Against them stand Army Lieutenant Blaine Winters, the new Centurion of the N.Y. State National Guard's Enhanced Forces Division (EFD), and FBI Agent Tiffany Trujillo, once the superhero Titania. These two went with a SWAT team to confront the Siberian Tiger and Gun Girl Gracie at a bank heist in Brooklyn, but they got their asses kicked. Tiffany wound up in the hospital, a bunch of SWAT officers died, and Blaine would have died too if not for the prodigious gifts associated with his extraordinary genetic heritage.
Now Blaine is left to carry on the investigation by himself, while Tiffany recovers in the hospital...
The Return of Dr. Necropolis
Chapter 13: Chasing Ghosts (Part 3)
For the second time in a month, Blaine walked into the white-walled interrogation room at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. However, the man who sat across from him this time wasn’t a former super-villain. Instead, this man had once been a hero. Chris O’Connell, also known as the Owl. Formerly a member of the Diogenes Society, O’Connell had eventually gone down for literally hundreds of counts of Assault and Battery, Aggravated Battery, Unlawful Imprisonment, and other crimes associated with his work as a masked vigilante in the City of New York. Still, his arrest had been something of a scandal at the time. Like Puck, O’Connell had been strongly against the Society’s decision to disband and play nice with the federal government in the wake of the incident at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Unlike Puck, the Owl had not possessed the kind of raw ultra-human power that a person needed to truly take on the U.S. law enforcement-industrial complex and make any serious headway.
The Owl had nevertheless been a tough-guy back in the day. Though not technically ultra-human at all, Chris O’Connell was an acknowledged master of close-quarters fighting and mixed martial arts, and like his jail yard friend Frank McGuinness, he was also something of an inventor. In his hey-day, the Owl had focused mostly on street criminals in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, but he’d been fast friends with Puck, and Blaine remembered at least a few incidents where it had been the Owl’s quick-thinking that had saved the day. Moreover, the Owl was a veteran hero. He’d been there for the Radical Robot Rampage that had brought Blaine’s own mother to prominence, and he’d been at both the Grunge Goth Massacre and the Occupy Incident as well.
If the Owl had a tendency to break teeth when he worked, he was still a guy who typically broke the right teeth. Blaine’s own father had liked him, and he knew that his mother respected him, despite the fact that he was technically a mundie. That alone said quite a lot.
The Owl looked pissed to be sitting in an interrogation room, however, and honestly, Blaine wasn’t sure what he had to offer the man. He had to come up with something, though. The Siberian Tiger was still out there, and now so too was Dr. Necropolis. Against them, the City had only Blaine himself, a twenty-three year old kid wearing his father’s old mask, and the woman who had once been Titania—if she ever managed to get released from the hospital.
I have to be enough, Blaine thought. There’s no other choice. I’m all they’ve got.
Eventually, the Owl broke the silence. “What are you doing here, kid?”
Hoping for a miracle. He leaned back and tried to look thoughtful, though a part of him felt like he’d already lost control of the conversation. “I need to know about Frank McGuinness,” he replied in time.
“Why?” the Owl asked. He leaned forward, smiled so that Blaine could see his teeth. “You gonna take him down? Come on, kid, you’re out of your league. I think you know it. What’s this really about?”
“The guards said you two were friends. I wanna know why he broke out.”
“Friends is stretching it,” the Owl replied. He shrugged. “We lifted weights together. What do you want me to tell you, Blaine? It’s a federal penitentiary. There aren’t a lot of folks in here that I can talk to. Same was true for Frank, I think.”
“So you know why he broke out?”
The Owl gave Blaine a hard look. “Why do you think he broke out?”
“I assume he saw the papers, that his partner and his old girlfriend had resurfaced.”
“He did. So?”
The Owl’s answer reminded Blaine of a college professor using the Socratic method. It was like the Owl was trying to drag the meaning of a homework assignment out of a particularly dense student. Blaine suddenly felt stupid. “So what?” he snapped. “Either he’s pissed that his girlfriend is shacking up with his old comrade-in-arms, and he wants revenge, or else he’s pissed that the two of them left him here to rot for six years, or he just saw an opportunity, and now he wants to get the band back together. You were his friend. Tell me what’s going on.”
The Owl shook his head. “You have to use your brain here, kid. Look at the facts. What do they tell you?”
Blaine ignored the question. “My mother told me you could be an asshole. Looks like she was right—as usual.”
The Owl leaned back and gave Blaine a hard look. “Is that supposed to hurt my feelings? Your folks put me in prison, kid. It’s no secret what they think of me.”
“Now who needs to face facts?” Blaine replied. “My folks liked you, Chris. Hell, my mother even told me that she respected you, that you’d been a good hero back in the day. Do you know how rare that is?”
The Owl waved that away. “Sentimental nostalgia. You shouldn’t believe everything you hear.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Why do you think I’m in here, Blaine? Think about it. I wasn’t at the Bank of New York. That was all Puck. I was in Downtown Brooklyn breaking up a mugging when that all went down. But it wasn’t like it was a secret what I was doing. I operated for years—right out in the open. And then—”
“Don’t give me that,” Blaine said. “You had a secret identity.”
“Did I? I was part of the Diogenes Society, the same as the rest. Puck, Titania, your folks, Kid Zulu… There were others, but those were the main ones. Trust me, the government knew where we were, and they knew how to contact us. They weren’t shy, kid, believe it. But then the Reserve Bank happens, and… bam! Suddenly I’m persona non grata. Why the change, do you know?”
“There were casualties at the Bank,” Blaine said slowly. “There had been casualties for years. The government finally just got fed up cleaning up after you guys.”
“Really? Is that what you think?”
“What else could it be? Come on, man, you knew what you were doing was illegal.”
“Use your head, Blaine. It’s about control! It’s always been about control. When Frank McGuinness decided to go after the Federal Reserve Bank, he was going after the very underpinnings of society. He was going after the money supply. Yeah, he knew what he was doing. It scared the government to death, let me tell you. Sure, Puck stopped him. So? What about the next time? Or the one after that? The government, man, they needed their own team.
“Those guys are not stupid. They know they can’t fight the future. Ultra-humans are here, and more are being born every day. On top of that, you’ve got guys like McGuinness coming up with genetic solutions, with technology, with super-science… It’s a whole new world out there, Blaine. It’s here.
“So they did what they always do. They tried to co-opt it. And here we are.”
“The world’s a dangerous place,” Blaine said. “You want me to apologize for serving my country? For trying to help the government hold back whatever comes next? I’m not doing it, Chris. The government gave me a fair deal, and right now I’m all they’ve got left to stand against chaos. You could be out here with me, but… what? You didn’t want to serve The Man or something? Didn’t want to sully your precious reputation?”
“I didn’t want to be a weapon,” the Owl said coldly, “in the hands of people who haven’t been very good at showing restraint.”
“Wonderful. Now you’re in prison, Chris. Who is that helping, exactly?”
“Let me out!” the Owl pleaded. “Let me help you catch Frank McGuinness. You’re not going to get him on your own, kid. He’s too goddamned smart.”
Blaine sighed. “I already tried that, Chris. Do you know, I think they’re more scared of you than they are of Frank.” For just a moment, the Owl looked surprised. He covered it so quickly, though, that Blaine wasn’t exactly sure what he’d seen. “Regardless,” he continued, “if you want to help me, you’re gonna have to do it from here. So. You said I needed to look at the facts of the case. What facts? Tell me what I’m missing.”
The Owl sat silent for a long moment. Stone-faced. Was that anger, disappointment, or resignation? Blaine couldn’t quite make it out. Eventually he spoke, however, and Blaine could see in his eyes that their interview was over.
“We’re done here, kid. Good luck out there. Try not to die.”
One of the problems with telling a story like this is that it doesn't give you the chance to go back and make changes. Sure, I'll do it eventually--when I go to publish this pig formally--but if you're just following it week-to-week, you're not likely to see a change that goes into, say, Chapter 1. Especially if that change is subtle.
I bring this up because it has lately occurred to me that Dr. Necropolis's crime spree back in his heydey would eventually have become political, both for him and for the authorities. Consider: we know that Frank's last great caper was a hit on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and that he went back and struck that place twice, getting away clean the first time but running into Puck and getting caught the second. We also know that he got his start selling a sex drug to club kids in Lower Manhattan, and that he used said sex drug to induce an orgy involving a bunch of upper-class private school kids at some point, and that this made enough headlines that a guy like Blaine Winters remembered it ten years later. I've also hinted that Frank was doing some work for the Chinese Army, and that this got him into trouble with the U.S. government--more on that next week. And now, in this chapter, we've got the Owl telling Blaine that Frank wasn't just stealing gold from the government, he was purposefully trying to destabilize the currency, that this was the real reason why Frank and his former cronies hit the Federal Reserve Bank--not once but twice--that whatever chaos they caused, Frank caused it on purpose.
Unfortunately, I cannot now go back and stick Frank's thoughts on the nature of the Federal Reserve into Chapter 1.
So. If you're reading this, and you want to see why Frank decided to destablize the U.S. Dollar, you're probably going to have to wait for the Kindle edition, which will come out just as soon as I can get around to finishing this story, re-writing it, and figuring all this crap out. Which is to say, not soon at all.
Sorry about that.
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I write these stories for a few reasons. Yes, I like to write, but I also want to attract interest in this blog and in my writing in general. My first book, Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki, is out for the Kindle App and on Patreon, and the follow-up, Sneakatara Boatman & the Crown of Pluto, came out just last month. These are D&D-style fantasy adventures; they use the same WTF-style plotting that I use in all of my writing. If you like Dr. Necropolis or any of my RPG stuff, you will probably like the Sneax stuff, too. As of thise writing, Sneax is rocking a solid 4.6 stars in Amazon's reviews section. Don't take my word for it. Go check it out for yourself.
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