ISSUE #9 (May 2020)
Written by John Cheese
“Is this the location Mr Lydecker?” Mr Lawford asked, his voice slightly muffled by the fox mask he wore.
“This…is where the…wake spotted the…girl.” Lydecker wheezily replied as Hardwick slotted what looked like a fuel cannister on his colleagues back, tubes connecting it up to the respirator he wore. Taking a deep breath Lydecker shuddered before drawing a crane’s bill sickle. “You have a plan for dealing with her Lawford?” He asked in a voice free of the breathing difficulties he normally possessed.
“How do you deal with a vixen who’s ensconced in her earth?” Lawford asked in response to his teammates question.
“Violence.” Hardwick muttered as he slotted shells into a massive shotgun with a cylindrical ammo container attached.
You burn her out.” Lawford answered as he produced a 40mm pistol sized grenade launcher, a red shell socketed into the barrel. “Structural damage to the roof, ground floor and second floor should cause the most damage and evoke the most panic.” Lawford stated as he turned to the others. “Hardwick, breach and clear from access point Theta, we’ll follow. And gentlemen, from here on out its code names only, we don’t need her tracing us back to out civil identities on the off chance she survives.”
“It’s unlikely considering the statistics Shark recorded from his fight with her.” Lydecker stated as Hardwick scaled down the fire escape of the building they were posted on and jumped to the opposite structure.
“That’s the thing with cornered vixens, they fight the hardest.” Lawford replied as he fired the first grenade, the incendiary shell smashing through the window and into the kitchen on the ground floor, before detonating in an orange fireball. “Now let’s burn down the house.”
Aliki slept through the first crash of breaking glass, but the rumble of the explosion going off snapped her awake almost instantly. She had just enough time to get to her feet before a shell smashed through her window and exploded, engulfing the single hanger with her costume hanging off it in a flash. Panicking as the flames encroached she grabbed her mask and slipped it on, the advanced technology showing the spread of the fire.
Turning to leave, Aliki suddenly froze and turned to look into the spreading fire.
“Margot’s locket!” She yelled as she looked at the wall decorated with the pictures of her sisters’ killers and the photo of Charlotte. There, hanging from a combat knife, taken from a particularly knife happy thug she’d fought, embedded in the wall was the silver locket. Skirting the edge of the fire, Aliki began to tug at the knife, only for a warning to flash up on the left lens of her mask.
<Wall Integrity Compromised – Collapse Imminent>
Ignoring the warning Aliki continued to tug at the knife, only to feel the heat of the fire at her bare feet.
Grabbing the photograph, she sprung off the wall, her impact causing it to collapse behind her, and over the flames. Running for the door, the plan was simple, head downstairs to the first floor and spring out one of the windows. Reaching the staircase, she came to a stop as she saw the combat suited figure of the Shark standing on the landing.
“You!?” Aliki snarled with venom. “You burnt down my house!”
“Was Fox.” Shark rumbled as he pumped the shotgun and fired up at her, the fang like flachette rounds slicing through the banister as Aliki leapt down and landed on the invaders head and neck. Bucking and shaking, Shark stumbled down the stairs, slipping on the third stair and plummeting to the floor, his jockey remaining attached all the way down. Groaning both, Aliki and Shark got to their feet, before staring at the shotgun sitting between them. Moving first Aliki reached the gun, only for a weighted length of chain to lash out, wrap round her hands and pull her off course.
“I don’t know who you are but I swear…” Aliki spat as she pulled back on the chain, keeping the line taunt, only for Shark to pull forward sharply, bringing her down onto all fours as two more figures walked into the landing.
“Forgive my colleagues rudeness, his mind isn’t all it was.” Lawford announced as he popped the claws out of his gauntlet and placed them at Aliki’s throat. “I’m Fox and this is Vulture, and you’ve already met Shark. We are known as the Terrible Trio in some circles. Rest assured this isn’t personnel, it’s just good business sense.”
“Is it good sense to come into a burning building?” Aliki asked as a massive piece of burning timber came crashing down. Scattering to opposite ends of the landing, the four combatants all avoided being crushed but were now separated by flames. Shaking herself free of the chain, Aliki took advantage of this and bolted towards what had been a living room, the floor collapsing under the heat of the flames on the floor below.
“Kill her.” Lawford calmly ordered as Lydecker and Hardwick got to their feet and split up, each looking for a way into the room their quarry had fled into.
Scanning the room, Aliki realised that she wasn’t going to have an easy escape, one made more complicated as she saw Fox, surrounded by fire calmly looking into the room. Something about that calmness made Aliki worry, however was behind Fox’s mask had nerves of ice water if he could remain clam in a situation like this.
Those thoughts were immediately put to one side as the floor above crashed open and a shower of burning debris crashed down, followed by the Vulture, his scythe biting into Aliki’s shoulder.
“There is no escape, even should you flee the wake will find you, and I will pick the flesh from your bones.”
Vulture croaked menacingly, as he swung the scythe again, this time giving Aliki enough time to duck under the swipe and push him back a good three foot.
“You know you’re not really a vulture right?” Aliki asked as Vulture ran at her slashing so quickly that the blow missed by inches, the hot blade ripping a cut in the sweat pants Aliki was wearing.
“Intimidation is an integral part of any war.” Vulture hissed as Aliki sprang over him, only for him to hook the scythe through the cuff of her trousers and slam her to the floor, the timber cracking open, leaving the young vigilante dangling over the inferno that had once been a kitchen. “Like now, this frightens you, causing you to make a fatal error.” Vulture continued as Aliki saw her attacked release the handle of the scythe sending her plummeting onto an island, the only raised platform in an ocean of fire and a hurricane of smoke.
Her feet burning and her eyes stinging, Aliki ducked down grabbed the scythe and scanned the wall. Fire damage meant that it may just be possible to break through to the hallway. Taking one last look up, Aliki leapt at the wall, the scythe digging into the timber as she started kicking her way to safety. After the third kick, the wall gave way, and Aliki felt a massive hand reach through and slam her into the opposite wall of the hallway as Shark removed the spiked paddle he’d used earlier. Stunned, all Aliki could do was scream as the paddle cut through the exact same spot that her stiches were.
“It’s time.” Shark muttered, as he raised the paddle ready for a decapitating blow only to recoil as his victim brought the scythe down through his hand, the blade cutting through flesh easily. Knowing her path led her upwards, Aliki bolted, her opponent recovering far more quickly then she would have liked, a shotgun blast calling in the deep as a few flachettes dug into her back. Head down Aliki saw her escape route, an open window and an easy jump even with burns on her feet to the building opposite.
“Leaving so soon?” Fox asked as he stepped in front of the window, blocking the escape route. Behind her Aliki heard Vulture and Shark set up positions, ready to keep her from escaping back the way she had come.
“Yes.” Aliki replied through gritted teeth as she charged Fox, the hitman staying stock still until the last moment, before slamming his gauntlet hand down, just as his attacker was going to slide through his legs, the long claws pinning Aliki down to the burning floor.
“No.” Shark replied as Fox delivered a punch to Aliki with his intact hand, the blow rattling her teeth. Lips peeled back into a predatory snarl; Fox rained another three blows down before a cough sounded.
“Vulture is there something, ah I see.” Fox snapped before looking at his teammate, a rattling wheeze sounding from behind the gasmask. “One killing blow and onto our grander plans for Bludhaven.” He sighed as he released his claws, the action leaving small cuts on Aliki’s leg.
“No punny last words, no hamming it up?” Aliki spat as she began to get to her feet only for Fox to kick her back down.
“No.” Fox replied as he went to plunge his claws into Aliki’s chest, only for an explosion to propel him across the room into Shark and Vulture. Getting to her feet in an instant Aliki ran to the window and leapt onto the adjacent building. Seconds later the Terrible Trio were after her, albeit at a slower pace. The infirm Vulture was supported by Shark, slowing the pair down. Only Fox eschewed the fire escape to take the same route as his prey.
“You know you guys throw quite a housewarming.” Aliki stated as she kept a good building length ahead of her pursuer.
“You and your ally will fall.” Fox announced as he drew the grenade pistol from his holster and fired, the explosion rattling the scaffolding that Aliki was climbing to gain the last little bit of height she needed to make her final escape. Leaping clear, Aliki had one place to go, back towards her pursuer, his prosthetic hand reaching out to grab her, metal fingers pressing against her throat. “And then we’ll start our conquest; Blockbuster, the Police Department, the Countess, all will fall into the ranks of Praedea Industries.”
Coughing and spluttering, Aliki nodded before seeing Fox jerk his head left to the collapsed scaffolding, a woman armed with a multi-shot grenade launcher perched there, weapon aimed on the pair.
“Who?” Fox asked.
“Margot?” Aliki gasped as she recognised the costume. Her older sister had grown her hair long, and looked a little thin, but there was no mistaking the mask she wore, the stance she held. The malice on her face was new however, it almost scared Aliki.
“Hands off my Sister!!” Margot spat as she fired the grenade launcher, an impact grenade striking Fox and cracking the mask, the concussive wave of sound causing him to clutch his head in pain, dropping Aliki to the rooftop. Staggering, slightly effected by the explosion, Aliki ran to where Margot was standing, only to see her sister leap off the collapsed scaffolding to the next building. Desperately Aliki tried to follow, only to fall short by a foot and plummet towards the street below. Only a last-minute catch on the way down saved her. That and the sirens of the approaching police cars and fire engines coming to tackle the blaze.
Wild Horses, Mealtide
“It was my sister, I’m certain of that.” Aliki stated as William began tending to her wounds. “She’s alive and she helped me.”
“You were suffering from smoke inhalation, maybe even a concussion.” Katherine stated as she took a sip from the cup of coffee. “It could have been your sister, but it also could have been something from your own subconscious.”
“I’m not crazy!” Aliki snapped.as she glowered at Katherine.
“No one says you are.” William replied as he closed the first aid kit and placed it on the bar. “I think we need to address the main issue here. A gang war, if it hasn’t already, is about to break out between Blockbuster and Praedea Industries. We know that they are already franchising smaller criminals to sell their weapons, likely narcotics, prostitution and organ transfers as well.”
“Blockbuster will retaliate hard and fast. Blood will run on the streets more freely then it has for a long time.” Katherine sighed as she placed a file down. “This is a copy of everything we know about the Terrible Trio and their respective enterprises.” She added as Aliki picked the file up and flicked through the three pages. “It’s not a lot, but it’s something.”
“I need to find a way to beat these three.” Aliki stated quietly as she looked at the mugshot of Fox, his animal mask staring back at her. “Particularly that one, he’s cool, calm and collected on the surface but underneath he’s seething with a feral rage. And of course, I need to find Margot, Thrilldevil claimed Firebug incinerated her, but now…now I’m certain he’s lying.”
“I’ll put out feelers with the GCPD for any sign of Bridget Pike.” Katherine stated as she checked her watch, before heading for the door. “I’ll pick you up once my shift’s done.” She added as Aliki nodded, before reaching for the locket around her neck, only to find it missing.
“Why did you run sister, and where are you now.”
Courtyard Logistics, Waterloo Dock
Margot Marceau bowed as she entered the room to the Countess, in a mockery of a courtly gesture, one that brought a sneer of satisfaction to her face.
“So?” The Countess, dressed in a business suit, her dark hair tied in a bun asked.
“You were right, my sister did need help.” Margot answered. “Unfortunately, there were no casualties among the Trio.”
“So, it will be a gang war then.” The Countess sighed as she got up from her seat and walked over to where Margot was standing. “Relax, this was likely to happen once Lawford made his groups intentions known. It’s why I recalled you and Guillermo from overseas. Through Blockbuster’s might, we will crush the Trio and any who decide to appose us.” She added as the door to the room opened, and Stallion walked in, his crutch and leg cast slowing him down only a little.
Not turning around Margot keep her eyes straight ahead, looking at his reflection as he came up on the Countesses left hand shoulder.
“Mr Desmond wants a report.” Stallion stated blankly, as Margot reached up and removed a wig of auburn hair and flung it to one side to reveal dark hair pinned back. “I wish you wouldn’t wear that; it isn’t right.”
“It could be.” The Countess stated as she turned around and delivered a kiss on Stallion’s lips only to brutally shoved back. “Fine, to business, I won’t toy with you anymore Clay. Besides, I think I have a whole new way to bring ‘my sister’ to heel.”
City Docks Commercial Park
“Is this all of it?” Lawford asked as he, Lydecker and Hardwick stood on a balcony overlooking the warehouse floor below. “All of them?”
“Yes.” Shark answered bluntly as the ranks of men dressed in black tactical uniforms and bandanas looked up at their employers, all armed with state-of-the-art military hardware.
“These predators…will impress.” Lydecker wheezed as Lawford looked past the ranks of amassed men to the crates of heavy weapons and canisters decorated with skull and crossbones warning stickers.
“They do, now is the time to hunt.” Lawford stated, his voice echoing around the room. “Now is the time to cull the weak and injured of this so called ‘Haven’. Let the rule of the strong begin, and let Dare, the Countess and Blockbuster fall. To a city of predators.”
Unknown Location somewhere in Bludhaven.
“As promised sir.” The green armoured figure of Kiteman stated as he handed over the attaché case to the black gloved hand of his client. “The samples Dolan smuggled out of Gotham.”
“As usual Charles you impress me.” The client stated in a deep booming voice. “You’ve more than earned your reward.” He added as he brought out a blue diamond clear of imperfection.
“Thank you, sir.” Kiteman responded as the figure brought a blue diamond the size of a thumbnail up to his eye before emptying the rest of the stones onto the floor. “Uh Sir are you okay those are…”
“I know, but this is the only one that concerns me, the rest are waste,” The figure stated as he placed the diamond back into the attaché case. “but that one, that one is priceless.”