The Iron

She arrived at the hanger in a car she “borrowed” from somebody.  She never used the same one twice and she always made sure that the vehicle was back in its place before the owner could come out of the trance she put them in.  Quinn was in a good mood.  They didn’t know anything about her work with Winter’s Shadow.  It was a good assumption that they wouldn’t care about a Number who is with one of their soldiers beyond if she was a direct threat or not.  The poor simpletons.  They have no clue how dangerous I really am.  But no matter, I’m safe, for now.  While things were changing, she finally felt that she had a firm grasp of the situation.  Now, it was on to more pressing matters, like her revolution.

The hanger was quite old.  It had been used during the war as a hideout for the military.  The impacts on the walls told an ugly story.  She parked the car and got out.  Her mask and persona as the Wolf were on.  It was time to get to work.  She walked in, seeing Deathstroke, Ghost, Gabby and Riddler were already here, along with several of their lieutenants.  She wasn’t surprised that Merc never came to these meetings.  Gabby was his envoy and he caught every word through a headpiece that had unbelievable range and clarity.  Something to look into – the tech that made it work.  Her latest device was sitting in the center of the room.  Large, covered mostly in a tarp, incomplete.  Riddler had assured her that it would be done soon.  There was a little time, and he always came through.
Deathstroke walked over, leaning in close.  “Deadshot got word to me this morning – the Specials trashed the hideout of some of his people.  We had Oracle conference him in but he’s at one of the safe-houses a ways north of here.”
“That’s…problematic, but whatever.  At least he’s safe.”  It was a setback she could afford.  If the globalization of communication had one upside, it was that reaching far-away audiences was easier than ever.  And thanks to their link to PRISM, they now had access to the entire spy network of the Empire.  Truly, she had the keys to the chocolate factory.  Now it was time to make it work for her.  Again.
“Alright, let’s get this meeting underway.  Everyone make your way to the conference room.”  They started to head that way.  “Riddler, a moment, if you please.”
He walked over, leaning against the tarp that covered his latest project.
“I need this done in the next week.  Can you do it?”  Her tone was dead-serious
The man smiled, winking at her.  “You know it.  It don’t look like much now, but we’ve almost got this project finished.  All we have to do is cover it.  Something tells me that this is a project that is going to heat up fast.”
Wolf looked up at him.  “But of course.”  She motioned for him to follow.  It was time to get the ball rolling on larger plans.  She had a gut-feeling that something was up.

The conference room was pretty typical.  A large oak table, a few TV screens at the front of the room and a laptop at the head of it.  The group took their seats as the room went dark.  Wolf cued up Oracle.
“We got everyone tuned in?”
The voice of a young man replied, “yes ma’am.  We’re good to go.  I got Merc linked in too.  No reason that he should have to get all his info from Gabby’s earpiece.”  There was a chuckle.  Gabby looked annoyed.
“Alright then, for those who aren’t aware, the Empire is ramping up efforts to find us.  Understandable.  We just hit them on their own turf.  The mission in Seward was an overwhelming success.”
“The fleet the Empire assembled has retreated back to Vancouver, for now,” Oracle chimed in.
“Indeed.  Now, we should strike while the iron is hot.”
Deathstroke leaned back.  “And just what the hell does that mean?”
Wolf stared back at him.  “It means what I said.  This is the perfect time to launch another attack.  I have a very specific target in mind, and Riddler has nearly completed the mechanism I need to do it.”
“What target?” Merc replied.
“Oracle, show images from Operation Beta 7.”
“On it.”
The TV screens came on, showing pictures of a military base.  It was large, well-defended and had a bunch of hangars that were massive.
“What you’re seeing is a base just north of Lake Kasba.  It’s being used to construct engines for more airships like the one we took down in Seward.  That one was a prototype that was meant to lead their war machine into Asia.”
The group sat there, very quiet.  This didn’t feel good.
Finally, it was Merc who spoke.  “I’m assuming that you have a plan for this.”
Wolf smiled under the mask.  “I do indeed.  We’re going to bring down the entire base.  In just under half an hour.”
Everyone was speechless.
Finally, it was Deadshot who spoke.  “No fucking way!  We’ve done a lot of crazy things, but that’s just nuts!  How do you plan on getting this done?”
Gabby leaned forward as well.  “And why would they build these things long-hand?  Why not mass-produce them?”
Riddler shook his head.  “No way.  The fuel that these engines use is delicate.  Mass-production is not.  It’s time-consuming, but necessary.”
Everyone nodded.  They still didn’t know what the exact nature of the fuel they used was.  Except Riddler, and Oracle.  Probably Merc too.
“I plan to use the new machine that Riddler is constructing to bring the entire base down around them.  This mission will be a covert one.  I will have Merc’s people disguise themselves as base personnel, with Ghost and his unit covering us.  We will drive the machine into the base, plant it in the drainage system underneath the center of the base and get out.  We will activate the device remotely and as I said, it will be done in half an hour.  Merc, I trust this is okay with you?”
A brief pause.  “You don’t mean for them to be getting shot at, right?”
“Absolutely.  If guns start firing, that means that something went wrong.  But I will keep Ghost and his unit there for protection, along with Deadshot and his unit in the nearby area as well.  They will never be in harm’s way.  Not directly, anyway.”
“Alright then, you’ve got my go-ahead.  Gabby, get the people you trust most and follow Wolf’s lead.”
The girl was shaking a bit, but nodded.  “You got it, boss.”  She looked to Wolf and nodded.  Wolf could see how nervous she was.  I’ll chat with her later.
Oracle came on suddenly.  “Head’s-up, boss!  You’ve got several incoming vehicles!”
Everybody got up.  Wolf looked to Ghost, who vanished as she did.  He wouldn’t go far.  That man was indeed a precious investment.
“What kind, and how many?”
“It’s cars.  Typical Asian-model cars.  There are seven of them in total.”
She relaxed a bit.  “Alright, everyone, we have guests.  Keep it cool, unless they try something.”  She was looking specifically at Deathstroke, who had his blades in-hand and seemed itching to use them.

The headlights of the cars could be seen at the front, parking.  The group assembled in the hangar, sitting wherever there was a chair.  Except for Deathstroke, who kept VERY close to Wolf.  A loyal man.  She made a note to remember that for the future.  The door to the hangar opened and in walked several men in suits.  They were armed with sub-machine guns.  It was new models, military-grade.  The men were all Japanese.  Wolf got a pretty good idea who this was going to be.  She made a point to find out how they found their location later.
After the security was covering the door, in walked several other people.  Their faces were kept in the shadows.  They don’t want us to know who they are.
Wolf looked at Deathstroke.  He just nodded.  She knew she could trust him to keep his cool.  That was good.  There were five men in the room of importance.  But who were they?  Their security pointed their guns directly at the members of Winter’s Shadow.
“Tell your people to disarm.  We don’t want this to be…confrontational,” one man remarked, in their language.
Deathstroke laughed, “that’s rich, coming from the guys who have guns pointed at us!”
“A necessary safety precaution.  One can’t be too careful.  Now, disarm.  I won’t ask again.”
Wolf snapped her fingers.  Out of nothing, Ghost and his people materialized.  They had guns almost on the heads of the important people they had, along with several in security.
“Oh, I think that we’re the ones who have the power in this situation.”  Suddenly, she knew.  That voice, she had heard it before.  “Genbu Sumeragi, one of the heads of Matsumoto Industries.”
The group was stunned.  The security chief raised his weapon to Wolf.  “Anyone who knows that name must die!”
“Lower that fucking gun or I will take your boss’ head off, asshole!” Ghost snarled.  “Along with the rest of these pieces of shit!  Do you get me?!”
The security people stood down.  Wolf started laughing.
“Ah, how pedestrian.  You’re soft, and your methods are outdated.  If you had come to me under a banner of peace, we might have had something to talk about.  As it stands, you have insulted me, so my people will see you out.”  She started to walk away.
A younger man stepped into the light.  He had a dark look on his face.  “Our apologies, Wolf.  My…associates are suspicious people.”
“I caught that.”
“Perhaps we can begin again.  My name is Ayato Kusaragi.  I am another of the heads of Matsumoto Industries.  We came here to offer our support in your war to bring down the Empire.”
That got her attention.  “Alright, I’m listening.  Make an offer, but make it good.”
The man nodded.  “We understand that you are looking to make connections in Asia to get better technical prowess.  We might be able to offer that.  The R&D at our offices have been hard at work preparing for our own war with the Empire that seems months away.  We can use it to help you.”
Wolf turned back around, facing him.  “And what do you get in return?  Money seems a little small-time for your industry.”
The man smiled.  “We want tech designs from the Empire.  Nothing would make our nation prouder than to be able to turn the enemy’s own weapons against them.  We understand you brought down an airship of theirs recently.  A prototype.  Do you have the specs for it?”
Wolf smiled under the mask.  So that’s their game.  “I have basic specs, but none on the engines.”
The man looked back at his cohorts, who all still had guns pointed at their heads.  They nodded.
“We can work with that.  For all the new technical data you can furnish us, we can get you armor, satellite links, weapons and even some new vehicles of our own.  As a gesture of good faith, we have a vehicle that might interest you.  It’s an armored command vehicle that is outfitted with the best defenses and tech that money can buy.  We have it waiting for you at the port in Vancouver.  You’ll find it with a man who is loyal to us.  We’ll send the information to you once our business has concluded.”
“Alright then, we have a deal.”
An older man stepped forward.  “Wait!  Before we make this deal, we must have a gesture of good faith from you.  Lose the mask!  Otherwise, no deal.”
Wolf looked at him long and hard.  “I’m sorry you feel that way.  Ghost, see them out.”
“Gladly, boss.”
“Wait!”  Riddler said.  “We’re just going to throw them out, because they want to see your face?!  That’s nuts!  This is a great opportunity!”
“I am inclined to agree, Wolf.  Are you certain?” Deathstroke replied.
She looked up at him.  “I am.  Sorry, gentlemen, but I can’t give you what you want.  Ghost, get them the fuck out of here.”
“You got it.  Move, assholes!”  They started walking away.  The youngest of them gave her an imploring look, but it meant nothing to her.  Her identity was a secret.  It had to be that way.

Back in the conference room, it was a much more sour mood.  “Alright, so, we will begin this operation the moment that Riddler completes the device.  Understood?”
There were murmured noises of agreement.  It was the best she could get.
“Alright, then you are dismissed.”
They all started walking away.  Only Gabby remained.  She sat there, looking over at Wolf.  “Do you really think that this is the right thing to do?  This could be a great opportunity for Winter’s Shadow.  A corporate network could help us immeasurably.”
She sat back in her chair, enjoying the darkness.  “I am sure.  Those fossils would use their power to try and coerce me into doing what they want.  Not going to happen.  I would have liked their resources too, but that’s how it goes.”  She caught that girl’s look.  “You don’t agree?”
She nodded.  “I don’t.  This is the best opportunity that we have ever had.  How could you just throw it away like that?”
She clicked the button underneath the mask, which raised the back of it up.  She slid it off, looking right at the girl with her own eyes.
“Gabrielle, my identity must remain a secret, at all costs.  If it weren’t for you having seen who I am, I would have not told you either.  I’m glad that you kept it a secret from Merc.  That means a lot.  However, it must be this way.”
“But-!”
She shook her head, walking over.  “I need to know that you’re with me, Gabby.  The others will stay with me.  I get things done, so they will put up with it.  You, on the other hand, are my only voice to the Runners.  Will you put your faith in me?  Can you do that?”  She stood over the girl, her arm’s on her shoulder’s.
Gabby closed her eyes.  She felt something inside of her.  She didn’t know what it was.  It felt good.
“I’m with you, Quinn.  Until the end.”
She smiled.  “That’s my girl.  Now, head out of here for now.  We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Gabby got up, smiling at her as she walked away.
Quinn sat back in the chair.  She just had to turn away help because they were stubborn.  A pity, but it had to be done.
Just then, Oracle came on.  “Hey boss, that young guy with the group, he just sent a message.”
She rubbed her temples.  “What message?”
“He said that the command vehicle was still waiting for us, and he would honor your arrangement with him, regardless of what the others thought.”
The dark smile came back.  “Excellent!  Let him know I appreciate it.”  She cut the link.

The closer people say they are, the further apart they drift.  It’s the laws of nature.

Until next time, a quote,

“The more you learn, the less you know.”  -Omar Little, The Wire

Peace out,

Maverick

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One thought on “The Iron

  1. Pingback: Quinn | Lucien Maverick's Blog

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