Capes Issue #10

Carpe Diem

3 August 2010: 0545 hours.

A cold stay underground or a quick exit to a warm holiday location? Gunship uploads Wraith’s contact number – perhaps not realizing he can now trace her – and blasts off, contour-chasing away. Wraith ghosts across western Freedom and joins the rest of the Massive. They’re standing atop a tower block near the Centurion statue. Dawn is close; the eastern sky has changed to a dark pearl color.

“So no-one’s disagreeing!”

“Sure, I ain’t sayin’ no at-all.”

“Just checking… Hi Wraith! You probably heard… we’re planning to head back to the lodge and get the drop on the rest of the bad guys.”

“Yes, I heard that, Holmes. They’ll be expecting Gunship. They’ll be disappointed. She’s gone… and I have hopes of turning her.”

Skylark’s eyebrows quirk up:

Turning her?”

“I believe she wants to get out from under her father’s power. I offered her my help in future, should she need it.”

“Oh, right. Yeah, you might be onto it there Wraith. The girl’s got Daddy issues for sure.”

“I’m not sure how much you overheard…”

“I left when I heard her team are about to hit the lodge…”

“Then you didn’t hear two important pieces of intelligence: Gunship is Buttonman’s daughter…”

At which, the Massive exclaim in their various ways…

“…and she named the team she’s been working with: we already know Jack, Noose and Blizzard of course, but she confirms Envision is working with them, and the teleporter is named Kid Bolt for some reason.”

“Nice work Wraith!”

“Yeah, nice goin’ dude!”

“I think we finally know what we’re up against,” concludes Performer, “the teleporter – Kid Bolt – is the key to stopping them leaving, and Noose is super-sneaky so we need to watch out for him. Envision can throw illusions around so my Light of Truth is needed first up.”

“So let’s move out: I think we all know who we deal with?”

“Well, not really,” objects Nightfall, “I don’t know if I have a definite target…”

“You were told off to nail Noose!”

“Yeah but…”

Aw fer Crizzake! How’s dis: Me an’ Nightfall an’ Skylark whale on Jack; den we whale on who’s next an’ so on!”

OK, that sounds doable.”

“Dat means Holmes, yer wid’ us ta start wid’.”

“And I’ll be waiting my opportunity against the teleporter,” reminds Wraith.

“My Light of Truth should do the job,” reiterates Performer, “I just need to be high to get a good coverage.”

“If’n ya high, ya’ll be a target. Down in d’ trees’d be better…”

“OK, I’ll watch my chance. It should be easy enough starting at treetop height.”

Hunting Lodge Ambush

0555 hours: Dawn, Wharton State Forest

Hovering invisibly and intangibly above the lodge, Wraith has a panoramic view of the set-up. On the south-west in the tree-line Performer floats amidst the tree-tops, while roughly opposite across the clearing and also hidden just behind the first trees lurks the rest of the Massive. Bad Tripp looks whimsically out of place in the natural landscape, but he’s a good shield for Nightfall, Skylark and Holmes. Any non-enhanced optics will not pick them up, Wraith notes: though the tree-tops are glowing in the dawn, amidst the trees it’s still very dark.

Movement! Jack and Noose boldly advance from the trees to the west, Jack moving to cover behind the three-wheeled GMC, Noose sliding right up to the gaping hole where the front door was. As Tripp tenses ready to spring, Performer slips around behind them and unleashes his powerful spell: not only does he spot Envision hiding in the tree-line on the west of the clearing, he also spots the real Jack, while the two obvious targets become transparent!

“Those are decoy images! I have Jack and Envision below me, just inside the trees!” Performer snaps. Jack raises a very menacing, large-muzzled gun as he seeks for the source of the voice above him!

Nightfall, who has been lining up a shot on the mirages, hesitates. Holmes also waits: he’s hoping Kid Bolt will be revealed.

Tripp launches himself across the clearing and without ceremony smashes down onto Jack! Skylark sprints across in Tripp’s wake, aiming herself at Envision. Jack, staggered by the massive blow from Tripp, is by no means out of the fight: he shrugs off the stunning effect, angles his gun in against his body and blasts Tripp in the chest! Nearby, the mistress of illusion sends a mental lance into Skylark’s brain, toppling her unconscious: but instead of following up her advantage, Envision sprints away north. Nightfall races as though to tackle her, but feints a near-miss and instead plants a tracer bug on her. He finishes his sprint beside Skylark, taking in her state with a lightning glance. Performer slips effortlessly around the clearing away from Jack to hover in the north: he attempts to bring Envision down but fails. Tripp, blood running from his chest, yanks Jack up and throws him with full force towards the lodge wall: Jack blinks out and reappears behind Tripp, but his momentum continues and he smashes into the back of Tripp’s head! Tripp grunts, stunned, but Jack bounces off him, unconscious. Above the merry crowd Wraith narrows his eyes: Noose is crawling up onto the lodge roof from the rear! He passes this on, still watching for Kid Bolt to show.

Guys! Blizzard is flying in from the north!” calls Holmes, sending a powerful mental blast at the spandex-clad woman, though without any obvious effect. Performer flings a telekinetic pulse at her, also without any obvious effect. She is checked in her flight by Jack’s body as it is flung violently by Bad Tripp: the force drives her back near Holmes, though she seems unhurt and in fact catches and holds Jack. Noose, perhaps realizing he is a little late on the scene, slinks over the roof and down. Wraith spots a stealthy form at the south end of the clearing, nearly below where Performer began: Bolt has at last made an appearance! This is what Wraith has been waiting for: he sinks to solid footing, and his blaster smashes a ray into the hidden form!

Noose follows Envision out of the scrimmage and away to the north-west. Nightfall hooks around the clearing, coming unexpectedly from Kid Bolt’s left and delivering a crescent kick to the head: the young teleporter flips 270 degrees and drops unconscious! Holmes blasts Blizzard again, and again she shakes it off. Tripp, blood still running from the gunshot wound, leaps across the clearing again and slams into the flying weather-witch, grappling her but failing to make much impression, though she does have to drop Jack to the ground below. Jack’s really not having a good day!

Blizzard surrenders as more and more of the Massive rank up against her. She frowns, and speaks with a soft Slavic accent:

“This is in the business, you know: we are just… contractors. What you want for to go doing that to Jack? He is taking it personal when you keep picking on him!”

Justice by the Numbers

0600 hours: Wharton State Forest

Tripp’s got Blizzard’s arms chicken-winged up behind her back: the spandex is doing kind things to her already-good figure, and Tripp ain’t complainin’.

Who put the team together?” queries Holmes.

“It is a… pick-up team,” she shrugs, eyeing the assorted Massive members in assessing fashion. “I work with Jack, Noose an’ Envision before, but Kid Bolt and Gunship is both new to me.”

“Got a contact? We wanna number for th’ Broker…”

“Oh, sure, but it won’t do you no good: Broker he always works through cut-out and remote. Let me loose, Big & Tall for Gents…” Blizzard massages her wrists, glancing up at Tripp out of the corner of her sloe eyes, and scribbles a number down. Holmes detects another number she’s not talking about, and notes it down: it seems to be a direct line to Broker! Tripp continues:

“Where wuz ya workin’ outta?”

“It is a boat down to Riverside.” She describes its location.

“Copy that!” replies Wraith as they update him, “I’m not having any luck tracking Envision. I’ll make my way over to the harbor.”

Nightfall and the now-recovered Skylark finish confiscating weapons, armor and equipment from the fallen and defeated. There’ll be plenty for Holmes to run post-cogs on and a few trophies for the Armory wall.

“You’ll be handed over to the law,” Performer tells Blizzard sternly. There’s a short discussion on how best to do that.

“Let’s dump dese mugs on someone I c’n get a favor from,” Bad Tripp suggests. On the others’ assent, he slips away round the other side of the lodge and becomes Joe Tripley. He calls Kane’s number on his snitch phone: “Yo Barb! I just heard – the Freedom City Massive had a go-round with the Bad Boys and is gonna hand ‘em in at Central – ya wanna make the bust, be there soon!” Joe can hear Barb moving from sleepiness to wakefulness as he speaks. He pictures what she’ll be doing in the next few minutes, grins; hangs up. He becomes Bad Tripp again, and returns to the group.

“OK – Central is best.”

“This doesn’t have go down this way,” Blizzard comments, “we could maybe come to an accommodation. I have money in an account for trouble: you could get richer and I could disappear.”

Tripp seems interested: but the rest of the Massive are more interested in getting away and on with the case.

Nightfall makes sure the bindings on all three captives are secure.

“Guess ya probably been in dat position a few times,” Tripp jokes, “maybe after ya get out I’ll look ya up ta see if’n ya got any other favorites.” Blizzard eyes him as if to say, “I believe you are for turning,” but without further banter, Performer lifts the group off and swiftly away to the Central Circle.

0610 hours: FCPD HQ building

Davis and Kane are waiting out in front. Davis seems a little agitated; Kane is sipping coffee.

“Courtesy of the Freedom City Massive!” Holmes proclaims. “These are all connected with the Jordan Airport killings, and the nightclub killings.” “Take care with this one – he’s a teleporter,” adds Performer. Davis scowls. Capes!

Tripp scowls in return: he dislikes being out in public view, even so early. The sooner they get away and complete the business with Tonifanni the better. And within the minute, the Massive, minus Wraith, head off to the Centurion statue…

0615 hours: Centurion statue

…to find that the pair of mobsters has reduced itself to a single entity. Frankie has guessed that his loyal No. 2 was maybe not so loyal… maybe he’s the reason for the hitters finding Tonifannis so easily each time… Sil’s not arguing; he’s spread over a slab of the Centurion’s pedestal far below.

Holmes “reviews” events and fills the team in: they decide to move on, with a final warning to Frankie, delivered by Bad Tripp, up close, rude, and LOUD: Frankie gets the message: he won’t be back. Performer departs, leaving the team to work the boat.

0645 hours: Riverside

“I don’t know what you clowns are all doing here,” Wraith complains as they search, “this could be booby-trapped.”

But it’s not, it’s just a temporary base; and neither Noose nor Envision come back to it. The Massive put some thought into their next move. Wraith works back through the numbers – they have three including the one they got from Frankie – but without any real success. Holmes pulls Blizzard’s mobile phone out and offers it to Skylark:

“Try phoning the cut-out, Skylark. Pretend you’re Blizzard calling in a bust and ask for instructions. Wraith?”

“Ahh, I see where you are going with this one Holmes! I’ll work up a trace.”

This time Wraith gets a real result. The cell towers triangulate the recipient to the 3rd floor of municipal hall!

“Dat’ll be Lester Hillerman… th’ guy dat’s de main cut-out between hizzoner an’ mob money,” elaborates Tripp. “’Member? Frankie tol’ us about him…”

(Frankie, in response to Tripp’s gentle line of questions about the movement of money and drugs between the major players, had explained that direct payments of dirty money to the Mayor would use Lester Hillerman as the conduit. However, the frame is not clear-cut: other funds are routed via CCC or a well-wisher’s fund or washed through the casino floor where the mayor might have a lucky streak.)

An Outside Line

0800 hours: Municipal Hall

Lester Hillerman strokes his thin little mustache nervously. The last call meant trouble! How best to cover himself? His hands fidget on his pudgy midsection. He picks up his handset, and dials a number. Over his shoulder, both Wraith and Holmes are watching and listening, unsuspected.

“Hello Ginger… is he in? I need to speak to him urgently

Hello! Yes, look things haven’t gone to plan at this juncture. It seems three of the contractors got themselves arrested when this second team interfered. No, no sign of the target. Yes, I suppose it’s the same as the desired result. Well, I’ll do my best to relax… yes so long sir.”

At the other end, the voice of Mr. Eddie has soothed Lester temporarily: but he obviously suspects things might be grim for him in the future. How swiftly he has no idea: until something swoops into him and carries him through the wall and drops him…

…into the strong arms of someone who flings him up

…to someone else who whips his mobile and wallet out and swings him over the roof

…where he is crushed in the grasp of two massive mitts and as his eyes open, they meet the glare of two burning eyes in a terrible, graffiti-scrawled face:

YA MINE MUTHA!”

Lester is dragged helplessly over to the scorched area where Panoply received his wounds: his face is rubbed along the rooftop, scraping some skin layers off.

“NOT SO GOOD FOR PANOPLY! MAYBE IT’S GONNA BE D’SAME F’R YOU!!”

Lester cowers, wriggles, and tries to plead his case as the questioning persists. He confirms Frankie’s inside tips on the way money moves between organized crime and Freedom City’s finest. New names, and some familiar, drop into the Massive’s lap: John Grant of Grant Conglomerates, Nova Communications, Da Costa Construction, Delphic Industries: they all have occasion to direct money to Mayor Moore – who sometimes knows who sent the money and why, but sometimes does not – and the other side of the coin are also familiar: the Olivantis, Big Al, and so on.

A send-off

0900 hours: Armory I

Some of the team has been working the case about 24 hours straight now. There’s a general move to break up and get some civilian time. Nightfall idly switches the radio across to his father’s favorite station. Don Phelps is on the airwaves:

“So it’s been a long long night in Freedom City: ‘All the world’s a stage’ and we have our exits and entrances. Frank the Hitter has taken his last bow.”

Don Phelps takes what sounds a lot like a drag on a cigarette.

Shakespeare, who’d think I’d still remember it?  But the fall of Frank leaves me thinking of another quote: ‘Something is rotten in the state of Freedom.’  Frank Tonifanni whacked along with his outfit in 48 hours. Police all over it but no-one in cuffs? How does that happen?

“Maybe I think too much; I should just relax – So here’s Joe Cocker: ‘Feeling alright’.”

Frankie goes ta Hollywood woulda bin better,” Tripley comments wryly. “Drop ya back ta Lincoln, Holmes?”

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