He raced down the street, brushing past pedestrians. “Suspect heading South,” came a voice through an earpiece, “Do we have eyes?” On a nearby rooftop, a woman stood surveying the area until she spotted the suspect several blocks away, “He’s on Della Spiga. I can catch up to him.” Another man ran through the street, coming from the opposite direction, “No worries. I can slow `im down.” The suspect turned and raced through an alley, stopping only when he noticed the tall, British man in the leather jacket. He flashed a badge at the suspect, “Interpol! Metahuman Division!” The man raised a hand, blue light gathering around his palm. “Buggar,” the British man muttered just as a violent explosion erupted from the other end of the alley.
“Is that what you call slowing him down?,” the Israeli woman on the roof said as she stepped off. She dropped two stories before spiraling back up through the air and flew to their location. In the alley, the British man lay on the ground, covered in debris, his shirt and jacket having been burnt off but otherwise, he was unharmed, “He stopped running, didn’t he, Intrepid?” He stood up and found the remains of his destroyed jacket, “Wanker owes me a new jacket.”
Intrepid flew through the air, dipping around a tour bus until she caught up to the suspect, still fleeing on foot. “I hope someone is on collateral,” she said as she zipped up behind him. The suspect turned, blue energy emerging from his palm again, but Intrepid snatched him by the wrist, raising his arm just as a blue beam swung through the sky, slicing off a chunk of a building. “Collateral!,” she shouted again as she flipped the man over her shoulder and against a parked car. Telekinetic energy stopped the chunk of mortar from falling on a few citizens, “On it,” a Pakastani accent came through their ear pieces.
The suspect lunged at Intrepid, but she kicked him in the chest, forcing him against the side of the car again. He threw a punch, but she ducked under it, caught his arm, then slammed him back against the car, hard enough to break the rear window and render him unconscious. “Suspect apprehended,” she reported, “Come pick him up.” Soon, the Cloudburst arrived, ready to receive the agents and their suspect.
It was a common misconception that Interpol agents could arrest or detain suspects. Since its inception, it was only meant to promote communication among the world’s police forces. After the Alien Invasion of 1981 and the subsequent fall of the USSR, Rex Robinson held an international press conference and proposed a measure to allow enhanced operatives to act as an international crimefighting force, specializing in metahuman threats. After all, stolen alien technology had been used by rogue nations and terrorist groups in order to create super soldiers and the like. The result was the IMD (Interpol Metahuman Division), founded in 2005. Rex Robinson had personally made sure to reverse engineer alien technology, powered by Neutronium, in order to provide a safe process with which to imbue agents with abilities. Unlike other Interpol agents, these men and women were able to detain criminals until they could be handed over to a court.
The Division itself was overseen by Sean Pierce, a former agent of MI6 (the Agent Crown Program to be precise). Despite his age, we was still in good shape and always sported a full grey beard and short hair. He recruited special operatives and highly trained soldiers from around the world who agreed to undergo the painful experiments and carry out missions. These agents often referred to themselves as ‘Badges’.
Once the team apprehended the suspect in Milan, Pierce held a meeting with the agents in attendance while the ship flew on auto-pilot. The agents present included:
Dave Bronson (Codename: Brick) – A British SAS pilot with nearly indestructible skin.
Dafne Mansoor (Codename: Intrepid) – An Isreali Mossad agent with heightened senses and the ability to fly.
Nadeem Alam (Codename: Shift) – A telekinetic from Pakistan’s Special Service Group
Jill Frakes (Codename: Phantama) – A Navy Seal from the US with phasing abilities.
“I trust the mission went well?,” Pierce asked as his hologram hovered over the conference table.
“The suspect is sedated and in the Hold,” Jill reported, “I approached the suspect at his apartment first while undercover to gain information about his deep web activities. He got spooked and escaped by leaping out a second story window. Bronson and Mansoor detained him. Alam was on collateral.”
“Well, I detained him,” Mansoor smirked at Dave, “Bronson was put on his ass.”
“I had to slow him down somehow for you. If we had Klausman on this mission, it wouldn’t have been an issue.”
“I can fly faster than Klausman can run.”
“That’s not what he says,” Alam spoke up, “I think we finally need that race.”
“Don’t forget to take bets,” Bronson added.
“Good call,” Alam and Bronson bumped fists.
“Can we continue?,” Jill asked coldly.
“Thank you, Frakes,” Pierce nodded to her, “The Second Phase have been recruiting on the deep web. They only do that when they have big plans.”
“It’s true,” Mansoor agreed, “The last time they expanded their group like this, they tried to high-jack nuclear warheads and integrate them into their own weapon systems.”
Pierce continued, “Our friend from Milan was quite active, never quite hiding himself as well as other recruiters. Bronson, Alam, I want you to interrogate him when he wakes. Report back to me as soon as possible.”
“Yes, sir,” Bronson answered.
Pierce’s hologram flickered off. Back at Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, he turned and walked out of his office. Entering the Surveillance Room, he took a look at the wall of monitors before him, all displaying news programs from around the world. “Still not sure why we wasted money on all these monitors when we have you, Kisi.” In the center of the room was a clear cylinder filled with water in which, a Ghana woman floated. She wore a blue diving suit and a respirator mask that covered her eyes. This was Kisi Yeboah, a telepath from the GAF (Ghana Armed Forces).
“It helps me focus,” her voice echoed through his mind, “Just as much as this tank.”
“So you’ve said,” Pierce gazed at the monitors, “Anything we should be concerned with?”
“There’s chatter from the United States.”
“Of course, the center of the universe. What is it now?”
“To begin with, there are strange occurrences in Winghaven.”
“There are always strange occurrences in Winghaven and we rarely get results. Frustrating place. What else?”
“Craig Levison has started his Upstarts Program.”
“Bloody hell. I don’t care if the US Senate passed the law. Children should not be given powers, let alone training to be superheroes. Keep monitoring that. We’ll be ready when it goes tits-up.”
“The only other item is the rumor the Cavalier has gone missing in New York.”
“Or Arthur Hawkwood finally retired. Thanks, Kisi.”
“You’re very welcome, sir.”
Back on the Cloudburst, Bronson and Alam made their way to the ship’s Hold as Frakes and Mansoor piloted up front. The monitor had shown that the suspect was conscious, his arms handcuffed behind his back in case of attack. “So, good cop, bad cop is it?,” Bronson asked as they stood on the other side of the cell. “I’ll be the good cop as usual,” Alam said. Bronson shrugged, “I wanted to be the bad cop anyway. I really liked that jacket.” Seconds later, Alam entered the cell and the suspect angrily sat at attention.
“Hello, Mr. Gasparetti,” Alam greeted him in Italian, “I’m Agent Alam with the IMD,” he sat across from him at the desk in the center of the cell, “…Should I call you Mr. Gasparetti, seeing as how it’s a fake name? Your internet handle was footlover69 but it seems unprofessional to call you that. I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot here.”
The suspect sighed, “Call me anything you like.”
“Let’s stick to Mr. Gasparetti. Now, we understand you’re a recruiter for the Second Phase. Those scars along your arms and the fact you can shoot beams of energy from your hands is a pretty good indicator you were one of the members lucky enough to get surgery. What sort of cybernetics do you have? Nanotechnology? Implants? Either way, you really are committed to this idea of technological evolution, huh?”
“Abandon the flesh -“
“Yes, yes. ‘Abandon the flesh. Enter the Second Phase’. We’re all very intimidated every time we hear it,” Bronson stormed into the cell, “Bunch of cyberpunk novel twats, the lot of you.”
“You’re not supposed to be here, Bronson,” Alam stood up, playing his part.
“Think the next stage in bloody evolution is man made? Everyone’s gonna be a toaster in the future, eh?,” Bronson pushed past Alam, “We want your bloody name. We want your bloody handlers. You were recruiting people into your silly little club on the internet, so tell us what it’s all about. Gonna blow up a school or something, you emo prick?”
“This is supposed to scare me, right?,” the suspect smiled.
Bronson slammed his hand down on the desk in front of him, then produced a knife.
“Bronson, what’re you doing?,” Alam shouted.
Bronson raised the knife, letting it hang in the air for a moment before bringing it down on the back of his knuckles, making sure the suspect saw the blade bend in half, “See that? Indestructible. Your little light show back there? Doesn’t mean shit to me. You say you’re the next phase of evolution but that’s bullocks, yeah?”
“Bronson, out! Now!,” Alam pulled him back.
Bronson stepped out of the door, “If he don’t talk in the next five minutes, I’m coming back in here.”
The metal door to the Hold slid shut and Alam turned back to the suspect, “Sorry. My partner can get a bit excited. Between you and me, he’s making me a little nervous. I mean, we’re 30,000 feet in the air and -“
“I’m not an idiot. I know what this is.”
“How do you mean?”
“Sounds like you got your idea of interrogation from a stupid 80s movie.”
Bronson entered the room once more, “He got us.”
“He’s smart,” Alam agreed.
“So let’s just go to Plan B.”
Alam turned and raised his hand. Telekinetic energy surrounded the suspect and forced him on the desk. “What is this?,” he shouted.
Bronson pulled a pen-sized laser torch from his pocket, “It’s Plan B.”
“According to our by-laws, if a suspect is on the ship and proves to be a threat, it’s our duty to disarm him by all means necessary,” Alam explained as he continued to hold him still.
“I’m not armed!”
“I’m pretty sure I saw your hands glowing back there, mate.”
“They’re implants. They’re a part of me.”
“Yeah, but… a threat’s a threat. Afraid we’ll have to take your weapons, one way or another.”
“I haven’t threatened anyone!”
“You seem to be smarter than us.”
“I feel threatened,” Alam stated calmly.
“Getting outsmarted by a foot fetishist. Giant blow to my ego, that.”
“Okay, I get it. I’ll… I’ll tell you my name at least?”
“That’s a start,” Bronson shrugged and turned to Alam.
“At least we got something out of him,” Alam released him and the suspect slumped back into his seat.
“… My name is Vincent Brassi.”
“Nice to meet you, Vincent,” Alam cheerfully smiled, “We’re just gonna ask a few more questions and eb done with it.”
In a secluded area, a group of figures sat silently in the shadows. A holographic screen appeared in front of them, showcasing the apprehension of Vincent Brassi in the streets of Milan, along with his screen name and information. The figures turned to one another, binary code flashing across chromatic faces in the dark. Metallic fingers soon began typing on a holographic keypad.
On the Cloudburst, a pained expression spread across Vincent’s face. “Vincent?,” Alam asked, “You okay?” Vincent’s veins began to swell underneath his skin and he began to cry out in agony. His arms began to glow, heating up the handcuffs as light emerged from his insides. “Nadeem, we’ve gotta move!,” Bronson leapt over the table and wrapped his arms around him as he burned brighter and his screams grew louder. Alam formed a telekinetic shield around both of them to contain the heat just as Vincent’s eyes and mouth emitted white light. The explosion was contained to just the Hold, but the impact was enough to shake the entire ship, getting the attention of Frakes and Mansoor in the cockpit. They set the ship on auto-pilot once again and raced to the back of the ship. When they opened the Hold, Alam sat on the ground, winded while Bronson rose to his feet, his clothes completely burnt off as smoke escaped the surface of his skin.
“How’s that for luck?,” Bronson muttered, “Even in that bastard’s final moments, he somehow managed to take more of my wardrobe.”