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Michael Wallis stepped back and stretched his arms, pausing to survey the damage. Actually, it was a repair job… um, make that an upgrade of the Rogue Isle Protector’s Arachnos Flier. Parts and electronics lay strewn all over the hanger bay. He was already several hours past the schedule down time and the two technicians assigned to help him slept sprawled over the workbench using a toolbox and box of sandpaper for pillows. They had long since given up assisting the new young Protector. The hero, formerly known as Voltech, debated how much of an electrical charge to release from his mutant ability and into the workbench. Too much of a shock and they would become worthless too him. He would be damned if he is going to put this aircraft back together.
Secretly nestled on the Isle of Port Oaks, the building Michael worked in belonged exclusively to the Rogue Isle Protectors. It was their headquarters, gymnasium, dormitory, training facility, and was one of the most secure buildings in Arachnos. Only Arbiter of the Protectors, Arbiter Veran, along with Arbiter Leery and Lord Recluse himself had unrestricted access. Each Protector had their own large office that served as personal quarters, mini-gym, or any other type of room they desired. During assigned patrol duties, it served as a mini base of operations.
When not saving the civilians on the
Isles from the heroes of the
Protectors had broad powers across
the organization thanks to Lord Recluse. They are the uniformed secret police. Technically,
they operated to protect Arachnos and their homeland, the Rogue Isles. They
were allowed to use any means necessary to achieve the security and protection
of the innocent. The free nation of the Rogue Isles was safer now then at any
time in the past. It was common for a veteran Protector to actually work
through covert means and establish themselves secretly in the
Michael again slowly surveyed the pile of parts and electronics scattered about. He was beginning to realize Arachnos did not have a clue on how to put an aircraft together. Granted, he never built one himself, but he saw what he considered many flawed theories and a mix-n-match wiring systems. If he truly wanted to improve the flier, he may have to redesign it all together. Really, the one sprawled out in front of him made no sense.
“Michael?” A voice from behind asked.
“I am really going to have to redesign the whole thing,” Michael responded turning to the source of the question, “Oh, hi Chris.”
Christopher Wentworth stepped beside Michael surveying the chaos. “You know that was scheduled to patrol Grandville soon.”
“Pfft,” Michael responded dismissing the nonsense with a wave of his hand, “It is just poorly designed. It may still fly again.”
“Arbiter Veran wants to speak with us. On the bounce!”
“Really?” Michael asked noting the mocking catch phrase the two noticed when they joined the program. He glanced at the wall clock realizing for the first time it was one in the morning. “It’s the weekend, what’s he even doing here?”
Christopher shrugged, “He wasn’t in uniform and he was pretty ticked off.”
“What’s new,” Michael replied. “Let’s go… On the bounce!”
Both laughed at the phrase and Michael quickly pondered whether he should change into uniform, Chris already was. He would have been if it were not for the fact he was working in the maintenance bay. Reasoning if Arbiter Veran was not in uniform then he would not be either.
The two newest Protectors walked the
dimly lit hallways of their building. Christopher Wentworth and Michael Wallis
had both been former members of the Skulls gang back in
The plan was genius, but Chris
failed to get approval of the true leaders of the Skulls who immediately put a
stop to his renegade venture. Michael had talked to others that were involved
and they said Chris damn near succeeded, handing
Michael himself had joined the
Skulls after losing his family, friends, school, and home during the Rikti War.
There he thought he too had found a home achieving even greater success in the
gang than Chris did.
Arbiter Veran stood behind his desk in what was the largest and plushest offices shuffling through the many stacks of papers scattered about. A ghostly strand of smoke undulated leisurely up from the cigar resting in a dark glass ashtray on his desk. Many found the scent of the stick odd if not unique. It was more citrus and herbal scented, but not flowery. The office reeked of the aroma that even held itself against Veran following him like a lost puppy dog wherever he walked. It was said one could smell the Arbiter coming down the hall before you even heard his footfalls.
Veran was still in civilian clothes, a bit odd because he was hardcore Arachnos and rarely seen outside his uniform, they even had the stench of fabric softener and starch. Michael thought the dark trench coat made the Arbiter look cool. However, he could not help but stare at their boss’s dull silvery faceplate covering half the left side of his face from forehead to lower cheek. Veran had received his injury near the end of the Rikti War and suffered further injuries to his face during the 5th Column’s civil war. The mask covered not only his deep scars, but generally kept his face attached to his head. Seeing the two newest Protectors, he sat down. For some reason between Chris’s skull faceplate and Veran’s, Michael felt the odd man out.
“You sum’a bitches call that on the bounce!” he yelled smoke from his cigar bellowing forth, “Michael, why the hell are you not in uniform.”
Michael snapped to attention along with Chris. Veran was definitely upset about something. “Sorry sir, I was supervising the maintenance of our flier.”
“Well, holy spider’s crap,” Veran boomed. “You didn’t take apart another piece of equipment did ya!”
Michael wondering how exactly a spider would crap swallowed his laughter. “Well sir,” his mind searched for something positive, “the submarine works fine.”
“About as fine as installing a screen door on it, the damn thing leaks!”
“Sorry sir,” Michael gulped. “Nobody informed me that there were micro-fractures in the hull.”
Veran shook his head and looked the pair over. Never had he seen a sorry bunch of recruits. Both were mutants and their DNA contributions to the program were quite valuable, these two seemed destined for other Arachnos experimental programs.
“I’ll be blunt, maggots,” Veran
began picking up his cigar and puffing on it. He chewed on the end letting the
tension build in the room. “There have been some irregularities in your loyalty
Michael let a small sneer slip and
felt his pulse race. He tried to remember the relaxing techniques
“Excuse me sir,” Chris dared to interrupt, “what had Norman done. Everybody praises him for his skills and judgment.”
“Well, I might as well tell you. We
Michael could not help but snicker slightly at that absurdity and wondered who we actually were.
“Yah, laugh it up. You two will share his fate if we do not uncover the evidence and prevent him from violating his oath.”
“Should we notify the other
Protectors?” Chris asked. Typically, the Protectors took care of their own dirty laundry. It was rare for a
Protector to go rogue on Arachnos,
but it happened. Michael and Chris both witnessed two separate incidents with
“Not yet, you two are apprentices of his so the process of discovering the truth falls to you. If he goes rogue you will follow the same fate.”
“I just find it hard to believe.” Michael said and Chris nodded.
“Yeah, you two ex-Skulls would.
Michael tried to enhance his calm
not expecting his past comments to be twisted back at him or worse, against
“Worse,” Veran continued, “he has revealed his true identity to her and others of the…” he glanced down at some report prepared on his desk. “The Onami Strike Force.”
“That’s where I came from,” Michael tried to protest.
“Yes,” Veran agreed, “Don’t think I am not holding that against you. In addition, I have been receiving complaints about him and Protector Claire. Jealousy? No doubt, but you’re aware of the rules and the penalties of fraternization.”
Both new Protectors could only stand
silently during the accusations. Both worried about what happens to him if
“Yes, sir,” Chris and Michael said in unison responding to their new charge of duties.
“Further evidence of his plans of betrayal lie within this report,” Veran said stabbing the paper on the desk with his finger. “You are probably not aware that when your activities take you beyond normal operations and into counter-intelligence all activities are to be reported in a timely matter with full disclosure. Late yesterday he just submitted his involvement in an Out Source Incorporated. I was merely going over his files when I noticed he has been the silent partner for over ten months now. He helped found the organization and failed to report it. I am considering taking action against them as well. Arachnos funds have been misappropriated, although he claims many plots of being uncovered and stopped. I suspect he is at the center of it all. This will not stand. We will stop him and handle his punishment like all others before.”
Michael nodded in unison with Chris,
but only because Veran looked like he was expecting them to agree. He knew
“Back to your duties then,” Veran finally said. “On the bounce! And so help me Michael, if that flier isn’t ready, I’ll make sure your patrols take place in the deepest darkest snake pits I can find. And that’s for starters.”
The newest sworn in Protectors of
the Rogue Isles saluted and left their arbiter’s office. Michael stole a brief,
but informative glance, at the folders on Veran’s desk. Under a slim pair of
night vision goggles, he noted
Michael was not exactly sure what
Chris thought, but found himself torn between his newfound loyalty to Arachnos
and that of his friend. Arachnos gave him a wide berth to do whatever he wanted
as long as the security of the Isles was maintained.