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Two classes, death in the family and that's made it impossible to do much on here.  Am enjoying Little Orphan Annie's guest shot in the Dick Tracy comic strip.
www.gocomics.com/dicktracy/

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Scents of Danger
Part 3


 By the time the drug wore off Athena’s sides were aching from her laughter and her arms were numb from the position that they had been forced into.  At some point she had blacked out and waking up again wasn’t pleasant.  The air in the room was stale with oil and dust.  She hadn’t thought about it when they had brought her and Tania in, but she realized now that the room must have been bellow the water line, near the engine room.  She could hear the steady hum of the engine as it gave the ship the power it needed to take and her Tania further into captivity.  The room was bare except for the two of them and a single caged light bulb in the ceiling.    
 “Ultra Woman,” Athena asked “can you move?”
 “Ca….  Can’t…. Bre…  Breath!” Tania said.  “Mi…  Might…. Able…”
 She tensed once but then fell limp as her body failed.
 Athena tried herself but her arms were pulled up and behind her in a way that robbed her of any leverage.  Her hands were numb.  She might have been able to break the chains if she were in a different position, but not now.  She tried to stand but the chain that held her to the cleat was too short.  She could only stand half way and the pressure on her shoulders increased.  Once she sat down another pressure hit her.
 Great, now I have to use the bathroom.
 Athena took a deep breath and willed the pressure away.  She’d been in this sort of situation before without embarrassing accidents and now was no time to start.  Besides, she could use the excuse later.
 “Ultra if you can…”
 The door opened interrupting her and Salty came in carrying a pair of bottles and a medical bag.
 “Eve’nin wenches,” He said pleasantly.  
 Athena looked at him and tried not to glare.  From the hints he’d dropped she guessed that Salty was a lot more than just the old sailor he pretended to be.  No sense making him mad just yet.  But later she was going to enjoy knocking a few of his remaining teeth out.
 “What are those?” She asked.
 “Dinner,” He said setting the bottles down.  He set the bag down as well and took out two syringes.  Without warning or explanation he pinned Athena’s legs down with his knee and stuck the needle into her thigh.
 “What the hell are you doing?” Athena demanded, grunting with pain.
 “Got a couple of buyers for your blood,” Salty said.  He took the needle out, labeled the now full syringe and put it into the case.
 “Our blood?”
 “Yea, not all of ye, just the blood.”  He repeated the procedure on Tania.  “Real buyers gonna be the Cartel, they’ll pay two million for the blonde here and another half mill for you.”
 “Where are we headed?”
 “Cartel Island, down south.  Nice place.”
 “Not for us,” Athena said.
 “Every wench says some’n like that and then they give ya a smile when it’s done.”
 He brought one of the bottles to her lips.
 “I need to use the ladies room,” Athena said.
 Salty gave a laugh and then placed his hand palm down on the lower part of her abdomen.  Athena stiffened fearing some sort of sexual assault but instead he closed his eyes and chanted softly and the pressure in Athena’s bladder faded.
 “I been doin this for a lot a years,” Salty said with another laugh.  He held up his hand.  “The only head calls you get are through this and straight into the sea.”
 Athena sighed and sipped the green and yellowish liquid from the bottle.  It tasted like cauliflower and sauerkraut.  The stuff oozed down her throat and settled into her stomach like cement.  
 “What is that?”
 “Something that’ll keep the meat on your bones,” Salty said turning to Tania.

 A competent jailor was one of the most dangerous things a heroine could face, Tania knew.  Worse when he was what Tania guessed Salty was.  She suspected he was one of the imortalis corsair, an ancient race of immortal pirate’s spawned by some forgotten sea witch.  He knew lore that was old before Troy fell and he knew all the escape tricks that had ever been invented.  There were perhaps half a dozen of them in the world and all of them dangerous.
 “You need to use the head too?” Salty asked bending over her.
 “Ca…”
 “Oh yea, little trouble breathing.  Well I got you for that.”
 He placed his hand palm down on her abdomen and chanted as he had done with Athena.  But this was a different chant and Tania felt a bolt of energy go through her as in an instant he triggered a sexual climax in her body.  For a few moments Tania thought her heart would burst and her vision went from gray to black.  When it cleared she found that the chains around her body had been loosed and she could breath again.  But she felt weak as all amazons did after they climaxed.
 “How…”
 “I been on the sea a long time,” Salty said holding the bottle to her lips.  “Met more than one amazon.  Course that weren’t a real one, just a quick dab that’ll keep ya tame for seven minutes instead’a hours, but that’s more than long enough.”
 The stuff tasted foul but Tania drank it.  He kept pulling the bottle away, obviously timing her helplessness.  After she had drunk it all he eased her back down to the deck and placed his hand over her abdomen again. This time the chant was the same as he had used for Athena.  
 “I didn’t have the need,” Tania said.  She could feel her power returning.
 “You will soon enough and I got enough things to do then to keep coming down here.”
 He pressed the disc that controlled the chains and Tania tensed as her body was pressed into the vise-like grip once more.  She winced and gasped but was strong enough to hold the worst of it at bay for a few moments.  
 “The Cartel will torture us both,” Tania managed to gasp out just before the chains tightened.  “You know that.”
 “Yep,” He said in a matter of fact tone and left.
 Tania didn’t growl but only because she couldn’t get enough breath into her body to do so.
 “Any better?” Athena asked.
 “Some,” Tania gasped out.  She could breathe in but only barely and breaking the chains was impossible.  
 “Can you roll over onto your chest?”
 “I think so,” Tania said.  
 “Ok, hold on.”
 Tania watched as Athena stretched her legs out as far as she could.  Then she started to click her boots together.
 “These boots are made for walking,” Athena sang softly, tapping her boot heels and toes against each other to the tune of the music.  “One of these days these boots are going to walk all over you!  Da, da-da-Ta!  Da, da-da-Ta!”
 There was a soft beep and a small door opened on the side of her heels’ and a capsule popped out of each heel.  Then the doors closed.
 “When these two capsules are crushed together,” Athena said pushing them together with the toe of her boot “they form an acid that’ll eat through metal.  If you can roll onto them and crush them with that round thing that the chains come out of it should snap enough of the chains for you to get free.”
 She pulled her feet up and Tania started to rock back and forth.  Her arms and legs started to tingle as what little oxygen she was able to take in was used up.  Her vision started to fade in and out and she coughed.  Without even breath enough to moan she had to endure the pain silently as her body tried desperately to keep working even as it was shutting down.  She finally made it and rolled onto her stomach.  She heard the capsules break and after a moment an acrid odor filled her head as the acid started to work.  A burning pain in her chest made Tania realize that the acid was going further than the metal and with a last burst of strength she rolled off of it.  
 There was a deep-pitted scar in the metal floor that smoked and that same smoke wafted up from her chest.  But it worked and she felt relief as the chain snapped and the tension released.  After a minute of heavy breathing she snapped the remaining chains and sat up.
 “I’ve always liked that song,” Athena said.
 “Interesting boots,” Tania said struggling to her feet.  She breathed deeply, feeling her strength return.  The gold of her costume had been partially eaten away and there was a red mark on her skin but beyond that there was no damage.  Or at least that was she thought until she moved and her breasts almost started to fall out of her costume.  She tucked them back in and hoped they’d stay that way.
 “I got tired of loosing all my toys when someone took away my utility belt,” Athena said.  Tania snapped the chain holding her to the cleat and eased Athena down to the deck.  
 “There’s three capsules,” Athena said as Tania carefully started to snap the links on her chains.  
 “Very handy,” Tania said.  “Where did you get them?”
 “T-Gal made them for me, but the idea came from Le Joueur after she and I did a Baroness/Lady J cosplay.
 “Cosplay?”
 “Yea well that’s what she calls it,” Athena said.
 Tania took the hint and dropped the subject.  Carefully she released the chains and slowly eased Athena’s arms down.  Athena moaned and Tania massaged her shoulders.  After a few minutes Athena sat up and flexed them.  Tania could tell that she was still in pain but at least she could move them.
 “As long as the Cannon has those weapons a straight fight is out,” Athena said.  “Not to mention that Salty guy.”
 “Agreed,” Tania said.  “I suggest we get to the radio shack and call for help.”
 “What about taking out the engine first?”
 “They’d probably notice that,” Tania said.
 Athena nodded and then stood up and stretched.  
 “How are you?”
 “Sore, but ok.”
 “Let’s go then.”
 Tania led the way and Athena followed.

 Athena’s shoulders were burning but she knew that would fade quickly.  She still had trouble believing that the capsule in the boot idea worked.  It had sounded too James Bond to her when Le Joueur had suggested it.  Then again she had been in a James Bond situation with only her boots left when ‘the Baroness’ suggested it.  
 She’ll never let me forget it when she finds out it worked, Athena thought.
 The ship was in a bad state as far as dirt and grime went.  Here and there Athena also saw rats darting in and out.  The idea that her priceless art was on this tub added even more fuel to her anger but she kept her mind focused.  She and Tania made their way up through the decks until they came to a long corridor that was slightly wider than the rest.  They moved down it slowly, checking each door.  They both stopped at one doorway as they heard voices inside.
 “I’ve lost everything!”
 Athena recognized Ms. Skunk’s voice.
 “Lamora you’re an amateur who jumped into the big leagues,” The Cannon replied.  “You even used your own cell phone and I told you not too.  What made you think being a supervillain is easy?”
 There was the sound of frustration followed by something breaking.
 “That bitch needed to be taught!  She hurt my brother and no one does that to my family!”
 Tania looked a question at her and Athena mouthed the words ‘I don’t know’.  What ever Lamora thought Athena had barely talked to her brother.
 “Well now you have a choice,” The Cannon said.  “You get into bed with me and some of the crew and I’ll take you along to Cartel Island and you can make a deal with them, that’s called working your way across the sea.”
 “You…”
 “You came to me Lamora, you looked me up, you decided which museum to rob,” There was a clink of glasses and he went on.  “You ran to this ship ahead of a squad car.  You’re right; you’ve lost everything, including the money I paid you.  You’ve got nothing since I already bought your formulae.  Nothing except a pretty good body and if you want to keep it dry then you better calm down and start being nice.”
 He spoke briskly and calmly, almost as if he were explaining simple math to a none-to bright student.  Tania and Athena waited a few moments and then heard glasses clinking together again.
 “I’m going to get that bitch for this,” Lamora said.
 “Maybe, but that’s later.”
 “I’m not a whore!”
 “All women are even if they don’t know it.  You don’t want to get into the bed?  Then get out and start swimming.  I’ll even give you a life preserver.”
 “Damn you!”
 “Done and done,” The Cannon said.  “My parents saw to that.  Enough already, loose the shirt and take the drink or go into the drink and see how long you last.  Tell you what, if you’re good I won’t give you to all of the crew, just the best ones.”
 “Damn you…!”
 There was another moment of silence and then Athena heard the sound of fabric tearing.  Athena shook her head and she and Tania moved on.  

 “Why the hell does she think I have anything to do with what happened to her brother?” Athena whispered as they came on deck.
 “I think she’s the type of person who will always find someone else to blame for her problems.” Tania said.
 That was a possibility, but Athena didn’t think so.  That woman had it in for Athena Nichols; but why?  There were a lot of people who had a grudge against White Owl, but not Athena.  She promised herself that the puzzle would be solved after they got her into a jail cell.  A part of her had wanted to help Lamora but Athena knew that one shout would bring the crew down on them.
 They moved quietly from shadow to shadow.  The deck was poorly lit and the sky was moonless and Athena was thankful for that.  Slowly they made their way to the upper decks.  Tania stopped and motioned and Athena followed her gaze.  Ebony Greed was spread out on the deck, secured by thick chains welded to the metal.  A metal cage-gag was secured to her head and five lamps bathed her in bright light.  She was as helpless as they had been but in more pain.  Two of the crew stood over her and whipped her with electrically charged whips.
 Moving on they climbed a set of stairs and slipped into a long corridor.  The bridge was at the end but there were two doors set on either side.  Cautiously they made their way past the first door and opened the second on the left.  The room was empty except for a sophisticated communications set up.
 Tania sat down and adjusted the frequency.  
 “This is state of the art,” She said.  “How did the police search miss it?”
 “They were looking for art,” Athena said.  “I’m betting that the dirt and rats are just a cover.”
 “US Coast Guard please come in,” Tania said.  
 “Coast Guard, identify yourself.” A calm voice answered.
 “This is Ultra Woman, White Owl and myself are on the Silver Starfish, approximately 32° 31' N by 69° 53' W, heading Southwest.  We have on board the stolen art from Queen City, the criminal Cannon and Ms. Skunk.  Request assistance.”
 “Roger,” the still calm voice said.  Athena was impressed with the professionalism.  “It’ll be at least five hours before we can get to you, what is your situation.”
 “Tentative,” Ultra Woman said.  “We’ll try to remain in hiding.  Be advised this ship is carrying advanced weaponry.”
 “Roger, inform us if you can about any course changes.”
 “Roger and out,” Tania said.
 “How did you know our co-ordinates?” Athena asked.
 “I was a scout for most of my life before I was chosen to come to man’s world,” Tania said.  “The stars told me all I needed to know.”
 “Show off,” Athena said giving her a quick smile.
 The sound of gunfire was sudden and muffled.  Athena went to the door and looked out.  The corridor was empty but there were sounds of a commotion on the deck.  They went to the door and opened it.
 The scene on the main deck was chaos.  Small black gargoyles with wings and swords were attacking the crew.  A few of them were starting to free Ebony.
 “Looks like she got help,” Tania said.  “What do you think we should do?”
 “Wait and pick off the survivors,” Athena said.  “Ebony might turn her little friends on us.”
 “True,” Tania said.  “On the other hand…”
 Her voice cut out and Athena turned to see Tania struggling with the Cannon.  He had clamped a pad over her face and was pulling her back.  Just as Athena went toward them someone took her legs out from under her and she fell back into Lamora’s arms.  Another pad was clamped over her face.
 “We’ll deal with that bitch later,” Lamora said “right now you two are going to stop caring.”
 Athena felt the familiar cursed dizziness of the drug and struggled to keep her strength as her legs buckled beneath her.  She felt dizzy and could feel the darkness reaching for her.  But the effect only lasted a second and then her strength returned.  She grabbed Lamora’s arm and pulled the pad away from her face.  Tania had done the same to the Cannon.  
 “What ever this stuff is,” Athena said throwing her into him “it’s not working.”
 Lamora hit the Cannon and they both were thrown into the wall of the ship.
 Athena had never felt so relieved.  But instinct told her not to relax in the middle of a battle and the instinct was right.  She heard a slight popping sound above her head and looked up in time to see a bunch of tiny black spiders dropping toward her.  She batted and swatted at them but they were tangled in her hair before she even raised her arms.  The crawled all over her face, into her nose and mouth and ears.  They covered her eyes and she felt her eyelids being sealed with webbing.
 Get to the water; Athena thought trying to move toward the railing.  The water might dissolve the webbing.  But the attack was so sudden and so savage it was too late by the time she had the thought.  She could feel them in her head, crawling into her brain.  It only took a few terrifying seconds before her memories and willpower were sealed in mind controlling cocoons.  Then Salty’s voice hit her like a slap in the face.
 “Yer ship be threatened bitches!  Don’t stand for it!”
 And he was right of course.  The spiders echoed his words and their voices sounded like Athena’s own.
 Protect the ship!  Obey him!
   Athena felt the certainty of her cause and his command down her bones and she knew that Tania felt it as well.  The webbing fell away from her eyes and she saw Ebony Greed and the Gargoyles fighting the crew.
 “Aye-Aye!” She shouted and turned to rush to the deck.
 
 Every part of Tania’s spirit struggled against the order but the mystical spiders had built a web around her mind and no other thought was allowed but the thoughts that they spoke.
 Protect the ship, their voices spoke in an eerie echo of her own, as if a chorus echoed her voice, fight the invaders!
 Tania grabbed one of the gargoyles and sent it hurtling across the deck. Beside her Athena did the same.  Her lips were drawn back in a parody of a smile as the spiders in her mind gave her the same instructions.  They fought their way across the deck to where the gargoyles had just managed to free Ebony Greed.  She was weak and smaller but still taller than either of them.  That didn’t stop Tania and Athena from charging into her.  Tania went for her shoulders and Athena went for her legs and they went down in a wild tangle of limbs.  Tania pounded on the woman’s chest while Athena struggled against two of the gargoyles.  More of the small creatures appeared and swarmed over them.  One of them grabbed Tania around the throat while another tore at her face.  Tania was pulled over and fell into Athena who was being torn at by three of the creatures.
 “Hold them!” Ebony said as she climbed to her feet an avoided a stun blast.  Tania pushed past the gargoyles only to be hit in the face by Ebony’s foot.  She went down stunned.
 
 Athena struggled to get clear of the gargoyles but they were stronger and heavier than they looked.  Two of them were hugging her legs while another was pounding away at her stomach.  Another leapt over both of them to land feet first on her chest and drive her to the deck.  The wind was knocked out of her and Athena was struggling to get it back when Tania landed on her.  Then the fight became too confused for her to really tell what was going on.  She struggled to try to get clear of Tania and Tania struggled to get clear of her but the gargoyles were holding them both down.  One of them grabbed her head from behind and slammed it into the deck.  Athena’s head rang and for a moment the spiders were silent.  Out of the corner of her eye she spotted Salty about to throw something at Ebony.  
 Athena moved as quickly as she could, her mind momentarily clear.  Grabbing one of the gargoyles she threw it with all her might at Salty.  It hit him and they went backward over the side of the ship.  
 Fight the invaders!
 The spider’s command was one she couldn’t dis-obey and Athena tore into the gargoyles again.  The fight might have lasted minutes or longer, her mind was in a haze and Athena was only conscious of the battle.  At last she threw a punch at a gargoyle but it vanished into smoke.  So did all the others and Athena and Tania were left standing on an empty deck.  There was no sign of Ebony.
 With the invaders gone Athena could sense the spiders in her head start to die off.  But they seemed to melt into her thoughts and left her mind a confused haze.  She fell to her knees on the deck and struggled to think.  Beside her Tania did the same.  
 “Take’em down hard!” The Cannon shouted.
 Athena barely had time to think to defend herself before she went down under the weight of multiple blows from pry-bars and brass knuckles.  The last thing she remembered was blow after blow hitting the back of her head.

 Tania managed to stay semi-conscious as they carried her and Athena back to their prison.  She was still too weak from the beating to do anything and every movement brought new pain to one part of her body or another.  The Cannon carried her and Turner carried an un-conscious Athena.  When they reached the room he threw her down on the hard metal deck and Tania couldn’t help but cry out as fresh pain wracked her body.  Turner threw Athena down and she moaned.
 “No sign of Salty since he went overboard,” The Cannon said.  “Turner think you can rig up something to hold them?  Most of the crew is going to be out for a while and I can’t spare anyone for guard duty.”
 “If I can grab something out of the cook’s stores yea,” Turner said.
 “Go and do it, hurry up.”
 Turner left in a hurry and the Cannon bent down and pulled Tanis’s boots off.
 “What are you doing?” Lamora asked.
 “They got out of Salty’s chains somehow,” The Cannon said pointing to the ruined chains on the floor.  “They must have something.”  
 He examined Tania’s boot and then tossed it away and pulled off the other one.  Lamora pulled off Athena’s boot.
 “Why didn’t the stuff work?” The Cannon asked as he pulled off Tania’s belt and ran his fingers over it.”
 “I don’t know, maybe because they’re super human.”
 The Cannon laughed derisively as he rolled Tania over and unzipped her costume.  Tania was awake enough to moan as he rolled her back over and pulled her costume down.
 “What?” Lamora asked.
 “Better come up with something to tell the Cartel,” he said as Tania’s breasts were exposed.  He jerked the rest of the costume of leaving only her blue panties.  He pulled off Tania’s tiara and examined it, then tossed it aside.  “You try selling them something that doesn’t work on superhumans and you’ll end up one of their test subjects.”
 “It works, you saw it work.”
 He pulled Tania’s blue panties off and gave them a quick examination before tossing them to the floor with the rest of her costume.
 “Anything?” He asked as Lamora pulled off Athena’s white panties.
 “Nothing,” She said tossing Athena’s panties to the floor.
 “Got it Skipper,” Turner said.  “Give me fifteen minutes and these two won’t be going anywhere.”  He was carrying a large box and put it down.  He paused briefly to gaze at the two nude women and then set to work.  First he used a ladder to weld a pair of rings to the ceiling.  Then he ran a couple of chains through them.  Tania’s strength was coming back but she was only able to struggle weakly as he twisted some smaller metal bars around her wrists and then welded them to the opposite ends of a two foot long metal bar.  Then he welded one of the chains to the center of the bar.
 “Pull the slack as I lift her up?” He asked and the Cannon went over to the cleat that Salty had welded to the bulkhead earlier and ran the chain through it.  Tania could not help moaning as Turner put his hand between her legs and grabbed her butte to lift her into a standing position.  Tania was lifted up until she was standing and then just a little bit higher so that she was suspended in mid air.  
 “Hold her for just a sec,” Turner said reaching into the box.  He took out a gray box about a foot wide with a pressure plate on it and the Cannon eased Tania down until she was standing on top of it.  Then he went over to the wall and used a pad lock between the links to hold the chain in place.  Taking a roll of duct tape he wrapped it half a dozen times around Tania’s mouth and chin.  
 “Here’s the way it works,” Turner said bending down and pulling a metal pin out of the box.  “This is a land mine, you step off and it blows up.”
 “Simple and effective,” The Cannon said.  “Good work.”
 They repeated the procedure with Athena and she was awake enough after he put the gag on her to nod when Turner asked if she understood.
 “I want to try some of my other formulas,” Lamora said going up to Tania.  “Run some tests and see if there’s a reason they can resist them.”
 “No,” The Cannon said.  “Right now they aren’t going anywhere and I want to keep them that way.  You had your chance and blew it Lamora.”  He smiled.  “Besides you’re going to be busy with Turner.”
 “What?”
 “He’s just done a good job for me, you’re the reward.”
 “Thanks boss,” Turner said putting his arm around Lamora’s shoulder.
 “Get off of me!”
 They scuffled but the smaller woman was no match for the sailor and he picked her up and carried her out of the door.
 “Stand still ladies,” The Cannon said following him.  “Or don’t.  The Cartel may drop the price but they’ll still pay no matter how many pieces you’re in.  I’m going to see if I can find out what Ebony Greed grabbed before she left.”

 Despite her anger at the other woman Athena felt sick as Lamora was carried off.  No woman in the world deserved to be raped and that was essentially what was going to happen to her.  
 And us, Athena thought.  Or worse.  
 She’d heard enough of the Cartel to know that they valued human life and dignity about as much as they did yesterdays lunch.  Tania was on their hit list and Athena was sure that they’d have something for her too.
 Think, Athena told herself looking around the room.  Look for the flaw, there’s got to be one.  There’s got to be!
 Unfortunately the room was bare except for some spare lengths of chain and two piles of clothing.  Athena tested her chains and found that she could pull them downward just a little.  She was also able to turn and she and Tania exchanged looks but that was all that they could do.  
 We’re just going to hang here naked until they come for us, Athena thought.  They could have at least left me my… Panties?
 Athena looked down at her feet and a thought came to her.  Taking a deep breath she lifted one foot off of the mine.  Nothing happened and she reached into the pile of clothing with her toes and pulled out her panties.  Carefully she drew the underwear onto the mine and grabbed the elastic band by pinching it between her big toe and her ring toe.  Then she did the same with her other foot and pulled the elastic to the edge and then around the side of the mine.  
 Athena was sweating heavily and could hear her own heart beating as she slid the elastic under the mine.  She had to shift her weight backward just a little bit to do it but she managed to get it underneath the infernal machine.  Then she dragged it around the other edge and back to the top.  Athena did this a few more times, wrapping the elastic band around the mine until she’d stretched the elastic as far as it could go and twisted the edge of it around the edge of the mine.  She let it go and it didn’t move.  Carefully she pulled herself up off of the mine.  There was no give beneath her feet.  
 Athena swallowed and looked over at Tania.  Tania’s eyes were calm and she nodded.
 Goddess help me, Athena thought and pulled herself off of the mine and flipped so that she was upside down with her feet braced against the ceiling.  Nothing happened and Athena brought her legs up double to get more leverage and then pulled.  At first the bar was too strong.  But even though Athena was tired she was also angry and scared and those two emotions combined lent strength to her limbs.  She strained until at last the metal bar bent and she was able to bring her wrists together.  It only took a few more minutes to break the rings and free herself.
 Athena jumped down and fell down onto the deck as her beaten body betrayed her.  For a few moments she laid there and mastered the pain.  Then she rolled over and checked the mine.  The elastic was holding and she grabbed Tania’s panties from the floor and wrapped her mine the same way.  Tania didn’t bother bracing herself, she tensed and twisted the bar that held her arms snapping it in two.  Athena pulled the duct tape off of her face while Tania snapped the rings that held her wrists.
 “Between your boots and your underwear I’ve come to love your wardrobe,” Tania said when she had pulled her own gag off.
 “Three packages for a dollar at Discount Dolly’s Dollar Palace,” Athena said taking a deep breath.  Her body ached all over.  “But we’ll have to go commando from here on.”
 “Not a problem,” Tania said pulling her costume up.  “We’re hurt but after the last fight the crew isn’t in much better shape.  I think it’s time to take out the engine room.  We can shut it down, barricade ourselves in and wait for the coastguard.”
 “Sounds good,” Athena said pulling her boots on.
 The ship shuddered and they went to the door and opened it.  Though muffled the sounds of a battle could be heard on deck.
 “Coast guard I guess,” Athena said.
 “Feeling up to finishing this?” Tania asked.
 There was a part of Athena that really didn’t want too.  She was tired and sore.  But the part was quickly smothered by a desire for both vengeance and justice.  
 “Oh yea,” She said as her hands became fists.

  This time Tania allowed her self to drink but she was careful to take very slight sips.  She and Athena were once more in Le Joueur’s casino.  It had been a week since they had helped the coast guard take the Silver Starfish.  The stolen art had been returned.  All that was missing was a claw from a lost statue of Tigera, an obscure Sumerian goddess.  Why Ebony Greed had taken that was a mystery.  
 One of too many mysteries.  It turned out that Lamont T’ Kaya never had a sister, was teaching school in Greece and when questioned by Interpol had no idea what was going on.  He referred to Athena as: “That stuck up white woman who wouldn’t talk to me” and Lamora herself had vanished when the coast guard boarded the ship.  Detective Debbane was admittedly puzzled.  Not humbled or willing to revise her opinion of superheroes, but puzzled.  The impression she gave during the debriefing was that White Owl and Ultra Woman should be brought up on charges for interfering with a police investigation.  She’d been told off by the local DA and left in a huff.  Tania was sure that they would meet again.
 Those mysteries however was not what had brought her and Athena to the Golden Spire after hours.  
 “Sounds like a terribly grand ordeal,” Le Joueur said as Athena finished filling her in.  “I’m not surprised that Salty got away.”
 “You know him?” Athena asked.
 “He’s come in here from time to time,” Le Joueur said.  She leaned forward and eyed her.  “Poker is his game.  So how far up between your shoulder blades did he get your arms?”
 She had become aroused when Athena described their bondage, Tania was sure of it.  Whatever Athena thought of this woman Tania didn’t think it she was trustworthy.
 “Farther than you ever have or will,” Athena said sipping her own drink.
 “But why come to me?” Le Joueur asked.  “Seems like justice was done.”
 “The Cannon is in federal lock up,” Athena said.  “But he doesn’t know who he sold our blood too.  It was an offer that popped into his phone as a text message and he never even talked to the buyer.  The woman who picked up the blood flew onto the ship dressed in black with batwings and a mask shaped like a bat.  She gave him cash and then flew off with the blood.”
 “Oh, so you would like to know who she is.”
 “That would interest us yes,” Athena said matching Le Joueurs tone of voice.
 “Well Athena you’re already into me for a night,” She stretched back and gave an exaggerated yawn.  “I don’t feel like giving that up on a bet.  Even if I win alls I’ll gain is another night.”
 She hadn’t taken her eyes off of Tania.  But Tania had known this was coming and had talked it over with Athena.
 “I am not in your debt,” Tania said leaning forward.  “Are you interested?”
 “Do you have a red wig?”
 “I can get one.”
“Choose your game Ultra Woman,” Le Joueur said smiling and swept her arm in an arc that encompassed every game in the room.  Her eyes seemed to shine as she gazed at Tania.  “The house is open for business.”


 Epilogue 1:

 The room was ancient and filled with a malevolent presence.  But it was a presence that was also very weak.  The drawings on the wall were faded and they had never been the best to begin with.  Still that didn’t stop the woman who had called herself Lamora from walking as if she were walking through a palace or church.  She was dressed in a dull gray robe.  She walked to a ruined statue and knelt, being her body so that her forehead touched the dusty floor.  The torches on either side of the statue made her shadow long.
 “Get up,” Shawna Debbane said from the doorway.
 “I have earned the right,” Lamora said standing.  
 Shawna’s eyes turned to fire and Lamora bowed her head.
 “I’m sorry.”
 “I did not mean that you could not worship sister,” Shawna said.  “But you must not kneel there.”
 She walked past Lamora and knelt down herself.  After a few moments gargoyles walked from the corners of the room and into her shadow.  Shawna cried out in pain as each one did.  Ebony Greed entered the room.  The villainess was shrunk and weak, her steps uncertain but she made it across the room and fell into Shawna’s shadow.  Shawna screamed in agony for a few moments and then collapsed to the floor.  
 Lamora went to her and helped the other woman sit up.  
 “My shadow was almost spent,” Shawna said.  
 “I couldn’t stop the Cannon from using his weapons,” Lamora said.
 “Nor could I stop White Owl and Ultra Woman from interfering,” Shawna admitted.  “But it worked to our favor.  No one suspects the real reason for the robbery.”
 They both looked at the ruined statue.  
 “Her power will grow on limb at a time,” Lamora said.
 “And when we are finished it will be the other gods who will be cast down,” Shawna said.  

 Epilogue 2:

 The computer display was a state of the art hologram that floated in mid air.  In that display two cells were shown side by side.  On the left was one labeled “White Owl” and on the right was one labeled “Ultra Woman”.  
 “Well?”
 The man who asked the question stood behind the woman who sat at the computer.  He was old and frail looking, wearing an expensive business suit.  His white hair was down to his shoulders and his one eye gazed at her.  In contrast she looked to be no more than 20, if that and wore a pair of cut-off jeans and a T-shirt that was tight enough to leaving nothing of her slight breasts to the imagination.  Her hair was as white as his, but worn longer, almost to her waist.  
 “Two minutes and you want results?”
 “I trained you better than that daughter,” he said.  “I expected results in two seconds.”
 They both laughed, but there was a bitter tinge to the laugh.  Had anyone been in the room with them it would have caused the hair to stand up on their arms.
 “The cells have extra’s in them,” She said pressing a few keys to bring up another cell.  This one was smaller and the differences could be easily seen.  “This is my cell.  The plasma membrane is thicker on theirs and the internal structure is different.  “The nucleus has an extra structure, not sure what it does yet.  But the key is the similarities between the two.  What they have and what I don’t have.  Both White Owl and Ultra Woman get their strength from magic, this extra bit in the nucleus” she highlighted section of both diagrams “might be the key to how their cells process the magical energy.  The energy seems to be in the background of our universe, always there but hard to tap.”
 “Duplicate their cell structure into your own and you’ve got their strength, Emmy,” He said putting his hand on her shoulder.
 “And I will be safe father,” She said reaching up and taking his hand.  “At last I will be safe.”
 She squeezed the fingers painfully and he winced.
 “Just like I should have been safe all those years ago.”
 She kept squeezing but the older man didn’t protest.  

End.
Scents of Danger part 3
White Owl and Ultra Woman are held captive on a ship heading toward a dangerous fate.
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Scents of Danger
Part 2


 It was their attempt to strangle each other that had saved Athena and Tania.  They had rolled across the loading dock floor tearing and hitting at each other in a mindless rage.  That rage had prevented any real strategic thought.  Tania did not transform into Ultra Woman so she did not have her full powers.  They both forgot the advanced fighting moves each had spent a life time learning.  The only thing that either of them cared about was killing the other.  Both of them sought to strangle the other and both kept breaking the hold.  In the end they smashed through a packing crate and amidst the splinters each got a death hold on the other’s throat.  The result was that they both choked each other into unconsciousness.
 Now lying in her hospital bed Athena watched the sun set and told herself again that almost killing her friend wasn’t her fault.  But she wondered; had she always been jealous of Tania?  Did she just follow orders or did the drug free some dark part of her?  The idea that a part of her felt that way -however small that part was- chilled and sickened her.  She had been hypnotized and drugged before, she’d had her mind taken over three different ways but each time she’d had a little corner of herself that was free.  This time hadn’t been like those times.  This time it had been a primal, terrible force tearing it’s way through her.  A savagery that she’d never felt before and never wanted to feel again.  
 “Athena?” Tania asked from the doorway to her room.
 “Come on in,” Athena said.
 Tania walked in and stood by the bed.  She was wearing a casual pair of blue slacks, a white blouse and a blue sweater.  She’d healed days before once she’d been able to transform into Ultra Woman.  Also Tania had been lucky to land in the crate after Athena had smashed into it.  A jagged wood splinter the size of a tire iron had stabbed through Athena’s gut and another through her leg.  That had added a few days to Athena’s healing and brooding time.  
 “It wasn’t our fault,” Tania said as if reading her mind.
 “I hated you,” Athena said.
 “I hated you too,” Tania said.  “That drug stripped away our humanity and reduced us to animals.  I was aware but the fury I felt was beyond control.”
 Athena nodded, relieved that the other woman didn’t blame her.  It would have been silly if she had but Athena hadn’t been able to push the feelings aside.
 “They’re releasing you tomorrow,” Tania said.  “The hunt begins then.”
 “Damn right,” Athena said.
 “Forgive me but I don’t think amateur detective work is going to help right now,” A new voice said from the doorway.  
 Athena looked over and saw a tall woman standing in the doorway.  With an effort she suppressed her anger.  Shawna Debbane was an Interpol agent working the case and she had the care and compassion of a rock.  Though attractive she dressed down, wearing a plain grey skirt and blouse with a black coat and a black purse.  The woman had a severe face (which Athena had come to think of as owlish) that was highlighted by her thick eyebrows and her hair was drawn back into a strict ponytail.  Her olive complexion completed what could have been an exotic beauty if her attitude didn’t come across as condescending.  
 “Those people came into my museum, stripped me, molested me and forced Tania and I to fight to the death,” Athena said.  “No way in the world that’s let go.”
 “I can understand your feelings,” Shawna said in a tone that said she didn’t.  “But The Cannon is no one to fool with.  It won’t do anyone any good if you and Ms. Mezona end up as prisoners or are sold to one of his many white slavery contacts.”
 “It’s Mezona,” Tania corrected her “and we would have help.  Ultra Woman and White Owl have offered aid.”
 “I’d like to avoid involving any of the local freaks,” Shawna said.  “I have enough trouble with them at home.”
 “Freaks?”
 “I’m not saying they don’t have their uses Ms. Nichols, but we’re not dealing with supervillains.  The Cannon just likes to wear a mask to keep his true identity hidden and we’ve already identified Ms. Skunk.”
 “Who is she?” Athena asked deciding not to press the ‘freaks’ comment.  It wasn’t like Shawna was the only law enforcement officer who had that sort of attitude.
 Shawna walked over to the bed and handed Athena a picture.  It was a blow up of a driver’s license photo and showed a serious faced black woman with short-cropped hair.
 “Who is she?”
 “Lamora T’Kaya,” Shawna said.  “You don’t recognize her?”
 “No.”
 “She went to school with you, in fact she’s been in all of your schools since you were in elementary school.  A year behind you, but according to records always there.”
 Athena cast her mind back but the woman in the photo didn’t trigger any memories.  
 “I really don’t remember her.”
 “Do you know her brother Lamont?” Shawna handed her another photo.  This was a young black man with a shaved head and a more earnest expression than his sister.”
 “I think he was on a few digs with me,” Athena said.  “Back in college.  Always seemed a bit off, he never said more than five words to me.  I think he vanished on one of the digs, the professor said he quit and we never heard from him again.”
 “So you weren’t involved with him romantically?”
 “No.”
 “He seemed to think differently,” Shawna said.  “And so did his sister.  There was an entire wall of her house covered in photos of you and she had a dart board with your picture on it.”  In his room was a set of letters detailing your romance.”
 “Our romance?  I barely talked to him.”
 “Are you sure?  His letters are very explicit, right down to the type of sex you prefer.”
 “I don’t care what they say, I never spoke more than ten words to him and I certainly didn’t sleep with him.”
 “Do you have a crescent shaped scar on you’re lower back?”
 “It’s above the swimsuit line,” Athena said.  “I never slept with him, never talked to him more than casually!”
 Tania put her hand on her shoulder and Athena forced herself to calm down.
 “Is she in custody?” Tania asked.
 “No, she bolted a few minutes before the FBI got to her house,” Shawna said.  
 “What about the pictures on her phone?” Athena asked.
 “They haven’t surfaced yet.”
 And they won’t if T-Gal has anything to say about it, Athena thought.  One of the first things she’d done when regaining consciousness was to put a call into the tech-based heroine.  If any of those pictures surfaced on the net they wouldn’t stay there for more than a split second and T-Gal would do her best to track their source.  So far none of them had.
 “What about the Cannon?” Tania asked.
 “He seems to have been on some sort of shopping spree,” Shawna said.  “I’ve heard that he’s had contact with an arms dealer, set up a new distribution for cocaine coming out of his farms in South America and there have been some art thefts from private collectors.  He’s been very busy.”
 Shawna took the photo’s back and put them in her purse.  
 “We’ll continue our investigation, in the meantime again please don’t try anything yourselves or call in any help.  They’d only get in the way.”

 “That woman!” Athena growled the next night as she and Tania flew toward the Pirate’s Lair.  “Freaks!”  
  “In her defense Athena she had no idea that we are White Owl and Ultra Woman.” Tania said.  “I’ve checked into her.  She may be insensitive but she is a good detective, well respected in the Middle East and Europe.  That’s saying something considering that she’s a woman, Egyptian and based in Alexandria.  But she also has a bad attitude toward superheroes and we’ve both faced that before.”
 “She didn’t believe me about Lamont,” Athena said.  “I’m telling you Tania I barely spoke to him.”
 “That is a mystery then,” Tania said.  “Somehow he built a fantasy life around you and convinced his sister that it was real.  Maybe that’s why she was so determined to get you.”
 “I’ve got enough enemies that don’t like me for real reasons,” Athena said.  “I don’t need ones that hate me for stuff I never did.”
 They landed on the terrace of the casino.  The Pirate’s Lair was one of the cities mid points between respectable and criminal.  The top floors of the hotel were first class and offices occupied the lower floors.  On the ground floor were upscale shops.  Underground for three stories were playrooms where women and men could be rented and used.  You had to be very special to get to those floors or even know about them.  It was the sort of place where starlets cavorted with crime lords and where the wealthy got their illegal drugs.  Security was tight and getting in the front door was a sign of high social status.  Getting in after it was closed was a sign of that same high social status, but for a different part of society.  The games that went on after the place was closed were the kind of games that could get a person a long prison term.
 Still even for a city used to a bit of sin there were limits.  The Pirate’s Lair was allowed to operate so long as it’s darker side kept a low profile and it kept hours that didn’t disrupt the city.  Also –much as it infuriated Athena- as long as it kept a good chunk of it’s profits heading to the right pockets.    
 It was two AM Sunday morning and the casino was closed, but the giant sliding doors to the terrace were open and the two heroines landed.  Athena held Tania back at the entrance.  Le Joueur, owner and operator of the casino sat at a table with bottles and three glasses in front of her.   Athena looked pointedly at the lit cigarette in her hand.  The Asian woman smiled and then snuffed it out.
 “Welcome ladies,” She said as they walked over to the table.
 Le Joueur had cut her long black hair short and there was a new scar on her throat.  But other than that she was the same slim, graceful and attractive Asian woman that Athena had met when she’d owned the Golden Spire.  She was wearing a revealing green dress lined with gold Chinese characters.  As a source of information the woman was reliable.  She was also far more dangerous than she looked.
 “Batty Rum with honey for White Owl, Black Jack’s Special Rum and Artemisia Absinthium and mint for Ultra Woman and my own favorite Grappa and Coke,” She said mixing and pouring the drinks.
 “You know we aren’t going to drink them,” Athena said “even if you drink them first.”  
 “Once was enough,” Tania agreed.
 Le Joueur smiled and sipped her drink.
 Athena told herself not to loose her temper.  Life was a game to the other woman, a game of betting and loosing.  She lived strictly according to that code and if you wanted information you had to work with that.  That had led to some strange, painful and embarrassing situations in the past.
 “I’ll bet this drink you are looking for Mr. Cannon,” Le Joueur said sipping her Grappa.
 “You’d win,” Athena said.  

 Tania sat back and decided to let Athena do the talking.  She had her own underworld sources but not in this city.  Informants were indispensible for anyone involved in crime fighting.  They were an interesting type of person, a type that Tania had never met on her home island.  Some were simply for sale, others motivated by vengeance or jealousy or plotting some scheme of their own.  It was amazing how much information could be found out about the underworld and it’s denizens if you knew where to ask.  Someone always knew something, it was just a question of finding that someone and asking the right way.  
 The right way to ask Le Joueur was to play her games.  Tania classified her as what a sociologist would call a person performing a dramaturgy.  She saw life as a play and herself playing a part.  Beneath her façade Tania suspected there was a lonely, hurt woman desperate for friendship and love.  Athena was the closest person that Tania knew who filled that role.  The conversation between them was a deep and fast cat and mouse game of catch with more hidden meanings than Tania thought either of them realized.  
 Not that the woman couldn’t be ruthless.  Tania remembered her own introduction to Le Joueur.  It had started as a friendly game of cards over drinks and it had ended with a weekend of warm leather and cold chains.  It hadn’t left permanent scars, but it had been a sensual experience Tania both did and did not want to repeat.  The second time had been more of the same, but Tania had been wise enough to pass on the drinks then too.  It hadn’t saved her from a long night but she had gotten the information she wanted as the game shifted from the card table to the bed.  But for all the bondage and sexual games Le Joueur had forced Tania and Athena to play she’d never pushed them too far.  She played at cruelty but was never actually cruel.  That was one of the reasons Tania suspected that Le Joueur really did care for Athena.  She’d heard from other heroines who’d lost their bets that the casino operator was far harsher with others.  Stunning Siren for instance couldn’t mention Le Joueur’s name without the anger showing in her voice.  Nor was the woman any gentler with heroes as Stunning Siren’s brother The Stunner could attest.
 But when the woman lost she told everything she knew and some of what she suspected with an insight that was very helpful.  Tania wasn’t really sure how she felt about Le Joueur.
 “…So he’s still in the city,” Le Joueur said.  “A robbery that made headlines across the world doesn’t make for any easy exits.”
 “He would have planned for the heat,” Athena said.
 “And he did,” Le Joueur said.  “He’s still here, but he won’t be for much longer.  Not with this kind of searching going on.  Not only the police but there are some heavy hitting underworld types that are art collectors.”
 “You know where he and Ms. Skunk are?” Athena asked but it wasn’t really a question.
 “I have a good idea on him, nothing on her.”
 “Do you know anything about her?”
 “She hates Athena Nichols for some reason,” Le Joueur said.  She leaned back in her chair and sipped her drink.  “Can’t imagine why, that woman’s pretty bland as women go.”
 How much of that was a front, Tania wondered.  Part of the dramaturgy?  Le Joueur knew that Athena was White Owl.  Why the…
 It was a signal, Tania realized and her eyes swept the room.  There was no one there.  Or was there.
 “Do you have a match?” Tania asked suddenly.
 Le Joueur passed a package to her and Tania lit one and used it to light the pack on fire, then she tossed the burning match book into the shadows at the end of the bar.
 A woman was revealed.
 “Ah, Miss, or is it ‘Ms’ Ebony Greed,” Le Joueur said.  “I guess I should have put out more glasses.  Come sit down, I’m sure you’re here for the same reason as White Owl and Ultra Woman.”
 “I am, and it’s just Ebony.”
 The woman came over and sat down and Tania watched her carefully.  Ebony was at least seven feet tall and so heavily muscled as to be nearly ridiculous looking.  Her skin was so black it seemed to absorb what little light there was.  She was wearing a black armored suit that matched the color of her skin so well it was hard to tell them apart.  Her hair was long and even blacker and the details of her face were had to make out because the seemed to be hidden in shadow.  There was a mask on her face, a copy of Athena’s style of half mask and in it her eyes glowed with a soft red hue.  The red was so subtle it was barely there.
 “Bit out of your territory,” Athena said.  “Don’t you normally stay in Europe?”
 “I go where the art goes,” Ebony replied.  Her voice had a strange hollow quality to it.  The tone reminded Tania of someone speaking through a trumpet.
 “You know her White Owl?”
 “Ebony Greed,” Athena said.  “What are she doesn’t steal from museums she steals from the people who steal from museums.”
 “I have no wants nor warrants in the US,” Ebony said.  
 “Are you here to compete against us or help us?” Tania asked.
 “Compete.”
 “Why?” Athena asked.  “You help us and you can get the reward.”
 “That’s small change compared to the price the Egyptian government has offered for the statue of Isis,” Ebony said.  “The one on loan from the British Museum that the English looted from Egypt in the 1900’s.”
 “That’s being decided in court.”
 “They won’t mind getting it early.”
 Le Joueur laughed at the confrontation.
 “Well this is a fun situation.”
 “That’s not the way I’d put it,” Ebony said.  “I want the information and I work alone.  Even” she added “if I have to stomp some pretty faces into the floor.”
 “That won’t be as easy as you think,” Tania said matching her aggressive stance.
 “Security,” Le Joueur called and Ebony, Tania and Athena were instantly caught in pink and green force field bubbles.  
 “Might as well get this straight now ladies,” Le Joueur said as Ebony Greed pounded on the field.  Athena did the same but Tania mere pressed against hers.  Unlike Athena she’d been in one of these before.  The more you hit it the stronger it became.  Hit too hard and a sleeping gas was released. “I’ve lost two casino’s to super powered battles.  I’m not going to loose this one.  As it is a quarter of my yearly profit is eaten up in insurance.  Either you play nice or I’ll leave you in those bubbles and call the cops and tell them that you broke in.”
 Ebony and Athena stopped punching and Le Joueur nodded.  
 “Cancel security.”
 The bubbles vanished.
 “Those were Mr. Restraint’s bubbles,” Tania said.  
 “Yes, I bought them from his widow when I bought this place.  I’m tired of having my casinos smashed like some old west saloon.  Now here are the rules.”
 She walked over to the roulette table and picked up the ball.
 “If this lands on black then White Owl and Ultra Woman leave and I give my information to Ebony, if it lands on red Ebony leaves.”
 She was actually angry.  Tania could tell from the way she had dispensed with her playful act.  Tania suspected that Le Joueur had planned an evening around the information she had and was disappointed that it had been spoiled.
 “Agreed.” Athena said.
 “I don’t like it, but I agree.” Ebony said.  
 “Fine,” Le Joueur said.  She gave the wheel a spin and tossed the ball onto it.  “It’s a pity really, I have a new room set aside just for you White Owl and I’m sure that Ultra Woman would have enjoyed herself too.”
 “Sometimes the house doesn’t win,” Tania said.

 “My dear the house always wins,” Le Joueur said.  “Didn’t you ever see Casino?  Robert Dinero was right.”
 “Very few in that movie ended up living happily,” Athena pointed out.
 “He did.” Le Joueur said as the ball landed on a red slot.  “And for tonight at least so do you.”
 Without a word Ebony Greed turned and walked into a shadow.  
 “Lights,” Le Joueur called and the casino floor was instantly lit as bright as a desert at noon.  Ebony was nowhere to be seen.
 “Show off,” Le Joueur sniffed.  “I’m sure she’ll follow you.”
 “I’m sure she’ll try.”
 “My dear Athena of course she will,” Le Joueur said with a laugh.  It was a forced laugh and Athena could tell that she was still disappointed and angry.  With a twist of her hand she produced an odd coin and handed it too her.
 “Roman 3rd century,” Athena said.  “Worth about twenty thousand and part of the robbery.”
 “Yes, one of my regulars was in debt to me for about that much.  I suspect he’ll know quite a bit about the affair.”
 “Where can we find him?”
 “Where do you find most sailors?” Le Joueur asked.  “In a run down place near the waterfront.  Apartment 23, 14 Sea Skull lane.”
 “That coin is part of the collection,” Athena said.  “It belongs to the museum.”
 “Care to wager on that?”
   
 An hour later Athena and Tania stood on the edge of a building near the waterfront.  The rooftop was littered with trash and rats skittered about.  They’d both flown as high as they could before coming to the building and landed back to back to make sure there was no sign of Ebony.  
 Not that it was going to be easy to spot her at night, Athena thought as she took her binoculars out of her utility belt.
 “You shouldn’t have played,” Tania said again.
 “That coin belonged to the museum,” Athena said.  
 “And now she’ll be able to sell it back and you’re her slave for a night.”
 “Not a slave,” Athena said “more like a playmate.  Look I can’t really explain it, but I think that Le Joueur has potential, I think there’s a good person in there.”
 “Do you think submitting to her is going to bring it out?”
 “I think…” Athena started and then stopped.  “I think if she thinks of me as a friend then sooner or later these games’ll stop.  In the meantime I can take being tied up for a night.”
 Tania stayed silent and Athena was grateful for that.  Ultimately Le Joueur and the relationship that they had was hard for Athena to explain to herself, let alone explain it to anyone else.  She couldn’t deny that a part of her liked the woman and sometimes even the games.  Sometimes when Athena lost the bet Le Joueur still played the sub to Athena’s dom.  Athena was sure that the woman was reaching for something more than what she had but Le Joueur didn’t even know what it was.  Given the life that she’d led and the abuse that she’d suffered the idea of an open, loving friendship with no strings attached was probably as strange and puzzling to her as quantum physics.  Athena was sure she could teach Le Joueur what true friendship was.  
 And so long as the games don’t go too far I’ll play along, Athena thought.
 “Someone beat us here,” Tania said.
 “Yea, Interpol.”
 Down on the street Shawna and another man were leading a large man toward a car.  She was talking on a cell phone.  Athena focused her binoculars and activated the audible enhancer.  
 “A tramp steamer on pier 15 taking medical waste to Africa,” Shawna’s voice could be heard over the tiny speaker.  “I want the harbor patrol and back up there in ten minutes.  Name of the ship is the Catch of the Day.”
 “I wonder how she found him,” Athena said.
 “I’ve heard that she was good.”
 Athena put her binoculars away and flashed her friend a quick smile.
 “But she can’t fly.  We can get there first.”
 “Wait,” Tania said.  
 Athena looked to where her friend’s eyes had traveled and saw a shadow on the other roof move.
 “Come on,” Tania said flying toward it.

 Twenty minutes later they were hovering over the edge of pier 15 and watching the pandemonium bellow.  Harbor patrol boats, police cars and even a swat team surrounded a large and aging container ship.  But no one was resisting.  The crew was crowded onto the dock, passive and handcuffed while a man in a captain’s cap was arguing with the leader of the swat team.  
 “I don’t think there’s much we can do,” Tania said.
 “Nope.” Athena agreed.  They’d spent too much time trying to corner Ebony and that had slowed them down.  Even now Athena kept glancing at the shadows.
 They watched as Shawna arrived and the Captain engaged in a wild argument with her.  From the looks of it the captain was protesting his innocence.
 “Could Le Joueur’s tip be wrong?”
 “Maybe,” Athena said.  “She’s not perfect.  But where else could that guy have gotten the coin?”
 They watched as Shawna directed teams of officers toward the cargo containers stacked on the ship.
 “This will be a while.” Tania said as the men started to open the containers.
 “Ummm.” Athena agreed.

 An hour later they were still watching and Athena was torn between boredom, frustration and just a little bit of satisfaction as she watched Shawna’s frustration grow.
 “Who’s the amateur now?”
 “Athena look.”
 Athena turned around and saw that Tania was pointing at another ship.  This one was smaller and slowly moving toward the open see.  In the lights on the ships deck she could see some sort of commotion going on.  Taking out her binoculars she focused.  
 “Ebony Greed,” Athena said. ”She’s fighting with the crew.”
 “Right pier,” Tania said, “wrong ship.”
 “Let’s tell her,” Athena said.
 They flew over to the Catch of the Day and landed on the deck where Shawna was directing the search.  She gave each of them a harsh glare.
 “I don’t have time to babysit superheroes,” She said.  
 “You’re on the wrong ship,” Tania said.  She pointed at the ship that was moving off.  “That one is the right one.”
 “How do you know that?”
 “Take a look,” Athena said handing her the binoculars.  “That’s Ebony Greed on the deck and she’s obviously fighting the crew.  Why else would she be there?”
 “All I see are some lights,” Shawna said and Athena realized that she couldn’t see the deck from the angle they now had.  “A brawl maybe, a mutiny…  Could be anything.”
 “Detective that ship is under way,” Tania said.  “In an hour…”
 “That ship is the Silver Starfish heading to Bolivia with a cargo of farm equipment and cars, we checked it yesterday.”
 “We saw a fight on the main deck between Ebony Greed and the crew.”
 “Which could be anything for any reason Ultra Woman,” Shawna said.  “Now if you don’t mind I have a ship to search.”
 “We’ll go out and check for you,” Athena offered.
 “What is it with America and amateur detectives?” Shawna asked.  “Leave the crime to the professionals.”
 “What do you think we are?” Athena demanded.
 “Swimsuit models who can fly.”
 “Detective collectively we have put hundreds of criminals behind bars,” Athena said stung by her tone of dismissal.  “I work closely with the city police.”
 “Fine, tell them about your hunch.  Now will you please move your Victoria Secret asses, I have a ship to search.”
 She turned away and Athena stared at her in shock and anger.  She’d known some cops who didn’t like superheroes but she’d never known one to turn down help.”
 “Come on Ultra Woman,” Athena said and flew into the air.
 “That is a very stubborn woman,” Tania said when they were out of earshot.
 “That’s a very dumb woman,” Athena said.  “See who’s the amateurs when we drop that ship in her lap!”

 The battle was in full swing when they arrived.  The ship had a crew of about twenty men and some of them were down on the deck not moving.  The rest were massed about the huge woman with clubs and were beating her relentlessly.  Someone had a thrown a cargo net over her and that was slowing Ebony down.  Tania could tell that the woman was loosing ground.  Despite the fact that they were on opposite sides Tania could sympathize.  She’d been in Ebony’s situation many times.
 Without the need for talk Athena and Tania split, each bowling into a separate side of the mob with Athena taking the left and Tania taking the right.  The men scattered and they pulled the net off of Ebony.
 “Thanks,” She said “I’ll give you half…”
 “We’ll settle later,” Tania said dodging a blow and sending a man flying with a kick to his stomach.
 “Take them down!” The Cannon shouted.  “Five thousand for each man if we get them!”
 Spurred on by his offer the crew surged toward them and after that there was no time to talk.  The fight took on a life of it’s own and Tania’s body moved with the skill of a lifetime of such battles.  There was a rhythm to it, almost a dance.  Punch, dodge, kick and then repeat.  Twice sheer numbers brought her to the deck but Athena managed to pull enough men off of her to allow Tania to free herself and then to help Athena who was being over run.  Gradually the number of attackers started to dwindle as men fell and were un-able to get up.  Tania was sure of victory.  If this had been a group of trained fighters they’d have been in trouble, but this crowd were more used to a tavern brawl than an actual fight.  
 Tania tried to keep track of the Cannon but he’d vanished and she wondered if he’d fled.  That was proven wrong when a beam of gray/green energy slammed into her and set Tania against a bulkhead with enough force to make her head ring.  It pinned her there and rings of black energy traveled along the beam and hit her stomach again and again with the force of a sledgehammer.  Out of the corner of her eye Tania saw Athena pinned down by five men.  The beam cut out and Tania fell to the deck struggling to get her bearings.  She was struggling to her feet when the men piled onto her with a net.  Pinned by their sheer weight she nevertheless pushed a few of them off and brought her legs up underneath her.  Tania was staring to rise when one of them pressed a cloth over her face.  Tania felt dizzy for a moment and then sad.  Very sad.
 Suddenly Tania was seeing her daughter head out into space, suddenly she was seeing a sunset, and suddenly she was looking for her lost doll, her favorite doll.  Tania started to cry and as the sadness overwhelmed the amazon her struggles subsided.  All the sadness that she had ever known in her life filled her; overwhelmed her.  It crushed her and she no longer felt like fighting.  She just wanted –no, needed- to be left alone to cry.  She felt herself pushed face first onto the deck, felt her arms being pulled behind her and felt blow after blow hit her head and none of it mattered.
 Athena’s laughter made Tania look over and she saw her friend pinned to the deck as she was.  Athena was pinned on her back with two men on her arms and one on her legs and another was punching her breasts again and again.  With each blow Athena laughed harder.
 
 Athena knew that it was some derivative of the drug that had put her out before but it didn’t matter.  She was happy and that was it.  It wasn’t like the time she had been hit with laughing gas.  This was just pure happiness.  A joy that made everything ok no matter what it was.
 “Snap out of it!” Ebony Greed demanded pushing over to her.  She shoved the men away and lifted Athena up by her costume.  
 Athena just laughed at her.  
 The same beam of energy that had stunned Athena slammed into the other woman and she was thrown across the deck and into the wall of a cargo container.  Athena watched laughing as the men attacked her and one of them pressed a cloth over her face.  For a moment Ebony started to sag but then she threw them off of her with a titanic shrug.
 “That doesn’t work against someone who doesn’t breath you fools!”  She shouted.
 “Then maybe this will!”
 The beam of light was pure white this time and Ebony screamed as it pinned her to the wall of the cargo container.  It pulsed like the last time and hit her again and again until she fell to the deck.  She struggled to rise and then screamed as bright spotlights were focused on her.
 “Don’t like the light?” One of the men taunted and five of them set on her with clubs and brass knuckles.
 Athena had laughed through it all and she kept on laughing as some of the men pinned her to the deck.  She barely felt any pain as her breasts were pounded on repeatedly.  The blows stopped when the Cannon walked over to her.  Beside her Tania kept crying.
 “Let’s throw’em over the side,” A tall sailor with a scar on his throat growled in a harsh gutteral voice when Ebony was finally still.  He kicked Athena in the stomach.  It hurt but Athena kept laughing anyway.
 “Not here,” The Cannon said.  “We’re too close to the harbor and someone might see.  Besides they might be worth something to someone.  Come on, let’s take them down bellow.  Get Salty and tell him to bring his stuff.  Get that belt off of White Owl.”
 He bent down and looked at Athena.  
 “Might be able to sell them, might just drop off for sharkbait.”
 Athena laughed in his face and he joined her.  
 
 Athena had never laughed so long in her life.  She and Tania were half dragged/half carried into the old of the ship and thrown against the bulkhead.  She was too happy and Tania too sad to do anything.  They lay helpless and watched as an old deck hand carrying a trunk nearly as tall as himself walked into the room.  He wasn’t tall but he was broad and looked to be as old as the sea itself.  He had one eye covered by a black patch with a red skull and crossbones on it and his skin was the color of dull copper.  His jeans were worn and his shirt had seen better days.  His hair was the color of sea foam.  
 “We have to keep them tight,” The Cannon said.  “Use the best chains we have, Ultra Woman is strong enough to break small ones.”
 “I been chaining up women since women were around,” Salty said in a thick accent.  “It ain’t the size of the chains Skipper, it’s how you use’em.”  He turned to a large black crewman.  “Turner, you still have those brass knuckles you’re wives used on us?  The small ones fit for a lady?”
 “Sure, got’em in my cabin.”
 “Get’em.”
 Turner left and Salty walked over to Athena and smiled at her.  
 “Pretty one,” he said and Athena laughed.  “Keeping them pretty while they chained ain’t easy.”
 “First we get them chained, then we decide what to do next,” The Cannon said.  “We got the stuff but it’ll wear off and Ms. Skunk said there might be some real brain damage if we use it too much.”
 “Damn silly stuff,” Salty said as he ran his hands over Athena’s body.  “You want to take a woman out you just beat her or get her drunk and then beat her.”
 There was nothing overtly sexual in the way he touched her, it was more as if he was a tailor fitting her for a new dress.  His hands cupped her breasts and reached around her throat and her wrists.  Satisfied he went to the chest and took out two lengths of chain.  Then he took a surprisingly sophisticated laser cutter out of the old chest and cut them to size.  Going back he fitted one of the chains snugly around her waist and the other around her neck.  Athena felt the heat as he used the laser to weld the links back together but he was skillful enough not to burn her.  Once he was done there was no way to take the chains off without breaking them.  He ran another chain from the one on her neck to the one around her waist and secured both ends.
 “Got’em,” Turner said returning.  
 “Thanks, put a cleat with a ring on it onto the bulkhead.”
 Turner took a cleat out of the box and walked over to the wall.
 Salty pulled one of Athena’s gloves off of her arm and then put her fingers into the brass knuckles.  He closed her hand into a fist and then whistled a lilting tune.  It was strange to hear such a beautiful tune come out of the old salts mouth.  Shock made Athena stop laughing for an instant as the metal flowed around her fingers, locking her hand into a fist.  A ring was now around every segment of her fingers attached by a small bar to a larger bar held in her palm and the large bar that covered her knuckles’ now had a ring in it.  Her fingers were completely immobile.  
 Salty rolled Athena onto her stomach and pulled her arms behind her back.  He pulled her hands higher and higher until Athena felt her arms were going to break.  Her wrists were just past her shoulder blades when he stopped.  Despite the pain she was happy and kept laughing.  She felt him attach the rings on her knuckles to the chain around her neck.  When he let go only the chain around her waist kept Athena from choking herself as her arms tried to pull down.  Despite the intense pain coming from her arms Athena had never been happier.  She giggled as he finished.
 “Done,” Turner called.    
 “This’ll do it,” Salty said pulling Athena over to the wall and attaching another length of chain from the ring on the wall to the chain around her neck.  It forced her to sit upright.  “Even if that stuff weren’t holding her down.”  
 He was right.  Athena had no leverage with her arms pulled back and up and if she pulled too hard the chain around her waist would pull up, allowing the chain around her neck to choke her.
 “What about her?” The Cannon asked gesturing toward the weeping Ultra Woman.
 “Amazon’s is trickier,” Salty said.  “But she ain’t the first one I’ve set.”

 Tania watched in misery as the old sailor went over to his chest and reached into it.  She’d watched as Athena was bound and winced at the posture that the bondage had forced her friend into.  With all her heart Tania wanted to move, to fight and struggle.  But she couldn’t.  She just couldn’t.  Sadness filled every part of her, paralyzing her mind and soul.  She could fight back but that wouldn’t stop the sadness.  She could even win but what then?  She could stand over their unconscious or even lifeless bodies and there would be no joy in the victory.  Even the thrill of battle would be lost to her.  It felt as if she would never again no joy or happiness.  
 Salty walked back over to her and he was carrying a black chain attached to a disk.  The disk had a black choker attached to it.  The chain was wide and flat with the links being circular, not the rectangular ones he had used on Athena.
 “Stand her up and hold up her arms,” He ordered.
 Two of the men grabbed Tania and pulled her to her feet and then held her arms above her head.  Tania had run out of tears but choked sobs still escaped her.  The old sailor paid no attention as he put the choker around her neck and detached the disk from it.  Then he started to wrap the chain around her stomach.  Starting at her waist he carefully encircled her body with link after link, drawing an endless supply from the disk.  It took him a while and he pulled it snug as he wrapped.  When he reached her breasts he crisscrossed, between them.  When he was done the chain was wrapped around Tania’s upper body from her waist to her neck.  He re-attached the chain to the disk and pressed the disk between her breasts.  There was a metallic click as the disk mechanism took hold of the chain.
 “Put her arms down.”
 The men did so and he put his hand on Tania’s shoulder and forced her to her knees, then forced her to lay down on the deck.  Once she was down he rolled her onto her back and she felt him attach chains to her wrists and more chains from her wrists around each leg down to her ankles.  Then he took hold of her legs and dragged her over to Athena.  Another chain from the ones on her ankles secured her to the same cleat that held Athena
 “Now this’ll do it,” Salty said pushing the button on the disk.  
 There was a hum and the chains started to grow tighter.  Tania quickly found it difficult to breath.  Her legs and arms were pulled back until her wrists were nearly touching her ankles and her spin felt like it was being torn in half.  The chains squeezed her body like it was in a huge vice and when they finally stopped Tania found it impossible to draw a full breath.  She could barely breathe at all and the lack of breath made even keeping awake hard, movement was impossible.
 “That’ll hold her?” The Cannon asked.
 “Oh yea,” Salty said.  “Way back when I was on a smuggler and we picked up an amazon.  Not sure why she was in the middle of the ocean, but she was in a bad state.  The captain back then he grew to like her.  She didn’t like him though and beat the hell out of him, even hurt as she was.  He was an old dog though and didn’t give up.  Finally got her in a bear hug and after spending his life lifting rum barrels he could have squeezed the life out of a whale if he’d gotten his arms around it.  Once she was out he got the ships witch to make that and that worked for a few days.  
 “What happened?”
 “He got drunk, got stupid and she got loose and nearly killed us all.  The witch and me got away in a lifeboat while she was still fighting the rest of the crew.”
 “When was that?” Turner asked.
 “About the 50’s I think,” Salty said.  “I remember I thought I’d be rowing all the way to New York but we got picked up by the SS Atlantic and I got to see the Singing Nightingale.”
 “Damn you’re old man,” Turner said shaking his head.
 “Enough of the old time memories,” The Cannon said, “She get’s loose and we’re in trouble.”  
“She’s stronger than any of us but her muscles still need air and she ain’t gonna get enough of it while that’s on her.  She for all of us Skipper?  Amazon’s are rough lot in the sack, she can handle me and Turner.  Best to have a ring-gag handy though, they bite.”
 “For now it’s enough that she and her friend are out of action,” the Cannon said.  “I got another on deck for you to work on.  If they aren’t worth anything I’ll let you and the crew pass her around, till then hands off.  You’ll get first try.”
 A chorus of aye-aye’s greeted his order and he took a phone out of his pocket and snapped a picture.
 “There should be someone willing to pay for these two.”

…To be continued.
Scents of Danger Part 2
White Owl and Ultra Woman are determined to get back the stolen art and avenge their humiliation but such things are not easily done.
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The My Little Pony Cast re-enacts Lord of the Rings.  You just gotta watch it.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4hD31…

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Skytower
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:iconpeggyarnold:
PeggyArnold Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2015
Hi! Read your comments on Captain Zammo's Isis in bondage art. I think you might like our Isis pictures. Hope you check us out.
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:iconanyastorm:
AnyaStorm Featured By Owner May 4, 2015
!thanks for +watch
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:icondarkstalker1:
darkstalker1 Featured By Owner Edited Dec 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for your comment on 'Alysha And The Saw Pussy Problem'  and 'Alysha And The Big Bang Bamboozler' :happybounce: 
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darkstalker1 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for your comment on 'Just Another Weekend?' :happybounce: 
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darkstalker1 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for adding me to your WATCH list :happybounce: 
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Skytower Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2014
Thanks for putting up the art.  It's quite nice to look at.
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cyberkitten01 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks very much for reading and commenting on my symbiote comic :)
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vladen13 Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
Of this watch I thank and bid you... Welcome!
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air30002 Featured By Owner Edited Jul 9, 2014
Thanks for the watch! Have you thought about adding a profile pic?
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