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No rest for us. Apparently however the wicked get long naps. - Scott



November 3, 1987 (continued)

[Aside: WAMT Broadcast]

The four of us stared. Scott, who can't see astral forms, tried to figure out what we were all looking at.
    "Mind Lazer!" Thunderbolt muttered.
    "Always a pleasure to be recognized," he nodded graciously.
    "I didn't," Talon volunteered.
    "It certainly seems as if you've allowed things to become slightly... messy in your hometown," the German continued, ignoring him. "Not something I recommend. Are you quite finished with all of this?" He glanced around.
    "Oh yeah, they're down," Talon told him confidently.
    Mind Lazer was still looking us over. "I don't know that I've ever encountered... oh! Why, Lieutenant Photon!" he greeted Thunderbolt, who seemed to wince slightly. "It has been some time, hasn't it? Ever since that incident in Budapest. I have very fond memories of the way you left the base that we had there exploding at the last minute, it was very cinematic."
    "Thank you," Paul replied drily.
    "I am curious to know what you know about the death of Mr. Mort," he finally reached the point. No one said anything for a moment. "Please. We can surely have a civil discussion."
    Or else? "The answer is we've been kind of busy today, and we haven't actually had time to look into it yet," I told him.
    "Been a fuck of a week," Talon amplified.
    "Perfectly understandable. Fortunes of war and all of that."
    "What?" I asked Scott quietly when he tapped me on the arm.
    "Are you talking to the air for any particular reason?" he wanted to know.
    "Not now, Scott," Thunderbolt muttered.
    "Later," I seconded.
    "You can't see him?" Talon asked.
    "See who? Which would mean no."
    "We all see this floating guy up in the air," Talon told him.
    "The discussions with the android are very droll, can you save them for later?" our visitor suggested. "I'm afraid I'm on a little bit of a timetable. I just wanted to let you know that I'm perfectly willing to take what I need from the city and leave, and if you don't get in my way there won't be any problems. You have enough problems here as is, I think," he judged with a glance at the unconscious Wuxia members, "and it certainly doesn't look like you're really in sufficient shape to handle what my forces would be capable of."
    "If you don't mind my asking, what do you need?" Thunderbolt asked.
    "Oh, there are a few items, knick-knacks that I have my eye on that might be useful for my long-term plans," he replied airily. "And then of course there's the life of the woman who was foolish enough to kill one of my associates. So, just don't get in the way when we deal with Miss Hoagland and when we pick up the things that we're after, and everything should work out just fine," he smiled, then paused. "Oh, there is one last thing.... Just something I need to deal with."
    We all felt the contact, like a cold breeze directly on the brain.
    "Non. I do not think so," Albert said calmly, stepping to the front. The whisper of telepathy ceased. They stared at one another; the conversation kept going in German and French, but Thunderbolt gave us the gist later. "I'm afraid that I and my associates are going to leave this situation with all of our memories intact, despite your best efforts."
    "This is for your own good. I either modify your memories, or I'm going to be forced to kill you all. The android is a lost cause in any case."
    "No." Albert smiled slightly, secure in his strength. "As I said, I do not think so."
    They stared at one another. Albert took a short step back and braced himself on his cane, leaned forward a bit. Mind Lazer's image wavered slightly. Behind us, rock slid on rock. Standing there were a reporter and cameraman, the latter of which had just tried to lean on a pile of rubble.
    "Hi!" the reporter said brazenly.
    I moved them. Gently but without ceremony, and out of the immediate area.
    Mind Lazer went translucent; he gave Albert a scathing glance and muttered, "I simply do not have time for this now." Then he disappeared.
    Albert slumped, clearly exhausted.
    Phoenix Talon slapped him on the back. "Dude! Good job!"
    "Are you okay?" Thunderbolt asked, jumping to support the mesmerist.
    "No. But he was more hurt than he was making out," Albert whispered. "He is not so tough as I have heard."
    "I have never seen him do that before," Thunderbolt admitted.
    "What, leave?"
    "Not like that."
    Albert straightened slightly. "He is dealing with one of the greatest minds of our time. Which currently has a migraine," he added. "In that utility belt of yours, is there any aspirin?"
    "We've been hurled backward from the scene," the reporter was saying to the camera. "It looked as if Needle picked us up and threw us for some reason, but considering we—"
    "You mean she assaulted you?" Holly asked over the radio link.
    "No, Holly, I don't think so. Since we landed gently, I think it was more just attempting to remove us from a potential blast area. Wait, Mr. Silver's approaching right now."
    "So, can I help you guys with anything?" Scott asked the man, having learned that it was a good idea to explain things after moving the press without asking first.
    "Hello, Mr. Silver. How are things going in the battle with the Wuxia today?" Chris asked.
    "Well, the battle with the Wuxia appears to be over."
    "Thank heaven for that. Will you be moving on to attempt to clean up the damage that's been caused in the battle so far?"
    "I'm not entirely positive what we're going to be doing next," he admitted.
    Chris looked startled. "Have other threats arisen to menace the city today?"
    "Actually, yes."
    "Chris, we're getting a lot of glare off of him," the cameraman muttered. Scott absorbed more light, taking care of the problem.
    "Um, are all of the members of the Wuxia currently in custody?" Meyers pressed on.
    "All but one."
    "Which one eventually escaped?"
    "Yen Chu-Hsia wasn't present when we showed up here."
    "He was the one who was free before, correct?"
    "That is correct."
    "Do you think that you'll be apprehending him before the end of the day?" Scott sounded a trifle nonplussed. "In all honesty I doubt it. He's a fairly smart individual who's probably just going to go hide."
    "But you consider the overall threat of the Wuxia to have been eliminated at this time?"
    "What was happening over there?"
    "Well, not being human I wasn't privy to it, but it appears to have been a telepathic conversation with Mind Lazer."
    "With who?"
    Through the studio link he could hear Holly say, "WHAT?!" and then add for the benefit of the viewing public, "For those of you who aren't aware, Mind Lazer is a German telepath who is the leader of the international terrorist organization League of Nations."
    "You mean the League of Nations is operating in Boston again?" Chris asked.
    "Apparently," Scott replied. "We've been a little busy with the Wuxia incident, but there were indications that they may be becoming active again that we have not currently had time to look into."
    "So this is what you'll be doing with the rest of the day, then?"
    "I am expecting to."
    "Well, in that case we wish you all the best of luck. Do you have anything you'd like to say to our viewers while we have you here?"
    "And that's the terse final comment from Scott Silver of the Revolution, who's letting us know that the threat of the Wuxia seems to have passed, but the international terrorist organization League of Nations seems to be planning some sort of activity in the city of Boston, so I'm afraid our Day of Fire continues. Back to you at the studio."

[Aside: WAMT Broadcast]

    Scott rejoined us.
    "So, what do you think he's after?" Talon wondered.
    "Aside from Ms. Hoagland? I assume no one's seen her?" I shrugged. "And before you say it Phoenix, no, we are not going to let them kill her."
    "Just trying to prioritize here. I mean, she did kill Mr. Mort."
    "She has been accused of killing Mr. Mort," I corrected. And while it certainly seemed likely that she had, these niceties are important.
    "Didn't she fly away?"
    "That's not against the law," I sighed.
    "Nor is hiding the fact that you have wings," Scott added. "Now, being a pompous, subtly bigoted author should probably be against the law."
    Talon was willing to let it go. "The other part of this little puzzle is that he's looking for stuff that will give him power. I think we've got to concentrate on that first."
    "Since we don't know where Hoagland is anyway, yes," I agreed. "Stuff they want. Your guys in the base said that they have two other hidey-holes, didn't they?"
    "They should."
    "So presumably they'll be clearing those out and going after anything in the city that they want."
    "It depends on what's in them. I don't know if they'd bother to clear them out or not. If it's just like that weapons depot, it would be easier to write it off. It's not all that expensive to build a place that just makes guns." At least if your budget is the size of the League's, anyway. "I don't suppose you happened to notice which memories he was reaching for?" he asked Albert.
    "Non. I could not see. I probably could have found out if I had given him more time to... infiltrate, but that would have made what I attempted to do very much harder."
    "That's fine with us. Thank you very much, Albert," I told him.
    "It was easier when I could merely make people see the Virgin Mary and they would tell us what we needed to know."
    "That probably won't work on him," I guessed.
    "Are there any good Chinese icons I could use?"
    "Kuan-Yin, maybe."
    The wagons showed up.
    "So we're actually gonna get a chance to lock 'em up this time?" the guy in charge asked, looking at the unconscious Wuxia members.
    "Hope so!" Scott replied.
    "Lots of luck," Thunderbolt wished them.
    "Let's get these assholes in here, then." They strapped restraints onto the five. Scott commandeered a balloon from a street vendor's abandoned cart and tied it to Chang Yen so humans could see where she was.
    "I seem to recall that at one point we thought they might go after the stuff J.T. and his crew dug up?" I tried to think back. The museum still had most of it. The other possible target had been Silverblood. "We should probably go check out what's happened at Don Vincent's little playpen."
    "Well, no rest for us," Scott sighed. "Apparently however the wicked get long naps."
    "This is a disturbing thought, but Dawn could be on the list of things Mind Lazer wants," Phoenix Talon said with a troubled look. "Where would be a good place to put her?"
    "Realistically, there's no place that Dawn is any safer than in any other place," Scott shrugged.
    "The only other option is to keep her with us all the time," I pointed out.
    "Dawn is capable of taking care of herself as much as anybody other than us can possibly do," the android agreed. "Needle's correct, the only other safe option is to drag her with us everyplace, which has its real downfalls." Like dragging her into what might as well have been a war zone by then, and we all remembered what happened the last time Dawn got involved in a fight.
    Phoenix Talon borrowed a police car and went to check on her.
    "What happened to your jetbikes and stuff?" the cop wanted to know.
    "They got destroyed when our base blew up. Don't worry, I'll have it back. I'll meet you guys at the museum afterwards," he told us before he jumped in and drove off.
    Scott went to Don Vincent's place to look for his "brother," and Thunderbolt and I headed to the museum to make sure things were secure there.

[Aside: WAMT Broadcast]

    Thunderbolt and I made it to the museum without mishap, somewhat to my surprise. Business seemed light, which was hardly surprising given the chaos of the day. It was about eight at night by then; we'd taken longer in Chinatown than I realized.
    "Yes, can I help you?" asked a man in a museum uniform. "Are we about to get attacked?"
    "Well, we have no certain that that might happen, but...." Heck, maybe we should just set up a substation there.
    "Ira?" the guy called. "We may get attacked, call the rest of the security guys. They should be on guard."
    "If you could close off the Mariners' Egyptian exhibit, that would probably be in the best interests of the public."
    "Do you think that's a likely target then? Is the Sphinx loose?"
    "No, no." I wish. "But there may be trouble."
    "Hang on." He got on the phone. "Yes? Could you clear out the new Egyptian exhibit wing and lock it off? The Revolution's just asked us to. What? Those people are still in there? Okay. Just go and tell them they've got to clear out, we're gonna be closing normally in an hour anyway, and there's the very, very slim chance that," he dropped his voice to a whisper, "supervillains may attack." He looked back over at us. "They're gonna get all the tourists out and seal that up."
    "We'll go take a look," I assured him with a smile.
    "That's great. Do you have a number we could reach you at if something does happen?"
    "Certainly." I handed him a card, and we walked through the familiar halls toward the exhibit room. I kept my eyes open in case Ketch was lurking around. Didn't look as if anything had been taken so far, anyway. There were voices coming from the room ahead of us.
    "Sir, ma'am, you are going to have to leave. We're closing this exhibit off early."
    "But the sign over there clearly says that we are allowed to stay here until nine!" a man barked.
    "Yes, that's why I'm saying that we're closing this off early. I'm afraid there's been a bit of an emergency in the city."
    "We're well aware of the emergency in the city, I don't understand why it should have the slightest effect here. Schedules are important!"
    Thunderbolt and I shared a glance; we weren't so tired that our instincts were completely off-line. We came around the corner and saw an elderly, somewhat stooped gentleman with a cane and a beautiful young woman facing one of the museum employees.
    "Look, I know, but the exhibit will be open again tomorrow," the guard said.
    "We paid to come in today, and I wish to view these volumes," the man insisted.
    "You've been looking through the glass case for six hours, you just want to look at them now?"
    "I had to be certain of their condition." He looked up and saw us. "Oh."
    "Oh. Needle, Thunderbolt." The security guard looked relieved.
    "Hi, uh," I squinted at his name tag, "Mike. We'll take it from here, thanks." I hoped they weren't going to get ugly about this.
    "Needle, Thunderbolt?" The woman looked alarmed, and was hushed by her companion, who laid a hand on her arm and stopped her reaching for something in her jacket.

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© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson