HAWK & DAGGER HALLOWEEN SPECIAL
(with apologies to Jason Hernandez Rosenblatt after his story in the Silver Age Secret Files)
Hank placed the phone back on the receiver. Tandy caught his eye as he exited the phone booth. "You look like you're wanting to tell me something. Did Steve cancel for the party tonight? I've been looking forward to meeting your old college chum."
Hank replied slowly, "He sounded upset. We're going to talk to him in person."
Tandy nodded, "I think I remember you mentioning where he worked ... things aren't working out for him at that television station?"
Hank shook his head, "Wouldn't say. Why don't you come along? We're on our way to the costume party anyway, no point in my coming back to get you ... that'll make us even later."
Tandy picked up the helmet she had purchased at the costume shop. "I suppose so ... I'm sure 'Spider-boy' and 'Dr. Strangefate' can arrive fashionably late for a party ... we can just think of it as arriving in the nick of time."
Hank hailed a taxi, and the couple trekked to the other side of town. Hank tipped the driver, "Wait for us, and keep the meter running."
"I wonder what's going on." Hank started up the steps of the old brownstone, "Steve's door is wide open."
Tandy followed Hank as he bounded up through the door. He shouted, "Steve!"
Tandy peered around his shoulder into the unlit room. A gasp escaped her lips as she saw the prone figure on the ground.
Hank leaned down by the man's side. "He looks like he was shot."
Tandy bit her lip, and placed her hand on Hank's shoulder. "We ought to call the police."
Hawk picked up a small card by the corpse's hand. "No, not yet. This is personal. Steve was trying to ask for my help, and I failed him. And ... I think I've found something. Something addressed to me."
Tandy quirked an eyebrow. "What does it mean?"
Hank scowled, "It means that Hawk and Dagger may be needed ... or ... uh ... Spider-boy and Dr. Strangefate as the case may be."
Tandy noted, "It's a drawing of a crescent moon and a sun ... I think I understand what Steve was trying to tell you. Moon and shine!"
Hank nodded, "Moonshine. He may have been referring to that old bootlegger's air strip outside of town ... Whitko Airfield!" Hank turned the card front and back. "Odd ... it looks like a business card, but it's completely blank gray, other than what Steve wrote."
The couple taxi'd out to the air strip, sending the driver on his way. Tandy donned the helmet. "May as well complete the image," she responded to Hank's askance look, shrugging the cloak around the front of her body, effectively concealing her gender.
As they wandered through the darkened air strip, Tandy took Hank by the arm. "I'm not sure this is a good idea ... I feel like someone's watching us. Maybe we should have called the authorities after all."
Hank squeezed Tandy's hand. "This place looks deserted so far ... I'm wondering whether we interpreted the message correctly."
Suddenly the silence was ended by an almost demonic laughter, going on and on, sending chills down the couples' spines. "Who's that laughing?" Tandy asked nervously. Hank looked around. "Who's out there?" he shouted.
A familiar, costumed figure clambered down from the bare, upper branches of a tree, and proceeded to laugh again.
"Criminey!" Hank whispered to Tandy, "It's the real Spider-boy!"
Tandy whispered back, "At least he seems amused, rather than angry. Well, we have as much right to be here as he does."
Spider-boy approached the pair. "I've read about you two. I figured we'd run into one another at some point, though I had hoped for a more appropriate occasion. As you can see, I'm on the trail of the same gang that killed your friend."
Hank quirked a brow. "What do you know about it?"
Spider-boy joined them on the ground. "The goons stole a top secret technology that the television station, where your friend Steve worked, developed in conjunction with the military. Steve overheard them planning the theft and confronted them. Before I was assigned to cover this case, he holed up ... to get help, to warn someone, is my guess. By the time I caught up with him, it was too late. If the goons make it out of the country with the technology, they'll be unstoppable. Their getaway flight is due within an hour. We have to make sure they're not on it."
Tandy nodded, "That sounds serious. Do you know where they're hiding out?"
Spider-boy said, "They're in the controllers' cabin ... the windows have been blacked out so it will appear empty. I was about to call for reinforcements, but it won't be necessary with you two at my side."
Hank seethed, itching for action, "Let's take them down."
Under cover of darkness, the trio edged their way to the cabin. Tandy's composure and forbearance led her immediately to the entrance way.
Spider-boy smiled, "You're a lot more grounded than I thought you'd be," he said to Tandy, "But I can see your perceptions are as adept as ever."
While Tandy pondered this, the two arachnid-clad companions crashed their way into the cabin, only to be confronted by a quintet of men, dressed identically in black suits and dark glasses. "Spider-boy ... two of them!" one of the men said. "And ... Dr. Strangefate!"
Spider-boy clenched his fists, "You seem to have the advantage then ... who do I have the pleasure of addressing?"
One of the men took the lead. "We are ... the Ditkaters!"
Tandy stammered, "The Dictators? The Ditk ... what?"
Another of the men whispered to his companion, "The boss's speech impediment is acting up again."
The leader sneered, "You may call us Mr. A, Mr. E, Mr. I, Mr. O, and Mr. U. Our true names do not matter ... soon we will rule the world with the technology we have stolen!
The man identified as Mr. I "Our card," he said, flipping a blank gray business card at the trio. Hank peered at it, "Then ... it *was* you who killed Steve!"
"Yes," Mr. U said. "The card represents the true nature of morality ... that life and morals are never clear, all is gray and indefinite, and right and wrong often blend into one another just as black and white blend into gray. Just so our actions are merely a means of redistributing assets and authority with as much validity as any other distribution. What difference does it make if we pursue good or evil? None. Such words are meaningless because all actions are interpretable though an infinite number of world views. Who's to say ours' is any worse than any other? No man can ... " ZAAAT! *thunk*
'Dr. Strangefate' shook her head. "Sorry ... I know I'm supposed to believe in non-violence, but enough was enough. Ok, the rest of you, surrender now or face my, uh, silver daggers of light!"
And so the fray began ... Mr. A's metal armor, Mr. I's digital sight and Mr. O's flagellantism versus the agility of the two Arach-Kids and Mr. E's precognition versus the projectiles of 'Dr. Strangefate.' It lasted about two minutes.
Afterwards, when the police had been called, Hank said to Spider-Boy, "I'm grateful you're not angry at me for stealing your i.d. like that ... it was never our intention, believe me."
Spider-Boy blinked, "Stole my i.d.? Um, I was going to say the same thing to you ... you mean you're not Spider-Boy?"
Tandy looked astonished, "No, we ... " she removed her helmet, revealing the symbol on her face which concealed her identity and which manifested with her use of her powers, "I'm Dagger ... we're Hawk and Dagger, really. We were on our way to a costume part when we discovered our friend Steve, killed."
Hank scowled, "Then ... wait ... who are *you*?"
Their ally reached under his chin to pull off his mask ... and his face ... revealing an oddly greenish-tinged visage. "Call me Jack ... you may have heard of me as Nightcreeper."
Hank shook the man's hand, "If you ever need help from Hawk and Dagger, give us a call. And thank you."
Nightcreeper grinned, "Same here. Where are you two off to now?"
Hank turned to Tandy, "I don't think I feel much like partying. We have to go home and call Steve's family."
Tandy nods, "Maybe we'll run into you some time later, Jack."
Later that night, Tandy wrapped her arms around Hank as he sat on the phone with Steve's parents. "I'll be right back babe, get you a beer." He squeezed her hand gently and nodded a silent thanks.
She grabbed a bottle out of the fridge, stopping to mark the day off on the wall calendar. "Damn damn damn," she cursed softly to herself, then went back to the living room to join her lover in his grief.