Master of the Hunt, Part XXII

1545 Hours, Gotham Harbour

Huntmaster was waiting as the last boat drifted aimlessly in towards the dock.

“Hail humanity,” he called, his voice firm, and the distant response came.

“Hail purity.”

The voice was flat, very much synthesized. Huntmaster didn’t recognize it.

“Identify rank.”

“Headhunter Mark Seven-Point-Two-Two.”

Huntmaster stiffened. He hadn’t heard that designation previously and there was a very good chance it was an upgraded version of him.

The boat drifted slowly, almost lazily, into view, coasting around a large cargo container, and Huntmaster got his first look at his opponent. He was about seven feet tall and heavily armoured. Seams were visible around his wrists, shoulders, torso, and thighs, though Huntmaster couldn’t tell if it was just where the armour closed or if they would serve a more sinister purpose. The armour was a dark gunmetal grey, and lights flashed across his form, indicating changes in pressure and every other mechanical statistic imaginable. His face was largely obscured by his armoured faceplate, slightly illuminated by the glowing orange HUD beneath the tinted visor. He stood rigidly, as if fully inhuman.

Huntmaster steeled himself.

“Headhunter, eh? I can’t let you do what I know you’re going to try to do.”

The Headhunter’s gaze snapped upwards, locking on Huntmaster.

“You have failed. I will succeed.”

The voice then flickered and was replaced by a menacing feminine one, sarcastic brightness oozing over Huntmaster like syrup.

“Huntmaster Monson, how good to see you again! We assume you have been doing your best to eliminate the metahuman threat?”

Huntmaster stared down, unresponsive.

“No? Well, consider your employment terminated.”

Huntmaster cocked an eyebrow.

“Harsh, but I’m still not going to let you do this.”

“Have fun with our reinforcements.”

The Headhunter seemed to take back over its own body, and its left arm came up, a blaster of sorts sliding out of one of the seams in the left arm.

Huntmaster’s eyes went wide, and he rolled backwards instinctively. A series of shots just barely went wide, and then he was out of line of sight. A series of alarms flashed on his optical implants, his eyes pulsing red, blue, orange, and yellow.

“Alright,” he growled, “That just isn’t fair.”

He flinched as a resounding klong vibrated through the dock, the sounds of a speedboat being capsized playing out a tense soundtrack.

“Fine. Let’s get this sonuvagun… A.I.s, both of you, front and center. War, leave me lucid but guide actions. Peace, keep me updated on system statuses and potential unorthodox options. Go.”

For the first time since his induction into the Huntmaster Program, James Monson gelled perfectly with the intelligences planted in his head. In a single fluid motion, he flipped over the container he was behind, kicking Headhunter in the chest, knocking him back. As Headhunter stabilized himself, Huntmaster dodged around him, out of the line of fire. He smashed a fist into the back of one of Headhunter’s knees, driving him to the ground. Then, with flair, he place Deadshot’s firearm behind Headhunter’s head.

“This is my world, Pureman. Keep. Your. Hands. Off.”

As he went to depress the trigger, however, Headhunter’s hand snapped around, grabbing Huntmaster’s leg. As he was jerked around, Huntmaster’s shot went wide. He cursed and attempted to sweep his opponent off his feet, but Headhunter stood up, impervious.

As Huntmaster desperately fought to get loose, Headhunter clasped either side of his head, holding him aloft. A painful pressure began to permeate his alloy reinforced hull.

“No, Huntmaster Monson, it is humanity’s world, and you are no longer just human.”


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