July 28, 2016
209. BRANDI BERETTA
Donella Brandi Mason
Portland, OR, USA, Earth (Core Reality); Late 21st century
Power Rating: 1 – 100
POWERS, ABILITIES, WEAPONS & TOOLS
Brandi Beretta is one of the world’s foremost experts in the hybrid martial arts technique, Gun-Kata. She carries a pair of modified Beretta handguns as her primary weapons. She is also an expert markswoman.
When Brandi was in high school, she was accepted into a scholarship program, which allowed high-achieving students to apply for summer internships with some of the top companies in the world. Brandi was determined to score a job with Universal Intelligence, a company which specialized in creating artificial intelligence-based products. It was also owned by the ultra-successful, and utterly ruthless businessman, Edgar Lockhart. Needless to say, Universal Intelligence was at the forefront of technology, and Brandi wanted to be right their with them.
After a rigorous application process, she was selected for an interview with high-level company executive, Crystal Spears. Her intelligence and charisma were incredibly impressive, and a week later she and two other students were invited to fly out to Northern California, to meet with the CEO of Universal Intelligence herself, Reina Valencia. All three students sat in with the CEO, and again, Brandi expressed herself in a very articulate manner. However, Reina was not so easily impressed. She suggested that Universal Intelligence didn’t simply want young, smart people with good grades, clever essays, and a long list of “extracurriculars”; they wanted people who were willing to do whatever it took to get the job done, even if that meant stepping on someone else to move ahead, or even participating in some potentially unscrupulous practices.
WEIGHT: 122 lbs.
HAIR: Dirty Blonde
While the other two students were suspicious that Reina’s intimations were perhaps a trick to get them to say something inappropriate, Brandi decided to take the bait, and shed her nice girl facade. She revealed her intense ambition, and her own potential for being ruthless. She even began talking trash about the other two students in the room with her, taking some of the fears and insecurities they had shared with her, during the time they’d spent together in the days leading up to the interview, and using the info to tell Reina why she would be such a better option than her peers. Now, Reina was impressed, and after a few more moments she dismissed the other two students, and offered Brandi the position.
A few weeks later, Brandi’s junior year ended, and her internship at Universal Intelligence as Reina’s shadow began. She was introduced to so many aspects of the business, it was incredible! With just a couple of days of the internship left, Reina challenged Brandi to narrow down her options, as far as which part of Universal Intelligence she would be most interested in when she returned for next summer’s program. Brandi was torn, as there were so many options. However, it was when she snuck into the Combat Development Department, that she finally made up her mind. She immediately fell in love with the idea of creating revolutionary firearms, and using old weapons in new ways.
Reina was initially upset that she had entered the restricted area, but then remembered that Brandi’s ambition and disregard for protocol is why she was selected in the first place. The next summer, after graduating from high school, Brandi returned to UI, and was thrust right into the CDD. She immediately excelled, not only with weapon development, but with weapon handling. She was a natural with a pair of Beretta hand guns, and some of the other scientists began to joke that she should serve as Reina’s bodyguard, rather than as her intern. For Brandi, this was no joke at all. In fact, she presented the idea to Reina, who was actually quite open to the prospect, despite the fact that she was only 18 years old, and barely out of high school. Brandi told Reina that she would forgo college, and spend every waking moment training herself to be a living weapon, and in turn Reina told her that she was hired.
Over the next several years, Brandi was trained by a number of weapons and martial arts specialists. She eventually became a master of Gun-Kata – a modified fighting style, which combines Kung Fu and small firearms usage in a complicated, yet seamless manner. She was ready to become Reina’s personal bodyguard, but a different set of plans had been laid out for the young lady they were now calling “Brandi Beretta.”
Edgar Lockhart himself wanted to make her part of his elite squad of sharpshooter bodyguards, called the Lockhart Force. With Reina’s blessing, Brandi happily agreed. She quickly learned, however, that this group of men and women were not simply bodyguards; they were actually guns-for-hire, who were often hired to carry out assassinations, hit jobs, and all kinds of other tasks that were at best morally questionable, and at worst blatantly reprehensible. Brandi, for her part, did not mind at all.
She also soon learned that Edgar was not just a businessman; but he was also one of the world’s most dangerous hyper-villains. And one day the rest of the world would find this out, too. It was after several years of working for Edgar, that a series of events, set in motion by Lt. Rashard Bonds and the Alpha Initiative, would lead to Edgar’s public outing. The UN and several superheroes began working together to take down Lockhart and his main co-conspirator, Ramses Hondo, while a number of his businesses came under investigation and great scrutiny.
Edgar was ready for all of this fallout, as he mobilized his army of hyper-mercenaries to help defend against the heroes, and relied on his business sharks, like Reina Valencia, to handle the investigations. Additionally, he was forced to deal with a number of countries and world leaders who had previously been his allies, but who were now lending support to the UN, as they worked to bring him to justice. Many of these now-antagonistic nations were easily crushed or destabilized by Edgar’s forces, but one particular leader, Sultana of New Arabia, had become a particularly nasty thorn in his side. A number of attempts to attack and cut off the resources New Arabia was sending to the United Nations ended in failure, as aside from being a fierce hyper-human warrior herself, Sultana was backed up by an army of invincible cyborgs, called Everlasters. Fortunately for Edgar, his associate, Shefali Chisisi had infiltrated the UN, and found that the Everlasters indeed had microscopic weak points, which could most likely only be hit by extremely accurate sharpshooters. It was the perfect job for the Lockhart Force.
Brandi received the order from Edgar, and called together her fellow gunners – Caliber, Dezzie, Rosko, Doc Holiday, Chopper and Tumbleweed – on the outskirts of Random Way, an agricultural metropolis near Platinum City. She enthusiastically laid out the mission to the team. But interestingly enough, some of her fellow Lockhart Force members did not seem as eager to get on with it. In fact, watching Edgar fall from grace had prompted several of the gunners to re-evaluate their involvement with the Lockhart Force, for aside from Brandi and Rosko, the others had either been forced, coerced, blackmailed or manipulated into taking the lucrative deals the hyper-villain had offered them. It seemed that the potential destabilization of the Lockhart Empire could offer the perfect opportunity to break away. A heated discussion ensued, in which several of them listed the pros and cons of staying in Edgar’s employ.
Brandi could not believe her ears, for she had never even considered the idea of pulling away from the Lockhart Force. She first appealed to Dezzie, whose elite military training had oftentimes thrust him into a leadership position during group excursions. She reminded him of Edgar’s generosity when he forgave the debt he was owed by Dezzie’s old mentor and father figure, Mr. Ellis. Brandi then looked to Rosko, who DID back her up, but in her own understated and laid-back way. Either way, it was clear Rosko was still down for the cause. Brandi also had Chopper’s support, for despite the contentious circumstances that had brought him and Edgar together, being a part of the Lockhart Force had provided him ample opportunities to use his aggression in a focused, and lucrative manner.
Caliber, Doc and Tumbleweed, however, were going to take a little more convincing, as all three of them had considered leaving the Lockhart Force on several occasions. The killing was beginning to weigh on Caliber’s conscience; Doc was dealing with the fact that he could not be with his true love, Precious Stone, as long as he was working for Edgar; and Tumbleweed’s family had never fully agreed with his decision to join the Force, even if it did mean that his town of Random Way reaped enormous financial benefits from the deal.
Brandi reminded all of them that Edgar’s generosity was a true blessing, as he was usually not in the habit of being so giving and merciful to anyone, let alone people who had at some point either stolen from him, or tried to kill him, as was the case with several members of the Lockhart Force. She told them that despite some of the sacrifices they had made, they had all managed to have good lives, and all of that was thanks to Edgar. She further laid out that a war was coming, as Edgar Lockhart, as well as the emergence of his hyper-powered sister, London Omega, had sent the world into a panic, with the United Nations and the POTUS, Enid Remington moving to bring widespread change to the way hyper-beings were dealt with in society. Pulling away from the Lockhart Force could put them on the losing side of that war. And finally, Brandi reinforced the fact that their contracts with Lockhart were essentially written in blood – which meant things would eventually end badly for anyone who broke off.
After a few more minutes of deliberation, (and Brandi’s urging) they all agreed that the best course of action was to stay the course, and with that, the Lockhart Force geared up and traveled to New Arabia. They arrived at their strike point, and surveyed the area. The mission was to break through the perimeter defenses, make their way to the Capitol Complex, and blow it up, thereby destroying New Arabia’s main armory and weapons production facility, and subsequently cutting off the country’s primary method of support to the UN’s efforts to bring Edgar Lockhart down.
With the New Arabian borders only being patrolled by squads of human soldiers, the Lockhart Force gunner squad made short work of the mission’s first phase. They commandeered a foursome of jeeps, and as Brandi, Dezzie and Chopper drove, Doc, Tumbleweed and Rosko (respectively), rode shotgun, and easily gunned down the opposing vehicles that attempted to knock them off course. Caliber also drove a jeep, but his ability to drive and shoot simultaneously allowed him to go at it solo.
They arrived at the Capitol Complex, and that’s when they were met by Sultana, and an army of Everlaster cyborgs. The robots were ten feet tall, and outfitted with a space-age armor, which made them impossible to take down with straightforward strength or force. The Lockhart Force would have to key in on their microscopic weak spots, which were located on the back of their heads. Sultana gave the order to crush the intruders, and the Everlasters opened fire! A ridiculous barrage of deadly projectiles forced the gunners back at first, but it didn’t take long for Dezzie to lay out a plan that would bring them success…
Chopper, who possessed a hyper-ability which allowed him to absorb impact, would jump right into the middle of the fray, and shock the Everlasters with his own explosive barrage of bullets; Dezzie and Brandi would dive in next, and use their close-quarter combat skills to disorient and distract the Everlasters; Doc, Tumbleweed and Rosko would then use their superior accuracy skills to hit the Everlaster weak spots; and Caliber would find a long-range position, and use his unmatched sniper skills to pick off targets.
The plan worked to a tee, as dozens and dozens of Everlasters were destroyed by the mighty Lockhart Force. Before long, the defenses had opened up enough for the bombs to be planted. Brandi broke away from the main battle, and headed for the heart of the Capitol Complex. But as she arrived at her strike point, she was met by the ruler of New Arabia herself, Sultana.
Sultana possessed enhanced speed and agility, and was a master swordswoman. She immediately attacked Brandi, who countered with her Gun-Kata technique. The two women battled each other relentlessly for several minutes, until Brandi finally gained the upper hand, and injured New Arabia’s queen with a combination of a chop to the neck and a shot to the left leg. With Sultana down, Ms. Beretta took a moment to gather herself, then took aim at her adversary’s head. But a small contingent of Everlasters suddenly showed up and attacked!. Brandi managed to take them down, but it gave Sultana an opportunity to escape.
The young gunner could have chased after her, but the primary objective was to blow up the complex. And so, she set up the particle bomb she had been carrying, and sprinted back outside. The rest of the Lockhart Force were finishing off the last of the Everlaster cyborgs, when Brandi appeared and signaled to Dezzie that it was time to go. The lead gunner gave the order to fall back, and moments later the seven of them were standing off in the distance, watching New Arabia’s Capitol Complex burst into flames. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
Brandi pulled out her phone, and called her boss to report that another one of his enemies had been neutralized. She then let him know that she had succeeded in her primary mission as well – to keep the Lockhart Force together, focused, and ready for action.