The Messenger: Supernatural (Chapter Three)
Presenting original in-universe fiction from The Line. This series focuses on the team's resident fanboy The Messenger, and is set slightly before he is invited to join the team, battling the menace of Breathtaker.
Read Chapter One
Read Chapter Two
WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME
Newhaus straddled a stool at the circular bar that dominated Boobs (the logo, a goofy guy in a propeller beanie hugging a busty blonde and vapidly smiling waitress, had the words "with prices like these, we must be stupid!" beneath it) and before long had received six hugs from white-and-purple-clad servers. He asked the short redhead Jenna (who already knew he wanted the smoked ahi on rye with fries and a Coke) how she liked the weather difference since she'd moved from New Hampshire, but before she could answer, the statuesque brunette Lindsey pouted that Newhaus hadn't fixed her laptop, and her boyfriend was ignoring her ever since the new Madden came out. Nate stared into Lindsey's perfectly heart shaped face, absently noticing the rise and fall of her mountainous breasts, and smiled happily.
Across the street, in the alley next to The United Kingdom, there were no smiles. Rasmussen and Reagan sat in a black Jaguar XJ, the engine idling so quietly that it was like a kitten purring.
"I don't know if this is a good idea, hitting them in the same exact location we almost got busted last time ..." Rasmussen said.
"If your ideas were any good, you wouldn't be licking my boots," Reagan said tiredly, never even glancing Rasmussen's way.
You don't wear boots, you damned pretty boy, Rasmussen thought, but simply said, "Coy Tranh's nephews run that Animotion toy store, just on the other side of the Wherehouse. Why not hit them at home? Why make a show of things?"
Reagan nodded, laying out his simple mask. "Keep the car running," he said.
"You're just ..." Rasmussen started.
"You keep the car running," Reagan said, his voice deeper with menace. "I send the messages. This is how we do it." He clicked on on the mask that covered his face and climbed out of the Jaguar.
His tanned skin shining in the bright daylight, Reagan walked confidently east on Santa Monica Boulevard, escrima sticks in hand, and shoved the door to the toy store open.
Back at Boobs, Newhaus nodded at whatever it was Lindsey was saying, but a flash of motion over her shoulder caught his eye. A diminutive Asian man in a Megatron t-shirt was defenestrated forcefully, thrown so hard through the large plate glass window that he almost landed in the street. Several people at the front of the restaurant rose and made sounds of alarm, and Lindsey turned slowly, her dull eyes slowly comprehending.
Rasul! Newhaus thought quickly, shoving his laptop into his bag. We've got a situation! Nate then mentally sent the image he'd seen to his friend.
Crap on a stick, came back Justice's reply shortly, broadcasting on the special electromagnetic frequency they discovered that Newhaus could effortlessly hear but that was uncommon. Run to the bathroom, stash your bag in a stall and suit up, I'll come grab it. You should be able to get out in the distraction.
Good idea, Newhaus thought back.
Moments later, Newhaus had found his costumed way through the open emergency exit (often used by waitresses to enjoy a quick cigarette) and made his way to the sky. He flew in to hover in front of the open window, and saw Reagan -- who he knew as Breathtaker from the famed Santa Monica Boulevard Rampage in this exact same spot some weeks before.
This guy has got to be smokin' that stuff ... Justice chuckled.
Well, he's in for a surprise this time! Messenger thought back. Glancing around, Messenger noticed the metal bench at the bus stop. With a thought, he effortlessly disassembled the bench -- unscrewed bolts and straight planks of metal, all which danced in mid-air before him. Grinning beneath his helmet, Messenger watched them fly inside the store.
Breathtaker once again held the lean, baseball-cap wearing Jimmy Tranh by the throat, the smaller man's back against a Ryu poster, a wet spot on the front of his pants and his feet dangling frantically.
"Where were we, before we were so rudely interrupted?" he asked, his words a dagger's edge.
Just then the flying cloud of metal came into sight, with three bars flying between Breathtaker and Tranh. Quickly, one held Tranh in place as the other two smacked hard against Breathtaker, tossing him back into one of the display cases, shattering the glass and sending Constructicons flying everywhere.
Floating in, his cape fluttering behind him and the remaining bench metal floating around him in a slow orbit, Messenger said, "Let's do this a little differently this time."
Breathtaker growled, glancing around. With barely any indication, he leapt into the air from his seated position, tossing four Constructicons (two Scrappers, a Long Haul and a Mixmaster) as he did. One lodged itself into the gaping mouth of a terrified female customer, two more whacked a blond toddler in the ankle so hard it forced a scream as he fell down grasping the limb. The last one landed close to the door, seemingly just tossed away.
Breathtaker alighted on top of one of the display cases while Messenger floated closer to the woman with the Transformer in her mouth, slowly pulling at the metal in the toy to bring it forth. Breathtaker pulled three crossbow bolts from the back of his belt and hurled them at Messenger, then jumped towards the far wall.
Heads up, Justice's voice came through the noise of the burglar alarm and the street noise. Messenger looked up and saw the bolts coming his way, but felt no metal in them he could stop. Desperately, he swung his hand, bringing the remaining metal planks instinctively into play, smacking down the projectiles. However, he didn't see Breathtaker bounce off the floor, back off the near wall next to the Ryu poster and fly towards him from behind.
Breathtaker's kick connected with the back of Messenger's neck, between the helmet and his uniform, and he went down to the ground suddenly, his face smashed into the last Constructicon lying on the floor. Grunting, Messenger reluctantly felt for the metal in the cash register and used his powers to fling it at Breathtaker. Seeing this coming, Breathtaker dodged, but couldn't foresee the barrage of Shogun Warriors that pelted him from multiple directions. Holding his arms up and looking for a way out, the cash register circled around and dropped on Breathtaker's head powerfully.
"Like I said, this time, we do this my way!" Messenger said, barrelling into Breathtaker at top speed and smashing the man against the wall.
Bad move, Nate, Justice's voice said in his ear, and suddenly he realized why. Despite being dazed, Breathtaker fought on, pounding at Messenger's uniform, looking for soft spots and pressure points. Messenger flew suddenly aloft, carrying Breathtaker with him, until the latter man was smashed into the ceiling through the soft paneling. Messenger took that opportunity to separate himself from Breathtaker.
Distance attacks, Justice transmitted. You're a ranged weapon. You have no invulnerability and remarkable offensive capacities, like Vader on Star Wars: Epic Duels. Use that to your advantage. The closer he gets, the more likely he's gonna kill you. Do you really want me driving around in your car?
Breathtaker managed to land in a crouch, holding his head, which had a trickle of blood coming from the rear of his scalp. "What's your f***in' problem, Messenger?" he yelled. "Why do you have to keep getting in my way?"
"That's what super heroes do, moron," Messenger replied smugly, noting the sound of sirens approaching and still unsuccessfully trying to cloud Breathtaker's thoughts. "Your ride's coming ..."
A low growl came from Breathtaker, who glanced around, seemed to make a decision, and leapt towards the door. Tracking him with his eyes, Messenger mentally reached for the remnants of the bench but froze when he saw what the villain had planned.
Near the door, a teenager had fallen and lay face down. Carefully, Breathtaker whipped out another one of his damnable plastic crossbow bolts and slowly inserted it into the boy's side.
"I just put this dangerously close to this kid's lung, 'super hero,'" Breathtaker said, his own breathing ragged. "You can keep dancing with me, or you can save somebody. Your call."
Without another word, Breathtaker turned and leapt out of the open window. Cursing, Messenger manuevered the metal bars of the bench carefully under the boy and lifted him into the air. Together, they flew out the window and towards the UCLA hospital on 16th. Growling, Breathtaker dashed out the door and leapt into the waiting Jaguar, which peeled out rapidly.
THAT REALLY HURT
By the time the Messenger floated down to the corner of 17th and Arizona, Justice had pulled up in the convertible. Exhausted, the caped hero landed in the seat and his friend gunned the engine, zipping away before anyone could really see what had happened. Hopefully.
"Meh, I didn't wanna sing that much tonight anyway ..." Justice joked, zipping into a wide alleyway near a construction site a block away. "Get that damned helmet off and take off the jacket. You'll actually look less conspicuous as a beaten-up white guy."
Breathing heavily, Newhaus took off the helmet and laid it between his knees. Grimacing, with pinpoints of blood and bruising along his arms, he got the jacket off as well.
"Good enough," Justice nodded. "Now, I need to get us somewhere we can get you fully changed in private, away from cameras and what not. I know McGallagher's not home and his garage is open, so let's head down to Culver City."
"Long way to go ... for a wardrobe change," Newhaus said weakly, battered from the ordeal.
"Security before convenience, function before form," Justice returned, easily reciting one of his many mottos. "Hang tight, pal, we'll get you taken care of."
The car pulled down to the other end of the alley and eased into traffic.
"I've got all these powers," Newhaus said forlornly, "and I got taken out by a guy who's basically Vega from Street Fighter. His thoughts were like sand, I couldn't catch 'em ..."
Sighing, Justice replied, "First of all, you didn't get taken out. You gave as good as you got, and you saved a kid's life. That's something to be proud of. Second of all, you're gonna lose sometimes. All heroes do. But a stone cold killer walked into that store and everybody in there's gonna live to see tomorrow. With more practice, you'll do even better. Like, say, using your powers on him from outside of the store and not having such a melodramatic confrontation in an enclosed space."
Newhaus chuckled at that, wincing at pain in his torso as he did. "You are always telling me I need space to operate, and that I don't have to actually talk to the bad guys."
Justice laughed and said, "That's right, Bendis, you can kick their butts and never have them know how it happened. Flying garbage can lid, pow! Fight's over."
Newhaus protested at being called Bendis, asking if he could at least be Judd Winick as they made their way towards Sepulveda and a southerly direction.
Meanwhile, on the I-10 freeway, Reagan seethed as Rasmussen navigated the Jaguar through early commuters.
"My uncle Paulie always said vendettas were bad for business anyway," Rasmussen offered finally, slicing through the quiet like the announcement of an audit showing up on your honeymoon. "There's tons of ways we can do business and never run into this mook ..."
"I will kill him," Reagan said quietly, almost dreamily, as he stared out the window, mask on his lap and chin resting on bloody knuckles.
Rasmussen frowned and said, "Uh ... I was just thinking that ..."
"One more word before we get back to the loft, and I'll kill you too," Reagan said with all the serenity of a Shaolin monk.
Rasmussen's mouth snapped shut with an audible sound, and he focused on moving the car as quickly as possible towards downtown.