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Slingers #9: "Loose Ends and Lost Boys"

by Joseph Harris and ChrisCross

Flashback time!  We start this story seven years ago, with a young Ricochet being pushed through a grocery store parking lot by his mom.  Rico is standing up in the cart, and wearing a flannel shirt as a cape, playing at being a hero.  The two of them are preparing stuff for the father's birthday.  The dialogue boxes are talking about what Young Rico's like - a bit of a handful, but a natural atlhete, and very "special."  He shows that he's even more special as some red S.U.V. comes charging towards the cart and he does a neat backflip onto the car's roof.  His mom is stunned, and she realizes what she was already suspicious of - her little boy's a mutant.  Nearby, some kids are knocking on the back door of an ice-cream truck...inside of which are the dreaded Nanny and Orphan Maker!  Okay, maybe not dreaded, but they're after mutant children and Rico's mom is next on their hit list.

Back in the parking lot, Young Rico speeds off on the cart while his mom watches him and thinks about what just happened.  She's been watching him his whole life, watching for that first sign of a mutant power.  I guess the backflip did it.  The thing is, she's also a mutant, though it's likely that even her husband doesn't know.  While she thinks about this, Nanny and Orphan Maker stick their ugly mugs out of the truck, Nanny chiding Rico's mom for being a mutant too and asking where the kid is.  Orphan Maker shoots before she can answer.  Stupid.  A short while later, Young Rico shows up back by the car, where his mother, surrounded by a crowd, is laying dead.  Ouch.

Back in the present, Ricochet is at the graveyard - in full costume, no less - and puts a single white rose on his mother's grave.  She's buried next to Ben Parker, no less.  Later, Rico and Hornet are practicing over Central Park, and Dusk shows up.  Ricochet is less than thrilled to see her.  He tosses two discs up, which Hornet shoots down easily, all while quoting Star Wars.  Rico walks away from them, not too happy.

Over New York, Nanny's ship-thingy flies out of a toxic-looking cloud.  She's ranting about freeing more mutant children, while Orphan Maker complains - he's jealous, naturally.  Nanny consoles him.  Awww....  Back down in the park, Hornet descends on Rico and Dusk, talking about how he's tweaked the "stingers" so they work better.  He's thrilled, but Ricochet needs to be alone.  Dusk tries to talk with him, but he mentions that it's his father's birthday, and talks about how nothing is good enough for him.  He wouldn't even accept Ricochet being a super hero.  Dusk counters with the fact that she doesn't even know what's happening to her, and she can't go back to her parents.  She says that Johnny's lucky to have his father, but Rico still denies that.  As he walks off, Hornet offers to Dusk that he won't get in the way of the two of them.  Dusk wonders what the heck he's talking about.  Apparently she doesn't remember issue #6.

Ricochet walks off through Central Park, talking to himself about telling his dad about his superheroics, and how he tries hard because he feels guilty about his mom getting killed.  We see something aiming at him, and his danger-sense goes off - just in time for him to pull off two discs and then get ambushed by the Orphan Maker, who sprays him with some sort of dust that makes him go to sleep....

He wakes up, slowly, on Nanny's ship-thingy.  She says that he's going to be happy once his father's dead, he tells her "Uh...you're an egg.  You know that, right?"  Anyway, she goes on about how she's been watching him, and feels sorry for him for growing up with a father that couldn't provide for a "special" son.  Nanny plans to make up for her past mistake, and kill his dad so that Rico can get the attention he deserves.  When she reveals that they killed his mother, Rico is shocked beyond belief.  We then cut to Rico's house, where the Orphan Maker is watching Rico's father, who's asleep on the couch.

Back in the ship-thingy, Rico struggles to get free from the chair they've tied him into, and manages to get a disc off and bouncing.  The disc nails the control panel, making the ship-thingy crash onto a chain-link fence somewhere below.  Nice going, Rico.  He, of course, escapes, and forces himself to get going, back to his house.  When he busts in the door, his dad is still asleep on the couch, under the influence of the stuff they put him to sleep with.  The Orphan Maker comes out of the kitchen, armed with all kinds of deadly implements of cooking.  Rico nails him with two discs, and poses dramatically to kick some tail.  The Orphan Maker forms a gun from his suit, but Ricochet kicks him in the head, then gets tossed across the room.  He goes to kill Rico's dad again, but Rico taunts him, saying that he'll be Nanny's favorite when his dad is dead.  The Orphan Maker gets royally pissed at this, and says that Ricochet's not good enough for them.  Just as Johnny watches him drive away, his dad wakes up....

His dad heard everything, or at least enough.  He doesn't know what to say, even when Rico says flat out that he's a super hero now.  As Rico knew, his dad only comments that there are those out there stronger than him.  Upstairs in his room, Ricochet packs some stuff, feeling like he doesn't have a home any more.  As he's getting ready, someone calls his name - it's Prodigy, capeless and in need of help!