The Chairman of Ferrum stood on roof looking across the hobbled city. Gas still leaked from parts of the streets, holes pockmarked the roads, buildings broken and near collapse. He smiled as he looked over the report that ‘The Supreme Commander’ had given him earlier.
“How did they get the numbers?” he said with a smile.
“Pardon sir?” said General Falcon Helfitta who stood several steps away.
“Kenosha had 253,486, the last time we bothered to count it!” The Chairman lit up a cigarette “We had an exact match. Seems the Supreme Commander’s vow to extract vengeance on the troops worked”
“Yes and no sir”
The Chairman inhaled on the cigarette and looked over at one of the highest members of the Iron Army “Explain?”
“Seems that the Kenosha force was nine short of the quota” said General Helfitta consulting his data-pad “Major Lance Danzinger of the Chicago Iron Hall took it upon himself and personally shot nine members of his Hall”
The Chairman’s eyes sparkled “Really?”
“Simple maths sir. Either nine died or ninety died. Major Danzinger decided that nine was better”
“We should recommend that Major Danzinger gets a promotion” said The Chairman
“I agree sir, but since Major Danzinger was the ninth person, the promotion would have to be awarded posthumously” replied General Helfitta
The Chairman shrugged “No point wasting a rank on a corpse. Now to more pressing matters. Dr Nathaniel Essex”
General Helfitta tensed slightly at the name.
“You have had contact with him recently” said The Chairman, knowing the answer already.
“Sir, yes sir”
“General, I’m not in the army, but thank you for showing me the proper respect that being the head of Ferrum deserves. Also well done on not lying to me”
“Thank you sir” General Helfitta was puzzled.
“He replaced your arm, the one you lost during that Wide-Awake fiasco” The Chairman flicked the cigarette off the building “Why?”
“He said merely because it was my left arm sir. Sinister means…”
“Left in heraldry” The Chairman mused “Even after all these years that evil bastard still surprises me. Now, where is he?”
“I honestly don’t know sir” replied the general “One of his men flew me to Chicago”
The Chairman stared intently at General Helfitta, silently slipping into his mind “…understood General. You are dismissed”
General Helfitta saluted and walked off, uneasy about what had just happened.
Dr Imck Prince looked over Thunder, Behemoth and Scarlet as they stood in the lobby of Ferrum HQ.
“Why aren’t they in the Iron Hall?” asked Noahus Tucker, his junior on the project.
“Too heavy” replied Dr Prince “After the attack, the structural integrity of the Chicago Iron Hall couldn’t really hold the extra weight of these three. When it gets repaired…”
“If it gets repaired” added The Chairman who appeared beside them
“Mr Chairman” said Dr Prince, head bowed. Noahus went to speak but Dr Prince waved him off.
“Any problems Dr Prince?”
“No sir. Just checking their diagnostics to make sure they are ready and operational after their outing in Kenosha”
“Very good Dr Prince” The Chairman patted the doctor on the back “I have a mission for our trio and a new project for you”
“Thank you sir” beamed Dr Prince
“These three are going to track down Dr Essex and bring him to me” said The Chairman “Dead or alive, I don’t mind. But preferably alive…and badly beaten”
“Yes sir. And the new project?”
“I have a vault full of prisoners. Instead of keeping them in cages, I’d like you to go and see which would make candidates for your Thunderbolt program”
“Thank you sir” Dr Prince couldn’t hide the smile on his face “I won’t let you down”
“You best not Imck” warned the Chairman “I’ll be sending these new Thunderbolts after Exodus. If you fail, I will set up a personal meeting between you and Iron Claw”
“Yes sir” gulped Dr Prince