FUTURE IMPERFECT
PART 5



POLICE HUNT FOR HERO’S KILLER
Heroine Wanted In Connection With Slaying

The hero, Iron Spike, was found dead earlier this morning in a remote section of the vast Sewer Network. While it would be easy to attribute the killing to the ever-present Vazhilok, preliminary evidence is suggesting otherwise.

“Dr. V has a reputation for harvesting heroes’ organs, and the victim was found intact, with no organs missing. He was, however, riddled with holes, and that leads us to suspect someone else.” said one police spokesman.

While reluctant to name names, the police have confirmed that their chief person of interest is a woman, specifically a superhero.

“We would like to handle this matter as quickly and as quietly as possible. We don’t want to upset either the superhero or civilian community. Prosecution of a hero is probably one of the messiest of public relations nightmares.” he added.

Those heroes who have an affiliation with the heroine have been contacted and are encouraged to relay as much information as possible.


As Edward read the article, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. The woman he had met last night was hiding something, but he could not tell exactly what. If he hadn’t been drinking, he would have been able to make that determination, and perhaps even manipulate her into telling. All he knew was that she was there as more than Sara Shaughnessy.

He wondered if she had been the superhero Draco had been ranting about after the party. Being drained after a night of crowd control, a little too much champagne and an emotional blast that threatened to rip his mind apart, the last thing Edward wanted to do was read Draco’s feelings. He had put up his mental shielding and called it a night; and now part of him wished he had been there to try to get things under control. Maybe this wouldn’t have happened, but deep down he knew that if it didn’t happen to this unknown superhero, it would have happened to whomever had gotten in Draco’s way.

Unless, of course, you try to strike a deal, came his conscience. Quickly he suppressed the twinge of guilt he felt about joining himself to Draco. It was either that or he would kill my family, he told himself. You did what you had to do.

He sighed heavily. Every so often, he found himself thinking about how he would be able to free himself and Bianca from Draco’s vise-like grip. He had come close to doing it a year ago. Draco responded by having Delilah, Bianca’s daughter, taken away to an undisclosed location. Not even Draco knew where, lest Bianca attempt to read his mind and find out. It appeared that no one knew anything about her whereabouts, and it was going to stay that way for as long as Draco wanted.

Edward looked at a monitor on his counter; he could see that Kirk was up and moving.

Good, he thought. Maybe he could tell me what I would like to know.


Draco looked at the headlines, skimmed the article and grinned broadly. He looked at his two enforcers, both of whom stared at him without expression behind their sunglasses.

“You boys din’t have nothin’ to do with this, right?” he asked as he grabbed a donut.

“No, sir. We used the guy you recommended.”

“Good, ‘cause I’d hate to see you’s thrown in jail. I’m surprised they found the body, though. I prefer the ‘without a trace’ scenario myself.” he said as he wolfed down his breakfast.

“Well, you said to make sure they found it. That way they’d be lookin’ for that girl.”

Draco nodded in agreement as he snagged another donut. Things were developing even better than he had planned; The Family was going to make millions, that annoying pest Bluedragon was dead, his killer was also dead, and another super framed for the murder. What had originally been a mole at the Paragon City Department of Superheroes led to the acquisition of Kirk and his phenomenal abilities. Things couldn’t possibly go wrong.


It was midmorning when Draco received the phone call. What started as a calm conversation quickly erupted into the man completely losing his cool, screaming into the phone at whomever was on the other end. Bianca sat at her desk and calmly ignored it. Draco’s temper was legendary; and very few survived the explosive blast. She wished Edward was here, he could always control Draco when his temper flared. She sighed heavily.

Slamming the phone down, Draco walked back towards her, eyes flashing in anger.

“Who was that?”

“I’ve just been notified that someone has been asking around at City Hall about Bluedragon and Iron Spike.”

“So?”

“I’m not gonna go into it. It’s somethin’ I gotta take care of.” He grabbed his jacket. “I told Louie that you get to visit your kid today. He’s gonna take you to her around noon.”

The announcement left Bianca speechless; this was the first time she would see her daughter in months. “Thank you.” she managed to stammer out.

He shrugged and left.


Close to an hour later, the group met back at the house. Xandria, JD and Evan had been out looking for Sara, while Jon and Flora took care of matters at City Hall.

“We told the police to take a good look at the stab wounds on Iron Spike before they cremated the body.” Flora began. “They’re still doing analysis on them right now.”

“Why would they cremate the body?” JD asked.

“That way it won’t get used by groups like the Vazhilok or the Banished Pantheon. Bodies of fallen heroes make strong undead soldiers.” explained Jon.

“Oh.”

“What we found out about Iron Spike was this; he was starting to have all kinds of personal trouble, specifically, a gambling debt running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Flora resumed. “Guess who it was owed to?”

Everyone nodded knowingly.

“So how does this fit in with Bluedragon’s death?”

“Well, remember last October, he took off for Chicago in a rush? He has family there, but we could find nothing about them. Also, as it turns out, after the Rikti invasion, Chicago’s governmental infrastructure collapsed, and The Family quickly filled the void. Suffice to say, The Windy City is theirs now.” she explained.

“Um…I still don’t see how this fits in.”

“I don’t know either, JD. That’s why you’re going there to find out.”

“Huh? Me?” he seemed stunned.

“Aw, man! Why him?” Evan protested.

“This wasn’t an easy decision, but here’s why.” Jon began. “Since The Family runs Chicago, they have effectively banned all superheroes. Actually, they hunt them down. Anyone who looks different is immediately targeted, so Flora is out. Xandria is pregnant, and can’t fly, Evan is still in school.”

“You like to micromanage, and won’t go.” Xandria quipped. Flora suppressed a giggle.

“Basically, you look the most normal of the group.” Jon continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “You could fly in and get the information you need on what happened out there with little trouble.”

“Provided you don’t show off.” Flora added.

“Since when do I show off?” he asked innocently.

“Since we’ve known you.”

“I asked Director Davies about a contact, and he said he would make a phone call for you.” Flora said. “This will not be as easy as it sounds, though. It was difficult getting any information on Bluedragon’s family.”

“So, when do I leave?” JD asked.

Jon slapped a plane ticket onto the table. “Tonight.”


As Sara stepped out of the shower at her apartment, she threw a huge robe on. She had heard the reports that the man she wanted to question was dead. Hardly a coincidence, she thought. Dead men tell no tales, after all.

What bothered her more was that the police were suspecting her, or at least calling her a person of interest. David had left her a voicemail on her cell saying as much, but she didn’t want to talk to him at this point. In fact, all she wanted was a quiet place to gather her thoughts after a night of hunting.

As she slumped in her chair with a cup of coffee, the phone rang. Not wanting to get up and answer it, she listened to the incoming message.

“Sara? Sara? Are you there? It’s Xandria.” Long pause. “Ok, you’re not there. We’re trying to get the police off your back, so give us a call as soon as you can, ok? Jon suggested you stay out of any zones where you’d have to swipe your badge, that way you won’t tip off the cops as to your location.”

Sara suddenly grabbed the phone.

“I’m doing that already.” she replied.

“What are you doing at your place?”

“I needed a place to think.”

“You know it looks bad for you then. The police were here earlier, asking questions. But since you weren’t here all last night, we couldn’t provide an alibi for you. What happened?”

“I woke up in the middle of the night and went out.” Sara replied.

“Out where?”

“Out.”

“JD is leaving for Chicago tonight to find out what he can on Bluedragon. We could find very little about him or Iron Spike.”

“Same here, and I even talked to him.”

“WHAT?!?!” Xandria yelled. Her voice quieted down to a little above a whisper. “You had contact with the victim prior to his death? You know that looks even worse for you.”

“I suppose it does.”

“Sara…you didn’t do anything, did you?”

“I thought he might have the answers I was looking for. He was a little less than willing to talk, so I had to use a little force.”

“Sara, this is looking very bad.” Xandria cautioned.

“He told me that he had a lot of debt, but fighting Bluedragon and causing his death cleared it. I went crazy, but I left him there in Prometheus Park very much alive and well.”

“And no one saw you?”

“I wasn’t looking for witnesses. How was I supposed to know he’d be dead later?”

Another pause. “Look, maybe you should lay low for a day or two. Don’t go out as Solanum. Do some shopping or something.”

“I want to know why the Family killed Bluedragon.”

“Who doesn’t, Sara? Are you going to be staying in Founder’s Falls?”

“Probably for the next two days or so.”

“Ok. We’ll give you a call when JD gets back. Be careful, Sara.”

“Don’t worry, Xandria, I’ll be fine.” With that, she hung up. She thought back to her conversation with Iron Spike.

For all his size, the big man proved to be a very fast runner; and had he gone deeper into the sewers, he would have lost her. But what really surprised Sara was the ease with which she defeated him. After being slapped around for a few minutes, he begged her to stop, and told her everything he knew.

In Sara’s mind, he seemed more like one of the Contaminated, or even one of The Lost; completely out of his mind. She wondered if he had been addicted to something; his behavior was completely erratic.

After getting the information she needed, she left the groveling hero sobbing in the smelly water. Right before exiting the place, she thought she heard him yell out, and a strong, cold breeze came out from the tunnels. Not wanting to know, she left the sewers for her apartment.
CONTINUE >
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