They had run into something big fifteen miles out of Jubilee. Something big and fast. And very strong if it survived the impact. Because when both men exited their seats and the vehicle, all that was found was a dented fender, and the absense of a body.
Hell, there was barely any blood.
They had been having a conversation about hunting when it happened. A subject, both men spoke of with earnest vigor.
"My closest call was a Gator, down in Florida. Bastard wanted to take me for a swim. Yours?"
They had just come off the ramp of their exit, and Ted turned his glossy, black and chrome, 18-wheller onto straight, yet, still very country road.
That's when it happened.
Something ran from the left of the road and found itself face to face with Teds front end.
There was no way to avoid the collison.
Not without all three being killed; to which case, Ted wisely chose against that Course of action. Instead, he hit his brakes, and prepared for impact.
They hit the creature with enough force to create a sound that resembled, well, something being hit by a truck.
Both men immediately got out to investigate the damage. And the carnage. To which they only found one of two.
"What the hell did I hit? Blake, you see anything?"
Blake answered, " I see what you see. A screwed up bumper, and no dead animal." Though you did hurt it. Just not much."
Blake had been kneeling three feet away from Ted and his precious truck, the latter, from which he followed a trail.
Bits of fur.
Drops of blood.
Not much either.
Nothing much of anything really.
He had turned away the usage of a flashlight to which he figured he didn't actually need. There was a pretty good moon out that night, and the skies of Texas on a winters night, lit-up like no other. He didn't know what the hell he was looking for. But he knew for sure that it wasn't dead.
And that it was probably pissed.
"We should head into the city. Whatever it is that you hit, sure as hell, isn't here, and I'm not too keen on tracking it there."
Blake said whislt looking at the dark, strech of wilderness to the left of them.
They had nothing on them that would even stratch the damn thing anyway.
"Yeah, guess your right, but damnit! This is gonna make me behind schedule. I got a delivery back up in Gotham, and then gotta head back to Alabama for Christmas with the kids."
"Could be worse."
"How in the hell?"
"You could have turned the wheel and killed all of us. In that case, your truck would still be demaged, then re-bought, and driven by someone else. All the hard work you put into this thing. Gone."
Ted thought about Blakes words and knew them true. He would rest tonight.
And crap, tommorow, before saying his goodbyes to Blake, and before getting back on the highway.
Besides, he could always use a new woman to share his bed with. This would provide him with an oppurtunity to recruit.
So they found a quaint little four star bed and breakfast called "Red Rubys Inn," where they made their check-in.
And then Ted, checked out.
The next day things went smoother. They were both awake at 7:00 am.
Surprising, considering that they didn't make it into Jubilee, let alone a bed, until well past midnight. So they hadn't prepared themselve's, for just how large the place was.
Jubilee, was founded sometime in 1818 and made a small boom in the farming industry.
But it was the couple dozen high school state championships, and successful college to pro atheletic prospects in later times, that made this once humble "Cow Town," into quite the city.
Barnes N Nobles.
They all came flooding in to what they must have viewed as un-molested, territory. Which made Jubilee a place of value amongst more notable Texas metros, like Houston, Dallas, and Arlington.
So they got a little lost.
However with the help a few locals, they found the number of a bodyshop said to be the best.
They all said that.
"Mr. Kelly. We here at Top Bodies Auto would like to say that we appreciate your buisness, and promise you there is no problem we can't fix in three hours."
That's what the smooth-talker on the phone said, in his honey-baked southern drawl.
"Bit of a stretch."
"Sir, I personally vow you will be taken care of, and that we only provide our family with the best in automotive care. And everyone's family!"
The guy practically sang that last part. So Ted had them send a tow-ruck to the ruby, and then he and Blake walked two blocks, to a Dunkin Doughnuts, even though the Continital Breakfast, at the red was promised.
Then they returned to their room, where Ted showered, shaved, and the other thing.
Like clockwork, three hours later, Top Bodies called to report to the initially skeptical truck driver, that his vehicle was ready to go.
"Good luck hombre, maybe I'll be seeing you in the future."
"Hopefully. Take care."
And once the goodbye's were exchanged, Ted was out the door. And Blake was once again alone. Like he had grown accustumed.
But atleast he could unpack.
He began by systematically taking apart his essential carriers.
First he removed his shirts, which were all form-fitting, and bought from American Eagle. A store, Blake oddly found himself with the capacity to appreciate.
Then his pants. All jeans. And all the same two colors.
Black and Blue.
Also American Eagle. Then he removed a few knives, which he always carried, because he slept better with a few under his pillow. A Bluray Player, and a few dozen, limitless-credit cards, provided by the Tax-payer by way of Amanda Waller.
He could not deny that he was compensated nicely for his services rendered with the Secret Six.
But the bitch owed him much more.
After everything was unpacked, Blake called down to the front desk to notify them of the fact that, he intented to be a permenant resident.
And why not?
It was as good a place as any. And its not like he couldn't afford it. He even offered to pay Ted's truck expenses, but was turned away with a, "Don't sweat it kid. That's what insurance is for."
So he sat in his room and trashed everything not needed, then he walked to his kitchen and popped a burger from the hotels Kitchen into his rooms microwave. As he prepared to eat, something caught his eye, as he took a seat on one of the twin-beds.
It was the last one of his bags.
The only one he had not opened.
The bag carrying his Catman costume.
He placed the burger down on the bed and made his away arcoss the room to the bed he had actually slept in. The one nearest the balcony. As a Mercenary, he had learned that a good escape is a good thing to have.
And as a super villian, he just become intimate with heights. They had become, oddly, a close friend and it was not by accident that he and Ted were given a floor on the sixth floor of the building.
He opened up his duffel and removed his tannish uniform. Still torn from heavy use, and intense excercise whislt in character.
Still covered in Tommys blood.
"Damn. Jade, if only thing's could have been diffrent."
But they weren't different. They weren't different, and would never be good again. Not for him. And not for Jade. And especially not for Thomas "Tommy" Jr.
Ted couldn't have been more pleased then he already was to see his baby, oiled-up, and shiny again, even if it was Madonna he had picked up the other night instead of Blake!
Damn, these sons of btches were fast!
"Thank you very much for your buisness sir, and be sure to visit our website, WWW.TIGHTOFFICAL.COM."
The honey-fried drawl he'd spoke to on the phone earlier sang out, now in person. A good looking kid of early twenties, with with fire red hair.
"Thanks, will do, son."
Ted was given his keys, then hejumped into his seat, and made his way to the interstate. But first down that long patch of road. In the day, it was really quite lovely, and the sun was particularly bright. The snowy fields, looking like miles and miles of spilled sugar.
Ted took it all in and enjoyed it.
He slipt in some Johnny Cash and added some extra torque. The engine purred beautifully.
"This is where it happened."
The voice came out of nowhere. Ted jumped and was planning to turn to the sound, when a large arm, snaked out quickly from behind his seat, pinning him to it.
All one arm.
"Wh--, Who are you? What the hell are you doing in my rig?"
By then they had stopped. Ted instinctvely hitting the breaks, then placing the truck in park. He could get glimpes of his attacker, but could only see small enough details that told him it wasn't Blake.
"YOU HIT ME!!"
The stranger yelled in a ear-shattering scream, that revirberated throughout the cockpit.
"The hell you, ack?!"
Ted was cut off from contiuned speech by the flexing of his asailants palm. The pressure, enough to cause temperary sight-failure.
"Oh, that's right, you wouldn't remember."
The blonde man spoke cooly and almost friendly.
"Allow me to slip into something else."
Ted saw the weirdest thing. He could have sworn the blonde guys eyes turned yellow. But it didn't matter.
Because the blonde guy smashed Ted's face into his streering wheel right after that. Then everything turned red.
The stranger with the blonde hair then began to shake violently. Like a seizure. Then what Ted saw next was more strange.
The man was gone. And in his place was a large, black furred, animal!
No, a Werewolf!
The blonde stranger turned into a werewolf and was slamming Ted's head into his dashboard, and pulling off his flesh. But Ted couldn't allow himself, to think such a thing. That was crazy! But it didn't matter.
Because the werewolf ate Ted.
Then everything turned black.