The Angel of Mercy
Marksman: superior (rank 2)
The Rhythm I call it. It’s like you’re buried underwater; you don’t imagine what will happen, you don’t anticipate the next move; you can’t even see the move your making. All you see is the ten-point range flashing on what used to be a living human being.
The first one gets a bullet between his eyes.
The second one gets hit .5 seconds later, into the heart.
To my left the skinny one has already pulled his pistol. I toss the gun into my other hand, squeeze, and it takes him through the eye.
By now number four has managed to pull his gun and his arm is slowly making its way towards me. My shot hits him center of mass.
The last one ran out the front door. It was Billy’s blonde biker secretary. She was halfway down the block, running for her life. I wouldn’t shoot a man in the back, after he’s decided not to fight, and especially not if he’s a she. I have standards after all.
But then she turned back and took cover behind a rusting Ford. My standards aren’t that strong.
The fifth bullet moved the forty yards down the street, entered the side window, exited the rear window, then entered her left lung.
Five shots, five kills, five point two seconds. Pathetic.
They say old soldiers just fade away, I’m a living testament to that. John Reynolds is a better shot, but James Tanner would have killed them all before reaching the door. I need to bring him back.
The Old Soldier
Super Speed: superior (rank 2)
It wasn’t a long trip from North Hall to the Port of Kings. I had been to this place once before on slightly friendlier terms. Luckily for me the office of Boiling Point Incorporated was empty at the time. Well, not so much luckily; luck had nothing to do with it.
The lights were off. She came in quietly and flicked the switch. There I was.
“Hey.” I said
“Hey yourself,” Merci replied unfazed, “You make a habit breaking into places just to sit in the dark?”
“Well everybody else seems to be doing it to me. Seemed fair.”
“You’re just lucky it was me. If it was Tony, you would have been blown away.”
“No worries,” I say, “Tony’s in the Gaslight district of an anonymous tip. Won’t be back for another few hours.”
“Let me guess. You made the tip.”
I nod, and reveal the piece strapped to my side.
“So what? You came all the way down here just to see little old me?”
“No Merci. I came all the way here to threaten little old you.”
We stare off silently as I say it. The act has been dropped, we both know the score. I clutch the gun as I speak.
“So…When did you make me?”
“That night you met Tony at the Monument,” she says, “It had been so long, but I knew then and there… It was your voice that did it. You can change your name, have a surgeon cut up your face, and move to the other side of the world. But to me your voice will always be clear.”
“I was a kid. I was a kid in a war I didn’t understand. It was a long time ago, Merci… I hope you don’t hold any grudges.”
“Even if I did, its not like we could spend all our time going after every single person involved in the war.”
“That doesn’t answer the question.”
She pulls out a thin cigarette. Before she looks up I’m already at her side, a match lit. The tip ignites. We both try and pretend that we’re not just waiting for the other one to blink.
“Two nights ago someone paid me a visit,” I say, “broke into my apartment with a knife and an uncut Cigar in a plastic bag. Trying to send a message, like the old days I guess... But no one knows me. I have no contacts. No old friends; just old enemies. So just tell me straight, I’ll be on my way, and we won’t have any undue fuss.”
She inhales deep and spreads the smoke across the room. It takes a moment for her to conjure the words.
“You know, I used to blame myself for some of the things that happened…A lot of good people died in the street cleaning. But only one of them ever really stuck with me… they found Risk’s bodies all across Lowtown, The Bottoms, North Hall, Century Circle. It was like they were chumming the waters, begging to catch the Angels in blood lust… It was the first case Tony and I worked together. We knew it had to be someone high up on their side to be able to bring him down. At first we thought Cigar did it personally, but that’s not his style. Too hands on, he’d send someone he trusted…”
She takes another drag.
“Cobra maybe… Even Sheila’s girls were a possibility... But after we collected all the bodies, Tony figured it all out. One man, one gun. Can you believe that? The immortal Risk brought down by a simple gunman… I didn’t trust that at first. I remember thinking that there was no way anyone could shoot all of Risk’s bodies before he could duplicate and save himself… no one could be that fast… but then again, there was someone who was fast enough, wasn’t there? He was as you say, just a kid at the time. A prodigy. A young Syndicate soldier who claimed to be able to shoot five men dead before the first shell casing hit the ground… They called him ‘Pretty-Boy James Tanner’… Fast with a gun, faster with the ladies; I never found him that appealing, not my type… I could never prove it, but out of all Cigar’s soldiers, he was the one I blamed for Risk’s death; he had to be the one responsible… So you tell me John, or whatever you’re going by now, do I have reason to hold a grudge against you?”
She seems serious as hell. I can’t help but laugh a bit.
“Actually, you don’t… Risk isn’t dead.”
The Revolver Assassin
Reaction Speed: standard (rank 1)
Billy took me into the back office. There were a few more supremacist posters hanging from the walls, along with a framed photo of a cop shooting a protestor during the mid-eighties race riots. At least he’s keeping a consistent theme.
Billy leans back in a large brown recliner.
“So tell me, what does a man with no past call himself?”
“John Reynolds?” he mulls, “With all the people in the world you could have become, you chose to be a ‘John Reynolds’?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” I say, “ ‘Reynolds’ was a man who fought on the losing side of a war, a gunslinger outlaw trying to find his way in a lawless universe… It was a Joss Whedon show. I liked it, felt better than ‘Mr. Doe’.”
“Well that’s all shiny, ‘Mr. Reynolds’, but you still haven’t explained why you came all the way down here.”
I pull the cigar out from my pocket and roll it across the desk. Billy picks it up and examines it. We lock eyes for a half moment. He forces a laugh.
“You trying to send me a message John?”
“No,” I say, “But someone was trying to send me one... Somebody’s knife-man broke into my place in New York with this and a switchblade. I’d know more, but asking questions later isn’t always a valid strategy. The imagery seemed pretty obvious though; leave the corpse one last smoke, just like we used to. A Syndicate calling card, from someone upset over my new profession…at least I was meant to think so. But there was something off. Something that didn’t fit. I only realized it on the flight here. By the time I arrived I searched you up and now I’ve got a pretty good handle on what’s going on…”
Billy leans back, his face unreadable. His hand silently sinks to the lower cabinet of his desk.
“Well, you know me. We’re brother’s in blood. We owe ourselves that. If somebody’s hunting down the old gang, you have my back, I have yours.”
“Let’s not be coy Billy. I can’t trust you, and to be fair, you can’t trust me.
“Because last we met, I shot the real Billy Bath in the back of the head.”
He pulls for the drawer. In the blink my pistol flashes into my palm. A shot rings out.
It hits him across the chest, the dead center. He’s still laughing at me. I don’t have long before the men outside kick down the door.
“How many god damn times do I have to kill you?”
“As many times as you wish” he laughs weakly “but I’ll never die.”
He bleeds out, a smile carved on his face as I burst into the front office guns blazing.
A Worse Man
Piercing Weapon: standard (rank 1)
- Ranged Attack
“You’re sure it was him,” she asks, “you’re sure it wasn’t just an act?”
“It was him. His clones can change identities now, but I know it was him. I’ve killed him twice now in the last two days; seven total if we’re keeping track. But he’s still out there. The cigar was meant to make me think the Syndicate were behind it all; they weren't. Sometimes a cigar’s just a cigar… but sometimes it’s not… The big man had a rule, ‘don’t waste the good stuff to rot by a corpse’. Medium price range for cops and street level Angels. We used the truly cheap stuff for traitors in our own ranks. Morley blacks, Khazan Royals, never Cuban…There was only one instance where we used Monte Cristos, a special occasion for a man who really deserved it. Guess who.”
She doesn’t have to guess.
“You wanted to chum the waters. Send a big message, so you used the good stuff.”
“Now that he’s back, he’s repaying the favor.”
“Can’t say I blame him.”
She puts out the cigarette. I see hints of anger, depression, and confusion in her face. It’s real emotion. She didn’t know. I give her a moment, but I don’t have much time.
“I’m sorry I had to tell you this way, but I had to be sure you didn’t have a hand in this. You knew my real face, my new name, and Risk somehow managed to find me. It stood to reason… I don’t forgive myself for what I did. I don’t apologize for it either. James Tanner’s war is long over, he died in it. John Reynolds is the man before you now. He’s a better man, an honest man… well, a mostly honest man at any rate… But if you help Risk in a war against him, I promise you, you will see a man worse then anything I’ve been yet.”