The Suicide Squad: The Profit of War, Chapter 4: Hostile Takeover

by Bejammin2000, Doc Quantum, and Christine Nightstar

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November, 1987:

The Suicide Squad was finally gathered for the mission debriefing that everyone had been anticipating for far too long.

“Do any of you know what type of gun this is?” began Commander Steel, motioning to the semi-automatic rifle on his desk. Both Mitch and Jake Lawton started to speak. “Anyone who isn’t a gun nut?” he quickly added. There was no answer from the others, so Steel motioned to Mitch.

“It’s an H.I. Rapture, World War II model, right?” said Mitch. “Has this odd recoil mechanism. Was a little cleaner than the one used on the Garand. Allowed for more efficiency to ejection, but it couldn’t use the en bloc clips of the Garand.”

“Yes. It was also a bit more delicate and lacked the heft of a Garand,” added Steel. “You had to smack a goon in the head twice to make sure the job was done.”

“And even then, you might’a busted its unique feed system,” Jake said. “I mean… Raptures were nice an’ all; they was just lackin’,” the younger and less-mature Lawton added, almost if he was defending himself.

“Okay, what does this all mean? You call us just to reminisce about the war?” asked Paula Crock. As far as she was concerned, there were better things to do besides talk about guns.

“Yes. This does have a lot to do with the mission I’ve set up,” Steel replied.

“And that is?”

“We’re going to do a… hostile corporate takeover, of a sort.”

“Why?” was the general response. And Commander Steel explained. Even hardened criminals had their limits. Starting wars in Third World countries was far past this group’s limits.

***

While the team was mobilizing to head out, Commander Steel and Barton J. Reed were awaiting a very important phone call with tense anticipation. Reed had insisted on receiving permission before they took action on American soil. After all, they would be breaking several domestic laws in attacking the Helstrom Industries facility.

Finally, the expected call came. It was from the president of the United States of America. As Steel and Reed listened on separate receivers, they each wore grave expressions on their faces. They had requested and received authorization to use lethal force in order to secure the bio-weapon and its antidotes, which was a responsibility that all three men took quite seriously, but the president had given them something else as well: both the thief’s identity, impossible as it seemed, and his ultimatum.

“The thief has contacted the White House,” Steel later explained to Arn Munro. “He threatened to use the VRX-64 on a random U.S. city if we don’t comply with his demands. He wants me, Reed, and a… former task force member to meet him at a prearranged spot in Kansas.”

“Who?” asked Munro.

“Burkowitz,” said Steel.

Munro shook his head; he’d never liked the fake second Deadshot. “Does this mean we’re calling off the Utah mission?” he asked.

“No,” Steel replied. “That’s still happening as scheduled. I need you to lead the task force as planned. Your main goal is to cause a diversion, allowing Gypsy and the Minstrel to secure the documentation proving our case against Helstrom. It should be successful if Darius Helstrom hired our thief to steal the VRX-64 as I suspect.”

Agent Liberty couldn’t help but think this was a very bad idea. “And what if you’re wrong about Helstrom being behind the bio-weapon’s theft?”

“Then we’ll still have successfully taken down a corrupt organization that has illegally taken over a foreign nation.” Steel turned away, the conversation over.

***

It didn’t take long for the handpicked members of this Suicide Squad task force to suit up for the flight in their private plane to Utah. With General Steve Trevor flying the plane, several conversations ensued between his passengers during the flight.

“What are your thoughts on Mister Marvel?” Agent Liberty asked the Tigress, indicating a seat where Marvel and Indigo were lounging, and whispering sweet nothings at each other. Arn Munro received a dirty look in response. “I know, I know. You can’t be Marvel’s biggest fan right now, especially after I’d asked you to tell all the other prisoners to treat him with kid gloves.”

The Tigress sighed. “It wasn’t so bad when everyone was expecting some kind of James Bond to show up. But when some nobody dressed in a popcorn wrapper shows up instead, I wasn’t too thrilled. You know I won’t be babysitting Mister Marvel when we’re in the thick of it. As far as I’m concerned, during a mission it’s sink or swim.”

“Well, with Indigo always clinging onto him, I don’t expect him to be given an opportunity to sink at all,” replied Munro, indicating the young couple.

“Nauseating,” the Tigress replied.

***

The usually inseparable Trigger Twins had decided to mingle. Thus Jake Lawton was trying to teach Karnage how to properly shoot a gun, and lent him one of his own for the occasion, after emptying the cartridges. “Now this here’s a fine shootin’ iron, Karnage. You know how to use it?”

“Point, pull the trigger, shoot,” said Karnage.

“That ain’t no way to treat a fine gun like that!” said Jake. “Let me show ya a few things.”

“What’s the point?” Karnage said, shrugging. “I’m not much into guns.”

Jake looked as if the man had flatly denied there was a God. “How could you not be inta guns when you’re holdin’ a fine example like this?”

Karnage held up his left wrist and grinned. “What do I need with guns when I have wrist-launching missiles?”

Jake Lawton just shook his head.

***

Nearby, Mitch Lawton sidled up to the Minstrel, who was strumming silently on his mandolin, practicing his motions. “Hey, I heard you used ta be a Hollywood stuntman and special-effects guy. That true?” asked Mitch.

“Truth be told… that’s another life,” the Minstrel began singing as he strummed for real this time. “I’m not so old… I’ve chosen strife.”

“Hey, that’s not half-bad,” said Mitch. “Need to work on the rhyming a bit, but the tune was decent. You do kids’ parties, too?”

***

Gypsy found herself intrigued by the hulking man called Blockbuster, who resembled a villain by the same name from her native Earth-One. But this was no true parallel world counterpart, as he had a very different origin and an alternate identity. His facial structure was even more brutish, if that were possible.

She had leaned forward to get a closer look at the sleeping giant, when he suddenly jerked in his sleep, causing her to jump back, startled. Gypsy felt bad for the man, being restrained as he was, with shackles on his legs and arms. She couldn’t help but feel both fear and pity for the Blockbuster. Psyche Hayden approached, her long red hair swaying behind her as she walked.

“You’re wise to be afraid of him,” Psyche said. “They say he was once a man, but now he is a mindless beast capable of great violence, with the right direction. (*) That’s why I was invited along.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Ragnarok Aftermath, Chapter 4: Young Hearts and Hourman: Daytime Drama.]

“He is like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Gypsy. “So savage, so full of rage. It’s… unnatural.”

“That’s easily remedied,” said Psyche, and laughed. Suddenly, a grin spread over Blockbuster’s face, and he began a low, growling chuckle that sounded terrifying.

“Stop that!” said Gypsy, horrified. “What are you doing to him?”

“I’m merely making him happy,” said Psyche with a laugh. “I thought that’s what you wanted, little girl.”

Upset, Gypsy stormed away from the laughing emotion-manipulator, rushing past a table so fast that she disturbed the card game being played between the Icicle, Heatmonger, and Vengeance.

“Hey!” shouted Heatmonger, the neo-Nazi former member of the Aryan Nation. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See All-Star Squadron: The World on Fire Again.]

“The girl needs to learn respect,” growled Vengeance, the crazed vigilante from Gotham City. (*) “Perhaps I will have to teach her.” He tolerated the presence of these super-villains only because the Suicide Squad afforded him the opportunity to continue his fight for justice at any cost.

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Huntress: Night Moves, Chapter 1: Spinning Webs of Hatred.]

“Just cool it,” sighed the Icicle. “Not worth getting upset about.” As the son of the original Icicle, Cameron Mahkent had been born with the ability to create freezing temperatures after his father had been exposed to his cold gun for years. His dream of taking over the family business had been thwarted when he was arrested after joining Injustice Unlimited. (*) As far as he was concerned, the Suicide Squad was completely beneath him, but until he could find a way to escape, he had no choice but to cooperate — for now.

[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: JSA Reserves: All This and Earth-Two.]

***

“You’re quite the talented weapon designer, aren’t you, Brainstorm?” the Archer said in a hushed voice.

Forced to turn away from the engineering periodical he was reading, Brainstorm couldn’t help but notice that the Dart had already struck up a conversation with his sister, Darkstar, and now the Dart’s husband was speaking with him. He wondered what this was all about; neither of them had kept in touch since their brief team-up with a few other villains as the Crime Champions last year. (*) “I’ve built my fair share. Why?”

[(*) Editor’s note: See the not-yet-published Infinity Inc: Nine Months.]

“I would like to upgrade my arsenal,” explained the Archer, “add some variety to my arrows. I made most of ’em myself, but I’d pay top dollar for a true weapons designer to take a crack at it. Naturally, I thought of you.”

“Tell me your requirements, and I’ll see what I can do,” Brainstorm said in a noncommittal tone of voice.

Over the next few minutes, the Archer slowly listed his needs, while Brainstorm jotted them down on a pocket notepad. When he was finished, Brainstorm replied, “You realize that I’m obliged to tell Steel about your request first.”

The Archer barely flinched as he replied, “It… would be foolish of you not to tell him.”

“Indeed,” said Brainstorm. “I can have them completed in… about six months’ time.”

The Archer frowned. “I could build a quiver-full of trick arrows myself in less time.”

“Probably could, but they’d be inferior to what I could provide. In any case, we’ll see what Steel has to say about it first. It may very well be that he could see a need for an upgrade of your arsenal for a future mission.” At that, Brainstorm turned away and continued reading his magazine, effectively ending the tiresome interaction.

“Jerk,” the Archer muttered under his breath as he walked away.

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