The lovely blonde could not contain the horrified gasp that escaped her carmined lips, raising her free hand to her mouth. The leader of the Order of Cain laughed diabolically, as he moved closer to her. Ms. Madison cringed back, the hood falling from her head. The leader reached out, taking hold of Ms. Madison's head. The blonde could not help but tremble.
"Afraid?" he chuckled mockingly.
"Let's see," Ms. Madison sighed. "I'm in a big Gothic building being menaced by guys in big black robes. Of course I'm afraid, it's all down to being trapped in a Gothic novel."
"Funny girl," another of the monkish figures observed.
"I try to be," Ms. Madison smiled. "Now, shall we get down to brass tacks? You've killed my colleagues, and now you need to deal with me."
"Why?" the leader shook his head. "You know only where our secret temple is. This isn't even our secret base. That's not even in this country. You know nothing."
"I know enough," Ms. Madison smiled cutely. "Like the fact that you hold no deep, dark secret about the early years of Christianity."
Every man there started. Ms. Madison laughed softly, shaking her lovely head.
"Got you there," she grinned.
"Well done," the leader laughed. "How did you discover that?"
"Looking through the records," Ms. Madison replied. "You sent your goons round to attack us when we hadn't enough to trace what secrets you held."
"And you guessed that it wasn't because of a hidden secret, but because that was all there was?"
"If there'd been a real secret," Ms. Madison laughed, "you'd have removed the papers about that. Therefore there had to be something in the papers we had. You were just running a neat little scam on gnosticism, weren't you?"
"Not 'just,' my dear lady," the leader laughed. "The poor stupid fools have paid for their own destruction! Seven million dollars from California alone!"
"Which means that your cosmic crime has to do with America," Ms. Madison smiled gently.
"I've already said too much," the man replied. "Sadly, you have to die." He raised his gun, and Ms. Madison prepared herself for death, as she heard the man's fingers close on the trigger. She imagined the terrible jolt that would come as the hot lead ripped through her innards.
"If you fire," a familiar voice broke in on the scene, "your death will take weeks. Not hours, not even days. Weeks."
"The Green Man!" the men of the Order of Cain fell back.
"That's right." The familiar figure in Green strode into the main body of the Church. "My associate and I had the foresight to hide at the rear of the church when we found that death device of yours. It was a couple of your own people who got cooked.
"Yeah," Andrea moved forward, covering them. "So don't try anything else."
"You're finished!" the Green Man snarled. "Put down that gun!"
The gun clattered to the floor. At the same time, however, the floor opened up to receive the leader of the order, while his brethren went for their guns. As they were gunned down, the leader vanished.
"You could have shot him!" Ms. Madison exclaimed.
"I could have." The Green Man nodded. "But the time isn't right. We have yet to know what this cosmic crime is."
"Still, Ms. Madison sighed. "This one thing's for certain. "After Samuelson brings out his book, no-one 'll be giving any money to the Order of Cain."
"We don't know if the world will last that long." Andrea's voice was doom-laden