The Adventures of the RPGC Task Force!
Issue 5: Back to School Special aka You Should Have Known This Was Coming
ONE WEEK BEFORE THE FEUD...
Pierson was enjoying a fine meal of cold cereal and milk when Galloway came rushing in. "Hey! My research grant just came in!"
Pierson looked at him with a gaze that combined confusion and bewilderment. "What? How the hell did you get a research grant?"
"I managed to impress some big wigs in the Pentagon with the Flying Bunker," said Galloway. "And after a few blackmail threats, I managed to get them to finance my newest invention!"
"And what would that be?" asked Pierson.
"None of your business," said Galloway. "Well, so long!" Galloway rushed into the small arms depot they had turned into a lab, while Pierson suddenly got a knot of fear in his stomach.
A DAY AFTER THE FEUD...
Galloway and GG Crono entered the lab, a small room filled with computers, work benches, toolkits, and empty Diet Coke cans. A large object in the back was covered with a white sheet, except for several large wires that ran into the computers. "So that's the big invention?" asked GG Crono.
"Sure is," said Galloway. He made his way to one of the computer consoles. "It's still far from perfect, but-"
Suddenly, the power in the room went off, trapping everything in pure blackness. Since the doors were also electric, there was no way to leave the room. After a few seconds of stilled breathing and general yo-yoing, the lights came back on...revealing that the invention had vanished. "No!" shouted Galloway. "It's still not fixed! WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE?!"
A FEW DAYS LATER, AT A RANDOM SUBURBAN HOUSE...
Mr. and Mrs. O'Toole sat in their living room, watching the evening news, while little Timmy O'Toole sat in his bedroom, supposedly doing his second grade homework. The parents continued to talk about stupid, idiotic things; it wasn't until two hours later that they realized things were very quiet in their son's room. Finally, they decided to slowly open the door.
Lying on a bed was their son's dead body, a large needle filled with green liquid stuck in his veins.
THE NEXT MORNING...
"...This marks the twelth drug-related death in the student body of RPGCity Elementary School. Heaven's Soldier has stated that they have no idea what drugs go into the identified concoction, but he swears that there will soon be breaks in the case."
Galloway turned off the TV, and the rest of the Task Force breathed a sigh of relief. "This is just screwed up," said Mabatsekker.
"We need to bring this drug problem down," said Galloway. "Does anyone have any idea how to do this?"
"None whatsoever," said demigod. "Still, we must-"
Suddenly, the lights went off again. When they turned on an hour later, Galloway was holding a bunch of documents, his clothes messed up, the back of his neck sore from blackjack blows. "What the hell just happened?" said GG Crono.
"Turns out the US Government has taken an interest in us," said Galloway. "They want us to deal with the drug problem, and do it in such a way that it can later be transformed into the worst kinds of comic books: public announcement freebies."
"...Doesn't sound too hard," said Pierson. Then the knot of fear returned. "So...how are we going to do this?"
"The government stole and modified my invention," said Galloway. "Unfortunately, according to the government specifications, we need three people, and I'm not going to reduce us to two members. We need a third wheel..."
Suddenly, someone knocked on the bunker's door. Galloway punched in the open codes, and the doors slid open, revealing the angelic form of Weiila, holding a small fruit basket. Galloway's eyes immediately glazed over; he knew this wasn't going to end well. "Hello," said Weiila. "I heard you guys were moving in, so I thought I'd bring over a housewarming gift."
"Of course," said Mabat. "Please, come in!" Weiila quickly stepped inside, while Galloway continued to stand completely frozen. Finally, GG Crono moved towards Galloway. "Hey! We just talked to Weiila! She said she'd like to help!" Galloway then fell to the ground, his body still frozen. "Uh...Galloway? What the hell..."
"Crono," said Galloway, "get Weiila. I need to talk to her."
A FEW MINUTES LATER, IN THE LAB...
Galloway and Weiila sat on chairs across from each other. "Okay, what the hell is this all about?" asked Weiila.
"Weii, there's a small problem," said Galloway. "I thought they wanted us to enter as teachers or administrators or something. Then they told me about the modifications to my invention."
"What...invention?" said Weiila. She had a horrible idea where this was going.
"I was working on a new stasis field device," said Galloway. "It was a projection ray, capable of freezing objects in time and space for as long as it was powered. Unfortunately, the genius of such a device was lost on such idiots, so...they turned it into a time-matter antineutronic device."
Weiila didn't speak technobabble, but now he KNEW where this was going. "Let me guess...you want me to..."
"I didn't want you in this at all," said Galloway. "Still, it seems fate has conspired against us all. You WILL be well-rewarded for your services, if you help us."
The two exited the lab, Galloway now owing Weiila five times his life savings. The Task Force (plus Weiila) gathered in the kitchen for a team meeting. "All right," said Galloway. "Following government specifications, we are to use the time-matter antineutronic device to infiltrate RPGCity Elementary as students, and then-"
"Wait, wait, wait," said Mabat. "Did you say...as students?"
"Well...yeah," said Galloway.
"Are you SURE you didn't make up this plan yourself?" asked GG Crono.
"No, of course I didn't!" said Galloway. "But shut up and listen! We need two of you to join Weiila in the operation. One of us will pose as a parent, and the other two will mostly make city patrols and investigate normally. Hopefully, we can find whoever is getting this stuff together and beat him down quickly."
"And what if we refuse?" asked demigod.
"Then we end up in an unconstitutional prison camp somewhere in Cuba," said Galloway.
After that, nobody rose to object. "Alright then," said Galloway. "Our first order of business is to decide...who goes under the beam?"
MEANWHILE, IN THE RPGCITY SLUMS...
PC Glenton cautiously entered the Barrel's End Bar and Grill, his stomach practically turning at having to deal with such a place. The sheer filth of the area, accompanied by the disgusting denizens, practically sent him gagging for his life. Finally, he regained his composure, and took a seat at a table in a dark corner.
Sure enough, a grey figure surrounded by smoke approached him. The haze was so thick, Glenton was completely unable to tell who it was. "Do you have what I requested?" asked the figure, its voice heavy and distorted.
Glenton raised a small bag. "It's in here." The figure took the bag and handed Glenton a briefcase, filled with cash. "Is this the eighty million?"
"Yes," said the figure. "But if you're interested, I can double the amount..." He slammed what looked like a hand on the top of the briefcase, nearly chopping off Glenton's fingers in the process. "I need you to strike Little Sally Pharmacutical. A list of your targets will be available in your mailbox within the hour. Take it or leave it."
With that the figure vanished in a massive puff of smoke. Although still unsure about what just happened, Glenton grabbed the briefcase and worked his way out of the bar, ready for the figure's next high-paying assignment.
MEANWHILE, IN A BITTER SNOWSTORM OFF THE COAST OF GREENLAND...
Several scientists, clad in polar suits, made their way through a massive metal door and into an underground laboratory, inside of which sat several massive glass tubes, all connected to a large mainframe. "Is the project ready?" asked one scientist.
"Not yet," said another. "But soon."
MEANWHILE, AT THE RPGC TASK FORCE HQ...
Finally, it was reduced to drawing straws. Only Galloway was exempt, since he was the only one who knew how to operate the machine. After the straws were all pulled, the Task Force realized they had forgotten to cut two, and had to start over. The second time, GG Crono and Pierson were the unlucky recipients. With the affair settled, Galloway and demigod quickly named Mabatsekker the fake parent, and ran to get the machine.
AN HOUR LATER, INSIDE THE RPGC TASK FORCE'S LAB...
Galloway finally finished the last systems scan on his modified stasis field generator. Sure enough, whoever had programmed this device knew what they were doing: everything checked out perfectly. Of course, there was always the chance for unseen error, but considering the noose the government had over all of RPGC, he didn't really have much of a say in the matter.
Now as satisfied as he could be, he wheeled the device out to the front of the bunker. Meanwhile, GG Crono, Pierson and Weiila kneeled on a padded mat, while Mabat and demigod passed out pure-black goggles. "Are these really necessary?" asked Mabat.
"Only if you want to see again," said Galloway. Once everyone had their goggles on, Galloway turned to Mabat. "Are you ready?"
"Actually, demigod and I are headed to the RPGCPD Station," said Mabat. "We're going to see what Heaven's Soldier can tell us." With that, they hurried out the door, desperate to escape what was to come. Galloway, meanwhile, began to sweat visibly; the thought of being with three VERY vengeful kids with adult minds was NOT high on his list of priorities.
"What's wrong?" sneered Weiila. "Afraid of a bunch of punk kids?"
"You know, this happens WAY too often," sighed Galloway. "I mean, it was sick comically funny at first, but now it's just stupid!" A warning sniper shot quickly deflated his rising argument. "...But hey, what's the harm of one more time?"
Galloway moved to the other side of the stasis ray, pressed a few buttons, and pushed forward a lever. The machine buzzed to life, and a crackling blast of light emerged from the ray, blasting the three helpless hostages. The entire bunker was awash in light, along with most of the mountainside.
MEANWHILE, AT THE RPGCPD STATION...
Mabatsekker and demigod entered the station, while Heaven's Soldier continued to pound away on paperwork, Pokefreak played a game of Quake II, and Fou-lu chowed away on some old chinese take-out. "Ah, if it isn't the great RPGC Task Force?" asked Heaven's Soldier.
"Cut the sarcasm," said Mabat. "We need any info you have on the drugs, how they're distributed, or who's behind this all."
"There's not much," said Fou-lu. "The drugs rot the brain and heart at the same time, and then spread out to the rest of the body. The victim is dead within seconds of injection."
"Could this be the work of drug dealers?" asked demigod.
"Most likely," said Pokefreak. "The question is, just who is doing this?"
"We'll give you any evidence we have," said Heaven's Soldier. "Just...beat this guy down hard, will ya?"
A FEW MINUTES LATER, AT THE TASK FORCE HQ...
Mabat and demigod opened the front door, only to find Galloway hanging upside down from the ceiling, a spiked death trap constructed from silverware and broken glass immediately beneath him. On the support beam above him, a seven-year-old GG Crono, Pierson and Weiila were lying about, holding a pair of garden shears to the rope. "...You got caught this quickly?" asked Mabat.
"Just shut up and get me down from here," said Galloway.
"Hey, Gallo!" said Weiila. "Feeling faint yet?"
"Not enough to strangle you when I get down!" said Galloway.
"Did you hear that?" cooed Pierson. "I think he's trying to threaten us!"
Mabat sighed. "Kids, get down from there this instant!"
"Says who?" said GG Crono.
"So says the man who knows almost every ability you have ever had," said demigod. "Now, release Galloway!"
"Ok, we'll let him down!" shouted Weiila. She raised the shears and snapped them together, cutting the rope. At last, Galloway plummeted to his deserved doom...for a few seconds. Afterwards, he changed directions in mid-air and flew up to the beam, surprising the three kids. "...Oh right, forgot you could fly."
"Mabat, they're all yours," said Galloway. "I'm going to go on patrol with demigod. While I'm gone, I expect them to clean up this mess!" With that, Galloway landed next to demigod and joined him out of the bunker, while the three kids climbed down from the beam and stood in front of Mabat. For the first time, they noticed just how much huger he was at the moment.
"You...aren't going to make us clean this up, are you?" asked Pierson.
"On the contrary," said Mabat. "You're not only going to take out that deathtrap, but you're going to wipe down every square inch of this HQ!"
"But why?" whined Weiila.
"Because, as much as he deserved it, you guys tried to kill Galloway," said Mabat. "This is the RPGC Task Force version 3, not a bunch of Punishers or Golden Age Supermans! Now get your rags and start scrubbing!"
A FEW HOURS LATER...
Pierson, GG Crono, and Weiila stood in front of a reclining Mabatsekker, their oversized clothes and entire bodies covered in dirt and grime. "We just finished," said GG Crono. "Can we PLEASE wash up now?"
Mabat looked around the bunker. Sure enough, the walls and floor were practically reflective, while the lights shined brighter than ever before. Even the computer was cleaned, given a full virus and spyware scan, and updated to the fullest extent possible. Mabat smiled. "Sure, knock yourself out. But remember who's boss from now on!"
"Oh, come on!" said Weiila. "You know we're-"
"You're going into a sting operation," said Mabatsekker. "We can't just treat you life adults and leave it at that. When you go into the field, you NEED to behave like seven-year-olds, or whoever's behind this is going to figure something's wrong and ruin everything. Understand?"
"...How the hell did you know all that?" asked Pierson.
"I read through the case files," said Mabat. "Now, wash yourself up. We need to go over the game plans for next week."
"You mean...we're stuck like this for over a week?" asked Weiila. "What did I do to deserve this?"
"Hell if I know," said Mabat. "Now, MARCH!" Cursing and grumbling under their breath, the three children marched to the showers. Almost the instant the door closed, the front door to the bunker opened, revealing the exhausted forms of Galloway and demigod. "What the hell happened to you?"
The two stepped into the Task Force HQ as the door closed behind them. "A bunch of punk street gangs decided to start a war," said Galloway. "We had to shut them down."
"There were several fatalities," said demigod. "I doubt they shall be missed, but Galloway must get to work on the paperwork. In the meantime, we finished the shopping you asked for." The cloaked being revealed several clothes bags he had previously been hiding.
"Also, we needed to discuss living arrangements," said Mabatsekker. "We can't just let Weiila go home now; she needs to stay here until we return her to normal. And...well, I already promised her a room..."
A MINUTE LATER...
"You put her in my bedroom?!" shouted Galloway.
"It makes sense," said Mabat. "After all, this is all your fault."
"Damnit, will people stop blaming ME for this?!" shouted Galloway. "Do you want to end up in an oil barrel like the REAL Ronald Reagan?"
Suddenly, Weiila approached the room, clad in a bathrobe and nightgown. "Gallo, if it wasn't for your little invention, we wouldn't be having this problem, so just SHUT UP and live with it, okay?"
Galloway sneered at Weiila, before smiling. "Ah, how can I argue with someone as cute as you?" Weiila growled at her tormentor, and then entered his former bedroom. "...Well, who's up for Scrabble?"
MEANWHILE, IN UPTOWN RPGCITY...
Now hiding in his other luxury suite, PC Glenton went over the blueprints for his next target. When compared with his sattelite photos of guard patrols, he saw that the room where the chemicals were stashed was heavily guarded, save for a single weak point in the roof. With that knowledge in mind, he made his way to his supply closet, which was stashed with thief tools, guns, ammo, explosives, and a broom.
After arming himself with the items he needed, he prepared to strike in the morning, where the guard patrols were lessened. Then, perhaps, he would finally be wealthy enough to leave this worsening town, before the RPGC Task Force took over completely.
THE NEXT DAY...
Mabat's voice raged with the fury of a thousand blowhorns. "PIERSON! GG CRONO! WEIILA! TIME TO GET UP!" Galloway was the first to rise, the couch practically hurling him through the top of the hill. demigod was the next to arise; since the rest of the Task Force had never seen him sleep, however, it was uncertain just what he had been up to. After a few minutes of no motion from his targets, Mabatsekker walked to each individual room and kicked in the door, sending metal plowing five to ten feet into other metal. That noise was finally enough to rouse them from their slumber.
"Wha...huh?" mumbled GG Crono.
"It's time to get to work!" said Mabat. "You've got a lot of sleuthing to do!"
"...But...I thought school..." stammered Weiila.
"It IS next week!" said Mabat. "Yesterday was Sunday, remember? Now get the hell up, before I send the next message via air-to-ground missile!" With that, he made his way to his own room to catch a half hour of sleep, while the kids ducked into the closets to get dressed. Galloway and demigod were sitting in the living room when the computer began to scream, "Alert! Alert!"
Cursing under his breath, Galloway turned on the machine. Sure enough, it showed an image of the Little Sally Pharmacutical Building, which had just been broken into. "Tell Mabat I'll be back later," said Galloway. "You stay here and help him prep those three."
"But-" stammered demigod. Galloway, however, had already teleported out of the bunker, and was most likely flying as far away as possible. Meanwhile, the kids stumbled out of their rooms. Pierson was dressed in a long-sleeve green shirt with blue jeans, his eyes practically revealing his confusion and disgust with the outfit. GG Crono's hair was plastered down with about two tons of hair gel, and he was dressed in a red tank top and dark brown shorts. Weiila, meanwhile, was dressed in a green t-shirt with a small angel on the center and a pair of khaki shorts, with her usual glasses firmly in place.
The very moment the kids had finished their usual cereal, Mabat left his room, dropping his catgirl porn magazine on the way past the doorway. "Come on, let's get going!" he said.
"Just HOW are we going to get there?" asked Weiila.
"Galloway's loaning us his car," said Mabat. "It's an ugly piece of crap, but it'll get us there. Now get your stuff and move out!" demigod gave a small smile under his cloak; nothing could possibly get in the way of his relaxation...
A FEW MINUTES LATER, AT THE LITTLE SALLY PHARMACUTICAL BUILDING...
Galloway landed on the grey, lifeless building's roof, taking an immediate interest in the large hole in the ceiling. It was perfectly round in shape, and completely groveless. There were a few metallic items lying to the side, but they were mostly scrap, the kind usually found after the use of a small explosive device. Once he was sure there was nothing left of interest on the roof, he jumped down the hole, landing right into the chemical storeroom.
All manners of fluids, powders, and unidentified substances filled the general area, covering hundreds of shelves and countless square feet of flooring. Several security guards were huddled by the door, forcing Galloway to sneak through the area, lest he be caught and questioned. Fortunately, after turning around a corner, he saw several empty shelves, all labelled. Perhaps these were what was stolen...
As he stepped closer, however, he heard a small beeping beneath his feet. A few seconds later, a massive explosion propelled Galloway back into one of the shelves and caused a great deal of beakers and vials to shatter, filling the room with vapors. Galloway's concussion soon began to ebb with untold pain, as his veins began to pop out of his hands. Finally, his eyes closed, just as a bunch of lead-suited men rushed into the room...
MEANWHILE, IN THE GALLOWAY-MOBILE (AKA A RUN DOWN HYUNDAI ACCENT)
Mabat continued to drive down the streets of RPGCity, barely managing to keep on the road due to the horrible car. Weiila sat in the front seat, while Pierson and GG Crono sat in the back. "Scared yet?" said Mabat.
"What's there to be scared about?" said Weiila. "We're just going to share a room with a bunch of real seven-year-olds, all while looking for some guy to strike, and-" Her eyes suddenly bugged out, as did Pierson's and GG Crono's. "...I'm scared."
"Just remember, act like your eight, at most," said Mabat. "If you're too smart, they'll figure it out before you get a chance to hunt down the dealers. Act too dumb, and you'll end up in the special classes, never to return again."
Finally, they reached the front of the school. It was a tall, two-story, crumbling building, a black spot on the rest of the neighborhood. Kids were running to and fro, completely oblivious to the three kids and their strange father. The three kids gathered together, took a deep breath, and stepped into the school...
THE END OF ISSUE 5
Issue 6: Tip of the Needle
A HALF HOUR LATER...
Weiila, Pierson and GG Crono sat at hinged desks in a small classroom, surrounded by screaming and raging little kids, who were now unfortunately about their height and size. The walls were covered with outdated world maps, alphabet guides, word listings, pictures of famous figures from RPGC and world history, and those strange border things that dominate any given public school. All three held their heads downcast, subcumbed to their fate; to the outside world, they seemed like the typical nervous new students. Sure enough, there were no signs of the drugs or any dealings occuring yet.
Finally, the teacher, a battered old woman who had obviously been driven insase from years of having to teach little hellraisers, staggered into the room. Her nerves were practically bulging out of her body, her eyes rattling in her skull, her face looking like an elephant had trampled on it. "SHUT YOUR MOUTHS, YOU LITTLE SHITS!" she shouted. The kids quickly fell into attention. "NOW, WE HAVE THREE NEW LITTLE PUNKS: PETER, GREGORY, AND ANJA! YOU CAN START HAZING THEM DURING LUNCH! FOR NOW, TURN TO PAGE 19 OF YOUR MATH BOOKS, UNLESS YOU USED THEM TO LITE UP YOUR GODDAMN WEED, YOU LITTLE PIECES OF SHIT!"
Pierson, GG Crono and Weiila stared in absolute horror at the spectacle; the woman was clearly insane...
MEANWHILE, IN A DARK VOID...
"Who the heck is this?"
"Looks like one of those Task Force punks."
"Think he knows what's going on?"
"Let's not take any chances. Dump him in the trash compactor. There won't be a body then."
"Wait! What was that-AAAAGH!"
"No, please, don't-"
"Are you all right? I must take you to a hospital at once."
A FEW HOURS LATER, AT LUNCH...
The miniature Task Force took their seats at one of the many long tables, trays of brown slop and half-frozen vegetables on their menu for the day. "I guess school food sucks, no matter what," said Weiila.
"Couldn't agree more, Anja," said Pierson, his cheap plastic fork snapping in half when he tried to stab a frozen green bean. "Any sign of the dealers."
"Not yet-" began GG Crono. He immediately went silent as a bunch of larger kids, most likely fifth or sixth graders, approached them, their fists raised for a serious bullying. "...Oh yeah, the other fun part of elementary school."
The three sixth graders stood directly behind the seated Task Force members (plus guest). At their current stature, their soon-to-come tormentors seemed enormous. "Are these the new babies?"
"Actually, we're-" began Pierson.
"Oh, they can talk back?" said another. "Guys, did we say these punks could talk back?" The other sixth graders shook their heads eagerly. "Didn't think so. Break out the dodgeballs."
Suddenly, Weiila's eyes began to dilate, as old memories rushed back to her. The tortures she had endured on her last trip through school slammed into her consciousness, destroying all the mental boundries she had set up to block them from her mind forever. As the bullies lifted both Pierson and GG Crono into the air, she continued to sit there, simply staring forward, barely managing to hold back tears.
The splashing of blood snapped her out of her trance, as Pierson slammed one of the bullies in the jugular with his lunch tray. The other bullies, shocked to have one of their victims actually fight back effectively, retreated like the cowards they were, leaving their former companion in a fetal position on the ground. Fortunately, none of the school officials seemed to care about what just happened, instead focusing on only looking like they gave a damn about their charges.
The two turned their attention back to Weiila, who was now breathing heavily and sobbing. "Look...Anja, everything's okay," said GG Crono. "We're fine, you're fine, and he'll be breathing through a straw for a few months."
"They...they're the same," sobbed Weiila. "The exact same bastards as before...the food...the dodgeballs...all the same..."
"The experience must have awoken some long-avoided memory," said Pierson. "Nothing a few trips to the shrink won't solve. Just sit tight, and we'll get you another carton of expired milk." With that, Pierson and GG Crono made their way to the seconds line, while Weiila continued to stare blankly ahead. She didn't even notice the actual seven-year-old walk up and sit next to her, a young boy with dishelved black hair, green eyes, and a long-sleved blue shirt and black jeans.
"You look down," he said.
Weiila finally turned to the boy. "Uh...huh..." She struggled to keep from crying in front of him.
"Name's Zachary," said the boy. "We're in the same class, remember? I'm about two seats up from you."
Weiila vaguely recognized the kid. "Oh, right. Nice to meet you. Name's Anja."
The two looked down at the gurgling bully. "He doesn't look that good," said Zachary. "Guess we'd better get the nurse. Coming?" Weiila slowly nodded in agreement, and the two made their way out of the cafeteria and towards the school nurse's office. Something, however, seemed to be sitting in the back of Weiila's mind. Something about Zachary's behavior was off; perhaps he knew the real reason they were here. Perhaps he knew who she really was.
"By the way," said Zachary, "you're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
"Uh...thanks," said Weiila. Now she knew the problem: the kid had a crush on her. The thought of it both amused and horrified her.
MEANWHILE, IN RPGC GENERAL HOSPITAL...
Galloway slowly awoke to find himself in a hospital bed, his body covered in salves and bandages. demigod sat next to him, leafing through a pamphlet on heart disease. "Good, you are awake," said demi.
"Wh...What the hell happened?" asked Galloway.
"You were exposed to more gases and chemicals than I can count," said demigod. "It took forever for the surgeons to remove the black and green stuff from your lungs. It really was one of the most disgusting things I have ever been exposed to."
"G...Gas?" asked Galloway.
"Whoever had broken into that building had it booby-trapped before anyone got there," said demigod. "He or she also took the chance to bribe some of the guards, apparantly; they were probably waiting for the entire force to show up, instead of one man. That horribly overvalued strategy actually worked...in a manner of speaking."
"Do you know what was stolen?" asked Galloway.
"The list is with the RPGCPD right now," said demigod, "but from what we've gathered, any combination involving them would result in a fatal hallucinagen, capable of leaving anyone exposed to it in a coma within minutes. And there is only one person that could break into a building like that: PC Glenton."
"Glenton doesn't deal drugs," said Galloway. "He finds them too easy to trace, and too far beneath his lofty standards. It might be someone simply attempting to make the hit look like Glenton's work."
"We will speak about this later," said demigod. "For now, get some rest." With that, demigod left Galloway in pain and agony.
LATER, AT RECESS...
The entire schoolyard was filled with screaming, annoying kids, spending whatever free time they had to injure each other and punish those unfortunate enough not to fit in. Pierson and GG Crono sat underneath one of the trees dotting the landscape, while Weiila was still inside helping to clean up the blood. "This is a big waste of time," said Pierson. "There's no sign of the dealers, or the users, or even the drugs! Why the hell are we-"
Suddenly, a soccer ball came flying out of f***ing nowhere and landed into GG Crono's lap. The reduced Task Force member looked at the ball, then at the anxious kids awaiting its return. Finally, he climbed to his feet and kicked the ball to the kids as hard as he could, sending it hurtling to the center of the group. Before Pierson could even say anything, his former companion was running to join the game.
"...Great, they've become real kids," said Pierson. "This day just keeps getting better and better..."
LATER STILL, BACK AT THE CLASS ROOM...
The entire class was in silent study, as the teacher crammed three whole cases worth of pills down her throat and decided to take a nap for an hour. Everyone except for the Task Force found the three pages worth of math, much of which they had never even learned thanks to their waste of a teacher; for the Force, however, it was simply a trip down memory lane, causing them to finish everything within five minutes.
Finally, the bell to leave rang, causing the teacher to have a sudden heart attack. Leaving her to her well-deserved fate, the kids all grabbed their stuff and ran out the door, screaming at the sweet, glorious twelve hours of freedom they had struggled to earn. Right on time, Mabatsekker arrived at the school, still driving Galloway's junk heap of a car, dressed in his civilian clothes, his hair held down with industrial strength hair gel.
GG Crono and Pierson quickly made it to the car, but Weiila was stopped halfway through the door by some black-haired kid. After a few minutes, Weiila resumed her trek to the car, slowly climbing into the front passanger seat while GG Crono and Pierson made their way into the back. After several minutes of warming up, the car started, and they began their long trek home.
Meanwhile, Zachary made his way down the school's front steps, only to stop when a heavy, smoke-covered hand clasped onto his shoulder. "Hey kid, do you REALLY want to impress her?"
MEANWHILE, IN THE GALLOWAY-MOBILE...
"So, how was your first day?" asked Mabat.
"Terrible," said Pierson. "I probably paralyzed a sixth grader for life."
"Speak for yourself," said GG Crono. "I had my sweet ass handed to me on that field. God, kids today are murderous."
"A seven-year-old boy has a crush on me," said Weiila.
Everyone paused for a few seconds. "Okay, that beats out you two," said Mabat.
"AND we didn't find anything on the drugs!" said Pierson. "The whole day was a waste!"
"Well...hope springs eternal," said Mabat. "Besides, you just had to get oriented. After that, you should be able to figure out when the drug sales start, who's in charge of it, and how to beat them." The blue mage raised his left eyebrow. "By the way, was that black-haired kid your little heart throb?"
"Can it, Finny," said Weiila.
"Glad to see your sarcastic wit didn't survive," said Mabat.
"Look, Zachary's just a little kid," said Weiila, her voice very much on the defensive. "His attraction is fickle at best. I'll let him down easy tomorrow night."
Everyone suddenly became very uncomfortable. "Uh...what happens tomorrow?" asked Pierson.
"He wants me to tutor him," said Weiila. "Trust me, once I'm done with him, he'll be right back at the 'cootie' stage." She let out an evil, conniving smile that sent everyone on edge.
MEANWHILE, IN THE RPGCITY SLUMS...
Glenton stood in a dark alleyway, large black briefcase in hand. He looked left and right constantly, but he didn't see the smoke-covered figure approach him until it was right on top of him. "Glenton, do you have the stuff?"
"You know I do," said Glenton. He handed over the briefcase, and the smokey figure handed over his own briefcase, filled with eighty million dollars. "Is our business concluded?"
"Very much so," said the smokey figure.
"By the way," asked Glenton, "I know this isn't standard procedure, but...why do you need all that stuff?"
"It's for a little drug lab I have worked up," said the figure. "I plan to have the entire elementary age population hooked by next week. Farewell, 'World's Greatest Thief.'" The figure melted away into the shadows, while Glenton began to feel very, very dirty.
THAT EVENING, AT THE RPGC TASK FORCE HQ...
Galloway slowly hobbled into the bunker, his exterior body healed but his insides still in great pain. The rest of the Task Force was sitting at a healthy dinner of chinese take-out, only taking notice when Galloway started coughing blood. "What the hell happened to you?" asked Mabat.
"Gas attacks, explosions, wrong HMO, same old," gurgled Galloway. "Is there a white mage in the audience?"
Weiila sighed heavily, raised her right hand, muttered some words, and Galloway's entire body suddenly straightened itself out as a wave of energy rushed over him. "Thanks, kid," said Galloway. "So, did you find out anything?"
"Not a thing," said Pierson. "How about you?"
"We think there is a link between the drugs and a pharmacutical company burglary," said demigod. "However, beyond that, we have yet to learn anything."
"...Well, this has been a waste," said Galloway. "I'll call the government tomorrow. Maybe I can still convince them to abort the operation."
GG Crono cleared his throat. "Actually, Weiila has a-" Weiila slammed a chopstick into his left ear before he could continue. And with that overtly violent segueway, everyone had a good night's rest...but what if they didn't?
MUCH, MUCH, MUCH LATER...
GG Crono slowly awoke, struggling to turn his head to his alarm clock. "2:50...damn," he muttered. Deciding that he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep, he put his slippers back on and stepped into the hallway. He slowly walked towards the command center, in hopes of screwing around on the oversized computer, but when he neared the room he saw a large, seemingly feathered figure talking to someone on a small screen. "It does not matter how I know it's you," said the figure. "You need to stop this before it's too late."
"This is more important than you know," said the monitor. "This is just the first step in our plans for this world."
"The people here...they do not deserve this," said the figure. "Tell the High Lords to-"
"You have no say in this, fool!" said the monitor. "Just remember who you are, and who they are." With that, the monitor turned off, and GG Crono quickly beat a retreat to his room, lest the figure know he was listening.
THE NEXT MORNING, AT RPGC ELEMENTARY...
The kids were, once again, screaming and hollering at each other, often about nothing at all. Only GG Crono, Pierson and Weiila were showing any sense of civility. "I'm telling you!" said GG Crono. "Someone else in the Task Force knows who's dealing the drugs!"
"Look, it's not safe to go on something unless we're sure of it," said Pierson. "We don't need the entire Task Force disintegrating over someone possibly being a villain. I sure hope that doesn't come back to haunt us."
Suddenly, Zachary approached Weiila's desk. "Hey, Anja," he said, his mouth shaped into a sheepish schoolboy grin. Weiila only nodded acknowledgingly. "Are we still on for tonight?"
"Of course," sighed Weiila. "When do you want me to be there?"
Zachary handed Weiila a small piece of torn notebook paper. "This is my address. See you at six!" As Weiila took the note, however, she noticed something strange about his arm. The veins were practically popping out, especially around a small wound. When she saw the boy becoming very uncomfortable, she took the note, nodded again, and sent him on his way.
"...Suddenly this day got a lot better," she said.
LATER, AT RECESS...
Pierson and Weiila sat underneath their shade tree, while GG Crono gave soccer another try. This time, he seemed to be succeeding. "So, you think Zachary's using the stuff?" asked Pierson. "I thought it was 100% fatal?"
"It is, but perhaps not all at once," said Weiila. "Perhaps it's possible to survive a tiny dose of the drug for a prolonged period of time. There's no way of knowing, though."
"But what if he just drops dead?"
"I used a little white magic when I took the note," said Weiila. "It'll keep the drug down for a little while, at least until I perform a full detox tonight. Besides, I still have to send him back to the cooties stage."
"Now that just leaves the dealer," said Pierson, "and I have a crazy idea..." Weiila wisely paniced at the word "crazy," but as she reached to stop Pierson, he pulled out a remote he had "borrowed" from Galloway and activated its only red button. Weiila immediately suffered several mild electrical shocks, which finally ended when she fell unconscious. With her out of the way, Pierson made his way onto the kickball field.
GG Crono had just scored a game winning goal when his partner approached him. "Hey, man!" said Crono, still high from his mighty victory. "What's going-"
Pierson grabbed GG Crono by the head and slammed the top of his face into his knee, smashing apart Crono's sensitive forehead and eye areas. Crono managed to pull back, and countered by slamming Pierson in the jaw with an uppercut. Despite their reduced stature, they were still strong enough to beat the crap out of each other, while the rest of the school watched in amazement. Finally, the teachers stopped betting on the outcome, grabbed the two, and sent them to the principal's office.
Meanwhile, Weiila awoke from her shocking experience, cursing the ground Pierson walked on.
MEANWHILE, AT THE RPGC FIRST NATIONAL BANK...
Galloway, Mabat and demigod finished off the last of the Munchkin Mafia, sending the midgets flying in all directions. "That's one more problem down," said Mabat. "Now, let's get back to finding those dealers!"
Suddenly, Heaven's Soldier ran into the room, holding a blood-stained arrow with a note attached. "This just arrived!" he panted.
Galloway took the note, taking note of the blood on the tip of the arrow. "How did this get here?"
"It was shot right into Pokefreak's side," said Heaven's Soldier. "Now are you going to read it or what?"
Sighing, the Task Force opened the note and started reading:
"I know who is behind the drugs. Meet me at the old abandoned farmhouse next to Highway 192 at six o' clock tonight. Signed, a friend."
Galloway was practically bursting with joy. "At last! This is the moment we've been waiting for!"
"But...this may be a trap!" said demigod. "Should we really trust a message coming via arrow?"
"Yes, of course we should!" said Mabat. Suddenly, his government cell phone started ringing. Sighing, he reached into his deep pockets, picked up the device, and answered. "Hello? Yes, this is their father. They WHAT?!" The cell phone started to crack under the blue mage's rage. "That doesn't sound harsh at all! I'll be their at four!"
With that, he slammed the phone shut and threw it back into his pocket. "Those brats! They just beat the snot out of each other! They have detention AND a parent-teacher conference!"
"Well, good luck with that, 'dad,'" said Galloway. "I guess I can take Weiila home this afternoon if need be. You have fun practicing for all those women you'll knock up, you little drunk!" With that cheap shot, Galloway flew off, leaving demigod to restrain Mabat from striking him down with a flame bolt.
AN HOUR LATER, AT RPGC ELEMENTARY...
The seemingly endless horde of kids rushed from the school building, cheering their newfound freedom. Mabatsekker wordlessly walked past Weiila as she made her way to the car and the waiting Galloway. "What's going on here?" she asked.
"Long story," said Galloway. "I'm taking you home today, while Mabat deals with our other estimed members."
"Another one of those days, huh?" sighed Weiila. She climbed into the car, slammed the door shut, and patiently waited to get back to the bunker. This was going to be another long day...
MEANWHILE, INSIDE THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Pierson and GG Crono sat outside the classroom, their heads bandaged and downcast. "...I'm sorry, but I couldn't tell you the plan in the middle of the field," said Pierson. "I had to make it hurt as much as possible."
"You didn't have to knee me in the eyes!" said GG Crono. "If I could still lift my katana, I'd-"
Suddenly, a loud hissing sound began to emerge from down the hall, as a heavy grey smoke flowed from seemingly nowhere. As the two strained their eyes, the smoke took form into a trenchcoated being, its face and hands completely covered by smoke. "Hello, little boys."
"H-Hey," muttered GG Crono, unsure of what to make of this figure.
"Had a fight, I'm sure," said the figure. "I have something that will help take the pain away. Want some?"
"...Sure," said Pierson. At last, they found their dealer.
The figure handed them two needles, filled with green stuff. The two quickly shoved them in their backpacks. "A pleasure doing business with you," said the figure. "Remember to use them tonight...if you live that long."
Suddenly, the figure vanished in a puff of smoke, and several gangsters leaped out of the lockers, armed to the teeth with SMGs and AK-47s. The two Task Force members ducked for cover as the bullets began to fly, tearing into everything around them. Fortunately, the two managed to duck into the bathroom, hiding in one of the stalls, praying for some sort of salvation.
After a few minutes, the bullets stopped, and were replaced by heavy thuds, explosions, and slams. Finally, a series of heavy footsteps approached the bathroom, stopped just outside the stall. The two hugged each other, waiting for the end to come...
Mabatsekker slammed the stall door open. His entire body was covered in blood and sweat, along with a bullet wound in his left arm. The school's principal, a fat, balding man in a dull brown suit, was standing directly behind him, along with several other members of the faculty. "It's all right, kids," said Mabat. "The police are on their way to clean this up. In the meantime, I think your beloved prinicpla has something to tell us..."
LATER, IN THE RPGC SUBURBS...
Galloway's car pulled up in front of Zachary's house, Weiila practically begging to leave the horrible vehicle. "Just give me a call when you're ready to leave," said Galloway. "Have fun on your date!"
"It's NOT A DATE!" said Weiila. "I'm just helping this little boy...that's about the same size as me. Don't bother coming until I tell you to, little man."
"I-I-I'm taller than you," stammered Galloway, but Weiila was already out of the car and making her way up the driveway and to the front door. She pressed the small doorbell, which belched out a badly-synthesized version of some old 1960s song. About three beats in, the door flew open, revealing the form of Zachary, dressed up in casual slacks and a buttoned-down t-shirt. "Hello, Anja!" he said.
"Hello, Zachary," said Weiila. Her eyes immediately zeroed in on his arm; it was obviously worsening. She had to work fast. "Come on, let's get this over with."
"No problem!" said the boy. He grabbed Weiila by the arm and pulled her inside. A middle-aged bald guy with a huge beer belly and stained t-shirt sat on the couch, drinking a beer and generally ignoring Zachary's activities. "Dad! The girl from school's here!" The only reaction was a disinterested grunt. Zachary pulled Weiila through a nearby hallway and into his small room.
The bedroom was filled mostly with a small bed, with a dull green bedspread and a rusted metal frame, and a card table that doubled as a writing table, complete with a small desk lamp. "If you don't mind my asking," said Weiila, "where's your mom?"
"At work," said Zachary. "Since dad was laid off, she's been working two jobs until he can get another job." His tone lowered significantly. "That was two years ago."
Weiila suddenly had a very bad idea where this was going. "Does he...hit any of you?"
"Not me, but my mom..." Zachary looked away in pain. "C-Can we change the subject?"
"No problem, no problem!" said Weiila. For the first time this night, she began to feel even more uncomfortable than when she was first reduced. "Should we begin the tutoring, or..."
"Actually, I have something I want to show you," said Zachary. He reached into his backpack, which was thrown onto his bed, and pulled out a needle of green liquid, with was partially drained. Weiila's eyes practically bulged out of her skull. "This guy...he said this would make me more manly. Make me more attractive. It must have worked, huh?"
"Zachary...that stuff's pure poison," said Weiila. "Please put it away and let me help you."
"What are you talking about?" asked Zachary. His entire body was beginning to turn pale, his forehead drenched in sweat. "This made you come. He said you couldn't resist me after-"
"Listen to yourself!" said Weiila. "This stuff had killed over a dozen people at the school! You need to get to a hospital now!"
"No...I-I'm..fi-f-fine..." muttered Zachary. Finally, his body could take no more, and he fell unconscious. Now with no other alternative, Weiila raised her hands over the boy's body and began chanting an Antidote spell.
MEANWHILE, IN THE OLD ABANDONED FARMHOUSE...
Galloway and demigod waited inside the abandoned house, sitting on half-rotted furniture for their contact to come. Finally, a figure emerged from the shadows...PC Glenton. Both Task Force members rose in alarm, but Glenton did not move at all. "Glad to see someone made it," he said. "I have something you need to know."
"Let us leave," said demigod. "There is no need to trust this man!"
Galloway looked between the two for a few seconds, and then locked his gaze on Glenton. "All right, we'll listen."
"I was hired to rob a few pharmacies and drug companies," said Glenton. "My client was some...freak made entirely of smoke. He's the one dealing all the drugs to the elementary kids."
"Do you know where he's holed up?" asked Galloway.
"No," said Glenton. "I know he plans to hook every kid in the school in the next few days. I draw the line at killing little kids for no reason; you freaks need to stop him." Glenton threw him a piece of paper. "It's a detailed recipe for the crap. Take it, create a cure, whatever. Just stop this bastard before anyone else dies." With that, Glenton melted back into the shadows, leaving only a confused Galloway and demigod.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT ZACHARY'S HOUSE
After a half-hour of chanting and white magic, Zachary's body returned to a healthy hue, the veins over his body no longer popping out of his skin. He slowly returned to consciousness, staring with surprise at the exhausted Weiila. "Anja...what...how did you do this?"
Weiila realized she had no choice now. "Zachary...I have something I have to tell you-"
Zachary grabbed onto his bedspread to pull himself up. As he did so, the spread shifted, sending the loose needle falling off the bed...and falling point-first into Weiila's back. The girl arched back as a nervous reaction, causing the needle to not only deepen itself into her body, but also empty much of its deadly cargo into her body. Within seconds, Weiila's vision began to swim and blue, melting into an endless sea of colors. She fell forward, her entire body no longer a part of her being. Zachary screamed something, but she only heard a soft roaring.
Finally, her eyes closed, just as Zachary ran to get help.
THE END OF ISSUE 6
Issue 7: Winners Don't Do Drugs
AN EMPTY VOID...
The sounds surrounding Weiila slowly began to return, as they ebbed and flowed in a seemingly random sequence. "How long has she been like this?"
"God, I hope she makes it."
Her eyes slowly began to open, only to reveal a blurred mess...
AT THAT EXACT MOMENT, INSIDE A HOSPITAL ROOM...
The entire Task Force watched as Weiila slowly returned to consciousness. She was now lying in a hospital bed, her entire body still covered in sweat. "Wh...What happened?" she grumbled.
"You got injected by accident," said Galloway. "Fortunately, Glenton had a once-in-a-million appearance of a conscience, and supplied us with an antidote."
"And what about-" stammered Weiila.
"Your boy pal?" asked Mabat. "He's in the corridor with his dad. But enough about him. We have even bigger things to worry about, though. We're in the middle of a vast conspiracy, starting with your principal."
"And Glenton has admitted to stealing the stuff needed to make the drugs for the dealer," said demigod.
"AND at least one of the dealers is a shadowy, smoke-covered freak of nature," said Pierson.
"Whoa whoa whoa!" said Weiila. "Let's take it one step at a time, okay?"
"If you'll excuse me," said Galloway, "I have to use the little superhero's room. See you guys in a bit." With that, he stepped out of the room and into the sterile, lifeless hospital corridor.
"Okay, let's continue," said Mabat. "Somehow, the dealer at the school got the drop on us, nearly killed Pierson and GG Crono." The two kids hung their heads in shame. "When I tried to see what was going on, the idiot pulled a gun and managed to get a shot in my left arm. Fortunately, I managed to restrain him, defeat the gunmen in the most explosive battle in the history of mankind, and saved the two from hiding in the girl's restroom." Weiila snuckered at their predicament.
"The old man was willing to tell us everything," said Pierson. "The dealer is using the drugs in some scheme to gain control or kill off RPGC's youth. Unfortunately, we STILL don't know where he's operating from."
Suddenly, the door opened, and Zachary entered the room. "H-Hey, Anja. Are you all right?"
Mabat sighed; the kid was still around. "She'll be fine, kid. She just has to keep resting the rest of today."
"That's good," sighed Zachary. "Uh...can I...speak with her alone?"
The Task Force looked at each other, then at Weiila, and then at Zachary. "That...should be all right," said demigod. "We'll be going to work now. See you tonight!" With that little exchange, the Task Force departed to solve the mysterious crime.
Zachary approached Weiila's bedside, the two sharing only a brief exchange of glances. "I'm glad to see you're all right," said Weiila. "Maybe you can-"
"Why did you lie to me, Weiila?" asked Zachary.
Weiila's eyes practically popped out of her skull, her jaw slamming into her lap. "How- What are you talking about?"
"PLEASE don't insult my intelligence," said Zachary. "Don't you think I know a white mage when I see one?"
"Okay, so I now a little white magic," said Weiila. "What about it?"
"You also look just like Weiila," said Zachary. "You have no other angels in your family, you have no kids, and your boyfriend is a catboy anyhow. That, and I heard everything through the door."
Weiila suddenly felt even more uncomfortable than before. "How the hell do you know all that stuff about me?"
"I'm...uh...really interested in superheroes. Is it true you were there when they killed the god Naar?"
"That was three months ago, but yes, I was there," said Weiila. "I'm sorry I had to lie to you, but I need to find whoever's behind the drugs soon. You were just stupid enough to take some."
"Yeah, I know," said Zachary. "But-"
"Kid, we all have a lot to do," said Weiila. "You should get down to the school. I hear Ms. Crazy McPsychotits has snapped out of her coma and will execute the next tardy student."
The boy was absolutely crushed. He simply stood silent for several seconds, before slowly beginning to back out of the room. Just before he turned to run, the door suddenly slammed shut, its locks turning by themselves. Weiila jumped from her bed, but quickly collapsed in pain; her body was still wracked from the previous night. Meanwhile, smoke began to pour out of a heating vent, which formed into the figure of a trenchcoated being, its body still nothing but shifting smoke. "Going anywhere, my dear?"
Weiila tried to mutter something, but the figure raised one hand, letting out a small blast of energy, slightly smaller than a softball. The shot slammed right into Weiila's forehead, knocking her unconscious. Zachary instinctively ran towards her, but the figure grabbed him by the throat and choked him until he fell unconscious. With two cargo in tow, he stared at the nearby window, which quickly slid open, the wind screen collapsing to tatters a second later.
MEANWHILE, IN GALLOWAY'S CAR...
demigod continued to drive down the road, Mabat having had to meet with the RPGCPD on emergency business. Pierson and GG Crono sat in the back, their heads hung in solemn silence. "...If anything, we're getting closer," said Pierson.
"Yeah!" said GG Crono. "Now all we have to do is find where they're making the stuff! I'm SURE we could do that in a few hours!"
"Try a few seconds," said demigod. He pressed a button on the center console, and blue gas began to fill the back of the car. Pierson and GG Crono tried to smash the windows, but the gas quickly worked its way into their bodies, causing their entire bodies to become lax and unresponsive. Finally, they fell asleep, while demigod turned the car around and began to drive back towards the hospital.
MEANWHILE, ON THE HOSPITAL ROOF...
The figure sat on the rooftop, nestled next to a large air conditioner unit, its two captives still fast asleep. "Any time now, you-"
Suddenly, Galloway flew up from Weiila's room, his arms crossed. "Well, well, well, what do we have here?"
"None of your business!" said the figure. "Leave, mortal, and you may live!"
"Give me Weiila first," said Galloway. "And if you're obliging, the other kid, too."
"Oh, of course," said the figure. "Just come here and we'll discuss this whole mess..." The figure raised his hand, and an invisible force grabbed Galloway by the throat, pulling him from the air and onto the concrete roof. As Galloway started to rise, the figure raised his hand again, and Galloway was thrown hard into the air conditioner, leaving a massive dent in the machine. Finally, the figure telekinetically lifted him into the air, and proceeded to begin to tighten its grip, choking Galloway as he struggled to break free.
"LET HIM GO!"
A blue claw tore into the figure, and for the first time the whole encounter, it yelped in pain. Its hand dropped, and Galloway fell to the ground right behind the air conditioner, unable to stand. The figure turned, and saw demigod standing before him, Pierson and GG Crono lying at his feet. "Ah, how nice to see you here...demigod, was it?"
"You know I could easily destroy you," said demigod. "I brought you the rest of the Task Force agents, like you wanted. Will you let this world lie?"
"We shall speak with the High Lord today, if you wish," said the figure. "But for now, we have personal business to discuss. Like...why are you an ally of this 'Task Force?'"
demigod began to circle the figure as he talked. "It is an alliance of convenience, nothing more. Trust me when I say I would gladly be rid of these idiots, if I had a choice." He quickly tossed a crumpled piece of paper behind the air conditioner, fortunately doing so in such a way that the smoking figure did not see it. "Still, we should be focused on our own world, and not on conquests. Come, let us leave RPGC be."
"I am glad to see something survived your transformation," said the smoking figure. He grabbed Weiila and Zachary, and nodded to an open area at the end of the rooftop. A blue swirling portal appeared, inviting the two onward. demigod grabbed Pierson and GG Crono, and followed the figure through the portal, which closed after them.
Meanwhile, Galloway slowly forced himself off the floor, only to have his cell phone go off. The very second he pressed the answer button, Mabat's voice rang loud and clear. "Galloway! Heaven's Soldier did some fact checking! demigod is somehow linked to whoever's behind this! We have to protect the kids!"
Galloway looked at the empty roof, his faced red with anger and humiliation. "Too late." He clapped the phone shut, and looked at the paper demigod had dropped. A series of numbers were written down, indicating what seemed to be quardrants, along with a map of some kind of building, indicating weak points in the structure.
AN HOUR LATER, AT AN UNKNOWN FACILITY...
GG Crono slowly snapped back to reality, only to find himself shackled to a metal hook, which was attached to a chain hanging halfway from the ceiling to the floor. Directly in front of him was a large metal catwalk, and beyond that a factory floor straight out of a James Bond movie. Numerous figures moved to and fro, dressed in lead radiation suits and carrying several small barrels filled with undoubtably dangerous chemicals. The smoking figure was standing on the catwalk, staring towards a corner, his arms seemingly crossed. Crono turned, and saw the other three hostages, already wide awake.
"What are you going to do to us?" said Weiila.
"The same thing I do to anyone who tries to oppose us," said the figure.
"I swear, every time I get kidnapped, it leads to the same thing," said Weiila. Even Zachary winced at that comment.
"Where the hell are we?" shouted GG Crono.
"My island laboratory," said the figure, not even turning to acknowledge him. "Only demigod and I know where to find it. Trust me when I say that, there is no way the Task Force will ever find you."
"Where's that traitor?!" shouted Pierson. The entire chain swung slightly in his rage. "I'll rip cloaky's ass in seven directions! Just point me towards him!"
"demigod has business elsewhere," said the figure, "as do I. Don't try to escape, for obvious reasons." The four looked down, and saw, lying about twenty feet beneath them, a rotating cylinder-shaped container, each of its four quarters filled with a deadly trap: one a pool of melted metal, one a vat of acid, one a chamber of spikes, and one a pool with pirahnas. The figure left the group, smoking towards the factory floor.
MEANWHILE, AT THE RPGC POLICE STATION...
Mabatsekker, Galloway, Pokefreak, and Fou-lu sat around Heaven's Soldier's desk, as he pulled out a map of some sort and slammed it onto the hard wood. He pointed to a small island, about eighty miles off the New Jersey coast. "Alright, according to the note provided by demigod, the production plant for the drugs is on this island. Since New Jersey is a piece of absolute shit, it shouldn't be hard for them to sneak through customs and get the drugs to RPGC."
"But...why use an island?" asked Galloway. "Wouldn't it be more cost-effective to just...brew the drugs here?"
"It would, but this mixture requires a LOT of time, energy, and industrial power," said Heaven's Soldier. "This island has an abandoned industrial plant built on it already."
"I checked with the power companies," said Mabat. "Power consumption on the island has jumped from nothing to a freaking lot three weeks ago. That would match with what we know."
"Now comes the hard part: getting onto the island," said Fou-lu.
Heaven's Soldier motioned to Pokefreak, who took the question. "We'll use a skiff to sneak onto the island. We'll launch a two-pronged assault: Galloway and Heaven's Soldier will take the main entrance, while Mabatsekker, Fou-lu and I will blow in through the back. Once inside, we'll have to rescue the hostages, defeat whoever's behind this, and level the entire building."
"And if we can't find the kids?" asked Mabat.
"Then we blow the building with them inside," said Heaven's Soldier. Galloway, Mabat and Pokefreak eyed him with rage. "Remember, our mission is to stop the flow of drugs, and that must take precedent. And always remember, we can just blame Galloway for this."
The meeting abjourned, and everyone prepared to head for the docks...except for Galloway, who weakly sighed, "Why is this always my fault?"
MEANWHILE, INSIDE THE FACTORY
"Thirty-one bottles of beer on the wall! Thirty-one bottles of beer! You take one down, pass it around, thirty bottles of beer on the wall!"
"STOP SINGING, GUYS!" shouted Weiila. "Can't I just die in peace, and blame Galloway for this?"
"Well, to be fair, Galloway was exactly pleased with this plan," said Pierson. "I still blame him whole-heartedly, though."
"Can we get back to getting out of here?" asked Zachary.
"No can do, kid," said GG Crono. "The catwalk's too far to swing towards, and even then, we'd have to get off the hook, and even then, we'd have to deal with the guards and everyone else."
Zachary looked at Weiila. "You never answered my question. Why did you lie to me?"
"Because I was undercover," said Weiila. "Besides, don't you think being a little kid is...embarrasing?"
"No," said Zachary.
"Not as much as I thought it would be," said GG Crono.
"A little, but not a lot," said Pierson.
"Come on, guys!" said Weiila. "We're all adults or near-adults! I've had to go through this crap ever since I met Galloway! Every time I'm stuck like this, I'm either kidnapped, or dragged along some madcap scheme, until some force of luck comes along and returns me to normal! I hate it!"
"...As an actual seven-year-old," said Zachary, "I don't think it's that back. Yes, it's tough at times, but compare homework to having to work to pay for a husband who does nothing and a kid who's a stupid freak."
Zachary looked back towards the catwalk. Weiila thought about a snappy comeback, but decided against it at the moment. Their thoughts returned to finding a way to escape...
MEANWHILE, OUTSIDE OF THE FACTORY
The island was nothing more than a big, pointy rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The ground was solid, grey rock, unable to support plant life of any kind. The island flattened out at the peak, and a large, sky grey building sat. The building had the look of an old factory; primitive smokestacks burned with a heavy black smoke; the broken windows occasionally flashed with bright yellow lights; several figures in lead suits grabbed barrels from outside and carted them inside.
The assaulting force climbed from the shore, Pokefreak and Fou-lu decked out in commando equipment, Heaven's Soldier holding his twin swords, Mabatsekker thinking through his long list of blue magic abilities, Galloway polishing his katana, and all five wondering how the heck they managed to travel to the United States East Coast AND across eighty miles of ocean in less than ten minutes. The group stopped just beneath an outcrop of rocks, which blocked them from the view of the guards. A seperate path stretched around the island.
"All right," said Heaven's Soldier. "Mabat, lead your team around back. We'll give you five minutes before we launch our attack." Mabat nodded, and he, Pokefreak and Fou-lu crouched down the side path.
MEANWHILE, INSIDE THE FACTORY
The four kids continued to hang around, looking for some way out. "...I know!" said Pierson. "All we need is a can of string cheese, a paper clip, and a heat-seeking missile!"
"And just HOW are we supposed to find those?" asked Zachary.
"I knew those McGyver marathons were going to end badly," said GG Crono.
MEANWHILE, OUTSIDE THE FACTORY
"...Has it been five minutes yet?" asked Galloway.
"For the twentieth time, NO!" whispered Heaven's Soldier. Finally, his watch beeped. "All right, it's been five minutes. Let's go in!"
Heaven's Soldier snuck closer to the building, the guards too busy lifting barrels to notice him. Finally, he reached the entrance to the building, raised one sword, and slammed the flat of the blade against a guard's head. The guard's companion turned to attack the intruder, but Galloway teleported into position and uppercutted the hapless fool.
MEANWHILE, IN THE BACK OF THE FACTORY
Mabat, Pokefreak and Fou-lu snuck close to the rear of the factory, prepared for combat. However, there was only a single guard, a heavy-set man dressed in the stereotypical dock thug get-up, holding an AK-47. Pokefreak reached into his belt, and pulled out a small, red and white ball. After whispering something in Japanese, he threw the ball, which landed right next to the guard. With a puff of smoke, it vanished, replaced by a flaming red lizard. The guard looked on in surprise, which was followed with horror as the lizard jumped onto his neck and tore out his throat.
Mabat and Fou-lu looked at Poke in surprise. "Just a little relic from the past," said Poke. The monster returned to the ball, and vanished in a puff of smoke, the item now closed again. The team quickly rushed to the back entrance, which was simply a swinging door, and stepped inside.
MEANWHILE, INSIDE THE FACTORY
The four kids suddenly snapped back to reality when demigod approached them. "YOU!" shouted Pierson. "I'm gonna rip your head off!"
"I understand your anger," said demigod, "but do not worry. You will soon be free." With that, he walked to the corner of the catwalk and touched something under the railing. The chains supporting the four suddenly pulled forward, until the four were right over the catwalk. demigod followed this by pulling the four down and removing their handcuffs. "Hunt down the rest of the Task Force. I will deal with the being behind this myself." Before Pierson could stab him with his knife-pen, demigod vanished into thin air.
The sound of bullets ricocheting off the catwalk reminded them that they should start running.
MEANWHILE, ON THE FACTORY FLOOR
The entire building was in a panic; the guards and workers were not expected an attack of any kind, much less from two superheroes and three cops. Forced to wage war on two fronts, the guards were quickly beginning to fall back. This allowed for the kids to slip down a ladder and hide behind some machinery, the guards too busy to notice them.
In the front, several armed soldiers were blasted back with a single massive ki blast from Galloway, while Heaven's Soldier charged forward, running enemies through as he pushed on. A knife-wielding guard jumped from the back of a machine and grabbed onto the police chief, only to be thrown down hard. Someone managed to grab ahold of a machine gun, but Galloway tore it out of his hands and slammed him across the face with it.
In the back, Mabat blasted a pair of guards with dual Gakoudens, while Fou-lu began to plant explosives at several critical points. Pokefreak, meanwhile, released several more hellspawn, and continued his assault by throwing several flashbang gernades, the explosion of which blinded the oncoming guards long enough for Mabat to slam them senseless with an earth-shaking stomp.
Meanwhile, in the center of the factory, the kids were hunched behind a large pressing machine, which really had no place in a drug lab but to provide the typical evil factory noise. "Any idea how to get out of here?" asked Zachary.
A factory worker fell to the ground, his head landing right in front of them, his face bloodied and beaten. The punches, explosions, and screams were getting closer. "We can't stay here much longer," said GG Crono. "This place is going to be a war zone in a few seconds!"
No sooner had he said this than the fighting noise ceased. The four kids breathed heavily as heavy footsteps approached them, growing ever louder and more rthymic. Finally, a voice rang out. "Where are the kids?"
Weiila's ears perked up. "Galloway!" she whispered. She moved to reveal herself, but GG Crono quickly grabbed her arm and put a finger to his lips. "Wait here. We're not sure if they're done yet."
"Kids? What kids?" muttered a frantic, unfamiliar voice. "We're just-"
"Fou-lu, continue planting the explosives!" said another voice. The kids recognized it as Heaven's Soldier's. Another series of footsteps followed, accompanied by the sound of objects being duct taped to walls.
"What the hell are you doing, Galloway?" shouted Mabat's voice.
"I'm not leaving those kids here," said Galloway. "If this guy doesn't know, then we'll just have to inquire with his boss. Speaking of which, where is the walking leaf fire?"
"...Galloway, take a bloody analogy class, PLEASE!" said Poke's voice.
"I-I-I don't know!" said the unfamiliar voice. "Please, don't hurt me!"
Another series of foot steps rushed up. "Chief!" said Fou-lu's voice. "The bombs are all set. All we have to do is get outside!"
"Okay, can we go out now?" asked Zachary.
Pierson nodded in agreement, and all four quickly rushed from behind the machine, tackling Heaven's Soldier and Mabat. However, the two were focused on Galloway...who now held the top of the press above a thug's head. "Come on, Galloway!" said Fou-lu. "The kids are all right! Let's go!"
"Where's your boss?" asked Galloway.
The thug finally answered. "He's in the back! He'll be here soon!"
Galloway's demeanor quickly changed, from murderous and bloodlustful to pleased and contempt. He pulled the thug forward and dropped the top of the machine. "Thank you," he said. "Now, since we can't have you following us..." He slammed the thug on the back of the head, knocking him out cold. He turned to the rest of the assault team, who were still staring in shock. "What?"
Heaven's Soldider looked down at the kids. "You guys head to the boat. Mabat, Poke and Fou-lu, look for demigod and the guy behind this. Galloway and I are going to have a little talk."
MEANWHILE, IN AN INNER SANCTUM DEEP WITHIN THE FACTORY...
demigod strode into a small, smoke-filled chamber. The walls were completely gray, the ground was solid concrete, and a deep hissing noise filled the air. "Come out! This ends now!"
A voice seemed to come from all around. "I knew you never would come back to our side. You betrayed your people, demigod!"
"You are not my people!" said demigod. "I only stayed with you a brief period of time! I wish to have noting to do with you monsters!"
"Have you looked in a mirror lately?" said the voice. "You are not a catch yourself!" Suddenly, a cloud of smoke next to demigod materialized into a fist and slammed him against the wall. The cloaked being's body slumped to the floor, as the figure materialized and exited the chamber, a heavy steel door slamming shut behind it.
A FEW MINUTES LATER, ON THE FACTORY FLOOR...
Mabat and Pokefreak looked at several large, yellow steel drums. Each was filled almost to the brim with green liquid, which seemed to be literally eating through the metal. "They have enough of this crap to kill three-quarters of Asia!" said Mabat.
"This guy REALLY knows how to work!" said Poke. He looked over his shoulder to Fou-lu, who was inspecting several documents. "Find anything?"
"Not a blasted thing," said Fou-lu. "These are just a bunch of forged work orders. There's not enough here to point at anything, but I think I know how they-"
Suddenly, an invisible force grabbed all three and lifted them a foot into the air. "Hello, mortals. Did I come at a bad time?"
MEANWHILE, JUST OUTSIDE THE FACTORY...
Galloway and Heaven's Soldier took a few steps out the factory's front door before stopping. "Galloway, what the hell was that?" said Heaven's Soldier.
"You mean knocking the guy out?" said Galloway. "Well, since we were planning on rescuing as many evil workers as possible, I figured-"
"No, not that! Were you really going to kill that guy?"
Galloway lowered his head. "In all honesty...yes."
Heaven's Soldier could barely control his unbridled rage. "What the hell is wrong with you? I should-"
The sudden sound of screaming alerted them to happenings inside the building.
MEANWHILE, ON THE FACTORY FLOOR...
Poke and Fou-lu were sent flying onto the floor below, while Mabat continued to fight the smoking figure, which continued to slowly push the blue mage back. The superhero threw every attack he ever learned, but the figure simply fazed through them and responded which his own attacks, which Mabat barely managed to block. Although he could tell the attacks were magical, he was unable to concentrate or formalize just how they were being performed; in fact, the figure treated them like it was just a natural part of its body.
Finally, Mabat could take no more, and the figure kneed him in the gut, knocking him to his knees. He collapsed to his knees, lookingly dizzedly at his possible killer. "You fight well," said the figure. "Far better than your foolish friends, in any case. Have a good trip." The figure uppercutted Mabat into the air, landing on a series of stairs leading from the catwalk to the main floor. Just as Mabat started to land, however, Heaven's Soldier appeared, grabbing him before he could take much more damage and rushing him to the recovering police.
Meanwhile, Galloway flew to the catwalk, readying for some sort of battle. The figure simply sighed, raised one hand, and telekinetically blasted Galloway to the far end of the catwalk, sending him crumpling against the railing just over the rotating cylinder of death. "I have no time for you, saiyan. I never saw a blue mage before; I was interested in his abilities. I have, however, seen every trick a saiyan is capable of."
"What the hell are you planning?" coughed Galloway, a small amount of blood trickling from his lip.
"Isn't it obvious?" said the figure. He motioned all around him. "This was just the first step. I was instructed to weaken the resolve of this world, before the main force moves in to destroy it. It was easy to fool the government into thinking we were simple drug dealers; that is why they were so eager to send you. That was why we were so eager to test you. And you, my friend-"
Suddenly, the figure screamed in pain as a blue claw penetrated its smokey mass, drawing green blood for the first time since the case began. The smoky figure screamed in a mixture of pain and fear; it appeared to be the first time it was ever badly injured. The claw withdrew, and demigod circled around the figure. "Hello, 'my friend.'"
"You...traitor..." coughed the figure. The wound suddenly healed, and the figure raised his smokey hands in preparation for combat. demigod followed suit, and quickly blasted the figure in the face with a black energy bolt. The figure responded by flying forward in a cloud of smoke and encircling demigod, pounding him from all sides. The cloaked one responded by swinging both hands to the side, pushing the smoke away enough to jump out of the ring. The figure reformed, and slammed demigod in the chest, which was countered with an uppercut to what constituted as the chin. Galloway, meanwhile, stumbled to help the three wounded members of the team, as well as sweep the factory one more time.
demigod quickly began to gain the upper hand, slamming the figure across the side of the face with both fists and jump kicking him against the railing. The cloaked one lunged at the smoked one, grabbing him by what would constitute the throat in normal cases. "Surrender?" said demigod.
"This is not...the end," growled the figure. With that, it pushed demigod away with a blast of energy, and raised both hands, gathering energy around them. After a few seconds, it fired both energies at once, and a small portal was created. Before demigod could respond, the figure jumped through, the portal closing behind it.
demigod slowly walked down the catwalk, while Galloway returned to help carry Mabat out of the building. "Who was that?" muttered Mabat.
"In many ways," said demigod, "he was a brother. Let us leave it at that for now."
A SHORT TIME LATER, BACK ON THE SKIFF...
Galloway sat Mabat down, and made his way to the helm. The kids were sitting seated in the back of the boat, waiting to leave the horrible place. "Alright, folks!" said Galloway. "Let's blow this popsicle stand!" He turned the key to start the engine...and nothing happened. "The hell?" He walked to the engine, and saw that there was no charge left in the battery. "Damn! We must have burned it up when we went at warp speed somehow!"
"Now what?" said Pierson.
"I think there's a spare battery in the front," said Galloway. "I'll be back in a second." He walked to the front of the ship, while the rest of the Task Force simply stared forward, the engine panel still left open. When Galloway returned a few minutes later, new battery in hand, he saw Zachary tinkering with the machinery. "Hey! Stop that, kid!"
Mabat grabbed the child and pulled him from the machinery, while Galloway looked to examine the engine. "Nothing seems to be out of place..." Suddenly, the engine became alive, as if new energy was being pumped into it.
Everyone looked around in confusion, but deciding not to rest on it, continued on their way, driving as far from the island as possible. Meanwhile, in the background, the entire factory exploded in a rain of debirs and flame. demigod hung his head sadly, but the rest of the crew was ecstatic to escape.
MEANWHILE, ON A LARGE FREIGHTER...
Heaven's Soldier, Pokefreak and Fou-lu steered the ship, as their "passangers," consisting of workers at the factory, sat chained on the deck, next to several hundred red metal crates. "So, they snuck the drugs in deliveries of Swedish Fish," said Fou-lu.
"Nobody eats that stuff, so it must have been easy to sneak them through customs," said Poke.
"We should be meeting up with the FBI soon," said Heaven's Soldier. "After that, let's go to celebrate!"
LATER THAT EVENING, AT THE TASK FORCE HQ...
The doorbell rang for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. demigod was the one to answer this time, since Galloway was in the back and Mabat was bedridden for the next few days. At the other end was Zachary, holding what looked like either a pie of a quiche. "Hello, child," said demigod, his voice regaining a haughty atmosphere.
"H-Hello," said Zachary. "Mom wanted me to bring me to this over...and a whole bunch of other stuff..." He rolled his head to the side, and demigod leaned out the bunker door. Sure enough, there was an entire catering tray sitting outside, covered with countless pastries and foods. "Dad promised to stop drinking when we got back. Mom spent the entire drinking budget to make sure he stayed that way."
"None of you had to do this," said demigod. "Are any of your parents nearby?"
"No, Heaven's Soldier drove me," said Zachary. "He apparantly had to go solve some sort of triple murder right afterwards, and said Galloway would give me a ride back home."
MEANWHILE, IN DOWNTOWN RPGC...
Heaven's Soldier, Poke, and Fou-lu ate, drank, and were merry.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE TASK FORCE HQ...
Galloway came rushing out of the lab, covered in sweat, oil, and grease, several metal parts lying in his hand. "It's done! The terrible device those bastards created from my handiwork has been destroyed! Never again will seven-year-old kids tie me from the rafters and hang me ov...er..." He finally saw the snickering Zachary and demigod, who was probably smiling under his cloak. "Anyway, what's the kid doing here?"
"He dropped some sort of reward off," said demigod. "Can you help him?"
Galloway wiped his hands with a nearby dish towel. "All right. I hope it's sellable. I had to give all fifty dollars of my life savings to Weiila."
Zachary's eyes suddenly lit up. "Weiila? Is she here?"
"Yeah, she was zapped back to normal a half-hour ago," said Galloway. Zachary's mood gloomed. "Don't worry, I'm sure she'll enjoy the quiche...or is it a pie?"
"I have no idea," said Zachary. Galloway went outside and pushed the cart inside, while Zachary took a seat at the meeting table, staring in marvel at the sheer size of the superhero hideout. Meanwhile, Pierson and GG Crono, now back to normal and dressed in their usual outfits, wandered from the quarters and took their seats at the table as well.
Finally, Weiila stepped into the room, wheeling in Mabat alongside her. She was dressed again in her usual brown dress, her angelic wings sticking out the back of her clothes, her eyes much more relaxed and peaceful. She sat herself across from Zachary, while Mabat was placed in the empty space next to her. "You know, a quick cure spell will fix this up," said Mabat.
"Ah, shut up and endure, 'daddy Mabat,'" laughed Weiila. Everyone else laughed at Mabat's suffering, and quickly began to feast themselves on their hard-earned gift. At last, things seemed peaceful...
MEANWHILE, IN A DARK ROOM SOMEWHERE...
"So, the Task Force has succeeded again."
"The drugs have been stopped. Another threat to our operations have been stopped."
"And what of the comic?"
"We'll rush out a much simpler story, changed just enough to avoid having to pay royalties. To think it was so easy to trick them..."
"It matters not. What of the Nukleoids?"
"Their escape will commence in the coming days. With their assistance, Darkness shall be complete."
"Ladies, Gentlemen, I now order this meeting over. May the Eye watch over your enemies."
THE END OF ISSUE 7
Continue to Part 4