Monday, 24 January 1994

James Watt: Running Man - Chapter Two

    Killian was on the next plane back to Los Angeles. The day after he arrived back in the US he went back to his office. He knew he had to devise another way of boosting his ratings, but the ideas were starting to dry up. He  considered all of this on the drive to his office. He arrived, and then entered the building. The first thing he noticed was that his secretary had not yet arrived, and his letters had not been opened and placed on his desk. This did not help his mood one bit. So he marched over to his office door and opened it. He was surprised to find someone sitting in his large leather chair. He could not see who it was at first because his back was turned to him.

    "How did you get into my office, and pasty the security?" Killian asked.
    "Security means nothing to me, Mr. Killian. Your current problem does, however."
The stranger swung round in the chair so he now faced Killian. The stranger was clad in red, and had greying hair. In one hand he held a shield.
    "Who are you?" asked Killian.
    "You may have heard of me before, Mr. Killian. I am Cornelius Moriarty."
    "Yeah, I've heard of you. You're that mad limey who wants to change the world!"
    "Each of us has a dream, Mr. Killian. My dream is to create a better world for us to live in. Your dream is to gain power and riches, and to increase the ratings of your little television show."
    "What? Are you saying you want to become a stalker? I'm sorry, Mr. Moriarty, but all of those positions are currently filled."
    "Then is that why you approached Captain Watt a couple of days ago, and offered him a million dollars to become one of your stalkers? And by the way, it's Professor Moriarty!"
    "How do you know that?"
    "I have contacts all over the world, Mr. Killian. I know that Captain Watt basically told you where to do, and where to stick your television show. I also know that before you left Britain you vowed revenge on Captain Watt. I can help you get that revenge, Mr. Killian, as well as increasing your ratings at the same time."
    "Have you ever considered having celebrity runners on your show, Mr. Killian? And have you ever considered having Captain James Watt as your first 'guest'?"
    "Are you crazy, Moriarty? With his phasing powers he could phase right out of the game zone, or fly out of it!"
    "I can provide you with a way of stopping that, Mr. Killian. I can bring Captain Watt here to America, and then you can have him for your show. But I can only do it for a price."
    "What's your price?"
    "The million dollars you offered Watt, plus another half a million to cover expenses, such as travelling costs, etc."
Killian considered the proposition, for two seconds.
    "You got it. You got four weeks to bring him here and hand him over to me."
    "And the money?"
    "You'll get paid in full when I get Watt. As I said, you've got four weeks."
Moriarty got up from the chair and walked out of the door.
    "Tell me." said Killian. "What's your gripe with Watt?"
    "My gripe, Mr. Killian? Why, I just detest the man!"

    Nothing was heard for a week. Meanwhile, the arrangements for the wedding of James Watt and Katrina Velichev were proceeding according to plan. The invitations had gone out. It seemed that the wedding was a veritable who’s who of the crime fighting world. But a time had come that Watt and the other members of Anglo-Force were dreading - the fitting for their wedding suits. The four of them had gone to one of the most exclusive gentleman's outfitters in the west end of London. When his measurements were taken Ultare Amarus found it most annoying.
    "I do not understand why your dress is so strange." he said. "On Traxxor, on the occasion of a wedding, we just wear plain black, all over."
    "On this planet black is for funerals." said Pendragon.
While they had been talking Watt had gone into the changing room to try on his top hat and tails. It was while he was in the changing room that he heard a disturbance outside. He peered round the curtain to see some strange craft landing in the street outside. The sight of this craft cause great panic. The city of London had suffered in recent weeks with the attacks of Darth Vader's forces. Now they had to put up with this. When the craft landed a side hatchway opened, and four men clad entirely in black left the craft. Each one carried a laser rifle. One by one they marched into the shop. Then, each aimed their rifles at one of the Anglo-Force members and fired. They only just managed to get out of the way. Star Man and Fire-Master retaliated with blasts of their own, while White Knight used his powers to change into his battle garb. He soon joined the battle. Watt then thought quickly about whether he should change, but there wasn't enough time for that. He ran out of the changing room and grabbed one of the men's arms and held him high in the air.
    "This is him!" he screamed. "This is the one!"
They reached into their pockets and took out small devices. Then each of them threw them to the ground. There was a bang, and then gas began to rise into the air. Watt, White Knight, Star Man and Fire-Master began coughing, and a few seconds later they were all unconscious. Two of the men then picked up Watt and carried him to their craft. They were soon airborne again. Inside the aircraft one of the men took off his mask, revealing himself to be Moriarty.
    "I never thought it would be so easy." he said. "Tell me, are the cavourite shielding and generators in place in Los Angeles?"
His men nodded.
    "Good. Then a million and half shall be ours!"
Back in the shop the others were just beginning to come to. White Knight looked around.
    "Where's Jim?" he asked.
He then noticed a card on the ground. He picked it up and read it. It said:
    "U.S. television. Watch at three a.m., U.K. time."
    "What does that mean?" asked Star Man.
    "I don't know." said White Knight. "But I know one thing. Jim's been kidnapped!"

    When Watt regained consciousness he could not see because he was in a darkened room. Slowly he felt around for the wall and he soon found it. He got to his feet. He was still feeling groggy when he heard a whirring sound. Then some light entered the room as a panel began to move away. At first the light blinded Watt. He shielded his eyes with his hands as best he could. When his eyes got used to the light he saw a man sitting in the window. It was Killian.
    "Hello, cutie pie. One of us is in deep trouble."
    "Killian you slug! What have you done to me? Why am I here?"
    "It's simple. With the help of an old friend of yours I brought you here to Hollywood, to appear on The Running Man. And there's no point trying to smash your way out of the room. The walls are made of adamantium, and on the outside they're lined with cavourite. You see, I've been doing my homework on you!"
    "So what do you want, Killian?"
    "It's simple. I want you to appear as a celebrity runner on The Running Man. All you have to do is defeat all of my stalkers and I'll let you go free!"
    "Why, Killian? Why have you brought me here?"
    "You insulted me in the same way your friend the Home Secretary did."
Watt walked over to the other side of the room.
    "And what if I don't appear on this show of yours? What then?"
Killian moved to one side, and Moriarty showed himself.
    "Why you...!" said Watt.
    Killian bent down and pulled out a suitcase. He then handed the case to Moriarty.
    "There you are, Professor." said Killian. "One million, five hundred thousand dollars, as we agreed."
    "Thank you, Mr. Killian."
Moriarty stared at Watt.
    "Enjoy your trip to the old ruins, Captain Watt." he said. "I'll be watching!"
Moriarty then left the room. Killian then turned to Watt.
    "I need an answer." he said.
    "Do I have a choice?"
    "No, not really."
Watt just stared at Killian.
    "You've made the right decision." said Killian. "Guys, he's all yours."
Suddenly the door to the room opened, and two burly security guards came in and clamped red chains around his hands. The chains had been treated with cavourite so Watt couldn't break them. He was then dragged along a corridor and taken into a room that resembled a doctor's operating theatre. He was then told to lie on the table, which he did. One of the doctors then switched on a computer scanner, which began analysing Watt's molecular structure. Then another doctor jabbed a needle into his thing and injected him with a drug. Another injected Watt in his bicep. After another ten minutes the guards pulled Watt off the table. They then took him back to the room and threw him in. They closed the door behind them, and the room was dark once more. Then, a few seconds later, gas began to fill the room. Slowly Watt began to get sleepy. It was a minute before he was again unconscious.

    The police were all over the streets of west London, searching for clues in regards to Watt's kidnapping. White Knight, Star Man and Fire-Master had also joined in the search for clues. Inspector Paul Sol was in charge of the operation.
    "Has anyone tried to track that aircraft?" asked White Knight.
    "No one bothered." replied Solo. "Apparently it showed up on radar screens as an airliner."
    "But didn't anyone think it weird when it landed in a busy shopping street?" asked Star Man.
    "You know what these air traffic control guys are like." said Solo.
Then they heard something in the sky. They looked upwards to see a red streak flying across the sky. White Knight recognised it instantly.
    "It's Kate!" he said. "What's she doing here?"
A few seconds later Katrina, in her Red Sun costume, landed near them.
    "You really shouldn't be here, Kate." said White Knight.
    "Yetta is looking after Peter." she said. "I have to be here anyway. What clues do you have?"
    "Only this card." said Star Man.
Star Man handed the card to Red Sun, which she read.
    "U.S. television?" she said. "There was a man from U.S. television who came to see James just over a week ago."
    "I doubt it would have anything to do with him." said Star Man.
    "All the same we can't discount the possibility that this T.V. bloke is somehow involved. said Solo. "Can you remember the names of those two American blokes who helped Jim out about a year ago in Washington?"
    "You mean during the conflict with Saruman?" said White Knight.
    "I was there with him." said Star Man. "You mean Supercop and Mighty Man?"
    "Yes." said Solo. "It might be a good idea if you give them a buzz, see if they know anything."
    "I've a better idea than that." said White Knight. "We'll go over there in one of the sky jets."
    "Then I'm coming to." said Red Sun.
    "Are you sure that's wise?" said White Knight.
    "Look, I only gave birth for God's sake." said Red Sun. "Will everyone stop treating me like a child!"
    "Then it's settled." said Solo. "We're off to the States!"
    "We?" said White Knight.
    "Jim's my friend as well." said Solo. "And besides, someone else can take charge here!"
Contact was soon made with Supercop and Mighty Man, They were told to expect the remaining members of Anglo-Force.

    Some four hours later the door to the room opened and light filled the room. Watt began to regain his senses. At the door he saw two burly looking security guards. They walked over to Watt and pulled him to his feet. Then they dragged him out of the room and closed the door behind them. They then walked down the corridor. Around him Watt could hear music. It appeared that the show had begun.
    Although the ratings were low for The Running Man by American standards by British standards they were quite high. Among a select few the show had gained almost cult-like status. In the huge studio the action had begun. Scantily-clad women dancers began their routine, dancing to the theme of The Running Man. The audience started to get into the action. Also, word had got out that a special runner was on this show. Already the viewing figures had doubled. Then, a few minutes later, the audience began to cheer as Killian entered the studio behind the dancers, One of the sound technicians handed Killian a microphone, and it was then that he began his act.
    "Who do you love?" he shouted.
The crowd called back Killian's name.
    "What’s the greatest game show in the whole wide world?" Killian shouted.
    "The Running Man!" the audience screamed.
    "Yes!" Killian boomed.
Then the studio lights came on, revealing the set of The Running Man. The audience were close to hysteria. Then, slowly, the dancers began to file into two lines. Killian walked to the front of the set.
    "Welcome, everyone, to the second season of The Running Man. And this first show is going to be a real hum-dinger. We got a special guest runner for you all. Sid, tell us about him."
The video screen behind Killian came to life with a still of Watt.
    "Tonight's special guest runner is none other than Captain James Watt, leader of the British super-hero group, Anglo-Force. The Captain possesses many special powers, and he will be tested to the limit by the stalkers!"
    "There you have it!" said Killian. "Not only will our stalkers be the ultimate test for Captain Watt, be he will be the ultimate test for them! Now, as dedicated viewers will know, you can bet on who will win tonight. Out studio audience here tonight will have the chance to win a number of great prizes by guessing which stalker will go after Captain Watt. But enough of this, let's see the man himself!"
The studio lights dimmed, and a eerie music began to play over the PA system. The two burly guards ushered Watt into the studio. The spotlight shone on them. Then, the guards ripped off the overalls he was wearing, revealing the costume he normally wore underneath. The guards then led him over to the centre of the stage. Then, from the ceiling, a strange device was lowered. It looked like some sort of go-kart. The guards took Watt over to this and strapped him into it. Killian walked over to the strange device and leaned over Watt.
    "Don't think about trying to escape from the zone." he said. "It's protected by a cavourite energy shield, and there's cavourite shielding in the ground, so you can't get out that way!"
Killian then stood upright and began playing to the crowd again.
    "There you have it!" he said. "Captain Watt is ready to go! As you should know by now, he'll be sent to the area that was ruined by the big earthquake back in '97. We'll be able to monitor his every step and every battle. But enough of this talk. I know what you all want to see, and what you all want me to say!"
    Killian walked to the back of the stage and raised his arms in the air.
    "It's show time!"
A whirring noise filled the studio as the device started to power up. Watt then turned to Killian.
    "Killian!" he called.
Killian approached Watt.
    "I'll be back!" said Watt.
Killian did not know what to make of this. It took him a few seconds to regain his composure.
    "Only in a re-run!" smirked Killian.
A few seconds later and Watt was off. The device which held him carried Watt down a long tunnel at an incredible speed. He would soon be in the gaming zone.

    From halfway across the Atlantic, the other members of Anglo-Force had picked up the signal from Hollywood. There were not please.
    "I was right." said Solo. "Now we know what we have to do!"

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