The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chapter 8)

I hope everyone had a great weekend, and a happy Father’s Day to all you awesome dads out there. I totally enjoyed my first one. Jak and Steph outdid themselves for sure.

Any-who, not much to say today. Let’s keep going in our story, shall we?

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Chapter 8 –

Wednesday Early Morning; Wonder-Tech Tower

I’d been burning the midnight oil. Between working on a better prototype for DL’s glove, I’d been scrolling through endless hours of security footage that I hacked from the ATM. I set up an algorithm to ping each time money was withdrawn that would zoom in on the cash and alert me to the serial numbers taken. Thank the maker for algorithms.

As for my other project, I had just made my greatest enemy a gauntlet to be proud of. Using carbon steel and better soldering techniques than Wonderton, this thing was pure destruction in its most beautiful form. Wait a minute, was I becoming okay with being a sidekick to a super hero vigilante? No, I reminded myself this was part of the experiment, to give him the best chance possible to succeed. If not, I would have to kill him.

My algorithm worked. The computer began whistling and froze the screen on the transaction we needed. The man making the withdraw was smart, he kept his face out of sight, but not his forearm. I recognized that tribal tattoo anywhere. Captain Joshua Pabon took the money and put it in the briefcase that would later be handed off to Valiant.

DL was still out on patrol. I radioed him over the comms. “Unless you found something, you should get back so I can show you our suspect numero uno.”

“All right, coming back now.”

I knew it wouldn’t take him long at all to get back, so I wasn’t surprised when just a few minutes later when the door opened. I should’ve known better, as it wasn’t John Wonderton walking in. It was a large man that looked as if he missed a few rungs on the evolutionary ladder. My unexpected presence startled him, too. “Who the hell are you?”

Hell, I was going to have to kill someone in DL’s lair. Well this would certainly blow my deep cover. “I think I should be asking you the same question.”

The man didn’t answer me. Instead, he charged at me, causing me to move out of harm’s way. He didn’t stop until his head buried itself in the back wall. His head just cracked cement like it was nothing. He was another super.

“PJ, back down now!” I turned and saw DL standing in the entrance. He flipped up his goggles and gave this PJ an evil look. “I told you I had enlisted the help of a computer guy.”

He didn’t even look hurt as he pulled his head out of the hole. “Yeah I know that, but what’s he doing here at this time of night?”

DL strode in and dumped his goggles on the workbench, beside the new arm wear. He picked it up, inspected it and gave a small smile. “This will do nicely.” Only after that did he address his ox of a friend. “If you weren’t out on some booze cruise, you’d know we were working on finding a lost plutonium core.”

This PJ looked taken aback. “A missing atomic bomb? I’m gone for seven days and shit really does hit the fan!”

“Since big and ugly here knows who I am, can someone fill me in on who he is?” I was annoyed that he attacked me and he also knew about me. “No offense,” I added.

DL shook his head. “This is PJ Douglas, also known as Massacre. He is another vigilante.”

Massacre, I remembered him. He was never really on my radar due to the fact he was more a public menace than an actual threat. I was beginning to regret that choice. “As long as you don’t try to run me over again, we’ll be aces.”

There was growing tension in the room, so DL brought us back on track. “You said you had something?”

I tore myself away from Massacre and went over to the monitor where the picture of Joshua Pabon was taking the money from the ATM. “Do you recognize the tattoo on the screen?”

His eyes focused and he began to snarl. “Never trust a government agent…”

“Now that we know this, we have a reason for him to meet one of those vigilantes they seemed so eager to get a list of.”

Smiling, “That is an excellent idea. I think in the morning, we’ll set up a meeting with Whisant and his Rangers. What happens after the meeting, who is to say?”

I liked this version of The Dark Lion. I always wandered just how far below the surface the true Dark Lion laid and it seemed not too far. A man who wasn’t afraid to rough someone up, yet not cross a line. He was someone I couldn’t be and the city, maybe even the country needed that.

I stretched out my arms. “It seems we have a plan going forward.”

“That we do.” There was now something odd in his voice. “I have one last task for you, Jericho. This is a request from your boss, John Wonderton, not The Dark Lion.”

Hmmm, I didn’t know if I liked the sound of that. “What can I do?”

“Friday night is the annual Wonder-Tech Christmas Party. I’ve slacked in recent years organizing it.” Oh crap… “That’s where you come in. Can you organize the festivities for me?”

Douglas began to snicker like a fool over on the far side of the room. I was shocked. Me, The Negative Man, with a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering, was being asked to organize a holiday party? “This isn’t a joke is it?”

“This year has produced many reasons to celebrate.” He then gave me an awkward John Wonderton smile. “Think of this as a chance to get drunk and let loose.”

I wanted to let loose all right, just not in the way either of these two idiots would survive.

-Jeremy

You can find all my work at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chapter 7)

Yep – laziness got the better of me yesterday. I’d like to say I’m sorry, but ehhh, it happens. To placate you, here is a picture of me and Jak from this morning’s Donuts with Dads. Babies make everything better.

jak and me

Now on to the show!

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Chapter 7 –

Monday Evening; Station Public Library

The work was tedious, yet I found myself enjoying the challenge. Something that didn’t come easy for me; that’s what my life had been missing. I was in deep on a secure tablet, trying to ping something off the serial numbers I had stored here.

My first stop had been to the national treasury to see if I could pick up the batch that had any of these numbers in it. That produced no results, which was very odd. I got the feeling someone deleted the information, or at least tried to. My next step was to go a bit deeper, really get into the encrypted files and see where the deletion came from. Whoever it had been on the other end, they knew how to cover their tracks. I was chasing a ghost, almost.

From the back corner of the library, it was time to use a little Negative magic. I did a quick look around and breached into the mainframe with my power. I’d used this trick a lot as a young, mischievous kid, and I overpowered the firewalls. I had about five minutes before anyone would notice.

I quickly scanned the lines of information, looking for the lost entries. I found them, deleted just two days before the truck heist by a user named EC. I pulled up the deleted serial number batch and began my trace. From the mint, this particular batch came to Pacific Station and was put into circulation at an ATM outside of Pacific National Bank. No sooner did I get that information than I was locked out.

It was time to go before they could retrace me. I scrubbed the info off my tablet, put my ball cap back on and made a beeline straight for my apartment complex.

**** 

The next morning, after saying a quick hello to Erin, I immediately went up to Wonderton’s office. His assistant was surprised to see me unannounced, but John waved me right on in. “Jericho, what brings you up here this early?”

“It’s about that cash transaction you asked me to look into.”

He immediately went from CEO to Dark Lion. Lowering his voice, “What did you find?”

“I traced the stack to an ATM right here in the city, outside of Pacific National.”

This piqued his interest. “Let’s talk more about this after hours. I’ll set up a meeting.” This was probably all for show, as his assistant was very nosy. Taking my cue, I walked back out and took the elevator back down to my hole by the server farm.

No sooner did I get off the elevator was I accosted by Erin. “Dude, what’s going on? That’s two visits in less than two days! Plus, I hear you’ve been promoted or something.”

“What?” I thought his line about his new head of IT or whatever crap he told Whisant was just more Wonderton bullshit. Erin had the email printed out and gave it to me.

Wonder-Tech Industries

Congratulations to Jericho Staley.

He is the new head of the IT Department. 

-John Wonderton 

It was as short and painful as actually talking to the man himself. Then I wondered if this came with a pay raise. Either way, Erin was ecstatic. “This rocks! Beers are on you Wednesday night, Staley!”

I could live with that. “I had no idea. Either way, I don’t think it means a whole lot.”

Well it didn’t to me. The rest of the day, Erin would slide on over and toss in one of his crazy jokes, smiling and laughing each time. We ended up working through lunch as Research and Development accidently closed a firewall to the internal network. That idiot Phil Jenkins was a hazard. I’d only been here a little over a month and I knew that.

At four thirty, I was done. Wonderton’s assistant hung around until about five, so I grabbed a few gyros at the food truck that was closing up across the street and ate in peace. When I saw the rest of the minions file out, I finished my dinner and made my way back in.

Wonderton was already in the hidden portion of his office when I strolled in. He was working on something on a makeshift work bench, but was doing a lousy job with it. He put down his tools when he saw me. “Okay, we can talk a bit more freely.”

“Like I said, I traced the money back to the ATM at Pacific National. I figured I’d hack into the security footage and maybe get lucky finding the guy who withdrew it. However,” there was always bad news in this town, “I think this goes deep. The files containing the serial numbers of this batch were purposefully deleted just a few days ago.”

“Do you think our new general friend might have anything to do with this?”

That I didn’t know yet. “Anyone could be involved. The best chance we have is getting a face on withdraw. Besides, the amount of cash they paid, either a portion was withdrawn from this ATM or they needed extra funds to meet Valiant’s demand.”

He nodded in agreement. “So it’s settled, you look into that and I’ll do my thing – take to the streets.”

I couldn’t help but notice what he was working on. It was a glove that had what appeared to be claws on the fingertips. The idea was solid, but the execution was horrid. “Do you mind?”

“Oh?” He saw me looking at his glove. “I don’t usually let others work on the gear…”

I went over and flicked one of the claws and it popped right off. “I think it’s about time you did.”

-Jeremy

You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chapter 6)

Before we get to the chapter today, I’d like to drop some news on everyone regarding The Inglewood Chronicles. As everyone knows, later this year, the much delayed fourth book will hit the Kindle Bookstore and paperbacks. The title was The Wolves of Chernobyl, but after finishing the first draft, a new title came to mind. What is it? Good question. How about I show you instead…

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That’s right fans, The Daemon Within. Look for more information about that later this year. I want to tell you so much more about it, but we’re in the middle of a Negative Man release damnit! On to the show!

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Chapter 6 –

Sunday Morning; Wonder-Tech Tower 

I was sitting in one of the guest chairs, watching Wonderton pace the carpet floor in his office as we awaited this general to show up. The moment he stopped pacing, I looked up and saw three men step off the elevator and make their way towards his office.

The lead man was probably in his early forties, straw colored hair and had glasses over his green eyes. The two men behind him looked like certified badasses. The words special ops immediately came to mind.

General Whisant opened the door and stepped in. He had a slow draw to his voice that was immediately likable. “John Wonderton,” he said as he stuck out his hand. Wonderton shook it. “And who might this be?”

I stood up as he made the introduction. “This is my new head of the IT department, Jericho Staley. He is an expert in computer forensics and cyber tracing.”

I actually was, but I figured Wonderton probably didn’t know that and was just trying to blow smoke up the general’s ass. “It is good to meet you, sir.”

“No need for formalities or pleasantries, you gentlemen are about to be asked a very big favor by the United States government.”

Wonderton stepped in and asked a question. “If you don’t mind me asking, sir, who are the rather imposing men you’ve brought with you today?”

Whisant turned and introduced them. “This is Captain Channel Esposito and Captain Joshua Pabon, both Army Rangers. They’re here to assist with finding the lost plutonium core.”

Army Rangers… those were some bad men. I’d heard rumors of a black ops team consisting of Rangers and Seals used by the government back east to eliminate supers. It made me wonder. Both of these guys looked hardcore. Esposito had a beard with eagle like eyes. Pabon was more subdued, but the huge tribal tattoo on his forearm was easy to spot.

“On to business then – as I told you last night, a plutonium core was stolen by a few supers. That core is my responsibility and we need to find it. The reason I’ve come to you, John, is simple. You have the most resources in the city and you have a reputation for being a tough as nails businessman. I was hoping to tap into both of those qualities.”

I was a bit dumbfounded this general would come to a civilian for help. I got the impression that if he went to his superiors and said, “Oops, I misplaced a potential bomb,” that they would frown highly upon that. Use a few civilians however, we find the core for him and no one is none the wiser.

John seemed to catch that vibe, too. “You’re coming to me because this is a colossal screw up and you can’t afford having the government knowing about this, right?”

Whisant smiled. “This is why I’ve come to you, John.” He stuck his hand out again. “Are you and your IT expert in or out?”

This was a complete no duh situation. Wonderton grabbed his hand. “We’re in. You can expect complete secrecy on our end as we assist.”

“Good, good. So what can I tell you to get this project off the ground?”

“Just how dangerous is this core? Is it a working bomb or does it need to be enhanced in some way?” I didn’t meant o blurt out my question, I was just naturally curious. This had been the best thing to happen in the weeks since I hung up The Negative Man persona.

Wonderton looked a bit pissed, but oh well. Whisant was quick to give us an answer. “That’s a fair question. I don’t know to be honest. If the plutonium is still in a pure state, than yes, it is a bomb this very minute. If the material has been compromised by years at the bottom of the ocean, then I’m guessing some leg work would have to be done to make it functional.”

“Do you want a functional bomb, general?”

“What I want doesn’t matter, John.” He shrugged his shoulders a bit. “What the government wants is the core back, intact if possible. Now if it can’t be recovered, then we are under orders to dismantle or destroy. However, this is a last resort.”

Captain Esposito stepped forward. “Sir if I may?” Whisant nodded his head. “We will also need a list of as many active supers in the area. The west coast is more lenient when it comes to allowing them to be active, something that is a bit unusual for us.”

I wondered how they would react knowing that the two most powerful supers in not just the city, but potentially the world, were in the room with them. Something told me to leave that tidbit out. “I can compile a list with rumors and such I find on the web.”

Captain Esposito seemed good with that. “The sooner we get that list, the sooner we can prepare ourselves for the worst case scenarios.”

“Let’s not go there, Esposito.” Whisant seemed a bit more rational than his captain. “Our efforts here are strictly to secure the core and get it back home. We’re not here to enforce any laws that this state doesn’t recognize.”

Wonderton and I quickly shared a glance of concern. He decided it was time to end this meeting. “We have our work cut out for us. General, we will get started as soon as possible and keep you in the loop with anything we find.”

That made the general smile. “Glad to hear it. We will continue to mount our own efforts as well. My hope is between all of us in this room, we can find the core quickly and we can get out of your hair.”

“We’re glad to assist the government in any way we can.” C’mon Wonderton, you could’ve sounded a bit more sincere! Either way, the three men across from us seemed to buy what he was selling. We all exchanged handshakes and they left, heading back out the elevator.

We waited until they were out of the building before we headed back to the old secret lair. Once inside, “There is something bad going on here, Jericho.”

“I kind of picked up on that.”

Wonderton flipped open the suitcase of money. Even a rich guy like himself was a bit impressed with the stack of cash inside. “When can you start tracing this money? I just have a bad feeling after that meeting.”

I grabbed a stack of twenties and plucked a few out. “It’ll take some time, but I can get started right now.”

-Jeremy

You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chapter 5)

Hey guys. Yesterday’s edition of the blogged was scrapped at the last minute. As many of you know, I live in Orlando and on the one year anniversary of the Pulse Shooting, it just didn’t feel right to put up a story chapter. I wrote about my feelings last year. This year, I chose to remember that awful day in silence for the victims.

Okay, on to the story…

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Chapter 5 –

Saturday Evening; Crosby Airfield

It seemed I was too late to see the exchange being done for the plutonium core, but good old Valiant was still here. He was counting stacks of money out of a black suitcase, all the while laughing to himself. He was a cartoon, a disgrace to all of us who’d been supervillains.

I slid my mask back on and slowly made my way over to where he was. He seemed like a real jackass, however, as I learned with DL, you can never underestimate a foe. There may’ve been backup or the real person or persons behind this could’ve been lurking. Plus, I didn’t know how his power worked; I probably should’ve asked Hilda before I killed her. Oops.

My fears were for naught. I was right within arm’s distance of his back and no traps had been laid. My worries beginning to vanish, I grabbed his shoulder and spun him around. There was nothing quite like seeing a man go from his highest high to his lowest low in a matter of a second or two.

Instant recognition formed, just like it had with Hilda. “You’re…”

“The Negative Man, ding ding ding, we have a winner.”

His quivering and groveling continued. “But, you’re dead! We all saw the fight with The Dark Lion!”

“Much like you, I’m a man of great illusion.” His face annoyed me, so I gave him just a taste of my power, blasting him back just a few feet. Nothing lethal, yet. “There’s no way around it, you’re going to die tonight, just like Hilda died a few hours ago.”

Oh man, he was a crier. I couldn’t understand a single word he was saying as he began blubbering all over the place. Couldn’t he at least die with some dignity? “Shut up.” He did. “This is how this is going to play out – you’re going to tell me how you stole an entire box truck and then you’re going to tell me who you sold it to.”

“If I do that, do I get to live?”

Was he trying to bargain with me? “No you don’t get to live, but your death will be instantaneous and not a long, drawn out painful process.”

Psychology has taught me that given the choice between prolonged pain and an instant, painless ending, most choose the second option. Valiant was no different. “What we did was only an illusion. The truck was still there, just invisible, as were we.”

“How did you two do that?”

“Hilda, she was the super. Her power was to make any object invisible as long as it was in her line of sight or she was touching it.” He swallowed hard. “We had an inside man, the guy in the back. Once everyone left, he drove the truck here and we awaited orders to meet the buyer.”

So everyone the green, environmental terrorists who proclaimed they wanted to save the planet had a price. “Who bought the core?”

“I don’t know. They never said their names and they were masks. I didn’t ask questions, not for half a million.”

I probably wouldn’t have either. The money though, that could probably be traced. “Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to write a nice long suicide note about how terrible you feel. You also need to tell the world you killed Hilda.”

“I’d never do that!” His face turned green, like he was going to vomit.

“I wasn’t under the impression this was a choice.” I buried another blast of energy into his chest; this time with a little more oomph behind it. “Remember those two options? You’re exceedingly close to option one.”

He pulled out his cell phone and opened his memo app. He went to work, typing as fast as he could. When he was finished, he handed it over to me. I gave it a quick read. “Well, that doesn’t sound too pathetic. Choice one it is.” I supercharged my hand and placed it right on his forehead. Besides the initial spike, he never felt a thing, his brains scrambled.

I left everything right where I found it and walked on out of the airfield.

**** 

It was later that evening when my phone rang again. It was DL. I answered with excitement, “Did you find something?” I knew the answer to that one!

“They’re dead,” he said with a lot of bitterness. “Valiant killed himself and Hilda. He left a damn suicide note on his phone.”

I had to pull the receiver away from my phone to chuckle a bit. DL was still ranting about how the lead dried up and there wasn’t anything else to do. “The only thing besides his dead body left behind was the cash someone paid him for the core.”

“We might be able to trace the cash, if it’s real, by the serial numbers.”

That glimmer of hope immediately turned the conversation around. “Can you do that?”

“Yeah it’s not –” A beeping noise interrupted me. It wasn’t on my end, so it must’ve been Wonderton’s phone.

It was. “I have a call coming in from a restricted line; hang on.” Son of a bitch! He actually put me on hold. Probably for a telemarketer, too.

A few seconds turned into minutes and I was this close to hanging up on him when the line clicked back over. “I need you at my office first thing in the morning.”

“Wait, why?”

“That was a call from a two star general named Dave Whisant. He wants to talk to me about finding his misplaced plutonium reactor.”

Tomorrow I’ll have a special announcement before the chapter, so stay tuned for that. Until then, I hope everyone is doing okay today.

-Jeremy

You can find my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chap 4)

And the one that was actually meant for today! We’re cooking with gas now!

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Chapter 4 –

Saturday Afternoon; Alameda Apartment Complex

My apartment, my own personal hell. How I hated this low rent place on the south side of downtown, but here I was. Again, another choice made all in the interest of seeing if my foe’s way was better than mine. A foe I was now working with! The irony was not lost on me.

There was no mention of the box truck heist from last night, as I’m sure the government wasn’t about letting it known to the world a plutonium core was stolen right out from under them. The Dark Lion was pissed though; when he got back he lashed out at an old printer in his personal office before coming down to the secret lair. He gave me one order before I was dismissed, “Find it.”

Being given an order from John Wonderton should’ve triggered a rage inside of me that ended with his death. Instead, I was intrigued to see how this played out. Valiant and Hilda were quite the illusionists and they now had the power to level most of Pacific Station and ruin the west coast. What would they do with it? Did they even know how to use it? These questions popped up in my mind over and over again.

My hacking skills were second to none. My first goal was to find out who these two nimrods were. They over-the-top antics and attire suggested they may’ve been minions to someone else; I just couldn’t get their parlor trick out of my head though. If this was a real super powered talent, what they could accomplish was infinite in its possibilities.

Unfortunately, my search turned up nothing that led me any closer to their identity. There was no black web chatter about the plutonium core, no demands being made to the city. It was like one moment it was here and the next it was gone. If I had pulled this job off, Pacific Station would’ve been begging for reform by the end of the night. Fear wasn’t their motivator then.

An idea struck me – what if they wanted to rid the world of this highly dangerous device? I jumped back on my lap top and began searching for environmental terrorists and this path was a bit more fruitful. A year ago, while I was in the middle of my own path of terror, a military hanger used to store missiles was robbed. That’s right, someone actually had the gall to steal missiles out from underneath the government’s nose. The stolen goods turned up two weeks later completely useless.

No one had any idea who pulled off such a theft, but the markers were eerily similar to last night’s vanishing truck trick. With an idea that was getting results, I dug even deeper.

Hours later, and a delivered pizza on my table, I had a name – Heath Munchop. The guy was a complete loser; dropped out of college, had numerous marijuana charges on his record, and two kids he completely neglected to two different mothers. And then I hit the jackpot, I found his license with a Pacific Station address on it.

“Bingo!” I slapped the table. “Maybe I have a future as a detective.”

I had two options here – give this information to DL or go visit Mr. Munchop myself. Seeing as how I had no social life, I figured it was as good of a time as ever to go meet a fresh face. Pulling on my hoodie, I left my apartment and breathed in the fresh December air. Christmas carols were being played in the apartment adjacent from me, as the family was putting up a rather large tree.

According to my navigation, Munchop’s place was only about ten minutes away from mine. Traffic was light on this Saturday afternoon, so I made good time and pulled up across the street. Someone was home as the front door was open, only the screen door acted as a barrier to me.

I got out of my car and hustled over and rang the doorbell. From the large pocket on the front of my hoodie, I slipped out my Negative Man mask and slid it on as a girl answered. “Hello-” She gasped as soon as she saw me. “You!”

“Yes me.” I pushed her away and entered the house. “Where is Valiant, Hilda?”

“H-h-h-how do you know my name?” She was creeping away from me as quickly as she could. “Please, we have nothing to offer you.”

Blue bolts of energy began to spring from my hands. “You have plenty to offer me, like the location of a certain box truck carrying a plutonium core.” Interrogations were fun. “I’m losing my patience.”

She pointed to the kitchen and I walked in, not before blasting her with enough electricity to power a small town. “A pity, you were quite cute,” I said to the smoking husk.

In the kitchen, lying on the table, was a piece of paper with an address. Underneath were instructions to Valiant and Hilda. Valiant was to deliver the box truck to Crosby Airfield this afternoon and meet a contact named Mr. Adam. “I knew these idiots weren’t the true problems.”

Unexpectedly my phone rang. It was John Wonderton. “Damnit,” I mumbled as I hit the green accept button. “Hello?”

“Jericho, how is it going finding out about our two magicians?”

Short and to the point as always. “Funny you should call – I just found out the name and address for the guy named Valiant.” I gave him the information, which he excitedly took down.

“Good work,” he praised me, which seemed a bit pretentious. “Why don’t you take the afternoon off and go see a movie or something?”

I had some fun plans for this afternoon. “I think I’m going to take a drive to the outskirts of the city. Maybe some fresh air will do me good.”

“I’ll call you after I check out the house.”

The call disconnected. I couldn’t wait to hear his reaction stumbling upon this little crime scene. “Well, let me go see a man about a plutonium core.”

-Jeremy

You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home. Come back next week as we continue Prelude to Chaos right here, in The Penalty Box!

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The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chap 3)

Two days… it only took my two days to screw up and not post a chapter. And on #NegativeManThursday no less! Well to be fair, I remembered but by the time I did, I was neck deep in infant shenanigans, so I was like tomorrow! And here we are. So enjoy a two chapter blitz as we head into the weekend…

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Chapter 3 –

Friday Night; Wonder-Tech Tower

Every camera in the city was at my disposal. I could see DL with each step he took, constantly shifting to the next camera to keep him in sight. He was fast, but even more than that, the man was agile. From my perspective as an enemy across the field of battle from him, I could never appreciate the grace in which he moved. From this bird’s eye angle, it was like watching poetry in motion.

There were no issues from Wonder-Tech Tower to the Wharf District. It was just another Friday evening in Pacific Station; people getting ready for a night on the town, enjoying pay day. No one was ever the wiser to what was passing right above their heads. To be fair to them, it was also close to the holidays and I’m sure they had their minds elsewhere, as well.

The WSB Manhattan was a sight to behold. The freighter ship was docked, a huge presence quietly sitting there in the water. How anyone would believe a ship like that would be used for just spices is beyond me. This was a ship that had purpose, that did jobs few others would do.

“Jericho, how’s the surrounding area look?”

A few scans from different angles showed no signs of trouble coming. “It’s all quiet from here. I don’t even see the transport yet.”

“Got it. I’ll be in touch soon.”

The transport was supposed to be there at eight thirty. It still had about ten minutes to get there on time. I just was under the assumption if you were trying to move plutonium, on time would’ve meant being early. Go figure. However, my experiences with our government had been less than ideal. I still harbored a lot of anger towards the program that produced me and took away the only man I would ever call dad.

The rumbling of a large truck shifted my eyes back to the screen. A black, diesel engine box truck rolled into the wharf and came to a stop near the freighter. “DL, the transport is here, west side of the freighter.”

Wonderton gracefully moved positions to a place that gave him a full view of everything going on. The men from the ship came out and checked the credentials of the transport. A few minutes later, when all the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed, the process to move the core from the ship to the truck began. It was a labor intensive process that required quite a few men. My heart skipped a beat when the core became visible. Oh, what I would’ve done to get my hands on that.

When everything was finished, the truck was locked up and the crew of the ship retreated back to the freighter. “DL, where are they taking this thing to?”

He chuckled into the comm. “The government isn’t one to let their plans be known. We just follow until it gets to its final destination.”

Following a large box truck through the city was surprisingly easy. I kind of wish I had snacks or something to pass the time. As it got closer to leaving the city limits, I began to think that this new villain DL mentioned wasn’t all the interested in making a name for himself. I was a tad disappointed.

As it was in the final straightaway leaving downtown and about to merge on to the highway, “DL, it’s a trap!” I always wanted to say that.

“Where?!”

To the left of the onramp, I recognized the device, it was an EMP disrupter. “Someone’s about to shut down that truck’s engine.”

It was too late for us to do anything. The device, a localized one, went off and the truck’s engine kicked off. The large box truck just rolled until it lost momentum and stopped. The three men in the truck got out, guns pointing in every direction. I figured there was probably one more in the back on the truck, as a last resort.

A camera close to the scene was my first visual on the ones responsible. There were two figures moving into position, it looked like a man and woman. The larger of the two, he was wearing some odd get up that looked like it was out of a steampunk cosplay show. Beside him, the woman was dressed similar, but a bit more useful. Whereas the man was wearing a huge, crazy looking coat, his partner was more streamlined.

They moved out of the shadows and confronted the soldiers from the truck. “Ahhh, I’d put those guns away gentlemen.” His voice was whimsical and a bit annoying, like a coffee house poet. “You’re standing across from Valiant and Hilda, the Masters of Magic.”

“Oh give me a break, what amateurs,” I muttered.

It was apparently loud enough where DL heard me. “What did you say, Jericho?”

Not sure how he took it, “They appear to be some sort of amateur magician act. I hate those.”

“They are about to find out how much I hate them, too.” DL jumped down from his hidden perch, landing in-between the magicians and the soldiers. Against the moonlight, it was quite an impressive feat to watch. He stuck out an index finger, “You two rejects should just make your way back to whatever comic bookstore you bought all that garb from.”

Hilda giggled, a God’s honest giggle. “Valiant, I do not believe this one thinks we are the Masters of Magic they way we know us to be.”

The dofus in the coat gave his partner an over exaggerated bow. “I think a demonstration is in order, don’t you, Hilda?”

I had no idea what they were yammering about. “DL, I’d suggest taking the girl out first. Something about her is pinging my radar for being off.”

I think he was about to take my advice when her blue eyes began to glow. Mist filled just that area, limiting my visibility. “DL, DL, what’s going on down there?”

“Hell if I know, there’s no visibility. Switch to infrared.” There was silence, then a curse. “Shit, they’re gone.”

As the smoke began to clear, not only where Valiant and Hilda gone, but so was the box truck.

-Jeremy

Part two is on the way!

 

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The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chapter 2)

And we continue our adventure again today! Enjoy chapter 2 of our story…

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Chapter 2 –

Friday Night; Wonder-Tech Tower

My powers were boiling just under the surface. Depending on what I stumbled into, I was about to kill whoever was behind me. When I turned, lo and behold, it was John Wonderton. Not just John Wonderton, either. He was half dressed as the man who just put an end to my alter ego. I was standing in front of The Dark Lion.

My shock at finding out the true identity of The Dark Lion froze me in place. The man didn’t look angry; he just seemed a bit surprised to see me standing here. “Jericho Staley, right?”

His easy tone of voice snapped me out of my stupor. “Yeah, that’s me.”

“You’re the guy who found out Brody Williams was sending inappropriate picture to the Legal staff, correct?”

“I’m the guy.” The general ease of this conversation was really freaking me out. “I can go back to your office and wait, if that’s okay.”

John pressed a button on a desk near him and the door I came through closed. Well this was an awkward situation. “I’m afraid I just can’t let you waltz out of here. You know who I am.” It wasn’t a question. “This is a secret that can never leave this room.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“No, son.” This was getting ever weirder. “Pacific Station needs a hero, especially after what happened just a few days ago at Waves Park.” I almost chuckled and that would’ve been bad. “The Negative Man is still fresh in the minds of those who wish to do the citizens here harm. Today is even more dangerous for this city than last week was.”

This was quite the impasse. If I had to kill him to leave, I would. After what I sacrificed to give this man his chance, it would be a shame for it to go up in flames like this, today. “What happens now?”

He rolled a desk chair over to me. “You work for me, both during the day and at night.”

I looked at the chair. “You barely know me and you want me to work with you? Are you the worst vigilante of all time?”

He ticked off facts like no other. “Lost his parents young, graduated top of his class – both undergraduate and graduate levels, is a loner by nature, never even had a parking ticket…” He knew Jericho Staley all right. “When you say I don’t know you, I know everyone in this place. Who is trustworthy, who works hard, and who needs a hobby. You check all three.”

Was his request for me to come up to his office a test? This seemed way too convenient, for him that is. “And if I refuse?”

“It would be most tragic, for both of us.”

Honestly, I was never going to say no. Being able to work from the inside, well that was just too perfect. If The Dark Lion couldn’t succeed, even with my help, then he didn’t deserve any more chances. “Count me in.”

Wonderton clapped his hands together. “Wonderful. As it turns out, I could use your help tonight, if you had no other prior engagements.”

If he really knew me, he’d have known how dumb a question that was. “Sure, what’s on the agenda tonight?”

He gestured for me to sit and pill up the computer. I obliged. What I saw were plans for a freighter and the surrounding harbor down by the Wharf District. “What’s all this?”

“That freighter is the WSB Manhattan. It’s just returned from a trip to the Far East carrying spices and what not.”

Oh great, our first joint assignment was something the neighborhood watch should handle. “A spice freighter? I’m confused.”

He smiled and motioned for me to click the mouse one more time. When I did, the manifest came up. It read just as Wonderton said it would, all exotic spices and what not. I was about to question his judgement when something on the document caught my eye. It was near the bottom and easily missed. There was an entire line redacted. “So this spice freighter is carrying something else?”

“You’re a quick study, Jericho. The Manhattan was on a mission for the government to pull up an old plutonium core at the bottom of the ocean.” He rubbed his hands together. “They were successful.”

Privately, I licked my lips at the prospects of this. With old school tech like that, the amount of chaos one would be able to bring would be tenfold. A rogue thought entered my mind, to steal this for myself. That was quickly dashed when Wonderton spoke again. “I need eyes and ears here, running the operation from the command station. You’d be my eyes and ears while I’m out there. Can you do that?”

Most of this equipment was three shades of obsolete, but I could handle that no problem. “Is this a simple escort mission?”

“The government would never ask a vigilante to partake in this. No, I’m going because word on the street is there’s a new player in town. This would be his, or her, opportunity to make a name for themselves.”

That actually made a lot of sense. Maybe I’d underestimated the deductive reasoning from my old enemy this entire time. “I can run this station, if that’s all you need me to do.”

“For now.” He grabbed his signature goggles and slid them over his face, completing the look of The Dark Lion. “We’ll see how this goes and take it from there.”

“That sounds fair to me.”

“Good.” In full Lion garb, he began to make his way out of the secret lair and begin the mission. “And for chatter sake over the comms, just call me DL, okay?”

Come on back tomorrow for chapter 3! We will just keep chugging them out!

-Jeremy

You can find all of my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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