Wait a minute, it’s Monday – what’s going on here? I’ll tell you what’s happening, we’ve come to the final push. With only a few more chapters left to complete the book, I’m starting today to make sure by Friday, you the faithful readers, have had a chance to read the entire book. At the conclusion this week, I’ll even give you a sneak peek at Stormafall (which is still just 99 cents for any pre-orders – cheap plug!). So let’s get on with the show.
I’d turned the monitors on to the evening news and The Aces’ attack of the Police Station was the top headline for clear reasons. Grimes was already out front of it talking to one of the on scene reporters. “This force, along with the newest task force I just created, will not rest until The Aces are dead!”
“We’ve talked before Chief and your use of lethal force has come into question. How do you think the public’s opinion will shift after seeing what The Aces did to the police station?”
Grimes was covered in bruises and cuts, but seemed to be fine otherwise. “They should realize what sort of threat we’re dealing with. This is far worse than The Negative Man. The Aces are like a virus, killing the body that is Pacific Station.”
“You think The Aces are worse than The Negative Man?” The reporter acted like she couldn’t believe what she’d just heard.
Grimes didn’t back down. “The Negative Man was a real asshole, but even he had a code of honor.” Looking directly into the camera, “If The Aces are out there listening, you’re a bunch of gutless pathetic excuses of men. Trust me when I say you’re time is just about up.”
“Turn that blowhard off. Just listening to him makes me want to vomit.” Spades was back. “It’s a shame I didn’t get a chance to kill Grimes, but there’s always next time.”
I was on edge as the man walked in and sat down at the far computer console. “He’s got a special task force designed to hunt us. I’m guessing those clowns in the animal masks.”
“The STD’s? Please, those fools were lucky we weren’t aware of them before. Their surprise is long gone though.”
I couldn’t get over how cool and calm he was after everything that just happened. Jenkins I could understand, but the fact he killed his oldest friend in cold blood; that was a certain kind of ruthless. “Why should I believe you won’t try to kill me at first attempt?”
“Like I said Jericho, you can help me, in more ways than you know. Trelewicz was too unstable, a man driven by violence.” He wasn’t wrong there. “And Jenkins was only strong when he thought he was protected by his mask. With that gone, his usefulness ended.”
“So what do we do next?”
He pulled his mask off. “We give the city what they want most, the deaths of all The Aces. A new hero will arrive on scene and do just that for them.” He jumped back up, excited. “When the new guy can do what The Dark Lion and the police hadn’t been able to, they’ll welcome him with open arms.”
I still wasn’t sold on how this could even happen. “Your powers are known. The Dark Lion will know right away it’s you…”
“I guess we need to kill him first. The last hurrah for The Aces, and a damn good one don’t you think?” He walked over closer, putting me on high alert. “We just put the cops on their heels; just think of our status with The Dark Lion dead. John Q. Public will think we’re untouchable.”
The elemental gun, the greatest weapon Spades would have, was almost ready. “I’ve almost got it running perfectly. I just have a few more things to straighten out.”
“Good, because we’re on a strict time table. I don’t know that I can keep The Dark Lion from giving my identity out to the world, especially once they find Trelewicz’s body.” That’d be a huge clue. “I’m going to challenge Wonderton to a one on one fight Sunday night. Get it working by then.”
It would be tight, but I was pretty sure I could. “I’ll be arriving at gl-O-bal early in the morning.”
“Good. Go, get some rest. I’m counting on you Jericho and you alone.”
I got out of there rather quickly and went straight home. The state of mind Spades was in didn’t provide me much comfort, but at the same time, I needed to get in contact with DL. I wasn’t about to let a loose cannon like Owen Walker kill him.
In the safety of my apartment, using encrypted lines, I got an email through to John’s phone. Again, he wasn’t all that computer savvy, but he was world savvy. He would figure out the numbers in the email were latitude and longitude coordinates. Changing clothes, I regretfully stole a neighbor’s bike and went to the location I gave him.
The library was open twenty-four/seven, but hardly used this late at night. The guards were used to me and tipped their caps. The one on the left told me about the attack on the police station and that I shouldn’t stay out late. I appreciated the heads up and went on in. Little did they know I had my own ways of protecting myself.
I stood up on the library roof for quite a while. I knew it would take some time for him to get here, so I brought stuff to do. On my tablet, I had uploaded the wiring schematics of the elemental gun. I’d deliver a working gun on Sunday morning, but DL would know exactly how it worked.
I heard the soft landing of feet not too far from me. The yellow cape blew just out of the shadows. I picked up my tablet and joined DL out of sight. “I didn’t know they were going to do that tonight.”
“It’s not your fault Jericho. Thanks to you tripping the alarm at the jewelry store a street over, those minor supers were in the area and could provide backup. Without Massacre…”
DL was definitely having issues being the only real vigilante on the street. He didn’t have his trusted friend to be there to protect him. “That being said, Hearts is dead too.”
“So it’s just you and Walker?”
“Yep and be on the lookout, he’s planning on challenging you to a fight Sunday night, just the two of you.”
He removed his infrared goggles, disdain all over his expression. “Owen Walker thinks he’s going to be the newest Negative Man, doesn’t he?”
“He has no idea that The Negative Man has put a bounty on The Aces heads.” Which ironically, Walker himself took out two tonight. “He thinks that when it’s all said and done, The Negative Man, the city even, will worship the ground he walks on.”
“You said you were helping him design a weapon to kill me, well I guess it’s a good time to brief me on that.”
I pulled out my tablet to show him. “This is an elemental gun. Walker has various chambers he can load in, cold, heat, electricity, and something called aether. With it, he can incapacitate you.”
DL looked over the pictures and schematics of the gun as I swiped to the left. “Can he change the chambers on the fly?”
“Just like reloading a regular gun. I must say it’s probably the finest piece of equipment I’ve made.”
I expected to see more worry, but I didn’t. “What’s his play if this works? Where does he go from here?”
“The most unbelievable part is he’ll transition into a hero and bring in the rest of The Aces. That’s how he’s going to win the support of Pacific Station.”
That got a good laugh out of him. “What a fool. He just wants the world to like him.” Putting it in such simplified terms got me to laugh too.
Composing myself, “The gun is a very real threat. The energy beam may be faster than even your enhanced reflexes. Especially the cold beam, which is the one I’ve experimented the most on due to the threat it poses to you.”
“Your concern is once again noted, but I knew one day I’d come across a villain who was too much for me. At least in this situation I can take heart in it being you that beat me and not Owen Walker if this gun works.”
That might sit well with him, but it’d be Owen Walker using the gun. “We’re not going to let that happen. Owen Walker won’t be the one who kills you, that I promise.”
The Dark Lion put his ungloved hand on me. “I’m guessing you have a plan?”
“What kind of sidekick would I be if I didn’t?”
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