The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Part 22
by Shane Migliavacca
The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 22 Acadia
The truck pulled down a dirt road towards a chain-link fence. Two men stood guard at a wood shed near the entrance. While one of the men made small talk with the driver, the other checked out the truck. Both wore uniforms and were armed with pistols. After a few minutes they opened the gate, allowing the truck to pass through. Rumbling towards the nondescript looking Masterton’s Maple Syrup factory.
Kitty lowered the binoculars. Positioned behind a pile of gravel. She’d found the factory, in some of the papers she’d taken from the Jaguar Club. Located on the outskirts of the city. Kitty had begun checking out some of the businesses listed in those documents on a hunch. A hunch that looked like it might be paying off. What did a Maple Syrup company need with armed guards and a checkpoint?
That was something she’d have to find out. Jupiter very well could be this Garrett Masterton who owned the factory and was a member of the Jaguar Club. Over the last few weeks she’d been a thorn in their operations in Starlight. But nothing more then that. With the alliance between South Side Johnny and Vic Hally, Jupiter’s organization had become tougher to get at. More cautious. The amount of had men doubled and were more heavily armed. Forcing her to come up with a new way to strike at them.
Using the shadows of the cloudy afternoon the Crimson Scorpion moved closer. Men patrolled the perimeter of the fence, wearing uniforms like the men at the gate. Stranded security garb. All armed with pistols. There was a chance they could be innocents. It was just as possible they might be hired goons dressed up as legitimate security guards. She’d have to take pains not to kill any of them till she knew for certain just who they were.
There was a grove of trees on the east of the factory. Not only would they provide cover for her approach, Kitty would be able to scale one and go over the fence.
Slipping from tree to tree, she paused as the guard on the other side of the fence stopped. Staring off into the trees.
Waiting, with only a quick glance, she hid till they left. Moving forward once the guard was out of sight. Nearing the tree closet to the fence, Kitty counted down in her head. By her rough estimation she had ten minutes before the guard would be back.
Scrambling up the tree and then dropping down on the other side of the fence. Kitty made haste to the cover of a tool-shed a few feet from the factory. The guard on his way back. Her heart beating fast, she watched him from the shadows. As he stopped once more to gander through the fence out into the grove of trees.
After he was on his way, Kitty continued on to the outside of the factory. She had no idea what sort of machinery was used in a maple syrup factory, but the factory’s interior sounded fairly quiet for a weekday.
Peering in through a large mesh covered window, Kitty could make out a group of men unloading the truck. Taking out what looked like wood crates from the truck’s rear. They were too far away and there was too much in the way to make out anything else. She’d have to enter the factory for a better view.
Further down the wall was a drainage pipe for the gutters. Once more waiting till the security guards were out of sight. Kitty shimmed up the pipe. The second story windows were covered with mesh as well. It would take too long to cut through. Leaving her exposed. Forcing Kitty to climb to the rooftop.
Up top she had more luck. There were four skylights. One leading into an empty office. Dropping down onto the desk, Kitty quickly surveyed the room. She was indeed alone here.
Besides the desk there was a man-sized metal safe. A large glass window overlooking the factory area. And the blueprints of a freighter tacked to the wall behind the desk.
How did the ship figure into their operation?
She went to the large window. Pulling out the binoculars, she watched as two of the men pulled open one of the crates with crowbars. Inside, covered in straw were cheap looking statues. Another man took the statute. Cracking it open, reveled a bricked sized thing wrapped in brown paper. Kitty had seen such a thing before, overseas. Opium.
So, Jupiter was smuggling opium into the city. Must be what the freighter was used for. Kitty wondered if he’d been up to this for awhile or was it a new aspect of their racket.
The ship would demand further investigation. Kitty made a note of it’s name and markings. Satisfied with the information she’d gathered, it was time to leave.
Kitty desperately wanted to take out the factory while she was here. Taking on that many armed men would be suicide. If the opium was coming into Starlight via the Acadia it made more sense to take that out. Besides she didn’t wish to take on the security force outside in a gun battle. There was a slim possibly they were innocent of knowing what was afoot in the factory.
Climbing atop the desk, Kitty planned on exiting the same way she’d entered. The skylight. Then slid down the pipe. The fence could prove a challenge. There were no trees on the inside lawn. Meaning she’d have to climb over or find another way out. Risking being seen by the security patrols.
“What the deuce?”
A man in overalls stood in the office door. His mouth agape. Holding a lunchbox and thermos. Blast! She’d been so wrapped in planning her escape, Kitty hadn’t heard him approaching. She must look quite the sight standing there. Dressed in her Crimson Scorpion regalia.
Dropping his lunch, the man spun around, trying to flee.
Cursing under her breath as she leaped from the table, chasing him out the door.
“Boys! It’s the-” Was all he managed before she caught up to him on the catwalk overlooking the main floor. Striking the man in the back with a hard elbow. Knocking the wind out of him.
A furor arose from below. She’d been spotted by someone. The men pointed and shouted. A shot rang out, striking the catwalk.
Kitty grabbed the dazed man, depositing him on the office floor out of harm’s way. More shots struck outside the office. Boots clanking on the metal steps of the catwalk as the men closed in. Kitty tipped over a filing cabinet, blocking the door. Long enough for her to escape through the overhead skylight.
On the roof she could hear the men smashing the door below. Crouched at the edge of the roof. The security guards were actively looking for her now on the lawn below. Waiting for her to come down from the roof.
There was no need to be sneaky now. Kitty pulled a smoke bomb from her jacket. Dropping it into a cluster of security guards. Using the smoke as cover, Kitty slid down the drainage pipe. Hitting the ground, Kitty sprang forward through the stunned group of men. Relaying on her memory of the area to reach the fence through the smoke. Clearing the cloud of darkness, she dashed towards the fence.
Her hands gripped the metal links. Pulling herself up. Before she could get halfway up, someone grabbed her by the leg. Yanking her off the fence.
Kitty landed on the ground in a kneeling position. It was one of the security guards. The man either escaped the smoke or come from another area. Lunging at her, he swung a baton at her. A smart move considering if he used his pistol, a stray shot could hit one of the others.
Rolling to the side, the wood baton struck the fence. Another swing of the baton forced Kitty to roll in the opposite direction. Even if the guard didn’t hit her, the delay of fighting him was eating away at her chance at escape. The cloud of dark smoke was quickly dissipating.
Kitty sprang to her feet. The guard swinging once more. Absorbing the blow with her forearm. Kitty let out a groan of pain. Rapidly grabbing the baton, she slammed the security guard face first into the fence. A quick blow to the back of his neck dropped the man.
Pushing herself up the chain-link fence with haste. Pain coursing through her forearm. She was near the top when another shot sounded. The bullet sailing past her. Vaulting over the side, Kitty dropped down on the other side. As more shots were fired. Some sparking off the fence.
Taking position behind the nearest tree. Kitty drew her automatic pistols. Laying down a covering fire. Making sure not to hit any of the guards. Just force them to take cover.
She kept it up. Weaving from tree to tree. Each time the men regrouped or advanced Kitty forced them to seek cover once more. Until she was far enough away to escape. Making for the car she’d left hidden. Some of money she’d unburdened Jupiter’s gang of recently had paid for the vehicle.
Behind the wheel, Kitty allowed herself to catch a breath. Of course it hadn’t gone as she’d planned. What did lately. The next course of action was to get back to Starlight. There she could find out more about this ship, the Acadia.
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