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 I set up an algorithm to ping each time money was withdrawn that would zoom in on the cash and alert me to the serial numbers taken.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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About Jeremy Croston

I'm a comic loving, soccer playing, devoted husband who has a writing addiction. I can be found at Orlando Solar Bear hockey games, at the local sports bar cheering on my teams from Philly (go Flyers!), and being led astray by my schnauzer, JJ. Check out my Amazon page at www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston to see my collections. Feel free to friend me on Facebook too at www.facebook.com/jcroston2 (there is another one of me out there apparently). Outside of writing, I work in business development and am considered an expert in all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to talking to you soon!
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