The Defenders #6

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The Defenders #6

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:22 pm

Defenders #6
"Bring on the Bad Guys!"
By Paul E. Schultz


Fred Myers glanced about the empty warehouse as he stepped through the side entrance. "Crikey, this is a bit dramatic."

"There's no smokin' in here, pal," came a voice from the shadows of the crates lining the walls. Gary Gilbert emerged from the shadows, his footsteps echoing off of the concrete floor.

"You look pretty good for a dead man, mate," said Myers, smiling thinly.

"Scourge is a lousy shot." Gilbert shrugged. He was a thin man, noted Myers, with an unkempt mop of brown hair. "I got better."

Myers chuckled, still smoking. "We it?"

"So far."

***

"Michael Morbius? Seriously? The Dr. Michael Morbius? Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and..."

"Living vampire. Yes, yes, I know. Not the most reliable of sources, but back in the day, he was easy to handle due to his particular...addiction. Controlling junkies doesn't take a genius."

"Lucky for you."

"Very funny. He acquired the blood sample for me a long time ago from a nurse who tended to Jennifer Walters shortly after she..."

"Hulked out?"

"In a manner of speaking. But, tell me, will the sample work?"

The man men would call "mad" looked up from the microscope at the scrawny, pitiful excuse for someone who once possessed a genius-level intellect. He smiled thinly and returned to his microscope.. "It will...suffice. But, tell me, Sterns, what happened to 'your guy' as you put it? And after all the calculations I did to replicate the effect you desired?"

Samuel Sterns shrugged and glanced around the room uneasily . "This just seemed easier. I owe you as it is, right? But, a veterinary clinic?"

"Beggars are not meant to be choosers, Sterns. I know the owner. He won't mind us using his facility at this late hour. Hard to care about such things when you're dead, anyway. Now lay back and roll up your sleeve."

Sterns did as he was asked, eying his companion cautiously under the harsh light of the procedure room. He winced inwardly at the gentle pricking of his bicep from the needle.

"There!" The Mad Thinker said, applying a Hello Kitty bandage He tousled Sterns's hair. "Good boy."

Sterns sat up on the bench, his feet barely touching the floor, rubbing the bandaged area. He said, "I...I don't feel a thing."

"Don't worry," said the other man, pulling a small pistol from a nearby drawer. "You will."

BANG!

***

"Who the bloody hell are you supposed to be, mate?"

"Horgan," said the man stepping into the warehouse. He looked over the other two men a moment, then: "Bruno Horgan."

"The Melter?" gasped Gilbert.

Myers laughed. "It's like the walking dead in here. I heard Scourge got you, too, like he did my new-found mate here."

Horgan looked the Australian over, grunting, "An' which one of the Wiggles are you again?"

"Funny," said Myers humorlessly. "Just remember mate, I went toe-to-toe with the Hulk awhile back."

"Is this a private party, or can anybody join in?" came yet another voice. The three men turned to see a gaunt figure step in from outside. He carried a gym bag that looked nearly as heavy as he was slung over one shoulder.

"You gotta be kiddin' me," muttered Horgan. "DiBacco?"

"Bird Man?" laughed Gilbert.

Archille DiBacco dropped his bag to the floor. "Good to see you above ground as well, Gilbert. Or are you going by Firebrand again?"

"Wait a second here," said Myers, stepping back a few feet, reaching into his black sports jacket. "If this is some kinda set-up, I'll--"

"For your sake, Boomerang," said Horgan, leveling his gaze upon the other man, "you'd better be going for your smokes."

***

Samuel Sterns looked at himself in the mirror, hands gripping the sink. Eyes wide with terror gazed upon the gray-skinned Neanderthal starring back in the mirror. Massive shoulders wore the remains of his shredded clothing. His every muscle seemed to shake in terror, the quickly-healing bullet hole in his left thigh all but forgotten. The tiny projectile spit forth from the puckering wound, rolling harmlessly across the tiled floor.

"What...what have you done?!" snarled Sterns. "You've turned me...into him!"

"Well, an earlier version actually. I anticipated this, of course."

"You!" Sterns turned to look upon the smiling face of the man standing behind him. The sink pulled as easily from the wall in his hands as a mere root of a weed from the ground. Water sprayed up from a ruptured pipe, washing across the floor. "You...knew this would happen! You...tricked me!"

"I calculated the risk. I wasn't expecting...gray, though. I suspect it has to do with--"

"I'll show you calculations!" Sterns lunged forward, enormous, gray hands out-strteched. His face turned from a mask of rage to that of confusion as The Mad Thinker but raised his own hand. The muscles in Sterns's new body froze. "What's...what's happening? How...?"

"Nano-inhibitors. I'm not called 'The Thinker' for nothing, Sterns. Your dim-witted sense of trust gave me ample time to inject the inhibitors into the blood sample. Now, if you even consider striking me, with the nano-broadcasters I've injected into my own bloodstream, your voluntary muscles will lock up."

"Why?!"

"Why? It's because it's what you've always wanted, my friend. I gave you unlimited power."

***

"Would you relax?" warned Horgan. "We all got the same message."

"Maybe, but they never did catch that Scourge character," said Myers, hand still inside his jacket. "How do I know one of you ain't him? This whole thing could be a trap to set me up."

"Oh, yeah," chuckled Gilbert, pulling a Zippo from his pants pocket, "you're just that important."

"And if this was a set-up," said Horgan, "do you think we'd use somebody as ridiculous as Bird-Man? No offense Dibacco."

"I'm so sure," said Dibacco, tone dripping sarcasm, "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm here for work. Let's not get too carried away now."

"I'm tellin' you, I smell a rat," declared Myers. "You three are supposed to be dead as Dillinger, yet here you are."

"The guy's a lousy shot," insisted Horgan. "Yeah, he got a bunch of us. I spent months in the hospital and a year in rehabilitative therapy. I heard Cap got the guy while I was down and out, but then I heard it wasn't him. Either way, it's been years since anyone's heard from him."

"Which is exactly what he wants," said Gilbert.

"You, too?" asked Horgan, waving a hand as if to erase all of them. He turned for the door. "Jesus, I don't need work this bad. You guys can go stuff yourself--"

"Horgan," warned Myers, "you take one more step and I swear to Matilda, I'll--"

"Screw this!" Gilbert raised his Zippo, flicking it open. A tremendous gout of flames shot forth, missing Myers by inches as he dove for the cover of a wooden crate.

As Myers dove for cover, he sent the boomerang in his jacket sailing through the air. A few feet from his hand, it burst into flames, continuing its arch high overhead, setting off the sprinklers. Water showered down upon the four of them, killing Gilbert's flamethrower instantly.

Dibacco dove for his gym bag, quickly unzipping it. He pulled the shiny, crimson, bird-like helmet from it.

"Oh, no ya don't!" barked Horgan as the front of his jacket erupted in a brilliant flash of light. The nearly blinding light from the lens he wore under his garments ripped through the air, instantly reducing Dibacco's helmet to molten liquid.

"My hands!" cried Dibacco.

"I told you wankers I once faced off with the Hulk!" shouted Myers, pitching another boomerang as he dove for the nearby frosted glass window. He barely cleared the window and was followed out by a rush of heat and flames. He scrambled for the shelter of a heavy, green dumpster as the warehouse erupted in a ball of flames and raining debris.

For a moment, he watched, wide-eyed, for survivors, boomerang in his hand. Shadows cast by the dancing flames played up and down the alley. Satisfied he was safe, he replaced the boomerang inside his jacket and took out a cigarette.

"Wiggles, my ass," he muttered, lighting his cigarette.

"Chicago police!" came a woman's voice behind him. "Hands up where I can see them! Turn around slow! On the ground!"

Resisting the urge to smile, Myers did as the beautiful black woman commanded.

"This is Officer Parks!" she called into her shoulder-mounted radio. "Requesting back-up!"

***

"Chicago? Why in God's name would you settle on Chicago?"

"Think about it, Sterns. Just don't hurt yourself. There are no so-called superheroes in Chicago. The city is ripe for the taking!"

"What about the ones from the I-Hop? The ones who call themselves The Defenders?"

"Sterns, from now on, leave the heavy thinking to those more qualified. You concentrate on the heavy lifting. Those...Defenders could scarcely take down my android. Besides that, they're currently incarcerated. What chance do you think they would have against a small army of super-powered mercenaries?"

"Like who?"

The Thinker handed his gray-skinned companion a clip board full of papers. In spite of his enormous fingers, Sterns managed to flip through them. After a moment, he looked up, puzzled and asked, "Ain't most of these guys dead?"

"Dead is a relative term, Sterns. But we should leave here. The gunfire may have attracted unwanted attention, even in this neighborhood. Come, my mini van is parked out back."

"So, where did you find these guys?"

***

"Craig's List," muttered the Thinker.

"Craig's List?" laughed Sterns. "You found these guys on Craig's List?"

"Don't laugh," warned the Thinker as he drove the mini van through heavy traffic. Sterns's nearly one thousand pound body weighing it down noticeably. "You found me on Craig's List, remember? These are tough times, Sterns. I wanted desperate men."

"Where we headed?"

"I have a safe house."

"Ah, yes, so I can meet your motley bunch, all of whom I could crush with one fist. How are they going to fare against the likes of the Avengers?"

"You misunderstand, Sterns. The days of hero versus villain are over. My plan to take this city for all that it is worth is far too subtle for one such as you to comprehend."

"Careful, Thinker. I might not be able to--" Sterns swallowed, unable to believe his next choice of words. "--smash you, but that doesn't mean I can't put my foot through the bottom of this van. I'm pretty sure I would survive the crash, but I don't know about you."

"Touche. Then allow me to elaborate. For several months now, one of my legitimate companies, the Auguste Springs Water Company has been supplying the bottled water to the court house as well as half a dozen other important offices throughout Chicago. That in and of itself was no easy task."

"So, you're going to bleed them dry with overpriced tap water?" grunted Sterns. "Brilliant."

"Not quite, although my profit margin is ridiculously high and the company is quite profitable, that is not where this ends. Tell me, Sterns, have you ever heard of Phillip Masters?"

"You mean your little pal the Puppet Master?" chuckled Sterns. "I thought he was dead."

"He is. This time I made sure of it. Like so many others, Masters was just too short-sighted for my plans. But although he is no more, his magnificent, radioactive...clay lives on."

"I'm confused."

"Big shocker. Over the past few months, everyone who is anyone has been ingesting Auguste Springs water laced with minute amounts of Masters' clay, By now they have so much of the particles within their bloodstream that they are easily susceptible to my every command. The same nano broadcasters that keep you from lashing out at me will cause any of my victims to do whatever I command. The key to my plan is subtly. I've opened several bank accounts in the Camen Islands as well as Switzerland and will begin trickling tax payer money into them little at a time."

"So, you're stealing pennies from tax payers so you can do what exactly?"

"Why to become filthy rich, Sterns!" the Thinker laughed. "Why else would anyone get into politics?"

"That's it," said Sterns, hammering his left foot through the floor of the mini van.
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Paul E. Schultz

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Brilliant

Post  Nik Havert on Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:21 pm

Nice work, Paul. Your love of the C and D-list villains comes through in this story, and that's a great cliffhanger ending.

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Re: The Defenders #6

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:33 pm

One day I want to write my own villains story similar to this, just more spread out. This was good practice, I feel. The best part about C & D list bad guys is they don't know they're C & D list bad guys.
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Paul E. Schultz

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Defenders 6#

Post  Eric Nyman on Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:14 pm

Paul I thought I had an encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel Villians but I tip my hat to you sir. Villians I had long since forgotten about Bird Man, The Melter. The pay off of what they plan to do at the end is awesome. Great job.

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Simply Awesome

Post  Mechajared on Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:57 am

You really know how to keep a great story moving at a great pace, it never gets boring. Well done my friend.

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Re: The Defenders #6

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