Pulp hated being led along. A fact that would surprise exactly no one that knew her for long or knew of her as a teen.
At first, a few days before the bank incident even, it could have been mistaken for human error. A few of the couriers she’d been tracking dropping things by accident when she tailed them from afar. Nothing critical, and thus weren’t noticed by the couriers, but made following their trails easier. Then the scenes she investigated wouldn’t be as thoroughly cleaned as usual; bodies, shreds of clothing, and weapons became easier to find, raising her suspicions greatly and eventually causing her to call in some outside help.
The White Boars had tipped their hands, well, at least their leaders had anyways.
Ever since Todd, their tech Super, had been breached they’d gotten their shit together so uniformly that it all but confirmed a larger and more competent force was pulling the strings in the background.
Instead of uproarious, young members bragging in the street; proxies discreetly traveled to remote locations and sent messages either via text or powers, the latter being far harder to intercept, if at all. The strikes they made against other gangs were no longer directed by half-cocked “lieutenants” either; they were quick and brutal as they assaulted the local gangs, focusing heavily on the Greens’ drug caches.
The members themselves were still the same dumb as shit racists, most with previous records, who largely had no idea who was supplying their new found “brotherhood” with so much luxury and power. They were merely directed with vastly more competently; and everything she could find pointed to the fact that the boss of the entire thing was a man named “Immadesco”.
Though it was nice to see that they were visibly less boisterous in leu of the increase in their work load and punishments for disobedience.
Silly name aside, Pulp could not doubt that whoever did this was incredibly methodical in what he did and wouldn’t employ the services of incompetents. So, either Immadesco wasn’t as smart as she anticipated, he was purposefully leaving hints behind, or someone else was the source of her string of lucky breaks in tracking down the gang’s leaders.
Sure, inexplicable human error and incompetence was always a possibility, but not something she would ever default to. Underestimating an opponent was a sure way to a quick grave in her line of work.
And now the evidence before Pulp and Intuition almost certainly proved at least one of her suspicions.
“You know, at first, I halfway thought you were fucking with me.” Intuition said as he stood guard over the alleyway entrance, “But this is fishy as all fuck. …So, are you gonna trace it and see where it takes you?”
Pulp sighed as she kept examining the piece of paper that had a phone, serial, model, and manufacturing number scrawled onto it. All of the previous temporarily hired couriers and grunts had used burner phones; which made tracking difficult via mundane means. This, however, was obviously the identifying numbers of someone’s personal device.
She was tempted to snap at Intuition, out of nerves if nothing else, before stopping herself and considering what he’d actually said. It was easy to simply look at how Intuition acted on the surface and wonder who he’d survived in the Hero world with such a cavalier attitude, but that was just a disarming mask he often wore, she’d found that his actions were always deliberate. Even if he was annoying about it. And now that she thought about it, his suggestion did make sense; there wasn’t much else to do except send her team the standard, regular update of her location and relay how far along the investigation was before moving forward.
So, Pulp did just that. “Okay, but you’re coming with me. I’m of the very strong opinion that Heroes that make suggestions should be present just incase things go tits-up.” She said before putting a hand to her right ear, signaling that she was now talking to the only constant in the Hero world. “Dispatch, send the usual report to Spectrum and the others. Also, I’d like you to track these numbers for me.” After rattling them off and getting the usual, quick confirmation she thought on the current string of events.
Whoever was doing this was probably a Super; leaving zero traces while moving around and tracking targets without being seen spoke to that plainly. So, either this was Immadesco, or some other member, laying out a stupidly long winded and elaborate trap or it was a third party. And judging by how eagerly they “helped”, this potential third party most likely had little knowledge of the resources of Heroes had at their disposal.
The defenses and precautions the White Boars had employed made things time consuming and tedious, but far from insurmountable for Heroes like her and Intuition. And it wouldn’t even slow down the DVA if they decided to through their weight at such an, ultimately, minor gang.
No, one way or another, the White Boars would have been broken. And judging by the way the gang had quickly shifted to gathering resources, clearing territory, and looking for more and more Supers and Powereds that are willing to join; Immadesco knew that too and was gearing up to try something that he thought would stop it.
And Pulp would be a fool to assume it would involve anything but a horrendous amount of violence.
* * *
The grey van parked on the side of a mostly deserted street was paid very little mind, thanks to how the interior was subtly armored and the windows tinted just enough to obscure the faces of its occupants in the gloom of night.
A large, burly man in a ski mask was the sole occupant of the back compartment, while a wiry woman wearing a plastic mask kept a close eye on the vehicles’ driver. Todd endeavored not to squirm under that gaze as he sifted through over a years’ worth of stolen coroners’ reports relating to the deaths of variant humans and taking note of the names of their families; he also strove to not flinch from, or think too hard on lest the shaking started again, the severe burns that flared up along his arms and back. A while ago he might have questioned why he was being told to do what was essentially grunt work, but now he just focused on not raising his boss’s ire. The increased padding around the front of the interior of the van did very little to dissuade his nigh-constant discomfort as he worked diligently.
The padding and armor did ensure that neither Todd or the woman beside him heard the whistling sound until it was too late and a figure in a blue and black suit slammed into the front of the armored car from above, severely jostling and throwing the both of them around.
There wasn’t even a chance to react before the Hero smashed a fist through the windshield, slamming it directly into the face of his passenger, and summarily knocking out his only way of being teleported away from here. The hired muscle in the back of the van, who hadn’t bothered to do more than collect money upfront before accepting this job, reacted finally and charged out of the back of the van and circled around to engage the Hero while Todd dove out of his side. Although he couldn’t see it, Todd heard the mercenary make it no more than two steps before yelling in pain and falling face first onto the ground.
The pair of white boots and expanding pool of blood near the mercenary’ prone form made Todd’s already increased heartrate skip a beat as he scrabbled to his feet and started running. Shit. Not only was there more than one Hero, he’d attracted the ruthless variety as well?
As soon as he heard footsteps approaching from behind, Todd gave up on getting across the street and pulled out a small blaster from under his coat. The thing may have been smaller than ones he made for the other members, but it was vastly more efficient and accurate due to the time he’d been able to spend on it.
“St- Stay back!” He stuttered as he trained the weapon on the intimidating form of Pulp as she stood just outside the cone of radiance provided by the street lamp he stood under. She had her hands up, which was supremely at odds with the wide grin he could see from the bottom of her cowl, a recent addition to her suit. No doubt to show off her dark skin and antagonize his… compatriots.
The fact that he could no longer see the white boots of the other Hero did nothing to sooth his nerves either.
“It’s over, Todd.” Pulp said, her voice surprisingly soothing. The tone surprised Todd before the rest came and everything slammed into place. “You’re in a lot of trouble for arms dealing and abating a shit load of crimes. You are a high value asset and the DVA is going to want to keep you far away and in a secure facility to get as much information out of you as possible.” Her last line was heralded by her grin turning knowingly mirthful. “You’ll never see your little gang ever again.”
Todd’s body had locked up in emotion during her whole speech, his eyes practically glued to hers. After a few seconds, he took a shuddering breath before his resolve hardened and the first few tears made their glistening escape.
His severely burned, disfigured, and tear-streaked face, the only parts unmarred being his eyes and ears, made quite the contrast to the conviction with which he spoke while dropping his weapon.
“I surrender, please take me into custody.”