Doctor Occult whispered an incantation and held up the Symbol of the Seven. A beam of sunlight burst forth and bathed the werewolf that lay writhing in agony before him. The sun’s light overpowered the moon’s hold over the creature, and it quickly reverted back to human form. At Professor Raleigh’s command, thousands of fleas began hopping from the unconscious man.
“Have we found him yet?” the Hood asked as he slid the pistol that he had dubbed Red Bee after its creator into its holster.
Abigail Standish stepped forward and looked at the body. Her shoulders sagged a bit as she shook her head. “No, this isn’t him, either.”
Detective Walker ran his hand through his hair. “The scent seemed so strong this time. I was almost certain this was him.”
“Don’t be too upset,” Occult told him. “This just means that King has obviously had fairly close contact with this gentleman recently.”
“Yeah, Tracker,” the Hood told him, “if it hadn’t been for you, we wouldn’t be as close to finding him as we are.”
Brian turned and looked at the Hood. “What did you call me?”
T.J. Dalton pulled his hood back and grinned. “Tracker. I figured that you needed a codename, since we were in the field.”
“And you decided on Tracker.”
“Well, we could call you Manhunter,” T.J. said.
“What about Ghost Detective?”
Occult gave T.J. a funny look. “I believe that name is taken.”
“Come on, Doc. How often do you go by that name?”
Brian held his hands up to silence his friend. “Let’s stick with ‘Tracker’ for now.”
“Excuse me for interrupting,” Professor Raleigh said, “but shouldn’t we get our prisoner back to the Torpedo before he wakes up?”
Doctor Occult produced two pairs of silver manacles. Tracker rolled the man over and secured his hands behind his back, while the Hood snapped the second pair of manacle around the man’s ankles.
“All secure,” Tracker said.
“Good,” Occult replied. “Let’s get back to the Torpedo.
Kelli Lockhart crawled out from under one of the Red Torpedo’s consoles and wiped her hands on a handkerchief. She walked over and plopped down in the pilot’s seat. After flipping a switch marked Aux. Pwr., she reached over and pushed a button marked Sensors. A small screen flickered to life, only to display static.
“Shoot,” Kelli said as she stood up and walked over to where her toolbox sat. “The problem must be external.”
After sorting through her tools and grabbing only what she needed, Kelli opened the hatch and climbed out. Making her way to the front of the hybrid sub, she began to loosen a panel so she could check the wiring.
“I knew it,” she said triumphantly. “Here’s the culprit.”
Grasping a loose wire with her fingers, she asked it, “Do you know how aggravating you are?”
Kelli took care of the minor repair, unaware that an intruder had climbed through the Torpedo’s open hatch. She was retightening the panel as her companions approached.
“Still no luck, huh?” She wiped her hands off and put a comforting arm around Abigail. “Don’t worry, we’ll find him.”
Abigail gave her a weak smile. “I know, dear.”
Kelli looked at the burden T.J and Brian were carrying. “I guess this means we’ve got another ‘passenger’?” She looked at Occult. “You realize that the old Torpedo would have never been able to hold all of us.”
Occult smiled. “I know. You’ve done an excellent job improving on your grandfather’s designs.”
“The boys have our guest secured,” Professor Raleigh said as he approached Doctor Occult and the two women.
Before anyone could respond, they heard a scream and turned to see Brian lying on the ground, holding his head. T.J. was at his side, trying to calm him down.
“Brian,” Occult said as he rushed to the man’s side, “what’s wrong?”
“The… pain…” was all the detective could say.
“Focus on my voice,” the older man told him. When Brian didn’t reply, he continued. “Picture the river. Brian, listen to me. Can you see the river?”
“You can still control it,” Occult reassured him. “Picture a dam between you and the flood. Can you hear me, Brian? Focus on what I have told you.”
The others gathered around, anxious to see if their friend was going to be all right.
After a couple of moments, Brian sat up, although he still was holding his head. Occult laid his hand on the detective’s shoulder.
“How do you feel?”
Brian looked up. “Doc, have you ever been kicked in the head by a mule?”
The older man smiled. “I can’t say that I have.”
Brian struggled to stand. “Neither have I, but I have a pretty good idea what it might feel like.”
T.J. took his friend by the arm to help steady him. “What happened?”
“He’s here,” Brian said, “and he’s fighting to regain control of himself.”
Professor Raleigh began to look around. “Define here.”
“He’s in the area.”
“Everyone keep a sharp eye out,” Doctor Occult told them.
Kelli headed for the hatch. “I’ll do a sweep of the perimeter with the sensors,” she told them. “Hopefully.”
The others spread out and began to search the area. A scream from inside the Torpedo brought everyone running. The Hood was the first one aboard. A mental command activated his chemically treated costume, and he faded from view.
Inside the Torpedo, Kelli turned and found herself face to face with a gray-muzzled werewolf. Instinctively, she screamed. Slowly, she backed away, only to feel the high-backed pilot’s seat pressing against her back.
The creature began to advance, then stopped and spun around. As it sniffed the air, the Hood slowly materialized. With the grace of a professional gunslinger, he drew the Red Bee and fired.
The werewolf staggered back and growled.
The Hood took a step back. “OK, I’m out of ideas.”
“Shoot it again,” Kelli told him.
“In case you missed it,” Hood replied as he took another step back, “that really didn’t seem to impress it the first time I shot it.”
Kelli gave him a please, for me look, so Hood fired again.
With a savage howl, the creature leaped at the Hood — and was hit by a blast of pure sunlight focused through the Symbol of the Seven. An aged, unconscious man fell into Hood’s arms.
Abigail pushed past Doctor Occult and rushed to the old man’s side. “It’s him,” she cried. “It’s King.”
As tears of joy streamed down the old woman’s face, Kelli tapped a button on the console, and a section of the wall opened to reveal a cot. Occult thanked her.
“Hood, you and… Tracker put King on the cot,” he told the two men.
Gently, the two men did as they were told.
“Yes, Richard?” responded as he turned to Professor Raleigh.
“I was wondering what we are going to do with King, and the gentlemen we have secured, when they wake up? Won’t they still be werewolves?”
“I have thought about that,” Occult said. “If we can keep them sedated, it will give me a chance to find a way to cure them.”
“I guess I got here just in time, then,” came a voice from just outside the open hatch.
Everyone turned to see a costumed figure entering the Torpedo. “Boy, this sure brings back memories,” Hourman said as he looked around. “Evening, gentlemen… and ladies.”
“Oh, wow,” was all the Hood could say.
“Hourman,” Occult said as he extended his hand, “it’s been a while.”
The man in yellow and black turned to Kelli. “You must be the one responsible for this… flying sub.”
“We call it the Red Torpedo, after my grandfather.”
Hourman cocked his head slightly. “I didn’t know he… never mind. I knew him only very briefly, Jim would be very proud of what you’ve done with his designs.” He turned to the Hood.
“I didn’t think the Invisible Hood had any family, so who might you be, young man?”
T.J. pulled his hood back. “I’m T.J. Dalton, sir. Glad to meet you.”
“Tom’s grandson?” Hourman asked.
The hero next turned to Brian. “And whose legacy might you be carrying on?”
“No one’s. I’m just here to help.” He shook the hero’s hand. “I’m Detective Brian Walker.”
Hourman turned to Abigail. “So you’re the Witch.”
“Guilty, as charged,” she smiled. “You look pretty good, considering your age.”
Hourman flashed her a grin. “Byproduct of our line of work. So, this is King,” he said looking at the man asleep on the cot. “Funny, he’s not what I expected.”
“He gets that a lot,” Abigail laughed.
The man of the hour turned to see Richard Raleigh waiting patiently. The professor held out his hand.
The smile left Hourman’s face as he took Richard’s hand in his. “You don’t know how long I have dreaded this moment,” he said.
“Excuse me,” Professor Raleigh said.
“I am so sorry,” Hourman told him. “If I could have just broken free a few seconds earlier, Blitzkrieg wouldn’t have… your dad wouldn’t… I’m so sorry.”
Richard was silent for several moments. “My father was a hero,” he said at length. “If he hadn’t done what he did, Blitzkrieg would have probably murdered all of you.”
“All these years, I have been afraid you hated me. I couldn’t bear the thought of facing you.”
Richard placed his hand on the hero’s shoulder. “For the longest time, I did hate you. I hated all heroes, for that matter. Then I found out, from a very trustworthy source, how much my father was respected. Now, I’m just glad his life meant something, and he died for what he believed in.”
Hourman embraced the son of his fallen comrade. “Despite my shame, the Red Bee has always been my personal hero.”
After a moment, the two men stepped back.
Doctor Occult spoke. “So, how did you know we would be here?”
“Ah, yes,” Hourman said, suddenly remembering the reason he was here. “You can thank Doctor Fate for that. And for this,” he added as he pulled a book from beneath his cloak.
Occult took the book and flipped through it. “This is a book of arcane incantations.”
“He said there was something in there that would remove the taint of the wolf from those you encountered.”
“But how did he know…?” Doctor Occult began.
“He said that the Symbol of the Seven has a rather unique energy signature,” Hourman said, answering the partially asked question. “He put two and two together and figured that you had the werewolf situation under control.”
Doctor Occult smiled at Abigail. “I think I found what Fate was talking about. Your husband should be right as rain in no time.”
“How can we thank you?” the Hood asked.
Hourman looked around the Torpedo. “Well, it’s a long way home, and I could use a ride.”