Changing the Rules
alarm went off that morning at six o’clock. Fixit couldn’t reach over
and hit the snooze bar fast enough to suit his pounding hangover.
Banging a clumsy hand on the snooze, he realized a better course of
action was to kill his tormentor, and unplugged the clock. Figuring
the radio station must have been running one of their promotions,
Fixit thought little of the manic voice on the air; he only caught
a couple of words, but it didn’t sound like normal broadcasting. Any
further thought on the issue was quickly swept away by the urge to
crash back into unconsciousness.
Rising from his broken rest when
he damn well felt like it, he grabbed the same blue jeans from the
day before, the cleanest of his dirty t-shirts and his black leather
jacket. Knowing he had spent time debating on the merits of actually
cleaning and managing his hair, made him feel better about donning
a yellow bandanna instead. Fixit knew there was more work to do than
could be accomplished in a day; and was hurried that morning riding
his motorcycle to the shop. Between the remnants of his hangover and
his driving urge to get into his business to get work done, Fixit
didn’t even notice several billboards had been vandalized with a picture
of a rook.
If Fixit had any say in the matter, it was to be a regular
work day. No time for heroics, Fixit Auto body had too many cars to
finish repairs on for antsy customers. John placed a rather curt sign
on his door stating to every customer; bothering him, slowed the labor
on all the cars in the shop; he locked himself in and got to work.
For a few hours at least, John Fix was able to enjoy being a normal
body man. He had two cars prepped for paint, and one that had just
dried and was ready to put back together.
Right around noon, his work
was interrupted by a rumbling on the south wall. A steady pounding
shook the whole building, and took Fixit’s attention away from his
vehicle. Within a breath, mortar crumbled and the cinderblocks, forming
the exterior wall went crashing into the shop space. Dust flew onto
a freshly primed car, ruining the primer and creating more work for
the struggling repair man.
“What the hell?” Fixit started as two giant
snowmen came crashing into the shop. “You two picked the wrong damn
shop on the wrong damn day.” He snarled, calmly setting down his air
ratchet. Fixit stalked across the shop only to be pounded by a huge
snowy fist and knocked through the windshield of the car on which
he was just finishing his repairs. “That’s yer last free shot!” he
roared, leaping into action. He caught the first attacker with a flying
roundhouse that took his head clean off. The second abomination proved
to be a bit more resilient, but between the heat from several huge
radiant heaters overhead and a relentless pummeling from the body
man turned hero; the snowman fell, reduced to a puddle of slush.
took stock of the damaged wall and vehicle, considering himself lucky
that the entire building hadn’t come down. He contacted the police
as well as his insurance company; he had to make sure the building
wouldn’t come down while he went to find out what had been going on
in his city.
“About time you got off your ass.” Medik admonished,
answering his phone.
“What’s going on?” Fixit asked.
“How could you
have missed it? It’s been all over the radio and the news, some nut
calling he the Gamester is wreaking havoc all over town. I can’t talk
now, just follow the beacon signal to where we are; even Red Sniper
has come out of hiding for this.”
“Great,” Fixit thought out loud,
looking around at the mess that so recently had been his shop, “there
goes any hope of getting my work done.” He wheeled his motorcycle
into the office, hoping it would be safer there, opposed to being
on the streets. Once the police had documented the scene and left
to aid at other, less fortunate sites of destruction; Fixit took off
towards the direction indicated on his beacon.
When he found them,
Medik and Red Sniper were pressed in an alley filled with abominable
“Let ‘em have it Red!” Medik gave the order just as Fixit
dropped from the rooftops. The burst of flame that emanated from Red
Snipers weapon washed over friend and foe alike, and Fixit dove straight
into the snowmen for cover from the searing heat. Using the flame
thrower out in the open was dangerous and a huge liability. Any accident
with the fire could cause major trouble for the super heroes, though
in this instance it was certainly justified. The snowmen, it appeared,
were no match for a flamethrower.
“So,” Fixit asked dropping a wet,
ruined cigar from his mouth and lighting a new, fresh one, “do we
have a plan?”
“Keep melting ‘em.” Came red Sniper’s reply, muffled
through the hyper mesh he wore over the lower portion of his face.
Fixit looked his two friends over; the three of them appeared about
as far from an organized group as three people could.
a white flak jacket with a red shirt underneath and a red cross on
his chest. His baggy pants with red stripes were tucked into his white
combat boots and his tech helmet with goggles allowed him to communicate
much more freely than Fixit did with his hand held unit.
wore a similar outfit in red and black; red flack jacket, red fingerless
gloves, black and red camouflage pants tucked into black combat boots.
What made Red Sniper really different from Medik was his anonymity.
Nobody, not even Medik or Fixit knew what he looked like under the
red cycloptic targeting visor and hyper mesh he wore over his face.
For a short moment, Fixit felt a twinge of envy for those full time
super heroes who had matching uniforms and high tech secret bases.
There was little time for wishing however. Medik filled Fixit in on
the strange radio broadcast that morning and the strange presents
that had been appearing all over town. The three men had work to do.
Medik, Fixit and Red Sniper spent several hours cleaning up the city
from the Gamesters dread packages. Despite the order from police and
city hall to turn in any suspicious packages found, people had been
opening them. To all appearances, those gifts carrying valuables were
kept, but people had fled from those carrying less desirable contents.
“This is getting us nowhere.” Fixit mused, wiping his brow. There
seemed to be no end of the wintery creatures unleashed upon the city.
Fixit had even seen a young hero open a present and dash away when
it summoned three abominable snowmen.
“I’m having a good time.” Red
Sniper quipped back.
“Next group we come on,” Fixit shot back, “you
lead the charge and I’ll shoot bullets and fire over your shoulder.”
“How about giving your friend Emplate a visit over at the hospital?”
Medik suggested. “It seems to me that he may know something about
this, being an underworld operative himself.”
“That’s the smartest
thing I’ve heard all day.” Fixit agreed to Red Snipers Dismay.
about you go to Emplate alone?” Red Sniper suggested, “That way, Medik
and I can keep cleaning up the streets while you get fresh information.
Besides I’m pretty sure you can handle a man in a body cast by your
self.” Eager for action, Red Sniper was reluctant to leave the mean
streets to go flap gums; it was the thrill of the hunt he wanted.
“Much as I hate to admit it, he makes sense.” Medik admitted.
had to take a train to get from Independence Port, to Talos Island,
where Emplate was in the hospital; still recovering from their last
encounter. While en route, his phone rang.
“Fixit? Is this the hero
that goes by the name Fixit?” A female voice asked into the line.
“Who’s askin’,” Came the gruff reply. The voice sounded familiar to
him, but he couldn’t place it.
“It is you Fixit!”
“Who is this?” he
“It’s Lindsay, the reporter you rescued not long ago. I guess
you probably do a lot of that, so maybe you don’t remember…”
he cut her off.
“Well, I just got word about a Fixit Auto body shop
being attacked earlier by some of those snow monsters released by
those packages all around town. I know I’m a reporter, and not a hero
like yourself, but if I can help any way, I wanted to give you my
number. I care about this city too, even if I don’t have any super
“I appreciate that,” Fixit sighed, “but I have no idea what’s
going on here. I missed the radio spot this morning, I’ve been fighting
snowmen all day; I’m tired, sore, a little singed and kind of in a
bad mood all around.” Fixit stopped for a second, she did want to
help, and he could use any contacts he could make. Thinking better
of telling her off, he decided to accept her offer. “If I get any
clues, I’d be happy to relay them to you for a story or whatever you
call it, but I need to find out what the hell is going on here.”
maybe this will help you.” Lindsay purred, “It seems there is a school,
Sussex Academy, known to be a place for ‘super children’.”
Fixit was losing patience, even if this woman was good looking. “and?”
“And it looks like the student body up and left the school this morning.
Even more intriguing is their reappearance as the suspected culprits
in a huge theft from Van Briesbock’s.”
“Van Briesbock’s the diamond
exchange?” Fixit asked, stunned.
“One and the same,” Lindsay replied,
“think it’s all related?”
“Thanks for the tip Lindsay I’ll call you
when I have some answers for you. Let me know if your office turns
anything up.” Fixit ended the call and made another.
“Medik, I need
you to go to Sussex Academy. … No, I don’t know where it is, get a
damn phonebook. … Look, the student body is missing and it seems they
might have turned up as the suspects in a robbery from, get this,
Van Briesbock’s. … Well tell Red to stop shooting things and help
you out with it.” Fixit slammed his phone shut, then silently reprimanded
himself. He had been going through phones too quickly lately; his
budget had gotten tight enough without buying three phones a month.
There were two guards waiting in Emplate’s hospital room when Fixit
“Excuse me gentlemen,” Fixit tried to sound official, but
felt foolish in his lack of super attire. “I need to speak with this
man alone for a few moments.”
“That can’t happen.” An overweight guard
stammered out. “Regulations require that a prisoner of the state,
even incapacitated, must be kept under constant surveillance. Besides
he’s sleeping now.”
“Wake him up then.” Fixit snapped back, “But I
need to be alone with him for just a minute. You can wait outside.”
The other guard gave Fixit a knowing look.
“I’m sure you have a good
reason to want to speak with our prisoner alone but what’s in it for
us?” Reaching for his wallet, Fixit responded to the open invitation.
“You guys do realize that you’re robbing a man of his lunch for the
next couple of weeks, right?” Fixit grumbled as he handed over a hundred
dollar bill to the guards.
“Three minutes.” The overweight guard answered
as he and his partner left the room.
Fixit wasted no time. He thumped
Emplate’s left leg cast calling out to him.
“Wake up time.” He grinned
down at the broken man in the hospital bed. “I need information.”
Emplate let out a shallow moan, nearly his entire body was covered
in casts and bandages from head to toe. Fixit wasn’t sure what Emplate
mumbled in response, but he thought it sounded an awful lot like “Go
“That wasn’t very nice.” Fixit said, grabbing Emplate’s
shattered nose between his knuckles. “I need to know what you can
tell me about a guy who calls himself the Gamester.” Again, Emplate’s
reply was a muffled muttering, but it wasn’t flattering. Tightening
his grip on Emplate’s nose and twisting just a bit he drew a rasping
scream from his broken foe, he also drew a little blood from the shattered
“I know you were a well connected man in the Rouge
Isles, Emplate; Give me a name; give me anything you have.” Between
the pulling, twisting and tight pressure on the man’s broken nose,
he decided it would be wise to simply give up any information that
might help his antagonist before Fixit became angry; however, he needed
to protect himself as well from retaliation back on the Rouge Isles.
With a jerking gesture, Emplate drew Fixit’s ear closer to his mouth.
Emplate’s rasping whisper was only four words; hearing them, Fixit’s
eyes opened wide with disbelief.
Fixit sprang from the hospital room,
ignoring the shouts from the guards he had hit with the doors on his
way out. Bursting out from the hospital, he dialed a number on his
“Lindsay… Listen, we have to act fast, this is big.”