by Martin Maenza
The warehouse door shattered into dozens of pieces as Hawk knocked it inward. With grim determination on his face, the hero rushed inside, followed by his teammates Dove, the armored Golden Eagle, the dark-cowled Herald, and the yellow-and-black-clad Bumblebee.
“Like, where is everyone?” the Golden Eagle inquired.
Hawk looked around the large room. There was a small wooden table and a couple of chairs in the center of the room, as well as some shelving units with wood crates. But no sign of any people. “We sure this is the right place?” he asked impatiently.
Jonny Double stepped into the room over the rubble, his firearm drawn. “This is the place,” he said. “I know my way around Chinatown pretty well.”
“Yeah, right,” said Hawk. “So where’s this Wo Fong you mentioned to us earlier at the British Consulate?”
Jonny looked around nervously. “I — I don’t know,” he admitted. He slipped the .37 Magnum back into the shoulder harness he wore underneath his jacket.
Dove was over by the table, down on one knee.
Bumblebee joined her. “Found something?” the African-American heroine asked.
Dove raised her white glove from the floor; one fingertip had dust upon it. “I’m guessing this was just a meeting place and not a base of operations,” Dove said. “But look here.” She directed her friend to the floor. “See? Slight tracks on the floor besides footprints. Signs of a person in a wheelchair, which Mr. Double said Wo Fong has been confined to.”
“Definitely,” the Bumblebee agreed.
“So,” the Herald said, “they were here, but they aren’t now. That doesn’t give us much to go on now, does it?”
“Not entirely,” Jonny Double said. “We know the British Prime Minister was the target of tonight’s attack. Fong doesn’t seem the type to give up after one attempt.”
“According to the local newspapers, the Prime Minister has one more public engagement tomorrow before leaving San Francisco,” the Bumblebee said, recalling the headlines she had read earlier that day.
“Make that today, not tomorrow,” the Herald corrected his wife. “Its already after one in the mornin’ now.”
“Right,” said the private investigator. “Since we know the target, we can be there to stop the attack.”
“So, all we have to do is, like, play bodyguard to the Prime Minister, and we’ve bagged the bad guy?” the Golden Eagle said.
“Not quite,” Hawk said. “After helping the British security earlier tonight, they didn’t see too happy with us messin’ in their business. Besides, the rats won’t take the bait if they see obvious protection.”
“Hawk’s right,” Dove agreed. “The Prime Minister needs to move about freely. We just need to keep things under tight surveillance and be there when the next attack goes down. That Sino-Superman we faced tonight was tough. If they are more like him, the British security will need our help again.”
“Agreed,” Jonny Double said. “Meanwhile, I can follow a lead I have on Wo Fong. Maybe locate him before something can happen.”
“Mr. Double, let me help you,” Dove offered. “Just in case Fong keeps some of his agents held in reserve, I can be there to try and take them down until the others can arrive.”
Jonny smiled at the idea. The platinum-blonde heroine would be a welcome partner. “Fair enough,” Jonny said.
“We’ve got radios,” the Herald said. “We can keep in touch that way.” The man put his hand on Dove’s shoulder. “Call as soon as you need us.”
“Count on it,” Dove said.
“Fine,” said Hawk. “If we’re done drawing up plans, I say we get onto the job. The last thing we need is those Sinos strikin’ while we’re busy flappin’ our yaps.” Besides, Hawk was starting to get that familiar feeling, the one that came when danger had passed. A side effect of Hawk and Dove’s powers was that they started to change back to their normal, civilian selves when danger had completely passed.
As the morning sun bathed the San Francisco harbor in the dawn’s warm glow, a lone winged figure sat perched atop on the center pillar of the bridge leading over to Oakland. The Golden Eagle let out a little yawn. “I never enjoyed pullin’ all-nighters in school,” he said aloud. A couple of gulls perched nearby squawked at him. “Hey, like, sorry. I didn’t mean to, like, disturb your breakfast, dudes!”
Suddenly, the radio receiver in his helmet sprang to life. “Stings to Wings,” a familiar female voice said. “Stings to Wings. Tea and crumpets are on the move.”
“Roger that,” the Golden Eagle replied. He easily followed the coded message from his teammate, the Bumblebee. Glancing down the bridge, he activated the telescopic mode in his helmet’s lenses. In a few moments, he caught sight of a pair of black limousines, each sporting a small flag with blue, white, and red mounted on the front hoods. “I’ve totally got a bead on them.”
The cars soon passed the center section of the bridge and continued on down toward the far end. Golden Eagle extended his wings and took flight. “I’ll stick to them like glue,” he said, keeping the high altitude but following the motorcade from his aerial position.
“Copy that,” the Bumblebee said in his ear. “I’ll convey the message to the others. Stings out.”
On the ground in a van, Mal Duncan sat behind the wheel with Hank Hall sitting next to him. “Just got word from Karen,” the African-American male in the dark costume said, his hood down. “Charley’s now following the Prime Minister and her party. Time for us to move out.” He put the vehicle in gear and drove out into the street.
“Good,” the brown-haired male dressed in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt said. “All this waiting around’s not my style.”
Mal chuckled. “It can’t all be about fights and fisticuffs,” he said. “Sometimes we have to do less glamorous stuff like stakeouts.”
“Yeah?” Hank said. “Well, we ain’t Judge Reinhold and Eddie Murphy, and this isn’t Beverly Hills Cop.”
Mal laughed again. “You got that right, Hank,” he said. “Good thing Dawn offered to work with that private investigator. Doing that would have driven you right out of your mind.”
Hank Hall didn’t say anything, but he couldn’t help thinking about Dawn Granger for some reason.
The aforementioned young woman currently had her blonde hair tucked under a baseball cap worn backward. She also wore a pair of designer sunglasses to hide her eyes. This was the quickest solution that Dawn Granger could come up with to disguise some of her facial features while allowing her to assist in the investigation for Wo Fong. Like Hawk, she could only transform into Dove when danger was present.
The young woman exited Lo Chou’s restaurant, accompanied by Jonny Double. “I must admit, Mr. Double,” Dawn said, “that I’ve never had Chinese for breakfast before. Not counting leftovers, of course.”
The private investigator chuckled. “Glad I could open your eyes to something new, Dee,” he said. They had agreed that he would call her Dee, short for Dove. “And by the way, call me Jonny. Mr. Double’s my father.”
Dawn nodded. “OK, Jonny,” she said. “So what’s next?”
“While you were in the ladies’ room, I did some askin’ about,” Jonny said. “Turns out Chee Wu, who I know is working with Fong, was seen about last night after I’d witnessed their conversation. I figure we can follow him again, and maybe he’ll lead us straight to the big man.”
The couple continued walking around the Chinatown neighborhoods, blending in with the tourists. Eventually, they did spot the man in question and started to discreetly trail him.
Chee Wu first stopped at a small temple for some morning mediation. Then he purchased some rice candy at a small shop on Clay Street. Lastly, he stepped into the Bank of America building to transact some business.
Dawn finished the last of her morning coffee and discarded the cup in a nearby trash can. “I can see that this type of work takes some patience,” she said.
“Yep,” said Jonny Double, his eyes transfixed on the front doors of the bank across the street. “When I’m on a case, I easily spend half my time waitin’ around. You get used to it after a few years.”
“I suppose,” Dawn said. She then noticed their target exit the building. “I wonder where to next.”
Jonny heard the chimes of the Old St. Mary’s Church bell tower. Ten o’clock. He took Dawn’s hand and hurried across the street. “It’s gettin’ late,” the private investigator said. “I think it’s time we had a word with Wu and get the information we need.”
Chee Wu happened to turn back to notice the man and woman working their way down the sidewalk. He could tell by the looks on their faces and by the way they moved that they were after him. The Chinese man broke into a sprint.
He panted heavily as he ran down the cement sidewalk. His black leather shoes weren’t made for this type of activity, but he had no option. Sore feet were better than getting caught.
The young man pushed his way rudely through people who walked in front of him, elbowing some while knocking others down. They cursed at him; he didn’t have time to reply with words or gestures. His only thought was of getting way.
Chee Wu spun to his right to avoid being hit by a homeless person pushing an old metal shopping cart. His hip caught the side of a large mailbox, causing a bruise and sending a shooting pain up his right side. He couldn’t let that stop him. He needed to lose this couple, whoever they were, fast.
He darted across the street, against the signal, and weaved in and out of oncoming traffic. He darted down a darkened alleyway, pulled himself into a shallow doorway, and stopped to catch his breath. Chee Wu hoped he’d lost his followers.
“Not bad,” a female voice said from the shadows. “You must have run cross-country in high school.” The blonde woman in the cap and sunglasses stepped from the shadows.
Chee Wu nervously pulled a firearm out from the inside of his jacket and aimed it at her. “How you–?” he started to say in broken English.
A shot rang out from behind him, knocking the automatic pistol from his wrist. Chee Wu’s gun clattered across the pavement and into some trash bin. The Chinese man spun around in surprise.
Jonny Double moved closer, his .37 Magnum trained on the young man. “Not nice to pull a gun on a young lady,” he said. “Where’s your manners, Wu?”
“What you want?” Chee Wu asked. “Why you following me?”
Jonny grabbed the young man with his free hand and slammed him against the brick building wall. “We’re looking for someone, Wu,” he said. “And I think you know right where we can find him.”
Dawn approached the pair. “Better listen to my friend, here,” she said. “He can be very persuasive if need be.” It didn’t take much for her to get into the good cop, bad cop routine; she’d seen enough police dramas on television to know how the banter went.
Chee Wu looked from her to the private investigator and back again. “Who you looking for?” he asked.
“Wo Fong,” Jonny Double said.