OMEGA: Highwayman #1

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Christopher Jason Snyder

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Feb 13, 1995, 8:41:41 PM2/13/95
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The Purple Singing Butterfly Press Presents:

The Highwayman #1

"Agent Sanchez, notify headquarters that we have located our
target. It look like he is hitch-hiking his way back to New York City.
Agent Sekiguchi and Agent Fetter, help Agent Durbin load the long range
tracking equipment onto the shuttle. As soon as you're done we're outta
here."
Special Agent Edward Fletcher had been tracking Rick Slade for about
a week, ever since Slade broke free from the Project, but had been unable
to capture him. Every time Fletcher's team had gotten close enough to
catch Slade, Slade would dodge them. 'This time, I'm taking you down.'
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In the Village, there are a lot of places to party, but one of the
most widely recognized hot spots was the Keg. Every night of the week,
for one reason or another, the Keg was packed with party goers. Maybe it
was the live music, maybe it was the cheap alcohol, maybe it was just the
happening place to be, but whatever the reason, the Keg was always
overflowing with people.
Wednesday was no exception. The Keg was a full as ever, but no with
a typical crowd. That night the law enforcement community had turned out
in mass... not to break up the festivities but to add to them.
Earlier in the day, in a trial second in coverage only to O.J.,
mobster kingpin Louie Manetti received the verdict on his month and a
half long court appearance. Manetti had been connected with the murders
of seventeen police officers, three city officials, and more than thirty
others. Manetti's verdict came up guilty on all charges and he was
sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
John Montgomery, the thirtysomething owner of the Keg, had tuned the
television in the bar to the late night news so that everyone could see
the segment about Manetti. The crowd hushed to a whisper when the
reporter came on.
"Thanks Don. I'm here at the courthouse where earlier today,
mobster kingpin Louie Manetti was sentenced to life imprisonment with no
possibility of parole. Upon hearing the sentence, the courtroom, which
was full of spectators, law enforcement officials, and members of the
media, erupted with elation. Louie Manetti had been successfully dodging
the law for years, and could never be officially connected to any of his
illegal activities until recently.
The crowd gathered at the Keg instantly erupted with cheers and
celebration; all of which ended abruptly when the next segment came on
the television.
"The main portion of the evidence that led to Manetti's conviction
was obtained by a private detective, former professional wrestling star
Rick Slade. Slade's undercover work uprooted one of the largest
organized crime rings in history.
"Unfortunately, shortly after his appearance at the trial, Rick
Slade's Fifth Avenue apartment was bombed, killing Slade and twelve
others. Despite an investigation, no evidence was found to connect
Manetti with Slade's murder.
"One more victim of the Manetti reign of terror. At least he
insured that Manetti's reign came to an end. This is Trevor Thompson at
the courthouse. Back to you Don..."
The chief of police, Shad Demarco, who was in attendance, turned
down the television and turned to face the solemn crowd. "I'd like to
propose a toast. Here's to Rick Slade, a good friend that single
handedly brought down the biggest crimelord since Capone. God, take care
of him and try not to piss him off." Shad raised his glass and said, "TO
RICK!"
Everyone gathered responded likewise and took in the toast. The
atmosphere quickly returned to that of a raucous party, and the morbid
air that had been present was soon a memory.
But despite his best efforts, John Montgomery wasn't feeling
festive. John and Rick had been best friends since junior high, and ever
since Rick's death John had been feeling empty and lost.
But as lost and confused as he felt, things were about to get much
worse.
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"Special Agent Fletcher, I am changing your objective. I have
decided to abandon the Slade Project. He is to be eliminated and any
remains are to be returned to headquarters."
"Yes sir."
Albert Baxter switched off the viewscreen that had Fletcher's
beaming face on it. 'I've grown tired of dealing with you Slade. That
Neanderthal Fletcher wants your head anyway, let him have it.'
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"Agent Sanchez, get on the horn again and inform headquarters that
we have pinpointed our target and are preparing to engage. Gentleman,
things have changed a little. Our objective is no longer to capture our
target, he is to be eliminated." Fletcher noticed the evil grins that
had appeared on his men's faces. "I know, it's about damned time. Suit
up for battle and load up the equipment. We're going cyborg hunting."
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Amidst all of the festivities, nobody at the Keg noticed a complete
stranger walk in. A plain looking young man, he seemed to be completely
unremarkable, and he attracted no attention.
The young man worked his way through the crowd, weaving, and dodging
drunks, and found his way to the bar. John Montgomery noticed that the
young man looked particularly stressed.
"What can I get you?"
"Oh, that's a good idea. Why don't you get me a double vodka, straight."
John poured the drink and left it on the bar. He left and tended to
another customer on the other side of the bar.
The newcomer downed the vodka in one quick gulp and set the glass
back on the bar. "Hey John, could ya get me another one?"
Surprised that he'd finished it so quickly, John went back over and
poured him another. He took it down in one gulp again and set the glass
back down. He didn't seem at all phased by the alcohol.
"You're drinking pretty heavy there. Everything ok?"
"No not really." After a moment of thought, he added, "Not at
all... don't think I'm crazy, but could I talk to you somewhere... alone?"
John was a little surprised that a complete stranger wanted to speak
to him privately, but he agreed. He needed a break anyway. "Ok, gimme a
sec."
John went and told one of the bartenders that he was going to be
gone for a few minutes. When he returned, he said, "Ok, let's go in my
office."
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John sat down behind his desk. "What can I do for you?"
"Well, I'm not really sure how to explain any of this to you. I've
never been very good at being delicate. Aww, screw this, I'm just going
to tell you. Try not to freak out ok?"
John wasn't at all sure what to think of what he'd just been told,
but he figured that it would all make sense soon.
"All right, I'm going to show you something that you are not going
to believe. Try not to drop a load in your pants."
The stranger stepped back into the middle of the room so that John
could see him clearly. Then he began to undergo a strange
transformation. It appeared that someone was taking the fabric of his
being and pulling it like taffy, changing it's shape. The young man's
appearance began to change, like something out of a Michael Jackson
video.
In the next few seconds, the figure in front of John underwent a
complete metamorphosis. The slender bodily frame gave way to a well
muscled, beef of a man, adding about a hundred pounds in weight. The
clothing changed from plain brown pants, flannel shirt, and tennis shoes
to a black leather jacket, Minnesota Vikings T-shirt, blue jeans, and
black cowboy boots. His hair changed from short, sandy-blonde to long,
black, and curly, held back in a pony tail. The most drastic change came
from the face. Once a plain, unremarkable, innocent face of about
twenty, in seconds, it aged about fifteen years and added on a weather
beaten look; a face that looked like it had been through Hell, complete
with a mustache and a scar across the right cheek. It was a face that
John had known for the last twenty-some years. The young man had changed
from a complete stranger to an old friend.
"WHAT THE..." was all that John could get out of his mouth.
"Look, just shut up and let me explain before you panic."
The "stranger" noticed that John was frantically searching in his
center desk drawer for something. "Damn fool, I told you to leave your
gun in a place that you would be able to get it quickly. Remember, said
to put it on the shelf behind your desk?"
"WHAT?! HOW...?!"
"Just stay in your seat and shut up before you hurt yourself
panicking. Alright, I'll explain. It's me, John. It's Rick. I wasn't
killed by the bomb that blew up my place. I wasn't even there."
"What do you mean you weren't there? Where were you? There were
witnesses saying that you had just gone up to your room right before the
bomb went off." John was speaking very loudly, almost at a shout.
"Ok, it went like this. I had just gotten home, and turned on the
tube to watch the Vikings play the Niners. Just before kickoff, somebody
knocks at the door. Well I didn't want to miss the kickoff, and didn't
really care who was there, so I didn't answer it. Well, this guy busts
the door down and comes in. He was wearing this weird kind of armor, and
he had a nasty looking weapon with him, some kind of taser. Well, I
tangled with him for a while, and would have taken him if it weren't for
his four buddies that showed up. I held my own against them for a few
minutes, but one of them shot me with his taser and I went nighty-night.
"The next thing I remember is being in this weird prison cell. It
was more like a hotel room, it being furnished and all, but the door was
locked and the windows were barred. I was fed regularly for a few days.
Then one day they started feeding some sort of gas in through the vent
and I passed out.
John was completely entranced, not so much by the story, but at his
"dead" friend that was standing in front of him.
"I don't know how much time went by, but I woke up again to find
myself in this huge lab, complete with lots of geeks in white coats,
computers, and everything. Well, I was spread out on some examining
table and was being prodded by one of the lab geeks. He was trying to
cut me with some kind of knife, but it wasn't working. I sat up to see
more of my surroundings and to find out what was going on. Well the geek
that was prodding me with a knife panicked and called for security. More
of those armored guys came in and shot me with a taser before I knew what
was happening, but this time t didn't have any effect.
"Everyone in the room seemed to be really scared. They looked at me
like I was some kind of freak. Well I've never been to hip of being
prodded with knives and shot up with electricity, so I made for the door
as fast as I could.
"I was out of the complex before anyone had a chance to lay a hand
on me. The complex was out in the middle of nowhere, and I was thinking
to myself, 'it would be a whole lot easier to find out where home was
from up in the air.' So I flew up into the air. I don't know how, but
I just did it."
John's look of entrancement changed to a look of disbelief.
"I know, I didn't believe it either. But I can fly for sure." To
prove his point, Rick levitated himself a few feet above John's desk, and
continued on as though it were nothing. "I don't know exactly what
happened to me, but I think I'm some sort of Omega. I'm not sure what
all can do, but I have figured out a few things.
"I need your help John. Everyone thinks I'm dead, so I can't go out
and use any of my contacts. Nobody would believe that it's me. I need
you to help me find out what's happened to me." Rick's face was almost
pleading. Signs of the stress he'd been under were showing themselves in
his face. Suddenly, he looked a lot older, and very tired.
"How... how am I to be sure that you ARE Rick Slade? I mean, you
SHOULD be dead. I don't think believe it myself."
Rick looked very aggravated at his friend's lack of faith.
"Alright, I know this is all really hard to take, but I need you to
believe me. How can I prove it to you? What... do you want me to tell
you about the incident between you and Janice Stocking in the back seat
of the bus on the way back from a football game in high school? You
didn't think I heard you did you? I was plenty "busy" myself, but I
could still hear you two moaning away. And you thought you could keep
that from me... shame on you."
John was completely stunned to find out that his "first time" was
actually public knowledge. He'd worked so hard to make sure that nobody
knew about that, and his best friend had known all along. His best friend.
"Rick... it's... I thought you were... it's good to see you." John
nearly broke down in tears. "I can't believe this. OH MY GOSH,
MONICA!! She's going to be so happy to see you. She's been a mess ever
since you... uh... disappeared."
With some degree of evident pain, Rick said, "I can't talk to her
yet. I can't talk to anybody until I find out what's going on. You
can't tell anybody that I'm alive."
"Well, what do you want me to do?"
"Do you still have Andy Parker's phone number?"
"Yeah, he lives in New Jersey."
"Is he still working at Dynamax?"
"Yeah. F*ucker got a six digit salary with a huge corporation right
out of college. He's working in a computer research division."
"I think I'm going to need his help. I have no idea what's happened
to me, and his computers might be able to help out. If not, I don't know
what I'm going to do."
"Have they been following you?"
"I'm not sure. They probably have, but I haven't seen them." Rick
yawned deeply.
"You look like you haven't slept in a week. Why don't you go
downstairs and stay in the bomb shelter for a little while. Nobody knows
it's down there except me, and it's real quiet. You could get some quiet
sleep."
"Thanks, that sounds like a great idea. Could you get me something
to eat? I haven't eaten in days either, and I could really use one of
your Kegburgers."
John laughed. "Sure, I'll bring it down to you in a few minutes."
John showed Rick how to get downstairs. John had converted the old
bomb shelter into a spare bedroom. Rick went downstairs and looked
around, until he found the bed.
When John went back downstairs a few minutes later, he found Rick
sprawled out the bed asleep. John just chuckled to himself and sat the
burger and fries on a nearby table and left.
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"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T FIND HIM?! DON'T YOU KNOW HOW TO USE
THAT DAMN THING?!?!"
"Look, I don't know what happened. One minute he was on the screen,
the next he was gone. If he found the tracking device and removed it, we
could have a big problem..." Agent Sekiguchi was standing there in awe
at the tracking monitor.
"SH!T!" Fletcher took a moment to calm himself. Suddenly, the
usually vibrant and energetic Fletcher looked every bit like the forty
year old he was. "Alright, you keep tracking him from here. Durbin, log
into that damn computer of yours and check the area for possible
geographic interference. Everyone else, you're with me. We're going to
sweep the area he was last located." He looked over at Sekiguchi.
"A bar called the Keg in the Village."
"Remember, our objective is to destroy. Do not talk with him, just
blow him away."
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(Several hours later)
"SH!T! The f*cker just disappeared!" Fletcher and his team (minus
two) had gone into the city to check out the area surrounding the bar.
No one had been able to find anything remotely resembling a proto-type
cyborg.
"Fletcher, I think I found something."
"What is it? If you've found him, I'll marry you."
Agent Sekiguchi ignored that comment and went on. "I did a check on
possible building interference in the surrounding area and found
nothing. Then I did a check on any transmissions that were being made...
nada. Then, for some reason I did a check on the sewer system, and found
this." He pointed to the tracking monitor where he had pulled up a
display of the underground sewage systems, water systems, and underground
wiring. He was pointing to a specific spot underneath the bar where
there was a large empty space approximately three hundred feet below the
surface. "A bomb shelter. There are lots of them strewn throughout the
city. If he went down in there, this thing wouldn't be able to find
him. I'd bet my left nut that's where he is."
"Excellent. Let's hide this shuttle, and then we're going to go
kill an old friend."
Everyone's face present lit up with an evil smile.
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NEXT ISSUE: Slade finds out some of his powers and gets into trouble
with some PROSTO goons. Plus a sidekick and a girlfriend.

--
CC Snyder |Here's to you, here's to me, may we never disagree,
Northern Aurora |But if we do, to Hell with you,
Mellophone 93 |Here's to me.
Drum Major 94, 95 |

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