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A Better Mousetrap (IC) [Closed]


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Frank "The Hitter" Tonifanni crushed another walnut. He sat in his reserved booth at La Pasta Montagna, one of several restaurants he owned (and laundered money through) in the greater Freedom City metropolitan area. For twenty minutes, he'd leaned back against the cushions, oblivious to the wrinkles in his $15,000 suit, oblivious to everone and everything around him. His clenched fists held a nutcracker in one hand, and his own driver's license in the other. In twenty minutes, he'd crushed three bowls worth of walnuts. The waiters knew better than to let him go long without a refill, despite the fact that he hadn't eaten a single one.

His eyes didn't move until he spotted a tuft of flame-red hair out of the corner of his eye. "You're late."

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The red-haired gentleman chuckled as he slid into the booth, across from Tonifanni, and set down his glass. "Heh. You said 8:30. It's 8:27 and..." he pulled his sleeve up to check his watch. "...13 seconds." Listening to his thick Irish accent, Tonifanni couldn't help but think of Colin Farrell. "So either this fellow has you so stressed out that you've lost all concept of time, or you need to buy a watch that works. I hope it's the former, because if you can't even afford a working timepiece, I guarantee you can't afford me." He took a sip of his beer. "Or is this just some form of Italian humor that doesn't translate?"

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Tonifanni tossed his license across the table as he cracked another nut. The red-haired man picked it up, considered it for a moment, then flung it back to Tonifanni. The face in the picture was obscured by an opaque black handprint. The Irishman leaned back against the booth cushions. "These have been showing up all over the place. Slick job getting the handprint under the laminate. Top-notch. The man knows how to make a statement."

"And now I want to make a statement. This pezzo di merda has been a thorn in my side for weeks. He comes and goes as he pleases, torching my merchandise and putting my boys in the hospital. If the organization has a leak, we can't find it, so for all we know the strunz is psychic. My people are useless, and the other families are starting to smell the blood in the water. I need the best. They say you've got a thing for whackin' capes." *crack* Another walnut crumbled. "You pull this off, and I'll have five hundred grand wired to your account by the end of the business day."

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The Irishman laughed as he wiped a stray drop of beer from his chin. "Five hunnerd thousand? I don't get out of bed for less than a million dollars. I've not wasted your time, Mr. Tonifanni. Dunnae waste mine."

Tonifanni squinted at the Irishman, then grinned and pushed a briefcase along the ground under the table with his foot. "$250,000 in hundreds. Petty cash. Receipt in the side pocket has the number of an account with $2.5 million. When you bring me proof that this clown is outta my hair, I'll transfer another two and a half million. Do we have a deal, Mr. O'Ryan?"

O'Ryan knew better than to open the suitcase in the restaurant, and this detail was not lost on Tonifanni. Instead, he just shook the crimelord's and firmly. "Call me 'Jack.' Everything appears to be in order on your end. I've already got an idea of how this will play out. These costumed freaks are tough, but oh so predictable. If you think you've got a mole in your operation, than that's something we should turn around and use to our advantage."

After O'Ryan finished outlining his plan to the crimelord, he stood up and finished his beer with one last gulp. "Pleasure doin' business with ye."

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The Black Hand loathed every second he spent as "Little Tony" Brasco, the up-and-coming Mafioso out of Miami who'd been making a name for himself in the Tonifanni crime family over the last few weeks. A Mafioso who hadn't existed until The Black Hand had created him. Tony's gelled hair, spray tan, and gaudy gold chains peeking out of the forest of fake chest hair revealed by his open-collared shirts offended The Black Hand's sense of style almost as much as his actions (or rather, the illusion of his actions) offended his sense of ethics. But Tony could learn more about the Tonifanni's operations by having a beer with "the boys" (or rather, pretending to) than The Black Hand could figure out after beating the truth out of a dozen street pushers and junkie muggers. So he paid the protection money he was supposed to be collecting out of his own (admittedly incredibly deep) pocket, gave beatings that were far less brutal than they appeared, and committed to memory every name, face, and address he encountered.

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The gossip at the wiseguy bar last night included a heist downtown for the following evening. The Hitter had his eye on some gems at a store near the top of a high-rise office building in the financial district downtown, and he didn't want to pay retail. Apparently he was even importing some outside help for the job, though the thugs couldn't agree on whether this mysterious second-story man was French or Belgian.

The Black Hand had to be careful about deciding which information to use and which tidbits to let slide through his fingers. But if the stones were half as valuable as the capos at the bar made them out to be, their resale would add substantially to the Tonifanni war chest, potentially offsetting a lot of the damage The Black Hand had managed to inflict on their operation. Simply put, this was too good a lead to pass up.

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The scene unfolding on the roof of the office building was not quite what The Black Hand expected. Sure, there was a group of hoods on the roof. Five of them. Some he recognized, but none who'd run afoul of him in his "evening attire" yet. But he didn't see any tools, or other signs that they'd scaled the building or rappelled from another one. In fact, the roof entrance was slightly ajar. A couple of the thugs did their best to pretend they were trying to break in. But their clumsy pantomime was transparent at best. [bg=#000000]I should have checked to see if The Hitter owns this building. Is it an inside job? Some sort of insurance scam?[/bg] And the thugs were all wearing earpieces. [bg=#000000]Who are they talking to?[/bg]

Then he spotted the tarp. It concealed something about a meter high, narrow at the top and flared at the base. A couple of the thugs who weren't on door-duty made sure not to stray more than a pace away from it. [bg=#000000]What IS that? Tools? Loot they've already pulled from the jewelers?[/bg]

Then the tarped bundle moved. One of the thugs knelt down and slapped the back of his hand across the top of the bundle. [bg=#000000]Hostages![/bg] The Black Hand leapt into action without another thought.

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The Black Hand made as much noise as a shadow as he glided over the intervening buildings, landing at the very edge of the roof. He let his cape go slack at the last moment, sending him plummeting down the side of the building. He caught the edge of the roof with his fingers. Then he reached behind his back to a small device mounted on his belt and flipped a switch in the center. The thugs on the roof all looked up and grabbed their heads as their earpieces suddenly filled with static. They gave each other quizzical glances, but didn't have time for any other interactions before The Black Hand lobbed a hand grenade into their midst. He pushed down with all of his strength, launching himself upward onto the roof. He landed in a roll, cupping his ears just as the grenade went off.

One of the thugs guarding the bundle had the presence of mind to hit the ground, throwing his arms up over his head. The rest of them just stared, horrified at the grenade as it exploded in a sudden burst of light and sound. The thugs staggered away, clutching at their eyes and ears.

Through the scope on his rifle, Orion saw the grenade clatter across the rooftop. He was too far away to hear it, but he turned away just in time to avoid being blinded by the flash. He grinned beneath his gas mask as he turned back to the rooftop he'd selected for his ambush. Good. He's here. And he's everything I hoped he'd be.

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With his massive cape billowing around him, The Black Hand didn't seem to "walk" across the rooftop so much as "float." Most of the thugs, blind, deaf, and totally cut off from the world outside their own minds, pulled out their pistols and started firing randomly into the air. The Black Hand wanted to end their display of panic before they managed to trip over their own feet into hurting someone. But their more alert friend took priority. The Black Hand recognized him as Alberto "Slim" Barzini, another up-and-coming Tonifanni enforcer. He'd bought some of Alberto's drinks the previous evening. Slim had just yanked the tarp away, revealing a family of three. A husband, a wife, and a daughter, all bound and gagged, sitting back-to-back on the floor. Tears and sweat ran down their faces as they frantically looked around. The barrell of Slim's 9mm pistol rested against the crown of the girl's head. She couldn't have been more than nine years old.

The Black Hand didn't recognize any of the other men. One of them shook his head, rubbed his eyes, and blinked a few times. His eyes began to focus again. He leveled his pistol at The Black Hand.

Slim Barzini sneered at The Black Hand and thumbed the hammer back on his weapon. "On yer knees, witcher hands behind your head, or I paint the roof with her brain."

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The Black Hand kept his head still, the haunting reflective gaze of his crimson goggles apparently transfixed on Slim Barzini. Behind his mask, his eyes darted back and forth between Slim and his comrade. [bg=#000000]I could try to knock that gun out of Slim's hand, but if that psychopath even sees my arm twitch, he'll make good on his threat. He's holding all the cards...which means it's time for me to start bluffing.[/bg] He struggled to keep his voice flat and even while his heart pounded against the inside of his skull. The voice modulator in his mask helped.

[bg=#000000]"Alberto Barzini. Age thirty-two. Three fifty-two East Wrightson Boulevard, apartment number thirty-seven. Blood type B-positive. You have a wife, two kids, a German Shepherd named 'Fonzie,' and a girlfriend you think your wife doesn't know about. She does."[/bg] Slim's face grew noticeably more pale.

[bg=#000000]"I don't mind too much when scum like you point guns at me. It's part of what I signed up for when I put on the mask. Sure, I'll probably feed you your own pistol before you get a shot off. But I don't mind too much. The child is another story. Shoot at me, and I'll be satisfied with dropping you off at the hospital. Shoot the girl, and I'll drop you off this roof. Then I'll stop by apartment number thirty-seven."[/bg] The Black Hand took a step forward with each sentence. [bg=#000000]"Then Karen's trailer in the South Side."[/bg]

Slim's lip quivered. The gun began to shake in his hand. "Stay back, asshole, I'm warnin' you..."

[bg=#000000]"And then I'll pay a visit to your parents house in Greenbank."[/bg] The Black Hand kept moving forward, one step at a time. [bg=#000000]"You pull that trigger, and I'll delete the Barzini name from the phonebook."[/bg] He chuckled darkly. [bg=#000000]"And your little dog, too."[/bg] He couldn't resist.

The Black Hand turned his head slightly toward the other man. Not enough to look him in the eye, but enough to acknowledge him. [bg=#000000]"I don't know who you are yet. And after a fall from this height...well, you can't exactly take fingerprints off a spilled can of beef stew. But your drivers license will survive the fall. A name and an address is all I need to get started."[/bg]

Their eyes wide as hubcaps, the two wiseguys threw their pistols to the ground and bolted for the roof entrance, scrambling down the stairs as fast as their legs would carry them, shoving and elbowing each other out of the way as they ran.

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When the thugs threw down their weapons and fled the scene, The Black Hand relaxed his shoulders and breathed a sigh of relief. That's when the bullet from Orion's sniper rifle slammed into his back, knocking him down to the floor. The lead slug tore through the layers of kevlar, embedding itself halfway through the solid steel plate inserted between them and halfway through The Black Hand's flesh.

[bg=#000000]Such a damned fool.[/bg] The Black Hand hit the ground at a roll, pushing off against his good shoulder, the one that didn't have a bullet lodged in it. The momentum carried him back to his feet. [bg=#000000]The Hitter figured out he's got a leak, so he played this one close to the vest. And you followed the cheese right into the trap.[/bg] Above him, bullets whizzed by as the remaining thugs still fired their weapons blindly at every sound they thought they heard and every shadow they thought they saw. The Black Hand gritted his teeth under his mask. [bg=#000000]Have to take those idiots down, hard and fast, before one of those bullets finds its way to a hostage.[/bg]

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As he turned and charged the blinded thugs, The Black Hand reached into his utility belt for a capsule and hurled it to the ground behind him in one fluid motion. The pellet shattered against the roof near the hostages, and the reaction between the air and the chemicals within quickly filled the entire area in a thick, acrid jet-black smoke. As The Black Hand ran, the smoke lapped at his heels, seeming to merge with his massive cape as it enshrouded him. When he overtook the thugs, so did the cloud. Clever boy, Orion mused to himself as he lost track of his target. I hoped he'd make me work for it.

The Black Hand was not gentle. Wrists and elbows bent in ways Nature never intended. Shoulder bones were popped from their sockets. Ribs and jaws splintered under vicious blows aimed at just the right angles. Within a few seconds, all three remaining gunmen lay upon the roof, wheezing and groaning, their weapons kicked out of reach.

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Once he'd dispatched the thugs and relieved them of the weapons they used so recklessly, The Black Hand ran back the way he came, mentally retracing his steps through the artificial fog. [bg=#000000]Have to get them out of here quickly. Our cover won't last but a minute...[/bg] He knelt down next to them, shielding their bodies from the sniper's probable direction with his own. He pulled a utility knife from his belt and sawed through the nylon ropes and duct tape that bound the family. He whispered to them as he cut, his voice still deep and gravelly thanks to the machine inside his mask. [bg=#000000]"As soon as you're loose, run for the door to your left. Stay low. Hold hands. Take the stairs and make sure you exit on the opposite side of the building, out of the sniper's line of fire. Don't stop moving until you find help. Go."[/bg] He slapped the father between his shoulder blades.

Orion leaned back slightly, letting his eyes go out of focus as he considered the entire rooftop. A lot of places to hide in that cloud. But not many places where he could help the bystanders. Superheroes are so predictable. Orion laughed to himself, did a few mental calculations, then squezed the trigger on his rifle.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Deep within the smoke cloud, The Black Hand spun backward just in time to take the second rifle slug in his chest. This time, the bullet found a space between the trauma plates, shredding the padded layers of Kevlar and muscle with equal ease before crashing into his rib. The Black Hand gasped, the wind knocked out of him, as the impact hurled him up off his feet. He felt his teeth rattle as his back slammed into the roof. [bg=#000000]...How...how did he make that shot...?[/bg]

He gritted his teeth, sucked in a breath, and rolled along the floor, toward the edge of the smoke cloud and the roof. He grunted as his broken rib popped apart. Explosions of agony ripped through his midsection. He grasped outward blindly until he felt the edge of the roof, then used it to drag himself forward.

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The Black Hand pulled his binoculars out from the back of his utility belt, under his cape. His gaze combed the skyline for any sign of his mysterious assailant. [bg=#000000]Come out, come out, wherever you are...[/bg]

Orion didn't know whether or not his second shot had connected, but he was almost certain of his deduction regarding the target's location. However, he also realized that, if The Black Hand had survived, he wouldn't be stupid enough to stay in one place for long. So he nudged his rifle imperceptibly from left to right, then right to left, back and forth, scanning the periphery of the smoke cloud through his scope. There! He spotted The Black Hand's head. Looking for me? Too bad I found you first. He grinned as he aimed a shot that would send a round straight through the lens of his target's binoculars, through his eye and into his brain. Heh. This'll be one for the books.

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Orion chuckled to himself as he set up his shot. He aimed carefully, did some mental calculations to compensate for wind resistance, blinked his eyes...and suddenly, his target wasn't there anymore. What the hell...? He scanned the rooftop frantically, but saw no sign of The Black Hand. He slipped his finger out of the trigger guard, letting go of his rifle and pushing himself up to a kneeling position. As he looked up from the scope, his entire field of vision filled with black, an instant before the heavy boot slammed into his face, knocking him onto his back.

The Black Hand had spotted a tiny reflection of light off the scope of Orion's rifle, and leapt up off the roof in the space between eyeblinks. He grabbed the edges of his cape and spread it out behind him, catching an updraft and soaring through the air. As he reached the window, he pulled down on his cape, and it billowed behind him as he crashed feet-first into Orion. He pushed off from the sniper's face, tumbling into the empty office space to square off against his attacker.

[bg=#000000]"Whatever The Hitter paid you, it wasn't enough."[/bg]

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Orion laughed heartily as he rolled along the ground away from The Black Hand, pulling out a pair of Glock 22 .40 caliber pistols from the many holsters strapped to his body. "I was worried that might be the case. Yew're borin' me tae tears on the roof. But now wee're havin' some fun. Food always tastes better if you can play with it first." Still on his back, he squeezed the triggers, emptying both clips toward The Black Hand (having modified all his pistols for automatic fire). The Black Hand darted up, down, left, and right, moving in seemingly random directions at random intervals. His movements largely obscured by his massive cape, Orion couldn't tell if any of his shots had connected or not. Orion kicked his legs out and launched himself to his feet while his foe was distracted.

The Black Hand glared at Orion from behind the crimson lenses of his goggles as he ducked and twisted out of the way of the incoming barrage. [bg=#000000]"Happy to oblige."[/bg] One round bit a chunk out of his armor, but he managed to turn in time to make sure it was deflected. He smiled behind his mask as each movement not only dodged a bullet, but brought him closer to his foe. [bg=#000000]"But I've indulged you long enough. And I've revised my assessment. Whatever Tonifanni paid you, it was too much."[/bg]

When the barrels of Orion's pistols slid backward, exposing the empty chambers, The Black Hand pounced.

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The Black Hand's fist, reinforced with the lead shot sewn into his leather gloves, shot straight out from under his cape, directly toward Orion's face. Orion never saw it coming. The empty pistols fell from his hands as his nose cracked under the force of the blow. Behind his gas mask, blood streamed out his nostrils and down into his mouth. His vision blurred, as The Black Hand pressed on with his relentless assault. He followed up with a flurry of blows. His left fist smashed into the side of Orion's jaw, followed quickly by his left elbow. This pushed Orion slightly down and forward. The Black Hand grabbed a fistful of Orion's flaming red hair and pulled him down along the same path of momentum, which he broke with a series of savage knee-strikes to Orion's midsection. The beating concluded with a right uppercut, which The Black Hand put his entire 210 lbs. behind, pushing up from his foot. Orion flew up a couple inches off his feet and smashed into the wall behind him, leaving cracks in the drywall. The devastating uppercut tore the straps of Orion's gas mask, and it thudded down to the carpet a second before he did.

The Black Hand growled beneath his mask. [bg=#000000]"Having fun yet?"[/bg]

He grimly regarded the drops of Orion's blood that slid off the knuckles of his gloves, unclenching his fists. [bg=#000000]I enjoyed that too much.[/bg] Then, as the adrenaline rush began to ebb, he regarded the two rifle slugs embedded in his own flesh, the sources of the twin bolts of white-hot he felt stabbing his flesh. [bg=#000000]On second thought, I earned this one. And so did he.[/bg]

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The Black Hand's shoulders sagged as he clutched the bullet hole above his broken rib. Glossy crimson rivulets ran through the cracks between his fingers. Orion coughed and wiped the blood from his nose. He wiggled his tongue against his cheek, then reached into his mouth and pulled a loose tooth free, spitting it out onto the carpet. The glob of phlegm was almost entirely composed of Orion's blood. He staggered to his feet, bracing himself against the cracked wall. "Not to worry, Lad. I'm just getting my second wind."

The Black Hand lunged at him again, but his limbs felt heavy under the encroaching pain and fatigue. Orion, on the other hand, seemed invigorated by their struggle. He blocked and side-stepped The Black Hand's strikes with apparent ease. He spun around suddenly on his heels, escaping the path of The Black Hand's kick. He slid another pair of pistols out of the holsters on the back of his belt in a single fluid motion as he twirled, raised them with the grace of a ballet dancer, and fired.

At least half a dozen bullets tore into The Black Hand, one after another, each one knocking him back another step until the volley finally launched him out the open window, plummeting to the street below.

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Orion darted over to the window, glancing up, down, and all around, but saw no sign of his quarry. Damn. Can't collect the balance on this one without proof. He sighed, relaxed his muscles, and set about cleaning up after himself. Quickly but methodically, he retrieved his fallen weapons, bagged his stray shell casings, dismantled the sniper rifle and packed it up into a suitcase. Then he took out a can of ammonia and sprayed down all the blood spatters, including those belonging to his foe. Don't want the cops tracking you down before I do. There was, of course, the blood on the other rooftop, but without a method of aerial conveyance similar to that of his quarry, he'd never make it over there before it was swarming with the police the escaped hostages were no doubt raining down up on it at that very moment.

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The Black Hand had finally slipped into unconsciousness before the last bullet had knocked him out the window. The freezing night air slapped him in the face as he fell, shocking him awake a few moments later. He struggled to gain a grip on his cape as he tumbled head over feet toward the pavement below. Once it filled with air like a parachute, he yanked on it to divert the path of his flight around to the opposite side of the building from Orion's sniper-nest, removing himself from the line of fire. Several times in rapid succession, he'd manage to spread it wide, slowing or even temporarily halting his fall, only to lose his grip and fall again. He was mid-fall when his outstretched leg slammed against the edge of a third-story rooftop, snapping his femur in half. He bounced against the side of the building a few more times as he slid down the face, into an open dumpster.

Blackness creeped in again at the edges of his vision. With a Herculean effort, he reached down, braced his leg against the inner wall of the dumpster, and pushed his own thighbone back into place. The sudden stabbing pain jolted him back to wide-eyed alertness. He reached down to one of the small electronic devices on his belt and pressed a button. The he reached up to the top edge of the dumpster with both hands and slowly, agonizingly pulled himself up and over. As he thudded to the pavement below, grunting, he made sure to fall on his "good" leg.

The armored behemoth which blurred the line between "car" and "tank," and served as The Black Hand's primary mode of transportation, rumbled into the alley. He crawled and pulled himself into the drivers seat. A steel box painted white and red fell from one of several compartments with the press of a button. He spilled the contents of the first-aid kit onto the passenger seat, fumbled for one of the syringes, and stabbed himself in the chest, injecting a shot of pure adrenaline into his own heart. After gasping and slamming his head against the seat, he quickly followed up with some painkillers. Then he typed the first few letters of a name into his on-board GPS system, which brought up the full name and address he sought. The computer began flashing maps and offering verbal prompts as he drove away.

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Within the next couple of minutes, as Orion predicted, the building where he'd ambushed The Black Hand was brimming with police. The rooftop was buzzing with activity as various officers snapped photographs, collected fallen firearms and stray shell casings, and cuffed unconscious mob enforcers to stretchers. The two plainclothes detectives on the scene shook their heads in befuddlement as they sipped their coffee. "We got hostages, but no demands. Shots fired, but no corpses. A heist, with no signs of forced entry and no missing merchandise. Known low-level mafiosos, but no big fish calling the shots. We even got a cameo from The Hand, but no 'Z' carved into the wall. What the hell happened here?"

"An ambush." Detective Lieutenant Neal Englehart turned to his colleagues after studying the scene intently. "You said it yourself. These men had no reason to be up here. The hostages said they were waiting for something. Probably the same 'something' that put most of them in the hospital. And Frank Tonifanni owns this building through a holding company. Word on the street is, The Black Hand has been giving The Hitter an ulcer. Looks like he finally turned the tables."

The other detectives each raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Sounds pretty thin, Neal."

Englehart caught something out of the corner of his eye. "If either of your flabby donut-pounding asses has a better theory, I'm all ears." He walked over to a spot on the ground near the roof entrance and knelt down. He pulled a pair of rubber gloves out of his pocket and stretched them over his hands, then swabbed at a tiny red drop on the ground with a cotton swab. The swab turned red. He rose to his feet and motioned for one of the crime scene technicians to come over. "Make sure this gets tested against all the perps and hostages first. And when it doesn't match any of them, submit it for comparison to all the major databases, and put it in the Black Hand file. Bastard finally dropped some bread crumbs."

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Jack O'Ryan lay upon silk sheets in a massive four-post canopy bed, glowing with a golden aura. His nose cracked, bent, and straightened back into its proper shape. His split, swelled lip shrank and faded back to its usual color. He rubbed his jaw, probing the inner edge of his newly-regenerated tooth with his tongue. After a few seconds, the golden aura subsided, and the woman standing to his side lowered her arms. Long, black hair cascaded down her back in a waterfall of curls, in stark contrast to the white chiton draped over her shoulder.

Orion rose to a sitting position, turned, and rested his feet upon the floor. He rubbed his jaw. "Good as new, Love."

The smiling man in the jester outfit, with the unfocused, far-away look in his eyes, sat backwards on his chair, leaning his elbows and chin on the back rest as he teetered back and forth on the legs. "I'd hope so. Would hate to think she'd mess that spell up after having 3,000 years to practice."

Medea crossed her arms in front of her. "Indeed. But nothing in this world is free, especially magic."

Orion nodded and waved his hand vaguely in Medea's direction. "Right, right." He rose to his feet, and without bothering to get dressed beyond the underwear he already wore, stepped into the next room and sat down at a computer. He typed furiously for a few moments. "There. As agreed, 10% of the fee into Wildcard's account, for tipping the scales in my favor, 10% to Medea for patching me up after the fact, and 10% to The League, as per usual. That's $150,000 American each."

The holographic projector, which resembled nothing so much as a Roomba, rolled along the carpet and came to a rest adjacent to Orion, creating the illusion that the translucent 3-D image of a massive gorilla shambled across the room. At another Crime League safehouse, Doctor Simian hunched over and leaned on his knuckles. "Which, when subtracted from the $1.5 million Tonifanni paid you in advance, leaves you with one million and fifty-thousand dollars. Not counting, of course, the extra million dollars you withheld from the gross sum."

Orion wheeled his chair around to face the projection, leaning back on one armrest. "And what makes ye think I'm holdin' out on ye?"

Simian laughed. "I would be disappointed if you didn't." At that, Medea, Wildcard, and Orion all broke into a fit of cackling.

Once the laughter had subsided, Orion turned to face Wildcard. "Now how can I be sure that you actually lifted a finger to help me back there? Maybe I was just that lucky. Or that good."

Medea grinned. "You're not that good. After all, The Black Hand is still alive."

Orion made a rude gesture in the general direction of the sorceress, his gaze upon Wildcard unwavering. "Ye don't know that tae be a fact yet, Witch. The question stands."

Wildcard shrugged his shoulders. "You can never truly be sure whether I stepped in or not. I'm kinda like a god that way. Who knows? Maybe I am God."

"The universe is not so poorly designed." With that parting remark, the holographic Doctor Simian vanished.

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