Night of the Silent Hand

By D.E. Brynelsen

©2012

(Disclaimer: Wild, Wild, West is a copyrighted production of CBS television. I am just a devoted fan.)

"Damn you James West!" Miguelito Loveless shouted to the heavens, or more accurately, the ceiling of the tunnel he and Voltaire found themselves fleeing down. "And you too Artemus Gordon!" he added for good measure. The two Secret Service men, the bane of his existence ever since they'd first crossed paths, had once again found a way to foil yet another of his carefully laid plans, and now he and his associates were fighting for their lives in the ruins of his undersea base after West and Gordon's sabotage had disabled the pumps that maintained the atmospheric pressure, allowing the water outside to surge up through the submarine docking bays or breach some of the viewports. Given his diminutive stature, the water was already up to Loveless' chest and rising fast; if he and Voltaire didn't reach the chamber with the emergency escape capsules soon they'd be drowned. Seemingly sensing this, the giant scooped up his dwarven master and perched him on his shoulder.

"Miguelito! Where are you?" Her skirts floating up about her in the rising torrent, Antoinette struggled down the tunnel from the opposite direction, her face white with terror. Loveless knew she couldn't swim, and what's more, neither could he.

"Go back!" he shouted at her while waving an arm for emphasis. "We have to reach the escape room!"

"We can't!" She wailed, "The water is too high already!"

"There's an access ladder just ahead. We can use it to reach the upper level, try to get out that way!" Loveless barked out. There were several muffled thuds from where he and Voltaire had come, indicating that the watertight doors were starting to succumb to the pressure of the rising tide. He heard things crashing about, including a pair of discordant tones that heralded the violent demise of Antoinette's beloved harpsichord.

The water was nearly two feet from the tunnel ceiling when the trio reached the access ladder. Loveless ordered Antoinette to climb up first; she clung to the rungs of the ladder, frozen with fear, until he practically screamed at her to move. Encumbered by her drenched and clinging skirts, she arose slowly up the ladder to the hatch above. There was a great shriek of metal and a tidal wave rushed down the tunnel. Faithful to the last, Voltaire hoisted Loveless above his head in an attempt to save him from the torrent. But it was a futile, yet heroic gesture. The water filled the access tube in less then a minute, Loveless' last conscious sight that of Antoinette screaming as she beat against the hatch as the water engulfed her, his last thought, a curse upon James West and a vow to return from Hades to exact his revenge…

"Sir, he's waking up."

Loveless opened his eyes to find himself lying on a bed with an angel hovering over him. As his mind began to work again and his vision cleared, he realized it was not an angel, but rather a uniformed nurse who was tending to him. So he was not in Heaven, and better still, not the alternative either, which meant he was still alive, but where was he?

"You've been asleep for the last three days Dr. Loveless." The man in the white lab coat on the opposite side of the bed offered as way of explanation. "Ever since we recovered you and your companions from the remains of your underwater base."

"What is this place?" Loveless demanded as he sat up. "Who are you people?"

"We are known as the Silent Hand." The man replied. "We are a secret arm of the Government that like this installation, does not officially exist, and answers only to the highest level of authority. We work behind the scenes to bring about the changes we deem beneficial to the country without having to deal with the normal bureaucracy."

"And what country do you serve?" Loveless asked.

"The United States of course." The man said proudly.

"So I am a prisoner?"

"Hardly. We have been interested in you since your first encounter with Mr. West and his associate, but have been waiting for the opportune time to recruit you." The man smiled as he tilted his head to one side. "Or did you believe your numerous escapes from prison were brought about solely on your own cunning?" The man folded his arms. "The apparent deaths of you and your companions provided us with that opportunity."

The mention of Antoinette and Voltaire caused Loveless to ask, "My friends, are they well?"

"Quite well. We were able to recover you all and bring you back just in the nick of time. The young lady is resting comfortably in the women's ward, and your rather large servant is sleeping in the next room."

"So what do you intend to do with us?"

"As I said, it is our desire to recruit you all. We believe your superior mind can prove an asset to our organization, and in return we can offer you protection from further persecution, especially from Misters West and Gordon."

"You can?"

"Indeed. For example, railroad signals have been known to fail leading to such colorfully fatal events as Cornfield meets, or a trestle is somehow damaged to the extent that it can no longer support the weight of a train passing over it." The man smiled again. "But that can wait until later. If you feel up to it, I can take you on a tour of this facility."

A half hour later Loveless was seated next to Antoinette in a electrically powered surrey that hummed as it rolled down a curving passage with their host at the controls. Up ahead was a massive door with the number 51 painted on it. After checking their identities, the guard gave a signal and the door moved upward slowly with the sound of heavy machinery at work. "This is where we keep some of the major unknown technology we've acquired over the years." Their host said as the surrey rolled through into a massive chamber lit by powerful electric lamps. "We are hoping that perhaps you can help us unlock some of their mysteries." He pointed to a large manta ray shaped craft made of a seamless dull gray metal sitting on supports. "We recovered that from where it crashed on the ranch of a New Mexico cattleman named McCain last year. We believe it to be some sort of vehicle for traveling great distances between one planet to another."

"Was there a crew?" Loveless asked.

"We found one being inside, two on the ground nearby the wreck, all dead. The bodies are now being studied in one of the medical research labs. Their anatomy is nothing like that of we humans."

"What is that?" Loveless asked pointing to a large bronze colored ring hanging from an overhead hoist above the giant crate it had been in. Closer inspection revealed it to be two rings, one nestled within the other, the inner one with strange hieroglyphs inscribed all around its circumference.

"We don't know." Their guide explained. "It was found by one of our teams in Egypt during an archeological dig for the New York Natural History Institute. There is also what we think is a control pedestal with large keys surrounding a pale red orb, each of the keys inscribed with a hieroglyph matching one of the ones on the inner ring. At this point we have no idea what purpose it served or what was its source of power." He looked at Loveless and Antoinette. "These two artifacts are just a sampling of what we possess. If you chose to join us, you can help us discover their secrets as well as work on your own projects in your own fully equipped and staffed laboratory. We have already arranged living quarters for you in the 'Ghost Town' aboveground, and this might interest the lady, had an 18th century harpsichord said to belong to Marie Antoinette delivered."

Antoinette screamed as a large black multi-legged creature with large eyes set in a vaguely human face came skittering across the floor and tried to climb up one of the surrey's wheels. A nearby technician swatted it down with a pipe and then squashed it with his foot as it let out a death cry. "Don't worry Doc," he said to their guide, "We've still got about two hundred of the little buggers left."

Loveless looked around at the wondrous things in the chamber and knew he had at last found his home, among kindred spirits. Plus there was the delicious prospect of being able to bedevil his two worst enemies without them even knowing who it was that was tormenting them, or being able to retaliate. "When can I start?" he chuckled as a broad grin crossed his face.

I originally wrote this as a one shot story, but if you would like to see it continue, please leave a comment and let me know.

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