The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Part 5
by Shane Migliavacca
The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 5 The White Knights of Starlight City
Diamond Bill and his men drew their guns. Ready to blast away at the intruders. The men in white stood fast. Tommy Guns primed to slice down the gangsters.
“A new order descends on Starlight City.” The man in the white face mask said. “My White Knights will bring this order.”
“So, your The Crimson Scorpion! The guy giving me a hard time.” Diamond Bill exclaimed. “Been looking forward to putting a bullet in you!”
“The Crimson Scorpion?” The man in the mask laughed. “He’s just a two-bit thug like you. The newspapers have turned him into a bogeyman to sell papers. No. I am something quite different.”
Rocky felt shivers run down his spine, listening to the boss speak. The man believed every word he spoke. The guy had a plan for the future. One Rocky had to admit sounded possible. Yet something was bothering the young man as he listened to the boss’s words. A thing Rocky had forgot and couldn’t remember.
He saw Mac was staring at him. A scowl etched in his granite face.
“You little weasel.” Mac spat. “I’ll cut your heart out for betraying us.”
“He was never one of ‘yours’ Mac. Rocky’s a smart boy who can see the future.”
Pushing aside a couple of his men, Diamond Bill approached the man in the white mask.
“Just who the hell do you think you are?”
Adjusting his matching white gloves the man spoke. “Jupiter Optimus Maximus. You may call me Jupiter. Like the god of old I bring order to chaos and light to the darkness. I’m offing you a seat at my table Bill Gavin.”
The man calling himself Jupiter circled the large gang boss. Like a shark circling it’s prey. There was a cold calmness to the man that frightened Rocky.
“For too long you and your syndicate buddies have ruled this city. That time is ending.”
“And your going to wipe us out?” Diamond Bill interrupted. “Do away with crime?”
Jupiter shook his head. “No. There will always be crime. I see that. You cut off one of the hydra’s heads and another grows to replace it. I mean to control it. Tame it.”
This brought a large belly laugh from Diamond Bill. “Just another two-bit gangster! Word it anyway you want bub! It’s the same thing.”
Diamond Bill’s outburst didn’t faze Jupiter. “I mean to eliminate the chaos your kind brings.” He continued speaking. “This one guns down one of your boys in front of a restaurant. So you blow up one of his fronts. Who suffers?”
“What?” Diamond Bill looked at him confused.
“Who suffers? The innocent. How many patrons at that restaurant catch a stray bullet? What about the innocent store owner who dies when you bomb his place? No more. I will rule. And you and the others will serve on my council. There will be no more petty squabbling among you.”
“And if I tells you where to shove it?”
Jupiter snapped his fingers and his White Knights raised their Tommy guns.
“That’s what I thought.” Diamond Bill spat.
“Is it not better to serve? To help usher in a new way? Then rot in a watery grave?”
“I serve no man but myself.” Diamond Bill stood firm.
“So be it. And what of you?” Jupiter turned to Mac and the others. “Will you die with him?”
There was a murmur among Diamond Bill’s men.
“Where’s that famous coin of yours?” Jupiter prodded the large man. “How many lives have you snuffed out after flipping it? Perhaps you should decide your men’s lives.”
“Perhaps you should stuff it.” Diamond Bill retorted.
“Go ahead. I insist.”
Begrudgingly Diamond Bill reached into his breast pocket. He flipped the coin, never taking his eyes off of Jupiter. As it arched through the air, a gloved hand snatched it up.
Jupiter clasped the coin in his hand. “Heads or tails?”
“You lousy son of a…I’ll kill you with my bare hands!” Diamond Bill growled.
Something drew Rocky’s attention away from the two sparring men. His eye had caught movement up above. Like somebody was running along the top of the crates. Impossible. Everyone was down here. Something was nagging him though. Something or somebody he’d forgot.
Jupiter continued, “Serve me. Help me bring order to chaos. And we can reach such heights, there will be riches the like you could hardly dream.”
Diamond Bill’s men shifted uneasily about. Looking at one another. Unsure what to do. Rocky knew what would come next for the ones that didn’t join. He knew most of them wouldn’t join. He felt the pistol heavy in his hand. How long had he been holding it? Who would he have to kill with it?
“Hey! We’re back!” The voice said. “What the heck is this?”
A firecracker went off in Rocky’s brain. It hit him. The thing nagging him. Bruno and Joey! They’d left to drop Soapy at the hospital.
“Grease ‘em!” Diamond Bill ordered.
Rocky wasn’t sure who fired first. The warehouse erupted into violence as blood and bullets filled the air. Rocky slammed his back against a large crate as lead flew. Tearing into wood and flesh alike. Men screamed and fell as Diamond Bill and his men dug in for a war.
Over the gunfire laughter rose. A loud mocking laugh. Filled with madness and rage, it echoed through the warehouse. Rocky watched in awe as a black cloaked figure dropped down from a stack of crates. Twin .45’s belching fire. Bullets slicing through two of Diamond Bill’s men.
The Crimson Scorpion!
It had to be, Rocky thought. The man’s face was hidden under the shadow of a large black slouch hat. Who was this guy? A gangster? Or a madman? It didn’t matter. A well placed slug would cut ‘em down like anybody else.
His eyes scanned the battlefield. Where’d the boss gotten to? There! Holed up behind a large piece of machinery with a couple of the knights. Far enough away from both Diamond Bill and the Scorpion. He wasn’t safe by any stretch. All this gunfire would be drawing the cops. They needed to scram before the coppers brought the hammer down on them. Bruno and Joey might have something to say about them leaving. The two men were between them and the door. Hunkered down behind an old desk.
Rocky braced himself for swift action. He fired at a few rounds off in Diamond Bill’s direction before sprinting towards another piece of cover. Hiding behind a large metal support. He was closer now to the boss. Rocky looked back, The Crimson Scorpion was nowhere to be seen. That could only be trouble. Bill and his men were still blasting away.
“We have to get out of here boss!” He hollered over the gunfire.
“No!” Jupiter answered. “I mean to finish this!”
“The cops will be coming!” Rocky said, firing a couple rounds at Mac. “We can’t get caught in here!”
“Okay. You have a point. How do we get past them?” Jupiter asked.
Rocky had done so much working for Jupiter. He’d come to him, offered him the world. And Rocky had accepted. Had risked his life infiltrating Diamond Bill’s mob. To let it all end here. Due to a mistake he made, forgetting about Bruno and Joey. No. He couldn’t allow it.
The young man took a deep breath before charging from his cover. Blasting away with his gun at the two men guarding the door. Halfway there he hit the floor and slid the rest of the way. Filling the two surprised thugs with the last of his bullets.
He scooped up one of the fallen men’s pistols. Laying down some cover fire for the others.
“C’mon! Let’s blow this place!”
He stayed, blasting away as the others escaped. Taking one last look at the warzone. Bodies from both sides littered the warehouse floor. The battle had cost them some good men. The Crimson Scorpion was not among them. Rocky charged out into the night, bullets ricocheting behind him as he slammed the door shut.
Jupiter took something wrapped in cloth from the boot of the car. Unwrapping it, Rocky saw that it was a bomb.
“If I can’t reason with them…I’ll obliterate them.”
Jupiter flung the explosive death in his hand through one of the large windows.
“Come. We’ll let god deal with them.”
Rocky watched as the sped away. Holding his breath, waiting…Till finally the ground shook and the warehouse erupted in a ball of flame. Fingers of flame reaching up towards the night sky. Diamond Bill, Mac and the Crimson Scorpion all gone like that. Consumed in a hellish fire.
Keefer, a mid-level loan shark in Diamond Bill’s employ spilled everything he knew after some “help” from the Crimson Scorpion. Including the fact that something was going down at the large warehouse on the docks tonight. The Crimson Scorpion fully expected to take out a few of the mobster’s men and one of his fronts. But when the man himself turned up, it was too much to resist not taking advantage of.
Sneaking along the rooftops and slipping into a skylight. Eavesdropping on Diamond Bill as he celebrated with his men after torturing some small time gangster. The Crimson Scorpion bided his time. Waiting for the moment to take the mob boss out. The excitement rose in their chest. The thrill of the hunt and the inevitable kill that came with it. Savoring every mirth filled chuckle from the hoods below. Knowing what they didn’t. Death was here tonight for them.
Poised to strike at the cancer that gripped the city, what happened next was unexpected. New players entered the game. The Crimson Scorpion watched. Curious about these men in white. Where they allies or enemies? As the man calling himself Jupiter talked the Crimson Scorpion realized the man was an enemy. Just one with delusions of grandeur.
When those two men returned the killing started. They were slaughtering one another. The Crimson Scorpion decided to join the fray. Feeling their bloodlust rising. They descended. Blasting two of Diamond Bill’s men. He could feel them quake in fright. Hear them say his name with a fearful gasp.
And then the men in white and their ally fled. The Crimson Scorpion had a choice to make: Take out Diamond Bill or chase these new foes?
Before a decision could be made, fate decided for him. A bomb crashed through the window. The Crimson Scorpion ascended to the skylight. Using the grappling hook on their belt. Diamond Bill and his cronies were fleeing as well. Towards the rear of the warehouse. Possibly to another exit in the back.
The Crimson Scorpion ran across the rooftop, leaping off the side and hitting the ground at a sprint. Tossed to that same ground seconds later as the warehouse exploded behind him. Feeling the hot fire at his back as he stood again.
An engine roared not that far away. Diamond Bill and his surviving men were escaping. A sleek black sedan sped away.
The Crimson Scorpion swore under his breath. The hope that they’d died in the blast was lost. The night’s battle wasn’t over yet.
The vigilante took off on foot. Squeezing off a couple of shots at the fleeing men. Hampered by distance and a throbbing pain in their left knee from the fall.
He was so close to taking them out! To have them escape justice tonight.
Fate interceded again with the roar of an engine. Turning the black cloaked vigilante stared into the barrel of a motorcycle cop’s revolver, no more then ten feet away. Here to investigate the battle no doubt.
“Don’t move!” The young patrolman said. The boy looked fresh from a farm somewhere out west.
“Oh lord,” The boy choked. “Your the Crimson Scorpion!” A visible anxious shiver ran through the young cop’s body.
That was all the Crimson Scorpion needed. Closing the gap between them. His left hand shot out. Two rigid fingers pressed together struck the young man’s throat. The last thing he’d see before blackness took him was the cold, merciless eyes of the Crimson Scorpion.
Stepping over the unconscious patrolmen. The Crimson Scorpion leaped on the motorcycle and gave chase. Mustering all he could from the cycle’s engine.
After a block or so he caught up to the fleeing car. Weaving in and out of the few cars that were on the streets this time of night.
As his motorcycle neared the car, the men inside noticed. Firing death at the pursuing Crimson Scorpion. Their pursuer wasn’t without his own weapons. Pulling one of his twin .45’s from the folds of his jacket. The Crimson Scorpion answered. Hitting one of the men leaning out the of the car’s windows. The man cried out and went limp. Slumping over. Half in and out of the speeding sedan.
With the left side of the car momentarily free of gunmen the Crimson Scorpion jumped from the cycle onto the sedan’s running board. The men inside uttered audible gasps as they saw him outside a unstoppable phantasm for justice.
He saw himself there, reflected in the car’s window. A dark red domino mask covering half of his face. Piercing eyes behind said mask. A wild mop of black hair sticking out from under the large slouching hat atop his head. A long jagged scar ran down his right cheek. Ending at the pencil thin black mustache covering his upper lip.
“Shake him off there!” Diamond Bill yelped.
The driver did his best, weaving the car about. Yet he hung on tight. The driver unable to shake the Crimson Scorpion panicked. Driving more and more erratically. He swerved the car to miss a parked truck. Crashing down a hill the sedan shot off the bank towards the river below, it’s occupants and the Crimson Scorpionon hit the water. Swallowed up by the cold, black water as the car sunk to the river’s icy depths. The Crimson Scorpion pulled down in it’s wake.
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