Issue 1, chapter 3: A Meeting of Minds
The bodies of the unconscious and deceased members of the Death's Head gang lay scattered about the court as Fade moves between the dead, calling upon his powers to bestow upon them new life, before their journey to Beyond is done. Cass, seeing what is happening, grabs Fade by the shoulder and proclaims the wrongness of Fades deeds, knowing too well what a life cheated of death feels like.
"These souls have already passed the test of the Heart in the hall of Ma'at. Their judgement is done and they must make their way now to the Land of Two Fields."
"You have your beliefs," replies Fade coolly, "and I have mine. I can reach these souls, they are not yet lost. We have murdered these men, and I will not walk away from that while they may yet live." Cass responds,
"I can see your intentions are pure, but based on entirely misguided principles."
Seeing that further argument is senseless Cass moves off and allows the other man to continue his work, each corpse in turn choking back to live, unconscious, but healed of any major injuries.
"The Colonel is sending someth… someone else over to help you guys out. It's not what you'd expect" The group hears the chirpy voice of Switchboard in their minds.
Business card "Look", states Tracer, back from his investigations of the car, a business card visible in his outstretched hand. "This could be a lead."
"We need to find out more about this guy," says Rough Justice, having thought twice about leaving, deciding he didn't have anything better to be doing this evening. He points at the still comatose little man with the thin moustache, lying on the ground beside them.
"Allow me", intones Cass, his voice commanding as he kneels over the small man, prying psychically into his mind. Mental images begin to focus in Cass's mind, and suddenly they are as clear as if he was viewing them with his own eyes. He's walking into a crumbling drinking establishment. "Breakers Bar" the decrepit sign above the door advertises.
He's got his cronies in tow. He's talking to this Prodesapia guy, Imanov who was intent on meeting up. He's heard of Prodesapia of course, who hasn't? They're a big name bionics and prosthetics conglomerate, but he knows that if they want to talk to him, this must be the "other" branch of Prodesapia. These guys take human advancement a step further in the 'questionable ethics' direction. They give him the creeps, but hey if they've got something to say and money to back it up, he's not gonna argue. Fat Joe didn't get himself to the top of the Death's Head gang by refusing money on the ground of questionable ethics. Imanov, wearing a jacket emblazoned with the Prodesapia logo, a circle intersected with a square, speaks for the first time, foregoing any kind of greeting.
"We need a distraction. Focus the attention of the authorities somewhere other than our… operation. The reward is substantial." The memory finishes and Cass's mind is back in his own body. He relays the information he has gleaned with the rest of the group and as he does so, a strange, silver-skinned man wearing a large coat and wide-brimmed hat hiding most of his face walks boldly up to them.
"Who the hell are you?" Demands Rough Justice.
"I AM DESIGNATION MAX-TUESDAY. I WAS SENT TO ASSIST" A metallic monotone voice zip-lines through the air. Something about this new arrival appearing to be largely metallic rankles Fade, who is still thinking about Prodesapia's penchant for bionics.
"So Breakers Bar again then." States Tracer, matter of factly. The team, without any other lead, agree and set off, teleporting, motorbiking, running or otherwise making their way to the establishment Sledgehammer and RJ had been mere hours earlier.
Upon arrival, most of the group stay outside, keeping watch and trying not to attract too much attention. RJ, Cass and Fade head in and the barman looks up, sighing as he recognises Rough Justice from earlier.
"You again? Your big friend gone home already?"
"He's around. Look we need to find out about a man named Imanov and this company, Prodesapia. We'll make it worth your while" Says RJ, sliding a bank note across the bar. Taking it surreptitiously, the barman says,
"You want to talk to old Rusty, over there." He nods in the direction of an old man with a long white moustache drinking alone on one of the tables at the back of the bar. "He's certainly got a thing or two to say about those guys"
RJ buys three beers and heads off to join the old man at his table with Cass. ("Fade stay at the bar and scope the place out"). "Hi friend," attempts RJ, placing the beer down in front of the man.
"I know you?" The old man questions with a Slavic lilt to his voice, frowning at the new arrivals. It's a manoeuvre that sends the skin on his forehead into deep troughs, and knits his bushy white eyebrows together momentarily.
"Not yet, but we're hoping you might be able to help us out with a little… information gathering exercise." The man says nothing, but doesn't push them away either, which is encouragement enough for Rough Justice, who continues, "We're looking for any news about a guy goes by the name of Imanov." RJ is interrupted by an indignant snort from the man, Rusty, who involuntarily rubs his slightly worse-for-wear metal right hand. "I see why they call him rusty." RJ thinks at Cass through Switchboard. Cass's face remains impassive, studying the man intensely.
"Him? What's he done now?"
"Well, that's what we were hoping to find out."
As Cass stares deep into the other man's eyes, he pries his way into Rusty's memories. In Cass's mind, a younger Rusty is having a falling out with another man, who Cass mentally recognises as a much younger version of the man from Fat Joe's memory, Imanov. The vision is blurry, likely hindered by the inebriated state of the man it belongs to, and the sound is muffled, as though being listened to from behind a thick wall. Both men are wearing lab coats, and Cass can make out bits of the conversation. They are arguing heatedly about the morality of something. The young Rusty (who has two human hands) shouts something that sounds like,
"But it's just damned WRONG!", and pushes the other man as he utters the last word. Young Imanov shoves back, harder, and Rusty falls backwards heavily into one of the large scientific machines that occupies the room in which they're arguing. Winded, Rusty crumples to the floor, gasping for breath, and the machine tilts in slow motion before falling upon Rusty, crushing his arm underneath. Cass mentally relays to Rough Justice the things he has seen, and RJ says to Rusty in response,
"So I'm guessing you two don't get along." Rusty snorts derisively.
"You could say that. He and I had a… strong disagreement, about workplace practices." Rusty continues to absent-mindedly rub his prosthetic right arm. "There's a division at Prodesapia. Dissent in the ranks." He laughs bitterly, apparently he has made a joke, but one that is lost on Cass and RJ. He continues, "There are those who believe that the law is holding back the Agenda. They tried to recruit me, years back. I refused, earned myself this." He gestures with his prosthetic arm. "You want Imanov? You'll find him under Greenwood park, there's a lot of Prodesapia activity that way. I keep one ear to the ground."
"…under?" Says RJ, unsure what the old man had meant.
"I don't know where exactly, but they're operating somewhere underground and it has something to do with that Park."