The now-awake Mister Scarlet found himself bound securely in a speeding van with the pseudo-dead men sitting silently around him.
“His partner is his first concern, but I see that the good Mister Scarlet is awake once more. You can’t fool a doctor!” said the mad Doctor Death.
“What have you done with Pinky?” he demanded.
“I put him to death! I shall do the same to you as well, though in a more entertaining manner,” said Doctor Death.
“You fiend! I’ll make you pay if you’ve harmed that boy!” said an angry Mister Scarlet.
“Ah, I’ve made Mister Scarlet see red!” quipped the mad doctor. “Ah, but of course, humor is wasted on the walking dead,” he muttered.
Ordering his gang to carry the hero out of the van when it stopped, he smiled and laughed as the prison walls loomed above. “You, my costumed friend, are what we in the mad scientist/super-villain game call a ‘distraction,'” he said. “I’ll drop you bound and helpless into the midst of the cons at play, and in the ensuing bloodbath, I’ll break out about a couple dozen of the best — or do I mean… the worst!”
Mister Scarlet struggled to free his hands, but to no avail. The tools hidden in his gloves were of no use to him while his arms were so completely restricted. The thugs lifted him up and heaved him over the wall as others circled the side entrance and forced their way in by stunned guards. As he cleared the wall, Scarlet rolled into a ball and reduced the impact by tumbling forward as acrobats would do in the circus. I guess fighting the Black Clown so often paid off, he mused as he continued his roll.
The felons in the yard ignored the yelling guards to stay back, and soon, gunfire and screams rang out as they recognized the red costume and began to pound the hated man who had put many of them away.
He could do little to stop them at first, but each blow and kick tore loose a little of the cords that bound him until he could finally break free with a supreme effort as he remembered his lost son. He tore into the cons with a brutal effort for once. He kicked, clawed, and punched his way past them to waiting desperate guards.
“Mister Scarlet, I couldn’t believe it was you!” said a youthful guard. “My dad used to talk about you. The way you fought free proved he never exaggerated!”
“Thanks, son. Now do your best to stop the breakout around the side. This little stunt is meant as a ruse.” Mister Scarlet ran as he talked. Every aching muscle slowed him down, but he kept moving until he saw the vans leaving with newly freed cons.
“I’ll find you, Doctor Death… and though it may mean the end of Mister Scarlet, I’ll make you pay,” he vowed grimly.
Meanwhile, back at Doctor Death’s lab, the Crimson Kid was fighting to get his numb fingers around any tool from his belt or gloves. But Rob Butler’s hands were too cold to grip anything, and he failed. The three pseudo-dead men remaining behind watched him impassively.
Then a crash rang out as a beautiful figure dropped something through the skylight. It hit in the middle of the threesome and exploded a sticky goo over them. The dynamic Lady Scarlet soon followed her projectile.
“Stuck on me, huh, boys?” she teased as she landed perfectly on her high-heeled boots.
The men were unhurt, but the goo held them fast. Their struggles were in vain for now. Lady Scarlet moved like a crimson blur as she tossed the glaive through the tank and sent the icy water cascading out. She sliced Rob’s bonds and tossed him across her shapely back.
Rubbing warmth back into his hands, she asked, “Are you hurt?” She then pulled off his mask before he could react. “Hey, you’re cute!” she said as she gave him a drink from a flask.
“Can’t s-s-s-stop shivering! Give me back my mask,” said Rob.
The gorgeous redhead shook her head, and the mane of tiny red curls bobbed up and down. “Typical mystery-man! Saved from death by a lovely woman in a skimpy suit, and all he can think about is his mask,” she teased as she led him out.
A thug finally broke free of the goo, only to be kicked in the face repeatedly by the agile Lady Scarlet. When the kicks failed to stop him, she shrugged and just tied him up with a deft toss of a weighted rope. “I like my men silent and tied up,” she said with a sultry look.
Rob smiled, and they ran out into the night.
“Where’s your boss?” she asked.
“He’s… I don’t know! Doctor Death took him,” said a concerned Rob.
“Give me a ride in that van of yours, and we’ll track him down,” said Lady Scarlet.
“How?” said the Crimson Kid.
“Oh, I have my ways — a woman’s secrets, you know,” she said with a defiant toss of that magnificient red mane.
The pair raced through the city until Lady Scarlet directed the now name-asserting Crimson Kid to the outskirts of the city where a warehouse loomed on the docks.
“I can tell Doctor D is in there,” said Lady Scarlet.
“How do you know? Or is that some feminine wile I can’t understand?” said Rob.
“Not at all. I slipped a tracer on Mister Scarlet,” she explained coyly. “It seemed the best way to find you all and the real action.”
“I can’t believe… you did… how?” sputtered Rob.
“Take it easy, Rob. I might as well call you Rob, since we’re being so open,” she said.
“You followed us home!” he said, astonished. “No one has ever done that! You are good.”
“I am also honest,” she said. “I am Debbie Robinson from Meadowview, Virginia. I was a gymnast wannabe who failed to make the nationals, and sought diversion in a life of adventure. You and Brian will understand that you two were my heroes. I just copied you. So… can I join up with you?” she asked, petting his arm.
“I… I don’t know how to answer that. Mister Scarlet will need to know all this,” he said.
They parked and slipped up to the windows, where the red-costumed Mister Scarlet was in view. He was battling a group of thugs; they were fresh from jail and had not undergone the pseudo process yet.
“He’s OK!” rejoiced Rob.
“After you, Pi — Crimson Kid,” said Lady Scarlet. He grinned as she called him by his newly preferred name. They crashed into the room and sailed into the gang.
“Pinky!” yelled a happy Mister Scarlet as his adopted son appeared. “I tracked them here from the prison he broke into with some ease. Our pal’s special skills served us well.”
I guess he means Wainwright tracked the gang of escapees with his computerized radar system. He never fails, thought the Crimson Kid.
“Nice to see you, Lady Scarlet,” said Brian Butler as he saw the sexy gangbuster sent a grown man crashing to the floor with one punch.
“I hope you’ll be seeing much more of me,” she said.
The Crimson Kid remained silent and charged a group of the thugs. Their loud cries signalled that they, too, were still normal. He rocketed into them, and the entire group reeled backward in a pile. He pounded left and right, then emerged smiling and ready for more action.
“Good job!” cried Mister Scarlet as he leaped over the head of a mobster and dropped down to elbow him in the back of the head. He kicked a second one down and swung upward on a hastily tossed rope. Swinging across the room, he scanned the scene for Doctor Death. No sign of him or the pseudo-dead men was found. Guess that snake slipped out with his experiments, he thought.
Lady Scarlet gave a high kick that sent a thug through a table, while the admiring Crimson Kid flipped into two more.
“You are Olympic level,” cooed Lady Scarlet.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” he said.
They rounded up the gang and searched the place for any clue to where the mad doctor could have gone.
“Nothing! I do hope we can find him again,” said Lady Scarlet.
“I assume you mean like you found me, Debbie,” said Mister Scarlet.
“You knew about the bug? And you know my name?” she gasped.
“Our associate Wainwright found it after I admit I let it get by me,” he explained. “You had already traced us home, so I figured I’d do a check on you. Computer records did much of the job, as did hotel reservations in town for the last few weeks. You only appeared recently, so it wasn’t hard to match newcomers with your age, size, talents…”
“I am sorry about the bug, but I wanted to be a part of your world — to fight crime, to help people. Is that so wrong?” she cooed.
“No. I accept your apology, and your background checks out. If you want to team with us from time to time, you’ll be welcome,” said Brian with a smile.
“Great! She saved my life, too,” said Rob.
The heroes gathered at the Butler manor, and the plain-speaking Wainwright sniffed with disdain at the idea that they had actually invited the “doll” to join them.
“She slickered ya! That’s all ya can say. She slickered ya,” he said.
“She is very resourceful,” added Mister Scarlet. “Now, about Doctor Death, do you have any leads?”
Wainwright smiled his odd, broken-toothed grin. “I got that rat! I know his old habits, and I know more about him than he knows. He thought I was a pug… and I was! But there’s more to me than can be seen on the outsides. I nebber forgets a name or nothin’! It’s that photogramic mem’ry!”
“The Doc used ‘C. Arrion’ as an alias. Get it? Carrion! I traces him with the computer, and bing, bang, boom: here is an address he owns under that phoney moniker,” said the bald fat man.
“You are amazing! If Rob gives up the name Pinky, you can start using it,” joked Brian.
“I t’ink I’d rather not,” he replied. “My old neighbors would razz me somethin’ fierce with that kind of flashy handle.”
Elsewhere, in the house’s left wing where the laboratory and computers were set up, Rob was admiring the acrobatic skill of Lady Scarlet. She is spectacular! I wonder how old she is? he mused.
“Penny for your thoughts, sailor?” she teased.
“Oh, I was just wondering if you’d like to go out sometime… as Debbie, I mean,” he stammered.
“Oh, Robby! How sweet! Sure,” she replied. “But not ’til I get used to being with my idols. I wouldn’t want to embarrass you.”
“Sure!” he said.
At that point, Mister Scarlet rushed inside. “Well, Miss Robinson, how do you like our little headquarters?”
“It’s wonderful!” she gushed.
“We’ve got an address for the infamous Doctor Death,” announced Brian.
“Wainwright?” asked Rob.
“Did you even doubt it?” said his father.
“He must be a real genius,” said Lady Scarlet.
“He’s one of a kind.”
They drove off in the Scarlet Speedster and soon pulled up near a rundown old hotel.
“I bet you can’t get room service in this dump,” joked the Crimson Kid.
“I’d say it’s been written off as condemned or closed down for years,” said Mister Scarlet. “No doubt it appealed to our foe to hide out there.”
“Why here especially?” asked Lady Scarlet.
“It used to be the site of a charity ward clinic in the nineteenth century. It’s kind of a medical tie-in,” explained Brian Butler.
“Do you own that, too?” teased Rob.
“No comment,” he said as they climbed the sides with their ropes.
“Let’s try one of Wainwright’s gimmicks,” said Rob. He placed a flat sphere against the roof and operated a receiver.
“Soon I shall have Mister Scarlet and his partner where I want them. I will wring the neck of that tramp who helped them, too!” cackled Doctor Death from below.
“It’s a speaker. How wonderful,” said Lady Scarlet.
“You’re good with the bugs yourself,” said Mister Scarlet with a sardonic smile.
“The lair of Doctor Death is in front of us! How do we deal with those pseudo-dead men of his?” asked the Crimson Kid.
“I have a little something designed to deal with them. I modified our mist to be a narcotic; it will knock them cold. They may resist physical pain, but they do breathe,” answered a confident Mister Scarlet.
Lady Scarlet watched them silently.
“Now!” ordered Brian Butler as he tossed a grenade-shaped object into the building. He and his allies had donned small gas masks that protected them from the red gas.
To his pleasure, the drug did stun the remaining pseudo-corpses, but not the ever-clever Doctor Death himself.
“Curse you all!” he cried as they charged into the room. “I am ready for you!” he announced.
He’s immune to all known drugs! I should have recalled that from the ’40s, thought the Crimson Kid as he kicked out at the villain.
Doctor Death rolled away and fired a gun at the young man. It hit him in the chest, and he fell to the floor. “Paralysis ray!” announced the laughing Doctor Death. “Now back off, or I’ll slit his throat with my scalpel!” he declared.
Mister Scarlet ordered Lady Scarlet back, and she reluctantly agreed. “Don’t hurt him! We’ll obey your orders,” he assured the mad doctor.
“Fine! Then kill each other!” he commanded. “Or at least fight!”
He knows I won’t kill, even for Rob, mused Mister Scarlet as he turned to face Lady Scarlet.
The woman was agile. She arched up and over the hero to land near the Doctor, and she tossed a glove that disarmed him.
Mister Scarlet winced at how close it had passed to Rob. He tackled the now-unarmed Doctor Death and pummelled him rapidly. “I can fight you, too!” he declared.
Lady Scarlet checked on Crimson Kid and assured his father that he would be all right eventually.
“I’ll still win!” vowed Doctor Death as he sliced at the masked man with his razor.
The cut went too deep to be laughed off, and Mister Scarlet assumed it was drugged. He slammed his foe into the floor with renewed vigor before passing out.
The now-beaten Doctor Death cried out in defeat as Lady Scarlet kicked him in the face. “What did you do to him?” she demanded.
“A certain death awaits him unless you release me,” he crowed.
“No deals. I’ll just kill you if you don’t cure him. First sign of revival, and you’re safe. If not…” she said as she jerked him to his feet.
“You mean it, don’t you?” he said, fearfully. “This will revive the fool, but don’t harm me!” pleaded Doctor Death as Lady Scarlet grimly menaced him. He gave her a needle, and she administered the dose.
To her relief, Mister Scarlet did blink immediately and begin to softly sigh. “Now, as for you–!” she said.
“Wait! I know you! Help me! The Hood said we were to work as a team,” he pleaded as he recognized Lady Scarlet up close.
“I work as he directed me, too. I gain Scarlet’s trust and then demoralize him before murdering him and the boy,” said the Lady in an odd, breathy voice. “Can’t risk that you might spoil things. Sorry, but you were always intended by the Horned Hood to serve as a way for me to gain Scarlet’s trust. You did well, for what it’s worth,” she whispered before slicing the madman’s throat.
“What happened?” muttered a waking Mister Scarlet.
“He tried to kill you! I struggled with him, and his knife went back too quickly. I’m so sorry,” she said tearfully. “I never meant to kill him. It was an accident and self-defense!” cried the lovely woman.
“You saved us both, and you’ve earned our trust,” said Mister Scarlet. “I know Doctor Death was a brilliant man, but he was evil, deadly, and remorseless. His death was a result of his madness. All he had to do was surrender to you. Don’t let it grieve you.”
The Crimson Kid, now free from the ray, said, “You are wonderful! We’d like you to join us officially. Right, Dad?”
Mister Scarlet smiled. “Yes. Debbie, will you join our little team?”
The deadly Lady Scarlet, who was secretly the blonde Dark Angel beneath her wig, smiled. “I’d love to join a team. The benefits are obvious…”