Chapter Fourteen: At Least We Tried

 Charlie sat in the tree, looking out over Pleasant Creek.

“It's not your fault Charlie.” Belle tried to reason with him. “You tried to do the right thing, it's not your fault that he got sick.”
“How do you know?” Charlie replied, still staring at the creek.
“Because he was under stress despite you, not because of you. Even if he was out fighting, the stress of the battle would have triggered that heart attack. You heard him wheezing the last time he fought Demon. The next battle would have been his last.” Belle pointed out.
Charlie sighed. “Yeah, I guess you're right. You always seem to be able to think things through.”
“Family gift.” Belle chuckled. She hugged Charlie tightly.
“Thanks.” He murmured.
“You're welcome.” Belle replied.
“OI! ODD-COUPLE! DOWN HERE!” They heard TJ yelling down below.
“WHAT?” Belle shouted down.
“SURE!” Charlie replied.
The pair quickly got their fishing gear and headed out with TJ and Sammy to the fishing hole near Pleasant Dam. The others were already there waiting for them.
Daniel, being the tactful leader that he is, had made sure that Sapphire nor Charles were going to be mentioned that afternoon.
“Guys, before you two go and get Belle and Charlie, I'd like to talk to you guys about Charles.” He'd said.
“About?” Sammy enquired.
“Try and keep the talk of Charles and Sapphire to a minimum. Charlie already feels guilty about what happened, this fishing trip is so we can all relax and recover from our various injuries and injustices.” Daniel started moralising.
Sammy raised his hand.
“Very funny Sam.” Daniel glared at him.
“If Charlie brings it up-,”
“GO.” Daniel fumed while everyone else laughed.
“I do feel for poor Charlie though, it must be really tough.” Petunia sighed after the two boys had left.
“Tell me about it. Part of me is glad none of my grand-parents give a damn about me.” Sunny cast her line and settled down, having absolutely no intention of catching any fish, and every intention of spending the day relaxing.
Tammy looked sadly at Sunny. The bruises were becoming less frequent, but from the looks of things the connections that Sunny had with her family weren't improving.
“You have Joe. He looks out for you.” Petunia tried to lighten the mood.
“And you have us.” Daniel put a hand on her shoulder.
“Thanks guys.” Sunny smiled at her friends.
“My grand-parents are very much the doting type. If they knew I was out crime-fighting, they'd report my parents to child services.” Petunia told them.
“My grand-parents keep giving me history books about all the old wars. They think I might find something useful in them.” Daniel chuckled. “I guess they're right.”
“HEY! Caught anything yet?!” They heard TJ yelling.
“That was quick!” Daniel marvelled.
“Uncle Bill gave us a ride. He's off to the restaurant at the moment.” Belle told them as she settled down on the picnic rug. “He just lost an argument with Dad.”
“I wonder about your family sometimes.” Sunny shook her head.
“So do a lot of people.” Charlie laughed. “Dad was telling me back when HE was a kid that he used to hear them fighting all the time.”
“It works for us.” Belle shrugged. “They all love each other.”
“And that's what counts.” Petunia smiled.
“This is getting too sappy, can we move on to the fish now?” TJ complained.
“Awww, doesn't TJ wanna admit he wuvs his Mummy and Daddy?” Sunny teased.
“Oh rack off.” TJ snapped.
“Touchy.” Daniel laughed.
The two boys started wrestling, soon joined by Charlie and Sammy while the girls laughed. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the fish were biting, and soon the friends were starting to pull in a good haul.
“Uncle Bill WILL be pleased!” Belle grinned as the ice box steadily filled up.
“Is he going to be able to use it all?” Sammy asked, throwing back a small fish that would have been illegal to eat.
“Yup, business is booming at the moment, especially now with the crime rate dropping. People are more likely to leave their homes to go out to dinner nowadays.” Belle replied.
“It's great to know we've helped make this city better.” Daniel stretched himself out.
“You're not going to get all sappy again are you?” TJ groaned, lifting a rather large fish into the ice box. “I don't think we're going to fit much more in guys.”
“I'll call Uncle Bill and we'll get the load to the restaurant. Nothing like fresh fish to go with your chips!” Belles stomach began rumbling.
“You think Bill will let us have some?” Sammy looked hopefully at the catch.
“He'll have to, won't he?” Petunia was also starting to water at the mouth.
Soon Bill arrived to pick up the load, and not long after that the friends were digging in to freshly cooked fish.
“This is delicious.” Sunny wolfed down another mouthful of her fish stir-fry.
“Unbelieveable.” Petunia helped herself to another fish ball.
Sammy and Tammy were content with their fish and chips (battered and crumbed respectively) while Daniel, Charlie and TJ enjoyed their fish in a spaghetti marinara. Belle was making her way through a fish salad.
“It wouldn't be right to sell all these fish and not let you guys have some.” Bill looked out of the kitchen and smiled at the feasting heroes. Already people were starting to forward in, tempted by the delicious smells and the sight of the food. The sun was setting over Lake Pleasant, and the whole atmosphere was brilliant.
Charlie looked around the table. He wished his grand-father was there with them. Every time he'd been to visit the old man in the past week, the conversation had been frosty at best.
Charles Howzat didn't have much time left.
The children had just finished their meal and were about to start thinking about dessert when the sirens started.
“On a Saturday?!” Sunny groaned. She'd been looking forward to some cheesecake to wash down the fish with.
“Let's go – discreetely!” Daniel advised. They all thanked Bill for the meal, and shot out of the back door to get changed into their gear.
Like Master Revolver, Mobster Marion thought it was a good idea to have a celebration when she got released from gaol.
Her celebration however had been a bit more lawful. A nice party in her gated mansion hurt no one.
Until the Death Valley Gang arrived and all-out war had started, endangering the nearby populace.
“Just concentrate on getting people out of here!” Giggles said to Chuckles.
“Right!” Chuckles nodded. He ducked underneath a barrage of bullets, heading into a nearby home while Giggles helped a family out of the top-storey window of their home. They took them to the end of a nearby cul-de-sac where they would be safe, and where Lady Luck could look them over for any injuries.
The heroes were going okay until Mobster Marion sent out her bayonet squadron. It was a lot more difficult for the heroes to go unnoticed, especially when both Mobster Marion and Master Revolver declared them targets too.
“WHY did we get involved in this?!” Sir Dark yelped as he dodged another bullet.
“Because innocent lives and nobility and because we're freaking insane!” Sir Lionheart replied, nearly getting skewered with a bayonet.
“How many people left?”
“Too many!”
Sir Hyper ran screaming from one of the bayonets, while Lady Courage tried fighting fire with fire and was taking on two of the Gangsters.
“This is insane! I've seen skirmishes between the DVG and Mob before, but this is beyond that!” Giggles hid with Chuckles behind a house.
“Do you think this has anything to do with that Mobster helicopter saving Revolver last week?” Chuckles asked.
“It could very well do. Maybe Revolver took it as an insult.” Giggles replied, sticking her head out to check what was going on. She fired the Lucky Seven Gun at the feet of a few goons, trying to get them away from Lady Courage and Sir Hyper.
“This is way out of our league!” Sir Hyper yelped as he hid with the others.
“Where are Sir Lionheart and Sir Dark?” Lady Courage asked frantically.
“They're stuck over there with those people. They can't get them out of to the cul-de-sac without getting them killed!” Giggles groaned.
“We could provide a distraction.” Chuckles piped up.
“NO.” Giggles flattened his suggestion. “We'd get killed instantly, and then those poor innocents would get polished off. There simply wouldn't be enough time.”
“If they get distracted, then we've got to try.” Chuckles pointed out.
“Well isn't this a mess?” Said a booming voice that caused a temporary lull in the battle.
“Come on!” Chuckles grabbed Giggles, who was furious. Damn the Improbability Clause!
“So, you're Demon.” Master Revolver stepped forward from the group of Death Valley Gangsters, approaching the newcomer who had walked calmly into the fray. “You're the one who's been keeping the pests busy for us.”
“I don't approve of their meddling in things that children should stay out of.” Demon replied. “You'll understand I'm sure.”
“What do you want?!” Yelled Mobster Marion from one of the mansion windows.
“I want back up. I want to know I can count on the two most powerful fighting forces in Pleasantville to back me when I take on the Pleasantville Council.” Demon stated.
“Whatever.” Master Revolver rolled his eyes. “Get lost freak.”
“Do NOT mess with me Revolver. I will kill you if I must.” Demon warned.
“I'd like to see you try.” Master Revolver smirked, snapping his fingers. Four of the Death Valley Gangsters surrounded him, protecting their master.
“Hmm.” Demon smiled his sick smile.
Meanwhile, the heroes had almost gotten the last of the unintended hostages out of the danger area and back to Lady Luck.
“Almost there! Keep moving!” Sir Lionheart hissed, trying to keep the small crowd inconspicuous.
“Don't you “hmm” me. Show some respect for the most feared criminal in the city!” Master Revolver growled.
Loud laughter was heard from the mansion. Mobster Marion couldn't help herself after hearing that last declaration!
“Shut up Marion!” Master Revolver barked.
Meanwhile, the plan had worked. The hostages were free and the heroes were safe.
“I am NEVER doing anything like that again!” Sir Dark flopped onto the ground, head pounding.
“That was far too close for comfort.” Sir Lionheart agreed. “If it wasn't for the Improbability Clause we'd be in huge trouble.”
Giggles pouted.
“Yeah.” Chuckles wiped his brow. He looked back towards where the battle had been. “Oh NO!”
Sapphire had arrived and was standing close to where the battle had been.
“Grandpa no, you've just recovered from your heart attack!” Chuckles groaned.
He ran towards the old man, who was heading towards the battle armed with two knives.
Giggles ran after them, trying to get the Backpack to work. She pulled out the Lucky Seven Gun, hoping she wouldn't have to use it.
“Well look who else has arrived. Hello Sapphire.” Demon sneered as the old hero walked slowly towards them.
“GRANDPA NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Chuckles screamed.
“So that's why the rat has your arm thingies.” Demon looked down his nose at Chuckles.
Master Revolver backed off. He didn't want any part of this battle. He'd done what he wanted to do, and that was to put the Mobsters of Misneach on notice.
“I'll settle with you later Marion!” He roared.
“Up yours too sunshine!” Was the polite reply.
“Have fun with the old man.” Master Revolver sneered at Demon, before taking his small army and leaving.
Sapphire attacked first, but the heart attack plus his bad hips had slowed him down significantly. Demon dodged far too easily, and shoved Sapphire to the ground.
“GRANDPA!” Screamed Chuckles, but it was far too late. Demon stomped on one of Sapphires frail wrists, breaking it easily. With the knife that had come loose from the old mans hand, he stabbed his prey squarely in the chest.
Finally the Backpack was going to behave! Giggles flew furiously towards Demon, ready to belt the living daylights out of the man. Demon ducked her first swoop, before throwing his boomerang after her. It clipped her arm, but she couldn't feel the pain over her fury. One boot to the chest had him sprawled on the ground
Realising that fighting Chuckles and Giggles alone was a bad idea, Demon quickly set off one of his smoke bombs and escaped.
“GRANDPA!” Chuckles was still screaming. He fell to his knees next to his beloved grand-father. “WHAT WAS THE POINT?! WHAT WAS THE FREAKING POINT?!”
Sapphire looked up at his grand-son. “At least…we were willing to try.”
The howls of pain from his devastated grand-son echoed hauntingly through the night.

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