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Issue Seven, Jewel Part Two

In the CommerceDome parking lot, the Wanderer and the Mystic regarded the empty IPAC van and Lincoln Continental with some concern. A distracted look crossed the Mystic's face. "More help comes,"he said.

Fervor raced into the CommerceDome parking lot and looked around. He spotted the IPAC van and made for it, then pulled up short when the Wanderer stepped out of the shadows.

"We have got to stop meeting like this!" The Wanderer said.

"You got that right," Fervor replied.

"I am glad you are here," said the Wanderer. "There is great evil within this complex, a fact I'm afraid the occupants of this van have found out the hard way. What brought you here?"

"White Knight and Glory got caught up in some sort of trap and I was called in to get them out. I tried to get in touch with you but with my luck you listen to acid rock. I don't have much in the way of information just that our guys are in trouble and it took us to much time to get here. Anything else we can catch up with on the way." Fervor started to jog towards the entrance of the CommerceDome.

"For once in my life I can say without exaggeration, that in there," the Wanderer pointed to the Dome, "potentially lies the fate of this world," intimated The Wanderer as he fell into step behind the jogging Fervor. "Simply put, there is a character named Darkspell that has in his possession a legendary jewel whose power is infinite. I don't expect you to have heard of it, but the name the 'Jewel of All-Devouring' pretty much says it all."

"Fortunately, we have an ally who understands the severity of this situation and more importantly, he knows the Jewel," said The Wanderer looking around for The Mystic.

"Wait a moment, please," came another voice from the shadows and the Mystic stepped forward. "We will do your friends no favors if we run in foolishly. We must do some reconnaissance."

The Mystic sank down into a lotus position, "I shall call on the Spirit of Vieltoor to guide me and examine our surroundings." He closed his eyes and his breathing slowed. Fervor and the Wanderer blinked as they saw, or thought they saw, a ghostlike representation of the Mystic rise out of the seated man's body and float off toward the CommerceDome.

Fervor only slowed down a bit as he called back to the sitting Mystic. "Let us know what you find but I'm not going to waste any time getting in. If Glory and White Knight are still moving then we'll hear them if not then we hit them fast. Wanderer, You get the jewel and get out and I'll do my best to slow them down."

Thrown by Fervor's hotheaded attitude, The Wanderer's jog decelerates into a trot and then to a standstill. "That is not wise, my friend. A foolhardy charge into the unknown will not help our friends at all." Pleading, The Wanderer calls out "Fervor. This isn't some bargain basement cheap hood knocking over a pawn shop, if the White Knight and Glory are in trouble then that should serve as a warning that whatever is in there requires a careful gameplan. Rushing in blind will just assure us the same fate. Let The Mystic investigate...knowledge and preparation are our greatest allies -- not to mention surprise."

The minutes passed slowly as Fervor and Wanderer paced anxiously by the Mystic's motionless form. Then his eyes fluttered and opened. Without preamble, he began to speak, "There are four of them. Darkspell I recognize, and also a demon. Although I do not know which demon it is, I know the race, and unless I am surprised this one has been summoned to do battle on a physical plane. He should be strong and fast, but not terribly bright. There are two others that I do not recognize, one dressed in green with a yellow lightning bolt motif and another dressed in robes. That one I take to be also a practitioner of the mystic arts.

"The White Knight, another armoured figure, and five men in black jumpsuits are all bound in the end-zone, chained to the goalposts. With them are the demon and man in green.

"Centerfield there is a small podium, Darkspell and the robed man are there. Also there is the Jewel. The Jewel is not yet attuned, but I think they are near. How near, I can not tell."

"So now that we have done recon how about I'll cause a distraction, Wanderer get the amulet and get out and Mystic see if you can free White Knight and Glory," Fervor said.

"That sounds groovy," joked The Wanderer. "I imagine Darkspell will be calling the shots, so as the big cheese he'll send his goons after you, Fervor. This should create an opening for the prison break." With a tinge of concern in his voice, The Wanderer added "And once you are free, come help me. I can get in easily --- getting out will require the calvary."

The Mystic, The Wanderer and Fervor made their plans and then prepared to depart. With a soft pop, the Wanderer disappeared. The Mystic wrapped his cloak around himself and disappeared into it, leaving nothing behind.

Left to himself, Fervor moved to the door and through it. He took a quick left turn and moved assuredly through the darkened stadium toward the control room.

Above the CommerceDome, a circling hawk noted the action and swooped down to an open window. It darted down a corridor and out into the CommerceDome, swooping down to land on the Black Druid's outstretched arm. The two, man and bird, seemed to commune for a moment, then the Black Druid spoke softly to Darkspell.

Darkspell stood in front of a glowing gem on the altar or podium set mid-field. He listened to the Black Druid for a moment, then spat out, "Deal with it!" before turning his full concentration back to the gem.

A few moments later, the strains of "We Will Rock You" by Queen began to pour out of the stadium speakers and high volume. Rack after rack of lights burst into life covering the field and seats.

From where he crouched near the door, the Wanderer could see the Black Druid, with a hawk on his shoulder, and Darkspell on the podium. When the lights flashed on, a look of annoyance crossed Darkspell's face. The Black Druid's form wavered for a moment and then there were two birds on the podium. With a startled cry, the hawk beat its wings as it suddenly found itself airborne. The giant eagle was already moving, powerful wings sending it sailing up toward the control booth high above.

Iron Maiden and the White Knight checked their surroundings, they could see Volt and Blaz positioned on either side of the entryway in ambush position. As one they began to strain at the massive tree roots which bound them tightly to the goalposts. From behind them came a soft sussuration and a calm voice, "One moment, the Fires of Vieltoor shall free you from your bonds." A moment later, a few roots parted as flame licked at them, and with a surge of energy the two armoured titans burst free and turned to face the new arrival.

"I am the Mystic, Fervor is above us, the Wanderer shall attempt to grab the Jewel of All-Devouring at any moment, but I fear he shall find himself in hot water," said the Mystic.

At that moment, seeing Darkspell alone on the podium, the Wanderer moved. He vanished from his hiding place and re-appeared on the podium by Darkspell.

Fervor left the control room at top speed and headed for the lighting catwalks at top speed. A huge eagle swooped down ahead of him and landed on the catwalk perhaps 7 meters away. As it landed, its shape flowed like water and Black Druid stood there. "I think not," he said, and raised his hands.

"You might have done OK in the first half but this game is far from over," Fervor told the robed man. "We've got the home team advantage here and I have a habit of not disappointing the fans."

"Hike!" Fervor yelled as he brought his arm back in a classic quarterback pose. Lacking a backfield to maneuver properly, the hero did a quick head fake and snaps his hand forward releasing a wave of heat at the druid. The Black Druid made a warding gesture saying, "The Fires of Vermithrax shall shield me, fool!" Flames flew outward from his hands met the incoming wave of heat. Metal ran like water and dripped down off the catwalk, leaving a blistered red patch.

"Now, you shall feel the Fires of Vermithrax," raged the Black Druid as he sent the flames toward Fervor, "This is the second time you have interfered with my plans, and it shall be the last!" Fervor leapt back off the catwalk and avoided most of the flames.

Darkspell was taken aback by the sudden appearance of The Wanderer and had little time to recover as the man in black cocked his fist. In a blur, The Wanderer let loose with a right hand aimed for Darkspell's jaw, while quipping "Can you spell KO?" Darkspell jerked away by reflex and received only a glancing blow.

"Curse you, the attunement is ruined! You shall pay for your interference," cried Darkspell. "The Cold of Daemonus shall be the instrument of your chastisement. The mage leapt gracefully backwards off the podium, and completed his spell in mid-air sending twin blasts of unnatural cold at the Wanderer.

The Wanderer tried to duck away, but Darkspell's unnatural agility took him by surprise and he absorbed the brunt of the attack.

Darkspell landed easily, and again invoked the Cold of Daemonus. The mystic chill lashed out again toward the Wanderer striking the strange hero dead on.

In the end zone, Iron Maiden pulled the goal post from the ground, then rent it into a workable length. "C'mon," she said to White Knight, "let's bring it to them. Double team 'em!" She raced toward the fifty yard line with that inhuman speed which she had lately been displaying. A moment later, the Mystic and the White Knight followed.

Blaz turned and lumbered toward the incoming heroes, and Volt hopped down from the seating and came after.

"There's too many," Iron Maiden said to White Knight over her radio link. "Let's double team this clown and start payin' 'em back!"

"Negative Maiden. If we tag team Blaz, Volt can take us at his leisure. We need to take out the ranged attacks first, then we can mop up Blaz," came the reply.

On the catwalk, The Black Druid continued to rant, "I didn't recognize your compatriots at first; one armoured fool looks much like another, but you are distinctive, damn your eyes! Taste again the Fires of Vermithrax!" Whether it was his anger or the added room that Fervor had to move in, the blast went wide.

Back on the field, Volt pulled up short, "I beat you before, White Knight, and I can do it again!" Electricty surged toward the armoured figure smashing him back. Internal gyros whirred and the White Knight landed on his feet and charged in at Volt.

Blaz gave a yell and charged at Iron Maiden, almost tripping in his eagerness to close with his foe.

The Mystic ignored both Blaz and Volt and continued to charge in toward Darkspell.

As he ran, the White Knight radioed the Iron Maiden, "Maiden, watch out for Blaz! He's unnaturally accurate with his punches!" He switched off the radio and shouted, "As for you Volt, If you defeated me, how come I'm still in the game? I've always enjoyed the Fourth Quarter comeback!"

"Enjoy this, then," shouted Volt and again raised his arms. This time the White Knight was ready, and he avoided most of the impact.

Darkspell landed easily, and again invoked the Cold of Daemonus. The mystic chill lashed out again toward the Wanderer striking the strange hero full on.

Gritting his teeth through the painful frigid blast The Wanderer, grunted out "Unnhh, nothing like a cold one at the game, eh?" With the Jewel in sight, the Wanderer dove for the glowing gem, scooping it up off the podium.

The Wanderer secured the Jewel of All-Devouring settling it into the crook of his right arm like a football. "Fumble recovered..." with his words trailing off into the *pop* of the atmospheric rift, materializing near the charging Mystic, "...and TOUCHDOWN!" The visibly tired Wanderer could barely pull off the animated celebratory dance...but he tried.

The Mystic accepted the Jewel as Darkspell spun around angrily, his gaze coming to light on the Mystic now holding the jewel. "You!" he spat. "Let the Cold of Daemonus shrivel the life from your frame!" The by-now familar blast of cold arched toward the Mystic.

The Mystic swung his cloak up in a warding gesture, but was a little too late, and the blast staggered him, and he fell to one knee. "You will have to do better than that, Darkspell," he shouted.

"Bite down on this, monkey boy," Iron Maiden yelled as she swung the goal post. She was hoping Blaz was either too slow to avoid it, in which case hitting him with it was just dandy, or he'd go for the faint and she'd quite abruptly drop it and pounce on him, delivering a quite nasty sock to the jaw.

Blaz ducked the swinging post, but left himself open. The post went flying as IM let go of it to step in close and land a solid right to the demon, knocking back a step and down. Iron Maiden followed and gave a nice place-kick on the downed demon lifting him and sending him 6 yards downfield. Blaz slowly got to his feet.

Up on the catwalks, Fervor quipped, "You'll have to do better than that old boy if you want to compete in the majors," as the Black Druid's blast passed him by. "Now you can feel the heat of Kicyurax."

Again the Fires of Vermithrax leapt out to combat the incoming blast of heat. This time the conflagration was closer to the Black Druid than before, and sweat popped out on his face.

With a shreik, the tortured metal of the catwalk gave way as several more bolts melted in the intense heat. Black Druid cried out as he tumbled off and began to plummet toward the field below.

With cocked fists, Iron Maiden moved in on the demon Blaz in a blur of motion. She ducked a series of wild punches by the demon then fired a quick left that knocked the demon sideways a few steps and he slipped to one knee. Iron Maiden blurred over again and fired another punch -- a straight jab. The demon flipped backwards and sailed another six or so yards. Iron Maiden followed.

"Go down, damn you," shouted Volt and he fired another blast of electricity at the White Knight, again the Knight dodged, the blast seemed to sparkle harmlessly off his force shield. Volt looked over at the White Knight who was still standing and muttered under his breath. Then he turned and took off, almost running over The Wanderer who was crouching low to the ground and breathing heavily. After a quick moment of surprise, the White Knight took off after him.

"Crap," Fervor thought as he saw the villain start to head toward the ground. He ran to the railing, hoping that the villain could right himself.

The Black Druid's cry became a shriek as again his form ran like water and took on the form of an eagle. The bird swooped around and came up again to the level where Fervor was and landed then shifted form back into the Black Druid.

Darkspell invoked the Cold of Daemonus again, sending another icy blast at the Mystic, although it went wide. "I'll crush you with my bare hands!" he yelled and charged at the Mystic leaping into the air as he came.

The Mystic sidestepped saying, "I think not, evil one. The Fires of Vieltoor shall purge your soul." A bolt of mystic flame shot toward Darkspell but missed the rapidly moving sorceror.

The Wanderer pushed himself up and raced after Volt, lauching himself into a flying tackle at the end. Volt heard him at the last moment, and tried to dodge out of the way but couldn't. The Wanderer crashed into him and took him back two yards, but didn't quite complete the "sack".

"Neat trick." Fervor commented as the Black Druid solidified back up on the catwalks. "Turning into a turkey and all. Time to roast me a bird."

Fervor raised his hands once more lash out at his opponent hoping to end the fight so as to help his friends below. The heat wave went wide, but it distracted the Black Druid long enough for Fervor to close and swing a fist.

"This is most unseemly," said the Black Druid as he raised his hands, "begone!" A wind sprang up from nowhere and started to swirl around Fervor as the Black Druid retreated a few steps.

Fervor struggled through the wind to close in on the Druid and swung again, and again, raining blows on the Druid, as the Druid kept giving ground.

Down below, Darkspell completed his dodge and stopped to swing at the Mystic. "Daemonus lends me strength, fool!" His first punch was wild, but his second looked to be right on target. It caught the Mystic off-balance and sent him back 6 yards, although he kept his feet.

"Ah, some room to breathe," commented the Mystic, "now the Flames of Vieltoor shall prove their worth." The mystic flame lapped out for Darkspell, who jumped clear with inhuman grace.

The Mystic tracked him with the fire, but the enemy wizard kept dodging.

Blaz got to his feet and roared his defiance, swinging massive fists at the Iron Maiden. The first blow slid off her armour, but the second landed solidly. Iron Maiden grunted but stood her ground, then she dove in as if to tackle Blaz, only to swerve at the last minute and come up behind him. She hooked one arm around his massive neck, then after a moment of flailing about got the other one in place and began to choke and squeeze.

Volt broke the Wanderer's tackle, and continued his headlong flight.

The White Knight looked up and glanced at the catwalks high above the field. He raised his hand and with a soft chuff, a length of cable snaked up and clamped on to one catwalk, and with a whirr, the White Knight was lifted into the air and began to swing.

He caught Volt at about the 30 yard line, crashing into him, even as the fleeing man tried to dodge. The two men ended up facing each other.

The White Knight quickly recovered his balance, and swung at Volt. Volt tried to dodge, but couldn't avoid all the blow. White Knight kept the pressure on with lefts and rights. Finally, he saw the opening he wanted and landed a roundhouse right that snapped Volt completely around and sent him crumpling to the ground a few feet away.

The Mystic continued to spew flame at Darkspell, to little effect. Darkspell turned his dodge into an advance closing in and swinging a punch. The Mystic shifted to avoid it and the Flames of Vieltoor flickered out.

Fervor continued to close in and throw punches at the Black Druid, who staggered back, then retreated another few yards.

The Iron Maiden had a strong grip on Blaz and was putting a great deal of stress on the demon's head and neck. Looking a little wooozy, the demon lashed out with elbows and fists trying to dislodge the Iron Maiden, who absorbed the punishment and hung on like grim death.

The Mystic continued to spew flame at Darkspell, to little effect. Darkspell turned his dodge into an advance closing in and swinging a punch. The Mystic shifted to avoid it and the Flames of Vieltoor flickered out.

The Wanderer, seeing Volt fall to the turf, turned his attention back to the duel between Darkspell and the Mystic. With Darkspell intent upon striking the Mystic, The Wanderer disappeared and reappeared behind the practitioner of the black arts.

Before Darkspell could unleash his cocked arm it was caught from behind, and the mage was spun around face-to-face with The Wanderer. "By the Black Leather Glove of Macy's, I banish thee!," stated The Wanderer before sending a heavy right hand into Darkspell's jaw. The mage was driven back, flipped backwards to land on his feet.

The Mystic took advantage of Darkspell's distraction to summon again the Flames of Vieltoor. Some mystical sense warned Darkspell of his danger and he managed to send the Cold of Daemonus to ward off the blast.

That let the Wanderer step in and swing again. Darkspell dodged, but was now obviously living on borrowed time as another blast of mystic flame zipped through the space near him.

Blaz's struggles were going weaker, as he gamely tried to break free of the Iron Maiden's grip. In response, she squeezed again, and Blaz slumped into unconsciousness.

The Black Druid seemed satisfied with the wind he had created, "Now feel the Fires of Vermithrax!" he crowed.

"Looks like your team fumbled the ball down there." Fervor said as he attempts to parry the mystic flames. "Let's see who blinks first." Fervor's cockiness failed him, and the mystic blast slammed home.

He staggered back a step and sent a wave of heat toward the Black Druid, who slid out of the way.

"Curse you," spat the Druid. "The next time we meet, it shall be a different story." His form flowed and the giant eagle took his place. With a cry of rage, the bird dove off the platform and made for an exit a level below. Fervor could only watch as the bird shot through a tunnel and vanished from sight.

Iron Maiden released Blaz from her choke hold, span him around then hammered the Coup de Grace home with a dismissive, "And stay down!"

Pleased with herself, Iron Maiden turned toward where Mystic and the Wanderer continued to struggle with Darkspell. With a scowl and determination for payback, Iron Maiden charged toward the fray.

The White Knight took a careful aim and made sure that Volt wouldn't be up and fighting any time soon, then turned back to the remaining man on the ground. His lineslinger fired again and he started to sweep back toward mid-field.

The Wanderer swung again, as the others came to his aid. Darkspell narrowly avoided the blow. A moment later, the White Knight crashed toward him and again Darkspell rolled free -- and right into the Wanderer's fist. He spun around staggered back about 10 feet and then collapsed in a heap on the field.

Fervor quickly joined the others below, and the IPAC agents still bound to the goalposts were freed. Volt and Darkspell were bound securely, but when the agents went to bind Blaz, the demon dissolved leaving a stench of brimstone and a patch of dead grass on the field -- this despite the fact that it was artificial turf.

The Mystic removed the cloak from around Darkspell's shoulders, commenting, "The Cloak of Daemonus is the source of some of his powers, although by no means all." He carefully wrapped the Jewel of All Devouring in the cloak.

As these chores were being done, a horde of men erupted into the CommerceDome, led by Mr. Wilkins. He pulled up short, looked around, and said, "I see you decided not to wait."

Wilkins promptly set his men in motion loading the villains up for transport to the PNDF. He approached the heroes as the men got to work.

"Fervor, thanks very much for responding," he said. He looked at the Wanderer and the Mystic. "Wanderer, nice to see you again. I guess thanks are due to you, and to you, sir." The last was addressed to the Mystic. "I was worried when we lost contact with Iron Maiden and the White Knight. Thank you all."

"It is always nice to be seen," said the Wanderer as he then approached the Iron Maiden. "I don't believe I've had the pleasure, I am the Wanderer," followed with a bow.

"You can call me Iron Maiden," she said, smiling, but the greenish glow obscured her face somewhat. "Nice work you did out there," she added, offering her hand to shake -- just one of the

"White Knight, how is it that you came across this little party?," asked the The Wanderer.

"I was concerned by the recent spate of Jewelry Store Burglaries, so I decided to pay particular attention to the Diamond District in my patrolling. Earlier tonight I saw some suspicious activity at a Jewelry store, and proceeded to investigate," replied the White Knight.

"As I entered the building, Volt blindsided me, and damaged the power supply to my legs, enabling him to run off with the Jewel. I called for backup and then followed by bike as he speed away in his car. He soon spotted me and stopped to finish me off."

"I realized that his energy attack was too powerful for me to defend against in my already weakened condition, so I decided to distract him by aiming my bike straight at him while I dived of to the side and came up behind his car, where I would try to slap a tracer on it."

"He trashed my bike, and zapped me again. I briefly blacked out, but came to just in time to slap the tracer in place as Volt sped off."

"Half an hour later Iron Maiden and a vanload of Agents arrived, and we followed Volt here using the information from the tracer. We found his car abandoned in the car park near an opened service door. We followed him inside and saw him and Blaz standing on the podium. Our view from the players tunnel was restricted, and we couldn't see The Black Druid or Darkspell laying Ambush beside the tunnel."

Iron Maiden added, "I saw that character the Wanderer was taking on actually shapeshift into a bird and fly. He was probably reconnoitering from above. It sounds like they were drawing us here, but I can't figure out why."

She shifted her gaze to White Knight. "Jewel robberies. Hmm. And now you"--she indicated the Mystic with the jewel in his cloak--"have a nice shiny bauble. What the heck is going on here?"

"The Jewel of All-Devouring was long thought to be a myth," said the Mystic. "I thought so myself until this. Doubtless this was the goal of the robberies. The ancient Priest-Kings of forgotten Alan-Tor are said to have used it to command unswerving obedience from their subjects. If Darkspell had attuned it ... I do not know precisely what would have happened, but unswerving obedience to Darkspell would not be pleasant."

"Yeah, okay," Iron Maiden said slowly, "but why do I think you're not going to go jewelry shopping for some ancient mystical artifact. What, someone *lost* it and it ended up in a pawn shop? That'd be a little humiliating for a member of the Evil Wizard's guild, wouldn't it?"

The Mystic smiled, "It does sound odd, doesn't it?" He became serious, "I don't know how Darkspell discovered its whereabouts. It dropped out of sight thousands of years ago, which is why many thought it a myth. What chain of events brought it to a jewelry store here is a mystery." He turned pensive, "To those without the eyes to see, it is merely a pretty stone. Perhaps, it was hidden in plain sight around a royal neck here, on a noble cloak there, until Darkspell traced it to Port Alexander."

Iron Maiden tried to snap her fingers, but the gauntlet wouldn't cooperate. "Say, can't you spread a little bad press about this guy in your circle? Maybe he'll want to come for a little dish of revenge and we can put the hurt on him." She slapped a fist into her palm and a surprisingly loud SLAP.

"In my circle, Darkspell's press is as bad as press gets. Sadly, my circle is not the only one there is. If you let Darkspell slip out of your hands, he will be back for revenge, of that you may be sure. Mr. Wilkins, take great care with him. His skills are not mature, but his gift is strong. Without access to his tools and cloak, he is limited, he can call on only minor servitors of Daemonus, and summon the Cold of Daemonus, but major magics are denied him."

Iron Maiden shook her head. "No, I mean, talk about what a rank amateur he is, how he got his hat handed to him by a bunch of non-mystics...that kind of thing. I'm sure it'll trickle down to all the evil little wizards. It'd be like someone talking about me getting my ass kicked by a bunch of Army doggies. Guys in the Corps would never let me live that down. Let's turn this around on him. He might just get so mad he can't shoot straight. And let him send another dumb mutt--I'll choke him out too!"

The Mystic chuckled, "You have a certain poetry, don't you, Iron Maiden? Although you do yourself and your comrades a disservice. Seldom have I seen or heard of such a fine fighting force as this. The Eagles, perhaps, and The Hand of Seven, of course, but ... you four were and are impressive."

It was clear Iron Maiden was still amped from the fight. She was reveling in her new power and she realized how she must be sounding. "Uh, well, I'm just trying to say we should open a can of Whup-Ass on him before he opens up a Pit-O-Hell on us...know what I mean?"

The White Knight took up the narrative again, "We charged in only to be hit from behind, and despite our armour we were both hopelessly out gunned. Despite our best efforts we were overwhelmed after giving them a run for their money. We awoke shortly afterwards, tied to the goalposts, and then you arrived..."

"Got hit with some ungodly cold attack. It's like the armor wasn't even there. Didn't like that one bit! Least I got to choke that big lummox out. Like to have gotten hooks into that creep who clobbered us," Iron Maiden said, motioning to White Knight with her gauntleted hand.

"The Cold of Daemonus is a frigidity of the soul, not merely of the body," The Mystic shivered in sympathy. "I too have felt its bite."

"You know, Mystic," replied the White Knight, "we came out of this alright, although I fear that If it hadn't been for your timely assistance we would be ruing our current lack of co-ordination. As it stands we are four individuals who happen to work together at times. We could do with developing as a team if we are to tackle better organised opponents, otherwise such ambushes will become more and more common. It is a well known maxim to divide the enemy and defeat him in detail. If we persist in our individual approaches to crimefighting we make it that much easier for any organised opponents to defeat us one by one."

"Ideally, we should establish ourselves as a Team, with a base of operations we can use to develop co-ordinated combat tactics and pool our resources for more detailed investigations. I understand there is a large Manor for sale nearby, which might suffice if we can raise suitable funds. And I feel that this should be done seperate from the auspices of IPAC for the time being. No offence, Mr. Wilkins, we will still cooperate fully with any IPAC activities, it's just that distancing ourselves from your organisation may make it easier to work with the public and press. Ms Peters can be very persistent in her enquiries."

"As to a name for the team, which I feel will be useful even if it is only an informal 'team' in name only, how about 'The Guardians of Port Alexander', or 'The Guardians' for short?

The Wanderer threw his hands up in the air, "What a delightful suggestion! We could get matching jackets and hold drag races each Friday night...or not. Nevertheless, I support this idea. I assume you are referring to Castle Bragnore? A bit pricey, but it would serve our purpose well and there are some things in my garage I've been wanting to sell."

"If we take this slow, we should be able to get some government sponsorship." Fervor adds to the conversation. "We're going to need their approval anyway so we might as well let them foot some of cost."

Wilkins listened, then shook his head briskly, and was once again all business. "Most of you know the drill by now, we'd love to debrief and find out what was going on here and what we're dealing with as far as those guys go," he hooked a thumb at Volt and Darkspell. "You are all welcome to come back to the PNDF, or I can roust someone to interview you here."

"Responding in the heat of the moment is what I do best." Fervor told Wilkins. "I'm not going to have much to add in this report so you mind if I call it in later. I should have enough time to catch a few minutes more sleep before I need to be at work. Oh and you might want to get Wanderer's number. We got lucky this time."

"Right, you know how to reach us, we'll be expecting your call." Wilkins turned to the Wanderer, "Fervor has a point about reaching you. If you'd care to come back to the PNDF, we can explain about more about how we work."

"The night is young, lead on good man!" the Wanderer surveyed the CommerceDome and the mop up operation. "Score one for the home team."

"What about you?" asked Wilkins turning to the Mystic.

"I cannot stay," came the reply. "Have you a number at which you can be reached? I shall pass on such information as I can share. Right now, I have more pressing matters to deal with." He lifted the Cloak of Daemonus and the Jewel it contained slightly.

Wilkins raised an eyebrow, "Perhaps there is something there we can help with?"

The Mystic smiled, "I am not sure that I am competent to deal with it, Mr., ah ..."


"Mr. Wilkins. But I am certain that you are not." The Mystic turned to the Wanderer, "Thank you, my mysterious friend. You have helped avert a great catastrophe." He offered his hand and the Wanderer took it.

With a firm handshake the Wanderer nodded, "All in a day's work, only next time keep your little man out of my boudoir. He cramps my style." The Wanderer looks over to the puzzled faces surrounding him and gives a explanatory "It's a long story." Without missing a beat, the Wanderer perked up "Mr. Wilkins, I believe we have an appointment."

"Yes, let me just make sure we're finished here." Wilkins turned back to his team.

After waiting for Wanderer and Mystic to finish talking, the White Knight approached Mystic and said "If nothing else, your timely intervention certainly saved Iron Maiden and myself. My thanks to you. If you feel the need to contact me, here is my card", with a snap of his wrist the auto dispenser in his right gauntlet fired a card into the palm of his hand, which he trapped with his fingers and proffered to Mystic. On it was the embossed stylised White Knight chess piece in a silvered circle, his symbol, and a mobile phone number, set to divert calls to his helmet comms system, as well as the ubiquitous email address...

[aside: In real life, is currently held by a site specialising in registering 'valuable' domain names and selling them on...]

Interlude 7.1: The Wanderer Visits the Wreckage
Interlude 7.2: The Wanderer Snoops About
Interlude 7.3: The White Knight Does Some Research
Interlude 7.4: Iron Maiden Goes "Home"

Issue #8

Last Updated 14 July 2000