When last we left our heroes, they had cleaned up the last of the Notorious Bronson Gang. But before they even got a chance to receive their laurels, let alone rest on them, a mission of the upmost urgency was placed before them: Get to New York City and thwart a kidnapping!
A hard three days of riding, stopping only to rest or provide maintenance on the horse, tank and bear culminated in a record in speed as Marshals Lightning Jack, Octavius Wilhem and Wendall Kane entered the city that never sleeps. Wired with electrodyne powered devices that lit the streets, they dimmed as dawn approached. Zepplins, both private and public, moved through the sky between towering buildings where docking ports could be found on each. Gangplanks were strewn like webs across the alleys and the citizenry were already beginning another day of work. For our heroes, it hadn’t ended.
Along the way, the telegrams from High Command lifted the fog of secrecy and the Marshals learnt that their destination was toward the centre of the Electropolis. Specifically toward a warehouse and apartment. Upon arriving, questions raised by Kane and Jack as to the involvement of local law enforcement were answered by way of an abandoned Police Velocipede. The answer was further punctuated once they entered.
The inside of the warehouse was a mess of paper, furniture and shattered glass. The glass, as well as the copper tubing, wires and tools were quickly deduced by Octavius to be part of a lab. A lab meant to harness the power of Zeus, no doubt. And upon further investigation it seemed that a struggle had taken place. A suspicion confirmed when Lightning Jack found a trail of blood.
Following the macabre trail, the trio ended up in a kitchen. But it was not breakfast that awaited them. A member of the New York constabulary had been gut-shot and abandoned, the stubble across his milky pale skin evident that he had suffered for at least a day. As Octavius engaged his mechanical arms to provide aid, the stalwart policeman informed them that he was among many who had been summoned in light of a disturbance that had concerned the neighbours. A gun battle between the upstanding law enforcement and six black-coated individuals had not seen a victory for New York’s Finest and indeed the fellow attempting to plug his stomach with his hands had turned out to be the only surivivor. Fortunately he had wrestled a zepplin ticket stub from the nefarious malcontents as they escaped with their victim– none other than Nicola Tesla!
After making contact with Police Headquarters by way of a fixed telegraph line, the three delayed no longer in pursuing Tesla and his ill-moraled manhandlers. Learning from the policeman that they possessed either German or Russian heritage, it was easy to infer that their destination was the international airship sailing for Europe within the hour. Salvaging what little rest they could Thunderbolt, mecha-enhanced steed, Octavius’s single-tread tank that was just small enough to bear the weight of his iron-fashioned armour, and Smokey, Kane’s bear and boon companion, spirited them to the Chrysler building where, even now, the airship was making ready to embark.
A quick journey on the travellator produced our heroes on the top floor of the building where the docking gantry was located. Unfortunately the airship was soon not to be as only one tether held it in place. And it was a tether being unfastened by unwitting accomplices in the form of docking personnel. Kane quickly made his way to them to resecure the line while Octavius, producing an arm with a grappling gun, made to secure his own. Jack, seeing the matter of anchoring the vessel was in good hands, put her feet to work and the legendary grace and agility saw her skitter up the line before the docking personnel could hear what Kane had to say. After producing credentials, buried under the Mountain Man’s tangled knots of hair, orders were quickly relayed to the airship to cease its ascent and return to the dock. Orders that were ignored as the engines increased in speed and caused the line to snap taught with an aching groan. Unfazed by this, Jack levelled her trusty lightning coil pistols at the main propellors and sent a blast into its workings, reducing it to smoking ruin. It was at this point a hatched opened and a grenade was dropped on the docking area!
Quick to react, all of our heroes escaped harm but the line was not so fortunate. It snapped and then it was only Octavius who held the airship in place! As possessed with a genius that produced such wonderful inventions, the German-born lawman knew that he would be unable to hold the zepplin for long. But he did hold it long enough for Jack to swing to the last remaining line and slide back to the relative safety of the docking platform. Sure enough, the airship escaped but with it’s main engines crippled, it had only its manuevering propellors with which to assist it. A snail’s pace that would afford the marshals the opportunity to return to their mounts and make trails to the nearest airport.
Comandeering the plane proved no challenge for Wendell Kane, his burly build reason enough to obey his commands before he even produced his credentials and, aboard a civilian aircraft, he, Jack and Octavius took the skies. However, even with the celeritous pace the marshals maintained, it had afforded their quarry the opportunity to put considerable distance if not away from the city, then certainly above it. For the plane, it proved no challenge to climb higher. For a zepplin, the grim fact known by Octavius is that it can’t afford to climb to high lest frost from the upper reaches of the heavens form on the vessel, creating extra weight or putting undue stress on the canvas that may see it plummet. With time being the measure of desperation and desperation being the provocateur of innovation, the marshals bad farewell to the plane’s crew and passengers and hurled themselves out the hatch, aimed squarely at the airship itself!
Octavius, once again fastidiously prepared, secured his landing by way of a parachute secured within his armour, and effected steering courtesy of the aforementioned grapple gun. Jack and Kane, possessed of no such device but plenty of wits and strength, hit the canvas and quickly secured themselves from hurtling into far deadly circumstances than the zepplin’s gondola. A mammoth journey between continents requires a mammoth vessel and, fortunately, the canvas itself was a hive of smaller balloons of gas inside. It also had gantrys and platforms to facilitate travel and repairs of each balloon as well as a hatch atop the canvas that our heroes made good use of. They were inside!
Exiting the balloon and arriving in the topmost section of the gondola, Octavius quickly confirmed that they were in a maintence level. Below that was crew quarters which, if the schematics remained true, would provide entry to the bridge of the airship. And indeed it did, though it was locked. Fortunately Octavius was able to defeat the mechanism and the marshals burst into the room to be confronted with the reason why the airship had refused to land: Two armed Russians.
Guns trained on the crew, one of which provided a human shield for the coward brandishing the firearm, the Russian kidnappers were unknowing that they had been boarded until the instant the door was flung open, but they were prepared to use the hostages to engineer their evil ends. Fortunately Jack and Kane were prepared as well. Jack dived, came up out of a roll and fired the lightning coil guns that saw the hostage freed in a flash of ozone. What grace Kane lacked was more than made up for with directness and strength. One quick dash and a mighty right hook propelled the second Russian straight through the glass of the bridge and into the equally strong grip of gravity. The crew, grateful for the assistance rendered, answered Jack’s questions. The location of the Russian’s cabin, no doubt where Tesla was imprisoned, was learnt. So to was the condition of the airship’s passengers and crew. Finally the Marshals learnt about the remaining Russian rapscallions retiring in the recreation room. The information were the threads from which a plan was fashioned. Using a maid’s outfit, Jack would infiltrate the room for intelligence while Octavius took position at a door opposite to her egress. Kane would be ready to charge in when the time arose. A time that quickly came as, upon Jack’s entry, the remaining four Russians were quick to take her prisoner!
Quick they may have been but quick is a snail’s pace for Lightning Jack. With no aid forthcoming from the remaining passengers, all bound and gagged, Jack produced the lightning coil guns and put them to work. Octavius burst through the second door but, while in the possession of magnificent weaponry of his own design, it was not meant for such delicate work. Fortunately he trained his machine guns safely above the hostages and above their Russian captors and produced a flying wall of lead that saw the fur-capped fiends diving for cover. Kane, eager to leap into the fray, found his foe in the form of the Russian’s leader: A giant of a man with a bald scalp but a mountanous beard as luxurious as the fur coat he wore. And accessorising the coat was a contraption of steel and leather, with dials and gauges across his chest and wires that culminated in a button affixed to his hand. Kane, not possessed of learning that nature had not otherwise intended, still recognized the dire consequences of that button being pushed and, allowing no further catastrophe, hurled the Russian through the nearest window and into the open sky. Jack finished the last of the Russians and a hearty cheer was taken up by the hostages upon their release. Octavius located the secured and drugged Tesla and the airship made ready to return home, a return swiftly halted though.