Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sketch in My Notebook: The Return of Dr. Necropolis (Chapter 12, Part 2)

When last we left Frank McGuinness, the man who was once the notorious super-criminal Dr. Necropolis, he'd been angry.  His former partner, the Russian super-criminal known only as the Siberian Tiger, resurfaced after years underground, with both Frank's ex-wife, Gun Girl Gracie, on his arm and Frank's greatest creation, the Neural Disruptor, wrapped around his head.  Determined to take back what was his, Frank escaped from Sing Sing Correctional Facility and made his way to an old safe house in the South Bronx.

Now Frank finds himself in a bank with police surrounding the building.  He's come for some simple walking around money, but after six years out of the game, even the easy things have become difficult.  As the police close in, Frank and his unwitting accomplish Chelsea must make their escape.

The Return of Dr. Necropolis
Chapter 12: Getting Away with It (Part 2)

“Don’t be scared.  I’m just not through with you yet.”  She swallowed and nodded, and he felt a hard jolt of desire shoot down through his body, darker and nastier than the one he’d felt before.  He smiled and saw her shiver.  “I thought you said you liked bad guys?”
She shook her head, eyes wide, and it made her hoop earrings bounce.  “I said I liked bad boys, Frank.    This isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
“Well.  You never know until you try, right?”
“I can’t believe this is happening.”
“Just do me a favor and tell me if any of those folks tries to turn around.”  Frank gestured with the pistol towards where the other bank teller and the rest were now standing by the bank’s front window.  Louder, he said, “Don’t turn around, folks.  Just gimme another minute, and this will all be over.”
“What are you gonna do?” Chelsea asked.
“Well, we can’t very well go out the front now can we?  I mean, SWAT’s about to hit this place with a hard forced entry.  Between you and me, you don’t really want to be around for that.”
“So you let me worry about that,” Frank replied.  
He pulled off the belt with the zero-point energy projector and the power pack and quickly popped open one of the circuit breaker pods.  He had a couple of hard copper bypasses in his jacket pocket that he’d brought along as a kind of emergency measure in case of malfunctions.  He used one now to replace the main circuit breaker in the energy projector.  Then he did the same to the breaker on the super-capacitor and found himself shaking his head.  He’d found exactly one really useful gadget back in his old lair, and now he was about to destroy it in a stupid local robbery that might net him all of two thousand dollars.  Maybe.  A lot depended on how much had been in Chelsea and her partners’ cash drawers.  The parts in his hands were worth twice that at least, but they wouldn’t do him any good without a buyer and some kind of secondary tech-supervillain marketplace, and in the meantime, he needed cash now.
He sighed.  You made your choices, Frank.  Now you’ve got to play them out.  
The super-capacitor was finished, but if he was lucky, maybe he’d be able to repair his energy projector—assuming he escaped.  Regardless, he was out of options.  He’d come into this with a half-assed plan, and as a result, he’d be lucky to walk away with his freedom.
No choice now but to do it and hope for the best.
“I think something’s happening out there, Frank,” Chelsea said carefully.
He snapped the covers closed over the two circuit breaker boxes.  “That’s okay,” he replied.  “I think I’ve got it.”  Chelsea looked back at him, but Frank was already pulling a pair of gas grenades out of his pocket.  He pressed one grenade into Chelsea’s hands and said, “Look, if anybody comes through that door, pull this pin and throw the grenade, okay?”
“Relax.”  He was already headed back towards the little bank’s vault.  “It’s just tear gas.  It won’t hurt anyone.”
“Then what’s to stop me from throwing it at you?” she asked.  “I could end your little crime spree right here and now.”
Frank shook his head without looking up.  “Trust me, you do not want to be around when that thing goes off.  It’s…  well, it’s not just tear gas.  I added a little something extra for the police.”
Chelsea quit talking, and Frank could imagine the look on her face, but he didn’t have time to worry about it.  He could hear the police coming from the front of the building.  He had maybe a minute, and then things were going to get really ugly.  At last he finished getting everything back together with the zero-point energy projector, found a spot along one wall where the heavy metal of the vault stood opposite a section of clean white drywalling, and had no choice but to hope that the drywall fronted more old brick construction like what he’d seen on the row house outside next to the bank.  If the drywall fronted metal for some reason…
Best not to worry about it.  
He punched in a delay of five seconds, triggered the projector, and hurried back out of the way.  Chelsea looked up with wide eyes, but Frank grabbed her and held her head down to protect her from the blast.  A whine sounded from the super-capacitor, but with the circuit breakers bypassed, there was nothing to stop the capacitor plates from charging well beyond their maximum rated capacity.  The charging whine became a scream, and then there was a sound like a sledgehammer hitting a cinderblock.  Dust fell from the ceiling, and the entire building shook.  Screams sounded from the front of the building.  Outside, the police started yelling where theye were getting ready to breach.  Frank grabbed the grenade out of Chelsea’s hands, pulled the pin, and hurled it at the front of the bank.  There was a gasp and a scream, and then the grenade exploded.  
Screaming started for real after that.  Frank grabbed Chelsea’s arm and started pulling her towards the back of the bank.  “Come on!”
She jerked free of his hands.  “What are you—”
“Stay or go, but decide!” Frank hissed.  He turned back towards the vault.  “Just do yourself a favor and stay away from that smoke.”
Chelsea turned, looked back at the smoke cloud and the crowd of people that was even then coughing and crying, clogging up the doorway as the police tried to make their way in through the door.  The scene was chaos, and it only seemed to be getting worse.  The former hostages were yelling and scratching at their eyes.  Frank was already back by the vault grabbing his things when he saw that Chelsea was following him.  
Good girl.
He pulled the pin on a second teargas grenade and turned back, allowing himself a moment to appreciate his own handiwork.  The zero-point energy projector was designed to put out a field of null-point energy to a distance of a little more than a meter from the location of the projector.  This invariably came out as a sphere around the user’s body and worked something like a standard science fiction “force field”.  It was excellent against bullets and other small arms fire, as demonstrated by Frank’s encounter with the would-be robbers earlier, and if harnessed to a sufficient energy source, it would even prove useful against more substantial threats—up to and including ultra-human superheroes like Puck if supplied with enough power.  
Frank hadn’t had a lot of power, of course, but he’d had one of Kid Zulu’s super-capacitors, and he’d been desperate enough to overcharge the thing well past the point of failure.  With the circuit breaker bypassed, the super-capacitor had stored up a dangerously large amount of charge, which it released to the projector with explosive force at the point of failure.  The projector also had its circuit breaker bypassed, so instead of creating a simple if massive one-meter sphere, it blasted the walls around it with as much null-point energy as Kid Zulu’s super-capacitor could provide on an instantaneous basis.  This did nothing to the thick metal of the bank vault, but with the vault as a backstop, it was more than enough to blow a hole through the drywall that marked the outside edge of the bank building itself—and of the masonry and timber beams beyond.  The hole was small, maybe two feet in diameter, but Frank could see all the way through into the apartment building next door.
“Come on,” he said as Chelsea looked on.  “And watch your head.  I’m afraid I didn’t have time to make the cut very neat along the edges.”
Need to catch up?  Old chapters of this tale are archived in the Sketch in My Notebook tab of this blog.

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