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Re-Birth of a
The Old Man collected the items for his nightly ritual. His tea. His newspaper. His remote that operated the special ultra-violet lights that kept his former experiments at bay. The time was close at hand. One of his creations had achieved the fame he had long craved for himself. It was time to kill it so the world could see him for the genius he was.
The Biker had grown in power since his time in the lab. His powers were slow in coming, but with time came mastery. Whatever the doctor had done to him had made him strong and resilient. It gave him the ability to shroud himself in flame. It gave him the ability lash out at those around him with clouds of some kind of darkness. It gave him the ability to do as he damn well pleased.
For the Old Man, time was growing short. He had to act soon or risk losing his chance at fame. He had waited long enough. The name The Biker had chosen for himself was well known to the police and the general public. Even on the Rogue Isles, the letters GBH were synonymous with pain and misery.
He pulled the covers up to his chin and turned on the UV security lights on the grounds. His creations were all engineered in such a way that none could get past them. He would sleep soundly before starting the process of bringing down the big man the following morning. This night, he would dream again of the recognition that awaited him.
Grievous Bodily Harm, as The Biker had been known since his transformation, walked into a small dive on the wharf in St. Martial. It wasn’t the sort of place a man might go for company, but companionship was cheap and readily available; especially for a man that had just cleaned out a bank in Paragon City.
The beer was cheap and flat, only one of which was an attribute shared by the girl at the end of the bar. He downed one before approaching the other.
“You know me?” he asked.
“Not yet, but I’m willing.”
That night, the Biker didn’t dream. That takes sleep.
The Old Man awoke, fresh from his dreams, and shuffled off for a light breakfast of toast and jam.
His morning tea was a bit too strong for his tastes, but only slightly. He drank it anyway. Such were the sacrifices one must make to save the world through science.
After breakfast he moved to the robotics lab. There was much to be done. The drone was complete and the UV spotlights passed all of the checks. This would be the day it would be unleashed. All that would remain to be done would be to lure the Biker into a very public location and use the drone to destroy him. For this, he would have to consult the background information provided by his contact in the Malta Group. He opened the folder and began to read.
“How’d you lose the eye?” asked the girl.
“Asked someone with one arm how he lost the other.”
“Whoa there stud, just making small talk. You didn’t really strike me as the shy type after what happened on the fire escape. Tell you what. You tell me something about that eye, and I’ll give you one more for free.”
“Not sure you’re worth it. Besides, if I wanted a free one, I’d just take it.”
“You’re a pig, you know that!”
“I been called worse, but I’ll tell you what. I admire people that put up a fight. You give me a good fight, I’ll tell you the truth.”
“There’s no way I could fight you. You’ll kill me.”
“You don’t have to win for it to be a good fight. It don’t even have to be physical. You hit me with your best insult. String ‘em together. I’ll shoot something back, and we’ll see where it goes.”
“What happens if I get you good and you get pissed and slap me around?”
“Then they’ll have to charge a little less for this room ‘til the smell fades and your friends will spend the weekend putting up posters that say ‘Have you seen this woman?’ all over town. But I won’t hit you unless you hit first. I give you my word of honor.”
She failed to stifle a belly laugh. “Honor? Seriously? You?”
He sat up a little in the bed, letting the sheet fall into his lap. “Just because I take what I want from whoever has it doesn’t mean I don’t have a personal code I live by. If I hit you, you damn well better hit me back if you want to live. I don’t like weakness and I don’t like cowards. I’ve never killed anyone that didn’t do something to deserve it. Now, maybe they wouldn’t have agreed that what they did was deserving, but I’m not the kind of guy that just walks down a street and punches old women in the face for kicks. You want me to start? I’ll go easy on you. But you better fight back. Ready?”
Fear showed in her eyes as her mind raced to find a way out of the situation she’d gotten herself into.
“You’re scared. That’s a bad sign. You want to play a game, you make damn sure you know the rules. You’re gonna be on the street in 30 seconds. It’s gonna take you 20 to get there by the stairs, or 4 by the window. If you’re still in the room when I reach 10, you fly.”
“You’re crazy! You know that? You crazy son of a bitch!” She was frantically gathering her clothes and running for the door.
She reached knob when he reached 8. He sat back and smiled. She wasn’t worth his time. Not as a whore, or a victim. Not anymore. Things had changed. What used to be diversion was now a waste of time. What used to be an insurmountable challenge was now good way to kill an afternoon. He had the respect of Ghost Widow and Lord Recluse. He never did get tired of flabby, naked, hooker butt hustling out a seedy hotel door though.
The Old Man turned the page of the report. The man he knew only as The Biker had once been a normal person. He’d been in trouble with the law, and joined a few gangs, but then tried to turn his life around. At 18 he joined the Marines. He was given a dishonorable discharge for assaulting a fellow recruit and having an attitude that was deemed “uncorrectable”.
From there, he joined the Sky Raiders and headed off to Africa. Results were similar. They had no stomach for the type of violence that suited him.
Back in the States, he was 21 and out of options. He turned to the Skulls. They were always in the market for some muscle.
In 2002, the Ritki invaded. This was the type of fight he’d been waiting for. He stood shoulder to shoulder with the heroes of Paragon on that first day. His reward was a scar that ran the length of his face and an eye patch. He didn’t mind the scar, but that eye was one of his favorites. They might have saved it if the hospital would have treated him rather than stuffing him off in a corner while they worked on the heroes he was fighting beside.
Driven by anger, he became the biker the entire East Coast grew to fear on some level. That was the only part of his past the Old Man knew. It was the only part that mattered.
The Biker had been caught the first time by a staged bar fight and a large electro-magnet that pulled hard enough on the chains he wore around his forearms to pin him to the ground. That probably wouldn’t work a second time. Besides, capture would not be the goal. All he had to do was arrange for a time and place to be waiting for the Biker to arrive.
The Biker finished getting dressed. The last step to this was wrapping the chains around his arms. As the last link was tucked into place, there was a loud pounding on the door. The bolt being racked back on a Tommy Gun gave serious doubts that this was room service with a complimentary bottle of Wild Turkey.
“Just a minute,” he called out as the right chain uncoiled to dangle just above the floor. “I just got out of the shower.”
The left chain hit the floor the same time as the right half of the door. Mooks. Always a dramatic entrance with them.
“You the guy that threatened to toss one-a my girls out the window? Ah?”
“I might have said something along those lines.”
“Don’t know body t’row nobody out no window but me!”
“You got it trademarked or somethin’?”
“Frankie, ventilate that guy.”
The skinny man on the left raised his machine gun and fired. There were two loud pops then a sickening squishing sound followed by about 17 more of the pops. Frankie fell to the floor with a two inch deep dent that ran from just above his left eye to just behind his ear. The chain from The Biker’s right arm fell limp against the floor, a fresh coating of gore fused to the far end of it.
“You got some damn fragile lackeys there, Donnie.”
The big Mook ran into the room and raised both hands high over head to deliver a devastating blow to the Biker. The Biker responded by bursting into flames and drawing the bloody end of the chain into the opposite hand.
The Mook’s blow came down on the Biker’s chest. It was followed by three more solid hits and a cyclone of greenish flame that circled around the Biker, restoring him to peak condition.
The Mook turned to run but was caught around the leg by the left chain. A loop was made with the right chain and passed over the Mook’s neck. Immobile and choking, there was nothing he could to against the barrage of body blows that assailed him.
With each blow the Biker’s adrenaline flowed more freely. The remaining lackey stepped in to try to help his boss, but he folded just after crossing the flaming threshold that surrounded the Biker. The blows kept coming, each one stronger and more intense that the one before, and each one acting on the pleasure center of the Biker’s altered brain. God how he loved this! It was too bad that there were so few people able to put up a decent fight anymore.
The Old Man listened intently to the scanner, hoping for some clue that might indicate where to find the Biker, when the call went out for all citizens of St. Martial to seek cover. Ritki Drop ships were approaching. An invasion was imminent.
The Old Man permitted himself a moment’s levity and gave a slight grin. He was still chastising himself when he arrived at the control station for the capture drone. He punched a few keys and sent it off into the morning sky. Soon it would arrive on the small island of St. Martial and capture the Biker who called himself Grievous Bodily Harm.
The drone was fast and agile. It kept to 100 feet above the water and arrived less than 5 minutes after the invasion had begun. Amid the noise and confusion, it prowled unseen through the streets, looking for the man it was designed to capture or kill.
Its main weapons were UV lights and lasers that were set to the exact wavelength the Old Man had designated in the original experiment. In addition to this, it had a full magazine of darts containing the reverting agent that would counter the effects of the original treatments. In effect the drone had the capability to dissolve his skin until he conceded defeat, then the injection would revert him to normal.
The Old Man would come forward and claim victory over The Biker, explaining to the world that his was his science; his genius, that led to not only the capture and curing of The Biker, but to the possibility that all other supervillains could be cured.
He would be famous. His name would live on forever.
The Biker had reached his happy place. A full endorphin rush fueled by carnage and blood. At his feet were a dozen dead Ritki. Some were burned, some were battered, few were still recognizable as humanoid. He became lost in the moment. The fog of war blinded him to anything he couldn’t reach with one of his fire-blackened chains.
The Ritki fell fast. Even the leaders and elite were beaten down in seconds. Some might have lived, but they’d have never been the same. It wasn’t until the battle frenzy began to lift that the drone was noticed.
It was about the size of a small car and shaped roughly like a flying wing. The leading edges housed the lights, while the top and bottom of each wing contained a small turret. The Biker had not seen this before. It did not belong to the Ritki or Council. In trying to identify it, he was forced to get closer. He had hoped to see something that would tell him if it was a threat.
A clicking sound gave him the answer. His skin began to burn, then split like dried mud. Blood began to leak out through the cracks. The pain was both unbearable and invigorating.
Here was a worthy foe. Everywhere the light could reach, his skin burned with a sensation of intense heat. His face and head took the brunt of it as he closed ground. He raised his arms to protect his face as he charged, but the drone simply hovered up and out of reach.
With no way to bring the fight to the foe, he changed tactics and retreated into a building. Three Ritki followed him in and the drone descended to get a look in side the room.
On his monitor, the Old Man watched his creation stalk the biker. It was too wide to enter the building but it had ways to deal with things like this. The analysis of the building’s structure and components would take little time. The on-board synthesizers could make the proper acid to reduce the building to rubble would take a little longer.
It was still looking through the door when a jet of blood streamed out of the room, propelled by the Ritki’s own terrified heart and pen shoved into an artery on the Conscript’s neck. The blood coated the drone, blocking the lights in the wing and obscuring the view from the camera.
The unexpected horror of this stunned the Old Man. Before he could regain his senses, the Biker had reached the Drone.
Flailing chains, flame, and dark energy infused blows sent it crashing to the ground, but there was no time to pause for celebration.
Somewhere out there was the Ritki that had taken his eye. The only way to be sure he was avenged would be genocide.
The Old Man looked at his monitors. His Drone was gone. Dejected, he switched off the console and closed his eyes. There would be another plan soon enough. Tea would help.
That night as he climbed into bed at the stroke of nine, the security alarm blared to life. Someone had breached the grounds. The UV lights were on and the panic room was nearby should they fail. The Old Man was concerned, but not genuinely afraid. He switched on the video monitor and looked over the house. Motion detectors indicated that no one was present. The cameras showed The Biker standing at the front gate, just beyond the reach of the UV lights. The police could deal with him. Or Longbow. The Old Man would call them both. He reached for the phone and drifted off to sleep.
He awoke to clanking metal that acted like a hammer in his head. Looking around to get his bearings showed him to be on a rooftop in what was probably the Rogue Isles. In front of him was The Biker, chains dangling from each arm and tickling the steel rooftop.
“Hi, Doc. Last time we talked, you made it a point not to listen to me. This time, I get to set the rules. You made me what I am. For that, I guess I should thank you. On the other hand, you sent that thing after me yesterday, and that brought back a whole lot of memories. Now, you’re scared, and I can appreciate that. See. I’m not a sociopath, like you. I know you’re afraid of what I’m going to do to you. You should be. It’s gonna suck. I’ve spent the last three years living under the threat that one day you might pop up and try to take me out like you said you would. Here’s the part where it sucks to be you.
“You made me durable. You made deadly. You gave me the tools I needed to become one of the most feared beings these islands have ever known. What I made, were friends. Friends like that stalker that pulled you out of your house last night. She can do that at will you know. Friends like a necromancer that can summon a small army of the dead to drag you screaming into the street. You’ve made it quite clear that I would never be able to survive re-entering your house. Bad news, Doc. Neither will you. We’re gonna be watching you, and if you even try to get off this island you won’t make it fifteen minutes. You get to live out the rest of your life as an anonymous vagrant in the slums of Mercy Island.”
The Biker turned and walked to the edge of the roof, glancing back at the Old Man for some parting words before leaping from the roof. “Or you could jump to your death. Your call.”