This is fiction, any similarity between the characters and events or persons, living or dead, or events real or imagined outside of the RPG session on which these characters are based is purely coincidental, and they are my characters (except Strike One who belongs to a friend of mine). Redistribute freely provided this document is unaltered and no profit is made from it. Now on with the story.
Mark raised the crystal glass gently to his lips, letting the smooth bubbly liquid flow over his tongue. Don Perignon 1904, definitely a good year. The bottle, a peace offering from his love, lay nearby in a bucket of ice. They had been having one of their usual arguments, although this one seemed to get much more serious.
The two of them had been separated for several months, they had originally been part of the same mercenary/criminal team. Mark had left the team for another due to a difference of opinion with the leader of this team. Ben however had not been offered a place by the mercenary unit which had taken in Mark and his younger sisters Barbara, and Roberta. The two had continued with their lives, but never forgetting the other.
Things continued to spiral downhill for their old team from there. Shortly before Mark and the others left, they had entered a confrontation against an unknown group of mercenaries both of whom were after a single item. The other group had gotten away with the computer which was their target. It was the prototype of a new super computer small enough to fit in a suitcase. It was this same group which had “stolen” Mark, and the others. After this Mark, Barbara and Bobbi's other siblings Derrick and Lisa had also left the team to go their own way. After losing five members several other members of the team lost confidence in their leader and left. Soon only the leader of the team and Ben, who had no idea where Mark was and nowhere else to go, remained. The leader gathered a new team, and began a vendetta of hiring mercenary after mercenary, assassin after assassin, all with one goal, to kill the leader of the rival group, Strike One. Each of these assassins, Black Sunrise, IRA hitman and master of the lethal death touch, Bulldozer the Rhino morph, The “Hellion “ Robot, each of them failed.
But that was all ancient history. The leader of that group had eventually been arrested in Toronto Canada, while attempting a personal assassination on his foe. Ben would have been arrested and deported as well, had not Strike One vouched for his innocence in the matters concerned, and thus accepted him into the fold. Strike had stood up on Ben's behalf at the insistence of Mark. They could not reveal it to the other members of the team, always a sore point with Ben, but they were together again. Mark and Ben like any couple had their occasional spats, but they always made up in shortly afterward. They were getting along fine for a good while, until a not quite so ancient piece of history came up. A month or so before they had gotten back together a mission had taken Mark to the city of Philadelphia, While there Mark had a one night stand with a local. Mark had told him if he ever came to Toronto to look him up. When he said this he had neither expected he and Ben would be reunited, or that his one night stand would follow him all the way to Canada. He had been wrong on both counts.
Now, Ben had always been the jealous type and when he found out what Mark had done he was upset but understood. Although as the visitor stayed longer in town Ben began to suspect that Mark was cheating on him, an accusation which infuriated Mark. so much so that he had been tempted to give Ben a reason to be paranoid. Now they were beginning to patch things up.
As Mark drained his glass he looked across from him, sitting there, his knees under him, Mark marveled at how Ben looked by natural firelight. Ben had gone to all the trouble of finding a hotel room which had a romantic style fireplace, just for him. Mark placed his glass on the floor beside him and was immediately buried under a gentle white avalanche of fur. Mark raised his face from being buried under the massive chest of his polar bear lover. His face immediately met with a snowy muzzle as their tongues began to gently slide and wrap around one another like two snakes wrestling. Mark moaned into their kiss as Ben reached up to caress the velvety inner surface of the Mark's ears. The mouses whiskers twitched rapidly in response to this stimuli, a reaction which always excited Ben greatly, simply because it was an indication of his lovers arousal. Marks hands circled around Ben and felt their way down his muscular back. Just as things were beginning to heat up even more between the two there came an intrusive knocking at the hotel room door. “Shit.” Mark complained pulling his mouth away from Ben's as Ben continued to nuzzle his neck. The knock came again, this time a little louder. “We really should see who it is, it could be important.” Mark hated the interruption just as much as Ben but if there was even the off chance that this was word that one of his sisters was hurt, he couldn't afford to ignore it. That was an occupational hazard in their line of work, as much on their nights off as when they were working, it seemed.
“It better fuckin' be.” Ben grumbled as he made his way over to the door, donning a hotel robe. “Yeah?” He pressed his eye as close to the peep hole as his muzzle would allow.
“I have a message for you, sir.” the bellboy announced somewhat unnerved by the tone in Ben's voice.
“Figures, anytime we take some time away from work.” Ben grumbled as he opened the door, looking back at Mark, who had also put on a robe.
As Ben opened the door about a dozen people swarmed into the room. They were all wearing blue jeans and black sweaters with ski masks. Many were carrying baseball bats and similar weapons. As soon as they were into the room one of them jammed a hand held tazer into Ben's ribs. Ben stiffened as the voltage ran through his body, someone had obviously modified this thing, the charge would be potentially lethal to a human. Seeing this Mark had already sprung to his feet and was closing into combat range. He was hoping that his Leopard Style Kung-Fu would give him the advantage against their superior numbers and weapons. He lead his attack by leaping at one of the people between him and Ben. As he leapt in his knee was brought up into position equal with the chest on his victim. The human responded as could be expected by preparing his hands to intercept the knee. Just before Mark reached his target he lashed out bringing a vicious snap kick up catching his foe directly under the jaw. The man's head snapped back as he fall on his back.
Two more came at him from both sides, Mark performed a split second analysis, two people, apparently human male, like most here, there were three out of the 12 were morphs of some kind, he didn't see any females. Mark immediately struck down the one to his left with a claw hand strike, followed up by a front kick to the stomach. He turned back just in time to see his other attacker swinging a baseball bat at his head. Mark alertly ducked under this attack, and brought his fist up into the attackers unprotected stomach. Mark felt a length of chain circle around his leg. A swift jerk on the other end brought Mark crashing face first onto the floor. As soon as he hit something hard crashed into the back of his head, slamming his face into the floor again. The taste of blood filled Mark's mouth, however he knew that his attacker would already be poised to strike again. Mark rolled to a safe distance away, the chain now detached from his leg. He snapped into a ready stance his fists clutched against his chest. He decided to carry the fight back to the two and charged forward. He struck the one with the chain, already bruised from his claw strike, with a crescent kick to the head.
His keen ears picked up the whoosh as the bat came through the air again. Mark turned and brought his arm up, sweeping the bat into a locked position trapped under his left arm. Another kick to the face propelled his attacked backwards causing him to lose his grip on the bat. Mark spun the bat into his hand, and brought it crashing into the skull of it's wielder. Giving the one on the ground a shot for good measure Mark discarded the bat, it didn't feel right in his hands, it was too slow and clumsy. Mark used only two weapons in close combat, his own body and a spear. Unfortunately, lack of the latter left him with only his body. Mark cursed himself for not bringing one of his guns, a .45 would probably allow for a less violent resolution to this fight.
Mark turned to see a number of these people pounding on Ben who was down on the floor, two were using baseball bats, one just kicking, one more using a heavy chain to whip his ribs. Ben had apparently taken down four before he had fallen. The other two were now making their way towards Mark, one a smaller human held the tazer which had been used on Ben when they entered and the other, mark would guess some sort of cat held a switchblade in one hand and a sai in the other. The cat closed in first, Mark opened with a low snap kick which met with a low block from the hilt of the sai. At the same time his first pushed forward, but met with air, where the cat's head had been moments before. Mark leaped backwards as both knives sliced through the air. The tip of the switchblade caught Mark's side as he passed. Mark reversed his momentum as soon as he landed and led with his first, as Mark had predicted his attacker stepped right to strike again at mark's injured side. All of Mark's body except for his left leg stopped suddenly, his left leg continued forward and caught his attacker in the gut. Mark attempted to follow up with an axe kick but that met with a high block, keeping Mark off balance as a front kick drove him back, causing him to bounce on his ass. The force of the kick had almost cracked Mark's sternum, it was obvious that his attacker was far stronger than he was.
Mark leapt into a crouch and performed a tremendous back flip, extending his foot as he did to catch his opponent already pressing the attack. Mark then closed again and the two began a complicated series of strike and counterstrike. After a few minutes both had scored several hits, it occurred to Mark that his opponent was taking an almost strictly defensive posture for the last few seconds. As he wondered why there was a crashing sound as a Champaign bottle ended it's flight against the back of Mark's head. Mark fell to his knees clutching the back of his head but a snap kick carried him back to his feet. A couple of quick strikes slammed into his face, as he regained his defense. A third punch came in wide, but Mark caught it in the air by the wrist. Turning he placed his other arm into the cats armpit and hurled him across the room crashing hard into the wall.
Furious, Mark turned to the human with the stun gun standing where, just a few minutes before, Mark and Ben had been sharing a tender moment. Mark charged at the human. As he did the man tried to hit him with the stun gun. Mark grabbed him by the wrist, and a carefully applied touch caused the man's hand to open. Mark snatched the stun gun and switched his wrist hold for a grip around the neck of his attacker. Mark jammed the stun gun roughly into the exposed throat of its former user. The man convulsed as the shock ran through him. Mark just held the weapon there continuing to shock him with 30,000 volts. Mark then realized he had taken a moment too long as he felt a strike against a nerve bundle in the back of his head and everything went black.
The quiet of the hospital zone was torn to shreds by the growling of a Harley Davidson. The custom bike turned the corner sliding into an available spot in the parking lot of Toronto General. The bike was a custom job with a special hand built motor capable of carrying almost 2 tons. The bike towered almost five feet high at the seat, a fitting size for the driver. Strike One lifted his leg and dismounted the Bike once the engine had died down, silence descending once again like an anvil. He turned and seized his passenger by the waist lifting her easily and setting her down gently on the ground. Both were dressed in black leather, with matching tinted Helmets. May stood a towering 7'3”, had she not been standing next the 9'7” frame of her fiancee' she would have appeared a giant. While Strike's outer appearance did not show any of his animal nature save his size, May's was obvious by her torpedo shaped helmet. The voluptuous Dolphin unbuckled and removed her helmet as the two made their way up to the doors of the hospital. The sensor picked up their approach and the doors slid open, a fortunate thing because in his current mood Strike would have opened them with enough force to shatter the glass and embed the door frame in the wall had they been ordinary doors. He disliked being pulled away from a stake out, even more so to find out that two of his comrades had been attacked. He stormed up to the desk and lowered his gaze to the receptionist. As she gawked, terrified, at her reflection in his visor Strike spoke for the first time since leaving the stake out. “Emergency?” The receptionist stared confused. Strike's fist came down hard on the desk and he repeated the word, this time his voice barely understandable beneath his animal growl. May reached out and calmly placed her hand on Strike's arm.
“Love, maybe you should let me handle this, You tend to intimidate people. I know your just a pussycat, but most people don't.” Strike stepped aside letting May at the part of the desk where the terrified receptionist sat, her gaze still locked on it's reflection. May lunged forward grabbing the receptionist by the collar of her blouse and forcing her to look her in the eye. “Listen Bimbo,” She shouted, “Where . . . Is . . . Emergency?” May demanded slowly allowing the words to soak through the poor girls fear soaked mind.
“D . . . Down that hallway, and um, Turn left, then follow the signs.” She replied still trying to look back to Strike.
“Thank you, now that wasn't so hard was it?” May released the receptionist and turned taking the arm of her fiancee' as the walked in the direction of emergency. “You just have to know how to talk to people.” She commented as they walked away.
The directions soon led them to a crowded room. Barb, Mark's sister nervously paced, waiting to be allowed in to see her brother. Karl, a 4' coyote, leaned against the wall in the corner casually tossing his 6” combat knife in the air and catching it again after two full rotations, then repeating the motion. Catherine sat next to Strike Three and then next to her was Strike Two. Charlene, the oldest of the skunk sisters, sat in a chair near Karl, while Cecilia flirted with a passing intern. Inconspicuous by his absence was Brainbox, for a pigeon he seemed rather undisposed to other people. As for Shiela, the sheep stood at the far side of the room, with Mark's other Sister, Bobbi crying on her shoulder. Out of everyone in the room Strike One and May were the only ones who knew about Ben and Mark's relationship. Strike had found out from the sister of Mark's one night stand in Philadelphia.
After a time a doctor came out of the room beyond, and instantly was the focus of everyone's attention. “Your friends are very fortunate, they were both severely beaten, but are now stabilized. The mouse appears to have suffered a major concussion and your other friend has several broken ribs.”
“Who did this to them?” Barb asked the tone in her voice showing the concentration it was taking to remain calm.
“The police found someone unconscious at the scene and have taken them into custody, pending questioning, but other than that only your friends can answer that question.”
“Can we see them, now?” Strike One rumbled, having finally taken off his helmet.
“I'm afraid we can't allow anyone other than family in right now,” He looked to Barb and Bobbi at this point. “If you come back tomorrow during regular visiting hours... “
“You have two choices.” Strike interrupted his claws sliding free of their sheaths and curling menacingly towards the doctor. “Either you can let us in to se our friends right now, or you can call your security people and then we can go see them.”
Karl chuckled coldly, “At least they won't have to go far to the morgue.”
The doctor looked from Strike One to Karl and back again. Something in the diminutive Canine's eyes unsettled him greatly, he found that almost as intimidating as Strike's size and muscle tone. He could feel sweat starting to coat his palms, out of the corner of his eye he could see Karl's nose flinching rapidly at the end of his muzzle, and he knew he knew it too. He swallowed as the other members of the team started closing in, he stepped back finding a wall half way through his stride. “I'll, I'll go see if they're willing to see visitors.” He stammered terrified more than he had ever been in his life. He stepped sideways and slipped through the door back into the room with the subjects of discussion.
The doctor returned a moment later and nervously cleared his throat, “Your friends will see you now, but please try to keep it brief, and don't tell administration about this.” These last two were more of a pleading than anything else.
The group pushed past the doctor and flooded into the room where the two beaten men lay, their wounds bandaged.
Ben and Mark looked up at their friends who had come to see them. Barb and Bobbi ran over to Mark and embraced him gently, bombarding him with questions as to his condition.
“How did this haaaappen to you guys?” Sheila bleated, she didn't talk much, because of her tendency to roll her A’s and the embarrassment it usually caused her.
“Well,” Ben looked over at Mark who nodded slightly, “I guess for any of this to make sense you guys should know that . . .” he paused for a second, considering how to continue. “Aw hell, there's no other way to put it, we've been lovers since before we even came to Operation Northern Front.”
There was a myriad of astonished gasps and other assorted reactions including “Just fucking great.” from Karl, who turned and stepped out of the room.
Strike excused himself from his fiancee' and followed Karl, who was muttering to himself. “Something wrong Karl?” He asked suspicious of the coyote's reaction.
“Yeah there's something wrong. Those two.” he gestured back to the room where the rest of the team was still huddled around the injured warriors.
“Oh, had something for one of them yourself did you?” Strike chuckled kidding around.
Karl's combat knife was never slow leaving it's sheath, all part of being a trained commando. The butt of the blade slammed hard into the back of Strike's knee, Strike just stood there like a massive redwood. “Be careful what you say there, This thing does have a sharp end you know.” he growled, Strike could barely understand him through the savage rumble.
“You have a problem with gay people?”
“They have their place, it just isn't on the battlefield.”
“Does that include Cecilia, and her sisters, or MY sister?”
“I got no problem with your sister, the skunks I don't feel right about, they're civilians.”
“Aside from you, me and my sisters the whole team is civilian.” Then as an afterthought he added, “And Ben of course.”
“That doesn't change the subject, just make sure that I don't have to rely on either of those two for back up.” Karl turned and stormed out of the hospital, while Strike just shook his head.
Two days passed, Strike was out by the pool, he lay on his back, basking in the summer sun. The light glared in through the heavy glass dome, the roof was open right now allowing for the heat to escape, but in the winter it did allow the pool to be used, regardless of temperatures outside. He adjusted his sunglasses and just relaxed, for a moment. Cool water splashed onto him dampening his fur as his fiancee' came flying out of the pool at swimming speed that only dolphin's or other aquatic morph's could attain. May giggled as Strike removed his sunglasses and set them aside. He looked to his beloved playfully and then in a single swift movement propelled himself through the air. His pounce was as smooth and as accurate as any jungle tiger could have ever performed, he felt his massive frame sweep May off her feet and carry her with him into the pool. Strike was still learning to swim but fortunately the pool was only 8 feet deep here, so the water barely reached his shoulders. May came up beside him treading water, she swam over to the edge of the pool and pulled herself up to sit on the pool side with her feet dangling into the water. Strike climbed up to hold her close, kissing her deeply. They were interrupted as his alert ears picked up the whooshing of the pressure door opening into the pool area, and then closing again.
Both turned towards the pathway which lead through the arboretum to the entrance. A familiar figure came striding down the pathway, seven feet tall and covered in snowy white fur.
“Well look what the cat dragged in.” Strike smiled.
“Mouse actually,” came a soft voice from behind the Polar Bear, Barb stepped around beside her brother's lover. “None of the cat's here can drive a car.” Everyone had a good laugh about that, it was true though. Strike One had never learned because he had never found a car that he could fit into. Strike Three was learning but still had a long way to go, and Strike Two, just thinking about it made Strike One laugh harder. Strike Two wasn't ready for cars, she was just grasping the concept that clothing was a necessity not a luxury, and was still trying to understand as she put it, “when the hell did this stuff,” referring to water, “start coming in warm.”
All three had been created by the same company through genetic engineering, They also had an older brother, but none of them talked about him much, he was down in holding still being deprogrammed. Each of the four had been trained using different techniques to determine the best method. Homerun had been brainwashed through subliminal messages and a system similar to that of the American school system, where one is force to recite the glory of the country, or in this case the company, until one starts believing it. Strike One was trained using a system of brutal physical punishment upon failure, treachery or other “unacceptable behavior.” Strike Two was trained using a system where good behavior was rewarded with basic human necessities, food, clothing, light. It had taken her a while to get used to a toilet instead of a hole in the corner and a bath tub instead of a cold high pressure hose. Strike Three...
“What's wrong baby?” May cooed in Strike One's ear.
Strike jumped and cried out softly in surprise. He hadn't even heard her he was so lost in his own regrets and his past.
“What's wrong?” May asked again, Strike looked down and found his claws extended to their fullest point.
Strike sighed deeply, “I was thinking about the company again.”
“It's okay, it's okay now, They're gone. they're all gone.” She soothed him, much like a mother consoling a son who has just woken up from a bad dream.
Strike detached himself from May's embrace, as wonderful as it felt, to gaze lovingly upon her features, so warm and caring. The two once again resumed their passionate kiss.
Barb's voice cut through the love created fog of both their minds. “I'll leave you two to be alone.” Her voice was filled with hurt and jealousy. It was no secret that Barb had strong feelings for Strike One, they had actually “slept” together once, before Strike found out that it was not acceptable to sleep with a woman while dating another. He had been so mad when he found out he had almost quit the team. Barb left the poolhouse as Strike turned back to Ben.
“So they let you out did they?”
“Yeah,” Ben chuckled and ran his hand through his headfur. “And boy were the nurses glad that they did.”
“Oh,” May cocked her head at the bear.
“Trying to wear out that little buzzer were you?” Strike asked curiously.
Ben was trying not to laugh, “No, I just don't think the nurse expected to walk into the room and find two of their male patients making out.” Again everyone burst into laughter, Ben's however was short lived as he breathed in a sharp hiss, and grabbed his side. Laughing had aggravated his broken ribs.
“Are you okay?” Strike ran over to Ben with May right behind him.
“Yeah, Yeah, I'll be all right.” the pain was clear in his voice, but they both knew Ben would deny it if he was asked so neither bothered.
“Don't worry, “ Strike growled, “We'll find the shits that did this to you.” He slammed his fist into the palm of the other hand so hard that May was sure she could feel the force of the impact. She looked up to Strike's face, in his eyes she could see the fires of rage, and it sent a shiver down her spine. “We'll find them, and then. . . “ There was a certain finality to the tone of his voice.
Strike and Ben relaxed at the table, the room was well light by the florescent lights overhead. There was little in the room except for the full length corporate table and a dozen chairs. The only other feature was a large screen on the one wall, behind the head of the table and a small computer terminal. A small human, standing about 5'8”, dressed in a business suit entered the room. He set the briefcase he carried down on the table and released the latches. Before he opened the briefcase he looked over at Strike, “Sir, I would ask that I may speak with my client alone.”
Strike's ire began to rise up and his body mimicked this. Ben reached out and put his hand on Strike's arm. “It's okay man, sit down.” Ben rationalized. “Strike has been appointed as my partner's representative, as he is still being held for observation in the hospital and can not attend these proceedings.”
“Very well.” he was not pleased about this and it showed, but he had to accept it if Strike had been chosen to represent Mark's interests in the case. The briefcase opened and a stack of papers and files were drawn forth. These were spread out in front of the lawyer's chair. “Let us begin shall we, I am Cameron Wilder, I have been chosen by your employer to represent your case in the preparation for pressing of charges should the police locate the assailants. Now, Mr. . . . “ Cameron shuffled through his papers for a moment. “Curious.” He muttered. “I'm afraid I don't have a last name recorded here for you.” He glanced at Ben and continued shuffling through his papers.
“Don't have one, used to, but I left that behind with the army.”
“I'll need to know your last name if I am to represent you in these matters.”
“Thalarctos.” Ben muttered.
“I beg your pardon?” Cameron questioned skeptically.
“Thalarctos. That's T-H-A-L-A-R-C-T-O-S-.” Ben recited irritated at the formality of having to use his full name. The human simply looked at Ben as though the bear was trying to sell him a used car. “The scientific name of the polar bear is Thalarctos Maritimus, of the family Ursidae. It's a kind of a joke based on my species, so I don't like to talk about it much.” He explained.
“Very well, I have your partners name on file so we can now begin the actual analysis of the situation. I have your report to the police here, is there anything else that I should know as your lawyer?” Silence. “Like maybe why you think they attacked you.”
Two white paws thundered against the table as Ben stood up, “I don't know why they attacked me, Anti-morph, Anti-gay, maybe somebody we pissed off in our line of work, how the fuck should I know?” His voice raged practically knocking Cameron Wilder out of his chair.
“I'm sorry Mr. . . . Ben, you know, if you want you can have your last name changed. Anyways I merely wanted to know if you had any ideas as to why you were targeted.”
“If I did, I would have told the police about it.”
“Of course, sorry to have upset you.”
All this aggravation and shouting was starting to hurt Ben's ribs again, Strike could tell by looking at the bear's face. He knew Cameron couldn't tell it, humans weren't as good at reading the subtle expressions of a muzzle, and he didn't know Ben. “All right, enough of this bullshit, fart-assin' around, what about the guy they found in the hotel room?” Strike tried to steer the discussion in the way of the information they wanted. Information that without resorting to illegal activities, which didn't mean much in this line of work, only a lawyer or a cop could access.
“He claims to have come upon the scene and found a number of men in black ski masks, attacking you and the gentleman you are representing, Mr. Strike. One of the assailants struck him with a baseball bat a few times rendering him unconscious.”
“What was he doing in the hotel?”
“He says he came by to repay some money he owed to a friend who is a bellhop at the hotel, the bellhop corroborates his story.”
“So what happened to him?” Strike had a gut feeling he knew the answer but he had to make sure.
“The police didn't have any evidence that he had anything to do with the assault, they had to release him.”
“So who was he?”
“I have that information however, I'm not sure I should be telling you Mr. Strike. I can easily find out anything you wish to know from the person in question. “
Strike stood up knocking the chair he had been sitting in over. He strode around the table slowly towards where Cameron sat. “Please Mr. Strike, sit down, let's discuss this.” Cameron was starting to get scared, big mistake, never let a cat know you are scared, they love to chase things. Strike lashed out wrapping his hand around the lawyer's throat and lifted him out of chair as though he were a rag doll.
He roared in the man's face, his hair swaying backwards as though he were in a cartoon. “Now listen up pencil neck, either you tell me what I want to know, or I'll pop your head like a zit. Then I'll tell the boss to get somebody down here who wants to help us solve this thing, not fuck us around.” His fist tightened around the human's throat causing him to gasp and choke trying to force some air through the Tiger's iron grip. Wilder's face started turning red before Strike released the human dropping him four feet to the floor.
The LED read-out on the wall of the van read 13:53, as the two huge men performed a last minute weapons check. Strike One slapped the clips into his twin Ingram Mark 10 Submachine guns. The bottom of the clip was painted white indicating standard ammunition, as opposed to red which was explosive tipped, or blue for armor piercing. Strike looked over at the other occupant of the heavy duty van. It had to be specially constructed because between Strike and Ben it was carrying three quarters of a Ton of manpower, and that wasn't including the inch thick steel plating on the inside of the vehicle or equipment. “You sure you're okay man?” The one black clad figure asked the other.
Both men were wearing their covert operation uniforms, under which they went by the team name of “The Outfield”, Their individual handles were “Center Field” and “Pinch Hitter”. Their covert operations uniforms were black body armor specially constructed to offer sexual and racial neutrality.
“Yeah, just as long as nobody makes me fire this thing.” Ben commented heaving “Ricky” his .50 Caliber Browning heavy machine-gun into a ready position and testing the strain on his ribs. It hurt like hell, but he could at least lift the gun. Normally he would have had no problem lifting, or even firing Ricky, but with if he were to try to fire without the tripod, right now it would cause significant damage to his already broken ribs.
“Not much chance of that, these are just street thugs, I think they'll shit themselves just seeing us with these weapons.”
“Yeah, after all Outfield has a reputation of getting them job done regardless of the cost to themselves or innocent victims.”
“Unfortunately, we may one day have to act on that reputation.” Strike pointed out somberly.
“Well let's hope it's not today, that's all we can do. The outfield has advantages that Northern Front doesn't. We don't have to worry about public relations and that crap.”
Strike glanced again at the clock, 13:55. “Let's go.” he slapped his teammate lightly on the shoulder and applied his own full face helmet.
The two giants opened the back of the van and dropped down onto the street. Closing the doors of the unmarked black van the proceeded rapidly up to the apartment building. A brief interrogation had brought a confession from the witness to the assault. He was no witness, he had been involved in the assault and his friends had been unable to evacuate him, so they took all incriminating evidence and left him there. It had actually been Ben who had rendered him unconscious, his confession also linked the bellhop who had tricked Ben into opening the door. This building was where that bellhop and several other members of the gang responsible lived. It was time to extract a little bit of justice, Outfield style.
They entered into the two story building which had 6 rooms and a communal laundry room on each floor. The room they wanted was #8, they didn't even pause as they made their way up to the second floor. There it was room 8, right beside the laundry room. Strike walked up to the door and knocked softly, pressing his other gloved hand over the peephole. In a moment there was the sound of a door unlocking and it opened. It was the same bellhop who had brought the “message” for Ben and Mark. Strike bowled ahead pushing him to the side and pulling out his ingrams. There were three other men in the room, all under the age of 25 Strike would guess. “Anyone who screams or tries to leave gets shot.” Strike threatened, his voice made that much more sinister by the distortion mechanism installed in all the Outfield helmets.
According to their source the man in this room had one room mate who was a member of the gang. There were also two other gang members sharing another room in the building, and a third who lived in the building with an uninvolved roommate. Ben stepped into the room, pointing Ricky at the bellhop. “Move,” Ben ordered, “Go sit with the others.” He allowed the bellhop by him to comply. Strike gestured to the group with his ingrams, “Who lives in this room?”
Two of their hostages were quick to point out the other two. Typical street scum, turn on their own kind faster than hyenas at feeding time. “You two are from, room #3?” The two who lived in this room eagerly nodded. These humans were so predictable, if the two were in trouble the were going to make sure their friends were in it with them. “Call room #1, get your friend in here.”
The bellhop reached over slowly to pick up the phone. “ Turn on the speaker phone, and sound casual, just ask her to come over.” Ben ordered. It didn't matter that she hadn't been personally involved in the attack, this whole gang was going down.
The human dialed a phone number and it rang twice before it was picked up. “Hello?” A woman's voice on the other end answered.
“Yeah, is . . . uh, Is Michelle there.” He was trying not to sound too nervous.
“No, she's at work. She should be home in about 15 minutes, is there something I can tell her for ya.”
“Yeah, just have her come over to Lennie's, room #8, I need to talk to her.”
“No problem.” She hung up.
“Now we wait for her, first one of you to talk before she gets here, gets shot.” Strike threatened.
About 10 minutes passed, no one had tried to talk after one of the guests from room 3 had tried to and taken a silenced ingram shot to the knee. Fortunately his friends had clamped their hands across his mouth, if he had screamed they would have all been shot on the spot and they knew it. Finally there was a knocking on the door, Strike gestured with one ingram for the bellhop to go to the door. He peeked through the hole, “It's her.” he reported.
“Open the door and act casual.” He opened the door ands asked her to come in. Once she was in Ben shut the door and blocked it. Strike held a single finger to where his lips would be, signaling for her silence.
“Sit down.” Ben ordered. Once she had complied Strike took over the interrogation.
“Now that everyone's here we can start, the one person who tells us what we want to know has the choice to live. Who is your leader?”
“We don't know.” Michelle cried.
“Who tells you when and who to attack?”
“His name . . .” Bellhop's roommate began but was cut off by the barrel of an ingram being pressed into his mouth.
Strike turned to Michelle, “let's ask our grand prize winner shall we?”
“His name is Jacob Turner, he contacts us by phone.”
“Who decides who you attack?”
“Any member of the gang can phone in a target, and then our contact assembles a team.” The desperation was obvious in Michelle's voice, the others were practically jumping to answer in hopes of saving their own life.
“And what do you call them in for?”
Michelle hesitated for a moment. The bellhops roommate blurted out, “I'll tell you.”
Strike turned his one ingram directly at him again, “Strike Two.” he declared in a demonic monotone.
“What do you call them in for?” Ben demanded angrily, he wanted to know which type of pointless bigotry had gotten him and his lover hospitalized.
“Gays.” Michelle muttered. “But I'm not involved in any of the attacks.” She defended rapidly.
“Let me ask you, Why did you join this gang?” Strike wanted to get inside their heads, figure out what their motives were.
Michelle paused for a moment to consider. “I originally joined because my boyfriend was a member.”
“Is he a member now?”
“No, he's in jail now, for stealing cars.”
“Why did you stay after he was arrested?”
“I made some friends in the gang, and I don't believe in homosexuality, although I don't believe in the attacks either.” The last part she added as an afterthought, possibly simply for her own defense.
“Who else do you know in this gang?”
“David Wi . . .” The roommate began but was cut off by a shot through his head. Blood splattered out the back of his cranium, spraying gore across the wall behind him. His body slumped down against the wall and slid down leaving a vertical smear on the nice striped wallpaper.
“I don't know anyone other than these guys.”
“All right NOW the rest of you.”
The other three stammered out a stream of names which Strike made a mental note of to track down later. “Thank you for your cooperation everyone.” Strike nodded. He turned his gun on the first of the two from room 3, and pumped five shots into his chest. He lay there shaking for a moment, before making a horrendous choking and flooding his mouth with blood, coughed up from his punctured lung. Strike turned to the other guest and pressed his ingram against his throat.”
“No, please . . .” he begged, tears pouring down his cheeks, there wasn't even the soft hiss associated with a silencer, as that sound was absorbed by the human's throat. More blood splattered across the walls. The bed was now getting soaked in the gore flooding from the three corpses.
There was only Michelle and the Bellhop left. Strike turned from the bellhop, who was huddled in the corner now, to Ben. “Would you care to do the honors Pinch Hitter?” He offered, chuckling.
“I would be delighted.” Even the voice distortion couldn't hide the pleasure in Ben's voice now, a chance to get back at the weasel who had tricked him into opening the door. Ben walked over to the cowering figure, seized him by the throat and lifted up, choking him. The bellhop just hung there, kicking and prying at Ben's hand. Ben decided he wanted to kill him, while he was still conscious, and placed him on the floor again. Then Ben grabbed the human's head, and the air was filled with a sickening crack as Ben proceeded to Rotate the human's head 180 degrees. The mutilated body crashed to the floor on it's chest, with his face still pointed at the ceiling. All this was too much for Michelle, who tumbled off of the bed, onto her knees. She could feel her stomach twitching and then it hit, A brownish stream poured forth from her mouth, spreading the contents of her stomach across the floor. This room was going to stink, when someone finally came looking for these retards.
Michelle continued to vomit for as long as her body would allow. She continued to dry heave for a moment, even after there was nothing left to puke up, she had even thrown up all the acids in her stomach. Finally almost ten minutes later, she was done, although Michelle certainly didn't feel any better. Strike lifted her up by her underarms and gently set her down in a standing position.
“You have a choice.” Strike explained, somewhat sympathetic, “You can join your friends, “ He gestured to the bodies. “or you can continue to live. However we can't exactly have you running around, and so you will live as a live in servant, or slave if you prefer that term, to some friends of mine. What is your decision?”
Michelle looked down at her friends, she didn't want to end up like that, no matter what the cost. “I want to live.”
“Good choice, Ma’am. Good choice.”