Thanks to all my reviewers and Kdh.
"Role call, Big Purple?" the desiccated, driftwood construct called out to the large chapel hall. Everything in the great cathedral was made of beautiful white marble but it was marred by the twisted carvings of hideous beasts that hunted and killed or terrible scenes of genocide. A huge mosaic covered the entire ceiling, depicting the triumphs of the Black Prince which included but was not limited to; the enslavement of the Tatonkans, performing the blood eagle on traitorous nobles, looting the golden city of the amphibious Cephalomen, and even his highness overseeing construction of the evil place. The floor was checkered with black and white tiles adorned with black skulls on every tile. One could barely tell on the black tiles.
"I am here with no second," he offered from his seat in front of the large iron table adorned with a skull motif. His companion, the court official, was confused but kept it to himself for fear of the wrath of his boss.
"I am here with two seconds," Mr. Masquerade piped up from the next seat over, going counter clockwise. Both leader of the Mr. Gang and a magical genius, Mr. Masquerade was a dangerous threat by himself without his two body guards. Flanking him on either side, Mr. Chains and Mr. Golem, were humanoids made of chains and clay, respectively, and wore similar suits. Their leader wore a fancy pin striped suit with lace at his wrists and chin that covered both his black gloves and tie respectively. He wore a strangely angular fedora atop his full-head-covering and frowning, jade mask.
"I am here with no seconds," a smooth, slightly metallic voice acknowledged. A.I. "Weld Face" Capone was the robotic leader of the A.I. Gang. They traded in high tech weaponry and computer viruses/programs. A.I. himself was a heavy duty hominid type machine with a dull grey metal outer shell, truly unremarkable except for the welding done on his left "cheek". He looked very much like an undertaker in the black suit and wide brimmed, flat-topped hat.
"I am here with one second," the deep and cavernous voice of "Calavera" Joe Relling answered. He was the undead leader of the exclusively undead, Vengeful Skulls. His skull was the only remaining part of his original body, for the rest had been replaced by the fossilized remains of an ancient giant and was only enhanced by the great boiler on his back that burned the ghosts of the damned and pumped them through the complex system of pipes in his chest cavity. The second in question was simply known as the Beast and wore ninja-like, black attire. Only his red eyes and entropic claws could be discerned from underneath his clothing.
"Captain Jack Donaldson?"
"I am here with no seconds," Captain "Gentleman" Jack Donaldson announced. He wore a fashionable black dress suit with a mandatory bow tie and top hat with specially cobbled shoes that looked freshly shined. The captain was of average build and balding and grey on top of his head. His paper white flesh contradicted with his suite. One could easily notice the vertical eye on the center of his forehead when he took off the signature top hat of the Gents and placed it on his lap.
"I'm afraid my old friend has… lost his head due to the pressure, so I was elected as our representative. Charles Ferrigno and I am here with no seconds," the sixth and final crime boss corrected. "Dog Face", as he was known due to his less than perfect appearance -his dark skinned jowls and sunken eyes-. He was the cruelest leader of the most notorious of the sects of the Uptown Rats. Ferrigno was the least imposing member of the group with bloated body that stank of not bathing, a disheveled and dirty cheap suit, dirty fingernails, yellow teeth, and an obvious comb-over with his greasy black hair. He did wear the rat tail pauldron proudly, though.
"Then let the seventh meeting of the warlords begin," the wooden caretaker of the Chapel of Bathory announced. It moved with surprising quickness for such an old and twisted looking being as it grabbed up the frightened court official. While that was happening, the top of the metal table lifted into the air to show it was filled with sharpened spikes… and a drain in the middle. "I place you in the teeth of the Black Prince!"
The driftwood creature lifted the slight man over its head and easily tossed him into the spikes. Death did not come to the small fellow but pain beyond comprehension as he hit the metal stakes. He was impaled by the stalagmite-like bottom spikes with a scream of pain as they punctured his flesh, organs and limbs. Stalactite-like spikes stabbed into him when the top of the table came back down with a sickly, wet squish and sealed the table back into a whole. "Now you may speak with the blessings of the Black Prince."
"Somebody is using hit men to turn us all against each other," A.I. started off after a few tense moments of silence.
"Thank you for stating the obvious," Captain Jack replied sarcastically.
"Watch it meat sack or I'll-… I don't believe it is any of us but another party trying to take us all down. Probably some smart ass mooks with some kind of ace in the hole," A.I. concluded while stroking his right fist.
"We simply capture one of the rogue hit men and put them to the question to find whoever hired them," Calavera Joe pointed out the simple strategy.
"Hehehe, I can certainly persuade them easily enough," Dog Face Charles interjected with a smile as greasy as the rest of him.
"That is if their employer didn't put any kind of memory destruction spells or self destructs on them," Mr. Masquerade denounced the suggestion of questioning. His two body guards shifted as he looked around.
"Doubtful, not on all of them anyway," Gentleman Jack countered the masked man, "I've hired Bill Blade more than a few times and he would never condone such a thing." Charles looks about to speak up but the three eyes man holds up a hand to stop him, "He's certainly smart enough to check for one after a meeting and that Cephaloman would be able to tell."
"This talk is pointless!" Big Purple emphasizes with one of his great fists slamming into the table. He looks around and pulls his fists back to crack his knuckles. A bit of purple ooze is left behind by his seemingly clean hands. "We should be going after the real enemy, the Gum Shoes. They're taking advantage of our situation and attacking!"
"So you lost a little prison, that's your problem fungus freak," Mr. Masquerade spat.
"How dare you! If you insult decay then you insult Mycellius Maximus and that is unforgivable!" Big Purple roared in anger. He leaped onto the table from his seat in the chair and sent it flying backward. Strange, fungal growths sprouted from his hands as he was about to attack the leader of the Mr. Gang whose body guards stepped up to face him head on. The driftwood construct interfered though and knocked both parties away from the table with strange energy fields. "Their will be no combat in the halls of the Black Prince. If you continue, stronger guardians then I will awaken."
Each and every being there could feel the tension until Big Purple finally retracted the strange fungal growths back into his body. He moved back to pick up his chair and placed it back next to the table and took his seat. Calavera Joe kept an eye socket on him and when he was done suggested this, "What if these problems are one in the same? Think about it, no collateral damage or innocent people hurt, except for a carriage, during any of the attacks."
"Maybe they just didn't want to attract the attention of the Gum Shoes?" Mr. Masquerade asked.
"I know how at least Bill Blade and Grinning Bob work and they wouldn't go down the straight and narrow for anything. Besides, I think the Gum Shoes are after most of those hit men anyway, Calavera," Gentleman Jack brushed aside the theory. "Masquerade is right."
"Ah, but it would be perfect then if the Gum Shoes took out the most dangerous hit men and us in one fell swoop," Dog Face Charles theorized.
"That makes sense, by my calculations they would lose the fewest operatives and take out as many of us as possible. They then move in and we're no longer a threat," A.I. concluded. "All of the A.I. Gang will be working on this."
"So we take out the Gum Shoes and the hit men and question as many, if any, survivors to find out who is behind this sticky wicket," Dog Face said while dry rubbing his sweaty little hands together in delight. "The Uptown Rats will fight with any in this plan."
"Either way I like it, the Vengeful Skulls are in," Calavera Joe agrees. Thoughts of adding more deadly undead to the ever growing army of those who died danced through his skull.
"I, and my servants, am in," Mr. Masquerade seconds. Schemes and plots dance around in his head at the thought of his coming triumph over good.
"The Gents would be abashed not to be a part of this," Captain Gentleman Jack adds. The thought of crushing the hated Gum Shoes made him so happy.
"We will crush them then," Big Purple gives in after a moment. His mouth forms into a snarl at the thought of working with the heathen non-believers.
"So ends the seventh meeting of the warlords in the Chapel of the Black Prince," the driftwood construct echoed hollowly.
"What news do you bring?" Boomer asked the four new arrivals fresh from the battle field, except for Grey. He wore a fresh cloak.
"He got away," Mollie told him simply.
"Teleported away with his cronies and all of the evidence," Grey added.
Boomer turned away for a moment with his hands clasped behind his back and paced for a moment. After a moment he stretched his neck from side to side and then turns back to face the two humans, the demon, and the construct. They were each reflected in his dark tinted goggle lenses as he looked from one unto the next. Soon enough though he turned back to his work table and consoled them with a simple phrase; "It's not your fault."
"Of course it's not their faults, old friend; criminals are just smart cowards with enough sense to find a way out of their rat holes," Sliver assured them. He nodded his great head and crossed his arms. "At least you took out the guards so they won't be able to cause any more trouble. Agents of the local government and some of our own took over the prison and released the innocent people that they captured for the games."
"I have a feeling that you have some bad news," Mollie guessed out of the blue.
"As you know, an unknown upstart has hired a group of our most wanted hit men to cause trouble among the crime families. We have just gotten fresh intelligence that the top mob bosses have had a meeting at an unknown location and agreed to combine their resources to take out the assassins," Boomer told them.
"Excellent! The fools are killing each other now," Hernando said joyously.
"Yeah, less work for us!" Grey joined in the good spirit of his mechanical friend and high-fived him.
"They think we're fucking involved don't they?" Chris spat moodily. The miniature celebration of Hernando and Grey halted immediately.
"Exactly. Now we're fighting a two front war," Boomer concluded.
"I'm hungry, can I pick up a cute little snack?" Bambi asked as she, Bill Blade, Grinning Bob, and Ten Gun drove to a destination known only by their sword wielding leader. The buildings, and few people out at the hour, passed at a moderate speed.
"Pretty please?" she begged with a little pout.
"You can eat when we get there," Bill told her firmly.
"Bill, Ten Gun is touching me!"
"You're touching me, fish breath!"
"Ow! Stop shoving and bumping into me, you two!"
The screech of breaks was the only warning as the three killers were slammed into the back of the front seat.
"I put you three in the back seat so you wouldn't bother me but obviously that was a mistake. Ten Gun, get up here now!" Bill ordered. He immediately turned into that filmy black oil and moved to the front seat and coagulating into the form of an elderly man in suspenders. "Alright, now be quiet."
"How come he gets to sit in the front?" Cheshire whined.
"He's inconspicuous, you would play with all the knobs and buttons, and she creeps me out," the swordsman finished. A highly awkward silence filled the car and seemed to just hang in the air.
"Only to see what was on the radio," Cheshire mutters after a few moments.
"Here we are," Bill stated as he pulled the Model Tea car up to a rather… run down, old house on south side of the dirt road. They had driven only a few miles outside of the city but the gas lights and electric bulbs were significantly dimmer through the forest of shrubs and rolling hills.
"Doesn't look like much," Bambi said disdainfully while attempting not to get dirty in the mud.
"Doesn't matter, we have a job to do," Ten Gun told her scornfully. He now looked akin to some kind of eight-armed knight.
"Let's get 'em!" Cheshire hooted enthusiastically with his Tommy guns drawn.
Thanks and remember him in the pages of history.