By Jeff A. Hatch
About the Author

What's Gone Before: Blane Trask inherited the superhero identity of Eclipse from his dead grandfather, Andrew Merritt.  His grandfather's former lover, Maria, sent a call for help intended for Merritt, not knowing he was dead.  Blane set out by plane to Brazil to rescue her from the hacienda of his fake father, Anthony Trask, and to recover one of two remaining computer disks containing schematics for the Destroyer suit.  With him went Dr. Caspar Channing, aka The Poltergeist, who was turned invisible by a lab all that?



Episode Sixteen:
(The conclusion)

Just Call Me Tailspin

As the plane landed, Blane grabbed for his small carry-on bag and weaved his way off the small aircraft. It was becoming evening in Curumba. The night air was a balmy mix of exotic smells and the mundane odours associated with a small airport. Blane led The Poltergeist up a lightly paved road towards the hacienda.

"Just a few minutes--I want to get into costume,"announced Blane.

"Now?" inquired The Poltergeist.

"There's no telling what kind of dangers we'll face on this road; we will need a car and protection."

"Then I guess I better do my thing, too," The Poltergeist said even as he began to peel layers of cloth from his face and remove clothing.

The final product was a pile of clothing that started to vanish immediately into his "invisibility aura".

Blane came from behind some rocks. He wasn't Blane anymore, he was Eclipse. He started to move up the road at a quick pace.

"You there?" he asked the air around him.

"Yep!" replied the invisible scientist.

It was not long before a rumbling engine was heard. Eclipse stood in the shadow of a large rock as the jeep came up the road. The rumble got louder till it was coming right around the bend.

As it approached, Eclipse flipped a small white globe into the car. It broke and a cloud of gas sprang from where the globe had been. The driver of the car, a swarthy native, coughed loudly and brought his vehicle to a halt. Eclipse leapt onto the jeep as the man tore at his eyes crying like a child.

"What the..."

Those were the last words that the man ever said as Eclipse slid his switchblade into his back. The man slumped over dead. Eclipse threw him from the vehicle and motioned for The Poltergeist to get in.

"You are not very forgiving," breathed The Poltergeist.

"Justice has no pity!" spat Blane, surprising himself.

The ride to the hacienda was very quiet. No other vehicles were seen on the road--in fact, there was not a soul around till they caught sight of the first guard on the grounds of the hacienda.

"We're here, Casper. We've got to take care of those guards so we can get out of here."

"Have you thought about how we are going to get Maria and ourselves out of the country?" inquired The Poltergeist.

"We will have to cross that bridge when get to it," muttered the ebon-clad crimefighter.

They stopped the jeep and got out silently. Eclipse took a look around the premises; his goggles afforded him near perfect nightvision.

"There are about twelve guards around the front of the building," announced Eclipse.

"How can you tell anything in this darkness?" asked The Poltergeist. Then he corrected himself. "Oh yes, you are Eclipse--the master of darkness."

"Don't be so impressed," replied Eclipse. "Do you have a weapon of some kind?"

"I have a few tricks up my invisible sleeve," replied the invisible man.

"Good, then get them ready 'cause you are going to cover my back."

Eclipse started for the building. As he approached he could see that the guards were armed with automatic rifles. They also wore light body armour. Eclipse reached the courtyard when the first guard sighted him.

"Hey! Who's there?!" the guard cried in Spanish, then in English.

Eclipse leapt at the man before he could get a bead on him. The man tried to swing his gun as a club, but he was far too slow. Eclipse brought down the side of his hand on the man's collarbone, then slapped him unconscious with an elbow strike to the face.

As Blane moved towards the house, the next two guards raised their guns to fire. Blane wished that he had a gun with him, but none would make it through customs.

They fired at Eclipse even as he leapt forward. In mid-flight Eclipse arched his body and hit the ground--the shots rang out over his head and around his prone form. As Blane contemplated raising up, a flash of light arched over his head. The shadowy avenger looked up to see a blast of lightning take out one of the guards and stun another. Blane pounced on the stunned thug and tore his assault rifle away from him.

As the guard tried to regain his senses, another lance of electrical energy blasted him down. Blane looked around only to hear the soft whisper of his companion, The Poltergeist, say "Boo" in his ear.

"Thanks, Dr. Channing, you really are a friendly ghost," Blane chuckled to himself, then raced to the front door of the house.

Blane raised the assault rifle and blasted the door. Inside a guard waited and filled the doorway with lead. Blane dropped low and launched a darkness bomb into the room. The guard spun wildly and shot holes all over the walls, but no shots found the master of darkness.

Blane rose up behind the guard and emitted his grandfather's laugh as he brought the side of his hand down to crush the guard into unconsciousness. The sound of Eclipse's laughter brought Maria into the room just as the darkness cleared. She saw Blane and leapt into his arms.

"My love, you are here!" she cried.

"I-I'm not..." started Blane, but a pair of guards appeared in the room.

There was a sudden almost deafening roar as the two guards were propelled back and almost through the wall. The Poltergeist had struck again with some kind of sonic device. As the two guards tried to move away from the wall, Blane moved to meet them. One guard fell instantly to a kick in the jaw while another was slapped into unconsciousness. Blane gripped Maria's hand and spoke quickly.

"Get anything you need; we are leaving."

Maria looked at him in disbelief. " are not...."

"That's what I was trying to tell you!" declared Blane. "Now, get moving! Poltergeist, anyone else coming?"

"Not that I can see from here," announced the invisible man.

The two covered the exit while Maria grabbed her things and the computer disk containing the schematics for the Destroyer suit. The house was unnaturally quiet while this was all happening. Eclipse watched the door waiting for a sign of the second wave of guards. As Maria entered the room, Blane sighted a man moving along the wall towards the door. He scraped his back along the exterior of the house while clutching his rifle like a new-born child. As he grew closer, Eclipse swung out of the door and shot the man dead.

"The coast is clear," rang out Eclipse in his hollow voice.

The three of them raced for the jeep that was parked several yards from the hacienda's grounds. As they whipped from the front lawn, shots rang out stinging the ground next to their respective feet. The trio made it to the jeep without being hit by the shots. Eclipse leapt into the passenger seat while helping Maria into the back seat.

Maria started to ask who was going to drive till suddenly the jeep's powerful engine roared to life. The car spun out and reversed direction so that it was racing down the dirt road towards the airport. As they headed for the Curumba airport, Maria questioned the man she thought was her former lover.

" If you are not Andrew, then who...."

Blane lowered his mask just long enough to let her see his real face.

"I'm Blane," he announced rather unimpressively.

"It is good to see that you are helping your grandfather," remarked Maria.

Blane's eyes fogged a bit behind his goggles. "Maria, grandfather is dead. He died in my arms trying to save me from my father's assassin."

Maria shuddered with the sudden announcement, then spoke: "H-He was the greatest man I ever met!"

"Yeah, I know; I thought the same thing," agreed Blane.

"Eclipse!" called The Poltergeist. "Someone's on our trail. I can't shake them and drive at the same time."

"Don't worry, Poltergeist," said Eclipse, suddenly snapping out of his memories. "I have just the thing."

Eclipse whirled in his seat and looked back to see that two jeeps were coming. One of the jeeps had a high calibre machine gun built into its frame. Lead poured from the machine gun but did not initially strike the leading jeep. Blane ducked his head and flipped a small black sphere into the road behind him.

Suddenly a sphere of solid darkness came into being right in front of the pursuing jeeps. Blane rose and watched as one driver lost control of his vehicle and flipped over while going at least forty miles per hour. The other driver kept control and simply raced through the cloud of blackness only to catch several rounds from Blane's rifle as he emerged; Eclipse had been aiming as he watched the two jeeps.

The driver was killed instantly and his passengers either leaped away or died in the resulting crash. The Poltergeist slowed the jeep to a halt as they reached the airport.

"Well, Mr. Superhero?... What's next?" asked The Poltergeist.

"We find a pilot and an aircraft," announced Eclipse like it was as simple as that.

"Where do we find a pilot?" asked The Poltergeist.

"I know one!" interjected Maria.

"You do?" Eclipse sounded surprised.

"Yes, he usually delivers the mail to our place; I think that he can be trusted."

"Very well," remarked Eclipse. "Where is he?"

"I think he frequents the airport bar--I know that he flies Trask's planes sometimes."

"There's the bar right there; why don't you go in and find him while I cover you," suggested The Poltergeist.

Maria got out of the jeep and walked briskly towards the bar, while The Poltergeist followed behind her. No one saw him enter the bar right behind the ageing Native woman.

Blane checked the clip on his rifle; only a few rounds left and they were not even out of the country yet. Blane watched as men in uniforms started to comb the runway looking through planes. They were, no doubt, looking for him. Blane studied the planes present. Most were small prop driven craft, a few were expensive looking Lear jets, and finally one was a huge cargo plane from one of the last wars. Blane did not know much about planes but the cargo model looked to have the most protection against bullets.

Inside the bar, Maria quickly found John Walters. He was drinking a large shot of something yellowish when she grabbed his arm.

"John, Mr. Tailspin!" She tried to sound like she had it together.

"Maria!" he said, sounding a bit surprised. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"I must leave, the country I mean, I'm leaving and you...." She could not find the right words so quickly.

"Don't worry, I got it. You need help and I'm your man."

John turned to leave with Maria when a pair of airport security guards stepped in front of him and Maria.

"The woman stays here with us, Walters!" the guards announced.

One of the guards danced around madly as lightning appeared from nowhere to shock him into unconsciousness. The other looked around madly--when he turned back, John hit him so hard that he fell straight backwards and onto the floor. John grabbed Maria's hand and stepped over the two men.

"Got a guardian angel or something?" asked John coolly.

"Sort of," answered a voice from thin air.

If John Walters hadn't been all around the world several times he would have jumped several times, but he had seen and done many things in his short life.

"Who are you?" asked John.

"The Poltergeist," answered The Poltergeist.

"That explains everything," answered John.

"We must get out of here!" urged Maria.

"Let's take one of the small turbo props!" suggested John.

The three ran to one of the planes. John got in and started to warm up the engines. Seeing that they had found Tailspin, Eclipse raced his jeep from his hiding place and was soon driving up to the plane. Unfortunately, so were several guards.

"Poltergeist, we've got company!" yelled Eclipse.

The Poltergeist rose silently into the air and glided to meet the on-coming jeeps that contained some eight armed men. As he intercepted their course, he let loose with his sonic device. A huge booming "Boo!" thundered out stunning the driver of the first jeep. The vehicle flipped over as the driver reeled from the blast. The other jeep continued to cover ground towards the plane.

Maria got into the plane as the jeep arrived. Eclipse stood on the wing and cut loose with the assault rifle. The last few shots rang out claiming the life of one of the on-coming guards. Blane looked back to see flashes of energy cracking over the heads of the guards who were in the other jeep; The Poltergeist was dispatching the men quickly.

Eclipse flipped a tear gas bomb at the remaining guards that were coming for him. Two of them fell into coughing fits as the gas assailed their senses. He looked into the plane and spoke quickly to John.

"When will the plane be ready, pilot?"

"She seems to have a broken fuel line--this baby isn't going more that a few miles!" announced Tailspin. "And, Eclipse, call me Johnny Tailspin, all my friends do!" He gave Eclipse the "thumbs up" sign as he said this.

"All right, Johnny, can she taxi to that cargo model?"

"Sure, but what about The Poltergeist?" asked Johnny Tailspin.

"Don't worry, he will see us and get over th....."

Eclipse fell to the wing as he was hit by something big. He rolled over from his prone position on the wing to see the biggest bruiser he had ever seen holding a big wrench.

"Ha ha!" he bellowed over the engines. "Eclipse, huh? You don't seem so tough!"

Blane smiled beneath his mask. He loved to hear people underestimate him; it gave him a rush to prove them wrong. He emitted his laugh and somehow it rose above the clamour of the engine. Eclipse rose like a solid fluid object, dropping the rifle as he did. The big man hefted the wrench and moved to meet the ebon avenger.

"My friend, you are in for a surprise!" mocked Eclipse as he whipped around in his best roundhouse kick.

The powerful blow caught the big man on the temple. The big man grunted but did not fall. Blane could scarcely believe his eyes.

The guard swung the wrench in a terrible arc, straight at the head of the dark crimefighter. Blane ducked and grabbed the brutish man's arm in a judo hold. The thug struggled as Blane swung around backwards and levered the thick arm over his shoulder. Blane could not help but emit an explosion of haunting laughter as the bones of the big man's arm shattered.

The big man screamed in pain and threw Blane to the ground with his one good arm. Blane rolled to his feet as he struck the blacktop. The big man dropped to the runway and tried to punch Eclipse but he got only air. As the fist passed over his head, Eclipse flicked his wrist and out came the switchblade. Blane poked the large brute in the leg and watched as he teetered around, then fell into a deep slumber.

"Wow!" exclaimed Tailspin. "That was impressive!"

Eclipse vaulted to the wing and held onto the fuselage of the plane as he spoke.

"Thanks, but there's no time to rest on our laurels--we've got to get to that other plane!"

"Hold on, then!" cried Johnny. "We're moving!"

The plane started taxiing towards the larger cargo plane. Blane started visually as the voice of The Poltergeist came out of thin air.

"I'm here, the party can start!" he joked.

The big plane grew larger as they came to it. Another jeep full of guards came straight for them. Johnny brought the plane to a halt and climbed out of the smaller plane. Maria came out next holding onto Johnny's hand. The two got into the cargo plane just as the jeep arrived. Eclipse leapt to the door of the cargo job as The Poltergeist glided down to the tarmac. His sonic weapon rang out shattering the ear drums of the on-coming security men. Eclipse raced to the pilot's compartment as Maria found a seat.

"The Poltergeist!" she exclaimed. "He's...."

She was interrupted by the Poltergeist's voice. "I'm here! Don't worry," he spoke calmly.

"Hold on, troops!" announced Johnny Tailspin.

The big engines came to life as the thugs outside started to regain their senses. The big plane started to roll as bullets rang off its steel skin. The four inside the plane winced as the shots made their marks on the exterior of the cargo plane, but none could find their way through the armoured hull. Soon they were reaching take-off speed.

"This thing is full--we're in luck!" shouted Johnny.

"Looks like we made it," said Eclipse. As the plane rose into the air, Eclipse turned to Johnny. "Thanks for the help; we would have had a hard time getting out of the country without you."

"No problem, I think that Trask is a dick!"

They all laughed at this. The plane reached cruising altitude and Johnny hit the autopilot.

"I have some friends at the Necropolis airport who will get us clearance to land without making a fuss," spoke Johnny Tailspin.

"Good," replied Eclipse dryly.

The rest of the flight was rather silent with Blane and Maria sharing a few insights about the previous Eclipse. The two got along well and seemed to draw strength from each other's company. The Poltergeist wrapped himself again in the bandages and goggles that was his disguise. Johnny spoke a little to him but for the most part kept his mind on the task of flying. The flight was smooth as silk; Johnny seemed to be a fantastic flier.

They were flying over land when Johnny first sighted the dark clouds that covered Necropolis. A flash of lightning silhouetted the city against the clouds making it look ominous. Still, to Eclipse and Tailspin it looked like safe heaven. Johnny spoke quickly into the microphone using some obscure frequency.

"NCO tower, this is Johnny Tailspin coming in for a landing." There was a buzzing response that came from Johnny's headset, then he replied: "I have clearance from Capt John Flanning; please clear a runway and keep it silent."

The buzzing came again in response.

"OK, we're going to land near hanger 77; it belonged to an old friend, now it's mine to use whenever I see fit." Johnny sounded like he was bragging or trying to make a point.

The plane came down, the gear hit the pavement like the soft touch of a feather on glass. As the four of them slowed to a halt, they sighted a large hangar. Over the top of it hung a wooden sign that read "Hangar Seventy Seven". There was a smaller plane in front of the hangar, a small turbo prop job. The small plane looked like it was outfitted for racing. Johnny rose and addressed the others.

"I've taken the liberty of having my buddy in the tower call a cab, that will be able to get you guys to safety. I will hide out here till I am sure we were not followed."

"Thanks, Johnny," said Eclipse. "Can we call you again if we need a pilot?"

He extended his gloved hand.

"You can call if you need anything!" exclaimed Johnny. "It's my honour to help you out!"

Maria kissed Johnny lightly on the lips making him flush. "You have my thanks as well, Johnny Tailspin."

"Me, too," added The Poltergeist. "It's good to know there are good guys like you out there!"

"You're the good guys; I just fly the plane," Johnny spoke silently after them.

Johnny Tailspin watched as they left and thought to himself that he had finally made it. He had been able to live up to his father's name. His father had flown a group of adventurers into China years ago--that group had included the original Eclipse.  Johnny had heard the stories about 'Old Johnny Tailspin' all his life and been  inspired to become a pilot. Johnny studied all about planes and, when he was old enough, he took lessons with all his free time. He had spent the last ten years as a private pilot, even flying as a fill-in pilot for the major airlines.

"Yes," Johnny said to himself. "Now I've made it, dad!"


Looking Forward to a Better Tomorrow

Blane drove his car to the Necropolis plaza thinking that he had done well for himself in the past week; his grandfather would be proud. After leaving Johnny at the airport, he dropped Maria off at a place called "Blackthorne Manor", an old manson on Broadway.

The great iron guilded house was supposedly the base for a group called the Seacret Society; Maria was a member. She told him a little about it; she said that all members wore a peculiar ring. Blane remembered the messenger boy and chuckled.

The Poltergeist was at his old lab trying to gather some equipment together. He would then be led to a safe lab by the Seacret Society so that he could focus on his work and aid the Society, as well.

Blane wheeled his car into its hiding place in the parking garage. He grabbed his stuff from the back seat and headed for the hidden elevator. Blane fingered the infrared flash and watched the elevator controls appear and pressed the call button for the elevator. The trip up was quick; the elevator seemed to be made faster than any other that Blane had ever been in. He marveled at his grandfather's ingenuity.

Entering the Night Loft, Blane grabbed the remote for the TV and grabbed the Galianno bottle. He stowed the Eclipse equipment and closed the cabinet, hoping that he would not have to use it again. Part of him enjoyed the thrill of being Eclipse, but the other part just wanted to see that evil did not triumph.

The television came to life and showed visions of the world below, a world that was over-shadowed by evil--one that would need the dark avenger called Eclipse. Blane caught an earful of a news article and hit the volume control. The video was showing a crew of paramedics lifting a broken female body from the pavement outside the Trask Building. Blane listened closely.

"This is Tom Sal in front of the Trask Industries building. About an hour ago this young woman, identified as Catherine Carlisle, plummeted to earth in an apparent botched breaking-and-entering, according to head of security at Trask Industries. The cameras will show that she tried to enter the building after scaling the wall, and fell several stories to her death."

Tom appeared on camera, his slicked hair shining in the lights of the ambulance.

"A botched burglary or maybe something more. Trask Industries has long had a shadowy history, but never anything like this, but you never know." Tom snickered at the camera and the scene faded.

Blane sat shocked as he realized that the girl was "Cat", the young woman who had taken control of the Bloodstone Gang. She was probably trying to get the last disk from Trask and he caught her. Blane tried to forget the image of her broken body as he pounded down drink after drink, but the image was clear even if his senses were not.

The elevator doors opened around midnight. Blane awoke from a light sleep and reached for his pistol, but realized that it had to be Lane who was entering; no one else knew of the existence of "The Night Loft" but him.

"Got a drink for an old friend or did you drain the bottle?" Lane asked, holding up one of the several glasses littered around the couch.

"Lane, I just got back from Curumba," he said groggily.

"How did it go?" asked Lane.

"Fine, we have the disk and we got out my friend Maria. I also met a few new friends."

"Well, why don't you tell me the whole story while I fix up a snack; it must have been several days since you ate."

Blane nodded his head in agreement. "It's quite a tale--you better have some time!"

"Don't worry, Blane, I'm not going anywhere; we have work to do."

Blane looked at his friend as he bobbed around the kitchen grabbing breakfast essentials. He thought he was glad to know that there were others fighting for justice besides himself. He was not alone.

"Yes, we have quite a job cut out for us, but I think things are going to work out fine."

Lightning flashed in the background and Blane thought he could see the Trask building looming in the darkness. Blane thought that he would see that mirrored tower fall one way or another.

The End?

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Necropolis is copyright 1999, Jeff A. Hatch. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)