Camp Blanding, The US government's Florida HQ.
2 AM, 12th of June, 2013
The orders the colonel received were loud and clear.
Re-take Florida at all costs, and then push north. Florida's 3rd Super unit's next target was clear - They had to kill the lords keeping a tight grip over Palm Bay and slowly suffocate the larger groups in Florida's southern inland. The McNeil family wouldn't prove to be much of a problem to handle.
The colonel entered a small tent at the edge of the camp and looked around the compound where the military's elite were at. Plain bunk beds were the comfort of potential kings, and nearly rotten food rations filled their stomachs. The colonel knew that nothing was stopping them from breaking loose and taking what they want, nothing except for their loyalty to their country, or the shadow of it that remains now.
"Attention, soldiers!", the colonel announced and the five super-soldiers of Florida's 3rd super unit noticed the high ranked army-man enter their tent. Some immediately stood up and saluted while others had to get off their beds to acknowledge the high ranking officer. Mitchel was the first to speak as the leader of the group.
"Sir, yes Sir.", he saluted and stretched his chest, with the others following Mitchel and roaring at the same time.
"Sir, yes Sir!", the four others said. They all trained their eyes at the colonel as he began to speak.
"I have your orders. You are to re-take Palm Bay for the US government and continue the struggle to unite Florida. Our intelligence suggests that there are seven supers guarding the city... I trust you will be able to eliminate them. Your munitions and transportation are waiting at the gate.", the colonel looked at the five individuals standing in front of him. With the other more experienced super groups busy in action, he had to rely on the third unit to reign in Palm Bay.
"Sir, Yes Sir!", all of the five answered together. The colonel nodded and turned back, leaving the tent.
Mitchel sighed and stared at the lockbox on the opposite side of the tent. He knew that the more he left his family the bigger the chance of them getting hurt, but he couldn't abandon his friends still in action. Some of them couldn't leave service - Dirk had the conviction to protect others and Manny had no place to return to.
"You heard the man, suit up. Get your special gear and meet me at the gate, understood?", Mitchel barked at the others and headed straight out of the tent. The others scrambled to get into their uniform and each retrieve their own device, a gift from the state.
They had a long drive ahead of them from Jacksonville to Palm Bay. It's a shame none of them could fly.
2:20 AM, 12th of June, 2013
The team is finishing up with loading their vehicle, a Jeep with a high caliber machine-gun placed on the top to counter any armored targets they might get past. Mark sat at the wheel, the slender and short soldier made himself comfortable in the driver's seat. His equipment was at the back of the truck, a rifle fit for long range and an incredible scope able to enhance his sight up to eight hundred meters - but he didn't need any of that. His good eyes would do just fine in a combat situation. They could easily spot a baseball from two miles away. That was one of the reasons Mark always sat at the front seat - he was the team's lookout, and on more than one occasion he saved their asses from a faraway ambush.
Mark's blue eyes stared at Sarah too long, because before he could disengage and look elsewhere she caught him staring at her and smiled back. Sarah was the team's resident medical officer, or what was the closest to it - she was a pediatrician working for the army, looking after the kids of veterans and officers when the collapse hit. With her home in the state of Washington, she already gave up on ever seeing her brother and sister again. She tried to load up a heavy crate of munitions on the jeep and almost fell on her back, but Manny caught her and the crate before they had both hit the ground. He helped her up and loaded the crate in the back of the truck.
Manny sent Sarah off to the jeep and turned back to see his other teammates. Mitchel's cold touch spooked Manny as he approached him from his left and surprised him. He ordered him to take a seat as well and he walked back to Dirk as he was sitting on an empty crate and eating a half full can of tuna fish. Mitchel tapped on the large black man's shoulders and reminded him they had to move, and that they could eat on the road or after they've finished with the mission. Dirk begrudgingly agreed and left the can of tuna on the crate. He was the last one to enter the truck and mount the machine-gun on top, though during the trip he sat on the loaded crates in the back while the machine-gun was hidden under a grey blanket.
Mark raised his right hand and shouted, then waited for the others to answer before he drove off. They were team number 3, or "The tornado", as they've named themselves after their late sixth teammate who could create wind tunnels with his powers.
The tornado was about to hit Palm Bay.
Almost an hour of driving later, the road was still dark, illuminated only from the headlights of the Jeep. Dirk was leaning forward on the blanket that covered the machine-gun and staring out into the abyss the awaited them forward.
"Yo, Mark.... How can you see anything in this dark?", Dirk said spontaneously after almost an hour of silence. They knew they all had to remain alert in case they would be attacked on the road, but Dirk didn't car. He was bored to death, and even the faintest clue of a conversation would save him from his untimely demise.
Mark snarled at Dirk's interruption. He always tried to remain silent when needed, but Dirk couldn't keep his mouth shut. Mark was certain it was caused by Dirk's previous experience as a Jacksonville policeman, and talking during stakeouts with his partner seemed to be his favorite past-time when he had to kill time.
"I see... ", mark sighed loudly, "-my pupils are dilated as fuck, which is why I won't break my stare".
Mark kept his head forward and his hands firmly on the wheel. " I have to catch every light I see bouncing off anything in the distance, and you bothering me is going to break my focus", Mark finished his answer with a hint of anger.
Dirk wasn't surprised at Mark's answer, but he just wanted to pass the time better. He had enough of running the scenarios of what happened then in his head. He had to stop thinking about death for a change.
"And you, Manny... Did you improve on your time yesterday?", Dirk blurted out another sentence and hoped that his Latino companion would be more inclined to enter a conversation.
Manny turned back on his seat and looked up at Dirk. He smiled, put his hand over his nose and then disappeared. Dirk watched with awe as his teammate escaped the bonds of reality and hid himself in plain sight. Sarah was nudged to the side and against the lower Jeep door before she woke up from his nap and saw that an invisible force was pushing her away. She screamed hard and Dirk started laughing, but before she could carry on Mitchel turned around and dropped his hand on the right back sit, hitting Manny on the head and canceling out his invisibility. Manny opened his air and took a deep breath while Sarah seemed to be hyperventilating after having woken up so violently.
"I can keep it up to four minutes twenty if I'm not moving still... about a minute if I-", Manny stopped and cried "ouch" when Sarah punched him in the chest for scaring her. The middle-eastern looking miss started screaming at the aspiring prankster for waking her up while he was invisible and scaring the crap out of her.
"Shut up, Dirk", Mitchel ordered, "We have a long way to go till we hit Palm Bay".
Dirk smiled and said quietly, "Like a mother-fucking Tornado".
City Hall, Palm Bay
1:30 PM, 12th of June, 2013
Workers labored to keep the city hall clean and operating, even after the many renovations the McNeil family had done with the place. The sixty of so inhabitants of what used to be the beacon of democracy and freedom in the city now live comfortably within the hall, relying on the powers of brutal and bloody "persuasion" their super-powered relatives hold.
The workers do their best to stay hidden and unseen, so they may not suffer the wrath of the McNeil family. Once a group of manual workers and servers, the McNeil had taken their rightful place as the rulers of Palm Bay and enslaved the rest of the population to do their bidding. The fear had struck the hearts of many from the unrelenting strikes of George's wind and Danny's inexplicable drunken rage.
The delicacies Jenna and her cousins share in the upper right suite would only be a distant dream for most of the city's dwellers, a dream of an earlier time before all of the madness came into view. Before the collapse, the Irish didn't grasp the city in such a stranglehold - before the collapse, money was power.
Now... Power was Power.
An emissary had entered the building from the commons entrance and spoke up, rying to catch his breath between words. The winded young man shouted out, "The military is coming; it's coming from the north!", and the family stopped in its tracks. Mouths remained open and conversations stood still. It seemed as if their long reign of five months would come to an end by those who wish to restore the previously grand Republic...
"Then we shall come to fight them", a voice echoed through the halls of the large building. A voice like no other had heard before, one of an elderly mistress of the devil. It spoke, and the young man removed himself immediately. The Jew would command her armies of Irishmen against the forces of long forgotten order, and she will retain her throne.
The six supers in the McNeil branch presented themselves at the noble entrance to the great halls. They all stood uncomfortably, some wearing Kevlar vests stolen from the local police force and others holding firearms as a secondary protection aid. They would have to draw the military's forces into the narrow city streets so their superior numbers would work against them. Explosives were already rigged in some of the city's largest intersections, and the family knew they would have to spill blood to remain in their place.
There was Henry who had already grown used to his greenish skin complexion, trying to jump as low as he could within the walls of his castle. The young boy wasn't that much of a hit with the ladies beforehand, but now only those instructed to be with him dare touch him. He resents Jenna for taking the hand of his blind father, Flint, believing the black woman only wanted to exploit the poor widower. Jenna was the odd one out, a black woman in the midst of a family of white Irishmen.
They didn't hope for the appearance of the city's militia, as they weren't sure who they will favor. The rule of the McNeil family had been harsh, and the people resented them. Whoever remained in Palm Bay had to endure through much abuse, and those who found arms are itching for a time of weakness to come to the house of McNeil.
They waited for the enemy to come to their lair, and there, they shall feast upon its failure. No new power would rise to replace the family.
The McNeil family will remain there forever.
4th avenue, Palm Bay.
2:21 PM, 12th of July, 2013.
The entrance to the city had guards standing in front, but when they saw the uniform on the five soldiers riding the jeep they stood down and lowered their weapons. They didn't wish to engage the army, and they feared the forces of the old government's super units. The group entered the city calmly and Mark raised his left hand in the air for Dirk to see. He unveiled the machine-gun and began to slowly load the heavy weapon. They expected to see some resistance, but nothing was there to stop them.
The silence made them uneasy. But the silence didn't last long.
A trash can they passed by which stood a few feet behind the car exploded in a huge blast, throwing the jeep forward and almost toppling it over. The group knew they had already engaged the enemy, but they couldn't see it.
"Incoming, RPG! Yellow house, third floor!", Mark shouted out to Dirk as he finished loading the heavy gun and he quickly tried to position himself so he could hit the yellow house. .. But there was no yellow house.
"Can't see no fucking yellow house!", Dirk shouted back. Sarah seemed anxious to leave the vehicle, but before she could stand on both of her feet Ben already shot a rocket at the incoming jeep from the yellow house two hundred meters away, at north-north-west. The house belonged to one Geler Shmidt, an accountant who hastily decided that the early collapse had been the sign of end-times and took his own life - not before killing his three daughters and wife. It was wedged between two apartment buildings, a sight to behold, and the beauty served as one of the McNeil family's summer houses.
Ben stood on the third floor, the whole floor exposed already to the street after a streak of spontaneous renovating his mother made the servants do. His body was already struggling to keep the heavy launcher on his shoulder. One click and the rocket flew away, hitting the road ahead of the jeep and causing the damned vehicle to spur out of control and fall on its side. Tornado team tried to quickly climb out and each of them took their course. Dirk broke the supports for the machine gun and mounted it on the floor, spraying the yellow house with bullets. Suddenly Dirk could see the yellow house - it seemed like Miriam's mind tricks are paying off. The Jew sat in her comfortable chair with her wrinkly eyes closed, concentrating on the battlefield with her psychic abilities.
Mark ran back to get his equipment situated in a long and thin metal box, one he ran with to the nearby high-story building. It was a brick and mortar red office building, one he had to run through all of its stairs just to reach the top floor - and from there jump to the roof, one of the tallest places in 4th avenue. From there he could see the incoming truck from seven hundred meters away, where Jenna was already driving in and transporting a few armed normal McNeil family members in.
Sarah already pulled herself out and quickly healed Mitchel who gracious allowed her to keep her powers as she touched his right shoulder. Mitchel was pulled out by Manny who then proceeded to grab some munitions from the back of the truck. He handed Mitchel his rifle and loaded his own, then allowed Sarah to handle her sub-machine gun. They both held TAR-21, one enhanced with a grenade launcher and the other endowed with a medium range scope.
Manny liked to blow shit up.
Ben escaped the heavy fire but abandoned the RPG and missiles behind on the third floor. He went downstairs and got a radio message from Jenna telling him to stay put and wait for a pickup. He tried to hole up in the second floor but the fire from Dirk's Machine-Gun had forced him to flee downstairs and out through the building's backyard, pushing through a passage between two small resident buildings and emerging on the 5th avenue only to meet a few unlucky residents of the city. There were five of them standing together huddled around an open fire with a rusted pot filled with soup on top of it. Ben raised his black glock pistol and pointed it on the gang.
"Get the fuck up and follow me, or die if you want to run", Ben spat out his orders, his menacing voice striking fear in the five city residents who simply wanted to be left alone. There were two women and three men, one of which could read Ben's mind and see what awaited them on the other side. They were going to be cannon fodder, and John knew he wasn't going to die in the crossfire. He and the other four companions followed after Ben orders and started to walk towards the alleyway between two apartment buildings leading to the backyard of the yellow house, separated by a mere fence Ben easily went through.
"You're gonna have to climb a bit, so start soon...", Ben stared at one of the men who seemed unwilling to continue. James stared at the McNeil brother in awe and tried to weigh his possibilities... He had a gun, but James had something better.
Back up on the rooftops, Mark loaded his Springfield rifle and shot at the approaching truck driven by Jenna three times, the fourth bullet successfully hitting its right tire and crashing the vehicle on 23rd street a hundred meters away from the intersection with 4th avenue. The soldiers slowly came back to their senses and climbed out of the truck. Mark pulled his eyes away from the group and tried to scour the battlefield.
He looked around the nearby rooftops and saw a strange figure lumping over some red hunk of what appeared to be raw flesh. The figure was dressed in strange and colorful clothes that appeared to be those of a clown or a circus performer. Mark quickly drew his rifle and took aim at the thing. It was then that Fromanzio was shot in his left arm, throwing him back without notice and shocking the poor sod. Mark didn't have enough time to verify the kill as he heard the others below fighting.
Back on the street level, Manny, Sarah and Mitchel were already advancing forward. Manny was carrying an ammunition belt when Dirk fell down to his knees and dropped the machine-gun on the floor. "Mark, see if I killed the fucker on that house... MARK!", Dirk yelled and waited for a response.
"I can't see a body!", Mark shouted from up above. He kept on scouring the streets, the strange clown thing was still on the ground, but something had already caught his eye. It was a pickup truck turning half a click in front of the crew on street level, driven by Henry with his brother and uncle holding a rifle and a sub-machinegun up above who then started shooting at the Tornado crew without notice.
'You idiot! You're all exposed!', a voice echoed through Henry's mind as his green arms clenched the wheel and his legs straightened to push the pedal down to the floor. Miriam was trying to control the battlefield, but like any battle it was too chaotic to handle. Unlike chess, the pieces themselves move independently of their master, and would only occasionally yield to its demands.
Manny lent a hand to Dirk and loaded the new ammunition belt in the machine-gun. The group of four had to weigh their options, but before all they had to place some suppressive fire on the truck before those bad shots on the back would land a lucky hit on them. Mitchel picked up his rifle and aimed at the truck, successfully hitting one of the McNeil family members, one in his late 40s holding a sub-machinegun. Henry then turned the wheel to the left and left 4th avenue before Mitchel would kill him too. The truck drove a few hundred meters forward before stopping next to what looked like a populated house.
"We can't fucking leave Uncle Vance!", Henry's younger brother shouted at him as the truck stopped. He was still holding his uncle in his arms and hoping that they could save him. The greenish looking teenager opened the truck door and hopped out.
"Relax, twerp. I know the guy here...", the greenish teenager in a set of fancy clothes began to move forward in a strange fashion. His back slumped forward and his knees bent completely, he hopped forward until he reached the front door and knocked on it.
"Open up, it's McNeil!", Henry shouted out loud. The sound of the key shaking inside the hole could be heard, but the door was quickly opened and the frog man looked up to see a young woman standing in the entrance. Sarah was at her early twenties and Henry seemed to approve of her beautiful appearance, but she didn't think the same of him. He pushed her aside and looked inside.
"Doc!", Henry hopped inside of the house and looked around. He recognized many of the city's previous inhabitants sitting in the hall or peering through doors to see who it was that entered their home. It was Dr. Caldwell's clinic; he together with a nurse and a veterinarian had been running this place for the last few months and looking after some of the city's injured and ill. The other occupants would try and feed the rest, while almost a third proved to be utterly useless. The McNeil family didn't mind the little group's operations; in fact it allowed them to continue under their watchful eye. Henry turned around and shouted out to his younger brother.
"Mel, get Vance here! We got to get back and help the negro", Henry said without flinching. His younger brother knew that Henry hated their step-mother, but he was the only one in the family who would hear Henry speak to her that way and not tell the others about it. Henry saw the doctor walk down the stairs to the first floor and raised his hand in the air to greet him.
"We need you to take after Vance, he got shot by some army fucks-", Henry said enthusiastically. He looked back to the street and saw Mel struggling with Vance's bleeding body.
"Help the boy, woman!", he ordered Sarah to help his younger brother lift their uncle. The fourteen year old was still a weakling compared to Henry, and on top of that he wasn't endowed with any power.
"I will... I will get you whatever you need, we have supplies. You want protection?", Henry stared at the few others who were brave enough to keep looking at the meeting from the various doors leading to the first floor's rooms. "You need food?", Henry forced a smile on his face and extended his hand forward. He looked back and saw the young woman helping Mel with carrying Vance inside.
"Deal?", Henry asked the Doc eagerly with his hand extended to meet his in a handshake.
Back at Saint Mary's general hospital, Palm Bay's few and precious surgeons and doctors worked under the watchful eye of the McNeil family, or so they thought. With her attention directed at the battlefield and all of the family's able members ready to defend their estates, the hospital remained unattended, though those inside were oblivious to what was happening two kilometers away. The sound of explosions was dull and barely aroused any suspicious in the full cast of the city's finest.
Louie was working on helping a young child with his ankle when one of his "friends" came into the room. It was a stuffed hospital room with six beds in it where there should have only been two, but the people of the city couldn't be too picky about their health nowadays. He was a rather young and enthusiastic boy in his late teenage years, a Haitian immigrant who had lost his mother in the early riots after the collapse.
"Sir!... sir", he spoke anxiously, "The McNeil family... they're losing their throne!". The boy smiled and pushed himself closer to Louie . He held his arm and tried to tear him away from his patient.
"They're fighting the army... We can kill whoever is left, and you can be King, and Loa will be pleased!", the boy spoke in such enthusiasm that he didn't notice all of the others in the room heard him as well. Another patient sat on a hospital bed and tried to scratch his skin, but nothing seemed to be able to penetrate himself. Rico sat on the bed and pulled his knees back, pressing them against his chest with his arms. The man had been trying to figure out what went wrong with him for the past few days, and the doctors in the hospital didn't care at all for a man who seemed neither injured nor hurt in any way. Hearing of the ongoing battle in the other side of the city, Rico seemed to be intrigued. Who was this Loa they were talking about, and why did the doctor had a special envoy dispatched for him?
Back at the city hall, the elderly woman sat at her throne and tried to concentrate on the battlefield. She was surprised she couldn't spot the mad man in colorful attire who was shot by one of the army men, but she was pleased with his early termination. Another pest she won't have to deal with. The rest of the McNeil family was in city hall, all worrying about the fate of their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers. The few men who were told to stay indoors and protect the others in case of the front lines falling were sitting in the commons entrance and playing cards on an empty wooden crate. Danny, the largest of the five, seemed to be winning with his hand against his three cousins and father. Their guns laid on the side of the entrance, but they didn't worry much about using them. They were sure nobody would dare to show himself in front of the city hall.
"Hey, he can see our cards!", one of Dan's cousins spoke up as he eyed Flinch who stood nearby and stared forward. Dan leaned to his right and smacked his cousins' neck for being an imbecile. Dan was huge, even for the McNeil family, and any strike from him was bound to upset most people. He was careful not to use his power on the young boy, or else his brains would have already been splattered on the marble stairs at the entrance.
"He's blind, asshole!", Dan shouted at his cousin. He opened his hand and placed his cards down with a smirk on his face.
"It's a straight flush. I win!", Dan announced triumphantly. His father and two cousins all threw their cards on the wooden crate at the same time and started cursing the lucky Dan. The third cousin, the one who just recently made a fool out of himself threw his cards on the crate with a smirk on his face.
"Four Kings! I win!", he announced and quickly threw his hands at the assortment of power bars and bandages in the middle of the wooden crate, but before he could scoop up his loot Dan stopped his left hand in its place. He grunted and looked up towards his uncle.
"Flint, tell this ass I won the pot, a flush beats four kings!", Dan shouted at the blind man. Flint shook his head in disappointment, opened his mouth and clicked his tongue, which sent a small shockwave through the area and shocked his five family members.
"Get it inside, you morons. People are gathering, riling up... I can see them coming this way. I can't do jack or I'll make you all deaf.", Flint spoke in a monotone, cold tone. The old man could see through the city like a bat, and the gathering crowd which was about to hit the city hall wasn't a good thing to look forward too.
On the other side of Main Street, the city's once downtrodden prepare themselves to storm the McNeil palace - one which was once city hall - and kill those bastards. With their forces drawn to the incoming military, the people knew they could kill the few remaining guards and overthrow the dictators.
Among those who took arms was Daryl who already had a few of his identical twins roaming the city and Gavin who knew he had to keep a low profile or the locals would turn on him too. Both of them remained oblivious to each other as a second generation supers, but they were all a part of a large crowd of over three hundred who had gathered together, holding blunt objects, knives and rocks to overthrow their tyrants.
Over at the fancier side of town where the McNeil women would shop and spend their time, the city's 5th street was still filled with shops, restaurants and hair saloons that operated under the grace of the McNeil family. They were all supplied and guarded by the family, so that they may preserve some sense of the old world in their life. That area, no without the constant watchful eyes of the McNeil family had quickly turned into a popular site for looters. Having scavenged all of the city's abandoned residential areas and industrial sites, the unprotected gem of the city was just too much for the poor bastards of the city to overlook. Among the looters was an enthusiastic Charles who seemed to be itching to abuse his power and get his hands on whatever he desired. Lenneth participated in the barbaric ritual of stripping the whole street down and tearing away anything with value, though she knew that today she will be able to stand up to any that would try to stop her.
A couple of kilometers away from the city's center, Ottis was about to enjoy some private time with his dear wife when the sound of two explosions echoing in the distance almost made him cook his wife's thigh. The incident was then followed by a series of screams from his wife, the last of which inquired as to what the hell the explosions were about.