By Jeff A. Hatch
About the Author

What's Gone Before: Blane Trask, aka Eclipse, breaks into the Trask Tower with the aid of his friend Lane Briggs and deletes the plans for his prototype Defender suit, which had been secretly modified by his fake father, Anthony Trask, into the more lethal Destroyer.  But he learns two copies were made of the plans, which he must find and destroy.  Attacked by a thug in the nearly-invincible Destroyer suit, Eclipse barely escapes alive.  Learning there is now a price on his head, he fakes his death, by blowing up a crooked security guard in his Porsche.
Now, leaving Eclipse for a moment, a new "hero" is born...

Episode Seven:

A Date with Death

Across town several days earlier, another man would face a series of life-threatening events, ones that would change him for the rest of his life.

Cody "Slip" Jenkins was doing the only thing he did best. Cody was "casing" a place for his next midnight theft.

Cody was an orphan; his parents died when he was a child. Cody had spent the majority of his life in the Alkatraz Orphanage. The place had made a smooth transition from prison to orphanage and school about twenty years ago. There were a lot of orphans in Necropolis, more than in any other city in the country. Cody had earned his nickname "Slip" from the other kids. Cody had a talent for slipping into places he had no business being in. That was what he planned to do tonight.

Cody had a real job for about a month after he left the Island, but it bored him and didn't do much to pay the rent. Cody had fallen quickly into a life of crime. He thought he was clever 'cause he had a new angle on things; he stole from criminals. Currently he was casing the Armadillo, a bar that was base of operations for the deadly Bloodstone gang. Cody knew from the streets that the Bloodstones had just made a big score, and there would be enough loot to set Cody up for a lifetime. Cody wanted something to make his life more meaningful; maybe moving to another city or a vacation would do him good.

Maybe some money would make him a little more popular with the ladies. Nature had seen fit to cheat Cody of any chance of finding the beautiful woman of his dreams. Cody was blessed with a gangly figure and a homely, unlovely face. His hair was black and showed no signs of being well-groomed.

Watching the bar, Cody saw that there was a short fence that led to the back, probably where they dumped the trash and bottles. The place wasn't open yet and there was no one around; it suddenly occurred to Cody that it would be better to go in now. It was New Year's Day and there was little traffic on the streets -- not like anyone really ventured to this ugly part of Haight Street at any other time.

Cody came to the fence and vaulted it easily. For all his homeliness, he was very strong. The back was indeed a dumping ground for trash and bottles. The place smelled of urine and looked worse that a cesspool.  Cody walked to the back door and found it barred by a heavy padlock. With a flick of his wrist and the help of some fine tools, Cody unlocked the sturdy-looking lock in under half of a minute.

The door to the bar swung open and the smell of warm beer assailed his nostrils. Cody thought that he would love to make a big score so he could get far away from jobs like this. Cody found that, aside from the main bar and the shared bathroom, there was an office. Cody 'slipped' into it and ransacked it expertly. There was a lot of papers that Cody brushed aside and a few guns hidden in the drawers of a rotted desk. Finally Cody found a large safe built into the floor. He fell upon it.

While he listened for the eventual sound of tumblers, he fingered the pendant that he wore. It was a pewter thing that had been given to him by his father; he knew that though he could not remember anything else about his parents.

The tumblers clicked in rapid succession and the safe popped open; inside were several bundles of bills and boxes of jewelry. Cody knew he could sell the jewelry to his friend Dwight Picket for a pretty penny. Cody stuffed his pockets and replaced the safe door. As he spun the dial, he heard the front door opening.

"Shit!" muttered Cody. "They were supposed to be gone."

Cody leapt to his feet and headed for the back door when a biker appeared in the hallway. He saw Cody immediately and drew a pistol. The biker fired off a shot at Cody while shouting a warning to his friends.

"Someone is ripping us off! He's heading out back!"

The shot rang out, filling the hall with thunder, but Cody was no longer there. Cody had reached the backyard and was heading towards the fence when he saw hands appear at the top of the fence. He backed away staring at the hands. An ugly head appeared next. All of a sudden Cody was hit from behind by a flying body. Cody spun, trying to keep his footing, even as the air left his lungs -- he sent whoever it was flying away with an expert throw. Cody did learn one thing at the Island; he learned to wrestle from the school's husky PE coach.

Cody forced himself to draw in a breath and notice that there were three thugs moving in from the bar and fence combined. That made four men to deal with; Cody thought he could do it if they didn't shoot him first. That was when he saw another figure appear from the bar. The man wore leathers marked with the blood-red emblem of the Bloodstones; he wore a scarlet helmet with yellow spirals painted on it. This one was "Snake", the leader of the Bloodstones.

"Look who we have here!" mocked Snake. "Little Slip Jenkins -- I was wondering when you would try something stupid like this."

The gang leader drew a long piece of chain from his belt. The chain rang as he whirled it. Cody knew he was dead, so he launched himself at the leader hoping to impress them into letting him live.

"You ain't taking me that easily fucker!" spat Cody, hoping to boost his own courage.

His charge ended short as he was intercepted by two of the bikers; both grabbed him and tried to hold him steady, no doubt for their leader to beat on him. Cody was not to be held, though; he wrapped his arms around each and banged their heads together. There has a sickening thud as they fell to the ground.

Meanwhile, the first thug to fall got up and hit Cody across the back with his chain. The links ripped Cody's T-shirt and drew blood, but Cody was fighting to live now; that was quite a motivational factor. Howling in pain, Cody whipped around and caught up the biker by the neck and balls and lifted him up in the air. The biker screamed and thrashed, but Cody just tossed him into the wall. There was a reddish smear where he hit. Cody had killed the man.

The remaining bikers, Snake and the other unnamed thug, came forward brandishing knife and chain respectively. Snake whipped Cody with the chain while the thug slipped his knife into Cody's leg. Repeated blows brought Cody down; Cody could taste his own blood in his mouth and realized he was lying in a puddle of it. Cody lifted himself up, but was knocked down and out by another swing of chain.

Blood and tears glazed the vision of Cody Jenkins as he regained consciousness. Instantly Cody was aware that his body was not his to control; the weight and strength of steel chains constricted him, all but cutting off the flow of air to his lungs. Casting his eyes around to take in the sight of several dozen bikers, Cody figured he would not have time to choke to death.

The crimson-helmeted leader of the Bloodstones spoke his wraith at Cody, every word an evil stab at Cody's endangered humanity.

"Tough luck for you, street boy! This is how we deal with guys stupid enough to oppose us in anyway."

A grand gesture revealed that Cody's chains were fastened to the back of the leader's powerful 'Hog'. A cold chill ran through Cody. Fear mounted and he raged against his chains; Cody guessed that if the chains somehow were to gain the power to speak, they would laugh at him.

Gazing around, Cody saw a dark Angel, a cat-like woman who moved as if her muscles were rolling under the cover of silk. It wasn't that she was classy or anything, she was just slinky. The tall dark woman was temptation in her black leathers and fishnet stockings. She glided to the side of Snake and made a pouting face at Cody.

"Why do you have to kill him? It's not like he actually got away with anything."

She seemed indifferent to the subject, yet it pleased Cody to see that someone questioned the evil of what was about to occur.

"He killed Jimmy!" replied Snake. "Besides, if he got away, we would have lost a lot of money, and that would mean less pretty things for you."

Snake caressed her cheek with his leather-clad hand. She bit at it playfully and reminded herself to remain loyal to Snake or else.

"Let me go!" screamed Cody. "I'll do anything you say."

Cody just wanted to get away so he could come back and kill every one of them.

"Anything?" asked Snake, and then, without an answer, he said: "Then....die!"

With that, he kicked his bike and the powerful engine roared like a beast trapped in the heart of the big machine. The chain went taut and Cody braced himself, knowing that it would only slow his inevitable death. Still, Cody was angry. Cody felt like a child sent to reform school for playing with his friends. He was only doing what he had to for survival.

As he began to move, the chains started to grow hot, then sparks flew. Cody tried to roll so that his back took the brunt of the damage, but in the end he turned over at a sharp turn and his face was exposed to the pavement. His already homely features ground away and pain shot through Cody's body. He turned at a tight curve and his head was banged hard against the curb. He lost consciousness several times -- then he was flying through the air. He heard a mixture of laughter and screams. He heard gunfire and the sound of motorcycle engines slowly dissipating. Then, as the pain reached a pinnacle, he felt nothing and everything went black...

Next episode....Father Knows Best!

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Necropolis is copyright 1999, Jeff A. Hatch. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)