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  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Villains & Vigilantes | The Revolution | Fifty Years Ago | First Night |





    "Oh, very much. It's been unusual. I've seen things here that I've never seen before."
    "We'll be seeing you tonight, sir."
    "'Til then." He hung up the phone, growling. Well, at least he was polite.
    Hunter paced in his hotel room. It was just too easy. A kidnapping, but with someone other than Fitzgerald as the target? A crime elsewhere in the city while the police were distracted? He went to the library, pulled out a map, and began looking for other correspondences for the numbers.
    The Fitzgerald family mansion occupied numbers 123-125 on Washington Terrace. It was oceanfront property with a private dock.
    The only thing that was going to happen at that theater tonight was a play.
    He called Argus and told her what he'd found.
    "Brilliant," she allowed. "Shall we call in our flamboyant comrade?"
    She did that.
    "Hm. I went to some trouble to make reservations, too," he sighed.
    "You are perfectly free to attend the show if you so desire."
    "No, to tell the truth I wasn't looking forward that much to it. I'd much rather beat up the Muse. Do we have a time?"
    "Unfortunately no, Presumably, they will strike while the police are otherwise occupied." The Muse would in fact almost certainly time this to coincide with Act I, at 7:15. "That gives us some time to get into position."
    That left her to decide whether or not to inform the police, knowing quite well that whatever she did they wouldn't be happy about it, but in the end decided to call them. She called her lieutenant, who wrote out a note about the where and when, and that if they saw any beautiful young women they should take them in for questioning. He dropped it on someone else's desk while no one was there. As soon as its occupant returned and saw it, "My God, the chief has to see this! Get this in to the chief right away!" he told the beautiful young secretary, who smiled and replied, "I'm on my way out for the night, but that's no problem."
    Madison called the Pilgrim and told them that he had just gotten an emergency call from LA and would not be able to attend the performance after all, assured them that this had nothing to do with the police being present, and accepted their promise of complimentary tickets for whatever was playing when he was next in town. As if.
    The three vigilantes decided to move into position well ahead of time. It was harder to get around than expected; the wealthy neighborhood was well-patrolled by police and the mansion itself had a crew of private security guards who might well present a problem.
    Plans were nevertheless made. The White Rose, haunter of shadows, would stake out the boat to meet the villains on their return, and prevent their escape without endangering civilians.
    "You two stay by the dock," Vanguard nodded. "When they hit you, I can swoop in on the autogyro, use my stun cannon to knock out whoever they've got on the bridge, and disable the boat."
    "Your stun cannon?" Her eyebrows went up.
    "Yes, my sonic stun cannon. I use it to disable large crowds of thugs."
    They took their positions. Vanguard parked his flying machine in a stand of trees near the house. The White Rose waited by the dock. In the water, ignoring the cold.
    Argus made a few calls. Fitzgerald kept two security guards on site; two more had been added for the duration of his sabbatical, to safeguard the valuable manuscripts he was translating. One of them called in sick at the last moment (thanks to a misadventure that befell his noon meal).
    "Oh, you're calling in sick, too?" his boss sighed. "Oh, this is insane, Pauli just called in!"
    "What, he's sick?"
    "Well, he didn't sound sick, and I heard giggling in the background, so I think Pauli's more likely getting' laid, but he does have the sick time. I'll get another cover for you, too, and you owe me for this one!"
    The cover, of course, was one of her Eyes, a burly young man called Martin.
    She fully expected him to come out the worse for the evening, but she would arrange to have the hospital bills paid, and it would provide valuable information on the villains' styles.
    Vanguard monitored the police bands, but found no sign the locals had taken Argus' warning seriously.
    A yacht moved in toward the dock. Its name had been restored; the actress was back in character. Someone leaped from the deck to the dock with a rope in hang and tied it off, then prowled up toward the house. Six women followed, carrying very large guns.
    Watching through her binoculars from a distance, Argus saw a car pull up to the gate. The guards stopped it; one went back to the hut, made a call to the house, and then waved the car through. He then picked up the phone again, dialed a different number, and was patched through to Argus' radio.
    "Mistress, apparently the senior Fitzgerald does not constantly want for female attention. That was a young, rather attractive call girl."
    "We called up to the house, apparently she is expected."
    She checked her watch. 7:00. "Continue watching."
    "Yes, mistress."
    She watched the taxi drive up toward the house, the girl step out and be met at the door by another of the guards.
    "Seen anything?" Vanguard's voice crackled in her ears.
    "Girl just arrived. I suspect she's a distraction."
    The guard at the front of the house walked out and began moving toward the back of the house. She frowned, gnawing her lip; this might be normal procedure. 7:07. She decided to get a bit closer to the action, the silenced motorcycle coasting up to the gatehouse. After a brief conversation, the one who wasn't Martin walked off on a patrol, leaving Martin to wave her through.
    "He's on a circuit patrol of the house, he'll be back in twenty minutes," he told her.
    "Thank you." Good man, that. Argus moved slowly and silently up the drive, keeping an eye out for the patrolling guard. The plan was still to intercept them leaving; she didn't want to break into the place herself and risk getting who knew how many people caught up in who knew what kind of violence. The villains had stolen some fairly heavy ordnance, after all.

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© 2002 Rebecca J. Stevenson