO! No, no, no… But, uh, after I do this will you let my husband in to read your books?”

“Should you win, your husband is very welcome in my home at anytime. Now, prepare yourself.”

“Yikes!” she said as he came at her and struck as fast as a cobra.

Just as he suspected, Diana was extremely adept in Martial Arts. She dodged his strikes with ease and a pleasant smile on her face. When he struck low, she would either back flip or jump completely over him. When he struck high, she would limbo duck under his shots, or back shuffle.

She fought defensively until she saw him finally starting to tire. That was when she started her assault. She began with a series of quick hits in the midsection, and then attempted to grapple.

He decided grappling was not a good idea with her, and dodged it.

He stepped back for a second, but she would not let up, and closed in right away. He held up his hand and said,” STOP! That is all.”

Diana in mid-swing froze in place, and playfully toppled over.

“My lady,” he said. “Your technique, your style, and your moves are unlike anything I’ve encountered before. You have impressed me and are welcome in any training room you wish.”

“Thanks! Maybe I should have mentioned before that I’m not from this world. My sensei is my father-in-law, and he knew a Matronian style called Manas dul Argo.

“I see now. An Offworlder?”

“Yea, I think I should explain the situation now.”

----------------------------------------------

At the F.B.S.A. Headquarters, Cherry, Danyel, Kayain, and Regina sat in the office as Janet worked on the computer.

“There,” said Janet. “I was able to hack into a Crey lab Mainframe… I’m not seeing much here, but I’ll keep looking.”

After a while Regina said,” May I take a look?”

“Of course.”

Regina reached inside her belt pocket and pulled out a device, and hooked it into the computer.

Regina’s a very good hacker,” said Cherry.

“It’s necessary for the work I do,” she said.

Everyone sat patiently except for Kayain, who was bored out of his mind.

“I’m getting some coffee, does anyone want some?” asked Janet.

Everyone said they wanted some, and Kayain said,” I’ll go with you. My ass is falling asleep just sitting here.”

As they walked the halls, Janet finally got a very good look at Kayain and said,” Your outfit looks very familiar.”

“Did you ever read the Vigilante’s comic series?”

“I sure did.”

“I wrote em. Based on a true story…. Well some parts.”

“Really? Wow. I hate to admit it, but I’m a big comic fan, and a superhero fan. It’s the main reason I joined F.B.S.A… well my old reason was to meet some cute superpowered guy, that was back when I was younger though. ”

Kayain stopped walking for a moment and said,” Oh yea? You know a hero named Proto-Man?”

“Should I?”

Kayain continued to walk and said,“ Wouldn’t be a good idea. Anyway, you were saying?”

“I joined for the wrong reasons, but I ended up liking my job more than I would have expected.”

“But overall you really did get to meet, and find out all kinds of things with super powered people right?”

“Oh yes, all the time,” she said as they entered the break room.

“Good, good…” he said scratching his head a bit.

Janet put a pot on the brew, slightly annoyed that the last person who drank hadn’t done that already. She looked at Kayain and said,” You look like you want to say something.”

“Yea, I kinda do. You see, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately,” he said.

And if memory serves our readers correctly, that isn’t a good thing.

“You see,” he continued. “There was something I want to ask about super heroes but didn’t know anyone who would give me an honest answer. The question I have has great scientific value, and for some reason when I say stuff like that, my genius brother laughs. For the records, he’s also a flaming homosexual.”

“Ok,” she said with her arms folded. “I don’t know how much help I can be, but I will certainly share my knowledge of super heroes with you.”

“You might want to write this down, in case you figure it out and win some kind of prize for it.”

“I’ll remember it, thanks.”

Kayain cleared his throat and said,” Well it’s like this… You ever notice how all the really super powered babes have really big moo-moos?”

Janet laughed out loud and said,” Moo-moos?”

“Yea, really big cans. What’s so funny? I’m serious here!”

“It’s just… I never thought of that… This is amusing, continue your observation.”

“Well think about it… have you ever seen an overweight heroine? Didn’t think so. Obviously their powers have something to do with why they all look like supermodels with big ol’ hooters… I think its got something to do with metabolism… but the real question is why don’t their boobies shrink to the size of a lesbian tennis player? I mean come on, when was the last time you ever heard that when a woman works out and burns fat, her headlights get better equipped?”

“I heh, heh, I can’t think about that right now…”

“At first I thought ‘Maybe all their power is stored inside their knockers’, but wouldn’t that also mean that if they use their powers their hooters would deflate like a blown up condom?”

Janet begins to pour the coffee into cups as she says,” This is the kind of stuff you think about on your spare time?”

“Hell yea! I mean unless you wanna think that this is all like the comics where women’s bodies wouldn’t match reality. And that this world is all in the imagination of a bunch of drooling, middle aged men who’ve obviously never seen a real woman before.”

She puts the creamer and sugar in as she says,” Humm, everything looks real, and smells real. Must be real.”

“Yea, I know! This isn’t the comics, so the mystery deepens.”

She looks at the thoughtful expression on his face and says,” You’re really serious aren’t you?”

“Oh, Yes Indeed I am!”

“Is this some kind of problem?”

“Hell no! You see, and this is the scientific part, if the majority of highly powered women have this, then perhaps it has something to do with genetics, and how the body reacts to super powers.”

“Where are you going with this?”

“If we could find out why it happens… just imagine the possibilities! We could create the worlds first true breast enhancer pill! All that shit on the Internet doesn’t work, but this will.”

“Uh, hua… and you think this will work somehow?” she said skeptically.

“Why shouldn’t it? If we did find it, then imagine how successful we’d be!” he said as he suddenly thought of something else. “We could call it, get this now, we could call it,’ The cure for the common breast’.”

Janet finally stopped holding back and laughed. When she stopped she said,” Kayain… I don’t know if things work like that.”

“You know something, you’re absolutely right,” he said. “Janet, I think I’m gonna need real researchers, maybe a charity. Would you like to contribute money to the ‘Cure for the common Breast’ fund? You’d be helping out the less fortunate women who have to suffer through their life with embarrassingly small breasts, like Cherry.”

Back in Janet’s office, Cherry suddenly looked up and sneered.

“What’s wrong sis?” asked Regina.

“Kayain senses…tingling… I don’t know why, but I feel like giving him a beating he so richly deserves.”

Janet and Kayain strolled back down to the office and she said,” So you’re really going to research this?”

“Yup.”

“I mean no joke, actually investigate if super powers cause women to become more… well endowed?”

“You betcha.”

“Will I get a tax write off if I donate?”

“We’re nonprofit… well I suppose if you don’t count all of us who get to see a richer world with bigger jugs every day as profit.”

“You’re really dedicated… How about ten dollars to start you?”

“Fan-freaking-tastic. That’s ten dollars we’ll never get anywhere else. Man, first day and I’m already moving up!”

As they walked into the room again, Janet said,” Good, I expect to be the first to get a working sample then?”

“Oh you bet!” he said as Cherry looked at Kayain discontentedly. He whispered,” She will most definitely be next on that list.”

Regina didn’t take her eyes away from the screen as she took a few sips of the coffee.

“Guys,” she said. “Take a look at this e-mail I found.”

The email read:

 

To: Security Chief Whitney

From: Security Chief Alvarez

 

‘I do not take Howard Quigley’s threats lightly, and neither does the great lady we both serve. If he is bent on causing trouble, Quigley has the knowledge to disrupt the CreyComp launch. To forestall this possibility, please send a team to take him to our new re-education facility. Once he is loyal to Crey, we will have no more to fear.’

 

“CreyComp,” said Janet thoughtfully. “I heard that they were releasing their own OS. I’ve never heard of Howard Quigley, but by the sound of it, he’s about to be in some serious trouble.”

“This e-mail was recent,” said Regina. “Maybe we can save Mister Quigley before they get to him. I don’t like the sound of this ‘re-education’ facility.”

“Can you find where he is?” asked Cherry.

“If they know, then I can find out… Let’s see. He’s currently working at Gaffnet Consulting.”

“I know where that is,” said Janet. “I’ll take you guys there.”

“He’s a consultant?” asked Kayain. “Isn’t that like saving the bad guy?”

“How would that be like saving a bad guy?” asked Danyel.

“People pay him wads of cash no matter what kind of advice he gives. Good or bad, he still makes out like a bandit.”

Danyel thinks about it for a moment and says,“ This is true. But hey, don’t you have your own consulting business? I believe I saw yours, and Biggs’, services being offered on your website. You offered career advice didn’t you?”

“Ah… Whoa hey, we gotta go now.”

----------------------------------------------

“This is a grave situation my lady,” said Mystic Wizard. “I will gladly offer my library to your husband if he thinks he can come up with a solution.”

“I’m glad we have an understanding,” said Diana cheerfully.

“Indeed. I fought in the Rikti war and lost many good friends. I don’t intend on doing that again, let alone sit by while it happens again. For all of our sakes, I hope we can find the solution for this puzzle. And if you need any help please don’t hesitate to ask.”

“Thank you,” she said as Mystika entered the room. “Oh hi again!”

“Hello,” said Mystika. “Diana I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

“That’s no good…”

“Indeed. I just received word that there is a gang of highly dangerous super powered villains on the loose.”

“Supervillains? Oh no! That’s bad! But we have Superheroes to take them on right?”

“I’m afraid that doesn’t cover it all. You see these Villains were described as well. Two were identified with the names Kayain and Diana.”

“What?!”

“Kayain was described as around, 6’4, muscular built, blonde, spiky hair, tan skin, and gray eyes. Diana, well of course, tall, around 6’1, dark brown bobbed hair, medium build, Caucasian, and blue eyes.”

“That’s crazy!”

“Yes, they said they form a group called the Vigilantes. Anyone associated with this group is to contact authorities immediately or get help from the local heroes.”

Diana shook her head and slumped into a chair as she said,” This is sooo weird. I mean what a coincidence that these villains have the same names and looks as my group does. Talk about your crazy cosmic coincidences eh?”

Mystika looked at Mystic Wizard, who simply shrugged.

“Diana,” she said as simply as possible. “What I’m trying to say is someone put it in that you are the villain! You and your entire team.”

“Ooooh… But what about those other guys pretending to be us? I’m sure they framed us.”

Mystika threw her hands in the air and said,” There is no one else! It’s just you!”

“Peace, Mystika,” said Mystic Wizard. “Diana, can you think of any reason this might have happened?”

“No! I mean we helped out big time with the Winter Lords, and we helped kick behind in the Rikti Crash zone… Picking off gangsters in the streets… Beaten the tar out of a bunch of Crey thugs-“

“Crey?” asked Mystika.

“Yea Crey. Master Wizard here knows about it.”

“Indeed,” he said. “I think it’s no coincidence that Crey fails at bullying by force, and I believe they are trying to bully legally now. When it comes to Crey, they do not forgive, and they do not forget. I have dealt with them before, and know they are horrible people.”

“I know,” said Diana remembering how they tried killing her brother just for defending Ami. “So they got us on Paragon’s most wanted as Supervillains eh? I think I need to let my team know about this.”

“Let’s hope they aren’t on the streets right now,” said Mystic Wizard.

----------------------------------------------

“It is not ridiculous!” said Kayain. “The Cure for the Common Breast is a legitimate business I just made up, and we’re going to find that cure no matter what!”

“Kayain,” said Cherry as she shook her head. “You don’t know the first thing about research, let alone something as loony as that.”

“I could learn! Come on, you’re always bringing me down, why not a little encouragement for this?”

“Because it’s silly! There is no big boob super heroine gene!”

“Ah but it really doesn’t make sense any other way now does it? I mean why is it superheroines are always hotties with huge boobs?”

“I don’t know! They’re not related most of the time so why would it be genetic?”

“I intend on finding out!”

Janet whispered to Regina,” Are those two always like this?”

“It gives them satisfaction,” she said with a slight smile.

“That’s weird.”

“You’d have to know their history, it’s esoteric,” she said as she suddenly frowned.

Regina quickly turned invisible as Cherry said,” What is it?”

“Danger. I can feel it.”

The door to the elevator opened and they found that F.S.B.A. agents surrounded them, each with their weapons drawn.

“Freeze! Don’t move!” said one of them. “Put your hands on your head, and step slowly out of the elevator!”

Quick as lightning, Kayain grabbed Janet around the neck and said,” Hold your fire! I’ve got a hostage! I’ll snap her neck if any of you fire!”

Taken completely by surprise, she says quietly,” What are you doing?”

He whispers,” Play along. I won’t harm you, I give my word.”

Janet nods as Cherry says,” You’d better do what he says, this man’s a regenerator, and if you shoot him he won’t die.”

They seemed to consider this as the same man says,” Easy now, we don’t want her to get hurt, but you are clearly surrounded, with no chance of escape.”

“Clearly,” said Danyel. “ You people don’t know what it means to mess with an Archmage.”

Danyel’s eyes begin to glow as a thick lair of smoke begins to rise from the floor. The officers began to cough and scatter as the smoke clouded the room. Cherry took the opportunity to press the elevator button to go back up.

Kayain let go of Janet and said,” What the hell was that about?!”

“I don’t know!” said Janet. “What did you do?”

“And so it begins,” said Cherry as she leaned against the wall with her arms crossed. “It’s Crey. They got our message, and this is how they respond. I wouldn’t doubt if we’re on the most wanted list at the moment.”

“That couldn’t have happened already,” said Janet. “I just got an updated list this morning of the most wanted, and you guys weren’t on it.”

“It was probably just barely getting through,” said Cherry. “Someone here must have reported us.”

“Damn them!” said Kayain as he punched the wall. “Those lying, filthy weasels! And where’s Regina?”

“She went into the smoke,” said Danyel. “She’ll be our eyes of the activities down below.”

Regina’s, and Cherry’s communicator was specially built so it uses their psionic abilities to talk and listen, with thoughts through the mic to keep silent.

Janet pushes a button to stop the elevator on the top floor, and they all rush to the rooftop.

A message from the communicator came out,” Hey everyone! It’s me, Diana! Hey, I just got word that somehow we’ve become wanted criminals!”

Cherry said,” Yes Di, we found that out just a while ago ourselves.”

“Oh you did?” she said sounding a little disappointed. “This stinks don’t it?”

“You have no idea.”

“Well anyway, stay safe, cause we’re wanted now. Oh and another thing, be on the lookout for some imposters that look like us. I’m out.”

The team heard the sound of some lady in the background saying,’ Aye-yi-yie!’

“Did everyone hear that?” Cherry broadcasted to the entire team.

“Yes, I was aware of that as well.” Said Tylar.

“That’s awful!” said Ami.

“Roger that,” said Regina.

“At least it’s nice to be popular,” said Kat.

“That sucks! I must meditate on this,” said Solo.

“We all copy that up here,” said Valentine. “And when you get time, we need to talk about something important sis…”

“How important?” asked Cherry.

“About 300 Matronian battleships worth of importance.”

“What?!” said Cherry as she looked pale suddenly. “Battleships? Here? We’ve got a situation down here! This is not what we need… Vi, can you handle that for a while?”

“Yea sure,” said Valentine. “Maybe I’ll ask them over for a cup of tea…”

“Vi…”

“I’ll handle it sis, don’t worry. I’ll talk to you after a while.”

Cherry sighs and says,” It’s just one thing after another. Someone should really be writing my life down.”

Kayain grins broadly as Cherry says,” Except you.”

They look down and see more people entering the building.

“Danyel,” said Cherry. “We need to buy more time, disable the elevator. Kayain, help me jam the door.”

Danyel approached the elevator and the doors opened for him, exposing the wiring. He rubbed his chin a moment and decided to freeze all the gears on top. The machine groaned as all the components froze up completely.

Cherry and Kayain went to the service staircase to jam it. Kayain knocked off the handles, and Cherry psionically locked it and placed a barrier on it.

“Good, we have a bit of time now,” said Cherry. “Vi, come in. What’s going on up there?”

“We counted approximately 800 Matronian Battleships headed this way,” said Valentine. “I’m going to try and establish contact with whoever’s in charge. They are probably in pursuit of the rikti like we were.”

“A fleet that big will cause worldwide panic here. Tell them of our situation, and what needs to be done. If at all possible, tell them to stay out of it because we’ll handle it. No charge.”

“Roger that sis… You guys will be ok out there by yourselves?”

“We’ve handled worse. Please handle this situation.”

“All right, but if anything happens while I’m away-“

“We’ll be out of communication range. Don’t worry so much about us,” said Cherry as they heard blasting noises on her psi barrier. “Please don’t make me worry any more than I am now. Cherry out.”

“Everyone have your jump suits on?” said Cherry as she looked toward the rest of them. They nod as she looks toward Janet and says,” Sorry you had to get involved. We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

“Are you going to leave me here?” she asks. “Let me help you out. If this is Crey influence, I need to work this out as well.”

Cherry shakes her head and says,” No, we need your help from over here. Here, take this communicator and keep in touch. I don’t to ruin your reputation for this case. We’re only visiting this city, so we don’t mind.”

“Yea,” says Kayain. “We’ve been run out, banished, and chased by an angry mob out of millions of cities. One more isn’t going to hurt our feelings.”

“Indeed,” says Danyel. “We have a way with people. Not a way that people like, mind you.”

“All right. I’ll help you however I can here. Just be careful. You’re wanted criminals on the streets. So avoid contact with police as much as possible… Oh and heroes as well. They may try and stop you-“

“HALT VILLAIN!” said someone from behind.

Everyone turns around in time to see Lady Anubis and Gungir teleport behind them. They take a few steps and then stop abruptly.

Lady Anubis says,” You? They told us there was a group of dangerous supervillains up here.”

“We were on our way to Brickstown when we saw the commotion outside. The police said there was supervillains up here with a hostage,” said Gungir, not lowering his weapon.

“Sometimes,” said Kayain as he stretched his arms behind his head. “In the morning Cherry gets as mean as a supervillain. And I definitely feel like a hostage. Does that count?”

Cherry elbows him in the stomach and says,” We’re not villains, we’ve been set up by Crey Corp. We’ve got something of theirs and they want it back. Please, we mean no harm.”

Gungir glances over to Lady Anubis who shrugs and says,” What is it you possess that would make Crey Corporation do this to you?”

“Our friends ingested a Crey developed nano-robot that can kill the host if they so desire.”

“It’s true,” said Janet. “I’ve seen it.”

“Who are you?” asked Lady Anubis.

Janet shows her badge and says,” Janet Kellum. F.B.S.A. Investigator. I’ve found evidence that they are telling the truth. These people are being set up.”

“I will be the judge of that,” said Lady Anubis as she frowned and stared at Kayain.

He was beginning to see a pattern whenever he met serious minded women. Somehow and some way he could make them all frown just by looking at them. Lady Anubis stared unblinking into his eyes.

And into his soul.

At this point, Kayain knew how to react. Cherry did the exact same thing when she wanted answers. Years of experience taught him only to stare back like an idiot.

“All right,” said Lady Anubis finally looking away. “I believe you.”

“Humm,” said Gungir as he put his sword away. “If Lady Anubis believes you, than so do I.”

“Thank you,” said Cherry. “We need to hurry to Gaffnet Consulting right away. Crey is going to kidnap someone, and we need to get there before they do.”

Kayain, and Cherry activate the Jump Suits and make their escape.

“A consulting firm?” asks Lady Anubis as she looks at Danyel. “Isn’t the same as saving the bad guys?”

----------------------------------------------

Regina listened in to the conversation of the Captain outside the building.

“What’s taking those heroes so long?” asked the Captain. “Were they defeated?”

“We don’t know sir,” said an officer. “We just received word that there was no one on the roof but Janet Kellum. She is being questioned at the moment sir.”

“All right. Get the rest of the men and search the entire building. And have someone turn off the fire alarm. That smoke inside the buildings set off the sprinkler system.”

Regina had an idea and went to a driver of a S.W.A.T. Vehicle. He was behind it lighting up a cigarette, trying not to be seen by his superiors. Regina dropped him with a stun gun, and threw him into the vehicle. She took his uniform, radio, and keys.

Now dressed in S.W.A.T. attire, she approached the chief and said,” Captain, sir! Important call for you! I think it’s the fugitives.”

“Where?” he said.

“It’s on our phone, Dispatch is putting us through,” she said as she led him and the officer to the van.

The Captain gets in the back where the equipment is and gets on the phone.

“This is Captain Terrance. Hello?”

Regina gathers energy in her fist and rams the back of his head with it, dazing him.

The officer reacts quickly, drawing his weapon, but Regina was already ready, and kicks the gun out of his hands. She uses the remaining energy in her hands to give him a push right out the door.

She slams it shut and rushes to the driver’s seat. She locks the door and then goes to grab the Captain. She throws the Captain into the passengers side seat, straps the seat belt on and melts the buckle into the apparatus with her energy.

The officer who was thrust out gets up, dazed a bit, and rushes over to the driver side door and starts banging on the handle.

“Open up! In the name of the law!” he yells.

Regina, looks over to him and smiles as she says,” Oh, you’re cute. Damn it. I’ve no time for chatting. Sometimes crime doesn’t pay.”

She starts the engine, blows him a kiss, and takes off.

The cops begin the chase as soon as she hits the streets. She swerves avoiding traffic, not really knowing where she’s going, but trying to prevent accidents as much as possible.

The Captain begins to wake up and Regina says,” About time. I thought you were tougher than that. I just gave you a little love tap.”

“What…” he said, still dazed. “Wha- Who… Where? What’s going on?”

“Sorry Cap’n Crunch. I had to take you with me.”

“You! Who are you?”

“Just call me Gina.”

“And why can’t I move?”

“Your seatbelt locks when I drive like this. Sorry.”

“What do you want?”

“Just a few minutes of your time is all.”

The Captain’s negotiating instinct kicked in at this point and said,” Seeing as how I’m being kidnapped I have no choice now do I?”

Regina smiled as she swerved hard left and onto a freeway, the cops still hot in pursuit.

“You’re after me and my team,” she said. “Why?”

“Your names were on our most wanted lists. You’re being charged with theft, assault, sodomy, and public indecency, and now resisting arrest and assault on an officer.”

“That’s quite an impressive force you have there to take down little ol’ me.”

“You’re super powered individuals. We know better.”

“Flattering,” she said exiting the freeway. “Next question. Who filed these charges?”

“You should know already, you assaulted them.”

“Just answer the question.”

“The charges were from the Countess Crey herself. She intends on defending her people herself. They reported that you have something of theirs that you refused to give back. When they asked for it, you assaulted their representative, and his associates. Then you humiliated them in public. I think those are good enough charges to bring you in.”

“No doubt,” said Regina calmly. “You can say this to your friends at headquarters: We don’t deny we did it, but we had our reasons. The truth is we were trying to stop an evil plot of theirs, and they’re holding our friends hostage.”

“All right,” he says, trying to unbuckle his seatbelt, but finds it welded shut. “I’ll keep that in mind. What are you planning on doing now?”

“Personally I plan to escape after I’m done here. I mean they’re not going to shoot the vehicle or make it crash cause you’re here. I’ll let you go when I’m done, promise.”

“I think you’re underestimating the problem here-”

“So are you. Next question, do you personally trust Crey?”

The Captain hesitated before he said,” No. But I don’t trust you as well. But my orders are absolute. Perhaps we can work something out?”

“Afraid not Captain. We’re doing this our way. And we don’t intend to get involved in court, or in any legal system in any way. We’re only visiting after all.”

“You can’t escape the law.”

“I believe we can. That’s why we’re still alive today. But I guarantee you Captain, we will bring you evidence to prove how rotten Crey is, and what we’ve been doing to prevent it.”

“That may be, but even if Crey has been plotting evil, you’ve still kidnapped me, and assaulted an officer.”

“Oh don’t be so winy, I didn’t hit you that hard. And besides, how often do you get to say you were swept off your feet by a beautiful, perky, red-head?”

“My wife’s a red-head.”

“Figures. Well we’re definitely guilty of some things, but we’re small timers compared to what Crey is cooking up.”

“You keep mentioning a Crey plot. I want to talk about what you know about Crey.”

“All right. But first, what do you know about them?”

Again he hesitates before he says,“ A very bad experience. They’re untouchable, and I doubt I can do anything about it either. That’s besides the point at the moment.”

“Well Crey has a hold on us as well. They’re using nano-technology to manipulate my teammates,” she said as she enters a different highway. “They have the ability to kill my teammates at any time. The only reason they haven’t is because my friends have valuable research data on them that they need alive.”

“Do you have evidence?”

“Captain I swear, even if I have to break into the police department and hand deliver it, I will bring you evidence… Heh, that did not come out as good as I hoped.”

He nods and says,” I’m going to hold you to that. You realize though that I’m still going to have to hunt you down?”

“Ah yes. You men, always fired up by the thrill of the hunt. Oh, and speaking of that, one last request…”

“What is it?”

“I know it’s a long-shot but… Can I get the phone number of that handsome officer you were with?”

“He’s married.”

She sighs and says,” Story of my life. Oh well, this is your stop…”

Regina slams on the brakes and makes the vehicle spin while slowing speed. She turns invisible and opens the door waiting for it to slow down. She shifts to park and runs out as fast as she can.

Just in time, she avoids twenty armed officers running up to the vehicle with their weapons drawn.

“She’s a super. She can turn invisible,” said the Captain. “Get the thermal goggles and find her.”

----------------------------------------------

Cherry checked a map on her holographic PDA for Gaffnet Consulting.

“Thanks again for coming along,” said Danyel to Lady Anubis and Gungir.

“We’re heroes,” said Gungir. “We’ve always got to help those in need.”

“Yea, and besides,” said Kayain. “As a prestigious, Gold Member of the Kayain Fan Club, you’re not allowed to attack me. It says so in the rule book.”

“Oh yea… About that, I’ve been meaning to say-”

“Prestigious? What is this, ‘fan club’ of which you speak?” asks Lady Anubis. “And how did you get so much prestige and rank that I did not?”

“It’s not that complicated Lady Anubis. He inducted me into his inner circle of friends, with something called a gold membership. Something about bonuses, discounts, and other silly stuff.”

“It’s not that simple man!” says Kayain. “It’s a very top notch group that only the most important people are in! I have a huge list of names of all these people with high status… and a god apparently.”

Lady Anubis thought about this for a moment. She looked toward Gungir and said,” It must be very important if an anthropomorphic weapon such as yourself is in it. And it’s run by the Vindicator himself. Am I in this so-called Fan club? Because if it’s only for very important people then I must already be in it.”

“Well no, you’re not in it.”

“I see. Gungir, did it not occur to you that I might want to be a part of this inner circle? Did it also not occur to you that this is a ‘Fan Club,’ and we should probably analyze the meaning of these words? The fan is an old symbol of royalty and nobility in most monarch societies. And a club is a mere blunt object used for bashing people’s head in. And if we look at the history, the Chinese used specially made fans as weapons. Did the meaning of the word ‘fan club’ escape the depths of your mind so you would not understand the true meaning is in reality a high and mighty society of leaders?”

“What?!” said Gungir as he tried to gather everything Lady Anubis had said. “That’s not what it is at all! When I met him he just asked to make me a member of his own group of friends. It’s nothing more than that.”

“You offered him a membership, and not me?” asked Lady Anubis. “Why not?”

Kayain, seeing where this was going, smirked and said,” I had only one space at the time, and he insisted that it be him. He really didn’t mention you at all.”

She frowned at Gungir and said,” Oh so now I’m not important enough to be mentioned?”

“No! I didn’t say anything like that!”

“Obviously.”

“I mean it was very much on the spot, and I didn’t have much of a choice.”

Kayain whispers very loudly to Lady Anubis,” You see what I have to put up with? It’s hard to be me.”

She shakes her head disapprovingly at Gungir and says,“ Then what you should have done was send him to me.”

She looks toward Kayain,“ Unlike him I would have been honored to join a mighty and prestigious group with the Vindicator.”

“Yea,” said Kayain. “What she said.”

“Now, it just looks like you have a higher status than me with your golden membership card.”

“I’m not getting through am I?” said Gungir, giving up.

“That’s the thing about human bodies,” said Danyel casually. “It’s like a mold. If you fill in the mold you take the likeness in every way. Doesn’t matter who you were before it, you’re now subject to all the functions, hormones, and emotions of one.”

Gungir hesitated a bit and whispered to him,” I probably shouldn’t say this, but Lady Anubis is experiencing one of those times in females… something about the maternal cycle…”

“PMS?”

“I think that’s it.”

“Sucks to be you.”

“I heard that!” says Lady Anubis. “And now I demand entry to your fan club or I unleash the fury of a thousand hells upon you all!”

“Well, look at that,” says Kayain looking at his own PDA. “We’ve got another opening, would you like that one?”

“Yes!” says Lady Anubis as she raises her fists in the air. “When do I get my high and mighty ranks that I deserve?”

“Whoa there slugger, hold on,” said Kayain. “You at least need three thousand points for that.”

“How do I obtain these three thousand points?”

“Well,” he said with a huge grin. “It usually takes a couple of purchases of gear, but for you, I can give you the gear and count it to your points. Only because it’s you.”

“Ah, a wise decision. How many points until I receive the rank of divine leader of all that is?”

“Oh, like ten thousand points or so.”

“Excellent…”

“Yea,” said Kayain. “I’ll get you a start up package after all this, if little miss-direction over there can ever find this place we’re looking for.”

“And since this is a Fan club, when do I receive my fan? And what kind of fan will it be? A Chinese war fan, or the ones used for Royalty? Personally, I would prefer the war fan.”

After hearing all of the goings on, Cherry refused to participate in the conversation in any way.

Danyel leans against the wall next to her and says,” Kayain just recruited two, count em’, two god beings into his little fan club today. That means two deities buying his product, and in such is like a form of idol worship to him. It’s funny when you put things in perspective like that.”

Cherry glances at him with a look that says,’ I don’t care.’

“Yup,” he continues. “So what did you do today?”

----------------------------------------------

Howard Quigley saved his document he was typing and turned off his computer.

Nothing quite like unpaid overtime, he thought. Not to mention the small and hopeless chance for promotion. I love my work.

He packed up his things and realized he was the only one left in the office.

Well me and the security guard at least, he thought.

Gaffnet Consulting was only open till 6, and most of the workers had more important things to concern themselves with rather than deadlines. Quigley could at least say he was a hard worker.

Unfortunately Quigley still retained the illusion that this would help him get a promotion in the corporate world.

He walked toward the elevator when suddenly the power went out. He stood and waited for the auxiliary power to turn on. When it did, he continued toward the elevator, but thought better of it during a power outage.

Instead he grumbled a bit and went to the stairs. Once inside he heard voices, and the sound of people running up the stairs. He looked down, a bit surprised that so many people had been working this late. He saw many uniformed Crey security guards rushing up the stairs armed with guns.

Panicking he ran back upstairs and into his office where he called security.

“Hello?” someone answered.

“Is this security?”

“Yes it is, how can I help you?”

“Thank God… This is Howard Quigley on the 20th floor. I need help! There’s a bunch of armed men who came in through the fire escape! You need to call the police-“

“The 20th floor you say Mister Quigley? That will make things easier.”

“What?! Who is this?”

“Your employer.”

“Then DO SOMETHING! They’re coming this way.”

“Humm. Then I recommend waiting there politely.”

“They’re going to find me!”

“Well that’s the point. But call me if anything changes, he he.”

“Dear God…” he said, hanging up.

He attempted dialing an outside line, but instead found only static on the other line.

Damn, he thought. What a day to forget my cell phone in the car… Wait! Maybe I can signal help through the Internet!

Quigley turned back on his old and out of date computer when he heard banging on the emergency door.

Come on you piece of trash computer! Load faster! NO I DO NOT WANT TO ENTER SAFE MODE, NOW LOAD UP!

He looked over his shoulder to see if they had broken in, and looked back down to see another error that always pops up at the startup of his computer. Apparently someone installed a crummy anti-virus software in his computer that the makers of his OS made. When he uninstalled it for a superior program it caused many errors, lock ups, an incomplete uninstallation, and an impeding error message that he can’t seem to get rid of during startup.

Curse you Microsoft! If these men kill me I’m coming back to haunt you all!

Too late, the men had already broken in when the desktop had finally loaded up. Canceling the ‘critical updates’ that always pops up no matter what, he clicks to find the Internet connection has been severed.

“Quigley! Come out!” he hears one of them say. “We need to talk Quigley.”

Howard creeps out as quietly as he can, hoping they wouldn’t walk his direction. He creeps toward the other elevators, having no other choice of escaping. He cowers a bit as he calls for the elevator, hoping they wouldn’t hear it until he safely gets inside.

The elevator dings signaling it’s arrival, and as it opens, a hand is thrust out and grabs him by the throat. The person inside the elevator lifts him up by the neck and tosses him into a cubicle.

Howard coughs and gags as he tries to get up, and receives a boot in his stomach for trying.

“Well, well Mister Quigley,” said someone in a business suit from behind. “I have to say, I love your new job. Unfortunately, consulting is old evil. Efficient, but old.”

“Who… Are… You…” he said gasping for air.

“Your employers from Crey.”

“I don’t… I don’t work… for you anymore… leave me alone!”

“Apparently you didn’t read your contract very well did you? Employees are not allowed to take Crey learned knowledge or skill with them to outside employment.”

“What? There’s… no way you could… do that…”

The man leans down and says,” Now that’s where you’re wrong Mister Quigley. I believe you are familiar with our re-education facility, yes?”

Howard was indeed familiar. He had heard stories of people going in, and coming out different. Never the same as they used to be, but only obsessed with Crey.

“No! You can’t do this to me!”

“You’re forgetting who you work for Mister Quigley. We own you! We own this whole stinking city! Now are you going to come like a good underling or do we have to make you come?”

Right then, they heard the elevator begin to come back up. The agents drew their weapons and looked toward the elevator as it beeped signaling it was going to open. When they looked inside, they saw their own agents, beaten, bruised, and thrown across the floor.

“What the,” said the suit.

Suddenly they began to feel clammy, then cold. One of them looked up and saw a thick cloud forming right above them.

“Quigley!” said the suit as he picked him up by his collar. “What the hell are you doing?”

Quigley said nothing. He stared in horror as the cloud began to take form as a thick black cloud with lighting flashing inside it.

The suit let him go and slowly backed away from the cloud, as the rest of the agents slowly backed away. Quigley turned his head to the side and saw a reflection of someone out the window.

When the cloud fully formed, a steamy mist began to surround the area. The cloud rumbled with the sound of thunder, as the suit yelled,” It’s the capes! Everyone, get em-“

He was cut off by a bolt of lightning that struck him in the back, sending him flying into the mist. The thundercloud rumbled again and prepared for another strike as the rest of the goons ran toward the mist.

Quigley huddled into the corner next to the elevator, and heard yelling and gunfire coming from inside the mist. A Paragon Protector came flying out of the mist and was hit in the back with a thunderbolt. Several times, he saw a few guys flying up toward the ceiling, smashing their heads on top, then falling back down.

After a few seconds the sounds were over, and the mist began to clear. A very tall woman stepped into view, holding two suits, one in each hand. She tossed them both to the side and said,” Fear not mortal, we’ve come to help.”

“Who are you?”

“Someone who has very clearly saved your life. Now get up.”

Another woman stepped out of the clearing mist. This woman was substantially shorter than the first one.

The woman said,” Howard Quigley?”

“Yes… are you guys heroes?”

“Sort of,” she said. “My name’s Cherry, and this is my team, the Vigilantes.”

“Well I’m not,“ started Gungir.

“Hush!” said Lady Anubis. “You’re part of the club now!”

“We heard that Crey was after you, and we came to find out why.”

“Well thanks for the help,” said Quigley. “I admit that I once worked for them. As a matter of fact, I was the lead developer of their new OS CreyComp. And let me tell you, we put together a pretty sweet machine.”

“Never heard of CreyComp,” said Cherry.

“Well it hasn’t been released yet because I quit the developing team.”

“I see. You carry many of their secrets and they don’t like that.”

“Yea. However we had many management foul ups. I needed specific vendors in order to get specific codes for it, and our own internal monkeys went behind my back and complained. Then my manager forced me to use them, and my vendors were pissed because we broke a contract. While our monkeys produced big piles of stinking, steaming, crap. I really don’t know why, but when I looked at the code they were making, it all seemed so very wrong, as if they were doing it on purpose. I took the code to my favorite contractor, Justine Kelley… The results were surprising to say the least.”

“What was in the code?”

“Embedded in the code was a subliminal message interface. They were trying to use hypnosis to get things they wanted, like Tax breaks for big businesses, buy their products, and above all, be loyal to Crey.”

Cherry put her hands on her hips and said,” Humm. It seems we’re both in the same boat Mr. Quigley. Crey’s got a hold on us as well. Perhaps we can help each other out? Do you still have a copy of the code somewhere?”

“Yes, I do,” he said. “It’s at my house though.”

“Good. No doubt we’ll expect company there, so everyone be on guard.”

----------------------------------------------

“Yes, yes, of course I can write virus for you. What kind?” asked Tylar.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Cherry over the communicator. “We’ll show you the code, and you make the virus that destroys it.”

“What kind of destroy? Smash and grab kind, or smoldering crater, destroy?”

“Keep in mind these people tried to harm Ami.”

Tylar frowned and said,” Smoldering crater it is!”

“There’s a good boy,” said Cherry. “We’ll be getting back soon. Have you got your own defenses set up?”

“I do indeed. I set up a temporary password at the door, but I’ll set it to our usual password before you get here.”

“Good. We’ll be arriving home shortly. I’m bringing along a few guests as well. One of them might have to stay with us until this whole thing calms down.”

“All right, I’ll see you when you get here.”

Tylar went back to his computer and began to prepare for writing a virus code. As he typed away, Ami came into the room with two cups of coffee and put one down next to him.

“It seems wherever we go, trouble follows,” said Ami as she took a drink. “It’s always been like this ever since I started with your father.”

“Some things never change,” said Tylar not looking up. “But we chose this lifestyle because we thrive in a chaotic environment. And personally, I like the freedom I have with Cherry that the old cronies in WMD University, would never let me have.”

“Yes, but didn’t you leave for other reasons?”

“Ethics,” he said pausing to think for a second. “They believed in tampering with things that I believed mankind should simply not.”

“Cloning, stem cells, and the other things they do right?”

“That, and one other thing…”

“Matronian research in Nano-Augmentations right?”

Tylar sighed and said,” Yes, that was the main thing. A combination of Cloning, and using Matronians as guinea pigs. Did I tell you they wanted me to be the one to be the lead researcher on the experiment with Jenna Ramirez?”

“You mean Jenna Williams now.”

“Yes, Dorian Williams’ estranged wife now.”

“That poor woman. I heard the stories about her.”

“I have no doubt they’re all true.”

“That gives me chills just thinking about what they did to her. Can’t say I blame her entirely for going with Dorian though.”

“Indeed. I can’t say I approve of her actions of today, but I can understand why she did what she did. All we can do is pray she comes to her senses.”

Tylar turned back to his work and continued while Ami sat thoughtfully in the chair next to him. Tylar got up and began to look for a few components for a device he had been working on that day.

Ami looked over and said,” Hey, uh, Tylar?”

“Humm?”

“Well, we’re going to be here for a good long while, and, well, I just, uh, just wanted to know if you wanted to… you know, finish up our game of chess, when we have a bit of free time here?”

“What?” He said, trying not to look too happy. “Oh, oh, that.”

“Yea, but we could wait still.”

“No, no, I was quite looking forward to that.”

“How about in a nice café where the rest of the team won’t bother us like they usually do.”

“Oh, capital idea! I’m sure we’ll have some free time soon, and I promise we’ll go. But don’t be surprised when I beat you though, heh.”

Ami smiled playfully and said,” Oh we’ll see about that, heh.”

Tylar put down a small device and said,” Well all I need now is the code they’re bringing and I can finish up this project.”

“All right, would you care to join me for a bit of a snack?”

“Oh, yes, I’d love you-“

There was an awkward silence that filled the room. Even the computers began to blush at that moment.

Ami, who had gone a shade of crimson, said,” W-what?”

Tylar, at that moment looked like a human thermometer about to burst. He looked at the floor and said,” To… I-I said I’d love to…”

The machinery and computers instinctively went into sleep mode to avoid the awkwardness that followed that moment.

Just in the knick of time, Kayain, once again saved the day by dropping Tylar’s pants from behind. Luckily for Tylar, his underwear wasn’t included this time.

Tylar froze in horror as Ami turned away. He quickly reached and picked his pants back up and shook his finger at Kayain as he said,“ GAAA! You! You you’re nothing but a stinking pile of-“

“Yea, yea,” said Kayain still chuckling. “I saved the day again. You can thank me later.”

“Thank you? Why-“

“You’re welcome.”

“No! You’re an arsehole!”

“It was a bit funny,” said Danyel.

“Tylar,” said Regina. “You’ve totally set yourself up for that one.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking-“ He stopped and said,” Wait! How the hell did you get past my defenses?!”

Kayain shrugged and said,” Bah, it was Cherry actually. She knew your password.”

“It wasn’t that hard,” said Cherry. “I reasoned out all other possible passwords and decided on one.”

“Ami Thomas,” said Kayain. Seeing the look on Tylar’s face he added,“ That’s just what Cherry said.”

Cherry merely shrugged as she realized Ami heard that because she was in the room a little behind Tylar.

Kayain, seeing them both turn the color of an apple, put Tylar in a headlock, and said,” It’s ok though, isn’t it fellas? He already confessed his love for her.” Kayain, using his mocking voice said,” ‘Oh Ami, I’d love you!’”

All of you heard that?!” said Tylar.

“Yea, when I said it was funny that’s the part I meant,” said Danyel.

“Really Tylar, ‘I’d love you?’ That’s a bit corny if you ask me,” said Regina.

“Our wittle Tywar is gwowing up” mocked Kayain.

“All right you slime balls, that’s enough,” said Cherry with a frown. “Tylar’s got important work to do, and we don’t need you guys frustrating him. And it is not funny to tease him about some stupid Freudian slip. Kayain let him go, now!”

“Oh all right,” he said, letting Tylar hit the floor.

Cherry hands Tylar the coding they retrieved from Howard Quigley’s house and says,” Everything you need is on that. Make me a copy of that data and give it to Regina. She offered to turn that in to the authorities so we could get Crey into trouble. Get the virus prepared as soon as you can because we’re going to strike this evening. Mister Quigley has the directions to the facility that’s developing CreyComp.”

Tylar walked with Cherry as she went towards her room and said,“ I’ll get that done as soon as I can… What are we going to do?”

“We’re going to dismantle the production lines, and destroy CreyComp and all the copies of it completely. Regina will turn in the evidence to the police.”

“But if we want them to find them making the CreyComp devices, why dismantle them first?”

“Because they will be shipped at 2 in the morning. There’s no time for it, because they will have already been shipped out. They do have backup copies of the code, but we’ll have stopped the immediate threat.”

“And will this get us out of trouble with the police?”

“Hell no! But this is also where you come in.”

“Me? What do I need to do?”

“Hack their database, and find all the files you need so we can send out the CreyComp’s real objectives to everyone from the media, to the police.”

“Ah, and will that get us out of trouble?”

“’Fraid not Tylar. We get blamed for destroying the computers, and then people find out why we did it, and we’ll definitely gain some credibility. That’s worth doing don’t you think?”

“Yes, yes, of course. Even though the law doesn’t agree with us, we do what we can don’t we?”

Cherry halfway stepped inside her room and said,” If we don’t then no one will.”

Before she went inside Tylar said,” Hey Cherry, uh, thanks again.”

She stopped and leaned on the door as she said,” For what?”

“Just, thanks for always sticking up for me around the guys.”

She smiles and says,” You’re still on about that? Come on now.”

“I know it’s corny, but really, we all respect you because of your ability to handle situations well. Just thanks for being the voice of reason around dunderheads like Kayain.”

“Hey, hey, that’s enough,” she said. “Now you’re going to make me blush… Look, I’ve got to get changed now, and we’re on a time schedule. We can chit-chat later.”

“Too right you are! I’m on it.”

Cherry shook her head and gently closed the door. She sat on her bed and waited a moment before she said,” ‘I’d love you,’ HA! Oh my God that’s so embarrassing!”

She grabbed her pillow and laughed into it.

----------------------------------------------

Captain Terrance sat alone at his desk finishing up the last of his paperwork for the day. The day had been long and hard with the major incident at the FBSA headquarters. Normally it wouldn’t be his problem, but since they requested backup, there was a stack of paperwork for him to do now.

He knew there was much more work to do, but his wife had a planned evening out with him. He had already pushed back the schedule several times, and she’d be very disappointed if he canceled again.

Nothing was going to stop him at that moment. Except for the fact that a tall, voluptuous, red head had suddenly appeared right in front of him.

He instinctively reached for his weapon and found it was gone. He looked up to see her holding it and smiling.

“Hate to interrupt you,” she said. “But I have something you want.”

“You!” he said finally recognizing her. “You’re the one from the car! How did you get in here?”

“The front door. Really, Captain, it wasn’t that hard when no one can see you.”

“You know you’re in a lot of trouble.”

“Spare me the lecture old man,” she says as she pulls out the ammo clip from the gun.

Old Man?!”

“Look, I’m here like I promised with that evidence I was talking about against Crey. Are you going to take it or not?” said Regina as she tossed the gun back to him.

He stares at her for a moment, trying hard not to stare at the wrong places since she was in a tight black body suit.

“All right, I did say I’d look at whatever you had to show me.”

“My eyes are up here Captain,” she says watching him quickly look back up. “I’m just joking with you Captain. Here, take a look at this.”

He looks at the small device she hands him and says,” Ok, what am I looking for here?”

“This is the coding for Crey’s new CreyComp OS. Imbedded in this is a subliminal style of mind control. Now don’t look at me like that, I mean it! We’ve already done the tests ourselves and found this to be true.”

He sighs and says,” Look, I want Crey taken down as much as you do but-“

“You’ll be receiving more evidence in a while. The rest of the Vigilantes are on their way to Crey’s facility to destroy the computers as we speak.”

“They’re what?!”

“A break-in and vandalize to Crey Corp. Shall I give you the address?”

He grits his teeth and rubs his temple as he says,” You couldn’t have picked a worse time could you? I promised my wife a dinner tonight and you guys are going to cause even more trouble.”

“Oh, this is quite a situation then isn’t it,” she said thoughtfully. “I have an idea then. Does your wife have a cell phone?”

“Yes, but I don’t see what you’re-“

“Give me yours. Call her and let me talk to her.”

“Wait, I can’t let you do that.”

“Well it’s either this, or in a few minutes you’re going to get called back because of my teammates breaking in to a high security area. So you either let me talk to your wife, or you can talk to her yourself and say you are canceling your appointment because of another case… and she might question why a young-looking red head was in your office after hours, if you catch my drift.”

Terrance stared at her and narrowed his eyes. He reluctantly dialed his wife’s phone number, and handed it to her.

The phone rang a bit, and she answered,” Hello? John? You’d better not be calling to cancel on me.”

“Hello Misses Terrance, I’m afraid John can’t make it to the phone right now.”

“What? Who is this?”

“Ha ha! Wouldn’t you like to know!”

What are you doing?!” said Terrance through gritted teeth.

“Where is John?!”

“John’s all tied up at the moment,” said Regina making gestures for him to be quiet. “So you’ll just have to talk to me Misses Terrance!”

“I don’t know who you are, but put John on the phone this instant!”

“Oh? You don’t want to talk to me? Well then, let me just remove the gag from his mouth and you can say hi.”

Regina covered the speaker and said,” Pretend you’re kidnapped, and I’m holding you hostage.”

“I can’t-“

Regina hands him the phone.

“Grrr… Vanessa?”

“Oh, John! What’s going on?”

“I’ve been, uh, kidnapped by the Vigilantes.”

“What?! You mean those thugs on the news?!”

Thugs?!” said Regina indignantly.

“I need help, please, call the department and tell them-“

Regina snatches the phone and says,” That’s enough out of you! Misses Terrance, if you ever want to see your husband again, you will pay us the sum of-“ she pauses and realizes she has no idea of the currency here at all “-well that will be determined on a later date, but rest assured it’s a lot of money!”

“I don’t know who you think you are missy, but if you dare harm him, I’ll GUT YOU LIKE A FISH, YOU HEAR ME?!”

Regina recoiled and pulled the phone away from her ear as Ms. Terrance said the last part. She put the receiver back and said,” Yea, um, sure, whatever. As long as you are going to pay, no harm will come to your husband. I’ll contact you again with more instructions.”

Regina hung up, and the Captain said,” Just what the hell are you trying to pull?”

“Look… At this moment you have two options. You can come with me and I will show you everything you need to know to take Crey down. And in doing so, you will save millions of people from an evil plot… Or, you could just arrest me now, and get a few kudos for arresting someone in the name of Crey’s justice.”

The Captain seemed to be considering this for a moment.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean I can’t just go with you guys just like that.”

“Remember? I’m kidnapping you. We can tell people I did it as a desperate attempt to reveal the truth. You can deal with me as you like afterwards, arrest me or whatever, but I want you to help us take down an even greater force before it gets us all… Please Captain. Come with me and I will show you. I’ll prove to you that Crey has been working on that piece of evidence I showed you. Together, we can stop Crey and it’s twisted Countess. We can put her away for a very long time, if you’ll just come with me.”

“And if you’re wrong?”

“Then you can arrest me. I’ll turn myself in, girl scouts honor.”

The captain rubbed his chin and said,” Ok, we have a deal then. You show me what you need to, and if I’m not impressed, you’re going down.”

“Agreed.”

“Now there’s the matter of my wife…”

“Scary woman isn’t she?”

“Why do you think I was so worried about missing my dinner date?”

----------------------------------------------

“Commander, we’re being hailed,” said Communications officer Zander to Valentine.

“Put them through,” said Valentine.

When the main screen turned on, Valentine was staring right in the face of someone she hoped she’d never had to encounter again.

Admiral Odo Trevorne. A brute of a man with a face and body to match. One of the first things you’d notice about him was his eye. Eye, as in singular, because the other eye was covered with an eye patch; something Valentine was very surprised over.

The man regarded her with what seemed like malice, but said simply,” Oh, it’s just you.”

“Admiral,” said Valentine as she nodded back.

“It seems as though you arrived before we did… Although truth be told, I did not expect you to come, seeing as we strictly forbid you to interfere with Matronian affairs.”

“Well that’s an odd thing to say, Admiral. I don’t see Matronian flags hanging over this planet, do you?”

“Nevertheless, they are in Matronian space, and are hereby our responsibility. You should already know this.”

“Yes, yes, of course I do. I wonder though, if you’re familiar with our policy on underdeveloped planets?”

“I am. And I was hoping you’d be able to provide information on the energy signatures coming from it.”

“We do, Admiral,” said Valentine as she folded her hands together. “We need to talk though. The situation here is very complicated, and I don’t want an incident.”

“Fair enough. Just give us any information we need and clear out of the way.”

“That’s not going to happen Admiral.”

“Fine, then we’re going in to find out ourselves.”

“Damn it Odo! For once in your ga-damn life will you please listen to me? I know how you work things. I’ve had to stop you once before.”

“You don’t have to remind me,” he said as he rested his hand on his eye with the eye patch.

This was followed by a short awkward pause. The kind of pause where all of the listeners in on the following conversation suddenly go back to pretending to work as if they weren’t really listening.

“Look,” he said. “I can arrange a meeting with the Admirals here so we can all get your information at once. The last thing we want is an incident, so if you have helpful information that can prevent one, we’re all ears. Well at least I am. Just tell us what you know, and we’ll decide from there.”

“But do I have your word that you won’t move in close to this planet until we’ve decided what to do?”

He sighed and said,” Yes, I promise we will not move in on this planet until we know what we’re up against. I’ll set up the meeting for this evening. Please be here promptly at 2700. Odo out.”

Valentine slumped back in her chair and rubbed her temple. She knew this was going to complicate things, especially because they had History. The capital H said it all.

The door to the bridge opened, and in came Lead Engineer Ken, Valentine’s husband.

“Vi, what’s going on? I heard Odo was here.”

News, she thought. Travels awful fast around here once it gets out.

“Yes,” she said. “Hon, I hate to upset you, but Odo wants to meet with me this evening.”

He looked skeptical and said,” Why?”

“It’s a meeting hon. He wants me to tell him and a bunch of other Admiral pricks about the situation here.”

“In that case, I’m coming with you,” said Ken.

She regarded him for a moment, and smiled. Years of experience had taught her better than to argue, so she said,” That’s fine, but you have to bring the information with you. Just talk with officer Sommelier”

“The self proclaimed ‘god of wine’ dude?”

Valentine chuckled and said,” Yes, him. He’s always on top of things when it comes to keeping our records.”

“That’s not all he’s been on top of,” he said quietly.

Valentine really had to hold back laughing at that one. Officer Sommelier was quite a stud in her opinion. The man was sculpted like Kayain, and was almost never seen without the company of several swooning women.

“Anyway,” said Valentine. “Let’s get ourselves ready. Because I already know this isn’t going to be pretty.”

----------------------------------------------

Security Chief Whitney was stuck on the sublevels of a Crey complex in Independence Port. He heard on the intercom that there was intruders, and the situation wasn’t going well.

“All right ladies and gentlemen,” he began. “I don’t know how these people found us, but in the name of our lady we need to protect these computers at all costs! The shipment will be on time, and we will kill these intruders!

“Yes sir!” they all said.

“Power up as many power suits as you can, and get the Paragon Protectors out there!”

“Uh sir?” asked one.

“What?”

“We’ve already done that sir. The Protectors are down, and so are the majority of our suits.”

“Oh… Well then get the remaining suits then and we’ll push them back!”

“Sir?”

“What?!”

“You’re wearing the last suit we have.”

“Oh… Well then, instead we get our weapons and gather the men from the front and rush them all at once!”

“Heh… Uh sir?”

“What…”

“They’ve already taken the front… and everywhere else… they’re on their way to us now.”

“Oh… well then instead ladies and gents, we make our last stand here! Everyone get as many weapons as you can!”

“Yes sir!” they all said.

“Sir?”

What?!

“We’re extremely limited on weapons. They already beat everyone with the heavy arms.”

“Oh…well what do we have?”

“A few pistols sir.”

“And that’s it?”

“Allen over there has a wrench.”

“Is that supposed to be a joke?”

“No sir, a bad coincidence more like.”

“Ok then,” said Whitney through gritted teeth. “Ladies and gents, we’ll make our last stand equipped with our limited supply, and our wits.”

“Um, sir?”

“WHAT NOW?!”

“Most of these people weren’t hired for their ability to fight. They’re engineers.”

“Ok then, what would you suggest?”

“I wouldn’t rule out panicking and begging sir.”

“Consider my menacing glare…”

“Right you are sir! Inspiring speech! Last stand, here we come!”

Suddenly, they heard the elevator behind them ding, telling them someone was already there.

“Weapons at the ready!” said Whitney.

Everyone drew their pistols and pointed at the elevator.

A solitary man stepped out casually. A costume clad hero, wearing black and yellow, and lots of blond spiky hair.

The man looked up at them, adjusted his gloves and said,” Oh I’m sorry, I thought we knocked already.”

“FIRE!” said Whitney.

Simultaneously they opened fire at him. The man twitched as the bullets rained on him. He soon after fell down in a heap.

“Did we get him?” asked the guard.

“Of course we did, idiot!” said Whitney. “Go move the body out of the way!”

“What, me?”

Whitney lifts the man off the ground by his collar and says,” No stupid, I meant that other guy next to me… OF COURSE I MENT YOU! NOW GET YOUR ASS OVER THERE!”

“Y-yes sir…”

The guard goes over to the crumpled hero, and sees something very odd. The hero’s uniform wasn’t torn from bullet holes. And his face had a few droplets of blood on it, but no wound marks. It was almost as if-

“GAAAA!” said the guard as the Hero shot up, grabbing his throat in one swift motion.

The fury in that man’s eyes, and his wild appearance was enough to make any lesser man cower before him.

Luckily for the security guard, he fainted. Not before promptly soiling himself out of the first surprise.

Security Chief Whitney sneered as he saw the hero toss the guard to the side and smile arrogantly at him.

“You asshole,” said the Hero. “Blood stains are so hard to wash out. And seeing how you didn’t spill my blood on this uniform, I guess I’ll have to spill yours instead.”

“Don’t come any closer!” said Whitney.

“Or what? You’ll waste some more ammo on me? Come on now. You’ve got a better chance of killing me by letting me trip in a pool of your blood.”

“No! Get away! Don’t just stand there! FIRE!”

Again, shots rang out, but suddenly there was yelling nearby. Whitney turned to the side and saw an extremely tall lady holding up two guards by the neck as they writhed in agony.

“Have at you!” said a voice from behind.

Fast approaching him was a man wearing simple robes inscribed with runes, and a very big and nasty sword.

Whitney fired a beam of energy at the man, tearing into his arm. This only seemed to upset the man further. The man delivered a very strong shot to Whitney’s head, knocking off his helmet completely.

Whitney lost his balance from the blow, and fell over. The suit was very heavy, and Whitney struggled to get up. He was stopped by the blonde spiky haired man, who stepped on his suit.

“Oh no you don’t,” he said with a grin. The man quickly struck him with his palm right in the face, stunning Whitney completely. He was picked up off the ground, and slammed into the wall. The man struck him with his fists, and to Whitney’s surprise, broke a hole into the suit.

The Hero lifted the helpless Whitney into the air, and power-bombed him. He then stood over him, and continued to pummel him, right as another woman’s voice cried out,” Ok Kayain, that’s enough!”

“He started it,” said Kayain.

“I don’t care who started it, I’m finishing it.”

“Humph,” said Kayain as he sneered to the halfway conscious Whitney. “You got lucky, punk.”

He looked to the side and saw a petit woman with short black hair and red bangs. What he was really looking at was her eyes. They worried him the most. He had the feeling many men had gotten lost in her eyes, almost literally.

“Mister, your operation ends now. You can cooperate with us and be sent home as a prisoner, or refuse us and get sent back as a corpse.”

“I couldn’t help you lady,” he said truthfully. “I was only here for security, and I don’t know nothin’.”

“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong,” she said. “You know names. That’s good enough for me.”

“I won’t betray the countess!”

“She’s one scary woman isn’t she? But believe me, she’s nowhere near as scary as I can be…”

“You wouldn’t do anything to me! You guys are heroes!”

“Have you seen the news lately? Apparently we’re super villains now for doing something very naughty with someone’s anus.”

“That won’t work on me! Besides, my lead engineer is probably miles away in our secret escape route! I told him to- Oh. My. God…”

The lead engineer and his specialty crew came around the corner at that moment, looking very scared.

“Mister Whitney?” called out the Lead. “Hello? Where did you go? And what did you mean by ‘to the escape pods’? I’m the lead engineer on this project and I should know that we don’t have- Oh… hello.”

“Shit.”

“Oh Yes, Indeed!”

“Love the kind of people you have working here,” said the woman. “Sleep now.”

Whitney fell instantly unconscious.

“Oh no!” said the Lead. “You’re the intruders!”

“That we are sir,” said Kayain.

“No, no! Stay back or.. or.. or I’ll scream! I mean it!”

Kayain lifted the man on his shoulders as a very high pitched and girly scream rang out across the hallways.

----------------------------------------------

“I think, Captain, it would have been a very good idea if you’d have just told me from the start that your wife was a super powered heroine.”

“I know,” said the Captain as he looked in the rear view mirror. “I forgot completely about the small tracking device she installed on my cell phone in case I ever did get kidnapped. She has many enemies.”

Regina looked in her mirror and asked,” Is she still back there?”

“She’s flying above us.”

“Great. What powers does she have by the way?”

“Oh, you know… super strength, invulnerability, flying, super speed.”

“Laser eyes?”

“No.”

“Laser nipples?”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

“I doubt your car could outrun her, why am I not torn in half at this moment?”

“We’ve got at least 9 more payments on this car. She’s probably waiting until after we get out of the car, instead of tearing the car like a wrapper and chewing you like gum.”

“Right. Well it’s either face her, or the dozen police cars she got to follow us.”

“Have you got any more bright ideas missy?”

“Just one, and I hoped I wouldn’t have to use it… Hand over your cell phone.”

“Why?”

“Just do it! You said you’d cooperate with me.”

“Fine, here. Just be careful-“

Regina tossed it out the window.

“Why did you do that?!”

“Now keep an eye on me, because I’m about to bend light around you.”

Regina suddenly went from clear to opaque. And when he looked at his hands, he was turning the same.

“What did you do?”

“It’s my energy frequency. You’re matching it at the moment and completely invisible to anyone else around you.”

“Oh, so you can hide other people as well?”

“I try not to let that be known thank you very much.”

Regina began to slow the car down.

“Get ready to get out of the car and run,” she said. “Follow me please.”

The car came to a halt, and they got out as quickly as possible. The cops stopped and yelled at the car, completely ignoring them as they walked by.

They walked next door to a nearby apartment complex called Vance Apartments, and went to the reception area.

“Ah, good. We’re at the right place.”

“Where are we?”

“At a friend’s house… Oh we need to buzz in. Hello?”

Yea whaddaya want?” said the voice on the intercom.

“I’m looking for a Miss Janet Kellum, in room 409.”

Just a second…

A second voice said,” This is Kellum, talk to me.

“Janet, it’s Regina. I have a special guest, can you buzz us in?”

Yea, sure. Come on in. Elevator’s directly to your left, and my place is the second door to your left.

Janet buzzes them in and they hurry to her room. Regina knocks, and Janet answers wearing a bathrobe and brushing her teeth.

“M’ shorry. Eh wash gettinh reahy for beh,” said Janet with her mouth full of toothpaste.

“No, no. Don’t worry about it. Finish up and we’ll show our guest what we know already.”

“Capn’ Kerrahs? Wha ah you doink ere?”

“I’m here on business madam,” said the Captain. “Regina promised to show me something interesting about Crey.”

“Ah, lehmeh geh drehsd.”

Janet goes back to the bathroom as Regina asks,” Ah, Captain, your wife wouldn’t happen to have x-ray vision now would she?”

“I hope not. She hasn’t said anything.”

Janet comes back after a few minutes wearing sweat pants and a tee shirt. She shakes the Captain’s hand and says,” So I see she dragged you here to shove our evidence in your face.”

“Yes, well your friend is a very interesting lady,” said the Captain.

“The whole team is,” she said heading toward the kitchen. “Now, can I offer you guys a drink?”

“Nothing for me thanks,” he said.

“Just a soft drink if you have one,” said Regina.

Janet came back and tossed Regina a soda. Janet sat back down on the couch and looked to Regina as she said,” Good news. Forensics found new evidence in the body they found for the Thompson case. Turns out that the body was seriously tampered with beforehand. They found trace chemicals that help alter DNA, and they manipulated the Key DNA to fool forensics. Your brother was right though, with the new evidence, they found the body to be that of Clarissa Can Dorn.”

“That is good news. Will that be enough to convict her?”

“In my book it is. I’m just waiting for the thumbs up from HQ. I assume this is why you brought the Captain himself?”

“Yup. Why don’t we get him up to speed on what’s going on?”

“In a minute. I want to show you something that your team just sent me…”

----------------------------------------------

“Nice work Tylar,” said Cherry. “I don’t know how you found all this, but this is great!”

“Thank you,” said Tylar. “I always pride myself for doing the best I can.”

“Sooo…” said Kayain. “What is he doing?”

“Well my simple minded brother, it’s like this,” he said, while cracking his knuckles. “I hack the database for all details on the CreyComp’s specs and details. In addition I find all the hidden data that could take them all down. All the stuff that supposedly ‘doesn’t exist’ is all here and accounted for. What I did was sent it out to everyone from the police, to the media. When they get sight of where it came from, they’ll be all over this place.”

“Wow, that is pretty good bro,” said Kayain. “And nowhere in this plan of yours does it involve you saying,’ I’d love you’ to Ami.”

“Shutup,” said Tylar through his teeth. “The virus has been planted, so we should have set them back for at least 3 or 4 months.”

“Excellent,” said Cherry. “Now the next thing to do is to erase the data here at this facility.”

“No problem. I’ll do that here, and if you would be so kind as to work at that terminal there?”

“All right… Hey Kayain, I need some help.”

“Hua?” said both Kayain and Tylar.

“I need you to go over to that computer over there and do me a favor, ok?”

“Uh, I’m really not that good with computers, babe.”

“Please? I’ll have sex with you if you do.”

“Ah-ha ha ha ha. Very funny… wait, seriously?”

Cherry smiled.

“Yea sure,” she said. “But that’s only if you like the French maid outfit I’m going to make you wear after that. And speaking of being my personal slave, once you loose, I promised Tylar I’d lend you out as a human table.”

Kayain sneered and said,” Just tell me what you want…”

“It’s a simple request, really. Just go over there to that computer and I want you to try and find the minesweeper game.”

“Yea, sure. No problem babe. I can totally do that.”

Kayain walked to the other side of the room and Tylar eyed her suspiciously.

“Ok, what was that about?” he asked.

“You said you wanted to erase everything on these computers right?”

“Yea, so?”

“I just gave Kayain free reign on a computer terminal. At this moment I consider it the unluckiest computer in the world.”

Kayain wasn’t just incompetent with technology, there was a very mutual hate between them. ‘Kick it till it works’ is Kayain’s motto on working technology. As far as he was concerned, technology went so far as to plot against him. There was definitely something premeditated about the way that when he uses something it never works, but bring it to the mechanic, and it works just fine until he leaves again.

Humm, thought Kayain. This defiantly doesn’t look like minesweeper. What’s all this garbage? I hope ‘formatting’ is the same as ‘looking for minesweeper’. Damn, there’s that ‘any key’ button I need to look for… Maybe I can trick the machine like I usually do by pressing the space bar. Ha! I knew it. I’m smarter than the machine… What’s this now?

“Hey guys,” said Kayain. “I think I did something I shouldn’t have.”

“See?” said Cherry. “Right on cue.”

“I’m seeing this picture here of the Countess, and she keeps morphing into a weasel.”

“Oh really?” says Cherry. “How’d you do that?”

“The ‘Katrul’ button and the ‘ahlt’ and the O at the same time.”

“Control alt O,” says Tylar. “By Jove he’s right. Must have been something from Mister Quigley.”

“Hey guys,” said Kayain. “I think I really messed something up.”

“That’s nice Kayain,” said Cherry, waving her hand dismissively. “Keep looking, I’m sure you’ll find it eventually.”

Cherry gets a signal on the communicator, and she answers,” This is Cherry.”

“Hey sis,” she hears Regina say. “Nice job on the information. I have the captain of the PPD here, and he’s looking it over right now. If things go over well, we may have the authority to take down the Countess Crey herself!”

“That’s great news!” says Cherry.

“And not only that, he’s reading the section on us, and how they paid off the judges to order our arrest. It’s got names and everything. How did you get all this?”

“You have Tylar to thank for that. He found everything.”

“Awesome job Tylar. I think I owe you a kiss don’t I?”

“Oh… no, no, no,” said Tylar. “You’re embarrassing me… Well perhaps a small one.”

“And there’d better be some tongue in it,” said Kayain in his mock Tylar voice. He grabbed Tylar’s communicator and said,“ And while you’re at it, why don’t you flash me your puppies?”

“Heh, heh,” said Regina. “For you Kayain, anything.”

“Sweet!”

Anyway,” said Cherry as she snatched away the communicator and handed it back to Tylar. “What has Janet said?”

“She says we will definitely have a case now,” said Regina. “If the Captain approves, we’ll have a warrant, and then with this evidence we’ll have a case… Ah the Captain is coming. Let me call you back…”

“I hope this goes over well,” said Tylar.

“It will,” said Cherry. “It has to.”

“Hey guys,” said Kayain.

“Yes Kayain?” said Cherry as she turned around. Behind her was Kayain sitting on a chair next to a pile of charred remains.

“I know I was supposed to be looking for minesweeper, but things got a little complicated see?”

“Go on…”

“Well first I somehow erased everything on the computer…”

“Dear me, that sounds bad.”

“Yea, and uh, anyway, next I somehow managed to make the computer set itself on fire.”

“On fire you say? I didn’t know a computer could set itself on fire.”

“I didn’t either. But it did manage to put a big picture of a middle finger on it before it melted away.”

“You certainly have a way with computers don’t you?”

“Yea so… I’m not in trouble am I?”

“No, no, no, far from it. I can forgive you this time, just don’t let it happen again, ok?”

“Really? Phew, I thought I was in trouble or something… so… You still wanna have sex?”

“Sorry, you didn’t actually find the minesweeper, so no.”

“Aaaww!”

After a few minutes of silence, Regina called in and said,” All right! The Captain has decided she is now a prime suspect, and has a warrant out for her arrest. Right now, he’s calling his men and letting them know of the situation.”

“All right!” said Cherry. “This means we’re in the clear as far as the law goes.”

“Yea, and he says that we are allowed to bring her in. Just a little added bonus for all our troubles.”

“Sweet!” said Kayain. “Payback’s a bitch, and I’m top dog there.”

“Yea I know, this is going to be-“ The connection was suddenly interrupted by a loud crash noise “-Uh oh… No! WAIT! AAAHH!”

----------------------------------------------

Misses Terrance busted through the wall and headed straight for Regina. She grabbed her by the front of her body suit and flew her out the hole in the wall.

“Ack! You’re making a big mistake!” said Regina.

“No! YOU made the mistake when you ruined my dinner plans! You know how hard it is to get a reservation at the Toulouse Garden?!”

Regina looked down at the impending doom below her.

“I’m really sorry about that-“

“You villains are all alike! You don’t care about anything but yourselves! You selfishly steal that which is most precious to someone else and everyone has to suffer for it!”

“Again, I’m really sorry but… Oh God we’re very high up…”

She pulled Regina closer and said,” What’s the matter Villain? Afraid of heights?”

“Heights don’t bother me…”

“Maybe if I were to drop you, you’d change your mind?”

“Falling doesn’t scare me,” she said defiantly. She looked down and said quietly,” But landing does.”

“Ha!”

“Lady, I didn’t really kidnap your husband… it was all pretense madam! I only did it to get him to come with me to that hotel with Janet and, oh shit-“ Misses Terrance’s face twisted in rage at that point “Boy, that could have been worded better- WAIT! Don’t drop me! I can explain!”

“You’ve got five seconds!”

“I brought him there so we could nail the Countess Crey at- SHIT! NO!”

She let go of Regina.

“Gina! Come in! This is Terrance!” he said over the communicator.

“A little busy at the moment! I’m about to become pavement in a few seconds!”

She plummeted faster and faster, and when she was close to hitting the road, she closed her eyes. Suddenly, she was lifted into the air again. She looked up to see she was being carried by Misses Terrance again.

“Please… Talk to your… husband… I’m going to be sick.”

“Honey! Please, don’t hurt her!”

“So,” she said nastily. “Just what the hell was she talking about, John, when she said she was taking you to a hotel?”

“No! It’s not like that honey! I’m here with Janet Kellum, of the FBSA, and the whole thing was a set-up for me to find evidence against the Countess Crey. Please, you have to believe me. It was all planned out, and I was part of it.”

“What?! You expect me to believe that-“

“Honey! Just do what I say!”

She sneered a bit and said,” All right. I’m on the way.” She added,” And as for you… You’d better hope he’s got something good, or I’ll use your head as a mop to clean up your own blood.”

“Ah-ha ha ha…”

----------------------------------------------

“Hello? Regina, come in! Regina!” said Cherry on her communicator. “Damn it, what happened to that girl…”

“Cherry?” said Regina.

“There you are! What the heck happened?”

“Turbulence.”

“What?”

“Never mind. Look, I’m ok now, all right? It was a misunderstanding. Apparently someone I know actually does have x-ray vision.”

“I want x-rated vision too!” said Kayain.

“And what was that noise earlier?” asked Cherry, ignoring Kayain.

“Oh, just someone flying through the wall. No biggie. The good news is, our names are cleared as the super villains, and we’ve got a warrant out on the Countess’s arrest.”

“In that case, I have one more job for you this evening.”

“Only one?”

“Perhaps you and your wallflower friend could go to the facility that controls the source of Biggs and Lu Bu’s infectious problem?”

“Oh sure… you have that data as well?”

“Janet does. She’ll give you the location, and the details on how to stop the device.”

“Janet says it’s located here in Founders Falls… I’ll get right on it. Gina, out.”

Cherry nods at the rest of them and says,” Let’s head back home. We’re going to need the rest of the crew to infiltrate Crey’s headquarters.”

----------------------------------------------

Early morning, the Countess Crey sat in her limo quietly waiting for them to arrive at her hidden cave entrance. Word had spread quickly that the Countess was guilty of murder, fraud, and many other conspiracies. All of which were absolutely true, but she wasn’t about to let the masses find her to be put on trial. Especially not when her empire was so strong. Something like this could shatter the entire foundation, and she would not stand for it. At least not in the United States she wouldn’t.

But the Countess was very crafty and very elusive. Any kind of massively illegal operation should always come equipped with an intricate escape route. The Countess spared no expense when it came to a largely planned escape tunnel out of the city, where she could safely make her getaway to the next country.

She sat in confidence that her private jet was safely being prepped outside the city limits. She thought, I loathe heroes. Meddlers! That’s what they are. Everything would have gone exactly as planned if it weren’t for those Vigilantes. I promise, I won’t rest until I get my revenge on all of them. They deserve pain, and in the worst way possible. I’ve already sent out the kill order for those two who stole my nano-tech. Now I need a way to make them writhe…

The Countess exited the limo to see the abandoned building that housed her escape tunnel, had it’s door torn off the hinges. Hopkins examined it and said,” Forced entry ma’am. We’ll check it out.”

Hopkins examined the small area inside, and found no damage to the hidden door that led to the tunnels. He came back out and said,” I don’t know ma’am. Might have been some homeless, cause there’s empty barrels that was used for fires.”

“Humph,” she said. “Let’s just get out of  here as soon as possible. The police could be on their way any second now-“

Right on cue, Captain Terrance suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He said,” Too late.”

Police sirens sounded off in the distance as the Countess said,” You! Terrance, I’ll have you fired for this! I’ll have you-“

“No,” said Cherry who also appeared from behind. “I’ll make sure, personally that you get put away for good.”

“In the name of everyone who you made suffer! And in the name of JUSTICE!” said Diana. “I will punish you villain!”

“To build a better world, a place where people are free of oppression and suffering!” said Kayain as he posed dramatically.

“Oh come on now,” said Danyel. “That was bad Kayain.”

“Vigilante’s I presume?” said the Countess. “Men! Get them!”

The two groups clashed in that little area. A paragon protector charged at Danyel, who simply smiled and teleported behind him right as he thrust his claws at him. Danyel lazily waved his hand and swept the Protector into the air with a devastating tornado.

Diana leaped from enemy to enemy pummeling them with anti-magic energy wrapping her fists.

The rest of the Vigilantes fought off the Countess’ forces, while Kayain looked toward the Countess herself.

“Hey!” he called out. “They’re getting away!”

Kayain ran down with them as they went to the escape hatch. He followed them into a closed off doorway, where the Countess was entering a code to open the door.

“Nowhere to run,” said Kayain stopping a few paces away. “And no place to hide.”

The Countess merely turned her head and sneered at him.

Hopkins,” she said as she typed. “Dispose of this fool.”

“With pleasure ma’am,” he said.

“Oh Yes, Indeed!” said Kayain, as he cracked his knuckles.

Hopkins straightened his tie, and popped his neck from side to side. Kayain yawned and said,” Just don’t make it too easy for me, eh?”

Hopkins charged and swung at Kayain. Kayain sidestepped gracefully, caught his arm, and brought him down to the floor, putting him in an arm bar.

“You know,” said Kayain as he held Hopkins’s arm. “Your boss is quite the hottie. You ever get a piece of her ass? I know I’d want to bury my bone-“

Kayain was a bit surprised to see Hopkins power his way up and toss Kayain aside like a rag doll.

“Do not talk about our good lady like that!” he said.

“Oh, touched a soft spot have I?” said Kayain getting up. “You’re gay right? I mean how could you not want a piece of ass like her? I bet she’s been knocked up so many times-“

Hopkins charged again, and this time caught Kayain in the torso, and rammed him into the solid rock wall. He slammed his fist several more times until there was a bloody imprint of Kayain as he was smashed into the wall.

He breathed for a moment, as Kayain was motionless on the wall. He adjusted his tie, and prepared for another hit. Kayain suddenly sprang forward, ramming his own fist into the tree trunk chest of Hopkins. Hopkins was caught off guard, as he had the wind knocked out of him from that shot. Kayain laid on a series of bone shattering punches and kicks, as Hopkins struggled to regain breath.

Hopkins swatted Kayain away and Kayain scooted back and said,” Hey, I can see you’ve got super powers yourself eh? How many times did you have to pleasure your boss to get those powers, eh?”

“Shut up!”

“Hey lighten up man! I’m only joking. I’ll take good care of your boss all right? I’ll make sure she gets her pleasure while she’s in jail-“

Hopkins charged Kayain and Kayain went low, and tripped him, making him land into the wall.

“On the bright side,” Kayain said. “You’re a pretty big guy, so when you’re in jail, you’ll more than likely have your fair share of chilly dogs.”

Hopkins turns around with a very large boulder he pulled out of the wall, and throws it at Kayain. The rock hits, and smashes Kayain into the wall again.

He charges Kayain, and Kayain moves in time so he doesn’t get cornered again.

Cherry comes running down the stairs and sees the fighting. She grits her teeth and mind dominates Hopkins, who is having trouble resisting.

“Yo! Go get the Countess! I’ll handle this fool, I’ve already got backup,” says Kayain.

“Where is she?” asks Cherry.

“She’s going to the escape pod. You can follow her, but be careful.”

“You too Kayain.”

“Yea, yea, we can make out later. Now GO!”

Cherry goes off down the corridor while Hopkins breaks free from the mind domination.

Kayain puts his arms out to the side and grins at Hopkins as he says,” What can I say though? As hot as your boss is, I’d never, AND I MEAN NEVER! Screw a nasty skank like her!”

“SHUT UP!”

Hopkins charged again. He wanted nothing more than to snuff out the grinning, arrogant, smiling face of Kayain. Fist raised, he closed in on him, when suddenly he ran into what seemed like a brick wall. He slammed hard into something in front of him, and fell over seeing stars.

Regina became visible right in front of Kayain, smiling.

As much as Kayain loved a good one on one fight, he would never say no to a good ol fashioned surprise gang bang on an enemy. Especially if the help came from an incredibly sexy woman.

And as far as Kayain was concerned, another thing about the ‘Vigilante Way’ was there was never an ‘inappropriate’ time for a good kick in the nuts in a fight.

He said,” You got him pretty good. Can I give you a Football high five?”

Regina put her hands on her hip and said,” You mean slap my ass and say ‘good job’?”

“Yea, one of those.”

Regina pretended to be surprised, and gently slapped Kayain’s cheek as she said,” Fresh! Keep it in your pants big guy. But I will say though, I’m glad you said you’d never do it with that nasty Countess. For a moment I thought you were cheating on me.”

“Aww baby, you know I’d never cheat on you. Now, how about that spanking though?”

“No thanks darlin’.”

“I wasn’t talking about you,” he said, looking at Hopkins.

----------------------------------------------

Cherry continued down the corridor in pursuit of the Countess. She felt a presence nearby and slowed down a bit.

“Julianne! I know you’re out there!” said Cherry. “Give it up, you’ve lost. Soon, the world will find out who you really are and what you did.”

A gun shot rang out and a bullet ricocheted off a rock nearby.

Cherry put up a psi-barrier and continued walking. She rounded a corner and saw the Countess pressing a series of buttons on a door.

“Julianne, I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said Cherry.

The Countess turned and shot at her a few times until the gun was out.

“Please, this isn’t the answer,” said Cherry as the bullets all deflected. “I’m telling you right now, if you go in there, you will seriously regret it.”

“What do you know?!” said the Countess tossing the empty gun aside. “I’ve done more for this community than you, or any of your hero friends could ever dream to accomplish. And in one fell swoop, you rob me of everything!”

“Take a look around you Julianne. Look what you’ve been reduced to. You’re making a getaway like a common thief. You knew from the beginning what you were getting yourself into when you killed Clarissa Can Dorn. You made this empire off of a lie, and now you’re going to pay for it all.”

“Clarissa was a fool!” said Julianne sneering at Cherry. “Just the memory of her makes me sick! Everything she could have accomplished was wasted on that pathetic man she wanted to marry! All that potential, and talent, and she wasted it on a man!”

“What’s wrong with that?” said Cherry looking down a bit. “Everyone’s got the right to happiness. Hers was in the loving arms of Count Crey. And you killed her for it. On top of that, you married the man she loved to steal his thunder. I doubt you’ve ever loved anything in your life.”

“Love?” said Julianne as though Cherry had just made up a word. “It was business. How could anyone believe in such a ridiculous thing as love? Love is a fool’s game, Vigilante. Nothing more than an unnatural infatuation with the opposite sex. Hormones and chemicals, and people want to believe it’s something more than that. I’ve read your mind, and you’ve loved and lost.”

“I have,” said Cherry as she folded her arms. “I’ve loved before, and lost. But I’ve never lost my belief in love. You’re just to immature, and unforgiving to understand that.”

I’m immature?! I’m not the one leading a team who sodomizes their enemies!”

“Sodomy is an accepted punishment in Orcish culture, and that’s probably a cultural misunderstanding between one of my teammates and yours. Think of it as a spanking, only a little harder.”

“Is that supposed to make me laugh?”

Cherry scratched at something on her back and said,” No but I heard from someone that Sodomizing a clown apparently a very funny subject.”

“Very droll Vigilante.“

“Hey I’ve got a question off topic, why her? Why Clarissa? I mean what happened to you? Why didn’t you just start your own empire?”

“You idiot! That would have taken too long! I would not even be alive today to see my empire if I’d have done that. And it was all Michael Kane’s fault that I got that nasty criminal record. He used me. Used me, as a scapegoat for his sorry hide.”

“He was murdered recently I hear. Know anything about it?”

“I ordered it! He paid for his arrogance.”

“I see,” said Cherry as she scratched her back a little. “So you admit to murdering Clarissa Can Dorn, and more recently Michael Kane.”

“What difference does it make? You already knew that!”

“I know, I know, but I wanted to hear you say that.”

“What do you mean?”

Cherry reached at her back again, and pulled out a wire. She said,” Ok boys, I hope you got all that.”

“YOU! I’ll kill you next!”

Julianne ran at Cherry, and Cherry thrust her back with a psi blast. Julianne landed on her back, but immediately rolled backwards into standing position.

Cherry then began to try and mind dominate Julianne, but was caught off guard by a mind domination from Julianne.

Cherry’s eyes went wide and she grabbed her head in pain.

“I’m going to liquefy everything in your head and make you drink it!” says Julianne as she approaches Cherry.

Julianne grabs Cherry’s head, and lets out a yell of surprise.

Inside her head, she hears Cherry’s voice say,” You know the difference between you and me is I’ve had my psionic powers for over two hundred years. You’ve had them ever since your revenant project. I’m much better at this than you are…”

“Get…out…of…my… HEAD!” says Julianne.

Julianne finds she can’t control her hands and can’t let go of Cherry’s head. Inside their minds, Cherry’s subconscious sees Julianne’s and proceeds to beat the tar out of her.

After a few good ego whips, Julianne takes hold of her conscious for a few seconds in order to let go of Cherry’s head. They both pull out of the trance and breath heavily as if they were underwater for a long time.

The Countess slowly gets up, and sees Cherry cough a bit and try and get up. She kicks Cherry in the face, and steps on her neck.

“You won’t stop me!” she says.

She walks over to the doorway, and puts in the last of her code. Cherry slowly gets up again, coughing, and says,” No! Wait, don’t do that!”

“Shut up and die!” says the Countess as she walks over and stomps on Cherry again.

“You’re making a big mistake! I’m warning you. Don’t go-“ says Cherry just before she gets another kick in the face.

The door opens, and Julianne finally gets off Cherry, and runs to the door.

“Well guys,” says Cherry in the mic. “I hope you got that, especially when I tried to warn her…”

----------------------------------------------

The Countess ran as fast as she could manage. Cherry’s psionic assault nullified her own psionic abilities for quite possibly the entire week unless she got her treatment soon.

Julianne seals the only entryway off, and overrides the door code, so it is on permanent lockdown. Nothing short of super strength was going to get through that door.

She cursed under her breath at the thought of Cherry. She now wished she would have killed while she was lying helpless on the floor.

She stopped for a moment to catch her breath. She took a deep breath and started to feel better. She had gotten away from the Vigilantes, and was on her way to another country to repair the damages they had done. Soon after, she’d have her revenge on them. Everything was going to be ok.

Except for the fact that she heard a low growl from somewhere inside the chamber.

She looked around, and didn’t see anything. But she did hear that low and animal-like growl from somewhere around her.

“Who’s there? Show yourself!”

Again, she heard the growl, only this time it sounded closer.

The Countess didn’t make a fortune and become the mastermind of a hugely successful criminal operation by being stupid. She was unarmed, and without her power at that moment, and the best thing was not to try and intimidate the thing back.

She ran into the escape pod, and sealed the door. The pod was fairly big; two rooms, the bridge and a small sleeping area.

As she tried to start the engine, she noticed the fuel level was on empty. She got out, and noticed a fuel barrel nearby. She dragged it to the ship but found to her horror that the fuel pumps had been cut, and several circuits had been seriously damaged.

“Shit!” she said examining the wreckage. “Who could have-“

On cue, the growl sounded again, this time very close.

She slowly backed away and went back inside the pod and sealed the door. Inside she looked around for an emergency weapon. The only thing she found was an old 9mm semi-auto.

She sat and waited, debating whether she should try and take on whatever was making those noises, or try and get the hatch door open and go on foot.

She heard the growl again, this time very loud, and very close. It sounded almost as if it were-

Inside with me…

She turned around and saw the door to the other room open slowly. She panicked and fired a couple rounds at the door until she was out.

The door continued to open, and a silhouette of a very small person was standing in the doorway under the bullet riddled spots in the door. It stepped out into the light and the Countess found that it really was a little person. He was holding a tape recorder, and when he pressed play it made the growling noise she heard.

“Hello lassie,” it said.

“Who are you?” she said.

“Name’s Biggs, yer little experiment! An’ don’ ya forget it ya filthy fecker!”

“It can’t be! I ordered them to terminate you!”

“Ah, know ya did. But ah got better.”

“Impossible!”

“No, yer titties are impossible. There’s no way those are real.”

“Why you-“

“Ah, behind ya lass…”

The Countess turned around just in time to see a very large axe in mid-swing coming right at the windshield.

The axe cleaved right into the metal framework like a knife through butter. A very large green hand grabbed the damaged pane and tore it completely out.

A gigantic green person flung himself inside and landed next to the Countess. He grabbed her and said,” This her?”

“Ya,” said Biggs. “Lu Bu, Countess… Countess, meet Lu Bu. The other person ya tried to do away with.”

“Sure is an ugly little thing isn’t she?” said Lu Bu. “I say we boil her alive. I can make her into some nice stew called ‘YAAARGORG!!!’”

“No! Don’t eat me you monster!” said the Countess.

“No, no. The Cap’n said specifically to ya, that yer not ter eat anyone today.”

The Countess struggled in vain as Lu Bu held on without much strength.

“An, while ah’m at it yer not ter, uh, yer not ter… ack, hold on… Ah here it is, yer not ter use her head as a bowlin’ ball an’ yer also not ter- ack, Cap’n’s handwritin’ is too ga-damn loopy- Yer not ter, Defecate in the headless torso if ya rip the head off’.”

“Oh, fine… You’ve sooo ruined my ‘rip your head off and shit down your neck’ routine.”

“Cap’n’s orders. Not mine.”

“What about her legs? She don’t need those…”

“No! Cap’n said she’s ter have all her limbs where they’s supposed ter be. Cap’n’s a good an’ proper lady. She won’t stand fer mutilation and torture...”

“Well what can we do then?”

Biggs thought about it for a moment, and said,” Oh, I know How abou’ a game?”

“Let me go you brute!” said the Countess.

Lu Bu bops her on the head and says,” Hush! Don’t upset mister Biggs. He can get angry pretty fast.”

The Countess was seeing stars from Lu Bu’s little tap on the head. When her vision clears up, she sees Biggs holding a backpack, and grinning maliciously.

“Well, yer in luck! Ah brough’ me backpack. It’s full of goodies fer today’s event!”

The Countess stared in horror as Biggs pulled out the first item.

“An look at tha’! It seems ah’ve got some ginger! Oh but it looks like she packed ah bit too much, don’t ya think so Lu Bu?”

“It looks like that whole backpack is full of nothin’ but Ginger.”

“Right ya are Lu Bu! Right ya are,” said Biggs as the Countess squirmed. “Now Lu Bu, can ya think of any kin’ of game we could play with all tha’ Ginger?”

Lu Bu actually did have to think of something. Logic was never a good thing to mix with an Orc.

“Cooking?”

Biggs slaps his forehead.

“No. How can we cook if we don’ have a fryin’ pan, eh?”

“Oh…  Oh wait, I’ve got a different game!”

“Tell me.”

“Back on Aaarg, we play this game where we shove as many weird objects as possible up someone’s butt hole! We call it,’ Aouuuuga! (™)’.”

“Isn’t that also an Orcish board game?” said Biggs.

“Yea, but for some reason it wasn’t that popular.”

The countess panicked and said,“ You can’t do that! I’m-“

“About ter be in a world of pain,” interrupted Biggs. “Allrigh’ Lu Bu, how do we play this game?”

“That’s easy. First, we get a one of our captured enemies.”

“Done.”

“Then, we make bets on how many things we can shove in there in under the time limit of one minute.”

“Sounds allrigh’. What does the winner get?”

“Winner gets to pummel the enemy.”

Biggs rubs his hands together and says,” Ah like the sound o’ this. What say we have ah little’ wager eh?”

“I thought you said Captain wouldn’t tolerate torture?”

“Humm,” said Biggs as he rubbed his chin. “Ya’ve got a point there lad. But ya said ya do this all the time on yer planet?”

“Yea?”

“So, it’s a fun game righ’?”

“Well, not for the other guy…”

“But it’s fun still?”

“I’m the current record holder of 7 things in a human…”

“And remember Cap’n did say ‘Have fun.” Right?”

“Yea…”

“Then, ah challenge you ter a match, an yer honor demands ya accept.”

“Oh, you’re on pal.”

Once again, way too easy, thought Biggs.

“Allrigh’! Since ah’m a beginner ah’ll bet ah can do.. eh.. 5.”

“I bet 8.”

“Yer on!”

“NOOOOO,” said the panicked Countess. “You can’t do this! You’ll pay dearly for this! I’ll kill you all!”

“Don’t think of it as something awful madam,” said Lu Bu. “Think of it as experiencing my people’s great culture firsthand.”

“Yea,” said Biggs. “Now open up fer the Choo Choo…”

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“Come in,” said Captain Terrance. “Oh, you’re finally here.”

Cherry walked in and shook hands with the Captain.

“Still pulling your tricks Regina?” he said.

Regina became visible behind Cherry and said,” How’d you know?”

“Saw the door bump you after Cherry came in.”

Regina gave him a little smile and Cherry said,” So Captain, you wanted to talk?”

“Yes. Close the door Gina. Thank you,” He pulled a recorder out of his desk and said,” This conversation will be recorded for the records. First off, I wanted to find out how the case is going.”

“According to your laws, most of the evidence on CreyComp was obtained illegally, and they’re trying to get it thrown out. I doubt it will though.”

“Obvious tactics. However the other evidence was obtained through Janet Kellum’s investigation. The murder, fraud, and conspiracy charges will all more than likely go over well.”

“I hope so. Gives us enough time to accomplish our goals before the Countess is loosed once again. I believe that next time the Countess will unleash a furious attack on us. We’ll be long gone off your planet before then.”

“I heard you guys were offworlders from another source… But tell me, what are your homeworld’s laws pertaining to sodomy?”

Cherry’s serious expression didn’t faultier. She said,” The same as here. It’s illegal and frowned upon. And in my opinion I won’t stand for it.”

“Anything else?”

“Well… I did hear a good one about a clown.”

“Excuse me?”

“Never mind.”

“And what about if I said some of your teammates were doing it?”

“I’d say that was completely untrue.”

He raised an eyebrow at her and said,” Really? I got this report saying that the Countess was sodomized by two of your teammates. Biggs and Lu Bu to be more specific.”

“Is that what they say?” said Cherry who still looked as serious as a statue. “I don’t see how they could have done it while they were bedridden from Crey’s nano-tech assault. Even at this very minute they are in our sick area being tended to by our Doctor. And she says they haven’t left the spot at all.”

“Indeed,” said the Captain. “According to her testimony though, she said the big green Orc started shoving vegetables up her anus to see how many he could fit… then he suddenly stopped, and they fled the scene.”

“That’s a very odd statement,” said Cherry. “First off, Crey’s nano-tech was causing a constant source of pain for them, so they were sedated most of the time to keep them from going insane from pain. That much you already know. How is it, that they somehow got up and ran over to a secret base that I never told them about, bypass all security codes they didn’t have, and manage to get in and break her escape pod, just to shove vegetables up her anus.

Unless you’re accusing us of having some kind of advanced medical technology? You know some sci-fi stuff, like oh, I don’t know, how about a stimulant that acts as an adrenaline that keeps people alive and pain free. Now I’m not saying we do have that, but if we did I’m sure it could easily keep Lu Bu and Biggs up and running long enough to do what they’re being accused of… But since we don’t, and that kind of stuff is all make-believe, it’s completely absurd.”

“You’re right,” said the Captain smoothly. “It is very absurd. Oh and incidentally ma’am, that was a lucky guess about how you knew her escape pod was broken. You weren’t inside there at all were you?”

“No sir,” said the expressionless Cherry. “I figured it was broken since she didn’t escape. And if I may dare another guess… I’ll go out on a limb here but, she might have gotten a very big axe lodged in, oh say… the fuel pumps?”

“Amazing deduction,” he said, completely lacking in enthusiasm. “I can see why they all look up to you now. Sharp as a tack.”

“I try, sir.”

“Another question. I seem to recall hearing that you showed up in court in a full body cast, due to the Countess’s aggression. You told your sad story of how that insane woman put you in a body cast, and you only wanted to help her. Your audio recording proved it.”

“Yes sir.”

He looked her up and down to see no bandages, and her pretty face unscratched.

“So what I want to know is why you’re walking around right now?”

“I eat very healthy. Strong to the finish, cause I eat my spinach.”

“Good enough for me. I mean it’s not like you have some kind of regenerating technology hidden in your house or anything right?”

“Perish the thought! Imagine the kind of facility we’d have to have in order to run a regenerating facility! We’d have to have an entire floor full of things. We only have a limited space in our little penthouse suite!”

“True, true… Ok, that’s all the questions I have for you,” he said as he turned off the recorder. “Now off the record, thanks again for your help against Crey…”

Cherry smiled and said,” I’m sure Claire is a lot happier now.”

Terrance paused a moment and said,” How do you know about Claire?”

“I’m a telepath. I know it’s none of my business, but sometimes I can’t help hearing surface thoughts. I can also read memories, and your memory of Claire is standing out like a sore thumb right now.”

“Claire, my daughter…” said Terrance as he pulls out a picture. “She was only sixteen years old when she was abducted by Crey. They used her in their sick ‘Project Revenant’. They killed her to hide the evidence.”

Cherry takes his hand and holds it for a moment. She says,” And now you’ve put the person responsible for it behind bars. And it was because you listened to us when no one would. You decided not to cover your eyes to the truth like everyone else. While others were bought and intimidated, you stood your ground and took her down. Claire would be proud.”

“Yea…” he said. “Thank you. You guys have brought a bit of light back in my life.”

“Just glad we could help.”

“Much appreciated… Oh by the way, Regina, did you get the gift basket my wife sent you?”

“Yes I did, thanks,” said Regina as she smiled.

“I have to admit, she was very apologetic once she found out everything.”

“She was indeed. She apologized about a hundred times.”

“And she brought me along when she was buying gifts for you. I have to say, I thought the parachute she bought you was a little odd, but she said it would amuse you.”

“Tell her, I was very much amused.”

“I will.”

“Ah, Captain,” said Cherry. “Hate to cut things short, but we have an appointment today.”

“Yes, yes, of course. I’ll see you out.”

The Captain walked the two all the way out to the steps. They said their goodbyes and Cherry and Regina went around the corner to a hot dog vendor where Biggs and Lu Bu were waiting for them.

“Ah, got both of ya a dog,” said Biggs.

“Thank you,” said Cherry. “Now Biggs, I suspect the ginger was your idea?”

“Righ’ ya are!”

“Mmm, mhm… And why did you disobey my order not to do that?”

“Sorry abou’ tha’ Cap’n. Cultural difference I suppose… She called me a leprechaun! I’m no’ gonna sit aroun’ and take tha’ now am I?”

Leprechaun was a racial slur that most of the other races used for Halflings.

“Still, you know I had to save your sorry butt back there. And if they do find out about that… Well I can’t say I’m going to pull your butt out again.”

“Righ’, righ’. I agree, I was outta line there. An’ I deserve it ifn’ I’m caught.”

“Just glad we have an understanding… Oh and another question... Out of curiosity, I heard as you were doing your dirty deed, you suddenly stopped and ran away…”

Lu Bu and Biggs exchanged glances. Biggs said,” Should I? Or…”

“I’ll tell her,” said Lu Bu. “Well it’s like this… you see, we were playing ‘Aouuuuga! (™)’ and then we saw she wasn’t… err… well she wasn’t unhappy about it.”

“What do you- Oh NO!”

“Yea… She actually kind of… liked it.”

“It were the smile on ‘er face tha’ gave it away,” said Biggs.

Cherry rubbed her temples as Regina covered her ears and said,” Eew, Eww, gross. Please stop talking.”

“Great,” said Cherry. “Now I have to burn that mental image out of my mind. Thanks a lot.”

----------------------------------------------

Kayain waited patiently in the lobby of Super Hero Inc. for his appointment with the leader, Ms. World. The bored looking secretary with the short blue colored hair was idly painting her nails and completely ignoring the pile of paperwork in her in box, and a ringing phone.

Ms. World finally stepped out of her office and said,” Judith! I’ve been calling you for the past thirty minutes! What are you doing?”

“I’m very busy at the moment! Can’t you see all this paperwork!?”

“Judith… You’ve been a lousy secretary for the past five years. Tell me why I keep you around?”

“You’re helpless without me.”

“Am not! Now answer my phone for me… Oh, you can come in now Mister Kayain.”

“Hot damn!” he said.

Ms. World sat down and offered Kayain a chair in front of her desk.

“Welcome to Super Hero Incorporated. I’m Ms. World, the founder of our multinational. I heard you were from a charity organization that seeks to help out women around the board,” said Ms. World.

“Oh Yes, Indeed! I represent the ‘Cure for the Common Breast’ foundation,” said Kayain, grinning like an idiot.

“Wait… say that again…”

“I’m from the ‘Cure for the Common Breast’ foundation.”

“I thought you were from ‘Breast Cancer foundation’…”

“Err, no. But I believe our cause is just as important, if not more important.”

“What is it you guys do?”

“Well, the ‘Cure for the Common Breast’ foundation is currently researching the cause of the strange phenomenon in super powered females such as yourself, which causes big boobies, or to be put in scientific terms, ‘Boobius Maximus’. Our goal is to identify what Boobius Maximus is, and how we can duplicate it. If we are successful, the future of every single women out there will be a hundred times brighter! We will have made the world’s first ever true breast growing formula! So no longer will smaller women have to worry about never having enough boobage, nor will athletic, non-super powered women. The future will be a better place once we’re successful, and you and your company can help out with a charitable donation! You’d be doing the world a great favor if you’d just be so kind as to help out. Think of all those poor, sad, ironing board women out there who need help… our kind of help. So what do you say? Will you donate to a charitable fund?”

Ms. World sat, glued to her char, unable to believe what she was hearing. She just stared at him with a mixture of discontent and curiosity, hoping he would say,’ April fools!’

When that didn’t come, she still didn’t say anything. She stood up, and walked out the door, leaving Kayain sitting there looking confused.

“Judith. How the hell could you let this guy in?”

“Well,” she said while typing on her daily blog. “He said he wanted to talk to you, and I said no. So he offered to flirt with me on the phone. I suppose it was my malcontent bred with disloyalty that made me say yes. Or possibly it was simply boredom. Maybe a combination of both.”

Ms. World narrowed her eyes at her and said,” Judith… You’re fired.”

Judith blinked and said,” Well I suppose it was bound to happen sometime. I would have thought you would fire me for the fact that I steal all of your paper clips from your desk every day. Or perhaps for the times I used your e-mail address to send threatening letters to our board members. Or even the couple times I had your car turned into a cube.”

“Damnit Judith! Clean out your desk and get going!”

“Whoa, whoa there! Hang on one second. You can’t officially fire me without authorization form WG733.”

“I can and will!”

“Ah, but then you’d loose credibility for breaking your own rules. As if the rules don’t apply to you. What would the board think I wonder? They’d think all those threatening letters are true, that’s what!”

Ms. World became very angry and sneered at Judith.

“Fine! Where is the WG733?”

“We’re out.”

“Then order some! And go away!” said Ms. World as she went back in with Kayain.

Judith rolled her eyes and said,” Yea, good luck on that…”

Another man came up to her and said,” Excuse me Madam. I’m with Benson’s Towing. I got a call about a vehicle out of commission that needs to be junked.”

Judith hands over a pair of keys that were not hers and says,” Here you go. It’s parked at the top of the garage. Red Ferrari, you can’t miss it. Please cube it as fast as possible. The company is paying for it.”

Ms. World walked back in with Kayain and said,” Look. I run a respectable business here. I have the title of Ms. World, not because I have massive cleavage. Most women are happy how they are. And you’ll forgive me for saying that I think your claim is totally bogus.”

“Yea but-“

“I will not be making a donation for something as ridiculous as that.”

“But-“

“And that’s final,” she said as she sat down. Behind her sat a view to the garage, and also a tow truck coming for a Red Ferrari. “We simply will not waste company money for something like that.”

Both cars drove off.

“Well… How about any kind of help? I mean you could provide boobage data for us! We’re always looking for volunteers!”

“What?! Hey pal, who do you think you are?”

“They’re a good example…”

“All right! That’s enough, out, out, OUT!”

She picks Kayain up by the collar and drags him to the doorway.

“How about at least a picture for the records?” he says.

“OUT!”

She slams the door in his face.

“Thanks for your time I guess,” he says at the door. “We’ll keep in touch ok? Hello?”

Ms. World sighed as she leaned on the door. She looked down at her chest and smiled a bit..

She laughed out loud when she thought about it. She knew that guy was actually very serious minded about the whole thing, and despite his language he kept a straight face. Although there was a bit of truth to it, she didn’t think it was anything worth researching.

She went back to her chair and leaned back a bit. She was looking forward to going home today in her brand new car. She looked outside to see her baby, and looked a bit confused.

Odd, she thought. I know I parked somewhere in the garage…






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