Prologue: November 28, 2005
On a Monday
Mac was running through the forest, icy air and flurried snow rushing at his stinging cheeks. It was dark enough to wear his leather-strapped night vision goggles, and all of his surroundings were tinted green. The goggles were a recent, awesome purchase, and their profits had doubled since he had gotten his hands on a pair. All of those other arrow-themed assholes stole his work during the day, but no one had the balls to get in the way of The Rapture at night.
His bow was slung over his shoulder, and his quiver over another. The rattling of the arrows sounded at his ears; they weren’t packed very tightly because their last mission was so recent. Beside him, Charlie was running too, keeping pace but breathing hard. His footsteps were as silent as his those of his moniker - The Rat- and on his scarred face was a rare look of determination. They had hit the jackpot with this prey, and Charlie was looking buy a new set of knives and a wheel of cheese when they got paid.
Today’s unfortunate few were the Reynolds twins, aliases Gemstone (Dee Reynolds) and Nemesis (Dennis Reynolds). Gemstone was fused with a powerful alien gemstone that afforded her the power of dark magic. Nemesis was a symbiote, thin and charming in human form but enormous and deadly upon transformation. Together they were responsible for the murders and injuries of dozens of innocent civilians and several heroes. However, Charlie and Mac were hunting them for something much more profitable - a bank robbery that needed a cover up job. The company didn’t want anyone to know that their security system was less than stellar, so instead of calling the cops they had called The Rat and The Rapture to clean up the mess.
Mac and Charlie had been very close to reaching their target for the last three miles; the twins weren’t the most subtle villains, and the noise of their footsteps and whispered voices easily gave them away. When he didn’t hear or see them anymore, he stopped in his tracks.
“Rat,” he whispered, grabbing Charlie by the arm. “I think they’re behind that tree over there.”
Charlie’s eyes lit up. “You think so uhh....what name are you this week?”
“I told you! My name is The Rapture.”
“Really?” said Charlie, wrinkling his nose. “Because last week you were the Apostle and the week before you were Blackbird and the week before that you were Target and the week before that you were -”
“Christ, Charlie. Does it matter right now?”
“A little bit, man, because I never know what to call you.”
“I am The Rapture from now on, ok? I just hadn’t figured a badass enough one out yet but I have now.”
“Ok Raptor,” said Charlie. Mac groaned, but let him press on. “I have two special poisoned knives with their names on them. You trap em and I’ll do the rest.”
“Cool. But after this mission, I’m gonna teach you how to not mangle my totally badass name.”
“Whatever dude. You’ll probably change it anyway,” he said, and then as an afterthought- “And don’t try any karate bullshit this time, ok? There’s too much money on the line for you to fuck this one up.”
Before Mac could retort, Charlie ran in the other direction to find a place to hide. Silently cursing him, Mac crouched down and walked slowly, looking behind every tree for their prey. Finally, he found them. Dennis was doubled over and panting, pale even when tinted in night-vision green. Dee also looked out of breath; her fingers were sparking, and her forehead was sweaty.
“- I can’t carry you every time I hover, Dennis. Your symbiote needs to pick up some slack. When was the last time it ate?”
“I’m trying...to wean it...onto human food.”
“So basically you’re just not eating anything. Really smart, Dennis.”
“Fuck you, Gemstone. I know it’s gonna work...just takes time. And don’t call me by my real name. Show your partner in crime some goddamn respect.”
“I’m having trouble remembering what it was. Narcissus, right?”
In the heat of their ensuing argument, neither of them heard Mac pull out his bow or nock his arrow.
Inhale. Pull. Exhale. Release.
Dennis cried at as his punctured arm pinned him to the tree. Before she could even process what had happened, Dee was pinned down too. Then Charlie was there, singing ‘We are the Champions” and brandishing two poison knives that glinted in the moonlight. He actually had taken the time to carve their names and aliases in them which, while slightly insane, was a nice touch.
Above them, Mac suddenly heard the sound of a half dozen helicopters. He didn’t get the chance to look questioningly at Charlie before all of their bodies were frozen by a bright light.
‘CHARLIE KELLY AND RONALD MCDONALD ALIASES RAT AND...THE OTHER ONE. YOU ARE UNDER ARREST BY ORDER OF S.H.I.E.L.D. ON THE ACCOUNTS OF ASSASSINATION OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, MURDER, BLACKMAIL, ILLEGAL MERCENARY ACTIVITIES, AND DRUG POSSESSION. DEE AND DENNIS REYNOLDS ALIASES GEMSTONE AND NEMESIS. YOU ARE UNDER ARREST FOR MURDER, ARMED ROBBERY, ASSASSINATION OF GOVERNMENTAL OFFICIALS, CONSPIRING WITH OTHER VILLAINOUS PERSONS, AND WAR CRIMES.’
Mac’s heart fluttered in fear. This was the end.
They were being sent to the Raft.