The Executioner: Part 4

It didn’t take long. The helmet probably adjusted more quickly than my eyes did.

At first I only saw silhouettes, and lines of brightness in the windows where the boards weren’t quite flush.

Instants later, I saw more than I wanted.

The room hadn’t been updated since the 1950’s, or maybe the 1930’s. Cracked plaster walls, and worn, wooden floors told of abandonment and decay.

It wouldn’t have been a bad cottage. The living room was big enough, and the highly detailed, stone fireplace on the far wall argued that the original owners had had some money.

If I’d visited the place at any other time, I might have checked out the woodwork on the stairway, or the old, peeling wallpaper.

I might also have wondered what sort of furniture they’d had back when people used the place, or why it hadn’t been fixed up.

But I didn’t wonder any of that. I got distracted.

Sean lay on the floor. The black Heroes League uniform had been ripped half off him, and his left forearm bent in the middle.

Gina bent over him, but not quite as remembered her. The last I’d seen her, she’d been about the same height as Ray.  Now she had to be seven feet tall at least, and even her muscles seemed to have muscles.

I  couldn’t tell for sure on the height because she wasn’t standing. But as she bent over Sean, splinting his arm, it was obvious she had to be bigger than he was.

I also noticed that the back of her shirt had ripped, and from what I could see, she had long, red scars on her back, and bloodstains on the ripped pieces of her shirt as well as her pants.

Unmoving, Sean looked pale.

I wondered why they were saving him. It seemed out of character.

Ray stood in the middle of the room, semi-automatic pistol in hand. My mom had been tied to an old wooden chair near him, her hands bound behind her back.

She’d been gagged, but not blindfolded, and stared up at us.

Two men in Syndicate L’s power armor stood behind Ray, paralysis guns and automatic rifles hanging under their arms, aiming them at us.

“Nice to see you again, Nick. And nice to see your sister Rachel too.” Ray pointed the pistol in Mom’s direction. “Now that we’re all here, I thought I’d lay some cards on the table. First, you’ll find we’ve got protection against Ghost here phasing a bullet into our bodies. Try it, and we shoot your mom.

“Second, the guys in the armor back there have armor-piercing bullets. Maybe your armor can take it. Maybe it can’t, but are you going to risk it? I wouldn’t.”

Remembering the last time I’d been shot in the stealth suit, I knew I could take one, but not too many–and maybe not even one if the guys in armor were using higher caliber weapons.

“So here’s what you’re going to do now. Drop the utility belts, the guitar, the gun, the Rocket’s helmet, and ditch the jetpack.”

“It’s not a jetpack,” I said. “Notice that there’s no air intake, blades or compressor. It’s a rocketpack.”

I knew it was a mistake as I said it, but a part of me couldn’t let that go.

“Right,” Ray said. “Gina, please move.”

She backed away from Sean, and as she did, Ray pointed the gun toward Sean, and fired.

The bullet thumped into the plaster just past Sean, adding a few more cracks and a hole to the wall’s collection.

“Missed,” Ray pointed the gun back at Mom. “Next time, I won’t. I figure he’s got a few shots left in him. How about this? I’ll  shoot a toe every time you mouth off. That sound fun to you? And when he’s done, we move over to dear old Mom. Got it? Good. So ditch your junk, rocketpack included.”

We did it.

I left the helmet till last, but at the end, I took it off and put it on the floor next to the guitar, the belt, and the rocketpack.

“Great,” Ray said. “Now push them across the white painted line toward me, and when you’re done, make sure you’re on the same side.”

Someone had painted a white circle on the floor. Rachel and I looked over at each other, and stepped across it.

I didn’t look at Mom. Between unmasking and the block, it seemed like tempting fate. If I pretended she wasn’t there, maybe we could avoid any weird, block-related side effects.

Then I tried to think of a way to get us out of there. Well, to the degree I could keep my mind on it, given that Ray was in position to kill half my family.

“Can I ask you a question?” I watched Ray, hoping he wouldn’t start shooting Sean just for that.

He didn’t. He smiled, and said, “Go on.”

“I’ve been wondering how you ended up at the D’Onofrio Christmas party in the first place. You came there for years. How’d you start?”

He smiled wider. “It’s a funny story, and we’ve got a little time. Sure, what the hell?”

You know how sometimes near the end of the story, the villain explains pretty near everything he’s ever done? I guessed it probably didn’t work that way in real life, but it was worth a shot.

15 thoughts on “The Executioner: Part 4”

  1. I hope Nick is buying time for back-up, because right now he looks screwed.

    A rare mistake — you wrote “Great,” Ray said. “Now push them across the white painted line toward me, and when your done, make sure you’re on the same side.” but it should be “when YOU’RE done” 🙂

    There’s one thing that bugs me in this story on a small level — the villains have ways to paralyze foes or block intangibility — and it makes sense because superheroes have been around for decades. But it always drove me crazy that like the Sentinels in X-men came up with ways to block their powers after one encounter — I’m sure it takes tons of research to figure out anything remotely like that. So when it comes up in this story I’m like “that’s not fair!” and then I remind myself that there was a Ghost in World War 2 so there was plenty of time to come up with a block.

  2. Thanks for noting the error. I usually get your/you’re right… Oh well.

    As for the intangibility blocker… Yeah. That’s exactly the justification. The text is missing (because it would slow things down) a comment by Nick about how his grandfather created a machine to catch his grandmother back in WW2, and how you pretty much have to adjust it a little differently for each person with similar powers, but how the default setting is his grandmother’s so if they have to move it to catch Rachel, they probably wouldn’t have to move it much.

    Also, they haven’t tested it, so we can’t know for sure that Ray’s telling the truth on this one either.

  3. Hmmh, the bad guys having blockers against all sorts of stuff never bothered me in the story, though that’s largely since it’s Executioner who are supposedly like evil Batman so it’s pretty much their schtick to be prepared with special gear against anything they could anticipate.

  4. “It’s not a jetpack”

    HAH! Pure comic genius!

    Well, except for the part where it makes Ray threaten to blow off Sean’s toes, one by one. That’s a bit of a downer.

    Hg

    1. I’d hoped that that would be a little funny, but in many ways, I was thinking more of a character moment than anything else.

      There are a lot of heroes out there that talk back to the villains constantly. It amuses me that Nick doesn’t, but will if Ray makes a technical error. And he’ll do it instantly.

  5. Jim,

    I read this story, and my throat is constricting the same way it did watching 24.

    Which means you are WRITING THE HELL out of this story.

  6. On the matter of disabling powers via technology, technology can be disabled too and usually more easily. Why don’t heroes with blockable powers get gadgets/talismans/whatever that block the technologies that block their powers?

    I.e. Superman could wear a suit made out of lead or similarly radiation-proof material to protect from kryptonite. In fact, in the past not only he has worn such suits but also suits that absorb yellow light more efficiently but don’t absorb red light.

  7. In the superhero genre, super-science and magic tend to follow similar paths. Both can be catch-all game changers (like blocking the hero’s main powers), and both can be “easily” adapted to new situations (like countering the counter-measures). Being magical and being “scientific” both grant the user a high degree of flexibility, especially when it comes to what was called, in the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG, “power stunts”. (Man, that game was awesome!)

    Hg

  8. There are drawbacks to some of those protective suits too, Belial.

    Superman isn’t supposed to be able to X-ray vision through a lead outfit. It’d get in the way of his heat vision and freeze breath. It could break if he was hit too hard or if he hit something too hard. Just fire some sort of Kryptonite ammo through the suit with an anti-material rifle or similarly high-powered method of penetration, (aka Doomsday with no pants on, Stilt-Man on Viagra, Bizarro after an abstinence pledge). Oh, and since the X-ray vision wouldn’t work, he’d need a clear section to see out of, so that just lets in kryptonite radiation anyway.

  9. Bill: Thanks. One part of me is relieved to know that it works. Another part of me finds itself thinking that bearing in mind that it’s the conclusion of a couple important storylines, it would be really depressing if people were reading this and going, “Meh. Same ole, same ole…”

    Hg: I’ve made characters for Marvel Super Heroes, but oddly enough, never got to play the game. I spent more time playing Villains and Vigilantes and Champions, but always thought that Marvel Super Heroes looked really cool.

    On Disabling Power-Disablers: I imagine there will be some of that in this story as it’s practical for the characters and fits with whether they’d think about it at all.

  10. @Psycho Gecko;

    Given that normal clothing worn by superman seems to hold up to anything short of massive artillery shells and the fists of equally powerful enemies, how much more would really tough radiation-proof alloys would take?
    As for the vision powers, he could use crystals as adjustable lenses over the eyesockets which would refract radiation. Refraction angles would be different for kryptonite radiation than for either visible light or x-rays so the system would deflect the k-radiation into a lead plate while sending the light/x-rays to superman’s eyes.

    Besides, that’s just with normal technology available to us. A supertech radiation shield that just blocked k-radiation and red light should be easier to build than shrinking rays. And then there’s magic.
    My problem with Superman is that he fails to learn and fails to prepare, no matter how many times he’s fallen for the same tricks.

  11. I know we’ve moved on to the next page, but one last point. The costume Superman wears was originally made of Kryptonian material. After a retcon, it’s protected because of his invisible, very close aura of invulnerability. So technically he could keep it from getting messed up if it was a skin-tight lead suit. Otherwise, like his cape, it’ll get messed up.

  12. Since Superman is already nigh-unstoppable, and kryptonite is one of his few weaknesses, it follows (by narrative principles) that a lead suit must be a bad idea for normal wear. Consequently, a suit with a layer of lead thick enough to protect him from kryptonite is too big to fit inside his personal force field; he doesn’t wear the suit all the time because it’s effectively flimsier than his tights, and if he wore it when it wasn’t necessary it might not be intact when he found that he did need it.

  13. Missing word alert. *Gina bent over him, but not quite as remembered her.*

    Should be *Gina bent over him, but not quite as I remembered her.*

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