False Flag: Daddy Lessons (Part 2 of 2)

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Painting by Demar Douglas


The 80 freeway opened up to him as the sun crested its apex on the sky, rolling into the massive I-5. Black Fury rolled down the windows and let his thick left forearm rest on the door, feeling the aggressive wind whip by. The miles and hours fell without conflict until the built in navigation system directed him to pull off on East Miner Street in Yreka, a little bit south of the Oregon border. A two lane road called North Foothill Drive wound drunkenly to and fro until it found a private road that led loosely southward. Over the more course surface, Black Fury drove the Pig, winding through the erratic shifts in direction the path chose until he found a large chain link fence a bit more than a half mile from the main road.

Sighing, he looked past the thick shrubs (clearly artificial at this distance) to the single floor craftsman home nestled a hundred yards back. A simple mailbox was posted through the fence labeled simply "BALL." Two more sets of wire topped chain link fencing ringed the property at equal intervals and from where he was, he could see large, unpleasant looking black metal spikes poking through the fake greenery.

Black Fury tapped a button next to the trip odometer reset and a soft chime sounded. "Standard armor," he said.

The seat reclined slightly as a helmet on two mechanical arms swerved around from somewhere behind him. The sides of the seat opened up with more mechanical arms extending to attach plates armor segments and weapons around his arms and legs. A panel in the ceiling opened to let another set of mechanical arms bring down a chestplate and crotchplate, both of which clicked into place with armor pieces that emerged from the seat. Whirring and clicks and connections continued for about a minute until it was finally done.

"Outside," he said simply.

The driver door and part of the frame near the front tire swung open and his seat pivoted to gently place him on the ground. He stepped stiffly away and the door closed by itself. A chime sounded in his helmet and the words "AUTO SECURITY ENGAGED" flashed over his forehead in the tinted display.

"Activate," he said, "scan structure for actives."

"Unable to comply," a gentle synthesized female voice sounded in his ears. "Structural composition prevents any form of scanning, and electronic counter measures are blocking near field communications and surveillance packages."

He looked up, debating whether or not calling in satellite surveillance would tip his hand too soon, but ultimately decided against it. With a sigh, he started walking towards the house in the distance. The armor made it easy to vault the first fence, and he saw nothing like a driveway to make things easier.

He made it about twenty feet before he heard a familiar voice spin out from some unseen loudspeakers.

"Hello!" Wrecking Ball's voice sounded across the quiet landscape. No matter what she was saying, it always sounded like she was making fun of you. "You are trespassing on private property. There is a brightly colored yellow line a few feet closer to the house. If you cross it, automated guns will fire on you. If you have inquiries for the owner of this property, please contact the law firm of Hart & Associates, with offices in San Francisco. If you choose to proceed, please have next of kin information on your person. Thank you!"

Black Fury kept walking forward, looking at the ground for any sign of land mines or aggressive trip wires. He looked up when he heard the loud "clack" of spring-loaded releases and saw what looked like a line of shotguns strapped to l-shaped assemblages of wooden planks that popped up in near perfect synchronicity. At once, all of them fired and Black Fury took two blasts in the chest, surprising him and knocking him on his back.

Grunting, he got himself up and checked the armor. Clearly what came at him were not ordinary shotgun slugs, but despite some small dents, the visor displays showed he still had 100% structural integrity.

"I just want to talk, Tanya!" he yelled, amplified by the suit's speakers. The still sound of the countryside offered him no reply, so he grimly continued marching towards the house.

As he reached the line of shotguns, he saw a wide yellow line of plastic that was probably covering waterproof extension cords. He quickly glanced at the work connecting the guns to the wood and saw five sets of bolts and metal straps on each — a sign Wrecking Ball had done this work herself — and her voice rang out again.

"Congratulations!" she said snarkily. "You survived the shotgun line. Pretty impressive! Your continued progress means a little experimental ammo won't deter you, so you might be law enforcement or, oh boy, you might be a bad actor who means to do harm. I really think you should go back and contact me through Hart & Associates in San Francisco, but if you end up going past the orange line ahead the automated defenses get much less friendly. Good luck!"

Another loud click cut off the recording and Black Fury sighed.

"In for a penny," he muttered.


Walking forward, the suit beeped whenever he came close to impaling his legs on wickedly sharp metal spikes placed at angles through the high grass. He debated using the wrist flamethrower but thought it might send the wrong message.

Another twenty yards and he could see the orange line — another plastic, segmented section of protection for heavy duty electrical cords. He noted it was bigger than the last one and heard the "click" of the next weapon system.

He was very surprised to see a line of .30 caliber Browning machine guns pop straight up four feet rom the grass, boards with grass and dirt atop each one, and a swivel mount. He dived for the ground as the guns erupted with gunfire, each spraying left and right at perhaps a 35 degree angle. From the ground, he saw the nearest gun hungrily consume its belt-fed supply of ammunition, firing relentlessly for more than a minute. After the ammunition was expended, he stood up, only to see a second line of Brownings slowly rising. Angrily he took aim with his wrist and fired three rockets, clearing a path through the guns while the rest fired away.

"This isn't funny, Tanya!" Black Fury yelled.

With a grunt, he kept walking, now only forty yards from the front door. He saw a hammock strung from a corner of the covered porch and a small table near it, suitable for a cool drink or a dog-eared book. The air was still and the gunfire had scared off any wildlife around.

"If you've made it this far," Wrecking Ball's voice sounded out, louder now, as if the speakers were only coming from the house, "you're a serious threat to pretty much anybody. Automated calls have gone out to some pretty angry people, who are on their way here with some much bigger guns. There's a red line up ahead, and I tell you friend, if you pass that you're going to be taken as seriously as an all-out invasion. Last chance to turn back."

"Tanya!" Black Fury yelled. "This is important! I need to talk to you! Dammit!"

Frustrated, he turned back and walked to the van. Activating a toggle in his visor display, the driver's side opened up for him on his approach. He climbed in, saw the door close behind him and plugged his gloves into the Pig's systems via two sleeves that protruded from the dashboard.

Outside, the Pig underwent a kind of transformation. The front end and cab elevated twenty feet in the air while the middle section popped out a set of armored treads which settled on the ground and popped out a rack of orange-tipped missiles and three Gatling guns. The back doors opened and a double barreled 20mm cannon poked out of the back, its barrels telescoping into place. Metal spiked chains poked from the grooves of the front and back tires and the rear hub caps extended an inch, spinning out metallic fan like blades that spun menacingly.

Speakers on the Pig sounded out with Black Fury's voice: "You want it the hard way, Tanya? Hard way it is!"

The Pig lurched forward, the treads extending on thick metal legs to help the vehicle stay upright as it descended the two feet to the surface of the yard. The Gatling guns roared, cutting down a huge section of the shotgun line and the Brownings. The engine roared as the Pig plowed onward, missiles firing off at spike emplacements and making a flame bordered path.

As the Pig rolled over the red line. a wide swath of spray paint, a line of RPGs mere yards from the front porch popped up from the well-trimmed grass near the house, firing immediately. Not wanting to hit the house, Black Fury slammed down on his last chance move, a big red button in the center of the dashboard. A shimmering reddish sphere of energy appeared around the suddenly immobile W.A.R. Pig and the rocket propelled grenades exploded against its surface harmlessly. At that moment, mortars let loose a hail of shells that arced over the house and slammed into the shield, forcing it to flicker but hold steady. The ground erupted in incendiary charges with a huge wall of flame surrounding the house in a circle and buffeting the energy field harmlessly. After a few moments, the ground itself erupted in a heaving wave as huge metal plates lifted the ground up in multiple spots, including one right beneath the Pig. The vehicle was upended and tossed on its back, the energy field dissipating like a broken promise.

Black Fury's armored shape was ejected from the downed Pig and he landed with a thud right inside the perimeter of the manicured grass.

"TANYAAAAAAA!!!!" he yelled angrily.

He sprinted across the yard, using his jet boots to vault away from a land mine explosion at the last possible second, landing with a heavy thud on the porch. The wood underneath him cracked slightly as his feet made contact.

"Wow, you made it this far," Tanya's voice came from everywhere around him. "You must be some kind of weapon of mass destruction to get past all that, which must mean … hang on one second …"

"I'm coming in, Tanya!" he bellowed.

Black Fury reached his armored hand towards the door and the world went white. A gigantic explosion rocked the building and he was hurled into the air thirty feet. He tried to fire his boot jets and found them jammed with debris, making him sigh. He landed on his back in the shattered wreckage of the house near a very large metal trap door with a grill that looked like a loudspeaker at the center. Groaning, he got himself up into a seated position.

"If you're hearing this," Wrecking Ball's voice said sadly, "you must be John. Nobody else is tough enough or stupid enough to survive that much Semtex and still be moving around. Now, you could think, ‘she hasn't had time to get far, I could squeeze this big old armor into that hole and chase her and survive whatever traps she triggered.' Or, you could think, ‘She saw me coming. She'd have left immediately, her head start is way too big by now.' Or, you might wonder if I was even here when you showed up. Whatever you think, do me a favor, John? Think it without me. We should only see each other at work, because we're over. I'll never use this property again. Good bye, Johnny."

With a groan, Black Fury tapped a keypad on his wrist and triggered the suit's cell phone, dialing a number.

"Hello?" he said, laying back on the ground. "Yes, Hart and Associates? That's great. Uh … one of your clients said I could leave a message for her here. The name? Tanya Bell, her name is Tanya. Could you please tell her that John Perry Jr. called? Oh, the message, yes. Please tell her that John Perry Sr. died on Monday, and he asked about her before he went. Yes, ma'am, he was my father. That's kind of you to say, thank you. All right, good bye."

He lay there, staring up at the thin clouds rolling by, for a few moments. Then, exhausted, he got himself back up and walked over to the W.A.R. Pig, shaking his head at its state. He activated the emergency reboot, restoring power after the energy shield trick, and then strained every servo in the armored suit shoving the vehicle upright so it could reconfigure back into a van. He glanced around for a clear path, and drove the van back to the road, starting the long drive back to Sentinel Station.

False Flag, Created by Hannibal Tabu in conjunction with Demar Douglas, Quinn McGowan and Damion Gonzales.

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