False Flag: The Power Summit (Part 2 of 3)
Painting by Demar Douglas
The Martial sat in the situation room scrolling aimlessly on his phone when the comm piece in his ear chimed.
"Inspector to the Martial," the tense voice said. "Status yellow, we're about to get hit, over."
The Martial sat up, glancing out the window to the convention floor, seeing some Defenders yelling up at the floating Messenger to keep his feet on the ground. "Status yellow, please confirm intel, what do you have? Over."
"It's the absence of having something," Inspector said, training a small telescope west towards the freeway. "No homeless under the freeway, despite signs that's normal. No recent graffiti, no signs of super villains despite 238 costumed vigilantes with an aggregate of 712 adversaries considered active enemies. It's a set up, over."
Martial sighed, sitting back in the uncomfortable folding chair. "Your evidence is no evidence? Who should we shoot? Over."
A beat passed before the response came back. "When was the last time I was wrong?"
Martial pursed his lips and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Perilous, triple check the vents for gas attacks. Rock & Soul, tell the W.A.R. Hammers to expand their patrol perimeter by twenty-five percent, screw the police rules. Go to status yellow across the board."
Inspector said, "Thank you, sir," and clicked off the line.
Martial glanced across the screens, seeing nothing unexpected, and winced uncomfortably.
The AudibleBack on the JW Marriott roof, Blastmaster shrugged at his tablets, showing nothing unusual in the theatre of operations.
"I've got nothing from overwatch position, R&S," he said into his walkie-talkie. "Yeah, I'll go to condition yellow, over and out."
He switched the walkie-talkie for his phone, and said, "... as soon as I check out this new Roddy Rich song my cousin texted me about ..."
Without warning, the floor beneath him erupted in an explosion that tossed him back ten feet, scattering his cameras, weapon and screens. Blastmaster landed hard on his back, the brightly colored body armor taking the brunt of the impact, but still pushing all the air in his body out in a rush.
The smoke parted and Snakebird somersaulted out of the ragged hole, landing perfectly with a black patent leather tennis shoe on each side of Blastmaster's hips.
Confused, he gasped, 'What the ... damn, you fine as hell in per-"
She knelt and cut him off with a precision punch that knocked him unconscious immediately. She reached under the black trimmed crimson cape over her left side to pull a syringe from her shoulder holster. Quickly, she found a spot on his leg not covered by blast shielding and jabbed the needle through the fabric of his pants, pressing the plunger all the way down.
Confident he would stay asleep, she tapped a button on her collar and spoke, with her voice now sounding exactly like the downed laser trooper, saying "Status green."
She turned and reached into the smoking hole to grab her Fendi tote. She pulled out zip ties, securing Blastmaster's hands and feet, then clipped his walkie-talkie on her Union logo belt before rooting around in the large purse.
Snakebird pulled out a long thin set of tubes and a trigger and digital scope, which she quickly assembled into a kind of sniper rifle. The mesmerized woman also pulled a microfilament grappler from the gigantic purse. She loaded the rifle with a small tranquilizer dart, took aim at Skywolf, read the readouts in the scope to account for wind and drift and fired the powerful little shot at 3,000 feet per second.
Blocks away on the roof of the south hall, Skywolf felt the pinch of the dart in his neck and fell over, his cowboy hat falling off his long ponytailed black hair as he face planted on the roof near his helicopter.
Back on the Marriott roof, Snakebird sank the spike of her monofilament grappler into the roof and it mechanically expanded into the structure to further secure itself. She added the hook to the front of the odd gun she created and fired again, this time at the roof of the adjacent west hall on the other side of Pico.
Slinging the tote over her shoulder, Snakebird pulled out a hard metal handlebar with a harness attached. She hooked the harness around herself and grabbed the handlebar, swinging over the ledge and within a minute was down on the roof of the west hall.
Walking over to an air conditioner vent, Snakebird popped it open easily, almost as if it had been left undone for her, then disappeared from view as she carelessly discarded the harness.
Brown stood in the kitchen of the apartment across the street from the convention center, smiling as he spoke on his ChipWare cell phone.
"Yeah, baby we should be done in time to double date with Gladiator and whoever her latest victim is," he chuckled "Sorry, 'Shani.' I only deal with her for work stuff ..."
The freckled Digi-Snake Benjamin rushed in to the kitchen, face mask down, fidgeting nervously.
"Fiona, lemme call you back," Brown said. "Okay baby, love you too."
He put the phone back in his jacket and said, "What's up, Tamara?"
"He's on the phone," Benjamin said nervously. "Him! He wants to talk to you!"
Brown frowned, glancing at his watch. "Thank you, Tamara."
He followed her back into the living room and picked up the phone, saying, "Passcode for ... yessir. Confirmed. As far as I know, we ... no, sir. I didn't know she was on this mission. She's inside the convention center? Now? No, I don't have ... okay. Yessir. We're on it."
Brown put the phone down and saw that all five Digi-Snakes were turned to look at him.
"Okay," he said with a big exhale. "We are moving up the timetable. Mission is a 'go' in five minutes."
"Five minutes?!??" Andre said with concern.
"I know, not my call," Brown offered. "If we don't go on the mark, the whole mission could be a wash."
As the Digi-Snakes spun into a rush of activity and calls, Brown pulled out his phone and started texting, and said, "This is how it's going to be today, all right. Time for fireworks."
Go TimeJack Flack was eating a sandwich next to the W.A.R. Fare when he looked up, eyes squinting. He tapped his ear and said, "Jack Flack to dispatch, we have enemy aircraft incoming!"
In the situation room, Rock & Soul peered at her monitors with confusion. "Radar shows clear skies and ..."
Inspector butted in on comms saying, "No time for speculation, grandpa!"
Flack barked, 'I was in country for sixteen surprise attacks and I'm telling you, they re hugging the rooftops and ...
A groggy sounding Skywolf got on comms from the roof and said, "Five Chryso fighters incoming! Ugh, I have to get up there ..."
The whistle of missiles ripped through the air and the W.A.R. Hammer barely cleared the convention center before the missiles hit, sending debris raining down on the convention floor, smashing three booths and prompting four of the superhero speedsters to start evacuating people from the building.
As the explosion burst through the ceiling, Maraud signaled to one of his Crimson Shepherds, identically armored soldiers with his red, reflective face emblazoned on their armored breastplates. She tapped a strange black plastic column standing in the middle of their booth. A crimson dome of energy emerged from the column, stretching down to waist level. As he gestured for people to come in under the dome, rubble bouncing harmlessly off its surface, he said, "We offer easy financing and multiple sizes, come take a look ..."
Outside, the Chrysos -- based on an old Soviet design -- split off in multiple directions, two of them easily shooting down some of the slower W.A.R. Hammers making their way towards the action. One of the helicopters came down in the intersection of Figueroa and Venice, narrowly missing a RedEx truck. Police sirens blared as police cars appeared en masse to block off incoming traffic. Officers exited the vehicles and started ushering people and cars away from the ring of squad cars now around the convention center.
Underground saw this from his position and called in. "Uh, dispatch, we have a new police perimeter that seems to be aimed at keeping civilians out, but a lot are trapped inside the line ..."
Just then, Underground saw there would be trouble. One of the big car dealerships had an overflow lot of inventory behind the convention center ... and every trunk popped open simultaneously. From each vehicle, easily a hundred behind a chain link fence, emerged a Rattlesnake -- seven foot tall robot soldiers built like linebackers without grace, mercy or the ability to surrender.
"Mount up, Defenders!" he yelled as the Rattlesnakes started shooting from gun barrels in their palms. He spun the W.A.R. Master's heavy roof gun and fired back as he saw the larger number of robots start marching on the garage.
In front of the convention center, Defenders helped usher civilians and the rare non-powered vigilante to safety inside behind the barricades as more fired at the Chrysos, managing to clip one of the forward sweeping wings on the jets and send it spiraling into the nearby Staples Center.
Inspector rolled up on a W.A.R. Dance next to the W.A.R. Fare and Flack yelled, "I knew you wouldn't even appreciate me backing your play!"
Inspector barked back, "I think you ... oh my god, what's that?"
They both looked at the street where manhole covers were flying from their places to see more Rattlesnakes climbing up from the sewer.
"Argue later, shoot now!" Flack yelled, gunning the van and plowing through three robots while the vehicle's roof opened to let a cannon/missile launcher combo emerge, blasting a clump of five Rattlesnakes making their way towards the door. All around the front of the building, Defenders in W.A.R. Masters zipped around fighting Rattlesnakes. A quartet of the robots got the drop on one of the jeeps and hurled it at another, creating a huge explosion on Figueroa just south of the Pico intersection.
Skywolf started raining down depleted uranium rounds at the waves of robots emerging from the sewers as Chrysos took lazy passes strafing the W.A.R. Masters, halving the DangerWatch numbers as Defenders inside the now shattered glass facade returned fire from their entrenched positions.
At that moment, the abandoned Hooters restaurant across Figueroa had its entire front fall to dust as two dozen Racers — single person motorcycle-like conveyances with machine guns and a propeller pad at each corner making them hover up to nine feet off the ground — and several hundred infantry styled Snake troopers vomited forth, spraying gunfire everywhere.
Just inside the convention center, Operator shouted into his walkie-talkie, "Taking heavy fire and casualties out here, dispatch! We need reinforcements!"
Part Three of "The Power Summit" Unlocks September 24, 2021Read Part 1 of 3
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