Crimson Flare: The Threat of Pitchblende
Crimson Flare raced through the darkened streets of Mitropoulos, clutching her costume to keep it together in front of her. This was not be the first time it would have to be replaced, nor, did she expect, would it be the last. But it was the nearest run thing she could remember regarding her safety and dignity. The criminals she had apprehended tonight had been intent on humiliating her, she was sure of that. They would not have stopped with a mere rape. There would have been more in store.
But of even more concern was the way in which she had been captured. Why were there six men-including such a powerful man as Bloch-on such a small job? There were only four items on the robbers’ list, from only three stores. This robbery was an exercise in overkill. Unless… unless she was expected.
Arriving back at her apartment, she washed the work of the night from her. Feeling tired, she slept, but there were intrusions into this sleep, and she awoke early and not refreshed. Karen needed to talk to Crimson Flare’s patron.
It would have been impossible for Karen to undertake this work alone. Her job as a nurse would have worn her out most days and the cost of research and development on her baton were beyond her income. ‘It’s expensive to be a superheroine,’ she said on more than one occasion.
‘That’s why I’m here,’ Stacy had told her. ‘That’s why my parents left me their estate and fortune, to do some good in the world. You were meant to be their instrument.’
Stacy Randle’s parents were the wealthiest people in Mitropoulos. Stacy was their only child and, following her experience with Brian Hirsch, she decided that marriage and men were not part of her immediate future. Therefore, although she was the most sought-after woman in the state, with the scions of businessmen, professional families, and old money all seeking to ally their fortunes with hers, Stacy remained single and suspicious.
She trusted Karen Perry. Karen had saved her life, she believed, and Karen had the means to save others. She became Karen’s confidante, Mother Superior, and supplier. Karen regularly gave her the details of her adventures (for such they had been until last night) and used Stacy as a sounding board for any doubts.
Karen went to Stacy’s penthouse today, rather than simply calling. The visit went on for hours as Karen expressed her fears about her vulnerability and the disaster it invited. Karen’s doubts required Stacy to make a multiplied effort to convince the young champion to remain in the field. But she had no answer to Karen’s final question: ‘How will you help me when I won’t be able to help myself?’
Stacy could only promise to increase her intelligence gathering for the heroine, so that she would not find herself in a similar situation. She produced a new uniform, the crimson and gold sequins glinting in the brilliant late afternoon sun. It reminded Karen of how tired she was, and how she didn’t want to argue with her oldest friend. She just wanted to get some more rest before the night. Stacy obliged by providing her friend with the guest bedroom and several hours of uninterrupted sleep. Crimson Flare awoke in time to enter the darkened lists of her chosen field of combat, now more careful about dealing with her adversaries.
As America’s Darling now went about her nighttime commitment with a greater sense of caution than ever before, the heroine decided, for this night, she would remain away from the gang-dominated areas of Mitropoulos down by the Hutson River. Normally, she would pass through these areas at least twice each evening. The gangs that dominated this area, the Savoyards and the Normans, represented the changing nature of the great city. The Savoyards were made up of the third and fourth generation of immigrants who began arriving in Mitropoulos in the period around the Great Depression and World War II. The Normans were the most recent arrivals, those who have come in the last twenty years. In both cases, the gang members were those who could not compete in the new economy or who had no place in the old one. All they had was a propensity for violence and contacts in the national underworld that provided them with guns and the other paraphernalia of crime.
Crimson Flare had dealt with both groups effectively, cutting into their activities-and their profits-significantly over the last year. In doing so, she had made some determined enemies, enemies whom Pitchblende had contacted.
Pitchblende had been gathering and cataloging information on the superheroine since his arrival in Mitropoulos. The two robbers who had escaped last night had provided only the most recent data on her strengths and abilities. While Karen Perry slept, he mobilised his contacts in the gangs, to prepare them to remove this thorn from his side. He believed he knew enough about her to do so; and with the gangs, he believed he also had the necessary manpower.
In fact, it would be three days before Crimson Flare would return to the river district. On the night she did so, she would quickly discover what the Savoyards had been up to.
The river lapped against the wharf behind the warehouse as the masked champion moved to investigate the reports she had heard of the drug buy. This was a Savoyard hideout, and it was a notorious heroin distribution point. Only three months before, Crimson Flare and broken up a major drug deal in this very warehouse, an episode which established her as the city’s most important defender. In fact, this earlier success was precisely the reason Pitchblende had directed the Savoyards to set up tonight’s activities here. Nothing better to catch the heroine off-guard than to lull her into a false sense of security at this scene of her earlier triumph. Tonight, he was sure, would be different.
Stacy’s source was one of her most reliable. It was equally important that she was in no way connected to Crimson Flare. Thus, when the heroine showed up at the warehouse, she came upon a scene that had been rehearsed for two nights, as the actors only hoped that the scene would be viewed by the desired audience; there was no guarantee that she would show up.
Crimson approached the river depot from the waterway that marked the northern boundary of Mitropoulos. Following the riverbank for a quarter of a mile upstream, the superheroine saw no evidence of criminal activity anywhere. This, in itself, was suspicious, kind of like the dog that didn’t bark. The river district was usually rife with underworld and underground dealings that, to see nothing transpiring was reason in itself to be apprehensive.
So the gold-and-crimson-clad beauty approached the warehouse with care. Climbing to the roof and peering in a glass skylight, she saw the men moving through their by-now well-rehearsed motions. Again, her suspicions were raised, because there seemed to be no sentries, no security. It was a trap!
She moved quietly and quickly to the fire escape on the north side of the building, facing the river. Even in the face of this danger, she still had to prevent the dope deal tonight. When she reached the second floor, she peered in the window. The entire floor was dark, except for the emergency lights burning in the halls and stairwells. She knew that on this floor was a now-unused refrigeration locker. Its thick walls were what first attracted the Savoyards; they had reinforced the heavy steel door, and now it provided an impenetrable security device, protecting their valuables and also serving as a bug proof conference and meeting room.
But Crimson Flare had penetrated this room, on a number of occasions. And if the Savoyards had drugs for sale, this was where they were kept.
Slipping through the window, she made her way along the dim hallway, heading toward the locker, which occupied the central core of the second floor. As she approached the steel door, she drew her baton from its sheath in her belt.
She whipped the white, innocuous-looking staff, telescoping it to its full two-and-a-half foot length. Listening carefully, she heard no sounds whatsoever on this floor. From the stairwell, she heard the distant sounds of members of the Savoyards milling through the building.
She placed herself directly in front of the door and leveled a heavy blast at the lock. A puff of smoke emerged from the mechanism; a faint ‘Pop’ and electric crackling were the only sounds. Certainly not enough to attract attention. She twisted the handle, but the door didn’t budge.
‘They must have reinforced it since the last time I was here,’ the heroine thought to herself. She leveled a second charge at the lock, this one the most powerful that could be drawn from the baton. Again, the sound was minimal… and so, apparently, was the effect.
She tried a third time, and this time the door swung free. Returning the baton to her belt, Crimson Flare opened the vault and entered the large space. She pulled the vault door closed behind her and turned on the light switch to the left of the entrance.
It looked like any conference room, at a law firm or a business office. In the center was a large wooden table, surrounded by ten matching chairs. In the corner was a bar, lavishly stocked, and the ceiling lights cast a comfortable indirect glow throughout the space. Two heavy metal closets had been placed in the space: this was where the Savoyards kept much of their valuable merchandise. They too were made of metal and appeared to have thick sides and doors. If there was anything missing, it was the need for some wall decoration. The bare metal of the former refrigerated locker gave the room an intense sterility.
As the masked champion made her way to the large safe against the far wall, she again drew her baton. She hoped that it had recharged enough that it would open the safe with a single burst. Otherwise, she would have to wait for the full recharge, fifteen minutes during which she could be in grave danger.
Again, the baton telescoped out to its full length and the heroine leveled it at the safe. Pulsing at full power, Crimson Flare knew immediately that opening the vault door had drained too much of its limited resources. She would have to wait while it recharged.
Crimson pushed the baton back into the sheath at her left hip. She moved back toward the vault door, intending to turn off the lights. No reason to attract any unwanted attention while here, she reasoned.
But before she could walk even that short distance she saw the heavy door swing almost soundlessly on its hinges and shut, the muffled click of a locking mechanism trapping the heroine inside. She ran, now, to the door, braced her small body against its heavy weight, and pushed for all she was worth. It didn’t budge.
Looking over the face of the metal, she saw no handle, lever, knob, or switch by which she could open it. The doorframe was made of the same heavy metal and would not give under her probing fingers. In fact, the interior walls of the entire room were metal, without even a niche or an alcove where the heroine might begin to find a way out. Bringing her great strength to bear, she felt the metal bend under the pressure, but there was no penetrating these walls.
‘It was a trap, and my baton still needs a lot of time to recharge before I can take on the door again,’ she thought to herself. ‘The door must be secured by an independent lock from the one I destroyed earlier.’ She felt anger and frustration at her own stupidity that had led her to this.
‘Well, girl, there’s no point in getting upset. When my baton is recharged, I’ll open the door. I’ll probably have to fight my way out, but I’ve done that before.’ She sighed, still frustrated.
It was at this point that she smelled the sweet odor of the mist gradually filling the room. Looking down, she saw a white cloud pouring from ducts along the baseboards. These ducts were all but unnoticeable, and, through them, a fog now lying a-foot-and-a-half above the floor was pouring into the metal conference room.
Rushing to one of the openings, she knelt and pushed her small fingers into the aperture. As the potent gas washed over her face she jumped back. It burned, but, even more important, she recognised it for what it was. Chloropetamyn was a something she had seen in use at the hospital. It was used to sedate violent patients in emergency room procedures: very powerful, very quick acting.
She had breathed in only a small bit of the anaesthetic, but she already felt some dizziness. Standing, she shook her cowled head. Crimson Flare lifted off her vinyl mask and brushed her satin gloves across her eyes, which, even in this short time, had begun to tear. Replacing her form-fitting mask, she took a deep breath of the air above the gas now lying on the floor up to her muscular, perfect thighs. Then she plunged into the mist, searching for the opening on the floor. If it could let the gas in, it might be enough to let her out.
In a moment she found the hole. She pulled upward against the metal wall, and slowly made headway against the barrier. Swallowed up in the mist, she pulled and tore at the metal, desperately seeking to escape. As she slowly widened the aperture for herself, she felt the lightheadedness that was a characteristic of the chloro overtaking her. Unless she could get to fresh air quickly, she would soon be totally disoriented.
Those outside the vault saw the white mist begin to seep, and then pour, from inside as the hole in the wall widened. The three-inch-thick metal wall creaked and groaned as the power of Crimson Flare tore an opening large enough for her small frame to crawl through. She emerged into the now well-lit hallway where her enemies were waiting for her.
She tumbled against the wooden flooring, emerging from the white haze like a ghost ship. She tried to spring to her feet as soon as she felt the floor under her, but the chloro had taken its toll. Crimson knew that she was at a disadvantage. She must strike out against any hands and arms gripping and grasping her. She would have to do so almost blindly. Behind her mask, her eyes were closed against the sting of the gas and tears flowed across and under the vinyl. The powerful young woman had only risen to one knee when she felt the first pair of hands grab her from behind. Then a second set of hands grabbed at her right arm. Using her great strength she pulled away from the hands gripping her arm, but as she rose the man behind her only pulled himself against her and placed a bear hug around her chest. As she stood, he came up with her, literally riding her back.
Reaching over her left shoulder, Crimson felt the man’s head and shoulders. She firmly grasped his hair with one hand and his jacket with the other and, dipping forward, she threw him off her. Still blind, she felt behind her now, looking for the wall of the vault.
Instead, she found open space. She shifted to her right, looking for the wall. Suddenly, intense pain shot through her as one of her antagonists struck her with a metal pipe behind her left leg. The leg collapsed and she fell to one knee.
As soon as she had dropped, the young heroine opened her eyes, hoping to find her attackers. But their advantage over the hobbled superheroine remained, and all was a blur. She looked about helplessly, her eyes streaming with tears, her exposed skin now burning as a result of its exposure to the chloropetamyn. She gritted her teeth and tried to rise yet again.
Her assailants used her blindness to close on the crimson-clad beauty. The heavy work boot of one of them connected with the side of her jaw, dropping her, leaving the blinded superheroine seated on the floor. They watched as her arms reached outward, seeking those who attacked her. In this, she continued to fail, as the Savoyards stayed out of her reach.
Suddenly, one of the gang members struck Crimson Flare from behind. The force of his fist on the back of her vinyl cowl drove her forward. She swayed now, still seated, still reaching out helplessly.
Another attacker placed himself directly in front of the blind champion. His blow to her head rocked the young woman, as she continued to sway. Her arms dropped to her sides, now useless against this unseen enemy. Her attacker hit the helpless avenger again.
Blood flowed freely from her broken lip. Her head drooped and fell against her chest. Her body continued to sway as she vigourously resisted losing consciousness.
Now she was lifted bodily from the floor as three men held up the helpless superheroine.
‘Release the bitch!’ the one who had taken the two shots at her commanded. The men’s arms fell away, and Crimson Flare wobbled, barely standing, her knees bent.
‘This is something we’ve all been waiting for,’ he said, and a cheer went up from the men surrounding her. Even though she retained her superstrength, her consciousness was almost gone. She could not use her power, even to save herself.
He grabbed the front of her costume, bunching up the sequin-covered spandex in his fists. He pulled the stunned young woman directly to him. ‘So this is the powerful Crimson Flare.’ He spat her name with contempt. ‘America’s Darling. You’re going to be America’s Slut in a few hours.’ Then he shoved her backwards with all his strength, and she smashed into the metal outside wall of the vault.
Still, in her blindness, she tried to fight back. Seeking her tormentor, she reached out again. She found the arm of one of the gang members who had wandered too near. He was violently yanked off his feet, first pulled toward her, and then pushed in the direction of the voice she had just heard make the threats. The flailing body missed that voice, but plowed into another criminal, sending the two of them sprawling. One cried in pain when his shoulder was dislocated in the collision, the other lay unconscious.
Again, the Savoyards turned on the superheroine. Her victory was a brief one; her strength momentarily demonstrated only when she was given the opportunity to fight back. But she was still blind, and still surrounded by an unknown number of assailants. She was still fighting the weakness and dizziness induced by the gas. She was still unarmed.
Three of her attackers now leaped at their prize. Caught by surprise, she was quickly taken to the floor. Before she could call upon her strength to throw them off, the heroine was being kicked and punched by all around her. Unable to fight back, she now grunted and groaned as each fist and foot found its mark. Soon the pain was all she felt. Even her strength was no help to her any more.
The gang now pulled the barely conscious form of Mitropoulos’ savior to her feet. Helpless to resist, her wrists were tied, and, with that, her strength left her. The same man who had heaped scorn upon the heroine earlier now stood before her again. ‘What’s the matter, Crimson Flare? Not feeling a hundred percent? Why? Whatever could be the matter?’
They took turns taking a free shot at the powerless champion. She was tossed from one member to another, and each blow elicited an ever-weakening groan from the fading warrior. After only four blows she collapsed to the floor. She lay there, hands bound behind her back, laying on her right side with her right leg drawn up, its heel under her left knee. Blood still flowed from her broken lip, and a fresh cut seeped more blood just below her mask on her left cheek. For the first time, Crimson Flare had been defeated.
‘Let’s take care of this cunt,’ the leader ordered. ‘String her up.’
The unconscious heroine was now pulled up and her hands untied. The rope was looped around one wrist. She was carried to a room down the hall. There she was placed in the centre of the area, her arms were raised over her head and the rope tossed over two pipes that crossed the ceiling. The free end of the rope was secured around her other gloved wrist. Her small body hung, suspended from the pipes, the tips of her booted toes barely touching the floor. Finally, fresh ropes were tied around the shiny black leather at her ankles.
She was powerless, beaten, and in the power of her enemies. They were only waiting for her to regain her senses.
She felt dryness in her mouth. Her muscles ached. Her body, stretched, felt weak. Crimson Flare struggled to pull her head up, and the vinyl of her cowl slipped smoothly along her bare arms that were stretched above her. As her green eyes opened, the blur slowly fell away. Through the window she saw that it was still dark, though far down on the eastern horizon she could see the first glimmer of a red dawn. ‘Red sky at dawning, Sailor take warning;/Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight,’ she thought to herself. Fear was added to her pain.
Her toes barely reached the floor; the soles of her highly polished boots slid easily over the rough boards beneath her. This only added to the pain in her shoulders, for she could get only a little support under her. Her ribs and stomach felt the results of the pummeling she had been given by the Savoyards. Now it was stretched and it felt like she may have broken a rib or two.
Neither Karen nor Stacy had foreseen anything like this. As Crimson Flare, Karen was to protect the citizens of Mitropoulos from the parasites of society. And for a while, it had been fun, using her great strength to toss around muggers and thieves. They had never been a threat to her. This was different. She was afraid.
She coughed quietly. She felt blood in her mouth. She breathed deeply and tested her rope bonds. She tried to pull herself up but she was too weak, her body had been punished too much to do so. Casting her eyes upward, she saw that her wrists were roped together and that the length of rope running between them was stretched over a pair of pipes running the length of the ceiling. Looking down she saw the toes of her black leather boots barely touching the floor.
She grabbed the rope with her right hand. Doing so took a little time, as she had to maneuver her wrist, hand, and arm to get the rope to run through the palm of her hand. By closing her hand around the rope, she hid the finely honed claw that she would use to cut the rope. It would be harder, this time, to work her hand over the rope; it would take longer. She just hoped that the gang that had captured her would give her the time to complete the job.
Fighting through the pain, she struggled to begin to cut away at her bonds. The throbbing in her ribs gave way to stabs of pain, but Crimson Flare knew that no ribs had been broken. What she felt was nothing more than the result of the punches and kicks that had been directed at her. Slowly, she felt the claw begin to make its way through the ropes.
That was when she was grabbed from behind. The pressure as the attacker wrapped his arms around her torso reminded her of all the places where her body ached. She groaned loudly as she was lifted off her feet and spun around. In doing so she lost her hold on the rope.
‘Good morning, my little superheroine.’ It was the gangster who had verbally attacked her during the fight a couple of hours ago. ‘Or, maybe you’re not such a superheroine now,’ he added.
‘Uuhhnnnggg!!’ was all the costumed crimefighter could muster as he dropped her, and her wrists took her full weight. Crimson was now hanging limply from the ceiling.
‘Very articulate, Crimson Flare.’ His aspect changed to a frightening one; he dropped his face so that he was now looking at her over the top of the sunglasses that he still wore. There was firmness in his jaw. ‘We’ve been warned about what we need to do to keep you under control, little girl. Whoever it was that contacted us, certainly got it right. Tying you makes you weak, doesn’t it?’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Crimson Flare countered, knowing it was a bad bluff.
‘All right,’ he said, stepping back. ‘Go. Escape. Beat me up.’ He waited, as Crimson Flare finally stopped swinging freely, her toes brushing lightly against the floor.
‘Evidently you’ve decided you will wait for a more opportune moment. Perhaps when our “boss” has arrived to see his prize. But there’s bad news for you there, little girl.’ Crimson was beginning to hate his condescension. ‘Whoever he is, he’s not coming. We won the right to have you for our very own, Crimson Flare. When we took you down, you became our prize. Evidently he just wants you out of the way. We get to do that.
‘I can’t tell you how excited we are to have this chance. There are a dozen Savoyards who simply want to kill you, for sending their kin and friends to Recitative,’ he said, growing angry as he referred to the maximum-security prison upstate. ‘But cooler heads have so far prevailed. Even more of our members have been having wet dreams about you for months. Those fantastic legs and that ass, the mystery of that mask, the idea of a young girl like you-they just want to fuck your brains out. Hell, I’m getting hard on just standing here watching you.’ The masked heroine could see it was true.
‘But we have a problem, as you may have guessed. We can’t cut you down without restoring your strength. And that’s something we don’t want to happen. We were going to put cuffs on you-’ here he showed America’s Darling a set of handcuffs-‘but our benefactor doesn’t know whether it’s bondage or simply ropes that takes the fight out of you. I’m not in the mood to experiment.’
As Crimson Flare listened to the leader of the Savoyards, a man she knew to be named JoJo Savanarol, she realised that too much was becoming common knowledge about her activities. She had become careless. Carelessness was the cause of her predicament.
As JoJo had been speaking, four more men entered the room behind him. The powerless heroine saw that they carried ropes and a pipe. JoJo approached her and continued to address her. ‘I didn’t think you would be very cooperative in this. So I have some help.’ He gave a small hand signal to the men behind him and they moved to surround the suspended superheroine. Two of them reached up and grabbed her forearms. They forcibly crossed them at her wrists. A third carefully wrapped a rope around her wrists, tying them securely. Crimson Flare now hung from the ceiling by a rope slung over the pipes and connected at her wrists, while a separate rope tied those wrists together tightly.
She was released and swung back and forth freely. One of the men who held her pulled a knife from his pocket and cut the twine that ran to the ceiling, the same rope she had been cutting with the claw concealed in her glove, as well as the rope that bound her ankles. Crimson Flare’s arms dropped in front of her as the soles of her boots clumped to the floor. The men around her grabbed her before she could make a move. Her upper arms were pulled back behind her and the thick three-inch diameter pipe was shoved into the crook of her elbows, and pressed against the small of her back.
Crimson Flare stood now among her captors. Her hands were tied at the wrist in front of her crimson-and-gold-sequined costume. A separate strand of cord hung down and dragged on the floor. Her hands rested on top of her hips, right in front of her black leather belt, now stripped of the baton so that the holster was empty at her side. Her arms were bent at the elbow where a thick, heavy pipe rested, restricting her movement even more.
‘All right, superheroine. Follow me,’ JoJo commanded quietly. One of the men pushed Crimson in the direction of the door. Still in pain, she stumbled out of the room.
In the hall were dozens of Savoyards, dressed in gang uniforms and colours, lined up to watch her pass. Some hooted and whistled, most smiled or laughed. A few just glared, like lions watching a herd of elk. These were the ones to be afraid of.
She walked down the hall, the overhead lights reflecting off her vinyl mask and cowl, off the sequins of her costume, off the high polish of her black leather boots. The costume had been selected because it gave Karen a sense of strength and command. Now all it did was draw the attention of these men to her.
She knew that her costume did give her an advantage in combat. It effectively showed off the advantages of her body, her legs, her figure, and it offered a distraction. She had used it to win on more than one occasion. She had never thought about how provocative it could be.
Many of the Savoyards followed the heroine to the room on the third floor to which JoJo led the convoy. By the time they arrived, Crimson Flare was sweating, her step was nervous, and her breathing was shallow. She almost tripped over the loose-hanging rope that dragged along the floor between her leather-encased feet. Behind her, watching the movements of her body, particularly of her round perfect thighs and provocatively shaped ass, was a crowd of gang members, greedy for the fruits of last night’s work. Her situation was made worse by the fact that the ropes which held her, and which weakened her, were tied around her wrists. She could not reach them with the claw that was concealed in her satin glove at the base of her palm. As she faltered up the stairs behind JoJo, she pressed her bound wrists against her hard abdomen, pushing the rope looped around her wrists further toward her hands. If she could get one loop of the rope past the edge of the claw, she could begin to cut away at it.
She stood before the door, dreading what would happen next. One of her guards opened the door. JoJo, who was now standing behind her, shouted, ‘GO IN!!’ The nearness and the suddenness of his change of attitude startled the heroine. ‘GET IN THERE!! He shouted again, quickly. Then he pushed her into a room that was bare except for the carpeting on the floor.
Stumbling through the door, she heard the laughter of the men outside as she fell to the floor. JoJo followed her in, slamming the door behind him. ‘OK, little superheroine, you’re going to be my whore for the next little bit,’ he told her, plainly struggling to keep his voice modulated. ‘You’re going to do all the things a whore should, and then, when I’m done, anyone outside who wants to pay for your services will also see you at work. Do you understand?’ The object of this tirade struggled to rise, but the pipe between her arms and her back prevented her.
At this moment, Karen didn’t understand how Crimson Flare could respond as she did. She turned her face to the man above her and said, ‘If you think you can make me grovel, if I’m just going to give up, you’re sadly mistaken. I willingly submit to no man.’
She barely saw the fist. It struck her just below her black vinyl mask on her left cheek, at the same spot as last night’s severe bruise. Blood trickled down her cheek.
‘Let’s try this again.’ He stooped in front of her face. ‘You’re going to pleasure me, little superheroine. And only when I say so will you stop.’ He slapped her across the face. ‘Then you’ll do it some more when I’m ready.’ Again, the slap across the face. ‘And when I’m through, you’ll service as many as want to pay for you.’ Another slap. ‘You have a lot of fans out in that hall. They can’t wait to get their hands on you.’ Once more, a slap across the face.
Crimson Flare stared up into the face of her tormentor. ‘I will not willingly submit to you.’ She continued to struggle against the bondage. She felt that single loop of rope cross the horned edge of the claw.
Grabbing the pipe with both hands, JoJo yanked the heroine up, placing her on her feet, but with her arms and shoulders in great pain. Then his fist crunched into her abdomen, just below her aching ribs. ‘AAAAaaagghh…!!’ the heroine cried out, as all the air was forced out of her body. Doubled over, she looked up in time to see him raise his fist again, and bring it smashing down on the side of her head. She crumpled to her knees in front of him.
‘Do we have an understanding?’ he asked. ‘I can do anything I want to you. You will do anything I tell you to, just so that I don’t.’
Crimson Flare tasted the blood in her mouth now. Through gritted teeth she spat, ‘Go to hell!’
Again his punch ripped into her, this time an uppercut knocking her onto her back. The throbbing in her arms and shoulders was tremendous. Dazed, she lay on the floor, trying to bring the world into focus. When she had done so she stared down at her bound hands pressing against her abdomen, wishing the ropes away. Her right leg curled under her as she sought again to stand.
But JoJo was having none of that. ‘It’s time, little superheroine,’ he said, as he pushed her shoulders back, watching her fall to her back again. He dropped to his knees, straddling her body. He pulled the pipe out from under her. The superheroine heaved a sigh as the pain eased slightly. But then he placed one hand around her throat and squeezed.
This caught the young heroine by surprise. She fought for breath, but her arms were trapped under JoJo’s body. She twisted her head, gasping. Nothing did any good.
‘I can do anything I want to you. I can kill you. I can beat the shit out of you.’ There was no moderation now.
The heroine gasped as he released her. ‘Then do it,’ she told him in an aching whisper.
He grabbed her by the gold-and crimson of her uniform, taking two large handfuls of the costume that had become so recognisable and revered by the citizens of Mitropoulos. As he stood, he pulled the petite form of the heroine up with him. Her boots thunked on the floor. He pushed her forcefully into the wall behind her, smacking the back of her head against the structure.
As she stood dazed, he moved his hands to the neckline of the leotard. Pulling downward with all his strength, he tore and stretched the material, revealing Crimson Flare’s shoulders and chest.
‘You may be small,’ he told her, his eyes wide, ‘but you really do drive guys wild. And it’s not just those great legs of yours.’ He spun her around so that one arm lay across her throat, from shoulder to shoulder. His other and rested on her breast, cupping its roundness, pinching the nipple. Crimson could feel his erection pressing against the top of her ass and into the small of her back. She tried to resist, but he pushed and forced her to the floor on her knees. On his knees, too, he straddled her black boots.
Surprisingly, he was gentle. Even as Crimson Flare struggled vigorously to free herself from his grip, his hand lightly played over her pink aureole. He was strong. The bondage had already done its work weakening the heroine. The combination of his controlling strength and this unexpected tenderness drew the breath from her. Her head fell against his chest. The racing hormones that took away her strength seemed to center in her groin. She felt her clitoris blossom and press downward, parting her lips. She pressed her knees and thighs together as she sat back on her haunches and against JoJo in a vain attempt to control her body. But it would not be controlled. She moaned. She struggled, but more weakly now.
His hand pressed lightly over her abdomen underneath her costume. In time, he discovered that he needn’t restrain her, so with the other hand he pulled down the costume, at the same time running it over her strong back. Both hands reached her hips at about the same time, one encountering the tuft of dark brown hair already pungent with her sweet-smelling honey, the other reaching for her cheeks and the crack between them filled with sweat. He taunted her again. ‘America’s Darling doesn’t wear underwear. That’s something for the tabloids.’ Using his hands and forearms, JoJo continued to push her costume down. The heroine struggled, pulling her body this way and that, but it was in vain. She could defeat neither his strength nor her weakness brought on by the bondage.
His mouth was also busy, working over the back of her neck, bare below her cowl. His tongue passed over her jaw and he reached around and took her lower lip in his teeth, biting it lightly and licking it. Her breathing grew shallow and, at the same time, she struggled again against this onslaught.
Now JoJo forced her forward, and the two of them fell to the floor. He twisted her in his grip along with his own body, so that they landed on their sides, and he had wrapped both arms around her upper body. As they lay there, he nuzzled the back of her neck, smelling her sweat and the residue of her perfume. ‘You’re a classy girl, Crimson Flare. I have a taste for class.’ The helpless heroine began breathing more rapidly, trying to lift his arms away from her body. JoJo would have none of it.
And all the while, she continued to try to tear away at her bonds with the claw in the palm of her hand.
They lay on the floor a moment, her costume now down at her hips. Suddenly, he reached behind her and tugged both the sequin-covered costume and the translucent tights beneath them down to her thighs. ‘Ohh, no,’ Crimson Flare whispered hoarsely. For the moment she forgot about the task at hand and pressed her thighs together, tightening her muscles to resist her attacker.
JoJo struck her in the spine, hard, using the flat of his hand to drive the air from her momentarily and to snap her head back. Before she could right her head, his hand was under her chin, holding her. ‘Whether this is easy or hard, it’s going to be done, dear little superheroine.’ She continued to resist, breathing raggedly through her nose, which flared under her mask.
His hand slipped down to her throat, and again she gasped, struggling for air as he squeezed. After a moment, she felt lightheaded. She rasped, seeking the breath he was denying her. As he released her throat, he again struck her, this time at about the level of her kidneys. The pain shot through her. ‘This can be easy or hard.’ He released the heroine and she slumped to the floor, while he now stood beside her. Her costume was around her thighs as she lay on her side. He used his foot to roll her onto her back, revealing the dark brown tuft that marked the treasure he sought.
The Darling of Mitropoulos looked up at him as he now stood over her. ‘Wwh- why- are you doing this?’
‘To put you in your place. You’ve sent a lot of my men to prison. You’ve sent friends to prison. The people of this city have lost respect for us. They need to see you as nothing more than the woman you are, little superheroine.’
Tears formed in the masked avenger’s eyes as she listened to this. What was happening was not a matter of gang revenge against her as a crimefighter, or even as the heroine she had become. It was revenge because she was a woman.
JoJo knelt in front of her and slapped her face again. ‘You’ve been messing where you shouldn’t’ve. You have to be taught a lesson. You’ve got yourself involved in a man’s world, and a man’s business. This is what happens when real men are involved.’ JoJo stood up and undid his pants.
He grabbed hold of her forearms. He pulled them away from her body, and as he did so, the rope slid away from the claw. She could not continue cutting her bonds. He turned her over, onto her stomach, her arms extended in front of her face. Then she felt her hips being lifted from behind, so that she was on her knees. Her chest, head, and arms extended from her elevated ass in front of the gang leader.
Then he penetrated her. It was such a shock and such a rough entry that, for a second, the heroine didn’t respond. But the pain his erection generated in her dry insides was real. She screamed. She felt him pull the cowl off the back of her head and grab a handful of her dark brown hair. Her head was lifted from the floor and then smashed roughly into the rough boards. ‘Shut up!’
She felt him saw in and out of her. Each movement elicited a cry of agony. Each cry brought a fresh swipe of his hand against her head or another smash against the floor. In a few moments she was cut and bleeding profusely. Yet he never ceased his action in and out of her raw sex. In those same few moments, she became too tired to cry out. And she was too tired to try to resume cutting the rope. Now the claw sat useless, and the rope out of its reach.
She heard his breathing become more rapid as the slapping of their hips increased in tempo. His breathing became grunting and his tugs on her hair became wilder and more frantic. As he pushed into her and moved forward, he pulled her head and upper body from the floor. As he pulled out again, he extended his arm and her body dropped toward the wooden boards. Sometimes she dropped all the way to the floor, Most of the time she remained suspended above them. But the movement brought the claw and rope together again.
When he came, he dropped her to the floor and fell on top of her. She grunted as it happened.
He pulled himself from her as roughly as he had entered. She hurt too much to cry out this time. Before she could react, he rolled her onto her back. She lay on the floor, her costume now down around her black boots, her arms extended over her head. ‘You look like hell,’ he told her. Her face was bleeding from several cuts around her jaw.
She saw his erection. Evidently the rumours about his prowess were true. He pulled her toward him, pushing her booted calves under her, and entered her again. If anything, the second rape was more violent than the first. As he again pounded in and out of her unresisting body, he violently smacked her face, drawing more blood, viciously squeezed and pulled her breasts, and overwhelmed her with a continuous barrage of verbal abuse, name-calling and derogation. Her body shook under the assault.
When he finished this time, he stood over her. Looking down on his powerless victim, he smiled, and said, ‘That’s my good little superwhore. You made it worth my while. In a little while, you’ll do it again.’ He reached down and pulled off her costume, tearing away the tights at the tops of her black boots. Crimson Flare sobbed softly, her body rising and falling fitfully as she wept.
How could this be happening? she thought. All that she had done to make the people of Mitropoulos feel safer was being undone in a single event. Stacy and Karen had conceived of the claw to prevent this: her strength would save her once she cut any bindings. But now there was no chance for that. She had been raped. Raped by JoJo Savanarol. There were a dozen more waiting outside. What would happen to her before this night was over? Tears streamed beneath her mask.
Then, a short while later, ‘Get up!’ she heard JoJo order. She stumbled to her feet. The humiliation she felt was overwhelming. ‘Come here.’
She shuffled across the room toward the voice. In her nakedness, she felt ashamed. She should never have tried to be something she evidently was not. The first time she ran into a major criminal, she was captured, raped-perhaps gang-raped-and humbled by this man. What did she think she was doing? Why had she begun this? Her shoulders shook as these thoughts raced through her mind.
‘On your knees, little superbitch. You’re going to use that mouth of yours to get me up for another go.’
‘Ooohh, nnoooo.’ She said it softly. He struck her across the mouth.
‘You sound ungrateful. This is what you signed on to do when you put on that costume to give every guy in town a hard-on. And every guy will know that you did your duty by the time we let you go. Film at eleven. Now. GET… ON… YOUR… KNEES!’ There was more than an implicit threat in the final command.
Slowly, aware of how closely JoJo was watching her, and of the lust in his eyes, Crimson Flare, America’s Darling, the Guardian of Mitropoulos, fell to her knees before the leader of the Savoyards.
‘Open your mouth.’ The implicit threat was still there.
His penis, now flaccid, still dripping with cum he had generated during the first two rapes, was before her. She opened her mouth.
‘Now, darlin’. Get me up again.’
It lasted two hours. At the end, Crimson Flare was on her knees, her head fallen forward to her chest. Her breathing was ragged, spasmodic. Her hair, which had once been covered by the black vinyl cowl, was soaked with perspiration, plastered against the sides of her head. Some was also stuck to her forehead, giving her something of a pageboy look. Her mask was still in place. JoJo seemed to intend it that way; he could have removed it at any time during the ordeal. Below the vinyl, her face gave evidence of the violent sex which was JoJo’s way of doing things: scratches, cuts, and bruises. From one particularly nasty cut, a blood trail traced its way down her chin and neck to her chest. Bruises also marked her upper torso. Her nipples were red and scratched as well. Crimson Flare’s entire body was covered with sweat, rivulets running now down her chest and back. Dirt and debris from the ill-kept carpet were evident all over her.
Her wrists were still bound in front of her, her hands sitting on her lap, prayerful. The satin gloves had some small tears and had both been bunched near her wrists. This activity had again brought strands of rope across the claw in her right palm, but the heroine had not taken advantage of it. Shattered, her spirit broken by her torment, she had taken the multiple rapes without resisting.
Now, JoJo approached the powerless woman who knelt in the centre of the room. He had his clothing again nattily in place. He reached down and grabbed the former heroine’s hair at the back of her head, and, sniggering, he pulled her to her feet. The cry, which passed through her broken, puffed lips, was only a murmur.
‘Come, little superslut. You’ve only begun.’ With that he pushed the naked woman toward the door. She stumbled a step or two and again fell. She rested on her knees with her bound hands supporting her upper body. She stared at the floor and watched as drool spooled downward toward the filthy carpet. ‘What? You don’t want to meet your adoring public? Then, I’ll have to invite them in.’ He walked purposefully toward the door.
She wanted to tell him ‘No,’ but she was too tired and in too much pain. All that came out was a whisper of agony. She didn’t even watch as he opened the door. She didn’t see the crowd of gang members gathered in the hall, each awaiting his turn with the superheroine. She barely heard JoJo Savanarol tell them that the price for his whore was twenty-five dollars. She clearly heard the screeching of voices as they vied for priority with the petite beauty.
When the door closed, she was alone with the first of the Savoyards.
End of Chapter Three