by Brian K. Asbury
“Grandfather!” Firebrand rushed into Rod Reilly’s arms, and they hugged each other lovingly.
“Becca! I thought I’d lost you! Oh, God, I was so sick with worry.”
“I was lost for a while, granddad. But I’m OK now.”
The others trooped into the castle’s main hall, some familiarly, some seeing it for the first time. “Nice place,” said Stealth. “Reminds me of home.”
“You lived in a castle on your own world?” said Rhea Jones.
“Sorta. Not really like this, but the stone and the open spaces… that’s a lot like the places my people lived in.”
Percy Sheldrake wheeled his chair up to greet the Bowman of Britain. “Tom! It’s good to see you, old friend. And such a timely arrival on the scene, too, so I hear.”
Tom Archer threw back his hood and took off his mask. “Yes… I can’t tell you the details, but someone told me that it was important I should be there. He was right, too.”
“So he was.” Percy looked his old friend up and down. “But look at you, Tom. Fit, healthy… and even a new fighting outfit, too. Astonishing! The last I heard, you were…”
“Little more than a vegetable. I know.” Tom shook his head. “I’m afraid I can’t disclose what happened to heal me, though. The… the person who did it swore me to secrecy. But I just wish I could do the same for you.”
“Oh, don’t worry about me. My days of the Knight are over. Perry is much better in the part than I ever was, with all his high-tech tricks. I intend for my role in this new team to be rather different.”
“Oh. Sounds interesting. Are there any openings for a bowman on this team?”
“There might be. There just might be.”
“So where did Perry dash off to?” Godiva asked David Sheldrake, who had also unmasked. “And Sandie, too?”
“Probably comparing bruises,” said David mischievously.
“I could give them a close run in that contest,” Godiva said, rubbing her aching face. She looked around. “It’s a good thing Ken dragged that Karma creep off for questioning about some murder charge in America, or I’d feel sorely tempted to bounce him against the ceiling a few times after the kicking he gave me.”
“Yeah. I know how you feel, Cas. Mind, I think I’ll pass on taking Stealth on again. She’s one hell of a tough lady. Foxy, too, mind…”
“You’re growing up too bloody fast!” said Godiva. “Haven’t you got homework to do?”
Just then, Perry Redhawk and Sandie Bremmer reappeared. Both were now out of costume and wearing lab coats. “If I could have your attention, ladies and gentlemen,” Perry said.
“Go ahead, Perry. What is it?” said Percy.
“Before Vertigo and — ah — and some of you attacked, Cameo and I were trying to get a trace on where he and his Dominator allies were operating from.”
“We can’t really help you there,” said Stealth. “All we know is that it was a castle somewhere. And for the record, this one is much nicer.”
“Thank you,” said Perry. “But I now have two readings, and I’ve been able to triangulate a start point for the space-warp device that the Dominators were using to transport you around. And, coupled with what we know about Vertigo, I can now reveal that our enemies are operating from a castle belonging to his family, situated in a small country in the Balkans. Before we set off for the Cotswolds, Sandie remarked that it was about time we took the fight to them. I agree — and now we have the information we need to do so.”
“So,” Sandie said, scanning each of their faces, “who is with us?”
Every hand in the room went up.