** The Music Quest: Part 3 **
* * * * *
Memory Lapse was three feet from the side door of The Leaky Faucet when
he heard a car engine approaching. Figuring that no one but Headhunters
would be out at this time of night, he ducked back into the bar with a
feeling of panic building in his gut.
"There's a car coming," he stated to Ryan who was about to hand him a box
containing the nuts and bolts required to assemble the speakers and light
"A car?" Ryan replied, confused. He set down the box and went over to the
doorway. Memory Lapse joined him and together they peeked out cautiously. A
Gestapo patrol car rolled slowly by.
"Oh shit," whispered Memory Lapse. He ran back to the side door. The
vehical bathed Eddie in its high beams. "Oh shit," he said again.
"We're going to have trouble," Ryan said. Marcus didn't need to hear it
from him to figure it out. "Grab some bottles of booze from the bar. Make
sure it's the HEAVY stuff, the type that'll burn. The more the better. And
rags. Get rags too, one for each bottle." With short, curt and quick waves
of his hand, he shooed Memory Lapse off in the general direction. Ryan
remained at the doorway, watching the scene as it developed.
From across the parking lot, Nikki gestured nervously at him. She was
hiding behind the van, peeking over the hood. As far as Ryan could tell, she
was saying pretty much the same thing that Marcus did just a few seconds
Memory Lapse returned with three full bottles cradled in his arms, gently
clinking together. He held three off-white rags in his teeth, which he
dropped onto the floor, just inside the side door.
"We're making cocktails, right Ryan?"
"Yeah," he replied. Eddie was being questioned now.
Memory Lapse quickly unscrewed the caps of the three bottles of brandy
and went about drenching the rags.
Ryan jumped when the Headhunters pulled their sidearms on Eddie,
threatening to put holes in his forehead.
"Oh fuck," he muttered. Then he closed his eyes and started to hum the
first thing that popped into his head: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
* * * * *
Ryan Morgan discovered he had blood with a slight orange tint one day in
April a couple of years ago. He had given himself a small cut on the pointer
finger on his right hand while cutting vegetables. It wasn't until Memory
Lapse took him to the infirmary at Altars of Madness and got some tests done
that it was realized that he was an ETHER Manipulative.
Normal people have iron in the porphyrin core of the hemoglobin in their
blood, giving it its distinctive red colour. In 12% of Ryan's blood cells
however, the iron was replaced by boron which gave blood a tinge of orange
This new core gave Ryan the ability to pump thin streams of large and
excited 'mutant' electrons called ETHER (electronically transmitted, high
efficiency radiation that was left behind by the nuclear missiles from the
San Caradine Crisis) through the air and hit the brains of up to three
targets within a thirty metre radius of where he was standing, providing
there weren't too many obstacles for the ETHER stream to punch through (this
was the reason why Ryan never seemed to wear Vision helmets). The difference
between people with the boron porphyrin is where they hit the brain. Ryan
always hit the synapses controlling motor movement and locomotion in the
body so once a person was hit, they were essentially paralyzed.
Since Ryan was completely alien to his new found ability, he needed a
'catalyst' through which his powers would manifest themselves. Ironically,
that catalyst turned out to be music. The ETHER stream tended to work with
the rhythm of whatever Ryan was listening to. This was the SECOND reason
Ryan Morgan was also called Rhythm Addiction.
* * * * *
Leon Napoli was still sitting in the patrol car. A puzzled and bewildered
look crossed his face when Bob and Rick stopped in their tracks. That look
changed to alarm when Eddie Worrall was allowed, without any resistance at
all, to take the two Glock 17's out of their hands.
Leon drew his own gun and opened the door. Crouched behind it in standard
cover position, he stuck his gun out from the small sliver of space between
the front of the window on the door and the side of the windshield and the
door frame and yelled out: "Drop them Eddie!" The standing figures of Bob
and Rick prevented him from getting a clean shot if necessary and it seemed
like Eddie realized that. He didn't comply with Leon's request in any case.
They stood at a stalemate for a minute. According to his disgustingly
useful Vision helmet, Leon was thirty-five metres from where Eddie was
standing, shaking with fear. He decided there was no way for him to get THAT
far before Eddie took his head off, especially with TWO guns, fourteen
rounds a piece at that. So the stalemate continued, until Eddie Worrall did
a very stupid thing.
* * * * *
As hard as Ryan tried, he couldn't reach the third Headhunter that was
hiding beside the patrol car. He was simply too far away. So instead, he
concentrated on the two that he had already ensnared.
Memory Lapse squatted just behind the door, with three Molotov cocktails
at his feet. He noticed that Eddie was continually glancing greedily back at
his shitbox Chevy. He hoped he wasn't going to do what he THOUGHT he was
going to do.
Eddie turned and in desperation, bolted for his car. The third Headhunter
picked up on the action and started to fire. The first two shots bounced off
the side of Ryan's van. The third caught Eddie's left heel but still he
wouldn't stop. He continued to hobble as fast as he could across the open
stretch of snow covered asphalt, making a last-ditch attempt at escape.
Three more shots came, two tearing off strips of flesh from the left side
of Eddie's plump torso and the third lodged itself in the small of his back
with a dull, doughy thud. Eddie screamed like a siren but still wouldn't
The last burst of three did it though. Two hit his back, right under the
shoulder blades and the final, decisive one tore through the back of Eddie's
neck. Thick strips of neck muscle flopped awkwardly as he toppled to the
ground. Blood pumped out in spurts, engraving a grotesque signature into the
Ryan had the urge to scream but instead, he began to hum louder.
"Give me your lighter. I'll toss that Headhunter behind the patrol car a
cocktail," Memory Lapse suggested. "You grab those guns from Eddie." He
pointed at the shredded corpse lying a short distance away in the middle of
Ryan nodded quickly. His humming came down a notch in volume.
Memory Lapse signalled to Nikki, telling her to get into van. She seemed
to get the idea.
* * * * *
Leon felt miserable. He liked Eddie, that lousy son of a bitch. The guy
made some good drinks and always filled the beer mugs to the top, unlike
some other asshole barkeeps that he knew of. But before he was able to feel
overwhelmingly guilty about himself, an oddly burning bottle flew out from
nowhere and smashed on the ground just in front of him. A wave of heat hit
Leon in the face and flash blinded him for a few seconds. A sheet of yellow
flame raced across the snow and licked hungrily at the front of the patrol
car. The Molotov cocktail splashed some fuel onto the hood too and the paint
was starting to bubble, split and peel.
From his left, he saw a white floating shape, rushing around the van that
Eddie was loading boxes into. Leon didn't know what it was, though he
guessed that it was probably one of Eddie's accomplices in whatever crazy
scheme he had, so he shot at it anyway, again in bursts of three.
He had missed completely. The familiar crack and shatter sounds of glass
told him that he had hit some windows. The next two didn't produce any
sounds at all. The slide on the gun locked back on the second pull of the
trigger, telling Leon the clip was empty.
When he looked back up from his weapon, the white form had collapsed and
disappeared from sight.
* * * * *
Ryan pried the guns out of Eddie's dead hands. The stupid bastard wasn't
even holding them right. How was he supposed to shoot back if his finger
wasn't even on the trigger?
Gunshots rang out first in a trio, then in a pair. Ryan was distracted
from his humming but it didn't matter too much. Firing a couple of rounds at
the dumbstruck pair of Headhunters caused them to scatter, diving for cover.
He ran for the van.
Nikki was sitting on the ground in front of the sliding passenger door.
She looked up at Ryan with tears in her eyes. "I can't move," she said
simply. "I'm numb all over."
Memory Lapse rushed over, running out from behind Eddie's Chevy. He
looked down the two large red stains on Nikki's white sweater and for the
third tonight he said: "Oh shit."
Ryan handed both guns to him and lifted Nikki up onto her feet, got
behind her and hooked his arms under her own. Marcus slid the door open and
let him back up into the van, pulling her behind him.
At Ryan's command, he slid it back closed and ducked into the driver's
seat via the front passenger side door.
Ryan looked out through the window. Three bullet holes punctuated the
the otherwise boring safety glass. The last Headhunter was crawling
carefully back into his car. Ryan guessed that his gun was empty.
Memory Lapse started the engine and hit the button labelled 'trunk' on
the dash board. Some compact hydraulics pulled the hatchback door back down.
The Headhunter in the car stuck his head out again and shot off another
burst of three bullets, hitting the side of the van.
Ryan ducked his head down quickly, almost giving himself whiplash in the
process. "The bastard reloaded!" he yelled. "Get us the fuck out of here!"
Memory Lapse (who had also shrunk his head down to just a few inches over
the steering wheel), pumped the gas slowly and turned to the extreme left.
The engine in the van rumbled and growled and pulled the three of them
slowly towards the curb outlining the parking lot.
Ryan peeked over the bottom edge of the window with the gun in his hand.
Nikki kept her head still in his lap. Her breathing was starting to get
quicker and more and more shallow.
Memory Lapse rolled down the left side window and rattled a shot off the
side mirror of the patrol car. The Headhunter dodged back inside and started
the engine. His door slammed shut as Ryan fired three glancing rounds off
the bulletproof glass of the window.
The van stubbornly climbed its way up over the curb and onto the thin
strip of grass that emcompassed the parking lot's fringes. It rumbled across
the width of the sidewalk and over the edge of the opposite curb, landing on
the street with a massive thump.
Memory Lapse frantically turned the wheel to the right, causing the van
to fishtail just slightly before continuing down the road.
Behind them, the Gestapo patrol car backed quickly out of the lot, and
roared after them, spraying dirty snow behind it.X-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-X
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