By Leonard Pigg
Scarlet Ace was driving around the city in a stolen car, looking for trouble. He had stopped a mugging earlier, shooting the perp in the knee and leaving him for the police. Unsatisfied with stopping just one crime in Dalton City, he decided to continue driving around. It was midnight and a full moon, so he was certain something was bound to happen. The app on his cell phone had the police scanner playing, but the chatter among law enforcement was minimal at the time. Heading toward the downtown area, he figured something would happen there sooner or later. As he’s driving, he sees a robbery at a gas station. The gunman is fleeing the scene, so Ace veers across the parking lot and hits the gunman with the car. He is sent up and over the vehicle, landing awkwardly onto the ground. Reeling from the attack, he is dazed. Ace hops out of the car, picking up the gun and strikes the robber with it. The man screams and Ace keeps hitting him until he goes unconscious. The clerk at the station comes outside, looking on in disbelief. Ace picks up the bag of money and walks over to the clerk. “Keep the change,” he says as he hands the man the gun and the stolen money. “Let them know it was the Scarlet Ace that saved the day.” The clerk replies, “It’s all on video, man! I bet the news will pay a fortune for it.” Ace gives a thumbs up gesture and gets back into the damaged car, driving away in the night.
Some time later, he sees a group of guys chasing a woman across a college campus. “Good old McIntire College, a place of higher learning. These boys are about to learn a very valuable lesson tonight.” Ace thinks to himself as he pulls up a half block ahead of the group. He makes sure his mask is on and his guns are loaded. Hopping out of the car, he walks down the sidewalk casually toward the mob. The girl is screaming as they guys encircle her. They all stop dead in their tracks when Ace fires a round into the air. “Sorry, boys. There’s no violence on campus tonight, unless I’m doing it. I am an alumni, after all. What the hell’s going on?” Ace asks. “These guys wouldn’t let me go to campus police. My boyfriend overdosed!” the girl replies. “Shit. Where is he now? Take me there, I can help.” Ace says as they all run across campus to one of the dorms. They all head into the basement level and go into room 224. They show Ace their fallen friend that is on the ground, motionless. Scarlet Ace tells everyone to stand back and he pulls out a taser. He zaps the motionless student in the chest twice. The student convulses a few times, then rolls around on the ground and starts coughing. The group all huddle around their friend, cheering the fact that he’s still alive. While they’re all celebrating his being revived and not paying attention to the rest of the room, the Ace disappears from sight. Scarlet Ace rushes back toward the car, only to notice that its being towed away. “Oh well, I can always steal another one. Or call a taxi.” he says as he goes toward an alley to avoid being seen.
As he walks along, he hears the sound of someone snorting in the alley, then giggling. “Need a tissue? I’m fresh out.” Ace says, as he sees a disheveled man stumble from behind a dumpster. The man has a “Black Shirley” hoodie on and is wearing cargo pants. He has powder around his nose and his eyes start to get darker. Dark blue veins ripple across the man’s neck and he looks around, slowly starting to foam at the mouth. He glares at Scarlet Ace and asks, “Are you… really here? I don’t know what’s real anymore.” Ace holds up his hands and says, “Looks like you got some bad junk, man. Maybe you need a doctor or-” His words are cut short at the drug-addled man kicks Ace, sending him tumbling down the alley backwards. Ace springs to his feet and says, “That’s not normal strength. Time for the taser.” The man charges at Ace and yells, “Tase me, bro!” His speed was quicker than Ace’s, so the vigilante gets tackled to the ground. As the two wrestle around on the ground, Ace loses the taser and starts punching the man. The man’s nose bleeds black blood and he giggles. He then starts growling and headbutts Ace. The man starts to strangle the dazed vigilante until his body goes rigid and the sound of violence is interrupted by the sound of the taser. The man foams at the mouth and falls to the ground, shaking violently.
Standing behind him is the Golden Archer, a deputized superhero from Indianapolis that uses bows and an arsenal of trick arrows. He’s wearing a gold colored jacket with black trim, gold sunglasses, gold boots and black leather pants. He holds up the taser after using it and says, “I normally use electric arrows, but I figured I’d give this a try since I’m in your city, Ace.” Ace staggers to his feet and says, “I heard you got deputized by the Feds. You come to take me in, lawman?” Archer laughs and says, “Hell, no. I need your help. Seems our little friend here is addicted to the drug I’m tracking down. Besides, I always enjoy a good team-up. Figured we’d forego the brawl and let cooler heads prevail. Besides, you owe me a favor after I helped you stop that ninja death cult last month.” Ace goes over to the tasered junkie and kicks him in the gut. The man immediately vomits and cries. “Okay. Now that I’ve got that out of my system, we can totally team up.” Ace says cracking his knuckles. “I’ve been doing a good bit of research and even got some intel from the local authorities. You ever heard of a mobster called Tony Toiletti?” Archer holds up a photo of this balding mobster in a cheap suit, with a cigarette dangling from his lips. Ace laughs and says, “Yeah, good ol’ Tony the Toilet. He’s scum. That bastard sent the Bucocci Brothers after me a few months back after I blew up one of his meth labs.” Archer walks down the alley, gesturing for Ace to follow. Archer climbs up a fire escape to the roof, where he has a black and gold helicopter awaiting his arrival. The two get in the copter and Archer hands Ace police files for him to look over. “Damn, you were the one that put the Bucocci Brothers in the hospital? I’m impressed.” Archer says as he flies the copter over the city. Ace reads through the files and replies, “Power vacuum in the city, eh? Drug running from a mysterious source. This sounds like one hell of an adventure. I’m in, but don’t expect me to always play by the good guy code.” Archer smiles and says, “I know. The life of an anti-hero. I’ve been there, but working with law enforcement got me some cool toys to work with. Anyway, I figure we take this clown down tonight, as I followed a shipment of drugs here from Indy.”
Tony “The Toilet” Toiletti stares out the window of Manning Media Labs in downtown Dalton City. He’s got a nice view of the city, a made up position there to cover his illegal activities and keep the parole officer off his case. Outside the door of his office are three armed mobsters, keeping an eye out on their new boss. There was a number of gangland slayings the past few weeks, resulting in a serious power vacuum in the city. He’s one of the last made men in town and because of his time in the family, this enforcer has become the boss. Most of the new mobsters are Millennials that have to be reminded to shave and dress better. However, the new boss is making it work. With a skeleton crew in place, the Cagata Crime Family continues on. Having reached out to some of the other families in Ohio and Illinois, the Cagatas are on the verge of an almost entirely new group of mobsters running Dalton City. Tony does a line of cocaine off the table and nervously sips down whiskey. He paces back and forth, with his gun drawn not noticing the video on his security camera of his men being taken down by the Scarlet Ace and the Golden Archer. In recent weeks, the Archer became a deputized agent of the Indianapolis Police Department as part of an initiative by local governments to deal with the rising superhuman population. Despite being a loose cannon and known vigilante, the Scarlet Ace has made an arrangement with the Archer as the two have worked together in the past. While their team-up is successful, Tony’s world is beginning to crumble. He’s got a suitcase full of money and several kilos of Yellow King Heroin, which is a potent drug that has mutagenic properties. People that snort or shoot up Yellow King go into a frenzied state, which almost looks like a case of possession. Their eyes change colors, veins bulge from their limbs a deep blue and adrenaline flows like water through their bodies. The Yellow King’s dope grants properties similar to PCP and is highly addictive. Tony pats the stack of drugs and smiles, knowing that people will kill their own mother to get a hit of this new variation of an old drug. He holds up a small baggie with a smiley face wearing a crown on it and laughs.
“This was history in the making and I’m sure my father would have been proud, but I wish it was under better circumstances. My father Vito, was a made man in the Cagata Family long before I was born. When I was growing up, he was feared and respected. I also reaped the benefits of being the son of a made man. I was a boxer for a time, but ended up with a detached retina, which ended my career. After I graduated high school, I went into the family business and was running numbers. I started my growth spurt late, so when I hit my late teens, I was a pretty big guy. I probably could have been a football player, but that’s a fantasy life. My real life is much more fun. I can drink every single day, bang strippers, do coke and occasionally, whack somebody. After Vito died, I became an enforcer for Don Cagata and collected money. It felt like I was doing a good thing, shaking down these liars and degenerates. I got the nickname “Toilet” after I chased down some junkie bastard that owed the Don some money and tried to skip town. I caught him at the bus station in the men’s room, trying to shoot up before the bus arrived. We got into a fight and I beat him to death with the lid of a toilet seat. He had more than enough money in his pockets, but didn’t want to come off the cash. I did what had to be done. I gave the Don his money and kept the remainder for my self.” Tony says as he sits down at the table with the money and the drugs. He is talking to a masked man standing in the shadows, wearing a tuxedo. Behind him stand two large muscular men in suits. Both are large Samoan men with shaved heads and tattoos. The man’s white silk mask almost glows in the dark, in contrast to his black tux. “The King In Yellow will rule this city, then this realm. I don’t mind having someone like you at my back, Tony. You strike me as an honorable man and I reckon we’re going to get quite rich together. We’re also going to live forever like kings, under his reign.” the masked man says with a grin. “The world’s changing, Mr. Toiletti and you will be part of the new order, or my name isn’t Big Shot!” Big Shot sits at the table, next to Tony and takes a glance over at the video monitors. “Looks like we have a little company of the masked variety. It’s never good to have multiple masked men in one place, trust me. Perhaps we should head to the roof and make a hasty retreat?” Big Shot muses. Tony rises to his feet, does another line of cocaine and says, “Made men don’t run. They ain’t cops and this place is soundproof. We knock them off tonight. You game?” The sound of gunfire and violence fill the hallway outside Tony’s office, giving him pause. Big Shot sighs and says, “Well, I suppose I could entertain the guests. Esera and Etano? Feeding time.” Big Shot takes out two loaded syringes, with a dark swirling liquid inside. He injects the two bodyguards, both of whom burst from their jackets as muscles swell to almost inhuman proportions. Their veins bulge blue, as their eyes go bloodshot. “Jesus Jones…” Tony says as he looks on in disbelief.
Meanwhile, Scarlet Ace wield dual Uzis, fires at the mobsters outside Tony’s office. “Rubber bullets, today. You boys are lucky I’m not in a killing mood.” he says smiling underneath his mask. Golden Archer fires an explosive arrow at the ceiling over the mobsters, burying them in debris. “Fire in the hole! The sooner we get through these idiots, the sooner I can have some beer. You’re buying.” Archer says, as he ducks down from the explosion. The group of mobsters fall before the attack of the two costumed heroes and the hallway is filled with dust and smoke. When all is silent, the two walk to the end of the hallway and see the double doors. Just as Ace is about to open them, a pair of muscular hands burst through the side wall and grab him. “What the hell?” he says as he struggles to prevent being pulled through. Archer stabs the enlarged hand with an arrow, then breaks the pinky finger. An unearthly roar is heard from the other side of the wall, as the Scarlet Ace wiggles free from the arms. When Ace hits the ground, he springs back to his feet with guns blazing. Esera bursts through the wall taking the errant gunfire to the gut, but still tackling Ace. The force of his attack sends Ace tumbling down the hall. Archer launches a series of strikes to the side of Esera, who growls and grabs him into a bear hug. Archer takes an arrow in each hand, repeatedly stabbing Esera in the neck. Etano comes through the wall and rushes toward Scarlet Ace, who leaps into the air and dropkicks the massive bodyguard in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. Ace then takes out his gun and starts pistol whipping the massive man, who head-butts him and staggers back. Tony and Big Shot look on at the chaos in the hall, peeking through the hole in the wall. Esera’s blood is discolored, spurting out all over the ground and onto Archer, who continues to stab the monstrous man with his arrows. He notices Esera lets him go and howls, as his skin burns. Archer looks down at the arrows and says, “These were acid tipped. Sorry, man.” Esera begins smoldering around his stab wounds, while Archer kicks him back through the hole in the wall. Tony and Big Shot back away, just as the dying Esera flops to the ground and as he bleeds out, he shrinks back to normal proportions. “This must be where the bad guys are hiding.” Archer says, as he loads two explosive arrows and fires them into the hole. The arrows both explode inside, tearing out more of the wall, with smoke and fire going everywhere. The blast knocks him back against the far wall and he loads another arrow, firing it into the back of Etano. The electrified arrow zaps the massive bodyguard and he screams, falling to his knees. “Looks like I owe you one. Again.” Ace says as he walks over to Archer. The two both reload their weapons and go into Tony’s office.
The room is burning and the window is blown out from the explosion. Smoke and debris are everywhere, as it billows out into the Dalton City night. Tony is on the ground, crawling toward his gun. He is injured, covered in blood and burns to his body. The two crime-fighters go toward the fallen mobster, with Ace kicking the gun out of his reach. “Wasn’t there someone else? Where’s your buddy, Toilet?” Tony spits at Ace, as Archer handcuffs the injured mobster. “Check the room, I’ve got Tony the Toilet, here.” Archer says. Ace rushes around the room, looking around and finds no trace of anyone else there, except for a silk mask. Ace picks it up and says, “This is the only souvenir we’ve got.” Tony looks at the mask and says, “Big Shot… Where the hell did he go?” Ace finds the damaged kilos of Yellow King Heroin and sees the suitcase of money. He opens the damaged case and empties the money out the window, as the wind blows it across the city. Tony the Toilet screams, as he sees the money drifting away. Archer scoffs, knocking him unconscious with a quick jab to the face. “We have enough evidence to take him down. I’m radioing this in. I’ll meet you later at the usual place, Ace. Don’t forget the beer.” Archer says as he takes out a walkie-talkie. Ace takes out a grappling gun and fires a hook over to the next building. He swings away from the scene of the crime, as police cars surround the building on the streets below. “Later, man.” Ace says as he sails off into the night. Archer drags Tony into the hall and sits down on the floor next to the unconscious mobster. He takes out a cigar, lights it and waits for the police to swarm the building. “Don’t worry, Tony. Most of your boys are alive, just injured. You’ll have some interesting things to talk about in the prison hospital, I’m sure. Your friend Big Shot got away, but I’m sure he’ll turn up soon. Sorry about all that money getting wasted, a real shame.” Archer says, then takes a long puff off of the cigar and sighs.
Later that night, the Golden Archer rides his motorcycle through downtown Dalton City toward the north side of town. He pulls up near Kay Pierce Plaza, an industrial park and slows down. He wheels into an area where he sees an RV parked. The RV is covered with graffiti and has a large anarchy symbol on the rear. He parks his bike and goes over to the vehicle, knocking. Checking the door, which is unlocked, he walks in. Scarlet Ace is sitting at a table, with a cooler full of beer and has a bottle of vodka in his hand. “Come on into my humble commode, as Tony the Toilet might say.” Ace says and the two laugh. “We made the news, top of the hour. Tony the Toilet is going be getting used like one in prison, I imagine. I really appreciate your assistance, man. I’ve not had a silent partner before, but this is working out really well.” Archer says as he sits down and grabs a beer from the cooler. The two both clink bottles together and start drinking. “So, are you ready to tell me who you really are under that mask yet? I did save your life a couple of times, you know.” Archer says as he takes a big swing and then adds, “The RV is registered to a Huck Finn, so I’m wondering if that’s who you really are?” Scarlet Ace laughs and says, “Of course not. It’s a loaner from him. He and I are pretty good friends, though. I guess you’re right… Ned, is it?” Archer looks on surprised and removes his mask. “I guess I don’t really need this anymore, then.” Scarlet Ace pulls off his mask, tossing it onto the table and says, “Hi, Ned. I’m Tom Sawyer. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.” The two shake hands and continue drinking into the night.