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Issue #5

To Be A Villain

"You'd think, by now, people would know to look past the wheelchair." – Dr. Niles Caulder

Issue Preview

After returning to the Vault from a mission in rural Idaho the team is forced to face the choices they made when they meet the Squad councilor, Dr. Niles Caulder. While coming to terms with their situation the Squad also must take a look at their past for clarity in how they got here in the first place

Issue Podcast

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Issue Notes
Everything is black. Then we see Mahmoud, Andy, Elektra, Edward, and a console for ECHIDNA all sitting in folding chairs inside the circular white room with a man we haven't seen before. The newcomer is older with gray hair and a full beard. He rests in a wheelchair and a pistol sits in his lap. Silence stretches for a moment as the Squad avoid his gaze. Eventually, the man speaks. "As some of you already know, I am Niles Caulder and I've been brought here to act as councilor, therapist, confidant, and doctor for Task Force X. I am also responsible for taking your after action reports, which is what this session is now. Following these debriefs I am available for individual and group counseling should you request it. Dr. Waller is well aware of the toll these missions can take on a person, regardless of their background. Now, who would like to tell me what happened in Idaho?"

Therapy Time

Dr. Caulder nods as the team convey their report. Once everyone is finished he nods seriously, "Thank you for that. Again, if anyone would like individual or group sessions I will be available in three hours. Simply notify any guard on your level and they will see to arranging things for us. Mr. Blake and Ms. Natchios are excused, I will need some additional time with Mr. Atef, Mr. Bangs, and Mr. Stevanovic." Caulder then turns his focus on Mahmoud, Andy, and ECHIDNA as the other two file out of the room. "I am afraid that after your first official mission with the Task Force there is a compulsory individual session. Dr. Waller found that most new recruits were uninterested in seeking professional services unless they are required to at least once. Each of you will be given an hour of one-on-one time with me starting now. We can talk about whatever you want, I can lead the discussion, or we can sit quietly and enjoy the silence. These sessions are paced at your speed. Now. Who would like to go first?"

The Janus Directive

When the squad wakes up next they are back in the circular white room. This time Mahmoud and Andy find themselves alone, with ECHIDNA watching through their senses. After pulling themselves to their feed the door slides open and Waller walks into the room. "Listen up. We've been issued a Janus Directive. These orders come from somewhere above even SHIELD and are issued directly to Task Force X. No one outside of this room is to know about this operation. Not Checkmate, not SWORD, not SHIELD, and not even me. I don't know if I can trust you but the Janus Directive is why you three have been brought together. I will facilitate your deployment to wherever you need to go. Once you're finished with your briefing let me know what I need to do to assist you. Remember. No one outside of you three are allowed to know the details of this mission. Once I leave power to this room will be cut to ensure there is no outside recording or transmissions. Do you have any questions for me?" With that Waller turns and walks out of the room. The lights cut off and the room is left in the dim glow of the red emergency lights. Then a file blinks into existence withing ECHIDNA's file server.

The file is heavily encrypted and as the pass-phrase ECHIDNA is prompted to ask exceptionally personal questions from Mahmoud and Andy. The kinds of questions that only they would know. ECHIDNA can choose to ask the questions openly to both of them, or individually so the other doesn't know the question.

With the final pass-phrase accepted the file opens. It's contents are brief, a mere three words, but their meaning is immediately significant.

Kill the Batman.