Monday, March 24, 2014
Overture, curtain, lights. This is it, the night of nights. The players have been introduced, the plot is rolling, the stage is set. That stage is Talbot’s Peak.
# # #
Out at the exit, the police release the Scooby Gang at dawn. They have no real charges to hold them on—everyone agrees Cochrane, currently MIA, was the only one with a gun—and the cops need the cells for the drunk drivers and brawlers that litter the strip every Saturday night. Even Barry receives a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. While the others were ditching their knives, he was flushing his last bag of Panama Red. Barry’s from California. He knows the drill.
The cast assembles at the far end of the cop shop parking lot: Atcheson (“Freddie”), Barry (“Shaggy”), Ted (“Comic Book Guy”), and Lowenstein (“Agent Mulder”). Atcheson tries Cochrane’s number and gets no response. Ditto for Maureen and Pete. He pockets the phone with a vicious oath, his face contorted in frustration.
“What now?” Lowenstein says. “Breakfast?” Ted asks hopefully.
“Screw breakfast,” Atcheson says. His eyes are glittering. This is his chance to seize command, and he grabs it with both hands. “We have to find Cochrane. The werewolf bit him. He’s a monster now, just like the rest of them. He has to die. For his own good,” he quickly adds, noting the expressions of alarm on the faces of his team. “Nobody wants to live as a monster. He’ll thank us, believe me.”
After a moment, they reluctantly nod. Like Ewan before him, Atcheson reaches the conclusion his partners aren’t very bright. That doesn’t dull the thrill of power becoming their new leader gives him. Hunting and killing monsters is what he was born to do. Especially the killing part.
He gives his first orders. “Cochrane’s bound to head for Talbot’s Peak. That’s where we need to go.” He gazes around the parking lot. The motel’s at least a mile away, and the van may not even be there. On the other hand, half a dozen cop cars are parked on the lot, just sitting there. “How are your hot-wiring skills?” he asks Lowenstein. Lowenstein wriggles his fingers and grins.
Ted stares longingly at the string of fast-food places that line the commercial strip, and sighs. There goes breakfast. Maybe they can stop for something on the way.
# # #
Already miles along the road to Talbot’s Peak, Cochrane floors his Chevy, throttles the wheel and grits his teeth. He got away from the alien bunny probe-free, only to discover his arsenal in the trunk was gone. Goddamn freaks. However, they missed the pistol and full clip of ammo he had hidden under the driver’s seat, and the three grenades in the glove compartment. That’s all he’s got left to wipe an entire town full of shapeshifters off the map.
And he’s naked. Again.
“Sons’a bitches,” he snarls. If that’s all he has to work with, so be it. They’re monsters. One way or another, they’re going to die. Vern and the Mayor first. He’s going to twist their heads off their necks with his bare hands. More satisfying anyway. As for the wolf boy, Cochrane can’t wait to beat his head in with the cast on his broken wrist. Wolf Boy gave him that cast. It has symmetry.
A rabbit takes a tentative hop onto the side of the road. Cochrane swerves to run it down. The rabbit makes a frantic dive back into the underbrush, inches ahead of the Chevy’s tires. The car rockets on up the road.
“They’re all gonna die,” Cochrane vows. Yeah, even the bunnies. Especially the bunnies.
# # #
Some miles behind Cochrane and ahead of the Scooby Crew, Ranjeet Patel, aka Pete, aka Silent Sam, drives his own stolen vehicle at a moderate pace along the road to Talbot’s Peak. His trained eye spots the “checkpoints” he’s been warned about. He keeps well within the speed limit. The wolf clan will have agents stationed all along this road. He does not want to draw their attention.
Zhere Ghan’s empire has long employed human servants, even before the tiger lord came to America. Ranjeet’s family has served the House of Ghan for generations. Somebody has to keep the poachers away from the tigers’ pelts. The Ghans were the first shifter clan to recognize the need to fight fire with fire.
Now the wolf lord, Damien Hancock, has stolen that idea. He’s found a human willing to turn other humans into beasts. Lord Ghan wants this human. Ranjeet is to see that he gets him.
The Doctor will not be in Talbot’s Peak itself, but those who know where he is will be. Ranjeet has a name and a species (Ewan the wolf) and a place to start (Dante’s bar). If Vishnu favors him, he will accomplish his mission without the need for violence. Violence is messy, and ruins one’s day.
Violence is what the Tiger Yakuza is for. At a single phone call a dozen ninja will swoop in and do what they do best, once Ranjeet provides them with a location. He himself will secure the Doctor. Some things must be handled personally, to ensure success.
He spots the gleam of saffron eyes by the side of the road, reflected off the headlights. He’s not worried. Cochrane will be travelling this same road, if he isn’t already. The man is insane, and so will make an excellent diversion. While the wolf lord deals with him, Ranjeet can slip in and accomplish his task.
He turns on the car’s radio and whistles along with the tune that comes on. One by one he passes the checkpoints, unhindered.
# # #
These are the pawns. The two kings in this chess game, Zhere Ghan and Dante, stand alert in their command centers and direct their men across the board. Dante gulps coffee. Zhere Ghan sips tea. No one knows where Damien Hancock is, or where he’s hiding his Doctor. Securing that knowledge is the top priority for both sides.
The sun rises on a Talbot’s Peak teetering on the brink of assault from numerous directions. Its populace has no clue. If Dante has his way, they never will. Zhere Ghan is less caring of the pawns. If some of them, including the Doctor, die in this skirmish, so be it. That’s all pawns are for.
# # #
Ewan and Maureen? They’re down in the kitchen of the Pleasure Club, feasting on sandwiches cobbled together from whatever’s been left over from the dinner rush. Maureen wonders if she’ll ever become a real werewolf. Ewan wonders if he’ll ever get to see her tits. They’re the only players on the board not looking to kill anybody. Poor bastards, they haven’t a chance.