The meeting room was a buzz with the recent events of the night, Angelica being threatened and Tensai being defeated. All were shocked and dismayed by the news.
"SHOCKED" yelled Riven Homewood
"And Dismayed" added Annechen Lowey
The citizens continued to ramble on angrily. Behind the podium, Lunar tried to calm the citizens down. Finally, exasperated he looked at his sister and motioned towards the crowd. Christine stood up, and without raising her voice above her normal tone, said:
And the citizens all went quiet and looked at Lunar.
"Thank you," Lunar said, while at the same time wondering how Fuzz managed the weekly town meetings "Now, Yes, Jobias DID threaten Angelica and yes, he DID manage to defeat Tensai in a battle of the HUD's."
"How?" Hawc DeCosta asked "There's no way anyone could defeat Tensai. She's got the most powerful talisman around."
"With the Sheriff being a close second." Mother Superior pointed out
"Well, yea" Hawc continued, "and you see how useful THAT was....."
Hawc quickly became quiet as Angelica stood up and turned towards him. Hawc knew that if looks could kill, he would be dead twenty times over.
"I'm gonna sit down and shut up." Hawc said, sitting down. He leaned towards his wife and whispered, "Why didn't you stop me?"
"You're on your own, Dear." CeAire replied
"As I was saying," Lunar continued, "he defeated Tensai, but didn't finish the job, perhaps to search for Fuzz and finish what was started. She's fine. Resting in our home. For now, I must insist that none of you approach Jobias Barthelmess. He is a very dangerous man, no telling what....."
Lunar stopped mid-sentence as he looked up at the doorway to the meeting room. Jobias Barthelmess was standing there, cleaning his monocle. The citizens turned to see Jobias, then started talking amongst themselves in a low whisper.
"Fear." Jobias said, placing the monocle back over his eye. "I can sense it in this room."
He walked into the room and headed towards the front.
"I haven't sensed this much fear since I was ruler of Moldavia. Of course, that damned werewolf interfered, but he's not here now, is he? Where is he, Mayor Eclipse? Dead?"
Kattryn Severine stood up and glared at Jobias, "Leave, Mr. Barthelmess. You are not welcomed in my town."
"I have unfinished business." Jobias sneered "Your Sheriff, as you like to call him, and I. Bring him to me. I defeated Miss Hilra. I can defeat any of you with just a snap of my fingers. I will burn your town to the ground if you do not bring him to me."
Jobias turned to find Darien standing next to him, holding two white gloves in one hand. With the gloves, Darien slapped Jobias in the face.
"You like to think that you're better than the rest of us," Darien said, "I think it's time you prove it."
Jobias rubbed the side of his face and sneered, "What did you have in mind, Clone?"
Darien stood firm, "For the honor of Miss Katt, for the honor of Steelhead City, and for the honor of my friend, Sheriff Fuzzball Ortega, I challenge you to a gunfight. No HUDs, no cheats. Just you, a man, and me, a clone of a man, and you think clone's are also inferior to you, time you proved it."
Jobias tipped his hat at Darien, "One hour, in front of the hotel, 'Doctor'."
After Jobias left the room, all was silent. Everyone stared at Darien. It was Katt who finally broke the silence.
"Darien, what are you doing?" she asked
"What?" Darien asked, "We've had gunfights in Steelhead before. And I held my own against many a bad guy back when I was sheriff."
Katt shook her head, "When you were sheriff, you were possessed by Bloodwing. How do you know you'll be able to defeat him?"
"He will NOT burn down Steelhead. And he's not going to hurt Fuzz. I'd rather die than to see either of that happen."
Angelica walked up and took Darien by the arm, "There's a six shooter in Fuzz's office."
Slowly the citizens started to leave the room. Lunar walked up to Katt.
"It will be ok, Katt" Lunar said "Steelhead always prevails."
Katt smiled and looked up at the Moon Elf, "I'd be much happier once my sheriff is back in Steelhead."
Town Hall Foyer
Purdie walked into town hall as the citizens were walking out. He had seen Jobias leave and knew that it wasn't good. Lady Christine whispered to Purdie about what was going to happen. As she walked away, boB Ballyhoo stumbled towards Purdie and put his arm around him.
"December 12, 1845" boB said, then he drunkenly stumbled away
"What was that all about?" Riven asked Purdie
"You know boB" Purdie replied, a blank expression on his face
"I don't think any of us truly know boB" Riven said, walking away
Purdie looked around, then walked towards a corner of the foyer where a grandfather clock stood. He stepped into the grandfather clock, then there was the familiar sound of Purdie's time cabinet engine and the clock disappeared.
The Street In Front Of Steelhead Hotel, One Hour Later
On both sides of the streets, the citizens of Steelhead City stood, waiting for the upcoming gunfight. On one end of the street, Darien Mason stood. It had been awhile since he had worn a holster, it was a strange feeling. On the other end of the street, Jobias Barthelmess handed his talisman to one of his henchman. He, too, was wearing a holster. The pistol had a pearl handle. Darien saw the handle, even from the distance he was standing, and turned to Angelica.
"I couldn't get a gun with a fancy handle?" he asked
Angelica shrugged, "The hell difference does it make? It shoots bullets, doesn't it?"
Jobias called out to Darien, "As you can see, 'Doctor', I have no HUD talisman. Shall we get this over with?"
"Jobias" Lunar called out, "we don't have to do this. You can leave if you'd like. We won't even tell SteelCobra about this, you wont' lose your citizenship to Steeltopia nor your ambassadorship."
"Stifle it, Elf" Jobias sneered "The clone challenged me."
Darien motioned for Lunar to step back, "It's ok, Lunar."
Lunar stepped back. The clock on the clock tower of the hotel struck the top of the hour, and started to chime the hour. Darien and Jobias took their positions and put their hands closer to their weapons. As each chime sounded, the tension grew more and more. Finally, both men drew their weapons. A shot was fired. Darien fell to the ground, grasping his shoulder as blood started coming out. A couple of the citizens started towards Darien to help, only to be stopped by a gunshot.
"I BELIEVE" Jobias yelled, aiming the gun at Darien "THAT A GUNFIGHT MEANS 'TO THE DEATH'."
Darien eyes grew wide. Suddenly, the familiar sound of a TARDIS grew louder and louder. Behind Darien, a blue box, with the words "Police Box" on the top appeared. Jobias looked in disbelief. The doors to the police box opened and Purdie stepped out. He looked at Jobias and smiled.
"Somebody wishes to speak with you." Purdie said
The doors to the police box opened and a very healthy (and very pissed off) Fuzzball Ortega stepped out.
"You threatened my sister" Fuzz snapped
All of Steelhead cheered at the sight of Fuzz's return. Jobias started to stomp around then yelled at Fuzz.
"HOW?!?!" he screamed "I SHOT YOU"
"Ok, now he confessed" Angelica told Lunar
"Yea, well, you did. And the silver was in my blood stream. Fortunately, Purdie installed a sort of perception filter in my pocketwatch, causing your aim to be slightly off." Fuzz replied
"You couldn't heal that fast" Jobias said through gritted teeth.
"It wasn't fast." Fuzz said "I spent six long months in pain." he looked at Purdie, "How long was I gone?"
"By Steelhead's count about a week, week and a half" Purdie replied
"WHERE DID YOU GO?" Jobias yelled out
Fuzz smiled, "The one place you'd never find me."
As Lunar helped Darien up, Darien asked, "Where was that?"
Purdie smiled, "Ambertown 1845, before the flood."
Darien looked over at boB and then at Fuzz, "Old Doc Caruthers took care of you?"
Fuzz nodded, "His sister had married a Lycan, he knew what to do. However, with all the magic and highly advanced medicine that would be at my disposal, it still takes awhile for the poison to get out of my system." Fuzz looked at Jobias "I did this stupid charade to prove that you were a sick man, Jobias. The doctor's at Devil's Crag prison sent me a letter detailing it. You suffer from extreme paranoia, you're delusional, and you're shizophrenic."
"Kill him," Jobias muttered, he then turned to his left as if talking to someone, "I will. Be quiet."
"There's no way," Fuzz continued, "That you would be able to do all the things you threatened to do. The citizens of Steelhead City are too strong to allow that to happen. Now, come with me, we're going to get you some help."
"BOSS" the henchman called out as he tossed the talisman to Jobias.
Jobias quickly put on the HUD and held up his hands in front of him. They started to glow red.
"While you were away, Ortegavich," Jobias said, "I defeated the Undefeated Miss Hilra and.....what?"
The citizens all hoo'd as Tensai walked around the corner and stood by Fuzz. Jobias shot a fireball from his hand, which smashed against a force field put up by Tensai.
"My turn." Tensai said with an evil grin.
A yellow beam suddenly shot from her fingertips, hitting Jobias in the chest. His HUD quickly caught on fire.
"I DEFEATED YOU" Jobias screamed
"ACTING" Tensai called out triumphantly
Lunar and Katt each walked on the street and stood by Tensai and Fuzz.
"You really think defeating Tensai is that easy?" Lunar said "It was all part of the plan Purdie set up. Tensai was never hurt. You saw her fall, then went about your business, never bothering to check to see if she was hurt. Then all we had to do was wait, you wouldn't have killed Darien, she was waiting."
Jobias pointed at Fuzz, "But I did shoot you?"
Fuzz nodded, "You even walked up on my porch to see if you needed to finish the job. Before I passed out, I could smell your mistletoe cologne. Fortunately, someone started running towards the house. You ran off so as to not be discovered."
"Mister Barthelmess" Katt said sternly, "I want you out of my town, NOW"
Jobias sneered and pointed his gun at Katt. Fuzz quickly drew his gun. With one shot, he managed to knock the gun out of Jobias' hand. With a second shot, the gun was knocked further back.
"It's over, Jobias" Fuzz said, putting his gun back in his holster.
Jobias laughed maniacly, "I don't think so, Sheriff"
A lightening bolt smashed down onto the streets. The citizens all started scattering. Fuzz looked up to see three airships hovering overhead, each armed with Telsa cannons. The cannons fired around the street. Jobias pulled out a knife and grabbed a citizen that was running by. Holding her arm behind her back, he pointed theknife at her neck.
"BACK OFF" he called out
"CHRISTINE" Lunar yelled
Jobias looked to see that he had, indeed, taken the Duchess of Argyle as a hostage, "Oh good, maybe the Duke would be willing to pay for your ransom."
The telsa cannons fired in front of Fuzz, Tensai, Lunar and Katt, preventing them from getting closer. From the middle airship, a lift came down. Jobias, Christine, and the henchman got on the lift and headed up towards the ship. The airship turned and started heading towards sea.
Fuzz turned to the other three, "Lunar, you and Katt get the SWAT Team and get the citizens to safety. Tensai, you think you can take down those two ships?"
"Does a fat dog like to fart?" Tensai asked as she started to hover in the air.
Fuzz took off his holster and handed it to Lunar. "I'll get her back, I promise."
Tensai's beam hit one of the ships. Fuzz took the chance and ran towards the docks, as he did he transformed into the werewolf. He leaped and started climbing up the side of Avalance, Sputnik, and Lightfoot. Reaching the top, he judged the distance of the airship and leaped.
"You know, Your Grace" Jobias said, "I'm not that bad of a person. Really, I'm not. It's all Cornelius' fault."
Christine blinked and looked at Jobias with a puzzled look, "Who?"
"Cornelius, this furry I went to grade school with. Always having to be better than us. Always getting the better grades. I was human, the teacher should've recognized the superior intellect there."
Christine nodded, "Uh huh"
She looked over the side of the airship and noticed that they were just over Lighthouse Island.
"But, dont' worry," Jobias continued "All will be right. We'll go to New Babbage. I could take over there."
"I don't think so" Fuzzwolf snarled as he climbed onto the deck.
Three henchman ran towards Fuzz, trying to subdue him. Fuzz threw each one off the ship, one by one. each landed on a tree on Lighthouse Island.
Jobias looked at Fuzz, "So now what, wolf? Kill me?"
Fuzz took Christine by the hand and led her away from Jobias, "No" he replied, "I'm not like you, Jobias. I don't kill that which is different. It is not the way I am, it is not the way Steelhead City is, it's not the way Caledon is. None of us are like that. Except you. What we do is learn from that which is different."
Jobias laughed as he headed towards the stern, "What you failed to learn, Lycan. Is not to let me stand so damned close to the Telsa cannon"
Jobias grabbed the cannon, spun it around and fired. Fuzz grabbed Christine and jumped out of the way of the lightening bolt, which hit the bow of the ship, and the engine of the ship. The engine exploded and flames went up fast.
"Ok" Fuzzwolf said, "That was stupid."
"Next time, go for the bad guy, don't worry about me." Christine said
"Give me a break, I just got back"
Fuzz got up and extended his paw towards Jobias, "Jobias, come on. You'll be killed if you stay here."
Jobias pointed the cannon at Fuzz and glared at the werewolf. Another explosion sounded from below and some of the deck started to fall in. Fuzz grabbed Christine and headed towards the port side of the airship.
"Fuzz," Christine said, "We're over the ocean, now."
"Trust me." Fuzz said.
Jobias watched through the flames as Fuzz jumped off the ship. Christine screamed as the fell towards the water. Suddenly, a humpback whale surfaced and the two landed on it's back.
"Now," Fuzz said, pointing at the whale "can your 'Dear Edward' top my deputy?"
Christine laughed and hugged the lycan. The happiness was cut short as the airship exploded. The three watched as the wreckage crashed into the sea.
Christine looked at Fuzz, "What about the other two ships?"
"Two airships.....against Tensai" Fuzz replied
"Those poor men on those airships"
Fuzz looked at the whale, "Take us home, Sushi."
The Steelhead Hotel Ballroom
It was a time for celebration, no matter how late it was. All of Steelhead was in the ballroom, and some late arrivals from Caledon had come out, as well. Fuzz was telling all about his time in Ambertown.
"And Doc Caruthers" Fuzz told the group, "had help from a young guy by the name of Robert Ballyhoo."
"That explains alot." Darien said, his arm in a sling
"You were going to take a stand against Jobias?" Fuzz asked Darien.
Darien nodded. Fuzz held out his hand, as Darien took it to shake it, Fuzz pulled him closer and gave him a quick hug.
"Thank you" he said, then pulled a small cup out of his pocket, "By the way, the Sisters found this in Jobias' office. I'm presuming it was that mystical cup that demon was supposed to have."
Darien smiled as he took the cup, "There are members of my family who would be very happy to see this."
Over by the concession table, Purdie walked up towards Koen and smiled.
"Koen," Purdie said, "I want to thank you for all the help."
Koen shrugged, "No problem, sir. My family still in trouble over the time traveling?"
Purdie shook his head, "The continuum is back in order. I'm sure things are safe now. And besides, it's a party. Grab yourself a nice young girl and have some fun."
Koen smiled and ran off. Purdie looked to see Fuzz and Angelica walking towards him.
"You know she's going to kill us?" Purdie asked pointing at Angelica.
"She may kill you," Fuzz said, "I've already got a safe card in place."
"He wired Mama." Angelica said, smiling.
Purdie chuckled, then took a serious tone, "Jobias?"
Fuzz shrugged, "Sushi and a few of the aquatic residents searched the wreckage. No sign of him. He may've been dragged out to sea. But, we've got plenty of prisoners as it is. All his henchmen are in jail."
The three turned as Willard started squeaking real loud on the table, upset that his cell is now occupied.
"Oh shush and eat a cheese ball" Angelica said, she turned to Fuzz "So, all's well that ends well."
"No." Fuzz said, "When this whole mess started, the SWAT team had to check off all visitors who came into and left Steelhead City. Naturally, coming in on an abassador ship, Jobias had the diplomatic immunity and didn't have to check in."
"What are you getting at?" Purdie asked
"The night Hotspur disappeared, Sid Weezul came into Steelhead and left the same night."
A Deserted Warehouse, New Babbage
Sid Weezul looked at the bars of silver in the room. He grinned greedily at the fortune he could make, especially now that word of Jobias Barthelmess' demise had reached Babbage. His dreams of Caledon real estate was cut short by a banging on the door. Cautiously, Sid walked up to the door and opened it slightly to where he could see who was knocking. However, the door was forced open by the visitor. Sid looked up at the newcomer and laughed nervously.
"Sheriff Ortega" he said, "It's nice to see you. I heard you were in bad shape and..."
Sid glanced at the bars of silver and turned back towards Fuzz.
"You know," he said, "I came in here and saw all that silver and thought to myself, 'Hey, self, I betcha that's the stolen silver from that Steeltopian shipment.' So, there it is, you can take it back to Steel......" Fuzz grabbed him by the neck "OH BOY I'M IN TROUBLE"
"WHERE'S HOTSPUR O'TOOLE?" Fuzz snapped
"W..w...who? I don't know who you're talking about"
Fuzzball's eyes started to glow read and he let out a vicious growl.
"OK! OK!" Sid screamed, as the front of his pants became soiled "I'll tell you. He's been taken to some city."
"Celeste City, I think"
Fuzz let go of Sid and looked at the ne'er do well. "Celestial City?"
"Yea, that's it."
The local Babbage constables came running into the warehouse with Purdie and Angelica. Purdie pointed to the silver bars.
"And THERE's the Steeltopia silver shipment" he said
The constables took Sid into custody and led him out. Angelica walked over to her brother and noticed the worried look on his face.
"Brother," she asked "where's Hotspur?"
"He's been taken prisoner," Fuzz replied, "by the Dark Ocean Society."
Purdie looked at the siblings, "Dark Ocean Society?"
"He's being taken to Fusang, China. There the warlord of Fusang, Lord Lieng, is going to torture him, and eventually kill him."
Coming Soon: Steelhead Adventures: Return To Fusang