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Book 1: The Siege of Fort Vagabond

Chapter 2 Part 1: Brainiac's Entrance

“Good of you to join the meeting you called for Hadrian.” Charlie said. His words echoing down the hall of the Club House to the latest and youngest member of the Committee. If he was annoyed the VP didn’t show it anymore. His frustration with the epidemically late, and absent minded Hadrian died out some four or five years ago leaving only a hollow empty resignation at its persistence. Or at least that’s what Charlie had told Bohdan in exasperation over burgers a few months ago.

“Nice, that means I missed the monologue. How’d they like my idea Charlie?” Hadrian said in as sweet a voice ever recorded, and right down to business faster than a hitman with no sense of foreplay. Captain Meathead rolled his eyes, and spread his hands out to Bohdan as if to say, “You see the abuse I endure while helping this pup?”

“Wait a minute Brainiac. You want to go to Oklahoma. Not the Keys to hunt an octopus.” It was a statement not a question. Karl was glaring down at the husky, but still a foot shorter boy as he grilled the schemer of their little crew.

Were all of Hadrian’s hair brained plots winners? No, but they always were interesting whether they were successful or not. Consequences be damned in most cases. Brainiac was the original founder of the Committee, and through no small amount of statecraft and possible blackmail had drafted the very unwilling Bohdan into becoming their fearless leader.

Heck they’d be meeting in their old treehouse if Hadrian hadn’t convinced old Peters senior to give them the gig cleansing the violent haunting going on in the country club. Why the original Peters clan had built their farm, and then the Country Club, on not just an Indian burial ground, but the sight of a mass grave for Apache raiders who’d been caught in their usual debauchery was beyond anyone’s guess. A posse from Oden City caught that old hunting party in an open valley, and there the blood of the many children and raped wives was avenged. Not a total surprise that the land was tainted with the spirits of the murderous tribe there and all.

Cleaning out all the nonsense made for wild times. As a result Brainiac’s ideas were always listened to. They were often high risk high reward ventures, but even Saint John was pulled in after he joined up on his first caper leading to a marujana farm in the Ozark mountains. That raid had led to an ambush of Cartel flunkies that went so well they were still decorating the Ozark mountains in unmarked forest graves, and their pull from the illicit funds and weapons jump started their renovations of the south east tunnel systems. These kinds of results led to respect no matter how hairbrained the concept. However, giving up bikini wales and the shining sparkling beaches of Florida for the muddy mosquito bitten waters of Okie land was going to have to be quite the sell.

“Darn straight Karl! Beaches are for soyboys and witches, and I ain’t either of those,” the Committee all chuckled, or shook their heads. The kid’s charisma when he had an idea was infectious even if his usual demeanor was more of a tinkerer in the corner kind of fellow. Give him a goal that he needed the crew to complete though, and suddenly he was a rhetoric monster who made you forget all your inhibitions. Or the fact he’d started this little tradition of their road trip to the Keys every year so by his own standards he was both a soyboy and a witch.

Bohdan leaned forward in his seat, and put his gravely chin in his hand. Charlie of course was going on another monologue about how they should listen to him even before Hadrian opened his trap. The President, despite his VP’s rantings, was legitimately curious now that he knew this wasn’t just another whim of the Captain on his latest crusade against the slightest wisp or hint of unmanly behavior.

“Charlie, I got you. I’ll listen more next time. Let’s hear what Brainiac has to say over here. I’m going to need more convincing,“ Bohdan said with a quiet voice that nonetheless carried through the underground chapel cutting through the noisy argument and laughter like a scimitar through butter. With those words the ex football Captain nodded, and backed off giving the floor over to Hadrian their scheming Brainiac.

“Thanks Pres,” Hadrian said with a boyish grin all over his still pimple-covered face, and took off his camo hat to let his wild reddish blond hair fly in every direction.

“Gentlemen of the Adventure, Hunting, and Liquidation Committee I would like to propose a yearly trip that actually coincides with our name and given mission. A hunt of a most spiritual, or at least of fantastical nature.” Bohdan felt a slight sneer fill his face as the old debate club rhetorical aristocrat came out of Hadrian. One day he’d learn that jazz didn’t work on his President. Charlie had always told his old President that he was a man who was down to business too fast to please a crowd let alone a woman. Funny how this fearless leader was the first to have a fiancé out of the crew, but Bohdan would leave gloating for another day.

“Hadrian, get to the point before I walk out that door and forget all about this nonsense while wining and dining Harald’s sister to her heart’s content.” Jeers went up from the crowd as Karl slapped Harald’s back.

The big Viking bro was making a face to curdle milk into mud doubtlessly thinking about his sister’s love life in a disgusting light. Harald might have approved of the union, but Godzilla over there had made things clear. He didn’t want details. Which is of course why Bohdan felt like he should share just enough to rankle that weak spot. The big guy didn’t have many weaknesses to exploit, and Bohdan wasn’t the kind of man to let his advantage go to waste.

“You got it Prez,” Hadrian said and brought his tablet out in a flash. With a blur motion he’d booted up their overhead projector hidden behind an ornate panel. A second later an automated screen came down from the ceiling to accommodate the device. The Brainiac of the committee hooked up his pad, and flipped past his home screen that depicted Goggles in a compromised position passed out on a couch dressed in a chicken suit with three of Hadrian's older sisters gluing old cheese to his growing mustache.

Bohdan had to put his face in his hands to hide his chuckle as the room erupted into momentary chaos of laughter and indignation. So that’s where the local high school mascot suite had run off to after the city elders had closed that hive of villainy down. Too many lesbians signing up for principal and too much pressure and bribes from the feds and “private” investors to make that sacrilege happen. Not in their town. Everyone was homeschooled anyway.

Hadrian was a dangerous deviant when in his element. Even the President’s overdeveloped defenses were tried by his shenanigans. How had they gotten Gregory in that suite while he was sleeping? He wasn’t drunk. The kid had taken vows that he took very seriously about alcohol. Days like these were what reminded Bohdan why he didn’t go back into his loner lifestyle before that fateful night of poltergeist cleansing four years ago. You just never knew what was going to happen next in these hallowed halls.

The Story Will Continue Every Saturday.

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Braniac's Entrance panel 5
Bohdan Blood was a busy young man. Being the President of the AH&L Committee in the middle of World War Three did that, but now rumors of witchcraft and Cartel incursions around his Ozark home were making things downright unhealthy. Together with his wily friends Bohdan and company will dodge drafts, hunt cryptids, and burn witches in style to keep their neck of the woods from looking like a New York hellscape. Just another day for the Adventure, Hunting, and Liquidation Committee.
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