25 October 1900 hours: Providence Asylum
Candyman sits, strait-jacket encased, wrapped in thought or concentration: the cell door explodes in off its hinges, though without sufficient force to carry through into the cell and harm its occupant. An imposing black man walks in: stares levelly at Candyman: “Keep an eye out,” he raps back to Kevin O’Shaunnessey who’s hovering at the door still dressed as a patient: turns back to Candyman.
“I’ve got a deal: and don’t even bother to pretend to think about it. I give you your freedom, and you give me the information I want. And make no mistake: I’m in charge.”
As he speaks, the black man’s features become heavier, more ape-like, his legs dwindle and his chest expands: until at last, Doc Simian is fully revealed. He slips Candyman easily out of the jacket, and hands him the spectacle case. Then as subtly as it began, the ape’s form shifts again as he and Candyman head for the exit stairwell. The Bomb falls in behind the pair as Simian instructs the gunsels on the stairwell to be on guard. They mount to the asylum roof. There, Doc Simian raises his head, as though expecting a visitor from the stars: instead, his renowned hover-chair appears out of the dark. The super-villain takes his seat of honor and the other two cling onto the rails as the chair departs.
“Hey Capes! Back off! We got hostages!”
1705 hours: Bad Tripp snarls: he’s tempted to just smash his way in but hostages will need something faster and more subtle than he can deliver on his own. He carries on with his first instinct: smacks his paws together to send a shockwave blasting the two gunsels back off the mezzanine balustrade: then follows them up with a leap. They’ve been pummeled back into the wall behind them and are out.
“Wraith!” Bad Tripp grunts, “Gotta hostage situation back in de lib’ry wing: gonna need ya ta ghost t’ru.”
“Roger! On our way!”
Nightfall races through two sets of fire-stop doors, westward to the atrium: an open cell catches his eye but he doesn’t pause: leaps straight off the balustrade and describes a graceful arc to the ground floor foyer. He passes Performer, who has flashed up to the top floor in case he’s needed there. For some reason, clown-boy is wearing a fancy tux and top hat rig. Smartass quick-change!
Performer spins through 360 degrees as he descends the atrium: things seem under control: it’s time to bring some intel to the team. He hurries past Nightfall into the men’s room off the foyer.
Holmes, still hidden in the bushes out on the approach, zips his mind in and races it across the west wing through the library. Yes, it is a hostage situation! Huddled on the library floor, some 30 staff and patients are under the guard of six goons who also guard the doors and windows. A seventh, perhaps in charge, paces nervously by the main door, watching the corridor to the foyer. He calls:
“I’m not gonna wait! Here’s the deal: you Capes pull back, we get outta here, an’ nobody gets hurt!”
Holmes relays the layout to his team-mates, and the Massive prepare for action.
Crisis averted: Absent Candyman
Bad Tripp – incredibly – appears over the heads of the hostages, sliding through the ceiling like a large, ill-mannered graffiti ghost. As his feet hit the ground he solidifies: claps his hands overhead with an almighty BOOM and everyone in the room reels, dazed.
In his wake Wraith lines up three goons and lets his blaster rip: the extended stun cone knocks one down. Holmes drops another with a mental blast.
Tripp leaps over to the guard nearest Doc Ellis and Michelle Ken and clobbers him! Performer, now dressed in more traditional costume, rips a dazzling line of lights across the door guards who return fire: but dazzled as they are they do not see the bullets passing harmlessly through their intended target – Performer’s mortal coil is still slumped over in the john!
Nightfall flashes like a fullback through the doors, knocking the guards there down, and Wraith takes out the last couple with close-range shots. Though the hostages are scared and clutching ringing ears, none have been harmed!
By the time the Channel Three news-van arrives, the Freedom City Massive has bowed out.
Back on the Case
1730 hours: Kingston: the Massive wander back into Falweather’s house, through the remains of the front door. They pick up where they left off. Holmes admires the décor of a bachelor’s house: runs an educated eye along the crowded bookshelves. Some texts, he swiftly concludes, are there by necessity. These would be college set texts, and even the animal-rights material. Others are well-thumbed: ape books; a big cat book; a section of a reference book dealing with inter-species breeding.
A post-cog in the kitchen produces the disturbing image:
Jeremy is scarfing cubes of raw beef like popcorn. The phone rings:
A deep voice can be heard in reply. Holmes pushes himself mentally closer to the receiver:
“…meet in the agreed place. No mistake.”
“There won’t be. She’s primed and ready.”
“That will be satisfactory.”
“OK, thanks boss.”
Wraith walks in on the séance:
“I’ve been flicking through Jeremy’s finances. He’s being paid a stipend out of the Bahamas. The house is freehold so he’s only covering utilities and local tax. Nice for some.”
“Who do we know who works out of the Bahamas?” Nightfall asks rhetorically.
“Broker, maybe, though it’s a convenient place for all sorts of financial arrangements.”
“Have a try at the phone – the last phone call was from Doc Simian,” Holmes suggests.
Wraith’s blank face-plate turns eagerly on the new challenge and he reaches out with his array of electronics. Within a very short time he turns back to the Massive:
“It came from an extension inside Hanover Zoo.”
Night at the Zoo
Bodies slumped in Joe Tripley’s van in the zoo parking lot, Performer and Holmes ghost through the zoo grounds: Wraith does the same in person. Holmes makes straight for Baboon Island, a relatively small moated enclosure where the baboons have only one dead tree to play on during the long days. Two baboons are awake and up the tree: they’ve obviously been disturbed in some way! Or are they… lookouts? Holmes’ astral skin crawls and he relays the warning.
Performer begins a search through and under the enclosure and the most adjacent buildings. One, a three-story building, appears to be a veterinary center. No windows on the ground floor. But on the ground level, eight gorillas are floating in some type of chemical, one to a vat, with gaseous compounds being fed into their breathing apparatus. This must be where those missing vats ended up!
Wraith follows up, and as he assesses the set-up, mind racing as he contemplates some Planet of the Apes type scenario, the physical Massive collect back at the van and move on the vet clinic. Performer lifts Holmes in his telekinetic grasp, while Bad Tripp and Nightfall leap and glide respectively. Over in the baboon enclosure the inmates wake and screech…
Wraith ghosts up the building: sure enough, on the next floor the Bomb is packing a duffel ready to leave. Wraith grins inside his faceless helm and drifts next to the unwitting Bomb: then becoming tangible, pulls O’Shaunnessey toward the wall! But the Bomb wrenches himself clear, spins to face his tormenter and triggers a Claymore bomb strapped to his abdomen! Only in the nick of time does Wraith realize what Bomb is doing and flicks back to intangibility as the walls are shredded apart. A noise sounds from above. Then Wraith closes again and this time, succeeds in pulling Bomb out into the air! As he floats the writhing victim away from the building, Wraith passes what he heard over to the team.
Down on the ground, the baboons have somehow crossed the moat and are gathering menacingly! Performer shreds off a string of dazzling lights and the apes recoil slightly. Holmes hits the ground clumsily as he’s released from Performer’s telekinesis: rolls to his knees: throws a scare into the dominant male! He’s bought some time: but not a lot: and Performer grumbles mightily as he wrenches Holmes back up into the air away from danger.
The third-floor window bursts in as Bad Tripp and Nightfall make an entrance. Candyman stands cuffed to a table while Doc Simian inspects two beings: Skylark, who stands poised with a metal band on her graceful head; and a humanoid who, though bearing the muzzle, long hairy limbs and claws of a baboon, also bears blasphemous traces of Jeremy Falweather! Tripp rushes across the room, clotheslines both Jerryape and Skylark: spins to face them again, poised for action. Nightfall whips his bolas over at Doc Simian, but the BrainApe shows a surprisingly agile turn, leaping over the tangling device and activating his chair from the next room.
As Performer raises Holmes level with the window, he sees Skylark and Jerryape leap back to their feet and pound on the nimble Nightfall, who dodges Skylark but not Jerryape. As swiftly as he safely can, Performer deposits Holmes into the room: blasts Jerryape: without effect. Tripp rushes the fight: locks himself onto Skylark who struggles helplessly in his grip:
“Pull th’ gadget off’n her head!”
Performer focuses his telekinetic power: power that can pull a roof apart: the metal circlet pulls delicately away from Skylark! She blinks in recognition: she is free!
There’s a tremendous crash as the hover-chair rockets away up through the building: Doc Simian has fled! Jerryape kicks Holmes in the head and flees too: out through the window in one tremendous bound!
Performer sees Wraith casually pitch the Bomb into the baboon enclosure’s moat, whip out his blaster and with great accuracy knock Jerryape staggering to his knees on a rooftop. Next, Skylark comes bounding over with blood in her eye: screams: “Eat these ya faux-Vegan mutha!” and smashes several blows onto JerryApe. Then the carnage is blotted out as Bad Tripp leaps atop the roof and looms over the fight: a huge hand sweeps down: JerryApe struggles no more.
Absent Candyman Again
Returning from rescuing Bomb from his watery peril, Performer gets the call from Wraith:
“Nightfall’s been poisoned, and Candyman’s gone!”
Performer sees Skylark bounding south to guard the southern gate, and Bad Tripp trudging back toward the parking lot toting the unconscious – and now fully human – Jeremy. Passing Bomb to Tripp, Performer sweeps the western part of the Zoo as swiftly as his uncanny powers allow. Several zoo staff wander like zombies around the darkened enclosures: but of the Candyman there is no sign!