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Mockingbirds in Mexico City
Continued from Ciudad de Pestilence.

The rest of the day, Dane watched the sun glow bright through windows and felt the air grow warm. Soon the light dipped behind the building and his view was cast in shadows. Finally, the light was gone altogether and yet he continued to sit in the same place, curled over a table, obsessively concentrating on slivers of paper sprawled out before him.

At some point in the day he'd rid himself of his fine clothes and worked in not but boxers and an undershirt. His hair was scruffy from countlessly scratching his hands across his scalp. By the time the sun dawned once more, stubble prickled his neck and jaw. The delicate muscles in his hands ached and his fingertips were stained with calligraphy ink.

Yet when he finally sat up to examine his work, he was satisfied. A thousand cards were stacked before him. Each one was adorned with perfect replications of a mockingbird posed on a branch. They were all done in black and white, but the hand-drawn miniature pieces of art were as beautiful as any he had painted before. Their song filled his mind as he stretched just as real birds chirped in the trees outside his window.

He showered and dressed in a daze of sleeplessness that could not be resolved his cards were strewn across Mexico City like money tossed from the mountaintops.

Power was a useful thing for a super villain.

The floor in front of Dane's kitchenette was lined with large square tiles. Using power that flooded torrents of cold fury, he directed pulses of heat, water, and mineral around the grout until he was able to pry up the tile in one unbroken piece with a butterknife. He'd gently place the heavy slab aside and use similar powers to dig into the underlying support fiberglass tape, the mortar, then the backerboard, through the subfloor, and finally to the wooden structure of the building itself. Foamed insulation melted away like his powers were licking at cotton candy, until he formed the perfect little grave just a little bigger than the size of Mockingbird's calling cards.

Wrapped in plastic, he reverently buried his thousand cards and relaid the flooring like sod. The tile was secured back into place with wisps of heat around the grout and he stood up to admire his work. Nobody would ever find his cards until he was ready to resurrect them.

He spent the next seven days making thousands of more cards. Each stack was hidden in the floor under his tiles like a gangster's laundered money.

This was going to be his largest display. After it was over, nobody would doubt the origin of destruction. Therefore, in the interim time, he had research to do on the downtown's buildings. There were some skyscrapers that attempted to pierce the ceiling of the sky. The choice was, which one would be coming down? Which one would cause the biggest scene? And most importantly, which one would symbolize who was really responsible for the Embassy?

Dane's week was a haze of emotion. He slept, he ate, he moved, he behaved. But he was not a man. He was a carcass of useless mass roaming from task to task.

He drew ten thousand Mockingbird cards upon all varieties of paper. It'd be a little telling to have a random address in Mexico City suddenly buying up the paper upon which his epithet was enscribed. So he journeyed to farthest stores in the city to purchase his stock. Office store index cards... drugstore index cards... school supply shops. Everywhere he could think of he'd buy two or three hundred. He raised no red flags. Other than the dirty looks the locals shot him when he spoke his crisp accented English. He'd roar with power and smiled an invitation to play. Only one idiot was dumb enough to take him up on the offer.

Only when he reached the magical ten-thousand Mockingbird card mark was his mind capable of focusing on another subject. The mark for his demonstration. The building that would be the center stage for a great fireworks display.

He picked a residential condo building in the downtown Mexico City skyline. It was flanked by corporate office buildings and it was positioned in the shadow of government departments. But this building was special. Because it wasn't special at all. Who would want to demolish a building of insignificance when its neighbors were so much more symbolic?

That was the symbol, after all. And, he found out that a powerful cartel family owned property on the top floor. The very family that was rumored to have bombed the Embassy.

This should put their rumors at ease.

Midnight, Friday night, Dane left his rental home with only a black bag in hand. To the suspicious eye, it was filled with money, but despite the fall of darkness, and his apparent isolation, nobody approached. Not even a trio of young men sitting on a curb smoking what Dane assumed was some sort of drug. They watched him though. They watched him closely.

As Dane crossed the street, the three boys began to follow him. For the next block, they didn't gain any ground, but Dane wished they would. In fact, he specifically slowed his pace to force them to either do likewise or to reach him.

They caught up, spitting in the road and calling out profanities.

Dane turned, power rushed into his grasp. Their contorted, mocking faces became clear as day to him. He was in all black, including a button-down dress shirt tucked into sleek pants. He wore black dress shoes. A long black silk scarf billowed from his neck.

"Can I help you gentlemen?"
Dane asked.

One of the boys had intricate designs shaved into his black hair. The other two wore their hair in ponytails. The middle of the trio opened a switch blade and waved it at Dane as though to walk him between two buildings. The other two flanked and Dane found himself backing up. Dane checked his hair and obliged.

Once out of sight of potential security cameras, he gently placed the bag on the ground, careful not to rattle it too much, and slid his hands into his pants pockets.

Their leader flailed the knife at the bag, apparently interested in its contents. "Que hay en la bolsa?"

Dane did not know any Spanish and now was not appropriate time to retrieve his Wallet translator. Therefore his best guess was that they wanted to know what he had. Dane's gaze trailed to it but did not linger long, he kept his gaze focused on the two padres rounding him.

"Nothing of your concern friend,"
he said coolly. Power sizzled beneath his skin.

The two exchanged looks and rushed him. They grabbed his arms and shoved him against a wall, forcing out a pained grunt. His powers flickered, but he did not fight back. He was in full control of himself, and waited only for the right moment for grandest effect, of course.

With the seemingly limp and weak Dane under control, the second assailant went to help with the inspection of the bag. Dane smiled to the other as they were left alone. Beady eyes glazed high as the sky. But he apparently knew some English.

"What gringo? Think I'm pretty, gringo? Want to blow me, gringo?"
He said with sneering distaste.

Dane smiled and unleashed what was spinning in front of the man's face.

A grunt and it knocked him back a few steps and Dane pushed off the wall. With more room to work, an explosion of power flung him to the other building. He slammed into the brick and crumpled broken to the ground. The other two spat hated disbelief and ran at him. Dane slid his hands back in his pockets and re-crafted the same explosion and set it off before they could reach him. With the power dispersed among two individuals, they were not so violently flung aside. He had seconds to crush the skull of one while the other regained his feet.

Dane smiled between heavy breaths. The only street kid that remained was the one with the knife. He now wielded it like a shield, as though that might stop Dane. With the bodies of his two friends left for dead, he wisely turned to flee.

He did not make it far. Rope twined itself around his legs and dragged him on his belly tortuously back while Dane patiently waited. The man's fingers dug into the asphalt like it might save him, but it wouldn't. He was audibly crying by then, but without the harsh pop of gunfire, nobody in the area would think to call police. Not in this neighborhood.

Dane studied the designs shaved into the back of his scalp. In fact, he knelt down on one knee beside him to get a better look where he whispered in the man's ear. "Look at your friends."
The man did not know what he was saying. So Dane tried another tactic.

He roared and twisted the man's head sideways. The view of his dead partners should fill his view.

His sobbing turned to wet wailing. Dane's options were suffocation or decapitation, but neither option left him with the outcome he desired. Therefore, he tied ropes of air around the man's mouth, much like he would eventually tie his own black scarf around his face to conceal his identity. The man's annoying shrieks suddenly grew soft and simpering. Finally. Dane was left with some peace. Peace known only to the dead.

Like the man's friend. The one that knew English and requested oral sex.

Careful to avoid blood, Dane shoved him on his stomach with the square toe of his shiny dress shoe. He yanked the corpse's shorts low and studied the sight. The witness squirmed, but Dane ignored him.

It would dirty his knees to crawl on top of him. How he yearned for the nice, clean surroundings Aria and he and the reporter shared in Moscow. He knelt anyway and ran his palm along the curve of his leg and up his back. Sweat pasted his shirt to the skin. His pony tail was slick with grease. Finally, he grabbed a fist of hair and lifted the skull off the ground and listened to the way it dropped back to the cement. A beautiful, sweet thud. Like a cantaloupe.

He curled his fingers into the man's cheek and looked back to the weeping witness. "I apologize, but alas, I do not have the proper time."
He shrugged and with a few quick steps put the final man out of his misery.

All bonds of power dissolved. Dane zipped up the duffle bag after making sure its contents were unspoiled. He straightened his attire, smoothed his hair, twisted his scarf toward the side of his throat, and resumed his walk.

Javier snatched the last pop-tart from the box on his desk. He dropped the plastic wrappings onto a pile with other empty wads and shoved the pastry into his mouth. Crumbs collected on the chest of his uniform shirt, but as both it and the pastry were white, he only casually brushed them away.

His phone beeped. A text from Latacha. He pounded out a reply. 'Twenty minutes baby. What are you wearing?' She texted back a picture and a sly smirk parted his face. Javier was half way through a response when something on the monitors caught his eye.

He placed the phone aside and investigated. One of the silent alarms was triggered. But the shadow that caught his eye was gone. Nothing else was amiss. Had he seen wrong?

He was reaching for the radio when the door to the security suite opened behind him. He turned, expecting his shift relief, but what he saw sent his hand to his waist. There was no time to draw his firearm, though. His gasp escaped from a red smile drawn across his throat.

His final moments saw a man with a black scarf around his face step over him.
A wind of slowly whirling smoke pervaded Gamez’s private study. The old man himself, the army Commander–in-chief Juan Regulez and three high ranking officers sucked on heavy cigars, waiting. Damien ignored all five. With the Light secure in his iron fist he stared at the card he flipped over between his fingers.


The call-sign was now etched in his memory but still he sought something more in the lifeless paper that had littered the city after another building was destroyed. On the one hand the attack had eased pressure on the American front but Damien was not pleased.

Mexico City was in lockdown but this Mockingbird sowed chaos from inside, undermining everything he worked for. This bird could not be allowed to fly free, and Damien would do whatever it took to see this ended. “What have you uncovered?”
he addressed the room in time.

The pause was enough to confirm his suspicions. “Only what anyone else knows. The Mockingbird is the signature of a serial killer. They have targeted people and places all throughout Europe,”
Juan said. “The targets seem to be picked at random and almost no evidence is left behind besides the Mockingbird symbol.”

A perfect criminal it would seem. Damien did not believe in perfect criminals. He had known a multitude and none came close to perfection. If this Mockingbird thought himself above reproach, Damien would tear them from the sky. “People like this rarely think like rational beings,”
he replied. “We cannot wait for a slip up or a miraculous clue. Neither exist.”

Gamez leaned forward in his recliner and puffed out a ball of smoke. “Well then tell us what you have in mind. Our position is precarious; we need to get this done.”

Damien’s only reaction was to stop twirling the card. He did not even look up. “No, we do not have time,”
he said in a soft voice. “That is why I will leave Monero in your care for the time being. I will see to this Mockingbird.”


one of Juan’s senior officers attempted to protest.

Damien brooked no dissention. “Leave me. Now.”

The five filed out without a word, although Gamez put a hand on his shoulder for a brief moment. Alone, Damien could concentrate. He knew Mockingbird and his kind. How they operated, how they thought. This one might be better than their predecessors, but so was Damien. He would not play the Mockingbird’s game and chase after the wind. No. The Mockingbird would come to him.

A smile parted Damien’s lips as he threw the card in his hand. The call-card drifted through the smoke-filled air like a bird drifting amongst the clouds. With a surge of Light, Damien pieced the clouds and the Mockingbird symbol burned, plummeting to the ground in a pile of shrivelled ash.
Dane never liked the smell of smoke. His lungs rejected the fume like a poison. But tonight, what smoke clung to the air was the dawn of a glorious day. The clouds of it kept the sun thin and filtered. The very birds lingered near their branches, unsure if the sky even remained beyond the fog.

Dane watched the news from the comforts of his apartment, still fueled by the thrill of his spectacle. His beloved symbol, the image over which he labored for days, circulated the screen. It filled the wall of his television as he flipped from channel to channel, flittering between red and blue siren lights. He fell asleep warm and happy, snuggling down into the folds of a bathrobe like it were a blanket.

The noise of American English bristled him awake. Dane fingered for the controls to tune him out, but the voice soon became familiar.

Dane slowly pushed himself upright. Disbelief and dismissal burrowed into his gut. Oakland's lies tunneled within like worms and agony followed.

Dane spoke quietly. He stood, bathrobe hanging loose around his frame. "No, you're lying, Oakland."
Hot tears pooled the corners of his eyes. What did he have to do to prove himself? He was not a charlatan! Nobody but Dane Gregory could have pulled off the marvelous event that was the night before! A Mockingbird cannot itself be imitated!

Torrents of power rushed through Dane until he became the center of a vortex that mimicked the destruction churning within. Walls pushed outward from the pressure. His robe flapped hard around his legs until red welts were left on his skin. He screamed through the sobs until a temporary release broke in his mind.

He walked away, feet crackling on the broken glass of his crumbled apartment, but he didn't feel the pain of their cuts. Only the pain of betrayal and ruined glory.

He had to find Oakland. He'd make him believe.


That evening, a man in newly purchased clothing walked alone up the cobbled street to Oakland's estate. His shoes stiff, new leather, his attire an arrangement of creams and blues. His hair was slickly combed to one side. He carried nothing on his person but a blank expression undistracted by the heavily guarded men surrounding him.

Dane was stopped at the gate, of course. Where he said nothing but instead held up a wrinkled, dirtied card, one he'd found in the gutter.

When the guard turned it over, he stiffened, and raised his gun.

Dane peered curiously down the barrel. "Tell him I'm here."

"Mr. Oakland..."
a rattled voice spoke over the intercom connected to the room that he had made his sanctuary. Office was a term that implied laborious work.

Amidst the data files and reports Damien harboured his resolution. Realising his goals was no chore.

Tapping the voice control system he projected a firm, calm voice. "Speak, what do you have to report?"

There was a moment of hesitation before the answer came. "We have an unidentified man at the entrance. He has said nothing more than 'Tell him I'm here.'"
Damien's interest was aroused but he did not interrupt. "Sir... The man... he also gave one of the men a card. A Mockingbird card."

Damien's brows rose but nothing showed in his reply. "Thank you for relaying this message. Stand by for further instruction."

Cutting the audio, Damien reached for the monitoring pad. It took a moment to flick through the various camera channels until he found the one he desired.

A lean man in fine cut sober clothing stood at the entrance to Gamez's estate. With his hair slicked to one side he looked like a relic of the last century.

Damien narrowed his own gaze to mirror the zoom of the camera. The man's face stretched across the screen. Damien gazed into the hollow caverns of his eyes and smiled.

It was more than he could have hoped for. He had not expected the man to be so bold - if it was truly the one he sought.

Damien tapped the communications device once more and issued his commands. "The gatekeepers are to stand down."

the question galled him.

"Need I repeat myself?"

There was no need for an answer. "Deploy two snipers,"
he conceded. One must retain the loyalty and trust of his men and the Mockingbird was a name they feared. "However, they are not to fire unless on my command. Meet me at the entrance with five of your choosing."

In short order Damien made his way to the entrance accompanied by an entourage of his most loyal. All were Mexican of no status. Most of his personal guards hailed from cartel affected areas not unlike Camila. These forgotten children of Mexico were the daggers in his shadow.

Damien greeted the visitor in appropriate style. A dark purple dominated the perfectly worked suit embroidered with precise threads of gold that outlined the bold piece. It was not one of style or utility but a declaration.

Damien waved for the gates to be opened, never taking his eyes of the man before him. When nothing but the ground before him separated them, Damien smiled, his presence swelling in the moonlight that cast a silhouette from behind. His eyes were afire with sparked intensity.

"I have been eager to meet you, Mockingbird."

Edited by Damien, Nov 4 2014, 01:20 PM.
He was made to wait, which was acceptable. Dane understood the logistics it would take for a man to descend from his lofty palace in order to meet with the mortals.

Dane passed the time by watching the guards. He'd gone to stand alongside the guardhouse so to lean casually against the wall. He'd placed his hands in his pockets and crossed his legs at the ankle. His relaxed-seeming posture unnerved those around him. Particularly when Dane's focus lingered long enough to make seasoned soldiers shift in their shoes.

Commotion caused his neck to slowly swivel to one side. His first sight of Damien Oakland was lackluster. Dane saw a coward with tangled hair and gaudy clothes.

Dane pushed off the wall, waiting like a sentinel when the gates opened before him. The two met one anothers' gazes. Damien's smile was pleasant. Dane's was feral. While Damien's gaze was lit with intensity, Dane's was hollowed by the emptiness of his own soul.

He did not offer one of his slender, musical hands to shake. Dane kept his personal space, but the whisper of his voice was one of discord. Of threat.

"You are unworthy to speak such a name."

Dane's eyes cast low glances to his left and right. Damien's entourage was a greater presence than Dane preferred to deal, but his hatred for the liar overcame his fear, something he hated even more than Damien.

"Will you be inviting me in?"
Dane's accent was gentlemanly, like a lord of the former century. All the more surprising to hear utter a threat. "I'd like to have some tea before I make you beg for mercy."

He slipped both hands into his pockets, pleased by the shifts and swallows of those around him.

The Mockingbird made his demands and Damien could not say he was unimpressed. He had expected a delusional man caught up in the thought of his own celebrity. He had not expected such a bold stand. His smile was all the more genuine for it.

The way his soldiers shifted nervously brought both annoyance and satisfaction. The hunt for the Mockingbird was not in vain. The threats left Damien unaffected. He had endured much the same in far more dangerous company. He did not doubt by the look in his eye the Mockingbird would carry through with his threats given the chance. So it had been with all of the rest. None had been given the luxury.

"How would you liked to be addressed?"
The thought of ordering the Mockingbird's head to be blown away had briefly crossed his mind. Death, however, was far too easy to deal. A child could kill the greatest of men. Instead, Damien spoke congenially. "The last serial killer I met called himself the Phantom but he was also sensitive about his self-proclaimed title. David Fuller was his name. I do not know if he is still alive. He was set to be executed but I had left San Quentin before then."

The Light hovered just beyond his control, ready to be summoned if the need arose. He hoped the need did not arise. He used the Light sparingly in public lest people became too familiar.

He did not wait upon an answer.

Damien turned on his heels and beckoned with his left hand, speaking as he walked towards the mansion. "Not many people are invited in, but I shall make an exception. If you plan on taking out your anger on me I would prefer to be inside."
His voice lowered but held firm iron. "One more thing. Do not damage the building, there are many others living here. You will be given your chance to confront me soon enough."

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