You’re On The Front Lines Now

You’re On The Front Lines Now

February 6th, 2024 – Tuesday: 8:54 AM

Brandon Mallic gets a phone call at his desk. His assistant, Novia Nadez, isn’t scheduled to be on the clock for another six minutes and she poked her head in to say she was getting coffee first. “Hello, yes Sam he just landed with the Arabic lady in his arms? [PAUSE] No, I will check on them. What? [PAUSE] He’s limping you say. [PAUSE] His left hand is bleeding? Ok, noted. Well it appears he was successful in saving his friend from the kidnappers. [PAUSE] Yes Sam, feel free to codename him Veritas. [PAUSE] No, we didn’t base the character off of his alter ego. We had nothing to do with the script, okay Sam thanks for coming back with us from Mission City. I’m sure our Veritas would be thrilled to know you have his back. [PAUSE] But do me a personal favor, yeah keep calling him Gary, we need to keep him humble.”

Brandon laughed as he hung up the phone and Novia stuck her head back in, “Coffee bossman?” Brandon nodded, “Thank you, Novia, and leave my schedule as is. I just got word the urgent situation has been handle by other parties.” Using his cybernetic foot he shoves a small black bag further under his desk. He sends an internal email to Sam: ‘When Veritas goes into his office reply to this message and then send the camera pointing at his door into maintenance mode until I ask you to change it back.’ He sips his coffee knowing his day just went from bad to better. Smirking about the realization Gary’s email wasn’t a cry for help, but a ‘I might be late for work’ notification.

9:34 AM

‘Maintenance Mode active’ was all the reply said. “Novia, be a dear and cut me the next hour from 10 to 11 to have a meeting with Gary about a project. Constance should be busy, I didn’t notice but is she dressed ‘nice’ or ‘New Gary Nice’ today?”

Giggling, “Both of us are dressed ‘New Gary Nice’ today boss, I can take your sister out of this race. I’ve quite the arsenal for handling ‘geek chic’ in regards to our target.”

“Good, but just understand I have nothing against Gary, I love our head nerd to bits. Novia, just be careful, Gary has some new hobbies that make dating him as dangerous as dating an undercover vice cop or a front line soldier.”

“If you haven’t fired him, then you believe what he is doing is right?”

“Yes I do, but I won’t comment further on it.”

“So you’re trying to protect your sister?”

“Yes.”

“Noted, we’ll talk after work but I can step my game up.”

“Just know men of power tend to have danger follow them.”

“Got it let me think about it, and I’ll let you know in a few days.”

10:04 AM

Brandon opened the door to Gary’s office and quickly shut it behind him locking it. Garrick had dropped what he was holding and pulling his Under Armor compression shirt down over his torso. The shocked look on his face at Brandon’s ‘been there done this’ glare was priceless. When Brandon gestured for him to raise his shirt Garrick complied. Just below his pectoral muscles and shoulder blades his whole mid section was a varying shade of yellow, green, purple, and black! Over 20 scabs about the size of bullet holes were dotting the landscape of his skin as well. Brandon picked up the adhesive lidocaine patches and went about applying them quickly and a bit rough. After going through the box he said, “Did you win?”

Feeling the abundance of medication Garrick nodded in the affirmative. As Brandon had been applying the patches he noticed and unnatural rate of bruise coloration changed as though Gary’s healing was on overdrive. By tomorrow he suspected there would be no sign of any injury. “I am free till 11 AM, did you want to talk about it?” He watched as Gary went to sit in his chair on one side of his tablet table, wincing slightly as he left hand began to pulse glancing off the table. Brandon shook his head, “What the hell,” Brandon yanked his arm and ripped off the wrappings to redo them, “do you even know first aid? You’re dating two girls both of whom are upstairs. Couldn’t one of them done a better job than you at this?”

“I’m not dating anyone.”

“Are you sleeping with them aka: ‘friends with benefits’?”

“Not both but yes a few times.”

“Women feel things more often than they say them. I’d keep it in your pants until you iron out any style of relationship. Monogamous, Open, friends with benefits, or something else because there are so many styles now I stopped trying to keep up. Everyone has to be on the same page or jealousy and hurt feelings will rip it apart. With each of you expecting something different. I lost two wives to learn this, Gary. Talk to them both and be brutally honest.”

Garrick nods, “Thank you, after the Giving Tree tonight, I want to but frankly I want to just sleep more. Once they are both awake and I have slept, then we all need to talk about a conversation they had before I go forward with any of them.”

“I will ask you not to make a move on Constance unless you want to give up being an active hero. I can’t loose her man, and your email today reminds me of my father on a video call with my mom when he got a radio call some of the ‘hostiles’ had surround my uncle’s unit and they had to go try and rescue them. They all died two days later in an airstrike on foreign soil. I saw what it did to my mother and I want to spare her that if I can.”

“I can promise I will not make the first move with anyone until I get my stuff in order. I may not be as broken as I thought but I think the few times I have had sex, while amazing, were pity being taken on a prison, sodomized, virgin. I don’t think anyone wants to touch a person that fucked up.”

“Well, that answers a few questions between Novia and I. She thought they cut your junk off in the slammer.”

“I almost did once I was in a dark place man.”

“Okay, we’ve all been there, each is unique to the person. Now stow that shit and tell me what I am dealing with now. All this from your adventure this morning?”

“Nope, just the left hand really. All of this,” gestures to the rest of himself, “came from Miss Amazing – the blond lady – and I going into Waingroh and saved 5 families from being murdered so a street gang could claim color punk status. I fought off the gang members by myself while Miss Amazing ferried everyone else to the Giving Tree.” Brandon was done with his hand when Garrick had an ah ha moment, “I don’t have time to design a leg for one of the survivors. I tossed a lot of gang bangers around and some fell off the roof. One landed on a young woman (air quotes) “of the night” and mangled her leg. So I was wondering if you might be able to ask her to help because I spoke of a friend that could do it for free. Now don’t freak just take it out of my pay because it was ultimately my actions that caused it. I am just worried if I show up to do the work then someone might put it together.”

“Well, I’ll talk with Constance about a charity limb and go over what we can write off. Don’t make this a habit and I am still not promising it’ll happen. I will go to the Giving Tree tonight so with both of us at near identical heights might throw everyone off your scent. Constance might come along, I’m not sure yet.”

“Thank you so much for even this,” Garrick shook his arm in a warrior’s grip. Brandon appreciated the new strength in his, well, friend. Garrick continued, “I just have to talk with one of the nurses there named, Ramona. She invited me to dinner and perhaps a movie.”

“By the maker, you’re dumb! Did you listen to NOTHING I SAID! Garrick’s head cocked to one side and he raised an eyebrow. Brandon blinked, “Good god man I like you and would even call you a brother, but with personal relationships you must be the biggest idiot I know! So on the movie did you even know how many people tried to get with you over the three films?” Garrick shook his head, holding one and then two more fingers. Laughing Brandon went on, “14 women and 5 men! All the men came from some of the women thinking you were gay! Oh and dipshit, news flash!” he tapped Garrick right in between the eyes, “This was before you found the magic sword! They like you for you! Yeah let that sink in about the havoc you’ll wreck looking like you do now!”

“Bullshit! You’re fucking with me.”

“I don’t have the time to actually put effort into fucking with you, frankly. I cleared my schedule for an hour just to check up on my friend. Not yank your chain. You’re a natural charmer, Gary. I have studied it on my own and if I didn’t trust you I would be at every meeting with Constance.”

Garrick was left bewildered by this exchange. Constance liked him? Katherine definitely did and maybe sex wasn’t to pity the former virgin? Did Patsy like him, and would she still when she found out how he knew where to look for her? Did Ramona actually like him? Brandon could see the wheels turning in his head as he admired his finished dressing on Gary’s left hand.

“Earth to Gary, think about boobs and hoo-haa’s later. I need you focused on the now. So, who captured your friend then?”

“Would you believe two boxes fell off that truck and there was an evil magic sword out there that she found and it possessed her!”

Garrick shows him the picture he took from Patsy’s journal. He had taken it for future reference in case someone found where the Wayfarer had hid it. Brandon smiled with that ‘good grief, only you’ look on his face. Garrick continued, “A dimension traveling wizard whom uses a polearm, called the ‘Wayfarer’ alerted me to her danger after she had been transformed into a vision of a fallen angel and attacked him long enough to get away.”

Brandon just blinked at the real opening of the story regarding the left hand. Garrick had a shrugged look as if to say ‘it gets weirder’ and continued, “I took off like a bat out of hell and my teammates called me on our com units for a location and if everyone followed me to Zericho to the intersection of Mercy Row Boulevard and 5th Street. Almost all of us arrived at nearly the same time. While waiting for them my sword informed me about this new sword was likely the angel he had been sent to return to the realm of the celestials. They were friends and now are bound to their respective swords only able to empower their wielders.”

“Stop, your sword has a spirit bound to it. Not just any random spirit, but an angel? An angel of god?”

“As far as I can tell based on our world’s understanding of angels, yes.”

“Please, I would be very careful of whom you share that with. I’ve been all over this world and faith is still something people will kill over to prove their belief was not in vain. Even gatherings that are non-denominational but very spiritual. If these groups ever thought ‘The Gryphon’ was a warrior of God the Almighty I would not want to be you. The standards they would hold you to and yet never speak aloud. Expecting you to be omniscient. They won’t care that powers even have limitations. They will think somehow you shunned them or they were unworthy. When that pain hits the anger stage they will question you. They will feel you fell from grace if you ever fail with proof of less than 100% performance. I apologize for that, please go on.”

His words were not lost on Gary, whom nodded slowly and continued, “So, I was hovering some 60 feet above the intersection screaming the other sword’s name – Aaziakel! Over and over, after everyone else showed up they convinced me to land. Gryphon RageI was so mad I was shaking with rage that I had failed to protect someone I saved before. Miss Amazing, my patrol partner, appeared to be genuinely concerned for me. Black Phantom got me to talk about how my Arabic roommate…”

“…Sorry, just trying to keep some important details straight for you even though you don’t want to hear them. So Miss Amazing is the one you slept with because you don’t call that someone a ‘roommate’ and I imagine you now use Amazing to describe things that make you happy. Now the Arabic roommate represents forbidden fruit and your not that damn special, everyone at some point wants what they can’t or shouldn’t have. So this girl touched the evil sword and you think it whispered sweet nothings so when she again was depressed and felt she had no other choice she accepted a bonding of some kind.”

“How? I…”

“Please, during our first chat you mentioned about her falling off a roof and NO ONE does that on accident. She even admitted it to you based on what you told me. Next this sounds like a fantastic plot for a movie we can tweak with a futuristic angle. Throw in some quasi cross dimensional physics mumbo jumbo and BLAMO! The next three films for Robot Swords or a brand new franchise! A few focus groups can help us decide which way to go there. Lastly, if you sat in enough promotional / script adaptation meetings as I have now. You could figure out where this was going.
Girl finds powered sword that talks, check.
Girl is depressed and few options, check.
Sword promises enhancement upgrades allowing her to reach her dreams, check.
She finally agrees and sword lies infecting her with a nanotech virus, check.
Now sword has a host body and can even infect more people! Army check!
Lost boyfriend comes to save her with his own AI powered sword, double check!
Okay tell me how the story wraps up, or any other important details.”

Jake's Mustachio“Well, I have a scientist teammate named, umm, he hates superhero names and disguises.”

“To be fair so do I. Codenames I get like pilot call signs but everyone knows their real name. It speaks to accountability in my opinion. Now, morally, I still totally support what your doing. I hope one day your group will become part of the Centurions or an annex of them. Apologies buddy, keep going.”

“However, he put one on that day for a short time to order Starbucks from the corner shop. Let’s skip the dull part where we got info that led us to the old Wax Museum. When we got close I found out I can see mystically invisible things! There were warding symbols on the doors and windows. Then, Dr. Fake, err… I mean Flake Johnson, because I don’t want to use his real name is a scientist that knows real cross dimensional physics and used a device he built to open a portal inside bypassing the mystical alarm wards. Now I am no wizard and without the Wayfarer to share that knowledge none of us would’ve known.”

“Good God! You suck at lying, and you’re not naming any of the characters in the movie, yeesh! Flake Johnson? Really!”

“Thanks, I blame the lack of sleep and injuries. Anyway, we found out the Wax Museum was haunted by spirits that could possess the wax figures like old stories about Frankenstein’s animation! Before we could get bogged down by those assailants the Wayfarer saved us all by banishing the haunting spirits to oblivion granting us safe travels to my possessed friend. They were just gone according to our two psychic teammates. We headed downstairs and found her. She was sitting in a circle of enchanted glyphs or wards. Her hair was a radiant yellow, glowing almost, her skin golden. Wings not unlike an eagle‚Äôs spread from her back. Sparse armor covered her body strategically. Not what would be described by comic fans as bikini armor, but just enough to cover a few vital areas without restricting movement at all.”

Brandon is furiously using a stylus to jot down notes on his phone. “You may suck at names but this plot is gold and fresh! Please don’t stop you are actually making this hour worth ‘our’ time! I have to call my friends in Mission City when this is done. Please, continue!”

“The voice did not belong to my friend and it only called me by my sword’s name, Ashmadiel. Our physically oldest member is also likely our most powerful. Granny2Good and its actually a number “2”between the names because she’s a ‘hip cat’ to the times.”

Brandon pauses at this, “Now you’re just fucking trolling me! An elderly super hero called Granny 2 Good? BAHAHAHAHA! Good one!” Garrick just glares at him with the ‘I’m not lying face’ and waits, “Oh my, you’re serious. Hmm, oh this will be great for acknowledging women can be just as dangerous as old and grizzled veterans as men! I can work with this! Go on!”

“Well, she has super speed and I think supernatural levels of strength. So she pulls out a flat-black, maybe carbon fiber cane with a faceted knob and a shiny purple piece of pipe and BULLET TRAINS toward the possessing angel and its magic circle. Dr. Flake tapped me on the shoulder and just said be ready. Black Phantom’s group training was starting to pay off as we looked coordinated! Granny2Good hits a transparent bubble which ripples with visible magic energy before it shatters under her strength delivered at such speed!

Dr. Flake fires his portal making device causing a green, glowing hole to appear below the possessing Angel and another appeared overhead of me. It’s clear that the Angel did not expect this as it fell through the hole and out overhead of me! I knew I needed to remove the sword from their grasp. I reachedout to grab the sword and was forced to grab the blade! This transformation was physically stronger than I was, but the shock of the attack style allowed me wrestle it from the Angel’s grip. Not without cutting my hand along the blade. It damn near took my hand off! The Wayfarer and the mysterious Covenant said they saw our Angels manifest over each of us when I grabbed the sword!

Black Phantom and Miss Amazing tackled the possessing Angel to the ground, but Miss Amazing got swallowed up halfway by the ground rising up to try and eat her alive! The Mysterious Covenant shot a lightning bolt from his archaic, pistol at the Angel and I had to just had to stay back and watch keeping the sword away. Granny2Good helped get Miss Amazing out of the magical, earth based attack. The Wayfarer started working some magic to break the link, and on his third try was successful in wrenching the fragment of the Angel’s soul out of the victim and back into the sword. Causing it to go dormant with no more angry whispers about our demise.”

Brandon asked, “What happened to the sword?”

“I gave it to the Wayfarer to hide, somewhere.”

“Brilliant, we’ve the opening for more stories with an ending like that!”

Garrick realized that it was possible to see Aaziakel again if it couldn’t be destroyed. It was now 10:52 AM and Brandon warned him in the office people are not stupid and they know something more than the gym is up with Gary. Garrick nods but wasn’t quite prepared for how different the reactions could be.

 


Art by: AZ_Artisan

 

5 Replies to “You’re On The Front Lines Now”

  1. with personal relationships you must be the biggest idiot I know
    Finally, someone said it….
    Loving the character growth

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