Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary
Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana
The jeep bounced up and down the dirt road, carrying the driver and the passenger up on the hill towards the prison. The hill the facility sat on is the highest point for miles. Swampland and bayous stretched out all around as far as the eye can see.
"We don't need no electric fence with that there swamp," the driver said in a twangy Louisiana accent. "As many of them gone in there, ain't none of them ever come out."
The driver parked at the front of the prison and lead his escorts past the checkpoints to the warden's office. Inside the office, an elderly white man and a middle aged black woman sat.
"Lieutenant Colonel Flag," the man said with a smile. "I'm Warden Jasper."
Flag shook the warden's hand and turned to the woman.
"Amanda Waller," she said, not offering hand to shake. "I'm with the DoD."
"Good," Flag said. "Maybe you can finally tell me what the hell is going on. The hell is the DoD doing at a prison? Why the hell am I here?"
"Belle Reve prison is home to the DoD's Humanitarian Outreach Division, Task Force X-Ray."
"....Right, so...what do we do here?"
Waller flashed a smirk and leaned back in her chair.
"We work with the most dangerous and deadly prisoners here. Outreach to the metahuman criminals here and work with them on how to readjust to society."
"Huh," said Flag. "I was under the impression that I was going to be a military adviser... umm, where does that come into play?"
"That's right, I forgot one slight detail...we help these violent prisoners readjust by making them work for the government, offering them a chance at freedom by doing black operations where the casualty estimates are sixty percent or higher."
Flag stared at Waller impassively, unsure if the woman was serious.
"That's right," Waller said, anticipating the questions Flag had. "That's what we do here. Welcome to Task Force X-Ray....better known as the Suicide Squad."
Flag followed Waller down the halls of the prison's lower levels. They walked through the dimly lit and dank corridors as she laid it all out to him.
"Task Force X was created by the Department of Defense in 2002. The original group was made up of elite special forces from the US armed forces. It's original targets were members of Islamic terrorist organizations and any other threats to the safety of the country and world. It lasted for one mission, a disaster in Iraq that ended with the whole team being executed by pro Saddam forces. The Joint Chiefs shut it down soon after."
"So what happened?" Flag asked as they turned a corner. "If it was a flop, why am I here?"
"Right. Fast forward to 2008. A high ranking official in the CIA -- who shall remain unnamed," she added. "She used her political clout to have Task Force X restarted with a bold new strategy. With the rising number of metahumans and metahuman crime, the new Task Force X would be staffed with the most dangerous metahumans on the planet and sent on missions intended for special forces."
"Why waste a highly trained soldier when you can send out a scumbag nobody's going to miss?" asked Flag.
"Exactly. So Task Force X was brought in under the CIA's authority. We give intel and supervise the missions while the field leader takes charge in the field."
"And you find a criminal you trust enough to actually lead them?"
"Not exactly, Colonel," she said with a wry smile. "We usually pick the field leader from the military. A highly trained special forces operative who knows how to handle themselves in the field... Colonel."
Flag stopped walking and closed his eyes.
"Son of a bitch! I'm not going to be a military adviser, am I?"
"Sorry for keeping my cards close, Colonel," said Waller with shrug. "But do you honestly think you would have went with me this far if you knew you were leading them from the start?"
"You said these people are dangerous criminals with powers. They're offered early release, but that isn't enough to keep them completely behaved. What's to stop them from killing me and running amok?"
Waller shook her head and motioned for Flag to follow.
"That's the beauty of the Suicide Squad, Colonel. While we employ the carrot, we are also very much in favor of the stick. Walk with me, you'll see."
A few minutes later, they arrived in the Belle Reve prison.
"This is you."
Flag looked around at his surroundings. The basement was damp and poorly lit. There were a few computer monitors and a desk, but that was it.
"So when do I see the rest of the team?"
"Right now, you are the team. The last mission....it...uhh, it didn't pan out like we hoped. We had a few casualties."
"Of the five members?" asked Waller, scratching the back of her neck. "Well, three died on the mission. Two of them were wounded. One of the two tried to escape the prison and we had to give her the stick. Turner is the only one still alive. Let's go see him shall we?"
Waller and Flag headed down into another corridor and made their way to the infirmary. A black man in a hospital bed was the only patient inside the infirmary, the rest of the beds empty. Off to the side, an orderly scrubbed blood off the wall...a lot of blood.
"See that right there?" Waller asked as she pointed towards the blood. "That is what's left of Livewire. She tried to electrocute the guards. We had no option to but to activate countermeasures."
"What did you do, beat her to death?"
"No, God no," Waller said with a scowl. "That's barbaric... No, each criminal member of the squad has a small device drilled into their head. If they try to escape, try to harm their field leader, or disobey orders we activate the device and it sends a sonic pulse through their cranium until their head explodes."
"Oh, well that's much more humane," Flag quipped.
"Told her not to," the black man said as he sat upright in the bed. "She wouldn't listen. Thought she could short circuit the bomb with electricity. Her goddamn head looked like a melon exploding. Remember that guy from the 80's? Gallagher? Looked like he took a mallet to her head."
"Told you all from the beginning," said Waller. "There's no way to tamper with the bombs and any attempts to tamper with it will cause it to self-destruct. Turner, this is your new field leader, US Army Lieutenant Colonel Rick Flag. Flag, this is Ben Turner, aka Bronze Tiger. One of the few members of Suicide Squad that's actually had any common sense."
Flag held his hand out for Turner to shake. Turner blinked at the open hand before he turned to Waller.
"Listen, I'm pissing blood. That shrapnel tore a hole in one of my kidneys. I had it removed. This can't get my number up?"
"I'm sorry, Turner," Waller said with a shake of her head. "You know the rules. You still got six more jobs to pull before you're done."
Turner shook his head and muttered under his breath. Waller touched Flag's shoulder and guided him out of the room.
"Get better soon, Turner."
Waller and Flag walked back down to the basement office where Waller pulled out a stack of folders from the desk. The folders landed on the desktop with a thump.
"I've been going through these names the past week and a half. Going over criminal histories, psych evaluations, seeing who would work and who won't. I want you to go through the names and compile a list. No more than ten names."
"This if for the new team?"
"Exactly. Read up and have a report ready for me by tomorrow afternoon. Day after tomorrow, we go recruiting."