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Lucky Shot(IC)

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A week after Easter, 2014, in an alley somewhere in the western Fens...

 

"It's over."

'Another day of this, lungs burning, legs shaking...I'm in great shape, but it's never enough. And this,' he risked a moment's glance away from the desperate-eyed young man in the baggy clothes holding a gun to the alley around them 'must be the fifth time this month I've chased someone here. Or maybe it isn't, perhaps I am merely losing my mind after years of this with nothing to show for it.'

 

"This will solve nothing, you know."

Turning back to his quarry, the King of Suits kept his eyes on the general outline of...Carl? It was probably Carl. The important thing was not to let him fire without knowing where that bullet was headed.

 

"Where will you be in a month? Can you even go that long, Carl, before something happens? And then what about Sherrie? What about your son? Is this what they need?"

Nobody who fought crime for a hobby stayed careless around guns, unless they really didn't need to. In the wrong hands they were modern talismans of destruction and fear, and even in the hands of the just they could wreak horrors.

 

Taking a deep breath, the King of Suits began to approach the man. Very slowly. "Carl, listen to me. This can not go on. The people who have you trafficking, will they just let you stay like this? They will want you deeper and deeper in their debt. They want to have power over you, but I can help you escape them. It is my duty to protect everyone in this city, Carl, I am not your enemy. Now," he smiled a little "could you put the gun away? Please?"

Edited by Arichamus

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Carl was frightened and angry all at once. Despite the cool dry dusk, he was sweating. He couldn't outrun King of Suits anyway, and he had run himself into a corner. 

 

"Like I'm gonna listen to you, cape!" he shouted back, flicking his fingers of the heavy Glock in his hand. "I'm going down like, forever, if the cops get me. And I ain't going back to prison, no way. You can scrape my cold corpse off the pavement before that happens!"

 

"And even if I talk...I'm still going six feet under. The city doesn't like talkers, doesn't like them breathing. Only difference is, I go slow and nasty rather than fast"

 

"So cut the talk, man. Spare me that. I heard all that jibber jabber before, and it ain't worth nothin'" he said, working himself up into a frenzy. 

 

"Lets do this!"

 

For all his fear, Carl had been in the army and knew his way around a gun. And a big gun it was. 

 

And anybody could always get a lucky shot...

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Flinching backward as he saw Carl raise the gun, Marceau braced for the impact, swiveling to the side just as the roar of the gunpowder began...and crashed to the ground.

 

Staring up at the sky with an odd, dizzy feeling, the King of Suits struggled to understand what had just happened. 'So...let us see, I turned, the gun fired, I felt it hit my side(left flank, eighth rib up), why am I down? I...guess I should check?' Ignoring the vague, distant sight of Carl running off over him, he began calmly patting his chest, carefully removing a glove so he could loosen one of the plates and probe under it with an exploratory hand.

 

He jerked it out with a startled cry when he felt the warm wetness and faint twinge of pain, and looked in growing horror at the red liquid dripping from his fingers.

 

Marceau wasn't unused to seeing his own blood. The man had endured several deep wounds that wiser heads warned him would make for a hell of an old age, but the location, speed of blood loss and an increasing awareness of the deep pangs warning of a serious injury made even his heart quaver.

 

Forcing himself to stop screaming, he swallowed hard and got slowly to his feet, trembling and weak enough that fumbling up the nearby wall was his only hope for those first few seconds. Once upright, he bowed his head, closed his eyes, and began to think. 'No use getting hare-brained, approach this like every other problem needing a solution. Be calm. Be collected...breathe in, breathe out...' The King of Suits cleared his mind, focusing on the dark stillness beyond thought, willing his body not to squander its might on feeble grabs at life, to gather, to contain. At last the young man felt his legs grow stronger under him, but dangerously weaker than before. Then he remembered the bullet-hole and the blood spilling from it with a jolt.

 

Removing the plate covering his left torso, he scrutinized it. Two narrow holes five inches from each curved edge, a 45-degree angle of entry. That meant the shot had passed close to his lung. 'Merci, Dieu, for your small miracles' he thought, even as a razor card flicked into his hand and long fingers retrieved some bandage strips from his belt. A quick check with his fingers(fresh glove) revealed to his relief that the exit wound was just as small as the entry, and through a nauseating stab of pain he smiled faintly "Well, Carl, now I know who your dealer must be. Not many street dealers carry bullets that solid." Just the fact that the bullet wasn't in him was a relief...for now.

 

Preparing the bandages took two unending minutes. 'First thing to do: slow the bleeding.' Opening the ballistic cloth underlay and fumbling with his undershirt, he passed the treated strip carefully around his narrow chest, gritting his teeth as it pressed against the tender wound. It was weary, ugly work, but at last the clean bandages were soaking up the escaping blood, and not his armor and clothes.

 

'Now, to business' he thought, stepping away from the grimy alley wall and glancing hastily up and down the way 'This should hold for the hour or two I need to track down Carl and take that pistol off his greasy hands,' he clenched his fist 'maybe give him a few scars for this-no. He's scared and angry, and I-I can't forget that. I am not his enemy, he is not mine' he relaxed, breathing slowly again as he felt his heart begin to hammer, and then suddenly remembered something that widened his eyes.

 

Turning around, he surveyed his bloody hand-print on the wall. "This cannot be left here, it would be plain bad manners" he announced to no-one in particular, taking a flare-up card from its holster and cutting it open a crack with the razor, spreading the gel within over the mark. In seconds the hissing substance had erased that deadly sign.

 

"And now," he said much more happily, "to work!" and set off after his scurrying quarry!

 

He had to pause at the alley's mouth, though, waiting for what felt like an invisible man beating his chest in to stop.

Edited by Arichamus

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Marceau knew the Fens. On another day, he would have caught up with Carl in a moment. This was today, however, and he was bleeding out, with a broken rib and a lungful of pain. 

 

Pitwell street another shabby downtrodden street in the Fens, which might have lifted its shoulders above the real scum of the Fens, but could still smell it. The people here were o.k, a kind of trench spirit going on. But there were abandoned houses, tough guys on the street, and hustling and fighting from rival gangs - both professional and unprofessional. 

 

Carl had ended up slamming into a small appartment block, maybe ten or so shabby appartments in three stories. Half of them were boarded up, but Marceau could pretty easily see where Carl had snapped back and broken the boards, to crawl (literally crawl) and squeeze into one badly smelling and condemned flat. 

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Marceau groaned in his heart 'Oh sweet Lord, an apartment, that means stairs. Why stairs? Why now?' but gritted his teeth(very much in his mouth rather than some metaphorical flight of dentalstry) and headed off after the gunman.

 

There was no sense in taking the same route Carl had used, while shorter and more direct it put him at risk of another stroke of infernal luck, and with his chest still throbbing the King of Suits wasn't keen on repeating that scenario. Instead he ducked in through the main door, which of course was unlocked, and ran parallel to where Carl had hidden himself. Finding the right place wasn't too tricky, he'd been chasing people into and out of buildings for longer than he cared to think.

 

He slid up against the apartment door, feet sliding along the dirty floor...and gasped in pain when his still-tender back touched a protruding nail.

 

Muttering savagely, the young vigilante paused, listened for that requisite four seconds, and then in a whirl of motion slammed his foot into the door, bringing all the weight his lean frame could muster into the blow!

 

Bursting into the room, he thundered "Carl! Put down the gun! You're coming with me!"

Edited by Arichamus

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Crack Crack! Carl was panicking now. His shots wild in the dim light of the run down and condemned building. 

 

"No! No! Get away! I'm meant to kill you!" he shouted into the air, both hands sweaty on the handle of his revolver. 

 

Crack Crack! Click Click Click! Two more bullets, aimed wide. He couldn't even see where he was firing, his eyes were screwed closed from fear. Even if he hit the King of Suits again, he wouldn't know. By this time, in his mind, the Caped Crusader was more phantom than flesh, more shadow the substance. A thing of fear in his head. 

 

His finger clicked and clicked again on the revolver trigger, but he was out of bullets. A jittery repetition, born from some stupid hope that if he just clicked the trigger one more time, a bullet would form out of the air and into the revolver, born out of pure will. Alas, he had no such superpower. He settled for blindly hurling the gun at the King of Suits...

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As the masked man halted amid the shower of splinters framed,(had he but been able to cast his senses beyond his corporeal shell of failing flesh, gaze without eyes, smell without tongue, and so on) by a faint blue light, it took him almost until the dim silhouette of Carl raised the gun at him again for the King of Suits to realize what was happening. Luckily, this time he was prepared! Dropping to one knee milliseconds before the first *CRACK* battered his eardrums and a bullet whined overhead, Marceau leapt and dodged from one side to the other, heart jumping at every burst of metallic thunder as he came closer and closer to the source!

 

Launching at last to his lean height at the first feeble noise of a trigger tapping against what usually set off the booms ringing in his ears, Marceau glared down at Carl, his cape spread out and giving the steely young man some much-needed depth and width, eyes burning with righteous fury. He was caught totally off-guard by Carl's wholly unexpected use of an automatic, and caught it by reflex mere inches from his face.

With his left hand.

 

After forcing back the lances of dull agony throbbing down his side, the King of Suits raised the gun to the light...and neatly disassembled it, the pieces clattering to the floor as his remorseless blue-eyed gaze shone down at his quarry. "'Meant to kill me', Carl? Somehow, I doubt you are the first choice for that. Even someone as low-rent as me must have some respect from my enemies. I have questions before we visit the police, first being: who hired you?" A razor card flickered into place between his fingers as he spoke, the costumed vigilante idly flicking it around his fingers. It had taken him weeks of dull schooldays to learn that trick, after seeing Aliens for the first time as a giddy 12-year old.

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Carl was terrified, almost beyond words. He fell to his knees in despair. 

 

"Don't shoot! Don't shoot! I was just doing what the boss told me to! You know how it is on the streets, man! What ya gotta do to survive! Oh please lord, don't shoot me! I don't wanna die! I'm too young!" he gulped. 

 

"It was King Cole! You know the dude? Scary ass dude, man. The real deal. Never pulls the trigger, but he pulls all the strings"

 

Carl grabbed on to the King of Suit's cape. 

 

"You know what he's gonna do to you? to me? Just cause I whispered his name? Walls have ears man, especially in these streets. King Cole got ears everywhere, he hears everything...bet he had me followed. When he gets his hands on me...well, maybe you should just go ahead and pull that trigger, right now...I'm a dead man anyway. You to, cape. Don't think you can climb outta this one!"

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Concealing as best he could the difficulty of keeping his balance while nursing an aching ribcage and being dragged to the floor, Marceau glared down at Carl. '"Never pulls the trigger but he pulls all the strings"? Really?'

 

But while the costumed crimefighter had ample room to dispute the luckless gunman's turn of phrase, there wasn't as much to maneuver with the warning. In a way, the messenger was the really scary part. Any ten-franc crime boss could play the hero killer game, hire Recall with his matchless memory, Coda with his astounding arsenal, or even the dreaded Orion. Then there were the Puissantes, those with powers. To send someone like this wretch, who was almost bound to fail and blab their employer's name...it would be like trying to attack the Atom Family by sending someone with a knife with your name on it. A sign of either supreme confidence or total dismissal of the target as a threat.

 

'Of course,' thought the King of Suits as he tried to extricate his cape-hem from Carl's desperate clinging 'would have been nice to merit a visit from one of those thugs for such a warning. I really must be pretty low-grade if this is what I get. And King Cole...' he stopped trying to escape for a moment as he cast about for who that name belonged to.

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"King Cole has got you!" blabbered Carl. "You are dead anyway, man! So please don't kill me! I don't wanna die!"

 

The Fens was a place to die. Crime riddled it like a fungus that just kept coming back no matter how much weedkiller was poured on it. Cut down one boss, two more sprang up. Arrest a couple of thugs, no problem. A plentiful supply of upcoming kids with no prospects, poor education, and no money. 

 

King Cole had come out of nowhere a few years ago and set himself up nicely. Always working in the background. His 'thing' was retro, for sure - he wouldn't have looked out of place fifty years ago. But that worked for him. 

 

The cops and lawyers had mixed feelings about him. A crook, for sure, but one who also seemed intent on, and able to, take down the mafia and other gangs a peg or two. He was an enemy, but also an enemy of the enemy. 

 

And crafty, too. 

 

Crack!

 

A bullet whizzed through the air. Sniper shot. 

 

Carl's leg went, and he clutched it in agony. There was blood. A lot of blood. Arterial strike. 

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Marceau's eyes widened, but he kept his voice level as best he could "Wait...I have somehow become noticed by him? But, Carl, I am not eve-"

 

Then the distant gunshot rolled like a brief clap of thunder, and his informant-cum-assassin was struck to the ground, blood pouring from his leg.

 

To his credit, the King of Suits took only several seconds of stunned speechless staring to recover his wits, and, forcing his protesting muscles to his will, picked up the wounded man in the usual firefighter's hoist. Running wasn't usually the best idea when fighting somebody who could hurl death from such vast distances, but at the moment, heart-hammering and side burning, it certainly seemed better than staying put. Stumbling out via the broken doorway, Marceau hastily(or something close to that) escaped out the back of the building, moving as well as he could with Carl draped over his shoulder. Every step was painful, but the goal pushed him onward: getting to a safer place, and making sure a luckless man didn't die on his account. Then finding out just why King Cole wanted him dead.

 

He at least had a lead now: the sniper. And it was towards this unseen foe that the King of Suits marched, ducking into a slightly less filthy alley to care to Carl's injury.

 

Not for the first time, he cursed his lack of strict medical training, desperately searching his memory for how he and Aloysius had dealt with wounds like this as he stripped off the pant leg around the bullet hole. It would take a precious few minutes to stop the bleeding, and then there was making sure the wound didn't get infected, and...' It would help enormously,' Marceau thought as he took out the bandages from his utility belt 'If I knew any place nearby to take him. I dare say most places near here won't accept a gunshot victim, not if they think it might put them in the same sights'

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Crack! Crack!

 

Two more shots. Shots the King of Suits felt, and heard, and saw. Splintered masonry behind him, the snap of gunfire. The blood, the fear, even the hiss of wind as the bullets flew past. 

 

Carl was moaning, dribbling in and out of consciousness. Fear had gripped him, and the sweat, blood and confusion loosened his tongue. He started to babble, as if his life depended on it. Maybe, after all, it did. 

 

"The boss...he set me up...sent me here to kill ya, and now he wants us both dead. Its a set up man. Don't let me die! I don't want to die! please don't let me die!"

 

The blood flow was stemmed, although it wasn't pretty. And at least there were no more gunshots.

 

"You gotta help me, man!" grabbed Carl onto the King. "The boss, he used me to bring you here...set you up...want's the streets clean of capes like you..."

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The situation was getting downright Serbian, and as he worked on the leg Marceau was already starting to wonder if maybe he wouldn't be better off there than in America. 'I could start up the East House again, maybe bring back Alek and Dusana...no supervillains...' But that would mean abandoning people here, some of whom had even started to depend on his work. 'Like this poor bâtard'

 

"Your boss has a strange mind, my friend, if shooting his assassins is a good idea to it." he smiled encouragingly at Carl, gently extricating his cape from the man's hands once again. The weight on his shoulder felt like it was being driven into his own wound "It's foolish. Relax, it will help your leg. I won't let you die if it's even an inch within my power." Which as a stance was all well and good, but as the King of Suits regarded the nearby rooftops, it began to hit home just how unlikely that was to be in the cards. King Cole could field assassins(of admittedly sharply varying skill levels) who knew him by sight and could watch him wherever he went. He could just discard the costume and slip home, he couldn't risk bringing the King's wrath down on some poor doctor by going for help in costume, and getting around with Carl (leaving him was unthinkable) would be difficult in the extreme with both of them injured.

 

That left one option: the people of the Fens.

 

They were often lazy, bitter, crude, suspicious, unfriendly and uncaring about anyone's problems but their own...but he'd seen the other side of them just a few years ago, when that German Doktor had gone mad and flooded the city with monsters, and he'd organized  the looters and thugs into a defence force against the red-skinned horrors.

 

But...no. Marceau shook his head. He couldn't just drag them into his problem. Then his eyes fell on Carl, and he saw the other way on this path. The young Frenchman grinned with relief.

 

Lifting the man up onto his shoulder once again, and setting off at a steady, rapid pace to the south, he said crisply "Carl, where did you get this job of yours? I think we should pay that place a little visit..."

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"The Fens, man...the Fens. Oh God it hurts..." he grimaced, clutching his leg. The dressings were already red, and he could barely stand. The King of Suits was right, Carl was dead weight. 

 

Was the assassin aiming for the King of suits?

 

Or did he want to burden him?

 

"You mean the job on you? Seemed we both got shafted on that one, huh?" he groaned. "I was just selling, dealing, for Cole. Then some bozo of his, you know, high up guy...kinda guy not just muscle ya know? Anyway, he tells me about a job. Tells me what to do, when to do it, even where to run for if the heat turns up. Stupid me, didn't ask no questions. It was all a set up..." he shook his head. 

 

"This bozo of his, ya know, the suit and tie guy. Not a Fens guy. Him got me at Deadshots...ya know? the bar?"

 

Pretty much everybody knew Deadshots. Gangsters paradise in the Fens. Except it wasn't much of a paradise, more a crumbling liquor dive. It had been shut down and reopened more times than anyone could remember. The locals actually kinda liked Deadshots. It was run by some ex-marine guy, tough as nails who didn't like blood on his floorboards. 

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'Oh, Deadshots. Of course. Why didn't I think of that place first thing?'

 

Due to his job (both of them), Marceau rarely had the time, reason or spare money to frequent the place. That and his tastes for alcohol ran a little higher-end than the Fens really catered to. 'I haven't had a good Reims champagne in years' the young Frenchman thought dismally, getting to his feet with a grimace. The pain wasn't getting any better. And it was a little harder to breath than before, too.

 

Setting his jaw, the King of Suits hoisted Carl onto his shoulder once more, handing the man his water bottle 'Nothing for it. I have to find this out at the source!' "Hold tight with your arms, let your legs dangle Carl. I have you, and won't let go. The sniper can wait, and is easily avoided, it's Deadshots for us!"

 

With long, rapid and very quiet strides, Marceau began loping through the twisted alleys and back streets of the Fens, careful to keep out of view of any roofs. It didn't sit right with him to leave a danger to the public undealtwith, but if he reached the bar he might get some clues to deal with them, and some information.

 

Enough to make a decent start once he found the gunman.

 

On the way there Marceau racked his brain for all he knew about the bar, its patrons, its owner, recent trouble, rumors, anything that might hint at the part it played beyond 'meeting-ground' for this little tragedy. And as he marched in the door, seating Carl at a table near the door, he gave the place a quick scan to get a feel for the mood. As well as any likely-looking troublemakers.

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Deadshots was slap bang in the middle of the Fens. And not the nice part. En route, Carl yelped in pain, and every so often the King of Suits could swear he was being followed. It was heavy. sweaty work, running through the dark streets, the pale street lights, half dragging the injured Carl behind them. The sounds, smells, and sights of the night City whirled around him, like snapping jaws. 

 

The bar itself was beaten up but sturdy. A kind of halfway point between derelict and robust. The kind of bar where people didn't bother replacing windows, or doors, or even toilets. They just kind of patched it up in anticipation of it being broken again. 

 

When the King of Suits entered, it was the early morning. A couple of hard core drunks, and a couple of amateur drunks. A waitress wearing a bit too much make up, a but too little skirt was cleaning up. And Deadshot himself, the barkeeper was wiping the bar down with one hand and having a vodka with the other. 

 

The man was over six foot, and broad. He could have been a boxer or wrestler. He had a livid scar down one cheek, a rugged brutal affair. His head was shaved, and he looked strong, both in will and body. The kind of guy who could stare down a mad dog or bull. 

 

"Goddamn it!" he roared as Carl was placed on the chair. He was looking pale. Most of the bleeding had stopped, but not all. Blood had seeped through his clothes and he looked faint. Because he was faint. 

 

"What da hell are you doing bringing some bleedin' dead man in here! Get out! I gots plenty of trouble without some cape dragging in more!"

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Glancing at the man behind the bar, Marceau allowed himself a brief burst of anger "You don't enjoy this, Deadshot? Then don't let people make assassination deals in your bar." Gesturing to Carl as he stalked up to the ex-military man behind the counter, the King of Suits went on savagely "Thanks to you, a killer stalks the streets, and a crime boss trying to kill off this area's defenders got a hired gun!"

 

Grabbing the startled Deadshot by his shirt, Marceau hoisted him off his feet and snarled into his ear "I'm curious, my friend, how much King Cole will like neutral ground after he takes over!" Drawing back he waited a moment to watch that new thought get into Deadshot's mind, ignoring how it was received as he shoved the man away and approached the nearby drunks "How about you, comrades? Do you think a criminal leader will care much about how little you have? He'll bleed you dry if you let him do as he pleases!"

 

Spinning on his heel with enough force to make his cape sweep through the air behind him, the King of Suits drew a razor card and sent it whistling through the air into the wall behind the bartender, the card arcing just over the man's ear "Imagine that, every day, when you least expect it! That's what you have to look forward to from King Cole!" 

 

'This is the best decision I have ever made' Marceau's mind concluded, between flickers of dizziness from the blood-loss.

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Deadshot paused, drumming his glass. 

 

"It's true. I don't want King Cole around here. Guess nobody does" he said, slowly, matching the Kings stare but not defeating it. The half drunks in the bar stood silent, listening and watching the face off. 

 

Deadshot commanded respect. That much was clear. He was a veteran and a large man. A man who could probably make mincemeat of any street thug. A man who probably had. But the King of Suits was another deal altogether. 

 

"I served in the army, cape. Had a bellyful of blood, guts, and sweat. Loved every minute of it. Thing is, I don't like being given orders. I am my own man...but thing is, I would rather have you giving me an earful, and a street bozo bleeding on my floor than have Cole march in here and take me down"

 

"And I ain't about to mess with you. Not here, not now. Not my style" he conceded. 

 

"So tell me what you want, and I'll.,.."

 

Crack crack--crackety crack----

 

Not sniper fire this time. Machine guns. Bullets ripped through the Deadshot bar, and all jumped for cover. The King of suits thought he saw one of the barflies hit. Couldn't be sure. Glass, wood, chippings. The gunfire didn't let up. Carl screaming as he fell for cover, lead bleeding afresh. 

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His momentary relief at how simple things were going cut short, the King of Suits rolled desperately away from the hail of metal and glass, grunting in stifled agony that made the normally graceful man clumsy. Crouching, he hid behind a sofa as he fought the urge to just leap over the counter and run. The sharp sound of Carl's voice as he wailed in pain certainly played a part in that, along with the stab of guilt as the King recalled just who'd brought him there to get hurt some more.

 

But regrets could wait until later. For now, as he slipped an 8 of Diamonds from his sleeve and hefted it, he listened closely to the rhythm of the firearms. His mind raced as he struggled to remember the tell-tale pauses, the depth of each retort, and how each *THUD* signaled what the gun was and who might have acquired them. Guns were status symbols even to the most efficiency-minded crime boss, and if this was who he suspected, they'd be pretty well equipped.

 

Waiting for a brief lull, he ducked out from behind the sofa, slinging the card with a jerk of his wrist out the window. Slicing the air, it hit the ground with a bang, and exploded into a fine white smoke that quickly filled much of the sidewalk and the bar, hiding the gunmen and their victims from each other.

 

Bent low and running as quietly as he could while his throbbing ribs fought against every step, the King of Suits scrabbled over to Carl, hoisting him back onto his shoulder with a flood of whispered apologies and encouragements. "I'm sorry, I should have watched if we were followed" he breathed as the caped vigilante began sliding back towards the bar "Just hold on, Carl, I'll get us and Deadshot out of here, and them outside...they'll pay for this. All of them."

Edited by Arichamus

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Crack crack crack!

 

Bullets hit the Dead Shot, but died down as the smoke filled the bar and windows. Without a target to see, the assassins gave a brief reprieve. 

 

"Man oh man...I don't want to die! Please please baby, I don't wanna die!" wimpered Carl, clutching his leg which was bleeding again.

 

Deadshot brought out his own fire arm, an outdated but perfectly serviceable bolt-action rifle. It was no match for the automatic weapons being fired, but he was a good shot. 

 

"Damn you, and your capes, this is what happens when I...."

 

He paused for a fraction of a moment, eyes cast down to the floor where something had landed, thrown through the broken windows. 

 

"GRENADE!" he screamed. 

 

And then there was a thunderous explosion. 

 

Carl screamed, and passed out. He had multiple shrapnel wounds, and his leg was bleeding ferociously once more, the bandages blasted off and wound reopened. Various screams of pain and fear hit the Deadshot, although none of the other drunk barflies seemed in mortal danger. Glass, blood, smoke, and sweat made it hard to see...

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For his part, Marceau's well-honed reflexes had sent him away from the grenade and towards cover the second his eyes lighted on the egg-like container of death. Jumping and rolling accurately is way harder than you'd think, however, and with Carl and his aching wound, he wasn't fast enough to escape the blast entirely. Crying out as a red-hot shard of metal sliced across his back, the King of Suits stumbled behind the counter, his groggy and rattled brain taking a few seconds to recognize what had happened to Deadshot and to understand why Carl's leg seemed so wrong.

 

'I shouldn't have done this' He thought, horror and regret welling up as he started to understand 'I should have gotten Carl to safety...oh God, what if he dies? He'll have been killed thanks to me!' self-pity and helpless anger surged through him, and gritting his teeth as he thought of the heartless scum outside waiting to kill them all, he was tempted with bright visions of roiling orange and black as he sent a deluge of explosive cards to smash them all into charred pieces of flesh, leave a crater where they'd stood...

 

Glancing out at the voluminous cloud, his confused mind suddenly stopped as an idea struck. Drawing out a handful of tangle cards, he hastily slotted them together, bundling a single exploder with a sigh of resignation. Then, jumping up, he flung it through the broken window with a wild yell, following it up with a razor card as it started to vanish into the mist.

 

In mere instants, a mass of thin metal strips lashed the air, winding around and consuming anything in reach like some otherworldly octopus!

 

Smiling as he heard the shouts and howls of confusion, Marceau turned to Carl "I'm getting you out of here. There's...I know a clinic nearby. They can save you!" so saying, he began to limp out through the back door, wondering blearily if he really was going to be the first cape dead by King Cole's hands...

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With all the smoke and confusion, it couldn't be said if the metallic octopus had done its work, or how much work it had done. There were a couple of screams, a few grunts, and a few rounds of gunfire from outside. But with all the gas and mayhem, nobody could really see what they where doing. 

 

Carl had passed out, emitting a last whimper of "Mummy..." before he lost consciousness. From the bleeding, perhaps he would never wake up again. 

 

Dead Shot was crawling on his hands and knees, holding a shotgun, and arrived next to the King of Suits. He had a number of scrapes and cuts from broken glass, but he still seemed in fighting spirit. 

 

"See what happens when you mess with King Cole in the Fens, cape?" he grunted, angrily, trying to peer through the smoke. 

 

He cast his eyes down and the bleeding Carl. 

 

"That one needs a hospital, if he is gonna make it" he opinionated. "I seen plenty of dead men bleed out...And my first aid kit ain't gonna do squat for that"

 

He cocked his shotgun. 

 

"Can't say I ain't any pal of yours, boy. But I don't wanna die in my own bar. If I could kick you out, I would. Better two men dead than the whole squadron. And my customers ain't looking to pretty right now. But I be guessin' you are going to jam your heels in and fight. So my best bet is to cover yer ass when you do...."

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"Actually," Marceau said gravely, looking up from frantically working on stemming the nightmarish tide of blood in Carl's leg, "I was rethinking my strategy. Enclosed spaces and explosives are horrors waiting to happen. I and Carl will be out of your hair shortly, Deadshot. Please accept my apologies in lieu of more substantial reparations."

Bowing his head slightly, the King of Suits got quickly into a crouch and scanned the bar floor over the counter, and satisfied that he hadn't missed anybody scooped Carl onto his shoulder once more.

"You need real medical attention, my friend," the caped crusader muttered as he slipped out the back door, noting a convenient fire escape he could use to get the attention of the assassins and draw them away from the bar. By now his entire left arm and shoulder was nearly useless, blazing with agony at the least pressure, and throbbing otherwise. Marceau didn't want to think about how much danger of infection he might be in by now.

But first things first, to find a good medical clinic...

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GM

 

"My insurance better well damn cover this. They always have some sub clause about Super Powered Damage...." muttered Dead Shot. 

 

He leaned over the pool table, upended, he had used for cover and sent off two shotgun blasts into the smoke. To at least let the assassins know they were alive. 

 

The King of Suits stumbled, or burst, through the Fire Escape, to see a dark and wet Freedom City alley, complete with dumpster, trash, and high walls on either side. A drunk hobo snored against a wall, slumped on his ass. 

 

This was not the most tactically safe position...more like a kill zone...but it would be appetitising bait...

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Starting at the gun reports, Marceau barked over his shoulder "Fool! Do you want them to kill you all? Because they'll try to if you press them! Get yourself and the rest out of here!"

Lunging ungainly into the side-street, the sight of the nearby bum would have been an unpleasant one. Unless you were Marceau Suvou, of course.

Darting over and nudging the homeless man brusquely awake, the King of Suits spoke rapidly once he was sure the man would hear him clearly. "Frank? It's me, Suity. I need you to go and call Haber, Smiles, everybody you can. Tell them that King Cole is after me and every cape in this part of the city, and if we don't stand together he'll pick us apart!"

Carl groaned on his shoulder, and the lean man added hastily "I have to get this man to...somebody, anyone who can help him. But I will meet you and the rest at Jerk Deftly's." Desperation was stamped on Marceau's face, he could feel the noose tightening and knew now that acting on his own was just what King Cole was after. He wanted to deal with his enemies piece-meal, and the lone-wolf habits of most capes meant that was only too easily arranged.

But only a few years ago Marceau had helped organize a substantial number of Fensers to defend against the weaker Metaceptors Doktor Archeville's possession had loosed upon that part of the city. That wasn't something that people just forgot.

He could count on them to remember that.

Maybe...

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