Saturday, May 31, 2008

No Rest for the Wicked: Part Two

The taxi swept through the gates of the great house, up a drive that had clearly seen better days. Lady Sylvia looked out at the park and wondered whether her brother had bought or rented the house. Perhaps he had even inherited it, for Lord Ambrose Vaughan, second son of an Earl, was a man of mystery, even to his own family. His long absences from the family circle were put down sometimes to business trips and at other times to random holidays. Maybe Greyminster Park was another of his little hideaways, known to few, but now disclosed as he used it to advance through the ranks of society. Certainly her elder brother was a clever man, although this he seldom showed, preferring to appear the perfect aristocrat, relaxed and charming, verging on lazy.

The house proved to be a rather plain building, shrouded in ivy. Lady Sylvia stepped out onto a well-kept forecourt, the driver opening the door for her. There by the door was the smiling figure of Lord Ambrose Vaughan.

"Ambrose," she hurried up to him. "Is it true you're standing for the Parliamentary division?"
"And why not, Sylv?" he smiled, "after all, father was an MP for years, wasn't he? It's not like its a full-time job or anything. Besides, Greyminster's always been held by the other side, so it's not like it's going to be more than a little fun. But what 're you doing down here? I thought you were relaxing at Mainstone with your pals after that regrettable incident in Wales."

"I was," Lady Sylvia nodded earnestly, "but the Green Man called and told us to go up to Greyminster."

"Oh." Lord Ambrose's eyes widened. "Did he say why, sis?"
"Nothing." Lady Sylvia shook her head. "At least, Lynette didn't say anything. Do you know why, Ambrose? I mean, you are in contact with local politicians, aren't you?"
"Sylv," Lord Ambrose chuckled, "in my experience, local politicians are the least likely to know the sort of things the Green Man is interested in. Of course, if you'd like to help with my campaign..."
Lady Sylvia rolled her eyes in disgust.

Friday, May 30, 2008

No Rest for the Wicked: Part One

The town of Greyminster, Nottinghamshire, takes its name from the two most notable things about it. First, the rather attractive Early English chuch that stands by the railway station; second, the fact that it is one of the most boring places on earth. The main employer used to be the local coal mine, but after that closed in 1993, the local economy stalled completely, promises of unlimited wealth produced through the manufacture of string vests failing to bear fruit.

As Lady Sylvia Vaughan stepped off the train, she looked up at the lovely church and smiled, glad to be somewhere other than Mainstone Park, and not in immediate danger of her life. She had left Ms. Madison to complete the journey by car, with Sparrowhawk, who remained unhappy at the idea of using public transport. She assumed that there was more to the recovering herione than met the eye, but there was little she could do to find out what that was.

Pausing by the luxuriant flowerbeds outside the station, Lady Sylvia picked a flower and put it in her hair, smiling and full of the joys of spring. A flashbulb popped and Lady Sylvia started with a yelp of surprise, before turning, adopting a fighting stance.

"Lady Sylvia Vaughan?" a man with a notepad and paper approached the dark-haired aristocrat. "Greyminster Telegraph. Are you here to supply glamour to your brother's campaign?"

"Campaign?" Lady Sylvia's jaw dropped. "Whatever are you talking about?"

"The by-election," the reporter shook his head, smiling. "There's no need to be shy, Lady Sylvia, after all, it's in the public domain. Why, the Association announced its choice yesterday. I take it you're on the way to Greyminster Park to join the campaign team?"

"I... I don't even know what you're talking about..." Lady Sylvia turned very red indeed, trembling a little. "I ... I've been away for a long time..."

By this time the man was scribbling away busily, and Lady Sylvia hoped that this wasn't going to appear in the paper. As fast as she could, she hailed a taxi, her mind awhirl.
"Greyminster Park!" she announced nervously.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


The turrets and battlements of Mainstone looked out over the park as they had for generations. Lord Ambrose Vaughan, the owner of the ancient mansion, was absent seeing to family business in Cheshire, while a number of the servants were on holiday. Not that the house was empty, for Lady Sylvia, Lord Ambrose's sister and Ms. Madison, her colleague in the work of the Green Man, were enteraining. They had visited the local market town most days, with a strange fellow guest.

The blonde girl had treated the world around her like a stranger in a strange land. She had been glued to the television, and found the computers that had had to be installed in the old house utterly fascinating. Now, dressed in a strange leather costume, the blode was sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace.

"This is odd," the blonde shook her head. "I mean, the world's changed so much. Loads of people have died I thought 'ld never die. How come you can accept this?"

"Because it happened slowly to the rest of us," Ms. Madison laughed. "Hawkie, you were in a semi-coma for ten years. The rest of us lived through the little changes that led to this world."

"Okay," Sparrowhawk sighed. "But I still thought some people would notice. Not even the Green Man has made that much of a difference."

"He'd disagree." Lady Sylvia piped up. "He'd just say that it isn't the low-hanging fruit who he goes after. "It's the big men, the kingpins. The men the law can't touch."
"And that's a good thing," Sparrowhawk nodded. "I didn't mean to be rude. Before I was hurt I was going after big people as well, with a few friends. I'm hoping to look them up again. But right now I need a bit of a rest." She sighed, stretching idly.
The insistent ringing of the 'phone caused Ms. Madison to shoot out of her seat and pick up the receiver.
"Mainstone." She spoke with a crisp efficiency. After the receiver chattered for a moment, she turned to her friends.
"Less rest, I'm afraid," she announced, "I just got a request to go to Greyminster Park, Nottinghamshire. It's urgent."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Thirty

Standing at the foot of Pen Dinas, the Green Man and his allies looked up at a sky darkened by the smoke that still poured from the ground. Sparrowhawk left her father's side and walked up to the Green Man, still looking up at the column. She stopped by the Green Man's side, before taking hold of his arm.

"It's been a long time." The blonde bombshell sighed langourously, resting her head on his shoulder. "Do you remember?"

"Sparrowhawk, please..." the Green Man looked down sternly at her.

"Okay," Sparrowhawk shrugged her shoulders, an air of regret about her. "So I'm a bad girl. "But you can't blame a girl for trying, can you? After all, it's only yesterday for me that you last held me."

"You can be trying." The Green Man shook his head. "But there's another one now, Sparrowhawk. You've been gone for almost a decade. I had to move on."

"My own doom." The masked blonde looked up to the sky, trying to sound light and bantering. "You know, I'm fated to be alone."

"You can't be that way," the Green Man's voice acquired a tone of reproach. "Sparrowhawk, you can't force a person to love you, not even by being upset and petulant."

"Doesn't stop it smarting." Sparrowhawk looked into his eyes again. Raising one hand, she drew off a long black gauntlet to reveal a slender hand, raising it to the face of the Green Man.

"No." The Green Man brushed it away. "That's over, Sparrowhawk. There's no 'us' any more. We can be friends, but there's someone else..."

"KJust friends." Sparrowhawk sighed wearily. "Story of my life. Still, you were all great back there. Maybe I'll see you again sometime. After all, now I'm back in business, aren't I?" She looked back to her father.
"Whatever you want, darling." Sir Richard shook his head, smiling wryly. "And I think you knew that from the start."
"Guilty as charged." Sparrowhawk laughed. "Girls?" she looked first to Ms. Madison, then to Lady Sylvia, "shall we go - I've got a decade of shopping to catch up on."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-Nine

The Green Man moved like a flash, knocking aside the man who had drawn a gun on Sparrowhawk. His fist smithereened a man's jaw, and the shot went wide. He looked to see whether Sparrowhawk had been hurt, only to see her knock a man out with a jolting high-kick. She made eye contact with him for a while before knocking out another man. She laughed, a fresh, exhilarating sound, as she carved a swathe through the ranks of the wicked. Bending, the Green Man picked up a fallen gun. Ms. Madison did the same, while Sir Richard Arcos let out a whoop of joy, as he laid into the Grey Tabby's men. Lady Sylvia and the man in the brown trechcoat both displayed surprising martial arts abilities, as they dived into the battle beside Sparrowhawk.

"You fools!" The Grey Tabby shouted, urging his men on, "kill them! Kill them all!"

"No dice, Tabby!" Sparrowhawk spoke before the Green Man could do so, at the same time as she kicked a technician into a bank of computers with enough force to knock some stuff onto the floor. Lady Sylvia knocked him out with a blow to the back of the neck.

"Why I had you kidnapped I'll never know..." the Grey Tabby snarled, "you hell-cat."

"Temporary mental abberation, old chap?" Sir Richard laughed, at the same time pounding a man into a pulp. "That's always my excuse, of course." He reached the table on which their things were, retrieving his cane.

"You show an annoying talent for disrupting my schemes." The Grey Tabby glared at the little group of adventurers.

"We try." The Green Man shot a man who was drawing a bead on Sparrowhawk. "You can't win now, Tabby. Give up!"

"Give up?" The Grey Tabby laughed grimly. "No, Green Man, I do not give up." He pushed a button on the control panel. The floor opened beneath him, and the villain laughed, as he vanished. Ms. Madison and the Green Man fired, but it was too late. He was gone, and, moments later, the massive generator was shaken by an explosion.

"Self-destruct!" the Green Man pulled Ms. Madison towards the exit. "If we don't hurry, we'll die!"
The small group of heroes hurried for the exits, followed by the remaining mercenaries. As they emerged onto the hill, the ground split in places, smoke pouring out. The mercenaries surrendered to the Green Man's party. Ms. Madison leaned back against the column, her face streaked with smoke.
"Did we just win?" she asked.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-Eight

The waves continued to mount, as the Green man and his companions watched in horror. The Grey Tabby paced up and down, looking at the screens, then back to the radion receiver, which reamined stubbornly inactive.

"Do you think he'll do it?" Sparrowhawk looked to the others, her blue eyes wide and concerned.

"Yes." The others nodded as one.

"Okay..." Sparrowhawk shook her her head, "so he's really bad news. Perhaps that's why I was allowed to wake up. Maybe this is the moment I prove my destiny. I thought it was..."

Before she could enlarge on that pont, and before anyone could say anything else, the radio buzzed into life. The Grey Tabby hurried over to it, while his goons kept a watch on the Green Man and his party.

"This is the Grey Tabby," the feline felon pressed a button on the console, "who calls me?"

"This is the Department of Justice..." the voice began.

"It's a fake!" Sparrowhawk laughed, "I mean, maybe we Americans have a department wit that sort of daft name, but Britain..."

"There've been a lot of changes, dear." Sir Richard Arcos looked pained. "Sadly, there is now a Department of Justice, with a Justice Secretary. And no, he doesn't answer the 'phone for Batman, Superman and Wonderwoman, even if he sounds like he should."

"Speak!" The Grey Tabby's voice was a threatening snarl.

"We do not pay blackmailers," the voice declared. "If you have political demands..."

"The only political demand I have," the Grey Tabby's voice was low and poisonous, "is that you face the people who will die as a result of your stupidity. Professor Hughes, you will activate the device."
"No!" the Professor backed away from the his creation. "I won't..."
A gun spoke, and the professor pitched to the ground. The Grey Tabby turned back to the radio.
"You will soon reap the reward of your stupidity," he laughed harshly, as he pulled a couple more levers.
Suddenly, Sparrowawk moved, turning to face an armed man with only her gloved fists. The Green Man let out a cry of alarm, as the blonde bombshell's fist made contact with the man's jaw. A gun roard somewhere behind them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bolasted Past: Part Twenty-Seven

Descending to the main hall of the bunker, the Green Man and his party found themselves re-united with Lady Sylvia and her trench-coated associate. She hurried to the side of the Green Man, while the man in brown saluted his chief apologetically.

"You said to keep her out of it," he conceded, "I tried, but it looks like I was too clever for my own good. Who's the lass in the Sparrowhawk costume this time?"

"Belive it or not," the Green Man looked up from comforting Lady Sylvia, "you're looking at the genuine article. Somehow she staged a miraculous recovery."

"Sure she's not a plant?" the man took a step towards the party. "I mean, last time anyone checked, Sparrowhawk was in a nursing home, apparently the victim of permanent amnesia. I don't mean to be a suspicious type, but..."

"You can't beieve that?" Sparrowhawk gasped.

"I don't." The Green Man nodded. "Sir Richard Arcos confirms that this is Sparrowhawk. I'm disposed to believe him. Somehow she's snapped out of her state. It can happen, you know, given time..."

"Quite." Sparrowhawk glared at the man in brown. "Now, maybe you'll want me to prove it to you personally. Like my breaking both your arms."

"Definitely the genuine article," the man laughed, "the famous Sparrowhawk tenderness. What do we do now?"

"Now," the Grey Tabby spoke once more, "now you see what spineless fools the governments of Great Britain and Ireland are. They will pay, if they value human life."

"And if they refuse, dear boy?" Sir Richard Arcos raised one quizzical eyebrow.

"Then the deaths of thousands will be put to their account." The Grey Tabby turned to a couple of technicians. "Begin to warm up the device."

They pulled a few levers, and the great chamber shuddered for a moment. On massive screens above them, waves started to lash the promenade. A look of supreme amusement crossed the ruthless viage of the Grey Tabby.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-Six

The gathered fighters for law, order and justice had little choice but to raise their hands and surrender their weapons. Hawkie made to thump one of the armed me, only to have almost every gun point at her. She sighed, smiling sweetly.

"A girl's got to try, hasn't she?" the blonde bombshell shrugged her shoulders.

"They told me you were dead." The Grey Tabby took a step towards the girl in leather. "And then I found out you were a mental vegetable. Now I find that the half was not told me."

"The smell of scum must 've brought me round." Sparrowhawk smiled mischievously.

"And with a line in insults, too." The Grey Tabby took hold of Sparrowhawk's arm. "You seem to be a most talented young lady. Almost worthy of those who bore your name in the past.. Indeed, you look like the one that my father met in Las Vegas."

"Come to the point." Sparrowhawk shook her head. "What's all this in aid of. I mean, you can't destro Ireland from here, can you?"

"Things have changed since you entered your coma, my dear," the Grey Tabby led her into the column, the others following. "In the first place, I recently almost destroyed London twice over. Do not undersestimate me, Sparrowhawk. The Green Man will inform you that is a mistake. Under here I have a seismic generator capable of creating a tidal wave large emough to swamp the entire East Coast of Ireland, and overwhelming Dublin in the process."

"For which you expect to be paid a vast amount of money." The Green Man spoke up. "It won't work, Tabby. The governments of the world don't pay blackmail."

"Even when the lives and property of millions are at stake?" The Grey Tabby chuckled. "My dear Green Man, you know as well as I do that all the anti-terrorism rhetoric is a pose. But you may be right. In which case I hope you took a good look at the town. It may have been the last time you saw it."

The Grey Tabby laughed, as he led them into the bowels of the earth.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday Supplement: Called Home

Sir Richard Arcos writes: After a long and somewhat regrettable absence, necessitated in oart by the return of my eldest daughter from the grave, so to speak, I decided to visit a little church in the South somewhere. I forget exactly where. I visited this place in the company of said daughter, although she left her supero costume in the wore jeans and a leather jacket instead. She still got nasty looks, but that wasn't my point. Now, where was I... oh yes, the church.

There was a notice-board outside, of the sort that most churches have. This one included one of those funny statements that churches have been known to have, you know, the sort that says there are 'open and affriming'. This one said nothing of the kind:

We are an exclusive and aloof church. We only
welcome the sort of people we like, and that
varies on a day to day basis, so if you get the
cold shoulder, please don't bother coming back.
Sparrowhawk made a face at this, and tried to give the steward a piece of her mind. That caused even more friction, as the dear thing has an American accent, on account of her having been born and brought up there. Apparently they don't like Americans. In fact, if you're not English and middle class, you might as well not attend, as they tend to move when they find out. As we discovered. Still, this was journalism, so we stayed. And Sparrowhawk stopped someone from moving by putting them in an arm-lock.
We sung a few hymns, all written by Victorian English middle-class writers. Most of them were so forgettable that I can't remember them. But Sparrowhawk says that's partially creeping senility. She may even be right. The sermon was a fifteen minute discourse on the virtues of being middle class and British, while the whole service ended with the singing of 'The English are best' at top volume.
I would have talked to some people over coffee at the end of the service, only Sparrowhawk knocked someone out when they made a remark about her clothes. I'm going to have to have words with the lassie.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-Five

The Green Man, Ms. Madison and Sir Richard drew their guns, ready to return fire should any target present itself. Sparrowhawk drew the whip from off her belt, a look of fierce intensity crossing her face. Ms. Madison felt a little stab of unease at what she could see from the girl in the leather costume.

"Do you have a gun?" she hissed to the American girl.

"Never carry one," she replied brutally. "Too noisy. And I don't kill. I've done that far too much in the past."

Ms. Madison let the matter drop, afraid that otherwise this strange girl might hit her. For her part, Sparrowhawk continued to scan the woods for a trace of their attacker. The Green Man's gun roared, and a man fell out of a bush, clutching his heart.

"He will not bother us any more." The Green Man led the way out of the cover, heading back up towards the great column that topped the ancient hillfort. "Where did you say the entrance was, Sir Richard?

"I didn't." The country squire smiled languidly. "But follow me, watch and learn."

"Did you have to kill him?" Sparrowhawk looked sternly at the Green Man. He did not answer her. She pouted and looked away as well. Ms. Madison shook her head, wondering what was going on between the one-time couple.

Sir Richard led them to the summit of the hill, to the great column which dominates the scene. It was designed as a monument to the Duke of Wellington. Originally, it was to have been topped off with an equestrian statue of the Duke, but that was never placed. A decade ago, it had been struck by lightning, and traces of new cememnt still indicate where that was.

"Here," Sir Richard smiled, reaching up and pressing a stone with his cane. A door swung open, revealing a spiral staircase that led down into the bowels of the earth. "I found out about this little hidey-hole a long time ago. It was supposed to have been deactivated and sealed off, but, as you can see..."

"My dear Sir Richard..." the malign tones of the Grey Tabby caused the four adventurers to turn. There, surrounded by armed men, was the elegant figure of the Grey Tabby.
"You have shown admirable insight," the Grey Tabby chuckled. "All of you. And I see that you have even brought back my straying hostage. Well, now you will have a ringside seat for my triumph. Bring them." The armed men fanned out, their guns levelled at the little party.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-Four

"The what?" Sparrowhawk looked up at her father with blig blue eyes. The look that crossed Sir Richard's face suggested that he could not have denied her request even if he had wished to do so.

"My dear child," Sir Richard sighed. "Just because of all the things you have done, you don't know everything. In fact, as I recall, there was a time when no government wanted you to know anything - especially about nuclear bunkers."

"Just because someone came up with a dumb idea about surviving a nuclear war," the girl in leather rolled her eyes, "that didn't mean I was some Greenham Common girl. After all," she struck a pose, "I'm a hell of a lot prettier than them."

"Speaks my dear daughter," Sir Richard shook his head. "But the fact remains that you were not aware of the final refuge for the British Cabinet that happens to be buried under that old hill-fort up there." He pointed to the towering bulk of Pen Dinas. It was abandoned years ago, the entrance tunnel sealed with concrete. Nothing was said, since the place is listed, and there would have been the most awful stink if anyone had found out. Of course, I may be wrong, but it seems to be the obvious place for a super-villain to set up home."

"At least, in the absence of an extinct volcano," Ms. Madison added. Sparrowhawk laughed, catching the girl's eye.

"Let's begin, in that case," the Green Man strode towards the mighty hill, looking up at the column that topped the mighty hill.

The quartet began to climb, Sir Richard keeping pace with the younger people, in spite of his years. He smiled, swinging his cane and whistling. He had exchanged his bowler and dark suit for tweeds and a flat cap, giving the impression that the venerable squire was out for a shoot - he probably was, but the quarry was human. And villainous at that.

"We can extect to avoid any guards for a while," Sir Richard led them up the hill, to a leafy path leading towards the top of the hill. "This is a popular place for walkers. Of course, there is the problem of the fact that two of us are obviously not casual walkers and what have you. I suggest that I take the rear, and the Green Man the van. - Meaning the front, before you crack any jokes, young lady," he looked sternly at Sparrowhawk.

"Boo," she stuck her tongue out at her father. "You used to be more fun, daddy."

"I used to let you get away with murder," Sir Richard shook his head. "Are you all right with the three of us blasting any bad guys were happen to find?"
"I'll try not to be too disturbed by it," Sparrowhawk shook her head. "But I still think we don't need to kill in most cases. Break a few bones and they can't then hurt you."
Sir Richard led them off the path suddenly. A shot winged overhead.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-Three

The Green Man parked his car in the centre of Aberystwyth. Walking up to the bridge that led to Trefechan, they passed the rear of the towering, and now derelict, Tabernacle Chapel. Sparrowhawk looked up at it with curiosity.

"I'm sure it used to be open," she observed.

"It closed in 2004," the Green Man told her. "When you were attacked outside the front, it was a working chapel."

"Did I leave any bloodstains?" she giggled as she asked the question. "I mean, can you still see...?"

"That isn't an appropriate question." The Green Man sighed. "As I recall, you were never this odd before...."

"I hadn't been in a coma for the best part of a decade," Sparrowhawk shook her head. "What 're we looking for?"

"We're looking for information about where the Grey Tabby's lair is," the Green Man addressed her, Sir Richard and Ms. Madison. "He'll have to have built some sort of infernal machine to do what he's threatened. That means that deserted chapels or country houses would be the most obvious places. But he have his orders here in Trefechan."

"Maybe they know in the pub?" Sparrowhawk looked over the road to a building with a stucco front.

"Lassie," Sir Richard sighed wearily, "that isn't a pub, it's a notorious sink of iniquity. A bloke got a knife stuck in him there. It isn't the sort of place nice girls go to."

"News for you, daddy," the masked girl leaned on his shoulder. "I'm not a nice girl - I'm Sparrowhawk."
"You're also my daughter," Sir Richard smiled. "Now," he turned back to the Green Man, "what would the Grey Tabby need if he was to have a lair here?"
"He would need one safe and secure, something that could weather anything. A nuclear bunker, for example."
"I thought so," the Squire smiled impishly. "And there's a secret nuclear bunker located on Pen Dinas." He pointed to the towering hillfort.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-Two

"Good afternoon," Sir Richard smiled, as he bowed to the armed man. "To what do we owe the pleasure, dear boy? After all, it's not every day one gets approached by an armed man in this land of ours. Although sometimes it does become a little monotonous - don't you think so, my dear?" He turned to Ms. Madison, his tone languid and conversational.

"'Ere..." the man begun, brandishing his gun.

"Yes, it's a gun," Sir Richard sighed wearily. "I think it's got a longer name, but I can't remember it right now. Suffice it to say, the thing goes bang and kills people." The elderly squire shook his head, a bantering look in his blue eyes. "But they are a little bit boring. I mean, you point them at someone and they have a terrible tendency to end all conversation. Of course, Freud would have told you that there was an explanation for why people carry them, but I can't tell you, seeing that there is a lady present."

The man looked at Sir Richard in mute incomprehension. His gun wavered for a moment, as he tried to understand what the elegant gentleman was saying.

Ms. Madison took the opportunity to mick the man's hand. He cried out, hanging onto the gun. Ms. Madison de;livered a straight left to the man's jaw, before grabbing the man's wrist and smashing his hand against a wall until the man dropped the gun, his hand a bloody mess.

"Jolly good," Sir Richard smiled gently. "Now that the nasty gun's gone away we can have a proper conversation. "Who sent you?"

"I won't tell you!" the man screamed, going pale.

"That means it's a really big baddie," Sir Richard spoke to Ms. Madison. "Do you think it might be the Grey Tabby? I mean, he hasn't shown his dear old whiskers in a while, has he? In fact," Sir Richard looked back at the man, "the way he's looking now, it seems that I was right. Where were you hired?"

"I won't tell!" The man raised his voice in panic.

"Then I'll take you somewhere and introduce you to my charmingly violent daughter," Sir Richard's voice was a languid drawl. "After a little while, you'll tell her. Probably while you pick up your teeth." He smiled worryingly.
"Trefechan!" the man yelled. "I met the Grey Tabby in a pub in Trefechan! I think his Headquarters is there somewhere!"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-Two

Ms. Madison accompanied the patrician figure of Sir Richard Arcos through the little town of Lampeter. She removed her 'phone from her handbag, only to have it tell her 'no network'.

"Lampeter, my dear Lynette, is the land that time forgot," Sir Richard drawled languidly, "no mobile 'phones and what have-you. It's really rather relaxing. If this were all over, I think I'd have you and my dear daughter join me in a tea-room somewhere."

"You really care about her, don't you?" The classy blonde sighed deeply. "I guess you must feel a bit annoyed, the Greem Man not letting you know..."

"Not at all, my dear," the Squire smiled wistfully. "She'd 've kept it from me as well. She always wanted to keep me from being hurt. That's why she put on that mask in the first place, after all. But we're not here to discuss my rather strange daughter, but to discern some nasty baddies, while my daughter beats the truth out of someone. Now, where are we?"

"Lampeter High Street," Ms. Madison checked the nearest street sign, smiling impishly.

"I had suspected as much, lassie," Sir Richard smiled. "Shall we go to a tea room and partake of caffienated beverages while my daughter and your employer do all the hard work?

"You're insane!" Ms. Madison giggled. "However do your family put up with you?"

"That, at least, is easily explained," Sir Richard indicated to road that led up to the Anglican Church. "They look at the vast quantity of boodle that has attached itself to me over the course of my somewhat hectic life, and resolve to tolerate me so that they can get their dear old mitts on the stuff. Shall we toddle up to the church?"

"It's not Sunday yet," Ms. Madison shook her head, "and as far as I know, St. Peter's Church, Lampeter doesn't have any eccentricities."

"But it may have an elderly ecclesiastic who knows everything that's going on in this 'burg, old dear," Sir Richard placed his free hand on Ms. Madison's arm. "Rest your head on my shoulder, and everyone can think I'm a very bad man."
Ms. Madison giggled again, shaking her head.
"What are you like, Sir Richard?" she removed her arm from his grasp.
"No-one else on earth, my dear," Sir Richard smiled gently. "Which is why the bad guys really can't understand me. Here's one now, my dear..."
Ms. Madison saw a man with a gun step out of the shadows.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty-One

The Green Man and Sparrowhawk paused in the sitting room of the hotel. There, on the television screen, was the menacing figure of the Grey Tabby, standing in front of a grey concrete wall.

"If my demands are not met," he told the audience, "then the East Coast of Ireland and the West Coast of Wales will be destroyed. The price is fifty billion pounds - I do not care where that money comes from, whether you rich people who have retired to Tywyn and Aberdyfi, businesses, or the Government. As long as I get the money, I don't care." And, with that, the signal faded and normal service was restored.

"Okay..." Sparrowhawk drew back, eyes wide, "is it just me, or is that guy a total whack-job? Do you know him?"

"We have met before," the Green Man's voice remained impassive. "The Grey Tabby is one of the most ruthless super-villains in the world today. He has even tried to use nuclear weapons."

"Gee!" Sparrowhawk gasped, "and I though the guys I've fought were bad, but none of them ever tried to use the bomb. He's obviously bad news. Let's stop him."

"Still the same Sparrowhawk..." the Green Man sighed. "You don't seem to have been at all affected by the last ten years."

"That's 'cause I wasn't conscious for most of it," she smiled sweetly. "Besides," she caught hold of his arm, "weren't you looking after me?"

"Sparrowhawk..." the Green Man gave her a stern look.

"Okay, so there's another," she let go of his arm. "You can call me Hawkie, by the way. All my old friends do." There was a note of some disappointment in the voice of the masked blonde.

"I'm sorry, Hawkie," the Green Man shook his head. "But I'd given up on your ever recovering a long time before I met her. You'll like her."

"I'll try to despise her," Sparrowhawk laughed. "Where do we go from here, pal?"

"The centre of it all," the Green Man spoke calmly. "We go back to Aberystwyth. And we find out whether your father and Ms. Madison have found out anything in the town."
"Race you there!" Sparrowhawk broke into a run.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty

Falcondale mansion, located just outside Lampeter, is one of the most relaxing hotels in Ceredigion. Built by the philanthropic Harford family, they enjoyed the house and its grounds for just under a century, before the estate was broken up, and the house sold. For some years it was an old people's home, although it has now become a hotel, noted for its civilised surroundings. Not that the man in one of the rooms overlooking the lawns was relaxing, as a snarling Sparrowhawk kicked him about the room.

"You're going to tell me why you snatched me," she told him brutally, "so why don't you just spare yourself any more pain and cough up now. Of course, if you want me to rearrange your face, then I'm delighted to do it, after what you creeps did to me!"

The man gasped, as he was knocked against the chest of drawers. Sparrowhawk waited for him to get up before she kicked him again, this time in the face. The man spat blood, as his lip split.

"Feeling more talkative, jerk-face?" she laughed, moving closer to him. "'Cause I can keep this up all night. And you won't like it. "That I can promise."

The man shook his head, an action which earned him a straight left to the jaw from the lady in leather. She laughed, as his blearly eyes looked up at her, before bringing up a knee into a sensitive area.

"Word of warning, pal," she sighed, "I've just woken from a ten-year semi-coma. That means I've got a lot of catching up to do. Especially when it comes to thumping people. Don't expect this to get any easier. And don't expect to pass out at any time, 'cause I know what I'm doing."

"All right!" the man wailed, "I'll tell, just don't hit me any more! I was hired by some scientist guy in the town. I helped him get the blonde kid into a car, that's all I know, I swear it!"

"Didn't your mother tell you not to swear?" Sparrowhawk smiled, before knocking the man out with a high-kick.
"Well done, Sparrowhawk," the Green Man stepped into the room. "But did you not promise not to hit him?"
"When?" Sparrowhawk smiled cutely. "He asked me not to hit him. I never replied. Now, where do we go from here?"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Twenty

"Aberystwyth," the Grey Tabby chuckled, "is located more or less in the centre of Cardigan Bay. Using the curve of the bay to focus the seismic tremors, I shall direct a tidal wave of terrifying force at Ireland. That wave will have sufficient force to destroy Dublin, as well as most of the East Coast of Ireland. Of course, the act of focussing the seismic energy will have the unfortunate side-effect of destroying every living thing on the West Wales coast, but I imagine that the British Government will pay handsomely to avoid that possiblilty."

"They won't pay..." Lady Sylvia lifted her head.

"Then they will DIE!" the Grey Tabby brought his fist down on the nearest desk. "Do not forget, girl, they know what I am capable of!"

"And if they don't pay, you can't use the same threat again," Lady Sylvia shook her head. "With so many dead."

"I will not need to," The Grey Tabby sighed. "There is an elite mercenary group ready in Africa, and they will conquer what remains of Ireland for me, to become my republic of crime. So, you see, I have covered every eventuality."

"And why did you snatch Sparrowhawk?" Lady Sylvia looked confused. "You must have known that her disapperance would bring the Green Man here."

"I had hoped to have a bargaining chip," the feline felon sighed, "but the dolts who snatched her allowed her to get away. Not that that should harm us, given the state that girl's been in for the past decade. But enough of this, I must broadcast my demands to the governments of Britain and Ireland."

"Fifty Billion...?" Lady Sylvia shook her head, "it's impossible."

"When governments can spend five billion pounds a month on a war in a distant land?" the masked mastermind chuckled. "Once my threat is known, they'll have no choice but to pay. Remember, Professor Hughes can build the device I have spoken of. He offered the plans to the British Government, but they rejected it on the grounds that no-one should have access to such a device."
"Think of the casualties..." Lady Sylvia began to plead with the villain, but he only laughed.
"They will be the responsibility of those who refused to pay." The tone of the Grey Tabby was brutal. "Prepare the generators."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Blasted Past: Part Nineteen

Lady Sylvia came to in a room light entirely artifically. She sought to clear her muddled head, shaking it. Still, all she could remember was a house in Lampeter and the smiling face of the Grey Tabby. The super-villain's smiling visage re-entered her view, as he noticed that she was conscious once again.

"Back with again, my dear?" the feline felon chuckled. "I would say that I am sorry to have had to treat you this way, but it would be a lie. Ever since you foiled my plans to create an independent republic of London, I have wanted to be revenged on you, Lady Sylvia Vaughan..."

"You know your plan would have failed," the young aristocrat smiled. "Besides, now with Boris in charge, who'd want to live in your ciminal state?"

"That, my dear, is no longer relevant, party-political propaganda aside." The Grey Tabby chuckled menacingly. "For my plans have now changed. You are being held in my new secret lair, under Pen Dinas, Aberystwyth, to witness my triumph."

"And what made scheme do you have ready now?" Lady Sylvia spat defiance, glaring at the masked mastermind. "To turn Wales into your criminal haven?"

"Nothing so mundane, my dear lady," the Grey Tabby turned to a screen on the wall. I intend to blackmail the Biritish and Irish Governments to the tune of fifty billion pounds."

"That's a ludicrous price!" Lady Sylvia's eyes widened. "What could you possibly threaten that would be worth that sort of money?"

"That is simple, my dear," the Grey Tabby's smile widened. "With the help of Professor Cadwgan Hughes, I have consyructed a massive seismic generator - the project that Cardiff University discharged him for even suggesting. That generator is located beneath us. And if my demands are not met, then that generator will be used."

Lady Sylvia gasped in horror.