Justice Darklight and Lightning Flash
Dark light and Lightening Flash
Gabriel SilverbackPrologue to Destiny
Zone:- Multiverse correlation. Earth 7
Where:- Somewhere over the North Atlantic.
Captain Alison Scott eased the control column of the Flying Fortress, 'The Gunners Daughter', back and the aircraft obeyed and began climbing smoothly.
The inter-crew radio crackled into life and the voice of lieutenant Jay Garrick, the navigator and Second Pilot, sounded reedy in her ear.
"On my mark turn to the new heading. Three, two, one, mark."
"On new heading." Alison said before adding. "Check the cargo please Jay then join me up here will you."
In the bombay of the aircraft was a large chest carrying the chemicals needed by the bomber research centre attached to 100 Bomber Group that was based in Norfolk England.
Jay was a willowy woman with waves of auburn hair and deep blue eyes.
She and Alison were childhood friends and had grown up together in the vast Kansas wheat fields of the Midwest of the USA.
Alison's father, a world war one pilot, taught both girls how to fly the crop sprayer when they were in their early teens, so when the call went out for trained pilots they both enlisted as W.A.S.P's.
They were Air Service pilots and there job was to deliver aircraft to the front line squadrons.
This time the aircraft was picked up in Canada and flown first to Iceland and then onto Scotland before flying the last leg to the east coast of England.
Jay checked the webbing straps on the cargo to make sure they were tight before clambering up into the second pilots seat.
"Just remind me what the forecast was again?" Alison was the polar opposite of Jay, being short and Junoesque with bright blond hair cut in a bob.
"Clear all the way skip." Jay replied with a confused expression on her face as she looked at where Alison, or Al for short, was pointing.
"I thought that was what he said, but I hate to mention it but that looks mightily like a storm."
Ahead in splendid isolation was a massive thunderhead. The cloud boiled and writhed like some living beast with powerful arcs of electrical discharge.
"Give me a heading to miss it Jay?"
Jay looked down at the compass that was attached to her Sidcot flying suit.
The needle spun round manically. She looked at the one in the control display in front of her and saw it was swinging to and fro like a pendulum.
"The compasses are U/S skip I'll try and get a star fix." Jay slid out of the seat.
"Hurry Jay." The cockpit was lit up by a massive bolt of lightning. "We'll be in it soon."
Jay quickly took her instruments to get a star fix from the observation bubble but it was to be of no avail.
"Skip a star fix is out, to much cloud cover. Try and go under it. We're near to the Outer Hebrides islands so I could get a fix off them with luck." The aircraft bucked and twisted underneath her.
"Get back up here Jay I need you to help me control the beast."
"Wilcox Skip." The more dangerous the situation the more Jay told jokes and did terrible impersonations like the English voice she had just tried to put on.
As she clambered out of the observation bubble she saw the most amazing thing. Floating in the centre of the aircraft was a ball of crackling electricity. Spellbound Jay watched it float over to the chest and with a roar discharged itself. As it did so it sprayed Jay with the chemicals and surrounded her with a crackling nimbus of electricity as it exploded violently punching a hole in the side of the craft.
Jay quickly picked herself up from where she was blown and clambered up into the seat beside Alison, her flying jacket still smouldering from the blast.
"Lightning has blown a hole in the side of the craft." She lifted her arm up only to stare at it in a bemused fashion.
"Are you alright?" Alison bellowed over the roar of the engines and the storm.
"Yes. Just singed a bit."
The clouds around them twisted and boiled as an almost continuous barrage of lightning ripped them asunder.
Then the shape of a huge steel prow of a spaceship pushed through the cloud only to fade away again.
Suddenly a funnel of superheated air flashed through the sky in front of them.
The aircraft bucked and yawed as the shockwave hit it. Alison and Jay without saying a word worked together to keep the aircraft on an even keel.
Lightning struck the right wing causing the outer engine to burst into flames.
Working swiftly Jay feathered the engine and operated the remote fire extinguisher only for the left outside engine to burst into flame.
Moments later the aircraft laboured on with its two remaining engines, one showing signs of damage.
"It's no good Jay. In calm weather I might be able to get us home on two engines but in this I'm not to sure." The lightning flashed lighting up the cockpit. "We'll have to bail out."
"We're not near land, they'll be hard pushed to find us. Can you hang on long enough for us to be over land." Jay consulted the map she had brought up with her. "We're close to the Scottish Islands if we can find one then we have a chance."
The remaining engine on the left suddenly spluttered and died.
"No time left. Bail out and that's an order." Alison yelled.
"Oh no you don't there'll be no heroics today. We jump together." Jay flicked a switch putting the craft on auto pilot.
It wouldn't be able to fly the craft for long but long enough for the two of them to drop through the hatch in the floor.
Soon the pair of them were floating down under their parachutes. They watched as the 'Gunners Daughter' reared up and exploded into a stream of burning particles.
Buffeted by strong winds created by the superheated air they were helpless as a dark green light flashed over them like some demented search light.
On the second pass it stopped on Alison changing into a multihued beam of light before moving on to Jay.
Underneath the light both women passed out.
Jay came too lying flat out on the grass with her parachute fanned out around her.
With a groan she stumbled to her feet and disconnected the parachute. The sun warmed her face as she bundled the parachute together ready for hiding.
It was then that she spotted Alison lying on the grass a few meters away tangled in the strings of her parachute.
Working swiftly she untangled her from the lines and bundled up Alison's parachute ready for hiding with hers.
Jay wasn't sure where they were but she wasn't going to take any chances.
Alison moaned before with Jays help she sat up.
"Welcome back to the land of the living. At least I hope it is, the land of the living that is." An awful thought dawned on Jay. "We are alive aren't we, this isn't heaven is it? If it is it's not quite what I expected."
"My head feels like I've been put through the ringer." She shook her head then realised that that was probably not the wisest of moves as her head swam.
"How come we have landed so close to each other? It just doesn't make sense." Jay noticed something on the back of Alison's right hand. It was a perfect tattoo of a old fashion lantern off a steam locomotive. "When did you get that done Al?"
"Get what done?" Alison looked where Jay was pointing. "I didn't."
As they watched the tattoo swelled and lifted of her skin till a three dimensional shape hovered in front of her. It was a green lantern.
Alison stared at it for a long moment before lifting her right hand to see that it had a ring in the shape of the lamp on her finger. As if it had a life of its own she pressed it to the lamps glass and began to speak an oath as old as time.
"In the darkest day and the brightest night, Those who praise evils might, Beware of my lanterns Light, For evil will never evade my sight."
The ring began to glow with a dark green light.
Alison's eyes began to clear, to lose the stare.
Jay lifted her own hand to see a ring with a stone that scintillated through the spectrum depending how the light hit it.
The lamp had gone now back onto Alison's hand before fading away.
The rings had vanished from sight but the girls could still feel their presence.
"What was that all about?" Jay asked nervously.
"No idea but somehow I know that it was the right thing to do."
A mighty roar shook the two of them out of their fugue state, making them jump.
They turned round to see 'The Gunners Daughter', its engines now idling, sitting intact on the green sward.
"I wonder if this is what happens when pilots die." Jay mused. "They have a last flight to heaven."
"I don't think we are dead Jay. I don't understand what's happening but I'm sure we are still alive." Alison looked at the aircraft a moment. "Shall we?"
She linked arms with Jay.
"Yes I suppose so. It would be churlish to refuse." Jay and Alison shared an intimate kiss before strolling up to the waiting aircraft.
Once aboard they fell back onto familiar routines as they prepared the aircraft for flight.
It was Jay who voiced her concern especially over one obvious question.
"Where are we headed Al. I've no way of getting a fix with the compass's still out of action."
Alison looked around a moment before pointing out of the cockpit window.
"Straight ahead looks as good as any other direction. So lets go that away."
The aircraft gained speed over the grass until eventually it lifted off the ground into the bright blue sky.
Ahead of them a dark sphincter opened like shutter of a camera. Not that the two women noticed as they nodded in an restful slumber.
The aircraft flew through into the darkness of a predawn night.
Chapter One RAF Beltane
Alison laid on her bed and stared at the ceiling stroking Jay's hair absentmindedly where her lovers head rested on her chest.
She went over slowly, methodically, what had happened since they landed. Pausing only to look at the strange tattoo on her hand.
The landing at RAF Beltane in Scotland was a textbook one but as soon as the aircraft rolled to a stop a jeep sped out of a hanger toward them.
With perfect timing the jeep rolled to a stop beside the hatch where the girls dropped through onto the turf.
"Good morning Captain, Lieutenant." The WAAF driver gave a crisp salute.
"Morning Wendy." Jay saluted before throwing their kit bags into the back of the jeep. "I trust you have got our usual rooms at the Hilton ready."
Wendy grinned up at her.
"Yes Nissan hut Nine is ready."
Alison slipped into the passenger seat while Jay climbed into the back with the kit bags.
"Any news for us Flight?"
Wendy was a Flight Sergeant in the British Woman's Auxiliary Air force or WAAF for short. Wendy worked on the radio during the bombing raids, listening out for information from the crews.
Her London Cockney accent seemed out of place amongst the soft brogues of the locals.
"Three girls have gone missing from the village. There is going to be a search for them tomorrow if they haven't come back."
"Could they have run off to be with some of my country men?" Jay was well aware of the effect her country men were having with the local population. She knew the poem that was used to explain the effect. 'Over paid, over sexed and over here'.
"It's possible." Wendy called as she screeched the jeep round in a fast jostling curve.
"Are you sure that you've passed your test?" Alison yelled over the whine of the engine.
"Yes I think so." She slowed up so she called talk over the engine. "The girls could have gone with your boys but I doubt it they were too young for that. They are only fourteen and thirteen. Some of our lads are using their day passes to join in the hunt tomorrow.
Oh another thing I'm afraid you won't see our Chaplin he's down south in London for the week end. He's seeing his sister, she's been bombed out."
"How bad is it down there?" Jay asked.
"Pretty bad, they are getting pasted most nights. Not as bad as the blitz but bad enough."
The Chaplin was a soft spoken Devon man call Peter Chester and was their companion on many of their stay over's. An amusing man who had taken quite a shine to Jay.
Most times their stay at Beltane was short, normally just a day as the aircraft was prepared for the next leg of their flight. But this time events were going to change the normal routine.
"Here we are, your favourite rooms." Wendy screeched the jeep to a stop. "I'll wait here for you while you settle in. Then I'll take you across for breakfast."
The Nissan hut was a corrugated affair arranged into a half tube with small windows piecing the sides. The inside was equally depressing.
A row of eight iron bedsteads lined both walls with a small room at the end with a bed and desk for the NCO. In the centre was a small pot stove around which were several chairs huddled around it as if for warmth.
Jay carried Alison's kit bag into the small room while she took the bed closest to the room.
Quickly they changed out of their flying suits into their normal grey uniforms.
They checked each other over critically before exiting from the hut.
When Wendy saw them she gave them a wolf whistle of appreciation.
"Thank you for your appreciation." Jay quipped as she climbed into the back.
Their uniforms made poor Wendy look dowdy in hers.
"Where to ladies, the officers mess or the NAAFI?" Wendy smiled as Alison grimaced.
The officers mess was a staid affair that ran on the lines of a gentlemen's drinking club which was not the girls style at all. The Navy Army Air Force Institutes or NAAFI ran a bar and canteen for the other ranks along with shops for cigarettes and essentials. It wasn't normally frequented by officers but for Jay and Alison they made an exception.
"I'll take that to mean the NAFFI then."
With a screech of tires she spun the jeep and drove away.
The NAAFI building was a concrete block house nothing like their PX at their home base with its cinema and dancehall.
Though every effort was made to make the main room homely it still stayed cold and austere.
On the walls were posters and pictures of Hollywood's great and good.
In one wall was a serving hatch behind which two middle age woman served.
"Attention Officers in the room." A Flight Sergeant called as he stood up with his men and gave a crisp salute.
Alison and Jay saluted in reply.
"Stand easy boys." Alison told them.
The young men relaxed and sat back down.
"Did you have a good flight over Mum?" One asked.
"No we ran into a bad storm but other than that it was clear." Jay gave him a bright smile which made the poor fellow blush much to his friends delight.
The three women crossed to counter.
"Now what can I get you young ladies." Her soft highland accent rendered her practically impossible to follow. Her name was Morag and her college was called Alexandra.
"Any chance of bit of breakfast Morag?" Alison asked.
"Off course there is hen. What would you like?" Alexandra told her with a smile.
"A thousand on a raft with an egg over easy please?" Jay ask.
"I'll have the same please ladies but I'll have my egg sunny side up." Alison added.
"So that's two beans and egg on toast, with tea?"
The two girls nodded.
"That's with tea. Now what about you Wendy dear?"
"A round of toast and a tea will be lovely Morag." Wendy replied.
"Well take a seat and I'll bring them over when they are ready."
The three of them crossed to a table and sat down to wait.
It was strange to think that for all their confidence they were only twenty years old.
The flight sergeant and his crew were barely more than a year or two older themselves.
The air base was what was called an O.T.U. or Operational Training Unit, training up the new bomber crews ready for them to join the main bomber unit where life expectancy was measured in weeks rather than in years.
In the corner of the room was an old upright piano where the flight sergeant was quietly playing some familiar songs.
Soon like most girls of their age their conversation turned to all matters girly.
After they had eaten the three of them crossed to the piano.
"Flight can you play swing? How about the Boogie Woogy Boy from Company B?" Jay asked.
Flight nodded and his fingers danced over the keys and created a reasonable facsimile of the song.
The three girls were singing and giggling like the Andrew sisters much to the pleasure of the growing crowd of airmen and women who were entering the NAAFI.
To a rousing encore they sang two more spirited songs before finishing with a heartfelt version of Danny Boy that brought tears to many an eye.
Finished they took their bow and made their way to the Officers Mess.
Inside of the building was a deathly hush as if the building itself was damping down any notion of speech.
A liveried corporal came over and asked salacity if they would like a drink.
"A scotch and soda." Alison's reply shocked the man.
"A scotch and dry ginger if you've got it." Jay added.
He scurried off with a disapproving air.
"I think you have upset the old boy." A warm voice remarked behind them.
"Oh hello Andy." Alison said as she turned round to see the speaker.
Andy Dewier was a tall man with a long lugubrious face. He was the metrological officer for the base and also helped out with the debriefing of the flight crews.
"What's the weather going to be like for tomorrows flight Andy?" Jay asked after the pleasantries were over.
"For us up here it's going to be fine but I'm afraid you'll be spending a few days as our guests."
"Why's that Andy if the weather's clear?"
"We've a lazy high pressure over us at the moment and that will be causing fog in East Anglia. So I'm afraid all aircraft are grounded in that area."
"I hope your forecast is better that the last one we had." Alison muttered.
"The met officer in Iceland said we'd have clear sky's all the way over but we ran into a huge isolated storm." Jay found herself for some reason studying the man's reaction intently.
"If you hadn't have experienced it at first hand I would have said it was impossible. I concur with the met officer in Iceland. You should have had a clear flight over." He stroked his chin. "Hmm I'll look into that later."
The clock in the hall struck twelve which made Jay yawn mightily.
The thought of joining these stiff upper lip Brits for lunch wasn't a pleasant one and going back to the NAAFI wasn't a good idea so pleading tiredness, which wasn't far from the truth, they met Wendy and was whisked back to their hut.
After Wendy had gone, promising faithfully to return when it was time for dinner, the girls got a chance to talk.
"Did we die do you think?" Jay asked as she slipped out of her uniform.
"Being given a second chance of life you mean?"
"I suppose so."
"I honestly don't know but if they have why have they bothered with the storm." She looked down at the tattoo on her hand. "And why bother with this and our invisible rings."
As she stared at the tattoo the image of the green lantern lifted off her skin, swelled, and hovered in three dimensions before her.
A wheezing voice came eerily out of the lamp.
"I am Arbin Surr the full spectrum warrior of the Green Lantern Legion for this section of space. Whilst trying to arrest a dangerous suspect you and your craft suffered collateral damage." A dark green light shone out of the lamp lighting Alison up. "I repaired both the pair of you and the aircraft as for statute B17-11 of Interstellar Law. You unfortunately were exposed to the lamps full power and this has altered your genetic make up.
So by the power vested in me by the Guardians of the Galaxy you are deputised as a full spectrum warrior. Your ring will hold enough charge to last for a day but can be recharge when needed by placing the ring against the lamps glass and reciting the relevant oath. You ring is powered by your emotions not will power alone giving them shape and substance. Creating anything your mind can imagine. "
The green light began to fade making Jay call out.
"What about me am I a deputy too? I've got a ring as well."
"There has been interference in the absorbance of the lamps energy which has created a unusual effect of speeding up your metabolism. What will the final outcome be we don't know but we suspect your reaction times will increase ten fold. You will not need to recharge your ring as the star heart has meshed with your body."
The lanterns light began to fade.
"I apologise for your unfortunate involvement. If you need to contact me do so via the lamp but be aware I will not be in the vicinity to give you physical aid only advice."
The lamp shrank back onto Alison's hand before vanishing from sight.
"Al what's that you are wearing?"
Alison lifted her hand and tried to visualised in her mind a large mirror in a frame.
The almost black light beamed out of the ring to make a credible image of an old Victorian mirror.
Alison studied her reflection for a moment.
She was encased in a head to foot dark green cat suit with a image of the ring on her chest. A black eye mask finished the ensemble.
Muscles she had never had before stood out starkly.
After turning this way and that she gave herself a nod of approval.
"I could ask the same about you." Alison laughed.
Jay stood in an all in one cat suit that shimmered in reds, yellows and silver, being all of them and none of them. The costume continued up over her face only leaving her mouth and hair free. Over her breasts where two stylised lightning flashes converging in her cleavage.
As quickly as the costumes had come they faded away.
"So we're part of an interstellar police force now?" Jay asked as she carried on getting undressed.
"Looks like it." She gently cupped Jay's face in her hands and kissed her.
Soon their naked forms writhed on Alison's bed.
Afterwards Jay fell asleep leaving Alison on her own staring at the ceiling trying to make sense of it all.
But eventually she too fell asleep muttering to herself.
"Dark light and Lightning Flash. Sounds good." As she drifted off the lantern grew once more and poured its dark light beam onto the entwined lovers. Their dreams became full of what the rings power could do and how to harness it."
Things would never be the same again.
Chapter Two Death Knell
That evening Wendy called round for them to take them to the Officers Mess for dinner.
"I can't say I'm looking forward to this." Jay moaned as she fiddled with her tie. "They look like a group of old fossils if you get my meaning."
"From what I can gather you'll be dining with the female officers on the base. They are quite a young group of women except for the Wing Co but she's a pretty good sort." Wendy told them.
"I don't know whether to be relieved or insulted by that." Alison said with a grimace.
"I'd stick to the former if I were you." Wendy laughed.
As it happened the meal was quite a pleasant affair with jokes, some at their expense, and lively chat.
The group wasn't totally devoid of a male presence as Peter Mancroft, the Curate from St Andrews church, was deputising for the chaplain.
"Have you heard from the Chaplin?" Jay asked.
"Yes I have and it's not good news I'm afraid. His sister is suffering fits due to the closeness of the bomb that went off and he has been given compassionate leave." Peter was a tall man with a small black moustache and close cropped beard that gave him a satanic look. Which if you think of it is not a good look for a vicar. "They are trying to find a sanatorium in the countryside that could take her."
His voice was warm and deep and certainly had an effect on some of the women in the room.
The facts were not lost on the two women regardless of how carefully the situation was described for fear of upsetting English susceptibilities. The poor woman had had a complete mental breakdown.
"Is there anything you can tell us about the three girls that are missing? Were they from your parish Peter?" Alison asked as she lit the mans cigarette.
He offered the girls a cigarette which they declined with a shake of their heads.
"It's strange they would disappear like that? With Lucy Clark and Mary Driscoll it's possible they have run off as they are great friends, but not Anne Starns. She was a bit of a loner due to being more grown up than the other pair. A mean piano player by all accounts. She could turn her hand to Beethoven or to the new boogie woogy syncopated style." He took a long draw on his cigarette. "Why do you ask?"
"We're grounded because of the weather for a few days so we though we would help with the search. It's the least we could do." Alison explained.
"We've a dozen young cadets going and six of our ladies will be helping out by making tea and providing food. Cakes and the like." The Wing Commander told them.
"We'll be taking a more active role. At least I hope so." Jay took a sip of her whisky and dry ginger.
The conversation slipped back into a girly gossip but at least the two of them had got a good description of the lay of the land.
The village of Bray laid in a small valley that wound itself down to the sea. Above the village was a forest that led up to the heather covered moor.
The next day the police officer in charge gave strict instructions on what was to be done. They were to form a line abreast and move forward slowly through the wood, checking the ground ahead of them for clues. A group was sent down to the beach to carry out a search there.
Standing in the shadows of an old Oak Tree, Jay noticed, stood a striking good looking man.
He stood around six foot dressed in a dark evening suit like that would be worn on a night out at the theatre. He wore a white roll neck jumper with a gold chain and amulet. An opera cloak and a black fedora pull low over his eyes finished the ensemble.
Jay looked away a moment and when she looked back the stranger was gone.
So it began with Jay and Alison at one end of the line.
They had been doing this for an hour when a halt had been called for drinks to warm up with. It wasn't really that cold, more damp than cold.
Then something strange happened. Jay vanished from sight for a second only to reappear with a crackle of electricity and the smell of ozone.
"I just went to that tree to retie the laces of my boots when I found myself in a different part of the wood, I turned and ran back here. Everybody seem to be still as statues, then everything seemed normal again." A worried Jay told Alison as she tried to tie up her boot lace by standing on one leg, resulting in her hopping around trying to keep balance.
Alison looked at the ring on her finger a moment before creating a chair for Jay to sit in from the dark energy ray.
"Thanks." Jay said conversationally.
The girls were lucky as no one could see them due to a large bush.
Jay had just regained her feet when Wendy came round the bush holding two mugs of steaming builders tea and two doorstop shaped cheese sandwich's.
Both were consumed with alacrity.
After Wendy had gone Alison looked round at Jay.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" She asked.
"That depends on what you think I'm thinking." Jay lifted a hand and waved it backward and forward at ever increasing speeds until it was a blur.
"We agree then?" The ring on Alison's finger wove the almost black costume over her while sizzling mini bolts of lightening formed Jays.
"Yes." Jay smiled. "But where are we going to look?"
"I wish I could get an aerial view it might help spot them, and see any disturbed ground." Alison stopped as Jay pointed at her feet.
She saw with shock that she was floating a good couple of feet off the ground.
Alison twisted until she laid flat, horizontally in the air.
"Jay do squares of about a mile sides. This doesn't look good Lightning Flash, my friend."
"No Dark Light." Jay gave her partner a sad look. "See you later."
Then she had gone as Dark Light climbed up into the cold air.
Alison was filled with a strange joy as she looped the loop and twisted in the sky. Only to be pulled back to reality by Jays voice in her ear.
"Stop playing we have work to do!"
"Sorry." Alison twisted around to see below her the woods and the silver line of the Lightening Flash quartering the area.
As she looked across the trees she spied something under a stand of majestic oaks.
"Jay meet me at the left hand edge of the forest where the moor begins." She said hoping her partner would hear her and understand.
"Ok Wilco." Jay answered as she screeched to a stop just in front of a startled cadet before vanishing again on her new trajectory.
Alison dropped rapidly to arrive a split second before Jay.
"Well what have you found inspired leader." Jay quipped.
"Stow it." Alison warned. "Whatever it is it is in the next clearing."
Alison lead her chasten partner through the final trees out into a glade made up of oak trees.
There upon a stone alter was the stretched prone body of one of the girls. She was naked and bound in such a way that her wrists and ankles were tied to the base of the stone whilst the rest of her was arched over the stone.
Even if the two women knew the missing girls they would be hard put to recognise the body before them.
Her body had been cut open with surgical skill and the organs moved to lay on the stones surface besides her.
The face had been pealed off the skull to leave muscle and sinew showing. One eye had been removed such that it laid on the muscles of her cheek.
Bile bit into their throat's and made them turn away.
They spent another five minutes in the glade searching before being satisfied they had found all they were going to.
"What do you think?" Jay asked after a moment to gather herself. "Sacrifice?"
"Look's like it." Alison was having a hard time keeping her breakfast down. "Could be a lunatic with surgical abilities. The organs haven't been detached, just moved."
"I dread to think what the locals are going to make of it." Jay said.
"I think we'll have to find her so we can protect the others. Agreed?"
"Agreed. I'll do a quick check to make sure the other girls aren't around." Jan vanished only to reappear a few seconds later. "No nothing so lets hope the other two are still alive."
"We need to get ourselves involved somehow." Alison mused.
"No flying south for the winter?"
"No, no flying south at least not yet."
"I'll see how close the line is and if we have been missed."
Alison steeled herself and crossed over to the body. Anger had replaced the revulsion and fear.
"Whoever did this would be covered in blood." She told herself.
She stood up and willed her ring to trace the victims blood, anger threatening to boil over.
The ring glowed red and a dark red light washed over the scene, picking out the specks of blood on the foliage.
Shocked at seeing the red ring ray she deliberately calmed herself down and watched the ray return to its dark green colour.
"So that is what it meant when he said I was a full spectrum warrior like him. I can use any emotion to power the ring with willpower being the strongest." The splashes of blood led her to a foot print in the mud. A naked woman's foot print.
Jay was back.
"They're about an hour away at the rate they're moving and we haven't been missed yet but it will only be a matter of time."
Alison nodded before pointing at the footprint.
"The victims?" Jay asked
"No it's leaving the area not coming towards it."
"One of the other girls. Could they have done this?"
"I doubt they have the skill."
"You mean they had to watch this butchery? What sort of mind could have done this?"
"An insane one or a very sane one. Get me back to the line." Alison spat on the floor.
Jay scooped her up in her arms and gave her a kiss.
"Stand by for express delivery."
They disappeared from the clearing to reappear in their uniforms back in the spot in the line.
It was just in time as Wendy appeared around a stand of trees adjusting her skirt.
"It's alright for the men they can just wee up a tree, they haven't got to get half undressed to spend a penny." She gave them a bright smile. "The Inspector has said we can only do another hour before we will start losing the light."
Wendy joined them as they wound themselves through the woods.
They were just getting to the end of the hour when the girl was found just off to their right.
The girls made a bee line to the glade reaching it just as a police sergeant came out cursing the constables with him. He looked green.
"If you got to be sick do it behind that bush not in the crime scene."
The two officers wasted no time disappearing behind the bush and vomiting violently.
The sergeant took a deep steadying breath.
"I can't let you through ladies. It's not for your eyes." He told them.
"Nonsense Sergeant. Both Jay and I served in a battle field hospital before getting our flying licenses ratified."
What Alison said was true but the worse they had seen were men with VD and in growing toenails.
The body was still laid out on the slab.
Alison gave the body a cursory examination while Jay moved to where the foot print was. Carefully she followed the foot steps only to find it joined by another's. They must have been the other girl but where were the footsteps of their captors. A short distance on the footsteps had vanished.
Jay returned to the body to find Alison in deep conversation with a tall gaunt man with a heavily creased lived in face.
"Are there you are Jay." Alison said with a tight smile. "This is Inspector Grey the leading police officer. Inspector this is my co-pilot and good friend Jay Garrick."
The man nodded at Jay and muttered under his breath.
"Please to meet you."
"The naked footsteps disappear in a hundred yards but not before it is joined by the other girls. There is, strangely, no booted foot of a captor." Jay told the pair of them.
"Inspector I'm wondering if this is some sort of warning, a signal of intent if we continue to look for the other pair."
Jay had wandered over to the body and trying to ignore the taste of vomit in her mouth examined it.
As she gently lifted up one side of the corpse she saw to her horror a thin wire leading to a mine, a antipersonnel weapon.
"Get back." She yelled. "She's lying on a mine."
Ignoring his personal safety the Inspector walked over and knelt beside Jay.
With a trembling finger Jay pointed out the wire and the flat disk of the mine.
"I see." He called across to his sergeant. "Atkins get the bomb squad here pronto."
"Yes sir." The man scurried away rapidly.
"Jay show the Inspector the foot prints you found."
"Will do skip." Jay was glad to be away from the body.
The Inspector had photographs taken of the body, foot prints and the area in general.
"Thank you Ladies. I don't think we need bother you further." He told the women with a dismissive wave of his hand.
The ring on Alison's hand glowed feebly sending a pale version of itself to surround the Inspectors head momentarily.
He shook his head as if trying to dislodge an unwanted thought.
"On second thoughts your detachment may be just what we need to solve the case." He turned back to them and gave them a warm smile. "That's assuming you wish to be involved."
"While we are grounded we'll do what we can to assist." Alison said with a smile.
"I'm staying in the local pub, the Death Knell. Perhaps you would like to meet me there in, shall we say, an hours time."
The girls agreed and left to make their way down to the village but circled round behind the crime scene.
"Why are we here Al?" Jay asked.
"I want to see where they could have gone. To see if there's any properties they could be held in." Alison's costume formed over her body. The rings energy lifted her up into the air. "I could get used to this form of flying."
Jay's costume formed sparkling over her form.
"What sort of radius?" Jay asked.
"Two miles to start with. If you find any, no heroism come back and find me. I'll be taking the east side and will call if I find anything." She smiled down at her lover. "Blur girl, blur."
With a crack of electricity she was gone.
The 'Death Knell' was an old coaching inn, all wooden beams and low ceilings, that sat on the edge of the village.
Jay and Alison entered the lounge bar. Blue curls of tobacco smoke joined the general fug.
It stung their eyes and assailed their nose's.
The hum of conversation stopped abruptly as all eyes turned to stare at the newcomers.
The pair of them crossed over to the bar where a burly local was drying a glass tumbler.
"What can I get you ladies." He said his face set like granite.
"Two Port and Lemons please." Alison said brightly.
"Go through to the Snug ladies and I will bring them through."
"Thank you. Will you let the police inspector know that we are here when he comes in."
"Yes of course my dear. Now just go through that doorway and I'll bring them to you."
The snug was where the women were allowed to sit and drink with out disturbing male sensibilities. It was already occupied by a couple of the married WAAF's and their husbands who were on leave.
They took the table that was near to the fire and enjoyed the warmth driving the cold from their bodies.
Harry the barman brought around the drinks and was about to go when Alison's voice brought him up short.
"'Death's Knell' is a strange name of a pub Harry. There must be a story attached to it." Alison's voice was light and warm. "Why is it called the 'Death's Knell' or how the base came to be called Beltane Harry?"
"I'm sure I don't know miss." Harry sniffed loudly.
"Beltane is the spring ritual where cattle and people walk between two purifying bonfires. The bonfires are used to relight the fires in peoples homes. The ritual protects people from human witches and the fairy folk." Standing by the snug bar was a striking young American with corn yellow hair and the deepest blue eyes Jay had ever seen. "I'm sorry to but in but I could help over hear. The 'Death's Knell' is the bell that rings to warn people that the person they have just buried is still alive. It was adopted by people working the land, in that it was the devil calling all the village folk to choose who would die."
"I see you've already made the acquaintance of Captain Nelson, a compatriot of yours." The Inspector said with a smile as he entered the snug. "He's agreed to help with the autopsy before going south."
"Not The Doctor Kenneth Nelson?" Alison asked. "The wonder child of advanced surgery?"
"Yes the same, it seems my notoriety precedes me."
Ken Nelson was the Mozart of surgery. He was way ahead of every one at college and school. He did his first operation at the age of only sixteen. The last Alison had heard of him was a piece in a high class magazine she had read about his impending marriage to the heiress Inza Crammer and his interest in the occult. He apparently lived in an old brick tower that was once a folly built by the Mayor of Salem.
"Though my skills were hardly called for so thorough was the skill of the perpetrator." Ken stare into his whiskey glass. "She did not die well for all the fact she was heavily drugged with cocaine. Residues were still in her nostrils."
"Are you saying that she was alive when they did that to her?" The Inspector pulled up a chair and sat down.
"Possibly but not for long with the blood loss.""But their wasn't any blood around the body or the organs?" Alison was surprised how calm she felt.
"Yes I wondered if anyone would noticed that. Curious that." Ken turned to the barmaid and asked for another whisky.
"What are you saying man? That she was murdered elsewhere and then brought to the site and was laid out?" The Inspector took a deep pull of his pint of bitter as if trying to wash away the bad taste in his mouth.
"Oh no she was murdered at that spot. She was bled like a kosher calf hence no blood."
"So they took the blood away with them?" Jay said. "For what reason?"
"That is what we have got to find out ladies." Inspector Mike Gray couldn't be called a heartthrob but his rugged features and fast whit made him attractive to women which sometimes was an embarrassment to the happily married man, not to mention his wife, two daughters and only son. "The occult then you're thinking?"
"Could be, but just as likely to be a psychotic who wants to show off." Nelson mused as he knocked back his whisky. "You will have to excuse me I've an early call tomorrow to get the train down to London. Pleasant to have met you Ladies."
With a nod to them he left the pub.
"Strange fellow. Do you know him Ladies?" Mike asked with a slight frown.
"I know of him Inspector? But he's from the Bay State, whereas we are from the corn fields of Kansas, the Bread Basket of the good old US of A" Jay laughed. "It's like asking if you know someone from, I don't know, Cornwall when you live in the Highlands."
"Yes I see. A stupid question that." The Inspector looked embarrassed.
"It's not the worse we've had by any means." Alison laughed. "But to more serious things. Jay and I noticed that there are a few houses and out buildings within a few miles from the site, which could be where the girls are being held."
Mike smiled and pulled out a tatty map out from his raincoat pocket.
"I thought the same idea. The map is a bit old and has seen better days but is still correct."
He unfolded it and laid it out on to the table.
"They're two farm cottages out to the west and about five shed affairs and small huts." Jay said pointing them out on the map.
Mike raised an eyebrow in surprise.
"Yes. That'll be the village of Dovecot. Not much of a place. A few farms and a couple of tied cottages."
"To the east is another village made up of old houses and more little huts." Alison told them.
"The little huts are so the Shepherd can shelter up in bad weather. Some have a barns attached for the sheep."
"So if the girls were the ones that made the footprints they couldn't have gone very far especially as the were barefooted. What sort of distance would you say? Two miles?" Alison asked the inspector.
"Yes somewhere around that." He took a pencil and drew a circle around the spot where the body was found. "I don't know about the small warming huts but it takes in the four villages that make up Beltane. Dovecot, Demond's Bay, Angel's Corner and Sabat."
"Nice names." Jay added with a shiver. "Odd none of the other villages have such. Ouch!"
Alison had trodden on her foot. Hard!
"I felt that Jay. If I stub my toe it makes me feel sick." Alison said smoothly. "Jay was saying that the other villages are to scattered to be of use. Jay?"
"Oh yes that was what I was going to say. Most definitely." Jay replied as she tried to massage her hurt foot."
The conversation waxed and waned for another ten minutes or more before grinding to a halt.
Henry the barman loomed over the bar and pinned the two women with an emotionless stare.
"Ladies your WAAF driver is outside to take you back to the camp. She seems most insistent that you should come."
Alison beamed up at him but it didn't seem to do any good.
"Tell her that we are coming directly."
With bad grace he turned and ducked back into the main bar muttering under his breath.
"What am I, a dammed messenger boy now?"
The women stood up and shook warmly the Inspectors hand as got up to see them off.
"I don't suppose you'll be free to help me out tomorrow. Of course you won't be, silly of me to ask." The man seemed embarrassed to be asking the two women for their aid.
"I doubt that the sky's will clear enough for us to go tomorrow so I don't see why not. Where and what time?" Alison asked.
"I'll pick you up outside the camp at ten o'clock if that's okay?"
"Of course it is Inspector."
They said their goodnights and left the pub to find Wendy sitting as expected in the idling jeep.
Chapter Three House Calls.
The Nissan hut was quiet save for the gentle breathing of Jay. Alison stroked Jays tousled head as it rested on her chest as she stared out of the window seeing nothing.
She had heard of mystery men and women like Superwoman and the Bat but never in her wildest dreams did she expect to be one herself, and it frightened her.
"Arbin." She whispered in hope more than any real belief in getting an answer. "Arbin can you hear me?"
"Yes Lantern 361 stroke 129." A ghostly green translucent image of Abin appeared in the room. "I am to far away from you to offer any physical help, but I can advise should you require it."
"How do you cope with this power?" She asked worried that the mere fact she was asking meant she was unsuitable.
"You will learn in time how to use the batteries power. Trust the ring it will teach you. But somehow I don't think that is what you mean."
She could hear the concern in his voice.
"I am frightened I'll misuse it and what if I don't live up to expectations as a hero?"
"What is a hero save a normal person who feels afraid but still carry's on regardless." Abin smiled. " I felt in awe of the ring when I was called but it eventually becomes part of you. Trust the ring after all it chose you , it saw something special in both of you.
I must go now. Just trust yourself and the ring to do things right."
He dissipated like a fog in a breeze.
Alison snuggled up to Jay only for her to open a bleary eye and look up at her.
"Can't sleep Al?" Jay yawned.
"No I've missed something." Gently she move her lover to one side and got up.
As soon as her feet touched the floor the costume of Dark light weaved itself around her.
Jay got up scratching her ribs.
"Can you take me back to the site where the body was found?" Alison asked.
"I could but not at top speed. At that speed if I trip up on a root or some such in the dark it will cause us to hit the ground with such force to break ever bone in our bodies. And do you know I'd like to avoid that if I can.
I need to see where I'm going." Jays costume was being weaved around her body.
"That's alright Lightning Flash I think I have another way of getting us there." Alison was floating in the air enclosed in a green bubble. "Care to join me?"
"Lightning Flash, hmm, I could get to like that. I would join you if there was a way in." The globe rippled and burped enclosing the two women. "A ring with gas that's all we need.
Al there's something big going on tonight so there will be extra guards. And to be honest I think they will notice two bizarrely dressed women floating over the wire fencing."
"Not if I don't want them to."
The globe became practically invisible as it floated out through the roof into a stormy looking sky.
They drifted over the airfield's perimeter fence as a squadron of Wellington bombers took off toward the enemy coast.
"God speed boys." Jay whispered and crossing herself.
"Good luck guys." Alison added as she put a reassuring arm around Jays shoulder.
A few minutes later they touched down in the woods close by the crime scene.
Jay gave a convulsive shiver.
"I think next time I fly I'll have something solid beneath my feet like an airplane." Jay shook once more. "Having nothing beneath my feet is something that will be hard to get use to."
"What's the matter?"
"There's a policeman guarding the site." Alison snorted.
"Rather him than me. You're asked to stand guard in a spooky wood at night over a body with its guts laying on a stone beside her no wonder he looks on edge." Jay said with a shake of her head. "I think I would have been off to the local pub."
"You'll get no argument from me." Alison lifted her ring clad fist up and aimed it through the bare trees branches at the policeman. "Ring do your stuff."
A faint green light struck the police officer in the head creating a halo. He yawn mightily and sat down onto a root stump. He stretched and sank back down with a loud grunt and fell into a deep and loud snoring sleep.
"How does his wife put up with that? Well done Light how long will he be under?"
"I've no idea Flash I was trying to get him to ignore us." Alison said.
"Ah right I suggest we hurry up then." Jay laughed.
The two of them were soon inside of the tent that covered the body.
"I don't know why we are bothering to hide they are going to see us eventually." Jay said trying hard not to look too closely at the body.
"Yes, they would see two American Women which are pretty thin on the ground around here in fact I can only think of two at the moment." Alison explained as she examined the body.
"Well hoots mon and pass the haggis." Jay's attempt at a Scottish accent left a lot to be desired.
"As I was saying. We're the only American women around so it won't be difficult to work out who we are."
"We don't speak at all or ..." Specks of blood started to glow under Alison's green light. She rose up and hovered over the body. "Now all we have to do is follow them."
"I though you said she had been bled here, that she had been brought here?"
"Yes that's right but who ever did this would have been splashed with blood and remember they took the blood away with them." A green arrow floated in the air.
"Let's go then."
Soon they were out tracking the faintest of blood spores on the air unaware of the Stranger watching them.
After ten minutes or so they came across a warming hut on the edge of the moor.
"This is the place." Alison dropped gently to the ground under a stunted oak tree. "How fast can you get in there and back out again without being seen?"
"I can get in there and back out here in a twinkle of an eye but I can't pass through locked doors."
"How do you know that it is locked?" Alison saw the look on Jays face. "Now that was a silly question you've already checked haven't you?"
Jay just smiled.
"Get me to that door please."
Jay swept her up and in less than a second deposited her at the door.
She looked at the door a moment before creating a ghostly green skeleton key.
With a quiet click the door unlocked.
With a gentle push it opened to reveal a weathered man sitting in a threadbare chair in front of a roaring log fire his sheep dog at his feet.
To say he was startled would be an understatement. After all its not every night you are disturbed by two women in skin tight costumes that leave very little to the imagination.
Jay put up her hand in apology.
"Sorry to disturb you sir." Her voice was distorted and eerie. "We are looking for the missing girls. We think they have been kidnapped."
The old man nodded as if that simple statement explained everything .
"Oh aye. I heard about that from the Laired only this morning." His voice was as wizen as his body.
"Have you been here long sir?" Alison asked in a passable English voice.
"In here you mean? No only half an hour or so. Laddie and me where bringing some of the sheep down of the moors. Twenty of them are in the pens outside. We decided to stop here overnight." He stopped and looked at the small kitchen. "Where are my manners I haven't even given you a drink. I've some tea if you would like some."
"Thank you that would be nice." Jay said with a smile. "Did you notice something odd when you came in?"
"Well no I didn't but come to think of it Laddie did. He was unsettled. It was then that I noticed how clean everything was. I put it down to Laddie smelling the bleach which upset him but having said that he soon settled. Didn't you boy." He ruffled the dogs fur and was rewarded by a loving look from the dog.
"May we take a look around sir?" Alison asked.
"My names Jimmy Munro and you be?"
"I'm sorry Jimmy it is very rude of us. I am Lightning Flash and this is Dark Light." Jay lifted the old copper kettle of the small stove and poured it into the teapot.
"Could I have look around Jimmy?"
"Not at all. You won't have to go far. There's only this room and a bedroom through there." He took over making the tea as Jay vanished but she was back in the blink of an eye. "I think you should see this."
She led the pair of them into the bedroom. Down near the floor was a partial bloody handprint. hidden by a chair.
Alison beamed a thin beam of light on it and watched it fluoresce and its light.
"Hmm." She said
"Is that a good hmm or a bad hmm?" Jay asked.
"To be honest I'm not sure myself. I know this blood comes from a different individual to those previously, it's colour's different."
"One of the other girls Light?"
"I think so." She began to rotate allowing her rings light to wash over the walls like a torch would. "It's trying to see if there is an after glow left by the person who owns that blood."
"Sorry?" Jay said.
"Don't ask I don't understand it either but I know its right. Ah there we go."
Sitting slumped against the wall in the corner was a young woman in her underwear. The course rope that bound her had made her finger tips bleed as she had tried to undo the knots that held her fast.
The image began to fade.
"Now what was that?" Jimmy asked a little unnerved by what he had seen.
"A bioluminescent image of one of the girls. I'm afraid both the girls must have been held here and not that long ago." Alison explained.
Jimmy nodded as if he was actually believing it.
"That's just a guess I'm afraid."
"How can you be sure they were both held here we only saw the one in the light of yours?"
"The ring was only tuned to the one that made the hand print. I can surmise they were both here because that young woman's blooded fingers could not have come about by her trying to undo her own knots because she won't be able to reach it."
"It could only have come about by trying to undo the other girls knots." Jay pulled on her lower lip.
Once back in the main room Jimmy poured out the tea and led them to the chairs in front of the fire.
The three of them sat quietly sipping on their slightly stewed tea.
"It's no wonder they cleaned the place what with you and that light of yours." Jimmy offered.
"Yes they did but not necessarily for my benefit. But if it was, how did they know I'd be coming here, even I didn't know we'd be here?"
"Is there nothing Lassie and I can do to help you girls. Lassies no bloodhound but she might be able to follow that scent for you."
"When I used the ring I sterilised the stain. There's nothing to follow." Alison's face looked strained. "Thank you for the offer Jimmy and thank you for this excellent cup of tea. We must be on our way."
Alison was about to leave when something occurred to her.
"Jimmy could you do us a favour?"
"You won't know if you don't ask." Jimmy replied.
"Do you know the pub The Death Knell."
"Aye I've supped there a time or two. Why?"
"Staying there is the police inspector dealing with the case. Could you tell him about the place being too clean and about the blood stained hand print please?"
"And if you can leave out our involvement it would be a great." Jay added as she finished washing and drying the tea things at breakneck speed.
"I'll do my best lassies because I don't think he would believe me if I told him of you." Jimmy smiled showing his perfect teeth.
After they had gone Jimmy crossed to the bedroom. He raised his hand and a golden symbol of the Ankh appeared above the bed illuminating the sleeping forms of both Jimmy and Lassie.
The Stranger stood where the image of Jimmy once stood.
"It seem that you are not the threat I thought you would be, but you have a part to play in all this. You have only few days at most to do so."
The light grew in intensity and then dwindled away to nothing with the intruder no where to be seen.
When the morning came it found both Alison and Jay up and dressed. They had gotten used to early mornings and disturbed sleep patterns.
Jay was adjusting Alison's tie when she took her chin in her hand and lifted her head up and with slightly open lips kissed her.
The pulse in Jay's neck jumped as she succumbed to their joint passions. Alison drew Jay closer to her, their breath coming as one as hands caressed each other. Suddenly Alison's head snapped up.
"Follow my lead someone is coming."
She swiftly took Jay in a dance hold and began to waltz her around the tight space by the pot stove.
Their was a knock at the door and then Wendy entered.
"Jay try and keep up will you. You're so slow." Alison said before letting Jay go so the pair of them could respond to Wendy's salute.
"Good Morning Captain, Lieutenant." Somehow she seemed subdued, the bright smile a little false."
"Good morning Flight." Jay said with a laugh. "You have just saved me from a fate worse than death. The good Captain is determined to teach me to dance, me with my two left feet."
"Good morning Flight. I'm afraid the Lieutenant is a lost cause. I don't know how she can be so slow and clumsy. I'm surprised I've any toes left." It was then that Alison noticed something was wrong. "You okay Flight."
"The crews were on ops last night laying mines off the Dutch coast. One of the bombers radio went U/S and they turned for home but they misjudged it and flew over a flack battery on the coast. The searchlights coned them. They didn't stand a chance.
A shell exploded in the bomb bay setting off the mines. It blew apart. I was on the wireless last night and heard the calls as they came in."
Alison squeezed Wendy's shoulder.
"What happened did they abandon the mission?" Jay asked.
"No they carried on and finished their mission. They couldn't abandon it for one aircraft."
"No I don't suppose they could." Alison said sadly.
Wendy moved her shoulders as if she was making a load more comfortable on her back.
"I'll escort you to the officers mess or are you going to the NAFFI?"
"NAFFI I think don't you Jay that's assuming they will have us. How old was the crew?" Alison allowed Jay to straighten her tie.
"You met them yesterday, they were the crew that stood up for you."
"Oh my God they were so young." Jay exclaimed.
"And you're ancient of course." Wendy said sarcastically and instantly regretted it. "Sorry."
"That's alright Wendy. Shall we go?" Alison said.
A few minutes later they had reached the NAAFI canteen.
"When we go in don't talk about the crew that died it's considered bad form. Don't judge them to harshly it's how they cope." Wendy explained.
"We understand Flight. We've delivered to one of our airfields after a raid and have seen the same thing." Alison reassured her.
As they entered the buzz of voices suddenly stopped.
"Officer present!" Wendy bellowed.
On mass the crews of the planes and the sprinkling of WAAF's stood up and gave the salute.
The three of them saluted in reply.
"Permission to join you brave people?" Alison asked.
"Permission granted." A Flight Sergeant answered.
"Oh thank goodness for that from what I've heard the officers mess's food is quite mediocre. " Jay quipped.
A young Flight Sergeant stepped forward and saluted.
"Excuse me Captain I understand you are helping in the search for Mary? Have there been any news about her? They say the police have found a body it wasn't hers was it?"
"Do you know her well Flight?" Alison asked gently.
"No, well yes." came the confused reply. "She wasn't my girl friend or anything, more like a little sister. We'd go walking together when we could. A right tomboy she was, is, always making me laugh."
"I wish I had news for you but I haven't anything concrete to go on." Alison paused and saw the young mans face drop in pain. "I tell you what why don't you tell us about her while the three of us have breakfast."
"Hello my dear." Morag called from the serving counter. "Do you want the same as yesterday?"
"Yes but can we add a sausage to each of them?" Jay called.
"Of course my dear. I shouldn't worry your little heads over those three girls. They've run off somewhere and will come back with their tails beneath their legs you see."
"I'm afraid that's unlikely as we've found the body of one of them in the woods. But I'm sure we can find the others in time by helping the police." Alison answered angry at the woman's insensitivity.
During breakfast George Cummings, the Flight Sergeant, along with some of the others filled in the blanks about the three girls. One thing stood out was their different personalities.
Anne was solitary and studious, looking after her elderly parents, Mary was a tom boy that all the crews loved like a little sister and finally Lucy the flirt who knew how her body could inflame a man and knew how to use it.
As promised the Inspector was outside the camp wait by his car.
"Good Morning Ladies." He called to them with a broad smile.
He took of his hat with chivalry before he use it to point at the uniformed police officer standing by the drivers door.
"Constable Hargreaves. He's the local bobby so could add local knowledge. Hargreaves this is Alison Scott and Jay Garrick and they will be helping with our inquires."
There was something about the constable that was familiar and it took Alison a few moments to realise what it was. he was a spitting image of the pub land lord.
They opened the back doors for the women to get in.
"We've had a bit of luck." Mike told them as the car pulled away. "A Shepherd came to the pub early this morning looking for me. The warming cabin he stayed in last night had a bloodied hand print low down on the wall. It made him realised how clean everywhere was. I've sent forensics up ahead of us."
"Is that were we are going Inspector?" Alison asked.
"More or less. We can't get to it by car so we will get as close as we can and then study the map."
He was as true as his word as the car glided to a stop a short distance below the cabin.
He laid the map of the area out on the cars hood using small stones from the dry stone wall to hold it in place.
"We're here." He said pointing at a spot on the map. "If the girls were taken from the hut how far do you think they will get. I estimate no more than five miles probably more like three."
"I agree Inspector but I think probably less than that." Alison was studying the map carefully. "There are six of those Warming huts within range but I suggest these four as more likely candidates."
"Three of them are on the laird's land. I don't think he will much like it if we just go tramping across his land unannounced." Hargreaves told them. "He's a prickly sort of character."
"What about these two village?" Jay asked.
"Hmm that's Sabat and Dovecot." Mike rubbed his chin deep in thought a moment. "The uniforms have been stood down. So that leaves just the four of us. You ladies ok about being split up?"
"Yes no problem at all. Why do you ask?" Alison said with a frown.
"I'm suggesting that you and I do a door to door in Sabat whilst our young officer and your friend have a look at the huts. If you are agreeable that is?"
"That sounds a sound idea if you will pardon the pun. Are you okay on this Jay?"
"Yes that's fine. Come on my boy in blue oh and bring the map with you."
"Get in the car. I'll drop you at the Laird's house before we go to Sabat." Mike commanded.
As they drove up the drive toward the Lairds country home a feeling of foreboding gripped Alison. The driveway was shaded by gnarled trees and led to the house proper. A massive gothic house that loomed over the deer park.
It was as if Death had found a home.
Then perhaps he had.
Chapter Four. Sabat and Reason.
Jay and the constable were ushered through to the drawing room where the Laired was warming himself by the fire while sipping on a brandy. The Laired himself was a tall thin man with a sallow complexion and a flinty eye.
He looked across at them as they entered.
"Good Morning Tom." His voice was warm and at odds with his appearance.
"Good morning my Lord. May I introduce my companion Lieutenant Jay Garrick of the American Air force." It was obvious that the two men knew each other well.
"Are you indeed." The Laired was impressed so Jay decided not to correct Tom. "Well please to meet you my dear. I'm John Logie the Laired of this sorry land. Please sit down and I'll have Mrs Teller bring us some tea and biscuits."
A little latter as they sat supping their tea did the conversation turned to the reason of their visit.
"Now pleasant as this all is I somehow think there is more than a social visit involved here. What can I do for you?"
"I'm afraid their is my Lord. My Captain and I are helping the police with their inquiries into the missing three girls." Jay explained.
"I see. A dreadful business."
"Yes quite so. We have unfortunately discovered the body of one of the missing girls. Forensic are working to establish which one it is."
"Surely you can recognise the face?"
"I'm afraid not my Lord. The face was deliberately damaged to prevent a positive ID." Tom added.
"We have reason to believe that the girls may have been held in the warming huts on your property and we would like your permission to examine them." Jay gave the man a winning smile.
"Rather you than me." He said. "But I don't see why not. I'll have one of my game keepers show you."
"No that's fine my Lord we know where we are going." With that Jay got to her feet. "Thank you for the tea my Lord but we have abused your hospitality enough."
She shook the mans hand and was about to go when she turned back to ask.
"Are there any witches coven's active in the area do you know my Lord?"
"What an extraordinary question to ask. There used to be before the great war but nothing now. We live in a more enlightened age."
"True my Lord. It's just that they may have proven to be helpful. Well good day my Lord."
A few minutes later his Lordship made a phone call.
"Hello Logie here. I've just had the most odd visitor. An American pilot is investigating the girls disappearance. Hmm what's that. Two of them you say."
He listened to the voice at the other end for a moment. "Yes I agree, they could prove to be a problem. I suggest we postpone all activities until we hear otherwise. Yes I do know that it is important but I don't think we have a choice."
He listened for a few more moments before putting down the receiver.
"It seems your in for a bumpy ride ladies a very bumpy one and sadly there's no guarantee you'll survive."
Mike and Alison pulled up at the village green of Sabat and got out of the car. The village sat at the bottom of a steep vale that channelled the cold wind down it.
"Are you going to be warm enough Alison?" He asked. "I'd give you my coat but it's all I have."
"I'm fine Mike you forget that I'm used to flying in temperatures of minus thirty degrees centigrade. But still the same it would be nice to get out of the cold." What she didn't tell Mike was the fact she was siphoning a little of the rings energy to keep warm. "Let's try the Rectory first."
"If you're expecting a warm welcome their you're going to be disappointed." Mike chirped. "The old vicar has long gone. A pair of spinsters live their with their niece. Not a cheerful pair so I'm told."
To say that was an understatement.
"Sinners they were all three of them." Agnes stated coldly.
"They were nothing less than floozies. Staying out all night, going to those dances." Bella added.
"Now aunties you know that is not true. Anne especially." Iris cautioned.
"She had desires above her station that one." Agnes snorted.
Alison leaned forward.
"Now I know that you are astute women, nothing gets by you. Did any of the girls have a boy friend or trouble with boys do you know." Alison did a quick look around her as if she was looking out for eavesdroppers. "If you know what I mean."
The women's faces lit up.
"The Starnes girl hung around that new Vicar and he is no better than he should be. The other two girls always had a airman on their arms. Then there's the strange coming and going up at the Laird's. Strangers out in the woods and moor's." Bella said.
"These people up on the moors are they the Laird's hunting guests." Mike asked gently.
"Bless you boy no. We know all the hunters and the beaters. Something dark is going on up in those woods mark my words."
Alison suddenly sat upright.
"Thank you ladies you have been very helpful." She said making Mike raise an eyebrow.
Outside he spoke his concern that the interview had been cut short.
"They were telling the truth as far as they knew it. When I was holding their hands and wrists I monitored their heart rate." Alison explained. "But did you notice the nieces heart rate went up during the interview."
"Did you feel her wrist too?"
"No but you couldn't ignore the pulse in her neck getting faster. She was scared that they were going to give something away."
She lead the way back to the car.
"Now they haven't a telephone so she will have to go and see them personally, either that or use the public phone." She told Mike.
"Their isn't a public phone in the village, the nearest is about ten minutes away up the valley." He opened the car door for her. "So we will have to sit it out. Watch and wait."
"I wonder how the other two are doing." Alison said as she surreptitiously warmed the car up with the power of her ring.
Jay and Tom said little at first as they plodded up the narrow track to the first of the warming huts.
"We don't get many Americans up here." Tom said as they negotiated a small gate on to the cold exposed moors. "What it like back in America?"
"That is difficult to say as the US is a vast place. Where I and the Captain come from the winters are very cold and the summers very hot. We're the daughters of farmers, corn growers." Jay smiled warmly at the young Constable. "What about you Tom are you from a family of policemen?"
"Me no my father is the licensee of the Death Knell pub. We come from a long line of crofters."
"Ah that explains why the Captain thought she recognised you from somewhere. I must admit I couldn't see it but now I do.
Are their witches covens around here Tom?"
Jay asked in a change of direction.
"No I don't but my old dad does. He tried to warn me off getting involved."
"That's interesting. Now why would your pa do that?"
"He's superstitious. He thinks we are meddling in things better left alone."
They were silent for a moment as they turned the corner to see up ahead a large hut. In the air was the smell of wood smoke.
The two of them tensed up.
They reached the sole door to the hut. Jay put a finger to her lips for silence as she gently quietly tried the door.
It was locked.
Jay shaded the lock from Tom vision and began turning it back and forth at blinding speed. With a faint clunk the lock disintegrated.
Jay gently pushed it open.
The room was empty, no one was at home.
The fire was warm and inviting.
"They haven't left long ago." She observed. "The fires well banked."
"I think you may want to have a look at this Lieutenant."
"The names Jay Tom. What have you got."
She crossed over to where a small table stood in an alcove. Jay didn't like what she was looking at.
Three incredibly sharp knives were in a green webbing belt. A pistol was in a holster. But it wasn't that that Tom was holding up. It was a thin wire with small wooden handles at each end.
"A garrotte?" Tom nodded.
"Yes I think so."
Jay examined the pile of metallic bits and pieces. "There's enough material here to make a nasty booby trap. What's going on here Tom?"
"I don't know." He lifted the gun up and checked the magazine. It was full. "I'm with the Home Guard and have seen one of these before. The captain has one. Are you thinking what I'm Thinking?"
"Yes, that's assuming you think we have stumble on a saboteurs hide out."
Tom nodded with a worried frown.
"But there is nothing up here that's worth blowing up. In Edinburg and Glasgow yes but out here?"
"What about the airfield?"
"You would have a better idea than I have about that?" Tom returned the weapon to the pile with a shrug. "We better report this."
"Yes, but not quite yet." Jay said thoughtfully.
"Because we still haven't found the girls and I somehow doubt they are part of this. Whatever this is."
They carefully left the hut and made their way out onto the moors and the next hut.
"Jay do you think we will find the girls?"
"I have to hope we will. Whoever has them can't afford to move them in day light for fear of being seen."
"I doubt that is such a problem out here. They would be very unlikely to bump into anyone up here."
"You may be right Tom but we can't ignore these huts especially after the hand print has been found." Jay smiled at him to encourage him as was pleased to receive one in return. "How long to the next Tom?"
"About half an hour I think. Its tucked into the side of the fell at a place called 'Reason.'"
They eventually reached the next hut.
It was empty and cold. They decided to take a rest for a while and make use of the facilities. Tom soon had a fire going in the grate while Jay made a cup of black tea for each of them.
While Tom sipped his tea Jay went outside to use the rest room that was attached to the building.
As she came out adjusting her uniform a lithe arm wrapped around her neck and a sharp knife was pressed against her chest just under her ribs.
"Quiet!" A woman's voice whispered intensely into her ear as the knife pressed harder into her chest.
Death was close and she could feel its breath on her neck.
Chapter Four Calling the Shots
Mick and Alison didn't have long to wait as the cottage door opened and Iris shot out like a cork from a Champagne bottle.
With some speed she made her way toward the church.
"What is the betting that there is a phone in the church." Alison mused.
"Or someone waiting?"
"Let's find out shall we? Now we've found she has something to hide I have some questions that need answering?"
They endeavoured to walk quietly up the shingle path to the side door of the church but every crunch sounded like a gun shot.
They reached the doorway and slipped in behind the curtains that kept the draught out.
Iris was talking to someone with worried animation.
"They are getting too close I tell you! Yes, yes I know it must be tonight but..."
The listeners heard a mans voice replying but they couldn't make out what was being said.
"What if they find them? Of course I don't care what happens to them they are little trollops. It's your becoming that worries me." She made a gurgling sound. "Please don't my love. I don't want to be scared of you." Her voice was panicky and full of fear. "Please, please, no, don't make me do it. I love you."
Then there was a single gun shot.
They burst through the curtain in time to see Iris crumple to the floor a smoking gun in her hand and the phone receiver swinging on its cord.
They split up immediately with Alison crossing to the body of the woman and the phone receiver.
It was obvious from a glance that there was little she could do to help Iris. Alison picked up the receiver and put it to her ear.
The low drone of the dialling signal was plain to hear.
Alison cast about her looking for any sign of the owner of the male voice when she spied a thin curl of yellow smoke whispering out of an open window.
She sniffed to see if she could smell incense but all she could smell was the metallic tang of blood as it pooled around Iris's head.
Mike was carefully moving between the pews but he found no one.
"Telephone?" He asked.
"Just a dialling tone." She passed it to him.
Within moments he had confirmed with the operator that no calls were made or received by the church telephone. He called up the police station and had them send forensic over." People don't just disappear Alison." Mick grunted angrily. "We heard a mans voice."
"Yes we did. A voice on a telephone that wasn't used." Alison mused as she began tracing the telephone wires that ran to the telegraph pole outside.
She came across a rogue set of wires and began tracing them toward a curtained off alcove.
Mick signalled her to say nothing while he began a rambling monologue as he drew nearer to the curtained area.
"So what have we got? Three girls kidnapped, one dead. A warming hut with evidence of the girls being held there. And what seems to be a witches coven member also dead."
Alison had reached the curtained off alcove. She took the fabric in her hand and with a nod from Mick she wrenched them away to reveal…
To reveal a desiccated corpse sitting with a telephone receiver in his hand.
"What the hell?!"
"Yes I'm afraid you're right." Alison sighed.
"To get rid of all the moisture from a body requires great heat and mummifying embalming. Know anyone who could do it?" Alison stomach was doing summersaults. "And just for the record, no I don't believe in the occult either."
"Yes. If we're right he was dried out elsewhere and brought here? There's only one possible place. The crematorium!" With a grimace of disgust he began going through the corpses pockets. "It's not worth going to the crematorium to question the funeral director I'm afraid."
"Why not?" As Alison said it she had a sinking feeling in her stomach that she knew the answer.
"He is the funeral director." Mick showed her a visitors card.
"He was set up to frighten the brethren. Look there's a small speaker in his mouth." Alison wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "In dim flickering candle light it would be quite effective."
"Alison it looks like he got out through this door." In the wall was a small half door.
Alison had severe doubts about that door being a possible escape route but she tried it anyhow. It moved stiffly with a loud grinding screech to reveal a set of stone steps up to the graveyard.
Both of them were thankful to be outside in the sun and enjoyed it's meagre warmth, breathing the cold fresh air.
A cursory glance at the ground didn't show anything in the way of evidence to support Mick's theory.
Alison looked up at him.
"Now where?" She asked.
"To see the vicar I think don't you."
In the distance two police vehicles could be seen weaving their way off the moor.
"Yes I think you right but first we better tell the ladies that Iris won't be coming home anytime soon." Alison said without enthusiasm.
"I know it's a lot to ask of you but could you do it while I set the forensic crews up. I'll join you as soon as I can." Mike to his benefit did look contrite. "I'll join you as soon as possible."
Alison squared her shoulders and made her way back toward the rectory aware of eyes watching her every move from behind the twitching curtains.
Mike met Alison as she was leaving the house minutes later.
"How did it go?" Mike could see the look of disgust on Alison's face.
"They couldn't care less. They just kept repeating that she was debauched and was having an affair with the new vicar." Alison sighed. "They said she wasn't their niece anyway. The eldest was adamant they would be alright as a church warden will move in with them. It was if Iris had trapped them there, stopping them from going out.
It was peculiar all round."
"The medical examiner agreed with your diagnosis about the funeral director but he was killed first by a blow to the back of the head." Mike reported.
"At leased he didn't suffer." She furrowed her forehead . "But why kill him? Why him?"
"Perhaps our new vicar can answer that question."
"Is it worth ignoring the other houses here just to see him now?"
"We can always come back." Mike led her across to the car.
The old ladies watched them drive off.
"The rest of the coven must be warned if we are to help them." Agnes said as Bella dressed for going out. "Get the ladies to come here Bella. We have little time left."
"At least we aren't being watched anymore."
"Or kept in. Go Bella dear and ask Jennie Green if she would be our health visitor."
Their eyes were twinkling with intelligence as they turned to look at the Stranger.
The door to the hut was pushed open.
"If your making tea Tom we need an extra cup." Jay quipped.
The knife at her neck drew a bead of blood.
Jay assessed the situation rapidly.
She could use her super speed but there were two serious reasons why she shouldn't. The first was the fact the knife would be plunged into her neck by her captor in fear, the second one was that her assailant would let go, when at high speed, breaking every bone in her body and probably pull Jay over too.
So it was to be a waiting game.
"Shut up. I'll tell you when you can speak." The voice hissed into her ear.
"Sorry I'm sure." Jay said crestfallen.
She could see Tom was also assessing the situation and gave a slight shake of the head as a warning.
"Put down the knife and let the Lieutenant go. We don't want anyone to get hurt do we?" Tom leaned forward to try and convince the woman.
"Especially me." Jay snorted.
"Shut up!" She pushed Jay toward Tom.
Jay turned and got her first view of her assailant and got a surprise. The woman was about the same age as Jay perhaps a little older. She was dressed in a black roll neck jumper and black slacks. In her hand was now an Italian Berretta pistol, the one they had seen in the first hut. Her face had black streaks on it to reduce its shine.
"Why are you up on the moors?"
"I'm Detective Constable Tomas Howard and this is Lieutenant Jay Garrick of the United States Army Airforce. Why were you on the moor?" If Tom was trying to unnerve the young woman it didn't work.
She lifted the pistol and placed it against Jays temple.
"Talk!" She said angrily.
"Oh fine I can talk now can I" Jay snorted. "Well make up your mind?"
Jay lifted a rapidly vibrating hand up to the gun and moved it slightly.
"That's better it was pressing on a bone." She said.
"I only need one of you alive so don't push your luck." The voice was high class and at odds with her appearance.
"Well your going to need these to make your threat viable." Jay opened her hand to reveal the pilfered bullets sitting in her palm. "I took the liberty of removing them at the other hut. Your base I take it?"
The woman lowered the pistol and checked the magazine. It was empty.
She looked up puzzled to confront Jay.
"You haven't answered my question." She said.
"No I haven't then nor have you." Jay smiled. "But to be friendly I'll go first. Where shall I start. Ah yes I know."
Saving for a couple of questions she was able to finish with little interruptions.
"There you are, now it's your turn. No let me." Jay's face hardened. "You are part of the Special Operations Executive or S.O.E. for short. She's a secret agent Tom, an assassin. She's going to be dropped behind enemy lines to kill some of the Germans.
I didn't realise what I had seen till you attacked me. It's ironic, if you had let us go we wouldn't be blowing your cover wide open.
Am I right Claudette?"
Jay displayed an identity card with the woman's picture on it.
"I picked your pocket, blame a naughty youth. Good workmanship by the way."
She returned the card.
"Thank you. Yes I'm a agent. I'm doing survival training. Several agents are searching for me but I've got to evade them and blow up a target." She explained as she sipped the proffered tea.
"The explosive triggers a paint bomb?"
"Yes." Claudette sat down by the fire and warmed her hands. "I thought you were the counter agents out for me."
"What happens now?" Tom asked.
"Nothing we go our ways and don't mention it to anyone." Jay told him. "Have you seen anything strange since you've been up here."
"You mean the girls? No I haven't, not for sure but now you mention it I did see, and your going to laugh at this, a meteor land not far from here and a red faced man stagger from that direction only to disappear into the woods.
It happened just before the girls vanished.
You don't think they were daft enough to go and have a look do you?"
Jay didn't like the way things were going.
She needed to speak to Alison and tell her but how?
"The girl we found wasn't killed by a meteor landing on her head. She was surgically dissected" Jay said with dread.
"Like an alien would if he was trying to see how we work." Tom said with a doom laden voice.
"You read to many of those pulp fiction science fiction books." Jay cautioned. "I wonder?"
"What?" Claudette asked as baffled as Tom.
"What if that was what we were meant to believe, to get us looking the wrong way." Jay smiled at her two companions. "Claudette could you take us to where the meteor hit."
"That's the point Jay. It made no noise and there was no impact explosion. I put it down to a trick of the light."
"Take us to where you saw it. We'll take it from there."
Jay couldn't for the life of her see a connection with the girls but felt sure there was one.
"I just need to make a visit to the little girls room." Jay said slipping out of the room and back out into the cold air.
She needed to speak to Alison but how. Feeling foolish she held up her ring and spoke to it.
"Al can you hear me? Over."
"Yes but make it quick. Over."
Even in this bizarre situation their radio discipline was maintained.
"A meteor landed a few miles from where I am. I want to go and investigate. Over."
"We haven't got time to go on jaunts we're dealing with a serial killer that's somehow tied up with a witches coven. Over."
Jay felt a little annoyed at being dismissed.
"Your serial killer may be some sort of alien conducting an autopsy. Over!"
There was a pause before Alison replied.
"Sorry Jay. Hadn't thought of that. Check it out please but be careful? If you're right we don't know what we are dealing with. Over."
"Will do over and out." Jay allowed herself a small smile of satisfaction.
"Understood over and out."
When Jay re-entered the hut she found the two occupants staring at each other.
"What's the matter with you two?" She asked a little irritated.
"I don't approve of killers on the Laird's land." Tom snorted.
"And I don't approve of snot nosed policeman passing judgement on me."
"For a start the Laired must know they are using his grounds. Secondly I think what Claudette is doing is very courageous considering that she will no doubt be tortured and killed if she is captured. And you lady should remember the hardships the people suffer around here. Now lead the way." Jay admonished them.
Following the secret agent they faded away into the forest.
In Beltane Alison lowered the ring and willed Mick out of his induced stupor. Other than a shake of the head as if to clear it there was no lasting affects.
They carried on up the driveway to park in front of the Rectory house in Beltane both of them wondering how to broach the subject of witchcraft.
They were met at the door by a dear old lady called Martha Brown.
"Hello can I help you?" She said brightly. "It's a beautiful morning if a little cold."
Alison had to agree as the night clouds had disappeared to leave a deep blue sky.
"Sorry to have disturb you. I'm Inspector Gray." He said pulling out his warrant card and showing her. "And this Captain Scott of the United States Airforce. She is assisting me."
"How do you do my dears. I'm Mrs Brown, Martha Brown. I do for the vicar, I'm his housekeeper."
"Good Morning Martha. Is the vicar at home we'd like a word with him if that is at all possible?" Alison gave her a warm smile.
"Yes he is. He's in the study." She opened the door wide and ushered them in. "Go through there the two of you while I go and see if the vicar will see you."
They entered the morning room where a low fire radiated some meagre heat.
A few moments later the door opened and the vicar walked in with Martha following with a tea tray of biscuits and tea.
"Good to see you again Captain and you Inspector." He said brightly.
After Martha had poured the tea and left the conversation turned to the reason of their visit.
"Do you know a woman called Iris in Sabat? She lives with her aunt's in the old rectory." The Inspector asked whilst trying without success to dunk his biscuit in his tea.
"No I don't think so? Why?"
"That's strange they know you. In fact they told us you were an intimate friend of the missing girl Anne Starns." Alison asked as she lent back in the comfortable leather chair.
"That is just idle village gossip." The vicar replied tetchily. "I used to give the girl a chance to learn how to play the church organ."
"Where were you on the night before the girls were found?" Mike asked.
"You can't think I had anything to do with that surely?"
"It's nothing personal vicar we just need to eliminate you from our inquires." Mike told him. "Can you verify your movements this morning ? Say from ten O'clock till eleven?"
"The night before the girl was found I was in the Deaths Knell holding our monthly service there. Then I visited a couple of my parishioners who are too frail to come to our services."
"Can you tell us what time you got back here reverent?" Mick asked.
"Around nine o'clock or there about."
"That would be useful in eliminating some more of the villagers. Could you give us a list of who was there please?"
The vicar pulled out a peace of paper and began writing out a list.
"You still haven't told us where you were this morning vicar?" Alison said as she poured them all another cup of tea from the large pot.
"Where were you from between, let us say, eight till now."
"I have been here most of the morning trying to get tomorrows sermon done. I went out for a walk first thing and got back here about ten." The vicar looked up from his list. "You still haven't told me what this is all about?"
"What do you know about Iris Wendlock?"
"Not a lot. As you've already said she lives in Sabat with her two elderly Aunts. "
"Would you say she was devout?"
"Yes frighteningly so. She is always the first into the church. Why?"
"I'm sorry to tell you that Iris shot herself in the head in Sabat's church about an hour ago." Alison told him carefully watching his reactions. "We just fail to get to her in time."
"Oh my dear God." For all his words he didn't seem to be upset.
"Was she, for want of a better word, your girl friend?" Alison asked sharply.
"Was she my lover you mean? No perish the thought." He took a sip of his tea to gather himself. "I knew she had a crush on me but I did nothing to encourage it."
"Like Anne Starns." Mick said. "Or did you try and encourage that one?"
"No of course I didn't. She was coming around to practice on the church organ. Mr Grayling, our present organist, is stepping down and Anne is going to take his place. He's eighty four and not very good on his legs now."
He finished his tea.
"If that is all, you will have to excuse me but I have a church to bless." His calm demeanour was starting to crack.
"Oh yes I think that's alright, my forensic team should have finished by now." Mick told him.
"Oh yes I should think so." Alison agreed before adding with wicked glee. "You might want to bless the shrivelled corpse of the Funeral Director that's huddled in the corner."
The vicars face went white.
Chapter Five Tightening Knots.
Jay and Tom followed the secret agent along the tree line still she came to a stop by a fossilised bog tree.
""I was here when the yellow light came down. It came down behind those two ruined huts." Claudette whispered.
Have you got the explosive and paint with you?" Jay asked.
For a moment Claudette crouched there completely baffled.
"Is your target near here?"
"Yes. It's an old folly situated at the edge of the wood about half a mile away."
"I know it." Tom piped up. "It's Luke's Tower."
"Yes that's right. But I'm still puzzled as to why you want to know."
"They're going to be guards out to spot you. Whereas they would ignore a beau and his girl friend looking for a picnic spot." Jay smiled. "You didn't think I was carrying this basket just for the sake of it?"
"I just thought that you had taken a shine to it." Tom said with a laugh.
"No it's for carrying the bombs." Jay said wickedly, enjoying the sight of Tom going pail. "You better show me how to set them up Claudette."
Ten minutes latter an unusual device had been assembled and primed.
"I know what you are thinking. You think your cheating, well you're not." Jay gripped the woman's muscular arm. "You're trained to be able to use anything that comes to harm and that includes us."
Jay passed the basket and it's lethal cargo over into Tom's shaky hands.
"Lead the way McDuff."
"Sorry?" Tom said perplexed.
"Just lead the way Tom, just lead the way."
"What about me?" Claudette asked.
"Go and investigate the meteor site and then meet us back at the hut. Be careful the area may be irradiated."
Jay and Tom wandered through the woods hand in hand like a couple going for a stroll.
Jay laid her head on his shoulder.
They said little till the folly came into view.
The folly was a miniature Norman Keep with fake ruins surround it.
They wound their way through the ruins toward the tower.
Jay took the basket from Tom and gave him a tender kiss. She signalled him to sit while she wandered around the keep disappearing from sight only to reappear a minute later.
Holding out her hand to be taken by Tom they wandered away back the way they had come.
Now Jay had disappeared out of sight for a minute but that was all the time she needed.
In the first split second her scintillating costume had formed in the next the bombs had been laid ready to spray the keep in red, white and blue.
In the next few seconds she had found the watchers and decided to have fun at their expense. One was standing beside a tree when Jay made the belt of her slacks break causing her slacks to fall to the ground displaying a pair of French frilly knickers.
Another had his pistol replaced by a small tree branch.
And so on.
She felt secure in the knowledge that they would be to embarrassed to say anything to each other.
As Tom and Jay broke the tree line there came a loud clump sound.
Jay smiled imagining the watchers confusion as they looked up at the daubed keep wondering how their target got through and more importantly how she had the time to paint the Stars and Stripes on a ruin wall with the left over paint.
It was as they neared the hut to be met by Claudette that a pale green ear worm connected her to Alison.
After a few moments listening she smiled at the secret agent.
"Mission accomplished. Did you find an impact site?" She asked as she warmed her hands at the fire.
"It isn't a meteor strike, more like a aeroplane crash. There's bits scattered all around."
Jay raised a questioning eyebrow.
"I didn't get to close as there was someone already there" She explained. "But I did find this."
Jay nodded and took the piece of wreckage.
"Right we will be on our way. We won't mention you by name. Good luck Claudette."
Jay led the puzzled Tom out.
"Where are we going?" He asked.
"The Lairds. I think we need to clear up some things."
"What about the other two huts?"
"Plot us a course that will take them in and get to the Lairds in the shortest time please Tom."
"Yes Lieutenant." He replied with a grin.
The two groups met up at the Lairds with Jay arriving a few minutes after Alison's.
"Well I must say this is most delightful. I don't often get such visitors such as you ladies." The Laired said brightly. "Have you eaten? I dare say Mrs Mackieth could rustle something up for us."
"Thank you my Lord but no we are fine at the moment." Alison told him only to shown that she was lying as her stomach protested loudly. "We will be on our way soon. I've a couple of questions if I may?"
"Certainly ask away?" He offered them a cigarette from a silver box. The girls and Tom declined but Mick accepted. He replaced the box beside a pack of multicoloured cigarettes.
"Why are you allowing your land to be used to train killers?" Alison asked softly.
"I'm not. What gives you that idea?"
"Why are you lying my Lord? It's obvious that it doesn't sit well with you." Alison said with a sniff as she nibbled on a biscuit she had purloined off the Lairds coffee tray.
"Well of all the temerity." His Lordship spluttered. "Of all the infernal cheek."
"Tom and I bumped into an S.O.E agent, one of many using your land, and if it wasn't for my foresight in removing the bullets from her pistol we'd be dead." Jay's nostrils flared with anger. "Forgive me my Lord for not believing you don't know they are using your land. I've seen them."
"No I am certainly not." The man blustered.
"My Lord three girls have gone missing and one of them has been murdered!" Jay rage. "Your invisible guests may have been involved."
"The lieutenant has a point my Lord." Mick added in support. "We need to interview them to eliminate them from our inquires ."
"How many times must I tell you I haven't given any group the right to use my land." He crossed over to the phone. "We'll soon get to the bottom of this."
The door to the study creaked open to reveal a cruel looking man and a businesslike woman.
"Enough Hamish, I think we owe your guests an explanation, the truth as far as we safely can." Her voice had the plumy tones of British aristocracy. "We are not going to give our real names to you as they are unimportant.
If you require names I am Madam X and this gentleman is the Enforcer."
The voice also had a trace of humour to it, an amused superiority.
"You are correct we are S.O.E? Though how you knew of us will have to wait for another day." She continued. "Your are right Hamish has kindly given us the use of
his land for final survival training before the agents are deployed."
"How many are there?" Alison asked as she helped herself to a whisky from the decanter on the table.
"I'm afraid I can't tell you that." X said before countering with a question of her own. "How did you know we were here?"
"You mean other than the agents on his land? If you mean yourself." Alison stood up and stared into X's eyes. "You really must stop wearing perfume it lingers so."
Alison grinned and continued mockingly. "You're not very good at this are you? Since when does a man like the Laired smoke Sobranie cocktail cigarettes. And before you say they were for guests I know the Laired would have put them in a silver cigarette box like the one he offered when we first arrived. He certainly wouldn't offered them from a crumpled packet."
The woman eyes narrowed as she turned a hostile look at her companion.
Without a word the man picked up the packet and lit one of them up.
"Ah!" Alison was so surprised that it was all she could think of saying for a moment. Thankfully Jay wasn't so amazed she had other things on her mind.
"Could they have killed the girl and held on to the other two?" She asked still angry with the three of them."
It was the man who replied. His voice effeminate but dangerous for all that.
"If the girls posed a threat or risk to them of course they Would. It's what they are trained to do." He said proudly.
"Pardon me if I don't share your world view." Alison said with quiet menace. "You've created killing machines which any sane country would lock up, so beware, for you could be their next target."
"We still need to interview them to eliminate them from our inquiry " Jay told them.
"I'm afraid that won't be possible. It would jeopardize their missions." X said lighting the cigarette she had put into her cigarette holder.
"Oh dear that is a shame." Mick had been silent up to now . "I'm afraid I'm going to have to arrest you for impeding a police man in the carrying out of his duty."
"I say hold on Inspector. They said they were government officials. What was I supposed to do?"
"Be quiet Hamish he's bluffing." X said harshly.
"Madam X, the Enforcer and Laired Hamish Campbell you are all under arrest." The three looked shocked as the Inspector read them their rites. Before adding. "By the War Office special legislation I arrest you as spies of a hostile country. You will be held in incommunicado until your claims are investigated."
Mick smiled a cruel smile.
"I don't think we will be in any hurry to interview you. Oh and don't expect the Chief Constable or Whitehall to bail you out because they won't know you are being held. The rumours about you working for the Russians would destroy your careers. What rumours I hear you ask? The ones I start to spread this afternoon."
"Are you going to call them in or not?" Alison asked feeling dirty in their presence.
"If one of our agents prove to have carried out the murder and kidnap of the girls he or she will have proved themselves unsuitable for the task ahead." Madam X said contradicting what she had said earlier.
"Are you going to call them in or not?" Alison snapped.
"It will take time." Madam X replied as she blew smoke rings into the heavily laden air.
"You haven't got time. You have two hours maximum to achieve the target starting from now!" Alison was angry, so angry that for a split second her eyes and Lanterns ring turned red. "No excuses accepted."
She turned to the Inspector.
"Inspector is there a good pub near here. I feel the need to breath clean air?" She asked.
"Yes the Saint and Angel. It's opposite the entrance of the driveway." He turned to face the three of them. "When we return I expect to be here."
With that he lead them outside to his waiting car.
"Does the pub serve food Inspector?" Jay asked. "I'm famished I'm so hungry I could eat a whole Haggis.
What is a Haggis by the way? I can't get a straight answer from anyone."
"It's a furry pig like animal that live up in the highest branches of the evergreens, gliding from tree to tree looking for food." How Mick had kept a straight face Alison didn't know.
"No really I must see one.
The others began to laugh.
"I've made a prize idiot of myself haven't I."
"Just a little Jay, just a little." Alison said wiping away her tears of laughter with her handkerchief.
Chapter Six Ducks and Drakes.
The Saint and Angel was a cosy village pub with a warm interior and clientele.
The Barman produced four ploughman lunches. A concoction of salad leaves, small onions, pickle and large slabs of local cheese with warm freshly baked thick bread slices.
They drank cider which complemented the food nicely.
The conversation came back to the problem at hand.
"I don't think the girl we found was Anne Starns." Alison said. "Did you see the vicars face when we mentioned Anne?"
"Yes and we know he lied. He was out for longer than he said he was this morning."
"Gone to visit Anne you think?"
"Possibly or the other girl." The inspector leant back in his chair and lit a cigarette. And kept a watchful eye on the drive way as he had throughout their meal.
"I think she was going to run away with him but it became impossible because of the other two girls being kidnapped.
The police were everywhere."
"So you think she's safe then? That doesn't explain the two sets of foot prints near the body." Jay asked.
"We assumed they were from two of the girls but I expect one set was Irises. Being nude probably improves the ritual."
"What bothers me is that there are no foot prints created by our adversary. What did he do fly."
Alison and Jay looked at each other a moment.
"How do the old sisters come into this?" Tom said. "Why was she guarding them?"
"They are Wiccan." Alison replied.
"Sorry?" Mick said.
"They are a pair of white witches and how they come to be trapped indoors may have to be put on the back burner." Alison noticed Tom squirm. "Have you more to add Tom?"
"I know the old girls from when they were treating my mum for consumption the year before she died. Lovely old girls, as sharp as a button."
"Which makes me wonder why they put on a show of battiness." Alison mused. "One thing for certain is that they posed a threat to what ever Iris and her lover were up to."
"Do you think that pair will still be at the Lairds?" Jay asked.
"I sincerely doubt it."
"I've seen a military lorry go up the drive to the laird's. " Mick told them. "With any luck that will contain the agents."
"I want to visit that suspected crash site." Jay said.
"Relevance?" Mick asked.
"I don't know but it is where the S.O.E operative said she saw the red faced man. Oh by the way all the huts proved negative. The girls haven't been held in any of them."
"Excuse me for interrupting ." A voice said at her elbow. "There's a phone call for the inspector."
"Thank you Murray. Excuse me ladies."
A few moments later he returned with sober look to his face.
"Bad news?" Alison asked.
"Depends on how you look at it." He took a calming sip of the whisky he had bought himself. "One set of the parents have identified the body. I can't imagine what that must have been like.
It the youngest Mary.
The pathologist agrees that she was bleed to death but thinks she was alive as they opened her up. She died in all probably from the shock of loosing her blood."
"But their wasn't any blood at the crime scene." Jay was confused.
"The majority of the blood must have been taken before she was brought to the alter and opened up." Mick replied.
"Who do we have on our suspect list?" He asked rhetorically.
"The Reverent is unlikely to be involved with the death but he is in the kidnapping of Anne."
"Hardly Inspector. I suspect she went willingly."
"That doesn't matter she's underage as far as the law is concerned."
"We have our three witches, 'Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble' but they have been placed under house arrest by the murderers girlfriend that's assuming the voice the Inspector and I heard in the church was a separate voice and not Iris's."
"The S.O.E. agents?" Jay asked.
"They are capable of doing it but would they go to all that problem with the body when they have had plenty of opportunity to dump it on the moors." Alison paused a moment. "That I hope we will find out this afternoon."
"We seemed to have eliminated everyone." Jay observed. "And we're no further forward."
"'When you have eliminated the possible what is left however unlikely must be the truth.' Sherlock Homes." Alison got to her feet. "Shall we people."
"But they haven't had their two hours yet." Tom said.
"Did you honestly believe I would stick to that when I can unnerve them by being early." Alison said.
Mike laughed before adding.
"A woman after my own heart."
Their arrival at the Lairds early did as they hoped and caused some pandemonium.
The Laired was waiting for them in the drawing room.
"Have your guests left my Lord?" Alison asked.
"Yes but they have allowed you time to interview them. You can use my study."
"Thank you my Lord." She said before turn to the policemen. "How do you want to do this?"
It was Mick naturally who replied.
"Tom, you and Jay interview in the study, Alison will help me here. And remember they have been trained to lie so trust nothing they say."
A few moments later the first interviews began.
Claudette was one of the first to be interviewed by Alison and repeated the information she had already given on the red faced man.
An hour later their task had been completed.
"They are consummate liars." Mick observed. "They lied about everything save about the girls."
"I agree." Jay said.
"I think we can eliminate them from our enquires at least for now."
"They are due to be dropped into France soon so if you have any doubts they must be dealt with now!" Alison told them.
It was at this point the his Lordship returned. and popped his head around the door.
"Ah sorry to interrupt but you've wanted on the phone Inspector."
Ten minutes later Mick returned.
"It was the duty Sergeant." He said without preamble. "Anne has turned up."
"Alive?" Jay asked.
"Alive." Mick confirmed.
"Really? Now that is interesting." Alison looked up at the Inspector. "But that still leaves one to find."
"Tom and I need to go back to the station to interview her. I've got a squad car coming to pick us up."
He threw his car keys to Jay who caught them effortlessly.
"You can use my car but please remember ladies that we drive on the left here."
Jay grinned wickedly at him.
"I'll try to remember Inspector but I've always had trouble knowing my right from my left." She said.
Mick gave her a pain looked and groaned before with a laugh went out to wait for the patrol car.
"Ah, is there something I could get you Ladies?"
"Thank you my Lord but no. Do you mind if we went for a walk around the grounds to clear our heads?" Alison asked.
"No not at all. You'll find the sunken Italian garden an ideal spot for a walk. And the rose garden is in full bloom. The scents are delightful."
"Thank you my Lord."
They were walking through the woodland that held the herd of Red Deer when Jay voiced her concern.
"We've got these abilities, powers, what ever you want to call them so lets use them." Her costume flowed out from her ring to envelope her.
Alison laughed and had her ring create hers.
"Well I'm ready. Where are we going?" Alison said as she hovered above her lover.
"Well we can …, or we could. Oh hell." Jay looked up at her. "I don't know. What is the point if we can't use them."
"We will Jay. We will." Alison sighed as she landed beside Jay. "It's not like the comic books where the villain of the piece advertises his presence so the hero can find him for a final page punch up."
"No I suppose not."
"They're something's we can do, the first is to investigate the crash site." She took off telling Lightning Flash to follow but in a blink of the eye she was ahead.
"I better lead the way otherwise we'll miss it."
"That's fine by me." Darklight replied with a smile.
When they first arrived it was the lack of an impact crater that struck them first.
"Well it didn't explode. If it had the trees and grass would have been burnt." Darklight observed. Lightning Flash stood obviously uneasily by her side. "What's wrong?"
"Will we find ourselves do you think?"
"Why would we?" She replied.
"We died remember bailing out of the burning 'Gunners Daughter'." Lightning Flash shifted uneasily.
"But that was over the Atlantic not Scotland."
"With the compasses playing up how could we be sure?"
"That's not a pleasant thought. I've almost forgotten about dying." Darklight lifted off the ground and hovered in front of her companion. "Shall we?"
"If we must?"
Lightning Flash sped off whilst Dark Light passed her green beam over the pieces scattered around her, and began to piece them together. It was like trying to do a jigsaw with out the picture on the lid and with pieces missing. Almost impossible.
Lightning Flash reappeared a few minutes later.
"Did you find us?"
"Did you find anything useful."
"No just a lot more small pieces of debris. They don't appear to be from the 'Gunners Daughter', their just isn't enough of it."
"I agree look."
Dark Light showed her compatriot what she had managed to reconstruct from the pieces. A Curved wall with tubing along its surface.
"I'm not a aeroplane designer but I don't think it is one of ours. Unless it's a secret project." Dark Light explained.
"What about the red faced man?" Jay asked.
"A villager who took some of the debris in the hope of making a few dollars, sorry pounds?"
"We go back to the Lairds and drive down to the police station and see if we can speak to Anne. She might have seen something and I want to know were she was hiding."
A few minutes later Jay and Alison exited the wood and made their way toward the Lairds stately pile.
Something glinted in the sun catching Jay's eye.
A crack was heard as the shot was fired.
Jay could do nothing more than accelerate Alison forward a few steps out of the way before crumpling to the floor.
The Enforcer grinned a cold eyed smile. It wasn't the one he aimed for but he'd accept the second best.
Moving swiftly Alison lifted Jay up and with her draped over her shoulder managed to get to the relative safety of the porch way.
The Laired must have been watching from the window as he had the door open in a second.
"Quick inside then I'll phone for an ambulance and the police." He said. "It's that fellow from S.O.E. What's he playing at?"
"Making sure their are no witnesses."
"Oh my dear God." Hamish crossed to the phone and tried vainly to get a dialling tone.
"We haven't the time to wait for them to get here. We'll take the Inspectors car."
"Very well. I'll drive. I know the way to the Hospital."
They dived out of the house and quickly got Jay inside the car with the Laired jumping into the front and turning the ignition on.
The explosion literally catapulted the car up into the air and threw it on to its roof in a ball of flame. No one appeared to have got out.
The Enforcer's grin grew. A neat tying up of loose ends. Just the two police officers to deal with now.
A feeble yellow light flowed over the body to reveal the person behind him.
The puppet master who controlled his actions.
A red skinned man with a large cranium stood in a yellow duplicate costume to Dark Light's.
The figure of the Enforcer staggered a little as he made his way over to the car.
"Soon I'll have all the fear I need. This war in Europe will feed me all I desire. Then you better hide Arbin Surr for no one will be able to defeat me. The galaxy will be mine." The man in yellow muttered as he faded out of sight.
The Enforcer looked in the vehicle but no one was intact inside.
Satisfied he limped away into the woodlands.
Chapter Seven No Hiding Place
Being dead once is bad enough but twice seemed to Jay to be gross incompetence.
Jay stretched and felt the pain in her side anew, though she must have admit that it was more a dull ache now.
Do you still feel pain when you're dead.
She opened her eyes and looked up into Alison's worried countenance, which she tried to hide with a smile.
"All right?" Alison asked.
"I haven't the faintest idea. What the hell happened?" She tried to sit up but regretted it as her head swam for a moment.
As she gathered herself she looked around the room. It was one she recognised. It was the drawing room in the manor house.
"I'm afraid the S.O.E. took a dislike of us asking awkward questions. They decided to shorten our existence." Alison was dressed in her Dark Light costume minus the face mask.
Jay was also in costume.
"They shot you!"
"No they didn't." Jay countered.
"Yes they did, it grazed your side." Alison told her.
"Well that explains the sore ribs." Jay head was clearing. "And just to correct you Light they were aiming at you, I just moved you on a pace or two. I would have been successful in getting both of us out of range if I had a millisecond more. But that doesn't explain how I got in here?"
"The ambulance would take to long to get here so we tried to get you into the car." Alison paused a moment. "Well we did get you into the car. I was in the back with you and the Laired was upfront in the drivers seat.
When he turned the ignition key it set off the booby trap. It blew the car on to its roof.
You got me back in here on the 'b' of boom.
You saved my life Jay."
"What about Hamish? Where is our lord of the manor?" Jay said scathingly.
"He didn't make it. When you put me in here you collapsed." Alison explained trying vainly to not get emotional. "I thought you had died on me."
"No, I'm sorry you're stuck with me." A tear ran down Jays cheek. "Sorry Hamish. I actually liked you old boy."
The green light from Alison's ring ran down Jay's body.
"Hey that tickles."
"Did you know that your recovery rate is incredible. The wound has knitted together such there won't even be scar."
"Good. Let's go find him as I've a bellyful of anger that needs venting?" Her voice was full of anger. "Leave the searching to me."
"No Flash and don't even think of arguing." Dark Light lifted off the floor. "I've a trace look?"
A pale green ghostly image of an arrow appeared in front of them.
"Follow that arrow it should lead us straight to them."
"Arrow? I didn't even see the Indians." Flashes eyes were as cold as ice for all she joked.
In moments they were gone.
After they had left the Stranger appeared with Hamish beside him.
"They are becoming formidable." The figure nodded approvingly. "I think the revels tonight will be, shall we say, interesting."
With that he faded away leaving a bemused Hamish behind.
Mick and Tom sat at the desk in the interview room in the police station staring across at the young woman sitting opposite them.
Anne was tall for her age with a serious, calm, look on her face.
Unlike most girls of her age her makeup was subtle and made her look much older than her years.
She wore a white dress with blue flowers on it that was clinched tight in at the waist with a large brown belt that had a large silver buckle.
She wore white gloves and carried a fashionable handbag. She looked more like a movie star going to a film premier than a teenager in a Scottish village.
"Hello Anne." Mick said warmly. "You're not in any trouble."
This wasn't quite true but it didn't help to frighten the girl, at least not yet.
Anne shifted in her seat in an attempt to get comfortable.
"We just need to tie things up, some loose ends. I'm sure you understand."
"Yes." Was the solitary reply.
"Ah good, good." Mick looked down at his notes a moment to gather himself before this strangely cool young woman. "Well can we start at the beginning. Why did you disappear? Your parents have been quite worried."
"No they haven't." The answer was cold and matter of fact. "I needed to get away and clear my head. I have been my parents slave since I was ten and I felt I needed a change.
I am sorry if it has caused you any concern."
"Yes I can understand that but didn't you think of the problems your disappearance would cause. Where did you stay? With a friend?" Mick leaned forward.
"I stayed in the Owls a farm not far from Devils cross."
"Where you alone?" Tom asked.
"None of your business!"
"I am afraid it is my business. You are underage and I have to make sure you weren't coerced. You are beneath the age of consent."
"I am seventeen. It was my birthday yesterday so I think I have the right to live my life with whom I want and where I want." Her voice wasn't raised but somehow it filled that small room.
"Yes you do but two girls have gone missing and we need to eliminate you from our inquiries." Tom said obviously irritated.
"I'm nothing to do with them." She said flatly.
Mick deliberately tried to shake her self control.
"Mary's dead Anne. Some bastard drained her of blood and cut her open when she was alive like a pig and put her still beating organs on a slab. God knows where Lucy is and what her fate may be and we are running out of time.
So don't muck me about Anne. who were you with?"
Other than going pale she appeared to be unruffled.
"No." She took a deep breath and got up to go. "I came here to show you that I'm safe and that there's no need to search for me."
"I haven't give you leave to go yet! This is a murder inquiry not some kindergarten game!" Mick got up. "Sit down and if you are a good girl I'll get you a cup of tea."
Anne glared at him but sat down again before calmly putting a cigarette into a long holder.
A little part of him felt proud of her and her self control as he lit her cigarette.
Mick smiled at her.
"Now that's better." Mick got up and opened the door to reveal a constable waiting in the corridor. "If you've finished day dreaming constable. Miss Starnes could do with a cup of tea and bring a plate of biscuits."
He nodded at Tom to follow him outside.
"What do you make of her?" He asked him.
Tom thought for a moment.
"She's very controlled. Do you think she was involved somehow?" He said.
"No I don't but her lover might be. For all we know he might have Lucy in a gilded cage too." Mick sighed. "I'm going to go back to the Laird's and pick our…"
He fumbled for the correct word.
"Female associates?" Tom offered.
"Yes. Yes I like that. Perhaps our female associates can get through to her. Because I'm dammed if I can and we are running out of time. Keep an eye on her. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Up in the house the Laird took a last look at the burnt crushed car on the drive. He knew he was in the drivers seat but it was a lot to take in. He nodded to himself, turned and walked to the light and in seconds he was gone.
Just then the police car turned up the drive.
Chapter Eight. Follow the Arrow.
"Are you sure this arrow isn't leading us a merry dance." Lightning Flash moaned with all the petulance of a child yelling in the back of the car 'are we their yet'. "We should have caught up with him by now."
"They haven't split up so that's a blessing." Dark Light called down to the racing figure of her friend. "But I get your meaning."
There are times when you should keep your mouth shut and this was one of them.
There was the sound like a series of coughs and bullets flattened themselves against Dark Lights green aura.
"Speak of the devil." Lightning Flash stopped and changed direction on a dollar coin.
As she pounded forward she became aware of the others in the undergrowth and all were aiming at them.
A Tommy gun spewed bullets into her path. Not wishing to push her restorative powers to hard she performed a perfect high jump clearing the bullets with ease.
"Bandits at three and nine O'clock skipper." Her English accent was appalling. "Tally Ho skipper."
"Shut up and shut down those on the left?"
"My left or your left?"
"My left now stop fannying about." Dark light swerved to the right to be met buy concentrated pistol fire.
She willed up a green shield in front of her and a green sword in her right hand as she crashed through the foliage.
She rolled as she hit the ground and blocked an assault with the shield.
The sword flashed cutting off the barrel of a pistol before being reversed to block a knife thrust.
She trapped the assailants hand against her body, rotated throwing her into a bush.
Lightning Flash was having fun too.
She was shuttling backward and forward like a duck at a travelling fairs shooting booth. She was drawing their collective fire while using her great speed to keep out of harms way.
Having pinpointed where the bullets were coming from by the spark of their ignition she went on the offensive.
The first was a young woman who was stripped of her weapons and practically of any thing else before she could react.
The second was a pair of heavily built men.
As she burst though a bush she encountered a solid branch being swung at her. Not having time to stop she dropped onto the floor and slid through his open legs.
She just managed to retain her feet when the other man jumped onto her shoulders and tried to choke her or break her neck whichever was the easiest.
She spun round on the spot at ever increasing speed.
Her assailant tried to keep his hold on her but it was no good as centrifugal force pulled him off and sent him crashing into the bushes.
His partner stood up Sten gun in hand and fire a concentrated flow of bullets straight at her. Well to be more precise at where she had been standing.
Suddenly his feet flew up into the air and he crashed down onto his back, winding him.
It was the action of a few moments for the pair of them to reached the apex of this triangle of assassins where a calm Madam X stood.
"Who are you?" Her voice grated as if she wasn't used to its dynamics.
"Lightning Flash and Dark Light at your service. On second thought not at your service but on law service."
"Flash!" Dark Light yelled a warning as yellow globes fired out of Madam X's raised hand.
Lightening Flash dodged several before one actually hit her. The effect was instantaneous.
She was quite literally paralysed with fear.
Dark Light roared in defiance and created a baseball bat and knocked those aimed at her out of the park. Everyone a home run.
"Who are you?!" Madam X screamed firing a yellow dart at her.
Dark Light swept down and grabbed the woman up off the ground.
Suddenly the body she held went limp.
"Who are you?!" The Enforcer yelled his eye's flat yellow orbs.
Dark Light dropped the woman's limp body to the ground.
Suddenly Lightning Flash was at her side.
"Yes I am now. Anger stops fear. And I am very angry."
Moving out of the wood came the S.O.E. agents their weapons raised.
Dark Light landed and stood her ground, her own anger bubbling inside her.
"You tried to kill the woman I love! You shall pay for that." Her ring flared red and a red fist crashed into the mans stomach.
He staggered a few paces.
"It is not possible. I would have heard." He said countering with a yellow fist of his own.
Dark Lights ring flared with an icy blue light that pierced the yellow fist and pinned the man against the wall.
"No!" The Enforcer screamed. "There are only three Full Spectrum Lanterns."
"Well you have just met the fourth." Dark Light called with great joy.
She knew what she was now and what her destiny would be.
"No not yet. Kill them!" With that he collapsed to the floor.
The S.O.E. operatives suddenly with jerky movements raised their weapons and took aim. They were surrounded.
"Flash to me."
"You've got it Light."
As the guns fired their tattoo of death the two women huddled beneath Dark Lights green protective dome. Flashes of bright light showed where the bullets struck temporally blinding them.
Then just as suddenly as it had started it finished.
The two women hesitated so their eyes could recover from the flashing lights.
On the ground all around them laid the S.O.E. agents stunned and drained.
After a quick check that they were alright did they notice someone was missing. Madam X was missing.
"What happen there Light?"
"We had our heads handed to us on a plate." Dark Lights beam bathed the area but nothing appeared.
"Arrow time again?" Lightning Flash asked.
"No, not this time. There was to much energy used. It's fogged out the signal."
"If whoever it was didn't know we were coming why was this all set up?"
Dark Light looked at the road that could just be seen the other side of the bushes.
"They were set up for Mick and Tom." She realised.
"Don't be daft Light. They wouldn't know they would be using that road."
"It's the only road that leads up to the Lairds. Look."
Mick at the wheel of the patrol car sped passed oblivious to the danger they had only just managed to advert.
"Flash we've got to get back there before he arrives."
"What about this lot?" Lightning Flash asked.
"We'll take them with us and lock them away in the Lairds."
A green scoop affair lifted all of the dazed S.O.E operatives and then encased them in a sphere.
"We're running out of time?" Dark Light yelled.
"Grab on and don't let go."
In a split second they were gone.
The Enforcer, hidden in the undergrowth lifted his head and grinned, his eyes dull yellow.
Chapter Nine Lies and the Ladies.
As Mick turned into the houses drive way, his heart sank like a stone. He could see the smouldering car on its roof.
Warily he pulled up by the door only to see with relief the two women gesticulating that he should rapidly join them inside the property.
"What's happened?" He asked as he was bundled into the study.
"The S.O.E. decided they didn't like our questions. They booby trapped the car. We had been shot at. Hamish decided to try and get us down to you and safety. He turned the ignition and it exploded. He didn't stand a chance." A tear ran down Jay's cheek as she continued huskily. "He was a brave man Mike, he shouldn't have died."
"No he shouldn't have. I'll report this to the Chief Constable and he can have a word with the powers that be." He squeezed Jay's shoulder gently. "Are you alright?"
"Let's get you down to the Police Station for safety." He said. "You stay here while I turn the car round just in case there are more people with guns."
"The Laird had most of them in here waiting to be sent on their missions. Only Madam X and the Enforcer were left outside somewhere." Alison told him as they hurried to the door. "But we go for the car together."
"I want them caught and punished for what the did to poor Hamish."
"As you said Jay he was a brave man."
They were soon in the car being driven fast but controlled down to Beltane.
"I'm glad you turned up when you did Mick, but why where you coming?" Alison asked as he screeched around a tight bend.
"We've been questioning Anne without much success and I was hoping…" He left the sentence dangling.
"That we would have a word in her ear?"
"Yes we will but afterward I suggest we bring all what we have found out together and try and make sense of it all."
"Has she had her tea and biscuits?" Mick asked Tom as he strode down the passageway.
"And I take it that she hasn't been any more forthcoming?"
"No. She just repeats that who she was with is none of our business!"
"Well perhaps she's right and it isn't." Jay offered.
"She's is , sorry, was underage when she ran off so that does make it our problem." Mick told them. "She's in there. Do you want me to come in with you?"
"No, we'll manage, won't we Jay?" She grinned at her partner.
"On yes absolutely." Jay replied with a puzzled frown.
Anne sat calmly at the desk finishing another cigarette.
"Hello Anne. I'm Captain Alison Scott and this is Lieutenant Jay Garrick, we are helping with this inquiry." Alison smiled at here before gently continuing. "This must be a bit frightening. What you had hope would be a simple pop in and say hello has escalated into something more."
If Anne was frightened she didn't show it. Alison admired her control.
"It must have been hard caring for your parents and doing school work?"
"What do you know about that, besides that is the past."
Alison had hit a nerve.
"Didn't they appreciate what you were doing for them?"
Anne snorted in derision.
"All I got was yelled at for not doing things properly. They watched me all the time, criticizing." Anne moaned. "I had no time for myself no matter other people."
"It must have been wonderful when you found someone who would listen."
Jay said nothing watching the girls reaction.
"Yes it was."
"He didn't see you as your parents carer but as a person. It must have been intoxicating."
Anne nodded her eyes showing her pain as she tried not to cry.
"When he offered to run off with you it must have been like a dream come true. But how was he too manage to get you away and disguised? To get you fine clothes?" Alison said sadly. "Then the old organ player retired from playing at the services. This was too good an opportunity to miss. So you came to the Church to practice. A perfect place to try on the clothes he bought for you. Your disguise."
"He was going to be replaced soon by the returning Vicar and then you would leave together to turn up at the next parish as husband and wife." Jay said softly. "But he didn't count on the Vicar having to stay in London to settle his sister in a home."
"Yes. We are going to leave here and get married before he moves to a more permanent parish." Tears ran rivulets down her cheek. "He really loves me?"
"I know he does. It was his idea to come to the station wasn't it?"
Anne nodded before standing up to go.
"Now you know can I go please?"
Alison looked at Anne in admiration at how she had become a grown woman. Then she saw it, the telltale bump.
"How long?" She asked.
"Sorry?" Anne replied.
"How long have you been pregnant?"
Anne's hand went instinctually to her swelling stomach.
"Two months as far we can make it." Anne dropped her head in shame. "It was an accident. It was the only time we made love."
"And that was why you had to go into hiding. If the vicar had come back as scheduled it wouldn't have mattered. You would have left with none the wiser." Alison eyes shone with compassion. "But there was no way you could have hidden your condition and questions would be asked. So when the other two girls disappeared it was a simple matter for you to disappear too. The vicar would leave for his new post with no one aware of your condition."
"Are you going to tell the Inspector?" She said fearfully.
"As you've already stated it's none of his business." Alison replied.
"Skipper!" Jay warned.
"Are your bags packed?" Alison asked.
"Yes mostly." Anne was puzzled.
"I'm going to try to convince the Inspector to let you off with a warning, a caution for wasting police time. I can't promise anything." Alison took the girl shoulders and looked deeply into her eyes. "I'm giving you a chance, don't waste it, be happy."
She signalled for Jay to follow her but paused at the door. "Anne do me a favour and pack up smoking. Jay and I were recorders for the autopsies being carried out by the coroner back in America while waiting to be posted to our unit. A man had died of syphilis and the autopsy was carried out. When the coroner removed the lungs he showed them to us. The were black with tar and hard and inflexible. I don't want to see anything like that again."
Once outside a fierce sotto voiced argument took place between the two of them.
"That was wrong Al and you know it. For god sake she is only seventeen!"
"Are you saying we didn't know our own mind at her age Jay?"
"That was different an you know it."
"Okay we didn't run off with a boy we ran of with an aeroplane but the outcome is still the same. We still ran away."
"She's been raped Al. In this country it doesn't matter if she entered into it willingly it is still considered rape because she was underage."
"Don't you think I don't know that! Why do you think I promised not to say anything?" She took a deep breath. "He adores her and she him. If it got out what they had done he would be at best defrocked, at worse imprisoned. She would be put in a home for unmarried mothers and probably made to give up her child. This way at least they would have a chance."
Jay hissed as she sucked air through her gritted teeth.
"All right I'll back you this time but let it be logged that I'm not happy, not happy at all."
The two women entered the inspectors office with an air of concord between them.
"Well?" Mick asked as he sipped another mug of tea.
"She was most forth coming." Alison told him.
Mick just raised an eyebrow.
"She and our stand in vicar were going to run away together. Well the two of them were going to leave separately but meet up at a set place as Mr and Mrs Vicar, ready for him to take over his new parish.
But with the original vicar staying down in London longer all their plans went out the window. Anne couldn't return to her families house but when the other two went missing it seemed a perfect opportunity for her to do the same."
"He's not a dirty old man ." Jay added. "He's only in his middle twenties himself."
"He's been a perfect gent it seems." Alison said as she went into a more detailed explanation of what had occurred.
"Hah what a mess." Mick rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Technically its kidnap because of her age but as you say it won't help the situation."
"Come on Mick they are just two lovers who got it wrong." Alison pleaded.
"Alright. Tom with me as I read out the riot act to our guest. Ill put the fear of God up her before letting her off with a caution. Who knows we may have time to pay our vicar a visit."
Alison let out a sigh of relief.
Ten minutes later a very chasten Anne exited the interview room. She paused by the women.
"Thank you." She whispered before carrying on out of the police station to be greeted by her lover rushing in too get her.
Alison watched from the office window.
"Good Luck." She whispered.
"They are going to need it." Jay added not unkindly.
"We all do Jay."
"Well what have we got Ladies?" Mick asked a little later when the settled down together.
"We can eliminate the vicar from our inquires and poor Hamish." Alison said. "The S.O.E. may want us dead but their methods are straight forward. Basically they knife or shoot you."
"Or blow you up." Mick reminded her.
"Yes, I've a personal score to settle their."
Jay was about to say about the S.O.E. leaders possession but Alison trod on her foot in warning.
"Then we have the red faced man. A survivor of the crash or a local pillaging what he can find?" Alison suddenly sat upright. "I know where the girl is being kept. It's obvious."
"Not to me its not." Jay said grumpily.
"It's the church in Sabat. Mick did the forensic department investigate the church as a whole?" Alison asked.
"No I don't think so. I'll check."
"Tom do you know who the church elders are?"
"You mean the church warden and such?" Tom answered.
"Well my dad's one of the Wardens but he spends most of the time a St Jude's in Beltane. He should be in the pub." He said consulting his watch. "I'll give him a ring to find out."
As soon as he left Alison sealed the door with a blast of green energy.
"Why didn't you tell them about the yellow energy from the S.O.E. ?"
Jay asked angrily.
"Because they wouldn't understand it. I'm not sure I do. But there is someone who might." Dark Light stood before her friend and lifted her ring skyward. "Albin Surr can you hear me? Albin Surr can you hear me?"
The green flickering shape of the Lantern faded into view.
" Yes Lantern 361 stroke 129. What do you need?" The alien replied.
"Sadly that is not possible as I am many light years from you." The translucent figure smiled. "Tell me what troubles you and I will try to guide you."
"Fine but first I have some questions for you." Alison tried to look heroic in her costume which resulted in Jay's low whistle and a comment of.
"Nice stomach muscles."
"When you were fighting that spaceship thing. The day we died and you rebuilt us."
"Yes what about it? Are you suffering side effects?" Albin asked concerned.
"Your opponent, for want of a better word, did he die?"
"Yes he was volatilised with the ship." The Lantern was obviously concerned as to where this conversation was going. "Why do you ask?"
"Because we have found some sort of escape ship on the moors."
"That is not possible. The total ship was reduced to its atoms."
"Well the craft exists. Look I have a piece of it here." Lightning Flash withdrew the opaque disc from the wreckage out of her pouch and showed the shadow image.
The Lantern hissed through his teeth.
"Do I take it that the disc has something to do with your target? He wouldn't be a red skinned man would he?"
"Sinestro! So he still lives. But without fear he is no problem." The figure scratched its chin.
"Who is Sinestro?" Jay asked.
"Sinestro is a fallen Lantern. A Yellow Lantern.
The Yellow Lanterns energy is tied up with the emotion of fear. What you have in your hand there is the lens to his power battery, his yellow lantern.
Without it he can not recharge the ring."
"Are you sure he can't recharge his ring without it?"
"Only with a huge influx of fear."
"Like that that is found in a war?" Jay asked.
"Well yes but that would be spread over a large area and be too dilute. He would need to be close to a large group or over a dimensional rift."
"That is why the villages and the airfield have such strange names. It's a subconscious link to the rift." Jay's face paled. "A black mass with a human sacrifice could be all he needs to break the rift open."
"Albin. I'm sending you all that has happened to us for your analysis." Alison touched her ring to her forehead and watched as a pail tendril snaked to the phantoms head.
"What had Sinestro done that was so bad?" Jay asked.
"He became addicted to the rings power. He needed the fears rush as a drunk needs another drink." He paused as if embarrassed. "He conquered a planet and had them fight each other so he could augment the ring energy. When it was reported to us we, to our shame, ignored it. Sinestro was a hero to us so that we couldn't believe what it was said he was doing. When we did we acted as a whole to destroy him." Albin nodded. "There is no doubt Sinestro has survived. Do not try and apprehend him he is to powerful even depleted as he is.
I can not reach you in time. I have sent alerts to the nearest League Lanterns to your co-ordinates. they should be with you in two days time."
"That will be to late. The mass is going to be tonight I just know it is." Alison observed.
"Whatever you do don't listen to what he says. I know to my cost how believable he is." The image wobbled. "Good luck Lanterns. I look forward to hearing of your success."
The two women looked at each other in horror as their costumes faded away and the door unlocked.
The two men entered. Both had serious expressions on their faces.
"Forensic didn't investigate the whole church." Mick said grimly.
But Toms words were more frightening.
"I've tried to contact my dad but he isn't answering." Tom's brow was wrinkled in thought. "It's odd I couldn't get in contact with any of the villagers that I know either."
"What is the time?" Alison asked.
"Eight O'clock why?"
"They're going to the black mass at the church. It's where they have held the girls. Well one of them at least."
"We would have found them surely?" Mick said.
"They couldn't keep her in the Shepherd's warming huts as they were before because of the S.O.E. agents. So they took the remaining girl to the church and hid her inside a crypt. Drugged probably."
"How can you be so sure?" Mick asked.
"Well when we were in the church I remember seeing a curl of yellow incense being sucked down into a tomb. I didn't think much about it at the time but now I know the reason. The tomb was open to the outside and caused a suction draft." She explained. "It was down that bolt hole that our culprit fled not through the half door."
"Well that explains where they were but not where they are now." Tom added.
"He thinks he has fooled us and where can he build up the most fear. Where else but the church."
"Right I'll get the troops ready and we will pay a little visit." He turned to the two women and with a concerned look told them. "You don't know how much you have helped us in this but you'll must leave it to us know. It may get violent."
"While you are getting what officers you can I'll drive the ladies back to the camp." Tom offered.
Much to Jays surprise Alison didn't argue. In fact she said little at all, all the way back.
Once back in their Nissan hut that changed.
Alison stood resplendent in her Dark Light costume the lamp tattoo on her arm growing in size until it was hanging in the air before her.
"In the darkest day and the brightest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware the power of my Lanterns spectral light!"
Energy cracked through the rings contact with the lamp as she spoke the oath.
Jay watched he lover with a sad feeling of loss before weaving her own costume from her rings light.
They were ready for the battle to come, stomachs churning in fear but their faces set with resolve.
Alison suddenly smiled.
"Shall we gate crash the party?" She asked with a laugh in her voice.
"Yes why not." Jay replied.
They kissed each other tenderly.
With that they were gone.
Chapter Ten Lord is my Shepherd.
Mick snorted his breath steaming in the cold evening air.
He had asked for extra police men but he wasn't believed that was for certain. All they gave him were three local uniformed officers.
That made their total five unarmed officers.
They were hidden behind the trees and tomb stones watching the local parishioners filter in to the churchy in ever increasing numbers.
"That's my Dad and the bar staff. What the hell do they think they are doing?" Tom exclaimed through gritted teeth.
"Come to the Sabbath for Satan's there." Mick chanted.
When there was a gap Mick signalled them forward to the half door. Carefully as possible he pulled open the door and led them through.
Eerily the congregation sat silently in their pews their eyes fixed on the alter stone and the naked shape that was draped there. The last of the girls lay there with a soporific smile on her drugged features.
Like a curtain being drawn aside the mummified corps of the funeral director twitched into pseudo life.
"Brethren welcome?" The creature called. The puppeteer making the head move as if surveying the crowd. "Tonight will be the fulfilment of our destiny."
They watchers sighed as one.
Yellow vapour poured out of a tomb and began to coalesce into the form of a slim red skinned man. He wore a Lanterns one piece but his was bright yellow and black.
His head was domed and covered with fine jet black hair that formed a widows peak on his forehead.
He smiled warmly at the gathered crowd before him.
"Welcome one, welcome all." His voice was rich and full with compelling tones. "Tonight you will reach your destiny. Tonight we will pierce the veil and call forth a demon that will destroy the evil warmongers. It will strike fear into their hearts."
A cloaked figure entered carrying a ceremonial knife as two young boys swung smoking censures in front and behind him.
The congregation began a low haunting chant.
Two white robed women entered with a bowl of steaming water and began to wash the girls breasts and chest.
The girl giggled as it tickled her.
The feeling in the church was changing as fear began to take hold.
As Sinestro hung there a Lantern began to form beside him it's case battered and cracked. The front lens was missing.
Yellow tendrils formed at the crowds heads and streamed into the lamp which spluttered and sparked.
The light in the church began to dim and pulse.
Sinestro hovered in the air as the Lantern absorbed their fear.
Down at the alter the High priestess began a vile sounding litany as she raised his knife high in the air ready to plunge it into the girls breast.
"Call him. Call his name!"
The knife arrowed down and cut the girl from throat to crutch in one motion.
She didn't scream but giggled instead.
The watchers, full of fear, called a name, a name that struck terror to their hearts.
"Soon my children your ultimate weapon will be here and with it we will bring the Nazi realm to its knees." Sinestro bellowed. "But there are traitors in our midst. Bring them forth?"
Struggling Mick and Tom were dragged into the main church by the local constables.
Tom's dad left his place in the pews and crossed to his son. He looked at his boy full of fear for his child.
"Get them to release me dad? We can sort it all out dad I know we can."
Tom was silenced by a back hander from his father.
Blood dribbled from a split lip as he and Mick were tied to the lectern.
Sinestro's lamp was repairing itself bathing him in yellow light.
He turned and placed his ring against it's newly formed lens.
"In the Brightest day and Blackest night
Fear burns in the hearts of those who praise evils might
From fear you call to me to do what's right.
Fear my lanterns yellow light."
He had barely finished his oath when with a loud crack the rift open up revealing a massive misshapen hand trying to claw its way through. It hung their like an oily patch hovering in the air.
"Beast of the dark realms come and feast."
The High Priestess turned to the girls body now soaked with blood to prepare the organs for the creature to eat.
But she met a dome of energy that wouldn't allow her to proceed.
"I'm afraid I can't let you do that." Dark Light said as she lifted up to face Sinestro.
The wound in the girls body closed up and the spilt blood flowed back inside her.
"Do not interfere!" Sinestro called as with widening eyes he recognised her. "Who are you!"
"I am Lantern 361 stroke 129 of this sector called Dark Light."
"I wish you would stop saying that. It could give a girl a serious feeling of inadequacy." A bolt of pure green energy slammed into Sinestro but it had no effect.
"Didn't they tell you that your green rings light is powerless against yellow light."
"Ah thank you for telling me. It's a good job I have other colours." Dark Light allowed the anger she felt over what he had done to the girls to bubble forth. A red glowing fist appeared and exploded toward the Yellow Lantern, knocking him for six.
He recovered rapidly to send a fist of his own.
"Don't you know who I am? I can crush you like a flea."
"Really? Well all I can say is that you must have had weak opponents." A shimmering red shield blocked the yellow fist.
"Flash get the people out of here." Dark Light yelled to her compatriot.
"On my way Light."
Lightning Flash dashed forward to move those nearest to her out of the way only to get a form of electric shock that bowled her over.
"There is no need for us to fight Lantern." Sinestro gave a strangely compelling smile. "Dark Light, we both want to end this war, this endless bloodshed, and the creature there is our weapon to do this." He pointed at the scaly creature squatting in the entrance of the rift. "It's a creature from the dark dimensions. Together we can control it."
"How will it defeat the enemy and end the war. By assassinating Hitler, Hirohito?" Sweat poured down Dark Lights face as she fought against Sinestro's hypnotic personality.
"Remember who you are girl!" A voice yelled from the Ladies chapel. "His words are lies sent to ensnare you. Remember the one you love, feel it!"
Dark Light looked down at Lightning Flash below her and the love for her poured through her system. Feelings of sadness, of jealousy, anger and love filled her.
"Take him!" She yelled to her friend as she fired a rainbow group of darts at him.
But she was a split second too late as Sinestro's beam of light thudded into her. Driving her into the ceiling.
The beast lifted itself up and roared blood thirsty defiance.
Lightning Flash was a whirling pinwheel blur of legs and arms as she leapt up at the enemy. She grabbed Sinestro's foot and began spinning him round like a Catherine wheel. Faster and faster, breaking his concentration.
As Dark Light pulled herself off the ceiling she spied a figure trying to get Lightning Flash into his sights.
The Enforcer suddenly changed his tactics and grabbed a child from the front pew and held his pistol at her head.
"Stop or I will kill the girl!" He yelled unaware of the monstrosity closing the distance between them.
Lightning Flash suddenly appeared in front of him.
"Ah you so want to take the fun out of things."
Behind her Sinestro was still spinning. Out of the blur two yellow lines of force buried themselves into the churches very fabric acting as brakes to his spin.
"What did he offer you I wonder?" Dark Light mused. "Power perhaps. No? Then what?"
"He promised me the greatest weapons so I could rid this world of laws and foster the only true freedom, that of pure anarchy." His laugh sounded totally unhinged. "A world that lives by the rule of the survival of the fittest."
"He hasn't promised you weapons only death. You are to be his beasts body." Dark Light called pointing behind him.
He couldn't help himself he had to turn and look.
The creature roared in his face as he began to pump bullet after bullet into its flesh.
It grabbed his head and pulled the skin apart and entered him as he screamed in agony and fear. It was putting on his body as easily as you would put on a suit of clothes.
The yellow filaments of the groups fear poured into Sinestro.
"Do worry about the beast child we can deal with it." Agnes said as she lead Bella and a group of white robed witches into the main part of the church.
They encircled the Enforcer and began to chant.
The words were meaningless to Lightning Flashes ears but not to the creatures. It screamed in agony.
"No!" Sinestro yelled at the women and fired a bolt of fear at them.
Dark Light was quick and surrounded the women with a red shield of anger.
The rings light crashed together with percussive force.
The high priestess tried once again to cut open the girl but to know avail as the flashing form of Lightning Flash upended her. As the magister climbed to her feet she ripped of the mask to show the face of who was underneath.
"Stop it you don't know what you are doing!" Martha Brown screamed the mask hanging from her hand. "He must eat or he will kill us all. Once he has eaten we can converse with him, control him."
"You are an idiot Molly Brown!" Agnes yelled. "You always were and always will be."
Molly pulled off her glove to reveal her once bandaged right hand. It was a black sinewy claw with bloodied nails.
Molly pointed it at the circle of witches cackling.
"I have made the bargain." She yelled as hell fire poured forth toward the women. "With him I can at last bring Crowley's world to life. A world together to ravage the stars. A new British Empire to replace the one the mealy mouthed politicians and diplomat's threw away."
The flame's licked and flowed over Dark lights dome like it was a living entity.
"You can't protect them all girl." Sinestro said sadly. "You may be a Full Spectrum Lantern but you have had no training on how to use your power. I could teach you"
Dark Light head swam from the effort of trying to control everything.
He was right her powers were immense but she didn't know how to use them effectively.
Could she trust him? Would he give himself up to her?
She looked down sadly at Agnes and the other women. She removed her dome.
Agnes nodded her understanding.
A beam of black light from Dark Light hit Molly Brown dropping her as if she was a sack of potatoes.
Agnes turned to the monster hiding in the Enforcers body and raised her hands toward him.
"Avant! Avant! Return to the infernal depths you have no place here."
The creature laughed at her.
"Can you not feel the fear in here? Are you afraid of me?" It growled at her.
"Yes I'm afraid of you but that wont stop me from doing what is right.".
Suddenly a gun shot was heard and the creature staggered from its impact.
Madam X walked forward firing round after round into the hybrids body.
The creature dropped to its knees shivering.
"You lied to me creature you told me that I alone would have that power." She screamed at it.
A hand grenade rolled to a stop in front of it only for it to be covered with a red shimmering light. It's explosive force was absorbed by the light.
"So glad you could make it." Dark Light quipped.
"You want this power then you shall have it." The creature regained its feet and charged straight at her.
She screamed but it was to no avail. The creature carelessly broke her neck and threw her lifeless body into the rafters.
Dark Light saw an opportunity and took it.
A rainbow of light made up a gigantic hand that picked it up and threw it into the gateway of the rift. There it landed spread eagled in the gateways field like an insect caught on fly paper.
Distracted she didn't see the yellow light beams until the last minute. They sailed passed her right ear.
"You appear to have missed." She said.
"I never miss." Sinestro replied.
Yellow hands had pulled the wooden cross of the wall and was now swinging it at the back of her head.
Closer and closer it came with such force her skull would split open like an egg shell on contact.
There was a blur of motion and the hands passed by her ears empty.
"We may be new at this super hero game but never underestimate us."
Lightning Flash stopped in her mad rush and held the pilfered cross up for Sinestro to see.
"I have friends and they make me strong. You haven't any friends have you? You drove them all away long ago." Dark Light mocked.
Suddenly the terrified congregation began disappearing from sight.
Dark Light smiled.
"Can you not feel the happy voices here?" Dark Light said. "The weddings, Christenings, Christmas Carols been carried out here. The joy and love that has etched its way into the walls, the sainted devotion."
"I see nothing but a child playing for time." Sinestro used his light beam to throw the not inconsiderable weight of the upright piano at her.
A beam of pure blue light cut it in two. Each half spun round straight at Sinestro who barely avoided their impact.
"The fear is going now fading like the snow in the coming of the rains."
The witches had forced the creature in the Enforcers body back further into the portal.
Dark Light swung round in front of the creature.
"Did you really think you could control the creature?" She asked as she watched him wearily.
"I had no intension in controlling the creature. It was merely a means to an end." Sinestro told her. "My power battery was damaged when the Green Lantern Legion tried to apprehend me high up in your atmosphere.
The woman found me and revived me but I needed fear to repair my Battery and myself. She wanted power, the dark power.
She kidnapped the two girls. The first she sacrificed gave me enough energy to begin to repair both myself and the battery.
And the rest is history."
He flicked discs of yellow power at Dark Light only to see the image of her fade away.
The disc's of energy smashed into the creature pushing it back through the portal. Screaming it was forced out of its hosts body. The Enforcer's body dropped to the ground quite dead.
Its hands clawed at the opening a moment before being sucked in.
The rift slammed shut and the exhausted witches slumped to the floor.
Sinestro put his ring against his Lantern and began his oath.
Lightning Flash rushed at him but hit an invisible barrier and bounced off.
Getting back up she felt something sticking in her ribs. Carefully she removed the yellow lens from her pouch and weighed it in her hand. Then performing a perfect discus movement at amazing speed she launched it at Sinestro's lamp, his power battery.
Spinning near to the speed of light it contact the yellow battery and sliced it open like an over ripe plum.
Yellow light rayed out everywhere. Dark Light and Lightning Flash crouched beneath a Blue dome.
Dark Light felt round and found Lightning Flashes hand and took it into her own. She squeezed it and received a reassuring squeeze in return.
She looked at her and felt all the love she had for her partner course through her body. Gently they kissed and rested their temples on each other.
With fresh resolve they stood up and faced their enemy.
Sinestro was screaming as the unfiltered light from the broken Lantern peeled back the skin off the right side of his face.
In compassion Dark Light surrounded Sinestro with a globe of rainbow colours that spun rapidly around him from the damaged batteries light impacting with it.
Then with a massive flare of light it volatilised and was gone.
Sinestro slumped down in the globe, defeated and reduced not by anger, fear or will power but by love.
The strongest power of all.
"Albin Surr?" She called. "Can you hear me?"
The Green image of the Lantern shimmered into life.
"We are approaching as fast as we can Lantern 361 stroke 129 " His alien face showed his concern. "Two Lanterns are approaching and will be with you tomorrow. They are Giliwog and Tomas Rea. Whatever you do don't engage him before they arrive."
"It's a bit late to tell us that Albin." Dark Light pointed at the helpless Sinestro.
"You have done well Lantern 361 stroke…" He paused. "You have done well Dark Light and Lightning Flash."
The two women returned his smile.
"I'm sending to your ring the co-ordinates to send him too to be picked up by Giliwog."
The image began to fade.
Lightning Flash undid the ropes that tied the two police men to the lectern.
"Can any one explain what the hell has happened here?" Mick moaned as he got to his feet.
"I think I can if you wish to hear it?" The ghostly figure of the Stranger form up before them. "Sinestro needed fear to repair his power battery. Injured he was found by Iris who foolishly fell in love with him.
It was she who kidnapped the girls and acted as prison warder to the white witches ring leaders She knew that they would have the power to oppose the opening of the rift.
The S.O.E operatives were a bonus that he moulded to his need's.
He used the old coven to open the rift relying on the appearance of the demon to induce the fear he needed to repair his battery but your attacks kept draining him." He explained.
"Yes all right I can follow that but who are you?" Dark Light asked as she sent the scintillating globe out through the church doors and rapidly into the darkening sky.
She followed the man outside where the village folk were shaking their heads and drifted away.
"They will have no memory of what happened today." He explained. "Only you four and the white witches will remember. And that is how it should be."
"You still haven't told us who you are?"
"Some call me Gabriel but most call me the Phantom Stranger." With that he faded away.
Chapter Eleven The Epilog.
The "Gunners Daughter" sat at the end of the air strip waiting for clearance to leave.
Ahead of them the completely black Liberator started to roll taking the S.O.E. agents to their destiny.
Jay didn't envy them.
The aftermath of the events in the church had become a anticlimax.
Mick and Tom were commended for their part in capturing the girls murderer, a rogue S.O.E. agent code named The Enforcer, who had died in a shoot out.
The residents of the villages carried on their day to day lives as if nothing had ever happened.
The vicar and Anne quietly left the area to start a new life together at a new parish in Cornwall.
The fog had lifted on the East Coast of Britain allowing them to leave.
The Stranger had left one extra item in their Nissan hut, an address of a brown stone house in New Amsterdam. The headquarters of the Mystery Men and Women, the headquarters of 'Justice'.
They got the green light and the 'Gunners Daughter' slowly gained speed.
The pilots worked their magic and the Flying Fortress took off and disappeared into the cold clear night taking with it the latest members of that select group.
Dark Light and Lightning Flash.
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