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1194Re: Roll Call: Hartley Rathaway

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  • ddswanson
    May 18, 2013
      Hartley has usually been ambivalent towards the law, so his wavering isn't surprising. Looking forward to the next chapter.

      --- In Earth3Remembered@yahoogroups.com, "MikelN" <michael@...> wrote:
      >
      > [I started this chapter, then realised I had already told this story elsewhere ... apologies to the two people who may have already read some of the recycled passages!]
      >
      > Hartley Rathaway walked through the doors of The Vulgarian, Central City's most well-known gay bar. The crowd was mostly male, with the occasional lesbian couple mixed in, and the inevitable straight gawkers. The music for the evening seemed to be mellow hits from the 60s. He recognised the tune currently playing as from the rock musicians known as The Manson Family, which given the way their career ended in the violent slaughter of the band, put him in a melancholy mood.
      >
      > He wouldn't have come here normally; the owner of the bar, Guy Gardner, was suspected to have ties to the Crime Syndicate. But when he received an anonymous tip suggesting information could be had concerning Johnny Quick's whereabouts, he knew he had to pay a visit.
      >
      > His eyes widened when he saw a familiar face. Frostbite was cute, almost pixie-ish, with silver hair. She was sitting alone at the bar, and he walked over. "Tiffany?" He addressed her using the stage name she had adopted, having abandoned her original Norwegian name when she entered the life of the stage … such as it was.
      >
      > She looked up from her drink, "Hartley," she mumbled, her voice showing her slight Norwegian accent. "Surprised to see you here."
      >
      > "Surprised by that, myself." He ordered a beer, and joined her. "What's going on?"
      >
      > She shrugged. "I'm just … missing her, that's all."
      >
      > He resisted the first words which sprang to his lips. He knew the Brazilian femme fatale, Fiero, had been slain by her lover Frostbite at the order of gang leader Max Lord. If the woman before him had regrets about the decisions she made, she only had herself to blame. Still, he could see the devastated loneliness in her face and his heart went out in spite of his better judgement. He knew as well the Central City gay community was relatively small, enough that he recognised at least by sight more than half of the people in The Vulgarian. That fact alone compelled him to at least lend her a sympathetic ear, despite his moral qualms. "I know it must be very lonely," he said quietly.
      >
      > Suspicion vied with emotional need across her face. "I figured you'd be glad … one less of our type around."
      >
      > "Any man's death diminishes me," he said, "or any woman's. I know you have to … follow orders."
      >
      > She nodded, and emptied her bottle of beer, indicating a request for another one from the bartender who brought over Hartley's order. "I'm a good soldier," she said and lowered her voice to a near whisper, "but sometimes I wish she and I had gone into a different line of work, you know?"
      >
      > "I'm working for DrewCorps now," he said, "and we could use someone with your skills."
      >
      > "My skills?" She snorted, "I'm a stripper and an assassin. The Power Posse makes use of skills like that. What would DrewCorps have me do, pop out of ice cream cakes for CEOs on their birthdays?"
      >
      > He sighed. "Someone with your contacts would always be useful, Tiffany."
      >
      > "You're saying you want me to be a snitch? Oh, yes, that would do wonders for my life expectancy. You came here fishing for something, didn't you? Why don't you tell me all about it, and I'll see if it interests me."
      >
      > His voice lowered further. "I'm looking for an avenue to Johnny Quick."
      >
      > "That's what I guessed, really." She smiled calmly. "DrewCorps really expect to take down a member of the Syndicate, using a gallery of suped-up cops? We're all onto you, you know. I thought I might build some street cred by challenging you … and Johnny even said he'd speak to the Syndicate about membership for me if I did. The real Syndicate too, not the fake one that Max organised with Owlman."
      >
      > He noted that one of her hands, held at her side, had started to turn blue, almost crystalline. He reacted swiftly, bringing his pipes to his lips just as a miniature glacier spread across the table towards him. He delivered a sonic blast which shattered the block of ice. She gestured, razor-sharp ice shards hurtling towards him as he changed the frequency to dissolve them into a flurry of powder. He was preparing the shift the frequency again, intending to play a melody which would subject her to his will, when his view was interrupted by a massive wall of glowing yellow energy in the shape of a giant hand. The hand wrapped around him, squeezing him breathless, until his view transitioned from yellow to black.
      >
      > <hr>
      >
      > He awoke to see, seated before him, a smiling, handsome man with luxuriant red hair. The man smiled engagingly. "Hartley Rathaway," the man said as he sipped a hot drink, steam from which swirled aromatically around his face, "finally awake. I must have squeezed you quite hard. I do apologise. Tea?" His voice had a lilting, slightly effeminate quality.
      >
      > Rathaway snarled, "Gardner." He tugged at his bonds, spying his pipes hanging out of reach from a nearby wall. "What do you want with me?"
      >
      > Gardner sipped his tea again. "I thought we should have a little chat." His eyes glittered.
      >
      > Rathaway narrowed his eyes. "A chat ... very well." Let the man rattle on and expose his plan, he thought to himself. They always do. Sooner or later he'll make a mistake and I'll escape, and I'll be in all the better position to foil him … and that bitch Tiffany.
      >
      > "Frostbite and I have been close for a while … " Gardner looked thoughtful for a moment, as if reminiscing, "ever since Power Ring gifted me with one of these yellow energy-producing rings he stole from the Scavengers of Qward. That's why she called me when Johnny Quick contacted her … because it meant I was able to make use of my plan to abscond with you."
      >
      > Rathaway blinked. "Your plan? You're intending to ... what, ransom me? Use me as a ploy to ambush Drew Drowden?"
      >
      > Gardner appeared amused at his evident confusion. "No ... no ... nothing like that at all." He walked over to him, and stroked his cheek. "I want you to join me."
      >
      > Rathaway's mouth fell open. "Join you? In what?"
      >
      > "In a life of crime, of course," Gardner added simply. "You skills paired with mine ... we could easily run Central City on our own!"
      >
      > "You're crazy," Rathaway said, wondering in what sort of insane clichéd scenario he'd found himself.
      >
      > "Oh, I know all about you." Gardner sipped his tea and smiled. "Do you know they call you 'the pied piper' behind your back, in the clubs? You have quite a reputation. I wonder what your cop friends would think if they knew about it."
      >
      > Rathaway snarled again, "Your plan is to blackmail me. I knew you went pretty low, Gardner, but 'outing' a brother is not going to impress me."
      >
      > "No … not really. I said that wasn't my plan, and I meant it. I'm not going to blackmail you. I'm trying to make you see how you're living a lie."
      >
      > "You're one to talk, given the line of work you're in," Rathaway said, "lying is the least of what you've done."
      >
      > "I know what thoughts are running through your head," Gardner said, "that I found my 'way' ... if that's what you call it ... in a life of crime, while you found yours fighting for justice."
      >
      > "So now you're mocking me," Rathaway said.
      >
      > "Not hardly. I've skirted that line pretty closely, myself … I don't always see eye-to-eye with the other members of the Posse, such as the time I helped a stranded alien escape from a monster named Arcane … a lot of them were peeved at me for it." Gardner shrugged, then a look of fleeting sadness crossed his face. "There was that time a head injury resulted in my becoming hyper-violent … I know that reputation has followed me for some time … but this is all old news."
      >
      > Rathaway's expression softened. "Why don't you sign on to DrewCorps, then? We could … "
      >
      > "You've skirted the law many times since you learned to hypnotise anyone using sonic technology, which you have been obsessed with since your teens. I know why you signed on to DrewCorps … because they offered to overlook all of that in exchange for your time in the lab."
      >
      > "Youthful indiscretions," Rathaway sneered, "is that the best you have?"
      >
      > "I've heard about the tricks you've played at the party after Pride, with a touch-tone 'phone or a grass blade whistle," Gardner smirked, "I think you've just gotten better at covering your tracks."
      >
      > Rathaway nearly blushed. "That's … "
      >
      > "You signed on to DrewCorps lab because you thought it would be fun, and they'd provide you with enough resources to indulge yourself. Oh, I completely believe you never meant to do anyone any actual harm, but you don't have the soul of a cop. You're a game player, same as I am."
      >
      > "Okay, there is some truth to that," Rathaway looked unsure, "but .. "
      >
      > "And I know that DrewCorps hasn't done a thing to challenge police culture … and we all know how anti-gay the Central City cops are. You've been keeping yourself pretty deeply closeted at the workplace ever since you signed on, haven't you? and completely withdrawn from your people, even using your powers to cover your tracks even more? don't tell me that doesn't grate on you?"
      >
      > Rathaway ground his teeth. "Yes ... it does."
      >
      > Gardner leaned down to kiss him. His lips were tender, his breath sweet. "We'll make the front page headlines, you and I .. .and DrewCorps won't know what hit them."
      >
      > "I ... I ... " Rathaway looked into his eyes. "I'll try it."
      >
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