Paradox – Chapter 36

“Bring in the prisoners,” one of Herr Metall’s many sycophants shouted once Jury departed.

With a wave of his hand, the viewing monitor on the wall broke apart and reformed with the wall. It was a small display of his power, but none in the room doubted Herr Metall’s mastery of his element and his ability to inflict pain and suffering to any that opposed him.

Two large tanks walked in, one holding Hot Rod, the other leading Screaming Eagle into the center of the room under the bright lights. Althought both wrapped in chains, but they were not needed. Neither prisoner was suicidal enough to try to escape from the lord of the underworld.

“You failed,” Herr Metall said bluntly. “You were sent to retrieve Michael Larson but where is he? Where …”

“Sorry, Mister Metal,” Hot Rod said nervously, his body slightly blurred in the chains. “That science-geek Terrorvolt tried to grab the kid for himself.”

“Silence,” ordered Jury as she waved her hand. Hot Rod and Screaming Eagle screamed in pain as the mentalists activated every nociceptors around the brain, forcing both prisoners to their knees. “You will not use the enemy’s language to address our leader.”

“Of course, Herr Metall,” Screaming Eagle with every effort to move her beak.

“I’m sorry. Please…uh, Bitte?” muttered Hot Rod.

Herr Metall allowed the thought of satisfaction to reach Jury when she released her grip.

“Do not interrupt me again.” The words hung like a warning to everyone in the room as almost everyone took a step backwards deeper in the shadows. “You lost my equipment and you inconvenienced me with replacing my Untermenschen. You also allowed the traitor Terrorvolt to escape.” The room was silent for a few seconds. “You may speak.”

“That report is accurate,” Screaming Eagle said. “The boy, Michael, was far stronger than we anticipated and he had an ally help him escape. Terrorvolt’s betrayal only exacerbated the problem.”

“Yeah…what…what she said,” Hot Rod said stuttering. Screaming Eagle turned sharply at the speedster. If they were not chained, she would have ripped this idiot’s throat out.

“But we failed our primary mission and I am responsible.” Screaming Eagle knew she just doomed herself but she would not be remembered as a coward.

“You stupid bird, you just doomed yourself.” Hot Rod struggled against the chains for a few moments before the nearest guard grabbed him and forced him to be still.

“He is correct, Screaming Eagle. You were the team leader, the honor I bestowed upon you, and you should be punished.” Hot Rod looked over at the Screaming Eagle, disappointed her expression did not change to fear once Herr Metall condemned her. “But our progress in this war strengthens with each ally we secure in Washington. I am feeling generous today, but make no mistake, if you fail again, you will suffer a death worse than anything you witness today.”

“Thank you, Herr Metall,” Screaming Eagle said calmly as she bowed her head. “I will honor the faith you have placed in me and serve the cause until death.”

Hot Rod looked forward again, hiding his anger to the lack of punishment. If he was in charge, things would have been different. And he definitely owed Terrorvolt some pain. Hot Rod stopped daydreaming when he realized the room was silent and every eye he could actually see in the darkened areas of the room were looking at him.

“Thank you?” he said unsure what was going on.

“We will need loyal soldiers and leaders that know their place in our new Reich, but I cannot tolerate the incompetence and laziness that permeates our kind in this new generation. Your Enhanced gifts are possible from the work of my father and the sacrifices of my people, but now too many of you believe it should be wasted in petty theft or other Untermenschen activities that do not further the cause.”

Hot Rod barely listened to the words, focusing on Screaming Eagles sudden grin across her lips as she gazed at him. What the hell was she smiling at?

The speedster in the middle of the room did not get a chance at another thought. With a mental command, a simple thought from a metal elementalist, the chains around Hot Rod suddenly went taut, the links ripping through flesh and cracking bones, slicing him into several bloody pieces. The flamboyant speedster and lover of all things fast tried to shout but was permanently silenced when his head was severed from his shoulders and his windpipe was cut off from his lungs. The pulped body chunks fell sloppily over the floor with blood splattering and bathing the smiling Screaming Eagle and the expressionless tank guards. Hot Rod’s head bounced off the floor twice before rolling off to the side.

“Another thank you, Herr Metall,” Screaming Eagle said as the chains slipped off her body.

“That was not for your benefit, Fraulein, but you are welcome.” Screaming Eagle furrowed her face feathers. “I hope I made myself very clear, assassins.”

Part of the shadow escaped from the wall and moved into the light. As the shadow reformed into a black-cloaked figure, a white-cloaked man also emerged to stand on the other side of the suddenly confused Screaming Eagle.

“Cloak. Dagger. You failed to return my property before, but you will also meet the same fate as this imbecile if you do not fulfill our contract and your brothers will be powerless to protect you from my wrath. Nothing, even our understanding with our friends in Europe is more important than establishing a new Reich that will uplift the Enhanced to their rightful place above the homosapien vermin.”

“We will begin our search in this…Michigan, immediately, Herr Metall,” Cloak said. He focused his power on the thoughts he shared with Dagger.

“I’m sure someone still has an open contract on Orbital Strike,” Dagger added while spinning his blades.

“No, my contract supersedes all others and you will not bounty hunt until we our business is completed. And you would be too late. The target is travelling with an old friend. Maze will hide in plain sight of the JTF. You three will find the Junge and the Fraulein he cares so much about there.”

“Maze?” Screaming Eagle asked as her beak clicked nervously. “Do you wish him eliminated too?”

Herr Metall laughed, his bellowing voice shaking the very air in the room. “If it was that simple, I would have drown that rat myself a long ago for a multitude of crimes against me. Wouldn’t you agree, assassins? No.” Herr Metall paused. “Just find the boy.”

Dagger growled as he remembered his brief encounter with Maze, the fight was not even close. Maze knew every attack he would make and countered them perfectly. Dagger fled before the old hero could impale him.

Our mission has not changed, brother. Dagger nodded.

“As you wish, mein Herr,” Cloak replied. All three turned to the door. Screaming Eagle, still soaked in bloody, continued to smile.

“And Fraulein,” Herr Metall said unexpectedly. Screaming Eagle turned around. “When you see Terrorvolt again, kill him.”

“My pleasure.”