The Crime Fighters

The Crime Fighters in:


And Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them


Chapter 8

The Crime Fighters are reborn

Robert drew his gun, but the red haired man drew his in the same instant. "Uh-uh," he warned. "Let's not start a shootout and collapse this pyramid down around us. . ."

"I'm willin' to take a chance," Robert growled, but he didn't fire.

"Do you hear that?" Stan asked, gesturing behind himself with his thumb. "That hum you hear is the Power Chamber, building to its peak. In about five minutes, whether you guys are still alive or not, I'm going to be in there. If you turn around, right now, I'll have no reason to kill you."

"Pretty nice talk, comin' from a murderer," Robert said.

"Let me handle this, Robert," Richard said.

"Listen. We know who you are. . . Stan Smith. We know you're with the Mob. This. . . this fairy tale about superpowers. . . it's all myth. Superstition. Give it up."

Stan grinned. "If you believe that, what are you doing here? Why not just wait until I've got the objects. Then arrest me." He smirked at the two of them, still holding his gun on Robert.

"We just want to stop anyone else from getting hurt. You've already killed four men, and the guards on the dig."

"And in a few minutes, I won't have to kill anyone ever again."

"Is that what this is all about? You're a hit man. . . are you looking for a way out?"

"Close enough." He waved the gun. "What about you two? Cops, right?"

"Close enough."

He glanced back over his shoulder, and then edged back towards the turn in the passage. "This is your last warning. As long as your friend there is in this pyramid there's a chance he'll fulfill the prophesy instead of me. I can't let that happen."

"I got your warning from Ali Bahai," Robert said. "An' so did Michelle. We ain't scared."

Stan waved a hand, dismissively. "Michelle was never a target. Remember, this prophesy was from Ancient Egypt. They would never have accepted a woman getting the powers. It was her dad that was mentioned in the prophesy."

"So we were guarding the wrong person. . ." Richard frowned.

"Not really. My original plan was to scare Michelle into leaving the dig. The dosage was really only enough to cause a heart attack, but not enough to kill. I needed her out of the way, because she was making her father suspicious. But I needed Mr. Bertrand to open the dig at Amarna."

"When you arrived, though," he gestured at Robert, "I changed my plans. I realized that if I kept you busy guarding Michelle, you might drop your guard, and I could kill you. When that didn't work, I took out Michelle's father, knowing that you two would continue his work."

"You wanted us to find the tomb?"

"Of course. I couldn't just walk out here and start digging up an old ruin all by myself. I destroyed what I wanted to destroy, the description of Michelle's father, so you would keep guarding her. But I made sure enough of the heiroglyphs could be deciphered to tell you where the tomb was. . ."

The intensity of the noise increased again, and Stan stole another glance over his shoulder. "You've been warned. There's no more time for talk." He fired a shot into the ceiling over their heads, and a shower of rocks and dust dropped down onto them. By the time the dust cleared, the criminal was gone.

"Find," Richard said. The dog raced forward, but stopped at the intersection. He sniffed around for a few moments, and then hurried down the passage. The two men followed him.

The passages continued to wind around, at least a couple more turns. Then they had to cross over an open pit, a trap that had apparently broken down, the stone trap doors crumbling and collapsing into the pit. But there was enough solid floor to either side of the pit to skirt around it.

From there, the passage continued on straight. Several granite plugs had once blocked it, but they were now retracted into the walls. The two men hurried down the passage, following the collie, which was intent on their quarry. As the neared the end of the passage, though, Richard called to the dog to stop.

There was light in the passage. The walls were glowing, and at the end, where the passage opened out into a chamber, an even brighter light could be seen. Richard edged forward. Beyond the end of the corridor, part of the chamber could be seen, brightly lit. There was some kind of raised platform or altar at the center of it.

Quietly, Richard crept up to the opening. He gestured Robert to look to the right, and that he would go left. The two men edged up the few feet to the end of the corridor, and then peeked around into the room.

Stan had been standing just around the corner, and grabbed Richard. Seeing that he had the wrong man, he pointed his gun at Robert, but Richard grabbed his arm. Before Robert could get off a shot, Stan flung Richard into him, and Robert dropped his gun. Then Scott leaped at the red haired man, and his gun went flying.

A fist fight broke out. Stan proved remarkably fast, as he sent Richard reeling with a roundhouse kick, but Robert nailed him with a punch to the jaw. He fell back, blocking Robert's attacks as the shorter man came at him, but then he caught Robert by the arm and slammed him against the wall.

The hum intensified yet again, becoming an ear splitting screech. All three men put their hands to their ears, but then Stan looked up at the center of the room. He took off running for the platform, with Robert right behind him.

The chamber they were in was octagonal, the four longer sides decorated with elaborate paintings and heiroglyphics. But the corners, each made of solid gold, bore only one symbol. Lines carved into the floor symbolically pointed to the raised platform in the center of the room, which three men and one dog were headed for.

Stan was in the lead, but Robert was right behind him, almost close enough to touch him. As they reached the platform, Robert grabbed him, pulling the red haired man back. Richard, with the collie running at his side, reached the platform at the same moment. At their feet were four disks, each painted a different color. And if they had been looking at where they were running, they might have noticed that they each stepped on a disk at the same moment.

There was a surge of power from under their feet. The disks lit up, and the metal doors at the four corners of the room snapped open. Behind were revealed four objects, each different, each made of a precious metal or gemstone. Their craftsmanship was flawless. Just as artifacts alone, their value was incalculable.

From a jade statuette of a dragon, a beam of green shot forth, enveloping Richard. His black haired friend was struck by a similar beam of blue light, summoned from a large blue diamond. A third beam, of blazing red, leaped to the red haired criminal, from a silver amulet with the outline of a lightning bolt on it.

But the yellow disk was not occupied by a man. The blast of light that shot forth, from a golden vial behind the metal door, ended at a point above Scott's head. There it turned downward, as if reflected, and unerringly struck the collie's body. Even so, it began to flicker and fade, as if unable to continue.

The three men were pinned, held in stasis by the sheer power of the energy flowing through them. But Scott squirmed, trying to escape, his eyes wide with fear. He feel something, inside of him, moving throughout his body, searching for something that it could not find. The whine of power grew into a wail, as if becoming desperate. The beam faded, almost to nothing.

There was a shriek of energy. A blast of golden light erupted from the vial, and sought out the collie. It struck him square, unlike the beam of yellow, which had been aimed over his head. And the energy actually came not from the vial, but from the potion within.

The dog's mind was ripped apart, overwhelmed with images and sounds so intense that they seemed as one. A veil was pulled away, and Scott felt, for the first time, awareness. And then the yellow beam returned, pinning him in place.

Eternity seemed to pass in the moment that the beams worked on their four hosts, transforming their bodies. They were changed, on the cellular level, prepared to handle the power about to be channeled into them. As the changes were completed, the beams winked out, their job done. But the transformation continued, carried along by its own momentum.

Richard was enveloped in a green mist. It blasted forth from his body, wrapping him in a cloud of tiny, jade colored particles. Under it, Richard's pants turned a deep green, his shirt a lighter shade of the color. A black cloak condensed out of the mist, falling over his shoulders to the floor. From its collar, two points, like horns, extended up over his head. And his face disappeared behind a mask, which appeared wrapped around his head and tied, in the back.

Beside him, Robert began to glow, brighter, and brighter. The while light enveloped his body, as as it grew to blinding intensity, it exploded outward, in a crash of thunder. Robert stood revealed, bigger, taller, and more muscular than before. His face had changed so much that he was no longer recognizable. His dusty brown pants had turned a bright, vivid blue, and his shirt was white.

Sparks began to play across Stan's black, shadowy outfit, outlining his body. It built to a frightening intensity, and then there was a crack, as of a lightning strike. Streaks of blue ran down the criminal's arms and legs, leaving behind a jagged trail of red as it went. And as the electricity played around his red hair, it darkened, as if burned, to an auburn shade. The sparks circled his head, and somehow transformed into a bandanna of red.

And finally, a cloud of fine, golden dust exploded from Scott's body. It whirled around him, solidifying into a spherical shell, blocking the collie from view. There was a boom as the sphere exploded, sending gold dust everywhere. Beneath it was revealed a wild-looking, savage wolf, with a golden mane and tail, white forelegs, and ruddy brown fur on its back and legs. And from its back grew a pair of wings, with bright yellow feathers.

The moment the transformation ended, Stan Smith charged across the chamber, headed for the amulet on his corner of the room. The collie hesitated only a second longer, and then took off for the opposite corner. The dog reached his vial first, leaping up onto the ledge it was sitting on to knock it onto the floor. A gold liquid spilled out of the vial. The dog sniffed it, and then lapped it up.

On his side of the room, Stan grabbed his amulet. He placed it against his chest, muttering something. The amulet shot out tendrils of silver in all directions. They traced a path across Stan's chest, suspending the amulet at the center of an x-shaped pattern. And then the silver retraced the jagged bolts of red that marked his arms and legs, turning them silver as well. His bandanna hardened and turned into a metal circlet.

Scott was racing back towards Richard and Robert. Stan brought his arms up as he turned around, and a charge of electricity began to build across his body. He built it up, gathering it in his arms, and then delivered it in a blast towards the two men. Richard was just standing there, stunned, so it would have hit him, had Scott not slammed into him, and thrown him to the ground.

Robert was thrown aside as the lightning strike flashed past him. He watched, his mouth agape, as the wolf-like creature stepped between them and Stan. The dog lowered his head, growling. Stan seemed to study him for a moment, as if considering something. Then he turned and ran into a passage on the other side of the room.

Scott watched the man for a moment, as he disappeared into the darkness. Then he turned around and looked at Richard, who was still sitting on the floor. The dog seemed to think for a moment, and then he stepped forward, hesitantly. He opened his mouth.

Words came out. "You. . . be. . . hurt?"

"I don't believe this!!! The dog talks, yet!!!"

Robert threw his arms into the air. "What the hell have you gotten me into, Richard! I can't believe this! You. . . you idiot!"

Scott scarled. "You go away. You. . . no say. . . idiot. You. . . idiot."

Robert drew himself up. He actually seemed to grow bigger, somehow. "You damned mutt. Don't you call me an idiot!"

The dog snarled, his lips pulling away from his fangs.

"Stop it!" Richard rose to his feet. "We've got enough to deal with, I don't need this on top of it! Now, you two stop fighting! Or I'll knock you both into next week!"

Robert said nothing, but Scott finally spoke. "You. . . me. . . no him. He go."

"Stop it!" Richard commanded, and Scott looked at the floor. Robert crossed his arms, and Richard turned to look at him. "Look, whatever else, we've all three gotten caught in this thing, so we've all three got to stick together."

Robert snorted. He turned and walked to the wall at the far end of the room. Richard looked back at the dog. "How. . . how are you able to talk?"

"Not look. . . bad. . ." Scott said, flinching away from Richard's stare. "Me. . . scared."

"Scared? Of me?"

"No! M. . . me. . ."

Richard knelt down next to the dog, putting a hand on his shoulder. "What's your name?"

"Name. . ." Scott considered it. The word meant something to him, now. "Scott. Master called me Scott."

"Where is your master now?"

"Gone. . . long time. . ." His master wasn't coming back, Scott realized. He wondered why he hadn't realized that before.

"How are you able to talk?"

"Not. . . know. Remembering. . ."

"You're remembering. . . things people have told you? How humans talk?"

The dog nodded. "Didn't. . . remember. . . before. Now. . ."

"Now you can remember." Richard looked up at the room, the golden doors, still standing open, at its corners. "Those beams. . . must have made you smart. . . and able to talk."

"No. . . not talk. Could. . . talk. . . in head. . . but not. . ." he pointed at the fallen bottle. "That. . ."

"After you drank that, you could speak?"

"Aw, Geez! Richard, enough already!!!" Robert turned back to him, then clapped his hands on either side of his head. "Talking dogs, crazy costumes, super powers! How did I ever let you talk me into this!"

Richard stood up. "Calm down, Robert. Panicing isn't helping."

"Well, standing around here in a monkey costume sure isn't helping!" Robert countered. "I want out!"

He turned back to the wall. Then, after glaring at the heiroglyphics for a moment, he walked over to the blue diamond in the corner nearby. As he reached out to pick it up, it flashed, and white light ran up his arms, and into his body. Robert jumped, startled, and then threw the gem across the room. It shot across the chamber as if fired from a gun, and embedded itself in the stone.

"Damn!" He yelled, at the diamond. "What didja do to me?!"

Richard ran over to him. "Calm down! Look, I know exactly how you feel!" He looked down at his arms, at the mists drifting lazily up away from them. "I keep thinking I'm gonna wake up from this, too, but I just don't think it's gonna happen."

He took a deep breath. "The fact is, we've gotten three of those powers Stan was after, and he's got one. He wanted all four of them, so he'll be after us. And he probably knows better than we do what's going on, so who knows what he's got up his sleeve?"

"The Crime Fighters are reborn, Robert. Like it or not. . . we're it."

"Forget it! I'm not flyin' around saving the world twice a week. This ain't no stupid comic book."

"No, it's not a stupid comic book. This is real, and Stan is. . ."

"Forget Stan!!! You stop him! You and the mutt! I want out!!!"

"You. . . turn against. . . Richard. . ." Scott snarled as he walked up to join them.

"Richard is my friend, man!" He told the dog. "You're just some stray he picked up on the street!"

"Richard is. . . Master. . . I follow. You follow. But now. . . you. . . you cow-ard."

Richard started to protest, but Robert burst out laughing. "I don't believe this! I'm arguing with a dog!!!"

"You argue with the dog!" He said, to Richard. "You go save the world! I want to go home!"

"What do you want me to do?"

"Read this thing!" He gestured at the wall. "Tell me how to turn back!"

Richard crossed his arms. "What if I don't? You can't walk away from this."

Robert started at him for a moment. His fists clenched again, as he fought to hold down his anger. But then he relaxed, his arms falling to his sides. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, and then suddenly the light flared up around his body again. It faded, dying away to nothing, and then he had returned to his original form.

After taking a moment to study his hands, and the arms of his shirt, which were again brown, he smiled. "I can't walk away, huh?"

He turned and strode out of the room. "At least I'm not flying away. . ."

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