An old friend of mine asked me recently, “So, whatcha been doing?” I answered with a smile and a quick “Just keepin’ alive.”
Yep, that about sums it up. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I left the old group to come work for the boss. Can’t rightly say she bewitched me, but she did make a hell of a good offer. With the training and equipment she could provide, it was like living a dream. I was so busy it was almost maddening at times, but it was worth it all.
But I missed the old days, too. Sure, now I was offered all sorts of chances to set up surveillances in the most secret of places, I was learning how to become practically invisible, and I was learning so much more about how to take advantage of the “legion” in me.
But still, there’s nothing quite like kickn’ butt with the Hooligan. Well, and getting your butt kicked back.
It started with the morning news. Hot on the wire was a story about my old buddies, working under a new team name with some other guys I never saw before. Freedom Force, they called themselves. I sat back and reminisced a bit, then the boss called me in to let me know that my old buds were in trouble. Wow, talk about timing, huh?
She said that VIPER was sending a hit squad out on them. One of the big bad teams, maybe Snake Pit, maybe someone else. All I could really get was that it could be 6 or 8 baddies. Really bad baddies. She gave me some time off to do what I wanted, which of course was to go see the old guys and warn them. Maybe even offer to help.
I went to the Tower, found it easy to get in. Met one of the new guys, Mason somebody, and started up the elevator. Lo and behold, who should arrive right then but Foxbat. I almost split a side, he was disguised as some superhero wanting to join the team! He looked goofier than a size 10 Sallie in a size 4 baby doll shirt. But they humored him, and sent him into the training room with Hooligan to get his butt kicked.
But then it REALLY got funny! Old Hooly got his own butt kicked! He’ll never live this down, not if I got anything to do with it. But then Vanguard sent Foxy packing with an essay assignment. It was 10 pages, so we probably won’t be seeing him for a few days.
Well, I warned the guys about VIPER. They didn’t seem too worried about it, but I don’t know if they really understood what I was trying to get across. They hit the big time now, and whatever they’ve been playing up until now was chicken feed.
Then two froofy religious guys showed up, the place sure was hoppin’! Jeremiah Gabriel and Brother O’Brien, that’s who they were. This Gabriel guy said his team has been killed off, and something about how every member of the Inner circle of DEMON has moved here to LA. He wanted to give back the item that Durante gave them, just calls it “the thing”. Doesn’t want to keep the Holy Father in danger to keep the item safe, DEMON has attacked the Vatican even.
Well, I didn’t know what the hell they were all talking about, but I figured if I kept my mouth shut I’d find out. It was something they found in Antarctica, a holy relic of some sort. And now they had brought it here to turn over. What had these guys gotten themselves into?
Just then this guy Nicadamus called up, said “they’re coming for you!” Sure as shit, right then a portal opened in the wall, big and red as a beaten hiney, and a bunch of zombies came rushing in. With them came a couple of dead looking guys and some things they call “demon warriors”. Hell yeah, we fought! I took out a zombie and a couple of the warriors. I thought I saw some wand get passed from Gabriel to Vanguard, and then he gave it one of the bad guys! I hope he meant to do that, or he figured out that he shouldn’t and got it back! I could stick around to find out, Mason call over the intercom that he was up shit creek and needed help in the control room. I took off with Gabriel to see what was going on.
We left the combat at hand and ran down the hallway. We met with a weird zombie voodoo lady, and a couple of her cronies. I went to take on the zombie lady and knocked her down, but she was able to shoot a blowgun at me that entangled me with something. Before I could break free, one of the cronies stabbed me and I went out.
I was mad at myself when that entangle hit me. I haven't been in a real combat situation for a long time, and the sight of that dead-looking voodoo lady freaked me into doing something stupid. My style is firstly one of stealth, and of scattering the enemy's defense before engaging directly. Instead of using my tools of blinding and concealment, I rushed her head-on. I am grateful that I lived through this, to learn, but I fear the consequences will remain with me for some time.
All that time I was out, I was having one hell of a bad dream. I was back home, down in the backwoods near Leeville. I thought for a minute that Tommy Thibodaux was with me, like that night we snuck into picture show and dumped a bucket of toads we collected around Cocodrie. I remember looking down into that bucket in this dream, but there weren’t no toads. It was that strange lady’s face looking up at me, and then all I remember is her chasing me in the woods.
When I woke up, the guys told me that they took her down, but she did something to me to tie our lives together. She cast a spell, dammit! I can feel the taint of the voodoo on me as I write this, and I know I have to do something. I plan on heading down to the sticks, see if I can find myself a transplanted hoodoo and see if there’s a name for this spell, and maybe a way to break it.
But for now I need to go get debriefed. There's a lot of questions to ask, and some explaining to get from the guys. I can't rest until this spell is off of me, and the guys won't be resting either. That team that came in was not from VIPER, which means now they got two major bad-guy groups after them.
Yeah, sometimes it's all you can do to just be keepin' alive.