That may be my longest chapter title yet, but I like it. XD
It pretty much tells you everything you need to know.
Bad News is swooping in to fix some stuff, guys. And this is happening along the same bit of time that the last chapter was.
If you don’t know what I’m talkin’ about, catch up here:
(holy smoke that’s enough links for a good sized chain)
and part 25!
The wrath and healthcare of Baden News
Liza’s message only half came through on my end before it sounded like something decided to eat the radio along with a bag of potato chips.
The three of us just sat there in the truck, me holding the radio transmitter, Kaity holding Dallas and Dallas holding his head.
It was quiet for a minute before the panic set in. All the frantic chatter about how they were going to die. Dallas blaming himself as we tried to get the radio working again. Kaity hiding herself against Dallas’s sleeve and trying not to cry.
I kept trying. Kept working to get contact through. The radio wasn’t working. Nobody was coming out of the house. Kaity tried to fix it and Dallas watched the house, but we were as useless as bumps on a log.
There was a bit of movement, but it was only a small car pulling out of the garage and driving away.
I held onto the transmitter tight for a few seconds, narrowing my eyes at the ugly building in front of us.
“They’re going to die,” Dallas moaned, hiding his face in his hands. “There are guards in there with guns . . .”
“Shut your pie hole,” I muttered back, kicking my car door open. “We’re getting them out of there.”
Frank might have been able to threaten me out of this before . . . talk about killing Wolfgang and getting me to back off and all that bogus . . . but not this time.
Not on my watch. We were going in there.
I got out of the car, going over to the back. I had enough supplies in there to get us through, no problem. Been saving them for a special occasion too.
I flipped up the seat and took a few seconds to decide on which to take. I grabbed the big bazooka thing and the giant spanking paddle/bat thing I’d picked up a while back for myself.
Kaity and Dallas probably couldn’t lift that sort of stuff, so I found a couple smaller things for them. Nail-studded bat and a little pistol should do it. I pulled those out as well.
I swung the strap of the bazooka over my shoulder and collected the other things in my arms, marching back around to the front of the truck. I rubbed a hand up over my face, missing my sunglasses for a few seconds as the light from the sunset glared in my eyes.
I shoved the spiky bat and gun over to Dallas and Kaity. “Here, guys. Pistol for Kaity, bat for Dallas.”
I mean, they were secret agents. They’d probably handled that sort of stuff a million times before. They’d be fine.
I jumped back into the driver’s seat, setting my bazooka and giant paddle down next to me and jerking the keys in the ignition to start up the truck.
Dallas stiffened in his seat. “Mr. News . . .”
“We’re going in there. You want to lend a hand or not?” I turned the wheel and stomped on the gas. The truck roared towards the front fancy area of the house.
“Well, I . . . yes of course . . .” Dallas stammered, looking over at the bat.
Kaity’s eyes widened at the gun sitting next to her and she looked up at me. “But don’t we want to . . . sneak up?”
I chuckled to myself, shaking my head. “Kids, we’re gonna to whoop their behinds to kingdom come. I think it’s only sportsmanship to give ‘em a little bit of warning.” I motioned to the weapons. “Come one, hold those things. They’ll bump all over the place when we get up onto the driveway.”
Dallas picked up both, looking like he thought they’d explode if he moved them too much.
The truck bumped as we got up onto the slick asphalt on the pad in front of the house. I pulled the wheel sideways so the front spun around towards the front.
See, that’s part of what’s nice about having such a huge car. It helps for smashing stuff easier.
“Hang on, guys.” I slammed my hand on the horn and hit the gas again. The Newsmobile jumped forward, wheels spinning up the short flight of stairs and smashing clean through the front door.
Kaity yelped, diving under the dashboard. Dallas clung to the side of the door his body jolting and his hair going over his eyes as the car jerked to a stop.
White plaster crumbled down around the front bumper of the car and there was a sound like a doorbell being strangled.
I craned my neck and squinted to see past the junk I’d just crunched through and into the house. Same slick ugly stuff, covered in bits of the wall and door now. At least there were a lot of starts to hallways around so we had lots of options for where to go.
There was some distant yelling and a couple of mooks came running around the corner, pulling out their guns. Looked sorta like Frank’s kind of guys. The sunglasses and snazzy outfits.
I elbowed Dallas and nudged Kaity with my foot, since they both seemed to be still in shock. “You two stay here for a sec. Lemme take care of this.”
I popped the car door open and stepped out onto what used to be part of the front porch. The bazooka swung down along with me, still hanging by its strap. But . . . yeah, I preferred the other method. I grabbed the giant paddle-bat from the truck before closing the door.
I ducked behind the front of the car as a couple of bullets pinged off the front.
“Stop right there!” barked one guard. “Come out with your hands up!” Their footsteps crunched closer.
I waited until I was sure they were in my range before I straightened and stepped out, a grin on my face and my hands raised to hold the bat high.
Both of them froze. One guy’s jaw dropped and he took a step back, lowering his gun. The other paled, but held firm. His hand trembled as he held the gun.
“D-drop your weapons and come with us peacefully,” he managed to get out.
I swung the bat sideways with a whoosh, slamming both thugs into each other and against the wall. One of their guns misfired, shooting a hole in the ceiling. They slumped to the floor.
That didn’t totally knock ‘em both out since one was still swearing, so I gave out taps on the head just to make sure.
A place like this? I’d estimate about five guards would be around to keep things secure, since it was empty.
And that was two of them, so hey, halfway done almost.
I surveyed my work for a second, my gaze stopping on one of the guy’s sunglasses. Pretty nice ones. He had a big enough head that I might have a chance at fitting them too. I mean, mine were still gone. And this thug had lost his privileges for those sort of nice sunglasses, in my mind.
I bent over and pulled them off, examining for a second before I put them on myself. The world took on the familiar, dark brown tint again as they easily slipped onto my head.
There, now that was better. I felt more like me.
I grinned and nodded my thanks to the unconscious thug, then propped the bat on my shoulder as I turned back towards the truck.
Dallas had opened the door already and was getting out. Kaity still peeked over through the windshield hesitantly.
I waved a hand. “Come on ahead. This’ll be easy as pumpkin pie.”
They took a minute to join me. Kaity still looked incredibly nervous and kept muttering “oh my word” under her breath, but at least she held the gun like she knew what it was. Dallas took his position next to me, holding his spiked bat like it was a poisonous creature from Mars, but looking determined enough to use it.
“By the layout of the building, I think we should be taking that hall to the right,” Dallas said, keeping his voice down to a respectful whisper. He motioned a little with his head down the hall he was talking about.
I nodded. “I’ll take up the front. Stay in back of me and holler if you see anything.”
Kaity kept her eyes open wide as she followed after me, Dallas taking up his station right behind her.
I kept my paddle against my shoulder as I walked down the hall. These were sorta small passageways, honestly. My head was almost brushing the top of the curved ceiling. At least it was decently wide.
We kept walking, Kaity and Dallas almost jogging to keep up with my strides.
We probably would have gotten around to Wolfgang and Liza sooner if we hadn’t gotten lost and run into a couple other guards.
Dallas spotted one of them first, so I was pretty proud of him for that. He also got a swing in with the bat that skimmed the guy, even if he was apologizing all over the place afterwards.
We took out those guards pretty easy, got ourselves turned around and headed back down the other hall. This one looked a little more promising. Probably just needed to turn right at the end and we’d get where we were going.
I turned and stopped.
Another guard, a bit taller than the other ones, stood by the doorway leading to the basement steps.
The surprise quickly left my face and shifted to his, even though he tried not to show it. He reached for his gun, but the click of Kaity cocking hers stopped him.
“Don’t move,” she hissed, sounding as intimidating as someone her size could hope to be.
Dallas raised his bat, still unsuccessfully trying to keep his whole face from being one big wince.
The guard looked between all of us, backing up a step. “Who ar-“
I walloped him with my bat before he could finish. We propped him in the corner and went down the stairs into the big room down below. Big, fluorescent lights shone down around the area, making it look even more bright white. I was definitely glad to have my sunglasses back.
I spun around in a slow circle, not seeing anyone.
But those burn marks on the floor . . . those looked sorta like they might have been made by Wolf . . .
Dallas tapped my arm and pointed to a door off in the corner. “Right over there. Behind that is where . . .” he swallowed. “I think that’s where they were keeping me.”
I nodded and strode over. Tried the knob and it was locked, so I pulled the bazooka around, taking a few steps back.
“Hey! Whoever’s back there, gangway ‘cuz I’m blowing the door off!” I hollered. I mean, Wolf and Liza probably weren’t back there and just fine, waiting for us to show up. But at least I sent up a silent message to the Man Upstairs that that’d sure be nice.
There was a loud, echoing “BOOM” as I blew part of the door off, leaving it dangling on one of its hinges and munched beyond repair.
Waving a hand in front of my face to clear the smoke, I ran back over and pushed the door the rest of the way off, stepping sideways through the doorway. Dallas and Kaity’s footsteps smacked on the ground behind me.
“See anything?” Kaity asked, bouncing on her toes as she waited to come through after us.
I waved a hand again and coughed a little as I squinted around the place. The cell was empty. But there was another hall to go down at least. “Not yet. They’re probably just . . .”
“News?” came a strange sounding, rough voice from somewhere down the other hall.
I froze and Dallas stopped beside me.
That didn’t sound like Liza. Wolfgang? That doesn’t sound like his voice . . .
“News?” the voice cracked out again. I heard some unsteady footsteps and what sounded like something being dragged. The pitch lowered to a mutter. “Oh please . . . please, God. Please be News . . .”
I broke into a run, rounding the corner and skidding to a stop.
Right there in the hall, stood Wolfgang and Liza.
Pale as a couple of ghosts. Liza was bleeding, wearing Wolf’s leather jacket and barely keeping her eyes open. And Wolfgang was shaking all over as he held her up on her feet. One side of his face had some nasty bruises and blood smudged on his dusty red t-shirt and the knees of his jeans.
But they were alive. Both of them.
I cleared the last bit of distance between us in two big steps and grabbed them both in a bear hug.
Wolfgang usually wasn’t big on hugs. But this time, he really hugged back. With his arm that wasn’t around Liza at least. He cussed under his breath at me. “Could have . . . sh-showed up sooner you know, you gorilla.” The words were drained of any venom, holding just relief.
Liza grunted and tried to pull back. “Boys . . . can we not?”
“Right, yeah.” I pulled back, just looking them both over. A little banged up and worse for the wear, but they should be okay, thank goodness.
Dallas and Kaity had joined us by now and stood back a little further. Kaity looked relieved, but Dallas’s expression tightened in worry as he looked them both over.
“Liza, your leg,” he stared. “Were you . . . is that a gunshot wound?”
She nodded, gritting her teeth and closing her eyes again.
Well, that would be best if she kept her weight off of it, and Wolfgang wasn’t doing the best job of that, so I bent over and scooped her up myself, keeping her bloody leg facing away from me so I wouldn’t bump it. Dang, she was cold . . . even if she was in Wolfgang’s jacket.
I leaned against the wall, propping her up partly with one leg while I got out a bandage from my pocket to wrap around her leg.
“How long ago did that happen?” I peered over at it, squinting through my sunglasses.
She shrugged weakly, leaning back on my arm.
That turned all attention back to Wolfgang, who still just stood there, running his blood-covered hands up through his hair over and over again. By how wide his eyes were it almost looked like he thought the walls were going to eat him.
I shifted my arms around Liza as I got my sloppy bandage job done and frowned down at him. “What the heck happened, bucko?”
“Who shot Liza?” asked Kaity.
“Did they turn your powers off?” Dallas put in.
“M-Maxine shot Liza,” Wolfgang forced out, rubbing a hand over his face and moving the other one like he was going to put it in his jacket pocket that wasn’t there. He drummed his shaking fingers against his leg. “And I . . . no, my . . . my powers are still on.” He took a breath and held up a hand. Flame sputtered off of it like a wet match that had just barely managed to ignite.
“So, they didn’t . . .” Dallas stared, tilting his head curiously. “But they turned off my powers right away. I though they were going to kill you two for sure.”
“What did they do, man?” I asked. “Just shoot Liz and leave you both?”
“They . . . oh they didn’t just . . .” Wolfgang rubbed both hands over his face, his shaking getting worse as he pulled them up to tug at his hair. “They sh-shot her and she passed out and then they threw us . . . b-both in . . . in a freezer.”
His breathing caught for a second, then broke out in a laugh. “Locked in from the outside in the freezing cold dark and . . . did you know flames suck oxygen? And how very, very little oxygen there is in a locked walk-in freezer?” he held up one shaking hand and held it together so there was just a tiny distance between his thumb and forefinger, squinting at us through the gap. Then he dropped it and ran his hands up through his hair again, choking on another laugh. “Oh, not to mention that my deadly powers weren’t even supposed to work in there and Liza was b-bleeding out right . . . right in front of me. Holy smoke, I just . . . I . . .”
And while we all stood there, trying to work all that out, Wolfgang dropped his head back and just laughed. Laughed at the ceiling so hard he had to lean against the wall for support.
Kaity took an involuntary step back.
I just stared. Laughing meant happy and happy usually meant good, but . . . um . . . like this? And after he’d just been locked in a fridge, with his problem with small spaces?
“Wolfgang, are you okay, buddy?’
Liza moved in my arms, turning towards him and reaching out one arm towards him, waving it to get his attention. “Wolfy . . . hey. We got out, mate. It’s okay now.” Her voice lacked any energy and still trembled with shivers.
Wolfgang put his hands over his face, sliding down the wall and sitting with a thump on the floor. He still shook all over, his hysterical laughter quieting only slightly.
Dallas went over and dropped down next to him, quietly giving a few reassurances and positioning himself under one of Wolfgang’s arms to help him up. He looked over and motioned to Kaity. Soon, the two of them had gotten themselves on either side of him and had helped him back to his feet. For being so small, those two were perfect size for doing that.
Wolfgang had finally managed to stop laughing for the most part, but his breathing was still short and hiccupy. He tried to pull in a deep breath and closed his eyes hard. “I-I’m sorry . . . I don’t . . . “ Another deep breath and he straightened his back, holding himself up a little more. “Sorry. I’m good. I’m fine now.” He swallowed hard.
I gave him a hesitant smile as we started down the hall and out towards the door. “Yeah, you’re gonna be okay. We’ll get back to the cars, okay?”
All the guards were still knocked out, so they didn’t give us any trouble on the way out. I got everyone into the truck and pulled back out of the front of the house, driving us back to our spot by Wolfgang’s Mustang.
Funny how prepared I actually was in these sort of crazy situations. I had the whole kit and caboodle we needed to help Liza out with disinfecting and getting bandaged up. I mean, even though she would need a hospital when we could get into town. We still set up a pretty good medical center in the back of the truck.
Dallas said both of them had some form of hypothermia, so I got out the blankets I kept under the seats and doled them out. Liza should get warm pretty fast, still in Wolfgang’s jacket and all.
Wolfgang had already been denying Dallas and Kaity’s help before we were totally out of the building and wanting to walk by himself. I knew he was always quick to start recovering. He was just still a little freaked out.
While Dallas and Kaity applied their first-aid knowledge to polish up my patch job, I got Wolfgang settled in his car. Just got a blanket in there with him and popped in one of his mom’s old classical music discs. Then went and got out the old rum bottle I had in the truck and poured him a little paper cup half-full.
All the works. He’d be fine in no time.
Wolfgang sat with his head back against the seat and his shaking hand clenched around the paper cup. His breathing had gotten better and he wasn’t shaking all over anymore at least. His eyes stayed narrowed at the dark sky like it was accusing him of something.
I leaned against the side of the car, watching him through my newly acquired sunglasses. “Feeling any better?”
“Mm,” Wolfgang grunted. He sat up and downed the rum. It was quiet for a second, with the only sound being the quiet Mozart music playing in the background. Wolfgang held up the cup, letting out his breath and squinting one eye. “Got any more?”
Yeah, he was feeling better.
I chuckled, pushing back upright and stretching. “Got almost a whole bottle. But you were gonna drive back to the Den in that thing, weren’t you?”
Wolfgang wrinkled his nose and leaned back against the headrest again. “Not like I’d get caught anyway. Ipromise, only one more. Just . . . helps the nerves.”
I reached over and plucked the cup from his hand, “Aye-aye, captain.”
I saluted and walked back over to the truck, grabbing the bottle again. I pulled out a second cup. “Hey Liza, you want some too?”
“Why not,” she responded through gritted teeth. Her fingers dug into the blanket on the truck bed and her eyes were shut tight while Kaity cleaned out the wound.
I set up both cups and sloshed a little into the bottom of one.
The sound of the Doctor Who theme broke through the air and I grinned. Wolfgang’s phone ringing.
He cursed and the song cut off just as I poured the other cup.
“This better be important you-“
I handed one cup over to Dallas for Liza and turned back towards Wolfgang, wondering who could have called.
Wolf’s back was rigid now and he sat straight in his seat. He reached over to the keys in the ignition. “Where?” he asked, his voice stronger than it had been.
I stopped next to the car, examining his determined face. “Where what?”
Wolfgang didn’t wait to answer me. He hung up, twisted the keys in the ignition and slammed on the gas, squealing his car out of there before I even had time to say anything else.
I stared after the black Mustang, speeding off towards the road, with my mouth open in surprise.
He forgot his rum. And his jacket.
Man, this must be something important.
Until Thursday, folks.