***ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT A HEROES FAN-FICTION. MORE OF A “WHAT IF?” TYPE OF SCENARIO THAT INCLUDES NICOLAS CAGE’S CHARACTER FROM NEXT. ALWAYS THOUGHT THE COMPANY’S AGENTS WOULD MAKE A GOOD SPIN-OFF STORY FROM THE DEFUNCT TV SERIES. JUST WONDERED HOW H.R.G [AKA NOAH BENNET OR”HORN RIMMED GLASSES”] AND CAGE’S PROTAGONIST FROM THE MINORITY REPORT PREQUEL COULD WORK TOGETHER AS AGENTS FOR PRIMATECH, THE SECRET ORGANIZATION MONITORING EVOLVED HUMANS.***
Two company agents stepped out of the car.
The tall, bespectacled blond-haired human counterpart wearing a black suit gave his pistol one last cursory check and holstered it back. Never too late to be cautious. He gave his partner a glance and nodded. The other man—the special—was as tall as he was but lankier, wearing a dark gray suit without any tie, acknowledged.
Showtime, the man with the glasses thought.
They stood in front of an old abandoned steel mill. The 9 PM moon gave it an otherworldly glow from behind, like an impenetrable fortress that housed assorted abominations lurking within, waiting.
But the man knew exactly what—or who: Dalton Crabbe. A psychopath with the unique ability of evading authorities seconds before they actually catch him. As if baiting them just enough to give them false confidence and then disappearing without a trace. On dead end alleyways, basements with limited exit spaces, and other places where escape is physically impossible.
Unless you’re a teleporter. An ability any thrill-killer would kill for.
He chuckled a bit at the absurdity of that mental note. He always wanted to be a teacher. High School literature, to be precise.
Primatech confirmed just over 2 days ago that the string of murdrers reported within the Detroit metropolitan area had been done by a special. Given the ciscumstances of the crime—single women cut across the neck while inside a locked residence with no signs of entering and exit—gave credence to a full-blown investigation that dedicated all the company’s resources to tracking down and apprehending whoever was responsible.
Linderman himself personally saw to it. The officious prick could have at least taken a look at his request for a vacation. He simply motioned dismissively and went on with the case. He had no choice. Maybe with Petrelli, Devaux or the others he had a fighting chance but Linderman? He’d have more chances of winning the lottery many times over compared to changing this guy’s mind.
Claire would be very disappointed. The little father-daughter trip they planned for the week would have to take a backseat. Again. In a way that distressed him more than the assignment and the dangers attached to it.
“As you may have been aware, Mr Benett, the string of murders point directly to one of our recently manifested subjects,” Linderman said in that thick English accent he came to be identified with.
“Are you absolutely certain it was Crabbe?” Benett said.
“Without a doubt. Field operatives shadowing his movements confirmed his presence on all these locations. Now it’s time to get him. And you are the most qualified. “
“And when you mean operatives, are any one of them a teleporter as well?” asked Benett.
“No,” replied Linderman. “Even better: A precognitive, and one of the more capable human agents of the Company.”
Linderman beamed. “Yes, Noah. I did not know you were acquaintances.”
“No,” Bennet said, “I’ve just seen him in several company events. Like team buildings and every other nonsense Human Resources commands us to attend. Jump hoops like well-behaved pets. But no, aside from his name and…reputation…that’s all I know.”
“Yes, and that’s about to change. Mark Johnson will be your partner in this assignment. With the Haitian abroad on that assignment in Central America, Johnson is our second best.” Linderman said.
“He’s not like most precogs out there isn’t he?” Bennet asked.
“Yes,” Linderman said, “he does function in a much more peculiar way than most precognitives we have had in the past. Whereas most these people simply go on a trance and draw random paintings on variable spans of time that can range from mere minutes to even years, he operates on a strictly four-minute window.”
“And on specific events or actions that exclusively affects him,” Bennet added.
“Correct, Noah. That is why he is a very valuable asset on dangerous missions since any possible course of action anyone does that will definitely affect him will surely be seen ahead. Again, this is unlike the others who simply wait for the visions to come to them. Johnson’s is limited to mere minutes, but more acute. Excellent defense mechanism. And you’ll need someone like that against this type of psychopath.”
‘I’d object to this, but I know it’s pointless.” Bennet said.
Linderman chuckled. “Of course, Noah. Or I will be very disappointed with you. You have a unique…foresight on things. If I didn’t know any better, I’d attribute that uncanny talent to an ability. Quite an asset for an agent, don’t you agree?”
“No choice, huh?”
Linderman grinned that annoying officious grin.
He met Johnson as he went out of Linderman’s office.
The man smiled and extended his hand to him.
“Mark Johnson,” he said, “I’m looking forward to working with you Mr Bennet.”
“Just Noah,” Bennet said shaking the other’s hand, “you have quite a reputation around here.”
“Well if you mean ‘notorious’ that’s me,” Johnson said in a drawl, with a hint of boredom.
Bennet gazed at the man. He was taller by at least an inch and lankier compared to his more heavyset structure. Aquiline nose and a high forehead with a rapidly-receding hairline and droopy eyes made him look like a bored clerk in some underground storeroom than an agent.
But the man’s stance was anything but clerical. There was something dangerous beneath it not meant to be crossed that Bennet’s ‘unique foresight’ picked up all too quickly. For a second Christopher Lee’s Dracula flashed in his head.
“Yes, constant disregard for protocols does make you famous in this place,” Bennet replied.
“Well it’s either that or become one of the pencil-pushers in upper management guys like you and me hate more than the sick people we’re assigned to catch.” Johnson said, smiling.
“I’m curious,” Bennet said.
“I used to be a quote-unquote magician who worked in Vegas. Had a pretty good act going for me too, until this FBI woman who’s a bit too much of a sci-fi geek spotted me out and practically forced me to work for them to stop a bomb from erasing half the country.”
Bennet was about to say something but Johnson continued, cutting him off.
“And when all that worked out and we stopped the so-called bad guys from achieving their objective, the government decided I was too much of an asset; specially Homeland Security—you cannot believe the kinds of assholes that wanted to literally put me in some kind of a leash so I can do their jobs for them. So, again, to cut the long story short, I packed my bags and did all sorts of petty scams mostly on casinos until I met Thompson and your good friend The Haitian. Given the choice of being on a constant lookout as a civilian or working as an agent with the full protection of the company, I guess you could say it was a no-brainer. Anything else you may have wanted to ask? Sorry, I tend to cut to the chase.”
“No, nothing more,” Bennet said, amused. Johnson already answered what he wanted to ask. “Just wanted to have at least a firsthand information on every people I work with.”
“Something tells me you and I will be perfect for this job”, Johnson said. “We’re probably not gonna get along, but perfect.”
A pat in the shoulder broke his reverie.
“All set?” Johnson asked.
“Yes, just checking my weapon,” Bennet answered.
“Sick bastard don’t you think? Even a bit cliched as far as serial killers go. An abandoned steel mill? I’m a fan of horror movies too. Not very original.”
“Yes, except that this guy is hardly trying to be theatric,” Bennet said, “He used to work here. So the terrain is very familiar to him. That’s another edge.”
Bennet looked at the huge structure looming in front, just beyond the locked steel gate. There was light inside. Yellow orange in hue that suggested smelters or poor incandescent lights. He felt the hairs at the back of his neck stand up for the first time in a while.
He’d had few dangerous missions in the past; almost died in several of them but was never greeted with the kind of trepidation just before he engaged an enemy. Maybe it was The Haitian’s equalizing factor in nullifying other evolved humans’ abilities that leveled the playing field, or that he never faced a teleporting serial killer before. A brutal one at that. Add to that fact working with a new partner on a very short notice.
Things aren’t going exactly how he wanted it.
He looked at Johnson, who seemed engrossed at something. “Let’s go,” he said.
They split up.
He approached the building from the West while Johnson took the much brighter East side, illuminated by the moon. He can’t help but think about the huge disadvantage he and his partner faced at this particular assignment. In normal operations when a hostile and deadly superhuman was already identified, a small squad of company trained assault team—their own SWAT unit—would have been present with them or at least on stand-by not far from the target area.
But they’re alone in all this. One, because of the element of surprise they needed, and two because Crabbe had a unique talent of sensing when a large group of people is out to get him, especially sniffing out law enforcement.
He was counting on the killer’s arrogance of taking out agents because of his unique ability and hubris that his power accords him over ordinary people. He was a sadistic madman who derived the most pleasure from his victims by breaking their spirit first before killing them when he already got bored with them.
Another factor was Johnson. Not only was this the first time he worked with the man, but the guy was also a loose cannon within the organization. His fondness for disregarding company protocols reminded him of his former partner Claude Rains.
No choice, now. Better see this thing through that they were already too deep into play.
Pistol in hand, he approached a side door in the darker corner of the huge structure. Faint orange light inside, and no sound that would indicate someone’s presence. He hoped whatever Johnson was up to is bringing them closer to catching this maniac before the both of them end up as victims 8 and 9, respectively.
He peered inside. Nothing but railings, steel girders and sandy floors with rats scurrying around them. Flights of stairs went straight up and down to some unknown basement levels. Of all the places, he thought. This is going to be hard. Extremely hard. He was a highly competent field agent, and had many run-ins with death because of his job but this is the first time he felt that gnawing sensation in his gut. Things like this shouldn’t bother him. But it did.
He ran the killer’s profile again in his head.
Dalton Crabbe was a heavyset man of 34. Worked in the steel mill and lost his job here when it closed down five years ago. He was built like a linebacker—in congruence to the kind of laboring he did in this place. Up until then he was just an ordinary productive citizen slaving his blue collar job, until the recession hit him with full force and got laid off with the rest.
Shrinks in the company theorized Crabbe’s ability manifested when the guy hit rock bottom with depression, and subsequently caused his insanity. It’s already too much dealing with only the emergence of an ability to most well-adjusted people. This double whammy of losing a job and coping with a newfound power proved a bit too much for the guy’s fragile psyche.
And Bennet found himself and Johnson right in the middle of it.
He was moving along the walls, blending with the shadows and avoiding the light as much as he can. The moment Crabbe finds him alone and without any help from his partner, that was it. No amount of field or combat experience would help against a teleporting maniac unless you have an ability yourself. That’s why the “one of us, one of them” motto of the company was extremely important. Human agents needed help from specials to at least make the playing field playable.
He heard something heavy and huge crash at the opposite end of the wall he was plastered to. Cold sweat was trickling from his forehead. Where the hell is Johnson, he thought, at least give a shout somewhere in this mill you already neutralized the bastard. His strategy was simple enough, move along the walls close behind your back so no teleporting perp could sneak up on you and slit your throat from behind. But of course, a quick ambush in front of you could work, too. That’s the reason for the cold sweat. It’s just a matter of who’s faster. He gripped the pistol harder. All his muscles tense and on alert.
He peered at the opposite side of the huge mill. His breath stopped. Crabbe was there standing about 50 meters from him. A bald bear of a man wearing black overalls and a hammer on one hand and a huge hunting knife in the other. Staring and smiling at him. A hyena might smile like that, Bennet thought.
Despite the panic trying desperately to claw through the surface to make his death a lot faster, Bennet managed to calm himself and turned the panic into a big lump in his throat and swallowed it. He mentally forced his body into combat mode. If that was a talent, he didn’t care. Just that he’s trying to adapt himself into an entirely new phase of the mission: Kill or be killed.
Crabbe walked—strolled—toward him like a man in the park. A man without worries, with even a bit of a bounce to the steps like a giddy child about to open a present. But he was thinking more along the lines of opening this agent’s head.
Bennet tightened the grip on his weapon. Waiting to aim and shoot as fast as he possibly can before this monster tried his tricks.
And reappeared 50 meters to Bennet’s right side still strolling toward him. And disappeared. And reappeared instantly. He disappeared and materialized in varying distances form Bennet’s immediate line of sight. Obviously toying with him. He materialized too close at one time—2 meters—only to vanish and reappear in a scaffolding 30 feet above toward Bennet’s left and teleported again 10 meters in front the agent and stopped walking.
“I always thought someone would catch up to what I could do, man. How’d you figure it out?” Crabbe said in a deep baritone.
“Figure what out?” Bennet answered. The SOB’s chatty.Good. Might buy him and Johnson time to corner the guy and stop him once and for all.
“Next time you bullshit me again, friend, I’m splitting your skull. Now HOW THE FUCK DID YOU KNOW!?”
Bennet was about to answer when he felt a massive blow to his midsection that took the air out of him.
Apparently Crabbe didn’t wait for an answer; just teleported in front and introduced himself via a powerful punch to his torso. Bennet slammed into the concrete wall behind him doubling over from the pain and let go of the gun. Petrified from the shock of the blow.
He’s in trouble. And Johnson, whom his troubled mind was just equating the term ‘cowardice’ and ‘ability’ in terms of the guy’s total inability to show himself now that the shit had hit the fan, was nowhere. A solid kick to his solar plexus almost made him lose consciousness.
And he’s alone again. And his gun was nowhere in sight. He was lying on the floor, writhing from the pain caused by the surprising force and ferocity of the attack.
“You know, I think you don’t need to answer that.” Crabbe said somewhere in the darkness inside of the steel mill. “I’m gona kill you anyway.”
He was just getting on his feet when Crabbe materialized in front of him. But Bennet was ready this time. Despite the pain from the blows he moved in quickly toward Crabbe employing a Krav Maga blow to the man’s throat, and was about to follow through with an arm-breaking lock as Crabbe dropped the hammer, when the man disappeared again.
Bennet heard him coughing and gagging somewhere above the building. They were both unarmed with their primary weapons. Crabbe still had his hunting knife though, and Bennet took the retractable baton from its holster attached to his belt and deployed its full length.
Crabbe reappeared at his right side without warning and slashed his thigh, and disappeared just as he made a baton strike meant to hit Crabbe’s temple. As Bennet was taken by the momentum of his swing a full 360 degrees to his right side, Crabbe instantly reappeared to his unprotected left side and made a horizontal slash with the knife at his left abdomen.
Bennet was bleeding badly by the time he hit the ground. Two deep gashes found in his right thigh and left abdominal area incapacitated him enough not to continue the fight. Amazing, he thought despite the pain. It all happened in less than 3 seconds. Crabbe’s proficiency to his ability was total.
He was clutching at his left side, trying to stop the bleeding.
Crabbe was obviously playing and trying to gloat. He could have killed the agent the moment he saw him. And he was standing over his next victim. And no one will ever catch him. He’s gonna take his time with this. Make a statement to all the G-men and whoever other law enforcement agency out to get him. He’s gonna carve this one good, and when he’s finished, no one will cross him again.
“You guys have a slot for another in that little schoolyard brawl of yours?” Mark Johnson said from a distance behind Crabbe’s looming body.
“Another one? This must be my lucky night!” Crabbe’s voice boomed over the place.
Bennet saw Johnson with the same kind of stroll Crabbe did earlier. Not a worry or care in the world. And he’s not even holding a firearm. Just an expandable baton similar to his own when the killer relieved him of his gun. He’s walking towards them.
Johnson’s stroll never wavered, he nodded good naturedly and said, “Depends on how you define ‘luck’. But yes, you are. Because I’m in no mood to kill anyone tonight.”
Crabbe’s eyes narrowed. “Is that so?” he said, amused at the confidence of the new guy. And disappeared instantly.
He teleported around several spots within the perimeter of the compound to check if there was anyone else outside, set to back these two just in case, but found nothing.
Just the car these agents came in.
No need to escape, then. Two victims in one night. Yes, very lucky indeed. He teleported back at the same exact spot where he stood over Bennet to find the second man whistling and waiting for him.
“Satisfied?” Johnson said, smiling.
“Yeah,” Crabbe said, and disappeared—
—and instantly reappeared behind Johnson with a downward stab meant to bury the knife at the man’s nape—
—that Johnson avoided with a small sidestep to his left, like a man asked by a passerby behind him to let him through instead of actually fighting. He reminded Bennet of a master matador. Not even looking at the bull and using small, economical pivots and sidesteps.
The fight was joined.
Bennet never saw anything as amazing or a truly wondrous sight to behold. He always wondered how a teleporter and a precognitive would duke it out in actual combat and here it was: a deadly ballet between two dancers for an audience of one.
Crabbe kept disappearing and reappearing around Johnson with lethal strikes with the knife at different target zones in the body, while the other kept parrying and moving with sure steady purpose; like someone who memorized a choreographed momevent a thousand times and repeating it now in high speed.
A small tilt of the head avoided what should have been a stab to an eyesocket. All offensive strikes by Crabbe were followed by teleports to another striking position. All Johnson can do is parry with his baton utilizing his hand to hand combat expertise and stay on the defensive.
Amazing, Bennet thought. He even momentarily forgot his injuries. Linderman was right about this guy. But Johnson should end this thing before Crabbe lost his his swagger and decide to escape. He could help out more if only he had his gun.
He was still grasping for ideas on how to help when he felt strong arms clasp him by the neck and sharp steel pressed against his jugular.
“Looks like I underestimated you buddy, turns out you’re a freak like me too but I’m not about to go home empty-handed. I’m gonna bathe in you partner’s blood while you watch, and escape. Just know that what happened here was all your fault.” Crabbe said.
“You wanna know why I was whistling?” Johnson asked.
“Because you’re an arrogant SOB about to become a wreck for causing your partner’s death, that’s why,” Crabbe taunted.
“Noah?” Johnson nodded to the hostage.
“Fine”, Bennet said.
Bennet moved so fast Crabbe did not know what happened until it was too late.
He managed to slip his arms to pry the knife-wielding arm from his throat just far enough to attack Crabbe by using his sole to stomp the man’s instep with all his might—a classic manuever he thought was too crude to employ but was now utilizing anyway—and delivered a punch to the groin.
Johnson delivered the final blow with a well-placed baton strike at the back of the head while the man was hunched over covering his abused jewels, howling and distracted by the intense pain.
Crabbe fell like a bag of potatoes, unconscious and probably suffering from a concussion because of the blow’s force.
“That’s why I was whistling,” Johnson said to the unconscious killer.
“You’d be whistling a different tune if I die from these injuries,” Bennet said.
Johnson looked at him and chuckled.
“What’s so funny?” Bennet asked.
“Nothing. It’s just so amusing when both sides of the fence keep underestimating your abilities.”
Bennet heard the MEDIVAC’s sirens from faraway and understood.
“You’re one hell of a field agent, Johnson,” Bennet said.
“Thanks Noah. Let’s do this again some time.”
“Not a chance.”
By the time the ambulance arrived, both men were already laughing.