by Starsky Hutch 76
The Suicide Squad strolled through the marketplace in plain clothes, trying to blend in. For most of the team, it wasn’t a problem. The streets were a mixture of various ethnicities. Odysseus and Agent Liberty wore hoods to try to hide their features, because caucasian men stood out in an area rarely frequented by tourists. Doctor Trap went one step further and used a scarf to hide his metal jaws. Baby Boom was wrapped in swaddling clothes and carried by a veiled Penny Dreadful.
“Keep your eyes peeled,” Agent Liberty said. “Our agent in the field is supposed to make contact with us here.”
The marketplace was a jungle of exotic smells, sights, and sounds. Anything could be bought or sold here. It made Karnage wish he could split up from the group for a while. It gave Odysseus an uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu.
A breeze blew by, and a fold of the blanket moved, revealing Babe’s face. A filthy man quickly ran up to Penny Dreadful and said, “How much for the child?”
“What?!” Penny exclaimed, horrified.
“How much for the fair-skinned child you hold in your arms? I give you good money!”
Before Penny could say anything, there was a small explosion in the back of his hay wagon, setting it ablaze. He let out a cry and ran over to the wagon, quickly slapping at the fire with a blanket. Then he turned to a man smoking a cheroot and slapped him in the head, thinking him the one responsible.
“Damn, Penny. You weren’t quick enough,” Arak laughed. “It’s not like we couldn’t use the money.”
“Har-har,” Baby Boom said from inside the blanket. “If we’re that broke, maybe we could sell you as an air conditioner. As hot as it is around here, we could probably get a good price.”
“Knock it off,” Agent Liberty barked, hurrying them along. “Penny, keep her covered! Babe, save your explosions for the enemy.”
The Squad continued on, trying to avoid merchants as well as any interested buyers. They were mostly successful, except for those interested in the women or for hiring the enormous Odysseus for labor.
They were beginning to see the end of the marketplace and thought the exhausting ordeal over with when a dancing girl suddenly appeared in front of Karnage.
“All right,” Karnage said, grinning lasciviously at the olive-skinned beauty. “This alone is worth the price of the trip.” He began moving with her to the sound of the music. He put his hands on her hips and pulled her to him, dirty dancing style, and then began sliding them behind her.
“Would you mind getting your hands off my ass?” she said sharply, in perfect English.
“Oh, great. Now I’ve even got dancing girls rejecting me,” Karnage said.
“I’m not a dancing girl,” she snapped. The Arabic features of her face began to ripple and then part, revealing fair skin and blond hair before changing back. “Don’t worry. You were the only one who saw that,” she told him. “The name is Marcie Cooper.”
“You’re white!” Karnage exclaimed.
“And you’re black. So what?” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck as she continued to gyrate sexily, like the dancer she was pretending to be.
“I don’t have a problem with it, if you don’t,” he said, bringing his face closer to hers.
“Neither do I,” she said, bringing her finger up to his lips. “But let’s save that sort of thing until after the mission.” She nodded toward Agent Liberty and said, “Tell the boss man over there that what we’re looking for is going to surface on the docks by the east side of town tomorrow night. Rumanji’s agents are going to be picking up their delivery then.”
“I’ll tell him,” Karnage said. “You know, I could really go for a girl like you.”
“Well, they don’t call me Spellbinder for nothing,” she said flirtatiously, lightly touching the side of his face. Then, as suddenly as she had appeared, she was gone.
“I take it that was our contact,” Agent Liberty said, walking up beside him.
“I think I’m in love!” Karnage laughed.
“You’d be amazed how many times I’ve heard that since she’s started working for us,” Liberty said.
From a safe distance, the Suicide Squad watched the docks on the outskirts of the capitol city of Qurac. They were spread out over a wide area to give themselves the greatest range of surveillance.
“See anything yet?” Vixen asked Agent Liberty over her communicator.
“Nothing yet,” he said, lowering his binoculars to answer her.
“A black sedan is pulling up,” Odysseus said, gazing toward the docks without the aid of surveillance equipment.
“You can see that far?” Vixen said in amazement.
Agent Liberty quickly lifted his binoculars to his eyes. “He’s right!” Two men stepped out of the sedan. “It’s Rumanji’s agents. Everyone move in slowly… one hundred paces.”
Each member of the Suicide Squad advanced their position toward the enemy agents. They braced themselves for the coming conflict.
Suddenly, Carcharo’s submarine, the Leviathan, surfaced in the distance and began to move toward the pier. “It’s him,” Agent Liberty said grimly.
“What do you want us to do?” Vixen asked.
“Wait for my signal. Nobody moves until I give the word. Let him come in closer.”
As soon as the enormous submarine was close enough, a ramp came out to meet the pier. Two armored women — Carcharo’s Remoras, or shark-suckers, called Rema and Mora — walked down the ramp to meet the two men; each of them held onto the handle of a large trunk. When they approached the men, they exchanged words, and one of the women leaned down to open the chest. Inside was a bound and gagged Senator Neptune Perkins.
“What are they saying?” Agent Liberty asked, watching Carcharo’s henchwomen and and Rumanji’s agents as they conversed over the trunk that contained Senator Perkins.
“They’re discussing the financial terms of the exchange,” Odysseus said, listening in with his enhanced senses. “At a later date, they plan to fake a rescue after he has been brainwashed into complying. If his conditioning doesn’t work, he won’t survive said rescue.”
“That isn’t going to happen,” Agent Liberty said, lowering his binoculars. He lifted his communicator and said, “Everyone! Attack now!”
Carcharo’s armored henchwomen turned in alarm as the ramp leading back to the Leviathan suddenly exploded.
“Nice work, Babe,” Penny Dreadful said.
Rumanji’s dark-suited agents began firing wildly at the approaching Suicide Squad. Agent Liberty charged forth to intercept the path of the bullets, which bounced harmlessly off his impervious hide. “Looks like I’ll have to requisition another uniform, thanks to you guys,” he said, backhanding the gunman and knocking him unconscious.
Karnage struck the hand of the other gunman with his electrified whip. Currents of electricity went through the gunman, which not only made him drop the gun, but electrocuted him.
“I thought I told you to set that thing for stun,” Agent Liberty said.
“Guess I forgot,” Karnage said, grinning at the smoking form.
The submarine quickly started its engines and took off in the other direction. Odysseus took to the air in pursuit.
Tao Jones deflected the bolt of one of Carcharo’s female soldiers and sent the blast firing back at her. Penny used the device Amanda Waller had given her to generate sparks, which she multiplied to send a blast flying at the other armored henchwoman, shocking her into unconsciousness.
Before they could get to the trunk to untie Senator Perkins, he stood up, and the ropes seemed to fall off of him.
“What the–?” Agent Liberty gasped. Gypsy, having used her power to become invisible, slowly reappeared next to Perkins. “Good job, kid,” Agent Liberty said.
“All in a day’s work, chief,” Gypsy said, brushing her hands together.
“The Leviathan is getting away,” Vixen said, watching as it sped off into the distance, followed by Odysseus trailing behind as he fought the megalodons who sought to defend their leader.
“Not if I can help it,” Agent Liberty said. “Baby Boom, you’re with me.”
“Oh, man, I’ve been dreading this!” Babe said as Agent Liberty hoisted her up. He hit a button on his belt, and two rockets protruded from his backpack; he flew in the direction of Odysseus’ pursuit of the Leviathan.
“Carcharo’s still got a pretty good lead on them,” Vixen said. “Think they can catch up?”
“They can if we give them a hand,” Arak said. “Vibe, you take the waves. I’ll take the air. And you and me’ll give old shark-puss a storm like he’s never seen.”
Vibe aimed his seismic powers at the land beneath the waters, and the seas began to stir and swell. Arak used his powers on the air, and storm clouds began to gather and fill the sky.
“I hope your friends know what they’re doing,” Agent Liberty said to the heavily armored Baby Boom in his arms.
“Don’t worry, chief,” Babe said. “Arak’s got it under control. You just make sure you fly us through this in one piece. I don’t wanna end up as fish food.”
“I’ve got you, Babe,” Agent Liberty said, giving her a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t you worry.”
Babe felt her composure briefly melt at his fatherly tone. “OK… I’m not worried.”
“Right there, Babe!” Agent Liberty exclaimed. “Use your blast! Right there!”
“Aaaiiee!” Babe screamed as yet another megalodon leaped at them and received a telekinetic explosion instead of the meal it had expected. Babe struggled to regain her breath. “Is hanging out with you usually this much fun, Munro?”
“Ha-ha. Nice job, Babe. We make quite a team.”
“Y-yeah. I guess we do.” Babe blushed.
Odysseus soared down at the megalodons, hacking at them with his sword or aiming it at them to fire bolts of enchanted lightning. Suddenly, the Leviathan switched directions, turning back toward Odysseus. A missile fired from an unseen turret and struck him from the air. A megalodon leaped up and swallowed him whole.
“Trevor!” Agent Liberty screamed.
“Where is he?” Babe said. “Can I hit it with my blast?”
“It’s gone back under,” Agent Liberty said, crestfallen.
“Can it even hurt him?” Babe exclaimed.
“I don’t know,” he said. “There’s so much about him we just don’t know.”
“I don’t believe it!” Karnage said, looking through binoculars. “They got Odysseus!”
“Not if I can help it!” Vibe said. “I’m gonna turn up the juice and really sock it to that canned tuna!”
The waves began to roll and toss even more than before. A strained look came into Vibe’s face, and a sweat broke out on his brow.
“Wow. He’s really giving it to them,” Penny Dreadful said, pointing. “Look!” The Leviathan, which had already been having trouble submerging thanks to the storm, was now being tossed up and down by the waves.
“He certainly is,” Neptune Perkins said. “And it couldn’t happen to a nicer fish.”
“It’s also getting us more attention than we needed!” Doctor Trap said, pointing to the line of shark fines rising from the waters as it moved toward them. “You damnable superhuman freaks have killed us all!”
“You don’t exactly look normal with that kisser,” Karnage said, starting to move toward Doctor Trap.
Suddenly, a normal-sized shark leaped out of the water and swept Vibe up in his jaws as it soared to the water at the other side of the pier.
“Paco!” Vixen cried, jumping into the water after him.
“Is she insane?” Doctor Trap cried. “She’ll be killed, too!”
“Her totem’ll protect her,” Gypsy said.
Another shark leaped forward from the water at Arak. This time, Tao Jones was able to use the force of its own leap to send it flying back into the water.
Vixen soared out of the water with a grievously wounded Vibe. “He’s bleeding to death,” she said mournfully.
“Oh, God,” Penny said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much blood.”
“I have,” Vixen said, closing her eyes as old painful memories surfaced.
“You’re a doctor, ain’t you?” Karnage said to Doctor Trap.
“You expect me to treat him?” Doctor Trap said. “People like him caused the death of my wife!”
“You want me to tell Steel you let a teammate die?”
“Very well,” Doctor Trap said, sounding annoyed. “This sort of thing really isn’t my area of expertise, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll do what I can.”
“Just do it!”
Doctor Trap leaned down and inspected Vibe. “This man is already dead,” he said coldly.
“You’re lying!” Vixen shouted.
“See for yourself.”
Vixen looked down at Vibe’s still form and cried, “Damn Steel! Damn him for bringing us here!” Arak, also hurting as he stared at the still form of the only friend he’d ever had outside of Helix, held her as she cried. Gypsy wept silently. Despite his efforts against it, Karnage felt his heart going out to her.
“We could be next,” Tao Jones said, pointing to the water as more fins began to rise and circle the pier even closer than before.
“Oh, man. We’re so screwed,” Karnage said, staring out at the circling fins.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” Doctor Trap said. He picked up the rifle of one of Carcharo’s unconscious armored henchwomen, stopping only long enough to kick her over the side of the pier to the waiting sharks. He fired at one of the power lines near the pier, creating a shower of sparks as it was severed. “Guide it here, Tao Jones!” he ordered. Tao quickly obeyed, conceding to the forcefulness and confidence of his voice.
“Catch it now, girl,” he said, shoving Penny Dreadful toward the live cable. She suddenly found herself filled with more power than she had ever had to deal with, especially as her own power continued to multiply it.
“Don’t hold it in, you stupid girl!” Doctor Trap snapped. “Unleash it! Into the water!”
Penny shot out her hands, and enormous bolts of lightning crackled out from her palms and into the water. Shark after shark began to shoot out of the water and into the air, crashing against the waves as they went through their death throes. They became progressively larger the farther they went as wave after wave of electricity coursed from Penny Dreadful and into the ocean.
Eventually, the force of the blast reached the Leviathan itself, causing sparks and fire to erupt from its surface. Penny Dreadful collapsed into the waiting arms of Neptune Perkins.
“I don’t freakin’ believe it!” Karnage gasped.
“It just stood to reason,” Doctor Trap said smugly. “If she can do what she does with a small amount of electricity, then just imagine what she could do with a great deal. As you can see, my hypothesis was correct.”
Neptune Perkins gently laid Penny down upon the wooden floor of the pier. “Easy, girl,” he said coaxingly. “You did good.”
“Wake up, Penny,” Arak said, leaning down next to her and shaking her lightly. He lifted her eyelids and tried to look into her eyes, but they seemed to roll back into her head. “You better hope she’s all right,” he said, turning to Doctor Trap with a menacing glare.
“She’s still breathing, isn’t she?” Doctor Trap said. “Her system has simply received a bit of a… shock.”
Arak reared back with his fist. “You son of a–!”
“Hold it right there, son,” Agent Liberty said, coming down from the sky, still carrying Baby Boom. “As ignoble as Trap’s actions seem, they still delivered us a victory. Penny, at least, still has a chance of recovery.” He gazed regretfully at the still form of Vibe. “Frankly, we’ve had enough casualties for one day.”
“I’d say there’s room for more!” a thickly accented voice boomed from the end of the pier. It was Carcharo. The enormous man-shark, clad in Aztec-themed armor, leaped from the water and onto the pier with lightning speed. He slashed Doctor Trap with the claws of his right hand and snarled, “You have cost me a great deal, and I will have blood.” With his left hand, he swatted Arak, delivering a deep cut across his bare chest.
Doctor Trap lay sprawled across the floor of the pier, holding the gash in his side. “I’m so sick of superhumans,” he croaked. He opened his metal jaws and bit into Carcharo’s calf.
“Aaaiiighhh!” Carcharo screamed in shock and outrage. He leaned down, about to deal Doctor Trap the final blow as the wounded villain spit out a chunk of flesh. It almost looked as if his bloodied metal jaws were smiling up at him.
Agent Liberty charged forward and delivered a right cross to the man-shark’s jaw, and Carcharo slumped to the ground. “As the duly designated representative of the United States of America, I hereby place you under arrest,” Liberty spat.
“I’m not sure he heard you, chief,” Baby Boom said.
“Frankly, Babe, I could care less.”