"The Wild Storm - Chapter Fifteen": In Skywatch Headquarters, Henry Bendix is fuming at the outcome of his last conversation with with Miles Craven. Skywatch has been blamed for an attack on an I.O. installation. Faced with the news from Pennington that their organization is not responsible, Ben

The Wild Storm #15 is an issue of the series The Wild Storm (Volume 1) with a cover date of September, 2018. It was published on July 18, 2018.

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Synopsis for "The Wild Storm - Chapter Fifteen"

In Skywatch Headquarters, Henry Bendix is fuming at the outcome of his last conversation with with Miles Craven. Skywatch has been blamed for an attack on an I.O. installation. Faced with the news from Pennington that their organization is not responsible, Bendix orders the deployment of the Little Stick - an experimental weapon developed in the Eighties, a foot-long diamond rod, which, when dropped from orbit, achieves sufficient velocity to strike the target with the force of a tactical nuclear device.

In London, Li-Men Shen is having a vision - a man, pinioned, his mouth in a gaping, silent scream, while science is perpetrated on his body: skin removed and reattached, treads on his feet, wires in his brain, bugs in his guts. Snapping out of this vision, she names the perpetrators as Skywatch, the secret space agency. The victim, the homeless man known as "the mayor", introduces himself as Jack Hawksmoor. He is still recovering from the drug Shen gave him, but he has a theory - Skywatch kidnapped and experimented on him, to make him into something that could survive and labor in a toxic city. And that he doesn't think he was the only one.

In orbit, a diamond rod - the Little Stick - breaks atmosphere, landing on the Hightower facility with a colossal boom.

In a gas station bathroom, Marc Slayton is having doubts. He regards his work for the being he calls the Carer as holy, but still he feels ill at the necessary killing. The being appears in a nearby mirror, and announce itself as "the Khera", and explains that it is what is necessary. Crying in gratitude and repentance, Slayton exits the bathroom, returning to the scene of three gruesome murders, and pausing only to craft an arrow to launch their souls as the Carer told him, he moves on.

In a small bar, John Lynch enters. Talking briefly to the barman, he sits down with a shy-looking man of Chinese descent in a corner table, and identifies him as Andrew Kwok. The shy man demurs, introducing himself as Philip Chang. John pulls out a scanner, insisting that this device identifies the shy man as Kwok - and that he came to warn Kwok that I.O. is looking into Project Thunderbook. At this, the shy man stops smiling. He explains that while Lynch gave him a new fake identity, he didn't trust Lynch to crack under torture, so he used his money to get plastic surgery and a new fake ID, and moved on with his life. He has a wife now, and two children - Hector & Percival, both named for their mother's love of Arthurian myth.

At this point, John Lynch starts to bleed from his good eye, as Chang explains that he will kill Lynch in the most painless way he can find, and then hide the body. Lynch responds by shooting him in the face, but Chang is able to slow the bullet in midair. Chang boasts that a single bullet will not be enough - so Lynch fires six more. As Chang sweats from holding all of them, Lynch explains that while Chang's ability to hyperfocus made him a great assassin, it left him unable to multitask, which is why he's about to die. Pausing to shoot the barman, who has pulled out his shotgun in response to the noise, Lynch questions why, despite the respect he has tried to show them by giving a fair warning, all the Thunderbook enhanciles have done is boast of their offspring, or try to kill him. As he struggles against the bullets, Chang stutters that this may be because the alien enhancements they have mean that the agents are no longer strictly human, but are driven by goals of conquest or colonization. Lynch muses, says he will see that Chang's kids are cared for, and then shoots Chang in the head. Pausing only to throw a grenade which starts a fire and covers his tracks, he flees the scene.

In New York, Miles Craven is having a videophone conversation with Henry Bendix. Bendix shows footage of the remains of Hightower, and insists that he does not care enough about I.O. to cover his tracks when he attacks them. That he truly believes that the Earth would be best used as a resource supply center for the space-based civilization Skywatch is building. And that if I.O. touches his people again, he will use one of the Little Sticks on I.O.'s New York headquarters, and leave Craven to bury the dead and explain the damage.

Craven responds by saying he will relinquish control of the Skywatch Ground Division offices, but that the surviving agent, Lucy Blaze, is officially barred from New York, on pain of death. With a gesture of contempt, he ends the transmission.

Walking back to his office, Miles Craven meets his head of Analysis, Jackie King, who explains that forensics on Mitch Saunders' phone showed the presence of spyware - spyware that Skywatch specifically tried to erase. Skywatch knows what they did, but not how they did it. But Skywatch's reliance on hardware leaves them vulnerable to basic electronic weaknesses - by deploying countermeasures against the recent bot attack, Skywatch showed where their space station was. Should I.O. require, they can just nuke them.

Miles asks Jackie if she wants a war, and Jackie responds in the negative - she wants an execution, and if Miles will not give the order, she will pursue her goal by other means.

Going to her office, Jackie throws a computer monitor through a glass divider in frustration.

In a Skywatch safehouse, Lauren Pennington is congratulating Lucy Blaze on her recent actions, and his informing her of a new, roving brief, where she covers cases all over America. Lucy wonders if this is a punishment for her actions during the I.O. attack on the New York offices, but Pennington insists - this is all good news.

Besides, says Pennington as she raises a glass of wine, given the current détente between Skywatch and I.O., New York might not be around long enough for Lucy to properly miss...



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