The Light Fades Away (Retired Superheros)

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by foodforpigs, Jan 14, 2015.

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  1. It had only been half a year since he went to that farewell retirement party. He couldn't even remember the faces of those who shook his hand and share their thin congratulations, going through the motions of an empty ritual. Mr. Wakefield sat up, stretching his aching back, and watched the face of the wind-up clock for about five minutes until the alarm finally went off at exactly 7:00 AM. He stared at it as it shook frantically, slamming down on it only when it threatened to fall on the hardwood floor. It would have been trivial when he was still young to calculate the sunrise time given his current location for any day in a ten year period in either the past or future. Back then, he made it a point to always wake up when the sun rose.

    He shuffled into his slippers in his pajamas and made his way down the short hallway to the adjacent kitchen. If one thing had not changed since becoming a university researcher was that his living space always remained as compact. Whole stacks of written papers, bundled loosely in manila envelopes were strewn about the carpeted floor. On the kitchen table were also a bunch of papers fanned out at his desk, with numbers, greek letters, odd drawings, and indecipherable scribbles. Wakefield sat down and picked one of them up, rubbing his forehead for a moment and sighing again. He was the one that wrote all that was on the table. It was no use.

    It was a special day, after all, Wakefield rationalized, though this was happening more often recently than he cared to remember. He put on some coffee and opened his apartment door to see the university newspaper bundled at his feet. It was dated July 4th, 1974, Independence Day, celebrated now in fond memory of Duke, the undisputed greatest superhero to ever live. He predicted the headline would say as such without looking at it, placing it on the table.

    He stretched and yawned again; not being a physics professor anymore did have the perk of having rush to get out the door, though it served as a constant reminder that he was reaching his late sixties. When sat back down on the chair and read the headline, he heard the distinct sound of his coffee cup sliding across the counter and a crashing as it shattered on the floor.

    Dragon is Dead

    He read it again more carefully. The paper said that it was ruled to be a homicide, stabbed to death with a knife, then burglarized. The rest was about her contribution to helping Duke and the overwhelming tragedy her death incurred. Wakefield could barely think, being hoisted suddenly into surrealism. Age wouldn't affect her that much; her metabolism was through the charts with her super speed and was trained in Shaolin. He refused to believe that a lowlife burglar would have the ability or even the gumption to take her on in a direct fight.

    He shook his head to force himself out of it. He needed to talk his friend right now about this, though his friend had would probably rather just call himself his comrade in times now long past. Picking up the handle for the rotary phone, Wakefield started to dial the number, but stopped midway, cursing under his breath. He called the operator.

    "Senior's hospital, please."
    "Sorry sir, you have to be more specific."
    Wakefield sighed heavily. "List them in alphabetical order with their numbers. Talk slowly so I can get them on paper."
     
    #1 foodforpigs, Jan 14, 2015
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  2. "It's time for your exercise, Mr. Baker."

    The old man opened his eyes to see Clara. He hated Clara. She had this horrible Upper Midwest accent and it was thick. Every word that came out of her mouth felt like it had been fed through an industrial sander to him. He hated her and that constant smile she was being paid to wear.

    "Pushing me around in this chair ain't fuckin' exercise."

    Her smile dried up a little and Mr. Scott Baker took whatever petty victory he could get. He was already known as one of the more mean spirited patients of the hospital, so the woman wasn't surprised, but she wasn't pleased either. Didn't mean she could do anything about it except ignore him and do her job. Clara moved around him and begun to push his chair forward and out into the hallway. He placed his hands on the brown plaid blanket that covered his legs.

    "It's a beautiful day, Mr. Baker, and it's the 4th of July. It's so nice and sunny..."

    Mr. Baker of course, didn't really care. July could spontaneously erupt a 32nd day and he still wouldn't care. He stared straight ahead while he passed other seniors being helped around by orderlies. Besides the odd potted plant, there wasn't much to see in senior veteran's hospitals. Just the same bullshit orderlies wearing their bullshit smiles while they pushed him around in these bullshit wheelchairs along these bullshit hallways, feeding him that bullshit applesauce and pretending this bullshit exercise did something, which it didn't because it was all bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, that's what this place was. He'd almost died a thousand times so he could end up here? He was wheeled out into a courtyard with a small fenced-off pond in the middle. Well that's what they called it. It was just a concrete bowl with water in it. Sometimes, the caretakers would place the seniors around the pond and let them watch floating candles or something. Mr. Baker was hungry, but at this hour they'd just get him a light snack of applesauce, and he hated that stuff.

    "Are you hungry, Mr. Baker? How about a snack, I'll get you some applesauce."

    Speak of the devil...

    Mr. Baker mumbled, "I don't want any goddamn applesauce."

    Clara either didn't hear him or didn't give a shit; looks like he was eating that applesauce whether he liked it or not. She "parked" his chair in a little corner with a good view of the courtyard. Just a couple of short hedges forming a sort of cross with the pool in the center. There were some chess tables here and there, but Scott didn't want to play chess. Instead, he watched Mrs. Vinyard play chess with herself and talk to herself. She did that every day and every day it became less and less enthralling. Move a white piece, say something stupid about cats or something, black's turn, nothing happens, she moves a white piece again. If lung and heart complications, liver damage, and general old age didn't kill him, boredom would.

    "Here's your snack, Mr. Baker."

    ... and he shall appear.

    "I said I didn't want any goddamn applesauce."
    "Come on, Mr. Baker, you need to eat. Are you comfortable?"
    "No."
    "Here's your spoon. Try to relax."
    "I won't."
    "Just call someone if you need help, I'll let you relax for a few minutes."
    "Whatever."

    Seriously, fuck Clara. That North Dakota niceness tends to grind on a guy when it's constantly being shoved down his ears. He picked up his spoon and opened the tin foil top of the little applesauce tub. He dipped the spoon in the yellow mush and tasted the cinnamon and sickeningly warm apple.

    "I fuckin' hate applesauce."

    He held the tub upside down and let the rest of it spatter onto the floor before letting go of the plastic tub itself. Then he just held the spoon in his hand with the scoop pointed up.
     
    #2 Sir Pinkleton, Jan 14, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2015
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  3. Clara was the one who picked up the phone when Mr. Wakefield finally got the right hospital.

    "I was told that Mr. Baker was in your wing." Mr. Wakefield said brusquely. "I've been through enough transfers. Please, for the love of god, please bring him on the line. It's urgent."
    "I'm sorry, but Mr. Baker is sitting in the courtyard right now. Would you care to leave a message?"
    "No. I must speak with him personally."
    "What was your name?"
    "Doc-- Mr. Wakefield."
    "Well, you could always come here to visit him."
    Mr. Wakefield couldn't believe this at all. "If you know Mr. Baker as well as I do ma'am, then you know that he doesn't like surprise guests, ever. Ever. I insist on giving him proper notice."
    "Really I don't know what the fuss is about. Whatever it is can wait. Right now Mr. Baker is happy where he is. He won't mind being surprised if you're his friend."
    His ex-teammate, strictly speaking. Mr. Wakeman thought.

    "Wait ... why am I calling again?"
    "Huh? You're calling for Mr. Baker."
    "Is he safe?"
    "What?"
    "Is. He. Safe?!"
    "..."
    "If I find that he has been mistreated while in your confinement, I will call down the thunder!"
    "... are you, alright?"
    "No," Wakefield sighed, "No, I'm not alright." He realized that he had relapsed, re-living part of a hostage negotiation. It was a very unpleasant memory to live though. "I'm sorry about yelling at you. Look, I'm not even sure if Mr. Baker wants me around."
    "I see... Hold on just a moment."

    Clara would get another nurse to hold the phone, preparing some lines about how wonderful it was to get a phone call, that it was from his 'best friend' Mr. Wakeman. Mr. Wakeman couldn't stomach thinking that after all this time, he would try to dig up whatever they had from the past. He hoped Mr. Baker would know about Dragon. God help him if he didn't.
     
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  4. Ms. Vinyard got to the part where she talked about how one of her cats was going to have kittens. This was like watching the same episode of the same sitcom over and over. Mr. Baker looked down at the spoon and passed it to his other hand before dropping it on top of the applesauce tub. It clattered to the ground. He watched the water in the pond ripple as leaves from the hedges fell into it. A bee was making waves as it drowned in the water. Mr. Baker watched... and for some reason it reminded him of Germany. Nazi Germany, to be exact. The bee lay in the water and made waves like- ah fuck, Clara's back.

    "Hey Mr. Baker, feeling relaxed now?"
    "I told you I wouldn't relax, so I'm not."
    "Uh-huh. Well, you've got a call. It's from your friend, a Mr. Wakefield. He wants to talk to you, isn't that nice?"

    WAKEFIELD?! After decades of hiding behind his lab reports and playing with beakers, Wakefield was calling him? What could he possibly want? To chat about old times? To talk about life? To fucking gloat?! Mr. Baker was about to tell Clara to go tell Wakefield that he can shove a microscope up a nice dark place and take a sample of that. Then it hit him. He hadn't seen anyone from those days in years. Decades. He had to admit to himself (and only himself), he missed the days when life was about a better world and all that other stuff. He decided he'd bite. After having sat there for a few seconds staring into the pond, staring at the bee, he answered Clara.

    "Take me to the phone. I'll talk to him."

    Whatever Wakefield wanted, he'd listen. If he didn't like it, he'll use that miscroscope insult he's been saving for him.

    "Mr. Baker, you made a mess with your applesauce!"

    They both looked down at the spilled yellow mush.

    "It fell. Just take me to the goddamn phone."
     
    #4 Sir Pinkleton, Jan 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015
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  5. There was a long pause between the time Mr. Baker picked up the phone and when Mr. Wakefield would finally say something.

    Back in the old days, Mr. Wakefield could talk the ears off of corn, given the chance to do so. Talking was his only primary medium to share his seemingly unbounded enthusiasm with the rest of the world when it came to new, interesting ideas or discoveries; this enthusiasm never took breaks, even at the occasional cost of losing breath mid-sentence. It was as though, for each time he felt necessary, he had to express exactly what he was thinking in under a minute before his mind picked up on something else new, and had to start the process again. It was only through some intense social conditioning through verbal punishment by his peers that he forced himself to truncate his most important ideas so an everyman could understand. 'Hey Egghead,' Duke would say, 'tell it to me straight or don't say anything at all.'

    Mr. Wakefield now had to look back at the newspaper headline to keep his mind on track of only one thing that he absolutely needed to say. The pause combined the gloom from both the recent news and categorical uncertainty when it came to the reliability his own thoughts and memory, into something completely unbearable. Anything said by Mr. Baker would have been closed off at this point to portray a singular truth. There was no self-introductions, no 'how do you dos'; it was a stark statement predicated by absolutely nothing when it was certain Mr. Baker was on the phone.

    "She's dead."
     
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  6. Scott Baker was confused for a second. Then it clicked and he was horrified. Then, he reacted and was really, really pissed off. Unlike his usual bad moods, this wasn't explosive fire and brimstone. This was a cold, directed anger that didn't explode, but curled up in his chest so tightly, it sped up his breathing. Phones make everything sound fuzzy. And hearing that fuzzy phrase from a phone made it sound worse, more foreign and far away. He promptly told Clara to give him privacy before proceeding. It took all of his strength to keep his voice from shaking over the phone. His old arms shook instead.

    "When... how... and who?"

    Mr. Baker didn't want to believe this. Dragon couldn't be dead. She was the one person he believed could simply not be brought down. It was strange, but it had sort of given him comfort while he wasted away on a wheelchair that Dragon had at least gone back to her home to live her life meditating or whatever it is the Shaolin do. If someone had killed her... someone couldn't have killed her. He needed to know more, but not like this.

    "Wakefield... get your ass over here and tell me everything."

    He looked to see if there were any attendants around. There weren't.

    "At while you're at it, get me the fuck out of this hospital."

    He hung up. He didn't want Wakefield to argue or try to reason with him or anything, so he didn't give him the chance. However, in this case, he didn't really know if he would have tried to. He didn't want to believe what he said was true, but if it was, he needed to know everything. He needed to know it was real and to do that, he wanted to see Wakefield when he said it. He crossed his arms to hide the fact that they were shaking as he was wheeled to his room. He let them know just before they closed the door for him.

    "I'm gonna have a visitor today. Just so you know."

    Wakefield was going to be his first visitor in years. He was also going to be the first visitor he actually knew by name since he got here.
     
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  7. John lowered down the phone slowly back onto its stand, then looked at the newspaper headline again.

    He now regretted over why he felt the need to share the news with Mr. Baker, after all. It's not like either of them could do a damn thing about Dragon getting murdered. They were too old for this kind of stuff. He just put more on the plate on the guy who has enough woe as it is, wasting away in that hospital. Let those new, young superheroes take care of situation, if they weren't too busy fighting off rampaging idiots in the streets... if they even cared about an icon getting murdered on Independence Day. If not for his team, Remnant would be the freaking √úbermensch with complete dominion of the entire world. Couldn't the government have, you know, placed some covert security on Dragon's home?! Mr. Wakefield was pretty sure Dragon had to give up being prideful through her initiation in the Shaolin, and that wouldn't change with age; neither would her capacity to kick the stuffing out of loser criminals. He looked at his empty key hook, then looked at the artifact of his car in his driveway. He forgot the last time he drove the thing, though he could feel in his gut that this was going to be a hell of a learning experience, having only walked on campus most of the time in the past whatever-the-number-was months.

    Mr. Baker wants me to get him out of the hospital? Let's see if I can even survive driving there. He wants me to tell him everything? I can't even remember where I put my keys.

    He forced himself to change, thankfully remembering not to go out into the world in his freaking pajamas, though the first end result was quite crude; misaligned buttons on his shirt one level up for each, untucked, with a mystery blotch stain on his shoulder, and a tie misaligned so loose to the point of parody. He finally forgot how to tie a tie; finally he just gave up trying to look professional, throwing off his shirt and tie, and put on a plain light blue golf shirt. It was easy just to pull down to cover himself; no buttons required, and no enigmatic ties. Pants were also easy, as was the belt to keep it up.

    The whole process had been very time consuming, having taken about an hour of frustration. By the time he got to the car, he remembered that he had forgotten to get his keys as he padded his pockets. He sighed, turned around, then turned around again, walking towards the door and pulled on the handle. The door opened; after all this time, the door had been unlocked. He sat in the driver's seat and opened the passenger compartment. Keys were there. Mr. Wakefield put 2 and 2 together and realized that his car could have been stolen basically by anyone; his embarrassment would be complete if not for the fact nobody else knew about this. Breathing in deeply, Mr. Wakefield turned the keys of his 1967 Mercury Cougar, and started pulling out of the driveway, slowly, speaking under his breath a prayer for survival and to remember where the hospital was.
    --

    It had been a cruel learning experience indeed, having five close calls when it came to almost getting himself into an automobile accident, driving too slow, accelerating weirdly, or braking for no reason. He should have bought an assistant for this years ago. Government was still paying him well in his retirement, but it was his damn pride that didn't allow him to reach out for help if he didn't need it. This excursion was certainly going to be unexpected from the government, if they found out. If they didn't watch Dragon, they sure as hell wouldn't watch him with hawk eyes. In the hospital parking lot, he finally found a space got into it straight after about four re-tries. He got out of the door, closed the door, clenched his keys multiple times to enforce they were not in his car, locked the door, and walked into the hospital, at the wrong doors. He had to ask several staff members for directions to Mr. Baker, before a hospital member just gave up on giving him instructions to remember and led him to the front desk, where he would be directed to the correct wing.

    It was Clara that went down in response when the name Mr. Wakefield was dropped over the internal phone connection.
     
    #7 foodforpigs, Jan 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
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  8. "Yeah? Ah-ha? Oh yeah? And what did she say? No! Really? Ah-ha?"

    Clara wasn't supposed to use the phone for personal calls, but it was a slow day. What's the worst that could happen? Besides, Samantha had just heard something scandalous and it was just too good to miss out on.

    "Oh my goodness, is she out of her mind? I know! And I thought that was settled when- oops, hang on, Sam I got a little bit of work."

    She nodded at the attendant informing her of her duty. She placed the phone down near its receiver, but didn't quite let it rest yet. She'd die if she didn't hear the end of this one. She cheerily paddled herself over to the front desk and took Mr. Wakefield off of the hospital member's hands.

    "Thanks Randal, I'll take it from here."

    And this must be Mr. Baker's friend. They certainly weren't expecting any other visitors today. My, he looked almost as old as him too, maybe even older! She gave the man her big trademark smile, perfected after use on hundreds of patients, visitors, and coworkers and with a little dash of Upper Midwest cheerfulness. And you can't have the smile without the accent.

    "Hi! I'm Clara. Are you here for Mr. Baker? Oh, it's nice to see him get a visitor. You know you're the first visitor to see him in such a long, long time, I think he's just a little cranky because he's lonely, ya know? It's so sweet for an old friend to come see him! I mean, he gets a couple'a those lawyers and those business men in suits every now and then, but we don't ask about our patient's legal matters or anything like that. So how long have you known Mr. Baker? It's so sweet he's got a friend coming to see him, I bet he misses you so much!"

    Mr. Wakefield may have been chatty, but Clara was a phonetic demon. If an asteroid were headed for Earth, she'd be able to talk it down to pebbles faster than any super human could fly up to it and deflect it. Not only is she an endless stream of statements and questions, they all come at such blinding speed, that one barely has any time to answer them, if they have time at all.

    "Ooh, before we go on, I'm gonna need ya ta sign this here form. It's just a formality, you know, relation to the patient, name, blah, blah and stuff, ya know? No biggie. Once you're done, just hold onto it and give it me when you leave. You and Mr. Baker have a nice chat now."

    Clara was excited for Mr. Baker, but she was also simply dying to hear the end of Samantha's wild new discoveries. She left Mr. Wakefield at the front of the wooden door leading to patient room #079. Baker was behind this door. The hallway became deafeningly silent, especially in contrast to Clara's sharp, loud voice.
     
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  9. Anyone passing by Clara might have thought that the old man beside her was the most patient and kind listeners to have ever walked the earth. His face was reposed and receptive as Clara rattled off a whole bunch of rhetorical questions and statements, without a hint of frustration on his face at any point during their short walk to room #079. As new words came out of Clara's mouth, older words were pushed out of Wakefield's other ear and forgotten, leaving only the positive impression that this young woman was chock full of bubbly enthusiasm and energy, loving for her chosen profession as a hospital employee. If young Mr. Wakefield from twenty years ago could have analyzed himself at that moment, he would have said that they were in a state of sufficient equilibrium. If it wasn't for the terrible news, Mr. Wakefield knew that he would have been happy at that moment. Rarely anybody talked to him like this in his whole life, on such a casual level, to really not want anything out of him, like insights to solve a particular problem. In taking his academic life so seriously, he had forgone just taking life in without stressing over the details all the time. He didn't mind at all that Clara was the only one doing all the talking. It was nice just to be the one to see someone else pouring all of their energy back into the world for a change.

    Before Mr. Wakefield could say a word, Clara was already gone to hear the end of Samantha's stories, and he was left holding the useless form for which he just blankly stared at before folding it and putting it in his pocket. The hallway was silent enough that Wakefield could finally hear the ringing in his ears, an aftereffect of Clara's loud, cheerful voice. He shook his ears out as though they were filled with water and shook his head. Mr. Wakefield opened the door slowly, not sure what he would say first. Perhaps life would be made easier if Mr. Baker threw as many insults at him as possible in the first minute as an icebreaker before getting down to the pressing issue that persisted even on Wakefield's crumbling mind.
     
    #9 foodforpigs, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
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  10. The ice cold water made Scott scream and gasp for air. He'd felt a couple of icy chunks hit him when the cascade poured over his head. A stern, shrill voice spoke in German.

    "Do not allow him to lose consciousness. Do it again."

    More ice cold water poured onto Scott's head and around his shoulders. His skin burned and he felt needles dig into his nerves. He shook his wrists against the leather straps tying him to the chair. He swore at the four other men in the room, all of whom were clad in grey uniforms. Every time they took a step, their shiny black boots clipped and clopped against the hard, uncaring concrete floor. A cold leather glove wrapped its fingers around his chin and pulled his head up. The hand in the glove belonged Oberst Schlusser. Scott's face was directed upwards and forced to look into the cold, clear blue eyes of the Nazi Colonel. Clear blue eyes that had been sharpened razor sharp after years of military discipline. He turned Scott's face to get a better look at him. He paid special attention to Scott's blonde hair and colored eyes, and mewled at the bruises and cuts.

    "Such a shame. Your features are distinctively Aryan."

    Scott responded to him coldly and as emotionless as possible. He wasn't scared. He'd play along.

    "Mom was a German immigrant. She was smart enough to leave you dicks behind."

    "Interesting."

    Oberst Schulsser's response on the other hand, was quick and simple. He hand ran down from Scott's face to the patch on his shoulder. He slowly ran his leather encased thumb across the ridges of the sewn pattern.

    "Then that is truly a shame. Had you been born just on the other side of the ocean, this flag would have been a German one instead."

    Another man in uniform came through the iron door that separated the chilled concrete room from the comfortably warm hallway. He whispered in the Colonel's ear. Schlusser's face went from a false expression of pity and became one of amusement instead. He gave instructions to the soldier who performed a crisp, calculated salute, and left, his boots clip clopping on the floor until the iron door closed.

    "It seems your friend, Mister Nucleus as he likes to be called, found a way to contact this place and threaten us with thunder. He seems very upset." He let go of Scott's shoulder. "It would be rude of me if I kept him waiting. I shall return to check on your... progress."

    He eyed the other soldiers in the room and nodded. He said something in German, too quickly for Scott's handful of lessons from a Beginner's Guide to German to be of any use. He left and one of the soldiers left with him, leaving him with two soldiers intent on carrying out whatever mystery orders had just been given to them. Scott stared into the iron door, feeling Schlusser as he walked away and around a corner. This wasn't Freedom Squad's first run-in with the man, and it probably wouldn't be the last. One of them men picked up a scalpel. Scott didn't like that. At all. The soldier pulled Scott's head back by his hair and pressed the scalpel to his face.


    Mr. Baker gasped and he woke up. He'd dozed off. Soft sunlight flooded in through the window in his bedroom. He could hear birds chirping outside and a car drive by. He never liked all the comfy colors of the room, but he found himself being comforted by the creamy whites and the soft browns. He cleared his throat and adjusted himself in his wheelchair. It creaked a little like it always did. His senses slowly came back to him and he felt it. Someone was on the other side of the door, just standing there. Someone else was leaving. It took him a few seconds to put two and two together. He wrapped himself a little more tightly in the white, fluffy robe that all the seniors here wore. The person outside was coming in. The person outside was Johnathan Wakefield.

    He stared at him for a moment and found himself looking at eyes just as old as his. He didn't know why, but he'd half expected Jonathan to come in looking like he had before. He'd almost expected that he'd be the only one who ended up as an old fart with grey hair and constant stubble; the orderlies would keep shaving off any sign of a beard. He almost thought he'd see Jonathan come in with his lab coat and bright eyes, and that stupid apple floating around him. Well, at least Wakefield looked a little better off than him. At least he looked he was doing okay. Scott Baker swallowed and nodded. He'd always held some dislike for the remainder of Freedom Squad. They'd all gone off and enjoyed the rest of their lives while he'd broken away from them and fucked up. So much had happened since then, and as unreasonable as it was, he partly lamed them for it. He may have held contempt, but for some reason, for some damned inexplicable reason, he couldn't get the insults to come. Maybe it was seeing Johnathan end up as old as him that just took it out of him. Maybe he was getting emotional. Maybe he was just too damn old. So, he settled for the next best thing instead.

    "How many years has it been, John?"
     
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  11. Ghost images of two soldiers had appeared beside Mr. Baker when Johnathan walked into the hospital room; their faces and movements were as clear as on that day Dr. Nucleus went on his first solo mission. The Germans must have thought he was clearly joking when he said he would bring down the thunder, because they didn't mobilize fast enough. Television broadcasts could have easily intercepted even overseas by military radar, and all of them would have portrayed Dr. Nucleus as a kind, peace-loving man, who acted as the damage control for the all-star superhero team, saving lives, but never killing. The day that Dr. Nucleus saved Nightwatch's life was the same day he lost the remaining part of his innocence.

    Thunder rolled and crashed above the military base where Nightwatch was being held, the clouds having been stirred up by rotational forces caused by accelerated orbital fields generated by Dr. Nucleus, testing the very limits of his powers. Strings winds deflected the paths of bullets as German soldiers came pouring out of the woodwork to fire upon the heavily armored superscientist who was levitating miles high above them. Pilots struggled against the strong wind current to get to their fighter planes, before they realized to their horror that their planes were losing their hold on the ground, picked up by Dr. Nucleus' rotational aura as he quickly descended upon them head first like an eagle.

    "This is for Pearl Harbor, you Axis bastards!"

    Changing the gravitational rotation to a fast, tight elliptical curve, Dr. Nucleus hurled the fighter planes onto the ground troops as makeshift missiles; shrapnel gored those not fortunate enough to be killed instantaneously by the explosions themselves. The rest of the shrapnel was picked up along Nucleus' path and thrown in other directions with great precision; Dr. Nucleus had calculated in his mind exactly where the shrapnel would have gone given normal explosion equations. He then calculated their new destinations with vector equations, forcing bullet straight paths off the elliptical, for each moment, at all the enemies he could see.
    The only one that seemed unaffected by this was Oberst Schulsser, who, while taken aback by the sudden chaos Dr. Nucleus unleashed onto his military base, had become slightly amused by the spectacle, despite the cries of pain and anguish of his weak comrades. Schulsser remained rooted to the ground despite Dr. Nucleus' power, having been weighed down by clothes lined with a military developed dense and strong superalloy. It was through his control and power that nobody else besides the Fuhrer and those directly below him knew that with these clothes he was heavier than a Panzer X tank, and that he was stronger than the strongest man easily by a factor of 10. Combined, this meant he was always carrying monstrous potential momentum with each move. Shrapnel did cut at Schulsser's flesh as he ran through the killing fields, but these were mere annoyances against his calloused scar-dense flesh, regenerating as fast as the pieces flew.

    Mr. Wakefield remembered how quickly the cries of enemy soldiers muffled and died off, until what remained was only an eerie silence and the haze of thick smoke which covered his movements. It was only much later, when more was known about Schlusser, that the true horror was realized. All those soldiers maimed and left as cripples had been executed by Oberst Schulsser personally, absorbing their life energy into his own. Schlusser took his time collecting the power rightfully his as one of the Chosen of the Reich. Nucleus might be clever, but to Schulsser Mister Nucleus was still the Maus running into the maze of the military complex. However, Dr. Nucleus had done his homework on intel collection and knew the giant complex well, running through the corridors nimbly and finding the cell Nightwatch was placed in. He rammed the door where Nightwatch was being kept with a steel table, and it crashed open. The two Germans' faces filled with shock and terror; one of them still had the scapel in his hand pressed against Nightwatch's face. Nucleus fired a bullet from a pistol at the other soldier, and threw the torturer against the wall with a strong gravitational burst outward. The torturer squirmed against the wall under the immense gravitational pressure that crushed his ribcage and pressed down on his vital organs. Nucleus saw the tools they had been using sitting on a metal tray with dispassionate, cold eyes; slowly they were picked up and started to float around him. If the torturer could have shook his head, he would have, but his eyes showed everything. One by one, Dr. Nucleus stabbed the soldier with the tools as though he was a pincushion, the final blow being a scapel blade right through the eye, braining him.

    The same question might have been asked on that day, though Johnathan Wakefield couldn't remember. Only those faces in the room were printed in his mind. It took him a while to get back into the moment, the ghost image dying in the same way they always did. The question was re-posed in his mind, for the moment that was now. He could not answer the question, even if he did find out the exact date when the superhero team finally disbanded in response to Duke's absence. Give him a pencil and paper, and maybe he'd do the arithmetic correctly. That didn't matter though. John knew what Scott meant when he asked that question; another part of his conditioning by the closest thing he had to friends was to pick up on rhetorical questions.

    "It has been too long." Mr. Wakefield replied, simply.
     
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  12. Mr. Baker didn't know how to continue. Twenty years ago, he would have given this man a solid right hook if he so much as saw him. Now, he was offering him a seat. Or was about to, anyway.

    "Why don't you... why don't you sit down, they put chairs in here somewhere."

    He turned his body side to side on the wheelchair, looking for those devious chairs, always hiding. Two of them sat in the corner folded up and Scott gestured towards them. White plastic folding chairs for visitors. Classy. This hunt for folding chairs was just a distraction, despite only lasting about six or eight seconds; but Mr. Baker was just pretending to be busy to buy himself time to think. All these words that had jumped around in his mind, everything he'd wanted to call his old team. John had been the main target of course. Sac' had always been mysterious so he didn't have much on him but he had a couple of good ones. Dragon... not her. She was different, she'd... cared for him. And Duke was dead, but he had some for his grave too. Regardless, John had been the easiest and now that he had the chance to give him some bitter grief before he croaked, they just weren't coming. This was just swell.

    "You know, I had a bunch of shit I wanted to yell at you, but I can't get it out. Funny, huh?"
     
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  13. Mr. Wakefield definitely didn't see this coming; a wheelchair he might understand, but a toothless Nightwatch with no verbal bite? The only team member now that could possibly not be affected much by age was Sacrifice. It had always been his job to match brooding quota, not Nightwatch. The snappy, vengeful retort quota was that which Nightwatch obviously missed. He took the folding chair, and sat down on it. "This chair fucking sucks." he said aloud, as the plastic chair wobbled about from poor frame design in response to even his weight. Mr. Wakefield never swore unless the situation truly called for it; in casual conversation he would usually default to a gosh or a fiddlesticks. Now he didn't give a fuck about mannerisms. He was talking to a man who could cuss out a man with Tourettes.

    "It's not funny at all. What the hell happened us? You always has ten or more insults planned for the day for me. Not having one this time around is too strange, even by my standards. Maybe you should get some laxative for your throat, because it has all gone to shit, and we need to deal with it."
     
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  14. Baker was clearly stunned. Before today, he could count the times John swore on his fingers. Dragon was dead and John was swearing. It's like he died and went to a hell where everything is backwards and ridiculous. Baker figured out why he couldn't say what he'd wanted to. He'd been stunned by the presence of an old comrade. Instinctual, ingrained feelings of mutual trust that came with years of working as a single cohesive unit were difficult to suppress. But John had just been snappy with him. No one's snappy with him. Least of all the team geek. He'd needed something to snap him out of his star-eyed memories and back to who he was. Those trusting instincts went down the figurative toilet. Nightwatch came rushing back.

    "Look here you fucking little eggheaded snipe; I'm sitting in a goddamn wheelchair! You think your shit's all out of order? You with your pretty little golf shirt and your fucking... fucking science degrees? I can't even fucking walk. My food's all made of mush, the human I have the most contact with is some idiot bitch nurse, and I shit in fucking bucket! You think your shit's all over the wall? With all your government hand-holding?"

    Scott was leaning forward on his chair now. Ever other sentence ending with a few coughs. Decades of bottled up aggression that could only find release in bitterness came pouring out like shit from sewer. And Scott never felt better.

    "I knew you were a pussy John, just not this big of a fucking pansy! You think that chair fucking sucks? At least you can stand up and leave it behind! This chair is fucking abhorrent and I'm stuck on it till I check out for good! You think life is so goddamn hard for you having to look at all those little germs or scribble away on your notepads while I rot in a prison that just spoon feeds u-"

    The small pauses became wracking coughs and Scott wheezed in between each one. He covered his mouth with the back of his hand and looked away from John. His eyes squinted in discomfort and his hands began reaching blindly for something on the bedside table to his right. One scooped up a napkin with two dull grey pills and the other wrapped around a glass of water. He stuffed the pills in his mouth and downed them with water. He sat there panting for a few seconds and looking at the back of his hand. There were a few specks of blood. Again. He wiped it on the blanket covering his legs so John didn't see this weakness. Hopefully he hadn't already.

    "How could you let this happen? Huh? How could you and those fucking monkeys in suits in The Pentagon or wherever the fuck they are let it happen? I thought you were all protected? How did it happen? How the hell did she die?"

    He was going to continue his rant, but he began to cough again, so he slowed down. He'd definitely needed that. Just like the old days. Maybe a little worse and a lot meaner than the old days, since this was going a bit farther than those punches on the shoulder and "What'cha up to, nerd?" all the way back, but... close enough. More importantly, he needed someone to let it out on. His own special method of grieving was to get really angry at something.
     
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  15. Johnathan didn't consider himself a very religious man, but he thanked God that the Nightwatch who always had plenty of fight in him still existed within the self-loathing shell in the wheelchair, and that all he had to do to get at that side was for a moment act like Scott. Suddenly things were starting to make sense again. His mind eased back into his own zone, where swears were once again for only very special occasions. John decided not to try to point out exactly why his own life was as ugly as Scott's, because the main issue at hand was about Dragon, and there was no room for self-interested drivel about who now had the worse life. John also knew the longer that Scott talked with him, the more he would realize exactly how far he had fallen in his own way.

    He shifted in his chair again, muttered 'fiddlesticks', taking a soft breath for himself, but stayed on the chair to prove a point that it didn't matter in comparison to the real issue they could now finally fully address without lingering feelings of star-struck familiarity and memory, because they both knew that they were as good as strangers now, different people from what they were in the past. The fact that John felt he needed Scott's help to figure out what happened to Dragon was already insane, but at least their personalities were unfiltered by the presence of age-old expectations.

    "I've been out of the government loop ever since our team disbanded. The government dropped me off at a place near the university to lecture classes, and that was the last I've ever heard from them. I learned about Dragon's death this morning, in the paper. Keep in mind that the government had all the opportunity to notify all of us personally within half an hour of the incident, which supposedly occurred just after mid...dark. The sheer amount of simply not caring is what I've come to expect though, most likely because they want to focus on their new projects and the new Freedom Five."

    John sighed deeply. "As for how she died, I don't know anything other than the basic details reported. She was stabbed to death in her own home, then burglarized. That's basically all that was said about it, sparing the journalistic fluff."
     
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  16. Scott shook his head, "That's bullshit, Dragon can hear me comin' a mile away, some beat ass thug isn't gonna get in there without losin' his fuckin' teeth."

    He'd noticed about a half second after he finished talking that he'd used the present tense for Dragon. He didn't dwell on it.

    "Goddamn it, John!"

    Scott slammed his fist on the bedside table. It hurt his old hand a little, but he didn't dare show it. He had a problem to fight. A real one. He may have been in grief, but he didn't let it show. He'd had time to think about it while Mr. Wakefield was on his way and he honestly hadn't heard from Dragon much less any other former members of Freedom Squad in decades. Time had a way of dulling pain. Dulled pain was still pain, however. Scott fought the problem instead. A real problem. Something he hadn't had in a long, long time. He wasn't sure if he liked it or hated it.

    "God fucking damn it, how could this happen? Dragon... she... she's too good for that. No, no some fuckin' twerp or even twenty fuckin' twerps aren't gonnna pull that off. John," Baker leaned forward in his chair, it creaked a little, "John you don't think someone with old beef could've gotten to her, do you? That crazy ass voodoo guy or some leftover Krauts or... or fuckin' Schlusser, we never found out if he was really dead, or... hell what if that motherfucker Remnant somehow, I don't know, came back to life or some shit, he was magic wasn't he? Fucking hell John... what if we're next?"

    Baker ran his hand over his head. Just his head. He'd lost all the hair up there years ago.

    "What about Sacrifice? Have you spoken to him?"
     
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  17. John leaned back in his plastic chair, and he no longer noticed the nuisance quality of its construction, instead getting lost once again in his own thoughts. He had loved riddles before, but this one was at a cost of Dragon's life. It was true that probably not even twenty whelps could have been a fight for Dragon.

    How do you kill a dragon, without making a sound?

    Old enemies could be the answer, if he could remember the old enemies at all, or any of their powers. He remembered Fritz Waechter, who used to be a brilliant scientist before the Germans gambled him away in exchange for the hulking brute Fritzie. Mr. Wakefield had admired the man and many of his dissertation papers; it was a shame that something as trivial and stupid as war prevented them from ever collaborating and that it took such a great mind from humanity.

    Scott was on the right track asking if he had been in contact with Sacrifice. They needed Sacrifice against the dark forces, if they still existed. The new SF were not equipped to handle anyone except for lunatics or rampaging brutes that fought only in the open. There were no known villains as sinister or as deadly as Sacrifice. While America had grown fat in its own security and long peace granted by the ultimate sacrifice of Duke, the rest of the world continued to master the art of shadow play.

    "I haven't been in contact with Sacrifice in many years either. I remember attending his wedding. He looked happy all things considered." Not that Mr. Wakefield remembered anything else really that happened at the wedding, or the year the wedding took place. "He most likely has already found out about the news through the paper as well, but I'm not sure if he would want to find us. He probably has kids to think about now; roping him back in might be very difficult to do."

    The answers needed to be found quickly before more damage could be incurred, even if that meant giving up what little sanity he had left to do it. He thought about the riddle again.
    How do you kill a dragon, without making a sound?
    You don't move. Motion is the cause of sound.
    How can you move in to kill, without moving?
    In reference to what?
    In reference to the 3D plane, you dummy!
    Meaning that not to move, is to move, in 4D+
    ... ... Fiddlesticks.


    "Teleportation suit..." John said abruptly, then he cleared his throat, trying to map out a more proper explanation. "One of the Anti-Freedom Five had one, and it's possible someone got the specifications to make another. If Dragon died at the hands of a trained assassin, with that kind of suit, he/she wouldn't even have to make a sound. If we are next, then the only reason why we're still alive is because our identities are secure, at least for the time being. We definitely need Sacrifice for this. Remnant might have been banished, but that doesn't negate the possibility that someone else decided to take his place."
     
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  18. Scott nodded. They were making progress and that was good. They had leads, although how exactly they were going to follow them was something that would have to be dealt with later. One bridge at a time.

    "If it really is Remnant or someone replacing him, we could be in some deep shit. Last time we tangled with the bastard, Freedom Squad paid with its leader. If he's back or someone is taking over, we're both, well look us. We're both a couple of old geezers, hell I can't even use my goddamn legs. If there's a Remnant out there, we're pretty fucked and these fruity new heroes are fucked just as badly if they try to take him."

    He remembered all too well what had to be done in order to banish Remnant. It was a topic he didn't like to tap into very often. And he didn't think this new generation of heroes had what it took to fight Remnant. This feeling came both from a realistic perspective as well as the simple fact that Baker saw all of these kids as a bunch of pushovers. Maybe a couple of them were good heroes with good hearts and decent skills, but generalizing was easier for Baker.

    "And I don't like the idea of having some guy with that weird Nazi teleporter's power. The guy was fucking nutjob. I seriously hope you're wrong about that John. Hell, I hope we're both wrong about all this shit."

    He didn't know the German superhuman by any name except Wurmloch. The name literally translated into Wormhole. The guy popped from place to place, so it kind of made sense. Baker didn't know how a real worm hole worked, he'd always assumed the man was named Wurmloch because worms popped out of tunnels like he had popped out of thin air. It hadn't made Wurmloch any less of a threat, however.

    "You're right about Sac', though. We're gonna need him. But first," before he said this, he double checked his extra senses to make sure no one was in the hallway; it used to be easier, "first, you gotta get me the fuck outta here and then we need to see Sacrifice. Today. If you try to take custody, your ass is gonna be filing paperwork till we both croak, and if the fucker Remnant's out there, we can't exactly call a time out. You need to bust me outta here..."

    Scott was brought back the German base he'd dozed off to.

    "Just like back then. I won't be able to drop kick and spar with a couple of Krauts while tied to a chair this time though. I might hurt my back."

    Mr. Baker meant for those last two sentences to make up a joke. Scott wasn't too bad at remembering and telling jokes a few decades ago, but right now dry wit was close enough. At least it was still some kind of wit.
     
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  19. John nodded, a subtle recognition of Scott's wit, but the situation was even more complex than what Scott thought; it didn't help that emotions were running high. John wanted to save Scott again from wrongful imprisonment, but it couldn't be done the same way twice.

    "If I break you out of here, then more unwanted attention would be pointed to us. 'Crazy ex-professor busts patient from hospital' or a headline just like it. Think about it. Dragon was murdered on the very same day that Duke is remembered. If the attack was deliberate and planned, which it has to be since no punk loser could even touch Dragon without getting pummeled to..." John noticed the object of Scott's scorn. "applesauce, by a steady stream of Dragon's Breath hand-to-hand attacks, then it also follows that who ever attacks us wants us to know. The assassin would be counting on us to panic and give away our position."

    Mr. Wakefield paused. He was almost going to give some sort of loser speech about how he should have been there for Scott much earlier than this, and that it shouldn't have taken Dragon's death to visit Scott, even if they weren't always on the most cordial terms even as teammates. He was going to say that 'No, I can't break you out of here without signing those papers and keeping you here in a place that is your prison. Hell, I'm going to join you, because guess what pal? I have the textbook emergent symptoms commonly associated with Alzheimer's Disease. We can't do anything anymore. We are dweebs, chumps, push-overs. You're without your legs and I'm without my mind.' That wasn't what Duke would say, and that was definitely not what Dragon would do.

    Back when Dragon was started in the superhero business, Eve was known only as the reckless speedster daredevil punk known as Impulse: undisciplined, coy, and the luckiest person alive during that time, counting the number of needless close calls of instant death. The United States government hated that their project was always walking the tightrope. It wasn't just her life that she gambled with: it was every citizen's that she only narrowly saved, and countless government dollars worth of damage. To her, crime fighting was an outlet for awesome thrills, with the most showboat combat phases America had ever seen, whilst also saying the worst catch-phrases. She had her cult following, but to the general public, she was a menace. Finally the United States government threatened to recall any pay until she went through some rigorous training under a Master. If she passed under the Master's tutelage, then she would get a bonus on her next paycheck. Impulse, thinking that it would be laughably easy, complied. When she first met Master Yeng in the government designed dojo, he simply stood there, eyes closed.

    "It is funny that fastest girl can still show up late to lesson."
    "Can it you geezer." Impulse immediately replied. "It's not like there's anything for you to teach me. By the time you get around spouting one of your mantras.."
    "Your mouth moves fast, but does it know what it is saying?"
    "Watch your mouth, or I'll have you eating a dog's breakfast for the rest of your life!"
    "Hot temper. It is good to temper the steel, but too much causes the steel to bend and break."
    "Enough of this drivel. Get to the lesson."
    Master Yeng faintly smiled. "Knock me down and you will have passed my training."
    "No fooling?" Impulse grinned. "Now I just feel sorry for you."
    Impulse charged towards him and closed the distance in half a millisecond. The next instant, Impulse took the full punishment of her momentum redirected as her back crashed flat on the ground. She immediately lost all the breath from her lungs and her rib cage suffered major fractures.
    "Your chi has no focus." Yeng scowled. "For so long as it is uncontrolled, you will die at the hands of a killer who can use your own powers against you."
    Impulse rolled over, coughing out blood and bone shards.
    "Stand." Yeng ordered.
    Eve struggled to even push herself off the ground before collapsing like a newly born baby giraffe.
    "Stand up!" Yeng yelled.
    She shook her head, weeping.
    "You must, or I refuse to train you."

    The tears dried up immediately. She would not lose to him. He thought that she was just a punk. It wasn't true. She always placed saving lives first. It was only that her showboating had shrouded the fear that one day she would die in pursuit of that. She would stand. She would continue saving people. Eve worked slowly, diligently, through each deliberate, painful step. Yeng only watched in silence with dispassionate eyes, showing neither approval or disapproval. Finally she was standing on the flats of her feet, wobbling, but standing. She fell then, and closed her eyes. So it was over, after all, she thought.

    Master Yeng caught her in his arms, cushioning the fall perfectly. "You have passed the first lesson. It will be my honor to train you, Eve."
    Eve was still weak, coughing blood mixed with phlegm. "What was the first lesson... again?"
    "The Destruction of Ego. By standing, you have re-built yourself with the fullness of your chi. Without ego to hinder you, your enemies can no longer redirect your chi. It is all yours now."

    Years later, when Yeng's training was finished, he dubbed her the name Dragon, the unstoppable force of willpower and might. No longer were her punches wussy speedster fleabites, but full blown tank missiles. No longer did she fear death when rescuing people. Now they were comfortably safe from whatever threat came their way.

    Dr. Nucleus had only some time to train under Master Yeng, who criticized that the enemy wouldn't care about his smarts and instead just crack the head open like an egg. From Yeng, John learned little, but what he took from it he could apply now. To appease his smarts, Yeng once said 'The problem is sometimes the solution.' It was true that he knew he had Alzheimer's. Hospital staff probably also guessed this. The path to the exit of the hospital through the alternate doors was mapped in his mind. He would just... 'forget' about the paperwork, is all.

    "Alright then." John said, simply. "I'm going to roll you the back way out. If anyone asks, say that I'm a medic. This is true. It's just that I'm no longer licensed. Hopefully if they look at the ID in my wallet, they won't inspect it long enough to realize it is expired. As to why, say it's just for Independence Day and that this is America."
     
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  20. "Nononono, wait, wait, wait, stop!"

    Mike Damiani was on his back, lying on a ledge at the very end of an apartment building in New York. His head was already hanging off the edge and a good shove would slide the rest of his body off the rooftop. A police siren rang somewhere in the night and the wind was strong enough to be heard up here. Mike could see his breath in the cold January night.
    A masked man held the collar of Mike's creamy white suit. He had these big goggles where the eye holes would be, so he couldn't see his anything. The voice of Scott Baker came from behind the cloth mask. Scott knew who Mike was. Mike didn't know who Scott was.

    "Then tell me where the fuck this Lou asshole is."
    "I already said, I don't fuckin' know man, please don't throw me off a goddamn- GUAH!" Scott slid him a little closer to the edge.
    "Tell. Me. Where."

    Mike turned his head a little to see an alley with clotheslines crisscrossing through it. There was a fence right where he would land if he fell and it looked sharp. The fancy red scarf he wore to protect his neck from the chill slid off his neck and wavered six stories down until it coiled around the fence. Yep, definitely sharp. He'd just seen this masked nutjob clock the two guys he'd had with him for muscle and he might end up a lot worse than they did. He really didn't want to fall.

    "WHERE?!"
    "Look, man I don't know where Lou lives, okay? I'm just a money guy, I scare stores into payin' protection money, they don't tell me shit!"

    Mike's back got pushed back, his head and neck were pretty much hanging upside down now. Scott told him a little about himself.

    "You know why superheroes can't just kill guys like you?"
    "Wh-Why?"
    "Cause they've got licenses that'll get them in trouble if they do shit like that and they've got cops that know where they are so they can call 'em. But I'm not a fuckin' superhero and I'm not fuckin' licensed cause I'm an unregistered vigilante, so if I throw you off this roof, the cops in this town won't even bother investigating cause they don't give a shit about mobsters who might be killing each other!"

    Scott shook him around for a little extra effect. Combined with the little exposition he'd been given, Mike was very agreeable.

    "Okay! Okay!," Mike stammered, Lou was gonna fucking kill him for this, "I-I don't know where he lives, I just collect money for him," Scott slid him a little more, "BUT! I know he owns a-a bar, the one of 41st and Newtown. Y-You know the one?"
    "Yeah I know the one, it- Wait, Lou's? Lou owns fucking Lou's?!"
    "Yeeaah?"
    "Are you shitting me? He's that fucking Lou?!" Scott was about to send Mike six stories down.

    "NO WAIT! I'm serious, h-he owns the fucking place, that's why it's called Lou's. He comes by about once a month to check up on it, I swear! I-I think he's gonna be there maybe around next week, but I-I don't when! I heard it might be tomorrow or the day after so you still got time- please don't fuckin' splatter me man."
    "Then you better remember exactly when, asshole, or you're taking a plunge."

    "So you're the guy who's been beating up mobsters around here?" A feminine voice spoke up behind Scott. She added,
    "And for the record, the police in this district do try to investigate mob violence, they just... don't try very hard."

    Scott turned his head to see a real superhero standing behind him. If she'd heard the thing about the cops, she'd been there for a while. He'd been so focused on throttling Mike the Mobster, he'd stopped paying attention to his senses. He answered her,

    "You're that super speed girl. Impulse, right?"
    "It's Dragon now."

    Mike saw his chance at salvation and took it,
    "Oh thank god, you gotta help me! This guy's a fuckin' maniac! He's not registered, he wants to kill me!"
    "Shut up."
    Scott and Eve's voices intertwined as they answered Mike simultaneously.

    Mike had seen his chance at salvation and blew it. Scott looked back at Eve.

    "Well, what do you want? You can bust this guy after I'm done with him if he's still breathing."
    "You have some kind of vendetta against the mob?"
    "Maybe. My business with the mob is my business. I'll ask again, what do you want?"
    "I've been following your... work. You've pissed off a lot of people, most of them gangsters."
    "Like I said, that's my fucking problem."
    "I can help yo-"
    "No thanks. I've got it covered. Don't I Mike?"
    Mike was silent. He was busy realizing he'd pissed himself a little when he was hanging upside down. Dragon resumed her offer,
    "It's just, you're not really well equipped and I'd rather help you than bring you in for vigilantism."

    Not well equipped was somewhat right. Eve had her own uniform, but Scott had been pursuing his own brand of justice in clothes that were "good enough." He wore simple black boots, grey work pants, a dark jacket and his mask was made of cloth. He'd placed some welding goggles he nicked from work over the eye holes to hide them. A metal pipe was slung through one of his pants' belt loops. Dents could be seen on it, most of them made recently. It'd been his improvised melee weapon and it'd been working just fine so far.

    "Fine. You wanna help? Meet me at Lou's Tavern, tomorrow. Nine o'clock. Help me fuck those guys up and then we'll see."
    "Understood, Lou's Tavern. And uhhh, your friend sprung a little leak."

    Scott's attention was brought to the small dark shape on Mike's expensive pants.
    "Oh, for fuck's sake Mike."
    He was about to say something to that Dragon girl, but she was gone. He really needed to pay more attention.

    And that was the first time Scott met Eve.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It was the 1970's again. Mr. Baker had to resist the urge to grin at John's plan. After so many years, they were finally doing something. It felt like they were making progress. He was more than ready to get moving. He didn't care how he was leaving, he was fucking leaving!

    "Good. Great. Before we go, I need you to do something. There's a little box under my bed, I need you to get that for me. I don't wanna flop around on my ass tryin' to get it."

    Hidden underneath Mr. Baker's bed was a small wooden box. It had a lock on it, but it had long since broken, allowing the box to open freely. Mr. Baker made sure the box was in his possession before its contents could be revealed. He pulled out the brakes on his wheelchair so that the wheels could move. He stuffed the box under the blanket covering his legs.

    "It's just some old shit I don't want the orderlies getting their hands on. Let's get going. Don't worry about the hospital staff, nobody except Clara can stand me. Being an asshole pays off sometimes."
     
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