Then, without warning, the lights went out. The great control room fell silent. All Ms. Madison could see was the red LEDs of the countdown. Then, slowly, that, too faded from view. Cries of dismay rose from the men of the Order. Loudest among them was the leader of the Order.
"No!" he yelled, "This cannot be! Emergency power!"
Ms. Madison heard someone throwing switches, the sound of frantic activity. The leader began to curse his men, as the lights did not come back on. Then, as suddenly as they had gone out, the lights went back on, the machinery of the base humming back into life. Moments later, the countdown blinked back on, resuming from where it had left off.
"Get that countdown adjusted!" the leader cried, "those bombs must explode at exactly the right time for maximum effect!"
Ms. Madison offered up a silent prayer to heaven that the countdown might be delayed, that the bombs would do the least possible damage. But the Order's workers were easily able to adjust the numbers, until the countdown stood at a mere fifteen seconds. She felt panic rise in her breast, as the Order's leader resumed his laughter.
"Ten..." a member of the Order began to verbally count down "...nine ... eight ... seven ... six..."
Ms. Madison prayed hearder than she'd ever prayed in her life.
"Five... four ... three ... two ... one ..."
"The Order f Cain Triumphs!" the leader crowed, as the countdown reached zero. "Show the destruction on the monitors!"
"There will be no destruction." A grim voice echoed across the control room. The leader turned. Ms. Madison laughed with relief.
"The Green Man!" the leader exclaimed, "it...it can't be!"
"Leader!" one of the technicians looked up from his control panel. "The bombs have not exploded! The radio signal didn't go out!"
"You're missing this." The Green Man produced an odd-shaped piece of circuitry from his coat.
Ms. Madison let out a cry of joy. Two of the guards of the Order rushed the figure in green. He crew a gun from his left pocket, and shot them down. With a third shot, he removed Ms. Madison's hendcuffs.
"There will be no trimph for the Order of Cain." The Green Man dashed the piece of electronics to the ground. "The moment is over. Copies of the map you left at the Mission have been received by the US government. Your bombs will be found."
While he spoke, Ms. Madison hurried to one of the dead men, picking up his gun. She covered some of the Order.
"Get the redhead over here." The Green Man gestured to one of the trembling men of the Order.
"You may have won this battle," the leader snarled, "but the Order of Cain will commit the Cosmic Crime in time."
"No." The Green Man took a step towards him. "Since I discovered your existence, I have determined that your order is one of the evils from the pit - and I shall send it back there!"
He fied a shot into one of the consoles, which burst into flame.
"I have set the self-desturct mechanism on this base into motion," the Green Man announced. "I have also disabled the doors. My friends and I will use the one escape pod. You will perish by fire, just as you planned to slay millions. Farewell."
He picked up Andrea and walked calmly through the door, locking it behind him. As he and Ms. Madison stepped into the Escape pod, a huge explosion rocked the base. It buffetted the tiny craft, as it floated to the surface. Ms. Madison and the Green Man traded relieved glances.
Sat on the beach, slowly tanning, Ms. Madison smiled at the still concealed Green Man. With Andrea in hospital for observation, she and the Green Man were alone.
"Andrea said you stopped a bullet,"she noted. "How comes you're fine?"
"Bullet-proof waistcoat," the Green Man told her. "It gave me the opportunity to do some sabotage while the Order of Cain revelled in their triumph."
"Do you think the Order's destroyed?" Ms. Madison pressed on.
"Frankly, no," the Green Man shook his head. "The Order's power is broken, but there will always be zealots who see religious enlightenment in stepping into the shadows."
"And there 'll always be the Green Man to stop them," Ms. Madison smiled.