The Hawk slammed his fist down on the oak table, causing the elegant glassware to shake. “Doctor Death was my best friend! He died at the hands of Mister Scarlet, and I want revenge. That’s the name of this little tea circle of yours, isn’t it, Hood?” he shouted.
The Horned Hood smiled behind his silk mask and said in a poised manner, “I like your loyalty. I admire your determination. By my word, sir, you do us all proud.”
The blue-suited Hawk frowned. “I just want to kill Mister Scarlet! Do I have your backing?”
“Dear boy, go to it,” said the Hood. “You know where to find me if you need backing. Doctor Death must be avenged. I’d have done it myself if you had not spoken up so passionately!”
Hawk stalked off, leaving Hood alone with the silent Weeper.
“My, my, such devotion,” he began. “It makes me…”
“It makes you want to cry! We all know the line by now!” said a cool blonde in a red evening gown that showed considerable leg and spiked high heels. She reclined on the table and whispered, “Leave the drama to a real actress! I need to be alone with the Hood!” Her blonde locks fell over one eye, and her cool, icy blue stare left Weeper feeling disconcerted.
“Yes, well, dear me, Angel. I must be going.”
When he had left, the sultry woman called Dark Angel rolled over on her back and raised one leg seductively before sitting up and announcing, “I have won Mister Scarlet’s trust and the Crimson Kid’s affection as Debbie Robinson, alias Lady Scarlet. Now, after I tear them apart emotionally, I’ll kill them both, as we agreed. Don’t worry about that insipid Hawk; I’ll pluck his feathers if he interferes with my plan!”
“My Angel, how ruthless you are!” said the Horned Hood. “I love that about you!”
Dark Angel walked off, swaying in an alluring manner. She whirled to say, “Do take care of Spy Smasher, won’t you? After all, his promised death is why I’m taking care of the men in red, you know?”
The Horned Hood nodded. “One of us is on it even as we speak.” The Hood watched her leave and then removed his mask. Perspiration beaded his face. “What a woman! She may frighten even me!”
Rob Butler was crushed. He had been waiting eagerly for the publication of his first collection of short stories by the McGarland Company, according to letters he had received after a submission weeks ago. His spirits had soared when the letter of acceptance arrived.
Now, after eagerly awaiting the next step in his literary career, he had received a letter of rejection. The company had chosen to drop their fiction line in favor of non-fiction and were thus cancelling all contracts, an option they had always possessed, according to the fine print.
Rob was dejected. He could not even bring himself to go out as the Crimson Kid. He sulked at home while his adoptive father Brian Butler, alias Mister Scarlet, and his new friend and love interest Debbie Robinson, alias Lady Scarlet, patrolled the city. He now looked up as Debbie entered the otherwise empty study. Her long mane of red curls cascaded down to her revealing red bodysuit, which left both arms and legs bare.
“Hi there, lover. What’s got you so down in the mouth? The book?” she said as she caressed his face and sat in his lap.
“Yeah, that cursed book,” he said. “It’s all I can think about. I was so close!”
“Let me give you something else to think about until you do make it as the next Wolfe!” she purred, and they kissed.
Much later, she slinked off, leaving Rob feeling blissfully forgetful about the book project.
Now alone, Lady Scarlet made a phone call to the wealthy Horned Hood.
“You followed my lead wonderfully by having your little publishing company lead Robby on, then jerk his dreams out from under him,” she said. “He’s emotional and vulnerable and all little Angel’s, though he thinks I’m the perky and adorable Debbie Robinson!”
The Horned Hood smiled back in his manor. “Glad to help, Angel. Glad to help.”
She hung up and swayed off, leaving a suddenly entering Wainwright to frown. “That doll is no good!” said the brilliant but eccentric, fat, bald butler and aide to Mister Scarlet, under his breath. “I never t’ought she was the real goods. But I gots no proof! Still, I’ll keep my eyes glommed on that babe until I can expose her like!”
Meanwhile, Mister Scarlet himself was fighting for his life against a gang that had hit the city. He smiled as the old rush of adventure came back to him. He leaped over a charging masked thug and kicked his partner in the teeth. “That’ll cost you a bundle. Hope you have prison dental insurance!” he said.
The masked gang called the Purple Guard were new to his town and had no idea what to make of the acrobatic and swashbuckling man in red. He saw one reach for a gun and dropped his red mist pellet. It blinded the thug long enough for Mister Scarlet to slug him into a stunned state.
The remaining two ran, only to find the hero swinging up and over their heads. He landed in their path and kneed one to the pavement, while stylishly spinning around to kick the last one in the face.
“Guess you boys don’t watch Martha Stewart; she would have told you purple and scarlet clash!” he joked.
“Didn’t know you were a Martha Stewart fan, either,” said an amused voice behind the hero.
Mister Scarlet turned with a grin to see his old friend, Police Commissioner Lou Garde. “Lou! You know what a crafty guy I am when I’m not fighting the undersea hordes of Shakra Khan!” he joked.
“Good to see you, pal,” said the police commissioner. “Where’s Rob tonight?” he added with a whisper. Lou Garde had long known his friend’s secret identity and had, in fact, filled in as Mister Scarlet once or twice when his buddy’s identity was in jeopardy.
“Home,” said Brian Butler.
“I hope he’s well,” said Garde. “Little Melanie still has that crush on him.”
“He’s fine. How is your little ballerina these days?” asked Brian.
“She’s fine. Won a national production role! Even scored top marks at her gifted and talented program. Loves the computer, too!” said the proud parent of a little girl.
The friends exchanged small talk until a police radio blared out the news; a costumed felon called the Hawk just was spotted around city hall.
“The Hawk! He’s an foe of Minute Man’s!” said Mister Scarlet.
“Guess he’s branching out,” said Lou Garde.
Back home, Mister Scarlet turned to his adopted son and said, “The Hawk hit town tonight! Do you want to help track him down?”
“Sure! Let me call Debbie!” said Rob.
“How is she? We brought down the Blackjack Gang last week, but I haven’t seen Lady S since then,” said Mister Scarlet.
“She’s dynamite, like always!” said the beaming Rob. He suited up quickly and tried to avoid the subject of the beautiful Lady Scarlet, since Debbie had insisted that Rob keep their romance a secret from his dad.
“He’s accepted me as a partner in crime-fighting, and I’d hate to spoil that right now by adding the complication of potential daughter-in-law to my roles,” she had explained.
Rob had hated to hide anything from his mentor, but he understood Debbie’s cute little ways and wouldn’t challenge her point of view.
The team walked into their lab, where the skilled Wainwright sat gazing at a computer screen. “This bird, Hawk, is named Godfrey Bun,” said the fat man. “Sounds like a real swell ta me! He can fly for real. I mean, it’s not a costume gimmick!”
“Can’t you fix it so we can fly, too?” teased Brian Butler.
“Hey, I can give ya chicken wings and a beak if ya gives me the budget and the time to work!” said Wainwright.
“That’s not necessary,” said Mister Scarlet.
“Hawk is a bank robber, not a world-beater!” said the Crimson Kid. “We can clip his wings!”
“Still, you might need a lady’s touch!” purred Lady Scarlet as she entered the lab.
Wainwright cleared his throat, “Hmmmmph!” and stalked out.
“Something I said?” asked Lady Scarlet.
“Just Wainwright’s old-school ‘woman-hater’ attitude. Do not take it personally. I doubt he even liked his own mother!” laughed Rob.
The threesome headed out into the city in the Scarlet Speedster, their souped-up van. Mister Scarlet drove intently as Lady Scarlet and the Crimson Kid scanned the skies.
“Wainwright says Hawk has claws as part of his costume, but his flying ability is inborn,” said the Crimson Kid.
“What do you suppose his motive in coming here is?” asked Lady Scarlet, looking annoyed. “Has he committed a crime as yet?” If that loser messes up my careful plan, I’ll kill him! she thought grimly.
“I guess he has done nothing yet. He’s just wanted for past crimes,” said Mister Scarlet.
“Look, there he is!” shouted Rob.
They pulled over, and Mister Scarlet jumped out just behind the faster Crimson Kid. The Kid saw the blue-costumed Hawk overhead and fired a weird, gun-like device at him. A net exploded outward as it made contact with the air. It snared the Hawk, who growled in anger.
“Well, if he’s that big, what will we tell people about the one that got away?” teased Rob.
“Tell them to rest in peace with you all!” shouted the Hawk as his claws tore the net apart. He slammed into the Crimson Kid in spite of the young man’s agility. They tussled, and then a savage rake of the claws left Rob blinded as blood poured into his eyes.
The Kid released a mist pellet, but the Hawk merely carted him upward away from the sticky mist. They soared higher, and the fierce Hawk beat the smaller man across the face.
The Crimson Kid said, “This is where I get off, you two-bit canary!” He twisted free and flipped agilely to land on his feet, before sitting down hard.
“Easy, lad!” said Mister Scarlet checking on him while the quick Lady Scarlet climbed on the van’s roof and whirled her glaive, a broadsword. It sliced across the Hawk’s arm, and he cursed and fled in pain.
“I’ll be back for you, Mister Scarlet. You’ll pay for killing Doctor Death! I’ll make you pay in blood,” shouted the maddened Hawk.
Lady Scarlet frowned and snuggled against Mister Scarlet. “Oh, Brian! I killed that terrible man in self-defense, so I am the one Hawk should really be after! What have I done to you all?” she cried.
He patted her back and said, “Never you mind, Deb. It was an accident, and if the Hawk blames me, then all the better, since I want to bring him down for that attack on Crimson Kid.”
She nodded, and Crimson Kid smiled ruefully. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry. Guess we should have brought Lady Cat with us instead,” he joked.
They laughed and headed home as Lady Scarlet planned intently.
That night, the sultry redhead removed her mop of red curls to reveal her glistening blonde locks. She slipped into a red gown and high heels and made a call.
“Hood, we need to talk. It’s about that foolish Hawk. May I rid myself of him to serve the greater good… or evil?” she cooed in a breathy voice. “Excellent!” she said to his reply. “I’ll make Hawk serve my purpose!”
Police Commissioner Lou Garde had done his best as a single parent since his wife’s death. His daughter Melanie did the cooking after school and ballet and gymnastics classes. She was a pretty blonde around fourteen years old. He enjoyed her delight in all new experiences, and he was happy that his dangerous lifestyle did not upset her unduly. It was his security about his girl that allowed him to accept the call that arrived one night from Lady Scarlet.
“Lou, this is Lady Scarlet, Brian needs your help. Can you suit up and meet Crimson Kid and me at the warehouse district tonight? He needs to be seen as Brian at a public function, and the Crone has threatened to expose his secret!”
Lou smiled. “That’s no problem. The Crone is out again, huh? She surely does refuse to give up trying to prove Brian is you-know-who!”
He hung up and put on the old extra Mister Scarlet costume Brian had given him years ago. It might be fun to play hero once more.
It might be fatal if Lady Scarlet had her way.
It was with great satisfaction that the Hawk received word from the Horned Hood that Mister Scarlet would be at the warehouse district alone that night. He waited for the hero high in the shadowy recesses of the old warehouse on the waterfront.
“I’ll wipe that smug look off his face and make him pay for killing Doctor Death!” mused the brooding Hawk. “He was my best friend, and I’ll be loyal to his memory and his desire for revenge by offing the murdering Mister Scarlet!”
Soon he saw Mister Scarlet and waited tensely for him to walk to the end of the pier. Then, with claws shining in the moonlight, the Hawk swept down and plunged them into Scarlet’s back. He screamed and struggled, and the Hawk pressed down harder as his victim tried to turn. The Hawk kneed his back and bent down with the raking claws in a silent rage. Finally, Mister Scarlet collapsed and breathed his last.
Justice at last! thought the Hawk as he ripped the red hood off the body and flew off with it as a gristly reminder.
The dead body was that of the ill-fated Lou Garde, just as Dark Angel had planned all along.