Squirrelman - Sins of the Past 51

Previously on Squirrelman: Sins of the Past

Holly Ween of the Weirdsville Nine informed the Crimefighters' League that something was scaring all the vampires out of Action City.

Squirrelman and the Crimefighters' League were kept very busy fighting the escapees from Bendis Correctional and the Kane Sanitarium during the worst prison break in Action City history.

Returning to their secret headquarters, the Crimefighters' League walked into an ambush. A gang of costumed villains calling themselves the Implacable Foes nearly defeated the Crimefighters' League, sending the crimefighters running. Retreating to ACPD Headquarters, they ran into other crimefighters who joined the team. Returning to their headquarters after a night's rest and newly outfitted with matching uniforms, the new and improved Crimefighters' League easily defeated the Implacable Foes.

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Matt Mattheson ......... as Squirrelman
Kimmy Sinclair ................ as Ragdoll
Rick Duncan ........................... as Ace
Lisa Dumont ................... as Physique
Anna Kimble ................. as Darklight
Stephanie Cooke ............. as Blue Jay
Jay Allen ........................ as Red Bolt
Mike Washington ............. as Dragon
Trevor Andrews ............... as Phenom
Jessica Wagner .............. as Rapunzel
Katie McCormick ............ as Superia
Hank Scott .................. as Powerband
Wayne Masters ... as Midnight Avenger
Jill Suzuki ........................... as Naiad
Hannah Cohen ................... as Psifire
Kyle Drake ........... as Troubleshooter
Jackson Archer ............ as Moonbow
Steven Rand ............... as Showdown
Alistair Crombie ............. as the Mole
Cricket ............................... as herself

Holly Weintraub ....... as Holly Ween
James Grayson ............ as Blue Ghost
Alexandra Spelling ................ as Hex
Jude Azael ........................ as himself
Michael Chaney ........... as Nightwolf
Alicia Spelling .................. as herself
Andrea Spelling ................ as herself
Althea Spelling ................. as herself
Joseph White Eagle .......... as Totem

Mayor Elizabeth Ross-Carter once went by a different name.

She used to be called Maiden America. A red-white-and-true-blue descendant of Betsy Ross, she said she got her powers from the Greatest Spirits of America. Fought for truth and justice and the ideals that made America great, back in the seventies when it wasn't so popular to be patriotic, what with the Vietnam War killing off US soldiers daily. She was a bit of a feminist icon, too, at least until she retired from public life to raise a family.

You'd think the fact that she used to be a mask would make her soft on masks, but that's far from the case. If anything, she holds us to a "higher ideal" or something. She was one of the fiercest advocates of the Claremont Act. When she went into politics in the late eighties, she was the single motivating force behind Action City Costumed Crimefighters ID cards. Without one, you're just a vigilante in Action City. You don't get credit for collars. You don't get to call in police backup, either. You want to go solo? You're solo. Completely.

So being called before her is a little like being called to the Principal's office. I immediately start trying to figure out what we've done wrong. Luckily, she doesn't want to see us until Friday, which was the first opening in her schedule. Her office doesn't bother finding out if it fits in our schedule. We're expected to show.

Which leaves us plenty of opportunity to deal with Holly Ween's request for help with Dr. Necro and whatever it is that's scaring away the vampires.

The Charlton Cemetery is one of the oldest in the city, and has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of masks buried there, more than any other in the city. Dr. Necro raising masks? It's bad news. Normally the cemetery has all kinds of security to keep graverobbers and necromancers and what not out, spells and tech both, but once we meet up with Holly, Hex, and the rest of the Weirdsville Nine, they explain how a rare astrological conjunction that maximized chaotic magic's efficiency led to the magical wards going down all at once, and the tech was shorted out with a basic electricity spell. I don't know magic all that much, just the basics, but Anna and Rick are both nodding like it all makes sense.

"If we hadn't been pre-occupied with the prison break and then the attack on us, I probably would have been keeping better tabs on the astrological signs," Anna says, shaking her head. "Something like this was entirely foreseeable."

"Don't beat yourself up, Anna," Rick says, putting an arm around her shoulder. She smiles at him. I glance at Kimmy. She gives me an I-told-you-so look.

"Foreseeable or not, he's still in there," Jude Azael, the Nine's leader, says.

"Doing who knows what," Alicia Spelling, Hex's sister, says.

"To who knows who," Althea Spelling adds.

"Okay," I say. "Your team goes in from the north. We'll split up the Crimefighters, go in from the west and south."

The east side of Charlton Cemetery is bordered by the Gaines Forest, not really a forest so much as an overgrown bunch of old trees, a few acres nobody wants to develop. Plus, it's haunted. Naturally. If Dr. Necro retreats into the forest, the things that creep around there are welcome to him.

I know, I know. Splitting up the team is a bad idea. It's always a bad idea. But I mean, come on. We're twenty experienced, bad ass masks. We kick ass individually and collectively. What could happen?

An unexpected alliance between Dr. Necro and the Circle could happen.

Dr. Necro is a necromancer, wrapped in mummy bandages, draped in gold and lapis lazuli jewelry, a huge black cloak finishing his look. He wants an army of undead to destroy the world.

The Circle are a bunch of Druids gone wrong, robes and hoods, beards and sickles, dedicated to bringing about the end of the world by opening portals for Things From Beyond to come through.

Why they all want to destroy the world is beyond me, frankly. Don't they get that they'll be destroyed too? Honestly. If they're just suicidal, eat a gun. Don't bring us down with you. Idiots.

So Dr. Necro is raising zombies, skeletons, that sort of thing. The Circle are summoning demons, ghost spirit minion things, what have you. Dark clouds over the cemetery, pouring rain, crashing thunder, jagged forks of lightning. It's a smorgasbord of terror.

I've never seen them in action before, but I've got to say, the Weirdsville Nine really have their shit together. Jude is totally bad ass with that invisible sword of his, Holly's cracking one-liners and skulls, Nightwolf's ripping zombies to pieces, Totem calls upon the strength of Bear or the ferocity of Wolf or whatever and is completely kicking ass, the Spelling sisters are casting spells left right and centre, and Blue Ghost takes care of the stuff I'm happier not knowing about.

As for the Crimefighters' League, we hold our own. We've got our share of heavy hitters, Phenom, Superia, Physique, Red Bolt, Dragon, Powerband ... and a good thing too, because some Thing gets by Blue Ghost's defences and starts to come though into this dimension, all horror and hate. I remember eyes and tentacles and fanged mouths and pulsating pods of pus and you know it's big trouble when things get alliterative. All I know is I'll be having nightmares for weeks, probably. Anna manages to lead the Spellings in a banishing spell while Ragdoll, Ace, Mole, Cricket, Midnight Avenger, Showdown and I hold off wave after wave of zombies and skeletons. Moonbow puts an arrow through the crystal of Dr. Necro's command rod, a shot like I've never seen, halfway across the cemetery while being mauled by one of those ghost minions. I got hit with those claws once and it put me down on the ground, screaming in pain. If you've ever had a freezing cold knife go right through your heart, you know what I mean. But Moonbow shrugged it off long enough to make the shot, and he doesn't even have powers. Psifire spends the whole time keeping us from going insane at the sight of the Thing, and Rapunzel, Blue Jay and Naiad take out the Head Priest of the Circle. And no crimefighters' graves were disturbed, so I guess the protective spells on their individual graves held.

It's past noon when we're done in the cemetery, so we head back to the Spellings' place for a quick lunch. Their house is a sprawling old Victorian in the heart of Weirdsville, and if we weren't with the sisters we would have walked right past it without ever looking at it. It's one of those weird bigger-on-the-inside-than-on-the-outside, not-quite-haunted houses that just hurt my brain so I don't bother trying to figure them out. They've fixed it up really nice since the last time I was here.

We eat quick and head Downtown. Turns out the closest way into Downtown is that abandoned warehouse at Miller's Crossing, the one on top of the vampire hotel. We head over that way.

"Lot of bad things going on Downtown, Mole," Jude says.

"Indeed," the Mole admits. "For a while I thought I could keep it under control. For the past couple of years, however, things have rapidly progressed beyond me."

"Doc Sterling thinks Lord Hades is behind it all," I tell him.

"That certainly possible, although I've not seen hide nor hair of him, nor his shadowy minions," he says.

"Well, in order to find out we need to find the one guy who knows Hades better than anyone."

"And who might that be?"

"Some guy named Doc Steele. And no one knows where he is."

"Wait, you're looking for Doc Steele?" Showdown asks. "Augustus Octavian Steele?"

"That's him. Why?"

"I know where he is," he says. "At least, where he was two years ago."

I look at Steve. Look at Rick. Look at Steve. Look at Kimmy. Look at Steve.

"You wouldn't happen to know who killed Annie O'Day, would you?" I ask, finally. "Or where Dr. Hi-Q is hiding?"

"Where's Doc Steele, Steve?" Ragdoll asks.

"A retreat in the Colorado Rockies," Showdown answers. "He trains, you know, folks like me. People who want to study with the very best of the very best, master martial techniques lost for centuries."

I pinch the bridge of my nose.

"Okay. When we're done with whatever it is Downtown that's scaring away Action City's vampires, we're going to play Compare the Cases. Everyone cool with that? Good."

"After we find Hi-Q, you mean," Kimmy reminds me.

"Right. After that. Anything else? Okay."

We head Downtown, past the empty vampire hotel, which is actually creepier empty than with all the coffins full. Turns out the thing that's scaring away the vampires is the Carnival of Shadows, who had moved in and set up shop.

"Downtown's a regular Grand Central Station these days," Ace says.

"Seriously," I say, trying not to look at the Mole, who's giving instructions on how to get to the other side of the Carnival's encampment to the Weirdsville Nine.

"You trust him?" Kimmy says, quiet enough so only Ace and I can hear.

"Until he gives me a reason not to," I answer. "There's no reason to believe he has anything to do with all the stuff that's going on down here. It's like saying Reed had something to do with the Gardner Violation last month."

Ragdoll doesn't look happy but doesn't say anything. I'll probably get an earful later.

We hit the Carnival hard. The Funhouse is a bit of a mindfuck. The Fat Lady just about breaks my back. The Carneys nearly kill the Spellings but Holly, Rapunzel, Red Bolt, Cricket and I manage to haul them off in time. The Strongman doesn't stand a chance against Phenom, Physique, and Superia. The Ringmaster manages to summon up shadowbeasts that just about hand us our asses, but we finally put them all down. The Carnival of Shadows closes down, hopefully for good.

The Weirdsville Nine promise to let us know if they find any clues about Dr. Hi-Q, and we part ways. Good bunch, if a little creepy.

We're about to hit the streets, try and find some leads, when Phenom spots a blur of gold heading right for us. We're all a little on edge, immediately go on the defensive, but it turns out it's just Speed Queen, one of Red Bolt's speed force. She's been looking for information on Hi-Q since yesterday.

She's got a lead.


Words swapped:
"The blue ghost cares take of the stuff"
Thanks, me too. Snide and sarcastic are sort of inherently part of my storytelling style.

I wonder why that is...


Hee hee hee! "Charlton Cemetary"! Awesome. A nice little tribute to the company that printed the crappiest books on the spinner rack! I'm not talking about the stories either, which were generally run-of- the- mill. I'm talking about the actual physical book. What did they print 'em on? Shopping bags? And that jagged edge at the bottom of the book . . . yeesh! Thanks for the Blast from the Past, Rob. Another fun episode.
*grins* Thanks. I certainly had fun with it... especially describing fight scenes that are essentially reduced to a double-page spread, without getting into the specifics of the fight.

But did you catch the reference in Gaines Forest...?


Yeah, I did, but y'should'a mentioned that little known part of Gaines forest where wierd outer space creatures live: THE WALLY WOODS! OOOO EEEEE OOOO!!!
They're quick to forgive themselves for not foreseeing/preventing what's been going on, but the Mole - who is just one person compared to their multitude - gets the sideways glance.

I wonder why that is...

Oh man. Catching up, are we? I got the email notification and didn't even know what you were talking about.

As for the Mole, well... Keep reading, True Believer!