Part 21

by CM Towns

   Kestrel ducked the swing of the cloaked cultist before a strike to the gut followed by a boot to the head. Kestrel turned in time to block a punch by another cultist. She followed with a swift headbutt and then a kick to the chin. Kestrel pulled her crossbow, hit the button to extend the limbs and fired the arrow that was already loaded into the leg of a cultist who was closing on on red Sprite with a torch in hand.
   Red Sprite had just kicked down on cultist when another came with a gun and threatened her. Red Sprite summoned the flame from the torch on the grounded to burn the shoes of the cultist. He hopped up and down and Red Sprite swept the man down before a stomp to gut followed by distinguishing the flames on his shoes.
   Kestrel looked around the cavern. A man made construct underground and designed with carvings of some language that could only be interpreted as evil. These cultists were here in gathering, planning and scheming under the light of torches. It would not be an evil gathering of cultists without torchlight to illuminate their dark verses. Kestrel and Red Sprite at first only spied but their words infuriated Red Sprite who chose to attack them.

   It was hours ago that they were at Pearls home going over the details of Sally’s mission. Pearl watched and listened as Sally went through more details about how she pin pointed some of the cults activities over the years since Araminta’s first contact with the cult-or rather her first contact after her birth. Sally plugged themselves in with the Professor, who had helped look up additional information. The three talked for a while as they circled a number of men who had been accused or connected to satanic cult activity over the last three decades. Most were cleared but the names were easy to connected to some affluent men and women, some in Tennessee. So they made plans for their field op in Belle Meade.
   Pearl’s home was seated in front of the woods. A large wooded area surrounded the homes in this area of East Ridge. Pearl lead Sally into the backyard then into the woods. Sally followed Pearl as she zigged, zagged and cut around areas until they were at a small rise. Pearl showed Sally the way down on some rock steps so that they would be in front of a gated cave.
   “This appears to be a combination of natural and man made,” Sally commented.
   “This is my keep out sign,” Pearl noted.
   “Yes, that too. The way the steps are in formation seem like some work was done.”
   “I had some help,” Pearl told her as she took the necklace she wore, a key, and unlocked the top lock. She then did the number combination on the bottom lock. She opened the gate and the motioned her in. She reused one of the locks on the other side of door to keep out unwanted visitors. Sally’s vision could see little but she noted Pearl moving. A light clicked on, followed by two more leading a few yards down. Sally walked beside Pearl to a stone door.
   “That was a bitch to put in,” Pearl had said to her as she reached the far door. She undid another lock and then opened the door, swinging it around.
   “This is my nest,” she then introduced.
   Sally saw the black jeep, nothing fancy except the dark windows. There was a desk nearby, a generator, cooler, a locker and some cabinets.
   “Probably not as fancy as what you got back home,” Pearl said.
   “Me and Jessie do not have a secret lair. Nothing like that,” Sally told her which was a bit of a surprise to Pearl. Sally then asked, “So you have friends who know and help you?”
   “A few. I started out in black jump suit and beating up people who deserved it. They wanted to help me, believed in my cause,” Pearl answered.
   “So many of us have to rely on people to help with our work. Entertainment makes it look like we are all lone warriors but we can not do our kind of work alone,” Sally spoke the truth.
   “I’ll get ready over here, and then we can leave,” said Pearl.
   The two got dressed, took to the car and headed out (while closing and locking the doors behind them. Driving through the woods, was a bit nerve wracking for Red Sprite but luckily Kestrel had a path set for her that quickly laid onto a street about forty meters out in a back street. The pair drove to Belle Meade with Kestrel playing classical music. Kestrel felt it gave her energy to engage in heroics. The two spoke briefly about their work, Sprite talking about they dynamic between her Reina Titán, discussed a little about why they patrolled, even talked briefly about a recent adventure they had.
   The trip did not take too long and when they got to the destination they took time to find a nice place to keep the jeep-somewhere that was not too far from the manor they sought but close enough to return to if things got dicey. With the night sky, few lampposts, and so much greenery the jeep would be almost unnoticed.
   Spy tactics and a couple hours of surveillance lead them bug the home of Joe Mason. Soon after that caught them onto Masons late night drive. The two followed suit and the eventually lead them to where they were now. A cavern under an empty manor. The two moved like well trained spy operatives and only made themselves known when hearing of their discussions in regard to how to abduct Araminta from their team.
   The memory of the events that lead to their fight subsided and Kestrel said, “We should call the police.”
   “I have doubts that the police around here will do much of anything. We know this cult has ties to police departments. Araminta spoke about how she was almost turned over to them by a couple police officers,” Red Sprite explained.
   “Then we send them home with a warning.”
   “Perhaps that is best. Where is our Mr. Mason?”
   The two moved through another corridor to find Joe Mason.
   “YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS YOU SLUTS! PAY FOR-” a kick by Kestrel to shut the man up.
   “Mr. Mason,” said Red Sprite.
   The man cursed and Kestrel took her sai, pointed it at his neck.
   “You understand why we’re here, do you not?” Sprite asked.
   “We know. We knew when we discovered the girl had been taking in and we’ve been told that you had been investigating our activities,” Mason said.
   “So you keep at it?” Kestrel asked.
   “Of course. We are guided by a God who will reward us for his bidding,” Mason answered with a smile.
   “What does this God want with Araminta?” inquired Red Sprite.
   “Fuck off,” he replied and got a punch from Kestrel.
   He smiled with a broken nose and said, “Maybe you should save your wrath for those anarchists who beat up your teammates. Not much of a threat without their red witch, the vigilante kid and your titan.”
   Kestrel punched him a couple more times before answering, “WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH HER!?”
   “Come on… You can guess,” he responded.
   “Yes but I would prefer exact details,” Red Sprite said.
   “Well you are not getting those so c’mon-do your worst,” Mason challenged.
   “You are not ready for my worst,” Red Sprite threw back.
   “Maybe at one time-but things have changed since you and Reina appeared. We got tricks and weapons. Believe me, we will get the little bitch back again,” Mason said before Red Sprites kick knocked him out.
   “That it?” Kestrel asked standing up.
“We can interrogate others and that could garner us more information however I believe that will do little. They want Araminta to bring about this dark God-that much is obvious. What is not is who this God is and what tricks they have that could make them challenge us,” Red Sprite said.
   “So what do you want to do?”
   “Document the writings on the wall, anything of note. We investigate what they worship like we have been doing. We investigate Mason and his associates so we know who we are dealing with. We crush them when the move for Araminta,” Red Sprite detailed.
   “We can crush these ones now.”
   “I am careful about the force to exert in cases. Yet I plan on burning this place down once we get what we need from this home of worship,” Red Sprite smiled.
   Kestrel liked her tiny smile and agreed.
   “What about his mockery of our teammates in Detroit?” Kestrel asked.
   “If they need us we will come. Yet I believe failure is an important part of growth. I have faith they will try to do without us,” Red Sprite answered.