Bogart phone rings. Caller ID shows the area code of Lennox.
Bogart was running. Through the streets, over rooftops, he couldn’t tell exactly where he was was he was moving so fast. And then, off in the distance he heard the bell. “Yes, this is it” he thought, “the time is now”. He stopped, something was following him just a shadow at the corner of his eye…the bell rang again, he turned and the shadow was gone… Where is the bell? He wasn’t getting any closer no matter which direction he went….
Bogart woke up in the Nest, his phone still ringing. He rubbed his eyes, looked at his watch. Noon. Damn. How did he oversleep? Must be all the extra hours toward the case…. Groggily he answered the phone and said, " How did you get this number?"
Virgil, “Bogart, it’s Virgil. I need to talk to you. Pick a place that is hidden away you can get to without being following and bring whoever else you can. Make sure no one follows you or notice you and the others are not in costume!”
Bogart listened carefully, something was in the background while Virgil spoke, but he couldn’t make it out. “Virgil? What’s going on? I still want to know how you got this number, I just installed it yesterday.” Members of the Tomorrow Legion had a bad habit of not answering his questions and he was determined to get the answers. What kind of investigator would he be if not?
“That’s a very specific request, and one I am not likely to be able to pull off, not without a better reason.”
Virgil gave a perplexed look at the number he dialed, “Bogart, this is the number I have always called for you. 203-555-5555, that is your number right? I prefer not to talk on unsecured channels and this is very important. We both know the Legion has been compromised recently for intel and bugging.”
“I was testing you to make sure you were who you said you were. The line is secure, I won’t go into details, but this is a hard line not connected to the Legion grid.”
“I don’t have much time for this call and I am being watched. Beware of smoke is one thing I think I should mention to you because it may be one of Mike’s Lieutenants. The number on the caller id is a Trac Phone I just picked up. Use it to contact me and get a group together to meet, but we need to be very stealthy about this meeting and away from the Legion’s HQ. Perhaps Hazel could turn me invisible and make it easier for me to meet the group at a closer location. We need to meet today.”
“I’ll see who I can muster, but I can’t promise anyone more than myself. As for Hazel and her light refraction tech, it might be too bulky. Meet us at Harry’s pub on the upper east side. Tell the bartender you want the tree nut special and follow his instructions. See you soon.”
Bogart hangs up and thinks to himself, “Virgil, what pickle jar have you gotten yourself into?”
He heads out of the Nest to see who’s around and who will come.
Insert – Bogart gathers a crew to meet Virgil
Virgil makes his way up to the east side and across the street from Harry’s Pub he finds Drew’s Coffee shop. Goes into the establishment to order a cup of tea much to the barrister’s disapproval. Looking around the coffee shop, Virgil finds an empty seat and begins to people watch taking note anyone who notices him. Looking down the alley going behind Harry’s Pub Virgil can see Norm, the local homeless guy, still camped out from the night before.
at the same time: “Y’know what Diane let’s shove off. I told Matt we needed a new coffee pot like a week ago! First he said Deadman would fix it, then he said Cavalcade would fix it, and just the other day he told me he’d have Doc fix it! This is bullshit! What’s a girl have to do to get a decent cup of coffee around here?”
Diane looked at her.
Hazel winked. “Let’s go down to Drew’s. He’s a little quirky but he knows how to make a good cup o’ coffee. Besides, I’m sure he’d throw some water in the pot for your tea. SWEATS ONLY! You’re already rockin’ the flannel.”
Hazel made her way to the vehicle garage and sped off to the coffee shop.
When she got there the smell of roasted beans wafted out and greeted her on the street…like the familiar but unwanted greeting of a local homeless man. Distractedly, Hazel found herself wondering if the guy had a name.
“Oh, hey Verge,” Hazel remarked casually…offhandedly.
Then she did a double-take.
“Uh, Verge? What happened to your face? WAIT A MINUTE!!!!”
Hazel took a deep breath.
“What does Diane take in her tea? Oh fuck it. She’ll have a tall latte with 1 Splenda and 1/2 pouch of nutra-sweet, 1/2 shot of regular espresso and 1/2 shot of decaf and extra foam…I think. And for me…
Double Tall, Nonfat, Half-Caf, Extra Hot Latte with Whipped Cream, Vanilla, Hazelnut, Almond, Raspberry, and Toffee Nut Syrup, Extra Foam, 2 packets of Sweet ‘n’ Low, 1 packet of Sugar, 1/2 pack of Equal, and Caramel Sauce…Um…with low-fat soy milk – half-soy, half-almond."
Thanks. Oh! Where’s the tip jar?"
“So Verge what in the devil happened to your face?!?!”
Raises an eyebrow questioning, “Hi Hazel, good to see you too. Sorry I got to go.”
As he passes Hazel & Diane, Virgil quietly tells Hazel so no one else hears, " Basement across the street. Make sure no one can see either of you."
With that Virgil exist the coffee shop scanning to see if anyone is watching. No one appears to be paying attention so he goes across the street to the alley to find Norm.
“Hi Norm, you look cold. Here’s 20 credits to get yourself some coffee and food, but I need you to get scarce for me.”
Norm says nothing but his toothless smile says it all. Take the money and hobbles away. Virgil watches sadly until Norm is out of sight.
Further down the alley leads to more alleys for loading docks to the local businesses. Virgil makes his way to the dock and door to the basement of Harry’s Pub. A dark and damp smell of not much use comes to the senses. Fumbling through the mostly dark basement, Virgil finds a box to sit on and contemplate. Where’s Bogart?
Virgil sits a for awhile listening in the basement while contemplating. After some time he lumbers up the stairs back to the door to peek out when he sees a large Orangutan glaring at him.
“Uh, Hi…sorry…uh, are you open for business yet? I was told to order the Tree Nut Special. Thanks.”
The Orangutan looks Virgil up and down, seemingly scrutinizing him. Then he looks behind Virgil and scans the area. With a satisfied grunt he turns back toward the bar and motions for Virgil to follow. Once Harry is behind the bar he faces Virgil again, leans in close and tells him:
“Hit the mens’ room. You’ll see where to go from there.”
As Virgil goes into the men’s room Harry presses one of the buttons under the counter. In the men’s room Virgil can see an open doorway that doesn’t look like it would normally be there, which leads into a back room. There is only one other door in this back room, and the mens room entrance slides shut behind him once Virgil walks through.
The door leads into a sparsely furnished room in the adjacent building.
Meanwhile, back at the bar, Harry goes over to the payphone and drips in a special coin. A pre-programmed number is automatically dialed. As soon as the phone on the other end picks up Harry says, “Hey, it’s Harry. Some guy just ordered the Tree Nut Special. He’ll be waiting in the usual place. I’ll take care of his tail.” Without another word he hangs up.
Virgil finds a chair at the table and begins to take in the room. Looking for a phone to look over. Gently drumming his fingers on the table to not damage it.
Deadman walks out of the backdoor of the precinct to a waiting robo-cab. There was some ‘paperwork’ to clean up after the interrogation of the Avant cyborgs (I need to write that up and Let Dave proofread before posting. Been busy).
It’s not easy being a 7’ tall skeletal metal linebacker with a face that can scare the blind. Even a trench-coat and big hat only hides so much. How can he even duck out and buy a new coffee maker without people screaming in terror. Hell, if it wasn’t for pushing a broom around the tomorrow legion what sort of job could he even hold? No wonder the cyborgs had it out for the softies. “No! I can’t start thinking like that. I’m still human on the inside. Well at least a few parts still are. I wish I was human enough for a coffee, or to enjoy a cigarette. Damn filter scrubs all of the nicotine from the air before it hits the O2 extractors.”
The taxi pulls away from the precinct when Deadmans implanted cell-phone rings. It’s a text message from “Rocky”. All the important numbers were recorded under aliases just in case his memory chips got extracted. Not like hiding Bogarts name under a cartoon flying squirrel was deep encryption but kids now a days probably wouldn’t get the reference. The text is little more than an address and to not be noticed.
“Crap. I’m not a squirrel. How does he expect me to sneak in during broad daylight? Take the sewers like a Turtle?”
“Hey Mac. Change in destination. 242 Front street. Parking garage.”
From the garage it was a alleys and scaling a short wall away from the service entrance to Harrys Pub. No bell so he tapped lightly on the steel door which rang like a gong.
Deadman stood there in the reek of a back alley but only noticed the smell as data. The shadows would have hidden a lot of details but the cameras compensated and he noticed the data. A half dozen wi-fi signals bounced around including some joker who thought NSAvan69 was an imaginative server name but he just stored it as data.
A peep-hole like an old-fashioned speak-easy swung open but instead of an eye it was the muzzle of a 12-ga at face level. A deep voice simply says “It’s not delivery time.”
“I’m looking for a tree-nut special” (who comes up with these pass-phrases anyway?)
The steel door swings open and Deadman comes face to face with an orangutan in a vest with a bow-tie holding a shotgun. “Don’t stand there. You’re letting the AC out.”
“A talking ape?”
“Who you calling APE bub! I don’t care who told you to come here. I don’t gotta put up with that from no-one!”
Deadman rocks his hat back exposing his face clearly. “Sorry pal. Been a rough day. I know how you feel. Can you help with the treenut special?”
The Orangutan gestures with a thumb on his foot so he doesn’t need to un-hand the shotgun. “Through the mens-room. Don’t break anything. You do I’ll recycle you into a new toilet.” A twitch of the shotgun made him look serious. Best not to mention the ceramic/Kevlar composite plating.
“Got it. Thanks pal.” And Deadman walks through the door wondering if things have turned into a dystopian version of falling down Alice’s rabbit hole. “If the squirrel smiles and disappears I may just re-boot myself to see if that fixes things.”
Harry the Orangutan had been running his bar for several years now. One of the original members of the Tree Top Network, a loose affiliation of anthropomorphic beings, and the little place served as a meeting joint for most of the local chapter.
Bogart walks in through the front door and nods to Harry. “Hey there bud, thanks for letting us use the joint, should be expecting a few more. I’ll have a juice and tonic and wait for them to meander in.”
Harry places a bowl of shelled nuts on the counter which Bogart indulges in.
Hazel mutters a minor incantation and (hopefully) disappears. She prowls (42% – SUCCESS!!!) and waits for an opportunity to stake out the entrance of the bar down the street. After checking out the people to come and go for a little time determine it is safe to come out of hiding drops for spell and approaches the Orangatang at the front door.
While waiting in the other room, Virgil pulls out all his phones and lays them out on the table….3 in all. One marked Vigilance. One marked Mr. Vee. One with no markings.
Virgil opens the phone (flip phone marked Mr. Vee) and presses a few buttons to bring up a picture that had been taken over 2 weeks ago of something blurry running through his basement taken by a security camera.
Virgil, "Hi Bogart. Thank you for coming and bring everyone. I do have a specific question for you regarding this picture taken in my “basement”. Is this you and why?"
Long pause by Bogart.
Virgil waits while Bogart looks at the picture. Then done waiting as his patience wears off, “the reason I ask this of you, Bogart, is that someone has sold me out to Iron Mike. They have been watching me for a while. You fit into that timeline. So I will ask you a different question, Are you working for Iron Mike?”
Bogart climbs onto the table to look at Virgil eye to eye, tips his hat back and squeaks “What if I was working for Iron Mike? You going to go vigilante on my ass?” Bogart paces back and forth on his hind legs. “I’ve half a mind to cause you of the same! How deep did you go?”
As a aside he also asks Deadman to verify the phones on the table are not bugged.
The Doctor, who entered rather distractedly staring at some documents on his portable reader glances up at rodent and the muscle-head. His eyes move back and forth between the two, listening carefully not only to their words, but to their heartbeats, their inflection, their respiration. His mind is certainly elsewhere, but he’s capable of multi-functioning, he is a genius after all. He eyes the phones laying on the table, taking in the picture of what may, or may not, be Bogart. Before the room can devolve into further bickering he speaks up loudly with a commanding tone cultivated from years of teaching snot nosed punks with merely above average IQs what true genius looks like.
“GENTLEMEN!” He steps forward from the wall, slipping his reader casually into his pocket in a smooth motion. “Accusations back and forth seem like hardly a productive course of action. It seems you both have been engaging in extra-curricular activities. Perhaps you’d each like to catch us up on what you may or may not know? Why don’t you start Virgil, I assume you didn’t simply call us here to lob accusations at Bogart, obviously there is something going on we should all be made aware of?” He steps back and gestures for Virgil to take the floor.
Bogart stops, crosses his arms, and gives Virgil a look of ‘Well? We’re waiting.’ And resisted the urge to tap his foot.
Deadman ‘listens’ for a minute. “The phones aren’t transmitting anything right now. They might be receiving or recording for a burst transmission later. Safest thing would be to crush them. Doctor, do you think we should?”
Virgil had never stopped tapping his fingers on the table. Not realizing his strumming becoming heavier as others spoke until the table began to yield did Virgil realized he needed to reel himself in.
Virgil stared at Bogart almost ignoring what everyone else had to say. “Bogart, it’s a yes or no question.”
Virgil, “I have been made in my research and approached to join or should I say try out for Iron Mike’s operation. Maximal knew where to find me and who I was plus stated they have been watching me for some time. The only person to leave a trace of following me is in this picture. I told Maximal I am not interested at this time.”
Virgil looks away from Bogart to adress the rest of the group, " This phone is TLL’s property, the one next to it is the one that every scumbag in Waingroh has to sell weapons to Mr. Vee and lastly this one I bought this morning to call Bogart."
Virgil pauses again," I have been working as a mechanic at several places the past few months and some nightclubs in Waingroh. I have been taking that money to buy weapons off the streets as Mr. Vee. I know not very original. Storing the caches of weapons in the basement of an abandoned building that I have been living in. These weapons I have been turning in to local police departments outside Waingroh because the local departments are crooked in Waingroh with enough officers on the take. I have been destroying these weapons in the basement as soon as I get them. This is where I got the weapons that had rust on them that came from the salvage operation."
“At night, my abandoned building is within eyesight of Keiromin Iron Works that Iron Mike runs the majority of his operations from and I watch it at night from my roof top. A little over a week ago one container came in guarded by Momentum and Amaya that I found odd. His Lieutenants do not usually accompany cargo into the yard. I have also been watching the local police and inspectors taking bribes from the Iron Works for the salvage operation.”
“My visitor yesterday wants me to start paying commission on my sales. I made contact with a gang calling themselves the “Ice Scorpians” to buy weapons tomorrow. I need the money from them to pay Maximal his take and I was thinking of going to his “try outs” to pay him. I don’t want these weapons on the streets and I need another avenue to get into Iron Mike’s circle. Keiromin Iron Works needs to fall."
Hazel – “Whoa there fella! You’re going to try out for Iron Mike’s crew? Uhhh…there’s gotta be a better way to bring him down. We’re a TEAM. Let’s put our collective heads together and try to figure it out.”
Virgil continues, “The garage I have been working at has a bay assigned to be a chop shop for Iron Mike too. They have not introduced me to it yet.”
“I told Maximal that Vigilance is no more and I am not part of TTL anymore. If I am seen with anyone here my cover is completely blown. This is not saying much since about what remains of my cover. "
“………..I believe this “Fight Club” tryout may be a trap. Then again why not spring it?", Virgil smirks. "It could be interesting or lead us further into the organization. " the smirk disappears into a blank face.
Doc P – As Virgil wraps up his story Theopolus takes in a deep breath. “No offence, Virgil, but you are about as subtle as the proverbial bull in the china shop. My guess is Iron Mike could hire a blind and deaf man to track you down and he probably would be able to get the job done.” He raises a hand, "Not that I’m any better at this cloak and dagger game, I go by ‘Dr. Preposterous’, it is practically the same name I print on the syllabus for my courses. You can “track me down” with an out of date phone book." He turns his attention to Bogart, “That said, my dear furry friend, unless you have a twin you haven’t been telling us about I’m guessing you were actually tailing our friend Virgil here?” He taps at the phone with a picture of Bogart a few times. “That is clearly you, though I’m guessing you had noticed Virgil’s behavior lately and were curious no? I mean, I had noticed that Virgil had been acting a bit squirrely” The Doctor pauses to chuckle at his own pun. “But I honestly hadn’t really been concerned enough to pursue it.”
“The question then, assuming we are all done questioning everyone’s loyalty, is what the hell are we going to do to stop this arms shipment so that Virgil can get back to his life, Bogart can get back to pursuing nut cases, and I can get back to research that is essentially beyond the possible comprehension of anyone in this room?” He looks around the room a few times, “No offense, but I hardly see any of you publishing papers on advanced applications of nanite technology.”
Bogart – “I tailed you, yes, and I can attest that my investigation corroborates your testimony here. As for the photo, it appears I underestimated the frame rate of your cameras. You can’t run an underground operation in which you potentially joining the bad guys and not have someone on the team worry about what’s been going on with you.”
Virgil slowly takes a small can of Red Bull out that has a label “Mega” on it. "Doc P, this is a new drug on the street that supposed gives super powers. I think it would be best to give it to you to analyze. "
Hazel looks up from her stupor only to realize that they have been talking about her favorite energy drink.
“Oh! MEGA! I love that stuff!”
Hazel sniffs when she sees her teammates reactions.
“Uh, that’s bogus. It doesn’t give you superpowers…hahaha…uh, duh?”
Virgil looks at Hazel sternly, “Don’t play with that stuff Hazel, give it to Doc.” Virgil watches Hazel until she hands it over to Doc then continues," We have made some ground in Waingroh fighting Iron Mike’s operations and in return he has been scaling up. I have heard enough times he plans to bring the fight to the Legion on the streets and the only reason it has not happened yet is our location in Kilgore not Waingroh. I would say people of Waingroh are split on our operations against Iron Mike. Iron Mike has been losing face with other organizations because of our interference. He is gearing up to regain face."
Virgil pauses for another moment, “Doc, my return is not of importance compared to what is happening in Waingroh. The streets are getting worse not better even with all we’ve done. In past month two major battles have been fought in Waingroh terrorizing its citizens. There are more gangs with guns now than citizens.” Virgil looks down at the table for a moment to gather thoughts then looks back towards everyone," I need to do something now, I hope everyone here feels the same."
Hazel," Golly…Verge, I never knew you cared."
Hazel’s eyes smolder as she looks at from across the room. This situation was getting precariously close to “dangerous” and she didn’t like it one bit!
Hazel texted Diane a funny pic of pandemonium:
And then she went back to smoldering at Virgil.
Diane – Just for the. Record, I’m not for Anyone trying out for the Legion of Doom!! I’m sure Iron Mike is or has done his homework on us. Like Hazel said “We’re a team”. There has to be a better way. It’s much to dangerous.
Virgil interrupts," I have a sale of weapons planned tomorrow to the Ice Scorpians. I could make the sale and then you guys apprehend them or could Doc make the weapons “disappear” under 24 hours? This would keep the “business” facade going to Maximal & group. Pay him his extortion money for better weapon supply at the underground club. It appears everyone is against this plan and not to take advantage of my predicament."
Hazel coughs, “Hey, I never said I’m against the plan, Verge. I DID say that we’re a team and that if we reach a collective decision that yours is the best course of action – then so be it. But I wouldn’t make such a decision lightly and I certainly wouldn’t make it without the input of the people it could affect.”
She takes a deep breath.
“As you see it, what are the merits FOR your plan? How about against?”
Virgil nods in agreement, “These plans mean nothing to me if more weapons are on the street. It pains me to know already that the money I have spent to get these weapons off the street go back into the machine.” Takes a long breathe, " Although I have been made it is still an opening for more information and finding a way to take down Iron Mike."
Long pause, “The negatives, I’ve been made so the information is spoon fed. False information. Possible trap sprung for the entire team.”
The conversation continues to swirl around the Doctor’s head as he stares at the can he was handed. He sniffs at it suspiciously and avoids the temptation to take a taste, thoughts of nanite delivery through consumption swirl in his head, all the potential health problems that could be addressed. “Another time… another time” he thinks to himself and the incessant buzzing of others around him becomes a more persistent distraction.
He sets the can down on the table and motions with both hands for the talking to cease. “Look, we have several problems here, but three of them are pressing. Iron Mike continues to be a blight on this town, but that is hardly something we’ll be able to resolve in one go. Two, we have this mysterious beverage here which smells like the bodily runoff of a gummi bear orgy, finally we have this weapons shipment.” He pauses a second to allow that list to sink in before continuing. “We are not going to resolve the issues with this beverage today, nor are we going to solve our Iron Mike issue. But, what we can try to do, is take out this weapon shipment.”
He glances to Virgil and Bogart. “You two seem to have the most information on this topic. Why don’t you let us know exactly what you know. Who is selling the weapons, who is buying the weapons, where is the sale going to be going down, how much is the sale happening for. We have more assets at our disposal than just ourselves if we plan this right, but I need to know all the details right now, since time is clearly of the essence.”
Hazel – "Would it make sense, in light of this recent development, for the Legion to publicly decry your traitorous actions and to “play the part” of the jilted ex-lover? This might add more credibility to your initiation bid. It might also allow me to kick your ass on TV, right?"
Bogart, “Doctor, what is the current status of the shrink ray you’ve been working on?”
“I was thinking time delayed nanites that would make the guns useless after a certain amount of time..
It may prove bad for sales once the word gets out if we were to go down this road further. Or once the gang comes looking for me”, Virgil closes laughing at himself.
“No, we want to sell the guns and that means they have to be normal sized guns for the sale. If you tamper with them to make them non-functional Virgil gets made as a snitch and either the Ice Scorpions kill him or Maximal does. Either way it kills the operation if it doesn’t kill Virgil.”
“Sorry but that means putting a few more guns on the streets to get our man inside.”
“Maybe, just maybe, Doc P can come up with a way that the guns become non-functional after a few days. Like I dunno if the front of the chamber started to slowly shrink. It would cause the guns to jam on ammo that was too large. But they HAVE to work as intended the day Virgil sells them.”
Bogart, “Virgil, I see you’ve given this a lot of thought. I’m in on your plan. I can’t do much directly, but I’ll watch you back.”
The Doctor, in turn tries to turn and silence each person talking about a “shrink ray” before finally shouting, rather loudly. “I do not have a fucking shrink ray! So can we please shut up about it!?” He takes in a few deep breathes (during which I am assuming Isaac can interject his comment).
“Look, there is no reason we need to throw Virgil into the lions den unassisted as I said we have multiple options. For example…” He takes a deep breath before launching into his next diatribe without pause. “We could easily spread word to all possible gangs that this arms shipment is going down. I assume if the Avant Guard finds out they will want to interject, if for no other reason that that some alleged supers will be there. Meanwhile I can craft a batch of nanites designed to covertly disable the weaponry, perhaps even making it look like Iron Mike is responsible for the sabotage in an attempt to regain some notoriety among the scum of this city. Virgil can provide us with intel as to where and when this deal is alleged to go down. The more groups who show up at this meet the less likely it is that Virgil is the snitch and the more likely it is that several people within the respective organizations can’t keep their mouths closed. Additionally it provides us a much better odds of disrupting the transaction without raising suspicion if half a dozen groups are rumbling in the streets over the arms shipment, and while the police presence in Waingroh is not always highly felt, my guess is if enough ruckus is caused over this shipment then even the bribes paid out by Iron Mike and others won’t keep the cops away.”
He takes a few deep gasping breaths and turns to look at Deadman, “By the way, who the hell are you?”
Deadman reaches over and removes Hazels phone from her hands. “Kids these days… Hazel. What is it about secret meeting in a secret location that makes you say ‘Gee. I should broadcast our location to Iron Mike every third sentence.’? Smarten up or stay at the base.”
Deadman throws hazels phone over with the other 3 on the table. “Lets do this quickly just in case they DON’T already know Virgil is meeting with us. Virg, It’s your neck in the noose if this goes wrong. When and where are you going to make the weapon drop? How can we cover you without being seen? When and where do you make the payoff to Maximal? How can we cover you then? How do you stay in touch when you are on the inside? If you can’t answer those questions then this isn’t a plan.”
“Okay, down to business. Screw the under-cover thing. Verge isn’t suited to it in my opinion. This, however, is an incredible opportunity to put the Janitor’s plan to work. We set a trap for the Maxi-Pad and before Iron Mick is the wiser – we’ve down yet ANOTHER of his LEFTENENTS. And, weapon trafficking charges should be enough to keep him locked up a while and keep Iron Mick’s resources tied up with a legal battle, right? You guys DID play the legal card on the investigation last time right? And the investigation was already tied to the salvage and Kieromin Iron Works, right? This is the perfect opportunity. Verge isn’t going to be in any more danger than he already is AND we get to tag another lieutenant.”
Continued into Game 12