Three Robins (Part 3 of 4)

Continued from here part 2

Ice Berg Lounge, Gotham City

Green Arrow sits on a roof across the street watching people enter. He turns at the sound of footsteps behind him, "Hey Speedy."

Roy Harper gives an annoyed look, "Its Arsenal, now."

Green Arrow chuckles, "What brings you to Gotham?"

"Same as you. Why aren't you down there?"

He points down, "There's a who's who of Batman's B and C list down there, all celebrating. Figure if I wait a bit a bigger fish will take the bait."

Roy leans over, "Bait?"

He then tossed Roy a comm, "Canary says, Penguin isn't in there."

Roy nods, "So Cobblepot is trying to get Joker out in the open before he has a chance to get to him."

Green Arrow patted him on the back, "You're getting good, Speedy."

***

Black Canary sits on the roof of the Lounge listening to the patrons with a device. She over heard a loud clang and people beginning to panic as she hit her comm, "Ollie, get moving."

He and Roy landed on the street as large security doors slammed down in front of the exits and windows. Green Arrow kicked over a trash can as he called back, "Penguin set up a damned fortress."

Canary looked around and saw Joker standing on a roof holding a trigger device, "Oh S**t."

"Ollie, get ready to catch me."

She leapt off the roof just as Joker hit the trigger. A fire ball launched through the roof as she landed on a net Green Arrow had put up for her. As she got down Oliver looked her over, "You okay?"

She nodded, "Penguin set them up, he's letting Joker thin out the competition."

Roy sighed, "Makes sense, the regular crooks have been in hiding since the clown started his rampage and the bodies from the costume crowd keep piling up. Just caught a report on the police band that said they just found Zsasz sliced up like a Christmas ham, and they found Two Face cut in half."

Green Arrow shook his head, "He's getting his sense of humor back."

***

Nepali Airspace

Dick, Tim and Jason are flying toward Nanda Parbat in a League Javelin. Jason is adjusting the glider pack on his back, "One of those beam things would've been quicker."

Dick nodded, "And easier to track. You clear on the plan?"

Jason nodded then looked to Tim, "Is he?"

Dick gave a wary look, "He's good."

Tim glared back from the controls, "We're coming to the drop point."

As Jason jumped out Dick picked his glider pack and looked back to Tim, "You sure you're up for this?"

Tim turned away, "I can handle it."

Dick gave a nod as Tim slowed the Javelin, "See you on the ground."

He then jumped from the ship.

***

As Jason descended on the main entrance he aimed a rocket launcher at the main gate, "Knock, knock."

The explosion set off many alarms and Ra's men flooded the main courtyard. Jason hurled dozens of explosives and smoke pellets as he landed and began taking them down in the confusion.

He'd taken down nearly half of them when an arrow landed at his foot. He instinctively jumped away just before a device on the arrow sent out a shock wave that cleared the smoke along with the rest of Ra's' men.

Jason looked up to see an archer dressed in black, "Merlyn?"

The archer gave a nod.

***

Dick sat a few yards from the rear entrance when he heard the explosions. He chuckled to himself, "He makes a fine distraction."

He then made his way into the place, easily dispatching the few guards that remained. He then shot a grapple line up and took to the rafters as a man walked in, "You missed a camera Grayson."

Dick looked down and recognized the man as David Cain, "It's always something."

He looked up but saw nothing as he continued, "So what's the plan here kid, beat a confession out of Ra's? You'd have had better luck trying to out run the Flash."

"Maybe."

David got a grin as he threw a rope over a rafter and tied the other end to a bar on the wall. As he climbed up he shouted, "Did you think I couldn't fin you up there?"

Cain crept along the beam as Dick spoke, "Guess you're just to clever for me."

He then came up to a beam in deep shadow and came around expecting to catch Grayson. He stopped and noticed a small speaker that Dick spoke through, "I've been at this a while."

A dart then hit Cain in the neck as Dick dropped down, "Pays to have a martian friend."

David began to waiver, "Clever."

Dick then shot out a grapple line to catch Cain before he hit the floor. He then hit his comm, "All clear."

***

In front Jason was dodging arrows as Merlyn was becoming frustrated. Jason kept him from getting a clear shot with a variety of devices, smoke pellets, explosives and flash/bang grenades were going off all around when Merlyn ran out of arrows.

Jason then charged to try and take him down. Merlyn side stepped and drove an elbow into Jason's neck sending him to the ground. He then kicked him in the side. As Jason rolled he grabbed Merlyn's leg and flipped him to the ground. He then jumped to his feet and attempted to stomp on the archer.

Merlyn caught his foot and punched him hard in the knee before rising and driving a shoulder into Jason's gut lifting him up. He then slammed him down and grabbed an arrow from the ground. He stepped over Jason and began to speak.

He was halted as a bullet tore through his shoulder. Jason then rose and hit him with a taser. Dick then came through on the comm, "What was that?"

Jason shrugged, "Relax, he ain't dead. All clear."

Ra's rose from a monitor bank, "Our guests have arrived."

Ubu was about to leave the room when an explosion went off leaving a large hole in the roof. He looked up just in time to see Tim's boot before he crashed into his shoulder snapping his collar bone. He then took out the last of the guards with a stun grenade.

Ra's shrugged, "That was unnecessary."

Tim looked confused as Ra's casually took a seat on a sofa, "I assume the others will be here shortly."

Dick then kicked open the door as Jason crashed through a window. Ra's rolled his eyes, "The Detective was much more subtle."

Ra's then looked to Dick, "I did not kill Bruce Wayne."

Jason huffed, "And I guess we're just supposed to take your word."

Ra's turned to face him, "I lost my only true family because of my association with him, if it were me, you three would have died before him."

Jason moved towards Ra's but Dick stopped him, "He doesn't leave loose ends."

Ra's then pointed to a computer screen, "I believe you know this man?"

They turned to see an enhanced satellite image of a man entering Wayne manor on the night Bruce died. Ra's then continued, "He's one of the few assassins that can rival my League in skill."

Jason and Tim's eyes went wide as Dick clenched his fist.

***

Gotham city.

Bane looked down on the bodies of Killer Croc and realized he'd just walked into a trap. He jumped away as a heavy load of bricks dropped down. He angrily shouted, "Did you think you could kill me like this, clown."

A bullet then tore through his skull as Joker stepped from the shadows, "Not for a second."

Joker then stepped over his body.

As he stepped out of the warehouse machine guns began to fire. He ducked behind a dumpster as Penguin and several armed thugs approached, " I figured you'd just gas the place. Blowing up my Lounge like that is going to send my insurance through the roof."

Joker chuckled a bit, "You don't have a roof anymore."

Penguin and his men walked forward as Joker slipped back into the warehouse. Penguin stepped in, "I should probably thank you. After the last few days, I'm the only game in town."

His thugs began firing as they assumed they'd found him but all they did was shred a mannequin with bullets. As they stepped toward it two got stuck in snares that dragged them away screaming.

The remaining three became nervous when the screams suddenly stopped. Penguin sighed, "Eyes open boys, the place is probably loaded with traps."

A voice rang out, "You know me well, Oswald."

A grenade with a smiley face then dropped in front of them. Penguin pushed one of his men over on it to contain the blast as he and the other two jumped back.

Suddenly the last of Penguin's men dropped. He looked down and saw arrows in their shoulders. A voice came from a few yards away, "They're down for the count, Pudgy."

He looked up to see Green Arrow, "You think I'm afraid of a second rate Robin Hood knock off?"

Joker screamed, "No!"

He then came from the shadows shooting at Green Arrow, "No substitutions."

Arrow jumped for cover as Penguin turned to shoot Joker. Joker hit him across the face with a crowbar, then seemed to forget he was there as he moved toward Green Arrow, "You think you can just take his city now? You think I'd let that happen?"

Green Arrow hit his comm, "You guys ready?"

Joker kicked away the crate Green Arrow was hiding behind as a red arrow hit him in the leg. It sent out a shock that brought the Joker to his knees. He looked up with a hateful glare as Green Arrow struck him on the side of the head with his bow.

Roy then stepped out, "That was easier than I thought."

Green Arrow nodded, "He was off his game."

***

Metropolis, Home of Lex Luthor.

Lex sat reading when Dick crashed through his window. He snatched him up and slammed him into the wall. Lex had an amused look, "Took you a bit longer than I thought. I greatly overestimated you."

Dick was nearly growling as Tim and Jason entered, "Where is he?"

Lex threw up his hands, "Who knows. Though I will say, he gave me a hell of a discount. All he asked was to send you on a wild goose chase and give you this."

He pulled an envelope out of his pocket, "Bruce was my target, but you're his."

***

A man stands over a grave stone, he places a hand on it. He then drops a rose on the grave and sits down behind it waiting.

(To be concluded)

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Three Robins (Part 2 of 4)

Continued from here part 1

Metropolis

Superman was taking a flight through the city to clear his head. He was distracted due to the death of his friend and didn't notice the jet engine rapidly approaching. When he finally heard it he was hit with a sonic canon that threw off his equilibrium and sent him spiraling away as the jet aimed toward him.

A half second before it slammed into him he realized it was Batman's. As he and the jet crashed into the street The Red Hood came down on a glider with a net gun. As Superman tried to stand Jason shot him. The net wrapped around him and he was shocked to see he couldn't break it.

Jason neared as he spoke, "The net was a gift from Zatara. I don't usually go in for the magic stuff but Bats keeps that kryptonite locked up tight."

Superman continued to struggle against the net, "What are you doing?"

Jason then revealed a pair of gauntlets glowing red, "I'm doing what Nightwing didn't have the balls for."

Just then Jason felt a tap on his shoulder. He turn and Dick punched him hard in the face sending him to the ground. He sat up, "How'd you get here?"

Dick looked down, "Zeta beam, the League considers the death of one of their own a priority so they helped out."

Red Robin came up behind Superman and began untying the net, "Sorry, he doesn't like to think things through."

Jason stood and moved to stop Tim but Dick grabbed his arm, "You need to calm down."

Jason swung but Dick caught his fist, "He didn't do it."

"Two reasons. One he was fighting some kind of monster on the moon at the exact time it happened and not even he's that fast."

Jason pulled away from Dick then shoved him back, "It had to be him!"

Tim looked up, "What, he just took a quick break from fighting a space monster and just popped down to kill someone?"

Jason again moved toward Tim, "Who else could kill Batman?!"

Dick grabbed him and practically roared, "Anyone! He wasn't a god, he was just a man in a suit. He could have died any night on the street and you know it. Now calm the hell down and think for once in your life."

Tim made a smug huff but Dick gave a glare, "That's not helping."

They then overheard an on looker, "Batman's dead?"

Dick then turned to see a teenage boy holding his smartphone up, "I take it this is already on line?"

The kid nodded as Dick sighed, "Damn it."

Superman looked down to Tim, "That's going to be a problem."

Dick then looked back to Jason and was about to say something but Jason started with his voice cracking a bit and said something Dick assumed he'd never hear, "I'm sorry."

Dick noted his voice, "We have to keep it together. Do what he taught us and keep our heads in the game. You want to cry or scream you wait till after."

Jason nodded.

***

Gotham City

Bullock and Montoya stared at a blood bath. Even Harvey was shocked by what he saw, "This isn't like him. Since when does the Joker just slaughter people with no plans or plots?"

Montoya leaned down, "I think there might be a plan, this guy here it Thomas Elliot, AKA Hush. We got a call on the wire that Tweedle Dee and Dum were found gutted earlier. He's hunting down Batman's enemies."

Bullock looked confused, "Why?"

A uniformed officer stepped up, "I think I know."

He then handed Bullock a phone he'd borrowed from an on looker, "This video from Metropolis just went on line on this site that shows supers fighting. The kid wouldn't shut up about it."

Bullock's eyes went wide as he heard of Batman's death, "Montoya, we're gonna have a bad day."

***

Ice Berg Lounge, Gotham City

Oswald Cobblepot AKA the Penguin laughs maniacally as one of his employees shows him the video, "Clean this place up, we're having a party. All drinks are half off."

***

An alley on the south side of Gotham.

Edward Nigma, Aka, The Riddler is running. He had planned to rob a bank today but his goons had been slaughtered. He now ran for his life. He tripped over a pipe laying in the alley as his pursuer approached. He looked over to see the Joker, still in his orange Arkham jump suit and covered in blood, "What do you want?"

"I haven't done anything to you."

Joker put his foot on the Riddler's chest as he looked down. His smile and laugh were absent and his face revealed no emotion, "He's gone now. We aren't needed anymore."

Nigma's screams could be heard from blocks away as Joker sliced him open. He then wiped the blood on his jumpsuit and headed on.

***

Star city.

Green Arrow is loading up his jet as Black Canary steps up, "Where are you going?"

He doesn't look back, "Hasn't even been three hours since that video went public and reports are already pouring in. Gotham is a powder keg about to go off and I can't let that happen. I owe him at least that much."

She sighed, "Gotham has other protectors."

He nodded, "Yeah, but they aren't him."

"And neither are you."

He turned, "You think I don't know that? You think I never heard all the B-List Batman jokes?"

She gave a nod, "You're not going alone."

"Didn't plan on it."

***

Central City

Dick, Tim and Jason arrived via Zeta beam on their bikes Dick had brought from the Bat-Cave. Jason looked over, "Why are we here, you think the Flash offed him?"

"No, but he knows a psychopath that's just as fast and could easily evade our notice."

Tim nodded, "You think Zoom had something to do with it?"

"Not really but its a possibility."

As the rode a red streak passed them and the Flash stopped in front of them. Tim slammed on his breaks to avoid hitting him as Jason and Dick came to a stop beside him. Flash looked them over, "I heard about Metropolis."

Dick pulled off his helmet, "We're looking for a speedster, and we figured we'd come to the expert."

Flash looked curious, "You think a speedster killed Batman?"

Dick nodded, "He had a scanner at the manor, it picked up signs of the Speed force, it kind of narrows down the search."

Flash walked over, "Can I see the scan?"

Dick looked over, "Red Robin?"

Tim opened a gauntlet on his wrist to show a monitor. He then pulled up the scan. Flash stared at it intently, "I have something similar, but you have a problem."

The three gave Flash a quizzical look as he spoke, "The frequency is off a bit. Its very close but its not right. Someone definitely wanted it to look like the Speed force, probably to throw you off the trail."

Jason leaned over, "Who's got the resources to fool Batman's equipment?"

Flash shrugged, "I can't imagine its a long list. They'd need access to similar equipment, and its not cheap. The speed force detector at S.T.A.R. labs was cost a few million to build."

Dick sat back, "So we're looking for a tech guy with either a budget or a backer."

Tim looked up, "Which brings me back to the idea that maybe Bruce was the target, instead of Batman. Have you been keeping up with Business news?"

Jason gave him a wary look, "Why?"

"Wayne Enterprises just beat out Lex Corp on a multi-billion dollar government contract. Lex is one to hold a grudge and with the C.E.O. out of the picture it leaves Wayne Enterprises vulnerable."

Flash gave a nod, "That's means and motive."

Jason sat up, "So back to Metropolis?"

Dick shook his head, "Lex wouldn't do it himself and we don't even know for sure he was involved. There's a good possibility it was an assassin and knowing Lex he would insist on only using the best and most expensive."

Jason sighed, "We need to find Ra's."

Dick slumped his shoulders, "Not sure he's gonna be any easier to deal with than Lex."

***

Nanda Parbat

Ra's al Ghul sits watching the video of the Red Hood taking Superman out of the sky. He turned to Ubu, "I believe we will have company soon."

Ubu shrugged, "I doubt the Detective's students will be an issue."

Ra's gave a blank look, "Underestimation has killed more men than can be easily counted."

Ubu was about to walk out but asked, "Did the League do this?"

"Not to my knowledge but I am very interested in meeting the man who did."

***

Justice League Watchtower.

Tim stands before a massive monitor as Cyborg attempts to help him track Ra's. Jason is pacing as Dick attempts to look patient. He looked to Jason, "You've never been up here, have you?"

"Side kicks weren't welcome when I was Robin and I haven't exactly been considered a friendly lately."

Tim then spoke up, "Guys, we have our coordinates."

Dick looked surprised, "That was fast."

Tim shrugged, "Apparently Ra's just called Alfred and gave them to him."

Jason and Dick traded wary looks. Jason was the first to speak, "That has to be a trap, right?"

Dick nodded, "Odds are good. We're still going, but be ready."

Cyborg looked over, "Should I come?"

Dick shook his head, "This is a family matter."

(To be continued)

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Three Robins (Part 1 of 4)

Dick Grayson stands in front of a mirror adjusting his bow tie as Alfred grins behind him, "You never were good with those."

Dick chuckled a bit, "True. Though I wasn't really expecting to need one much anymore."

Alfred sighed a bit, " You know Bruce misses you. He'd never admit it of course, but he still sees you as a son."

***

Bruce Wayne stood in the entry way of Wayne Manor with a fake smile as he greeted guests to a Wayne foundation fund raiser. Across the room, Tim Drake sat bored as men three times his age droned on about business matters. He wondered why Bruce had invited him, he considered perhaps loosing Damian had something to do with it. Bruce had never been a happy man but lately he'd seemed especially depressed.

Tim's eyes went wide when Jason Todd entered. His jaw dropped when Bruce greeted him with a warm hug. Jason looked just as shocked as Bruce smiled, "Glad you could make it."

Dick came down the stairs with Alfred but stopped mid way, "Why is he here?"

Alfred noticed as he glared at Jason, "Master Bruce wanted you all here. I'd consider it a personal favor if you could remain civil."

Dick nodded, "I'd be more worried about Tim, if I were you."

Bruce's smile became genuine for a moment as he saw his three adopted sons came together in the middle of the room. Jason and Tim smiled through gritted teeth as Dick stepped between them, "Be nice boys, we have company."

Bruce began walking toward them but stopped as a vaguely familiar voice came from behind, "Excuse me, Mr. Wayne."

Bruce turned. He recognized the man but hit the floor before he had a chance to react. The man was gone before Bruce fell. Dick looked over as a crowd began to form and ran over with Jason and Tim close behind. He dropped to his knees when he saw Bruce on the floor and attempted to wake him. He checked for a pulse but he was gone.

***

Later as Bruce was being loaded into an ambulance as Commissioner Gordon pulled up. Dick met him as he got out, "I need to see the M.E's report as soon as you can."

Gordon looked caught off guard, "Why would I...."

Dick cut him off, " You don't need to pretend anymore, we know you know."

Gordon sighed, "So you think its a homicide?"

Dick just gave a stare, "Tell your Examiner to check the eyes."

As Dick walked back Tim stopped him, "You noticed the eyes too?"

Jason stood behind them, "Only a few guys can do that, even less can do it and get away unseen."

Dick nodded," And as far as I know, only two know Bruce's secret."

Tim's voice cracked a bit as he tried to keep his composure, "Are we sure his secret has anything to do with it."

Jason glared, "Suck it up, Drake."

Dick shoved Jason, "Back off."

Jason clinched his fist and seemed ready to fight when Alfred shouted them down, "This is neither the time, nor place."

Alfred stood shaking, with tears in his eyes, "He wanted his family whole again, he was finally going to give up this insane crusade. Damian's death was his wake up call."

He then wiped the tears from his eyes, "Someone stole his chance to make a real life for himself and we will do what we can to make sure they pay."

None of them had ever seen Alfred in this state. He glared with anger and pain at the ambulance as it pulled away, "Follow me."

***

After everyone left Alfred led Dick, Tim and Jason down to the Batcave. Tim turned on the computer as Dick ordered, "We're looking for someone with super human speed."

Jason cleared his throat, "Am I going to be the one to point it out."

Dick gave a sigh as Jason continued, "Someone with heat vision, can move fast enough to seem invisible and knows Bruce's secrets."

Dick nodded, "It crossed my mind. But it could have easily been a speedster with a laser or possibly some machine or magic. He's got plenty of enemies to choose from."

Tim looked up from the computer, "This is going to take a while."

Dick turned to the Nightwing uniform in a glass tube, "I guess I'm not done yet."

***

Arkham Assylum, The next day.

An orderly sits with a look of shock as Detective Bullock stands beside him, "What the hell happened?"

The orderly shrugged, "I don't know. He was sitting calmly watching the morning news then he just went berserk for no reason."

Bullock then looked over the bodies of Jonathan Crane and several other inmates along with two orderlies, "You think he had it in for Scarecrow?"

The orderly looked up, "I don't think he cared who it was, he was just pissed off and wanted to kill."

He looked over to Detective Montoya, "Why ain't the Bat on this?"

She shrugged, "Gordon just said he wasn't coming."

"Probably off with the underwear brigade again."

She gave a glare, "Well, we have a clown to track down."

He looked over to the television as a reporter spoke, "Bruce Wayne's death has been ruled a homicide but there is currently no further information."

***

Metropolis, The Daily Planet

Clark Kent came in as Lois was preparing to leave for the train station, "What's the rush?"

She looked up shaken, "I'm heading to Gotham. Bruce Wayne was murdered last night."

***

Wayne Manor.

Dick woke with Tim and Alfred staring down at him, "What now?"

Tim looked to the door, "Jason's gone, and so is the jet."

"Any idea where he's headed?"

Alfred nodded, "Most likely, Metropolis."

Dick stood up, "Of course he is."

He then glared at Tim, "Let's go catch the dumb ass before he gets himself killed."

(To be continued)

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Bruce: Part 6

Continued from here part 5

League of Assassins secret prison, 1995

As Bruce sat staring at the old man across from him locked in meditation the door swung open. Several men entered and grabbed him. He was taken up several flights of stairs and ushered into what appeared to be a throne room.

A man sat regally on an ornate chair in the center with a sword resting by his side. He stood and walked toward Bruce as a man behind him kicked him in the back of the knees. Bruce went down as the man behind him ordered, "You will kneel before the Demon's Head."

The man from the throne looked down, "Do you know who I am?"

Bruce looked up, "Ducard called you Ra's al Ghul."

Ra's nodded, "And you are Bruce Wayne, of Gotham City. The only child of Thomas and Martha Wayne, who was forced to watch them die. Afterwards you were raised by a butler named....Albert?"

Bruce gritted his teeth as he corrected, "Alfred."

Ra's gave a bit of a shrug, "Minor detail. You have been doing quite a bit of traveling alone for a boy your age, why did you seek out Ducard?"

Bruce pulled himself up to look Ra's in the eye, "He's said to be the world's best detective. I wanted to learn from him."

Ra's grinned a bit, "I see."

He sighed, "Very well, Detective. If you wish to learn, I will teach you. You will return to your cell, from this day on you will train, you will work and if I decide you're worthy I may let you live."

***

1 month later

Bruce entered the cell and more fell than laid on his mat. He then looked to Kirigi who didn't even seem winded, "How the hell do you keep up?"

He grinned a bit, "They don't make me train. I could show you a way to fight the fatigue you wish."

Bruce pulled himself up, "I thought you didn't train people."

"I don't train these people, are you one of them?"

Bruce shook his head, "Very well then."

***

The next day

Bruce sat in meditation across from Kirigi as a man stepped in. Bruce opened an eye and looked up, "New guy?"

The man shook his head, "No, Ra's has taken an interest in you. He believes I'm the best teacher he has."

Bruce sat up, "And you are?"

"David Cain."

Bruce noticed a girl near his age behind David with a stoic expression, "She have a name?"

David looked back, "This is Talia, she'll be helping train you."

***

Bruce was in a dojo looking across a mat at Talia as David stood back, "Show me what you know, rich boy."

Bruce looked incredulous, "I won't hit a girl...."

Before he finished Talia had punched him in the throat and flipped him over her shoulder. She then placed a foot on Bruce's throat, "Chivalry will only get you killed."

She stepped back as Bruce pulled himself up. David looked to him, "Now, show me."

Bruce sighed a bit then charged toward Talia. She drove a foot into his face sending him down. David gave a shrug, "We have a lot of work to do."

***

That night Bruce returned to his cell with dried blood on the corners of his mouth and quite a bit on his shirt. Kirigi looked him over, "Now my training begins."

Bruce sighed, "Whenever your ready."

***

8 months passed, Bruce spent every day much the same. Cain woke him before the dawn and trained him till dusk. Kirigi took over as soon as Bruce returned to the cell. Kirigi taught him a form of meditation that allowed him to go for extended amounts of time without sleep.

Talia seemed dismissive of Bruce at first and was even more harsh with him than Cain, but over time she softened toward him. She found his determination and drive appealing.

One night as Bruce prepared to begin his night training the cell door opened. He looked back to see Talia standing, "Come with me."

Bruce looked to Kirigi but the old man waved him off. He then turned to Talia, "Am I allowed to wander?"

"You are tonight, besides if you did attempt escape you'd freeze to death long before you found civilization."

Bruce left with her. She ushered him to the upper floors where Ra's lived when he was here. Bruce looked nervous, "Why would Ra's allow you in his private quarters."

"He is my father. Did you not know?"

Bruce shrugged a bit, "Never thought about it."

As he looked around the room he walked to a large window. He looked out on the snow covered mountain range that surrounded them. Talia spoke from behind, "My father sees greatness in you. It is the reason he allowed you to stay with the old man. He knows all about the training he's been giving you."

Bruce didn't seem surprised, "I was curious about that."

He then sighed and spoke as he turned, "Is there a reason you brought me up here?"

As he looked to Talia she dropped her shirt to the floor. His eyes went a bit wide, "What are you..."

She cut him off with a kiss. She then pulled back a bit, "Now is not the time for talk."

***

Shortly before sun rise Bruce and Talia returned to the cell. She locked the door as Bruce laid down. Kirigi gave a smug chuckle as she left, "You should be more cautious, boy."

(To be continued.)

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Marvel Re-Genesis: Captain Marvel part 1, We Are Kree.

(This is the first chapter for my part of the Marvel Re-Genesis group started by @avenging_x_bolt )

A Kree ship enters the Sol system. Two blue skinned Kree look out an observation bay. One called Colonel Yon-Rogg looks back, "We are wasting time."

The "pink" skinned Captain Mar-Vell shrugs, "Routine threat assessment. Has to be done and since we're the closest, Command ordered us to do it."

Yon-Rogg gave a condescending sneer and began to speak but was cut off by the Kree known as Ronan, "Who is the assigned Captain of this ship?"

Yon-Rogg looked nervous, "Mar-Vell, sir."

Ronan nodded, "And what is the punishment for disobeying the orders of an assigned captain or asking for him to be derelict in his duty?"

Ronan stared down on Yon-Rogg fully expecting an answer. The smaller Kree shook a bit as he spoke, "Execution, sir."

Mar-Vell stifled a chuckle as the Colonel made his way off the bridge. Ronan stared hard as the came upon the third planet from this systems sun, "I often wonder why the Supreme Intelligence bothers to worry about this little water ball."

The Captain stepped over, "My guess would be they're mostly worried about Attilan, tho I couldn't say if it even exists anymore. We haven't seen a trace of it in over a thousand cycles."

Ronan began to speak but the ship rocked violently as something slammed into it. Vell hit his comm, "What was that?"

A voice came over the comm, "We were struck by a small craft, damage is minimal."

Vell nodded, "Was it an attack?"

"Unknown, sir. Signs point to accidental encounter and the craft seems to be completely disabled."

Vell looked to Ronan, "Pardon me, sir."

He then headed off the bridge, "Bring it in, we'll bring it back as part of our assessment."

"Yes, sir."

***

Mar-Vell entered the bay as a soldier approached, "There's a pilot on board, seems to be unconscious."

They pulled the pilot out. Vell looked her over and moved to take off her helmet, "Get me a breather, they have an oxygen heavy atmosphere."

He attached the breather over her mouth and nose and set it to compensate, "Take her to the med bay and let me know she wakes up."

The soldier looked over, "How do you know its a she?"

"Files say most Terrans are aesthetically similar to Kree. Looks like a female to me."

***

In the Med bay a blue skinned Kree doctor looks her over and notices her dog tags as he picks up a translation devise. He holds it over the tags as he scrolls through options, "Hey Kor, you know what this language is called?"

Kor was looking at a monitor, "According to the files...." He squinted a bit as he looked, "I think it says Angleesh"

The doctor furrowed his brow, "There's one called English listed as a common Earth language."

Kor shrugged, "Worth a shot."

He looks over the translator, "Captain Carol Danvers, U.S.A.F., whatever that means. Sounds military."

Carol began to regain consciousness as the two doctors spoke in a language she couldn't understand. She tried to sit up, but was restrained. She began to thrash around as the doctors noticed, "Call the captain."

Kor held her arm still as he injected her with something. She yelled at him, "What the hell did you give me?!"

He gave a wary look, "Translator microbes, calm down."

She was still unnerved but she hid her fear well, "Where am I?"

A voice came in from behind, "This is a Kree star cruiser. Your craft collided with ours."

She looked over to see Mar-Vell, "Are you human?"

He shook his head, "No I am Kree, just a different paint job."

He then introduced himself, "I'm Captain Mar-Vell."

She gave him an odd look, "Captain Marvel? Sounds like a comic book character."

"No, its Mar-Vell. And you are?"

"Captain Carol Danvers, United States Air Force. Why am I here?"

He sighed a bit, "We were doing a routine threat assessment when your craft collided with ours. Unfortunately our protocols dictate that we needed to assess whether your craft was a weapon and if so if it presents a danger."

She sat up as he unshackled her, "Its a prototype high speed vehicle for space flight. We were hoping to shorten the trip to other planets by a few years."

He looked incredulous, "Years?"

Kor chuckled, "Well now we know they can't chase us."

Mar-Vell gave a glare, "Her people aren't a space fairing race yet. You have to learn to crawl before you walk."

Carol cleared her throat, "Am I gonna get a ride home?"

Vell sighed, "Well, there's an issue with that. We're on a bit of a tight schedule. We have to get back to Kree-Lar and drop some people off but at most we're two days from the nearest Star-Gate that will take us right there. After that I'll take you back as soon as I get clearance."

Carol looked annoyed but had been in the military long enough to recognize when someone's hands are tied by red tape. Suddenly she looked down with a shock, "Am I naked?"

Kor nodded, "Wondered when she was gonna notice that."

***

Later Carol stood in the observation bay in awe of the stars rushing past as bored Kree wandered by. Mar-Vell stepped up next to her, "I remember that feeling, first time I was on a ship going beyond light speed I thought it was the most amazing thing in the universe. Tho you're lucky you were unconscious for the first couple days. My first time I thought my stomach would abandon ship."

She chuckled a bit, "Its odd, scientists on my world are still debating if its even possible to travel at the speed of light while your people are casually breaking it."

Vell shrugged, "We started with sticks and stone, same as you."

"These translator microbes are fantastic."

"A Spartoi scientist came up with them quite a while ago, they pretty much revolutionized interstellar commerce and diplomacy."

She was startled as Ronan stepped behind Vell. He towered over him. Vell turned as Ronan spoke, "Is it wise to allow this..Human, is it, To wander the ship?"

Vell nodded, "She's restricted to public areas only, and I doubt she'd be able to cause trouble. Her people take a week to get to their own moon, how much trouble can they be?"

Ronan glared down at Carol as he walked by. As a door closed behind him she looked back to Vell, "Who's that charming fella?"

"That is Ronan the Accuser, actually Supreme Accuser is his technical title. He's one of the highest ranking officers in the whole empire."

She was about to ask something but again the ship rocked. An alert rang out and Vell hit his comm, "What happened?"

Carol over heard the answer from an angry Kree, "A damned Skrull ship. It came out of nowhere and opened fire."

Carol started to say something but Vell ordered a soldier to take her to guest quarters.

***

Vell entered the bridge as Ronan was barking orders. Vell told him, "I have pilots heading to the fighters. What's the situation?"

Ronan looked down, "It's Commander Kl'rt."

Vell nodded, "Any chance, this is just a coincidence and they aren't trying to take you out?"

Ronan gave a blank stare as Vell sighed, "Didn't think so."

A soldier spoke up, "They're hailing."

Ronan nodded, "Let's hear it."

"The comm system rang out with Kl'rt's voice, "This is Kl'rt of the Skrull empire, surrender the accuser and you won't be killed."

Vell grinned a bit, "Does he really think we'd believe that?"

(To be continued)

23 Comments

5th Column Comics: Joe part 4

Continued from here part 3

Guantanamo Bay, 5 years ago.

NSA agent Bob Thornton sits in a room as a man with a shaggy beard and long unkempt hair is brought in. He is heavily shackled on the wrists, waste and feet. As he sits Bob has a welcoming grin, "Hello, Its Thomas Kane, right? Or do you prefer Tom?"

Kane gave a nod, "Okay then, right to business. Do you know how much we spent to catch you?"

Tom shrugged, "Wasn't my idea."

Bob chuckled a bit before continuing, "We've spent $400,000,000 a year for the last half decade hunting you and the other subjects of project Sparta. That's 2 billion in total, you know how many we've caught?"

He noted Tom's blank stare then sighed a bit, "We've caught 1, and I think we both know that was just dumb luck. You might be a legitimate threat, but you are not worth the money or the man hours and frankly I don't want to spend it again on what will most likely be a fruitless endeavor."

Tom leaned over, "You coming to a point?"

Bob nodded, "I came with a deal for you. I want you to put your skills to work for us. So what I'll do for you is this. You agree we'll just leave the rest of them alone, on the condition that if one goes rogue they become your responsibility. Outside of that you'll basically be an agency unto yourself, there will be oversight of course and you will receive missions.

This is a one time only deal, if you don't take it you'll likely die here."

Tom sat in thought for a moment then looked up, "When do I start?"

***

Golden Roads, present

Joe sits on a bench with Roxie, "Okay, kid. Test time. Joe pointed to the top of a parking structure where he'd sat a small pocket knife, "You have twenty minutes to get up there and bring me back that knife without anyone seeing you."

She looked nervous as she started to walk. She looked back to Joe but he waved her off. He waited until she was out of sight then made his way toward the structure. He stretched up a few flights to a spot where he could keep an eye on her just in case.

After a few minutes she passed him, he stifled a chuckle about being unnoticed but was impressed that thus far he'd been the only one to notice her.

***

After she'd retrieved the knife she came back down two floors when a small crowd of people came in. She quickly hid but one of the people happened to be Agent Kane who'd come to pick up his car. He noticed her scurrying along under a line of cars.

When she thought she was completely unseen she crept out and headed down the stairs when a voice spoke, "You must excel at hide and go seek."

She turned to see Kane. He seemed to recognize her, "Roxanne Collins?"

Her eyes went wide and she bolted. Kane sighed as he jumped the rail and landed on the flight of stairs just below. She surprised him a bit by being able to side step him but he nearly caught up. He was stopped when something grabbed him from behind and tossed him a few feet away.

He stood to see Joe now standing between him and the girl. Kane loosened his tie as he stepped forward, "Milton."

Joe gave a nod, "Kane."

Tom then pulled off his gloves revealing hands that seemed to be made of smooth black crystal. Joe took a fighting stance as Tom spoke, "I'm taking the girl with me."

Joe shrugged a bit, "We'll see."

They charged each other. Kane went for a punch but Joe dodged before wrapping an arm around him and hurling him into a wall. Kane jumped back toward him as Joe stretched out a leg to kick him. Kane grabbed him sending crystal up Joe's leg immobilizing it. He then twisted sending Joe smashing into several cars. As Joe tried to get up Tom slammed him down encasing the rest of his body in crystal.

Tom then walked over to Roxie, "Its okay, your safe now...."

He was cut off by Roxie driving her foot into his crotch. As he keeled over he looked over shocked as Joe broke free of the crystal. He moved to attack again but Joe stretched out and caught both his arms before reeling him in and tangling the rest of Tom's body with his arms, while carefully avoiding the hands.

Tom looked worried as Joe spoke, "She ain't gonna be a lab rat."

Tom's face changed to a look of confusion, "Wait, what?"

Joe's anger faded a bit, "You're not here tracking her?"

Tom became indignant, "I'm here tracking the Indigo Butcher, she's the only living witness and I noticed her out of dumb luck. Why the hell would I be after......Oh, she's a carrier, isn't she?"

He sighed, "I'm sorry but she's the only real lead we have."

Joe loosened up a bit, "I'll save you some trouble, it's Victor Cole. She described him for me, right down to the bayonet scar I gave him back at the Facility."

Joe then squeezed around his neck a bit, "I let you go, you forget you saw her. Hell, I'll even help you get him but she ain't setting foot near any place the task force can grab her."

Kane nodded, "Deal."

***

Lewis came into an interrogation room where he noticed all the recording equipment had been disabled as he sat across from Kane, "What's with the cloak and dagger."

Kane looked up, "I know who the Butcher is."

"Well lets go..."

Kane shook his head, "You've been on this case for months so I figured you had the right to know."

Lewis leaned back, "You had no intention of letting this guy stand trial, did you? Just gonna put him down like some rabid dog."

Kane hushed him, "His name is Victor Cole and if you try to bring him in, you and anyone you bring along to help will die."

Lewis was about to make a joke but the look on Kane's face sent a chill down his spine, "What makes you think you can take him alone?"

"I won't be alone."

Lewis then seemed angered, "And what about that Collins girl?"

"She's safe, but we can't bring her in. The task force would take her."

Lewis dropped his shoulder's, "She's a carrier?"

Kane nodded as he continued, "So if we bring her in to id the guy, she gets rewarded by being a lab rat."

***

Roxie and Joe were in a seedy motel in Lovecraft. She paced the room, "How can you trust that guy, he's a carrier and he works for the government?"

Joe shook his head, "Trust me, Kane is a world class prick but he knows what its like being an experiment and he wouldn't make a kid go through that."

She glared at him, "You obviously don't like the guy, why defend him?"

"Let's just say, he did me a big favor a while back and I owe him."

***

Griffith

A retired Colonel, turned television producer entered his home and noticed his dog laying very still on his doggie bed at the end of the entrance hall of the house. He leaned down to pet him but noticed he didn't move. He was saddened but the dog was old and had no wounds so he assumed it died naturally. He then walked into the living room, "Honey, I have some bad news...."

He stopped as he saw the words, 'Mihi Vindictam' drawn in blood on his wall. He saw his young trophy wife sitting posed on the couch with a blood soaked shirt. He moved toward her but felt an invisible blade at his throat. His last vision was of the naked body of his wife's lover laying just off to the side.

Victor wiped the blood from his blade on the man's shirt and headed out.

(To be continued)

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5th Column Comics: Joe part 3

Continued from here part 2

Roxie woke up from the bed in the cheap hotel room Joe had rented for the night and saw Joe staring out the window, "What's going on?"

Joe looked over, "Someone started a brawl or something. The streets crawling with CBTF. Some goon in spandex showed up a minute ago, been entertaining so far."

She gave a yawn, "Wake me up if it looks like they're gonna blow us up."

Joe chuckled as she rolled back over and fell back to sleep.

***

The next day Joe woke Roxie up around noon, "We need to be on our way."

She grunted as she woke with bright sun in her eyes, "Sorry, been a month or so since I slept in a bed."

Joe shrugged, "We need to be away from here asap."

***

They dodged the increased CBTF patrol by entering a tiny bar called the Pigeon Hole. Joe looked around the room finding a few people who were exactly the type he'd expect to be hanging around a dive bar at 12:30 in the afternoon and a terrible folk singer abusing the bar's open mic feature.

The bar tender noticed the kid, "She can't be in here."

Joe sighed, "Some creepy guy's been following her around."

He looked toward the folk singer, "Let her sit for a bit and I promise I'll come back tomorrow and drink till that sounds like music."

The bartender looked to the small stage, "Serving that much liquor to a guy might count as manslaughter."

As he turned back he had a realization, "Holy s**t, Joe?"

Joe looked at him for a second before recognizing him, "Jack? I didn't recognize you with the beard."

Jack waved them over, "Hell, come on in. Have a seat kid."

Joe and Roxie sat at the bar and Joe looked up, "You serve food?"

Jack shrugged, "We do burgers, wings or pretzels."

"Give her a burger and a root beer."

Jack started to nod but he and Joe noticed the hard stare Roxie was giving the bar code tattoo on Jack's forearm. Joe looked down, "What's the problem?"

She pointed at the tattoo, "The Butcher had a tattoo just like that, same place and everything."

Joe sighed as he pulled up his sleeve to show his own bar code, "You sure it looked just like this?"

She nodded as Joe turned to her, "Okay, what'd he look like?"

She looked nervous, "He was a little shorter than Jack here, had short dirty blond hair, blue eyes and this little scar under his right eye that looked like a crooked check mark."

Joe turned back to Jack with a concerned look, "What the hell's going on?"

Joe sat up, "I lied a minute ago. This girl here, her family was killed by the Indigo Butcher. She's the only one who's seen his face and lived."

Jack popped his knuckles, "And from that description, I'm guessing we both have a pretty good idea who he is."

Jack then slid a plate to her with a burger on it, "Eat up kid."

He then waved Joe toward the office, "Me and you need to talk."

***

Det. Lewis and Agent Kane are looking over an Indigo Butcher crime scene in Devil's Den. Lewis was curious, "I don't see what we're gonna find that forensics missed."

Kane leaned down and rolled up his sleeve. Lewis noticed a bar code tattoo on his forearm and thought he saw something glinting in the sun light under his glove before Kane adjusted it. Kane moved something aside revealing a foot print, "I assume, like most people your forensics team was in a hurry to get away from here."

Lewis looked down, "Looks like a size 13."

Kane nodded, "Looks like it, tho I'm betting the man who made it was size 11."

He pointed to a dip in the foot print, "I'd guess he was wearing shoes two sizes too big with weighted filler. It's a red herring. He wanted us to find this and start looking for a guy with bigger feet who out weighs him by around 60 lbs."

Lewis crouched down beside him, "And how'd you get to that?"

Kane shrugged, "Its something he was trained to do. That probably explains why your forensics found 14 different DNA types that they were sure led back to him but ended up matching a victim."

Lewis rose, "So basically we got nothing?"

Kane looked up, "Not exactly."

He pointed at several other partially covered tracks, "We know he spent quite a bit of time standing right out here in the open and not one person saw him but there is a traffic cam pointed right where you're standing."

Lewis grinned a bit, "Well, lets go have a look."

***

An hour later Lewis and Kane are looking at the video with a lab tech. They don't see anything but Kane tells the tech to pause, "Can you enhance that?"

The tech gave a wary look, "This ain't CSI buddy. Street cams have limits."

He noticed the stern glares from the men, "Fine I'll see what I can do."

He tinkered a bit managing to enlarge the image a bit but not clearing it up much, "That's weird."

Lewis looked over his shoulder, "What?"

The tech pointed at the screen, "Its kind of what it looks like when you shine a flash light through a clear glass of water."

Kane leaned over and pointed out the vaguely man formed out line around the odd light pattern, "Our killer is bending light."

The tech looked up, "What, like the Predator?!"

Kane gave a blank stare as Lewis spoke, "Its a movie where this alien...never mind. Our perp can make himself invisible, that's a problem."

Kane turned to him, "So he's a carrier."

Lewis dropped in his chair, "Invisible, super assassin, serial killer, wonderful."

He then shouted out to the building, "Anyone else miss regular psychos?"

***

Victor sits at a table in the kitchen of his run down apartment. He has several photos of his next victim on a bulletin board behind him and the news playing on the television as he sharpens and cleans a set of blades. He looks over as he hears mention of the Indigo Butcher and raises the remote changing it to Demon Dog, "Bah, Indigo Butcher makes me sound like a deli ran by hippies."

***

Devil's Den, Pigeon Hole Bar.

A man staggered up to the bar, "Hey Jack, looks like a couple task force goons are heading this way. Damned jackboots always getting up in yer business, as if we ain't got enough crap to deal with down here."

Jack looked to Joe and Roxie and directed them to the back room. The man at the bar noticed them heading back so Jack put a bottle of his preferred whisky on the bar, "On the house, Ed."

Ed shrugged, "Sweet."

Joe found a sliding door along the back wall hidden by an over sized painting of dogs playing pool. Roxie noticed a small metal box on the wall that Joe pushed a button on before closing them in the small room. He saw her curious look, "Blocks the scanners."

A few minutes later a few men in task force uniforms walked in. He looked to Jack, "Scanner indicates a carrier may be in here."

Jack gives a wary look, "Unless alcoholism or depression are super powers I'm doubting you'd find any carriers here."

One of the agents puffed up his chest as he looked up at Jack, "I don't like your tone boy."

Jack feigned anger, "Boy? Who you calling boy?"

The agent's eyes went a little wide as he looked up at the large black bar tender, "Now, sir, I didn't mean it like..."

Jack went with it, "Oh, you didn't mean it like what, cracker?"

The other agent put a hand on his partner's shoulder, "Time to go Bill, if there was a carrier here we'd know it."

Bill nodded, "But I'm not racist, some of my..."

His partner hushed him, "Don't finish that sentence."

Joe chuckled in the hidden room as he watched the scene on a monitor, " Jack's still got it."

(To be continued)

11 Comments

5th Column Comics: Joe part 2

Continued from here part 1

Devil's Den.

Joe and Roxie are sitting on a roof over looking Alegheri park eating chili dogs. Roxie had a worried look. Joe looked over to her as he swallowed a bite, "Something wrong with the dog?"

"How am I supposed to eat when an invisible man is hunting me?"

Joe shrugged, "Not eating means you have less energy, less energy means you won't focus as well and that'll get you killed."

She sighed and took a bite. As she chewed she looked up and spoke with a half full mouth, "How did shpot the guy?"

Joe looked down at her, "Swallow before you speak kid."

He quickly finished her bite and asked again, "How did you spot the guy?"

"Wasn't hard, just payed attention."

She gave a blank stare. He sighed and pointed toward the street, "What do you see down there?"

She looked down, "Some people and cars and stuff."

He nodded and knelt down beside her as he pointed toward a man eating a cheeseburger, "That man down there most likely didn't have breakfast considering how focused he is on that burger. His girl friend there started aggressively pawing at his shoulders a second ago because she probably thought that attractive blonde ten feet to the left was checking out her man.

She was actually looking at the burger but the disgusted look she had indicates she's either a vegan or a health nut."

He then pointed to a pigeon sitting on a lamp post, "That bird is getting antsy and nervous because he just noticed the falcon on the flag pole about half a block away on the right."

She looked at him mildly impressed, "Is that like a power?"

He shook his head, "No, I was trained for that. Observational skills are one of the most important attributes for evasion and survival. This Butcher guy who's following you can make himself invisible but he's still solid. I spotted him because he brushed past a flag and made it move opposed to the wind. Him stepping in a puddle confirmed it."

She gave a nod as he pointed down again, "Now look again, pay attention and tell me what you see."

***

Golden Roads

A man from the CBTF had just finished his shift and arrived home. As he opened the door he noticed the phrase 'Mihi Vindictam' written in blood on the wall. He felt a bit of panic as he remembered the reports about the Indigo Butcher. He ran into the house, "Laura! Baby!?"

He felt relief for a second as he saw her seated as if looking out the window before realizing she didn't respond. He walked over and put a hand on her shoulder causing her body to slump. He then felt a grip on his own shoulder and felt a cold steel blade across his throat. He didn't have time to react before the unseen blade sliced through his skin.

Victor looked down on the man's body with a nod.

Griffith, The office of the Indigo City Police Commissioner.

A man in his late 30s with black but graying hair and a five o'clock shadow named Det. Craig Lewis sits waiting for the Commissioner. He'd been on the force for over a decade but had never been in this office before but he didn't think this meeting meant anything good.

After a moment the Commissioner walked in followed by a well groomed man in his late 20s who wore a dark blue business suit and black gloves. The Commissioner introduced them, "This is Detective Craig Lewis, he's been working the Butcher case from the beginning. Detective, this is Agent Tom Kane from..."

He looked to Kane, "I'm not sure what agency he's with but the Mayor has ordered me to assign you to aide him in capturing the Indigo Butcher."

Lewis turned back, "And why are the Feds suddenly interested?"

Kane looked down, "There has been a development. It is currently known that your killer is targeting soldiers and their families. In every instance the families of these soldiers were all posed and accounted for while the soldiers were left where they died. In all cases but one."

Lewis nodded, "The Collins girl?"

Kane nodded, "If she is in fact alive we may have an actual witness."

Lewis nodded, "That's not your only reason."

Kane shrugged, "We've been following this case for quite some time. The M.O. has us concerned. We've noticed that with the family members, he kills with surgical precision and wounds indicate quick almost painless deaths, while the soldiers get their throats slit and are allowed to bleed out. In nearly every case their eyes were open and facing their families. This says that the soldiers are the actual target."

He then tosses a photo on the desk, "Then there's this."

Lewis picks it up and looks at the words 'Mihi Vindictam' as Kane continues, "Its Latin and translates too..."

Lewis cut him off, "Vengeance is mine. So what you're saying is you believe we have a well trained assassin who's gone off the reservation with a vendetta?"

Kane nodded again, "Basically, and I can give you 10 suspects."

He then opened a brief case with several files in them, "You won't find any records, on paper none of these people exist but they are the only people that we know of with the kind of training necessary to get away this clean considering the targets. Even if he's a carrier he'd leave some form of evidence otherwise. We aren't sure what was different but if and when we find out we may have your killer."

The two men made there way out of the building. Lewis noticed Kane took out a pen and began clicking it as they passed the scanners that all government buildings have to detect carriers. After they exited the building Kane slid the pen back in his pocket. He did it in a nonchalant manner as if it was a nervous habit. To the untrained eye it wouldn't matter but Lewis is a very good detective and knows practiced behavior when he sees it.

***

Devil's Den

As the sun set Joe and Roxie walked down an alley. They stopped as they heard the beeping of a scanner. Joe looked ahead to see a task force agent who happened to be taking a leak in the alley, "F**k."

The agent quickly zipped up and yelled,"Freeze."

Roxie looked nervous as Joe's arm stretched out and coiled up like a spring. When the agent got within an arm's length Joe punched him in the chest launching him across the street where he slammed into a wall. His armor took the brunt of the impact but the man was winded as he stood. His partner gave a surprised look before turning down the alley.

Joe and Roxie were no where to be seen.

( To be continued)

11 Comments

5th Column Comics: Joe part 1

Continued from here prologue

The Facility: Ten years ago.

Joe Milton and Victor Cole stand with blood dripping from their mouths and noses as their instructor orders them to halt. Their combat training stops as the boys are mid swing. They stop and turn at attention in an almost mechanical fashion.

The subjects of project Sparta are filed into a large room where they take note of armed soldiers all around them. After a quick head count the head of the project stands before them, "You have all been doing very well. We've gathered you all here for a sort of graduation ceremony."

The soldiers were unnerved by the cold expressions of the teens, not one made a sound as they listened. Joe and Victor looked around noticing the safeties were off on the loaded weapons being held. In near unison the subjects nodded as Victor turned to the nearest soldier and smashed his jaw while disarming him. He then shot the soldier next to him before he had time to react.

The soldiers began to fire but the kids had already mixed into their ranks disarming many and using them as human shields before turning the weapons on their attackers.

After a few minutes the firing stopped as the last soldier died. Joe turned to see Victor standing over his twin brother. Of all the subjects only Victor and his brother knew they had family, they were identical aside from a scar under Victor's eye that Joe had given him in a training session.

While the rest kept their cold stares Joe noticed a single tear on Victor's face before shouting, "We should go, more will be here shortly."

As a group they made their way out of the Facility easily evading the security measures.

***

Hours later a government agent was giving a report to his superior, "We only managed to eliminate ten of them. They wiped out the soldiers."

He then nodded as he listened to his ear piece, "Understood sir."

He then turned to his partners, "Bring in the cleaners, we need to get a story together for this. I want every agent in the company keeping an eye out for them. Kill on site orders have been issued."

***

Indigo City: Present, Denton area better known to locals as Devil's Den.

A soldier returns home from duty after quite a while away from home. He'd been a bit disappointed that none of his family had met him at the airport but he was still glad to be back. He was shocked to see his wife and teen sons dead but posed on the couch, blood still dripping from their wounds as Demon Dog played on the television.

On the wall above the couch he noticed a Latin phrase written in their blood, 'Mihi Vindictam' <Vengeance is mine.>

As he stares in shock he notices a bag filled sitting near the door. He moves to check it but is caught by the hand of an invisible attacker. Suddenly his throat erupts with blood from a wound caused by an unseen blade. His last sight before dying is the bag by the door seemingly disappear as the door seems to open by itself.

Victor Cole silently walks away from the house. He has the ability to bend light around himself rendering him and anything he touches invisible leaving him safe from detection by the soldiers neighbors as he casually walks away from the house, not that anyone would care much in this neighborhood.

Victor had seen four muggings and an attempted rape between his current home and this house and this was a calm day. He kept himself fed by robbing his victims but that was hardly his motive. He blamed soldiers for taking the only family he'd ever had so he dedicated himself to taking their families away as well.

The papers call him the Indigo Butcher. For the last few months he's been stalking the city due to the recent uptake in soldiers turned task force agents living in the city.

***

Joe entered the area known as Devil's Den where three men immediately attempted to mug him. He quickly dispatched them without even needing his power. One began to rise from where Joe had thrown him but Joe turned, "If you get up, I'll put you down permanently."

The man dropped back down as Joe walked away. As he walked he noticed someone sliding a hand into his pocket. They let him walk away a bit then turned before noticing Joe's hand still holding the his shirt sleeve. The pick pocket looked shocked as Joe began to reel him back. He then lifted the young girl into the air while holding a hand out in front of her, "Wallet?"

She put it in his hand as he dropped her and turned, "What's with the rubber freak powers?"

Joe didn't turn but replied, "My last visit to this city was eventful."

As he walked the girl followed, "My name's Roxi, I got powers from the impact too."

Joe gave a nod, "Obviously not one that made you a good pick pocket. You following me for a reason?"

She became annoyed, "Seriously, I can prove it. Try to do your stretchy thing."

Joe shrugged and humored her tugging on his thumb. He stopped walking as he noticed it stayed in place. He then turned seeing a smug grin on her face, "Told you?"

He was now genuinely curious, "With an ability like that, why aren't you in a lab?"

"My dad was a soldier assigned to the task force, he thought they'd dissect me if they found out so he didn't register me."

Joe gave a nod, "Sounds smart, does he know you're a pick pocket?"

She got a sad look, "The Butcher killed him, almost got me too but he was surprised when I turned his power off and I got away. He was invisible so I think I'm the only person who has actually seen his face. I knew I couldn't go to the police cause those scanner things they have would let them know I was a carrier and they wouldn't care what I had to say, so I ran. Been on the streets ever since."

Joe sighed, "I'd suggest you find a better way to earn a living, or at least get better at what you're doing."

He began to walk away but Roxie followed, "I ain't looking for a side kick."

"You don't seem too worried about getting spotted, maybe you can teach me how to avoid it."

He gave a wary look, "I have neither the time nor the patients for teaching."

She dropped her head, "Well maybe you...."

She looked up with a pitiful stare but he was gone. She sighed as the phony puppy dog eyes went away, "Damn it."

Joe chuckled from a roof top and began to walk away but noticed a flag hanging from a shop moving. He knew it wasn't the wind because it was blowing in the opposite direction and it moved as if someone had brushed against it. Anyone else wouldn't have noticed but Joe was trained to observe every detail. He followed the path from the flag with his eyes and saw a small splash as an invisible form stepped into a puddle of spilled soda, "Ahh, goddamn it."

Roxie was walking as Joe's hand wrapped around her and yanked her to the roof. She heard an angry grunt as she was yanked up. Joe hushed her as he looked down. Unknown to him, Victor was staring back up at him. He recognized his old sparing partner and decided to wait to get the girl.

(To be continued.)

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5th Column Comics: Joe prologue

My name is Joseph Milton, most just call me Joe. Don't know if that's my real name, not even sure I have one. Until I was 15 I lived in the Facility, that's what we called it. I was one of a hundred kids chosen for something called project Sparta. It was a simple idea, take infants and raise them from birth to be soldiers.

We weren't super human or anything just well trained. As soon as I learned to walk the training began, combat training, espionage, wet work and whatever other bit of dirty work that might be useful. None of us ever actually saw the field. The powers that be got nervous about the potential public relations nightmare if the project was discovered.

They ordered a clean sweep but they trained us too well. I couldn't say what happened to the others but I managed to escape and I've been on my own since then. I drift from place to place, trying to keep my head down. All that changed about a year ago.

I had wandered into Indigo City and tried to catch a nap on a park bench when all hell broke loose. I didn't see what crashed but I heard the explosion. I turned to get a look just in time to get a lung full of blue gas. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I passed out and woke up the next day to the sounds of screams and confusion. I couldn't stand up, my legs were like loose rubber bands.

I had no idea what was going on but I knew it wouldn't be long before soldiers showed up. I crawled into a storm drain and tried to collect myself. I can't remember how long I was down there, I could hear the panic in the city for sometime. Once I managed to get walking I followed the drain out of the city.

Over the next few months I discover I now had the ability to stretch like rubber. I hid out in a forest while I mastered my new abilities. The place became infested for a while with what they call Blights. They left me alone but they drew soldiers and I had to move on.

Since then I've found that my abilities have advantages. The strength and durability that came with the power combined with my training made me great in a fight. The task force set up to hunt down people like me are persistent but they're amateurs.

I hear stories all the time about people like me getting taken away, even had a few close calls. Its easy enough to slip through the cracks when you can make yourself two dimensional. I never intended to come back to Indigo but as it turns out about a dozen other members of project Sparta happened to be around during the Great Impact and since they're the closest thing I have to family I decided to track them down. Indigo seems like the best place to start looking.

(To be continued)

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