The Adventures of the RPGC Task Force!
Issue 8: The Darkness
A WEEK LATER, AT THE TASK FORCE HQ...
GG Crono had just opened the bunker doors to take out the trash when Pierson crashed right into him, running excitedly into the bunker, a small white envelope in his hands. After trampling over his friend and fellow superhero, he slammed into Galloway, knocking the saiyan into the kitchen table, and didn't stop until Mabat used a shield to knock him to the floor. The wounded Task Force members joined Mabat and a curious demigod as Pierson jumped off the floor, envelope still tightly in his hands. "It's here! It's here!"
"Your commitment papers?" asked demigod.
"No, it's our check!" said Pierson. "The UN's finally going to spring for a car!" All four joined Pierson in a quick cheer.
"At last! No more driving Galloway's deathmobile!" said Mabat.
"Hey," said Galloway.
"No more tires that go flat or explode for no reason!" said GG Crono.
"No more oil and gasoline leaks," said demigod.
"And best of all, no more sitting on top of eight months worth of fast food wrappers and cups!" said Pierson.
GG Crono snatched the envelope out of Pierson's hand and looked at the check, his expression quickly dimming. "Guys...it's only for $3000. There's no way we can get something even remotely decent for that!"
THE NEXT DAY, AT BOTTOMLESS JOE'S USED SUPERHERO VEHICLE DEPOT...
Galloway's car pulled in front of the used car lot, a run-down place in the center of the dirtiest, most crime-infested hell hole in all of RPG Town, RPGCity's distant cousin. While Pierson made his way to stop a purse snatcher, the rest of the Task Force went into the lot itself, taking note of the horrible vehicles placed there, all rotting under the cold conditions of the mountainous town.
Finally, "Bottomless Joe," a fat man with the perfect sleazy appearance and disposition for a used car salesman, approached the heroes. "Ah, the RPGC Task Force! How can I help you?"
"We need a car," said Mabat. "A good one."
"Of course!" said the fat waste for a human being. "Come with me..."
MEANWHILE, ON THE PRISON ISLAND...
Papa and Mama Nukleoid continued to sit in their cells, resigned to their fate. All they could think about was their dead son, Sonny Nukleoid, remembering the wonderful life they had before that bastard, Martinez, showed up. Him, and the Task Force, the true monsters behind their son's death. Both silently swore that, first chance they got, they would kill all of them...
Suddenly, the stasis fields vanished, as several armored soldiers approached them. "Nukleoids," said one guard, its voice mechanical and pure evil, "the Eye has a usse for you."
MEANWHILE, AT THE LAND OF ABSOLUTE THIEVERY, AKA THE USED CAR DEALERSHIP...
Bottomless Joe showed the Task Force to one of the cars, a long black vehicle that seemed vaguely familiar. "Cool, the Batmobile!" said GG Crono.
"Sure is!" said Joe. GG Crono leaned over the vehicle, touching every inch of it in a sensual daze. "It's none other than the Batmobile used in 'Batman and Robin!'" GG Crono suddenly reeled back, spitting and rubbing his hands in horror at having touched that specific Batmobile.
"What if we're not looking for something that's not from the 'bad superhero movie' people?" said Galloway.
Joe showed them to a large van. "This is the basic Battle-Van, equipped with hundreds of hidden weapons. For example..." He pressed a small button underneath the "lift hood" button, causing a rocket to fire from the left headlight and slam into Galloway, blowing him into a fence.
"Far too destructive for our purpose," said demigod. "What else do you have?"
Joe showed them a red and black, jeep-like vehicle, representing an affront to all vehicular style. "This is the Spider-Mobile, on sale for about $10. Really, I just want it off this blasted lot!" demigod was intrigued at the cheapness, forcing Mabat to knock him out with an electric punch.
"Can you show us something a little less...wussy?" asked Mabat.
Joe led the last member of the Task Force to a big, empty space in the lot, covered in blood. "This was where the Invisible Jet was, but I decided to sell it off and use the spot to kill heroes and take their money." A hatchet suddenly flew from behind Mabat, slicing right into his back...
FIVE MINUTES LATER...
Pierson finished healing the last of his fellow Task Force members. "Don't worry, I managed to take out Bottomless Joe."
"So...now where do we look?" asked GG Crono.
"Actually, the woman I just saved let me buy a car she was selling," said Pierson. "It's a piece of shit, but we have enough money left over to fix it up and turn it into a car fit for a team of superheroes. But for now, back to the Death-Mobile!"
MEANWHILE, IN A SECRET FACILITY OFF THE COAST OF GREENLAND...
Several armored soldiers escorted the surviving two Nukleoids into the main laboratory, where several scientists were already standing in wait. Electronic and scientific equipment covered every wall, while a frozen capsule was lying in the center. Papa Nukleoid looked at the capsule. "So...this is the one the Eye captured in Ireland?" he asked.
A middle-aged, tan-skined, grey-haired scientist quickly took the lead amongst the researchers. "Yes. We are lucky we caught him before he moved too far."
"And his brothers?" asked one of the soldiers.
"No sign of them," said the researcher. "We lost fourteen units just getting this one. Imagine the carnage if we had gone after the others."
"And what is our purpose here?" asked Mama.
"You'll know when the time comes," said the researcher. "Just remember, the Eye does not take kindly to your defeat last time. If you are captured again, they will not hesitate to-"
Mama Nukleoid's arms extended into tentacles, grabbing the researcher by the throat and lifting him into the air. "Our son died on that mission!" she snarled. "If you so much as-"
One of the soldiers managed to sneak up from behind and slam her with a cattle prod, knocking her unconscious. Papa prepared to fire a radioactive beam, but was quickly subdued and knocked out cold. The researcher fell to the floor, in obvious pain. The Nukleoids were carried off, while the scientists resumed their duties.
MEANWHILE, IN RPG TOWN...
Pierson gleamed happily while the rest of the Task Force stared in horror at what he had just bought. It was a beaten-up Volkswagen, its doors almost all missing, its windshield cracked and shattered, its tires barely holding onto the rims. "You...paid HOW much for this?" asked GG Crono.
"About $1000," said Pierson. "Pretty good, huh?"
"D-Do you know how much it's going to cost to fix this thing?" asked Mabat.
"A LOT!" said Pierson. "But hey, who's against a little hard work, huh?"
"...I'm going to kill you," said Galloway.
The murderous thoughts were put on hold when the portable TroubAlert (tm) started buzzing. Being team leader, Galloway was the unfortunate one to answer. "Hello. What? All right, HS, we'll be right there!" He quickly turned off the TA. "We have a problem. The Nukleoids have escaped from the prison."
"...Oh me," said demigod.
LATER, AT THE RPGC POLICE STATION...
The Task Force sat in the briefing room, while Heaven's Soldier stood at the podium, several documents lying in front of him. "Gentlemen and...gentlemen, the Nukleoids have escaped from prison."
Mabat raised his hand. "We, uh, know that already. How DID they escape?"
"Turns out Joan wasn't fired like we had hoped," said Heaven's Soldier. "She was still the warden at the prison at the time of the escape, and managed to slip out with them. We're still looking for her."
"We don't need to worry about the crippled woman...that Galloway crippled," said Pierson. "What we need to work on is finding the Nukleoids. Is there any indication where they ran off to?"
"After their cells were shut down, security footage shows several soldiers escorting them to a sea plane. From there, they flew into a harbor, boarded a jet for Greenland, and from there we lost them."
GG Crono sighed. "So, we have to go to Greenland and find them somehow?" asked GG Crono.
"Pretty much, yeah," said Heaven's Soldier. "There's nothing to worry about, though; the government's willing to recognize your licenses, so as long as you don't kill anyone..." He eyed Galloway angrilly. "...you will have a limited form of diplomatic immunity."
"Is there anything else we need to know?" asked Galloway.
"The only other thing is there was a ship sighted off the coast of Greenland a few weeks ago," said Heaven's Soldier. "It managed to slip by security and vanished somewhere along the shoreline. Apparently it was carrying something of significant illegal value; otherwise, why else would it run to hide?"
"Maybe it was carrying Swedish Fish," said demigod. Everyone chuckled at the little joke.
"Okay, seriously, get your butts to the airport," said Heaven's Soldier. "We've already booked you on the 8:00 flight to Greenland, so it should be leaving...three days from now."
FOUR DAYS LATER, IN AN AIRPLANE...
The plane was nearly empty, with only about twenty people besides the Task Force on board, and none of them from RPGC. A little boy ran back and forth in the aisle, screaming and raising a hellish ruckus. Mabat constantly turned from his Catgirls Monthly, trying to decide whether the scream was some sort of skill he could learn, or was simply someone asking to be Gakoudened in the face. Pierson and GG Crono debated on whether or not they were gay (they decided they probaby weren't), while Galloway and demigod discussed the possible existance of beings far superior to our own, with the former arguing that Superman should be deemed the "God of Superheroes."
Finally, a voice blared over the loudspeaker, shouting something in some sort of strange, alien language. Pierson turned to Mabat. "Hey, blue boy! Still have that phrase book?"
Mabat put down his porn and picked up his Greenlandic-Finnish-English dictionary. "Okay...it seems the plane's being denied permission to land, so we'll have to be in the air a few more hours purple monkey dishwasher." Another series of strange words erupted. "Also, the Hans Islands truly belong to Greenland, Canada is for wusses, and the Task Force is going to be ejected as per national law." Mabat slammed the book shut, only to immediately open it back to the offending page. "WHAT?!"
Suddenly, the ground beneath all five opened, sending them falling, seats and all, falling into the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, Pierson had managed to pack a life raft, and managed to safely activate it before they hit the water. After everyone had freed themselves from their seatbelts, they climbed onto the raft, soaked from head to toe in the cold, unfeeling water of Greenland.
MEANWHILE, IN THE SECRET FACILITY...
A series of sentries stood next to a window in a small, cramped room, filled to the brim with computers and electrical devices. Papa Nukleoid's hands were pressed to one machine, which seemed to be generating massive amounts of power for the entire facility. Mama Nukleoid, meanwhile, was standing impatiently behind him. "Are you all right?" she finally asked.
"It feels like taking a piss," said Papa. "A long, sharp, urinary tract-infected piss."
Suddenly, one of the guards saw something in the distance. He raised his binoculars, and saw a small raft with five people inside. He motioned to the other sentries, and they prepared for an attack...
MEANWHILE, IN THE RAFT...
"I spy with my little eye," said Galloway, "something big, blue and useless."
"...It's me, isn't it?" said Mabat.
"Very good, blue mage!" said Galloway.
"Can you stop that already?" said GG Crono, who was huddled in one corner. "Alright, you hate blue mages, but we're a TEAM, remember?"
Pierson strained at the toughness of rowing. "Shouldn't one of you guys be rowing? I'm technically the weakest one physically here!"
"Which means you're dead meat in a prison," said GG Crono. "But as you can see, we're busy lecturing Galloway and Mabat on the powers of teamwork."
"You sound like a saturday morning special," grunted Pierson.
demigod suddenly drew back. "We have been spotted!"
Suddenly, shots rang out from the shoreline, splashing around the raft. Finally, one round managed to strike the back of the raft, puncturing a large hole and sending air rushing out. The entire vehicle suddenly began to rush forward, skipping against the ocean water for several minutes before sinking beneath the unforgiving sea.
SEVERAL MINUTES LATER...
The Task Force climbed into the rocky alcove, once again completely drenched. The cavern was lit with several florescent lights, and had a large metal door at the end. The flooded portion was seemingly large enough to fit a ship. "Good thing we found this, huh?" said GG Crono.
"From the looks of it," said Pierson, "this is somehow connected to whatever's going on."
Suddenly, the doors opened, and several armed soldiers rushed forward, holding the Task Force at gunpoint. Their armor covered their entire bodies, menacing red dots serving for eyes, their weapons all of high military grade. One of them boomed with a voice-synthesized shout. "Identify yourselves!"
The Task Force looked at the soldiers, then at the weapons, and finally at the cavern. Suddenly, demigod leaped onto the soldier nearest to him, pining him against brown-cloaked fury. In the brief moment of confusion, the rest of the Task Force followed suit, smashing down the soldiers like they were cardboard cutouts. After a few minutes of resting, the Task Force prepared for the main assault...
A FEW MINUTES LATER, INSIDE THE HEART OF THE FACILITY...
The researchers watched the life monitors on the capsule. "The power's working," said one. "The thing will be awake within the first ten minutes."
"What about our security?" asked another.
"Don't worry," said a third. Five armored soldiers entered the room, weapons at the ready. "We have plenty of guards on hand. Even that blasted 'Task Squad' won't be able to break in-"
Five more armored soldiers rushed inside, slamming down the previous five and aiming their weapons at the scientists. They removed their helmets, revealing the faces of the RPGC Task Force, plus the still-cloaked face of demigod. "Party's over, folks!" said GG Crono.
The researcher's faces twisted in pain. "Uh...he was paid to say that," said Pierson.
Suddenly, the sound of dry ice escaping alerted everyone to the capsule's opening. A heavy gloved hand rose form within, dragging up a dark form, wrapped in shadowy clothing, a hood covering most of his head. The only visible piece of skin was his face, and it was that of a young adult, yet filled with a deep grief and burning hatred.
The head researcher practically wet himself. "Oh my god! He's awakened too early! Just what the hell are those Nukleoids up to?"
Papa suddenly pulled back from the machine, his hands still green with radioactive energy. The sentries raised their weapons. "Hey! What the hell are you doing?"
"You were shooting at the Task Force, weren't you?" said Papa Nukleoid. "You stole our son's revenge!"
"You stole OUR revenge!" said Mama Nukleoid.
"You work for 'the Eye!' Your revenge is OUR revenge!"
Papa raised his hands and fired a massive radioactive beam, vaporizing every last one of them. He then turned to his wife. "Come on! We're getting out of here!"
The figure emerged from the capsule completely, his eyes locked on the strangers before him. "Wh-Who are you?" said Mabat.
"...Darkness Beckons," growled the figure.
"He-He can talk!" said a scientist. "Oh merciful god!"
Darkness Beckons pointed to the head scientist. "Where are my weapons?"
The scientist regained his composure. "There's no way I'm telling you! You'll kill us all!"
Darkness' hand opened, and a black portal opened behind the scientist, a mighty wind pulling him through just before it closed. The other scientists quickly reached into a cabinet underneath the capsule and removed two katanas, one longer than the other. Darkness Beckons grabbed both, raising them in a defensive position. His eyes turned to the Task Force. "Who are you?"
Galloway cleared his throat. "We're the RPGC Task Force. Just what the hell was the idea with killing that guy?"
Beckons said nothing. He simply raised his weapons, locking his eyes on the only entrance to the room. Suddenly, several armored soldiers rushed inside, instantly firing their weapons. Several scientists fell to the ground, bullet wounds all over their bodies, as the Task Force either raised their shields or dodged for cover. Beckons, however, danced towards the soldiers, somehow avoiding being shot at the same time. When he was only a foot away, he swung from one side of the room to the other, his long sword flashing all the while.
A few seconds after he stopped, the heads of the soldiers came flying off like bottle caps, their fingers still frozen on the trigger, bullets still spraying wildly. After what seemed like an eternity, the gunfire stopped, and the Task Force emerged from hiding. Darkness Beckons was on his way towards the exit, but stopped when a green blast erupted, barely managing to dodge the shot. The Nukleoids descended from a staircase, their eyes more focused on the Task Force.
"I see you're still alive," said Mama. "How unfortunate. We killed those men for nothing."
Darkness simply stared at them. "Ah, I see their pet project escaped. It took them so long to capture you, and you escape so easily. The Eye will not be happy with this."
Darkness raised his katanas and charged forward, prepared to cut his way out of the facility. Papa fired several more beams, but they all missed the being. Mama stretched her left arm out and hardened it into adamantium as the young man prepared to finish the terrorists...
Suddenly, Galloway flew forward, slamming Beckons from behind with a flying kick. The shadowy warrior fell to the ground with a thud, as the shield returned to being a woman's arm. Papa fired a beam at Galloway, but Mabat managed to knock the saiyan out of the way with a wind gust. Mama, meanwhile, mutated her arm into a metal spike and jumped from the stairway, firing the spike at Pierson. The only powerless member managed to dive aside and fire a taser he had pilfered from one of the scientists, striking the woman right in the spike. The electric shock caused her to revert her arm and recoil in pain, allowing Mabat a free shot with his Kouryuu Ken.
Meanwhile, Papa managed to jump forward and tackle demigod, raising his glowing hand in a finishing strike. demigod, however, managed to stick his claws into the man's eyes, sending him reeling back, his eyes bleeding. Galloway recovered, and charged towards the now blind man, slamming him across the back of the head. Papa Nukleoid fell unconscious to the ground.
"That's that," said Galloway. "Now, what about-"
Darkness Beckons leaped from the ground and lunged at Galloway, striking him in the hip. Mabat and demigod rushed forward, but Beckons ran both swords into Mabat's arms and blasted demigod with a Dark Blast. Pierson grabbed one of the unloaded guns and threw it, but Beckons smacked the item right back at him, knocking Pierson unconscious. Finally, only GG Crono was left. The superhero approached the shadowy figure, his katana raised.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked. "Why was the Eye after you?"
"They created me," said Beckons. "They stole everything. They sold me to this...Eye. I'll kill them all."
"No, you can't just kill them!" said GG Crono.
"They deserve death," said Beckons. By now GG Crono was only a few steps away.
"What about the scientists you just killed?" said GG Crono. "Or the heroes you just injured. Are they part of your revenge plan?"
Beckons looked around the room, surveying the carnage. "...No, they are not a part of this. Take them and leave." He stepped through the door to the hidden dock and vanished completely. GG Crono quickly patched up his allies, and started to look for a way out of the building.
A FEW DAYS LATER...
The Task Force sat in the briefing room again, a dissapointed Heaven's Soldier staring at them. "You let him go?"
"We didn't have much of a choice," said GG Crono. "Four of us were down, Papa Nukleoid was in critical condition, and he didn't seem to pose a threat at that instant."
"This guy slaughtered several people!" said Heaven's Soldier. "Are you telling me that doesn't constitute a risk?"
"Please sir," said Pierson, "we DID accomplish our mission. The Eye has lost another station, and the Nukleoids are back in prison."
"...You got me there," said Heaven's Soldier. "But keep your eyes open! We don't know where or when this guy will strike next!"
THE NEXT MORNING...
"This just in. The Prime Minister of Ireland was found murdered in his home last night, his body badly mutilated by what appear to be katana cuts. And now for the weather!"
THE END OF ISSUE 8
Issue 9: Secret Origins
INSIDE THE RECENTLY-DISCOVERED TASK FORCE GARAGE...
The Volkswagon was pushed into the center of the empty, oil spill-covered garage. "...At least it wasn't a Bug," said Galloway.
"So, who's going to work on this?" asked GG Crono.
"Why don't we all work on it?" asked Pierson. "I mean, it's going to take a good, long while to get this thing set up. And, you know, many hands makes light work, right?"
"...NAH!" was the organized response of the rest of the Task Force.
"Let's just review specifications first," said Mabat. "Then, we'll have an idea about what we're doing, and won't have to change anything mid-stream." Everyone nodded at the suggestion, and retreated to the briefing room to call Wilfredo over.
A FEW HOURS LATER, IN THE MEETING ROOM...
Wilfredo was seated next to Galloway at the table, while Pierson and Mabat took the sides. GG Crono simply listened next to Pierson, and demigod took absolutely no interest in the vehicle. "So we plant to bulletproof as much of the vehicle as possible," said Galloway. "How much will it cost to make it fireproof and missileproof as well?"
"Well, it'll cost about $500 to make it bulletproof," said Wil. "As it is, I doubt you could make it fireproof or missileproof right now. What else does this...thing need to do?"
"We need to add some extra speed," said Mabat. "We can't just let it slug along when chasing the Eskermobile, you know."
"The what?" asked Wil.
"Valkyrie Esker's new car," said GG Crono. "The thing is too damn fast for its own good. But anyway, speed is important."
"Since we're dealing with a Volkswagon, we can forget most improvements," said Wil. "However, I suppose we could use some boosters in the back. They'll run about $200 total."
"Okay, we have armor and speed down," said Pierson. "What about some form of weaponry?" Galloway's eyes lit up, his mouth salivating at the mention of weaponry.
"...I guess we should swing for some," said Wil. "You could probably use a rocket launcher for demolition. That'll cost about $600, and that includes only one rocket."
"Well, now we need security," said GG Crono. "We can't have Glenton stealing this baby after all."
"Fortunately, Anti-Glenton technology is provided for free by the UN," said Wil. "As long as you remember to upgrade it every five days, it'll be fine. As for your basic thief, I suppose you could use a car alarm, or possibly a stun field. Either one'll take most of what you have left."
"I guess it'll have to do," said Galloway.
THE NEXT DAY...
Pierson wheeled himself under the raised Volkswagon, while GG Crono sat on a nearby tool box. "So...how's it look from beneath?" asked GG Crono.
"Just as bad as on top," said Pierson. "Where are the rest of the guys, anyway?"
"Galloway was going to take them for pie, but then Wil offered to go, so Galloway acted like a whiny piece of crap and decided not to go. He said he'd be here with lunch soon."
Sure enough, Galloway stepped into the garage, carrying a plate of sandwiches. He set the plate on a nearby workbench and took a seat on the ground across from GG Crono. "How's it going down there?" he shouted.
"Shut it, Galloway," said Pierson.
GG Crono grabbed one of the sandwiches and bit into it. "Not too bad," he mumbled. "So...anyone got anything interesting to talk about?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing," said Galloway. "Say, how did you two get involved in the superhero gig anyway? Seeing as how you're the most human members..."
Pierson wheeled himself from under the car, his hands and body covered in oil and grease. He rose from the small cart, walked to the sink, and washed his hands off. "It's actually a funny story," he said. "It was a few years ago, before I came to RPGC..."
SOMEWHERE IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE, MANY YEARS AGO...
Pierson opened his eyes to find himself tied to a chair, his face badly beaten, his entire body racked with injuries. Several large men stood around him, dressed in fancy suits and armed with baseball bats. A figure in a metal silver mask stepped forward, his body covered in Iron Man-esque armor. "So," he said, his voice addled with a respirator, "you are the great Pierson, the Defender of the Plot Continuum."
"Only on weekends," spat Pierson. "Does Tony Stark know you're joyriding in his suit?"
The armored man laughed in a haunting, ear-shattering way. "No, little man. I am known as Lord Slash, the dark lord of all fanfiction. And soon, I shall be the supreme lord of all of existance!"
"Oh...is that so?" said Pierson.
"You pompous assholes have no idea what you're dealing with!" said Slash. "For years, I have had my minions soil the world of fanfiction with the worst horrors imaginable. By testing them on nerds and losers, we managed to perform our torture experiments on those society will not miss. Finally, we found a single sentence that, when read or spoken, will result in whoever hears or sees it to become mindless and soulless, allowing me to turn them into my slaves. At noon today, I will release this all over the United Kingdom, turning them all into my army! And tomorrow, all of Europe shall fall! And then...THE WORLD!"
Lord Slash continued to cackle to himself as he exited the chamber. Pierson managed to sneak a glance at his watch. It was 11:56 already. Cursing himself, he leaned forward, and managed to force himself to vomit on one of the thug's shoes. When the angered lug went for a baseball bat-to-the-face, Pierson threw all his weight against the back of the chair, causing the blow to hit another thug. A third thug smashed his bat downwards, but Pierson twisted onto his side at the last second, causing the bat to shatter the chair instead.
Pierson quickly discarded his ropes, grabbed one of the thugs by the arm, and ducked under another clumsy blow. He quickly popped back up and bit the thug on the arm, causing him to drop the bat out of reflex. Now armed, Pierson smashed the thug's kneecaps in, before rolling between the three remaining goons. When they all stupidly moved to strike, Pierson rolled out of the way, causing the three to knock themselves out.
With that obstacle out of the way, Pierson raced through the next room, and found himself standing in what looked like a command room of sorts. It was completely metal, and filled with countless computers and electronic monitors, including a large monitor on the wall immediately to Pierson's right, as well as a power generator. Lord Slash's back was turned, allowing Pierson to sneak to the main console and try to find an off button.
Just as he did so, he heard the sound of rockets boosting from behind. Pierson immediately ducked, as Slash flew overhead, smashing into the controls. "You think I would make it easy!" he growled. "I will see you dead!"
Pierson quickly ran around the room, luring Slash into each machine. As the fool unwittingly smashed his own plan to pieces, Pierson finally lured him to the generator. Ducking under a clumsy punch, Pierson raced to the side of the room as the power for the control room went dead. With only a few seconds to spare, Pierson used the only remaining control console to rewire the signal. When Slash pulled himself free, and started to march towards Pierson, the soon-to-be-hero ducked as the only monitor still programed to show the message flashed the sentence.
After only being on screen for a few seconds, the message vanished, and Pierson finally hazarded to open his eyes. He saw Slash staring blindly ahead, his mask now removed, revealing a pimply geek underneath, a small trail of drool dripping from his mouth. Having saved the world from this horror, Pierson left the chamber...
BACK AT THE TASK FORCE HQ...
"And so, I decided if I could save the world once, I could save it on a more constant basis," said Pierson. "That's pretty much it."
"Wow...that was wierd," said Galloway.
"Look who's talking, Mr. GMO," said GG Crono.
MEANWHILE, AT AUNTIE McFRANK'S PIE SHOP...
Wilfredo, Mabatsekker, and demigod sat at a small square table in the corner of the pie shop. Auntie McFrank, who was quite obviously a man dressed in a stereotypical grandmother gown and wig, served them a heaping helping of pie before retreating into the back room, where a guy in a green lab coat could be briefly seen. Ignoring the strange circumstances of their situation, the small group of heroes contented themselves on pie.
It wasn't long before Mabat asked the immortal question, one that had plagued them for almost two months. "So, just what are you, demigod?"
demigod dropped his fork looked at the blue mage. "Do not tread there, mortal."
"Come on, it's a perfectly legitimate question," said Wil. "You're the only member of this group that we have no prior knowledge about."
Muttering something under his breath, demigod sighed. "Very well. I will tell you everything. It began a very long time ago, in another dimension much like this one, but different."
A VERY LONG TIME AGO, IN ANOTHER DIMENSION MUCH LIKE THIS ONE, BUT DIFFERENT...
"Hey! Come out!"
The young man stumbled about the grassy fields, looking behind every tree, rock, etc. that he could find, cursing his snot of a cousin under his breath. He had been babysitting the brat for no less than five minutes, and already the bastard had started an impromptu game of hide and seek. Beneath him, the grassy hill gave way into a small valley, in the middle of which was an abandoned building of some kind, surrounded by collapsed towers and rubble. Suddenly, the young man saw something scurry by down there; no doubt his cousin.
Growling and grumbling in anger, the man walked down the hill, his eyes so narrow as to resemble slits, his face flushed pure red. The instant he reached one of the collapsed towers, a small child appeared out of nowhere and leaped onto his back, dragging the confused man to the ground. The man stared at his laughing cousin, obviously not sharing in with the joke.
"Look, little man," he said, "this is your last warning. Either start behaving, or so help me-"
"Hey hey hey!" said the kid. "Have you been in this place?"
The young man looked at the building. "Of course not. The place is forbidden, remember?"
"Oh come on!" said the cousin. "There's nothing in there! Come on, take a step inside!"
"...Fine," grumbled the young man. "But if I get killed for this, so help me..." He stumbled to the ancient wooden doors, the only things still standing, and pulled on the handles. To his amazement, and even that of the cousin, the doors practically swung open on their own. The inside of the building merely consisted of an altar, covered in overgrowth and decay, with several ruined pews lining the side of the building. On the altar was a small stone, glowing with a rainbow light.
"...Th-This wasn't here last time!" shrieked the cousin.
The young man wasn't listening, however; he was drawn to the stone. His body was seemingly no longer his own; he mechanically marched forward, his eyes unblinking, his mouth still hung open with surprise. The cousin ran behind him and tried to pull him back, but the young man was unfazed. Finally, he reached the altar, the stone now shining brighter than ever.
A voice echoed in his mind. "Take the stone, and there is no going back. You will lose everything, you will gain everything, and you will never know peace again."
The young man tried to pull his hands back, but they clasped onto the stone before he could do anything about it. The entire building was enveloped in a flash of light, as the cousin was blown clear out the door...
"After that, I awoke to find myself like this," said demigod. "My cousin had already alerted the authorities, and I was prepared to surrender myself, but-"
"I...understand," said Mabat. "I'm sorry I brought this up."
MEANWHILE, AT THE TASK FORCE GARAGE...
Pierson was back under the car, while GG Crono and Galloway played a quick game of Starcraft. After winning for the fifteenth straight time, Crono looked back at Pierson. "How's it going?"
"Most of the hard stuff is done," said Pierson. "Now I just have to install everything else."
"So, Crono, how did you enter the superhero gig?" asked Galloway.
"...Huh?" asked Crono.
"Well, Pierson already gave his story," said Galloway. "You're the only reluctant one left."
"There's not much to tell," said GG Crono. "I woke up one day with amnesia, with only a sword in my hand and a bunch of plot gods mocking me, turning me into a cliche, etc. Although there was that one time..."
THE RPGCITY SLUMS, A FEW YEARS AGO...
GG Crono continued to sulk through the city streets, taking heed of no person or thing. All he could do was continue to curse and be angsty about his lot in life, forever trapped as a bad Crono sprite recolor, cursed with the kind of amnesia that would lead most to question who they were and what their purpose was in the universe. Instead, he refused to even entertain the question; after all, doing otherwise would bring him under control of the same fates that had cursed him with such a cliche to begin with.
His thoughts quickly migrated to a series of screams coming from inside a nearby warehouse, long since seemingly abandoned. Curiosity finally took a small hold on his form, and he pushed open the large doors leading into the building. What he saw shocked him to the core.
It wasn't a damsel in distress, nor was it the screams of the tortured innocents. Rather, it was the shouts of an illegal cage fight. An arena had been built in the center of the arena, and to each side of Crono there were bleachers, all packed to capacity with all manner of fat, oily, ugly people, none of which would last half a second in the ring. In the ring itself, an oversized muscle-bound gorilla of a man, dressed in only a pair of green and blue tights, had completely paralyzed another fighter, another muscle-bound guy dressed in a rejected Hulk Hogan outfit.
A voice boomed over a PA system. "The winner, and still champion, Doomsday!"
GG Crono suddenly remembered something he had read prior to his coming to this section of town, about some sort of crime syndicate sponsoring illegal fights, with a big guy capable of paralyzing anyone he fought within five seconds. Over twenty people were already in the hospital, trapped in perpetual vegitative states without even a fraction of their bodies being damaged.
Suddenly, a pair of heavy hands grabbed onto Crono's arms. "You here for the fights?"
"Come on, you're armed!" said another voice. "You're coming with us!"
Before Crono could fight free, a pair of 1920s bodybuilders had dragged him to the cage and dumped him inside, locking the only door leading out, since they were too lazy to order the ceiling-dropping variety. Doomsday looked down at his new prey; Crono's head barely reached the top of the man's chest. "You here to take me on, little man?! HAW HAW HAW!!!"
GG Crono looked around in absolute panic, trying to find a way out, but seeing none, he steeled himself for a major grappling match. Suddenly, the voice on the PA boomed again. "Remember, folks, this is anything goes! Any weapons, excluding guns, can be used, and any form of defense except force fields and magic! Now, begin!"
A bell rang, and GG Crono immediately jumped back. Just as his hands reached the bars of the cage, a current of electricity jumped through him, sending him panting to the floor. Doomsday quickly loomed overhead and reached out his hands, prepared to crush the little man's neck like a twig.
It was over within seconds. The crowd fell silent as GG Crono fell to the ground, katana dripped in blood. Doomsday screamed as his arms continued to bleed; he had obviously never had a match last his long, much less proceed like this. "B-Boss!"
A stereotypical 1920's mobster rose from the crowd. "You schmuck! I told youse to watch for blades! Now what am I supposed ta tell the boys?"
GG Crono pointed his sword at the man. "Tell them that, if they ever try something like this again, I will be waiting."
Suddenly, the doors came crashing down, as police raided the building. The electric current to the cage was shut off, allowing the doctors to reach the battered Doomsday. GG Crono, meanwhile, whiped his katana clean and escaped in the confusion.
"I tracked those guys down a while later," said GG Crono. "With Pierson's help, I managed to bring them down."
"You mean, with your help, I managed to bring them down," said Pierson.
"You're both wrong," said Galloway. "I ran into them half a year ago, and I took them down."
"One-upmanship aside," said GG Crono, "how's the car coming?"
Pierson replaced the last headlight. "Well, the rocket launcher's installed," he said. "That leaves the upgraded engine and security system to finish."
MEANWHILE, BACK AT AUNTIE McFRANK'S PIE SHOP...
"...The peach pie sucks here," said Mabat.
"Agreed," said Wil. "The blueberry isn't too bad, though."
"...And what of you, blue mage?" asked demigod.
"...What?" said Mabat.
"You took such interest in my origins," said demigod. "What of yours?"
"There's not much to tell," said Mabat. "I'm just a blue mage. I become more powerful by copying the attacks of others. I can still remember when I first set foot into RPGC..."
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, IN THE RPGCITY DOCKS...
Mabatsekker's small boat pulled into the harbor, the blue mage jumping from the deck to the boardwalk in a single graceful leap. The crowds around him turned in confusion, but quickly dismissed the blue-haired man as simply another one of RPGC's many freaks. Mabat looked about in a mixture of curiosity, fascination, and confusion. Ever since he left the City of Heroes, he had been searching for Wilfredo Martinez; he finally located RPGC, but now he had no idea just WHERE to search.
Rather than ask around blindly, he started to explore the boardwalk, his travel bag slung to his back, his combat gi stained from weeks of being unwashed. The crowds were all shambling to and fro, occasionally stopping at the small shops and food stands that dotted the landscape. Mabat was tempted to stop at the heavily-packed "Catgirl Porn" shop, but decided against wasting his time there. Besides, someone back home would complain...
Suddenly, he heard several shouts, accompanied by the usual flow of "sailor talk." Rushing towards the source of the screams, he saw a woman being surrounded by several big, brawny sailors, as well as a navy captain. "Come on, baby!" said the captain. "Just give us what we want, and-"
"HALT!" shouted Mabat. "Release that fair lady, and no harm shall come to you!"
The sailors turned to the blue mage, one of them moving behind to secure the woman. "So, who's the moron that decided to spoil our fun?" said the captain.
"Looks like a little Fin," said one sailor.
"Indeed," said the captain. "Men, get rid of this pest."
The sailors charged at Mabat, who quickly assumed his usual combat position, before he learned the secrets of Saikyo. Without even pausing to breath, he slammed two sailors in the gut, kicked another in the chin, and threw his two captured prey into the last. With all four unconscious, only the captain remained. To Mabat's surprise, his enemy raised his hands into a combat position.
"You are skilled, young man," said the captain. "But I have a technique of my own. SPIRITUAL PALM VENGENCE!"
The captain flew forward at such a speed to leave an afterimage and struck Mabat hard with his glowing right palm. The blue mage crashed against a nearby building, but could already feel the mechanics of the technique working their way into his mind. Within the space of a second, he knew exactly how to perform this very manuever, a trick his opponent did not know.
Returning to his feet, he allowed the captain to make a few more attacks, which he quickly blocked. Once he was sure there was nothing more to learn, he raised his palm and shouted, "SPIRITUAL PALM VENGENCE!"
The surprise on the captain's face was quickly replaced by a look of pain as Mabat's glowing palm slammed into his chin, completely rendering the man unconscious. His mission complete, Mabat turned to the woman, noticing for the first time that she was a catgirl. Helping her back to her feet, he said, "Are you hurt?"
"N-No," she said. "Thank you." She kissed the young man on the cheek and ran to the boardwalk, embracing a small catgirl child as she did so. Beaming with pride, Mabat resumed his journey to find Wilfredo...
"It took me a long time, but I found you!" said Mabat.
"...You mean, I saved your sorry butt from Dracula, right?" said Wil.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE GARAGE...
The engine roared to life for a brief second, and then fell silent. Pierson pulled himself back out the drivers-side window and shook his head. "What the hell is wrong with this thing?"
Galloway and GG Crono looked up from their Super Smash Brothers game for a brief moment, and then returned to the game. After winning for the fifteenth time in a row, Galloway set the controller down. "So, I guess I'm next," said Galloway.
"For what?" said GG Crono. "We already know your origin."
"Yeah, but that's not why I became a hero," said Galloway.
"...Fine, I guess it'll help kill some time," said GG Crono.
"Well, my dad's a cop, so I managed to get some knowledge of cases before hand," said Galloway. "One night, he talked about some missing kids, so I decided I'd help..."
A FEW YEARS AGO, OUTSIDE OF A SMALL HOUSE...
Galloway, dressed in black-and-gray sweats, hid in the tall grass just outside the white-painted house, the building having long ago collapsed into disrepair. Despite this small fact, there was some light on the second floor, the tell-tale signs of someone hiding out there. He checked his dad's hunting knife, as well as the shotgun and pistol he had borrowed. Next to him sat a small portfolio, filled with the information he had "borrowed" from his dad's work. Apparently, they knew there was a link between this place and the kidnappings, but they still didn't have enough evidence for a warrant.
"That's going to change tonight," whispered Galloway. "And if this guy's in there, all the better."
He slowly moved through the grass, careful not to make too much movement as to alert anyone inside. Finally, he reached the side of the house, where there was no window, and flew upwards, landing onto the roof. Sometimes, it seemed, being a monster could have its advantages. He looked into the nearby window, but saw no one inside. Now assuming it was safe, he flipped inside.
The upstairs consisted of little more than a rotting table with a small, burning candle placed on top, as well as a small closet to the side and several empty bedrooms. The most telling sign, though, was the smell; it seemed to be coming from everywhere, especially the closet. Preparing himself for whatever was beyond, he opened the doors.
What was beyond the door goes best without saying. Just to be sure, it was the kidnapped children, but it was far, far too late for them. Galloway painfully swallowed down his vomit as he closed the doors. He had found his proof; now he had to find whoever was behind this...
As if in answer to his thoughts, he heard a sinister breathing coming from behind. He turned, and saw a man in his late fifties, holding a bloodied butcher's knife. In his hands was a young girl's body, her face forever twisted, her throat slit. "Who the hell are you?!" screamed the man.
Galloway's eyes went red with rage. "Your death."
The man cackled, dropped the dead girl, and threw the knife at Galloway. He easily dodged the weapon, but the man was on him with amazing speed, his hands tearing the shotgun free and aiming it at Galloway's head. The "hero" immediately grabbed the barrel and snapped the gun in half, raising his pistol to the man's throat. "You're under arrest, you sick-"
Suddenly, the man shoved Galloway, knocking him into the table, the force caused the candle to fall over; it rolled through a small opening in the closet door and nestled next to one of the bodies, setting it on fire. The blaze soon spread as the man began to wrestle Galloway into submission. Finally, the young "hero" decided enough was enough, and using his increased strength, threw the man through the closet and onto the funeral pyre. The man's screams were cut short as Galloway pulled his pistol and shot him three times in the skull.
As the fires continued to grow, Galloway jumped out the window and floated to the ground. As the entire house became consumed, Galloway pulled out his cell phone and called the police. "Hello? There's something you should see..."
"...You killed him?" said Pierson.
"Not that I had much of a choice," said Galloway. "I only had a fraction of my abilities at that point, the building was catching fire, and the bastard had murdered over fourty children, seven of them during that spree alone."
"Oh god," said GG Crono. "Well, it's good to see you've realized killing isn't necessary to fight crime, right?"
Galloway's face twisted uncomfortably. "Yes...right."
MEANWHILE, AT THE PIE SHOP...
Wil finished paying the bill, and the three got up to leave. "Uh, Wil, I have a question," said Mabat.
"It's why I retired, isn't it?" said Wil.
"Well...yeah," said Mabat. "You were one of the greatest heroes that ever lived! Why did you just give up?"
The three walked out the door, a small bell ringing as the door opened. The sky was overcast, while the streets were filled with various people of all types. The three continued to talk as they walked up the street towards the hills. "Remember the Virtuoso Incident?"
"You mean the arson case that killed over two dozen people, including five children and two pregnant women?" said Mabat.
"Yeah, that one," said Wil. "I..." He stopped talking.
"What is the matter?" asked demigod.
"I...just don't want to talk about it," said Wil. "Let's keep going, shall we?"
A WHILE LATER, BACK AT THE GARAGE...
Mabatsekker, demigod and Wil entered the garage, where the now completed Task Force-Mobile sat, its freshly-painted blue and gold surface shining brightly against the glare of the overhead lights. A smoking Galloway sat in a corner, obviously a victim of the security system. GG Crono gorged himself on leftover hash browns, and Pierson smiled triumphantly. "Well, folks," he said, "it's all there!"
Everyone cheered in victory, except for Galloway, who was in too much pain to move.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT AUNTIE McFRANK'S...
Auntie McFrank stood in the back room, behind the curtain. Her companion, a man in a green lab coat with a white streak in his hair and glasses, watched as people gorged themselves. "Hey, Steve, this cover is working out great!" said Auntie McFrank.
"Yes, Frank, but we must be careful," said the guy in the lab coat. "If anyone finds out we're hiding here, it'll be the end of our experiment."
THE END OF ISSUE 9
Next Issue: It's Catbeing Celebration Week, a prelude to MURDER! Can the Task Force pull themselves together, or is it curtains for every living being in...THE CATGIRL DISTRICT!