Spring was in full bloom. Color was coming back to the Canadian landscape. Quidel walked into a very quiet bar, outside of the city. The loud music of clubs in bars he had been to before were not to his liking. Black Mask was a man of quiet contemplation. The title Wolf had given him, he was growing to like it more and more. It seemed fitting, since his name and face were in a mask. An armor suit was being made for him, with a helmet befitting the title. He didn’t mind. It was only for protection, during battle. Black Mask. It was how he felt right about then.
As his mind wandered, the door opened. In civilian gear, Deathstroke came in. He sighted the general, smiling. He walked over, sitting at the bar next to him.
“So, you aren’t a fan of the noise, too, I see.”
The old general chuckled. “It’s a young person’s world, these days. Old farts like us just don’t fit in.”
“Indeed. This is the youngest army I have ever served with. God, the war feels like ages ago. So long, with so many comrades lost.”
Lifting the glass of scotch he had, he asked, “you ever hear from any of the old unit? Anyone from the old army?”
Deathstroke shook his head. “No. Most of them have settled in to life as a Number. I would have probably joined them, if it weren’t for Wolf.”
That got the man’s attention. “Yes, this, ‘Wolf.’ Why are you so loyal, Franc? I mean, she’s just a kid! What’s more, she hides her face! How can we ever trust her?!”
The man got a glass of his own, taking a drink. “Because I saw her talent. First day I met her, she was leading a resistance force that was opposing the Imperials in Toronto. It was brutal! The Imperials decided that if the general public wouldn’t give up the ‘insurgents,’ then they would just slaughter everyone. I was there. First time I put my old training to use in years. I wasn’t with them, but I didn’t want to get killed. I heard Wolf over one of the comms that the resistance were using. She was amazing! You’d have been impressed. It was like she knew the enemy’s moves before they happened! She had the Runners of the city working with her, too.”
“Bullshit! The Runners are only loyal to cash! Why would they get involved?!”
Deathstroke smiled at him. “Because of Gabby. The girl using that NANO suit. She got the others to work with her, and Merc played ball. Guess because if they were in that part of the world, they would be killed too. It was like watching a beautiful performance at an opera house. It was a well-oiled machine. The Imperial military, against just a couple units of resistance, and the resistance was winning. Then, the Viceroy is killed! I swear, I was almost in shock! I was making my way out when I saw the broadcast of the Viceroy’s death. It was the first time that I saw Wolf, in her glory.
The screen came on, with a young woman standing in the ruins. She was with a few others.
“Attention, Empire of America! My name is Wolf! To you, I am nothing but another ‘Insurgent,’ to be put down, but to the people, I am your salvation! I say to you, the years of suffering will come to an end! Today, the Viceroy lays dead, and I am the one who took his life! Stand strong, people of Canada! Your chance to fight back against your oppressors is coming! Be strong, and I will see you to the other side!”
From where he was, heading through the streets, Franc saw the broadcast. His old eyes lit up. Amazing! Who is this woman?! It was a question he meant to have answered.
“It was incredible. When the Runners found me, I was looking for her. Gabby took me to her location. I swear, for the first time, I felt like a recruit again, nervous with a new command.”
She sat in a chair, in what was one a corporate office of the old city.
“Lieutenant Commander Francois Plamondon. Your military history speaks for itself. The White Sword, they used to call you, because of your skill with a blade. I was wondering if you were interested in helping me.”
While he was nervous, the man maintained a professional approach. “And how could I help you, Wolf? You have the people you worked with today. How can you fight a war with that?”
The girl chuckled. “Actually, they’re still trying to decide if they want to join me or not. But either way, it doesn’t matter. My forces will grow, as we fight. As we prove ourselves in battle, we will gain the loyalty of the various resistance groups across Canada.” She turned to face him, with the wolf-mask’s eyes seeming to peer through him. “So, will you help me?”
He looked down for a few minutes. She’s just a kid, and I’m no soldier anymore. My bones crack and my hair is pale as a corpse. What could she see in an old broken warrior like me?
Wolf seemed to read his apprehension. “You are still the White Sword, Commander. Do not doubt that. However, if you still do, I can help you hide it.”
That got his attention. “How?”
“By giving you a new name! You shall be called ‘Deathstroke!’ A new name, and a new warrior to go with it. I believe in you, and I know that you won’t let me down. So, will you help me?!”
“And the rest is history.”
The general was impressed. “She certainly doesn’t lack for confidence. And her skill in battle is impressive. But our enemy is a nation that has creatures like the Specials, airships that can use a fuel that seems almost endless and powerful armor suits that have powers unknown. How do we fight against that?!”
Deathstroke nodded, taking another drink. “By following Wolf. She’s got us backers, technical experts, combat specialists and even a Special.”
The man looked stunned. “A Special, but how?!”
He shrugged. “Got me. Apparently, she convinced a shape-shifting Special to join forces with us. Got us the intel to spring you. We’re still small, but we have an entire nation behind us. We can do this, Martin. I know we can!”
The two shared another drink, reminiscing about days long-past. As they got up to leave, Deathstroke noticed something. In the back of the bar, there was a young man. It was Deadshot! He was about to go over, when he saw someone with him. It was someone from his unit! They seemed…close. Fraternizing with your own troops? Disgraceful. Not to mention unprofessional. Yet, as he watched them, he noticed something – Deadshot’s eyes. They seemed distant. Like some far-off memory was giving him pain. I see, not love. Just…forgetting. I know that feeling well. He thought of the days with the daughter that he lost, thanks to the war. So much death. That was the real reason that he was fighting. Sure, helping a good cause was nice and all, but the reason that he wanted to fight as so that he could make the Empire pay, for what they had done. He remembered cheering her on at a soccer game, and her smiling at him.
I’m going to make them pay. Make them all pay for what was done to me!
Until next time, a quote,
“This is not vengeance. Revenge is not a valid motive, it’s an emotional response. No, not vengeance. Punishment.” -Frank Castle, The Punisher