New Recruits: Escapeby Paul McManus
Witherspoon told us where we could find all of the evidence we’d need to put Stick and his whole organisation behind bars. How could we resist.
The actual arrest of James Nunn, or Stick as we knew him, had to be carefully planned; he wasn’t just another criminal. After a variety of methods were discussed, we finally settled on the quick-snatch-and-leave idea; anything more elaborate could turn into a battle. Not everyone in The Dip was on Stick’s payroll but those that were tended to be rather nasty, and looking for a chance to show their support.
We got into position the night before the mission so as to avoid any chance of being seen. As far as hiding places went it was very nice. It was a large studio apartment fitted with everything we needed, right down to soundproofing. The street below was filled with bars, clubs and all of the associated activity they encouraged. The apartment’s owner was also the owner of a restaurant on the street below. That was where we were going to grab Stick the next day, when he called in for a business meeting with one of his captains.
Our arrival at the apartment had been very carefully planned with each of us wearing a disguise so that we looked like just another local; and that could mean pretty much anything.
Sabre was the first one in the apartment so when I arrived he was ready to greet me. I don’t suppose he looked unusual to any of the locals but to me he had a quality that just seemed to ooze army officer. It didn’t matter that he was dressed casually or that he affected a shuffle; poise is difficult to hide.
“Any problems getting here Martin?” He wasn’t on edge but I knew how important it was to him that we pulled this off. We all really wanted to get this guy, but for Steve it was an acknowledgement that we could do more than crack heads. He had something to prove.
“No, I got a few offers from some interesting ladies though; I was quite tempted.”
He smiled but I knew he wasn’t comfortable. I couldn’t help myself. Steve wasn’t really a prude but he struggled with my sense of humour. I think he worried about how serious I was at times-so did I come to that.
Helen and Pete arrived together so he could carry her armour in a backpack, and besides, she was the most vulnerable of us if she wasn’t ready for trouble.
Jenny arrived alone and looking ready for a night on the town.
We were protected by some undercover cops who were lurking around the area, and Steve had the place well and truly covered with cameras and stuff. We felt pretty relaxed, despite being in the middle of the enemy camp so to speak.
We all sat around watching tv and looking at the streets below. I was sat on the balcony with Jenny, just passing the time when she asked me an unusual question.
“How far are you from there do you think?” She nodded down into the crowds below. A big bloke was openly selling drugs to two girls, probably prostitutes.
“What, you mean?”
“You know, them, the bad guys, the enemy, the evil doers.” She smiled.
“As a person? A bloody long way I hope.”
“Yeah, but why? Because of your parents and where you were brought up or just because you aren’t like that. I don’t mean the petty scum bags, I mean the criminals who are living well and getting richer; just like you could…or I could.” She was still looking into the street and resting her chin on her arms.
“I don’t know, I suppose it’s a bit of both really. It’s the whole nature nurture debate isn’t it. I couldn’t imagine selling drugs to kids or beating people up for money if that’s what you mean, but then if I’d lived here all my life maybe it wouldn’t seem all that wrong.”
“But that’s what we do isn’t it, beat people up for money. We get paid money, the city saves money, Christ, it’ll even make money when Stick’s assets are seized. Are we so different?” She was looking right into my eyes by this point and she really seemed to want an answer.
“I’d rather be doing what I do for a decent wage than doing what they do,” I gestured down, “for a fortune. I’m not saying I couldn’t be on the other side if things had been different, but for “Me” this is it. Why, do you feel drawn to the dark side?” I was making a joke but she did seem odd.
Jenny stared at me for a fraction of a second too long before smiling, “Hmm, black would be a pleasant change for me.” She laughed and kissed my cheek before going back inside. That little episode left me with something to think about I can tell you.
Apart from a few games of cards and Helen and Pete arguing about the morality of eating meat, it was an uneventful night. Helen was a vegetarian; Pete really wasn’t.
By 11.30am the next morning we were all in position. Casca’s restaurant fronted on to a pedestrianised square which was filled with people going about their daily business. The dealers and prostitutes were still around but things were a lot calmer than the night before-even Lockway’s denizens had to have some rest.
We were fanned out in a half circle surrounding the restaurant doorway. Of course we were all in costume so we had to be discreet. Scarlet was the only real problem with her armour so she was on our apartment’s balcony, ready to jump down when we moved.
The plan was for Sabre and Bombardier to rush Stick’s bodyguards; there should have been four; while I kept them busy with my discs. Scarlet would be on her way, ready to deal with any unforeseens; this was Sticks territory in every sense. At the first opportunity, Pulse would grab the bad guy and fly him to the roof of the multi-storey car park three streets away. From there he would be bundled into a chopper and away. We’d make ourselves scarce in a Fastfox APC hidden in the back of a trailer around the corner. It was fast, armoured and good enough for the Priminister.
Bang on 12 noon our target’s car appeared, pulling up onto the pedestrian area, followed by another car with two men in it. The bodyguards all got out and had a casual look around before opening the door for their boss. Then Stick was out of the car and walking to the restaurant.
Sabre’s voice rang through my earpiece and I could already see him moving as his coat dropped to the floor. I used my metal disc to fly between the group, distracting them, and the hardened rubber one to rough them up. They didn’t have time to see Bombardier and Sabre approaching.
None of them had chance to draw a weapon; Sabre was a black barrage of kicks and punches. Stick would have ran but I gave him a practised tap on the head and he went down. Bombardier got there just as Pulse landed.
Then things got exciting. Somebody in the restaurant was on the ball and opened fire with a semi automatic through the plate glass window.
Sabre shouted to Pulse, “Pulse, get him and go. Now!” She didn’t need telling twice and was in the air within seconds.
Scarlet had appeared and was running at full speed towards the gunman, bullets sparking on her armour. Sabre was ahead of her and aiming for the doorway to check for any more surprises. Me and Bombardier made sure the square was clearing ok and watched for any more shooters.
“Sab—!” Scarlet’s voice came over the radio just before she came flying through the hole where the window used to be.
I have to tell you, for a big bloke Bomb could move when he needed to-all that rugby at university I suppose.
We both saw her at the same time; I latched on to her with my telekinesis but I could only slow her down; it was Bomb who caught her. She wasn’t unconcious but she couldn’t stand. I was just about to contact Sabre when he came somersaulting through the same gap Scarlet had just shot through. One of his stun grenades exploded behind him, filling the restaurant with smoke. Even before he’d stopped moving he spoke, “Run!”
My heart was hammering like a drum; what was happening?
Bombardier scooped Scarlet over his shoulder and we ran. “What’s going on Boss?”
“Just run, I’ll tell you when we’re on our way.” He was out of breath.
As we ran the short distance to the trailer and the comfort of an armoured vehicle, I heard some more gunfire but it didn’t seem to be too close to us. Anyway, I wasn’t concerned about thugs with guns; I wanted to know who had sent Scarlet flying and caused Sabre to break a sweat.
Bomb ripped the padlock off the trailer’s doors and we scrambled into the APC. Sabre was just behind us. I was driving and I gunned the engine so that we flew out of our hiding place like a bullet.
As soon as we were on the move I felt safer, especially with the dashboard lit up like the space shuttle. I didn’t need to worry too much about controlling things; the onboard computer was in charge and we were in full Escape and Evade Mode.
I turned around to look into the red-lit cabin behind me. Scarlet was herself again but Bombardier still had an arm protectively over her shoulder. She went to lift her face plate but Sabre stopped her, “We’re not safe yet Scarlet, keep it down.”
Pete went to speak but I beat him to it, “What happened back there and why aren’t we safe yet?” I don’t mind admitting I was rattled; not terrified, just rattled. Terrified came later.
Scarlet spoke first, “It was a mutant, a strong one.”
Sabre took over, “His name’s Hob; he’s imported muscle from down south. The Ministry lost sight of him in London three weeks ago; England’s Own have been getting ready to take him and his associates out but he must have got word. It looks like this is where he’s been hiding out. I don’t think this was a trap but I’m pretty sure we’re the reason he was brought in--he must have cost a fortune. We found him before he found us, that’s all.” For all his calm, Sabre didn’t look confident.
The APC suddenly swerved dramatically and I turned around just in time to see a jet black figure take a swing at the side view-port. He was completely hairless and bulging with muscle
The armour plating buckled under the impact and I jerked my head back in shock.
The computer responded by releasing a powerful electric burst, accompanied by a cloud of tear gas.
We were speeding away and our attacker was nowhere in sight but I wasn’t reassured. How the hell had he caught up to us?
Then he appeared as we slowed for a tight bend. And that’s exactly what he did, appeared, in a blurred haze-a teleporter.
I heard a scramble in the back and then we hit him. I got a close up through the front screen. He braced for impact with his chest and lifted the front of the APC up, using our own momentum to flip us. Thank god I was strapped in. Safety first, that’s me.
I was disorientated for a moment but then the training kicked in and I was scrambling out. The back hatch was already open and Sabre was out but Bomb and Scarlet weren’t as fast or as agile. In a quick glance I noticed Bomb was bleeding from the head.
My radio was just static; as was everyone else’s, I was later to find out-a bi-product of Hob’s teleporting ability.
When I got outside I wished I hadn’t. The air smelt of Sabre’s concussion grenades but they hadn’t done any good. He was dodging and weaving as fast as I’d ever seen him but this jet black giant was coming too close. Then he caught him.
Sabre was just coming out of a tucked roll between Hob’s legs when a backhand swipe caught him a glancing blow to the ribs. He spun like a top and dropped to the floor.
This all happened just as the three of us were getting to our feet.
Scarlet was the first to react when Hob started walking towards the stunned figure of our leader. She screamed, to get his attention and swung a charging haymaker just as he turned. He seemed surprised when the blow caught his chin and staggered him, but at the same time he grabbed her other arm and lifted her into the air, roaring as he did so.
Even without comms, and through her helmet, I heard Helen scream.
Bombardier and I hit him at the same time. He shoulder charged the monster in the stomach and I swung my metal disc as hard and fast as my brain would let me.
Hob cast Scarlet aside, her arm bent crazily, and swatted at the disc that was hammering into his face. Bombadier was in a frenzy, punching with everything he had.
I took a risk and left the mutant’s face alone long enough to drive my weapon into the back of his knee. He buckled.
Bombardier was panting for breath but he saw the opportunity and jump kicked into Hob’s face.
The blow connected and I saw desperation in the black eyes as the mutant began to fall. But suddenly his bulging arm lashed out to grab Bombardier’s leg and pull him down with him. Within seconds Hob’s bulk was on top of my friend and the colossal arms were hammering down on him.
I resumed lashing the black mutant around the head but he just hunched forward and ignored me, continuing to beat Bomardier, who was desperately trying to protect himself.
I was terrified and frustrated, nothing I could do seemed to hurt him.
Scarlet ran forward weakly and kicked Hob in the head but it only distracted him and the pain of movement caused her to crumple to the floor. From where I was stood I saw a pool of thick blood flowing from where I knew Pete’s head must be.
I was still hitting Hob as hard as I could and it must have been bothering him; he stopped punching, stood up and turned to me. I stepped back involuntarily. Suddenly, the ogre swung back around, grimacing.
I saw Sabre stood, holding his ribs with one arm and the other outstretched, pointing at Hob. He had thrown something which had stuck in the black flesh of the mutant’s back and was burning whitely. Hob screamed and attacked my protector.
When you’re in mortal danger you get a burst of adrenalin and you can do things that would normally be impossible. That’s how I managed to pick up the wrecked APC and slap it on top of the walking nightmare, from a height of about thirty feet. He disappeared under the hunk of metal and I made the most of it.
I ran over to Scarlet and helped her to her feet; Sabre was with me. Then we went to Pete; he looked to be in a very bad way; I wasn’t so good myself. I remember trying to talk but my mouth was full of blood and I knew my ears were the same; I’d gone past my limit.
The wreckage of the vehicle started to move and raise up. Sabre tried to adopt a fighting stance but winced and held his ribs as he straightened up. Scarlet could barely stand and I was in a daze.
A beam of blinding white light hit the wreckage of the vehicle just above the now visible black legs. The metal bubbled as the flashing energy hit it. A terrible scream came from beneath and the legs disappeared in a blurred haze--Hob made his escape.
“Come on, there’s transport and back-up on the way.” Pulse looked like a glowing angel at that moment and I had never been happier to see her, especially in white.
Hob was well out of our league so we did well to put him down, even as close as it was. Sabre, Pulse and I had to hold the fort by our selves until Scarlet’s arm healed, and we were without Bombardier for three months. Even with his incredible metabolism he’d nearly died from the terrible head injuries he’d received.
Stick was in custody along with a great many of his associates and The Dip was a slightly safer place than it had been.
Oh, and lot of innocent people on a train, and a masked vigilante called The Enforcer, got the justice they deserved. Not a bad start.
Militia is © and ™ 2006 Paul McManus.