Inside, the motel was staffed by a big man with flame-red hair and a leathery face, and his homely, mousy wife with a really big head of blonde hair on her. Dice, The Daoist, and Gandor the Great did not faze them much, but the more unusual appearance of The Mountain Man and Sewer Rat made the wife shrink back behind her husband.
"New recruits, Jason," Milo said, gesturing to them all.
"Then rooms are on the house," Jason -- obviously the red-haired man – responded.
Sewer Rat had followed them back, a bit irked at the walking he had to do. Travel was hard when keeping stealthy. He lurked outside the building, waiting for the best opportunity to contact his teammates. When the coast was clear, he snuck inside.
The Mountain Man planned to do a little investigating to make sure the group wasn't being set up or being watched before going to bed. He was glad to see Sewer Rat as he had done his reconnaissance for him. After asking his questions, the Mountain Man learned that the proprietor of the motel was watching their rooms from his office window.
"Now I wish I'd brought playing cards," Gandor the Great half-joked. "How long should we follow this 'recruits' ruse--"
"I think once we're in the front entryway we could commence with the …prearranged methods," The Mountain Man said in his gravelly voice, to cut Gandor off. He was nervous about being overheard and wished to keep conversation to innuendo. Or was that excitement instead of nervousness? His expression and body language did not show it, but he was really enjoying getting into the role of being a hero like in the dime store pulp novels.
Dice Morgan got bored quickly sitting around in a cramped room with no dames. He took out a deck of cards and pulled off a few flashy shuffling tricks. "Awright, gents. The game is Texas hold 'em. Anybody ready ta’ lose some money?"
"I daresay I have some spare change on me," Gandor said. "This 'Texas Hold Em' is some variant of poker, yes?"
The Mountain Man decided to play and use it as an opportunity to gauge his companions.
Dice Morgan found that The Mountain Man and Gandor the Great were both reasonably proficient at poker, but he was able to use their unfamiliarity with these obscure variant rules to his advantage.
Sewer Rat was uncomfortable in the closed quarters with other people and grew quiet. The Daoist, too, stood stoically silent by the window and watched the dark, quiet street outside.
Silver Scorpion's motorcycle best handled the dirt road leading out to Highland Township from Lake Superior's shoreline. Alpha-Woman's unadorned Chevy followed, with Captain Liberty's customized and colorful car behind hers. It was midnight when they reached what appeared to be a ghost town, save for a few lights on in the Highland Inn.
The Daoist spotted what appeared to be a small parade of vehicles pulling up to the motel. He could not see the drivers of the two cars yet, but the motorcycle driver appeared to be a woman in tight silver coveralls.
Silver Scorpion drove her bike up to the motel parking lot and parked it, then got off and waited for Alpha-Woman and Capt. Liberty to park and get out. "We may as well stay here, this place looks like a ghost town and we won't be able to find anything out until morning anyway," she said.
"Yeah, looks like we are staying here,” Alpha-Woman said. “I am going to go get a room. Should I pick out one with two beds, or are you bunking alone?"
Inside, Dice collected his winnings with a smug look. "Pleasure doin' business wit' ya, gentlemen." He glanced for a second at what could be holding the Daoist's interests out the window, then turned back to the dough in his hands. Then he did a double-take and stared out the window with renewed interest. "Holey smoke! Dames!" Completely forgetting the whole situation the group was in, he spiffed up his collar and headed for the door.
The Daoist turned away from the window and related what he saw to the others, unsure of exactly what was going on. "Either the Rooster's minions are on to us, or the cavar-ry has just arrived," he said.
The Mountain Man, who had only bet on poker what he could afford to lose, settled back into his chair and it creaked ominously. His craggy features and mountainous physique settled and the other heroes could see how he had gotten his name. He waited to see what would come of these new arrivals.
Dice Morgan was outside and introducing himself to Alpha-Woman and Silver Scorpion so fast the others half-suspected he had super-speed. Dice was charming and flirtatious, though Silver Scorpion was all business and Alpha-Woman seemed more interested in getting a room and taking a shower. When Dice offered to help her with that, he showed his true colors and the women were easily able to brush off his advances.
Less easy to deal with was explaining their mission to each other. Silver Scorpion and Alpha-Woman tried to evade Dice's queries about what brought them to Highland and Dice, for his part, was equally evasive back. Silver Scorpion and Captain Liberty were obviously superhero-types by their colorful outfits, though Capt. Liberty hung back and said little.
Although Dice did not seem like vigilante material to the lady vigilantes, these new eccentric-looking characters might be the vigilantes they were looking for. Finally, some direct questions revealed to the two groups that they were here to meet and team-up with each other.
While this give and take was going on, The Daoist and Sewer Rat left to go to a separate room for the night.
With that out of the way, more rooms were procured from Jason, the motel proprietor, and everyone agreed to work together in the morning.
Around 1 am, the Mountain Man and Dice Morgan could not sleep so they step outside for a smoke. When they were out there, they noticed Sewer Rat, still in his wet suit and mask, compulsively going through a garbage can out in front of the motel. Alpha-Woman, too, had trouble sleeping and happened to look out the window and saw the gathering of her would-be allies.
Just then, the four Heroes who were up noticed a group of eight men approaching the motel. Five of the men were the same as the group that had been with Milo earlier and were still armed with their hunting rifles.
Alpha-Woman shook Silver Scorpion awake. Then she put an undershirt on over her flannel shirt. The letter A was printed on the undershirt -- her only costume. "Hurry and dress," she told Silver Scorpion. "There could be trouble outside." Then she ran next door and pounded on Captain Liberty's door, trying to wake him up.
Man Thing by Jim Cheung
19 hours ago