Deus Ex/The Killer Hero
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Chapter One: Apples and Oranges
After twenty years as a cop in Paragon City, Detective Joe Millner found the case files had a tendency to blur together when he was at his desk. It was easy to mix up your facts unless you had reference material right in front of you, maintained mental vigilance in keeping the ducks in a row; in effect possessed as much a capacity for secretarial work as deductive reasoning and a hard stomach. Especially in this day and age, where registered heroes and their villainous counterparts often operated on the fly and wielded enough power to fold most normal people in half. Not that he found either to be difficult to understand really. Despite the presence of the ability to walk through walls, raise or lower temperatures dramatically, phase out of sync with space/time or pick up a cargo ship and throw it, they were still people, subject to all the particular foibles of the condition and just as focused on the minutia of their own lives as everyone else. They were the ones stopping nuclear bomb plots and planetary death rays. He caught lowlifes that usually did not have the ability to shoot flower beams of doom from their eyes. Apples and oranges, similar but wholly different.
Despite all that though, they, and he, made mistakes. One particular case he seemed to get wrong a lot, according to those who had a notably higher pay-grade. Missing persons, homeless kids, kidnappings off the street. In a truck or van, sedan or semi. They headed towards Talos Island, or Steel Canyon or just plain vanished. Either way, the inconsistencies in everything had begun to piss off the Captain, not to mention the mayor who was apparently lying his ass off to the press daily, attempting to keep this rash of youth disappearances from becoming a city-wide panic, all the while trying to keep the heroes out of it in order to prove they still deserved their paychecks every two weeks. Attempting to wrap his head around it now was proving fruitless, as his thoughts kept drifting to the Caribbean, the fantasy of the sailboat named “Betty” cruising around those calm, warm waters.
The kids, that is why Millner was assigned this case. As long as he was a cop he has worked with kids, troubled youths, runaways, gang bangers scared out of their minds. He worked charities and fund-raisers, spent more of his free time at the local YMCA than he did with his string of wives, which probably accounted for the fact that he was divorced three times over without being a father himself, and living out of a trashy apartment in King’s Row instead of his foreclosed house in the suburbs, getting fatter as he got older subsisting on a steady diet of day old pizza and beer. Of course, in hindsight he should probably be grateful he did not live there anymore since a Rikti warship crashed smack in the middle of it.
He thought of the majority of heroes, like the ones who dropped the alien vessel on a bunch of homes and reflected sardonically that it was typical. Bumbling fools mostly, apes that were strong and powerful but basically retarded, cruising around in an anti-matter powered, flying short bus. Just like the rest of us. Even the inhuman one’s are still only human…
When something touched his shoulder suddenly, it almost sent his heart into his chest. Whipping his head around, his hand only barely went towards his piece before realizing their was no need.
Even working with the guy off and on the last year or so, Millner considered him to be firmly in the aforementioned retard category. More so than most. Obnoxiously perfect as physical specimens went, with the exception of the fucking creepy red eyes, Deus Ex had a way of speaking that reminded the cop of a cross between a robot and some fifteenth century asshole. Still, better to make nice than piss off a guy named after a literary device which basically equated to a god coming down and shizzaming a problem away.
“Deus, will you please stop sneaking up on me like that?” Joe said, sounding far more irritated than unnerved.
“My apologies Detective Millner. It was not my intent to alarm you.” said the cape in that too-neutral-to-be-true voice he was known for. Millner squinted, trying to determine if it was sarcasm, then remembered again who he was talking to. The guy in black was not exactly known for his capacity for humor.
A long moment of silence stretched out, Millner looking expectantly for some follow up, while Deus Ex just stared. Finally, the detective had to state “Well? What the fuck is up big guy?” Deus looked up, of course he did.
“No, idiot, what do you want?” Millner added, more than a trite impatient as Deus reverted his gaze back to Joe.
“I want to examine the witness reports from the recent string of abductions of younger individuals within the confines of the area referred to as King’s Row, Detective.” Deus stated simply. It sent Millner’s hackles up for just a second before he realized it was only a matter of time before a hero got involved, which no one seemed to want to happen.
“Oh? Why?” he added anyway, resolved to drag this out if only to find out what the cape knew about his case. Deus blinked once, probably coming to some sort of conclusion, Millner thought.
“I have been investigating the same issue you have. Individuals within City Hall directed me to you as the case lead. I believe I may have located where whomever is responsible for these disappearances is holding the missing children. It is my intent to go there and liberate the younger citizens, but I felt it prudent to cross-reference my own findings with data from your work prior to proceeding.”
“Alright, everything is right here” Millner stated after a moment, motioning and the scattered plethora of files on his desk. Much to his non-surprise, Deus Ex went right to work, leafing through the papers so quickly that the detective swore he was just glancing, placing each ‘read’ file in a neat pile on one side of Joe’s desk. Millner allowed himself a bit of a smile, noting that the black-clad hero was effectively cleaning his desk for him, when suddenly Deus was finished. He nodded once and started towards the door.
“Wait!” said Millner. Deus paused and turned around, crimson orbs inquisitive. “What’s your conclusion big guy?”
“I conclude that it is a logical assumption that my original hypothesis regarding the veracity of aforementioned locale remains valid.”
Millner scratched his scalp “Where is this place?”
“4310 Baxter Street, King’s Row, Paragon City, Rhode Is…”
“I got it.” He sighed and gave into the inevitable, standing up and smiling the buddy cop smile “You want back up?”
“No, it would be tactically disadvantageous for me to introduce another vulnerable persona into the situation.”
“Well fuck you too” Millner replied in a sarcastic tone, smiling as he did.
“I intended no offense…”
“No, I get that Deus. Look, just be careful, alright?” Deus Ex nodded once in affirmation then calmly departed the room, the building. Detective Millner shook his head and chuckled, half amused and half bothered at the same time. He sat back down and stared at the Betty for a long time before picking up the phone.
Chapter Two: Talking before the dead
Deus Ex landed silently on the fire escape of the vacant building, stepping through a broken window and entering. His estimations were based off the blueprints he obtained at City Hall. Steel beams, brick and concrete walls inside and out, flooring within made of hardened and cured wood; like most buildings in King’s Row it was built to survive, old and strong even despite the years of neglect since the great American depression. The most likely possible place to hold a large number of people securely with minimal potential for outside observation was in the sublevels, so down he went, moving steadily, his preternatural senses ever scanning for some sign.
The second level was unused and contained nothing of interest with the exception of two familiar though faint scents, which in turn splayed themselves across his other senses. Tracking the sources, he found both upon the stairs leading from upwards from the first floor. The sickly sweet smell of old dried blood and the acrid smell of primer that crept from the sole expended shell casing a few steps down from the stain, wedged into a corner ubiquitously.
Taking a moment to examine the scene and playing over variables of trajectory, Deus found it most likely that the victim was fleeing up the stairs, was chased by someone faster and was shot in the back. A good sign, as they go. A child has shorter legs than an adult, also generally lacked the tactical facility to realize that fleeing up instead of out was unwise. A situation provoked by panic, which supposedly human children were famous for.
Down he went again, onto the first floor, back towards the room that contained the stairs down. Upon trying the handle, he found it had slight give, but was barred from the inside. He stepped back and away, pausing again to consider his options. If he used concussive force to open the door, it was likely any suspects would detect the noise. There was no unobtrusive means to gain access to the windowless room except…
He froze, a sound from beyond the door ringing in his ears, filling his taste buds with sensation and playing light across his eyes. Several small clicks, too far back to be from the door itself, too high up to be at level with the handle in any case. Metal for a fraction of a second grinding on metal before the dull chink that marked it’s halt. Weapon safeties, going on or coming off.
Deus Ex sprang away, automatic fire belching lead, peppering the door and walls in a hundred places. He managed to duck to safety with only one bullet penetrating his left forearm but surprise was now lost unless he was able to circumvent the expectations of the gunmen. Thoughts whirling in his head, the faintest of smiles touched his lips as he came to consider the tactile strength of pine
He was good. Good enough to be accepted as a member of the Council as a sharpshooter. A cut above any mercenary or Rogue Isle trash, no. He and his unit operated in Paragon City, a veritable bastion of super powers and objectors to the more pure, strong totalitarian rule the Council proposed. He was in hostile territory, and like his fellows, he was no fool.
He knew a cape would be coming. Alone. He knew, as they all did, when their optics picked up a heat bloom from under the door, it was time to remove one more obstacle to the rule of the mighty. As soon as he opened fire on the door, he and all his fellows knew that if the cape was not dead already, he would be diving down or to the sides, and thus adjusted their aim as one, firing blindly but effectively into the walls, following a pre-estimated path the hero might use to escape.
In a few short seconds it was over, but they could afford to be patient. He knew, as they all did, the walls were concrete and even a strong hero would take a bit to smash through them, assuming the pitiful challenger to the Council might have survived the barrage. Elsewise, the only way in was the door. Motioning, needlessly, for all guns to train on the entry, he waited. They all waited.
They continued, watching for movement, any movement. Under the door and in it’s now many holes, where the light came in. Through the holes in the wall were the uranium rounds penetrated even concrete. Ten seconds. Twenty seconds. A minute. Nothing.
He was the lieutenant. These were his men. He threw up the hand signs, indicating the man with the worst line of fire check the door. The man, to his credit, did so immediately, moving cautiously but steadily. A Council man, the lieutenant thought.
He, they all, like the seasoned veterans they were, were prepared to fire but did not when a faint metallic sound bounced somewhere outside the door, then again, then against the door. Not a grenade, and hollow. Light. The lieutenant motioned for his men to remain ready, and crouched low, peering agilely under the thick oak to see… a shell casing?
Four quick slicing sounds echoed from above, the wood bisected by flashing dark metal. He began to turn his weapon up, but was too slow. All he could do was watch in partial disbelief as a square section of the plaster and wooden ceiling collapsed down on him, depositing a dark-clothed cape with a broad sword right in the middle of his marksmen’s formation, and right on top of him. He felt the impact and struggled vainly to push past the pain, but the falling mass crashed unto his head, hard, and his dimly-lit world went dark to the sound of gunfire and his men’s screams.
Deus Ex made short work of the gunmen from the Council, sparing whom he could from any lethal strikes from his blade, which basically amounted to the unconscious one under his feet. All too soon it was over with, arterial spray and discarded limbs strewn about. He considered the unconscious rifleman and the fact he had no object to bind him with, weighing it against the fact that he was indeed unconscious and was not likely to wake up soon.
Deus left the lieutenant there, alive, and proceeded downward into the basement. It was a large room set with a table and a dozen chairs, old food decaying slowly and a few monitors to cameras on street level and in the building. A few cabinets, weapons racks, crates of protein food packs and ammunition, and two doors, both heavy metal, one of which was open and showed a few rows of cots and small duffle bags. He tried the other door first, found it barred, but from his side of the door. He pushed the locking pins along their path and opened the door, and again, familiar smells, none of which boded particularly well.
The room contained six three meters by three meters cages, secured from the outside with bars and padlocks, all of which had been inhabited within the day, but now were vacant except for scraps of clothes and food, and human filth. All except the last cage on the right, which contained a young, nude female form curdled into a fetal position. Deus approached, and saw no movement.
Unsheathing his sword, he quickly slashed hard at the lock on the sole cage with a body still in it, severing the metal violently. He unbarred the entry to the cage and stepped inside, stripping the glove off his right hand as he went, examining her for signs of life. The flesh was cold and hard, rigor mortis setting in. Continuing, he grew more disturbed to find that she had suffer several blows to the cranium and back, and the dried blood between her thighs, mixed with the smell of fluids not her own…
Calmly, almost reverently, he laid her down again, and stared for a moment, confused. He had seen murder victims and rape victims before. Many times in conjunction. Yet, something stirred. Deus Ex froze, afraid. He felt the rush of menacing and dark sensation that immediately preceeded the ursurpation of his will... but no. The sigil was dormant still. He looked around, wondering for a few moments, but invariably his gaze kept drifting to the dead body. He wanted to look away, but could not. He knew this poisoning feeling, but until now assumed it was a function of the magic in him that, when activated, bound him as surely as a fly in a spider's web, the venom following naturally. There was no spider, no web, no control. There was the poison though, and it gripped him as his mind played over the likely scenarios that immediately preceded the child's death.
When his gaze snapped back up, his eyes were not just red. They were angry. His mind whirled in frantic thought, his objectivity unchanged but suddenly more harsh, the swelling and uncomfortable emotions weighing more heavily towards certain suggestions than others. Deus stood and turned, replacing the glove onto his right hand while marching grimly out and up, to find the unconscious Council member.
He leaned in close and sniffed the man, understanding from the sour smell that it had been days since his last bathing. Reaching down and almost grotesquely grabbed the man’s groin, Deus rubbed the area softly. He removed his hand and brought it up to his nostril and inhaled. Her scent was there. Faint.
Resolved to acquire answers, Deus dragged him downstairs by his ankle, sweeping the table clear before depositing him on it. He removed his weapons; sidearm, grenades, combat knife, and waited for the man to awaken. He knew that members of the Council were tight lipped by nature. It made no difference.
The lieutenant, unlike his fellows, would talk before he died.
Chapter Three: Calm before
The story the screaming beast in the flesh of a man told was dire. That place was a holding pen, before shuffling the ‘slaves’ onward to the ironically named Independence Port and the cargo ship “Sea Arrow”. There, deep in the belly was where the children were. Where local division command was. Where information was. They knew he was coming. For a certainty. The screaming beast in the flesh of a man only confirmed they were notified by their commander in advance. An altered commander. Deus Ex was not unfamiliar with the fallbacks from the Fifth Column’s super soldier projects. He knew them all too well.
He left after ruining the camera system, understanding that while the sanctity for the life of truly evil men meant exceedingly little to him, many other human beings would not think so. En route, as he leapt from rooftop to rooftop, he considered that he may require assistance this time, even if it did jeopardize Millner’s life. The screaming beast in the flesh of a man said a hundred men, and war robots. However, he was still piecing together the telltale clues which dictated a lie from a subject, and pain made them more difficult to detect. It was possible the story was false, any or all of it. He required more data before requesting P.P.D. assistance. Thus, he would reconnoiter and report.
He was deep inside contested territory now, heavy Family presence on the docks which vied continuously with the Tsoo and the Council. The police and even the hero community had tried to lock down the port, but too many factions supported by too much money and influence to do much other than annoy operations for each of them. It was no matter to Deus. Even mere annoyance was forward movement against such evil enterprises. Today, he hoped to do more than simply annoy the Council.
The Sea Arrow was docked where the screaming beast in the flesh of a man said it would be, at the end of the otherwise unoccupied pier twelve, a massive sprawling affair that appeared to be more suited to hauling oil or massive amounts of European cars than slaves. There were men upon the end of the pier, private security in plain clothes but with sophisticated weaponry. Possibly Council, possibly Malta, possibly freelancers. The deck security on the ship though, undoubtedly Council, the weapons the same standard issue he came to grips with earlier, shiny and black and powerful in appearance. Counting them, it was quite a lot of Council, near sixty men topside, either on the deck or dock. Deus Ex decided to forgo security and attempt for stealth, diving unobtrusively into the water from his lookout three piers down and swimming.
He approached from underwater, coming up only briefly to confirm his bearings before submerging again. As sensitive as his senses were, being underwater had an irritating distortion effect, where distance was more difficult to assess. He could feel that they were not utilizing sonar, but estimated they might in fact have divers. Making his way as unobtrusively through the slightly polluted seawater and to the target as he could, he began to surmise this was either a trap or the Council had cause to feel secure.
Talking his time to insure approach by stealth, he began to climb the stern section of the ship, hands working deftly, grasping for the rivets and small indentations in the hull. That was when Deus heard it, barely, through the hull. A high pitched squeal of pain emitted from under-developed vocal chords.
Again, as was often in this battleground people called a city, he found himself inhuman in a human situation. He had verification that there was at least one child on board. He knew the Council’s sentry layout, an effective means of approach and should report to the local police and request assistance. That was the surest way, the most effective. It was not human however. It might not be the correct choice as dictated by that little understood thing: morality.
He continued moving up the hull, dismissing the thoughts that kept telling him he was doing the wrong thing, that he was jeopardizing himself and the opportunity for the freedom and safety of the suspected others for the sake of one that he might not even be able to reach.
Deus Ex leapt over the rail and with cat-like agility, darted between two cargo containers. Like a wet shadow, he moved with practiced ease over the deck, towards an open hatch leading into the aft castle, and presumably below, into the belly of the beast.
“Beta, sitrep.” the commander growled out for the third time. When no response came again, he quit trying. Beta team was over an hour behind the scheduled report they were supposed to make. They are either unable to answer, or dead.
Commander Addison was irritated, but unafraid. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme for him scene this whole project began. He did not particularly care for children, but neither was he an utter monster either. He knew what was happening down below, and the man in him was irritated. The soldier part though, that was unafraid. He would follow orders passed down from High Command, regardless if he liked them or not. He was a soldier more than he was a man. A Council soldier, a leader of men. Distinguished even among his peers. Chosen for this assignment, despite his distaste for it, because he always got the job done.
Secure young test subjects. Subjects that will attract minimal attention. That will not be missed. He had laid the groundwork for that well. He had huge monetary resources placed at his disposal for this operation. Millions in what would equate to petty-cash. He had put it to good use, accounting for every penny in his logs, with the vast majority of it still left untouched. What he had spent had paved the way to set up the lab, falsify the ship’s registry with port authority, and to streamline the acquisition of homeless kids.
He had already exceeded his orders by pushing the science team hard, arriving at one hundred test results well ahead of schedule. At present, they were administering the solution to test subject 0119, and he was not due to depart Paragon for another week. The more data High Command had, the more effective the serum would be, the more worth the sacrifice it would be.
The idea that he would stay and continue the research was now over. Beta team was neutralized. If any were alive, it was only a matter of time before a psychic opened them up and discovered the Sea Arrow. It was time to leave.
“Sergeant, bring the divers back aboard and prepare the ship to get underway to the rendezvous.”
“Sir? What about Beta team? Are we going to leave them?” his subordinate asked.
“We are. Beta team is compromised. If any are left, then let us hope they remember their training and are able to rejoin us."
The sergeant was irate at that. The commander was in change of all details of the operation, but the men were his unit. “Permission to speak freely sir?”
“You may not. I understand your thoughts, but the mission comes before the men. They are soldiers.” The commander sighed. “we all are. You have your orders sergeant. Carry them out.”
The sergeant teeth ground together behind closed lips but he saluted, and obeyed. The commander understood the feeling all to well, of doing something personally distasteful, but the sergeant, like him, was a soldier. They all were. We obey.
Deus Ex slipped through the interior of the vessel, but was forced to move much more slowly. The sentries were redeploying, and they moved swiftly. They were not alarmed though. He did not understand if they were aware of his presence and were just that proficient, or if it was just a massive shift change, or something else. Either way, he was resolved in his course now. He needed to get below decks, to find the children. And so he went, cautiously.
Eventually, he reached a point where he encountered four guards maintaining a vigil outside a stairwell down. He spent the better part of ten minutes attempting to find an alternate route, but to no avail. This was a natural choke point. If he wanted to proceed, and he did, the obstacles would need to be removed. Ideally, they would need to die without a shot being fired. Difficult to accomplish.
The hall was dim, but straight and even. No clutter. They would spot him eventually, and before he reached them. He looked up, but there was nothing there to allow him to approach from above, no pipes. He required a diversion. He was pondering that when he detected another Council soldier coming up behind him. He was not seen yet, but if he did not act, he would be.
He rushed the approaching soldier, one hand snatching his rifle away while the other closed around his throat, cutting off his ability to breathe, and thus, speak. The soldier, despite being suffocated, maintained the wherewithal to reach for his sidearm. Deus dropped the rifle and latched onto his victim’s wrist before it attained the secondary weapon, hard enough to grind the bones together. Deus was not possessed of the monumental strength exhibited by a good number of heroes and villains, but he was strong enough to bend rebar or crush brick. He wanted to snap the soldier’s neck, a clean death, but too much noise was made already.
Up the soldier went into the air, before his feet could begin to kick frantically, while the dark hero peered behind him, turning his senses to detect if the four around the corner were coming. They were not. He turned back around, and watched as the soldier weakened, then passed out, then died, Deus’s left hand becoming a hangman’s noose.
When it was done, he still needed to get past the four sentries, but the variables had changed.
He had a disguise.
Chapter Four: Horrors within, horrors without
Robby was the toughest kid in the pen. The pen that became the whole world. There were a lot of other kids in here, all scared. He was scared too, but he did not show it. He learned on the street, looking scared got you beat up by skulls for your shoes, or food, or no reason at all. In here, looking scared, or attracting any notice at all, got you picked when the white coats came, and the guys with guns.
No one came back when they were taken out by the white coats and their goons. They screamed though. Out of sight, yes, separated by a few cargo containers and white screens like you see in hospitals, but they all still heard them crying and screaming.
Little Brian was nearby with a bloody nose, not daring to look at Robby. Robby had to hit him, to shut him up. When his brother was taken an hour ago, he started sobbing like a girl. That was fine, but when his brother started screaming, Brian started screaming too, begging the white coats to stop, saying they were all going to die, and making all the other kids panic. He had to hit him. He did not want to, but it shut everyone up so they could listen to Brian’s brother die horribly.
It was like a daily memorial service they held, a routine. They would be fed and given water, and one would be picked and taken away. Everyone was quiet. Robby told them to be, and remember the faces of the kids in the pen, and not make it worse by screaming. Robby thought the screaming might scare the picked kids more, hurt them more. So he told everyone how it was when he showed up, and they did. They remembered the faces and names. Julie with her soft yellow hair and gap in her teeth, James with his pimply face and big ears, Mike with his big body and tiny nose. They remembered them all.
Brian’s older brother, another Mike, stopped screaming a while ago. They were safe for the day, in this place where there was no heroes. No more would be taken till tomorrow. So Robby believed. That was when he heard shouts, screams, from beyond the curtain. Brian rushed forward towards the bar, probably hoping it was his brother, but Robby knew, these were screams of adults, men and women.
They all tried to see what was going on, but they could not see anything beyond the white cloth that blocked whatever was happening. Until it was splashed with red and the screaming stopped. The kids recoiled away from the bars, like they all did when it was time to be fed and watered, and picked. They waited, most of them shaking. The first thing Robby saw was a black sword with glowing red writing on it peak around the cloth, and shuddered.
They were coming again. This time though, it might be quick. He would take that offer, and stepped forward.
Deus Ex was rarely in such a mood. He examined the surviving children. They were terrified, and he was speechless. They were all extremely dirty and unkempt, half starved little skeletons crouched together for safety as far away from him as their cage would physically permit. The room stank. Of chemicals, blood, tears. He attempted to dispel his rising anger, focus on the task at hand. The children, though malnourished, would survive immediately. He put his index finger to his lips, a modern gesture, indicating that they should be as quiet as possible.
One did not listen. A boy, shy of his teenage portion of life, moved away from the group towards him. Deus took a step forward, anticipating communication and wanting him to keep his voice down. The boy did not say anything, just stood there with tears in his eyes. Deus leaned down, face close to the bars. “Do not be alarmed. I am here to assist you.” he said quietly.
The boy tried to stammer out something, but he seemed to be unable. Then he collapsed to his knees and started to weep. Deus Ex recoiled away, looking stunned. He never really understood children, though they fascinated him usually. Not today. Today his mind was working fast. The boy was surprised that he was here. Here to save them. Him. Was that why he cried?
Instincts pounded through Deus, unfamiliar in totality. He reached through the bars and placed one hand on the boy’s shoulder, and felt his vision grow slightly blurry for some unknown reason. The other kids came forward cautiously. He retracted his arm, confused by his reaction to the boy and his little tears in this very big cell.
“Wait here” he needlessly directed the children. Where else would they go?
He went back over to the lab, the sterilized metal surgery table, and past to the computer. For all his unfamiliarity with modern technology, computers he understood, like minds carefully structured and organized. He would not be able to engage in anything resembling a bypass of internal security, or a “hack”, in local parlance, but there was no need. He had surprised the technicians at work. They were denied the opportunity to initiate such measures to protect their work.
He read, and read, and read. Mountains of technical data, most of it not comprehended except for their definitions as per Merriam-Webster. What little he did understand hit him in places he did know he could be struck. When combined with the sight of the children in the cell, terms like “test subject 0119”, “adaptation failure”, “lethal response” and “EnSer 4” made it difficult to breathe.
He snapped around, checking to see if poison was being vented into the room. Nothing. Still, he was getting hot, and dizzy. His hands started to shake and he did not know why. He swept the monitor off the table. One hundred and nineteen. One back in King’s Row. Twenty one surviving, marginally, here.
Deus Ex’s head slumped. He felt weak and tired.
A radio an adjoining table beeped, clicked and then a voice spoke “Doctor Leedman, is the lab secured for transport?”
Deus’s hands clenched. He felt fiery poison, as if anger could become a tangible thing to swim in one's blood.
“Doctor Leedman, report.”
Deus took one breath, then let it run it's course.
“Doctor Leedman, report!”
Deus Ex’s head came up, his eyes glowing balefully with a reddish, ruddy light. He was not angry. Anger was for rapists. Anger was for those that killed innocent people. Anger was for individuals who knowingly did horrible evils, weakening the invisible but unmistakable barriers that separated the Prime world from things that were best kept away. Deus Ex was not angry. Deus Ex was furious, and everyone who had involvement in this was going to die…
Chapter Five: All hell
Addison dispatched two squads down into the lab under his authorization, to retrieve the data. First beta team, and now his own scientists on his own ship. There is someone here. He ordered a general red alert, had the crew fire up the engines double quick, and brought up the internal security system and he placed a headset on.
Everything looked normal on the monitors, except of course for his own men rushing around to do their duty. He tracked the squad's progress towards the lab. There was no cameras inside the lab; the scientists were adamant that the room remain clean from outside electronic interferences, but there were plenty in the corridor and over the hatch. Where four men were supposed to be stationed. They were not there, and the commander’s suspicions became solid fact. Someone WAS here.
“Corporal, bring up the recording of the lab entry on screen four, and rewind at twenty times speed.” Addison stated, waiting the painfully long seconds until it was arranged. He glanced over and saw the two units fan out in two by two cover fire formations outside the door to the lab, ready.
“Sir, screen four, as ordered.” the corporal stated, and Addison shifted his attention there.
Nothing, nothing, nothing, something, his four men, standing there.
“Stop. Proceed forward at normal speed.”
He checked the time index, and watched. The sentries were there, then a roving sentry began to approach behind schedule. The rover closed the distance then went to work on the four, the element of surprise achieved. The intruder moved quickly and powerfully, utilizing his advantage and superior strength to dominate his men, pushing noses into brain pans and snapping necks.
Over his headset he heard “Whiskey to alpha, four down inside the hatch, proceeding” and flicked his gaze over to screen three, watching the two teams enter the lab. Returning his attention to the playback, he saw his intruder rip off the uniform, to reveal a dark clad figure with a cape. He dragged the dead men inside the hatch, came back into view, retreated down the hallway out of view and then came back with a sword in hand.
Gunfire erupted from the headset and deeper within the ship, the leads of squads one and two barking out orders. The figure on the playback paused in his movements. He looked back and up, at the camera, staring coldly. Addison hit the pause button. The orders over the headset quickly changed tempo from deployment to “fall back, fall back!”, then gurgles, screams, death knells. The gunfire stopped, and no more was heard.
On screen three, a figure stepped through the doorway, paused, then looked up at the camera eye in a near mirror image of the paused playback on four, then moved off at blurring speeds. The commander hit the broadcast button.
“All units, converge on causeway twelve, starboard side!”
He waited and watched the drama unfold. The assailant cut a right down a hall, heading straight into approaching team. Bad luck, that Addison thought, then watched as his men opened fire. The cape was dizzyingly agile, the camera unable to seamlessly interpret his movements. His men opened fire, and the cape kept coming, avoiding automatic fire in the narrow hallway. It was impressive. With little room in the narrow corridor to dodge, the hero pulled it off anyway. He reached his men, then laid into them savagely, like tossing eight frogs into a blender, it was all blood all too quick. The last man dropped his weapon to the ground and threw his hands up, to which the aggressor responded with a casual backhand slash, removing the top half of the unfortunate soldier’s skull.
This wasn’t a hero. The capes did not kill unless they had too.
Invariably, the scene was repeated, the ‘hero’ taking a wrong turn right into the next closest unit, with similar results to the first. This guy wasn’t taking prisoners. In fact, the commander realized suddenly, this guy is not taking wrong turns. He was turning into the advance. The swordsman was not looking to leave, or escape. He was looking for men to kill. And he was coming.
Deus began to grasp that there would not be one hundred and nineteen Council soldiers on the ship in totality. For some reason, it mattered. He dispatched the thirty seventh Council member, last of the fourth grouping of eight that he encountered on this bloody path he was carving upwards to the command area commonly referred to in modern vernacular as the ‘bridge’. He was almost there, he believed. Another step, another right and there was a stairwell, leading up.
The door opened a crack and a small metal cylinder was tossed out, a Council grenade. It bounced down the steps slowly. Deus almost sneered as it came to a rolling halt against the toe of his boot. He slipped that toe underneath the explosive then kicked it up lightly. He grabbed it and, with reflexes born of his preternatural birth, tossed it back at the door. It burst outward in a shower of light and concussive force against the portal to the bridge, rocking the chamber.
He took the flight of steps in one bound, landing with the agility of a panther and pushed the twisted metal door open. Inside, it was empty of Council. Deus stopped, confused. In that moment of confusion, a foot slammed down on his face from above, much harder than any human could, sending him flying right back down the stairs he had traversed.
The man who had kicked him dropped from his bracing point above the door and stood. He was a leader among the Council, so the little pins and insignia on his pauldrons denounced. He was the altered commander that the beast in the flesh of a man told him of.
He leapt down, much faster that Deus had anticipated, landing with a twist on Deus’s chest as he started to rise, knocking him back to the ground and his blade from his hand. He was kicked in the face again, and felt his nasal cavity fill with blood. Deus hooked his leg around the commander’s chest and thrust, removing the super-soldier from his standing position on his chest to slam into the bulkhead. He tried to kick to his feet, but the commander was right back above him, this time grabbing him and lifting him with a grunt above his head. Deus slammed his knee into his opponent’s face, but the angle was wrong and it did little damage.
Suddenly, Deus was flying up the stairs, through the door, through the bridge to crash against the reinforced glass, sending spider webs out all over the pane but not shattering it. A swell of blood erupted from Deus‘s mouth and his eyes closed, but he could hear still the altered Council rushing up the steps towards him and leaping.
Deus snapped his eyes open and smiled cunningly as he rolled to the right, avoiding the kick which hit the weakened glass and completed it’s destruction, sending the commander through, foot, leg, torso. He almost made it through the window completely when Deus spun back left, his outreaching hands grabbing the only portion of his enemy that remained in reach. His head. He jerked hard to stop the commander’s momentum and then brutally, he slammed that head down unto the broken shards of the reinforced glass jutting up from the base of the frame, decapitating him. He saw the faces of the Council soldiers that were on deck as their leader was executed in stunning fashion. They understood in that moment, Deus thought. None would leave.
Chapter Six: Revelations
They listened to the sounds of guns bellow from elsewhere in the ship from the safety of their cage. It went on for a long time, ever so much longer in the minds of horrified children. After a time though, it stopped. Some of the kids were having a hard time, so Robby went to them, told them that it would be alright now, having recovered from his own tears.
The man in black scared him. He thought he scared all of them. There was something alien in him, more than the red eyes. The fact that he looked more or less like a man just made the differences more alarming, because they could not be seen. So when he came back into the room, covered almost head to toe in blood, everyone held their breath. Even Robby.
The man walked up to the cage and, as the children were already as far away from that side of the cage as humanly conceivable, he sliced at the bars until there was an opening large enough for the children to escape from. The man stood to the side and watched.
The children did not move.
The man blinked those strange eyes, waiting. Still, no one moved. Not even Robby.
“Leave the confines of the cage” he said.
Everyone looked at Robby, and a hand poked him from behind, so he spoke up. “Y-you gonna hurt us?”
“Where are the other guys?”
“Elsewhere in various portions of the ship.”
“Is it safe to come out then? We heard guns.” Robby stated.
“It is. They Council soldiers who did this to you are all no longer capable of harming you.”
Robby felt like he was going to cry again, but swallowed it. Even when the other kids started to. It was really hard to not cry when you wanted to and other boys and girls were. Robby took a tentative step forward, then another, then crawled through the hole in the bars, watching the man all the while, watching him do nothing but watch him and nod once when the boy finally extracted himself. Eventually, emboldened by the fact that Robby was outside the cage and not screaming or being hurt, the rest of the kids started to come out.
“Um, you a hero mister?” Robby asked the bloody man.
“I am a registered superhero operating under the moniker of Deus Ex.”
“Wha? Monkier? What’s that?”
“Moniker. Definition: A nickname, pseudonym or cognomen. Typically, the title is used as a personal or professional name instead of the person’s given name.”
Robby raised his brows at that. “You a retard or something’?”
“You a robot?”
“Then why do you speak like that?”
“I am unsure what you mean, young man. There are too many variables to postulate a reasonable supposition based on your criteria of ‘like that’.”
“Well, thank you anyway for… f-for…” Robby sniffed suddenly and turned away.
Deus Ex stared blankly for a moment, then calmly said “Come above with me. We will go to the bridge and contact the police and coast guard from there.”
So, they followed. Sometimes, one or another of the kids screamed or cried at the sight of blood or dead bodies, until Robby reminded them that they were the bad guys and hurt them, killed their friends. Very few had much trouble after that, but none of the kids said a word when walking around the bodies.
In short order, they were up on the bridge, Deus carrying little Jamie, who did not have her shoes anymore, to avoid her getting cut feet. Once there he picked up a radio and turned a dial, then called out until he got a reply from a woman. He began to tell her of the cargo ship, the dead Council, and the living kids. The said affirmative and said that help was on the way, which caused a fresh round of crying.
Carrying Jamie around, Deus leafed through the materials on the bridge until he found a large box with a lock on it. He asked Robby to hold Jamie, so he did. The hero grabbed the metal box and put it on a counter then pried it open with his sword, to the oohs and ahhs of the others. None could see what all was inside, as they were too short to see. Deus reached in and took out a book, and began to leaf through the pages, smudging them with blood from his gloved fingertips. A page, then another.
Deus just stood there, staring at that one page for a while. It was not until the sound of sirens from somewhere cropped up that he dropped the book and turned back to the children.
“You will be safe soon. There is one more bad person that I know who did this to you.” he said.
“Don’t go.” Jamie replied, but Deus only shook his head.
“What will you do to this other bad person?” Robby asked curiously.
Deus stared and Robby swore he saw his eyes glow for a just a moment. He did not answer though, only leapt out the window of the bridge and into the water.
Conclusion: One hundred and twenty reasons
Joe Millner was at a coffee shop. It had been a long day, and was being made longer by the reporters who would not leave him alone. Apparently, when Deus was making the rounds at City Hall prior to coming to him, the dolt really needs to learn discretion, he belted out his concerns when there was a gaggle of reporters present, waiting for the deputy mayor to comment on some new statue or some shit.
Now he had the wonderful delight of fending off a thousand questions at once, and “no comment” just wasn’t doing it for these jackals today. He resigned himself to just ignore them, despite how annoying they got. Joe Millner was adept at ignoring annoying things.
He made his way in, got his coffee and then tried to leave. The reporters kept getting in front of him but he was making some progress to his car. He was thinking about just upending his cup of very hot fluid on one particularly agitating weasel of a woman named Mary Madison, an advocate of supers and one reporter who spent more time harassing the cops than any other three combined, when he saw him.
Deus was fucked up, bloody and cut. The reporters saw him and went mad trying to rush him for the story. Millner just stood there. Deus drew his sword, the look in his eyes promising the end of this case. The reporters shut the fuck up for once and backed off, suddenly not wanting to be near the registered hero. Millner could hardly blame them. At least it was finally quiet. Scared as he was, he closed his eyes and did his best to think of the Betty, a pretty white sailboat on sky blue Caribbean seas which he planned on purchasing with the money he was paid by his now dead buisness partners. The last thing he thought he heard before his head flew from his neck was a harsh whisper, a number in the amount of a hundred and twenty.