|Serial Feature: Bad Guys, Part I, "An Auspicious Beginning..."
story by: Stephen R. Sobotka Jr. & Tony "Marios" Teakles
issue date: 9/2/03
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Disclaimer: the characters of the main "Gargoyles" series are the creation of Greg Weisman and his staff, and the property of Disney and Buena Vista Television. Other characters from "The Gargoyles Saga" are the creation of the TGS Project, and are owned by them. They are used here without permission, but with all due respect.
All other characters are the sole creation of the authros, and cannot be used without strict, written permission beforehand, and should not be re-posted in any form or format without like permission.
Part One - "An Auspicious Beginning..."
Writen by Stephen R. Sobotka Jr. & Tony Teakles
Original Outline by Stephen R. Sobotka; Additional Material by Tony Teakles
~ Somewhere Somewhen ~
There was a soft knock at the door...
The person waiting inside the room rose from one of the two chairs occupying the windowless room, moving across the padded carpet towards the door. While the door wasn't locked, the occupant pressed a hand to the palmscan plate, unlatching it with a soft 'breep' from the computer lock. Noiselessly, the door slid wide open, flooding the room with the soft amber light from the hallway beyond, and highlting the occupant's face in half-shadow.
Bracketed in the doorframe, a lone figure paused there; it's form almost masked by the heavy coat covering it from throat to foot. From the girth of its shoulders, it appeared to be huge, male and slightly impatient.
Occupant and visitor stood facing each other, neither saying anything as they examined one another.
"I knew you'd come," the occupant admitted finally.
The visitor simply nodded. "I had to know." An arm emerged from within the silohuette; a fist crumpling the note containing the address that led them to this place. "After all... you know."
The occupant nodded, then motioned the tall figure inside. "I'm sorry... I'm being a bad host." Pulling back, she allowed the visitor entry, releasing the door latch to let it slide home. "Have a seat, please. Would you like something to drink?"
The taller form stood with his back to their host, remaining on their feet. "I didn't come for a social call. I want some answers."
Sighing, the occupant moved towards the chair she'd been using. "You should sit down. This...will take a while."
WIthout another word, the guest planted himself in the remaining chair, sitting up straight with both arms crossed over his broad chest. With an impatient grunt, he promted, "Start at the beginning, and tell me everything."
Leaning back, the host sighed and shook her head slowly. "Some choice of words... but, ironic. Considering that Life is full of beginnings. I'll pick one in the middle and go from there."
The guest nodded, waiting.
"You may have heard a little about this before... considering the search it took for you to find me," the host said, settling into a semi-relaxed tone. "Now, I'll tell you our side of it... how it all really happened."
~ An Unknown Location, Two Weeks After the End of the SUW ~~
"Come in," came the reply.
With the practiced ease that comes from years of service, Mr. Barbousse entered and closed the doors to the large office without making a sound. Casting a quick glance, the short, brown-haired man noted that most of the signs of construction had been cleared away. Only a light film of gypsum dust from some of the remaining building tasks lingered in some places in the wide spaces between the decorative art pieces placed here and there along the walls.
Looking towards the head of the room, he spied the wide, oblong desk that dominated the space in front of wide back wall of the office. A running laptop sat there, taking the place of the huge flatscreens that had yet to be linked up to the main network. Seated there amid the glow from the laptop's screen, a tall backed chair cast a shadow over face of its occupant; their face masked in the shadows.
As Barbousse approached, a pair of hands emerged into the light, coming together to form a steeple out of their fingertips. "Report, Mr. Barbousse," the occupant said softly. "How are things progressing?"
Barbousse cleared his throat, pulling an electronic notepad out of the pocket of his dark blue suit. Brushing a hand over his hair, he tried to put on his usual professional air. However, the toll of long hours recently spent over days were showing in his rough-stubbled face.
"The Ground Level structural work has been completed," he stated. "The main hangar is about sixty-percent complete... I'm told we're having troubles with the primary hydtralics on the master lift there." Pausing, he frowned as he scanned down the notepad's readout. "Renovations for the personnel rooms have begun. Most of the equipment and hardware is now on-site. Comm sytems are now installed, but finishing the main communications room has been delayed until some needed components arrive."
"They will be coming within the required timeframe," his employer replied evenly. "Continue."
"We're still running off of auxillary generator power," he continued, starting to pace in front of the desk out of habit. "It will take a few more weeks to bring the mainline reactor on, in any case."
He ran down a list of minor problems from other sections, while the figure behind the desk offered a comment or two from time to tiem. In the end, Barbouuse looked at his employer and stated finally, "The long and the short of it, Sir, is that it will take several more months before the base is completed."
The hands flexed, one cupping the other as their owner behind the desk sighed. "And what about the candidates?"
Barbousse touched a part of the notepad, bringing up another display of data. "As you know, Sir, events recently between the Unseelie and the Gargoyles forced many of our contacts to go to ground. For the most part, they've now re-established their monitoring. A few of the secondaries have eluded location, but we now have solid information on all the primaries."
"And where is this information now?" his employer asked.
Barbousse reached beside him and placed an overstuffed satchel on the desk, sliding it towards the figure before stepping back. The hands reached out, taking hold of the leather case before slowly tugging it back with considerable effort. Watching impassively, Barbousse caught sight of the color coded folders inside; which his employer removed one at a time to scan the cover sheets and photos attached to the outside of each one.
Eventually, the hands returned the stack to the satchel and close it tight. "Very well... begin the recruitment phase."
Barbousse blinked. "Sir? I'm not sure if this is the right time. As I reported, the base is nowhere near-."
His employer cut him off by saying, "Have the construction teams begin double-shifts to speed up the process.
Tell them that they don't have to work around the existing stonework. Increase their wages. Whatever it takes."
Arching one eyebrow, Barbousse asked, "Sir, are you certain this is the wisest course to take?"
The hands folded together, forming a knot of fingers over both palms. "Events have dictated... this is the only course of action to take.Our operation must be completed ahead of schedule." With that, the hands retreated back into the shadows. "You have your orders, Mr. Barbousse," the figure stated with a note of finality.
"At once," Barbousse replied, recovering the satchel and its contents before turning to leave. Upon reaching the doors of the office, he paused then for a moment to look back at his employer, as if to say something... However, the chair at the desk had turned around, and the laptop had been closed down. With only a couple of accent lights lit around the rest of the office, the entire back wall was now wreathed in darkness.
Combing his fingers through his hair once more, Barbousse turned away and started through the door once more... yes, he had his orders, and the imperitive to execute them. As he did before, he slipped outside and closed the doors silently, and was gone.
~ Manhattan General Hospital, Physical Rehabilitation Wing, A few days later ~
Amid the whirl of the theraputic spa-baths and the reek of disinfectant, Dr. William Sutter and a physical therapist watched as their current patient went through his re-hap excercises. At the moment, that amounted to the man moving along between a pair of even parallel bars, using what little coordidnation his lower body still remained to stay upright.
"You know," Dr. Sutter commented, leafing through the paperwork on his patient's chart, "you're fitter than many athletes that come in here, despite your handicap."
The russet-haired man didn't reply. Focused on his current state and position, he tried to motivate his paralyzed legs to get them to move. A drop of sweat ran down his tension-lined brow for his effort. After several moments, it was apparent that he wasn't getting a response from his leg muscles.
Finally, the therapist reached over and tapped the man on his shoulder. "Okay, Jason... that's enough for now!" He slipped in behind the patient, catching him as the man let himself down from the bars.
Looking over his shoulder at the dark-skinned therapist, Jason Canmore blew out his cheeks and sighed. "Thanks, Pete. I guees I was... pushing it."
Pete smirked. "Oh, just a little." With relative ease, the taller man helped Jason manuver from between the support bars, over to a nearby table to cool down. Once there, Pete snagged some hot towels from a nearby wet kiln, drapping them over Jason's legs to stimulate the muscles.
While Pete worked on his patient, Dr. Sutter tried resuming the conversation he'd started before. "As I was saying, Jason, you're in better shape than a lot of the other paraplegics I work with. That alone is encouraging, but you seemed determined to push yourself harder than any man, woman or child I've ever taken on before!" He fixed the young man with a frank stare. "Why DO you push yourself so much?"
Wiping his brow with a dry towel, Jason looked over at his doctor with a guarded expression. "I have my reasons, Doctor. Chief among them... I don't hate anymore."
"Come again?" Dr. Sutter asked.
"Hate can drive a man for all his life," Jason explained, his eyes looking off towards some unseen place. The hate he was refering to was towards the gargoyles, though the ex-Hunter didn't say that aloud. "I've used hate to push myself... and others, to reach a place I'd wanted to be. Now, while the hate's gone, I've still got that drive to keep going."
"Well, all I know you're bound and determined to walk again," Dr. Sutter stated. "But you've got to be realistic about your limits. True, some paraplegics have regained the use of their legs, but that was only after years of healing and treatments. And while research looks promising, general-use results are still years... even decades away," Dr. Sutter added. "What ever your reasons are, you've got to wait for the results you're craving."
Jason closed his eyes, frowning. His thoughts shifted to one of the main reasons why he needed to walk again; his sister in prison. "I don't have that kind of time to wait." He reached out to grip Pete's shoulder, signalling the therapist to help him move from the table into his wheelchair.
Dr. Sutter moved to keep Jason in front of him, as Pete got the patient settled in the modified 'athlete-model' chair. "Jason, you shouldn't expect immediate results! No matter how much you may want them. If you try to rush things, you'll only worsen the damage already done by the accident."
This brought back Jason's memories of the night at St. Damien's - trying to stop the fight between his siblings and Goliath's clan. He could see Jon draw on Goliath. He could feel his legs push as he dove to stop the blast from killing the gargoyle leader. The flash of pain as the laser severed his spine. It had been an accident... Jonny wouldn't have fired if he'd known...
But Jason shoved the thought of compesating for his brother's mistake aside. Jon had made his bed, despite what Jason tried to tell him. And while he still loved his younger brother, he couldn't condone what Jon had tried to do: founding the Quarrymen, nearly causing as much pain and suffering as they - as the former Hunters - ever did.
"Doctor... no amount of damage can be worse than what's been done already," Jason stated, fixing Dr. sutter with a scowl. "I mean to get my legs back. No matter what it takes."
"But, Jason!" Dr. Sutter started to protest, but his words echoed in the therapy room as Jason motioned to Pete to wheel him to the changing room.
A short time later, Jason exited the main doors of the hospital, pausing in the foyer to gaze up at the grey skies overhead. The unnatural winter that had plagued the city during the nights Manhattan was attacked had long since left the city, but it was still a touch nippy with the overcast.
"Looks like things are getting back to some semblance of being normal," he muttered, zipping up his leather coat. "In some quarters, that is..." He started to roll forward, not eager to take the subway back uptown to his recently-acquired apartment...
...when a man in a dark overcoat and shaded glasses stopped in front of him.
Jason peered up, staring at the stranger. "Excuse me," he said flatly, gripping the wheels of his chair to manuver around him. Just then, another man - a rather LARGE man - moved to bracket him between the first man.
"Mr. Canmore?" the first man asked briskly. "Jason Canmore?"
Staring up at the larger of the two, Jason replied, "That's me."
Nodding politely enough, the first one said, "There are some pressing matters that my employer would like to discuss with you, Mr. Canmore."
Jason put his hands on the wheels of his chair, readying himself to turn and go. "I don't want to speak with anyone today." Whatever this guy's boss wanted to discuss, Jason had a nagging feeling that it could only lead to trouble.
The larger man took one small step sideways, as if to tell Jason to think again about leaving. His companion nodded again. "I understand, but I was told to insist, Mr. Canmore." He motioned to the side, whereupon turning to look, Jason spied a sleek, black van pulling up to the curb in front of the hospital. "If you will join us, everything will be explained."
Jason tensed. "Why not tell me now?"
The first man simply replied. "That is for my employer to discuss with you. I am just a delievery service."
All of Jason's instincts were telling him 'fight or flight'. He didn't like this... and he certainly didn't like these carbon-copy MIB's blocking him from going home. He started to get angry, but logic quickly quashed that emotion...after all, he was a cripple in a wheelchair. They were'nt abducting him by force, and if they meant any foul play, they didn't have to be civil about it.
Still, that nagging sense in the back of his mind... and all the while, the two men stood there and waited; seemingly endless with patience.
Sighing, he turned to face the van. "Okay, you've got my attention now."
~ Upper Manhattan Sometime Later ~
Jason drummed the right handbreak on his chair with his fingers, staring for the umpteenth time at the interior of the van. It had been a slight surprise that these strangers had come with a lift-equipped vehicle, but after what seemed to be a long stretch of time, his feelings of surprise and curiousity were worn paper-thin. "D'you mind tellin' me where we're goin' now?" he asked, trying semi-hard to keep the irritation from his voice.
Both men seated forward didn't say a word, or even turn to look over the rear-facing seat behind them to acknowledge his presence.
Jason sighed, pulling up the sleeve of his coat to peer at his watch. Nearly twenty minutes had elapsed since they left the front of the hospital... but with the windows tinted in the back so that he couldn't see out (or so anyone couldn't see in, he surmised), it felt like much more time had passed.
The van came alongside a low, long building; the one side lined with segmented, metal garage doors. A third of the way down, one of the doors opened up, and the driver smoothly turned the van into the entrance beyond. The door closed back into place, leaving no sign of the vehicle's passing...
Jason watched as the larger man slipped out through the passenger side door, catching the glimpse of bright overhead lights glowing against the stark, gray concrete ceiling. "Some sort of parking garage?" he muttered, wondering where his 'hosts' had brought him.
Suddenly, the side door opened to admit someone, who paused to say something to the large fellow before climbing inside to sit on the rear-facing seat in front of Jason. Arching one eyebrow, Jason sized up this new arrival carefully; it was a shorter man, perhaps five-three, with dirt-brown hair and fair skin-tone. Behind a pair of old-style hornrims, he surmised by the look in his dark eyes that the man was getting near fourty... maybe beyond that number. The dark busniess-cut suit, haircut and smell of recently-applied aftershave completed the 'office' ensemble look.
Pulling a brown satchel into his lap, The man turned to whisper something to the driver before attaching his own seatbelt. The larger man re-entered the passenger side, and when he closed the door, the van started moving again.
Silence filled the vehicle for a short span of heartbeats, before the newcomer cleared his throat softly. "My name is Barbousse, Mr. Canmore. Arturo Barbousse."
Jason merely nodded, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I am the personal aide to someone who wishes to remain knows as 'The Director'," Barbousse continued, speaking in an even, measured tone. "We wish to hire you for a special project that we have been organizing for several months."
Jason felt something wasn't being comepletely told just then, but he decided to play along with this 'game' for now. "Your... employer has a funny way of making a job offer. Why all this secrecy?"
"You must understand, Mr. Canmore, secrecy is and always will be paramount when working for the Director," Barbousse explained. "Since it is unclear whether you have any... undesirable contacts from some of the more unsavory elements in the world - former contacts with underground and terrorist movements, for starters - we had to be certain our security would not be compromised by contacting you."
"Ah-huh," Jason nodded, his pose promting Barbousse to continue.
"We also wanted to make sure you had not retained links back to your forme backers. The scattered remnants of your brother's Quarrymen-."
Jason cut him off sharply, growling, "Ah've got nothin' to do with Jon's former... associates!" He resented being reminded of that facet of hate that so poisoned his brother.
Barbousse didn't recoil or react adversely to Jason's anger. "My apologies," he said softly. For a moment, his featured took on a sympathetic visage, before turning serious again. "It was purely a precaution. A valid one, given the delicacy of this project."
"So, what is this project? What do y'need me for that's so important?"
"The Director is concerned about what certain factions and... elements in the world are doing; both in the public and private sectors. These elements pose a threat to this city, and to the world in general, if they are not kept in check or neutralized. It is the Director's goal to form a team of specialists to counter them before they cause undue harm."
Jason rubbed his chin in thought, his earlier anger quelled for the time being. "Sounds like when you drop control rods down into a nuclear reactor, if it's going critical. Use them and the whole thing shuts down, preventing a meltdown."
"A suitable analogy," Barbousse replied. "You would be the first member of this proposed team. According to sources, your input would be very much need to help in the selection of the other members. As well, you'll be expected to act as the team's field leader, under command of the Director."
Jason blinked, having been listening with a slightly interested ear until that point. "What? Y'can't be serious!"
Barbousse replied, "You have the nessesary qualifications to become Team Leader, Mr. Canmore."
"I think you'd better re-evaluate your thinking," Jason said with a slight touch of laughter, before he scowled down at his legs. "You really can't expect me to be an effective Team Leader! Not unless you're planning to shave me bald and give me psychic powers."
Unphased, Barbousse replied, "Our R&D funding has made little progress in that regard to date. However, there are more practical applications and enhancements that you will find effective to your current condition. Something that will improve your state by several degrees."
That brought Jason up short. "What's that? You... you can't mean, to say you'd be able, to... just how could you do that, Mr. Barbousse?"
"I'll take this to mean you're interested?" Barbousse pressed, defecting Jason's questions.
Jason leaned forward to fix Barbousse with a hard stare. "If you're offerin' what I think you are, damn right I'm interested!"
"We must have your answer soon then. The Director has put the project on a rigid timeframe, and we would like to have the team fully active in a few months time."
Jason slumped back in his chair, his brow knotted as he ran back over what Barbousse had told him. The ex-Hunter was still pretty skeptical about it all, because all things hinted at something rather big in the background of it all... but, if what one of the side benifits was possible... Suddenly, a flash of insight hit Jason. "If... If I accept, I can recommend whomever I wish to be on this team you're proposing, right?"
Barbousse nodded. "So long as they fit within the parameters of the team's functional profile, and meet our security protocols... yes. We have extensive files on numerous potential candidates."
"Then what about my sister?"
Barbousse shook his head. "She's still currently incarcerated in Riker's Island Penetentiary, still serving time for a variety of criminal charges."
Jason crossed his arms and stuck out his chin. "If you want me, you have to take her, too."
"Obtaining her aid would be difficult to accomplish-." Barbousse started to explain, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"If what you're saying about your employer is fact, then I'll assume he's got the resources to make it happen," Jason countered firmly. He then switched tones. "Look, I'm going to need a strong second I can rely on, if you want me to lead this team of yours. And there's no one else I trust more than Robyn."
Barbousse sighed, looking at Jason squarely before asking, "Do I have your word that you'll join if we make the effort to free her?"
"Provided you keep that other 'promise' you hinted about, yes," Jason replied.
"Even if she does not offer to join the team?" the short man countered.
Jason nodded firmly. "I know my sister, Mr. Barbousse. If you can get her out, we're in." Besides, he thought privately, if things don't look good from the start on this, together Robyn and I stand a better chance of getting out than just one of us alone.
Barbousse paused for a moment, then nodded. "Very well. It will be arranged. Her profile makes her a top candidate."
Blinking as that statement sunk home, Jason snapped in a slightly vexed tone, "You set me up, didn't you? You knew I'd ask for her all along!"
Barbousse smiled amiably enough. "Very perceptive, Mr. Canmore. The truth is, we knew that with the both of you, the team will have a strong foundation to build from. The key was to make sure we would have the one before acquiring the services of the other."
Jason snorted, admiting to himself that Barbousse had the right of it. "Rather cocky of you, wasn't it?"
Barbousse tugged open his satchel, pulling out some documents before replying, "All's fair in love and war... and that includes preventing wars."
Images of Bad Guys used from the following pages:
Avalon Archives (http://avalon.gargoyles-fans.org)