Captain Liberty used the door to knock on the drunken hoodlum and the guy crumpled to the floor under the impact.
Silver Scorpion, in the adjoining secret room, opened the black case and found, lying in some padding inside, were three tiny metal capsules, each sealed but hinged to open if pried...or on impact.
Another room away, after taking some time to get used to freedom again, Tommy took stock of the situation. He could hear the sound of battle outside, and hesitated. The room was nice and dark. He felt safe. Did he really want to get into the middle of a gunfight? He was just a kid, barely 19!
But something was different. There was someone else with him. Alpha-Woman. As Tommy admired her long hair and soft features, he felt a twinge. Love? Maybe more like admiration. Or perhaps some sympathy for a fellow captive. He alternated between trying to revive her and untie her.
While, out in the chapel, the gunman on the opposite balcony saw what the Mountain Man did to one balcony and decided not to remain standing on his balcony. He disappeared from view on the upper level. The two brawny guards remaining started crying like sissies with "Don't hurt me!" and "Rooster, save us!"
Then the tapestries on the west wall parted and two people stepped out. One was the old man from the dais last night and, beside him, a beautiful, long-haired woman. They were both dressed all in white. The old man appeared to be unarmed, but the long-haired woman was holding a sub-machine gun.
"I think it is time we all talked," the old man said.
The Mountain Man restrained himself from charging headlong at this man. He would hear what he had to say.
Rudy Malefor said, "Sure, let’s talk; where have you taken my comrades and what do you plan on doing with the prisoners?"
The man and the woman, both dressed identically in white turtlenecks and slacks, stepped further into the middle of the chapel. The woman held her M1 Thompson leveled in the general direction of the heroes, but mainly at the Mountain Man.
The running soundtrack playing through the temple erupted into a series of rooster crows. No one could hear what the old man said to the woman over the noise, but she walked sideways to the concealed door, parted the tapestry, and waved -- with the barrel of the gun -- for Silver Scorpion to step out and join the others. Silver was able to conceal the black case before she complied. The woman stepped into the control room, flipped some switches, and the lights went back to normal and the loud noises stop. Then she stepped back out.
Silver Scorpion joined the Mountain Man, Captain Liberty, and Agent Malefor as they all waited to parlay.
"That's better," the man said. "As I am sure you are by now aware, your presence here is disrupting some very important plans of ours. Make no mistake, I do not doubt in the least that we can defeat you. In fact, I'd daresay that Lt. Raupp here could take you all single-handedly," he said, and the woman nodded. "But, suffice to say, we are on a tight schedule and really can't afford to waste more time cleaning up this fiasco."
Agent Malefor again pressed him with his questions.
"We have two of your more -- shall we say colorful? -- comrades safely in our custody,” the old man said. “Any of your comrades we had before them have, I regret to inform you, been sacrificed. None of you need share their fate. In fact, I am prepared to buy your cooperation. I shall hand the lot of you $500 in cash. You will walk out of here with our remaining prisoners and never come back. Would that be adequate...compensation for the loss of your comrades?"
Meanwhile, Tommy resisted his teenage urges and untied Alpha-Woman. But, sadly, she could be so easily awoken. Her injuries seemed to be more serious than they appeared. Tommy sighed at his brief but futile effort. With a look at the door, he seemed to make up his mind. Mask or no mask, he needed to escape. Whether to help the other heroes or just to get out of this whole township, even he was not sure yet. He tried the door, hoping to find it unlocked.
Back in the chapel, Agent Malefor replied first. "Five hundred dollars is a pittance; that woman saved me and took my place in the cell." He paused to take a breath. "I am not leaving the prisoners here for you to sacrifice. I am going to get them back. As for my comrades, they died for the team and I am proud of them. But you aren't taking out these…” Malefor looked around at his new comrades-in-arms, unsure of what to call them, “…people either."
"Hmmm...” the Mountain Man mused noisily. “Five hundred dollars might be a start....Although, how will you keep secret the ‘magic’ you use in your ceremonies from all those yokels outside?"
Silver Scorpion, for her part, struggled to stifle a laugh at the offer presented. Did this clown really think he could just buy them off? The only real question was whether she should play along with their little game in order to free her two comrades, then return back later to continue kicking some butts. She kept a careful eye on 'Lt. Raupp', who would be her first target if events took a turn.
The old man smiled and said, "My offer at $500 stands. If you're interested, follow me. If you're not, then you may feel free to take your chances with the Lieutenant here." The man then turned towards Willy’s office.
Black Cat by Steve Rude
8 hours ago