Desperate Measures

“I’ve never failed before.” Fixit continued to stare blankly while Arachnos’s Hand frantically attempted to douse the rising flames in his laboratory.

“Snap out of it! What kind of hero are you anyway?” Arachnos’s Hand turned his attention to Fixit when he decided it was obviously futile to fight the flames. “Look, you’re not well known enough to be worth more dead than alive to me right now. I may need you to get out of here.”

Fixit realized how hot it had been getting in the small room. Against his nature, and his better judgment, Arachnos’s Hand grabbed the stunned hero, pulled him from the burning room, and eventually led him from the complex entirely. Giving him a good right hook across the face, Arachnos’s Hand finally got through to Fixit.

“What the hell?” Fixit’s somber mood was suddenly dashed.

“You wouldn’t last a day here in the rouges.” Arachnos’s Hand spat at the hero. “This place is founded on trials by fire. If every person who didn’t make it the first time just gave up, there would be no Rogue Isles. Now cowboy up and get with the program. Your precious mission isn’t all lost, it just got more complicated.”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Fixit grunted. A villain was lecturing him, and was actually right to do so. This knowledge didn’t help his disposition.

“If I can’t have that technology,” Arachnos’s Hand caught the hero in his stare, “I don’t want anyone to. You now work for me. I want you to retrieve the good Doctor Munroe, and his technology. Moreover, I don’t want you to apprehend Emplate.”

“I’m sure as hell not letting him loose again.”

“I didn’t say to let him loose either.” Arachnos’s Hand looked knowingly at the hero in front of him.

“We’ll see,” Was Fixit’s only response.

“Good, the first thing we’ll need to do is get you more appropriately attired for accompanying me.”

“What?” Fixit was really beginning to hate this arrogant man.

“Well, despite his abilities, I would recommend body armor.” Maggie, Arachnos’s Hand’s personal stylist, spoke softly and smoothly. “What did you say your call name was again?”

“I didn’t.” Fixit practically spat at her.

“Well, isn’t he fussy?” Maggie eyed Arachnos’s Hand. “I don’t outfit strangers, you know this Arach. I recommend an attitude adjustment.” She scolded. “Again, what is your call name?”

Fixit looked at Arachnos’s Hand, glaring, he said,

“Wreckit.” he could practically hear the villain laughing.

“Ah, simple, bold, I like it.” Maggie bought into the lie. “We shall outfit you to match. Think swat team meets construction crew.” She dove into her closet, lined with fabrics of all textures and colors. Pulling out black Kevlar body armor, black cargo pants, a pair of goggles and a head covering mask, Maggie returned to Fixit and demanded he change immediately.

“Ok, I can understand body armor, but goggles?” Fixit felt ridiculous.

“Here,” Maggie grabbed at the side of his goggles. “Night vision. Very handy in those dark places. Besides, you need to hide your face don’t you?”

“I’ve never worn pants so tight.” Fixit complained.

“Suffer for fashion.” Arachnos’s Hand chimed in. “It’s great, put it on my tab Mag.” He turned back to Fixit, “Let’s go, we’ve got plenty of work ahead of us.”

“Arach,” Fixit asked, “That a familiar way to say your name?”

“Only my friends call me familiar.” Arachnos’s Hand responded.

“Whatever you say, ARACH” Fixit grinned.

“Let’s get this over with.” Arachnos’s Hand sighed.

Hours later, after having visited nearly every one of Arachnos’s Hand’s informants the two men were no closer to finding the wayward Emplate. Fixit had to admit, the costume he had acquired worked wonders for getting him around the Isles unnoticed. Fixit had done something he wasn’t sure any hero had ever accomplished, he had walked around in broad daylight on the rouge isles without being attacked or accosted. He was even beginning to accept the idea of keeping the suit, body armor may not be such a bad thing.

Arachnos’s Hand and Fixit were beginning to lose hope when the villain’s communicator came to life.

“That equipment you told me to keep an eye out for ARACH?” A voice crackled over the comm. device. The informant was a corrupt RIPD officer who liked to be called butch if Fixit remembered correctly.

“Can I get set up to meet this man as a buyer?” Arachnos’s Hand requested.

“Done and Done Arach, you meet in two hours. Roof of an abandoned warehouse on the edge of town here.” Butch gave the exact address of the building.

“Good,” the villain replied smoothly. “You didn’t tell him it was me asking did you?”

“No, of course not; he actually came to me. I told him I could probably dig up an interested buyer. He told me where and when.”

“Thank you Butch.” Arachnos’s Hand practically cooed as he hung up. “Here,” turning to Fixit, he handed him a small comm. device. “It’s an open channel, you can’t turn it off and you can’t hear my response. It will allow me to hear what goes on between you and Emplate so I can assess the situation then act accordingly.”

“I don’t like this arrangement at all.” Fixit told him plainly. “I’ll wear it, but if I tell you to do something, you’d better do it. And one more thing,” He caught the villain with an intense gaze, “I need a payphone.”

Fixit had learned his lesson, he wasn’t about to go into another dangerous situation with only a backstabbing villain behind him.

The time for the meting came quickly. Arachnos’s Hand hid within the building while Fixit, in disguise, approached Emplate. Timing had been planned precisely. Although Fixit would be able to approach without difficulty, if he wasn’t discovered once he was close, his voice would give him away.

Emplate waited on the appointed rooftop, near the termination of an elevator shaft. As Fixit approached, he couldn’t help but feel there was something wrong with this whole caper.

“I thought you might come.” Emplate snarled. “I brought some insurance.” Dragging the haggard scientist out from behind the elevator terminal, he continued. “But I think we can still make a deal.”

Fixit didn’t move. He seemed to be thinking to himself, his head lowered slightly. After several silent moments reminiscent of an old western showdown, Fixit raised his head.

“Ok, I’ll make a deal.” Fixit spoke as he approached the villain. “The city wants their scientist and his research back; they didn’t say they weren’t willing to pay for it.”

“Close enough hero.” Emplate’s voice scraped from his throat. “I don’t want you to think you can get close enough to start a fight.

“Fair enough,” Fixit calmed his voice, timing was everything. A muffled tune rang out, emanating from Fixit’s armored chest. “I’m sorry,” Fixit started, reaching for his phone, “didn’t realize it was still on.” Pulling his phone from his pocket, he deactivated the ring tone. One moment it was a harmless cell phone, the next it was a deadly missile aimed straight for Emplate’s head.

“Now!” Fixit shouted before the phone had even reached its target. It struck Emplate square in the forehead and shattered from the impact. Stunned, the villain did his best to back pedal away from his assailant, abandoning Dr. Munroe and the device. Fixit pressed his advantage and closed on Emplate.

Down below, Arachnos’s Hand had been waiting for a sign to enter the fray. He had heard what he had assumed was Emplate's voice, but the receiver hadn’t picked up enough to hear what had been said.

“Arachnos’s Hand,” Fixit’s voice broke quietly into his comm. link, “I have arranged for Emplate to take the fall for everything, you will be untouched for the crimes committed in the last few days. However, I need you to get Dr. Munroe out of here. The device is an experimental jetpack, I think. I will distract Emplate, but you need to get up here and take the scientist and the jetpack back to an entrance to Paragon. You double cross me and every one of your contacts I met today will begin to work for me and we will find you. Choose your actions wisely.”

“Well damn,” Arachnos’s Hand said to himself, “this is all so unexpected.”

“Count twenty seconds,” the voice returned over the link, “I need you to dial this number when you reach that count.” Arachnos’s Hand committed the number to memory; it appeared to him there was very little choice but to play along, for the time being.

Fixit’s rush on his enemy was halted abruptly when a blast of gravitational force struck him, sending him careening into a brick chimney and crashing to the ground. Not one to hesitate, he flung himself back into the fray with a spring born of mutant muscle mixed with desperation. Approaching his foe, Fixit could feel himself getting heavier with each footfall. Within moments, he was rooted in place.

“I have one more surprise for you.” Emplate rasped, pulling a small device from his boot, grinning. “It’s a detonator.” Fixit ceased his struggles, his attention now fully turned to his foe. “The whole building is wired to explode should I so desire.” His mind raced, he needed another missile weapon. Shy of taking off a boot and hurling it, he couldn’t find anything he could use to catch Emplate off guard. Fortunately, someone else did it for him. A lashing vine struck Emplate’s hand just a thunderous roar erupted from where Dr. Munroe had been.

A man in black leather and a red velvet lined cape stood strapped to the scientist’s device; in his arms he held fast Dr. Munroe. Light caused by the flaring thrusters reflected in clouds of smoke and exhaust. Within a heartbeat the two were gone, leaving Emplate to wonder how, and Fixit to hope Arachnos’s Hand would act according to his directions.

Fixit took full advantage of the opening left by Arachnos’s Hand and slammed into Emplate with a desperate fury. Fists, feet, knees and elbows assaulted the flustered villain with no apparent end. Blood poured from wounds, but still he fought to regain his concentration. A strike broke his left leg at the thigh, just above the knee and he dropped to the ground.

With the fight over, Fixit reached for his police transponder, figuring to send the villain back to the Zig, where he belonged. As soon as he let up his assault, he was blown off his feet by a blast of gravity so strong, it sent him off the roof, through the wall of a neighboring building.

Reaching deep within himself, searching for a reserve of strength, Emplate painfully dragged his broken leg and battered form across the roof of the warehouse. He struggled to focus with what was left of his one eye as it filled with fluid and swelled shut. Reaching out with a mangled hand, he found what he had searched for, the detonator. Pulling it close to his body, he waited for the inevitable return of the hero.

Fixit dug his way free of debris and rubble cause by the imploding wall. Groaning at the pain in his back, where he had hit the wall, he breathed a sigh of relief, knowing how much more it would have hurt without the armor he wore.

“Damnit,” He softly swore to himself. He knew Emplate was more dangerous than that. Regaining his bearings, he took a flying leap back towards the roof, hoping Emplate was still there so he could finish beating the insolence from him.

In a single bound he regained the rooftop. Catching his breath at the sight waiting for him there, Fixit swore out loud. Emplate lay, broken, in a growing pool of his own blood. Teeth were missing, his face was brutalized, hands broken, his left leg was shattered, bone protruding from the wound. There was a terrible sound emanating from the mass that had once been Emplate; it gurgled and screeched.

“Are you laughing?” Fixit asked the broken shell of a man, stunned. Emplate was unable to give any kind of verbal answer, instead he held up the detonator. If he was going to go, he would take his enemy with him. His eye nearly swollen shut, all he could see with his blurry vision was Fixit getting smaller and smaller as he blew away.

Fixit gathered the strength in his extraordinary legs and pushed off with all his might at the sight of the detonator. His leap sent him hundreds of yards into the air, aided by the heat from the blast. It wasn’t until he reached the pinnacle of his leap that he realized he would come down just as fast. As he fell back towards the burning warehouse, it seemed he was picking up even more speed.

Barely able to hold onto consciousness, Emplate wasn’t sure at first if really was Fixit that had re-entered his sight. He reached out with his powers more from instinct and habit than anything. It wasn’t until Fixit completely encompassed his field of vision that Emplate realized his mistake; he was directly under the hero.

Fixit hit the ground with a sickening crunch. His bones, and those belonging to the villain beneath him, were crushed. Managing to roll off the man beneath him, Fixit was astounded to realize that he was still alive!

“I wish you had died.” He croaked to the pulverized man. “Now I gotta find my own way home.” Reaching into the deep pockets of his pants, he removed the emergency hospital transceiver. Fixit may not have been a model hero in every sense of the word, but he was not about to let a man die on his watch; even if that man was a villain. Strapping it to what was left of his foe; he activated it, watching Emplate disappear in a cool blue light.

The building around him was burning; losing structural integrity with every second. Glass exploded, filling his unprotected skin with shards, biting like blood frenzied sharks.

“Shit.” He complained loudly to the burning building. Attempting to rise, he found his right side unwilling to move. Dragging his half-useless body over glass, rubble and embers, he made the door. Exiting into a back alley, he slithered off in search of a payphone.

“You’re always there when I really need you aren’t you?” He slurred into the phone when Medik answered. Delirious and somewhat giggly from loss of blood, Fixit found his situation rather humorous.

“Where are you?” Medik could tell by his voice that Fixit was seriously injured.

“I’m right here.” He stammered; giving what seemed to be a perfectly reasonable answer to a ridiculous question.

“Activate your signal, I’ll find you that way.”

“Nope, no good, I can’t activ’t… avact… turn on my signal. I broke it.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“What’s the address where you are? Can you see a street sign?” Medik sighed as his frustration built.

“No, no street sign, there’s a big burning warehouse. It blew up.”

“That crap on the news is you?” Medik called out incredulously, “I should have known. How in the hell did you get that far into the Rouge isles?”

“Sshhh,” Fixit berated, “I’m in disguise.” He chuckled into the phone. “Do you have a dime for the next three minutes?”

“Fixit, I’m on my way. Stay put.” Medik hung up and raced out immediately to rescue his imperiled friend. Running at speeds exceeding ninety miles per hour, he wasted no time with costumes or capes. Medik was running to rescue a friend.

“And Medik,” Fixit’s tone became far more serious as he spoke to the dead air, “hurry, if they find me like this I’m a dead man.”

Medik almost didn’t recognize Fixit between the disguise and the damage that had been done to him. The phone was hanging by the cord from the booth; Fixit lay in his own blood. He was still clinging to consciousness, leaning on the phone booth to keep upright. A mangled cigar hung from his lower lip, smoldering.

“My hero,” he coughed up at Medik.

“I still say those things are bad for you.” Medik responded, gingerly placing his hands on his friend, the radiation in his blood creating warm waves of energy which renewed the life flowing in Fixit’s body.

“Don’t you start with me,” Came Fixit’s gruff reply.

“Though Doctor Munroe says he never caught the name of the mysterious hero who saved him, he confirmed that the citizen of the Rouge Isles who brought him to the war walls of Sirens Call yesterday evening on the heels of a devastating explosion in Port Oakes was, in fact, a villain from that same area.”

Fixit hit the power button on the television.

“Damnit,” he looked over his shoulder at Medik on the couch, eying his friend menacingly. “Now the news is doing it. Did you know that a villain told me I wasn’t well known enough to be worth killing?”

“Yeah,” Medik scratched the back of his neck, “you did, three times.”

“Well, I’m just sayin’ we need to get out more, make ourselves known. We are heroes after all.” Fixit stuck a cigar in his mouth as he finished his sentence.

“Smoke that outside man.” Medik warned his friend.

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