The Crimson Scorpion Strike! Part 14

By Shane Migliavacca

The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 14 Jupiter Rising

The White Knight’s finger tensed over the trigger. Breathing heavy under his white mask.

“Easy.” Rocky stepped in front of the trigger happy Knight. “Jupiter wants them breathing…For now.” He smiled.

The man backed down. “All right. I think it’s a mistake though.”

Rocky glared at the Crimson Scorpion. “After what they pulled with my family. They’ll get what’s coming to ‘em.” He pointed his gun at the Scorpion. “Let’s get going.”

With a wounded Misa on her arm and the tight confines of the basement there wasn’t much the Crimson Scorpion could do. So, surrounded by the three White Knights, they followed Rocky Burke into the wine cellar. Walking past rows of large kegs on stands.

“During Prohibition you couldn’t just have your booze out in the open.” He stood in front of the rear wall of the wine cellar. Pushing on one of the stones set in the wall. The wall popped open with grinding whine.

“I almost forgot.” Rocky grinned. “Check our new buddy. See what he’s packing.”

Two of the White Knights roughly frisked the Crimson Scorpion. Taking the automatics, rope dart and knife.

“What’s with you two? Your little friend here had enough weapons on her for a stinking platoon.” Rocky said.

“I believe in coming well prepared.” Scorpion quipped.

They walked down a narrow, dimly lit passageway. Big cobwebs covered the majority of the low hanging ceiling. Forcing the group to duck from time to time. Small stones and fragments from the cracked walls crunched underfoot.

There was a way out of this. The Crimson Scorpion thought. They were both weaponless, yet they still had their wits about them. Taking them to see Jupiter might be a bit of stupid luck. It was more then she’d hoped to accomplish this night. There had to be a way to capitalize on this. Something she hadn’t thought of.

The passageway ended in a large wood door. Rocky pushed it open. The door creaked as it opened. The room was lit by candles. A ornate wood table sat at it’s center. The Jaguar club logo etched into it’s polished surface. At it’s far end sat Jupiter. His hands held in front of his face. Looking as if he was in deep prayer.

“Boss. We got ‘em.” Rocky said proudly.

Jupiter seemed to snap out of a trance. “I see that. Good work. My faith in you has been rewarded at every turn.”

Jupiter stood. Slowly walking towards them. Candle light reflecting off his metal mask. He stopped a few feet away. The Crimson Scorpion had to resist the urge to lunge forward. If only she had a weapon.

Next to her, Misa’s breath was audible. A raspy hiss. Her bloodied face was ashen. A ugly bruise on her cheek. The Scorpion turned back to Jupiter. To linger on her wounded friend’s face invited despair. To play this game, she needed to keep her composure together. There was a way out of this. She just needed to think.

“At last. Here we stand.” Jupiter nodded. “The mysterious Crimson Scorpion in the flesh.” His metal face-mask betrayed no emotion. “I’ve considered many ends for dealing with you when we finally met. It would be a shame to outright kill you.”

“Perhaps you should.” Hissed the Scorpion. “Because I wouldn’t hesitate.”

He chuckled. “So single-minded. I admire that.” He walked away, standing next to Rocky. Patting him on the shoulder. “Young Mr. Burke on the other hand, he’d like retribution for the grief you caused his family.”

Rocky smiled in approval.

“I’m of a mind to let him.” Jupiter continued. “Yet, I feel we’re of the same mind. You and I. Your no simple thug. You have a mission I sense. Much like me.” He rubbed his gloved hands together. “Join us.”

Rocky swore under his breath. Shaking his head. “Let me cut him down.”

“Let’s hear his answer first.” Jupiter cut him off.

“We’re nothing alike.” The Crimson Scorpion shot back. “You want to run the mobs in Starlight. I want to wipe them out. There’s no room for crime of any kind.”

“I feared as much.” Jupiter sighed. Nodding regretfully. “Still, I’m curious. Just who is this champion of justice.”

He directed one of his men to remove the Crimson Scorpion’s hat and mask. Before her could do so, the Scorpion stopped him with a gesture of her hand.

“I’ll do it myself.” The Scorpion said. “If that’s okay by you.”

Jupiter nodded. “Fine. I can respect that.”

The man backed off as the Crimson Scorpion took off their hat and mask. Revealing a wild mop of black hair. A long jagged scar running down the right cheek. Ending at the pencil thin black mustache covering the upper lip.

“I don’t know you.” Jupiter studied the Scorpion’s face. “I thought I would.”

She hoped her disguise held up to his scrutiny. The dim candle light of the room aiding in hiding any flaws. “You shouldn’t. I’m nobody. A boogeyman.”

This made Jupiter chuckle grimly behind his mask. There was something in that laugh. Though the mask did a good job of camouflaging his voice. There was something about that sad laugh all too familiar. Something she’d heard before. Someplace else.

Jupiter’s attention turned to Misa. “And who is this?”

“His little spy. Caught her following me. She’s quite a fighter.” Rocky informed him.

Jupiter looked over the injured Misa. She could feel her friend tense beside her. Her ragged breathing intensified.

“You.” Jupiter said. His voice sounded excited. “I know you.”

The Crimson Scorpion took a deep breath. Where could he have seen Misa before?

He shook a finger at Misa. “Where do I know you from?” He paced back and forth, thinking.

Misa, who’d been leaning on her the whole time, began to probe the Crimson Scorpion’s inside coat pocket. She knew then what her friend was looking for. A hidden pocket. Why hadn’t she thought of that? The pocket where she kept one of the young ninja’s smoke bombs.

Jupiter stopped pacing. “No matter. I’m sure it will come to me at sometime when it does me no good.” He reached inside his jacket. “So what am I to do with the both of you?” He held up Diamond Bill’s famous coin. “Shall I let the fates decide?”

“Go ahead.” The Crimson Scorpion said. “I’m curious. Why the Jaguar Club? Why here?”

This brought another chuckle from Jupiter’s lips. “You think I’m going to tell you anything?” He shook his head. “Let’s get this over with. Heads you die. Tails you die.”

“Your very fair.” The Scorpion mocked.

“I wish it could be otherwise.” Jupiter said. He flips the coin into the air.

“Now.” The Crimson Scorpion ordered.

As the coin turned in the air, Misa threw the smoke bomb down. It exploded with a pop. Black smoke quickly engulfing the men.

Confusion followed. The Scorpion dragged Misa back towards the door. Keeping low as somebody’s gun barked in the darkness. Another followed it. Jupiter called out in the smoke ordering his men to stand down.

The Scorpion and Misa retreated. Trying to make it to the door before the black smoke reached the door. Her eyes flew over the wall. Looking for the button for the door. Finding a stone, a little lighter colored then the rest. She pushed it, hoping beyond hope.

Jupiter and his men coughed in the darkness. “Find them!” He ordered.

The door slid open, the vigilantes escaped into the passage. The Crimson Scorpion could stay and fight. If Misa wasn’t injured at her side she would. Her life didn’t matter. But she wouldn’t allow her friend to die here.

They made their way out of the passage and into the wine cellar. Quickly they rolled a keg of wine against the door. Misa helping as best she could. It’s contents sloshing about inside. For good measure they did it a second time. Not much of a delay. Yet it might give them enough time to escape. Moving quick as they could to the hallway and then the stairs. Escape was not to be though. Another of Jupiter’s men was coming down the stairs. Seeing the fleeing pair, he jumped, hurtling down at them.

The Crimson Scorpion pushed Misa out of harm’s way. Moment’s before the man’s suicide dive connected with her. Sending both to the hard, unforgiving stone floor.

Recovering quickly, the man’s hands tightened around the Scorpion’s throat. His fingers digging into throat. Cutting off precious air.

Blackness crept into her vision. She knew there’d be no withstanding this assault for long. Her hands shot out blindly as her vision blurred. She needed to end this quick. She was close to passing out. This was no time to be rendered helpless. The others would be coming soon enough. That makeshift barricade wouldn’t hold them for long.

Her hands found the cloth hood masking his face. Her fingers probing it’s surface. As he continued choking the life from her. Urgently her fingers found the opening they needed. The eye holes. Pressing her fingers into the man’s eyes sockets. Deeper and deeper. He screamed out in pain. Letting go of his death-grip on her throat. It was too late. Warm blood dripped down her fingers. As the Crimson Scorpion’s sight cleared. She saw the man, his white mask red. Tears of blood flowed from where his eyes had once been.

Over the man’s screams of pain, she could hear the others smashing through her hastily made barricade. A waste of good wine. She took the man by the chin. Snapping his neck in a swift motion. It was a mercy she gave him. Rapidly searching him for a weapon, she came up empty handed. Cursing to herself. A pistol would have evened the odds a little bit.

Misa, a bit dazed sat in the corner. The Scorpion took her arm. “We have to move!”

The girl nodded. Being pulled to her feet a split second later. There climbed the steps. Jupiter and his men closing in.

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