Kim Seoyeon was a 19 year old Korean girl with a genius-level intellect. Recognized early as a prodigy, she studied at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul at a young age and had a double major in quantum physics and criminal psychology with a double minor in engineering physics and forensics as she was unsure of which field to pursue. This caught the eye of Sean Pierce who offered her a job in the science department of IMD, which she accepted just after her 18th birthday.
She sat in her lab, surrounded by cables and wires in all directions. On the table in front of her sat a coffee cup atop a circular disc with multiple attachments. Seoyeon studied the cup for a few moments before flipping a switch. The cup instantly stopped existing on her plane of existence. Seoyeon smiled to herself and flipped the switch again and a white powder materialized on the disc that used to be a cup. She frowned and began writing notes on her tablet.
Frakes and Mansoor entered her lab, stepping over crumpled paper on the floor and cans of soda. “Do you mind if we come in?,” Frakes asked as she eyed the mess around her.
“Oh, hey,” Seoyeon greeted them, “Come in. I’m working on my Hammer-Space project. I think I’ll have it figured out soon.”
“I’m sure of it,” Mansoor told her, “We have something for you that you might be interested in.”
“We have the cipher for Brassi’s correspondences,” Frakes dropped the Bible on her table with the book opened to Revelation 8:7. “How long do you need to decipher them?”
“Wow,” Seoyeon drew her finger around the passage that had been circled in red, “My computer should be able to do it in an hour or two. Have some lunch and come back.”
In exactly one hour, thirty eight minutes and fifteen seconds, Frakes sent a messages to all pertaining agents concerning the recent case; the messages had been decoded and were available for all to read. “Knew I was on to something,” Bronson said to himself as he read the information at his desk. The next day, the agents gathered in the Debriefing Room along with Sean Pierce.
“I hope we’ve all done the reading this morning,” he told the room, “Seoyeon has decoded Brassi’s messages which has given us a lot of information. Mansoor has a theory that seems to check-out based on this reading. Mansoor?”
She stood to her feet, “This passage in Revelations refers to a third of the Earth’s trees and plant life being burnt up,” she brought up the passage on the screen behind her, “The Second Phase, as we all know, believes that the next stage in human evolution should be technology-based, to the point where biological life itself will become obsolete and be replaced with 100% technological lifeforms. According to their manifesto, they’re not above depopulation and there’s been at least one instance of them trying it when they attempted to use nuclear weapons. If humanity is on the brink of extinction, it would fast-track this next phase, according to them. I believe that they will try to destroy a third of the plant life on Earth… namely agriculture.”
“Brassi was vague about details when talking to his recruits,” Alam looked through his notes, “But crops were mentioned a few times along with something called Angel-1… The First Angel of Revelations, I take it?”
“It all goes back to the Second Phase’s manifesto,” Frakes brought up a file on her tablet showcasing the document, “Depopulation isn’t their main goal but their founders absolutely saw it as a means to an end. The theory is that natural global catastrophes could fast-track humanity’s turn toward technology-based lifeforms. A massive food shortage could achieve that.”
“A third of all crops getting burnt up would definitely be a natural catastrophe,” Klausman nodded.
“Can we go back to Angel-1?,” Alam interrupted, “From all indications it’s a weapon they’re building. The First Angel. The thing that burns everything. Now, Brassi wasn’t just recruiting the usual weirdos and crazies. He was trying to get engineers, technicians, mechanics… pretty much anyone who knows anything about machines. I also noticed he spoke to two different sources; one for diesel fuel and another one for derivatives of polystyrene. I think this weapon will use napalm.”
“Computer guided technology was mentioned in one of the discourses,” Jones said, “I believe we have an idea of what sort of weapon they’ve got but we just need to know the where and when.”
“Even with Brassi dead, we can safely assume other recruiters got the manpower he couldn’t,” Bronson added, “We have to take it as a certainty they’ve built this bloody thing. Or at least they’re close to it.”
“What else have we got?,” Pierce asked the room as he paced around the table.
“Brassi never met his recruits face-to-face,” Mansoor pulled up various chat logs, “He set up various meetings from around the world with multiple handlers. Most of these meetings would have already happened except one,” Mansoor displayed a chat log in the large holographic screen hanging behind her, “A fresh recruit is supposed to meet a handler in Chicago tomorrow for further instructions. We know the exact location and time this meeting will happen as well as the name of the new recruit.”
“Are we sure the meeting will commence?,” Klausman asked, “Brassi is dead and like Bronson said, this weapon is likely already completed or close to it.”
“The Second Phase tends to follow through with its recruitment,” Frakes answered, “They don’t know we’ve deciphered these logs and they likely need as many warm bodies as possible.”
“It’s worth it to look in to this,” Pierce added, “I want everyone on this. The meeting will probably take place but at this point, the Second Phase has to be a bit nervous. They’ll have operatives waiting for us. Get some rest. Fly out tomorrow. Oh, and one more thing… I’m sending Kisi with you.”
Kisi Yeboah sat in the Cloudburst in a black spy gear with all other agents wearing matching protection; the difference being that she also wore a blinder covering her eyes and ears. Bronson piloted the ship and called back, “Are you comfortable back there, Yeboah?”. He heard her reply in his mind, “I like going on the occasional field mission, although you don’t have to talk out loud. I can’t hear you anyway.” Bronson nodded and opted to respond through thought, “Old habits. I’m not used to telepathic conversations.”
Frakes looked out the window at the Chicago skyline. Alam leaned over to her, “You’re from Chicago, right?”
“Aurora, but yes, that’s the Chicago area.”
“Good to be back home?”
“It’s nice,” she stated plainly but said nothing else.
“Always a great conversationalist,” he thought to himself.
“Listen up, Badges,” Mansoor announced, “We’re approaching the meet-up. The recruit’s name is Megan Denning, an engineering student at University of Chicago. No prior record. We’re not sure who she’s meeting or what the Second Phase has in store for us. Kisi will stay vigilant of the meeting and, if needed, subdue Megan. The rest of us deal with potential threats as they happen. Kisi, what do you read?”
“I’m searching the crowd,” she said aloud, “I’ve located Megan. As for the Second Phase, as most of you probably know, their cybernetics often interfere with telepathy due to implants or in some cases, the fact that their brains are no longer organic. I can’t read them but since they’re moving through a very densely populated area, I sense, for lack of a better word, holes in the crowd.”
“How do you mean?,” Klausman asked.
“Imagine a painting that someone has poked holes in. That’s what I’m getting now and the holes are moving.”
“How many?,” Mansoor asked.
“Five. Maybe six.”
“At least we have the advantage of numbers. Let’s get ready to drop.”
The Cloudburst landed on a nearby rooftop overlooking the alley in which the meeting was meant to take place. Megan was a young woman with a backpack; she walked into the alley, looking nervous and after waiting a few moments, a figure in a large coat and cap appeared. The team stood on the roof with Mansoor peering over the side. Kisi remained in the Cloudburst, concentrating on Megan.
“I have eyes on her handler,” Mansoor told the group, “It’s Recall.”
“Dammit,” Alam muttered.
“I hate that guy so much,” Bronson continued.
Recall was a high ranking member in the Second Phase with a mostly mechanical brain that gave him the abilities of photographic memory, photographic reflexes and predictive movement. This made him a deeply frustrating person to fight. He was tall and slender. His hat and coat covered the partially bionic limbs and the metal plate covering the back of his skull.
“Hello, Megan,” he said with a half-smile, “You can call me Christopher. I’m friends with your recruiter.”
“I… haven’t heard anything from him. I thought, maybe -“
“It’s nothing you should concern yourself with. I’ve been reading your correspondences. You’ve realized the flaws in our society and you’ve come to the correct realizations. The Second Phase wishes to fix those problems and propel humanity into true peace and harmony, the likes of which, have never been seen. Of course, there are certain power structures that stand in our way…”
Up above, the team watched. “My ears are good but they aren’t that good,” Mansoor said, “What are they talking about down there, Kisi?”
“Typical brainwashing stuff,” she responded telepathically to the entire team, “… Oh, now, we’re getting to the plan.”
The agents stood silently as she continued to “listen” to the conversation. Mansoor’s concentration was the first to break, however, as she picked up the sound of a rapidly approaching enemy. She turned and even though the man was mostly a blur to the others, she could identify him well enough even if she could not react to his speed. Klausman was the second to notice the Second Phase assassin known as Rapid. He was short with a red protective suit covering his body and green lenses on his mask. He never stopped on the rooftop, preferring to dash around the agents before disappearing down the side of the building while radioing his team. A smile spread across Klausman’s face, “He’s mine,” and he disappeared just as quickly.
Frakes blinked but otherwise showed little reaction as she asked, “What was that?”.
“Rapid,” Mansoor answered as she prepared to drop,” Klausman is giving chase. I heard him radioing his team so we’ll have company.”
“As long as I get to kick Recall in the bullocks,” Bronson leapt off the building with Mansoor and Frakes dropping behind. Alam shrouded himself with telekinetic energy and hovered down while Jones teleported to ground level. Kisi, meanwhile, remained in the Cloudburst and ensured Megan Denning froze in place. Below, Recall noticed Megan’s eyes going dead while her body remained stiff and upright. Instantly recognizing the tell-tale signs of telepathy at work, he removed his hat and coat, then turned to face the Badges dropping into the alley.
Bronson stood from a landing position, cracked granite underneath his boots. “Right in the bullocks,” he lunged forward with a kick which Recall blocked. “You tried that exactly three years, eight months and one week ago,” he sneered and then blocked a punch, “There’s nothing you can do that I don’t already have a counter for.” He somersaulted away from Bronson’s third attack.
“And what’s that move from?,” Bronson asked, “Some little girl gymnast?”
“Yes, Mary Lou Retton, footage circa 1984,” Recall’s tone was completely void of humor but somehow still bragadocious.
“This is why I hate this guy,” he told Alam.
“We all do,” Alam acknowledged.
The team noticed a very large shadow looming over them and turned to see Rampart. “He kinda bugs me too if I’m being honest,” Rampart threw a punch at Bronson who ducked and delivered a kick to his gut, which brushed him back. Alam followed it up with a telekinetic burst that sent Rampart into the street.
“Rampart’s back sooner than expected,” Mansoor began searching the alley for more opponents, “Who else?”
“Incoming,” Frakes warned and the remaining agents scattered as Alpha and Omega dropped down from above, swords drawn. Frakes phased, allowing Alpha’a sword to pass through her. “I have eyes on … Alpha or maybe Omega,” she called out. Mansoor flew over the head of Omega, “And… I have the other one, apparently.”
Jones teleported, reappearing in front of Recall who was ready with a punch to the heart, dropping her to the alley floor. “I predicted your move. It’s one you’ve used five times,” he said coldly as he stood above her, “I have at least 3,467 more counters for it.” She stood up and threw a punch, but he spun around her, wrapped his arms around her waist and supplexed her to the ground once more. “That one was from footage of Rex Robinson fighting Red Steel shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union,” he explained coldly. “You really need to stop explaining your powers, we get it,” Jones said as she clutched her head in pain. Mansoor swooped in for an attack but Recall snatched her by the ankle and threw her into a garbage can nearby.
Several blocks away, Klausman and Rapid raced down the street. Rapid threw several punches, which Klausman blocked. “Haven’t you proven yourself enough times?,” Rapid said, his voice altered from being spoken at high speeds. “Nope,” Klausman said as he continued to block and deflect the attacks. As they ran, a semi-truck headed their way, prompting both men to dart around on either side, quickly finding themselves in the middle of an intersection where they looped around and raced back toward one another. Rapid came in with a punch but Klausman dropped to his side, sliding along the pavement with enough force to trip Rapid and send him tumbling down the street.
In another part of the city, Bronson leapt off the hood of a car and slammed both fists across Rampart’s jaw. Rampart staggered back but responded by backhanding Bronson hard enough to indent him into the side of a van. Rampart followed it up with a kick, but Bronson rolled out of the way, allowing the van to be knocked over into the building beside them.
“You’re harder to hurt than I am,” Rampart began, “But you hit like a bitch. The lab guys design what powers they give you, right? Couldn’t they have given you super strength as well?”
“It’s about the team, not the individual,” Bronson jumped into the air and Alam caught him in a telekinetic cushion. Twin telekinetic streams were launched on either side, latching on to the buildings on each end of the street. “You wouldn’t get it,” Alam explained and telekinetically pulled Bronson back before launching him forward like a stone from a slingshot. “Crap,” Rampart muttered just before Bronson slammed into his chest, sending him down the street and through a concrete wall.
Back in the alley, Mansoor and Jones both took to the sky but Recall shot vertically into the air, spinning into a kick that took both women to the ground. “Excellent strategy but my predictions were accurate,” he explained. Sensing her teammates were in trouble, Kisi took control of Megan Denning’s body while Recall’s back was turned. She lunged forward in a flying kick to the back of his head, forcing him to the ground. “Fascinating,” the concept of being taken by surprise was not something he was used to, so Jones capitalized on the situation and grabbed him by the shoulders, then teleported him into the air where Mansoor flew into his chest. He hit the brick wall behind him hard enough to crack it, then dropped to the alley floor in a heap. Meanwhile, Frakes continued to phase to avoid being sliced in half by Alpha and Omega. She could only stay phased for a certain period of time before being exhausted and knew time was running out. She reached out, partially phasing a fist into a nerve cluster inside Omega’s chest. The cyborg screamed and collapsed, leaving her sister alone. Alpha backed against the wall as the three women approached.
Suddenly, a glowing, rectangular shape emerged under Alpha and her unconscious sister. “Time to go,” the Badges heard a robotic voice say. The two women fell into the rectangular shape and disappeared. The Badges quickly turned their attention toward Recall, only to see him disappear in an identical manner.
“Gate,” Frakes sighed. Gate was the name of the reported sixth member of that particular team. He had the ability to open door-shaped portals and often acted as a “getaway driver” for Second Phase operatives. Klausman appeared in a dash a moment later, “I had Rapid dead to rights but…”
“… He disappeared?,” Mansoor asked.
“Same happened to Rampart,” Alam added as he and Bronson arrived.
“They may have escaped but hopefully Kisi has all the information we need,” Frakes turned to Megan who remained standing in the alley.
“I know their entire plan,” Kisi explained telepathically, “And we must act fast.”
Somewhere, a large, spherical ship rose into the air. Down below, a crowd chanted, “Abandon the flesh! Enter the Second Phase!”