Location: Terrorizing an eastside gang in a mattress store
Rain pattered the muddy ground. The cheers almost drowned out the pain. Joel lifted himself up out of the slurry and faced his opponent once more. He called himself Boneyard. Kinda hokey, but what did he know? The guy was pretty good, but a little too reliant on his infamous knockout blows. The problem was, Joel couldn't be knocked out.
They called him The Insomniac. He didn't care much for the name but he didn’t bother trying to fix it either. He came to these things for three reasons: keeping his ear to the ground, making money, and to make sure the suit never became a crutch.
Joel wore a pair of muddy gym shorts and equally dirty sneakers. They were surrounded by a hooping and hollering crowd of morally questionable individuals. He'd noticed at least two drug trades during this fight alone.
He ducked to dodge another hard swing from Boneyard. Joel took the opportunity to launch himself at the larger man, taking them both down to the ground. Joel recovered first and immediately began wailing on him. His knuckle wraps were stained with blood and dirt. Boneyard took the punishment for a few seconds before he threw Joel off.
The rules of the fights were simple: there were none. Pin your opponent for a full five seconds to win. There were no rounds, no breaks, no off limits.
Boneyard rounded on him, and Joel stayed down. He waited until the man was bending down to grab him to fly up and deliver a vicious uppercut to the jaw. Boneyard stumbled back, then fell over. He was out cold, face down in the mud. Joel had the decency to turn him over before waiting his five seconds. The prize money would pay rent and groceries for the next few weeks.
"What do you think, Reap? Is my brain too much mush to keep doing this? Should I quit while I'm ahead?"
"You still have plenty of time left to do some good in this world, if that's what you're asking."
"It wasn't, but thanks for the reassurance." Joel used his teeth to undo his knuckle wraps. Thunder rumbled outside, vibrating the thin metal walls of the old processing plant. "I never asked. What's it like? You know, on the other side?"
The Grimm Reaper seemed to ponder the question for a moment. "Peaceful."
Joel nodded solemnly. "That sounds nice."
"Hey Beck, if you're done talking to yourself, there's a guy here to see ya'." A greasy headed man had poked his head in the room to scrutinize the man sitting alone.
"Yeah yeah, gimme a minute," Joel stood as the man retreated. He glanced back at his friend. "You about to head out?"
The Reaper nodded. "Over a thousand souls have disembarked in just the last ten minutes. Someone needs to guide them."
Joel nodded understandingly and turned to leave.
The rundown plant was eery enough without the sleaze of Chicago's underworld lurking around. Joel suspected at least a few of them knew about his other job; his secret identity was notoriously poorly kept. His address was listed in the phone book. It was rarely a problem for him, though. Most of these goons weren't dumb enough to turn up on his own terf. If they knew Wraith, they knew his reputation. He never slept and he had no problem with putting any of them on a T-shirt.
"Heard you were one of those tights wearing types. What the hell you doin' here?" The man was missing a few teeth and had a nasty scar across his face.
"Tights don't pay bills."
"Yeah, whatever. Look, the eastside boys have been givin' us trouble. Figured it'd be a real shame if some freak showed up and clapped them all."
"Yeah." The man slipped him a piece of paper with an address on it. "Just don't come after my boys again, or I'll carve your goddamn face off."
"You could try." Joel tucked the paper away and headed out. He had his intel, now it was time to do some real work.
The storm had let up a little by the time Wraith arrived at the address. It was a mattress store; an interesting choice for a front, but the warehouse attached left plenty of room to move goods through.
Surprise entrances weren't Wraith's forte. He didn't care if they saw him coming. By the time they emptied a whole magazine on him with no results, they were too scared senseless to put up any kind of a real fight. Wraith didn't ruthlessly murder them all, which would be much to his informant's dismay. No, he only intentionally killed the really bad ones. These guys were just underlings; they still had a chance to turn their shit around. But, if they died from a brain hemorrhage because they made themselves an easy target, he wasn't going to sweat it.
He tore through the warehouse, leaving carnage in his wake. Stray teeth, broken bones, a limp body here or there. He could feel each and every round that pierced his skin, but knowing it wouldn't kill him took the sting away. Once he took the suit off again, it would be like it never happened.
Wraith scanned the room, looking over the damage for any sign of someone with some fight left. Maybe he did enjoy this a little too much. With the thugs scattered to the winds or down for the count, Wraith began going through the products to see what he was dealing with here.
The first suspicious crate he pried open was full of…what was this, medical equipment? Were the easties picking up on organ harvesting? That didn't fit their M.O.
Wraith frowned under his mask and turned to find a goon that was still conscious. A man laid on the floor with a bone protruding from his left leg. He wailed when Wraith grabbed him and drug him over.
"What is this shit?" He demanded. The man whimpered. Wraith shook him violently. "I don't have all night!"
"It's for a trade off! The boss made a deal with some new guys for it. They didn't say what it was for! I swear I don't know!"
Wraith grunted and released the sobbing man. "Do yourself a favor and research better careers in the hospital." He stalked away, leaving the destruction he'd wrought behind. There were some new players on the scene, huh? These low level thugs wouldn't know anything about them. The higher ups were smart enough to compartmentalize that info. It was time to track down their boss.