"The Third Degree"
By Karl V.
"WHAT? ARE YOU NUTS?" Blackrock blew his top as Egavar made the proposal to go to the Ark. The others were not surprised by Blackrock's reaction.
"Sir, this woman claims to know the location of a secret base. One that could be the cause of all the recent problems as of late."
"Look, you just met the gal and your ready to go on a golden goose chase? I mean, have you taken the time to look at her? She's covered head to toe like she has the plague or something."
Blackrock waved his hand up and down in emphasis. Egavar had noticed her odd appearance, but didn't pay much attention to detail at the time. Blackrock was correct, as Egavar saw the woman wearing a long raincoat that drooped down to past her knees, the sleeves covering up her arms, and a big hat that kept her face in its shadow. Of the small parts that were exposed, several odd metallic strips ran across them.
"The man has a point, what's with the shiny stuff babe?" Lee was the only one who raised hubris when Egavar was too quick to allow the woman to follow them back to Blackrock's office.
"As mutants, I don't think you want to hear the answer to that. And, call me babe one more time, and I give you a whole new definition of pain." She said coldly as she raised her head. Her face was covered in spots with the metallic stripping as well.
"Oh, what's that? I suppose you'll tell us resistance is futile." Katrina quipped in the extremely rare agreement of Lee's previous statement.
Josie only gave a stare of complete spite. "You want the truth, fine."
Josie took off the hat and placed it on Blackrock's desk. She disrobed the long raincoat, as a complete metallic uniform was revealed underneath.
"Well, care to explain the getup?" Katrina acted unimpressed by Josie's costume.
Josie gave only a wry smile. "The nanotechnology that runs through my veins is something that I don't want. You see this tape provides a magnetic interference in the nanotech, a nice little side effect is that I get to fly as long as there are ferrous objects around. Not only that, the tape is rather useful in conducting electricity. If anyone were ever severely injured or paralyzed, it would act like a secondary nervous system. But, I don't need it for that. "
Josie shot off a spark for display. The others gave confounded stares.
"Not to be rude, but why didn't you just shock the heck out of the Onex Guard?" Hector decided to be the spokesman for the question on everyone's mind.
"The micro batteries that power the electricity can be drained. It takes awhile for them to recharge. Those five you encountered were originally twenty. "
Blackrock sighed for a moment. "Look, it's obvious you have outstanding expertise in your field of technology. Even though I gave Egavar a lecture, we could use someone like you on the team. I do need to know what the nanotech is meant to do."
Josie lowered her head. "Get the mutants out, because I don't want a fight in your office."
Lee grunted. "I don't know what your beef is against mutants lady, but we can handle whatever you dish out."
Josie glared in rage at Lee. "I NEVER HAD ANYTHING AGAINST MUTANTS. I hated Dr. Sesimen for putting this in me, as he knew I stood for mutant rights. He made me something I've grown to hate. I'm what you would call a sleeper. This suit is to prevent the awakening."
"Come on, you're still speaking in gobbledygook. What the heck is wrong with you already?" Katrina snapped in impatience.
Josie's face flushed red with embarrassment. "I'll give you a real big hint. The nanotechnology was stolen from a man who had Zero Tolerance for mutants."
The biting sarcastic statement made the room became deathly quiet as stares of surprise and loathing were cast upon Josie. The four mutants in the room couldn't help their instincts and took a step back.
"You better not be what I think you are, or else I will have words with you." Katrina said with bitter contempt.
"Dr. Archibald Sesimen made me the worst evil and tainted form of technology on this planet. So have words with him, he's the one that made me a Prime Sentinel. But, I use this suit to shut down every little twisted machine of Dr. Sesimen's, including the ones he put in my body."
"She's a human circuit breaker, how quaint." Katrina grunted in disgust.
"What happens if you remove the tape?" Blackrock seemed like the only one keeping his head above water.
"I don't know. Dr. Sesimen reprogrammed the nanotech. I don't know what he has planned for me. I just know that it's the same nanotech made to make the Prime Sentinels. At least that is what he told me."
Blackrock shot a dark glance at each of the mutants. "All right you four, she doesn't even know if it is the Prime Sentinel nanotech. We do, however, need to confirm what it is exactly, and what it will do if you take off the tape. But, since you're the one with the intricate knowledge of the stuff, you'll have to be an escort of sorts. We shouldn't give out your real name, and I think Katrina said it best. You are a human Circuit Breaker."
Josie grudgingly nodded in agreement. "A bit trite, but good enough for now. And it's better than the Star Trek reference. I'll be happy to show you Dr. Sesimen's lab, just be warned the Onex Elite guards it. The guys that have been running around are just the grunts."
"Great, I suppose better armor, weapons, and experience." Hector quietly stated.
"You got it." Josie replied while pointing her finger to her nose.
"All right, we can make the plans for this after I make my big announcement. I have an important statement to give about my financial backing of a new health care company. I also need to introduce you to someone else, a real major player on my team."
A tall approximately thirty-year-old man entered. His hair was black and his stature gave him away as a man of pride and power.
"Mr. Blackrock, I told you that hiring your own team of mutants was not advised."
Blackrock chuckled a bit. "You know me, I don't always follow your advice. This is my team, the Neo-Knights. Neo-Knights, I want you to meet my lawyer and future Senator, Spike Witwicky."
"You're too much G.B. I'm pleased to meet you all." The man shook each of the team member's hands. He stopped at Josie who didn't extend her hand to return the shake.
"You know those trick hand buzzers? Well, mine has more of a kick to it. The kind of kick that gets you unconscious." Josie created a spark from her hand once more.
Spike didn't waver. "Nonsense, you would shock anyone within a few feet of you from the static electricity. You can turn the power off if you want. Just tell me if you don't want a handshake and skip the convenient lie."
Josie gave a blank stare. "I can see why you hired him."
She extended her hand and gave an extremely brief handshake. He returned it and winked at Josie.
"See, it didn't kill you after all. I suppose you all have code names or something like that. Real Names would help too." Spike stood waiting for his indirect hint and direct request to be acknowledged.
The tall red headed soldier type stepped forward first. "Allow me. I'm the commander of this little brigade. My name is Jean Paul Egavar, also known as Ravage. The big fellow is Lee Gruber known as Impact."
Lee enlarged his hand and made a fist. "For obvious reasons, aye."
"The fair but obnoxious brunette is Katrina Vesotsky, she goes by Rapture. This is due to her ability to enrapture the opponent's mind with vivid fantasies."
"Keep talking mister and I shove one of those horns where the sun don't shine." Katrina sneered at the comment of being a snob.
"The quiet but bold Hector Dialonzo, his alias is Dynamo. He taps into the earth's vast energies. And, I guess our newest acquisition is Josie Beller. She just decided on Circuit Breaker as a name. And that silver suit helps her break more than circuits as she pointed out. "
"Well, thank you. But, I would like to know why they call you Ravage. What mutant power do you posses?"
Egavar changed into his bestial form. His black horns sprouting from his face and long sharp secondary nails extracting from his fingers. "This is about three fourths the reason. The other fourth is my experience in battle."
Spike nodded. "Well, I guess you are more than meets the eye. But enough discussion, I suggest all of you switch back to civilian clothes for the announcement. We have about an hour G.B."
"I can't get out of this tape for a particular reason Mr. Witwicky. I'm afraid I won't be able to make it." Josie smiled at having such a legitimate excuse.
"You're definitely trouble. But, there isn't anything that a little makeup can't handle. I'll have Mr. Blackrock's cosmetic artist cover that metal up. If that's fine with you, G.B."
Blackrock nodded. "All right, you heard the man. Get into civilian attire and meet us down by the podium in an hour. Josie follow me and we'll see what wonders my makeup artist can do."
"Yeah, just look at him." Lee joked.
The Egavar and Hector snickered while even Josie and Katrina cracked a smile.
"Funny Lee, maybe I should look into how I dock you pay." Blackrock flashed a smile as he whimsically retorted.
Lee gave a startled look and wondered if Blackrock was serious or not. Blackrock just smirked and shook his head in an indirect answer to Lee's question.
An hour later….
Blackrock stepped to the several microphones that were placed on the podium. On the big grandstand, the four teammates were seated on his right and his lawyer on his left. A huge rectangular block that was covered by a blue blanket was up above and behind them. Blackrock began to speak as the media started to take notes.
"As you know, there are two sure things that you can place money on, Technology and Health Care. As my esteemed college, Tony Stark has already got the foothold on the technology frontier. Therefore, I have placed my money on one of the many aspects of Health care, Pharmaceutical drug development and research. I would like to present the future of this bold new era."
Blackrock pulled a cover off the block revealing a sign that was placed by the podium. Several cameras flashed as the audience applauded. The sign read: Alchemax Co.
Loud clanking was heard as a woman's voice echoed forth with a metallic twinge. "You're dead meat Blackrock."
"WHO?" Blackrock looked as a woman came up to the podium. She was covered head to toe with metal junk.
"I ain't no Junkpile, so you can call me Amalgama." She leaped up by Blackrock with a thud.
She grabbed him by the throat and whispered in his ear. "You done good G.B. Mr. Boone is happy, now it's time to…"
"DREAM!" Katrina yelled as Amalgama was hit with Rapture's psionic attack.
She stood, crime lord over all men, as they bowed and kissed her feet. She smiled in ultimate bliss as her benefactor knelt before her and she quickly gave him a swift kick in the jaw. He fell unconscious as she…
"Damn…she has adamantium in there…" Impact shook his hand as it shrunk back down.
"Someone rang?" The female bundle of scrap metal turned to face Impact, while shaking off her induced dream.
"Yes, the death knoll tolls for you." Circuit Breaker powered up a charge and shot it at Amalgama.
Amalgama shrieked in sheer pain as she fell from the jolting shock.
"Cripes, you didn't have to kill her, aye." Impact rushed to where the woman fell.
Dynamo and Egavar instantly took to crowd control as panic took hold of the press personnel. Blackrock glared at Josie then turned his attention to the woman.
"What did you do?" Blackrock jumped to the woman's side and then frantically checked the crowd.
"She'll live. It's that time traveler you are worried about. Isn't it?" Circuit Breaker scanned the screaming masses for a solitary figure.
"How did you know?" Blackrock snarled with rage.
Circuit Breaker shook her head. "I was able to get some information about every player in the grand scheme of things. I learned about Jordan Boone when I was Sesimen's assistant. Was he the one who blackmailed you into creating this?"
"No, I had plans before but he told me how Alchemax would run this country into the ground, in his future. I didn't want anything on my hands; even with the slightest possibility that is was true. He blackmailed me into continuing with my original plan."
"Didn't pay your taxes or something?" Impact looked at Blackrock with a bit of lost respect.
Blackrock looked up and shook his head. "He had information that I was one of many anonymous backers of the Xavier Institute. Information like that could have destroyed me, with all these anti-mutant lobbyists around."
"Well, it don't matter now. Circuit Breaker was right, the heavy metal chick is still breathing. I guess she didn't bang her head too hard after all, aye." Impact smirked at his pun.
"L…Impact, no time for jokes. Where's Spike?" Blackrock looked around in concern.
"You idiot, you can't keep anything straight!" Spike yelled from afar.
"What is wrong with you? Oh no…"
Blackrock watched as his assistant morphed into a green ghoulish figure.
"This just proves that you don't know Jack." The crook gave a wicked smile as he displayed his pristine white teeth then cackled with delight as he disappeared into the crowd.
"That goblin the one blackmailing ya?" Impact asked the obvious.
"He goes by the name of Halloween Jack. He claims to be from the future, a hundred years from now. He can change his form at will, as you saw. " Blackrock noted with spite.
"Yeah, just peachy. At least we caught his merc. I'll make sure she'll talk." Impact clenched his bruised fist.
"First, we get her and you to the doctor, then we can interrogate. I'm sure Jack will be back, it's a guaranteed bet." Blackrock went looked up to see that Egavar and Hector standing with blank faces as the crowd seemed to disappear into thin air.
"I'm fine, just bruised. I just gotta train myself on some of the denser metals." Impact rubbed his hurt hand.
"Try hitting your own head, nothing is thicker than that." Rapture quipped as she walked up closer to the pair.
"Rapture, can you use your powers on several people?" Blackrock noticed the crowd was still trampling over each other.
She sighed. "I've tried before but the effect is lessened with the more amount of people."
"DREAM!" Rapture yelled, as the crowd stood motionless for a second.
Blackrock stood up and made an announcement. "People, the situation is over. The matter has been resolved. Please, continue to calmly go about your business."
They shook their heads as they heard Blackrock's announcement and wondered what had happened. Each simply assuming a mutant attack caused their situation; they dispersed while shaking their heads from the effects of Rapture's psionic blow.
"That went well." Blackrock sighed in relief.
Egavar walked up to Blackrock. "Are you going to tell us what just happened here?"
"Some loon from the future was blackmailing him to make this company a sure thing. He's a shape shifter, so it would be pointless to check the crowd." Impact bluntly stated.
"I guess that's the real reason why you wanted a team of mutants." Egavar looked at Blackrock for an answer.
Blackrock shook his head. "No, the reason for the pressure pills though. I swear that I didn't hire you guys to protect me from my own problems. I hired you to protect my assets."
"I think you got it the other way around. You didn't hire us to protect your property, you hired us to protect your ass." Rapture fumed in anger.
Blackrock grunted in frustration. "Look, I'll be more open with anything that might affect you guys in the future. That's all I can promise."
"Fine, you do that, after we take the tin woman to get her new heart. She'll probably need one after Circuit Breaker's little shock therapy session."
"I ain't in the scrap heap yet, girlie." The female mutant coughed up a bit of smoke as she began to get up.
"How the heck?" Rapture stated as the metal woman coyly smiled.
She simply shoved the others out of the way as she quickly ran off into the horizon. The others continued to stare in amazement as they watched her go.
"You knew she could take that didn't you?" Rapture asked the silent Circuit Breaker who was levitating overhead.
No reply was given as Circuit Breaker slowly descended down.
"Never mind her. I guess we got to find your lawyer friend. Obviously, that freak has him in captivity." Rapture pointed out the obvious.
Blackrock practically doubled over at the statement. "Oh no, Spike! Carly will not be happy about this."
"Carly?" Hector wondered about the name that Blackrock had dropped.
"His wife, she won't be happy to know a mutant has taken him hostage." Blackrock said with dread.
"Gee, don't care to much for you lawyer friend, ay?" Impact asked.
"Jack is more of a blackmailer then a murderer. I doubt he would honestly hurt Spike, but we do need to rescue him before I am proven wrong."
"I guess raiding Dr. Sesimen's lab will have to be put off for now." Circuit Breaker finally spoke upon Blackrock's statement.
"Yes, I'm afraid so. " Blackrock apologetically stated.
"Fine, I will go by myself." Circuit Breaker flew off into the horizon.
Impact shook his head. "She's got curves but she ain't much of a team player."
Rapture rolled her eyes and grunted in disgust.
Egavar spoke up. "I can track Circuit Breaker with my heightened senses. I'll go after her and you three can handle Halloween Jack and Amalgama."
"Gee, thanks for the enthusiasm Sarge." Rapture crossed her arms across her front.
"I was an officer, not enlisted." Egavar snapped back.
"Enough, all of you!" Blackrock shouted at the top of his lungs, "I'm the one signing your paychecks, so you better listen to me!"
They stood quiet as they turned to look at Blackrock.
"Now, Egavar I want you to track Halloween Jack and find Spike, and take Rapture with you. Dynamo and Impact can go after Circuit Breaker."
Egavar looked irate at the decision and was almost inclined to argue the point. "Fine, but I don't approve."
"Your disapproval is noted, and is too bad. According to your military standards, I’m your commanding officer now." Blackrock boldly stood up to the tall red headed man.
"Yes, sir." Egavar saluted with a bit a cold sarcasm.
"Now, go quickly before someone is hurt. And be careful. I'll handle Carly, and believe me when I say this. It will be as difficult as what you guys are about to do."
Blackrock walked off to tell Spike's wife the news as the teammates split up to complete their assigned tasks.
Halloween Jack entered his hideout twirling and laughing as a bound man grunted at his entrance.
"I don't suppose you are going to let me go, are you?" He spoke with bitterness.
Jack only smiled. "Why should I do that? I've told you everything you need to know. Even more than you could imagine."
"I don't believe what you have told me. It can't be true." The man shook his head in denial.
Jack hideously laughed. "Oh please. The history of the Armageddon of Heroes was lost, and I know what most likely caused it! I mean it's kind of hard to miss these guys. No wonder a great extent was went to cover it up."
"Look, I don't care who you are or what you think. Blackrock will send people to rescue me, that's for sure."
"Mr. Witwicky, I already met some of Blackrock's motley crew. Especially, that highly addictive babe that gave me such a nice dream. It's no wonder she is called Rapture. Poor Domino will just have to suffer the loss of being without me. I guess everything doesn't fall into place for her after all."
Spike shook his head once more. "You are one sick puppy."
Jack morphed into a small puppy and made a sarcastic coughing sound. "Your request is granted!"
Spike rolled his eyes. "Let me have my one call. It will be to a vet."
Jack morphed back into his ghoulish form and put a pointed nail to Spike's chin. "You're quite good with the wit. I'll be waiting for Blackrock's mutant friends to come and try to save the day, and I'll let them. I just thought someone else besides me should share the wealth of information that I managed to obtain. Besides, I'm just here to ensure my own future, and I've already guaranteed that."
Spike hesitated to add another comment, as he wanted to return home to his wife and four-year-old kid.