Monday, 31 December 1990

Anglo-Force: The Cowboy Chapter 1

    Flight 237 left John F. Kennedy airport in New York, it’s destination, London. To most of the passengers and crew this seemed like a normal routine flight, but to two of the passengers it was going to be their way of getting noticed, of being seen, and perhaps settling a score with an old enemy.

    The flight was one hour out of JFK when they made their move. One of the men, tall, with blonde hair, went into the toilet. A few minutes later he came out, brandishing a Colt 45. One of the stewardess’ was walking past at the time, and he grabbed her, putting his arm around her neck. Then, another man leapt up from his seat. This man had long, black hair and a darker complexion. He was carrying no gun because he was wielding an axe.
    “No need to panic!” said the man with the gun. “We’re just taking a little detour.”
    The man signalled to his accomplice.
    “Running Bear! Get the captain out here now!”
    Showing great agility the man leapt over several rows of seats until he came to the cabin. He opened the door and dragged the captain out. The man was surprised at how easily he was manhandled. He dragged him over to the man with the gun.
    “W-w-what do you want?” the pilot stuttered.
    “Just one simple thing boy. I wanna go to the middle east!”
    “We can’t! We only have enough fuel to get to London!”
    “Then we’ll have to stop in London and re-fuel, won’t we boy? And while we do we may be able to finish wiping out that tribe we started on all those years ago!”

    Simon Kennedy sat in the library of at the Anglo-Force mansion. It had been a long time since he had been in this building. The last time he was here his life almost ended at the hands of a Terminator 1000 droid. Now his physical rehabilitation was going well. The doctors had not expected him to walk again, but he was finding it quite easy to get around on crutches. He sat in one of the comfortable leather armchairs, gazing into a blazing open fire. Then James Watt, newly re-elected leader of Anglo-Force, and Arthur Pendragon, team member and solicitor for Anglo-Force, entered.
    “You’ll excuse me if I don’t get up.” said Kennedy.
    Watt and Pendragon seated themselves in the other two chairs.
    “I hope this doesn’t take long.” said Watt. “Kate’s expecting any time now.”
    “Don’t worry Jim.” said Kennedy. “This will only take a few minutes. I just want to outline my idea, my plan for Anglo-Force.”
    “I hope it’s better than the ideas Campbell-Bannerman came up with.” said Pendragon.
    “My plan is simple.” said Kennedy. “I want to keep your membership at a maximum of eight, but I also want to have six more as reserve members, just in case anything happens to any of you.”
    “Are you sure that will work?” asked Pendragon. “Eight is the maximum the old government allowed for funding, but won’t you have to pay for the reservists as well?”
    “The reservists will be paid at a reduced rate.” said Kennedy. “They will be paid only half as much as the full-time members. I’ve discussed this with the PM and he’s in favour of the idea. This idea would mean that someone like…Red Sun, for instance, could still be connected with Anglo-Force and need not be on alert twenty-four hours a day.”
    “It sounds like an excellent idea.” said Watt. “But as leader I would have to insist on one thing. Anglo-Force must have total autonomy as far as selection of full and reserve members goes.”
    “That is something the Prime Minister is willing to give you.” said Kennedy. “We’re not going to be like Harkes and Campbell-Bannerman. Sure, you will have a timetable, an amount of time you would be expected to find the new members, but we won’t go out and find these members for you.”
    Then the buzz came from the control panel above the fireplace. Watt walked over to it and pressed the button. It was from Magus in the infirmary.
    “You’d better come quickly, James. Katrina has gone into labour.”

    The flight from new York neared the British mainland. The captain had radioed London with the hijackers demands, enough fuel to get to the middle east. If they were given the fuel then they would release the passengers and crew, except for the captain. At Heathrow Airport a fuel truck was being arranged and the authorities had been alerted. It was decided to send for the best. Chief Inspector Solo and his department were alerted. Half an hour later the aircraft was over London. They were given clearance to land at Heathrow, which they duly did. After landing the aircraft taxied to an empty runway. The fuel truck and the authorities were on this runway. As soon as he saw the aircraft Solo got out of his car. He looked at the aircraft through a pair of binoculars. He carefully studied the layout of the aircraft. It was then that he began to get that strange feeling again. It was as if he knew who the hijackers were. He took another look through his binoculars. He looked into the cockpit. It was then that he saw one of the hijackers, presumably the one in charge. He then got a feeling of déjà vu, a feeling as if he had seen that man before. He got back into his car and switched on his portable police computer.
    “Computer, recognise Chief Inspector Paul Solo, Scotland Yard.”
    “Voice input recognised.”
    “Please establish a link with the Interpol main frame computer.”
    A few seconds passed.
    “Link established.”
    “Please give me the file on Peter ‘Tex’ Craven, also known as the Cowboy.”
    The file appeared on the screen. It gave his last known whereabouts as New York state. Then a photo of Craven appeared on the screen. Solo’s suspicions were confirmed. He was dealing with the infamous Cowboy, and if the Cowboy was around then Running Bear would not be far behind. It seemed that Magus’ lessons in how to control his new mind powers were working. But Solo knew that all the police that had gathered at Heathrow would not be enough to subdue Cowboy and Running Boy. He knew he would have to send for the heavy guns.

    Simon Kennedy had just left the Anglo-Force mansion when the call was put through from Heathrow. White Knight, Star Man and the newest member, Fire Master. Responded to the call. White Knight went to the infirmary to get Watt. When he walked in he saw Watt clutching Katrina’s hand. She was in great pain. Magus stood at the control panel monitoring her life signs.
    “We’ve got an emergency at Heathrow Jim.” said White Knight. “Two Americans wanting fuel to get to the middle east. Solo wants us there.”
    Watt stared at White Knight.
    “Not now Arthur.” he said. “You’ll have to handle this one on your own.”
    “But Solo wants a qualified pilot there, just in case.” said White Knight. “And he thinks that you’re the best one to handle this sort of situation.”
    Watt looked at Magus.
    “Do not worry, James.” Magus said.
    Watt looked at Katrina. He kissed her on her cheek.
    “Let’s get this over with.” he said.

    About ten minutes later the Anglo-Force sky-jet landed at a secluded runway at Heathrow. A few minutes after that they were in the control tower with Solo.
    “What’s the SP then?” asked Watt.
    “As far as we know there are only two hijackers.” said Solo. “But those two are very dangerous men. Ever heard of Cowboy and Running Bear?”
    “Mr. X mentioned them once a while back.” said Watt. “But I’ve never met them.”
    “Well, they’re wanted in thirty states in the US.” said Solo. “For things ranging from gun running to murder. According to their Interpol record they killed an entire tribe of native Americans about sixteen years ago. Only a few of them survived.”
    “So what do they want?” asked White Knight.
    “Fuel.” Solo replied. “Enough fuel to get to the middle east. They say they’ll release the passengers and most of the crew if we re-fuel.”
    “Give them the fuel.” said Watt. “Then find me a pilot’s uniform. And also find three mechanics uniforms. Make some excuse about how they can’t leave until the engines have had a routine check.”
    About half an hour later a call was put through to the aircraft. The fuel truck and three technicians were on their way to the aircraft. The real technicians were back at the control tower. Their places had been taken by White Knight, Star Man and Fire Master. Solo was talking to Cowboy on the radio.
    “Do I have your guarantee that you’ll release all the passengers and crew once you have refuelled?” asked Solo.
    “You have my word.” said Cowboy. “All we need is this pilot.”
    “Frankly I don’t think your word is good enough.” said Solo.
    “Ha! You’ve been reading my file, haven’t you, boy?” said Cowboy.
    Outside the aircraft the truck had reached it’s destination. They began to uncoil the fuel hose and began to refuel. While this was going on Fire Master walked over to the cargo hatch. Slowly he began to move it. He slowly placed all the luggage on the ground, and as fast as he was putting it there Watt was flying up at super speed and taking it away. While White Knight was holding the fuel hose Star Man joined Fire Master. Together they climbed into the cargo hold, and Watt then replaced the door and returned to the control tower. He was not seen by the hijackers.
    While this was going on Running Bear stood at the doorway. He was able to see White Knight, who was dressed as a technician, refuel the aircraft. He had not seen Star Man and Fire Master get into the cargo hold. When refuelling was completed White Knight removed the hose and recoiled it. He then waved to Running Near, indicating that the refuelling was complete. Running Bear turned and signalled to Cowboy. He then radioed the control tower and ordered them to bring the aircraft steps onto the runway. Soon after that the passengers and crew, all save the pilot, were released. Solo then contacted them on the radio.
    “Come and collect your steps boys.” said Cowboy. “We’ve kept our side of the deal, now let us leave.”
    “We can’t do that yet.” said Solo. “Regulations state that before you can take off again all of your systems will have to be checked by a qualified pilot.”
    “We’ve got one here.” said Cowboy. “He can do it.”
    “It’s against regulations.” said Solo. “A second pilot has to make the checks.”
    “Well hurry this up then.” said Cowboy. “I wanna get outta here!”
    A few minutes later watt left the control tower dressed in full pilots uniform with a briefcase in his hand. He was soon at the aircraft, and as he walked up the aircraft steps White Knight was preparing to leave in the fuel truck. Running Beat stood on the top of the steps and pushed Watt into the aircraft. He then stood on the steps and continued to watch the aircraft. Inside Watt was met by Cowboy.
    “How long will this take?” asked Cowboy.
    “Only a few minutes.” said Watt. “And would you mind not pointing that gun at me?”
    Watt walked into the cockpit and sat in the co-pilot’s chair. Cowboy had not entered. The pilot looked at Watt with some confusion.
    “I am unaware of regulations concerning checks of this nature.” he said.
    Watt turned to the pilot and motioned him to keep quiet. Then Cowboy entered the cockpit.
    “Don’t worry.” said Watt. “This will only take a few more moments.”
    Then Running Bear called to Cowboy. Cowboy rushed out of the cockpit and joined Running Bear on the steps.
    “Look.” said Running Bear. “Only one leave in fuel truck when three come here.”
    “How can that be?” asked Cowboy.
    Cowboy rushed back into the aircraft and into the cockpit. He grabbed Watt by the arm.
    “What’s the meaning of this?” he shouted. “Where are the other two fuel guys?”
    “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” said Watt.
    Cowboy placed the gun at Watt’s head.
    “Don’t play games with me, boy.” said Cowboy. “Talk or I’ll blow your brains out.”
    “I assure you your gun will have no effect on me.” said Watt.
    Cowboy began to get angry. He cocked the pistol and squeezed the trigger. The gun exploded in his hand. Cowboy began to blow on his hand because it felt red hot. Then Watt acted. He got up from the chair and punched Cowboy in the stomach. The American was sent flying to the back of the aircraft. Running Bear saw this and came rushing back into the aircraft. He was stopped by a nova blast from Star Man, who had burned his way through the floor. Then, behind him, Cowboy got to his feet and took out his whip. He cracked it and it wrapped itself around Star Man’s neck. Cowboy pulled on it and Star Man was pulled to the ground. Fire Master then tried to attack Cowboy but a blow from Running Bear’s axe handle rendered him unconscious. Then, the screech of brakes could be heard outside as White Knight returned in the fuel truck. This was just the break that the Americans needed. They jumped out of the aircraft and onto the steps. White Knight was rushing up the steps when he was met by a size ten cowboy boot to the face. He was sent hurtling down the steps.
    “The truck!” yelled Cowboy. “Get to the truck!”
    Meanwhile Watt, using his new-found powers, phased himself through the floor of the aircraft. He now stood inside the cab of the truck. Cowboy opened the door and was surprised to see Watt sitting in the driver’s seat. He closed the door and began to run as fast as he could across the runway. Running Bear was not far behind him. Watt then left the cab and flew after them. Within a second Running Bear was in his arms. He held Running Bear high above him and hurtled him at Cowboy. Both were sent flying. A few seconds later they both lay motionless, unconscious, on the tarmac. Several police cars as well as a police van drove onto the tarmac. They were soon joined by the rest of Anglo-Force.
    “Only two casualties then.” said Solo. “I’m sure the FBI will be very pleased when we give them this present.”
    Fire Master stood rubbing his head.
    “I hope my next few assignments will be less painful.” he said.
    “Due to a lack of experience.” said Watt. “With Magus as your teacher you will learn. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got an important date.”
    Watt took off into the sky at super speed.
    “What date?” asked Solo.
    “The birth of his child!” Star Man replied.

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