This story takes place in the Angel Falls setting
Original line art and colors by
Detective Angie Stewart is property of
and appears with his permission.
Constrictor smiled as she counted the stack of bills the police woman had handed her. Ever since Ultrawoman had orchestrated the mass breakout from the Tartarus Prison complex, the bounty hunter had been busy tracking down the escapees. So far it had proved rewarding but challenging. the bounty hunter had brought in three of the wanted super-criminals. The bounties she had collected had paid for the recent repairs to her battle suit and several months of living expenses. if she could bring in a few more of the escaped super-villains, this would end up being a very profitable year for her. "I might even have to send Ultra-skank a thank-you note," she thought to herself sardonically.
"Don't look so happy, bounty hunter. Angel Falls PD will have any remaining fugitives in custody soon enough. Your little gravy train is coming to an end!" The brunette police woman scowled as she placed two more stacks of bills on her desk. "And get your damned feet off my desk!"
Constrictor smiled as she moved her feet off the detective's desk. Detective Angie Stewart was AFPD's liaison with registered bounty hunters and private security personnel. It was apparent from the police woman's attitude that she cared very little for her current assignment. Constrictor wasn't especially surprised that the cop didn't like working with her. Constrictor's successes must be like reminders of the police department's failures to handle crime within the city by itself. "Still, given the help the department has received from superheroes and vigilantes, a little grudging respect would be nice" the costumed bounty hunter thought to herself. "I don't know why you are so upset, Chief. I brought Blackheart in alive and well, just like you wanted. Well, alive at least. Look on the bright side; he can't cause you too much trouble with compound fractures in both legs, can he?"
The detective grunted as she turned around and pulled the wanted poster for Keiren Blackheart off the wall behind her. The super-villain, with his life draining powers had been one of the 27 criminals that had received an impromptu parole when Ultrawoman destroyed the prison complex. Constrictor had recaptured the killer and delivered him into the capable hands of the Angel Falls Police Department. For a fee of course. The bounty she had just collected had been a sizable one; a fact that no doubt rankled Detective Stewart to no small degree. As she crumpled the wanted poster and tossed it into the trash can, she sat down behind her desk and steepled her hands together. "I suppose I should be happy it was you and not your psycho partner that brought him," she said to Constrictor. "I am surprised we haven't heard from Punisher yet. Eleven of the escapees have dead-or-alive papers on them. Seems like she would be on them like herpes on Ultrawoman. Yet so far you are the only freelancer who has brought anyone in. What gives? What is Francine up to?" probed the detective.
The amber lenses of her cowl hid the concern in Constrictor's eyes as she thought about her friend. While their motivations were different, the pair of her and Punisher had formed a successful team on several occasions. But recently Francine had grown convinced that Ultrawoman would be coming after her for refusing an offer of employment. Constrictor had tried her best to first talk her partner out of going after the alien. When that failed, she had offered to help Punisher in her mission but the vigilante steadfastly refused. The bounty hunter hoped that her friend was alright. But since she had not seen the Femme Punisher since she had delivered a experimental energy rifle to the vigilante, her concern was growing daily. Still, she knew that Francine wouldn't want the police interfering with her mission. "I don't know, Chief. I read that the airlines are having a price war. Fiji is lovely this time of year. Maybe Punisher is taking a vacation? Blue water, white sand beaches. Fruity drinks with parasols brought to you by some brawny island hunk in a too-short loin cloth; you gotta love that," Constrictor replied with a smile as she put her feet up on the detective's desk once again.
"First off, it's Detective Stewart, not Chief. You read me, bounty hunter? Now get your feet off my desk, I won't tell you again! Don't try to sell me on some lame vacation alibi either."
Constrictor snapped off a sarcastic salute. "Loud and clear, Detective. Hey, sorry if the idea of a bronzed island hunk doesn't interest you. Maybe there are some hula dancers that swing your way. Not my scene, but I am not judging. Nothing wrong with that. As for Punisher, all I can tell you is I have no idea where she is at." She slowly removed her feet from the irate police woman's desk. "So, we done here?"
Detective Stewart took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She opened a desk drawer and took out an electronic box and placed it on the desk. Constrictor recognized the device as a Yoyodyne XTD series jammer. The device was top of the line counter-surveillance gear used to defeat listening device. The costumed bounty hunter wondered why the detective needed such an advanced piece of anti-bugging technology in her own office. Det. Stewart pressed a couple of buttons in the machine and it hummed to life. Constrictor grimaced for a second as the device sent feedback through her cowl's audio boosters and her bionic ear implants. automatic dampers cut in automatically to deaden the shrill whine.
"I take it this conversation is off the record, Angie?" asked Constrictor.
If the police woman didn't like the use of her first name, she didn't show it. "What do you know about Nazis?" she asked.
Constrictor frowned as she remembered her recent encounter with a group of swastika-clad thugs just a month ago. "Why do you ask?" she said, not wanting to reveal too much to the detective.
"We have had several reports of groups people in Nazi style uniforms. They have been seen near several crime locations, but we don't have any witnesses or firm evidence. But there has been an upswing in White Supremist chatter online and some racial attacks that fit the usual M.O. for this type of group. We have increased patrols and started an investigation, but so far we haven't been able to develop any leads."
"I will tell you this, if you do find them, bring lots of back-up. They are well armed and well trained. They fight like soldiers, not a street gang," answered the bounty hunter.
"And just how do you know that," asked the detective.
"Let's say I had a run-in with them while I was tracking down Moon-Witch after the prison breakout. A squad of them looked like they were going to break into Apex Chemical. When I stopped to scope out the situation it turned into a nasty fire fight. my battle suit took quite a beating before they broke off and retreated."
"And why didn't you file a report?" Det. Stewart looked decidedly annoyed that this was the first she had heard about this event.
"I didn't have any papers or justification to bring them in. And I know how you insist us freelancers follow all your precious rules Stewart. I figured that Apex Chem would report the attempted theft. I am guessing from your reaction they didn't?"
"No, and that is a matter for another day. What matters now is that we have tried three times to have one of our undercovers get close to this group or gang."
"No luck so far?"
"The first two disappeared without a trace. We got a couple of reports from Officer Donovan, then..."
"And then?" asked Constrictor.
"They fished her body out of Cherub Harbor yesterday, well most of it at least.." said Det. Stewart sadly. "we checked out her reports. The locations she told about had been cleaned out. They knew we were coming."
Constrictor gestured towards the jammer on the desk. "So you suspect there might be a mole on the force, or that you are being bugged?"
The police woman nodded. "I don't like to admit it, but it seems like a definite possibility. Which brings us to you.." the cop said with a smile.
"Me. I don't think so. Call Internal Affairs or someone. I just collect a few bounties, do some protection work, stuff like that," argued Constrictor.
Detective Stewart shook her head. "We both know that is far from all you do."
Constrictor stood up. "You have a charge to make, make it. Otherwise stop wasting my time. I have bounties to collect. Someone has catch those escapees."
Detective Stewart's face grew stern. "No so fast, snake-girl. Seems you are forgetting a few details."
"Oh yeah, like what?" asked the defiant bounty hunter.
"Oh, just a little detail like that your license to operate here lists you as a bounty hunter, body guard, and private security specialist."
"Yeah, tell me something I don't know."
The police woman slide a copy of Constrictor's license across the desk. "How about that you are also listed as a Private Investigator?"
"Ok, that too. So what?"
Detective Stewart smiled as she closed her trap. "You know, we are still under a state of emergency due to the tidal wave. And during a state of emergency, the police department has the authority to use Private Investigators as auxiliary police personnel. Of course you can refuse, but that means your license will be immediately revoked. And with the powers I have under a state of emergency, I will have you declared as officially undesirable. You will be given 24 hours to leave the city and set up shop somewhere else. If you can get another license with a black mark like that on your record."
Constrictor leaned across the table to get in the police woman's face. "You sneaky bitch, you can't do that to me!"
"It's already done!" Angie smiled as she sat back down. "Now, what I propose is that you volunteer to work as a P.I. for me. I will pay your fee out of the Discretionary Fund. That way no one will know your name or what you are doing. And you report directly to me, no one else."
"It feels more like I am being volunteered!"
"Call it what you will. But I think you are my best hope for learning more about this organization. You have done well here in Angel Falls, Constrictor. Time to do your civic duty and pay some of that back. If you want to stay here in the city, that is. I have had to put up with all you super hero types and costumed nut jobs invading my city for too long now. I think it's time I got some use out of one of you."
The bounty hunter scowled as she sat back down. "This is a screw job, Chief, and you know it."
"That your official answer?" asked the detective threateningly.
Constrictor muttered a Japanese curse under her breath and shook her head. "Alright, I will volunteer. I do owe those goose-stepping skinheads some payback. But I want my fee in cash. I don't trust your security. And I don't work cheap either. You pay the same as any other client!"
"It's all about the money with you, isn't it bounty hunter?" The police woman spat out the name like it was some sort of curse.
"I'm a professional, Chief. It's why I get results where others fail. You may not like it, but you need me. Oh yeah, one more thing, I want my fee up front. That is non-negotiable!"
The detective smiled as she opened the safe behind her desk. Constrictor's demands were all predictable and she had planned accordingly. Something about these mysterious fascists gave her a very bad feeling. And Constrictor's reputation for results encouraged the detective. With any luck the mercenary operative would get to the bottom of whatever these Neo-Nazis were up to.
To be continued ?
*detail note. Observent people will spot the error in the picture. The fault is mine, not the artist. I got it wrong when I sent NeoBabylon the details. My bad, not his.*