[I don't normally fudge things much as a DM/Editor, but I was dangerously close enough to a TPK at this point that I did...]
The Daoist assumed the form of a mountain lion once again and pounced on the apparently rather capable guard, hoping to catch him unaware.
Dice Morgan and the Daiost had the lone gunmen cornered in the east tower. The gunmen seemed so despondent over shooting Silver Scorpion that he might have surrendered. When they both moved to attack him, however, the man snapped back into action. He blocked Dice’s attempt to stiff-arm the guy in the chest and then tried to bring his own rifle up to shoot. The Daoist, though intimidating in mountain lion form, could not get into close quarters with Dice stepping in the way. The three-way jostling for room in the cramped interior soon ended with this incredibly lethal killer -- with two notches on his belt already – managing to raise his gun between himself and Dice and firing a bullet that grazed Dice's temple and knocked him unconscious. Dice fell onto the mound of fallen heroes.
"So far, there have only been a few gunshots,” the Mountain Man was saying, just as the shot that felled Dice rang in the distance. “So far as I can tell that kind of sound effects aren't likely to be all that uncommon around here with the way those folks in the settlement were carrying on," The Mountain Man stood so still he was hard to see, but as a bit of darkness in front of more darkness. "I'm not going to keep arguing with you. We'll be along to get you out of whatever trouble you get into presently." The Mountain Man then set about trussing the men to opposite ends of the portcullis with their shirts, making sure they were out of reach of the winch.
The argument between the Mountain Man and Alpha-Woman ended with them further dividing forces. While the Mountain Man trussed up the guards, Alpha-Woman burst through the front door of the temple with her confiscated automatic rifle in hand. She saw a carpeted, 30-foot long, 10-foot wide entry hall that led to a large, well-lit chamber that appeared to be the chapel proper. And an inhabited one. Between her and the chapel were two other ways to go. Just before the chapel was a door on her right. Immediately to her left was a short hallway leading to a ladder going up and -- just before the ladder -- another side door.
Alpha-Woman hesitated, deciding where to go, when she saw a gunman holding a revolver to either side of the entrance to the chapel. Alpha-Woman opened fire, shooting one of the men and dropping him. Alpha-Woman dodged a return shot and sprayed more bullets into the chapel, only winging the other gunmen. Then she went left down the side hall, skipped the door, and went up the ladder.
Back out in the garden, Captain Liberty snapped out of freezing up. How could I have frozen in combat like a coward? He thought angrily. I must regain my honor. Hearing more gunfire coming from the temple, he decided to sprint in that direction.
Back at the watch tower, it was all down to the Daoist now. In other circumstances, he might have fled from this incredibly talented – or extremely lucky -- killer, but he would not leave his new companions in their current state. All he could do was to press the attack and try to take down this foe, who seemed like a crazed ninja-assassin before he ended up as another one of his victims.
The gunman tried to take quick aim and said, "I don't know where you came from, kitty, but I've shot big animals before..."
But before he could get off his shot the Daoist makes his move, lunged -- and missed. At least his lunge threw off the gunman's aim and made him miss too. The Daoist danced around his fallen comrades, being careful not to rake them with his claws, while he continued to throw off his foe's aim.
Meanwhile, Captain Liberty ducked under the low portcullis and helped the Mountain Man truss up the last of the two guards. Captain Liberty made it clear that he planned to go into the temple and the Mountain Man, with a sense of deja vu, began to share his explanation for why he should not. Or at least he tried to over the din coming from inside the temple.
Alpha-Woman, for her part, was hiding in an empty upstairs room, for the moment safe from bad guys. She had moved a desk in front of a door to barricade herself in and watched the trap door on the floor closely.
Back at the west watch tower, Sewer Rat had been training the spotlight on the east tower and trying to blind the gunman fighting the mountain lion. Having only succeeded in illuminating the battle better, he raced down the ladder and to the east tower.
In the east tower, the Daoist kept up the fight, as he saw no other good options. It continued until Sewer Rat popped his head up from under the trap door leading into the watchtower.
"Where are all these people coming from?" the Lone Gunman cried.
The Daoist pounced again, but could not land a claw on his foe without putting himself right in the path of that gun barrel. Again, he barely dodges a bullet. The Lone Gunman was about to fire again when nothing happened. His magazine was either empty or had jammed. Suddenly looking scared, the Lone Gunman jumped out of the side of the watchtower into the pond below before anyone could stop him.
The Mountain Man cut his debate with Captain Liberty short and turned at the sound of the Lone Gunman landing in the pond. By the light from the west tower, he was able to keep track of only one moving hero…and a lion? He rushed out in the darkness to see if he could help.
Sewer Rat climbed down the ladder to get out of the way. He did not know much about what happened after fighting bad-guys, as he usually let the police handle that. While crossing the garden to the temple, he crossed the Mountain Man’s path, heading in the opposite direction. The Mountain Man called over to him and told him not to go in yet.
Once he reached the top of the watchtower, the Mountain Man found the Daoist standing alone over their unconscious companions. Having transformed back into his human form, the Daoist looked over his fallen companions, judged who was hurt worst, and helping that person – it was Silver Scorpion -- first. He ripped off pieces of his robe to staunch the bleeding he could. The Mountain Man said nothing to him, but picked up one of the unconscious bodies – Dice’s -- and shimmied back down the ladder to the ground with his burden.
Captain liberty and Sewer Rat stood outside the temple, quietly debating whether they should go in without the others. The silence of the courtyard was broken minutes later by the echoes of gunfire seemingly coming from the second floor of the temple.
Minutes passed. The Daoist had, by now, dressed everyone’s wounds. Luckily everyone were fast clotters. As far as he and the Mountain Man could tell, it was safe to move everyone out of the tower and down to the gardens where everyone could be hidden.
"Daoist, they'll be out for a while,” the Mountain Man said. “Let's take them with us until we can find a safe place to conceal them." With that, the Mountain Man began carrying his unconscious fellows one-by-one towards the temple entrance.
The Daoist nodded his agreement and aided his large friend in carrying the fallen heroes to safety.
The Mountain Man and the Daoist had little trouble moving their fallen comrades across the gardens. The Mountain Man slung Dice and Gandor over each shoulder, while the Daoist held Silver Scorpion more gingerly. After crossing the bridge over the moat, the three unconscious heroes were laid on the courtyard ground well off to the side of the front doors. It had been almost 10 minutes since Alpha-Woman went in when the Mountain Man, the Daoist, Sewer Rat, and Captain Liberty agreed -- with few words needing to be said between them -- to risk going ahead with the plan of rescuing the missing G-Men and, quite possibly, also Alpha-Woman. These men looked to each other one last time, observing the looks of resolution and determination on each other's faces. Each man nodded his assent as Captain Liberty threw open the doors to the temple.
The layout was not that of a traditional church, though there appeared to be a chapel at the end of the long and fairly crowded entry hall. At the far end, standing by an open side door and blocking their way to the chapel, were three guys dressed like urban mobsters holding semi-automatic rifles. In the side hall to their left was a rural-type with a truncheon in his hand. Another one was coming down a ladder behind him from the upper level. Their entrance was certainly noticed and their opponents were all at least 20 feet away in either direction.
Groovy Christmases Past: 1974
3 hours ago