I once again must apologize for being away for so long. I guess I'm just lazy and I don't get in the mood often enough. But I guess a little routine wouldn't kill me.
Once again, I'm not writing any more disclaimers. They're pointless, and besides, DC can't sue us.
This chapter was a little knarly for me to get through, and (to me) not up to scratch. But I wanted to get over the writers block so I can get to the jucier parts of the story. I promise there'll be more action and intrigue next chapter.
Oh, and top marks go to anyone who can find the action movie homage.
Chapter 3: Overachiever
Present Day, Dayton Industries, Sierra Nevada Compound, California
"One O'Clock in the mornin' and aaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllssssssssssss weeeeeeeelllllllllll!" Frances called out in an obnoxious, nasaly tone.
Trent rubbed his hand over his face in irritation. "Yes, Frances. I know. And all will be well in an hour. And tomorrow. And the next day. And a month from now. SO SHUT THE HELL UP!" he roared, throwing his empty Starbucks cup at his uniformed partner from his chair.
Frances swiftly ducked as his cellphone received another text.
DADA DO DA, DADA DO DA, DADA DO DO DAAAA!
"AND CHANGE THAT BLOODY RINGTONE! OR SO HELP ME, I'LL PUT THAT THING SO FAR UP..."
Frances rolled his eyes, shut the door in his co-worker's purplish-beetroot face and whistled his way through his night watch. Trevor's obscenities faded into the monotonous, blank hallways, offices and minor laboratories that made up the ground floor of Dayton Industries. God, this was boring enough to make even paint drying fun to watch. He didn't know why Trent never saw any humour in life. It makes you live longer.
He briefly took a peek in the small cramped kitchen, where the rest of his co-workers were smoking, laughing and gambling away their life's savings.
"Hey, Frances!" one of them called out. "How 'bout a game of Blackjack?"
Frances smiled knowingly. "No thanks. I'm asthmatic, and I'd prefer to be able to feed my family." Truth was, they were pros, and he just plain sucked.
"Suit yourself." The others laughed good naturedly and continued.
A minute later down the narrow hallway, Frances wished that he had joined them. The boredom was simply unbearable. Time to irritate his favourite stressball with his trademark drawl...
"One-Fifteen in the mornin' and aaaaaaa..."
His voice trailed off into a squeak. Trent was in his chair, but his face was contorted into a horrified grimace, fresh blood dripping from the side of the mouth, his veined head having been completely twisted around like a bottlecap to face his frightened co-worker.
Frances wanted to scream, but all the air seemed to have left his lungs, suffocating him, dizzying him.
He stumbled back towards the kitchen, gasping for air, his shoes slipping and sliding on the spotless marble floor, racing through the claustrophobic hallway to tell his fri...
Frances stood in the doorway of the kitchen, eyes bulging at the horror laid out before him.
Scattered around the round table were what was left of his friends. One look at one of his freshly eviscerated mates had him rooted to the spot, unable to breathe or think, mesmerised. This couldn't be real...
DADA DO DA DADA DO DA DADA DO DO DAAAA!
He turned around...
and his forehead gently connected with the cold steel of a double barreled shotgun.
"Silence your cellphone." Slade said.
Slade pressed a button on his mask near his ear, the fresh blood still trickling down the walls.
"Deathstroke to Mockingbird."
"Mockingbird here. I see you have efficiently removed the opposition." Luthor had insisted on codenames and a voice distortion device in the communication systems. Smart man.
"Opposition? This place is a barrel, and they were the fish."
"Poetic. Do you insult every enemy you defeat so disparagingly?"
"I have no time for losers, Mockingbird. And unless you have anything important to say, I suggest you keep the comm link silent."
19 years ago, Camp Washington Military Base
Lieutenant William "Bill" Walsh eyed his target carefully from along the length of his rifle, and then fired. Within a second the bullet raced across the flat grassy plain to rip through the circular cardboard target board 150 metres away.
Bill nodded in satisfaction through his binoculars. A perfect bulls-eye.
Lieutenant Colonel Slade Wilson snorted behind Bill. "That's no challenge! Want to see something better?"
Bill lowered his rifle, growling under his breath. "Yeah. I'd like you to piss off."
Slade ignored him. "The SEALs are all about pushing your limits. Thinking outside the square. But all I see you doing day after day during rifle practice is the same old bull's-eye crap. Everyone here can do it."
Bill fumed. "I don't need you to tell me what I should be doing!"
Slade held up his hands. "No need to get angry. I'm just trying to help you get better. I'll show you what I mean."
Slade went over to the rifle range controls and set up a new target far away past all the others, whistling whimsically as he did so. Bill needed his binoculars just to see it clearly.
Bill put down the binoculars. "You aren't serious."
"No." Slade replied. "I'm dead serious."
"But that target's half a mile away!"
Slade raised an eyebrow. "And your point is…?"
"Never mind. Let's see you screw this up." Bill said, standing to the side to watch, a taut smile on his face. Slade had always been a cocky bastard who thought too highly about his own abilities and deriding others who didn't live up to his standards. Bill had put up with Slade's infuriating and condescending remarks far too many times to ever reconcile with him. But this time, he wanted to see Slade humiliate himself because of his over inflated ego.
Slade picked up his rifle and fired eight bullets in quick succession at the distant target, barely even aiming by the looks of things. He then lowered his rifle, a wide grin plastered across his face.
What an idiot, Bill thought. He just wasted all that ammo to hit a bulls-eye.
He lifted up his binoculars, expecting the target to either be completely hole-free, or at best, be full of holes that were just scattered randomly all over it.
What he saw made his mouth gape open dumbly.
Slade had not just hit a perfect bulls-eye: he had also shot out two holes to the upper left and upper right of it. The remaining five holes smoked in a half circle below the bulls-eye.
In other words, Slade had made a smiley face.
Bill threw down his rifle angrily, causing it to fire and nearly hit a fellow practicing sharpshooter in the leg. "FUCK YOU!"
Slade just burst out laughing. "Thinking outside the square, Bill. Thinking outside the square."
A battered and bruised SEAL flew over Slade and landed hard on the mat.
Slade was in the gym now surrounded by three SEALs in triangular formation for hand to hand combat practice. All of them were certified black belts in Karate and trained to kill. But Slade was in a class of his own. He was a black belt too, but he was also a master of Tae Kwon Do, Aikido and Judo.
But his talents didn't end there. He was an expert in military hardware, software and tactics. He had a talent for turning anything, however trivial, into a lethal weapon. He was familiar with all military grade weaponry and tools, could endure torture both physical and mental and had shaped his body to peak physical condition. He had wasted no time in becoming familiar with everything the military had offered him, and more.
The two SEALs in front of him attacked, the left one aiming a kick and the other drawing a punch. The one behind Slade rushed to tackle him to the ground after taking the hits.
But Slade ducked to avoid the punches, then blocked the other man's kick by grabbing his leg with both hands, and then used the momentum to propel his assailant toward the man behind him who crashed into the man in half-tackle. Slade then swept his leg across the puncher's legs, tripping him up, then swiftly twirled around again to stamp his foot onto the puncher's chest, effectively winding him, spittle spraying from his mouth.
The audience in the gym benches broke out in applause at such a fine display of martial prowess, chanting Slade's name like a war cry.
"SLADE! SLADE! SLADE! SLADE!"
Slade coolly stepped off his wheezing victim and punched a fist in the air, acknowledging the crowd.
Suddenly, the SEAL on the ground recovered and punched Slade between the shoulders, amidst the boos of the crowd. Slade retaliated by pretending to fall down, but then within a split second, he spun around under the SEAL's punches and struck him in the stomach, leaving him reeling.
But the SEAL, it seemed, didn't know when to give up. He simply cricked his neck and once again got back into a fighting stance.
"Bill, cut it out. You're exhausted." Slade said sharply.
Slade was right. The exercise had gone on for over half an hour, and William Walsh had several nasty bruises across his face and arms, including a black eye. Slade had bruises as well, but fewer of them, and still felt fresh. Bill, on the other hand, looked ready to pass out.
But he was stubborn, motioning him silently to keep fighting, every fibre of his being filled with hate.
Slade tried once more to reason with him. "For God's sake, Bill, why do this to yourself? Getting beaten to a pulp won't make you any better."
Slade chose the wrong words. Bill raged toward him like a bull, forgoing any rational technique. Hatred coursed through his veins, and all he could think about was killing him.
So Slade did the only thing he could do to stop Bill's crazed attack: he leaned backwards slightly, then, when he was close enough, quickly leaned forward and punched Bill squarely in the forehead, instantly incapacitating him, blood spurting from his nose.
Several men from the benches came down, along with a medic, to get Bill to the medical wing, while others helped up the others that had fallen to Slade.
Wintergreen approached Slade from the benches. "You couldn't help showing off, could you?"
Slade shrugged. "Bill keeps trying me, old friend. I try to help, but all he does is shoot me down."
"I'm suprised you didn't go harder on them this time. Usually they're limp out with broken wrists and torn ligaments."
"I'm not that hard on them."
"I've got the infirmary photos to prove it."
As Wintergreen and Slade left, Bill watched them through heavily bruised and bloodshot eyes, his mouth contorted into a blood-smeared snarl.
Yep, practice fights in the special forces can get absolutely brutal. I watched a Doco on the New Zealand SAS, and they don't hold back at all.
Bill is another character you'll be seeing more of in future. Anyone who's read the comics will recognize him. Speaking of which, I managed to get my hands on some of the old "New Teen Titans" comics. Writers back then knew how to make good stories, and I'm understanding more and more why the comic book fans don't like the animated series as much, or the current comics. I'm kind of trying to get my stories to be in between the two in style.
For good measure, I also got the Faces of Evil: Deathstroke one-shot which partly inspired me to write this story. It's not a bad story, it went through everything somewhat logically, though it could have been better. Today's comic book writers generally deliver quantity over quality these days. It's a crying shame. Except Geoff Johns. He's good.
Oh, and the reference? For those who didn't get it, it was the firing range scene which is a nod to Lethal Weapon. Real funny and recommended viewing for octane addicted rednecks.
Until next time. Jeez, I'm setting up alotta people to die very soon...