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Chapter 5: One Long Horn, and One Big Eye “So let me get this straight,” laughed Digger. “You two tried to catch a guy who lives in his momma’s basement, and he trounces you by slapping a bell on his head?” Moth and Tatterdemalion glared at him from across the study in the Tower of Shadows. Hannibal King stood across a desk from Shroud who sat calmly in a leather chair. “Verde had been giving tech from the Headmen. From what you said about their hired guns and this Ruby Thursday, they sound like a bunch of nutcases.” “Or headcases,” said Digger. Percy Grimes snickered at the pun and Barton looked at him disapproving. “Don’t make me regret having you for a brother.” “What? It’s funny.” “It’s stupid.” “Enough.” Shroud’s voice filled the room as he got up from the desk. “The point is that we now know our enemy’s name. And that gives us a glimpse into their minds. Willing to give equipment to enable geniuses to continue their work, regardless of their own mental stability.” “Translation,” said Moth, sitting on a couch next to Jack. “A herd of mad scientists.” “And they wanted me,” finished Jack. “If they could figure out a way to control the wolf, no one would be…” Jack was interrupted by the sound of a ring tone going off. He instinctively reached for his pockets, but his phone was still on the desk where Hannibal had placed it. The Night Shift looked in confusion, and Hannibal looked to Shroud. Shroud nodded his consent, and Hannibal picked up the phone and accepted the call. “Hello? Who is this?” “Just a concerned citizen. Is that you, Detective King? I wasn’t expecting to hear your voice.” Hannibal knew the unmistakably voice of Tombstone. “Well, detective?” said Tatterdemalion impatiently. “Who is it?” Hannibal raised his hand to silence the room, then spoke. “How did you get this number, Lincoln?” “I have associates who have made it their business to know things about you, King. Including your connection with a certain LAPD detective. Would you like to hear from her?” Hannibal blood froze as he heard the sound of the phone being passed over, then the sound of a woman gasping for breath. “Hello? Hannibal? Are you there?” Hannibal’s grip tightened around the phone. “Terri? I’m here. I need you to stay calm, alright? I’m going to get you out of this, I swear.” “Hannibal! He’s told me that if you don’t get him what he wants, he’ll kill me. He wants Jake Russell. He says you know someone who can give him Jake Russell. You can’t trust him, Hannibal! Hannibal!” Terri’s voice faded out as the phone was handed back to Tombstone. “You will meet me at auto cemetery outside of the city. You will bring Russell and the Shroud. I see any of the rest of those freaks and we kill her.” The line went dead and Hannibal slowly lowered the phone from his ear. “What’s going on, King?” asked Moth. “What did Tombstone want? Who’s Terri?” Hannibal suddenly roared in frustration and smashed the phone on the floor, shattering it. “Hey! That’s my phone!” shouted Jake. Hannibal spun around and lifted Jake off the couch by his collar. “You! Why does Tombstone want you?” “Perhaps the Headmen have made a countermove,” said Shroud. “We attempted to capture Verde, so they have enlisted Mr. Lincoln to take one of our pieces.” “I’m not a piece!” shouted Jack. “I didn’t even want to be here!” “I don’t give a damn what you want!” snapped Hannibal. “I’m not letting these scumbags hurt Terri!” “And they won’t, Detective,” said Shroud. “Now wait a minute, boss!” said Misfit. “We’ve already got wolf boy. Now you want us to give him up to save a cop?!” Shroud let his sightless gaze fall over the room and the uneasy Night Shift. “This is not about saving a cop. This is about removing Tombstone from the game for good. Detective King, Mr. Russell. You and I will be meeting with Mr. Lincoln. Tick Tock, Dansen, and Digger will be accompanying us in reserve in case of a double cross. Moth and Tatter will stay here until you have fully recovered from the Verde incident. With Lincoln undoubtably bringing his muscle to the meet, it should leave his funeral home undermanned. So we shall not less this opportunity go to waste. Brothers Grimm, Misfit, Hangman. You will attack Tombstone’s headquarters and secure any more information on his organization and the Headmen. Needle, you are in command.” Needle nodded as Hangman glared at him. “Why should Needle be in charge of the op? He can’t even speak to give orders!” Shroud stepped toward Hangman until they were face to face. “Because I can trust Needle to follow my orders. And I know he won’t distract himself with pointless bloodshed just to amuse himself.” Hangman looked away and folded his arms. “I guess that’s it then,” said Hannibal to Shroud. “But you better be right, and we better get Terri back. Because if Tombstone kills her, it won’t matter to me how many freaks you have working for you.” Shroud looked at him stone faced. “Just remember that you work for me as well, detective. I will get your friend back. But I will not tolerate disrespect from anyone in my organization. Remember that.” Hours later, the full moon hung over a vast expanse of burned out and broken cars. Standing in a clearing was Tombstone and five of his men. A pick up truck with a cargo bed covered in shadows down the row of vehicles and game to a stop. Hannibal got out from behind the wheel and followed Shroud. “So, the famous Shroud,” said Tombstone. “I’ve been wanting to meet with you,” “Cut the crap, Tombstone!” snapped Hannibal. “Where’s Terri?” Tombstone motioned with his head, and two more of his men came out of the shadows carrying an unconscious Terri Lee between them, blindfolded, face bruised and wrists zip tied together. Hannibal tried to move toward her but was blocked by Shroud’s arm. “Don’t worry, Detective,” Tombstone said smugly. “She’ll live. Now, where is this wolfman I’ve been hearing about?” Shroud pointed toward the truck and the shadows disappeared to reveal the Werewolf in a cage, slamming against the bars and snarling. “Now,” said Shroud. “Give us Miss Lee and you can take Mr. Russell.” Tombstone gave a discerning look at the cage, smiling. “Not so fast. Let’s just appreciate all this. It looks so real, doesn’t it, boys?” The gangsters nodded. “But I think we might need someone to give this another look.” Another figure walked out from behind the wrecked cars. It was a man in a red unitard and yellow gloves and boots. But his head was a large eyeball. Several feet away from the clearing, Digger looked through a pair of binoculars. He was standing next to a van with Tick Tock, while Dansen weaved her spell on the roof. “You better start looking ahead now, Instagram. We might have a problem.” At that same moment, the Brothers Grimm crashed through the roof of the Lincoln Funeral Home. With a swift gesture they summoned to clouds that floated to the roof and brought down Needle, Misfit, and Hangman. Misfit roared and leapt off of the cloud, charging into the room. But stopped short when he saw that no one was there. “Aw, man,” he said disappointed. “I wanted to bust some heads in.” Needle smacked him with the flat edge of his blade, and Misfit spun around and glared at him. Needle pointed at the Brothers, then toward the door leading to Tombstone’s office. Percy reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigar. Barton shook his head and groaned, but pulled out a lit candle. Percy set the cigar in the keyhole of the door, then Barton lit it. The cigar smoked for a few seconds then exploded, taking the door off it’s hinges. Then gunfire blasted out of the doorway. The Night Shift ran for cover as Bushwacker emerged from the office with 6 gangsters. And behind them was Doctor Bong, with golden sphere raised. “I told you!” he cried over the chaos. “The Headmen know all! Hail glorious science!” “Shut up and kill the freaks!” Bushwacker snarled, taking aim with his gun arm. In the auto cemetery, Orb set it’s singular gaze on the cage and the growling Werewolf. “Scans indicate this cage is empty,” he said mechanically. “Whatever you are seeing is an illusion.” Tombstone sneered at Shroud. “You think my partners didn’t tell me about the powers your girl used on their men? Nice try, but not good enough. Kill the bitch!” “NO!” Hannibal drew his gun and opened fire, hitting one of Terri’s captors in the side. “Dansen! Now!” shouted as he encased the clearing in shadows. Dansen stopped her dance and the Werewolf in the cage disappeared. “Let him go!” she yelled to Digger, and he flung open the door in the back of the van. The Werewolf leapt out and charged howling toward the clearing. “Alright, fright fans! Let’s wreck these guys!” shouted Digger gleefully as Dansen climbed off the van. “Digger! Wait!” cried Tick Tock. “Somethings not right! Something’s coming! It’s…” The van exploded in a ball of fire. The Night Shift were thrown to the ground, with Digger smashing into a windshield. He looked up into the sky to see two men on hovercraft. One had the head of a giant pool ball, the other like a jack o’ lantern. Both fired missiles from their crafts then sped off to the sounds of gunshots. Hannibal swung his pistol and smashed it against a gangster’s head, then he grabbed Terri’s arm and tried to get her to the safety. But Orb stood in his way. “Let me take a look at you, Detective,” he said fixing it’s eye on Hannibal. Hannibal tried to look away, but could only stand and stare, as the eye began to glow with a dangerous light. Suddenly Shroud delivered a kick to Orb’s back, then a strike to his helmet. “Detective! Get Miss Lee to the truck!” Unfortunately, two missiles destroyed the truck as Jack O’Lantern and 8-Ball flew into sight. “You can’t leave now!” 8-Ball said as he flipped off his hover craft and landed in front of Shroud, twirling his pool cue. “We just want a little action!” He jabbed the pool cue into Shroud’s gut and the force sent him flying into the rows of cars. “Ooh. Sorry, bad break.” “Stop playing around and let’s finish the job!” hissed Jack O’Lantern. The sound of a howl cut through the chaos, as the Werewolf clambered up a makeshift hill of cars, leapt off it and tackled Jack O’Lantern off his hovercraft. Tombstone turned to his men. “Let’s move! Let the Headmen deal with these freaks!” OK: Shroud, Hannibal King (peak human), and Werewolf all at full strength. All other Night Shift are either immobilized or fighting with Tombstone’s men at his hideout. Jack O’Lantern, 8-Ball, and Orb all at full strength. Game On!