Scents of Danger
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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 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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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 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.
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”.
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.