|Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors
Review this story
Chapter Six: Straight is the Way
By Myths n’ Wraiths
Edited by Vindea
Myth stared at the small jagged tear in the chain link fence, which surrounded one of Galaxy City’s many power relay stations. It was no more than two feet high and showed signs of melting.
“Looks like this is where it went in,” Myth said, passing his two companions a sideways glance.
The two were dressed in casual civilian clothes, not unlike their leader. Lusion sported a pair of khaki slacks and a sports jacket while Desimus showed off his mass in a dark muscle shirt and a pair of black fatigues.
“You think he will return to the same place to feed again tonight?” Lusion asked doubtfully.
“He is a wary creature,” Desimus’s deep voice interjected. “But a creature none the less. Like all other beasts he will return to the same watering hole as long as he believes it is safe.”
“Some watering hole,” Lusion replied sarcastically, looking over the power relay station. The four devices inside the fence were each the size of a small house, heavily shielded and insulated behind metal walls. The creature had a hunger for high doses of electrical current and supposedly came here nightly to get his fix.
“So, what’s the plan?” Lusion persisted.
Myth took in his surroundings patiently before speaking. “Lusion, you are going to stay here and make sure that no repair crews come by to fix this fence. When the creature comes back here tonight, I don’t want anything scaring it off.”
“And you two?”
“Desimus and I are going to do our best to make sure that it never gets a chance to come by tonight,” Myth replied flatly. “We’ve got five hours of sunlight left before there is any chance that this thing will come out to feed. Hope you’re wearing your work boots big guy,” Myth said, slapping Desimus’s steel-hard back. “We’re heading into the sewers.”
Whether it was the wine, the food, or the attack earlier that day, Vindea could not tell, but fatigue was quickly setting in on her. She yawned sleepily and stretched her slender arms.
“Ah, you must be quite tired after your ordeal,” Reyeto said apologetically. “And listen to me going on and on about politics and ethics.”
“No, it’s quite alright,” Vindea protested. “I’ve enjoyed our conversation very much.”
“Have you indeed? I must admit that you are the first Hero that I have heard say that in a very long time. This subject does not normally sit well with people in your profession,” Reyeto said, cocking one of his bushy white eyebrows and leaning back in his chair.
“I…” Vindea stopped, considering her words. It was not customary for the Dogs of War to discuss their business or their policies with anyone, least of all someone who was probably the most wanted man in the city and, by default, her enemy. Despite her reservations, however, Vindea could not help but feel a comfort and peace in Reyeto’s presence.
“My team and I are not exactly the conventional type,” Vindea spoke decidedly.
“Do tell,” Reyeto invited.
“It’s hard to explain, but when I hear you speak I can’t help but think of Myth, our leader.”
“How so?” Reyeto probed, a genuine sign of interest growing on his face.
“He acts more like a soldier than a hero, really. He considers casualties, as long as they are not on the good side, unfortunate but not unacceptable. He is the most unusual empath I have ever known. Most of them or so emotionally wired that they can’t stand any pain existing around them, but to Myth, its all just part of life. We don’t pull punches when it comes to dealing with dirt bags,” Vindea spoke freely, unsure of why she felt comfortable in doing so.
“To be honest I can’t think of anyone else I would rather take orders from,” she added with an subconscious nod.
“So you agree with his methods then. Odd that you would find his acceptable and not mine,” Reyeto pressed.
Vindea shrugged dismissively, “I have known him long enough to trust his intentions and methods. My first experience with your methods left me unconscious and could have gotten me killed,” she said in a factual tone.
“Point taken,” Reyeto agreed, shaking his head. “Then in the interest of self-redemption, perhaps I could convince you to remain with me until the evening hours when I will be addressing my companions. Then you will be able to see first-hand my intentions and how I plan on ridding this city of fear once and for all.”
Vindea paused, weighing her options heavily. If Reyeto was indeed going to be addressing his entire flock of followers then it would be a valuable opportunity to gauge what type of power the old man truly wielded. Seeing him speak to his people would also help Vindea judge just how fanatical his views were. On the other hand, she had not checked in with Wraith for over three hours and the ideas of what that mutant would do when he found out she was missing made her flinch.
In the end her sense of duty and curiosity won out over her concern for her partner’s antics.
“I would love to stay the evening,” she said, flashing a winning smile and taking another sip of wine.
“Then it is settled,” Reyeto replied, returning the smile and standing up from the table with a slight bow. “Now I must leave you to get some rest my dear. It will be a busy night and I must prepare,”
“Very well then. I think I will rest up a bit,” Vindea said, standing and passing the lavishly covered bed a desiring glance.
“Sleep well,” Reyeto concluded, and with a whisper of arcane words and a faint flash of light the man disappeared from the room.
Instantly his form emerged in a rustic and dilapidated warehouse in North Kings Row. Several figures waited expectantly for him in the shadows and converged on him quickly when he appeared. They were all dressed in well-made clothes that had seen better days and ,judging by their faces, they themselves were in the same state.
“Is she awake?” an old man asked in a raspy tone.
“Did she give you any trouble?” a middle-aged woman with dirty blonde hair added.
“Yes and no,” Reyeto responded in a calming and confident tone. “I have convinced her to join us tonight before the culling begins.”
“Are you sure that is wise?” A deep bass voice spoke from the shadows. A middle aged, slim man, with long dark hair stepped forward into the light that was cast from a skylight. The shimmering rays did not pierce his presence however, and the shadows that surrounded him prevailed, revealing only the faintest aspects of his gaunt features.
“She has shown no hostility to us so far, only curiosity. I do not consider that a threat,” Reyeto spoke authoritatively.
“But what if she does show hostility?” the dirty blonde persisted.
“Then we will do what we must.”
Dark eyes glared with rage in the dim and dusty light of the ruined attic of an old church. Wraith’s shoulders flexed beneath his tattered, black leather jacket and he kicked at a collapsed beam in frustration. The already crumbling wood splintered from the blow, adding to the mass of debris that had been created by what must have been a desperate confrontation.
In the maddened mutant’s hand laid the broken remains of Vindea’s cell phone. The secure transmitting device was both for communication and for tracking in case a member were to be lost while away from the base. It was programmed to send out an encoded burst transmission every ten minutes that theoretically could only be tracked by the equipment in the Dogs of War base. Vindea’s last transmission had come nearly two and a half hours ago.
Casting the ruined phone away angrily, Wraith turned his attentions to his surroundings. Massive, gaping holes were strewn across what was left of the decaying ceiling. The edges of the holes were jagged and uneven, as if a wrecking ball had been cast out of the attic with incredible force.
Kinetic Blasts, Wraith thought to himself. The telltale sign that Vindea had gone crazy in this building and nearly brought the roof down on herself and whatever was attacking her. But who, or what, had attacked her?
The faint lingering of nether energy still clung to the floorboards and drifted through the air. Wraith’s own use of the negative energy heightened his sensitivity to its presence. He could feel it curling around his ankles, drawn to his energy and seeking, even in its faint form, to absorb his life force. Whatever had assaulted Vindea had wielded more raw negative energy than Wraith had ever encountered.
Urgency forced its way through his anger and Wraith reached for his phone. Vindea had been following one of the people involved in the killings the night before. It looked to Wraith like she had gotten a little too close. Every instinct and ounce of sense he had told him that the individuals responsible for the death of over a hundred people were also responsible for Vindea’s absence. He had no lead or clue that told him where to look for these unnatural meta-humans but he knew someone who did.
Jeremy had not given up any information while he was in the Dogs of War custody but that was just because Wraith hadn’t asked for any. That was about to change.
Resolution settled in the brooding mutant’s mind. He would get Jeremy back from the Paragon Patriots by whatever means necessary. Myth could sit on the sidelines if he wanted but Wraith was determined to find these masochists, and if they had harmed Vindea in anyway… death would seem like release.
Placing his phone to his ear Wraith commanded, “Myth,”
For the hundredth time since he had gone subterranean, Myth counted the ways he hated Paragon’s sewers. No matter how hard he tried to avoid the filth ridden drainage system he always ended up back there. The empath found himself wondering when the last time a Freedom Phalanx member had bothered to take on a mission that would lead this far into the festering human excrement. Frustration began to well in Myth’s mind when he remembered the falling-out that he and Statesman had had after the Dogs of War had attempted to apprehend the Gamester and had grabbed a look-a-like robot by mistake.
The faint hum of a vibrating phone broke Myth’s chain of thought and drew a grave look from Desimus’s already serious face. The phone was left on at all times in case of an emergency, a regular occurrence in Paragon, and despite the importance of their current task Myth answered it without hesitation.
“Yes,” he said simply and quietly. A long pause in the conversation followed, during which Myth’s face went from stern to a storm of frustration.
“Well, yes, but Emerald should be turning Jeremy over to the proper authorities about now,” he finally said gravely and paused to listen again.
“No, Wraith,” Myth nearly shouted, breaking the relative silence of the sewers. “We will find her withou-,” he began but stopped suddenly. “Damn it, he hung up,” Myth spat.
After a brief pause to gather his thoughts, Myth began to feverishly dial his phone. While waiting for his call to be answered, he turned to Desimus and said, “Vindea has gone missing. We have got to get out of here quick before Wraith gets himself locked up… or killed.”
Desimus cocked a heavy eyebrow and followed Myth as he began to backtrack toward the nearest access hatch.
“Emerald,” Myth said once his call was answered. “Where is Jeremy?” A brief pause helped to bolster the growing tension. Myth was moving at nearly a sprint now despite having to drudge through the thick filth around his ankles.
“Emerald, you have got to stop that transfer. Keep Jeremy away from the Longbow and get your people out of there,” Myth insisted in a commanding tone.
Myth and Desimus rounded a blind corner and were stopped dead in their tracks. The sporadic pops of static electricity now filled the air and an overpowering odor of burnt sewage filled the two mutant’s lungs. From the shadows up ahead a raspy squeaking noise responded to their presence and with the light of each static spark a pair of wide, shining eyes could be seen glaring back at them.
“Very bad timing,” Desimus muttered.
Over the noise of the growing static Myth recognized Emerald’s voice shouting in a concerned tone, “Myth, what’s going on? What’s wrong?”
Apprehension welled in Myth’s mind. He could feel the growing anger and aggression emanating from the creature down the tunnel; he could sense the impending attack. A mere second before the tunnel was flooded in blinding, crimson electricity, he shouted, “Wraith is coming!”