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Interlude Thirty point One, Come Up to the Lab and see What's on the Slab

Flex rested for a while on the side of a building overlooking one of the small parks near the Wander-No-More House. Something caught his eye, a woman on a bench with a small group of men surrounding her. The men seemed to be taunting the woman.

"Now, now this doesn't seem to be right!" Flex thought to himself. Detaching his moulded hands with and audible plopping sound Flex, leapt up onto the roof nearby. Sizing up the situation, Flex prepared himself to leap almost ontop of the men. "This should give them a scare and turn the tables a little bit." Flex thought a smile creeping over his face. He hated to see men treat women in that superior bullish way, that some felt the need to do. Let alone a whole group of them.

Muscles bunched and gathered under Flex's plyable skin as his boddy shot with the force of a rocket, from the roof over the road and into the park. Landing almost silently, Flex immedialty sought to draw the mens attention by a similar show of force. His muscles and skin rippled and he litterally seem to inflate causing Flex to grow to almost double his size. As he did he motioned to the lady to stay calm. "What a nice night to be out for a stroll. Oh look a bunch of jokers, with nothing better to do than bully a young lady here on her own. Well what a sporting piece of bravery that is." Flex allowed the sarcasm in his voice to drip of every word, as he waited for the men to face him.

The men turned, "It's Flex!" cried one. The started to fan out. There were three of them, and the two on the left pulled blackjacks out of their pockets.

"Boys, boys your mom is going to have to ground you again. That is after I have had to teach you a lesson in manners."

Flex swung a looping left that caught one of the blackjack wielding men square on the chin and dropped him to the ground. His right arm snaked out toward the man on the right, who blocked it away. The remaining man with the blackjack rushed in and took a swing. The other man continued around behind Flex, before closing in and trying to kick the hero in the back.

"Now wait your turn and line up like good boys. Hey and no sneaking up on Flex or else he'll have to give you extra." Flex taunted as he blocked the men and fired off his shots. As this was going on Flex shouted to the lady, "Mam, now would be a good time to call the police. I will be through here in a moment. OK?"

Flex let out a breath as the kick from the man who had been behind him slammed home. Then fired back with a pair of punches. The first knocked the man off-balance and set up the second punch, but the man smoothly deflected the blow.

"Ok so can you tell me, was this a private party or were you expecting me to gate crash?" Flex smiled it was good to be in action again. "Although I am surprised this punk has not dropped yet." Flex thought as he moved into to take him out as quickly as he could, mindful of the others circling around.

Flex realized this man was good, very good. His foe blocked two punches and sidestepped one, and even though Flex'es blows were drived with superhuman strength, the man seemed relatively unharmed. Flex changed tactics and stepped back to lash out at the remaining sap-wielder, landing a solid punch that knocked the man out cold.

He turned to face the first man who was closing in and attacking. The man landed a vicious kick to Flex'es belly.

The breath whooshed out of the hero at the impact. He reconsidered the threat facing him, when a weight struck him from behind. Someone had jumped on his back and was trying to wrap him up in some kind of wrestling or martial arts hold.

"Man oh man, talking about appearances and being deceived." Flex thought as his unknown assailant tried to grapple with him.

Whoever it was on his back, wrapped another arm around Flex and began to squeeze. He felt as though he was in the grip of a giant constrictor snake of some kind.

"Finish him, Richardson," said a female voice from his back. Flex gasped for breath and could barely even look up as the martial artist he had been fighting stepped in, measured him and through a punch across his jaw. Then he was unconscious.

 		*		*		*		*
He was vaguely aware of the passage of time. Impressions came to his disordered mind: a smell of antiseptic, a feel of wetness, a roughness in his throat, a dim watery light.

 		*		*		*		*
Flex blinked. He was awake. He was underwater. No, not quite. He was ... he was in one of Saruva's tubes! Looking out through the the glass, he saw a lab dimly lit by emergency lights, to his left and right were more tubes and in them floated women, the same women he had last seen under the subway tunnels. He, like them, was naked and had a tube down his throat and a mask over his face.

Disoriented Flex began to wildly thrash around. But as he did he felt the himself instictively draw in oxygen from the mask. Whatever he was hooked up to was meant to keep him alive. But even as he realised that he was safe, Flex knew he was only safe for the moment. He had to think of a way out.

Looking around Flex took the opportunity to study where he was and what was being done to him and the others. He also wondered if Saruva's 'pets' were around. Looking about Flex looked to see if he could spot them.

As he looked around Flex tried hard not to worry about what Saruva might have been doing to him. He tried to distract his mind from the intruding thoughts of his imagination thinking of his Mom and other close friends being in similar tubes. "I have to break out and stop this madman once and for all." Flex thought.

Seeing that their was no one around he began to test his powers and then see if he could open the catches that kept him in this canister. Seeing that his powers worked still Flex slipped toward one of the sealed inlets for the many and various tubes that came into the canister, forced it open and slipped out. Once outside he shapechanged clothes back on himself and began to look about for some clues as to where he was and what he could do to stop it.

Outside he could see that the lab was laid out almost identically to the last time he had been in Saruva's lab. The tables were laid out similarly, and the cases with notes and so forth were in place. The controls for the tubes looked slightly different, simpler somehow, and he could see that there was one control panel for each tube, and they were numbered corresponding to numbers on the tubes. There were two doors, one on each side of the lab, and as he looked, he saw that one had a piece of paper taped to it that read "EXIT."

"OK!" Flex thought to himself, "How am I going to get the girls free, tell the Protectors where I am? And stop Saruva before he can stop me? Blast it, I bet the Protectors don't have this kind of dilema." Flex mumbled in a frustrated tone to himself.

Moving over to the various doors Flex listened to hear if he was going to be disturbed. Then he moved stealthly back to the exit. "Better see what kind of escape root I have, before I try and free any of these ladies." Flex thought to himself.

As Flex reached the door with the sign on it, he heard a soft "whoomph" sound from the other direction. The lights in the lab flickered for a moment, and then battery powered emergency lights came on lighting the lab better than it had been lit before.

"What the...?" Flex paused at the sound and the sight of the lights coming on. Spinning he again listened at the door he was at then leapt across to the other door. Countless thoughts whirled around Flex's head, his own fear caught in his throat. Although gifted unexpectedly by these powers, in recent adventures he had come to realise how vulnerable he felt on his own. At least in a gang, although between jobs you couldn't rely on many of them, on a job everyone watched everyone else's back. "There are to many variables here and I haven't a clue how to operate in such a situation." Flex realised his worst enemy right now was his own fear, it would sap his resolve and limit his focus. "Pull it together fella, what right have you got to feel sorry for yourself? These ladies need a saviour and someone has elected you!"

Flex didn't hear anything that sounded like it was coming at him, although there did seem to be something happening beyond the door, and he thought he smelled smoke.

He decided to try and free the girls since it didn't sound like he would be disturbed. Examining the layout, it was similar to the one in the subway lab, but the control panels seemed simpler. Each tube had a single column of controls, labeled as to which tube it controlled. All the tubes had the controls set to the same settings except one - the one in which Flex had been imprisoned. In that column, several settings were dramatically different - three of them were turned all the way to the off position, and several others had been adjusted up or down.

Relieved about the lack of unfriendly attention but concerned about the smell of smoke, Flex sought to move quickly.

"Now lets see if I can work this out," He mumbled to himself.

"Hmm...I don't want to kill the girls, so I think I will adjust these one at a time. Seeing as my own controls seemed to be set in such a way that allowed me to wake, up lets see if that works for the girls!"

With that Flex choose the first colume and adjust the first dial to match the setting on the column that controlled the tube he was in.

After a moment, the woman in that tube started to show signs of waking. Flex rapidly changed the controls on the remaining five columns. About that time, the woman in the first column started to freak out - her eyes got wide and she started thrashing about. Understable, Flex himself felt the same way when he woke up.

Motioning to the women he indicated for them to calm down. Not sure if his voice would be heard or not he spoke as loudly as he dared. "Its OK. My name is Flex and I am here to get you free from the tubes. Please be calm you are being fed oxygen by your mask you will not drown." Flex moved about seeking to reassure the ladies as best he could. Realising how frightened they must feel. Moving over to the first lady he sought to undo the catches that must free her from the liquid and the tube.

Flex was able to free the women without too much difficulty, although several of them were nearly hysterical. "What's happening? Why are we here? Where are we? Am I pregnant?" These questions and more flew at Flex as he tried to get the woman settled together.

"Ladies - I don't have time to explain in details, as we are not out of danger yet. But I promise you a full explanation, as soon as we are free from this facility. What I need you all to do is remain calm. We might encounter some resistance, but I will take care of it!" Flex said hurriedly, trying to sounding more confident than he felt. "Now because of you medical condition we will go slow, so please hang onto each other and follow me."

The ladies nodded their heads obviously terrified and still somewhat disorientated by what had gone on.

The small party moved carefully toward the exit door. As the party reached it a urgent thought occurred to Flex. "Stay here a moment. You..." Flex indicated the lead lady, "Listen at this door in case anyone should come." With that Flex leapt across the room to the book shelves and looking throughout the titles he selected any that he felt might help the medics sort these ladies out, together with anything else that looked helpful. Wrapping his flexible arm around the bundle, he made his way back to the door. After a further quick listening check, Flex opened the door slowly in preparation to lead the ladies out.

As the door opened slowly, Flex made sure that the frightened women were gathered behind him. "What am I going to find beyond this door?" Flex thought as he looked about. "This all seems a bit to easy, what is Saruva up to?" Flex shivered the thought of facing Saruva did not fill him with great joy as a result of their last meeting.

Although impetuous by nature Flex had been taught a lesson in that encounter. One that had cost the women, he was now attempting to rescue. Cost them their safety and dignity as a result of Saruva's single-minded quest for genetic information to be used to further his own twisted aims. Flex looked back at the rag tag bunch of refugees he had with him and offered a quick prayer. "If we get out of this, without casualties, it'll be a miracle!" He thought, as he motioned for them to follow him out of the door marked 'exit'.

The door led into an unremarkable small office attached to the front of a warehouse. Night peeped in the small windows at the front of the office, giving the fugitives their first hint at the time. The women followed Flex into the office and milled about.

Then from behind them, Flex heard a noise. He spun around and saw the other door to the lab swing open. Through the open door he saw smoke and flames, and then through the door came the Jackal. The Jackal slammed the door behind him and turned to face the lab.

Seeing the Jackel only a short distance away galvanised Flex into action. First he slammed the door and moved a desk on front of it to buy himself a little more time. Next he turned to the ladies and in as calm a voice as he could manage he spoke to them. "Right I need you to go out there as a group and find a telephone as quickly as possible. Here some change and call the police get them to come to this address. Catch the name of this warehouse as you leave. It is important you stay together. I will join you as soon as I can. whatever happens it is imperrative you do not look back. OK?" Flex looked for some sort of response that the ladies knew he meant business. "Don't need any of these girls to play hero tonight as well." Flex thought. He also distributed the files he had got among the ladies so no one took too much. "These are also important evidence. They may also tell us what has been going on with you. So hang onto them. Ok now go." Flex showed them out of the door and even as he did he heard the Jackel swipe at the door tearing a huge gash through the wood as if it were paper.

"Bad dog, Flex is going to have to punish you." Flex mumbled to himself as he sought the best position to jump out on his enemy.

Jackal shredded his way through the door and leapt through. Flex attacked growing into combat as he did so. The Jackal had somehow detected the blow and tried to roll with the punch. He slashed back with his claws.

"Now boy is that any way to treat the furniture. If I find any mess back there, you know the Doctor is going to be mad with you." Flex taunted. "I have got to make him mad, so he looses any interest in the women." Flex thought to himself, as he sought to get his fists up to parry the sharp claws of Jackal.

Flex leapt back, then leapt in again to strike. It was another ringing blow. The Jackal fought back with slashing claws.

"Well I wanted him mad, I've got him mad!" Flex thought as he sought to fend off the wild slashing attacks of the Jackal.

"Time to try something new." Flex thought as he sought to grapple Jackal, with his stretched arms in a bear hug. He wrapped the slashing man-beast up, taking another slash in the process. Then Flex had him thoroughly enveloped. He squeezed and after a moment of wild thrashing, the Jackal went limp.

"Right back to the Kennel for you." Flex said hardly believing he had won. He didn't have time for rest but as the adrenaline stopped pumping he felt the weight of what had just happened hit him. "Man that was scary and fun all at once." He mumbled to himself. He stopped to catch his breath for a moment then found some lead to bind up the Jackal.

In the Lab next door he could hear the fire and see the smoke beginning to pour into the office where he was, so Flex grabbed Jackal and moved out into the darkened street outside. Gaining his bearings he leapt to the nearest roof and looked for where the Ladies had got to. "Better see how they are getting on!" said Flex as he craned his extended neck about for where they might be.

Flex was in a warehouse district somewhere, he hoped he was still in Port Alexander but couldn't be sure. From his vantage point, he could see that the women had moved down the block toward the only friendly source of light -- a gas station. They were just reaching it now, to the interest of the late night attendant.

"Hmm" Flex thought to himself, "Wonder where we are exactly?" Moving swiftly Flex soon covered the distance between himself and the gas station. Startling one lone attendant, as he dropped down beside the small serving window, with Jackal still bundled up beside him.

As the ladies approached he spoke up, "I think that danger is over. Stay together and we'll contact the police get you to a hospital and see if we can't get you sorted out." Flex said in a tone of voice he hoped sounded reassuring to them.

Turning to the dumbfounded Petrol attendant Flex said, "Hi I have a question, Can you phone 911 for the police and for an ambulance to urgently get here? Also tell the police they will need to take custody of this beasty." Flex said indicating the oblivious Jackal. "He's a nasty Super Human called Jackal. And no he doesn't have fleas, but yes he does have a nasty bite. Ok! Got that."

The stunned attendant nodded and grabbed for his phone.

Flex waited around the petrol station, taking the chance to look through the files that he'd found in Saruva's lab. He looked through in order to separate the ones that would help the Doctors with the ladies, from the ones that might help him.

"Last time I'd got my hands on some of the these, those IPAC people grabbed them. Well they are not getting these ones." Flex determined as he ponder the contents to himself. "Saruva is still on the loose and I want to see if I can keep up with him." Continued Flex to himself as he used the task as an opportunity to keep his mind off the stares he got from passers by.

The police and ambulance showed up in good time and Flex handed over his captive and the ladies to the respective agencies. As the girls left, Flex tried to say something to make it better. "This still reminds me of Mom" He thought, as the ladies were made comfortable in the back of the ambulance. "Mom was bundled off, just like these girls, helpless and facing who knew what. Well at least they may come out of this in the end."

Flex was about to leave when he suddenly found himself surrounded by a clutch of reporters, attempting to shove either cameras or microphones into his face.

"Sir can you explain what is going on here?"

"Is it true that you were denied ..."

They buzzed around Flex like angry bees, hounding him, slapping him with their insistent questions. And that was it, Flex had, had enough. Flex got angry ...

"WILL YOU STOP IT." He said growing suddenly to almost twice his height and mass, in a matter of moments. The stunned silence reassured him that he had got their attention. Allowing himself to shrink down, he started again.

"Ok that's better! Now I will tell you briefly what has been going on and no more, OK?" Not stopping for an answer, Flex began to explain. He suddenly felt tired and these questions were not what he expected.

"I was on patrol.." He began, as he related the hit at the park, waking up and escaping in the lab and then the break out with the women. Finally Flex got to the part about Jackal, "The only creep you saw being taken away, is the Jackal a nasty creation of the brains behind this little operation. As regards to his whereabouts and what has happened ... well investigations are ongoing. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm taking a well earned rest." And with that, Flex leapt over the heads of the various media crews, to where he had been reading Saruva's papers and then away into the night.

Last Updated 19 November 2002