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Interlude Thirtytwo point One, The Bank Job

The grapevine was buzzing with vague hints that something big was going down. Flex was particularly interested since the name "The Net" had come up once or twice. He wasn't able to get too much specific data but decided that it was probably a bank job and that someone had brought in outside talent, probably superpowered, to help. He finally got a date, and after some consideration came up with what he thought was the most likely target - James River Savings Bank.

Flex approached the bank and circled it once or twice. Satisfied that he was in time, he selected a building across the street, about the same height as the bank, as the best spot for a stakeout. He headed to the roof, climbing up the side of the wall using his flexible suction.

On the top, he prepared to settle in, then noticed something odd. A camera had been placed so that it aimed at the front of the bank. It was obviously a new addition, and even more obviously was temporary as it was not mounted to the building, just placed on a tripod.

"Odd" Flex thought to himself as he looked at the camera wondering what its purpose might be. "I wonder who else is taking an interest in tonight's fun. Or are they connected in some way?" Flex thought as he moved closer being careful not to disturb the instrument.

He examined it carefully looking for anything obvious that might give him a clue, as to what the owner intended to do with it. He also then took time to re-examine were his perch. "I wonder if I am alone?" Flex couldn't help thinking.

He quickly realised that it was active, and so was careful not to step in front of the lens. It was clearly set up to function as a wireless remote, and was in a fixed position covering the front of the bank. He saw nothing else unusual on the roof. The only points of access were a fire escape and the door down into the building.

"I not a tech geek like Defender," Flex thought to himself as he could see the camera was clearly on. "So I have no idea what this is here for. But someone is clearly as interested in tonight's raid as I am. which tells me my sources were spot on and that I may have company. Well who ever you are, you've clearly spied out the best seats in the house. So lets see what happens, when the curtain goes up."

	*		*		*		*
It was cold that night on the roof. Spartan was used to stake-outs and the suit was insulated a little from the cold, but being so high up meant that every little breeze turned into a full gale force wind.

Spartan shivered, cursing under his breath. His Comm-Link crackled in his earpiece. "Geo to Spartan, Are you okay there?" The Suit had body sensors built into it so a controller could monitor Heart Rate, Pulse and even Location. "The suit's sensors show your body core temperature is dropping steadily. Drink some of that coffee, we need to warm you up a little."

"No Shit, Sherlock," Spartan muttered.

"What was that, Spartan? Can you repeat last message?" came back from the Prof.

"I said 'No worries, Doc,'" Marty lied, smiling to himself.

Spartan had looked over the site, and picked a building across the street that was about the same height as the bank as the best spot for a stakeout. He placed a remote camera in position so the Professor could keep tabs on his activity, then raced down the fire escape and around the back of the bank to place another camera before returning to his stakeout.

As he started back up the fire-escape, he paused. He saw a flicker of movement on the roof, but when he looked more closely, it was gone. To the average person it would be shrugged off as nothing, but with years of police training behind him, Spartan knew something was up. Turning on the mini cam built into the top of the crest of his helmet, so the Prof can could view what he did, Spartan drew his Vib-Gun and slowly and carefully walked to where the movement came from as quietly as his training allowed

		*		*		*		*
Flex heard a voice and spun around. He saw standing at the top of the fire escape a figure in what looked like an exoskeleton point what was obviously a gun at him.

"Err, ermmmmmm! Nice to know you admire good workmanship!" said the figure.

"Lovely to look at, Lovely to Hold, But if you break it, consider it SOLD! So be a good chap and put in back... please," he said with a smile.

"I don't know why you're here, my friend, but I don't think you're up there taking a stroll. Explain, and introduce yourself. Before you say anything, I asked first, politely!" he said, taking careful aim.

Flex wondered who the armoured man was, as he considered his options. Carefully he moved to a standing position and raised his hands sky wards. As he did this he sent out a tentacle like an appendage from his foot. "Ever since I combined with some alien goo ... I have become a toy maker's dream. You can bend me! Shake me! But you can't break me!" Flex said, as he allowed his elongated foot to slide slowly toward the armoured figure's feet. "My name is Flex. I'm one of the good guys. Now is this where things get ugly, or do we make polite people?" As Flex talked slowly he hope his captor was distracted enough not to notice his ploy. He could see that his tentacled foot had almost wrapped itself around the man's feet, so he could yank him to the floor and hopefully wrestle the gun away.

Recognising the the name, Spartan smiled and holstered his Vib-Gun. "Greetings to you, Flex. I'm a little new to this, so I'm thankful for the help. I'm Spartan," said the new hero, leaning against the wall.

"I heard that there was going to be trouble tonight, so I decided this was as good a time to take up the mask as any," Spartan smiled. "I might even get a few lines in the paper." He held his hands up like he was holding a banner "'New Hero in Town, Helps Flex capture gang. Spartan and Flex clear up crime.'"

He halted and seemed to be listening to a earpiece, "Yea, OK Prof." He turned to Flex, "The suit's designer's asking me to get on with it, so what have you heard is going down tonight? My information is limited to say the least."

"Hmm, Spartan - I've read a line or two about you. Nice work. As to what I am doing here. Well we seem to keep tabs by the same sources of information. What you heard, is what I've heard as well. But with one sources told me that the organisation behind this hit, is a group called the Net. I must confess they're new to me. But I am here for the same reason." Flex stopped his reminiscing as he turned toward Spartan.

"So have you any more that you can add, to our merry mix?" he said taking a seat and glancing back over his shoulder at the still silent bank below.

Spartan turned to Flex, "Look I'm new to this, I'm happy to follow your lead, if it kicks off, what are you expecting? What have you heard?"

"Well I am not all that experienced myself. Its not like the job comes with a manuel. But in any case I am sure we can show each other a trick or two. Anyway the buzz was that some job was going down. I guessed that this place was what they had in mind. The job was creating a stir, because there's talk of 'the Net' bringing in some Super powered muscle. I really don't know too much else."

Flex continued to talk, whilst making sure the did not miss any action below. "Once I figured the most likely location, i decided to sweep past. You know check security. Back exits. And where the local Starbucks was, in case I needed one."

Flex looked again at the mini camara and then back to Spartan. "This is a pretty neat set up. The prof your talking to...I take it he isn't some sort of imaginary friend? He rigged the suit and this handy gizmo?

Spartan smiled, "No, I'm not mad and I can assure you I'm talking to someone. I won't name him, if you don't mind, at the moment. But we can call him 'The Prof' for the time being.

"Sure, no worries," Flex replied with a warm understanding smile on his face. Even Super Heroes needed to protect their identities. Flex knew this well. It still gave him a kick to think what his old 'friends' might think, if they knew what he had become.

He's the one who created the Gun and the Suit for me, it was his idea to set up these mini cams to cover the other side of the building, just in case. They are only monitors. He is, shall we say, back in my HQ watching the images for the two cameras as well as the one built in the crest of my Helmet - I've had to many criminals get off due to lack of evidence in the past," Spartan said reflectively.

"He does good work. If a little lite on the frills side of things. So listen I don't know what your plan was, but I was figuring i'd keep looking out from up here. Then when I got too cold, I'd do a quick circuit to scope around back. What do you think?" Flex said as he turned back from another quick look below.

"Sounds good to me, Flex. Lead on McDuff!" Setting the camera back in its position, Spartan talked into his Comm-link, "Prof, keep an eye on the monitors up here in case we miss anything."

Turning back to Flex, he asked, "Do you have a Comm-link on you? If so what setting is it on so we can communicate if we split up?"

"Hmm no I am strictly low tech. Smoke signals don't work that well at maybe we'd better stick together."

From his position near the camera, Flex saw something that caught his attention near the front of the bank. Two people, wearing long jackets, had paused in front of the bank and were regarding it with interest.

As he spotted the men below him, Flex motioned with his hand for Spartan to come closer. "Stay low" He whispered as Spartan crouched and moved toward the ledge. "I don't know, but I gotta feeling that something is about to happen. We'll looks like we won't have to keep each other awake, with amusing fire side stories after all. I suggest we let them make the first move. That ok with you?"

Flex wondered what was going to happen? Would this be a case of simple misunderstanding, or would there be more to these two strangers interest in the bank. All he could do was wait...

"Well, here goes!" Marty said in his Comm-link to the Prof, leaping down to land as close to Flex as Possible.

Once landed, he pulled his Vibro-Gun from its holster and pointed it at the suspect. "Freeze! This is the Port Alexander Pol ... HEROES. Hands in the air ... NOW!"

Marty was so hyped, he almost thought he was back on the beat. He almost said he was a policeman, "D'oh, you idiot!" he said to himself.

Flex was impressed with the way that Spartan was handling himself since he was still new to all this. "I can't claim to have ever been as confident," he thought to himself as he landed near the man outside the bank.

"OK, you heard him...what's the story?" Flex said, trying to sound authoritative.

The figure spun around, and they saw it was a woman. She was lithe and delicate, almost petite. Her uniform, they saw, was red. She looked at them with something like frustration. "Great," she said. "Protectors wannabes." She leapt gracefully into the air and kept rising.

"Great a smart-mouth babe," Flex said as he saw the women rise. He didn't hesitate to allow his body to grow suddenly giving him the reach he needed to strike at the women. "Sorry about this, but I'm not sure you count as a lady in this instance," Flex said as he aimed his punch at her. She juked to one side and Flex slammed a fist into the side of the bank, bruising his knuckles.

"Well lady ,I take it you are either deaf or one of the Bad Guys, or Girls," said Spartan. Firing his gun at her, he added, "Well, I did warn ya!" Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, went the Vibro gun, and his target danced on the edge of the vibratory beam.

Spartan fired again. The blast shredded the remains of the coat leaving the woman clad only in a red and orange uniform with a stylized "F" logo.

Flex reached out to grab the woman, getting one hand on her easily. But failing to get a grip on her with the second as she squirmed wildly. Flex heard a faint hum, then realized with a shock that he was lifting off the ground. The woman was floating straight up and taking him with her.

"What the hell?" Spartan heard from behind him. He spun to see the other person materializing some eight or nine meters away. "Great, just great," said the man raising his hands and sending a blast of red sparkling energy at Spartan.

Police training kicked in as the new villian pointed at Spartan. Twisting his body as much as he could, Spartan tried to dodge the blast. "Flex," he shouted, "The girl's all yours. This one's mine!" He rolled partly clear of the blast, and faced another one roaring toward him.

Flex grabbed tighter, the last thing he needed was to fall from this height, although the nearby rooftops did not seem so far away. "No!" Flex thought to himself, "Must hold on. If I let go then my lead to the Net goes as well. Time to get a better hold," Flex thought as he swung his arm around to grapple the woman.

"Let go," she cried, kicking at him in an attempt to dislodge him.

The flying female struggled and kicked at Flex. As she scored a hit, Flex allowed his body to partially destabilise. Her foot found its mark but sank partially into his face, minimising the concussive force of the blow. Moving as best he could Flex brought himself around and behind the still flying female. Securing his position, Flex began to apply pressure to her, as he allowed his arms to constrict. "Give it up, my partner has your friend. And you are not going anywhere, with me stuck to you like this," Flex said, a snap of authority in his clipped tone of voice.

The woman nearly collapsed in Flex'es grasp. "Fine," she gasped. "I'll land."

Spartan was unable to avoid the crackling red energy blast and felt it wash over him, setting him back on his heels.

His foe fired once more. Spartan rolled clear and continued rolling until he was just in front of the man.

Flex saw that he had the female and he was out of immediate danger, but he was not so sure about Spartan. "Fly down to where your friend is. But do not land," Flex said sharply. He didn't like the way this was going and he did not fancy taking on 'the flame fisted guy' alone, if Spartan fell.

The woman obligingly began drop lower. Her partner saw enemies closing in on both sides. "Sorry Freebird," he called. "Your contract doesn't call for me to get captured." With a sparkly glow, he vanished.

"Now you see him. Now you don't. Neat trick!" Flex still found some super powers harder to get used to, than others. "Lets land, shall we?" Flex said to Freebird. As they lowered to the ground, he called over to Spartan. "Good work. But since we've lost one, lets make sure this one does not get away as well. If she much as blinks, I want you to shoot. You understand?" Flex winked broadly, not knowing if his new found friend would take him seriously or not. Either way, they'd lost one lead tonight and he wasn't about to loose another.

Once on the ground Flex let go of Freebird with one hand, whilst still holding tightly with the other. Reaching into his back belt pack, Flex pulled out his mobile and placed a call through to Port Alexanders finest.

"Whilst we wait for the police arrive, why don't you make like a song bird and sing for us. Who are you working for? Come on, you've nothing to loose. If you help us, it might go well for you with the police."

"I might as well," she said. "I'm not working for anyone. I'm the employer, not the employee."

Flex turned to Spartan and asked, "Do you or your sponsor have another way of getting to the truth?"

"Whoa," Flex suddenly said as he realised what Freebird had just said. "You're the employer! Well, keep going. Don't leave anything out." The turning to Spartan again Flex asked, "Do you have any means of recording this?"

"All ready filming, Matey!" Spartan said smiling, "Police will be here soon, Lady, so you better talk quickly!"

Flex smiled beneath his mask. He liked Spartan's style and character. A thought began to take hold of Flex's imagination. But he brought his attention back to Freebird. "Wouldn't do to let my mind wander now," he thought.

"I think I'll wait for the police and a lawyer, thanks very much," said Freebird.

Short of ideas Flex let out a exasperated breath of air, "Have it your way lady."

He nodded to Spartan, "Well unless you have any bright ideas, this lady is done singing. What say you we grab a coffee after this. I'd like to take the opportunity to find out more about you. Your game plan, if you know what I mean." Flex was coy, it wouldn't do to assume to much. Still the opportunity to find out more might eventually lead him to finding a favourable partner. "Besides the guy had guts and high tech gadgets. What more needed to be said," Flex thought whimsically.

"Flex, my friend, can you go and check what that other bloke was doing? I'll watch this Non-Singing Canary." When Flex walked a few feet away, Spartan held on to Freebird's wrist by just the handcuff.

Whispering, he said quietly, "Lady, this isnt the 'good cop, bad cop routine.'" Using his heightened strength, Spartan applied pressure on her wrist with his finger and thumb "Oh! Is that handcuff too tight for you?" he said so Flex could hear. Whispering again, he continued, "Lady, there's a new Hero in town, and I don't play by the same rules as the guys you're used to fighting! The name's SPARTAN. Spread the Word!"

Smiling he turned to Flex, "Anything over there?"

When the police arrived to take custody, Spartan and Flex walked off togehter.

A little later, after having freaked out the local Starbucks Serving attendent, Flex and Spartan settled on a nearby rooftop. Flex turned to Spartan and said, "You did some good work tonight. I don't work the solo shift by choice. I am not making a formal proposal..." Flex was obviously struggling to say something.

He took a deep breath then attempted to start again. "Look nothing formal, but what say we team up and patrol together. Lets see how we like working with each other. If we don't end up beating the living daylights out of each other, we can take it from there. What do you think?" "There he'd said it now he could relax, since he'd said all he wanted to," Flex thought as he waited for Spartan to reply.

"Hey, sounds good to me mate, but I have to add something. I used to be a policeman ..." using the past tense cut him deeply, but he had to try to keep his secret ID a little longer. " ... I put on this suit to ensure that I would do all I can to defend the weak and the innocent. Too many times, I saw the Fat Cat Lawyers getting murders and rapist off because of a 'Technicality' or worse still knowing a corrupt cop tipped off the gang to a stake out, for money. We have to make a difference, We have to care. You might not like my tactics but I will back you up to the hilt." Spartan hung his head into his coffee cup.

Flex nodded as he listened.

"My last partner died in the line of duty, I didn't think I'd get another so soon, but I'll be proud to join you on patrol, if we arrange to meet up here tomorrow I'll get the Prof to rustle up a commlink for you so we can contact each other if needed."

"Sorry to hear about your partner. I don't plan on joining him. As for gadgets, that was going to be my next choice of name - except I'm useless at building gadgets," Flex said in a lighter tone of voice.

"I wont take off my helmet yet, Partner. But my name is Marty!" said Spartan.

He offered his hand to his new found friend. And added jokingly, "I bet you have no worries doing funny Masonic handshakes with those stretchy fingers."

"I appreciate your honesty, Marty. For similar but different reasons I'm masked as well. I too have a past as well, some of it I'm not that proud of. It took a life changing set of circumstances to make me re-evaluate where i was going. Thankfully I think I made the right choice. I'm just putting my life back together again, this part of it is easy compared the rest. So for the moment lets stick with things as they are. I'm really a shy guy under all this." Flex again smiled, allowing his mask to mimic the shape of his mouth so that Spartan could see his real smile.

"Can you stretch every part of your body?" Spartan asked with a grin, "If so, can you show me how? I bet your a wow with the ladies!"

Flex turned away. Though he hadn't thought much of it at the time, his Mum's influence on him and his early years at church made him blush at Spartan's comment. Unbidden a certain young lady came to mind who worked helping out on the weekends at the Wander-No-More house. "Hmm maybe I should ask...Naaa she wouldn't go for someone like me!" Flex pulled himself back to the moment.

"OK tomorrow night same time, same place - Laters...," Flex said, as turning to leave he waved then leapt off the building across the street. Dumping his coffee in a nearby bin Flex before returning home via the roof tops of Port Alexander.

Spartan smiled, and took a long cigar and lighter from a pouch on his thigh. He lit it and inhaled deeply, "Well Prof, What do you think of that?" He blew a big cloud of smoke. Up here while no one was looking Marty could indulge in his one true vice. He would never smoke in public - being a "Role Model" for children, he thought it very important to give them the right standards to live by, but up here, away from paparazzi and on-lookers he could relax.

"Yup, Prof! This was a good night," he said collecting the two Vid-Cams and storing them in their belt pouch by the small of his back.

Putting out the cigar stub, he smiled as he headed back to base and a well deserved sleep.

Last Updated 20 March 2003