8FOLD/ACRA: Jolt City # 11, Mystery of the Two Green Knights!

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 9 00:36:32 PDT 2007


Martin (Green Knight) Rock has been framed by Jolt
City's corrupt Assistant District Attorney, Jack Fisk,
for the murders of Dr. Fatima Tarif and narcotics
officer Danielle Handler (the woman Martin may or may
not love).  As he awaits trial, he is held at the
Earbox Prison for supervillains.

The powerless Martin survives in the brutal, deadly
prison, making friends with Gallery, Chemist, and
Whistler-- three enemies of Jolt City's other resident
hero, the speedster Darkhorse.  He also receives
frequent visits from Pam Bierce, the woman competing
with Dani Handler for Martin's affections.

He is told by a mysterious second Green Knight that
Fay Tarif is still alive, and that Dani Handler exists
in an ambiguous place between realities.  With the
assistance of Gallery, Chemist, and Whistler, Martin
escapes from Earbox, intent on clearing his name,
putting Fisk and druglord Samson Snapp behind bars,
and bringing Dani-- who has now learned his secret
identity-- back from the dead.

That's when Darkhorse appears-- taking down Martin's
allies.  Now he turns his attention to Martin Rock...

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   # 11 SEPTEMBER 2007 
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   Darkhorse follows up his first punch with another,
sending Martin flying through the air again.  He
lands, several yards and a split-second later, in the
   His entire face hurts, not to mention the rest of
him.  He's not sure how many more of Darkhorse's
patented two hundred mile per hour punches he can
take.  As Darkhorse instantaneously closes the small
gap between them, lifting him into the air with one
deft hand and socking him with its sleek black twin,
the answer pops into his head: at least one more.
   Martin hits the ground again, the breath expelled
from his body with a forcible thwomp.  The station
wagon-- presumably the get-away car the other Green
Knight has arranged for him-- gets farther away with
each punch.  Not that the car would have any chance
against the speedster anyway.
   But neither does Martin.  Darkhorse should be able
to knock him out with a single punch, the same as he
did with the others.  Without having the question
asked of him, Darkhorse answers it as he hoists Martin
up again, drawing back his fist:
   "The other guys got off easy.  They never killed
anyone."  His eyes glint menacingly in the moonlight. 
"And Danielle Handler was a friend of mine."
   He sends his fist forward.  Martin flies through
the air, but this time, at least, he's prepared:
throwing his head further back, he manages to roll the
blow into a midair somersault.  He lands on his feet,
the lace-less prison shoes digging into the wet mud, a
few paltry feet from the speedster.
   This defiance seems only to increase Darkhorse's
anger.  He rushes towards Martin.
   Martin drops to the ground, hugging the mud.
   Darkhorse immediately sets his molecules vibrating,
and immediately they snap back to reality.  He trips
over Martin, flailing in the mud at super speed.
   It'll be a few seconds before he can right himself.
 A precious few seconds that Martin's going to use.
   He springs to his feet and breaks into a sprint. 
Darkhorse is already back on his feet.  There's no way
he's going to outrun a speedster.
   Sure enough, he feels a fist dig into his back. 
It's like a piston, striking hard and fast.  Even as
his back curls in on itself in excruciating spasms,
Martin is propelled forward.  He falls on his face,
right next to the car, on the passenger side.
   The door opens.  "Climb in."  It's Fay.
   Martin nods and climbs into the passenger seat,
closing the door.
   Darkhorse will be upon them in a matter of seconds.
 His molecules shudder as he pours on the speed,
intent, no doubt, on vibrating safely into the car and
out again, with Martin in tow.  Martin smiles as those
shimmering molecules, unbeknownst to the speedster
himself, snap back to finite muscle and sinew.
   "Brace yourself," says Martin.
   Darkhorse collides with the side of the car.  The
glass shatters, the metal creaks, and the car itself
flips over from the impact.
   Martin falls to the ceiling as the glass pours in
his face.  Should have had my seatbelt on, he muses
grimly as the car continues to roll.
   In the confusion and tussle and the searing sharp
pain, he sees the figure of Darkhorse flying through
the sky before falling back to earth.
   The car comes to a stop, landing upright.
   "Are you okay?" Martin asks.
   "A little scratched up," says Fay.  "But a damn
slight better than you, I think."
   Martin pulls a hunk of glass out of his cheek. 
With his fingertip, he touches the wound, while his
tongue swishes about inside; he ends up licking his
finger.  "I'll be fine," says Martin.  "Which is more
than I can say for the car."
   Fay turns the ignition and shifts the car into
drive.  "Who says we don't have a car?"
   "But it rolled three or four times," says Martin.
   "That it did."
   He stares at her.  "You built it?"
   "Damn skippy, I built it."
   "I could kiss you, doc."
   "Maybe later," says Fay.  "Blood's kind of a
   "Fine," says Martin.  "Drive over towards the
   She does so.  Gallery, Whistler, and Chemist are
up, though still groggy.
   "Get in," says Martin.
   "What happened to you?"
   "I got hungry," says Martin, "started chewing on
the window.  Now get in."
   They do so.
   "Who's the frail?" says Whistler.
   "Frail?" mouths Fay in disbelief.
   "Dr. Fay Tarif," says Martin.  "The woman I
murdered.  Doctor, could you swing over that-a-way?"
   "Rendezvous is this-a-way."
   "I need to check on Darkhorse," says Martin. "I
want to make sure I didn't kill him."
   "What'd you do?" says Gallery, a little awed.
   "I sat in the car," says Martin.  "Then he ran into
   "Always said he was an idiot," snorts Whistler.
   "The first one was way smarter," adds Gallery.
   Soon, they pull up to the spot where Darkhorse's
body has fallen.
   "Hurry, Martin," says Fay.  "The guards are piling
out now.  They'll be here soon."
   "Good," says Martin, as he removes his fingers from
the unconscious speedster's pulse.  Strong vital
signs, a lot of bleeding though, lot of broken bones. 
"That means they'll be able to get him to a hospital."
 He climbs back into the passenger seat, his entire
body aching (his back worse than the rest of it), and
he shuts the door.
   Fay drives on.
   "So, who are we meeting?" says Gallery.
   "Green Knight," says Martin, and the name is sour
in his mouth.  "Don't worry.  He won't touch you.  I
give you my word."

   Convinced of his solitude, Derek Mason pulls off
the Green Knight mask again, wadding it up in his fist
like a rag and mopping the reams of sweat off his
face.  He lifts the high-tech goggles onto his
forehead and dabs at his eyes.  He doesn't know if
he's nervous or not; he always sweats when he wears
the mask.  (Maybe he's always nervous when in
   He sets the goggles back into place and pulls the
green featureless face on, the thick foam hiding the
shape of the goggles, the goggles hiding the shape of
his face.  He sits atop a suped-up unicycle, hidden by
the conspiratory trees.
   Finally, the soft ghostly glow of Fay's headlights
float into the thicket like bubbles.  The car comes to
a stop and its occupants begin to climb out.
   "Why are they with you?" says Derek, nodding
towards the three villains.  (He recognizes the
Chemist, even without a costume.)
   "They're the ones that helped me escape," says
Martin.  "They're harmless."
   Derek dismounts and jogs over towards Martin,
pulling the older man aside.  "Geez, you look like
   "You should see the other guy," says Martin.
   "So," Derek says quietly, "what are we going to do
with them?"
   "Let 'em go."
   "Let them go?  But they're escaped supervillains."
   "So am I," says Martin with a grin.  "I made a deal
with them.  They didn't sell me short, I won't do the
same to them."
   Derek broils inside.  "You don't have a right to be
making deals with the enemy.  That's not the way it
   "You're going to tell me about what I have a right
to do?" says Martin incredulously.  His voice becomes
low and fierce.  "You've got no right to that mask."
   Derek flinches inside, but the faceless mask
betrays nothing.  "Okay," he says after a while.  "So
we let them go.  But I only have three unicycles."
   "What about the car?" Martin glances back at Fay,
who stands against a tree some yards away.
   "The plan was to leave it here," says Derek.  "Cops
will be looking for the car, while we're going to Jolt
City on the bikes."
   Martin turns towards the three villains, who have
opted to hang back near the car.  The Chemist has
begun to freak out again.  Gallery holds him as his
body continues to spill out the magic paint.
   Whistler stands taciturn and quite alert.  "We
   "We're cool," says Martin.  "This is where we part
ways, though.  You're welcome to the car if you want
it, but I'd be very careful if I were you.  Maybe
Gallery can whip something up.  Either way, I suggest
you lay low and live clean.  The Green Knight here
won't come looking for you... unless you go back to
being crooked.  Then he'll hunt you down.  Are we
   The villains readily agree and pile into the car. 
They pull off, the headlights gradually disappearing. 
Martin turns towards Fay and Derek.
   With his night-vision goggles, Derek can see the
determination etched into Martin's bloodied-and-bruise
   "How do we get Dani back?"
   "Get on one of the bikes," says Fay.  "I'll explain
en route."

   The unicycles hum electronically as they are
jet-propelled at sixty miles per hour.  Fay's voice
screeches into Martin's ear through his helmet
   "We're going to Dani's apartment.  You've said that
you've had visions of her, right?"
   "Yeah.  Like she was drawn to me."
   "She is.  She exists between multiple plains of
existence.  Somehow, you're serving as a kind of
beacon, or a magnet-- drawing her to our reality.  If
I were a gambler, I'd say it's the implant in your
neck.  If there's anyway to call her back for good,
it's you."
   "So why her apartment?"
   "It's the scene of the crime," says Fay.  "Where
they tried to kill her.  Some essence of her still
remains there.  It's that trace of her that Fisk was
going to use as evidence in the first place.  It's the
part of her that's the strongest on this earth-- and
so I figure it'd be our best chance of pulling the
rest of her back."
   "What if you're wrong?"
   Fay goes silent for a moment.  "Then I'm sorry--
truly and deeply sorry."
   Martin nods grimly.

   They park the unicycles behind Dani's building;
Derek shows Martin how to lock the unicycle
magnetically into place, how to set its anti-theft
mechanism, and the password they need to unlock it for
their use.  "This the Proctor company?" Martin says
under his breath.
   "Hmm-mm," says Derek.
   Fay clears her throat.
   "I had Dr. Tarif add some bells and whistles, of
   "Of course."  He turns to Fay.  From the look on
her face, she's expecting a compliment.  She doesn't
get one.  "Neck's starting to throb," he complains. 
"Is it supposed to do that?"
   "I really don't know."
   "Once we get Dani back, I'd like it removed, as
soon as you can," says Martin.  He then adds: "I don't
like having some gadget imbedded under my skin."  He
turns and stares at Derek.  "I like my life
uncomplicated.  Not big on all," he swipes his arm
towards the unicycles while punching the access code
to Dani's apartment with his free hand, "on all this."
   The door refuses to open.  Martin punches it in
   "They might have changed it," says Derek.  "Here,
let me."
   Martin moves aside.  Derek reaches into his utility
belt and produces a device vaguely resembling a
drafting compass.  He inserts a pointed end into the
keycard slot.  He presses a button, and a whirring
sound emanates from the box, followed by six chimes.
   Derek removes the device and opens the door.
   "How's that work?" says Fay, her interest piqued.
   "Probes its memory for the sequence that's been
repeated the most.  Assuming more people know the code
than not, it punches in that sequence automatically."
   "Proctor make that for you, too?" says Martin as
they start up the stairs.
   "No," says Derek.  "Cradle Industries."  He tries
to invest these words with enough import, to try and
see if Martin takes the bait, if he'll confirm what he
knows and (perhaps) admire his skill in figuring it
out.  He realizes almost instantly that he might be
laying it on a bit thick, that it might come across as
menacing when he didn't mean it to do so.
   Either way, Martin betrays nothing.  He doesn't
need a mask to hide his thoughts; he has a perfectly
chiseled poker face, made more obtuse by the purpling
bruises gathered like daisies upon his eyes and
cheeks.  "You're making a lot of friends," he says.
   Derek doesn't know what to say to that.  He should
be silent, but is compelled to throw a useless "Yeah"
into the mix.
   Martin stops suddenly, and motions for Derek and
Fay to do the same.  He pivots his body silently so
that he can face them.  He brings a finger to his lips
and, convinced of their silence, begins to mouth the
words: back down slowly...
   That's when Derek sees the gorilla with the fish
bowl on his head, appearing behind Martin.  Derek
points to get his attention.  Martin turns around too
   The simian's fish connects with Martin's already
battered face, sending him flying down the stairs. 
Derek leaps towards Fay, pressing her between himself
and the wall as Martin bounces painfully past them. 
He gets a heady whiff of her musky sweat, far more
salacious than any perfume.
   The gorilla's coming down the stairs.  Derek can
see now that his helmet is filled with water.
   "Go," he says to Fay.
   She runs down the stairs.  Derek stands his ground.
   The gorilla screams, but the sound is not
recognizably simian.  Rather, just an outburst of
bubbles filling his helmet.
   The gorilla's bearing down on him now.
   "Look out!" says Derek. He pushes forward with all
his might, intending to use his opponent's own weight
and momentum against him.  A well-executed judo throw
should send the simian flying.
   Unfortunately, this judo throw is not
well-executed.  The gorilla crushes Derek with his
weight, and now they both fall down the stairs,
rolling painfully down like a furry green snowball.
   They hit the floor, the gorilla (thankfully) taking
the brunt of the blow.  Derek, his head pounding,
scrambles to get to his feet.
   Too late.  The gorilla grabs him, pulls him down,
has ahold of him, has control of him; he's being
lifted into the air.  He wriggles and kicks but to no
   He's flying now, being thrown towards Martin and
Fay.  Fay darts out of the way.  Martin stands poised
and Derek catches him in the bread-basket.
   The Green Knight falls to the floor.  "You should
have moved."
   "And let you break your back against the wall?  You
can thank me later."
   Martin takes a deep breath and leaps towards the
gorilla, feet first, aimed for the gorilla's leathery
belly.  Derek wonders what the old man is doing; the
gorilla's already getting ready to intercept.
   That's when Martin bears his weight downwards and
back, sliding under the gorilla's legs head first.  As
soon as his arms are clear to move, Martin grabs the
tufts of the gorilla's back fur and pulls himself up
its back, quickly righting himself.
   Martin grabs ahold of something behind the fish
bowl, climbing up onto the gorilla's back, and the
gorilla swats at him.  Martin wriggles with agility
that belies his age, missing each massive swipe of the
paw, each swipe getting progressively slower and more
sluggish than its predecessor.
   The gorilla whirls around madly, and Derek (still
on the floor, still winded) can see an air tank.
   The ape sinks to its knees, then falls forward. 
Martin continues to apply pressure for a tense moment.
 Then he releases the small tube running from the tank
to the fish bowl.
   Martin checks for a pulse, then he starts to fiddle
with the settings on the tank.
   Derek gets up on his feet.  He hopes Fay will ask
Martin what he's doing, but she seems to understand it
just fine.  With a casualness that he hopes doesn't
reveal his ignorance, he asks: "What's going on?"
   "I can't cut off his water supply completely," says
Martin.  "So I'm turning it down to a trickle.  Enough
oxygen will get to his gills to keep him alive, but
not so much where he can be much of a threat."
   "What about the water in the helmet?" says Derek.
   "That's a common mistake," says Fay.  "Fish extract
diatomic oxygen that's been dissolved in the water;
the oxygen atom present in the water molecule is not
suitable for respiration."
   "You see, the water molecule has a very strong
covalent bond and..."
   "Okay, okay," says Derek wearily.
   "Let's go," says Martin, heading back up the
   "So, he's a fish?"
   "Not exactly," says Martin.  "He's from..."
   He stops again, half-way up.
   Derek sees two more gorillas with fish bowls
standing on the next floor.  They are armed with
something resembling harpoons, and they are dressed in
   "...Apelantis," says Martin.
   The Apelantians aim their harpoons.  Martin slowly
starts to back down the stairs.  He doesn't need to
tell Derek and Fay to do the same.
   The Apelantians throw back their arms.  Their
muscles tense.
   A door creaks behind them.  Four gun shots ring
out, blood ripping through the Vibra-Jackets.  The
Apelantians fall forward, quite dead.
   Dani puts her gun in its holster.  "Hiya, hero."
   "Dani!"  Martin rushes up the stairs and trips over
his feet, falling forwards.  His chin collides with a
stair step and his teeth squeeze his tongue painfully.
   He doesn't move.  Dani and Derek both rush towards
him, the former stepping over the furry cadavers.
   "He's out cold," says Derek.  "He still has a
pulse, and he's breathing."
   He looks up at Dani.  She's smiling at him.  "You
should try to disguise your voice," she says, softly. 
"Come on.  Let's get him inside."
   "Okay," says Derek, putting his hero-voice back
into place, even if there's no point in doing so.

   Martin comes to on Dani's couch; she's holding an
ice pack to his bruised face and swabbing the inside
of his mouth, cleaning out the blood.
   "You should go to a hospital."
   "You've said that before," says Martin.  "Did I
ever listen to you?"
   "Got a reason this time, though," says Martin. 
"I'm wanted for your murder.  And Fay's."
   "I know."
   "How much do you remember?"
   "Very little," says Dani.  "I remember you were in
the prison."
   "Do you remember anything about your attackers?"
says Martin.
   "No," says Dani.  "All of the sudden, they were
there, they grabbed ahold of me, started shaking me. 
And then I was-- in-between everything."
   "That could be what happened to everyone else,"
says Fay.  "I think it's too late to save them now. 
Your connection to Martin, or he to you, and the
implant in his neck, or something, I dunno: it drew
you near him.  And once he got closer to you, to the
   "I came to and I heard the commotion," says Dani. 
"So, he-- uh, the Green Knight-- said you said this
was Apelantis...?"
   "Looks like them, anyway," says Martin.  "They live
under the ocean, what they call the Aquatic Ape
Empire.  They try to invade the surface world every
few years or so, claim it's their birthright, but they
usually don't get much farther than the coast.  Never
this far inland."
   "That's probably why they had the Vibra-Jackets,"
says Derek.  "They put them on in Apelantis or
whatever, and they vibrate into a friendly reality,
they march on through, and they vibrate into our
   "That would be the connection to Snapp," says
Martin.  "The big thing you said was going down."
   "But why start their invasion in Jolt City, if that
is what they're doing?" says Fay.  "Makes no sense to
invade the middle of a country.  Makes even less sense
to invade a city that's-- I mean, I love it to death,
but it's not exactly New York or Washington.  Not
particularly strategic.  I mean, what do we have
that's so valuable?"
   "And why so many in this apartment?" adds Martin. 
He takes the ice pack from Dani and applies the
pressure himself.  "Dani, fill up your tub with water.
 Cold water.  And I'll need a list of everyone you
know that lives in this building.  And a hammer.  Can
you do that?"
   "Fay, hop onto Dani's computer and do a quick
google on Apelantis.  I want to make sure they breathe
exactly like any other fish."
   "Green Knight, you're coming with me.  I can't lift
a four-hundred pound gorilla by myself."

   The first Apelantian is semi-conscious.  Martin
props himself under one shoulder (his back creaking
unappreciatively), while Derek takes the other. 
Slowly, they begin the arduous task of lifting
uncooperative and uncomprehending mass of fur up the
stairs, over his dead cohorts, and into the apartment.
   "A-okay," says Fay.
   "Dani!  Is that tub full yet?"
   "To the brim!  I've got that list for you, too."
   "Hang on to it for a second.  But give me the
   They drag their prisoner to Dani's bathroom and,
with some difficulty, squeeze him through the narrow
   "I suggest you hold your breath," Martin says to
the hapless ape.  Martin disconnects the oxygen tank. 
The Apelantian cries out in fear.  "Prop him up for
   Derek does his best to hold onto the ape.  Martin
brings the hammer crashing into the helmet.  Glass
shatters all around, water comes streaming out.  He
hits it a couple more times, the ape more terrified
with each impact, until the helmet is no more.
   "Okay, let's let him go," says Martin.
   "With pleasure," says Derek.
   The Apelantian falls back into the tub, water
splashing up onto Dani's tile.  He floats there for a
moment, getting adjusted to a more robust supply of
   "You leave this tub, you're dead, you know that,"
says Martin.
   The Apelantian stares uncomprehendingly.
   "Can you speak English?"
   The Apelantian does not answer.
   "We could try sign language," suggests Derek. 
"Most apes know sign language."
   "That's ridiculous," says Martin.  "Why would an
Apelantian need sign language?"
   Fay pokes her head in.  "Sounds travels poorly
under water."
   Martin nods and signs, What is the Apelantian
master plan?
   The soldier eyes him curiously before raising his
paws above the surface of the water.  Martin inches
back instinctively.
   Then the Apelantian signs back.
   "Why should I tell you?" translates Martin.  He
retorts: "You can't leave this tub.  We'll return you
safely to your people once we've stopped them.
   "You can never stop the great the glorious Aquatic
Ape Empire! (He obviously doesn't know us very well.)
   "Would you rather be part of the defeated Aquatic
Ape Empire, or dead?  Because I can start draining the
tub.  Dot, dot, dot."
   Derek queries: "Dot, dot, dot?"
   "It's hard to trail off with sign language," says
Martin.  "He says I have a good point.  (Okay, so now
we're in business.)
   "Tell me the Apelantian master plan.
   "We use the jackets (he must mean the
Vibra-Jackets) to go to another world.  We marched
here and came back to this world.  (Ah!  Just as we
thought.  So that's how they got this far inland.)
   "But why Jolt City?
   "That's where the jackets are.
   "Don't you have the jackets?
   "No.  Snapp only gives us a few at a time.
   "Where are the jackets now?
   "If we knew, we wouldn't need Snapp, would we? 
(Has a point there.)
   "What's next?
   "Chicago.  New York.  Washington.  We sneak our
soldiers in, and when we're all in place, we attack. 
Hold everyone hostage, and the President will have to
sign the country over to us.  Then the rest of the
world will surrender, because there will be no point
in resisting.
   "Well, I give you points for finally getting inland
here, but it's not like the rest of the world is going
to just sit idly by or give up just because you caught
us with our pants down-- assuming you do.  I mean, you
do realize that this is the most asinine invasion plan
I've ever heard?"
   The Apelantian signs something.
   "What'd he say?" says Derek.
   "Then why'd you agree to it?
   "(Ah.)  You think I had a choice?  All my friends
went to the Laurentian to avoid the draft.  I should
have listened to them."

   Martin and Fay relay their findings to Dani, while
Derek hunts up some seafood for their captive.
   "Did he say as to why they were in this building?"
   "He was standing watch for the other two, who were
on one of the higher floors.  They had the
information, not him."
   "I've got that list," reminds Dani.  "Apartment
numbers next to the names."
   "Excellent," says Martin, scanning the list
   Suddenly, there's a yelp from the bathroom.  Derek
enters the living room, his costume covered in fish.
   Martin sets the list aside and heads into the
bathroom.  He signs to the angry Apelantian, who signs
back in a furious blur.
   "What's he saying?" says Derek.
   "He's upset that you're feeding him dead fish,"
says Martin.  "I, uh, I guess he wants a live one."
   "Don't look at me," says Dani.  "He's not having my

   "What I don't get though," Martin says, "is where
Snapp's getting all the Vibra-Jackets to supply them
with.  Didn't we get most of them when we were
rounding up his men?  Or when we shut down the
Snail-Earth manufacturing plant, for that matter. 
They would have all blown up when the evidence locker
   "Fisk is on his side," says Dani.
   "Yes," says Martin blankly.
   "If this plan had been in motion for some time..."
   "Right," says Martin.  "Fisk would have moved the
jackets somewhere safe before he blew it up."
   "We just got to find out where," says Dani.  "I
guess Fisk is as good a place to start as any."
   "Agreed," says Martin.  "Before we rush off,
though, let's see that list again..."
   "I've got it," calls Fay from Dani's computer. 
"I'm googling the names, see if anything suspicious
crops up."
   This piques Derek's interest, and so he stands over
Fay's shoulder to watch.
   "Martin," says Dani, in a low, low whisper.
   "I know who he is."
   "No," says Martin.  "Let me figure it out for
   "Okay."  She seems mildly disappointed.  "So, this
is the part where I ask you, what about us?"
   Martin doesn't respond immediately.
   "And that's the part where you say, wait until
after all this Apelantis business is settled.  And
once it's settled, you'll go back to her.  To Pam."
   "It's alright.  She's young and pretty..."
   "You're pretty, too."
   "But I ain't young, not anymore."
   "Neither am I," says Martin, and he feels it, in
his back, in his arm, in his face.  "Truth is, I don't
know, Dani.  I really don't know how I feel about you,
or her... or how you feel about me.  About Martin
   "You're the same," says Dani.
   "No, I'm not," confides Martin in a low, laconic
whisper.  "I think I'm more Martin than I am the other
thing.  Martin's what kept me alive in Earbox.  The
man you're in love with-- I'm not sure if he's real at
   "He is," says Dani.  "Because you did those things
he did."
   Fay eurekas loudly and suddenly, and Derek takes
off running out the door.
   "What's going on?" says Martin.
   "Doctor Milton Ryerson," says Fay over the sound of
Derek's footsteps.  "Leading authority on Apelantian
   Derek comes running back down.  He catches his
breath at the door, sucking air through the foam of
his mask.  "Yeah, he's dead."
   Martin nods.  "Fisk, then.  Let's see if Dani still
has her car."

   To make a long story short: she does.  Martin and
Derek manage to fit two of the unicycles in the trunk,
instructing Dani quickly on their use.  "If we tell
you to run," Martin says to both women, "then the both
of you run."
   Dani looks at him askance.  "You don't expect us to
actually do that, do you?"
   "Yeah," says Fay: "If we left you two to get things
done, we'll all be wearing fish bowls by dawn."
   "I already lost you once, Dani," says Martin.  "I
won't let it happen again."

   Around two o'clock, they pull up to Fisk's house. 
It's not a mansion, nothing too upscale-- but it's
suitably posh for the Assistant District Attorney of
Jolt City.
   The quartet piles out of the automobile, assembling
on the porch.  Martin nudges Derek.  "You knock on the
   "Why me?" says Derek.  The other three stare at
him, and almost immediately it dawns on him: "Oh."
   He knocks on the door.  Mrs. Fisk answers.  She's
surprisingly alert for this time of night, her thin
frame draped in a twiggy black dress.
   "Jack!" she calls, squeezing at least three
syllables out of the name.  "It's for you.  The Green
Knight's at the door!"
   Fisk quickly strides down the narrow hallway.
   "You're a lot shorter than I figured," says Mrs.
Fisk cheekily before stepping aside.
   Fisk looks nervous enough, but that nervousness is
doubled when he sees Martin.  "What are you doing
   "You might want to ask them the same question,"
says Martin.  Dani and Fay step into the light.
   "Oh," says Fisk with a long, hard swallow.  "Oh. 
Uh.  Won't you come in?  I'm entertaining some guests.
 They'd love to meet you..."
   "Um," says Derek.  "Okay.  But I'm keeping my eye
on you."
   "Fair enough," says Fisk.  He turns and breaks off
into a sprint, disappearing at the first turn.  Our
fearless foursome immediately give chase, racing down
the hall and turning into an extremely elegant dining
   A table, obnoxiously large for the relatively
cramped room, stretches before them like a horizon,
some twenty yards away.  And on the other side of that
table, seated but not eating, are six Apelantians clad
in Vibra-Jackets.
   Fisk stops running once he gets to the hairier side
of the room, instead opting to turn and smirk as the
Apelantians rise with military discipline, vibrating
their atoms as they begin to pass through the table,
knuckle-dragging their way towards our heroes.
   Martin rushes in.
   "What are you doing?" cries Dani.
   But Martin knows exactly what he's doing; within
seconds he's close enough for the implant in his neck
to do its work.  The Apelantian atoms stop shimmering,
snapping back to cold hard reality, fusing muscle and
fur and sinew with polished, shiny imitation oak.
   They're not trapped in the table; they've become
part of the table, and they realize this with a strong
sense of unease.  Fisk realizes it at about the same
time, and his grin turns to nausea.
   "Show's over, Fisk," says Dani, training her gun on
the ADA from across the room.  "Nowhere to run."
   Fisk smirks again.  "You forgot about my wife."
   They turn as one, with a sense of dread, to find
Mrs. Fisk with a shotgun pointed at Dani's skull.
   "Put it down," says Martin.
   "She puts hers down first," says Mrs. Fisk.  "Tell
her to stop pointing that gun at my husband."
   "Don't do it, Dani," says Martin.  "Look, lady:
she's a cop.  She's not going to shoot your husband. 
You can trust her on that."
   "You're going to try to arrest him.  I can't let
you do that.  He didn't do anything wrong.  Isn't that
right, baby?  You did nothing wrong."
   "That's right," says Fisk, perking up.  "That's
right.  Go ahead and put the gun down, baby.  I'm in
no danger.  You're not going to arrest me, are you,
Lt. Handler?"
   Mrs. Fisk lowers the gun.
   Dani keeps hers trained on Fisk.  "Tell her to put
the gun on the floor, and step away from it."
   "I don't need him to tell me," says his wife.  She
sets the gun down and walks towards her husband.  He
places his hand at the small of her back, and she
smiles.  "You're not going to arrest him, are you?"
   "Well," says Dani, "that's generally what we do
with traitors."
   "Traitor?  Really?" says Fisk.  "Because the way I
see it, my wife and I were sitting here at home, and
these six... monkey-things, or whatever you'd call
them... they invaded our house and threatened us
bodily.  When you came to the door, in my agitated
state, I naturally panicked and ran.  As you can see,
I've since recovered.  Now please lower your gun, and
maybe Shelby will fix you up something to drink."
   Dani doesn't budge.
   "What about me?" says Martin.  "What about sending
me up the river for murders that didn't happen?"
   "Well," says Fisk, "that never went to trial, did
it?  Obviously, as the victims are-- thankfully--
still very much alive, we'll dismiss the case.  I
would say that the SV charge still holds, though if
Lt. Handler corroborates your story-- that you were
part of some kind of sting operation... well, I
suppose we'd have to drop that one, too."
   "You know it was a sting operation," says Handler. 
"I called you, told you about it."
   "I don't recall such a conversation," says Fisk. 
"And I think should you check your files, your
day-planner, and all relevant phone records, you'll
see that I'm right."
   "You mean, I'll see that there's no evidence," says
   "It comes to the same thing, doesn't it?"
   "And if we were to talk to them?" says Derek,
angling his shoulders towards the tabled Apelantians.
   "I'm sure that they'll tell you all about that
dastardly Samson Snapp," says Fisk, "who told them
that this would a friendly place to house them,
something Snapp likely did to try and torture me.  I
seem to recall, Lt. Handler, that both you and your
green friend there were very hot to get your hands on
Mr. Snapp.  A pity if he'd slip through the cracks
while you stand here pointing a gun at me."
   Dani lowers her gun.
   Mrs. Fisk smiles enthusiastically: "Something to
drink, then?"

   Fay carefully and semi-permanently deactivates the
Vibra-Jackets without incident.  Dani calls the
police, confirms that she is alive, and asks for two
squads: one to round up the Apelantians at Fisk's, and
another to meet her at Snapp's.  Martin gets lost
trying to find the bathroom, and, some eight minutes
having passed in all in such a fashion, the quartet
piles into the Danimobile.
   "So," says Derek, "how much do you want to bet
they're calling Snapp right now to warn him?"
   "It's unlikely," says Martin.  "I cut the phone
   "What about a cell phone?"
   Fay pipes up.  "Just before we left, as I was
turning off the last Vibra-Jacket, I set it to emit a
signal that fries all cell phone batteries in a
twenty-yard radius."
   Dani tries to turn on her phone.  "Gee.  Thanks."

Stately Snapp Manor.
   Dani turns off the headlights and parks the car
about half a block down.  Derek fishes some binoculars
out of his utility belt.
   "Two guards at the front gate," he says, "armed,
naturally.  I don't see any signs of our back-up-- or
of our swimming simian friends."
   Dani uses the rear view mirror to peer into the
back seat.  Though she turns her head towards the
'Green Knight', she directs her words to Martin.  "We
should wait for the back-up...?"
   Martin nods with his eyelids.
   Derek, who had also been using the rear view mirror
to look at Martin, follows his subtle cue: "We
probably should have left Dr. Tarif somewhere safe."
   Dani smirks. "Not to mention Mr. Rock."
   "After what I've seen?" says Fay.  "I think Mr.
Rock can more than take care of himself.  You weren't
there when he beat Darkhorse."
   "Really?" says Dani.
   Martin nods, hiding a smile.
   "Maybe when this is all over, you should give this
line of work a try," says Fay.  "How about it,
Greenie?  You looking for a sidekick?"
   "I don't know," says Derek.  "Guess I'll have to
think about it."
   "That's okay," says Martin.  The less dots
connecting him to the Green Knight in Fay's mind, the
better.  "I'm happy being Martin Rock."
   "Nothing wrong with that," says Dani.
   Martin stares forward into the rear view mirror and
locks eyes with Dani.  "Thanks."
   A blur of flashing lights fills the mirror at the
same time the screeching sound of sirens assaults
their ears.
   "There's our back-up," says Dani as a steady stream
of police cars roars down the block.
   "And there's our apes!" exclaims Derek.  He points
to roughly a dozen shapes in the dark, rushing out
from the gates of Snapp Manor.  The shapes come to a
stop as the police cars approach.
   Then, there is the terrible and deafening light of
   The first car falls victim immediately, and it
swerves uncontrollably towards its query.  The apes
pull back and the car crashes into the gate.
   They leap over the car (apparently they don't have
Vibra-Jackets).  The police cars come to a stop
several feet away; doors open; officers drop behind
the open doors and begin firing.
   Two of the apes fall immediately.  The others,
perhaps a bit wiser, leap back behind the immobile
police car.
   The gunfire stops for the briefest of seconds, then
it hesitantly resumes, one side firing at the other,
then the other firing back, then silence.  Two tense
minutes pass in this round-robin fashion, without
   "What do we do?" says Fay in a panic.  "We can't
just waltz in through the gate now, not with a
   "You're not going anywhere," says Martin.  He
reaches forward and puts his hand on Derek's shoulder.
 "Neither are you.  Stay here and keep her company. 
You stay too, Dani."
   "No!" says Dani.  "This is my case!"
   "I already lost you once," says Martin.  "It's too
dangerous.  I have to go in alone."
   Derek turns around so he can face Martin.  It feels
so strange to Martin, being confronted with a flat,
featureless green face; that's probably why he hated
Ray's mask so much.  It had no warmth.
   "You're not doing this alone," says Derek.
   "I can take care of myself," says Martin.  "I can
sneak in.  If I have anyone else with me, it'll slow
me down.  It'll be a liability."
   "You try to get in during the middle of this
stand-off, and you're going to get your head blown
off," says Derek.  "I know another way in.  And what's
more, I know my way around Snapp's house.  Do you?"
   "I've been there once or twice," says Martin
   "I've slept in that house," says Derek.  "I've
eaten breakfast at that man's table.  I know every
room, every hallway, every nook and cranny.  If you
want to get in, and you want to get out, alive and
with Snapp-- then you need me."
   "Alright," says Martin.  "Dani, you'll stay here
with Fay.  Me and the Green Knight will..."
   Dani whirls around to face him.  "Will what?  Go do
all the scary work while the women sit in the car?  No
thank you!  This is my case, Mr. Rock-- and I'm going
to make the arrest, not some penny-ante vigilante and
an escaped convict!"
   Martin grabs her roughly by the wrist and pulls
himself close to her.  "Dani, you listen to me.  You
need to keep her safe."
   "You do it!"
   "I can't," says Martin.  "Because if one of those
nuts makes his way over here with a gun, you need to
shoot him before he shoots you.  And I can't do that. 
I can't take a life.  Never again."  He looks
pointedly to Derek.  "Neither can the Green Knight. 
   "You, on the other hand, Dani... you have that
luxury.  You're the only one who can do this... and so
that makes you the most important person in this car."
   He lets go of her wrist.  She looks at him for a
long time, and the look is only broken by the distant
sound of gunfire.  Dani turns back to face front.
   "You be careful, hero."  Then she adds quietly:
"Both of you."

   "So, where is this other way in?" says Martin as
Derek leads him along the huge stone wall around
Snapp's mansion.  "I've done surveillance on this
place dozens of times.  If there was a secret
entrance, I'd know about it."
   "Only if it was in use," says Derek.  As if to
prove his point, he stops and pushes in on part of the
stone wall.  He steps back as the ground opens up to
reveal a particularly moist looking tunnel.
   "Snapp only showed a few people.  Said it should
only be used in case of emergency-- and he was very
clear as to what did, and didn't, constitute an
emergency.  I think it's been used a grand total of
once before, and that one time, it was not an
emergency..." Derek lets the ellipses hang there
   Then he leaps in, landing knee-deep in mud.  He
reaches into his utility belt, procures his electric
torch, and turns it on.  The tunnel stretches on for
several hundred yards.
   He turns around, expecting to look up; instead, he
finds Martin standing behind him, in the mud.
   "You didn't make any noise when you landed," says
   Martin only smiles.  "Lead on."
   Derek shines the torch forward, slogging noisily
through the mud.  "No.  Seriously.  How'd you do
   "I've got a more important question.  Where does
this tunnel lead to, exactly?"
   "Master bathroom."
   "Yeah, the tile opens and you step right into the
tub.  What?  You think he wants people traipsing mud
in his foyer?  Bathroom's secluded and it gives
someone a place to clean themselves up."
   "It's also close quarters," says Martin.  "If
someone gets in who's not supposed to, they step right
into the tub and there's nowhere to duck or dodge."
   "That... that's true."
   "You seem shaken."
   "Yeah, maybe.  I dunno."  Derek senses some
disapproval in Martin's silence, and so he changes his
answer: "Not really."
   "Okay then."
   "I have another question for you."
   "Well," says Martin.  "As long as it's not about
the mud again."
   "No.  What I'm wondering is, what you said in the
car.  About killing.  Is that true?  I mean, is that
the rule?  Absolutes?  No exceptions?"
   "What I said was that I won't take a life."
   "Yeah," says Martin, and there's something about
his answer, about the way he manages to pack years
into a single syllable, that's a little frightening. 
"And I said the Green Knight can't take a life.  And I
hope I don't have to remind you that you're not the
Green Knight."
   "Hold on," says Derek.  He stops walking, holding
his torch in one hand and reaching with the other into
his utility belt.  He pulls out the scrambler and
activates it.  A moment passes, and a soft hum fills
the air.
   "What is it?" says Martin, and he's surprised to
hear his voice bouncing all around him.
   "Dampening field," says Derek.  "Extends just a few
feet around us.  Bounces sound waves back, so that
they just echo inside the bubble and they never get
out.  Lets us talk in private, in case there are any
listening devices."
   "And you got this where?"
   "Sprocketeer gave it to me after our team-up.  But
you were saying...?"
   "You're not the Green Knight.  But as long as
you're pretending-- or keeping up appearances for me,
or whatever-- which won't be one second longer than it
has to be-- well, you've got to act like the Green
Knight.  And the Green Knight doesn't kill."  He waits
for the echo effect to die down before adding: "Heroes
don't kill."
   "Okay, but what I'm asking is, what, like never? 
Or is it sometimes okay?  I mean, what if there's some
circumstance where it could be justified?"
   "Like what?"
   "I don't know-- I mean, is it ever justified?"
   "Well, what do you think?"
   "I don't know, I already said that I don't know,"
says Derek.  "That's why--"
   "No," says Martin.  "I'm asking what you,
personally, think.  I'm not asking what's right and
wrong, I'm asking what you think is right and wrong."
   "Well, no, I was actually asking you."
   "You already know my answer.  I refuse to take a
human life."
   "Okay, I get that," says Derek.  "But that's not
what I'm asking.  Look-- okay, how about this:  Is
there ever a reason why you would take a human life?"
   "No.  I won't do it."  The emphasis is set squarely
upon the "I".
   "Is there ever a reason why anyone should take a
   "I can only answer for myself," says Martin, the
solemnity and thoughtfulness of his answer somewhat
muted by its echo.  "Each man has to answer for
himself.  But I'll tell you this much.
   "I served my country.  I went to war.  I took
lives.  I came back.  Declared a war of my own.  Took
a few more.  I'm not saying that what I did was right
or wrong.  It seemed right at the time, it seems wrong
now, but you could say that about a lot of things. 
Matter of perspective, I suppose.
   "But there's one constant, and that's the fact that
they're dead, and that I'm the one that did it to
them.  And you live with that for the rest of your
life.  Guess what matters is if you can do that, if
you can live with it.
   "But that's a matter of perspective, too.  When it
did it, it seemed like something I could live with. 
But now... well, not so much."
   His words bounce and dance and sing and fade and
die, replaced by the loud reverberations of legs
slogging through mud.
   Gradually, the level of the mud sinks; the ground
beneath their feet slopes upwards, and at last the
electric torch illuminates the end of the tunnel. 
Derek turns off the scrambler.  "On three?"
   "No," says Martin.  "Just do it now."
   Derek pushes against the wall.  Bright fluorescent
light floods their retinas.  After a moment, their
eyes begin to adjust: the bathroom is empty.  They
step into the tub and Derek places his electric torch
into his utility belt.
   Suddenly, there is the swell of gunfire coming from
elsewhere in the mansion, followed by the immortal
words: "You'll never take me alive!"
   The bathroom door swings open and Samson Snapp
rushes in.  The haggard druglord stops and stares at
the two men standing in his bathtub.  He quickly
points his gun at Derek and pulls the trigger.
   Derek slams against the bathtub as the bullet rips
through Martin's shoulder.  Martin falls quickly,
landing on Derek.
   Snapp takes advantage of this, leaping towards the
   With desperate speed, Martin kicks his foot
upwards, catching Snapp in the groin.  Snapp doubles
over with pain.  Martin kicks him twice more in quick
   Martin scrambles to get to his feet.  But Snapp
gets up first.  He points his gun at Martin's head.
   Dani points her gun at Snapp's head.  "Drop it."
   Snapp drops his gun.  "I got no death wish."
   Martin kicks Snapp in the groin again.  "Killing's
wrong," he explains.  "But sometimes kicking a guy in
the balls is justified."
   Dani grabs Snapp and yanks him out of the tub,
slamming him to the floor.  She slaps the cuffs on
him.  "Samson Snapp, you are under arrest for

Snapp's living room.  Other officers lead Snapp away,
along with the surviving Apelantians.  Many of the
policemen express admiration for Dani and credit her
with their lives.
   "So," says Martin.  "What happened?"
   "I told Dr. Fay to drive somewhere safe," says
Dani.  "She left, and I got my ass where it belonged--
with my fellow police officers."
   "They pushed, we pushed back harder," she says with
a shrug.  "It was a firefight out there.  We got
inside, it was a firefight in here.  Snapp ran for
it-- the rest you know.  Oh, and by the way, Mr.
   "You're going to a hospital.  No excuses."
   Martin nods and motions for the 'Green Knight' to
come closer.  Derek, sensing that the conversation
will be a bit sensitive, turns on the scrambler.
   Martin whispers: "You know how I said you'd be
doing this for not one second longer than you need
   "Let me guess: effective immediately?"
   "That's right," says Martin.  "But you and I have
to talk.  Meet me on Wednesday.  Two o'clock.  At the
   "Which one?"
   "You know which one.  Derek."
   Derek swallows hard, and the sound is amplified by
its reverberations.

   Dani accompanies Martin to the hospital.  The
doctors fish the bullet out of the wound and bandage
him up, both his arm and his face.  A mild sedative is
administered against his protestations.  Shortly
thereafter, Dani enters the room and sits down next to
her hero.
   "We'll let Pam know in the morning," she says. 
"Don't want to wake her up.  Besides, you'll need some
   Martin nods.  He stares at Dani, studies her face
in a way that's more disconcerting than romantic. 
Then, very simply, exhaustion and painkillers draining
the emotion from his words, he says: "I'm very glad
you're alive, Dani."
   "Yeah, well..." She exhales wistfully.  "Yeah.  Me
   "Thank you for saving my life," says Martin.
   "Thanks for saving mine," says Dani.  "Martin...
Look.  Maybe Martin Rock's done some shitty things. 
Maybe you killed a few people in Iraq.  But that
doesn't matter."
   "Doesn't it?"
   "No, it doesn't.  Because you don't do it anymore. 
Because you refuse to do that.  Because a person isn't
everything he's done.  He's who he is this minute."
   "You don't believe that," says Martin.
   "Don't I?"
   "No.  You're justifying.  And that's not like you. 
A man commits a crime, forgiveness is one thing,
repentance, sure-- but, but, it's-- but the thing is
still done.  And just because someone feels bad about
it, or just because they won't do it again, doesn't
undo it.  And it doesn't mean they should get off
   "If you were going after a guy who had done
something terrible, and when you finally catch up to
him, he's a completely different guy, he's ashamed of
what he's done, he won't do it again, he's turned over
a new leaf-- what, you're going to let this guy go,
you're not going to arrest him?"
   "Of course I'd arrest him," says Dani.  "The law is
the law."
   "And you have a duty to uphold it," says Martin. 
"Working with a vigilante aside, you're not going to
stop doing your job, or set someone else in a special
category where they're beyond reproach for what they
did.  And I wouldn't ask you to do that."
   "Martin," says Dani tenderly.  "I'm sure you did a
few things you shouldn't have when you were homeless. 
But I know you'd never hurt anybody."
   "Dani, I've killed people."
   "Last I heard, joining the Marines wasn't a crime."
   "No, Dani," says Martin.  "You don't understand."
   "Make me understand."
   "I can't.  Because either you'll arrest me, or
you'll compromise yourself for me.  And I'm not going
to ask you to do that.  I think I've known all along
that I can't ask you to do that-- that I love you too
much to turn you into someone you're not."
   "You do love me, then," says Dani.  "No probablies
about it."
   "I do love you, Dani."
   "If you love me, then trust me."
   "I'm sorry, but I can't."
   "Please!  You can trust me."
   "I know," says Martin.  "And that's what I'm afraid
of.  Because if I tell you this thing, I can trust you
to keep it a secret, even though it eats you up
inside, twists you around, puts you in this gray zone.
 And it wouldn't be fair to you.  If you love someone,
you don't do that to them."
   "If you love someone, you let them love you back!"
says Dani.  "You trust them!  You let them make their
own decisions!  Jesus, Martin!  You're not Samson
Snapp.  Whatever it is, it can't be that bad...!
   "Please, Martin.  Tell me."
   Martin stares at her for a long time, stares at her
pleading eyes and her broken nose and her
tightly-clenched mouth.
   "I'm an adult," says Dani.  "I'm a big girl and I
don't need my heroes to be perfect.  Just honest."
   "I was the Mask With No Name."
   Dani's lower lip falls, slowly peeling away from
its twin like a slice of an orange.  Her mouth hangs
half open, and it seems to Martin like it is less from
shock and more from a sense of betrayal.
   He begins to speak, faltering: "I think...
   "I think that's what I was scared to tell you, more
than who I really am.  Martin Rock's not a likeable
guy, but he's not that bad.  But the Mask With No
   "Yeah," says Dani.
   "That doesn't count as a confession, by the way,"
says Martin, with a quick nod towards the drugs
streaming into his arm via the IV drip.
   Dani nods.
   "So," says Martin.  "You still love me, and always
   Dani takes a moment to answer.  "Yes.  I think I
do.  Have you told Pam this?"
   "I take it that she took it in stride?"
   "Yeah, you could say that.  I suppose she had it
easier, though.  She fell for Martin Rock-- knew
more-or-less who he was, and accepted that at the
outset.  It was really all uphill from there.
   "You, on the other hand.  You fell for your hero. 
Saw me in the best possible light.  And now you get to
find out all sorts of unsavory things about me.  I
think you have it a bit harder than Pam does."
   "Well, it doesn't matter anyway," says Dani. 
"There's still no real proof that the Mask With No
Name exists.  Even if this counted as a confession,
there's at least a dozen others just as implausible. 
They even stopped looking for him after the last mu--
the last death."  She lowers her eyelids thoughtfully.
 "A rapist in an alleyway.  Whoever did it saved some
poor girl.  Terrified the shit out of her.  She runs a
crisis center now."
   A feeling washes over Martin, and with it the
girl's face, etched in white light that crumbles as
his eyelids slowly close.

   Pam visits him the next morning.  They talk very
little: they exchange the usual choruses of
how-are-you and I-missed-you and I-love-you. 
Conversation turns to topics that are just as boring
and yet more exciting at the same time: when will he
be getting out of the hospital, when will he be
formerly absolved of all charges, and what he'd like
for dinner (shall we go out tonight, or do you want a
home-cooked meal?).
   They don't talk about anything of real importance. 
No dramatic revelations or turbulence.  But with Pam,
these things aren't really necessary, either.
   They talk very little.

Monday.  Knight's Den.
   Martin pulls on his mask for the first time in
about a month.  It feels good; it feels right.
   And yet, there's a degree of ambivalence.  Like
something's not right.  Something doesn't fit.  And
that's not the fact that he's wearing a variation of
Ray's featureless mask so as to disguise the bruises
on his face.
   His body hurts.  Of course, it always hurt before;
in this profession, there are always fresh injuries to
replace old ones.  But this time the pain is
different.  It exists in his entire body, in his
fingertips, in his knees, in his back.  The parts are
there, but they feel slightly out of place and in
   Roy Riddle hops down to the Knight's Den bearing a
large cake.  "Happy birthday, Martin!"
   Martin pulls off the mask and, with a single gush
of breath, blows out all forty-six candles.

Fisk's office.
   The Green Knight is announced.  Fisk warmly asks he
to be shown in.
   When Martin enters, the ADA looks him over
scrupulously.  "You've gotten taller again."
   "I swear," says Martin with a laugh in his belly,
"if I see one more shrink-ray..."
   Fisk smiles as one does at someone else's private
joke.  "Samson Snapp's being turned over to the Feds
for prosecution.  The last Apelantians are being
rounded up."
   "I hear Snapp might try to cop a plea," says
Martin.  "That he'll be pointing a finger at you in
order to avoid the death penalty."
   "I'd like to see him try," says Fisk.  "Not one
shred of evidence against me."
   "It does feel good to finally get Snapp," says
Martin.  "It sure took a long while."
   "Yep," says Fisk.  He turns towards his window.
   Martin talks to the back of his head.  "But we did
it.  Every time he seemed within our grasp, he slipped
away.  Not one shred of evidence against him.  But we
kept at it.  It took months.  Over a year.
   "But I did get him in the end, Fisk.  Remember
   Fisk turns around to find himself quite alone.

Tuesday.  A different hospital.  One hero visits
   "Hello, Dipshit."
   Darkhorse smiles weakly.  "Nice to see you too, GK.
 Want to sign my cast?"
   "Sure.  Does it matter which one?"
   "Nah.  They'll all be there for a while.  Amazing
that Martin Rock was innocent all this time."
   "He got lucky, though."
   "If it wasn't for that chip in his neck, there's no
way he would have beat me."
   Martin smiles under his mask.  "We'll see."
   "What's that mean?"
   "Nothing.  You heard about Fisk?"
   "Yeah.  He resigned this morning.  Weird, huh?"
   "I guess so."
   "Feds said there was nothing to substantiate
Snapp's claims.  It looks like he was in the clear. 
And he resigned.  You ask me, that's weird."
   Martin shrugs and puts the cap back on his
permanent marker.
   "What'd you write?" says Darkhorse.  "I can't see
   "Guess you'll have to wait and see.  How long until
you heal?"
   A woman's voice: "Six months, at least."
   Martin turns.  She's a very shapely woman in a
domino mask with a one-piece costume that ends in a
   "He does everything else fast," she says.  "But he
heals just as slow as everybody else."
   "I don't think we've met," says Martin.
   "That's my wife," says Darkhorse.
   "What's your codename?" asks Martin.  "Are you
   "What?  No," she says, shaking her head.  "I'm not
a four-colour.  I just wear this in order to protect
his secret identity.  Otherwise, people see me come
in, they'll put two and two together.  Something"
   "Oh," says Martin.  "Makes sense."

Jolt City University.
   Martin visits Dr. Tarif in order to have the chip
removed from his neck.  Afterwords, he rubs the tiny
   "Poor baby," says Fay.  "You want me to kiss it and
make it all better?"
   One look in her eyes and he knew that she would,
too, at that.
   "No thanks."
   He has no desire to be part of a love

Wednesday.  The park.
   Derek arrives a few minutes after Martin.
   "Walk with me," says Martin, pointing away from the
park with a toss of his head.
   "I figured we wouldn't be staying," says Derek.  "I
know you don't this park."
   "You know, it doesn't really bother me much
   "Well then, that's a good thing."
   Martin nods.
   "It's nice, about Danielle," says Derek.  Dani had
been promoted to Jolt City's Four-Colour Liaison this
   Martin simply nods again.

   Fifteen minutes later, they arrive at Roy's church.
 There's a wake taking place in the church basement,
rendering the Knight's Den below it somewhat
inaccessible.  They head into the manse instead,
helping themselves to Roy's rye crisps.
   "So," says Derek, trying again to puncture the
awkward silence.  "Um.  How'd you know it was me?"
   Martin chews his rye crisp thoughtfully, swallows,
and washes it down with some tap water.  "You tell
   "Um..." Derek laughs, embarrassed.  "Well, Danielle
told you that she knew who I was.  I picked it up with
my enhanced earphones.  I also picked up you telling
her not to tell you.  But.  That means that you knew
that it was someone that she knew."
   "Go on."
   "Um... I knew about Snapp.  Um.  I knew a lot about
Snapp, actually.  So I had to be someone with a strong
connection to Snapp and to Danielle.  And you knew I
was one of her spies in his organization.  Plus, my,
um... my..."
   "You're about a foot and a half shorter than I am."
   "Well, I haven't stopped growing.  But, yeah, my
size and body shape.  Um, is that it?"
   "You tell me."
   God, he's frustrating.  "Yeah, I guess that's it."
   "What have you learned?"
   "I need to be more careful what I reveal about
myself?  And I need to disguise my voice more
   Martin only nods, and there's something deflating
about the gesture.  Things are quiet for a moment, and
then Martin speaks again: "So, now we know how I knew
who you were.  What I'd like to know is how you knew
who I was."
   Derek smirks.  "You tell me."
   Martin smiles, but disguises it with a cold, hard,
steady gaze.
   "Er, or not.  Okay... it took me a little while to
piece it together.  When you had your press
conference, I saw you with Roy Riddle.  And I saw the
two of you again at the hospital, just after Nathan
Willis and that business in the park.  And Roy Riddle
said he was fetching you on behalf of the Green
Knight, but seeing the two of you standing next to
each other, it just struck me as curious.
   "And then I got ahold of your job application..."
   Martin raises his eyebrows.
   "... uh, for Bierce Bail Bonds.  And you listed Roy
Riddle as a reference.  But that was before he 'met'
you at the hospital.  And, uh, the other reference was
Anders Cradle.  So...
   "I dug up all I could on the Melvin Tightly case,
and I snuck around Cradle Manor as they were
rebuilding it.  Managed to find the original Knight's
Den.  So: Ray Cradle was the Green Knight, you were
the Acro-Bat; he died, you became the Green Knight.
   "I wasn't really sure until I sent you that
   "From a friend.  And what was that supposed to
accomplish, exactly?"
   "I wasn't sure," admits Derek.  "I thought that
after I sent it, that it would set something in
motion.  Maybe you'd trace the letter to me, or
something, and it would confirm it.  But it didn't. 
But once I sent it-- I knew.  I dunno.
   "But I meant what I said.  I wasn't going to reveal
it to anybody, or use it to hurt you in any way.  And
I did help you.  I got you a Vibra-Jacket."
   "So, how'd you get back into Snapp's good graces?"
   "I told him I never left," says Derek.  "Actually,
it was kind of easy.  I had always been one of his
favourites.  He understood I was scared, scared for my
life, and he didn't think I would really turn on him."
   Derek grows silent for a moment.  Martin doesn't
offer comfort.  Only another question.
   "Derek, what is it that you want?"
   "That I want?  What, out of life?  Um..."
   "What do you want from me, Derek?  Why help me at
all, why try and find out my identity?"
   "I just want to make a difference," says Derek. 
"Like I told you before you went to jail, in the
   "Hmm-mm.  Is that all?"
   "I dunno," says Derek.  "I... I don't want to say
the wrong thing and botch things up."
   Martin waves his hands dismissively.  "Just be
honest, kid.  I think I know what you want.  But I
want to hear you say it."
   "I want to learn," says Derek.  "I want to drop
into the mud without making a sound.  I want to know
what an Apelantian is, and how to jump from one
rooftop to another.  I want to know how to stop the
spandex from riding up on my crotch.  I want to do
what you do, and I want to be damn good at it."
   Martin smiles, selects one final rye crisp, and
takes a hearty bite.  "Well, that's quite a
coincidence, Derek Mason.  Because I think it's about
time I had myself a sidekick."


NEXT TIME: The Sensational Character Find of 2007!


   Derek's explanation of how he discovered Martin's
identity is somewhat thick with references to past
stories, so much so that proper editorial notes would
greatly disrupt the flow of the story.  But, for the
benefit of new readers (and older readers with dim
memories), here are the major points:

The Green Knight held a press conference in JOLT CITY
# 3, following the defeat of The Crooked Man at the
hands of plain ol' Martin Rock.  It was at this press
conference, held at Roy Riddle's church, that Derek
saw Roy and Martin together.

In JOLT CITY # 4, following the park massacre, Dani
called on Derek to identify Roy Riddle as an associate
of the Green Knight (since Derek had attended that
press conference a day or two before).

Martin applied for a job at Bierce Bail Bonds in JOLT
CITY # 2 (it was during that interview that he
defeated the Crooked Man).  The mention of his two
references-- Roy Riddle and Anders Cradle-- is made in
JOLT CITY # 4, when he frets about possible dots
connecting his two identities. :-)

Anders Cradle no doubt jogged Derek's memory about the
"Melvin Tightly case", which was related in full in
GREEN KNIGHT ANNUAL # 1.  Anders was kidnapped and
held for ransom by Melvin Tightly, the "Green Night",
following an explosion that destroyed Cradle Manor. 
Martin was falsely accused of Anders's murder.  As the
Green Knight, he fought Tightly deep inside the
Knight's Den, beneath the ruins of Cradle Manor. 
Anders announced his plans to rebuild it at that time.

In JOLT CITY # 6, Martin received a letter from "a
friend" stating that he knew the secret of his

It was by JOLT CITY # 8 that the Vibra-Jackets had
become a plague on the city; in JOLT CITY # 9, the
"friend" provides a jacket so that Fay Tarif can
reverse-engineer a way to disarm them.


Tom Russell


"Fishin' sure does take out
 the miseries out of a man."


Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha! Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.

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