❯ In the Shadow of the Bat – The Spider Returns ( Chapter 12 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Alias, the Spider: Two

Teresa Ludlow-Dalt paused as the black haired woman checked the Gotham City street, covertly looking for trouble. In the months since the followers of the Seven Soldiers had begun to target her she had quickly learned caution, as well as developing other survival skills. The false Soldiers had attacked her at least once a week for the past while, both unarmed and armed, but so far she had survived the madmen’s interest.

‘Of course,’ Teresa mused as she entered the local café, ‘this probably isn’t the brightest idea I ever had….’ Within there was a soft murmur of conversation as men and women sat at wooden tables, old fashioned ornaments decorating the large room.

Sitting at a side table Pat Dugan’s red hair was thinning but he looked much younger than he should have been, probably due to the time jump that Teresa had heard about. A original member of the Seven Soldiers as Stripsey Pat had fought beside the Spider, and was one of the few first hand sources still available. Of course, that was assuming he’d even talk to her.

“Mr. Dugan?” Teresa asked softly as she arrived at the table, “I’m Teresa Ludlow-Dalt, I called you earlier?”

“Ma’am,” Pat nodded respectfully as he waved her to a seat opposite him. He looked at her thoughtfully, “Now, I understand you’re writing a book?”

“Yes,” Teresa took a seat, “my tentative title is Black Sheep Family, the rise and fall of the Ludlow clan.”

“Tom Ludlow, The Spider,” Pat nodded in recognition, frowning. “What do you know about him?” he asked.

Before she could answer a waitress arrived to take their orders, then the slim blonde hurried away. Teresa sighed, “Not as much as I’d like. He was a smuggler, kidnapper and murder who used the Spider identity to eliminate rivals to his business.”

“Yeah,” Pat stirred his coffee, “problem is, he was pretty damn clever about it. He certainly had me and the others fooled!”

“What was he like to work with?” Teresa asked.

“A bit too nice,” Pat admitted, “there was always somethin’ off about him.”

Teresa looked thoughtful as she asked, “And that didn’t make you suspicious?”

Pat barked a laugh, “Lady, all of us were hiding things about ourselves, it was part of being a costumed hero.” He chuckled as he added, “I acted very different in costume, as did most of us, I think to try to maintain our secret identities.”
“That makes sense,” Teresa conceded the point. She leaned forward, “What cases did you work with him on?”

“Fighting Black Star, the Dummy, a earlier fight with the Iron Hand…,” Pat chuckled at the look on her face. “Yeah, they were pretty goofy sounding.”

“Considering we have a villain named Poison Ivy,” Teresa smiled back as she took a drink, “we really can’t laugh.”

“True enough,” Pat grinned just as a large window facing the street exploded inward.

“Oh hell,” Teresa muttered as she grabbed Dan and yanked him down even as she kicked the table over for cover.

“Die, betrayer!” the man in the high tech suit yelled as he climbed in through the broken glass, his wrist mounted blasters firing.

“Who’s this joker?” Pat demanded as blasts began to eat away at the table.

“Part of a group of nuts trying to avenge the Seven Soldiers,” Teresa answered as she pulled a mini-crossbow from where she hid it in her purse. “They’re after me because I’m related to the Spider.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Pat blinked.

“Nope,” Teresa answered as she loaded a steel bolt into her weapon. “Stay here,” she ordered as she rolled out from cover.

The man in armor gleamed silver, covering him from head to toe. A black visor protected his face and the segmented armor almost reminded one of a high tech knight. Unlike a real knight, however, he had weapons mounted on each wrist, advanced energy blasters of some kind.

“In the name of the Shining Knight,” he boldly said as he fired off another energy bolt in Teresa’s direction, “die!”

‘These guys sound like a broken record,’ Teresa thought as she fired back, sending the crossbow bolt zipping right into one of the seams of the armored shoulder.

“Aiee!” the man yelped, flailing at the sudden pain as he tried to grab at the arrow shaft.

“What a maroon,” Pat muttered as he charged forward, slamming into the armored figure with his shoulder and sending him staggering backward.

Teresa kicked him in the gut, glad the armor wasn’t more reinforced. “Exactly,” she agreed, watching him double over in pain.
“More coming,” Pat noted as he looked out the window.

“Lovely,” Teresa picked up a chair and swung it, bashing the armored figure right out the window at their approaching foes. “Out the back?”

“Let’s go,” Pat agreed as they ran through the stunned café and out the back door. He pulled out a small device and pressed it, a red light glowing brightly as they looked around.

“What’s that?” Teresa asked as they emerged into a smelly, littler lined alley and ran up towards a busy street.

“Justice Society signal device,” Pat answered as they came out onto a sidewalk, “I’m a reserve member.”

Teresa looked both ways, frowning as she saw no immediate sign of their attackers. “Thanks,” she said, “but I really hope we won’t need them.”

Gunfire rang out as both ducked as a man dressed in a skin-tight red bodysuit charged across the busy street, firing twin pistols. “Die, betrayer!” the Crimson Avenger wannabe yelled as car’s squealed their tires to avoid hitting him.

“If my old buddy saw this guy he’d be ashamed,” Pat muttered resentfully as they ducked behind a car parked on the side of the road.

“What’s with the yellow fin on his head?” Teresa asked as she loaded her crossbow.

“We all make mistakes occasionally,” Pat answered wryly.

“Fair enough,” Teresa conceded. “I’ll distract him, can you…?”

“No problem,” Pat said confidently as Teresa broke from cover.

Moving quickly Teresa ran from Pat, firing her crossbow to try to wing the attacker. Crimson Avenger dodged and altered his course, apparently not caring that Pat was now behind him. “Come on,” Teresa challenged, trying to keep him focused on her.

“For the seven!” Crimson Avenger took aim only to jerk as a arm grabbed him from behind. He shifted a bit then his eyes widened, “You?!”

“Yeah, me,” Pat scowled, “you know who I am?”

“Stripsey,” the Crimson Avenger look at him in shock, “one of the original seven!”

“Yeah,” Pat scowled, “an’ there’s no way in hell any of my old buddies would have approved of you chasing this girl, damn it.”

“But… she’s a Ludlow!” Crimson Avenger said weakly.

“Yeah, and she’s not responsible for her da,” Pat said to him firmly as he coldly slugged the guy unconscious.

“Think that’ll change his mind?” Teresa asked as she put another bolt into her crossbow.

“No,” Pat conceded, “but we gotta try.”

“Ye-haw, cowpokes!” a voice yelled as a lasso was whipped towards them.

“You have GOT to be kidding,” Pat muttered as a cowboy dressed Vigilante stand-in sauntered up, a old fashioned pistol in hand.

Vigilante twirled the lasso with one hand as he drawled, “Which one of you varmits wants to get it first?”

“That’s it,” Teresa calmly shot Vigilante’s hat off then met his eyes coldly, “the next shot goes about a inch lower.”

Vigilante had frozen with the first shot but brought his pistol hand up, “Why you….”

The kick in the nuts took him by surprise, causing him to collapse with a whimper to the ground. “Not that’s just fighting dirty,” Pat noted admiringly.

“Seven against two isn’t exactly fair, either,” Teresa said with a smirk as she gave Vigilante another kick for good measure.

“Hey, pat!” a woman’s voice called out and Pat grinned.

Descending from the sky was a girl dressed in blue, red and white, carrying a glowing staff with a hooked end. Her blonde hair fell around her face as the light shone of the white stars on her costume. “About time, Star Girl,” Pat grinned, “what took you?”

Star Girl dropped to the pavement, standing a little shorter than Teresa herself. “We were rounding up the rest of these guys,” she gestured to Vigilante, “they had a whole team getting ready to move in on you.”

“Thank you very much,” Teresa smiled, a little disturbed over being rescued by a kid younger than she was.

“You’re welcome,” Star Girl grinned. She looked her over, “I notice you’re not in costume?”

Teresa chuckled, “You know about the whole Spider thing, huh?” She shrugged, “I haven’t quite mastered the whole quick change thing yet.”

“Maybe I can ask Flash to give some tips?” Star Girl winked.

“I don’t think I could manage joking with him,” Teresa admitted, thinking about the well respected older hero.

“We all put our pants on one leg at a time,” Pat offered as they joined in with the others rounding up the false Seven Soldiers.

To be continued….

Notes: I had been meaning to catch up with Teresa earlier, but the plotline didn’t allow it. Ironically, the growing attacks by the fake Seven Soldiers have actually been good training to her, and she’s getting quite capable combat wise.

In the Shadow of the Bat – Spoiled Questions