003: Part 18

by CM Towns

   Ash did not like this. His grand scheme was simple enough. Hell, it was still going on. Fires through out Kirby City and the surrounding areas. Millers Point and the Fox Hills were going to be even more ugly when it was all through. He caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage and yet here Ash was staring down the teenager who had driven him to act like a fool. He should have shot Kid Victory. That should have been the goal. Instead Mr. Ash wanted Kid Victory face to face so he could talk down to the boy, explain how the city would be made an example, and how he was going to take pleasure in the grim futures of his friends.
   “C’mon Ash. Let’s do this,” Kid Victory said in a fighting stance.

   Ash took off his suit jacket, tossed it on the ground and with a quick snap came in with jabs that were blocked. Kid Victory tried elbows but Ash stopped them easily with palm blocks. They circled, Ash used a simple low kick and Kid Victory raised his shin to take the strike knowing, it would be better than having the thigh be struck which could knot up the muscles and make it harder to move. Kid Victory threw a fist that Ash blocked with his right forearm and countered with a left jab.
   “I don’t think we ever had a real fight,” Victory plainly stated.
   “No we haven’t,” Ash replied. Mr. Ash switched his stance to the left side front. Victory took a step back before throwing a kick, Ash grabbed the leg and took him down. When he moved in to follow through Victory utilized his legs and hands to try and go into an armbar from a grounded position. Ash struggled from the standing position to assure the hold would not be cinched in by locking his fingers. A few stomps to the shoulder and head forced Kid Victory to release. Victory rolled backward into a squatting defensive position.
   “Screw this,” Ash said as he looked to the ground and went for a gun. Kid Victory tackled him down, forcing the gun out of his hand. Ash connected with a headbutt and kicked him off. Ash nipped up, caught an incoming Kid Victory with a throw. Victory rolled with it and got into aother defense position as Ash pulled a knife off the ground. The two circled one another. The debris, few unconscious henchman, on the ground at their feet.
   “You’re ambidextrous,” Kid Victory said.
   “I am.”
   “Also an excellent shot and I imagine good with a blade.”
   “Yes sir, you are right,” Mr. Ash nodded.
   “Thinking about it. I probably can’t win this match even if it was a fair fight. You’ve been trained, maybe not as well as me but you’re faster than one would expect, possibly stronger, and have less wear on your body going into this fight. However the battle is done. My team will defeat yours,” Kid Victory said.
   “With the Mighty Majesty loose? I don’t doubt it,” he said before tossing the knife. “Killing you would be sweet. In fact I still plan too. Except next time I’m just going to shoot you with a sniper rifle.”
   “So you give up?”
   “Why not? You put me away, I get out. I find another job. Better than your situation. Thinking you are making a difference,” he said.
   “I am making a difference.”
   Mr. Ash laughed. It was humorous to him and everyone who really knew the truth about how the world worked.
   Ash pointed, shook his head and said, “You are allowed to do what you do. You are allowed to think that your Guard are protecting the world from evil but in the end, evil has already won. A long while ago.”
   “You got a conspiracy theory for me Johnny?”
   “Mr. Ash has been in the game longer than you pup so listen and take heed. I’ve run guns for more then a decade. I know the players and I know the people who work for the players and at the top there is King,” he said with his hand raised above his head.
   “You mean a king.”
   “No, young, black and reckless-King. The man who rules the world,” Ash corrected.
   “That’s right. A lot of rogues and so-called criminal masterminds may not have heard but I’ve dealt directly. I know dangerous men and women who shiver at the thought, happy to carve just a piece of an empire.
   “You knocked me down a peg or two and than dropped me far. I’m not even in the court anymore. I’m outside asking for an audience. I thought if I razed the town and made your group look like sniveling brats I could get back in the mix. A satisfying conclusion to the troubles you and Kid Marvel gave me,” he detailed.
   Kid Victory watched him shake his head as he rubbed the scarred part of his face. Kid Victory was chewing over his words. He heard the name before, thought of it as an alias but knew little other than whispers and shady dealings.
   Ash started again. “Now I’m just a cartoon baddie who doesn’t get the job done.”
   “This King is an old ruler? When exactly did we start living in a shadowy monarchy?” asked Kid Victory scoffing at the idea.
   “Like any monarchy-the first born takes the reigns. Whispers go that it first started when the US was in the Great Depression. Influence spread quick. Senators, councilmen, cabinet members, important dignitaries around the world-men in power bow to him. Oh-a few nations may not have anyone who are in the Kings pocket but that matters not. The King controls the important resources,” he answered.
   “Fascinating fable.”
   “More than you think. Economic issues, social justice and lack thereof-all the problems he can influence. He is the reason, he is the cause. Fueling animosity between nations is easy. Not every Middle Eastern country they claim has WMD’s has any cause to do us harm but a little twisting of the facts-we got drones in action. Then there is the hierarchy-some as better than others. Where you would get tried as an adult with years caught with a nice ounce of weed, a white kid from a good home gets time served with probation. Yeah, marriage equality won’t change the hate and fear and abuse.
   “Of course there is money. The rich get richer, so on and so forth. Executives give themselves raises and they afford it by downsizing staff, moving jobs, taking away benefits and they walk away as Job Creators while the poor are lazy. Oh-war on women too, right? The King could fix all this. But whats the fun in that?” finished Mr. Ash.
   “Why tell me this?”
   “Because,” Ash said pointed his finger at Kid Victory before adding, “I don’t know. I know why I came here. I know why I did what I did. I had a point and then it all became pointless. When I got into my work-I was unaware that there was crime on a larger scale than mine-then I tried to impress and get in good. Things worked but just like that-” he snapped, “I’m out. Casted out. I like what I do, I don’t like you, but maybe-just maybe-it dawns on me now-you can do something about it. Or your friends-and I ain’t talking the G-Unit. I’m talking your backers.”
   “Backers?” questioned Kid Victory.
   “Please, everyone knows you guys have got some serious shadow muscle pulling strings.”
   “You flood my city with weapons. You break dozens of criminals out of jail. You raise havoc in my home that have cost lives. Now suddenly you have an epiphany that it wasn’t worth it and you want me to beat the crap outta some the so-called ruler of the world?” questioned a rather annoyed Kid Victory.
   Ash thought it over, nodded, smiled and said, “Pretty much.”
   Kid Victory with a haymaker knocked Ash flat on his behind.
   Mr. Ash smiled from the ground before presenting his wrists to be cuffed and saying, “You take me in. Save the day. Then go with your Guard and have a long think tank session.”
   Kid Victory was met by Araminta on his way accompanying Mr. Ash out the bunker. She took them from the tunnels into the street and provided Victory with an emergency domino mask. Once Mr. Ash was turned over, the Guard exited back to the Intelligence Hub. Kid Victory kept the story to himself for the time being, wanting the team to rest up and not worry about shadow conspiracies. The group stayed at the hub while Victory made his way home. He greeted his dad in the living room, than crashed out for a few hours. It had been a long Saturday and a terrible early Sunday morning. The dreams that chased Antoine Jackson while he was asleep in those few hours were dire ones. Still he woke up in the middle of the afternoon, geared up and made an appointment at the jail.
   “You did good work,” Jason said in the empty prison laundry room.
   “Did I now? I figured you would be disappointed I survived.”
   “Please. If anyone is gonna take you out is going to be me. That’s my goal after all. Rob a few banks and retire on a beach somewhere. All after breaking every bone in your body and leaving you a shell of the man you use to be. Sweet dreams are made of these,” Jason said.
   “King. The guy that Mr. Ash was dealing with when we first tangled with him,” Kid Victory said.
   “I remember the name. Figured it was some mob boss.”
   “Mr. Ash claims he rules the world,” Kid Victory said.
   “That is a helluva gig,” Jason said as he thought it over, working through past cases or mentions of the name. He continued, “The name has come up a few times in certain CIA files we scanned though on other cases. Nothing specific. Name hasn’t been mentioned behind these bars.”
   “I forgot all about that name until Ash said it. You think he’s telling the truth?” asked Kid Victory.
   “That’s a tough one. King, whether he rules the world or not, is clearly a bad guy. You got contacts, time to call in the SecDef and see what he has to say,” Jason warned.
   “I know Reina and Sprite trust him but-”
   “You don’t. But if this guy is really a serious threat Blackwell will give you something.” Jason looked around and sighed. “Listen good, if this guy really rules the world he has your team at several disadvantages. The biggest being that once he snaps his fingers you guys go from outlaws that are tolerated to the Worlds Most Wanted.”
   Kid Victory nodded. He knew at the moment most federal agencies and police forces looked the other way with certain superheroes simply because of the trouble dealing with them and their ineffectiveness against super-powered up criminals.
   “There are two advantages you do have. The first is the rise of superhumans. You already have a team. Three of the most powerful beings on Earth are on your side. The second is technology. The playing field is almost even and will be as long as you find a way to protect Tesla from his identity being revealed. He needs to cut back on visiting hours or find better cover stories because his company will blow up even bigger than it is now. A lot of attention on Tesla can trace back to you.
   “You need to build your team up. Huntsman has incredible power but he’s a lousy shot. I doubt your three newbies would be able to really do much solo. They need to be a tighter unit because that’s the central circle. That’s the starting line up. But of course you need more people on the team. People who can take to the air, to the ground, stand up and fight,” Jason finished.
   “I’m already on team building,” Kid Victory said before turning and walking away.
   “Good luck KV,” Jason said watching him go.