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Chapter Nine: The Webs We Weave
By Myths n’ Wraiths
Edited by Vindea
With a sense of resolution and a whisper of archaic words, Wraith crushed a small glass vial in his fist, which he held in front of Jeremy’s face. A light blue vapor seeped through his clenched fingers and drifted over the weary old man’s gaunt features. He lay on the satin sheets of a king-size bed with the mist above him. His chest rose and fell slightly, and a long moment passed before a noticeable change began to take place. His chest began to rise and fall more heavily and his bloodshot eyes fluttered open.
Shaking the broken pieces of the vial into a sterile rag and slipping them into his pocket, Wraith turned to Lusion and said, “You can do this, or I can. Makes no matter to me.”
“Lusion will do it,” Myth interjected stepping into the room with Haven following closely behind him. “You get cleaned up, Wraith. Once we get the information, we will have to move quickly,” he added while regarding Wraith’s bloodied and tattered clothes. The truth behind Myth’s command did not escape anyone in the room. If Wraith employed his methods of interrogation on a man in Jeremy’s weakened state, there was little likelihood that he would survive. While stealing a man’s memories telepathically was just as illegal, under the circumstances it was the lesser of the two evils.
Wraith nodded to his brother and stepped out of the spare room where Jeremy was laying, through the day room where the rest of the Dogs of War were waiting and headed towards the master bedroom where Myth had just finished cleaning up. He felt the collective eyes of Anarchy, Octive, and Desimus burning into the back of his head as he passed through the day room, but paid them no mind. Entering the master bedroom he noticed that a change of clothes had been left for him. A pair of black jeans and tank top lay on the bed next to a pair of black boots.
Haven thinks of everything, don’t she. Well, I guess Myth wouldn’t see so much in her if she didn’t.
The stout young mutant cleaned away the traces of his recent battle with military efficiency and in matter of minutes emerged from the room in his fresh pair of clothes. Again, the eyes of his teammates were there to meet him. Desimus was no longer standing in the corner of the room though. The mountain of a mutant had moved to block Wraith’s path out of the living room. His huge, dark arms crossed his burly chest and his face bore an expression of stern resolve. Wraith walked to within mere inches of Desimus’ imposing figure and stood there glaring a hole through his thick chest, waiting. For a long moment not a word was said and the tension grew to a stifling thickness.
“She is our friend too. We will do anything for her,” Desimus finally spoke, his deep voice coated in a thick African accent.
“Anything?” Wraith questioned. The slighter man looked up at Desimus’ grim face, which towered over him. “For her, I would do things that wouldn’t occur to you in your worst nightmares.”
Octive cringed slightly in his chair at Wraith’s words. Anarchy cocked an eyebrow in surprise, but Desimus and Wraith just stood facing off against each other, neither willing to back away from making their point or their stand.
The tension in the room was suddenly cut by Octive’s phone ringing. The young aspiring musician jumped so bad he nearly fell out of his seat at the unexpected interruption. Snatching the device from his pocket he pressed it to his ear.
“H-hello,” he stammered before gathering his composure. “Hello?” he said again after a brief pause before shaking his head in confusion and hanging up. “Second time today,” he muttered to himself and slid the phone back in his pocket.
Wraith’s eyes and mind drifted absently toward the young mutant and then slowly back up to Desimus, who was also looking over at Octive. The large mutant stepped out of the way after a brief pause and allowed Wraith to pass quickly into the next room.
“The mind probe worked. We have a location,” Myth spoke quietly when he saw Wraith enter.
“We gotta move quick then. Someone is onto us,” Wraith replied, his voice low and predatory.
* * *
Brian Sutter ignored Octive’s voice on the other end of the line and waited patiently for him to end the call. A nervous grin spread across his face when he hung up the receiver to the payphone he was using. Brian stepped out of the booth and tried to look casual, hiding his anxiousness behind a calm face.
After a few seconds, which seemed like hours to the pensive reporter, a familiar chime sounded from his cell phone. Before the first ring was even complete he had it open and pressed to his ear.
“Yes?” He tried to speak casually, but his voice cracked slightly and he had to clear his throat.
“335 Titan Street. East corner of the building.” The distinctly feminine voice with a thick New York accent spoke simply.
“I owe you one doll,” Brian replied with a wide grin.
“Actually, that makes two,” the woman chided and they both hung up.
Brian was in a dead sprint before he even had his phone in his pocket. Titan Street was only two blocks away but if his instincts were right, he did not have much time.
It had all started with a hunch, a faint one at that. A slow news day had blossomed with possibility when two Heroes turned musicians had to suddenly cancel a major show on short notice. That in and of itself was not all that unusual or promising, but since every other reporter in the city was stumbling over each other trying to cover the mass murders that occurred the night before, Brian was desperate for an angle.
Using one of his sources that worked as a Police dispatcher, he had traced Octive through his cell phone to a highway on the North side of Talos Island. He made it there moments before the Emergency Response showed up, but to his surprise Octive and his team had already left the scene.
Quick thinking and bit of good fortune landed Brian on the inside of the Police wire once the scene was secure. Using the alias of a forensic sketch artist and with a friend in the Police force to vouch for him, Brian was able to interview one of the victims of the worst direct assault on a member of the Hero community in over eight months. The pictures he had taken of that bloody place would have to be aired with a parental advisory, but in this city that was commonplace.
After milking his disguise for as long as it seemed safe to do so, Brian had left the scene, and finding the first payphone, tried to pick up Octive’s trail. Good fortune once again placed the team only a short run from where he had placed the call.
Brian’s mind had begun to race in order to keep up with his feet. If he could catch up with these Heroes as they apprehended the people responsible for the assault on the prison truck then it would break the biggest story in the city. Not to mention the fact that it would get him off his editor’s shit list after that piece he had snuck in to last weeks gossip column about the Mayor’s daugh-.
Let’s not go there, Brian. Stay focused. Get the story.
The middle-aged reporter rounded the corner of Titan and Third Street and paused at the intersection just long enough to ensure no cars were coming before readying himself to sprint across the road to the apartment building marked 335 on the other side. He was stopped cold in his tracks when he saw the front door to the apartment buildings open and Octive walk out casually with a massive dark skinned man directly behind him.
Brian quickly snatched a notebook out of his pocket and held it up to his face to try and look inconspicuous while watching the pair make their way in his direction. Octive spoke something to the larger man who promptly turned down an alley and disappeared from sight.
His mind racing with questions and possibilities, Brian could not help but stare at the young mutant in curiosity. Why would he be leaving the area once again? Had they tried to follow the perpetrators of the assault to this building but lost them? But that made no sense. A well-organized group of Heroes didn’t just lose track of a bunch of violent thugs. What other possibilities could there…
A sickening nervousness sunk into Brian’s stomach when the only other possibility settled in his mind.
They are in on it.
He shook his head, part of him trying to refute the chance that it could be true. But when he followed the clues, they led back to the same conclusion again. They arrived at the scene of a major crime and left before anyone else could arrive, abandoning the victims without even checking on their well-being. If they had been in hot pursuit of the suspects then it would make sense, but instead he found them casually, and yet suspiciously, moving around as if nothing had happened.
Over the top of his notebook, Brian saw Octive glance around himself and down the street. He had scene the young man perform on stage many times, and the reporter knew when the musician was putting on a show.
They are in on it… I know it.
Octive crossed the street a block past where Brian was standing and turned south. Brian knew instantly knew he was heading for the tram. Satisfied that he was far enough behind him so as not to be seen, he began to follow the mutant while reaching for his phone.
“Onami Strike Force,” he spoke to the directorate. The phone rang twice before a firm, calm, female voice answered.
“I have some information in regards to the assault that took place on the prison truck in Talos,” Brian spoke with a slight southern accent to mask his voice.
“What would you like report?” the voice asked evenly.
“You should check out 335 Titan Street. I think you will find the man that was freed from the prison convoy there,” Brian stated and quickly hung up.
* * *
“Here you go, sir,” a slender brunette with thick rimmed glasses and a trim grey suite said, waving to a computer terminal and the chair that sat in front of it. “You will be able to access all known Villain and Hero aliases from this terminal. The actual names and personal information is classified, of course, but if you find something of interest I will be happy to submit an inquiry for you.”
“I greatly appreciate it,” PhoenixHawk said, taking the seat.
“It is no trouble, sir. Our department was directed to give you our full support. If you need anything just press the call button beside the computer,” the receptionist said before leaving him to his work.
Taking a seat, PhoenixHawk brought up the search menu on the computer screen and typed in the word ‘Wraith’. He knew it was a long shot, but his options were limited at the moment and he had no other leads to go off of. The computer paused for half a minute then changed screens to show a listing of eighty-three names.
“This might take a while,” PhoenixHawk said, running his hands through his hair. He changed the search to only include Villains and after another brief pause the number dropped to fifty-two. Again he changed the search to check for only villains that were not in correctional custody and the list dropped to eighteen.
“Now we are getting somewhere,” PhoenixHawk muttered to himself and began to scan the list of names. Most of them were listed as currently operating in the Rogue Isles. Only four of them had any history in Paragon at all.
Wraith Born, Low Wraith, Crimson Wraith, and Wraithwall. PhoenixHawk read the names to himself. He paused a long moment, frowning slightly and pondering them. Then he backed out of his search and, typing in the word Wraith, chose to search the Hero listing instead. Limiting his search to Heroes who were still active and operating within Paragon, PhoenixHawk was able to dwindle the number of names down to twelve. At the top of the list was the name “Wraith”.
A spark of excitement spurred inside of the Hero and he hit the button to call the receptionist over. It was still a long shot that this person might have anything to do with the events that took place earlier that afternoon, but it was the first glimmer of hope the burdened Hero had received since he had taken on this task.
“Yes, sir, how may I help you?” the receptionist asked upon approaching his desk.
“I would like to speak with this Hero. Could you retrieve his contact information?” PhoenixHawk asked rising up out of the seat and making way for the professionally dressed brunette.
“Certainly, sir,” she said taking the seat and pulling out an I.D card, which she slid across a scanner that was attached to the computer. She quickly typed in a password and the screen changed to show the data listed on the Hero.
“That’s odd,” the receptionist said frowning deeply and typing in another command. The screen rebooted and the same information returned.
“What’s wrong?” PhoenixHawk asked, leaning in to read the screen for himself.
His own eyes affirmed the words that the receptionist spoke, “All of his personal data is gone. There is nothing here but blank listings, not even a photo.”
“Are the records incomplete?” PhoenixHawk asked, a note of frustration slipping into his tone.
“It appears to be, but they would never have even been submitted like this. This information is required for a Hero to register and it is mandatory that it be updated regularly,” the receptionist said, rising up out of her seat. With a quick press of a key the computer screen shut down. “I am sorry, sir. I need to speak to my supervisor about this.”
“Of course,” PhoenixHawk replied, stepping to the side to let her pass. After she had left he let out a long sigh.
So much for a shallow lead.
He did not have long to spend in his disappointment before his phone rang. Pulling it out he took a brief second to check and see that it was Thauma Guard calling him.
“What’s up?” he asked trying to sound upbeat but failing miserably.
“Do you love me?” the familiar voice cooed on the other end of the line.
“Of course,” Aaron replied with a faint chuckle.
“Would you love me more if I said I have a lead?” she persisted.
“If it were possible, yes,” he said, his lips broadening into a grin.
“Good answer. I’ve got the team together. Meet us at 335 Titan Street in Talos.”
“I’m on my way.”