Stone Force, Book One, Chapter One.

Don’t worry, I won’t start every chapter with an introductory paragraph in italics. I just wanted to point out that this fantasy story that I’m putting out here is not drafted as much as any other work that I do. I’m certainly interested in comments, including those on grammar, style, etc. But I would only take that knowledge for future projects. I doubt that I’ll take this anywhere further than this blog. Unless, of course, there’s any producers out there that want to make this into a cartoon show, or publishers wanting to turn it into a comic book…. Action figures would be pretty cool, too….

Anyway, enjoy!

 

One could hardly tell Hill City was the setting for one of the bloodiest invasions in the island’s civil war twenty-five years later. In fact, it came to stand a symbol of peace with survivors from both sides enduring hardships and ultimately building it into the busiest metropolis of the unified island nation of Vandoscovia. Shortly after the invasion, the century-old war was brought to an end through extensive talks. The entire island was consumed by violence and death. The royal family of Vando and the parliament of Scovia were handing down a war through their generations, raising their children to hate. Very few even knew why the war was still being fought other than pride. Every member of each government saw no end to the war. Every member of each government had no desire to… everybody, that is, except for the child princess Elle of the Vando royal house, and Kanat, Scovian minister of defense.

Through secret communications that could have gotten them killed, the two managed to initiate the peace process. Negotiation started slowly but once the warring factions realized the island would be doomed if the war continued, peace was achieved in a matter of weeks.

However, while the country enjoyed its overall peace twenty-five years on, a crime wave spread across Hill City and neighboring communities. At first a robbery of a convenience store on the outskirts of the city was dismissed as small crime, with the perpetrators not initially discovered. A few similar robberies started occurring. The crimes then escalated to banks, armored vans, and muggings. Those with a substantial amount of property were afraid to walk without security. The local and national police worked on finding a solution day and night.

Then things started to change. The perpetrators attempted similar crimes but were halted by some vigilante. A few criminals were captured but could not provide an accurate description. What police did find out was that the robbers were hired hands from all sorts of walks of life from all over the island without knowledge of who their employer was. All they knew was their immediate supervisor was a German who went by the name of Het.

The German went by the full name of Het Nemmermind. He was mentally unstable, subject to unpredictable mood swings, mostly harmless, but would often render him incomprehensible to those around him. He displayed knowledge of science and technology, but because of his condition such knowledge was be useless. He was able to achieve short-term goals through a period of these mood swings, such as sometimes leading small gangs in the robberies himself. Although he often led hardened criminals, they were usually frightened into submission by his character. Physically, he was not quite as imposing. He was tall but thin and lanky with a slight slouch. His walk was quick but stunted. His arms would spasm occasionally. Always clad in black, with small black sunglasses, he may have looked stylish, but only by accident. His shaved head revealed a slight scar just above the right ear.

The stress of the vigilante that was constantly stopping his gangs’ robberies put great strain on him, making him scared of his powerful boss. He was becoming even more unstable. Nonetheless, he accompanied his group personally on their latest heist, to ensure things went smoothly. When encompassed with rage he actually could become quite a skilled, calculated fighter. If worse came to worse, he would deal with this mystery man himself.

Their latest robbery attempt was The First National Bank of Vandoscovia. The bank boasted that not only were they the most secure bank in the country, but quite possibly the whole world. At least two dozen armed guards patrolled inside and outside the bank with weapons that otherwise only the Vandoscovian military were allowed to carry. Seeing as the government’s money was invested there it was no surprise they would have access to such technology.

It was also no surprise to Het and his men, who have been watching the bank carefully for months, long before the crime spree began. Even before that, Het’s employer managed to plant a man inside the operation as one of the security guards. It was if all of the robberies were leading up to this climax. It was possible, before the unnamed vigilante interfered, this one bank heist was to be the last. Now Het’s future remained uncertain as he and his men slowly pulled up across the street from the bank’s main entrance in an old, rusty grey van. Although the people of this island nation often preferred public transportation within the city nobody seemed to notice the van or its six occupants leave it, carrying guitar cases. Hill City was known for miles for its popular culture and nightclubs, so few people noticed one more rock band walking down the street… even when all of the members were wearing odd-looking metallic glasses.

One person who did notice was Dorek Natado, the imposter amongst the security guards. Het scanned the few near the front, and made eye contact with them all. They all wore helmets, so he could not tell their distinguishing features but he knew once Dorek saw him he would receive the signal. This came as a rather conspicuous nod from the last guard on the right. As all of the front guards were watching him, this was a risky procedure. However, as they were all about to die quickly it was of no concern to him.

Of all of the military hardware the guards were equipped with, the VS-007 helmets were the most enthusiastically received. Although not very large around the head and lightweight, they offered much protection as a result of a very strong compounds. They were bullet proof at a range of ten yards, with the visors at twenty. In addition to protection the inside of each visor provided a heads-up display (HUD) with targeting and information regarding the weapons they were carrying which transmitted this information to antennae at the back of the helmet. The HUD also included information that could be transmitted to them up to 15 miles away. The wearer of the helmet also had small radio transmitters set to a frequency that out of all of the radio devices on the island, only they could be set to.

Yet these helmets could also be one’s downfall, as these guards learned. The night before the robbery, Dorek volunteered for guard duty of the equipment locker and installed a small cartridge behind the microphone in each helmet but his own as well as a chip into each helmet’s motherboard. Once activated by remote, the chips would lock the helmets, preventing the guards to remove them. Then the cartridge would emit highly concentrated deadly gas into the helmets killing the guards immediately.

As soon as Het got the nod from Dorek he removed the controller from his pocket and pressed a small trigger on the side, activating the deadly mechanisms in the helmets. To his delight, Het saw that they were all working, including the ones he planted in Dorek’s own helmet earlier that week. Dorek’s eyes widened with horror, and then rolled back as he dropped to the ground dead alongside the others.

As they walked up to the main entrance, opening their guitar cases, the man on the left of Het asked if killing Dorek was necessary.

“Of course it is,” Het said. He had a nasal voice and spoke with a strong German accent. “We had to remove suspicion from all of them. It makes it harder to trace him back to us.”

Once they were inside the bank they had removed the masks from their guitar cases. The masks quickly locked onto the metallic glasses they were wearing, hiding their faces. The main lobby was already full of activity with people crowding near the dead guards. Het and his men then pulled their submachine guns out of the guitar cases, dropping the cases to the floor.

“No one move!” Het shouted, his accent becoming thicker. Unlike the other robbers who were calmly steadying their guns at the crowd Het started shaking his uncontrollably. “This is a robbery, plain and simple! Anybody who tries anything stupid dies! All we want is all of the money in the safe!” Those who knew him would have been surprised to hear how smoothly he let out that entire speech… unless they knew about the medication his employer started providing him with.

The robbery went smoothly. Het knew ahead of time, from Dorek, that there were carts throughout the bank which could be used to take the money out to the van. By this time the driver would have backed the van up to the entrance of the bank. Stuffing the last bit of Vandoscovian dollars into their guitar cases, the men ran out of the bank. Once outside they were planning to throw everything into the van and speed away.

The van was parked right where they expected it. They opened the back door, to find the driver bound and gagged and barely conscious.

“That was rather nasty what you did to those guards,” a man’s voice said to the left. They all turned to face him. “You owe their families quite a lot.”

The man who spoke stood before them with his arms at his side and legs apart, suggesting a fighting stance. He was tall, just over six feet, and muscular. He was simply dressed, in a black tank-top, blue jeans, and black boots. His long, black hair framed a simple white mask, with the eye holes covered in dark lenses. Although Het had never seen this man’s face, he knew it to be the vigilante that previously thwarted far to many robberies.

Het, who was on the left side of the cart and closest to the man, started shaking more. “Who are you?” he said. His speech started to incorporate a slight stammer which would only get worse.

“Someone who could very much send you all to the hospital if need be. So just put down your guns and surrender. The police should be here any second.”

“Never!” Het shouted. “You three load the money into the van!” He was yelling at the men behind him, on the other side of the cart. Het motioned towards the men on his side. “You two, open fire!”

As the three behind quickly started shoving the money into the van, the rest of them, including Het, raised their guns at the vigilante. He proved to be too quick for them, and by the time Het had finished giving orders, the masked man had moved in. With one swift roundhouse kick, he knocked the guns out of their hands. As he was spinning back, one Het’s men grabbed his shoulders from behind. The masked man reach behind, grabbing his opponent’s wrists, and flung him forward. His shrieked with pain as his back hit the pavement.

The other of Het’s men in the front drew out a large serrated knife. The vigilante backed up a couple of feet, keeping light on his toes. Het laughed.

“You’re facing a man known simply as Blade,” he said. “He’s the best knife-fighter on the whole island. You don’t stand a chance!”

Blade thrust the knife towards the vigilante, who sidestepped, allowing Blade to miss. To capture his balance, Blade threw his right leg in front of him, which proved to be a mistake. With a quick sweep, the vigilante knocked Blade’s leg from under him, causing him to fall. The vigilante kicked the knife out of Blade’s hand, sending into the left thigh of the other crook, who by this point had gotten up and was rushing forward. Again he shrieked, dropping to the ground.

The vigilante picked up Blade, and punched him hard, knocking him into the now-nearly empty bin of money. The crooks on the other side looked up in surprise. It was as if they were totally engrossed with the money, ignoring the fight altogether. The vigilante ran around the cart towards them. They raised their guns, but in an astonishing display of agility, strength, and skill, he rushed right through them, knocking their guns out of their hands and senses out of their heads.

He turned towards Het, who just finished slamming the back doors shut on the van, and was now running to the driver’s seat. The vigilante ran towards the passenger side, but as he opened the door he was just too late. Despite the run-down appearance of the van Het was able to start it up quickly and speed off. The vigilante was left with a group of moaning bank robbers.

By this point the police were turning onto the block. The vigilante turned and ran down the alley on the other side of the bank. Out of the two cars came four officers; three stayed with the criminals, while one ran off for the vigilante. As soon as he turned the corner, however, the man was gone. The alley was not very long, leading to the next block. The officer ran to the other side in desperation, but saw nothing but one of the unfortunate security guards who had been watching the back of the back up to his untimely death.

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