Mona walked through the halls of the New Millennium Wolves headquarters with a folder in her hand. Her partner Rock had made an odd request a week ago, and she didn’t give it much hope. At the request of his cousin Rock had ask Mona to research Deskue INC employees. For a solid week she looked into arrest records and background profiles but came up short. That was until she got word from New Millennium Penitentiary.
It seemed that the police had arrested a Deskue INC employee named Ryan Hill. He was stupid enough to attempt a bank robbery in the middle of the day with no disguise or alibi. When the alarm was triggered he shot a fat lady in the stomach and ran down the street in the direction of his apartment building. The police were able to follow him up to his apartment on the fourteenth floor and arrested Ryan while he was wandering around his apartment groggily and dazed.
A lawyer was trying to get him out of the penitentiary on an insanity plea, but Ryan was clearly the one who committed the crime and it seemed premeditated. On paper it was solid. Mona felt a twinge in the back of her mind that told her something was fishy. The same twinge told her that Rock had felt it even before the crime was committed.
Mona entered Rock’s office and found him cleaning his gun. He spent most of the morning at the firing range in the subbasement of NMW headquarters.
“Got a hit for Jonah,” Mona said dropping the folder on top of Rock’s various gun pieces. “Up until this asshole tried to rob a bank and shoot a woman the Deskue employee pool was pretty clean. How’d Jonah know about this one?”
“Off the record?” Rock asked closing the folder after briefly perusing it.
“Of course,” Mona said.
“The Post is looking into Deskue INC,” Rock said.
Mona whistled. She was aware of what the The Post was and knew it paid her bills as well as kept the city of New Millennium safe from the more powerful bad guys that went bump in the night. She also know about Rock and Jonah’s involvement. If The Post was looking into Deskue then he must be up to something big.
“I’m going to take my bike over to see Jonah,” Rock said setting the folder aside and reassembling his gun. “If anyone else asked…”
“None of this ever happened,” Mona finished. “One day you and I are going to get into this Post stuff you know.”
“I think we all are whether we like it or not, Mona,” Rock said inserting his clip into his gun and making sure the safety was on.
Leon Dekue threw his chair across the room. How could this have happened? He was in constant control of nearly five hundred employees he had working in his building. Each one he had finely tuned to tow the line as not to draw any attention to him. He knew this Ryan Hill as well as he knew all that he probed on a daily basis. He was a quiet boy. He lived by himself in a small apartment and spent most of his free time chasing girls around a local bar.
Deskue read the police report again. Daylight bank robbery? Attempted murder? Woman in critical condition? Temporary memory loss? It didn’t add up.
It wasn’t out of the question that Deskue may have snapped something in Ryan’s fragile mind. It had happened before. Usually there were signs that a mind was breaking and Deskue could deal with it properly before someone killed the family dog, raped their children, or (in Ryan Hill’s case) rob a bank and shoot an innocent woman.
Deskue took a small drink from his flask. The tonic he carried with him would help relax his mind and he’d be able to focus. First the demon came demanding training to block his mind, then the psy-powered demon attacks, and now one of his closely watched employees was not only arrested, but taken out of the reach of his mind. This was not good. No, not good at all.
“Betsy,” Deskue said hitting the button on his intercom. “Get me Rev as soon as you can find him.”
Gabriel flexed his fingers and watched the blue arcs of power spark between his fingers. Dr. Sands had convinced his higher ups in the DPA Gabriel was ready to have his powers “switched on”. He had an urge to go back out into the world to try his powers out on some unsuspecting criminals like before, but opted for the safe laboratory approach on Sands’ judgement.
“Are you ready?” Sands asked from behind his thick-glassed blast shield.
“Ready,” Gabriel said.
“Let him have it,” Sands said.
Gabriel looked down the white corridor at the mannequin they had set up for him. It was dressed in black armor and a helmet and had a yellow target its chest. Gabriel smiled and raised his right hand.
With a thought his hand was surrounded by a bright blur orb or power and he felt it course down his arm and surrounded his closed fist. With another thought the power jumped form his hand and found its target in center of the practice dummy. Its chest exploded outward in a shower of blue-white sparks and smoke. Gabriel held both his hands out with his palms up, and once and filled both hands with the blue-white power. He balled his hands into fists and aimed them both at the dummy. He released power from both hands at once and after the resulting explosion the dummy was nothing but pieces on the floor.
“Good,” Sands said from behind his blast shield. “The pulse cannons are working great. Do you think you could try the sword and shield yet?”
Gabriel smiled. He knew this idea had come from Archer Post during his training with Jonah, and he was eager to try this. It didn’t take too long for Sands to make the design adjustments to his exo-suit. Some of the DPA science staff set up two more black practice dummies and a gatling gun. “Tell us when you’re ready,” Sands said.
“Ready,” Gabriel said again putting his forearm in front of him. He felt the suit’s shield device click open and before the gatling gun started firing its rubber bullets a glass like rectangular shield was in front of him. Gabriel knew from Sands’ descriptions it was something he called “hard power”. Gabriel stood amazed as the rubber bullets bounced off the shield with small flashes of white sparks.
Once the gatling gun stopped pumping rounds of rubber bullets at Gabriel he urged his shield away and the device turned once more and the shield was gone. He held his right hand in front of him and urged his exo-suit to release the sword. In an instant a small metal arm with a coil sprang from his forearm and snapped together in his hand. With another thought he pulsed power through the coil and a blue-white power surged through it. He smiled and sped off towards the two practice dummies.
With a slash the first dummy’s head was severed and its metal neck smoked. He swung the glowing sword again and cut the other dummy in half diagonally from shoulder to hip. He shut the coils off and closed the sword with a loud clang.
“Very good,” Sands said walking from behind the blast shield with a man Gabriel hadn’t met. ‘Be sure to check your power levels,” he said pointing at the inside of Gabriel’s arm. He looked at the small gauge that Sands had showed him before. As of now he had lost only one of the ten bars displayed, but it was rapidly refilling. “Your power will regenerate within your body,” Sands went on. “But if you run out of power your synthetic organs will go into shut down killing what remains of your human body.”
“Your skills were very impressive,” the muscular man with the beard scruff said.
“Thank you Mr….” Gabriel said.
“I’m sorry,” Sands said. “Gabriel, I’d like you to meet Rock Judge. Director and Captain of the New Millennium Wolves.”
Jonah reviewed the file that Rock brought him. Rock had mentioned that something didn’t add up, and Jonah agreed. He had requested that Rock and Mona look into any illicit activities of Deskue employees so he could possible catch a lucky break and find some information about the inside of Deskue’s company. Up until the day Ryan Hill walked into a bank and shot a woman there was nothing. Killian had the theory the employees were brainwashed and kept a low profile lifestyle to keep Deskue out of trouble, but then this would be out of place.
Jonah went to go find Killian to relay this new information. He found him in one of the DPA’s dojo style training rooms meditating with some candles and incense. “Killian,” he said. “We finally caught a break with Deskue.”
“Very good,” Killian said with his eyes still closed. “I could barely read that from your mind. You’ve been practicing though meditation.”
Jonah dropped the wall around his mind so Killian could quickly see the information he discovered.
“That does seem odd,” Killian said opening his yellow eyes and facing Jonah. “Does Post know about this?”
“I didn’t see him yet,” Jonah said. “Do you think we should ask him about it?”
“No,” Killian said. “It may be unwise to involve him just yet. He wouldn’t like what I’m going to propose.”
“So you believe you’ve found Rev after all this time?” Sands asked Rock Judge as they sat around the round table in the science lab’s conference room.
“We believe so,” Rock said. “If our intel is right then he’s been hiding out in a truck depot in the northern part of the city. We had to follow his trail of destruction after he destroyed the Takeshi Chemicals building last month.”
“Why is he doing this?” Gabriel asked. “It makes no sense.”
“Doesn’t it?” Rock asked. “Rev is insane. He probably needed some kind of chemical stored in that building and destroyed it and killed the employees just to cover up what exactly he was doing there.”
“He’s building something,” Sands said.
“It would appear so,” Rock said. “More than likely a chemical bomb of some kind.”
“And you think he’s storing it at that truck depot?” Sands asked.
“Yes,” Rock said. “And now that we know what he’s up to and where he’s holding up the only thing left to do is to stop him. That’s why I’m here, Gabe.”
“You’re here to enlist me into the Wolves?” Gabriel said.
“No,” Rock replied. “I am here to request your help. We’re going in with or without you. You have a choice like each and every member of the Wolves do. You can come and fight or you can stay here to run more tests. If you decide to assist us meet me tomorrow morning at eight at my headquarters.” Rock passed Gabriel a small card on top of the table. “There is always a choice, Gabriel,” Rock said getting up. “Don’t let anyone else tell you different.”
Gabriel watched in admiration as Rock pushed in his chair and left. He supposed he should think on his decision, but his mind was made up before Rock was out of the room.
Later that day Jonah and Killian pulled up to the front of New Millennium Penitentiary in one of Jonah’s corporate town cars. “Are you sure this will work?” Jonah asked.
“No,” Killian said. “There’s no way of telling what this Ryan Hill may or may not know, but me going in there with you is the only way this will work.”
On the long walk to the front doors Jonah was vaguely aware that Killian had changed his shape. He put up his psychic wall and realized he was actually just hiding his true form from everyone’s mind. Before they left the DPA headquarters it was agreed that Killian would do all the talking until they can get to Ryan Hill alone.
“Good afternoon, sir,” the guard at the front door buzzing them right in. Jonah didn’t know what images or ideas Killian was feeding him, but it worked.
Once they were inside Killian approached a guard behind a desk. “We need to see inmate Ryan Hill,” he said.
“Who sent you clearance?” the mid-aged guard said looking up the name in a notebook with a pen in hand.
Killian paused for a second. “Dr. Thomson,” he said.
“Oh Dr. Thomson,” the guard said. “Tell him Poppy says hi! We miss him at our Thursday night poker games.”
“I’ll let him know,” Kilian said signing the book with a big black X.
The guard Poppy led them through the prison. The smell of body odor and piss filled Jonah’s nose. He looked around him and saw the men standing in the cells starting at him. He turned to Killian to see him jerk his head to the left suddenly as something caught the corner of his eye.
“Everything alright?” Jonah asked.
“I thought I saw someone,” Killian said. “Must be my imagination.”
The guard brought them into a room with three chairs and a table. Jonah said down and Killian took the seat next to him. “I’ll get inmate Hill for you,” Poppy the guard said.
“Thank you,” Killian said.
Killian sighed and put down his disguise.
“Does it hurt to do that?” Jonah asked.
“No,” Killian said. “It just puts a strain on the mind to trick that many minds into seeing what I want them to see.”
“Is that why you jumped out there?” Jonah asked.
“Perhaps,” Killian said. “When the mind is strained it can play tricks on you. Even a shadow can take the form of your fears.”
“Could you disguise me too?” Jonah asked.
“I did,” Killian replied. “Nobody we encountered even knew you were with me.”
Jonah noticed the disguise was back in place and two seconds later the door opened. “Here’s inmate Hill,” Poppy the guard said. “Do you need me to stay in case he gets out of hand?” He led Hill to the chair across the the table and eased him into it by his shoulder.
“No,” Killian said. “Go have a coffee. I’ll let you know when we’re done.”
“Gosh, a coffee does sound good,” Poppy said. “I’ll be close by if you need me.”
Ryan Hill sat across from Killian and Jonah. Killian dropped the guise again and Ryan could suddenly see the demon and his friend sitting across from him. “What the fuck do you want from me?” he said moving backwards and falling out the chair. “Haven’t I been through enough weird shit?”
“Calm yourself,” Killian said extending a hand to help Hill up. “We just want to talk. Once we are done we will go.”
“Oh yeah?” Hill said slapping Killian’s hand away. “And leave me here to rot? I don’t know what’s going on, but I didn’t shoot that lady, and I think you know it! So spill your guts or I’m yelling for the guard!”
“Is there a way to speed things up?” Jonah asked.
“Of course,” Killian replied. “Sit down, Ryan.”
Ryan’s eyes grew wide and he sat in the chair without another word of protest.
“My friend is going to ask you some questions,” Killian said. “I want you answer him open and honestly. Once he is done you can go back to your cell unmolested. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Hill said in a dazed voice.
Killian motioned for Jonah to ask his questions.
“Ryan,” Jonah said. “Can you tell me what you do for Deskue?”
“Oh this and that,” Hill said in a monotone voice. “You know how it is. Pushing the paper from here to there.”
“Can you be a little more specific?” Jonah asked.
“No,” Hill replied.
“Why not?” Jonah asked.
“I don’t know,” Hill said.
“It’s just as you suspected,” Jonah said turning to Killian. “He probably has them all brainwashed like this.”
“There’s only one difference between Ryan Hill and the rest of Deskue INC,” Killian said. “Ryan, tell us what happened to you the day you supposedly robbed the bank and shot the woman.”
“I don’t know,” Hill said again. “After I get home my memory gets hazy. I can’t see what I’m doing.”
“Think,” Killian said exerting more psychic force. “I need you to drop the wall, Jonah. You need to come in with me.”
Jonah dropped his mental wall entirely and suddenly he wasn’t in the cold prison room any more. He was walking through an apartment building hallway talking to a cute postal worker. The conversation was going well and he could feel his arousal growing. When he opened the door he said some corny goodbye over his shoulder and hoped for the girl to come back after she delivered her package and have a coffee or something.
Once he was in his apartment door her felt a hard shove on his behind and he was on the ground. He struggled but the girl was on top of him. He begged for his life, but in the end he felt a sharp pain in his neck and then saw nothing else.
When he woke up he was wearing a different set of clothes and it was much later in the day. There was a loud banging and it took him a little while to realize there was somebody pounding at his door. He crossed his apartment and opened the door to two police men nearly tackling him. They frisked him and found a gun in his pocket he had never seen before in his life and they cuffed him. On his way down the hall he noticed Mrs. Abernathy shaking her head and scowling at him. He always thought she liked him.
In a flash he was back sitting next to Killian in the small prison room looking at Ryan Hill who was now sweating and bleeding from his nose. “Can I go back to my cell?” he asked shakily.
“Answer one more question and you can go,” Jonah said. “What can you tell me about Leon Deskue?”
“I don’t know,” Hill said. “I’ve never actually met him. I’ve seen glimpses of him here and there around the building though. Honestly, he scares the shit out of me. When I think of him in anyway I feel death. If I begin to feel as if I don’t want to work for Deskue any more I feel as if my whole family will die a painful death. I feel as if the city of New Millennium will burn and Leon Deskue will laugh as he pisses on the ashes.”
“That’s enough, Killian,” Jonah said. “You can let him go.”
Without a word from anyone Poppy the guard was back at the door holding a half empty cup of coffee. “I think it’s time for Mr. Hill here to get back to his cell. I am sure you can see your way out. Goodbye.”
“What was that at the end?” Jonah asked.
“Psychic residue,” Killian said. “Pieces of Deskue’s psyche must have attached to Hill’s inner mind. I’m sure if I probe other members of Deskue INC we will have similar results. After a long period of time it would drive them insane. It might be the reason employees of Deskue’s don’t live long lives.”
“How could we have missed that all this time?” Jonah asked.
“Deskue’s influence runs deep,” Killian replied. “It’s easy to manipulate records when you can control the people that control them.”
“And what of the Hill’s vision of being attacked and put out during the robbery?” Jonah asked. “I suppose that makes him innocent.”
“It would seem that way,” Killian said. “Hill’s incarceration here was someone else’s intention.”
“But who’s?” Jonah said thinking aloud.
“More riddles,” Killian said. “We have a lot to think on.”
“Shouldn’t we get him out of here? We could take him to the DPA,” Jonah suggested.
“How?” Killian asked. “It’s one thing for me to use my power to sneak in to talk to him. It will take more tricks than what I have to get him out of here free and clear. Perhaps you can take a more democratic approach?”
Jonah smiled. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said. “For now lets get back and try to unravel this one.”
Max Klennon hid in his cell. He didn’t need to hide much these days, but Nilas saw something that caused him a bit of an alarm and he disappeared from Max’s mind and put up his mental blocks. After that Max made himself scarce.
Ever since Nilas lent Max his power in the shower that day things in New Millennium Penitentiary had changed. The guards found Max with the brutally murdered bodies of the three men that we sent into the showers to rape and kill him. Max was thrown into a solitary cell and when he came out a week later attitudes towards him were changed.
The prison board ruled the three men’s deaths as self defense (although they wondered how Max could’ve taken on three men who were bigger, stronger, and outnumbered him). It had also seemed that the other inmates at New Millennium Penitentiary had a newfound respect for Max. He no longer had to eat in fear of someone punching him in the back of the head and stealing his food, and he was left alone in the showers. He still didn’t hear from Nilas, but he no longer cried in the night for him either.
Now he reached out to Nilas with nothing but his curiosity.
Max waited until the darkness of night and while his cellmate was snoring away he whispered to the demon in his mind. “Nilas,” he whispered. “Are you there?”
What do you want? Nilas asked. It was unlike him to answer right away lately.
“What happened?” Max asked. “What did you see earlier?”
Killian was here, Nilas answered. He was with that Jonah Judge. If he spotted me they’ll surely come back for me, but luckily they came for Deskue’s lackey as planned.
“Deskue?” Max asked. “What does he have to do with them?”
I sent those two on Deskue’s trail, Nilas said.
“But why?” Max asked. “I thought he was on our side.”
Do you think Killian was the only one I was sent here to kill? Nilas said. He is only one of three of my targets. Deskue is another. If Killian and Deskue can eliminate each other it will make my job easier and I can concentrate on killing the Warrior of White Fire.
“What else aren’t you telling me?” Max asked. “This makes little sense to me.”
You do not question my motives, human Nilas said with his presence growing in Max’s mind. You have served your purpose, but I no longer have any use for you.
“No,” Max said panicked. “Don’t make me go back in! We had a deal!” Max’s body was in familiar pain as the demon Nilas Nil took his body over again. The irony of wanting Nilas to take over when he first came into the prison escaped him as he cried out in the pain of his bones and muscles breaking and rebuilding themselves anew.
“You better shut the fuck up down there!” his cellmate called. “I don’t care how lucky you got in those showers, bitch.” His vulgarity was answered with Nilas’ dual bone claw ripping through his chest from through the bottom of the bed. The last thing he saw as he body fell to the floor in a bloody pile was the bone-masked face of Nilas Nil.