The Cloudburst landed at the Interpol HQ in Lyon, France. Pierce walked out onto the landing strip as the agents emerged, the flight crew immediately checking on the ship for any significant damage. Bronson wore a blanket wrapped around his waist to replace his destroyed clothes.
“Everyone alright?,” Pierce asked.
“No,” Mansoor stated frankly, “I saw Bronson’s ass.”
“Sorry. The front has a better view,” Bronson walked past them.
“I got that view,” Alam sighed as he followed, “It wasn’t.”
“I want you four to report to Medical downstairs,” Pierce told them, “But first, what can you tell me, Frakes?”
“The suspect’s real name was Vincent Brassi,” Frakes reported, “We think the Second Phase High Command assassinated him remotely through an implanted bio-bomb, likely to stop him from revealing too much.”
“At least we have a name. What about his apartment? Find anything?”
“We haven’t been able to investigate it further, sir.”
“I’ll send Klausman and Jones. Have them pay a visit.”
Adrian Klausman (Codename: Blitz) was a grenadier from Switzerland’s Special Forces Command that was given superhuman speed and reflexes. Lowanna Jones (Codename: Warp) was a half-Aboriginal Australian woman from the Special Air Service Regiment that was given teleportation abilities. Pierce sent them mission intel, requesting them to meet in the Debriefing Room and head to Brassi’s apartment ASAP.
“Pierce could have at least met us here,” Klausman was already slouched in a chair with a bored expression when Jones arrived.
“Must be busy,” Jones told him as she looked over the intel on her tablet, “Best to just have a look at this apartment and report back. Easy.”
“We’re investigating the Second Phase. It’s never that easy.”
“That’s what makes us Badges, I suppose. Ready?”
He stood up and Jones placed a hand on his shoulder. She could teleport long distances but only if she had been there previously. Otherwise, her powers relied on line-of-sight. Because of this, she made sure to have at least one “save point” in as many major cities as possible. While teleporting, she could carry enough mass to equal a full grown adult with some extra gear if needed. She held on to Klausman and they disappeared with what Sean Pierce once described as “space blinking for a second”. They reappeared on top of a skyscraper in Milan and looked at their watches.
“According to the GPS, the apartment is about twenty kilometers East,” Jones explained.
“Race ya?,” Klausman smiled cheekily.
“I’m not Mansoor,” Jones laughed, “I won’t be dragged into this weird fixation you have about being the fastest. I’ll catch up.”
Klausman shrugged and raced down the side of the building in a blur, turned on the street, and zipped between cars. Jones, meanwhile, spotted a rooftop below and teleported to its location. From there, she went from roof to roof, heading East.
In a few seconds, Klausman arrived in the hallway of the apartment building, instantly noticing that Brassi’s front door had been kicked in. He radioed to Jones, “Warp, it looks like we have company at the apartment. Good chance someone is destroying evidence. I’m going in and might need some backup.” He drew his gun and crept toward the broken door and slowly entered the doorway with his gun trained. Even with his speed, he couldn’t react and his gun was sliced in half by a katana. He looked up, noticing a familiar face as well as a second sword heading for his throat. He leaned back in a blur of motion, allowing the sword to pass over him and get embedded in the door frame.
The Second Phase had their own assassins and two of their best were a pair of Japanese twins known as The Sisters: Alpha and Omega respectfully. They were cybernetic martial artists with enhanced stats and retractable katanas in their forearms. The twin attacking Klausman at that moment was Alpha, although he wasn’t sure if it was her or her sister.
Klausman dashed forward and stopped in the center of the apartment where he saw the second sister at Brassi’s computer. She stood and turned to him, then both the blades slid out from the underside of her forearms. With attention drawn to her swords, she kicked the desk chair at him. He ducked and it hit the wall behind him, then he radioed to Jones again, “Warp, I have eyes on the Sisters. The Second Phase really doesn’t want us here.” Alpha somersaulted behind Klausman and took a swipe at his back, forcing him to dash forward, directly in the path of Omega’s blade. Klausman twisted in mid-air, narrowly avoiding getting run-through and landed at Omega’s side. He quickly put her in a full-nelson hold and Alpha lunged for a kick. Klausman turned, forcing Alpha to kick Omega while he was still holding her. The two of them flew across the room, hitting the wall hard enough to put a large dent in the plaster, then Omega stood up and prepared to plunge her sword in Klausman. He rolled out of the way as she stabbed through the floor.
Once he was out of harm’s way, he turned his attention to the second sister and noticed Alpha setting an explosive device on the computer desk. He raced forward and tackled her hard enough for them to leave the living room, hit the kitchen area, and slide across the tile floor. Omega caught the explosive device as it fell and placed it on the floor. She activated it and a circle of red lights emerged around the center of the device; as the device counted down, the lights disappeared. Omega turned to aid her sister just as Jones teleported in front of her, bringing her to the ground with a flying kick. “Just in time, eh?,” she called to Klausman, “So do I have Alpha or Omega?”
“I can never tell,” Klausman called back and zipped out of the path of a sword-swipe which slashed open a cupboard, spilling pots and pans. Omega flipped into the air, the tip of a blade slicing across Jones’ shoulder, “Bloody hell!”. She teleported away from a second attack, reappearing above the cyborg where she elbow-dropped Omega to the ground. In the kitchen, Klausman grabbed Alpha by the ankles and flipped her at high-speed, slamming the back of her skull into the floor hard enough to crack it. The explosive device counted down even faster as the red circles disappeared one after another. Jones rolled across the floor and snatched it, disappearing a split-second just before Omega stabbed the floor again. Alpha swung her foot around, kicking Klausman in the head hard enough to slide him across the floor where he hit the oven. Outside, a bomb harmlessly exploded in an alley. Jones teleported back into the room, behind Omega and struck her in the kidney before teleporting away to avoid a retaliating slash. Klausman grabbed Alpha by the arm and swung her around into the refrigerator. Once there, he punched her multiple times in a flash, dropping her to the floor. Jones teleported around Omega once more and disappeared. A second later, Omega found herself being teleported into the wall in the hallway. Before she could get up, she was teleported again: she hit the apartment ceiling and fell back to the floor with a loud THUD. With both women winded but not fully unconscious, it was obvious between the two of them defeat was inevitable.
Klausman came into the living room and stood beside Jones. “I suppose we can bring them in for questioning as well,” Jones said with a cheery smile. A second later, a flash-bang went off, blinding the two of them temporarily. By the time lights stopped dancing in front of their eyes, the two cybernetic twins had vanished.
“How’s the shoulder?,” Klausman asked as he squinted.
“Hurts but I’ll survive,” Jones rubbed her eyes, “Good news is that the apartment wasn’t destroyed.”
“There isn’t much here from the looks of it,” Klausman blinked as his sight returned, “How much you want to bet they were after the computer? We can bring the hard drive back with us.”
“Seems like a good idea. Let’s take a look around before we head back to HQ.”
At the IMD headquarters, Pierce walked into the department’s training facility. An unusually large, bald Russian man with a thick, grey mustache stood watching two agents running through an obstacle course. His name was Anton Varkov, once known as Red Steel. In the 70s, the KGB tried to replicate the properties of the mystic potion used to give Rex Robinson his great strength and slowed aging. Red Steel, a high ranking field agent, was the super soldier created by that process. After the collapse of the USSR, he became a mercenary and eventually, joined Interpol as a combat trainer for the IMD.
“Good afternoon, Pierce,” Anton greeted him, “Your Elite Squad is coming along nicely. These two men are very powerful.”
“What about their training?”
“The scientist has much to learn.”
“Not surprising. Normally, the agents here are highly trained before I ever employ them. This one’s a bit… unconventional. What about the Marine?”
“He knows how to fight like a soldier but not like a super soldier. He must learn to incorporate his powers into his fighting style.”
“That’s why we send them to you.”
“You plan to have one more member for the Elite Squad, yes?”
“Yes. Our third member hasn’t agreed yet but give it time. I’m quite persuasive as you know.”
“I’m glad you’re here, by the way. I was reminiscing yesterday, about my old fights with you and others. I remember a fight with ‘Agent Crown’. I knocked him out and I put him in the trunk of a car. Then I dumped him in the Pacific Ocean. Was that you?”
“No, that must’ve been a different Agent Crown. Perhaps it was Timothy Moore? Seems like a pickle he’d find himself in.”
“Ah, sometimes I can’t remember. There were so many Agent Crowns over the years.”
“Hopefully, I was your favorite Agent Crown.”
“Probably. I’m not sure I ever came that close to killing you.”
“Well,… you did tie me to the side of a missile once.”
Anton laughed loudly, “Oh, I remember that one. That was great!… How did you manage to survive that time?”
“My cufflinks had a small laser that cut the chains. In the jacket, was a built-in parachute.”
“Why did we never check you for gadgets?”
“Always wondered that myself.”
“God, I miss the Cold War.”
“Me too, old friend.”
In a shadowy lair, the Sisters stood before three chromatic figures in red robes: the High Command. Binary numbers flashed across the smooth, metallic surfaces where their faces should have been. The Sisters’ eyes lit up as coded messages were transferred to them. Once finished, they nodded as if understanding a set of instructions. “Abandon the flesh…,” Alpha began. “… Enter the second phase,” Omega continued.