[Dice Morgan became the first hero to be rendered unconscious a second time, a record that would only climb in the sessions ahead. Alpha-Woman was still being played separately and solo. Our Sewer Rat player was on hiatus from us while his hero was captured. Oddly, the heroes never seemed to notice he was missing.]
"Here, both of you, take these." The Mountain Man handed both Gandor and Silver Scorpion one of the healing pills from the FBI. "Let's keep resting here unless they get within 500 yards of us, then we'll move further away."
The G-Man at the motel had not been kidding; those healing pills really worked. Not long after taking them, Gandor and Silver felt great, like they were ready to take on the world!
"Wow, what happened?” Silver Scorpion asked at last, the pill clearing her head as well. “Thanks for that pill. I feel great! So when are we going back to finish them off?" she asked enthusiastically.
“I’m not sure about that,” the Mountain Man said. He had already determined that the patrols had reached his 500-yard mark and were getting too close, so he got everyone up and convinced them to move further back into the woods. En route, Dice Morgan woke up over somebody's shoulder.
"Say, where's Alpha-Woman?" Silver Scorpion asked after a quick survey of her companions.
Meanwhile, Alpha-Woman was awake now as well. She seemed to be in a cell with no daylight in sight from her door’s window. Needing to rest anyway, she waited for someone to show up to question her.
“She went into the temple alone and we haven't seen her,” the Mountain Man was answering Silver Scorpion outside. “I am eager to return as well, but I think we should wait until things calm down before we try this again."
Silver-Scorpion's readiness to return to the temple was doubled on learning of Alpha-Woman being lost to the enemy, but the others counseled her to patience. Her and Gandor the Great, now fully healed, took over on watch while the others waited for time to heal naturally as chemistry had allowed Silver and Gandor to do quickly.
Morning came, but no one could rest another moment, so nauseous was everyone from hunger. The Mountain Man was forced to hunt down a squirrel with his hatchet, crudely skin it and cook it over the smallest fire he could make. Dice was tempted to make a crack about how he'd gladly trade squirrel meat for a hot dog, but was too weak and hungry to get it out.
Later, Captain Liberty had snagged his cape for the third time on a tree branch when the Daiost returned from scouting in animal form. He encountered no patrols within 200 yards of the camp. It was about 8 o’clock in the morning when the remaining heroes gathered around the extinguished fire to discuss their plans.
"So what do you all think? Another assault?" Silver Scorpion asked eagerly. "Even if they didn't know we were coming last time, they are sure to be ready for us now. But I cannot think of any more subtle plan. Who knows what atrocities Alpha-Woman is enduring even at this moment? We must go to her rescue!"
"I ‘agwee,” the Daoist said. “We must save her. Maybe we find a hidden door?"
"It might be easy to waylay a patrol and take their clothes and disguise ourselves until we are inside,” the Mountain Man said. “Then we don't have to wait until nightfall for another assault."
Everyone seemed to like the Mountain Man's suggestion, and they could always look for a hidden door once disguised. So the heroes broke camp and headed off to go find one of those patrols they kept seeing in the distance all night. Either the patrols had thinned out by daybreak, though, or they were concentrating on other sections of the forest, because after a half-hour they still had not spotted any in the forest.
Just then, Dice Morgan started to scream. Everyone looked and saw Dice had just stepped into a bear trap. After the screaming, he blacked out from the pain. Then everyone heard a twig snap. The Daiost was about to say it looked like a trap when bullets start flying. The bullets whizzed past Gandor the Great and Captain Liberty the closest. The bullets were coming from some bushes that their foes were using for cover, some 30 feet away. There were a few trees between the two parties that served as partial cover as well.
The Mountain Man's body again took on the craggy look of a cliff face as he charged toward the hidden attackers, hatchet held low for an upward swing at the first enemy he saw.
Silver Scorpion joined the Mountain Man as she unhesitatingly charged towards the bushes, moving at full speed and ready to lash out at the first visible foe.
The two gunmen in hiding fired at the charging Silver Scorpion, because she was moving fastest, and Captain Liberty, because his bright costume made a good target. A bullet sailed an inch away from Silver Scorpion's shoulder while Captain Liberty was scarred by a bullet that winged him and left another tear through costume and flesh.
Silver Scorpion reached the bushes, silver knife in hand, and slashed the arm of a gunman in a red and black plaid winter coat, with a red hunter’s cap on his head, seriously injuring him and making him drop his rifle. The Mountain Man was on them a moment later, swinging his hatchet in an upward swing at a gunman with a brown leather jacket and a yellow hunters cap on. The hatchet caught him in the chin right where the haft met the blade. Both cut and bruised, the man went down howling in pain.
The Daoist transformed himself into the guise of a wolf and began stalking his way through the brush toward the gunmen, hoping to use the cover of the forest to provide a measure of safety.
Captain Liberty, though slowed by the fresh injury, was shortly at Silver Scorpion's side, putting up his fists and chasing the remaining hunter around the bush. The hunter ran smack into the wolf that was the Daoist, who had just now crept onto the scene. The Daoist pounced on the hunter and savaged him with his teeth until the man lost consciousness.
There was no sign of other hunters, mobsters, or other cultists around.
Behind them, Gandor the Great pried the bear trap open with a stick and pulled it off of Dice Morgan's leg.
The Mountain Man took one of the men's hunting jackets and caps and stuffed them in his pack for the time being. He also grabbed the hunting rifles. "We can stash these somewhere so they can't be used if anybody finds these guys. We'll need more of these disguises, though." He continued searching the men for anything else useful, but turned up nothing.
Gesturing to himself and Silver Scorpion, the Daoist searched for a word for a moment, before saying, "Prisoners?”
The Mountain Man, inexpressive as always, just stared at the Daoist for a moment before simply nodding in agreement. He handed one of the rifles to Captain Liberty and put on his hunter disguise.
"Ha ha!” Silver Scorpion laughed. “Yes, I don't think I'd be able to pass myself off as a hunter! We should probably use some rope so that we'll look tied up, but can easily slip out when the time comes."
"What about Dice Morgan?" The Mountain Man added to the discussion.
"I can remain behind and watch our friend Morgan here,” Gandor the Great said. “Don't forget, we have one last healing pill left from the G-Men. I could hold it for Morgan when he wakes, or maybe you'll want to let Captain Liberty here have it. He looks to be in pretty bad shape."
"Yes, Gandor,” the Mountain Man said, “why don't you stay with Dice Morgan. Captain Liberty, do you want the pill?"
Man Thing by Jim Cheung
19 hours ago