Bad-People’s Fic

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  • #145
    Bad-People
    Bad-People
    Participant

    Here’s a scene I wrote featuring Ether, one of the characters on page one of my heroes and villains page.

    It has a horror feel to it but it’s from a SH universe so I’m posting it here.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    (Scene: Night, The Red-Eye estate. After discovering that the alleged crime-lord Red-Eye may be funneling weapons to known terrorists the city sends the entire SWAT unit to raid his mansion compound. Little do they know, the super-villain agent Ether has also been sent in order to recover a valuable technological artifact.)

    A team of four SWAT police moved down a barren wood paneled hallway trying to slip as quietly as possible into their assigned area of the mansion, the bedroom section of the upstairs. The point man stopped at a particularly dark corner and raised his fist signaling the others to stop while he secured the t-shaped bend. The other three men backed up to the right wall, their black uniforms almost disappearing against the dark mahogany visage of the paneling. The last man in the formation’s stomach churned as an ominous feeling crept up his spine.

    He felt a mild tingling in his chest as a metallic *ping* rang out in the darkened hallway. The shock of discovering the alien hand phasing painlessly through him was unnerving to the point he almost didn’t notice what it wore around its finger, a steel arming pin for a hand lobed fragmentation grenade. The mysterious appendage escaped back through him just as he realized the source of the ping was the safety spoon of the canister grenade he wore on his jacket flying loose!

    The second team had just finished securing the upstairs library when half the mansion rattled in response to the blast.

    The team leader drew his finger in the air around two of his men, he pointed to his eyes and then toward the door. They lifted their rifles and moved swiftly into the hall.

    Both men went as fast as they safely could as they scouted the source of the explosion. The first turned the corner rifle forward and discovered a mess. The wall was stripped showing tattered Kevlar reinforcement inside. Four bodies laid about the floor, though they were hard to count. Three were blown apart, it smelled to him like a slaughterhouse, but on closer inspection he realized the fourth body had only superficial shrapnel wounds. Just a few shallow cuts to his leg and shoulder. His head was twisted at an unnatural angel, hanging down far too low for his neck bones to be intact.

    The scout’s heart tried to escape his chest as fear began to take hold, something weird was happening here. He wagged a finger forward signaling his partner in close, but all he heard was silence. “Vic?” he whispered into the empty darkness. He rounded the corner looking for the other man but found nothing. Something was wrong, very, very wrong!

    Fear carried him back to the library faster than he would have normally gone. Returning through the heavy wooden door to the library he expected to find the other members of his team waiting for his report, instead all he found was the bookshelves and couches he left there minutes earlier. He ripped the balaclava from his face barely able to breath, his entire body trembled with short, violent quakes. Rounding the sofa weapon ready, he nearly tripped over something. At his feet was the body of his team leader clutching his chest with desperate fingers, his dead eyes almost bulging from his head. The last man was in a similar state in the corner beside a bookshelf.

    The scout’s breathing could be heard loud throughout the otherwise silent room, the faint scent of ammonia wafted into the air. He was a tough as nails, highly trained SWAT operative, he’s never known real fear before, but he was as terrified as a child hiding from monsters in the closet. *Creek* He whipped his weapon around frantically looking for the source of the sound but saw nothing. Twice more he spun around in a panic only to see more darkness. With a shaking hand he pulled his NV goggles over his eyes and switched them on. As they warmed up and the picture came into view, the glow of green eyes was the last thing he saw.

    #134067
    Bad-People
    Bad-People
    Participant

    The Man Without a Shadow: Part 1

    This is a short story I’m working on set in my Mutants and Masterminds campaign setting. I plan on using it to introduce my players to a new villain. I only have the first half done so far, I have the broad strokes of the second half but not the details.

    Go easy on me I’m very bad at proof-reading.

    ================================================================================================================================

     

     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;” align=”center”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>It was a the darkest conference room in The Skinner Psychiatric Hospital. The patient said it was his favorite. The doctor entered the silent room, the grey of his beard almost white against the gloom of his surroundings. He sat down at the aluminum table, adjusted his glasses, and straightened his papers. “Hello John” he said.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Hello Dr. Walltrip.” answered the man chained across from him under the broken light. His tone was lightly mocking, making it clear that he was only parroting the ‘expected’ answer.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Walltrip retrieved a thin sheet of card-stock from a manilla folder. “John I want to try something with you,” he said holding the card up where the bound patient could see it. “What do you see here?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>John grinned. “I see a symmetrical but otherwise random blot of black ink on a white card. I also see nine objects in this room I could kill a man with.” he took on a pouting expression. “Is that wrong?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“John I…”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“No, no, no, no, no,” The shady figure interrupted. “I can do better, let me try again. I see… Rorschach’s psycho-diagnostic plates, card number… two.” he held two scarred, burned fingers aloft in a ‘V’ shape.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Well,” Walltrip sighed. “I can see this exercise is a waist of time,” he paused a for a few deep breaths, adjusted his glasses again, and continued. “John just let me ask. Why the mask?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Everybody else was doing it.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“My mother always had a saying when I tried to give that excuse. She said ‘If everybody else jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?’”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Doc,” the patient frowned. “I’m offended that in your mother’s scenario I’m not the first one off that bridge.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; border-top: none; border-bottom: 1px solid #000000; border-left: none; border-right: none; line-height: 100%; padding: 0in 0in 0.03in 0in;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Snow drifted steadily onto the pavement of Fortress City. Under the yellow light of a streetlamp in Brick-Row three men stood against the cold of the night. “I don’t know about this Tommy,” said one. “I don’t mind ski-masks and stuff but these costumed weirdos freak me out.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Yeah well,” Tommy answered. “The Boss is paranoid about the Scarlet Mantle. Fighting fire with fire or something like that. This guy does good work. I hear he ran Bennelli and Salucci out of town.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“I’m with Joey,” the third man spoke. “This ‘Red Hand’ guy is a creep.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Look,” Said Tommy. “It’s gonna be MAYBE five minutes okay. He shows up, we get the thing, and we leave.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“It won’t even take that long,” a voice emerged from the shadows as a figure broke the perimeter of the lamplight. He wore a three-piece black suit and a dark hood tight around his head, giving him the look of a featureless black egg. His most striking feature, however, was a pair of bright red leather gloves. “Now give me my money.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Not so fast,” Tommy responded nervously. “The Boss needs the item first.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The Red Hand tossed a small silver locket into the snow and Tommy retrieved it, marking the presence of dried blood still there. Inside were photos of the wife and young daughter of Jimmy O’Mallory, a racketeering rival of Sidney “The Fox” Folini.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“He didn’t part with it easily.” said the Hand</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“The Boss knew he wouldn’t,” Tommy answered. “I have to bring this in though.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“You know where he is? Just call him.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“The Fox has gotten a little paranoid lately, won’t use a phone. He says they can trace ’em. Don’t worry. Just be here tomorrow and I’ll have you’re money. I wouldn’t double cross a guy like you.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Make sure you don’t.” The Red Hand said as he melded back into the shadows.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“That guy scares me.” commented Joey.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; border-top: none; border-bottom: 1px solid #000000; border-left: none; border-right: none; line-height: 100%; padding: 0in 0in 0.03in 0in;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Tommy dropped off the others and headed to Folini’s newest office building. The Fox figured no one would look for him there since the top few floors were still under construction, a fact he only trusted Tommy with.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Knock, knock boss.” Said Tommy as he entered the office. The Fox looked terrible. He had not been sleeping so he had bags under his eyes and his round head was even balder than usual. He sat there in his pajamas and had not left this office since he had gotten a tip that The Scarlet Mantle was looking for him. “I got that thing you wanted. That’s a scary guy you got but he gets the job done.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Good, good,” Folini said, fatigue in his voice. “The money’s in the safe. When you meet him tell him to focus solely on The Mantle from now on.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“You think that will work Boss. You already have half the crew on it and I know The Hand is a tough guy but even AJ the Bullet ended up falling off a roof when he tried to mess with The Mantle.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Oh I think I can handle it.” came a voice from the door. In walked the same figure Tommy had met earlier that night, only now wearing white where before he wore black.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“How did you get here?!” Folini demanded drawing a .357 revolver from his desk and leveling it at the Red Hand as Tommy circled behind the desk.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Well,” the Hand said. “If I was me, and I’m not saying I am, I might hide a tracking device on that little trinket.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The Fox looked stunned and smashed the locket Tommy had given him between his desk and the butt of his gun. Inside he found a tiny circuit-board. “Damn it,” He raised his gun again with more purpose. “Why shouldn’t I kill you right now!?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Draw!” The Hand suddenly lifted up a black ‘T’ shaped object in one hand and a metal cylinder in the other.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Wha!?” Folini drew back his hammer as his face burned red. “What the hell is that?!”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Wha? It’s a squeegee, what kind of question is that? Oh,” The Hand nodded in recognition. “You mean this. This… is a remote trigger for a servo operated quick-release cable latch.” He clicked the button on the top of the cylinder.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The Fox’s expression changed from enraged to confused. “What the hell was tha…?” A rain of glass showered the room as the window immediately behind the gangster exploded inward. At the same time a shot rang out ripping into the very top of the Red Hand’s shoulder.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Ow.” he said approaching the desk. There was blood and glass everywhere the two men were pinned between the heavy desk and a window washers scaffold that had burst through the window. Folini was bleeding from every orifice and desperately trying to handle his gun, Tommy was already dead.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Y-you haven’t killed me yet you bastard…” The mobster gurgled.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“I know,” the masked man said as he sat on the desk and placed the squeegee into the receptacle on the scaffold where he had gotten it from. “But I have a plan for that.” He wrapped the window washer safety harness tightly around Folini’s neck and walked back toward the door. Without looking the Hand clicked the trigger again. The remaining cable fell way and the platform dropped with it twenty-six stories down, dragging the dying man along.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; border-top: none; border-bottom: 1px solid #000000; border-left: none; border-right: none; line-height: 100%; padding: 0in 0in 0.03in 0in;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”><span style=”background: transparent;”>A red hooded figure drifted in like the snowflakes that surrounded him out of the black night. The Scarlet Mantle glided to his feet landing on the uncompleted floor that currently served as the roof of the building. His keen eye quickly noticed the unusual configuration of the two construction cranes that were assembled there. They were both stretched out over the same edge and cables dangled from each in the wind. With cat like grace and alacrity he scaled the crane with the shorter cable and examined the heavy metallic devi</span><span style=”background: transparent;”>c</span><span style=”background: transparent;”>e at the end. It was some kind of servo operated latch, currently in the open position. He could already see the broken window of the Fox’s office and the carnage on the sidewalk below.</span></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”><span style=”background: transparent;”> He then leapt out and grabbed the longer line, abseiling down head first. When he reached the level of the broken window he halted his descent. He reached to the back of his belt and took out his bow, the servos extending it to its full length almost instantly. He nocked an arrow in the second position which let him throw a line to the opposite office wall, winching himself in. </span></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”><span style=”background: transparent;”> The scene was grisly. He move immediately to Tommy’s body, checking his pulse. Tommy only ever played at being a gangster, he was a gofer not a wise guy, he didn’t deserve this. Folini probably did, but this wasn’t something the Mantle would have resorted to, he wanted to bring the Fox in clean. “Who did this?”</span></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”><span style=”background: transparent;”> The Mantle took Folini’s revolver and opened it, one round had been used. He scanned the room noting certain things and eventually finding the bullet hole near the door. He took his multi-tool and pried out a small bullet fragment, careful to leave most of it for the police. There was a tiny amount of blood but no spatter, “Just a graze.” He could hear the sirens now, the police were close, he had to go. The Mantle retrieved his arrow and fired another line across the street and swung out into the darkness.</span></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; border-top: none; border-bottom: 1.05pt double #000000; border-left: none; border-right: none; line-height: 100%; padding: 0in 0in 0.03in 0in;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The Morning was clear and warm for this time of year. Within Fortress City Security & Loan the mood was fair and business was just getting underway. In the warm morning air the door security guard, a pudgy man deep into his sixth decade, was finding it hard to keep his eyes open. A knock on the glass front window caught his attention. Outside he saw two men in paint spattered jumpsuits standing beside trollies filled with paint buckets and tools. “Hey,” said the one closest to the window; his thick New England accent muffled by the glass. “The paint crew is here. We need to check in or something?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Paint crew?” the guardsman questioned incredulously. “I didn’t hear nothing about no paint crew?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>He then felt cold metal pressed to the back of his head accompanied by a metallic ‘Click’. “Well why don’t you just let him in anyway?” said the gunman behind him who had been disguised as a normal bank customer.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The vault guard was younger but equally inattentive. By the time he noticed trouble the fake painters, as well as another man in a Centurions hoodie and the man in the white suit and featureless white mask, were already inside. “Put your hands above your heads!” he demanded as he made the foolish choice of drawing his sidearm. Five to one, he was hopelessly outmatched and was instantly gunned down among a brief cacophony of screams.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Alright,” said the man in white aloofly as he brandished his .45 automatic, plate silver from butt to barrel. “Everybody just pays attention and behaves and this doesn’t have to be wholly unpleasant.” The man was eerily jovial and it was apparent he liked to use his red gloved hands a lot as he spoke, as if making an effort to make up for his hidden facial expression. He strolled over to the teller window as the other men opened the paint buckets and hidden compartments on the trollies to retrieve empty duffel bags, more guns, and a large number of hand grenades. The man in white leaned against the counter and rapped his knuckles on the window. The mousy, brown haired teller nervously stood up into view. “Hello Darlin’,” the masked man said, his smile vaguely visible even through the cloth concealing his face. “What’s your name?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“C-c-caydi,.” she nervously answered.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Okay Caydi. I need you to do me a favor. Okay?” She nodded to him silently. “Great. I want you to reach under the counter there and press that little silent alarm button.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“What!?” said the man in the Centurions jacked storming over. “What are you stupid? I thought you had this whole thing…” he was cut short as the man in white casually placed his pistol under the complaining man’s chin and blasted his brains out through the back of his head.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Don’t worry about him,” The man in white said to Caydi. He placed the edge of his hand to his cheek as if whispering a secret. “He wasn’t really in on the plan. Well? Go ahead.” Caydi slowly sunk her shaking hand beneath the counter and pressed the silent alarm button. “Atta-girl.” The masked man said. “I can tell you’re going to be my favorite.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Seven duffel bags had been packed with hundred dollar bills by the time the police had surrounded the building. A walkie-talkie had been left on the bank doorstep and a half naked hostage was sent to retrieve it at gunpoint. One of the fake painters took the walkie-talkie and the man in white snapped and then curled his fingers at him. The thug tossed the device to him. It was a fairly advanced open channel model that didn’t require playing tag on the button. He switched the device on and spoke “Moshi Moshi.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“This is Sergeant Robert Perry…” the voice came over the speaker.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Dan Getti.” The man in white interrupted.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“What?” the negotiator questioned.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“You know, Sergeant Dan Getti. He’s a crisis negotiator, he’s been in the papers a few times, he works this precinct. Real hero cop. Don’t tell me I don’t warrant your best.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Well he’s…”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“He’s not on suspension, he’s not on vacation, he’s not out of town. He’s who I’m going to be talking to. Don’t call back until you’re him.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“What’s the word?” the remaining plain clothes robber asked.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“It’s all copacetic fellas. Wire the hostages while we wait.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>It was another 45 minutes before the transceiver blinked again. “Jay’s Pizza.” the man in white answered.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“This is Officer Dan Getti.” the voice responded.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Danny Boy!” The masked man exclaimed. “How ya been man? Still keepin’ up with the Defenders? Their center fielder’s been pretty weak this year if you ask me.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“I need you to give me a stock of the situation,” Getti said professionally. “How many hostages do you have? And I understand shots have already been fired.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Weeell… I have eleven hostages, a very heroic security guard in need of a hero’s funeral, and a very dead bank robber that you can throw in the Sinclair (River) for all I care. Oh, and I also have a daiy-chain on a dead man’s switch, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum. Well, fifteen daisy-chains really. That’s 60 M67s worth of steel encased boom, 24 pounds of pure explosive power, so let’s not make the mistake of thinking for ourselves now. Savvy?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Savvy.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“That’s a good man Danny Boy. You keep this up and you’ll get another commendation. Now I know you want your hostages and I’m going to give them to you. I just need one thing from you. You hear about that ambulance that was stolen from a hospital parking lot a few nights back?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Yeah I think I heard something about that.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Good. You’re gonna find that in an alley a couple blocks east from here, the keys are under the floor mat. I want that here in 10 minutes, out front where I can see it, and unmolested. I get that and you get ten of your hostages. We get in and then release the last hostage when we get where we’re going. That sound groovy? Keep in mind if it isn’t you’ll be mopping us all up with a sponge by nightfall.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“That’s groovy.” Getti grumbled.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The man in white switched off the walkie-talkie. “Oh Danny Boy, the pipes the pipes are calling, from glen to glen and down the mountain side… It’s halloween time fellas.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; border-top: none; border-bottom: 1px solid #000000; border-left: none; border-right: none; line-height: 100%; padding: 0in 0in 0.03in 0in;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Damn!” Getti cursed.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“What do you think?” the SWAT commander next to him asked.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“When I heard this guy asked for a new negotiator I thought he’d just seen too many heist movies. But he’s a very disturbing combination of twisted and smart. He’s set up his own getaway vehicle, making us deliver it, and not giving us enough time to do anything with it. This wasn’t a botched robbery. He wanted us here, and that scares the shit out of me.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“You think he’s on the level with the deadman’s switch?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Maybe, but I can risk it, and I believe this guy WILL kill all those hostages if we don’t do this to the letter. Make sure nobody shoots him. …I don’t like how he calls me ‘Danny Boy’.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Ten minutes later the ambulance pulled up in front of the bank and the police officer driving it stepped out. “What’s the move?” the SWAT officer asked.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“I don’t have one,” Getti explained. “He’s not letting me have any. He’s not letting me talk and he’s making this quick so I can’t wear him down. He knows exactly how to take the negotiator out of the picture. I don’t know what to do. Let them come out and have the chopper and a couple of unmarked cars follow them at a distance.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Want me to call in some from vice?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Fuck no, he’s not going to give us time. Commandeer something nearby.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Right, I just got word from Bomb Disposal. They gave us an ETA of 5 minutes.”
    </p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>A lot of movement could be seen at the bank entrance. “I don’t think they’re going to make it.” Getti said.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Out through the door poured 15 figures, all dressed in identical white suits and identical featureless white masks. Some carried guns, some carried duffel bags, one held an electronic devices in one hand and a walkie-talkie in the other. All wore a vest with an electronic receiver wired to four hand grenades each. Most were plainly anxious.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Everybody hold your fire, stay calm!” Getti shouted. He pulled the SWAT chief close and whispered. “Forget the unmarked cars, use black and whites, just make sure they stay back.” The SWAT leader nodded and jogged off to it.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The back of the ambulance was opened and the duffel bags thrown in, five of the figures climbed inside, one clearly under duress, and the doors closed behind them. A moment later the vehicle left.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Police immediately moved in to take control of the hostages. “Follow them but keep a distance,” Getti called out. “They may still have a hostage.” The ambulance had hardly reached the end of the block when Getti received a call on his transceiver.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Danny Boy,” said the familiar voice on the other end. “It was a pleasure working with you,” Getti listened gritting through his teeth. “We should do it again some time… Oh, of course what was I thinking? I almost completely for got to tell you something.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Yeah?” Getti growled, clearly losing his patience.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Yeah, it’s about that dead man’s switch. You see, it has a really short range.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Getti felt his heart skip a beat. “Get them off!” he screamed charging toward the crowd of hostages. “Get the bombs off no…” A tremendous explosion shook the city, glass rained down from broken windows followed shortly by dust and a fine red mist.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; border-top: none; border-bottom: 1px solid #000000; border-left: none; border-right: none; line-height: 100%; padding: 0in 0in 0.03in 0in;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“The summer’s gone and all the flowers fallen. ‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.” The man in white sang inside the back of the ambulance as he opened the back door and tossed out the walkie-talkie. All but the original man in white and the small sobbing figure in the corner had already removed their masks and were in the process of removing their explosive vests. “Head for the tunnel.” the man in white called to the driver. He reached over and pulled the mask from the small, crying, brown haired girl. “Caydi, Caydi… It’s alright sweetie. You’ll be rid of us before you know it. I told you, you’re my favorite.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>Minutes later the tailing police helicopter was thwarted when the ambulance pulled into the south end of the Aurora Tunnel. They pulled up next to a maintenance tunnel entrance and turned off the siren. Each man carried his explosive vest and, save for the masked man, two duffel bags. He carried one and still held the deadman’s switch in the other. Caydi was also pulled along. Just inside the maintenance tunnel they stopped and the masked man addressed the girl. “Well Caydi this is where we say goodbye. You were the best hostage I’ve ever had. I mean that.” each man passed his vest to the girl weighing her small frame down with the sixteen additional grenades. “You just wait right here, the police will be by any minute and you just give those to them. Wait right here now.” And the men all headed down the tunnel with their stolen money in hand.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“That’s right you know?” said the robber who had been dressed in plain clothes. “The cops will be right behind us. What’s to keep them from chasing us down these tunnels?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Did you ever go trick or treating as a kid?” the masked man inquired as they continued to march down the corridor. “I did. I loved it. And when I’d get home with my candy I’d pour it all out and sort through it. In one pile I’d put the cheap stuff, like the raising and the peanuts. In another pile I’d put the chocolate bars and the lollipops. And the last pile was reserved for jellybeans. Jellybeans were my favorite. So then I’d eat all the peanuts and raisins, and when I was done with them I’d start on the chocolate bars and lollipops. Then, in a couple of days, when I was done with those I’d eat the jellybeans.” He finally dropped the transmitter from his hand as he spoke. Moments later an earsplitting boom rocked the tunnel and a plume of smoke and dust bellowed up behind them. Through the ringing in their ears the robbers could barely hear the masked man continue. “I always saved my favorite for last.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; border-top: none; border-bottom: 1.00pt double #000000; border-left: none; border-right: none; line-height: 100%; padding: 0in 0in 0.03in 0in;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The cold returned with the nightfall. Lieutenant Martin McEhrich stepped out on the roof of Fortress City Police Headquarters for a smoke. He was a stout mustachioed man of fifty, and in the chill his breath was as visible before a drag as after. “You there?” he asked and huffed a warm breath into his hands.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“What do you know about the Security & Loan robbery?” asked the red hooded figure who had appeared behind him, as if by magic.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Thought you’d be asking about that,” said McEhrich pulling a manilla folder from his coat and handing it to the Scarlet Mantle. “Nasty that. Well planed, if a bit eccentric. Well planed, but needlessly brutal. Five men walk in, armed with explosives and a lot of fire power, steal three and a half million, the police surround the place, the bastards kill nearly thirty people, and one of them gets away clean.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“One? The news said only one was killed at the scene.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Yeah, but three more were found dead in the tunnels about an hour and a half ago, two shot, one had his throat cut. That leaves one scumbag uncounted.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“He didn’t want to split up the take.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Maybe, but the one who got away was the only one wearing a mask for the whole of it. We have plenty of security coverage of the others’ faces.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“He knew they’d get caught and didn’t want to get fingered.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“That’s how I see it. The one that skipped comes close to the description of a guy who’s been working as a low level enforce for the last couple of weeks. Rolling small time mobsters. They call him ‘Red Hand’, but until today he was all broken legs and shattered jaws. He graduated to killing in a big way today.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Could be, but I like this guy for the Folini murder last night.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Why?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Don’t know. Something about the method. Remote triggers, misdirection, it fits. Only…”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Only what?”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Folini’s safe was open, must have been sixty-thousand in there.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Well he probably knew he’d get three and a half million today that he wouldn’t have to split.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Still. Sixty-thousand that he could just reach out and take. That could buy a lot of grenades. Folini wasn’t about money.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Not just a robber then. The bullet fragment you gave me barely had enough blood on it for a DNA test. It matched the other fragments but nothing in our files. You made me a believer when you brought in the Hangman, so I trust your instincts. I’m sure you can bring this guy in as well.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Somehow this doesn’t feel the same as the Hangman Killer.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; border-top: none; border-bottom: 1px solid #000000; border-left: none; border-right: none; line-height: 100%; padding: 0in 0in 0.03in 0in;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>The sickening blue-green light of the florescent bulbs flicked in and out in the city morgue. Chief Coroner Clarence Delocha was the last man standing. Twenty-nine deaths in a single bank robbery had made for a very long day. He had already sent the rest of the staff home. It was against the rules technically to process a body alone but everyone was exhausted and there was only one body left on the register today, what was left of Sergeant Dan Getti. He was just about to begin when his cellphone rang. He checked the number and it was his wife calling. “I know it’s late Honey,” he answered. “But I’m almost done here, keep the home fires burning.”</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“I’m pining for you Baby.” Delocha’s heart jumped into his throat at the sound of the unfamiliar man’s voice on the other end of the line.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“Who the hell is this?!” he demanded.</p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”></p>
     
    <p style=”margin-bottom: 0in; line-height: 100%;”>“You’re the coroner right?” The man in white suddenly walked through the door with a cellphone pressed against the side of his head. “I’m the guy who’s going to put your kids through college.”</p>
     

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