by Martin Maenza
The next morning, the couple who had assumed the roles of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker slipped through the walls of the old abandoned movie house that they were using as a local hideout. In their hands were boxes of donuts and coffee. “Hey, John, breakfast is served,” Clyde called out as they walked down one of the aisles.
The man playing at John Dillinger sat at the makeshift table set up on a large stage area. His special belt, gloves, and boots lay on the table as he finished a cigarette. “Glad youse two are back,” he said, remaining in gangster character. “I was thinkin’ maybe it’s time for us to blow this town. We need a change of scenery.” He flipped open one of the donut boxes. “Maybe we could hit Vegas. Plenty of big dollars to be made from all those casinos. Plus, Vegas was supposedly started by the likes of guys like Bugsy Seigel. We’d fit right in.”
“Funny you should say that, John,” said Bonnie. “We were talkin’ on the way back from our little food heist about makin’ an even bigger change. I mean, I love how sexy fishnets feel and all, but it gets a little old after a while. I wouldn’t mind something new to wear.”
“Yep, we’ve been spacemen and now gangsters,” said Clyde. “I was thinking about us doing something along a western theme.”
John bit down on a cruller. “You mean like cowboys and Indians?” he said with his mouthful. “Sounds too much like kids’ stuff to me.”
“No, more like desperadoes,” replied Clyde. “Old west outlaws like Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Etta Place.” He opened the lid to one of the coffees and took a drink. “We could call ourselves something like the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. I could adapt the gear to allow us to create real holes in walls, allowing us to swipe stuff through them. It’d fit with the name.”
“How about the Ghost Riders?” Bonnie suggested.
“A rose by any other name,” said a female voice from behind them.
The trio turned quickly to see Dove and Hawk swooping down from one of the shadowed balconies. “Forget roses! These guys are stinkweeds!” added the male hero.
“What the–?!” John Dillinger exclaimed. “Time to exterminate the pests!” He charged for the table where his gear and machine gun sat.
Dove managed to move a bit faster, bouncing off the table surface and snagging the special belt and boots. “Let’s see how you operate without these,” she said as she leaped away. “I’m guessing not too well.”
Dillinger snagged his machine and began opening fire upon her. “You think you’re a smart dame, eh?” he said as his bullets shred into part of the large curtain. “I say you just got lucky in findin’ us, and your luck’s about to run dry!”
Dove caught the rope of a hanging sandbag and easily swung from it. “No luck at all,” she replied. “Finding you was easy, thanks to your friend’s comment about the movies. This is one of the few places in town left standing that was famous for showing old silent films. Given that it was abandoned, we figured it was the perfect place for you thugs to hole up.”
John spun around and glared angrily at his partner. “Nice going, Clyde!”
“But I–” Clyde stammered. “Oh, nuts!” He aimed his weapon at Dove and opened fire. She leaped from the sandbag just as the bullets sliced through the rope. The heavy filled sack broke free and flew squarely into the surprised gunman’s face. Clyde Barrow hit the wood floor hard.
“One down, two to go!” Hawk announced as he chased after the fleeing Dillinger. “Can’t have you leaving the party so soon, can we?”
John made it part way up the aisle before realizing that outrunning Hawk was not an option. He spun quickly on his heel and opened fire. “Eat hot lead!” Hawk was forced to dive between the old seats for cover. “Ha! That’ll keep you!”
The gangster made it to the double doors at the back of the old theater and assumed he was home free. But when he pushed against them, the doors refused to give way. “Hey, what gives here?!” Dillinger exclaimed.
“Not those doors, that’s for sure.” Hawk tapped him on the shoulder, then nailed him with a right cross. “We took a precaution before dropping in on you,” the hero explained. “We blocked the most obvious exits, just in case you tried any escape attempts.” He nailed the man with one more punch, knocking him out. “Sometimes you just have to cover all the bases.”
“Oh, yeah, bird-boy!” Bonnie Parker exclaimed. “You’re dead meat now, you dirty, rotten–” She opened fire on Hawk.
Once more, the hero in red and white had to dive for cover. “This getting shot at is getting old quick,” Hawk said. “Good thing you guys are such lousy shots.”
Bonnie laughed. “It will only take one round to connect, and you’ll be dead, darlin’! Then I can waltz right out of here. You won’t be able to touch me.”
“Want to bet?” a female voice said behind her. Bonnie whirled around in time to see Dove backing away, with her intangibility belt in hand. “See, in order for you to fire your gun, you have to be solid. And when you’re solid, it makes it so easy to take this away.”
“Wrong move, honey,” Bonnie lectured. “You should have taken the gun instead.” She leveled the weapon at the blue-and-white-costumed heroine. “I’ll still get out of here, but it’s just going to have to get a bit more messy.”
Dove stood her ground calmly. “To get out of here, you have to go through both Hawk and me,” she said. “I can think of at least a dozen ways to disarm you, and over half of them are painful.” She smiled. “Plus, I know Hawk pretty well. He’ll probably go for the direct approach, which I can guarantee will hurt.”
Suddenly, a red-gloved hand grabbed Bonnie by the wrist and twisted hard. “Ugh!” she said as the gun barrel tipped high into the air. Her left fingers squeezed the trigger, sending a harmless spray of bullets into the rafters above. Hawk twisted the weapon away from her and shoved her down to the floor, hard. Bonnie landed with a thud on her shoulder.
Dove calmly stepped over toward the gangster moll and looked down at her disapprovingly. “See,” the heroine said, “I told you it would hurt, didn’t I?”
Half the world away, in an open field that spanned the border of two small Central European countries, a huge platform had been constructed with greenery and flowers interlaced among the lattice work along the bottom. Crowds from both nations gathered on this day, as per royal decree, to witness the event. Some parties on both sides protested what was about to occur; those individuals would be spending the day clamped in irons to avoid any embarrassing interruptions.
On the platform, an older minister waited near a beautiful stone altar. To the right side stood a man with short black hair, dressed in a dark blue ceremonial uniform. As the music began to play, a strikingly beautiful young woman with long dark hair, dressed in a white gown of lace and satin, approached the platform. Her attendants assisted her in climbing the platform stairs, and she joined the man before the altar.
Bito Wladon and Cassandra De Granaco exchanged brief smiles. Both were anxious for the ceremony to begin.
The minister cleared his throat and then spoke in a frail voice. “Today, we are gathered here to unite these two people in holy matrimony. For when two people are in love and are committed to a life together, no obstacles — man-made or even political — may keep them apart.” The minister began to drone on, but the other two participants in the ceremony were already lost in their own thoughts.
Before the sun sets this afternoon, I will have access to the Granacan treasury, Bito thought. And with that, I shall be able to fund the project to build nucleo-sonic armor for our nation. Modora will then be prepared to expand its borders further! He glanced from the minister to his soon-to-be bride.
While her eyes focused on the minister, Cassandra’s mind was elsewhere. Events have progressed quickly with little intervention on my own part, she thought. And though the thought of consummating this union turns my stomach, I will do so and appear to enjoy it. I certainly do not wish to tip my hand too soon. When the time is right, I will seize control and prove to be the greatest leader in Granaco’s history!
And so, the minister concluded the ceremony to unite these two schemers as man and wife. “What God has joined together,” the old man pronounced, “let no one tear asunder.” A slight cheer came from the crowd, as the nations of Modora and Granaco were joined through a wedded union. Little did the people of either nation know how their lives would change from this moment forward.