• Ben Fentem

Location, Location, Location


Three Phones, three sets of coordinates, three missions. Of the whole team, three answered the call. Well, one never went offline, one answered the call and the other was ripped out of a really nice day out with his kid and dumped back into a life that I thought I'd left behind.


So here I was again, sat in the passenger seat of an Uber, trying to piece together exactly what was going on. A set of coordinates, and off we'd gone. Hitman on his signature black motorbike, Elemental...sorry... Ms Stone with her driver leaving me behind. Hitman had offered me the use of his car but my mind was still somewhere mid Atlantic and I needed to process whatever it was that was going on.


Dispatch seemingly needed the team back together for something, and I couldn't recall ever being dragged off on wild goose chases by him in the past. So whatever it was, it warranted attention.


Then there was the manner in which we'd been ripped out of our day out. Naomi hadn't shown any signs of any abilities in years, then all of a sudden foresight, telepathy and teleportation all in one go? That was a lot to process, for her and for me. Was that why she'd had a strop on all morning? Could she feel something that I was missing?


I'd left her with Mrs Hitman and the kids, because who saw that coming? Someone domesticated him! He'd assured me she was a safe pair of hands and right now I didn't see any other plan of action - the sooner we're done here the sooner we could go home.


So that was that, super power Sunday school was a thing now it seemed, watching kids grow vines, teleport round the room and generally act like kids showing off their toys to their new friends. Naomi looked washed out, and she was obviously concerned with what had just happened, but Kara's arboreal wizardry was providing a suitable distraction.


That each phone had the same message with an encoded secondary message was still settling back into my consciousness, I'd asked how Dispatch had even got my number when I was back in the UK. Hitman made it clear with an eyebrow how stupid that question was.


Two words. "Come Home." But this wasn't home, it never had been. I came here for a reason, found something I wouldn't have expected, did what I felt called to come here to do and then the time came to go home. Back to England. The message didn't even apply to me, yet something so out of the blue had triggered this and dragged us back here.


I looked back down at the sat nav on my phone, watching the address get ever closer....and that was another odd thing, we'd left all the tech at home, yet when we... when we what? Rematerialised? I guess that's the best word I can use, when we rematerialised at the Hitcave, my phone was in my pocket. How had that...


I took a breath, I needed to get my thoughts back in control. Eyes closed, in through the nose, count to 10. Slowly out, counting to 20. And again. I took a moment to pray, for peace, for wisdom, for something and opened my eyes.


We were leaving the urban expanses behind, heading into a semi industrialised area. It seemed familiar, but then grey steel framed boxes surrounded by shrubs look pretty similar wherever you go. We rounded another corner and before us was....


Oh...


"We need to get out of here!"


The searing pain in my shoulder where had injected whatever toxin was currently dissolving muscle tissue felt worse than any pain I'd ever experienced, the building was burning and I knew the primary explosive was still to blow.


He removed the restraints from my arms and I flopped over onto his shoulders as he unfastened the buckles that were holding my legs in place.


"Here will do, thanks fella."


I paid the driver and got out of the car. Not my home.


Fusion. Or at least the charred remains of it


Alarms sounded, followed by crackles and sparks, then smoke. The light faded as the power went out. Sprinklers. Another louder alarm.


'You two, get the civilians and the kid and get out of here, the rest of us let's roll.'


The ruins of the facilities, where I'd been tortured and where I first met Naomi. We'd rescued her from the lab as we took down the freak factory.


Her Home. Home may be the wrong word but it was where she first entered my universe. We'd never been able ascertain her parentage, or how she ended up at Fusion or what Dr Ross had in mind for her.


Sonus had destroyed the majority of the facility, leaving nothing but piles of concrete rubble and the twisted and charred steel frame. Aside from the graffiti covered hoarding, the vast site appeared untouched. There were a few panels missing, probably the work of bored kids looking to explore, but everything else was eerily familiar, including the sense of foreboding.


Without realising, I'd started rubbing the shoulder where the late Dr Ross had gone to work. Slowly lowering my hand, I stepped through the broken fence and into what had once been the parking lot.


I started to walk around the perimeter of the broken down buildings, avoiding the larger shards of glass that oddly still littered the floor. It had been 9 years, either destruction at the hands of the same characters that had come through the fence or cleaning at the hands of the municipality before the hoarding went up would have done something about that right?


But that wasn't the only oddity. Every third hoarding panel had been painted with the same message in large black script:


'WE ARE OUR OWN WORST ENEMY'


Not a single paint drip, nor a smudge, the slogan perfectly centred on each of its timber canvases. It was too deliberate, too precise to be the work of kids. This was worrying. Who was we? The paint was thick, and in perfect condition as if it had been layered up over time to reinforce the message to...who?


Every instinct said to call for backup, but who the hell was that meant to be? Once upon a time there was a team to call, but now I had no idea what the others would find at their locations. Cops in this town seemed to have a historical habit of falling on the wrong side of the coin too, add to the fact that I had neither warrant to be here or a visa to be in the country for that matter and I was alone.


Except I wasn't. Behind me a voice.


'You, I knew it would be you.'


I turned around slowly to face the source, now stood atop the rubble. Familiar but not somehow. Unkempt beard and hair, disturbed and distracted, his head constantly switching from the horizon to my face. His clothes were well worn but still showed the cut of what had once been a very expensive suit.


His face once again returned to mine as he descended from his derelict perch.


'We need to go, you need to take me with you.'


His voice. It was the voice of a broken man but it was a man I knew. OK, now it was serious. I reached for my iPhone and dialled the only number I could.


'Hitman, I need someone to bring a car. Now. I've found Dispatch'