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  1. Chapter 4: Clang! Clang! Hannibal King stood on the rooftop of the abandoned building, looking out at the LA skyline. The three days had come and gone, and he had found what Shroud had asked him for. It had taken a fair amount of convincing to get Terri to look over this Russell guy’s phone. “You are out of your mind!” she had said in the parking lot of LAPD HQ. “You want me to do a phone dump on a phone and not let the cap know?” “I know it’s a big ask, Terri, but trust me. There may be something on this phone that can help us get Lincoln. We can finally get him off the streets for good!” Terri raised an eyebrow. “Just what have you gotten yourself into, Hannibal?” Even now, Hannibal still wasn’t entirely sure. But before he could get serious consideration to going down the fire escape and back to his one room apartment, the shadows rolled in around him. He turned to see Shroud behind him. “Good thing you showed up,” King snarked. “If I kept hanging around up here people would think I was going to jump.” Shroud didn’t look impressed. “Do you have the information I requested of you, detective?” King held up Russell’s phone. “Gave this thing the works. Russell was in contact with someone who called herself Alex Bell. Fake name, of course. My contact tells me it is alias used by a Lester Verde. College kid, lives in the suburbs. I’m going to check it out.” “No.” King looked confused. “What do you mean, ‘no’? You said you want to know who this guy is to lead you to whoever is after your people.” “I simply meant, detective, that you won’t be checking this lead out on your own.” The darkness faded back to reveal Moth and Tatterdemalion in civilian outfits flanking him. “My associates, Moth and Tatterdemalion, will accompany you. In order that this Mr. Verde may be more… cooperative in revealing what he knows.” “Now, wait a minute!” King interrupted. “I don’t need anyone’s help to interrogate somebody!” “Shroud did not ask your permission,” snapped Tatterdemalion. “Relax, Tatter,” said Moth. “This’ll be just like an episode of ‘Law & Order’.” King looked resigned at Shroud. “I guess I don’t have any choice here, do I?” Shroud shook his head, then let his darkness envelope him, leaving King, Moth and Tatterdemalion on the roof. Following the climb down the fire escape, the three piled into King’s 2008 Buick. There was an awkward silence as King drove through the congested streets. King finally broke the silence by turned to Tatterdemalion sitting next to him. “So. Tatterdemalion. I seem to remember hearing some of the vets in LAPD talking about you. Assaults. Arsons. How did you wind up with Shroud?” Tatterdemalion held his gaze straight ahead. “None of your business, detective.” Moth leaned in from the back seat. “Don’t mind him, King. He’s feeling extra old today. I can tell you my life story if you’re interested. You remember the Gala a few months back in New York?” “I.. don’t know. Wait. Wasn’t there some kind of wardrobe malfunction? People’s outfits falling apart?” Moth smiled proudly, using her powers to allow a thread from her shirt to come loose and levitate in front of King’s eyes. “Everyone’s outfits. Leaving me free to snatch a cool 15 mil.” King batted the thread away. “I thought the money from the Gala went to charity.” The thread returned to Moth’s shirt as she replied. “Sure. That’s what they say. Charities that those rich morons support, putting money into their own pockets. I was just making sure it got where it needed to go.” “While keeping 4 million for yourself,” smirked Tatterdemalion. Moth huffed and leaned back in her seat. “Let’s just be clear here,” King said. “When we get to this Verde kid’s house, I call the shots. We find out what the kid knows, nobody does anything crazy. Okay? Or this deal is off.” Tatterdemalion looked at King with a cold stare. “We are professionals, detective. Just remember that should you do something ‘crazy’, Shroud has given us permission to prevent you from compromising our organization.” The conversation in the car fell silent once more. The car came to a stop outside of a two story suburban house. The three exited the car and King knocked on the door. A short women in her 50s with fading brown hair answered the door. “Afternoon, ma’am,” King said. “I’m Detective Huey. This is Officer Lewis, and News. We’re with the LAPD and we have some questions. Is this Lester Verde’s residence?” The woman looked annoyed at the three, then looked over her shoulder and yelled. “Lester! Honey! Get your butt downstairs right now!” “Coming, Mom!” She turned back to King. “Come on in, detective. I’m Leslie Verde, Miss Verde, Lester’s mother. Is this about that computer junk? I had a feeling Lester was making a mistake buying all that stuff off eBay. Come in, come in.” Miss Verde led the trio into the house, not before Moth shot a dirty look at King. “Huey, Lewis and News? Seriously?” King shrugged as they walked into the cramped living room. “This isn’t about him messing around with web cams again?” Miss Verde went on. “I’ve always said he was to smart for his own good. You’re not here to arrest him, are you?” “No, Miss Verde. We just want to ask him some questions.” King was interrupted by the sound of feet running down the stairs. It was Lester Verde, in his mid 20s with red hair and beard. “Hey, Mom! What’s going on in here…” Lester stopped when he noticed King. He slipped on a pair of glasses. “Um, who are these people?” “They’re with the police!” Miss Verde said in a loud whisper. “They want to talk to you about that computer junk in your room! I told you it was probably stolen.” “Mom!” Lester said through gritted teeth. King stepped in between them. “We’re not here to talk about computer junk, Lester. We’re investigating a case of a man name Jack Russell.” Lester started to sweat. “Russell? Um, er, I don’t know any Russell.” “Really?” said Moth. “Well, to be fair he didn’t really know you, seeing how you called yourself Alex Bell.” “You pretended to be a girl online?” Miss Verde said in shock. “Oh where did I go wrong!” “Mom, it’s not what you think!” “And it isn’t what you think either, Lester,” Tatterdemalion said. “We have Russell’s phone. We know you used an alias to gain his trust and set him up for a meeting with people who tried to murder him.” Lester took a step back and fell into a chair. “Murder?! No, you don’t understand! I didn’t think they were gonna hurt him! They told me they just wanted to find him!” King leaned in toward Lester’s face. “Who? Who told you to catfish Russell?” “You better tell them the truth, Lester,” prattled Miss Verde. “For once in your life do something right for a change.” “SHUT UP, MOM!” Lester snapped. Miss Verde was dumbstruck as Lester put his head in his hands, then looked up at King. “They in got in contact with me months ago. I had submitted my research on sound waves and sonics. They said they would be give me more equipment and funding if I worked for them.” King grabbed Lester roughly by the shoulders. “I need a name, Lester. Or I can’t guarantee that the D.A. won’t prosecute you for conspiracy, kidnapping, and attempted murder. Give me the name!” “The Headmen!” Lester choked. “They call themselves the Headmen!” King let Lester go, then turned to face Miss Verde, Moth, and Tatterdemalion. “I think we need to take a look at Lester’s room.” “I don’t know what’s going on around here,” said Miss Verde. “But I have a feeling you people better get a warrant if you’re going to nose around my house.” Tatterdemalion turned to Moth. “Or we may need to take Lester to the… station. For further questions. Wouldn’t you agree, Officer Lewis?” Moth gave a defiant grin toward King. “Took the words right out of my mouth, Officer News.” “No one’s taking anybody anywhere,” King barked, not noticing behind him as Lester pulled out a small circular device from his pocket. Moth’s eyes widened. “Detective, look out!” Lester swiftly slammed the circular device onto a wooden coffee table and dropped to the floor. The device started beeping out the familiar melody of the Carol of Bells. King’s heart sank. “Oh what the…” At that instant the device blasted out a wall of sound that sent everyone flying. Windows and mirrors shattered, and everyone covered their ears in pain. As the noise died down, Lester leapt to his feet and ran up the stairs. “Moth!” shouted King, his ears still ringing. “Are you alright?” “Yeah, wonderful,” Moth yelled back. “Except I can’t hear a damn thing at the moment!” King drew his pistol and ran up the stairs. “Officer News! Get outside the house and guard the perimeter! Officer Lewis, stay Miss Verde!” “But I want to get the guy!” Moth shouted as Tatterdemalion staggered for the door. Miss Verde was behind the couch holding her head. “Look it at my house! That stupid, stupid boy! Look what he’s done to my house!” “Oh shut up,” Moth said. Part of Miss Verde’s sweater inexplicably came undone and wrapped around her mouth to silence her. King reached the top the stairs and slowly walked to the door that Lester had disappeared through. He gently grasped the doorhandle, then flung the door open, gun at the ready. Before him, with his back to the door, stood Lester, adjusting a red cape that covered the purple onesie he wore. He placed a bell-shaped helmet on his head, and a gauntlet with a golden sphere on the end of it on his left hand. Lester turned to face the dumbfounded detective. “You think you can stop the Headmen? You will never defeat the guardians of science! Or the genius of Doctor Bong!” With a swift gesture, Lester slammed the golden sphere against his helmet. Booooooong!!! The vibration sent Hannibal flying out of the room and onto the stairs. “So much for nobody doing anything crazy,” he muttered under his breath, fighting to stand up Doctor Bong approached him. OK: Hannibal King (Peak human, police training, gun) (For those of you who know him from Blade, he hasn’t reached that point yet), Moth, and Tatterdemalion vs Doctor Bong (Younger version of the original character with the same powers and traits) If Doctor Bong escapes, he wins. If King, Moth, and Tatterdemalion catch him, they win. Game On!
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