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Gun Run Prologue Part 2


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Rusty Spike's Tattoo Parlour


The Theatre District


16th September


Spike Head was a tall thin man with a bald head and a long beard. He had a rather messy and wonderful scar running across his forehead, which he gave various conflicting stories about. A gang of ninja's, a jealous ex-wife, a radioactive pineapple. 


He had a wicked laugh and plenty of wicked tattoo's that varied from saucy to x-rated. They showed off his skill, he said. He was an advertisement for his shop. 


Right now he was finishing off a tattoo on the shoulder of an attractive blond woman who was leaning on a bench, topless, but wearing the most almighty hefty boots and leather trousers. Her spine was a terrifically wild line of angels and demons locked in some epic war. 


"Finished in a moment, Carmen..." mumbled Spike, taking pride and care over his work. There were a couple of other tattoo artists doing their trade, but Spike was clearly the boss. 


Spike looked up as Mr. Compton walked in, quickly recognising him. 


"Come to see how its done, have you, Mr. Compton?" he laughed his cackling laugh. 



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Max had spent much of the day checking out empty lots in strip malls, looking for a place that would house Fire Eater Ink, his tattoo parlor.  It had been quite a few years since it'd been open but he still knew some contacts in the trade, and one in particular still operated in the same place.  Spike had been a household name among artists and tattoo junkies alike even when Max had first started, and unlike some had welcomed the competition from a young upstart like himself, they had made fast friends back when Fire Eater Ink first opened, and Max was relying on that friendship for some information.


Max smiled a fang tipped smile at Spike, "See how what's done, Spike?  Gouging your customers with rusty needles and outrageous prices?  I actually came for some advice.  Been back in town for a while and I'm gonna re-open Fire Eater Ink.  Problem is I'm having trouble finding a place for it.  The old shop is now a dry cleaner of all things and every other place I've seen has zero curb appeal.  Was wondering if you knew anyone looking to sell their shop, or were planning on moving out soon, or maybe just a good spot that's vacant now.  See, I got a place lined up in West End, it's right across the street from a pretty nice bar, but I don't know, I just wanted to make sure I did the due diligence ya know?"


Max scowled and frowned, lowering his head.  It was technically true, but there's also other reasons he was looking at other places.  Max and Moira had had... history, and she worked across the street at Morley's.  True, he was kind of using the back room there now for work, and any hard feelings he had about the way things shook out with Moira were long gone, they still were friends, and worked together doing the hero thing.  If he was being honest with himself he loved her, and she loved him, but it wasn't a traiditional sort of thing.  He had figured that out the hard way and there had been some harsh words and fire involved.  Still, even though it was the past, he wasn't sure if what he needed was space or to not seem like he was stuck to her.  


He shook his head and brought his attention back to Spike and put back on his disarming smile.  "And don't you worry none, Spike.  I'm only going to steal about half your customers and staff, you'll still be able to afford that three story shack you call home."

Edited by EviscerusNox
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"The rust adds texture. Don't you know anything?" said Spike, proudly finishing of his tattoo. He guffawed at Max as the woman got up and admired her new addition. She clothed herself and gave Max a wink as she walked out with a rather pronounced limp. "Looking hot!" she whispered to him. It was not entirely clear if she was referring to herself or Max or her tattoo. Or all three. 


"Never mind her, Max. She is bad news" said Spike as the woman left. He leaned back and sipped on some tea. 


"What you want to go and get a place down the West End for? Isn't the high class of the Theatre District any good for ya? Hell, you can come and work for me, ya know. My middle name is charity..."


He pointed at a broom and mop. 


"You can start right now, if ya want. Hwah Hwah Hwah!"



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Max raised an eyebrow watching the woman go and said with his eyes still on her, "I don't know, Spike, doesn't look like that bad a news."  He threw the woman a wink and blew her a kiss that trailed a smoke ring even though he clearly wasn't smoking.


He laughed as Spike gestured at the broom and mop.  "You know me, I don't do well with bosses, I kinda blew up my last one's human furnace trick remember?  Besides if I looked at places here in the district it'd be like I'm tryin' to muscle you out.  I ain't about that, and that's another reason I'm here.  I know you always stood up for me with the other artists round here when I got started.  I wanted to make sure I showed you the courtesy of letting you know i'm picking up for real again.  Didn't want you to think I was going to hide it from ya and steal your regulars."  Almost all jocularity had left him as he became earnest with Spike.  He looked up to the man, and wanted to show him the respect he deserved in the community.  It wasn't everyone that would show any amount of geniality to a young red eyes fanged carnival freak when they show up out of nowhere.


"Come to think of it, I'd love to have you at the opening when it happens.  You could plug your store, do some tatts in my place to drum up business for me, and we could generally have a good time inking people and then tie one on good and proper after a spell."  Max laid on his southern accent a little thicker at the end for Spike, because he knew how much it grated on his ears.  Seeing him wince made Max have to stifle a laugh.

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"Why you cheeky little guttersnipe" grunted Spike. "Just the kind of trash I like...!" he laughed, having another sip of tea. 


"But look, seriously, now is a funky time to be opening up an ink place. I mean, plenty of opportunities, but plenty of risk too. Three or four new gangs have popped up. Bang! Bang! Bang! one after the other. Some of 'em want ink too. The Chain Sores, the Leap Froggers, the Beastly Boys...."


He looked left and right, worried. 


"And the Cheesemakers..." he whispered, clearly worried. 


"Anyway, you better watch yourself. Don't get to mixed up in the street life. Well, too mixed up with the wrong kind of street life, if you know what I mean" he continued, his grin coming back. 


"I heard they are running guns now. Big style. Bleeding Edge kind of stuff" said one big man, getting a tattoo of a spiked skull on his forehead. He looked like a biker. Because he was a biker. 


"What, you never run Guns, Meathead?" asked Spike. 


Meathead, for that was his name, shook his head in response. "Just regular stuff, shotguns, handguns, missile launchers. Nothing serious. Not like these dudes! The streets and safe any more, man..." he sighed. 

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Max raised an eyebrow, new guns in town worried him.  New guns that were more serious than missile launchers really bothered him.  


"You know me, Spike.  I'm great at keeping out of trouble,"  Max said with a smirk.  "Just so I know where to steer clear of, any idea where these gangs operate out of?  Wouldn't want to accidentally set foot in the wrong alley ya know."  Which of course, was exactly Max's intention.  He wasn't even close to the biggest name among supers in town, and he knew others were probably on it, but he wasn't about to let this one go.  He had basically sat by the wayside for years when he closed up shop and went back to doing the carnie thing.  He had red in his ledger, good he should have been doing instead of running carnival rides. Maybe he could make up for lost time with this and clear an uneasy conscience.

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"You are fant-bleedin'-tastic a staying out of trouble" agreed Spike without believing a word of it. 


"Now, finding that where they operate from. That's beyond me. To be honest, I wouldn't ask" he continued, with a degree of firmness. 


"I do" piped up Meathead, getting up to the sigh of his artist. The Spiked Skull was only halfway done, if that. "Well, I know about the Beastly Boys, anyhows. Listen to rap and hip hop and that kind of %$£&!"


"tsk" clicked Spike, pointing at the swearing jar. 


"Ah $£%! not again" mumbled Meathead. 


"Tsk" clicked a jubilant Spike, pointing at the swearing jar once more. 


"Anyways, they light up the central park around midnight. Damn, you can heal them howling and all that sh....shtuff" corrected Meathead. "Guess that's where they do their business, if ya knows what I mean...."

Edited by Supercape
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Max scowled.  "Howling?  Sounds like yer sayin' their what, werewolves or somesuch?  Or a bunch of animal themed super thugs?" This was starting to sound even worse.  At first he thought the gang names were just really terrible names given by people with no imagination.  Now he was worried they were given by terrible wolf men with no imaginations.


"What's a bunch of suped up thugs need high tech weapons fer if they got wicked claws and teeth?"


Max saw and heard the firmness in Spike's demeanor.  Max knew Spike was only worried about his well being and was trying to warn him off for his own safety, but it was of course no use.  Max felt his fingers twitching and heat rising in his lungs.  It was just like when he was getting ready to perform.  The nervous energy, the adrenaline kicking in.  He reeled it in though, wouldn't do to start breathing smoke or steam in someone's ink shop.  Plus he wasn't sure if he actually wanted to go about burning their operation to the ground just yet, maybe he could get information from them on the rest of the gangs?  Max toyed with the idea of trying to get jumped in to the gang but that was probably out of the question.  He wasn't the best liar or spy, plus he wasn't exactly quiet about the fact that he was Spitfire either.  No secret identity brought with it a whole mess of problems that are uniquely different to the ones having a secret identity brought.  Damned if ya do and damned if ya don't, Max thought.

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"I don't think they are suped up" said Meathead, scratching his half finished forehead tattoo. 


"I heard the same. Not suped" agreed Spike. "Not that I hear anything, mind ya. Not me..." he said, finishing his tea. 


"Nah, they just crazy. Super crazy" said Meathead, almost hopping from foot to foot. "Run around on all fours, howl at the moon. And give a damn good beating to anybody they fancy. Wild men. And women, too. Just cos' they called the Beastly Boys, don't mean no Beastly women" he explained. 


"Nobody can deal with them. Like, they don't want to deal with anybody. Just want to behave like animals, they say. Huh, although they listen to music and deal in guns. So I guess they ain't exactly following their own code, if ya know what I mean. Anyways, somebody has the guts to deal with them. Though hell knows why. Too unpredictable..." he sighed. 

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Max turned his attention to Spike.  It was evident now that Spike did know things, but probably wasn't willing to talk about it, at least not with Meathead here around.  Max came up with an idea and pulled the trigger without thinking.  Pulling a pack of cigarettes from his riding jacket, Max nodded his head to Meathead.


"Hey, you headed outside fer a smoke break?  If so could I borrow a light?  Left mine at home, I'll give ya a cigarette for your trouble."  Max shook out the pack so that a cigarette stood up in easy pickings out of the pack and extended it to Meathead.  "I'll meet ya out there in a sec, gotta talk to Spike here about some money I owe him."  Max put on his most disarming smile as he offerend the cigarette, hoping to look as nonchalant as possible.

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"Sure man, I got a light" nodded Meathead, bringing out his cheap lighter with "Blacksmokers Eternal" emblazoned on it. He greedily took the cigarrette. 


"These things will be the blinking death of me" he laughed, hoarsely, about to light up. 


"Not in the damn shop, Meathead! Get yer ass out of here. Wendy will finished that stupid tattoo when you are back!"


"Yeah yeah, sure think, stick man" mumbled Meathead, waddling out. For all his bulk, both fat and muscle, he wasn't the lightest on his feet. 


Once the biker had left, Spike leaned back with a toothy grin. 


"Damn idiot. But he pays. And I'm kind of fond of him. Ya know, the bikers are pretty o.k" he said airily, studying Max. "But you seem on a mission. What's on your mind?"

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Max sat down in the now vacant tattoo seat and gave Spike an easy smile.


"Listen, Spike, we've never talked about it, but you ain't stupid and you know what I do, or have done in the past.  People like Meathead there I can let go, unless of course I get really bored.  But bringing things worse than missile launchers into the city?  I can't just let that kinda thing pass ya know?  If you know anything about where these guys are holed up, what they are up to, you gotta tell me brother.  I understand if you're scared, for me or for your shop.  You got my word that this will never find it's way back to you and yours.  You're a good man, Spike.  So I know you don't like seeing people get hurt.  You tell me what you know, not only am I gonna have you on opening night, I'll come by here every saturday night for a month and ink up your customers for free.  Gonna take me at least that long to close on this building I got my eye on anyways.  Whatya say?"


Max gave him a level look, still smiling, but also there was iron in his words, letting Spike know that this was serious to him.  

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"Well...." said Spike, rolling the words around his lips and his eyes around his skull. 


"Look, first off, don't listen to Meathead. How do you think he got his damn name? Those biker dudes, like act all tough. Sometimes they are, sometimes they ain't. Most of the time its in between. Lets just say they tend to add some spice to the truth, ok?"


He paused, weighing up the situation. Weighing up Max. 


"But what I heard, well, these new gangs. They sprung up like yesterday, yeah? All a bit crazy. Like whirling dervishes or something. They don't seem to be in it for the money, but just, you know, for complete freedom. Kinda sounds cool except they get violent, crazy, thrill seeking. Kids, maybe. Maybe just kids. I dunno though. Maybe something more..." he stroked his beards, pondering. 


"Well they sprung up yesterday. But today, well, metaphorically today, not literally, today they start getting organised. Like packs. Now its more than just thrill seeking. Like they doing crime. Organised crime. Hell knows how that happened. But gun running, yeah, I heard about that..."


"Some new dealer in town, they say. Selling high tech weapon. Dunno how you could find him though. I don't even know his name" he shrugged. "Unless you want to pose as a gun runner, or buyer, yourself?" he asked.


"But one thing Meathead was telling the truth about. The Beastly Boys are tearing up Liberty Park. Only a matter of time before the police properly come down on them. Only a matter of time before someone gets hurt..."

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Max listened intently to Spike and nodded where appropriate.  He didn't feel the man was deliberately hiding anything, and he had given him good information.  Though like most answers, they only led to harder more perplexing questions.  Where did these gangs come from?  How could they get the kind of juice to be gun running at this caliber literally overnight?  Each question only seemed to have answers that made things seem worse and not better.  This was gonna get hairy, and he could tell Spike knew it.  Max decided it was best to try and ease some of his friend's tensions however.


"Don't you worry Spike, I'll set these Beastly Boys on the straight and narrow with as few bruises as I can muster.  I promise no lasting burns either.  It's better I deal with this than some rival gang or worse yet, a meta who doesn't understand how a good time can go bad real fast."


Max got up and shook Spike's hand.  "Thanks fer the help.  And I'll be here next Saturday night like I promised."  With that Max opened the door out into the midday sun, flipping a cigarette out of his pocket, when he saw Meathead offer him the light, Spitfire gave him a flat look and shot a small flame out his nose, causing the end of the cigarette to burst to light before turning his back and heading to his green and white flame decorated chopper.


"Keep yerself safe, Meathead ya hear?"

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"Hey, what da hell?" snorted Meat Head, dropping his smoke in shock. 


"Aw damn, ya made me drop my smoke!" he lamented, stating the blatantly obvious in a voice that was morose in timbre and slow in pace. 


"Hey..wait...!" he gasped, his brain catching up with events. "You just sneezed out some fire! Like, like some dragon or something. Or like that superhero, what's his name? Snotfire? Yeah, like snotfire!"


Meathead remembered to breath, and then remembered he was a hard ass biker with a criminal record. He muttered something about "I ain't guilty, no of nothing" and ran down the street, his tattoo unfinished and unremembered. 


And the sun crawled across the sky, and eventually set. At night, the Beatly Boys would be coming out to play...


~ Fin ~

Edited by Supercape
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