Dehr emerged from the grey, vine-choked, building, after re-obtaining all his weaponry. He stopped, and reached down to a small, protruding sphere on the underside of his gauntlet. He pulled on it, a long cord attached to it uncoiling from within the gauntlet. He pulled it to its full length, it locked in place, and he split the orb like a nut, to reveal both its insides to be black, and rimmed with rubber. Dehr lifted them to his nigh invisable ears and shoved them in. He pressed a few touchpad buttons and smiled to himself briefly before sliding down the railing along the stairs. He stepped out from the pillared overhang and quickly stepped back as the blazing 7:42am sun gave him a headache. He mentally activated his goggles, a dark red film lowered beneath the outside layer.
He stepped once more out into the sunlight, the fall’s weather causing him to pull his overcoat tight, his hands in his pockets. He walked briskly, head down, front dreads mostly covering his eyes. He seemed unaware, even sleeping, to the average passerby, although, due to his mild-what you could call-paranoia, he was fully aware.
He spotted a large crowd ahead, most likely for some type of market, or street performer. He scoffed,Too early for loud crowds, I don’t feel like pushing my way through it anyway, Dehr thought, somewhat annoyed. He turned sharply into an alley, and walked briskly down its length. He emerged into a seemingly dead and lifeless street. Dehr walked across, regardless of what the LED signs recommended, he didn’t check anyway. He entered another alley, on the other side, most of the path was blocked with piles of old garbage and dumpsters, typical. He walked quickly through, sliding in between two dumpsters. He came out of the alley into another street, where else? This street seemed more alive, as if people had walked or driven on it in the past decade. Dehr turned into yet another alley, but right as he entered, he felt something, perhaps his paranoia sense kicking it. He glanced briefly over his shoulder, to glimpse what he was pretty sure were two figures standing calmly on the other side of the street, like statues.
Dehr quickened his pace slightly, C’mon, relax, they’re just people, Dehr mentally corrected himself,Besides, I’m ready, just in case, I always am. Dehr stopped, looked up from the ground before his feet, to find he was surrounded by garbage, dumpsters, and brick walls. He glanced back to see the figures he saw before on the closer side of the street. They began walking swiftly into the alley, Dehr became more tense. He turned off the extra darkening lenses on his goggles, as the alley was too dark to see clearly with them , he also pressed a small button next to were the earbud’s cord came from, they popped out of his ears, rejoined, and shot back into the gauntlet with a zzzzzzzzzch. He began reaching back slowly, to the black handle of a large combat knife, strapped horizontally to the back of his waist. He found and grasped it tightly, the figures were only about twenty feet away. The two were close enough for Dehr to identify them as a small, thin hedgehog, and a medium-sized crocodile, both taller than Dehr, and they were both obviously concealing weapons, most likely firearms, under their jackets. These guys chose the wrong kid to mug, Dehr mentally joked, “Hi there,” He said calmly. Niether of the figures spoke, but both continued to close in on him. Dehr crouched into a fighting position, ready to attack, jump, run, or dodge. The two were now about five feet from him, they stopped. Dehr could tell that they were obviously going to try and hurt him, We’ll just see what happens.
The croc balled his fist and stepped forward to punch Dehr, leaning heavily into the attack. Dehr dodged aside, the crocodile stumbled by, Dehr, still in a half-crouch, made a quick slash across the crocodiles neck, diagonally. The cut was deep enough to release torrents of blood, the croc fell, clutching his throat and gurgling, to his knees. Blood flew from the knife blade, scattering flecks in a wide arc across the alley’s concrete ground. Dehr, stood, still holding the knife, in his outstretched arm, as the crocodile coughed once, launching blood from the wound, and fell limply, face-down, onto the garbage and cigarette-strewn concrete. Dehr stood fully up, holding the knife loosely at his side. The hedgehog’s eyes widened after seeing his partner fall. “Give me a reason.“ Dehr said quietly, more to himself than to the hedgehog, “Why?“ Dehr’s head jerked up, his cold stare crushing the courage of the hedgehog, his hand was already halfway into his jacket, the tips of his fingers fondling the handle of a Desert Eagle. He spun around and started sprinting away. Dehr, aware he would be outran, dashed close on the hedgehog’s heels for a few long strides before falling behind. Dehr stopped abruptly on his left foot and swing the knife in a wide arch, leaning his entire torso, right leg trailing behind. The knife spun rapidly down the alley, sighted perfectly down the center of the hedgehog’s back. As the hedgehog neared the entrance of the alley, the heavy knife zinged through the air and hissed loudly into the hedgehog’s left back, protruding a few inches out of his chest. The hedgehog slowed, stopped, and knelt, looking in agonized terror at the gleaming protrusion in his chest. He coughed twice, blood flying in multiple strands onto the alley ground, his face expressionless, although the underlying feelings of excruciating pain and terror were visible. The hedgehog fell, face-down, as the crocodile did, his face still a tortured mask of awe and suffering, a thin layer of blood spread quickly around the hedgehog’s unmoving body.
Dehr walked briskly up to the body, squatted, and wrenched the combat knife from the hedge hog’s back. He ripped a piece of the hedgehog’s undershirt, and wiped the blood from the blade, Dehr spotted a black, jagged, line arching just slightly over the hedgehog’s left shoulder. He pulled the undershirt and jacket down, to reveal a large, cartoony almost, fist tattoo. Hmmmm, that was fast, Red already knows,Dehr thought, impressed, better watch out, I guess. Dehr kicked the corpse, dropped the shirt shred, and exited the alley. He walked briskly, as he had before, without music, to a main street. He called a taxi, and paid the fair to the hangar his speeder was in.
About half an hour later, Dehr landed smoothly in the small hangar at his “base” outside the limits of Echidnaopolis. He unlocked the door, and kicked it open lightly, he pushed his dreads back off his face, and walked through the living room that Mitchell had made his laboratory. “Hey Mitch.” Dehr said, walking through the room, without looking, he knew Mitch was there, he always was.
“Briefing?” Mitch asked from a crescent moon of computer monitors.
“How’d it go?”
“What’s the new gig?”
“Red Stogen, Iron Fist.”
Mitchel pulled up info in a flash, “Big guy, literally as well as when it comes to fame, if that’s what you’d call it. Dude…” He stopped momentarily, skimming more info, “Hehe .He’s gonna snap you in half.”
“You’ve said that before…yet here I am.” Dehr turned and smiled, slightly bowing, arms outspread. “I’ve got it under control of course.” Dehr walked down the hall into his armory, turned, and stared for a moment. A long sigh of appreciation was followed by him quickly slipping his various sets of blades of the miniature category off his pants and cross-belts and replacing them into cases and racks. Big guy, big weapons…fun time. Dehr stood motionless, except the small smirk dancing about his lips. He stepped forward, and wrapped two straps around each thigh and tightened them, each bearing a pair of overlapping SHIFLETT throwing hatchets. He strapped two large, 13” combat knives on either sides of each thigh, underneath his pant legs. He also strapped on two flash-bangs as well as two hand grenades to his waist. He strapped on a few more combat knives of the same basic variety as well as a few more hatchets, a set of about twenty shuriken, and two straight-bladed wakizashi. He flipped Reipar from his back, and spun it a few times in one hand. He sat and polished the blades and handle thoroughly, then smiled to his reflection, stood, adjusted a few straps, and walked out into the lab/living room.
“Leaving.” Dehr spoke curtly without, slowing his movement.
“Bye.” Mitch said without looking up, “I’ll be-”
“Here”, Dehr finished, as he closed the door. He walked quickly across a small yard/courtyard and stepped into a small garage-like structure, flicking a switch on the way through the door. He hopped onto the speeder, his overcoat floating down momentarily behind him, and powered it up. The hum of the thrusters resonated through the walls of the hangar and through the surrounding area. The garage door was half open as Dehr blasted through, ducking beneath the door. He zipped off over the horizon, a crescent of smoke and dust swirling in his wake.